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December 5, 2005

More flippin' yarn

Yup, that's right, more yarn. I might as well just admit it. I bought more yarn.
Do you know who's at fault? Well, I won't name any names, but it starts with "J" and ends in "ulia". Really, though, I don't mind. I got a pretty good deal on it.

Yesterday, we went to Michael Levine in downtown LA. It's right in the middle of the fashion district, which, in LA, is not nearly as cool and trendy as one would imagine. Nestled snuggly between skid row and the skid row suburbs (skurbs?), this is not a place one would venture after dark. But on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks before Christmas (don't even get me started on that fact) the area was alive.

Two good bloggers might have taken a few pictures to document the event, but two bloggers did not. This blogger, though, has plans to go back. Michael Levine is amazing. For a store devoted primarily to sewing supplies, the yarn selection is amazing. And, just to show their good judgment, the Red Heart yarns are kept in an entirely separate section from the rest of the yarn.

Ultimately, despite the fact that I saw many yarns which made my heart go pitter-pat, I only bought enough yarn for one garment for me and one "commissioned" piece for my brother (that's in quotes because he has paid with the years of torment I've heaped upon him for my own entertainment).
For me, some Cascade 220 in a tweedy sage green.

I have 5 skeins so I should be able to make a little something warm for myself.

And Matt will be getting a Dragon Hoodie for a friend's baby.

This will be my first time using Berroco Lullaby, but I think it'll be a nice substitute, especially since it's machine washable.

I've been working on another piece for a book that I can't show here, and a bunch of spinning that looks pretty much like the spinning I've been showing you, so, nothing more to show today.

December 12, 2005

A Quick But Fun Quiz

This is a short quiz of personality traits. I would guess that to be truly accurate, it should probably be three or four times longer, but as a diversion before, after or during work, as the case may be, it's amusing.

Here's my score. You can get the whole description of my insanity from the link below.

Check out my personality profile!
Apparently, no matter what score you get, you always get a link back to the wrong profile. Odd, the test is fun to take, though, so if you want to try it for yourself, click here. Thanks for the heads-up, Julia

For more information about the Personality Project, click here.

January 4, 2006

90 yards

I have a lot of "well duh!" moments, which would be "Aha!" moments if they weren't so obvious. One of those moments was when I realized I had everything I needed to determine the yardage I'm getting with my spinning.

Here are two skeins of my soft and lovely yarn spun up from the roving my brother gave me. Before this weekend, I would have told you that I had no idea how many yards were in there, but the answer was obvious all along. To make my skeins, when done plying, I wrap the yarn from the spindle around my calf, from foot to knee. the long way. To find out my yardage, I wrapped the tape measure the same way, found out my length and multiplied it by the number of times I wrap the yarn around my leg. Well duh!

More gratuitous yarn shots after the bump.

Continue reading "90 yards" »

January 11, 2006

Watching sausage being made

I really want to show you images of the handspun I've been knitting. What is my problem? Lighting. I get up at 4:30 am to blog, and I've spent an hour trying to get a decent picture. It's not light out when I'm home, this time of year. While I've certainly offered my fair share of crappy photos, I genuinely do strive to have something decent to show you.

There are some bloggers who just never seem to have bad pictures up. They tend to photograph their pictures in natural light to ensure that everything looks beautiful.
I am not these bloggers, nor any of the others, who, ifI weren't so sleepy, I'd remember. Nope, I take pictures when I am ready to blog and light be damned! But it doesn't mean I don't lament my crappy photos. This morning, I took my soy silk yarn on a field trip around the house in hopes of finding a decent shot.

Go on the adventure, after the bump.

Continue reading "Watching sausage being made" »

January 20, 2006

Brownies and Pumpkin Pie

I just love my Autumn Spice Cotswold. I think about spinning it when I'm at work and it's become increasingly hard not to burn dinner while I try to work spinning into my nightly routine.

Here's a bit more of it spun up and plied. Why do I love this yarn so? I don't know. It's not the softest yarn I have, but it's certainly soft enough to be knit into a nice wrap or a cardigan. The little halo of fuzziness delights me. At first I was thrown by it, but now I love it more and more. I pre draft the roving and the yarn just seems to spin itself. It's nearly effortless.

But I also got myself some of the Fudge Brownie roving. This stuff is gorgeous. The color is dark chocolate and the feel is silky, dense and smooth. Fudge Brownie is the perfect name for it. I find it harder to spin though. Instead of long snakes of roving that I can predraft, this tends to want to fall into clumps. It's smooth but the fibers like to grab ahold of each other in unexpected ways so I end up with more thick and thin areas than I'm used to. I tried my 0.9oz and then my 1.3oz spindle. The extra weight seemed to help. I decided to try spinning it a bit thicker than normal, and this is the result.

On top is both of my skeins of Autumn Spice held together in a single skein. You can see that the brown top is much thicker. Spinning thicker yarn is turning out to be challenging for me. I did notice, in the process, that I like the way the yarn looks when it is really tightly spun. It loses some of it's softness but it picks up a sheen that's decadent. I think my next skein will err on the side of overspun, to see what happens.

Here's a close-up of the two yarns. You can see that my brown yarn is not very even.

MJ has been trying to spin more thickly too. A lot of people feel that spinning fine weight yarn is harder than thicker yarn. But I think most people acclimate to spinning a certain weight of yarn and need time to learn to control other weights. It's not a matter of "this weight is good" and "this weight is bad." I'll consider myself a good spinner when I can spin many weights well. For now, I proudly wear my "novice" crown, with my head held high. No shame in it.

There's just one thing that bothers me. Do you hear it? I know I do. I hear the sweet song of the wheel calling me. I'm trying to be strong and, luckily, I do not think I could reasonably justify the cost right now. But that doesn't mean I'm not haunted by the thought of spinning all my gorgeous roving in a couple days instead of needing months to do it. I can't deny that seeing huge skeins of continuous roving, wound off a bobbin, doesn't make me drool a little. I'm counting on a certain friend of mine, to keep me sane. And if I happen to visit this site several times a day, it's only for research purposes.

March 19, 2006

Taking it for a whorl

Since finishing my shawl, (pics coming soon) I've been spinning a lot. It could be the influx of new roving that has me excited or maybe it's seeing something I've spun worked up into something I'm proud of, but whatever it is, I just can't seem to stop.

First, I spun up some of the merino/tencel I got from Janel. The colorway is called "Indian Wedding." It beautiful, though I found it harder to spin than some of the other fibers I've used. I want to try again with a different spindle and see if that helps. The final product is so soft and the sheen is so nice, I know I'm going to want to spin it all up.

I also got my order from Spunky Eclectic. I ordered two batches of Amy's Almost Solid Series.

I. Love. This. Stuff.

It works up into a yarn that looks a lot like the Twisted Sister Monochromatic Variegated yarns.

I got myself a batch of Corriedale in Sunflower.

And worked it up into a big ol' skein. My new spindle has allowed me to make much larger quantities of yarn in a go. Why on earth I chose yellow, I don't know. I certainly can't wear that color alone and the other colors I have don't really go with it, but it makes me so happy to look at it. Don't get me wrong, I think yellow is an amazing color, I'm just not so sure it's a logic choice for me.

I also bought myself a batch of Merino in colorway, Red Maple. I think the color is really more like Plum. It's got a warm red undertone, but it's a pretty deep purple overall.

I'm spinning this much finer than the yellow, which is between a sport and worsted weight. This is going to be more like a sock weight, once plied.

From some of the sweet comments I've been getting, I am starting to think that we might need a "Knit Your Handspun Along," because there are a lot of you who don't seem to ever do anything with the yarn you create. Julia suggested that to me a while ago, so I can't take any credit for the idea, but I'd love to know what folks think.

April 23, 2006

Ribbing ribbing ribbing ribbing ribbing

I took a couple rough photos of the machine knit cardi and cami

The pictures aren't so good because there was only a little daylight left when I took them. And I've been doing housework all day, so the hair; it is in no condition for photographing. But, I think it gives you a general idea of what the pieces look like.

I'm now fully engrossed in Leo's sweater.

This is the back piece. I'm about halfway to the armsceye. It looks thin, but it will block out much wider. So far so good. I got most of it done while watching a movie over at a friend's place. It was a great, relaxing evening.

Leo went out with some friends and brought me home this:

He’s so sweet. Little things like that make knitting miles of ribbing seem fun.

June 4, 2006

When birthday gifts come late, it means the birthday lasts longer

Some people give me way too much credit, and Julia is one of those people. I wish it were true that Leo's sweater were finished and blocking, as she suggested, but it's not quite the case. However, it is terribly close to being done.

I'm just working on the neck now.
Leo looks amazingly good in turtlenecks, however, with sweaters, he finds that his stubble is always tearing the turtleneck apart, wearing out the sweater long before it's truly ready to be retired. This sweater will have a mock turtleneck and several separate full turtleneck pieces to tuck in and switch out as necessary. If that just doesn't work, I have the yarn and can simply remove the bind off on the mock turtleneck and knit a full turtleneck each time one wears out.

Leo has tried on the sweater up to the point you saw it in the last post. He has declared that the fit, fabric and look are all up to his standards, so I'm feeling pretty good about the endeavor.

For those of you who knit a lot of raglans, you may have noticed that the shoulder shaping is a bit different than one might expect. Instead of a steady slope, there is a true shoulder shape at the top. Do you see what I mean?

Here's a little sneak peek of how I did that.

There is an extra "raglan" running along the top of the shoulder that extends from the neckline to about the end of the shoulder (I actually stopped about a half inch short of the final shoulder length). Calculating it was an interesting challenge and I did it by printing out gauge sized charts and origami folding it to the right shape. This is not quite so mathematical as one might hope. Eventually, I plan to work out a pattern and will have to use my experience with this piece to write up a more useful explanation for determining the correct ratio.

Oh, and the sweater has been named. It's now "The Big Four-Oh" in honor of Leo's birthday. And I agree with any of you who share the sentiment that Leo doesn't look at all like he is 40.

June 21, 2006

Four Plying Out Loud!

A certain someone gave me a wonderful little book recently on spinning.

This is a book one can read in a day but I have a feeling I'll be reading it a few times more, to really absorb what's inside. There are two techniques in particular that I've been meaning to try but haven't. The first, is the spinning of the spindle up or down one's thigh. It's not a particularly hard or scary prospect, I just never bothered trying.

Well, I'm here to tell you that if you feel hampered and slowed by spindle spinning, this is the way to go. I haven't spun much because I've been frustrated that I can't get as much spin as I can draft before the spindle hits the floor. Instead, I would spin, draft, spin again to get enough twist in my yarn. That bores me. It's probably why I find plying a bit of a bore too. It's a lot of spinning the spindle, but not much else.

Launching the spindle off my thigh, though, allows me to get more spin than a flick of the wrist has ever afforded me. I have had to get my bearings, though. Too much spin and the spindle goes a bit out of control, too little and the spindle goes off balance. But, like Goldilocks, I think I've found the right method for my little 0.9 ounce Golding.

This leads me to the second technique I've wanted to try; this one for an entirely different reason. Since starting the whole spinning endeavor, I've been using a standard Andean ply which gives me a nice little two ply yarn. This has worked great and since I prefer a rather fine weight yarn and I'm not a huge fan of singles, I get most of what I need out of this method. However, I'd always wondered if I couldn't just use the same method to ply the two ply against itself. I'd been meaning to try, but never had, because I worried that with all the time spent spinning my singles and plying them, I might bungle the whole thing and be left with garbage.

Well, take a gander:

It's a four ply, approximately worsted weight yarn, spun with some of my Almost Solid samples from Spunky Eclectic. If you are wondering, that colorway is "Redwood."

The technique is outlined in the book and it gave me the confidence to proceed with gusto.

This probably won't replace my usual two ply yarn, but it's a nice change. The four plies means that small inconsistencies in spinning, don't really show and the texture is delightful.

As a side note, I've been plying my hair for years. I used to wind my hair in the same way and then throw it into a bun which produced the most gorgeous woven effect.
If you have very long hair, you might want to give it a try. Put your hair into a ponytail, separate into 4 even sections. Take two adjacent sections, twist both in one direction and around each other in the other direction. Make sure you twist them around each other much more than you twist them individually so you have an over twisted ply. Secure with a small elastic. Repeat with the other two sections making sure to match the twists so they are both going in the same direction. Secure with a small elastic. Now twist the two plies together, remove both small elastics and replace with a single elastic over all the ends. Twist into a coil around the base of the ponytail and secure with a few bobby pins. You won’t need many because all the plies hold themselves in place so the bobby pins are more to secure the shape of the bun.

Panda wants to know when this turned into a beauty advice column.

July 23, 2006

Pygmie + Angora = CUTE

For my birthday, Julia got me the Bellwether Exotic Fiber Kit. The first fiber I grabbed was Pygora and having never heard of it I decided to see what it was.

The little cutie to your right is the first picture I saw. Read all about him here. I've quite enjoyed spinning pygora, though I've only spun a small amount. I'm using my 0.9 ounce Golding and haven't had any problems spinning it, yet. The color is actually more of a creamy shade than it appears on screen and I'm spinning the singles at a about a lace weight.

I've also been plodding away on my N2JW sock.

I'm about an inch away from the heel right now.

August 2, 2006

RSVP

I wanted my next post to be about my new socks, but forget that, I'm gonna have myself a pity party and you are all invited. Get your hats and your noise makers, suck the helium out of the balloons and talk like Mickey Mouse, because I have a bad case of the “poor mes” right now.

At 11PM last night I kissed my puppy and Leo goodbye and they drove off into the starlit night for Oregon. And perhaps I cried maybe a bit because a month away from the two of them sound heart wrenchingly lonely. And maybe I worry that they'll be abducted by aliens and I'll never see them again because while I don't actually believe in alien abductions I do believe in horrible unexpected things happening to people I love, so I'm sad. But Leo has been sending me pictures from his phone of the little girl enjoying her trek to lands unknown (at least to us)

The move has been no small feat for us, and the ordeal doesn't end any time soon. To start with, since we are both trying to be frugal and we are moving on different dates, Leo will be unpacking the truck by himself. On the plus side, we've decided to sell most of our larger furniture, but on the downside, we're still keeping both motorcycles, our queen sized mattress and box spring, our 32" TV, and a few other choice back breakers.

As a side note, Leo drew quite a crowd driving the motorcycles up the ramp of a moving truck. I’m pretty sure everyone was waiting for him to fall off the side or crash into the boxes already sitting in back.

Speaking of moving trucks, I'm not going to name any names, but we are not happy with our moving truck experience. The company in question (whose name may rhyme with "poo-ball") has set us off our schedule by a whole day. Originally, we were scheduled to pick up our truck on Monday morning at 9AM. We were supposed to find out which LA office we were to pick up our truck, no later than 5PM on Sunday night. At around 6PM we were informed that they didn't know when or where we'd be able to pick up the truck the next day, that they hadn't even scheduled us a truck yet and that they'd call us on Monday and let us know. We made our reservation over two weeks prior and since one of us still has a job to go to, we were looking at a long couple of days.

So after several hours of listening to hold music and being told by countless customer service reps that the branch office would be notified of the urgency of our need for a truck, we were finally told we could pick up a truck in an office that ended up taking about 45 minutes to get to. Good times.

We worked for two solid days with only the barest minimum of sleep, but we finally got most of what we hoped to pack, into the truck. Now, I need to get all the remaining flotsam and jetsam out of the house (to Goodwill with what we they'll take and to the trash with the rest) then try to sell the furniture on Craig's list.

On the upside, it'll be a lonely and grueling two weeks to get the house in order, but after that, I'm staying with a friend who has graciously offered to drive the scenic route to Oregon with me the weekend of the 26th. We'll be taking a long slow journey up the cost, camping as needed to refresh ourselves and stopping for every scenic view we deem worthy. Since I'm easily amused there may be a lot of stops along the way.

I want to thank you all for attending my pity party. Please feel free to take home any leftovers that you’d like. I definitely won’t eat them all myself. I’ll grab your jackets from the extra room and see you out the front door.

August 4, 2006

I loves me some silky wool

I've actually been working on this piece, in dribs and drabs, for a while now. It's not that I'm not enjoying the process, I really love the yarn and the idea I have, I hope, will be great. It'll have princess seams and waist shaping, all things that I think look lovely. I’ve just had so much else going on that it hasn't been a project I could really give the proper focus to, so I knit a row here and there and put it down for a little while.

One thing you'll find about me and my knitting is that I knit almost everything with a provisional cast on, and this project is no exception. I feel like it gives me a lot more options. I can always cast it off normally, if it turns out I don't need those stitches.

Now that most of my worldly goods are in Portland, I'm sans ball winder (until the gracious Ms Julia takes me in on the 15th) so I'm reduced to winding my own center pull balls.

I use an empty prescription pill bottle. If you want to try this at home, look for one that is fairly tall. Circumference doesn’t make a huge difference. Tuck one end of the yarn in the container. Close the container to secure the end then wind as though using a Nostepinne. When you are done, open the bottle and slide off your center pull ball. It's not as convenient as a ball winder, but it works in a pinch.

In move news, Leo and Panda are doing very well in our new home in Oregon. He's already emptied the whole truck by himself.

And Panda has taken to the place like a fish to water. She hung out by our giant tree:

And watches our neighbors from a choice vantage point.

It appears that our lawn could do with some tending, but we'll get to that when we can. For now, I'm just happy to know that everyone is home safe and sound. Pity party is still in overtime but it's winding down a bit.

August 17, 2006

I want off

When I was a kid, I used to go to Canobie Lake Park every year with my parents because the company they worked for rented out the park for a day, once a year. I remember seeing all the roller coasters, even the one in the little kids' area and thinking "yah, I want to go on that." But as soon as the ride got going, I'd realize that this was definitely NOT what I wanted to be doing and in fact, if I didn't get off STAT, I was going to need to scream my fool head off. Luckily, I was a fast learner and quickly came to the conclusion that I was happier on more tame rides and getting "antique" photos taken with my friends. Odd, but I always loved the Turkish Twist which was like a tilt-a-whirl without the tilt and down in a pit where the floor dropped out from under you. So it’s kind of like being in a salad spinner.

Anyway, moving has been much like riding that roller coaster for the first time. I think, "Yah, no problem, I'm ready for this. While I'm at it, maybe I'll bring peace to the middle east too." Then suddenly I realize that everything is happening and I can’t turn back; Leo and Panda take off, the apartment is full of things I need to sell, and work is hitting a busy point. I see that apex of that long first hill ahead of me and start to think, hmmm, am I actually ready for this?

And what a ride it's been. Moving out of the old place on Tuesday was such a relief. I really do love LA, I've been very happy here, but I've been on a strict regiment of "no fun, all cleaning and selling old furniture" for the past week. I have a new disdain for flakey people who say they are coming to get your furniture and never show up. I also have scorn for people who try to haggle me on items I'm already trying to sell for much less than even Goodwill would charge. I'm not bitter, nah, not at all.

But I'm now a guest of a certain winter minded friend of mine, and life is good again.

I've made a small amount of progress on the Silky Wool cardigan. You can now see the full effect of the princess seams. She’ll look better after a little blocking.

The front and back are almost done and then I start playing around with sleeves. I do the bulk of my designing in Adobe Illustrator.

I don't want to give anyone the impression that using Illustrator is quick or easy, but I find it to be a great tool for the way I like to design for myself. In this case, the first thing I do is build a grid to scale. Then I create a pattern swatch that exactly matches a single pattern repeat for the stitch pattern. Since I generally create my document to be an exact 1 to 1 scale of the final pattern, I can use the actual inch markers on the built in document rulers, to draw the shape I want.

A little hint if you want to try this yourself, if you want a smaller scale, try working in centimeters instead of inches or picas instead of centimeters. For instance, if I draw my design pretending that each centimeter is an inch, I can basically scale the whole piece down by half, but I still have a ruler to go by when making modifications.

Just like working on regular graph paper, once my general shape is defined, I need to go in and redraw the shapes so they are made up only of whole stitches. Once the initial design is built, I fill it with my original pattern swatch and if all goes well, it will perfectly align with my gauge grid.

From there, I can reshape the piece at will and see how it will look. Then, I just print it out and work directly from the chart while I knit.

Since I have both a stitch-by-stitch, row-by-row representation of the piece and the stitch pattern, I can forego the row counter altogether. I just tick off the last row I worked and if I'm unsure if I remembered to mark off the last row, I can double check by looking at what row of the stitch pattern I just knit and comparing it to the chart.

I’d be curious to hear how other designers out there like to do their designing. Do many of you use Excel? Pencil, paper and calculator? Design programs? (I have one, but generally don’t use it for much more than calculating the armsceye and sleeve caps of multi-sized patterns.) Do you have another technique all together? Do tell.

Continue reading "I want off" »

August 22, 2006

If crafting were a narcotic, we'd need Betty Ford

It has been a whirlwind week at Chez MOW. We've fit more of just about everything into these 7 days than I usually fit into a month. I love it. It's a fiber fueled binge and the neighbors are ready to call the authorities.

I won't say "the highlight of the week" because I think it's all been fun in a myriad of ways, but one of the best photographically documented events has been our trip to the Santa Monica Fiber Festival. Now, many of we yarnly types think of "fiber" as being roving and fleece and perhaps some handspun, and, boy oh boy, the best of that was available. But this fiber festival featured fabrics, beads, buttons, and antique goodness all around. Sure, there were some kittens and koy* but for every bit of questionably kitsch, there’s a great deal more of wallet emptying temptation.

The organizers (no fools were they) knew what they were doing and placed some baby alpacas at the entrance.

I'm not particularly gaga over livestock but these guys are pretty darn cute. Julia and I then went in for a quick first pass and some lunch.

A little side story, because I know she won't tell you herself. As we were eating our french fries..er...I mean...organic rolled oats, we chatted away at the small area set aside for such goings on. As we prattled on about what we wanted to see, what we planned to buy and which wheels we hoped to spin on, from behind me, came the sweetest "excuse me." A woman was trying to get Julia's attention. "Excuse me." She said, one more time "Are you a model?" As Julia decided if she could hug the woman while simultaneous spitting her food out and laughing, the woman persisted. "Don't you model knitwear?" Now, of course, I think Julia is plenty lovely enough to model, but one can't help but admire a complement like that. Further discussion revealed that the woman had seen Julia's various knitwear designs online, and presumed her role as "model" was paid and as opposed to practical.

After our highly nutritious lunch, we began our official trek through the festival. I knew my little shawl would be there, and we found it in no time. Despite knowing full well it’d be on display, I couldn’t help but be pleased beyond reason to see her there.

She stood among some of the most breath taking pieces. The photos submitted to Spindlicity just didn't do them justice.

After that, it was two circuits of the vendors and then a long break to spin, gab and spin some more. If this were a night on the town, at this point in the story, Julia and I would be crawling into Denny's at 4AM, makeup streaming down our faces, nylons ripped and at least one high heel broken. We were just about ready to pass out, but we couldn't bring ourselves to stop. We kept running into people we knew and things to see. We knew we were doomed when we finally found Miss Andrea walking around with her sister. So pulling out one of my purchases, a decadent 2 ounces of Merino and Silk roving, I decided to start spinning.

See Marnie.
See Marnie spin.
Spin, Marnie, spin!

And let me tell you, I didn't stop until yesterday morning. This stuff spun like it didn't even need me there. The results? 72 yards of 2 ply yarn on my brand new niddy noddy. Did I mention I bought a niddy noddy? No? Well I did and I’m smitten.

The yarn is about a DK to a light worsted weight and spun on my 1.9 ounce Golding Celtic Ring. And if the color and fiber composition weren't yummy enough, how's this for a little balance?

That is right off the niddy noddy. This yarn hasn't seen water yet. I'm so very proud.

As you can see, it's fairly loosly spun which I find easier to keep balanced. It was hard not to keep this yarn as singles because they looked so beautiful, but I knew I'd be unlikely to knit with singles, and I want to make sure I actually use this handspun

Oh and while I was at the festival, I may have also tried myself a wheel. And it just so happens that I love it and that it maches my new niddy noddy. I was thinking I might get myself the entry level model for Christmas, but more and more I'm thinking that what I want to do is save up for the super fabby model instead. As Julia says, in an entirely believable and reasonable sounding manner "If you get the good one, you won't need to upgrade later, then you'll only need one wheel ever."

You heard it here first, folks.That's my plan; one wheel, monogomous relationship for life. No really, I mean it.

*This will make more sense if Julia posts some of her aquisitions.

August 29, 2006

A quick recap of the road trip

I'm home in Portland with both a feeling of elation to be back with my sweet Leo and Little Miss Panda, but also a sadness that the trek is over and Julia has gone back home. I have so much to tell you about, but I’ll try to keep from making this post too long. It was an amazing trip; one I'll look back on as being among the most memorable, but I'm exhausted. Like all of the past few weeks, we've packed as much into as little time as our little psyches could handle and it'll be days before the effects wear off.

The trip started with an easy jaunt to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles. We stayed at a place owned by a friend of Julia's. This allowed us the opportunity to stop by Village Spinning and Weaving in Solvang, CA.

While there, we availed ourselves our their various wheels, including Ashfords, Majacrafts, Louets and a Windwheel. When I left the shop, I thought I was happy with the Ashford Kiwi. That's definitely not what I expected, but it was a lovely little thing, easy to use, and it felt fine.

As we embarked on the next leg of our trip, we decided that we'd see if we could try a Schacht Matchless at Carolina Homespun in San Francisco. We figured that with the $600 price difference, the Matchless would have to be pretty darn wonderful to sway us.


I. Love. This. Wheel.

DAMMIT!

After spending hours at Carolina Homespun, spinning until we had to concede to the road trip agenda (and our rapidly waning blood sugar), we made our way to lunch and then back on the road. It was noon, and we were going to drive to the Sequoia National Forest, a mere 38 miles from San Francisco.

Five hours later, several wrong turns, some swearing at the atlas and not a Sequoia in sight, we were in stop and go traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. In case the impact of that isn't entirely clear, that's a 5 hour detour to get us back to where we started, without actually seeing what we had hoped to see.

The sun was setting and the question became: Do we drive as far as we can at night, missing a good deal of the redwoods but still trying to get to Crater Lake the next day? Or do we drive a more reasonable distance, enjoy all the of the redwoods and skip Crater Lake?

We decided to drive as far as we could without overshooting the redwoods. There is no anxiety quite like that feeling that you've made a horribly bad decision. As we wound through the dark roads at night, hour upon hour passing, we calculated our optimal stopping point. Finally, having passed up most obvious points of civilization, we found ourselves in a quaint little area...where every light in town was turned off. The towns were silent and the motels could have as easily been abandoned, for all the life we could detect. Beam me up Scottie! I see no life here.

As the crew (all two of us) grew ever more punchy and concerned, we wound down one sleepy town's main street after another, until we found our oasis. Motel Ravenwood was open. As unlikely as it was, the owner just happened to be awake, awaiting another guest and he just happened to have an open room. We could have cried with happiness. Instead, we snatched the keys, paid our rate and made a bee line for the warmth of our beds.

The next day we awoke refreshed and ready to complete the last day of our journey. The redwoods are everything we hoped they'd be. Following the 101 up the coast, we stopped for a walk on the brisk sandy beach.



Doesn't Julia's sweatshirt look like it belongs on this beach?


From there, we followed the directions the motel owner gave us and found a quiet little trail off a well groomed dirt road.



My little spindle even joined us on the walk.

As we left the redwoods and headed to Crater Lake, I had a little twinge of excitement when I realized I had finally hit my new home state. If you are wondering, it's beautiful and Crater Lake is no exception.

We stopped at each little vista point and the little spindle joined in the oohing and ahhing. The atmospheric haze made the lake look dreamy and almost unreal. The spindle particularly enjoyed seeing the chipmunks. None of them broke into song.





Even the firemen were a delight to look at.

All said, it was an amazing trip. I’m still recovering, but I’m so glad I had the chance to do it. Portland is wonderful, and being back with my sweeties, is as grand as I hoped.

I should have more pictures up soon, and I feel pretty sure that Julia will have some stories to regale you with as well.

September 1, 2006

Settling in nicely

It's really hard to tell this early, but so far, I'm very happy in Portland. Seeing Panda so happy, eating great food and meeting kind people, it all seems a bit too good to be true. Perhaps when the rains start coming in earnest, I'll be singing a different tune. For now though, I will fall asleep counting Pygora, and wake up to great coffee, I'm going native, people.

Maybe it's unfair to compare the accommodations of a second story apartment versus the little house we are renting now, but from my office window, it's not uncommon for me to see birds and squirrels, fattening themselves up for the winter. We have some sort of tree with berries, growing right outside the window, which makes for no end of visitors.

But you know, the contents of this blog have been leaning pretty heavily towards talk of road trips and shenanigans (that's right, I call shenanigans!) I feel it's time to at least make a passing reference to something crafty.

I did a little more spinning on, and then plied the roving that saw all the great sites on our trip.

The fiber is a blend of BFL and Alpaca. I think this shot makes it seem a little course, but it isn't. It's an example of a fiber blend that is greater than the sum of its parts; soft, drapey, silky and unbelievably spinable.

This skein is exceptionally special to me because not only has it seen great sites but it's a combination of work by both Julia and me. I love the work I spin on my own, but it seems all the more special when someone else has spun a little of it too. I think both of us learned a lot going to the Fiber Fest and stopping at several shops on our way to Oregon. By Crater Lake, we were both able to match each other's spinning quite well.

To add a little more specialness still, I asked Panda to give me a hand with the photo shoot.

You'll have to excuse our yellow lawn. Once the weather gets cooler and rainier, I'm told I expect plenty of lush green grass.

And since there's been a bit of clamoring for Panda pics, here's a bit more to sate your appetite. After work, the three of us decided to take a jaunt around the neighborhood. I rode my pretty pink bicycle, and Panda and Leo....

Well, they do things their own way.

GO PANDA GO!

September 3, 2006

The best laid plans of mice and men

Leo, Panda and I went to the beach this weekend. The coast is usually a safe bet for us because it's generally beautiful and Panda loves it.

Even our shoes seem happy at the beach

Leo had explored the Oregon coast a bit before and when he had, it had been beautiful but exceedingly cold. He suggested lots of layers. So we threw on some warm clothing and headed out for a quick half-day trip to the ocean.

Read all about it after the bump.

Continue reading "The best laid plans of mice and men" »

September 5, 2006

Not everyone loves a parade

Saturday, Leo, Panda and I decided to walk around Portland a bit. Panda doesn't really love "social" settings, she's more of a reclusive nature girl. She's definitely gotten better over the years, but it's still a little overwhelming to be in the city. We try to give her small doses of relatively positive experiences in public places when we can and lots of good times at places she’s more comfortable.

After walking along the river for a while, we headed back inland for some lunch at a wonderful Thai restaurant. We sat outside, enjoying our great meal and giving Panda a little breather from the hot weather and noisy city only to hear a bit of a commotion coming up the street.

What was it?

An immigrants' rights parade.

The "haters" sign amuses me to no end.

Panda, on the other hand....

...Is NOT amused. If you aren't an animal person, you may not be able to read her expression, but to me, this screams "get me the hell OUT of here." Click the image to get the full effect. I can't help but laugh. I know it's wrong, but I do anyway.

Once the parade passed, we found a quiet route back to the car and ran into this little guy:


And if you are wondering, here's his tag:

He's a part of this project. How cute is that? Check out some of the other pictures in the galleries.

September 7, 2006

Rebecca called, they'd like their photo shoot back.

We were channeling our inner knitwear models in these pictures. I think the Lush Hoodie better suits the scenery than my vest, but one makes due with what one packs.

dorks.gif

I think I may have laughed myself stupid during this.

See all the silliness here and here.

September 11, 2006

Dogs are allowed on all pathes (except the really good ones)

At my request, this weekend we decided to try some sight seeing inland. The ocean is always a safe bet but there's a whole lot of Oregon that doesn't even come close to being near the beach, but which is supposed to be lovely.

Leo got a recommendation from a friend who said that Silver Falls was both pet friendly (though she hadn't brought a pet) and really wonderful. It did sound amazing and hearing that pets are allowed on all trails except the "canyon trail" lead us to believe we had some beautiful falls in store for us. Alas, there are no falls, that we could see, anywhere on the other trails. Luckily, we still got to see much that was truly beautiful.

These weren't redwoods, but the trees stood incredibly tall. I just wasn't able to get a picture that showed a single tree from top to bottom

This fallen tree was immense. Leo and Panda look so small next to it.

 

The trails were fairly well maintained and a pretty easy walk. It didn't seem too challenging and surprisingly few buggies about our heads. As immense and breathtaking as all the views were, it's the little things that catch my eye.

We have icky spiders about the house, but it doesn't mean I can't appreciate a beautiful web when I see one.

Those shocking red berries look so intense next to all that green.

And if you think those are enchanting, look at this moss growing everywhere.

Some trees had thick coats of this growing on them, while others seem relatively untouched.

This seems like a setting out of some fantasy movie.

I had no idea I was making a heart with the leash. Cute, no?

After our hike, we went back to Portland for some lunch. We ended up at a wine bar called Thirst, where we had a delicious but light meal.

The view from our table, overlooking the river, on a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Panda hanging out at Leo's feet, and Leo sporting a lovely Panda shirt.

Since it was a wine bar, we decided to try their tasting options. I was expecting and would have been perfectly content with, smaller servings of wine, but their selections were great and really fun to try together. Leo got the "Eclectic Reds" and I had the "Light Flight All White." Paired with our salads and an order of assorted olives, we were three happy hikers.

Our favorite was the roasted kalamata olives. They were addicting. I'm surprised it didn't come to blows deciding who would get the last one.

September 13, 2006

The UPS man cometh

I checked my tracking number yesterday, knowing that the wheel was scheduled to be delivered that day. Google Maps, the bloody liar that it is, told me that package was 11 minutes away. Ok, it's not Google Maps's fault, but having checked the site at 6AM, by 5PM, I was starting to lose hope. What if they delivered it to someone else's house? What if the UPS truck went off the edge of a cliff? What if, what if?

So I decided to take a shower and midway through, the doorbell rings. It takes all my self control not to run to the door, hair lathered, naked as the day I was born, and greet the UPS man. Luckily, Leo was home, dressed and not otherwise indisposed and he was able to get the door.

