Friday, December 27, 2013

I May Be Out Here the middle of nowhere with a ton of unpacked boxes, but it sure is pretty.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013


It's that time of the year when it's only natural to think about how the past year went and how things might be different in the new year.  I am making more changes than usual and am gradually altering my thinking towards embracing the new and not feeling as if I'm being dragged kicking and screaming from my usual routine.  Even though this has been coming for awhile and is good, all change is stressful and, especially as I get older, hard to embrace.

About a year and a half ago, we started designing a house that would be built on a small lake on property that has been in my family since the 1940s.  To accomplish that, I had to kick out the deadbeat renters who were there, get the design going, and get the little shacks on the property torn down.  There also were a couple of huge fir trees that unfortunately had to go.  Somewhere around last January, the site was ready and the construction commenced.

I had been trying to spend several months a year in Palm Desert with DH, but due to the construction and decisions that had to be made, I was here in Seattle most of last year.  I was also concentrating on getting our main house cleaned up and cleaned out, and it went on the market in June.  We've been here over 17 years, raised our three kids here, and it's a big house.  You can imagine how much stuff was stashed everywhere.  Not only yarn!

The new house was finished in September and I love it.  The problem is that it's about an hour south of our old neighborhood and even though I'm familiar with those surroundings, it's not near my yoga studio, not near my friends, not near my book club, my favorite grocery store, my book store.....You get the picture.  I will have to find new routines when I'm there, which will mostly be in the spring and summer.

The timing actually worked out well.  The big house and yard were viewed by prospective buyers in the summer when it looks the best.  By now everything is starting to get messy and drippy so I'm glad the people have signed on the dotted line already.  We had a last Thanksgiving here and it was almost perfect; the Princess and Prince Charming couldn't make it.  But they recently purchased their first house in Las Vegas, and right after using our dining set  here for the last time, we shipped it off to them, along with a lot of other furniture that we no longer needed.

Our last big family dinner:

The dining room now:

 I even sent my beloved piano, knowing that the Princess could be a gifted pianist if she decided to study again and even though I took lessons for years, I really have no aptitude for it. It will have a good home with her and be loved again.

So I've been packing for a month.

Shelves are emptying out:

Here's how my knitting room looks:

Notice the skeins of yarn on top of a box.  Also the swift (and ball winder) are both still set up.  I might want to start another project or two this week.....

DH was here for about 10 days at Thanksgiving and, even though he was sick the whole time, helped me get a lot of stuff cleared out and taken to the dump and to the new house.  He's back in the desert now, as this is his busy season.  The movers are coming for the rest of the stuff in this house the day after Christmas.  I'll be at the lake for a week, then go to the desert for a few months.  Graduating to official snowbird....somehow I don't feel that old.

I am looking forward to being with my husband...we've been apart for the majority of each year ever since he went down to work in Palm Desert.  His business falls off in the summer, so we're planning that we'll be at the lake together in the summers and in the desert together for most of the winters.  That's going to be a bit of an adjustment as well...I hope he gets in the swing of following my directions again quickly!  He's been thinking that he could manage himself....

Here's a shot from the upstairs balcony right before the new house was all finished.  You can see where I'll be sitting and knitting all summer!  Of course, that's after some work is done on the yard.  The rocks were part of the original house and will be a firepit, and the lovely dirt yard needs a little something.

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to our little Buddy in October.  He was facing multiple health issues and we knew that he wouldn't be able to adjust to moving between two different homes, so we had to let him go.  As much as I miss him, I know it was the best thing to do.  He had a great life and went peacefully on to being, as the Princess said, "the newest angel in doggie Heaven."

He used to love to float on a mat in the pool, watching over the kids and barking.  He was such a character!

Out with the old and in with the new is exceedingly true this year.  I know I'll need some time to adjust and no longer wonder why I feel alternately sad and excited.  My comfort zone is being stretched to the limit and accepting the changes with grace is my goal.  I know I am very lucky to be embarking on this new adventure.  Embracing whatever life holds in this next chapter will be my mission.

I wish you all health, happiness, and peace in the year to come.

Gratuitous glamour shot of the Princess and Prince Charming.  Aren't they beautiful?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Story of the Blankie

My sock yarn blankie is done!  I started the project in October of 2008 and finished the edging in November of 2013.  Not the speediest of knitting, but it wasn't continuous, either.  I had been reading about a scrap blanket in a blog and thought that it would be fun to make one. Mine ended up 15 squares high by 16 squares wide.

It started with scraps from one of the first skeins of sock yarn I bought and made into socks.

It progressed in fits and starts.  My original plan was to use my own scraps from socks I had made and then take 5 gram lengths from new skeins to make the blanket.  The large squares were all to be Wollmeise.  Then I joined a group on Ravelry dedicated to this blanket pattern, which quickly became a swapping group.  You would join a swap, buy a skein of yarn, divide it into about twenty mini skeins, and send it off to a "Swap Mom".  She would repackage all the yarn that came in and send everyone back an envelope with twenty different little skeins.  If that's not fun, I don't know what is!  So I quickly accumulated baskets of these mini skeins, far more than I needed for this one blanket.

