Friday, September 29, 2006


I did a swatch of the edging I want to do for the Shelter Shawl. It is Shark Tooth's Edging (Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns) and two points took me 40 minutes to knit up. I figure it will take me several weekdays to knit them up and the pattern is easy to memorize. It's a nice capping to a pattern that has a theme of light and radiance and energy to move from the darkness of abuse to a new life of possibilities.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Sorry, no pictures. I forgot the camera in the flurry of getting out the door (I also forgot my music for choir practice; good thing I'm the librarian and had the library with me).

The Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival takes place in late September at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby. It's not as big as the Black Sheep Gathering but it does offer a good selection of fibery items for freaks enthusiasts like me. Most are local people selling the year's production but there are also outside folks who come in. I recognized one vendor who came from Utah to sell spindles and wheels. My goal this year was to find Romney roving I could use to practice spinning on a drop spindle. While there were many kinds of fiber available from merino top to guanaco wool, most fiber was either washed but unprocessed or processed into top. One outfit had a veritable palette of dyed Romney locks that you could bury your hands into. Very tempting but not what I was looking for. I did find some tucked in a corner of a vendor's booth: creamy white Romney roving that was nummy to touch that whispered "Learn with me!" At the same booth was a tiny spinning wheel that looked like a child's wheel but turned out to be an antique wheel from the Balkans. The vendor told me that all the wheels found there were small because they took up much less room than the wheels we're familiar with. With its small ratio it spun very quickly, which is ideal for making very fine thread and yarn. The wheel itself was less than a foot in diameter; the distaff above the flyer was three feet tall.

My thrill was finding the booth for Interlacements Yarns and meeting Judy and Clay Ditmore. I initially pulled myself away from the booth but later returned heeding the call of Toasty Toes yarn. It was rewarding as I will tell you later. For now, let's just say I've been floating like I'm in love for the past 24 hours and making plans. And no it's not a girl.

Tee hee....

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gimme shelter

I'm a quarter of the way through the Shelter Shawl. I'm in the easy section (knit like the wind, adding a yarnover to create a spiral of increases). The edging will be more detailed. I have a couple of edgings in mind that will be harmonious with the design. One is the Beech Leaf edging; the other is Godmother's edging. I haven't decided which I'll put on, but it will be challenging to get it done.

Sock Wars yarn

And the winner is NeedleGirl! I'm going to take up her offer of making a pair of socks for her for handspun and a ride in one of the taxis. Squeal!

Coming up: my experiences of the Oregon Flock & Fiber Fest. I dare you to get drunk and say that five times without making it sound dirty.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lunch note

A quick posting while I'm at lunch here at the office. The foot is doing okay. I've been struggling with the herringbone faggot stitch I'm working on the Shelter Shawl that's going to be raffled off. Mostly mucking up a stitch then ripping back then dropping a stitch and ripping back again to fix the previous rip. I have to have it done by October 16th. WILL SHE DO IT? Who will give out first? The shawl or the knitter? Stay tuned, fans!

Yeah, it's nuts. But I'm using stash yarn, kids!

Friday, September 15, 2006


After having gone out and picked up sock yarn for Sock Wars, I found myself having second thoughts about doing it. It was further confirmed today as I was using a crutch to help take the weight off my left foot. The tendons in my right hand were making little protesting noises warning me of impending carpal tunnel from all the data entry, the knitting, and the pressure of the crutch handle or cane against my palm. It told me that speed knitting socks was not a thing I could participate in without risking severe damage or crippling from overuse. So I have sent in my withdrawal from Sock Wars. Sorry, Don and Mel. You can't torment me with your size 12 feet.

However, if someone is nice to me and doesn't mind waiting a little while, I could knit up a pair of lovely purple socks....


I can't resist putting my skills to work when it comes to fundraising. If I can make something beautiful that will bring money to a good cause, I don't mind putting in the effort. So instead of Sock Wars I'm focusing my knitting time on the shawl for raising money for the West Women's and Children's Shelter, which is one of the shelters available for victims of domestic violence. There will be another Sock Wars according to YarnMonkey if there is enough demand for one, but you can never raise enough money for protecting the helpless.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Getting the boot

One doesn't realize just how complex the structure of the foot and the ankle are until an anatomical picture is viewed. I think if I had done better in chemistry in high school I would have been pursuing a medical career because I find the human body just so darn interesting. Researching the medical issues that have surfaced over time in my body has been so fun to do. But I'm not a hypochondriac. Case in point: my ankle and foot aching several days and my being reluctant to go once more to the doctor after having seen him just two weeks before for my cholesterol.

