A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

My Photo
Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Road Trip Part Two or Dream Job

Book Lore turned out to be a fabulous find in downtown Greenville (not that the whole town is very big). Not only did they offer coffee to patrons, but they carried a wide array of books, creations from local artisans, and, tucked away upstairs, A Room of Yarn. The owner, Cheryl, specializes in handpainted yarns, but also carried a wide array of other great finds. I fell for a very soft, very pale lavender synthetic boucle and bought enough to make a braided scarf. [This is a pattern I found on Thanksgiving in a booklet my mother-in-law had, but is one of those timeless ideas that I consider unpatented (remember, I have been knitting for 46 years and have seen A LOT), so I will tell you how I am proceeding to copy the photo. I am making three narrow, K1P1 ribbed pieces of the same length, will sew the bottom tother, then braid as if it were my hair, and sew the tops of the strips together and add fringe.]

Glenn fell into conversation with Cheryl about forestry issues, while I selected several gift items, which I won't divulge ('tis the season for secrets, you know). After we had departed, he remarked that he had really admired some of the variegated yarns, and how nice one of those cabled hats I was making would be made up that way. Now, neither you nor I would be so subtle, but would have grabbed the yarn we liked right at the store and bought it. My offspring would have needled me into buying and making them yet another beanie (you know which one I am referring to, if you are reading, kiddos). Not my DH. I don't know what he was thinking!

Lucky for him, I could rebound from my surprise (after all, this is the fellow that has only begged for socks in a decade of being married to a knitter!), and reply that I probably had something he would really like waiting at home, and that I would be happy to make him a cabled hat (see Part 1, below for the story of the cabled Canadian toque).

Now for the dream job part..... Has it been a dream of yours to start your own yarn shop? It turns out that the Book Lore building is for sale! Cheryl does not intend to remain in the building, but to move her yarnpainting business back into her home, and offer yarns for sale over the Internet. Keep an eye out for her site, which should be up and running soon. The address will be: www.aroomofyarn.com.

However, there is a vacuum waiting to be filled in the Greenville area, with the Lake Almanor resort area only a few miles away. If you have always dreamed of having your own yarn and book shop, let me know and I will send you the link - it won't load onto this page properly.

We gradually made our way back to Taylorsville, where we huddled in our car keeping warm and waiting for the Light Parade. We were awestruck to see the crowd grow from "in the tens" as Glenn kept saying, to well over 200 (after all, the population of greater Taylorsville is something around 150 souls). The parade was dramatic, in that it was truly pitch black out, but short enough that you almost could have blinked and missed it. I thought the best float was from the nearby Maidu rancheria community services agency, featuring a tipi, and lots of wire animals, all covered in white lights. There was also a giant, inflated snowglobe perched on the local fire engine, and a few other entries. Of course, the parade ran up the street then turned around and came back... after all, they had to try to live up to the buildup created by starting fifteen minutes late while the temperature was dropping down into the twenties. Turns out Jenn and her family had come over from Quincy for the parade - I had never even thought to email and see if we could meet up, and we never would have found each other in the crowd and the dark, but it's nice to know we shared this comical/magical experience!

We were starving when the parade finished up and had already decided that we wanted to spend the night at the Crescent Hotel in Crescent Mills. Turns out this was just about the best part of the whole trip for us. Not only did we have a gourmet feast of a dinner, courtesy of their chef, but we also met the nicest, friendliest people in our waitress and her helper. We learned a lot about this area, where we may decide to relocate, if the economic picture where we are continues to worsen (don't think I didn't consider buying the yarn/bookstore myself before letting you in on the secret!).

As dinner was winding down, our waitress came back to tell us we "were lucky to be here tonight, as there is going to be live music". Now, I know some of you club hoppers can't relate, but we live in a place where live music is a rare commodity, and to have it turn out to be bluegrass/new grass - why we were in "hog heaven". We relaxed on the couch in the large bar, where three ales were on tap, and NO budweiser products. They even had one of my favorite single malts... and I could knit and listen to some really great music, knowing all I had to do was walk upstairs to my room!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Road Trip

Those words have always been music to my ears. I love to get away to someplace I haven't seen before and view the landscape, meet the people, eat in new restaurants, find new treasures. So, I thought it was a great idea to just plain sidestep Thanksgiving this year and take a real four-day holiday. After all, I have no idea when, down the horizon of my current life, any kind of vacation is in sight.

Last week, we mapped out a tentative route through the empty Clover and Dixie Valleys, with the plan to camp along the way, and end up in Quincy by Saturday afternoon, so I could visit The Wool Room there. The weather appeared to be cooperating. However, by Thursday morning, a storm was threatening, so as we were packing, we abandoned the idea of taking camping gear... after all, it would leave more room in the Jeep, right?

Also, on Thanksgiving morning, just after feeding the burros, and before my DH was even out of bed, I received a call from my brother-in-law David, on his way between San Francisco, where he had flown in from his job in Utah the previous night, to Sacramento to pick up my nieces (well, actually they are his daughters first) and head to Lake Tahoe to meet up with Grandma Diana and Grandpa Jim. David is just 14 months older than my husband. He leads a very different life than we do, but they have always been close, especially in recent years. We were disappointed when David left his job in Reno to take a new one south of Salt Lake City in October, as we were just getting used to the idea that he was so close to us, but we were glad he would be happier.

Even though we had already informed the family of our absence, there was something in the woeful tone of his voice that got to me, and when Glenn got off the phone, after confirming that "yes, indeed, we were still going on our trip", I had to say that we would miss everyone if we didn't see them for dinner, and that we could probably reconfigure our proposed loop into an ellipse of sorts to include dinner in Lake Tahoe and departure from there the next morning.... so off we drove.

One of the highlights of our evening was playing Twister with my nieces, ages 8 and 14, who really wanted to beat their dad and uncle. We also played a vicious card game called Pit (as described by the non-violent loser of the family - me).

Friday morning relatively early, we departed the Tahoe Basin. There was absolutely no snow anywhere, therefore far less people than usual. We did have to make a short stop in Truckee, at Jimmy Beans Wool, so that I could touch yarn. I bought enough to make a stuffed monkey for baby Mia, not actually breaking my vow of no gift knitting, just planning ahead for her first birthday in January. If you are looking for something unusual to knit up for the holidays, they are offering a great felted poinsetta wreath kit! They look far better than the yarn covered plastic decorations our grandmas used to fall victim to making.

We made good time back through Sierraville and into the Sierra Valley. If you have not visited this part of the west, it is a different Sierra Nevada landscape than picture postcards of Yosemite or Lake Tahoe can convey... the expanses of high mountain valleys open up the mountain sky, letting lots of light in, even on grey, rainy days such as we were having. The wide open sky is much more like Nevada than the rest of California.

