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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yarn for sale! And some even more amazing stuff - for an excellent cause!

Greetings and Salutations!
This is a quick entry to make known to you an amazing, generous effort to help a worthy soul.

My offering in the auction: this skein of Prism Cool Stuff Half yarn, Color: Tumbleweed:

What auction? The website explains it best.
However, I would like to offer my perspective on this Auction to help Terri Windling.
Some of the folks organizing the auction are personally known by me. They are truly spiffy people and their request and intentions are real and just.
I have not met Terri Windling, but several of her stellar efforts grace my bookshelves.

Again, the website explains it best.
Please go take a look...see if any of the auction items strike your fancy. Check back often as more items are being added every day. You'll probably be impressed and tickled at the number of items being offered. And consider the names of the folks offering the items for auction - you might recognize a few!
(And this could also be a Very Unique Holiday Shopping opportunity!!)

Please - share the link to Magick 4 Terri with other interesting folks who might be tickled and tempted by this worthy endeavor.

My thanks, KiniaCat

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hope, Thanksgiving and Bittersweet Thanks

I have been enjoying a quiet day at home.
Cleaned the Bathrooms.
Worked on two knitted Christmas gifts -  a very little bit.
Made Pizza with Trader Joe's crust for lunch as an odd treat 'cause the DH has to work this evening.
We're plotting for turkey tomorrow.
The DH will find a freshly-made pecan pie when he gets home (one of his favorites).
There's a few more items on my to-do list for this Thanksgiving day but I wanted to pause a jot down some things for which I am Thankful.

I reviewed last year's Turkey-day blog and it made me consider life in general and how things change.
The interesting/challenging job I gave thanks for last year is likely about to end and I'll be pondering what else I should do for a living.

Most apt proverb: "May you live in interesting times".

That quote has been cited as a Chinese proverb or a curse.
I thought I'd heard it mentioned somewhere as a Klingon blessing.
{wry grin}

Times are indeed interesting.
There is a lot of unrest in the world. A lot of people in need.
A lot of things that make us question the state of humanity.

Sometimes it's hard to have hope or be thankful when you are only exposed to the bad side of the world. (Policemen have a tough job indeed - think about it.)

If I turn away from the usually-not-good news being repeated continuously on numerous channels and consider the positive aspects of the world and the actions of good people...even here in my home town, I find hope blooms.
  • My generous friends, local knitters, and our local yarn shops for all the knitting performed to help babies and children and adults in need - year round.
  • The various charities around town that I and others support for animals, homeless folks, under-insured cancer patients, children's homes - the list goes on.
  • Quilt groups that work year-round on a variety of projects like Halloween quilts created for children that will be stuck in the Hospital this last & next October 31st.
  • Diaper and food drives.
  • Local drives to help folks in need around the world (i.e. World Care).
  • The Empty Bowl Luncheon I recently attended for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
  • That same week there was another charitable event - the Hickman's Family Farms "Breakfast for Dinner" Event. A variety of local restaurants around Arizona stayed open late, wearing PJs, to serve "Breakfast for Dinner" and to act as a collection point for a Pajama drive. I didn't wear PJs, but I brought 3 sets of new PJs to donate to the Arizona's Children Association

We can be Thankful. We can be aware of the profound challenges in our world, but we can also look for, encourage, and participate in the good. 

Before closing out this blog post, I would like to briefly honor the memory and writings of my favorite author, Anne McCaffrey. She passed away this week and the world does seem different because I know she no longer physically living there at Dragonhold Underhill.

I started reading her books as a young teen and never stopped. I think she reinforced and enhanced the teachings from my parents. That I am not limited to a certain type of place in the world because I'm female. That mine is not the only viewpoint - consider the world from different perspectives. Learn!

Her books are "comfort food" reading to me. I will reread her books knowing the story and writing will still catch me up and enhance my world.
I sent her a Thank You note years ago...and I continue to be grateful for her talent, imagination, clever mind, and the ongoing legacy of her writing. Bittersweet thanks are offered again today.

