Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Books, Books, Books

There is a virus going around and my doctor says it's highly contagious and rampant throughout our area.  Since I have a normal low-white-blood count, I haven't felt threatened. I can't tell you the last time I've caught a virus.  Until now.  Ian was down with it two weeks ago and since the incubation period is two weeks, I suspect I caught it from him.  It's been over a week and I had no idea it was possible for the human body to produce so much mucus or for a throat to be so raw.  A foreign county could take over America by simply giving everyone this bug.

I've had to miss yoga but the gain I've made in neck flexibility seems to be holding.  At least my neck doesn't hurt as the rest of my body melts.  Because our guild has a big weaving outreach soon and it's the first one, I am serious about getting well.  This virus seems to last two weeks and I'm especially nervous since it seems to make people prone to pneumonia.  That means it's been a cycle of rest, gallons of hot tea, Mucinex, water, and repeat.  Which is why this blog post is more books.  When I could stay awake I knitted or read.

I did a David Sedaris marathon and read
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls,
Me Talk Pretty One Day, and
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
I find his essays, I guess that's what you call nonfiction short pieces, to be interesting and engaging but not challenging to a Benadryl addled brain.  I have no idea where any of the titles of his books from from - not one!

And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini - This was my book club's January selection.  While still an important book, I felt it was over-reaching and didn't have the impact that his first two did.  Still, it's a window into life in Afghanistan and it's harsh.

Good Evening Mr and Mrs America, and All the Ships at Sea, by Richard Bausch - This was a best seller in 1996.  I had picked up the hardback from the library book sale and it's been on my shelf ever since.  Time to either read it or take it back to the library.  It's the type of book I'm most fond of, told through character development against the backdrop of contemporary events, ala Anne Tyler.  It's out of print now but available on Kindle for $3.79.

Real Happy Family by Caeli Wolfson Widger - This is the second book I've gotten through Kindle First, and again it's not one I would have chosen, but I read it anyway and was thoroughly entertained.  It's not literature but it's the kind of book I like when I need to read something easy since I don't ready Cozy Mysteries.  The premise is a star-struck mom who desperately wants her daughter to make to the big time, at any price.  Sick and wickedly funny.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - This has been this on the NYT bestselller list for quite some time so when Amazon offered it cheap, I snatched it up.  Once I realized it was about childhood cancer, I couldn't bring myself to read it.  Stuck here with limited books, I decided to read the first 20 pages and was hooked.  It's oddly like Moyes' Me Before You, in that somehow the author has taken a morbid subject and left you feeling uplifted in the end.  I gave it 5 stars.

The Autograph Hound by John Lahr - Lahr is a staff writer for The New Yorker and I've loved his writing for years.  This is his first work of fiction and I'm sure it's appeal is limited to denizens of Manhattan.  The story unfolds during one week in June 1969.  Again it's a character development story against the backdrop of current events.  The character is a mentally retarded busboy with a Walter Mitty imagination who is passionate about collecting autographs.  Quiet and quirky.

The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning by Hallgrimur Helgason - The author is well known in Iceland but this is his book book published in English.  Again, it was one of the Kindle offers where you're invited to pick one of four books.  This particular offer was all suspense genre so I asked Ian to look at the selection and see if any appealed to him.  He picked this one and it's me who's read it. Once I started, I got swept along.  It's really an international tale of the trickle down effects of war, profane and funny.

I'm on hold for 14 Kindle books at the library but I have limited books here and don't want to buy any more.  I suspect I'm housebound for another week.  Boy will I ever be glad to see an end to this winter!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Today is Thursday

Little Sharon, Michael and Noah have made it a tradition to come up from San Francisco for a visit in February.  This got started when they wanted Noah to have fun in the snow and until this year the weather has obliged.  This visit was cold and dry.  Sharon loved my blue-ribbon sweater from the fair a couple years ago and I told her I'd knit her one if she'd buy the yarn.  I haven't worn the sweater one time since the fair and decided it would be a greater good to just pass it on to her.  I don't think she took it off the entire time they were here.  It's too big but that's the way she likes it she says.
Noah anticipates a visit with Hiroka, our neighbor's daughter.  They only see each other twice a year and in spite of only being eight years old, have become good friends.  They played for about five hours with a lunch break and continued until about 3:00 when the "she/he won't share" started.  They'll see each other again at Labor Day.  The February visit is a very good tradition.
The kids left early Tuesday morning so I finished up the Springtime Medley towels and loaded them into my Etsy store which has been empty for five months.  I realized when checking the sales and stats that I neglected to load search words.  Groan.  Etsy wears me out.  I'll get back to that later - not this week.
This is the last handspun I finished for warp.  I thought blending 2.2 ounces of fiber was ample to get enough yardage for an 8" scarf but when I wound this warp, I had less than 6" - so disappointed.  I guess I'm still learning and always the hard way.
And I did finish the white cotton sweater.  It ended up being 3.5 stitches to the inch, i.e., really open and not warm.  I put it on to go somewhere but the second I got out of the house, the cold bit right through.  It's still awaiting it's debut.  It looks great but there wasn't enough yarn for a shell after all.  I thought I'd making a cotton scarf. - see how that goes
Today is Thursday.  Yesterday was my yoga studio day.  Carol introduced me to two new poses and I'm pleased with the flexibility and strength I'm gaining.  When Ian visited our GP for his annual visit today, our doc knew the studio I'm using and the teacher and he himself a yoga practitioner approves. And then there's Thursday.  I climb out of bed like a decrepit old woman, which I am, and recognize that this day has to be one about recovery.  I've returned to my Robaxin prescription and take my muscle relaxant mid-morning.  

