Some Progress and a Loss

Yet another sweater for some purpose- likely sale or gift- is finished. It’s a large, drop shouldered wool and alpaca casual style with some collar detail. I have (with the help of enablers in our local fiber guild) discovered over the last four years, the old flat bed knitting devices. I hesitate to call them machines, since that implies that the device does the work. The making is accomplished by you-manually sliding a rectangular carriage across a bed of latch hooks to knit row after row of stitches. Sounds simple? Well- iff all goes well, AND you have practiced umpteen times, AND learned how to start over, troubleshoot, fix on the fly and possess patience, then it is indeed simple. Overall, the time saved on basic stockinette stitch is wonderful. Ribbing takes a bit more effort. Garter stitch- well I don’t bother on the KM and instead stick with pointy sticks. The learning curve is slow and steep. Some amazing people have elevated using these KMs to a new form. The complicated garments made and the likewise detailed instructions are out there to make entire beautiful wardrobes. The 80s live again!

Let’s just say, I’m not into going that far. Knitting flatbeds give me another way to use the materials being grown in the field. Yarn is used by the miles, and with careful prep and measurement, straight knitting flat fabrics is joyful by the yard. When my hands cramp from knitting needles, I can move to full body knitting, since the KM uses full arms, shoulders, neck, back, legs and numerous positions from calisthenics like the old Jack Lelanne TV shows. It also involves steel weights, little sharp needle hooks, weights with metal claws, greased steel, tension springs and tools. Some days and some projects leave little reminders on the body, that KM use, just like little pointy sticks, can make one remember that knitting has risks and weapons potential. So cheers that another sweater is done! Winter will be warmer for someone.

Now on to the loss. Having a flock or a herd comes with risks and rewards. You get to see the fiber growing. You get to experience lambing in cold spring mornings. You get to make hay in summer, move it to storage, meet amazing people who live by the sun and seasons. You also get to carry that hay in deep snow and howling winter winds twice a day for years, break thick ice on water tanks and wonder why pipes have to burst and fences lose their boards, wires or chargers after a lightning strike- like this week. Also this week we had to say good bye to our flock guardian of twelve years.  From playful fluff ball pup in training, to obnoxious, overeager teen, to discerning, coyote, bobcat and fox engager, he has been with us as a loyal defender. In his most recent year he has needed care and a boost to get up and going. His move into our house was pretty easy. Sweeping up all the hair and dog dirt just became part of living, as did the barking at any time of the night. But now the house has just a cat, the one Casey just tolerated. There is no greeter with a cold nose, no toenails on the wood floors. The outside cat wonders where his roaming buddy has gone, although he knows. He was here when we put Case back to the Earth. He’s running other pastures now.

Case1

Best Guardian and Greeter Committee

drshbutton collar2

Wool/Alpaca drop shoulder oversized sweater

drshbuttoncol3

collar detail

drshbuttoncol4

collar2

drshbuttoncollar1

casual, large, oversized wool/alpaca sweater

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Follow -UP! ISS interesting info.

I randomly typed in “astronauts who knit” today. Found this tidbit.   Sewing (knitting?some confusion there) at 17000mph…..How did I miss the years ago?

Karen Nyberg

Back on earth at the Houston Quilt Festival

Quilting in space

 

Ironically – when I followed on the names (something sounded familiar , right?)  I found this.  Douglas Hurley

She is now retired- as of March 2020.

He is flying around at 16 orbits per day since May 2020. Today he’s monitoring the space walk. NASA live coverage today So just when her life is grounded, he is at 254 miles altitude for the duration of this latest mission. Mission 63

I wonder if she’ll be working on any quilts or sweaters for this coming winter!

 

 

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Early morning transit: Right on time!

 

If you’ve seen the space station fly over, you’ll understand different perspectives. From our view these brave folks appear to be flying in a bright point of light, somewhere close to twice Jupiter in size brightness right now. Twenty minutes ago they flew right over the house from NW to ESE, coming out of the dark horizon and sailing off right between the crescent moon and red sparkly Mars. My backyard tracking gave me six minutes of quiet calm, standing in the dark, looking up.

From their reality it must be amazing to see the Earth zipping by, moon and stars from that location. They have already reached daylight by now- and the coast, while I sit here at the table awaiting the sunrise and probably will not see the beach or ocean this year. They will pass near Antarctica 16 times today.

It takes my breath away to see them when they are visible at my long and lat. I wonder what it does for them to be one of those few?

Some numbers: Current Expedition 63

Time to orbit Earth: about 90 minutes

Altitude- 254 miles/410 km.

Speed: about 17,000 mph/ 27,700 kph

Members of the current crew on board: Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Christopher Cassidy, Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner

If you want to see the station at your location refer to: Spot the Station or Heavens Above

Space Station link: Yes- I know it’s wiki. Sigh. violating all reference rules for educators.