There were still remnants of fall color, and stark, charcoal mountains ringed the separate Sierra, Clover, Dixie, and Genesee Valleys we passed through, covering 40 miles of dirt roads. We saw several groups of cars in Clover Valley, traveling from a Christmas tree cutting area located there, but after that, pretty much had the road and the valleys to ourselves. There was a long stretch of winding mountain road, with many glimpses of what turned out to be Indian Creek at the bottom of a canyon, before the mountains once again opened up into magical, narrow Genesee Valley.

This is one of many swimming holes located on Indian Creek. The shot was taken at one of dozens of rustic backwoods camps we came across, all in places with great water access. The light was terrible for photography, and there was a steady drizzle all day. I could not adequately capture the deep charcoal of the rock face here, nor could I get the small waterfalls bringing water to this pool.

Genesee Valley was very special, with only a few ranches, one general store (closed for the holidays), and an air of serenity that was very appealing to us. We almost hated to reach the end, but then found ourselves in Indian Valley, one of the larger of the high mountain valleys, dotted with ranches and small communities around its edges, and lots of open grassland in the middle. Both Indian and Spanish Creeks flow through this large valley, and water is abundant just under the surface. We decided to spend the rest of our time exploring the different communities here, spending Friday night in Quincy (which is actually in American Valley, just to the southwest).

Quincy is also the county seat for Plumas County, and the largest town in the area. We ate a superb dinner at Moons, a restaurant that has been there for nearly a century, and didn't even think of turkey leftovers.

This is the original Quincy school, now used as adminstrative offices, and a great representative of some of the historic buildings to be observed walking through the downtown of Quincy.

We did a little Christmas shopping, but I was unable to locate The Wool Room, and will have to consult with my friend Mary to see if it has moved recently. We wanted to make our way back through the Indian Valley in order to arrive in Taylorsville for the Christmas Lights Parade at 5:30 Saturday night, so I conceded defeat and we headed out of town... at least Quincy is only 70 miles away and I can return soon to find the Wool Room.

We had to make a brief detour up a side road as we approached Greenville, or so my DH claimed. He had lived for a summer in the area 27 years ago and wanted to check out an old mine and its surrounds, where there had been terrific historic artifacts. Now, we have been married for almost 12 years, and friends for something like 25, so I knew that brief was not the right description, and that I would be glad I had knitting to occupy me, as the rain had stopped, but the temperatures had dropped... I wasn't going along on this search, which I figured would be somewhat futile, given the amount of needle debris a forest of evergreens can produce in 27 years. Here's what I was doing while I waited:

This is the third version I had made of Jae's cabled toque, and I had decided to add an inner cotton band before beginning the cable portion, and a turned hem. I am not so sure I like the two-color effect, but you gotta admit, it works well with a Jeep steering wheel! Couldn't knit and snap a photo at the same time (don't know why not, must be dyslexic)

[Brief aside: This is the second Jeep I have had, my DH totaling the first and youngest son rolling this one, requiring extensive repairs, and I STILL love my Jeep, especially in the backcountry].

He finally decided to call it quits, just before I perished of hunger. We went off in search of coffee drinks, only to discover that the only shop in town had just closed for the day. I managed to lure him into Book Lore, on the possibility that they sold coffee, having noticed on the sign that yarn was sold within as well....

To Be Continued

Monday, November 28, 2005

Product Review: Lamb's Pride


Yarn name: Lamb's Pride (Worsted and Bulky)
Weight: worsted/bulky
Manufacture:Brown Sheep
Size: Worsted: 190 yds/4 oz skein
Bulky: 125 yds/4 oz skein
Fibers: 85% wool, 15% mohair
MSRP: $7.00 per skein

Lamb's Pride is one of my all-time favorite, workhorse yarns. It is great for felted bags, beanies, mittens (which will full as they get worn a bunch for snowball fights), slippers, even jackets and sweaters. I love the 15% mohair content and the single-ply, slightly unspun texture, duplicating a rustic handspun. I have used it so much that I am somewhat surprised I haven't featured it before. However, I have made two hats in the past week from the bulky, which I had bought by mistake back last spring while working on my striped traveling bag, and was so delighted with the results, I was tempted to keep one for myself. However, they are part of the Knit Unto Others KAL work I have been doing, so off they go to keep other heads toasty warm this winter.

This is a "pocket" slipper, made from Lamb's Pride Worsted (called that because it is small enough to fit in your pocket!) Posted by Picasa

Detail of hat made using Bulky Posted by Picasa

There is now even a Lamb's Pride Superwash! I have not tried this yet, and it does not contain the mohair, so I am guarded. I did pick up enough to make a toy monkey for grandbaby Mia's first birthday coming up in January, and will keep you updated.

Me? A Princess? NOT!

I will have much to share this week, including a report on our road trip, with photos, information about a new source of hand-painted yarns, and a Monday Product Review later this morning, but here is a little appetizer in the meantime...

Sallee posted her "princess type" results and I just thought it was so quaint that I had to take the quiz ... here's my "type", although I am very grateful to be living in the 21st century and not the 14th.

The Traditional Princess

You are generous, graceful, and practical with both
feet planted firmly on the ground. You tend to
be a little on the old-fashioned side. You
value home, hearth, and family life and love to
be of service to others.

Role Models: Snow White, Maid Marian

You are most likely to: Discover a hidden talent
for spinning straw into gold.

What Kind of Princess are You? - Beautiful Artwork (Original Music is BACK!!!)
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Much To Be Thankful For

Giving Thanks

It is the day before Thanksgiving, an important holiday in our culture, and a great time to reflect on all I have to be thankful for. Walking in to my cave-office in the basement of Western Sierra Medical Clinic yesterday morning, which also serves as the food bank for western Sierra County, to find the place literally stuffed with packed Thanksgiving food baskets, reminded me that the days have passed when I needed outside food assistance. While a younger, single mother, I used to be a recipient, until I could go to the director and say "No, I can take care of myself, and other people need the help more than me".

That alone would be enough to be thankful for, but I am also very thankful for what generous, caring children I raised, and for the loving (second) husband I have. I am thankful to have meaningful work at the two non-profits I serve, and to have enough money left over from those jobs to be able to donate to others, such as the hurricane and tsunami relief efforts this year. I am extremely thankful, every day of my life, to live in the mountains, surrounded by beauty. I am thankful to be the guardian of other species, my cat and five donkeys; there is much to be learned from inter-species communication and I receive at least as much as I give. I am thankful to be creative and to also apply some of that creativity to charity knitting this year. I am even thankful to have lost my job in the past year, as it gave me the opportunity to reconsider what I could and should be doing with my life.

