Friday, December 29, 2006

EYE CANDY FRIDAY What the side yard looked like outside my studio window last week at dusk. I can't remember if I posted this before but I think not. Sometimes the fog comes up and the clouds come down and things go all misty. When storms are coming down the valley we can watch them whoosh up our hill.
Sunset at Lake Powell, Arizona. If you've never been - go. It's beyond gorgeous. Now that the lake level has dropped there are many Indian ruins that haven't been seen in a very long time. The tour of the dam is very good even with the required armed guard trailing behind. (What an interesting age we live in.)
When I visit Kate in the bay area we often go over to Colma to look at the tombstones. This one is one of my favorites done up in the Egyptian manner. If you have to go into the ground this is a nice covering.

I was the winner of one of the Red Letter Day prizes at the Red Sweater KAL. Absolutely gorgeous stuff. Two skeins of rare essentials "cocoon cherry" alpalca/silk/mohair/superfine merino (be still my beating heart) and one skein of Jo Sharp's aran cotton in "mareschino". The prize came all the way from Australia. The reds are just luscious. I am one lucky dude-ette.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

It is a good thing that Kate and I don't live together. First off: we would never get out of our jammies. Okay, maybe Kate would have to when she goes to work. Me? I'm retired. Second, we would get very, very fat. Third, we'd live on the couch eating, crocheting and knitting while watching movies. There was something bad back there I was going to make a point about but I've run out of cookies...
We did actually get off the couch now and again (and not just to make more cookies). We walked Omar. He helped Kate crochet. She couldn't do it without him, really. We went to Fibers in Grass Valley where with amazing luck Kate found the four skeins of Classic Elite Alpaca she needed to make a hat to match the Irish Hiking Scarf and fingerless mitts that I made her a while back.
I finished the Mary Janes for my friend Kimberly using some of my mother's acrylic stash. The photo below only shows a fraction of the stash. I don't really like working with acrylic but it does have it uses. The pattern is very easy despite not being entirely clear at times. It's not hard to deduce what needs to be done with a minimum of frogging.
I've pulled out my Manos del Uruguay sweater jacket and have been finishing up the last of the right front. I think the buttonholes are a bit lame - just holes with no band to support them. When Kate came to visit I put it aside and cast on The Somewhat Cowl from Knit and Tonic using some magnificent Sundara yarn in the colorway "Envy". It's a DK silky merino that is so soft, so delightfully tactile. Sundara said to be sure to wash your swatch since the yarn tends to expand and it did. I think I did seven swatches before I was happy (ish) and hit gauge. I'm using size 3's instead of the size 5 the pattern called for. I am also just a little short on yardage so I'll have to hope things works out. The pattern is well written and except for totally not processing the At.The Same.Time. instruction and having to frog back a couple of inches all seems to be going well.

I don't usually buy yarn over the internet but I've taken a chance on some Elsebeth Lavold wool/silk in a lovely red that I am hoping will be perfect for my Red Sweater KAL project.

Friday, December 22, 2006


On our way out the door to Calistoga a large box was delivered from Valerie. I was stunned. I opened it and found a box of wondrous items. (Okay, once I knew it was from Valerie I knew I was in for a treat - she's just like that.) I now have all three of the Vogue Knitting Stitchionaries - this last one on cables completes my set. (I must have 12 major knitting projects in my head using cables, multicolors and a host of intricate details that will be gleaned from these books.) I am overwhelmed that someone I've never met (though I consider her a dear cyber friend) would go to the time and expense during this busy holiday season and send me thoughtful gifties. Valerie how could I possibly get those wonderful flowered gardening gloves DIRTY!?! They are far too pretty to use. Thank you so much! (I will get you for this, some day when you're not looking.)On the drive to Calistoga, a place we go to every winter to meet up with good friends, I knitted a Mary Jane slipper. I used Autunno merino on size 9's. The pattern was bought by my friend Kimberly back when we were at the Sebastopol Celtic Festival with my promise I would make her a pair. I found the pattern to be a little confusing but I prevailed. The slipper is too big for her much smaller feet and I decided that something machine washable was more appropriate. I have a huge stash of acrylic yarns inherited from my mother's stash. I'm about 2/3rd's of the way though my next attempt and I'll say it now and I'll say it LOUD - I don't like working with acrylic. It just feels like shit but she'll be able to just toss them in the washer and dryer. Okay, moving on. One of the things we do every year in Calistoga is to take a longish to Bataan Death March length hike. This year it was a merely longish 7 miles through the lush greenery of Bothe State Park.
We went up, up and up. Then across and then down (with bits of up). It was so cold for the first half of the hike that ice was still on the ground in places. I submit the forest photos as my EYE CANDY offerings for this Friday.
One of major attractions of coming to Calistoga is bathing in three hot pools at the spa we stay at. Each one is hotter than the next. I love the hot pools.
Before going out in the evenings to dinner we would meet up, drink some wine and nosh. Katrina was knitting the second of a pair of mittens. I worked on my Mary Janes. The guys just sat. How can they stand to do that? On the way home I experimented with learning how to do a Brioche stitch that was in the Interweave magazine that Bookish Wendy sent me. So far: Brioche stitch - 3. EE - 0. Stay tuned though. I'm tenacious.

