Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Unpacking the last of the souvenirs

...from last week's trip to the Bay Area.

J and I happened upon this place while visiting Pier 39 in San Francisco. We bought *just a little* bit for nibbling...ate that then went back for some more to nibble...oh man. IMHO it was better than See's, Van Duyn or Boehm's.

Because I was in a generous frame of mind, I purchased a boxed assortment of chocolates for my co-workers. (Yes, I managed to stay out of it and brought the intact, unopened box to work Monday morning.) Usual procedure for sharing goodies at our small company is to send out an email telling everyone what you've left in the kitchen. What happened to the chocolates can best be described with the title of this recent movie: Gone In 60 Seconds.

Yeah, that was a long way to go to set up a lame joke, but you must understand that I'm going with my strengths here. Slowly but surely, the pile of Mason-Dixon warshrags grows:

I can't wait to make more, but in addition to the projects I'm holding in suspended animation, I'm making the "Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono" because: happy news! My boss just became a mommy last week. She and her husband were about to adopt a baby girl last summer, but at the last minute the birth mother changed her mind. The experience took its toll, to be sure, but the important thing is that they didn't give up. And sure enough, they got a call in mid-February that a baby was about to be born in Phoenix, so they went there, and now they are parents of an adorable baby girl! Since I do nothing if not live up to my self-inflicted nickname of "Truly Obsessed Knitter," I took some gentle razzing about being "Granny Sharon" who is "knitting up a storm" for the new baby, (which I am but never mind that,) and thought, Hey wait a minute! I ain't even 52 yet. My girl is only 16--God forbid I should become a grandma!

Then again, being a "surrogate grandma" to Barbara's baby wouldn't be the worst thing in the world...

The little kimono is such a fast knit that I began it last night and it's already half finished. While in Calif., I also made a color-coordinating hat from the baby hat pattern in the first "Not Just Socks" book, using less than half a skein of Koigu. I'll display the finished ensemble ASAP.

I also made my first foray into Orenburg lace, the real deal. Two hours into one of Galina Khmeleva's shawl patterns, I screwed up, so it's back to square one. Or to be more specific, edging point one.

Who The Hell Are You, and What Have You Done With My Baby?

This is my one and only, Michelle, vamping for the camera. Scares the holy bejeezus out of me. The makeup is self-styled--Michelle plays "Magenta"
at midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and cast members line up for her to do their makeup. She's been a theater student since the age of nine, a drama queen ALL her life, and her goal (at least as of right now) is to earn a B.A. in Theatre Arts-Costume Design. As long as she goes to a school in the Oregon University System, which we might actually be able to afford, we'll be sweet!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


My sentiments exactly

Sign is on the side of a building in Berkeley...where else?!

Whew! Sorry for the long absence. I've been out of town since Wednesday, attending Stitches West in San Jose-Santa Clara. I actually was there for the market preview on Thursday night (a madhouse) and an Orenburg lace workshop with Galina Khmeleva of Skaska Designs. Then my sweetie, having combined my knitting holiday with a business trip, took me around the East Bay, and all over San Francisco. So grab yourself a cup of tea--or pour a glass of wine, whatever works for ya--and get comfy, because I've got stories and pics!

First off, here is my first, pathetic attempt at ethereal Orenburg lace (unblocked, of course):

This pitiful swatch took about 5 hours of painstaking, row-by-row (even though every other row is knit) on size 2 dpns, with bobbins of Galina's laceweight. A brilliant designer and fabulous knitter, she is. Knits like a flash, and so fluid there's scarcely any discernible movement in her hands. Along with instruction and inspiration, she brought to the class a wealth of cultural information about her native Russia. Her heavily Russian-accented English was a source of some comedy for me, with me being the butt of the joke of course. As you can see in the bottom of the swatch, I never learned to do a proper yarn-over. Apparently I've been knitting "blind" yarnovers all my knitting career without knowing it. When I showed my halting progress to Galina, she said, "I don't like this so much...it looks like mooshie."

I struggled to conceal my dismay. "Moose shit?" I stammered.

"Mooshie! Like scrambled eggs! See, these are blind yarnovers, good for making sweater, but in lace, no one will ever see, yes? So make hole, like this." She promptly showed all of us the proper way to yarnover--so much simpler, yes, than my clumsy method.

