Sunday, December 28, 2008


Portland finally got its thaw after two weeks of snow and ice. We got fourteen inches at the airport but other locations got much more around the city. The 21st was the beginning of the renewed dump of snow that ended up burying the city.

On Friday the thaw began and when I woke to head out to breakfast at the Burger Bar I was pleased to see this

Today my street looks like this. Nature shoveled my walk for me. Yay!

Yesterday I was able to get out without chains and saw the Portland Gay Men's Chorus's holiday concert. It was such a treat to be able to get out and hear great music. The chorus was missing a number of members because of the weather but they sounded wonderful. I was able to meet up with a few friends there as well so got a nice dose of Christmas cheer.

I started another project, this one to help keep my hands busy without putting too much strain on them. It's a lace curtain for the back door window to replace the tulle I currently have draped over it. It's made of Louet KidLin, a blend of kid mohair and linen, and will have some body to it with fluff to soften the edges. The pattern's a very simple one from the Barbara Walker Treasury. When it's long enough I'll add an edging that I have yet to pick out.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow cat

I have been blessed with a cat that doesn't mind the weather. He'll run outside when it's raining or snowing. He does draw the line on strong wind but most creatures are sensible about that. So this morning now that the wind has died down, Buster was anxious to go outside to play in the snow.

The flakes are soft and light, good for digging into

When he's had enough he comes in.

Those white flecks? Snow. And not a shaken paw or shiver of revulsion. A bite to eat and he's back out again.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Things to do on a snow day

Explore websites suggested by knitsibs, like this one and make creepy pictures.

Or spin up the fiber sample from one of your spinsibs. This is from Abstract Fibers, BFL colorway Shady Glade, 2.5 oz. on the Louet s10. Yes, Virginia, that is a laceweight single you see there on Louie. It can be done.

It's also a good opportunity for slipper socks to be finished and new ones cast on for moi because the east wind's blowing hard and the wind chill's near zero. Even Buster won't go outside in this and he likes snow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Turning from Miss Sunshine to Crabby Patty

I like Christmas. I like the novelty, the decorations, the festiveness of the season. I like lights and presents and the delight of the time. But it's getting to feel like people have had way too much sugar and are bouncing off the walls and turning into two creatures: bratty children and crusty old grumps. The Brats are the ones who insist on having it their way no matter the situation, disrupting the routine and peace and quiet in order to get attention. They're the ones who demand certain things in the store, who squeal at gatherings, and chatter about gifts to get. The Grumps are the ones who have slowly had their spirits sucked away by frustration. They're the ones who liked the Christmas season but now it's time to move on to other things, like rotating the tires and getting the receipts ready for tax season. The Grump is the one in the checkout line behind the Brat who is arguing over the price of the mp3 player and silently wishing they had an axe to resolve the issue.

Tonight I came home feeling like a Grump. And I don't like it. I likened it to turning into an old spinster with her hair in a bun and a too tight girdle. What caused it? A flock of Brats. Brats twittering about the snow falling outside. Brats twittering about Christmas gifts they're getting for their families. Brats twittering about the gifts they got from their secret pals. It was enough that I had to move to another desk to work, which sucks because the view outside my cubicle is beautiful. The snow that was falling this morning was very pretty, nice big fat flakes that just said Christmas. I just didn't need the constant commentary from the Brats freaking out about it despite the fact that they were going home in five hours, giving ample time for the stuff to melt (which it did) and the roads to clear (which they did).

So this evening I'm turning on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on the 'puter, brewing a big pot of decaf tea, and sitting with my knitting for a pleasant evening of hilarity and fun. No Brats Included. I'm hoping it will quash the Grump in me so that I'll be more hospitable tomorrow.

Fiber Stuff

A couple of days ago a thread of conversation on the GLBT Knit list ran to dyeing with Koolaid. Someone mentioned a list of things and another said it sounded like a carol. Somehow my mind clicked in the right places and came up with this lovely piece of doggerel.

Sung to "My Favorite Things" with apologies to Rogers & Hammerstein.

Bottles of yellow and purple and pink

Red, blue and aqua and a big heavy sink

Buckets and winders and bobbins of string

These are a few of my dyeing things.

Mordants and fixes and bags made of plastic

Microwaves, stewpots and bands of elastic

Warp boards for striping and recipe schemes

These are a few of my dyeing things.

When the dog bites, when the kid screams, when I’m feeling sad.

I go to the basement and boil up some dye and then I don’t feel so bad.

Cotton and linen and baby alpaca

Even ole wool if that’s what you are afta’

Soak it, exhaust it, then hang from a swing.

This is what I do with dyeing things.

