Monday, January 30, 2006

dreams do come true

Who's that I see peeking at me? A lifelong dream came true for me (and indeed, for our whole family) on Sunday. Behold the magnificent Carver's Fan.
Fannie is a 23 year old registered American Quarter Horse. She is a retired barrel racer with beautiful lines and a sweet disposition. We are temporarily boarding her at a friend's while we work on getting our fence built. She came with a lovely saddle, breastplate and headstall too. Here' a shot of the family: me, horsey girl and Princess #2. Yee - hah!
We spent the day getting to know her. I feel so very blessed. And on top of that, ANOTHER dream came true last Friday when I received my very first Secret Pal goodie box! What an incredibly intuitive and generous SP I have. Feast your eyes:
The colors of this deliciously soft merino roving reminds me of my pretty bearded iris. It also reminds me (ahem) that I haven't gotten around to putting that new string on the wheel. Along with this coveted fiber, I also got some very thoughtful items.
These are some very pretty floral notecards for writing those belated holiday thank-you's. Also a wonderful album of hammered dulcimer music...very calming and just right to knit by. Note a winter bloom from my favorite rosebush, Virgin of Guadelupe. Her foliage is dark purple against the bright clusters of pink. If it doesn't rain again I'll have more opening.

Here's my favorite retreat spot. We got this tub from a fellow's salvage pile. Princess #2 was born in it!
Looks like my windows could use a wash too! But wait...come closer and see what else I got:
Plumeria bubble bath, a nylon scrubber that sticks to the tub (essential for dry winter extremities) and a very glamorous head wrap to complete the look. Looks like I'm headed for the bath now....mmmmmmmm....thank you thank you Secret Pal.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

life as i see it

Sunday we spent a lovely day at the beach. Sadly, many of the Monterey County beaches are too polluted to swim in. Capitola is one such beach, so we just gathered shells, enjoyed a picnic, watched the surfers, then retired to the Fog Bank for hot chocolate and burgers.

I have been depressed about my work. Though I usually love my job, this year we have a new Boss who I detest. In nine years I have never received a poor evalution. Recent events have revealed several poor marks in areas I mastered long ago. Though this isn't her biggest fault, Boss Lady seems to have the "like it or lump it" attitude and is full of patronizing, rationalizing excuses for giving me a less than stellar review. She is a control freak and cannot bear to let us relax; heaven forbid we feel OK with things the way they are, and each veiled compliment must be followed by the prerequisite "..but..." It's so discouraging. All the better reason to enjoy my next two days OFF!!!
I have many things I SHOULD be doing (like finishing my other Shadow Heart sock, affectionately known as psychosok) or cleaning the house (blech), but the undertow of Blogland is strong. One particular rogue wave that has swept me out is yarnstorm. Her style, her wonderful photos, and her obvious creativity has inspired me beyond belief. She gets my vote as blogger Most Wanted To Be My Next Door Neighbor.
It would be wrong not to mention two others dear to my heart, Melanie and Christine. I have them to credit for FINALLY getting the buttons on my sidebar. Thanks so much you guys!
And to furthur prove her obvious love for me, Christine tagged me for the recent meme thingy.

4 jobs I've had:
1. Summer horseback riding camp instructor
2. Fabric store clerk
3. Seamstress
4. Kindergarten teacher

4 movies I could watch repeatedly:
1. Out Of Africa
2. A Room With A View
3. Unzipped!
4. Pee Wee's Big Adventure

4 place I have lived (boring, they're all in California):
1. Salinas
2. San Jose
3. Sunnyvale
4. Los Gatos

4 TV shows I like:
1. I Love Lucy
2. Friends
3. Martha Stewart
4. Anything on Food Network

4 websites I visit daily:
1. Hotmail
2. Yahoo
3. Lunea Weatherstone
4. My Secret Pal's blog (sh!)

4 of my favorite foods:
1. chile verde
2. salame and mustard
3. bread and cheese
4. a great salad

4 bloggers I'm tagging:
1. YOU if you read me regularly
2. YOU if you have three daughters
3. YOU if you live in California
4. YOU if you would answer any of these questions the same way

While in Hawaii, as well as visiting a hole in the wall yarn shop, I discovered a terrific fabric store. This place was WALL TO WALL with gorgeous Hawaiian fabric in every weight and design, and the prices were terrific! I will make summer pillow covers with some, maybe a couple of adorable dresses for P. #2. I already stitched up a couple of simple drawstring backpacks for gifts; I'm thinking bags, I'm thinking napkins, I'm taking suggestions too!

