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.

Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego on FIRE

The Photographer, the Dog and I spent the last five days in Flagstaff Arizona. Sunday evening we received a call that San Diego was once again in the middle of a Santa Ana induced Firestorm. After watching the news reports Monday morning we packed up everything and headed home. It wasn't easy figuring out how to get back with all the Freeway closings. We came home across Hwy 8 with no problems; made fabulous time as all the trucks and RVs had been ordered off the roads due to the high winds. Climbing out of the desert this was the view looking east as we crested the Laguna Mountains
this is the fire in eastern Chula Vista. We were 30-40 miles away. (No more photos as it was too smoky to see very far once we decended the other side of the mountains.)

We arrived home to find the area we live in was still safe even if it was terribly smoky. The Photographer isn't sure about where he works; it's right in the middle of the big evacuation area North of Hwy 56 and he can't reach anyone by phone.

This fire is said to be much bigger than our previous biggest fire back in 2003. That fire came within a mile of our house. What can I say - scary times deja vu!

Say a pray for us here in the Southwest corner of the US, please. And a donation to the Red Cross would sure help.

Friday, October 12, 2007


The past two weeks I've been knitting swatches of my Alpaca/Rambouillet handspun. I want to make Sausalito by Dolce Handknits. My 2-ply washed swatch matched both the stitch and row count but I couldn't figure out the simple Tiny Bowknot stitch. First I looked through all the Barbara Walker books and couldn't find anything similar. (Turns out it is in BW2 page 125) Then I took the pattern and my swatches to spinning class and to the Yarn Shop where I work and none of us could figure out row 4 and 8's stitch pattern.

Finally wrote to the Publisher; Kim answered my questions and now I've got it. It was really a simple thing. You're suppose to knit completely through the stitch below then slip off and drop the stitch above. (Neither the pattern or BW mention this "slip off and drop" part.) Usually once I find the solution to why something isn't working I feel dumb - why did I not see it for myself - but this time I feel rather annoyed. Why couldn't the pattern have mentioned the dropped stitch? Would have saved me a couple weeks of effort.

Two weeks ago while I was knitting with several friends/customers at the shop I mentioned that I wasn't pleased with my 3 needle bind-off at the back of my Mitered Sweater.
3 needle knit bindoff

(to refresh your memory, the sweater is all garter stitch and I knit the above bind-off.)
Karen mentioned that she remembered that in doing the 3 needle bind-off that you purl knit stitches and knit purl stitches. So I went back and pulled it all out and purled the bind-off this time around. Much better!
3 needle purl bindoff
I need to go back and tighten up the last two stitches but over all it looks better and lays flatter. I had doubts that the lumpy knit bind-off would have blocked out as nice as this looks before blocking.
mitered sweater back bindoff fixed

October has been dye lessons in Spinning Class. We've been learning how to measure and weight so that we can reproduce our efforts. I tried at home to dilute colors and I met with so so results.
This yarn I like and will keep (BFL Superwash)
D dyed sock yarn

This one will be thrown back and overdyed, hopefully, with better result.
D 2 dyed yarn
I kept diluting down Turquoise and Aztec Gold; the Turquoise dilutions didn't show much difference and the Turquoise ran into the Gold and took on an odd greenish cast.
Not sure what color(s) I'll add to try and fix it. Overdye it with green??

My third and final yarn from the Simply Socks Yarn Club arrived yesterday and it's my favorite of the three!!! Dream in Color Smooshy in Brouhaha colorway.
Dream in Color Smooshy Brouhaha
No idea what sock pattern I'll use but I really like this color.

It's similar in color (but not in feel) to my current sock. Spiral Eyelet Socks
Spiral Eyelet Sock
This is a very enjoyable pattern to knit; each sock spirals in the opposite directions. I'm on the SSK sock which makes a left-hand spiral, the other is a K2Tog right-hand spiral. This is Paca Peds Alpaca Yarn in Fireside colorway and those are size 1 Knit Picks Harmony DPNs.

What do I think of these new needles? Well, I broke one needle on the second stitch. (I mailed back the piece I could find - couldn't find the piece that catapulted across the room, didn't know I needed to wear protective goggles to knit with them - let you know if I hear back from Knit Picks) The needles are very nice and smooth (maybe a bit too smooth, they don't grab like bamboo does) and are a pleasure to knit with... except for one tiny thing. I'm having difficulty seeing them unless I'm in very good light. Maybe it's my eyes, or the color of my yarn or any other excuse but I believe I'll stay with their wonderful metal needles - LOVE those pointy tips.

Lastly, my sock drawer is full!
Sock Drawer
Now what do I do with my handknit socks?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Alpacas, Llama and Crochet, Oh My!

Full barely describes this past week; it felt more like 12 days than only 7. Started off last Saturday with the first day of National Alpaca Farm Day.
Alpaca Profile

The Photographer and I drove up to Alpine to visit A Simpler Time Alpacas and Mill.
There were goats


And the Guard Lama
Lama Guarding
that really kept watch over all these people around his herd.
Guard Lama

We received a very detailed tour of their fiber Mill. (No pictures as the area was too small and jammed with people to get a good shoot. See their web page for photos.)

I won't bore you with the work portion of the week. The only fun in there is working at the Yarn Shop I get to see such wonderful things customers and Yarn Reps bring in to show us. One Rep that came in was wearing the cutest necklace that she had designed and had published in Creative Knitter Magazine July 2007 Issue. I tried it and couldn't do all the knit increases in one stitch that the pattern called for so I switched to crochet and came up with a reasonable copy.
beaded necklace
I used left over sock yarn and WalMart #6 beads. I'm looking for a small toggle closure to finish it.

My pattern is simple:
String your beads.
Chain a string about a third longer than you want your finished necklace. Then do single crochets in the neck part (remember that you need an inch or so extra on each end to attach your closure.

Then to do the curly whirly part I did 4 triple crochets (a cluster) in each chain stitch, placing beads in each cluster after the first and third triple crochet. Repeat until you've made your curly section your desired length then do single crochets to the end. (My necklace was 1/4 length single crochet, 1/2 length curly then 1/4 length of single crochet.) As you see I'm not a pattern writer; I'll try and answer emailed questions .

Many years ago I bought a small stick of a plant that was called a Perennial Sunflower. Over the years it's grown and grown until now it's a good size patch that grows to 9 feet tall. This is the view out my Kitchen Window
kitchen window'
Recently I've been told by my second daughter, the Horticulture Student, that it's actual Helianthus angustifolius 'Mellow Yellow'. Watching it blow in the wind is facinating. And the view is constantly changing as the sun moves and the light comes from a different direction. I can't decide if I like the morning sunrise light better than the sunset light. We look forward to it's October blooming as the highlight of Fall in our backyard.

All photos except for crocheted necklace by The Photographer.