Sunday, November 30, 2008


As I write this last post of NaBloPoMo, I am looking back on what I've written each day. I saw a question on one of the forums I read on Ravelry asking if people had written something meaningful each day, or just taken up Internet space. I think I've done some of both.

My blog was begun for me to document my knitting, display photos, and commemorate family gatherings, events, and milestones. I think I've succeeded in doing that. I don't aim for insightful social commentary and I like to keep my entries light and short for the most part. I use the blog as a journal, diary, and scrapbook and a place to share with my family and friends.

So in posting every day during the month of November, I've taxed my little brain a bit to come up with daily ideas and I've accomplished a couple of things. I learned how to spin (sort of), I finished a big project (my Kauni sweater) and I've documented the autumn changes in the garden and commemorated a couple of family events. All in all, I'm pleased with the monthly exercise and, although I won't continue to post every day, hope to do so more often than I did in the past.

DH had an idea to perk up our Thanksgiving gathering with a little singalong. Now we don't usually do this, and some people grumbled and some looked askance, but he passed out lyric sheets and put the song on the CD player. Everyone laughed, listened, sang along and smiled when it was over. The song was "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by Eric Idle from Monty Python's Life of Brian. In these troubled times, the message is even more appreciated, and the catchy music can make you whistle the rest of the day. (Caution: If you don't appreciate Monty Python or seeing several dozen men hanging on crucifixes, skip the link to this YouTube video.)

A couple of verses:

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

I will now go back to my determined attempts at spinning on the drop spindle, and wish you all a happy December. See you soon.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kauni Completed

At last! I started this sweater last January, put it down for the summer, and decided to complete it for NaKniSweMo. I finished a few days ago, but had to wait for someone to help me take photos.

Pattern: Kauni Rainbow Cardigan by Ruth Sorensen
Yarn: Kauni Effektgarn 8/2, Rainbow
Needles: US 4 and 5, circular

I had quite a bit of extra yarn, so I was able to pull off sections until I got the sleeves to match pretty well. I was also able to decide on the colors for the button band and search through until I got to a blue and a purple section.

Here's a button:

Photos are courtesy of The Princess.

America's next top model? I don't think it will be me.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Generosity of Friends

Today I received a package in the mail. That's not totally unusual, but this was something I didn't buy for myself. I had arranged to swap sock yarn scraps with my friend Goatlady (her Ravelry name) and she said she'd include some fiber, since she had a lot and I'm trying to learn to spin.

This is what came:

A box STUFFED with goodies! Lots of Cormo wool in a beautiful natural shade for me to use to perfect my technique. That will take awhile! Then there are beautiful braids of Interlacements fiber and a lovely, soft piece of cashmere to pet. I'd be afraid to try to spin it. Maybe someday.

The plastic bag is full of little sock yarn balls for my blankie. (Scroll down and you'll see the beginnings of it.) I haven't counted them, but there are a lot! And many of them look big enough to make more than one square, so I can trade them later with other people. I can't say enough how much I appreciate all this fibery goodness.

I also bought myself two more spindles in the hopes that one of them will click and I will suddenly get the hang of this. Not yet, but it sure is fun to try and play with these beautiful pieces of art.

The one on the left is a little stone spindle made of lapis that I got from an etsy seller. I also bought a beautifully dyed braid of corriedale and she included two samples of gorgeous hand dyed silk.

The one on the left is a Grafton Mala spindle, also very beautiful. I bought this from an ebay store and got wonderfully fast service.

Tomorrow, my finished Kauni. Hopefully the day won't be too cloudy and dark so a photo will be possible.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

A day full of family, friends, food, and fun. I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting Ready

The pies are baking and the guys are busy putting up the extra table.

We are thankful to have such good helpers!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Old Fat Women For Peace

Today after yoga class, someone asked, "Have you seen the Old Fat Naked Women for Peace video?" I hadn't, so I came home and looked it up.

