Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So, I'm middle of the road???

This is interesting, and generally fairly accurate. However I do usually find myself on the liberal side of most social and political issues. But I really don't like change much; maybe that's the "Cat" part of being CBM???

Your Five Factor Personality Profile


You have medium extroversion.
You're not the life of the party, but you do show up for the party.
Sometimes you are full of energy and open to new social experiences.
But you also need to hibernate and enjoy your "down time."


You have medium conscientiousness.
You're generally good at balancing work and play.
When you need to buckle down, you can usually get tasks done.
But you've been known to goof off when you know you can get away with it.


You have medium agreeableness.
You're generally a friendly and trusting person.
But you also have a healthy dose of cynicism.
You get along well with others, as long as they play fair.


You have medium neuroticism.
You're generally cool and collected, but sometimes you do panic.
Little worries or problems can consume you, draining your energy.
Your life is pretty smooth, but there's a few emotional bumps you'd like to get rid of.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is low.
You're a pretty conservative person, and you favor what's socially acceptable.
You think that change for novelty's sake is a very bad idea.
While some may see this as boring, many see you as dependable and wise.

The Knitting Place

Madge and Ellen have started this little Show & Tell about their favorite knitting spots. So here's mine. Ellen cleaned hers up to a level that Good Housekeeping could photograph, and Madge's isn't far behind. But here's mine, in something truly resembling its natural state.

I have my Ott light, another lamp to help with really close work, my loveseat which I share with Midnight's kitty bed (gift from my dear blogless friend Lunadog), my coffee table which is really quite tidy at the moment, and my wonderful little Chinese chest. I found this in a local 'antique' store and snatched it immediately. Inside the 2 doors are 3 drawers for knitting notions, pens and papers, etc. and an open area perfect for my sets of Denise and KnitPicks needles; the bottom drawer holds my magnetic board for charts, my roll of hand-carved crochet hooks from Bill at Turn of the Century and other flat items.

DH calls me the "Imelda Marcos" of tote bags, and I do have a lot. Nearly every project has its own tote; smaller ones have a plastic zip bag and live with bigger projects. The TV and stereo are across the room, my iPod is at hand - everything I want is nearby. And the little bear on the side table has a tote that says "Knitting is my bag."

So - show off YOUR favorite knitting spot !!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Busy, Busy

It has been nearly non-stop around here. There's been reading and knitting and de-cluttering, all of which make for a tired body but a lot of happy.

Some time ago - and if I wrote about this before, please bear with the repetition - on a whim I bought a book by Jennifer Chiaverini called "Circle of Quilters." I am not and have no interest in becoming a quilter (the obsessions I have with knitting and books are quite enough, TYVM), but I *loved* the book, staying up way late until I finished it in one sitting. One of my seniors, who is a wonderful quilter, borrowed some of the other books by this author, and then loaned them to me a week ago Friday (July 15). I read all 4 in less than 2 days. They, and the rest of Chiaverini's books, are in my "To Buy Later" cart at Amazon. These are the sort of books you will want to read again sometime, and the stories are just as applicable to knitters as they are to quilters. I wrote a review on the "Circle of Quilters" book, so read more at the Amazon site.

On the knitting side, my seniors' group received a nice big bag of LYS-type yarns, mostly Cascade 220 and similar basic wools. Since we've been getting more and more wools, and I've been trying (not very successfully ) to knit them all up or find homes where they'll become charity items, The Powers That Be in our group have at last decided that it's OK to use these wools for projects to be sold at our holiday boutique, labeled of course with instructions for hand washing. Hurray!! Nice yarns to knit with for charity projects, and I don't have to buy them!!

There was one skein of a lovely mossy heathered green Cascade 220 in the bag, and it immediately cried out to become something pretty in my hands. So, having just seen my friend Marie's pattern for the Georgiana scarf, that's what it became. Marie's pattern explains or has links to practically anything you could want to know about knitting the scarf. She did hers in a chunky/bulky yarn, but I'm very pleased with the results from this worsted gauge. If you'd like a chart of the pattern, LMK in the comments and I'll send you a pdf file I made.

