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


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Monday Mountain Photos

I promised mountain photos, and here they are. This is view of the Sierra Buttes midafternoon on Friday. Still winter, with its fleeting light. I had this ready for yesterday, but the ferocious storm conspired against me, thrashing both the power and the phone line at my house... just part of good ol' mountain living!

This is a closer view... I was captured by the light on the one sunlit ridge, wishing in that moment to be up there, whether snowshoeing uphill or snowboarding down, in order to experience the warmth of the sun in the high mountains in winter.

In contrast, by yesterday, a storm was brewing off the Pacific coast, and our decision to go snowboarding proved to be more challenging than we thought... there were high winds at the top of the mountain, and strapping in for our first run was a fight to reach our straps while sheltering our faces from stinging snow crystals being kicked up. We took mid-mountain runs after that, and cut the day short when the clouds began piling in.

A storm descending upon Lake Tahoe yesterday in the early afternoon - note how choppy the water is.

This view is looking across towards the Nevada side of the lake from Tahoe Vista, but most of it obscured by the low clouds. Our drive home over Donner Summit was slow going, as light snow had begun to fall.... however, heavy rains up to fairly high elevations are what is expected until Tuesday, with the chance of flooding once again in the valley. Our mountains are nothing if not unpredictable.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mountain Star's Annual Mystery Quilt Weekend

Every late winter, my quilt guild hosts its annual Mystery Quilt weekend. For the past three years, we have been able to take over the Helms St. Charles Inn in Goodyears Bar and work to our hearts' content without disturbing any other guests; in fact, innkeeper Tami Helm, became a member and a great quilter herself.

The majority of the participants follow the instructions from step to step, not knowing the outcome until they get close to full assembly of their quilts. Others bring different sewing projects, and we all get a chance to catch up with each other, eat a lot of special food (this is also a bunch of good cooks), and relax from our normally busy lives.

I didn't get there until dinner, as I had badly wanted to put together my post thanking my Better Pal, Beth (see below). I was starving and joined in immediately in the feasting, then tried to settle down to a project, working on ribbed fingerless mitts, which should appear here later this week. I had brought along a quilt project, though, and after chatting around a bit, got to it. I had won a raffle of quilt squares made by fellow members last month, thanks to my dear friend, Lynn, who had made an extra one and stuck my name into the raffle pot... so I started with laying out the fifteen squares to come up with the "perfect" arrangement to sew them together.

My first attempt at laying out the squares was to try to create a flow of the color spectrum, with the reds and oranges at the top left corner, and the violets at the bottom right. It became obvious that 15 squares just wasn't enough to create the right visual impact.

I called in Lynn and fellow knitter/quilter, Linda, for advice and assistance, and we began moving the squares around, sticking with the same 3 squares by 5 squares row configuration. We also all agreed that we couldn't have the two pairs of identical ones near each other, so had a narrow range of options. It still took us about a half hour to come up with this arrangement:

Part of the way through the process, we realized that batik squares clashed pretty seriously with the floral fabric of the bedspread in our room, and I laid out the sashing fabric I intended to use. This picture shows the squares pinned to the fabric before we quit for the night, pretty sure that I would like it in daylight. I decided the most appropriate next step was to take a long soak in the tub in my way-cushy room and eat some chocolate.

A close up of my friend, Lynn, completing a Valentine gift for another guild member, after she had left for the evening on Friday... it was wrapped and waiting beside her sewing achine Saturday morning. This is a Japanese family crest appliqued in place.

This is the view that greeted me the next morning, when I laid the fabric on the hall floor, with daylight streaming in the window behind. I decided this arrangement was congenial, and then proceeded to add to those four squares that had turned out too small to "stretch to fit" and begin assembling the quilt top. It took me all day, but below is the assembled top:

Meanwhile, my fellow guild members were hard at work on their scrappy mysteries, which involved lots of strip piecing, cutting apart sewn sections, and reconfiguring... Mary J. was the first one to complete the mystery:

She chose oriental fabrics, which were strongly set off by her deep red background fabric. The patched border adds a rich dimension of texture and interest to her final quilt top. She was very pleased with the results.