This seemed to be a good day for knitting.  I thought I was out of knitting but found the project (pictured above) in the closet.  I had made a mistake that needed to be torn out and instead, just quit working on it.  I've fixed the problem and started back to work on it.
And while I was fishing around for knitting, this box literally fell out of the closet.  It's some cotton/linen that Melissa left last summer.  I'm swatching it but it feels like knitting with macrame hemp.  At least it's something to knit on and that means I'm not out of knitting - yet.

The Reno Fiber Guild weaving outreach is fast approaching.   The program is a partnership with the South Valleys Library - they're providing the space and advertising.  If you're in this area and would like to see what weaving is about, check us out here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Stuck on Scarves

I finished spinning up the black and white fiber that I blended together and showed in this post.  I experimented and plied one skein with 60/2 silk and the other with 16/2 bamboo.  The bamboo was by far more stable.  I had four broken warps with the silk and while I'll use silk again, I'll make sure I get a lot more twist in the ply.
This scarf is much different than the others I've woven so far and I love it.  It's only 4 ounces and drapes really well.  It's warm and not scratchy at all.  I think I'm going to stop worrying about the itch factor.
I've left all my carding stuff in the dining room for the past couple of months but our kids are coming up from San Francisco for the three day weekend.  We're going to need the dining room to eat in!  I blended up another batch of the black and white and then put this mix together.  Melissa left me a lot of stash last August but I'm coming to and end of that supply.
I had planned to add silk, bamboo, mohair locks and dyed silk noil but at the last second decided to just use undyed soil noil.  I really like how those white slubs pop in contrast.  I talked to Melissa yesterday. She's trying to nail down a date when she can come up for a play date this spring.  She said that a friend had cleaned out her stash and left something like nine garbage bags in her backyard.  She's bringing some of this loot to split -\Christmas!!
Maddie has been creating new ways to entertain herself lately.  She put a tore up a papertowel she found and put it in the dog water bowl, then fished out the wet clumps.  Fortunately that seems to have bored her because she hasn't done it again - yet.
Oh my goodness.  However did toilet paper get on the stairs?!!
Paper seems to be the new toy.  I cut some of the worn out weaving packing paper from the roll and tossed it over the rail to take to the trash later.  I let her play with it as long as she was interested.  I know when our kids are here, she's going to go into hiding.  I wish she weren't a shy cat so other people could enjoy her but that's just how she is.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Crackle Weave

The days have been gray for the last week so I decided my antidote would be to weave up my colorful wool/silk/alpaca yarn.  I had sett it for twill but when I saw how pretty the colors worked with the black Tencel weft, I changed my mind and went back to a very open plain weave to showcase my yarn.  The problem is that I also had floating selvedges which aren't needed and a pain in the neck with plain weave, but I had woven close to a foot when I realized that and it was too late to take them out.  I won't do that again!
It turned out beautifully and only weighed about three ounces.  I told Ian that it was my new favorite thing I've ever woven.  I was in a hurry to finish it because I wanted it to be part of the library display next month and the intake was yesterday.  We have three display cases we can fill with handwoven related items as part of our outreach program at the library March 22nd.  I posted this picture on the Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers Facebook page because I want to encourage them to weave with their own handspun yarns.  While it's not a private page, I was surprised to have three offers to buy it.  So I sold it and mailed it off to Denton Texas yesterday to one of my best friends from junior high and high school.  Holy cow!
The Reno Fiber Guild met at Gayle's home yesterday.  Last year she said she'd like to offer a Crackle Weave workshop because she's been wanting to know more about it and the best way to learn something is to teach it.  Several of the members met over the past couple of weeks to warp two Schacht Wolf Pups and three 8-shaft Baby Wolfs for this.

All three of these ladies are experienced weavers but there is always room to learn in a teaching opportunity.
All five looms had different weave patterns.  Suzanne is working on one that makes blocks and looks a little like Summer and Winter.
Darla's is working on the easiest pattern and also my favorite.  It's the first draft on p.131 of Anne Dixon's book and it would make a great jacket fabric.  The one thing in common with all the drafts that I understand is that like Overshot, there's always a shot of tabby after every pattern shot.  That's all I understood and given that there were about a half dozen books there written solely on the subject of Crackle Weave, I'm not going to beat myself up over it.  If you're interested in more information about Crackle Weave, there's a great blog post here.
I learned so much and tried to weave as much of the five hours I was there as I could.  I had no idea that eight shafts are so much heavier to lift than four shafts, but I learned that yesterday and again this morning when I climbed out of bed with sore legs.  I'm so thankful to all the weavers in my guild who spent the time to put this together.

