Sunday, October 29, 2006

Boutique Time

Please - this is not to be confused with the change to Standard Time for the umpty-leven clocks we all have, especially those pesky VCRs/DVDs. In our house, the worst is the cable box, which is not under our control and which takes a week or two to get the message. Why do we still have a cable box? Well, it gives us remote control of my 20-year-old TV, which is not cable-ready and lives in the bedroom where it is only on while I'm folding and putting away laundry.

No, once again my seniors' group is ready for our annual Holiday Boutique. We sell hats, scarves, slippers, lapghans (lap-sized afghans) and baby items at rock-bottom prices, with the proceeds going to local charities that don't have need for our handworked items themselves.

Most of the items are knitted or crocheted, though one mother-daughter team makes the most beautiful pieced small quilts. A couple of years ago I got a pieced tote bag as a Christmas gift and our Seamstresses Extraordinaire M and her mother, also M, have adapted the pattern to make our own totes. Last year we raised $1100US! One of the local churches has a top-notch boutique and we joined the group of vendors a couple of years ago, since the boutique at the seniors' center died from lack of interest. I don't know how many items we have, but it fills the back of a minivan. I think we had over 50 lapghans last year, though I'm pretty sure we didn't sell all of them.

A week or two ago I bought a quilted afghan as a potential gift, though I changed my mind, and it will sell in the boutique. And I've bought a couple of others the last two years. So, just to let you see the craftswomanship, here are some pictures of a couple of our items.The Southwest motif afghan came about through pure happenstance. Someone brought in a lot of fabric with pre-printed motifs, including the SW figures, and then another donation had fabrics that coordinated perfectly. Last year, two different donations had fabric with the same Sesame Street characters, in two different motif sizes. Our newest DGS-BL got that as a gift! There are advantages to being part of the set-up crew, lol!!

This browns and blues and corals quilt (a couple of years old and well-covered in cat hair from our girls) is more typical of the color sense that M and her mother have, and the beautiful piecework they produce from odds and ends, matching up coordinating pieces, creating motifs and choosing backing fabrics. These quilts are not really lap-sized, since that's my DH holding them up at arms-length. And pricing? The quilts will go for $20-25 US.

I nearly forgot to mention the fun we had over on the Elann Chat Center last night. Several of the knitters had major events to celebrate - a new house, a finally-finished kitchen renovation, a 37th wedding anniversary. So one of the knitters had the idea to have a virtual party. Invitations went out, hors d'oeuvres recipes were readied, and we all showed up at the same time; of course, with our group spread from coast to coast of North America, it was late evening in Georgia and the east coast of Canada while being early cocktail hour here in Pacific Time.

We exchanged recipes, discussed our favorite party attire and consumables, explored the new kitchen from a virtual angle, chatted about knitting, and so on. Any hangovers this morning were purely imaginary, and my own Midnight, who insisted on joining the party, failed to trigger any allergies, since her cat dander was not an issue.

Fun! I think we should do it again, and I send big "Kudos!" to blogless B, who hatched the idea.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ahem. Blushing Here

Much to my surprise, I've had a couple of requests for the written pattern for my little dark grey cabled scarf. So I wrote it up today. If you would be interested in a copy, though it's not yet been test-knitted, email me through the link below and I'll send you the Word document.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Knitting into the Frog Pond

I hate when this happens. Tuesday night, as I was measuring the progress on the dark grey cabled scarf and divvying up the last skein so the two tails would be the same length, I found a nasty error about 4 inches after the start of one tail. Grrr. It was too obvious to ignore. More Grrr. Frog, frog, frog. I finished the other tail, reduced the stitch count to keep the bottom seed stitch border from flaring, and bound off. Last night I finished reknitting the other tail. I may have mentioned I only had 4 balls of the yarn? I finished with less than 3 meters left. I am REALLY pleased with how this turned out.

After the frogging incident Tuesday night, I decided I had to finish putting my travel knitting back into order. I keep my current knitting projects in bags, recycled Elann plastic bags for the really small projects, zipper bags for larger ones, and the largest ones each in its own tote bag. The smaller projects live inside their own bags in other totes. DH calls me the "Imelda Marcos of Tote Bags" !

