Tuesday, May 30, 2006

It's nearly Rose Festival time

Rose Festival starts the first weekend of June in Portland Oregon. The weather has been good for the roses. A hot period there got things really growing. The rain cooled things down and gave all a good watering. Now we have a dose of warm weather to perk things up. My roses have loved it. The rain stopped long enough for rose pictures.

A rose with a marvelous scent: Prospero

I've lost the tag on this one, but I call her Princess.

Red Matador, my two-buck clearance climbing rose that has graced my garden for over 10 years.

A gift from my eldest sister: Joseph's Coat

And one of a pair of extra thorny roses that I've planted under my most accessable ground floor windows. I call them the Beasts. Very pretty security.

Hey! It's COWTIME!!

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely the opinion of the writer and do not in any way reflect the state of the world, its subsidiaries, or the few who actually make the decisions for all of us.

To provide an emotionally balanced entry for you, the Reader, I will balance a rant with a positive observation. Consider this good; the hormones are a'swingin'.

ARRGH! Why is it when you shop for shoes that you will find a multitude of wonderful styles but the ones that will actually fit your foot widthwise number in the single digits?

SIGH.... Birkenstocks and New Balance will always be in my size.

ARRGH! Last Sunday, which was in the middle of a 3 day holiday weekend, my carpool partner and I experienced more than the usual traffic going back and forth from Portland to Salem for choir practice. The majority were going over the speed limit like they had someplace important to go to. Like what? A barbecue? Dammit, drivers, SLOW DOWN!! It's not worth risking your life and others over! It really isn't! Trust me on this: whatever is waiting for you at the other end isn't going to go away if you're five minutes late. Amazing to watch on a holiday for remembering the dead.

SIGH..... I started the Debbie Bliss Fair Isle cardi Monday and I'm already up to working the yoke. Love the pattern, love the color, love the yarn! I want a sweater in it. Or two. Or three. Debbie Bliss, don't you EVER discontinue Baby Cashmerino!

ARRGH! I swear that ever since the cellphone became a ubiquitous tool in American society the basic idea of private space has been discarded. People have been complaining about how people will pop out their cellphone anywhere: the movies, public transportation, the store, the bathroom. The bathroom? Kids, if I wanted to talk to you on the phone, for gawd's sake I don't want to hear your or other people's bodily functions at work. And don't get me started on drivers using cellphones while driving, having been nearly plowed down by some broad in an SUV who was too busy dialing to pay attention to the fact she was going to jump the curb at 35 miles an hour until the very last minute and three feet away from me. What the hell did you people do before cellphones? How did you communicate to your kids? Your husband or wife? Your lover? HANG UP, dammit!

SIGH.....(breathe deeply)..... My roses are in bloom and beautiful to smell and see. I have several from Heirloom Roses. If you're ever in the area of St Paul Oregon (45 minutes south of Portland), stop there and smell the roses. They are incredible.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Heebie jeebies

I don't know what has come over me. I love making lace. I've picked up some lovely lace yarns like this and this. I've found some wonderful patterns like this , this, this and this. I've done shawls and figurines and scarves. What is stopping me from starting a lace shawl?

I finished the Rubbah Slippah Mystery and Zora needs half a leg, hair, and embellishments to be completed. I'd work on Zora except it's making my hands hurt so something that is easy on my hands is perfect. Like lace. But I'm having a heck of a time deciding what I want to do and getting started.

I could do a doily. That would satisfy my urging. But which one? There are so many to choose from. I could do one of the patterns (I'm leaning toward the Rose Trellis in the Blue Heron cotton), just to practice the pattern.

Or I could just work on the commission I picked up for doing this baby cardi.

While I'm thinking about it, I can work on the toothbrush bag I've been wanting to have for the office. It's going to be a cylinder with a zipper made from kitchen cotton for storing my dental tools. Something simple that should be in every desk.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

To those who serve

When I was younger and idealistic, I was definitely a pacifist. I grew up with the images of the Vietnam War on television and the division of the country between the pro-war and anti-war factions. Today I am less idealistic, but I'm still in favor of exercising every diplomatic avenue possible before resorting to force. I protested against the invasion of Iraq, even though there was evidence that Saddam Hussein and his government were holding that country's people prisoner through terror.

But I also understand that there is a layer of society for whom the military is a way of life. Generations of men and women in countless families have gone into the military because it was a way out of poverty. They have served in many jobs, not only in combat but also in maintaining the peace. Many have died on the job doing what they felt they must do.

