July 29, 2005

LOOM LOADING

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Moving the loom out of her former residence, yesterday afternoon. The loom is folded so that she can fit through doorways.

Scott said, "Oh, good, honey -- it's already got a half-finished project on it! That's gonna save you a lot of time." I think he was teasing me because the smaller loom I already own has had a warp on it for . . . oh, . . . about a year.

Here she is, loaded up and ready to come to her new home:
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The loom itself is covered in that cream-colored blanket. The wooden object immediately to the left of the loom and being struck with that starburst of sunshine is a spool rack, one of the many accoutrements that came with this loom. I've never used a warp that was so long that it needed a spool rack, but now I'm dreaming up all kinds of projects that might need one, so that I can learn to use it. Left to right: spool rack, loom, Scott, Mike, and Linnea. The loom belonged to Mike's mother. Linnea is the young woman I know through Guild; she's contributed a couple of book reviews to the Guild's newsletter during the past year and a half that I've been the newsletter editor.

Now at our house, the loom awaits her unfolding, and her "first" warping. The instruction booklet for this loom advises, "Beginning weavers would do well to become familiar with their loom by putting on several short warps and weaving them off before committing themselves to a longer project." Sounds like good advice, since I've felt I've been in over my head with the warp that's been on my smaller loom for the past year . . . but that's a whole 'nother story.

Posted by Karen at 02:31 PM | Comments (1)

July 28, 2005

JULY 28, 2005

Let me introduce you to Star --
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She's an albino angora rabbit. I got to meet her in person -- er, in rabbit? -- on Monday, when I drove out to the pastoral countryside to visit rabbit herder extraordinaire, Michele Camacho. Star, by the way, comes from an impressive lineage -- her mother's name was Starmore.

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Michele holding Pachula, who's more peachy-colored. These bunnies are big. Also, soft -- petting Star was like putting my hand in a cloud.

Michele has a herd of 15 angora bunnies. She uses their fur in her custom-spun woolen blends, that she sells through her company, Toots le Blanc & Co. The bunnies range in color from white, peach, various shades of tan, and black. I interviewed Michele on Monday for an article for the Guild newsletter; Michele is a long-time Guild member and at one time served on the board as librarian. What you see in the photo on the ground behind Michele is a wire rabbit run, and throughout the afternoon different members of the herd got to play in it. Pachula escaped -- jumped right out! But was rescued, after leading Michele a merry, hopping chase around the backyard.

In other news around here:

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Stormy helped me unpack the box of books that came with my new loom. Yes, new loom! I pick up the loom this afternoon, and I'm excited! (Although I haven't quite finished clearing a space for this 40" floor loom....)

The loom is new in the sense that it's new to me -- and it is also in excellent condition, not a scratch on her, not a twisted nor a bent heddle, even though her little cherrywood self was built in 1979. She comes with a box of books from her previous owner -- and I've been treasuring these books these past two weeks while waiting to pick up the loom itself. You can see that there are some gems in here: back issues of Handwoven, the slim green volume of drafting charts that every weaver must have (but I have managed to avoid buying, prior to this). The loom and its accoutrements belonged to the mother-in-law of a woman I know through Guild; the mother-in-law passed away in January, and the family was selling the loom.

A word about Stormy, the rescue cat that I adopted from a nearby pet store: We've had her just about one year. She is very kittenish, although we don't know her exact age. She came with the name of Jewel, which she did not respond to -- I think the name was a bit of pet-rescue hype. We tried various names on her, and Stormy has been the one that stuck. More or less. Scott always calls her Zed. (I think he does this mostly to annoy me.) Recently I was remembering a Siamese that Scott and I used to have, many many years ago -- this Siamese named Fred got himself adopted by our next-door neighbors, who lavished far more attention on him than we did. They called him Freddles. So, remembering all that, I started calling our black cat Zeddles. Instantly, Scott's converted to calling her Stormy.

All for now -- gotta make room for the loom! Oh, but before I run off, here's the obligatory photo of my current knitting projects:

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In the back, a lace scarf from a 1995 issue of Piecework; I've completed the first lace repeat. At left, the sock for my sister continues.... At right, I'm restarting the Agnes sweater from Vintage Style, this time putting a hem in the bottom. Remember that the occupational therapist recommended having at least two projects going, so that you'd switch off on needles sizes? Let's see, I'm using sizes US 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Somehow, I think she had larger incremental differences in mind.

