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


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Feeling Better, Thank You, and I'm Outta Here

Thanks, everyone, for good wishes to my recovery. I work at a clinic part-time so have the benefit of consulting multiple minds and offer this reminder - even the best job setting up a buffet, smorgasbord, or salad bar does not prevent cross-contamination of foods. There are times when you will take the chance and mostly be fine, such as at parties or weddings where all the food is set out at once, but there are other times when it would be best to order from the menu.

That travel tip was hard-earned these past few days. Tuesday was a blur of pain, chills, fever, restlessness, and bits of sleep. Yesterday being climbing back up the other side and spending a lot of time in the recliner meant that, while spindling would only make me dizzier, CeCe and I could become better friends. We had renewed our acquaintance over the weekend, and Monday night saw me assembling the parts to work my way up the yoke... those first dozen or so rows seem to take forever.

Then, I noticed yesterday that my fronts were uneven. I wanted to ignore this flaw, but knew it would haunt me every time I wore her. I also knew, that given my hazy state of mind, I would be tempted to throw her in a dark corner before ripping all the way back (actually, I would have carefully tinked). I decided to go online and take a look at Margene's and Dorothy's versions... I knew each of them had successfully finished and now loved theirs.

What did I do? Something fairly novel... I decided to isolate the part that needed to be converted from pattern to plain stockinette to match the other side (do you think I should have counted better in the first place, so both sides matched? do you think?!), and then treat them as droppped stitches and pick them back up. Ya know, it worked! I am so impressed with this lovely Rowan Calmer yarn, having the stretchy moxie to allow me to get away with this... it kept me entertained with my cleverness (am even more easily amused when ill and low on oxygen to the brain, obviously) and now I am starting to see some shrinking in row length.

CeCe will be accompanying me on my visit to Margene, Smith and the Great Basin Fiber Fair. So will my Trekking sock and my favorite spindle, and maybe a few clothes, but must leave room for fiber purchases. We leave in the morning! I am almost well enough to be excited, but still hope not to be too excited to get a good night's sleep tonight, as I am a little wiped out, and spent part of the afternoon on DD's couch between two of my jobs. My class is on Sunday, so Saturday I get to spend time with Laurie at her soap booth. And guess what famous SLC celeb is picking me up at the airport? Lacy Susan herself! I feel like royalty.

There will be no Saturday Sky on Saturday, but check out Margene's to see what I am ogling... I will have lots of photos when I return, and will be announcing a contest in honor of my 375th post, coming right up!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We Interrupt This Program For...

A brief illness. Yesterday was a long, aching, scary day of illness, beginning with what I thought was food poisoning, being awakened at 3 AM. Over the course of a day of fever and chills, I started to question my original theory and opt for the flu as the cause. I was particularly worried that I would have to miss my trip this weekend, and in the few moments of lucidity, managed to cancel work for last night and today, giving ample time for recovery.

You have all had those days where minor illness kept you home, but at least you could curl up on the couch and read and nap - maybe even knit a bit. Not so this time. Even sitting in the desk chair trying to read my email hurt. All I did was either sleep or try to sleep, as sometimes I was simply too uncomfortable... DH finally insisted on feeding me something late last night, which was probably good, as I was completely out of fuel. I woke this morning much clearer headed, and optimistic about careful recovery getting me to my plane on time.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Catching up

I have been feeling a bit introspective this weekend, watching summer wind down, and decided to take stock of some current projects:


Why have I been neglecting CeCe lately? She is such a pretty color and so super soft .... CeCe got off to a flying start, but I had to use my Palm to keep track of the pattern and increases, and never have made it to the intuitive stage with this pattern... on the other hand, when I put her aside to make Lily of the Valley, I just flew through the pattern. Now, if I were Carole, I would forge ahead, staying up late nights if need be, to have CeCe completed to wear to Great Basin this coming weekend. She is accompanying me to my shift at the crafts co-op later today, and I will see how I feel after spending some time with her again. But then, the reality is that I am NOT Carole - go visit her blog and check her progress in the Wing of the Moth Shawl Race; she set a handicap of finishing her Adamas shawl before even starting, and now that Vanessa has won the race in only two days of knitting (non-stop?), it will be interesting to see if she plunges ahead.

Me, I just have been running around too much, as well as doing a lot of spinning practice - yes, it does cut into my knitting time, but I am fine with that right now, since it is what I am choosing to do... there will be more yarn photos soon.

