Monthly Archives: October 2008

Prayer shawl

My lovely neighbor, Donna, very recently had to have surgery to remove a breast lump and a lymph node. The diagnosis was a slow-growing malignancy, and she and the doctors feel everything is fine, which is very good news. I wanted to do something for Donna prior to her surgery, but she has a great neighborhood and family support group and didn’t need the traditional casserole or help cleaning house. So I made her a prayer shawl.

Donna is a devout Roman Catholic (and a democrat, like my mom, a fading breed of Catholic, I fear) and she loved the idea of a shawl made while I was thinking healing/holy thoughts for her. I didn’t mention that parts of the shawl were made while I was watching vampire movies, but I did point out that one or two rows were less than piety-drenched as I had to rip back and re-crochet. I crocheted the shawl because I knit so slowly.

Here’s a picture of the finished shawl, folded in half and draped over my glider. It’s a long rectangle.

And for those interested, here’s a basic recipe for the stitch, which also makes a nice scarf. While much crochet is stiff, this stitch is very flexible and has lovely drape. It also works up quickly. I used Lionbrand Homespun for this shawl, but I’ve done a scarf in plain worsted and it looks great also. I’m going to make myself one of leftover homespun, sans prayers and heavy on the horror movies, as soon as I finish knitting a few Christmas presents.

Crocheted scarf or shawl (prayer or otherwise)

Using a hook one size larger than recommended on the yarn wrapper (2 sizes larger if you typically crochet tightly), chain an even number of stitches. I use around 12 for a scarf and used 40 for the shawl. For a larger person (Donna is short/small), I’d add 10 to 20 more stitches. Just be sure you use an even number.

NOTE: “Make one” means “chain one,” but I changed terms as it makes the pattern easier to understand.

Row One: Single crochet in the second chain, *make one, skip a chain, single crochet in next chain.* Repeat from * until you reach the end of the row, ending with a single crochet in the last chain. Chain one, turn.

Row Two and All Other Rows: Single crochet in the base of the turning chain/top of the last single crochet of previous row, *make one, skip chain one space, single crochet in next stitch (top of a single crochet).* Repeat from * until you reach the end of the row, ending with a single crochet in the last single crochet of the previous row. Chain one, turn.

Basically, with this stitch you are creating stacks of single crochets and stacks of chain one spaces. After the first row, each single crochet is made in the top of a single crochet and each chain one space is made over a chain one space.

Continue in pattern stitch until you reach desired length — 3.5 to 4 feet for a scarf and 4 to 6 feet for a shawl, depending on the recipient’s height.

Change yarn to an accent color. Single crochet in the base of the turning chain/top of the last single crochet of previous row, *make one, skip chain one space, single crochet in next stitch (top of a single crochet).* Repeat from * until you reach the end of the row, ending with a single crochet in the single crochet. Chain three, turn.

Double crochet in the top of the last single crochet, *make one, skip chain one space, double crochet in next stitch (top of a single crochet).* Repeat from * until you reach the end of the row, ending with a double crochet in the last single crochet of the previous row. Change back to main color. Chain one, turn.

Following pattern stitch and using single crochets, work two more rows in main color.

Final row, this end: Work three single crochets in the last single crochet of the previous row. *DO NOT MAKE ONE. Work three single crochets in the next single crochet.* Repeat from * to end. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Turn shawl to work on the underside of the original chain.

With accent color, single crochet in the bottom of the first chain, *make one, skip chain one space, single crochet in next stitch (top of a single crochet).* Repeat from * until you reach the end of the row, ending with a single crochet in the single crochet. Chain three, turn.

Double crochet in the top of the last single crochet, *make one, skip chain one space, double crochet in next stitch (top of a single crochet).* Repeat from * until you reach the end of the row, ending with a double crochet in the last single crochet of the previous row. Change back to main color. Chain one, turn.

Following pattern stitch and using single crochets, work two more rows in main color.

