Knitting ala MacGyver or thank you Dr Anderson

I never thought those long, painful, humiliating hours in the dentist’s chair getting bridge work done would have impact on my knitting.

But… let me show you the best tool for adding beads to lace weight yarn.

Yeah really!

First load the straight end with beads (I’m using 8mm beads on the MD Shawl), then bend the tip about 1/4 of an inch and it’s perfect for picking the stitch up off the needle. Slide your bead over the stitch by pinching the bent end together with the straight end. Then drop the stitch back on your needle. The remainder of the beads won’t slide off because of the big loop on the end.



written 3/20/08

I’ve long been a fan of the serendipitous moments in life and in books.
Last week while reading the tail end of War and Peace I finally read the passage where Aunt Anna finished knitting. I had Chris’s second STR Haida sock in my purse.

Pierre went into the children, and the shrieks and laughter were louder than ever. “Now, Anna Makarovna,” cried Pierre’s voice, “here in the middle of the room and at the word of my command – one, two, and when I say three, you stand here. You in my arms. Now, one, two….” there was complete silence. “Three!” and an enthusiastic roar of children’s voices rose in the room. “Two! Two!” cried the children.
• They meant the two stockings, which, by a secret only known to here, Annna Makarovna used to knit on her needles at once. She always made a solemn ceremony of pulling one stocking out of the other in the presence of the children when the pair was fininshed.

Maybe I’ll have to try that knitting two socks at once some day. It’s a crowd pleaser.

On Thursday morning it happened again. I’m reading Miles from Nowhere. The subtitle is “A Round-the-world Bicycle Adventure” and is the travel memoir of Barbara and Larry Savage. My knit-sib Cathy loaned me this touching book. She’d read it following her own bicycle adventures through New Zealand and Australia in the mid 1980’s. Cathy rocks!

In the early pages of Miles from Nowhere, after Barb and Larry quit their jobs and sold everything to finance their two year sojourn, they begin their ride on Highway 1 in California. Several years ago Chris and I drove this same road on vacation and as I read of Barb and Larry’s encounters with grueling winds I wondered if I could have ridden that road on two wheels.
Now in Chapter Seven they have left the UP (for us a more recent vacation – again not on two wheels) and entered the Finger Lakes Region of New York.
My excitement soared! We’re planning to ride The Bon Ton Roulet in July. A week on our tandem touring upstate New York. Wine country. The seat of American Feminism. And where Barb and Larry encounter their first frost of the season.
I imagine this is probably the last geographic serendipitous moment in Miles from Nowhere for me. Last fall was our first time to travel by tandem. But we were hooked and have agreed to do more. In traveling the world, Barb and Larry Savage had more adventurous goals than I, but I’d love to take our tandem to Europe and beyond. Traveling by bike slows your pace and increases your physical connection to the larger world. You stop and talk to strangers. You avoid the big cities which are the usual destination spots and encounter the small towns and countryside, along with the people who live there. It’s a beautiful and exciting way to travel.
3/24/08 notes
Actually I’m so slow in posting this that another serendipity moment occurred today in Miles to Nowhere. The author is riding through Morocco. I’m beginning the Moroccan Days Shawl. Okay it’s a stretch but still…..

Allow me to introduce you to my inner geek.

Blog world – meet Organizer Girl.

I’m sure everyone has a side of themself that jumps into overdrive just before a big knitting project is being tackled. For me, it involves a trip to Office Depot. Wandering down the aisles looking for just the right tools is fun. Yes, tools. These tools, just like jump rings and the right needles, will make my knitting experience better. At least that’s my rationalization.
First step is to make a color copy of every page of the pattern. That goes into a plastic folder in the file cabinet for safekeeping. I’ve been known to lose a page of instructions or spill coffee on a chart.
Safety first.
Sixteen pages of instructions for the Moroccan Days Arabian Nights Shawl require a binder. Clear view or basic white? D ring or C ring? It needs to lie flat. The soft clear binder is lighter in weight than the basic white binder but I could get two of the white ½ inch for the same price of one of the fancy light clear ones. The project may be toted in my knitting bag from time to time so I decide to splurge on the light-weight clear binder.
Sheet protectors are a must. I’ve got one or two at home but a new package is a wise investment.
That’s simple enough. Check out and rush home to play with my new school supplies.
I mean tools.
The color page with photos and finished measurements etc. goes into the binder cover pocket. That way I can spot it easy on the couch. There’s a small pocket inside the cover that in the non-knitting world holds business cards or CD’s. Perfect spot for my swatch.
Ohhhh the ride is gettin’ good.
I spread out the pages then group the charts together. Stitch notes go in another pile. A bit of cutting and taping is required since a few inches of written chart directions are on the same page as stitch notes. That’s fine I have scissors and tape (yes, in a nice dispenser). Schematic and Legend are put on a page alone. Everything gets a sheet protector.
I feel my mojo rushing.
Now to organize the flow of pages. Stitches notes – five pages. Schematic and legend can go next. Then the charts. Then the written translation of the charts.
I close my nice new Moroccan Days/Arabian Nights binder with the sigh of a job well done.
Then I crack it open again. Yep. This will do nicely.

