Monday, June 30, 2008


I am liking this retirement gig. I highly recommend it!

The weeks leading up to my last day at work I was very nervous. I am not sure why now, looking back. I have not gotten to a point where I feel relaxed. I think it is going to take awhile.

The past 10 years of my career have been very high stress. I was always on a system implementation schedule which can be very stressful and full of deadlines. Although I prefer system implemenations to system maintenance, it still takes a toll on ones body and mind.

As a transition, it is good to have my deadlines with Nihon Vogue. I feel like I still have firm deadlines and things I HAVE to get done. I'm grateful to have this right now.

I am finalizing the design on my final project and putting the details on paper/pattern.

Here is a rough sketch of my final project.

The upper part of the garment where the bust dart is placed and the sleeves will be done in stockinette stitch. The bottom section of the garment will be a lace pattern. Here is my swatch of the stitches to be used.

I have never created a garment with bust darts. Since the upper part of my design will be more fitted, I wanted to learn how to do bust darts using Japanese short rows. There a number of measurements that need to be taken which determines the placement of the dart on the pattern. Here is a photo of bust dart placement for my design - it is the triangle drawn on the pattern.

There are a couple of techniques I am using to get the look I want for this garment. The first one is the bust darts, the second is getting the flaring on the sleeves and bottom of the sweater. The flare on the bottom part of the sweater can be a challenge because the pattern is lace. Instead of decreasing stitches, which can destroy the continuity of the lace pattern, I will achieve this by changing needle sizes. For every .25 mm you go up/down, this will change your guage approximately 4%. Using this guide, you can then figure out how many times you will need to change needle sizes to get the result you want.

Since retiring I have also completed two Nihon projects.

The first is the v-neck pullover that I have struggled doing the grafting on. As I got more and more experienced grafting the 2X2 ribbing, I wondered why I couldn't see the stitches and how to graft. That is what experience is all about, isn't it?

Here is my finished garment. I am very pleased with the fit of this project.

I have also finished(with the exception of sewing on the buttons - still trying to decide between 2 buttons) the round neck cardigan. I call this one my Pepto Bismol sweater. The reason - this project seemed to go on and on, and on and on some more. I was getting nauseated with it - I needed some Pepto as a cure for the nausea!

I like the fit, overall, but the sleeves on this are tad bit tight.

I am also finishing up the v-neck cardigan. I just finished knitting the sleeves yesterday and the sleeves are on the blocking board right now. I just have to attach the sleeves and finish knitting and putting on the vertical button band. I will write more on that in another post. Vertical button bands deserve their own full blog post! (what a pain...why would anyone ever do this?)

I have tried uploading some photos of my "contraband knitting" but they won't load. I guess I can only update you on my Nihon Vogue work!

Hey Seattle - isn't this weather awesome? Now this is the heat I like! I know some of you may be wilting, but this girl is in heaven! Not too cold, not too hot. It is JUST right!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Candace is running a Marathon!

A fellow student in the Nihon Vogue course is running a marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This organization holds a special place in my charitable giving heart.

My niece Nicole has leukemia(which is in remission). (I realize now I should have done a post requesting donations when Nicole's brother, Connor, did the Big Climb earlier this year - oh well, I will do it next year).

Anyway...Candace is training to do a marathon. The proceeds will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This organization has been a wonderful resource for my family.

I did a post on Nicole's birthday last year which will give you more information about my niece's battle with leukemia.

Here is a recent photo of Nicole with her brother Connor(far left) and cousin Cameron (center) at Cam's high school graduation a few weeks ago. You can see that she is doing well.

The drug that Nicole is on, which keeps her in remission, would not be possible without the charitable contributions of people like you and me.

If you have the means and the desire, go to Candace's giving website to donate directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society via her efforts!

Thanks so much!

Also a big round of applause to Candace for taking on such a big commitment to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

5 Years Served of a Life Sentence

A friend of mine, Linda, jokingly talks about marriage as a life sentence(with a big smile)!

This past Sunday Greg and I celebrated 5 years of marriage.

We are late bloomer's regarding marriage. On our wedding day I was almost 37 years old and Greg was 51. Yes, it is both our first marriage. We both say it took each of us so long because we were waiting for the *right* person.

We had our share of relationships that didn't work out. We agree that we had gotten to a point in our lives that we were happy in our lives as they were as single people. If we met someone special, great. If not, we were perfectly happy being single.