May we remember those who served in our military and died doing their duty. I don't agree with every reason we send our military, but the people who place their lives in danger deserve our respect.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Knit In Public Day

The first thing I want to do is promote Franklin's shirts that he worked so hard to put together for this year's Knit In Public Day June 10th. He's gone so far as to put many cities on the shirts, so there's a great selection to choose from. Go buy a shirt dammit! Then on June 10th go out, get your knitting friends, and wear your shirts in public while working on your favorite projects.

My own weekend

Usually on Memorial Day weekend I take off for the coast and visit my eldest sister for days of cribbage and good food. This time, I've opted to stay home to play pinochle with friends, run around yarn shops, rehearse with my friends, then spend a day loafing. This morning I'm off to Carlton to visit Woodland Woolworks to pick up a few things. Later I'll be stopping by the Yarn Garden to hunt up some Wick yarn from K1C2 (special request from Alicia). Then it's off to Unraveled to sit and work on Zora.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Get off your knees!

In 1997 I had surgery done on my knees because of a couple of conditions that was creating bony scar tissue and arthritis. I was told after the surgeries to expect to have another knee surgery within 7 years. Well, I've made it up to 9 years since then and after the long choir rehearsal last weekend my knees told me it was time. There's muscle ache and tendon or ligament ache. But it's Thursday and my bones still ache, even with anti-inflammatories. So the scar tissue has built up under the kneecap enough to require that I have it checked out. It will most likely be arthroscopic surgery to clean out the scar tissue, but if my knee's cartilage has degenerated enough I may end up with a knee replacement. My appointment isn't until July so it gives me time to do some rehab on my quads and hamstrings. It sucks because I'm supposed to be exercising to get off some of this fat. Aquatics isn't an option unfortunately (my knees go out of joint if I move them the wrong way, which in the heat of exercise is all too easy for me to do).

I'll get by. It's only a speed bump in my life. On a positive note, Zora now has a leg and is getting another tomorrow. And boy does she have boobs!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Variety Pak


It's been a while since my last cow but there really isn't much to have a cow about that you haven't heard already. I could rant about the insane drivers going through my neighborhood while the main thoroughfare is undergoing construction (sewer line repairs), the self-centered maneuverings of the current administration, or the horrific price increases of fuel (I can hear the Europeans going 'nyaah nyah nyah nyaah nyaah' in their individual inflections). But there are other places where if you're interested in these rants you can visit. Just Google it!

Just an ordinary day in Oregon

It cracks me up to hear people complain about the weather around here. Not long ago the state went through a heat wave of 90 degree F weather. Now it's raining and in the 60's. I've heard plenty of whining about both. Well, the natural state of things around here in May is that you get these periods of heat followed by periods of rain. It happens every year. The heat gives you the chance to check on the barbecue and the A/C to see if they're working properly. The rain gives you the chance to make repairs and take a break from mowing the lawn. It's not going to stop raining until after the 4th of July. Get over it.

Knit Night Out

Wednesday night, Close Knit keeps their doors open until 9 pm for Knit Night Out. An interesting group of knitters ranging from experienced to novice come in for chatter, help, and cameraderie while working on fiber projects. Beer is fetched from a nearby pub, adding to the atmosphere of fun. They got to see the RSM and made suggestions about what I could do later on to pass on the silliness. A good night for laughs, which for me is the best tonic, especially listening to nurses in training talking about being poked and the mind going directly into the gutter: "He kept missing and it stung. Before I knew it there was this big blob." "I was poked 3 times in 15 minutes." "She kept poking and poking; we were at it for over an hour." **snort snurfle snort snuk snort**

Current projects

I've started working on a doll and writing the pattern while working on her. The boob shaping has been the trickiest as they aren't merely bobbles. I've tried doing increases and using short row shaping and I think the short rows will be the best in the end. I'll have to do some sample swatches to see before I work it out on paper.

This doll is already named. Six years ago, I was going through a period of intense stress and was desperate for an outlet. This was before I took up knitting. My escape ended up being a series of novels about a woman who discovers she possesses powers and belongs in a parallel world to ours. Her name ended up being Zora Pickstone. She learned her parents had been criminals in the parallel world and that she herself had been smuggled to our world to keep her mother from killing her for her powers. The stories were her discovery of her power, her learning how to use that power, and coping with living in a world so different from ours (for example, the chief mode of transportation is a platform similar to a flying carpet). This doll is Zora, comfortable with her power now and not afraid of being who she is. She will be done in time for the trip and will accompany the RSM.