Julia was also pleasantly surprised; she was trying to use up some very bright novelty printed that had been passed along to her, and they came together quite well... I liked the way denim feel of her border matched the child-oriented prints.

I also got a photo of Shelley's version:

I didn't stay for Saturday night and Sunday, so did not get photos of other results, but one of the best parts of this process is getting to see close up what different results the makers' fabric choices produce. JoAn was using Christmas fabrics, Renetta and her sister Sophia were both using the same scraps, but Renetta had chose a pale yellow background, while Sophia's was dark red, producing a very different feel in each quilt top. Mary W. was using batik fabrics with a black background, a combination that I really like a lot, as it makes a strong statement, and the batiks are greatly highlighted.

I always come away informed and refreshed from our weekends, and for my fellow Foothill Fibers Guild member-readers, want to put in a plug for the Inn, as it is a great place to have a quiet, off-season retreat. A Grass Valley scrapbooker held a retreat here in the fall that was as fun for the participants as our gathering to us. It is always a gift to share your passion with like-minded friends.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

And My Better Pal Is....


What a great haul! This is an overview of the contents of my last package from my Better Pal, who turned out to be Beth (and no, I hadn't figured it out - maybe I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, or maybe just not detective-minded!)

I want a whole box of these... notecards with pattern attached!

I totally love this very cute flower petal face cloth that Beth made for me, in true spring colors. The soap is a hand-made Cucumber/Green Tea blend that had the entire package smelling like heaven, and probably provided some aromatherapeutic effects on postal workers as the package made its way from New York to California... poor Beth used Priority Mail, but it still took a week to get to me - we might have been the pair the furthest apart.

Of course, you are all dying to hear the gory details about THE YARN. I feel truly spoiled with all this lovely stuff. She selected Berroco Ultra Alpaca in one of my favorite colors, a heathered lavender - it actually looks a lot like a field of the plants in bloom, a harbinger of spring. This is worsted weight and enough to make up a quick spring wrap or shrug; it feels so soft and I am sure you can expect a glowing Product Review in its future.

The forest green is from Garnstudio of Norway, and is called Silke-Tweed ... a lovely blend that is similar to the Elsebeth Lavold blend, but feels less inclined to split while knitting it... I first thought of fingerless mitts, as I am in the middle of a love affair with them, but actually, this lightweight yarn is well suited to something in lace, so I will have to give it more thought and planning.

The scrumptious spring green and turquoise blend, which carefully matches the facecloth, is a fabulous handpainted wool that feels so soft. It may have to just sit around looking beautiful, as that could be its best use for now.

Dear Beth also sent these cute notepads... you can't read it from here but one says: "What if the Hokey-Pokey is really what it's all about"... I think she got to know me pretty well over the past three months of blog-reading! I can't say how special this package made me feel... this has been a chaotic day in which I caffienated out of control through the morning pulling exhibits together, which I drove an hour and a half to deliver to our grantwriter for a grant that has to be mailed out tomorrow, and then managed to take the "long way" back to work... I really do know my way around, but the roads I would have normally taken in summer are closed during the winter and not plowed (remember, this really is the Sierras), and I always mess up my alternate route... now I am supposed to head off to our annual quilt retreat (luckily within walking distance from work, since it is almost dinner time and I am still not there), but I wanted to do Beth justice but putting up a grateful and gleeful post. It couldn't have arrived at a better time. New yarn is every bit as good at cheering one up as chocolate! I did stop to take a few nice mountain photos, which will be up later this weekend, as well as some girl-stuff from our retreat.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Odds and Ends

It has been one of those weeks where it's just work, work, work and the feeling that I am getting nowhere fast. Not only have I spun my wheels on projects that got stuck in a spot or two, and attended a meeting and had a few teleconferences that weren't as productive as hoped for, but I have also faced the same dullness in my knitting! What gives?

