Saturday, September 30, 2006

I Was Malled!

OK, I totally didn't plan this. I went to my hairdresser, got a trim and a much-needed 'blonding', and then meant to just stop by Borders to find a book on HTML, so I can figure out part of what the Blogger stuff means and tweak the annoying parts.

Right. Finding a book on computer stuff seems to take a LOT of time. I admit, somewhat grudgingly, it is a lot like trying to organize knitting books. How do you organize them? Alphabetically by title? By author? Alphabetically by subject? Oy. Finally I went to the self-serve computer lookup and found that there are these teensy-tiny alpha-numeric references on some of the labels on the shelves, and Yay! That led me to the rather dizzying array of books with HTML in the titles. Eventually I found one that had answers to 2 of my current questions, and I left happy.

This Borders is across the street from a monster mall, and it occurred to me that, while I was there, I could find a replacement for my long-deceased wallet. OK, keep laughing. I deserve it. It's a long way to the average department store in a mall these days, with lots and lots of boutique temptations along the way. I won't 'fess up to all the other stops, but I will say that even Nordstrom has a really limited selection of wallets. You can pay an outrageous amount for a poorly-designed 'designer' wallet, or you can buy inexpensive but well-organized dreck. I found a compromise, but I think I spent at least 50% of my time in the mall trying to make that decision.

Knitting content? Oh, yeah, this is a soi-disant knitting blog. I am happy to report that I got nearly a foot knitted on my current charity scarf while becoming blond. And what did I do for DH? I brought him home a little box of Godiva chocolates. I'm really planning to keep him!

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Mini-Tour of Santa Monica

Yesterday I met MT, a knitting friend, in Santa Monica, over on LA's Westside. The facts of driving in LA are that it usually takes at least an hour to get to anywhere that's over 10 miles away. That time/distance was my commute when I was working, and DH still drives that. These days it seems that there's heavy traffic regardless of the time of day.

My friend has a really busy schedule, so we don't manage to get together very often, and we always look forward to a meet-up. First we went to an awesome bead store. This is the first bead store I've been to, so I was stunned by all the goodies, major sensory overload. MT helped me put things in perspective, and after lots of looking and choosing and rethinking, I got beads for 3 sets of stitch markers, plus some really quality findings. I am SO going to have to practice that twist-around-the wire stuff. My friend had made the earrings she was weraring, and is so talented; she made a beautiful little spiral as the decoration at the bottom.

Lunch was at a little cafe just down the street, and while we munched out on prosciutto and mozzarella on ciabatta, we had our usual show-and-tell of projects. She had a little shoulder shawl, light as a feather, in a gorgeous handpainted yarn, plus a project she's just started with a peachy-pink-coral mohair, lovely little variations in the colors. I showed off my camel-colored seamen's scarf and the Kiri I made this summer in a lavender sportweight cotton.

The program had us going to two LYSs, but we didn't make it to the second one. Yarns Unlimited has 10-foot (or taller) ceilings, and the yarns are stacked that high. I was ISO some Brown Sheep or similar superwash yarn for the hats for the Alaska boys. They carry the Bulky and the NatureSpun, but not superwash. But they had some Dale of Norway Freestyle, which is superwash, and in smaller skeins. Since I needed just a bit of two colors for accents, this was a happy find. And then MT showed me the 'back room'. Oh. My. God. Still more yarns, most of them in bags, and a major treasure trove of deeply discounted clearance items. I found 12 skeins of some beautiful mid-green Italian superwash at half price, $3.50/skein; they now have a good home at CBM's yarn shop. There was also some incredibly soft 100% merino fingering weight yarn, but all in very pastel shades, nothing that said "You HAVE to take me home!"

By that time, we had only half an hour until MT had to pick up her boys from school, so we said goodbye. I also had some other errands to do, and headed east. On the way I was about to drive right past Stitches from the Heart, which is a small LYS run by the national charity. They provide clothing for babies and kids in need, and it's always fun to check out what's going on there. Since my car brakes for yarn, I doubled back and went in. They carry some upscale yarns and a wide selection of the best kinds of acrylics for baby clothing. There was an adorable polo shirt made from just over one skein of some aran weight in greens, so I picked up the two skeins. The owner/managers have a "customer loyalty card", and I had finished filling up my card the last time I'd been in, several months ago. Imagine my happy surprise when they said my reward was *any* of their wooden needles! Including Lantern Moons! Now you know I'm pretty much a circular knitter, but there were some gorgeous 10 1/2s just staring back at me. No-brainer? Absolutely!! Now for scarves in that gauge, I can use my Lantern Moon straights and enjoy the beauty and smooth finish.

Then to other errands, all on the way back home to Burbank. BTW, Borders has Wendy Johnson's book (her blog is Wendy Knits!)in the '3 for 2' section right now. Good buy!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Meme? How Do You Pronounce That?

