Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Not only was Maine beautiful and relaxing, but Maine, she has some good fiber related activities!

During my trip we visited several yarn stores and I showed great restraint buying limited quantities of stash enhancement.

On Thursday, S and I took a little drive out to Waldoboro to Village Farm Alpacas (which is a farm store, but primarily an alpaca breeder). While I would strongly discourage anyone from taking children here (in fact the owner was pretty nasty about kids, quite intolerant), the farm was lovely. Here's a pic of the shop just so you can get a sense of the yarn.

All the yarn they sell is 100% alpaca and the wool is from their own animals which I thought was quite nice (I wanted to purchase some locally grown wool while I was in Maine and this fit the bill). You can get a sense of the colors of the yarns from the pictures... all natural colors, no dyes. They do blend colors from different animals to get the variations in browns and especially the grey. They were beautiful.

More beautiful... the adorable little animals.

I had no idea how small alpaca were or how cute.

They had several adult animals as well as some babies.

Just tooooooo cute! I was suprised to find that there wasn't much sheep farming, but from a Maine fiber guide we got at the farm it does appear that there are a number of alpaca farms.

In addition to alpaca visits, there was also some knitting time. We had one glorious rainy day -- you have to realize that for us LA-ers, rain is something to be appreciated! It was perfect for curling up on the couch and knitting.

I was also able to deliver Bubby to my new friend Josh.

And then of course I had to immediately start another gift for the little guy. This time a wee sweater (of course not small enough for him to fit into right away... grin).

With all my travel time (did I mention that in addition to being delayed three hours on the trip there we also got stranded in Cleveland on the way home and had to spend the night there.... grrrr), I also finished my toe up socks. Yeah!!!

S likes to call the shot above the wicked witch of the west pose.

I have to say I was glad to get these done. Socks take a long time in my opinion. The leg... all that K1 P1 ribbing... yucky. All in all, I am pleased with how they came out... very colorful. I'm pleased to say now that I feel confident in both top-down and toe-up methods... good progress on my 2007 new year's resolutions too.

Toe-up Socks with Peasant Heel by Joan McGowan-Michael (received during sock class)
less than 2 balls of Cascade Fixation (98.3% cotton, 1.7% elastic)
Color 9054 Lot 210183
US size 3 bamboo dpns
first sock cast on June 24, 2007
second sock finished July 30, 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007


Our vacation to Maine was wonderful!

We stayed about an hour north of Portland in a small community called Edgecomb and traveled from there. Our destinations included (among others) Wiscasset, Bath, Boothbay Harbor, Damariscotta, Waldaboro, Rockland, Mosier Island, Pemaquid Point, and Friendship. We spent most of our time in Wiscasset and Damariscotta and found both of these charming. Since Maine in summer is nothing if not beautiful, I'll let some photos speak for themselves.

We looked at lots of scenery like this...

ate lots of meals like this ...

had lots of chats like this...

watched some magnificent sunsets like this ...

ate at places like this (more than once... the pie!) ...

had more than our fair share of these ...

visited the coast and experienced cool, windy Maine like this (this is Pemaquid Point at the lighthouse) ...

even did a little hill rolling...

did some sea kayaking ...

and did what our friends S and P (and apparently others) call ...


It was a terrifically relaxing, beautiful vacation. The company was fantastic and the location couldn't have been better. We're looking forward to another visit at some point in the future!

Fiber related vacation news comes next....

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The beginning

The vacation has begun. Of course our first whole day was spent in a plane or airport... but hey... it's vacation!

We left for LAX at around 8:30 am yesterday, sock in tow.

Plane riding makes for good knitting time.

In fact there was lots of knitting time. Our first flight was late by about 30-45 minutes. The second flight... Well see for yourself.

Here's the sock after 2 hours of delay...

Here's S making our friend Stacy very proud (gotta love them wipes).

Here were are 3 hours after our scheduled flight time.

I'm please to say that we did make it to Portland at about 1am... just a little too late to go buy Harry Potter, but after considerable sock progress.

More updates of the trip as internet access and time permits!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Another start

Tuesday evening was my local SnB and I continued with my mindless stockinette stich as I worked on the foot of my second sock. It will get done, have no fear, but in the meantime I've cast on another project. This is an anthropologie style capelet designed by Julsey.

It's a simple raglan style, knit from the top down, sweater and I think will whip up fairly easily. I'm using KnitPicks Sierra (70% wool, 30% superfine alpaca) which is a chunky weight yarn. Chunky goooooooooood.

S and I will be offline for the next week... yes we are taking a bit of a vacation. I'll save up pictures and have fun stuff to share when we get back. I'll be taking lots of yarn with me too so hopefully I'll have some finished projects as well!

Of course it's going to be hard to leave the boys behind... I mean look at these cuties!