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Frequency

So today my self-directed lesson is in life and time patterns: knitting uses patterns, of both time and visualization. Plants have them. Clouds seem to be random and chaotic, but they appear as dictated by the flows in temperature, volume, pressure, and mass gradients. The rotation of the Earth is also cyclical. So what about those socks that I’m wearing now? The longer the project yarn, the longer it takes to complete the project, but the shorter the row, the further the length progresses, in the same yarn length and real time elapsed.

The period of a pendulum…related to the turning of a heel?

elderappplewalnut

You bet. Painting a wall…my friend from work is doing that now- through her whole house- is also calculate-able in terms of period. Making elderberry fritters, syrup, apple tarts and sauces, harvesting black walnuts are all cyclical.

T = 2π √(L/g).       It’s application carries across the universe. Period = twice pi times the square root of the ratio of the length of the pendulum to the gravitational effect in that region. Some periods are determined by nature’s unwinding, some by human will.

I’m sure there is an analogous equation for knitting. Humanity would be factored into the “g” for that expression. L, the physical length of the pendulum, would have some correlation to the task at hand. I’m not sure what units would be needed to describe the ratio in “task” to “humanity” compared to standards. I’m sure somewhere a social scientist has written a paper on this ratio.

And today in some other posting I read that Pulsar observations have recently been used to confirm the gravitational effect theories proposed decades ago.  So the old adage “timing is everything” takes on a new meaning. I’ll remember that the next time I’m scanning PRESTO plots looking for a pulsar in the data haystack.

f=1/T.    Frequency is the reciprocal of period, T.

How often you wear those socks knit through the winter, is directly related to how soon you wear out the heels and toes, and how frequently you’ll be knitting new ones and contemplating timing patterns in life, nature, the cosmos.

 

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Another walk for the socks

The weather’s been pretty good lately. Put up hay. Everybody that needed shearing has been shorn. The garden- and the weeds- have been doing pretty well. Rabbits are happy. Socks are wearable. Shaping the insteps and toes differently has been educational. Took them for another walk before they were on my feet.

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Taking the socks for a walk

sock and iris

With staying home, there are some new activities that one develops. The dog and cat daily saunter, the attentiveness to weather, cooking more than normally done pre-Pandemic, and a new one- taking the socks for a walk. Photography and fair weather and much time at home blended well for this photo op.

dandelion with sock


Hand-dyed farm yarns stripe the naturally colored wool/ alpaca blend all sourced from the grasses here in the pastures over the years.

hand-dyed stripe on sock of natural wools

lavandar lilac and sock

Many of the flock have gone, but the few alpaca boys are still in those pastures. So when I wear these socks this winter, the process from grass to garment, to Pandemic survival will be knit into them, …if the fates allow.

sock in the apple tree

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Pi Day and the Blizzard

Daylight Savings time, our fifth set of goat kid twins and now a blizzardy noreaster have all altered this week since Sunday began at its forwarded-by-an-hour morning. The snow coated GP and I just returned from our dark morning stroll in boot-top deep sugary snow. It’s still coming down like a wall of whiteness in the predawn black. The dog and I both had to shake off on the rug.

The herd and flock will need a check whenever it’s light out. Much shovelling will be waiting once the snow tapers off. Better save my energy. Start the coffee…I lost a good friend one year. She was a geometry teacher among her other attributes. Pi Day was her own special holiday. The 3.14 blizzard just might be her little reminder or a tribute.

 

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Soon the Fall

Next the sauce

Next the sauce

Another moment to pause and reflect on the passing seasons…Why do we only slow to make entries when the changes are noticeable? Daylight is growing shorter, daily average temperatures are falling, leaves too. The farm’s wooly inhabitants grow longer overcoats, put on their undercoats of fine down. They embrace the coming winter without a conscious thought. Are we humans too detached to recognize the need to yield to seasonal changes ourselves?

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The Vortex Returns

Swirling sheep? No- just more of this season’s fickle weather. 66 to 16 to 60 to -6, howling winds and blinding, blowing white out conditions. Sounds normal for the DaSnow beginning...againkotas, but not so normal for Mother Nature in southern  Pennsylvania. She’s having a tantrum. She’s creating beautiful scenery, but under it are frozen waterlines, crummy driving conditions and school schedules that will run into summer. The herd and flock seem to be handling it all in stride as long as the hay and water keep coming. The handful of alpaca even lie out in the open field with backs to the wind and everything covered in white- except the big dark, long-lashed eyes.

Maybe we should be like them. Embrace and enjoy it. …oh yeah- Work! Snow Day! Wait for daylight. Warm up the diesel. Start to plow. Find some knitting and a cup of tea until then…

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Summer’s Dyeing

Oh when the pot boils and steams, these are the days of dyers’ dreams!

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