Monday, August 27, 2007

Out in the hinterlands

The concert at the SummerBlue gathering for the Benton County Democrats went well. While it was muggy, the Dems stopped moving and shaking enough to listen to us. We had a marvelous audience. The party was held at the Dancing Oaks Nursery which is located south of Monmouth Ore (an hour's drive from the capitol, Salem) and is tucked into the foothills of the coast mountains. Later, our director received a phone call from the organizer of the party to thank us for the performance. We received a lot of good feedback, including that even though it was an amplified outdoor performance people could hear the words of the songs clearly. *thumbs up!*

Sunday was the first rehearsal of the whole chorus in preparation for the tour at the end of September and our holiday concert. Thanks to my friends Clark and Reid I was able to get the music all copied and sorted, for by the time the weekend drew to a close I was exhausted. More incentive to work on getting in more exercise!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Gearing up

It's hard to believe that next week is the last week of August. My August was going to be lazy and quiet, seizing moments where I could just sit and read or knit whatever I pleased. It didn't exactly turn out that way. An experiment turned into a potential pattern for sale so I've been busy putting that together. Then I got yarn from Judy Ditmore so the pencil, paper, and needles have been busy thinking up patterns for her. I got a call from the chorus' director asking if I would be able to sing with the chorus' small group Influence this Saturday so I lost a weekend to chorus rehearsal last week. I know; I could have said 'no' but how often does one get chosen to sing in the auditioned part of the chorus? I'm thinking it as my audition for the coming season *grin*. Ray gave me the music for the upcoming Tour and holiday concerts for copying, so tonight will be spent with Mr Kinko and his chunking machines. So the summertime lazy days are over for me. While it will be sad to not have those days, I can look forward to my favorite time of year coming up: early fall in Oregon.

I joined Ravelry July 4th (it must have been too much potato salad putting me in a carbohydrate stupor). I'm in the lower 3000's now and word is they're getting ready to load in servers that will be chucking out invites like spam. I had thought of loading in my stash but I'm going to wait until I have a good feel for the site to see if I need to take that time to do it. Perhaps just the labeled items. I have anonymous stash yarns gifted from me that will stay off for certain. It'll be nice to be able to hunt for patterns for them though. What do you do with a hurkin' big hank of handspun that looks like bricks lightly brushed with frost? Or another that looks like a pale child with measles?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Over Abundance

I swiped the picture from Rodger's blog so if I get another pic some time I'll replace it. This is him with some poor jetlagged teenage girl-saddled mother who goes around taking pictures of her sock with strangers.

Rodger burst into the Portland scene last year when he arrived here to attend college. Don't let his youth fool you. He has a mind full of ideas and no fear of tackling a design puzzle. His enthusiasm is infectious and I have the honor of knowing him beyond the PDX Knitbloggers. He chats about his doings at Over Abundance.

Q. When did you learn how to knit? Did someone teach you or did you teach yourself?

A. I taught myself to knit my junior summer of high school, about two years ago. I was 17. I had just learned to crochet frm my aunt, and I didn't like crocheted sweaters so I learned to knit so I could knit them.

Q. If you were sent into exile, which 5 knitting books would you take?

A. All of the Elizabeth Zimmermann books. They could keep me happily knitting for years and years to come.

Q. Describe the most unusual/notable occurrence that happened while you were knitting.

A. Being applauded by two eastern european immigrants on the city bus when I pulled out a sweater I was knitting and began working on it. That was pretty unusual AND notable.

New Pathways

Cat Bordhi does what some of us dream of: play with design and get paid enough to not have to work at another job. My previous experience with Cat is through her Moebius books from which I have yet to work a pattern but am intrigued. When her latest book "New Pathways for Sock Knitters" came out, I commented on the GLBT Knit list that I didn't think I would pay 30 bucks for a book on socks when I had several books already. But I found myself eating my words when I looked in the book and saw what new architectures Cat has come up with. So if this sounds rather gushing please forgive me. I'm a new convert who has met the sock messiah, nay touched the same socks she has touched and even spoken with her.

Taking the MAX train was the best way to get to Cat's book signing at the Forestry Center. For a Friday evening around 5:30 the train was surprisingly empty, but it's summer and I figured that folks had taken off early for the weekend. A few were going to the Zoo concert being held that same evening, but there were no signs of knitters.

It wasn't until I arrived at the Forestry Center that I met up with Chrispy, Bobbie, Judy, and a number of other knitters. One gal had traveled down from Puyallup Washington for the signing; she asked us about what yarn stores to visit. I gave her the directions to Woodland Woolworks as it would be a pity for her to be so close and not visit.

Bobbie brought out the finished top done in Bambu 7 but to her grief it turned out too small for her, so she was going to gift it to someone who could fit in it. Chrispy turned out to be the right size and received the lovely top.

