Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rugs, rugs, and more rugs

Yesterday was a beautiful bonanza!

One of my colleagues is an Anthropologist who travels regularly to Oaxaca, Mexico for her work. As many of you know, things are not all well in Oaxaca right now. The politics have gotten nasty and the everyday people are the ones who are suffering (sounds like a common story doesn't it?).

During her travels, my colleage has met and worked with Benito Hernandez and his family. They make beautiful hand made rugs. Mr. Hernandez shipped a number of these to my friend in the hope that she could sell them so he and his family could support themselves. A desperate situation for the family. Those of us here have had the good fortune to be able to buy rugs.

Behold, the beauty.

(these two are now living in my office and brightening the place up)

(these two are going home to live in our main hallway)

And the colors...

These photos do not do them justice!

The family dyes and weaves the rugs themselves using natural dyes, sheep's wool, and cotton.

The vibrant reds in the rugs come from cochineal (cactus lice). The female lice are essentially grown on cactus paddles and then harvested and dried. When crushed, they produce a very red dye. You can see pictures of Mr. Hernandez and this process below.

The white spots are the where the female lice are habitating.

This, I'm told, is the color that is obtained when a live female cactus lice is crushed.

The blues in the rugs are from indigo and the yellow from cumin/tumeric. I believe the family grows these as well.

Mr. Hernandez and his two sons dye and weave the rugs on treadle looms while the wife spins the wool.

I feel very lucky to have the privilege of owning several of the rugs, especially given all the time and effort that has clearly gone into each one of them.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

German pancakes

I received a request for the recipe for the German pancakes I talked about from another post.

Here’s the goodness (with ideas for making it gluten-free).

German “Pancakes”
A recipe from S’s Gran
(this is nothing like pancakes; it’s more of a cross between a fruit pie and a custard pie. We eat it for special breakfasts but it could easily be a dessert).

4 eggs
½ cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp vanilla

mix the ingredients above and let sit for 30 minutes. In the meantime, sauté up

3 tbsp butter
½ cup sugar
apples or pears – cut into slices

mix the custard mix (top list) together with the apple/pear mixture (bottom list) and bake 15 minutes in a 425 degree (F) oven. Then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and cook 10 more minutes.

In my family, we never do anything quite like the recipe. We substitute soy milk for the regular, vegan butter for the real butter, and Pamela’s baking and pancake mix for the flour (I can’t eat wheat and Pamela’s mix is a great baking substitute that looks like wheat but doesn’t have any of the bad-for-the-tummy wheat in it).

We’ve cooked this with both peeled and unpeeled fruit. When you peel the fruit, it will cook down more and the “pancake” seems a bit more fluffy (we think it’s because the custard/bread-y mix can stick to the fruit more easily). On the other hand, if you leave the peel on, you have more of the good vitamins and it tastes more like baked apples to me (ymm). You may get a somewhat thinner “pancake” this way though.

We do the sautéing in an iron skillet and then just put the skillet into the oven to cook. That way there are fewer dishes to clean. Yeah!

Hope others will enjoy!

p.s. Queen of all things molecular: If you want to email me at does liz knit at hotmail dot com I can help you with the mouse pigs.

p.p.s. Kitty Issac had a checkup this morning and so far so good... he seems to be maintaining his red blood cells and doing ok.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My first sock!

There is excitement again... I have knit my first sock! Ok, it's really a stocking, but I think it represents all the basic sock skills and I'm very pleased to say it was a successful experience!

Yesterday I decided I needed to continue my break from laceweight yarn, which does produce a beautiful fine project but I find needs incredible attention from me. It is not a zen-like experience for me to knit laceweight. Thick yarn, very zen-like.