OK, Grumperina started this, and we're knitbuds from 'way back at the Knitting Forum (now possibly becoming an endangered resource), so I guess I'll give this a try. Mem? Mee Mee? Where's a slang dictionary when you want one?

Ten Knitterly Things
1) I learned to crochet sometime before junior high school, but I don't remember just when. Or whether I learned from my mother or my grandmother. Weird, huh? The timing comes because of other life events after junior high, and I just can't recall who taught me. Now Mom doesn't remember either. Enh.

2) My first husband's mother (my first MIL?) taught me the basics of knitting my junior year of college. As I recall, I learned a LOT about frogging, lol! I have an old knitted scarf in a nice brown yarn with some light grey fibers, what we called 'frosted' I think, some kind of acrylic. I think this is the same yarn I learned with, but since it's knitted without any major errors, I must have ripped out and re-knitted it.

3) I got some pattern books and Barbara Abbey's 'Complete Book of Knitting' around 1980, and managed to teach myself enough to make two top-down pullovers. I wore them to work, too. Yarns from LeeWards, of course.

4) Sometime around then I learned the double-sided knitting technique. That was a great idea for scarves in Denver's winter climate. I made a couple of 'Dr Who'-style uber-long striped scarves for friends. Even for a scarf that is just long enough to reach the knees, when the friend is 6'4", that's a LONG scarf.

5) At Christmas 2003, all my yarn fit in one small three-drawer storage chest. At Christmas 2004, I had already reached SABLE status.

6) My first return-to-knitting project was a major disaster. It involved some very beautiful and pricey hand-dyed thin rayon chenille. Rayon chenille 'worms', that is it unwinds from its core and this causes loops to work their way out of the stitches. Badly. Over and over again. I sometimes still wish evil things to happen to the snippy LYS clerk, who sold the yarn to an admitted newbie with no warnings.

7) I learned to knit in the 'throwing' style. But I taught myself to knit Continental and I now use it exclusively. For a learning project, I chose a baby blanket with 6 knit rows and 2 pattern rows, and by the time the blanket was done, I was pretty good with the knit stitch part. Purling took more practice. Finally this year I learned to keep my left forefinger close to the needle rather than up in the air as if I were crocheting, and this has really added to my knitting speed, especially for purling.

8) I absolutely hate knitting with any sort of puffy yarn, such as Lion Brand's Homespun or yarns that make a 'velvety' fabric, like Wendy's Peter Pan Velvet Touch. Or chenille of any sort. See above, lol!

9) I'm a huge fan of circular needles and I use bamboo or wooden circs nearly all the time. I like the Crystal Palace bamboo needles a lot, but WEBS has a house brand that are nearly identical and half the price. I've treated myself to one of the new Lantern Moon rosewood circs, and they are lovely indeed. The Susanne's ebony circs are also excellent and less expensive.

10) I like making socks, but I've only finished 2 pairs; I think there are 4 pairs buried in the UFOs. Knitter's ADD is part of the problem, but I've learned I can't see the stitches properly without my Ottlight.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Done But Not Finished

There is some knitting progress, but I'm ISO (In Search Of) advice from more-experienced knitters before these become FOs.

Part One: Seamen's scarf for Christmas gift: The scarf is finished, aside from a couple of ends, but the seed stitch bottom border on the two tails is ruffly. OK, I can intuit that I need to decrease stitches from the cable count to get the very flat seed stitch to lay flat. But, um, is there a rule? Do I do a row of stockinette before the seed stitch and hide the decreases in that?

Part Two: I got an urge-to-felt yesterday, and with a couple of skeins of Paton's Classic Wool from stash and Cat Bordhi's pattern for a small tote to hold all my Denise Interchangeable parts, I got this far. It's basic two-strand
stockinette-in-the-round (knit, knit, knit) with applied? attached? I-cord for the edgings. Thanks to The Knitting Answer Book, I got the concept for the I-cord. But how to join the I-cord ends? Graft, OK, but, um, specifics please?

And here's Shadow helping with the photography.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Yarns and Swatches and Snoozing, Oh My!

Of *course* I succumbed to Elann's new offering of Baby Cashmere! But in a restrained sort of way, getting only some camel-colored tan and a gorgeous color that's sort of aqua-blue, with a hint of celadon. Yum, yum. Love the days those white boxes arrive! Sknitty is becoming a major enabler, alerting us to a 20% off sale of Fleece Artist yarns at Little Knits. I looked, but I did only 'catch and release' shopping. Oh, that Godiva, or the Sea Silk, or .... Sigh

Last week JM and I were thinking of a KAL for a lace scarf. Me being the novice, helping my newbie friend, ha ha ha. She was much taken by Knitty's Branching Out pattern. This is marked 'Tangy', which is Knitty's version of 'advanced', but the copy on the pattern says it's excellent for a first lace project. IMO it is NOT for beginners! Besides the expected K2tog and SSK, there are also K3Tog, SK2P
(sl l,k2, psso) and S2KP (sl 2,k1,psso). It would take quite a while to get the pattern semi-memorized. I swatched it in WEBS' new Valley Yarn, Longmeadow, which is 60%cotton, 40%microfiber. Nice yarn, and it seems much softer knit up than in the skein.

