Saturday, July 16, 2011

Time flies

Then suddenly it's summer. Holy crap.

Well it's trying to be summer around here. While other areas of the country are suffering under heat waves and horrid temperatures we here in the PNW have yet to have had a day where we've even come close to 90 degrees. I'm not complaining because summer's my least favorite season but I'm sure hearing the griping amongst the hoi polloi for the lack of summerninity. You want summer? I suggest going to Texas for a few days. A little heat index of 115 degrees F will make you yearn for here.


June was a fairly busy month for me, culminating in a trip to Mt Hood/Parkdale Oregon to attend a 4 day workshop held by Judith MacKenzie. It was essentially a free-for-all event where the students decided what they wanted to learn at the beginning and it went from there. To give you an idea of what we packed in those 4 days we did:

  • How to spin a worsted spun yarn of different thicknesses
  • How to do different draws from worsted to full woolen long draw
  • How to spin a slub yarn
  • How to spin different types of boucle yarns
  • How to spin alpaca
  • How to spin other luxury fibers such as bison, cashmere, baby camel, and silk
  • How to dye in acid dyes
  • How to dye with indigo
  • How to create a batt with different fibers on a carder
  • How to create a garnetted batt
  • How to make a marled yarn
  • How to choose a fleece and what to do with it later
  • How to spin bast fibers (flax, ramie, hemp)
  • How to spin cotton
  • How to rett bast fibers

You can imagine what I was like when I finally left for home on the day 4. Exhausted but very very happy. I picked up all sorts of tips and tricks from her and have been passing them on to my fellow spinners. My spun yarn after that workshop has improved significantly.

I'm currently doing some spinning for the Tour de Fleece though my right knee has not been allowing me to do a lot of spinning. I'll be working to finish off a bobbin of three that I'm currently working on for a sock yarn. It's coming out beautifully.


I've churned out more baby sweaters to eventually be sold for a fundraising. They work up so quickly and are fun to knit. I took the pattern and made some adjustments for my own liking and wrote it up as a free pattern on Ravelry, called Basic Yoke Baby Sweater 2.0. Others have tried it and enjoy it, which makes me feel good.

For my birthday I received three books: Knit, Swirl! by Sandra McIver, For the Love of Knitting by multiple authors, and The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson. I was caught up in the thrill of the engineering of the Swirl sweaters that have come from McIver's book and started up knitting my swatch to get the right size. I even took it with me to Judith's workshop in case I needed something to work on in the evening. Ha ha fool me -- I didn't touch it because I was too tired. So I arrive home and work on it a bit (the yarns are Stonehedge Farms Shepherd's Wool with Dream In Color In Native laceweight in raspberry tones).

Then Frank Habit publishes a stole pattern.

In case you haven't seen it here, I love lace. I'm a lace junkie. I love how it turns a pile of string all looped together that looks like a dog's breakfast into stunning beauty when it's all dressed. (That's right. Ordinary knitting is blocked. Lace knitting is dressed. Not that it's snobbish or anything.) You can bring me to my knees when you open up a stunning lace piece that looks like it's been knitted from frog hair on size zero^googolplex needles.

Frank has decided to go into lace knitting with a vengeance, coming out with a series of patterns that celebrate the women in his life. The one that made me drool was the one dedicated to his grandmother Jennie or as she was formally named Giovannina. I added that to my wishlist, not expecting to make it anytime soon, but an opportunity arose and I am now in the process of knitting it. The Filigran yarn is nice to work with and I'm making progress now with the body. We'll see how quickly I get this knitted up (the center motif requires 20 repeats of 30 rows).


Nothing new in the home front regarding the cats. Sammy is recovering from the state she got herself into from grieving for Maisie. Buster is finding that Fritz, while a fun playmate for a while, tends to be like the pestering kid brother and follows him around wherever he goes.

And Fritz? Well, let's say he isn't the brightest bulb in the sign. I like to call him a clown short of a circus. He's just now learning to come to his name but it takes a fair bit to do it. He hasn't figured out to leave Buster or Sammy alone when they cuff him and hiss. It also takes him a while to figure out that when I'm coming out of the kitchen and he's right there that to get out of my way he can turn around and walk faster (he walks backwards instead and is pretty good at it). But he's a playful, friendly, sweet-natured dope. He's figured out that he's not going outside without a harness on (which he doesn't like) so he doesn't dart out.

And that's the news from Chez Runamuck! Have a good summer!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Checking in

Each weekend I've been busy doing something and think briefly, I should update my blog. It's been a while and not everyone is on Facebook or Ravelry. But just as quickly it leaves my brain and before you know it another week has passed. Or my case, two months.

I've found as I've gotten older that unless I set out reminders for myself or stop and think for a minute beforehand what I must do I tend to flit from one thing to another at the cost of paying attention to other things that should be attended to. If I have things written down and go over them first thing in the morning I'm very good at getting them done. But if it's not on the list and I don't add it, it will be forgotten. Unfortunately, the blog writing has fallen into the category of not being put on the list. I will try to do better.

Things have changed a fair bit here at Chez Runamuck. I found a young cat that fit the household dynamic a month ago. His name is Fritz, is a year old, and has made friends with Sammy and Buster. Fritz isn't a lap cat but he is affectionate, a chatterbox, and has found all the toys in the short barrel tower. His favorite is a furry mouse that came in a gift pack I received from my Secret Santa last year. He carries it around in his mouth, plays with it on my bed, and has chewed the tail off of it. The other two weren't sure at first but Buster found him to be a fun playmate and Sammy has taken to him as a housemate. It's made life around here comical at times as the chasing goes on in the evening with either Fritz chasing Buster or vice versa.