Four socks do NOT two pair make! (Or "Trek Along With Me" Revisited)

I started the summer taking on the project of learning to knit socks on two circs rather than the four DPs I had used for years... my first sock in Sockotta cotton above, just worked up to be too loose for real sock wearing, despite being "on gauge", a lesson to me that there is more to consider than simply matching someone elses' number. Did I rip out and start over... oh, no, of course not! Wanting to join in the action at the Trek Along KAL, I bought some Trekking yarn as soon as I touched down in Salt Lake City for my visit with Margene (she is such a lovely enabler), and started what turned out to be my first pair for the KAL (they are the ones that match, just in case you were wondering!). I enjoyed the first pair, finished by the end of July, and wanted to keep on taking photos of socks in great hiking locations, so started a second pair, using Mim's free pattern (sorry, Mim, I can't locate the download link on your new site). Things slowed down considerably at this point, as spinning took on momentum after I signed up for a class next weekend, and wanted to at least qualify as "advanced beginner", or maybe, possibly, "intermediate" spindler.

I was closing in on the toe of the first sock, happy enough to be able to have finished one pair by the Labor Day weekend deadline, when it hit me the other night that I was doing the toe decreases wrong... half as frequently as required to get that nice, round shape... Caution: Frog Pond Ahead!

A close up of the two problem socks; the Trekking pair will get finished up over the next few weeks, but the Sockotta will be ripped and put away till further inspiration strikes... this is a very pretty yarn, but I will be returning to wearing wool socks (which I do for about three-quarters of the year), and will probably save this yarn to make a pair of socks next spring.

Moving Forward

Fall weather means a change in more than just socks, and I have been wanting a slightly warmer cardi... this yarn came home with me Friday, destined to become Bianca's Jacket from the Fall 2006 Interweave Knits. I fell in love with the pattern, but it called for Muench Sir Galli, a silk worsted, that my LYS owner said has been discontinued... while we were searching through the shop to see what might work, I came upon this lush Inca Cotton. It appealed to my newly learned handspinning skills, with a thick and thin quality that experienced spinners say is hard to get back to, once you do lots of even spinning, and also to my years of tea-dying various fabrics and yarns for projects.

Now, both yarns are listed as worsteds, but me being me, of course my new choice is working up in swatches as much looser; this time I think it is the quality of the cotton yarn as much as it is my "loose woman" knitting style, so I spent last night recalculating and crunching the numbers to get the pattern to work with the yarn. I realized that "intuitive" works well for me the more involved I am in seeing the shape and intent of a project or stitch, and that all the number-crunching I used to do in drafting my own patterns was still tucked away there in the aging brain.

I just read an interesting overview of Adult Numeracy learning, that included a synopsis of one study of women engaged in knitting and quilting. The researcher learned that "The women's understanding and use of math emerged within contexts that were meaningful and pleasurable" - but you knew that already.

The other exciting news is that I was interviewed and hired on Friday to teach knitting to first and second graders at Yuba River Charter School, as part of their Waldorf-based handwork training program throughout the grades! I will be doing this on Monday and Wednesday mornings, working around the GED classes I will be teaching at our county jail... a good balance between children and adults, I think. My work plate is full now, and hopefully will meet my needs so that I can avoid further agonizing and searching. Special thanks to those of you who sent me support and love over the summer as I waded through the muck of transition and change.

This photo is for She Knits, who asked to see the donkey puppet I found when I met up with Becca two weeks ago.

Lastly, today is my beautiful daughter Nikki's 23rd birthday! She is just coming out of a more agonizing work transition than me, but it included moving closer to us and I get to see her a few times a week. She and I and her two crazy brothers, one older and one younger all had a celebratory Chinese food feast last night in her honor.

Among all her other good qualities, Nikki is always willing to visit a yarn shop with me. She rocks!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday Dawn

Dawn is coming later with each passing day, a sure sign of fall ... if you haven't read Shelly Thacker Meinhardt's story titled "Wild and Woolly" in the new fall issue of Interweave Knits, do so, soon (borrow a friend's copy if you don't want to buy the issue, since the story is a quick, one-page read). It is a tribute to both wool and the fall season, which brings those of us who knit back to dreaming of warm items to make and wear.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Q is for Quince

I have been fascinated by the quince ever since I was a child, when my father would routinely make quince jelly. A member of the Rose family, its botanical name is Pyrus cydonia, and it is one of the first flowering trees to bloom in early spring. When we purchased our property and drew up a permaculture plan for the small acreage, this was one of the first trees I wanted to include, planning to make jelly myself someday.

