Monday, August 27, 2007

Week One with Jake

He's a smart little dog and in a very short time has become part of our family. Jake's first week with us has been a learning experience for us all. And there are still some mysteries.

We learned early on that he's a foody, so it was pretty darn easy to teach him to sit and lay down. Just bring out a Cookie and he's there!

We also learned that a stern voice will cause him to retreat or go into submissive position on his back. So on Friday night when he encountered the skunk in the back yard, instead of coming to Tom when he called (sternley) Jake retreated to the dark reaches of the back yard. The good news is that Mandy and Tootsie with their longer coats did not meet Mr Skunk and we had to douse only one dog with tomato juice. It worked most, but a close encounter of the Jake kind will still yield a light skunky odor.

It's all relative, I guess. When Mandy tried to play with a skunk and the skunk was not so happy about the encounter, we had to ride from Medford to San Jose with a skunky nervous dog, then leave our bags (which were stinky by association) in the garage to air out for two months. It took just as long for Mandy to air out, but she didn't have to stay in the garage.

But I digress...

Here are a few pictures from the week.

More pictures can be seen by clicking on one of the pictures or here.

Visiting Tacoma - briefly

Her week with Barbara was up, so we headed back up to Tacoma to pick up my Mom and bring her to our house. We had a very nice visit, on what was the first nice day in a week. We enjoyed Barbara's hospitality, flowers and beautiful view of the Puget Sound.

Mystery solved

The mystery stole has been done for over a week, but with the arrival of Patty's mom, taking her to Tacoma, bringing her back from Tacoma, and getting to know Jake, there have been a lot of picture taking and not-too-much posting. Here is the last installment of this mystery.

Swan Lake
The theme of the stole was revealed after the fourth clue, since the stole was to be asymmetrical which Melanie knew would be embraced by some but not all. Here's an excerpt from her description of the pattern.

The stole begins with the traditional lace pattern “Wings of the Swan” that I used in Leda’s Dream. Only one repeat of the pattern is made before it is split in half and continues up the sides of the point and along the edges of the first two thirds of the stole as a border. The large decorative motif that many of you saw as faces, insects, dragons, and other creatures in is merely a decorative motif with swirls and curls to fill the space. The honeycomb pattern is another pattern used to fill the space and not necessarily symbolizing anything in particular. The following motif that has a floral appearance is the traditional Shetland lace design “Cat’s Paw.” This design is usually worked as a vertical insertion, but I used it as a scattered, all over design in this stole in reference to a particular dance in the Swan Lake ballet. Le Danse des Petits Cygnes or Dance of the Little Swans is one of the most famous parts of the ballet. When Siegfried meets Odette and her maidens, there are several dances by the swan maidens, but this one is done by four dancers, each holding to the next one, moving in unison doing the pas de chat step. Pas de Chat means literally step of the cat, so using the Cat’s Paw lace design seemed natural in this stole. The final third of the stole is a wing. It obviously fits as the swan part of the theme, but the single wing with the more formal first part of the stole also alludes.

Dressing Swan Lake

The point

The wing

The stole

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day One with Jake

Jake has adopted us. He has settled in without missing a beat.

What we've learned about him in the less than 24 hours we've known each other:
1. He's a foody. At the shelter he went right to the treat jar and tried to forage.
2. He's an optimist. Each time we come in the room his eyes are on our hands because there just might be a treat in them.
3. He's a comfort dog. The sofa was his domain on the first exploration break, where after watching for more treats, he settled down to a nap
4. He's definitely a comfort dog. Our bed became his bed, along with at least two of the three dog beds that were formerly Cody's.
5. He's curious. He continues to trot around the house checking things out.
6. He's a good dog. He hasn't gotten into anything, including yarn (very important), trash (well he did poke his nose in one basket, but was busted and suitably remorseful)
7. He likes to be touched. If you stop and he's not done, his little nose and head are under your hand in no time
8. He's cute.


So far Mandy seems to be indifferent. There was a brief moment after Jake grabbed brown baby and ran with it that he and Mandy started to play. It's a start and there's lots of time for playing.

Click on any of the pictures to see more.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Meet Jake

We have a new family member.

We adopted Jake today from the Family Dogs New Life shelter in SE Portland/Milwaukie, OR. He's a six-year-old rat terrier, who was surrendered to the Oregon Humane Society and then transferred to Family Dogs New Life. Today was the first time Jake got to meet prospective people and lucky for us the first couple passed. He's a curious little dog and at 17.5 lbs the smallest dog we've ever had. He's been trotting around the house checking things out, but took a long nap on the sofa, so seems to be settling in nicely.

I'll post more pictures soon.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

People, Places, Dogs and Yarn

Oregon Coast
Our 25th anniversary deserved more than just a dinner, but with two big trips planned for 2007 (Scotland in May and Hawai'i in October), we opted for a quick getaway and headed for the Oregon coast.

