Sunday, July 30, 2006

One year

A year ago I decided to start journaling my journey through fiber online. It has been an interesting journey. I have readers but few commenters. I'm not as erudite as some bloggers but that's okay. This way I can share with you (and maybe inspire a few) to try something new instead of the same ole thing. Thank you for taking a peek at this nutty knitter's ramblings and giving a few words of encouragement. I'll be there to enable you to go beyond the plain.

The scarf and poncho phenomena have worked their way out of the hearts of the weekend knitter, leaving those folks wondering if it's worth taking the time to try different knitted things.


Get out there and talk with your local yarn store folks. Browse through the magazines (Interweave Knits this quarter has a great issue out. Even if they're beyond your skill level they're inspiring.) Check out books from your library if you have access. Surf the Internet. Read more blogs. Listen to podcasts. The beautiful thing about knitting is that it has so much potential for one to express one's creativity.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Gail asked about the Blue Heron mercerized cotton yarn and where she could get it for less than what her LYS asks for. Unfortunately I don't have any sources. I would contact Blue Heron Yarns to find out where you can find it. Even at $40 a skein it's a good deal for 1000 yards of handdyed fingering weight yarn.

Brooklyn asked about stitch pattern of the Rowan socks I'm working on. The stitch pattern is from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks and is called Woven stitch. I didn't find it in Barbara Walker's Treasury but it's a simple pattern:

Repeat of 4 stitches
Row 1, 2 - Knit
Row 3, 4 - *K2, P2*
Row 5, 6 - Knit
Row 7, 8 - *P2, K2*

Sharon Rose mentioned the Denise needles in response to the query I had about putting a long tube connector on two sets of circulars. I have a set but I don't like them. The cable in the middle doesn't allow the yarn to slide and I've had the tips come off while I've been knitting with them. The one thing about the tube connector I proposed is that it can double as a point protector when not in use as a connecting tube.

So if you have a comment or observation, don't be shy! I really do read them and do respond.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Despite blistering heat, the Stephens clan gathered at Grant's for family, feasting, and fun. All of the siblings of Earle and Virginia and their spouses were there as well as all three of Grant's children with their spouses and offspring and one of Pam's sons. Grant and Yvonne put on a grand spread and provided coolth for the adults and entertainment for the youngsters. There was plenty of room for folks to find comfort and a good time was had by all. There were a few misunderstandings, but nothing awful. Games of pinochle were played in the evening, including retraining one sibling and training a nephew and a nephew-in-law to much amusement. When the kids had too much of the heat, they had a place in the basement to cool down and watch movies. All the while there was food, food, and more food. No one starved.

When things were relatively mellow, I worked on this in Southwest Trading Co's Phoenix raspberry. It took me three tries to get the lace to work, but on the third try I resorted to markers and so far I have 3 1/2" of the back done. It will go fast. It's a nice break from the shawl without being heavy. On the plane I had with me some Opal socks of which I finished the foot part of one and started the foot of the second before working the heel (I didn't have my instructions for working the heel flap on toe-ups).

At night before I went to bed, I read Hotel Bemelmans by Ludwig Bemelmans of Madeleine fame. It's a series of stories he wrote of a fictional hotel called the Splendide and the goings on in the dining rooms of the hotel. It's been very amusing and biting with its commentary on the characters who are part of the operations as well as the clients who use the facilities for their dining and entertaining purposes. The Hotel Splendide is said to be the Ritz Carlton and all the scenes take place in the nineteen twenties and thirties, so the stories have all of these people from Society, celebrity, and wannabes before the age of media glam.

I had an amusing conversation with my grand-niece Lauren Saturday night. It was twilight and near her bedtime, but she was being a typical four year old. Lauren is very curious about things and quite intelligent. Combined with her strong will, her personality can make her into a formidable woman in the workplace. For now, it makes her a tough kid to raise because you don't want to quash that desire to learn new things but you also don't want her to do things she shouldn't be doing. During the reunion however Lauren was being very good and enjoyable, playing with her cousins and uncle Dean during the day. That evening, I had gone out to talk with one of my brothers-in-law, Dick, when Lauren came out. She took a seat and saw the bugs that were attracted to the lights on the pergola. "Fireflies!" she said.