While I got myself rinsed off and dressed, he did what any good fiber lover lover would do and he started to get the box open for me. Check this baby out:

Whoever said that good things come in little packages never had a Schacht coming their way.

Inside, was my wheel, in great condition and looking beautiful.

After about 15 minutes on the Schacht website, I had him going. I used a little bit of motor oil that Leo had, and tied some Rowan Cotton Glace on for a drive band (I know it's not ideal, but it got the job done). For the next 3 hours I spun spun spun spun. The only whorl I received was a slow whorl and I like to spin very fine with very slippery yarns, so this will have to change. Adjusting to this took a little bit of time. The results (though poorly lit) aren't as bad as I feared.

I have no idea what the fiber is. I got it from Greenwich Yarns and have always found it very spinable on the spindle, but it's even more so on the wheel.

Despite the slow whorl, I think I still managed to overspin the singles, but who cares, at this point I'm just enjoying the sound and feel of spinning. I am itching to do it right now, but will have to wait until my lunch break.

I probably have enough of this fiber to, more or less, fill this bobbin. This means I can andean ply the yarn or ply it with another fiber. I'm thinking I may do the latter, so that I can use my new lazy kate. Woohoo!

September 19, 2006

I think they call that "loft"

I never cease to be amazed at how very spinable the Cotswold is that I bought from Nistock Farms. Cotswold is not a very soft fiber. It's certainly not as rough as some wools, but I wouldn't make a bikini out of it, that's for sure. But there's something about it that really appeals to me. It's got a soft halo with just a bit of sheen and the way they dyed it (the color way is called, Autumn Spice) is simply spectacular. I love this yarn. Spinability wise, I think it bears a bit of resemblance to the A type Pygora, though, of course, the Pygora is much softer.

Much like Julia felt while spinning her first skein on her gorgeous Rose, I wasn't so sure this skein would live up to my expectations. It seemed a little flat and blah and perhaps a bit too thick and thin, while plying up. Then when Laura (alas, no blog) pointed out that in my complete newbie haze I'd used my bobbin backwards, I though for sure I'd blown it. But beginners luck shined down upon me and this is what I pulled off the niddy noddy.

I don't know if it counts as "balanced" since it doesn't twist as a whole, but it does have little kinky bits in there. I would guess it'd be considered unbalanced in its constituent parts yet oddly balanced overall. But man, this is 152 yards of lofty goodness. At this unwashed state, it is just a big poof of orange yumminess. Do you see that other mini skein in back? That's the leftover Cotswold and the leftover BFL/Alpaca, plied together to clear off the two bobbins. There was more of the brown than the orange, so after I exhausted the Cotswold, I Andean plied the remaining BFL/Alpaca into the same skein. It's a pretty unattractive little skein but I just couldn't bring myself to simply toss the leftovers.

The big skein though? She is one sexy mama. I'll let the images do the talking. Just try not to love these.

Thank goodness I have an extensive stock of unspun fiber right now because if I didn’t I’d be buying up a whole bunch more of this roving.

September 20, 2006

Purple is the color of my true love's roving

Every time I pull a new skein of wheel spun off my niddy noddy, I'm inspired anew to crack open my stash of roving and see how the next fiber will work up. This time, I pulled out my supply of Red Maple Merino, one of the Almost Solid Series fibers that Amy offers. It took me a few yards before I really started to get the feel for the merino. It's a more challenging fiber for me to control than some of the others I've spun lately, but I think the practice paid off. This stuff is sproingy, soft and airy. I'm spinning it a little thick and not too tightly (I hope) in an attempt to maintain it's great innate qualities.

During my lunch break, I often eat a quick bite before sitting down to spin a bit. Monday was no exception. As I did so, Spongebob playing on the tube and Panda sitting beside me (try to top THAT for a lunch break), Leo stopped and watched me for a moment. I look up and our eyes meet. He smiles and says "Can I try?"

Well, short of offering to do all the housework forever onward, there are few things he could have said that would have filled me with more joy. So hurtling over pre-drafted yarn, a sleeping pup, and nearly crashing into the coffee table in my excitement, I ushered him over to El Matchador. We practiced starting up and maintaining the speed of the wheel with the treadle and then I reattached the unspun fiber to the yarn on the bobbin and held his hands while we drafted together. After a bit, I left him to try it on his own, offering advice when he asked.

Let’s be honest, though, I am probably not the person to be teaching anyone to wheel spin right now. After a few minutes, Leo gave up in frustration. I removed his yarn from the bobbin and piled it carefully next to El Matchador and started back to my own spinning.

Later, he picks the small pile of yarn up off the table and begins to straighten it out and untwisting it. "How will you salvage this?" He asks innocently.

"I don't plan to salvage it, I love it," I say as I snatch it from his hands before the fibers are completely set loose. "It's sentimental now."

He smiles and walks off and I go into the kitchen to do the dishes. And then he realizes the implications of what I've said. From behind me, I hear "You're going to BLOG about this aren't you?"

I don't meet his gaze.

"I won't if you don't want me to."

Silence

He kisses my neck, gives me a little hug and says, “go ahead.”

He's a keeper.

September 22, 2006

Sometimes it takes someone visiting from out of state to get you out into your own neighborhood

After seeing MK Carroll's Knitty Gritty episode, I popped off a little comment to her and we started conversing. Turns out, she was going to be in my area, right about...well…now. So she invited me to a local Knitting Guild which offers two free visits for non-members. I went last night and had a great time. I met some lovely people, MK included, who made me feel incredibly welcome to my new town and who didn't act the least bit put off by my rather clumsy conversation and non sequiturs.

First, there was Amanda, who kindly welcomed me to her table when I showed up late and popped down in a corner. She was gracious enough to forgive me when I, in my infinite social nervousness, didn't recognize her name. Sorry! She just happened to be sitting next to MK and then introduced me to the rest of the table; Katrina, Chrissy and Donna one other woman whose name has escaped me but who should not take that as any reflection of my opinion of her. I'm still trying to find someone in Portland who is mean, but I'm not having any luck. To paraphrase Leo, who is paraphrasing someone else, "If you can't find the jerk in the group, chances are, it's you." I'm kidding of course, no need to fill my comments with reassurances.

Since I didn't take any pictures while there, I'll have to leave you with some Panda goodness instead.

Here's my little girl all curled up and sleeping on the couch, one chilly morning this week.

When she hangs out by the computer, Leo calls her our little firewall.

And here she is, realizing that she can see Leo on the other side of the window. He's taunting her and she's barking.

I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with "L."

September 24, 2006

Great, now I have even more to miss

Well, it looks like I'm headed back to India for a couple weeks, starting on Wednesday or Thursday. So now, I will be away from Leo and Panda, my two little rays of sunshine AND El Matchador, my new constant companion (is it just me or does "constant companion" sound like a personal hygiene product?). I expect this trip to be much more intensive and less fun all around, but I still hope to make the best of it. I'm a touch nervous about going without anyone I know and as the sole representative for my company. But let's not talk about work, let's talk about freshly spun yarn.

The Red Maple roving worked up quickly at a nice thick and thin, mostly worsted weight yarn, once plied. Do you want to see something amazing? Here are the two bobbins after I finished plying them.

Please excuse the lighting, it was evening when I did the plying.

I had all of maybe 12-18 inches of singles on one bobbin when the other emptied. There was no planning, no trying, just magic. *sigh* It'll never happen again.

I thought the red purple would look nice against the cement of the back patio.

It's a thick and lofty yarn, with out too much spin, and the results are every bit as squoochy and sproingly as you'd want it to be. I already have plans for some of this.


Panda gives it a due air of elegance.

After the merino, I pulled out some more roving dyed by Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks (alas, still no website) that I bought from Carolina Homespun. The colorway is "Purple Haze" and it's a heavenly mix of purples and steel grays. The blend is Merino/Bombyx and I had 2 ounces worth.

I spun it up pretty finely because I wanted to try to use the Navajo Plying technique. For those who haven't tried it before, Navajo plying is a means of achieving a three ply yarn off a single bobbin by, in essence, working very long crochet chain stitches. It takes a touch of coordination, but with a little practice, it's actually quite fun. I started with some scrap yarn I had and got the motion down, before trying it with my new singles.

The results are nice; a nearly balanced 3 ply with lots of sheen and a soft hand.

There's a lot I'm going to miss while I'm away.

A lot indeed.

Went to OFFF today, will post about that soon.

September 28, 2006

Where's my welcome wagon

Here I am, 14 hours after I left the house this morning, in the Frankfurt Lufthansa lounge. I don't know how many of you remember my last layover in Frankfurt, but I'm hoping this one is far less exciting. So far so good.

I haven't slept yet, so there has been knitting, there has been reading and there has been a bit of bad movie viewing. I'll probably grant myself a nap once the sleep deprivation hallucinations set in. Weeeee! Better than the free booze for entertainment. All this in hopes of getting close to the 12.5 hour time difference in India. I realize this may be an ill conceived plan as my work schedule these next two weeks is not yet finalized. I may end up actually needing to work a 9-5 PDT which is overnight in Pune.

In the mean time, Leo is taunting me with pictures and audio from home.

Nothing like a little puppy face to make you homesick.

Crappy segues brought to you by Jetlag® (A wholly owned subsidiary of Wonky Moods Inc.)

September 29, 2006

Would that be H2O4?

I left Mumbai after a breakfast of coffee and toast and hopped a small plane to Pune. This involved another trek through various security check points. Not the least of which was the "Ladies' Frisking Booth." How's that for a friendly how do you do?

It wasn't nearly as exciting as it sounds. It's more your standard issue wanding by security.

After a short wait we were all bussed to our plane in which they'd piped the smooth sounds of musak. La Bamba played as I entered and began again right before we disembarked. I guess they save money by keeping the music rotation just about as long as the flight and pass the savings on to the customer.

I landed, collected my things and headed to the hotel.

Ahh the hotel.
Remember the view from my Mumbai room? Here's how it looks in the day:

Pretty,huh?

Here's my new view:

But it's got internet access, a shower and a bed, which should pretty much cover my needs. They also have the most amusing bottled water I've seen yet.


I don't find their water any more oxygen-y than any other I've had the pleasure to try but I'm reassured to know that it's got 300% more than "source water under standard testing conditions." Heaven knows, our doctors are always telling us to drink more oxygen in our diet.

But the amusement of reading water bottle labels wears off quickly which is where the internet access comes into play, and oh boy am I taking advantage of it. I'm not sure if it makes me more or less homesick, but Leo's been video conferencing with me when we're both awake. I don't have a web cam, but he and Panda do.

Panda doesn't love the web cam. It sort of confuses her to hear my voice coming out of, seemingly, nowhere

But that just makes her get all snuggly with Leo for reassurance.

I miss being with them but am glad they are doing well.

Well, it's time for me to try to catch a little shut eye. Yesterday, that was unexpectedly challenging. There's a festival going on right now, and my room is right next to a temple where they were blaring religious music most of the day. Luckily, I have a couple pairs of earplugs to help dull the noise.

Today and tomorrow, we have off and then it's back to the grind.

I hope to have something more interesting than airports and hotel room views to show you next time.

October 9, 2006

5 hours getting stabbed - but he was asking for it

A little over 4 years ago, I designed and got a tattoo of a dragonfly on my back. I loved the little guy and I figured if I couldn't see it everyday, I'd be less likely to get sick of it. I think it worked. I still love seeing him hanging out back there.

marnietat.jpg

It got Leo thinking that he might like something himself. He asked me to think of some possible ideas. He knew he wanted something that had a female face, and he was thinking he might want an armband.

Now, I dabble in illustrating, but it is, by no means, my strong suit. I sketched, I used Illustrator, I submitted ideas to him and yet we kept coming up with misses, not hits. I'll be the first to say that no one should get a tattoo unless they feel 100% sure it's what they want and, luckily, Leo feels the same. Yet, I was beginning to think I'd never come up with a design that could meet his discriminating taste.

Finally, we hit on an idea that seemed perfect to him. Two female profiles facing each other with their hair intertwining around his arm. It was a design that we hasn't seen on anyone else (which is not to say that it hasn't been done, we just haven't seen it) and Leo thought he could love it enough to have it forever.

When I finalized the sketch and got it to where he thought it was perfect, he asked if I could include a Japanese character in the middle. I've take a little bit of Japanese before, so I knew enough to search for the character online and then look it up by it's radical to confirm the meaning. There's still a chance that it has some colloquial or slang meaning that may come back to haunt us, but I suppose that's the chance you take when you go getting tattoos in languages you don't really know.

Anyway, the characters should mean "lion" which is what Leonardo means as well. Leo jokes that it's as close as he gets to being between two women at one time. Ha! Funny, very funny.

You may recall that I said the designing happened over 4 years ago. We went to a few places in LA to see what it would cost but we it ended up just falling by the wayside. Over time it just seemed to be (I thought) forgotten.

Well, bruised, beaten, exhausted and bloodied, after 5 hours of continuous inking (he said she didn't even take a potty break) his tattoo is done, and from what I can see, it's amazing. Want to see it? Check the pics after the jump. If you are not so fond of the look of freshly tattooed skin under plastic wrap and tape, you can see the original illustration here.

Continue reading "5 hours getting stabbed - but he was asking for it" »

Unwrapped

I only have a few minutes so I don't have much time for commentary other than to say that I think it looks wonderful.

And for those who asked, he confirmed that under the arm is, in fact, a very painful place to get a tattoo. Aww. But hopefully it was all worth the pain in the end.

October 16, 2006

Home sweet home

Wow, I have been one lazy bum these past few days. I think my body had finally gotten used to being 12.5 hours off from PDT and coming back my mind just gave up on me and said "Forget it, you can just sleep ALL the time, for all I care." We went out for a really nice dinner on Friday night and caught some bands and clubs downtown, but it was an act of pure will power to stay awake. However, I wasn't a complete and utter bump on a log. El Matchador and I enjoyed a sweet sweet reunion.

The first thing I did was to finish plying my 4 ounces of Alpaca in the Iris colorway. There are about 315 yards of DK-ish weight 2-ply.

It was actually nice to start off with something as mindless as plying.
Once all my alpaca off the niddy noddy and hanging out to dry, I broke into some of my Merino/Silk in colorway Catalina.

Both fibers are from Janel's store

This skein is 2 ounces and is a 3 ply, using the Navajo plying method. There are about 190 yards and it's, more or less, worsted weight. I love this method of plying, but man am I good at getting it messed up. I had a few "ugly moments" in this skein. Let us not speak of it again.

I, of course, have more fiber on the wheel right now. I'll have to show you that some other time.

We did manage to get out of the house yesterday, to give Panda a proper run around the park. Our hope had been to go to the beach, but the weather, being Portland an all, wasn't quite suitable for such endeavors. This is not to say that it wasn't beautiful out, though. After 5 years in LA, I sort of forgot how beautiful drizzly autumn days could be.

We swung by Leo's office and I snapped pictures of the ducks in the little river near the parking lot.

And all around us, the trees were turning.

The overcast skies really make the colors pop by comparison.

With an adventurous spirit and a little luck, we even found a nice little park to let the girl run around.

It had an apple tree just overflowing with ripe fruit

And lovely little roses giving their last blooms before winter.

I love that Portland offers some of the vivid colors of autumn that I remember from New Hampshire, but offers mild enough weather to sustain roses. Talk about the best of all worlds!

October 24, 2006

Scenic

I feel like I haven't had much in the way of craftiness to offer you guys lately. That probably won't change much in the next couple of weeks. I'm knee deep in unbloggable stuff and even El Matchador is feeling the slight. I do, however, have some Panda cuteness and Pacific Northwest autumnal beauty. If that sounds interesting to you, keep-a-scrolling!

Sunday, we decided that Panda was well overdue for some running around and chasing the "squirrel". We didn't make it as far as the beach, just over to the same park we visited, not so very long ago.

It was a gorgeous day, mild, sunny, perfect for wearing out a high energy dog.

That toy got a nice coating of slobber.

Once Panda was exhausted (or at least in need of a break,) I took to wandering around the park and snapping pictures. I could fill this blog with the pictures I took. There are pear trees, apple trees, berries of all sorts, all just growing in a tiny little park tucked away in Portland.


There's a colorway in here somewhere.

As we were heading back home, Leo and I decided that maybe we should take advantage of the beautiful day and do some sight seeing. Since it was relatively warm and Panda was a bit tuckered out, we decided to drop her off at home.

From there, we just took off.

In the areas we drove around, yellow and a touch of red really dominate the autumn colors. I don't recall seeing much orange at all. This part of Oregon is greener than I recall New Hampshire being, when I lived there, and it's definitely warmer.

 

Aww, those pumpkins look so delicious pretty.

And since it is a lovely October day, we had to stop by a pumpkin patch. While I love those vivid orange pumpkins, we got ourselves a classic one. The plan? We'll carve him up, rip out his guts and bake up the seeds, Then we'll stick a burning flame in him, set him out for the kids to gawk at and, Leo plans to smash him after Halloween. Somehow, it all seemed less violent when we originally discussed the idea.

Moo!

 

All of this, within an hour's drive from our humble little home. We were back before Panda finished her nap.

October 27, 2006

First carved pumpkin

Leo has never carved a pumpkin or had roasted pumpkin seeds before. Who knew? So last night, I sketched out a design and Leo used his brawn and patience to produce this:

Isn't he great?

And the pumpkin seeds? That's my department.

Roasted in a little butter and olive oils with salt, pepper and onion powder.

Meanwhile, I've been doing a little spinning. I haven't mentioned much about it recently, partly because El Matchador and I have had a couple ugly moment recently. There were some tension issues.
Let's be honest, these issues were my fault and I'm a big enough person to admit it. Wheels just weren't meant to spin with a mercerized cotton drive band. When I switched to a synthetic one that I had picked up a few weeks ago, it was as though the heavens opened up and angels began to sing. Another "oh duh!" moment for Marnie.

I haven't even calculated how much yardage I have here but it's a Merino/Tencel blend in a colorway called Sandstone. I bought it at Carolina Homespun, while on my road trip to Oregon. It's relatively fine, maybe a sport weight overall.

And here it is with my unblogable work, basking in a sun beam with Panda.

November 4, 2006

Shakin' my bon-bon

Last night, Leo and I met up with a local group who tries different restaurants in Portland, every two weeks. This time, we went to Eleni's Philoxenia a Greek WONDERLAND of food yumminess. Great googily moogily, this meal was good.

After eating ourselves stupid, and smelling not unlike Gilroy, California, we went for some Salsa dancing at Andrea's Cha-Cha Club. When I say "we" went salsa dancing, it's in the royal sense. We don't salsa dance, I salsa dance. Leo mans the camera and tends to the people watching.

While I doubt the eau de garlic was a scent my dance partners hoped would be wafting over them, I couldn't help but have a grand old time cutting a rug.

I kind of think this blurry one is the most flattering of the bunch.

I guess this one looks a little bit more like it's actually me.

Dancing a cha-cha. I had a little trouble following this guy's lead and he kept insisting on counting aloud. It was a little bit of a train wreck.

Despite his mullet he was a very good dancer. Oh and he has a mullet, my god, I haven't seen one of those since New Hampshire!

We danced until about midnight before calling it quits and heading home to bed.

While Andrea's doesn't have quite the crowd I remember from my favorite Salsa clubs in Boston and LA, it comes as close as I've been able to find since coming to Portland. We've hit a few other spots that are nicer to look at but lack the sort of regulars that can really hold their own. Apparently, Tango is rather popular here and I may have to give it a shot, but for now, I've found a place to get my salsa fix.

November 20, 2006

The tide is high but I'm holding on

Well, it was another great weekend for me in Portland. This is probably not what anyone who watches the weather station would guess. We've been getting rains of epic proportions. I'm pretty sure I saw an old guy, two misguided daughters and a bunch of animals on a boat, floating down the street. Actually, I think we've been relatively lucky, our house is on high enough ground that we haven't had any flooding in our general proximity and every day has patches of glorious sunshine. I'm not complaining. And since this is abnormally bad weather, I haven't felt the pang of mover's remorse.

Saturday was dry and lovely and a perfect evening to step out for some Salsa. Thanks to PDX Woman I had the good fortune to find Aztec Willies.

You'll have to excuse the crappy photo, we brought the camera, but no memory card, so this was taken with a camera phone.

I decided to take the lesson to warm myself up, and then dance until Leo is ready to pass out. There was a live band, and the place was absolutely packed. I had a grand time. We finished the evening with some tacos and went to bed so we could wake up early and bring Panda to the beach.

See all the pictures from the beach, after the jump.

Continue reading "The tide is high but I'm holding on" »

December 4, 2006

PDX again

So I didn't get to go to San Francisco this weekend. It's sad, but Leo and I were not going to let the weekend go to waste. On Friday, we met up with the bi-weekly Restaurant Roulette group to try an Ethiopian restaurant named Queen of Sheba. The food was delicious, the atmosphere; not so much. But, if you forgo any drinks, you can eat for about $10 a person and be pretty full. It's communal finger food, so bring someone whose cooties you don't mind getting or already have.

After a long week of working, Leo and I didn't make it out after dinner. We headed home and hit the sack. I've started a new book *sigh,* it is wonderful. If you are one of the 3 people who hasn't read it yet, pick it up. I'm supplementing this with some nonfiction, or a reasonable facsimile. With topics like String Theory and Quantum Mechanics, we move into the realm of scientific philosophy, which may or may not be classified as nonfiction. Feel free to let loose with your own thoughts on the topic.

On Saturday, we hit our favorite little hippy bar for some live music, good munchies and a pint.

Someone offered to take our picture for us and told me to do something silly.
So I did.

But lest you think I'm a face licking freak, I do have proof of my better behavior, or as itty bitty Marnie would have said "I am being ha(i)ve!"

But let me tell you, for all the excitement of coming home to see the ones I love, I'm embarrassed to admit how exceedingly excited I was to get this.

That's right, it's a WooLee Winder, in the flesh...er...timber.

There was a slow start with my new toy. You see, the WooLee Winder works by way of a pair of gears; one on the bobbin and the other on the flyer. The two must engage in order to wind the yarn onto the bobbin. The whorls I have for El Matchador, appear to be hand machined and while they fit just fine for the purposes of general spinning, they leave a bit of a gap between the bobbin and whorl that causes the gears to barely touch and producing a noticable off balance load onto the bobbin. It's also distractingly loud. This is not a fault with the WooLee Winder. The gap was present on my old flyer as well. It looks a little something like this:


You can actually see my first attempt at filling the void, as well. It’s your standard issue rubber band. OK, but not great.

After a few nearly near catastrophic attempts to make the whorl opening wide enough to properly fit the flyer, I decided it was best I come at this from another angle. I'm not sure how many of you have read my two part series on stitch markers (if you are suffering from insomnia, this may be just the ticket!) but I've found yet another use for some of my most favorite stitch markers.

With three of my black rubber stitch markers, the whole system works like a dream. I have to apply a lot more tension with the break to get the bobbin to take up any yarn, but it sure beats trying to re-machine my whorls with a screwdriver and hammer. SHHHH! I know it was a bad idea, just be glad I’m not showing a broken whorl in this post.


I've been spinning some of my beautiful silk/merino blend that I picked up at Stitches West. The overall color is a soft sage green but spun very fine, the other colors really shine through.

The overall effect is still a soft green but more neutralized, with flecks of red and yellow glimmering through. It's hard to get a really great picture of the yarn that shows the color, but it's lovely indeed.

I haven't had a lot of luck working with these types of vertical color blends in the past, it always seemed like the color changed too abruptly and never looked quite right. But I think I've found a technique that normalizes the results a bit. Basically I use a fairly wide strip of roving, maybe 1/2 or 1/3 the total diameter of the roving as it comes. Then, I work the fibers into yarn by splaying them slightly and allowing the drafting zone to move right to left across the unspun roving. Does that make any sense? Perhaps I'll need to enlist my sweet Leo to help me take pictures when I'm back in Portland.

I think I'll still see some color variance from length to length of the yarn, but less so than if I had worked the fiber as I normally do — from a pencil sized diameter of roving — which would have given far more variance from section to section.

Ok, this is about as rambling and disjointed as any post I've made in recent history, so I'll sign off for now.

December 16, 2006

Getting a little work done

No, I didn't augment my T&A (heaven knows the "A" doesn't need any help), no I got a little work done on my tattoo.

Some of you might remember that Leo got a tattoo recently. Well, my little tattoo was several years old and in need of a 30000 mile tune up, so we headed back to Lady Luck for a fun filled night of needles and blood.

I've always liked my little tattoo, which I designed to be something with absolutely no emotional, symbolic or in any way special meaning to me. Thinking back to what was meaningful to me at, say, 15, I'm certainly glad I didn't put Edgar Allen Poe or The Vampire Lestat on my body. What's important to me now may have little meaning to me in another 15 years. So to be sure I'd not suffer "buyer's remorse" in the ensuing year, I decided on something I thought would be pretty, and placed it in a spot that I didn't have to look at every day. The combo of the two has held up well for me so far. A little fresh coat of paint ups the joy even more.

The artist who worked on both Leo's and my tattoo is Jea'nine.

She reworked my tattoo for over an hour.

Did I mention I didn't need any augmentation in the "A" department?

When the work was done, and the entire staff had popped by to look at my tush finished tattoo, the results were more beautiful than I could have hoped.

She cleaned up all the fuzziness and really emphasized the gradation in the wings. It was even better than I could have hoped. I'm sure in time, it will fade a bit and soften, but at least I know I always have a reliable place to go to get her back to her former beauty. I love it.

She bandaged me up and sent me home with my care instructions. Luckily, I never sleep on my back so it was a restful evening.

The next morning I had a little rinse and a touch of A&D Lotion, and one more photo shoot, slightly less bloodied and red.

So if you are in the Portland area and looking to get inked or pierced, I can recommend Lady Luck highly. I've already started some sketches for what I'd like to do next.


December 24, 2006

Best looking beach bunnies

Both Leo and I have a 4 day weekend so we decided we would take the little poopers to the beach, come hell and especially come high water. She really digs that. We bundled up on the first relatively dry day, and packed into the car.

Cannon Beach has really been our beach of choice if only because it's the closest one for us to go to. So a lot of these pictures will give the regular reader of this blog, a vague sense of déjà vu all over again once more...again.

It was a brisk day with a light breeze and nary a drop of rain. Perfect weather for a game of doggy tennis.*

All the fun was set against a gorgeous foggy backdrop.

But Panda is a bright girl and she knows a dog cannot live on tennis alone.

Bring on the SQUIRREL!

I got it in my head that we really needed a "family" photo for once, so I propped up the camera and set the timer.

Attempt number two was foiled by a bad case of "shake the squirrel."

Maybe today wasn't the day for a family photo.

Back in the car, just out of the beach parking, we saw a field of bunnies. I all but leaped from the moving vehicle and ordered Leo and Panda to find a place to park for a moment.

The bunnies, they are very cute. I crouched down and tried to get a good photo, when suddenly, one began bounding full speed ahead at me.

Being the entirely sane and not-at-all-girly person that I am, my initial reaction was "OH GOD! I'm about to be attacked by a charging WILD ANIMAL!" I stepped back. And then reality tapped me gently on the shoulder and mentioned that it was a bunny rabbit, nearly domesticated, and probably unlikely to prevail in hand to hand combat.

Having regained my momentary lack of composure, I was able to get some rather fetching, if I do say so myself, photos of the little chap.

Ahhh, all weekends should be 4-days long and full of such joy. Here's hoping all of you are having just as much, or more fun.

*Doggy tennis involves two people standing relatively far apart and each calling said doggy, in turn, so that she must run back and forth until she tires her cute little butt out a little.

January 1, 2007

Panda happy new year

Those of you who have been visiting my site for a while may recall that Leo only celebrates holidays that involve lots of fun having and which are, basically, secular. This means that Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year's top the list, with a nod to Valentine's day and, of course, a month for my Birthday. However, that last one is more mandated by the relationship than anything.

Since the plan was to have a rocking good time, I made sure that Panda got a nice long walk during the day.

Does anyone notice that besides the lovely view and adorable dog, there is also a new FO in this picture? A few of you have asked for the stitch pattern, but I plan to do you one better and post the whole hat pattern soon. The stitch is from one of the Barbara Walker books, but I'll have to dig back through to get the exact name. More on all that to come, in the future.

So back to the evening's events. Having moved to Portland, late in the year, we were a bit behind the eight ball in coming up with plans. We really didn't know where we'd wanted to go, because we hadn't really been anywhere and once we decided where we might like to go, all the options appeared to be filled up. Thus ensued a mad romp about the internet in search of options.

Leo found this posting online.

Tango lessons, a 5 course meal and Cirque Du Soleil style acrobatics; it all sounded like a perfect evening.

Well, it wasn't quite what we expected. The reservation secured us a spot at one of the wedding/prom style communal tables for 8 and a chance to visit the buffet and purchase wine by the glass from the bar. While the performers were excellent, much of it happened closer to terra ferma than we expected, so we missed a great deal of it. It wasn't a bad evening, but we still felt it was pretty oversold in the flier.

Oh and there may have been the slight issue in determining where the event was held. The picture above tells you all about the event, but not where it is. Combing their site, I managed to determine where they were performing on December 31st, which just happened to be 37 blocks from the event we had tickets for and lucky us, having taken public transportation in to the city, we found ourselves in a mini-predicament. All that got sorted out with an inexpensive cab ride, though it did put us pretty far from any means of getting home again. Oh, and we'd been warned that starting at about 9PM it would be about a 2-3 hour wait for a cab if we needed it, so if we wanted to take a cab back to the train, we were probably out of luck. Ooops.

Once seated, Leo took to procuring wine and I met our new friends.

That adorable couple would be Erica and Larry. It's a good thing they are gregarious because I am one of those shy folks who probably wouldn't have said a word if they hadn't been so outgoing. That would have been my loss because they are delightful dinner companions.

Most of the evening's performances were set to tango-like music.

Though, I swear, one piece was done to an instrumental version of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters."

After dinner, there was a tango lesson. I did manage to guilt Leo into a few minutes of dancing with me. But when he lost interest, I began my rounds as the dance floor floozy; dancing with both dance instructors, some old Russian man named Alex, whose wife was getting pointers from one of the instructors, and finally a last dance with Larry, who had taken pity on me and my dance addiction. But I can stop any time. I can.

While watching some more floor shows, we heard a rushed "Four...Three...Two...ONE!" and realized it was now officially 2007 in our time zone.

A big wet smooch and hug and then we bid 2006 a fond farewell.

At this point, we began scheming about our plans to get home. Do we see if we can catch a bus back downtown? Do we even know which direction downtown is? Can we walk to a train station? None of that was necessary, instead, Larry and Erica invited us to join them for wine at their place and we jumped at the chance. They'd been so much fun to talk to AND they'd get us close to public transportation and cabs. What good fortune for us.

They have the most lovely and immaculate place in the Pearl. Did I mention is was also impeccably clean? Dear lord! I can understand having your place in order when you plan to invite folks over, but who the hell has their house that perfect just for normal every day living? Damn them!

We kept them up for another few hours, Erica and I talking fondly of road trips and pets, the guys discussing, who-knows-what.

At nearly 3AM, we decided we'd imposed ourselves long enough and began our voyage back to little Panda and the warmth of our home sweet home. But I don't think that's the last we'll see of them.

It may not be what we expected but it was a great way to start the year.

January 10, 2007

We interupt this regularly scheduled lunch break to bring you...WEATHER

How can you tell the recent transplant from LA to Oregon? She's the one, in her jammies, taking picture of precipitation. It's ridiculous, really, I grew up with this stuff but after 6 years of eternal sunshine, there is something a bit novel about it.

First thing this morning, Leo scraped the frozen snowy slush off his windshield, while Panda and I watched from the front window, remaining toasty and warm.

But it was NOTHING compared to the 30 minutes of frozen rainy, hail stuff that we just got.

Panda is annoyed that I'm asking her to sit for this picture when she could be romping and smelling said rain.



It looks like it would hurt, but it's really like little fluffy snowballs; very light and quick to melt.


And as soon as it started, it was done. The sun is beaming now and most of what came down has melted away.
This is winter I can live with.

January 16, 2007

Haystack Rock

We've driven to Cannon Beach on several occasions in the past, but have always entered on the northern side at Ecola Park.

Here's a little Google Map satellite view of our normal route. The water line has been really high lately so there's normally not this much sand, but you get the idea.

Sunday, we went this route in hopes of finally getting to see that rock we're always taking pictures of.

Well, the day could not have been more beautiful and we have the pictures to prove it.

See them all here.

And if you want a little laugh, check out Panda's diversion, en route to the beach, after the bump.

Continue reading "Haystack Rock" »

February 7, 2007

Another great day at the beach

You may all be getting sick of Cannon Beach pictures, but we never get sick of going, and, of course, it's Panda's most favorite place, being so full of water, sand and fetch. What's so great is that the beach is clean, there are hardly any crowds and there seems to be minimal rip current to pull our cutie pup under the waves.

We are continuing our quest south down the beach, this time starting from haystack rock. You can see all the pictures from the beach, by going to this page.

Beach going is one part sight seeing to two parts fetch.

A stick carved by some sort of wood loving creepy crawly.



Fetch!


The mist rising up around Haystack rock. This time the tide was too high to reach the rock without aid of some sort of kayak or large burly man to carry you.



Fetch!


Seagulls walking along the beach.



Fetch and resting with the squirrel until someone throws it again.

It's all very tiring yet satisfying work, as I'm sure you can imagine. However, there are risks. Getting to this tree stump was far easier than getting away.


There was no water near that thing when he climbed up. We weren't sure if he'd make it home or if we'd just have to leave him there.
He planned, though, since he had the car keys, we decided to wait out the flood.

April 2, 2007

Lacking the requisite fear for survival

Well, it was another truly lovely weekend here in Portland. At some point, am I supposed to stop liking this place? It hasn't happened yet. There just always seems to be something fun to do

On Friday,we celebrated Larry and Erica's 1st wedding anniversary. Their 12th (going steady?) anniversary is in May. This means that I must joke that they are newlyweds all night, because that never gets old.