Knitting Unto Others

It has been a productive week and a half working on my Knitting Unto Others KAL items... I managed to come up with a much larger pile of yarns to use from my stash than I will be able to get through in just the next five days or so, but will keep knitting away after the KAL ends.

I pulled out this Irish Hiking scarf, made in a vintage wool boucle yarn, used double, and finished it (just a tiny bit at the bottom was left). It had been languishing since May. Posted by Picasa

The other KAL item I have finished is this great cable toque pattern I got from Jae, made in Lamb's Pride Bulky (look for Lamb's Pride to be featured in Monday's Product Review). You can get your own free copy of the pattern at her blog. Great fit... Posted by Picasa

I am also thankful for people like Jae, who post free patterns to the web that are wonderful and workable, having paid for hat patterns that weren't near as nice and functional as this one is... I will have to make another for myself, and currently have a worsted version on smaller needles in progress for a school-age child. A little side note before I change subjects: if you are making hats for your KAL, I want to share that I pored over several patterns and discovered that it is pretty standard to make a baby hat about 3 1/2 inches before starting the decreases at the top, a toddler's 4 inches, an older child's 5 3/4 to 6 inches and an adult's 7 to 8 inches. I would ignore those directions that say a woman's hat should be slightly smaller than a man's, and if you are making one for a gift, try to find out what the person's hat size is, or if their head is larger or smaller than normal to ensure a successful fit (gauge IS important here to get the right circumference).

A Lovely Evening

Late last week, Sara Lamb found my blog while surfing the net, and wrote to invite me to attend the upcoming Foothill Fibers spinning guild meeting. She said there would be a slide show of textiles from around the world, and a sale of fair-traded artisan textiles. I learned to spin, weave and dye while in my late teens and early twenties, and have employed those skills sporadically over the years, but didn't think that there was any place for me in a spinning guild (actually, I had to admit while chatting with Sara and a couple of other women that I met last night who are almost neighbors out in my rural area, that I don't want to return to spinning because I never got all that good at it, and it cuts into my knitting time).

However, a friendly invitation should not be ignored (heck, I didn't even know that Sara was a celebrity till Margene told me!). Turns out Sara had recently returned from teaching a class at SOAR in Colorado, and Eileen, an instructor at our LYS, Meadowfarm Yarn Studio is this year's guild president! I decided early in the week that I would make sure and rush down after work so that I could see all the lovely slides and textiles, and maybe even find a Christmas gift or two.

Lucky for me, all of our children left early, and I was driving down Highway 49 while it was still light! I was able to grab a few things to eat at the local market, and get to the event, held at the library's spacious conference room, in plenty of time. The textiles offered were under the sponsorship of Weave A Real Peace, a non-profit group of weavers and others whose mission is "empowering women and communities-in-need around the world through textile arts". An indirect result of their work has been to help preserve the cultural heritage where they provide technical assistance.

The textiles offered for sale were from Guatemala, but the slide show featured examples from around the world, including Peru, Lesotho, Mexico, Croatia (rainbow socks in all kinds of colorwork patterns!), Scotland (featuring a 90-something year old weaver making tweeds in the traditional manner), and the Inuits in northern Canada. It was a great program, and is available to show to your local knitting or spinning guild. Information about borrowing the slide show is available at their website.

This is an excellent organization to support, and their website provides links to many fair-trade organizations, so consider doing some of your holiday shopping through these organizations.

The group was very friendly, and apparently lots of other non-members turned out to see the slide show and goodies, so Eileen had everyone introduce themselves. I discovered two "near-neighbors" in the guild, Audrey, a beekeeper who lives on the other side of Camptonville from me (it is a far-flung, loosely defined town, and I am in the center), and Jan (or jean? - I was too tired to get it right, I apologise if she sees this) from Pike. I reminded myself that I spent several days in June camped with some equally wonderful spinning guild members from San Francisco, and was very receptive to the offer to join them for "Spinning Saturdays" even though I plan to knit my way through (do you think they are trying to suck me back in to the vast mass of spinning fibers?).

Thanksgiving Day Plans

We decided last week that this would be the year we didn't stay the course. Instead of cooking the traditional, large holiday meal, or making the annual pilgrimage (traffic fight) to join Glenn's family at Lake Tahoe, we will be escaping for a back-country road trip. We intend to return to Clover Valley to explore further, as well as the neighboring Dixie Valley, and even plan to camp one night or so, weather permitting. Weather is always sketchy here in the Sierras, especially this time of year, when the "winter storm door" is only ajar and not really open yet. The prediction is for rain on Friday, so I am hoping to be able to stay warm and dry while exploring new places. We are taking lots of extra cold-weather gear. We also want to visit Quincy, where I hope to make a stop at the Wool Room. I have foresworn from the stress of knitting everyone a Christmas gift, but Glenn's granddaughter Mia's first birthday is right around the corner in January, and I would like to knit her a few toys. Pictures to follow....

I hope that each of you has a happy and blest Thanksgiving, with those you love.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Product Review: Rustic


Yarn name: Rustic, now called Sport
Weight: DK weight
Manufacture:Elemental Affects
Size: 2 ounces/110 yards
Fibers: 100% Shetland wool, grown in Montana
MSRP: $8.00 per skein

If yarn came in varietals, as wine does, this would be an example. A special yarn developed by Judith McKenzie, using fleece from Shetland sheep raised in Montana, it is both soft and "crunchy", which is the word my niece coined a few years back to describe our hair when we unbraided it after a day playing in the snow. She was describing the wavy texture created, and this yarn has it, while still sliding through the hands gently.

I discovered this yarn at last summer's Black Sheep Gathering, and purchased enough to make a few hats. It is distributed by a very small company located in Desert Hot Springs run by Jeanne DeCoster, who offers a few nice patterns on the website employing this yarn, now termed "Sport". A few of you met her at SOAR a week or so back... she is very sweet, and works hard to promote the unique characteristics of the Shetland fleeces.Of course, I had already fallen in love with the little sheep and their multi-colored hues (all the available yarn is undyed, in the various colors produced by the sheep themselves, how cool is that?!), so I was an easy sale.

Here is a closeup of Rustic, showing the wavy texture within each stitch, as well as the Moorit colorway. Shetland sheep are a very primitive breed, producing two types of wool, and the softer fine wool can be "rooed" or plucked directly from the sheep, rather than the usual shearing procedure, if the grower watches for the "break", a point in the fleece growth where there is a natural weakness, allowing the hair to come loose.

If you are looking for something that looks particularly casual or rustic, but still has a soft hand, this yarn is an excellent choice.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Creating a Studio - Part 2

Are we there yet?

I am still quite a ways from being done, but additional work upstairs today has led to a mostly-complete storage room, with sitting area!

