Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dragonflies and Preying Mantis
(and potholders too)

My thanks to Steve Cresswell for posting this lovely photo on the web of an American Rudyspot dragonfly. I’ve been seeing them along the canals when I’m out walking the puppy. They’re like little red jewels flitting over the water. I’m getting to the point where I can tell a darner from a damselfly from a skimmer. I was always the junior naturalist at heart. I like to know the names of things. When I was much younger and living in Carmel Valley, CA (a glorious place to have been and it’s still rather nice) I would hike with much older folks – folks more in the range of my grandparents. I was always amazed at how much they knew. The names of flowers and trees, the behavior of animals and so forth. Now that I’m getting older (not quite that old YET) I can see that a lot of it was a combination of time, experience and having a desire to know about the natural world. That said, I woke up this morning to find a baby preying mantis next to me. S/he made a lovely color combo of bright green on blue pillow casing. I do a lot of things in bed but I’m not usually clutching my digital camera. (I continue to have issues with loading photos so no fabric pic. either. I guess blogspot likes some of my pics and not the others.)

We went to Roseville today to do some major shopping. When you live "in the country" you make expeditions for supplies. It was hot, boring, tiring and not a lot of fun. I thought there was a chance I might finish the first of the hubby socks. Then I found that the heel turn that I did at 2 in the morning (no, I do NOT have insomnia) proved that I cannot count past 5 and even then you had better check. I think that when the hubby sock is done I will endeavor to take a photo of it with a small kitten dangling off the bottom. Otis has made this sock BEYOND interesting. He seems to be able to find it anywhere I put it and rip it off the needles in a heartbeat. With great foresight I had also tucked the Mason-Dixon book in my knitting bag so I was able to read about knitting. I’ve taken an in progress shot with my sock artfully placed over some of the incredibly beautiful potholders my friend Suzy made for me from scratch AND embroidered. You can't really see much in the way of details with the sock but Suzy is a master level sewer. You know, the type of person who whips out wedding gowns for friends with eight foot trains (she made mine four years ago but it was a tea gown from the 1920's. I'm not a train kinda girl.) Years ago when I was recovering from surgery she taught me how to sew. Since she lives in Phoenix and I lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains it was a challenge. It was fun, instructive and just all around great.

Otis went to the vet today and he was such a little champ. There were two big dogs - doggies who were very curious about little kitties. Did it bother him? No. The guy is fearless (or perhaps clueless). He is gaining weight and doing well. One shot administered by a nice techie and no tears at all. Our last stop on the way home was to the Grower’s Market where I bought lots of fruit. I am sipping a fruit sangria as I type and It Is Lovely.

Random Flower Picture

This is of a bouquet that I put in my husband’s bathroom a few weeks ago. It’s a combination of geum (Mrs. Bradshaw) and a some volunteer sweetpeas.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I find reading the knitting blogs to be so inspirational. Sorry to sound so Pollyanna-ish but I do. I like the links to other sites, the patterns, the yarn, the bits and pieces of what is happening in a person's life. I particularly like seeing what people have finished.

Beth at Yarn Envy has a great gallery of finished projects which inspired me to follow her link to ChickKnits and buy the pattern for the Eyelet Cardi and the Ribbed Cardi. Now the question is: which pattern to grace with the 5 skeins of "Envy" I bought from Sundara Yarn yesterday and should I get one or two more skeins in a solid color? (Don’t ask my credit card, it’s a little tired right now.) I might be just a little short with only 5 and my calculations for the eyelet cardi says I’ll need 5.3. Decisions, decisions. Then there is taking time out from actual knitting to do things like fix up my very own blog so I can link to sites I like, show my FO’s (of which there are now starting to be one or two) and so on.

The hubby sock continues on. I’m turning the heel. Only one frog so far when I lost my way and decided to go back rather than fret about a mistake. While trying it on the hubby I learned that "he doesn’t like baggy socks". This is news to me. Oh, and he doesn’t like them too high. So I knitted the leg two inches shorter and they were deemed perfect. (Update: since I wrote this I discovered the sock on the floor rather the worse for wear with a small kitten having a great time. He even managed to chew up one of the dpn’s. I think I’ve straightened out the sock but only one side of the dpn is useable.)

On other non related knitting news: It was cloudy and a bit muggy today. "Only" 90F or so. Well, that is a nice drop of 16 degrees and I’m not going to complain. The pool is up and running so I can get wet anytime I want to go to the effort of rolling back the cover. Omar thinks this is all very odd and barks at me when I’m swimming. He is not a water dog. He is able to recognize the old nightie I wear when I’m about to give him a bath. As soon as he sees me in it he goes and hides. Smart Doggie but also Smelly Doggie. Come here you! All that puppy socialization and basic training and he still decides when and where he’ll obey me.