I also loved to read The Owl and The Pussycat to my children when they were little, with such terrific lines as "and they dined on mince and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon" (according to Wikipedia, author Edward Lear made up the runcible spoon for its nonsensical sound - darn, all these years I had been waiting to find one at an antique store somewhere).

Perennials, especially shrubs and trees, take longer than usual to establish here at Slate Range Camp, mainly because our soil is a heavy red clay low in nutrients. My tree is bearing fruit for the first time this year, although only a handful:

The quince is fuzzy on the tree, before ripe and harvested. My variety is a pineapple quince; there is also a variety that changes from yellow to red when cooked!

The quince has been under cultivation from very early times, and an interesting botanical history appears here.

Quince was believed to be very healthful, and legend has it that Mary, Queen of Scots, carried quince marmalade with her to ease seasickness when she traveled from Calais to Scotland, back in 1561. In a poetic aside, if you get the chance, read Bittersweet Within My Heart, a collection of the love poems of Mary's, who was less than a week old when she inherited the crown of Scotland, later was crowned queen of France, having married Dauphin Francis at age fifteen, but spent the last 20 years of her life locked in the Tower of London, Elizabeth I's prisoner... so much for family politics (they were distantly related).

You won't find quinces in the stores, but may be lucky enough to find a long-abandoned tree in your neighborhood, where you can gather the fruit and try the recipe listed on the above link for Quince Marmalade.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Saturday Sky - On Monday

Saturday's sky is late this week, as we went camping over the weekend, after both needing to work in the morning. We are lucky to be able to get into very private little lakes, the Tamaracks, with only about an hour's driving from Downieville, and shared this spot with only another pair of campers and their pooch, who we only met briefly.

My Saturday sky featured mostly blues, with white, puffy cumulus clouds through the afternoon, over beautiful Upper Tamarack Lake.

Glenn standing on a large boulder overlooking the east side of the lake.

This water pump brings spring water into the Pack Saddle campground.

We spent Sunday morning hiking, more like bushwhacking and cross-country, as I helped my DH search for old trails that could be re-opened. I did take a brief dip in the lake to cool off, then relaxed and read while he explored further. I had my spindle with me, but it was a bit too windy for spinning.

Heading home, we took the Jeep down the face of the Sierra Buttes, on a road that really hangs to the edge of the mountain, ending our trip with an early dinner at Bassetts, a local restaurant famous for their burgers and shakes.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I Belong in Dublin

OK, I don't normally cop out and offer up even one meme, let alone two in a week, but somehow my back started a muscle spasm thing this morning that has lasted through the day, and I have to go back and get in "legs lying up" position, which precludes either spinning or knitting, and makes reading a weird experience, holding something over my head. I am sure it has to do with stress and driving over 100 miles three different days this week, while trying to put together a new work schedule... I got this one from Sallee, although she belongs in Paris:

You Belong in Dublin

Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.

You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.

Thanks for all the compliments on Lily, and to Sharon for sending a much clearer photo, which I will post next... I love this shawl and will be starting a variation, the shawlette featuring scallops and the lilies as an edging, featured in the fall 2006 issue of Interweave Knits. There may not be much posting about it, as it will be a surprise gift, so my updates will have to be written-only till mid-October... someone is going to be very lucky and very happy. Have a great weekend. Back to the floor for me...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Lily of the Valley Revealed

Here she is... my Lily of the Valley, done in Textiles A Mano cotton/rayon (I have misplaced the trade name).

I absolutely love this shawl, and so did the members of my quilt guild when I showed it off at our monthly meeting last night. The pattern looks much more complicated than it really is, and after the first set, I had determined that I could readily follow it. It made up quickly, and I want to try some variations again soon. The photo was taken by Sharon at the fair on Friday, but when I sized it up so you could see better, I lost even more quality than the original low light conditions. I need to do a real photo shoot to do her justice, but wanted to quell the rising rumors that she didn't really exist... I might have imaginary friends but I DO have a real shawl, which is a delight as the nights have taken on a bit of a chill, moving towards fall.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Things I Have Done In My Life

I saw this meme a few times in the past week, most recently at The Knitty Professor's, and decided to share a little private information with all of you. Tomorrow, I will be introducing my Lily to the web world, so stay tuned.

