Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fencing the property

hehehehe... ok not that kind of fencing or property.

S is putting up a new fence around our house! Now it isn't that we hadn't had enough hard work and manual labor earlier this week (taking out the tree remnants) but S had a plan to finish the fence before the end of the summer. School starts in about three weeks so the shot has fired, the race has begun. Doesn't it look pretty so far?

Sterling isn't really sure what he thinks of all of this. Even though S put a little window through one of the gates so he can see everything, I have to admit he looks downright frightened by the whole process.

Sterling will have lots of time to acclimate to the process though. See the neighbor's yard there... there's lots of fence left to go up.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And now a knitting related post

Yes I'm sure everyone thought I must have simply given up knitting. All you get is posts on trees, salsa, soup ... well today we get back to knitting.

I'm pleased to report that FiFi is progressing quite nicely.

Yesterday I reached the try on stage and modeled it both on my doppelganger ...

and on the real thing, me. So far so good. I've separated the sleeves and am now one row away from moving to the lower bottice pattern.

This is really a fun pattern and, while moving a little slowly for me (it is very fine gauge yarn and small needles!), I love the cable action. I'm also finding the Rowan Calmer quite enjoyable to work with.

Knitting progress... it is good!

Monday, August 27, 2007


A small to middle size disaster struck our little abode this weekend.

Friday evening as we, ever so calmly, made preparations to grill our dinner, one of our backyard eucalyptus trees decided it needed to shed some weight.

Yes I know, it doesn't look like all that much from that angle; after all it was only a branch with a one foot diameter. Here are some increasingly graphic photos. Shield your ideas if tree death alarms you.

Former majesty, draped over newly downed electric and cable wires.

Patio furniture, lime tree, and various and sundry plants and wires buried under tons of foilage.

Here's the long view. Sad isn't it?

The good news, no deaths (other than the tree which will probably have to come down now that a third of it is missing). S did have a bit of leaf burn... he was outside lighting the grill just behind where you can see the green canvas patio umbrella. Fortunately, instincts kicked in when he heard the crack and he got out of the way in time to miss the big stuff.

Bad news ... we had no electricity over night. Good news... it was like camp. Better news, S was able to do a bit of repair work himself Saturday morning and Edison came out quickly to get us "back on the grid."

Bad news... we have had no cable and, worse, NO INTERNET since Friday! I actually had to come to work today to be able to read email, check blogs, and post (not to mention work). Horrors! Unfortunately there isn't good news here ... the cable people came out yesterday and couldn't fix it ... the line is deader than a doornail. They were supposed to come back this morning to drop a new line. Have I mentioned we still don't have cable?

After waiting three hours for our scheduled appointment to show this morning, we finally called. Oh yeah, they moved our appt to Sept 1 without telling us!!! Thanks for nothing Time Warner. After a bit of appropriate complaining, they did move the appt up until Aug 31. Geez.. shows you what a monopoly does.

Good news... all in all, so far the expenses out of our pocket haven't been too bad. The bad news, taking the tree out will be the most expensive task and the insurance won't help with that at all... after all, why would insurance want to cover any preventative services... so much better to wait for the tree to die, fall on the house, kill someone and break through the roof... that they'll cover. Capitalism!!

So what's a girl to do when there's no cable, no internet, and no electricity? Well sleep when it's dark of course. Knitting in the dark is hard though. Even when the electricity came on I found myself a bit listless.

After conspiring to get a family recipe though, I did manage to make a big ole' mess of salsa.

Thanks Terri, Cindy, and Bree for sharing the secret!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Capelet FO

Tuesday afternoon, before my spinning class, the yarn I ordered to finish my anthropology inspired capelet (designed by Julsey) arrived. With only two armholes to finish, I zipped that project off the WIP list.

Last night I blocked out the fronts (which still want to curve in a bit; I really think it needed 4 stitches of garter stich at the edges rather than the 2 the pattern called for).

Overall, I think this will be a nice little warm addition to the decor of my new, rather cold, office.

Anthropology inspired capelet by Julsey
3 skeins of Knit Picks Sierra/Cadena (70% wool, 30% superfine alpaca)
in Natural
US size 10 1/2 circulars
cast on July 18, 2007
finished August 21, 2007

This morning, following the advice of my fab instructor John, I started my daily spinning practice.

I'm glad to say I remembered all the steps to get started and was able to create some nice, thin, fairly even singles today.

Yeah spinning! Yeah FOs.

p.s. Knitting progress continues on FiFi... pictures to come later.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hehehe ... spin ... hehehe

Last night was my spinning class at A Mano Yarn and I had sooooo much fun. I just want to giggle with glee still.

There were about 6 of us there to learn and John Pitblado, our instructor, was great! He walked us through all the steps in a very simple, matter of fact way. Thanks to him it felt easy!

