Saturday, May 31, 2008

Not an ordinary scarf

Back in January, Ted sent an invitation out to selected folks to participate in a Fiber to Shawl exchange. It was an opportunity to get to try out some different fiber and practice my spinning skills. I knew there would be some experienced spinners in the group so I was a little intimidated but I felt that since this was intended for a project I would have a purpose, a time line, and practice. So if some of the yarn ended up as barf, it was still an experience.
I sent in my info and some fiber and received in return this. It was 8 oz of Black Bunny Fibers Emerald City Blue Faced Leicester. Say this with me: mmmmmmm......

There was one thing about it that the picture doesn't really do justice to it. It was green. Vibrant spring green. Or, as I saw it, Kermit the Frog green. It was immediately dubbed the Frog Hair.

At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it so some of my early yarn was rather thin and overspun. As I got used to it, it said it wanted to be heavier. Also, while I was spinning it I was trying to think what would be a good pattern for the yarn. It would be uneven but not too much so, so a lace type pattern was out of the question in my mind. Framed stockinette would have been rather blah and show the flaws of the yarn more than I would like. Plain rib would have been tedious, but a brioche rib was easy and give it enough texture to make it interesting. So I opted for basic brioche. The results were very pleasing.

The more I worked with the fiber, the more it worked with me and the yarn grew more and more consistent. Soon I was finished with the spinning and was knitting away. Would it be enough, I worried. It was worsted weight yarn and only 8 oz of fiber, and being a newbie didn't yet have the instinct built on what I could produce with what quantities. It turned out that my fears were unfounded. It was perfect. Perfect length, perfect width, perfect quantity. And the color was gorgeous.

I contacted Ted to let him know the scarf was done and he sent me the name of my recipient: Mona Schmidt. Ted said, "Go ahead and blog about it." So who is Mona Schmidt? Well, she has published several patterns in IK and has her blog here. She hails from Germany but now lives in Montreal. She's going to have a girl (congratulations!). Her knitting is beautiful!

I'm glad you like the scarf, Mona. It was a pleasure to make it from scratch. So any pics of you with it?

A new challenge

This summer I'm doing a fair bit of traveling which will include some flying time. Since there will be few distractions, I'll be able to sit and work on something fairly complex. One thing I was thinking of taking with me was the Rose of England piece I had started and set aside last year. I picked it up the other day and realized that I would have to tink back a bit to figure out where I was as the stitch count didn't quite match up with what I had marked on the pattern.

When this came up on the Spin Sales list as an eBay auction, I was sorely tempted. It would be a long project though. But I could swatch it. I had yarn I could substitute for the Merino Lace it calls for to see if it works for it. The pic shows you how thin the yarn is. And to tell you how nuts I'm getting on this I'm actually considering doing it in black or white. Black for wearing as evening wear or white for summer or other wear. If I ever get married I want to at least have my veil in my trousseau.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Horticultural Intervention

I have some really nice and patient neighbors behind me. I'm not the greatest neighbor to have as I don't really take care of my yard like I should. The back yard, while small, is overrun with weeds and ivy and I don't prune my Japanese cherry very often.

It's the tree they were concerned about because it casts a lot of shade on their property. The tree is I think as old as the house if not a decade younger and taller than my house.

So when they mentioned the tree, I was afraid they wanted it taken out. "Oh no," they said. "We just want to trim it so that we can get more sunlight in our yard." They'd do it right, not just hack away at the branches leaving a flat side. They'd do the whole tree for free. All I needed to do is get someone to haul the debris away. No problem. I found a hauler who would do the cleanup and take away the debris.

So this is the before. Overgrown with sports and sprigs growing everywhere.

Now, this is the after. After one big truckful of debris and 3 hours of work. The hauler was quite nice and efficient. It was an excellent opportunity for getting rid of some other yard debris I had in the yard that had been there for a while.

Space! Air! It's going to be a happy tree this summer.

Don't tell me lace isn't addictive.

Someone posted on the Knitting for Sale list the Melanie Shawl pattern by Sharon Miller being up on eBay. Since it's still in print, I didn't think that one could get a good deal on it, but I put a watch on it. Sure enough there were a couple of bidders, but it was still below the exchange rate. So I threw a bid on it and won it! With postage it's a few dollars more than what I would have gotten for it from Heirloom Knitting, but who knows what with air mail postage from the UK to the US if that would have made up the difference. Has anyone knitted it in anything other than the HK Merino Lace? I was thinking the Baruffa FA RE laceweight because that's pretty fine stuff and the HK Merino Lace called for in the pattern is reeeeeally fine stuff. Like fat thread.

In the meantime, I'm working away at the Voyager Lace Stole and liking it and the Berroco Comfort yarn quite a bit. I'm doing it wider than what the pattern calls for but then I'm wider than the model demonstrating the stole.

Have a safe Memorial Day, folks in the US!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

By popular demand

It's been a while since the Yarn Harlot came to Portland but I keep getting requests for the lyrics for the song I sang for her at the Oregon Forestry Center. Here is the video:

Yarn Harlot Serenade from akimbo on Vimeo. And here are the lyrics.

(To "My Little Deuce Coupe")

It's a travelin' sock. You don' know what I got.

You'll see me walkin' down any ole street

With my open toe Birkies on my fancy feet

Fingers are a'flyin' on my dpn's

I'll end up with a sock when I get to the end.

It's my travelin' sock. You don' know what I got.

It's knitted real fine out of STR

The colorway matches with the sweaters I wear

I did the heel flap gusset and a springy cast on

And all my friends say that they are the bomb

It's my travelin' sock. You don't know what I got.

