Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy New Year - ALREADY???

How can it possibly be the end of another year? How did it zip by so quickly - I really thought I was paying attention? Family, spinning and knitting, animals, a couple short vacations and two part-time jobs and it's over. It was a good year but way too short for everything I would have liked to accomplish! Maybe next year...

We're back to no pictures; same camera problem again. The Photographer has tested my Canon A710 IS and agrees it refuses to focus so back to Canon it goes. It worked so well the first ten months - I loved it - and now you can't take a clear picture even with a tripod. Sooo frustrating! In the mean time I'll have to settle for lots of links.

Funny thing happened for my Christmas this year; my whole family, without talking to each other, decided to just buy from my Amazon Wish List. Now I mostly had knitting books listed - 90% knitting books. So that's what I got for Christmas - be careful what you Wish List! Especially when you have a very generous family! (I stupidly left books on there that I was only considering rather than just ones I really really wanted. This all-book Christmas is my own fault; luckily Amazon has a very lenient return policy. I've return a few now and am still considering sending back others.) After the first couple of books I opened it got to be funny; by the evening when the final contingent of the family came over we were really getting hysterical with every new book. This won't be a Christmas we forget.

I received Fourteen (14!!) knitting books - mostly reference but there is one book worth mentioning; Knitting New Scarves by Lynne Barr - which I kept. This book has new shapes, 3-D type, patterns. Should be very interesting. And I received one cookbook, Panera Bread Cookbook

Non-book wish list items I received were Two Lucy Neatby DVDs; Socks 1 and Double Knitting. (I've already learned a new bindoff method.) A Kitchen-Aid Immersion Blender and a set of snap-together square foam mats for blocking. Plus the cutest knitting bag. I saw a bag mentioned somewhere online and thought it was clever and showed Daughter #2. She saved the link and bought me the bag. When she called to order the bag from the store in Grand Rapids, Michigan the woman at the shop couldn't believe someone in San Diego would have ever heard about their bag. (My guess is that she doesn't spend much time online.)

I'm currently working on Calorimetry from Knitty. Figuring out the pattern so I can custom fit it for those with small heads or heads with way too much hair. Everyone's ears are cold; San Diego has been having some very chilly weather for Southern California. Early morning temps in the low 30s. Yeah, go ahead and laugh, we're weather wimps around here but then they're forcasting mid 70s by New Years. We never get a chance to acclimate to cold.

The Photographer was downtown taking pictures on the 26th.

The car show is in town
Mini Car
"hmmm, where's Mr. Bean?"

TheHoliday Bowl was held here at the Q on the 27th.
Arizona State University
Arizona State
(look at the guy in the doorway holding his head - looks like he had way to much party the day before)

And the winners - Texas

Happy New Year to everyone! See ya in 2008.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Stuff

Park Tower

This post is to distract you (look shiny things) from my Christmas knitting, which shall remain nameless at this time. Instead I'll share some cookie recipes that I've found and tried this year.

First I made Homesick Texan's Mom's Raspberry Bars
These are more like candy than cookies - hello! 4 cups of white chocolate chips!!!
Several people have said they're like Super Entenmanns. And I can vouch for the fact that they freeze very well; which gives you a head start on Holiday Baking.

Next was Issues with Knitting's Chocolate Rum Balls.
These were rolled in coconut and were fabulous! This year these are the first to disappear off a plate of cookies - how's that for a recommendation. And they're so simple; a good recipe to make with kids.

And my contribution are Sandies; I've made these for many, many years. I received this recipe from a woman I worked with years ago - Connie, Thanks So Much.


1 cup soft butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I prefer pecans)

more powdered sugar to roll cookies after baking

300 Degree Oven
Combine ingredients in order listed above. Mix in flour as lightly as possible to avoid a tough dough.
Form into 1" balls. (if the weather is warm refrigerate dough before rolling)
Bake on ungreased sheet 25 - 30 mins. Cookies should barely be browned on the bottom.
Roll in powdered sugar while warm. (I use two spoons to handle hot cookies.)