Things about me, I have:

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it - yeah, like every day!
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower -my record was over 300 shooting stars at one sitting
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow - do 50 goats at once count?
56. Alphabetized your cd's
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark

88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an illness that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream (every day)
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146: Dyed your hair
147: Been a DJ
148: Shaved your head
149: Caused a car accident
150: Saved someone's life

Monday, August 14, 2006

Friends: Virtual or Imaginary?

When you were a little child, did you have an imaginary playmate? Someone who would always keep you company and share your secret thoughts and dreams? Brothers began to be deposited on my doorstop but some animal I had never seen, called the "stork", starting when I was 16 months old (3 of them by the time I was four, including a set of twins!), so I never really had the chance to develop any imaginary playmates - there was an abundance of real ones around all the time.

However, as an adult living in a rural area, raising a family of my own, I often wished there were more opportunities to develop friendships with like-minded people to "play" with... I had some hiking buddies, and always enjoyed the big parties where the grrls could get together and catch up on each others' lives, but until I joined the knit blogging community a few years back, didn't really have the companionship of "fiber-soulmates".

The Internet is a wonderful medium, allowing us to learn about a wealth of new ideas and I have been able to expand my fiber pursuits greatly. I started out wondering if I was publishing into a void, only to discover gradually that I really did have readers... but were they real? We each have our two-dimensional persona that comes through in what we choose to post, sharing parts of our creativity and bits of our everyday lives as well, but I had never met any of the bloggers in person, or talked to them on the telephone, until last fall, when Sallee helped me learn Quick Books, involving lots of email and a couple of emergency telephone calls... she had a voice! It was a bit deeper than I would have pictured, but every bit as warm!

Then, this spring I made plans to go to Estes Park along with Margene and a carload of people, and was met at the Salt Lake City airport by her and Carole, later having dinner with Susan. These people were real, and very much like old friends. Even better, over the course of the weekend I met bloggers I had read, such as Laurie, and others I hadn't discovered yet, including Kristi and Jen. It was a giant slumber party/reunion, and a little voice inside my head commented "See, they really are REAL!" (kind of like how I thought of fairies when I was a child, and just as magical).

I feel especially blest this weekend to have had the chance to meet three more knit-bloggers: Amy, Sharon and Becca.

I wrote about my fun time at the Nevada County Fair with Amy and Sharon, and you can see more of the great fiber displays, plus views of our beautiful fairgrounds, on their blogs. You could also make plans to head over to the Nevada State Fair, where Amy will be in charge of assembling the textile displays and keeping them staffed, just as Beryl and Igor have for our guild the past week plus.

Yesterday, I drove over to Graeagle to meet up with Becca, whose parents have a vacation home in Portola to the north of our meeting place, at the Outpost where we sat on the deck with coffee, happily knitting in public and getting to know each other a bit more. Becca lives in Berkeley, which couldn't be further from my daily reality, but I grew up in Sacramento and it was visits to Berkeley as a teen college student that spurred my further interest in the fiber arts. She brought me delightful chocolate, and showed me her yoga bag WIP, made in a linen/modal combo that I really liked, while I worked on the toe of my first sock of my second pair of Trekking socks... and then we browsed through the shops together, having a wonderful afternoon and each finding treasures. Becca found a pair of lovely bud vases at an antique store, while I snatched up a furry Donkey handpuppet (how could I resist?). Alas, there are no pictures, as I was tired from the evening of revelry at the wedding Saturday night, and didn't think to ask perfect strangers to take photos for us. However, I did confide as we parted that it was very reassuring to know that my virtual friends really were real, and not just in my imagination!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Here is my Saturday Sky, also featuring one of my gladioli in bloom right now, giving me great joy each time I catch a glimpse. Such a noble flower, heralding the height of summer for us.

Spinning At the Nevada County Fair

I have been complaining about missing summer whizzing by, but when to sleep happy last night, having spent the day at the Nevada County Fair, a distinctly summertime pleasure. I had free admittance and parking, as a demonstrator for our guild, which watches over the display at Sugar Pine Lodge, of some of the fibery entries and displays. There is also a large textile display of quilts, embroidery, knitting and crochet in another building, as well as 4-H exhibits, livestock, and gardening exhibits, along with the usual midway and fair food, and still today and tomorrow to attend.

