Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Musings

With the holidays about midpoint, it's time for some needed introspection about my life and goals for the coming year. Christmas Eve I got two pieces of life changing news - first, this is the last year we will be gathering at my brother's place for our Christmas celebration. My SIL is hoping to be in Hawaii next year for Christmas. She told us she started hosting the event because my parents had too much candy out at their home over the holidays and she didn't want her kids exposed to the sweets. Now the oldest is a freshman in college and the youngest is a junior in high school. The second piece of news was that my Mom wasn't strong enough to leave the rehab center to be with us. My Dad died in 2005 and now Mom won't be at the celebrations any more either. After dinner and present opening, my brother and sister and I talked about our options for Mom's care from here on out. 

Mom was found on the floor of her assisted living apartment at 6:30 Sunday morning, December 13th, with confused thoughts on how she got there and no idea how long she had been there. She was transported to a hospital to be checked and the doctors decided she needed to stay overnight for observation and more tests. We had her moved to the hospital by my sister's place where Mom usually goes, they had been on ambulance diversion due to heavy patient load when Mom was transported. By the time I got to Portland, Mom was at the second hospital and all three of us kids were there during the admittance process, when the admitting nurse confirmed Mom's meds as shown in their computer. Unfortunately, for some reason as yet unknown, she did not get any of her multiple meds and by Wednesday she was in a lot of pain, her fingers and feet were swollen and red from her arthritis, and we kids were furious when we found out. The hospital is normally excellent and when my sister asked the nurse about Mom's meds, the nurse said Mom had had her two pills. My sister told her Mom takes about a dozen pills a day and the nurse flew out to the computer and pulled up her chart. Things started happening quickly at that point and they had Mom's afternoon meds in less than an hour. She got her regular pills the next morning and her pain level decreased drastically, but we don't know how much damage was done and if it shortened her life or reduced her quality of life. 

On the 18th, it was decided to transfer Mom to a rehab center to see if they could help her regain enough strength to be able to go back to her apartment. However, one of the problems found in the hospital was that she was seriously dehydrated. The assisted living center is just that, assistance, not nursing care. During our discussion Christmas Eve, none of us felt comfortable about Mom going back to her apartment because we all feel she needs more care than the center can provide without bringing in outside help that would not be covered by Medicare. We have to give the assisted living center 30 days notice before she can move out, so next week my brother and sister will start researching what facilities are available near my sister's house, so she can visit Mom daily. We have until January 6th to get Mom someplace appropriate for her needs at this point in her life. Her dementia has increased substantially since her surgery in August, something I have noticed in other elderly after general anesthesia. Mom never wanted to go this way, she is a strong Christian and always hoped she would go in her sleep, not having to be a burden to us kids. We don't consider caring for her a burden, as this is something we want to do and do the best job we can for her. 

So that was two major pieces of life changing news at the same time, on top of a really busy holiday season at work, hostile work environment issues with my regular supervisor, and fighting a cold that is being intensified by my allergies. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time Christmas Eve crying, both at my brother's house and later at home. I also did some crying Christmas Day before I went to see her and then at my sister's afterwards. And a whole lot of praying for strength, wisdom, guidance, and peace as I go through this time of life. But there is a good side to this - I am finally thinking out the steps I need to take to improve my quality and length of life, after seeing what Mom is going through and realizing what caused some of the problems. I've made some good changes this year and seen good results, but I know there are more changes that will improve my life more and give me better quality of life later on. I had been going to the mall to walk in the morning before work, until I developed a problem with a foot that prevented me from walking comfortably. That's been resolved, but I haven't gone back to the mall as I just can't motivate myself. The other day I was remembering when I was going to Portland State University and how well I felt. I walked a lot in those days, wearing out a pair of hiking boots each term in spite of riding the bus for long distances. But the difference is that I was walking with a destination in mind - class, work, library, home, shopping, visiting. Walking in circles around the mall just drives me batty. So the steps I need to take are to buy a good pair of walking shoes and a good backpack to carry things in. There is a warehouse grocery store about a mile from my house, so after work I can walk over there to pick up a few groceries several times a week and increase my stamina. And there are several restaurants I can walk to to have tea and do some knitting at, meeting friends. 

Okay, enough about these issues and now on to some good knitting news. I managed to get all the Christmas presents done on time, even with finishing knitting the stocking cap for my oldest nephew at my brother's house Christmas eve. But I got it finished and wrapped in time for the present opening time, yea!

First, New Moon fingerless mitts for both my nieces, who are avid Twilight fans. New Moon Fingerless Mitts

Next, K2 P2 stocking caps for my  two nephews, which I did not get pictures of before gifting them. I used Cascade 220 Heathers on size 4 needles to whip them out. 

I knit a Cat's Paw lace scarf for my SIL using Jo Sharp Kid Mohair yarn in white. SIL Cat's Paw lace scarf

I knit Porphyria fingerless mitts for my sister using some beautiful yarn custom dyed by Three Fates Knitting.Sister's Porphyria fingerless mitts

I still need to knit gloves for my DH using the left over black and white hand spun yarns from his Norway cardigan, but I have time now. 

At the moment, I'm working on Mittens and Hats With Cats for a friend. I gifted her the knitting last Christmas, if she bought the pattern and the yarns for it. So now it's time to get them knitted for her. She had put the yarns away and couldn't find them for several months. I've got the first mitten done, except for the thumb. I like to do both thumbs at the same time, after getting the mittens done, because sometimes I have to tweak the pattern to get the thumbs to come out right and I want both mittens to match. 

I spent some time earlier this month and last, before I had decided what to make for my family, working on my Dream Coat. At this point, I've knit up almost all the yarn I have spun up and will have to buy another hank of roving and spin it before I can finish the coat. Dream Coat knit of Dicentra's beautiful rovings handspun by me I just need to finish the ends of the sleeves, do the cuffs, the front bands, sew the underarm seams, run ends in, wash and block. I had been hoping to have this coat done by the end of the year, so I could cross it off my 2010 Projects list for a good start to the New Year.

Yesterday at my sister's she told me that a good friend of her son really likes the hat I made last year for my youngest nephew and would love a hat like it. I spun a worsted weight yarn using Dicentra roving and knit a simple K2 P2 ribbing for the hat. It's the really bright colors the boy likes, so I'm going to find a way to knit him his own hat as soon as I can. He's abused by both his parents, who are divorced, with his father even driving over to his house just to beat up on him. So he needs to know that somebody in the world cares enough about him to do the work to spin and knit him a hat to wear. 

I've been reading posts on Ravelry about resolutions folks are making for the New Year. On one of the threads, someone posted that she doesn't make resolutions, she makes intentions instead. I like that idea a lot, because resolutions always feel to me like they are made of glass - once you break them, there is always a crack that shows. But intentions are different, if you slip up, you just recommit to them and carry on. They are flexible enough for real life but important enough to persevere with working on in spite of bumps in the road. So I'm going to set up a Book of Intentions and not write in it until New Year's Day. I'll not only put knitting projects in it, I'll also put in things I want to accomplish around the house, in the garden, the flower beds, my truck (a classic 1979 Ford F150 with a Thunderbird canopy), needlework and my health. I can see the Book of Intentions being a long term project, not just for one year, but an ongoing roadmap and history of where I want to go, where I am, and where I'm going. 

It's now time to get off the computer and get ready for the potluck my knitting group is having today. I'm going to stop by the store and pick up a veggie platter with dip as my contribution. And I'll take the Cat Mittens along to work on, as my friend won't be there and I haven't told her I've started knitting on them yet. I'd like to surprise her with the mittens and hat all done and ready for her to block to fit her personally. Hope everyone had a good Christmas and looks forward to a Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Holiday Gift Knitting Update

Just wanted to post an update on my knitting progress for holiday gifts. Last night I finished running in the ends on the two pair of New Moon Fingerless Mitts that I knit for my two nieces. I had started a different pattern for the oldest niece, who is in college, but then Monday evening I was texting with my brother and he said both girls are into the Twilight series. So I changed my plans and both pair will go to them. Fortunately, both mitts had the color patterns turn out in pairs, so they won't get them mixed up. Then I used most of the left over yarn for a premie cap for the group we are making to deliver to the local NICU on St. Distaff's Day on January 2nd.