This is a poor-quality shot of my sitting area... to be improved over time with a second chair, so I can have a visitor while knitting. The upstairs of our 1854 house is much warmer and cozier in winter, and very nice light filters in through the window, even though it is small. This chair was upholstered by my step-son's grandmother about 20 years ago (she was a neighbor at the time and taking a class in upholstery at the same time I stumbled upon the chair at a yard sale for $5.00). The stepstool was originally part of a kit I intended to needlepoint for my mother; got the stool stained and constructed, but then covered it with leftover fabric to go with this chair, and made my mama something else). Posted by Picasa

I would like to install a tabletop/cutting counter along the wall where the large dresser currently sits; that will have to be later this winter.

What you can't tell from this photo is that off to the viewer's left, where the train layout described below, formerly resided, is a huge pile of boxes and tins, containing our excess of Christmas decorations. One thing my DH and I had in common when we wed was a sense of extravagence about decorating for the Christmas season. There are the trimmings to drape the front peak of our Gothic house in icicle lights (see yesterday's post to help you visualize that), enough German glass ornaments and bubble lights to decorate a 10-foot tree in our parlor downstairs, and the trimmings for a tiny tabletop modern tree, and a country-style woodland tree (about 3-4 feet tall), full of bird ornaments I have collected over the years... as well as assorted other decorations.

I have often wished as Christmas approached that I could take the month of December off, and completely decorate every single room of our house, then have parties where children could troop through and visit Santa and Mrs. Claus (I actually happen to know that they spend the off-season in south San Francisco, posing as my friends Kevin and Susan). And, of course, there would be a kitchen full of cookies, cocoa and hot cider waiting at the end of each tour... don't you just love having fantasies!

Aren't these shelves nicely organized! This is probably the only photo I will ever post, as I doubt they will stay so pretty over time... the green plastic box holds cones of sock-machine wools, there are two tall cotton cones on the top white shelf, the vertical loom-type thingie is to weave mohair cinches for equines (something I haven't gotten to yet, although I am part-way through braiding a set of mohair reins). My portable sewing machine capable of machine quilting is in the blue plastic box on the floor far right. there is a colorful basket of washcloth cottons, donated to the Cloths for Katrina project by the Elmer-Pisgah Mills on the middle black shelf.... and that cute stuffed dog, Buster, is sporting the one and only knitted project youngest son ever made, to adorn his favorite toy when he was about six. Posted by Picasa

This is the reason my DH has been so helpful' he is in the process of moving his train layout from my new studio, into the larger room vacated by my daughter's departure... together, we moved the layout board (with track attached), then the table it rests on, and, after he vacuumed the tracks thoroughly, re-positioned the layout board in it's new location, all this morning! Posted by Picasa

Destashing by Gifting

I have also been able to do some significant de-cluttering, with DH hauling off a chair and couch my son left behind (that nobody had considered comfortable since my in-laws passed it along to us six years ago), as well as a defunct washing machine. I also put clothes into seasonal storage, and sorted through my large collection of winter hats, scarves, and gloves. I am pleased to report that I will also be helping keep others warm this winter by donating several of these to Women of Worth, a local thrift store run by our battered womens' shelter.

While sorting through old videos, I came across Alice Starmore's Fair Isle video, which I want to watch again, as well as several books/patterns that I am going to offer to you, my dear blog pals. I am NOT putting stuff up for sale, but requesting that if something interests you, and you know you will use it, you send me a few dollars for postage through PayPal.

Here's the list so far:

Mariner's Compass, a quilt mystery by Earlene Fowler

Raw-Edge Applique, by Jodie Davis - "14 fast and fun frayed quilt projects"

Trail of Thread: Historical Letters 1854-1855, A Woman's Westward Journey, by Linda K. Hubalek - this book is considered juvenile fiction, but was an interesting portrayal of the western migration from a woman's point of view

How To Make An American Quilt, by Whitney Otto, a novel that was a bestseller back in the early 1990s.

Textures and Patterns for the Rigid Heddle Loom, by Betty Linn Davenport. Published in 1980, this may well be out of print, but is a great resource for weavers. Yep, I used to have two rigid heddle looms; one is now in use at the local elementary school, under the direction of my dear friend and artist extraordinaire, Cheryl Durrett. Her specialities are hand-made paper and painted gourds, but we figured out how to set this up so that the experience of weaving could always be available in the background of the school day.

Bernat Classics for Babies and Toddlers - 1963; I recently saw one of the children's cardigans reproduced somewhere on the web... great baby and child patterns

Bernat "The School and College Look" - 1958; some patterns definitely vintage, but others classic, including a fair isle cardigan and fair isle round yoke sweater

Spinnerin Continental & Classic Knits - 1958; has some very cute ski sweaters and a couple of vintage 50's coats in it

Hand Knits by Beehive - 1944; twinsets, fine-gauge dresses, a swing coat ... this is totally vintage. I used to pick up these dresses at thrift stores and wear them regularly, back when I was a slim twenty-something, and they could be found for a few dollars apiece. I will NEVER spend my fine-gauge knitting time on these, but will do lace instead!

Columbia Minerva Beehive Yarns Hand Knit and Hand Crochet Fashions - No date, but same era as the above Beehive booklet; the coolest pattern in here is a "short jacketed sheath with lace overskirt", just the kind of outfit Lucy Arnez would have worn. Several suits and a ribbed fingertip coat in worsted (the only pattern I copied with the idea of ever making in this lifetime).

The Crochet Sweater Book, by Sylvia Cosh - 1987; lots of crochet color and texture, but the sweaters were really huge back then. I did make a vest from this book that I still have tucked away in my cedar chest.

Australian Patchwork & Quilting Yearbook, 2002

Knit 1, Spring 2005

Knitting with Dog Hair, by Kendall Crolius and Anne Montgomery - 1994. This is a great resource for you spinners with shaggy dogs, as it details the pluses and minuses of various breeds; I actually spun up some of the brushings from my Aussie Shepherd back in those days.

As you can see, I have been quite the collector, and used to snatch up vintage patterns at the thrift stores... I now don't want to be responsible for all this clutter, and will also be listing many back issues of Vogue Knitting, Knitters, and Interweave over the next few weeks; same deal, free if you will pay postage. If you don't see something you want now, check back later, and I just might have it. I would much rather see someone else get some use out of these items than keep moving them around :)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Creating a Studio

I was so excited to wake up and find that it was fully light outside this morning, not the usual inky black I face... we had a leisurely time over coffee and my DH cooked me breakfast, before we dug in and got to work on the room upstairs that has been designated my studio, now that there are just two of us in this rambling old Gothic house.

Here's a view of our house, as it looked this afternoon, with the donkeys grazing while waiting their turns for foot-trimming from the farrier. From left to right are: Rose, Louise and Rita.

While Glenn fixed the window so that I could open it and let the heat in on sunny winter days, I was busy moving storage objects in place.