"No, those aren't fireflies," I said. "They're moths and regular flies."

"Oh," said Lauren. "Will there be fireflies?"

"I don't think so. They don't live here."

"Oh. Where do they live?"

Dick said, "I remember seeing them in Pennsylvania."

"Where?" asked Lauren.

"Pennsylvania," I said.

Lauren thinks this over. "How can I get to Pennsylvania?"

"Well," I said, "you could fly there in a plane, or you could take a train, or you could ride in a car. The car would take a while to get there; I would take a plane."

"How long does it take?"

"About 6 hours."

She thinks this over, then says, "Then I will fly in a plane to Pennsylvania to go see fireflies."

Her dad appeared at the door to tell her that she had to go to bed in a couple of minutes. "But Dad," she said, "I haven't seen any stars yet!"

Aunt Leslie took care of that. I got up and looked, and sure enough there were a few appearing, including the handle of the Big Dipper and the North Star. So I called her over and showed them to her. She was so happy she went inside to tell her dad.

It's great being an auntie.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Just a few lines before I go catch my plane.

I had a dream last night that I had stopped to look at some sheep near some farm buildings and found that I had walked upon a co-op run by a religious community similar to the Amish. The women wore grey dresses and white linen caps; the men muted color shirts and dark trousers. They were in their twenties and were going to work to shepherd the sheep, process wool, and man the shop that attracted tourists. One of the women asked me if I had come to work. I told her, no, but I was interested in the fleece. "If you do some work for us, you can have some of the fleece." "Well, I know how to spin, but not very well." I found myself holding a bobbin of some of my handspun. She examined it and said, "I'll help you and you can spin yarn for us." There the dream ended.

It's the spirit of cooperation in this community we knitters and spinners have. Regardless of your age, those who know teach those who are learning. It doesn't matter who you are, what you are, where you're from, or how old you are. If I have a skill that you want to learn, I'll show it to you. The art has been passed from generation to generation for centuries. We are continuing the passage of the art to keep it alive.

Someone told me there was a woman making incredible items in a small town in France. Her mother had taught her how to knit, passing on the knowledge that her mother had given her. The woman had no one to pass on the knowledge. She knit beautiful things to sell, items of her own design from patterns passed down through the ages. And there she sits kntting away with no one to pass on her knowledge to. When she dies, so will the thread.

Now that the knitting community has become international thanks to the Internet, this woman's knowledge need not die. The trouble is, I don't remember who told me this nor did I get the name of the town. I know people who could contact her. So I feel like I'm holding this fragile thread and my hand is shaking because I'm afraid that I will break it.

I had forgotten the woman, but thanks to this blog the memory returned. I will try to find her again. I will pass on the knowledge. My brother Grant and his wife were in France. I'll ask them if they were the ones who had found the woman.

Stay cool!

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Tomorrow I leave for Spokane to visit the troops at my brother Grant's house (he's the tall one in the middle). It's going to be hotter there than it is in Portland but it looks like the evenings cool down more than they do in Portland. I hope so. I don't like heat. I think I've mentioned that before. When it's hot, my skin feels awful and I'd rather be soaking in a cold pool than sitting by the pool. There will be no pool where I'm going--only sprinklers for the kids to run around in--so I'm bringing a couple of small fans, my hat, my sunblock, and the lightest knitting I can muster and still be able to carry on a conversation: Opal Lollipop socks. If the house is cool enough, I hope to get in a few games of pinochle, cribbage, and dominoes with my siblings. I know my brother-in-law Dick is looking forward to playing cards with me. We always have a good time together.

The one thing I hope we don't do is talk politics, though if there is any politic talking going on, I hope it's with my brother Doug. He's a riot to listen to and can outargue my third brother Larry and his religious right leanings. My sister Pam stays out of such discussions, preferring to keep the peace, while my sister Shirley gamely tries to hold her own (she's on the religious right too). But if I know my brother Grant, he'll be wanting to keep the peace at his house and lay the rules down on the chief contenders. We've had gatherings that were pretty peaceful and others where some of us have taken refuge away from the chief offenders. Typical in any family, really.