During the Phoenix trip, I knitted about 2 feet of the WEBS Falling Leaves scarf from their Stockbridge yarn (scroll down the website page to see the pattern). It's an easy, easy pattern, with 4 pattern rows and the 4 return rows all purled. Guess what? I found an error
about 4 inches from the start; a leaf that I left out a row on. Not totally obvious, but.... I'm trying to rationalize leaving it as is. But it, too, will probably wind up in the frog pond. Still more Grrrrrrr. No further progress on that yet, but here's a picture of the about-to-be frogged item.

Since the camera batteries are now recharged, I can show off my goodies from The Fiber Factory in Mesa, AZ.
Crystal Palace bamboo circulars, a couple of luscious Susanne's rosewood circs, and 9 skeins of yarny goodness. This is 10 ply (worsted) Merino et Soie from New Zealand's Naturally company. 70% merino and 30% silk, and - ta da! - machine washable. You don't see the name on the labels; the one annoying thing about the LYS is that they have big price labels and they seem to put them right over the name of the yarn. I had in mind to use this to make a shawl-sized version of the Falling Leaves scarf. Or not; there are lots of patterns to choose from, lol! This is 900yds, which is just enough for Wool Peddler's, too. In case anyone is interested, these pictures are taken on the little cast-aluminum table we have on our back patio; here it's sitting in the shade of the lime tree.

Just to finish off, here's a picture of DH and me with Auntie and Uncle, kindly snapped by the server in Auntie's dining room. I hope I look as good as Auntie when I'm 80-mumble.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tagged for Four

OK, here we go:

Four jobs I've had
Dishwasher in my parents' restaurant
Maid in a motel (very educational for a 16-year-old)
Assistant to the West District Clerk, National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (junior secretary)
LYS clerk (lasted only 7 days)

Four movies I can watch over and over

The Deep

Four places I have lived
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Denver, Colorado

Four TV shows I love to watch
Rosemary & Thyme (BBC mystery)
Digging for the Truth (History Channel)
Any of the CSI and Law & Order shows
Stargate SG-1

Four places I have been on vacation
Ixtapa/ Zihuatenejo, Mexico
Jackson Hole, Wyoming (February)
Mesa Verde, Colorado
Various lavender farms in Sequim, Washington
Kauai, Hawaii

Four of my favorite foods
Tuna salad sandwiches
Old-fashioned cooked oatmeal with raisins
The chicken dijon pasta at a local restaurant, Sisley's
My DH's mother's recipe for whole-cranberry sweet bread

Four websites I visit daily
Cute Overload
Yarn Harlot
The Moggyblog

Four places I'd rather be right now
With my DH at Desert Sands Resort in Phoenix
Visiting with my cousins M & S
Salt Spring Island/Vancouver, BC, or anywhere else, visiting with one of my knitting friends
Any botanical garden

Sunday, October 22, 2006

To-ing and Fro-ing to Phoenix

DH has a business meeting in Phoenix this week, and my aunt lives in Mesa, so I flew over with him on Saturday and came back last night. Our beloved elderly kittens, Midnight and Shadow, have to have medications daily, and it's a hassle (and $$$) to get a meds-competent cat-sitter. Hence the quick trip for me. BTW, this is a photo-free post, since in spite of charging the camera batteries before we left, it died after 3 pix. Grr.

One of the Elannites tipped me to a good LYS in Mesa, so after checking in with the hotel and my aunt to arrange dinner plans, we scooted to downtown Mesa and The Fiber Factory. Wow! This is a big shop, with at least half of the space filled with looms and cones and cones and cones of weaving yarns. There's a decent selection of spinning fibers and spindles, too. And of course there is yarn!! Seems like the wall of yarn is half a block long. I just petted my way from laceweight to worsted and heavier.
Lots of Dale yarns, which no one here carries in a wide variety. I was really tempted by some hand-dyed laceweight from a small Mesa-area company at a great price, particularly because of the gorgeous sample scarf. But apparently I was 2 days late, with one customer having bought out all but one skein! So I did buy that one, for a gift. Among the worsted yarns was a really nice wool/silk blend from New Zealand, and I just had to try it, since one of the shop staff recommended it so highly. This is a gorgeous deep purple, with a subtle halo that almost looks like a 'frosting'. The staff all were very helpful and friendly.

