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Sunday, December 27, 2009

I'm alive...I just fell off the work-a-holic wagon

Work has been very busy...ok, it's always busy. But it has been a bit more challenging than usual. Hence - I did fall off the work-a-holic wagon and I spent A LOT of time at work in the past few months.
Added to that, I've been rather diligent about spending time with my big brother since my sister-in-law passed away in late August. It's been nice to get to know him some again and maybe it helps him some to have me around.

Gryphon is mostly grown now - it looks like he'll be BobCat sized (my BobCat cat, not a real Bobcat) - which is still larger than average. He is a fearless jumper, profoundly curious, very funny, and stubborn. And - with all the time I was gone in August/Sept for trips and family stuff - he has bonded to DH. I'm a little sad that I'm not the person he purrs for regularly, but I'm also glad that DH has a cat that looks to him. BobCat and CooPurr view me as their person. Gryphon views me as an excellent toy and source of constant entertainment. But he loves DH best. I'm rather fond of DH myself, so I can understand Gryphon's affection.
Ah well. Gryphon is a happy, rambunctious, silly, sweet, busy cat and I love him.

General News...well...
  • I got some accolades at work and a bonus day off for being an employee of the quarter. Two folks I respect and admire felt I was worthy of some very kind write-ups that inspired the main office to select me for an award and the gift of a credit card gift card. My plan is to visit all my local Yarn Shops and invest in some knitterly goodness!
    (2 shop excursions down, 2 to go...)
  • The Ithilien Jacket is done!! Well, no, I certainly had nothing to do with it's design or creation, but I've been following it's progress on Prairie Spinner's blog for a bit.
    It is lovely and amazing and it won Best of Show! You should go look!
  • I have become rather infatuated with the TV show "Fringe" due to the influences of my big brother and his daughter. I am pursuing catching up on this fascinating and clever show...but I'm a season behind. {rats!}
  • I received these knitterly gifts over the holidays from a friend:
    A Knitter's Bible kit (contains yarn, needles and book) and she also gifted me with this fun knitterly ornament:

(the sweater is flocked!)

  • My housekeeping has been near non-existent for the past few months (not unlike my blogging) due to the trips, family stuff, and work-bingeing. I'm trying to get a grip before more plants keel over and the dust bunnies stage a coup.
    {But I'd reallllly rather be knitting!}
  • I finished the 2nd Dr. Who Scarf - this one for my little brother:

Gryphon approves (and he only chewed on the fringe just a little bit...)

  • I finished Joyce's socks that traveled with me to the Sock Summit.
    Unfortunately, Joyce has broken one of her legs (the x-rays display a very impressive grouping of broken bones just above the ankle) so she won't be wearing both socks for a little while yet.

My feet are a poor model of the socks for a person so much taller...

  • I joined the Tucson Hand Weavers and Spinner's guild. The meetings have been fascinating and inspiring. They are a very active and wholly impressive group of crafters who have been very kind to me. I'm hoping this will inspire me to pay more attention to the weaving craft at which I have been meaning to invest more time.
  • In October, I got to take two classes with Janet Szabo of Big Sky Knitting designs! The Tucson Hand Weavers and Spinner's Guild and Grandma's Spinning wheel hosted her for several days. I found her to be very intelligent and personable.

I truly enjoyed the two classes I had with her: "Cables and Beyond" (on Cables) and "Let them Eat Cake!" (on the Brioche stitch).
And she signed her "Cables Vol. I" book for me as well!

I can't remember what-all-else has been occupying my time.
Life is very busy and I feel profoundly blessed with the loved ones, friends, crafts and zany cats that enhance my life.
But...I have to go vacuum now...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Random finds - Bookmarks and Snail-mail

A couple of these I found as a "Blog of Note" on Blogger. One was a recommendation from the owner of my favorite bookstore when we were discussing such things.

Letters of Note - amazing bits of history, interest, kindness, charm in a medium that is vanishing. It makes me a little sad that letters as personal correspondence are becoming a thing only in the past.
Granted, I'm not a great letter-writer (I'm not referring to my sloppy penmanship), but I've written a fair number of letters in my day.
I'm also fascinated by historical letters and I've always been tickled to receive letters (hmmm - that probably relates a bit to why it so fun to receive blog-comments).
It was fun to decipher my late uncle's letters (that penmanship issue must run in the family) and see what was of interest to him and what was happening down south.
Anyway...Letters of Note - quite rightly a Blog of Note, I think.

