Friday, June 30, 2006

Blah bla blah blah blaaah

Petition for a real 3-day weekend

If you live in the US, you know that if there's a holiday you can expect a 3-day weekend, except for Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. Now, Christmas I know is never going to be changed since that involves international cooperation which hasn't happened since the invention of time zones (after all we're the only ones not using metric as our standard for measurement). Thanksgiving is pretty much a 4 day weekend for most folks. But Independence Day is usually spent barbecueing and watching various events celebrating the day that the Declaration of Independence from England was signed, following up with a big fireworks display. The date, July 4th, moves each year (this year it's on a Tuesday). So if you haven't already opted to have Monday off, you go to work Monday after a busy weekend, stay home Tuesday and can't really do much, then go back to work on Wednesday. Now here's something the Republicans can do to make American lives easier-- designate the first Monday of July as the day we celebrate our independence-- instead of babbling about flag burning, gay marriage, or other useless crap they've been throwing on Congress's agenda. It would be more useful and not quite as contentious. And for criminy sake throw the fireworks display on the Sunday before so we can sleep in the next morning after getting home at 3 am because of all the traffic.

Rose Trellis progress

I discovered that after going through the pattern chart once that when you start up again the chart is off by 4 stitches at each end. She did warn the gentle pattern reader about the growing edges, but I didn't realize what she meant until I did some copying and grafting of the pattern to incorporate my pattern alteration. The first row of the next repeat was a bit of a challenge (four tinks of the first repeat -- made me want to shave my head and renounce the world for a more contemplative life, like counting angels dancing on a pin). But once I got going, I was back to my usual knit-a-section-count-a-section-tink-a-section-reknit-a-section-get-through-four-sections-breathe-a-sigh-of-relief-before-purling-back-and-counting-stitches. I keep telling myself it's Not The Princess Shawl. And at one point I treated myself to a long Addi Natura (40") circular. I may have to get a few more after three repeats. Which takes me to my next subject.

Idea for a product

Has anyone considered making tubes that you could slide over your circular needle tips so that you can connect two circulars to make one long circular? They would have to be made of a flexible plastic so that they would stretch enough to grab the needle surface without sliding off. Get to work, inventors! A new knitting tool!

Body progress

I succumbed to the temptations of Hawaii's bounty while I was there and didn't move around as much as I thought I would, so when I stepped on the scale this week, I was disheartened by how all the progress I had made (almost 10 pounds in the last month) was wiped away. My doctor's appointment is in two weeks. When I try to exercise more, my knees grind away. Hopefully the dietary changes I made (less fat, more vegetables) will result in my cholesterol dropping. The prospect of having two more prescriptions, one for cholesterol and one for diabetes, is depressing.

But that appointment is followed by a visit to my knee surgeon to see if I'm ready for my knee joints to be cleaned out of scar tissue. If I can get that done, I can see if I can try to get in water aerobics again. I've got to do something!

On the job front

You may notice that I post very few entries regarding my job. That's because of its very nature it requires a high level of confidentiality. I deal with home health claims to Medicare, which frightens some people--"OMG You deal with Medicare? How can you stand it?" Easy. They make the rules, you follow the rules, they pay the bills. The rules for home health are straightforward, so you don't have to be a mental genius to figure them out (not like some lines of medical care, like home infusion, which has no manual of rules that anyone has found out). Then there's the relations I have with the people I work for and with. They know I have a blog. I make no secret of it. It's laid out plainly in the company policy that disclosure in a public forum is grounds for dismissal. I like where I work, so I respect that.

Recently, however, I've been tempted with moving on to a different department. There was a shakeup in Information Systems, opening up a number of positions that I thought I could try for. The most recent application was to another department in the same division, but it didn't have enough variety for my liking. Like in any large organization, rumors fly, and soon my boss got wind of my inquiries and applications. So he confronted me and we talked. I have a good relationship with him and told him why I was looking. I was bored. I needed a challenge. I wanted to learn something new. He really likes my work and me and didn't want to lose me, so he offered an opportunity for me to learn some of the home infusion side. I didn't really want to leave, as I like the group. So this was great news for me. Hopefully this will help bolster my being put into a higher pay level as I'm at the pay maximum now. My boss has talked about having the positions reevaluated for their pay so keep your fingers crossed. It made my lead very happy to know I wasn't leaving (I had told her of my intentions) and I get to keep my desk with its privacy and lovely view.

