Sunday, October 29, 2006


Hubby and I sometimes laugh about how we both have ADD. Between us we have a huge number of things going on. For my part I feel like my laughter is just a little maniacal. I do so love to start things. Some are for improving the house and garden while others are more creative. I've been moving various plants around the garden and trying to find a spot that my roses and a few other plants would like. That all sounds fairly straightforward. Identify plant you want to move, identify spot to move it to, dig hole, put in fertilizer, plant and good dirt, then water. Well....I live in the Sierra Foothills. The ground is full of rocks. Digging a hole involves using a crowbar, a huge pry bar if the rock is big, a pickaxe, a long narrow shovel. You dig, you pry, you scoop out clumps of pure clay, you repeat these actions several times and then you get to put your plant in. On a few occasions we've run across what appear to be boulders that cannot be removed. You will never run out of rocks in this area.

I also have various knitting and sewing projects that are ongoing. After much musing and a fair amount of swearing the zipper assembly for my new pants worked and just as my friend Suzy predicted I looked over at the pile of hair I had pulled out in frustration and wondered why it had been such a problem. It's really rather straightforward and simple she said faintly from her position on the floor. I have various on-going knitting projects. (We're not going to talk about the older UFO's.) The log cabin blanket continues to grow. I find it perfect for those times I really want to actually follow the plot of the movie or TV show I'm watching and perhaps answer hubby in something more than monosyllables. The blanket is also good for talking on the phone while wearing a headset. I'm still not a good enough knitter to do things that have changes and counting going on without paying a bit of attention.

I am also going through (again) a craze for Yeats. Don't know why. Just feel the need to read poetry at the moment. Hubby has been working hard on repairing a round window in our living room that leaks. He's also caulking and painting as he goes along. He's also been talking to house painters for doing the rest of the house. So far the estimate has been far beyond what we had expected to pay so we shop and compare. I like the new colors we picked a lot.
The weather has been delicious. Warm during the day and cool at night. Hopefully rain will come soon and recharge our well.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

SEWING vs KNITTINGI have been working on sewing some fine wale corduroy pants recently. I do a little knitting in the evening - I'm finishing up the second of a pair of the Irish hiking wristwarmers and I think they will be the last with this pattern.

Sewing and knitting are really so very different. Sewing gives you a faster feedback. Zip, your fabric flys across the machine. You whomp it with a hot iron if it gives you problems. This can make you feel a whole lot better when things aren't working out quite right. With knitting it's a long term (in most cases) committed relationship. You do a few rows, you frog (or not). Each and every stitch goes by. You can whip out useful things in a flash while sewing or you can pull your hair out when trying to learn a new technique for putting a zipper into a pair of pants. Actually the insertion of the zipper was easy. I've paid my dues learning zippers a long time ago. It's the overlapping fly that gave me such a headache. Despite being faster than knitting it's taking a lot longer than I had anticipated. BUT I'm having fun in a patchy, balding sort of way.

I finally came to the realization that I never really need to take my swift and ball winder down. I have the room. I put it on an old hospital tray that goes up and down and has wheels so I can move it around if it's in the way. It''s nice having a studio. Studios are supposed to be messy.
Omar often sleeps like he's a cat. He also has a great guilty look. And he should. I discovered this morning that he has been chewing on the power cord that goes to my laptop. See Earin be annoyed. See Omar get a dose of A/C current (not really). Thankfully, the cord still works.

