Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My very cool husband...

...made me a way cool frame...

 finish my first woven scarf.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A few more pictures from Tacoma

Both Dianne and I had our cool little cameras with us, but you'd never know given the number of pictures we took.

Another picture taken at Over the Moon on Saturday.

Barbara, Dianne's early morning walking partner.

Dianne's first sock.

Waiting for that last class.

Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat

Dianne and I attended our first Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat over the weekend, and we're already looking forward to next year. It was weekend of classes and knitting, dining and a little shopping.

There were the Classes (after all, that's what it was all about)

A Stick and a Handful of Stones
I settled at a table with Yvonne, who was at the retreat to take the one class from Judith MacKenzie McCuin. Point of fact, the majority of the class were "groupies" and several were taking just the one class. Judith's goal was to get everyone to become weavers. After I signed up for the two-day class, I worried that it would too much—especially since I'd only ever woven the obligatory kindergarten pot holder, but it was exactly the opposite. Judith started with a history of weaving, set her goal—to convert everyone, especially knitters, to weaving, then got us started. We started by making weights with aquarium gravel, plastic wrap and yarn, then set to weaving. I wish I'd gotten pictures of other works in progress, but took a couple only of my own.

At the end of class, Yvonne, who was weaving with her own spun yarn, gifted me with a ball of her yarn. Lovely.

Stripes and Stripes that Aren’t
I can't say exactly how many classes I've taken from Sally Melville over the years, but I've taken more than a few. Sally likes stripes and taught us about matching (and not), color and contrast and a few skills (weaving the yarn in and weavers knot—both of which I learned in earlier classes with her.) But she really likes "stripes that aren't"—knitting in stripes, but adding a pattern or element that makes them appear to be something else—like slip stitch or modular knitting. And she showed us beautiful examples, most of which are in her Styles and Color books. Although, I was already familiar with the skills and patterns covered, Sally is an excellent and personable instructor, so it was all good.

Oh, and the really cool thing is that Sally complimented me on the Warm Orenburg lace shawl I knit last year.

Using your Stash
Sunday morning was spent with Ginger Luters. In retrospect, if I'd really read the class description, I probably wouldn't have taken it. Ginger was personable and her sense of color is great (she has a degree in fine arts), but the class seemed to lack focus. It was all about swatching, but I didn't come away with any specifics on what we were trying to accomplish with all but one of the swatch examples. The one was use of the three-needle bind off to connect two pieces. I did come away with one tip—in garter, Ginger slips the last stitch (YFWD), instead of the first, then knits in the back of the stitch to create a nice edge to join,

Two Colors, Two Hands
It was the end of the weekend, we'd had a not-so-good class in the morning and I was seriously considering blowing off my last class. But once in Sally Melville's last class, it was clear that I was going to end the weekend on an "up" note. The class about learning how to hold yarns in different ways and finding the one that was most comfortable to you. We learned knitting with one yarn in each hand, two yarns in the right, two yarns in the left and purling with the yarn over your neck (documented in Sally's Purl book.)—very cool.

Additionally, Sally showed us exercises to prevent injury to neck and hands and shared some great stories, including the one about her son who was at University in a quiet room, except for the person who began swearing. He turned around to see who was knitting.

And then there was the Dining
We ate very well, though I seemed to experience small issues at every restaurant we visited.

Indochine Seafood and Satay Bar
The food was excellent and the portions large—which is where I ran into problems. Not asking, and thinking I was ordering appetizer sizes, I ordered three starters. Wrong! I finished the six shrimp and took back a plateful of tofu and 5 potstickers—which I ate for breakfast. They were also good cold.

Walking back from the food fest that was Indochine, we spied Twokoi and settled on that for the next night's dinner. If your palatte doesn't take spicy-hot foods, please avoid the Spicy Pork, even if the waitress says it's only mildly spiced. Fortunately the miso and salad were generously sized and I did make it through about half of my pork, it was a bit on the hot side for me (Dianne really enjoyed hers, though.) I figured a little dairy would help, so I order a green tea ice cream, which the waitress gave me on the house.