So today I'm back to working on the Porphyria mitts, which will go to my sister. I may use the leftover yarn from those for a pair of Jasmine Fingerless Mitts for myself. The yarn is custom dyed by my friend Stephania, of Three Fates Yarn. I've got one mitt done except for the thumb, which I put on hold until the second mitt body is done so they end up the same length. 

I'm going to knit a white kid mohair scarf for my SIL, I bought the yarn several months ago on a yarn crawl with the Salem Area Ravelers. I'll just pick a simple lace pattern out of my books and knit until I run out of yarn. For my brother I'm not sure what to make, so I won't worry about it for now. My sister had told me Sunday that we're only exchanging gifts for the kids, so we'll see.

Work has gotten very busy, and the lines are longer with the cuts in staffing. We're working as fast as we can (or most of us are, there are a couple who don't have more than one speed) and for the most part folks are being patient with us. I'm really hoping to get the weeks of Christmas and New Year's off on vacation, won't know until the week before when the schedule is posted. But I put in for it last year and the work load will be very low so it should happen.

This is the favorite yarn I bought at Sock Summit 09 that I'm knitting into socks, that have been put on hold until the holiday knitting is done. Can't wait to get back to it!

Happy knitting!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Holiday Countdown is on!

The Holiday Countdown has begun! I decided last week that instead of giving gift cards, as we have done for the last couple of years and which left me feeling very unsatisfied, this year I'm knitting gifts for the family. So the rush is on to decide on patterns and yarn and get them knitted in time. Having emergency oral surgery which took most of my extra cash was an extra impetus. I resolved years ago not to go into debt giving gifts during the holidays, so I usually have cash stashed to buy gift cards, but the surgery, even after insurance, took most of that. So now I have a really good excuse to go back to knitting gifts, whee!

Both of my nieces are going to get fingerless mitts, the oldest one is getting Porphyria, a free pattern on Ravelry, and the youngest one is getting the mitts from Twilight's 'New Moon' movie, as she's in high school and her sister is in college. I'm taking the precaution of using washable yarn, as the oldest one, being a fashionista, is apt to just throw them in the washing machine. I am using some custom dyed yarn for Porphyria, dyed by my friend Stephania who owns Three Fates Knitting. My sister will get the other pair of Porphyria, as I knit her a set of mitts last Christmas in a different pattern.

For my SIL, I'll pick a lace pattern from a book and just knit it until I run out of the two skeins of yarn I bought several months ago. I talked with my brother about it on Thanksgiving and he thinks she'll use the scarf. I hope, anyway.

My Mom, being in an assisted living center, will get a jigsaw puzzle of no more than 500 pieces for her gift. We've found that as her Alzheimer's gets worse, her ability to handle large puzzles has diminished. So no more 1,000 piece puzzles for her, we don't want to spend hours trying to sort pieces from multiple puzzles out after she mixes them up trying to finish a puzzle. The staff wash her clothes for her and she still has knitted items I've made for her in years past, so the puzzles work fine at this time in her life.

For my DH, I've found a pattern for Thumb & Finger Mitts aka Nfld Gunner Mitts, which are mittens with a separate forefinger. The pattern calls for homespun yarn in dark and light colors and I just happen to have some of his handspun yarns left from his Norway cardigan and my White Corrie Aran vest that I can use for them. The pattern has stripes on the wrists, and fingers, with a diamond in square pattern for the back of the hand. The pattern calls for size 8 needles but based on my experience with these yarns I'll probably use size 5 needles and might run them through the washer one time before I gift them to do a little bit of felting to make them warmer.

Needless to say, my Allover cardigan is on hold until I get the gifts knit up and the next colors ordered for it. I am making progress on my Dream Coat, as I'm working on it at knitting get togethers so I don't have to focus so much on charts while I chat. Wednesday nights the place we go is not lit really well, so not having to try to see a chart makes for more enjoyable knitting. Yesterday we went to our usual place for Saturday afternoons but they closed early at 3 pm, just two hours after we arrived. We moved to a nearby Shari's, as Stephania had just arrived and we had committed to helping her sew together blocks for an Afghan for Afghans that she has been working on for two years. I spoke with the staff at Shari's and they would love to have us invade them on Saturday afternoons, as that is a slow time for them usually and they would love to have the business. So we're going to discuss moving our get togethers to a more hospitable locale. Last weekend the owner at the coffee shop complained about us moving tables together so we could sit together, after she had told us two months ago she had no problem with us doing that. So we're not feeling really welcome there anymore and have been discussing moving. Yesterday was a serendipitous happening for several reasons - we were 'encouraged' to find a different location to continue our get together when the first location closed early, we decided to (mostly) move to another location to sew the blocks together, and we found a very welcoming location with the room and the staff and the lighting and the food service to accommodate us.

Work is getting more hectic, since they haven't replaced any of the 15 people who retired at the end of October, long lines are to be expected at Post Offices for the holiday shipping season. I want to encourage folks to contact their senator and ask for more employees to be hired to work the windowlines. Headquarters waited so long to cut employee numbers that a recovery has started and now we don't have the staff to handle the increased business - how dumb is that?!?!? So please write, call, email or stop in at your senator's office and encourage them to put pressure on the PMG to hire more craft workers. We don't need more Executive Vice Presidents, we need more troops in the trenches to get the real work of moving the mail done. Okay, rant mode off now.

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, no matter which holiday you may celebrate - Christmas, Hannukah, Eid, Winter Solstice.

Happy knitting!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday thoughts

Morning, folks, I'm going to talk about something that some folks find hard to deal with - a hostile work environment. As some of you know, I work for the USPS as a windowline clerk and usually I love my job. But in the last couple of years things have been changing to the point that I realized last week my office has become a hostile work environment.

I'll give you a little history so you have an idea of what's going on. Two years ago July I came down with pneumonia on a Wednesday afternoon at about 3 pm. I know the time because all of a sudden I had to go to the bathroom a lot and since I was excreting liquid, I stepped up my intake as best I could. But then I started chilling and suspected the air conditioning at the office I had been loaned to for the week was on too high. I fill in at other offices in town when the Consolidation clerk is off sick or on vacation. I checked the air conditioning and it was still set at the right point and no one else was too cold. We were really busy so I put it out of my mind and kept working. But by Friday I was wearing my uniform knit top, my uniform long sleeve sweater, and a Norwegian sweater I had knit for myself and I was still freezing. I was so sick I didn't realize this was abnormal but I spent a good part of the day sitting at the desk in a fog. The other clerks also didn't realize just how sick I was and only called me to the line to relieve them for breaks. Saturday night I finally took my temperature and it was 103.6 - very high and potentially dangerous. I called the advice nurse and she told me to get to the hospital as fast as I could and not to drive. If there was no one at home to drive me I should call an ambulance. DH didn't think I was all that sick but I threatened to call 911 and he relented and drove me. When we got there and I told the triage nurse my history of the last couple of days, she marked me stat and the run was on. I had blood drawn, urine collected, x-rays taken, and an IV line put in. Shortly the ER doc came in and told me I had a serious case of pneumonia and she was keeping me in the ER to rehydrate me (despite my trying to push fluids I hadn't been able to drink enough to stay hydrated), pump two antibiotics in, give me Tylenol to break the fever, and monitor me. She was really concerned that I might have a stroke or seizure due to the high fever and wanted to get it down as fast as possible. About nine hours later, my fever was coming down, my fluid level was almost at normal, and I was actually piddling again. I was so sick I hadn't realized my output had drastically slowed down. I went home after about ten hours in the ER, only because I assured the ER doc my DH could care for me. Since he had gone home to sleep during the night and hadn't stayed with me, she was concerned whether he would actually care for me, but I know my DH's history with his previous wife's medical issues which led to her dying at home so I understood. We stopped on the way home to get my five prescriptions filled and to pick up some fruit, as the thought of regular food just didn't appeal to me right then. I took my meds, ate an orange, and slept for most of the day. When I woke up, I called my boss about 6 pm to give her a courtesy call that I would not be in to work the whole week, the ER doc having ordered me off work for at least 5 days, longer if the fever came back or I had other problems. I'm only required to notify work at least an hour before my start time for an absence, but since I was going to be out for the whole week I tried to give my boss more time so she could arrange coverage for the whole week.