I used size 9US needles with the Cascade, and blocked it just a little bit extra-hard in width. I didn't want to make the scarf too long, so I stopped knitting at about 60 inches; blocked, it grew to just over 6ft by 5in. I have about 30g of the yarn left, which would have added another foot or so. I also did not knit 2 ends and graft them together, just kept knitting. I don't think our boutique customers will care about the difference. It's a quick knit, since I started and finished this in less than 4 days.

And about the de-cluttering, well I'm feeling pretty chuffed! I've nearly emptied one 7ft by 3ft bookcase, full of 'stuff', especially old magazines. Our recycling barrel has overflowed and weighs a ton, and there's already one largish box full of books for the library. The idea here is that the bookcase will move out of our spare bedroom/yarn room and find a new home, the armoire in the room will move to our bedroom, replacing yet another bookcase, and my yarn tubs will line up along the vacated wall rather than filling the middle of the room, leaving space for walking and the occasional sleep-over visitors. Next up on the de-cluttering agenda is old files; I'm hoping to shrink 4 file drawers down to 2, which will mean getting rid of one file cabinet and making still more room in the craft closet. And, oh, yeah, getting rid of some more books; that's more difficult. Sigh.

Dang! I'm feeling so virtuous!! But in the hubris equation, something's surely going to come back and bite me in the ass.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Socks 101 - Remedial and Beginners Classes

I've written before about having some difficulties with my gauge for socks recently. At the moment, my poor lovely Horcrux sock (from the Six Sox KAL), which was formerly past the heel turn, is totally frogged and awaiting a second chance at becoming a wearable object.

While I was in San Francisco, I worked diligently at keeping a good tight tension on a sock, and it's looking good. This is OnLine sock yarn I got from Little Knits last month; it's nice yarn and my friend Lisa's suggestion to use ribbing on the leg and the top of the foot is making me feel better about getting a relatively durable sock from this. I think these are US1 needles.

And then, in spite of my warnings about being sock-challenged, my dear friend Madge asked me to teach her to knit socks. We've been working through the stages - cast-on, heel flap, heel turn, gusset - on and off for a couple of months, and today we *finished* the first sock, Kitchener bind-off and all. Woot!! Madge is a terrific pupil, and for a very first Kitchener, she was awesome: it looked great with nearly no snugging-up required. Look at those great Kitchener'd toes!!

So - here's Madge's first finished sock, in the blue; mine is the red one. We used worsted weight yarn and size 4 needles/dpns. Our second socks both need a few more rows to get to the toe decreases, but they're right on track, and we are both really JAZZED!!! Plus - our socks *fit* us!!

Madge and I are signed up for a class in Toe-Up socks from Cookie A, to be held July 5 at my favorite LYS, Unwind.

And, for some fun, I snagged this from my online friend Curlerchik:

Your Power Element is Wood

Your power colors: green and brown

Your energy: generative

Your season: spring

Like a tree, you are always growing and changing.
And while your life is dynamic, you are firmly grounded.
You have high morals and great confidence in yourself and others.
You have a wide set of interests, and you make for interesting company.

Friday, June 15, 2007

San Francisco Prezzies and Other Fun

In re-reading my last post, I realized that I didn't say enough about how much fun I had courtesy of Lisa, aka Midwife Knits. Lisa works as a certified midwife and nurse practitioner in Anchorage, in conjunction with a group of medical clinics. She was in SF for a professional midwives conference, and very generously offered to share her hotel room, which made the trip do-able for me. From the moment she popped up at the front desk of the Hyatt until I wheeled my suitcase out the door, it seemed like we talked non-stop. Our life histories are very different - Lisa has had at least 3 very different and exciting careers while I spent 27 years as a tax accountant - but oh, boy, did we CLICK!!! We talked about family, knitting, our younger wild and crazy days, yarn, struggles with knitting patterns, you name it. Lisa is just immediately likeable and so fun and easy to be with. She is just 'a hoot and a half', as the saying goes! I know she's going to be on the east coast in the fall, and meeting Cate; I'm looking forward to hearing all about their hi-jinks.

