Lovely Yarn Escapes

My Adventures in Knitting, truly my Yarn-escape!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Reyna Finished and Search for Mystery Series

     A couple days after my artist friend Rockey passed peacefully beyond I finished my Reyna Shawl in Malabrigo Mechita in Whales Road.  I did a good portion of it at his table, keeping him company or watching his monitor (he had opted to pass away at 87 at home).  I blocked it and wore it for the first time to his Memorial last Sunday.  Next Sunday the citywide Memorial is taking place and I'll wear it with my tie-dye dress and sing "Into The West" for him.

     I'm off to The Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York next week.   A yearly trek for all our family members.  I'll get to see my older kids that live back East (I live in Colorado) and enjoy endless woods and streams.  I'll be gone most of July so enjoy yourselves and knit away!

    I'm working on reading still "Track of the Cat" (Anna Pigeon Mysteries Book 1)  and I'll be looking for more in the series in my local used bookshop where I have lots of credit from turned in books.  I'm enjoying the mystery and I like the descriptions of nature throughout.  I thought a good book series for vacation.

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Lower Ausable Lake | by Tyler McCall

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Knitting with Rockey the Artist


(Note: I did take the beads off I put on last week, I found they distracted from the whole, the beauty of the knit itself.  But I learned how to add them to an open lacework in a shawl.)

      Back at the beginning of May, I was asked to join a caregiving team of Rockey's, an elderly local artist in Manitou Springs, Colorado.  He's a local legend in Manitou and I've been a family friend since his granddaughter and my oldest daughter were best friends through Junior and High School and I became friends with her parents.  I really have few qualifications but that Rockey's daughter knew I would be a peaceful addition with my knitting and reading (and Rockey liked my singing when I sang to the Seniors' lunches years ago).

      So for the past month and half, I've occupied a corner chair in front of his studio's window, at the round table, surrounded by his artwork and sculpture and I'd knit.  Sometimes he sat with me, drinking Earl Grey tea and watching the town pass by as the sun fades (I think these were the most special days).  His studio looked out onto a busy sidewalk filled with tourists and the town clock across the street and the Episcopal church at an angle down the street.

Rockey's Blue House

     Often tourists would peak into the window or knock to come in and see his art.  One memorable time a small boy was peeking in and I let the family in.  The room next door was set up as an informal store with prints on the wall.  But the studio/sitting room was filled with storybook villages, a man's sculpted torso reaching to the ceiling, curios stuffed in every corner and paintings on every square inch of wall.  It literally takes days to take it all in (and I was still discovering things on the last day, an overlooked painting of houses scattered hodgepodge up to the mountain in autumn tones I could have looked at forever).  Old man and the young boy met and the boy was filled with wonder.  After exploring he ran out, his family left, but after a few moments, he ran back in to tell Rockey a storm was coming (his mom said he had to tell him).  Rockey smiled.

     Lilacs graced his table in June, their scent strong.  Picked from the little green park surrounding the clock.  Friends regularly dropping by.  One cafe owner came by to play his guitar, Spanish music that Rockey would bob his head to and smile with his eyes closed.  Time kinda paused.  Rockey was adamant about having no schedule.  And I knit.

     Later he would be lying down and I'd watch from a small monitor we would hide from him.  A balance to keep his privacy, give him space but protect him too.

     Throughout it all I knit.  I had my tablet open to a book but I'm uncertain if I actually got much more than half a page a day read, my eyes continually on the monitor angled visually over my book.  Calm would descend, I'd sip my tea, peak over my shoulder at the town at points and listen to the Mozart or Handel being played, and listen for Rockey, and knit.

     I think getting him to eat and drink became a game of sorts.  Can I lure him into taking a bite of something?  A sense of triumph if he ate a few bites.  We discovered fruit his favorite and he'd always have bowls of grapes and his favorite watermelon chunks to nosh on.  Watermelon and Rockey will be forever linked in my mind.  That and he always had several glasses of water and milk, a mug of tea, and his perpetually favored vanilla drink sitting there with a straw angled out.  A desperate struggle to get him to consume something, but ultimately a losing battle because it was time.

     Before Midnight on Father's Day, he passed quietly, painlessly.  The day before I think he woke only twice, to hug his son and later his older sister.  She's 90 (Rockey was 87) and she uses a walker.  Since she's a bit unsteady I was right behind her as she stepped toward her brother's bed.  Rockey had been still for most of the day.  Suddenly he stretches his arms out and pulls his sister down with a huge smile.  I'm crying.  My last memory of him awake.

     I knit in peace throughout it all.  Mozart floating around me.  A memory of Rockey's low voice echoes through my remembrances.  His smile that radiated such love.  A unique talented man.  He will be missed.  And I knit.

     My read this week is "Track of the Cat" by Nevada Barr.  The first in her long series of books about a park ranger/ sleuth in various National Parks.  Enjoying it tremendously.  I hope to pick up a few more in the beginning of the series from a second-hand book store for my vacation in July in the Adirondack Mountains.  I thought reading about murder mysteries placed in National Parks a good vacay read.  Her books are noted for their lush descriptions of nature.