I did fix my goofs on the fingerless mitts and they are completed and ready to send (hopefully with three other pair) to CIC, but am facing the need to completely frog the gift stole from Softwist mixed with Metallic FX, after all, what was I thinking, an experienced knitter using size 35 needles for anything?! I was completely dismayed with the holey mess, as I already know that too-loopy knitting DOES NOT mimic lace, but rather gets snagged on everything. I am going to re-do this combo in size 17 or 19, still large (these two yarns are a super bulky combo when paired together) but with stitch definition and some structure...

I also tried to start a simple fingerless mitt pattern for myself from the beautiful Noro Blossom that my Better Pal sent me a few weeks back. I was mesmerized by the fact that the yarn looked greyish with flecks of several jewel-like colors when wound into a ball, but appeared a dark brown (with the same flecks) as I knitted it up... after a handful of rows, it became painfully apparent that this yarn was going to make up too large. I ripped and thought about adjusting the pattern down to child-size for my smaller-than-average hands, but it was already after 10 PM last night and the thought of math calculations that late at night was too daunting.

I will go ahead and confess here that I never swatch for small objects done in the round, considering that the most accurate swatch under those circumstances is the object itself... after a shorter or longer go at it, I will be able to measure and see if the gauge is working, and if I have calculated correctly in choosing my pattern, yarn and needle size, I will already be partly done with the hat, sock, or in this case, mitt. Unfortunately, this was one of the times when I was wrong.... sheesh, it happens.

My poor Better Pal is feeling daunted as well, having sent a package by priority mail last week, which still hasn't arrived. I am used to the vagaries of rural mail, and expect it will certainly arrive by tomorrow... a bright spot in a dull, achy sort of week.

I do have to say that I am greatly enjoying the readings for my writing class. I spent my most productive time in the past two days reading the selection from Wild Mind, by Natalie Goldberg due this week. She is also the author of Writing Down the Bones, which I will probably have to read soon. I like the way she writes about delving deeply to come up with what you need to write about, and like being, finally, at a place where I feel that I do have things to write about and the tools inside me to do a good job. She has also been practicing Zen and teaching writing for twenty-five years, and espouses using writing as a practice tool. The online learning format has become completely familiar to me, especially since I have been a Yahoo groups participant the past few years as well as a blogger... I would rather meet and work with people, but don't want to move to Pasadena or Oakland, kind of like it up here in the mountains.

Teaching and learning are also second nature, although I was a bit surprised to be offered some part-time teaching work for the balance of the spring semester... I will keep my cheerleaders posted on what comes of that. Personally, I had been inclined to just work in the mornings the rest of the spring, and come home and either garden, knit, or work with the donkeys, depending on the weather!

My darling daughter, and favorite shopping companion, Nikki and I pose in front of Jimmy Beans Wool in Truckee last summer. Yup, there's yarn in them thar' bags!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

New Button, New KAL

Those of you who have gotten to know me through my blog already know that I have had a sporadically regular involvement in charity knitting. I have knitted scarves, hats, baby blankets and washcloths for Cloths for Katrina, Red Scarf Project, Sedona Godmothers (now defunct), breast cancer support groups, and other charity endeavors. Well, perusing blogland early this morning led me to Annie, by way of Margene. Annie has sponsored a "40 Days for Others" knitting project to inspire charity knitting for the Lenten season (don't you think the button, above, is just beautiful?).

You can participate whether you follow this religious tradition or not, just set aside some of your knitting time between now and Easter for charity work. Marguerite's blog provided me with this link to the Children in Common website, which is one noteworthy recipient of your efforts, but those in need are all around. You can help in your local community or globally, depending on your interests. You could make washcloths to donate to the local battered women's shelter, socks for the orphanages that CIC supports, or vests, or you could make hats for Bad Rad Beanies (button to your left on my page here), which supports Big City Mountaineers in their efforts to take urban teens out into the wilderness, which is a very empowering way to combat the poverty and stress of inner city life.