Final row, this end: Work three single crochets in the last single crochet of the previous row. *DO NOT MAKE ONE. Work three single crochets in the next single crochet.* Repeat from * to end. Cut yarn and weave in ends.

You’re done!

The double crochet accent and the three single crochets of the final row on each end provide a little flair that is not quite so full as a ruffle. The scarf or shawl will be very warm and very, very soft and drapey. Give it away or keep it and cuddle up. Maybe you can find a vampire movie on.

More coat tails…

I’m still proudly bombarding the BVU community with genre fiction. In the three years-and-a-bit I’ve been here, we’ve been visited by authors Susan Palwick, Jennifer Rachel Baumer, Patrick Weekes, and now Stuart McBride.* And I’m planning on asking Tamara Siler Jones, friend of Stuart and mother of one of my students, to visit my creative writing class in the spring and give a campus talk.

After returning to Scotland from Iowa (there’s a transition), Stuart posted this to his blog — and I’m linking to it for your enjoyment and to convince myself that this tiny blog entry of mine, you know, counts.

Oh, Stuart told me he wants to set a novel in the midwest, including mayhem on a college campus. Maybe a Cthulhu loving, Quaker English teacher will meet a bloody end (not in real life, silly) — we can only hope.

*I can’t take a lot credit for Stuart, as he contacted me for an invite, rather than the other way around, but as the sole light of popular fiction in our tiny academy, I’m taking what credit I can.

I am dumb

Saturday, I got up at 6 a.m., which is so wrong,  in order to leave town by 8 a.m. to drive 45 miles south to Carroll by 9 a.m. to take my car in to the Toyota dealership so they could fix my passenger window, which had stopped worked (in the down position, of course) on Tuesday.

In my own defense, I will note the following:

a) My driver side window broke last spring, requiring Toyota to give me a whole new door;

b) I was given a non-teaching assignment at work this semester which turned out to be highly political and fairly f*cked up, so my stress level has been pretty high;

c) I was still reeling from both the gout attack and the very idea that I could have something like gout.

After a chilly drive to the dealership, my car was only in the shop about 5 minutes. The service manager himself came into the waiting room to give me the tragic news…….

……..my window lock was on.

I didn’t even know I had a window lock. It’s a small button just above the window controls and next to the door locks. Never occurred to me to fiddle with it.

Fortunately, Carroll is home to the best yarn shop in N.W. Iowa.

Sunday, I slept in.

Call me “Squire”

What does a middle-aged Quaker English professor have in common with a florid, over-imbibing, fox-hunting, knee-slapping, upstairs maid-dallying specimen of Eighteenth century gentry?

No, besides the loud voice. And the buff cheer.

We both have gout.

Before I go any further, I want to apologize to former boyfriend Tom, who I know reads this blog regularly. Tom, you had a couple of bouts of gout when we were dating, and now I realize that I was NOWHERE NEAR sympathetic enough.

Gout hurts — hurts enough to cause nausea.

And stop laughing! I’m finding that the second most painful aspect of gout is that people who don’t have it don’t take it very seriously.

I said, stop laughing!

And how did I get gout? Well, big sis Linda informs me that Grandpa Curran had it, and it runs in families. Second, I spent at least six months eating an extremely clean, virtually fat- and caffeine-free diet, and then starting in mid-August, I went a little bit crazy. Okay, a lot crazy. Chocolate. Homemade pesto. Homemade cheese. Coffee. Booze. Pizza. And now I’m paying for it.

Two days of pain takes it out of a girl. The dogs got a walk this morning, but not this evening. They are giving me THE LOOK — heads bent, sad eyes looking up, poor doggies suffering at the hand of a whimsically evil owner. I’m pretty sure their next strategy will be this:

This man is similar to me in more ways than one. In addition to the unwalked dog attack, note the cane carried for gout relief and the inordinately large, chocolate and pesto padded butt.

Stop laughing!