The only mar on the day was when I started to drive home in the pouring rain and a warning light came on my dash.  Even though we've had the car since September, I've only been driving it a month and this was a totally strange symbol.  I called the dealership and she said it indicates low tire pressure.  By the time I got there, my right rear tire was nearly flat.  I had picked up a nail.  They had it patched and ready to go in an hour and was I ever thankful for this new sensor that Subaru has implemented or I would have been alone on the side of the road with a flat time in the rain.  I'm also thankful for the rain and glad I got to enjoy it from inside the car.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Books, Books, Books

It's been six weeks since I've told you what I've read and liked.  That went by quickly

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt - This is one of those books I picked up at Costco.  When I go to check out what they've got I tell Ian I'm going to my crack aisle.  I figure if they're selling it that means some reviewer has already given it the nod.  I loved this one but coming-of-age is my favorite genre, especially told in the voice of a strong female protagonist.  It was a little like Ron Koertge's YA novel, the Arizona Kid, but for adults.

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heillemann -  I am not a political wonk and hold a position very near the middle of the road.  I heard the authors interviewed and decided to try it since I used to like Theodore White's The Making of a President series.  This was a page turner for me and I was shocked at some of the machinations that we weren't privy to.  I had no idea that John Edwards and his wife were a train wreck.  As for Palin, you don't want to know that the candidate for the position first in line behind the president was memorizing her positions from a stack of index cards.  Fascinating.

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson - I say I don't like reading history but I do when it's dished up like this.  I'm not sure I know what his genre is, but he sure can write.  This is the summer of Charles Lindburgh's flight and also the trial of Sacco and Vincenti.  Once again, fascinating.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple - A friend recommended this off-the-wall romp of an unconventional woman.  It's completely tongue-in-cheek and my friend says Bernadette is *so* Seattle, if anyone knows Seattle.  You have to consider the weather as a character too because it's such a player.  Amazon rates it at 4.5 stars with over 2,000 reviews so someone else liked it too.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer - This is another friend recommendation about a group of six who form friendships at summer camp and continue them throughout their lives.  They gave themselves this name and as one reviewer said, they ultimately weren't so interesting after all.  I disagree.  I think they were very interesting and I enjoyed knowing them for all 481 pages.  I was sad to turn the final page.

Noah's Compass by Ann Tyler -  A friend posted this on GoodReads and snagged it as soon as I could from the library. I can't believe I missed this since Tyler is one of my favorite authors.  I love how she develops her characters who are mostly flawed middle-class people trying to make a life.  Her humor is subtle but it's always there, this time in an almost LOL way.  I hope she lives a long and prolific life.

Soy Sauce for Beginners by Kirstin Chen - So I'm such a Kindle junkie that Amazon has caught on.  I check the Daily Deal and grab books I've been wanting as they come by, about two a month.  They enrolled me in a first-of-the-month club which offers me four books to be published in a month. I can select one for free.  This was the first time I did it and read it and I gave it four stars.  I thought it was going to be boy-meets-girl, boy-gets-girl, and happily I was wrong.  The story is told from two locations, San Francisco and Singapore - and yes, it's about soy sauce.  I later read in the New Yorker that almost all soy sauce is standard and there are few made in the old way.  Soy sauce is one of the characters in this book - a nice debut novel.

Okay, only one more and I'm trying to decide which book that will be.  Let's go with George Washington's Secret Six: The spy ring that saved the American Revolution by Brian Kildeade.  This is another Costco purchase and not by me.  Ian loves to buy me books and thought this was a safe bet.  I can't stand to read history.  It's too much work and like school, but I had a pleasant surprise with this slight volume.  For some reason a TV personality decided to write a history book however unlikely that is.  I haven't read about the Revolutionary War since high school I'm sure and I remember nothing.  I know this is History Lite and if you're a buff, move on - there's nothing here to see.  If you're like me, this is your book.  Again, fascinating.

On a different note, these are my two favorite sley hooks.  If you notice on the right you'll see that Robin & Russ has been stamped into the brass.  I got an interesting email this morning from a woman who has purchased the building that used the home of their business.  She's opening it as Pacific Frame and Gallery and would like to acknowledge their history.  She's looking for skeins with their label that she would be able to frame and display.  Until just last year I had a file of receipts and samples from their yarn-of-the-month club.  Bad timing.  If you have items you'd be willing to offer for this display in acknowledgement of Robin & Russ, please contact Leigh Ann and let her know.  They were pioneers.