After a few hours I had a spindle full of yarn. You can tell from the photo above that I started off pretty rough (the big fluffy stuff near the bottom right of the photo), but finished pretty strong with nice thin, consistent yarn. I was pretty pleased with myself.

After we all had a bit of yarn, John showed us how to ply. First we did some crazy wrap around your hand trick. (I think this was to do Andean plying but the details escape me now). Here's the front view ...

and the back...

Then we spun the beginning and the end of the yarn together into a two-ply yarn.

Here's my cute little finished baby skein and the spindle I purchased at the end of the class so I can practice more (as a tip, the Louet starting kit for spinning comes with a crappy spindle but with fairly nice fiber... I thought it spun up pretty soft).

Here, you can see I actually got some usable yarn by the end of the class. I'm such the proud mama.

Very enjoyable experience! John really is great... I think having such a good instructor really made this easy and fun. Having read a lot of instructions online I felt a bit overwhealmed. Walking through each step with him made it seem easy as eating pie.

Other yarnies out there... try it out. Spinning is fun!

Monday, August 20, 2007


I'm please to announce that my big office move is now complete. All stacks of papers are neatly filed away (after sorting... no small job!) and all books are resting on newly moved bookshelves.

I think this will be a great environment to get quality work done.

A svelte S (who has lost 7 lbs... yeahhh S!) thinks so too

The best thing about this office... the view. You can't really tell from this photo but when you look between those trees, you can see the mountains. Come winter, when the leaves fall, the view will be even more spectacular.

I'm a contented office girl.

The other bonus about moving this weekend, we stumbled across a yard sale and picked up this beauty for a steal.

She fits perfectly in the living room and should provide hours of rocking enjoyment.

Our other big adventures this weekend (in addition to fiber related news previously shared) was another visit to the Viand and another movie (the Bourne Ultimatum this time... I know, 4 movies in a row, can you believe it?).

The Viand was, again, delicious. I don't have the menu in front of me, but 10 small items again, served over the course of an evening; all homemade from locally raised or produce items.

[edited later to add:]
gargonzola crostini
watermelon salad with rustica salata
summer roasted veggies
date and orange salad with pistachios
potato onion gratin
raddicio salad
sweet potato on pear
pan seared halloum with strawberry jam
vanilla ice cream with berry coulis
dessert on toast

Simply delicious.

Unfortunately the current hosts of the viand are moving so the group is going on a short hiatus. I'm hoping they will find another location (we are too far away to host). If not, we may really have to seriously think about doing something here ourselves. It's good to see just how wonderful homemade, local food can be and to savor each item.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fiber Festing

Well so far this weekend I have spent quite a bit of time moving, festing, feasting, and ravelring. I'll save details on the feasting and moving for later (I'm hoping to finish moving later this afternoon and will take "after" photos).

After my last post I spend several hours uploading all my FO into ravelry and then playing around a bit looking at other people's projects. I did get a few ideas for using the alpaca I purchased in Maine and at least started thinking about another project for S.

Friday was spent primarily festing however.

This was my first visit to the Santa Monica Fiber Fest and it was about what I expected. The event was on the smallish size and since it was focused on all fiber arts, knitting related items were only minimally represented. Now I don't want to come off negative here... what was there was nice... but it is what it is -- a relatively small festival.

But do you know what the best part was?

This guy brought 3 of his English Angora rabbits with him and plucked and spun yarn right there in front of us. I suppose I'm easily entertained but I found this simply fascinating! The bunnies were very cute and he made it all look so easy.

Other cute fiber-bearers were also present including these three alpaca and ...

some cute chinchilla. The people who brought the chinchilla said that one of their little ones had delivered babies that morning.

I think I like that actual connection between the animal and fiber product. Perhaps I always have but reading the Omnivore's Dilemma has definitely been driving that message home for me.

So did I buy anything at the fest? Relatively little. I did however begin my spinning quest in earnest with the purchase of this 50% BFL, 50% Alpaca blend (BlissFul) from Knitifacts.

The owner Laura was very helpful and supportive and helped me to pick something out that I might actually have success spinnning into a shawl or stole at some point in the future.

And moving closer to that goal, I have signed up for the drop spinning class at A Mano Yarns this week. S and I drove by the store after the fest so I'd know where it was and went in to take a look around.

I decided to go ahead and buy a starter kit before class. We'll see if I can learn anything on my own before class tuesday. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reveling in Ravelry

Yes, it's true... after waiting a couple of months, I am now on Ravelry. I only spent about an hour online last night but I can definitely see how a site like this will be helpful. I've been thinking about knitting clapotis, but I'm just not sure what's so special about this knit. Bobbi's recent FO has made me rethink that though.