He and Otis continue to be best buddies. I feel like I’ve been moved down the social scale. No longer does my puppy stay cleaved to me but runs down the hallway whenever a small orange and white streak flits by. The streak himself has a vet appt. tomorrow for the first of his shots and to see how things are progressing. He has grown long but is still very thin. I think he will always have a bit of a rough and tumble, pirate type of look about him - not the long-haired elegance of Opie nor the silver grace of Ollie. He is totally fearless. Growls and swats slow him down not at all. Thankfully, the swats from the big kitties have been pretty mild.

While in town today I bought two yards each of these fabrics. I have no idea what I will do with the green/white but it was so just so beautiful and the plaid-ish will become a pair of capri pants I think. This is from the woman who has had a dress pattern clutering up the dining room table for a week plus. I am getting just a little AHEAD of myself when it comes to projects. (picture coming I just can't get the sucker to load) (I've tried several times but photos won't load - sorry no pic's for now.)

A Garden Photo

The Russian Sage has started to bloom and the blue of the flowers looks very nice with the blanketflowers and grass.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


It’s rather toasty outside and it’s only June. The AC units are cranking along and our electric bill is climbing every higher. How high can it go? Way High. Too High. When not cleaning up dog barf from overheated puppies I’m sitting on the couch (in front of the BIG AC) knitting the hubby sock. Hubby sock is draped over a pretty multicolored geranium called "Mrs Cox". The flowers are nice but it's the leaves that are special about this plant. I had a setback when Otis decided to attack the pretty dangling yarn. It took a surprisingly long time to straighten things out. Frog, frog, tink, tink. Knit. No, still not right. I’m knitting a basic men’s ribbed sock pattern from "Vogue Knitting - Socks Two". I’m using the Australian Merinos 100% Merino wool. I thought the dark brown with a bit of variegation would be boring but it isn’t. Using size 1 dpn's is like knitting with long toothpicks though. I have been working on the sweater jacket and that uses size 10's. They feel like ax handles by comparison. The yarn is easy to work with, doesn’t split and the color has a lot of subtlety. Best of all, it seems to fit the foot it is intended for. The owner of said foot is back from TN, the land of Hot AND Humid and he has been much kissed etc. It’s good to have him home. He didn’t blink an eye when he entered the house and the dining room table, with both leaves pulled out, was covered with a sewing project, the sideboard had knitting books and yarn piled up, there was knitting on the kitchen counters and knitting on the TV table. I’ve a good hubby. I made him his favorite spicy slow cooked shredded beef (and me a vegetarian). Today I made him (and me) chocolate banana bread that is pretty darn delicious and used the last of the blackberries to make another sherbet. My studio is also covered with similar knitting related items. And I wonder where my money goes…

My copy of "Knitting Nature" and "Mason-Dixon Knitting" (see the money flying out the door?) came the other day and I’ve been having a wonderful time dreaming of future projects. I started flipping through the Knitting Nature book late at night and gasped with delight and frustration that I would have to wait hours for the yarn store to open. I wanted to run down and buy yarn to make this incredible tank top. Now that I’ve calmed down a bit I’m thinking I might make the vest I was thinking about earlier from "Folk Vests" by Cheryl Oberle. The "Bayeta" from Peru. The lines should suit my build. I have some alpaca stash that I bought on Thetis Island up off the coast of western Canada that might be a good match.

Today I ordered "Knitting Vintage Socks" by Laura Bush (what is that flapping noise? It's really annoying). That should be interesting. I hadn’t expected to really get into making socks but I find they give a lot of pleasure.

Omar and Otis spend a lot of time hanging out together. Otis did try to nurse at one point, which pretty much freaked out the puppy. Otis is looking to be a long cat, a big cat. Since he won’t be neutered for a few months he’ll probably dominate the house and then the visit to the vet. He’s up to a stunning 2 lb. 6 oz. We’ve had him all of three weeks now. The two adult cats give him a growl and a soft swat now and again if he gets too pushy but overall things are working out. I think we’ll have some supervised outdoor time soon.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Done Deal

The socks are done and for what is pretty much my first pair I’m not too displeased. They even feel pretty good in my hiking boots. They stay up; the tops fit over my large calves; they certainly will be warm. I have put them in my sock drawer where they look smugly over at all the common store bought socks. Now to look at the one sock I've knitted out of the Koigu to see if I can figure out the heel.
My friend is back home from the hospital. Some adjustment to meds but overall nothing serious was found. Having recently watched the first season of Grey’s Anatomy (a most excellent series) I hope this isn’t the part where the doctor says you’re fine and the next thing is that the monitors go crazy and 5 doctors and 12 nurse’s rush in. I spent yesterday walking around with a worry frown giving myself a heck of a headache. Worry, worry, worry, worry.