They have a great selection of needles, so good I went "Squeeee!" They had quite a few of Susanne's rosewood circs, and a lot of Crystal Palace's bamboos. My local sources of CP are all 'former' local sources, so I spent a lot of time choosing sizes of those two brands that I wanted.

DH was incredibly patient while I spent over an hour in the LYS. He was able to check out the interesting shops in the area and just enjoy the lovely afternoon. BTW, if anyone wants some more of the great SW Trading Beyond Bold yarn, they have a good selection in their markdown bins, and they are long-distance shopping friendly.

Then we were off to pick up my aunt and uncle for dinner. Note to others: seniors seem to eat dinner VERY early! Like 5:30. And they don't go out to dinner enough; they're short on recommendations. Having failed to make a reservation, dinner at Black Angus, a treat for them, didn't happen. A 45-minute wait for dinner, which was surprising at that early a time, is far too long for Uncle. So we defaulted to Coco's, which is rather prosaic, but with lots of options.

Yesterday we joined them for lunch in the Private Dining Room of their assisted-living complex. It is beautifully decorated, as is the whole building, and we had a really tasty lunch, served by a very helpful and charming staffer. We brought a gift, a crocheted afghan I made a while back from Caron's Simply Soft in a deep country blue, and it was a big hit, so much that Auntie had to take it right over to the main dining room to show it off to her best buds. That's a major compliment, especially since Auntie is an accomplished crocheter herself! We were able to spend some time back in their mini-apartment just visiting, and that was of course the best part. Uncle hadn't met my DH, so they had a great time getting to know one another.

Just a bit of explanation here. My aunt is my mother's next-older sister, and she was widowed some years ago. She met my 'new' uncle around that time, and they decided to get married about 4 years ago. Uncle is, literally, a retired "rocket scientist", having worked in the high-level project management area, and is a warm and fascinating man. When I first met him, at their wedding, I asked him if he'd worked at JPL (the Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena), and he replied, "No. I didn't work there; they worked for me." Heady stuff!! He's had quite a spell of medical problems since the wedding, but is now better able to get around, and DH and I are both looking forward to more visits with him.

DH's business meeting is at the extremely upscale and drop-dead gorgeous Marriott Desert Sands Resort on the north side of Phoenix. Seeing the huge, beautiful room he has made me envious and reluctant to leave for home - well, for about 5 minutes. The kitties needed me. I dropped him off and headed clear across Phoenix to the airport and home.

Traveling alone gives you an opportunity for some amazing people-watching, even more so than when you have companions. Airports seem to have a high population of serious fashion victims, like the young woman in what seemed to be a black ballet leotard and calf-length tights, with a small black and white striped tablecloth wrapped around her waist. Or the umpteen women who sacrifice foot comfort by wearing fashionable 3-inch heels instead of something more sensible for all the walking and standing. And what do you do when you're seated on the crowded rental car shuttle, with a very large gent hanging from the overhead bar with his um, zipper about a foot from your nose? I couldn't quite decide where to look, lol!!

As a side note, the Phoenix airport does a good job of moving and managing people, and the separate rental-car terminal is itself pretty awesome. All - yes, all! - the rental car agencies are housed in one gi-normous 3-story facility about 10 minutes from the airport itself. And the highway signage is very good, for those who, like me, are a bit directionally challenged.

Midnight and Shadow are beginning to forgive me for being a day late with their usual moist-food dinners and breakfasts, not to mention leaving their kitty boxes unattended for longer than they prefer. Home is good!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hurray for Coincidences!!

I am a HAPPY knitter!!!

You may remember that I've had to put my Highland Triangle Shawl on hold, due to problems with the second lace pattern. That's been in the UFO pile for a week now, with my fingers just itching to keep knitting on that project. Last night I got to a point that I needed to try the length of my Plait Cables scarf on DH, but he'd gone to bed. So, there I was, surrounded by yarn but what to knit??

Last summer I decided to make a gift scarf for a nurse at Mom's nursing home, and hadn't yet found a pattern for it. I recently bought some patterns from a
knitter I met via the Knitting Forum; her blog is BaxterKnits. I decided that her Easy Lace Scarf, shown in a coral yarn in the link, would be a good pattern for this gift, using some of Elann's Highland Silk yarn. So I cast on and knitted away till I started falling asleep.