I had rounded up a large dresser that my DD had left behind in August and a shelf unit from her former room and my littlest son's, who departed to Sacramento back in April. I was thinking this would be adequate until we decided not to incorporate the vanity that has been storing my (some of )fabric collection in the supposed guest room next door to my now-studio. I may need to round up an additional dresser or plastic storage bins for fabric, even with some moderate de-stashing.

I have been using this creation process as a decluttering one at the same time. I was going through the yarn stash, and recycling the zip containers saved from drapes and sheets to repackage the wools I want to keep (most). I also set aside this pile to use for Knitting Unto Others projects in the next couple of weeks:

These yarns are all destined to become hats... they include turquoise and purple Lopi, medium brown Lambs Pride Bulky, red Lion Brand Cotton Ease, mystery olive green worsted (probably partly synthetic), dark green Lion Brand Homespun, and a couple of blue-greens that I should, but can't remember the names of.

Do you think I am overambitious? After all, it is almost half-way into a two-week KAL. However, in my usual mode of operation, it may well take me the entire two weeks just to get organized and started, and I will probably plug away at several children's hats out of this pile, over the month of December. I did find a great cabled toque pattern on Jae's blog yesterday, and it is free, so check it out. She's from Canada, where they need to work at staying warm through the winter much longer than I do in the sunny Sierras. Marguerite, who routinely knits for Children in Common, also has some great, free, warm patterns available at her site.

As a followup to last week's post about two hats, my son's hat will get reworked in the next month, in between the charity hats and washcloths, and I did decide to keep my cozy brown Shetland wool hat just the way it is, at least through the road trip we are planning as our alternative to Thanksgiving this year. I may be very thankful to have such a large hat to pull down to my chin while camping in the backwoods! Look for details after the holiday weekend.

Now, as I was saying, working on organizing the studio has been very rewarding. I realized I have tons of yarns already, and ought to be branching out on my projects, trying some of those things I bought the yarns for in the first place, such as lace knitting with the two alpacas I have, and modular knitting with some golds and creams set aside. I found some important labels and instructions that I had misplaced, which will help with such things as determining how many yards there are, and if I have enough for that project in mind.

I also realized that there are still a few projects I will absolutely never get around to finishing. One such WIP will become the object of a holiday season contest on my blog, similar to the sock kit I gave away at the end of June.

Shelves and dresser before they started getting loaded down. A few favorites visible are Knitting Without Tears (second copy I have owned) and the three-bobbin rack for my Ashford wheel - no, it's not the contest prize. Even though I haven't spun in recent years, I am not ready to part with my wheel.

Watch for contest details... hint, it's red.

I got most of my stored boxes moved out of the guest room today, and rounded up about half of my crafting books to fill those shelves, so a new photo tomorrow is called for. I laid down a halfway decent rug, leftover from youngest son, and plan to install my wicker rocking chair, pole lamp, and collection of pincushions on the top of that two-tiered table you saw, laden down with bags of yarn in the photo above. That table is left over from my parents' living room during my childhood, and although a little rough around the edges, will be a perfect accompaniment for the reading and knitting nook this will make! I could have written that decorating book out a few years back, Use What You Have Decorating, but they thought my stuff was too old and funky :)

We took a break in the early afternoon for the farrier's visit; three out of five donkeys had hoof trimming, Rose refused to be a good girl, and April wasn't on the schedule this time. Our weather has been unseasonably balmy for the past two weeks, with temperatures in the high 60s during the midday, and mid 30s at night. I know it won't last, but it sure made for a delightful donkey afternoon.

As the afternoon waned, I was back inside, thinking about charity knitting. This photo is the third box I am sending off to Cloths for Katrina. I cut apart my printed labels and tucked them into 15 folded cloths, 11 of which were made by me in the past five weeks, and four by my fellow Mountain Harvest Crafts Cooperative member, Peggy (two were actually knitted up during the KAL). I have the flat rate box, which includes 19 bars of soap, ready to mail on Monday. This shipment is going to Margaret in Woodland, who has made contact with the Sacramento Volunteers of America, who rehabbed officers' quarters at the decommissioned Mather AFB in Sacramento into apartments for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina to live in for up to a year, while they sort out their lives and decide where they want to live.

Tomorrow's post will include a more finished version of my new room, and hopefully a finished hat of one kind or another. Happy Knitting!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The New Me?

OK, what's going on here! I have always been a social little thing, but somewhat resistant to fads and styles - not really a joiner. Yet, here I am this week, signing up for not one, but TWO different new group projects - Knitting Unto Others, and the Better Pal. Now, this is really not like me, especially since I learned to not overcommit several years ago when I went to grad school (it was a great excuse to ditch all kinds of committees and social events I really didn't want to be a part of).

I have to stand outside of myself and process what is going on here... and I feel pretty good about it. First, I have been doing a lot of charity knitting in the past year, and even got an article on it printed in the summer edition of Take Back the Knit, so when Margene announced earlier this week that she and Carole were setting up a two-week Knit Unto Others, I was IN.

It was a natural... after all, I was getting a little tired of all that cotton washcloth knitting, wanting wool as the weather steadily chills, and had just gotten an email from Lisa Miller (of Red Scarf Project fame) detailing the need for 87 hats and scarves for some of the Chinese foster children connected with the orphanage she has been assisting. Surely, I could come up with at least a few... even though I still have lots of cotton to knit up, plus a few personal items...

Then, I got an invite to join Better Pal... seemed reasonable, but was a longer commitment. I got to thinking about how much blogging about knitting and meeting other knitters through their blogs has deeply enriched my life in the past year. Gifting a complete stranger seems like a great way to offer something back in gratitude for that gift, which has sustained me through a period of transition this past year, and through working such long hours that finding a knitting group an hour away and actually attending is about as realistic as sprouting wings.

I may only get to interact in real time with other knitters a few times a year. Margene and I have started planning to attend the Taos Wool Festival next fall, and I would like to make it to another festival or two in the coming year, but who knows? My dear friends that are a part of my daily life aren't knitters, with only one or two exceptions. Actually, I should rephrase that: they aren't passionate about knitting, like so many of my fellow knitting bloggers are.

Now, that doesn't mean that they aren't perfectly good and dear friends, shoulders to cry on, grrlfriends to laugh with, but they just don't get that same thrill I get squeezing some luscious alpaca or cashmere... in fact, only my son Cody comes even close, and his yearnings usually have something to do with begging me to knit him yet another beanie (if you are reading this, Cody, don't get me wrong; I love to make hats for you, just have to fit in a thing or two else along the route). I can usually drag my son and daughter on an outing to a yarn shop in our travels, but often come out with a larger credit card bill, and a deficit on the project completion list as well... but, hey, at least they like what I make (if they get to pick the yarn and pattern).