Although this photo absolutely does not do it justice, here is Amy's hand-painted Ashford Kiwi wheel, making its world debut at the Nevada County Fair, where our Foothill Fibers Guild has staged demonstrations in spinning, weaving and knitting throughout the fair's five-day run.

Here, Amy is spinning some of her "life-time supply" of fiber.

One of the best parts of being a demonstrator was watching the very young take an interest in the fiber arts. Children were fascinated with spinning, and I could honestly tell them that I had only been using my intriguing spindle for two weeks and here I was producing yarn from lambswool. Several children took to spinning like ducks to water, and these lovely little girls were engrossed with the rigid heddle looms.

Sharon had gotten this young man hooked on spinning; he headed over to have Jan teach him how to use her Turkish spindle when his aunt (a year younger than him) took his place at the wheel.... she was a natural and we sent them both home with instructions on making a CD spindle, resources to check on the web and a bit of practice fiber.

I believe that children are just yearning for the chance to touch real fibers and find their hands at work, making something, a chance that is sorely missing in their daily lives and our current mainstream educational experience. I also greatly enjoyed the conversations I had with children, wearing "Mutton Buster" t-shirts about the snakes painted on Amy's wheel, or the mechanics of spinning wheels, or how they did in the animal competitions with the goats, sheep or pigs they had raised.

And a very entertaining and educational display about silkworms and spinning silk.

Here, Jan is showing Amy how to wind off her spindle to get set up for Andean (also called Peruvian) plying... their hands are too fast for my lens!

The competitions included fleece and spun skeins.

A display of entries

The best part of working at the fair was getting to know Sharon and Amy better... we had discovered each other through blogging, and they have been friends and members of the Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers, I had never met either in person. They were both so delightful and invited me to attend their guilds retreat/camp-out at the end of September, so it is on my calendar now... Sharon and I share a passion to get a different color than yellow from natural dyeing and Amy is a very skilled spindler, along with her magnificent production on her four wheels. She was able to point out some postural adjustments to my spinning technique that would make it more ergonomic and more effective at producing yarns, as well as gave me lots of encouragement yesterday, as I worked my way through about an ounce worth of CVM x Merino lambswool, a lovely thing to be spinning on a soul-satifying summer afternoon at the fair.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Updates and Things You Might Not Know

Lily of the Valley

Those following my progress on this shawl have come to love her as much as I do... the Textiles a Mano cotton/rayon yarn is very shimmery and drapey, and it looks like she will be done and ready to accompany me to a Saturday evening wedding, a high school friend of DD's is marrying into the large and fun-loving family of an old friend and former co-worker - what could be the makings of a better party?!

The edging pattern from Jean Schrouder is just the perfect finishing touch for my Lily, except that I decided I didn't like the swallowtail effect at the bottom center and am going to redo my corner-turning to have one large point. My fervent hope is to finish the edging tonight, so that I can steam-block the shawl tomorrow and take her to the County Fair with me on Friday, so that Amy and Sharon can meet her in person. Although really, I am more looking forward to meeting them in person and to getting to see Amy's just-completed spinning wheel... a hand-painted treasure that you must go and see right now.


Now that you are back, I can show you a spindling update:

Here are my two, contrasting spinning accomplishments - the big, red ball on the left is obviously my beginnger yarn, a Blue-faced Leicester hand-painted roving full of tights and looses, bumps and lumps. The turquoise yarn on the spindle is so much more even! Though I had tried to spin it before I knew what I was doing wrong, and cast it aside in disgust, when I went back to this roving after finishing all of the red, and tried again, it slid through my fingers like a dream, giving me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Still not anything fancy, but there is definitely hope.

What I have learned from spindling so far:

1. It really is essential to prepare your fibers first; I discovered most of the way through the red roving that I needed to divide it into thirds, rather than the halves my teacher had suggested, to have smooth results.

2. The hands really do try to remember their ancestral memories, and you just have to be patient and let them.

3. The connection between brain and hands cannot be overlooked, either, which is why reading about spinning and observing others spin is so valuable... at some point the brain is going to remind the hands: "remember, when ... was pulling the fibers just so (or pinching just so, etc.)", and the hands are going to move into position adjusting to the brain's advice, and see that they have found their way further along to the results they are seeking. I also noticed that, being tool-using primates for so many, many centuries, our brain tries to help us accomodate things like disabilities, and still be able to use our hands. One of my GED students was practicing diligently last night for her math test today, and seemed a bit embarrassed that I observed she was counting on her fingers while re-checking an answer... too bad I didn't think to tell her till later, working on this post, that we were given brains and hands for a reason, and they should be put jointly to use.

