Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Today I ate at MacDonalds for the first time in my life. My.Soul Is.Lost. Personally, I thought there should have been balloons and a free meal to mark such a historic event. I have steadfastly refused to eat fast food since the mid 60's but it's a convenient and easy place to take my mother. Sigh. There will be lots more fast food in my future I fear.

On the bright side I wore my newest hat, Coronet, and received two compliments right off the bat. Smile. AND the compliment givers were young. Always a great sign.

I'd like to say that I am storming along on Storm but I'm not. The yarn continues to have these strange partially spun sections and the plastic needles are driving me crazy.

I popped into Ben Franklin's and bought a metal pair of size 17's. Once home I discovered that one needle has a badly corroded section so back I go to exchange them. It's been one of those days. I'm ready to start up two new batches of plum wine and I teaspoon of yeast nutrient. I went to the supply store (I was in the neighborhood) but they were closed. Closed!
Taking to heart the Enabler's claim that my dog would be riduculed by the other dogs (though why a red/pink/floral pattern dog coat would give anyone pause is beyond me) I sewed up a much more subdued dog coat. I'm still not that satisfied with the pattern so more tweaking is in order but at least my dog won't be snickered at behind his back by poodles.

I had a much nicer time at Fabrics on Mill St. where I picked up the knit top pattern we will be making in April at the the second Four Women of Design retreat. I bought the appropriate amount of a very lovely knit to make it up in. I love having treats scheduled. I will again spend the four days with Suzy the Enabler sewing up a storm and learning way cool techniques. It almost takes my mind off the fact that I am developing a very sore throat.

Yesterday was rain, sleet, and some very wet snow. Today there was some actual sunshine but the weather is turning darker. Ollie surveyed his domain from the safety inside the fence.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I've started knitting on Storm. Manhandling size 17 needles is a bit of a chore. It does knit up fast though. I've decided to enlarge the chart since I'm old and it's hard to see all those little spots through cat fur, dog tails and all the paraphernalia I keep around me.
Trying to photograph what you've done so far is....interesting. Today apparently is help your owner photograph her handknits day for all pets. FYI, I've gone and frogged what I've done and started over. I just didn't like the way my cast on looked.

I like the Rowan Big Wool. It's soft and springy though it's catching on my plastic needles a bit more than I like and... I've already come across a knot and two sections where the yarn puckers out - a result of uneven spinning and I'm only about a sixth of the way through my first skein. I'm doing the spit/finger rub felting routine but really, at $13.50 a skein, which was the cheapest I could find it on-line, is this something a knitter should have to do?

One of my Dahlia socks done in luscious Sundara sock yarn is done. I'm feeling like I'm getting the hang of the kitchener stitch though I like having the book open in front of me. I redid the heel twice before I liked the fit. Now for sock No. 2.

I wandered over to Ravelry sadly wondering when, if ever, I would be admitted and found a neato feature where you could check and see where you were in the process. Heck and Darn, I had been added Nov. 19th and it went right into my spam bucket. Their feature automatically resends your invitation and that too went into spam heaven but I was waiting and I am now having a lot of fun checking things out. I may actually fill out a profile at some point. I've done stranger things. Three people have knit Storm. Whoo Hoo!

I am trying out a new dog coat pattern. I made it up in a small and it fits fairly well across the back though it is about 2 to 3 inches too long and the chest straps (those red things poking out of the sides) will have to be moved up otherwise they will get peed on. Suzy The Enabler thinks Omar will feel too girly in this outfit and I have promised to make it up in manly blues and greys.

I am getting ready to finally bottle my latest batch of plum wine. Instead of using recycled bottles collected lovingly by my friends I bought two cases of some very pretty frosted ones that should show off the wonderful deep red color. I have a freezer full of plums, and we are talking a large floor unit here, waiting to be made up into yet another batch or two of wine.