When the car blows, when the spouse whines, when I’m feeling sad,

I go to the basement and boil up some dye and then I don’t feeeeel sooooooo baaaaaaad!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December adventure

Snow doesn't come to western Oregon often. It's more likely to appear as rain or flurries. But this year we've been struck with the first of what the forecasters are saying are a series of storms that will accompany the cold air that has dropped from up north. For some of you folks in northern climes in the US this may not seem much but for Oregonians it's an event and we aren't as prepared for it as we could be. Besides, the stuff has so much moisture it turns to ice almost immediately so it's treacherous around here.

The concerts Confluence put on went well and despite the weather were well attended. When word of the coming snowstorm was confirmed most of our group who lived in Portland planned on returning as soon as possible Sunday night from Corvallis, which is normally a drive of a little less than 2 hours. Because of accidents and tie ups on the freeway, most folks didn't get home until after midnight. Emails telling their tales of sitting in stranded cars went out from their phones. The snow had started falling in earnest around 6 pm while we were taking down the risers and cleaning up the place in preparation for our Christmas party. By the time I headed out with my friends Sam and Clark to stay the night with them, there were a few inches on the ground and blowing wind.

Sam rode with me on the way to the house, for their house was in the hills over Albany and they knew the back roads well enough to know which had the least elevation. I hadn't driven in a snow storm at night before but knew enough to just go slow and steady in low gear. The Bright Red Bug with her new shoes took the challenge gallantly. We got to the house without any problems and settled in for a long winter's snooze.

The next day I hoped that the roads were more clear and for the most part the main highways were. But all the side roads and lesser traveled streets were glazed with ice. After a bit of a struggle to get my chains on my tires, Sam and Clark sent me on my way with a belly full of blueberry pancakes and bacon. The chains worked well on the ice so I was able to get to the highway without any problem. About halfway into the journey, however, I noticed there was extra noise coming from the chains. At first I thought it was that they had somehow shifted and gotten loose, but I learned later on that my driving on the pavement too fast with them broke a few of the links on the crossbars so they were banging on my wheelwells. It reminded me of a story Mom told of coming back from the beach with a station wagon full of hungry tired kids and Dad and crossing over the coastal mountains in the snow. They had one chain set with a loose string and it would go BANG BANG BANG on the fender. So I crawled my way home, banging away.

Four and a half hours after I left I got home, exhausted and ready to call it a night. I walked in the door to be greeted by the cats letting me know how hungry they were and why the heck I didn't leave more food for them and just where the hell was I all these hours. Then I noticed that the house wasn't very warm. When I checked the thermostat, sure enough there wasn't any heat. My furnace was on the fritz.

On Saturday after I had run some errands I noticed that the heat wasn't on and found that something in the furnace had indeed tripped an error code. The thought of having no heat in the house while I was gone was not a good one, so I called the furnace repair with hopes that they would be able to fix it in time for me to be able to get to concert in Salem. They did and I left with the confidence that my children and pipes would be warm. So when I came home to the house being chilled I wasn't happy. Not so much that the furnace didn't get fixed but the prospect of having to figure out how to pay for the repairman. It would work out, I figured, and called them again this morning. Sure, they said, we'll be over. I explained to the bookkeeper my situation and she said she'd work things out with me. So they came over, tried again to figure out what was tripping the furnace's brain, then left with my house thawing out. It was nice to come home to find the house nice and warm.

So more snow is forecast for tomorrow and the weekend. As long as the power doesn't go out, I think I'll be fine. Otherwise, I'll be shoving the piano away from the fireplace and burning my recycling.

Christmas meme

Taken from Persistent Illusion while waiting for the furnace repairman.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I'm moving more and more towards gift bags. I like them for their reusability. Of course there will be items that no way can you wrap in a gift bag unless you like the ones that have HEFTY printed on the side.

2. Real tree or artificial? When I had trees, they were always real. Now I opt for real greens for a wreath or garland.

3. When do you put up a tree? After Thanksgiving. Nowadays I don't do a tree at all because I have way too much clutter around, but I like a nice wreath that can carry over through the winter. Trader Joes has eucalyptus ones that smell so nice and are so different.

4. When do you take the tree down? Between Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, when it's homemade.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I always remember my first stereo system. Big hurking box that overwhelmed everything else. It had a turntable and 8-track tape deck. My first record was "K-Tel's Dy-Na-Mite Hits" and first 8 tracks were Elton John's "Captain Fantastic" and Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like An Eagle". I was in heaven.

7. Hardest person to buy for? I really don't have one. Usually it's men I have a tough time buying for if I do, but I somehow find something interesting.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My friend Ruth. She loves frogs, especially exotic frogs, so just about anything having to do with frogs is a treat.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? No.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. There's something about getting a letter in the mail from old friends that makes the season so different. I've moved to just sending out letters instead of card cards but I print them on festive paper.

