Your Gauge Can Change


I’ve been knitting for almost 15 years. And for the last 4 years or so I’ve been working with someone I met in my very first knitting class, Melissa Leapman, to knit things for the books she’s written, for magazines she’s been published in and I also knit up one thing this summer for one of her classes at Stitches Midwest. That was a little tough working on a double knitted THICK scarf in the middle of the summer with tweed yarn. Lovely, but tough. Whew…

I hope it doesn’t sound like I am bragging by referring to Melissa in my blog post, that’s really not my intent though the reason I bring her up will become important shortly. And before I talk about the gauge issue I want to state that I’m so very flattered that she finds my knitting good enough to be used in her work and publications. She’s fussy, let me tell you, so if she appreciates my work then I must be doing okay. <insert me blushing>

So, back to the title of this post. Your Gauge Can Change.

Truth there.

The first half of the year my right bicep was bothering me. Sometimes when knitting, sometimes when reaching, sometimes when swiping (like wiping off a table) or lifting. It was a very sharp pain, like a long blade pressing in along the bicep vertically. In addition, my right shoulder was stiffening up. Then my back near the shoulder blades was tensing up. Well, I went to the chiropractor and began treatment in September.

Around that same time Melissa needed two pieces knit up. We’ll call them A and B.

I knit up piece A and it was pretty darn close to the specs she provided in the schematic. And I had used my usual needle size with this particular project (we’d been working on this for some time, same kind of yarn, similar pieces). Even so, I had knit up a gauge swatch before I started and it was fine.

Then I started on piece B with the same needles and yarn. It was at least 3 weeks into my chiropractic treatment by then.

I finished and blocked it and remember thinking maybe her math was wrong while knowing that was an impossibility – I KNOW her, it wouldn’t be wrong. Then why did it seem larger? Well, there’s a certain technique we used so maybe my dimensions are fine because I don’t include that part when I measure. After all,  I had checked my stitches per inch throughout and was satisfied I was still on gauge. I sent A & B to her thinking they’re both fine. But in the back of my head for the first time I was doubting my skills.

While pieces A & B were en route to her I decided to knit piece B a second time and we’ll call that C. I still had enough of the yarn so I started knitting C with a needle one size smaller. Dang if that didn’t still come out a little bigger, too! Yet I was still checking stitches per inch every so often while I knit. Maybe that one will suffice and she’ll like that one. Nope, still too much off.

What’s going on?

At this point I was about 4 1/2 weeks into treatment. A little light had gone off in my head when I sent C to her and I told her in the note I included that maybe having less pain and discomfort has changed my gauge. At the same time though, I thought nah, that’s kind of silly.

Turns out not so silly. I’ve since done some Googling and reading up on the fact that when pain is reduced, you relax (of course) so therefore, in my logic minded brain I thought, why wouldn’t gauge change?

You do see where this is going, right? Yes, I’m going to knit B a third time which I’ll call D once I get the yarn. But I’m going to knit up two swatches to check gauge. One at the time of day I try to sneak in some knitting – on the bus, the train, and over lunch. And one in the evening after work when I’m sitting down for the night. And I am going to be darn sure that I am SPOT on with gauge – and know when it’s better for me to knit to get more precise gauge – before I begin working up D.  Because I really don’t want to knit it E!

I’m now into week 6 1/2 for my treatment and I’m about to phase from two appointments a week to one. And I have special exercises I do that are helping immensely. My pain level when I started treatment was about a 7.5 out of 10, 10 being the worst (sometimes I was an 8, that included spasms in my arm). Now? Maybe 2 if I’ve pushed it too hard for a day. That’s a huge accomplishment.

So my advice is pay attention not only to your gauge but to how you feel when you’re knitting. Are you stressing because you’ve had a rough day? Knit something where gauge doesn’t matter. Are you totally in the mood for knitting and it will be soothing to you? Probably a great time to knit something where gauge is important and you’re able to pay attention to detail.

Knitting up swatches, not being in pain or stressed out, knitting at the right time of day, all of these things I’m finding will make a huge positive impact on my knitting. Maybe it will on yours, too?