We continue this independant-ness in our marriage. Yes, our marriage is very, very important but it isn't all there is in our lives. We share so much but we continue having lives and interests outside our marriage. For us, this is what makes our marriage so strong and beautiful. We have our passions in our marriage and we have passions outside our marriage. His passions outside our marriage are photography and scuba diving, mine are my dogs and anything fiber related!

Here is a wedding photo of us on the waterfront. We were posing for photos when the fire boat comes by. We couldn't have asked for a better photo op.

I tell people I wish that people looking for love could have what we have. We have tremendous respect for each other, we support one another to pursue the things that are important to us, we love each other's families, we laugh every single day(this was in our marriage vows) and we share so many common values.

When I imagined THE PERFECT man for me, I could not have conjured up this man in my dreams.

This photo shows our playful side:

I love this next photo. Greg is my safe place. He is my soft place to fall. He is compassionate, he is loving, he DOES have an emotional bone in his body! I think this photo says it all.

On Sunday I was running around the house in the morning getting ready for my Nihon class and Greg asks if I have time to have coffee with him. I said "kinda". He said he had something for me. I gave him that side-wise look. We had agreed not to exchange gifts this year. He presented me with a gift wrapped box. Inside were a pair of diamond earrings.

I told Greg we should return them because I would rather have the $$ go towards ripping out the carpet and putting new flooring in upstairs in our home. He wouldn't hear of it. (Did I mention he is thoughtful, too?)

A life sentence seems doesn't seem long enough for me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Mariner Scarf

As most of Seattle knows, the Seattle Mariners are not doing well this season. It has been hard on the fans. There was so much hope going into this season. Unfortunately the team has not lived up to those hopes.

I still enjoy going to the games. In fact I will be going to tonight's game.

On a somewhat related topic, when I retired I received some very kind and generous retirement celebration gifts(more posts to come on those). One was from Michale. She knew I have been wanting to knit the Chevron scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts(currently 1273 projects in Ravelry). Michale knit this for me because she knew I have been wanting to knit this but knew I would not be getting to knitting it any time soon.

I wore this scarf at the game this past Saturday night when we played the Washington Nationals...and lost. Here is a photo of me wearing my scarf sitting with my mother-in-law Evie.

I'll surely be wearing it tonight. Currently it is cool out and raining. Will summer ever arrive in Seattle?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Getting the Hang of it

I would be wondering "Why Naomi is having such a hard time grafting her invisible cast-on piece to the main piece?".

I have looked at books, I have watched Lucy Neatby's Finesse Your Knitting DVD (thank you Michale for loaning it to me). This video is very good by the way. I would buy it myself but now that I am on a "fixed income" I know where I can borrow it! :)

My problem isn't doing normal grafting. I can do normal grafting. My problem is half of my material is as you would see in videos and books and the other half(which was knit from a provisional, crochet cast-on) is not. Since the stitches from the provisional are a 1/2 stitch off, this makes it challenging(at least for me).

The photo below shows the little piece I am trying to graft on which began with an invisible cast-on. The white yarn is some smooth waste yarn that shows me now the yarn should be sewn to join the pieces together. This is what I would call the piece that is shown in "normal" grafting examples.

The photo below really shows what I mean by the knitting being a 1/2 stitch off. In Lucy's DVD she has you put smooth waste yarn on each piece you will be graphting together. I can not do this with the piece that is 1/2 stitch off - this is the whole reason for the need to graft these pieces together. If it were as easy as just picking up from the waste yarn, this would eliminate the need for this grafting.

I'm getting the hang of this. I have seen some *issues* with my latest piece of grafting and I may have to rip out and start again. I think this is because I tried doing it late at night. The photo below is the piece I did during the day and I am quite pleased with the results. As long as it took me to do this(lots of sewing, then re-sewing - trying to read the stitches correctly) I was thinking I could have re-knit the whole sleeve. I guess that would go against what I am trying to learn I am NOT going to re-knit the whole front and back just because of this darn situation. Looks pretty good..or as good as I am going to get since this is really making me very behind in other homework. It took me probably 4-5 hours for just one sleeve. Honestly. I think I will get quicker the more I can really memorize what I should be doing.

I must say that having this time is priceless. Spending all this time practicing, doing and re-doing this graft has been an enjoyable learning experience rather than a frustrating, race against time *chore*. Just by being able to take my time with it is just amazing. I'm enjoying this learning process rather than being frustrated by it.