Cool to room temperature then store in air-tight container in refrigerator.
Makes approx. 60 cookies

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as my family has. Hope you and yours have a wonderful Holiday Celebration next week.

The top photo is a Sunset after the storm taken in Balboa Park.
The bottom photo is taken at the beach after a storm.
Both photos courtesy of The Photographer

People on beach

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

... with Pictures

Finally, sunshine and a few minutes to photograph my current projects. The sunny day was between rain clouds; we need all the rain we can get her in the drought prone end of California. Although rain and wind scare the dog, The Photographer and I, native Southern Californians, enjoy the sound of a good rain storm. And always a good excuse to knit.

I'm knitting the Maine Morning Mitts for a couple friends for presents. These are a pretty quick knit and the color changes in the yarn make each mitt a surprise.
Maine Mittens 1
and one of the second pair
Maine Mittens 2
These are both from the same colorway of Silk Garden. Sure don't look like the same yarn do they. All depends on where in the color run you start.

(yes the pictures are a bit blurry. I'm worried my camera is having issues again.)

The Argosy scarf in Kraemer Yarns Sterling Silk & Silver, since it's not a present, has taken a back seat to the Maine Mitts.
Sterling Silver Argosy
and here's a close up of the yarn so you can see the silver/irridescent thread in there.
Sterling Silver Yarn Close-up
This is a rhythmic pattern; I seem to be drawn to patterns where the knitting is a consistent rhythm; I get mesmerized and find I've sat and knit for long periods that only seem like minutes . The Teosinte Socks by Anne Hanson that I finished in July was another very rhythmic pattern. Do you know of other patterns that you think have a rhythmic quality? Would you write and let me know about them, please? I've only found these two on my own.

The Spiral Eyelet Socks in The Alpaca Yarn Company's Paca-Peds in Fireside is my traveling project. No pictures in awhile so here's the first sock.
Spiral Eyelet Socks
and I'm half way down the leg on the second sock which has the spiral going the opposite direction than the first.

The Chevron Scarf in Handpainted Misti Alpaca Worsted is done.
Alpaca Chevron Scarf
I finished the scarf with only this much of the pink colorway left!
all that's left
That was too close!

I know I'm suppose to be spending my money on presents but I had a moment of weakness and bought some yarn through Etsy. (A year or so ago I thought Ebay and Amazon were sites of temptation, they have nothing on Etsy!!!)
Sofie's Toes - Starry Night
This is hand dyed by Emily of Sophie's Toes, 100 Merino Superwash fingering weight. The colorway is called Starry Night. I also bought Midnight in the same yarn base.
Sofie's toes - Midnight
This picture makes the yarn look dark gray; it's actually black with many shades of gray. I wish I'd bought more of this colorway, this would make a gorgeous lace something.

That's it for now. Time to get out there present shopping. Today is the gift card hunt; I know what and where, it's just the trek through the Mall that's the chore. It's cool enough today that I can pull out one of my scarves.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Pirate Ship

This entry really has nothing to do with pirates; I just took this picture, wanted to share it but couldn't figure out anything clever. This ship is one of the floating exhibits at the San Diego Maritime Museum in San Diego Bay.

Now the Knitting Content: Sunshine and my free time haven't coordinated frequently enough for me to take any recent knitting photos. Sorry but you'll have to imagine...

I finished knitting my Reader's Shawl but I haven't blocked it or sewn on the pockets. I thinking I'm putting off finishing it because I am debating pulling out the bottom border and adding more length; I have one whole ball of yarn left.

A shipment of Handpainted Misti Alpaca in worsted weight came into the shop and I bought a green EZ14 and a pink EZ06 to make another Chevron Scarf. This is a present for the "allergic to everything wool, including Cashmere" daughter; she seems to be able to tolerate alpaca.

Another new yarn that came home with me is Kraemer's Sterling silk & silver
which has 2% Silver in it - although I can't see it - looks more irridescent than silver. I'm making a lacy Argosy scarf with it. It's a fingering weight and I'm using a size 4 needle. This yarn is a little hard on my index finger's skin as it runs across. That's probably the nylon in the yarn.