So yesterday morning I cast on for the holiday stocking pattern I found for the Covina Knotty Knitters meetup. Now I had never knitted a sock or stocking before, but strangely I felt pretty self-confident going into this project. Over the past couple of months I've had a strong desire to learn how to knit socks. I've been reading much about the process. The harlot's Knitting Rules and, probably giving me even a stronger sense that all I had to do was put one foot in front of the other and everything would work out, Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch have been on my reading list. My intent has been to knit the class sock from Schurch's book, but the opportunity to knit this stocking came up first. I think the fact that it's on large needles with thick yarn helped me to think that I could do it.

So off I went, caution to the wind.

The cuff and leg zipped right up given I've done quite a bit of cabling already.

I have to say that I love cabling. Such a big bang for the time and effort!

Next the heel flap.

Look at that lovely flap. Again, nothing really hard here, but it was a first.

Then turning the heel.

This was my first time doing short row shaping and I have to say I like the outcome. What pretty neat rows with that great countour.

Then the gusset. Now I have tried to pick up stiches before (Fetching: Twins). I did it, but had no idea what I was doing. This time I did some research on the internet and found a great video demonstration at This helped tremendously and soon enough I was back into smooth sailing waters all the way down to the toe.

Look at that adorable shape... I love that little heel, ankle, and foot!!

Last new skill, the kitchener stich. Now I've read a lot about kitchener... mostly strong opinions about whether people hate it or love it. Again, off to the web to find a tutorial. had a great one in a Techniques by Theresa article. So off I went. The basic skill seems pretty straight forward. I realized half way through that during the set up I had accidently added a stich onto one of my needles and so ripped back and tried again. I ended up with another small problem the second try but decided it was a flaw I was willing to live with. And, taaaa daaaa....

The finished stocking!! (with a Dylan cat helping out with the photography).

Yarnthrower's Cabled Christmas Stocking pattern from the Pickin' and Throwin' blog
Lion Brand Wook-Ease Thick & Quick
Fisherman 099 lot 8411
less than 2 skeins
US size 13 (9 mm) japanese bamboo double pointed needles
finished size 8 inches wide, 20 inches long
started and finished November 26, 2006

Definitely a positive experience. Thanks much to Yarnthrower for a great, easy pattern! I'd recommend it to anyone who'd like a good, quick stocking project.

And because it's customary, up went the holiday lights.

Nothing like a little sparkle to greet you when you come home from work. Everyone needs a winter pick-me-up when it gets dark at 5pm.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Good news Saturday!

Issac is back home with us today actually looking much better, if not a bit balder, after his trip to the kitty hospital. We are relieved that he's feeling more energetic and glad to have his company again.


Yesterday was another quiet, just around the house, day. I finally finished up the orange twisted drop stich scarf. I found the pattern on Kis*Knit's blog.

Here's a close up of the twisted drop stich. Very, very quick and easy.

Twisted Drop Stich scarf
Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick
Pumpkin 133
US size 11 (8mm) plastic straight needles
started November 11, 2006
finished November 24, 2006

The rest of my day, and in fact much of my other knitting time recently, has been going into a Knitty Gritty project. I'm going to be an Knitster in an episode to tape in December and have been working slowly but surely on my project. Here's a small detail. I think it will be very nice.

Yep, that's another lace pattern with laceweight yarn. Meanwhile, poor swallowtail is languishing in a bag. One day perhaps she'll see the light of day again. Homework calls for now though!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy black friday

So when did they start calling it black friday?
Why do they call it black friday?
When did our lives become so focused on consumerism?

I had never heard this term used before this year. Now it's everywhere; in commercials, on the news. I had to do some research.

Wiki suggests that the origination of the term black friday is unknown but suggests that there are three possible reasons that the day after thanksgiving may have this name.

1. it's when companies' profits come out of the red and into the black
2. it's black for store employees because of insane shopper behavior
3. black is the color of the sky when stores open.

This is insane behavior people! I saw ads for stores that opened at 5am this year. What about those poor store employees?! I, personally, am a fan of the concept of buy nothing day.

But enough of the bad news about today, let's talk about yesterday.

So yesterday S and I had a nice, quiet, food-filled day here at home. We started early with a fabulous german pancake (it's really a mix between an apple pie and a custard pie).