Janice's Library blog post for Anne McCaffrey's birthday a few years ago is worth a visit. She includes several of my favorite drawings of Ms. McCaffrey.

And this says it best.
Thanks are offered to Ms. Bull and Murasaki_1966 for this comment posted on the Dark Roast Blog. 
"Say not in grief that she is gone, but in thankfulness that she was."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Exercise and the Type A Personality

Ok...I'm not a strict "Type A" according to the Stress.About Type A personality test. {wry grin}
The test results: "You have some Type A features, but are not the 'typical Type A'. You can probably really benefit from the resources below."

So it appears I'm more of a Type A Lite.
But I do have a fondness for multi-tasking. (Possibly to compensate for a mild procrastination habit...)
Foibles. I gotz dem. 
(No, I don't multi-task whilst driving. No knitting, no reading, no texting...while driving. (Don't get me started on the ninnies that text and drive at the same time. {grrrrr})  )

I've mentioned before that I learned at Sock Summit 2009 that my habit of walking and knitting at the same time may not be something everyone does.
I believe that habit stemmed from my original penchant in high school to read as I walked from class to class. Knitting while walking seemed like a natural progression and I can definitely look around more when I knit and walk. Granted I'm not knitting anything complicated...but there are a lot of "vanilla" knitting projects that travel well.

ANYWAY...So, when I exercise I tend to multi-task. I get bored just walking on a treadmill.
(In Arizona, you can't always go for a walk outside without risk of overheating your brain.)

So - I walk on a Treadmill and I listen to podcasts when I walk. 
Or I read. 
Or I watch stuff on Netflix on the clunky old monitor (when I can see around the Cat Tails...). 
And - sometimes I knit. 
Sometimes I knit and listen to podcasts or watch Netflix. 
Multi-tasking heaven. (And Lord knows I need the exercise...)

I was first inspired to try knitting on the treadmill by a deadline on a lap afghan that was too big to carry around. 
Consequently, I found it was also cumbersome to balance when walking on the treadmill.

My first treadmill knitting support system was...a pair of my Dad's red suspenders spider-web wrapped round the arms/railing on the treadmill. I kid you not!
It worked reasonably well too. Sorry, I don't have any pictures but, as you've already imagined, it was pretty silly looking.

The suspenders were not "young" and the elastic gave out in less than a year - but long after I'd finished that afghan. I tried to find a basket (like some folks put across their bathtubs) to hold my treadmill-books and maybe give me some knitting support, but I couldn't find one that was wide enough for the treadmill.

CooPurr "assisted" in creating my current knitting treadmill support system.

I have sweaters. Sweaters have to be washed and dried flat. So - I have sweater drying racks. (You can see what's coming, huh?)
I used to put the sweaters on the racks to dry over the bathtub.
E'yup...CooPurr tried to walk on one of them. Sweater drying racks aren't made to hold 17+ pounds of seal-gray gato suspended over the bathtub. The rack snapped, CooPurr scrambled out of the bathtub in a panic (for some reason he is no longer interested in strolling around the edge of the bathtub), and I had this square of mesh without a rack.

Add some little tiny bungee cords to the sweater rack mesh square, and you've got a hammock to hold your knitting on the treadmill.
(It's ok...laugh if you need to. I understand.)

I use the rust-colored bag to the left of the treadmill to store (hide) the yarn (from Gryphon).
I finished the above Pink/White lap throw a while ago. I plan to drop it off at World Care after I finish another under-construction lap throw (currently 3/4 the way finished).

And when considering the weight-lifting I'd have to perform to prepare to read the Mark Twain Biography whilst walking on the treadmill, I came up with this option:
Nikoli likes to jump up to visit me when I'm walking/reading.
I try to keep an eye out for him to avoid a teeter-totter cat/book incident. 

