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Archive for May, 2013

Spanish knitting looms

Spanish knitting looms

I received a gift today from my most excellent enabling friends in the Ravelry loom knitting group: knitting looms all the way from Spain. They are essentially Knifty Knitter clones, except for their colors and one major difference: they are capable of two gauges. They are set at the same gauge as the Knifty Knitters, but between each peg is a hole for another peg. With the additional holes filled by pegs, you now have a loom able to do small gauge knitting. Only a few knitting loom manufacturers were doing small gauges on this side of the pond: Decor Accents, which has been out of business long enough that finding one of their looms is a major score, and the price paid for the loom generally reflects that; and the Martha Stewart looms which, despite its many configurations, can only manage one size of circular loom. There were others, but, one by one, they’ve dropped out of sight. So these pretty, translucent pastel looms were a treasure. This gift was in thanks for my enabling the group to order their own looms from Spain. My Castilian Spanish is rusty (very rusty), but I can read and write it almost as well as I used to, so I helped get those orders in place for anyone in the group that wanted to buy them. We are an elite, well-trained, international group of enablers.

There are nine looms of varying sizes, four oval, five round. I’ve set all of the additional pegs; the next thing is to start a swatch on one of them and see how small the gauge actually is. Maybe I’ll get a chance to do that this weekend. It’ll be a nice way to spend some one-on-one time with Aneira. As expected, her time with the knitting needles was short, so I gave her the Knifty Knitter set I’d been holding onto for her, and that, she actually loved. Her birthday is early next month, and if I’d had any sense at all, I’d’ve held onto those looms and given them to her on her birthday, but she so wanted to spend time with me doing something together that I gave her the looms earlier. Once I showed her how, she was off and running!

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Smoky has come home.

Smoky has come home.

It has been that, both in good ways and horrific ones. Smoky has returned home, in a simple, pretty urn that resides on the window sill in front of my desk, where I can see her at any time, and my husband has done a beautiful job of painting the clay pawprint that the veterinary office made of her paw the day she died. Having her ashes here makes me feel as though she’s still with me in a way. I haven’t gotten used to having only three dogs instead of four. Every night at bedtime, when I call the dogs to bed, I always look for the fourth, though my brain at first always refuses to put a picture or name forward, but some part of me always knows there’s someone missing, and then it’s as though my memory gives up the fight and gives me the name.

Bandit took off on us this past Friday, but she didn’t follow her usual escape route, so we think she was actually looking for her sister. The two of them had never been apart, even sleeping in the same crate long after there was precious little room for them to do so. And this time, she was hit by a car. We don’t have any information as to who hit her. All we know is that a stranger knocked on our door to tell my husband that she had been hit. The same woman was there with two Humane Society officers when hubby went and found her. She was taken to our vet – fortunately, the new vet is almost directly across the street from our house, and Bandit was hit about halfway between our house and the office, so getting her there was quick. I came home from school and picked her up to take her back there, where all her injuries were catalogued and mostly repaired. I say “mostly” because she will have to have more surgery down the line. She is a very, very lucky dog. The most minor injury was that the tip of one of her canines broke off. She also dislocated her right hip, degloved her right thigh, and the tibiatarsal joint, what we would call the ankle, was exposed and thoroughly messed up. She had a small laceration on her head, and the muscle that connects the sternum to the pubis has been detached at the pubis. The surgery to reattach that muscle won’t happen until after the leg heals.

Luckily, her hip slipped back into place while she was being maneuvered for X-rays, and the rest of the leg injuries took up several hours of surgery, but she was stapled up, bandaged, and home the same night. Five days later, and she is hobbling around the house almost as though nothing happened. She will be in a splint for at least six weeks. A very lucky dog. I’ve never been so happy to be a student at this school. What surgery has already been done would have cost upwards of $4,000 had it been done at our vet’s office.

On a less traumatic note, I’ve gotten my grades on all but one of my midterms and thus far have passed them all. Amazingly, I’m sitting at a high B in A & P, which is better than I expected of myself by quite a bit! I’m dreading the one grade I don’t yet have: medical terminology. Normally, when it comes to words and languages, I’m pretty good at them, but med term is a lot harder than learning Spanish. In fact, the one language I ever took that I failed at almost immediately was Greek, and many of the words in medical terminology have Greek roots. It just means I’m going to have to work harder.

To reward myself for passing, and to keep myself busy while worrying over Bandit, I wove a couple of triangles on the triangle loom. One I did in acrylic yarn, the other two in cotton. I like the open, lacy look of the cotton ones better, but the crochet hook doesn’t have a deep enough hook to catch the cotton yarn well, so the yarn is constantly getting split as I pull it through and I have to back up and try again, which didn’t happen with the acrylic for some reason, and that’s odd, as the cotton is the same weight as sock yarn, and the acrylic is a thicker worsted weight.

