Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Shawl For My Sis

Last week my sister had a key birthday.  Her favorite color is Periwinkle. 

Meanwhile, I had gotten "The Shawl Bug" which seems to happen sooner and later to spinners and knitters.  And after a lot of obsessing, THIS shawl is something I'm thrilled with.  The reason is... well, long story short, the first shawl I made was a disaster.  I liked the looks of it in terms of stitch pattern, but it had the same problems I've found in just about every other knitted shawl I've tried on, and that's a LOT.  (All yarn stores seem to have a zillion of them hanging around, and you betchum that I've tried on all of them.)  They just don't fit!  They don't want to stay on at the best, and at the worst, you have to fight off the antithetical build of their shape just to get them to wrap around you, and then all they want to do is find a way to fall off.  Talk about frustration no one needs.

So after I made that shawl, I hated it.  It was too small (partly my fault but not entirely).  But then also, while it met in the middle at the neck (almost, okay, it really didn't), the front edges just spread out from there on down so that it was just not flattering at all. 

So I frogged the whole thing, just sat there unraveling hours of work.  And started over, this time with a calculator and a whole lotta measuring and picturing the dynamics of "hang."  So I kept the stitch pattern design.  Totally changed the build.  I was semi-happy with it, actually more than semi, but not entirely.  But it served as my prototype from which to make more modifications.

And voila.  The second one I made was this one for my sis, and THIS one FITS!!  Also, to make it tailored to my sister's size and lengths, I sneakily got measurements by asking her to play "dress form" on the shawl I was re-making for me (after frogging the whole above first try).  She never knew I was taking her measurements, not the shawl's. 

So here it is.  I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.  It stays put.  It meets in the middle in your choice of two places (high neck or lower V), and it keeps meeting in the middle all the way down.  Yes, yes, finally Yesss!!  I also added some moving room on the sides (where arms DO exist and move around, hello?)
All her kids came with families except those who couldn't because of distance.  We all brought a dish including a super tasty birthday cake made by her Daughter #1, and yours truly spent a full day going through zillions of 1940's music to ferret out 2 hours worth of music by original artists (Mills Brothers, Inkspots, Earl Bostic, Andrews Sisters and the like) into a master mix, each and every one of them being music we both grew up with during the very happy childhood times.  Many were among the "Our Songs" of our parents, all stuff we listened to daily when Sis was 3-10 years old.  Jenny gave her a hand woven project for her kitchen which I happen to know hits the spot on Sis's taste, and Sis's #1 Daughter also put together a phenomenal picture book where every page spread was themed around each person in her life, whose HANDWRITING appeared in letter form, each telling stories about times with her that were so meaningful to them.

It turned out to be a pretty amazing birthday day, not only for Sis but for all of us.  Very much like old times, with something very magical about the whole day, from start to finish.  If you believe in Sainthood, my Sis is one of those.  Dusty sense of humor and all.

A New Chapter... Cloud Horse Re-homed

UPDATE NOTE, added 10/27/11.  I'm leaving this post intact so it will remind me just how wrong I was.  I've always been a great reader of people, and must have gotten cocky.  I gave them a horse on 9/20 who was in perfect condition (I have videos of her cantering happily with each of them riding her, taken 2 days prior).  With every term on the contract having been defaulted upon, and more egregious defaults on the horizon, I got wind of it all and took repossession of Cloud on 10/19, just 29 days later.  Horse was rendered lame.  Details cannot be gotten from anyone as to how she showed that, but I got plenty of details how my "stellar new owners" know NOTHING about responsible horse care.  Lies, lies and more lies.    And everything I've learned about them since just spells very, very irresponsible, and beyond stupid, people.  Some of the things she did with my horse just defy rudimentary common sense.  Next time, I will dig a little for real references and ask very specific questions.  I got royally and expensively duped, and my horse got royally messed up.  

So this post stays, just as written originally.  I need to re-read it a thousand times to tune into any signs I could have seen.  My only excuse to myself is that this woman is a very accomplished liar.  Can't believe I didn't see some sign. 


A bittersweet decision. 

There comes a time in life where you have to give something up, not because you want to, but because continuing to do it is just getting harder to maintain.  Sometimes it's because not giving it up becomes selfish.  And sometimes, it's just the smart thing to do from a standpoint of common sense.  Any of those reasons can be independent of the others, but in this case, all three were becoming undeniable realities. 

I knew it was time to find Cloud a new home.  I kept putting it off.  Didn't advertise.  Didn't want to deal with it.  Didn't want to give up what was.  But as well as Cloud did as an only horse while she was being trailered to trails and outings, at a point she started becoming a lonely horse, because she wasn't.  The guilt in seeing that happening is crushing.

First of all, meet Cloud.  Photo taken 3 months ago.  Trotting in for afternoon yummies, nickering the whole way...

    It's pretty hard to believe that this horse is at the higher end of 23 years old.  Beautiful registered Paint, great blood lines, bred by a physician whose hobby was breeding horses, she has gorgeous blue eyes, to boot.  Stunning under gait for an older gal, unusually straight, strong top line, outstanding health and soundness.  Now add extremely well trained, responds to English as well as the most sensitive Western neck reining and other cues, responds to those as well as verbals only, loads herself in and out of trailers of any type, great on the trails, will go into water, over/under bridges, climb rocks, and if you canter her next to another horse, she thinks it's off to the races and her stride widens so she flies.  Fun spirit.  And an absolute shame to allow to stand around, languishing day in, day out.  All that highly desireable stuff, going to waste. 

New owner came along, a better situation for Cloud than I could have designed from a wish list.  A solid, young family of horse lovers, where Mom is very experienced and has her own horse, Dad isn't as experienced but not ashamed of that, and a gentle, sensitive man.  Mom works at a boarding/training facility where there are 17 other horses in fantastic accommodations from a horse's standpoint.  Beautiful corrals with run-ins, stalls if needed, bathing station, outdoor training arenas, one bare, one with obstacles to learn on, and miles of gorgeous wide trails with great footing.  Cloud will be Dad's horse, and he's 5-8, weighs 150 which is a great size for a 15:3HH horse Cloud's age.  And Mom is not only there on property every day, but a Vet Tech to boot.  I really like these people.  She could easily be my daughter and he could easily be my son in law.

Money?  Got very little.  I know, and they know that Cloud is worth over 5 times what we ended up at.  It wasn't their opinion of her value, just finances.  They'd just bought their daughter a horse at the same time, and it turns out that he might need some special medical care.  I'd set a low price to start with, specifically so I could have a big choice of homes, but we ended up at 1/3rd of that.  Instead, we worked it out that I can still ride Cloud from time to time for a while.  It gives me a soft landing on hanging up my reins.  And since I'm easy to ride with, and Mom would be also, it's an easy condition for Mom to satisfy.  She got a great deal, Cloud got a great deal.  And actually, so did I, in the form of knowing a horse who's meant a lot to me, is getting a phenomenal situation. 

Yeah, I really like these people, and trusted them by gut feeling the second I met them, as well as everything I've seen since then, which is a fair bit.  It just doesn't get better than that.