Then later we had the (almost) typical American Thanksgiving dinner.

Doesn't it look delicious? Yes, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, green beans, carrots, and Tofurky (ok, I said almost typical). S and I are vegetarians and prefer the non-turkey death version of thanksgiving.

It was a good day to take stock of all the positive things in my life.
1. S
1. Sterling
1. Issac
1. Dylan
1. very good friends
1. very good family
1. a comfortable home
1. living in a great location
1. fabulous weather all the time
1. a comfortable income
1. great hobbies and the time to do them
1. a very good job
1. good coworkers
1. good health
1. the ability to pursue the things we want to
1. living in a country with lots of privileges (yes, I don't like most of our current leadership and the way lots of things are, but it could be so much worse I guess)

That's just a short list, the things that immediately come to mind. I'm sure I could add more and more if I kept working on it. You'll notice everything is number 1 on the list too. I don't think it's possible to rank blessings. They are all important.

I think this has been really evident to me over the past couple of weeks. Issac, our sweet kitty, in in the animal hospital as we speak. He's been diagnosed with non-regenerative anemia and is have a (second) blood transfusion and a bone marrow test today. That's part of the reason I couldn't wait to get home from Chicago, to be honest. He started showing symptoms of being sick a week before that trip and had his first transfusion two days before I had to leave.

So far he's doing ok, but it's sad to think about him feeling down.
All the more important that I enjoy the time I have with him now.

To everyone, enjoy your blackness and all the post-holiday leftovers!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Stich n B*tch

Yesterday I went to my first ever Stich n B*tch meeting!

The Covina Knotty Knitters have just started meeting and it was great fun!

I've wanted to go to a snb for quite some time but most of them are far-far away out in LA proper (not out here in the hinterlands). Finding this new group was a great suprise. We were a small but dedicated group and I learned all kinds of good stuff about stores around the area and classes. I really want to take a sock class and now I have a couple of leads.

The locale of our meeting was also great, Knitwitz. Super friendly staff and a good selection of yarn. I couldn't leave the store without purchasing a few things.

Another bonus, one of the requests for the evening was to bring a holiday pattern to share. I went online last night for the meeting and found a great cabled stocking pattern on the Pickin' and Throwin' blog.

Last year I looked for cool patterns and could find nothing. I'm very excited to have found this one.

The snb also gave me a couple hours of knitting time. Realizing that my ability to talk to newly met friends and count at the same time would be limited, I cast on for another baby hat.

Good progress was made.

So all and all, a very successful evening. Now I only have to wait a month for the next meeting!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Kate A's meme

Completed last night, in my office, after my class finished up a bit early.

1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 in the book closest to you right now, what does it say?

The book closest to me… hmm. There are about 25 within arms reach… I’ll pick the one on the top of the closest stack. There aren’t 4 paragraphs on page 18 of that book, but close by:

”The institutional and political knowledges that students derive from their investigation of how things are put together in order to make the changes they propose illustrates the link between institutional ethnography and feminist activism. In the context of a community action project, students are advised to explore the institutional forms and procedures, informal organizational processes, and discursive frames used to construct the goals and targets of the work the institution performs. They are also encouraged to remain self-reflective of their own assumptions and interactions both individually and as part of their community action groups.”

2. If you stretch out your left arm - as far as possible, what are you touching?

A poster given to me by a good friend:

“Because woman’s work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we’re the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it’s our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we’re nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we’re nymphos and if we don’t we’re frigid and if we love women it’s because we can’t get a “real” man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we’re neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we’re selfish and if we stand up for our rights we’re aggressive and “unfeminine” and if we don’t we’re typical weak females and if we want to get married we’re out to trap a man and if we don’t we’re unnatural and because we still can’t get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can’t cope or don’t want a pregnancy we’re made to feel guilty about abortion and … for lots and lots of other reasons we are part of the women’s liberation movement.”

3. What’s the last program you watched on tv?

KnittyGritty on DIY.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.

