Thursday, January 31, 2013

Saying Goodbye to January

The weather has been kinder of late so I was finally able to stitch the yarn bomb onto our gate. I'm thinking about making one for the top bar..
I finished the lap robe I've been weaving for Noah's Waldorf school fundraiser later this spring.  We're going next month to grandparents day again so will be able to deliver this and I'm really happy with it.  The gray is from a sheep in my brother's flock and the white is from one of our boys.  It's bi-flockal.
 My great-grand-
daughter is due March 7th.  She is the daughter born to the son my daughter surrendered for adoption when she was 16.  Phew - that's a mouthful.  Thanks to his fabulous adoptive parents, we've been able to participate in his life for the last five years.  Christina and Alexia are flying back in April to meet the new baby - grandma and aunt. 
I bought the baby blanket as a kit from Yarn Barn.  It's been an uphill battle for me, by far the most complex thing I've woven.  It's really wide and that's a new set of problems - reaching and proofing out of sight danglers.  It's really fiddly - I hope I like it when it's done because I don't like it right now.
I've been knitting on a sweater from my massive collection  of Smith and Jamison Shetland using a pattern from the latest Vogue Knitting.  I said it was a swatch and it has been.  I've learned a lot about stranded knitting in this exercise.

And since it was a working swatch, I seamed the shoulders differently. The one on the left is the two needle bind off.  The one on the right is where I bound both shoulders off and then mattress stitched them together.  I've always loved the exactness of the two-needle bind off but now I can see that it looks like it was machine stitched.  I won't use it again.

And news on the substitute school librarian front.  I got a call late last week from Shiree, the program coordinator.  She said she was ready to train me on the new catalog and also have me sub for a day.  It turned out that I and another sub worked at a high school on Tuesday while their staff trained school librarians on the new catalog.  It was so much fun.  Most subbing will be in the elementary grades since they have one staff person per library - I'm good with that.   Lemony Snicket, here I come.

As for the books I've recently read and liked:

Round House, by Louise Erdrich
My Mother was Nuts, by Penny Marshall
Blue Latitudes: Boldly going where Captain Cook as never gone before, by Tony Horwitz
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
Shadow of the Silk Road, by Colin Thubron

Friday, January 25, 2013

Narnia Redux

I took the camera with me when the dogs and I went for a walk on Thursday.  I've been taking them for a walk whenever it got up close to freezing.  We haven't had snow in weeks but the temps just haven't let it melt.

The road can be a little slick in spots and I have slipped a couple of times but its' really not too bad as long as I bundle up good.  It's good to get out of the house.
The high desert is pretty in its own stark way.   The phone call I've been waiting for came yesterday.  I'm finally getting trained on the new school district library catalog and my first day to sub will be Tuesday.  I'll be at North Valleys High School all day - no more cabin fever for me.
Meanwhile, I've been working on the lap robe for our grandson's Waldorf school fundraiser later this spring.  We're going to San Francisco for "grandparents day" in March and I'd like to have this finished before then.
I finished the yarn bomb for our gate but I can't sew it on until it gets warmer.  My fingers don't work when they're that cold.  I will have it on the gate by Superbowl Sunday, no matter what.
Today it's 40 degrees, warm enough to melt snow finally, but the ground is frozen so there's no where for it to go and no more walking until this stage passes.  The dogs don't like it.  I don't like it.
My sister-in-law just shipped Alexia's toys that got left behind at New Years.  She brought along a tote of My Littlest Pet Shops and generously shared them with the other children, which kept them entertained and us grateful.  I never knew you could get Campbell tartan packing tape.  I want some!
And aren't these little paper packing "peanuts" interesting.  I'm wondering how they could be used in a craft project.  They're just too interesting to throw away.  Anyone seen these?  Anyone know what to do with them??

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Still Narnia

On my way home from town on Wednes-
day, I stopped in to see Rae who is in charge of the one the Olympic events at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers next spring.  The conference in in Squaw Valley and the theme is "Let the Games Begin." Rae is in charge of shot put.  She has created three shot puts by encapsulating 3 pounds of BBs into these fiber forms.
She asked me to help her with the movements of the event and when we stepped into her backyard, she chuckled, "Doesn't everyone have an ice volcano?"  They aerate their pond for their fish and in doing so, the fountain has created an ice volcano.
We heaved and hurled and measured.  Rae is checking my distance - we were both light weights.  We were handicapped by snow. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I've joked about this being Narnia. We've been below freezing for three weeks, most unusual.  We awoke to Pogonip yesterday morning and it didn't burn off until afternoon.
The sunniest and warmed room in the house is my studio.  I renamed my big loom.  She is now Lilith and through the renaming, we've become friends. I need to weave off the rag rug warp to clear the loom.
The first rug off is our new bath mat, woven from sock loopers.  I'm in love with this rug.  I love it every time I walk in and see it.  I've coerced a friend into selling me a small stock of these loopers to see if I can make these rugs and sell them.  Sock loopers are simply the waste cut from sock looms.
This is the second rug from Goodwill sheets.  Sheets are wide and that's what produces the striping. 