I thought of the Liesel scarf, which is similar but rather
simpler. I'd previously tried starting this pattern, but it fell into the UFO pile. So I frogged the old start and re-swatched. Strange, but after finishing the Kiri shawl this summer, the lace patterns seem easier to do than a year ago. More confidence, I think. This is done with Rowan's Cashsoft DK. I still think this is a bit too challenging for a first lace project. I'll have to keep thinking of ideas.

I'm getting drowsy here, with furry feline 'sleepy-bugs' being wafted my way! Midnight (by the window) and
Shadow are really soaking up the sun. Being black, they get to be 'hot cats'! BTW, Hot Cats is some of the best catnip ever! Don't be surprised if your cats rip open the package, lol! Ours will dump the trash can for the cellophane.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My Grrls

I forgot to include some pictures of my 'grrls'. I know they think of themselves as 'girls' or 'gals', and whichever it is, I love 'em all. I took a lot of pictures one day, but due to operator error, there's a lot of blurriness. It was surprising how difficult it is to get people to stay *still* long enough for the digital focus to bounce and then trigger the flash. But here are a couple of shots of the group.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fun Doing Good

Fridays are when my seniors' group, part of the national RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) program, meets at the local senior center. When all 20 or so of us show up, we have even more fun than usual, as we did today. Now, please remember that about 98% of the yarn we work with is cheap donated acrylic, like Red Heart. When we get better yarns, they go into hats or scarves for the boutique. All the nicest items are put aside for our Holiday Boutique, and if any of us want to grab the item beforehand, we actually pay for them. Our prices are ridiculously low, ranging from $5 for hats and scarves to $25 for lapghans, so it's not a problem to pay for them. Items that are more ordinary are given to the various hospitals, hospice groups and kids' charities that we support.

Of course our 'Show and Tell' is an important part of the day. V made a terrific and cheerful baby blanket from some chunky blue and yellow yarn, with a pretty ruffled edging. M had finished yet another scraps lapghan (lapghan = lap-sized afghan). She is our Queen of Scraps, and finds all sorts of ways to use leftover bits of yarn. The latest project is done with an afghan stitch and a lattice design, from all sorts of unmatched off-white yarns. JB found a new purple/hot pink/teal color combination for her terrific knitted slippers; she has a great eye for color and this double-stranded pattern comes out looking like expensive tapestry. I've bought two pairs in shades of burgundy, pinks and greens for Christmas gifts. G came in with 3 of her gorgeous pieced quilts. These are spectacular in color and in workmanship. (Why work"man"ship or crafts'man'ship? Need to fix that in our language!)

Today we received a donation of about 4 big leaf bags full of upholstery and drapery fabrics. These clearly were the samples from some upscale shop. A couple of years ago we found a nice pattern for tote bags, and M and her mother make up a lot of them from any heavier fabrics we receive, about 15in square, with sturdy straps and 2 outside pockets. With today's haul, we've got enough for tote bags for a couple of years! Last year we sold these for $8. Really.

A couple of weeks ago I brought in to the group the idea of supporting the Caps to the Capitol project, which is being organized by Save the Children, several yarn companies, and The National Needlework Association (TNNA). It has been found that many third-world babies die soon after birth from some simple reasons, including not having the warm little caps that are routinely give to newborns here. So crafters have been asked to make a small crocheted or knitted hat, to be sent to Congress in Washington, DC, as a reminder of the help to needy mothers and babies worldwide that US crafters provide. The goal is to encourage (or shame!) Congress into voting more money for world relief. Click on
the link to get more information about how you can participate.

Last week the ladies brought nearly 2 dozen caps, and I think nearly that many today. While the Caps project asks for one cap only, with an optional tag showing the maker's name and location, our plan is to send a LOT of caps and a cover letter signed by all of our members. The ladies said they were glad to use up some of the baby yarn we have in smaller bits, and why stop at just one? LOL!! Gotta love every single one of 'em!! As the Taco Bell dog said, "I theek I need a beeger box!"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Family Obligations and Silver Linings

There will inevitably be lots of references to my mother in coming blog posts, so I should tell you a bit about her. Mom and I were never close; she was deeply in love with my dad, and didn't really know how to be loving to us kids. For all sorts of reasons, I left home at the beginning of my senior year in high school, when my youngest sister was still a baby and my middle sister still in grade school, and I didn't go back except for rare visits. My dad died in 1975 and Mom has always been a bit lost without him. For over 25 years, Mom and I lived quite contentedly a couple of states apart, with limited contact. My sisters and I haven't communicated in years.

