Thursday, April 28, 2005

Cathunt Ended, Pet Found in Family Room

Owners of Little Kitty experienced a variety of emotions - relief, amusement and annoyance - upon finding the lost pet in their family room. Lynette and Karl conducted an extensive cathunt on the grounds of their postage stamp-sized estate after realizing the ACME Windows contractor had left 3 windows open in the house while replacing them.

The sly cat, aka "Pie Face", has a history of sneaking out of the home unsupervised. Little Kitty was adopted from Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary, a rescue organization, in 2001. She had been with her cat foster parent for only one week before being returned to Happy Tails because "she did not play well with others". Little Kitty has a microchip embedded under her skin for identity purposes but she is under strict orders to stay indoors at all times. She has never lived outside.

She was found laying calmly by the sofa in the family room. Her recent whereabouts were unknown.

* * * * * * *

Thanks to all of you who provided tips on how to hold double-pointed needles. I've figured it out! It's really easy! I experimented with the shorter needles too, in Bryspun flexibles and Brittany birch. Shorter is better. Ha! That's the first time I've ever been able to say that. I picked up the Bryspuns last year as a substitute for cable needles. They are faster than the wood or bamboo. The sock is coming along, but slowly. Last night I seamed the sleeves to my Shapely Tee, but I don't like the looks of one of them so I'm going to frog it tonight and redo.

In response to Cyndi's question about the plane from Oregon - yes indeed, that was the shuttle. No one gave me any weird looks while I was knitting so I figured it was OK. Hey, it can't be any worse than sleeping. And Stephanie, my friend thanks you for the German sock pattern. That was a good find.

I've finally figured out the Bloglines thing. I'm subscribed to everyone now which is a good thing, because I was falling behind in reading everyone's blogs. Oh, except for Sherry! I can't figure out how to get the feed from your site. Thanks for all the nice comments about the pictures. They mean a lot to me. I think I'm doing the wrong thing for a living - I've always wanted to be a photojournalist instead. This is that outlet for me. Although I once made the mistake of telling Karl that keeping a journal was easiest when I had a lot of angst. Boy, he's never let me forget that. He asked if this blog was my way of dumping all my angst.

Last thing: what are your favorite sock yarns? Have you knit with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport? Go ahead, enable me!

Monday, April 25, 2005

A Tour of Ft. Bragg and Mendocino...Yarn Shops

"You know you are at risk of becoming an obsessive knitter when you plan your vacation around yarn store locations" - Yarn Harlot, At Knit's End.

I have been away. Last Friday, I took a much-needed day off and my motley crew of friends spent several days in Ft. Bragg and Mendocino, California. We rented a lovely house located right on the bluffs in Ft. Bragg and had a perfect view of the ocean, a blazing sunset, whales spouting and fishing boats coming home after the day's catch. This was literally a few hundred yards from the house. My friend McGinnis almost had a heart attack because he thought I was going to fall off the cliffs while taking pictures. Unlikely. When I'm in that mode, I am invincible. One "feature" of the bluffs was that it was a favorite spot for abalone divers. In the mornings we would see them park by the cliffs, dive and then haul up their catch. And then they would give us a show of removing their wet articles of clothing. They entertained us with many moons.

We hiked a really nice trail through Russian Gulch State Park to a waterfall - the day was overcast with a bit of fog, all the flora were wet with raindrops. After that hike, we visited the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens where again we walked to more bluffs like this one with wildflowers .

There was a "secret" vegetable garden that had the most amazing purple-headed broccoli I had ever seen, plus the rhododendrons were in cascading and luscious bloom.

But what about the yarn stores?? YES. I dragged my friends to 2 of them. Navarro River Knits in Ft. Bragg was such a wonderful surprise that I practically swooned when I saw the store (or so I was told, anyway). I was expecting a small shop tucked away in an alley. Instead, it was in a renovated historic building - The Company Store - and featured a variety of Australian and New Zealand yarns. They even had some merino/possum blends. The store owner was friendly and informative. The second shop was the Mendocino Yarn Shop. This cozy store next to the post office was just filled floor to ceiling with yarn and books. My friend Conny picked up a handful of to-die-for skeins of Rowan because she decided she would go ahead and knit know, for the heck of it even though she'd never done it before. Conny, who is German, has to get a sock pattern from her sister-in-law in German because the English patterns are confusing. I thought this was interesting; I'd never really thought about the translations, but knitting patterns, even in English, are rather cryptic.

