Thursday, February 26, 2009

This February Is Out of Here!

Here's the Christmas cactus blooming in February! Remember it bloomed in November also! It is too strange. Anyway, it is alive and well-no matter the month! Yesterday was a Blessings Day! I went to the tax preparation lady, and my taxes are not as bad as I thought they would be. I don't owe much money at all! As I drove into my drive, a black truck drove in right behind me. There were 4 young men from Texas who wanted to know if I wanted my trees trimmed. As with any disaster, one has to be aware of rip-offs, and stranger danger.

I talked to them at length-Where are you from, Why are you here, What do you charge, etc.etc. I got to know them all pretty well. They were willing to trim my 5 biggest trees by climbing into the trees and trimming them! I was a little bit leery of anyone climbing into the trees, but they said there is no way to use a bucket on some of the trees. When they returned from lunch, they got to work immediately. It took them about 2 to 21/2 hours to trim out my 5 big trees. One young man climbed up to the tippy-top of my catalpa, and he shimmied along all the big limbs of the white oak. They took care to manage all their equipment. When they were through with something, they folded it up carefully and put it back into its place.

In the meantime, I began dragging limbs from the back to the front to put by the roadside for cleanup. I am sceptical that anyone is actually going to come by and cleanup the mess. But everyone assures me that there is cleanup. The young men dragged their pieces and laid them neatly in a pile.

Then my friend GO came by with his chainsaw to cut up more on the lot behind my house. There is probably enough wood on this place and that lot to last him 3 years of wood burning. So my yard was buzzing with activity.

Last night I remembered why it is difficult to keep up with 4 young men on the work front. I was physically whupped. I ran a really hot bath and soaked for 30 minutes. I took ibuprofen and climbed into bed and read until 11p.m.

So thanks be to the spirits that help me out and send nice people to my doorstep!

I found an interesting audiobook at the library yesterday, Galileo's Daughter. It is translated from the Italian, and is based on letters between Galileo and his oldest daughter. He placed her in a convent at age 13 for safety. She was his main support system while he was being persecuted by the Catholic Church. I am going to listen to this while spinning. It should be interesting. I am reading Daughter of the Forest. It is a fictional book based on the fairy tale of the girl who had to make shirts for her 6 brothers out of nettles to break the spell of the evil stepmother. The sorceress had changed them into swans and when the sister completes the shirts and puts them onto the swans they will return to human form. Although I had known this fairy tale, the book is very riveting and suspenseful. This girl has more guts and stamina than I every could have. And she gets into lots of trouble along the way.

Well, I think I will complete my rest day by spinning. I have knit group tonight, and I will do my knitting tonight. Tomorrow it is back to the yard for more work. But today I am resting my tired-out old body. I have three beds ready for planting, and I filled one of my planters that I always put flowers in about May. It is hard to shovel dirt into the wheelbarrow and haul it to the back of the house. But I want to get these garden beds completed, and then I will turn to the front flower garden once again. I still have tons of small limbs and trash to pick up. I am looking for someone to have a shredder/chipper. GO says he has one, but he is not sure if it works. That would make clean up easier with this smaller stuff.

Enough griping. I am just going to relish my blessings and start spinning!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Knit?

I just listened to three podcasts, and I have been thinking about them since. I was washing my dishes (a once-a-day thing), and thinking about what Y Knits always asks people, "Why do you knit". I could say all the usual cliche things, but what got me to thinking was the thought of having fun.

Why would anyone spend a fortune to go to a fiber workshop, a fiber retreat, a fiber event of any kind, or spend a fortune buying fiber or yarn? I think we have to have fun and play a little bit. Certainly knitting is not a necessity any more, and the things we make are gorgeous, creative, and sometimes a little wild and funky. I think there is a need to be playful, to be creative, and a need to express ourselves in some form of art. Some people paint, some people do pottery, some people do art glass, some people .......... You get the drift. I think fiber is tactile, it is candy for the eyes, and it fills the void by creating something with my own two hands. I love to knit luscious yarns, I love to smell fibers, I love to look at other people's knitting, I love to talk about design and pattern, and I love color. It goes even further when I take the fleece, dye it, spin it, and knit it.

We have to push ourselves to try new things, we have to stretch ourselves by moving out of the "comfort zone", and we have to experiment.