I thought it was worth sharing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanskgiving Prep

Since we moved into the "big" house about 12 years ago, we have hosted most of the big family dinners. After all, that's why we picked the big dining room, wasn't it? I enjoy the preparation and having the family here and, after the first time, have managed to make pretty good food.

This morning I was making my shopping list and the page quickly filled with all of the ingredients I would need to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, complete with three or four desserts (the most important part, in my opinion).

After I made my list, I came in to my computer and made donations to two of our local food banks, Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline. I try to do this several times a year, but today I was thinking again about the troubling times we live in and how many more people are in need this year than usual. We are lucky enough to still be able to pay our bills, provide clothing, shelter, food, and college tuition for our kids, and spend a little money here and there on other essentials such as yarn, drop spindles, and fiber. I am counting my blessings which include health, a loving family,good friends, and a loyal dog. :)

I knit for charity as much as I can and also donate money. For years I volunteered in the schools, but now that our youngest is a senior, I have scaled back quite a bit, but I still feel the need to give back to the community. I think I'll look into the possibility of volunteering at the local food bank or doing some tutoring. If each one of us gave a few dollars or a few hours of time, what a difference that would make.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday's Garden

My question this week is this:

When so many trees look like this after a couple of rainy and windy days,

why does the Wisteria vine still look like this?

No doubt the fact that it is located outside the two entrances to our house and provides weeks' worth of falling leaves blowing in the doors has something to do with it.

It's very fall-like to walk through crackling dry leaves, but not such a treat when they're in your kitchen!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Obsessed again, naturally

Thank heavens I didn't start on a wheel. I've spent much of the last few days practicing on my spindle, buying more inexpensive roving to try to improve my spinning, and reading about spinning on Ravelry. Of course, reading about spinning technique leads to reading about the best fiber to use, which leads to reading about the best spindles to get. Which leads to looking up all the spindle makers and drooling, if not ordering.

So reading and shopping has replaced practice spinning. I've purchased another spindle and some more roving and I fear that I'm not through yet.

One sensible thing I did was turn down the offer to buy a spinning wheel from a friend of mine. I don't want to have that much invested and a bigger item to move when we get around to downsizing the house in the next few years. It also gives me more money for spindles and fiber because look at all I saved on the wheel I didn't buy!

You can talk yourself into anything.

Yesterday while sitting here at my desk, I was fascinated watching two hummingbirds chasing each other around the feeders. Usually one will chase the other away and that's that, but these two had quite an interaction going for some time. Sometimes they sat on opposite sides of the feeder, but they sat like this (see photo below) for a long time. If you click on the photo, you can make it bigger to see the second hummingbird sitting on the branch above and to the right of the feeder.

Ain't nature grand?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hemlock Ring

Would be a lot bigger by now if the darn ............(insert name of one of multiple projects otn) didn't keep getting in the way. Sheri talks about KADD. I have it big time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Buttons have been selected but they refuse to sit for a successful photo on this gloomy day. I will meet with my Kauni "mentor" tonight for last minute advice and will get this sweater finished by the weekend. I'm a year late to be wearing it with everyone else who made it, but I still like the design and really enjoyed the process of knitting it all in the round. Even the steeks were a breeze. Of course, this yarn is extremely sticky and I didn't even stitch beside them before cutting. I suppose with smoother yarn the stitching would be a necessity and I'd have to determine if the old sewing machine indeed still works.

A problem for another day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mother Nature's holiday decorations

I love the look of the small, colorful fruit that is so abundant on these trees, but I just noticed the little, white flowers. It looks like someone has decorated these Arbutus unedo (strawberry trees). Definitely the easiest decorating is that which is done for you!

And then there are the rosebuds, struggling to believe that it's still summer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's True

Backbends give you energy.