Got a Secret you just gotta tell? Write it on a postcard and mail it to these folks: PostSecret.
This site is also fascinating. Charming, funny creepy; sometimes viewing it is fueled by morbid curiosity. It could be considered a guilty pleasure...reading other people's secrets - that they actually intended you to read!

This one was inspired by a book the owner of my favorite book store showed me.
Milk, Eggs, Vodka is the book. Being a master list-maker, I bought a copy from her - irresistible. Grocery List Collection is the website.
It's found grocery lists. The list that blew away or was left in the cart...these folks found it or someone sent it to them and they posted it online. No, really, take a look. It's interesting the notes folks make to themselves, or the things the kids add on - recipes - a peek into someone's grocery world and eating habits. There's interesting grocery facts, astoundingly poor spelling, familiar, "that could be me" spelling, and stuff that makes you go "Huh?!?", "Hmmmm", "WTH?", or "Oh, I need to add that to my list". The DH and I take the book with us sometimes when we go out for breakfast to read/puzzle at/laugh through a chapter of Found Grocery lists and the commentary.

Forgotten Bookmarks - This website was another Blog of Note, I think. I told the owner of my favorite bookstore about this website. She promptly showed me a "forgotten bookmark" she'd found earlier that day in used books someone had dropped off - The wrapper for a Pregnancy test. I kid you not.
Here's a forgotten bookmark I found in a used book I recently purchased:

Yep, a Hippo PostCard left behind in a Barbara Walker Book.
(I went on a bit of a Barbara Walker book-finding trek after the Sock Summit.)

The comments on the postcard are a bit ironic when you consider the book it was left within.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flowers, Flowers & Moths, & a "Helper"

A few moments of interest from the past week or so...

The lilies in the bouquet gifted to me from the young lady at Trader Joes bloomed:

I found huge, lovely hovering Moths feeding in the Lantana near my office the other evening.

I think they're White-Lined Sphinx Moths.

I had help unpacking the groceries and the grocery bag was invaded as soon as it was near empty:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sock Summit 2009 - Part 4 of 4 - Barbara Walker, VooDoo Donuts and Home

(Confessional Note - created 8/12/2009 - finished and posted 5/5/2011)

Ah - my last day at the 2009 Sock Summit - Saturday. Yes, Saturday.
Yes, I know the Sock Summit went through Sunday.
Why wasn't I still there through Sunday?
'Cause I'm a ninny, that's why. {sigh}
During the near last-minute trip setup, I'd scheduled the plane trip home the day after the last class I'd gotten via the lottery. I didn't know more options would become available...or what I'd be missing. {SIGH}
However, I'm trainable and it was my first major Knitterly event. I'll do better next time.

A Really Big Sock and a Really Amazing Woman: 
I tried again to track down the World's Largest Sock in the Marketplace. I did find the sock (it took up a fairly large round table). No one was manning the table just then and I was feeling bashful and short on time so I didn't take the opportunity to knit upon it. But I did drop off the yarn donation I'd brought for that specific purpose.
(It just may be...the secret to having room in your suitcase for yarn you bought at the marketplace is to take as much or more yarn to the event and leave it there for charitable endeavors. Worked for me!)

The highlight of my last day at the Sock Summit was a lecture. I had belatedly purchased a ticket to Barbara Walker's lecture, "How I became a Knitter", from a very nice woman who was unable to attend the Sock Summit. She was a bit heartbroken at not being able to attend this specific lecture; Barbara Walker having been an admired person of note in her knitting life. As previously confessed, I had been mostly clueless regarding Barbara Walker's affect on knitting and the world at large.

I truly enjoyed Barbara Walker's lecture. More than I can say.
(Yes, knit-geekiness abounds on this topic.)
She was a charming and interesting speaker. Clever and fun.
I'm totally impressed and will be looking for some of her books.
What a woman! (I am a bit smitten.)

Here are some of the bits I remember:
(Disclaimer...the following is my interpretation of some of what I heard at the Barbara Walker Lecture. It should not be perceived as "gospel" or direct quotes. It's just me - relating parts of what I heard in a very nifty lecture at a ground breaking Knitterly event. Thanks.)

She spoke of her life as being a series of "obsessions". She would become focused on a topic/subject/pursuit and invest time and energy in learning all about it.
(I would say "mastering" it. i.e. going beyond apprenticeship.)