Me mums are coming into their own. Cor blimey! as I used to say when I was a schoolgirl in Worthing, Sussex England. (Just for a year but I acquired such an accent. People asked me where I was from for the next 20 years.)
And the Fuyu persimmons are getting closer to being ready to eat. The leaves are such a wonderful mixture of oranges, reds, yellows and a touch of green.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Believe it or not I am almost saturated with knitting. My friend Sharon came up Sat. and I presented her with the Irish Hiking scarf wristwarmers. The cable pattern does not show up very well in this photo. I did them in a nice black Elsebeth Lavold angora with some Ritratto S. Charles Mohair/rayon mixed in to give them some glitter. I imagine her wearing them while playing her fiddle, hands flashing in the sunlight. She plays for the White Rats Morris team.
We knitted to midnight Sat. while watching a DVD of the 2005 Academy Award Short Film Collection. Things with subtitles are hard to knit to. I liked the one where the elderly man buried himself alive rather than leave his remote farm and go live in a care facility. I worked on my Mary Jane pattern and drove Sharon bonkers with my inability to read patterns. She thinks I am pretty slow with computers too. Ha! We go back, way back to our college days so we get to rib each other a lot.Sharon brought lots of fiber. We drooled over each others stash. I wonder when a close girlfriend says you have "a lot of stash" does that mean you have too much? I think not. She finished up her shrug and I tried to mirror the photo she has on her blog knitting the shrug. Here she is wearing it.
On Sunday morning she took advantage of my swift and ball winder and went to town. See Sharon twirl! She has been having a good time buying yarn on Ebay.
Alas, Meadow Farm is closed on Sundays but Fibers is open. We spend a nice long time going through pattern books and magazines. Then we headed over to Nevada City where we had a lovely lunch at the new tea shop whose name I do not remember. We had tea. We had regular food. We had MORE tea and dessert. We found where several bathrooms are located in Nevada City. I am full. We ran up the hill (most of Nevada City is uphill) and bought some beads. It was a good visit. I'm tired. And Full. (I know, I said that already.)

Friday, October 20, 2006


I don't know quite why I'm feeling a little fried this Friday. Perhaps it's the persistent headache I've had all day. Hubby, if you asked him, will tell you that I'm being a little thin skinned and not at all my usual easy going self.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Perfect California weather. Warm enough for shorts and a T-shirt, golden sunshine and a blue-blue sky. I am pulling together my first gift for my Secret Pal. I think I've come up with a couple of things that will be out of the ordinary but still missing the dreaded "what the heck is this?" part of sending a complete stranger a gift. I've read the SP9 entry on how to put a button on your blog and let me tell you it's....Impossible. I did get a button shape up but it had no actual button picture. Blogger has some information but dang if I can find it. You would think typing "how to post a button" or variations on the theme in the search field would lead me to something, well, helpful. Hello? Blogger help? You don't.

I'm trying to finish up a few little knitted things such as the wristwarmers so I can take a break and do some sewing. I have grand plans to whip out three pairs of fine wale corduroy pants fitted to my own uniquely shaped body over a very short period of time. I am going to meet up with my girlfriend Suzy and go to a four day sewing expo, 4 Women of Design, in Sacramento in mid November and I have nothing to wear. If I haven't mentioned it before I'm retired. I was fortunate enough to have worked my butt off for some number of years and my husband for even longer and we were able to take an early retirement. Believe me, we're enjoying it. A. Lot. That said, I spend my days in old shorts, sweats, whatever. Now I can pull together a nice outfit for the odd dinner out or special event but four days? So, break out the rusty sewing skills and let it rip! I should be able to pull this off since Suzy was kind enough to fit a pants pattern to me back in March. She also taught me how to sew over the telephone years ago when I was recovering from surgery. She's already received one slightly frantic email from me today. Stay where I can reach you Suz. Otis thinks the fabric pile is a great place for a redheaded kitten to catch a little shut eye. Turn that flash off will ya?

When I filled out my SP9 questionnaire I mentioned that I wanted to learn how to finish my projects in a more attractive way so I got this book. It just came today so I haven't had more than a moment to peek inside. I think I will review it on my podcast, TrueYarns in a week or so. I want to compare the embroidery section to a book I have from 1964. Stay tuned!


I forgot that to get more than a couple of photos loaded onto blogger I have to put them in before my text so I only have this one picture. (I am really down on blogger today aren't I?)