Thanks for reading. Back soon with more.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My Way

I have been knitting the latest 6sox sock(s). ( I have been trying and trying to get buttons on my blog. I think the learning curve here is a little steep for me. Or something. Anyway, there should be a cute little button for this group under Stuff I Do.) I knit on my breaks at school, I knitted through a two day seminar last weekend, and Princess #2 has watched WAY too many videos as I knit on...and on....and on.....on this:

Can you see the hearts? I'm afraid it looks much better in the picture. From the side it's just stripes of very very bright colors. I like the colors; in fact, waaaaaaay back on December 1st when the pattern came out, I knew immediately that I wanted to knit them in pink and orange. But now I fear it needed more contrast. *sigh* Sense my tone. The only thing worse than knitting a sock you don't really enjoy is....knitting another one. Now I may be new at this blogging stuff, but I get around. I see you all knitting Jaywalker. Don't think I haven't printed out the pattern. I know what yarn I'm gonna use, and I'm not afraid to use it. But I've committed to the 6sox gals, and being a fixed sign astrologically, I must plod on.

Then there's the case for dh's upcoming birthday. I've got the yarn for THOSE socks, too. He's a Pisces, and they are all about feet (their own, that is.) I know he'd love some in that heathery green I scored in Hawaii. But when? How???

Now here's some more whining: On Christmas Day, as you might recall I knit me up a little headband thingy. (I wear it a lot, BTW. It's just as warm as a hat, but prevents hat hair.) As I was knitting a friend of my mother's dropped by. This lady has been knitting oh, probably 60 years or so. She spied me immediately. "Oh, look" she remarks. "Someone who still knits the hard way. I see all these young people knitting nowadays...I don't know how they do it when it's just so easy to slip it off your finger." My ears turned red like my yarn. I mumbled something about teaching myself as I continued to toss each strand, over and over. Then she continued, "And what could you possibly be making with that long skinny rectangle?" At which point pride overtook me. "I actually spun this yarn myself," I asserted. "I'm just getting an idea of what it looks like knit up" (which was true at that point.) Sheesh! What is with people?

She looked casually interested, then wandered off. But the words kept coming back to haunt me: "...the hard way...the hard way..." and I wondered to myself: is this why it takes me so long to finish stuff?

But I won't let it bother me. And I probably won't change my knitting style. I WILL FINISH Standing In The Shadow Of Love, and I'll love wearing them. Meanwhile, I'm off to pack up my Secret Pal 7's first goodie box. Have a rockin' day.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Loving Life

Life is sooooo great right now. I heard from my Secret Pal last night. She says she wants to knit me socks!!! I think I'm in love.
I also sent my own Secret Pal a couple of cards and emails. Can't wait until she has time to update her blog (ahem!) My brain is stuffed with exciting things to do for her.
Meanwhile, I am late in showing you my wonderful knitting-related Solstice gifts:
Here we have some interesting yarn, a gift from my mil. She is so sweet and always buys me yarn. This year I prompted her to buy more than one skein...the better to MAKE something. This could be fun for...something. It's darker in person. Now I KNOW there are some cool yarn shops in Colorado. I think I need to let her know where they are! Any ideas out there?!
From my dear lovely sister:
This is something I have seen my friends in the Spinning Guild using and craved for myself. It winds the most beautiful center pull balls like magic! Don't be fooled, these things are more expensive than you would imagine! My sister was so sweet to get it for me. Now all I need is a niddy noddy and I am set!
And from my very talented daughter, Princess #1:
She crafted these beautiful stitch markers with beads from her stash. I think she did a wonderful job, and I am honored to use them....hhhmmmm, they'd made great gifts too don't you think? This girl has talent beyond her obvious soccer skills. She is a great artist with her mother's sense of color and flair! Rah! Thank you so much Maddi girl!!!
And lastly, do you remember this?
All Hail The Red Dragon! Here is the cloud of Merino I called Sunset Over Santa Cruz, all spun up. I spent Christmas Day at my sister's house, and it took just a couple of hours too knit this:

It's super soft, fun to wear and just keeps the old ears warm. I can't believe how incredibly pleasurable it is to knit with homespun, especially your OWN homespun!! Next up I need to start on this:
My sweet generous Spinner's Guild friend has extended the lease on her wheel - twice! It's a cranky old thing that she bought on Ebay....I'm not too surprised at her insistance that I keep on keeping it for awhile. I am still getting the hang of spinning, I've got the drawing out process down pretty well, but adjusting the wheel is a challenge. My biggest problem is how to keep it from scooting across the bamboo floor as I pedal. I guess that's why they call it an Ashford Traveller? OK but it's NOT funny. I've resorted to spinning in front of a table so it is wedged up to the leg and can't move. Not much of a view there. If anybody's out there, can you tell me what kind of wheel you spin on, and why you like it? I'd love to hear from you.
And now (drum roll.........) a FO!