My first contribution is a pair of Diamond handwarmers from a pattern created by Ruth:

The Diamond fingerless mitt - I have one done, and am "fixing" the other, to make it match.... seems I got a little carried away while knitting during a meeting the other day and added an extra two rows! The yarn is a worsted weight called "Tuffy" from Briggs & Little Mills in Canada, and is 80% wool and 20% nylon. It would make some great boot socks!

I am also finishing up an order for a felted purse this holiday weekend, well at least the knitting. My DH has installed a new floor to our antique back porch, in order to put a washer out there just for me to use for felting (we have a wash house on our property which we share with our tenants for laundry), but he will still need to plumb it next week, when he returns from a cycle of family visits.

My standard purse to sell has evolved into a bucket shape, narrower at the top with two shoulder-length I-cord handles and fun fur trim around the top... I can add a zipper for closing if the person desires, but tend to just put an I-cord loop and fancy button on the top for closure. This particular model is a nice silver-grey for a customer who wanted something neutral.

The sun came out for the afternoon, and we thought we would go to the lower foothills to seek a place for an afternoon hike, but while driving down through that country, switched plans and headed in a roundabout way to Grass Valley to shop for a knitting chair for me. My Christmas present hasn't ever arrived, and was supposed to encompass my birthday as well, and Glenn had decided last week that a special and comfortable chair would make a great make-it-up-to-me gift. I had thrown out an old upholstered glide rocker that was something like forty years old and had become very uncomfortable, and replaced it with the little chair up in my studio, but it too isn't that great for extended use (I will keep it and look into getting it reupholstered eventually). I discovered at the huge, but local, furniture store, that it isn't that easy to be 5'3" and shop for a chair... either the seat was much deeper (probably designed for a 6' tall man), straining my lower back and keeping my feet from touching the ground (remember being ten years old? now you get the idea!), or the arms were too wide, stuffed, or high to allow for comfortable knitting. I did find a very nice Arts & Crafts chair with wide wooden arms to set a mug or knitting tools on, and comfortable for my frame size, and it will get picked up and brought home later this week, when Glenn and our son Rex are returning from a visit to his parents.

It was just as well we hadn't planned to haul it home in our own truck; as we were heading out to Nevada City and parts north, we were caught in a snow squall, which had already dumped an inch on the highway in a very brief time, snarling traffic around a pickup truck on its side... an ambulance was on the scene as the driver must have needed medical attention. We took a detour around another accident scene a few miles up the highway, through a back road back to the highway north and drove out from under the storm, but tonight is colder than usual once again. The weather is set to become clear again this week, and it has been quite lovely with snow on the ground, but I was certainly reminded of how glad I am to be living where there is little traffic when the weather turns nasty.

Friday, February 17, 2006

D is for Daphne

My daphne bush is a great source of joy to us each early spring, as it blooms prolifically in February. If you are not familiar with this wonder of the botanical world, get to a garden center or botanical garden immediately, as one of the most heavenly fragrances on earth comes from this little shrub with the tiny, star-shaped rose-violet flowers. It is more intense than most blossoms, and one flower can scent the whole house.

The weather the past few days has once again turned cold, with the temperature dropping over 20 degrees in three days between Monday and Thursday, and light snowfall the past two days, unusual at this elevation. The valiant little bush has not suffered a bit, continuing to slowly unfurl its fragrant buds.

I had trouble last night with software and getting just one photo, in the right place, of my wonderful plant, but here it is!

When the days are mild enough, we open the doors to allow the fragrance to waft through the rooms, in need of a winter airing. This plant has moved from pot to ever-larger pot as it has slowly grown over the past six years, allowing us to move it into the deep shade during summer's Mediterranean heat, and out to a visible place where we can commune with it while in bloom. There is very little else visible when Daphne shows her colors, however that does not detract from her special glory. She is modest in size, her tiny blossoms tucked up amonst the leathery green leaves, but the flowers exude a certain vibrancy that has been sorely missed throughout fall and deep winter. A true harbinger of spring!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Product Review: Softwist


Yarn name: Softwist
Weight: Bulky
Manufacture: Berroco
Size: Bulky: 136 yds/100 gm (3.5 oz) ball
Fibers: 41% wool, 59% rayon
MSRP: $8.00 per skein

If you have been wondering what yarn to make your stylish spring/summer evening shrug from, this may be the one. This yarn has a wonderful texture, lighter than wool alone, and very shiny and smooth from the rayon content. It slides through the fingers and the needles with ease.