Yesterday I was looking at the scarf and decided it was a bit too wide and the yarn was a bit too heavy for the recipient of this project; a change to a lighter-weight yarn is needed. But then the proverbial 'Light Bulb' went on: the pattern in Cindy's scarf and the Highland Triangle Shawl are exactly the same pattern! Cindy says this is just a variation of the timeless Razor Shell stitch pattern.
The small difference is that the scarf pattern is knitted over stockinette, and the shawl is done as garter stitch.

In stockinette, and in a smooth yarn, it was really easy to see how the yarnovers and decreases are supposed to line up. In the Highland chunky yarn and a bit hidden by garter stitch, I couldn't figure out why my pattern wasn't coming out the way the chart read. This is a close-up scan of the scarf, pre-blocking of course, done in Elann's Baby Cashmere in Tapestry Blue.

In other ways, yesterday was a really good day, too. I got the new KnitPicks catalog, and have so far resisted ordering anything, but there are a couple of new free patterns I want to download, including a really nice pocket shawl. Y'all may wonder why I'm suddenly thinking of and doing warmer shawls. Well, just now it is 69F in the house and 77F outdoors. DH and I sleep with the bedroom windows open as much of the year as possible, with the furnace off overnight. So from now until April or so, it will be chilly in the
mornings, perfect for a shawl. As you can see, Midnight has noticed the chill, and has moved closer to her 'sun'!

The best part of yesterday was a letter from KJ in Vancouver. We met online through the Knitting Forum, and last year when I went to a knitting retreat in Salt Spring Island, just off Vancouver Island, I stayed a couple of days with her. Then we roomed together at Stitches West this February, and had massive amounts of fun! She sent some photos she'd found from my trip last summer, including from the pub where I was introduced to Growers' Hard Cider, one of the many good reasons to go back to BC. Growers' isn't distributed in the US, and is very different (and better, IMO) from most of the overly-sweet 'hard' ciders available here.

So, all sorts of goodness and happy-making things yesterday. Saturday DH and I are off to Arizona. He has a business seminar next week in Phoenix, and I'm going over for the weekend to visit my aunt (Mom's sister) in Mesa. Auntie is 82 and keeping on keeping on, in spite of a number of ailments, though she and her DH have moved to an assisted-living situation. I would stay longer, but Midnight and Shadow are on daily meds, and it's a hassle and pricey to get a meds-capable petsitter. Anyone know of LYSs I should visit?? LOL!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New Arrivals

I've been obsessing about the beautiful heathered colors of Elann's Sierra Aran yarn (80% wool/20% alpaca). They are so evocative of the beautiful colors of fall, of things of the earth and the ocean and the forest. In a quite unusual fashion for me, the colors to which I've been most drawn are the browns and rusts. After a couple of weeks and a lot of 'catch and release' shopping, I finally caved, in a small way. These beauties arrived yesterday. I had grandiose plans for these colors, a 14-skein project. Grudgingly admitting that a project of that scope may never get finished, I settled for a plan for a smallish stole, using only these 5 skeins. Across the bottom, from the left, are Oak, Cinnamon and Walnut, with Chestnut and Russet on top. Click on the pictures for close-ups.

I also tossed in a bit more of Elann's Highland Wool, in Deep Blue Sea; this may become another gift scarf, or it may work with Mr Joe Sangria as a shawl. I liked the combination earlier, whether just knitted together or felted. SooZ has made a terrific felted bag using these yarns and these colors, and she's posted it on her blog, Knit n Listen. The picture just doesn't quite do justice to the rich deep blue color, in spite of tweaking it.