Since I'm the planner in our family, Tom made some suggestions about towns to visit, but left it to me sort out where we'd stay. We'd decided early on that the dogs would go with us, but with the loss of Cody, it was just Mandy. I found a site with a list of dog-friendly lodgings and after lots of site visits, settled on the Fireside Motel in Yachats (pronounced YAH-hots). Once we arrived, we both agreed that I'd made a good decision. Mandy was happy as long as she was with us, though truth be told she'd rather have been with us in the comfort of her own house.

We left on Monday and could not have asked for a better day. We took 99W through McMinnville and on to Lincoln City, where we took a break and walked on the beach.

Checking into the Fireside Motel, we received a pet package consisting of a sheet, towel, mat and several scooper bags. Mandy was set. In town we met a local dog, Sam.

We'd booked an ocean view room and were not disappointed with the view. Behind the motel is the 3/4 mile 804 Trail, that goes along the coast, with benches and tables visitors can sit and enjoy the ocean in addition to exploring the rocks and tidepools.

We headed south to Florence on Tuesday, where we escaped the fog that had rolled in between the time I took Mandy out on her early morning walk and Tom got up. In Old Town my first stop was Reigning Cats and Dogs, which had a great selection of doggy things for people. Our next stop, was the Siuslaw Coffee Roasters where I found out that Siuslaw is pronounced "sigh-YEW-slaw" and we bought some yummy cakey fruit pastries. There was a name, but I don't remember it, but they were very dense and reminded us of a cross between shortbread and cake with fruit, a crumb topping with coconut. Again, yum.

I remembered seeing or reading about Mo's clam chowder, so on the way back to the car stopped by and got clam chowder, fresh bread and cole slaw to go. Good timing on our part because as i sat with Mandy, there was a crowd gathering outside for lunch. It was a good lunch.

On Wednesday, we headed south again to take the Eugene-Florence road home. Just north of Florence is a big "YARN" sign, so we had to stop. Happy Kampers Yarn Shop has a very large selection of yarns you'd find in big box stores, but upstairs I found a brand I'd never seen before and some wool that was just too pretty to pass up.

Sometime ago I'd found a link to Dyelots so we planned the one stop in Eugene. I was greeted by Janis as she cut mint in the side yard of the house for a visitor, then led into the house and to the yarn. She had mostly fiber, but there were beautiful yarns spun up, and this is what I brought home.

There are more pictures from the trip here.

Tacoma and Seattle
My mom lives in Sun City West, AZ and we have been trying to get her to spend some summer time away. A snowbird friend, Barbata, invited her to visit in Tacoma and the proximity to Portland finally convinced her to leave the heat for awhile. It's less expensive to fly in and out of PDX, so I made all the arrangements and on Thursday she arrived with Tootsie and we were off to Tacoma.

Barbara found some toys for Tootsie, who really wanted to play, but in the end was just too tired.

See more of Tootsie.

After spending a few hours enjoying Barbara's view of the Olympic Peninsula and Tacoma Narrows bridge, we headed north to meet Jud and Karrie for dinner at Camelita. The food was fabulous. It's vegetarian, but very creative "savory fare."

We arrived a little early but not problem because I had scoped out the yarn store situation and found the Fiber Gallery just a few blocks away. It was a good find. They had probably as good a book selection as I've ever seen. I'd venture to say that you could find just about any knitting book currently in print, and a few that are out of print. The yarn consisted of a lot of unusual fibers (banana leaf, corn, hemp, nettle, bamboo). In the end I bought more the more traditional fiber of merino in the form of hand painted Malabrigo lace yarn. The picture doesn't do the colors justice. The left hank is plummy while the right is mostly a chocolate brown with blues painted in.

Royal Post

Speaking of Scotland, this is just an aside to point out that as much as we complain about our postal systems, sometimes they do "work"—just not always quickly.

On May 22, we stopped by the combination grocer/post office on Islay to mail home a box of miscellaneous things. It was a small shop and we were directed to the "post office" which was on the same counter three feet from the cash register for the store. Our one box was just a little too heavy to be considered "small parcel" and would cost double what two small parcels would cost, so we divided the goods into two boxes. Allow 4-6 weeks we were told.

About three weeks ago, or two months later, box one arrived. As we were driving back from Seattle Thursday night, I happened to comment on the fact that box number two had not arrived. Our stopped mail was delivered yesterday and, you guessed it: there was box two.

