Saturday, October 10, 2020

My Favorite Month in the World

 I am very fortunate to count myself a member of the Knitterbugs, an active group who have become even closer over the course of quarantine.  We used to gather three times a week in different locations - a restaurant, a knitting store and when we lost our third location, in each others homes.  Now we use a cell phone app called WhatsApp to keep in touch and Zoom to host our three meetings.  Attendance is random but we just chat and knit and meet in parks when conditions allow.  This was our meet-up last Sunday afternoon, the largest group I've met with but we practice social distancing and move our chairs occasionally, to keep in the shade and also to talk to someone else without shouting.  I'm going to miss this more than I ever dreamed.  We're going to try to meet outdoors on the days when bundling up is sufficient.

One of the group had these signs made up as her contribution to the election effort.  This one was spoken for but she dropped two off at our house the next day, one for us and one for our neighbor.  This brings our election signs collection up to five and it's getting crowded!!
Our neighbors Joann and Lee have a grandson only three months younger than Delaney.  We've talked about play dates since we found out we were expecting.  Lee even put a gate in our fence in anticipation.  Last week the day finally arrived.  The weather was perfect and they were both awake at the same time.  Delaney was super shy at first but Jasper goes to preschool and helped her feel at home.  He very graciously shared his grandma.  I'm looking forward to more, and hopefully before the weather turns.

I knitted this little rabbit for Delaney and she has loved him to pieces, literally.  I'm going to have to knit another pair of pants as these aren't holding up well.  I'm also in the process of making him a companion, because everyone knows there's no such thing as one rabbit.
I haven't been able to do one of my favorite things, sit on the patio and read.  Mornings are too cold now and usually I'm so involved in something that afternoons become evenings before I know it.  Delaney took a super late nap yesterday and I took advantage of the time for a me-and-patio timeout.  You can see the fingers of autumn at work.  We've now been Oregon residents for five years and I've loved all of it.

I've had a tough time with my feet.  I'm still doing the exercises I came home with after two months of PT and it's just going to be matter of sticking with it.  So far I've been good and they haven't gotten any worse but I'm hoping for signs of improvement.  Alas I haven't had much success with weaving footwear.  I need a stable sole and generous forefoot without being so wide I depress two treadles at a time.  Years ago I remember the weaving instructor Laura Fry saying that she wove in ballet slippers.  I've just learned that this is a common practice.  I got on Amazon and ordered a pair - so far, so good.
I haven't been doing much weaving this year and I really do miss it.  Babysitting won't last forever and I can always weave afterwards but I can't do it the other way around.  I'm still on the Summer and Winter weave structure battleground.  These colors are hideous.  You don't have to tell me that.  I bought a bunch of cones of 8/2 cotton from the Yarn Barn of Kansas mill ends club several years ago - great deal, but only if I use them.  I've had these so long they've got dust on top.  I think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I got betta' - I'm not dead yet.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Saying goodbye to summer

 The Color Confidence workshop with Sarah Jackson ended last Friday and my head is stuffed with information.  She is my favorite designer in Handwoven and I hope to put what I learned to good use.  Our summer and winter sampler had a section of colors we chose from a inspiration photo and wrapped yarn on a cardboard strip to help us plan placement and value.  Another time I'd choose something less vigorous than zinnias, maybe.

I finished Sarah Jackson's prayer shawl weave-along, my first time to weave with the shadow weave structure.  I've warped my loom and am weaving another one to help cement what I learned on this one.
I think is going to become a gift as I'm just not a shawl person.  Maybe I can weave this as cloth?

Our kitty is seven years old now and has always eaten Iams dry cat food but lately her coat has looked ragged and her vomiting more frequent.  At the suggestion of a friend we switched her to grain free food, the logic being that cats are carnivores and wouldn't eat grains if left on their own.  The improvement is remarkable.
Ian also read that raising their dish helps to eliminate vomiting and promote digestion.  I can't tell how helpful it is since we've also changed her food, but she's a less messy eater now.
The same friend who suggested the change in our cat's diet also got me turned onto making my own kimchi.  My first batch was cabbage and chard from our garden.  I'm soaking the greens in saltwater in this photo.

