Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I've Been Tagged.....

Just before I left for Washington last week, two of the blogs I regularly read (Yarnhog and Knottykitty) let me know I have been "tagged". This strikes me as somewhat amusing because I can say with absolute certainty that I have always tossed any chain letter I have ever received into the trash, thus depriving myself of untold riches, boundless good luck, health and other assorted sundry promises. But in the spirit of blogging I decided to play. So here are my eight random facts:

  1. I am a licensed pilot rated for both hot air balloons and single engine planes. My first hot air balloon was a purple, blue and white Raven RX-6 named Skybird. I continue to like that color combination and use it frequently in my knitting.
  2. My husband and I have been together for nearly sixteen years. I met him when he arrested my client in the courtroom on an outstanding warrant (Dan was working as a bailiff in the Family Law Department at the time). He doesn't fully understand my huge collection of books and/or yarn stash but has managed to learn to quit looking surprised when he discovers yarn stash in unusual areas in our house, such as in the book shelf, in the pantry, in the hall closet, under the bed......
  3. I am a published author and have had stories appear in Guideposts Magazine and Reader's Digest.

  4. I have owned Schipperkes (a breed of dog) continuously for the past 35 years. Quite a few have became champions in confirmation shows.
  5. I am over six feet tall. For those that are wondering, I am about five inches taller than Dan.
  6. I like to ride horses and have owned a rather cantankerous American Quarter Horse named Dallas for the past 14 years.
  7. Both my husband and I have ham radio licenses.
  8. I like power boating. Dan and I have a 30 foot Sea Ray Cabin Cruiser named Blue Moose. Two years ago my son's Cub Scout Pack decorated the boat and our truck and entered it in the Clovis Children's Light Parade. Otherwise, we take the boat to the California Delta and stay on board for up to seven days. Unfortunately, the recent huge spike in gasoline prices has curtailed much of our boating this year.

I have checked nearly every blog that I read and this "Eight Random Things" tag seems to have spread like wildfire. As a result, every blog I frequent has already posted their random facts and it seems unfair to tag someone I haven't read on a regular basis. If you haven't played, and want to be tagged, post a comment requesting that I tag you and I will be more than happy to oblige.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Remembering All Who Have Served In The Armed Forces

(Taken by by son, Kenny, then aged 9, of the flag flying above the sunken Battleship "Arizona". )

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Endless Afghan - The Sixth Square

The sixth square I chose to knit was designed by Suzanne Atkinson. Since this was Memorial Day weekend, I thought the church and tree were fitting.
This is a close up of the tree.
And here is a close up of the church. I really liked this design and the final result.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Prom Night!

It seems like only yesterday that Justin thought girls were gross. Now my young man on his way to the senior prom!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Secret Pal 10 and Other Packages

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I discovered two packages on my desk when I got home from Washington.

The first package contained 4 skeins of beautiful hand-dyed yarn I had ordered from Yvonne at Lavender Sheep Fibers. I am currently designing a fair isle pattern for an afghan featuring a wisteria arbor in full bloom.

I want a yarn that has subtle changes in color to give the blossoms more depth. The yarn Yvonne sent me is 100% Merino. It is called "Sugar Plum Fairy" and is everything I wanted.

I also received my first package from my Secret Pal 10. The first surprise was the postmark. It was from Minneapolis, Minnesota. In one of those strange twists, my mother was born in Minneapolis and a number of my extended family members still reside in that part of the country. My Secret Pal had wrapped the various items in tissue paper.
Inside was the following:

  1. A great postcard featuring chocolate cake and a note from my pal. Chocolate cake is somewhat of a joke around my home because one of my son, Kenny's favorite comedy routines is Bill Cosby's "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast".