Monday, December 18, 2006

by Kate
(For you sleepy heads out there here is what Viggo looked like between the sheets this morning. Okay, not really but I do have a very active imagination. Earin)

Stalag 17:


1. How nice to be the Commandant of a prison camp. You have people to lay planks down in the mud so your boots don't get dirty.

2. Peter Graves always had an impressive head of hair.

3. Is it required to put your boots on before you speak to your superiors on the telephone? I thought my job was tough. I wouldn't last a day.

4. I would be very concerned if my bunk mate was a man named "Animal".

5. How drunk do you have to be to confuse Betty Grable with a little Italian guy with straw in his hat?

6. ***KNITTING CONTENT*** One of the prisoners receives a letter from his wife stating she has found a baby on their doorstep and decided to raise it as their own. Question: How long has this guy been behind the wire that he a) believes this story; b) doesn't wonder how his wife got pregnant? Hmm. Later, during the Christmas party, this same man is seen knitting, presumably a baby item. It takes a very secure man to openly knit in a roomful of men in a prison camp, I think.

7. William Holden was quite the man in his day. Never saw a guy wear a bomber jacket so well.

8. Or a stupid Swiss yodeling hat.

9. Never look a gift truck full of ping-pong balls in the mouth.

Bonus Review

This review is very short, mainly because this movie is so well made that it is difficult for me to find things to make fun of. However, I will give it a try.

1. ***CROCHET CONTENT*** For you hookers out there! When Melanie and the other ladies are sitting waiting for their men to return after the "political meeting", Melanie is crocheting. Later, when Scarlett goes to town in her green velvet curtain dress, Mammy has a lovely granny square shawl. (I suspect this was originally a blanket, but it is still nice.)

2. Why is Scarlett mooning about after Ashley Wilkes when she could have Rhett Butler??? I am sure that Leslie Howard was a very nice man, and it is very tragic he was shot down in the war and all, but we are talking about Clark Gable, here.

3. I need to try the "Do you mind if I put my hand in your pocket?" line. That was smooth.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

ON HIGH As my friend Suzy says, "Red-headed cats are just different." Otis certainly is. All our other cats came to understand quickly that the words "It's night time, time to come in and be safe." meant that I scooped them up and brought them inside before dusk. Otis just has to do it his own way so I spend a fair amount of time literally herding him towards the house and into the door. Hey little cat, there are coyotes who consider critters like you to be comfort food.
In between bouts of cat herding I finished up Episode 5 of my podcast, Trueyarns. Things were a little slow because I discovered that I had lost most of my recorded segments. Oh well. Once again please. With Feeling. While waiting for the file to upload I worked on organizing my stash by taping yarn wrappers and a sample of the yarn onto heavy sheets of 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper and putting them in a three ring binder. Every little bit counts.
That it pays to comment (and read other blogs) is shown in this photograph. Bookish Wendy offered up some duplicate Interweave magazines. I asked for and received the Spring of 2005. Thank you Wendy! She is preggers and looking DIVINE.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Never, ever make blogging decisions when you really have to pee. Navigate away from page? Oh yeah, sure. No, wait!!!! Too late. So, where was I. Ah, socks. I haven't been that happy with the socks I knitted last summer (we know that many of the more experienced knitters have since churned out pair after pair, I have only this one completed pair). They've always been too loose, the spaces between the stitches too open. I had no idea if the wool was superwash but after a few handwashings I took up my courage and tossed them in with a load of warm/cold laundry. They felted. Well, duh. I expected that. They became smaller. I also expected that. They fit beautifully. That took me by surprise. Two nights ago a truck came up our driveway. We live in the country, we have a long driveway, this is unusual. It was Mr. UPS man working late during the holiday season. My friend John had sent me a HUGE box of knitting books along with next month's book for the Knit the Classics book club. He even included a book (non-knitting, of course) for hubby. There's nothing like new knitting books to get you dancing around the kitchen.

The rest of my afternoon will be trying to pull Episode 5 together for my podcast, Trueyarns. Usually I do the whole thing in an afternoon (music is selected over time as I knit). This episode has been broken up by real time events. I feel like I'm trying to swim upstream and spawn. Ewwww.

