Thursday, May 27, 2010


the usual

Normally I don't use my knitting blog as a space for commentary on current events or issues. However, I felt I had to make an exception in the case of the WBC. I wasn't aware of how long they have been around, and that they carry their heinous picket signs at funerals of people who have died of AIDS and service persons who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan - because they object to the U.S. military's so-called "tolerance" of gays. (Our military shows homosexuals anything but tolerance, IMHO.) Had I known about the WBC before, I certainly would have raised awareness of their evil on my blog. What got to me is when I learned through a Facebook friend that they had scheduled a picket at a Portland high school. These people are far beyond crazy-- they're dangerous! I don't want them anywhere near where I live, or especially around school kids. Anyway, I just felt I had to say something, and I thank you for leaving comments.

I'll go back to talking about knitting. I'm hooked on knitting baby clothes lately, and this week I finished a little kimono sweater.

It needs to be washed and lightly blocked, then I'll probably attach ribbon ties -- although I was thinking about making a little loop and sewing on a button. Here are the details:
Pattern: Baby Kimono by Kristin Spurkland, from Interweave Knits Summer 2005.
Yarn: RYC Cashcotton DK, 2 1/2 balls.
Needles: US 3.
Size: 3 to 6 months.
I got the right and wrong sides mixed up, because in the photo, the straight side of the sweater front was on the opposite side. I'm not too upset about it though--it's garter stitch, and also the baby who eventually wears it won't mind! I love the yarn, too. Picked it up from the sale room at Woodland Wool Works. It's very soft and machine washable. The only thing I didn't care for is that it's 18% angora, and the myriad little hairs made me sneeze the whole time I was knitting!
It's a nice pattern, well written and simple. Kind of a "trust" knitting process along the lines of the Baby Surprise Jacket--in the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna, "you don't know what you've got there"! It doesn't look like anything, and you're wondering how in the hell it's going to go together. Just breathe and follow the directions, and then it becomes clear that two 3-needle bind-offs at the sleeve tops will give you a sweater that just needs seams at the sleeve bottoms.
As this Memorial Day holiday approaches, I wish peace to all of you and those you love, and yarn. Lots of yarn.

Monday, May 24, 2010


sometimes I just gotta.

This is a musical message for the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. I won't link to them, so if you don't know who they are, a Google search should fill you in.

Warning - not safe for work or young children.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


going a bit Andy Rooney on your hiney

Is it just me, or does Monday seem to be getting way more than its share of hate mail these days? I mean, something must be up with that, because an inordinate number of blogs and Facebook posts begin with "Dear Monday" and then go on to name various body parts that Monday is invited to suck. Now it isn't as though I haven't had many starts to my week that were effed up to say the least. It just seems that the whinefest is louder than usual, and in Monday's defense I have to say that it never promised you sunshine and noodle salad. And if you think Monday done you wrong, just look what it did to John Travolta. Seriously, that man's life the past few years has been cruelly tragic. I do feel sorry for him, but I admit I'd feel worse if he weren't rich and Scientologist. Yes, I know I am bad but really, I'm just trying to make you feel less bruised about Monday. No need to thank me, I do what I can.

The truth is that I don't have much going on right now. I finished a couple of big orders and am waiting for yarn to do smaller ones. While working on adding to inventory for Black Sheep, I did a couple skeins of an inexpensive wool single ply with an acrylic thread wrap that I call "Crinkle Worsted". I love green and am exceptionally pleased with the results here. All the different greens reminded me of a veggie patch, so I named it "Jolly Green". The yarn is quite soft, too. I think it would be great as a cowl, hat or scarf.

I've been spending more time on knitting. The second Pontocho is almost half finished, and I also finished a pair of man socks for Mr. Stitchjones. The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy and the colorway is "Tea Party". I used an ancient Ann Norling pattern for wide wale rib socks; I think I've lost my actual copy and I just wing it now. They make really comfy socks that stay up and aren't too tight.

X-treme closeup of the color intensity variations and stitch definition.