Posted by Karen at 08:51 AM | Comments (6)

July 23, 2005

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT HARRY

Last weekend, Scott went camping in the San Juan Islands, and took our eldest daughter Jennie with him. I would not go camping, because, as co-coordinator of the Lavender Festival Tour and Yarn Shop Crawl, I needed to go on that event. All week long, my youngest daughter, Allegra, kept saying that she did not want to go camping, but that she wanted to stay home with me.

What a sweet girl, I thought, she doesn't want to leave her mama by her lonesome. "But you know you'd have to go on the Guild's Lavender trip?" I wasn't willing to leave her home alone for the whole day.

Yes, yes, she always said she was willing to go. She sometimes comes to Guild with me; she sometimes knits; I thought we were in for a weekend of mother-daughter bonding.

During the week, Scott took me aside and said, "She has this expectation that you are taking her Borders Bookstore at midnight on Friday to get the new Harry Potter book."

Oh.

That's why she didn't want to go camping. All week long she'd been, like, I want to stay with you, Mama! But it wasn't about mother-daughter bonding -- it was about proximity to a bookstore. If I thought she was going to knit during the bus ride to Sequim, I'm sure she thought it was the perfect opportunity to read the new HP book. Since I was already planning to get up very early to get all the animals fed and drive to Seattle for the tour, I couldn't really see myself staying up past midnight to buy a book. Not even a Harry Potter one.

So, by week's end, Scott got on the phone with Griffin Bay Books, a shop in Friday Harbor, and reserved a copy of Half-blood Prince. Allegra, hearing this, was quite happy to bail on me and go camping with her dad, with a little detour to Friday Harbor on Saturday morning to pick up the book.

Posted by Karen at 08:46 AM | Comments (4)

July 20, 2005

MORE SHOTS FROM THE LAVENDER TRIP

This year, I took only one knitting project with me for knitting while riding the charter bus out to Sequim's lavender fields:
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I knitted the heel flap, turned the heel, and worked a few rounds of the gusset -- called that a good day's work, and felt very pleased with myself. (What you see in this photo includes additional rounds on the gusset that I've knitted since Saturday -- I finished the gusset decreases this morning!)

Have I mentioned how easy it is to follow the patterns in Betsy McCarthy's book? The directions are all laid out in a table format, and it's nearly impossible lose your place. (Unlike in some patterns where the directions are written in paragraph format.) I'm especially enjoying how the columns of slipped stitches on the leg of the sock line up -- without any fuss or effort on my part -- with the slipped stitches on the heel flap. Betsy's patterns are just that well written.

The yarn I'm using is Shepherd Sock -- and my favorite DPNs, of course!

But, back to the Guild's Lavender Festival Tour and Yarn Shop Crawl:

Our first stop in Sequim was at A Mingled Yarn, a new shop. The owner, Carolyn Cooper, came out to the bus to greet us, and every minute we were there she treated us to fabulous hospitality. She served us lemon pound cake with fresh blueberries, coffee, tea, cider, bottled water. And, to top it all off, there was birthday cake. Yes, one of Carolyn's staff was celebrating that day, as was the occupational therapist, Theresa Bockman, who was there to give us a special class on hand care.

Theresa Bockman is not only an occupational therapist, but a knitter as well, and her mission was to teach us to take care of ourselves so that we could continue knitting on into our nineties. Her recommendations included tips like:

Knit under good lighting. ("Black yarn is not meant for knitting! If you must knit with it, do it on a sunny day near a window.")

Take a rest break -- every hour, if you're a younger knitter; if "you're at an age where you're getting kind of creaky," take a break every 30 - 45 minutes. Theresa demonstrated some stretches for the back, some shoulder rolls, and how to massage our forearms and hands -- all things to do during that rest break.

Along the same lines as having a rest break was her recommendation to switch projects. "You want to have more than one project going," she said. "Knit your socks on those little tiny two's for an hour, then take a break, and come back to knitting a different project with larger needles." (I always knew I wanted to have more than one project going at a time -- but now I know that it's not about yarn lust, but it's actually therapeutic!)