The dark grey scarf is moving right along. I've nearly
finished the 3rd skein, and I only have 1 more skein of the grey. Right now there's about a foot of one front, all of the ribbed neck, and 8in or so of the other front. The giftee is a big guy, but under 6ft, so if I can get the two fronts to at least 16in or so, it will be fine. It will grow a bit in the blocking. I forgot that I misidentified the yarn in my earlier post. This - and the camel tan of the earlier scarf - are Grignasco Nature, that I got from Smiley's Yarns a couple of years ago. It is 50% alpaca/50% merino, and it is a loosely stranded 3-ply yarn; there's a good picture of the yarn at the bottom of the sale page. There's no splitting, though, and this knits really beautifully on a US 6. I'm hoping to finish or nearly finish the scarf today. I have a couple of UFOs I want to finish up.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Not Much Knitting Happening

I've spent most of the day clearing out old paperwork and finishing our tax returns and my mom's. Go ahead, laugh! Like the shoemaker's children with no shoes, we two tax accountants don't get our personal tax returns done until the last minute. This is an annual occurrence that baffles both of us. Sigh.

So there's not much knitterly news. As I've mentioned, the second part of Cheryl Oberle's Highland Triangle Shawl is not going smoothly. I started a swatch on smooth yarn, rather than trying to find out the problem with 225 stitches per row. I put it aside Thursday in a fit of pique, and picked up the gent's scarf that
is second on my 'To Be Done for Christmas' list. This is another seamen's scarf, this one in charcoal grey, some more of the now-discontinued Cascade Luna d'Oro wool/alpaca yarn. My first plan for the design didn't look as rich as I had hoped; not enough definition in the combination of cables. So I went back to Barbara Walker, and almost immediately found a Great Idea: Plaited Cables. I'm doing 2 columns of large cables, twisted every 4th row, and divided by a small cable, which is twisted every other row. The 'plaited' effect comes from moving the cable twist by 2 stitches every other time. I really like the effect. And it is so very easy; the entire WS row is just knitting as the stitches present themselves. The yarn is a bit darker than the photo; I lightened it to better show the cabling. {EDIT: the two cables don't match in the picture. This is due to one being more squashed than the other by my scanner. Honest!}

Side note: Is it just me or are cable needles inhabited by mischievous imps? It seems that my little wooden cable needle, about which I wrote last month - which works really well! - has jumped off my lap, my chair-side table, the knitting, etc., in any and all directions possible. This one is straight and not much longer than a toothpick, so there's no hook with which to dangle it from the knitting. Oh, well.

That's today's story, and I'm stopping with it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Saying Goodbye

Last Friday one of the ladies in my seniors' group died. I didn't know Edna very well, and I have always regretted that. When I first joined the group 3 years ago, I was the only one under 65, and I felt a bit timid about joining a group who all seemed to have been together a long time. Edna didn't sit near me, so it wasn't as easy to get into conversation with her as with the ladies on either side of me. (Each of us has 'her' seat, and these only change as members leave the group; we make room for new members as they come). Plus Edna was much more of a seamstress than a knitter or crocheter, and I haven't sewed in 30 years. But she was always pleasant to me, and had a great, quirky smile. She made beautiful pieced quilts, all of which went to help keep an invalid warm.

Edna was diagnosed with lung cancer early in 2004, and had lots of complications. Her chemo treatments had to stop whenever they interfered with her diabetes, so that took a long time. Of course she wasn't able to come to our group very often, but when she did she was always so spunky and only regretted that she didn't have the strength to do all that she wanted to be doing. I was a member of the Crochet Guild then, and I received Crochet! Magazine as a part of the membership. One issue had a pattern for crocheted Wiggies, a chemo hat crocheted with Lion Brand Fun Fur. I made one for Edna and took it to her home. She was so pleased with it I was a bit embarrassed, since it seemed like such a small thing. She put it on right then, and called her husband to come look. She wore it the next time she made it to group, and told everyone about it. I blushed a lot. Edna came less and less frequently as her struggle with the cancer went on, and she nearly always wore the Wiggie. When she finally had to use a wheelchair, her daughter would bring her every now and then. Edna still smiled and cracked a few jokes, and everyone was glad to see her.

Last Friday her daughter called to tell me that Edna was gone. She said Edna had specifically asked that I get a personal message. I couldn't help but tear up, such a lot of return for my silly little Wiggie. Her husband and her daughter were with her when she went, finally at peace and without pain.