The third rug is from pinks I cut and sewed together in an organized random order, thanks to a gift from Benita, a friend who no longer was making dolls and doll clothes and sent me her fabrics.  I had no idea pinks would make such a sweet rug.

I picked up a book "Weaving Contemporary Rag Rugs" from the library today.  Browsing through it quickly, I'm taken by the group of Europeans whose traditions we draw from.  It's like a Germanic swath, from Croatia upward through Finland.  I want to know more. 
Today the sun came much earlier than yesterday.  We know this frost as Pogonip.  It's a Shoshone word for cloud and while I've since learned that it's called Hoar Frost elsewhere, I like our local name. 
It's truly beautiful if you don't have to go anywhere.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Amusing Myself

I took the dogs for a walk yesterday for the first time this year.  We still have quite a bit of snow on our roads and I thought our tracks were pretty funny.
Ours weren't the only tracks.  You can see there was quite a bit of bunny activity here.
The dogs made the most of the walk, running full out, sniffing everything and on occasion throwing themselves onto the snow to make doggie snow angels.  My old camera was too slow to catch that action but we had fun. The snow is going to be with us for a while until days get warmer.  Nights will be 9 degrees for the next five days.  We should have a spectacular wildflower spring.
There's our little frozen house, hidden smack dab in the middle of the gray landscape.  What a January it has been so far!
My son was in town so I drove in to have lunch, but first I drove out to Jimmy Beans to buy a piece of fabric.  This is Gus.  He retired, started making quilts six years ago, began going to trade shows, took a quilting class from Kaffe Fassett and decided it was time to go back to work.  He knows fabric.  That's one of his quilts on the wall and some of the fabrics he dyed. 
I bought this to make a blouse for blue jeans.  The manufacturer is Moda.  He explained why that's important.  Mills run the dyes three times.  The first two runs are the finer cottons that go to quilting stores and specialty shops.  By the third bath, the dyes have begun to exhaust so they add chemicals to enhance the dye uptake.  It is hard on the cottons, making them harder and more crisp, and these are the cottons that ship to Joanns and Hancocks.  My cotton is soft and has a nice hand and will be fun to work with.
I asked Gus to explain the difference between the designers and the cottons.  It turns out that Kaffe has a line of cottons and this bolt just fell into my hands.  And then to make the trip even more expensive, I bought the Schoolhouse Tunic pattern from Sew Liberated.  I got to visit with some friends there - it was fun.  Amy asked me recently if I was still sewing and I said no.  How quickly things change.
There's more than this.  The prices are about $8.50 a yard though one of my bolts was on sale for $4.50. That's more than reasonable.

Oh and while I was there, Terry asked me if I might be interested in teaching a two-hour rigid heddle workshop.  They now carry the Schacht Cricket Loom. and would like to offer some instruction to help knitters transition into weaving.  I'm not sure what can be communicated in two hours but I'm looking forward to exploring the options.  It will be fun.

Monday, January 14, 2013


These are what have become known as sock loopers.  They're manu-
facturers waste, the part of the sock attached to the sock loom and then cut off.  They've found a use among weavers and other crafters.
I'm looping them together and using them to weave a bathmat.  I bought these loopers for Alexia to weave potholders with but she's lost interest and I have just been storing them.  They've become part of my stash reduction program as well as a useful item.  We need a new bathmat.  Another motive is keeping warm.  This is the warmest room in the house.

I sorted through the box of yarns, then separated and bagged the yarns by color and returned the box to the garage. I have selected these for my first sweater.  I'm sure there have to be five more sweaters of yarn in the box.  I've decided to go mild on the first one but to use everything, I'm going to have to go wild.

I was going to throw these bits of yarn away that I found in the bottom of the box.  Then I realized that all those colors together would make a good yarn bomb and I decided who the perfect recipient would be.  Me!
I waited until it warmed up to 18 degrees and then bundled up so I could take some measurements at the gate.  We're going to have a Superbowl Party and I want it to be done and installed by then.
The dogs were really disap-
pointed at the brevity of our "walk."  They had been dancing all around me because it's been two weeks at least since I've walked them.  That's how long it's been below freezing and some mornings, below zero.
It's beautiful but so cold.  The air hurts to breathe and to think that my parents lived in Fairbanks when I was born.  Because I had asthma and bronchitis, they eventually moved to San Diego.  I wanted to live in a place that has four seasons, but I didn't expect to live in Narnia, where it's always winter but never Christmas.  We're going to warm up soon and then I'll be back to complain about the mud.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Knitting in the New Year