The bulky weight will allow you to make a lightweight wrap up very quicky, but you could also choose to make a cardi and the price for yardage will help keep the cost within reason. This would also make a lucious throw for your sofa, or a shiny spring handbag or hat. I have been making a very loose and airy wrap for a gift, combining Softwist with a strand of Metallic FX (to be featured next week), and the results are quite appealing... shiny but not over the top (use Bling Bling for that).

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Meme Challenge

I have not seen this meme floating around blogland, so I am tossing it out there to see what responses come up. I have challenged four people, listed at the bottom, who I know enjoy writing, in hopes that they will feel inspired and pass it along.

This is a poetry form, using the letters of your name ... you will pick a word or phrase that starts with that letter and also describes a quality about yourself. Have fun with this, and we will all learn new things about each other.

My name poem:

B eauty of the mountains surrounds me
I ntending to live an authentic life
R eady for fun
D evoted to my friends and family
S lowly drifting down river trails with a burro or two
O utdoors every day in all weather
N urture a few good works of art each year
G reat mother

I am tagging Margene, Lynette, Sallee and Carole with this one...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Wee Babe

As some of you know, I am taking a writing class as part of my post-grad program I started this semester, so you can expect occasional random posts like the following story about the birth of our conceived-in-the-wild, but homegrown burro boy, born May 18, 2004:

I remember when Assteroid was born... each morning I would be the one to get up early and go out and feed. We had only had April a few weeks, and even though we knew she was pregnant, we didn’t expect her baby for at least another month maybe six weeks. She wasn’t really tame yet, and although she would come up to us for treats, she was very timid. I always wanted to go to her first, to reinforce that contact with us, and because she had such a quiet, timid nature. I think she was already my favorite.

We had partitioned off our upper pasture for her, the one with the shed Glenn had build before we got our first donkey, Rose. That was to give her a private space while still in sight of the others. To get there, you walk out through a narrow, green alley of overhanging branches, then you are directly in front of the gate to the pen.

Suddenly, I noticed something was odd - April is a dark brown-black color, and there by her side was a pale grey miniature donkey, with still-wet curls of fluffy, downey hair! I shouted for Glenn.

He (we didn’t know it was a boy yet) had spindly little legs but was standing stoutly by his mother’s side, so pale and shiny next to her darkness. It was so unexpected, it was as if he fell from the sky (hence his name).

We wanted to check to see if girl or boy, so Glenn and I went into the pen. Mama was pretty defensive and almost nailed him with a kick because he got into a corner accidentally to close for her liking. Later, our friends came to help us clean his cord and just to sit around in lawn chairs and admire the wonder of birth in spring together.

First morning nap.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Great Things in Small Packages

This week so far has been a boon one for checking the mail... yesterday, I received my new pair of Dansko clogs, ordered from REI as my small part of buying Danish (see yesterday's post for details. I also received an envelope containing this:

There is a bigger story here, that of my dear friend, Lynn, who encouraged me to join Mountain Star Quilters (our Downieville guild) several years ago, and has the same passion about quilting as I do about knitting. Our current guild president came into office in October full of exciting ideas, and promised a great quilt square pattern to encourage everyone to make a square for a raffle at the January meeting. I only followed this process with mild interest, as I have given up getting my work to match anyone else's, even though I can produce fine, even squares of my own on occasion.