Today was the service to honor and celebrate Edna's life. Only four of us from the group were able to attend, because of health or transportation problems. Her pastor spoke for a bit, reminding us of the portions of the Bible which speak about moving on to another life, about only being asleep for a while. And then Edna's five grandchildren spoke, each of them remembering the great fun they had with their Grammie, taking trips to Laughlin (a family-oriented casino town!) and playing endless games of cards, all sorts of them, with her. Sleepovers, cinnamon toast, love, encouragement: the ordinary and the best parts of their memories of Edna.

If, when I die, I am remembered with even a fraction of that fondness and love, I will die a wealthy woman. I wish I had known Edna better. She was 76.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Must-Have Knitting Magazine

The November issue of Simply Knitting, a UK magazine, just landed in my mailbox and I am so excited about it! The cover pattern, a tie-front cardi in a lovely lacy zigzag pattern is zooming to the top of my To Be Knitted Now! list. The model is done in Rowan's Kid Classic, but it should look just as great in any DK yarn. There's an adorable hooded baby jacket, with 'bear ears'; it's a perfectly "Awwww!" sort of pattern. And they have included another of Alan Dart's adorable knitted critters, this hedgehog in bathrobe and slippers, complete with hot water bottle! This is not the same hedgehog as in the Fiber Trends pattern.

I first heard about Simply Knitting last year, when one of my Canadian knitter friends posted about this incredibly cute Christmas gnomes pattern in the magazine. I don't know where you can find the gnomes pattern now, but you can write to the magazine about it; the email is ( They are quite prompt with replies.

This magazine is targeted toward newish knitters, and there are extensive how-to sections in each issue, including
instructions for basic knitting skills. Any particular technique that is different from simple knitting is explained in the directions for the pattern which calls for it - adding a zipper, picking up stitches, putting a picot edge on a sock, and so forth. There are some sort-of-trendy patterns for young women, but some more-classic patterns and a kids' or babies' pattern are usually included.

I've been able to find the magazine regularly at Borders bookstores. The link in the first paragraph will take you to a site through which you can subscribe. The US single-copy price is $8.99; I subscribed, and I think the US cost for 13 issues was $123. Every issue has some sort of useful freebie attached: a small tote bag, a matching zippered notions bag, a set of size 17 Clover knitting needles, a tape measure, etc., all good quality items. The November issue has a calendar, with 12 knitting patterns, of course!

BTW, NAYY. (By The Way, No Affiliation Yada Yada) That is, this is an unpaid knitting annoucement from a happy consumer. LOL!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Knitting Here, Yarn There

Today I stopped by Unwind, my favorite LYS, to pick up the Fiber Trends Felted Clog pattern. JM and I have a plan to use some of my large stock of White Buffalo yarn to make clogs; I got the giant 'pucks' for $2 each last fall, and this yarn is perfect for felting. The staff were in the midst of unpacking a big shipment of GGH yarn, plus some other goodies. The main temptation was the dozen or so boxes of GGH Soft Kid sitting on the big table, all different colors. I fingered and I petted, but I passed. Whenever big shipments come in, it's always OK to do some digging into the new goodies, and I found Misti Alpaca's Baby Suri Silk. Oh, my, is this yummy! 80% baby suri alpaca and 20% silk. Some of the deepish red followed me home, plus the newest issue of Rebecca. There are a couple of patterns I liked, but mostly I wanted some of the stitch patterns, especially some of the cable designs. It seems like I'm newly interested in cables, though I don't think there are a lot of cabled sweaters in my future. Scarves, though, those will happen.

I've been working away on my Highland Triangle Shawl. I stopped at 4 repeats of the main stitch pattern, since unblocked it already reached 25 inches top to tip. The large border lace pattern seems to be another 8 inches or so, and I don't want this shawl to drag on the ground!!
I may need to leave off a repeat of the border pattern, too, just to get this downsized for me. The pattern needs to be blocked only a little, just to open up the yarnovers, since this is a relatively dense pattern. Last night I did the maths to adjust for fewer stitches, picked up along the two sides, and got as far as the set-up row for the border lace. And yes, there was fudging involved to get the calculated stitch count and the "right" stitch count as knitted to agree. What's an extra K2tog or so when you can 'lose it' in a border of yarnovers? LOL!! I'm into the 5th skein and there's about 225 stitches on the needles. The more I work with this Highland Wool Chunky from Elann, the more I like it. The closeup photo is quite close to the 'real' color, and the lavender and mauve and blue-gray shades are so soft and subtle, all melding into one heathery color.