It's been to Nashville, Charlotte, and Atlanta Gee Aay

I always have it with me wherever I stay.

And if that ain't enough for you to flip your lid,

I get people posin' with it for my weblog, Daddy.

And when I lay down in my bed at night,

I think of all those stitches all neat and tight.

I think of all the joy it gives while I'm having fun,

And fancy new socks I'll have when I am done.

It's my travelin' sock. You don't know what I got.

It's my travelin' sock. You don't know what I got.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Chocolate Truck arrived!

I had remembered I needed to take a photo of the Knitters Without Borders sock when just as I opened the door the local driver of UPS arrived with a box I had been waiting for. It was a shipment from WEBS.

When I had browsed through a copy of Vogue Knitting a couple of weeks ago, I saw a pattern advertised by that looked interesting but not too complex. It was the Voyager Lace Stole. What captivated me about it was its texture. The leaves make a wavy texture due to the decreases uses instead of being flat like some lace. The hunt through the stash produced nothing that would work for a summerweight item, so I hunted on WEBS and came up with this. The colors are stunning and the red I had chosen so nummy that I'm going gaga over it. The swatch next to it is Cascade 220.

When I looked over the pattern, I was thinking that something with a different shaping would work better for covering my shoulders and arms. It was a case of charting the pattern, playing with the main motif, and seeing what I could do to make it a different shape. This arrived as well to help me along.

Oh yeah. The KWB socks. I think my foot's larger than The Yarn Harlot's friend because I really got great stripes out of it. The hoo hah along the cuff is a cable. I thought I'd play with a cable to make it more interesting to knit. So far it's killing my hands turning stitches that small and I don't trust the stitches enough to just let them lie without a cable needle.

Retreat (continued)

I'm home with the crud that someone's loving child probably passed on to me while I was at the beach. Unlike some who have had this it's so far not lain me so low that I can't get out of bed. I'm hoping today's day off from work will conquer it.

My adventure at the beach didn't end with my departure from South Beach. Since I was alone, I could take any route home I wanted. So I stopped at a local fish joint, picked up some fish and chips (halibut, salmon, and albacore tuna -- yum!), and headed to Devil's Punch Bowl at Otter Rock, a favorite stop at the beach for me. It's between Depoe Bay and Newport and features a formation formed from a sea cave whose roof had collapsed years ago, forming a bowl that the sea flows into and churns. When I got there, the tide was out and people were wandering inside the bowl, so I missed the wave action. But there were a few surfers out on the water doing their thing.

While I was munching on my fish and chips, I noticed squirrels coming out to forage. Naturally at a state park like this the squirrels are more tame than most wild squirrels thanks to the droppings left by humans during their picnics or handouts given to them. What struck me was their coats compared to those I see in the city. The centuries of life at the beach have generated a coat more grizzled and capable of hiding in sandy areas. Compare these guys to ones you see around your place.

Yesterday I was listening to the taping I did of the retreat and we don't sound too bad. A little polishing and we'll be ready for concerts in June. They will be the weekend of the 14th in Portland and Salem. The last rehearsal session break saw the completion of the Noro brioche scarf, nice and long for those days when the east wind blows.

Back to bed now.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Back from the beach

This weekend was chorus retreat weekend. In the spring and fall we go somewhere where we can spend the night and have an intensive series of rehearsals. It's exhausting but the results are great. Most of the time, anyway. This was one of the good weekends and I was able to get soprano centered recordings for making a rehearsal tape.

We stayed at South Beach State Park which has RV places and yurts for accommodations. The yurts are similar to cabins in RV parks: heated, have electric hookups, and have bunks and a futon bed for sleeping. You bring your own bedding and make sure they're clean when you leave. Food is a communal thing -- each section takes on a meal then the chorus goes out one evening -- and there are showers and flush toilets.

Retreat is also a good way for folks to get to know each other a little more. So we have our meals together, have a no-talent show, and revel in our cameraderie of mutual exhaustion.

With the arrival of spring, there were tiny wildflowers and spring growth everywhere. The misty rain added an extra sparkle to the leaves and made for pretty pictures.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Missing my date with 100 men

I don't know what it is with me these days. My memory has never been great but there are days when I catch myself forgetting something something simple. My brain immediately whirls to fear. Am I getting Alzheimer's? Am I having small strokes? Is it from menopause? Is it reversable? Or am I whirling down a terrifying maelstrom of mindlessness? I've been watching my mental functions and I don't have any problems with learning new things, comprehending things I've read, or remembering music. I'm thinking this is a side effect of my change in hormones from having my hysterectomy.

It doesn't excuse the fact that I've missed seeing the Portland Gay Men's Chorus twice in a row, even though I have season tickets this year.

Back in March they had their cabaret that promised to be a lot of fun. It happened on the first day of March, so the turning of the calendar was how I didn't remember the concert. This time around I was determined to not forget the concert. It was on Saturday. I was not planning any other events on Saturday, using the day to rest and enjoy the men singing. I had my breakfast, did some cleaning, took a nap in the afternoon, then woke up in time to shower and dress and go out for a little bit of dinner before the concert. It was going to be at the First Congregational Church which meant that parking was going to be tricky, but I found a spot and after a latte and scone went to the park across the street to wait. I wasn't going to miss it this time. Right?

After noting the lack of activity at the church I took a look at the ticket. May 3rd. 2 pm.


I think next time I'm going to hook up with friends and go with them. It will ensure that I get there. In the meantime, the PGMC have my donation toward their concerts.