Friday, July 31, 2009

My first pattern!!!

It's finally come to fruition. I designed a sock pattern quite awhile ago, but haven't had time to knit it all up. I played with it to the point that I knew it worked, and I knew it was going to look the way I wanted it to, but I just didn't have time to knit it. So I recruited a couple of folks from The Testing Pool on Ravelry, and I now have real, original socks. The pattern is called Paw Tracks, and I will get it up on Ravelry hopefully before Sock Summit. I plan to give it to customers who shop with me at Sock Summit too. Look how cute!! Chanel thinks so too...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Secret Pal Swap

So I got my July package from my Secret Pal yesterday. I think I've figured out who she is too!!! The box contained 11 balls of some super yummy baby pink cotton that is such a perfect color for me. Some cute stitch markers and some cute odds 'n ends. The 3 balls of wool are a wonderful shade of pinky tweed and will be perfect for charity knitting projects! Our Benicia store is reopening hopefully in September and I'll wait to see what the next project is, and I'm really hoping it will be hats again because this yarn will be perfect for hats, or possibly afghan squares. Will have to wait and see!! Anyway, Ruth, thank you for the package and for taunting me. I'll see you next week at Sock Summit!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sock Summit Prep...nearly done! maybe

The process for getting ready for Sock Summit has been intense. Exhilarating. Creative. Fun. Exhausting. Anticipation. And much more...

It's winding down. My goal was for this week to do no dyeing. At all. That whatever I'd dyed through Saturday 7/25 would be it. I'd then get it all skeined, packed up in the suitcase Sheila is taking for me on Southwest and the rest in my trunk. And then the Dye for Glory voting started. Creating some special flavors for that event has proven to be quite successful. Witch's Brew is by far the front runner in my Etsy shop now. I dyed an extra 40 skeins just to fill orders and make sure I had some to take with me to Sock Summit. I've got a little yarn store in Utah asking for some too that they can sell during the Halloween season.

Portland's Passion has done well too. I had to make another 20 or so skeins of it to make sure I had some to take to Sock Summit. It would be rather weird to get to the summit and have none of the yarn that got named 'specially for the event!

This is all so amazing to me. I knew when I started this that I had some great ideas for different flavors and I was sure I could make 'em pretty enough to want to buy. But the response has been tremendous. And now I'm worried that I won't have enough for Sock Summit. But I'm not going back in the kitchen right now! Can't do it...too much else to get done.

On the to do list for today: make signage. Laminated menus to be placed around the booth so people know what stuff costs. Time to get off the blog and get that done! If you hear snoring, you'll know that I fell asleep trying to get the signs done.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two posts in one

But I can't resist! I sent some yarn to my friend Nina in OH to test knit some socks for me for display. OMG they are just too cute. The pattern is by Anne Hanson and is called Summer Fun Socks. They're perfect for my yarn because the pattern is little ice cream cones!!
Root Beer Float, and Sprinkles. It's obvious which is which.

How did this happen?

I'm not sure how I ended up here. This is my daughter Lissa who turned 21 at 1:19 this morning and I'm just not quite sure how she got to be 21 already. What have I accomplished in the past 21 years? A quick look at where I was then and where I am now...well...I've accomplished quite a bit. But enough about me. This is her day!

Her birth was (relatively) peaceful. My doctor had gone on vacation so his partner got to play the role of Johnny Bench at the end of the delivery bed. She went from me into a warm bath and all was quiet and well. Then once she was home she screamed for the next 4 months. Sleep deprivation does really weird things to new moms. And the people who live with them. And the neighbors.

Lissa is low-functioning autistic. She lives in a wonderful group home with 4 others about her age. They don't interact much, rather co-exist. What can that co-existing teach the rest of us? I want the bumper sticker that says, simply, co-exist using all the different symbols of religions, political beliefs, races, etc. I don't want a bumper sticker on my car bumper, but I'll display it somewhere.

Back to the topic. So she's 21, and celebrated in grand fashion with balloons, talking Elmo toys, lots of pretty clothes, and of course cake and ice cream. This cake should be called death by chocolate. Chocolate cake, chocolate mousse filling, and chocolate icing. Give me a teaspoon or so of the chocolate mousse and I'm good. I bought 2 different kinds of ice cream and the kids devoured it. Ice cream is reserved for very special occasions. I have to say that this 21-year-old's birthday party was a whole lot more tame than most. No alcohol, I don't have to worry about her going out partying or being stupid. So there are definite perks to being the parent of a special needs child!

The Hello Kitty sticker book was a big hit, as were the balloons. And Elmo singing The Hokey Pokey is always fun.