This is Deborah who works at Keeping Still Mountain Tea Shop, which is the most wonderful tea shop ever. I love this place. Just to let you know how nice they are on their business card they lists the names of their employees (okay all two of them and the owner, Jick). Rain or shine, you step inside and your heartrate slows down.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Yesterday the hubby said, "What is all this stuff?" We have a convenient little shelf right outside the fridge where you can set down your juice and cereal bowl while you pour milk etc. I had loaded it up with things from the pantry. I had noticed that there were brown moths fluttering around and I wanted to clean, wipe down, eradicate etc. before putting stuff back. Last night my eyes opened wide in the wee hours of the morning. My unconscious brain had finally stopped receiving the recorded message, "I'm sorry, but due to technical problems beyond our control we are unable to connect you to any higher brain functions at this time. Please try again at a later time."

Moths. Yarn. My precious stash just around the corner. I now have several cedar blocks, freshly sprayed with new cedar oil stuffed into my stash drawers. We smell a lot better than when we had a freshly skunked dog in the house.

On a much less stressful note every year we do our Annual Fall Tour. This is where we load up the car with food and cold drinks along with the dog and spend the day driving up into the mountains to view the fall colors. Vermont we are not but there is still a lot of beautiful scenery to behold.

After you get over the mountains and past Downieville and Sierra City you come to Sierraville which is situated on a vast plain. Since you've been going up and down winding mountain roads this is a bit of a change. There is a vista point overlooking the wide, flat valley with displays telling you about the geology involved and I look at them every year. Do I remember anything? I'm sorry, my higher brain functions are busy trying to decide what to make for dinner. Please try later.
One of the fun things about this trip is exploring side roads. This photo shows the best part of a road leading up to an active mine (not that we saw anything resembling activity). It was a lot work getting over the huge mounds of dirt and rocks and requiring 4 wheel drive. At the point where it petered out to little more than a trail we came upon two storage containers and this somewhat absorbed vehicle. Too cool in an environmentally unfriendly way.

I am turning out wristwarmers like a little factory girl earning piecework money and I still haven't managed to get to the cool Interweave Knits ww pattern that Valerie mailed to me. Honest Valerie, soon, very soon! I finished off one of a pair last night and realized that I will need just a bit more of another skein. Just another trip to the yarn store and $10.73 after tax for the deep black Elsebeth Lavold Angora. Hubby said that he would like a knitted tube to pull over his head to keep his neck and lower face warm when he goes motorcycle riding in the winter. "Something subdued, plain." Men. Bah. I bought a couple skeins of the Autunno in a brown with just enough variegation to make it interesting and at the same time a few more skeins of what I have already. This stuff is being used up fast. The second of the pair should be finished by tonight or tomorrow just in time to present to my friend Sharon as a belated birthday present. I'll let her model them and blog the photos later.
Burn a little wood and your couch ends up looking like a kitten bomb went off. You can't even see Opie and Omar holding down the other side. A nice fire on a cold evening is always so nice.

Monday, October 16, 2006


The evenings are cooler now and we're happy to have a little fire to take the chill off. It's getting time to spend more of the day indoors. In the meantime I'm busy cutting back dead and dying flowers and rearranging some plants with the hopes that they will be happier in their new spot next year.

I've made some little bands with a bit of embroidery for my friend Lynda who now has a metal plate in her wrist after falling off her bike a few months ago. I think they might be a bit large for her. They feel pretty nice on my wrists though a little tight to get over my hands. Lynda's wrists are an inch smaller. If they slide around I'll just make her another pair. They knit up fast. I used some of my new Autunno and a plain seed stitch. The yarn is incredibly soft and light. I'm working on another pair of the wristwarmers/fingerless gloves to match the scarf I made for the Irish Hiking Scarf KAL. They need to be finished by early Nov. (they're a gift along with the scarf) and I'd like to make another pair for a visiting girlfriend by the end of the weekend but I need some black wool. The one black yarn I have in my stash isn't soft enough. I'm being sorely tempted by the red sweater KAL. Alas, I have too many things on the needles right now to start a red sweater. Christmas is coming and I have things that need my attention.A while back I whipped up a batch of Castile soap for Lynda's birthday. It takes six weeks to cure which is twice what my regular soap takes. I just have to trim the mold edges off and scrape down the backs and it's done. I'll keep one bar to see how it turned out. I keep a record of all my batches so I can adjust for the next round. I used some Juicy Pear essential oils for the fragrance and it smells pretty nice.