Inside we were greeted by the folks at Blue Moon Fiber Arts who were busy selling Cat's books and finishing up the preparations for the signing. Tina Newton, the doyenne of Blue Moon, was the emcee but it was a job trying to herd us knitters into a quiet bunch. The intention was that Cat would talk about the book, then Cat would sign books and we would get dessert. It ended up with knitters raiding the dessert table and quietly (and in some cases shyly) standing in line to get their copy signed. We were told that Blue Moon wouldn't have their yarns for sale as it was Cat's night and they didn't want to overshadow her with ravenous knitters snagging skeins of yarn. But it wasn't entirely yarnless. Tina had a nice big box of yarn to give away as prizes for unusual items found in one's knitting bag. Kathy won for the most unusual tool made from an ordinary object (a plastic fork used as a lucet to make cording). Some of us won skeins (in some cases two) for objects in our bags. I won two for a credit card used to determine wraps per inch (it was admittedly a stretch -- that skein's going into a gift bag) and a flashlight. The other skein, in red clover honey, will be a good background yarn for a skein of Koigu I have that can make another pair of colorwork socks. Tee hee!

Cat brought the socks from the book so that you could see the architecture live. It was fascinating to see how a few increases put in at nearly any point of the sock could create such different styles. I was drawn to the Ocean-Toes sock (Cat is holding it above -- click to see a larger picture of it) and the potential for it to be a fun man's sock if done in manly colors (like black with orange flames). It would make a wonderful sock for the quivering brethren of Brother Amos' congregation that Brenda Dayne loves so much from "Cold Comfort Farm." You can imagine the flames of hell licking your toes as you descend.

If you have not gotten your copy of the book and want it, get it now. The first edition has sold out. The next edition is not due out until October. That was the warning given last night. Blue Moon has books so if your LYS doesn't have it you can try them. And Cat? She's touring, so get the chance you can to see her if you haven't met her yet. She's a very sweet person and thrilled to hear the positive feedback.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Days of Tea and Knitting

Melissa (or Teaknit Melissa as I call her to differentiate her from the other Melissas I know), is an East Coaster who migrated West. Her eye for detail in all she does is amazing. Not only is she a great knitter but she also is a great photographer. Check out her work here.

Q. When did you learn how to knit? Did someone teach you or did you teach yourself?

A. I learned to knit from my father when I was a little girl. I don't remember knitting very much, but it stayed with me. Then when I was in my early teens my dad learned to knit continental and then I knitted that way. Not purling, but knitting continental. It wasn't until around 10 years ago that I took it up again and got pretty serious. Unfortunately my father wasn't alive by then and has never seen me really knit. I think about that a lot when I'm knitting. Imagining him looking over my shoulder or commenting on my technique or the beautiful yarn.

Q. If you were sent into exile, which 5 knitting books would you take?

A. My first emotional response would be NONE! Knitting books are a luxury item in some strange way to me. But, backing up into that question, I guess I would choose 4 different issues of Interweave Knits and Knitting in the Old Way.

Q. Describe the most unusual/notable occurrence that happened while you were knitting.

A. Here in Portland, I've met my best friends: Four women who are always there on Sunday afternoons to knit, for each other's birthdays and every holiday (not to mention when we just need to talk or knit and talk or just KNIT.

Laa la la la

This year Confluence Chorus is doing outreach concerts in various places in Oregon. Next Saturday Influence, Confluence's subgroup, will be singing at the Benton County Democrats will be having a garden party fundraiser called SummerBlue 2007, held at the Dancing Oaks Nursery in Monmouth Oregon. More information may be found here. We'll be starting up rehearsals for our tour of southern Oregon that Sunday. If you visit, say Duffy sent ya!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fresh from the hinterlands

Chrispy hails from the thriving metropolis of Longview WA, situated an hour's drive north from Portland. Lacking resources in the land of loggers, she turned to the internet and began her own blog Pursuit of Fiber.

1. When did you learn how to knit? Did someone teach you or did you teach yourself?

My mom had known that I wanted to learn to knit. I was currently trying to learn all forms of needle craft since they interested me. Mostly I taught myself from books but a few just did not make since in craft books from the 70s. When I came home (Saudi Arabia) for Christmas vacation from my Freshman year of college and my mom told me that she had found someone to teach me to knit (a friend's mother) and that I should ask our neighbor who was retiring before I would be home next to teach me to tat. I went to several tatting lessons because it was really hard to get the concept, but I finally got it. My knitting lessons were a bit different. I was taught by a lovely Pakistani lady how to knit English style. I cast on (cabled cast on - I thought that was the only cast on other than invisible forever) and to knit. I sat and knit a good 6" by 6" piece of garter stitch and she sent me home to come back in a day or two for another lesson. I came back for that second lesson but by then I had taught myself how to purl and do increases and decreases. My teacher got mad at me and shooed me out the door. Since then I have been teaching myself new techniques from books or just struggling to find the right answer. My first project was a fair isle hat on DPNs. It said beginner. The hat fit but the next one did not - it ended up becoming a bolster pillow. From then on I knit my way through college, never a note taken except to mark my place or to create a lace/colorwork chart.