But it turns out that I was wise in seeking medical advice. In the last couple of days I had been thinking twice about going to see a podiatrist because my foot and ankle were feeling better after treating them conservatively like a sprained ankle. You know the routine. The R.I.C.E. method: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate (if you don't know it, you know it now). But after seeing the ultrasound pictures of my foot and how the affected area appears compared to healthy tissue, I was glad that I didn't listen to my head and opt to not go. Turns out I have a torn ligament (the peroneus longus). Everything is still attached, but the tissue is very inflamed within my foot and making it and my ankle immobile for 6 weeks is the treatment required. After that will be a follow up visit to see how it's doing and whether it is ready for physical therapy or if I need to have surgery. So now I have a lovely walking cast boot to wear for 6 weeks. The price of going shopping for new clothes.

On the needles

I've put projects on hold because of my tendonitis flaring up in my hands (a lot of data entry and mousework at the office) but it hasn't stopped me from doing stuff. I took a cone of the Pendleton wool and my niddynoddy and started skeining up the wool for washing later, finishing up two skeins today. My partner in crime at the office looked at me funny while I was doing it at lunch. The look didn't change when I explained what I was doing. It is a big cone of yarn. Futile? Not after it's washed.

One of the women who is active in the company's Mission activities came to me with a proposal of selling craft items for one of the women's shelters here in town. I suggested a silent auction and said I would think of what I could do. The event will happen the third week in October, so I had to think of what I could do that would be quick and portable and attractive. I have a skein of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace in a lovely colorway they call cedar which is a nice heathered olive green. Last night's insomniac reading took me through EZ's Knitter's Almanac and I read her story of the Pi Shawl. My first shawl was a Pi Shawl and I finished it in a month. I could do another. So all afternoon my mind was whirling with possibilities. Now I find I have a nice stash of Cherry Tree Hill laceweight in blues and purples and more yardage and already wound into balls to work! Ai!! Which yarn? What size needle? Plain or eyelets? Or work a single line of spiralling eyelets and do a backwards e loop instead of a yarnover for the increase row?

I think I have it worked out. First dinner, then sit down with the needles and start knitting.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years

People say they knew what they were doing when certain events occurred in their lives: Kennedy's assassination; the Cuban missile crisis; John Lennon's assassination; the Challenger explosion. I was too young to remember the first two. I remember sitting in my friend's dorm room when we got the news and later looking at the Rolling Stone with Annie Leibowitz' photographs. I have no recollection of what I was doing when the Challenger exploded. But the day four hijacked planes crashed, killing over 4000 people, is very vivid in my mind.

I woke to NPR talking about the first plane's crash into the World Trade Center and heard the announcement of the second plane crashing there. I heard about the plane crashing into the Pentagon and later the plane dropping to crash in rural Pennsylvania. I watched briefly on TV the coverage while I dressed for work and fed my cats, not sure what to think. When I got to work, everyone was listening to the radio. Few spoke. Many were numb. Not much work got done to say the least but we were together. We could look to each other for some sort of comfort.

That solidarity really came into being when all of a sudden it was announced that there was the possibility of a bomb in the building and we had to leave it NOW. Don't stop to pick up your purse. Get. Out. Now. We piled out of the building and across the street to a neighboring parking lot in the sunny September noontime, frightened by this threat. It was a good hour before they gave us the go ahead to return to our offices to pick up our things. We were told to go home. It was just as well as we would have been next to useless for the rest of the day. The towers had collapsed by then and we were all shaken from the bomb threat.

Since then, I've had to really think about my own beliefs. I'm one for negotiation and diplomacy to ensure the peace. I was ambivalent about going to Afghanistan and definitely opposed to invading Iraq. It was a difficult thing to decide upon. I could not deny the families of those who had been killed their anger and desire for resolution. But I could also see that retaliation for the attacks would take us down a path of no return. The war we would be fighting wouldn't have a simple front line but many front lines with many innocents in the way. I got into an argument with a friend of mine over this because she was for full invasion. She had lived in the London area during the time of many IRA bombings. She understood what it meant to live in terror. But I also saw the results of the years after then. People grew tired of the militancy and the fear. They chose peace. In the meantime, both sides developed ways of dealing with terrorism. It led to the breakup of another attempt to hijack planes in London. Yes, I was afraid when the bomb threat was called in. But I also was thinking who was the stupid jerk who was preying on our fears? Was it a patient angry about his bill? Was it just a copycat who was getting his ya-yas from frightening an office building full of financial clerks and analysts? I was no longer afraid. I was pissed. But not pissed enough to demand that the army be called in and hunt down the idiot, then leave him for us to rip him to shreds.