I've given all this detail so you have a good picture for what I'm going to tell you next. Keep in mind that the doc almost admitted me because I was so sick, she wrote me five prescriptions for two antibiotics, two cough meds, and pain pills for the coughing that usually accompanies pneumonia. The diagnosis was pneumonia of the lower right lung and I had a copy of the x-ray that showed it, along with a doctor's note ordering me off work. I called Connie Sunday night at 6 pm so she could start thinking about coverage. Monday morning I'm lying on the couch, dozing after taking my meds and forcing some fruit down along with some water and my phone rings. You guessed it - my boss was calling wanting me to come in to work on Wednesday!!!!! I thought at first I was hallucinating and that my fever had spiked. But I had checked my temp a half hour earlier and written it down on my note pad, along with the time and what meds I had taken (having a grandmother, great aunt, and first MIL registered nurses of the old school I was trained to take notes when I or a family member is sick). I told her no, the doc had ordered me off work for at least 5 days, longer if the fever spiked or if I got sicker and had to be admitted to the hospital (which at that point I was kind of thinking might not have been a bad idea so I could tell her I was in the hospital). She asked again if I could come into work that week and I told her no. Now let me explain something about our personnel rules and the union contract. If we have called in sick following procedure and have documentation when it is required for an absence longer than three days, which I had and had done, our supervisors are forbidden to call us at home unless there is an emergency. Trying to badger me into coming back to work early was totally illegal and I should have filed a grievance and an unfair labor practice charge against her right then. But I was so sick I hung up and went back to sleep. I didn't take any action on her behavior and now it has come back to haunt me.

This past week another clerk called in sick for Monday and Tuesday. When she came back on Thursday, Wednesday being a holiday, Connie told her she needed medical documentation. NOT! After some discussion back and forth, Connie called our union president on Thursday and told him she was doing an investigative interview with my co-worker on Monday. As of the time we left work on Friday, she had not notified my co-worker of this either in person, by phone, or by email. So she has no official notification of the interview and we're not sure whether telling the union president constitutes proper notification or not. This is not the first time she has done this to one of my co-workers but the union president, who retired two years ago and will step down when his term is over in January, has decided that this will be the last time. He is going to instruct her on the contract, the Employer/Labor Relations Manual, the Personnel Handbook and is going to put her on official notice that if she does this again, it will automatically go to Step Three grievance procedure due to her past history of violating the rules and procedures. Our Postmaster has been missing in action for a couple of months now and no one knows what he's been doing. The Manager of Post Office Operations in Portland, our District headquarters, has been overseeing our offices with an iron thumb, demanding inhuman numbers and results.

Last week my co-worker and I talked about the history of our supervisor and her behavior in the local offices (she supervises five offices in town). It has finally come to the point that her behavior has risen to the level of creating a hostile work environment and we are going to take some action to try to relieve some of the stress we are under before someone has a heart attack from it. A year ago we had mandatory training for retail clerks at the beginning of the fiscal year and she actually spoke up in class, in front of the Postmaster, clerks and supervisors from other towns and said she does not help out in the lobby when we have a long line, she will not help us deal with customers who are causing problems, and her focus is doing her work in her office. A clerk from another town came up to me afterwards and asked if she had heard correctly, that Connie won't help us deal with troublesome customers, won't help when the line gets out the door, and isn't available to help with problems. I told her that, yes, she had heard correctly but we were a little surprised that Connie would admit that in front of the trainer and other clerks.

Now for some recent information about my reaction to all of this. Two weeks ago we had a mystery shop, or what they now call a Retail Customer Experience and we had a very bad score. Twenty five points were lost because the wait in line time was almost seventeen minutes. The shopper wrote that the clerks did not seem to be working with a sense of urgency! Understandable since the line had been out the door all day long and one's sense of urgency tends to get worn away under those conditions. We just keep our heads down, go through the detailed script management has given us with a bunch of questions we are required to go through with each customer, whether they are a regular whose needs we know and can handle quickly or not. Even with four out of five stations staffed, it still takes at least three to four minutes to go through the script with each customer and ask all the idiot questions. So if there are fourteen people in line ahead of the mystery shopper, you can see how long the wait will be, even if all five stations were staffed. I got a copy of the report this last Tuesday before I left work and worried about Connie's reaction all Wednesday, because she had threatened us that the next time we had a bad score on a mystery shop, the 'guilty' clerk would be accompanying her to Portland to talk with the MPOO about it. Thursday morning before I came to work it got so bad I had a panic attack at home, something I've never had to deal with before, and it was scary!

My co-worker and I talked about our feelings after Connie confronted her and told the union president about the investigative interview and discovered that we are both feeling that our office is now a hostile work place environment. We are both afraid to come to work, not because we fear our customers or co-workers, but because we fear our boss and her behavior. Our Postmaster, who is her immediate supervisor, is unavailable to us except by email, and since he hasn't been in the office, we don't know who is actually reading his emails. If he has delegated his authority to someone else in town, they have access to his emails for work and he may never know what is going on until something serious happens. I could try calling his Blackberry to speak with him personally, but I have decided that we need to go through official channels so there is a record of all of this.

Another illustration of my supervisor's management style - I sold my last money order a week ago Friday morning and told the acting supervisor at that point. Our office processes passport applications and most folks buy a money order to pay the Passport Processing Office at the State Department. So we sell a lot of money orders. I told the acting supervisor again on Monday, and on Tuesday. The acting supervisor does not have access to my regular supervisor's accountable paper items including money orders. Wednesday, while off work, I decided that if Connie didn't get me any money orders by close of business on Thursday, I was going to send my Postmaster an email and let him know what was going on. Fortunately, she issued me money orders part way through the morning. But keep in mind that the RCE requires me to offer money orders to my customers to get points - if I don't have them in my drawer, what good does it to do to offer them, and then have to send the customer to another clerk to buy one? They will just walk out.

Anyway, as I wrote above, I have realized that my office now qualifies as a hostile work environment and need to take steps to correct that, while at the same time protecting my health and my career. I have twenty three years in so far and need to work another ten years to reach retirement age. My supervisor has decided she is going to retire in 2011, wanting to pay off a car she had to buy after a drunk driver totaled hers out a few months ago. I can understand her reasoning and agree that paying off a large purchase while still working makes good sense. But taking her frustrations and bad attitude out on her employees is totally not acceptable and needs to be stopped immediately.

I'm posting this so folks have a glimpse inside the USPS and see some of what we have to deal with on a daily basis. We may get paid a good wage with good benefits, but we also have to put up with a lot more hassle and regulation than most other folks do. The good health insurance helps to pay for the damage to our health that the physical and mental environment causes. I don't know how many of you have worked on a machine at a job, but they are hot, dirty, noisy, with lots of repetitive stress injuries that management refuses to acknowledge without a long hard battle. I'm dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome, capsulitis in both shoulders, loss of cartilage on the inside of my knee caps, breathing issues, and other problems because of spending sixteen years on the machines sorting letters at high speed. It doesn't bode well for a long healthy retirement, I can tell you. And now having to add a hostile work environment to the mix puts it over the top.