The weather continues to be dark, cold, and overcast with rain every day sometimes with a light snow. Not much is happening in the garden so I drag out some of my older photos. A sunrise from years past and spring flowers in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. We caught it one spring when they were having a stunning wildflower display.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Having a girlfriend to knit with is a wondrous thing. I've not yet warmed up to any of the Stitch and Bitches I've attended. It's not that the people aren't nice but I seem to be more of a one on one sort of person. Meeting at Starbucks (though I am much more of a Peet's lover) with my friend Sharon has been a lot of fun and much knitting is done. She is closing in on the yarn she wants for knitting up Storm.

The Sheep Shop Yarn 2 that I ordered is rather nice stuff but alas, not right for the project. I found I was in much more of a Springtime mood and went ahead and ordered some teal Rowan Big Wool from my all time favorite on-line yarn source, The Yarn and Fiber Company. The pattern calls for 2 stitches per inch (thank you Sharon for the clarification) and I don't want to work on size 9's or smaller to get gauge with the SS2 when the pattern calls for size 17's. One of the reasons for doing this pattern is because it will WorkUPFast.
While organizing and sorting through yet more of my mother's belongings I came across this Uber cool vintage apron. It has no envelope and no company name. I mentioned this to Jenny at Fabrics on Mill St. and she thought it might have been from a sewing club. These were popular many years ago. I've been looking at vintage apron patterns for some time now and not quite finding anything that caught my fancy. This I like. If you sew and find yourself in Grass Valley, CA you will find that you have made it to Fabric Heaven. Not only fabric but incredible advice. I seriously love the place.

I finished another "Coronet" pretty much following the pattern except for the decreases. I opted for my favorite Barbara Walker spiral decrease. It looks good, feels good and is very warm. Sharon coached me through the kitchener sewing and if I wasn't calling out the steps out loud I am sure my lips were moving. I looked up to find two young girls of around 8 years of age solemnly watching me. They both had knitted hats and scarves. Young Knitters!!! Yea! On the other hand I have been struggling mightily with a pattern from 2006 Winter Interweave Knits for Cowgirl Socks. This pattern does not work for me. After the first repeat of the wave pattern I get four extra stitches and nowhere do they seem to go away. Then when I do the heel flap I don't get the 14 at the end of my short rows I get something like 8. AND when I do my pickups to start doing the foot I don't get 60 (even with starting at 44 which I had to make serious fudge with nuts to achieve) I get some mid 50 number. Hear my teeth and knitting needles grinding away. Grrrrrrrr.
I've finished one of the Dahlia socks and started up a second pair of felted boot slippers this time for the hubby. My toe up sock is feeling a little lonely and I walk by Claude many times a day as he sits dejectedly in his bowl upon the sideboard.
On a less stressful subject there has been some playing in the snow.

Kate came to visit (alas, no close-up photos) and we took her up to the mountains and set her upon snowshoes.

Omar test walked some little socks to protect his feet. More work is needed but they did help. He loves the snow and runs back and forth, digging , rolling and just plain having a good time. He doesn't think he looks silly at all.

There has been some lovely weather lately though we're now having rain and some light snow. One is always glad for the water. The view from my front porch one morning with fog down in the valley.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


There has been some downright interesting weather around California these last few days. Unlike over a million residents we've managed to keep from losing our electricity. We have a very nice generator wired into the house "just in case" but haven't had to use it. We did have three oak trees topple. All three came down around the same time and amazingly hit nothing of interest. It's always sad to lose trees. The wildlife use them so much and they can't be replaced within one's lifetime; they take too long to grow. We don't like to replant with pines though they are very pretty and grow rapidly. I like oaks. They don't use much water once their taproot is established and they make acorns which feed so many. Heck, I figure if we got desperate, say holed up during a pandemic, I'd be out collecting them myself. Hopefully, this will not come to pass. I like my lattes and other delights far too much.