My DH takes a more abstract approach, but also only ventures into yarn shops when forced, such as if we are traveling together away from home. He groans when I mention "Ben Franklin" on trips to town together (may be why I tend to do the shopping alone), and doesn't really understand blogs. He IS cute, though, and is patiently waiting for me to order the right yarn to start a pair of felted clogs for him. He doesn't add to the project list either, and dutifully admires my work. I think he likes it better when I am making quilts and hemming the curtains, though...

So, that leaves all of you... and many, many praises of gratitude for having a virtual network of knitting friends. It is such a bright spot! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and a special blessing to my as-yet-unknown SP. It should be a blast.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My Favorites Meme

Both Jenn and Lynette have tagged me with this meme, and I had been thinking of my answers as I read other peoples' so here goes:

What is your all-time favorite yarn to knit with? Probably any alpaca :)

Your favorite needles? I love the Addi turbos I have, but really adore the two ebony circulars I have gotten in the past month, and keep angling my projects towards ones I can use them with.

The worst thing you've ever knit? Probably this two-color, paneled "ski" sweater I made back in junior high school... it was so 70s, and the arms were too tight. It was some acrylic sport weight that my mom bought for me, and felt slick but scratchy. I am sure it went to the Goodwill about the time I left home.

Your favorite knit pattern? Usually it's the one I am making! I am pretty fond of felted clogs, the lacy "versatile scarf" I am working on, and my EZ Pi Shawl, made years ago. If I were to switch this question to a stitch pattern, it would be Old Shale, my all-time favorite Shetland pattern, which I used on the shawl and on a luxury afghan several years back for my DH.

Most valuable knitting technique? I agree with Lynette on this one; the time I spent learning the Continental stitch using Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears book has been repaid a thousand times over the years.

Best knit book or magazine? Interweave Knits

Your favorite knitalong? I am terrible about this, not really being a participant in KALs because I either hear about them after everyone else has already finished, or because I am too busy "doing my own thing". I AM looking forward to Margene's Knitting Unto Others KAL (check the button newly added above the posts), since I do a lot of charity knitting, and there are few "rules".

Your favorite knitblogs? . The ones I turn to first are Margene's Zeneedle, and Marguerite's Stitches of Violet. I think that is because we have much more than knitting in common.

Your favourite knitwear designer? I just answered this question on the Rowan website, to enter a contest to win 100 pounds of yarn... I love Meg Swanson, Vittadini, Lily Chin, Debbie Bliss, and scads more. I usually wear a simple, classic, straightforward design, such as Elizabeth Zimmerman.

The knit item you wear the most? The striped sweater I finished last year.

Who to tag? Sallee - can't wait for her answers, as she is my sister-in-lace!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My Birthdate

I have seen this little ditty on several other blogs, and decided to post it today, as I am nailed down to my desk for the morning, suffering through a combined Internet/conference call training, afraid even to move too much while the speakerphone is open, so noise won't travel. Do I think this describes me? I am pretty calm almost all of the time, and of course it is lovely being described as "brilliant" and creative, and it is true that I always have a very high number of WIPs at any given time... AND emerald is one of my favorite colors. I guess I better wear it when I need some extra courage. I will let you know at the end of November if this is my "power month".

Your Birthdate: October 11

Spiritual and thoughtful, you tend to take a step back from the world.
You're very sensitive to what's going on around you, yet you remain calm.
Although you are brilliant, it may take you a while to find your niche.
Your creativity is supreme, but it sometimes makes it hard for you to get things done.

Your strength: Your inner peace

Your weakness: You get stuck in the clouds

Your power color: Emerald

Your power symbol: Leaf

Your power month: November

Monday, November 14, 2005

Product Review: Cashsoft Aran


Yarn name: Rowan Classic Cashsoft Aran
Weight: Aran
Size: 50 gram/95 yards
Fibers: 57% extra fine merino wool/33% microfibre/10% cashmere
MSRP: $7.99 per ball

I had promised a Product Review of Rustic, from Elemental Affects this week, but in researching where you could get this lovely yarn, discovered that it is not listed under the same name on the website. I have contacted the company for an explanation, and will have to share that with you at a later date... no sense getting you excited about a yarn no longer made, right? Instead, I am featuring this Rowan staple, which I love so much right now that I am even considering making a sweater for my (usually) wool-allergic self!

I am recycling this photo from yesterday's post, mainly because I am in the process of setting up a separate page for the Product Reviews I have been writing, so that they (eventually) will all be in one place.

This is the yummiest, smoothest, and crispest yarn... my DS has exquisite taste and is great fun to take to the yarn stores as I travel around, since he always "scouts out" the softest and lushest yarns there. It doesn't take much cashmere, only 10% to give it the smoothee-soft hand, although in this case that is helped along by the one-third microfiber included. The yarn has plenty of the stretch we associate with wool, but reminds me of soft, dense things like butter and ice cream. The colors available are very lush and rich, and there is a great pattern book, Rowan Classic Weekend with designs using this yarn, that has me contemplating a hoodie or vest out of it. For my style of loose, continental knitting, it makes up more like a worsted, but most people would find themselves using larger needles and making up one of these designs very quickly.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Tale of Two Hats

Two hats... neither of them turned out right! There seems to be a curse upon my hat-making abilities this week; even though I cranked out two completely different hats (different pattern, different yarn), I am not satisfied with either of them. Now, those of you who have been visiting for awhile know that being a perfectionist is not one of the traits friends and family would use to describe me ... in fact I have been labeled a little too laid-back by some. So, it really does come down to the fact that these two hats just didn't quite get it right.

This first hat was started last Sunday, using Rustic, a DK weight Shetland wool yarn from Elemental Affects. I described the pattern earlier this week, and was really enjoying making it, so I was a little dismayed when it seemed to be a bit on the loose side as the construction unfolded. I had measured my head and decided on the large, since for years I have fussed with hats that were just a bit (or maybe a lot) too tight, and wouldn't come down over my ears, choosing to slide up my thick hair and expose my poor little ears to the cold winds of winter. My head measurement was only 1/2 inch short of the pattern's measurement for large, and my gauge was continuing to match the pattern, so what went wrong?

I like this hat a lot. I love the colors and the feel of the yarn. It comes all the way down over my ears, and has a pretty and soft inner band, but should I rip and shred and make it a size smaller?