Over the Moon
We found out that Tacoma is a 9-5 kind of town, when we headed out for lunch on Saturday and most of the places we passed on Broadway were closed. Intrepid Dianne headed into a jewelry store to get a recommendation, and we ended up at Over the Moon, "which was good even with the new décor." And it was.

Dianne's salmon salad was beautiful and I got to sample the grilled cheese sandwich while I awaited the chicken sandwich I'd ordered. The décor was a little cheesy, but the food was good. We were joined by Lissa from Sequim, WA.

Djembe Soul
Did you know that I was raised on okra, grits, and biscuits? So when a class mate said she'd enjoyed her meal at Djembe Soul (including the sweet tea) a southern food restaurant, I wanted to go. I think because it harkened back to the basic foods I ate growing up it was my favorite meal. Though everything was fried, which usually gives me trouble the next day, I think they must have used really hot, clean oil because nothing was greasy, and I was just fine. I didn't get to enjoy my first choice of Chicken and Dumplings (no dumplings), but I did get fried okra (my friend Mark—who drove down from Seattle to join us—tried one, Dianne had a few, and I ate the rest) and pork chops, with excellent red beans and rice and candied sweet potatoes. Yum.

And finally, there was the Shopping
On our way to find a restaurant the first night we happened on BKB and Company, self-described as the "Tacoma gallery of wearable and decorative art." Very nice shop, where both Dianne and I found hats and Dianne bought a very cool paper lamp.

Then there were my yarn acquisitions:
Fancy Image Hand-dyed Yarn had some great colorways, and it was hard to decide, but I came away with these—all merino fingering. I'm always thinking lace.

Linda's Knit 'n Stitch offered 20% off any purchase, so not being one to pass up a deal, and in awe of the Koigu collection, I brought home some skeins of this unusual colorway.

RainShadow Farm had some lovely soft yarns, including the merino/silk/cashmere "Ollala."

Toots LeBlanc & Co Angora/Rambouillet called to me, so I brought it home to make their shawl pattern.

Maybe we'll see you there next year.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I really had plans to get more done before we head up to the Madrona Fiber Arts retreat, but the fiberly gods apparently had other plans.

A shirt
I was going to finish Tom's first shirt of the year. The fabric was cut before we moved (so what was my excuse for not making it earlier, I wonder), so it should have been a breeze. Hah! I think my Baby Lock ellegante has need a tune up since I got it, but yesterday, it was just being a pain. It was like a car engine misfiring, so off to the dealer it went. But, thought I, all is not lost, there's that cute little Xscape; it makes buttonholes. It did on samples, but when I put the shirt under the presser foot, it didn't seem to like the weight, so it was time to just give in and wait for the big machine.

Notice the shirt left side (or right side as you look at the picture). See the pocket? I just thought I'd point it out. I've always matched the pockets patterns and I thought I'd share my "secret." I've cut out the pattern piece in clear overhead film. I place the clear template on the shirt where the pocket goes and then use overhead markers to roughly outline the pattern. Then I find that pattern on another piece of fabric, et voilà! matching pocket. The markings can then be cleaned off with cleaner. (I tried dry erase markers, but they don't do so well on the overhead film.)

A cable shrug
I have made progress. One sleeve is attached, but somehow I just didn't seem to have the time to finish the second sleeve, so it goes with me to Tacoma. I'm going to have more knitting stuff than clothes...and that's probably how it should be.

Knitting and dogs

Cody's nose is always cold, so he has to bury it from time to time to warm up. The cable shrug seemed to be a good choice.

And speaking of dogs...
Here are two gratuitous pictures of our kids. Click here for more on their latest antics.

