Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Other Half of the World

I got my hearing aids on Wednesday of last week. They're very small and hard to see, but it definitely takes a little while to get used to having something in my ears all the time. I told Mr. T that taking them off in the evening was like taking off my bra at the end of the day, but he couldn't relate.

Wow, I had no idea just how much I was missing! I did not know that when I pressed the button on my key fob to lock my car, it beeps! Now I tell the boys to turn the television down, instead of asking them to turn it up!

The aids also have this neat little program that allows me to dampen out background noise if I'm in a crowded place. I press a little button and the background noise is much lower, but speech isn't affected. So when we're at a crowded restaurant or basketball game, I can hear people who aren't right next to me. I feel so much more engaged in what's going on around me. I think the weirdest part is hearing myself talk -- I hear myself in my head as normal, but then I hear an amplified me as well, kind of echoey.

It really is like a whole other half of the world appeared out of nowhere. I love it, but part of me feels really sad that I didn't do this earlier, or that it wasn't done FOR me when I was a kid. Water, bridge, sigh.

One of the events this weekend where the aids were a great boon was the bike team's annual awards banquet. Mr. T is president of the team this year, and Sr. Jr. received two awards, even though he is technically no longer a team member. He won the Junior Racer of the Year award and the Novice Cyclocross Racer of the Year award. I think he will miss racing with this team, even though he will love the new one. The new team is all kids under 19 years old. It's nice that he will have kids his age who are as passionate about bike racing as he is, but I loved that all the guys on the old team took him under their wings and mentored him. They were a great bunch of adult male role models for him.

As usual, not a lot of knitting or spinning time, but things progress in between all the other things that go on.

The handspun sweater marches slowly downward. I'm a little concerned that the armholes might be too small, but no one who has knit this pattern before has complained about that, so I'll just have faith.

As I work on this handspun sweater, I'm spinning yarn for another one. I'm not quite sure yet what I'll knit. As I was spinning the second of the two skeins I've finished so far, I was concerned that it was not going to match very well with the first, which would give me quite th Frankensweater. After I plied it up and skeined it, I was less worried. Nonetheless, I may spin up some plain white yarn in case I want to break up the colors a bit by knitting a striped sweater. Even that has me concerned, since I'm not sure that striping this yarn with white yarn is the best way to go. I'll figure it out at some point, I'm sure.

Here are the skeins so far (the fiber is from Southern Cross Fibre, a shetland wool in a colorway called Timberwolf):

And here they are with a swatch I knit from a test skein:

It's very different than the stuff I usually knit for myself. Outside my color safety zones and my patterning safety zones. But I kind of like it. We'll see how it turns out. I hope I don't hate it, because knitting a handknit sweater takes a lot of work!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Really? It's been that long since I wrote here? Sigh. It seems like I blink and half a year has gone by. I'm trying to remember where I was so I can bring you up to date.

Everything continues along fine... boys doing well in school, active in their sports (it's basketball time for Jr. Jr. and always cycling time for Sr. Jr.) and other activities. The holidays were fun, even if there wasn't much in the way of knitting or spinning time (more on that later).

In other "Really?" news, I finally went in to get my hearing checked. I've had a hearing deficit since I was a kid, mostly in my left ear. My parents thought it was due to fluid in my ears/high fevers as a child/ear infections. It wasn't bad enough to keep me from functioning, more of an occasional annoyance. My mother always told me that it wasn't the type of hearing loss that a hearing aid would help.

Well, that turns out not to be true. When I said something about it to my father over the summer he said, "No, that's not the case. Your mother just wanted you to learn how to lip-read." Really? I remember going to lip-reading classes when I was very young, like 4 or 5, and hating every minute of it. I can't lip-read.

But my hearing has been getting worse and it's gotten to the point where I really felt like I was missing a lot of stuff. One on one, I'm usually fine, but put me in a loud restaurant or with a group of people, and it becomes very hard for me. Our house is on the biggish side, so with kids talking to me from different rooms, with music playing, etc., it becomes very hard for me to hear them.