I think what bothers me the most is the arrogance that some people have that because we are Americans and live in a country that has a large economic and military effect on world affairs. It's an arrogance born of not knowing poverty, of not experiencing government corruption, of feeling that the privilege is God-given and damn those who don't follow in the path of the righteous. I was aware of that arrogance prior to the attacks, but the behavior of the nation since the attacks has reinforced this in my eyes, and made me sick to think that these are my fellow countrymen.

I will not leave my country. This is but a phase that will pass. I will remain here doing what I can to make change happen and support those who also desire change. I will sing for the voiceless. I am an American.

Knitting content

Whew! If it weren't for knitting, I'd probably be curled up in my chair with my nose buried in a thick book trying to escape all the media circus. I started working on the second patch go-round for my sister's dog sweater on a set of Crystal Palace circular zeroes and ran into the problem of the join. I ended up ordering a set of Addi Turbos from Woodland Woolworks. I don't want to do too much fine work right now as I'm feeling twinges from the muscles in my right arm tightening up again and cutting off the nerve circulation to the thumb and forefinger. Must be ready for Sock Wars. I can't wait to start on the Araucania! In the meantime, I'll check out the latest Knitty and maybe even cruise MagKnits pattern archive for goodies, snicker!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Building the arsenal

Sock Wars is coming up soon. Reading Don's blog led me to the entry Yarn Monkey entered on what yarn is needed for the upcoming pattern. So today I went out to fetch my arsenal.

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I'm a tight knitter. The pattern calls for a gauge of 22 stitches = 4 inches / 30 rows = 4 inches. That's 5 1/2 stitches an inch, close to worsted. The pattern is calling for DK weight on size 5s. Well, I've done DK weight socks on size 5s. They were my first socks. The stitches are too far apart to work for working socks, so I'm going a yarn size larger to get gauge. Sock fabric to be comfortably wearable and long lasting must be firm. The Araucania Nature Wool is a light worsted that should work for socks. That's if I get a woman. If I get a man, the butter colored Nashua will work. Unless he wants vibrantly purple socks. *wink*


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A fellow Stumptowner and lister, Gary, is the king of treasure hunters in my book. He can come out of a Goodwill with an armload of items one wouldn't dream of finding. Today I must have had his touch because I came out of the Goodwill outlet store with a Folkwear pattern for the French cheesemakers smock and a handmade knitted scarf made from Noro yarn. The outlet store visit was an exploration sort of thing, going there en route to Abundant Yarn to fetch some fine point needles for the dog sweater patch. I was expecting it to be organized with sections of items, but it was a true outlet store. Bins filled with store castoffs were spread over a warehouse floor. People were digging through them for whatever they could find and items were sold by the pound. I didn't want to stay there long because of my ankle, so I made the rounds of a few of the bins. The scarf lay in the corner of one bin. The pattern lay in another. The pattern was complete and had never been used. The scarf had no holes or cuts and appears to be unblocked. Someone went to a lot of work doing seed stitch with what looks like three balls of Noro (I think it's Kureyon). And to think they ended up in a Goodwill outlet store!

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Pendleton Woolen Mills, famous for their blankets and Native American motif items, has an outlet store not far from Abundant Yarn and the Goodwill store. It was a day for playing, so I swung in there to see what they had. They were having a fabric sale on their surplus yardage but I was most interested in their surplus wool yarns. They run about 800 yards a pound I learned after picking up three large cones amounting to 3 1/2 pounds. At ten bucks a pound, you can't beat it. If the gauge is right, I may use it to make my Rogue sweater that I'm thinking of doing later this year (Abundant has a knitalong class). It will have to be washed first before I use it because it's coated with a special coating for weaving, but you can't beat the price. They also have instructions on how to Koolaid dye the yarn, but I like the natural color.

Book List Meme

Don tagged me on this with my permission.

1. One book that changed your life: The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien. I discovered this book when I was a freshman in high school and hungry for something of substance yet be entertaining. It was the bridge for my adventures into adult fantasy and science fiction. Cat Among The Pigeons by Agatha Christie was my introduction into adult mysteries.