I'm lucky to have the family I have. I came out to them in 1999 and none have turned me away from their home because of my orientation. My younger relatives embrace me as the fun aunt, the woman not afraid to show cool stuff or do fun things. Unless I'm at the point where I'm unable to move myself, I'll be racing up and down the corridors at the nursing home in my chair and tweaking the butts of orderlies and teaching my great-grand nieces and nephews silly songs to drive their parents crazy. I refuse to grow up to be a grump. Hee hee!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Thanks for the words of support. I'm doing much better now. I'll be glad when I'm through with menopause and my emotions aren't so whacked.

Good news! Earlier this week I saw an ad on Craigslist for a Schwinn Airdyne. Normally these run around $700 new but this was only fifty bucks. Score!! It runs beautifully and other than the computer no longer working is in excellent condition. So now I have something to work out on and try to get rid of my surplus avoirdupois.

Next weekend I'll be joining the troops in a family reunion up at my brother Grant's in Spokane. While we are there we'll be celebrating our eldest sister Pam's 70th birthday. She collects angels, so I'm making an angel for her from this. I just have to do the head, then I can starch the bjeezus out of the parts.

It's Stitch n Bitch night at Unraveled. I'll be taking my Tasha Tudor shawl to work on the edge. I've had it sitting here since last year and Maisie thinks it makes the most wonderful cat bed. But I have one more edge of the border to do. I should finish it don't you think?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Swallowed by your insanity

You get swallowed up in the events of the moment, wrench yourself in several directions, and wish you can escape. It's the choosing to extricate oneself out of an emotional whirl that many people forget is an option. Yes, your world is going to hell but you don't have to dwell on it. You don't have to live it every moment. It's only part of your world as a whole. Focus on a small part. A tiny teeny part. A part where you felt peaceful. A part where you saw wondrous beauty that took your breath away. Remember it. When other thoughts intrude, push them away and return to your peaceful spot.

I've been using this method to get through this time. My perimenopause has put my emotions into a real roller coaster so events that normally would not have caused much turmoil in my life are triggering waves that threaten to swallow me. I obsess. I can't focus on the tasks at hand. I don't hear people around me as I dwell on the event that has upset me so much.

My point of calm is an image of a waterfall cascading down a wooded cliff. When I find myself obsessing over something, I put a rubber band onto my left wrist and snap it, then bring up the image of the waterfall. The next time the obsession comes back, I snap the rubber band and remember the image. I've gotten now to the point where all it takes is the snap of the rubber band to stop the obsessing. Thank gawd!

The construction guys are busy installing sewer pipe and banging and beeping away. My neighbor Ruth was taking pictures of it this morning. She has pictures of the bank robber being cornered and captured by the CERT team and police Tuesday too. She has a lot of pictures of interesting things. I was glad she wasn't shot.

Tonight I'm off to go see Robert Altman's film "A Prairie Home Companion". Saturday I'm off to check out an Airdyne bike I found for sale in Newberg. Hopefully it's in good condition, for I need to exercise and I have very few options.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


The day is almost over. Did you have a lousy day? Commisserate with me then.

I started out the day with an upsetting email. I won't go into the details because the details don't need to be aired to the public. But it left me upset and feeling like a piece of sh82.

My doctor's appointment was today to check on my glucose alcohol level and my cholesterol. The glucose level was fine for being pre-diabetic. My cholesterol was through the roof. After all the work I did to alter my eating habits. This added to my feeling like a piece of sh82.

I went and had xrays of my knees in preparation for my visit with the knee surgeon. The consultation was short, but I spent an hour at his office, mostly waiting. Now I'm a pissed piece of sh82.

I go to my car and find that security has given me a ticket as an employee for parking in a non-employee spot in the parking structure. I storm to security to protest. I was told that if I had left a note on my dash, I would have not had the ticket. I'm an annoyed piece of sh82 who's also late for work thanks to the surgeon. (BTW I don't have to have surgery; just cortisone shots which will make me fat and physical therapy)

Work goes well. I get my work done and leave to go home. At the door of the building, security informs us that there was a bank robbery in the neighborhood and the police have cordoned off the area in search of the perp. So I take off to get groceries. I mean, what the hell, I need to get some stuff and figure by the time I'm done, they'll have the perp and I can go home. An hour later I head back and end up stuck two blocks at home. Turns out the perp is holed up in a van across the street from my house! WTF! I can't go home! Here I was, ready to go home to end the day with comfort food, bad tv, and my cats and I can't get there!