It turned out so good that I made a second batch today.  If you're interested, the author says the recipe is from her mother-in-law and you can find it here.  
The earwigs were ferocious this year.  I want to plant cabbage again next year but set out soysauce/oil traps right at the beginning.  One of my friends insists she killed thousands with the traps.  I find that hard to believe but any would be better than this.  I'll figure out a way to avoid the raccoons next years - maybe just cottage cheese lids.  If you're wondering why the cabbage head is in water, I'm drowning earwigs.
The geese are gone, much to my relief.  They're pretty to look at but miserable to share a trail with.  The canal is still flowing, but I noticed this morning on my walk that there's a drop in water level.  It's been a rough water year for farmers so no doubt they're filling their stock ponds anticipating the end of the irrigation canal for 2020.
We've had the first killer frost and said goodbye to the garden.  Our maple tree is an early harbinger of autumn and October arrives this Thursday, my favorite month of the year.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Bringing color indoors

Our sunflowers can't thrive without sun and I think they exemplify the feelings in our hearts.  Photos from the Valley are shocking.  Fires continue to burn and at the governor's briefing this afternoon we were apprised that containment is at 20%, but perimeters are holding and in some areas evacuees have been allowed to return, Canby being one of them.  Black Sheep Gathering will have a place to gather next year; the fairgrounds were spared.

I knitted this sweater for Delaney before she was born.  The morning was chilly so it was packed in along with her clothes for the day.  I love this color so much

She is trying to process what is on her arms and after careful consideration decided she didn't like it.  It's been bare-arm weather in her recent memory.
She liked it much better as a toy.  There's plenty of room for her to grow into it so maybe when it's cooler she'll have more patience with sleeves.  It's Malabrigos Rios yarn which is worsted weight wool and I have a feeling will always be too warm for casual wear.  
I've completed two days of the six sessions of my Color Confidence zoom class taught by Sarah Jackson.  This is my sampler using colors pulled from a color inspiration photo.  There are 23 of us and the potential for chaos has been thwarted by the establishment of simple ground rules. We mute ourselves during the instruction period, and if we have a question, we just say in the Chat field, I have a question.  It's the closest to normal anything has felt in a long time.
I got some of my homework done after the morning guild meeting and class session yesterday afternoon.  I squeezed in some more during Delaney's nap this afternoon.  I'm not going to weave any more until tomorrow afternoon's lecture so I make the best use of remaining warp.  This part of the sampler is in summer and winter, a draft I'm still trying to get my head around.
These are the last towels I finished and they're in summer and winter.  I like the thick cloth which is ideal for towels.  I think my next towels will be single shuttle crackle weave with at least six colors.  My expectation from this class is that I will make informed color decisions.


Friday, September 11, 2020

And it gets worse

I'm sure it hasn't escaped your notice that the West Coast is on fire.  We have been blessedly free of wildfires in our immediate area and until today, we have also been free of smoke.  It's the "wind event" blowing from east to west coupled with low humidity and dry conditions that have caused these fires to blow up.  Downed trees pulling down power lines have contributed to the explosive situation.  Fully 10% of our citizens are under evacuation orders, and as I type this, Estacada, a suburb of Portland, is being evacuated.  Many towns have been erased and the death toll is mounting.  

Because personnel have been occupied with public safety and marshalling effective evacuations, most of the fires are at zero containment.  According to the state fire marshall, they would be able to finally fight fires today.  Ashland, home of the Shakespeare Festival, has 2,000 residents without homes tonight and the nearby towns of Talent and Phoenix are gone.  Parts of Lincoln City on the coast have burned.  It's sickening.  Our leaders didn't take global warming seriously and it's serious business. 