Last Friday evening, J and I went to Tamera (Tammy) Bremer's reception at the Alpern Gallery in N.W. Portland. I wish there was something to link; however, the gallery's website has been down for a while. I was amazed at her works. Not only were there the nude self-portrait rugs hooked in laceweight alpaca yarn that I dyed for her, both front and back view (!), but also, hanging in the front window were two gowns consisting of handfelted baby alpaca top that I dyed in ecru. The felted top was attached to a flesh tone tulle backing, so the whole effect was see-through and the theme was "nowhere to hide". There were other things in the exhibit too, that both defy description and pertain to the artist's life in a very personal way. I was blown away that the most random and clever collection of objects could all say about the creator, "This is who I am". And I am very proud to have taken part in it. Purely to brag on myself- indulge me or not, as is your will - on the list of thank-you's, "Sharon Spence of StitchJones" appears directly beneath "Tina Newton of Blue Moon Fiber Arts". That was an ego shot, and I totally mainlined it!
I really enjoyed working with Tammy, and we discussed collaborating on another project in the future. I never could have been part of this if I hadn't made the decisions which I agonized over a few years ago...so it's all good.
And what blog post would be complete without a picture of Toki? He sleeps on a crumpled old bathrobe of mine, which is where Buster used to sleep. :) I was trying to sneak up on him but he wasn't going to be fooled. Note the custom gnawed bed frame - one of these days I really must do something about that...

Sunday, May 16, 2010


photo finish

Baby Liddy Buck and his biological mother, Irish. Can you believe those legs?!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


it's a boy!

and no, he can't speak up - he's a little horse. :) Sorry, couldn't resist. But hey, great news! A beautiful colt came into the world at about 1:00 AM (Friday night/Saturday morning). I'm working on getting pics (more about that later), just wanted to share that I'm a grandma-sort of.

The photos are still in Michelle's camera. She's exhausted, having driven straight through from Spokane and only stopping to drop her friend off at home, so hopefully we can get them uploaded tomorrow. I saw them though; he's got these long white legs and brown spots on his coat, so he's definitely a paint, and it looks like he will grow to be very big. His name: Liddy Buck. I would never have known that that's a nickname for Lindsay Buckingham, if not for my daughter's passion for 70s and 80s music. Yes, in this family it's all about the music!! At first I was like, "aw come on". I mean we all loved Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, however it hasn't been 1977 for quite some time so let's move on! But when I thought about it some, you know what? It's really not a half bad name for a pony.

Liddy Buck...I rather like it.

Am whipped because we got up very early and went down to Scio for the Lamb & Wool Fair. Which was kinda fun. Not only was it a beautiful day, but also there was the quintessential small town parade going right down Main Street, past the hall where the fiber arts show and spin-in was being held. I haven't been to a parade like that in ages! Antique tractors, Shriners in mini cars, rodeo princesses - total Americana. Had no idea all this hoopla was going to happen, otherwise I would have brought my camera. Anyway, I'm going to turn in - will be back as soon as I have a slide presentation!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


it's been lovely, but I have to scream now

This afternoon was spent working on the last 42 skeins of a never-ending order...although I love my customers to tiny bits, I do need to learn to cap orders and open new ones, for the sake of my sanity. One more dye session and the whole shebang is finished. Anyway I'm working away, and with the steamers going, the kitchen gets rather swampy and the process tends to turn me into a giant ball of sweat. At those times I become a different animal...not simply engrossed in the work; it's more like yeah, I'm nasty and my back aches, but I'm in the zone-don't bug me! I don't answer the phone. I'm not quite ready for human interaction until I'm finished, the kitchen is swabbed and I've showered.

However, because campus is close to home, TAD (that's Totally Awesome Daughter, as I referred to her last post) comes home between classes to eat. Here's the exchange.

TAD: What's for dinner?
Me: Haven't figured that out yet. (continue working)
TAD: I need something to eat.
Me: OK, but can you maybe take a sack lunch next time you have morning and afternoon classes? I'm right in the middle of things here.
TAD: Gee, I'm sorry to be such an inconvenience. Imagine wanting something to eat in my own house!
Me: (silent, suppressing the oft-uttered response that the kitchen is...my...studio)
TAD: Toki pooped right in front of the door. When I opened it, it got smeared.
Me: Well, could you clean it up? I can't deal with it just now.
TAD: (huffs) I have to go back to school!! (Just to be clear though, she did clean it up.)


So you see, in this house, being 19 means "I'm an adult, you can't tell me what to do" and also, "you still have to take care of my needs". Nurse? Nurse??


She and her bff are going up to Spokane tomorrow. Yes, I worry because it's the longest road trip she's taken on her own. However, it's an exciting event for her and I wouldn't want her to miss it. Last summer, my mother-in-law bred her mare, Irish, a beautiful reddish paint horse. The foal is going to become Michelle's horse. I did not know that it takes 11 months to make a baby horse! Well, it does and the birth is imminent. It would be thoroughly awesome if the kids got to witness the delivery. I'll keep you posted and share whatever pics I can!

Back to the dyepots...