This morning in my yoga class (Iyengar), we did backbends. We worked in partners a lot, thank heavens, since my back doesn't bend very much. I don't dislike some of these poses as much as I once did, but I'm resigned to the fact that I'll never look like the person in the photo.

Oh, well. I still have energy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I know I'm way too picky

but discrepancies in pronunciation, spelling, or grammar drive me crazy! When I read, I notice every time the wrong form of a word is used (too instead of two or to, loose instead of lose, the various spellings of there, their and of course they're, and on and on). Misplaced hyphens are also noticed; it's vs. its is a particular annoyance and also your vs. you're. All the spell checking in the world doesn't make up for having a basic understanding of the English language.

Today I noticed another thing that bothers me (what a surprise!) I was listening to an audio book while I worked in the garden. I have developed a great fondness for this method of "reading" as it allows total multitasking. Anyway, I usually get a list of books from the bookstore or newspaper, then request CDs from the library. I usually download them onto my computer so I can put them into my ipod. So, by the time it comes to listen to the book, I can't remember where I heard about it, what it's about, or why I requested it. I'm always surprised, usually pleasantly.

David Guterson is a favorite author of mine. He's from this area and his novels have been set in the Pacific Northwest. I began listening to The Other today. His writing is beautiful and the stories always draw me in immediately. Yet, I find that when books are set in my town, discrepancies in small details can be very jarring, whether I am reading or listening. What bothered me today was the pronunciation of Alki (Al-kye). This is a beach in the West Seattle area where the first white settlers to this area came ashore, and everyone around here knows where it is and how to say it. The reader says "Alky" as if it were a neighborhood set aside for alcoholics.

It seems to me that when books are recorded, a little research could be done so pronunciation of names that are repeated several times or are important to the story wouldn't be so glaringly incorrect.

Or is it just me?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Before and After

November is half over and my first NaBloPoMo is going well. I've posted every day so far and am quite enjoying the task of thinking of something to say each day. Not that I've said anything terribly important, but just sitting down and grouping photos or writing a few sentences has been enjoyable.

We are having mild weather so far, after being treated to spectacular fall colors. I've documented some of them here. Last week was rain and wind, which put an end to most of the display, in addition to flooding many unfortunate residents of the state of Washington who happen to live close to riverbanks. I thought it would be interesting to revisit a few of my favorite photos and show how the subjects look now.

Remember the "burning" tree?

All the flames are out, with no damage to the firs.

This colorful scene at the end of my driveway appears fairly bare and drab now.

The pink dogwoods have lost all of their red leaves.

I planted my garlic today. After it spends a cozy few months under the ground, it will emerge with green shoots and lovely, large bulbs which will last us through quite a bit of the year.

And for knitting content, this one little square

has become this. There's still a long way to go.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Measure of Success

Look what I made:

I know it's tiny and pathetic, but remember it's a first effort at drop spindling which lasted about an hour. True, the others in my class seemed to have larger "skeins" than I did, but I must just be more careful (or inept) than they are. Anyway, I had fun and that's what counts.

Look what I bought:

It's hand-dyed Dragonfibers Targhee roving and I couldn't resist the name of the colorway: Grasshopper Martini. I have a feeling that I might be having a martini or two during this learning process. It also matches this section of the garden pretty well.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Starting Down A Slippery Slope

I have signed up to take a beginning drop spindle class tomorrow at my LYS. This will involve going in early and buying a drop spindle and then trying to learn how to use it for the next two hours. I have become fascinated with handspinning over the past few months, but have been hesitant to try. A case in point - I spent some time watching A spinning on her wheel last year at The Loopy Ewe's Spring Fling, but I was afraid to try. She made it look easy but I was worried that I'd just end up with a tangled mess.

I saw and touched her finished yarn, and a few skeins of handspun (which I love) have come into my possession over the last couple of months, so I decided I'd give it a try. I know drop spindling is different from spinning on a wheel, but it seemed like a way to ease into this new area gradually, without spending too much money right off the bat.