In April I went to a fiber festival in Hood River. It was the first one for this particular group and they had a great turnout. There were some beautiful things there and I didn't come away empty-handed. One of the things I was looking for was purchasing a Schacht Matchless wheel on layaway. I had my Louet S10 for putting down as a down payment and wanted to pay off the remainder in installments. I found a buyer and the wheel is now being built. I was able to negotiate having the wheel available for my upcoming workshop at the end of June but I have to return it until it's completely paid off. I got the chance to work on someone else's Matchless while I was there and I was very pleased at how well it spun and fit me. So I'm anxious as ever to get it paid off and home!

May has been busy. I volunteered some time to demonstrate handspinning at the annual AgFest in Salem OR. That was fun showing how yarn is made from animal fiber. The kids were delightful to watch. Agent D and I took advantage of a beautiful Saturday to go to the Gorge and take pictures. The water from all the rainfall made the waterfalls spectacular.

One of the things I've been doing is preparing for a class on making toe up socks. I've knitted up sample socks with three different toes and heels to demonstrate different methods. In addition to those I finished a hat for Agent D and a baby sweater for one of the gals in the office who is expecting her first. There will be more baby sweaters coming: one for the grandson coming for one of my partners in crime in my unit, the others for sale to raise money for Outside In.

June promises to be a busy month. Between teaching, taking Judith MacKenzie's workshop at the end of the month, and my birthday, my challenge will be pacing myself so that I can get everything done. Summer's almost here which will mean hiding in my cool house.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


If you've been a regular reader of my blog, you most likely have noticed that my output has gone down recently. When I had started the blog, it was intended to be a journal of my experiences in the textiles community and some personal observations. For the most part I've kept to that with my intention of posting at least once a week, usually on Sunday. Lately, however, I've been slowly drifting away from the blog posting. Part of it is not wanting to clutter it with drivel or the same ole same ole. Another part of it is I've been more active on other social media, namely Ravelry and Facebook. But I have no intentions of giving up on the blog. It's here that I can keep in touch with those who are not connected with me in those two resources.

The sudden loss of Maisie was difficult

. When you lose a pet that you've had for a while, it's a change in your life that has its ramifications. Maisie was kind of the grande dame of the house, anchoring the feline community with a quiet yet strong presence. Her disappearance left a void that the household had a hard time adjusting to. We are all getting used to the new rhythms and dynamic that multiple occupants work out in a living space. I felt the loss so keenly that I tried adopting another cat to fill the void but it didn't work out and have come to the conclusion that for now there will be two furries.

To cope with the depression that was trying to latch onto me, I decided last week to take a day trip to the beach. I invited Agent D to come along and he leaped at the opportunity. We went down to Tillamook and Oceanside to take in the calm of the ocean's roar. We made stops at the Tillamook Air Museum and the Tillamook Cheese Factory (it was alas closed to the public due to unforeseen circumstances with the water). A trip up to Astoria and a visit with my sister to see how she was doing then home again made for a lovely jaunt. March weather is fickle but we were graced with rainfree hours while we were out and about.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


There are moments in one's life where you are just bumping along doing your normal things and a speed bump gets thrown into the road to remind you to be aware. You try to get your bearings and return to what you're doing but things have changed. The normal is just slightly tweaked where you have to shift your perspective.

Over the course of the last couple of years, Maisie had been losing weight. She used to be a chunky 11 pounds but shrank down to 8. I didn't pay much mind to it because she was too heavy for her frame but when I took her in last September her vet was concerned. Her lab work showed no signs of problems. Then a couple of weeks ago I noticed she was not eating much and would stand by the water bowl. This was unusual, so I took her in. It turned out bad: her

kidneys had failed and she was dying. It was a sudden blow that took me completely by surprise. I decided to euthanise her so that she wouldn't suffer anymore.

Miss Maisie was the duchess of the house. The other cats paid her much respect because she could be fickle in her moods. Her size was no hindrance to her maintaining rule at Chez Runamuck. Even Buster, who outweighed her by a couple of pounds, kept his distance. But she was a loving cat. She didn't like to be held but she loved sitting on my lap or sleeping next to my pillow at night. She loved burrowing in the blankets to snooze. And her fur was the softest I had ever felt.

Goodbye, duchess. Mazola. MissMiss. You are missed here at Chez Runamuck.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

I'm here

If you're wondering where I have been, don't worry if you think it's health related. I'm fine. January's an insane month at work and as there wasn't much to report outside of being really tired and braindead I figured it was best to not post. The insanity is done and the normal brouhaha is now gearing up.

There was one event in January I attended: the Snohomish Yarn Train and Crawl. This is its seventh year of sending folks down from Seattle to Portland to partake of Portland's bounty of yarn shops. Someone I met on a Ravelry forum came down and joined me and MonicaPDX on a personal tour. Aeranthes had a delightful time and the three of us cackled and snortled the afternoon away. Less ebullient folk looked at us askance like we had somehow managed to escape our keepers, for we were like teenage girls who had stayed up too long. It was a sad

moment when we had to drop off Aeranthes at the train station, but she promised to come back. I promised to put her up for Oregon Flock and Fiber so I have until September to get the house ready.

The sidewalk has been poured and is curing as we speak. There was some finagling and what had been expected changed (there will be no solid slab of concrete for the driveway skirt as it wasn't required after all). The weather while cold and windy some days has been dry enough for the contractor to get it all done. I will be glad when it's all over.

I took a break from knitting but restarted again with a lace project. Cindy at Urban Fiber Arts received a shipment of Abstract Fiber's Picasso, which is a DK weight baby alpaca yarn. I offered to make her a shop sample and made for her the Eleanor cowl. It was a little tricky to knit but I finished the knitting last week. I finally got around to blocking it today so you can see the lacework. Once it's seamed you can only see it if it's on someone's neck. My neck's too short to show it off -- not like Linda Evangelista.