In her teenage years the obsession was horses.
In her 20s, it was Modern Dance.
Her 30's - Motherhood.
Also in her 30's she began to assign herself courses of study during the winter months: Archeology, Geology, History, Paleontology, etc.
I believe she indicated her first attempts at knitting occurred in her 30s. However, those first attempts were more accidental lace than knit fabric. She said, at that time, sewing went much better for her than knitting.

Luckily for us, she revisited knitting later in her 40's and her next obsession was collecting knitting patterns.

She obtained special permission and visited the Library of Congress for this latest obsession.
They had knit pattern books back to 1830. However, they had no desks in the Library of Congress so for 3 days Barbara Walker sat on the floor under a 25 Watt bulb and copied knit patterns by hand.

This became the First Pattern Book - "A Treasury of Knitting Patterns".

And she kept on collecting patterns. About this time, she was contacted by Elizabeth Zimmerman.
EZ sent knit patterns she had been collecting along with a few original patterns she'd created to Barbara Walker who combined them with more of her own collection to create "A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns".
After the 2nd Treasury of Knitting Patterns Book was created, BW created her knitting pattern charts because she got tired of writing out the patterns long-hand/by-row.

Some of her current obsessions are:

  • She is the Secretary of the West Coast Mineral Club (which inspired the "Book of Sacred Stones").
  • Her Tarot Card Collection (She has 188 different Tarot decks (which inspired "The Secrets of the Tarot" Book)).
  • Jigsaw puzzles - collecting and redoing them. 

She told us of her religious epiphany as a child, how much you can accomplish when the TV is broken {wry grin}, and that she had only just gotten a computer a couple of years ago (a gift from/setup by her son). (No, she isn't a member of Raverly.)
I got the impression she was generally surprised, a little perplexed, and a bit pleased at the interest, respect, and...well, reverence she was experiencing from pretty much all of us (ST1 included per their own "Calling Barbara Walker" comments (See - nearly everyone has moments of being knit-geeky!)).

I think the lecture was redirected a fair amount by questions from the audience. I found it to be fascinating and very inspiring. As previously stated, I'm smitten.

She gifted us with these closing words:
Thank you knitters.   Thank you feminists.   
Thank you for your attention. 
Thank you for reading.   Thank you for being here. 

Donuts Attempted:
So...before heading back to Tucson, I made a concerted effort to....
Go to Voodoo Donuts to get the DH a Voodoo Doll Donut as we'd seen featured on Man vs Food.
(Scroll down the menu webpage - I dare you not to salivate!)
Unfortunately, I came to realize that Saturday is a big donut shopping day in Portland:

  Yes, the line stretched AROUND the corner.

And I had a plane to catch. So I owe the DH a Voodoo Donut (or 3) on the next Portland Trip.

Home again, Home again...
I travelled home and was warmly received by the various furry gents with whom I live.
For some reason, the DH was not quite as fascinated by the suitcase unpacking as the other furry gents were.

Gryphon was particularly pleased that I had purchased this mug from Jennie the Potter:

Because he Realllly enjoyed the paper in which it had been wrapped:

Reality quickly asserted itself, but didn't quite dim the glow of the experiences I'd had at the Sock Summit. I had been gifted with camaraderie, kindness, inspiration, and knowledge that there were a lot of open-hearted people who shared my crafting passion. Pret-ty darn cool.

So ends the very drawn-out blog-tale of my first Knitterly Event.
May there be many more such events and explorations.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sock Summit 2009 - Part 3 - Breaking a World Record, Book Signing, & A Night for Knitters

(Confessional Note - created 8/12/2009 - finished and posted 4/24/2011)

Doctor's Without Borders Silent Auction Winnings:
I'd promised in a previous SS09 Post to review the treasure I won in the Doctor's Without Borders Silent Auction...so here 'tis:

As I dashed through looking at the Silent Auction offerings before going into the Opening Ceremonies, I was tempted by 3 items on the last table. I jotted down my name, up'd the current bid by $10.00 and went into the Opening Ceremonies event.
I came out quite a bit later to find most of the Silent Auction items had been picked up or put away. I asked if it was feasible to check to see if I owed the auction any money and they readily went through the bags and boxes and found I'd won all 3 of the items I'd bid upon! I was astounded and quite tickled. Fellow crafters in the vicinity (new friends and folks I hadn't met yet) were as tickled as I was! We all fondled the yarn and oohed over the patterns!