Enlightened, I went forth never to sin again. There are 5 attempts at basic elements of Orenburg patterns in the swatch: small strawberry, large strawberry (in pink, where I dropped a stitch,) cat's paw and diamonds, heart chain, and honeycomb--which is where I hit the wall and bound off. Another highlight of the class was my discovery of a mistake in the pattern, which of course was intentional, and having been the first student to discover it, Galina awarded me a prize:

Of course, I had to have something to make it out of, so at the lunch break I dashed down to the market and picked up a color gradient kit of gorgeous laceweight. Here is the haul from the Market, and also a fabulous shop in San Jose called Commuknitty (hi, Ivy!), in all its glorious yarny obscenity:

The gradient kit is on the far right. The pale pink stuff in front is from Southwest Trading Co., it's a sockweight called "Tofu-tsies" because it's a soyfiber blend, and get this--it's also got chitin, a shellfish protein touted as being "natually antibacterial." I couldn't pass it up. There's also enough cotton DK to make a summer tank, a couple hanks of Euroflax linen, and a couple hanks of Claudia Handpaint. For some reason, my furshlugginer camera turns all hues of purple and plum to blue. Maybe I could afford a better one if I wasn't blowing the rent money on yarn.
I've got lots more, but I'm being bumped off the computer by a spousal unit eager to print his boarding pass for a trip to Kansas City tomorrow (sniff--I really must put in an appearance at work,) so I'll stop for now. Had very limited Internet access on my trip, so I look forward to visiting my buddies' blogs. That is, of course, as soon as I get the computer back.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Belated valentine

AlterKnits' Lace-up Fingerless Mitts, modeled by Diana, formatter extraordinaire. Not only is she my first human model (in a previous incarnation, I was a mad knitter of dog sweaters and several dogs obligingly posed for pics wearing my creations) but she also just rocks the color red, and is my current accessories muse! Way to spark up Casual Friday, Diana!

I knit on blind faith--meaning, I get so excited about what I want to make that I don't even reason out the pattern before I'm off to the races--and invariably I end up sadder but wiser. Even though I love how the mitts look when worn, I shoulda taken the pattern for something of a test-drive before I set out to make an item for someone special. The medium size calls for only one skein of Manos. Brrrrrrp! Wrong--I had to nip over to the Bee to pick up a second skein, which thankfully was in stock. The thumbs came out a wee bit too long, and uneven, due largely to less than stellar measuring on my part. I do gauge swatches for sweaters, generally not for accessories, and I simply don't do row gauge. So if I had a number of rounds to knit rather than trying to measure 1/2" with Manos on dpns, I think I would have been happier with the result.

I live in the metro area of Portland, Oregon, where you can't swing a dead cat without hitting someone who has at least one design published in Interweave Knits. (sorry for that metaphor, cat lovers.) Hell, even the author of the book I just mentioned lives in Portland! So why, oh WHYizzit, that silk ribbon cannot be had in this town except for one place--the Button Emporium--which was of course closed Monday, the only day when it was convenient for me to go there? (I had a doctor's appointment several blocks from it.) I ended up using JoAnn polyester ribbon for Diana's mitts, but I'm determined to get silk ribbon to lace up the next pair, which I'm knitting in the baby alpaca I won in a recent contest.

Mental Health Day

I took one of those on Thursday, largely due to exhaustion from dealing with Jimmy's great bedwetting extravaganza. I stayed up very late Wednesday night working on the mitts, and when I finally dragged my weary self into bed, I found that my darling puppy had peed all over the blankets and sheets, soaked the mattress, and completely saturated one of my pillows (which I promptly threw out). By the time I'd dried out the mattress, turned it and made up the bed clean, it was well past 3 am and I knew I'd be useless for the next day.

However, I have absolutely no regrets about staying home, because I realized something--that even my knitting can sometimes feel like a job. As much as I want to plug away on my large projects and see them through to completion, the quickie-fun stuff always beckons--maybe because there's so damn much of it now! Be that as it may, my knitting has been sorely lacking a sense of play, so I attempted to make up for it by having some fun, Mason-Dixon style.

It has been a very long time since I made a warshrag! While getting the Manos I needed to finish the mitts, I picked up a few balls of Rowan Handknit Cotton, and you know, it felt a little like when I was a kid getting a box of 64 Crayola crayons in different brilliant colors. I. Made. A. Dishrag. And it was fun! And addicting! Need more colors of Handknit Cotton, must have them all! I heartily invite the Knitting Curmudgeon and her ilk to eat my shorts.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


A wild hair

Yes, it's me!

Because January 2007 sucked so hard, and I'm continuing treatment for that persistent infection (the one suspected to be cancer but isn't), I decided to go down to the salon and have something drastic done to my hair. When I informed my spousal unit of my plans, his only comment was "just don't get it cut." We'd all be running around with our hair down to our butts if it were up to him. Well, first my hair was dyed "mocha"--seeing it that dark was alone a bit of a shocker--and blonde highlights were added on top. For once, spousal unit liked what was done to my hair! This pleased me so much that I decided to retire my little South Park avatar and use this self-taken photo in my Blogger profile.

Thank you for the kudos on my blanky--I love working on it. It is indeed very snuggly. I'm planning to devote the remainder of the weekend to knitting, having done my part to keep America beautiful.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Show and tell

Blogger, along with my 16-year old, is choosing to be difficult tonight, so I couldn't upload all the photos I wanted to in the last post. I wanted to show off the Log Cabin Moderne, because it's growing up to be such a big, strong blanky:

I wasn't exaggerating about the mess in da house. "Craft corner" looks more like crap corner. But the blanket, oh my! One more moss green block, one more cream block, a purple border, and it's a fait accompli.