And, for those power knitters who want to make everyone a Christmas gift, Theresa had this advice: "If you haven't already chosen the project, knitted it, wrapped it, and have it put away -- it's too late in the year to start! Give 'em a gift certificate with a little bit of the yarn attached to it so that they can enjoy the color and the fiber. That way you don't make yourself crazy and you don't knit yourself into a tendonitis. And they'll enjoy it [their finished gift] just as much."

Sorry I don't have a picture of Theresa to share with you, but I do have this picture of shop owner Carolyn (at top left), helping Edna to find a pattern:

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Carolyn's hospitality ran even to supplying each of us with a darling paper sack that had tucked inside some flyers about the Lavender Festival, as well as some cookies and an energy bar. Clearly, she wanted to keep us well-fed! One of our members brought her six-year-old daughter, Kai, who was delighted at being given the major responsibility of handing out these goodie bags to each of us as we left the store:

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Happily, Kai hands a goodie bag to Ana.

Our next stop was the Lost Mountain Lavender farm, which had this cool little garden of a zillion lavender varieties. Notice how lavender comes in more shades than just purple:

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There are blue, pink, and even white varieties of lavender. At each farm, there's a gift shop as well as outside tents where vendors sell handicrafts. Also, there's a food booth at each farm, run by a local restaurant.

Next, we stopped at Angel Farm, where the local 4-H-ers had two stalls of alpacas on view, and one of the vendors was selling alpaca yarn. Our final farm was the Jardin du Soleil:

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Guild President Wendi Lewis and her son enjoy the open lavender field.

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At Jardin du Soleil, one of the vendors, Gaye, sells handcrafted jewelry at her booth, Natural Jewels. Last year, I saw a black stone necklace that I really liked at her booth; I didn't buy it, though -- and regretted it all year. So this year I was made a beeline for her booth the instant I got off the bus, and immediately snatched up this beauty:

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which I think is even more beautiful than the one I passed up last year. Gaye called these stones Botswana agates, and they are intermixed with black stone beads.

I also bought a Lavender Festival T-shirt, and a bottle of lavender liquid hand soap from the Townsend Bay Soap Company.

Then, one last stop to shop before we got on the ferry headed back to Seattle -- and this was at the store Wild'n Wooly in Poulsbo. We were served lemonade and chocolate candies while we browsed, and owner Caroline Perisho treated us to a raffle. I didn't win a prize, but many others in our party did -- and the goodies ranged from bath soaps and candies, novelty yarns, and knitting books -- all items that the shop carries.

All in all, a successful trip. I was pleased with all that I accomplished on my sock -- even if it might have been more therapeutic for my hands to have brought a second project on larger needles. And I was pleased also with the chance to spend a good chunk of time talking and knitting with other Guild members. For some, this was their first-ever Guild event; I hope they'll feel up to attending a Guild meeting next.

Posted by Karen at 05:40 PM | Comments (4)

July 19, 2005

BUT, I DIGRESS....

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Ryan bowled us over at Feral Knitters last night with her nearly-finished, size 11, bright gold sock. (Left to right: June, Devorah, Ryan.)

Posted by Karen at 10:05 AM | Comments (1)

July 18, 2005

LAVENDER

Sequim lived up to its reputation as the Banana Belt of Washington state on Saturday. The weather was drizzly when I left my house in Kent that morning; the drizzle changed to overcast by the time I arrived in Seattle. But look at these blue skies and purple fields that greeted us at Jardin du Soleil lavender farm in Sequim:

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That's Diana, who co-coordinated our Guild's tour of the Lavender Festival and Yarn Shop Crawl with me. Diana serves as membership chair and newsletter distributor for Guild.

Posted by Karen at 08:02 AM | Comments (2)

July 14, 2005

KNITS WELL WITH OTHERS

Last Monday night the Feral Knitters group met. We've been kicking around ideas for a possible group project for a knitalong. Naturally, it would have to be Fair Isle! Some members of the group have really wanted the pattern for this project, whatever it is, to be a free one. There are some in the camp that favors choosing something small (like a tam); I think they want to make sure that if they participate in a group project, that they'll be able to finish it without fear of steeking, or suffering from gauge issues. Then there's the whole other camp that wants to go whole hog and knit a sweater -- or, at least, a vest.