I went out to Jimmy Beans on Tuesday.  They replace broken wooden double pointed needles and I have a size #4 that I've been saving for replacement.  I also wanted to look at some magazines and get a couple of stitch holders.  Cheryl takes care of the needle replacements and when we had finished, she invited me to take a tour of the warehouse.
The inventory is mind boggling.  I wasn't too tempted by the yarns as I'm right in the middle of a stash reduction period.
What got to me was the fantastic cottons they now carry.  I had this bolt in my hand but I didn't have a pattern or yardage.  It's on sale for $4.50 a yard and I'm going back.  There's a lot on sale right now but I've told myself - only buy what you'll sew.  We'll see how that goes.
That is what you think it is - a hot tub full of yarn.  JBW is one of the fastest growing companies in the nation and it's my local yarn store.  My only saving grace is that it's on the other side of Reno so I can't just drop in.  Phew.
As for trip knitting, I only finished one hat.  It's the same pattern as the purple hat but it's a little lackluster, I'm sorry to say.
The real trip knitting was on this revised Penelope Blouse.  I've added armhole and neck shaping.  It's actually a denim-colored tee but I'm planning to use it as a tunic.  No one wants to see me wear sleeveless anymore, especially me.  I'll leave that look to those who can wear it, like Michelle Obama.  This is stash yarn from Theresa Davies and I have enough to make two more tunics.
I'm serious about dealing with stash.  I'm tired of storing it.  Use it or lose it, that's my motto.  This is from a box of Jamison Shetland that I bought from Allison when she had a stash sale about four years ago.  I dug out Kaffe Fassett's pattern book and have spent the afternoon, trying to make some sense of the colors.  I've looked for pattern ideas for weeks and finally decided to make one up in Stitch Wizard and use one of Fassett's patterns.  I swatched for a while, testing patterns, then decided to just cast on and make the sweater the swatch. 

This is the box and as you can see, there's plenty more.  I'm treating this is a 12-steps program - one day at a time.  One sweater at a time.  The ugliest sweaters in life might just be looming on the horizon. I'm sure I'll learn something in the process.

Ian drives down the mailboxes every morning with the dogs and collects yesterdays mail.  This was waiting for us today.  Jan, our mail lady, is wonderful.  We leave packages with money in an envelope, she ships our packages and returns the change.  We leave her an empty jar and money and she returns a jar full of honey for Ian.  It's local and that's all I know, but Ian loves his honey at breakfast every morning.  He always leaves her a tip at Christmas and she always leaves us a card and cookies in January.  I'm sick to death of the cold and dreary weather, but I love where we live and the people we live with.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Tradition, think Fiddler-on-the-Roof

It was supposed to rain the whole time we were in Redlands, but just like our sneaker storm when we left Reno, they had sneaker beautiful weather.
One of my favorite things was watching the kids play together.  Alexia kept asking me, now how am I related to them?  She knows they're her cousins, and so they are - by marriage and sometimes the connection is relative.  No pun intended.
Petey and Ian have been friends since junior college.  The roots of the New Years tradition run deep.
A proud Ian with both his sons.
Ian with Niece Alison and Sister-in-law Rochelle.  Ian has known Rochelle since she was 13.  Deep roots.
We crowded around the table to eat New Years Eve dinner, and then afterwards we cleared everything for a boisterous game of Left Right Center.  It's the perfect game for all ages - even four-year-old McKay played.  And for the uninitiated, the Scotch pronunciation is McEye.  If you watched the movie, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the headmistress was Mrs. McEye.  If you haven't watched that movie and you're currently watching Downton Abbey, run, do not walk to your nearest copy of that movie to see Maggie Smith in her Oscar-winning role.
After dinner it was hot-tub time, always a hit with Alexia.  
New Years Day we piled into two cars and drove an hour and a half across Orange County to Gardena to celebrate Japanese New Years at the Inouye's house.  Gardena is where Ian and Rochelle went to high school with the five Inouye brothers.  This tradition dates back to then but now the gathering is generational.  Zach with the chopsticks is the son of Minihiro, Ian's brother's college roommate.  The roots run deep.
This is actually the sashimi.   Most of the sushi is on two tables in the living room.  The tuna which is on the corner of the table went really fast and you can see the tako is almost gone.  There was so much to eat, and I did my best.  The sushi there under the foil has spam in the center.  Mini's children are half Hawaiian so his daughter Kikuye always makes spam sushi.  It's an acquired taste but it's tradition and I always eat it.
And the moment we anticipate - the tempura.  Omar and Don get it kicked off.  I've known Omar for 15 years.  He's a friend of Don's son, and is so serious about this role that he had his wife drop him off in the morning so he could get the shrimp deveined in advance.  There is another anticipated tradition - the saki toast to past, present future.  Ian and I ducked out early.  I drove down and he was the return driver but his eyes were tired so I didn't want to drink in case I needed to drive.  I *hate* driving on LA freeways and want to be a sober mind when I do.
All good things come to an end and ultimately it was time for the return drive home.  Alexia entertained herself with her DSI.  We don't make the drive in a day anymore and at the hotel, she was thrilled to have WiFi so she could watch movies on my iPad.  I wonder if we're an anomaly or if other people don't use the hotel TVs either.

Every year I think that this was the best New Years ever, and then it gets upstaged by the next year.  We came home with full hearts.