Meet Wing Ding, aka Dingus
In response to our annual New Year's missive, we heard from Sean Adams, who recently adopted a cute little girl Jack Russell Terrier. She's called "Wing Ding" because "Times New Roman" was just too big a name for such a cute little dog.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Shrug - or is it a Bolero?

I tend to use the terms "shrug" and "bolero" interchangeably and it turns out (at least according to, it's because fundamentally, they are the same. So I've been calling this thing I'm working on a "shrug" but VK calls it a "bolero."

In any event, it's coming along swimmingly, thanks to Judith, Royal Mail and the US Postal Service. Judith posted the yarn on Tuesday and I had it in my hot little hands on Friday. Can't beat that!

Now I wrote Judith that I thought I'd have it done this weekend, but that hasn't happened. It probably would have helped if I'd have attached the first sleeve to four pentagon sides instead of three...But never mind. I was hoping it would be done to take to Madrona Fiber Arts, but with a sleeve and a half and collar to knit AND washing (since it's wool and a bit scratchy), I'm making no promises.

It's an odd duck. I took a picture of the first seven (of eleven) pentagons. Tom was taking pictures of a radio knob and saw the picture before I did. This was his impression. He's just silly.

Date Night

It's not that Tom needs a cooking class, but he enjoys cooking and people, so when it came to deciding what to "get" Tom for Christmas, I chose a "Date Night" class at Sur La Table in Portland's Pearl District because of the menu: Roasted Fennel Soup with Pernod Cream; Dungeness Crab-stuffed Halibut, with Citrus Beurre Blanc; Artichoke and Lemon Orzo; and Grand Marnier Bread Pudding with Candied Orange Peel.

It turned out to be a great choice. Not only was the menu delish, but we prepped and cooked with some nice people—Tom and Kelly, and Matt and Jan. It was the other Tom's 40th birthday present, and like my Tom, he is the primary chef in their household, while Kelly is the baker. In contrast, Jan doesn't bake (except for boxed mixes) and Matt doesn't cook. The experience paid off because our meal looked and tasted great.

Jessica Benedetti, the chef, was an excellent teacher, along with the kitchen assistants. I think it's something we'll probably do again.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I've been tagged, too

Liana at Sew Intriguing has tagged me. What haven't I rambled on about myself?

1. I'm adopted. If you've checked out the pictures of my mom, you've probably sorted that out for yourself, but now it's been said here. I was two weeks old at the time and my parents worried because they were low on gas on a holiday, but it all worked out in the end.

2. Which brings me to: I'm an Air Force brat. Born in Formosa (better known now as Taiwan), I arrived in the U.S. at 6 months. Daddy was in the Air Force for 23 years and was retired as a Chief Master Sargent at age 40. Who knew about the cumulative affects of red meat and cholesterol (and smoking) in 1970?

3. I sang in choirs from fifth grade through high school and cannot read a lick of music. I sang second soprano and my crowning achievement in was to make the high A in the Hallejah chorus. I was also second alternate soprano in the McGregor's Beggars. Second because I can't read music, but I was cute and a senior, so this was my only chance.

4. I don't belong on a bicycle. At age 6, when learning to ride somehow I fell off and ended up in emergency with a cut between my left index and middle finger from the spokes. (I then used the scar to always tell my left from my right.) At age 21, I was riding into the sun, looked away briefly and ran into the back of a parked truck with something very sharp sticking out the back. That resulted in six days at the Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado.

5. I met Tom because I am a rotten salesperson. My second job post-Colorado State was working for a Manufacturer's Rep firm (Atari and Texas Instruments, among other esoteric things) as a computer sales person. Apple II was firmly entrenched and I was 22 without a clue. A new manager was hired and called one Sunday to was asked if I wanted to be a "merchandiser," (the unspoken words were "You're cute, but you're not making us any money.") Sure...what's a merchandiser? I was told to be at Atari, in Sunnyvale, the next day. Tom was a trainer and was coerced, cajoled, harrassed, into doing a short training session on the Telelink cartridge (if you know what that is that will really dates you.) "There's a really cute girl from DK named Patty Richards." Tom's first thought from the name was "Tall, blond, wine drinking, woman who likes cats." Boy was he wrong. We'll celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in August.