Alicia and Norma's dogs, Dax and Phoebe. I've been told Phoebe's camera shy but she didn't run when she saw my camera. Probably because it's an ancient Canon AE-1 so it doesn't whirr, grind, or beep when you take a picture. Just click.


Don did this test and wished he was Wonderwoman. He should have checked the push-up bra.

Your results:
You are Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
Green Lantern
You are a beautiful princess
with great strength of character.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Ok back to work....

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hawi dreams V

Wednesday was our trip to pick up some green coffee beans from someone located in Kona and visit the Place of Refuge. First we went in search of the Place of Refuge, or by its Hawaiian name Pu'uhonua o Honaunau. It was a sacred place designated for people who had broken a tabu to go to for absolution. It wasn't easy. If you broke a tabu, you often were punished quickly so that the mana of the community wasn't defiled. But if you were able to get away and somehow made it through to the Place of Refuge, priests would perform a ceremonial cleansing of the sin upon you. Ceremonies are still performed there and not all the park is accessable to tourists for that reason. We would have stayed longer but it was really hot, especially with the white sand.

The trip to find the Place of Refuge was a little bit of an adventure. Alicia took a road that she thought was the right way but was the road to Napo'opo'o Beach (the road sign didn't have the apostrophes--and there were no restrooms). One side road was a dead end but on the "Private Road" sign someone had written "Queers Only". Unfortunately my picture didn't come out. Wish we had time to check it out.

After lunch, we went in search of the place where we were going to get the coffee beans. The directions were reminiscent of a drug deal. Turn left off the highway to this road.....follow it a mile to this street, turn left....go another mile, turn right up a hill and past a grocery store.....turn left at the abandoned gas station and mortuary......look for the Mickey Mouse gate, go down the driveway and look for the plastic bag. Put the money in the parrot's butt. What?! The parrot's butt? Sure enough when we got there, there was a garbage bag with the 10 pounds of green Kona coffee and by the door was a stuffed parrot. So we got the plastic bag and left our money in the parrot's butt. Norma came home from working at the clinic and started roasting the few pounds I was going to take home with me.

Thursday was the day Alicia and I went south to visit the volcano. This time we went through Hilo to get there. This photo is of the Kilauea crater, the one that blew last century and last flowed heavily in the '70's (remember the photos in National Geographic?). Plant life is here and there but most of the landscape is barren. I was used to seeing plants appearing in profusion after a decade since a blow but that was at Mt St Helens where most of the effluvia was ash, steam, and mud. Here the effluvia is lava that as it passes and cools becomes either clinkery a'a or puddly smooth paho'eho'e, the two most common lava types. It takes more time to break down into soil, so plants don't start up quite as quickly as they do around volcanoes that blow ash and mud. But there were ohia plants blooming.

The last night we stopped at the Seafood Bar for dinner to complete the circle. As we drove down the highway to Hawi and watched the sun descend, Alicia hoped we could glimpse Maui and Kaho'olawe across the strait, but clouds obscured the view again. But it was a magnificent sunset to end a wondrous week of adventure.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hawi dreams IV

Tuesday was spent at Alicia's, knitting and dyeing a silk scarf and slurping Kona coffee. In the meantime, here are more pictures from the World Botanical Gardens.

Fan palm.

Rare jade orchids.



Bird of paradise

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hawi dreams III

Monday morning started with waking from a dream that I was trying to fly. I would run and try to leap into the air but couldn't fly more than a few yards. Then someone in my dream said I needed to focus on my destination before trying to fly. It made perfect sense and it worked in my dream.

I woke to the resident roosters calling to each other and met Alicia at her home. Our excursion was to take us to Umauma Falls and the World Botanical Gardens outside of Hilo. First, we picked up salads and malasadas (hot filled donuts) for our picnic lunch at the Tex Drive-In, then we headed south. We stopped at the head of the road to Waipi'o, one of the sacred sites and home to sustainable agriculture farms growing the traditional crops of the ancestors: taro, breadfruit, sugar, coconut.