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All paintings by Charles Rockey

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Beads on My Reyna and the Mystery Book "The Divide"


Malabrigo Mechita in Whales Road

      On the lower rows of my Reyna Shawl I'm adding a row of beads in one lacey row of holes.  It'll add a bit of sparkle and a bottom weight to the shawl.  I have beads with a fairly small hole so I'm using a wire (gauge #30) looped to get the beads on instead of the crochet hook method.  I've tried a few times today at different points to apply beads, then undoing when it didn't work.   I want them right in the middle of a twisted post in the lace section.  Hopefully, this time I have it right, we shall see.  Pictures next week.

     "The Divide: A Jade Harrington Novel" (The Jade Harrington Series Book 3) is a mystery series mirroring our own times but with a different emphasis on issues, a female Progressive president and murder mysteries for Jade Harrington, an FBI agent to solve.  By the third book in the series "The Divide" there is revealed an elusive group behind a lot of the mysteries in all the books, yet I'm not at a point to know exactly how the group works, just that this super secret group exists.  There are hints that characters throughout the book are not what they seem, that they are secret members.  It certainly is a scary scenario of a super hyped progressive group sworn to "improve" society at all costs, even cyber-stealing, and murder.  This is the most recent book, published last month and the series is advertised as a 3-book series, but I do wonder if the mystery of the secret society will be totally revealed by the end or are the Jade Harrington books continuing and this mystery will continue?  I'm only halfway through, so we shall see.  It has been an engaging series and I'd be happy to see more of them. (Update, I finished the book today and yes I want to scream because I'm left at a huge cliffhanger.  While the murder mystery is somewhat solved, more mysteries are added at the end and now I wait, for the next book.  It is a very good series.)

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Whales Road Reyna and " The British Are Coming"


     I'm on the last tiers of my Reyna Shawl in Malabrigo Mechita in Whales Road (the photos don't pick up all the lovely color variations to this gorgeous yarn).  I can see why Reyna is so popular.  I opted to make the garter sections wider and the lace ones a bit smaller (details on row counts in the previous blog post - Reyna Shawl Grows) but I'd like to do it again with the original pattern next time.  While I like my variation, I did find the lace rows easier than I thought and I could really see how the original airy version is also lovely.  For this time though I'm often taking care of an elderly friend and I need a mindless knit.  While the lace is easier than I thought, it's not quite mindless.  So sometime in the future, I'm inclined to do it according to the pattern.

       I really wanted it, "The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777" (The Revolution Trilogy Book 1) by Rick Atkinson, a Pulitzer-prize-winning historian.  I've covered the same time frame in numerous books by now, but I had to have it.  The author regaled as a master storyteller and sure to capture new aspects of the American Revolution.  It's recommended on the New York Times for what to read for May and also highlighted in their Book Review last week.  It's a pricey book at $40 a book (since it seems to have gone down on Amazon to $23.99; Kindle is $19) and considering I have a pile of Revolutionary books right now my husband is starting to inquire why?  Well, I feel like I cheated!  I used my Audible credit and got the Audible version (Audio $67.22) and on that version alone is an Introduction by the author on why he pursued this subject after an award-winning trilogy on WW II and how he exhaustively researched the subject for years.  Pursuing relentlessly primary documents unearthed before.  He also got to be one of the first historians to personally read King George's handwritten letters just opened to the public by Queen Elizabeth and he was personally invited.  Our last monarch to rule the Colonies, King George was highly educated and hand wrote notes and ledgers during the war years (and planned personally many aspects of his reign).  The audio is awesome, I just started, but I do, still, wish I had the book (I'll be looking for a second-hand one).  This is a real treat and it is exciting that the book looks to become a hot seller.  I'm excited Revolutionary history is becoming more popular in recent books.  And for those concerned with an accurate historical perspective, this work is also supposed to be balanced with the British viewpoint.  More details - The Revolution Trilogy.  Also - Journal of The American Revolution.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Reyna Shawl Grows and The Mystery Series Continues


     I'm hooked on my Reyna Shawl  finding it's what I want to knit on most of the day.  I disappear into it's rhythmic knit if I'm on my porch or curled in my favorite chair or keeping an elderly artist company in his studio.

     So far I've changed the counts of rows for garter sections and lace.  I have an 11 ridge garter section (22 rows) repeated and an ever-growing lace section.  The first was 3 holes (6 rows, two actually by mistake, I kept on going and they looked too good to rip out).  I then did 4 holes (8 rows), then 6 holes and 8 will be next.  This is instead of an 8 hole (16 rows) and 16 hole finish.  Less airy and more substance with the garter.  I'll then use up my larger Whales Road Malabrigo Mechita skein (420 yds) with garter at the end.