There you have it.

The rules:

  • Someone Tags you
  • You post 5 things about yourself that you haven't already mentioned on your blog
  • You tag 5 people about whom you'd like to know more

So if they're game, I'm tagging KnitnListen, readysetmom, Sharon Sews, Cat Fur Studio and Marnie Talks.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Another weather report

Yesterday morning a local weather person said, "There will be some snow tomorrow morning, but nothing to make a big deal about." Boy was she wrong. I let Cody out at 6am and it was beginning to snow. By the time we got Tom up around 8am, there was probably an inch accumulation. Turned on the television where all programming has been interrupted to cover the weather (and ensuing traffic issues.) Good thing being snowed in isn't an issue for us.

Cody is an intrepid little dog. He found a path that didn't take him up to his barrel chest in snow. Luckily his stature is only influenced by the dachshund or he'd have been dragging.

Mandy does not like the snow. She circled the patio trying to find a place where there wasn't any, then headed for the door and was rather put out when I made her stop so I could get a shot of white snow on black dog.

It is pretty, though and the snow makes great snowballs!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ah, the wonders of the internet

...and, I suspect, Google search. I have received a response to my call for the Tivoli Bainin Tweed yarn I need, so I can resume knitting Norah Gaughan's multidirectional cable shrug. I don't yet have the yarn, but have confidence that Judith, a UK knitter/yarn stasher and I will be able to broker a deal. Thanks, Judith!

Absolutely nothing fabric, yarn or dogs

Tom loves single malt whisky. I, on the other hand, never acquired the taste for anything alcohol (and when I did nurse the one sissy drink per night that one year of legal age in college, I would turn quite a lovely shade of red...but I digress.) Since 2000, there has been a Whiskies of the World Expo held in San Francisco. Tom has been attending since learning about it in 2001. I've been going along to visit Britex, and later Artfibers (okay, so I did get something fabric and yarn in...) and keep Tom company.

On most of those years we have run into a gentleman in his kilt carrying a large balloon glass for the tastings (think reallylarge brandy snifter). A few expos ago Bruce Ridley told us about his Robert Burns party at which he opened up his liquor collection (added to over the years by guests) and made haggis (which Tom also likes.) This weekend, we headed for Spokane, Washington. Bruce's house is modest, but the party was large. One of the people we met likened it to a frat party, but for grown ups and no keg. We left after four hours, but have it on good authority that a second wave arrived at midnight and the party went till well after 2am.

I will give a brief weather report, just to put things into perspective. Having spent 25 years in the Bay Area, all vestiges of ten years in Colorado were gone. I was an avowed weather wimp. 40°F and I was in several layers (though, not quite the Michelin man). I acclimated to the Oregon weather surprisingly quickly and only wear a fleece jacket (and hat) at that same 40°F. However, when it got down into the 20s here this past week, the layers were out again. As we headed east toward Spokane, the temperature dropped a few degrees, but by the time we were 20 miles outside of town the snow (hey! it was supposed to be dry!) it dropped into the teens. We started home in 5°F weather. Getting home to 36°F was positively balmy.

Sorry, couldn't resist adding something doggy. Mandy just loves the snow...well, maybe not.

On the way home, we made a brief stop in The Dalles, one of the towns where Tom grew up, and where the Hudson name is part of local history. Tom's great-grandfather, one of the original settlers in The Dalles formed Hudson Insurance, and the company still bears the name, though Tom's dad left the business in 1968.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Even more yarn

Shine Sport
My mom loves clothes and there was a day when I knew exactly what she'd like. In fact, at Christmas she reminded me that the houndstooth sweater she'd brought was something I'd given her when we lived in Denver. (It's been 30 years since I lived in Denver, so I obviously did well on that choice.) It was actually a surprise when she picked out the dressing gown in Romantic Style. I liked it, but wouldn't have expected her to pick it out. It took a while to find a yarn that would work without spending the bank, but that's half the fun. The yarn order arrived on Saturday, and I got started.