Well, I have a car full of groceries that I have to deal with. Where could I go? I could go back to the office, but I'd rather not. I would normally go to Ruth's but she's in the same predicament. I don't have a cell phone to call ahead, so I take the chance and head for Don and Bo's. No luck. They aren't home. I then think about going to Reid's, taking the chance that he's not seeing a client. Bingo! He's surprised to see me but very cordial. I also got a chance to meet Andrew, a friend of his, briefly before he takes off. I beg refuge and Reid takes me and my perishables in. He fed me home-cooked spaghetti and heard my tale of woe. By the time we were ready to watch a movie, the helicopters had stopped flying overhead and it was time to go home.

I got home in time to see the cops and FBI finishing up and all the neighbors outside comparing the experience with each other. Ruth was able to take pictures of the whole event while she was holed up in the basement. I was able to get into the house, fetch Buster from outside, and get my groceries in. No one was hurt.

So how was your day?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Sigh of relief

This morning after I was coherent enough to be able to count stitches, I checked out the work I had done in the wee hours and all went well. The Rose Trellis is now on a live row with the correct number of stitches. First thing I did after that was fix the chart so that I don't make that mistake again. We'll see what happens when the next repeat of the chart comes up.

When I was in Hawaii, I finished a pair of socks in Interlacements Toasty Toes Submarine colorway and started a new pair in Rowan 4 ply merino. This time, I wanted to work a texture pattern on solid color socks, so I chose basketweave stitch to use on the instep and the cuff. This shows the patch toe that I used for starting the sock. They were handy to have on hand while I was at the annual Suds o'Summer my friends Cathy and Bruce hold to celebrate Bruce's birthday. They never fail to start a conversation.

In the wee hours

It's two in the morning and usually I'm zonked out dreaming my weird dreams. Instead I'm working on this. Why? Because I was up early to start work at 6:30 am instead of 8:30 am, came home early, had dinner early, and was in bed early. Like 7 pm. After drinking a thermos full of coffee early in the day, which was more than I've had in a long time. All that stimulation knocked me out. So instead of fighting to go back to sleep, I'm taking the time to finish ripping out the mistake on the Rose Trellis. I worked on part of it at the office, but now I'm at the point of finding the row to work on. I may be further down than I think. I'll find out when I have a full row of live stitches.

This is what the beauty of lace makes you go through to achieve it. Is it worth it? For this, yes.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blessed coolth....

We've been having unusually cool weather these days, which on Independence Day made for really nice picnics and barbecues. It gave me the chance to open up the house and get the dust I've been pushing around lately out. Unlike Tallguy, I loathe summer and the heat. I don't function at all when it's hot. My mom was the same way; she said she turned into a puddle of ghee when it got above 85 degrees.

Rose Trellis Frogging

Ever since I started the next repeat of the Rose Trellis I've had to make an adjustment to make up for the two extra stitches the chart starts on. At the beginning of the row, I do a knit, then a yarn over, then add two knit stitches, then do the pattern. However, at a certain point, I started adding just one stitch instead of two, moving the pattern over one stitch on all the rows. I noticed that on the left hand side when I added the two stitches there that I had to add three, but it didn't dawn on me that the one stitch short on the right was the reason. It's been nagging me in the past few rows that there is something wrong. So after finding what I was doing wrong I've decided to rip out those incorrect rows back to the beginning of the chart. I'd rather have it right now instead of wrong later when it nags at me at the completion of the shawl.

Sigh. Another part of my lace shawl knitting apprenticeship. Right Master Ted? At least it isn't ripping out 800+ stitches. Only around 300 per row. And it's only *shrug* 12 rows.