Speaking of socks, I started my first pair over the weekend. These are just practice so I'm not even going to post a picture of them yet, but I'm using a beginner's pattern from Knitting Pure and Simple using lightweight worsted. I'm doing OK, but I'm not crazy about 7" DPNs. I had practiced with some 4" DPNs on the plane back from Oregon last Thursday and they were much easier. I now have a small stash of sock yarn too. My yarnmoire is bloated. I just cannot justify buying any more yarn or needles. At least for the next day or two. I stopped working on Diane for the time being, but finally finished the neck of the Shapely Tee. That's coming up for April, I decided. I should be finished this weekend if not sooner and it will be available for your inspection by then! In the meantime, my question to you: how do you hold your dang DPNs comfortably without feeling like they are poking in every direction but the one that you need??

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Just Another Weekend

Saturday was a beautiful day in the Sierras. We packed up our snowshoes and headed up to our favorite snow hiking spot - Icehouse Reservoir. Take Highway 50 like you're going to South Lake Tahoe. Just where the highway becomes 2-lane, there's a road to your left. That's Icehouse. It winds up the mountain until it opens up to the vista above, and then you can see the reservoir. We haven't camped there yet although there are a number of campgrounds, tons of trails and several small lakes. Silver Creek is the main river and we plan to go back there with our fishing poles to catch some trout.

I'm not in terrific physical shape anymore, as evidenced by my lack of breath and enthusiasm trudging up the trail. Plus I was cranky as I needed a nap. As soon as we got to our stopping place I promptly lay down on a stump and took a 20-minute snooze. I was much happier after that. My snowshoeing form was out of sorts...

Can you say "Charm School"?

I brought my knitting with me as usual but didn't get a chance to do anything with it. Diane is coming along but that's about it. I'm starting to get a little nervous because it's already the middle of April and this tank top is still not that close to being finished. I might just have to knit a scarf or some other small item to fulfill this month's requirement.

After what seemed to be an interminably long time, I finally received something knitting related in the mail - 3 skeins of Manos for My So-Called Scarf and 5 skeins of Cascade 220. I also picked up Pursenalities and At Knit's End from Border's. I've only read a few entries from At Knit's End but I can already tell it's a keeper! I was giggling to myself. I have more needles coming from Webs as well as some Noro from Knot Another Hat. The Iro was less than $10 a skein, everywhere else it's almost $20. Plus there's a 10% Knitter's Review discount. Ooooh....I just took a look at the site and they've added several Cascade yarns...


Friday, April 15, 2005

Life Outside of Work

Thank God for knitting and people who knit. I also want to thank my kitties, Big and Little, for keeping me amused and my blood pressure down. Last but certainly not least, Karl has been so energetic and patient with me.

This has been a bad week at work. No need to go into any details, except that lately my job has left me depressed, unmotivated and extremely tired.

When I come home, I look forward to being greeted by happy cats, knitting a few rows and generally being comforted by my guy Karl. BTW, Karl works at the same company. We work with the same people. He really understands what's going on. I was in such a mood last night. I just had to escape, and I told him about the Stitch'n Bitch group. He kissed me on the forehead and said, "Knit to your heart's content."

I had the good fortune of meeting up with the Sacramento Stitch'n Bitch. Now, I've had to cajole and push myself into even going to these knitting groups. This month I've done well - the Folsom group at Coffee Republic, the Guild and last night the SnB. But I'm not a joiner...I'm an organizer, but not necessarily a joiner. I'm shy and insecure about saying the wrong thing, or worse, being totally misunderstood. I don't have a problem communicating here in words on virtual paper but in person, I can become completely tongue-tied.

I sat quietly at the cafe listening to most of the conversations. Everyone was friendly and it was interesting to see what they were all knitting. I was especially intrigued by Regina's "small things" - the fruit and dolls. She said it's because she knits them for her daughter but I liked the concept of just knitting small compact, portable and imminently gratifying. Violet wore her beautiful shawl - I was impressed. Sarah showed the swift her husband had made, and Priscilla, who was also attending for the first time, finished her scarf to match her felted hat! (because she's going to Ireland).

I felt so much better as I drove home. Work had been consuming me, compressing my world into a tiny and insignificant space. Thank goodness for knitting, my kitties and Karl to remind me that there are other things in life.