So I bit the bullet and went. What I learned was very interesting. I learned that my hearing loss is not because of any scarring of the eardrum or because of the bones in my middle ear, but is in the cochlea, in the inner ear. There is now hearing loss in both ears, in what is called a "cookie bite" pattern, meaning that my hearing is better for the really low frequencies (vowel sounds) and the really high frequencies (consonant sounds), and pretty terrible at everything in between. This (and the fact that my right ear is somewhat better than my left) has been my saving grace all along, as the things I hear better are the things that make up speech.

Apparently, this cookie bite pattern is more indicative of a genetic hearing loss than a loss due to an injury from infection, etc.

I mentioned this to my father, who said, "I'm trying to figure out who gave this to you. I have hearing loss, as did my mother, but that's from the diabetes (they both developed type II later in life) and my hearing didn't start to go bad until I was in my 40s." Um, Dad, REALLY? You didn't develop the diabetes until you were in your 60s and HOW OLD AM I??

The potentially bad news is that my left ear may not regain acuity, even with a hearing aid, because it's gone unaided for so long that the neural connections may not be able to form. We'll see. The doctor said that I was young enough that it was possible I could overcome that.

So I go in tomorrow to get some hearing aids. Should be interesting to see how I adjust and how much of a difference it makes.


I finished my sweater spin, finally! I even started knitting the sweater. I love it.

I already started spinning yarn for another sweater. I'm not sure how that one will turn out (more colorful, as opposed to tonal like this one), but we'll see.

I finished Pipit, too, and I also love it! This sweater is so comfortable and so versatile. I wish I could wear it every day. The pattern was fun and interesting to knit, too.

And just so the spinning doesn't get shortchanged, here's pics of the Cupcake Fiber spinning that I showed you last time all spun up:

Right now, as always, I want to knit and spin all the things, but have very little time to do any of it. I really want to finish the handspun sweater, because I think that will be fabulous to wear! At this rate, however, and with the "winter" we're having, I won't get to wear it until next year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Here I was, all ready to start blogging regularly again, and my computer crashed. Crashed hard. Crashed so hard that I almost stumped the nice Geeks on Call guy who helped recover most of the data on my hard drive. Have all my knitting patterns, all my pictures, but none of my emails (I think) and not my calendar. I still need to work on those to see if I can find that data.

As a result, new computer.

Thanksgiving was the usual. That weekend we went to Charlottesville so the T boys could compete in the Virginia State Cyclocross Championships. All of them did respectably well, given their competition (e.g. the 19 year old phenom in Sr. Jr.'s race, and the fact that he's now on the younger end of his competitive age range). We didn't realize that the Virginia/Virginia State game was that same weekend, so we avoided going downtown Saturday evening.

The holidays are approaching and I'm feeling really grinchy. I have no idea what to get anyone. The boys want video games that I won't let them play, or gadgets that they probably shouldn't have. Mr. T is terrible to shop for. He doesn't like stuff that one would normally think of getting for guys. All he wants is bike stuff, and I can't get him that. I default to getting him sweaters, but he really does not need anymore of those. And no, I'm not knitting him one. I knit him a hat and he barely tolerates wearing it, so I'm not putting all that energy into a sweater that will not be appreciated.

Mr. T's firm party is next week, and I have to make the annual trek to find a dress to wear. "Wear something you wore before," he says, and then wonders why I laugh.

I've been knitting and spinning, but not that much (time of year...) I'm working on spinning enough yarn for a sweater. Hopefully I can do this. The first skein is done and finished. The singles for the second skein are done, but not plied up. I need to finish the bobbin of other stuff that I'm spinning on my other wheel before I can do the plying. In the meantime, I've started spinning the singles for the third skein. The challenge is to try to spin the skeins so they match in gauge.

These may look familiar to you. They may remind you of the yarn I used to knit Mr. T's hat. It's from the same dyer, All Spun Up. I'm mulling over patterns and modifications to patterns, but I really have to wait until all the yarn is spun up and I know what gauge it will knit to before I make any decisions.