Moss on a rotting stump. It was really pretty.
The Four Season Garden at Red Butte Botanical Gardens in Salt Lake City. This is one of the more beautiful gardens I have ever seen. As you can gather from the name it's designed to have interest during all four seasons of the year. As a gardener I can tell you that this is no mean feat. At the time we visited they had a sculpture show of the Chapungu. These were stunning and powerful sculptures by both men and women. The show was supposed to be at a major museum back east but there was a scheduling conflict so it was sent to the gardens for a short time. We were supposed to be meeting friends in Colorado but our RV was having problems so we had to spend a week in SLC for repairs. Things work out sometimes.

One of my cherry trees about to lose its leaves. A bit of a newly painted house in the background.

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDSThe Christmas season has shifted from pleasant and nice to knowing that some of my friends are troubled or have had recent tragedies. One friend is having a major life meltdown, another has found that her cancer has returned quickly after her last round of chemo. One is having life issues that keep him from being happy and very, very sadly one had her dog die in her arms unexpectedly. Not to be a downer with this blog entry but life often times throws us curve balls that we watch come right across the plate and hit us right between the eyes.

On the knitting front life continues apace for me. After a long time of doing absolutely nothing on my knitted person I am taking ends of skeins and knitting them up. I will felt them and add to my pile. At some point I will figure out how to cut them up and stitch my person into creation. I admit it out loud, I have no grand plan, not a whiff of a clue. Stay tuned.

I have managed to lose the second half of this entry so read on for part two.

Monday, December 11, 2006

REMAINS OF THE DAY Along with attempting to put a zipper into a knitted dog sweater I've been making a custom pattern for a fleece coat for Omar. I made a few last winter but wasn't that happy with them. I measured, I fitted, I adjusted till I was happy then I cut the pattern out of heavy paper. Thankfully I cut the muslin out before a certain red headed cat ate the pattern. He's been on a tear - literally. Magazines, book edges, knitting (when he can get it), pointy sticks. He even chewed the top of my Renu eyedrop bottle. Yesterday I found him up on the kitchen counter shredding the paper towels. He's even learned how to open the cupboard in the bathroom and shred the extra rolls of tp. A devil most beloved but I hope he gets over this stage soon.
Omar was feeling cold this morning so he went back to bed. This is how I found him. All together now.... Ahhhhhhhh. Work it Omar, work it.
Both mitts are finished and all ends woven in. Now to pop them in an envelope and mail to my friend Lynda.
Sat. it was pouring with rain. Instead of going for a hike (good call) my friend Sharon, who has just bought a house in Auburn with her husband said, how about if you come out for lunch and we'll go to the local yarn store? When I arrived the new home owners were busy working on their house. That's Jaya on the left. Notice the hand knit slippers. Sharon's mother made them. Too cool. The yarn store was lovely. I forgot my camera so no photos. The shop is called Auburn Needleworks and was quite lovely. At first I was a little surprised at how much Cascade yarn they carried. I learned that felting is HUGE in Auburn. I fondled my first bamboo yarn and again gave a thought of working with linen yarn. I fell in love with the silk ribbon yarn. At around a dollar an ounce I had to give it a pass.

On my way home trundling down Hwy 49 I heard an ominous clunck then a whacka, whacka, whacka. Then my car overheated and the power steering died. I was fortunate to be very close to a shopping center where I was able to limp into spewing steam and call AAA. They were nice, they were fast, and all in all it took only an extra hour of my time. Time which I spent knitting. Hubby was off in Nevada riding his dual sport bike through rain and snow (it's a male thing). I had Big Red towed home where a look under the hood showed two belts to be missing. We're waiting right now for the tow truck to come back and take BR down to the repair shop. I miss her already.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Today is a gray day a bit like the photos show. The photos were taken a few years ago. Fall sliding into winter in northern California. It should start raining by this evening. Our house seems to be in the middle of clouds sliding over the mountains from the east and ground fog from the central valley to the west. The sky is milky white and rather odd. I'm hoping for lots of snow up in the mountains. I'm itching to go skiing or snowshoeing.
I found this rather interesting twisted tree alongside the trail this morning while walking Omar. It's a new trail, part of the Empire Mine. (Sidebar: the website for EM shows an animated mule pulling a wagon full of gold. The gold was actually bound to granite and had to be crushed but mules, well, they wrapped them up and brought them down the mineshaft. Once down the mule never saw the light of day again.) It's a pretty trail but unfortunately it runs alongside the always busy 174 so you get lovely woods with truck noises. Not a great combination
I'm down to the last few rows on rib and cable mitt no. 2. I keep working on other things such as pinning the zipper into the oversized dog coat and making a muslin for a new fleece dog coat. I took the mitt with me to knitnight at Meadow Farm Yarns on Wed. It was my first time and it was so much fun! Something I certainly will be doing again. Interestingly no one there had a blog or seemed interested in blogging or podcasting. Speaking of pcasts. I'm overdue and will be getting my act together soon. Honest.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