Alpaca Fino
When Joanna, one of the Fiberly Friends, asked me to see if I could repair a hole in a purchased lace sweater, I said, "Sure, send it on." The yarn was gossamer, very soft, and fortunately also mohair-like because there wasn't enough yarn attached to make the repair, so I'd need to incorporate another yarn. This must be why I keep a stash—so I would have a yarn that might work—and I did. It was a mohair blend that wasn't as fine as the sweater yarn, but the variegated nature of the yarn helped it to blend. I sorted out the pattern and after a few "go's" at it, finally closed the hole so that it's barely noticable. Yesterday, I received this lovely hank of lace alpaca/silk yarn from Joanna.

Peruvian Highland Wool
I don't have enough Tivoli Bainin Tweed to complete the multidirectional cable shrug and my calls for folks to check their stashes for this discontinued yarn have gone unanswered. But I must make the Norah Gaughan's multidirectional cable shrug. Knowing that the odds were low on finding that one person in the world with the extra yarn I needed, I went ahead and found another yarn, since my stash failed me on this endeavor.'s Peruvian Highland Wool fit the gauge and bill, and it arrived yesterday. I ended up ordering two more balls than my calculations said I needed so I could get the Helen Hamann Asymetrical Pullover pattern for "free."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


It was a bill-paying morning, so I thought I'd take a look at my spending on knitting and sewing. It was quite eye-opening.

Turns out I spent more on sewing than knitting in 2006, so the ROI wasn't so great there. That does mean, however, that I did a much better job of knitting what I spent, but by no means is it a break even situation.

There is good news, though. As much as I spent at Knitpicks, I did make a small profit on the samples I made for them.

And overall, gross receipts from my very-part-time-job were greater than the knitting and sewing expenses, so I don't feel so bad. I'll just have to get cracking on the sewing.

Monday, January 08, 2007


It's all Tom's fault. When we got married he had a large library (mostly Sci Fi and humor) and I had just a few. Now, after 25+ years of marriage, my knitting, sewing and craft library (even pared down pre-move) is quite substantial. Ironically, though, as I write this from my office, the books 6'x10' of books behind me are still Tom's.

My books are in the sewing room. The newest addition is Men Who Knit & The Dogs Who Love Them: 30 Great-Looking Designs for Man & His Best Friend by Annie Modesitt. I just figure that I might find the perfect yarn to knit Tom a sweater and I want to be there are cute dog pictures. The book starts with a lot of good tips and techniques. There's always more we can learn.

Though the pictures shown in the KnitPicks book "view inside" were intriguing, I resisting buying Romantic Style: Knit and Crochet to Wear or Display because it was hard to tell what was knit and what was crochet. But I saw the book in Barnes & Noble and I had to have it. When my mom was here for Christmas, she liked the Dressing Gown and Crochet Collar. I've ordered KnitPicks Shine Sport to make the Dressing Gown—maybe for Mom's day—or maybe Christmas.

It occurs to me as I decide what to do about the shrug from VK, that I probably liked the pattern so much because I liked Norah Gaughan's book Knitting Nature .

I've mentioned Victorian Lace Today, which seems to have become my bible for lace knitting, though I've yet to actually start a project from it (so many little time). About the same time, I also received Arctic Lace. There are some lovely and interesting projects, but just as interesting are the stories and the history around the knitting of the Alaskan natives.

Helen Hamann's designs are among the most intriguing I've seen. I ordered the yarn to get her twinset and circular cardigan patterns which are exclusive to Then I ordered her book Andean Inspired Knits. Not only are the shapes interesting, but the colors are wonderful.