Yes Ma'am, One Bag Full

The haul from the Super Bowl sale at Knitting Bee: 6 hanks of Gems Merino Fingering weight in aqua, to make the Arctic Diamonds Stole from IK's winter issue; and 2 hanks of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Black Purl--just because it's sock yarn. Lousy photo, I know. But holding all this sweet sweet yarn is the Bee's own canvas tote.

Once upon a time, really not so long ago, I was being overly cautious in not wanting to appear as though I was promoting any particular LYS, so I made it my policy to refrain from mentioning any yarn shop here. Well, I was being a pompous ass, because writing my previous blog entry made me realize what an important part of my knitting life such places are. They are no less than spaces which contain and sustain my creativity--so why the heck shouldn't I talk 'em up?


Yay, I won!

I'm one of those people who never wins anything, so imagine how jazzed I was to find out I'd won a random drawing for knitting a helmetliner for the troops. SP9 participants were challenged to do so by Kerry, our hostess. Thank you, Kerry! Buttery soft baby alpaca. This fiber calls to me to knit a nice warm hat, and maybe a pair of mitts.

Lucky Me

I've been thinking lately on how knitting has impacted my life...you may be thinking, "oh no, she's about to wax philosophical" in which case you might be more entertained by this. But seriously folks--I've not only found an activity with limitless capacity to keep me fascinated; even color alone can absorb me to no end, but through my love of knitting I've met the most amazing people, both in person and online. I'd like to tell you about just a few of them. First of all, there's Jami, who owns one of the Portland metro area's charming yarn shops, Knitting Bee. Before I found my current job, I spent a few months working there, and enjoyed it a great deal, and also the Bee has been my mainstay for stash-building. Due to concerns ranging from the mundane to the unpleasant, (mainly my health issues,) I haven't been knitting lately with the Wednesday-night crowd at the Bee, but I miss the regulars and semi-regulars: Trish, Malia, Rosemary, Elaine, Cindy, Shelley, Charlene, Stephanie and Becca, to name a very few. Being in the company of these ladies is affirmation that I am, indeed, at home and with kindred spirits.

Also special to me is my monthly shawl-knitting group. It's been wonderful to start out with one other interested person, and the basic pattern laid out in the book Knitting Into The Mystery, and watch the movement take shape. We now number three to five regulars, and thanks to a wonderful knitter named Trish, we are amassing finished shawls and a variety of stitch patterns.

Then there are friends I've made through this very blog: Flutter, kay, my secret pal Meg who spoiled me silly, and Nikki, whom it was my pleasure to spoil. I've learned that I don't necessarily have to meet someone in person to establish a significant connection--what is shared electronically is every bit as meaningful as with a face-to-face chat; sometimes even more so. I appreciate all who stop by here and leave a comment. The "girl with kaleidoscope eyes," whom I only know as "F.", took the time to send me a postcard from her home town of Palmdale, Calif. That was so cool--it absolutely made my day!

I guess the upshot of all this is that I'm in a reflective, count-your-blessings sort of mood, and looking back over what I've written, I can see that in every way that knitting has touched my life, it's made it better.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Super Sunday

Something hilarious happened this afternoon, which I absolutely must, can't not, blog about. (Note that the following contains adult material, so if you are under 18, please proceed here.)

My teenage daughter and I, upon returning home from an afternoon errand, found our miniature dachshund puppy Jimmy gnawing on a toy. However, closer inspection revealed that it wasn't a dog toy. The little dickens had somehow gotten hold of my daughter's vibrator! (Yes, I was aware that she owned one, although finding it on the living room floor in such a fashion made for a weird moment between us, to say the least.) Fortunately, she and I were the only ones there--I'm glad we weren't accompanied by any visitors, or relatives, like, um, let's say her Dad. She'd kill me if she knew I was putting this on my blog, but then again, I've always lived a bit dangerously. And since I am the mom, it's really tough shit, n'est-ce pas?

WIP It Good, or What I Do Instead Of Housecleaning

Cabled scarf in Noro Cash Iroha. Let's see if my LYS' pattern is accurate, that only 2 skeins are needed. Major blocking will certainly be needed, but it looks promising so far.

I couldn't resist starting another comfort shawl, this one with the Peace Fleece I purchased via internet direct from the PF people in Maine last fall. It isn't the softest yarn I've ever worked with, but it isn't Brillo-like either. It's about like Shetland, I guess. The color is reminiscent of the masala sauce at my favorite Indian restaurant--it's actually called "Glasnost Gold." They also offer "Perestroika Pink" and by the time you've perused their list of available colors, you can get 3 poli-sci credits for a semester of 20th-century Russia.

And my Log Cabin Moderne blanket grows apace. I'll save the photo, and my goodie haul from today's LYS Super Bowl sale, for next entry.

Dang, my house is a mess...yet today is the cheeriest I've felt in a long time.

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