My Secret Pal, Bluey-Bluey, sent me a wonderful package all the way from Singapore. It showed up in my mailbox yesterday. Two skeins of the most amazingly colored fuchsia yarn. I've already done a swatch with it and am dreaming of what would be the perfect project. I love bright colors. Along with the wool there is a skein of the finest cotton I've even seen in a lovely blue. I'm a little intimidated by working with something so delicate. Can something lacy be in my knitting future? Anyone have any experience and/or suggestions?There was some nice candy (the chocolate was history within about 15 minutes), the cutest little Christmas stocking, some scented sachets, my very first Christmas card (can it really be coming up so soon!?!) and the most beautifully embroidered band with my name on it! Being a person who adores getting and opening presents I had a great time unwrapping all the individual things. Hubby was so intrigued by my receiving something from so far away that he stood and watched me open it. Thank you so much SP friend!
The other good news is that the house is done. Done as in the painters have done their part, the house was unwrapped late in the afternoon (whew) and I can now look at the view out the window again. It was very odd living in a house where you couldn't see out the windows. They did a fantastic job and even bussed their trash.
I'm seeing more moths than I like (1 = too many) so maybe the cedar blocks aren't working well enough. Out with the lavender scented mothballs. I don't seem to smell a lot of lavender but my eyes are watering. Does that mean they're working?

Monday, December 04, 2006


I overslept this morning making me late for my haircut appt. It turned out to not be a big deal. I seemed to be the only game in town and no one was waiting impatiently when I arrived or after I was done. I wondered if starting the day off in such a way bode ill but after popping into the fabric store and getting an 18" zipper for my dog sweater project I headed home. Just before I pulled into our driveway I saw a glorious sight: one of our nesting red tailed hawks sitting on top of a snag down at the pond. I have been remiss and haven't posted the buttons for either the Red Sweater KAL or Knit the Classics. I wanted to make up my own button, which I have done. I spend a considerable amount of time last night trying to get the red sweater button to do what I wanted. I seemed to have two options: either tiny and next to another button or HUGE and at the bottom of my blog. I'm still working on figuring out what is going on here.
The dickie/neck tube for hubby was finished a few days ago. It's a no pattern tube of four by four ribbing that I increased about half way up by adding one extra per knit, then one extra per purl for a couple of times. I wish I had one more skein of the di.vo Autunno merino to make it a little longer. Still, hubby isn't a very long necked guy and he says it is fine. The second rib and cable mitt is going very fast though I found a dropped stitch last night that likely means that I will have to frog back a bit. Picking it up gave so-so results.

Resisting the urge to cast on anything new - after all I'm holding off on starting my red sweater till Jan. I found a pair of two color herringbone socks at in the current issue that I think will be a great way for me to start my immersion into color knitting. Next year, of course. I feel determined to get most of my UFO's off my needles.

Friday, December 01, 2006

EYE CANDY FRIDAY Sherman and I had to go to the Way Back Machine* for these photos which were taken at Moab four years ago.

Ollie, my sliver cat is still a kitten at heart and unable to pass up a basket. He slept across my neck every night for the first eight months of his life. Towards the end my chiropractor was wondering why my neck was always out of alignment. He still likes to cuddle but only one on one.
Tagetes lemonii - a very smelly plant that produces hoards of lovely daisy like flowers, requires no care and literally no water.

*From "Fractured Fairytales" a staple of my youth.


Or at least it seems like it. The painters have cocooned our house. The windows and most of the doors are swathed in plastic that seems to breath in and out with the house. It's particularly spooky late at night when you're out with the pup waiting for him to finish up so you can all go to bed. During the day the painters loom up, diffused and distorted as a combination of hissing and squirting noises along with laughter and rock and roll seeps in. Yesterday also had a fair amount of thumping. I haven't been able to get a good photo of what it's like to be sitting inside knitting. Things are just too strongly backlit. It feels a bit like a) living underwater, b) what I imagine it would be like as a squatter but with heat and satellite TV c) being behind the plastic barrier waiting for the aliens to come in and start the testing. Muldar? Is that you? I'm sure there is a good scientific explanation for all of this....That said, the painting is going very well. We still like and agree on the colors we chose and the painters are doing a fantastic job. I have finally finished one of the rib and cable mitts. I feel like I've knitted it three or four time with the amount of frogging I ended up doing. I found that when I went to do the end colors, just three rows then binding off things were just too tight so that had to be frogged and reknit on needles two sizes larger. Worked for me. The new skein of yarn flew through the mails and arrived in my mailbox the day after I called. Now that is pretty darn fast. I have high hopes that the second mitt will just fly off my needles and I can put this project into the FO side of my life. The wristlets I made for Lynda ended up being HUGE on her. I guess they were meant for me. I tried then on the outside of my shirt today and liked the results just fine.
I sewed up a very simple vest for my mother out of fleece. I think I get my love of bright colors from her. We don't like to get lost in the dark.

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