When Leo and I arrived at the restaurant, Erica and Larry were well into their celebration. We agreed that all of us (except Erica) would have some super hot oyster shooters. Yum but with a long and painful burn. Leo, he of little forethought, ordered two for himself and realized the second would only add to his current level of pain.

On Sunday, we went back to Cannon Beach to give Panda some much needed running around. We go for walks during the week, but nothing takes the place of running around the beach for a few hours. This is also when we get to the part of the story where I explain the title, but before we go there, I must show the obligatory scenic shots. To save load time on the home page, all the pictures are in the extended entry, after the jump.

Continue reading "Lacking the requisite fear for survival" »

April 11, 2007

Water a-fallin'

Leo, Panda and I went on an amazing hike and beautiful drive, this past Saturday. Our original intention was to go to Mt Hood and enjoy its splendor, but we got sidetracked and by sidetracked I mean that Leo didn't believe the maps, GPS, or various signs on the road, that Mt Hood was that-a-way, not this-a-way. But who cares, where we ended was more beautiful than I could have hoped.

It was rainy and cloudy, but hardly a drop fell while we hiked and no one, not even Miss Pukey Pants herself, got sick in the car. In my book, that's a winner of a day, all around.

Want to see a bunch of the pictures (not all, I took nearly 200)? If so, just clicky right here.

May 15, 2007

Konichiwa Crochet

I'm almost always a guest, never a host. Our home is small and lacking in furniture and it's not just anyone I'd subject to a single small (very small) bathroom shared between three adults. But when Julia said she'd be in town for work, I vacuumed up the dog hair and gave the tub an extra scrub. We had us a guest in town!

Recently, Julia has decided to learn crochet in earnest and her enthusiasm is infectious. On a recommendation we found our way to a huge Japanese market replete with...wait for it...a Japanese BOOK STORE. Great googily moogily! Their selection of crochet books was small but packed full of goodness.

There may have also been some shopping at a couple LYSs and the opportunity to meet a really great blogger and designer. Have yarn, will craft, and there was no dearth of that. In the 3 days that Julia and I spent together, not a single solitary picture was taken until the third and final day. Luckily for you, it was the most photogenic day of the lot.

Early that day, we packed the car up for a trip to Horsetail falls. If you read my non-crafty posts, you may remember our last visit, not too long ago.

The day was perfect for hiking. It was a little cool, but not so much as to require substantial outerwear. The sun was out but shaded by some light and poofy clouds. Didn't we agree they were Stradivarius clouds or were they igneous, Julia?

Leo was doggy wrangler for the day. It's no small feat to keep two dogs from intertwining on leash especially when one of them is just a pup. They were each other's yin and yang. Panda would duck every time someone would try to pet her. She wanted nothing more than solitude from everyone she didn't know. Thea, on the other hand, wanted to jump all over every person and dog we passed (and there were many people celebrating Mother's day by hiking on these beautiful trails). Between these two extremes was our handsome hero, dragging one girl ahead and holding another back. Me thinks we have some more training to do.

On the drive home, I crocheted from my new Japanese crochet book. This little wonder is chock full of sweet motifs. While the book is all in Japanese, everything is charted which makes them delightful to use. The yarn? My lovely peachy Merino/viscose handspun, from Chameleon Colorworks. The viscose gives a subtle sheen and the brilliant dyeing gives depth to the simple colorway. When you see the yarn, it's clear the spinning is average, at best, but the fiber was so beautiful to start with that I can't help but be proud of the final product.

Blocked, the finished pieces look like snowflakes.
What am I going to do with them? Perhaps a doggy babushka.

Perhaps not.
I have more — what's the word — sane ideas. I don't have enough yardage to do a whole garment in this yarn (unless I want to go particularly scantily clad) but it could be paired with another handspun or store bought yarn in some creative way. All that is still in deliberation.

After our long hike and short ride home, I took a marathon nap and then arose with ample time to join Julia at Lake Park for a photo shoot. I'll leave those pictures for her to post. Instead, check out the fresh batch of ducky goodness from the same outing.

They can give me avian flu, any old day. I just want to scoop them up and snuggle them.

And now, Julia is back at home with all her fur balls. And all that's left is the now deflated air mattress where she was set up. Thea payed homage to Miss Tuna in Julia's absence. I think that's Thea's way of saying she was glad to meet her.

It was a great weekend and I hope there will be more like it soon. And someday, we'll own a house with more than one bathroom and a proper spare bedroom. I'm dreamin' big, baby.

June 17, 2007

And then their boat got hit by lightening

My cousin, Allen, and his wife, Cora, have been living on their boat for, what, a year and a half, and chronicling their adventures on their blog. (Actually, they've been living on their boat for much longer, but they were docked in San Fransisco before.) They've traveled to Honduras, Panama and many ports of the US. Crazy stuff. Recently, their boat got hit by freakin' lighting. They are fine, the boat, not so much.

Personally, I'm equal parts in awe and perplexed by how they do it and how they don't end up killing each other in such tight quarters. Still, if they didn't do it, I wouldn't be able to read about it.

If you are up for some fun and hilarious reading, head on over and drop them a comment.

July 2, 2007

September Glow

Well, El Matchador has been purring like a kitten and helped me produce another little skein of delicious yarn.

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Specs

  • Fiber: 90% Cotswold / 10% Silk (the white bits)
  • From: Nistock Farms.
  • Color: September Glow: Shades of gingerbread cookies with orange and raspberry sorbet.
  • WPI: About 20. It's a little inconsistent, leaning mostly a bit lighter, though some areas are a little thicker. The silk also tends to form nubs.
  • Length: Over 225 yards.
  • Spun on: Schacht Matchless wheel (El Matchador to you)
  • Plies: 2, plied off of two bobbins until one ran out, then switched to Andean plying to avoid waste.
  • Impressions: I just love spinning this fiber. The batts are well prepared with only the smallest amounts of vegetable matter. The fiber is not too slippery, and has a lovely sheen. It's not really next to the skin soft, but it's not all that rough either. The colors are divine. I'm looking forward to spinning up more.

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For the first time, I have washed but not weighted my yarn. This skein did get a rather good beating against the pole, but otherwise, she is unmanipulated. Apparently, there are two rather strong camps on this topic. Some people are weighers and some are not. I imagine there are good reasons for both. If I had to guess as to why you shouldn't weigh, it would be that weighing might give a false sense of balance that would then be undone the next wash the yarn (probably in knit or crochet form) went through. But that's just a guess. What do you all have to say? Anyway, after soaking in some warm water and Eucalan, and a couple thwacks before it dries, the yarn seems pretty darn balanced.

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Recently June posted about Spinning Spider Jenny. If you haven't found her, and you are a spinner, go find her now. She's a wealth of information. Jenny happened to post about her method of 2-plying. Alas, I didn't read it until mere hours after I had completed my yarn, but next time I'm definitely going to try this method. It seems rather like common sense but it's sheer brilliance to me.

In entirely unrelated news, we found another great hiking site for the girls, and this is only 5 minutes from home!

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There's a lovely place called MacLeay Park (I like to think it's a typo and should actually end in an "n" instead of "y.") in Portland that feels like its 100 miles from the closest city.

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It was a gorgeous day, though perhaps a bit hotter than we are all used to. Thank goodness we've evolved so as not to be covered in hair. How do dogs do it? It's funny, though, both girls showed some unexpected personality changes that day.

Thea, our normally fearless (seriously) hero, decided that wooden bridges were the scariest thing EVER.
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With a little coaxing and encouragement, she got a bit better, a good thing, because we crossed a good many of them, but she definitely wasn't loving them. Each time we'd reach one, she'd pull on the emergency break, I'd run across the bridge and call her and she'd muster up her courage and then bolt across. Silly monkey.


And Ms. Panda, our normally indifferent and withdrawn wallflower, suddenly decided she needed to keep an eye on Thea and defend her against dominant (not aggressive, dominant) dogs.
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She was fine with this little ball of happiness, but Panda tried to get a little b*tchy with some other bigger dogs. That's definitely something we're going to have to work on. We definitely don't want a dog that's going to be picking fights. That's no fun.

But don't let those two issues lead you to believe we didn't have a great time. It was gorgeous. You can see all of the photos from the hike here.

August 27, 2007

A sort of anniversary

A year ago today, Julia and I were in the redwoods on our way from LA to Portland, Oregon.
I had just spent a month away from Panda and Leo, who'd moved up to Portland to start his new job.

After a couple weeks at Julia's house, and much planning we hit the road for our scenic and spinny adventure. There is no event quite like a road trip to get one past the "close acquaintance" stage right to friend. It's hard not to bust out laughing as we regale ourselves and anyone else who will listen, with stories from our adventures.

I'll forever hold a warm space in my heart for the Ravenwood, even though there was no running water when we awoke.

And I still remember the gorgeous fog over the ocean, surrounded by redwoods. Who wouldn't bust out into full dorkatude?

We nearly skipped Crater Lake, after some set backs and delays, but we made it and it's as breathtaking as everyone says it is.

And best of all, I have been able to live in beautiful Portland, Oregon. I love it up here, though I miss all my friends in LA. Julia makes for a great road trip companion and I would do it again in a heartbeat.


I've been doing a bit more than my usual reading and all of it has been good, so I thought I'd share my recommendations.

On the nightstand


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Actually, that's not the current cover for SI. The current one covers AIDS deniers. The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a real hoot and sure to offend almost anyone. I'm glad to call myself a Pastafarian, rAmen! Guards Guards is currently my top reading to keep me from reading too much of what I'm...

...Savoring


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Need I say more? I don't want it to end.

Recently finished


sciencegoodevil.jpg middlesex.jpg skeptic.jpg


I really love Michael Shermer's books and articles and The Science of Good and Evil is no exception. He's also the publisher of Skeptic, to which I subscribe.
My mother lent me Middlesex and it was indeed funny, touching, thoughtful and moving. I generally shy away from books that are highly publicized and I'm not a fan of all of Oprah's suggestions, (yes, I'm one of those wet blankets who isn't into the whole The Secret phenomenon.*) but this book is definitely worth a read.




* That is, I don't believe in a magical force that brings luck and money to people who really want it.
However there is evidence to suggest that people who believe they are lucky are more likely to do things like enter drawings and raffles or build their social and business network which can result in more fortunate outcomes.

September 3, 2007

Lovely long weekend

Leo and I have put this labor day weekend to good use, if I do say so myself. Since we are renting a house, it's always a struggle to decide how much time and money we should invest in beautification of our humble abode. It's a great little place, but after years of being rented, there's a lot that has gone neglected. This is not the loving little first home, it was originally built to be, but a way point in the lives of folks like Leo and me. Still, never one to shy away from a little hard work, Leo has decided we should get things tidied up, so on Saturday and Monday, we shoveled, we weeded, we hauled masses of toppled brick and we planted a little flower garden that we hope we'll stick around long enough to see bloom once, and only once, before buying our own home. But Sunday, we put aside our shovels and spades and seeds and bulbs and packed up our car for a trip to Manzanita Beach.

On the way, we listened to Harry Potter and I got in a little knitting.

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This skirt remains my one mindless piece of knitting, that I can plug away on when I don't want to have to worry about row counters and lace patterns and other distractions.

We were expecting some serious crowds at the beach, and places like Cannon Beach and Hug Point, were, indeed, crowded, but Manzanita proved to be an ideal spot. While there were many people, we never felt crowded or cramped.

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The girls had a wonderful time and Thea is really starting to come into her own. Slowly, Thea is building her recall and we are able to keep her off leash for longer without incident. She's still so filled with social excitement that I wouldn't trust her implicitly, the way I do Panda, but she's proving to be a wonderful little girl.

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After a quick stop over at Blue Heron to pick up some provisions, we went back to Manzanita and set up camp. We are currently conducting reconnaissance in preparation for a bigger excursion with our friends; Erica and Larry and Jackie and her pup Tulip.

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Leo is in charge of setting up the fire.

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I am in charge of proving that pups will do almost anything for salami.

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Thea was a little scared of the fire at first. Can you see her hiding behind the log?

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But she came around after a little while.

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We attempted to take a family portrait, by way of self timer.

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Twas not so successful.

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And as the sun set and the air got a little cooler, my ample tush proved excellent insulation for the not-so-little one.

See more pictures over at Flickr.

October 24, 2007

Various and sundry topics

Lots more pictures of Giselle, including the cropped version, over here.

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See some beautifully retouched photos here.


Leo has been making jack-o-lanterns and I have been toasting the seeds.

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The pirate is getting a little long in the tooth, after a week outside. The orange one is new. It weighed almost 40lbs before being gutted. That's how much each of the pups weigh.


If the weather stays relatively mild, we'll be getting a lot more cosmos.

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The bees like em

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Is there anything sweeter?

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November 11, 2007

Snow

We drove to Mt. Hood today.

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It's hard to take a bad picture of such a beautiful mountain, but with the bright blue sky, it was all the more gorgeous.


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The girls were anxious to get to our destination.


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We went to Timberline and hiked up one of the trails. There wasn't that much snow so the skiing was sparse, but there were quite a few people hiking and sledding near the base of the trail.


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Panda mostly wanted to roll in the snow. The deeper the snow, the happier she was.


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Thea wanted to run around like a maniac and eat snow.

A truly fabulous outing.

See all the pictures here.

November 23, 2007

A totally traditional Thanksgiving

The other day, we went to the grocery store to get t-day supplies. The thing is, the meat section smelled liked an outhouse. We decided not to get a turkey there. We meant to get one elsewhere, but that didn't happen.

That's OK, because we didn't really think we'd be cooking on the holiday. Instead, we made plans to meet up with some of our friends for some fun on the beach with the pups.

The day was perfect. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and cool and without any wind. Lovely day. The only problem is that Panda was getting over a cold and Leo decided that we couldn't risk her getting worse.

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I can't believe I'm writing this, but Panda had to -- *sob* -- stay home. I still feel guilty.

Larry, Erica, Leo, Thea, and I, made our way to the Oregon coast. We started our day with breakfast. I, of course, had the Crabcakes Benny.

Then, we headed over to Seaside for a bit of fetch.

Larry threw the squirrel.

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Leo threw the squirrel.

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Erica threw the squirrel.

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Thea is a very happy pup. And heck, we're just happy that our friends want to entertain the little beast a bit.

Thea started to slow down some, until she met this beautiful dog, Cocoa.

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Much chasing ensued.


We headed up to Ecola State Park and saw an Elk along the way.

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She was just hanging out in someone's yard. Erica said the rest of the herd were on the other side of the road, but we didn't notice.


At Ecola, we enjoyed the scenery.

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I don't think it gets much more beautiful than this.

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I really do wish that Panda had been in this picture. I guess we'll just have to drag Larry and Erica out again for another romp on the beach.

Before we called it quits, we dropped by Manzanita, to ensure a thoroughly pooped pup.

We met the first dog ever who didn't fall madly in love with Thea.

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This little Italian Greyhound puppy sought the security of humans to save him from Thea. Don't you just want to scoop him up kiss his little cheek?

There are tons more pictures over here, if you want to see them.



After a little more play, we all headed home, with a quick stop for coffee and pie on the way. Once home, I cooked up some mashed potatoes and stuffing, to round out the day. Hey, I told you it was a totally traditional Thanksgiving.

Hope that wherever you are, you had as lovely a day as I did. Next time, though, I want Panda there too.

November 28, 2007

What I did with my long weekend

I know I'm a little late to be reporting about my weekend. But these pictures are making me happy right now and I want to share.

I finally finished the piece I've been knitting for Donna Druchunas' upcoming book. We were all asked to incorporate one of Dorothy Reade's lace patterns into an original design. I love this sort of challenge. I find I'm far more creative when I have some sort of rule or limitation.

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I wish I could show you the whole thing but this teaser will have to do for now. The yarn is Lorna's Laces, Lion and Lamb. And the wee buttons? Those are vintage. I just love old buttons. I've been slowly amassing (maybe more of an "asmattering") a little collection of vintage buttons.

Completing this piece basically frees me of all deadline knitting. There is actually one other small item I need to knit but it's, as I said, small and I expect it to be rather fun, too.

I do have a substantial amount of pattern writing to do now, though. It's never as much fun as the designing and knitting but I guess it's what they pay me for, right?


On Saturday, Leo and I walked around downtown Portland a bit. We live about 10 minutes from downtown, but for the sake of our savings accounts, we don't go terribly often.

Obviously, most shops were a mob scene, this weekend, but we weren't terribly bothered by it. The air was crisp, there was no rain and very little wind. Just gorgeous.

I love how the sidewalks get stained by the fallen leaves.

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Hi, I'm the weird girl who photographs the sidewalk, how are you today?

When one stops staring at her toes, the stuff higher up looks pretty darn nice too.

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Check out THAT hottie.

December 17, 2007

A weekend of goodily goodness

Panda is today's Grown-Up Daily Pup.


*Sigh* I had so much fun this weekend that I'm all the more sad it's Monday. On Friday, Leo and I watched bad movies while I spun up my batt of sparkly BFL that I got from Amy back at the Fiber Frolic, in Maine.

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Photos never do sparkly things justice, so take my word for it, when I say it looks lovely without being garish, almost like it was lightly sprinkled with silver dust. I spun the singles up and then plied it into a 3-ply using the Navajo plying method. The photos are pre-wash and thwack. I have about 98 yards of approximately DK weight yarn. I will definitely work this into something, but what, I'm not sure.


On Saturday night, we celebrated a friend's birthday by going out for dinner and playing pool...very very poorly. If any of you watch the American version of The Office, it's like when Kelly and Pam played ping-pong. That certainly didn't take away from the fun.
Actually, it probably made it more fun. The best part is, I got to flip off a hummer.

Awesome.


If that weren't all good enough, on Sunday, we packed up the girls (who were feeling plenty stir crazy with all the rain we've gotten) and headed to Mt. Hood for a good hike in the snow.

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See all the pictures here.

December 26, 2007

Beautiful Christmas Day

Christmas day, we slept in late, then donned our winter wear for another trip to Mt Hood National Forest.

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Thea spent the whole ride there, looking out the back window. Whenever we'd stop, both girls would cry with excitement, hoping we'd be getting out and into the snow.

But our first stop wasn't for hiking, it was to put chains on the tires.

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Leo insisted he needed no help, so we stayed snuggly warm in the car while he worked his butt off.

We found a trail we hadn't been to before and began our hike. Leo and the girls went bounding off the trail for a little run and all found themselves hip deep in snow.

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Panda didn't seem to mind.

But Thea and Leo had a bit more struggle with it.

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Nope, he's not kneeling, he's nearly standing upright.

I don't think these other pictures need captions, except to say we had a most wonderful time.

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See lots more pictures here. Hope your Christmas was just as lovely.

January 2, 2008

Hello 2008

Have you all missed me? Well, you probably haven't quite noticed I was gone, but I have been. Last Friday, in the wee hours of the morning, we packed up the car, the dogs and plenty of provisions, and headed out for a road trip.

ROAD TRIP!

I decided it would be a bad idea to announce, for all the world to see, that our house would be vacated for 5 whole days. I would have loved to have blogged along the way, but wiser heads prevailed.

When I have the energy, I'll upload our photos and regale you with some stories. But, for now, I'm too tired to put it all together into something coherent. Until then, I'm sending warm new year's wishes to all of you. Here's hoping yours was even half as spectacular as ours.

January 4, 2008

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part I

IMG_0006.JPGIn the oh-so-wee hours of Friday morning, long before the sun was even thinking of rising, we packed our last few items into the car and headed towards the Oregon Coast. This would be Thea's first and Panda's longest road trip and we wondered how the two girls would fare. Both had been known to suffer from motion sickness and Thea still struggles with her house breaking. This could turn out to be a messy trip, indeed.

For the month preceding the trip, Leo and I plotted and schemed. We knew we wanted to spend New Year's Eve in San Francisco, and Leo had the week of Christmas, and the following Monday and Tuesday off. How best to use that time without breaking the bank? We decided to do a two day, scenic drive to San Francisco, 3 nights in the city and then the fastest drive home on Tuesday. For accommodations, while on the road, we'd rely on our ample supply of camping gear and our boxy little car, Stewie.

We arrived at the Oregon Dunes, just as the sun was rising, exactly as we had hoped.

 

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Of course, we let the girls out for a run.

The weather would be the best we'd see that day, overcast and a bit chilly, but not more than a mist of precipitation.

As we continued to work our way down the coast of Oregon, we found many lovely little spots to stop and take in the scenery.

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And whenever we could, we stopped to let the girls run around.

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As we crossed the border to California, we entered the first of several Redwood forests. Redwoods, if you aren't aware, are rather large trees, overall. This sign seemed redundant to us

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But who could ignore it?

Guess what we found at the end of the short trail?

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A big tree! No kidding.

As the sun set, we found ourselves in Eureka, California, which, incidentally, doesn't look anything like it does on that TV show. Much like my last road trip with Julia, we were between several redwood forests and we had to carefully weigh the benefits of making more time versus the disappointment of missing the beautiful sights. With Julia, though, our problem was that there were no open motels when we were ready to quit. With Leo, it's that none of the stops were just right.

Finally, after much poo-pooing we found a place that was just right. A sweet little RV campground with several festively decorated cabins.

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We rented an RV spot, and I took the girls for a walk while Leo struggled through torrential rain and pitch blackness to get the car set up for the evening. Thea has never pottied on a leash before and despite much coaxing and encouraging, she wasn't in a mind to start that night. For Leo's part, he was doing his best to avoid getting everything we owned soaked while attempting to set up the car for the night. Normally, in an Element, you can lay each front and back seat flat to produce two long single beds. We had an air mattress to lay over it and a doggy bed to put on the side. However, having over packed and with too much rain to leave much outside, only the back seats could lie flat, which meant Leo had to place the air mattress over much of our stuff. A little unlevel, but better than sleeping sitting up.

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With a passable sleeping arrangement in order, we threw in two wet dogs and a few blankets, and were in business. Yah, try to contain your envy. As we dug out some snacks and put a DVD into the laptop, something happened and we heard a hiss.

I think you know what's coming. We popped a hole in the air mattress. Thea's crate, in it's broken down mode, had some sharp little points, which, having done their business with the mattress, were now digging into our legs. This was an unexpected turn of events. We figured we would simply have to face the long night ahead, until we remembered that Leo is always prepared. Queue the MacGyver theme music.

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A few snips to a vinyl glove, some super glue and a minute's wait and we had a perfect fix.

As long as Thea managed to hold her bladder for the night, we just might get a half decent sleep.

Find out if we did, in the next installment.

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part 2

IMG_0038.JPGAfter making a very painful attempt to watch I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, we tucked everything away, and curled in for bed.

The rain was relentless, drumming on the roof without pause. And it was cold. Not frostbite cold, but definitely cold enough that we all huddled together. And who was the star of the huddle? Thea. Seriously, that girl should come in every camping survival kit. She didn't care how much I tossed and turned, all she wanted was to sleep curled up, like a cat, in the crook of my stomach and she was like my own little furnace. At one point, I woke up to her shivering and I tucked her in under the blankets with me.Cute little monkey.

We all woke up a little achy but totally rested and no one had an accident. Awesome. Heck, I'll take smelling a little of wet dog over the possible alternatives.

The sun was just peeking through the heavy cloud cover, as we arose. It was pretty spectacular watching the scenery unfold through Stewie's sunroof. I took the girls for a walk and, we even got an on-leash pottie. Will wonders never cease?

With the car packed, the sun up and the family rested, it was time for more scenic driving. According to our map, we were quite a bit more than halfway to our destination. Our goal that day was to continue following the ocean until we reached San Francisco, and then head straight to the hotel, unpack and get us some of the crab that Leo has been pining for.

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The rain had lightened a bit and left behind a thick shroud of fog. Dreamy.

We were peckish, but decided to hold off on lunch when we reach this sign.

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Ooh, a drive through tree. I've heard of this. Relieved of five of our dollars we made our way to the tree.

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Hmm

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Yah, we don't fit. This sign appears to have employed some artistic license.

Still cool tree.

Off we go to find the girls a place to run off some of their pent up energy.

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The great thing about bad weather is that we get the beaches nearly to ourselves. The girls, they were happy.

Slowly, the lack of blood sugar started to sink in, and I began to become, let's say, a bit touchy. I was ready to find some food. We were hoping for a nice sit down meal, nothing that comes from a drive-through. We passed several perfectly acceptable little cities and I grew increasingly, er, touchy, but Leo assured me that those exits simply wouldn't do. When I had nearly reached the point where I was considering lobbing his arm off and consuming that, we saw a sign for a "business district" for a town we had not heard of before. It seemed as good a place to turn as any, and so we wound our way into the quaint little city of Mendocino.

This place was perfect. Exactly what we wanted.

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We sat down at a cute hotel restaurant, ordered some soup and sandwiches, and a touch of coffee, and felt renewed. On the way to the restaurant, I had even seen a little LYS. Everything was 20% off so Leo and the girls went for a walk while I went for a little spend. I was surprisingly restrained, all things considered.

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Still, we assumed, very much on scheduled, we headed off for the last leg of our trip.As we cruised down the 101, we looked forward to the point when we'd meet up with Route 1 and get to the really beautiful sights.

Now, Leo and I have driven every inch of the 101 and 1 from Mexico to San Francisco. We are well aware of the fact that much of 1 winds snakelike through canyons, yet we had still convinced ourselves that the 800 miles down the 101 were a good means of estimating our last 200 miles on Route 1. We had visions of arriving in San Francisco, even before our 3PM check-in time. Awesome.

We soon found ourselves creeping carefully around the hairpin turns and soggy roads. The car seemed to sway, just tempting the girls to expel their full tummies. The sights? Oh, gorgeous.

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But the sun soon began its decent, and those foggy and twisty roads proved quite the white knuckle slalom towards what I simply KNEW was certain death. With 100 miles left to go, minimal visibility and top speeds of 30 mph, it began to feel like we'd never get our crab before the restaurant closed shop for the evening.

The girls never made a peep, never had an accident and remained absolutely angelic the whole time.

We did stop to give them a break

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But they seemed as ready to get to the hotel as we.

Finally, at nearly 8PM, we rolled into the hotel parking lot and began unloading and setting up. The girls just seemed happy to be on terra firma again and Leo and I were happy to get a shower and change of clothes.

We even made it in time to get some dinner. Fried artichoke hearts for me, and Leo, well, he got crabs, no cream required for this affliction.

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YUM. And did you notice a certain hat making a cameo?

A little live music at Joe's and then we went back to walk the girls and go to bed. Ahhhh, what a day.

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Can you stand some more? Another installment soon.

January 6, 2008

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part 3

Ahh, San Francisco. If we could pick any city in the US, in which to live, it'd probably be here. This is not to say that we don't love Portland, because we do, but there is just something about San Francisco.

We arrose relatively early on Sunday morning and decided to reward our good little girls with a walk in the park.

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We spent a couple hours frolicing in the park and the girls had a fantastic time. Even Panda let loose a little in her own reserved way. The folks in the park were just delightful too.

Once we'd exhausted the girls throuroughly, we dropped them off at the hotel, and went out for lunch. Guess what Leo wanted.

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There's only so much butter and garlic soaked, and fried food I can handle, so I opted for a salad instead.

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Mmm

Oh, and look who joined us for lunch

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It's good ol' COF. San Francisco is a great place for knitwear.

Being Sunday, we didn't have grand expectations for nightlife options, but it turned out that riiight down the street from where we were staying was a cute little bar called the Voodoo Lounge. We ordered a couple filthy martinis, and, to Leo's delight, we got to play some poker.

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We both lost. The big winner was the bartender.

After losing we headed back to the hotel, all of 100 feet away, and tucked into bed. The girls seemed glad to see us.

The next day, New Year's Eve, we decided to devote solely to relaxation and spending time with the pups.

It looked a lot like this, plus some walks and a quick breakfast at a neighboring cafe. There might also have been some knitting. More on that in a future post.

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When evening rolled around, we showered and got purdy. There was a moment of panic when I realized the shoes I brought to go with my dress were busted, and that we forgot to pack my wrap, and the nylons I had gotten came with a hole. Oy! Luckily, I'd brought a more casual, but still appropriate alternative outfit. Rolling with the punches, baby.

We made a reservation at a restaurant we had passed a bazillion times but never entered, called Bobo's. Turns out it's owned by the same folks who make his favorite crab AND they specialize in Leo's other favorite food, steak. I appologize to all my vegitarian friends out there, this may make you queezy, but for us, this meal was extrodinary.

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We started with iron skillet roasted muscles and some lobster soup, and followed it with a petite filet for me and a bone in filet for Leo and a crab. Great googily moogily, so good and so much food. We finished the meal with a cup of espresso and then popped back over to the hotel room to brush our teeth and give the girls a little taste.

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Happy New Year to THEM.

For the celebration, we headed over to Leo's favorite Cigar Bar for some live music, mojitos and, of course, a cigar. When midnight rolled in, we had a big smooch and a glass of bubbly. Perfect.

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But the night wasn't over. We made a quick walk to the waterfront to catch a few fireworks, caught a cable car, and then walked back to the hotel.

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And the walk back? Only the better part of about 4 miles...in heels.

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We were good, and kept the alcohol consumption minimal and ended the evening relatively early, so we could check out and start our drive back home the next morning. We took the 101, up to wine country, crossed over through Napa Valley to catch the 5 in Scramento, and made it home in 12 short (ha!) hours. I think we were all glad to be back home, even if we were pining for more crab.

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I can't wait to do it again.

January 14, 2008

Green cards and argyle hats

My dear Canadian friends got their green cards, last week, and threw a little party to celebrate. The other guests wore green in honor of the occasion and I brought some AmeriCone Dream ice cream. With knee slapping humor like that, here in the states, it's a wonder they didn't pack their lovely things and head back to the icy embrace of the Canadian snow. It was a small but rowdy festive group, and the hosts ensured there were plenty of libations.

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But I learned something very important about myself.
I
am
the
BLOCKUS QUEEN!
I admit, I may have let loose with a bit of language that was unbecoming a queen, but when one must bring the smack down, one must also bring the smack talk. I believe their is a theorem that covers this.


In other news, the Corn on the Nod hat is coming along nicely.

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I've completed the argyle section and now need to decide how long I want to make the hat before decreasing for the crown.

January 21, 2008

It's about time

I'm embarrassed to admit that we have not done a doggy outing since our New Year's Eve road trip. And weather has been quite rainy here which means we really haven't done much of anything outside. The girls? They were pretty stir crazy.

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We were long overdue for a run on Cannon Beach, but not before stopping at our favorite breakfast locale for some crabcakes benny. Mmmmm, tastes like heart disease. Some folks can't turn down sweets, I can't turn down hollandaise sauce.

Next to our booth was placed an interesting little item. What do you think?

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For the low low price of $195, American, you too can own this ceramic center piece. We decided to pass on it.

Once we were sated, Leo brought a little bit of bacon and eggs out to the girls while I settled the bill. We were off to haystack rock.

Because it was such a beautiful day, the beach was just teeming with happy people and lots of pups. The waves were churning and the squirrel was a-flying.

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Thea fell in love with Cocoa, a cutie with a penchant for, um, let's call it "asserting himself" upon her. This was her first time dealing with such a pushy pup, and we were pleased to see that she handled herself well; setting boundaries without holding any grudges.

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Cocoa and Thea played for a long time, and Panda begrudgingly allowed him to join in with fetch, though when he attempted to get too friendly with Panda, she didn't hesitate to put him in his place. He didn't try that again. I'm pretty sure he said something about a "party poopers."

Eventually, Cocoa's parents had to leave, but we continued to enjoy the gorgeous day.

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If you aren't going to be able to get to the beach every weekend, you gotta make the visits count.

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It was wonderful having sun after so many rainy weekends.

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When the girls were finally showing the merest hint of slowing down, Leo decided we should walk over to Haystack Rock and do a little tide-pooling

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The anemones were all vivid pinks and shocking greens, and if you looked really carefully, you could find a few starfish hiding under rocks.

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But all good things must come to an end, and as the clouds darkened the sky a bit and the temperature started to drop, we knew we'd have head home.

Our last sight, before leaving the coast was a few elk grazing lazily along the side of the highway.

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The girls slept the whole way.

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There was some knitting too. I'll post about that soon.

January 28, 2008

Snow shoes

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Leo got us snow shoes in hopes they'd help us keep up with the girls. You know what that means, right? It's time for another hike.

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We couldn't have picked a more challenging day to try out those snow shoes. The temperatures were just around the freezing mark, maybe a little bit warmer, so the snow was sticky, wet and great for such activities as snowball fights, snow men building and fort construction. Still, it produced the most unusual snow formations atop the trees. Check this out.

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Could that look any more like a bird's head?
For some reason, we found it exceedingly entertaining when Leo would risk his own safety and shake some of the smaller trees.

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And when I didn't properly catch the first dense block of compacted snow, hitting him on the head, he thought we should do it again.

And check this out.

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Panda and Thea walking right OVER Leo as he sticks his torso through a hole in this snow formation. Yes yes yes, we know that's not the most brilliant of plans, but it does make for a good picture.

We may have found it hard to hike this wet snow.

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However, the girls, as always, were in heaven.

It wasn't all laughs and good times. We've been up to the trails of Mt Hood a few times, and we've found that Oregonians are pretty welcoming of happy dogs. It's not unusual for playful pups to come careening around corners to play with our girls and vice versa. Unfortunately, this Saturday, we met the first person who did not share that puppy goodwill. Apparently, her dog was a little aggressive, so she had her dog on leash and when Thea went over to say hi, it caused the woman much consternation.

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An angry woman in red, mutters as she walks by Leo and Thea.

Leo grabbed Thea, to restrain her and as the woman walked by Leo, she let off with a string of colorful language, leaving no doubt about how she felt about me and my puppy parenting skills. I'm not saying I fault her, I can understand that she wants everyone to be in full control of their dogs at all times, it's just that we are used to people being a bit more lax with their pups. We decided to keep Thea on leash for a while, for good measure. That is, until this sweet lab came over to play.

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We let our little troublemaker off leash and she had herself a proper playful tussle. That's more like it.

We hiked a bit more and arrived at Twin Lakes, which is completely frozen over and covered in snow.

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It looks like such a barren wasteland, after hiking through the thick forest. I bet it's just gorgeous in the spring and summer.