11. Worst Christmas gift you've ever received? Nothing comes to mind. I think I blanked out those things.

12. Favorite Christmas movie? I've fallen in love with The Polar Express. I love good animation and that one in particular just appeals to so many things I love about Christmas.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? The list gets written up in October since there will be knitted projects in the mix. I do a large chunk of it between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I pick out a day and make it a fun day event. I especially like going to the funkier neighborhoods to find things. The response they get is such a treat.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I have a white elephant box for gifts received as part of exchanges and such. They make the rounds.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas. Really good dipping chocolate. I would sneak into my mom's store of the stuff she'd get from Van Duyn's for dipping nuts. On one of my first solo trips out Christmas shopping I stopped at a Van Duyn's to get my own chocolate and wound up with a hunk of dark chocolate. It wasn't the same, but it was still good.

16. Lights on the tree? I don't put up a tree so I don't have lights up, but when I do decorate I have white and multis.

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night. I'm not Christian but that's such a beautiful song.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Lately I've been more a stay at home person. December is such a hectic month for me that I relish having the quiet time.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, indeed, ma'am.

20. Open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Mom and Dad had Christmas on Christmas Eve so that the kids got a good night sleep. One Christmas my brother came down with his three kids and we had Christmas in the morning. My sister convinced me to do my hair in rollers. I slept on the floor while my nieces and nephew were up and down all night. Got no sleep but had beautiful hair. Swore I'd never do that again.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The constant assault on the senses from commercials, followed by the nearly savage mentality of the shoppers looking for just that one thing that Dad wants.

22. Favorite ornament or color? The rich old fashioned reds, greens and creams of Victorian style ornaments. Just love 'em.

23. What do you want for Christmas this year? A nice smooth month and year end process for the next few weeks. Really.

24. Angel on the tree top or a star? We never had a tree topper when I grew up except for a green light at the very top. I found a really cool star tree topper for my tree when I left home.

25. Favorite Christmas dinner? Prime rib at my brother's house. Mmmm. Christmas beast.

Have a safe week everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

100 things I have done in my life

I found this on Mollywobble's blog. I may not do all of them but it's fun to see what I have done. I did the ones in italics. 1. Started my own blog 2. Slept under the stars 3. Played in a band 4. Visited Hawaii 5. Watched a meteor shower 6. Given more than I can afford to charity 7. Been to Disneyland/world 8. Climbed a mountain 9. Held a praying mantis 10. Sung a solo 11. Bungee jumped 12. Visited Paris 13. Watched lightning at sea 14. Taught myself an art from scratch 15. Adopted a child 16. Had food poisoning 17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty 18. Grown my own vegetables 19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France 20. Slept on an overnight train 21. Had a pillow fight 22. Hitchhiked 23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill 24. Built a snow fort 25. Held a lamb 26. Gone skinny dipping 27. Run a marathon 28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice 29. Seen a total eclipse 30. Watched a sunrise or sunset 31. Hit a home run 32. Been on a cruise 33. Seen Niagara Falls in person 34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors 35. Seen an Amish community 36. Taught myself a new language 37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied 38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person 39. Gone rock climbing 40. Seen Michelangelo’s David 41. Sung karaoke 42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt 43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant 44. Visited Africa 45. Walked on a beach by moonlight 46. Been transported in an ambulance 47. Had my portrait painted 48. Gone deep sea fishing 49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person 50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris 51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling 52. Kissed in the rain 53. Played in the mud 54. Gone to a drive-in theater 55. Been in a movie 56. Visited the Great Wall of China 57. Started a business 58. Taken a martial arts class 59. Visited Russia 60. Served at a soup kitchen 61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (I think Camp Fire candy counts on this one.) 62. Gone whale watching 63. Got flowers for no reason 64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma 65. Gone sky diving 66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp 67. Bounced a check 68. Flown in a helicopter 69. Saved a favorite childhood toy 70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial 71. Eaten caviar 72. Pieced a quilt 73. Stood in Times Square 74. Toured the Everglades 75. Been fired from a job 76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London 77. Broken a bone (it was a toe) 78. Been on a speeding motorcycle 79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person 80. Published a book 81. Visited the Vatican 82. Bought a brand new car 83. Walked in Jerusalem 84. Had my picture in the newspaper 85. Read the entire Bible 86. Visited the White House 87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating 88. Had chickenpox 89. Saved someone’s life 90. Sat on a jury 91. Met someone famous 92. Joined a book club 93. Lost a loved one 94. Had a baby 95. Seen the Alamo in person 96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake 97. Been involved in a lawsuit 98. Owned a cell phone 99. Been stung by a bee 100. Rode an elephant

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sneaking in a post

It's break time at the office so I'm sneaking in a blog post. I was down in Corvallis Saturday evening singing at a concert the Portland Gay Men's Chorus put on as a fundraiser for Confluence and the Albany/Corvallis PFLAG. Sunday I didn't get home until early evening but was too tired to do more than glance at email. This week has been busy at work with an additional dollop of chorus preparation for the upcoming weekend of concerts.