2. One book that you've read more than once: I have several that I read over and over again. With each reading I find something new or see something in a different perspective. The one that gets the most wear is "The Riddle of Stars" trilogy by Patricia McKillip, which includes "The Riddle-Master of Hed", "Heir of Sea and Fire", and "Harpist In The Wind". It's the story of a man's transformation from a reluctant leader of a small community of farmers to a powerful wizard with dangerous enemies desiring his eradication.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: Some say Shakespeare, some say the Bible. I would want something that would help me maintain my humanity yet keep me amused. Most likely a complete edition of Sherlock Holmes mysteries.

4. One book that made me laugh: I love humor, both in illustrated form and written. For politics, I love Molly Ivins. For culture, Roy Blount Jr and his take on Southern American culture. For comics, Charles Addams and Gahan Wilson. The book of humor I read over and over again is Molly Ivins' "Molly Ivins Can't Say That Can She?" Her take on Texas politics and "bidness" is just a hoot.

5. One book that made you cry: I admit it. I cried when Dumbledore died in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." I knew that Harry would have to be released to deal with his nemesis on his own, but the loss of the most beloved father figure in his life was hard.

6. One book that you wish had been written: A memoir by my father's father, describing his life from when he was born in England to his death in a small town in Nebraska. He was never a part of his son's life and my dad refused to say anything about him. I would love to learn why he emigrated to Canada and what he did during all those years.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: Two come to mind for the impact they had on the people that wreaked awful havoc upon the societies they inhabited: "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler, and "Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong", also known as the The Little Red Book. Religious books have been used for evil but they have also provided great good and inspiration. But these two particular books have had no such redeeming legacy.

8. One book you're currently reading: I'm between books but I have "Witness for the Prosecution" by Agatha Christie waiting in the wings. The last one I've finished was "Full Cry" by Rita Mae Brown, a mystery taking place in the foxhunting community of Virginia.

9. One book you've been meaning to read: I have many books from my mother's library that are either history or biographical that I haven't read. I also have books that I've purchased but not read, some on heavy subjects that I don't feel ready to tackle.

10. Tag 6 people: I won't unless you want me to.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, better known as the Yarn Harlot, came in to Portland yesterday to tout her latest book "Knitting Rules!" There was some confusion as to when she would be speaking (Powell's said 7 pm; she said 7:30 pm), but once she arrived and had a chance to get a bite to eat and rest a bit, she came out and regaled us with one of her trademark essays. She didn't fail to amuse, taking all of us whacked out knitters in stride and much charm. It was hard to be restrained in the atmosphere of so much cameraderie that a group of knitters can generate. So Ms McPhee, if I seemed a bit over exuberant, please forgive me. You're published; I'm not.

My plan was to leave work and go directly to Powell's on Hawthorne to secure a decent parking spot and a chair at the meeting place. I ended up going home and changing my clothes because one: I had forgotten my camera and two: it was too warm to be wearing nylons. It turned out that although I had left later than I had planned I was still in good stead, securing a fabulous parking spot around the corner from the store (thank you Asphalta, goddess of parking!) and a chair in the front row. I parked there with my knitting and proceeded to wait the 2 hours before SPMcP arrived. I had brought with me the helmet liner that I'm making for my youngest nephew, who is currently stationed in Baghdad, and the Opal Lollipop socks. I had fetched dinner at the office cafe but since it was spaghetti, I opted to hold off eating until after the book signing. I would already have mohair fibers all over me. It wouldn't be good to have tomato sauce stains as well.

Powells overrun with knittersThe group was a varied bunch: young and old; moms and daughters and granddaughters; knitting buddies; the hip and the not-so-hip; exuberant and shy. One gal behind me had come from Tillamook to see SPMcP. Another was spinning on a drop spindle while holding her dog on her lap. The owner of Tangle Knitting Studio was seated next to me. One young mom had her 4 year old daughter on her lap, knitting needles in hand, knitting some red yarn. By the time SPMcP had arrived, little Elizabeth had 2 rows done.Elizabeth knitting

SPMcP of course brought The Sock, what appears to be the mate of the one that was traveling around earlier, so she took her pictures of the crowd with The Sock, Elizabeth with The Sock, and I'm sure a number of others with The Sock. There wasn't much of The Sock but my Opal Lollipop got to pose with The Sock. Glee!


I gave her my card and scooted out of there but not before seeing her receive a hat and Socks That Rock sock yarn from Tina Newton of Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

Thank you, Stephanie Pearl McPhee, for coming to Portland! Next time, ask a local before walking from a yarn shop to the next book venue (she walked from Yarn Garden, 1 1/2 miles away, to Powell's on Hawthorne. Up hill. In the heat).