It took close to three months but we have our two boxes, which is good because Tom would have looked silly walking around with just one shoe...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Twenty five years ago

August Shirt(s)

For our anniversary, Tom gave me a beautiful ring. There was nothing I could think of that was special to buy for him, so I decided to make him twenty-five shirts. Life happens and I only managed to finish eleven, but he seemed happy with that.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A different perspective on LYS

I have to admit that I have not frequented the LYS as much as I would like (or they would like, for that matter). It has much to do with convenience, as much as selections. As with everything, fibers, yarns and colors, and the shops that sell them are a matter of personal taste. How products are merchandised and the people in the shop also affect my decision to frequent any business.

Two shops near me have closed in the past year, while the oldest still survives, in part, I'm guessing because of location. The idea of the neighborhood yarn shop is appealing in theory, but for me, it also has to stock the kinds of products I need or want. At this point in my stash, it's all about finding that something different—in color or fiber, and that's something that many neighborhood shops may not be able to offer because of the cost of maintaining both a storefront and inventory.

So I shop the internet shops as well. Now this doesn't have to mean I don't shop locally. I do. Several LYS offer internet shopping for yarn and accessories. They are taking advantage of what the expanded customer the internet has to offer. It is also a convenience for me since they are not just down my block.

And then there are the internet-only stores that are local. Most recently (okay, yesterday), I ended up at Woolgirl where I found an extensive selection of hand painted yarns in a variety of fibers. Since I'm really trying to minimize stash enhancements, I picked a bunch of yarns with intriguing colors and fibers and narrowed the purchase to a suri alpaca/silk laceweight yarn in a color called "berrijus." I got an email that my shipping cost was reduced because Jennifer was located just across the Willamette River from me in Oregon City. I was caressing this lovely yarn yesterday. I don't know if you can beat this combination for softness.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Local Yarn

Shortly after moving here, I marveled at the number of yarn shops in the area—fifteen when we arrived and eighteen by the end of 2005. Were there that many knitters? Could that many shops really survive?

The internet is both a blessing and a curse. As a consumer, I shop around to find variety and the value. But for small businesses, it can be hard. The overhead of a storefront. That point has been made quite clear Mabel's Knittery and Café closes the yarn shop this month. They will follow Cozy Ewe in June and Lint last month and sometime in the past year, Knit-In Café. I'm sure the neighborhoods will be a little lost without them, but it can be said that there are still local options, some are storefronts, some are internet, some are both.

Regarding Mabel's the following was posted to the SNB-Portland list:

Starting this Sunday - August 12th - we will be having a storewide
liquidation. All inventory will be 30% off, and we expect things to
move quickly. We will open from 10AM - 6PM for the first two days,
and will close at 4PM for the remaining 4 or 5 days.

But she also said:
On a happier note, I will be starting a new business in the same
location, and many familiar faces will be right there with me. I
hope you will all stop by at the end of August to check out our new
and expanded coffee house, complete with a children's area, free wi-
fi, delicious coffee, bagels, treats, milkshakes....all the good
stuff. We hope to carry all of the coziness of Mabel's along with

It's always good to end on a happier note.

Knitting Japanese

It's that power of suggestion again...
It started with the Mystery Stole Yahoo group extoling the loveliness of a shawl that Queen Mudd had knit; which showed a project she was working on from a Japanese pattern book; which lead to a search for the book; which found Fleegle's blog; which lead to YesAsia, a bookseller and the ABCs of Knitting; the former of which lead to more books, and so on...

Lots of Google searches later here's what I uncovered about Japanese pattern books. I tried to use ISBN numbers to search, as well as English titles, and where possible copied Japanese symbols. Lacis, in Berkeley, CA and Needlearts Book Shop in Toronto, ON have a selection of Japanese books, including the symbol reference books that Fleegle uses.

YesAsia has a lot of pattern books, but searching is iffy since they use the Roman characters as the enunciation of the Japanese symbols and don't always use the full titles, but a little perserverence did locate some books and for some there are images of some of the patterns. The good news is that they also ship for free on orders over US$55. The bad news is that they ship in 21 days.

Amazon Japan has lots of different books and the exchange rate isn't too bad, but now they ship to the US only by air, so a US$13 book will cost US$20 to ship. It was a good tool, however, for tying images to ISBN numbers and Japanese symbols.

And then there's Kunokuniya Bookstores. At first I found only the Japanese site, but yesterday found Kunokiniya BookWeb. The good news is that they site said where the books were in inventory; the bad news is that most books don't have images. That's where the ISBN number and Japanese symbols come in handy for searching and comparison. I have the advantage of having a local store in Beaverton, OR, but there is danger there because once I was pointed to the knitting/crochet books, I was able to peruse more books and find even more than I'd found on websites and blogs.

The Books
Here's what I've acquired through Kunokuniya and YesAsia. The symbols reference books are on order from Lacis.

Added to my evergrowing "to do" list

Just two reasons to learn to crochet more than edgings
(Reminder: clicking on little pictures brings up big pictures.)

And there are a lot more patterns where these came from...