I’ve gotten sucked down the rabbit hole again this week. It started when I saw a patient in my office with the same last name. We talked about possible relatives for a bit, and when I got home, he had sent me an extensive genealogy of his family. It turns out that his grandfather and my grandfather were brothers.

I had been on for a while, but gave it up a few years ago. Well, this spurred me on to get to work.

So far I’ve traced the Meske side of my family (Meske is my birth surname) back several generations, to my great great great grandfather in one branch, and 5 times great grandfather in another, he was born in 1712 in Germany.

We haven’t known much about my mom’s side of the family past her parents and grandparents. I was able to find the ship manifesto from when they came to this country in 1905. They were the last of the family to come over, It was my grandfather Johann, grandmother Josefin, daughter Antonina, and another daughter Gladys, who is on the ship log as Wladyslawa, I think. It’s hard to read. She was 14, and a big line was drawn through her name, with a notation that says “trachoma”. She was not admitted, and was sent back to Europe. Can you imagine that? We had heard this story before, but had not seen paper documentation of it previously. No one in the family knows what happened to her.

Here is a photo of the document.

Johann Podensky

Click on that to make it bigger. Their names are right where that dark horizontal line sits. One of the challenges of finding relatives is that a lot of names got changed when they came to this country. And there may have been multiple alternate spellings in old birth records and baptisms, etc.

I just need more hours in my day. I’m still knitting, but everything looks about the same, so no new photos.


Sock Project

I have been knitting socks almost since I learned to knit almost 20 years ago. Since then, I always have a sock in progress, as soon as I finish a pair,  I cast on another one.

My finished sock stash is starting to show its age a bit. I still have a dozen plus good pairs, but some of those are getting a bit thin in places. My hand knit socks far outlast commercial socks, but they don’t last forever.

I’m hereby declaring 2018 to be the year of sock knitting. God knows I have sock yarn to spare. I have yarn in those boxes upstairs to knit well over 200 pairs of socks.

Here’s what I am working on now.*


I’m thinking I could finish those with a couple of good football games on deck.

What about you all? What are your knitting plans for 2018?

*Just because someone almost always asks, the small red spool is Wooly Nylon. I use it as reinforcing thread for heels and toes.

Sleeve Island

After a couple of false starts, I have the first sleeve well on its way. Normally sleeves are the most boring thing on earth to knit, but these cables are more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

The first false start involved my apparent inability to count. I finished that whole ribbing hem and then realized I had too many stitches.
The second false start only involved undoing a few rows. The ribbing is knit on a smaller size needle, and I was a couple of rows into the sleeve and realized I had never switched to the larger needles.
Here is a close up of the cable that goes from the cuff up the side of the sleeve.
And a gratuitous photo of Lewey doing what he does best on Saturday.
Have a happy weekend!


At Least I Can Knit

I woke up early yesterday feeling yucky. I hate calling in sick, so I sucked it up, got ready and went in. It should have been a sign that the cup of tea I made before I got in the shower almost made me gag. Anyway, I made it through the morning, canceled my afternoon and came home. I'm out again today, let's just say that nobody in my office would want me there spreading this to everyone else. It just pisses me off that I get this stuff, since I'm sort of a pathological hand-washer, especially at work.

I haven't been accomplishing much besides zoning out, but today I was able to pick up the knitting. I didn't work on my Rogue sweater all summer because, well, heavy wool and summer heat. But now that it is cool outside I want it done done done so I can wear it this winter.

That's where I am right now. I've finished the back, and the front up to the v-neck split. I few months away from this almost made me forget how much I love Peace Fleece, and how much I love this pattern.

This is the left front, I just finished separating the two sides.

And here is that gorgeous cable up the sides.

The pattern is Rogue, the yarn is Peace Fleece worsted weight in the color Amaranth. They have this back on their website for sale, and it is on sale, if you need some. The color is really much deeper than my photos show. Anytime I take a picture of this it either turns out pink or bright red. It's more of a deep garnet red. Here is the photo from their website.

At least on my ipad, that is much more accurate.

I'm off to try more tea and toast. Sigh.


Give Us This Day…

The Daily Bread:

1.5 cups white flour

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

1.5 tablespoon vital wheat gluten

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon buttermilk powder

1 cup water

1 tablespoon molasses

1 egg

1 tablespoon yeast

More flour/water if needed for the dough

I am using a bread machine for this one. My hands have gotten old enough that I have trouble kneading dough by hand, plus it is just easier. I generally use the dough setting and bake the bread in the oven.

I use King Arthur flours, they are top quality and worth the slight extra cost. You can get buttermilk powder in the baking section of most supermarkets. The vital wheat gluten is from King Arthur as well. I use it with whole wheat flours (or rye) to help the dough rise. I use about a tablespoon of the gluten per cup of whole wheat.

The yeast that I use is Saf Red Instant yeast. It is foolproof, and you can just add it directly to your bread machine with everything else.

