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.