Friday, March 30, 2007


I did a swatch in some lovely Gem cashmere that my secret pal, bluey sent to me a while back. It's lovely, springy and amazingly soft. I adore the lilac color with flecks of blue. She kindly offered to buy up more for me (I can't find it on the web) but I think I can combine it with something else. Having her buy yarn in Singapore then mail it to me with all the hassle with customs seems like a lot of effort. One of the cats had been trying to have a deep conversation with a baby skink and I thought he looked like a good color combination (the skink that is, cats go with everything).

Claude still waits. I have company this weekend so I put him aside for no reason at all other than I've been wanting to cast on CookieA's herringbone sock pattern from It's my first try with two color knitting and it's going pretty well. I have no clue as to how the yarns are supposed to be held, I just do it my way. It's written to use two circular needles which I gave the old college try using and failed. It seems like a lot of effort where dpn's work just fine. All the dangling of the circulars keep enticing the cats to bat, chew and otherwise attempt to capture. This did not make for fast, easy or accurate knitting on my part. The colors are not all that accurate. The orange is actually a lovely slightly variegated red gold. Both yarns are Koigu. I'm even hitting gauge at 8 stitches per inch on size 2's.

Spring continues to unfold. It's warming up (again) during the daytime but still very cool at night (high 30's). This is a hanging basket waiting to go out. The fern loves the greenhouse. The blue/purple flowers (which are not part of the basket - I just put it there for artistic balance) are a plant called "lithodora" which sounds like one of those amazing new meds advertised on TV that are sure to solve whatever problem you think you have but later are shown to have some intriguing side effects.

We continue to have frogs, frog calls at night (and during the day), frog spawn in the pool and now, tadpoles!

The evening light looking east from my living room.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

COUNTRY LIVING Beautiful isn't it? Oak trees, green meadows, red tailed hawks flying overhead. I do like living out in the rural suburbs a lot. However we are currently without water. Hubby was working on getting our watering system up and running for the garden when he discovered a solenoid in the process of burning out. It was after 5 pm so he couldn't buy replacement parts until today. Then he decided he might as well upgrade the system. Water will return at some point. It's all part of living in a rather old house that wasn't that well maintained before we bought it. The RV gives us some respite, we're able to shower at least. We laugh a little grimly at times that the list of "to do" projects that we started six years ago is not only not shorter but has grown to multiple pages.
At least we weren't due at the vet's today for a check up and various tests for things like heartworm. Omar has his cringe down perfectly don't you think? Please, please! Don't beat me anymore!! Everyone was so nice to him and nothing other than a couple of immunizations and a small blood draw for the poor mistreated pup. We went for a long hike afterwards where he was able to prance in front of other dogs (safely behind fences) and several horses too. Now he's asleep in a sunny spot and feeling that life is maybe okay again.
I started back on Claude and have found a disagreement. The two front sections do not match. I've concluded that the right front (which is on the right) is the correct one. It will just be a bit of frogging. Nothing to shed tears over.

Postscript: We are again liquid. Laundry flows, dishes are washed and all is well in the ruburbs of Grass Valley.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

BUDDIES OF THE KNITTING KIND Girlfriends who knit are so cool. They perfectly understand that when you call them you immediatly launch into "I worked on the top down sweater but my gauge was off by half a stitch which threw the sizing off and..." on and on and on. They understand that it's important stuff. It seems normal to them and they probably wish you'd hurry up so they can start telling you about their knitting. Sometimes I can see hubby just looking at me. Is she okay? Has she lost her mind? Actually, I think he's pretty used to it by now. He no longer asks me the size of my stash and if I've actually finished anything.

Yesterday we finally has some much needed rain. It wailed, the wind blew, the trees swayed and so it was a perfect day to drive to Auburn and knit with my friend Sharon. First off, if I haven't mentioned it before Sharon and I go waaayyyy back. We went to college together. She moved not so long ago to Auburn from Dublin and does what I consider a frightful commute two days a week to Berkeley. Thankfully, the other three days she works from home. I'm the sort of person who considers the 30 to 40 minute drive to her house to be incredibly long so the thought of spending hours on a train, even when you can knit, seems rather appalling. I am "stay at home a whole lot" sort of retiree. Even when I worked full time I loved to stay put when I had free time. (I didn't all that much but that's another story.)