I am also getting the hang of this NOT WORKING gig. It is so nice! I'm tending to stay up later. I was waking up about 5:30 everyday but today I made it till 7am! (I make it sound like I have been doing it awhile - today is day 3 of freedom!)

It almost seems like a dream not having the performance pressures from work. It is so nice to wake up and look at what my day might be. Go downstairs, wake and feed the boys, have my coffee(G is still making my latte's) and just sit for a bit to figure out what I will do with my day. Pure luxury.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Manta Ray Video, Finally

As most of you know Greg and I took a vacation to Hawaii in late April through early May.

My most memorable experience on the trip was doing the night snorkel to see the famed Manta Ray's on the Big Island. We did the snorkel/dive on Wednesday April 30. I believe 12-13 manta's showed up.

Big Bertha, the biggest Manta in the area, was there. Her wingspan is 14 feet across. I think the average wingspan of the manta's in that area is about 10 feet. One of the newer baby Manta's was also there. Greg termed this one "gnome sized" because he is only about 5 feet across.

Back in 2003 on my honeymoon in Tahiti I had the experience of seeing the Manta's on a day snorkel and I could just make out the outline of their large bodies far below me.

When I learned about this excursion, I knew I had to get to Kona to see this. They have been drawing the manta's to this area(Kona) for the purpose of tourism for quite some time.

I have no information confirming this in any way but I worry that at some point they will stop doing this for the safety of these beings. I know some of them can get bruised by running into people and their equipment. There are stupid people that try to touch them. Manta's have a protective coating on their bodies and our body products, etc. can be harmful to them. I wanted to see them just in case they stop doing this in the future.

We booked the excursion through Kona Honu Divers.

I took this video with a little waterproof Sanyo video camera. You don't have to be a scuba diver to enjoy and be blown away by this excursion.

These animals are very curious and gentle beings. They are truly remarkable.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A New Beginning

I made it out of work today with minimal tears!

My co-workers were very generous and contributed $310 to the National Marrow Donor Program in lieu of flowers or gifts for my retirement gift.

The team tricked me and came into the conference room as I was doing my exit meeting with my boss and brought a huge box of Trophy cupcakes (my favorite) to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

What is my first trip in retirement?

I am running off to Costco right now! :)

Monday, June 09, 2008

For the Sock Knitter

Dani at Sunshine Yarns has created some self striping yarns for all of the Harry Potter Hogwarts School house colors and I had to have Gryffindor House. I love how these turned out!

The story about getting this yarn is this: I have enjoyed Dani's creations and had longed to get some of the Harry Potter inspired house self-striping sock yarn(I'm a huge sucker for self-striping sock yarn!). She emails when she is going to update the shop(Tomorrow June 10, 11am eastern) and I knew she would be listing some Harry Potter inspired skeins. I was all set to go. I had blocked out my work calendar for about 15 minutes so I could take a break just at the precise moment she was going to list.

I was working away and got called into a last minute meeting. I returned to my desk about 1.5 hours after her listing time and I just knew all the Gryffindor House colors would be sold out.

I ran to my desk and guess what? There was one skein left of Gryffindor House. I was stunned. Still one more skein out there? I was meant to make these socks!

They look especially cute in my new clear Converse shoes. Have y'all seen these shoes? Perfect for the nerdy sock knitter like me! You can get them here.

Sock Books

Janel Laidman's sock book is out! I did a pre-order and got mine signed. They are now available for sale here.

I own a lot of sock books. I love some, I'm mediocre on others. This one is FAB-O. Go out and buy it.

I love each and every design in this book. Honestly I want to knit each and every one. (Move over Nihon Vogue!)

The night I received this book in the mail I lay in bed gazing over and over(and over and over and over) the pages of this book. Here is a sampling of the designs included in this book.


Of course you probably know this pattern - the Yarn Harlot made this famous. You can get the pattern in the book or you can purchase just the pattern here.

Biological Clock

Don't you love the DNA strands?

Northern Lights

The colorwork folks are not left out in the cold.

Thistle and Fox Socks - Lisa Lloyd

I purchased this booklet through Foxfire Fiber and Designs some time ago.

The designs in the booklet are timeless. I have a hard time finding designs that my man would wear. I found more than one in this book.

The design that prompted me to purchase this booklet is called Snowstar.

Another lovely pattern is Bluegrass.