Issac is pondering giving up his litter box and Dylan just thinks the sink might be a better source of clean water than the bowls in the kitchen. Sterling also won't be happy we're leaving him with a house sitter. I suspect we'll see some sitting in the window and barking as we drive away. So sad! =[

Nevertheless, vacation calls. Wonder if I'll be able to find some yarn shops?
Happy knitting everyone and talk to you again soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Knit, purl, knit, purl

After about 5 inches of K1P1 rib (yucky!) I now have one complete toe up sock. Yeah!

On such an auspicious occassion, we must have at least one more view.

I've already cast on and completed the toe on the second to make sure this one isn't a lonely child for long!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lotus, nature, and food

This weekend was all about appreciation for me... appreciating nature and food.

We started yesterday afternoon with a visit to Echo Park for the annual Lotus Festival.

My family regularly goes to the Lotus Festival hosted by the local Buddist temple in Port Arthur, Texas. All their descriptions have always made me want to participate (but I've never been visiting during that time of the year).

Last weekend the LA Times ran a story about the Lotus Festival here in LA so S and I made plans to go this weekend.

I think that the two events are probably about as different as you can get. It sounds like the Port Arthur festival is more of a religious celebration with much appreciation of the plant and nature in general (looking at their web pages it appears to be a celebration of Budda's birthday).

Our festival, which didn't have any clear attachment to any Buddist group, was a bit more like a carnival. Fair food (corn dog on a stick anyone?) and lots of booths selling imports. Nevertheless, we had a nice time walking around the lake and admiring the few lotus blossoms that were present.

It's been a hard year for the lotus here. They are speculating that this is due to the low rainful and high heat.

To be fair I should mention that there was a bit of an Asian presence at the festival, as evident from the dragon above. There were also some exhibitions (traditional asian and polynesian dancing). Maybe there was a spiritual element there too... but if so, I missed it [grin].

Of course there was at least one evil spirit present. This is an image of of a corrupt young boy about the run screaming through a flock of pigeons that were being quietly and pleasantly fed by a elderly man. Sigh... so much for peaceful reflection.

The lotus buds were quite beautiful though, and you do take your peace with you, so we had a great time. I think one of these days I need to try to make it to a temple for a more traditional celebration though.

After we left the festival we drove to the beach so we could spend a bit of quiet time reflecting on the ocean. Beautiful evening visit. Temps at the coast in the 70s, beautiful coastal breeze... a nice contrast to the festival.

Our day finished up with appreciation for food with evening spent with the Viand. I wish I had photos to share of this event but we foolishly didn't take any. You can at least see pictures on the Viand's webpages to get a sense of what the group was like though.

The idea of the viand is a blend of slow food, small plates, locally grown produce, sustainable living, and hand made food. One of the organizers is a friend of S's and she invited us to join the group. The group meets once per month and about 20 people attend each time, half 1st timers and half returning guests.

I think the tag line they use on their web page sums it up for me...

I think it's a phenomenal idea to really consider how we can become more cognizant of our food... where it grows, the resources consumed to grow and transport it, how it's prepared. (I know Hannah at the Purloined Letter has been writing about this quite a bit in the past month).

The other great thing about this dinner... everything was delicious!
It's 10 courses (meaning 10 different items, served one at a time, in very small servings - small plates).

Crostini with goat cheese and a tapenade made with figs and pomegranates (yumm!)
Cucumber and purslane salad
Grape leaves filled with a rice mixture with apricots and feta
Sauteed greens (I believe this was called something like lambshank... a green I had never had before)
Crostini with heirloom tomatoes and thinnly sliced parmesean
Hierloom tomato sample (8 different heirlooms sliced in small chunks so you could try each)
Pork loin stuffed with figs (as veggies we skipped this course)
Corn muffins with grilled peppers
Grilled peaches with cayanne pepper (yummm too)
Chocolate cake with a raspberry puree

Delicious! Even skipping the bread items and the meat (my meat and wheat avoidance issues) it was a fabulous experience. Definitely inspires you to eat more simply and locally.

I can hardly wait to get more heirloom tomatoes out of our yard.

So a very full and pleasant day.

Of course, it wouldn't be fair for me not to give you an update on the knitting front too.

After finishing up my shrug, I've decided to work a bit more on my toe-up sock. Here's the photo from early Saturday (I think) which I was going to blog before we left for our adventures. Pre-heel you'll see.

Here's the sock later in the afternoon, heel turned!

I've even gotten a bit further along on a K1,P1 ribbed leg of the sock (knitting while talking on the phone makes for good progress, but a bit of a shoulder cramp!). I might actually finish this soon and be ready to start on number 2. The best thing, no fear now about the toe up sock. Simple. I'm going to reserve judgement for a bit, but right now I think I may actually prefer the leg down sock a bit better... but again, let's wait for the end to see.

