Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pink & Blue Sky & Yarn

Sometimes, beauty shows up suddenly.

You gotta be ready not to miss it.

You have to be there and look up just at the right time.

You have to show appreciation right away because the opportunity might not last.


The sky outside my window tonight was so inviting that I had to run out to the deck to see it closer and snap its photo.

Good thing I went at once. A minute later, it was gone.

Isn't it beautiful? Reminds me of this sweet handspun 2-ply yarn I just bought from The Spun Monkey on Etsy. Glad I bought it. Great stuff like this goes fast!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sawtooth Neckwarmer

Here, unblocked, is what that grey knitting became:

I thought it was going to be a scarf, but my knitting takes on a life of its own some times. How about those buttons? They were from deep in the stash. Some Fimo buttons I made about eight years ago and forgot I had. Cool!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grey Matters

The skies have been grey, it's been raining a bunch, and it's dark by 3 p.m. To add to it all, I've been feeling puny, and have wanted to just stay in bed to rest. It's been hard to get motivated.

Lago Grey by cimere

It's all made me feel blue and exhausted, but like this iceberg, my mood is experiencing a thaw and the feeling of doom is breaking up.

Usually if I just embrace the greyness and drink it in, some inspiration surfaces from the deep.

drinking a grey world by J. Weissmahr

Spots of color appear with grace in the greyness.

Gold and Grey_7-8-08 by jimbrickett

Hearing from friends adds to the brightness . . .

Outreach by Dark Guru

and work begins again:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Knit by Train!

"I’m goin’ on the Yarn Train,
To Portland City…
Gonna buy some yarn there,
To make somethin’ pretty… "
-from the Yarn Train Song by Katie, theknittingmama

Tomorrow has an adventure that is a Northwest knitter's dream come true: a magical yarn crawl that starts in Seattle, Washington, and arrives in Portland, Oregon, by Amtrak train.

No boss. No kids. Just you and over 125 like-minded knitters with three blissful hours to knit, chat, and mingle while viewing gorgeous Northwest landscape outside your window. What heaven!

Wait, it gets even better:

Upon arrival in in the Rose City train station you are greeted by Portland knitters bearing Voodoo Doughnuts and love. If you're in the know you will have pre-ordered a Voodoo Maple Bacon Bar to eat when you arrive.

You first gather in the station to see if you've won a doorprize and then you're off to explore Portland's Pearl District with lots of yarn shops, restaurants, Whole Foods, and Powell's City of Books. There are three yarn stores in the Pearl District and two easily accessible-by-bus yarn stores just across the river.

While in Portland you can be on your own or with a group from the train. You can even have a Portland knitter join your group to show you around. There will have been some Portland knitters who traveled to Seattle just to take the train with you to their fair city. They will have special name tags so you will know who they are.

Shop 'til you drop but don't forget to head back to the station 'cause the train heads back to Seattle at 6:15 sharp. Knit your way back to Seattle with a 9:45 arrival.

The Snohomish Knitters Guild has put up an informative page that has a Pearl District walking map with yarn stores marked. There's even a You Tube video with Katie's ukulele yarn train song.

If you are a Portland knitter and have the time tomorrow, go greet the yarn train around 11 a.m. at Union Station.

No matter where you live, maybe next year you'll want to fly to Seattle to take the train to Portland. Knit on!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Comforting with Neckwarmers

After the spinning marathon, the neckwarmer knitting began.

These V-neckwarmers are fun to make because I really enjoy the rhythm of the stitch pattern. It's one in which I alternate between Eastern and Western styles of wrapping the yarn to create the lacy textured rib, and it gives me an almost meditative feeling of peace. I hope that a little of this peaceful feeling travels with each neckwarmer when it goes to its new owner and gets wrapped around her neck.

The grey neckwarmer is already in the store. The cream one is reserved for a wonderful repeat customer. The variegated cranberry one will be listed this weekend, the mulberry one (yarn pictured in the next photo) is in progress, and more colors are soon to be selected. If you have a color you'd like, let me know.

I've decided to focus this neckwarmer knitting time to positive thoughts for the victims of the Haiti Earthquake. And for positive action, I have decided to donate to Doctors Without Borders for Haiti Earthquake Relief. There will also be a button here at the top of my blog sidebar during January and February so that you can also donate to them if you like.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Spinning Goals for a New Year

January 1, the first thing I did after returning home from a New Year's Eve dance was to print out my Etsy inventory reports. The second thing was to head to bed. The next day I worked only a little on inventory costing and didn't even think about resolutions.

I'm still working on completing my inventory costing, but working on my bookkeeping always makes me a grouch so I've been playing instead. Playtime has consisted of fiber, my spinning wheel, and my ongoing resolution to spin fiber of a size like the last skein on the right.

In the photo above, the five skeins on the left are mine, and the last skein is River Twist in the Pine Creek colorway from Mountain Colors. You see the yarn in the order that I spun the skeins from left to right.

It is my goal to spin yarn of a consistent size that is the weight of the Mountain Colors yarn. It's between worsted and DK weight and it's beautiful. The Mountain Colors skein has been in my stash for several years and I refuse to use it until I can spin something similar. It is my goal skein. It is idolized and kept in a place of prominence in the studio.