P.S. I would like to add that I’ve learned so much from Melissa; she’s challenged me over the years with different projects and complicated stitches and for that I’m incredibly grateful to her. I wouldn’t be knitting the things I am these days and challenging myself if it weren’t for her having faith in me that I can produce what she needs. And I wouldn’t have found such a delightful friend.

A Little Left of Center

Tomorrow, August 31st, 2015, will be the one year anniversary since my mom passed away. For the most part I think I’m doing pretty darn good but sometimes I’m not so sure. I think that’s okay, that it’s all part of the grieving process.

Though lately I’ve been feeling kind of weird. I’m assuming it’s because of tomorrow but I don’t know.

I’ve felt hyper-sensitive, for lack of a better term,  for awhile and I don’t mean like you look at me and I fall apart in tears (okay, one day that DID happen but it’s all good). I mean, for example, in terms of taking a walk and smelling the air and seeing the butterflies and dragonflies lead me on the walking path, and soaking in EVERYTHING around me – colors, textures, sounds, light, air, movement – and feeling like I’m a little to the left of myself and everything feels so exaggerated! It doesn’t feel bad, quite the opposite, but I can’t put an exact word to what it DOES feel like. It’s happened a number of times over the last week or so. It’s happened on the bus, the train, just sitting at my desk in the office, standing in the dining room, walking through the park.

I don’t understand the feelings and I don’t know what to do about them or what I can do about them. Or if I even need to do anything about them at all.

My first husband passed away in early 2010 and while I grieved for him immensely and still think of him frequently, I don’t recall feeling like this when it was coming up on his anniversary. Maybe because we had a little over a year to get used to the idea that he’d be gone and that he knew who I was, even up to the end. And we had many conversations prior to his passing.

With my mom, she didn’t know who we all were the last few months. I strongly feel that she knew we were ‘safe’ and we wouldn’t harm her in any way. She would also get this glint in her eye or make a gesture or say a word that would make you think she’s all there because it was familiar and clear and HER and you thought ‘oh, there she is!’ and then it would pass. And you would keep your smile on your face and still love her because how could you not?

Perhaps what’s happening is that my mom is her angel self and staying near me right now knowing how much I miss her and how much I love her and how much I need her and she’s there to comfort me. I know, I know, everyone says their loved one who passed was the nicest person ever, etc. But you know what? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, she was that person. And there aren’t many of them, let me tell you. They’re quite rare, indeed.

There are people who don’t believe that could be possible, no one can be that nice or that good. But I firmly believe that it’s true. I grew up with an angel. She was my mom. So I think I know what I’ll do. I’ll let these feelings wash over me and just be. Because what I’ve been feeling lately must be an angel nearby, a guardian angel. My mom.

I was going to end this saying to my mom I pray she rests in peace. But you know what? I’m not going to. She’s already at peace.

Instead I say this to my guardian angel, my mom:

I want you to dance!

I want you to sing!

I want you to love the life you have in heaven!

I want you to bask in your happiness!

And I will revel in the memories I have with you!

I love you, mommy, with all my heart and soul!


Patty with her golden hair, in and out of everywhere.

What she does is many things from reading books to making rings.

She reads day in and day out, this what Patty’s future is all about.

She loves all kinds of books, from mysteries to books of jokes.

Patty is lovable in her way, she tries to show it every day.

Sometimes she is happy and then she is sad.

But when her mood is good, everyone is glad.

Written by: My mom (a little something my mom wrote when I was about 10 years old)

Campside KAL (knit-a-long)

I’ve been involved with swaps for many years and also involved with a fantastic knitting community called Ravelry almost since its inception. I decided a couple of months ago to pull back on the swap side so I could concentrate on my knitting. Well, that sort of worked.

  1. I’m currently working on a class sample for the divine Ms. M for the Stitches Midwest event coming up. It’s slow going but it’s going to be gorgeous.
  2. I have a slip stitch cowl in process (the name of it escapes me at the moment), probably about 3/4 done.
  3. I have a sweater hibernating in a basket that stares at me longingly once in a while to take it out and work on it.
  4. I’ve got the Thunderstorm MKAL clue 4 to work on over the next week and a half before the next clue comes out.
  5. I have yarn for the Brimson shawl for this fall, the mix of stitches is simply yummy!!
  6. My yarn will arrive tomorrow for the Campside shawl.
  7. And as if that isn’t enough I’m hosting a KAL in Ravelry for said Campside shawl.