Friday Portland OR Augustana Lutheran Church, 7:30 pm

Saturday Salem OR First Congregational Church, 7:30 pm

Sunday Corvallis OR UU Fellowship of Corvallis, 4:30 pm

Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors and students with ID. Come anyway. We'll let you in. More information may be found at Confluence's website.

So what will I do when I'm done with the concerts? I know Monday will be devoted to being in the arms of Morpheus. The rest of the time will be for finishing up holiday chores. Some fiber is due to arrive for a hush hush project, so I'll be watching for that. I'll be knitting until the hands say stop in the meantime, fussing over a Coriolis sock I had put down but didn't write the notes for.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The power of advertising

I never thought I'd see this commercial again. It's a favorite childhood memory, so when I found it in beautiful condition on YouTube, I had to share it with you.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A lovely holiday

I had a very pleasant visit with my brother Grant, his wife Yvonne, their eldest daughter Andrea and her three boys who are 9 and 6 year old twins. They had a little snow in Spokane on Friday, adding to the festivities. We ate, played games, ate, watched movies, ate, talked, and ate. The boys were good -- no crying or fighting -- and the atmosphere was congenial. Capped with flights to and from that were not crowded (I flew on Thanksgiving day and early Sunday morning), it was indeed a great holiday.

While in Spokane, Grant and I went to Paradise Fibers where I showed him the different spinning wheels and how they worked. I asked him if he would make me a spinning wheel, but with his busy schedule nowadays he didn't promise that it would get done right away. He was intrigued however by how they were built and thinks he can do one. So I'll get him some plans and the hardware and see how it goes. It may take a couple of years, but it will be a personally built wheel. I'm thinking a Norwegian style similar to the Kromski Polonaise.

Not much going on in knitting. The busy time of the year is starting up so I'm looking at other fiber projects. I'm going to take a gander at needle felting for my next round of gifts. It'll be interesting.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

To you and yours I wish you a very special and safe Thanksgiving with these wishes.

May your meal sate you and give you pleasure.

May the teams you root for win.

May the people in your house be joyful.

May the dishes be done in record time.

May you be safe home with blessings beyond count.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Baby Nickel Blanket

I finished the baby blanket for the latest addition to the Stephens clan due in December. It's based on a simple washcloth pattern with a little extra loopiness on the edge to make it pretty. I'm not a fan of pastels for babies so I made it in bright colors. It's perfect for a stroller blanket, changing blanket, and blanket for teaching the new kid on the block his colors.


Finished size 36" x 36"

Gauge: 16 sts = 4"/10 cm in garter stitch

Suggested needle: Size US 9/5.50 mm 30" circular

Yarn: Plymouth Encore 100 G skeins, 200 yds acrylic/wool blend standard size 4

1 skein each of the following colors:

A: Yellow 1382

B: Green 054

C: Blue 0133

D: Purple 1384

E: Raspberry 1385

F: Red 1386

Abbreviations st -- stitch k - knit p - purl k2tog - knit 2 stitches together sssk - slip 3 stitches together YO - yarn over

Increase pattern Pick up first color (D) and cast on 3 sts. Row 1: YO, k2tog, YO, k Row 2: YO, k2tog, YO, k2 Row 3: YO, k2tog, YO, k3 Rows 4 - 20: YO, k2tog, YO, knit to end

Pick up next color (C) and knit as follows the increase stripe pattern. Row 1: K2, YO, knit to end. Row 2 - 18: YO, k2tog, YO, knit to end.

Following the chart, work the next color until 10 stripes are completed.

Decrease pattern With next color (A), knit row 1 as follows: K2, YO, sssk, knit to end. Row 2 - 18: YO, k2tog, YO, sssk, knit to end. Following the chart, work the next color until 9 stripes are completed.

Last stripe Row 1: K2, YO, sssk, knit to end. Rows 2 to 10: YO, k2tog, YO, sssk, knit to end Row 11: YO, k2tog, YO, sssk, k2 Row 12: YO, k2tog, k2tog, k2 Row 13: YO, k2tog, k2tog, k1 Row 14: YO, k2tog, k2tog Row 15: Slip 1st st, pass leftmost st over center st, then pass rightmost st over center st. Cut yarn, leaving enough to weave in end, pass through last loop.