We'll see what happens.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Charity Update

Finished and ready to go into the mail are scarves and mittens. I finished my second red scarf for the Red Scarf Project and a quick pair of child's mittens for afghans for Afghans. While my regular knitting gets slowed down when I throw in these projects, I don't mind because it's nice to think that I'm doing a tiny bit of good for someone else. Warming up a child's hands in the wasteland that's now Afghanistan, giving a foster child a package to open with a cheery scarf and a gift card is totally a worthwhile way to spend some time. I highly recommend it!

Basic Pattern for Children's Mittens by Elizabeth Durand
afghans for Afghans website
Cascase 220 superwash wool
Size 7 needles, magic loop

One Row Handspun Scarf by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran
Size 9 needles

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Now I Can Die Happy

Wollmeise Lace in the Pfauenauge (peacock feather) colorway. This is a huge, soft skein and I don't know what to use it for but I finally have it!

I have this one skein of laceweight and a few skeins of sock yarn (I made it into the sock club so I'll end up with a few more by the end of next year) so that's enough. There's no reason to haunt The Loopy Ewe and Claudia's website trying to get more.

But, you know, it's funny. If you have a chance to get something that a lot of other people want, even though you have enough (or more than enough) for your own still want more.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Learning something new every day

comes with knitting. Sometimes it's a new technique, a new stitch, a new pattern. Sometimes it's using a new tool or a different type or weight of yarn. Sometimes it's using beads. And sometimes it's just trial and error, figuring out that what I thought was going to work wouldn't.

I've determined to finish my Kauni cardigan this month. I took it out the other day, planned my attack, and picked up the stitches for the neckband and knit the ribbing. It came out fine, so I continued, researched the best number of stitches to pick up for the button bands, cut the last big steek up the middle, and sat down to pick up the 100+ stitches. This ribbing is done with two colors; one used for the knit stitches and one for the purl stitches. I did this on the hem, the cuffs, and the neckline with no trouble. The button band was different. And finishing is not my strong point; I do try to read any directions I can find, then muddle through. So....

I picked up the stitches from the neckline to the hem. The working yarn was then on the hem end of the needle, so I thought I could just work from the bottom up. The fact that the right side of the ribbing would be on the wrong side of the sweater seemed immaterial to me - ribbing is the same on both sides, isn't it? Not, apparently when it's corrugated ribbing.

After trying to convince myself that the curly, loopy look was cool (a design element) and getting concurrence from some family members, I continued for a couple more rows.

It didn't work. For one thing, it doesn't match the other ribbing and it's just a little bit too weird. The back side looked a lot better.

I will rip. This yarn is very sticky, so it's not that bad to rip. I'm going to try to only go back to the pickup up edge, start new yarn at the other end, and do it from the right direction. Then I'll just have to figure out how to get it going the right way on the other button band and also how to do the buttonholes.

One thing at a time.

I do have to mention that I received a lot of good information about this project from this blog.
She is a meticulous knitter with excellent technique and thinks things out and explains them well.

I will press on.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Road Trip

Yesterday we had a break in our first official winter storm so we took the opportunity to drive across the Cascade mountains to visit our Collegeboy on his birthday weekend.

A short aside: Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have pretty mild weather as a rule. Therefore, and especially during "sweeps" month, our local media like to take advantage of every chance there is to forecast and walk us through a storm. So we've already had our first taste of "Stormwatch" and "Stormtracker" on the various local stations, along with the unlucky reporter who is forced to stand out in the rain and make a big deal about a clogged drain that is threatening to flood a street. Not to make light of the fact that we do have a lot more flooding from rainstorms than we did when I was young (mostly because of over development of low-lying areas near rivers) but watching these people sensationalize an ordinary weather event is funny. It gets really good if snow is forecast. It rarely snows here and it seems to be difficult to forecast in this area. If it looks likely, there are reporters out all over the place, standing on hills and hoping for that elusive first flake. In any case, our rainy season has definitely started, there was some snow in the pass last week, and we wanted to make a quick trip over and back without getting stuck.