Since I'm the person that usually loses all my yarn labels you maybe wondering how I immediately came up with these three? New system - as I take the label off I shove it down into my chair between the arm and the cushion. They stay put, the cats don't eat them, they don't fall out of my knitting bag and no one that might straighten my messy knitting corner can accidentally throw them away. No one but you and I even know they're there. [Shhhh - keep my hiding place to yourself, please.] Maybe I'll be better able to play "name that yarn" now.

It's really hard keeping track of anything up here in this room; we're slowly remodeling the room trying to work around what's up here rather than hauling everything out of here. (No place to put the stuff but down in the living room; this time of year den-stuff isn't exactly the decorations visitors expect when they come over.)

The Photographer and I went for a walk along the Embarcadero last Sunday to enjoy the area after all the ash had finally been wash away. Everything was sparkling. I took this picture of the birds disregarding the posted sign.

No Parking

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Old and New

Monkey close-up

Yes, I started a pair of Monkey Socks from Knitty. And I admit they're as much fun to knit as everyone has said. Except, somehow they are so small around that they're going to fit no one; have to frog them - sigh.....
Going to have to really check gauge before I attempt them again.

The pattern calls for a size 2/2.5mm needle. I used a KnitPicks size 1/2.5mm needle which I assumed would be the same but I'm getting 9.5 stitches per inch while the pattern calls for 8 per inch. I'm not a fan of walking in socks that have been knit on anything larger than a size 1 needle. Guess I can knit the foot on a smaller needle when I get there. Good-bye Monkey.
Monkey socks
By the way the yarn is Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in the Spring Frost Colorway.

While I was coming to terms that my Monkey Socks weren't going to fit I switched over to knitting the sample socks in Cat Bordhi's new book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One. These socks really are constructed differently.
Here's the Sky Sock Architecture
Sky Sock Sample
that gusset in the front is the one and only gusset in the sock.

And I'm in the middle of the Coriolis Architecture
Coriolis Sample

I've always knit my socks on double point needles. I've tried two socks on one circular (hated the twisty yarn problem and constantly moving everything around) and the 2 16" circulars (didn't like the short needles on 16" circs) but for some reason never tried 2 24" circulars. Reading the directions for the sample Coriolis Sock I decided it would be easier to use the two circular directions so I hunted up two cirs - the ones I came up with aren't the same size and one is 24" while the other is 32". I have lots of stuff hanging off these socks but the two circ method is really working well! I'm going to have to invest in some matching size circs when I actually make this pattern to fit a person's foot. Can't tell you how long I've put off some patterns because they're written for two cirs and I'm just too lazy to translate - now I don't have to!

One of the items on the materials list for all the patterns in Cat's new books are A & B stitch markers.
Coriolis close-up
Cat's come up with a brilliant way to simplify her directions using these labeled stitch markers. BTW did you know that there are several, maybe even more than several, videos on YouTube of Cat demonstrating her techniques?

I tried regular colored stitch markers for the Sky Sock but soon realized how much easier it would make it to have the markers she specified. I got busy searching through Etsy's vendors and found red markers from Suann.
Suann A-B Stitch markers

And some lavendar ones from Beadmarker
Beadmarkers A-B Stitch markers
I think I'm set no matter the color of my yarn.

There's been a sock failure
Gusset yarn blow-out
There is a yarn break; I've no idea how or why the yarn failed. I wore the sock with out noticing any problem but when it came back from the wash (machine washed on delicate and laid flat to dry) there was this hole - "Ohh Nooo!!!"

I leave you with some visiting bird pictures from The Photographer.

Remember the perennial sunflower pictures six weeks ago; the birds have decended to scavenge the seed heads. There's also a flock of green finches but they're too skittish to photograph.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Camera is Back - Yeah!

My Canon A710 IS camera was delivered Thursday evening. The Photographer checked it out and said it is fixed! You can actually achieve focus now. That's all that's important!

There's a FO to show:
Chevron Scarf FO
Joelle Hoverson's Chevron Scarf Pattern in Socks that Rock Mediumweight - in colors Farm House and Watermelon & Tourmaline.