2. If you were sent into exile, which 5 knitting books would you take?

Books. I have to choose 5. Just 5. Can I bring an ipod? I could then hear the yarn harlot read about knitting travels and other lovely fiction writers amuse me. Ok seriously. 5 books. Well, I would choose my now constant companion Sweater Design in Plain English. The next two would be the first two Vogue Stitchtionaries. My first knitting book would come with me because I think I have not learned all the lessons within its depths: Homespun, Handknit. That makes four. This last book is difficult; do I choose a technique book, a book filled with inspirational photos and patterns, one that has fabu patterns and techniques (such as Amy Singer's books), or the entire collection of Interweave Knits. What does that count cuz I would be happy with just Interweave Knits, patterns meshed with techniques sprinkled with stories. Ohhhh. Ok since I know that can't be my answer I will pick Knitting Lingerie Style for my last book. A feast for the eyes; one that challenges the design sense and brings my little heart into flutters.

3. Describe the most unusual/notable occurrence that happened while you were knitting.

Um I don't know of one off the top of my head, I tend to knit any and everywhere. Oh I know of one, I knit while participating in the Spokane Bloomsday race. (You can find the story in the May 2007 section of my blog.) I think my sock beat me. I am not too sure. I do know that he tried to get me run over by dropping a DPN on a hill full of walkers. Bad Sock. Since then my DPNs stick to me like glue, they are have heard the stories in their comfy case about the harrowing journey. They like me too much to fall again.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hippety hop

Earlier this year I joined a local group of knitting bloggers. The initial meeting was impromptu as I had not heard of them, but during Barbara's visit in July our Sunday gathering coincided with a meeting of the bloggers at Knit/Purl. The meeting turned out to be a lot of fun, raucous and silly, so I joined them.

I'm now part of the East Side contingent: folks who live on the side of town that has the more seedy, gritty reputation but has as well some of the great old homes that Portland is known for. The Silicon Forest portion does not raise its head on the East Side. McMansions only dot the fringe areas. A few geologic features (Mt Tabor, Rocky Butte, Alameda Ridge, Powell Butte) as well as a few manmade features (Ladd's Addition, Laurelhurst) interrupt the grid. You won't find strip malls or big box stores here. We're the funky, hippy, blue collar poets sipping organically grown coffee or brewing our own beer.

In the next few weeks you'll be seeing a series of interviews. These are fellow bloggers from the City of Roses who will as well be interviewing. It's our way of getting to know each other and perhaps you will too. Each of us will be asking three questions. Today I'll start by answering my three questions.

Q: When did you learn to knit? Did someone teach you or did you teach yourself?

A: I learned to knit in late high school. My mother tried to teach me to knit but I ended up teaching myself to knit. She knitted continental and I couldn't get the hang of it. I learned the throwing method instead.

Q: If you were sent into exile, which 5 knitting books would you take?

A: Right off the bat I would take Barbara Walker's Treasuries 1 & 2. I use those a LOT. I would then take Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns and Sharon Miller's Heirloom Knitting. Last of all I would take my mother's copy of Mary Thomas' Knitting Book as that links me to her and would give me inspiration in my time of captivity.

Q: Describe the most unusual/notable occurrence that happened while you were knitting.

A: No one incident really stands out as unusual or notable. I get looks and a few comments but I haven't really had a particular incident happen. For a general event though I think that would be going to New York City to go sing at Carnegie Hall with some of my fellow singers in "Sing For the Cure". During that time I was working on a cardigan sweater for the Knitting Olympics. The trip occurred right in the middle of the Olympics. I got a lot of knitting done on the flights and during rehearsals. A lot of the vibe in that went into the sweater so despite its flaws, it's a special sweater for me.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


For all of you who are sweating and suffering in the heat, I'm sorry. I feel so bad for you. Almost guilty. Almost. This year has been a cool summer up here in River City. I'm not sure why but it's unusual for us to have days where the highs only get up into the 70's at this time of year. Some have been whining (whinging for you other English-speaking folks ;) ) that we haven't had a summer here. Kidlets, get over it. You'll be happier when you look at your electricity bill.

Wind 'em Up

Since I've started spinning (albeit slowly), one of the tools that would be handy would be a reel-type skein winder. I could use a niddy noddy or a swift, but using a niddy noddy can be tiring and a swift doesn't keep the lengths even. I'm looking for plans for such a beast but so far haven't come up with anything. If I can get plans or can work out a plan for a winder, I may be able to get it made up if I knit some socks and pay for the wood. Any tips or leads would be most appreciated.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

And now: your letters

Thank you everyone for your positive response on the socks. M-H writes "Er, Duffy, I don't think that age has anything to do with the brightness of your socks! I wear bright coloured socks all the time, and I'm quite a bit older than you." You're right. It's not age. I figured out what it is about the multi-dyed sock yarns that I don't like and it's the striping that the yarns do. (I have short wide feet and chunky ankles) When broken up with a different yarn, though, they give an appearance that I like.

As for a pattern, I'm working on that. The trick is that with a motif like this it's not easy to set it up for different foot sizes. I thought that working the motif twice would be the right size for my foot before starting the heel but I found that not to be the case. I also have to figure out what I need to do for my high instep and the leg. So I'll be looking at different motifs so that the pattern can be written up for several foot sizes.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I like it

It reminds me of a carpet from middle Asia. Remember the carpets?