I've made contact with both the person I'm spoiling for Secret Pal 9 and the person spoiling me. It's fun to be learning about them. After twisting my brain into a couple of knots I've a few ideas of what to do for my SP9.

This is what the sky looked like around 6 pm tonight when you looked north. There are often times large clouds hanging over the mountains.
Over a year ago I started cleaning out my kitchen cabinets and drawers. Even though we haven't lived here all that long we pretty much just unpacked and threw stuff into closets and cupboards. I like to go through the house periodically and cull. I'm determined not to die with a house full of crap. The wood was unfinished so I decided to paint things in a cheerful manner.
The other day I was having "one of those days". I broke coffee cups, I spilled things, I stubbed my toes. I managed to get milk down in the drawer I keep foil and plastic wrap so it seemed like a good time to clean and paint. I still have about half the kitchen to do. Slowly we turn, inch by inch, step by step...

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Why that's Omar the Magnificent - chaser of skunks. Be thankful blogs don't come with SmellORama. He was not a happy camper last night and neither were we.

I increased my stash while Elaine was here. The photo does not do justice to the beauty of the three skeins of Autunno 100% merino. I've knitted a few swatches and this stuff is so soft and the variegation of color so subtle it make your eyes water with delight. I think the green will be wristwarmers (with hopefully enough leftover to be added to the Mary Janes I'm ready to start knitting). Little things for just your wrists not the IHS wristwarmers which are more like fingerless gloves. I also bought another skein of the Classic Elite Inca Print that I made my Irish Hiking Scarf out of. Along with my leftover yarn I should be able to make some fingerless mitts to match. I also lucked out in the sales bin and bought five skeins of chunky print Rowan in off white for a very decent price. All wool of course. I might try dying it. I will see what calls to me when the time to knit it comes.

I have been contacted by my Secret Pal who says she is looking forward to spoiling me. I'm ready. Anytime. The woman I am hoping to spoil has not yet responded but I do know she has a very busy life. My mind is thinking up clever things to make her smile.


Does anyone else still do this?
I am very fond of old graveyards and the symbols used on the headstones. They tell quite the story. This lichen covered gravestone is up behind Nevada City off of Red Dog. I am looking forward to spending a lot more time studying the graves there. I only had time for a brief look last week. If the subject interests you there is an excellent book, "Stories in Stone. A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography." The author is Douglas Keister.

A piece of my garden this morning catching just the edge of the waterfall on our small pond.


You're looking at Ilene, who works at MeadowFarm Yarn Studio, my favorite local yarn store. Not only is she incredibly nice and amazingly helpful we trade puppy training stories and tips. I love walking into MF and getting a good whiff of all that lovely wooly goodness. If I owned a yarn store I'd set up a cot now and again so I could sleep surrounded by such wonderful stuff. While my friend Elaine was visiting (and having a birthday - we ate a lot of chocolate cake while she was here) she worked on the Irish Hiking Scarf that I turned her on to and a sweater that is giving her some problems and taking a long time to finish up. I didn't get a picture of her sweater and the adorable sheep that is knitted on the bottom but I did get her scarf. Her yarn looks a lot like denim but feels very soft as wool is wont to do.My first IHS wrist warmer gave me a few problems when I lost count of my rows and had to frog half of it. The second one knitted up so fast my needles were smoking. I am pleased. And I haven't a clue as to what the yarn is other than wool. I used it to knit a dog sweater last winter. I had to frog part the sweater to have enough yarn to finish. Omar has lots of coats so he won't suffer. I have even swatched for a much simpler pair of wristwarmers using a free pattern from Interweave Knits.
Yea winter - come on, I'm ready!
I now have a Secret Pal and after taking a look at her blog I have no idea what to give her. She isn't going to be impressed with any of the things I had been considering (yarn, soaps, candles) so I will have to resort to being clever. I. Can. Do. Clever. (I think.)