However, Lynn not only took this challenge to heart, but decided to make a second one as well as the first. On the meeting date, I was too sick to remember that it was guild meeting night, and was attending a meeting in the opposite direction to try to salvage something of the negotiations for our child care center. I learned the next morning, from fellow guild member Bette Jo, a nurse at our clinic, that Lynn had entered that second square and my name into the drawing and I had won! The square above is the most recent one received in the mail... I started with 11 from the meeting, then have received 4 more from members who made a square but didn't attend... all good-hearted, for as Bette Jo said when handing them over to me "Now you know I'm honest; I could have kept these for myself" (ha, ha). This one was made by Betsy, last year's president and a past featured quilter, with a fabulous eye for color. We have a Mystery Quilt weekend every year in early spring, and this year I will be assembling these fifteen squares into a finished top rather than making the designated mystery, so watch for details.

The third package last night was from my beading friend, Leslie, down in Dallas, who used to belong to our crafts co-op. She got excited when reading my post last week about starting a beaded knit piece (Mrs. Beeton fingerless mitts), and sent a dental floss threader, something that the bead shop I visited had never heard of, to help me get those beads onto my yarn, along with a few candies and the book and handmade bookmark... what a dear!

Have you read this book? What do you think?

Tonight was even better! My Better Pal had sent an email last week saying she had been late in getting free to go to the post office and mail my package, then was worried this week that it might have gotten lost along the way (I won't say what the postmark was, as I am still pretty much in the dark as to who my pal is, and don't want someone else telling me who figures it out). I am entirely delighted, as this package shows that my BP has been doing her homework... first off the colors were right in keeping with my favorites... two skeins of Noro Blossom, that look so much like the sari silk/wool blend I have been searching for, but I am sure are much, much softer.

The bottom yarn is the Noro, and you can see the pretty glints of colored silks within the worsted wool, but this photo absolutely does NOT do the yarn justice... maybe a $1,000 camera would.

a beautiful hand dyed mohair laceweight from a little farm in New York, not only in my favorite shade of purple (lavender, in case you can't tell from this shot), but also in line with my heart's desire to support small farmers and wool producers, and a nice chocolatey homespun... these will go very well with the new clogs, which are antique brown. I have been back and forth over the years in wearing "fashionable black" but have a deep fondness for browns of all shades, and probably look far better in them. The heavier yarns will probably do into a felted project, possibly the Entrelac tote, which would make a great decorative yarn basket. The lavender fingering yarn looks destined for a lace project!

My BP also sent me this delightful felt applique piece, which I originally thought was a scented mug mat, as it smelled of lavender, from the heart-shaped sachet underneath it in the package. My DH was feeling a little left out of the fun, until I promised to share the chocolates in the heart-shaped box with him.

What vibrant colors! My Better Pal called this a hot plate, but I don't want to put any goopy, messy pots on it! Maybe a mug of tea next to my desk at work...

What a lovely package!

Dou you think this good fortune can continue? Would I be more pragmatic to expect nothing but bills and junk mail tomorrow?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Product Review: Buy Danish

This week's Product Review is not really a review, as I will be telling you about products I haven't tried yet. The preface to this whole post is that we have been following the furor surrounding the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed for the past week and have been appalled at the huge escalation in violence that has taken place in the past few days. I have seen photos of all 12 original cartoons, and think it a shame that so much of the publicity has surrounded only two of them. There is even one cartoon, depicting a man, who could look like Mohammed, leading a donkey in the desert, that I actually thought was a very positive image. But then, I was raised a Catholic, surrounded by paintings and statues of Jesus and the saints, and that particular drawing reminds me of my childhood images of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey for Passover.

However, the mere thought of such an existence is blasphemous in the Muslim world, a culture vastly different than my own. The idea of rioting and killing, in order to seek revenge, that involves innocent people who had nothing to do with these drawings or their publication is also abhorrent to me, and antithetical to my culture, however defending one's honor and that of one's family is a paramount value in other parts of the world, right down to giving up one's own life. I was raised to believe in the rights of a free press and freedom of religion, and the resultant need to be tolerant of how and what others express, but those conditions are not part of absolute religion-based cultures. If you would like to read further about this controversy, check Michelle Malkin's detailed and well-researched blog.