I really needed a break between socks, so I knit this garter stitch scarf. OK, it's SUPPOSED to be all garter stitch, but knitting on circular needles sometimes still baffles me, and so here is a closeup:
I think it's beautiful. I like the way it made it's own fringe, being knit vertically, and letting them just hang out the ends. You can see the stitch variation here...just randomly knit, as were the color choices. I was happy to use up a little of some old eye lash yarn left over from past disasters. I guess you could call this Ode To My Stash. The pattern: Cast on 240 and knit on size 8's. Keep going until you love it.
Well that's all for now. A BIG THANK YOU to my Secret Pal for her messages and inspiration to Keep On Blogging! It's sooo fun. I leave you with this final image, I call it Cat TV:
The rats have paused for Station Identification. We will soon be back to our regular program.
Bye bye for now!

Monday, January 09, 2006

SP7 Questionnaire (Quel pas!)

OK Secret Pal, here it comes. More About Me.

1. I used to knit with anything. I do not consider myself a snob, but I appreciate quality. I like to find bargain yarn in unusual places...garage sales, thrift stores, etc. BUT ultimately I really really like nice wool. I don't AVOID R.H. and L.B. but I don't exactly seek them out. I do do do like natural fibers; I don't love silk, but wool or other earthy animally stuff makes me giddy. Stuff I used to do but don't any more: fun fur, eye lash, anything squeaky or shiny. Over it. I'm really not into fuzzy or hairy yarn, but I like lumpy bumpy or other interesting textures. The more homespun, the better!!!

2. I spin and I LOVE IT. I do not crochet (yet).

3. I store my straight needles in a homemade needle case. I bought the various fabrics at the thrift store and used the pattern from Stitch and Bitch. I wrap my circulars up into the same case, but it's not too efficient. I had my dp's in an acrylic drinking glass next to my bed, but my 3 yr old kept grabbing them, so I dumped them into an old knitting bag and stuffed them into the top of my closet.

4. I have been knitting a little over 3 years. My skill level is intermediate, and rising fast baby. I'm not afraid to tackle complicated patterns and if I can't figure it out, I'll look it up, in a book or on the net. I NEVER give up.

5. I don't have any online wish lists, but would love to find out how to make one.

6. My favorite scents: gardenia, plumeria, jasmine, rose, vanilla, brown sugar, mango, coconut, banana. Also sheep, horse and wet dog. ; )

7. I don't really crave sugar, but I enjoy candy. My favorite candy is usually chewy: caramels, jelly beans (especially black!), orange slices and Japanese rice candy. I like chocolate but don't swoon over it.

8. I am a collage artist and I do at least one magazine collage a month. I love love love to cook. I am an expert seamstress, but don't do it so much any more (I did it for a living for awhile - understand?!) I love home decorating, especially using stuff you already own in fresh new ways. I garden a little, paint and draw a little, love to organize stuff.

9. I like mellow music: Stevie Wonder, reggae, New Age, classical. I have an iPod.

10. Colors I love: pink, purple, green. I like all clear colors generally found in nature. Don't like army green, beige or anything named "dusty". My color preferences generally swing with the seasons: brights in summer, pastels in spring, jewel tones in winter, etc. White is lovely but impractical for my lifestyle.

11. My family situation is endearingly complicated. I am married with one girl, Princess #2 (3). I have two girls from a prior marriage: horsey girl (11) and Princess #1 (14). Princess #1 lives with xh most of the time. Horsey girl lives with me 1/2 time. In addition, I have three dogs, eight cats, five hens, two rats, and soon a horse..."but the unicorn was the loveliest of all."

12. I like scarves and hats. I have never worn mittens (I'm a California Girl), but I would like to try. Not sure about ponchos....I have one but don't wear it. Probably would prefer a shawl or wrap.