Omar is spending a lot of time doing this. I’ve made safe spots for the kitten to run to. It doesn't do much for making my home look tidy but it buys peace of mind. Omar means well but he gets a bit rowdy at times despite my assiduous daily walking. After a fair amount of trial and error I’ve managed to wedge the bedroom door so that an intense mini rat terrier cannot push it open. Meanwhile, while not hanging out in the bedroom they do a lot of this. I have taken to having thick towels on my favorite chairs so I can cover my legs. Otis throws himself up my calf and then claws his way up. Not really as much fun as it sounds.

I started watching "In Her Shoes" last night but couldn't stand it. I'm not sure I'll even give it another try. It was just annoying which was strange since I like the two lead actresses. Is it worth trying again?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

First Day of Summer

Happy Solstice! I always love the first day of summer. I like the sunshine and the long, hot days. I spent four years as a child in the Canal Zone in Panama and long days with lots of light seem just right to me.

Otis continues to thrive. He’s over 2 lbs now and full of beans. I have let him sleep in the bed for the last few nights. It all works pretty well till the early hours of the morning when Omar decides to chase him. I’ve been getting up early to beat the heat and get some gardening done but 5 am is just a little too early for me. I’m also still collecting scratch marks. He nailed my boobs this morning and they are looking rather sad about it all. Sorry - no photo!

While Kate was here I ogled her crochet hooks. I learned to crochet when I was very young. For a period of time a very old lady (I was so young that she was probably all of 50) who lived down the street from us in Kentucky taught me. I remember making doilies and doll clothes with a 000 hook and the yarn she gave me was in awful colors of primary yellow and red. Really dreadful stuff. The house was so hot because there was a new baby and they were afraid the baby would catch cold. Funny what one remembers. One cool thing about being an army brat is that you live in so many different places and get to see so much. I taught myself to knit over the years. It’s been pretty hit or miss but I’m slowly improving. I’m almost done with my second sock and it will be a race to see if I have enough yarn. There has been a small amount of fudge factor involved with the pattern but they look rather good I think.

Kate found a wonderful website for handmade hooks. She also has a very nice cloth case for carrying them.

I’m a little worried today. A very close friend of mine is being checked out at the hospital. So far nothing has been found but Things Aren’t Right. Please wish her luck.

More Garden Photos.

Asian lily

A rudbeckia called "Irish Eyes" with some yarrow and a potentilla called "Helen Jane". I grew them all from seed. Clever me.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Random Thoughts of the Day

Wear earplugs when you vacuum. Your hearing is precious.

Don't eat crackers when wearing earplugs. Trust me.

The smaller the cat the further s/he can toss the litter out of the box. It should be a sporting event.

If you're in a hurry traffic will be slow. Deadly slow.

It's hot, freaking hot.

Stash Enhancement

I made it to Meadow Farm on Friday and had a very good time. Isn't it amazing how many dollars worth of yarn a person can charge in under 10 minutes? I felt a little breathless. I think the Australian Merinos will be perfect for the hubby socks. I've knitted up an inch or so on size 2 dpns and I'm thinking that a size 1 might actually be better. It looks and feels wonderful. This is nice stuff.

I also fell in love with the yarn in the background to makes socks for myself. It's MeadowFarm yarn -"Handpainted in the Gold Country". Oh my. It's 100% superwash Merino wool and there is enough for four socks. It's dyed locally and very beautiful. I've had a problem since I started using my new orthopedic inserts in my hiking boots. These are boots I wear pretty much every time I do a hike with the dog so they get a lot of use. My usual, LLBean socks are too thick now and my regular socks are too thin. What to do, what to do. I KNOW! I'll knit myself some "Just Right" socks.

I finished the baby socks. I'm not entirely happy with the toe weave though. The weave actually looked a lot better on the inside. Is this "normal"?

Hammock Update

My hammock has a another friend this weekend, Kate, she of the really cool bat panel. We had fun gloating over our various yarns and she has some wonderful and unusual crochet hooks.

Omar loves Kate. All my animals love Kate and these are critters that come running by to hide when company arrives.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fishy Business
Would you buy a slightly used herring from this critter? In the space of less than two weeks Otis has gone from abandoned/I'm starving to death to Kitten on the Hill. Mr. Give Me Attention and Give it to me Now! I am finding that photographing a moving kitty is not so easy. Dick has taken off for the week to visit his son in TN and I am juggling two adult cats, one dog who doesn't like the fact that he is no longer the youngest and cutest and a demanding kitten who can't run around free. See me go from room to room, stroking, petting, feeding, sifting shit out of the litter boxes. Oh, okay, it isn't so bad. I have a week of no cooking and that means more knitting time.