Sharon had fun showing me her latest projects. She gets a lot done but I still love her. She said her socks were too big but compared to what Valerie has posted she at least can't turn them into hats. She also showed off her first lace project (what a great color and it was fun to hear her muttering when she referred to the chart - hehehehe). She is also in love with Knitpicks yarn samples. They are gorgeous aren't they?

Sharon did a piece for me on attending Stitches West this year that I played on my latest podcast Trueyarns. She also copied me a pattern from the knit magazine you see below. I noticed the last time I went shopping that there was all of one knitting magazine being offered for sale. Quilters had four to choose from. Humph!

I like this shell a lot. I like tunics worn over light tops. I will put it in my queue for possible future projects. Right now I'm on a tear to actually finish things up. Claude is so darn close to being done. I made the mistake of laying out the pieces on the dining room table and the cats pounced. I couldn't get to it until the next day when they were all out and about harassing the local rodent population. I found lots of fur tuffs and several places where the cotton angora had been stressed by claws. Things tugged back just fine. Whew.

While in Phoenix I bought myself a "Embelish-Knit" to make icord with. My first try wasn't a 100% successful so Sharon gave me a tutorial. This will become the shoulder strap for the felted purse I'm working on.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The garden seems to be taking up most of my free time but there has been a little bit happening on the crafty side of my life. I made a very basic and boring pillowcase for a new body pillow. Some time soon I'll make a prettier one out of a big piece of purple silk that I've had around for six years. It's ever so soft. Right now though, I need something to protect the pillow. It's so boring I'll spare you a photograph. I've partially sewn up my felted bag. It has "potential". It's also a bit larger than I had originally envisioned it. I think it will look better with a striped strip along the top (with the stripes going at 180 degrees).
My silky wool from Elsebeth Lavold (bought from the Yarn and Fiber Company- fast, good selection, mailed within the day and FREE SHIPPING). I'm planning on making one of her Viking designs (a shell from book one). It's a project that I'll be doing with my girlfriend Sabrina. I think the pattern will suit her more than I, the design will sit right across my proud belly. Sabrina's belly is probably quite proud but it's also a lot smaller. I'm considering putting the design across my shoulders in the back. Stay tuned. I've knitted a small swatch and the stuff is lovely. It's a good color for me, it drapes well and has a nice nubby texture without any bulk.
I bought a couple of plants at the grocery store this afternoon and Ollie thought he would check them out.

We originally had three brothers from the same litter of cats. That's Ozzie on top. He loved sinks and high places. I think that Ollie is on the bottom. It could be Opie. Rest assured: it's a cat with a name that starts with the letter "O". Ozzie had a tumor and died about three years ago. In his honor (and over his body) I planted a forsythia bush. It bursts into bloom every spring with intensely yellow flowers. Ozzie had the most amazing golden eyes. The forsythia should eventually reach 7 feet.
My lilac bush has flowers this year for the very first time. I'd rather given up hope. It green, grows larger every year and looks very healthy but it has never bloomed. It's supposed to be a pale yellow but looks it looks pretty white to me. No fragrance either. Bummer, the best part about lilacs is their smell. Still, it's flowering!

The redbud has come into its own. We are not worthy. It is Spring.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Things are starting to poke their heads out of the dead foliage of last season. So many things died in the long freeze we had. I've been hoping that a little green would appear but I've given up on a lot of things. So, out with the old and dead, in with the new and green. Thankfully, this hardy geranium survived. In a month or so it will be a mass of greenery dotted with blue flowers. After much searching of six years of flower photographs I was unable to find a close-up of the plant in bloom but I can show you what it looks like peeking out in the background and I found a photo of what the garden looked like before we did a massive overhaul. It's still nowhere near the garden I hold in my mind but it has its moments.Last year.Spring 2002 before we took the tractor and backhoe to it. The peonies currently look like this.Soon they will look like this.