You folks that sew might recognize the above reading-platform as a cardboard cutting board that is usually spread out on the dining room table for cutting out sewing projects.
I inherited this 2nd one from my Mom and I found this use for it (when I'm not using it for blocking knitting stuff).

I've also been using the "hammock" system to knit on my Einstein Coat during treadmill walks.

Didja notice the orange ear in my project bag in the picture above?
Nikoli "helps" me on the treadmill a lot. He was seriously intrigued by the heavy-duty ziplock in which the Einstein supplies are stored and - he climbed inside.

See - walking on a treadmill doesn't have to be boring!
(Especially if there are cats around to "help"!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Cat Bordhi Weekend...well, mostly

What to say about this weekend?

I am profoundly tickled. 
My arms hurt some. 
My brain was not entirely boggled - which surprises me. 
I need to go update Ravelry with alllll the new projects I can't wait to start - and the ones I started during the classes I took this weekend. 

(Caution - extreme knitterly content. I had a blast!)

So - about 6 months ago, folks started alerting me that a "Knitterati" was coming to teach in Arizona. I reviewed the class options and registered for two classes.

I am profoundly tickled. 
Cat Bordhi came to Arizona this month. She was teaching up in Phoenix and then came to Tucson to teach at Kiwi Knitting this last weekend. (Bonus! She brought us some rain too!!)

I am a profound admirer of Ms. Bordhi's very clever mind and amazing, fun, and beautiful patterns. 
I've made a variety of Moebius-based items from her books "A Treasury of Magical Knitting" and "A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting".

Heather Ordover got me started on Moebius knitting in July 2008 - also at Kiwi Knitting! (Heather does the nifty Craftlit podcast and can also be found on RavelryGoodreads.)
Back in 2008, I made a moebius scarf for practice and then worked my way through (with guidance from Heather) a pretty spiffy Trifold Knitter's Bowl - in a variety of purple feltable yarns from my stash.
From there I knit and felted/fulled a variety of Moebius Baskets and bowls. 
(Um...pictures are pending...(seems I put them somewhere "safe")...but you can see a lot of them on my Ravelry project page. (Well, if you have an account. Sorry).)

However, the opportunity to take a moebius class from Ms. Bordhi herself was irresistible so I registered to take her "Magical Moebius Knitting" class given on Friday.
I must say, getting to hear Ms. Bordhi explain Moebius knitting with all the background, experience, tips, and charming humor was stellar. 

I'd done my "homework" and refreshed my memory on the Moebius Cast-on but choosing a class project was a bit more challenging. I wanted to knit something that was a little beyond where I'd already been - but I didn't want to make myself miserable (or look like a blithering idiot) during the class. After plotting 4 new moebius projects**, I settled on starting a "Spacious Show & Tell Moebius Bag" during class with a skein of dark green variegated LanaLoft from my stash. (Stash-busting!!)
(I love Lanaloft - it felts beautifully and doesn't come with the mohair fuzziness and shedding of the Lamb's Pride. But yes, the stash busting for this project will include some Lamb's pride.)

Ms. Bordhi offered a wide range of tips and information regarding...the cast-on, project options, moebius structure (I especially loved the "equator" reference to the cast-on row), how lace moebius knitting creates an opposite-slanting parallel pattern, wool options, the shrinkage tests she'd done, how to test for felt-ability (separate strands down to near-fluff & try spit-splicing - if it doesn't felt, it's not wool, not a felt-able fiber or is superwash), and felting clues and how-to info (hang onto your top-loader washer and put projects into a well built/sealed fabric bag to keep the felt fluff out of the mechanics of your washer (the Yarn Harlot explains why here - from experience)).

I was especially intrigued to hear more about how certain yarns felt better doubled (Cascade 220) and that the Brown Sheep Wool felted more densely when knitted very loosely than when doubled.
I did a poor job taking notes. {sigh} I guess I could try to take the class again another time...{happy prospect!}.