The World Botanical Gardens were created over a former sugar cane field and contain many varieties of flowers, shrubs, and trees. The focal point of the Garden is Umauma Falls, a three-tiered waterfall on the Umauma River. About 3000 species are in the Gardens, viewable along a drive through the garden and on trails. Our picnic was on one such trail in the shade of tulip trees, breadfruit, and others I could not identify.

Our excursions took us through Hilo then over the Saddle Road that runs between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Mauna Kea is the location of several astronomical observatories and I had hoped that I would be able to tour one of them while I was there, but that was not in the cards this time. But the drive over the road was reward enough for we went from lush tropical rainforest into temperate forest into nearly barren lava fields. The plant life change was stark and endlessly fascinating, reminding me of the years after Mount St Helens had its eruption in 1980.

The evening was devoted toward attending hula class. Alicia is taking hula and was able to obtain permission for my being able to observe the class. The halau (hula school) is in a former military building near the beach and Kumu is the instructor, a woman in her 60s barely standing 5 feet tall with hair past her hips. I took a seat near a window to stay cool for the room we were in was quite warm. Students filed in and took their places, becoming silent as the classroom filled. At last all were there and there was only silence. Then Kumu began the class, starting with an opening chant, practice with the chant, then warmups. At last the dance practice began and Kumu was watchful and gently persistent, making sure that her students understood without singling out those making mistakes. I started working on some socks I had brought with me, but after a certain point I put them away. The dance was too fascinating and I felt that the work was in some ways violating the sacred space. The knitting itself fascinated a couple of the younger children who were on the side while their mom was practicing. The socks had a cable in them, so they were curious about the cable needle, the knitting needles, and the sock (no socks in Hawaii!!).

After class was finished, I went and paid my respects to Kumu, for it felt like I had been given a gift I will never forget. The class gave me a feeling of the community that the locals have here as well as their ancient culture. It is something that is missing in our world on the mainland. We don't have centuries of culture; only a mixture that is diluted by our desires. What traditions we practice are merely shadows of the traditions we had, changing with each generation as we grow older. So I went to my sleep feeling I had been given a precious gift that no luau at a resort could ever provide and the song of Kumu murmuring in my ears.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hawi dreams II

Sunday's flight was uneventful. They showed "Eight Alone", the movie about the huskies left behind in the Antarctic after an expeditioner had an accident and had to be airlifted out. I didn't opt for the audio, so it was a silent distraction. Next to me at my right, a woman was playing "Pulp Fiction" on her laptop. Another woman was asleep in the seat at my left. So I was in the middle, stuck with keeping myself occupied for nearly 5 hours. It wasn't entirely unproductive. Because there were few audio distractions, I was able to get to row 43 of the Rosebud Shawl.

True to form, I decided that the middle portion of the shawl would have no rose medallions. This is to make my life bearable because it seems that every row I've worked I've had some sort of error. I could have ripped back to repair that glitch but I opted not to. This is one panel of 4 that I'm working. It looks like a twist, doesn't it? If you don't see it, then it's not a problem.

Back to the traveling.

Why are there no clocks in airports? In every airport I've been at in the last couple of years there have been NO clocks. I don't wear a watch (all the batteries in my watches are dead) and I don't have a cellphone, so I have no means of telling the time unless I carry my travel alarm with me. So at the Portland airport I'm sitting waiting for my flight with no means of telling when we were going to leave. It was frustrating because I knew I was there in plenty of time but would I have time to grab a cup of coffee? Would I have a chance to use the restroom? Can I go get a newspaper?

Alicia met me at the Kailua-Kona airport and a marvelous meeting it was. I was lei'd with a lovely lei of red and white orchids and one made of black ribbon, novelty yarn, and fun fur. The drive back on the west side of the island was startling because I was expecting lush greenery all around and saw nothing but prairie, brush, and ancient lava flows. It's due to the mountains catching most of the rain coming in, which I saw as we rounded the northern point of the island.