These first two skeins are going to be for items for me. Both are bulky weight 2-ply yarns. The pretty one on the left is 8 ounces of rich red glory somewhere between garnet and rust. It's going to be a scarf. The wonderful 4-ounce skein of multi-colored jewels tones is destined to become a slouchy beret.

These two skeins are thinner. The pretty spring green multi-colored yarn goes from a bulky weight to a DK weight. (Achieving consistency is another goal.) The yummy peachy-orange skein is more consistently spun at a worsted weight. Both of these skeins will be for late winter/early spring scarves for sale on Etsy.

Next up is a yarn from Merino top that spun like butter. Notice that I am getting better at photographing reds.

This yarn is very close to my goal. It's not consistent yet, but it's getting very close. There are 185 yards here from 3.75 ounces of fiber--my thinnest spin yet! It's going to be a special Valentine's scarf for the Etsy shop.

Once this spinning goal is reached, I plan to purposely spin some skeins of bulky weight again so my fingers remember how to do it. The next spinning goal for this year will be to learn how to spin worsted weight singles.

There are no plans in the works to spin thin yarn. There is way too much wonderful sock and lace weight fiber on the market already and I don't have the time nor inclination to make my own.

Here are my first beauties of the yarn year. I love to look at them and pet them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

L.A. Fashion

It was our first trip to L.A. and yours truly packed all the wrong things.

In my little pea brain, I was thinking that since we would be staying right by the beach, I should take a quantity of casual beach clothes like we might wear here in Oregon and some sandals--both beach and dress types. Also some khaki cargo pants and a pair of tennis shoes for walking around. One dress outfit for going dancing and one dressy pair of back pants.

I imagined it would be a balmy 70 degrees and packed accordingly, but I did take a bulky Oregon casual coat for our planned arrival back here at midnight.

No one told me about the SoCal dress code, and I should have studied the weather report more closely.

The first afternoon and evening we spent exploring Santa Monica. I don't think it was much above 60 degrees in the afternoon and not quite 50 after sunset. It was jacket weather, for sure; however, if you looked at the Santa Monica shoppers on the 3rd Street Promenade, you'd swear it was a mere 20 degrees outside.

The 3rd Street Promenade was lots of fun. Great shops. Hustle and bustle. There were Christmas shoppers hopping around toting packages galore.

All the women dressed pretty much alike. At least the women under thirty-five. (It didn't look like anyone much over forty was allowed to be seen on the street--at least not looking like they were over forty.)

Here's the current look for Santa Monica winter:
  • Boots are the most important winter accessory. Calf or knee high, worn tucked into the next item.
  • Skin tight black leggings or dark jeans on ultra thin legs.
  • A shorty jacket, preferably an expensive one.
  • A flirty scarf.
  • Long (mid-back length) layered hair, blowing free and usually not covered by a hat.
  • Sunglasses, even when there is no sun. (Take them off an hour after sunset.)
The next evening while waiting in a movie theater lobby, I noticed the same fashion again and pointed it out to Mr. ChaCha. He started paying attention to the crowd and marveled with me that everyone was so chic but had such skinny legs.

Even more fun was shopping on Melrose Avenue. The styles were more funky and eclectic with a mix of young designer boutiques and vintage/resale stores. Some fun things were purchased to be crammed into my suitcase for the trip back to Oregon.

I wanted this hat, but the store was closed.

The store next door was also closed but had a great blouse. Can't you just picture it with the hat and a long pair of champagne-colored silk pants?

The silhouette for dresses, based on the fashion window displays, was exclusively a sheath style. The other non-pants look was pencil mini skirts with leggings or tights and lots of layering.

I didn't photograph that much fashion on this trip, but here are a few more photos. The next one is from a display done all in gold hues.

The next is a glimpse into a California boutique:

The last photo is for a dear perimenopausal friend who is craving hooker heels as part of her mid-life crisis. I guess these shoes are what you wear when not wearing boots in LA.

Before the next excursion to LA, some preplanning will be in order. First off, three months of Pilates classes to tone the legs. Then a trip to the hairdresser for a new do, and a facial to perk up the complexion.

Then I'll need to order some clothes from this great Santa Monica boutique, LF, where the young sales clerk was totally friendly even though I probably looked like one of the Clampetts to her. I commented on the great selection of clothes and boots in the store. She told me that they carry boots year round. She herself wears her boots in the summer with her dresses.

I told her of the irony that in Northern cold-weather cities, where boots are really needed, you can hardly find a pair in the stores after February or March.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Losing is Winning

Okay, so the Ducks lost. It won't be the last time. A loss is an opportunity to learn and grow. At least that's what I always tell myself when disappointment comes. In any pile of you-know-what, I always try to look for the pony.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Go Ducks!

It's Rose Bowl halftime, so I thought I'd stop by the blog to wish you all a Happy New Year!

When we were in Pasadena, there was a lot of energy in the air. All the bleachers were set up for the parade, and booths selling Ducks gears were set up everywhere. It was exciting.

Too bad we made our travel plans before we knew that Oregon would be in the Rose Bowl! Oh well, I hate big crowds so it's probably okay. Even here in Portland I prefer watching our own Rose Parade on television to actually seeing it live, so watching the Paradena Rose parade and the game on TV is really fine.

The Ducks are behind right now, but we have faith they can win.

Go Ducks!

Happy New Year!