And at the end of the day, a great big slobbery kiss for mom. What more could a mom of a 21-year-old ask for?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The rant

I've gotten quite a bit of support from folks who agree with me on the panhandler thing. Thank you! Pam said she sometimes will take them inside and get them food and it reminded me of something that happened when Jillian was little. We were exiting a freeway somewhere in SoCal, so she had to have been about 9 or 10, and there was a rather disheveled man standing with a sign that said he was hungry and needed money for food. She wanted to know if we could help him, so we went through the drive-thru at whatever was closest and bought him a meal. We took it back and he cussed me out, with Jillian in the car, for having the gall to bring him food when what he wanted was cash. Well, then why does your sign say you're hungry?? That soured me on giving to the panhandlers, so all the panhandlers of the world that cross my path can blame him for why I don't stop.

I will add though that when I was working in San Francisco it crossed my mind that if I gave to every person who had their hands out on that short little walk from the train to my office, that I would soon be one of them. There was one man who was honestly hungry, and when Martha and I would go to lunch she would always box up what we had left over and give it to him on our way back. I tried that one time when Martha wasn't with me and he gave me the evil he would only take food from select people and I wasn't one of them. Oh well...

Lots of yarn drying, lots waiting to be skeined, and a bit more waiting to be dyed. Time to dye!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

This is gonna turn into a rant

Okay I've never used my blog as a place to rant...but...there's a first time for everything, right? I wish I knew how to make a vote-type of thing so I could see how many people feel the same as I do on this subject.

I went to the local shopping center to pick up my mail, lunch, and a few groceries. No big deal. But after picking up my mail and lunch at Subway, I walked over to Safeway. I could see as I got closer that there were solicitors in front of the door, and that always bugs me. But there wasn't just a solicitor...there were 3 of them. A homeless man (with really nice shoes) holding his cardboard sign that said simply "homeless please help", and a woman at a little foldable desk on one side of the door and another woman with a little girl on the other. The little girl was quite outgoing and made sure I knew that she wanted my attention for a donation when I came out.

Now, a little about me. I have charitable causes that I support. But I don't give money to panhandlers, and I don't put money in the buckets of people standing outside of grocery stores. Ever. A box of Girl Scout cookies? Sure. But pretty much any other cause...not gonna do it. And it annoys me to no end when I am accosted at the entrance/exit of retail stores. When I drive up and I see them at one door, I park by the other door to avoid them. But this time I was walking from Subway, and the only way to avoid them would have been to go to my car and move my car, which seemed kind of stupid when I was only going into the store for some grapes and air freshener.

I mentioned to the store manager that I really didn't like having any solicitors at the door, but 3 was just over the top. He looked surprised, and said 3? Really? He only approved 1, and the way it works is each group can only be here one day a month. So I told him he might want to go outside and check. The homeless man probably wasn't an approved solicitor, but there were 2 others. He went outside immediately to deal with the situation and get rid of the unapproved one, and I turned to the woman who was in line behind me and apologized for taking that additional 30 seconds to voice my complaint. She then proceeded to chew me out saying why didn't I just walk by and ignore them. Because I shouldn't have to walk by them, that's why. Target doesn't allow solicitors in front of the stores, but unfortunately I can't do my grocery shopping at Target.

Charitable organizations need donations - I get that. I used to do animal adoptions for the local shelter every weekend, and we had donations jars in our adoption room. But we didn't ask for any donations. If people are feeling it, and they want to contribute and are in a financial position to be able to do so, then they do. But all of these folks that are taking donations for every little thing under the sun just drive me nuts as they park themselves in front of the entrances to retail stores. I do what I can for the organizations I choose to support, and I don't need to be asked to do more when all I'm looking to do is buy a pound of grapes.

Rant over. Yarn is calling.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

So what is a proper burial?

We live in Cordelia, kind of a wind tunnel. It's really windy here like all the time. So the other day I find a half of an eggshell on my walk, and so I started looking for the nest which had to be in the trees right there. Couldn't see one. Then I found the baby bird, dead, in the driveway about 20' away. So poor little thing had fought his way out of his shell only to get blown out of his nest. I presume. I didn't think it was appropriate to leave him in the driveway where he'd get squished by tires, so I took him to the flower bed figuring that would be a better final resting place. Is that appropriate? I hope he has a peaceful forever after such a rough, and short, beginning.

It's been pretty hot for the past couple of days and it hasn't been windy at all so the yarn is drying very fast! A good thing since I leave for Sock Summit 3 weeks from today. YIKES!!!

It's not carpal tunnel!!