Cat did some of her close-up demonstrating outside in our lovely "Fall" weather. The knitters in the class were a charming, colorful, knitterly, and intelligent group. Some of them were known to me from the Tucson Handweaver's and Spinner's Guild and from other knitterly events and classes.
(Everyone was concentrating fiercely to learn the Moebius Cast-on.)

There were a variety of scarves and baskets started in the class. Inspiring. I had not realized the entrelac-like structure of the Undulating Moebius Scarves. That's a whole 'nother level of fascinating!! I'm also tempted to knit one of the lace moebius scarves/wraps and I'd like to see if I have any yarn in the stash that would work for a "Lost Trail Cape.... Yep, the blather demonstrates the level of inspiration (start-itis) this class inspired. 

K. Trying to move on. The class was grand and lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. 

I did not take the Saturday class, "Finding the Fountain of Fresh Knitting Ideas", fearing my knitting was not up to a "design" level. I heard from friends who did take the class that is was also very inspiring, a great deal of fun, and that it offered some extremely interesting perspectives and thought processes.

My arms hurt some. 
Nope - the general aches and pains I had on Sunday were not related to extreme or prolonged knitting.
I helped my little brother move on Saturday. {wry grin} Complete with boxes, chairs, bed, dresser, bungee cords to keep everything in the truck...and a bit of a drive.
Slightly out of the ordinary exercise can inspire aches and pains. It wasn't too bad, but I noticed my muscles some on Sunday. 

My brain was not entirely boggled - which surprises me. 
I was back at Kiwi on Sunday for Cat's "New Pathways for Sock Knitters" class. I've had the book that supports this sock structure for years, but had not yet really explored it and had certainly not knit any socks from it. Earlier in the week I had done some studying of Ms. Bordhi's videos relating to the book's techniques: increases, decreases, wraps, and a refresher of Judy's magic cast on.

In the class and a little bit Sunday evening, I knit two sample socks ("Upstream" & Foxglove") and a very small basket that allowed us to practice the new heel turn (no gusset stitches to pick up!!!).
I plan to finish knitting the matching pairs of the sample socks to gift away as baby socks but there are sooooo many patterns and variations on the basic sock structure to explore.

I finally got to use my spiffy alphabet stitch markers from Jeds Joy - and they were much admired by my table-mates. It rained pretty steadily Sunday so there were no "Fresh Aire" demonstrations behind the shop - we were indoor knitters that day.

My "Ah-Ha" moment from the class: the book basically covers variations on where to put the increases for the instep/arch rise. Increases on the sole of the foot - on the top or all on one side. The designs in the book were inspired by the increase placement options and it's fun and amazing! It makes sense that this is the first book in a series...where to stop was probably the hard part of writing the book! The heel turn utilizes concealed wraps that minimize holes or gaps and do not require us to pick up stitches to join the heel to the instep stitches. And the basic structure works well with toe-up or top down. I have always been intrigued by the Coriolis Sock pattern and now I have a hands-on clue regarding how to knit it and why the pattern flows the way it does, emulating the Coriolis effect of the earth!

Another "Ah Ha" moment was looking down our table to see all the Lorna's Laces Cat Bordhi Ah-Ha Learning Yarn. The bright colors and short color changes work well to isolate the parts of the knitting stitches and make it easy to see what you're doing or what Cat was demonstrating. I like primary colors and rainbow-y stuff so I did finally succumb to purchasing some of this yarn for this class. Seems like quite a few other people succumbed as well:
I learned another toe-up sock technique - the garter-stitch toe. I'm not finding a link to explain this stretchy/easy toe-up start option...it is similar to something a friend of mine does to start all of her toe-up socks (excepting she does it in stockinette stitch) so you-all may already know this. Basically, you cast on 6 stitches and then knit 12 rows of garter stitch. You pickup 6 stitches on the remaining 3 sides of your garter-stitch square and then start knitting the toe of your sock - in the round.