At the house, I presented Norma her socks, which she put on immediately. I then brought out my BIG suitcase full of goodies from the folks of the GLBT ListServe and Alicia was like a kid at Christmas. There was roving from Ted, JoVE, and Brenda; yarn from Emily, SamDuck, Ray, and Jean; books from SamDuck and Witt; Feed n Wax from Brenda; the Rubbah Slippah Mystery, a handspindle and roving from me; a swift from Unka Lou.* In return, Alicia gave me merino roving and mohair boucle yarn she will never use (way too warm for their climate!) and laceweight yarns that are too fine for her to handle.

It was a three hour difference between Hawi and Portland and by 7 pm their time I was exhausted. I went to my bed at the Kohala River Inn and dreamt wondrous dreams.

Coming up: flowers and foliage and lava, oh my!

*If I missed anyone, please accept my apologies!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Hawi dreams

Whenever I thought of Hawaii, I envisioned miles and miles of manicured lawns and gardens, hundreds of tourists, and cheesy displays of overpriced crap. I had no urge to go across the water to this chain of islands in the middle of BFN. Mom and Dad went to Kauai back in the 80's and enjoyed it, but the prospect of hot days amidst the great white hordes held no allure to me.

Then Alicia and Norma went across. The stories they told of the small town they lived in and the people made me curious. At least they weren't on Oahu, I thought, though I can't imagine their living on Oahu after spending their years in the mountains outside San Diego. Then Alicia asked me to make her Norma socks and it went from no desire to potential adventure.

I was not disappointed.

Words cannot describe my experience. I can see why people fall in love with the place. It isn't paradise, but it does speak to something within you. Something deep and primeval, long forgotten in this world of electronic communication, high speed travel, and plastic environments. It isn't free. You have to work for it. You have to give up something to be able to embrace it. Some people never feel it. Some people sense it but don't know how to access it. Some people feel it and crave it, but are afraid to give up what they know to embrace it. And the ones who take a deep breath and plunge into the water live on the island with the knowledge that what they have is precious and will do their utmost to protect it.

When I sip my coffee or nibble a bit of mango, I will remember that spirit. I will remember hearing Kumu, the teacher of hula, singing her song. I will remember the blue of the ocean, the black of the pahoehoe, the colors of the flowers, and the song of the wind.

I hope my pictures have captured some of the beauty. They'll be up soon.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Less than 24 hours

And I'll be feasting in Paradise.

The packing is done. I managed to get all of my clothes in my small suitcase which I can take aboard the plane with me. My computer bag does well doubling as a knitting bag and I shrank the amount of purse junk down to fit in a small bag. The heaviest thing will be my camera, a Canon AE-1, and the accompanying macro lens. Probably not as much equipment as Franklin, but I kind of feel like I'm traveling in Franklin style. No Dolores however. Can't compete with Dolores.

I'm returning Friday, kids. I hope to get some things up here Saturday. Until then, aloha!

Thursday, June 15, 2006


This is what I found when I arrived at work this morning.

In the bags were kits for these guys, a Beanie Baby Hula bear, and some fun toys. A wonderful way to start the day!

Last night, I found a package waiting for me that contained three balls of this in the blueberries/grapes colorway. At the rate I'm going with blues and purples, I may have enough to make a stash coat using the Folkwear Turkish Coat pattern as a guideline. An idea. We'll see.

In the meantime, I'm treating myself to a t-bone steak, baked potato and veg for dinner and some quiet time with a book to give my eyes a break. Ta-ta!

Shawl progress

My working on the shawl at home has helped me concentrate on the rows as they grow complex. The design isn't exactly symmetrical, but once it's completed, it's going to be beautiful. I'm doing it from the neck down and it's an open square, the opening running a diagonal line to one corner from the neck opening in the center. The color doesn't show well here because of the indoor light, but it's the design I want to show here.