Yesterday CJ and I solved several problems by overdyeing some not-so-pretty yarn and dyeing some plain ole white yarn that wasn't speaking to her. It was a fun, spontaneous dye job, and the colors were perfect! I did not use the measuring spoons, I did not use the measuring cups, I just used the "glop" method of how much vinegar do I put in. There was a little dye left in the green dyepot, so I wetted an ounce of clean wool fleece, and put it in. It is a pretty light mossy green. Very nice!

So knitting is surely a repetitive visual spatial task that one normally does by oneself. But it is fun to be with others, it is fun to compare notes, and it is fun to experiment. This is not a task that is necessary to create warm socks or freeze your feet. It is a giggly way to have the most colorful, fantastic socks on your feet, and it will make people smile when they see them.

So keep on knitting, keep on spinning, keep on dyeing, keep on doing what is fun and makes you happy.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Welcome to Madrona!

After the flight from Hell, I finally made it to the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Washington. There was a Huge Banner that announced that I was finally in the right place at the right time! From the stories I heard, the hotel was in renovation last year, and it was a mess. It was really quite lovely this year. Tacoma is a mecca for glass artists, and the hotel supports that art. Everywhere there was glass art. In niches, hanging from the ceiling, or statuary. These were huge boats, I assume Viking-est.
Every little seating nook held knitters. I mean-everyone was knitting, knitting, and knitting. I was astonished that people were knitting large, difficult pieces while sipping drinks, talking, and visiting friends. In the restaurant, there were knitting going on while people were waiting on meals or afterwards while having coffee. By Saturday, the local folk were bringing in spinning wheels, and a coupla nooks held spinning circles. There were spinning classes also. I did notice a few riggid heddle weavers, but by Saturday I saw someone set up a small loom. It looked like a Baby Wolf from the distance that I saw it.

There were 25 floors of rooms, and I got the Breast Floor. Every floor features a different artist. These are from a woman in Great Britain. There is framed photos along the walls with the artist in her studio. My room had a drawing of a female nude torso.

I had really good classes. I enjoyed the way the teachers presented the information. I learned some new tricks, and I was reminded why I created certain habits in my knitting. It is no secret that we all lean towards whatever makes it easier and faster. I had to reacquaint myself with some techniques, but it was fun.
We had programs Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night. Thursday night The Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) convinced me that if I keep on challenging myself with my knitting, I may not be so demented in the future. Evidently there are several scientific studies that show repetitive visual spatial tasks increase neuron activity in the brain. Knitting also can induce the Theta state, and that is where most of our creative ideas are born. Friday night Cat Bordhi demonstrated with a skit that knitting could actually be older than the experts claim. She also showed us beautiful knitting and her grandson Charlie. Both women are so funny, and it is hard to tell the jokes. You just had to be there.
Saturday night we had a sit-down banquet, and of course, we had salmon. During dessert and coffee, Elsabeth Lavold was the guest speaker. She showed slides and discussed her process of creating the Viking knitting series. I cannot imagine walking out my door, and there is a huge Rune Stone. But they are evidently all over Sweden where she lives. She did show slides of some of the Rune stones that she got design ideas.
And of course, there was the Market. If one does not have fiber lust before Market, just walking through the door creates it. I did buy some camel/merino roving, some yak/merino roving, a merino superwash roving that is in colors of turquoise, greens, blues, and white showing. It will be gorgeous yarn. I bought some skeins of Socks That Rock-lightweight-because I had never seen it before and I wanted to try it. It is a regional yarn, but is sold all over. Everyone there was lusting after STR, so I pushed myself in and got some. I also bought a skein of Malabrigo to make socks also. I bought other little things, but for the most part, I was careful with my money. I had to budget my meal money.
I had to buy a tote bag in the hotel gift shop to get all my loot home. The fiber took up a lot of room. As you can see, Baby thinks it is just the right size for a kitty cave. Airport security was suspicious of my tote bag, and I had to empty everything out and they had to examine everything. I mean, do they think fiber is bomb material?