Thank God I have my knitting and my knitting friends to rely on and to give me something pleasant to think about at work and to look forward to when I get off work. Last weekend I decided to start the Dream Coat from 'Dazzling Knits' using my handspun yarns so I wouldn't have to be chained to a chart while at knitting group. It's modular knitting and the beautiful hand dyed rovings I got from Dicentra are going to make a stunning coat. I've got the first row of diamonds at the bottom done and have started the second row now. It's addicting and fun and I look forward to knitting group so I can get it out and add to the coat. Yesterday in just a couple of hours I got five diamonds knit and so last night I started the second row because I just couldn't put it down! It's looking great and I know I'm going to enjoy wearing it. I will be modifying it a bit because I don't like sewing seams and look for ways to avoid that while still having a well secured garment. The fun part at the end will be finding three stunning buttons to put on the front of the coat.

I also got my Fulmar cardigan out and worked on it Friday night and yesterday at home. I decided it was time to move the sleeve stitches from the circular needle to dpns and started looking for a set in the same size as the circular, thinking that the old steel needles would be the right size. But they were all too small and I kept looking. Fortunately, at the end of my search I found a set of Inox lace needles in the 2.5 mm size I need and I moved the stitches over. Now the sleeve is more comfortable to work on and I'm making progress I can see. Maybe tomorrow I'll get back to Erin, but today I'm going to put some time in on Fulmar to move her along. We're going to Portland to visit my Mom so I'll take the Dream Coat along with me to work on while we chat over pie and coffee.

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Disappointment, fall knitting plans

Well, it's finally happened. I bought a yarn I loved in the skein, but when I started knitting with it I've realized I just don't like how it's knitting up. At SS09 I bought a skein of a color called Saggittarius from Knit Witch Yarns Celestial Cloud Hand Dyed Sock Yarn, loving the bright blue, the pink, the green colors in the skein. The Northwest Regional Spinners Association bought a copy of Cat Bordhi's new book 'Personal Footprints' and I decided to test knit a pair of socks from it for my book review for our newsletter, Loose Threads. I picked the Manley Stanley pattern and started knitting away. Now, please keep in mind that I did not knit a Discovery Sock to get a personal footprint to keep, as I much prefer to knit my socks from the top down. But I did follow the directions very carefully and the sock was turning out just fine, right size and shape.

But Monday night I was sitting on the couch with the sock in my hands, knitting on the leg, and realized I just don't like how the colors are working up and I wouldn't want to wear the socks. DH said I could make him a pair of socks from the yarn. I asked him if he liked the colorway and he said no, he just didn't want the yarn to go to waste. That's sweet of him but I've decided I'd rather sell the yarn to someone else who loves it and get something that I'll not only enjoy wearing but enjoy watching the colors in it while I knit with it. So today I'm pulling the needles out of the sock, removing my markers, and putting the partially knit sock, along with the ball of yarn, in a zip lock bag while I look for a new owner for the yarn. Life's too short to knit with yarn I don't love.

This coming Sunday the new KAL for the Mara_class group on yahoo will start and I don't have all my yarns in hand yet. Last weekend I went through all my FI yarns and discovered I only have a few colors I need for my Allover cardigan. Since we're having a party this Saturday starting about noon and I need to have bread in the oven for our guests, I'm not sure if I'll have time to run over to Woodland Woolworks to pick up some of the yarns. I'm debating whether I can get up early enough to start the bread, put it in the oven to rise while I'm gone and DH is home, then get back before our guests start arriving. I need to do some more pondering on this today.

On the other hand, I'm knitting the Brigit pattern using my very favorite yarn from SS09 - A River Runs Through It - and I love it so much I'm even carrying the socks to work to knit on during my breaks! The stitch pattern is showing up very nicely in the hand dyed yarn and the hand is very smooth and soft. I'm seriously considering ordering more yarn from this Indie dyer after I get a few more pairs of socks done to work my stash down some more.

Tomorrow is the last day for about 15 of my co-workers, who are taking early retirement from the USPS. I have worked with these folks for my entire 23 years (so far!) career and it will be so sad to see them go like this, in one fell swoop. Not to mention all the knowledge and experience they are taking with them. But that is a large part of the reason the USPS is doing this - so they don't have to fight the employees who know how the job should be done and just do it any old way, whether it's beneficial for the American public or not (and more often not). USPS top management is catering to large businesses now, instead of the American public like you and me, and it is stomach turning to see just how far they are willing to pander the get their approval.

Okay, enough negativity for now. It's raining and blowing outside, so the nesting day I've planned for Saturday sounds so good - hot homemade soup on the stove, home made bread in the oven, a fire in the fireplace, a quilt on the wood floor in the living room so folks can sit and knit in front of the fireplace, and good friends coming over. Hot tea or coffee or hot chocolate to drink makes a complete picture and I might even get some organic apple cider to mull. I love a day like that!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday writing

Morning, everyone!

I have two FOs to show off here. First, is my Bayerische socks. Although there is only one shown in the photo, I actually have the second one finished and wore them Sunday at the Spin In we had at our home, with lots of compliments received. It's so nice to have them done finally, I had blocked myself mentally a year ago by deciding to enter them in the Oregon State Fair. My subconscious knew that the color changes were much too busy to allow the detailed Bavarian twisted stitch patterns to show up, so I just couldn't get the second sock started. This summer I gave myself permission to not enter them in the Fair, and I just whizzed right through the second sock (sort of, since I was also working on the Dragon Breath socks and the white Corrie Aran vest).

The second FO is my Dragon Breath socks, using Three Fates Knitting yarn in Lexington Green. Although the name of the pattern would make one think of bright reds, oranges, and yellows, the delicate flame chevron pattern actually looks beautiful in the bright spring variegated green colors. I was finishing the second sock last week while we were visiting DH's folks. His Mom absolutely loves the color so I've contacted Stephania to see if I can get another skein of that color but she's going to have to dye something for me, as she doesn't have more in stock. His Mom crochets prayer shawls for her church so I'm going to make her a shawlette she can wear in her recliner while she works on the shawls. I noticed she was wearing some of the socks I had knit her as slippers around the house and hand dyed yarns need to be hand washed. So I decided a shawlette with hand dyed yarn would be much easier to handle for her, as it would need to be washed only once a year or so, unless something spilled on it. I'm just hoping I can get it done in time to be shipped to her to open on Christmas.

This morning I'm going to plan the front neck shaping for my white Corrie Aran vest, which I'm making out of the left over yarns from DH's Norway cardigan using his handspun yarns. He has asked for a pair of white socks if there is enough yarn leftover after I finish my vest, but I'm not sure how much will be left. I told him over breakfast yesterday that the socks might have to be made using the black yarn, as I'm sure I'll have enough of that left for socks. Or, DH might get two pairs of socks in the end!

I'm also working on the first Shur'tugal sock, almost done with the heel gusset decreases. I wasn't sure how the pattern would work with the very bright Wildfoote Rock'n'Roll yarn that I received in a yarn swap a year or so ago. But the pattern is showing up quite well, giving a smocked look to the fabric at this point when the socks are laying flat. I might end up going back to work after vacation with three pairs of new socks to wear!

On Wednesday of last week DH took me on a wonderful field trip to Union Creek and the Rogue River Gorge. We took loads of pictures and I'm sharing one here, which I took at the Avenue of the Boulders. The river is very cold and very fast - at the Underground Bridge it flows at 400,000 feet per second going in and 335,000 feet per second coming out. Simply amazing how Nature works in creating beauty in our world!