Having said all that, I did decide that I would work to support the "anti-boycott", those in the US and Europe who are deliberately seeking out Danish products to support the Danes during this period where intense hatred is being aimed at them, as well as an economic boycott that may well drive Arla Foods, one of the largest Danish dairy products producers to bankruptcy. You can get a detailed list of Danish products here. They include Legos and Brio toys, Gevalia coffee and chocolates, and Tuborg beer, as well as Dansko clogs (of which I now own two pairs, and swear they are the best shoes ever).

What you won't find on those sites is the in-depth research that I have done for you in order to locate Danish yarn to purchase. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it did take a bit to find any direct sources. You can order Faroese wool directly from the islands through Sirri. This wool is from the primitive Faroese sheep and comes only in natural colors, in three weights for all your needs - it felts very well, judging from the many fulled and finished clothing items offered for sale. The one-ply would make for a very authentic Faroese shawl if you have been hankering to knit one. The Faroe Islands are considered one of the Nordic nations, even though a tiny bit of Scotland lies between them and Denmark and Norway, the Isle of Lewis.

If you are feeling a bit sorry for the Norwegians, bearing lots of the fallout for their neighbors, you can turn to Dale of Norway for some of the finest sweater designs and accompanying yarns available.

I did find some kits featuring the creative work of Danish knit designer Hanne Falkenberg on Ebay; they are really cool, but not cheap, and offer Shetland wool yarn (the Shetlands are in there in the north Atlantic puzzle, too, for those of you who are geographically challenged). Hanne is a knitter who took her own path; read about her here, and look through her site to view her unique, geometric designs.

My last find to share is actually free, a pattern for dollies from Viv Hoxbro, who also has some incredible shadow knitting designs available on her website. She is also the author of Domino Knitting and Shadow Knitting, and works with a U.S. company, Harrisville, to put out a line of kits.

I wrote this post to help myself understand the chaos swirling around as cultures clash, and to look more deeply at what other bloggers are learning and sharing, whether I agreed with their viewpoints or not... we have a long way to go.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Aah ... the weekend!

I am very grateful for the weekend these days, giving me a chance to catch up other other areas of my life than my two jobs. Yesterday was spent partially with volunteer responsibilities, but they took us to our other home in Forest City. There, the snow is about a third of the usual winter depth, but that allowed my neighbor Cheryl and I to take a great hike in the afternoon sun, a rarity these past few weeks. Our region is ahead by 20 inches of rain over the same time last year!

This is the view of Bald Mountain that we see looking north up the main street of Forest City. Most winters would find the mountain completely white.

And here we have a finished object! This is the same Versatile Scarf that I made earlier this winter, in a different weight, DK Cestari... the earlier version was a sport weight handpainted alpaca. I am delighted to have this scarf, which was beginning to feel terribly neglected as I labored away on my Ruffled Shawl, completed and ready to wear... and it looks pretty snazzy with this jacket, doncha think?

Mrs. Beeton has had to wait to be cast on; it did not happen this weekend. I read for my class that starts Monday, and spent some time on food preparation. This is Korean Kim Chi, which I made from scratch, using the recipe in Nourishing Traditions. There is a section on lacto fermentation that caught my attention, since I am not all that fond of eating raw foods, though I do recognize their superior nutritional value. I also made up a quart of Gingered Carrots. As for Mrs. Beeton, I did pick up a spool of bead thread so that I can go ahead and thread on the beads for my beaded cast on, and hope to get started on her this coming week. However, I DO have an order for a felted bag that I need to knit up, as well as a thank-you gift to make.... and a Ruffled Shawl to continue finishing up. I have a few more points on the edge to make before getting started on the red, ruffled edging.

The Ruffled Shawl with all the main body rows added, just before I started on the points, which form the foundation for the ruffled edging. I just love this color!