JM has knitted her first item with a lot of yarnovers, a simple pattern, but in need of real blocking, not just steaming. It's a good thing she's tall, because the scarf came out over 8ft long! She didn't have anything that long to block the scarf on,
so we had a blocking party yesterday. I loaned her my 2ft x 2ft foam blocks; she had a padded board from her sewing things to take care of the last foot. This will be a lovely little touch of one of Cherry Tree Hill's beautiful colorways, doubled and tied loosely. We're planning a two-woman lace KAL, as soon as we decide on a pattern. She's feeling the same bit of lace-phobia that I had until I finished Kiri this summer. It's amazing how much confidence successfully knitting one lace shawl can give a knitter.

Midnight and Shadow have some favorite snoozing spots, besides the computer desk. Middy loves lying under the table lamp in the living room, on another kitty pad. And Shadow spent the morning in the Kitty Pi (Wendy's pattern), soaking up sunshine. It's difficult to see which end is which with black cats all curled up, but that's Middy's tail on the right.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Lovely Garden Weekend

This has been a really nice weekend. We had breakfast/brunch in the back garden patio both mornings, cool enough to want the sun on our backs, looking out at the plantings, and listening to the fountain. We lost a lot of plants this summer, and there are some big bare spots. DH finished a nice extension to the brick patio a couple of months ago, and it has really helped both of us to decide on some of the changes we've been wanting to make in the garden. A big 3-tier fountain was here when we bought the house, and I love to listen to the sounds it makes as I fall asleep at night. It is the best sort of 'white noise', helping to mask the sounds of traffic.

We have a Bearss lime tree between the back patio door and the garage, and unless we keep whacking away at it, it gets taller than the garage. Right now it is heavy with ripe and nearly-ripe limes. Bearss limes have a wonderful taste and are large and very juicy. Some of the branches are drooping so low that even I, at barely over 5 ft, have to duck. It's a wonderful tree, really. There's always good shade, it seems to thrive on near-total neglect, and it keeps on giving us a huge crop of limes. When it is covered with blooms in late winter, it perfumes the whole patio.

We got errands done, some garden clean-up, and DH was able to take both days off from work. Life is good.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Knitters' Pee Ohh Arr Enn

I wrote the title so as to avoid the wrong listings on Google; you understand what I mean. Evil, wicked, bad, bad mail is arriving Chez CBM: Today I got catalogs from The Wool Connection and from WEBS, and yesterday the new issue of Knitters' magazine arrived.

Surprisingly, there's very little in Knitters' that caught my interest, since usually I like several projects in the Fall issue. The peach-colored jacket with the asymmetrical front is nice, until they put the ruffles on it. The cover jacket is also nice as a general concept, though I'm not crazy about the colorwork they put into it, and putting the tie right under the boob is just wrong, a no-brainer; you can't tell me they didn't
notice that. Just add me to the thousands of knitters who pan the newest magazine issue; we're offset by the other thousands who love the whole collection. I think it evens out.

But the catalogs! Oy! These are bad. Bad, bad. Some are OMG and some are ooh, ooh. There's a new 100% luxury silk called Tao, 126yds for $26.50 from The Wool Connection.. So gorgeous but so painful on the VISA!! Those of you who missed it will be glad to know you can still get some Lily Chin Signature yarns there, too. But it's lovely to see a wide range of colors in Jamieson's yarns, so beautiful.

Then there are the new bags, the Noni and the ones from Nicky Epsteins 'Fabulous Felted Bags'. These mostly baffle me. Well, small fancy handbags baffle me in general. I carry a tote bag, and even when I was working, before I
became a knitter I carried a fair-sized bag. Where's the room for the wallet, the planner, the cell phone, the lipstick, etc.?? Let alone the knitting?! Thanks, but don't try to explain it to me; it is just one of those unexplainable things. (Like gambling; oh, sorry, let's not go there.) So many of these bags have fairly large 'things' hanging off of them. Big, really big flowers. Nicky has one with at least 4 fuschias dangling. Do these really stay on, or do they get ripped off the first time you have to juggle purse, shopping bags, keys and so on? I'm just sayin'.