Bread machines vary, but I put in all the liquid ingredients, then the dry on top, then turn the machine on to the dough setting. Once it preheats and starts kneading, you should check it to see if the dough needs more flour or more liquid. If it looks just a bit wet, give it a few minutes, since the flour will absorb water gradually as the machine works. If you add too much flour at the very beginning you'll end up with a brick.
Once it finishes the dough cycle, take it out of the machine, punch it down, form into a smooth ball and let it rest for a few minutes to relax the dough. Then shape it into whatever you want to bake and let it rise again until nearly double. Then bake. I'll probably do an oblong free form loaf on a baking stone with this one. I put a bit of cornmeal on my baking peel, put the shaped loaf on it, wait for the rise, then slide it into a preheated oven onto the baking stone. Try to do that part quickly so your oven doesn't drop in temperature too much. The cornmeal helps it slide off the peel onto the stone. Flour works too.
Baking temperature is more flexible than you think. I usually start at 400, but my oven runs just a bit cool. You may need to adjust if it looks like it is browning too fast. Baking time is around 20 minutes, but that depends on whether you are doing one big loaf or smaller rolls. It's done when it is nicely browned, has a hollow sound when you tap the bottom, and I use a thermometer to check temperature. 190 F is about right for most bread.
Then the hardest part, waiting for it to cool before you cut into it. This is supposed to be part of our supper tonight, so I'll try to save some for that!
Final action shot!


Mind the Gap!

We have had a fun couple of days in London for the start of our England vacation. John got off the plane feeling under the weather on Friday and Saturday right after we got here, so Saturday I was on my own. I walked pretty much the entire Kensington Garden park, which is right across the street where we are staying. And I found a yarn shop.

Loop London is on a tiny walking-only street with a bunch of other little shops. It's not a big shop, but it has some mighty fine yarn choices. Here's what I came away with.

There are two skeins of lace yarn from Eden Cottage, and two Wollmeise Pure wool yarn. The first two will be shawls someday, the last two will likely be small “neck things”, which I am growing quite fond of.

John is all better now, and we've spent our time being tourists, and doing a lot of walking. We've got the tube system sorted, at least for our little local neighborhood, and buses and taxis will get us everywhere else.

Here are a few other photos:

Every single tourist here takes their photo in front of one of the iconic London telephone booths.

Even better with Big Ben in the background.

There are lots of fine pubs.

We had a tour of St. Paul Cathedral today. What a remarkable place. We got there just before their midday Eucharist service, so I was privileged to attend that.

You hear “Mind the gap” about every few minutes while riding the Tube. I suspect if you are a Londoner, you don't find it quite so amusing.

And that last photo is your medical public service reminder for the day. If you haven't gotten your flu jab yet, please do so!

Tomorrow we take the train to Canterbury for another adventure!


22 Little Clouds

I’m finally getting around to posting some “finished” photos of this one. It’s just been too warm to think of wrapping it around my neck even for a photo. We definitely are feeling the early fall weather around here though in the past few days.


Project Details
Pattern: 22 Little Clouds, by Martina Behm. This is the second one of these I’ve made. It is an easy pattern, and very versatile to wear. You also can use any amount of yarn that will give you a wearable size.
Yarn: Cashmere spun by a woman named Maliknoz, from Afghanistan. This was imported and sold by Peace Fleece.
Needles: Oh who knows. For the first time ever, I didn’t bother to write it down anywhere, and it’s already back in the needle case.
For: Me
Started/Finished: Started June 30th this year, finished August 25th
Modifications: none
What I Learned: Cashmere is a dangerous thing. This is divinely soft. I looked at a lot of different pattern options for this precious yarn, and decided simple was the best.
I predict that this one will get worn to death.

Winter Is Coming

I did finish binding off the 22 Little Clouds shawl yesterday, with 17 grams of yarn left. I'll get it washed and then show a photo of it, but it is perfect.

Now it's time to resurrect an old project. This is Rogue, done in Peace Fleece. That color photo is pretty close to the real thing (Amaranth is the color name). I've been working on this for almost two years, so I think it's time to get this one done. I have the back done, and am working on the front. Then the hood and sleeves, and it will be my go-to winter sweater.

Here's a close up of the side cable. This photo shows it much pinker than it really is. The actual color is a deep garnet, with little flecks of blue and black. The lighter color bits seen in all of my knitting are usually Corgi fur, with an occasional silver strand from me.

I know it still feels like summer, but it has been dropping into the 50's here at night, so autumn and winter aren't far off. What's everybody planning for cool weather knitting?


Yarn Chicken

I am nearing the end of this shawl. This is 22 Little Clouds, and I'm making it in that cashmere yarn hand spun in Afghanistan. Obviously I want to use every bit of this lovely stuff possible.

The shawl is an elongated triangle shape, with a ruffle border. The instructions say to save 25% of the yarn for the ruffle and bind off. The ruffle section starts by doubling the stitches on the needles, so I have about 600 stitches per row. I have two rows left, and then the bind off, which will eat yarn like crazy. My last row used about 6 grams, and I have 38 grams left.

So I'm trying to decide if I'll have enough to do FOUR more rows before the bind off instead of two. That really would be playing yarn chicken, I think, and having to undo most of a 600 stitch bind off if I'm wrong would take more whisky than I probably have in the house.