4. It is perfectly ok that spindling is a little slower; after all, what's the hurry? Better to enjoy what I am doing, sitting in a more ergonomic posture than I am able with the wheel, and even eventually being able to walk around while spinning. I have noticed that blogging can make me (and maybe some of you) a tad bit competitive about my knitting achievements, wanting to keep up with the KALs, be amongst the first to make the next great new pattern. Really, this isn't all that different than rushing out to buy the fall fashions shown in Vogue or Glamour.... and spindling has helped to ground me. Yes, there IS one sweater in Interweave Knits that I want to make and wear this fall, but I am thinking now in terms of what will go with my lifestyle and the clothes I already am planning to wear this fall and winter as I search for the yarn, and holding back from the temptation to plan a huge multitude of projects I probably can't humanly expect to get to before my desires change once again.... and enjoying the increasing speed and skill I am developing on the spindle.

Where am I still stuck?:

1. I still occasionally have the yarn break, although now I can tell in advance if I am heading towards too thin or too unspun, both conditions which could lead to a break, and can mostly make a correction to prevent it.

2. I have found that winding on past half full or so on my spindle affects the balance and the first half usually goes better - now I need to learn what to do about this!

3. I am still going in fits and starts, although getting better spin on the spindle, and quicker draw, and uptake. I need to learn what will make the entire sequence flow more smoothly. Which is where Amy comes in - she has offered to watch and give advice while we are working at the fiber guild's fair booth.

Other Random Things You Need to Know

I am sick. Well, maybe you don't really need to know that, but a summer cold/sore throat thingie snuck up on me yesterday, making me quite miserable by evening, overnight, and this morning. Neena's recipe for a detox bath sounded appropriate, but I didn't have the ingredients, so I used some bath salts I had with ginger and mustard in them, and it may have helped. I went to work, but only briefly, and am resting up this afternoon.

The peaches and figs are ripe around here!

The kiddos got successfully moved over the weekend, and DES called while I was preparing to drift off to nap-land, to tell me he got the job he interviewed for yesterday, as Front Desk Manager at the Northern Queen, one of the prettiest hotels in Nevada City. Now, cross your fingers that DD will have equally good news about her application as a preschool coordinator, and that I will be hired as handwork teacher...

Lastly, animal lover that I am (and DD adored pandas all the while growing up), I had no idea that their babies were bright fuschia. Check this out.

Monday, August 07, 2006

P is for Produce ....

Local, that is!

We are in the midst of the season of glorious, riotous abundance here in California, as evidenced by this pile of massive tomatoes at the Oroville Farmers' Market Saturday morning. The California of my childhood was the breadbasket of the nation, and even though we now import much of our food, I can still drive past fields of rice, sunflowers, beets, tomatoes, strawberries, orchards of almond, peach, plum, nectarine, pluot and more trees, all favored by the hot summers of our Mediterranean-style climate.

The Sacramento of my college days was in the process of renaming itself "River City" , trying to get away from the "Sacratomato" moniker that resulted from the strong smell of cooking tomatoes that lingered over the city throughout August and September each year as the canneries put up the harvest... I still get nostalgic smelling blanching tomatoes or cooked pasta sauce.

Farmers markets and small market gardens and family farms cannot compete with the large-scale industrialization of agriculture, but have definitely gone through a resurgence in the past decade, with every medium-sized town having at least one designated morning or evening a week when fresh produce markets are set up. Chico, Nevada City and Grass Valley have expanded this concept to host an evening of entertainment each week in conjunction with the farmers market, bringing people and culture back together on the streets.

A vendor arranging flower bouquets, for sale next to a large pile of pattypan squash.

The small growers are working to preserve and bring to people unusual and heirloom varieties of tomatoes, and speciality items not found regularly at the mainstream grocery chains. I saw lemon cucumbers, yellow watermelon, japanese eggplant, and six different heirloom tomatoes, along with a variety of herbs, at the various farm stands, and chatted with a young man who is growing 20 different kinds of vegetables on his one-acre plot, which is about what one person can manage to tend to alone!

