Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
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Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 9:44 pm on Thursday, November 3, 2005

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Retired Blog

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 5:07 pm on Friday, September 23, 2005

As of September 23, 2005, this blog has officially been retired. The archives will be maintained for any who wish to browse them, but there will be no new posts.

My adventures continue, however, and you can keep reading them at my new blog, I Knit Around.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll stay with me on the next leg of my journey.

It’s About Time

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 5:44 pm on Thursday, September 22, 2005

As of tomorrow, this blog and four others will be retired. They will be replaced with my new blog, I Knit Around, to which I have been cross-posting this week.

The blogs that are retiring are:

I have found that under my current reality, I want a single blog that presents an integrated view of these aspects of my life, since any given day may see several of these subjects mixed together.

If you are a regular reader of any of these five blogs, please join me at the new site. It will contain all the topics you’ve been reading about until now, only they will be presented in context as a part of my whole life, not just one aspect. The URL to bookmark is:

http://www.folkcatart.com/knitaround

Three other blogs will remain separate. They are:

The first of these is my beading blog, and that subject still has enough life of its own to merit a dedicated blog. The last two aren’t entirely used as blogs – they are more like project-specific databases. And so they stay as well.

At some point, I’ll be changing my homepage as well. It has served as a central hub for all my blogs, and obviously that purpose changes somewhat now. I will likely be using a blog format there, with links on the sidebar and current news and updates listed in the posts.

My thanks to all of you (it’s what, at least three, right?) who have been reading my oft-times odd posts. I enjoy what blogging does as it helps me examine my life and strive to find better focus and understanding.

I Knit Around

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 10:24 pm on Monday, September 19, 2005

I’ve decided that what I’ve been doing in these knitting photos isn’t really “Extreme Knitting”. Rather, I’m going to call it “Knitting Around”.

So, what exactly does “Knitting Around” mean? To me, it means that I find places that are interesting to knit. Places that are worth visiting on their own merits, like the Wilton Town Hall Theatre, or the many unique and historic bridges in our neighborhood. Knitting Around can also happen at a special event, like a Knit Out; a family reunion; a wedding. The entire point is that the event or place itself is noteworthy.

My latest “Knitting Around” happened Sunday.

The Wok Wok Restaurant in Milford, NH
The Wok Wok Restaurant in Milford, NH

Wok Wok, located in Lorden Plaza in Milford, is a simple take-out restaurant with some tables to sit at as well. We began going there a few years ago, right after they opened. Somehow, we hit it off with the owner and his family, and while we’re not “let’s hang out today” friends, we do consider them friends. I even took Jenny Lim and her sister shopping at a bead store once, a year or so before I opened my own. And Jenny always smiles and waves when we come in, calling out “Hello, Jenny! Hello, Mr. Bill!”

The Dining Room at the Wok Wok Restaurant
Roomy, Comfortable, and Clean

We went out on errands on Sunday, and decided we could afford to stop for lunch at Wok Wok – something we haven’t been able to do for some time. As we pulled into our parking space, I had a sudden thought – why not knit in the kitchen of my favorite Chinese restaurant?

The Lim Family with Folkcat in the Wok Wok Kitchen
Back Row, l. to r.: Ben Lim, Folkcat, Jenny Lim, and Nicole Zheng.
Front Row, l. to r.: Jacky Lim, Billie Lim

The question took but a moment to ask, and Ben agreed that we could take the picture. And since the Lim family is so much the essence of the restaurant, I asked that they all join me.

You will frequently find the children in the restaurant with their mom in the evenings and on weekends. Jacky, the boy, has become quite good at taking customers’ orders and working the register, and I’m sure the girls will be doing their part as they get older.

There are dozens of Chinese restaurants in New Hampshire. I can’t afford to eat at the really fancy ones that I suppose might have high-quality fare, but there’s no reason a take-out restaurant can’t produce food every bit as good as the expensive ones.