I am a bit on a non-Nihon Vogue bent right now.

I'm a little frustrated trying to graft that darn v-neck ribbing(still). I am getting better at it. After sewing across almost a half a wrist ribbing I found this little not-quite-right stitch. Most folks won't even notice it but I know Jean will.

I get discouraged because it isn't *perfect*. Damn perfectionism.

The bad thing about perfectionism(there are lots of bad things) is that when something isn't perfect to me then I just want to set it down and never pick it up again. I don't like that I have this impulse but Nihon is really helping me to pick it back up and finish it. It may not be 100% perfect but just finishing it is a huge thing for me. That is probably why I have a multitude of UFO's in my house. Nihon is really, really helping me get beyond this impulse.

The non-knitting content:

Today driving into work, my sister Deb popped up in my head. She pops up at very significant times in my life. I think it is because she was my champion. She was my endless supporter and she is doing that even now. Even though she is no longer living.

I imagined her calling me tonight(which I know she would have) saying "Aren't you excited for your last day of work?". She would be supporting me telling me how excited she is for me. I get tears writing this. No matter what was going on with her, she always found time to show her interest in my life. I miss that love and demonstrativeness.

I didn't fully appreciate her interest in my life and how much she showed her love for me by just by making a quick phone call to say hi.

For most folks dreaming about retirement they could not imagine the transition from work life to retirement being a challenge. It is more challenging than I would have imagined. The future is full of unknowns(I know...full of endless opportunity as well).

I am also anxious leaving some people behind at work. The environment I am leaving is getting harder and harder to work in each week that passes. I care a lot about my friends there and hate to leave them behind. I will miss them a lot.

Today I received a letter in the mail from the National Marrow Donor Program saying that two of my co-worker's had made contributions in my name. I started crying. This gesture means a lot to me. (I told my work that I didn't want a party or gifts but they could make contributions to the NMDP). They went out of their way to really honor me and the time we have spent together in the workplace.

Ready or not tomorrow I graduate from work life!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Wow. It has been awhile!

I've had a lot to write about, just not a lot of time to do it in.

What will get me out of the quiets on the blog? A Meme.

Ellen meme'd me and I think I can do this quickly(I hope).

The rules: Are posted at the beginning. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blog and leaves a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer. Play nice, children.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? Let's see. 11 years ago I made a career change and was deep into the first year of transition. I was an accountant/CPA turning to software developer. I was working 12-16 hours a day on a Y2K project. I was a newby developer on a project that had many seasoned veterans and I was working many hours to just keep up. I was motivated to be successful in my new career so I spent many hours at the job.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today- not in any particular order? Have breakfast with my friend Jamie, color my hair, get cute wrapping paper for my friend Amy's birthday present, wash the bed linens, get started on a square for Ryan's afghan(see details here. It is the June 6 post.) You all probably know Ryan from Mossy Cottage Knits and Dulaan. She's going through a rough time and folks are contributing squares for an afghan. Go see Janine's post for details. She has done so much for people, it is time we do something for her.

3. Snacks I enjoy: I'm a junk food queen. I love any kind of food. If I eat something sweet, then I need something salty to follow. When I eat something salty then I need something sweet to follow. As you can tell, this can be a dangerous circle that never ends!

4. Places I've lived: I've only lived in two places during my almost 42 years of life. Ellensburg, WA and then Seattle, WA.

5. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Well. A Billion dollars is a lot of cash. I would give money to my sisters so they could retire. I would give money to my friends so they could retire and we could all play! I would give money to charity and maybe even start my own foundation for starving fiber artists.

6. What are some jobs you've had: My dad owned many rental properties and an apartment building. Early on(starting at age 7) I had to water outdoor plants, weed, paint, etc. As a teenager I worked in a local fast food drive-in as a cashier and I bussed tables at a local restaurant. In college I worked at the UW Huskly Athletic ticket office - in ticket sales. Also while in college I worked at NOAA as a computer hardware installer(changing out mother boards, etc). I have worked as an accountant and software developer.

7. Peeps I want to know more about: Jamie, Melinda(she probably won't do it though!), Michale, Peggy and Rebecca, Joni

Note: I have two more work days. Monday and Tuesday are it. It seems a bit of a letdown of sorts. Not sure why. I think it is because it doesn't feel real yet. Plus I'm fighting a summer cold and it has me feeling a but whimpy. You can bet I'll be posting more regularly very soon!