Cat noted that although the Magical Knitting treasuries are out of print, she does expect to release them (possibly with some updates) as e-books in 2012.

If you haven't already reviewed the patterns/techniques in her new e-book, "Cat's Sweet Tomato Heel Socks" - please take a gander. The samples she brought and the quick tour she gifted us with during our Sunday class indicates that her innovative ways of looking at and simplifying Sock architecture continues. "Impressive" is a very pale description of Cat Bordhi's mind.

Oh - and making tendrils to add to your knitting is a variation on a weaving edging technique...and it's entirely spiffy!!

I could go on for quite a while about the class and the techniques and the patterns. However, I will attempt to rein in my enthusiasm and finish up this (already very long) blog entry. 

** I need to go update Ravelry with alllll the new projects I can't wait to start - and the ones I started during the classes I took this weekend. 
Plotting for the moebius class stirred up other projects: I've resurrected a plan to make a "Somersaulting Rim Trifold Bowl" for a friend. She has a striking Zebra painting in her entryway so a black/white Trifold bowl came to mind when I first visited her house. I'm am newly smitten with and plotting to knit/felt "Felted Foursome" basket with more of that purple yarn that seems so abundant in my stash (and it'll kinda go with the Trifold Knitter's Bowl...).
Then there's the lace moebius scarves/wraps I'd like try and the "Lost Trail Cape...and about 9 patterns from the New Pathways book...

Hmmm - seems the Cat Bordhi classes should come with a warning label: "May cause extreme Start-itis and possible stash-enhancement. 

Especial thanks are offered to Ms. Bordhi, Heather Ordover (for getting me started on Moebius knitting) and most especially to Lynn Davis at Kiwi Knitting - for her shop, excellent taste in Yarn and for being such a great hostess even when she didn't feel well. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Random web-charm

Rock Fishing ~

Gus' pool ~

Courtesy of PomPom's blog:    Knit your own Cat! ~ 

Belatedly added - another charming dog making friends with a NYC Police Horse!

Alice Roosevelt said 
"First you're young, then you're middle-aged, then you're wonderful."

I rather like the idea that I am approaching "wonderful"!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Empty Bowl Luncheon and unsuccessful but heartening Dog Rescue

Not Empty Bowls:
I got to attend my first Empty Bowl Luncheon to benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona on Thursday.
T'was pretty spiffy.
I dropped off a donation and my friend and I purchased "large" bowl lunches (i.e. we got to choose from the larger bowl options). There were hundreds of unique, hand-crafted bowls created and donated by the Southern Arizona Clay Artists. The first one that caught my eye was lovely but struck me as the perfect bowl for my friend - and that is exactly the one that she immediately chose!
I was drawn to several but I ended up going with the first blue and white bowl that struck my fancy.

A variety of local restaurants donated bread and interesting/yummy soups for our luncheon.
Clockwise from left: Chicken with Wine(?) and Wild Rice,
Minestrone,  & a spiced yam soup.
All VERY Yummy!

There was also a silent auction featuring other pieces from the clay craft. Larger bowls, cups, plates, decorated bowls - with different shapes, designs and finishes.
I bid on this bowl and one of the volunteers asked me if I knew who had made the bowl. I confessed I did not and she told me the name of the gent (which I didn't quite catch) and I confessed I still didn't know who that was. She indicated the teacher of the classes at the Kino Community Center had made the bowl I had bid upon.
And I won the silent auction on this lovely bowl and got to bring it home!

(And Gryphon helped me take the pictures!)

I enjoyed the luncheon and the time with my friend. I intend to go again next year, work permitting, and I'll try to get the word out sooner to the "Local Events" mailing group next year.