Happy birthday to me!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I admit I can be lazy, but I at least leave my laziness at home. I drink tea at the office and make a big pot of it for the day. The department I work for provides coffee but you have to make it if you want it. They have three air pots and two coffeemakers, so it's not like you're going to run out of coffee if you keep making fresh pots. This morning I saw a woman (I want to say girl but she is adult-sized, so I'll be nice) try to get a cup of coffee from one of the air pots and found it was empty. She tried to get a cup from the other air pot, succeeded, then walked away. At the time, a pot of decaf was brewing, but the other maker was available. Now wouldn't it be nice to your fellow co-workers to take a few minutes to start a fresh pot? Most think they don't have the time. If you have the time to leave your desk for a cup of coffee, you have time to make a fresh pot. So do the nice thing. I did. Even though I don't drink the office swill.

Shawl progress

I had time last night to work on the Rose Trellis shawl and put in another life line. I'm up to 39 stitches per repeat and the next pattern line is more involved than previous lines, so I'm keeping it at home and working on socks at work. I still have the Submarine socks (I'm on sock two) and I have some Lana Grossa striping sock yarn. They and the shawl will most likely be traveling with me

Happy birthday, Steph!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Have you ever done this?

Take the current year and subtract five years from it. Then note what you were doing that year. It can be insightful. Or it can be depressing. So here's mine.

2001 - Had my first real relationship with another person. It confirmed my liking for women over men. It was also my first real sexual experience and I haven't been the same since (BEG)

1996 - Parted ways permanently with my best friend from high school. She had a mental breakdown and I had stepped in to help her, but the relationship was growing destructive for both of us. I chose to break ties with her completely, but it felt like I was going through divorce.

1991 - Started work at the company I'm currently with after a year of working temporary jobs.

1986 - I was promoted to apprentice grocery clerk and moved out of my parents' house.

1981 - Freshman and sophomore year in college. Had a roommate picked out by Housing. She had no tact but learned that arrangements can be worked through. Met Cat and Maggie, who introduced me to alcohol and letting go of my childhood.

1976 - Freshman year in high school and the Bicentennial. Was glad to be out of the hell of grade school (our schools didn't have middle school at the time) and made a few friends, only to dump them in favor of my best friend from grade school who ended up being my best friend in high school (see year 1996)

1971 - Rode down to California to visit my eldest brother who lived outside of San Diego. Dad had an Buick Electra 225 two-door with a back seat that could hold my sister and I and a full sized Coleman cooler. Spent one strange evening with a Mexican family while my parents and sister went to see "The Governor and J.J." at CBS Studios. The eldest boy of the family entertained me with drawing pictures of different characters like Frankenstein.

1966 - I attended nursery school at Westminster Presbyterian. Several who attended class with me ended up going to grade school with me as well.

Mila's Baby Sweater

I found buttons for Mila's baby sweater yesterday and was able to complete it. It makes it a little more femme but butterflies can be boys too, right?

I'm working on the cap to go with the sweater and should have it done before the week is out.

Off to work, bubbies!

Sunday, June 11, 2006


The concerts went very well Friday and Saturday. Friday Reid and I left Portland around 1 pm to avoid the traffic that starts picking up in mid-afternoon and reached Corvallis around 3. The church wasn't open so we hunted for a bookstore as Reid hadn't brought a book with him. We found the bookstore that sells Confluence concert tickets so after inhaling that particular smell that bookstores have we went browsing. Reid found this for a friend of his and I found this. Armed, we headed back to the church with the expectation of waiting for someone to unlock the door. But to our pleasant surprise the door was unlocked for an aerobics class, so we parked ourselves on a sofa to wait. Soon the production crew arrived with the risers and we were busy with staying out of the way.

After the concert, we went out to McMenamin's in Corvallis for dinner, then headed north to the outskirts of Albany to spend the night at Sam and Clark's. There's a subdivision that is out in the middle of all this farmland a few miles outside of Albany that is just a little strange, for you don't expect to be driving along and find a small neighborhood of houses amidst the fields and pastures. It's a nice quiet neighborhood very conducive to snoozing and loafing, and Sam and Clark are fabulous hosts. Outside of one of their dogs being extra vigilant and barking at nighttime wildlife, the night was peaceful and we slept well.