I haven’t decided what I’ll do with the triangle loom yet as far as projects go. The triangles I made were more in the line of experimentation than the start of any particular project, to see what they’d look like when finished. Now that I know, I’ll have a picture in my head for any plans.

Aneira asked me for knitting lessons a couple of weeks ago, which came as a surprise, so when we went to a meetup at a yarn store I’d never been to, Holly’s House, I bought her some Addi Turbo needles and let her get some yarn. The needles are good ones, but inexpensive. My reasoning was that they would likely become my needles in short order, and it’s looking like I may have been right. Aneira spent about an hour trying to knit the other night before deciding it was “too hard”. I remember learning to knit from my own mother at about the same age. In my case, it wasn’t too hard, it was too slow. I knew how, and I could do it, I just didn’t want to. Aneira, though, is another story. She doesn’t like to have to work at anything, on top of a fairly short attention span. After an hour of knitting, she decided to do friendship bracelets instead. Within twenty minutes of starting that project, braiding was too hard also. She did eventually finish one bracelet, but I haven’t heard a murmur about the other four she promised her friends she would make. I have a feeling that a lesson in keeping one’s promises is soon to be forthcoming, and I’m going to have to press her into doing the other four. We’ve already had a discussion about the fact that she shouldn’t have promised to make bracelets for her friends if she wasn’t already certain she could.

Well, my homework is done, I’ve put the girls to bed, taken Bandit out to do her chores and put her to bed as well, so now it’s time to spend an hour with the hubby before we have to hit the hay also. See you soon, hopefully without any more disasters!

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I’m going to do something a little different today: a book review. Actually, it’s more of a series review than one single book, and it has nothing to do with crafts, at least not any that you generally find in my blog posts!

Anyone who knows me well knows how much a part of my life books are. My mom was a librarian; is it any wonder that I love books? My particular favorites all fall under the genre of fantasy. Epic fantasy, urban fantasy, it doesn’t matter. I’ll even occasionally read a paranormal romance, if the writing is good enough and avoids the sappy damsel in distress or the hell-bitch on wheels, pardon my French. But I came across a series recently, thanks to Pixel of Ink, that was so good, I had to buy every single one for my Kindle after only reading the first few pages of the first book.

The series, which is written by Debora Geary, starts with A Modern Witch. I thought it was going to be a paranormal romance. Truly, that thought had actually made me avoid clicking on the titles for awhile. For one thing, a lot of paranormal romance is nauseatingly cheesy. For another, a lot of it is written and self-published by people who really aren’t that good, and whose grammar and spelling make me cringe. You find a lot of it on websites that tell you about free and bargain books for your Kindle. So, as you might imagine, I was not in the market for more paranormal romance.

Finally, one night, in a fit of boredom, I clicked on the title. I used Amazon’s “look inside” function. And I was hooked.

This is not your typical paranormal romance.

The romance is there, don’t get me wrong!!! But it is not the main story, and didn’t even take place between the main two characters of the story! The main story was about a normal, average woman, a realtor, finding out she is a witch and getting trained so she doesn’t hurt herself or anyone else. Her trainer is a male witch who happens to fall in love with her best friend, a complete non-witch who can roll with any punch you send her way. But the romance takes a backseat to everything else, and there isn’t a single rated X or R scene in the book, which delighted me, because I generally skip the hot and heavy portion of any romance novel. My imagination can do a much better job if I need it to, thanks!

All of the books are alike in one way: they show the lives of these witches from the viewpoint of the everyday. None of them is arrogant or drunk on power. They’ve grown up with magic, and to them, it’s just another talent, like someone being a great baseball player or painter. The most powerful witch in the series is a four-year-old little boy named Aervyn, and he’s as down-to-earth and mischievous as any preschooler. He also has hearing aids – there’s a message in there: magic cannot fix everything. There are still the mundane problems like paying the bills, going to school or work, and oh, yeah, not losing control of your magic.

Debora Geary just gets to you with her writing. In every book – and I’ve read every last one and am now waiting for the seventh book with bated breath – she made me laugh, made me cry, made me cheer. And despite the possession of magic, there was no high drama, no death and devastation, no gore, it was just the everyday things that people go through, with a little something extra thrown into the mix. Falling in love, raising a family, running a business, and she makes you feel like you’re part of it, even though you can’t shoot flames from your fingers without a Zippo in hand. She wrote family, whether blood-related or not, with all the little quirks and foibles that drive you insane, but that you can laugh at in hindsight. Siblings that make you want to sock them, but who you’d defend to the death. Grandmothers who meddle and matchmake with abandon. Moms with the same eyes in the back of their heads that your own mom had.

I don’t think I’m really saying what I want to say. I’m not Siskel or Ebert here. The gist of it is that not reading these books (in order, if you please!) would be a monumental mistake. They are all manner of awesome. And if you don’t come out the other side absolutely believing in some kind of magic, you’ve got a harder heart than I do. Oh, and for the crafty: knitting figures prominently in the training of witches. Who knew?

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