And a few new plants waiting to be planted. I've also started up some seedlings but there is still so much more to do.

I have felted the piece I hope to use for a small purse. The green yarn which is di.vo merino felted like a dream. The orange Rowan Scottish tweed much less so. I used some Jamison wool (the purple - mixed in where I switched yarns) with the Rowan which seemed to felt pretty well. Over the weekend I fiddled around with some Rowan Cashsoft using the checkerboard shell pattern. I thought the dark olive green not summery enough so have ordered on-line a lovely orange. I also kept losing count because Clint is very distracting. Claude is sulking so I had better get back to it soon. I also played around with the punch needle embroidery. It's a bit more tricky than I had supposed and I think I might go for a heavier backing fabric but it has potential.

Hubby went down to Death Valley to ride his motorcycle with friends. He came home tanned, dusty and with a swollen ankle. I have him propped up on the couch with cats, dog and the remote control. Advil will be administered as needed. I'd like him to see a doctor but he's too big to toss over my shoulder and he wiggles so much. While he was away Kate came up to visit. Omar loves Kate. Omar loves Kate so much I was starting to have a bit of a problem with it. But I am fine - really. We had a great time eating and watching movies. Kate was a bit amazed at how loud the frogs were. I did a web search and the frogs are Pacific tree frogs. I also discovered frog spawn in the pool. I guess we won't be swimming anytime soon (not that we had planned to). I went out one night with my mixer, microphone and laptop and recorded the frogs. I'm hoping to get a podcast done within a day or two and use the recording.

Friday, March 16, 2007

SPRING HAS SPRUNG And how can I tell you ask? The temperature is now consistently in the 70's. I'm wearing shorts, the door and windows are open and the cats are shedding. It is tempting to save the hair that I comb, seemingly non-stop, and see about spinning it but I don't spin anymore and there is always More Cat Hair regardless of the season though not usually so much. Oh and frogs, we have frogs out looking for love. They are quite loud about it. I keep hoping they'll get lucky (they seem to be all males) and just Shut Up for a bit.

That's a Valerie candle in the background. One part of a lovely Christmas present. I'm still thinking Valerie about ways to Pay.You.Back.

It's seemed a perfect shame to have to spend yesterday, an absolutely gorgeous afternoon, at the dentist's but it had to be done. They were fast, efficient and very, very nice but it was still a visit to the dentist.

I am proud to say that we have finally gone solar in a very small way (not proud of the small way but just glad that we've got off the grid in any way shape or form). We now have a small light in the pole barn and a way to trickle charge the many pieces of machinery we need to maintain the acreage and the things used for pleasure such as the dual sport bikes.
Some knitting has occurred. I've finished the piece I want to make a bag out of and have felted it. As I suspected different yarns felt differently. I'm going to attack it with a steam iron to see if I can even it out a bit. Kate is coming this weekend (hubby is riding his motorcycle in Death Valley) and I will get back to Claude while watching lots of movies. We may or may not get out of our pj's for more than a couple of hours a day. Then again...


A while back my friend Suzy (she who is visited in Phoenix) made up a collection of bags and emailed me photos. Much drooling ensued on my part. It paid off. One of them is Now Mine. Na na na na na!

Shadows on a wall in my living room.

Shadows on snow at South Lake Tahoe.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

SEWING My friend Suzy has been telling me about the American Sewing Guild and how she thought I would enjoy being a member. Suzy taught me how to sew years ago and over the telephone at that. She is Very Clever. I am less so but she was very patient. I joined but didn't go to the local chapter meetings till three months ago. I'm finding the group to be a lot of fun and am seeing some very nice sewn items. One of the things we do is community service. This year we're making pj's for the children at the Shriner's Hospital. I'm lusting after the duckie fabric and the flowered one too. Perhaps there will be a few scraps leftover for me to squirrel away for a personal project. Tuesday we traced patterns for the pj's and much fun was had by all.
My friend Sabrina has suggested that we find a pattern that we both like and knit it for ourselves. Since we are of vastly different body types this has been a bit of a challenge. We also limited ourselves to something by Elsebeth Lavold. We narrowed it down to three patterns and have decided that this nifty top would suit us both though I might move the design up over my chest instead of being worn proudly across my ample belly. I already have some EL silky wool in rosehip that I had bought for my red sweater project but am leaning towards a more summery color - something pale and cool. I'm spending a lot of time on eBay lately trying to decide. EBay can be deadly - there is a lot of wonderful yarn for sale. I'm not usually a big fan of buying yarn that I haven't touched and sniffed but I am being tempted, very tempted.