Up until Wok Wok came along, though, I was beginning to doubt that, since I’d been disappointed by so many. Wok Wok proved to be a delight, tasty food from fresh ingredients, and well prepared. Some of my favorites are the Crab Rangoon, the fried dumplings (that’s “Peking Ravioli” for those who only know Americanized New England Chinese restaurants), lemon chicken, chicken fingers, and….well, the list literally goes on.

The knitting is, once again, Wearable Hug 12, aka Bridgette. So, in addition to the essence of many bridges, she now has a multi-cultural flavor.

It’s going to be interesting to learn who she belongs to.

Important Final Note:

This entry is being cross-posted to my new blog, called, well….I Knit Around. I’ve given warnings elsewhere that I’m considering consolidating a number of my blogs down to one, and I’m close to that happening. By the end of this week, I expect that I will be retiring five of my blogs – including the one you’re reading now, Folkcat’s Fiber Crafts, and replacing them with one that covers several subjects. You can read more about the plan here, or here.

The retired blogs won’t go completely away – I’ll be keeping them as archives, probably with a separate link on the sidebar of the new blog. Meanwhile, you might want to pop over there and bookmark I Knit Around so you can continue reading uninterrupted.

Thanks for joining me today!

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The Thrill of Knittery – the Agony of De-Finger

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 6:18 pm on Thursday, September 15, 2005

I’ve been feeling a little off the last couple of days, and blogging is one of the things to have suffered in that slump.

In spite of it, though, I managed to do some work on a new knitting project. I’ve decided to tackle a multi-piece, semi-fitted garment for the first time. Socks don’t count, really – they’re elaborate tubes. What I’m talking about is a sweater vest.

The goal is to inexpensively enhance Gryphon’s career- and interview-oriented wardrobe. I actually picked up the pattern something like 3 or 4 years ago, I think. Lately, however, my return to knitting, and my involvement in the community of knitting bloggers, has propelled me into tackling more and more projects of types I’ve never done before.

The pattern isn’t a fancy one. It calls for basic worsted weight yarn. In spite of never having knit a sweater-like garment before, however, I have already modified this. The original pattern has you knitting a back and a front, and seaming them at the sides and shoulders. You then pick up stitches for the arm- and neckbands to complete the vest.

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Copyright 1988 or so – Some Styles Never Die
My immediate thought was that every seam you have to stitch is another place where something can go wrong. Not to mention more work to do. So I’m working this in the round as a single piece.

I spent a day making swatches to figure out what needles to use. Turns out I want to go one size down from the 5’s and 8’s called for in the pattern. This meant digging through my circular needles and figuring out that I had no size 4’s, and I had one size 7. The size 7, though, is too small a length, and it was showing signs of the metal plating chipping at the join with the cable – which was itself coming very loose. I was also going to need size 4 dp’s to work the armbands on.

I really didn’t have the budget available in my crafting funds to buy new needles. I talked it over with Gryphon, though, and he decided it was worth stretching the household budget to supply me with the proper tools. As he said, “You’re knitting at what I consider a professional skill level. If your tools are poor quality, they’re going to wear out faster than they would for someone who’s just knitting occasionally. It’s worth spending the money to get you the right tools for the job, tools that will last longer and will give you better results.”

*sigh* I love him. He understands my work, and he appreciates and supports it. So we went to our LYS yesterday, and bought three – yes, three – sets of Addi Turbos, sizes 4, 5, and 7, as well as a basic set of size 4 dps. A stretch to the budget, yes, but they’ll last far longer than equivalent money spent on lesser brands.

Showing a small cough and running a low fever Wednesday, (and short on sleep from an uncomfortable night), my plan was to spend the rest of the day quietly at home. So, of course, after we got back with the needles, I got to work on the sweater vest.

The yarn is Red Heart Super Saver. Oh, shush. I know some of you out there are cringing, but A) it’s a very suitable yarn for the results desired, which are a basic, crisp-looking sweater vest that we can throw in the washing machine; B) it was on sale at A.C.Moore, which means this is costing less than $5 per vest; and C) …well, “C” is for I don’t Care what anyone thinks, because after all, there are no bad yarns – only yarns that don’t suit your personal tastes and purposes, and shame on anyone who thinks it’s appropriate to think less of someone for using them.