I stayed up a bit later than usual Thursday night, determined to get the hat off the needles so that I could work on my son's while visiting him and my DD on Friday. I stitched up the top and wove in the tail and went to bed. I put it on when I awoke and wore it around for an hour; my husband admired it but asked if it would blow off in a good wind. I decided to take the hat with me and get my DS's opinion, since he is the beanie king in the family. He liked it too, but my DD pointed out that it was really more a casual hat, and not the kind that would serve me well riding on a lift.... which made me consider that the design was probably intended to be more that of a bucket hat than of a beanie (or skullcap/watch cap). I am holding off from frogging just yet, and am going to make up the same design in a different yarn combo in size medium for my son, and see how it fits me.... and in the meantime, moved right along over lunch to starting my son's hat.

The black was his color choice, and I was trying to duplicate a hat we had found made up in Bling Bling at the Chico LYS for him. He had selected Rowan Cashsoft Aran for his, and I had bought black/silver Berroco Bling Bling for one for my DD... when I was close to completion and had him try it on, it became obvious that the knit was too loose, and it was flopping around on his head. Back to the frog pond, then on to smaller needles. Lucky for me, there is only about three hours of work into this, all while visiting my two adult kiddos at their apartment in Chico Friday night.

Why am I not succeeding with these hats? Hats are a relatively simple knitting assignment, but I am insisting on finding my way with different yarns. With the hat for my kiddos, I had simply measured the hat, counted the decreases, and forgotten that I knit much looser than average. I will redo his, following the directions I "wrote as you go", but dropping down a needle size. With mine, I think I just didn't "see" the pattern's final outcome; in my mind's eye, I was making a snugger-fitting hat than the pattern intended. There is room in my wintertime life for several kinds of hats, and I may just leave this one the way it is....

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Knitted Lace or Lace Knitting, Which Is It?

Now this question is sure to get different answers from different people, so I am referring you on at the outset to Sharon Miller, author of Heirloom Knitting. In her section on grading the patterns, she defines "knitted lace" as more complex patterns that have pattern changes every row, instead of a purl-across "rest" row. I learned of Sharon's book and fantastically elaborate website through the EZasPi Yahoo group, a large and prolific group of knitters who set up a list through their interest in Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl pattern.

In late September, Marguerite posted a notice that the group was going to offer a free online workshop on Shetland Lace Knitting, taught by Liz Lovick. I was pulled in right away, even though I couldn't keep up on my current lists or my current projects. You see, I have been charmed by the romance of the Wedding Ring Shawls ever since I first read about them, back when I was in my early teens, from a copy of Mary Thomas' Knitting Book I had checked out of the library. In fact, in one of my many pattern folders, I still have the photocopied pages, which I used twelve or so years ago, when I made a circular shawl out of sport weight brown alpaca, incorporating traditional Shetland patterns. The Old Shell (also called Old Shale) pattern is still one of my favorites. That shawl could benefit from dampening and redressing out to its original dimensions... but it is still with me and I still love it.

Well, all of these romantic notions won't pay the bills, so I couldn't just go on a month-long retreat, take a vow of silence, and madly knit a Wedding Ring Shawl. I did sign on, and begin downloading Liz's files as she placed them in the group folder. I didn't desire yet another scarf, having made myself a beautiful diamond design one in deep garnet merino a few years back, and being the recipient of Marguerite's contest for the Backyard Leaves scarf in lettuce green this spring. I did think it would be fun to experiment with a few of the patterns Liz had posted for the scarf, though.

Since I was busy making washcloths for Cloths for Katrina, I used the Horseshoe lace pattern for a pink one.
This pattern is an intermediate-level one, as it allows a "rest" row of purling following each pattern row. More advanced patterns require you to be increasing and decreasing and chart-reading your way across each row.

This is another washcloth, made in the Chequered Acre pattern.
I had done one in Old Shale earlier, and mailed it off... washcloths are a great vehicle to try new patterns, and since you are working "at gauge" rather than the lacemaker's technique of using very fine yarns with a larger gauge needle, then "dressing" the finished lace by dampening, stretching, pinning, framing, even starching and ironing to accentuate the design, these cloths actually resemble the patterns pretty closely without any fuss. I loved Liz Lovick's quote in the workshop materials "Warning: As with all knitted lace, your piece will look scraggy until it is washed and stretched or ironed. Have faith!!"

This example is definitely lace knitting, the addition of a lacy element every tenth row, using yarn overs and decreases to create the holes...
However, it is still a lace knitting challenge, and a skill builder, as you are using very fine yarn on larger needles than usual.

The Shetland Lace Workshop is winding down, and I am trying to resist the pressure to feel bad, as many workshop participants are posting their contest entries, both small and grand, while I have only a few washcloths to show. I remind myself that just accessing information from the Internet does not automatically put me into competition with other knitters, that I knit for my own sake and at my own pace, and all this knowledge can be put to use when it best suits me, but I still feel a little pang or two at not having the time to sit down and turn out some fabulous lace creation.

With that thought in mind, I finally decided to get started on this pattern, so I carried the yarn around while I fiddled with a few hats (that story will be the subject of tomorrow's post "A Tale of Two Hats"), and then started it last night.

Does this really count as lace? I don't think so, even though Fiber Trends calls the pattern garter eyelet lace... it is a very easy 8-row pattern, with only 2 of those rows involving creating the eyelets, and it is designed to be a reversible narrow stole, increasing from a point to the midback at the neck, then decreasing to the other point. I will probably use it a lot, but it doesn't appear that it will need "dressing" like real knitted lace, to show off the pattern. Did you notice that I got myself another ebony circular needle, just to make this lovely scarf from the birthday gift alpaca Margene sent me?
I am enjoying the process of this lovely alpaca slipping through my hands, to the accompaniment of the clicking of the ebony needles, and am planning to make the Feather and Fan shawl from A Gathering of Lace later this winter, pushing myself into using a true laceweight after the warm-ups with fingering/sock and sport weight yarns. I just love lace....

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Plea for the Four-Leggeds

The Sky Herd

Run free my brothers in hooves.
Once you were earthbound
and now not even the sky can hold you.
Clouds are the mountains you graze on
and rain the pools you drink from.
Your strong legs are flashes of lightning
as you dance across the earth.
I will never touch your warm body again
nor feel the sweetness of your breath;
but my spirit will always ride with you
on your journey across the heavens.

I wanted to share this lovely poem, written by a fellow "wild ones" owner, Carmon Deyo, and promote her jewelry website, Black Horse Design. Carmon has been a horsewoman for many years, and donates a portion of her sales to mustang and greyhound rescues, as well as other animal groups. Her Celtic designs are phenomenal. I first met Carmon through the Mustang-Burro list, a group of people who support each other through the challenges of adopting and working with Bureau of Land Management wild ones... she always has insightful information to share, and a great love of animals. Perhaps there will be something waiting at her website for gift-giving, to yourself or others, this holiday season.

Twice this year, I have turned to Carmon's site as the most readily available source of the Rainbow Bridge Poem... a comfort when my favorite little dog, Duncan disappeared, and when I experienced the death of another animal.