Block lightly. Weave in ends.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A short post

I'm running off to choir practice in a bit so I wanted to update you on what's going on.

Yesterday was the first meeting of the Portland Spinnerati group at the Central branch of the Multnomah County Library. The meeting didn't start until 10, which was also the time the library started, so it was interesting watching people watch us gathering in the front with all of our wheels. There was only one duplicate, a Lendrum single treadle, of all the wheels that showed up at the meeting, which considering there was nearly twenty of us was pretty amazing. It was a great group with a lot of promise and a beautiful day out to boot.

Tomorrow is the Employee Craft Fair at the building I work in. I'll be selling catnip toys. How did I manage to make up 50 sock toys without being smothered by my children? Strategic placement of materials and firm discipline. They know that when I say "No," I mean NO. They look disappointed but they got their chance to test drive the prototypes. The toys are going for 5 bucks apiece.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The morning after

This week has been one for ups and downs. It had a sort of a first day of school feeling when you're a kid. You know what I mean. The anticipation of the new experiences culminating in a day of new clothes and a new teacher, then the following days of afterglow and the settling down with the knowledge that you're not a baby anymore you're seven and you're going to go to school with the big kids and carry a book bag and lunch because you're going to be there all day. Or you're in the sixth grade where they have mini classes now because you're older and can learn more stuff and you can pick what you want to learn and you can run in the big kids playground instead of the little kids playground where they have the little swings and the merry go round.

Dreaming. It does amazing things. There are these dreams you have of a world where people are kind to each other and there is no want. Then you are let loose in the world and find that such dreams are difficult to make true. There are people out there who want power and don't care who they leave behind for it. You grow sour as you find more and more injustices done. It doesn't matter to whom the injustice is done. You work and you dream and try your damndest to do right and at night when you're exhausted you feel like it's for nothing. And as you lay in your bed you wonder if it was all worth it. Why bother? No one gives a damn for the poor and disinfranchised. No one cares for the family working hard just to make ends meet and ensure a safe and healthy life for their children. No one cares for the small business that wants to do something different in the world instead of being another franchise slot in a strip mall.

Then you wake up in the morning and think if I give up now what will it mean for all the work I've done in the past? What meaning will it have? Did I make a difference? Maybe not in the large part of the world, but there was the smile in the young mother's face when she got the blanket for her baby. There was the relief in the eyes of the store owner when the loan came through. There was hope in the spirit of the child who wants to go to college.

This is the optimism that rose from the country on Tuesday.

I'm watching with a cautious eye the transition that will be happening over the coming weeks. Unlike some who cast their vote with Obama freely, I was not sure which I would choose. I loathed the Bush administration, but was not so much a Democrat supporter that I would not look at what the Republican party offered. In some ways I liked McCain. He was one of the dissenters during the Gingrich and New Republican revolution in the nineties. He was more a fiscal conservative than a social conservative. Granted there were some stands he had I didn't like, but he didn't ride on those as much as his being willing to compromise with Democrats on other issues. Sarah Palin's nomination as running mate cemented my decision.

Of the Democrats, I liked John Edwards and was saddened by his philandering behind his wife's back. I felt Obama needed another four years under his belt before taking the plunge into the presidency. Hillary had too much baggage to be electable. So when Obama was nominated, I was reluctant to cast my vote for him.

During the final weeks of the election, I listened briefly to both sides but kept myself from getting sucked into the fray. I don't want to sound like I was being noble. I just didn't want to listen to the arguments. I heard and saw enough from both sides though to make my decision. So I cast my vote and waited.

Tuesday night TV offered two non-election options for me: a special "Dirty Jobs" or a marathon of "House MD." At that point I was tired of the election rhetoric and brouhaha, so opted for House. Nothing like watching how to not treat a patient to make my evening. I would flip to CNN periodically to see what the standings were but didn't expect the results to come in until later that evening after they started counting the western states.

At 8:05 pm I heard bangs. Fireworks. On election day? I had never heard fireworks on election day. Have you? Sure enough I went outside and saw neighbors shooting off rockets into the night sky. My next door neighbor was letting out a whoop from his porch. Obama had been declared the winner and the place was celebrating. I turned on CNN and sure enough there it was in blue and red. Ohio, Florida, and Illinois had been counted and predicted to go Obama's way. With the Eastern states down to Virginia (who didn't have a final tally until late in the evening) it was enough to send Obama to the White House. All I thought was that we had witnessed history being made and with such a mandate that I couldn't but think of the work that so many had done in the past. He was voted as a man who happened to be black. Yes there are those who voted for him because of the color of his skin, but you can't tell me that that was the only reason. He said the right things at the right time and ran an excellent campaign. And the people answered, "Yes."