  2. Two skeins of lovely green sock weight yarn. The color is perfect for some of the leaves in the aforementioned wisteria pattern.
  3. A Godiva dark chocolate bar;

  4. A package of Godiva dark Chocolate almonds;

  5. A package of stitch holders;

  6. A package of stitch markers;

  7. A cute, little wooden crochet hook;

  8. A row counter;

  9. A skein of luscious green, blue and hunter green yarn; and

  10. A felted sheep!

Kenny spotted the felted sheep and immediately ran to his room and retrieved his felted Teddy Bear. After putting the two together, he wholeheartedly approved of the choice by my secret pal.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Endless Afghan - The Fifth Square

I have finally had the opportunity to work on some knitting. And because it has been one week since I posted my progress on the The Great American Aran Afghan, I decided to work on a square designed by Barbara Selesnick.
This design features two vertical rows of cables which resemble hearts, as well as some open work crossed cables on the edges. This square was fairly easy and quick to knit.

This square knitted up slightly smaller on the recommended needle size so I traded up .5 mm and it came out exactly on gauge. After inserting the blocking wires, I steamed it to set the stitches. Here is the closeup of the finished square.

I took these pictures and downloaded to my flashdrive before work this morning. When I got to my office, I found two packages waiting for me --- one from my Secret Pal 10 and one from Lavender Sheep Fibers. I didn't have my camera with me at work and I was due in court so will post about the packages tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Give a Man a Chainsaw...

Thursday morning we arrived in Washington State. I imagined four days of quiet knitting and spinning. It got off to a good start.

When we pulled into the driveway, this little doe was grazing in the front yard. We also saw a Bald Eagle flying overhead but it was too far away to get a good picture.

I went to the Allyn Knit Shop and found new sock yarn.

Can you tell that I like the color blue?

But when I returned home from the knit shop, I immediately heard the buzz of a chainsaw. There, out in the overgrowth, was my husband. I had given him a chainsaw for his birthday last June (it was on his wish list!) and he had decided that this weekend was the perfect time to attack 30 years of dead fall and forest litter on the far third of our property.

The area in which we live in Washington was logged about 30 years ago. The logging company left the stumps and dead fall that was not worth their time, then sold the acreage. It was later subdivided and parcels were sold. The original owners of our property cleared the area closest to the home, but left the remaining forest alone. As you can see from this "before" picture, the growth was substantial. In fact, it was nearly impossible to walk more than 15 feet in the jumble of stumps, branches, ferns and huckleberry bushes.
Dan cut and I hauled out. It was a long, hard job and certainly not the weekend of knitting and spinning I had envisioned.
Slowly, the ground began to emerge.And I discovered some of the forest creatures that inhabit the undergrowth. This is an Olympic Torrent Salamander
This is one of the famous Washington State Banana Slugs. I put a knitter's gauge next to it so you can see it really is 6 inches long! Sometimes they are bright yellow, sometimes dark olive colored and sometime they come spotted like a pinto pony!

By late Saturday afternoon the rains had moved into our area and it was time to pack up and close up the house. But, as you can see from the above "after" picture, there is a substantial dent made. Dan says we will work on it some more this summer.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to knitting on the plane home.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Back to Washington

Tomorrow morning Dan and I will head back up to Washington for a week. Which means I have a big decision to make.......

What project will I take with me on the plane?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Endless Afghan - The Fourth Square