At the Fall Board meeting for the Northwest Regional Spinners Association (NwRSA) we bought a pre-sale copy of Cat Bordhi's new book, 'Personal Footprints, for insouciant sock knitters.' I'm reading the book and knitting a pair of socks from it to write a review for our monthly newsletter, Loose Threads. I'm not a fan of knitting socks from the toe up, although I've done it, but Cat is such a cool person (I met her at Conference this year) and her books and classes so popular, that I'm biting the bullet and working my way through the process. There is one pattern that called to me yesterday when I was at a friend's house and paging through the patterns. My friend took her sock class earlier this summer, before Conference, and raved about it. I'm not one to do a lot of swatching, since I've been knitting for so long with basically the same type of yarns, so I'm going to take the plunge and not knit the fitting sock, just jump in and start the pattern. The other reason for not knitting the sample is that I'm using one of my precious skeins of yarn I bought at Sock Summit 09 - Knit Witch Yarn's Sagittarius colorway - and I don't want to 'waste' any of it or risk ruining it by knitting a whole sock and then ripping it out, especially since Cat has you cut your yarn during the knitting of the sock. I'm thinking about how to knit the sock without cutting the yarn and breaking the color repeat pattern. She does have one pattern that uses a similar yarn and she worked the sock differently to avoid breaking the color pattern. I don't think this is violating the spirit of the book, since Cat wants knitters to think about their knitting and achieve the item they want, using the yarns they choose, and not just slavishly follow her patterns. So I'll do the sock her way, just not cutting the yarn after the foot is done to keep the colorway going my way. And if I run into her at another event, I'll try to wear my socks to show her how I thought about my yarn and how I wanted the socks to look, being a thinking knitter.

A while back I was looking at the numerals for next year and it dawned on me that they look a lot like lace. I posted a thread on the Starmore Junkies group on about doing lace projects by the Starmores next year and there was a lot of interest. Alice hasn't published many lace patterns herself, the ones I know about being the Maidenhair cardigan/stole, a short sleeve top in a Threads magazine pattern flyer, and a pattern on her VY site. But she did write an article for Threads magazine discussing Shetland lace, giving several lace patterns, and encouraging knitters to create their own lace shawl. So for next year I'm planning to knit the Maidenhair cardigan (yarn yet to be decided on) and a Shetland shawl (yarn to be spun from a Moorit Shetland hogget fleece I'll be picking up on Friday). I'm being conservative in my planning, because I still have lots of WIPs to finish up at the same time.

And then there are two KALs that I am participating in - the Henry VIII one in which I am going to knit the VY kit but change it to a cardigan so I can get more use out of it, and the Mara_class one on yahoo which is knitter's choice of a pattern from the reprint of 'Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting.' For the second one I've picked the Allover pattern, again to be converted to a cardigan so I can wear it more often. I tend to go inside and outside a lot, so need to be able to add and remove layers as needed. For the Allover I'm going to see how many colors I have in my stash before I order the rest of the yarns. I stashed up two years ago when J & S was reducing their color range after Curtis Wool Direct bought them. I helped spearhead a successful drive to encourage the American distributor to special order the discontinued colors so American knitters would still have access to them so I can order any I need for the sweater.

So that's what's going on this week. I had hoped to go camping this week, after spending last week in southern Oregon, but the weather decided to turn to rain (it poured at 6 am today!) so we're staying home and puttering around the house. And spending time with friends, tonight is knitting with the Salem Area Ravelers.

Have a good day!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Morning Musings

I'm watching the news on TV while puttering around on the computer and doing those small tasks we all seem to put off until the weekend. Things like syncing and backing up my iPhone, cleaning all the old top out of my spinning basket and off my spindles so I can give it away at knitting this Wednesday night to clear the way to start the half pound of turquoise top I bought at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival yesterday, putting away the goodies I got yesterday along with the top like the Orion sock pattern and a skein of Socks That Rock in the ST-1 colorway (made famous by SS09) and the teas I got from Tea Time Garden - Chocolate Raspberry, Black tea Orange Spice and Chai, dry the clothes I left in the washer last night, and wash the handwash socks on gentle cycle to get them off my bedroom desk. I'm sure there are some more tasks I'll find to do today.

I'm trying to encourage DH to go fishing today, as the forecast is for a high of 83 degrees so it would be a great day to be out in the woods drowning worms in the river. That way I would have the house to myself and the dogs and I could put some music on and dance with wild abandon, lol. And have quiet to do some writing on things that have been put off for way too long.

Anyway, I need to take a short break and turn the kettle on for another cup of tea - be right back!

Ah, now I have a few minutes to write while the kettle heats. I've had two cups of the new Chocolate Raspberry tea and, yumm!, that is so good! Diane did a great job blending her formula for it and I'll definitely be buying more of it in the future. Hmm, what flavor tea to have next, hmm?

I also put the wet clothes in the dryer, hung up the socks on the rack to dry, and put a load of handwash socks in the washing machine with some shampoo, and put water on to boil for breakfast oatmeal. I still don't know if DH is going fishing or not.

One thing I want to get done before noon is to pick up the stitches for the first sleeve on Erin. I've put this off for quite a while and had hoped to have her done to wear on vacation next week when we head south to visit DH's family, but it's not going to happen. I tend to procrastinate when I put deadlines like that on myself and Erin is no exception. My little Oscar dog just came over for some sugar and reminded me that I also would like to give his papa, Duke, a bath today. I think I'm going to have to take him outside and brush him well first, to get some of the VM out of his fur before I get it wet in the tub. His fur is too long now for me to take him in the shower and get him really clean, so it's the tub for him today. Another thing that got put off was giving him a bath and haircut while the weather was hot in August.

I've started the second Bayerische sock and am knitting a few rounds on it each morning and evening. I had blocked myself last summer by thinking that I could enter it in the Oregon State Fair and ignoring the fact that I had picked a very bright colorway with short repeats on a Bavarian twisted stitch sock - not a recipe for success at the the Fair. So I just knit the first sock and put the yarn aside. Now I've given myself permission to not enter the socks in the Fair because of the colorway and stitch issue so I can knit the second sock and just enjoy wearing them as they are. At this point I'm on the third time through the sixteen round charts and need to do four repeats before I start the heel flap, so I'm doing well.

I'm also knitting a pair of Dragon Breath socks, using Three Fates Knitting sock yarn in Lexington Green, a light springy variegated colorway. While the name of the pattern may make one think of reds, oranges, and yellows, the actual knitted first sock looks really good in the light greens as it's the Flame Chevron lace pattern.

So that's what's on the needles and being actively worked on at the moment. This coming weekend is the Fall Board Meeting for the Northwest Regional Spinners Association in Hood River and my alternate Director Betsy and I are going. We will be spending Friday and Saturday nights at another Area Director's house so we don't have to get up obscenely early on Saturday to drive all the way in one day, then come back late Saturday night. Pat has a beautiful house right on the gorge and I am looking forward to getting some pretty pictures, maybe even a nice sunset Saturday night. I still need to write up and email my Area report, as well as my report as 2011 Conference Chair.

Oh, and a report on moving the Association from relying on MS Office to using Open Office, an open source software program that works with MS Office files with no problem. This past summer at Conference we discovered that folks are having a lot of trouble reading each other's files because folks have different versions of Office and the folks are not comfortable enough with the software to save their files in easily transportable formats. Upgrading to the current version of MS Office would cost a couple hundred dollars per person, not something that most of us can afford these days. Open Office is free software, robust and easy to use, with free updates to all. I've got a white paper on migrating from MS Office to Open Office that I will distribute, along with some other documentation from Sun Microsystems that they sent me. And I have some documentation on cloud computing that I will make available for those who are interested. It's current technology and I know some of the older members are not comfortable with lots of change at one time, so I'm not going to emphasize it, but cloud computing is a great thing to learn about and possibly use. I have a subscription to MobileMe, with Apple, so I can send photos and files from my iPhone to the Cloud, so if my iPhone crashes, gets lost, or is stolen, the data is saved. Other types of phones with web access can also make use of the technology, so I want to share the information I have been given on it. When I get home and turn my computer on, the MobileMe software downloads the files I have sent to my notebook computer automatically.

Now it's time to eat breakfast and get some more tasks done, especially writing my reports. Hope everyone has a great Sunday!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another pair of socks done!