Saturday we played pinochle after breakfast, then Sam and Clark had to go run some errands. Reid took the time to read and I set to work on the Rose Trellis shawl. The last two pattern rows had been giving me fits because I'd count and come up one stitch short. I finally resigned myself to having to frog the thing back four rows and dug out the dental floss to put in a safety line. The cotton has a tendency to ladder very readily, so I wasn't going to take any chances. It took me a good hour to frog out the four rows and put in my safety line before resuming any knitting. After that, I was ready for a nap, which I did until Sam and Clark returned.

The second concert went very well. There were a couple of songs that we had had problems on in rehearsal, but in the concert we pulled it all together and made our director proud. Ray is not a diva director. He's patient and fun and really encourages us to perform for him. So we worked hard to make it come together. It was also a concert where I could stretch my range. I had a solo that put me in soprano range for a few measures, then later I had one that was in mid-baritone range up to alto. I'd been working hard to get that, so it was very satisfying to pull it off. I don't have any formal training except for a couple of workshops, so I'm pleased when I'm able to stay on pitch at the extremes of my range. It's not easy as it requires a lot of breath control, awareness of where your voice is coming from, and strength in the chest and abdominal muscles. So when a fellow singer who was in the audience came up and commented well on my soprano solo, I was very pleased (I sing tenor).

So this morning starts the week prior to going to Hawaii. I'll be gathering my things and preparing the house for my time away. Today will be quiet time with a quick trip to find buttons for the baby sweater and working a few rows on the Rose Trellis. I didn't get my WWKIP shirt in time from Cafe Press for Knit In Public Day but I'll have it for the trip. I was working on my cap while waiting in the green room concert days, so I did do some semi-public knitting. If I was home, I probably would have been in one of the parks in the city or at an outdoor table at a cafe. Oh well. Every day for me is Knit In Public Day.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Tonight Confluence Chorus is singing at the UU Congregation of Corvallis, so I'm leaving work early, hitching up with Reid, picking up programs and heading south. I'm just a little superstitious so I hope the burn I acquired from a spilled mocha this morning isn't an indication of how the day will be. We'll go to the church and sing, then spend the night at Sam and Clark's in Albany where tomorrow we'll have a lovely breakfast and a few rounds of pinochle before we go sing at Chemeketa Community College in Salem that evening. If I'm up early I'll have some quiet time for working a few rows of the Rosebud Trellis shawl and starting a baby hat to go with the sweater.

Since the brouhaha earlier this week over the proposed amendment banning gay marriage, this concert's music has acquired more meaning to me. The songs are based on a theme of the many voices of our community. There are voices of song, voices of generations, voices of the dispossessed, voices of the oppressed, voices of solidarity, and voices of strength. Those voices speak for those with no voice. One solo speaks of the voice of "the old and the fearful who hope for a new day." Another solo speaks of transition as we discover our true spirit and embrace it.

If you're in the area, come and see us sing.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The wearing o'the pink

Lest we forget there were others who suffered persecution at the hands of their government because they were "deviant". I call for a day of the Pink Triangle as a day of protest against the Religious Right before they become the Fascist Right.

Lace temptations

Even though my birthday isn't until the 15th, I received a lovely gift of laceweight cashmere/silk blended yarn from Emily in the UK. She's so sweet! Thank you Emily!!

But it will have to wait. I've broken out the Blue Heron and the Rose Trellis Shawl pattern. Oooh pretty pretty!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

I am not a criminal

I don't even play one on TV. I'm talking about Bush's expression of the need for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Instead of dealing with current domestic issues like the incredible increase of gas prices over the last two years, the efforts to control Internet content (see this), or the cutback of funds toward law enforcement and local services while giving tax breaks to those who don't need them, our fearless leader is spreading the fear of homosexuality to the masses.

Now I ask you what is the danger of two people of the same sex who are in a monogamous relationship sealing that commitment with a contract that provides the same financial gains as two of the opposite sex? I have no problem with people who don't want to condone a same-sex marriage in a church because of their faith. I have a problem with denying the right to a contracted agreement as defined by financial institutions. You don't want gay marriage? Then do away with filing joint taxes. Take the estate laws that give preference to a spouse of the opposite sex off the books. Alter the custodial laws that give preferential treatment to genetics instead of time spent in raising the child. If I choose to marry a man, I am guaranteed that my spouse will inherit my estate, be accepted as the custodian of my child in the case of death or divorce, and have the right to make decisions on my behalf in case I'm unable to make them regarding my health care and finances. That would not be true if my spouse was a woman.