So I’m throwing this question out to Jane & John Q. Knitting Public:

How do you balance multiple knitting projects? I’d love to hear from you!

Blog Hop!! Liberate Your Art 2015

I participated in the Liberate Your Art postcard swap this year that Kat Sloma of Kat Eye Studio, hosted. Oh, what fun this was! I am so thrilled with all of the postcards I received – I’ll need to get a new cork board in the office to present them proudly!

I spent about an hour yesterday taking photos. I had all sorts of props outside with me, I wanted them all to be just right. I hope I’ve done them all justice.

Let’s not keep you in suspense, here are the postcards I received. :-)

I feel I certainly need to showcase our gracious host’s postcard first. Not only because I like it so much ( fall is my favorite season and I like her use of white space) but because it’s hers.

She’s titled it “Immiment Downfall”; it’s beautiful isn’t it? (I know the photo is upside down and I like it this way but when I get a chance I’ll redo it properly. Sorry, Kat!)

IMG_0687Next we have a lovely postcard from Jill at Recycled Daze. The young woman is sitting outside a bakery in Harmony, PA. This really makes me want to find a pretty building and just hang out and relax.

IMG_0649Here is wonderful postcard that comes from Tammy Lee Bradley. I wish I enjoyed tea but though it’s not my cuppa (see what I did there?) I still enjoy looking at this card and can appreciate it’s beauty.

FullSizeRenderHow about a really cool owl? This was created by Lisa Murphy from Reston, Virgina. I’d like to include her blog link but when I went to it to copy it to include it in my post, it says it’s no longer available and that the author has deleted it. I find this owl fascinating.

IMG_0672“Your secret is safe with me” is the title of this postcard. Janet Reid (jreid1031 on Instagram) included this quote about art that I feel is so perfect. “…this isn’t a contest but a doorway, into thanks, and a silence in which, another voice may speak.” By Mary Oliver.


Lastly, but certainly not any less important than the others is this postcard from Denise of Because Nice Matters. I’ve tried the link she provided for her blog, but unfortunately it appears to go to a different blog. At any rate, isn’t this wonderfully amusing? Her inspiration came from working at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Museum in San Francisco. And yes, it seemed appropriate to place this card at the top of our patio chiminea.

IMG_0661Thank you to everyone for a lovely postcard swap! I’m already thinking about what I might do for my postcard next year! And extra thank you to Kat and her team for pulling together yet another successful Liberate Your Art postcard swap!

Enjoy liberating your art, everyone!


I’m Not Doing It Right…Or Am I?

I must not be doing Instagram correctly.

Over the last couple of days I’ve had no less than a dozen people begin following me that I don’t know. The followers are three different types.

1. Accounts that are ‘private’ and have 0 to perhaps 30-50 photos, and yet they have thousands of followers (and they’re following just a few people themselves). They also ‘liked’ exactly one photo.

2. Accounts that are not private but none of their photos are ones that I have anything in common with so I can’t understand why they’d follow me. Example: One was a young man who loves his skateboard (that’s cool, good on him) but his photos are essentially of his accidents complete with bloodied body parts and other injuries, not to mention a lot of unsavory language in his photo submissions and throughout the comments themselves. <I’m not a prude by any means, I have been known to cuss once in awhile – but gratuitous cussing, and especially PUBLIC cussing like this only serves to make an individual sound horribly stupid.>

3. Accounts of scantily clad women who have at most a dozen photos and at least half of them are IDENTICAL (seriously, they’re identical) – professional ocean shots or food shots without them in them. Yeah. Pretty sure those are scammers.

So I’ve blocked all of the above mentioned people and reported the number 3’s.