The Goodies:
I'd been struck by the lovely green of this yarn and the spiffy green bag into which the yarn and the supporting pattern were tucked. The pattern is "The Emerald City Shawl", A Stranded in Oz Design by Melissa Deutsch Scott. I believe the yarn is "100% pure Australian Merino Premium Wool" hand-painted to create the Emerald City 2009 colorway.  (Very Belated thanks to Melissa Deutsch Scott for her donation of the kit to the DWOB Silent Auction and for the thank you note and shawl pin she included in the kit!)

I had also bid upon another shawl kit: The Portuguese Fisherwoman's Shawl Kit donated by Dye Dreams. I am smitten with the olde world style/shape of this shawl/cape-lete by Shelagh as well as the blue/purple shades in the "Grape" colorway (Yum - Dye Dreams Celestial yarn is Alpaca, Merino & Silk!). (Again, Belated Thanks to the folks of Dye Dreams!)
(I was saddened to find that "Dye Dreams" seems to have closed shop! It does appear that one of the owners can now be found at "Dirty Water DyeWorks" so all color is not lost!)
(Ok, I just have to note, my favorite part of the Shawl pattern might just be the part that says "DO NOT BLOCK ANY PART OF THIS SHAWL." {wry grin})

Lastly, I had bid upon a Wood Sock Blocker crafted with an "SS09" design. It came with an SS09 Stitch Marker and a (??) Permanent Ink Marker.
I was a bit stumped...I asked the Silent Auction Organizers what the Permanent Ink Marker Pen was for - and they didn't know. They suggested I ask at the SS Information booth the next day.

Soooooo - the next morning 

  • I walked over to the Convention Center and picked up a ticket to participate in the Guinness World Record for "The Most Number of People Knitting Simultaneously" attempt later that day
  • I walked down to J's Cafe, a lovely, tiny cafe not far from the Convention Center and had an excellent breakfast
  • I walked a few blocks around the Convention Center and snapped a few pictures of greenery, flowers, and this: 

(I couldn't resist)
I headed back to the Convention Center when the Marketplace was open and checked in with the Information Booth about the Sock Blocker with marker. The very kind woman there explained that the original intent had been to have all the SS09 Knitterati sign the blocker before the auction but they didn't have time. So they gave me the pen so I could collect signatures. Wow.
When my new knitterly friends and I discussed this a bit later, I noted that I would feel a bit like a stalker chasing down the knitterati at the Sock Summit. Wise-woman, Mary Ann, suggested I ask folks to sign the Sock Blocker at the Book Signing that afternoon! Brilliant!

Sock Museum:
I wandered about the Market place for a bit, I asked around but could not find the location of the "Worlds Largest Sock" {durn it} (on which I'd hoped to knit and to donate some yarn), and then went to explore the Sock Museum. I stumped the nice ladies manning the Sock Museum with the "May I take Pictures?" question. They sent someone out to find the answer and came back to tell me that I could indeed take pictures.

Now, you'll see some examples of my not paying enough attention to the light source in these pictures (as the socks are shadowed by myself...{sigh}) but please enjoy contemplating the knowledge, time, and history that went into the creation of these socks.

Anasazi Socks       and     Arrrgyle Socks

Barbara Walker Socks  and Bed Socks - Lemon pattern

Booby Socks     and     Ivory Baby Socks

Civil War Socks - Union   and Confederate:

Los Lobe Hose

Mabrys Something Socks and Medieval Muslim Stockings

MilitaryYarn for Service Men and  Rivendell Socks


Sidewinders    and   Simple Sock in 3 Sizes

Unfinished Argyles   and   Willow Tree Anatolian Socks

Feather and Fan Socks

Record breaking!
I did get to participate in the Guinness World Record for The Most Number of People Knitting Simultaneously. It was Amazing. Per the rules, we were to knit using Regular Straight Knitting needles. No circulars, no DPNs. 
I took the Seemingly Simple Vest in BMF Twisted in the Haida colorway on bamboo straights to the Sock Summit specifically for this event.
We lined up for the event and folks checked with us whilst we were in line to be sure we knew the basic rules and to provide us with straight needles if need be. 
I took my seat and watched all the colorful folks file in. Seriously - colorful. Most folks wore some kind of original or colorful garment. A fair number had colorful streaks in their hair or, a la Lucy Neatby, their hair was dyed an interesting shade(s). I was a little envious of these displays of individuality. Spiffy! 
Mary Ann found me and held my place while I went to the front of the ballroom to take a couple of pictures (Apologies again for the less than stellar longer-distance photos): 

The Sock Summit Organizers and the Guinness folks arrived and the rules were reviewed. Cat Bordhi was teased about having to knit on straights instead of her preferred circular needles and we prepared to knit for 15 minutes to break the record for Most Number of People Knitting Simultaneously set in Australia just a few weeks before.

