Thursday, June 26, 2008

A variety of distractions

We're finally going to have a HOT weekend in the 80's, maybe approaching 90 degrees! OK, hot for Seattle. We've been working in the yard, planting vegetables, weeding, and hoping the weather will be better soon. The peonies take full advantage of the sun and defy the chilly air - I love the powder-puff appearance and wonderful fragrance. I've been hearing we won't get many vegetables because of the delay of warmth and sunshine - we have been picking and eating our pineapple strawberries, and our climbing rose is blooming like crazy, but the produce is still small - the growth looks more like early May than the end of June.

I've been wanting to have a outdoor work space for a couple of years, and finally found room on the side of our house. We took a trip out to Marenako's last Saturday and shoveled 600 lbs of 3/8" and 3/4" crushed granite into the back of the truck. The larger went on the path around the vegetable garden, and the smaller went to create a "floor" for my potting area and hutch. While George worked on his motorcycles, I weeded, sorted rocks, raked, put down landscapers' cloth, shoveled the gravel into the wheelbarrow, then spread it. I was stiff for a couple of days afterward, and it was completely worth it. And you can see that Maverick was enjoying it with me.

The past few weeks have challenged me in a several areas, most important was that back in May, George had an injury involving pain and numbness in his right arm. He thought it was a pulled muscle, then a pinched nerve, then, after staying home on pain pills for a couple of weeks, he and his neurosurgeon decided he needed to have surgery at the C7 vertebra in his neck to enlarge the hole (framen?) through which the nerves travel (I, of course, may not remember the actual medical terms). The decision was made on the Friday of the LYS tour, and the surgery was on Monday.

So it was an interesting weekend... George talked about the surgery in a sort of blithe manner, and it wasn't until I actually said to him "This is a BIG DEAL." and he answered, "No Shit!" that the gravity was acknowledged between us. Fortunately, he has a very skilled neurosurgeon, and the doctor's first words to me after the surgery were: "He has a really big neck! And he came through very well." George was in the hospital for only about 26 hours. He began to feel better almost immediately, although he stayed on the pain pills for around two weeks. He finally stopped taking them due to his inability to sleep while under their effects. I got some first-hand experience in how taking pain meds long term can affect a person's behavior, and was very glad when he stopped. He went back to work on light duty for nearly two weeks doing data entry, then was so bored that he felt strong enough to return to regular duty this week. He's been much happier and very fortunate to be whole again, and having his first motocross race since the injury coming up this weekend is icing on the cake.

The above mentioned LYS tour was fun this year - I made it to only a few stores, but enjoyed them all. I began on Thursday with So Much Yarn and Hilltop Yarn Queen Anne, then went to Village Yarn and Tea in the evening for my class. On Friday, George and I stopped at Weaving Works on our way downtown for an errand, then went to Mill Creek for dinner so I could go to Main Street Yarn, then on Saturday, I visited my parents on Bainbridge Island since I was determined to go to Churchmouse Yarns & Tea. Upon my return from the ferry, George took me on his motorcycle to Acorn Street and Tricoter. OK, it was more than a few stores. I will post photos of my treasures as I knit the charming patterns from each store. I didn't go to any more shops on Sunday, because I was unable to walk out of any previous store without making a purchase, and because I wanted to spend that time with George. It was finally a nice day, so we worked in the yard and were able to relax a bit.

My attention was also on Naomi's retirement from the City. Her office was one floor above mine, and although our schedules meant that we saw little of each other at work, I liked knowing that she was nearby. My dear friend is responsible for drawing me back to knitting, and I have such amazing companionship and joy in the time I have spent with her as well as my newfound fiber friends. I didn't listen to her request for no retirement gifts since I had already ordered and received the custom Seattle Mariner Socks that Rock yarn from Tricoter, and decided to knit her the Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts she mentioned in her blog (I knitted a 36 stitch width instead of the 48 stitch for a longer, narrower scarf). Amy set up the photo for me - Blue Moon's lightweight yarns are just a dream to knit with. So I'm thrilled for Naomi to be doing whatever she wants every single day, and even though we won't be seeing each other at work, we'll still be meeting with our yarns, and that's the best part anyway! Congratulations, Naomi!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Lot of Small Things

Can it really be June already? And I haven't posted for over a month? I have many events whirling me around in my daily life, so I have only posted in my head.

Since last time, I completed my red Silky Wool topdown sweater and have worn it several times. I love the design and the fit - I found that the yarn holds shape very well and was surprised that I was itching on my back. I've never been allergic to wool, and would have never expected itching from a silk and wool blend... so I wear a high-back camisole underneath and have been enjoying the sweater very much.

I've also completed and blocked my Kauni wristlets from Ruth Sorenson's class, and I love her design. I gave them to my color-loving friend, Cheryl, for her birthday and she was thrilled to receive a handknit gift. I'll knit more of these in a cooler season.

My enjoyment of cotton bath mitts continues (three of my latest are to the left) and now I'm mixing as many colors as I can. I gave one to my friend, Claudia, for her birthday. She worried that her husband would want to use it too, so I knitted him a larger, jewel-toned mitt. Then she admitted that their 8 year old son, Drew, took possession of both mitts because he loves them. Well, with that kind of admiration, he will, of course get one of his very own in his size for his July birthday.
I made my first visit to Renaissance Yarns in Kent (I didn't find a website, but this blog shows classy photos and says nice things that I agree with) with my long-time friend, Pam. After carrying around numerous skeins I wanted to buy, I limited myself to two Jitterbug colors. I will definitely stop in whenever I'm in the area!