Since this was my first Madrona experience, my impressions will not be that important. But I think it is always good to go to other regions to see what people are doing in the fiber world. I was impressed with the knitting that people are doing. I watched people knit, and for the most part I felt competent to be among them. The styles are different, and lots and lots of shawls. Nice, light, lacey, feathery shawls. And people wore them like everyday sweaters. Here they are more fancy and dressy. But they are the same patterns, but people wear them differently.
I learned a lot just by watching, talking to locals, and talking to shop owners at the market. I would say the economy is healthy in fiber arts in the Northwest. There are shops everywhere. Not just knitting, but crocheting, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and other fiber arts. Oh-felting. There was one vendor that had huge sheets of felting to use. And lots of fibers to felt.
Also, Tacoma being the art glass place it is, there was a vendor that had glass needles and crochet hooks. And they were beautiful and functional. Of course, they had glass buttons. Everyone carried glass buttons. Just beautiful. I did buy one little glass marker because I had misplaced mine. I didn't want to buy a whole pack of them, and there were some odd ones in a little bowl.
I walked around one day just to walk and get some air. The downtown is striving to be the theater/arts part of town, as far as I could tell. I didn't meet anyone from there. I found north of the hotel was more theater places. And then south I found a huge art supply business near the Tacoma Arts Center. I did find a thrift store, but they weren't open. Shucks! I love to go in thrift stores in other towns.
If I were to consider doing something like this again, I certainly think 4 days was too long for me. I was really tired by Sunday. I think I would try to get some classes on two days, and only spend 2-3 days at most. I cannot imagine what the teachers were doing to keep sane. I did talk to Vivian Hoxboro, and she said she was going to go home on Tuesday. Mainly because she could get a ticket much cheaper on Tuesday than Monday to Denmark. That would also give her a day to rest, walk around some, and just be by herself a while.
So now I am back home. I am finally getting back to routine. I spent two good days this week cleaning up debris from the yard, raking, and filling up my raised beds with dirt. I am determined to get my gardening started in March. Every time one moves, dirt has to be made. I start with good topsoil, then I amend it with manure, compost, and Miracle Grow. I wasn't ready for manure last Fall, so this year I will just start with good topsoil and Miracle Grow. This Fall I will get a load of horse manure and winter it over. That will help next year.
Just listened to WeaveCast on ITunes. It is a really good podcast. Must go now. CJ is coming over to knit and see all my loot and to hear about the trip. Want to finish some spinning before she gets here. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Photos for Yarn Swap on Ravelry

This picture is for the ladies I have been communicating with about a yarn swap. I apologize for the poor quality of this, but it was done in a hurry. The Lorna's Laces is in the upper right hand corner and you can barely see it. The one next to the Regia band is black and white with a touch of beige. I am knitting 2 inch squares and it will take a lifetime to make this. I just want something new and different in my box of yarn. Thanks.

It's Been A Long Three Weeks!

These pictures are only some of the photos I took of the ice storm. It is so amazing how it all happened. There was ice on things by Tuesday morning when I got up on January 27, 2009. Then it rained off and on all day, but the rain froze as soon as it landed on something. I lost power at 11:00 a.m. for 5 days. I had no heat, but I cooked on top of the gas stove. The new gas stoves do not have pilot lights like the old ones, so I could not heat the oven. I used my emergency oil lamps at night, but the fumes were awful! I used a battery operated book light that I clipped onto my Kindle to read. My fingers were too cold to knit. I used a hot water bottle under the covers to keep the bed warm, which was the warmest place in the house. I lost the contents of the refrigerator and freezer, but I gave the meat to neighbors who had a generator and 18 family members staying with them. I just got my cable service back yesterday, and I am now connected to the world again.

Baby now seeks the warmest places in the house. That was her lesson from the storm. I found her just sitting in the dryer after I began folding clothes yesterday. She laid on top of me most of the time, or on top of the hot water bottle. Noodles got under the covers and stayed there most of the time. You would never know that they had fur coats and were actually better equipped than I was. I had on three layers on the bottom and four on the top, plus gloves and a hat. There were 5 blankets on the bed.
I escaped for a week to go to Tacoma, Washington, to the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat. I will post pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Cox finally got the message that I did not have cable service. That the cable was lying on the ground due to the ICE STORM-2009!!!!!! Two nice gentlemen came this afternoon and laid a new cable. Hurray! Over 200 emails to go through, stuff to attend to (like insurance crap for the storm), and sorting out thoughts. So much has happened in three weeks, and I don't want to bore myself with pity stories. In case anyone reads this, I will put pictures on soon.

I just got back from Madrona last night. I am exhausted, and I am tired. I learned a lot, I met some fabulous folks (and you know who you are), and I had a helluva ride with Northwest-merging with Delta-and I will never fly them again if I can help it.

So-I am back. Thank goodness. I have had a major withdrawal from internet service. Three weeks is a long time.