We had ourselves a little lunch and played fetch with the girls' water bowl.

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Hiking back to the car was as much fun as hiking to the lake. It's hard work, slogging through the heavy snow, but we aren't the type to let that get the better of us. We just break out our thermos of hot chai and sit for a spell, when the mood suits us.

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Or lean back and watch the snow fall on our faces.

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In the end, the whole lot of us made it home exhausted, but happy.

While I'm still feeling the hike today, I can't wait to go back. Next time, I hope the snow's a little more powdery, but even if it isn't, this sort of workout beats the gym, any old day of the week.

See all the pictures here.

And since someone almost always asks, the harnesses that Panda and Thea are wearing, can be found here.

February 8, 2008

Better than getting a pony

My birthday is right around the corner (the 18th if you're curious) and, true to form, Leo presents me with a gift, the moment he decides what it is.There's no wrapping and waiting around these parts. Who cares though because I got an iTOUCH! Squeeeeeeeeee!


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I leave for a business trip, tomorrow, so I'm filling her up with music, podcasts, videos and photos. Yay for toys.



Thea just had her first agility course since November. I thought, for sure, she'd have forgotten everything, but she did great.

Well, when she wasn't on the course, she was still a big ol' floozy...

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This is her new BFF, Rio. I think they would have run off and gotten married, given half a chance. More than a few people felt they should go get a room.

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So, yah, Thea had fun, but check her out on the course. She was doing great considering she hadn't been in a class for months. That was a pretty easy course, but I was happy to see her doing so well. Go Thea!

February 18, 2008

Fantastic Birthday Weekend

What a great weekend. It was really wonderful of the US government to make my birthday a national holiday, this year.

My birthday, itself, isn't much to talk about, unless you think it's fascinating that our washing machine is oozing some sort of oil and we went to Home Depot and bought a replacement. Also, there was some grocery shopping. But Friday and Saturday were many shades of good times.

It started with my dear friends throwing me a birthday party. There was homemade chili and guacamole....oooooh guacamole. I could write poetry about that treat, but it couldn't compare to the delight itself. Why more food isn't accompanied by guacamole, is beyond me.

What was I talking about?

Oh and there was a giant chocolate cake. Oh boy. Yah, it was a good party.

As the fete was coming to a close, my friends mentioned that they were going to the beach the next day and invited us to join.

After conferring with Panda, it was unanimous

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We'd jump at the chance to go.

We arrived at the coast, a while before the rest of the crew, so we hiked and played a bit, in hopes the girls might be a bit more manageable, when the rest of the folks arrived.

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Panda is a super star!

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When our friends arrived, they were looking no worse for the wear, despite the fact that half of them were subjected to my amateur salsa lessons, the night before.

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Thea greeted the group, as she does best, cooter displayed for all to see.

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Larry and Thea had a little game of "catch me if you can."

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And then it was back to the business of walking around the beach.

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And walk we did. For hours, we explored tide pools and rocky outcropping, and, at one point, a local bakery.

We walked so much, we did this...

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We wore out a herding dog. Someone please alert the media.

Those Canadians are good.

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Also, apropos nothing, I decided to learn how to tat

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It was a little tough for me to get the technique to start, but now I'm finding it really enjoyable, and delightfully portable.

Anyway, see all the pictures of the beach trip here.

February 22, 2008

Accessorizing

I've been working on lots of little things lately. There's a bigger item on the needles too, but I haven't had the time or mental fortitude to tackle it recently.

Firstly, the handsome one has been subtly hinting that he needs more hats. And by subtle, I mean he's been saying, "I need more hats." Leo wears beanies almost every day, and his favorites are soft, wool-free, and in a neutral colorways.

Worked in Frog Tree Pima/Silk [85% pima cotton/15% silk] this little beanie bears a striking resemblance to the Carlsbad hat, only worked in a larger gauge.
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I need to get a shot of him actually wearing the hat. Right now, this dark, blurry shot of Leo (and the hat) watching me teach Madeline to salsa dance, is the best I can offer.

Hey, you celebrate your birthday, your way, I'll celebrate my birthday, my way!

And now that one hat is done, I've cast on another.

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Beanie number two will be worked in solid black (same yarn) and entirely in 2x2 ribbing. This will be a variant of the Pismo hat.

I think Leo will really enjoy wearing these hats, because the yarn is so soft, but the fibers aren't as easy care as some of the other hats I've made, so I'll probably be casting on at least one more design, in 100% cotton.

My friend, Julia, was asking if I put elastic into my cotton hats. I never have and the hats don't seam to be any worse for the wear. Some negative ease seems to be enough for the hats to keep their shape.

On the tatting front, I feel like I'm really getting a grasp of the basic. I'm certainly no expert, yet, but it's all starting to make more sense.

These are the two types of thread I've been using.
The green is standard Pearl (or "perle") Cotton. It's size 5 and seems to come in a huge selection of colors.

The white is Pearl Cotton in size 8, which comes in little balls and is available in a much more limited color range. The craft stores have white, black and ecru, while a local needlepoint store had those and some primary colors.

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The latter produces very delicate little lace pieces, while the former really shows off the texture of the tatted stitches. They almost look like little beads, to my eye.

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I worked on this while riding the local public transportation and was really appreciating how portable it was. I was even able to work on it while standing, which I find harder to do with my bigger knitted pieces.

Passing fancy? New passion? Who knows, but it's fun so far.

February 26, 2008

Inspir(al)ed

I'm just heading out to a meeting...in Chicago. My flight in last night was delayed a couple hours, but I made it here in one piece. If I can manage to walk across the street without falling on my arse, I'll consider it a successful trip.

Since I got in at the time I should have gone to bed and my meeting is mere minutes away, I don't have time for a proper post, so instead I'll tell you to march your bum on over to MJ's site and check out her new pattern. I've already made one for myself and I love it. It kept my head toasty warm last night, in this brutal Chicago weather.

February 29, 2008

Sun damage

About a year ago, I bought a sweater's worth of Elsbeth Lavold Cotton Patine. It was on sale at an LYS and it was so soft and squishy, I just couldn't pass it up.

Well, despite the fact that I've had it tucked away in a dark corner, in a bag, the yarn is showing definite signs of fading from exposure to sun. It's subtle enough, that I can't seem to capture it in photos, but when I try the garment on, I see obvious bands of fading at the start of each new ball of yarn I add. The effect is one of belly cellulite. I'm quite sure that this is not a look I want to go for.

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But, even though I noticed this a while ago, I didn't stop knitting it. In fact, I'm plowing along. Why? Because I have a really sweet mum. She's going to over dye my piece, when I'm done, to even out the coloring. She's been dying natural fibers, at home, and graciously agreed to throw turn my brown eyes garment, blue.

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I'm sort of giddy about it. I think that the end result will look even better than if my yarn had been perfect to start with.


I didn't have a chance in my earlier post, to put up a picture of my Inspir(al)ed hat, but now that I'm back home I can show you this picture of Inspir(al)ed, having a moment with Thea and me.

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It's good to have an assistant.


And finally, more tatting

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I'm back to using the size 8 pearl cotton (the finer stuff). I just love how delicate it looks, next to the size 5 cotton. I'm a painfully slow tatter. That image above shows several hours worth of work. But I have these visions of trimming projects in tatted lace and I get so excited, I just can't put the project down. By the way, thanks to each of you who sent me resources and suggestions. I've been trying to take it all in and I know I'll be coming back, again and again, to revisit your comments and links.

I may have ordered myself some more tatting goodies from an online resource. I've used this site for purse handles, and now it's becoming my go-to place for tatting supplies.

March 10, 2008

Paging Nurses Panda and Theano

Leo has been sick...icky sick, since Wednesday night. It seems like it may finally be passing, but for a while, he was in rough shape.

Luckily, I didn't have to tend to him alone.

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Panda monitored his vital signs.

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And Thea...

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She made sure Leo got plenty of sleep.

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If you haven't already, I suggest you get one of each for yourself, in case you get sick.

When they weren't tending to the sick, they helped me get a few shots of the cowl in progress.

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I actually knit about a skein's worth of cowl and hated what I did. I got a little too creative with it and it wasn't pretty. We are ripped back to this point.

March 16, 2008

Vrooooom vroom vroom, and other cool things

Right after Leo and I met, we both picked up cute little red Ducati bikes. Mine was a Monster named Lorenzo and Leo had a Super Sport named Buttercup. Unfortunately, for most of our time in LA, we had barely enough money for rent and other expenses, and eventually, the bikes had to be put in storage.

But Portland has been good to us and the cost of living is much lower, so we decided to revisit our bikes and decide how we wanted to handle them.

After much assessing and debating, and with a bit of a twinge in our heart, we decided to trade in the two smaller bikes for a bigger bike that would be good both for the long rides the two of us take together and the short commute Leo makes daily to work.

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Sexy, no?

It's a 2004 Ducati Multistrada 1000 DS with a mere 2000 miles on it.

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Once the rain passes, I think we'll be putting this baby to good use, but even the short rides we've done so far, have been fun.


But that's not all the fun I had this weekend. I also got to host a friend and a fetus for a few days. It wasn't nearly long enough to do all the stuff we wanted, but we fit a lot of fun in, nonetheless. We even got to Larissa and Martin's book signing over at Abundant Yarn.

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That store is yarn overload, and Larissa and Martin's book is fantastic.

And I got my book signed

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YAY.

March 24, 2008

Easter weekend

With the patine cowl finished, I am now fully immersed in an unbloggable project (or two). But I think I can still find some useful blog fodder. I have some plans to do some more Excel for pattern writing posts, if that's something you guys like. And if I make good progress on the piece, I'll probably be doing some serious swatching for another personal (that is, blogable) design.

In the mean time, I leave you with some beachy cuteness from this weekend. See all the pictures, over on Flickr

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Panda: "Do I want a cookie? What sort of question is that?"
Thea: "Happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy."


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A refreshing dip on a gorgeous day.


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Pogo dog.


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Thea looks uncharacteristically serious.


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The girls at a down-stay, waiting for Leo to throw the squirrel.


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Exhausted puppies snuggle up for the ride home.

April 9, 2008

File this under, "brilliant people I know"

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One of my friends recently started a site about the misuse of American tax dollars to bail out greedy banks and their CEOs.

Well, guess what, he is on NPR. They edited him down to a single sound bite, which is a bummer, but you can check out his site for tons more info.

Obviously, this is a sensitive issue, especially for people who may face losing their house, and those of us opposed to the bailout, certainly aren't happy about the predatory practices that some banks employed, to get unsuspecting consumers to sign up for unreasonable Adjustable Rate Mortgages. But housing prices certainly did get bloated and banks surely did get rich off these practices. There have to be better ways to deal with this problem than trying to maintain a formerly insane status quo.

I'll leave you with one last fun link and then we'll return to our regularly scheduled doggy pictures and general crafty goodness.

The Subprime Primer explained by stick figures.

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April 14, 2008

Day trip to Washington State

Sunday, we decided to head north on I-5, up to Washington state and pop over to the coast and see what we could find.

There was a bit of driving before we found a beach but our patience paid off.

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It had no name, but this was a beach you just drove onto. The dogs (and let's be honest, Leo) were drooling at the sight. We parked, and ran the girls to the shoreline for some fetch.

Thea nearly twists her own head off, playing tug.

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The girls lay on the cute, to get Leo to throw the squirrel.

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Then Leo chased Thea around while Panda played with her toy.

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Can you see our car in the distance?


We got back in the car and headed to Long Beach, WA, where we hoped to find some dinner. Dinner we found and it had it all; high prices, slow service, and abysmal food. After all was said and done, we'd spent more on two appetizers, two entrees and some iced tea, than we normally spend on a fancy dinner and a bottle of wine, and it was so bad we left hungry. But I'm not bitter.

After that we had to wash down the shame and disappointment with another romp on the beach. What do you know? You can drive onto this beach too. Is this a Washington thing?

The girls didn't care, they were just glad to be able to run around some more.

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And Panda had a proper shake-n-bake, leaving with her with a thick crispy crust. Don't worry, she managed to shed most of it before we got home and shook off the rest on the way into the house.

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For the rest of the way home, we listened to an audio book, and watched as the sun set and a the light sprinkle formed a most lovely rainbow.

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Not even a horrible and overpriced meal could ruin such a great day.

April 28, 2008

The leprechaun and the pot of gold at the end of the weekend

On Saturday we mowed the back lawn, and by "we" I mean Leo and by "back lawn" I mean an this...

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Um, yah, we're way overdue. And while the dandelions have a certain sweetness about them, I doubt our neighbors appreciated their contribution to their immaculate landscapes.

Thea loves it when Leo mows the lawn. The sound makes her all frisky and silly. Though she does miss the salad bar, when it's no longer so long and luxurious.

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After hours of backbreaking work, Thea was nowhere to be seen, but a wee little leprechaun had made her way into our yard.


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We thought it best to ply the lass with an appropriate libation.


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Panda is not so much a fan of the mowing. It didn't help that I was vacuuming inside. She was feeling pretty sad for herself.

To make it up to her and to get the green off the demon, we decided to go to the beach on Sunday.


Saturday had been gorgeous and sunshiny, while Sunday was a little more overcast with bits of rain, which was perfect, because the beaches were nearly empty.

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This picture feels like the opening to some sort of action/adventure movie.


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Thea, she's got crazy eyes.


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Panda finds her sister so exasperating, sometimes.


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Happiness is a romp in the water.


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And who can resist a sleepy dog face covered in sand?

May 23, 2008

More dogs, less knitting.

This, from my non-knitting friends.

I know, madness.

Still, I'm nothing if not accommodating.

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I ran these by a focus group (Leo) and apparently they went over a like a lead balloon. Since customer satisfaction is key here at Marnie, Speak! I thought I'd made a special LOLdog just for him.

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May 28, 2008

Oh brother

My brother, Matt, came to Portland this weekend, with his adorable girlfriend, Aileen.

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Their visit was a whirlwind of thrift stores and rummage sales and we saw very little of them but what we did see, was great fun.

Whilst M&A were off in distant towns, roller skating and buying This American Life paint by number kits, Leo and I were taking Thea for her first trip into downtown Portland to visit the Saturday Market (albeit, on Sunday.)

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And while we were there, I was craving a hot dog, slathered in mustard.

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Don't judge me.

Sunday, all the humans decided to see what sort of nightlife was available and Portland didn't let us down, though, admittedly, the crowds were much smaller than on a normal night out.

We had live Irish music, greasy eats and good beer, over at Kells

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After that, we decided to do a little dancing at Boxxes, the club across the street from M&A's hotel. For some reason, two women came into the club, walked to the bathrooms, stripped to their unmentionables, and walked back out to mingle. After a few minutes, they put their dresses back on.

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One wonders what necessity there was in going into the bathroom first.
There's also the general "why?" question that was running through my head.
But Leo and Matt didn't seem to mind.

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After shaking our bonbons a bit, we all headed off to our respective accommodations.

There's a lot we didn't get to do while Matt and Aileen were here, so hopefully they'll be back soon. I'll even forgive Aileen for not liking dogs, since she is so crafty (in the good way) and fun.

June 3, 2008

The weekend

We celebrated our friend, Todd's birthday.


Yay!

I haven't been bowling in years.


The girls had their own victory dances.


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Todd bowls and Tracy poses.


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If these scores were for golf, I would have been the winner.



During the party, I taught Tracy how to knit and showed Erica and Tracy how a spindle works. There are more pictures of both these activities, but I believe they are being held for blackmailing purposes of some sort. Little do these people know, I embarrass myself for hobby. No blackmail will work on me. HA!


Sunday, we did some grilling up a lot of yummies on our little outdoor fireplace doohicky thingy.

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The mushrooms and garlic were the best, but it was all pretty tasty.


Also, Thea is cute.

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June 9, 2008

Cheeky Monkey

Do you notice a trend here?

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See tons more pictures from our day trip to Manzanita, OR, here.

Oh and if you've ever wondered what it's like to hang out with the pups at the beach, you can check out this short video.

And I realize I really should have faded the music after the closing credit. Sorry for how jarringly the music stops at the end.

June 29, 2008

Coming Attractions

Yesterday was Julia's baby shower, where crafty women, from far and wide, came to rain gifts and well wishes on Julia and her li'l bun in the oven. It was so great to see my local friends and meet some amazing women I hadn't met before. Such a great day.

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Honestly, so many people were taking pictures that I didn't go to great lengths to get all the prime shots, but you can see what I took, over on Fickr.

But there are a couple of shots that I'd like to highlight, for totally selfish reasons.

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See those bad boys? Their name is Alsace Le Monstre and the patterns for each will be available soon.

Here's a more detailed shot that will appear in the pattern.

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In the mean time, I leave you with a little more sweetness

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Townes sleeping in Mary-Heather's gorgeous mobile from Kat's Baby Boho book.

And, my friend Chrissy's dog, Akasha, wearing a hand knit sweater.

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Yes, she is real, not a stuffed animal, and yes, yes, yes, she is ridiculously cute.

July 4, 2008

For some of us, it's a better day than it is for others

It's Independence Day, here in the states which Panda would probably call, "the worst freakin' day of the entire year, which sucks donkey balls and makes me want to pee myself." Or something along that line. With the holiday falling on a Friday, we can expect a weekend of fireworks and a truly miserable dog who is completely inconsolable. Well, the panchetta offered a brief (very brief,) distraction, but she was entirely uninterested in the peanut butter, which should tell you something. That whole "try to make something scary positive" tactic just doesn't work in this case.

Thea is fine, thanks for asking.

Leo, is on a weekend motor-pickle ride up near Fork, Washington, where he is doing reconnaissance for future camping trips with the rest of us. This left me to catching up on loads of knitting, pattern writing and some cleaning that are all sorely in need of my attention. In case you are wondering, it was my idea that he go solo, since I just wouldn't have the time to join him.

But, my friends Larry and Erica offered to make me homemade waffles for breakfast today, which is about as fantabulous an offer as I could envision. So, bright and early, after my first full night's sleep in, probably, 2 weeks, I took the train to the Pearl district to see them.

When they opened the door, they were wearing...

PANDA!
They are way too cute for their own good. And, no, they don't walk around town in matchy matchy get-ups, they donned them in unison for my benefit. **squee!**

Then Erica gave me gifts for the girls, from Canada, which Chewie (short for Chewbacca) promptly bonded with.


Chewie's just too cute to deny.

After that, Larry got down to BIZ-NIZ!


We're talking fresh farmer's market berries, waffle batter from scratch, crisp pepper bacon and a festive apron. YUM!

While enjoying warm fluffy waffles (is anyone else feeling hungry right now?) Erica mentioned a glass spinning wheel at the local craft museum, and I knew exactly what she was talking about.

So, of course, even though the museum was closed, we had to go walk by and get my classy mug in front of it, because I had no idea it was hanging out right in my little city.

Then I started hamming it up.

There's a far far less flattering picture (ok, maybe a few pictures) as well, and my friends are likely to chime in about the obvious omission here, but that is one of the great benefits to having full editorial control over the content of my site.

Anyway, it was a lovely little break from what is likely to be a pretty busy weekend for me, so yay for that.

July 6, 2008

One man, one bike, and a whole lot of rain

Leo's work gave everyone Thursday and Friday off for Independence Day. Since I didn't have such a luxuriously long weekend, we agreed that he and Leela should have their first road trip together, and I'd get some work done around the house, and keep the girls entertained. What I feel for my fiber arts, Leo feels for exploration and doing so on bike is all the more exhilarating.

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He brought the camera along and took some amazing shots, whenever he had a chance to park the bike. It was drizzly but nothing to keep him from enjoying the scenery.

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It's hard to believe all his stuff fit in two saddle bags and a little net on the back of the bike, but the man knows how to rough it in style.

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He says those yellow flowers were incredibly fragrant. I know nothing about flora but it sure looks pretty.

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Leo spent his second night near big foot. He's obviously a fan of fun fur.

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After a rainy night, Leo got everything packed up for a leisurely ride home.

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Unfortunately, the rain was unrelenting. By hour 6, of his drive home, he was starting to feel a little sorry for himself.

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Boy, was I glad I let him go solo.

Anyway, all in all, it was a pretty great trip and he scoped out a bunch of great spots for future camping events for the 4 of us. If you are curious, here's the approximately 600 mile drive he did.

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If you want to see all his pictures, you can see the Flickr set here.

July 13, 2008

It's hot, let's hit the beach.

It's been in the 90s which was toasty when we were acclimated to life in LA, but is downright miserable now that we've become accustomed to Portland weather. The beach seemed a perfect way to cool off a bit.

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Thea found her alternate universe self.

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The water was just filled with these little krill. They are hard to photograph but they were everywhere.


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Do I really need to say that it was a great day? We played for hours and went home exhausted but happy.


August 12, 2008

Your weekly dose of doggy goodness

Another weekend day trip to our beautiful Oregon coast.

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Someone gets a little excited when she smells the ocean

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Fetch + tug-o-war = doggy happiness

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We almost lost the squirrel to the briny deep.

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But Thea rescued it, she even stuck her entire face underwater.

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But Panda has her own bag of tricks. She always impresses.

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The birds were rustled.

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The views were delightful.

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And a good time was had by all.

See all the pictures here.

August 18, 2008

Better than AC

Our little rental house doesn't have AC, which, for the most part, is fine and dandy with me. I really don't care for the feel of AC and it's expensive to run, especially in this house. We have a window mounted unit that we've installed, as needed, but it tends to drip water into the house and ends up being more work than it's worth, so this year we've vowed to keep the thing in the garage if possible.

The past week, though, has been stupid hot. I mean, it's been so hot that my brain has just shut down by mid-day, which makes working from home laborious. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather roast in my own house than commute to downtown LA, any day of the week, and I like being able to keep an eye on the girls in this hot weather, but I can't say it was fun.

When Saturday's weather report said triple digit temps again (around 40 degrees C for the rest of the world), Leo didn't really have to twist our arms when he asked if we wanted to hit the beach.

So, while it might be poor blog form to do this two posts in ar ow, I've got you some more dog photos today. I promise, I'll have something crafty to show you, very soon.

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A first roll in the sand, after a first dip in the ocean. This is what happiness looks like.


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Leo and I switched off taking the girls to the water line. We brought all the amenities necessary to stay the day, which means one person had to hold down the fort, while the other wore the girls out.


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Leo mans home base. I'm returning from a brief errand.

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I didn't get that many action shots because I had to both throw the squirrel and take the pictures, but I got several of the girls just looking lovely against the shimmering water.


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It's all fun and games until your dog tries to french you.

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As you can plainly see, Leo is very popular with the girls.

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The girls basking in the glow of the setting sun.


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Leo has the pups work for a little treat.


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The sun sets a bit more.


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Family photo!


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A roaring fire kept us toasty after the sun had set.


See all the pictures here.

September 15, 2008

I'm on vacation

I refuse to call it a "stay-cation" or, as John Oliver put it, "holi-stay." But what I will say is that I have nothing planned (other than the improv class I'm taking with my friend, Erica, on Mondays) and I'm happy to keep it that way. Oh and there may be more pictures like the ones below, that I took on Saturday.

It was a perfect day; not too cool, not too warm, and absolutely sunshiny beautiful.

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The car went home a little heavier than it left. Panda brought the sand and Leo found the tire iron we'd lost a month before. I kid you not! We used it for leverage to screw the girls' leash stake into the ground, and we lost it when we were packing up in the dark. There it sat, a few feet from where we had been, just waiting for our return. I love Oregon.

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Kites.

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Lots of running and being generally cute.

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I tried to take a nice shot of the girls in front of the ocean.
First Thea won't look at the camera...

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Then Panda won't look at the camera...

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Then some women stop to take pictures, right behind the girls. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

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All the pictures here.

September 21, 2008

Nehalem Bay

Recently, I picked up Evelyn A. Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles. It's a lovely little book that gives you lots of tips for knitting, well, lace triangles. She gives four lace patterns and combines them in a myriad of ways, working them either in stockinette or garter, alone or in combination, with or without transitions.

Everything is so clear and simple, I just had to cast on. With some beautiful Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock that a dear friend sent me, recently, I quickly worked up a few repeats of the ripple lace motif. But after that, I knew I wanted to go my own direction. Heaven forfend I actually follow a pattern, huh?

On our way to the beach, I knit away on my little shawl.


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The colors of the yarn made me think of the autumn leaves just starting to show, on our route to the ocean. The ripples make me think of the sea lapping at the shore. As we passed by lovely little Nehalem Bay, I knew I had my shawl's name.

This morning, I moved my stitches onto longer cords and did a little steam block to see how it's looking.

nehalem-bay-progress

I just started my second of two skeins, after nearly finishing 2 repeats of the feathery leaf pattern. The piece blocks out to about 48" wide right now. After I add another repeat of the feathery leaf, and then the border, I think I'll have a shawl that's another 6 to 8" wide, which I feel will be a good size to work as either a scarf or a small wrap for date night with Leo.

As for the beach trip, you know that went great.

Mozaic of September 20th trip to Manzanita, Oregon

1. IMG_0064.JPG, 2. IMG_0054.JPG, 3. IMG_0006.JPG, 4. IMG_0015.JPG, 5. IMG_0030.JPG, 6. IMG_0031.JPG, 7. IMG_0057.JPG, 8. IMG_0061.JPG, 9. IMG_0093.JPG, 10. IMG_0105.JPG, 11. IMG_0097.JPG, 12. IMG_0110.JPG, 13. IMG_0114.JPG14. IMG_0097.JPG 15. IMG_0110.JPG 16. IMG_0114.JPG

See entire set here

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

We tried riding our bikes on the beach, but the sand was either too dry (thus too soft) or too wet (thus too soft) to ride on. We'll try again at lower tide, though, because bikes + beach = a darn good run for the girls.

September 29, 2008

Woohoo

Who knew people wanted to knit hot pants? You guys are awesome. In the 4 days the pattern has been up, it's been downloaded over 300 times, which I think is pretty fabby. A few folks have also made donation, which is generous and wonderful. Thank you so much.

This is part of my download stats page from Ravelry. If you are wondering why there are two Assets of Evo files it's because the first version had a missing hyperlink in the resource section. It wasn't important enough to make an announcement but I thought I'd update it nonetheless.


In doggy news, Leo found us a new little stretch of the Oregon Coast. As always, we hit Manzanita, which is great because it's beautiful, plenty of room to play and Thea gets to socialize. But after, Leo wound his way through some back roads and landed us at a secluded little stretch of where only one other person and her dog were playing. All in all, a great day out.

Beach trip

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Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

See all the pictures here:

October 7, 2008

A compelling reason to buy the pattern

I have a feeling that almost everyone who reads my blog, also reads Julia's, but if you haven't seen, this, you are missing out.

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Granted, the hat is knit for someone a little bit bigger than little Griffin is right now, but I still think he rocks it.

If you think that's cute, you can up the CQ (cuteness quotient) exponentially by adding some baby bell bottoms and some itty bitty toes.

Grif_Als03.jpg

I may not want kids for myself, but I sure love how they make knits look.

In unrelated news, blogging is probably going to be really sparse for the next week and a half. Leo has to make a last minute trip down to Uruguay for a family emergency. I've got my fingers crossed that things are less dire than they sound, but in the interim, I'll be basically cameraless and busy holding down the fort. Luckily, I'll have this great eyecandy at the top of the page, until blogging recommences.

October 19, 2008

Happiness is a run on the beach

It's been a tough couple weeks around these parts, with Leo having to rush off to Uruguay to be with his family. The whole routine is out of whack and the girls end up spending a lot more time alone. Unfortunately, Leo's dad passed away, after Leo returned home, and a bit of melancholy seems to permeate daily life, but it also makes us more conscious of all the good things we have.

After two weeks of obligations and stress, the perfect antidote was a trip to the beach.


The drive there revealed the first hints of autumn colors. I bet, in a week or two, the drive will be spectacular.

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This shot makes me laugh. Thea was being a wee bit over zealous, trying to grab the frisbee from Leo. He requested that she talk to the hand.

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Though, honestly, they really are good girls. Look at how focused they are.

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And Thea does a very cute hand shake.

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Panda isn't too shabby either.

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Leo, though, is incorrigible. As I tried to get a particular shot of Panda and Thea, Leo noticed a rather large wave coming at me. In the first shot, you can see him leaping up to avoid it. I, of course, was too focused on the girls to notice.

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The second shot is Leo laughing so hard he can't stand up, and the third shot is my now soaked tush. Hilarious.


Despite Leo's fit of laughter and my sloshy shoes, I managed to get a pretty cute shot of the three of them.

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After a lovely day, we wound our way home, stopping at a local farm for a stroll through the pumpkin patch. We'll be making jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin seeds today.

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How cute is this sweet old dog?

For all the pictures from the trip, click here.

October 22, 2008

Freudian stitch and other ramblings

I have been busy, and maybe a bit distracted lately, so while I have been meaning to blog more, it hasn't been happening.

I want to start by thanking all of your for your well wishes and condolences. I know I've been remiss in replying to people, individually, but just know, it's nothing personal, I'm rude to all people equally.

So, in the spirit of being completely random and a wee bit scatterbrained, here's a collection of largely unrelated things I've been meaning to blog about, but haven't.


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A swatch for a potential publication/self-publish/who knows project I've dreamed up. I can't decide if I love this stitch or if it looks like, um, a part of the female that is normally fully covered in mixed company. I am henceforth calling it the Freudian stitch. Please feel free to weight in.


Swatch1.jpg

Swatch of a publication piece for Spring. For the amount of ripping I've done on this piece, I could have knit 2 whole garments. I'm not frustrated, I'm just beating my head against the table for sport.


Leo and I carved pumpkins and I have determined that his is way more awesomer than mine. Go ahead, tell me I'm wrong.

Mine:

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Cute but derivative and pedestrian.

Leo's before carving

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Awesome

Leo's after carving

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Fantastic, no?


Lastly, I leave you with some freshly flipped-off hummers. I've flipped-off three in the past week, though for one, I had no camera. I'm pretty sure the driver did, indeed, see me and my s*** eating grin, which is just as satisfying as sharing photos with you. I'm a class act. Oh and my friend Erica even helped me. Hooray for partners in crime crass.

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Who on earth still thinks these things are status symbols?

October 30, 2008

Blog, I miss you. Here are more dogs at the beach.

If you knew how badly my housework were suffering, you wouldn't think this blog seemed nearly so neglected.

Luckily, what's keeping me busy is all interesting stuff. I'm doing some work for Twist Collective including a little behind the scenes stuff, which is challenging but satisfying. I'm, of course, designing some knits. I'm taking some improv classes with my friend, Erica. I'm even taking a few (non-improv) courses over at a local university. So, with all that going on, blogging has necessarily taken a back seat, to ensure those cutie patooties I live with, get a little time with me too.

I hope, for now, you'll be satisfied with a few more doggy pictures. They certainly make me smile.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

1. IMG_0265.JPG, 2. IMG_0207.JPG, 3. IMG_0283.JPG, 4. IMG_0029.JPG, 5. IMG_0178.JPG, 6. IMG_0136.JPG, 7. IMG_0241.JPG, 8. IMG_0130.JPG, 9. IMG_0148.JPG, 10. IMG_0171.JPG, 11. IMG_0053.JPG, 12. IMG_0119.JPG, 13. IMG_0164.JPG14. IMG_0053.JPG 15. IMG_0119.JPG 16. IMG_0164.JPG

Entire set found here.

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

November 1, 2008

A happy Halloween

Some years, we put a lot of thought into dressing up for Halloween and some years, we just wing it. This year was mostly the latter.

Leo went a little Clockwork Orange, thought without the fencing outfit.

halloween-1 halloween-2

I went standard issue goth.

It was a little deja vu, taking me back to my very late teens and early twenties, when I'd get all dressed for dancing at Man Ray in Boston.

For Leo, we did the eyelashes, around one eye.

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Then I rimmed both eyes with lots of black eyeliner and shadow. By the end, he and Thea were looking pretty matchy matchy

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The end result:

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Yah, he's pretty darn cute.

From there, we had some wine and coffee at Gilt.

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Then some dancing and general people watching at Embers.

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We tried to check out a few other clubs but the lines were so long that we settled on filling our tummies with a few munchies at the Living Room Theater, instead.

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A seriously fun night.

See all the pictures here.

Hope your Halloween was filled with lots of fun too.

November 8, 2008

The Ministry of Silly Walks

It's the rainy season here in Portland. Like all other weather, the girls consider it perfect for a trip to the ocean. Who are we to disagree? It was chilly, overcast, but with unexpected patches of blue clear sky.

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With such unpredictable weather we had almost the entire beach to ourselves.

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The tide was really high but shallow

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A little slice of heaven.

How does the most graceful and demure puppy respond? With grace of course. She appears wise:

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Holds her head high

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And she keeps all four feet planted firmly on the ground

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But Thea wasn't the only one expressing herself.

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Today topped out at about 54 F/12 C, not exactly bikini weather.

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Yah, that about covers it.

See all the pictures here.

November 30, 2008

Rainy, muddy and fantastic

This weekend, we made a long overdue trip to the beach. It was a little cold (thought not too cold) a little rainy (no one here minds the rain) and foggy like you wouldn't believe.

Check out these shots.

Manzanita Oregon
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That's the same stretch of beach we almost always go to. We would have spent all day there, but the rip current was pretty strong and Thea is not the most buoyant dog around. Visions of her being pulled into the briny deep made us uneasy.

We thought the day might be shot, after about a half hour, but we decided to do a little hiking to make the long drive worth the while.

Off we went to Ecola State Park, where we had nearly the whole trail to ourselves. The fog made the view look like a fantasy.

Trail to Indian Beach in Ecola State Park

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By comparison, this is how it looked the first time we went.

But I think there's a pretty good reason why we had the whole trail to ourselves. By the end of the hike, the four of us were coated in mud.

Getting muddy on the trail
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We learned that Panda would make every effort to go around giant puddles of mud, while Thea would aim for them. Either way, there was no keeping clean, but we definitely appreciated Panda's efforts to stay clean.

We had to put the girls in the car, however we decided that a dip in the ocean before we leave would be much preferred to a bath, when we got home. So we headed back to Seaside and played a wee bit of fetch.

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It was good to see their beautiful white coats again.