Last night I managed to lose the photo of my husband wearing the men's sock. Take my word for it, it's too small. It fits me just fine though. I thought it was going to be too long so I started the toe early and yup, it was too short. So I frogged it and am now redoing the toe. I'm beginning to think that I might be a junkie. On the way to the airport at 10 pm last night I found myself annoyed that I couldn't be knitting. Are there deprogramming people? Half way houses?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bats and Blankets

I continue to work on my various projects - never quite completing anything but I'm very close on this sock. Since the kitten can’t run around with the other animals for a while I’ve taken to sitting with him in the guestroom and knitting. He attacks my yarn and I get a few rows done every few hours. He sharpened his teeny tiny razor sharp claws on my ankle today and that was a lot of fun. I am a little shredded.

I am thinking that the men’s sock will be too small for my husband. After hearing that I had blogged that he was less than enthusiastic about getting a pair of handmade socks he has done a 180 turn and is now so very happy. Uh huh. I tried the sock on him and I don’t like the fit. The pattern is from The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting book –"IBH’s Toasty Socks". I didn’t bother with stripes since I pulled something out of my stash, which I think is "Mountain Colors" but I can’t be sure. I'm trying to be better about keeping yarn and labels together. The pattern is very flexible so I should be able to change needles and get a larger sock for my big-footed hubby. I was nervous about the color to begin with so off to the yarn store we go (the pain of it all). I managed to not notice that you switch from knitting K2, P2 for a few inches to K6, P2 and did it for 7. Oh well, think FLEXIBLE. So far I’ve turned the heel with a few "adjustments". I had a one too many stitches on my pickup but I just knit two together the next time around and that has worked fine. I doubt that anyone is going to take a magnifying glass and scrutinize my sock heel. Then again…

Recently my friend Kate crocheted a blanket for a pregnant friend. Her friend is a Goth so things were either black or other dark colors. She not only made the blanket but also a really lovely panel with a bat, Yes! A Bat. It is so cool that I asked her if I could put it on my blog.

I also picked more blackberries and they went from this...

to this. Yum.

And of course, more garden photos. The first is of some Gaillardia, (blanketflower). I grew the burgundy ones from seed last year. Soon the Russian sage will bloom and there will be a nice contrast of gray foliage with blue flowers mixed in. These plants are all pretty droughts tolerant which is a real plus.

Then there are some really pretty low growing Rudbeckia.

And a better shot of a pink penstemon.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Tale of Two Holmes

It was a nice weekend. My friend Lynda drove up from Alameda and did a lot of this: Well, that’s not really fair. She did a lot of things including deadheading a lot of my roses, entertained my dog, and was excellent company on a 2-hour hike and general all around Good Friend. She also helped me pick blackberries which we ate fresh and turned the rest into a blackberry sherbet which we snarfed down so fast our throats froze. I picked more berries today (and took a blurry photo for your enjoyment - 5 years I've had this camera and I still can't make it work right) and will be making a cake from a Sunset recipe. (Just to let you know I have recently started to subscribe to "Cook’s Illustrated" and it is excellent. If you are a serious cook this is a must have periodical.) Recently Lynda emailed me a photo of her Sally Holmes rose. Compare her rose to mine. Alameda doesn’t get pesky beetles chewing things up. Lynda pointed out that I, living in a hotter and dryer climate, don’t get rust on my hollyhocks and roses.

Otis continues to thrive. We weighed him two days ago and he has gained SIX OUNCES. We are now letting him roam around a bit and given him a much bigger litter box. I discovered that it’s easy to take you eye off of him for just a moment and off he goes to wherever little kitties go - that is: THEY DISAPPEAR. After a couple of hours of looking under the couch YET again and many, many times reassuring yourself that he is FINE and not to feel so FRANTIC he pops back into view.

I have completed my second baby sock. "Completed" as in I still need to sew up the toes and weave in the ends. Being unable to focus on anything that I have ongoing I started a men’s sock. Reasoning? I wanted something that didn’t need a lot of attention so I could watch "Match Point". A not very Woody Allen like, Woody Allen movie. I liked it with reservations. We also watched "The Squid and the Whale". An odd but very good film. A fair amount of the French Open was watched too. Hmmm. It didn’t seem like I watched a lot of TV. The men's sock is for my husband but he is giving me a lot of "I'll only wear it for special occasions, will it be comfortable? Hey, a sock is a sock, I buy them in huge packs from K Mart." I feel a little discouraged.

