Sunday, March 30, 2008

Acquiring New Art and Supplies

Can you believe on Friday afternoon this is what our backyard looked like? Weird to have snow in SEATTLE!

I have been acquiring Art and Art Supplies in large quantities recently.

Some of this is due to Retail Therapy sessions with my laptop and some due to impending retirement.

Yes, I am retiring in June. Yes, I am young to be retiring. Although it is very exciting to ponder what it will be like to wake up and NOT have to be at work at 6am it is a bit unsettling in a way, too. (Catholic guilt, once again!)

My friend Amy suggested that we call it "Acquiring ART"!

Here are some recent stash enhancements, I mean Art acquisitions.

This is from Shelley from Butternut Woolens. I met Shelley at Madrona and she is a very sweet woman. I bought some Rabbit's Foot Angora Blend Sock Yarn in Foxglove. YUM

One pound of Targhee in Quitobaquito:

I got sucked into wanting to knit the Moroccan Days, Arabian Nights Shawl from the Woolen Rabbit. This shawl requires 5,000 beads. Anyone up for the challenge????? Maybe a summer project???

I can't get a good photo of the yarn. It is absolutely beautiful though. Check it out on the Woolen Rabbit website as well as on Ravelry.

I'm also anticipating the receipt of a purchase I made via a connection on Ravelry. I bought some Rowan Magpie in the Float colorway. This is a discontinued yarn but if you are a Starmore fan you'll recognize it. I have some in the stash in a Coffee color and now I'll have something very different. It is making its way from the UK and should be here next week. I'll show it to you when it arrives.

I love knitting socks and I will cast-on for another pair as soon as I post this. I can never get the kitchener stitch in my head. No matter how many times I do it, I can't, for the life of me, remember it. So I purchased this cute Kitchener Dogtag from the Bellweather.

The Bellweather blog, Ask the Bellweather, has some fantastic information on spinning. Go there if you want to know something about technique!

I can put this in my sock bag and never have to worry about remembering how to do Kitchener. It is cute too!

I purchased my first Bosworth Featherweight Spindle from the Bellweather. It is .38 oz made in walnut. She's a nice little spindle. I quickly tried some optim with her. I had some issues spinning Optim with another lightweight spindle I have but the Bosworth works great. No wonder people say these are great spindles.

So that is it for now. No homework progress photos to show because....there has been NO homework progress this week. This has been a self-care week.

As my last post indicated...I've not been myself for awhile. So I decided I needed a week of just doing what I wanted to do. No homework, no *should* do knitting, no guilt(yeah, right - you know that is a lifelong goal).

I finished my Vesper Socks in Neopolitan. So cute!

I also made progress on Brighton from the latest Knitty.

This is in Euroflax sportweight in Eggplant. The handles are Grayson E in Black. I have knit about 9 inches so far so I have about 4 more inches before I start the bottom of the bag.

I need to go and do some picking up of all the projects I have strewn in my bedroom and office. Hope you all had a great weekend!

Tell me about your recent Art Acquisitions!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Part Irish?

I belong to both the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin Sock Club and Sundara's Season's club.

I have loved this year's BMFA's yarn and patterns. I am actually caught up with the socks so far. Well, so far only two have been sent out. I did the first one and the second one came out just last week. So I'm still on schedule with the Rockin Sock Club 2008.

If you are not aware of Sundara's Season's club you should take a look. With this "club" you get to choose a season. This way you are more likely to get color choices you want/love. Each one I have received has been...something I love. She is planning to renew this club so if you get a chance to get in, I would highly recommend it. What I like about this club is 1) You are likely to get colors you love because of the choice of season and 2) You get a variety of types of yarn. It isn't just sock yarn.

Why do I bring up both these clubs?

This month for both clubs...I received these:

On the left is Sundara's sock yarn in Sour Apple and the right is BMFA's Lucky. The BMFA yarn is actually darker than shown in the photo.