It happened without warning. One minute I was happily knitting on The Great American Afghan. I had turned the pages often enough to know every square. I'd read and re-read the various directions and had developed an easy familiarity with the patterns. In short, we were growing comfortable with each other.
It was a chance encounter. I was lingering near the book rack at Janna's Needle Arts when I spotted it. Another afghan book with a similar name. Intrigued, I casually picked it up and gave it a quick once-over. There, under the heading of "pattern 5" was this....this square. It was designed by Jacqueline Jewett. There were no words to describe it. The directions stated it was knit on two straight needles --- yet the pattern looked as though it was knit in the round. In short, it was unlike anything my other book brought into our relationship. Well, there was no harm in purchasing The Great American Afghan, was there? Maybe I could knit a few pillow covers later on.
Dan saw my purchase and raised an eyebrow. Wisely, he said nothing. I figured I could put the book in my bookshelf and take it out occasionally. No such luck. This new book wanted attention! Then, in a moment of weakness, I rethought my idea of knitting two sets of squares from The Great American Aran Afghan. Without carefully considering the long-term consequences, I decided that my 40 squares would all be different. Little did I know that this new square had sadistic qualities cleverly masquerading as bobbles. And not just any bobbles either. These bobbles required lots of turns to be satisfied. And the pattern was greedy. It seemed that no sooner had I completed one bobble that the pattern called for another!
The square knitted up slowly, openly defying me as I pushed toward my goal of completion by Mother's Day. I refused to let this bit of fluff get the best of me and was finally able to join the completed edge late Sunday evening. I was too tired to block it until Monday.
I'm back with The Great American Aran Afghan. Only time will tell if it has forgiven me.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ferry Tales - Final Round

In March of 2007, I was on my way to The Weaver's School but had a few difficulties with the ferry crossings. When the ferry was delayed until 11:15 a.m. on March 20, I gave up and drove to the Kingston rather than wait (I wrote about it in my March 20th posting.)
This afternoon Alice, our mail lady, brought me a large white envelope from Madelyn Van der Hoogt! Inside I found a lovely note and a copy of The South Whidbey Record, a local newspaper printed on Whidbey Island. Madelyn wrote "Page A-5" on the left right had corner of the front page. I turned to page A-5 and discovered a header which read "Ferry Passengers Recall Rocky Ride". The story was written by Gayle Saran and recounted the 11:15 a.m. crossing (the one I would have been on had I not headed to Kingston).
Here are some excerpts from the story:
"Passengers traveling aboard the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island got more of a ride than they bargained for when a big wave swept over the deck. No one was injured in the incident, but several cars were damaged when they slammed into one another because of the wave. The ferry Klickitat was between Port Townsend and Keystone when high winds and rough seas created the powerful surge. One man who was in his van during the incident thought the ferry was going to sink. “I was more scared than I have ever been before, and I served in the Marine Corps,” said Ralph Magdaleno of Port Orchard.
"It started to get really windy and choppy out in the water, and I was really nervous about 15 minutes into the trip,” he said. Magdaleno said his van was damaged when it was pushed into the car in front of him, and a car behind him was pushed under his bumper. "

Mr. Magdaleno took a photograph of the cars after they had slid into each other. “There were 40 knot winds during the noon crossing,” said Susan Huether Harris, spokeswoman for Washington State Ferries. “The wave was estimated to be 6 to 10 feet high,” she said. Magdaleno, who was sitting in his Chrysler Voyager, said the water was up to his van’s side window. “I suddenly felt a jolt and heard a big thump, and my van was moved two feet forward and into the truck in front of me,” he said. “I started to panic because I thought that the ship was going down. A few seconds later the water started to recede,” he said. Magdaleno said there was a second surge that soaked the inside of his van with a foot of water. “Then I started to get out of my van and the tires on the loaded logging truck beside me started screeching, and the truck was leaning toward me. It looked like it was about to tip over and land on my van,” he said.

Once ferry workers untangled the cars he was able to drive off the ferry. A Langley woman was not so fortunate. Terri Ash was on the last leg of a 4,000-mile journey when the surge of water swept over the deck. “I had just been down to my car to grab a warmer jacket so I could stand outside on the deck and watch the swells in the water. I just made it upstairs when the wave hit,” she said. The power of the water pushed her Ford Focus partially under a loaded logging truck. “My hood was dented and the protective coating that protects the catalytic converter was totally ripped off,” she said. Magdaleno said he was amazed at the amount of damage. “About six vehicles and the logging truck seemed to have damage to them,” he said.