Monday, September 04, 2006

Everybody say "ARRRRGH!!!"

I'm cruising along on the Indian logo for my sister's dog sweater and take it with me to my LYS Saturday for a morning of knitting when Lisa tells me that the yarn I'm doing it in is superwash. Yes. Superwash. Won't felt a bit. May shrink a little but not felt.

I think I'll use it as a patch on the back of a knitted jacket. It's too nice to abandon. In the meantime, I'll tweak my chart a bit and use some FELTABLE fine gauge yarn for shot number two.


Thanks everyone who are posting comments. It at least tells me that I'm not only having people see my blog but feel compelled to add their own feedback. That's part of the fun of blogging is connecting with others in the ether.

On my statin regime, Carol and Jan posted comments on the cramps I've been experiencing. I've had leg cramps prior to going on statins. It's usually a sign that I'm not taking enough calcium or my potassium level is low. I had the cramping problems the first month I went on the statin, but now my body chemistry has evened itself out on the regime and am not experiencing that problem. I discussed the cramping problem with my doctor when I followed up after a month of being put on the statin and he agreed with my route of treatment. Thanks for the tips.


Sock Wars is coming. Only 18 days away. Don and Mel, you better get your fingers limber. I don't think I'll be getting your size 12 feet in the first round, but I'm gathering up my support staff and I'm a-gonna be flying on those needles! Watch out NeedleGirl! I'll have you crying in your Austins! Rrraawwwrr!!!!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Labor Day

Labor Day was initially conceived as a day to honor the guy in the pits, the girl at the sewing machine, and the working stiffs toiling in awful conditions in order to put food on the table for their families. At the time it was conceived in the late nineteenth century, many workers were working in dangerous or body breaking conditions for as little as the business owners could get away with. There were no pensions, no health care plans, and no representation for the worker in financial considerations of the business. The union movement was building up to address the issues. The first Labor Day was celebrated in 1882 in New York City by the members of the Central Labor Union and Oregon was the first to pass legislation to make it a statewide holiday in 1887.

Nowadays, the image of a union is not very positive. Contracts negotiated in the past in the auto industry are now hobbling the big manufacturers, especially General Motors. Teachers' unions appear to favor a system of seniority, keeping teachers that no longer teach effectively while paying more effective teachers less than what they deserve. Transit strikes extract the ire of commuters and government union pensions suck budgets dry. The high wages that unions have been able to obtain have raised the cost of labor so that we cannot compete with low wage countries like China and India. That is what we see in the news.

While there are many complex issues out there related to unions, remember that the labor movement brought to the average working man things we now take for granted: a 40-hour work week; pensions; health care coverage; a means of arbitrating safer working conditions; minimum wage and overtime wage provisions; child labor laws. You don't have to belong to a union to garner good benefits.

Today's workplace is more and more geared toward service-related industries. While some jobs don't have the danger factor like coal mining or steel working, the hours that are demanded to maintain efficiency wear people down. Ask anyone who is a supervisor in an office how they are paid and chances are they're salaried. It means that regardless of how long you're working in a day there, you're paid the same. This is something you see in the computer industry amongst engineers and programmers.

I count myself fortunate that I'm in a good paying job with excellent benefits. I've worked in jobs that didn't have those things. So this Labor Day as you're noshing on barbecue raise your cup in a toast to the working men and women who stepped up to bring to us a better life. They were more than the men and women with smudged faces. They were also the people outside of the working poor who believed in a greater good for all when the working man is treated with dignity.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Walking wounded

I think the Middle Age Fairy has hit me with a major whammy this year. First it was the perimenopause, then it was the cholesterol. Now it's stupid stuff that I can't figure out how the hell it happens.

A few months ago, I noticed that I had swelling in my left ankle that I couldn't explain. When I asked my doctor about it, he said it was possibly lymph buildup and it comes with ageing. While I was going through the first month of taking the statin for my cholesterol, I was experiencing leg cramps more than usual and one cramp occurred in my left foot just below the ankle. There was swelling and pain and eventually the pain went away but not the swelling. When I went on my shopping excursion last week, both my feet were ready to secede but my left foot in particular was hurting. I did the RICE treatment, thinking that maybe a strained a muscle, but the pain hasn't really subsided that much. Well, I'm now scheduled to go see a podiatrist because it's possible I may have strained or torn one of the ligaments just below my ankle.

So now I'm hobbling around with my sympathy cane to keep the weight off it. Just when I'm trying to increase my exercise. Guess I'll just have to do presses with the cats.

Have a great weekend everyone!