Pictures later children!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

One way to get exercise

This afternoon I was feeling the effects of not enough sleep due to the heat we've been having in Portland. The temptation to go home and take a nap was great. But something else lured me to pursue exercise.


After trolling the mall for an hour and a half, I came up with these.

Hey, it's worth it if it means I move and treat my feet.

More RSM

I can show you a teaser pic of some of the work I'm doing on the RSM. Like to do this on #1s?

Monday, May 15, 2006


Virginia May Brown was born September 25th, 1918, the youngest of 3. Her brothers were much older than she--nine years separated her from Delmar, the younger of the two--but they loved her dearly and were very protective of their baby sister. Her parents were well-educated descendants of Oregon pioneers and were active in the small town of Silverton, founding the telephone and water companies and her father at one time serving as mayor. Their house was bordered by Silver Creek; her childhood memories were full of days playing in and beside the water with her friends.

She went to the University of Oregon in 1939 and majored in drafting and interior design. At the time, women were a rare presence in the sciences. Ginny was the only woman in the School of Architecture during her studies and had to endure the taunts of her fellow classmates. But others supported and defended her, for she held her own. She graduated with her Bachelor of Sciences in 1944.

At the time, the US was deep in World War II and the need for draftsmen in the shipyards was great. Ginny obtained a job as a draftsman with Kaiser Steel in Portland after her graduation and worked on the Liberty Ships being built on Swan Island. At the same time, she held a job at Baker Lighting translating the artist designs into working blueprints for the craftsmen.

In the evening, she would go dancing with her friends in downtown Portland. One of those gatherings happened at the Press Club, where she was introduced to an advertising space salesman named Earle Stephens. He was ebullient and friendly, but Ginny was shy and careful. Her girlfriends convinced her that he was a gentleman and insisted she dance with him. It was the beginning of their courtship. They married March 2nd, 1945.

When they married, Earle insisted that Ginny didn't work, but it didn't mean Ginny wasn't going to let him make all the decisions about the money. The sale of the family-owned Silverton telephone company left her with money that she then put into a trust that Earle had no say on. Ginny had learned business from her parents and brothers so was not intimidated with dealing with contractors, bankers, or lawyers. It was with dividends from that trust that she was able to provide the extras that made the Stephens house comfortable and later provide funds to have the kitchen remodeled, provide loans to her children for house purchases, and help in sending her youngest to college.

Ginny loved art from her childhood on. She wanted to use her artistic talent to provide a career; later it gave her an outlet from the ennui of being a housewife. She learned rosemaling and went to painting class every Wednesday where she said she and her friends "solved the world's problems" while creating intricately designed pieces. She would make up her own designs for items she found at garage and estate sales and antique shops, stripping the item of its original label or paint and repainting them with Norwegian designs, flowers, and scrollwork. She also drew with colored pencils, experimented with water colors, and sketched the flowers that she lovingly grew in her garden.

Family necessity drew her to learning fine sewing and tailoring, making the clothing for her children and husband so that they would look decent. She also knitted, though not as much as she sewed. She didn't limit herself to making clothes for her children; her daughter Shirley's Barbie dolls had a fine wardrobe of stylish clothes as well, made from the leftovers. When clothes wore out, they were recycled. Braided rugs were on the floors, made up from old coats, suits, and blankets. The only thing she didn't do with fabric was quilt.

Ginny never spoke of regretting her choice to not work in her chosen career after marriage. There were days when she spoke of wanting to have gone to Europe or being free of the burdens she had been given. But she loved Earle very much and loved her family, even though she liked to have her children entertain themselves as much as possible and leave her to her pleasures. In her last year, she found herself free to do what she pleased in her own home and reveled in it, experimenting with different techniques and media.

She died of cancer March 16th, 1988, six days after Earle died of a stroke in his sleep. She left behind her painted plates and boxes, pictures of teasel, camellia, and hosta, and cabled afghans. She also left memories of a woman who treasured beauty around her.

This Mother's Day, I remember my mom as I knew her. I may be erroneous in my writing, but this is how I see her. She and I grew very close in her later years. She would be 88 this year if she was still around. I miss her, but I know her spirit is with me. Because of her, I do what I do.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Birthday stuff

An anonymous commenter asked if a nice card and heartfelt wishes would be good for my birthday? Certainly. I'm not so shallow that if I don't get a gift from you I'm not going to accept a card and heartfelt wishes.