We dusted the record of the folks from Australia. Though, I’m with the Yarn Harlot - I feel a little bad that they didn’t get to keep their record a little longer. It’ll be a few weeks before we get the official blessing from the Guinness Folks. (We heard in December 2009 - we had indeed set the new record with 937 people Knitting Simultaneously! Per a 2011 Internet review, several groups are plotting to try to break our SS09 record...)

Collecting Signatures!
I partook of my Trader Joes Lunch and queued up for the book signing that afternoon. 
Preparing for SS09, I had reviewed the list of available book-signing knitterati and had pulled books from my library. I didn't think it would be kind to the sign-ers or the other waiting sign-ees to bring ALL my books so I only pulled up to two books per Author to bring to Portland. I must confess, I didn't have books in my library for A LOT of the signing knitteratti. But I had a few... and I now had the Sock Blocker to be signed as well! (Durn it, there's a couple missing from this picture - oh, and I'd accidentally left Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks at home 'cause I'd pulled it out to look something up! {arrgh})
So I waited in line and collected signatures - some from Knitterati that I truly didn't know much of and many who looked at me bemusedly as I explained why I wanted them to sign a Sock Blocker I'd gotten at the Doctors without Borders Silent Auction. 

Everyone was very nice and the lines moved pretty quickly. When I tried to track down the line for the Yarn Harlot I collected this charming memory: 
Me, walking up to ask the young gentleman at the end of a long line: “Is this the line for Stephanie Pearl-McPhee?” 

Young Man, pauses with a slightly panicked look, then peers at the front of the Yarn Harlot Book he’s holding, studies the name of the author, and carefully says “Yes”. 
Me: “I take it you’re standing here for someone else?” 
Young Man, grins shyly and said “She gave me the book and told me to stand in this line.” 
Me (smiling): “Ohhhh - you’re earning some seriously good points - well done!!”

I got to autographically-meet Barbara Walker, Cat Bordhi, Meg Swanson, Cookie A, Lucy Neatby, Nancy Bush, Janel Laidman, Amy Singer, the list goes on ...so many lovely and kind people that I knew by name only or from a blog or the books in my library. It was overwhelming. 
Heather Ordover (of CraftLit and my Tri-Fold Knitter's Bowl teacher from Tucson) gifted me with a moment past "could you sign this". She brought our Cat Bordhi moebius class to the attention of Ms. Bordhi with whom she was sharing a table at the book signing. (my knit-geekiness is showing, huh? A LOT!) 

I did also track down Judy Becker (my Judy's Magic Cast On Teacher) and Tina Newton (of Blue Moon Fiber Arts/half of ST1) and asked them to sign the sock blocker as well. Unfortunately, I couldn't find Sivia Harding (my "Hooked on Beads" teacher). {sigh}
The Sock Blocker got quite full and we started putting signatures on the back. 

 By the way - the very first signature I collected on the Sock Blocker - was from the gentleman who created it: John C. Chapman of Purrfectly Catchy Designs. I felt it was like having the artist sign his work.

Since I don't dance, I had not planned to attend the SS09 Sock Hop. 
However, Powells Book Store was hosting "A Night for Knitters" at the Powells on Burnside. (I believe that Powells location is a city block wide and 3 stories tall. Now THAT's a book store. {Happy Sigh} They even have a cafe on the 2nd floor! ) 
A friend of mine's sister lives in Portland and she had graciously offered to pick me up so we could go to dinner with a couple of her friends (they were all very nice and Very Interesting women!) and then on to Powells for the "Night for Knitters".

Larissa Brown ("Knitalong") and Judy Sumner ("Knitted Socks East and West") would be speaking and signing books. Larissa Brown had already signed my Knitalong book earlier that day at the Sock Summit. I became intrigued by Mrs. Sumner and her book during her Powells talk. I purchased a copy - which she graciously autographed! 

I had a lovely evening and it may have been a good thing that I was out with native Portland folks. They'd been to Powells many times before and good naturedly allowed me to peruse the Crafting and Sci Fi sections before the gathering broke up and I was delivered back to my Hotel. 
This timely intervention probably prevented me from staying the night to explore every square inch of Powells.