I'll skip over a lot of yet another dysfunctional family history. Mom had a stroke in the last few months of 2002, but it wasn't diagnosed until New Year's Day 2003. Mostly the stroke caused a form of dementia, but it also affected her balance and made it very difficult for Mom to swallow or to speak audibly. She wouldn't agree to having home care where she was living, so I bullied her into coming to California. A couple of days after our arrival, she developed pneumonia; while she was in the hospital, the doctors decided that she absolutely had to have a feeding tube, since she couldn't eat enough to stay healthy.

I was extraordinarily lucky to find a good, small nursing home a couple of miles from my house, and Mom has been living there since 2003. In spite of the feeding tube, she has become increasingly frail, and the dementia has slowly become worse. It's not often now that she can speak loudly enough to be heard at normal sitting distance or even at 6 inches, so visits are pretty frustrating for both of us, though she's in the habit of saying very little at any time.

Mom always had very few interests, and in the last few years before her stroke, it was pretty much reduced to crocheting and listening to the radio. She was a talented crocheter through most of her life, but that was also becoming more difficult for her. After a few months visiting Mom, I took up crocheting again as an alternative to chewing my cuticles. We'd sit in the hallway and crochet together. I finished 5 full-size afghans that summer and fall.

One day that summer I got to talking crochet with another patient who was having rehab after knee surgery, and she invited me to join the seniors' charity crochet and knitting group at the local senior center. They were and still are a fun group of women, and it is an important part of each week to get together and ooh and aah over the pretty things we make out of cheap, donated acrylic. That Christmas I wanted to knit a really nice scarf for DH, and after a shaky start, I remembered what I'd learned, mostly from books, in the 70s and 80s about knitting. I found the Knitting Forum and the wealth of information they share. One of them 'introduced' me to WEBS, then I found Elann, and the rest is the history of high balances on my credit card.

Having a parent with serious illness and any form of dementia is a huge hit to your life, unless you can shove his or her care off on someone else. Having to be the only or main person responsible for your parent's care adds another layer of worry and doubts and especially guilt.
It took over a year after Mom's stroke for me to accept that I was doing as much for Mom as is possible, she is getting the best care possible in our income bracket, and that there is nothing I can do differently to make her happier. Trying to take care of her at home wouldn't give her as good care, and I'd be nuts. Mom had essentially no assets, and I was fortunate to get clued in early about the ways to deal with Medicare and Medicaid, so DH and I have had very little financial burden. That has made it possible for me to be a stay-at-home wife, and honestly I could not deal with the stresses of even an easy sort of job. That's another long story, but I had a major stress burnout about 7 years ago and had to retire early.

Having discovered the benefits of being a knitter these days, with the local and online friendships we can share via the Internet and the aids to mental health that knitting can be, is my silver lining in this situation. I never used to believe in silver linings, but I like this one.

Knitting and reading and furry-foot related topics will resume with the next post. Please do not adjust your blog reads.

Busy Day, Fun Day

Yesterday was a long, busy, fun day. I met my friend JM for lunch at my favorite little coffeehouse, and then we hit our favorite LYS, Unwind Yarn, to check out the new arrivals. Stephanie has started carrying the worsted and chunky of Nashua Creative Focus yarn and has just added the superwash; she says she's going to stock some 2 dozen of the colors! I grabbed a deepish orange and 2 shades of blue for the DGSs BL in Alaska. While I was there I got 2 skeins of the new Rowan Tapestry yarn in the Rustic colorway. It's a DK weight, made with 70% wool and 30% soy, and it is luscious in the skein!

Next it was off to the the Post Office, with 5 packages, including the oh-so-frustrating Addi Turbos that I've sold. Then I spent an hour or so with my mom at her nursing home and doing a bit of knitting on the second diagonal-knit charity scarf, in the same browns/black yarn as the 2 hats and scarf I posted about earlier. Picked up umpteen cans of cat food at Petco and then a short visit to Costco, where they didn't have half of the items on my list.

JM and I have been getting to be good friends outside of our seniors group, and she and her DH came over for dinner a week or so ago. JM has misplaced her size I crochet hook, so I made my first visit to her house to lend her one. Knitters, she is now my organization goddess! She has the most wonderful craft room, complete with cupboards, shelves, multi-drawer units and a terrific little loveseat and storage hassock. The cupboards are totally tidy with books, pattern binders and so forth; the shelves are orderly, and the multi-drawer units with yarns, beading supplies, etc. are all labeled. I wanted to just stand there and gawk. So inspiring! There's going to be more organizing in this house, let me tell you!