Well, as Madelyn wrote, it was apparently my lucky day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Endless Afghan - The Third Square

I only have to complete the neck band of the Sublime vest. Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn. I know I purchased an extra skein of the same dye lot but I have a bad feeling it is in Washington (I took the vest with me in March). It certainly isn't here. I'll look for it next week when I head back to the Pacific Northwest. Since I couldn't work on the vest, I decided to go back to the afghan. Here is the third square I have completed. This square was designed by Hanna Burns. The design includes a fairly intricate cable in the center of the square. I had pay close attention when crossing the cables to avoid a mistake. To the left and right of the center cable are opposing spirals. Kenny watched as I was knitting this square and told me it looked like twin DNA strands. I looked at the design again, and you know, I can see the resemblance. Now I am going to think of that every time I look at it. Oh well, at least he is paying attention in science. This square did not not knit up at the correct gauge initially so I switched to larger needles and tried again. It was better the second time but it still ended up considerably shorter than the other squares. I had to recalculate the length and add rows to make it work. Despite adding additional rows, I still had block it carefully to ease it to the correct dimensions.
Three down, thirty seven to go................

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Happy 75th Birthday, Dad!

Wishing a wonderful 75th birthday to my Dad!

Monday, May 7, 2007

The First Harvest

The first fruits (tomatoes are a fruit, right?) of the garden have been harvested! However, it was not exactly as I planned. I have been watching the garden with great anticipation. Last night, I planned to fix a dinner salad with fresh picked lettuce and the 20 or so cherry tomatoes that had ripened. Imagine my surprise when I went out to the garden and couldn't locate a single red tomato! As I peered into my plants looking for the missing 'maters, Kenny, my 11 year old son, called out excitedly. "Hey Mom", he yelled "You gotta see this..........."

".........Toka likes tomatoes!"

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Endless Afghan - The Second Square

The Endless Afghan is progressing! This is the second square of the Great American Aran Afghan which is now on the blocking board. The square was designed by Ann McCauley. It consists of a cherry and stem pattern in the center and opposing cables and bobbles on the sides. This main feature of this square is all those bobbles.
During the knitting of this square, I was very concerned that it was going to be too long and too narrow. However, the blocking appears to have amended that problem.
Here is a close up view of the bobbles and the cables.
The garden is also progressing and has nearly doubled in height in the past week.

We have strawberries.

The grapes are beginning to show. These are seedless Flame grapes.

The corn stalks are now about 4 feet high and the tassels are developing inside the top of the stalks. Although hard to see, there are potato plants in front of the corn. They are nearly two feet tall now and should be developing potatoes. To the right of the corn are our yellow squash plants. We had the first taste of the squash for dinner last night. If only the afghan was growing as fast as the garden!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

FO Show

My Saturday morning knitting group was awash in FO's today. Thelma has been working for months on a baby blanket which features the alphabet. She choose a beautiful hazy purple yarn rather than a traditional blue or pink. The finished result speaks for itself.
The pattern is the entire alphabet. The letters are formed by knitted lace. This blanket is knitted in one piece. It is not made up of individual squares. Therefore, the knitter has to be careful across the entire row.
The close up at the left shows some of the detail of the blocks. (It was taken before the blanket was blocked).
Once the center portion of the blanket was completed, Thelma added lace edging around the entire circumference.
This is not a project for a beginning knitter. Thelma said that it was somewhat difficult to keep track of the pattern. In addition, mistakes were often not readily apparent until several rows had been knitted, necessitating frogging and reknitting. However, the finished result was worth the time and effort.
Thelma was all smiles as she completed mattress stitching the edging together.
Marie will be traveling to Holland on Thursday to visit family. She has been hard at work over that past several weeks knitting and felting these coin purses to give to her family members.
Vi is all smiles as she models the sweater from the cover of Sublime Yarns pattern book number 602.
We also have a sweater from the same book that is being shown by the shop dog, Scooter. Scooter is a dark grey cock-a-poo sitting in the chair next to the finished sweater. Unfortunately, he is nearly impossible to see in the photo but trust me, he is very cute.

I have just started blocking the next piece of the afghan. I should be able to post a photograph tomorrow.