I'm also spinning these adorable Cupcake Fiber Co. sock batts:

I've finished two socks, and started their mates. (I do not know why the text has turned blue.)

That blue sock is the most recent installment of the Cookie A sock club. I'm trying to finish it up before December's package comes. Got a reprieve today, since it seems the pattern for December won't sent out until the 20th. Whew!

Finally, Pipit. I haven't knit it in a few days, but I'm having fun with it. You start at the center back and knit down to the wrist. Then you pick up stitches and knit toward the other wrist. Pick up some more stitches and knit a bit of a front neckline, then knit around and down. Hopefully I can have some pictures to show you soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Still Life!

Yes, I'm still alive! I don't quite know what happened or why I haven't posted before now. I've certainly thought about it a lot, but never quite mustered the momentum to sit down and write. I will do it now, and hopefully it will make it easier for me to start posting regularly again.

I think part of the silence was that our summer was very nice. Who knew that a summer without a bar mitzvah, an international trip, deaths, broken bones, and family issues could be so nice? About halfway through the summer I noticed that I was in a good mood compared to the summer before. What a revelation! I did a lot of knitting, spinning, and running this summer.

It was just an ordinary summer. Sr. Jr. spent 2 weeks at cycling camp down in Charlottesville, which he LOVED. Two weeks with a bunch of kids who loved cycling as much as he did and professional and semi-professional riders and coaches. He was in heaven.

We spent July 4th weekend with my father and his wife, along with my brother, his girlfriend, and their dog to celebrate my father's 75th birthday. Again -- we had a surprisingly nice time. Travel to and from the Hamptons was shockingly unpainful. Everyone was pretty mellow and had fun.

We went back to Hilton Head again for our summer vacation. We rent a house pretty much on the beach and ride bikes, go for long walks, play golf, go fishing, spin, knit, relax.

The school year has started off well. Sr. Jr. seems to be adapting to his first year of high school very well. First quarter report cards are going to be mailed out tomorrow, but so far he knows he has straight As (although there's one grade he doesn't know about yet). He's not working too hard at it, either. Friends of mine who've had kids go through this high school have complained about how much homework their kids had and how hard they worked, but Sr. Jr. seems to manage it all just fine.

Jr. Jr. is in his last year of elementary school. When he starts middle school next year, I'm going to feel really old. On the other hand, I'm ready to be done with our elementary school, for many reasons. Mostly, I'm ready for Jr. Jr. to mature a little bit more. He's funny and smart and cute, but a little bit on the immature side. I think that changing schools and having more expected of him will help.

The big family news is that Sr. Jr. will be joining a junior elite bike racing team after the new year. Up until now, he's been riding with Mr. T's team, which is more like a club than a team. It's a great group of people, and they support each other very well, but each rider is really on his own as far as development and racing goes.

The new team is just for juniors, with a coach who puts all her efforts into developing junior cyclists into strong riders. She plans their training and their racing with an eye to getting them into big races and Nationals, and eventually to be noticed by professional teams.

I don't know how any of this will pan out for Sr. Jr., but he's talented and committed. I think just being on a team with other kids will be good for him.

But now we've reached the time of year when there's so much going on that I don't get enough time to knit or spin and get a little cranky. Hopefully it won't last too long.

(Jr. Jr. just got home, so I'm going to fast forward, and get to the pretty pictures)

Things I've knit and spin since my last, long-forgotten post:

Stripe Study shawl:

Variance Cowl (with handspun yarn):

Orange Pekoe socks (Cookie A sock club):

Calendula Socks (for Camp Loopy):

GUSH socks (yeah, bad pic):

Fat Cat Knits Esther (spinning):

Squoosh Polwarth (spinning)

Fat Cat Knits Spinach Souffle (spinning)

A shawl I named "Cranky Bones" because I was sick of knitting it (pattern name was Boneyard Shawl; knit for Camp Loopy)

Collins --

Southern Cross batt (Red Plum):

All Spun Up merino/alpaca fiber (love this -- currently spinning more of this for a sweater):

I took that yarn and knit a hat for Mr. T (Windschief), which has been deemed slightly too unboring for him and is modeled here by Sr. Jr.:

I finally finished Drifting! I'm not sure if I like it, and I still don't have any pictures of it on me:

Grave Clothes (Two if By Hand fiber, wish I'd spun it differently)

And last, but not least -- Space Invaders (fiber from Bee Mice Elf):

Sooo, that's what I've been up to for the last 5 months.