As we were clipping on everyone's leash, someone nearby said, "Did you see the elk?" and pointed to the hill ahead. I looked up and saw three little heads, just showing above the ledge. Leo had the the good sense to go put the dogs in the car, and I walked over to where a small crowd had formed, a safe distance from the herd.

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We've seen our share of elk at the coast, but never this many at once. Such a great way to end a fantastic ocean trip.

Our day wasn't over with the ocean, though. My sweet guy treated me to a delicious meal to celebrate our 8 year anniversary.

It was a great meal, beautiful view and, of course, perfect company. And for the toast, he said "Here's to 8 years, 8 years more and nothing more."
Of course, I refused to toast to that nonsense, so he said, ok, well, what if we lay the second 8 on its side?"

Cute.

There's a reason I keep him around.

It's a shame to have this lovely long weekend end, but it was great while it lasted.

December 15, 2008

It's not New Hampshire, and it's definitely not Los Angeles

This is my third winter in Portland. From what I can tell, winter is a lot of rain. We get an occasional bout of hail that leaves the yard looking like you just murdered a bean bag chair, and there might be a little flurry of flakes, but it rarely lasts long and almost never accumulates.

Well, this weekend, we got a little taste of some of the winter I remember from my childhood in New Hampshire. Of course, if I still lived there, I'd be holed up in a hotel until my power returned. This is way more my speed, for winter.

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Can you see the couple in the background, trying to build a snowman?

The girls get seven kinds of frisky when their paws touch snow. Panda loves to roll in it and Thea wants to eat it.

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These shots are from early in the day, so you can still see the grass peeking through, at the park. By nightfall, the roads were compressed into solid ice and there was about 5" of snow everywhere else. Anyone without chains on their tires were finding themselves struggling to stay on the roads.

I guess it's a testament to how rarely it snows here. I don't ever recall having chains on my car, in New Hampshire or Massachusetts. Roads are plowed and sand or salt are applied as needed. It took most of the night for that to happen around here.

Man alive, I love working from home.

Luckily, Leo's a real boyscout, and had his chains on before the sun set, yesterday, which means he just had to do a quick preflight check before leaving for work, and he was good to go.


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Thea oversaw the process.

December 21, 2008

Flaky

Wintery
1. Red berries covered in snow, 2. Bush in our back yard, 3. The last of our bachelor's buttons, 4. Pine needles

Ice makes everything look pretty, even our sad little bachelor's buttons.


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Leo, Thea and Panda all chase each other around the yard.


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Where there's dog, there's fetch.


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The roads aren't great for driving, but they are fine for walking.

As you can see, it's a winter wonderland here in Portland. It's great knitting weather but I have a feeling I'll start to be a little stir crazy by Christmas. You should hear the local news, we're all doooooooooooomed.

The girls couldn't be happier, though.

December 26, 2008

Let's not make this a Christmas tradition

On Christmas eve, we noticed a bit of swelling on the right side of Panda's face. It wasn't too bad, and she was in great spirits, so we didn't worry, but we kept an eye on it.

By Christmas day, she was very lopsided

Christmas 2008

Still, her mood was great, she was eating, playing, and generally feeling fine. We called off our plans to go hiking, just to be sure, and decided to closely monitor her for any signs that might suggest an emergency. We'd gladly eat the cost for an emergency vet visit on Christmas, but if we could avoid it and go to her normal vet, that was definitely preferable.

I consulted with a friend who works with dogs, and she assured me that it was something that could wait and an emergency visit wasn't necessary. It was a little nerve wracking but we kept a close eye on her all day.

Panda seemed happy enough that we walked to the neighboring park for a little play in the snow.

Christmas 2008 Mosaic
1. Leo and the girls, in front of his snowman, 2. Happy girls, running in the snow, 3. Thea goes all Exorcist with her head, 4. Rolling a big snow ball, 5. Tug-o-war, 6. Rolling the second snow ball, 7. Just added snow ball II, 8. Rubbing a sore face in the cool snow, 9. Refining his artwork, 10. Adding the final snow ball, 11. shaping the head, 12. Almost done, 13. Romp in the snow

Throughout the day, her swelling increased, until that evening when her cheek started draining. The pressure was off but by morning, Panda was a little less bright eyed and bushy tailed. The vet was able to see her first thing, so we packed up the girls and headed to the doctor.

Panda goes to the doctor
Little miss squishied face

After checking her out, the doctor decided that it was probably her cracked molar and that it had abscessed. He gave her some meds for the swelling, infection and pain, and we are scheduled for an extraction next week.

Panda goes to the doctor
Thea helps her big sis stay brave at the vet.

But we didn't let Thea off the hook, on this trip, while we were there, we had them expel some of her, *ahem* glands. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I will spare you. If you know what I'm talking about, you KNOW what I'm talking about. Apparently, she let out quite a little squeal of displeasure when the procedure was being performed. This is a new thing for us. Panda is far too proper and clean to ever have stinky gland problems. Somehow, it just seems appropriate that the little stinker would.

January 20, 2009

History and a hike

I know, these two things just don't have anything to do with each other, but I feel I have to mention how historic a day it is, while still giving a nod to my wonderful weekend.


Reuters Photo found via Boston.com

Watching the inauguration, today, I couldn't help but sob with the immensity of the day. Whatever your political leanings, there is no doubt that the swearing in of the first non-white president is an historic day for the US and I'm proud to be alive to experience it. Can the day be too far away when all these matters are as trivial as hair color? Should it matter what someone's gender, religion (or lack there of, thankyouverymuch,) sexual preference, or nationality is? Wouldn't it be grand to judge people on their, I dunno, credentials and a strong ethics? Crazy, I know. I'm going to go out back and hug a tree now.

Speaking of which (that's a segue, people,) we saw some grand trees this weekend on our hike to Falcon Cove.

Hike to Falcon's Crest
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Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

We hiked a total of about 4 miles after a bit of fetch on the beach, and we actually managed to tucker out the herding dogs which is no small feat. It was absolutely beautiful, a bit muddy and completely exhausting and I can't wait to do it again.

See all the pictures from our hike here.

February 8, 2009

Super pooper dogs

It'd been three weeks since our last ocean visit and the four of us were jonesing for some fresh salt air, sand and fetch.

Manzanita Oregon 02/07/09
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See all the pictures from this day here.
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

I don't think we could have asked for a nicer day. The sun was bright, the weather was mild and there were plenty of friendly dogs for Thea to play with.

February 22, 2009

So, one of us isn't shedding these days

And that one of us is Mr. Baldy McShavedhishead. The rest of us are still pretty hairy. Just thought I'd cover that before you see our pictures.

Manzanita Oregon 02/22/09

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Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

This was my birthday hike, and it was fantastic. I know, it's the same song every few weeks. What can I say, I'm a lucky girl.

Check out this bit of shell that Leo found.

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If you click it and choose "All Sizes" you can embiggen it. Doesn't it look knit?

April 13, 2009

Out of towners

My brother and his girlfriend came up from So Cal to visit. It was great to see them.

Matt and Aileen Visit

We took them to our favorite fancy pantsy sushi restaurant, then out for cocktails and some dancing.

Matt and Aileen Visit

In case you were wondering, Leo's still shaving his head.

Ooh and Matt brought along an awesome belated birthday present; a whole POUND of undyed soy silk fiber. That's just half of it, there.

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I plan to hand card it with some wool. I was playing around with it a little on my spindle and I really like the way the soft creamy color plays against the cool purple.

It's always nice to have a little spinning project when I'm also working on a knitting project, like, say, another super secret publication piece.

New project

What-o-what will it be?

By the way, my tech editor for La Cumparsita has been the awesome and we're already ahead of schedule so I'm hoping to have the final pattern available for sale in the next week or so.

April 21, 2009

Stuff that is making me happy.

I've got my nose buried in my latest project. The yarn was a little delayed so it's going to be tight, but so far, I'm really happy with how it's going.

So since that project is pretty much all I'm doing, all I can blog about are the other distractions in my life, like, say:

A delicious dinner at Albert Oysters with my guy. It was so good he ordered Oysters for dessert, and then, he ordered some proper dessert.

Alberta Oysters
1. Leo makes a face in front of the day's fresh oysters, 2. Two each of six types of fresh oysters, 3. The remnants of the dozen oysters, 4. Entrees, 5. A second round of oysters, 6. Closeup of the shells
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

And my brand new Twist Collective bag, which is made of pure awesome.

Twist Bag

Oh and my dogs, who are also made of awesome.

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Guess who wants a belly rub.

May 9, 2009

Loved by the sun

It was a nice dry weekend, after many months of wet weather which means we could no longer put off domesticating our somewhat feral back yard. See here's the thing, in most climates, your lawn requires a delicate touch. You cut the grass long enough to hold in the water it seems to eternally thirst for, and you gently tread across it, being careful not uproot it's slender blades.

Portland grass grows like Homer Simpson's scruff. Seconds after a you've cut it down to the dirt, it's already shaggy again. Leave it for a few *cough-months-couch* and you've got yourself a jungle.

Mowin' the Lawn
1. Overgrown Yard, 2. Dorkus maximus, 3. New Mower, 4. Crazy Thea, 5. Rude little scamp, 6. Thea in front of flowers, 7. What did you say?, 8. Can we come out NOW?, 9. Fetch on a freshly mowed lawn
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

But everyone deserves a break from manual labor and we took ours on our front steps, basking in the warm midday sun. I assure you, in those shots with Panda on the floor, she was getting belly rubs just before. She wasn't being left out.

Lovefest on the front steps
1. Sweeties in the sun, 2. Sweeties in the sun, 3. Sweeties in the sun, 4. Sweeties in the sun, 5. Sweeties in the sun, 6. Sweeties in the sun, 7. Sweeties in the sun, 8. Sweeties in the sun, 9. Sweeties in the sun
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

May 17, 2009

Goaaaaaaaaaaal

All day at the Oregon coast. It couldn't have been more beautiful, mild and lovely.

May 16, 2009
1. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 2. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 3. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 4. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 5. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 6. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 7. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 8. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 9. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 10. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 11. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 12. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 13. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

We played soccer and fetch with the pups then pulled out our bikes and ran them until they seemed to be almost something resembling tired.

The soccer ball is now Thea's passion. It irks her to no end that she can't get her mouth around it and still she can't stop chasing it. Panda can't be bothered, it's the squirrel all the way.


June 10, 2009

I'm back

Well, I'm still trying to catch up from being away from home, but the trip was, by all accounts, a great time.

June 2009 -- Maine

Maine is beautiful this time of year. And if you can find yourself a properly sized hamster ball, in which to travel, you might even survive the mosquitoes.

My parents brought me to Halcyon which was lovely and fantastic and where I found a book on Scottish plaids, which contains my own last name. All was going fine until mom proclaim, aloud, that I was a "famous knitwear designer," and that I had been on tv. She brought visual aids. Dad, of course, contributed to the public shaming. I am pretty sure that if people have to be alerted to the fact, it pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how famous you are. Bad parents, no cookie. But thank you to the staff at Halcyon for being so gracious about it.

Also, in New England, you can get a properly made clam roll.

June 2009 -- Maine


They don't make 'em like this anywhere else. FYI, "clam strips" are not even food. If you are going to eat a clam, you should be committed to eating the whole thing. I may, perhaps, have strong opinions on this topic.


The Frolic was great, as always. It's just the perfect sized event, with a little of everything but never too much.

June 2009 -- Maine June 2009 -- Maine June 2009 -- Maine

Do you see that wee little goat? I held her too. She was warm and snuggly and oh so cute. I think I want a goat. In case you are wondering, yes, my mom knit her sweater. If you go over to the flickr set for my trip, can see a few more shots of it, though I neglected to get a full on view of it.

Continue reading "I'm back" »

July 5, 2009

4th of July

I remember being a small child, my younger brother just an infant, and going to some large rolling field with our blanket to watch the fireworks. Every year I'd cry but this year, I was going to be brave. We'd sit down and get comfortable and my parents would coo a little bit, reminding me that it'd be loud and asking if I was sure I'd be ok. I thought I was.

And then the fireworks would start.

I felt like maybe it'd never end and I'd hear the fireworks forever. They seemed so loud, so piercing, so inescapable. I would cry. I'd feel horrible about it, my parents would try to console me but I also knew I was letting them down. I really wanted to be brave.

I don't really believe in karma, though I think that genetics tends to give you back in children, what you gave your parents. I thought I bucked the system by opting never to have kids, but Panda gave me what my mother faced every 4th of July, for much of my younger childhood. She's absolutely inconsolable around fireworks. We hoped that a full day of running on the beach would quell the fear a bit, and the cool ocean air would calm her fragile nerves but the close proximity of those boisterous noisemakers were more than she could manage.

Still, the day was wonderful and the bad parts were brief. We headed out just before the show really started, giving our campsite up to an incredibly thankful wedding after-party, and drove home during the best (or worst, as the case may be) portion of the show.

4th of July, 2009 -- Manzanita, Oregon
1. Fireworks, 2. Setting up the tent, 3. Spinning on the beach, 4. Panda goes for a roll, 5. Can we come in?, 6. Miss Bear looking sweet, 7. Thea zonks out, 8. Silly dog hug, 9. Panda finds a safe spot to hide from the firecrackers, 10. Making a fire while the sun sets, 11. Carrying a bad little dog, 12. Leo in front of sunset, 13. A very sleepy Thea on my lapCreated with fd's Flickr Toys.

Panda is no worse for the wear having had a largely great day at a beautiful beach in weather much cooler than the 90+ degrees back home. All in all, a great day.

See all the pictures from our trip here.

And a little video from right before we left.

September 15, 2009

House a little warmer

When I think of Julia, I think of clean and flattering designs with thoughtful feminine details. There's never anything fussy or kitschy, and her materials are top notch. Even in a time of pom-pom and sequined yarns, Julia's taste was merino and silk, which is why I never expected her to pick up a few yards of this fabric, when she started sewing again.

Topless Cowboy Apron

Pinup girls be damned, I'm looking at some shirtless cowboys!

But the thing is, I love this fabric. As I mentioned in the comments of her post about this fabric, a couple years ago, it reminds me of an art project I made in the 7th grade, using Jockey underwear ads. I'll leave it at that.

But that was something like 2 years ago. I'd forgotten those handsome devils and their pickup trucks. I'd forgotten, that is, until I opened my mailbox yesterday and found this:

Topless Cowboy Apron

Great googily moogily! It's topless cowboys in apron form! Do you see this? Check out those sweet little sage green pockets and long ties. There's even a little loop, perfect for holstering one's tongs or, even a hammer, were one so inclined.

Well, I loved it so much that I thought it deserved a proper photo shoot, including vintage dress, rolling pin and a bit of hamming it up for the camera.

Topless Cowboy Apron Topless Cowboy Apron

What can I say but, thank you, Julia, this apron is the best.

October 18, 2009

I hope the dogs forgive us

Normally, when we go for hikes it's a no brainer, we bring the dogs. You may not be aware of this but we kinda love those little furry poop factories.

But, just about a mile from our home is a newly opened nature park with a few miles of absolutely stunning trails. It's a wildlife preserve and they do not allow domestic animals on the trails for the safety and comfort of the wildlife.

Cooper Mountain Nature Park
See all the pictures here
1. Tree trunk, 2. No dogs allowed on trail...bummer, 3. Cragly tree, 4. Prairie overlook, 5. Blue skies and yellow leaves, 6. Blue skies and yellow leaves, 7. Autumn in Oregon, 8. Bird listening station, 9. Blackberry leaves, 10. Suggestive map, 11. Backlit trees, 12. Beautiful trail, 13. Arched tree
Created with fd's Flickr Toys


It's beautiful especially with all the leaves changing, and I'm sure the pups didn't mind that we left them home.

disappointed-girls

Um, ok, next weekend, we'll take them somewhere they can play.

October 25, 2009

Salt water therapy

It's been rainy. I love the rain, but Saturday was sunny and beautiful. You know what? I love sunshine too. Lucky me.

We packed a little picnic and headed for the coast.

Oct 24, 2009
Thea carried the water like a trooper.


Oct 24, 2009
Which freed us up to take in the view.


Oct 24, 2009
Don't mind the precipitous drop to likely doom, just look at the pretty.


Oct 24, 2009
Because at the end of the trail is joy.


Oct 24, 2009
And of course, a little lunch.


Oct 24, 2009
And a whole lot of fetch.


Oct 24, 2009
Smiles abound.


Oct 24, 2009
The view was just as nice on the hike back.


Oct 24, 2009
And a last game of fetch before going home.


Tub
And the cherry on top, a little soak in one of my favorite features of the house.


What can I say? Life is good. Hope your weekend was even better.

November 27, 2009

Little things make me thankful

After weeks of mostly rain, we have a gorgeous sunshiney day, two antsy dogs and a tank full of gas. We're off to the ocean (can't say "beach" or the dogs will go crazy pants.) Before I go, I wanted to give you a sneak peek of my most recent finished object. I'll have better pictures in the near future, over in ravelry.

SimpleThingswithPups

This project is Mary-Heather Cogar's Simple Things Shawlette. It was exactly what I needed to work on while I wait for yarn to arrive for my next deadline project. I followed the pattern, almost to the letter, except that I omitted one repeat of the garter ridge. I used this bind off to get a good loose edge and it worked a charm.

As a side note, for no real reason whatsoever, except that I have a slightly geeky side, I created a little spreadsheet that can be used to plan out yardage for any triangular shawl that increases 4 sts every other row. You would have to expand the number of rows for longer shawls (like my La Cumparsita) or delete rows for shorter shawls.

Why would you use this? Well, let's say the pattern called for 400 yards of yarn and you have 350. You could use this to determine approximately how many rows you could actually work, without running out of yarn mid-row. Alternately, you might simply like to know when you are actually at the halfway point, or how far through the project you've gotten. Anyway, if you want to play around with it, you can download the file here.

Note: this does not have any information about the shawlette or any other pattern in it, it's simply a tool for calculating stitch counts and yardage in triangular shawl pattern. I am offering this for free for your own use, personal or commercial, but I cannot offer you technical support for this file. It is yours to play with but you will need to understand excel or open office to edit it and I cannot train you to use those programs. If you wish to modify it to be more functional, I would love it if you'd share it with others, and pass along your expertise.

December 1, 2009

Coast, Kool-Aid and Kale

I don't ever recall Thanksgiving being particularly stressful, as a kid, but really, what's there to be stressed about other than the inevitable battle for that first slice of turkey breast with the big piece of crispy skin.* I'm sure it was much harder for the adults with all the cooking, cleaning and kid/drunk in-law wrangling, but as a kid, it always just seemed like lots of good food and playing with the cousins. As adults, I think Leo and I have kept a lot of the same relaxed attitude. We don't tend to make a production of the holiday, thought we do like some good lumpy mashed potatoes and crispy bird skin on a plate. Since we have yet to really put our new kitchen through the paces, we did (and by we, I mean me) a whole chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, dressing and cranberry sauce and dug in at our leisure. I'm still working through the last of the starchiest bits.

And being the long weekend that Thanksgiving is, we had plenty of time to fit in a trip to the ocean on Saturday. It was brisk but dry and that's pretty much good enough for us. I don't think the dogs have ever been put out by a little cold weather.

Manzanita Oregon -- November 27, 2009 Mosaic
1. Leo got frenched by a puppy, 2. Thea takes a victory lap, 3. Birds, 4. Throw it again, 5. Lift off, 6. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 7. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 8. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 9. More birds, 10. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 11. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 12. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 13. Where'd it go?
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

I also finished spinning about 200 yards of some angora, alpaca and soy silk I hand carded together. Using a bit of Kool-Aid, I dyed it in three successive dye baths to get a rich orange shade.

Bath 1: 1 orange + 1 lemon aid packet

Kool Aid dyeing

Bath 2: 2 orange + 1 lemon aid packet

Kool-Aid dyed Handspun Yarn

Bath 3: 1 tropical punch packet

Kool-Aid dyed Handspun Yarn

I love the color and it smells so sweet. I find dyeing really stressful, because you can't really undo it if you blow it, but this time seem to work out great.

To finish off the long weekend, I made a big batch of lemon garlic crispy kale.

Crispy Kale Chips Crispy Kale Chips

Click either image for the recipe, inasmuch as it is one.

I hope all of you had a lovely weekend too.

*Most of my teen and college years, I did thanksgiving at friends houses and I watched in horror, one year as my friend's mother whipped her mashed potatoes (no lumps!) and removed the skin from the turkey after cooking. I've never fully recovered from the memory.

December 19, 2009

9 or 63

It's approximately, more or less, to the best of our knowledge, somewhere around the date of Panda's birth. She 9 now-ish. Leo called off all birthdays a couple of years ago, because they simply mark the passage of time after a certain age, but she's my little girl, I can't help it. Panda is, for all intents and purposes, my first dog, a ray of sunshine and the reason I'm a dog person. I think every year with her is my good fortune.

So, mostly because it's been a few week but partially because it's her birthday, we went to the beach. It's foggy, a little rainy, horrible photography weather and all around perfect, nonetheless.

Manzanita -- December 19, 2009 Manzanita -- December 19, 2009
Pretty much the definition of doggy joy.

See all the pictures here.

And as a side note, to those who inquired about my going back to school, I'm just going to finish the degree I wasn't able to complete the first go around. I'm majoring in...nothing, they call it "general arts and letters." Given time and money I think I'd like to, some day, figure out what I want to be when I grow up and pick a course of study for a masters. At the rate I'm going, I'll finish that in my 60s.

Double side note, um, even with a calculator, I can't figure out what 7x9 is equal to. I think I've got it now.

December 29, 2009

Last little bit of 2009

Christmas was blissfully mellow here in the new home; no obligations, no worries, plenty of quality time with each other. It was chilly, as evidenced by these gorgeous spider webs, encrusted in ice, on our porch.

Icy morning Icy morning

I love the way the drops of water froze like little glass beads. You should have seen how they glistened in the sunlight. If you go to flickr, you can embiggen them and see more of the detail.

I tried my hand at sushi making, which turned out to be way easier than I expected.

Sushi

That's my "hot and sour tuna" roll. Recipe, inasmuch as anyone would need one, can be had if you click the pic.

I manage to get all my deadline knitting done, thanks to some morale support from the pooches

Panda and Thea Snuggling


I mailed off both garments today and emailed the digital files as well. It feels so good to have those off the plate. Now, do I start something new or finish something already started? Yes, I know which is the RIGHT answer, that doesn't mean I'll do it.

As I was falling asleep I had inspiration of another kind resulting in this, my first venn diagram.

Red___ulousVenn


I'm sure this will improve your lives exponentially.

And, in a last bit of late breaking news, we have us some snow. SNOW!

More snow


It's not slated to last very long but the girls sure do love it while it's here.

February 1, 2010

Donating and a bunch of other stuff

I used to blog the most inane little bits of my life, at times, and now there is facebook and twitter to handle that task. But when it comes time to post, there are always such a varied assortment of things I want to tell you about that, for the life of me, I can't think of a decent title. Sorry about that.

Anyway, first and foremost, thank you all who purchased patterns from January 15th-31st, of this year. Your donations allowed me to make a total of $736 in donations to Doctors Without Borders. And lest you think that an impressive number, I've seen other knitters reporting several thousand dollars in donations from their own sales. It's amazing to see how a multitude of small gestures can add up to so much. Really, it's a metaphor for life and it reminds me that no bit of good is too small and every effort is meaningful. So thanks to all of you who donated personally or bought patterns from a participating designer. It's enough to make my crotchety little heart soften a bit.


In doggy news, the pups still love the beach with the white hot passion of a thousand suns

January 23, 2010
See all the pictures here.

The beef crunchies I made have upped the excitement for training time.

They work hard and they play hard. Awww

Toy nom
Thea's got a toy


And lastly for your moment of pure comic relief at the expense of what little shame I may have had left, I got an honorable mention (as did the beautiful Stitch Diva,) in the Regretsy Skants contest.

Help Me Pick a Skant Picture

Yup, this get-up doesn't even touch the wackiness the winners hit. Mine looks downright tame by comparison.

April 26, 2010

Wedding Weekend

WeAreMarried

I can't thank you all enough for the kind words and congratulations. We really kept this whole thing entirely secret and I still have close friends and family to contact and let them know we got hitched. We wanted to make sure that no one felt obligated to travel or buy gifts or put themselves out. The relationship is for love but the wedding was, in many ways, just a formality for legal and insurance purposes.

Wedding Weekend at Cannon Beach
1. Fetch by Haystack Rock, 2. Delicious Wine, 3. Panda and Thea assess the view, 4. Dad's tie, 5. Groom and Witness's shoes, 6. Feeding the bird, 7. The start of a muddy hike, 8. Post hike shoe cleaning, 9. Rainbow, 10. Sunset play time, 11. Spoiled dogs are spoiled, 12. Thea is a crazy monkey, 13. My sweet old lady
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Despite our general resistance to the idea of getting married on principal alone, we figured that if we were going to do it, we might as well keep it fun and stress free. My mom officiated and gifted me the beautiful dress I wore, which I got at a local store who makes all their dresses by hand from imported Thai silk.

We bought our beautiful rings from Fabuluster. They send impression kits to you and make the rings from your actual finger prints. Leo wears my print and I wear his. We had a bit of fun with it and did impressions of our middle fingers; a little inside joke about our general reluctance to marry and our tendency to take nothing too seriously, if possible.

WithMyDad

My dad, who gave me away, also gifted us professional photography for the ceremony (pictures to come in a month or so). I also wore the first gift he ever gave my mom, a lovely pair of heart-shaped earrings.

My brother and his girlfriend witnessed and offered general morale support. It was sheer coincidence that my brother and the groom wore the same shoes.

Our biggest splurge, though, was our stay at a lovely, dog friendly beachside hotel. Since we normally stay in cheap motels or camp in our car, when we travel with the pups, this was a real extravagance for the four of us. Being able to go for our walks on the beach, at the drop of a hat, was such a delight and the dogs couldn't have been happier. They've been downright mellow since we've returned.

I can't wait to see how the photos come out. I think there'll be a few lovely mementos to mark the day. But even if I am making dork-face in every shot, I'll still look back on the weekend as a lovely time spent with my very closest family and a wonderful memory amongst the many that Leo and I already share.

Oh and since a few have asked, the pups were in attendance but no, I did not dress them up. We're crazy dog people but we aren't THAT crazy.

May 30, 2010

One last post about the wedding

Short and sweet, like the ceremony itself, a few more pictures of the lovely day.

The Wedding
1. Being given away, 2. Groom and Best Man's shoes, 3. Last chance to bail out, 4. Do you agree to the terms and conditions?, 5. My mom, officiating, 6. I may kiss the groom, 7. Kiss in front of haystack rock, 8. Looking wistful in front of haystack rock, 9. The happy couple, 10. The kids are legitimate now, 11. The whole wedding party, 12. Mom and dad, 13. Very serious footwear, 14. Dad of the bride, 15. Groom with his new Father In-Law, 16. It's official now, 17. Warm hug, 18. Lucky bride, 19. Black and White is fancy, 20. Fancy pants shot of the bride
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

June 20, 2010

Contest

You know what I think is really useless? Blogging that you haven't blogged for a while and then apologizing. But you know what I think is cute? Posting a picture that captures that same sentiment.

Manzanita June 18, 2010
Contrite dog is contrite*

But how'z about I make it up to at least two of you out there.

Picture%201.png
Successful Lace Knitting


A little while ago, I posted about Donna Druchunas' new book, Successful Lace Knitting, to which I contributed the cover project. Well I recently received my copy and one extra copy, both of which are signed by the author. That means I have one more copy than I rightfully need.

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment below answering the following question.

What is the most embarrassing thing your parents/guardians ever did in front of your friends?

Here's my answer:
My biological father used to crochet his own banana hammocks and wear them in public to swim at the local country club. I'm from a small town, and people I grew up with still talk about it. It's memories like that, that make me all the more thankful for the upgrade I got a few years back. (Speaking of which, a very happy father's day, dad2.0!)

Here are the logistics of the drawing. Get your comment in by the end of day Friday June, 25, and I will pick one comment at random to receive the signed copy of Successful Lace Knitting. I will also award one gift certificate for a Twist Collective pattern (you will be able to pick from any that they offer) to the person who makes me laugh and/or cringe the hardest with their comment.





*Note, no dogs were actually made to feel contrite to produce this blog post.

February 20, 2011

Let's continue the birthday celebration

Friday was my birthday and I put it to good use. I released a pattern:

Dweezil_In_Space

And I went to the beach with the three beasts and one human I like best of all.

My birthday at the coast
1. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_171, 2. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_046, 3. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_053, 4. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_065, 5. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_118, 6. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_126, 7. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_130, 8. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_148, 9. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_150, 10. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_157, 11. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_169, 12. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_176, 13. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_182
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

And as an added bonus, I did an interview a little while ago and now it's live. Check it out here.

Hope you all had a happy my-birthday as well.

March 6, 2011

Do you suffer from CDP?

Do you suffer from Crazy Dog Personitis [CDP]? Symptoms may include:

A compulsion to relegate half your vehicle for the comfort and safety of your dogs.

CarRide_02

An uncontrolled desire to snuggle, which sometimes interferes with other tasks you should be doing.

Man_and_his_dogs_14 Man_and_his_dogs_04

Attraction to sun beams.

Man_and_his_dogs_02

Inability to consider weather reports before deciding to drive 2 hours so your dogs can play.

Susceptibility to furrowed brows.

OregonCoast_March_4_2011_044

And, in the case of extreme CDP, a tendency towards ordering a burger for yourself....

OregonCoast_March_4_2011_073

...And then some mini burgers, minus all the fixin's for your pooches awaiting you in the car.

If you have these symptoms, or any other symptoms of CDP, there's no hope for you, no cure, and no treatment, but you are in good company. I prescribe two belly rubs per dog, and call me in the morning.

Bunches of additional pictures here.

April 4, 2011

Two tired buzzwords in one great week.

I think we can all agree that the words, "staycation" and "funemployment" can be retired at any time with no adverse repercussions for the English language, but regardless, that's what Leo and I had last week when I took some time off from my day job.*

We didn't waste the time, getting a bit done around the house and managing to hit the beach three times. The pups were over the moon, around Jupiter and back around the moon once more.

March 25

Oregon_Coast_March_25_2011_058


A beautiful start to vacation, with perfect mild weather and plenty of fetch.

Then a drizzly follow up on March 28

Oregon Coast -- March 28, 2011_053
Darwin's still a little unsure about this whole fetch thing.

And then a last trip on Saturday, April 2, when we were able to play fetch while the sun set behind us. How's that for a great way to end a vacation?

Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011 - Montage
1. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_111, 2. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_052, 3. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_064, 4. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_075, 5. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_080, 6. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_091, 7. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_093, 8. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_096, 9. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_099, 10. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_106, 11. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_127, 12. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_140, 13. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_148
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

I won't say that I was excited to wake up at 5:30AM on Monday, to get back to work, but I can say I had a really great week off. If I had to guess, I'd say the pups have very few complaints, as well.

Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_027




* Though with the Spring/Summer edition going live, I still had responsibilities for my my alter-ego-super-hero-night-job.

August 1, 2011

Fall 2011 Twist Collective is Live

The new Twist Collective is live and it's beautiful. I have seen these patterns from their thoughtfully laid out submissions right up to their final tech edited PDF. I've read the articles from their early drafts to their polished finished composition. I feel personally invested in each and every piece's success and receptions from knitters.

There's a lot to love in this edition, including two beautiful garments from my dear friend, Julia Trice, and a must read article on seamed knitting, by Sandi Rosner. And while I think all the articles are fantastic, I'd be remis if I didn't direct you to this story, where you'll struggle to decide which is more endearing, the story itself or the beautiful illustrations.

Of course, I've made my own contribution to this edition (beyond my work behind the scenes), about which I plan to do a separate, more in-depth post. Make sure you cruise by my his and hers pattern, Doppler.


Photo copyright Jane Heller

Originally conceived as just a men's garment, with an asymmetrical ribbed pattern to keep the knitting interesting but not too fussy, I added in a women's version too, sized proportionally for women's standards, with just a hint of waist shaping. Both patterns come with both the crew and turtleneck instructions, so you can really tailor this garment to your preference.

I know it's simple, without the excitement of some of the myriad designs also available in the edition, but I hope it'll be a wardrobe staple for those who choose to knit it.

Now stop reading my blog post and go check out this amazing new edition.

December 5, 2005

More flippin' yarn

Yup, that's right, more yarn. I might as well just admit it. I bought more yarn.
Do you know who's at fault? Well, I won't name any names, but it starts with "J" and ends in "ulia". Really, though, I don't mind. I got a pretty good deal on it.

Yesterday, we went to Michael Levine in downtown LA. It's right in the middle of the fashion district, which, in LA, is not nearly as cool and trendy as one would imagine. Nestled snuggly between skid row and the skid row suburbs (skurbs?), this is not a place one would venture after dark. But on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks before Christmas (don't even get me started on that fact) the area was alive.

Two good bloggers might have taken a few pictures to document the event, but two bloggers did not. This blogger, though, has plans to go back. Michael Levine is amazing. For a store devoted primarily to sewing supplies, the yarn selection is amazing. And, just to show their good judgment, the Red Heart yarns are kept in an entirely separate section from the rest of the yarn.

Ultimately, despite the fact that I saw many yarns which made my heart go pitter-pat, I only bought enough yarn for one garment for me and one "commissioned" piece for my brother (that's in quotes because he has paid with the years of torment I've heaped upon him for my own entertainment).
For me, some Cascade 220 in a tweedy sage green.

I have 5 skeins so I should be able to make a little something warm for myself.

And Matt will be getting a Dragon Hoodie for a friend's baby.

This will be my first time using Berroco Lullaby, but I think it'll be a nice substitute, especially since it's machine washable.

I've been working on another piece for a book that I can't show here, and a bunch of spinning that looks pretty much like the spinning I've been showing you, so, nothing more to show today.

December 12, 2005

A Quick But Fun Quiz

This is a short quiz of personality traits. I would guess that to be truly accurate, it should probably be three or four times longer, but as a diversion before, after or during work, as the case may be, it's amusing.

Here's my score. You can get the whole description of my insanity from the link below.