These Irish inspired yarns made me think of my dad. I always think of my dad on St. Patrick's Day. He always said he was Irish Catholic. My maiden name is Ooka(japanese, hello?!). He said it was really O'Oka with a big grin. He loved St. Patrick's Day! In fact one of my sisters is named Patricia - would have been Patrick if she had been a boy. What a funny man.

I really miss my dad. He was big on hugs. I miss his big hugs! He died 17 years ago(hard to believe)! I was just 24 years old.

This brings me to WHY I HAVE NOT BEEN POSTING.

My true nature is happy, fun, positive, supportive. I believe I have a patient spirit that is nurturing, loving and kind, overall. I don't feel I have been this in the past few months.

I'm going through another bout of healing from the losses I have experienced in my life as well as a mini mid-life crisis of sorts(impending retirement in June). I miss my mom and dad, as well as my sister Deb. I go through this periodically from time to time but it never lasts this long.

Depression is a funny thing. I know when I am depressed when I just want to hole up in my master bedroom chair with my knitting projects strewn about, spinning wheel and roving here and there, my Netflix DVD's, my laptop(so I can fall into the Ravelry black hole - another thing that takes time away from blog posts) with Chase and Beanie hanging out with me. This holing up is not my true nature either.

I usually love hanging out with my friends and family. I look forward to every other Monday night hanging out with the fellow Feral Knitters, Thursday night at Village Yarn and Tea where I meet up with my knit buds, have tea and chat it up. I make myself do these things because they make me feel better. I need connections with people.

Most people probably don't notice or wouldn't think I am depressed. Sure, I experience a lot of happiness but underneath is this underlying grief.

I know it is temporary. I'll be glad when the veil lifts. It seems to be lifting more and more. I think spring weather, blooming flowers and sunshine will help, too!

I have learned and observed some interesting things in the past few months. Friends have come to my assistance(those that know) with notes of encouragement, e-mails of concern and just plain love and kindness.

I have also had some interesting experiences. I've had an experience or two where I decided to forge into the area of vulnerability and spoke the word "depressed" and it seemed to pass like it was not even spoken. I know it says more about the other person but it is surprising and interesting all the same to not receive an acknowledgement or hear a word of concern or caring. I understand we all have our issues, have our challenges and sometimes we just don't have it within ourselves to be supportive. I get that. I have compassion for others and where they may be at the time. It is the give and take of relationships.

I love my life. I am grateful for my family, my friends and for the passions I have in life. One thing I love about our fiber community is how we can connect over a passion we have in common yet the connections we make are so much deeper...they aren't just about knitting.

Thanks everyone who has sent me notes, listened to me and just cared about me and my experiences.

Each note, each email, each expression of kindness and caring has been a huge gift to me!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I found my notebook! I am so happy...yet somewhat embarrassed about it.

I have been sick since Thursday with this darned flu that has been going around. I was feeling pretty puny for a few days. I got to a point where I didn't even want to knit! I know, seems impossible!

What does a knitter do when they can't concentrate on a pattern?

They spin.

I could not find my orafice hook. I knew I had it at Madrona. I looked in my Little Vicki bag and there was my notebook. Makes sense doesn't it? Last time I had my notebook was in my class with Judith...with my travel wheel.

Yes, spinning is such a relaxing thing to do. I could do it even if I felt like I could do nothing else. You know the A-types. Can't NOT do *something* while battling a cold/flu.

I finished up my very first attempt at navajo ply. Don't look too close. It is underspun in some places. I tried really hard not to over ply. It is going to take some practice but it turned out ok.

Anyway....more on Madrona.

I attended a lunch reunion for student's that have taken Janine Bajus' colorwork class. It was so cool to see what some folks had done/worked on. One student's work, Kim Magden, had done something amazing. Wow. Here she is with her "swatch".

Closeup of the swatch:

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

I had the opportunity to take two classes with Judith Mackenzie McCuin. Spinning a fine lace - I learned so much in the first 15 minutes. I got some really great tips and tricks to spin a very fine yarn. I was amazed at what I could produce and how fine I could get just by adjusting a few things on my wheel. So darn cool. She is amazing.