13. My favorite yarn is homespun, hands down.

14. My least favorite yarn is synthetic. I do *not* like fuzzy, fringy, or otherwise *fun* stuff.

15. My current knitting obsession is socks. Socks! Socks! Socks! I can't stop typing it. I also enjoy finding projects to fit my homespun, not matter how meager or inventive. I like to try new things...

16. My favorite things to knit are fairly quick: hats, scarves, socks, headbands, etc. I do have the stamina for larger projects, but I crave more instant gratification. I like to knit for gifts.

17. Right now I am knitting a garter stitch vertically striped scarf and some shadow work socks for the 6sox knitalong (OK, I've only cast on the first one - and I need to frog some on that!) Strangely enough, I have closure issues and that means I am rarely working on more than one item at a time. Perhaps with experience that will change. I alreadly notice that I crave different projects in between similar ones: after my last socks, I really needed that scarf to take the edge off.

18. I absolutely LOVE homemade gifts - the homier, the better!!!

19. I am still figuring out circular needles, though I have a small collection. I don't prefer one to the other, mainly due to lack of experience I suppose.

20. Bamboo or wood needles are my favorites, but I'll try anything! I love finding old used needles in unlikely places (garage sales, etc.)

21. I scored a center pull ball winder for Christmas this year! But I REALLY want a niddy noddy.

22. I taught myself to knit with a kit when I was pregnant with Princess #2. It took a long time. Luckily, her Highness was 2 weeks late. The unlovely resulting hat has long since been misplaced.

23. My oldest UFO is also my only. It is a wrap sweater from Vogue Knitting 2002 in a "dusty rose". Upon close examination this wool is exactly something my mother would have chosen, hence the "UFO" classification. I will probably never knit this thing, but what to do with ten skeins of raw hamburger colored sport weight? The last straw was the stitch pattern, the horrific moss stitch. Somebody shoot me.

24. I'm too old for cartoons, but I love horses, dogs, cats, goats and (naturally) sheep. Horses probably top the list. I just inherited one and she is coming home soon!

25. Being Pagan, I enjoy all the natural holidays. Spring Equinox is lovely, followed by Summer Solstice and the accompanying revelry. Autumn is tough since it means the waning of the Light (I'm a Sun Sign). I like Winter Solstice and Christmas because I like presents!!! In between we have Candlemas (2/2) and Eostara, both nice in their own way. Spring is new beginnings and fresh starts, always appealing.

26. I collect books by Alexandra Stoddard; I am missing only her first, Design For Living. I also collect old magazines for collage work, unusual fabrics, and vintage knitting patterns.

27. I have no knitting magazine subscriptions! I'd like Knit.1 and Spin Off.

28. As for books, I'd love anything by Elizabeth Zimmerman, especially Knitting Without Tears (the older the copy the better)

29. Someday I Will Knit Lace.

30. (See question #15) My foot measures 10 inches x 3 1/4 inches.

31. My birthday is August 14, 1964.

Whew! I think I learned a lot too!!! Blessings.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Blessings for 2006

Here's good fortune for the new year: three hens laying! My lovely Auracanas gifted me with the colored ones, the brown is from Red Angel, my Rhode Island from February. It's actually amazing that anyone is laying since it is terrifically stormy and cold here. Dh and Princess are all curled up with Fritos and football. I have dyed the rest of my old Merino with blue raspberry lemonade Koolaid and it is drying by the fire. I spent a frustrating 1/2 hour trying to get the wheel to work and try some of the lovely Alpaca I scored, but alas. I haven't the patience or (evidently) the skill. Even the spindle felt wrong. As Scarlett would say, "Tomorrow is another day".
I did cast on 240 (!) stitches on size 8 circ's purchased at my favorite thrift store (red plastic with white tips!) to make a garter stitch scarf with my stash. Wish I could remember what blog I saw that idea on...anyway I can't get it out of my head and now we're off. All the fun beginning attempts at spinning look great mixed in with whatever I grab out of the bag.

Here is my altar for Winter Solstice. You can see the Hawaiin influence here. Forefront is a bag of sand from Waikiki beach. Also a white feather found on the island, a symbol of the grace of Spirit. On the right is dh's gifts: a glow-in-the-dark Madonna holding a lovely beaded Serenity bracelet. (More present pictures to come.) Oranges for prosperity, plumeria incense and the Red Dragon, a gift from dh on my last birthday, shortly after contracting another blood clot in my leg. (Red Dragon is the healer of blood diseases.) My mom got me the terrific flowered gardening tools. Candles and my tarot deck completes the picture.
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