I have to share with you the gorgeous facecloths that Marie (smariek knits) gave Lisa and me. I was looking at them last night, and they are amazing. Marie's knitting is so evenly-tensioned even in a difficult fiber like heavy cotton. For the mother of a very active and challenging 2-year old, she has found time to make these for gifts, and, if you haven't checked out the wealth of patterns for facecloths, hats and scarves she has designed and posted for free, you should.

I'd forgotten about the oh-so-practical fan I got at Menopause, the Musical. I clearly remember when I was a kid in SE Missouri, in the days when air conditioning was practically unknown, that most of the ladies in church had fans to use during the services. In fact, they may have been provided along with the hymnals! If you haven't heard about the "Musical" part of Menopause, the Musical, they got permission to modify the lyrics to some 2 dozen oldies, and have very cleverly adapted them to the many problems of menopause.

The lyrics at the top of the fan go like this, to the tune of "Heat Wave":

I'm having a hot flash
A tropical hot flash
My personal summer is really a bummer
I'm having a hot flash

Comes on like a car crash
No warning just hot flash
Outside it is nippy, but I'm hot and drippy
I'm having a hot flash

You'll excuse me, please. I need to go stand in front of a fan. After 15 years, I'm still experiencing my own personal summers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

♪"I left no Art(fibers) in San Francisco"♫

You know the tune. Although I really did not buy up the entire stock of Artfibers, my trip to San Francisco last week was more fun than kittens! There's not a lot I can add to the great tales that Lisa (MidwifeKnits) and Marie (smariek knits) have posted, but I'll try. Lisa took and posted all the best pictures!!

Arriving mid-morning Wednesday at the Grand Hyatt at Union Square, I had no more than given my name and Lisa's to the desk clerk than there she was, popping up just in time to smooth the way to my own personal keycard. Lisa is tall, blonde, witty, tall, pretty and charming. She just sparkles with energy, and she has the most wonderful hair, just the sort that I, inheriting baby-fine, stick-straight hair, would love to have. Her photos don't convey the full-of-life effect Lisa has in person. Did I mention that Lisa is tall?? Here she is in one of the buses we took, holding on with no effort; for me, the bar is nearly at my full arms-length. Lisa kindly made no short jokes, though she had to stoop down a bit to get both our faces into some of the pictures she has of the two of us. I love her clothes and sense of style.

After I unpacked, we immediately headed out to Artfibers, just 3 blocks away. Artfibers is a small, simple shop that is jam-packed - in an orderly way - with luscious fibers of all sorts. I was stunned by all the goodies, and it took me a few minutes to get with the program. Lisa, being an 'old hand' at AF, immediately dived in and came up with a huge skein of undyed cashmere before moving on to the silks and silk blends. After much dithering and trying not to drool on the swatches, I started choosing yarns to adopt. Lisa quickly assessed my color favorites, and snared a beautiful colorway just my style, Golden Chai 100% tussah silk in subdued jewel tones. Based on the lovely colors shown in the swatch, I picked up some Alfabeto, a beautiful russet and gold silk and mohair blend. And then a cone of the most gorgeous deep blue-red Basque, a heavier silk/mohair blend. Oh, yum! These will become drop-dead lovely shawls. Someday. I also picked up single balls, just "tastes" in quantities enough for small scarves, in various fiber blends and colors - two greens, red/coral and a deep brown with gold highlights; the brown will perhaps become a vest for DH.