There's something about a birthday that for me it brings out the little kid. I had few friends growing up and I sometimes had to share my birthday with Father's Day, which really sucked. My birthday never fell in the school year except on the second day of Finals my senior year and nobody decorated my locker. I don't say this for pity; it's so that you understand where I'm coming from. This may be a date for you but it's my day to me. And I'm going to party. If you want to party with me, come along. Some want to really party with me and maybe they're looking for ideas. So I'm not shy to let them know what I want. I don't want a picture for the wall; I have no wall space. I don't want a Hickory Farms sausage pack; the last thing I need is fattening food. I sing and I knit. Since you don't know what kinds of music I like (and I have very varied tastes in music), I choose to mention fiber books I want. Like Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature. Or yarns that I like. Not Red Heart or Lion Brand; good yarn like Lorna's Laces or Cascade. Or if you're at a loss at what I want, what stores I like to frequent so that you can opt for a gift certificate.

But such mentionings are considered rude, so the gift giver is at a loss at what to give. Think about it. When was the last time you got something you really wanted for your birthday and you didn't have to say a thing? Or got something that made you go "Wow! I didn't want this but this is so perfect! Thank you!"

So on June 15th, you can send a card and heartfelt wishes. Just be sure to sign the card with your name, not Anonymous. I'll be celebrating my 44th birthday and will want to thank you for the nice card.

Patch Toe for Knitted Socks

When I picked up the needles again in October 2002, my knitting experience consisted of scarves and a couple of hats, none of which I wore save for the exception of my "Dr Who" attempt on really cold windy mornings. The encouragement of the people I became acquainted with (and now call knitsibs) and their work via the Internet helped me gain the confidence to try out new things.

One such person was a pun-loving lady called Khadija who loved knitting on things with needles no larger than a US 5. I took a sock class from her to learn how to do different methods of socks. It was she who taught me how to do short rows, a crochet cast-on directly onto the needle, and a patch toe for socks, which I will pass on to you here. I haven't heard from her in a while and hope she is doing well. This is dedicated to her, for without her gentle guidance and sense of humor I would not be as rich as I am today.

How to make a patch toe for socks

A patch toe is exactly that: a patch of fabric from whence the stitches of the toe begin when doing a toe-up sock. When completed it's absolutely seamless. It's my toe of choice when doing toe-up socks. It can be used for any size sock; once you're comfortable with the method you can adjust the number of stitches to your liking.

Step 1: Work a provisional cast-on of 10 stitches with waste yarn (I use a crochet cast-on).

Step 2: Starting with a purl row, knit stockinette until you have worked 9 rows (ending with a purl row).

Step 3: This part is easiest worked with 5 dpns. Turn work to knit across using one dpn, then pick up 2 stitches along the side, giving you 12 stitches total on the needle.

Step 4: Take a new needle and pick up and knit three more stitches evenly on that same side. Undo the provisional cast-on to give you live stitches and knit until you have 7 stitches on your needle.

Step 5: Take a new needle and knit the remaining 5 live stitches, then pickup and knit 2 stitches from the remaining side.

Step 6: Take your remaining dpn and pick up and knit two stitches off the side, then knit 5 stitches from your first dpn. You should have something that looks like the picture below. Or if you can't see the picture, like a rectangle within a diamond frame of dpns.

From this point, I place a marker, paper clip, or contrast yarn tie on the stitch nearest the beginning of the round. I work my increases along the picked up sides so that the line of stitches remains in the same direction as the rest of the fabric. In the picture those would be at the left and right points of the diamond where the needles cross. I used to use as my increase method knit in the front and back of the stitch but now I use the backward e as it makes less of a noticeable increase.

This picture of the toe of one of the Heart Wave socks shows how the patch toe is part of the sock toe.

Friday, May 12, 2006

You thought I was being wacko

It's a conspiracy. Next thing you know they'll have us eating these instead of chocolate.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You crossed the line, my friend

It started with the warning label on cigarettes. Then they banned hard alcohol advertising on television. Then they put adult content labels on records and CDs. I thought they had done everything they could to protect the general public, but now they've crossed the line.

I found a warning label on Hershey bar.

Candy is a treat. Enjoy in moderation.