     Finishing up "Rule of Law: A Jade Harrington Novel" (Jade Harrington Series Book 2).  Good plot, seems a bit dragged out.  I'm still guessing on a bullying/murder case of high school students and cyber thefts of millions.  But I still love the FBI Agent Jade and the writing is interesting so I'll be into the third book soon (which came out a few weeks ago) - "The Divide: A Jade Harrington Novel" (The Jade Harrington Series Book 3)

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Reyna Shawl And New Mystery Series

     I'm working on my Reyna Shawl often, with its soft Malabrigo Mechita yarn in Whales Road.  For a single ply yarn, it is so far not pilling and that's appreciated.  I think Mechita is my favorite fingering yarn so far.

     Reyna is a shawl with a series of ever-growing lace panels within garter sections.  I found that I really liked one Reyna made with smaller lace sections; so I'm trying out fewer lace rows than the pattern.  The pattern has an ever increasing amount of lace rows, going from 2 rows, to 4, to 8 and then 16.  I accidentally did 3 rows of lace at first by mistake and it was too pretty to rip out; so the next I did the 4 rows and I'm thinking of doing 6 rows and then maybe 8 (or 8 and then 12, I haven't decided yet).  The garter rows became thicker kinda by accident.  I was watching an elderly local artist friend and having tea with him.  The moment was perfect and I was into my Garter stitches and there was no way I was diverting my attention to doing holes.  So I created an 11 ridge garter section (22 rows) instead of 8 ridges of garter in the pattern and I'm repeating that since I know I have more yarn than the pattern is called for and I know I'm doing smaller lace sections.  It looks good.

© Noora Laivola

 Reyna by pinkamingo (fewer lace rows)

     I finished Don't Speak: A Jade Harrington Novel (Jade Harrington Series Book 1) last night and I loved it!  It has a surprise ending to this serial killer mystery that will take you definitely by surprise!  I'm a bit upset at the outcome but you will see why.  The plot is four entwined storylines between the murderer, the FBI agent Jade Harrington who's after him, a woman candidate running for president and one of the top Conservative Radio hosts (who are being hunted down and killed).  Be prepared to be sucked in.

I started the next book in the series also last night - Rule of Law: A Jade Harrington Novel (Jade Harrington Series Book 2).  Be prepared both books to start out gruesome, but I found the first book didn't continue so much throughout the book.  It does get your attention.  This book is about bullies beating to death students and we know so far that Agent Jade has a childhood past of being bullied; this is why she studied to be a 4 degree Black Belt.  The newly elected president holds a secret that is revealed at the end of the first book.  This is a three part series and the final book came out two weeks ago.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Holding Hope Kerchief and A Political Murder Mystery

          After Charlottesville in 2017 Taylor Rutledge, a Ravelry member designed this simple kerchief with a mesh pattern called Holding Hope Kerchief.  I thought of this last week when I spied my little ball of leftover yarn of Hawthorne Fingering Multi Yarn in Arleta (I have a bigger ball of it tucked away).  I had kept thinking this color is for something special and never used it in any scrappy shawls I did before, saving it for something special.  Then I remembered this pattern and I cast on!  I have lots of peach and pink and mauve shirts for this summer (besides my standard blues) so I'm thinking this will be the perfect match.  I am considering making it a bit bigger.  I'm wondering can a bit larger kerchief be a tiny neck scarf?  So I'm working towards that and really enjoying the simple knit.  Aren't the colors just sumptuous?

This is a very special quote from Taylor Rutledge's pattern page:
"As I watched the news from Charlottesville, Virginia in August of 2017…like so many people I didn’t know what to do. But I did have to go to work at our local yarn store. I grabbed a mini skein I had from The Yarn at Home Mom in the vibrant color Glow. I started to knit…to mess around with what I could do with 87 yards. I thought about Heather Heyer and still wondered what I could do. I ended up with this simple kerchief, and I wore it to an anti-hate rally the next evening. I wrote down the pattern and decided one thing I can do is offer this pattern for my kerchief…a knitted prayer… to anyone who wants it. It’s free, but if you download this pattern, please consider donating some money to the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Black Lives Matter, or similar organizations. Knit one for yourself. Knit one for your favorite activist to say thank you for their hard work. Knit one for a strong young woman you know who stands by her convictions the way Heather Heyer did. Share your knitting. Talk to your community. Keep holding hope."

     Reading a freebie on Kindle that's really good - "Don't Speak: A Jade Harrington Novel" (Jade Harrington Series Book 1); the first in a three part series where the last book was just published last week (series - "Jade Harrington Series" (3 book series).  A mix of a mystery murder story and a story of a Liberal candidate for the presidency and a Conservative president and the inside politics played behind the scenes and the FBI efforts to apprehend a serial killer of Ultra Conservative radio personalities.  I found it interesting that the quote at the beginning of the book says: "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all." (Noam Chomsky).   really interesting and suspenseful read; an interesting mix of contemporary politics mixed with a fictional FBI protagonist hunting a mysterious murderer.  I am so looking forward to reading all the books and surprisingly it's not an overdose of politics because some of the issues chosen are more obscure and some remedies definitely I haven't heard of.

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