For what it’s worth, I have been showing Gryphon some of the higher-quality yarns at the LYS – the superwash wools and the better acrylic/wool blends. (Machine Washable is a must-have quality.) He really liked the feel and colors of the blends, and we’ve calculated that it would cost around $30 for enough blend yarn to do one vest. It’s on the list for when we can afford better – which may be a while. Meanwhile, considering that I can knit him six vests for that same $30 – we’re going with inexpensive.

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5 Inches Already – and no, that’s not purple, it’s navy blue
I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I worked with a basic worsted-weight yarn. Once upon a time, that was almost exclusively what I knit with. My signature piece was a Fisherman Knit afghan, all cable stitches and all worked in one piece on circular needles. I must have knit that thing at least 20 times in my life.

But it’s been a while -the latest bout of knitting (the last two years), I’ve been working with lots of Lion Brand Homespun, and with smaller weights of yarn – DKs and sock yarns and laceweight. This sweater vest is the first significant amount of acrylic worsted knitting I’ve done in a while.

A fact which was really driven home when I was reminded – if I don’t protect a certain joint in the little finger of my right hand as I knit, I get a nasty, painful callus that can develop into a blister.

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The Start of the Pain
The reddish patch in the center of the circle is the beginning of this again, resulting from how much I’ve knit on the vest in the last day.

Fortunately, this is easily avoided. I just have to remember that it’s going to happen. But so long as I wrap that joint with a simple adhesive bandage – with the pad on the inside of the finger – it’s protected from whatever rubbing it is that causes the problem.

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It’s That Simple
I’ve never really understood why this happens – and now, I don’t understand why it only happens with basic worsted-weight yarns. I knit Continental Style, which means my right hand never lets go of the right needle. But it’s not like I have a death grip on the thing.

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Showing the Position of the Little Finger Around the Needle
The only theory I have is that at the range of size generated by worsted weight yarns and appropriate needles, the skin inside that joint of that finger rubs together in a bad way.

So, I just have to remember to approach my crafting like any professional athlete does, and put on my protective gear before I start. It probably wouldn’t hurt to flex and stretch the hands a bit, too. And to remember to put the needles down at least once every 45-60 minutes, and do the flexing and stretching again. (And probably get up and walk around a little, too, and let my eyes focus on something farther than 12 inches in front of me.)

11 Bridges in 140 Minutes, Part IV: The Quest Completed

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 11:18 pm on Tuesday, September 13, 2005

4:50 p.m.: Two hours exactly since we began, and we’d already accomplished eight bridges. Not a bad start! Our next plan was to drive down Route 13 towards the Rte. 101 bypass, south of downtown Milford, to see if we could find any other bridges. We had no preconceived notions as to what we might find.

The only feature we knew of for certain was this – behind the Milford Department of Public Works building, there is the trailhead for the Granite Town Rail-Trail. There are rivers and streams throughout the area, so we figured there was a chance that we’d find a bridge somewhere here.

We were a bit surprised to find one right by the field you park in for the trail. With high growth all around it, I couldn’t be sure at first if this qualified as a bridge under the standards I had set. But we poked around in the weeds on either side, and found that this wasn’t just a convenient way to get through this patch of lumpy ground.
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Looking Around at the Wood’s Edge

Hidden in the weeds I found a small, dry channel of rocks. Aha! This was a drainage ditch, and probably it fills up with water pretty regularly. The bridge was, in fact, a bridge over a waterway – and therefore qualified for my mission.
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Bridge #9 – the Shortest We Found
The bridge turned out to be the beginning of the Rail-Trail. Crossing over, we followed the trail a short way, discovering that it followed a small river (brook? stream? I’m never sure which size is which term.)