Kira at Artfibers suggested Metropol for lunch, practically next door, and Lisa and I arrived just before the lunch rush. Great food and a perfect small-bistro feel. DH and I visited San Francisco a long time ago, and my second-most Have-To for this trip was to return to the Buena Vista Cafe. The Buena Vista claims to be the origin of Irish coffee - at least in the US; a place in Shannon (Ireland) airport may be the very first on the planet. For those of you who haven't tasted one, Irish coffee is just that: hot coffee, sugar, a shot of Irish whiskey and a topping of freshly whipped cream. Can you say "Yum!?" The BV is located at the very end of the cable car route, where the cars are reversed - by hand - on an ingenious turntable. You can't take an Irish coffee with you, sad to say, but DH does now have a lovely deep green sweatshirt souvenir.

Lisa was booked into her seminar most of Thursday, but was free after 2:30, so we arranged a meet-up with Marie and her adorable 2-year-old daughter Marisa. We stopped by our hotel room, so that Lisa could demonstrate the KnitPicks Options needles set to Marie; Lisa entertained Marisa while Marie explored the needles and had a moment to admire her daughter interacting with someone new. Though she lives in San Francisco, Marie had never visited Artfibers, so we enabled her into fiber fairyland. She scored some wonderful yarns, about which she has written. The visit was delightful, and it was so kind of Marie to make the long drive into downtown. And she came bearing wonderful goodies for us - so unexpected! - Peet's coffee and chocolates from Scharffen Berger, plus some of her lovely facecloths, these with her Papillon design.

Our trip out to Pier 39 and 'Menopause - the Musical' was wonderful. The theatre is small but nicely appointed, with very comfortable seats. I laughed so hard and long that I nearly couldn't catch my breath. Lisa got the idea to see the show from an ad in the SF Chronicle, and it was one of the highlights of the trip. I wish the show hadn't left LA quite some time ago, since I know several friends who would love to see it.

While Lisa was in an all-day class on Friday, I puttered around the hotel, having coffee and doing a bit of KIP (knitting in public), before meeting her for lunch, which we had at the Metropol again. Lisa and her co-worker Bonnie hurried back to class and I ambled through the shops between Metropol and the hotel. Yes, I did go back to Artfibers, but only to acquire a few prezzies for yarn-loving friends. And there's a very nice pen shop, Stylo Fine Pens, along Sutter St. I've been a fountain-pen lover for many years, though these days I don't have much occasion to use a fountain pen; they don't travel well in a handbag likely to be dumped here and there, lol! But I picked up a nice purse-sized pen, the Waterford Arista - trimmed in lavender, my favorite color. Dinner at E&O Trading Company, which serves all sorts of Asian dishes, was way tasty. It was astonishing how quickly we filled up, just with a couple of appetizers and some sweet potato naan. I hadn't had naan before, and this was great, with a spicy zest to it.

Saturday morning, while Lisa attended the last of her classes, I finished packing and assembled my yarn; that had to be mailed due to a lack of room in my roll-on suitcase. I made a quick trip to a wonderful chocolate shop nearby, Teuscher Chocolates, for a few gorgeous yummy treats and gifts, and then stopped by The Whisky Shop, which carries all kinds of Scotch whisky; most of the Union Square shop is devoted to kilts and other traditional Scottish dress items, for men and for women. I wanted to check out the gift opportunities. DH is Scots by birth and I am part Scots by heritage as well: my maternal grandmother was a Campbell. DH's Modern clan tartan is quite gaudy, with yellow, red, green and black, though the Hunting tartan is a lovely and subdued pattern of foresty greens and browns. If you recall the Oscars the year Mel Gibson won for 'Braveheart', he was wearing the same Hunting tartan in a vest, since Gibson is a sept (a sub-group) of DH's clan. Besides a little something for DH, I brought home a couple of miniatures of the clerks' suggested types of single-malt scotch. BTW, the clerks were both dressed in kilts; one was very tall and sort of craggy, reminding me of both Nicol Williamson and Liam Neeson, and fully of a size to swing around one of those huge swords seen in 'Braveheart'!

Lisa has written quite thoroughly of our visits to Atelier and Imagiknits, both of them delightful yarn shops. I have to say that Imagiknits is a Must-Do any time you're in San Francisco. The scope of the yarns that Imagiknits carries, in their shelves which stretch from floor to very high ceilings, is stunning! You can see the size of the shop in the photo, where Lisa is talking with the LYSO.