Every single account I follow is either someone I know, someone I have found searching by hashtags, or a person that found me, who have similar interests. For instance, knitters, photographers and foodies. I’m not at all interested in following someone that has pictures almost entirely of bloodied knees from skateboard accidents, or women who have a gagillion pictures of themselves in the standard fish lips pose (can we do away with that pose already – it doesn’t show the real you ladies, in case you aren’t aware of it and I think it’s actually quite unflattering) or booty shots. If you are serious about following ME, the knitter, the photographer, the foodie, then be my guest. Don’t follow me in hopes I’ll follow you just BECAUSE you’ve decided to follow me.

And before anyone says it first, I know I can set my account to private. But I have made contacts with some very cool knitters across the world who take lovely photos of their work, and have found awesome food photos that give me really great ideas for not only photography but recipes. I wouldn’t have found these by having a private account.

Having said all of this, I do think I’m possibly an anomaly in that I may not be the typical Instagram user. I don’t take many pictures of myself, more so of objects and scenery and sometimes other people. I could do more of myself but I’d rather share who I am versus what I look like. 

As for my followers, all 79 of them, I’m okay with that number (I’m following 81, in case anyone is interested). I don’t need hundreds or thousands to make me happy.

So here’s the deal. I’m curious. Are people really that interested in getting likes and followers that they’ll just start following anyone? I’m sincerely curious and would love to read your comments.

Five Years Ago

Not a terribly original blog post title; I’ve certainly done better. But this week five years ago was life changing for me and many others I know, which makes the title rather insignificant, but the subject very significant.

Five years ago this week, my first husband was home on hospice. He came home on 2/21/2010 and he passed away on 2/28/2010.

So this is a tough week for me. And I imagine for others but right now I’m being selfish. Because I’ve learned since then that I can.

When I need to.

When I want to.

I miss the cranky curmudgeon, I really do.

I miss the look in his eye when he was up to something.

I miss his telling me, “I can cook, I did just make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich you know.”

I miss his tell-it-like-it-is honesty (even though sometimes it was a wee TOO honest).

I miss his handsome being, the tan man, the sun god himself.

I miss listening to his debates with my best girl, CP.

I miss hearing him giving his best buddies grief about anything and everything. Because there wasn’t anything that wasn’t fair game for him.

I miss giving him long hugs until he squirmed (he wasn’t a particularly demonstrative man; so I purposely did that to him).

And as much as I’d love to hug that big lug again, I don’t wish he could be here.

Yes, dear reader, you’ve reached the selfish part.

I feel deep down he is thrilled where he is. I think life in general was frustrating for him sometimes.

But now he’s got a great cribbage partner because my Mom passed away last August 31, 2014. So you know he’s digging that. They got along spectacularly well, especially when it came to playing cards. He really respected her knowledge and expertise.

And he wasn’t always the happiest camper in life, so I also think he’s found peace and happiness.

I’m no longer sad about his passing, I’ve moved forward from sadness. Rather, I have nostalgic moments where I relive our good times in my mind and they make me grin like a little kid (some memories I’ve even shared with Sugar).

And I, too, have found peace and happiness.

Tenfold. Twentyfold. Pick-a-number fold.

What’s my peace and happiness? My loving and sarcastically kooky husband, Sugar, whom I married just over 2 years ago – he makes me feel so loved and appreciated; he even makes me laugh so hard sometimes that my stomach honestly hurts.

I sometimes almost can’t believe I’ve been blessed twice in my life with such wonderful men.

Dear Frank – 

I think of you more often you might realize. And Sugar has said he thinks you would have been a cool guy to hang with. He’s certainly not wrong about that.

Keep playing cribbage, some day Mom will let you win. 

All my love, 


Frank Spicer, MN 2005

Frank2 Silver Bay, MN 2009

Olloclip Experiment

So I only have a few moments to post something and why not make it something related to photography since, well, that’s one of my passions.

I recently purchased an Olloclip for my cell phone and oh, what fun! Check out these photos of some tulips that Sugar sent to me at the office.

IMG_8966-2 IMG_8959 IMG_8949

I highly recommend getting one if you enjoy macro photography and don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a lens. I believe this was about $60 and it’s actually 4 lenses total.

Enjoy your day!