I also took her Spinning for Socks class. This class was so worth it. I learned a lot and can not wait to practice what I learned. She made us take 4 or 5 samples of some really outrageous colors and had us spin them together. What resulted most times was an amazing yarn - not outrageous at all! I have a lot to learn about spinning! Judith is very generous with her materials. I have so much to play with! :)

The next two photos are just some random photos I think are pretty darn cool. Why?

I just love these kinds of events, where you can be with your people! People come and just hang out - there are always folks hanging out in the rotunda.

I was amazed at how people line up for the Saturday night dinner which highlighted Judith Mackenzie McCuin as the speaker. It is like a stampede to get into the room so you can get a good table!

I do have homework to report on...just no photos. I am moving right along on the round neck cardigan. The back is completely done, the right front is done and I'm moving right along on the left front. Still no sleeves done yet. I have not yet cast-on for the V-neck cardigan. Boy...I have 3 full weekends before the next class. What I have left to do: Knit fronts/back/sleeves up to bustline/sleeve cap for the v-neck cardigan. Finish blocking and put together the v-neck pullover. Finish knitting the round neck cardigan and put the sweater together, knit a swatch for a vertical button band, document my projects including drawing a 1/4 scale of my patterns in a notebook along with a photo of the item as well as document all calculations. That is a lot of homework to do in the time I have left!

I know I would have an easier time meeting my homework deadlines if I did not do any other knitting. That is just *not me*. I must do other knitting. It is like keeping me sane while doing my homework. It is the same activity but it is a relief from homework. Seem insane? be it! :o)

I did finish my BMFA socks though. The toe is a little bunchy but I can live with it. Can you believe I finished a pair before the next shipment of the sock club arrived? Unbelievable!

One other thing I had to start. I am making the Spring Blossom Shawl for my mother-in-law for Christmas. I am hoping to actually start this early enough to get this done in 9 months! I am using Toots LeBlanc fingering merino/angora. So yummy to work with!! I have to make myself leave this alone because it is so addicting to work on.

I also made progress on my mindless sock knitting.

I knit the second sock using Knit Picks Harmony circular needles in 2.0 mm. You know what? I really like these needles. They seem to put less stress on my hands and wrists. I don't know if it is because the wood is gentler on me than my addi's. Dunno. Just like 'em.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I do watch LOST and is it getting good!

The title more refers to how I'm feeling at the moment. (Thankfully, "this too shall pass")

I load my photos of Madrona to do more posting about it. I look for my very important notebook that has all my notes I took in my classes as well as various contact information.

I was supposed to send one woman the link to Ruth's site so she could download the Kauni cardigan. Can't do it now.

I have photos of Janine's colorwork class attendee reunion. Some folks brought swatches of their original colorwork which was so inspiring. One woman's work was phenomenal. I was going to mail her when I posted on it...along with her name. Now I can't.

Can't find the blasted notebook.

I have searched ALL OVER THE HOUSE. Where in the hell is this damn thing??

It is LOST.

I want to practice what I learned in Judith Mackenzie McCuin's two classes - spinning a fine yarn and her spinning for sock class. Can't.

This is how I feel in general. I feel so disorganized. I feel

SO NOT PUT TOGETHER. (I can't even use improper american english!)

I think my Nihon projects exemplify how I feel about my life. They are all over the place. Some pieces finished, some not and some not even started.

I feel like I have all these pieces of me scattered all about. I feel spread thin here, there and everywhere. I'm tired. Exhausted really.

Had a rather big blowout with the sweetest husband in the world. He gains his energy by being with people. I gain mine by being alone. He thinks that I'll feel better if we invite people over for dinner or get out and about. (Remember he is retired also). I tell him I need to be ALONE. I don't want people over, I don't want to go on a walk, I don't want to be bothered. Remember I work all week - I am with people all freaking day long! He *got* it and I've been hibernating in *my* room all weekend. So lovely. Oh, just what I needed. No phone calls, just me, my knitting and Chase and Beanie. I did what I wanted when I wanted, I ate when I wanted, I took a nap if I needed. This was good because I don't feel quite so cranky!