If only the lace knitting will go so smoothly.

Miles to go….

1900 yards equals 1.0795455 miles according to my trusty widget.

Last night at the wine bar (shouldn’t knit nights be always be held in wine bars?) as Cathy fondled my yarn for the Moroccan Days Arabian Nights Shawl she asked, “Have you ever balled this much yarn before?” Then in response to my horror stricken silence added, “It could take you a while.”

Not too bad though. Twenty minutes and probably the easiest part of the project was complete. I held my breath as the swift got close to the end of the skein. The yarn barely fit on the spool.

Bead shopping yesterday with Hillarey was a bust. Nothing in the exact size and not enough beads in any single color. This morning I ordered beads from Foxden, in both a topaz and an olive 8/0. Once they arrive I’ll decide which color to use. Choosing the color from an online source is a bit scary but the prices are very reasonable – especially for 5000 beads.

This week I’ll knit the swatches and finish up Chris’s socks while I wait for the beads to arrive.


It’s after 10pm. It was knit night at the wine bar. I’ve made it through the day without anyone wishing me happy saint patrick’s day. I’m happy. I didn’t have to respond with happy-kill-the-indigenous-priest-day.


I ripped open the Moroccan Days Arabian Night Shawl kit before I even left the post office. People surely thought I might be a bit kooky as I fondled the skein, turned it this way and that. I’m only 80% certain that I didn’t make any of those deep throat groans of joy. You know the ones.
The color is not what I’d expected. The photos on the designer’s site look more red/gold. This is green/gold. And it’s even better! Green is has always been my favorite color and this stole will see much more wear with green in it than it would have with red.
Sixteen pages of instructions! Oiy veh. It’s detailed. I’m going to take this one very slow. No knitting in cars. No knitting while watching TV. I told Chris this may take a year to knit. His eyebrows went up a bit, “We may have a new house built before you finish this.”


I was weak. The crazed gals at Lime and Violet are Enablers. I signed up for the Daily Chum and dang if they didn’t have me chomping at the chum when I saw Moroccon Days Arabian Nights Shawl. Warm rich gold lace with amber glass beads. It’s stunning. Not two days had passed before I’d bought the kit. Then the wait began.
All week I worked industriously on the socks expecting the package to be at the PO when I got back to Tulsa. Friday arrived but….there was nothing in my PO box. No little yellow card telling me to go to the desk and pick up my package. But I went anyway. David, the nice mail clerk, double-checked for me. Nothing. Zip.
Finally I got a tracking email Friday afternoon that the kit had been sent. Did you know that the USPS will provide tracking updates by email? Yeah. Saturday morning I didn’t even bother going to the PO because the kit was coming from New Hampshire. Saturday afternoon, after the PO closed at noon, I got the update that the kit had arrived at my zip code. It arrived at 6:31am! The kit could have been in my hands, beads bought, swatches knitted. Ugh. The USPS has some tweaking to do on this tracking update process.
Today I’ll work on the second of Christopher’s Haida STR ribbed sock. It’s my basic toe-up pattern. Knit knit knit. Monday is coming.

At two am this morning I finished War & Peace. The second part of the Epilogue was exhausting. Love Tolstoy’s writing except – that fricking section II Epilogue in which he gets on a lecturer’s soapbox. Beautiful book but that last thirty pages made me ready to finish. That and the people at the coffee shop. I never knew how much people check the titles of other people’s reading material. But suddenly I’ve got several people, who I barely know or simply recognize from just seeing around, talking to me about W&P. One speed-read it years ago and admits that she missed most of the finer points of the novel. Ya think? Heck she said this right after I’d read the same paragraph four times trying to get my head wrapped around it. I’m not a scholar, I’m just your average book addict with quiet winters.
Another woman asked me, hands on hips, why I was reading W&P. “Uhhhh,” I stumbled, “I like the Russians?” (Really I do like Russian novels. I always imagine it’s the long cold winters they spend crafting beautiful thought provoking sentences and stories that makes them so good.) This chick hovering over me as I sat sipping coffee was disturbing. She reminded me of her status as a Librarian, and her English degree. She has not read War & Peace. It was like she was questioning my right to read such a serious book. Without thought the words popped out of my mouth, “Yeah, well I’m a college drop out. Go figure.”

Now I’m often accused of not editing before speaking. A lot. Usually the result is jumbled sentences, tangents, and half thoughts. Snarky seldom happens. I’m not that witty. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of Anthony Bourdain though. I’d love to think some of his bite is wearing off on me. Doubtful. I’ll just savor it as one of the few shining moments of my life. Score one for the undereducated.