My yarny friends, you may not believe this, but I came away empty-handed, in spite of many of their yarns being on sale, only because I was running out of energy and beginning to worry about making my airport shuttle. Imagiknits had several incredible yarns from The Fibre Company, a new-to-me yarn source, and if I'd had more time to consider, I'm sure I'd have adopted some of their blends. In particular, their Road to China yarn, blended with alpaca, cashmere, yak and camel, has a lovely texture and very subtle colors. There was also a brand-new Malabrigo blend, merino and silk, that has just arrived in the US, and I would have grabbed a couple of skeins had the colors worked for me at all. Most of the 5 colorways were in Lisa's colors, and she chose a gorgeous one in greens, russets and golden browns.

By the time I got to the LA airport, where my dear DH picked me up, and then drove home to Burbank, I was exhausted, and spent most of Sunday napping. My yarns arrived promptly in Monday's mail, and I've been hard-pressed to work on any of my WIPs rather than diving into swatching. The good, good news is that my sock-knitting mojo seems to have returned. I managed to get a new sock to the point of turning the heel while I was traveling, and the gauge is looking like it should be a nicely firm-knitted sock. Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Catching Up

A dear friend reminded me that I've been missing from Blogland lately. There's not been much to blog about, sad to say. My knitting mojo has been on the fritz, and I keep forgetting to take pictures of the other fun I've been having.

I've had my usual Friday fun, with outings to both my seniors' charity group and my Friday Night Unwind SnB. This Sunday we had the great pleasure of having dinner on the patio Chez CBM with Knitdevil and her so-charming DH . Years and years ago, Erma Bombeck wrote that 'The best way to clean your house is to invite company', and that was indeed the case. The casa is in the least-cluttered state it's been in for months, the CBM Private Library is once again properly alphabetized and shelved (with 60 books gifted to the local library) , and the stash is pretty darned tidy. I've had great ideas for how to improve the stash room set-up, which will include emptying an entire bookcase full of rather useless "stuff".

About the mojo-less knitting situation: Well, I've finished 3 kids' hats to send to A4A (which may have been the entire progress as of my last post), I've turned the first corner of a child-size version of EZ's Ribwarmer (adult version here), and the poor Horcrux sock has been frogged entirely, due to evil gauge problems. The Wren top, the yarn for which I had so much trouble, may take flight this month, since later this month Elann has some new house-brand yarn, to be called Pegasus, that will be coming up later in the month which will be absolutely perfect in fiber, gauge and color. Keep a lookout at the Elann site for the Sneak Peeks; today they've introduced a lovely 50% cotton/50% linen yarn.

Yesterday I started packing for a trip to San Francisco, to meet up with Lisa, whom I 'met' through the Elann Chat Center. She's coming from Anchorage for a business seminar, and we plan to have a great time, especially with our planned visit to Artfibers. After the huge haul of yarny swag I got a couple of weeks ago from the 75%-off LYS going-out-of-business sale, I am feeling no yarn hunger, but I cannot get within walking distance of the fabled Artfibers shop without a visit and the adoption of just a smitch of their gorgeous yarns, otherwise visible only online.

OK, I've got to decide what to wear, re-think the knitting I'm going to take, and figure out how to put my eyedrops, toothpaste, a modest amount of makeup and the rest of my liquid stuff all into one 1-quart baggie. And hope to get all of it into one roll-on and one 'personal item'. I may have to check a bag. Sigh. And oh, yeah, I'll be arriving at the LAX airport about 5am. I *do* plan to take the camera!

Just for your fun:

What Your Hands Say About You

You are logical, analytical, and rational. You have good verbal skills.

Bold and daring, you're not afraid to change your life if you think it needs an overhaul.

Consistent and reliable, you like to count on structure and routine in your life.

Your emotions tend to be nervous and potent. Your energy - both positive and negative - deeply impacts your life.