Little Shadow has learned that if she's on the left side of the desk, she gets more petting. But she's beginning to take over more than her share of space!

Monday, September 18, 2006


I'm a clutterer, and I'm drowning in it.

Much of the last week or two, and particularly the last day or so, have been very frustrating. I can't seem to focus on where I put things long enough to remember when I need them again, even over just a few minutes. Recently we've done a bit of 'shove it into a box and put it aside' sort of tidying for visitors, and I've been trying to sort out those boxes/baskets so that the contents can resume life in their proper spots. As you may know, this usually leads to bigger messiness than you start with, since the piles of similar items multiply and you are left with trying to figure out homes for some which were previously living in clutter.

What really got to me on Saturday was my inability to find a couple of circular knitting needles I've arranged to sell to another knitter. I *know* that, the day we agreed on the deal, I pulled those two out of the group of needles I want to sell and wrapped them into a nice little circle. But what the heck did I do with them after that? I looked everywhere on Saturday and even hauled DH into the hunt Sunday. No such luck. As it happens, I did have duplicates, so after a bunch of fumbling around and semi-stupid emails to the buyer, the needles will be on their way to their new home tomorrow.

I've felt as lacking in concentration as in the worst days of my stress overload. I'm not on drugs, well, not recreational drugs, and my overall mood has been good for months and months. That's not to say that I haven't had some down days, because I have. But the downs are pretty shallow these days. I've figured out - with good help from friends - how to set up this blog. I can type coherent sentences, I can knit cables on my gift scarf - which does require some
concentration. So what's with the constant 'where did I put that thing I just had?'

So, let's count the good, finished and/or organized bits. I've tossed a lot of clothes I haven't worn in a couple of years, a big box full. I restored order to the sheets and towels in the linen closet, including culling out 2 old sets of sheets and one truly ancient set of towels, also to be given away. Out of the umpteen
hundred bits of paper with telephone numbers and addresses that have been living on the desk and shoved into my phone book, I have re-done both my main phone book and the little one that lives in my bag. My friends and family, my repair resources and my knitting friends and LYSs, all neatly alphabetized and legible. More order. More order is good.

I still have to work my way through the remaining piles of stuff and getting them back to where they're in some order. Before the cats take up sleeping on them and turning them dark with shed hair. I have to re-think the bookshelf storage for my looseleaf binders full of patterns and collections of knitting magazines, since those have overflowed their space, too.

I can find the big stuff, like towels; it's hard for them to hide. Circular needles, well, those don't take up enough space to be seen under a magazine. Sigh.
In case you're interested, I'm de-stashing my Addi Turbo circulars, and they're for sale. I've added a link to email me, so I hope it works.

Progress on tan scarf? Some.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Rethinking Christmas Knitting

I've heard from the Alaska mom about her boys' color and item preferences. So I'm ditching any thoughts of scarves, since they apparently won't wear them. It's going to be hats and mittens, though I am not planning to knit the mittens; those will probably be courtesy of Lands' End.

OK, hats. Favorite colors: for the 2yo, anything is good; for the 6yo, blue or green, which I'd already thought about, since he's a pale blond with very pretty blue eyes. But for the 6th grader - black or orange? Oy. Black, IMO the hardest to knit with (vision difficulties), and orange, my least favorite color of all. This will be tough. On the up side, hats go fast! I'm off to browse the Lambs' Pride Superwash colors.

As for progress on seamen's scarf #1, here it is. I'm not getting a lot of knitting
done the last couple of days; too scattered, I guess. The 15in of neckline ribbing is done and the two ends are moving along. The ends need to be about 15in long each. I'm happy with the texture; this is nice now and will be still better with just a bit of blocking, enough to separate the vertical elements.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mr Joe Sangria Meets Highland Wool

Elann has some really lovely mohair-blend yarn right now, called Mr Joe Sangria. Mr Joe is apparently a smallish Italian yarn company, and there's not much info out on the Internet about it. Sangria has a rayon binder in a silvery tone, so it's not intensely fuzzy. I fell for two colors, the Mistral (shades of blue) and Cool Lagoon (same blues, plus purples) - anyone who knows me knows that I'm a sucker for blues and purples and greens! I have a lot of mohair 'curing' in the stash, but I've never been quite adventurous enough to knit any of it until now. With the lower fuzzy-factor, I thought I'd give Sangria a try. It knits very nicely, though it's a bit scratchy. I had also ordered some of Elann's Highland Wool in the Deep Blue Sea color, for a holiday gift. Deep Blue Sea and Sangria in Mistral were a perfect combo. So I knitted them together and then carried on with a few rows of the HW by itself. Very nice indeed!