One last note - the folks at the Naked Lounge were happy to indulge me in making a Flat White, even though they didn't know what it was. Happy happy. Joy joy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Knitting to De-Stress

The past few weeks at the office have been very chaotic and frustrating. I don't think it's a coincidence that I started blogging and picked up my knitting pace when pressure at work began to mount. My schedule is all screwy - I am up at 5:30am, at work for 7am meetings, don't come home until 6pm, maybe have meetings in the evening, still have to make dinner, dead tired by 10pm after chores or errands. Now perhaps that doesn't sound like a crazy schedule for you but for me it's nuts. I'm accustomed to getting up early, yes, but I used to work out like a fiend every morning - running, weights, elliptical - and then going for a 30-mile bike ride in the afternoon. Now I'm lucky to fit in a pilates class. My 8-hour work day has stretched to an 11-hour work day and I still have to get the other home stuff done too.

I've got 4 knitting projects on the needles and I'm knitting whenever I have a spare minute, even during meetings at work. I'm finding it's the only time I'm in control. I am in awe of those women who can juggle work, a family and hobbies because I can barely fit in work and 1 hobby.

Oh, Karl just walked in and, after seeing what was on the computer screen, said that he "has lost me to blogging". That means he thinks I am neglecting him now too. As he walked out of the room he said to the kitties, "Well girls, we have just been knocked down another notch. Now it's knitting first, blogging second, us third."

That is so annoying. I've just changed my mind about knitting him any socks.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

April's Projects Coming Along Nicely

Lest you think I've totally forgotten about blogging, I'm back. Not that I haven't had anything to say this past week but I've tried to spend time actually knitting rather than just talking about it. So to that end, here are the results:

I finished the back of Diane and am maybe 25% done with the front. Don't look too closely at the picture, there are definitely some "oops" that I am correcting with the front piece. The side twisted rib panels are curling in a bit but when they are blocked, you will see the shaping for the armholes more clearly. The shaping is actually achieved within the stockinette panels and not in the rib. I thought this was clever yet simple.

Now I'm going to confess something. The following photo shows the pieces of a sweater that I started last summer - a variation on the Shapely Tee from White Lies Designs. It's knit in Reynolds Gypsy, a 100% mercerized cotton that's got a pretty heathered sheen to it.

This project has been my sweater from hell. The original yarn was something completely different. Then I tried knitting the sleeves from the top down. I gave up with that idea but knit 3/4 sleeves from the cuff up instead. Now I'm fighting with the neckline - I've already ripped out the first attempt at a garter stitch neck because I picked up too many stitches, even though I was following the pattern. I'm determined to finish Shapely this month, in addition to Diane.

Other projects I've started include Heidi's Tote by Black Sheep Bags and Sitcom Chic from the Spring 2003 Knitty. As for the latter, I've been meaning to knit this for the past 2 years. I'm just now catching up with all of those patterns! I started SC yesterday at Sierra Ski Resort. My brother, his girlfriend, Karl and anothe friend went up for the last day of skiing this season (didn't I say that in an earlier post?) and it was beautiful. Actually, they skiied. I knit all day in the lodge.

On Thursday, I attended my first Guild meeting - the Camellia City Stockin'ettes. Oh, it was quite interesting. Most of the ladies there were older than me, but that wasn't the eye-opener. It was the heated argument (20 minutes) about how to have "Show and Tell" - should everyone show only their FOs or their WIPs, and how much time would be allotted? It was, as Beth mildly put it, a hot button among the members. I will not go into the discussion details but many feathers were ruffled. I'm not sure the outcome was to everyone's liking...seems like it will be brought up again, but at least it everyone can think about it for another month. Otherwise, the meeting was good. The Guild has their own library and I picked up a copy of Confessions of a Knitting Heretic. I spoke with Beth, Kaedean and Sandi again, plus finally met
Ms. Violet, who's been great about giving me the scoop on all the other knitting groups in the area (hey, I'm planning to go to the Stitch 'n Bitch next Thursday at the Naked Lounge). Anyways, I'm excited about the Guild because of all the cool workshops they're planning to have. I'm there!

Oh, and one last thing about the Guild...there seemed to be a preponderance of socks being knitted (Violet showed me her latest using KnitPicks yarn). Now, I'm not a sock person. The only times I wear socks are in the winter, to bed on cold nights, when I go for a run and when I ski. However, the teeny DPNs may just be my undoing...I am too curious about knitting with DPNs so I'll have try the socks at some point. I'm thinking next month for my May project.