Check out my personality profile!
Apparently, no matter what score you get, you always get a link back to the wrong profile. Odd, the test is fun to take, though, so if you want to try it for yourself, click here. Thanks for the heads-up, Julia

For more information about the Personality Project, click here.

January 11, 2006

Watching sausage being made

I really want to show you images of the handspun I've been knitting. What is my problem? Lighting. I get up at 4:30 am to blog, and I've spent an hour trying to get a decent picture. It's not light out when I'm home, this time of year. While I've certainly offered my fair share of crappy photos, I genuinely do strive to have something decent to show you.

There are some bloggers who just never seem to have bad pictures up. They tend to photograph their pictures in natural light to ensure that everything looks beautiful.
I am not these bloggers, nor any of the others, who, ifI weren't so sleepy, I'd remember. Nope, I take pictures when I am ready to blog and light be damned! But it doesn't mean I don't lament my crappy photos. This morning, I took my soy silk yarn on a field trip around the house in hopes of finding a decent shot.

Go on the adventure, after the bump.

Continue reading "Watching sausage being made" »

January 4, 2006

90 yards

I have a lot of "well duh!" moments, which would be "Aha!" moments if they weren't so obvious. One of those moments was when I realized I had everything I needed to determine the yardage I'm getting with my spinning.

Here are two skeins of my soft and lovely yarn spun up from the roving my brother gave me. Before this weekend, I would have told you that I had no idea how many yards were in there, but the answer was obvious all along. To make my skeins, when done plying, I wrap the yarn from the spindle around my calf, from foot to knee. the long way. To find out my yardage, I wrapped the tape measure the same way, found out my length and multiplied it by the number of times I wrap the yarn around my leg. Well duh!

More gratuitous yarn shots after the bump.

Continue reading "90 yards" »

January 20, 2006

Brownies and Pumpkin Pie

I just love my Autumn Spice Cotswold. I think about spinning it when I'm at work and it's become increasingly hard not to burn dinner while I try to work spinning into my nightly routine.

Here's a bit more of it spun up and plied. Why do I love this yarn so? I don't know. It's not the softest yarn I have, but it's certainly soft enough to be knit into a nice wrap or a cardigan. The little halo of fuzziness delights me. At first I was thrown by it, but now I love it more and more. I pre draft the roving and the yarn just seems to spin itself. It's nearly effortless.

But I also got myself some of the Fudge Brownie roving. This stuff is gorgeous. The color is dark chocolate and the feel is silky, dense and smooth. Fudge Brownie is the perfect name for it. I find it harder to spin though. Instead of long snakes of roving that I can predraft, this tends to want to fall into clumps. It's smooth but the fibers like to grab ahold of each other in unexpected ways so I end up with more thick and thin areas than I'm used to. I tried my 0.9oz and then my 1.3oz spindle. The extra weight seemed to help. I decided to try spinning it a bit thicker than normal, and this is the result.

On top is both of my skeins of Autumn Spice held together in a single skein. You can see that the brown top is much thicker. Spinning thicker yarn is turning out to be challenging for me. I did notice, in the process, that I like the way the yarn looks when it is really tightly spun. It loses some of it's softness but it picks up a sheen that's decadent. I think my next skein will err on the side of overspun, to see what happens.

Here's a close-up of the two yarns. You can see that my brown yarn is not very even.

MJ has been trying to spin more thickly too. A lot of people feel that spinning fine weight yarn is harder than thicker yarn. But I think most people acclimate to spinning a certain weight of yarn and need time to learn to control other weights. It's not a matter of "this weight is good" and "this weight is bad." I'll consider myself a good spinner when I can spin many weights well. For now, I proudly wear my "novice" crown, with my head held high. No shame in it.

There's just one thing that bothers me. Do you hear it? I know I do. I hear the sweet song of the wheel calling me. I'm trying to be strong and, luckily, I do not think I could reasonably justify the cost right now. But that doesn't mean I'm not haunted by the thought of spinning all my gorgeous roving in a couple days instead of needing months to do it. I can't deny that seeing huge skeins of continuous roving, wound off a bobbin, doesn't make me drool a little. I'm counting on a certain friend of mine, to keep me sane. And if I happen to visit this site several times a day, it's only for research purposes.

March 19, 2006

Taking it for a whorl

Since finishing my shawl, (pics coming soon) I've been spinning a lot. It could be the influx of new roving that has me excited or maybe it's seeing something I've spun worked up into something I'm proud of, but whatever it is, I just can't seem to stop.

First, I spun up some of the merino/tencel I got from Janel. The colorway is called "Indian Wedding." It beautiful, though I found it harder to spin than some of the other fibers I've used. I want to try again with a different spindle and see if that helps. The final product is so soft and the sheen is so nice, I know I'm going to want to spin it all up.

I also got my order from Spunky Eclectic. I ordered two batches of Amy's Almost Solid Series.

I. Love. This. Stuff.

It works up into a yarn that looks a lot like the Twisted Sister Monochromatic Variegated yarns.

I got myself a batch of Corriedale in Sunflower.

And worked it up into a big ol' skein. My new spindle has allowed me to make much larger quantities of yarn in a go. Why on earth I chose yellow, I don't know. I certainly can't wear that color alone and the other colors I have don't really go with it, but it makes me so happy to look at it. Don't get me wrong, I think yellow is an amazing color, I'm just not so sure it's a logic choice for me.

I also bought myself a batch of Merino in colorway, Red Maple. I think the color is really more like Plum. It's got a warm red undertone, but it's a pretty deep purple overall.

I'm spinning this much finer than the yellow, which is between a sport and worsted weight. This is going to be more like a sock weight, once plied.

From some of the sweet comments I've been getting, I am starting to think that we might need a "Knit Your Handspun Along," because there are a lot of you who don't seem to ever do anything with the yarn you create. Julia suggested that to me a while ago, so I can't take any credit for the idea, but I'd love to know what folks think.

April 23, 2006

Ribbing ribbing ribbing ribbing ribbing

I took a couple rough photos of the machine knit cardi and cami

The pictures aren't so good because there was only a little daylight left when I took them. And I've been doing housework all day, so the hair; it is in no condition for photographing. But, I think it gives you a general idea of what the pieces look like.

I'm now fully engrossed in Leo's sweater.

This is the back piece. I'm about halfway to the armsceye. It looks thin, but it will block out much wider. So far so good. I got most of it done while watching a movie over at a friend's place. It was a great, relaxing evening.

Leo went out with some friends and brought me home this:

He’s so sweet. Little things like that make knitting miles of ribbing seem fun.

June 4, 2006

When birthday gifts come late, it means the birthday lasts longer

Some people give me way too much credit, and Julia is one of those people. I wish it were true that Leo's sweater were finished and blocking, as she suggested, but it's not quite the case. However, it is terribly close to being done.

I'm just working on the neck now.
Leo looks amazingly good in turtlenecks, however, with sweaters, he finds that his stubble is always tearing the turtleneck apart, wearing out the sweater long before it's truly ready to be retired. This sweater will have a mock turtleneck and several separate full turtleneck pieces to tuck in and switch out as necessary. If that just doesn't work, I have the yarn and can simply remove the bind off on the mock turtleneck and knit a full turtleneck each time one wears out.

Leo has tried on the sweater up to the point you saw it in the last post. He has declared that the fit, fabric and look are all up to his standards, so I'm feeling pretty good about the endeavor.

For those of you who knit a lot of raglans, you may have noticed that the shoulder shaping is a bit different than one might expect. Instead of a steady slope, there is a true shoulder shape at the top. Do you see what I mean?

Here's a little sneak peek of how I did that.

There is an extra "raglan" running along the top of the shoulder that extends from the neckline to about the end of the shoulder (I actually stopped about a half inch short of the final shoulder length). Calculating it was an interesting challenge and I did it by printing out gauge sized charts and origami folding it to the right shape. This is not quite so mathematical as one might hope. Eventually, I plan to work out a pattern and will have to use my experience with this piece to write up a more useful explanation for determining the correct ratio.

Oh, and the sweater has been named. It's now "The Big Four-Oh" in honor of Leo's birthday. And I agree with any of you who share the sentiment that Leo doesn't look at all like he is 40.

June 21, 2006

Four Plying Out Loud!

A certain someone gave me a wonderful little book recently on spinning.

This is a book one can read in a day but I have a feeling I'll be reading it a few times more, to really absorb what's inside. There are two techniques in particular that I've been meaning to try but haven't. The first, is the spinning of the spindle up or down one's thigh. It's not a particularly hard or scary prospect, I just never bothered trying.

Well, I'm here to tell you that if you feel hampered and slowed by spindle spinning, this is the way to go. I haven't spun much because I've been frustrated that I can't get as much spin as I can draft before the spindle hits the floor. Instead, I would spin, draft, spin again to get enough twist in my yarn. That bores me. It's probably why I find plying a bit of a bore too. It's a lot of spinning the spindle, but not much else.

Launching the spindle off my thigh, though, allows me to get more spin than a flick of the wrist has ever afforded me. I have had to get my bearings, though. Too much spin and the spindle goes a bit out of control, too little and the spindle goes off balance. But, like Goldilocks, I think I've found the right method for my little 0.9 ounce Golding.

This leads me to the second technique I've wanted to try; this one for an entirely different reason. Since starting the whole spinning endeavor, I've been using a standard Andean ply which gives me a nice little two ply yarn. This has worked great and since I prefer a rather fine weight yarn and I'm not a huge fan of singles, I get most of what I need out of this method. However, I'd always wondered if I couldn't just use the same method to ply the two ply against itself. I'd been meaning to try, but never had, because I worried that with all the time spent spinning my singles and plying them, I might bungle the whole thing and be left with garbage.

Well, take a gander:

It's a four ply, approximately worsted weight yarn, spun with some of my Almost Solid samples from Spunky Eclectic. If you are wondering, that colorway is "Redwood."

The technique is outlined in the book and it gave me the confidence to proceed with gusto.

This probably won't replace my usual two ply yarn, but it's a nice change. The four plies means that small inconsistencies in spinning, don't really show and the texture is delightful.

As a side note, I've been plying my hair for years. I used to wind my hair in the same way and then throw it into a bun which produced the most gorgeous woven effect.
If you have very long hair, you might want to give it a try. Put your hair into a ponytail, separate into 4 even sections. Take two adjacent sections, twist both in one direction and around each other in the other direction. Make sure you twist them around each other much more than you twist them individually so you have an over twisted ply. Secure with a small elastic. Repeat with the other two sections making sure to match the twists so they are both going in the same direction. Secure with a small elastic. Now twist the two plies together, remove both small elastics and replace with a single elastic over all the ends. Twist into a coil around the base of the ponytail and secure with a few bobby pins. You won’t need many because all the plies hold themselves in place so the bobby pins are more to secure the shape of the bun.

Panda wants to know when this turned into a beauty advice column.

August 2, 2006

RSVP

I wanted my next post to be about my new socks, but forget that, I'm gonna have myself a pity party and you are all invited. Get your hats and your noise makers, suck the helium out of the balloons and talk like Mickey Mouse, because I have a bad case of the “poor mes” right now.

At 11PM last night I kissed my puppy and Leo goodbye and they drove off into the starlit night for Oregon. And perhaps I cried maybe a bit because a month away from the two of them sound heart wrenchingly lonely. And maybe I worry that they'll be abducted by aliens and I'll never see them again because while I don't actually believe in alien abductions I do believe in horrible unexpected things happening to people I love, so I'm sad. But Leo has been sending me pictures from his phone of the little girl enjoying her trek to lands unknown (at least to us)

The move has been no small feat for us, and the ordeal doesn't end any time soon. To start with, since we are both trying to be frugal and we are moving on different dates, Leo will be unpacking the truck by himself. On the plus side, we've decided to sell most of our larger furniture, but on the downside, we're still keeping both motorcycles, our queen sized mattress and box spring, our 32" TV, and a few other choice back breakers.

As a side note, Leo drew quite a crowd driving the motorcycles up the ramp of a moving truck. I’m pretty sure everyone was waiting for him to fall off the side or crash into the boxes already sitting in back.

Speaking of moving trucks, I'm not going to name any names, but we are not happy with our moving truck experience. The company in question (whose name may rhyme with "poo-ball") has set us off our schedule by a whole day. Originally, we were scheduled to pick up our truck on Monday morning at 9AM. We were supposed to find out which LA office we were to pick up our truck, no later than 5PM on Sunday night. At around 6PM we were informed that they didn't know when or where we'd be able to pick up the truck the next day, that they hadn't even scheduled us a truck yet and that they'd call us on Monday and let us know. We made our reservation over two weeks prior and since one of us still has a job to go to, we were looking at a long couple of days.

So after several hours of listening to hold music and being told by countless customer service reps that the branch office would be notified of the urgency of our need for a truck, we were finally told we could pick up a truck in an office that ended up taking about 45 minutes to get to. Good times.

We worked for two solid days with only the barest minimum of sleep, but we finally got most of what we hoped to pack, into the truck. Now, I need to get all the remaining flotsam and jetsam out of the house (to Goodwill with what we they'll take and to the trash with the rest) then try to sell the furniture on Craig's list.

On the upside, it'll be a lonely and grueling two weeks to get the house in order, but after that, I'm staying with a friend who has graciously offered to drive the scenic route to Oregon with me the weekend of the 26th. We'll be taking a long slow journey up the cost, camping as needed to refresh ourselves and stopping for every scenic view we deem worthy. Since I'm easily amused there may be a lot of stops along the way.

I want to thank you all for attending my pity party. Please feel free to take home any leftovers that you’d like. I definitely won’t eat them all myself. I’ll grab your jackets from the extra room and see you out the front door.

July 23, 2006

Pygmie + Angora = CUTE

For my birthday, Julia got me the Bellwether Exotic Fiber Kit. The first fiber I grabbed was Pygora and having never heard of it I decided to see what it was.

The little cutie to your right is the first picture I saw. Read all about him here. I've quite enjoyed spinning pygora, though I've only spun a small amount. I'm using my 0.9 ounce Golding and haven't had any problems spinning it, yet. The color is actually more of a creamy shade than it appears on screen and I'm spinning the singles at a about a lace weight.

I've also been plodding away on my N2JW sock.

I'm about an inch away from the heel right now.

August 4, 2006

I loves me some silky wool

I've actually been working on this piece, in dribs and drabs, for a while now. It's not that I'm not enjoying the process, I really love the yarn and the idea I have, I hope, will be great. It'll have princess seams and waist shaping, all things that I think look lovely. I’ve just had so much else going on that it hasn't been a project I could really give the proper focus to, so I knit a row here and there and put it down for a little while.

One thing you'll find about me and my knitting is that I knit almost everything with a provisional cast on, and this project is no exception. I feel like it gives me a lot more options. I can always cast it off normally, if it turns out I don't need those stitches.

Now that most of my worldly goods are in Portland, I'm sans ball winder (until the gracious Ms Julia takes me in on the 15th) so I'm reduced to winding my own center pull balls.

I use an empty prescription pill bottle. If you want to try this at home, look for one that is fairly tall. Circumference doesn’t make a huge difference. Tuck one end of the yarn in the container. Close the container to secure the end then wind as though using a Nostepinne. When you are done, open the bottle and slide off your center pull ball. It's not as convenient as a ball winder, but it works in a pinch.

In move news, Leo and Panda are doing very well in our new home in Oregon. He's already emptied the whole truck by himself.

And Panda has taken to the place like a fish to water. She hung out by our giant tree:

And watches our neighbors from a choice vantage point.

It appears that our lawn could do with some tending, but we'll get to that when we can. For now, I'm just happy to know that everyone is home safe and sound. Pity party is still in overtime but it's winding down a bit.

August 22, 2006

If crafting were a narcotic, we'd need Betty Ford

It has been a whirlwind week at Chez MOW. We've fit more of just about everything into these 7 days than I usually fit into a month. I love it. It's a fiber fueled binge and the neighbors are ready to call the authorities.

I won't say "the highlight of the week" because I think it's all been fun in a myriad of ways, but one of the best photographically documented events has been our trip to the Santa Monica Fiber Festival. Now, many of we yarnly types think of "fiber" as being roving and fleece and perhaps some handspun, and, boy oh boy, the best of that was available. But this fiber festival featured fabrics, beads, buttons, and antique goodness all around. Sure, there were some kittens and koy* but for every bit of questionably kitsch, there’s a great deal more of wallet emptying temptation.

The organizers (no fools were they) knew what they were doing and placed some baby alpacas at the entrance.

I'm not particularly gaga over livestock but these guys are pretty darn cute. Julia and I then went in for a quick first pass and some lunch.

A little side story, because I know she won't tell you herself. As we were eating our french fries..er...I mean...organic rolled oats, we chatted away at the small area set aside for such goings on. As we prattled on about what we wanted to see, what we planned to buy and which wheels we hoped to spin on, from behind me, came the sweetest "excuse me." A woman was trying to get Julia's attention. "Excuse me." She said, one more time "Are you a model?" As Julia decided if she could hug the woman while simultaneous spitting her food out and laughing, the woman persisted. "Don't you model knitwear?" Now, of course, I think Julia is plenty lovely enough to model, but one can't help but admire a complement like that. Further discussion revealed that the woman had seen Julia's various knitwear designs online, and presumed her role as "model" was paid and as opposed to practical.

After our highly nutritious lunch, we began our official trek through the festival. I knew my little shawl would be there, and we found it in no time. Despite knowing full well it’d be on display, I couldn’t help but be pleased beyond reason to see her there.

She stood among some of the most breath taking pieces. The photos submitted to Spindlicity just didn't do them justice.

After that, it was two circuits of the vendors and then a long break to spin, gab and spin some more. If this were a night on the town, at this point in the story, Julia and I would be crawling into Denny's at 4AM, makeup streaming down our faces, nylons ripped and at least one high heel broken. We were just about ready to pass out, but we couldn't bring ourselves to stop. We kept running into people we knew and things to see. We knew we were doomed when we finally found Miss Andrea walking around with her sister. So pulling out one of my purchases, a decadent 2 ounces of Merino and Silk roving, I decided to start spinning.

See Marnie.
See Marnie spin.
Spin, Marnie, spin!

And let me tell you, I didn't stop until yesterday morning. This stuff spun like it didn't even need me there. The results? 72 yards of 2 ply yarn on my brand new niddy noddy. Did I mention I bought a niddy noddy? No? Well I did and I’m smitten.

The yarn is about a DK to a light worsted weight and spun on my 1.9 ounce Golding Celtic Ring. And if the color and fiber composition weren't yummy enough, how's this for a little balance?

That is right off the niddy noddy. This yarn hasn't seen water yet. I'm so very proud.

As you can see, it's fairly loosly spun which I find easier to keep balanced. It was hard not to keep this yarn as singles because they looked so beautiful, but I knew I'd be unlikely to knit with singles, and I want to make sure I actually use this handspun

Oh and while I was at the festival, I may have also tried myself a wheel. And it just so happens that I love it and that it maches my new niddy noddy. I was thinking I might get myself the entry level model for Christmas, but more and more I'm thinking that what I want to do is save up for the super fabby model instead. As Julia says, in an entirely believable and reasonable sounding manner "If you get the good one, you won't need to upgrade later, then you'll only need one wheel ever."

You heard it here first, folks.That's my plan; one wheel, monogomous relationship for life. No really, I mean it.

*This will make more sense if Julia posts some of her aquisitions.

August 17, 2006

I want off

When I was a kid, I used to go to Canobie Lake Park every year with my parents because the company they worked for rented out the park for a day, once a year. I remember seeing all the roller coasters, even the one in the little kids' area and thinking "yah, I want to go on that." But as soon as the ride got going, I'd realize that this was definitely NOT what I wanted to be doing and in fact, if I didn't get off STAT, I was going to need to scream my fool head off. Luckily, I was a fast learner and quickly came to the conclusion that I was happier on more tame rides and getting "antique" photos taken with my friends. Odd, but I always loved the Turkish Twist which was like a tilt-a-whirl without the tilt and down in a pit where the floor dropped out from under you. So it’s kind of like being in a salad spinner.

Anyway, moving has been much like riding that roller coaster for the first time. I think, "Yah, no problem, I'm ready for this. While I'm at it, maybe I'll bring peace to the middle east too." Then suddenly I realize that everything is happening and I can’t turn back; Leo and Panda take off, the apartment is full of things I need to sell, and work is hitting a busy point. I see that apex of that long first hill ahead of me and start to think, hmmm, am I actually ready for this?

And what a ride it's been. Moving out of the old place on Tuesday was such a relief. I really do love LA, I've been very happy here, but I've been on a strict regiment of "no fun, all cleaning and selling old furniture" for the past week. I have a new disdain for flakey people who say they are coming to get your furniture and never show up. I also have scorn for people who try to haggle me on items I'm already trying to sell for much less than even Goodwill would charge. I'm not bitter, nah, not at all.

But I'm now a guest of a certain winter minded friend of mine, and life is good again.

I've made a small amount of progress on the Silky Wool cardigan. You can now see the full effect of the princess seams. She’ll look better after a little blocking.

The front and back are almost done and then I start playing around with sleeves. I do the bulk of my designing in Adobe Illustrator.

I don't want to give anyone the impression that using Illustrator is quick or easy, but I find it to be a great tool for the way I like to design for myself. In this case, the first thing I do is build a grid to scale. Then I create a pattern swatch that exactly matches a single pattern repeat for the stitch pattern. Since I generally create my document to be an exact 1 to 1 scale of the final pattern, I can use the actual inch markers on the built in document rulers, to draw the shape I want.

A little hint if you want to try this yourself, if you want a smaller scale, try working in centimeters instead of inches or picas instead of centimeters. For instance, if I draw my design pretending that each centimeter is an inch, I can basically scale the whole piece down by half, but I still have a ruler to go by when making modifications.

Just like working on regular graph paper, once my general shape is defined, I need to go in and redraw the shapes so they are made up only of whole stitches. Once the initial design is built, I fill it with my original pattern swatch and if all goes well, it will perfectly align with my gauge grid.

From there, I can reshape the piece at will and see how it will look. Then, I just print it out and work directly from the chart while I knit.

Since I have both a stitch-by-stitch, row-by-row representation of the piece and the stitch pattern, I can forego the row counter altogether. I just tick off the last row I worked and if I'm unsure if I remembered to mark off the last row, I can double check by looking at what row of the stitch pattern I just knit and comparing it to the chart.

I’d be curious to hear how other designers out there like to do their designing. Do many of you use Excel? Pencil, paper and calculator? Design programs? (I have one, but generally don’t use it for much more than calculating the armsceye and sleeve caps of multi-sized patterns.) Do you have another technique all together? Do tell.

August 29, 2006

A quick recap of the road trip

I'm home in Portland with both a feeling of elation to be back with my sweet Leo and Little Miss Panda, but also a sadness that the trek is over and Julia has gone back home. I have so much to tell you about, but I’ll try to keep from making this post too long. It was an amazing trip; one I'll look back on as being among the most memorable, but I'm exhausted. Like all of the past few weeks, we've packed as much into as little time as our little psyches could handle and it'll be days before the effects wear off.

The trip started with an easy jaunt to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles. We stayed at a place owned by a friend of Julia's. This allowed us the opportunity to stop by Village Spinning and Weaving in Solvang, CA.

While there, we availed ourselves our their various wheels, including Ashfords, Majacrafts, Louets and a Windwheel. When I left the shop, I thought I was happy with the Ashford Kiwi. That's definitely not what I expected, but it was a lovely little thing, easy to use, and it felt fine.

As we embarked on the next leg of our trip, we decided that we'd see if we could try a Schacht Matchless at Carolina Homespun in San Francisco. We figured that with the $600 price difference, the Matchless would have to be pretty darn wonderful to sway us.


I. Love. This. Wheel.

DAMMIT!

After spending hours at Carolina Homespun, spinning until we had to concede to the road trip agenda (and our rapidly waning blood sugar), we made our way to lunch and then back on the road. It was noon, and we were going to drive to the Sequoia National Forest, a mere 38 miles from San Francisco.

Five hours later, several wrong turns, some swearing at the atlas and not a Sequoia in sight, we were in stop and go traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. In case the impact of that isn't entirely clear, that's a 5 hour detour to get us back to where we started, without actually seeing what we had hoped to see.

The sun was setting and the question became: Do we drive as far as we can at night, missing a good deal of the redwoods but still trying to get to Crater Lake the next day? Or do we drive a more reasonable distance, enjoy all the of the redwoods and skip Crater Lake?

We decided to drive as far as we could without overshooting the redwoods. There is no anxiety quite like that feeling that you've made a horribly bad decision. As we wound through the dark roads at night, hour upon hour passing, we calculated our optimal stopping point. Finally, having passed up most obvious points of civilization, we found ourselves in a quaint little area...where every light in town was turned off. The towns were silent and the motels could have as easily been abandoned, for all the life we could detect. Beam me up Scottie! I see no life here.

As the crew (all two of us) grew ever more punchy and concerned, we wound down one sleepy town's main street after another, until we found our oasis. Motel Ravenwood was open. As unlikely as it was, the owner just happened to be awake, awaiting another guest and he just happened to have an open room. We could have cried with happiness. Instead, we snatched the keys, paid our rate and made a bee line for the warmth of our beds.

The next day we awoke refreshed and ready to complete the last day of our journey. The redwoods are everything we hoped they'd be. Following the 101 up the coast, we stopped for a walk on the brisk sandy beach.



Doesn't Julia's sweatshirt look like it belongs on this beach?


From there, we followed the directions the motel owner gave us and found a quiet little trail off a well groomed dirt road.



My little spindle even joined us on the walk.

As we left the redwoods and headed to Crater Lake, I had a little twinge of excitement when I realized I had finally hit my new home state. If you are wondering, it's beautiful and Crater Lake is no exception.

We stopped at each little vista point and the little spindle joined in the oohing and ahhing. The atmospheric haze made the lake look dreamy and almost unreal. The spindle particularly enjoyed seeing the chipmunks. None of them broke into song.





Even the firemen were a delight to look at.

All said, it was an amazing trip. I’m still recovering, but I’m so glad I had the chance to do it. Portland is wonderful, and being back with my sweeties, is as grand as I hoped.

I should have more pictures up soon, and I feel pretty sure that Julia will have some stories to regale you with as well.

September 5, 2006

Not everyone loves a parade

Saturday, Leo, Panda and I decided to walk around Portland a bit. Panda doesn't really love "social" settings, she's more of a reclusive nature girl. She's definitely gotten better over the years, but it's still a little overwhelming to be in the city. We try to give her small doses of relatively positive experiences in public places when we can and lots of good times at places she’s more comfortable.

After walking along the river for a while, we headed back inland for some lunch at a wonderful Thai restaurant. We sat outside, enjoying our great meal and giving Panda a little breather from the hot weather and noisy city only to hear a bit of a commotion coming up the street.

What was it?

An immigrants' rights parade.

The "haters" sign amuses me to no end.

Panda, on the other hand....

...Is NOT amused. If you aren't an animal person, you may not be able to read her expression, but to me, this screams "get me the hell OUT of here." Click the image to get the full effect. I can't help but laugh. I know it's wrong, but I do anyway.

Once the parade passed, we found a quiet route back to the car and ran into this little guy:


And if you are wondering, here's his tag:

He's a part of this project. How cute is that? Check out some of the other pictures in the galleries.

September 3, 2006

The best laid plans of mice and men

Leo, Panda and I went to the beach this weekend. The coast is usually a safe bet for us because it's generally beautiful and Panda loves it.

Even our shoes seem happy at the beach

Leo had explored the Oregon coast a bit before and when he had, it had been beautiful but exceedingly cold. He suggested lots of layers. So we threw on some warm clothing and headed out for a quick half-day trip to the ocean.

Read all about it after the bump.

Continue reading "The best laid plans of mice and men" »

September 1, 2006

Settling in nicely

It's really hard to tell this early, but so far, I'm very happy in Portland. Seeing Panda so happy, eating great food and meeting kind people, it all seems a bit too good to be true. Perhaps when the rains start coming in earnest, I'll be singing a different tune. For now though, I will fall asleep counting Pygora, and wake up to great coffee, I'm going native, people.

Maybe it's unfair to compare the accommodations of a second story apartment versus the little house we are renting now, but from my office window, it's not uncommon for me to see birds and squirrels, fattening themselves up for the winter. We have some sort of tree with berries, growing right outside the window, which makes for no end of visitors.

But you know, the contents of this blog have been leaning pretty heavily towards talk of road trips and shenanigans (that's right, I call shenanigans!) I feel it's time to at least make a passing reference to something crafty.

I did a little more spinning on, and then plied the roving that saw all the great sites on our trip.

The fiber is a blend of BFL and Alpaca. I think this shot makes it seem a little course, but it isn't. It's an example of a fiber blend that is greater than the sum of its parts; soft, drapey, silky and unbelievably spinable.

This skein is exceptionally special to me because not only has it seen great sites but it's a combination of work by both Julia and me. I love the work I spin on my own, but it seems all the more special when someone else has spun a little of it too. I think both of us learned a lot going to the Fiber Fest and stopping at several shops on our way to Oregon. By Crater Lake, we were both able to match each other's spinning quite well.

To add a little more specialness still, I asked Panda to give me a hand with the photo shoot.

You'll have to excuse our yellow lawn. Once the weather gets cooler and rainier, I'm told I expect plenty of lush green grass.

And since there's been a bit of clamoring for Panda pics, here's a bit more to sate your appetite. After work, the three of us decided to take a jaunt around the neighborhood. I rode my pretty pink bicycle, and Panda and Leo....

Well, they do things their own way.

GO PANDA GO!

September 13, 2006

The UPS man cometh

I checked my tracking number yesterday, knowing that the wheel was scheduled to be delivered that day. Google Maps, the bloody liar that it is, told me that package was 11 minutes away. Ok, it's not Google Maps's fault, but having checked the site at 6AM, by 5PM, I was starting to lose hope. What if they delivered it to someone else's house? What if the UPS truck went off the edge of a cliff? What if, what if?

So I decided to take a shower and midway through, the doorbell rings. It takes all my self control not to run to the door, hair lathered, naked as the day I was born, and greet the UPS man. Luckily, Leo was home, dressed and not otherwise indisposed and he was able to get the door.

While I got myself rinsed off and dressed, he did what any good fiber lover lover would do and he started to get the box open for me. Check this baby out:

Whoever said that good things come in little packages never had a Schacht coming their way.

Inside, was my wheel, in great condition and looking beautiful.

After about 15 minutes on the Schacht website, I had him going. I used a little bit of motor oil that Leo had, and tied some Rowan Cotton Glace on for a drive band (I know it's not ideal, but it got the job done). For the next 3 hours I spun spun spun spun. The only whorl I received was a slow whorl and I like to spin very fine with very slippery yarns, so this will have to change. Adjusting to this took a little bit of time. The results (though poorly lit) aren't as bad as I feared.

I have no idea what the fiber is. I got it from Greenwich Yarns and have always found it very spinable on the spindle, but it's even more so on the wheel.

Despite the slow whorl, I think I still managed to overspin the singles, but who cares, at this point I'm just enjoying the sound and feel of spinning. I am itching to do it right now, but will have to wait until my lunch break.

I probably have enough of this fiber to, more or less, fill this bobbin. This means I can andean ply the yarn or ply it with another fiber. I'm thinking I may do the latter, so that I can use my new lazy kate. Woohoo!

September 11, 2006

Dogs are allowed on all pathes (except the really good ones)

At my request, this weekend we decided to try some sight seeing inland. The ocean is always a safe bet but there's a whole lot of Oregon that doesn't even come close to being near the beach, but which is supposed to be lovely.

Leo got a recommendation from a friend who said that Silver Falls was both pet friendly (though she hadn't brought a pet) and really wonderful. It did sound amazing and hearing that pets are allowed on all trails except the "canyon trail" lead us to believe we had some beautiful falls in store for us. Alas, there are no falls, that we could see, anywhere on the other trails. Luckily, we still got to see much that was truly beautiful.

These weren't redwoods, but the trees stood incredibly tall. I just wasn't able to get a picture that showed a single tree from top to bottom

This fallen tree was immense. Leo and Panda look so small next to it.

 

The trails were fairly well maintained and a pretty easy walk. It didn't seem too challenging and surprisingly few buggies about our heads. As immense and breathtaking as all the views were, it's the little things that catch my eye.

We have icky spiders about the house, but it doesn't mean I can't appreciate a beautiful web when I see one.

Those shocking red berries look so intense next to all that green.

And if you think those are enchanting, look at this moss growing everywhere.

Some trees had thick coats of this growing on them, while others seem relatively untouched.

This seems like a setting out of some fantasy movie.

I had no idea I was making a heart with the leash. Cute, no?

After our hike, we went back to Portland for some lunch. We ended up at a wine bar called Thirst, where we had a delicious but light meal.

The view from our table, overlooking the river, on a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Panda hanging out at Leo's feet, and Leo sporting a lovely Panda shirt.

Since it was a wine bar, we decided to try their tasting options. I was expecting and would have been perfectly content with, smaller servings of wine, but their selections were great and really fun to try together. Leo got the "Eclectic Reds" and I had the "Light Flight All White." Paired with our salads and an order of assorted olives, we were three happy hikers.

Our favorite was the roasted kalamata olives. They were addicting. I'm surprised it didn't come to blows deciding who would get the last one.

September 7, 2006

Rebecca called, they'd like their photo shoot back.

We were channeling our inner knitwear models in these pictures. I think the Lush Hoodie better suits the scenery than my vest, but one makes due with what one packs.

dorks.gif

I think I may have laughed myself stupid during this.

See all the silliness here and here.

September 20, 2006

Purple is the color of my true love's roving

Every time I pull a new skein of wheel spun off my niddy noddy, I'm inspired anew to crack open my stash of roving and see how the next fiber will work up. This time, I pulled out my supply of Red Maple Merino, one of the Almost Solid Series fibers that Amy offers. It took me a few yards before I really started to get the feel for the merino. It's a more challenging fiber for me to control than some of the others I've spun lately, but I think the practice paid off. This stuff is sproingy, soft and airy. I'm spinning it a little thick and not too tightly (I hope) in an attempt to maintain it's great innate qualities.