I decided some time ago that my Kitty Pi (from Wendy Knits!) needed to be re-felted, to give it more body, and while I was watching it agitate, I had an urge to try felting the Mr Joe swatch. I did that one by hand, with 'agitation' provided by brisk rubbing in my hands. The Kitty Pi is still drying, being now 3in smaller in diameter, and it's much denser, which I'd
hoped for. But I really like the Mr Joe swatch. The 'agitation' fluffed up the mohair content, and reduced the scratchy factor a lot. I don't yet have a project in mind for the felted Mr Joe Sangria, and heaven knows I don't need another tote bag, which is the obvious choice for this. (DH calls me the "Imelda Marcos of tote bags", lol!) If I were to use this combination in something, I'd want to machine-felt it.

But I thought I'd share the pretty pictures. The ruler is 6in, for scale, and the second picture is the felted one. About Elann, NAYY (no affiliation, yada, yada), but I buy a LOT of yarn from them. Great prices, great quality, great service.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Neat Little Cable Needles

I'm really liking this little cable needle I picked up at Stitches West. This size, and it's just barely 3 1/2 inches long, is for size 5-8US needles. I'm ordering a larger one and a smaller one, and maybe a spare - gods forbid I leave it out and DH uses it to test something in the oven, lol!!

I finally remembered that I bought it at The Mannings, and you can buy them at the link.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Yarny Fun and Yarn Dieting

One of my Elannite friends posted the link to this great little video about the obsessiveness of knitters. Enjoy!

Speaking of yarn, WEBS is at it again. I am so tempted by their new sale on Araucania wools. "This is SoCal. I don't need wool
. " But it's a great sale! "I don't need more wool." It's fabulous yardage! "I don't NEED wool." So far, I've only done 'catch-and-release' shopping, but it's only noon. If you don't know where to find WEBS, you're better off not knowing. Trust me on this.

There's a white box from Elann on its way to my door, arriving tomorrow, full of beautiful fibers. But I still want more!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Seaman's Scarves and Wonky Patterns

I love the way seaman's scarves look. I forget just how I first saw a pattern for one, but I immediately went on a hunt for Myrna Stahman's book, Stahman's Shawls and Scarves, about them. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble show the book as unavailable. But you can get the book from Marsha White's Needle Arts Book Shop, which has terrific customer service. There are a couple of free patterns Myrna's made available online, and this is a good link for them. Look for Myrna's name or seaman's scarves. In case you aren't familiar with seaman's scarves, they have a central ribbing section to make the scarf sit closely around the neck, and the two ends are worked from the middle, so that the design matches on each side as the scarf lies against the wearer's chest. Myrna called this one Columbine III; yes, for Columbine HS.

I've made a couple of these scarves, and I want to make them for three of the guys in our family by love (family BL) for this Christmas. When I was at Stitches West in February, I came across some gorgeous patterns designed by a small alpaca company in the Seattle-Vancouver area. They seemed especially appropriate since they are named for the smaller islands in the area, and all of these guys live in Washington State. I just pulled them out Monday night.
I showed the patterns to DH, since he's lifelong friends with the guys, and he approved them as being manly enough, lol!

I have some lovely, well-cured stash yarn for these, Grignasco Nature (50%alpaca/50% wool) in camel and charcoal I got from Smileys' a couple of years ago, and some Indecita 100% alpaca in navy I got at WEBS. I'd call the yarn light worsted at most, so I set down to swatch with my favorite size 7s. The pattern calls for 71 stitches, size 9 needles, and says it will be 11in wide. Huh? Simple math says that's 25-26 stitches to the inch, which I'd call sport weight, worked on size 4-5. Not my yarn, not their needle size. Plus IMO (DH disagrees) 11 inches wide is too much. Emailed the company, called (answering machine), still no answer as of today.

We'll skip a lot of muttering and frogging and new starts the last 2 evenings. I am not in a mood to commit to re-designing someone else's pattern, not if I'm going to make 3 scarves before Christmas, along with the other knitterly gifts that pop into my head. Finally I pulled out Barbara Walker #1 and #2, marked a lot of cables and vertical designs, and put together a really simple pattern, with even the same 4-row repeat. There was some tweaking and so on, but I'm pretty happy with what I've got so far. There are plenty of other combinations for the other 2 scarves.

I haven't done cables since Alice Trueman's class last summer, and before that it was a couple of decades. So I'm starting simple. The central cable is Wheat-Ear
and the side ones are just 4-st cables, one twisted left, one right, echoing the twist of the Wheat-Ear. This is 43 stitches on size 6 needles. This just-started piece shows the really neat technique that Myrna Stahman suggests to avoid 'second-sock syndrome'. You start with a provisional cast-on (the crocheted one is my favorite), work a couple of inches of the pattern, and then pick up from the provisional cast-on and begin working the ribbing section in the other direction. You can do both ends on one circular needle. Myrna suggests that 4x4 ribbing is the snuggliest, so I'm going to use that. After finishing the ribbing section, you start the pattern rows. Then you can shift back and forth between the two ends as you choose. With this pattern being only a 4-row repeat, I'll probably work a couple of inches and then switch.