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Pontocho goes live

I just couldn't wait to carry out the elaborate plans for my Pontocho wrap that I discussed in the last couple of posts...mainly because, let's face it, it's really a poncho, and ponchos have a (totally undeserved, IMHO) bad rep. I'd hate to put all the effort into shopping around a design that deep down I don't think will fly. I guess that Hollywood photo shoot will have to wait until I design the right garment!

So even though I'm still knitting a solid color version of Pontocho, which looks cool now that I have about 6" done and the fan lace really shows up, I decided what the hell - it's ready for prime time. The pattern is now available for download on Ravelry, and also in my Etsy shop, for a paltry $5 which helps keep us in milk. Seriously - between TAD (Totally Awesome Daughter) and her best gf who lives with us 3 days out of the week (complicated - but not in a bad way) we go through about a gallon every 2 days! And we have a small fridge, so stocking up isn't an option. Was going to segue into my rant about never letting your husband pick out appliances, however that discussion needs to be tabled because I actually have to throw on my fabulous wrap now, and go down to 7-Eleven because there's not enough milk for breakfast.

See ya...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Respect the Noro

I have heard quite a few gripes about Noro yarn from my fellow knitters, such as the detritus in Kureyon, Silk Garden and other yarns; the fact that when there's a knot, the color sequence changes; the roughness of Kureyon worsted weight and sock yarn; the price, on and on. Don't get me wrong, I'm in total agreement with these complaints. Such as it is, I find myself in an ongoing love-hate relationship with Noro yarn. The color, man, the color...! So all I can do, since I'm unable to quit Noro, is just accept these quirks about the yarn and keep knitting with it. It is what it is. You may not get regular color sequencing, but you will get something brilliant and unique in all the world.

That said, here is a first look at an original design of mine: Pontocho.

Now I'm trying hard to not be driven batshit crazy by that teeny strip of brown; this is a Japan-inspired design with Japanese yarn, so I figure the least I can do is adopt a Zen attitude about it. Pontocho is actually an alley in Kyoto near the center of town; it's across the river from Gion, and both are famous as geisha districts. I found myself getting lost wandering through Pontocho one day, and although I didn't spot any Geisha (I later did in Gion), I was fascinated by this narrow, cobblestoned walkway with expensive restaurants and tea houses. It seemed mysterious and out of the way. And by now you probably know that I love plays on words, so I didn't design Pontocho as a shawl, but a triangular poncho. I used the Fan Lace stitch from the first Barbara Walker Treasury. The stitch pattern might be somewhat obscured by the bright stripes of color, but a recent stash exploration yielded up enough Berroco Comfort worsted to knit it again and really showcase the stitch. It looks complicated but is easy; after a few repeats I was able to memorize it. Which is really saying something, because I have my issues with lace knitting!

Here are the nuts and bolts, in case you're interested:

Noro Taiyo, color 9A, 3.5 balls (about 700 yards). Size 8 needles. Width: about 22". I knit the rectangular piece to 58" long but could have kept going, as I wanted the neckline bigger, however blocking relaxed it enough to fit me.

I have big dreams for this design - I'd like to have a photo shoot with a model, write it up and submit it for publication. Of course, I could always put it on Ravelry or Etsy, but I want to see if it has a shot at being accepted somewhere. For the photo shoot, the Japanese Garden would be ideal, but alas--they require a photographer's membership ($150) for any kind of portrait photography. I'm undaunted, though, because this is Portland, and there are many gardens and parks which would be a nice background.

So there you have it, the Pontocho poncho. My other WIP's will have to languish a little longer, because when I get the proverbial wild hair up my...well, you know, I just have to run with it and see it through to completion!

Sunday, May 02, 2010


knitting something fabulous (I hope)

...but I can't show it to you just yet.

Here's a sneak preview though:

The yarn is Noro Taiyo, which I just love. It's a nice soft cotton blend with hardly any twigs in it. I'm not ready to divulge any more info about the project except that this is my own design, it's almost done (!!), and now I'm looking for the perfect solid color yarn to knit another one. Suggestions are welcome! Here are my criteria: a) it must be a cotton blend with little or no wool, b) Aran weight preferred because I'm knitting this on 8's -- I almost always go no bigger than a size 7 needle when using worsted weight, ) and c) inexpensive! The Taiyo, while a great yarn, is pricey, so I'd like to offer another yarn option that's more affordable and in a solid color to showcase the stitch pattern more effectively. I had a look around Knit Picks' web site but didn't see anything that I thought would be good--however, that doesn't mean much because I hardly ever buy Knit Picks yarn. So if you've tried something I might like, please tell me about it in the comments.
OK - gotta go finish this sucker!

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