Aren't these darling? These napkins were a surprise gift from my fellow crafts co-op member, BeatyAnne, who makes knitted gnomes and tiny knitted sweaters to sell there, along with a host of other creative items. It is hard to tell from this photo, but these happy designs are in stockinette stitch! I just love a surprise, especially when a fellow knitter has decided to share something whimsy like these napkins with me. Made my day when I got the mail on Friday evening.

We also fit in a drive through the foothills this afternoon, and lunch out together. The hills are greening up quite nicely with all of this rain, but thankfully today was a bright and sunny one, with the feel of early spring, a welcome relief. We even noticed a large patch of daffodils in bloom under an oak at an abandoned homestead across the road from the restaurant where we ate... this road is the original stage road to the goldfields from Marysville and the oak must be several centuries old - a wonderful tribute to both nature and longevity.

I will close with this photo... not a very great one, but significant nonetheless. This little mountain is Fir Cap, as seen from the front gate of the children's center where I work. I look at Fir Cap several times a day, but was particularly taken to discover Friday evening that there was still a glimmer of sunlight on the peak when I was leaving for the day - a sure sign to me that days really ARE getting longer.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Not a Stashaholic

I have been reading with interest as some of my fellow bloggers have been dealing with New Year's Stash Diets... and I decided that this was not my problem. I have a respectable, but tame, stash, much of which is either left over from finished objects or purchased for a specific, and not-yet-abandoned, project. Even though I have been knitting for 45 years, I do not have much in the way of "old" yarn, since I tend to periodically purge what I won't use, including objects I have determined not to finish.

However, I do have a confession to make: I am a Bookaholic. There, I said it. I'm out of the closet, but somehow I am not feeling the relief I expected. Maybe it's because I was a "bookish" child (read: voracious reader). Maybe it's those years of academia, where I was surrounded by other bookaholics, all reassuring each other that it is ok to keep amassing knowledge, and therefore books. Maybe it's living with my intellectually-oriented husband, who can't bear to part with a book, be it 25-year old college anthro texts or manuals for vehicles we no longer have. Anyway, my favorite knitting chair is also surrounded by stacks of reading materials... always a few knitting magazines with patterns I am interested in, and copies of the two equine magazines I subscribe to, and a political journal or two, all waiting for me to find the time to catch up on my reading.

Then, there's the real books. Right now, I am reading Confessions of a Heretic Knitter, by Annie Modisett (really skimming the essay portions, as this is also a good reference book that I will be referring back to). I also keep a book or two of short stories going all the time, picking up and reading a story for "light reading" maybe once a week or so... my two going now are The Knitter's Gift (which was a gift to me), and Classic Cowboy Stories, edited by Michael McCoy. For continuous stretches of reading, like the other week when I was too sick to pick up needles, I am currently reading Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone: The Carter Family and Their Legacy in American Music, which I found on a discount table in Greenville, while visiting A Room of Yarn, which shares its location with a book store... I love the old time mountain music and am savoring my way through this book. Then, over the weekend, I picked up a copy of Nourishing Traditions at our local food co-op, finally breaking down and buying this tome that I told myself I didn't have the time to read during the fall and holiday season. Now that I will be employed less after next month, I will have the time and the need to do more home food preparation, so I have spent time each evening this week perusing recipes and making shopping lists.

Now, this probably doesn't look all that bad to you... however, I realized the severity of my problem when I arrived home yesterday to find two packages of books waiting for me, the purchases from last week's Interweave Press hurt book sale (of course, I had to buy these, they were half off!), and Jane Goodall's book, Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating, which I decided to buy while paying last months Working Assets bill (had to support such a good cause!).

This is verging on addictive behavior, especially in light of the fact that I have three books in the book stack for my upcoming Pacific Oaks class, Writing Our Stories, and two unfinished zen books, as well as the unopened biography of B.K.S. Iyenger, Light on Life.... when do I plan to read all of these books?! I have not mastered knitting and reading at the same time, and probably won't as I prefer the contemplative time I get in my life by knitting in silence. I still love to read, but only have a few leisure hours a day to divide between these and other pursuits .... help, I think I am drowning here....

Have a happy weekend all you stash dieters!