 I took this photo from our back door this morning.  The winds have shifted to the normal west to east pattern, sending us choking smoke and bringing in some marine air and increased humidity which should help fire crews.  Our AQI this afternoon is 515 and we're not going outside unless we have to.  Fire storm?  You better believe it.

I don't get a lot of anything done on the days we have the baby but now that she can occupy herself better, I am able to knit enough to finish some projects, like this one, another cotton sweater from a Heidi Kerrmaier pattern called Purl Strings.
This cotton sweater from a Churchmouse pattern was a project last spring and it finally fits.
Grandpa and Delaney are watching the Muppet Show as a step in winding down before a nap.  She's at one nap a day and it's usually around 2:00.  I had planned to take her to the park today but we didn't even go outside to the patio.  Visibility is still very low this evening and I am very sad.


Friday, September 04, 2020

Entering the sixth month with Covid

I got my materials for the Sarah Jackson workship, Color Confidence, and have been warping my loom as the heat upstairs allows.  Each of us got a packet of five colors, no two are the same.  This is the image that inspired my colors.

You can see how closely they match.  We were instructed to choose the color packet we were least drawn to but I liked them all but one, and I didn't pick it.
The warps arrived already wound but without a counting thread.  I tried to improvise and finally just decided to spread the yarn as evenly as I could.  I reminded myself that this is a workshop sampler.
We started this month off with a birthday - Matt's 40th!  He also started off this month running his own company.  This has been a dream of his ever since he got into setting tile, so in spite of his very successful run as a project manager for a construction company, he got his contractor's license and as of this week is Double Diamond Tile.  Julia is the vice-president and office manager.  She has to continue working two days a week so we now will add watching Delaney every other Tuesday so she can focus on paperwork.  You can't focus on anything and watch a toddler!!

A friend told me that she had solved her earwig problem with soy sauce/oil traps so I read about how to make them online and installed one using a cottage cheese container.  I never thought about the raccoons.  So I'm back to the old way of putting a head of cabbage in a pot of water and drowning dozens.  I do a final bath to make sure they're all gone and use the half of a head that they didn't eat.
I planted some sunflower seeds months ago.  I wanted those saucy blooms that look so pretty in a bouquet, but what we got our these monsters that we have staked up with a tomato cage.  The finches have loved these, eating the leaves, and when the seeds mature, the jays will eat them.  We want to feed the birds so next year I'll plant these again and also plant the saucy ones for cut flowers.
The only thing I have to weave on right now is the Prayer Shawl from Sarah Jackson's weave-along.  This has stretched me the most of anything yet even though it's only four shafts, but I know now that I like Shadow Weave and will weave it again.  Between the heat upstairs and the hours babysitting, I am weaving very slowly on this.
I finally finished something - ten more towels for inventory.  I have always had Christmas sales opportunities but in lockdown I don't know how that will go.  Often I'm contact directly and am able to sell towels that way.  I don't want to be caught unprepared.
The weather is hot all this week and I know how much Delaney loves to be outside so that's how we started today, on the patio, knowing that we would be in the house for the rest of the day.  It's scorching and yet our maple tree has already started to turn red for autumn.  Mixed message!


Sunday, August 30, 2020


Local birds have are indicating that it's time to migrate.  I haven't seen geese along the canal trail in quite a while but I hear them overheard, going south.  I don't know what ducks do but they won't have the canal much longer as it will be shut off at the end of the irrigation season.  Two of the smaller irrigation companies have had to shut their water off early.  We're feeling the drought especially hard this year.