The new Knitty is up, and while most of the items there are geared for more hip chicks who freeze in offices, there were a few items that I'd like to try out. The Baudelaire socks are quite nummy (the pattern would make a delicious sleeve treatment). The Julie beads make a really interesting textural contrast to smooth glass beads. The Klein Bottle hat looks similar in design to my own Klein Bottle, but mine is done with stockinette on the crown instead of ribbing all the way up. Crosspatch looks like a good hat candidate for the Dulaan project; one could even play around with other mosaic patterns for the sides. I've heard a few complaints that there were no sweaters in this issue, but the issue is dedicated to covering the extremities, not the body. Now to get some toner so that I can print the patterns for my files.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Basic silliness in the wake of soul review

I had a reminder that sometimes one can go flitting around in life with only one's thoughts and forget that there are obligations that must be met. Sometimes when those obligations are not met, people are hurt and misunderstandings occur. This morning I had one of those moments of feeling really guilty of being selfish and thoughtless in my actions and feeling very remorseful. I am not alone in this world and what I do affects others. It made me more conscious and resolute in doing my best in keeping my promises. Too many people go around being thoughtless and don't care to improve their behavior. I don't want to be one of them.

Goofy Sh82

I'm in one of those silly moods that comes after a moment of clarity. Usually it manifests itself in alliteration or weird observations. Like penultimate purveyor of paisley pants or Have you observed that in a lavatory when two people start washing their hands at the same time it's like a game of chicken to see who stops washing their hands first? What's your goofy sh82?


I'm working on a seat cushion cover in Classic Elite Weekend Cotton. So far it's coming out well (the pattern is in my head). Someone's probably has this out there as a pattern but I didn't want to hunt around. This was a break from the Rose Trellis: a quick project using *gasp* stash yarn. I hope I have enough....gulp!....since it's discontinued and the only yarn I have left besides the remainder of the blue skeins is some ivory. And I've put myself on a yarn-buying freeze.

Fourth of what?

Independence Day was spent working on cleaning up the house a little and keeping the cats indoors while people shot off their fireworks. I had neighbors shooting off what sounded like mortars behind me, but because of the trees I could see nothing. It was just as well as I was engrossed in a "Dirty Jobs" marathon (one of the few TV shows I watch regularly). Made cleaning up my clutter a much cleaner job to perform. Maisie spent the evening under the bed as the fireworks went into high gear and Sammy and Buster were anxious but relatively calm. Occasionally they'd climb into my lap for some kittylove, then they'd find a secluded corner nearby to sit and wait for things to calm down. After 11 pm, it was blissfully silent, which I thought it was due to my neighbors being considerate but learned later that it was due to an ordinance with a stiff fine for violators. It gets my thumbs up.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


I didn't get a chance to put in my tribute to my Dad for Father's Day as I was on my way to Hawaii. So here's to my Dad.

William Earle Sharp was born on September 1st, 1913, in a house in the Red Deer River valley of Alberta Canada. The town was Steveville, one of the many tiny places scattered amongst wheat fields and pioneer farms. The house he grew up in was a single construction one room shack with newspaper for wallpaper and no larger than your average living room. The only heat came from an iron stove and during the winter it was not uncommon for him to wake up with frost on his blankets from his breath. The tips of his fingers were permanently shortened from the cold.

His mother, Mary "Molly" Carr, came from a line of farmers that had come from rural New York to Alberta to make a living off the rich land. From what I have been told, Molly had a weak spot for men, falling in love then having her heart broken. She married Richard Sharp, an emigre from England, but after Dad was born he left her. Molly was able to have her marriage annulled and five years after Dad's birth married Frank Stephens. Earle never spoke of his natural father and it was understood that one didn't ask him about Richard. Up to his death Dad always felt that it was a man's duty to provide for his family and held those who didn't with great contempt.

Earle talked about his memories of growing up on the prairie but it was a hard life. When he was nine, Molly and Frank decided to immigrate to the US and went to Spokane. At that time, Earle changed his name from William Earle Sharp to Earle William Stephens, taking on his stepfather's surname. They ended up settling in Portland. Frank had a difficult time finding work, so Dad took a job selling newspapers to help pay the bills. During the depression, it was Earle who brought in the money from his newspaper sales, selling eggs from their chickens, and whatever work he could find. He never forgot those days of scrabbling for a living, giving up going to school so that his parents and he could have food on the table. Night school helped him earn a high school diploma, but it was said that he had at most five or six years of formal education. The rest was learned on the streets.