Dog Rescue Attempted:
Thursday was an interesting day. On the way back to work from the Empty Bowl Luncheon, the traffic slowed to a stop and up at the intersection, I saw two dogs trotting out into the street. I thought they'd turned off onto a side street, but when I got further along, I found they were still trotting along in the bus lane and still wandering out into the traffic.

I was in the middle lane so I passed them and pulled into a parking lot, hoping to lure them out of the street. I could see they were wearing collars and tags and they did pause to look at me...but they didn't stop. However, a well dressed blond in a nice car did stop. We talked briefly...she'd be willing to take them to the Humane Society if we could catch them. And a 3rd person stopped to see if she could help. Her van was actually loaded with alllllll sorts of dog-related stuff for a dog-shelter fund raising event over the weekend - including cans of dog food. The blond woman took a can and hopped in her car and drove off to try to catch the dogs who had moved on down the street - still wandering out into traffic.

The lady in the van lived in the area and called a neighbor to have her check the "Lost Dogs" posters she'd seen recently placed in their neighborhood.
Our duo-trotting-in-the-street didn't match the poster description and the van-lady and I hopped back into our cars and headed down the street to try to catch the dogs again.

We lost the blond lady somewhere and I stopped and tried to get the dogs to come to me two more times. They were now, at least, mostly staying out of the street. On the 4th try, they seriously paused and thought about coming to me.
Another pair of women had stopped to try and help - and they had water for the dogs! But the dogs moved on down the street again. The ladies with the water headed down the street and I tried to join them but traffic had gotten heavier again.

From my position trying to join traffic from a parking lot 60 feet or so from the next intersection - I could see traffic stopping again and the dogs were crossing the street. This is a major street - 3 lanes plus a bus lane - on each side on the median (8 lanes total). I held my breath and I saw them cross safely on the far side of the street - past all the lanes and they trotted off into a residential neighborhood. Interestingly enough...I also saw a family crossing the major street in the cross-walk, coming over  to my side of the street. So maybe the cars stopped for the family at just the right time for the dogs to cross. I don't know - my view wasn't that good.
I was finally able to pull out onto the street and get down to the intersection where I found the water-ladies and the van-lady pulled off the road. The dogs where nowhere to be seen but they were off the major thoroughfare.

Unfortunately, there had also been a fender-bender at the intersection, although we didn't know if it was caused by people stopping for the dogs or the family. No one had been hurt, but 2 cars were dinged up.
A woman in a US Postal Service truck pulled in to deliver the mail and checked in about the dogs too. She hadn't been able to stop to help, but she'd been following their progress.

So - the Dog Rescue had been unsuccessful, but I was heartened that so many people had stopped to try and help.

That day was a blessing. To be reminded that there are so many people in the world willing to take extra steps...to make lovely bowls, bread, and soup, to put on or attend a luncheon to raise funds to help others have food to eat - or even to stop to try and help some dogs get safely out of the street.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Empty Bowl Luncheon - Late notice

I'm posting this on the eve of the Luncheon so this is probably a bit late to inspire folks to go to lunch, but we'll see what happens.

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona's "Empty Bowl Luncheon".

This is an event I've been meaning to go to for a few years. A friend of mine is the inspiration for my attending tomorrow's event (Thank you, Linda!). She brought this up earlier this week and we immediately plotted to go!

I am generally impressed with the Food Bank's fund raising events although, sadly, I have done a poor job of attending many of them. The events look to be quite clever, fun, and almost numerous. I'm impressed.

At the core of this particular event are handcrafted ceramic bowls that have been donated to the Community Food Bank as well as support from a variety of Tucson restaurants. Participants pay a nominal amount for lunch and they get to take home a ceramic bowl  as a reminder of hunger in our community. ($10.00 small bowl or $15.00 large bowl).
I understand there is also a silent auction and I'm plotting to drop off a pre-holiday donation to offer additional support for the food bank.

This posting on the Food Bank's Website does a much better job of describing this event.

I hope to be able to do a better job of describing the event after I attend tomorrow. Bon Appetit!