If you are a fiscal conservative Republican, take back your party from the social conservatives. This is not the party of thirty years ago. I grew up with fiscal conservative Republicans. They werent' this way. I became a Democrat and refuse to be a Republican while the religious Right has control of the party. But I'm a fiscal conservative. Since the current administration took control of the White House, the US economy compared to the rest of the world has gone to hell. And we're paying for it now. You think gas is high? Wait until those petroleum prices travel up the chain to food, clothing, and basic amenities. And all those imports we're getting from China thanks to our dollar's value going down the toilet.

Yep, I'm really pissed off. And I'll probably end up with a file if I don't already have one somewhere. After I send a few letters to Congressmen, I'm going to go knit. I'm not a terrorist nor are my friends.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

While I was hunting for a zipper for my toothbrush bag, I came across this little prize. My grandmother knitted this edging for a pillowcase and my mother saved it when the pillowcase wore out. It was a little stained from age, but I cleaned it gently first with Dawn then rinsed it in a vinegar rinse. That's a nickel there beside it. It's cotton, probably done on size 000 needles. And so perfect!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

It's a lovely Sunday morning and the last thing I want to do is tackle the pile of dishes in my kitchen. But when you're out of clean spoons, it's time to do the dishes around here. Ick. At least my neighbor got my lawn done so that the dandelions won't be blooming.


I've had a number of comments appear recently. Thanks everyone for the positive feedback on the stranding work entry. I tried to make it as clear as I could without having to build a bunch of diagrams. I promise I will follow up with an exercise once I build the charts for those. JoVE mentions this as a source for knitter's graph paper. There's a link to the .pdf file you can download and print out for your own doodlings. So get out your crayons kids!

Leigh commented on the uses of glucosomine/ chondroitin/ MSM supplements for rebuilding cartilage. I was initially skeptical at first but I found that the gluco/chondro combination was the most effective in keeping my joints fluid. It's staved off surgery a couple of years, so I consider it efficacious for my particular condition.

Ted, I've decided to go ahead and use the Blue Heron for the Rose Trellis shawl. Thank you for your support and encouragement; it means a lot to me. I don't know if I'll ever do something like the Princess shawl (unless it's for my wedding), but the encouragement from you and our fellow GLBT Knitlisters ensures that I'll continue to take on challenges to further my knitting skills. Smoochies!!

Kitty Carnage

Buster, aka Studboy, decided to gift me with a dead sparrow this morning. At least it was in one piece, not like the last gift he gave me. He doesn't do this often, thank goodness. He's already got one couple up the street annoyed with his lurking by their bird feeders. I caught him going after pigeons on a roof a month ago. One time he stalked a crow. It's why I put fifty bells on his collar.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Real knitting content! Honest!

That's right, kids. Pure and unadulterated knitting content and a few tips as well! I hope you come away feeling like you can push the envelope a bit.

After my Memorial Day moment of what-to-do-next-itis (don't tell me you don't get those or I'll slap ya), I started the commission sweater for Mila, a gal in my office who's expecting in November. She wanted a baby sweater but didn't know what the sex of her baby was and didn't want something that was particularly tied to the baby's sex. I finished the body of the sweater last night and I'm very pleased.

Now one of the things that I take into consideration when I do a commission is expense. It would be nice to take advantage of someone who tells me "Buy what you want to use!" and get some really spendy yarn that while it's incredibly soft would cost an arm and a leg to the client. I also like to play with color and the sweater I had chosen had a yoke with stranded colorwork in it. But the original pattern calls for 6 colors: the main color for the body and 5 for the yoke. Now if this was an adult sized sweater, it wouldn't have been any big deal to get the 5 colors. But a baby sweater? I didn't have scraps of DB Baby Cashmerino lying around. I would have to buy 5 skeins of yarn from which I would probably use 10 yards or so each. So I decided to change the yoke pattern to one that took 4 colors, including the main color. This worked out well and Mila was very pleased with the result.