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Behind the Milford DPW
I doubt we’d even gone a hundred yards, when I peaked over through the bushy growth, and said, “Oh, my….is that….?”

“I think it is, isn’t it?” said Gryphon. “We found another bridge!”

This one was little more than a concrete causeway, but there it was. I walked out and started knitting away at Bridgette.

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Bridge #10 – Another Surprise Find
The view was so pretty, I decided to sit down and knit a little
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Upstream – Gorgeous!
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A Relaxing Break
By now, it was only 5:05 p.m. – a mere 15 minutes since we’d finished with Bridge #8 back at the Milford Oval, and we already had reached a total of ten bridges for the day. As I mentioned last time, we knew we had one more sure thing we could end the day with.

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Bridge #11 – the Newest on Our Trip
Off to Keyes Field we went. Keyes Field is the recreational park along Elm St., with facilities for tennis, basketball, baseball, and other team sports. One of the newest features is this impressive pedestrian bridge across the Souhegan River, which connects Keyes Field to the newly-built Boys & Girls Club on the other side.
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Can You See Me Now?
Being new, of course, this was built in the present-day era of “pedestrians can’t be trusted to walk safely across a bridge, so we’ll build the sides real high so they can’t accidently do something stupid. Never mind that they can’t see the pretty river then, why would they want to see a river when they’re on a bridge?”

Can you tell I’m not impressed with modern safety standards for things like pedestrian bridges? I mean, how are you supposed to play a decent game of Pooh Sticks if you can’t lean over the railing to drop your stick in the water, then lean over the other side to watch it come out?

I did my best to stick Bridgette through the railing so she could be seen from Gryphon’s camera location on a sandbar in the river.

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Now You Can See Me!
But just to be sure you knew it was really me there with Bridgette, we took this picture, too.

The time on the last shot? 5:15 p.m. Just two hours and twenty minutes since we’d begun. Within an easy drive from home, and with very little effort, we’d found a total of eleven bridges for our quest.

That’s about 12 3/4 minutes per bridge. And most of that time was spent actually taking the pictures, not getting from one to the next, which will give you an idea of just how close these all were.

Pleased with the results of our expedition, Gryphon and I piled into the car and headed for home.

Now we just have to figure out what’s next?

Eats, Knits, and Leaves

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 3:58 pm on Tuesday, September 13, 2005

No, it’s not the study of the diet and behavior of an exotic animal.

So what is it? It’s the name of a knitting group that has been meeting monthly at the Toadstool Bookshop in Milford, NH since July. We have refreshments (Eats), we work on our current projects (Knits), and we drink tea (Leaves). Get it?

I’ve attended every gathering, but I haven’t mentioned it here yet, and that was an oversight on my part. I hope to make up for it now.

Maybe I’m remembering to blog it now because this time, I finally remembered to pull out my camera and take a picture of everybody.

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The Knitters of Eats, Knits, and Leaves

From left to right, we have:

  • Kristin, who is working on a scarf.
  • Carol, who is knitting socks.
  • Marsha, knitting a scarf of ladder yarn.
  • Julie, also knitting socks
  • Vicky – another sock knitter.
  • Standing behind Vicky, we have Patty. Her knitting project was a Christmas stocking.
  • And finally, Kat (with a K), knitting a baby blanket for a friend.

I worked on Wearable Hug 12 (WH12) aka Bridgette. If you look closely on the table in front of Vicki, you can just see a blob of pink – that’s her resting there while I took the picture. (You know, I just looked closely, and I even made it into the picture myself. Look at the spot of light in the window – that’s the reflection of the camera flash – and you can just see me standing there.)

It always takes a little time for a group to find itself, but I think EK&L gelled with this month’s gathering. We had a great time talking about everything under the sun, from kids in school to silly television to good books. The Eats were particularly good this time, too – Vicky’s husband made incredible chocolate chip cookies, and Patty brought an apple pastry that was somewhere between a cake, a tart, and a pie, and absolutely delicious. (She’s promised to e-mail me the recipe, and has given me permission to post it at Folkcat in the Kitchen.)