I'm telling myself that these scarves won't be as intricate or lovely as the patterns I bought, but they're much more likely to be under the giftees' trees come December 24! As DH pointed out, the guys wouldn't really be too impressed with the fact that the pattern is named for an island in their area. He has a point. And yeah, I tell him so. I'm keeping him.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Lots of sorrow, lots of vivid memories today. Jean's post is very moving, and I will treasure this comment:
For a moment in time it didn't matter what sex you were, what color you were, what your political standing was, what your religion was.... for one perfect moment in time we were all just Americans who cared about each other and our Nation.

I came late to the knowledge of that day. I was in a very bad period of my life, nearly non-functional, and I never listened to the news. I spoke to no one and had no idea what had happened, until DH came home for dinner and told me. He knew that I wouldn't know about it, and that I wouldn't have been able to deal with it alone. Like millions of others, I wept, and obsessively followed the news through the evening and into the oh-dark-hundred hours. I found myself turning to the Bible, something I hadn't done for years. Eccelesiates : "To everything there is a season". Psalm 21: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of death". On and on, searching for some comfort, more than DH could give me, though he tried. Of course the TV was on during all my waking hours for days.

I heard about the national day of prayer. We live one long block from a lovely Catholic church. I called to be sure it was OK for a non-Catholic to attend. I dusted off and put one one of my long-neglected black business suits and walked to the service. So many came there were standees. It was lovely and incredibly comforting.

DH and I had planned for months to take a vacation, something we hadn't done in several years, a tour of New Mexico. I'd been looking forward to it, involved - for a change - in the planning. Santa Fe, the pueblos, Taos, plus a road trip circling up to Mesa Verde in SW Colorado then back through the reservations. Our flight was booked for September 15. We debated for hours, to go or not to go. Was it safe? Would anyone bomb flights to Albuquerque? Friends urged us to stay, part of the fear everyone had of new tragedies. We decided to go, even if we had to drive, and checked and double-checked at the airline's website. At midnight on the 14th it was confirmed that the first flights would be going. The trip tooks hours and hours, waiting at LAX, waiting at Phoenix's airport, since planes were being double-and triple-inspected and replacement planes were not in their usual spots. In New Mexico, people were trying to be normal; visitors are a huge part of the economy, and everyone was kind and especially friendly. The trip was a success in spite of the fear. So we have some positive memories of that time when the nation was pulling together, re-establishing what their post-tragedy lives would become.

Later I learned that my best-loved cousin and his wife were stranded in Florida, having visited his father. Their return to Illinois took 36 hours, on busses and rented cars, in fear, sometimes due to strangers run slightly amok with anger.

I mourn for all those who were lost, for the terrible memories the survivors have, for the permanent changes that still affect New Yorkers and the Pentagon and that field in Pennsylvania, for the sorrow of bereft families. Along with so many others I will be forever grateful to the Canadians, especially those in Newfoundland, who sheltered Americans and others who were stranded in their country for so many days. And I am sad that the concern and esteem that the rest of the world had for us in those awful days has been squandered by subsequent actions and events.

When my mother had a stroke in 2003, I happened upon a booklet that gave me comfort for my worries about my mother, as well as for the sadness of my memories of September 11th. The free booklet is available here.

Along with so many others today, my heart literally hurts and the tears keep welling up. May we all be blessed that nothing so awful happens again.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Knitting Content

I've changed the profile picture, having finally found one that actually includes knitting! This was when some of our 'family-by-love' (family BL) were visiting this summer. That's our DGD-BL next to me, reading 'The Aristocats' while I was zooming along on my first lace shawl, a Kiri.

The CBM Private Library

You've met the cats, so I thought I'd tell you a bit about my books. I still have books from kindergarten, though only one or two survived my sister, and many of my oldest favorites are slightly decrepit paperbacks from my high school and college years, some held together with a rubber band. Mostly I read sci fi, mysteries, historical fiction (not bodice-rippers!), and biography. Some of my favorite authors are listed in my profile. I collect and skim reference books and a diverse range of nonfiction. Perhaps oddly, I seldom buy the 'Book of the Moment' books and I rarely like them, and I don't belong to any reading groups. Once DH and I went through a Louis L'Amour phase, and we have all 80+ of his novels in faux leatherette; finding all of those was fun, most of them in used bookstores here and on our travels.

