Friday, December 29, 2006

It's Back to Socks

Christmas is over, the decorations are coming down today and I'm back to socks. I think it's because Eddie ate my sock that I'm fixed on making socks from all wool - they just feel better. I got caught up in the craze of knitting computer dyed, self-striping socks, but they abrade the soles of my feet when I walk. I dug through my stash of handspun and decided that these two yarns would make nice socks together since I didn't have enough of either to make anything else. The green was some Polworth that I had spun white, so I squeezed green on to the yarn then just dotted it with The Purple and steamed it. The Purple was from a dye day years ago when too much purple was added to a pot and we all had bottles of it for a very long time. I also had a number of white skeins that I had done when I was just learning - this Polworth was the last of those. The lavender I bought at Lambtown. Amy was buying beautiful batts from some ladies and I desperately wanted to buy something too, but didn't really like anything. I bought one Cormo/silk batt and this was it. The results are great - almost looks like I planned it! Years ago when she still worked at the Truckee Variety Store, Diane Soucy had given me a sock pattern which I have since memorized. She also told me that eight inches was usually a good size for a sock, so I calculate my gauge to that and knit all my socks from the pattern in my head.

At lunch with Amy last Friday, the subject came up of the yarn that she had given me a couple of years ago. I told her that I had looked for it and couldn't find it. She remembered that she had given it to me because she didn't like it but couldn't remember why. She dyed it with KoolAid and didn't like the pastel results. Amy doesn't like pastel and she especially doesn't like pink. This yarn was a little of both. I found it yesterday while looking for something else. I'm really happy with what I see so far.

Socks aside, have you noticed how young people say "no problem" when you thank them? At least I think it's a generational thing. When someone thanks me, I say "you're welcome" because I'm glad to have been able to help. I thank a young person for assistance and I get "no problem." That suggests to me that I had been a problem but they're assuring me that they're letting it go. I'm not liking this new version very much. Am I turning into an old crank??

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve our Reno family gathers at our house, and then on Christmas Day everyone goes different directions. But for this one evening, one loud and crazy evening, we love and celebrate Christmas and us - our family. I think this gathering is my favorite Christmas present.

~The Little Cousins~

~The Big Cousins~

My daughter-in-law is getting ready to read the traditional Christmas Story. Kiernan is absent as he's upstairs with his uncles' Legos - they refuse to take them home with them so we have tubs and tubs of Legos. Kiernan only came downstairs to eat and unwrap presents. I like Legos - they don't require batteries.

Allie is in her pretty Jasmine costume parts. The actual costume was a Christmas Day present yet to come from her parents - all packed in our luggage from Disneyland. Her slippers have genie-like pointy toes and she carefully shuffled around in them all evening. I love the look on her face - she is Jasmine. Chris, her mother, is a bellydancer so the costume has special significance. We also brought back from Disneyland the dreadlocks of Captain Jack Sparrow and a giant three-point pirate hat for Kiernan, Allie's brother. Aaargh~

I read in other blogs of all the wonderful and thoughtful Christmas presents being lovingly and slightly frantically knitted. I didn't knit a thing this year - I didn't want all that pressure. I've been taking fused glass classes over the past year and Ian suggested that I give some of the ornaments that I had made as gifts. I really enjoyed the fun of making different Christmas trees and that's what I gave.

I don't understand why I love the glass so much. It's like antithetical to wool. I just hope I don't keep loving it because kilns can cost as much as looms. And there's the thing about time. From one junkie to another - you understand, right?

And please note that the pumpkin in the picture on the right is the same as Amy posted to her blog. I think that means I gave her one and me one too. Is that so wrong?

And long story short, this Christmas I got to meet my youngest son's girlfriend for the first time. I thought that was pretty cool

Probably the most unexpected present ever was that my children in Reno had arranged to have a professional photographer take pictures of themselves and their families on the main UNR campus, all of them dressed in white. Just months ago, Ian's children had presented us with an astounding picture of them taken last summer on the beach by the Seal Beach pier by a professional photographer, all of them wearing white. The locations of the pictures are significant, and while our children know each other, they did not consult each other. It couldn't have been a cooler Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Almost Christmas

I went into town this morning to finish up a couple of last minute things and met Amy and my daughter Chris on campus for lunch. It’s so much easier to park on campus when school isn’t in session. My granddaughter Allie is in on-campus daycare so Chrissie brought her to lunch too - it's a condition of having lunch together. I took Allie's sweater that I had crocheted four rows around the whole thing twice. I was nervous that the neck was too big but I just couldn’t bring myself to redo the crocheted edge yet again. I just don’t love to crochet, even though I can. We all decided that the sweater will do.