And finally....
A New Dryer. It turned out that the cost of repairing our "old" dryer (5 years and ready for the nursing home) was almost as expensive as buying a new one. Finally, laundry service has now returned to the premises. (And through the door to the right is the most amazing pile of dirty laundry. Be thankful you can't see it.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

EPISODE TWO OF TRUE YARNS (my podcast) The blanket progresses though sometimes it gets a little difficult to actually reach it. Last night it was time to switch to longer needles. That said, the reality was that I spent a lot of time searching for longer needles. I finally found a pair of size 4's in bamboo. A little bent (a common problem I have with wooden needles) but usable - I thought. I quickly discovered that the tip of one was chewed and basically toast. In the early hours of the morning I finally had the bright thought that I last saw my metal set out in the RV. I think it's time to organize my stash and get a better way of storing my needles. I'm also getting an urge to cast on the wrist warmer pattern from the Irish Hiking Scarf knitalong and to get back to my sock knitting.

I've finally pulled Episode Two of TrueYarns so go take a listen. I talk about going to the Sebastopol Celtic Festival and I wrote a poem to the Yarn Harlot after she blogged about having a cold and being unable to get her gauge right on a sweater. There's some cool music too.A BELATED EYE CANDY FRIDAY
The Floozy is host to a female preying mantis. She'd really like to hook up with a nice guy who doesn't put up much of a fight.
Not really eye candy - I took Omar to the local park for a walk. I don't walk there much since I find it rather contained and get tired of all the signs telling me what I can't do and besides there are many, many more interesting and unstructured places to hike. There was a small faire going on which delighted Omar since he received lots of attention. No yarn for sale but there was a quilting booth.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Below is more information about me than most of you would ever want to know. Hey, count your blessings. I may at some point decide to do one of those "10,000 Things You Need to Know About ME!". Then you'll all be really sorry.

Before I drone on and on about myself here is a photo of the boot socks I knit a few months ago. Aren't they pretty? We've had an unseasonably early rain along with cool-ish weather which made the socks just right for the daily dog hike.

The Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Wool, wool, wool/cotton, cotton. I do not like synthetics.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
Right now, a jam jar or strewn across any horizontal surface. It’s a mess. I’m out of control. I have plans to make myself a needle holder sometime this winter. I have a lot of plans.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I’ve knitted on and off for over 30 years and am entirely self taught. Until the last few years I never really followed a pattern, learned about gauge etc. and consequently my results were less than perfect. I’d get frustrated and stop knitting for long periods of time. Over the last two to three years I’ve had more of a focus and a willingness to go take the time to really work out why something wasn’t turning out and fix it. I consider myself an advanced beginner to intermediate with touches of inspiration.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes. I'm very good friends with Amazon.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.).
All Things Floral and Fruity: Lavender, lemongrass (oh yes), sandalwood, cedar, rose, rose geranium, ginger, pear, lemon – you get me drift.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Oh, chocolate, of course. Also anything fruity especially lemon or lime.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I don’t spin anymore and have no real interest in taking it up. No, I am not the antichrist. I have a studio full of craft and art supplies.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD).
MP3’s are great. I’ve got a brand new podcast up and running (TrueYarns) on knitting and creativity. So, send me something and I’ll put it out there. My tastes are pretty eclectic. I really only dislike rap and country. Celtic. classical and Indie rock are favorites.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
They are all nice. I like teals and purples a lot and love really saturated and bright colors. Want to find me in a crowd? I’m the one in pink, orange and yellow with purple shorts. In a rainstorm? My rain jacket is bright orange. My umbrella(s) are deep pink.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I have three cats and a young dog. They’re family. I’m married with a lovely hubby but no children other than a grown stepson.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I have never had a poncho so that’s interesting. I have a huge number of scarves but would love fingerless mitts, mittens, wrist warmers (I have big wrists - 6.75"), a pretty hat or something to cover my ears when I go snow shoeing or cross country skiing.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Sweaters and socks. Followed by T-shirts/shell tops, fingerless mitts. I did several dog sweaters last winter.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Several pairs of socks for various friends, wrist warmers, fingerless mitts, a log cabin blanket. A couple of vests that I may some day actually finish (I’m so very close), and a sweater jacket. Oh and a person - just an odd project that has taken my fancy. I’m knitting large pieces, felting them and then sewing the pieces together.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
The best!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I like both straight and circular. I don’t like plastic much and am finding I like a really sharp point. I haven’t decided about metal needles yet. I have a problem with my bamboo needles warping so metal might be a good option if they aren’t too heavy.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes, thank goodness.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
That would be telling (and embarrassing). A long time but I never give up. Amazingly, I eventually do finish most things.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
This has me stumped. I can’t think of one that is extra special. I like silly, just for no reason, "let’s celebrate because it isn’t your birthday" types of things.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Flower seeds. I’m an avid gardener. Books with pretty pictures, sock patterns, knitting books.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I’m thinking of getting a subscription to Interweave Knits but haven’t yet. I have the Nancy Bush Vintage sock book and would love another one of her books. My knitting dictionary is very old, a paperback and falling apart (hint, hint).

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I’d like to work on my finishing. I am very weak on sewing things up in an attractive way. I’m also ready to try a toe up sock and a Turkish cast on. I am also wanting to try knitting with two circular needles rather than dpns.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Yes.
Length - 9.75"/24.5mm
Middle – 9.50"/24mm
Leg – 11"/28mm
Heel/Arch – 13.25"/34mm

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
July 11th.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Actually, I think it was only three attempts before I settled on a needle size and worked out the corner turning problems for my log cabin blanket. Okay, there are still a couple of small issues but I think it will all work out with the blocking. Blocking solves most problems. Right?

I am becoming very adept at picking up stitches. I find that going back and tightening/evening out the picked up stitches is giving me a better more even first row. The non Rowan yarn is working well and has given me a larger range of colors and there was no shrinkage when I blocked my first attempt.

Last night when I went to add one of the lighter colors of the non Rowan's the weight of the yarn seems completely off but in better light and after some decent sleep I could see that it was mostly an optical illusion. I don't think I will make a whole blanket but a throw for staying warm under during the long winter months. I'm thinking I can change from a square to a rectangle by adding panels on two ends and all will be well. This is my theory. Notice that the red is now at the center (the heart of the log cabin). Thank you Kimberly.

Thursday we headed up to Lassen Volcanic Park. Instead of going to the main section of the park we went to the southern end which is in the Warner Valley. We had a good time but neither of us found it to be as nice as the main park. No vistas, lots of dust and the forest looked very unhappy. There has been a huge problem with beetles killing the trees so that combined with a policy of no fires to clean out the dead trees and underbrush has left the area looking a bit like Mordor from Lord of the Rings. We hiked through a forest full of dead, dying or just plain sick looking trees. There is a cleanup program underway - there were areas that had been cleaned up and old wood arranged in piles for burning later in the season. I'm wondering if the park is planning on doing some prescribed burning at some point. The steam vents, mud pots and volcanic activity that were reached by hiking several miles were very interesting and worth the hike.
While we were gone the weather turned cold and we even had a light rain fall. Most unusual for this time of year. I went by the local fabric store an bought three pieces of a fine wale corduroy to make pants for this winter.

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