This afternoon is too beautiful to spend inside the entire time, so I'm heading off to the golf course. We've been asked to join a golf tournament and I haven't hit since last year so I need some serious time at the driving range.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Blogging, Knit Guilding and Gardening

I'm having a drink. Here it is, Sunday, and I've been working on digital photos and this blog for most of the day. My new button alone took 2 hours - grab it, will ya? I hope someone will use it. I have Photoshop Elements 3.0, which I am beginning to adore. Being an impatient person, I didn't take the time to read through the wonderful Short Courses manual until now. Instead of being intimidated, I should've realized that PE3 is perfect for a nitpicky, detail-oriented, organization freak..uh...person like me who loves to put everything in categories and lists.

I have three CDs chock-full of pictures since 2002. I managed to upload only the first CD of photos to the catalog and tag them. Tagging!! I love it!! What a concept!!

Creating the button was frustrating but educational. You can go to GRSites Button Maker if you don't have image-editing software. I picked up this tip from the ever clever Agnes. If you do have Photoshop, you can create your own button. Basic steps if using a photograph:

  • select your image
  • edit/enhance your image (you may need to crop so that it's basically rectangular)
  • save this as your baseline
  • resize to button dimensions (something like 1"x.5")
  • save this as your baseline button
  • you may have to close and re-open baseline button image
  • use the Text tool to layer your text onto the image
  • save your button as a GIF or JPG
In knitting news, I attended a knitting group at Coffee Republic yesterday. It was kind of intense. Amid the serenity of many ladies knitting away socks and scarves, there was a buzz of excitement. I was in awe of the complicated projects these women were working on...Beth had a lovely lace pattern from White Lies using bamboo yarn...Sandi and Carol were knitting socks on such teeny needles...Kaedean was holding up samples of a reversible cable...Barbara was putting on a show and tell about felting purses. I was enthralled by it all. So of course I joined the Sacramento Knitting Guild (aka Camellia City Stockin'ettes) and then rushed to Babetta's for my 10% member discount. And I promptly bought several skeins of Manos del Uruguay.

Hence my button. The background is Manos del Uruguay in colors #113 and #32.

I dig Manos because it's a Fair Trade company. I think that's very important. Yes, the yarn is expensive. However, Fair Trade means the final product was produced with environmentally sustainable processes, the middleman is cut out and 90% of the profits go directly back to the cooperatives. My coffee is the same way - don't laugh - Fair Trade organic coffee is the best!

Finally, two more happy events this weekend. First, Carolina is in the NCAA Championship Final by way of beating Michigan State. It was a nail-biter for me in the first half and I'm sorry to say that I was quite snappy at half time. Poor Karl. However, I made up for it after Carolina won. Second, I spent some quality time in my garden tending to my riotiously overgrown herbs. I let the parsley overtake their borders so I cut them back furiously (hopefully I won't regret that later). The mint was just atrocious. I really had to fight with the original plant because it spread all over. Tip: do not grow mint in your yard, it will grow like a weed! Keep it in containers! I trimmed the oregano and the flowers close by - Blue Marguerite and something that looks like a mum.

OK. I'm having another glass of wine. For you Sacramento-area readers, the Ironstone wines are very tasty. The Symphony Obsession is crisp and sweet.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Sarah Orchid

Sarah, my perennial bloomin' orchid. She's done it again and she's gorgeous. Sarah took her sweet time opening up, as always. It's exciting to me to watch an orchid bloom...the process is so drawn out and the anticipation is delicious. A flower spike first appears as a small nub at the base and it often resembles the tip of a root. Then it starts to grow upwards, at first bright green before becoming a woody brown. Once the spike reaches its full length, tight little flower buds form at the tips. The buds become fuller and fatter until finally they burst open, but slowly, like butterfly wings. The buds normally open one at a time and take a few days to open completely.

Sarah used to be completely white, but since she's been in the company of some purple and pink orchids she has developed a slight pinkish tinge on the upper petals. Orchids are social plants and grow healthier when they're in a bunch together. I have 5 phals and they are all in bloom. Karl says that when they're in their "growing period" I spend more time fussing over them than I do about the cats...or him for that matter.