Good morning, everyone! It's Sunday morning and DH has just left to go fishing for a few hours, so I have the house and the dogs to myself (insert evil laugh here as I can have all the dogs on the couch with me and DH won't know, hehehe). Well, unless someone tells him I've indulged in the guilty pleasure, that is.

Anyway, I finished my Vermont in June socks yesterday at knitting and will post a pic here. I'm calling them after the color name of the yarn I used, which is Stephania's Three Fates Yarns Vermont in June, variegated greens with very small dots of blue and yellow. I had planned to use the Pine Tree socks pattern but after modifying the pattern to use fingering weight yarn instead of the sport weight yarn by adding stitches in the ribbing, I decided I didn't like the way the knit/purl pattern wasn't showing up in the yarn. So I ripped back to the ribbing and just used the ribbing pattern I had created for the entire leg and top of the foot. I really like how they turned out - the color changes and the stitch pattern work very well together, neither trying to overrule the other. I'm planning to wear them today when I meet a friend for knitting in the afternoon so I can show them off to an appreciative audience.

Next weekend on Saturday and Sunday DH and I will be demoing at the Oregon State Fair in the Artisan Village with spinning wheels and I'll bring some drop spindles so we can walk around and I can spin. We do this every year to promote spinning, to show folks that spinning is still done by hand with wonderful results (DH got a blue ribbon last year on his skein after only spinning for about 8 months!), and that handspun yarn is wonderful for a wide range of uses. You can spin exactly the yarn you want for a specific project, whether it is knitting, crocheting, weaving, embroidery, needlepoint, bobbin lace, tatting, etc. We entered five items in the Fair - DH's Norway cardigan, my Rosemarkie vest, my Dream Twisters socks, the Shetland shawl he spun and wove for me last Christmas, and a skein of his handspun yarn. We're hoping for at least one blue ribbon on something, more would be fantastic.

Since I finished my Vermont in June socks yesterday, I'm back to working on the second Ruggles' Candy Cane sock and hope to have it done this coming week. My sock drawer still looks so low, since I gave away all those socks this spring, but it's so much fun to knit new patterns to fill it up again. I matched the Lexington Green Three Fates yarn I bought at Sock Summit 09 to the Dragon Breath pattern (loved the pair that Karen made using Three Fates yarn!) and will start those later. After I finish the Candy Cane socks, I will go back and knit the second Bayerische sock. I did the first one last summer and then got hung up when I thought about entering them in the State Fair. The yarn is just too busy with the Bavarian twisted stitch pattern to make a successful entry in the Fair and I've acknowledged that to myself, so now I have freed myself from the inertia to knit the second sock and enjoy wearing them.

Last weekend I started a vest to use up the leftover handspun Corriedale yarns from DH's Norway cardigan. I don't like having un-purposed yarns lying around the house tempting moths and gathering dust, so I've been pondering what to use the yarns for. I started to use the Aran Vest pattern in 'Folk Vests' but didn't like the XO cable pattern for a vest for me. So I ripped it out and started over, using the natural black for the bottom ribbing and the white for the body of the vest. I'm using matching rope cables with sand stitch for the filler panels between the cables and I really like how it's turning out. I'm making buttonholes about every 20 rows for small buttons, as I generally don't button my vests when I wear them. While I like the folded over front neck in the original pattern, it won't work in the cables so I'll do a round neckline when I get up there. At this point I'm knitting the whole body and will divide for the armholes when I get there. Once again I'm going to end up with my own pattern for the vest, since I just didn't like how the stitch pattern looked knit up in the handspun yarn for my body shape. For someone who is slender, the round XO pattern and seed stitch filler panels would look fine. I've finally gotten to the point in my knitting career where if I start a pattern and don't like how it's turning out, I feel free to change it to something I like and know I will wear. I'm tired of making things and forcing myself to finish them, only to end up giving them away because I don't like them. And I've been trying to pass this wisdom on to other knitters, so they might be able to avoid the pains I've suffered too many times from forcing myself to finish something, then not like it and give it away. Knitting time is way too precious these days to waste it on something that I end up not liking, forcing myself to finish, and then giving it away because I can't stand to wear it. I think I'm going to call the vest Handspun Corrie Cables vest - catchy, eh?

I asked folks yesterday at knitting how they would like a potluck at my place on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend in two weeks and there was good interest. I suggested a craft supplies swap and a Mexican food bar, as I'm really tired of barbecuing at this point and want a change. That way, folks who are vegetarian or vegan will have choices to eat with everyone else and not be uncomfortable. I'm going to cook the beans from scratch, as I love home cooked black beans and they do great in the crock pot all day. What would be really cool would be to make corn tortillas from scratch, so the folks with wheat issues would have a bread they could eat. I've done it before and I have a stone mill, just need to talk myself into getting busy earlier in the day. I can grind the corn earlier in the week and keep it in the refrigerator so the corn oil doesn't go rancid. Then just fry them (without oil!) on a hot grill that day. Hmm, intriguing thoughts to follow here.

I was talking with Katie yesterday at knitting and she told me about a great dinner idea using zuchini and tomatoes. You slice the tomatoes in half across the equator, cut the zuchini in half at the waist, then in quarters lengthwise. I put them on a baking sheet I had put olive oil on, then topped them with shredded cheese, Italian herbs, garlic powder, and freshly ground black pepper. I put them under the broiler until the cheese started to brown and then served them hot. We had two kinds of Greek olives, DH had pita bread with salsa made in Eugene, I had hummus with my pita bread, black grapes, and DH had summer cole slaw. I kind of overspent as I shopped at Roths and bought organic locally grown produce, but the taste was worth it - yumm! DH even admitted he liked it, although he was looking for the meat course, lol. I told him it was a light summer supper using fresh produce in season. We'll have our own squash and tomatoes in another two weeks or so and I plan to fix it again then. The best part about this meal is that it's quick, easy, and minimal cleanup afterward. And, of course, very healthy.

Last weekend I started changing to a Mediterranean style of eating and bought some nuts to snack on - walnuts, almonds, filberts, and Brazil nuts. I put them in a plastic container on the dining table and filled a small cup to keep on the coffee table. At first DH wasn't enthused about snacking on nuts instead of toast with peanut butter and jelly, but the cup is now emptying about every other day so he is eating the healthier snack now. Now if he will just eat the nuts and leave the toast alone, lol!

By the way, I got a note from the Sock Summit committee that they will be selling the t-shirts and other items in about two weeks. I'm thrilled because I really want to get a shirt and a bag to use. I have enough bags for my projects, since I mostly use baskets for my knitting projects, but I really want the bag for a souvenir of such a great historic event. So watch the Sock Summit website for more info!

Happy weekend!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday night musings

It's finally Friday night and I'm taking some time to update my blog here and post some pics of recent events. As a lot of you know, last weekend was the indescribable Sock Summit 09, four days of absolutely wonderful insanity, fellowship, sock knitting, spinning, chatting, meeting online friends in real life, fondling gorgeous hand dyed yarns, checking out new patterns and techniques, taking amazing classes from fabulous knitters, and just generally having a great time. I was able to go on Saturday and got to the Ravelry Meetup that night at the World Forestry Center. Jess and Casey are the most generous and friendly people you could meet and I was privileged to meet both of them.

So, here are some pics from the Sock Summit and the Ravelry Meetup.
Jess and the newest member of the Ravelry team - Sarah!

Janita enjoying meeting a new friend.

Eloise and her sister checking out pictures already taken.

Eloise taking pictures.

Jess snuck up on SnarfyWarning to wish her a Happy Birthday!

There are rumors going around that there might be another Sock Summit in two years in Toronto, Canada, on Stephanie's home turf. So start saving m
oney and vacation time and make sure your passport is current!