I think part of it is the aging process quite honestly. My body doesn't do the things it used to so so regularly. Hormones are going a tad bit awry. Things I could count on like clockwork...count 28 days on the calendar and Aunt Flo would visit. This doesn't happen anymore. She visits *about* every 28 days but she basically visits when she wants. Also the allergies have kicked up in a big way which contributes to my fatigue and crankiness.

On to real knitting content(you are probably thinking thank god! finally!)

So here is my nihon homework:

Last week in class we learned the pick up for the v-neck. Some folks had one center stitch at the v-point, some had two. I had two.

Jean commented on this yarn. It is Berroco Ultra Alpaca. Personally I love working with this yarn. The interesting thing is I did my swatch, did all my calculations and knit to all my carefully calculated measurements. When I was ready to block my pieces, they seemed so long. I thought "I checked my calculations many times, how could this be?". Well Jean said that with this yarn you need to do a larger than normal swatch. Then when you block it, you need to hang it over a hanger - this will give you a truer guage. So...this sweater will be longer than I planned. It is ok. This is going to be a very cozy sweater!

The round neck cardigan. I am making progress on the back.

Right front - not quite done - need to calculate and knit the short rows for the shoulder slope:


Here is a closeup of one of the patterns in the sweater. You can see the stitch markers that always cheer me up made by my friend Amy. Amy gave me the special cupcake with the flowers the day I was moderating Charity night at Madrona. This was a good luck charm! What a sweetheart! Thanks Amy!

Jean gave me a good suggestion about my button band for the cardigan. Use this pattern for the button band. Since there are holes in the pattern via a yarn over, I could just use this pattern and have built in button holes. See here:

Wouldn't little pearl buttons look cute?

On to my next Nihon homework - it is a V-neck cardigan. I finally decided on a simple pattern for it. This is knit out of Rowan Cotton Jeans - color Blue Jeans.

I have also been sock knitting. My inspiration is Ruth's mom. She knits one sock per day! Yes, one full sock per day. Once she finishes her one sock, she can then do her "fun knitting". Sounds like us Nihon Vogue'ers. No fun knitting until homework is done, NOT!

So I worked on my Serendipity socks. The next BMFA sock club installment is to ship soon so I wanted to get these completed. I finished the first sock with the toe designed for the is a star toe. I'm not sure I'm going to like it. I'll block it first before I decide whether I want to change it. It is very wide and you can really see it from the side view of the sock. The toe from the front looks cute but not sure if it will feel bunchy when wearing in a shoe.

Then..I also need completely mindless knitting so I decided I can knit socks just in my plain old sock pattern(in my head). Now I can have something to do in meetings or when I'm in line at the store.

Socks that fit me I do on 2.0mm, cast on 64 stitches and just do plain old stockinette with my newly learned short row heel ala Priscilla Gibson Roberts. This sock is done in Julia's Vesper Sock Yarn. I have quite a few skeins in the stash. This is a very old colorway..neopolitan.

I know the sock looks kind of funny. I had knit the toe but realized the sock was just a tad bit too short so I frogged it. Note: I do a lot of frogging and not just on Nihon homework!

This was a very bad week for me so...I have added three more Vesper sock yarn skeins to the stash which have yet to arrive at their new home.

I also bought some Yarntini. Yes!! My big personal accomplishment this week. I actually have some Yarntini in hand. Do you know how long it has taken me to get my hands on some of this? Probably 2 years. I just happened to be on-line at the right time and the planets aligned just for me. I bought it at Sonny and Shear.

Here is Home, Hope, and Fig&Plum. So excited.

As I said, it has been a tough couple weeks. Our budget system is up and running but there have been some challenges. My co-worker and friend Jamie always tells me to go to my "happy yarn place".

That is what I did. Sock yarn is a good thing. You can never have too much sock yarn, right?