The scenery along the way is pretty. On this side of the mountains, we have lots of water and big evergreen forests. On that side, there are farms, flatlands stretching to the horizon, and more deciduous trees. I couldn't take very many photos in the mountains, because photography from the car doesn't work too well, but I got a non-blurry shot on the way back.

There isn't any snow accumulation yet.

We had a good time. T-Dog and the Princess had wanted to come with us, but both had work/schoolwork to do so it was just me, DH, and Grandma. The drive over was smooth; DH and Grandma sat in front and talked to each other; I sat in the back and knit. I made some progress on my second scarf for the Red Scarf Project (remember the deadline was extended to Dec. 15, so you still have time to make one) and made a couple of squares for my sock yarn blankie. This is totally addictive. It's going well now that I've figured out how to join the squares. My geometrically-challenged brain gave me a little trouble at first, but I think I've got it now. I'll put up a photo in the next couple of days.

We arrived in the college town of Ellensburg, WA a little after 1:00 PM, delivered our gifts (including the new black hat I successfully finished and managed to get dry in time), and headed out to lunch. Our Collegeboy was up and moving, but #1 roommate was still recovering from the party-filled weekend, so it was just the four of us.

We had a very nice lunch at an old yellow church that's been turned into a cafe. Small and cute and surprisingly good food. We then did a little sightseeing through the town,

and showed Grandma one of the places our boy works (lifeguard and swim teacher).

We drove through part of the campus of his college, Central Washington University, which is very pretty. It's a good fit for him - he loves the school and community.

We dropped him off and headed back. This is the view down his street, which is a cul-de-sac of new, small, houses. He has a horse for a neighbor!

Having him two hours away is just about perfect. It's very possible to do an over-and-back drive in one day, yet those mountains form just enough of a barrier that it seems like he's really away. It's been a very good fit for us all.

Of course, now I have to start worrying about snow for his trip over on Thanksgiving. A mother's work is never done!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sock Club Swag

I haven't been faithfully recording all the goodies that come with the sock clubs that I belong to, but the deliveries that came in the last few days are really nice.

Notice: Spoilers Ahead!!!!!

This is the second shipment I've received from the Knit Purl sock club. This is a yarn store in Portland, OR, which I just happened to run across on Ravelry right at the time sock yarn sign-ups were happening. Being a sucker for interesting yarns, designers, and treats, I signed up. I haven't had the opportunity to visit this store, but from the website, blog, and sock club shipments so far, it's totally a winner!

Here's what just came: A skein of Fleece Artist Sea Wool in a special colorway called "Rhododendron Garden." The accompanying pattern is by Chrissy Gardiner and is called Buds & Butterflies Socks. It looks cute, and I like how the pattern comes in a little booklet. The treat this time is a silk taffeta project bag in a beautiful fuchsia color made by Lantern Moon. Their products are always wonderful.

The other sock club package I received was from The Loopy Ewe. I must say that their sock club has been outstanding - cool treats, lovely yarn and nice patterns. The last shipment, however, looked like it fell off the truck and was dragged for awhile. Luckily, everything inside was intact.

I had forgotten that someone at USPS had actually wrapped the box in plastic and tied it so everything would stay in. What a mess!

The current box was in perfect shape in my mailbox.

Inside, as always, was an array of fun and useful items. There was a large, zippered, project envelope (I love all the sizes of these), a big bar of natural soap, a pattern for "Wine and Cheese Socks" written by the lovely and talented Wendy Johnson, and the most beautiful color of Bearfoot Mountain Colors handpainted yarn called Montana Chokecherry. It's so soft!

I'm up to my eyeballs in knitting projects, am staring at the skein of Wollmeise that I wound the other day to make the Swallowtail shawl, and now I want to start these socks.