My Mom had surgery on Monday and we got the pathology report on Wednesday that the tumor the surgeon found was benign, a great relief to my brother and sister and I. Now just to get Mom healed properly at her assisted living center. My sister is carrying the brunt of the daily checking in with the care center and Mom, to make sure they follow doctor's orders and that she is healing properly. I spent Monday and Tuesday with Mom in the hospital as her memory has gotten so bad she couldn't remember what she was there for. The nurses had to look to me for answers to their questions. I also played practical nurse for Mom, helping with dressing changes, bathroom trips, and such.

While at SS09 and with Mom at the hospital I worked on a pair of socks using my friend Stephania's Three Fates Yarn in a variegated grass green. I was going to use a pattern called Pine Tree, but the yarn is Blue Faced Leicester and too soft to show the knit/purl stitch pattern well. So I ripped back to the modified ribbing (I had added stitches to make 72, instead of the 56 the pattern called for using sport weight yarn) and finished the first sock with just the ribbing pattern with the cable in it. I really like how the sock turned out and I am about 4 inches into the second sock already. The pattern is quick and easy to knit, but very impressive looking to non-knitters and new sock knitters.

I splurged on three skeins of yarn at SS09, not being able to get a skein I really wanted because the dyer only sent two skeins to SS09. I had emailed with her before the event letting her know I could only come on Saturday and I really wanted a skein of her yarn. She told me to email the vendor selling her yarns to hold a skein for me, which I did, but when I got there the vendor told me only two skeins had been sent. The dyer did tell me in her email that I could buy the yarn in her etsy store but I feel like I've been misled. Why couldn't the dyer tell me she only sent two skeins to the event in the first place so I wouldn't get excited about buying a skein at the show? While she didn't actually lie to me, she did totally mislead me about the availability of her yarn at the show. One of my Salem Ravelers said she might be trying to direct traffic to her etsy store to build up sales. I can see that, but I still feel mistreated and I've let go of the desire to own a skein of that yarn now because of it. The colors looked beautiful in the Dye For Glory contest, but I don't like being treated that way and refuse to support vendors who practice less than open honesty. If she had come right out in her email and stated she only sent two skeins, I would most likely have ordered from her etsy store before leaving for SS09.

Okay, now on to the beautiful yarns I did buy! First, a skein of Stephania's Three Fates Yarn in Lexington Green, mmm, love the bright spring colors!

Next is Sagittarius, by Knit Witch Knits.

And last, but not least, a Dye For Glory winner - A River Runs Through It by Toe Jamz.

Well, I think I've rambled on long enough for tonight. It's time to settle down with a glass of iced tea, an episode of Stargate SG-1 on the computer and my green socks. Ahh, hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Getting Ready for Sock Summit 09

I'm slowly but surely getting ready for Sock Summit 09 in Portland at the Convention Center. I'll only be able to go on Saturday, but I'm really excited! So far Sunday night I finished my Dream Twisters socks and wound the Three Fates green hand dyed yarn I'm going to be knitting into socks at the Summit. Last night I finished the mini sock blocker sock and put it on the blocker, tying a loop through one of the holes so the sock doesn't get lost. This morning I designed and printed 100 business cards to hand out with my contact info. I've made and have been editing and editing a packing list of items to take with me. So far I have; my sock knitting, a drop spindle and fiber along with a second spindle to loan to a friend, a flashlight for after the Rav meetup, hand cream, Purell, napkins for my allergies (sneezes), meds, water bottle, 72 stitch markers I made last Saturday to swap, hang tags to put on the markers I receive so I will know from whom I received them, mini sock on sock blocker keychain, chatelaine with pins and my Ravelry pin so folks know who I am, camera, Ravelry t-shirt to change into before going to the party, shawl to wear after the party, Fair Isle yarns to help a friend knit a pouch for her chatelaine so she can learn to hold two colors of yarn at one time, business cards to hand out, MarketPlace tickets already printed, cash for my purchases, and change for riding on MAX. I'm taking a bag with lots of pockets so it will be easier to find things, lol.

In the meantime, I'm knitting on my Ruggles' Candy Cane second sock and will be casting on my Pine Tree socks later this week so I have them started before leaving on Saturday.

I got some serious news on Sunday when I was in Portland visiting my Mom and my sister - Mom has to have major surgery next Monday and will be in the hospital over night. I'm taking Monday and Tuesday off from work to be there and will be bringing two knitting projects to work on - Pine Tree socks and my Fulmar cardigan so I have a change. I'll also have my notebook computer with me to stay in touch, although Mom's assisted living center, where I'll be sleeping, doesn't have WiFi that I know of. But I can go to my sister's and use her Internet connection. I would appreciate prayers for a good outcome for my Mom, as she has heart issues which is why she's staying overnight so they can monitor her.

Now it's time to read my email and get ready for breakfast - have a great day everyone!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Meandering Monday

Ah, the slow easy pace of a vacation Monday when you don't have anything scheduled! While the fur kids did get me up at 6 so they could go out, I've been puttering around on my computer while watching the Today show. I took a pic of my new chatelaine and loaded it on the computer so I can post it on my Ravelry projects page.

I'm on the front bands on my Rosemarkie vest, just need to knit two more rounds and then cast off. Next up will be the armhole ribbing. I'm planning to take Rosemarkie with me to the Northwest Regional Spinners Association annual Conference on Thursday and need to wash and block it before I leave. The colors I picked for it go well with blue jeans, which is what I mostly wear on my off duty time.

My Mara_class group is waiting for the reprint of Alice Starmore's 'Book of Fair Isle Knitting' coming out by Dover on August 20th. I posted yesterday about some links for pictures of garments in the book so group members can start looking at them and decide what project they want to make for our Fall/Winter KAL. We're beginning to lose members who are getting bored waiting so I wanted to get some more interest perked up. Personally, I'm hoping we pick the Allover sweater, which I'll turn into a cardigan, because it has some lovely colors in it and it has a collar and turn back cuffs which I haven't done in FI before so I'll have the chance to learn something new.

Over the weekend I had an idea of a KAL for the Rose and Ram Yarn Studio in Independence, OR - pick a pattern from the book, buy the Jamiesons yarn (what Jan carries in her shop), book, and any needed tools, and finish the garment in time for the 2010 New Year's Day Knit In at the shop. I'm thinking of an August 15th start date, even though the book won't be released until the 20th, because lots of folks already have the book and some folks will want or need to start earlier to be able to finish with the group. I texted a woman who works at the shop and she mentioned it to Jan, the owner, who loves the idea. I would commit to being at the shop about every other Sunday to help folks who either haven't done a FI before or need help with specific sections of the garment. For folks who sign up formally for the KAL, I would give Jan a tam pattern for them to use up some of the leftover yarns when they buy their yarns from her. I'll talk with Jan in person on Wednesday when I go out to pick up my clock from the repair shop next door.

DH is planning to go fishing today so I need to close this and go eat breakfast. Hope everyone has a great day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Enjoying the sun

I'm sitting here reading emails before breakfast and enjoying the sunshine outside the front window. Nice, but I woke up with a sore throat. With all the talking I do at work, this is not a good thing. And if I need to take time off, I have to see my doctor (who has just notified us she has to go to part time because of her medical issues so I have to find a new caregiver), get a prescription and documentation. Bush rewrote the FMLA so doctors can't prescribe basic care such as bedrest, OTC meds, fluids, etc. and order time off work. Now they have to write a prescription for prescription-only drugs - not acceptable for folks like me who prefer to use a minimum of drugs and use natural care practices only. Thank you, Bush-whacker, again! Encouraging the growth of drug-resistant bugs is not my idea of good health care or government practice.

On the knitting front, I finished the knitting on the body of my Rosemarkie vest last night and have set it aside until I can get together with at least of one of my students. I want to show them how I do a three-needle bind-off for the shoulders (which aren't going to match but I'm cool with that), and then crochet the steeks before picking up the ribbings and cutting the steeks open.

