Starting The New Year

I ended 2017 with a blog post in which I found fault in a couple of YouTube knitting videos. My tone was a bit snarky and a little tongue in cheek, and I was chastised in the comments by a total stranger for not being kind and generous to all my fellow knitters and for expecting free videos on YouTube to be a good source of information on knitting. (They are for the most part. I have found YouTube videos to be immensely helpful.) Never mind the irony of a  knitter finding fault with a fellow knitter in a not very kind way for not being patient and kind to other knitters. I guess my critic is as lacking in kindness and patience for the shortcomings and ignorance of other knitters as I am. All I can say is that my critic apparently hasn’t spent much time on the Ravelry forums or on the Yahoo knitting groups of the past. If she had, she wouldn’t have such delusions of grandeur in regard to knitters as a community. Oh, yes, we can be very kind and generous, even to muggles, but we can also be critical, snarky, acerbic, even mean. But I don’t want to belabor the point, so I will move on to other things.

Xmas 2017 brought me some excellent gifts. Here is a sampling:

A hand-thrown yarn bowl from my DIL’s mother and aunt who are definitely kind and generous


The bowl is signed and dated.


So many pretty colors. And, yes, I have used it already, and it is fabulous. I have wanted a yarn bowl for a long time.


The givers of the yarn bowl also gave me this fantastic little knitting book. It’s the perfect size to stash away in a project bag.


It wouldn’t be Xmas without an assortment of Pittsburgh Penguins paraphernalia. These are from the DH, and my fave among the lot are the Fleury #29 away sweater earrings. I’ll for sure wear these when Marc-Andre makes his return to Pittsburgh next month.


I’m not difficult to shop for. My DS gave me some favorites from Trader Joe’s.


And Xmas just wouldn’t be the same without a book from my DIL. She hasn’t missed yet. Every book she has given me has been amazing, and I know this one will be, too.


I have knitting and spinning to share, and maybe even some musings on my late-life surprise–curly hair. I hope yinz are staying warm. It’s only 12ºF here in beautiful Brookline, Pittsburgh, PA.

Tour De Fleece Day 16 (Stage 15)

Today was a challenge day, and since I didn’t do any spinning yesterday because I sometimes do have a life, I challenged myself to spin a full 4 ounces of fiber today.

Here is a picture of success!

ITW Zephyr on Polwarth. This is a fractal spin done on my Flatiron in double drive. The singles are very thin and when plied together will make a fingering weight yarn, or maybe sport weight if the Polwarth poofs a lot when I wash the skein.

Dancing With Lord Stanley


The Captain kisses the Cup. (Robert Reiners/Getty Images)

As you know, in addition to being an avid knitter and spinner, I am also a sports fan and a self-described hockey nut. I love watching ice hockey, and I’m a big fan of the NHL. So big a fan, in fact, that my husband has started buying me Center Ice for my birthday every year so that I can totally pig out on hockey.

My very favorite hockey team is the Pittsburgh Penguins, and since we now live in Pittsburgh, we are able to actually attend some games instead of just watching on television. The DH and I attended four games this past hockey season and saw the Pens win three time and lose only once, and that was in OT.

It was a rough season for the Penguins. Second year head coach Mike Johnston seemed to be in way over his head, and the boys didn’t look like they were enjoying themselves on the ice. They were inconsistent from one game to the next, losing more games than they should have given the level of talent on the team, and playing the most boring style of hockey imaginable.

Thankfully, after a couple of months, GM Jim Rutherford saw fit to fire Johnston and bring up Mike Sullivan, head coach of the Penguins’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, to take over the duties as bench boss. He also realized the team needed more speed if they were to turn things around, and he made some brilliant trades to achieve this. Between the acquisitions last summer and before the trade deadline in February and players brought up from WBS, the team was revamped and went from being a slow, plodding, boring team to an offensive and defensive juggernaut driven by skill and speed.

When Sully took over the team, they were out of a playoff spot, but that soon changed. The Penguins moved up to a wildcard spot in the standings, then made a charge in the month of March that pushed them up into a solid second place in their division.

Playoff hockey started in April, and the Penguins had a tough row to hoe. In the first round they faced a strong, physical New York Rangers team; in the second, they went up against the winningest team during the regular season, the Washington Capitals; in the third round, they had to play against last year’s Stanley Cup Finals finalist, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Going into the first round, we were without our starting goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, and our back-up goalie, Matt Murray. The third goalie, Jeff Zatkoff, stepped up to the plate and won the first game of the series, but lost in the second game. Fortunately, Murray was able to return to the line-up, and except for a hiccup when he was pulled in the third period of a game and sat out the next game, he played brilliantly and joined an elite group of goalies who have won 15 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs as rookies.

Going into the final series, the Penguins were up against the Western Conference Champions, the San Jose Sharks. Not many people outside the Pittsburgh fan base were giving the Penguins much of a chance. In the past 10 years, the Western Conference has won most of the finals, and the sports pundits all seemed to think that the bigger, harder-hitting Sharks would overcome the skill and speed of the Penguins. But there’s a reason why the games are played. Reality painted a different picture. The speed and skill of the Penguins neutralized the Sharks’ attack, and the Penguins won the best-of-seven series in six games, holding the Sharks to just two shots in the third period of game five in San Jose. It’s hard to score if you cannot get the puck to the net, eh?

Had it not been for the stellar goaltending of the Sharks’ goalie, Martin Jones, the Penguins may well have swept the series and every game probably would have been a rout.

The Penguins faced and overcame a lot of adversity to make it to pinnacle of sport, and for us fans, it was amazing to watch this team go from being directionless to being single-mindedly focused on playing the best hockey they could play. The young players who were called up from WBS to become starters or to fill in temporarily for injured players fit in smoothly, and the newcomers quickly developed chemistry with veteran Penguins and with each other. Coach Sullivan was able to put four strong lines out on the ice knowing each line would play well in all three zones, and all three defensive pairings were reliable. Add the solid netminding of Fleury and Murray and you have the perfect recipe for winning Lord Stanley’s Cup.


A moment to remember. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Let’s do this again next year!