Needless to say, more blankies are in the planning stages (one is already begun) because I like them so much and have lots of raw materials available!  A photo chronicle of its progress from a few squares to many:

I-cord edging.  I don't want to do that again for awhile!

Some time ago, Mr. Hollywood claimed the blanket for himself, so it will go to him when it is washed. I had him try it on when he was home for Thanksgiving, and it fits just fine!  He and Ms. Hollywood (his lovely GF) agreed to a photo shoot and declared the blanket snuggle worthy!

Our little Buddly liked it, too, and supervised the last few squares and most of the edging process.  Sadly, we lost him soon after this photo was taken, but I'm sure bits of fur will remain with the blankie for posterity.

A very entertaining project that created an heirloom that I hope will be appreciated for a long time.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Clandestine Midnight Gardening

It was a dark and stormy night..... really!  A shot rang out   sorry, getting carried away.  But it was a dark and stormy night here in the desert of southern California.  DH and I were tucked up snugly in our little condo in the heart of the small, gated community we call home here.  There was some activity in the green belt outside and we looked out.  Our neighbors were in the middle of digging a hole to plant a small lime tree.  Now there's an HOA here, with all the annoying rules.  You're not really supposed to dig up the lawn and plant stuff, but the President is the neighbor whose husband was digging the hole, she's a master gardener, and so there are liberties taken occasionally. We laughed about their little plan to add a tree to the community, and went back to what we were doing; listening to the wind howl and watching tv.  And I was, of course, knitting.

A while later, I heard the sound of water gurgling.  We have a small fountain on our patio, but it had turned off for the night and besides, this sounded distinctly different.  I mentioned it to DH and he went outside to take a look.  Here's the scene now:  it was pitch dark, about 10:30 or so, the sprinklers had gone off, and the whole area around the new little tree was filled with water from the pipe that the clandestine gardeners had broken while digging the hole for the tree.  Uh oh.  There was a problem now.  This would definitely be noticed in the morning.

The wind kept blowing as the conspirators (now including us) assessed the problem.  The pipe needed to be fixed!  One person went to the hardware store (which was closed) for repair supplies, while madame Pres. searched the gardener's shed for sprinkler parts.  We were in luck!  Pipes and glue were available.  I was watching the scurrying from the safety of my patio when I saw a gust of wind blow the poor little tree down.  Timber!  Sitting in a big puddle of water had made it unsteady.  It was moved and the repair work commenced.

So here we were in the dark with a trouble light, a flashlight, a shovel and hose, saw and plumbing supplies.  Fortunately, we live in a corner where no one else is in residence, so we continued along on our merry way with no interference. With a little luck and ingenuity the pipe was repaired, the hole was filled in, and the little tree was set back into place. The surrounding area didn't look great, but it didn't look horrible either.

The next morning the little tree was still standing.

Later that day, it looked a little worse for wear.

Be strong, little lime tree, be strong!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Handspun Sweater

This story starts about six months ago, when I attended the Hansen miniSpinner retreat in Port Townsend, WA.  It was a wonderful experience, and I brought home some roving that I purchased at Taylored Fibers; some beautiful CVM/Merino/Silk.  I had asked Barry about CVM because I wanted to try it.  I had bought a little bit of it previously and it was awful to spin - lumpy and kind of sticky.  Barry told me that it was probably not very good quality and he kindly searched around until he located a quantity of this nice blend.  I bought three bumps; about 21 ounces.

I started spinning it soon after I got back home and after a few months, I had it finished.  I decided to 3-ply it to try to make the fabric look tweedy, and also because it was spinning fairly thin.  When I finished, I was delighted with the yarn.  The judges at the Evergreen State Fair were, too, as I received an award for Class Runner Up for one of the skeins.

The problem was that I only got about 750 yards and didn't think that was enough for a sizeable sweater.  I contacted the Taylors and asked if they had more fiber and, of course, they didn't.  I searched around for sweaters that used a minimal quantity of yarn, and settled on the Summer Open Cardigan from Knitting Pure & Simple.  It's a short raglan style with elbow length sleeves.  I thought it would give me flexibility to end whenever I got short of yarn, so I began.  I knit it pretty much as written, except I put in some waist shaping.  I knit until it was about hip length and then started both sleeves.  I had a couple of minor setbacks on the sleeves; they were getting too tight and one ball of yarn had a lot more green in it, so they were a little mis-matched.  I ripped back a ways, took out some of the sleeve decreases, and started alternating balls of yarn.  The yarn is fairly thick and warm and I thought short sleeves might not be a good idea, so I just kept knitting and managed to get full length sleeves done.  I actually had quite a sizeable ball of yarn left; I must have used less than 700 yards for the sweater, so success!  It took a couple of days to dry after I washed it - we're having record rain even for Seattle - but it fits and is super cozy and warm.

A happy ending to a very satifying project!

Friday, August 23, 2013

County Fair 2013

Lately the highlight of my year is the day I go to the County Fair and see what ribbons I've won for my knitting and spinning.  Today was the day and I'm excited!  I only entered two items into the knitting division; a sweater and a shawl, and they both were awarded blue ribbons.  That's great, but everyone who meets a certain set of standards gets blue.  Now I'm after the special rosettes!