During my lunch break, I often eat a quick bite before sitting down to spin a bit. Monday was no exception. As I did so, Spongebob playing on the tube and Panda sitting beside me (try to top THAT for a lunch break), Leo stopped and watched me for a moment. I look up and our eyes meet. He smiles and says "Can I try?"

Well, short of offering to do all the housework forever onward, there are few things he could have said that would have filled me with more joy. So hurtling over pre-drafted yarn, a sleeping pup, and nearly crashing into the coffee table in my excitement, I ushered him over to El Matchador. We practiced starting up and maintaining the speed of the wheel with the treadle and then I reattached the unspun fiber to the yarn on the bobbin and held his hands while we drafted together. After a bit, I left him to try it on his own, offering advice when he asked.

Let’s be honest, though, I am probably not the person to be teaching anyone to wheel spin right now. After a few minutes, Leo gave up in frustration. I removed his yarn from the bobbin and piled it carefully next to El Matchador and started back to my own spinning.

Later, he picks the small pile of yarn up off the table and begins to straighten it out and untwisting it. "How will you salvage this?" He asks innocently.

"I don't plan to salvage it, I love it," I say as I snatch it from his hands before the fibers are completely set loose. "It's sentimental now."

He smiles and walks off and I go into the kitchen to do the dishes. And then he realizes the implications of what I've said. From behind me, I hear "You're going to BLOG about this aren't you?"

I don't meet his gaze.

"I won't if you don't want me to."

Silence

He kisses my neck, gives me a little hug and says, “go ahead.”

He's a keeper.

September 19, 2006

I think they call that "loft"

I never cease to be amazed at how very spinable the Cotswold is that I bought from Nistock Farms. Cotswold is not a very soft fiber. It's certainly not as rough as some wools, but I wouldn't make a bikini out of it, that's for sure. But there's something about it that really appeals to me. It's got a soft halo with just a bit of sheen and the way they dyed it (the color way is called, Autumn Spice) is simply spectacular. I love this yarn. Spinability wise, I think it bears a bit of resemblance to the A type Pygora, though, of course, the Pygora is much softer.

Much like Julia felt while spinning her first skein on her gorgeous Rose, I wasn't so sure this skein would live up to my expectations. It seemed a little flat and blah and perhaps a bit too thick and thin, while plying up. Then when Laura (alas, no blog) pointed out that in my complete newbie haze I'd used my bobbin backwards, I though for sure I'd blown it. But beginners luck shined down upon me and this is what I pulled off the niddy noddy.

I don't know if it counts as "balanced" since it doesn't twist as a whole, but it does have little kinky bits in there. I would guess it'd be considered unbalanced in its constituent parts yet oddly balanced overall. But man, this is 152 yards of lofty goodness. At this unwashed state, it is just a big poof of orange yumminess. Do you see that other mini skein in back? That's the leftover Cotswold and the leftover BFL/Alpaca, plied together to clear off the two bobbins. There was more of the brown than the orange, so after I exhausted the Cotswold, I Andean plied the remaining BFL/Alpaca into the same skein. It's a pretty unattractive little skein but I just couldn't bring myself to simply toss the leftovers.

The big skein though? She is one sexy mama. I'll let the images do the talking. Just try not to love these.

Thank goodness I have an extensive stock of unspun fiber right now because if I didn’t I’d be buying up a whole bunch more of this roving.

September 29, 2006

Would that be H2O4?

I left Mumbai after a breakfast of coffee and toast and hopped a small plane to Pune. This involved another trek through various security check points. Not the least of which was the "Ladies' Frisking Booth." How's that for a friendly how do you do?

It wasn't nearly as exciting as it sounds. It's more your standard issue wanding by security.

After a short wait we were all bussed to our plane in which they'd piped the smooth sounds of musak. La Bamba played as I entered and began again right before we disembarked. I guess they save money by keeping the music rotation just about as long as the flight and pass the savings on to the customer.

I landed, collected my things and headed to the hotel.

Ahh the hotel.
Remember the view from my Mumbai room? Here's how it looks in the day:

Pretty,huh?

Here's my new view:

But it's got internet access, a shower and a bed, which should pretty much cover my needs. They also have the most amusing bottled water I've seen yet.


I don't find their water any more oxygen-y than any other I've had the pleasure to try but I'm reassured to know that it's got 300% more than "source water under standard testing conditions." Heaven knows, our doctors are always telling us to drink more oxygen in our diet.

But the amusement of reading water bottle labels wears off quickly which is where the internet access comes into play, and oh boy am I taking advantage of it. I'm not sure if it makes me more or less homesick, but Leo's been video conferencing with me when we're both awake. I don't have a web cam, but he and Panda do.

Panda doesn't love the web cam. It sort of confuses her to hear my voice coming out of, seemingly, nowhere

But that just makes her get all snuggly with Leo for reassurance.

I miss being with them but am glad they are doing well.

Well, it's time for me to try to catch a little shut eye. Yesterday, that was unexpectedly challenging. There's a festival going on right now, and my room is right next to a temple where they were blaring religious music most of the day. Luckily, I have a couple pairs of earplugs to help dull the noise.

Today and tomorrow, we have off and then it's back to the grind.

I hope to have something more interesting than airports and hotel room views to show you next time.

September 28, 2006

Where's my welcome wagon

Here I am, 14 hours after I left the house this morning, in the Frankfurt Lufthansa lounge. I don't know how many of you remember my last layover in Frankfurt, but I'm hoping this one is far less exciting. So far so good.

I haven't slept yet, so there has been knitting, there has been reading and there has been a bit of bad movie viewing. I'll probably grant myself a nap once the sleep deprivation hallucinations set in. Weeeee! Better than the free booze for entertainment. All this in hopes of getting close to the 12.5 hour time difference in India. I realize this may be an ill conceived plan as my work schedule these next two weeks is not yet finalized. I may end up actually needing to work a 9-5 PDT which is overnight in Pune.

In the mean time, Leo is taunting me with pictures and audio from home.

Nothing like a little puppy face to make you homesick.

Crappy segues brought to you by Jetlag® (A wholly owned subsidiary of Wonky Moods Inc.)

September 24, 2006

Great, now I have even more to miss

Well, it looks like I'm headed back to India for a couple weeks, starting on Wednesday or Thursday. So now, I will be away from Leo and Panda, my two little rays of sunshine AND El Matchador, my new constant companion (is it just me or does "constant companion" sound like a personal hygiene product?). I expect this trip to be much more intensive and less fun all around, but I still hope to make the best of it. I'm a touch nervous about going without anyone I know and as the sole representative for my company. But let's not talk about work, let's talk about freshly spun yarn.

The Red Maple roving worked up quickly at a nice thick and thin, mostly worsted weight yarn, once plied. Do you want to see something amazing? Here are the two bobbins after I finished plying them.

Please excuse the lighting, it was evening when I did the plying.

I had all of maybe 12-18 inches of singles on one bobbin when the other emptied. There was no planning, no trying, just magic. *sigh* It'll never happen again.

I thought the red purple would look nice against the cement of the back patio.

It's a thick and lofty yarn, with out too much spin, and the results are every bit as squoochy and sproingly as you'd want it to be. I already have plans for some of this.


Panda gives it a due air of elegance.

After the merino, I pulled out some more roving dyed by Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks (alas, still no website) that I bought from Carolina Homespun. The colorway is "Purple Haze" and it's a heavenly mix of purples and steel grays. The blend is Merino/Bombyx and I had 2 ounces worth.

I spun it up pretty finely because I wanted to try to use the Navajo Plying technique. For those who haven't tried it before, Navajo plying is a means of achieving a three ply yarn off a single bobbin by, in essence, working very long crochet chain stitches. It takes a touch of coordination, but with a little practice, it's actually quite fun. I started with some scrap yarn I had and got the motion down, before trying it with my new singles.

The results are nice; a nearly balanced 3 ply with lots of sheen and a soft hand.

There's a lot I'm going to miss while I'm away.

A lot indeed.

Went to OFFF today, will post about that soon.

September 22, 2006

Sometimes it takes someone visiting from out of state to get you out into your own neighborhood

After seeing MK Carroll's Knitty Gritty episode, I popped off a little comment to her and we started conversing. Turns out, she was going to be in my area, right about...well…now. So she invited me to a local Knitting Guild which offers two free visits for non-members. I went last night and had a great time. I met some lovely people, MK included, who made me feel incredibly welcome to my new town and who didn't act the least bit put off by my rather clumsy conversation and non sequiturs.

First, there was Amanda, who kindly welcomed me to her table when I showed up late and popped down in a corner. She was gracious enough to forgive me when I, in my infinite social nervousness, didn't recognize her name. Sorry! She just happened to be sitting next to MK and then introduced me to the rest of the table; Katrina, Chrissy and Donna one other woman whose name has escaped me but who should not take that as any reflection of my opinion of her. I'm still trying to find someone in Portland who is mean, but I'm not having any luck. To paraphrase Leo, who is paraphrasing someone else, "If you can't find the jerk in the group, chances are, it's you." I'm kidding of course, no need to fill my comments with reassurances.

Since I didn't take any pictures while there, I'll have to leave you with some Panda goodness instead.

Here's my little girl all curled up and sleeping on the couch, one chilly morning this week.

When she hangs out by the computer, Leo calls her our little firewall.

And here she is, realizing that she can see Leo on the other side of the window. He's taunting her and she's barking.

I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with "L."

October 9, 2006

Unwrapped

I only have a few minutes so I don't have much time for commentary other than to say that I think it looks wonderful.

And for those who asked, he confirmed that under the arm is, in fact, a very painful place to get a tattoo. Aww. But hopefully it was all worth the pain in the end.

5 hours getting stabbed - but he was asking for it

A little over 4 years ago, I designed and got a tattoo of a dragonfly on my back. I loved the little guy and I figured if I couldn't see it everyday, I'd be less likely to get sick of it. I think it worked. I still love seeing him hanging out back there.

marnietat.jpg

It got Leo thinking that he might like something himself. He asked me to think of some possible ideas. He knew he wanted something that had a female face, and he was thinking he might want an armband.

Now, I dabble in illustrating, but it is, by no means, my strong suit. I sketched, I used Illustrator, I submitted ideas to him and yet we kept coming up with misses, not hits. I'll be the first to say that no one should get a tattoo unless they feel 100% sure it's what they want and, luckily, Leo feels the same. Yet, I was beginning to think I'd never come up with a design that could meet his discriminating taste.

Finally, we hit on an idea that seemed perfect to him. Two female profiles facing each other with their hair intertwining around his arm. It was a design that we hasn't seen on anyone else (which is not to say that it hasn't been done, we just haven't seen it) and Leo thought he could love it enough to have it forever.

When I finalized the sketch and got it to where he thought it was perfect, he asked if I could include a Japanese character in the middle. I've take a little bit of Japanese before, so I knew enough to search for the character online and then look it up by it's radical to confirm the meaning. There's still a chance that it has some colloquial or slang meaning that may come back to haunt us, but I suppose that's the chance you take when you go getting tattoos in languages you don't really know.

Anyway, the characters should mean "lion" which is what Leonardo means as well. Leo jokes that it's as close as he gets to being between two women at one time. Ha! Funny, very funny.

You may recall that I said the designing happened over 4 years ago. We went to a few places in LA to see what it would cost but we it ended up just falling by the wayside. Over time it just seemed to be (I thought) forgotten.

Well, bruised, beaten, exhausted and bloodied, after 5 hours of continuous inking (he said she didn't even take a potty break) his tattoo is done, and from what I can see, it's amazing. Want to see it? Check the pics after the jump. If you are not so fond of the look of freshly tattooed skin under plastic wrap and tape, you can see the original illustration here.

Continue reading "5 hours getting stabbed - but he was asking for it" »

October 16, 2006

Home sweet home

Wow, I have been one lazy bum these past few days. I think my body had finally gotten used to being 12.5 hours off from PDT and coming back my mind just gave up on me and said "Forget it, you can just sleep ALL the time, for all I care." We went out for a really nice dinner on Friday night and caught some bands and clubs downtown, but it was an act of pure will power to stay awake. However, I wasn't a complete and utter bump on a log. El Matchador and I enjoyed a sweet sweet reunion.

The first thing I did was to finish plying my 4 ounces of Alpaca in the Iris colorway. There are about 315 yards of DK-ish weight 2-ply.

It was actually nice to start off with something as mindless as plying.
Once all my alpaca off the niddy noddy and hanging out to dry, I broke into some of my Merino/Silk in colorway Catalina.

Both fibers are from Janel's store

This skein is 2 ounces and is a 3 ply, using the Navajo plying method. There are about 190 yards and it's, more or less, worsted weight. I love this method of plying, but man am I good at getting it messed up. I had a few "ugly moments" in this skein. Let us not speak of it again.

I, of course, have more fiber on the wheel right now. I'll have to show you that some other time.

We did manage to get out of the house yesterday, to give Panda a proper run around the park. Our hope had been to go to the beach, but the weather, being Portland an all, wasn't quite suitable for such endeavors. This is not to say that it wasn't beautiful out, though. After 5 years in LA, I sort of forgot how beautiful drizzly autumn days could be.

We swung by Leo's office and I snapped pictures of the ducks in the little river near the parking lot.

And all around us, the trees were turning.

The overcast skies really make the colors pop by comparison.

With an adventurous spirit and a little luck, we even found a nice little park to let the girl run around.

It had an apple tree just overflowing with ripe fruit

And lovely little roses giving their last blooms before winter.

I love that Portland offers some of the vivid colors of autumn that I remember from New Hampshire, but offers mild enough weather to sustain roses. Talk about the best of all worlds!

October 27, 2006

First carved pumpkin

Leo has never carved a pumpkin or had roasted pumpkin seeds before. Who knew? So last night, I sketched out a design and Leo used his brawn and patience to produce this:

Isn't he great?

And the pumpkin seeds? That's my department.

Roasted in a little butter and olive oils with salt, pepper and onion powder.

Meanwhile, I've been doing a little spinning. I haven't mentioned much about it recently, partly because El Matchador and I have had a couple ugly moment recently. There were some tension issues.
Let's be honest, these issues were my fault and I'm a big enough person to admit it. Wheels just weren't meant to spin with a mercerized cotton drive band. When I switched to a synthetic one that I had picked up a few weeks ago, it was as though the heavens opened up and angels began to sing. Another "oh duh!" moment for Marnie.

I haven't even calculated how much yardage I have here but it's a Merino/Tencel blend in a colorway called Sandstone. I bought it at Carolina Homespun, while on my road trip to Oregon. It's relatively fine, maybe a sport weight overall.

And here it is with my unblogable work, basking in a sun beam with Panda.

October 24, 2006

Scenic

I feel like I haven't had much in the way of craftiness to offer you guys lately. That probably won't change much in the next couple of weeks. I'm knee deep in unbloggable stuff and even El Matchador is feeling the slight. I do, however, have some Panda cuteness and Pacific Northwest autumnal beauty. If that sounds interesting to you, keep-a-scrolling!

Sunday, we decided that Panda was well overdue for some running around and chasing the "squirrel". We didn't make it as far as the beach, just over to the same park we visited, not so very long ago.

It was a gorgeous day, mild, sunny, perfect for wearing out a high energy dog.

That toy got a nice coating of slobber.

Once Panda was exhausted (or at least in need of a break,) I took to wandering around the park and snapping pictures. I could fill this blog with the pictures I took. There are pear trees, apple trees, berries of all sorts, all just growing in a tiny little park tucked away in Portland.


There's a colorway in here somewhere.

As we were heading back home, Leo and I decided that maybe we should take advantage of the beautiful day and do some sight seeing. Since it was relatively warm and Panda was a bit tuckered out, we decided to drop her off at home.

From there, we just took off.

In the areas we drove around, yellow and a touch of red really dominate the autumn colors. I don't recall seeing much orange at all. This part of Oregon is greener than I recall New Hampshire being, when I lived there, and it's definitely warmer.

 

Aww, those pumpkins look so delicious pretty.

And since it is a lovely October day, we had to stop by a pumpkin patch. While I love those vivid orange pumpkins, we got ourselves a classic one. The plan? We'll carve him up, rip out his guts and bake up the seeds, Then we'll stick a burning flame in him, set him out for the kids to gawk at and, Leo plans to smash him after Halloween. Somehow, it all seemed less violent when we originally discussed the idea.

Moo!

 

All of this, within an hour's drive from our humble little home. We were back before Panda finished her nap.

November 4, 2006

Shakin' my bon-bon

Last night, Leo and I met up with a local group who tries different restaurants in Portland, every two weeks. This time, we went to Eleni's Philoxenia a Greek WONDERLAND of food yumminess. Great googily moogily, this meal was good.

After eating ourselves stupid, and smelling not unlike Gilroy, California, we went for some Salsa dancing at Andrea's Cha-Cha Club. When I say "we" went salsa dancing, it's in the royal sense. We don't salsa dance, I salsa dance. Leo mans the camera and tends to the people watching.

While I doubt the eau de garlic was a scent my dance partners hoped would be wafting over them, I couldn't help but have a grand old time cutting a rug.

I kind of think this blurry one is the most flattering of the bunch.

I guess this one looks a little bit more like it's actually me.

Dancing a cha-cha. I had a little trouble following this guy's lead and he kept insisting on counting aloud. It was a little bit of a train wreck.

Despite his mullet he was a very good dancer. Oh and he has a mullet, my god, I haven't seen one of those since New Hampshire!

We danced until about midnight before calling it quits and heading home to bed.

While Andrea's doesn't have quite the crowd I remember from my favorite Salsa clubs in Boston and LA, it comes as close as I've been able to find since coming to Portland. We've hit a few other spots that are nicer to look at but lack the sort of regulars that can really hold their own. Apparently, Tango is rather popular here and I may have to give it a shot, but for now, I've found a place to get my salsa fix.

December 16, 2006

Getting a little work done

No, I didn't augment my T&A (heaven knows the "A" doesn't need any help), no I got a little work done on my tattoo.

Some of you might remember that Leo got a tattoo recently. Well, my little tattoo was several years old and in need of a 30000 mile tune up, so we headed back to Lady Luck for a fun filled night of needles and blood.

I've always liked my little tattoo, which I designed to be something with absolutely no emotional, symbolic or in any way special meaning to me. Thinking back to what was meaningful to me at, say, 15, I'm certainly glad I didn't put Edgar Allen Poe or The Vampire Lestat on my body. What's important to me now may have little meaning to me in another 15 years. So to be sure I'd not suffer "buyer's remorse" in the ensuing year, I decided on something I thought would be pretty, and placed it in a spot that I didn't have to look at every day. The combo of the two has held up well for me so far. A little fresh coat of paint ups the joy even more.

The artist who worked on both Leo's and my tattoo is Jea'nine.

She reworked my tattoo for over an hour.

Did I mention I didn't need any augmentation in the "A" department?

When the work was done, and the entire staff had popped by to look at my tush finished tattoo, the results were more beautiful than I could have hoped.

She cleaned up all the fuzziness and really emphasized the gradation in the wings. It was even better than I could have hoped. I'm sure in time, it will fade a bit and soften, but at least I know I always have a reliable place to go to get her back to her former beauty. I love it.

She bandaged me up and sent me home with my care instructions. Luckily, I never sleep on my back so it was a restful evening.

The next morning I had a little rinse and a touch of A&D Lotion, and one more photo shoot, slightly less bloodied and red.

So if you are in the Portland area and looking to get inked or pierced, I can recommend Lady Luck highly. I've already started some sketches for what I'd like to do next.

November 20, 2006

The tide is high but I'm holding on

Well, it was another great weekend for me in Portland. This is probably not what anyone who watches the weather station would guess. We've been getting rains of epic proportions. I'm pretty sure I saw an old guy, two misguided daughters and a bunch of animals on a boat, floating down the street. Actually, I think we've been relatively lucky, our house is on high enough ground that we haven't had any flooding in our general proximity and every day has patches of glorious sunshine. I'm not complaining. And since this is abnormally bad weather, I haven't felt the pang of mover's remorse.

Saturday was dry and lovely and a perfect evening to step out for some Salsa. Thanks to PDX Woman I had the good fortune to find Aztec Willies.

You'll have to excuse the crappy photo, we brought the camera, but no memory card, so this was taken with a camera phone.

I decided to take the lesson to warm myself up, and then dance until Leo is ready to pass out. There was a live band, and the place was absolutely packed. I had a grand time. We finished the evening with some tacos and went to bed so we could wake up early and bring Panda to the beach.

See all the pictures from the beach, after the jump.

Continue reading "The tide is high but I'm holding on" »

December 24, 2006

Best looking beach bunnies

Both Leo and I have a 4 day weekend so we decided we would take the little poopers to the beach, come hell and especially come high water. She really digs that. We bundled up on the first relatively dry day, and packed into the car.

Cannon Beach has really been our beach of choice if only because it's the closest one for us to go to. So a lot of these pictures will give the regular reader of this blog, a vague sense of déjà vu all over again once more...again.

It was a brisk day with a light breeze and nary a drop of rain. Perfect weather for a game of doggy tennis.*

All the fun was set against a gorgeous foggy backdrop.

But Panda is a bright girl and she knows a dog cannot live on tennis alone.

Bring on the SQUIRREL!

I got it in my head that we really needed a "family" photo for once, so I propped up the camera and set the timer.

Attempt number two was foiled by a bad case of "shake the squirrel."

Maybe today wasn't the day for a family photo.

Back in the car, just out of the beach parking, we saw a field of bunnies. I all but leaped from the moving vehicle and ordered Leo and Panda to find a place to park for a moment.

The bunnies, they are very cute. I crouched down and tried to get a good photo, when suddenly, one began bounding full speed ahead at me.

Being the entirely sane and not-at-all-girly person that I am, my initial reaction was "OH GOD! I'm about to be attacked by a charging WILD ANIMAL!" I stepped back. And then reality tapped me gently on the shoulder and mentioned that it was a bunny rabbit, nearly domesticated, and probably unlikely to prevail in hand to hand combat.

Having regained my momentary lack of composure, I was able to get some rather fetching, if I do say so myself, photos of the little chap.

Ahhh, all weekends should be 4-days long and full of such joy. Here's hoping all of you are having just as much, or more fun.

*Doggy tennis involves two people standing relatively far apart and each calling said doggy, in turn, so that she must run back and forth until she tires her cute little butt out a little.

December 4, 2006

PDX again

So I didn't get to go to San Francisco this weekend. It's sad, but Leo and I were not going to let the weekend go to waste. On Friday, we met up with the bi-weekly Restaurant Roulette group to try an Ethiopian restaurant named Queen of Sheba. The food was delicious, the atmosphere; not so much. But, if you forgo any drinks, you can eat for about $10 a person and be pretty full. It's communal finger food, so bring someone whose cooties you don't mind getting or already have.

After a long week of working, Leo and I didn't make it out after dinner. We headed home and hit the sack. I've started a new book *sigh,* it is wonderful. If you are one of the 3 people who hasn't read it yet, pick it up. I'm supplementing this with some nonfiction, or a reasonable facsimile. With topics like String Theory and Quantum Mechanics, we move into the realm of scientific philosophy, which may or may not be classified as nonfiction. Feel free to let loose with your own thoughts on the topic.

On Saturday, we hit our favorite little hippy bar for some live music, good munchies and a pint.

Someone offered to take our picture for us and told me to do something silly.
So I did.

But lest you think I'm a face licking freak, I do have proof of my better behavior, or as itty bitty Marnie would have said "I am being ha(i)ve!"

But let me tell you, for all the excitement of coming home to see the ones I love, I'm embarrassed to admit how exceedingly excited I was to get this.

That's right, it's a WooLee Winder, in the flesh...er...timber.

There was a slow start with my new toy. You see, the WooLee Winder works by way of a pair of gears; one on the bobbin and the other on the flyer. The two must engage in order to wind the yarn onto the bobbin. The whorls I have for El Matchador, appear to be hand machined and while they fit just fine for the purposes of general spinning, they leave a bit of a gap between the bobbin and whorl that causes the gears to barely touch and producing a noticable off balance load onto the bobbin. It's also distractingly loud. This is not a fault with the WooLee Winder. The gap was present on my old flyer as well. It looks a little something like this:


You can actually see my first attempt at filling the void, as well. It’s your standard issue rubber band. OK, but not great.

After a few nearly near catastrophic attempts to make the whorl opening wide enough to properly fit the flyer, I decided it was best I come at this from another angle. I'm not sure how many of you have read my two part series on stitch markers (if you are suffering from insomnia, this may be just the ticket!) but I've found yet another use for some of my most favorite stitch markers.

With three of my black rubber stitch markers, the whole system works like a dream. I have to apply a lot more tension with the break to get the bobbin to take up any yarn, but it sure beats trying to re-machine my whorls with a screwdriver and hammer. SHHHH! I know it was a bad idea, just be glad I’m not showing a broken whorl in this post.


I've been spinning some of my beautiful silk/merino blend that I picked up at Stitches West. The overall color is a soft sage green but spun very fine, the other colors really shine through.

The overall effect is still a soft green but more neutralized, with flecks of red and yellow glimmering through. It's hard to get a really great picture of the yarn that shows the color, but it's lovely indeed.

I haven't had a lot of luck working with these types of vertical color blends in the past, it always seemed like the color changed too abruptly and never looked quite right. But I think I've found a technique that normalizes the results a bit. Basically I use a fairly wide strip of roving, maybe 1/2 or 1/3 the total diameter of the roving as it comes. Then, I work the fibers into yarn by splaying them slightly and allowing the drafting zone to move right to left across the unspun roving. Does that make any sense? Perhaps I'll need to enlist my sweet Leo to help me take pictures when I'm back in Portland.

I think I'll still see some color variance from length to length of the yarn, but less so than if I had worked the fiber as I normally do — from a pencil sized diameter of roving — which would have given far more variance from section to section.

Ok, this is about as rambling and disjointed as any post I've made in recent history, so I'll sign off for now.

January 16, 2007

Haystack Rock

We've driven to Cannon Beach on several occasions in the past, but have always entered on the northern side at Ecola Park.

Here's a little Google Map satellite view of our normal route. The water line has been really high lately so there's normally not this much sand, but you get the idea.

Sunday, we went this route in hopes of finally getting to see that rock we're always taking pictures of.

Well, the day could not have been more beautiful and we have the pictures to prove it.

See them all here.

And if you want a little laugh, check out Panda's diversion, en route to the beach, after the bump.

Continue reading "Haystack Rock" »

January 1, 2007

Panda happy new year

Those of you who have been visiting my site for a while may recall that Leo only celebrates holidays that involve lots of fun having and which are, basically, secular. This means that Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year's top the list, with a nod to Valentine's day and, of course, a month for my Birthday. However, that last one is more mandated by the relationship than anything.

Since the plan was to have a rocking good time, I made sure that Panda got a nice long walk during the day.

Does anyone notice that besides the lovely view and adorable dog, there is also a new FO in this picture? A few of you have asked for the stitch pattern, but I plan to do you one better and post the whole hat pattern soon. The stitch is from one of the Barbara Walker books, but I'll have to dig back through to get the exact name. More on all that to come, in the future.

So back to the evening's events. Having moved to Portland, late in the year, we were a bit behind the eight ball in coming up with plans. We really didn't know where we'd wanted to go, because we hadn't really been anywhere and once we decided where we might like to go, all the options appeared to be filled up. Thus ensued a mad romp about the internet in search of options.

Leo found this posting online.

Tango lessons, a 5 course meal and Cirque Du Soleil style acrobatics; it all sounded like a perfect evening.

Well, it wasn't quite what we expected. The reservation secured us a spot at one of the wedding/prom style communal tables for 8 and a chance to visit the buffet and purchase wine by the glass from the bar. While the performers were excellent, much of it happened closer to terra ferma than we expected, so we missed a great deal of it. It wasn't a bad evening, but we still felt it was pretty oversold in the flier.

Oh and there may have been the slight issue in determining where the event was held. The picture above tells you all about the event, but not where it is. Combing their site, I managed to determine where they were performing on December 31st, which just happened to be 37 blocks from the event we had tickets for and lucky us, having taken public transportation in to the city, we found ourselves in a mini-predicament. All that got sorted out with an inexpensive cab ride, though it did put us pretty far from any means of getting home again. Oh, and we'd been warned that starting at about 9PM it would be about a 2-3 hour wait for a cab if we needed it, so if we wanted to take a cab back to the train, we were probably out of luck. Ooops.

Once seated, Leo took to procuring wine and I met our new friends.

That adorable couple would be Erica and Larry. It's a good thing they are gregarious because I am one of those shy folks who probably wouldn't have said a word if they hadn't been so outgoing. That would have been my loss because they are delightful dinner companions.

Most of the evening's performances were set to tango-like music.

Though, I swear, one piece was done to an instrumental version of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters."

After dinner, there was a tango lesson. I did manage to guilt Leo into a few minutes of dancing with me. But when he lost interest, I began my rounds as the dance floor floozy; dancing with both dance instructors, some old Russian man named Alex, whose wife was getting pointers from one of the instructors, and finally a last dance with Larry, who had taken pity on me and my dance addiction. But I can stop any time. I can.

While watching some more floor shows, we heard a rushed "Four...Three...Two...ONE!" and realized it was now officially 2007 in our time zone.

A big wet smooch and hug and then we bid 2006 a fond farewell.

At this point, we began scheming about our plans to get home. Do we see if we can catch a bus back downtown? Do we even know which direction downtown is? Can we walk to a train station? None of that was necessary, instead, Larry and Erica invited us to join them for wine at their place and we jumped at the chance. They'd been so much fun to talk to AND they'd get us close to public transportation and cabs. What good fortune for us.

They have the most lovely and immaculate place in the Pearl. Did I mention is was also impeccably clean? Dear lord! I can understand having your place in order when you plan to invite folks over, but who the hell has their house that perfect just for normal every day living? Damn them!

We kept them up for another few hours, Erica and I talking fondly of road trips and pets, the guys discussing, who-knows-what.

At nearly 3AM, we decided we'd imposed ourselves long enough and began our voyage back to little Panda and the warmth of our home sweet home. But I don't think that's the last we'll see of them.

It may not be what we expected but it was a great way to start the year.

January 10, 2007

We interupt this regularly scheduled lunch break to bring you...WEATHER

How can you tell the recent transplant from LA to Oregon? She's the one, in her jammies, taking picture of precipitation. It's ridiculous, really, I grew up with this stuff but after 6 years of eternal sunshine, there is something a bit novel about it.

First thing this morning, Leo scraped the frozen snowy slush off his windshield, while Panda and I watched from the front window, remaining toasty and warm.

But it was NOTHING compared to the 30 minutes of frozen rainy, hail stuff that we just got.

Panda is annoyed that I'm asking her to sit for this picture when she could be romping and smelling said rain.



It looks like it would hurt, but it's really like little fluffy snowballs; very light and quick to melt.


And as soon as it started, it was done. The sun is beaming now and most of what came down has melted away.
This is winter I can live with.

February 7, 2007

Another great day at the beach

You may all be getting sick of Cannon Beach pictures, but we never get sick of going, and, of course, it's Panda's most favorite place, being so full of water, sand and fetch. What's so great is that the beach is clean, there are hardly any crowds and there seems to be minimal rip current to pull our cutie pup under the waves.

We are continuing our quest south down the beach, this time starting from haystack rock. You can see all the pictures from the beach, by going to this page.

Beach going is one part sight seeing to two parts fetch.

A stick carved by some sort of wood loving creepy crawly.



Fetch!


The mist rising up around Haystack rock. This time the tide was too high to reach the rock without aid of some sort of kayak or large burly man to carry you.



Fetch!


Seagulls walking along the beach.



Fetch and resting with the squirrel until someone throws it again.

It's all very tiring yet satisfying work, as I'm sure you can imagine. However, there are risks. Getting to this tree stump was far easier than getting away.


There was no water near that thing when he climbed up. We weren't sure if he'd make it home or if we'd just have to leave him there.
He planned, though, since he had the car keys, we decided to wait out the flood.

April 2, 2007

Lacking the requisite fear for survival

Well, it was another truly lovely weekend here in Portland. At some point, am I supposed to stop liking this place? It hasn't happened yet. There just always seems to be something fun to do

On Friday,we celebrated Larry and Erica's 1st wedding anniversary. Their 12th (going steady?) anniversary is in May. This means that I must joke that they are newlyweds all night, because that never gets old.

When Leo and I arrived at the restaurant, Erica and Larry were well into their celebration. We agreed that all of us (except Erica) would have some super hot oyster shooters. Yum but with a long and painful burn. Leo, he of little forethought, ordered two for himself and realized the second would only add to his current level of pain.

On Sunday, we went back to Cannon Beach to give Panda some much needed running around. We go for walks during the week, but nothing takes the place of running around the beach for a few hours. This is also when we get to the part of the story where I explain the title, but before we go there, I must show the obligatory scenic shots. To save load time on the home page, all the pictures are in the extended entry, after the jump.

Continue reading "Lacking the requisite fear for survival" »

April 11, 2007

Water a-fallin'

Leo, Panda and I went on an amazing hike and beautiful drive, this past Saturday. Our original intention was to go to Mt Hood and enjoy its splendor, but we got sidetracked and by sidetracked I mean that Leo didn't believe the maps, GPS, or various signs on the road, that Mt Hood was that-a-way, not this-a-way. But who cares, where we ended was more beautiful than I could have hoped.

It was rainy and cloudy, but hardly a drop fell while we hiked and no one, not even Miss Pukey Pants herself, got sick in the car. In my book, that's a winner of a day, all around.

Want to see a bunch of the pictures (not all, I took nearly 200)? If so, just clicky right here.

May 15, 2007

Konichiwa Crochet

I'm almost always a guest, never a host. Our home is small and lacking in furniture and it's not just anyone I'd subject to a single small (very small) bathroom shared between three adults. But when Julia said she'd be in town for work, I vacuumed up the dog hair and gave the tub an extra scrub. We had us a guest in town!

Recently, Julia has decided to learn crochet in earnest and her enthusiasm is infectious. On a recommendation we found our way to a huge Japanese market replete with...wait for it...a Japanese BOOK STORE. Great googily moogily! Their selection of crochet books was small but packed full of goodness.

There may have also been some shopping at a couple LYSs and the opportunity to meet a really great blogger and designer. Have yarn, will craft, and there was no dearth of that. In the 3 days that Julia and I spent together, not a single solitary picture was taken until the third and final day. Luckily for you, it was the most photogenic day of the lot.