8:30 pm. .. (the clock says 8:32, pretty good guess.

5. Except the computer, what can you hear right now?

My wind-up alarm clock that was too loud to keep in the bedroom so I brought it to work.

6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do?

Around 5pm this evening I walked to pick up sushi for dinner.

7. What are you wearing?

A light sweater, black almost floor length skirt, clogs, and black socks (the last three items being almost a work uniform of sorts for me).

8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about?

No memory of any dreams.

9. When was the last time you laughed?

Laughed out loud in front of someone else Saturday night reading blogs… I can’t remember for the life of me which one made me laugh out loud though.

10. What's on the walls, in the room you're in right now?

In my office, the previously described poster, lots and lots of books, more posters about sexual violence prevention, some oil paintings, and a big bulletin board full of miscellaneous stuff. You can look at a previous post for a pic.

11. Have you seen anything strange lately?

When don’t we see strange things.

12. What do you think about this meme?

I’ve never seen one I wanted to do before this one… I wanted to see what I would learn about myself completing it.

13. What's the last film you saw?

"Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest” on the plane home from Chicago yesterday.

14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money?

I would become a much better philanthropists (and pay off a few bills).

15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

When I worry that someone is uncomfortable about something I’m saying, I repeat myself out of anxiety (of course making them more uncomfortable; stupid hmm).

16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt - what would it be?

I would make all things nonviolent and peaceful.

17. Do you like dancing?

Not really. Don’t hate it, just don’t like it.

18. George Bush?

Let me quote a smart woman, Kate A. from whom I adopted this meme:

“Willfully stupid, coke-snorting, pathologically lying frat boy with a daddy complex who is allowing the evil cabal that flatters and rules him to destroy the world for no better reason than their pure, unadulterated greed, and when they follow Goebel’s Textbook on Authoritarianism (“the best way to fool the people is with a really big lie”), refering to all this theft, murder, torture, and bigotry as “Christian,” “fiscally responsible,” and “tough on terror,” many people -- most of them employed in the media -- are too scared of getting even more screwed than they already are to stand up and point out that the emperor has no clothes. I could go on. For hours. I could go on for as long as it takes to get these people out of office and, preferably, behind bars.”

19. What do you want your children's names to be, girl/boy?

I have no plans to have children and no names picked out for future “kidlets” (i.e., pets).

20. Would you ever consider living abroad?

Yep, sometimes S and I think we may have to leave this red-leaning country to save our sanity (see question 18 above). I have lots of relatives in Ireland and frequently think it would be great to go there.

21. What do you want God to tell you, when you come to heaven?

Is there a God? Would “he” or “she” say something to anyone?

22. Who should do this meme?

Everyone who wants to learn a bit more about him or herself.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I am soooooo glad to be home.

In fact, I don't think I've ever taken another trip where I more wanted to come home. I can't quite explain it, there was nothing wrong with Chicago or my conference, but man oh man, am I glad to be home.

After all, just look at this place.

It's November 20th... November.
See that sun... see that green?
Where else would anyone want to be?

Coming home also reminds me of good news to share.

Yep, I passed my licensure exam here in California. Now all that stands between me and my license is a big old fat check and a bit of waiting.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The windy city

On Thursday I got into this

left sunny, warm southern California, and flew here

Yep, I’m in Chicago, the windy, and very cold, city. It is funny when I remember (and was rudely reminded by this trip I should note) that it is winter in most parts of this country. They are even putting up holiday decorations here, and I don’t mean thanksgiving! Poor thanksgiving, it really is getting squeezed out between Halloween and Christmas.

I’m in Chicago only through the weekend for another professional conference. I keep finding myself laughing over the contrast between here and home. For example, I submit the view from my hotel window.

I’d like to contrast this with the view from my window in Hollywood.

Some difference hmm? [laugh]

Of course, to be fair, I should point out that if I learn far over and turn my head a bit, I can see a bit of the park off Michigan Avenue from the window. Want to see?