It’s been nice to have a knitting group to go to, and I’m looking forward to future meetings. If you’d like to join us, they’re held on the second Monday of each month at the Toadstool Bookshop in Lorden Plaza, Milford, NH. If you’re not sure where that is, you can find contact information at their website. Or e-mail me using the link on the sidebar at fiber AT folkcatart DOT com.

The next meeting will be on Monday, October 10, from 7 to 9 p.m. Yes, that’s Columbus Day Monday, but we decided that enough of us wanted to get together anyhow.

We’re open to any and all knitters in the area, and there are no fees or dues involved. So come on by, if you can!

Belated Answer to a Comment

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 11:30 pm on Monday, September 12, 2005

First of all, so sorry for taking this long to answer your question.

I was asked how long it took me to knit my latest pair of socks. The answer is, I really don’t know.

Checking back through my blog entries, I find that I began knitting Sock Experiment 4 (SE4) all the way back on or about July 5th. Yeah, that’s something like two months ago.

I never timed any of my knitting sessions, and I did have long periods of not working on them. So unfortunately, I can’t really give an accurate answer to “how long did it take to knit them?”

Other than, “less than two months”.

Silliness aside, I have to point out that I’m still fairly inexperienced at sock knitting, though I am getting better at it with each attempt. My mother, who’s been knitting socks since sometime last year, tells me that she takes about two weeks for a pair. And keep in mind, she has severe rheumatoid arthritis in her hands, so she’s probably not as fast as she’d like to be.

If I didn’t work on any other projects (not likely to happen in my lifetime), and focused solely on the socks, I could probably match or better my mother’s time.

So, for what it’s worth – there it is. Hope that helps!

11 Bridges in 140 Minutes, Part III: Memories of Times Past

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 4:15 pm on Monday, September 12, 2005

Time for a Refreshing Beverage – Visit Our Snack Bar Before the Main Feature!

It must have been a busy weekend, and I probably timed it all wrong, too. Plus I likely don’t have enough readers to make up for those two factors. But the contest I announced Friday saw no entries this time through. That’s okay – maybe I’ll set it up better next time.

Meanwhile, here’s the answer to the Mystery WIP: it’s a cozy for my iced tea glass!
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Cozy Tea in a Tea Cozy
I would also have accepted beverage sleeve, beer or can cozy, or any variant that amounted to putting a container of cold beverage inside this little sock-like object.

This was knitted with Sockotta yarn, using the classic Zimmerman Pi Shawl start, then working straight up the sides. Maybe not quite straight – there were six rounds of K1P1 ribbing, followed by 4 repeats of Traveling Vine lace, then about six more rounds of ribbing at the top.

The reason I knit this is simple – condensation on the glass, dripping all over me and pooling on the table in large volumes. I’d developed a habit of wrapping the glass in a facial tissue, which kept the condensation under control, but looked bad and tended to shred.

This beverage cozy gives me an attractive and reusable solution.

Time for Our Feature Presentation:

Our heroes, Folkcat the knitter, and Gryphon the photographer, had just finished visiting a pair of bridges – one old, one new – along Rte. 101 in Wilton. The time was 3:30 p.m., a mere 35 minutes after their quest had begun. Where to now? We had ideas, but little did we know that the common theme for the next four bridges would be memories. One was a veterans’ memorial; one named in memory of a military hero

“Well, I think the obvious thing is work along the Souhegan River back into Milford,” I said. “We know there’s the new bridge near where we took our first Extreme Knitting picture.”

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Junction Sign at Bridge #5

The Veterans Memorial Bridge, at the junction of Rtes. 101 and 101A, is a modern road that passes over the Souhegan River. It has a very wide shoulder, however, making it safe for walking. There is parking near one end, and one can even drive right down to the river, where there are signs posted explaining the various types of fish that are stocked there by the Fish Hatcheries (which are just down the road).