I like WEBS' layout, less on a page; more room for the drool - oh, sorry! There's a polo-collared pullover pattern, free with yarn purchase, shown in their house yarn, Valley Yarns Berkshire, that is just perfect for a couple of my Canadian knitter friends. BTW, I found that you don't have to buy X skeins of the yarn to get the patterns, just some of it, and there are quite a lot of these free patterns. And there are some luscious new-to-WEBS Great Adirondack yarns; these are pricey, but 600+ yard skeins. Two of these skeins and a bit of this and that, and you'll hit WEBS' 25% discount level.

Big sigh! OK, I'm going to go knit my Highland Triangle Shawl and try to catch up on some of my TiVo'd programs. And chant, under my breath, "I don't need more yarn. I don't need more yarn. Ohm."

Friday, October 6, 2006

Coming Out of the Dark

The headaches are finally down to a very low roar. What a relief! I finished a scarf last night, for the Red Scarf Project. This is 2 skeins of Paton's Shetland Chunky Tweed, done in mistake rib on size 10.5US. The yarn is a very nice acrylic/wool blend, machine washable and dryable, and doing it on slightly oversize needles makes it sproingy and soft. I'll wash it before I send it off, something which I find makes even the cheapest acrylics much softer. That's Middy's tail; she's watching the squirrels frisking around the arbor.

It was 68F in the house when I got up this morning, just lovely, enough crispiness to say 'Fall'. But, like the shoemaker's children who had no shoes, I'm a knitter with no warm shawls. That pesky Elann Sierra Aran yarn is still calling to me, but I'm still keeping my finger off the 'Buy' button. I went stash diving and I found treasure! I have 20 skeins of Elann's Highland Wool Chunky that I bought a couple of years ago because of the color; I don't think the yarn is still being produced in this weight. The color is Tranquil Lagoon, a lovely heathery (!!!) lavender-blue sort of color, and with 20 skeins, I have 1800 yards, enough to make a gi-normous shawl. I'm trying to choose from the patterns in Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls, but the choices are all so tempting. Wool Peddler's? Lacy Prairie? Highland Triangle? Feather and Fan? Highland Triangle and Wool Peddler's are the front-runners, and Wool Peddler's will go really fast. If I make WP, I'll still have 1000yds for another project. That's a happy thought!

Shadow finds the Tranquil Lagoon good for scritching her chin.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Missing the Days

This has been a week of Really Evil Headaches, so there's been very little happening. Even with the pain relief that Imitrex and other migraine-level medications can give, I feel groggy and can't concentrate on anything. Lots of sleeping, some reading, very little knitting. I get these 2- or 3-day headaches sporadically; I'm just glad they aren't as frequent as they were some years back. I hate losing days out of my life!

I'm craving some of Elann's gorgeous Sierra Aran yarn. The beautiful heathered colorways are so perfectly Fall, something we don't really experience here in SoCal, but I still remember vividly from my childhood in SE Missouri. Joan has some incredible Vermont eye candy on her blog today, the glorious colors that Nature paints for us this time of year. Someday, someday, I'll get to join the 'leaf peeper' crowds in New England. In the meantime, I keep reminding myself that aran-weight wool is not something I need, regardless of the color painting that has been going on in my mind. Surprisingly, the Sierra colors that I'm most drawn to are not my usual purples and blues, but the rich Russet and Cinnamon and Chestnut. I keep managing not to push the 'buy' button; maybe next year.

On a happy note, I swapped some Chibi needles for some beautiful Canadian yarns, and the most gorgeous blue and violet yarns arrived yesterday. Curlerchik is an online friend in the Toronto area, and apparently the Chibi needles are hard to find. She's promised to lead me to all sorts of sources of Canadian yarns, if I ever get up to see her. I'm thinking about putting these together with some soft green for a shawl or scarf. When my brain is back to its normal level of consciousness, of course.

Monday, October 2, 2006

How Big the "Little Things" Can Be

CatBookMom's Yarns

I found this For Better or For Worse comic strip from last week left in my scanner. I love this strip, and I've been following it since the youngest girl (now in high school!) was still unborn.

There's lots going on in my head, but this is one of them, and one of the best. Enjoy!