Coming soon (really, I promise) -- what I'm working on NOW :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rushing Through

Been very busy lately. End of school, visits from in laws, etc. Leaving to go visit my family in a bit. Tomorrow is a party for my friend Marie, who's back from Germany for a quick visit.

Survived the end of school, barely. I can't believe Sr. Jr. will be in high school next year. And Jr. Jr. will be in 5th grade, almost out of elementary school! Yikes.

We missed Sr. Jr.'s promotion ceremony or whatever it was because he was off competing at Junior US Cycling Nationals! I think it was a real eye-opener for him. He only started road racing this year as a way to stay in shape for cyclocross season. But he did so well that he qualified for Nationals. Even though the competition took place the last week of school, all the academics were completed by then, so how could we say no?

He did great. He came in pretty middle of the pack over all, but was competing against kids with a lot more experience than he had. He's still a Cat 5 racer, and some of these kids were Cat 4 and Cat 3 racers. Some had been to Nationals before, so the whole experience wasn't new and intimidating to them. Among the other Cat 5 racers, he did pretty well.

Historically, Sr. Jr. has been known to get discouraged and give up on things if he isn't doing as well as he'd like. So I was a little worried that he would come home from Nats discouraged and ready to quit. But that hasn't happened. He wants to do more races, upgrade to Cat 4, keep training, and go back next year. I'm very proud of him for this; it's a sign of maturity. I hope it is, anyway.

And he appears to have grown another inch in the 5 days he was gone.

The crafty stuff has been hit or miss lately. Little bits get done, here and there. Socks get finished, but they don't necessarily match:

On the left: Cookie A sock club pattern "Orange Pekoe" in Hazel Knits Artisan sock "Oh My Darling." Love this pattern.

On the right: Yarnissima Mystery Sock KAL pattern "GUSH," in Wollmeise Twin, Lila Ludmilla. Also a great pattern.

I haven't even cast on for the second socks yet.

There was not a lot of spinning, just finished up one skein, that will hopefully be used for a Spin/Knitalong, if I have enough yardage:

Sanguine Gryphon Fiber Club installment 2, merino/cashmere/nylon, 2 ply.

I've been plugging away on the Camp Loopy shawl. Soooo sick of garter stitch. There are supposed to be 12 wedges of dark green, but I was running out of yarn, so I did the 12th wedge in the lighter color with the thin stripe of green. I think this will look neat, too.

Between knit-free trips and weeks with kids at home, I don't expect to get too much done other than bits here and there. Ah summertime.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Ah, the end of the year. School functions and parties and finals and surprise visitors and Nationals and trips and and and brain explosions.

Last week was Jr. Jr.'s school's Colonial Day, which is a huge production that the kids and teachers work on for months. They turn the back yard of the school into a little Colonial Williamsburg, with the kids as the re-enactors. It's really cute. The kids learn so much more about colonial life from this approach than they would just by reading a textbook. The exhibits focus on all (non-political) aspects of colonial life, including agriculture, industry, schooling, music, and dance. The kids learn the Virginia Reel and a minuet, and then the parents get to dance with them too. I loved dancing with both my boys -- I think that was my favorite part of the event.

Jr. Jr. was part of the school display, and acted the part of the dunce:

He played with some Colonial games:

And I got an awesome picture of him NOT making any silly faces:

Back when Sr. Jr. did Colonial Day, they discussed how the colonists spun their own wool and cotton, but all they had was one broken spinning wheel. This year, they had actual spinning demonstrators there, and they were a huge hit. Every time I went by them, they were surrounded by kids who were fascinated by the wool and the wheel. The demonstrators gave them bits of wool and had them twist it up to show how twist makes the fiber stronger, and even let them treadle the wheels. It was great to see.