None of the treatments prescribed were working for my wrist, including that totally painful cortisone shot, so the hand specialist ordered a MRI because he couldn't understand why nothing worked. I got the results yesterday and I've got ganglion cysts in there. Oh joy! I had one removed close to 30 years ago and they told me at the time that these things are notorious for coming back...and it did. And it brought a friend. Because now there are 2.

The good news? Never cancerous, never dangerous.

The bad news? When it does start hurting like hell I brace it and live with it. Until there is time to have the cysts removed. Which isn't going to be anytime soon with Sock Summit, Stitches Midwest and Stitches East coming up.

I was going to post a link to a YouTube video or something about ganglions but..uh...when I typed in ganglion cysts into google I found a really gross video with some idiots cutting open a guy's neck and squeezing out more nasty stuff than you'd think could ever be there. Ick! "Yeah doc I uh have this big infection on my neck because I let my friends operate on me..." Duh. I won't share that video here since it's really nasty.

Time to go back to dyeing...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stowaway Attempt

I started packing up boxes to ship up to Portland for Sock Summit and when I came back into the room this is how I found my empty box...

You don't even know how much I'd love to take her with me! She's so even-tempered. She sits on my lap or in the passenger seat in the car, puts her paws up on the dashboard or stands up to look outside the side windows. And she'd be a joy...but I can't ask our friends who are putting us up that week to have another cat running around their house. I'm going to miss her so much!!

And to anyone reading this who is now thinking my yarn is cat-contaminated, it never comes in contact with the kitties! They're in the room, but never in contact. After it's skeined I zip it into a ziploc bag and this box may have cat hair in the bottom of it, but the ziploc bags are sealed before they go in the box.

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's taken a week but...

It's taken a full week using the electric skeiner to get everything I'd dyed already wound and ready for sale. So tomorrow it's back to the kitchen to dye more yarn! Interesting experience though when I leaned forward and the skeiner was spinning...just about gave me a concussion as it went off the table and nearly through the 8' living room window. It took about an hour before I could see straight, but neither of us were badly hurt. I keep forgetting about the welts on my head and scratch the itch, which serves as a quick reminder that there are bruises there. No worse for wear though!!

Katie is doing extremely much better than I expected. She's gained well over a pound since the vet gave her the pills to increase her appetite and curb the nausea. She's playful and no longer sunken in. Her purrsonality has completely changed too. She's no longer all. Just the opposite. She wants to be held, preferred pose is over our shoulder just like a baby, and carried everywhere. She kneads on everything and purrs constantly. I'm glad I gave her the chance because those first two weeks after her diagnosis I was ready to go ahead and pull the proverbial plug. Now you'd never know she is sick!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

SP Swap Questionnaire

So I have signed up for a secret pal swap and here's the questionnaire and my answers:

Here's the SP 14 Questionnaire!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I love cotton, silk, and bamboo. I really hate mohair, synthetics, and anything that is even slightly scratchy. I can wear wool on my feet but I've tried even the softest merino, cashmere, or alpaca feels fine to work with but when I wrap it around my neck it feels like sandpaper. My feet get really hot really easy, and I've found the wool socks I've made in sock weight/fingering yarn get too warm pretty quick so I'll save them for winter. My favorite thing to knit are sweaters, lightweight cotton, silk, and/or bamboo.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I have one that I bought at Stitches West a few years ago that zips closed and has zipper pouches to keep circulars. It's bulging, so I need to find something that will store more, but I like the compact nature of this particular storage solution.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I learned to knit when I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter, who will be 21 at the end of July. My first project was a zig-zag patterned baby blanket. It took me forever to do, and I was using soft cotton baby yarn. I hated synthetics even back then! I did more sewing than knitting back then, but now I just knit.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

I had never even thought of creating a wish list...I do have a "save for later" cart at KnitPicks and another at

5. What's your favorite scent?

I love floral scents - lotus, freesia, and my all time favorite is plumeria. Believe it or not, Avon used to have a plumeria scent in their Naturals line that I bought a whole bunch of when it was discontinued and put on clearance, and I've not found another one. I did buy a nice bottle of Hyacinth in Vegas last October that's nice, but I miss the plumeria.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

I have a horrible sweet tooth. I try to stick with sugar-free though to try to avoid the excess calories. I drink splenda-sweetened Kool-Aid, strawberry and lemon-lime are my favorites. I also like most of the flavored sugar-free waters that are now available.