Feather and Fan closeup

I enjoyed knitting this scarf so much that I immediately cast-on another in Blue Sky Alpaca Melange; colors 804, 800, 803. And Blue Sky Alpaca Sportweight ; color 531.
Blue Sky Alpaca Chevron Scarf
the colors aren't exact in this pictures; the light color yarn is really a true baby blue. (Blue Sky calls this color 800 cornflower.)

Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending an all-day Lucy Neatby workshop on Finishing Techniques at the Shepardess in Old Town. (I'm asking for all her instructional videos for every Birthday and Christmas present until I have them all. She's that good!!) She uses her videos during the class for demonstration purposes so the whole class didn't have to gather around her while she knits up a small sample.

Before class we were to knit 2 - 8X8 swatches and 1- 5X6 swatch. We ended up making a small sweater sampler practicing her techniques.
Technique Sample sweater

First we grafted (Lucy doesn't like/use the term Kitchner) across the shoulders
grafting sample - top to top
My second color wasn't different enough to really show off the stitching well in photos.

We practiced mattress stitch when we seamed up one side and sewed in the sleeve. She spent quite a bit of time talking about sleeve heads and their seaming. And the last couple hours were spent on front bands and her button hole technique.
front band sample
We did a lined band with matching buttonholes and a picot turning edge.

The next day she was giving her sock class but I had to work and we won't mention the $$$ to take TWO of her classes. I did get her to sign my copy of her Cool Socks book.
Lucy Neatby Autograph

Everyone in the USA have a Happy Thanksgiving this Thursday.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Flagstaff Vacation Photos

Since I can't show you any new knitting photos (my camera was two weeks past the 1-year warranty date but Canon took it in as under warranty - YEAH!) I thought I'd post some of our vacation pictures. If you hate other people's vacation pictures - Stop Reading Now.

A decade ago we tried to go to Walnut Canyon but it was so cold ( with wind chill it felt like ZERO) we never made it out of the Visitor's Center. This trip it was 70 degrees F, a perfect day to hike through the Early Native American Cliff dwellings down in the Canyon.
Walnut Canyon
If you look in the center of the Canyon Wall you can see the hallowed out areas which were made into rooms.

Me at Walnut Canyon
Here I am for scale - these people were much shorter than we are today.

cliff side path
This will give you an idea of the cliff side path we walked along and you can see how the canyon-side holes were walled into rooms.

looking out of room walnut canyon
The Photographer stepped inside the hole in the wall to photograph the view looking out.

over hang Walnut Canyon

Walnut Cayon Climb
This is the view from down in the Canyon looking up toward the Visitor's Center where we started our hike. See it up there - that little white triangle in the center of the rim? We had to hike back up out of there - all 257 steps at 7000 ft! Our own little stress test.

The following day (Sunday)we drove to the Grand Canyon. The Village area was wall to wall cars and buses. No where to park and it was getting very windy; even thought it was sunny and clear it was unpleasant to be out in all that wind. After talking to a park ranger we drove east out of the Village and found some view sites with better views than in the more frequented Park View Points.

Grand Canyon, River_2
We actually saw the Colorado River down there.

Yellow Couple
This couple dashed out of their car, set up their camera on a timer, took their own picture together at the Grand Canyon and were back in their car in under five minutes. Guess they wanted to show up in those photos?

Jewelry on the side of the road
Stopped at the required Native American Jewelry on the side of the road.

Desert View Tower
And stopped at the Desert View Tower which was built by the Harvey Company in the 1930. (You remember that Judy Garland movie The Harvey Girls?)

Inside Desert View Tower
Interesting painting inside the tower.

looking up desert view tower
Looking straight up to the top of the tower.

All day Sunday the winds' speed kept increasing; it was that evening we got the call about the fires at home. We knew from past experience that the winds would be driving the fires westward which made us worry. Monday morning we decide to change plans and head home. You know the rest...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Socktoberfest Confessions

The end of October brought an end to Socktoberfest 2007; I only finished one pair of socks - plain gray ribbed for The Photographer - who is yet to wear them.