So now I'm waiting. I still have my druthers about how effective he will be. The people he chooses will make the most difference. He will need to assure the country that he will not tax us with programs. He will need to heal the country's standing with the rest of the world. Finally, he will need to heal this country itself from the strife caused by sixteen years of partisan politics. I hope he will fulfill some of our dreams.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The rainy season has begun

It took a while for it to get going, but the steady rain and gray days have finally arrived. It was nice to have the delay. Now the bright leaves have been knocked off the trees by the winds of the latest rain system and the colors are on the ground.

One of the projects I have going on is a baby blanket for the expected new addition to the family. I'm not one for pastels however and opted to make a blanket of bright colors that can be used for when Baby Nickel becomes a rambunctious toddler. It's been a fun and easy knit so far, taking a basic washcloth pattern and making it much bigger.

As I was getting the yarn for the blanket, the shop I got it from didn't have primary yellow. I got as far as the green stripe. I could have just continued with the red, but it needed yellow. The yarn is Plymouth Encore, a nice acrylic that should hold up to the heavy use it's expected to have. Most of the shops I go to don't have a lot of acrylic and the major craft stores don't carry it. I wasn't going to have a stripe of Red Heart in the middle of the blanket, so I went out in search of the yellow.

My first stop was Unraveled Yarns, a shop I had frequented in the past but moved away from. I knew she carried the yarn, so I was surprised when I arrived there that a huge line was formed in front of the shop. Turns out Unraveled is going out of business and I had arrived in time for the first day of major discounts. Unfortunately she didn't have Encore in yellow, so though I walked out with two sweaters' worth of yarn and yarn for my Secret Santa's socks, I didn't find what I was looking for.

The next stop was Fabric Depot, who has a large selection of yarns from Coats and Clarks and Lion Brand. I hoped to find Encore there, but it wasn't there. I didn't even find a suitable substitute. I was glad however that I didn't find the yarn there. The line for the checkstand was huge and after having spent over an hour on my feet back at Unraveled I was in no mood to stand in another line.

I had to put on my thinking cap. Twisted didn't have Encore; I didn't expect it to be in other shops I frequent. Then I remembered Cindy from the knit group mentioning that the shop she works at tends to stock with grandmas in mind so has a large stock of acrylics. I hunted up the address and headed out to All About Yarn. It took me a while to find it as it was located in the backside of Tigard Plaza, but I was rewarded with finding the yellow I sought. Whew! I didn't want to resort to having to get the yarn on line, especially when I sit in the city with the most yarn shops per capita.

The bright colors of the blanket are a cheery defense against the gray days. But there is still beauty, as seen with the rain on my nandina bush. Life goes on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

La la land

This weekend was choir retreat weekend and the weather for once was very cooperative. Highs in the 60's, sunshine to make you loll about like a sybarite, and little wind, which for the coast is quite excellent. I rode down in another Bright Red vehicle, this time a Volvo, with a couple of my fellow singers, giving me some knitting time on another pair of DK socks. When the temp dropped, my yurtmates bundled in pj's and electric blankets while I had a flannel sheet for a cover. There are some good things about hot flashes. Apparently I also was very entertaining in the night, talking in my sleep about putting something over there and Margaret. Wish I knew who Margaret was.

The past week was spent mostly working on a pair of socks for one of the administrators where I work. He dropped a hint to me in a kidding way but I took him up on it. Size 12 socks, dude? Ya got 'em. Special gold toe ones just for you. When I finished them up I liked them so much I made another pair, this time intending them to be my size. However, they're just a tad small, so they'll be going to someone else.

Knit night was time for catching up with my buddies. Rachel brought out the shawl she finished and socks she made with StitchJones yarn. The shawl is just gorgeous. The socks striped up so beautifully. Nice job, Rachel. She was also wearing a pair she had knitted up. Cindy couldn't help being silly with them.

It was also a good opportunity to show my Clapotis. It's done! One skein Blue Heron rayon boucle and 2 skeins BH rickrack, all colorway Denim.

Christmas is coming and projects are coming along. One I'm doing required that I do a nice long stretch of grafting (45 stitches). I am happy to say that all my fears of the dread Kitchener have been erased. It's not entirely error free but it's grafted well enough to be invisible to the untrained eye. Sorry, no pics. The receiver may be reading this. Thumbs up!