I actually really like spicy foods, Mexican being my all-time favorite. Spicy salsas pack lots of flavor with little caloric consequences.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I started my own yarn line, so I spend most of my time dyeing yarn. I don't spin, and I don't think I'll learn...I just don't see time in my future to learn another hobby! I have done some scrapbooking and enjoy it but there hasn't been much time for that either. I have all of our wedding pictures waiting to be turned into a great scrapbook and someday that will happen! I bought the book and the pages but still need to find the right embellishments (and the time...can my partner send me some time please?).

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

Country, country, and more country. I listen to modern top 20 country artists like Trace Adkins, Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts...and my all time favorite is a composer who has put out I believe 4 studio albums by the name of Phil Vassar. He comes up with a new song and I download it from iTunes that day. He's amazing. I am not a huge fan of Taylor Swift, but her single Love Story intrigued me enough to buy her new album, Fearless, and it's pretty good. I'm anxiously awaiting Carrie Underwood to put out a new album - she seems to have disappeared of late which makes me quite sad.

I have an iPod Touch and I buy CDs and load them into iTunes, and I occasionally download something instead.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

I'm a pink girl - baby pink to fuchsia. I'm not a big fan of blue or green or red, but mix two of them together for a nice purple or teal and that works too. And the three together, pink, purple, and teal? Yeah baby. So I guess I love jewel tones.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

Married with 6 cats and a dog. Sofie and Nelson are huge 15+ pounds of Maine Coon mix that we adopted 8 years ago. Bailey was born in our bathroom to a semi-feral cat that adopted us when we moved into our little condo in Vallejo in 2002. We got his mom and his 6 siblings fixed and adopted but Bailey wanted to stay. Simon came along in 2004, born in our vet's office and decided he wanted to live with us. Katie was a year later, adopted because the other 4 had all picked my husband as their person and I really wanted a lap cat. My husband wasn't allowed to even look at her, she was just mine. She has now been diagnosed with kidney failure and is not expected to live more than 3-6 months. And Chanel turned 1 year old on July 4. She's my princess. All white with pink ears, nose, and paw pads. I hand raised her and her siblings from the time they were about 4 days old, got her siblings all adopted out and she is my joy. Prada is a little Yorkie who was dumped at the shelter in April 2008 by the only family she'd ever known. Initially I fostered her since I'd never had a dog before, but she kind of grew on us and is now here for good.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Scarves yes, but only plant fibers (cotton, bamboo, silk) because even the softest merino or alpaca itches around my neck. Interestingly enough, I can wear my Burberry and Coach mufflers and they're cashmere and merino - maybe it's because they're woven rather than knitted.

Hats, mittens, ponchos no.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

When I was commuting I got into sock knitting because they're so portable, but now I'm back to sweaters. I really enjoy knitting the Multi-Directional Short row scarf and I made it for myself first, but the yarn had a wee bit of mohair in it and I couldn't wear it. I gave it to someone (without photographing it for my Ravelry page first). Now I'd like to do it in a nice, soft, lofty cotton just for fun.

13. What are you knitting right now?

I'm working on my Carnival top out of Noro Taiyo and after that I'm going to do my Sahara sweater out of Tilli Tomas Pure & Simple. I've got a couple pair of socks on needles too that I tote around with me when I'm in a waiting situation.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Of course!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Only circulars. I use the KnitPicks 40"-47" circs for socks (magic loop 2 at a time) and I use Addi turbos for everything else. I bought one of those square ones from Kollage to do the Taiyo sweater just because I was curious, but the cord is a bit too flimsy so I won't be buying more. Addi's rock!

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

Yes - and I use both every day!

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I found the blanket I started crocheting for my daughter when I was pregnant and she will be 21 on July 25. That blanket will never be finished. No point. I have a few UFOs from the last couple of years that I will get back to. Problem is I've lost a lot of weight and I literally have to re-knit them completely.

18. What is your favorite holiday? What winter holiday do you observe?

My favorite holiday is Halloween. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. Winter we observe Christmas but a good friend is Jewish so I buy Chanukah gifts for her.

19. Is there anything that you collect?

Anything modern Mickey Mouse. Don't care for the vintage look when he had the really long pointy up nose, but after he was in his "classic" pose with his vibrant clothes just love it!

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I gave up quite a few subscriptions when I became unemployed in January and I would like to have those back. Knitters and Cast On (Knitting Universe and TKGA) specifically. I also gave up my knit.1 subscription and now they have good patterns in every issue and I regret that one too.

I have lots of knitting books/patterns.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Not really

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

I do knit socks, I wear a size 8 shoe so my foot length is like 8 1/2 - 9" but nobody else can knit socks for me unless they're footies. I have to adjust patterns for the leg.

23. When is your birthday?

May 15 19something

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?

On Ravelry I am TheCraftsMeow. On Etsy I'm just CraftsMeow.