Happy reflecting, eating, and knitting everyone!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Retro redux

With amazing speed, I present another finished object... the retro redux shrug from Lace Style.

This was definitely a quick and easy knit and my first shrug. I am very pleased with how this came out... not too small, plenty of length. I'm not sure I'm a huge shrug fan in general, but this is an item I think I'll be able to get plenty of wear out of.

Retro Redux Shrug from Lace Style
just under 2 hanks of Malabrigo in 96 Sunset (kettle dyed pure merino wool)
US size 8, 9, 10, and 10 1/2 circulars
cast on June 28, 2007
finished July 10, 2007

Knitted for 38" cuff to cuff size. No modifications made, although I did block the body before I picked up the stiches to do the ribbed trim (I wanted to make sure the size would work before I continued knitting).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sweater mania

Later this month S and I are going on a trip to visit friends and we'll be meeting the newest member of our friend-circle (although it's hard to believe he's over 7 months old now!). In honor of this auspicious occassion, I felt the need to cast on for a gift.

After the slow progress I've been making on my own sweater projects recently, I decided I should start a small project and decided on Bubby from knitty.com.

After only one full day of knitting... amazing ... a finished object. But somehow poor Bubby just didn't look finished and I thought to myself "Bubby needs clothes." Last week I sprung for the discounted copy of Knit 2 Together and I remembered seeing the cute mice in that book. With a few alterations to the vassar sweater, Bubby has clothes!!

I can't tell you how cute I think this little guy turned out. The sweater definitely makes the bear! After my heady success I couldn't stop so I cast on for another sweater ...

... now my Ikea human figure won't catch cold. (Of course now I'm tempted to knit him a kilt so he doesn't look indecent).

And look... they practically look like brothers!

Bubby from knitty.com
sweaters are improvised based on inspiration from Vassar sweater (p. 72) of Knit 2 Together
just bits of Red Heart Soft Yarn in 9114 Honey and 1882 Toast
US size 3 dpns for bubby, US size 4 dpns for sweaters
cast on July 7, 2007
finished July 8, 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Meet Liz

Looks like I'm a character from a science fiction film, hmm? Laugh... well almost.

Months ago I found instructions for making a dressform from duct tape and newspaper and today I talked S into helping me make one.

[There's a great pictorial at http://www.gleek.net/gallery/main.php/v/crafty/experiments/duct-tape-dressform/
and another picture of a finished object on Canary Knit's blog].

You basically start by putting on a tshirt you are willing to sacrifice and then completely wrapping yourself in duct tape. This was fun -- I kept taking giant breaths to make sure that S didn't suffocate me by making me a mummy before my time.

Wow... it's almost like wearing a corset!

After you are all taped up, you literally cut the tshirt and tape off of your body (we made one long cut down my spine), then tape it back up and stuff it with newspaper.

There she is... a finished Liz! We put a hanger with a swivel hook into the form as we stuffed it so she can hang as well as sit.

It was a fun experiment. We'll see how much use I get out of her. I may need to shorten the arms in the future. I put my picovoli onto her (sleeveless) and that worked fine, but I think anything with sleeves might be hard to manage.

On the knitting front, I've also used by official day off work to continue on my shrug and I've also put a few more inches on my toe up sock.

I'm getting much more of a feel for why people knit so many socks this time. Talk about mindless knitting. Nice!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Knitting with the Gritty

Today was the showing of the Knitty Gritty episode, Rockin Regal Cuffs, I filmed back in December. That's me, second from the right.

The segment was with Tricia Waddell (below) who demonstrated a couple of the lace patterns from the newish book Lace Style (from which I am currently knitting the retro redux shrug).

Here's the most recent photo of my shrug.

We had a great time filming the episode and it's funny to see how they take almost 2 1/2 hours and distill it down to 18 minutes.

There are lots of funny faces that can be captured from video,

and S really likes this one because it proves that it was filmed for the DIY network (although it showed today on HGTV), and shows me talking about my project (it's the teaser for the final segment of the episode).

Here I am proudly chatting about the lace trim I put on the bottom of a skirt (this is the pattern from the edges of the long long lacy gloves in the book).

It was fun to see Etta and

Sarah again too.

It's funny to see a slice of time like that. Since December my knitting skills have certainly advanced. While lace was a challenge for me then, I don't feel intimidated by it at all now. Of course that doesn't mean that I've gone back to finish my swallowtail shawl yet (laugh). Maybe that will come off the UFO pile and back into rotation soon.

If you didn't see my original posts on Knitty Gritty, I chatted about the experience (and meeting both Cookie A. and the Harlot as they each taped their episodes) here and here.