And I finally gave in to the urge and managed to actually be quick enough to get project bags from Amy. Her mother sews them and they have such charming details... I've been carrying at least one project bag with me at all times, and I admittedly try to match the colors of my project with the bag - helps my short memory, you see.

Pam's daughter, Rachel, has known me as Auntie for all her life, and when Rachel's son, Connor, had his first birthday, I decided to knit him a sweater I thought he (OK, his Mommy and Grammy) would like. I got to reinforce some skills and learn others when I needed to increase the pattern to his actual size, and when the designs were done with intarsia and double stitch embroidery. I managed to get it done in a week, and even included my label since it's important to Rachel. She and Pam loved the sweater - Connor was more interested in the blocks I gave him. The star sweater is knit with Cascade's Superwash, and was a lot of fun! I took the photos in their garden.

I've had the FiberTrends Felted Clog pattern for months now, and finally knit a pair for Mitch's (my Seattle architect brother) birthday this month. I admit to some silly challenges since I seem to have a mental block about reading a pattern through before starting. Sigh. I did complete them in time for his Sunday morning visit and had him try on the oversized pre-felted versions. He was a little suspicious about why they were so large, but cautiously suspended doubt as I dropped them in the washer for the agitation stage. Maverick became agitated himself since I dropped in half a dozen tennis balls - he guarded the washer all day to keep track of those balls. Mitch and I had a rare chance to hang out and talk while the magic happened, and he was thrilled with the results. He is so talented himself that I'm truly happy to give him something made with my own hands.

My Blue Moon order of Karen Alfke's Linen-Cuff sock pattern arrived with a lovely skein of Lunasea colorway in Silkie Socks That Rock. I didn't think the linen stitch would show up with that yarn, so I knitted them in the Bright Leaf color in Jitterbug (right). Athough the yarn is not medium-weight, I blithely followed the instructions for the cuff and like the resulting texture and weight very well. When picking up for the foot of the sock, I decided to have an emphasis on the cuff and picked up with a purl row before beginning the foot. I wore them yesterday (unfortunately, Seattle weather isn't warm enough yet to make wool socks uncomfortable) - I love them! And I started right up on my Regia self-striping socks! Must always have sock project for travel purposes!
Some progress has been made on my Rowan Lynton cardigan knit from Rowan's Cotton Jeans yarn - I'm just to the decrease point for the neck on the front pieces and still have the sleeves and collar to go. I love the sweater and the yarn so was puzzling in my Skills Building class with Rebecca about why I'm taking so long to finish this garment. Having to frog the fronts at least four times to get the correct increase slant for the angled opening and knitting this beautiful yarn so tightly to get a jacket texture on needles I truly dislike have each contributed a negative point or two. I'm working hard to stick with it so I can wear this sweater by July. I'm just hoping I won't NEED to wear it in July.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


When I logged on to complete the post I've been working on in snatches, I found that I've been memed by Naomi! Answering the questions is pretty fun - I just don't know 6 people who have blogs and haven't yet been memed.

The rules: Are posted at the beginning. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blog and leaves a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer. Play nice, children!

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? I was living in my town home in Kirkland, working as a Community Service Officer with the Seattle Police Department, and had been seeing George for two years by that time. In my job, I was completely involved in the Neighborhood Action Team Seattle, which was a sort of "one-stop-shop" for coordinating responses from a variety of City departments to neighborhood issues. We did some very good work at coming up with fresh strategies, and made some long-term contacts. I stopped rowing crew in spring of that year to correct my deviated septum with a septoplasty, then I never rejoined the team. Four of us rowing women periodically organized a gourmet dinner for ourselves and our partners. We met at a coffee shop to plan the menu and decide who was responsible for which dishes one week, then the following weekend spent a day shopping, cooking, then sitting down to eat a four course gourmet menu. It was a lot of fun to learn new cooking skills with others.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today - not in any particular order? Get my yogurt parfait breakfast, meet with my manager, vacuum and fold clothes when I get home, sew in ends on a pair of socks that I added new toes to, and complete my new Karen Alfke linen cuff socks so I can wear them tomorrow.

3. Snacks I enjoy: Mrs. May's Almond Crunch, cinnamon-sugar pita chips from Trader Joe's, sliced cucumbers with light ranch dressing, Kashi 7 grain crackers with Trader Joe's hummous, Luna bars, Fiber One Oats & Chocolate Bar, and nearly anything with cinnamon or chocolate.

4. Places I've lived: Kansas and Missouri before we moved to Washington. We lived in a rental in Bellevue while our house was being built in the area now called SeaTac, then in Riverton Heights, Kirkland, and Kenmore. While going to school, I lived in Pullman, then later in Staufen and Prien, Germany.

5. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Pay off my house, and get the landscaping completed, buy George a motorcycle garage with a dirt track and lots of insurance, gift my friends & family according to their dreams, donate to Humane Society and Planned Parenthood, buy a vacation home or two, and take my friends traveling with me - if they want to go! I'd also be knitting, but that's no different than now. I might also buy matching recreational single shells for George and I so I would get back on the water.

6. What are some jobs I've had? Babysitting; sewing (tailoring new garments & alterations); fast food in high school; retail sales at fabric store; a summer with Fotomat in one of those tiny parking lot booths; wiring diagram draftsperson at Boeing; sales; management; buyer at Frederick & Nelson; commission sales of new technology: Fax machines! Since reaching adulthood, I've actually had at least four careers! I currently work as a tax collector, and in my spare time, I occasionally help people sort through their clothes by organizing closets and drawers with them and making recommendations for their wardrobe shopping.

7. People I want to know more about:
Janine, Karen, Kristin - I know this isn't six, but they are who I want to know more about!

And I actually have another post nearly ready, finally!