I could hear our neighbor Lee and his granddaughter Robin pulling up potatoes this morning while I was knitting on the patio.  They were excited to show it to Ian to see if he's ever had one this big.  Nope!  Robin calls it her potato duck; it really does look like a duck without a bill.  Boy was she excited.
I was off by a day - thought it was Saturday which was disappointing.  My two days of free time suddenly shrank by half.  I have been working on this shawl all week, a little at a time, so today I wove long enough to see what it's going to look like.  This is my first time with Shadow Weave.
This is the warp for the Color Confidence workshop taught by Zoom from Sarah Jackson.  She provided all the yarn and even wound all the 3-yard warps herself.   I look forward to seeing the colors and patterns build when I start weaving Our first session is September 14th at 2:00.  

This year is flying by.  I have one more week of PT for my knees and do the 15 minutes of home exercises before I even get out of bed.  I've walked the last three mornings with Ian and am back up to two pain-free miles.  My last bone density test was not good so I'm tackling the exercises and walking as if my life depended on it because it does.  

I'm filling in as our guild's newsletter editor until elections in November.  Our 89-year-old dedicated editor had wanted to give it up for a long time.  I kept hearing that I needed to do something so I did.  I took in on.  Did I mention that I'm president this year?  The year of a pandemic and Zoom.  I took the lead from the Portland guild and chose a virtual platform called Mailchimp to get us moved into the 21st century.  I've never enjoyed learning software and this was no exception but now that I've tamed the confusion, I find it pretty agreeable to work with.  
We watched Delaney three days last week.  Son Matt has always wanted to own his own tile installation company.  His birthday is Wednesday and this week marks the beginning of his dream come true.  Both he and Julia are the company and we are taking on two extra days a month so Julia can focus on office work.  It scares me to see him leave such a successful job as a production manager but he's already got work lined up through October.  

Oregon is holding steady on Covid-19 infections and I do my best to not take risks.  We went out to dinner last evening for Ian's birthday and browsed our favorite indie bookstore afterward where he ordered a book.  One day at a time.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

Finishing things, starting things

I don't make soap to sell anymore but I like it too much to stop making it altogether.  I've discovered that one batch makes enough to get us through a year, and it's that time again.  I looked at the upcoming week and realized that yesterday was the day.  The kitchen is pretty small so I have to put things away after I get them out, which really is no different than my weaving studio.  

I've made soap for over 20 years and things change from year to year.  I still use the equipment I started with with the exception of the electric stick blender.  Now soap is poured into silicon molds and if I were starting out now, I'd invest in some.  The palm oil and sodium hydroxide I was using yesterday were completely new to me.  I was nervous about the volume of the flaked lye but since I measure by weight, it turned out to be soap in the end.
I wrap it up in one of my favorite quilts and let sit for 24 hours before I cut the bars.  And then the bars cure for a month before they're ready for use.  We only have a couple bars left so I felt the ticking clock.

I started this morning by attending church on our patio.  I must admit that it's mighty nice to take my coffee and iPad outside and be there.
I've signed up for Sarah Jackson's Prayer Shawl weave-along.  This was a difficult warp for me so I only did it in increments so I could stay focused and even then I had to redo more often than I wanted.  It changed from light/dark to dark/light and the heddles changed direction with the color change.  Clearly I need more practice with this.  I finished the last of it this afternoon and recounted everything again.  I'm sure there are lurking errors anyway.
I also finished the Summer and Winter dishtowels.  I made too many threading errors.  I probably should put on more warp and do it again, but this evening I'm tired of them.  I had dangling loops on the backside of two towels which I started trying to stitch in place, but then decided - the heck with it.  I'll hem them and use them as hostess gifts.  They look good from the front.
I'll wash them with the towels this week and start hemming.  I have 16 towels to hem which is more than a little daunting.

I took away the automatic pencil that Delaney loved and have substituted three fat crayons.  She was pretty angry at first but is getting along just fine with the switch.  I'll see how she does with the little pads this week and maybe tape some butcher paper to one of the walls as has been suggested to me.  The problem I see if that she might not understand the difference between the paper and the wall.  I figured these little pads are good for this week at least.  And the good news, I've found another work-around that I think will still be effective after Google does their upgrade in September.