Here's Duncan, still with us last Christmas.. he was a loving dog, and a lot of work, like a high-maintenance friend that you love anyway, and I still find myself missing him.

I am lucky that my own five burros are doing so well. Here is the teenaged Assteroid.. our own little baby born from a wild mama at our place:

Assteroid enjoying the sun.

We are also entering the season where animals suffer from abuse and neglect, mainly as inappropriate gifts, but also because people don't want an "old" animal around during the party season, or don't want to locate care for their animals when traveling over one of the holidays. Perhaps you will be able to influence those around you to show greater compassion to animals this season, or perhaps you will feel moved to donate to animal charities... there is always a need, and with lots of other suffering and need throughout the world this year, in the form of natural disasters, these charities are hurting.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

As The Hem Turns

I have been greatly enjoying making something for myself... a winter hat from a pattern and yarn I bought at Black Sheep Gathering back last summer. The pattern was designed by Brenden Enright, owner of Curraheen Icelandic Sheep Farm, while the brown wool is from Elemental Affects, Judith MacKenzie's Shetland yarn coompany (although the website says "sport", the Rustic that I have is working up the same as a worsted). Maybe some of you saw their booth at SOAR...

I am having a delightful time with both yarn and pattern. The pattern mimics some of the most popular beanies found in snowboard shops right now, using a band of knitted cotton blend yarn instead of polarfleece, which is sewn in the commercial hats. I used the Sunsette yarn I featured in this week's Product Review for the band, starting with that portion... then switching to the Shetland and making a decorative band. Once I had knitted the same length of Shetland, it was time to join the hem together.

Ready to start the hemming process... the violet yarn will be the itch-free inner band, and the brown yarn is some lovely Shetland wool, the lower portion of the hat. I will pick up each cast-on stitch and knit it together with each stitch on the needle, to join the two with the violet ending on the inside.

A shot showing one stitch of Shetland and one stitch of violet rayon blend about to be knit together... I decided to photograph and feature this hemming technique because I am using two distinctly different yarns, on purpose, and it makes the photos much clearer. Don't you just love my plaid jammies?!

Viewing the partially joined hem from the inside.

Here is the bottom of the hat, once the hem has been completely joined, and a few rows knitted... you can see the violet peeking through the decorative bobble/eyelet section. Pretty slick, eh?

I think I am going to be pretty happy with this hat, and will make a second one for my DS, Cody. I still have three other hats to crank out, maybe this weekend, as well as more Cloths for Katrina. The batch of washcloths I have almost ready is going to be heading to Mather AFB, in Sacramento, where the local Volunteers of America chapter has refurbished former officers' quarters into temporary housing for refugees... what a great example of reusing/recycling. I may need to take a break from charity knitting soon, though, as lace is still calling my name, and I haven't given it the attention it is due.... ready to start turning that lovely alpaca yarn into something.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Product Review: Sunsette


Yarn name: Sunsette
Weight: Worsted
Size: 50 gram/88 yards
Fibers: 60% rayon, 40% acrylic
MSRP: $4.49 per ball

I discovered this yarn at the Reno Ben Franklin store, where there was far, far more than the usual Lion and Red Heart that this chain usually offers. The store was amazing, with cubbies of yarns separated by colors, featuring Debbie Bliss, Elsebeth Lavold, Rowan, Katia, Skacel, Plymouth, and loads of other brands generally only available at a dedicated yarn shop. I had dropped by looking for a violet cotton blend to use as the inner band for a wool hat... it has rained heavily several times here, the temperatures are dropping steadily, and snow is predicted tonight. I had also crossed over Yuba Pass the day before, viewing the first dusting of the season.. definitely time to pull out that Shetland wool I had been saving for a winter beanie.

Although the lighting doesn't do justice to the lovely shade of muted violet, it does capture the crinkly yet smooth texture of this springy, shiny, mostly rayon yarn. Posted by Picasa I had been looking for cotton with lycra, similar to the Schulana Supercotton I featured in a previous Product Review, but I have a great fondness for all things rayon, and find that rayon yarns have a warming property to them that cottons lack. I have already completed the inner (no-itch) band for the hat, and will post photos showing how this nifty technique (actually a turned hem) allows people like me, with skin too sensitive to wear wool around the forehead, can still benefit from a warm woolen topper for winter.

I really enjoyed the feel of this yarn as I knitted with it. It slides easily through the fingers, and has a gleam to it that would make an excellent tank top or cute little sweater for fancier wear. Sadly, Yarndex indicates that this yarn is being discontinued this fall, so keep your eyes out for it to appear at a great closeout price on Elann and other bargain vendor sites, and snatch up enough to make yourself a lush little sweater.

I am planning to feature the Shetland yarn, produced by a small, independent yarn company, in next Monday's Product Review, and also wanted to show you a real, finished object today:

My finished Jewels scarf, against the back of my winter jacket. Posted by Picasa

Dream Home

Do you ever wonder what you would do if you could change your life around to live in the house of your dreams? Where would it be located, and what would it look like?

This photo of our current "cabin in the woods", where my husband lived for 13 years, and our combined families for five of them, shows just how rustic our tastes really are. Located in the National Register Historic District of Forest City, about 15 miles east of our present main home, we still stay here frequently, except when deep winter snows block our access. Our driveway of about 400 yards uphill is not plowed in winter. My stepson Rex took this shot last week, and the fall light really comes through, but the leaves have already fallen from the two big black locust trees on either side of the house. Posted by Picasa

This boarded up house, located in the isolated Clover Valley, east of Beckwourth, California, is actually the type of place we dream of... I have always been fond of high mountain isolation, and living all those years in Forest City (I also lived there 13 years full-time, four as a single mom before my sweetie, Glenn and I were married) proved to me that I was "tough enough" and had the right frame of mind for such long-term self-reliance. Posted by Picasa

On Friday night, I met my DH at the Reno airport, returning from his 30 days of hurricane relief work. We spent the night, and did the city shopping things in the morning, then headed back towards Yuba Pass and home... nearing Beckwourth, we decided to take a brief detour to see the Clover Valley, which we both love. The area is still totally undeveloped, and the site of partial-year cattle ranching. We both love being in the trees, yet still surrounded by a large, open sky.

Only a fence line, a dirt road, and a large sky... my idea of heaven here on earth. Posted by Picasa

Looking the opposite direction in Clover Valley. Posted by Picasa

The house is actually a former Forest Service gaurd station, used until the 1980s, but now boarded up. There is a lovely campground nearby that is not heavily used. The house would not be that difficult to fix up, at least to us. Keep in mind that my DH has restored five old structures, including one lying partway on the ground, and I have been along for the ride for the past two. You start looking for straight lines and a lack of major architectural problems. Not that this one is available, but a person can dream....