My spinning hasn't ever won any rosettes, so I was thrilled to find three this year.  I made an infinity cowl from some Southern Cross Fibre Polwarth/Cashmere/Silk.  This spun beautifully and made a wonderful, soft, squishy yarn.  I used all but a tiny bit for the cowl and loved it when I had a chance to wear it last spring.  Here's the yarn and the finished cowl.

And here's how it looks now.  Creative award, baby!

The second item is a shawl.  I spun this yarn a couple of years ago and tried three times to make it into a shawl before I finally landed on the pattern that worked.  I ran out of yarn, hated the yarn with the pattern twice, and then chose a shawl that actually worked out.  Here's the yarn and the shawl.

And with the special award!

I also entered two skeins of yarn, both spun during the Tour de Fleece this year.  The first was a pretty skein of Punta top that I spun thicker and worsted and it came out nicely.

The second one is a skein of Merino/CVM/Silk that I plan to use for a sweater project.  I got this fiber at Taylored Fibers when I went to the Hansen miniSpinner retreat last March.  I've finished two skeins and really liked this one.  I guess the judges did, too.  Class Runner Up!  

A very successful day.  And no visit to the fair would be complete without little goats

and scones, of course.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

This Made Me Laugh

Think of it: virtual yarn and knitting.  No stash storage problems!  Naaah, somehow it just wouldn't be the same.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Success, finally!

I finished knitting some things!  I know that doesn't seem like a very big accomplishment, but these days my knitting time is limited, although my knitting plans are as ambitious as ever.

A month or so ago I wrote about a cotton sunhat that I was trying to make for my great-niece.  I attempted to crochet it multiple times with no success.  I gave up, then looked for a knitted pattern.  This I also failed to make several times; it came out looking way too small.  Undaunted, I went to larger needles and cast on a bigger size, and at last had a hat that looked like it would fit a three year old.  I hope I was right.  I didn't have a model close by to try it on.

A larger accomplishment was my cotton mitred square blanket.  I started these squares about two years ago, knitting them one at a time as I sat in the sun.  I planned to make a big blanket out of them, but was in no rush to finish.  Then, inspiration struck.  My niece's second child was due at the first of May and right before that I started thinking about something I could knit for her.  They live in Hawaii, so heavy and warm clothes aren't needed.  A cotton blanket would be perfect!  I counted up the squares I had finished and I had plenty to make a baby blanket.

Then came the tedious part.  Sewing up each set of four into a large square, sewing the squares into strips, and sewing the strips together into a blanket.  All that mattress stitch isn't my favorite thing, nor am I that accomplished at finishing techniques.  But I figured a baby wouldn't notice if it wasn't perfect and I perservered.  After all that sewing, the edging wasn't a problem at all.  I wove in all the ends (now that was a project in itself!), threw it into the washer and dryer and voila!  A baby blanket extraordinaire, if I do say so myself.  I hope it's appreciated and used well, but it's off in the mail now and not mine to worry about any more.

I have a few squares left; may be time to start another?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

So Thrilled

Celebrating the accomplishments of children is an exhilarating experience.  When those accomplishments make the children happy and closer to attaining their passion in life, it's even better.

Our three kids were brought together as a family when the boys were eight years old and their sister was five.  Times weren't always totally smooth, but the first day of school photo each year showed their love for each other.  This is one of the first years.

Through the awkward times, the afros and the braces, they always smiled from the edge of the driveway, adding Buddy to the mix when he came along.

We ran out of first days of school when the boys left for college, but still managed to get photos from time to time.  Here they are singing a favorite song from childhood at the rehearsal dinner before the Princess' wedding.

They do all clean up nicely!

The kids are grown now and all working.  That's what I wanted to talk about.  We are so incredibly proud that all three have graduated college and are working in jobs for which they prepared, and which make them happy.

The Princess majored in hospitality and event management, specializing in wedding planning.  She recently started a job as an assistant wedding coordinator at a large hotel in Las Vegas.  Aside from the rather unattractive uniform, she loves the job.

Prince Charming joined the Army National Guard, as you saw in the last post.  He is now training in Texas as a medic, which may lead to a medical career for him if he likes it.  Otherwise, he will return home and finish his education as an Engineer, fulfilling his Guard duties as required.

Mr. Hollywood studied film and video production at a small school in Eastern Washington.  Despite his not having a direct connection to a studio or production company, he moved to Hollywood, worked as an intern for a year, and now has been at a major talent agency for over a year.  He is training as a literary agent for film, which is his passion.  He's working hard and enjoying every minute.

Mr. Businessman studied business in college and works for a management consulting firm, travelling as needed, working from home the rest of the time, and doing well.  In his spare time he indulges in his passion for sports.  He's very family oriented and just recently proposed to his girlfriend, Ms. Significant Other.  We like her very much and look forward to welcoming her formally into the mix in about a year.

You guys have not only fulfilled our hopes and dreams for you, but exceeded them.  We are incredibly proud to be your parents and love you all immensely.