When we remodeled our house it involved ripping off the back of the house. So most of the library went into one of those 'U Pack It, We Store It' containers for a year or two. We were slow remodelers, mostly because we did a lot of the interior finish work. When the remodel was done, DH gave me a huge gift: he designed and built floor-to-ceiling bookcases at the dining-nook end of our kitchen. As you can see, they are pretty much full, but I love just looking at all that wonderful pile of reading material, past, present and future. The stacks have kept growing. We have 2 or 3 bookshelves in every room in the house except the bathrooms and our little office, which is taken up with desk, PC, printers and so forth. Yeah. That many books. Many more and I'll start having to stack them in the remaining corners.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Mmmm, Oops?!

I seem to have done the 'yes' and 'no' choices wrong, so comments - if any! - didn't post. Sorry about that. Since there's now one comment, maybe I fixed it.

Thanks to those of you who have commented elsewhere, and to you who have offered advice and instructions. You know who you are!

Meet the Black Sisters

There's still a lot I have to get set up, including finding more information about tweaking Blogger. Besides the "for Dummies" and "Idiot's Guide" series of books, there's another I found at Amazon that is specifically about Blogger, by Elizabeth Castro. This woman seems to be quite an expert on HTML, so I'm going to order it. OK, OK, a lot of it will be over my head, but still...

But I thought I'd introduce the purr-dominate members of our family, the Black Sisters, Midnight and Shadow. They will be 15 in October, and while they have one or two of the ailments of such senior cats, they're doing well. Clearly they're finding beds and desks and such to have suddenly gotten taller, but they manage. Middy is the larger, at about 12lb; Shadow is petite at 7lb. The picture of Midnight shows her usual elegant 'paws-itude'; she does that even when sleeping on her side. That location, next to the computer and the window overlooking our wisteria-covered arbor, is quietly fought over as a preferred napping place. Shadow's photo shows her all-white whiskers, and she's aware that her image is on a lot of T-shirts and feline-themed items. It was difficult to get a good shot of her, since my approach with the camera made her
start grooming her fur to get ready for her closeup.

Pictures of DH will follow one of these days, as soon as I make the last little change to his Rockport Vest so that he can model it.

Scarfing Along

My RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program ) charity knitting group makes hats, scarves, slippers, laprobes, etc. for local nursing homes and a hospice group, among others. We use donated acrylic yarn; today we got some with a Montgomery Ward label. That's HOW old??? We have a holiday boutique in November to raise money for support of local causes that can't use our knitted, crocheted or quilted items. Plus one of the groups we support has a holiday party for their kids, who are in the foster care system, and they want 80, yeah, EIGHTY, scarves by mid-November. Last year they didn't ask until October, and my group all had aching fingers.

Anyway, I've been trying to complete my mental quota of scarves and hats so I can clear the way for my planned Christmas gift knitting. The last couple of weeks have been productive, and I'm showing off my latest - and nearly the last - FOs. I've sworn off using basic Red Heart acrylic, since I've come to hate to work with it. So I'm finding slightly better acrylics and having fun making the most of the colors even in simple designs.

The V-shaped design is Angular Angus, a free pattern from Silke Hupka , who designed the charming Edgar scarf in the Fall 2005 Knitty. The yarn is TLC Essentials acrylic. The 'tiger' striped scarf and hats are made with a new-to-me and rather nice Bernat acrylic called Camouflage, in the Outback colorway. The jewel-toned scarf is Paton's Rumor yarn, worked with a strand of plain black. The photo doesn't do it justice: the colors are vivid and opalescent. My friend J said she thinks it looks as if it is beaded. ;-)

The scarf in blues and tans is my first project using Paton's new SWS yarn (one skein), which is 70% wool, 30% soy. It knits rather nicely, though frogging means dealing with a few snarls of fibers stuck together. I tried a horizontal design first, but that left inch-wide stripes that didn't show a nice color change.

Sorry for the boring line-up of photos; I haven't gotten the knack yet, and accidentally backspaced a couple into oblivion. Grr. I think I saw a link to a utility program that will help, but that was in the middle of the umpteen help screens I've used so far.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Oy, I've Committed Blog!

I blame it on Cute Overload. They have a link to a new blog program called Vox, and without pre-processing the idea through my brain, I found myself signing up and designing and so forth. But after the 3rd or 4th snag (the worst being that it insisted on publishing my full name and my birthday), I managed a rational moment and decided this new blogging program was just a bit too close to beta tests to work for me.

So here I am at Blogger. One of the best features will be the ability to publish my pictures. And I'm thinking that I may spend less time compulsively posting on knitting forums, just to keep in touch with my online friends. (Somewhere in the background of this is the fact that about 8 of my friends have set up their own blogs in the last couple of weeks. Attack of the "Me, too!" syndrome, common to knitters.)

I'm probably foolish to think I'll cut down on my computer time, freeing up more hours to knit. Midnight and Shadow, our elderly cats, would certainly like me to spend more time petting them and providing treats, plus of course more frequent meals and kitty box cleaning. DH is just shaking his head in disbelief.