Updated: I made a mistake in attributing the shawl. The maker was Rachel, not Tammy. My apologies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I am loved

Someday, Franklin, someday. I'll hoard my shekels, hop the plane to Albany, wend my way to Rhinebeck and give you and Ted and Dr Mel and Queer Joe and all the Wolverinas hugs.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Making amends

Dear Yaz,

I suppose it's awfully late to be writing to you with my profound apologies. At the time of your World Series appearance I was young and smitten with Charlie Hustle, Johnny, Griffey, and the rest of the Big Red Machine. I didn't understand what it meant for the Red Sox Nation to have gone so long without a World Series and the whole history of Boston sorrow. It wasn't like some team who had spent years in the cellar suddenly appearing in the playoffs. This was the Red Sox. They knew what it meant to be champions.

I know. You're saying what would a thirteen year old kid rooting for the other team have to do with the outcome. Yaz, you know that the support of the fans are so important to a team. I didn't understand that my support of the Reds was one notch cutting into the support you needed. I understand now that even when all seems lost that one cannot lose hope. You have to go all the way. Later in my life, I saw the error of my ways. You and Fisk and the rest of the team were strong and plucky. You were the anchor. I admired you and the way you came through in a pinch. Just like the guys in this year's team.

So I'm making it up to you this year. Your guys are fighting a team that is young and brash. They fought a tough series with the Angels and they're really duking it out with the Rays. I'm there, Yaz. I'm with you guys. Even with the fact that the Sox have won a couple of World Series in the past 5 years I'm with you.

I've been hanging a little with the Red Sox Nation on Ravelry. They're a devoted group. Their dedication amazes and humbles me. And this is just a playoff game. Imagine what it will be in the Series. You know what they're like.

So I hope you forgive me for my past infractions and put them to impetuous youth. I am older and wiser and will not stray from the fold again.

Humbly yours,


Friday, October 17, 2008


My latest allergy shot response was good and bad. The good part was I wasn't exhausted after the shot. The bad part was a cold that was waiting for my immune system to be valuable took hold. So I went home early yesterday and am home nursing the bugger. Is it a good sign that you have a dream where Dr House calls you to see how you're doing?

A couple of weeks ago I washed a sample of one of the fleeces I brought home from OFFF. This one was the Lincoln/Blue Faced Leicester/Montadale cross. I didn't use my washing machine as the fleece is very dirty. The couple of washings it took to clean it took out a lot of dirt and ca-ca. I'll have to go through and pick it before processing it more. But the locks are very pretty and white. I have the butt end going the wrong direction, but if you're not American, the ruler's going the right way. ;)

Thursday, October 16, 2008


In blog posting anyway. The weekend was busy and the evenings have been taken up with rooting for the Red Sox, so I've neglected my poor blog. Oh yeah. Saturday afternoon I had an appointment with my allergist to have an accellerated shot series. If you've never had allergy shots, what they do in the program is give you a series of gradually increasing injections of formulas of your allergens to raise your ability to handle things that give you allergy symptoms. The series runs for 3 to 5 years starting with bottles of increasingly stronger formulas then ending with a long series of maintenance shots taken once every 2 to 4 weeks. I was at the level just below maintenance but suffering fatigue the next day after the shots (I get three shots once a week). So my allergist had me do a visit to accellerate the pace. I got the equivalent of a month's worth of shots to bump me up to the maintenance level, which wiped me out for the rest of the day. Sunday I laid low, reserving my energy for choir practice, and wore a nice red blotch where I got the 3-in-1 shot on my right arm. But Monday I felt better and yesterday when I went in for my next shot my allergies were very much under control with no fatigue. Happy, happy, happy! If this continues, my allergist hopes that I can come off of some of the medication, especially the corticosteroid inhaler I have to take daily, so that I can function like a relatively normal human bean.


I took one project for my allergist visit but I wanted to do something else on Sunday, so I dug up the Clapotis I was doing in Blue Heron rayon yarns (boucle and rickrack in colorway Denim). I was on the decrease portion when I put it down. You're probably thinking, why did I put it down at that point? Well this was a wide Clapotis and I was plenny sick of it. But I was able to finish it and wear it to chorus Sunday. It's lovely for wearing at the office when the a/c kicks on.

Picture forthcoming when I get a good one taken.

And now for sports!

So what is it with the Red Sox this playoff with the Rays? Is it the mojo the Rays got when they took the "Devil" off their name? Or is the ancient curse of the Bambino raising its ugly head to humble Red Sox Nation? I'll be watching Game 5 tonight and decked out in red and working on the red Voyager Lace stole. YOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Seen elsewhere

If on your blognation perambulations you see this entry, scroll down to the Portland OR stop and see a familiar face in a familiar vehicle. Thanks, Franklin, and have fun at Rhinebeck!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday meditation

Sunday mornings are usually spent listening to NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, This American Life, Car Talk, and A Prairie Home Companion. While I listen I'm usually doing a few things around the house, enjoying a cup of tea, or doing the NY Times Sunday crossword from their archives. By the time PHC is done, I have a little time to get things ready for the carpool to choir practice in Salem.