I have been busy knitting away. I finished my felted boot slippers with mixed results. I, for some unknown reason, perhaps brain death, knitted them a size larger. One also escaped from the pillowcase I had put them in for felting. That one felted down fast and somewhat close to my foot size. The other one? I spent FOUR hours making multiple trips down to the washing machine carrying kettle after kettle full of hot water and resetting the machine. It finally felted close to the first one but they are both a bit big. With socks though they are perfectly wearable and I do like them a lot. I plan to knit myself another pair and duh, in my size. Hubby has expressed an interest so perhaps a manly pair done in browns and greys will be knit up sometime soon.

Sharon and I have started meeting "halfway" between our houses to spend a few hours each Sat. (when possible) knitting and I must say, It Is Very Nice and we're getting a heck of a lot of knitting accomplished. The ethereal Kim Hargreaves arrived in the mail and I've ordered my yarn. Sharon, who is in Ravelry, logged on and we found two people knitting "Storm". Sharon has expressed a desired to knit along with me which will be great fun. I'm hoping that another friend will also join us but that's more iffy. Feel free to join in! It should be a fast and fun knit. I'm eager for my Sheep Shop Yarn 2 to arrive so I can start swatching. I cut out a muslin this afternoon for a coat pattern and I'd like to get that done first. I also have my "to do" list that never seems to get shorter that my mother keeps adding to.

Sharon and her husband came over for New Year's Day. The men watched football and I assume moved now and again because the collection of dirty dishes in front of them changed. They would occasionally let out yells so I think things went well. Sharon and I holed up in my studio and knit. Sharon was a little cold but a quick pop into the hot tub helped cure that. She taught me the beginning of how to do toe up socks. I'm using a much heavier yarn, a superwash merino that was dyed locally. I think they will make good boot socks. I believe I am using size 2 dpn's. I declined the double circulars. It's just too much trouble with the cats pouncing on dangling ends. The magic loop cast-on seemed very complicated then things just clicked. I think I might like this a lot. I also made myself knit in the continental manner in the hopes I will eventually switch over entirely and stop my "throwing" ways. I've reknit the heel on the other pair of socks (done in a luscious Sundara yarn called "Dahlia) and finally worked out what I needed to have a snug heel. I think that my heels are "normal" but I do have rather wide feet. I spend most of my childhood barefoot. I tried the continental approach though I had done the cuff and leg throwing. My gauge was much looser so I frogged that back.

We took a look at another new book, Knitting Classic Style by Veronik Avery which didn't speak to me at all. I had mistaken it for another book so I am returning it to Amazon. It seemed like a nice book and I can't speak for how well the patterns are written. I just didn't thrill to any of the designs. Not every book is suitable to my tastes.

Speaking of mothers mine turned 84 today. She had requested a fruitcake with marzipan, she's from Wales after all, and I complied. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have a cake sitting around for a month and NOT eat it? It turned out very well and I sent large hunks of it home with her and my brother and S-I-L. Life has been very interesting and a bit crazed since my mother got wedged next to her bed for a few days. It started a series of events that have changed my life, and hers, in many ways. My oldest brother (I have four) has pointed out that I am now the parent and he's quite right. None of us have been very close to either my mother or to each other for most of our adult lives and this seems to have opened the flood gates. Frankly, at times I am pretty tired of it all but things are calming down and it feels right and good to me. My mother has shifted from confused and disoriented to being back to her feisty and sharp little self. She's finally adjusting to living in a facility with less autonomy (something that most people dread) but still very free with her opinions and very good at getting what she wants. It's been quite an interesting year. There was the ending of a very old friendship that took me by surprise. It had been ailing for a very long time but I had hoped that we could rebuild or somehow restructure. It had some glorious moments and some rather down times but it has always been so very precious to me. Other friendships have shifted as things in life tend to do and in one case started to rebloom in a most delightful way. I do love and appreciate my girlfriends.


In between storm fronts and around sunset there was some lovely light across the valley.

A totally gratuitous "Awwww" photo. I'm surprised they still have fur, they lick each other so much.

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