Monday, March 12, 2007

What on earth is going on? It's March 12th and it's 79F outside. Good thing I'm on a tear making summer pants. I am going to need them. The annual ordeal of getting our irrigation system up and running has begun. Things are dry, and needing Water.Now. On the knitting front I am feeling less than energetic so I'm fiddling around with making a purse. I will felt this and see how it turns out. If I like it I will sew up the sides, line it, put on a strap, and insert a zipper.

Heather has warned me that the punchneedle will become addictive. I can see that. They have a very seductive quality - textile-ly with a feeling of stained glass. I.Can't.Stop.Myself - I wish. If I ever get the fruit trees pruned and other garden must-do's I might actually get to try out the technique. I have too much to do!
One of the traditions of going over to Phoenix is coming back home with grapefruit. Lots and lots of grapefruit. This is just a small sample for artistic balance in the photograph. It's all organic too so I blanch the peels and then make candied grapefruit rind. I am juicing the fruit as I go along and freezing it to be used as needed.

K. I have a very dear friend named K. She was my landlady/housemate for almost 10 years before my marriage 5 years ago and it turned out to be one of those wonderful things that life throws at you now and again. In other places and circumstances we would have never become friends. Different ages, different backgrounds, separate social circles, both rather private people. Unfortunately, life has also thrown K. a very fast hardball in the guise of cancer. She is gracious and upbeat and has fought the good fight for years now. She was kind enough to let me take a series of photographs of her at the end of one round of chemotherapy a few years back and from those I painted this picture. K. lives about 3 to 4 hours away and I don't get to see her as much as I would like and she doesn't very often come up this way but this weekend the planets aligned and she spent the afternoon and night with us. I realized that she had never actually seen her portrait and this was a great opportunity to get the two of them in one photo.


I've had several comments about the cat pile in the RV so I'm tossing in another one for fun. Otis is a very determined little cat (who isn't so little anymore).

Friday, March 09, 2007

JUST A SIMPLE SWEATERThat's all it was going to be. Something easy, fast, something to do while traveling around in the RV. After all, I'd admired the knitted sample in the shop and I'd been mooning over the Rowan Scottish Tweed for ages and ages. They would be purrfect but somehow they just aren't working for me. With spring about to sproing I've turned my thought to lighter fare such as this shell. I saw it modeled by Wendy at Wendy Knits and it looks like a good style for me.
And Claude is waiting for me quietly piled high on the sideboard.


I have a moratorium on starting new crafts. I figure I can be creative with the many things I already own. Still, I had to bend my rule for this. It's fast and the samples were gorgeous. I'm hoping I can use it along with something knitted as an accent on say a simple knitted bag.
Joann's was having a 40% off sale on all crochet hooks and knitting needles. Being a member of the American Sewing Guild gives you another 10% (and my thanks to Suzy for having her card with her). You can never have enough hooks and needles.After frogging about on the sweater I took a break and tried to knit a hat from the Green Mountain Spinnery book. I copied the relevant pages but not the photo so when I became delusional I had nothing to guide me. My attempt is on the left (duh). The actual hat is on the right. I've never tried a hat before. I will probably try again...someday.
Phoenix is a great place to buy cotton yarn.

I bought more fabric for summer pants.


Omar and Otis snoozing in the RV.
Spring is nearby. The redbud is about to burst into bloom.

The first rhododendron is ahead of the game. The peach trees are bringing up the rear. (The apples and cherry trees will be in a few weeks.)
The plum trees are also in bloom. We like plums.

Some of the daffodils opened while we were gone.
Sorry for the weird fonts and sizes. After three attempts I really have better things to do than wrestle with blogger.

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