This morning during This American Life, there was a discussion of the current financial crisis and an explanation of what's happening to cause the meltdown of the credit markets. I highly recommend listening to it, no matter your political affiliation. It was something I needed something calm to do during the broadcast, so I picked up the baby alpaca I got last weekend and started spinning up some laceweight.

I'm now more informed and have a pretty single. I'll need more calming spinning as the powers that be try to get the markets straightened out.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Saturday of projects

The autumn sky has turned to gray again as the beginning of the rainy season makes its presence known to the city. Now that the summer events have come to a close for me, I'm now focusing on the holiday season ahead. The company has an employee craft fair in November so to raise some spending money I've dug into the stash and started knitting up tubes for making cat toys. Now you're probably thinking I'm out of my mind to try to knit up all these tubes. Trust me; I wouldn't do this if I didn't have an easy way of doing it.

Thank you Mattel. So far I've done up enough yarn to do 36 cat socks and have two more skeins to do up. A friend has offered a quilt batt to me and I'm on the hunt for good fresh catnip that doesn't cost a fortune (I'm thinking bulk catnip from a source). The final construction will occur away from home so that I don't have crazed felines tearing at the products.

Christmas is coming so gifts are being knit up. I've been perusing patterns and coming up with ideas. I'm looking over my stash and picking out potential colors. What colors should I avoid? Will this fit the item? Would that pattern be too busy? Shall I put the techniques I learned to use in this? Am I insane to do this? If I wasn't, I wouldn't be part of the multitude of knitters who are doing the same thing.

Taming A Pattern

To prepare for the drafty days of winter, I'm knitting up Franklin's 1840's Gentleman's Night Cap. I must say this pattern gave me fits in the beginning. I don't usually knit with straight cotton because it can be hard on my hands, but I wasn't going to do it in wool. I was going to follow the pattern as it was written, something I don't normally do. I had balls of Dale Stork in the stash and size 1 and 0 needles. So I set out to knit it.

In the beginning, I found that the double point needles were somewhere in the ether, not in the double point needle case I usually carry them in. It wasn't just that one set was missing. I was missing 3 sets somewhere in the chaos of my house, stuffed with a bag of sock yarn or holding a toe in progress. The circulars I had on hand were Crystal Palace and Addi Turbos. The CP joins kept snagging the stitches as they went around and the Addi Turbos were too slick, making my hands hurt from keeping the stitches from flying off the needles. Then I cast on and wound up twisting it when I completed the round. Frustrating to say the least, but I was bound and determined to conquer this pattern. It had to be the tools, but what would work?

Last Friday, I went out and about with Melissa and Barbara on a lovely yarn crawl, and it was at Twisted that I found my needles. HiyaHiya needles come with a nice short tip in bamboo and a smooth join. Later I picked up a set of long #1's for the finishing, but I've found that the HiyaHiyas saved me from ripping out the whole thing and cursing Franklin for devising such a horrid piece of torture. It's coming out beautifully.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oh Eff Eff Eff (eff eff eff eff ff ff ff ff f f f f f ....)

Warning: This one is picture heavy, so if you have a slow connection, go out and get yourself something good to drink. Maybe a snack. Take out the trash. Walk the dog. Kiss your hunnybunny. Then come back.

The Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival roared to life on Friday and Saturday it was full of people, much more than I've seen in previous years. The PDX Knitbloggers set up camp under a lovely tree for folks to sit and do fibery stuff and also helping folks in answering questions. The day was nice and sunny without being overly hot. The sun beating on the shoulders while I sat spinning was particularly delicious.

This year I had a limited budget set aside for a few things. I went with a list of things and found what I wanted.

A diz out of maple.

An orifice hook with maple burl for my Louet wheel.

Two fleeces: three pounds of a Lincoln/Blue Face/Montadale cross and twelve ounces of a first cut from a honey colored cria. Mmmmmm!

There were lots of animals to look at. I saw a number of sheep and goats, but was too smitten by the cria fleece to take pictures of the alpacas. My bad.

I watched sheep dogs doing their stuff with ducks. The brown one was a young border dog, 2 years old, who was still learning the trade. The black and white one is an older border collie who was quite good considering he was working with 4 recalcitrant ducks who were more interested in just being left alone than herded around a course with gates, a tunnel, and a coop.

This lovely bunny was purchased by one of the Knitbloggers, Deb . She's probably going to be named Liesl as she's a German Angora. When she wasn't being held (and for a bunny she was very calm being held by all these strangers) she sat calmly in her cage in the shade.