Parties and busy times over the weekend, but I did finally manage to ply up the yarn I'd been spinning:

Multicolored skein is FatCatKnits merino in Leafeater. Mini purple skein is BeeMiceElf merino in Thistle. The purple will be the heel and toe, the multi for the main body of the socks.

But I have to finish other socks before I can start those...

Like the Yarnissima mystery sock, for example. The third clue came out this morning so I quickly knit it up so I could see if my jiggering to make it fit would work (spoiler: it did):

I also abandoned the last Cookie A sock, the one I showed in my last post. I wasn't enjoying knitting it, I wasn't thrilled with the design, and the June installment showed up and wowed me, so I cast on for that:

And just in case all that wasn't enough knitting to do, I got sucked into Camp Loopy, a little knitalong/contest thing being run by The Loopy Ewe. The first project is supposed to be a two colored shawl or scarf, and I've wanted to knit a Stripe Study shawl for a while anyway, so...

Great! You think. She must be looking forward to having a lot of knitting time. Ha! I say. My mother-in-law arrives tomorrow for a long weekend visit. She'll have my sister-in-law and nephew with her. All of them stay here Thursday night, then my SIL and nephew head out to my father-in-law's for the rest of the weekend. Mr. T and the boys are going to spend all day Saturday at the US Open, so I was looking forward to having the whole day to knit and spin and enjoy some quiet, but now, not so much. (Did I mention that Friday's my birthday?)

Next week, Mr. T and Sr. Jr. head off to Augusta so that Sr. Jr. can compete in the Junior cycling national championships. I'm so excited for him! I'm bummed that I won't be there to see it, and I'm hoping that Mr. T gives me frequent updates (hint hint).

Not long after that, we head to New York for my father's 75th birthday. I'm tired just typing all this out!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mood Indigo

First there was the Time of Green. Then there was my Blue Period. Now, Mood Indigo. I seem to be moving around the rainbow.

One of our cats had surgery last week for bladder stones. Her recovery period hasn't been entirely smooth, so I've been preoccupied with her and haven't had as much time to knit or spin lately.

But I have been working, ever so slowly, on a bunch of (purplish) projects. This month's Cookie A sock club project hasn't been going very quickly. I knit up a bunch of it on the called-for needles but it was too tight, so I ripped it all out and started over on slightly larger ones. It's still a slow knit, however, and so this is all I've got in the week before the next pattern comes out:

It's about 3/4 of one leg. I already received the yarn for the next installment, so I need to get moving.

In the meantime, I started another sock, this one a mystery pattern from Yarnissima, who has some amazing sock designs. The first clue was for the toe:

Cute, huh? And very purple. It's Wollmeise in Lila Ludmilla. Yes, it's the same color as shown in the pattern. I swear on all that is fibery that I didn't set out to do the pattern in this color. I went down to my stash closet with two requirements -- that the yarn be Twin (with nylon) as opposed to 100% (no nylon) and that it be a solid or semi-solid color. This was the first skein I pulled out of the Wollmeise bags that fit both requirements.

The second clue was just published today, so I'll start on that soon.

And look at my spinning --

Purples and greens and yellows, oh my! The little purple bobbin on the side is the 1 ounce bit of purple that will be the heel and toe skein. I plied that up this morning after the photo shoot, but I don't know when I'll have the concentrated time needed to ply up that big bobbin.

And moving right along... now that I finished Mary Jane, I cast on for a new sweater. The pattern is Drifting, by Cecily Glowik-MacDonald, a light little cardi to throw on in summer if I need a little warmth:

Not pure purple, but definitely a purplish-red, no?

(The next color in the Cookie A club is orange. Bright orange. I do not foresee myself having an Orange Thing.)

It's a busy time of year, so the knitting and spinning will continue to slow down. We've got baseball playoffs, Colonial Day, end-of-year parties, visits from family, visits to family, etc. Sr. Jr. has Nationals coming up, too! I'm so excited for him, and sorry that I can't be there with them.

So I'll just pick up what I can and try to have fun things to show.