On the garden front another one of my new hydrangeas has started to bloom. Serrata "Miyama Yae Murasaki" – who names these things - can I get a job doing this? The catalog says it will be purple in neutral pH. Mine is pink and very pretty with an unusual double flower. In the past I never really liked hydrangeas mostly because I was only exposed to the mopheaded type in blue or pink – Miyama won’t aspire to the height and breadth of "Alice" (Ms. I'll grow to 10 or 12 ft.) but will eventually reaching 4 ft. or so.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


What can I say? It was wonderful. A nearly deserted National Park, full of lots of snow, lovely trails, breath taking trails (literally – puff, puff, puff), deer scampering up steep hillsides at dusk, you name it. We had a marvelous time. The new snowshoes are a dream. Light, easy to maneuver, easy to put on and take off. A great buy.

We hauled ourselves up this on our first afternoon.

The snow pack is heavy and it's a lot of work to clear the road. It's dangerous too. People die doing this work.

For a two day trip I packed 6 types of needles, three ongoing projects, two knitting books, (plus three regular books to read and several magazines), scissors, two crochet hooks, several other knitting odds and ends all stuffed in two knitting baskets.

This morning I hauled myself up another ridge (hubby said, that’s too steep and dangerous but I was determined to do it and I did) and once I got there I paid homage to the Yarn Harlot with this.

It’s my first attempt at a baby sock from a pattern I pulled off the web. It called for using size 5 needles. I did a swatch, it didn’t match the gauge. I did another swatch with size 4’s, still not enough stitches but I knitted anyway. It’s ugly but I did it. I had a couple of problems. But. I. Made. It. Work. I even knitted a second one on size 3’s and got a much better result. Did I pack a needle to sew the toe? Huh? Did I work on any of my ongoing projects? Of course not.

Omar did pretty well. He's an unhappy traveler and that translates into him running a little circle from lap to lap. I did a lot of my knitting over, under and around his little body. Otis slept, pooped (PeeU! what a smell!), demanded to be held, ate, ate some more, pooped more and exhibited cat behavior such as this. He has a teeny tiny little layer of fat now. He thought the sock was interesting.

He has also started doing this of which we are thankful.

Tomorrow will show me what the garden has been up to since I left. Then my friend Lynda will be here. Yea!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Two Ounces!
Yup, we’ve put two ounces on the little fella. One look at his round tummy will tell you where most of it is. He is looking much, much better though still just a little furry skeleton. Otis no longer cringes as you approach; has now done both No. 1 and No 2 in the litter box and wants to be held. His favorite place seems to be up under my husband’s beard. (I like it there too.) He is turning into a happy kitten. He plays and nips (very, very sharp teeth). I made him a feather toy from feathers around the property and he did fierce battle with them. We suffered from fleas and flea bites but now they are gone. (Well, the bites linger on.) The other three animals get meds for biting critters so I think it all just worked out. Thankyouthankyouthankyou. It’s been at least a day since I’ve found any more ticks. I stopped counting at 19.

Last month I mentioned that we had bought new snowshoes.

Well, I can’t wait a year to try them out. We’re driving up to Lassen where the snow is still deep. It’s a wonderful park four hours north and 8000 ft plus elevation so you get a lot of snow. Thermals and hot springs too. It’s my favorite park in California. The main road won’t be fully open till July. It will be a short trip just up and back by the weekend but we will manage to have lots of fun. Omar and Otis will come with us. Omar will play in the snow; Otis will sleep in a cat carrier for the duration. The two adult cats will have to rough it at home stuck inside. It’s a tough life here in the Sierra foothills.

It's hot and I'm tired of gardening. I took the day off and parked my bottom on the couch and read junk. (Being female I also did dishes, vacuumed, hauled things out to the RV ect. but some amount of time was spent lounging on the couch.) It was great - the joys of being retired. The hollyhocks are starting to bloom. They are nice reliable flowers that perk up sections of the yard. Their seeds are a bit aggressive so you spend a fair amount of time ripping them out.

This is a penstemon (beard tongue) which is a gorgeous flower, the most numerous species of flower (I think). My Sunset book says there are 250 species.

The knitting? The SOCK? I decided that since I chose a pattern that did not use a NORMAL heel and I've fussed and fussed over it that I would wait till we got back from slogging through the cold white stuff and take it to Meadow Farm Yarns and have them walk me through it. I can also have them show me how to sew up the sweater jacket. Gosh, I might actually finish up a few things. Now that would be something.

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