I’m done with the cute sweater idea. I like Birdsong’s little animals and I realize they have much more kid appeal than a frustrating sweater. In the future I’ll stick to the Knitting Pure and Simple patterns of Diane Soucy. They’ve done well for me in the past and the sweaters fit for a long time. I do think I’ll order some superwash roving since the real fun for me is in the spinning.

We ate at the Overlook, a student restaurant that is in the top level of the old student union and overlooks Manzanita Lake. “Ana see the ducks,” said Allie. So we went to see the ducks. The “ducks” are actually Canadian Geese and a some swans, but it doesn’t matter to Allie. She loves to watch the ducks. It’s so cold, they’re mostly “on” the lake.

And speaking of cold, we got some snow last night. Driving home was so difficult that I had to follow the tire tracks of the previous vehicle for about seven miles because I couldn’t define the edge of the road and because the swirling snow was so disorienting. Today it’s hard to believe I’m not making that up. We just have a dusting on the mountains, like powdered sugar.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Testing, Testing

This is the first picture on my blog from my Nikon Coolpix. The color seems nice but I'm not sure about the detail. I'll try it for a while but if I'm not happy, will go back to Ian's DSLR. It's just too big to haul around Disneyland.
I took this picture last night with Ian's camera of Buster with his toy in front of the fire. He thinks he's a tough guy, but he plays with dolls. This is not the dog who ate my sock.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Back from Disneyland

We’re back from Disneyland, broke, exhausted and happy. We went with son, DIL, DIL’s mother and two grandsons. Christmas, Disneyland and grandsons doth a merry medicine make. Also broke, or so we thought, was the camera. I set it down too sharply and it responded by refusing to take any more pictures, as if it decided 264 was enough. I felt terrible – it’s Ian’s baby – and so I decided to spend soap money on a new point-and-shoot camera for me when we got home.

This is my new baby and the good news is that the delightful folks at Gordon’s put Ian’s camera back into working order in minutes, at no charge. This is our second Nikon Coolpix, the first we purchased about four years ago and have since moved it on to live with son-in-law-equivalent, Michael. He likes it and I don’t feel guilty about not using it.

That camera was nearly as large as Ian’s Nikon DSLR, so I took a second shot of my new camera with my cell phone for scale. It’s tiny and still has 8.1 megapixels. I think it also has video – not sure.

Since we were flying I took two knitting projects, just in case I ran out of knitting. I was thrilled to finish the socks from my Navajo-plied yarn (earlier blog called Navajo Plying) and was even more thrilled how much alike they came out. I have found that socks from 100% wool are comfortable where the nylon/wool blends tend to be abrasive.

This is my second pair of all wool socks, or so I thought – until I found one of the socks from my first pair on Eddie’s dog bed. I got the message – he loves to go to the kennel but he really missed me.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cutting the Soap

The soap is ready to be cut into bars after it has been in the mold for at least 24 hours. I had my mold custom made by The Soap Saloon in Sacramento. The end is hinged and opens to allow me to slide out the bottom tray. My cuttings tools, which I purchsed on the Internet, are on the counter to the right of the mold.

One tool slices slices the slab into five bricks.

You can see how the piano wire cuts through the brick.

The second tool slices the brick into individual bars. The bars will need to cure for three weeks before they are ready to be cleaned and wrapped with the Campbell label. I also purchased a tool to finish off the sharp edges, but I’ve found that a potato peeler works faster and better. So my edge finishing tool is an aluminum potato peeler that I received as a wedding present in 1968. That and my “goofy” knife, as Ian calls it, are my favorite wedding presents. He, the retired butcher, has teased me about my goofy knife for ten years, then admitted the other day that he uses it. Hmmmmm.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Morning Visitor

This is the visitor in our back yard this morning. We put up this partial barn loom as a place to hang bird feeders, but we've never attracted anything but songbirds and quail - until today. I don't know what he is, but he's big. He didn’t stay long, but that’s okay. I had to leave for work. I’m just glad he came at all.