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Fishy Young’uns

We went down to the river together to scout the camera angle. There was an angler under the bridge who was trying his luck.

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Knitting on the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge, Milford, NH
Good thing that WH12 is such a bright color, or you’d never see it at some of these distances!

4:00 p.m.: Our next stop was in downtown Milford, where we knew we could pick off several bridges. The first was one I’ve taken pictures of before – it’s commonly known as “The Stone Bridge”, but officially, it’s the “Colonel John Shepard Bridge”.
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Proof of Name for Bridge #6
This bridge was named for the founding father of the town of Milford. According to the Milford Historical Society’s website: “In 1741 John Shepard was given 120 acres of land beside the Souhegan River on condition that he build a grist mill and sawmill. All that remains today is the name given the site: the mill by the ford, or Milford.”

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On the Colonel John Shepard Bridge, Milford, NH
The best view of this bridge, in my opinion, is from Emerson Park, which is a well-hidden but beautifully kept little spot along the Souhegan River. Access to the park is at the North end of the bridge.

4:15 p.m.: A short walk down one of the side streets near the Colonel Shepard Bridge, and you find the oldest – and arguably, the most picturesque – of the bridges on our tour. I’ve heard this one variously called “The Walking Bridge,” “The Swinging Bridge,” and merely “The Pedestrian Bridge”.

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The Essential Info on Bridge #7
Built in 1889, the Swinging Bridge is a classic suspension bridge. Designed for pedestrians only, it connects a quiet residential neighborhood with downtown Milford, via the Souhegan River. This bridge may not be for the squeamish – you can actually feel it swing and sway under your feet as you walk across, though it’s sturdily built and unlikely to go anywhere.

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The Grand Entry to the Bridge
1889 was the height of Victorian times, and the elaborate ironwork at the end of the bridge shows that.

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View From Down River
We sent Gryphon down a walking trail along the river to find his vantage point for the long shot. As you can see, this bridge has been subjected to modifications based on modern safety concerns. The railings on the side are so high, I had to almost hold my knitting over my head for you to see it.

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Easier to See From Here
So we took a picture from right on the bridge as well, so you can see it’s really me and I’m really knitting.

4:35 p.m.: Merely 1 hour and 40 minutes since beginning, and we’ve already found seven bridges. Our next one would also be in downtown Milford – and it’s one that we bet a lot of people don’t even realize is a bridge, even when they stand on it looking at the water.

This one has a double-whammy of memories. It’s right next to the Korean Veterans’ Memorial on Elm Street, which you would think to be history enough. But as Gryphon and I were exploring this mini-park, Gryphon spotted this plaque behind the memorial.

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Ye Olde Blacksmith Shop
So, once upon a time, this was the site of what I assume was Milford’s original blacksmith shop.

Currently, the river here goes over a small dam before passing under Elm St.

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Knitting on Bridge #8
If you were driving over this one and blinked, you’d probably miss the fact that you’re on a bridge.

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What I was Looking at as I Knitted

By the time we were done here, it wsa 4:45 p.m. – 1 hour and 50 minutes since we’d started. We knew of one more bridge for certain, but we wanted to save that for a good finish. With a little time on our hands, we decided to speculatively drive down Route 13 towards the Route 101 bypass to see if we could turn up any bridges we didn’t know about.

And we did. But that’s a story for next time!

Tune in tomorrow for the final chapter, as we discover bridges 9 through 11!

Contest Closed – or Rather, Faded Away

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 1:48 pm on Monday, September 12, 2005

Well, I guess starting a contest late on Friday to end on Sunday may not be the best idea. Not one comment, so, no winner.

I probably had an overblown sense of the numbers of my readership, too. Or at least, no sense at all. I know you’re out there, I just don’t know how regularly.

No biggie. It was a spur of the moment thing, and those always do what they want, regardless of what you hope for.

I’ll post a picture of the finished object later. As well as the next entry in the “11 Bridges in 140 Minutes” saga.

Thanks for reading!

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