Monday night we arrived at what I hope will be a happy medium: the Floral Fair Isle Gloves that are the current web project on the Interweave site. Yes, 8 fingers and 2 thumbs might be fiddly, but -- one can always turn these into mittens. (The Ferals have another project going, too, but I'll write about that in a different post on another day.)

I spent Tuesday studying Spindrift colors. Here are some I considered for those gloves:
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Although the pattern shows a light blue-green as the main color and blues for the contrast on the cuff, you can see that I could not resist tweaking these toward a stronger green and some purples. I love purple and green together.

Wednesday I was helping one of my customers choose some Yorkshire Tweed 4-ply colors for a mitten project she wanted to knit. (Sheer coincidence -- her mittens are totally unrelated to the Ferals group project.) And I was looking over those Yorkshire Tweed colors, going, Hmmm . . . Check out this green and these blues:

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Top to bottom, these are Oceanic, Knight, and Graze. Definitely, these are my choice for the gloves. I always get so energized, planning new projects!

My main task for today was to pick up the admission badges for our Guild's tour of the Lavender Festival and Yarn Shop Crawl, coming up this Saturday. These badges are so pretty, they must be collector's items. (Each year the design is different -- if two a collection makes, I'm already a collector, since this year's badge will join last year's.)

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Saturday's tour will involve a long -- yet comfortable -- ride on a chartered bus over to Sequim and back. This equals loads of knitting time. Hmmm . . . which project shall I take?



Posted by Karen at 08:56 PM | Comments (1)

July 12, 2005

LAVENDER AHEAD!

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This photo shows one of the lavender starts that I bought during last year's Lavender Festival Tour and Yarn Shop Crawl. A start? It's now a full-blooming, albeit adolescent-sized, plant. I can't remember the exact name of the breed, but this was something like lavender Grossa, the big blue lavender. Starts were 4 for $5, and I bought a set of 4 last year. This one, as you can see, is doing well in a spot right outside of my kitchen door that gets lots of sun. (The other three lavender starts haven't done quite this well . . . but don't tattle to Plant Amnesty! I think I've gotten my $5 worth of pleasure from this little guy. The lavender plant you see in the background was one already growing here when we moved in about a year and a half ago.)

Yes, it was only a short year ago that fellow Guild board member Diana and I were coordinating the Lavender Festival tour last year for the Guild. And this year's tour is coming right up: this Saturday, July 16! Diana and I are again coordinating a tour of three lavender farms in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, as well as stops at two yarn shops on the Olympic Peninsula. (And, since we can't get enough yarn, let me also add that one of the farms that we'll tour is Angel Farm, where there will be a vendor's booth selling alpaca yarn and alpaca goodies.)

If you're wondering what the connection is between lavender and knitters, let me remind you that lavender is favored by knitters as a natural moth repellent.

Last year, in addition to the aforementioned lavender starts, I bought lavender soap, sampled lavender-infused champagne and ice cream, bought some handpainted yarn at one of the shops, and a pattern at the other. I spent the bus ride visiting with knitters and also knitted many, many rows on the Bronte scarf that was my project at that time.

Seats on our motor coach are still available for this year's tour, so if you are a knitter in the greater Seattle area and interested in spending a day among fellow knitters, knitting away, touring yarn shops, seeing gorgeous purple fields, tasting foods made with culinary lavender, and smelling every kind of lavender soap and potion imaginable, contact me!

In other knitting news, I'm working on the socks for my recently-departed sister (that is, she's recently left her status as houseguest chez Campbell to travel to her new home in Arizona):
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She's modeling it, here, before she went on her road trip. The sock is somewhat longer, now, and I'm on the verge of knitting the heel flap. My sister chose the colors, which have an Arizona-esque feel, don't you think? The pattern is from Betsy McCarthy's book Knit Socks! The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the color Cedar for the cuff, and Gold Hill for the main portion. Gold Hill is an exceptionally popular color, and sells out as quickly as I get it in.

Still, there are plenty of other great colors to choose from, including the new-to-Two-Swans colors Cool and Motherlode. This yarn makes a very comfortable sock!

Posted by Karen at 09:39 PM | Comments (3)