That’s even funnier isn’t it? Well, I’m not here for the views or the weather so I won’t complain, I’ll only laugh.

The trip has given me some opportunity to knit. Nothing like being trapped on a plane to provide quality knitting time. Here, take a look at what it looks like to knit in coach.

Just being in Chicago, I feel connected to other knitters too. All this cold weather reminds me of why most people knit with wool… and there is a lot of wool evident here [grin].

Until next time, I’ll be finding moments to knit some more.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Yarnival excitement!

I can hardly stand the excitement... my blog made it into


This issue was edited by the exceptionally talented Cara of January One blog fame (one of my daily habits)!

My blog entry on knitting fetching was selected in the

category. A pretty fabulous place to be if you ask me!

So for all of you who are new to visit, welcome!! Hope you'll visit again.
This definitely motivates me to keep up the knitting progress and to pretty up the place!

Many thanks to Cara for all the time and effort that went into putting together this issue of Yarnival! I can't wait to read each and every blog in the issue! It looks fabulous!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The office

Yesterday was a day spent at the office. Mondays are late days for me as I teach class from 7-10pm.

In honor of hours at the office, I thought I'd post a copy of my November calendar page for Deb.

A fairly chipper calendar for November I think. (The colors are more vibrant in person... the web cam doesn't do it justice).

Of course, it's only fair to let you see the chaos in which November exists.

Scary hmm?

Monday, November 13, 2006

The start of a short week

This weekend was good. Mostly uneventful. S was off in the land of the cold... at Notre Dame in Fort Bend, Indiana to be specific. I had the house to myself and mostly did errands, cleaning, and gardening. I think I mostly was recuperating from my days in Hollywood!

Now it's the beginning of a short work week before I head off to Chicago for another professional conference. I bet it will be cold there too.

On the knitting front, I finished the blue cable project.

Doesn't that look yummy? Details to follow the gifting.

I also started a new scarf for myself.

It is zipping along with giant yarn and big needles.
It's a variant of the twisted drop stich pattern I found on Kis*Knit's blog.

And how 'bout that color? It wasn't what I initially envisioned, but thought it would be fun when I saw it in the store.

Boy is this fast compared to laceweight!

Friday, November 10, 2006

6 whole rows!

Yep... I managed to knit 6 whole rows of swallowtail with no frogging. I think this is a milestone.


Knitting progress is ongoing. The blue cable gift is coming along nicely. Swallowtail is now through the 11 repeats of the bud pattern. I've definitely decided to keep going to make it larger as well.

No other terribly exciting news to share. Lot's of good gossip around my neighborhood, but non-knitting, non-family, non-friend gossip (only work gossip) so I won't tempt you with the stories. Although they would curl your hair.

Yeah it's friday!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Home again

After 4 fun days of the "real" los angeles, I'm back home.

We ended up the rest of our trip with more fabulous food at the West Hollywood Real Food Daily, California Vegan, and Rahel's Ethiopian. Rahel's was definitely the dining experience, topped off with a coffee ceremony.

I think you should never just drink coffee.. it should always be a ceremony. They know how to do it at Rahel's.

So now I'm back.. 4 more rows of Swallowtail down... 5 bazillion left.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The view

... from our room,

is spectacular. We're staying on the 13th floor and that let's you see alot of Hollywood.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hollywood here I come

We have company this weekend!

Half of the company arrived Friday evening and the second half we picked up at LAX Saturday morning.

Our first stop, Venice Beach for a delicious vegan breakfast at Figtree's Cafe. Of course we had to walk on the beach... who comes to Southern California and doesn't walk on the beach.

Look at these adorable feet prints.

It was a great day... a bit foggy and cool early, turning into a bright blue sky later in the day.

You might be able to see that both I and my friend in the picture above are wearing orchid leis. The second friend visiting flew in from Honolulu and brought bounty with her (many thanks!).

Of course, no trip to Venice would be complete without a trip to the canals.

Did you know that we had a Venice with canals and gondalas in Southern California?