There are times when you have such a situation. Say you want to make a pair of mittens for your niece and you have the yarn but only in 4 colors instead of the 7 that the pattern you picked calls for. You have a few options:

1. Bag the pattern and hunt for something else.

2. Go buy more yarn.

3. Change the colorwork design to use 4 colors instead of 7.

If you have oodles of money or the yarn wasn't that expensive, options 1 and 2 are viable options. But they don't give you a challenge that 3 does, nor do they make the item unique.

The tools you'll need are graph paper and coloring markers (if you can find one of those sets that has more than 28 colors, you're in good shape. Or get crayons.). If you buy graph paper, try to find the kind that is designed for knitters, not engineer's quadrille paper. Stitches tend to be tall and narrow, not square, and you want to be able to see your design as it would appear stitched up. What I do is use my spreadsheet program (I use MS Excel), take the blank grid and alter the cell sizes so that they resemble knitter's graph paper (I do a 2:3 ratio of width:height). I print out pages for playing around with designs.

The next thing is you want to take the pattern you have and figure out the repeat. In the pattern for Mila's sweater, the repeat for the yoke pattern was 12 stitches in a 15 row section. The pattern should show a graph of the motif you're doing with the repeat and the ending stitches. Mark that dimension out on your graph paper and add two repeats of that dimension. For Mila's sweater, that would be three sections of 12 columns and 15 rows one right after the other in a row.

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Look at the colors you have and see what colors pop out when put against the main color versus those that sort of hang back. For the sweater, the darker salmon color was the most vibrant against the green whereas the butter yellow nestled next to it comfortably. The yellow against the salmon also made the salmon color pop. So I opted to make my main motif the salmon color. Do the same with your colors. As a general rule, oranges and blues pop when placed against each other; so do violets and yellows together and reds and greens together (aha! Salmon Red against Sage Green!).

Now look at colors that like each other. In this case the green and yellow work well together. So do the yellow and orange and the orange and salmon. I could have put the salmon around as the border but then the stitch colors would be fighting each other and drawing the eye away from the main motif. Instead I placed the yellow, which gently draws the eye up to the yoke and toward the motif.

Shapes are another thing to consider. In stranded colorwork, the general rule is to not have more than 2 colors going in a row. You also don't want to have more than 5 stitches between color changes without doing something with the yarn floating on the back. In this motif, I've broken the stitch rule, having 6 and 8 stitch runs going between the arms of the salmon pattern. I could have woven the strand in the back of the motif but I've opted not to. I wouldn't have a long float if this was a sleeve but since this is a yoke on a sweater, I figure this won't be a problem as fingers won't be getting into the floats. But that is something to take into consideration, especially if you're not experienced in doing colorwork. Long floats tend to make the fabric tension difficult to maintain and easily snag.

There are sources of pattern motifs from books to websites. You can search them out, or you can play with simple motifs like X's or O's, zigzags, checkers, waves, or flowers. What you want to consider in your design are simplicity, continuity, and harmony. Start with a central motif as your focus first. In my case, it's a flower motif. Then consider what you want to have as the background of the flower. Do you want the flower to stand out vibrantly or gently? Then consider what you want as a border. You want a very simple motif for the border. For this pattern, I had to also consider the points where the yoke is decreasing. Those points I made in one color except for the one where I'm changing the needle size.

Fill in one repeat of your pattern in the center section of your graph. Then fill in the next repeats on each side. Set your graph paper where you can see it from a distance, like 5 or 6 feet. What's happening to the pattern? Is your motif staying the same or is it changing to a different pattern? Is that something you want? Play with another repeat. Is it doing what you want it to do? Don't be afraid to discard an idea for another. Sometimes it takes a few doings to find the right combination. If you're stuck, set it aside and go looking at sweaters and other items that have been done with stranded colorwork. Observe what the patterns are doing and how they happen. What colors are being used? How are they being placed? Why is a particular color being used in one place? What would happen if it was moved to a different row of stitches?

Any questions? I'll answer them in a future posting. I'll post an exercise as well on color placement.