Summer is also about babies, as evidenced by these two swallows, about to fledge from their nest above the door to my friend Cheri's antique shop in downtown Downieville. I know it has nothing to do with the letter "P", but couldn't resist sharing the shot.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Oak Woodland Sky

This Saturday's sky, posted on Sunday, was taken on the way to Chico yesterday morning to help DD and DES move to Grass Valley. I will be happier to have them closer, but have loved the part of the drive that takes me through oak woodlands that still relatively undeveloped.

I tried for "Big Valley Sky", as there are views of the foothills heading down into the Sacramento Valley, but the air quality is trash right now, with heat, smog and high ozone levels all working against me. Then, in the late afternoon, huge cumulus clouds were building in the Sierras to the east of Chico, but I deemed it unwise to try to take a photo while traveling somewhere between 50 and 65 mph, carrying a load on the truck, and in the middle of our three-car caravan... sorry, there is only so much I will do for all of you!

Today is being spent on catching up at home, on laundry, spinning practice, reading, lounging... I let them borrow the truck for the last load.

Some of you might have noticed that Great Basin Fiber Arts Fair button at the top... turns out that a tiny bit of fortune smiled upon me last week, allowing me the luxury of signing up for the Advanced Spindling class being offered there on Sunday, September 3rd, along with Margene and Susan (and Kristi?). I sent in my registration and bought my plane ticket, and now I am madly practicing so that I will be at least intermediate-level (I am taking the class as part of my strategy to become advanced, you see). Let me know if you will be there... I will not be taking a Saturday class, but will be tagging along with Margene and Susan, who are taking a dye class that day, shopping, practicing my spinning, taking photos of animals, and all the other great fair activities, and want to plan a blogger meet-up, if possible!

Amy, Sharon and I are all going to meet at the Nevada County Fair this coming Friday - they are the bloggers closest to me, besides Sara; I am always amazed when I read about some of you who get to hang out with your blogging buddies frequently in real time as well! Amy has been working on a marathon job of painting her new Ashford Kiwi wheel in designs based on traditional Mexican folk art, go take a look - it is simply incredible!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Things you may not have known about me.....

Thanks, everyone, for ideas for finishing the Lily of the Valley (and all the kind compliments - I love her too). I will be knitting on an edging pattern that Sara got from a class she took with Jean Schrouder, but probably not until Monday, since I will be helping DD and DES (as in eldest- I knew you were wondering) move to their new apartment over the weekend - I am providing the truck but they have to provide the muscles (and the pizza and beer, Kat suggests - oh, and she has great Eye Candy up today).

This has been floating around Blogland for a bit, and usually I just plain resist. However, my dear, blogless friend Danna emailed it to me and I really enjoyed the new things I learned about her, even though we have been friends for over a decade, which prompted me to post it here. If you haven't done this yet, think about letting all of us know a bit more about YOU! Have a great weekend.

A) Four jobs I have had:

1. Nurse
2. Goat milker
3. Childbirth educator
4. Teacher in both preschool and high school

B) Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Pirates of the Caribbean
2. A Christmas Story ("you'll shoot your eye out")
3. Milagro Bean Field War
4. Paint Your Wagon

C) Four places I have lived:
1. Ashland, OR
2. Lake Tahoe
3. Menlo Park, CA
4. Forest City, CA

D) Four TV shows I enjoy watching:
1. Deadwood
2. Mosaic (on Link TV)
3. Cast Iron Cooking (on RFDTV)
4. Trading Spaces

E) Four places I have been on vacation:

1. Calloway Gardens, Georgia
2. Niagra Falls
3. Lake Tahoe
4. Seaside, Cannon Beach and Astoria, OR

F) Websites I visit daily: (or semi-weekly)

1. Email
2. Bloglines
3. Zeneedle
4. Carole Knits

G) Four of my favorite foods:

1. Red peppers
2. Chocolate
3. Broccoli
4. Peaches (or is it blackberries, or figs - any fruit that you only get to really enjoy when in season a few short weeks!)

H) Four places I would rather be right now:

1. Next to a high Sierra lake
2. touring the Rockies
3. Cuba
4. home in Forest City, practicing spinning

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Lily of the Valley Update

I have both very exciting news and a knitter's dilemma to share. First, the good news, as these photos will show, is that I finished the body of the Lily of the Valley Shawl... this pattern is very easy, once you get the rhythm of it, and I want to try it again with a laceweight wool and slightly smaller needles to see what happens. My version is a cotton/rayon, probably fingering weight, from Textiles a Mano.