Earle married his first wife Marian in the midst of the Depression and together they had two children, Pam and Larry. Earle continued his work in the newspaper business, taking on a job of selling advertising space for the Oregon Journal. But their marriage did not last and Earle divorced Marian. World War II broke out and being a single dad with two children made Earle exempt from serving. He continued working to support his kids but also went out with his friends to the Press Club to socialize. During one of those gatherings, he met Virginia Brown and fell in love.

Ginny was reticent at first, but Earle was persistent, wooing her with letters, flowers, and nights on the town. Eventually she accepted his proposal of marriage, but there was a stipulation: he had to change his political party. He was a New Deal Democrat and Ginny's family were staunch Republicans. It was a compromise he was willing to make. It almost came to an end on their wedding day when during the reception his mother-in-law caught Earle and his buddies playing craps in the cellar. It was bad enough that they were caught gambling; it would have been worse if Earle's mother-in-law (a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union) had found the pint of whisky in the rafters. But Earle proved to be a devoted son-in-law.

With Earle remarried, there was the question of the children. They were now staying with their mother, but Earle was anxious to have them with him and his new wife. Eventually he won custody of Pam and Larry and they moved into the household just as Ginny was having her third child. Pam wasn't there long, but the house on Pacific street was too small for the family, so Earle and Ginny went househunting. A large house was found in the Irvington neighborhood and soon the family were all settled in.

A newspaper strike forced Earle to look for work elsewhere, first taking a job in construction. A friend gave him a tip on a job at a new television station and soon Earle was on the street selling advertising time for KOIN. He was fiercely loyal to them, going so far as buying a color TV when they first came out so that he could check to see that the ads he had negotiated were appearing when they should. He was known to the people at KOIN as Earle the Pearl for his sunny, optimistic outlook and jovial personality, and his hard work eventually won him the position of sales manager.

When Earle wasn't working, he was active in the Lion's Club and the Salvation Army. The Lion's Club gave him the networking outlet he wanted combined with providing good works for the poor. The Salvation Army became a part of his life when he was younger and scrabbling for a living on the streets and in return for keeping him on a moral path he gave of himself to them in hard work on projects. Every Christmas he cajoled his fellow Lions to go ring bells for the Salvation Army buckets. He took his children to the Salvation Army Children's Christmas Party to show them what their work did for easing poverty. He never forgot his past and how hard a life that was. It was important that his children understood and appreciated what it meant for them to be living well and to give to those who went without.

Unfortunately, one of the things about television is that stations change hands and with the changing of ownership comes changes of personnel. Dad was removed from the sales manager position and returned to selling advertising time, a blow to his pride that drove him to alcohol to find solace. By then most of his children had left home and one, a daughter, remained. Ginny tried to stop his drinking, but Earle had the genetic propensity towards alcoholism and he fell victim to its effects. He retired from KOIN but found himself bored and took on a job as a night security man at Portland Bottling. The long hours of standing on concrete and drinking at home took its toll on his body and he had to quit. By then, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and ten years after he retired he died in his sleep of a stroke.

I didn't know my dad well, for by the time I was old enough to start knowing him he was succumbing to alcohol. I remember a few times when we did things together: going to see the Portland Beavers play the Pittsburgh Pirates at Civic Stadium; a father-daughter dinner with the Lions Club; going fishing for trout. But I did not love my dad liked I loved my mom. We were two different personalities and mine was more like my mom's. My most persistent memories were of taking care of him when he was ill and later taking my mom to go see him in adult foster care. I would see the recognition in his eyes but he could not say my name. He was an intelligent, caring man, but it was on his terms. My brothers, especially Larry, tell me of the pressure they had been under from Dad to succeed in their lives.

But if you had a crying child, you could put the child in Dad's arms and the child would quiet. He loved children and reveled at the sight of his grandchildren. He was proud that he rose from being dirt poor to owning his own home and raising a successful family. It's that man that I honor and thank for giving me the gifts of optimism, persistence, and generosity to others in need.

Just for the record, I'm aware of the Salvation Army's stand on homosexuality. It's a source of conflict for me, because I have seen the positive effects of their work for the poor.