Stay tuned.



It only took me a month and a half to getting around to blocking the Ruffles shawl. In my defense, it's been 90 degrees here, and I can't wear it anyway.

At any rate, I got it washed and pinned out this morning.

I just did a “down and dirty” blocking. This yarn and the garter stitch makes for a really squishy comfy fabric, and I didn't want to change that too much.

This is the first time I've used those blocking pins. They are from Knitter's Pride, and it really makes getting a straight edge easy. I would need a ton more of them to do a bigger lace shawl, but I might just fork over the money for another set. They aren't cheap, and I have a huge set of blocking wires that work just fine, they're just fidgety. I went to a local welding shop several years ago and bought a big pack of thin wires. They work just like the expensive fancy blocking wires and were dirt cheap. I'll probably think about it for a bit, it's around $25 for one set of those**, and I'd probably need a couple more for a huge shawl. I think I might rather spend that on yarn. Not that I need that either.

I'll show a modeled photo once it's dry. And maybe once the temperature here drops into a reasonable range for woolies.

**Update. Amazon has them for 20 bucks, with free Prime shipping, so they're on their way.


Sunday afternoon on the lake, me, my knitting, and the cat. It doesn't get much better than this.

I'm still working on the same projects, slowly but surely. The lovely stuff in the photo is the Afghanistan cashmere, I'm knitting 22 Little Clouds with it.

For those of you following my attempts at not buying yarn, I caved yesterday and made a purchase. I'll post a photo when it gets here, but here is where I got it from. I'm sure you would have given in as well. I made it a few days past 8 months this time. Go sign up for her newsletter, and you'll be tempted too.



After I finished the Ruffles shawl, I needed to cast on another semi-mindless project. I mentioned in my last post that I might do another Hitchhiker shawl, so I started rummaging around in my yarn stash for the perfect yarn.

I found this.

I bought this from Peace Fleece about a year ago, and it's been sitting in a lonely yarn box ever since. The Peace Fleece owners contracted with a group of women from Afghanistan and bought some of their hand spun cashmere to sell. I snapped up two skeins of this lovely ivory yarn. It is 500 yards of about sport weight.

This stuff is just dreamy. It's like knitting with clouds. I've never knitted with 100% cashmere before, this may be a dangerous discovery.

I didn't think this would necessarily work for a Hitchhiker, so I pulled out another Martina Behm pattern, 22 Little Clouds.

The yarn and pattern are a perfect match. This is simple stockinette with a ruffle at the end (I guess I'm into ruffles this year!), with nothing to distract from the softness and beauty of the yarn.

As I'm sitting here knitting, thoughts of Maliknoz are on my mind. Her life is undoubtedly much different than mine, but I'd bet that she gets just a little bit of the same joy in spinning this beautiful fiber as I do in knitting with it.



Project Details

Pattern: This started out as a Wool Peddler shawl, by Cheryl Oberle. I got a dozen rows into the lace section and hated how it looked in this yarn. I ripped it back and just knitted many more rows of garter stitch.
The border is a ruffle, when the shawl was “big enough”, I increased every third stitch (knit 2, increase one) across the row. then I knit more garter stitch, and then did a bind off.
It's not blocked yet since I'm not home, but I think this will be a nice snuggly shawl. Sweetpea certainly likes it.
Yarn: Sirdar Balmoral, color Corgi. Yes, that's why I bought it.
Needles: 4.00 mm Holz & Stein ebony circulars
For: Me
Started/Finished: Started 10/11/16 Finished 6/25/17.
Modifications: See above
What I Learned: Don't keep knitting if it isn't working. And don't dump yarn that isn't working. I bought enough of this for a sweater, but it has enough alpaca in it that a sweater would be much too warm for me where I live. Also, despite the color name, it really isn't my favorite color. A whole sweater of this would be a bit blah. I had it in the box to go to charity, and pulled it back out to do this, since it really is very nice yarn. I have enough leftover for another medium project, perhaps it would make nice hats to put in the charity box at church.

So now I need another mindless-but-not-a-sock project. I'm thinking of starting another Hitchhiker-like shawl, since I've got tons of sock yarn that would work. The other three shawls in Martina Behm's Hitchhiker series have been on my to-do list forever, so perhaps one of those.

Here is my Winter Solstice shawl.

I have been in Minnesota for a big family reunion since late last week. Great big fun was had by all. We stayed at a lake resort in Minnesota, and had a pretty big bunch that showed up. My generation had 25 cousins, with all but 6 of us still living. About half of the cousins made it, plus spouses/partners, children, and grandchildren. Here's a group shot:
And me with Fritz. He was the youngest family member present.
And one with my sisters and Dave, Fritz's dad:


Twin Sweaters In The Wild!

And there they are, modeled by two beautiful little girls! Our neighbor, their proud grandpa, sent us this photo this morning.

I finished those back in March just after these two were born. They are just now growing into them.

Here are the sweaters as modeled by Fritz and Sweetpea.