(Sorry no new photos! My Canon A710 isn't working right; the Imagine Stabilizer has become a de-Stabilizer! Even with a tripod the pics are blurry. Sending it back to Canon to see if they can fix it. We'll see how long that takes?? Not like there aren't half a dozen other camera's in the house I can try and use. "Try" being the word of the day - I prefer my little point and shoot! Any photos in this entry are old pictures you've probably seen before.)

So, only one finished pair of socks in the month that was suppose to be devoted to socks. Now, I did knit on socks, it's just that I have several in the works and even started another pair while on vacation. Let's count the socks I'm knitting:

1. My traveling sock in Paca Peds. Spiral Eyelet Socks.
Spiral Eyelet Sock
I'm into the gusset decreases on the first sock.

2. Seeded Rib Socks from Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd in Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Peacock. End of decreases on first sock

3. Waving Lace Socks from Favorite Socks Interweave Press in Fleece Artist Paris colorway
Just to heel on second sock.

4. Cookie A's Monkey Socks in Cherry Tree Hill, Spring Frost Colorway.

I swear I knit on every sock project during the month; just not enought on any one to finish. Do you think I have Knitting Attention Deficit? Is there an organization dedicated to helping Knitters learn monogamy to one project? Would that be any fun? I think I have the Knitter's Almond Joy mentality -- sometimes I feel like [knitting] a sock, some times I don't!

I do have a photo of a FO that I haven't mentioned before. It's from Monthly Dishcloth's Yahoo Group - Sept Mid-Month Kal.
Dress DishclothDress on bottle
And it hangs around the neck of the bottle to dry, how clever is that?

Now to go see if I can figure out one of The Photographer's cast-off SLRs. Wish me LUCK!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

As the smoke clears...

We're still here; a little sooty but safe. The 2003 Cedar fire cleared the brush so there was little fuel to lead the Witch Creek fire toward my area of town. Small favors!

Once we got home Monday evening we sat in our closed up house for two days watching the news day and night. I knit constantly which helped me keep my sanity; it's so hard to watch reports of fire in neighborhoods where I have friends. (So far I haven't heard of anyone I know losing their home - still keep those prays and Red Cross donations coming - there are so many thousands that did lose everything.)

For close to a year I've been hearing about the Chevron Scarf Kal and seeing the fabulous pictures of the scarves that came out of it. The pattern is in Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. It's a simple feather and fan pattern but the trick of it is the combination of two colors of fingeringweight yarn. The original pattern used Koigu KPPPM but the combination I saw over and over on the Kal was Socks That Rock medium weight in colorways Farmhouse and Watermelon-Tourmaline. While watching the fire reports I looked around for something simple and soothing to knit and decided this was the project I needed right now.
Socks that Rock Chevron Scarf
(see how orange the light is - that's the smoke in the air. It looks like sunset all day here.)

Prior to the fire we were on Vacation in Flagstaff - love that town. My favorite place to eat there is Martanne's on San Francisco St. (No picture just wanted to plug the restaurant.) My car knitting was a simple Reader's Wrap; lots of stockinette with a double seed stitch border.
Reader's Wrap
I'm using Kathmandu Aran in Color 124, a tweedy burgundy, which is 85% Merino, 10% Silk and 5% Cashmere. That sounds soft doesn't it? I knit English style and as this yarn draws across my right index finger it was scratching the skin below my cuticule. Karen at the yarn shop suggested self-sticking gauze; it worked very well. I'd wrap my finger and could knit an hour before the yarn started cutting through the gauze and wouldn't pull easily across the top of my finger. It worked well as a car knitting project.

As for the vacation: We found Fall in full glory.
Snow Bowl Trees
This is the road up to the Snow Bowl. The men were up checking the gondola towers - skiing can't be too far off.

We saw this flat-bottomed cloud formation that we've never seen before. It was the only cloud in the sky at the time.
Flat bottom cloud
Anyone know clouds? What makes it so flat on the bottom?

We drove to the Grand Canyon east of the Village. Much better views without the crowds and tour buses but a long way between bathrooms so plan ahead. Here's Annie on Vacation enjoying the view.
Annie at Grand Canyon
She took one look and then wanted back in the car - it was cold and windy.