This photo shows closer detail of the lily of the valley stems, and the bobbles that make the flower clusters. It also shows the top edging, a nice wavy edging, from Edith Haller's pattern.

I can't believe it, but between the first photo, taken at mid-afternoon yesterday, and late last night, I completed the body of the shawl! The early morning light in my family room relies on rather dim bulbs, but I wanted to show Sylvia the actual size for the medium version. Look at that drape! I was a trifle worried that this fiber combo would slide right off my shoulders, but now I think not.

I need some help and suggestions from everyone... the pattern came from an issue of Spinoff a few years back, and Edith Haller, the elderly lady who made hundreds of these, knitted an edging for the bottom of the triangle and then sewed it on, to match the knitted edging that is the shawl's beginning up at the top. I don't know about the rest of you, but I simply cannot imagine the sense of knitting it, then sewing it on, when I could be picking up stitches and working an edging that was complete when bound off (do I need this for structural integrity? - the bobbles add greatly to keeping the large needle/fine thread combo from stretching out too much).

I would have to reverse the rows (and think my way through that first, so I don't make a lot of mistakes). Another option is to do a different knitted edging (check out this one that Sara is adding to her current shawl project - Sara, would you email the directions?), also by picking up the stitches around the two bottom sides of the triangle. The shawl will sit over the weekend while I ponder my options. Please, give me some suggestions!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Presents?... For Moi?!

I have felt particularly blest the past few days, somewhat swamped in gifties...

First, I picked up Saturday's mail and there were not one, but two, wonderful magazines to go home and gobble up: Interweave Knits, and the first issue of my recently purchased subscription to Spin-Off. How delightful! I greatly enjoyed the article about Annie Modisett, as I admire her fierce sense of creativity (a Knitting Boudica comes to mind), and have already downloaded her Morris Fern Cardigan from the subscriber section of the website, as I love William Morris' designs, and can certainly relate to being inspired by him... this would be a capstone project to my knitting career, but I will "work towards" it! I also plan to make the Swallowtail Shawl (I would call it a shawlette) for a friend, since I already got the exact yarn called for while back at Estes, and would love to make Bianca's Jacket for myself for fall...

Spinoff was the summer issue, which has been out since June, but that was just fine with me, as I hadn't gotten it yet, and wanted to have the Estonian puppet patterns, even though I will probably have to make them from commercial yarn, as it will be quite a while before my own yarn reaches that fine quality. There is a wonderful article by Judith MacKenzie about plying and another great one by Julie Beers about adapting to having MS and still pursuing the arts of spinning and knitting for the soul satisfaction they give; although the accomodations took time and thought, the pleasure eases the pain of her illness- very inspiring to me.

DD approves of Interweave's policy to send out the subscriptions first, before you can pick up the magazine at the newsstands... we both have resented over the years the trend to make sure the flash and glitz is out there, while neglecting your subscription base. Just sayin' ...

Then, Saturday evening, DH returned from the Heart fire complex down in Southern California, bringing me this lovely book; this time he worked as a fire line archaeologist.
The photos are awesome, and I was glad that he took a break in Bishop, one of our favorite Eastern slope (of the Sierras) towns to stretch his legs, get a coffee beverage and comb through the great local bookstore there.

But the best gift came on Monday, when I opened a package locker at the post office to pull out this:

My Knit Sock Swap Kit! Assembled by Kat, who lives in the dubiously tropical-sounding town of Jamaica Plains, it
includes a fabulous felted bag (see closer-up, below for more accurate color portrayal), a Fiber Trends sock pattern and the necessary long Addi Turbo to make it with the Magic Loop method, some wonderfully-colored merino/tencel hand-dyed yarn, goodies (Cranberry Bog Frogs are most excellent, and there was dark chocolate, tea, and a little Maple Sugar Man), and very useful tools:

Note the little box... it is really a tape measure! There are also cucumber eye patches, for when my eyes get tired from knitting so much... she thought of everything. I am completed spoiled and delighted, and thanks so much, Kat. This turned out to be such a fun and entertaining swap - hats off to Scout again, she sure comes up with good ones.

Fabulous felted bag, nestling among pots on the plant table, with way cool yarn poking out.