Then we made our way over to Santa Monica for more exploring. More vegan dining, Real Food Daily this time. We met up with other friends and ended up with a dining experience rather than lunch.

After lunch we wandered over to Third Street Promenade, and guess what we found there?

Only in Southern California right? It's too bad I didn't get a very good piture of Obi Wan, but at least you can see the captive Lea here.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Just call me the tortoise

Want to see something embarrassing?

Yep... that's three, not one, not two, but three, lifelines currently in my lace. I've developed such an aversion to frogs, I've gotten to the place where I mark every two completed rows. Shameful really [laugh].

And boy, oh boy, has my knitting been going slowly! Just call me the tortoise.

Slooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwww as molasses. That’s me and laceweight alpaca.

The good news is that I’m finished with the 9th repeat of the bud pattern now. The other good news is that I actually knit 4 rows tonight and only had to frog ½ row. Progress, hmm? [laugh] At this rate it probably will be a new decade before I finish swallowtail.

I do feel good about what I’ve done. Now it’s a personal challenge to finish.

So I’ll just keep ploooooooddddding along … while all the rest of you bunny-fast knitsters zip on by.

One day though… one day… I will catch up!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dia De Los Muertos

For the last week I’ve been feeling sad about past losses. Yesterday, inspired by Will Pillage for Yarn, I set up an altar de muertos for Dia De Los Muertos. It was the perfect thing to do, and as soon as the idea entered my mind, I knew I should do it.

I spent the morning visiting several local businesses for supplies. My first stop was Galeria Rustica. Pomona is rich with Latino culture and this shop has lots of supplies for the day of the dead. I was able to find a calaveritas de azucar (sugar skull), several great drawings, papel picados (cut paper banners), and a paper mache calavera (skull) that I “painted” myself. I also found a small wooden calaca (a skeleton figure that represents death) with a great feather in her hat (to round out my 3 skeletons).
Next, a trip to a local bakery to purchase pan de los muertos. They were selling beautiful sugary round loaves of bread for the occasion. Then another stop at a local grocery store serving primarily the Latino community to purchase candles. Last stop, flowers. I found some great materials online at Dia De Los Muertos websites (amazing information and great drawing that I cut out and used on the altar), looked back through photo albums to select photos, and spent some time last night putting the whole alter together.

It was very meditative to set out the ofrenda (offering: in addition to the bread, I set out salt, water, and other food consistent with culture), light the candles, and just spend some time thinking. I look forward to doing this again tonight for All Souls' Day (Nov 2); yesterday was All Saints' Day (Nov 1). According to what I’ve learned, November 1 is set aside for remembrance of deceased infants and children, often referred to as angelitos (little angels). Those who have died as adults are honored November 2.

I hope everyone found their holidays to be equally spiritual. I know that Dylan and Issac definitely did.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Yes... that's two-hundred-seventy-five... that's how many tricker-treaters came to our door last night!

Last year was our first year in this neighborhood and we were completely unprepared. No one mentioned to us that kids come into the neighborhood from all over for halloween. We ran out of candy way too early and had to turn our lights out in shame. Not this year. I'm proud to say we ended the night with a bit of candy left over!

The kids were sweet and our dog and cats entertaining. I sat outside the front door and the three of them sat right inside the screen door and watched the parade.

Other excitement yesterday, I did a little trick-or-treating myself. I cast my vote in absentee. (I'll be out of town next Tuesday and didn't want to miss the chance to change the world... at least I'm hoping some things will change). The bad news is that it was touchscreen. The good news, the computer printed a receipt of my vote that I actually got to see. A paper trail... yeah!!

Knitting is continuing, slowly. The blue cable project is coming along. Swallowtail, well, I have a few more rows now finished. I've actually worked on swallowtail quite a bit. I keep making mistakes and having to rip back. At this point, I think I've knit and ripped out more than I've knit and been able to keep (sigh). It will be beautiful. I am going to continue. I really respect those knitters who whip through lace!

Enjoy your wednesday!