You think I'm nuts? Go find a Hershey chocolate bar with the eBay points promo on it and open the wrapper. Right above the left hand corner of the code box is the warning. And if you're really feeling weird about that, check out the nutrition info area on the Hershey's website. Now, when I'm enjoying a chocolate bar, I'm not going to stop just before taking a bite and say, "Hey! I better not eat this! It may make me sick!" And when I'm PMS'ing, moderation just ain't in my vocabulary.

Unleashing the creative half of my mind

The time spent waiting for reports to print is usually dead time for me. My mind wanders off into Fiberland. I happened to be cold and wearing my Airport Special Faux-Pashmina Shawl to ward off the chill when I got the idea of making a shrug using those dimensions. The measuring tape came out at break time along with an idea of what direction I want the potential lace to go. I want it light enough so that it keeps the chill off without cooking me--nothing heavier than DK weight (size 3 using the standard). Since my skin is sensitive, I can't have 100 percent wool or mohair, but I can do blends. I haven't tried alpaca to see if I'm sensitive to that, but I know that I can do silk blends, merino blends, or viscose. Even polished cotton. I'll have to mull this over and do some stash hunting since my purse is closed until after I go to Hawaii.

Mommy, can I have this for my birfday pleeeeeeeeeeeeze?

My birthday is June 15th, two months after Tax Day and halfway to Christmas. Of course I use it as an excuse to treat myself to goodies. This year I'm treating myself to the trip to Hawaii. I'm also open to obtaining this. Laceweight and fingering weight yarns in solids (blues, purples, rich reds) and semi-solids are also nice. I'm getting all these lace shawl patterns and have nothing to knit with. Yeah. Right.

Blasts from my past

Prior to this blog, I had set up an album of pictures of my early projects. You can go visit it here. My first lace shawls, felting projects, caps, scarves, and bags are shown there, some modeled on live people, some on the lovely Miss Margaret, my silent partner. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Random thoughts on a Tuesday

It's less than 40 days until I go to Hawaii and the RSM is coming along very well. It'll be done by the time I pack and head west over the ocean. People have been asking for the pattern but I haven't been diligent enough in writing down what I've been doing. I may make another one for myself if I get ambitious. For now, this will be enough. It's for my Spirit Sister and that's what counts.

I didn't win the Knitting Curmudgeon's Fib contest. I couldn't go to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival because I'm not as rich as Martha Stewart. I could save some shekels and try for Rhinebeck but I'd rather fly to the Midwest and do a run to Knitting Camp after hitting Stitches Midwest in Chicago (with a night crashing at Franklin's Stitch n Bitch group followed by drinks and dancing with Dolores. Shut up Franklin this is my fantasy not yours. Go take your cowboy to your room.) How could I be as talented as Knitterguy and Wabisabi (knit lace for another twenty years)? Or Eunny? Knit and knit and knit some more. Wait for word from Amy Singer and Jillian Moreno as to whether the Fireside sweater, nee Olympic, was accepted for Big Girl Knits 2. Wait to hear from job prospects to pay for one's knitting because after a review of one's finances I find that I have to really juggle to pay for the inn I'm staying at next month (It'll work out. Really.) because I spent my money on yarn.

I'm tired. I'm going to bed. Sleep well, kiddies. Auntie Duffy's watching over you, planning all sorts of mischief for the next day.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I'll take this, and that...

But you have to take the other. It's a set. (George Carlin)

Rubbah Slippah Mystery

"It's always tease, tease, tease." -- The Clash

Forty-two days until I fly to Hawaii!!

Give to me your leather; I'll give you my lace.

It was meant to be. The Monday after I got the lovely yarn I read in Franklin's blog that he was contributing to an online symposium on lace knitting put on by the online knitting community Knitting Beyond the Hebrides . Lace! Oh I was there! And sure enough for 5 days I was following the articles, patterns, and tips of the Lace Extravaganza. Not only was there an essay from Franklin but there were also interviews with Sharon Miller (the designer of the Princess Shawl) and Meg Swanson, articles on Orenburg Lace, Russian Lace, and charting, and contests and a sudoku puzzle. I printed out everything because there was so much information. Check it out if you're going to do lace. I don't know how long it's going to be up so go there now!

Ninety-nine balls of yarn in my stash, ninety-nine balls of yarn

This week, I took a little time away from the RSM to work on other projects. I made some progress on the Vine Lace Scarf in Suri Merino.

And some progress on the Great Adirondack scarf. Nummy!