While I'm waiting, I'll work on my January Aran, which should finish up fairly quickly as I'm doing it from the top down FLAK style and I'm using Aran weight yarn on size 10 needles. At this point I'm down to working on the body - both sleeves are done and tied with yarn so they don't flop around and get messy.

DH just let me know breakfast is ready so I need to get off here. I did want to let folks know that Blacksheep Bingo is open for signups for those who are going to Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR. There is a group on Ravelry or you can go to the Black Sheep Bingo website

I got off work early today to come home, drink chicken broth, take pills, and try to get ahead of whatever bug has finally bitten me. I was so happy having gotten through the winter without getting sick and yesterday afternoon my left tonsil started getting scratchy sore and this morning my throat is really raw - ah, poot!

Anyway, now I have some time while I lounge on the couch with my broth to add some pictures of what I've been doing. First up is my Nine-to-Five socks, pattern on Ravelry for free. I really love wearing these socks as they fit my feet so well and the colors go with almost every thing I wear. Definitely a great sock pattern, well written and easy to follow, and so comfortable to wear.

Next is a picture of the mini mittens I made for Christmas gifts for my family this year. The pattern is on Ravelry (actually there are several free patterns for mini mittens to choose from) and were great for using up sock yarn leftovers. I always save ten yards of sock yarn for repairs, feeling that if I need more the socks are history, and then find ways to use up any leftovers. I've made myself, my DH, and some of his family what I call oddball socks, where I knit both socks on two sets of dpns at the same time with each end of the leftover yarn. That way both socks have the same number of rounds of each yarn on them so they match. The family loved having the mittens tied on the ribbon of their packages!

This is my new Merlin Tree hitchhiker wheel I picked up from layaway at Woodland Woolworks when we got our tax refund. I also bought the travel bag that is designed for it. It is made in Vermont, with mixed hardwoods, uses an Ashford flyer and bobbins, and is single treadle direct drive. There are three black wheels you use to change the speed ratio, you can see the other two on the built in lazy kate. I got the wheel and Woodland Woolworks included a pound of white Corriedale top, a full bottle of oil, and a bottle of wood wax, along with a $20.00 Craft Cash certificate. Since my DH is now spinning with my original Louet wheel and hasn't found a wheel he would like besides my Louet, I decided it was time for me to get a second wheel so we could both spin on wheels at the shows and events we go to. While I drop spindle so had a back up, he doesn't like spindling because it's slower than wheel spinning, lol. So I picked this wheel out for me to use, with my Louet as a back up for plying large amounts. I love this wheel!

This is a pair of basic mens socks I made for DH's stepdad for his birthday in February. When I find the pic I took of his Mom's birthday socks, I'll post it but I didn't see it in a quick search. I did take a pic, just have to find it (and organize my photos into better albums instead of date uploaded).

And last but most certainly not least is DH's sweater. This is my version of AS' Norway from her 'Fishermens Sweaters' book, using DH's handspun white Corriedale worsted weight yarn and black CorriedaleXTarghee sport weight yarn. I'm sure you noticed that the weights are different. He didn't spin the two fleeces with the intention of them being knit together, so I had quite the challenge to get the tension even knitting this Fair Isle style. I started it on October 15th, 2008 for the Mara_class KAL on yahoo and finished it last week. He has washed and blocked it on the wooly board and will now sew the buttons on. He did have me swing by the fabric store in Portland when I was up there on Saturday visiting my Mom to pick up one more card of buttons, hehehe. I had suggested he buy more when we picked them out several weeks ago but he thought he had enough. So now when he decided he wanted the buttons closer together, they only had one card left. Trying to reorder buttons in the same color and style is just about impossible these days. I had talked with the button person at the shop several months ago trying to match buttons for a friend's coat, and she explained that they can never count on the colors matching, even with the same dyelot or production run, whatever they call it in button making. But as you can see the sweater fits him perfectly and he's totally happy with it.

Which is good, as my knitting for the next several months will be finishing up WIPs that have been languishing while I knit on his sweater. Let's see; Erin, Amphora, January Aran, Pacific Northwest shawl, and Rosemarkie for the class I'm teaching at a local yarn shop. Then I need to make several pairs of socks for myself. I gave away about all of the ones that had six inch legs, as I've found I prefer seven inch legs under my uniform pants. Also, the six inch ones were my oldest socks and starting to get thin in places. So I have some friends who love hand knit socks but either don't have time with small children to make them, or haven't learned to knit socks yet. I gift them the socks with the repair yarn I have saved and they are very happy campers. I get the perfect excuse to knit myself new socks so we all win!

Happy knitting!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I think I'm back?

I think it's been almost a year since I posted here. The main reason I neglected my blog is - I got really caught up in all the info and pics and new friends I found there and let this slide. I've been giving it some thought and last week I got a new comment on my last post, which nudged me into logging in here today to post an update.

At the moment I have multiple projects on the needles - Rosemarkie by AS which I'm knitting along with my students in a class I'm teaching at Rose and Ram Yarn Studio in Independence, OR, Norway also by AS which I'm knitting for the KAl on Mara_class on using yarns that my DH spun. The white is a Corriedale fleece and the black is a CorriedaleXTarghee fleece, both of which we bought at Black Sheep Gathering in June of 2007. Then there is Amphora by AS, Fulmar by AS, and Erin by AS. Oh, and a pair of Viking socks.

Last week I finished a pair of socks for my DH's stepdad's birthday using Cascade Heritage superwash sock yarn in the solid forest green color, which crocked on my hands when I knit it. I don't know if I got a bad skein or what, as I hadn't used that yarn before. I washed it in hot water with white vinegar and rinsed it multiple times until the colors stopped coming out in the water. I think the problem was just that the yarn hadn't been rinsed properly at the mill, I don't think it's a generalized problem with the yarn as I've read of other folks using the yarn and enjoying the finished socks with no mention of issues.

DH has been pushing me to get his Norway done so he can wear it while it's still cold out. At this point I have the body done, the first sleeve done, and am about halfway down the second sleeve, so I'm getting there. But the end of January I took time out to knit a pair of socks for DH's Mom, I'm knitting Rosemarkie vest along with my students and have to keep ahead of them so I can teach them, and I need to rotate projects to take care of my hands. The main issue with Norway is that DH didn't spin the yarns to be used together, so the white is close to worsted weight and the black is closer to sport weight. Fortunately, the white is the design color and the black is the background, so I'm able to make it work out well. When I get back from teaching my class this afternoon, I'll get Norway out and work on it some more.

The latest highlight in my life was the Oregon 150th birthday party at the Capitol in Salem. I arranged the USPS participation in the event after learning that Portland, the District Headquarters for Oregon and southwest Washington, was only focusing on the first day of issue January 14th and not doing anything for the actual date. So I had six weeks to plan something I had never done before, on a large scale, while still doing all my regular work with fewer clerks as a couple of positions have been reverted. The state planned for 3200 visitors that day - they got 10,000!!!

I arranged for a special pictorial cancellation, worked really hard to get permission to use green ink for it (extremely rare in the USPS!) and got it all set up in time. The event was scheduled for 11 am to 4 pm. When Debbie and I arrived at 9 to set up, there were already people lined up waiting to get the cancellation! We worked nonstop all day without any breaks and did the final cancellations at 4:40 pm. A coworker from Portland brought us hot dogs and it took us three hours to eat them. Then I went back to the office and cancelled about a hundred 50th wedding anniversary invitations and about a hundred family reunion flyers for customers. I had arranged for my Postmaster to present a set of the Oregon stamp merchandise to the Governor but that morning his office had to relocate the presentation due to congestion at the original location and I couldn't find my Postmaster in the crowd to let him know. So I went ahead and did the presentation - so cool! If anyone wants the special 150th Birthday Station cancellation, please email me privately ASAP as next Friday is the last day to get it.

I've got pictures I'll post later, as right now I want to get back to knitting on Rosemarkie before breakfast. But here's a new post for those who were wondering if I had fallen off the edge of the world, lol.

Blessed Sunday!