Early that day, we packed the car up for a trip to Horsetail falls. If you read my non-crafty posts, you may remember our last visit, not too long ago.

The day was perfect for hiking. It was a little cool, but not so much as to require substantial outerwear. The sun was out but shaded by some light and poofy clouds. Didn't we agree they were Stradivarius clouds or were they igneous, Julia?

Leo was doggy wrangler for the day. It's no small feat to keep two dogs from intertwining on leash especially when one of them is just a pup. They were each other's yin and yang. Panda would duck every time someone would try to pet her. She wanted nothing more than solitude from everyone she didn't know. Thea, on the other hand, wanted to jump all over every person and dog we passed (and there were many people celebrating Mother's day by hiking on these beautiful trails). Between these two extremes was our handsome hero, dragging one girl ahead and holding another back. Me thinks we have some more training to do.

On the drive home, I crocheted from my new Japanese crochet book. This little wonder is chock full of sweet motifs. While the book is all in Japanese, everything is charted which makes them delightful to use. The yarn? My lovely peachy Merino/viscose handspun, from Chameleon Colorworks. The viscose gives a subtle sheen and the brilliant dyeing gives depth to the simple colorway. When you see the yarn, it's clear the spinning is average, at best, but the fiber was so beautiful to start with that I can't help but be proud of the final product.

Blocked, the finished pieces look like snowflakes.
What am I going to do with them? Perhaps a doggy babushka.

Perhaps not.
I have more — what's the word — sane ideas. I don't have enough yardage to do a whole garment in this yarn (unless I want to go particularly scantily clad) but it could be paired with another handspun or store bought yarn in some creative way. All that is still in deliberation.

After our long hike and short ride home, I took a marathon nap and then arose with ample time to join Julia at Lake Park for a photo shoot. I'll leave those pictures for her to post. Instead, check out the fresh batch of ducky goodness from the same outing.

They can give me avian flu, any old day. I just want to scoop them up and snuggle them.

And now, Julia is back at home with all her fur balls. And all that's left is the now deflated air mattress where she was set up. Thea payed homage to Miss Tuna in Julia's absence. I think that's Thea's way of saying she was glad to meet her.

It was a great weekend and I hope there will be more like it soon. And someday, we'll own a house with more than one bathroom and a proper spare bedroom. I'm dreamin' big, baby.

June 17, 2007

And then their boat got hit by lightening

My cousin, Allen, and his wife, Cora, have been living on their boat for, what, a year and a half, and chronicling their adventures on their blog. (Actually, they've been living on their boat for much longer, but they were docked in San Fransisco before.) They've traveled to Honduras, Panama and many ports of the US. Crazy stuff. Recently, their boat got hit by freakin' lighting. They are fine, the boat, not so much.

Personally, I'm equal parts in awe and perplexed by how they do it and how they don't end up killing each other in such tight quarters. Still, if they didn't do it, I wouldn't be able to read about it.

If you are up for some fun and hilarious reading, head on over and drop them a comment.

July 2, 2007

September Glow

Well, El Matchador has been purring like a kitten and helped me produce another little skein of delicious yarn.

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Specs

  • Fiber: 90% Cotswold / 10% Silk (the white bits)
  • From: Nistock Farms.
  • Color: September Glow: Shades of gingerbread cookies with orange and raspberry sorbet.
  • WPI: About 20. It's a little inconsistent, leaning mostly a bit lighter, though some areas are a little thicker. The silk also tends to form nubs.
  • Length: Over 225 yards.
  • Spun on: Schacht Matchless wheel (El Matchador to you)
  • Plies: 2, plied off of two bobbins until one ran out, then switched to Andean plying to avoid waste.
  • Impressions: I just love spinning this fiber. The batts are well prepared with only the smallest amounts of vegetable matter. The fiber is not too slippery, and has a lovely sheen. It's not really next to the skin soft, but it's not all that rough either. The colors are divine. I'm looking forward to spinning up more.

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For the first time, I have washed but not weighted my yarn. This skein did get a rather good beating against the pole, but otherwise, she is unmanipulated. Apparently, there are two rather strong camps on this topic. Some people are weighers and some are not. I imagine there are good reasons for both. If I had to guess as to why you shouldn't weigh, it would be that weighing might give a false sense of balance that would then be undone the next wash the yarn (probably in knit or crochet form) went through. But that's just a guess. What do you all have to say? Anyway, after soaking in some warm water and Eucalan, and a couple thwacks before it dries, the yarn seems pretty darn balanced.

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Recently June posted about Spinning Spider Jenny. If you haven't found her, and you are a spinner, go find her now. She's a wealth of information. Jenny happened to post about her method of 2-plying. Alas, I didn't read it until mere hours after I had completed my yarn, but next time I'm definitely going to try this method. It seems rather like common sense but it's sheer brilliance to me.

In entirely unrelated news, we found another great hiking site for the girls, and this is only 5 minutes from home!

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There's a lovely place called MacLeay Park (I like to think it's a typo and should actually end in an "n" instead of "y.") in Portland that feels like its 100 miles from the closest city.

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It was a gorgeous day, though perhaps a bit hotter than we are all used to. Thank goodness we've evolved so as not to be covered in hair. How do dogs do it? It's funny, though, both girls showed some unexpected personality changes that day.

Thea, our normally fearless (seriously) hero, decided that wooden bridges were the scariest thing EVER.
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With a little coaxing and encouragement, she got a bit better, a good thing, because we crossed a good many of them, but she definitely wasn't loving them. Each time we'd reach one, she'd pull on the emergency break, I'd run across the bridge and call her and she'd muster up her courage and then bolt across. Silly monkey.


And Ms. Panda, our normally indifferent and withdrawn wallflower, suddenly decided she needed to keep an eye on Thea and defend her against dominant (not aggressive, dominant) dogs.
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She was fine with this little ball of happiness, but Panda tried to get a little b*tchy with some other bigger dogs. That's definitely something we're going to have to work on. We definitely don't want a dog that's going to be picking fights. That's no fun.

But don't let those two issues lead you to believe we didn't have a great time. It was gorgeous. You can see all of the photos from the hike here.

August 27, 2007

A sort of anniversary

A year ago today, Julia and I were in the redwoods on our way from LA to Portland, Oregon.
I had just spent a month away from Panda and Leo, who'd moved up to Portland to start his new job.

After a couple weeks at Julia's house, and much planning we hit the road for our scenic and spinny adventure. There is no event quite like a road trip to get one past the "close acquaintance" stage right to friend. It's hard not to bust out laughing as we regale ourselves and anyone else who will listen, with stories from our adventures.

I'll forever hold a warm space in my heart for the Ravenwood, even though there was no running water when we awoke.

And I still remember the gorgeous fog over the ocean, surrounded by redwoods. Who wouldn't bust out into full dorkatude?

We nearly skipped Crater Lake, after some set backs and delays, but we made it and it's as breathtaking as everyone says it is.

And best of all, I have been able to live in beautiful Portland, Oregon. I love it up here, though I miss all my friends in LA. Julia makes for a great road trip companion and I would do it again in a heartbeat.


I've been doing a bit more than my usual reading and all of it has been good, so I thought I'd share my recommendations.

On the nightstand


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Actually, that's not the current cover for SI. The current one covers AIDS deniers. The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a real hoot and sure to offend almost anyone. I'm glad to call myself a Pastafarian, rAmen! Guards Guards is currently my top reading to keep me from reading too much of what I'm...

...Savoring


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Need I say more? I don't want it to end.

Recently finished


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I really love Michael Shermer's books and articles and The Science of Good and Evil is no exception. He's also the publisher of Skeptic, to which I subscribe.
My mother lent me Middlesex and it was indeed funny, touching, thoughtful and moving. I generally shy away from books that are highly publicized and I'm not a fan of all of Oprah's suggestions, (yes, I'm one of those wet blankets who isn't into the whole The Secret phenomenon.*) but this book is definitely worth a read.




* That is, I don't believe in a magical force that brings luck and money to people who really want it.
However there is evidence to suggest that people who believe they are lucky are more likely to do things like enter drawings and raffles or build their social and business network which can result in more fortunate outcomes.

September 3, 2007

Lovely long weekend

Leo and I have put this labor day weekend to good use, if I do say so myself. Since we are renting a house, it's always a struggle to decide how much time and money we should invest in beautification of our humble abode. It's a great little place, but after years of being rented, there's a lot that has gone neglected. This is not the loving little first home, it was originally built to be, but a way point in the lives of folks like Leo and me. Still, never one to shy away from a little hard work, Leo has decided we should get things tidied up, so on Saturday and Monday, we shoveled, we weeded, we hauled masses of toppled brick and we planted a little flower garden that we hope we'll stick around long enough to see bloom once, and only once, before buying our own home. But Sunday, we put aside our shovels and spades and seeds and bulbs and packed up our car for a trip to Manzanita Beach.

On the way, we listened to Harry Potter and I got in a little knitting.

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This skirt remains my one mindless piece of knitting, that I can plug away on when I don't want to have to worry about row counters and lace patterns and other distractions.

We were expecting some serious crowds at the beach, and places like Cannon Beach and Hug Point, were, indeed, crowded, but Manzanita proved to be an ideal spot. While there were many people, we never felt crowded or cramped.

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The girls had a wonderful time and Thea is really starting to come into her own. Slowly, Thea is building her recall and we are able to keep her off leash for longer without incident. She's still so filled with social excitement that I wouldn't trust her implicitly, the way I do Panda, but she's proving to be a wonderful little girl.

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After a quick stop over at Blue Heron to pick up some provisions, we went back to Manzanita and set up camp. We are currently conducting reconnaissance in preparation for a bigger excursion with our friends; Erica and Larry and Jackie and her pup Tulip.

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Leo is in charge of setting up the fire.

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I am in charge of proving that pups will do almost anything for salami.

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Thea was a little scared of the fire at first. Can you see her hiding behind the log?

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But she came around after a little while.

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We attempted to take a family portrait, by way of self timer.

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Twas not so successful.

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And as the sun set and the air got a little cooler, my ample tush proved excellent insulation for the not-so-little one.

See more pictures over at Flickr.

October 24, 2007

Various and sundry topics

Lots more pictures of Giselle, including the cropped version, over here.

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See some beautifully retouched photos here.


Leo has been making jack-o-lanterns and I have been toasting the seeds.

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The pirate is getting a little long in the tooth, after a week outside. The orange one is new. It weighed almost 40lbs before being gutted. That's how much each of the pups weigh.


If the weather stays relatively mild, we'll be getting a lot more cosmos.

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The bees like em

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Is there anything sweeter?

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November 11, 2007

Snow

We drove to Mt. Hood today.

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It's hard to take a bad picture of such a beautiful mountain, but with the bright blue sky, it was all the more gorgeous.


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The girls were anxious to get to our destination.


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We went to Timberline and hiked up one of the trails. There wasn't that much snow so the skiing was sparse, but there were quite a few people hiking and sledding near the base of the trail.


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Panda mostly wanted to roll in the snow. The deeper the snow, the happier she was.


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Thea wanted to run around like a maniac and eat snow.

A truly fabulous outing.

See all the pictures here.

November 28, 2007

What I did with my long weekend

I know I'm a little late to be reporting about my weekend. But these pictures are making me happy right now and I want to share.

I finally finished the piece I've been knitting for Donna Druchunas' upcoming book. We were all asked to incorporate one of Dorothy Reade's lace patterns into an original design. I love this sort of challenge. I find I'm far more creative when I have some sort of rule or limitation.

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I wish I could show you the whole thing but this teaser will have to do for now. The yarn is Lorna's Laces, Lion and Lamb. And the wee buttons? Those are vintage. I just love old buttons. I've been slowly amassing (maybe more of an "asmattering") a little collection of vintage buttons.

Completing this piece basically frees me of all deadline knitting. There is actually one other small item I need to knit but it's, as I said, small and I expect it to be rather fun, too.

I do have a substantial amount of pattern writing to do now, though. It's never as much fun as the designing and knitting but I guess it's what they pay me for, right?


On Saturday, Leo and I walked around downtown Portland a bit. We live about 10 minutes from downtown, but for the sake of our savings accounts, we don't go terribly often.

Obviously, most shops were a mob scene, this weekend, but we weren't terribly bothered by it. The air was crisp, there was no rain and very little wind. Just gorgeous.

I love how the sidewalks get stained by the fallen leaves.

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Hi, I'm the weird girl who photographs the sidewalk, how are you today?

When one stops staring at her toes, the stuff higher up looks pretty darn nice too.

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Check out THAT hottie.

November 23, 2007

A totally traditional Thanksgiving

The other day, we went to the grocery store to get t-day supplies. The thing is, the meat section smelled liked an outhouse. We decided not to get a turkey there. We meant to get one elsewhere, but that didn't happen.

That's OK, because we didn't really think we'd be cooking on the holiday. Instead, we made plans to meet up with some of our friends for some fun on the beach with the pups.

The day was perfect. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and cool and without any wind. Lovely day. The only problem is that Panda was getting over a cold and Leo decided that we couldn't risk her getting worse.

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I can't believe I'm writing this, but Panda had to -- *sob* -- stay home. I still feel guilty.

Larry, Erica, Leo, Thea, and I, made our way to the Oregon coast. We started our day with breakfast. I, of course, had the Crabcakes Benny.

Then, we headed over to Seaside for a bit of fetch.

Larry threw the squirrel.

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Leo threw the squirrel.

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Erica threw the squirrel.

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Thea is a very happy pup. And heck, we're just happy that our friends want to entertain the little beast a bit.

Thea started to slow down some, until she met this beautiful dog, Cocoa.

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Much chasing ensued.


We headed up to Ecola State Park and saw an Elk along the way.

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She was just hanging out in someone's yard. Erica said the rest of the herd were on the other side of the road, but we didn't notice.


At Ecola, we enjoyed the scenery.

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I don't think it gets much more beautiful than this.

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I really do wish that Panda had been in this picture. I guess we'll just have to drag Larry and Erica out again for another romp on the beach.

Before we called it quits, we dropped by Manzanita, to ensure a thoroughly pooped pup.

We met the first dog ever who didn't fall madly in love with Thea.

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This little Italian Greyhound puppy sought the security of humans to save him from Thea. Don't you just want to scoop him up kiss his little cheek?

There are tons more pictures over here, if you want to see them.



After a little more play, we all headed home, with a quick stop for coffee and pie on the way. Once home, I cooked up some mashed potatoes and stuffing, to round out the day. Hey, I told you it was a totally traditional Thanksgiving.

Hope that wherever you are, you had as lovely a day as I did. Next time, though, I want Panda there too.

December 17, 2007

A weekend of goodily goodness

Panda is today's Grown-Up Daily Pup.


*Sigh* I had so much fun this weekend that I'm all the more sad it's Monday. On Friday, Leo and I watched bad movies while I spun up my batt of sparkly BFL that I got from Amy back at the Fiber Frolic, in Maine.

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Photos never do sparkly things justice, so take my word for it, when I say it looks lovely without being garish, almost like it was lightly sprinkled with silver dust. I spun the singles up and then plied it into a 3-ply using the Navajo plying method. The photos are pre-wash and thwack. I have about 98 yards of approximately DK weight yarn. I will definitely work this into something, but what, I'm not sure.


On Saturday night, we celebrated a friend's birthday by going out for dinner and playing pool...very very poorly. If any of you watch the American version of The Office, it's like when Kelly and Pam played ping-pong. That certainly didn't take away from the fun.
Actually, it probably made it more fun. The best part is, I got to flip off a hummer.

Awesome.


If that weren't all good enough, on Sunday, we packed up the girls (who were feeling plenty stir crazy with all the rain we've gotten) and headed to Mt. Hood for a good hike in the snow.

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See all the pictures here.

December 26, 2007

Beautiful Christmas Day

Christmas day, we slept in late, then donned our winter wear for another trip to Mt Hood National Forest.

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Thea spent the whole ride there, looking out the back window. Whenever we'd stop, both girls would cry with excitement, hoping we'd be getting out and into the snow.

But our first stop wasn't for hiking, it was to put chains on the tires.

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Leo insisted he needed no help, so we stayed snuggly warm in the car while he worked his butt off.

We found a trail we hadn't been to before and began our hike. Leo and the girls went bounding off the trail for a little run and all found themselves hip deep in snow.

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Panda didn't seem to mind.

But Thea and Leo had a bit more struggle with it.

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Nope, he's not kneeling, he's nearly standing upright.

I don't think these other pictures need captions, except to say we had a most wonderful time.

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See lots more pictures here. Hope your Christmas was just as lovely.

January 21, 2008

It's about time

I'm embarrassed to admit that we have not done a doggy outing since our New Year's Eve road trip. And weather has been quite rainy here which means we really haven't done much of anything outside. The girls? They were pretty stir crazy.

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We were long overdue for a run on Cannon Beach, but not before stopping at our favorite breakfast locale for some crabcakes benny. Mmmmm, tastes like heart disease. Some folks can't turn down sweets, I can't turn down hollandaise sauce.

Next to our booth was placed an interesting little item. What do you think?

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For the low low price of $195, American, you too can own this ceramic center piece. We decided to pass on it.

Once we were sated, Leo brought a little bit of bacon and eggs out to the girls while I settled the bill. We were off to haystack rock.

Because it was such a beautiful day, the beach was just teeming with happy people and lots of pups. The waves were churning and the squirrel was a-flying.

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Thea fell in love with Cocoa, a cutie with a penchant for, um, let's call it "asserting himself" upon her. This was her first time dealing with such a pushy pup, and we were pleased to see that she handled herself well; setting boundaries without holding any grudges.

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Cocoa and Thea played for a long time, and Panda begrudgingly allowed him to join in with fetch, though when he attempted to get too friendly with Panda, she didn't hesitate to put him in his place. He didn't try that again. I'm pretty sure he said something about a "party poopers."

Eventually, Cocoa's parents had to leave, but we continued to enjoy the gorgeous day.

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If you aren't going to be able to get to the beach every weekend, you gotta make the visits count.

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It was wonderful having sun after so many rainy weekends.

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When the girls were finally showing the merest hint of slowing down, Leo decided we should walk over to Haystack Rock and do a little tide-pooling

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The anemones were all vivid pinks and shocking greens, and if you looked really carefully, you could find a few starfish hiding under rocks.

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But all good things must come to an end, and as the clouds darkened the sky a bit and the temperature started to drop, we knew we'd have head home.

Our last sight, before leaving the coast was a few elk grazing lazily along the side of the highway.

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The girls slept the whole way.

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There was some knitting too. I'll post about that soon.

January 6, 2008

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part 3

Ahh, San Francisco. If we could pick any city in the US, in which to live, it'd probably be here. This is not to say that we don't love Portland, because we do, but there is just something about San Francisco.

We arrose relatively early on Sunday morning and decided to reward our good little girls with a walk in the park.

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We spent a couple hours frolicing in the park and the girls had a fantastic time. Even Panda let loose a little in her own reserved way. The folks in the park were just delightful too.

Once we'd exhausted the girls throuroughly, we dropped them off at the hotel, and went out for lunch. Guess what Leo wanted.

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There's only so much butter and garlic soaked, and fried food I can handle, so I opted for a salad instead.

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Mmm

Oh, and look who joined us for lunch

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It's good ol' COF. San Francisco is a great place for knitwear.

Being Sunday, we didn't have grand expectations for nightlife options, but it turned out that riiight down the street from where we were staying was a cute little bar called the Voodoo Lounge. We ordered a couple filthy martinis, and, to Leo's delight, we got to play some poker.

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We both lost. The big winner was the bartender.

After losing we headed back to the hotel, all of 100 feet away, and tucked into bed. The girls seemed glad to see us.

The next day, New Year's Eve, we decided to devote solely to relaxation and spending time with the pups.

It looked a lot like this, plus some walks and a quick breakfast at a neighboring cafe. There might also have been some knitting. More on that in a future post.

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When evening rolled around, we showered and got purdy. There was a moment of panic when I realized the shoes I brought to go with my dress were busted, and that we forgot to pack my wrap, and the nylons I had gotten came with a hole. Oy! Luckily, I'd brought a more casual, but still appropriate alternative outfit. Rolling with the punches, baby.

We made a reservation at a restaurant we had passed a bazillion times but never entered, called Bobo's. Turns out it's owned by the same folks who make his favorite crab AND they specialize in Leo's other favorite food, steak. I appologize to all my vegitarian friends out there, this may make you queezy, but for us, this meal was extrodinary.

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We started with iron skillet roasted muscles and some lobster soup, and followed it with a petite filet for me and a bone in filet for Leo and a crab. Great googily moogily, so good and so much food. We finished the meal with a cup of espresso and then popped back over to the hotel room to brush our teeth and give the girls a little taste.

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Happy New Year to THEM.

For the celebration, we headed over to Leo's favorite Cigar Bar for some live music, mojitos and, of course, a cigar. When midnight rolled in, we had a big smooch and a glass of bubbly. Perfect.

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But the night wasn't over. We made a quick walk to the waterfront to catch a few fireworks, caught a cable car, and then walked back to the hotel.

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And the walk back? Only the better part of about 4 miles...in heels.

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We were good, and kept the alcohol consumption minimal and ended the evening relatively early, so we could check out and start our drive back home the next morning. We took the 101, up to wine country, crossed over through Napa Valley to catch the 5 in Scramento, and made it home in 12 short (ha!) hours. I think we were all glad to be back home, even if we were pining for more crab.

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I can't wait to do it again.

January 4, 2008

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part 2

IMG_0038.JPGAfter making a very painful attempt to watch I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, we tucked everything away, and curled in for bed.

The rain was relentless, drumming on the roof without pause. And it was cold. Not frostbite cold, but definitely cold enough that we all huddled together. And who was the star of the huddle? Thea. Seriously, that girl should come in every camping survival kit. She didn't care how much I tossed and turned, all she wanted was to sleep curled up, like a cat, in the crook of my stomach and she was like my own little furnace. At one point, I woke up to her shivering and I tucked her in under the blankets with me.Cute little monkey.

We all woke up a little achy but totally rested and no one had an accident. Awesome. Heck, I'll take smelling a little of wet dog over the possible alternatives.

The sun was just peeking through the heavy cloud cover, as we arose. It was pretty spectacular watching the scenery unfold through Stewie's sunroof. I took the girls for a walk and, we even got an on-leash pottie. Will wonders never cease?

With the car packed, the sun up and the family rested, it was time for more scenic driving. According to our map, we were quite a bit more than halfway to our destination. Our goal that day was to continue following the ocean until we reached San Francisco, and then head straight to the hotel, unpack and get us some of the crab that Leo has been pining for.

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The rain had lightened a bit and left behind a thick shroud of fog. Dreamy.

We were peckish, but decided to hold off on lunch when we reach this sign.

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Ooh, a drive through tree. I've heard of this. Relieved of five of our dollars we made our way to the tree.

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Hmm

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Yah, we don't fit. This sign appears to have employed some artistic license.

Still cool tree.

Off we go to find the girls a place to run off some of their pent up energy.

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The great thing about bad weather is that we get the beaches nearly to ourselves. The girls, they were happy.

Slowly, the lack of blood sugar started to sink in, and I began to become, let's say, a bit touchy. I was ready to find some food. We were hoping for a nice sit down meal, nothing that comes from a drive-through. We passed several perfectly acceptable little cities and I grew increasingly, er, touchy, but Leo assured me that those exits simply wouldn't do. When I had nearly reached the point where I was considering lobbing his arm off and consuming that, we saw a sign for a "business district" for a town we had not heard of before. It seemed as good a place to turn as any, and so we wound our way into the quaint little city of Mendocino.

This place was perfect. Exactly what we wanted.

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We sat down at a cute hotel restaurant, ordered some soup and sandwiches, and a touch of coffee, and felt renewed. On the way to the restaurant, I had even seen a little LYS. Everything was 20% off so Leo and the girls went for a walk while I went for a little spend. I was surprisingly restrained, all things considered.

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Still, we assumed, very much on scheduled, we headed off for the last leg of our trip.As we cruised down the 101, we looked forward to the point when we'd meet up with Route 1 and get to the really beautiful sights.

Now, Leo and I have driven every inch of the 101 and 1 from Mexico to San Francisco. We are well aware of the fact that much of 1 winds snakelike through canyons, yet we had still convinced ourselves that the 800 miles down the 101 were a good means of estimating our last 200 miles on Route 1. We had visions of arriving in San Francisco, even before our 3PM check-in time. Awesome.

We soon found ourselves creeping carefully around the hairpin turns and soggy roads. The car seemed to sway, just tempting the girls to expel their full tummies. The sights? Oh, gorgeous.

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But the sun soon began its decent, and those foggy and twisty roads proved quite the white knuckle slalom towards what I simply KNEW was certain death. With 100 miles left to go, minimal visibility and top speeds of 30 mph, it began to feel like we'd never get our crab before the restaurant closed shop for the evening.

The girls never made a peep, never had an accident and remained absolutely angelic the whole time.

We did stop to give them a break

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But they seemed as ready to get to the hotel as we.

Finally, at nearly 8PM, we rolled into the hotel parking lot and began unloading and setting up. The girls just seemed happy to be on terra firma again and Leo and I were happy to get a shower and change of clothes.

We even made it in time to get some dinner. Fried artichoke hearts for me, and Leo, well, he got crabs, no cream required for this affliction.

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YUM. And did you notice a certain hat making a cameo?

A little live music at Joe's and then we went back to walk the girls and go to bed. Ahhhh, what a day.

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Can you stand some more? Another installment soon.

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part I

IMG_0006.JPGIn the oh-so-wee hours of Friday morning, long before the sun was even thinking of rising, we packed our last few items into the car and headed towards the Oregon Coast. This would be Thea's first and Panda's longest road trip and we wondered how the two girls would fare. Both had been known to suffer from motion sickness and Thea still struggles with her house breaking. This could turn out to be a messy trip, indeed.

For the month preceding the trip, Leo and I plotted and schemed. We knew we wanted to spend New Year's Eve in San Francisco, and Leo had the week of Christmas, and the following Monday and Tuesday off. How best to use that time without breaking the bank? We decided to do a two day, scenic drive to San Francisco, 3 nights in the city and then the fastest drive home on Tuesday. For accommodations, while on the road, we'd rely on our ample supply of camping gear and our boxy little car, Stewie.

We arrived at the Oregon Dunes, just as the sun was rising, exactly as we had hoped.

 

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Of course, we let the girls out for a run.

The weather would be the best we'd see that day, overcast and a bit chilly, but not more than a mist of precipitation.

As we continued to work our way down the coast of Oregon, we found many lovely little spots to stop and take in the scenery.

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And whenever we could, we stopped to let the girls run around.

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As we crossed the border to California, we entered the first of several Redwood forests. Redwoods, if you aren't aware, are rather large trees, overall. This sign seemed redundant to us

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But who could ignore it?

Guess what we found at the end of the short trail?

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A big tree! No kidding.

As the sun set, we found ourselves in Eureka, California, which, incidentally, doesn't look anything like it does on that TV show. Much like my last road trip with Julia, we were between several redwood forests and we had to carefully weigh the benefits of making more time versus the disappointment of missing the beautiful sights. With Julia, though, our problem was that there were no open motels when we were ready to quit. With Leo, it's that none of the stops were just right.

Finally, after much poo-pooing we found a place that was just right. A sweet little RV campground with several festively decorated cabins.

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We rented an RV spot, and I took the girls for a walk while Leo struggled through torrential rain and pitch blackness to get the car set up for the evening. Thea has never pottied on a leash before and despite much coaxing and encouraging, she wasn't in a mind to start that night. For Leo's part, he was doing his best to avoid getting everything we owned soaked while attempting to set up the car for the night. Normally, in an Element, you can lay each front and back seat flat to produce two long single beds. We had an air mattress to lay over it and a doggy bed to put on the side. However, having over packed and with too much rain to leave much outside, only the back seats could lie flat, which meant Leo had to place the air mattress over much of our stuff. A little unlevel, but better than sleeping sitting up.

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With a passable sleeping arrangement in order, we threw in two wet dogs and a few blankets, and were in business. Yah, try to contain your envy. As we dug out some snacks and put a DVD into the laptop, something happened and we heard a hiss.

I think you know what's coming. We popped a hole in the air mattress. Thea's crate, in it's broken down mode, had some sharp little points, which, having done their business with the mattress, were now digging into our legs. This was an unexpected turn of events. We figured we would simply have to face the long night ahead, until we remembered that Leo is always prepared. Queue the MacGyver theme music.

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A few snips to a vinyl glove, some super glue and a minute's wait and we had a perfect fix.

As long as Thea managed to hold her bladder for the night, we just might get a half decent sleep.

Find out if we did, in the next installment.

January 2, 2008

Hello 2008

Have you all missed me? Well, you probably haven't quite noticed I was gone, but I have been. Last Friday, in the wee hours of the morning, we packed up the car, the dogs and plenty of provisions, and headed out for a road trip.

ROAD TRIP!

I decided it would be a bad idea to announce, for all the world to see, that our house would be vacated for 5 whole days. I would have loved to have blogged along the way, but wiser heads prevailed.

When I have the energy, I'll upload our photos and regale you with some stories. But, for now, I'm too tired to put it all together into something coherent. Until then, I'm sending warm new year's wishes to all of you. Here's hoping yours was even half as spectacular as ours.

January 14, 2008

Green cards and argyle hats

My dear Canadian friends got their green cards, last week, and threw a little party to celebrate. The other guests wore green in honor of the occasion and I brought some AmeriCone Dream ice cream. With knee slapping humor like that, here in the states, it's a wonder they didn't pack their lovely things and head back to the icy embrace of the Canadian snow. It was a small but rowdy festive group, and the hosts ensured there were plenty of libations.

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But I learned something very important about myself.
I
am
the
BLOCKUS QUEEN!
I admit, I may have let loose with a bit of language that was unbecoming a queen, but when one must bring the smack down, one must also bring the smack talk. I believe their is a theorem that covers this.


In other news, the Corn on the Nod hat is coming along nicely.

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I've completed the argyle section and now need to decide how long I want to make the hat before decreasing for the crown.

January 28, 2008

Snow shoes

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Leo got us snow shoes in hopes they'd help us keep up with the girls. You know what that means, right? It's time for another hike.

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We couldn't have picked a more challenging day to try out those snow shoes. The temperatures were just around the freezing mark, maybe a little bit warmer, so the snow was sticky, wet and great for such activities as snowball fights, snow men building and fort construction. Still, it produced the most unusual snow formations atop the trees. Check this out.

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Could that look any more like a bird's head?
For some reason, we found it exceedingly entertaining when Leo would risk his own safety and shake some of the smaller trees.

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And when I didn't properly catch the first dense block of compacted snow, hitting him on the head, he thought we should do it again.

And check this out.

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Panda and Thea walking right OVER Leo as he sticks his torso through a hole in this snow formation. Yes yes yes, we know that's not the most brilliant of plans, but it does make for a good picture.

We may have found it hard to hike this wet snow.

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However, the girls, as always, were in heaven.

It wasn't all laughs and good times. We've been up to the trails of Mt Hood a few times, and we've found that Oregonians are pretty welcoming of happy dogs. It's not unusual for playful pups to come careening around corners to play with our girls and vice versa. Unfortunately, this Saturday, we met the first person who did not share that puppy goodwill. Apparently, her dog was a little aggressive, so she had her dog on leash and when Thea went over to say hi, it caused the woman much consternation.

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An angry woman in red, mutters as she walks by Leo and Thea.

Leo grabbed Thea, to restrain her and as the woman walked by Leo, she let off with a string of colorful language, leaving no doubt about how she felt about me and my puppy parenting skills. I'm not saying I fault her, I can understand that she wants everyone to be in full control of their dogs at all times, it's just that we are used to people being a bit more lax with their pups. We decided to keep Thea on leash for a while, for good measure. That is, until this sweet lab came over to play.

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We let our little troublemaker off leash and she had herself a proper playful tussle. That's more like it.

We hiked a bit more and arrived at Twin Lakes, which is completely frozen over and covered in snow.

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It looks like such a barren wasteland, after hiking through the thick forest. I bet it's just gorgeous in the spring and summer.

We had ourselves a little lunch and played fetch with the girls' water bowl.

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Hiking back to the car was as much fun as hiking to the lake. It's hard work, slogging through the heavy snow, but we aren't the type to let that get the better of us. We just break out our thermos of hot chai and sit for a spell, when the mood suits us.

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Or lean back and watch the snow fall on our faces.

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In the end, the whole lot of us made it home exhausted, but happy.

While I'm still feeling the hike today, I can't wait to go back. Next time, I hope the snow's a little more powdery, but even if it isn't, this sort of workout beats the gym, any old day of the week.

See all the pictures here.

And since someone almost always asks, the harnesses that Panda and Thea are wearing, can be found here.

February 18, 2008

Fantastic Birthday Weekend

What a great weekend. It was really wonderful of the US government to make my birthday a national holiday, this year.

My birthday, itself, isn't much to talk about, unless you think it's fascinating that our washing machine is oozing some sort of oil and we went to Home Depot and bought a replacement. Also, there was some grocery shopping. But Friday and Saturday were many shades of good times.

It started with my dear friends throwing me a birthday party. There was homemade chili and guacamole....oooooh guacamole. I could write poetry about that treat, but it couldn't compare to the delight itself. Why more food isn't accompanied by guacamole, is beyond me.

What was I talking about?

Oh and there was a giant chocolate cake. Oh boy. Yah, it was a good party.

As the fete was coming to a close, my friends mentioned that they were going to the beach the next day and invited us to join.

After conferring with Panda, it was unanimous

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We'd jump at the chance to go.

We arrived at the coast, a while before the rest of the crew, so we hiked and played a bit, in hopes the girls might be a bit more manageable, when the rest of the folks arrived.

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Panda is a super star!

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When our friends arrived, they were looking no worse for the wear, despite the fact that half of them were subjected to my amateur salsa lessons, the night before.

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Thea greeted the group, as she does best, cooter displayed for all to see.

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Larry and Thea had a little game of "catch me if you can."

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And then it was back to the business of walking around the beach.

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And walk we did. For hours, we explored tide pools and rocky outcr