On ravelry, with one click, I can look at hundreds of pictures of finished clapoti. I can check out what yarns people have completed the pattern in and just check out what projects people have completed with a given yarn. Definitely a great resource. I'll probably be spending time over the weekend starting to get some of my projects online.

Other good news, I get to move offices this weekend. One of my colleages has left and, in doing so, has left open an office with a big window. Yeahhhh... I'm next on the list to get to move! S is going to help me move things over the weekend so by Monday I should be in my new digs. I'll take photos... have no fear.

And a third piece of good news, Fifi continues to progress well.

I am really enjoying this sweater. I've always said that cables gives you big bang for the buck and this sweater is definitely proof of that. I'm using the Rowan Calmer required by the pattern and love it so far. It provides great stitch definition and is soft and excellent to knit with. What great stuff! I'm not sure how much time I'll have to work on this between the Santa Monica Fiber Festival, Ravelry, and moving offices, but I'll keep everyone posted on the growth of my little circle.

p.s. Look for me on Ravelry as DoesLizKnit

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fresh from the farm Sunday

Yesterday was another calm, in-touch-with-nature day. I started my morning with a nice leisurely walk with my four-legged friend Sterling and then made my way over to the local farmers' market.

There was much bounty to behold. Given this I felt compelled to further my quest to eat locally. To do this, cooking was in order.

First, I turned this bunch of beauty ...

into this...

Carrot bisque.... ummmmm.

Then I turned this plethora of fruit...

into this...

Rustic tomato soup... parmigiano reggiano slivers... yummmy.

After a day full of cooking, I decided I was ready to start another project. Next up, Fifi!

So far I'm loving the cabled yumminess and the Rowan Calmer... nice yarn!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Becoming... a movie goer

Something strange and amazing has happened this weekend... I've now gone to see two movies! Now maybe this isn't so unusual for others, but I've fallen into a habit of not seeing many films at all. In fact, I think I've seen only two others at the theater this year (and one of those was Harry Potter just a few weeks ago).

In some ways the not seeing films is what is most suprising about me. When I was in grad school, I think I saw, on average, 2-3 movies a week. There was almost no movie I didn't see. Something changed over time though.

I do love the movies when I go. I'm one of those people who can just disappear into a film and think of nothing else. I can generally even tune out the chatty cathys who sit near me I'm so engaged. Books are similar for me, but I love the visuals of a good movie.

That (the visuals) made the movie I saw yesterday fantastic, Becoming Jane.

Check out the trailer and some of the pics online.

It's a fictionalized period piece based on Jane Austen and a romantic relationship she may have had. The scenery is beautiful and the story line predictable (but then we all know Jane Austen didn't marry don't we?) but quite charming. I even thought the music was a great addition to the film.

I like Anne Hathaway and thought she did a nice job here with the English accent. The rest of the cast was great too. James McAvoy (who I see has done quite a bit of acting but I knew as Mr. Tumnus from the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Julie Walters (Ms. Weasley from HP), Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall from HP), and James Cromwell all do great jobs.

Again, if you're looking for something fun to do... I'd recommend this one.

On the other becoming front, Josh's cable sweater has stopped becoming and now exists in full. I present Josh's wee cable sweater.

Yankee Knitter Designs' Easy Bulky Sweater (Patterns #30)
3 balls of Steinbach Wolle Sport (20% wool, 80% acrylic), a bulky weight yarn
(both pattern and yarn purchased during trip to Maine, in Portland)
a gray tweed color (36816, 093)
Child's XS
US size 8 and 10 circulars
cast on July 23, 2007
finished August 11, 2007

This was a straightforward, clear pattern with little complication. The XS is still going to be toooo big for Josh, but I suppose he will eventually grow into it. Better too large than too small in my opinion.

I'd consider knitting one of these for myself or for S. The pattern gives instructions for both children's and adult sizes. Of course, the sweater is very boxy... no shaping ... which could have pros and cons!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another week gone

The end of another week... Friday almost gone. It's been a reasonably good week. Definitely has ended with a good day.

This afternoon I saw the movie Stardust. Have you seen it yet? You should.

I left work a bit early today so I could catch a matinee showing and it was very good fun.

Beautiful scenery... good acting... very funny lines.

Michelle Pfeiffer was excellent in it as were Robert De Niro, Charlie Cox, and Claire Danes. Very entertaining -- laugh out loud funny in several parts. All and all, a great way to spend a couple of hours.

For those of you who haven't heard much about this movie yet, here's my brief synopsis. Yvaine (Danes) is a star (yep the kind in the evening sky) who has fallen to earth. Lamia (Pfeiffer) is a witch who wants to capture Yvaine and eat her heart in order to return her (Lamia's) youth and beauty. Tristan (Cox) is an English lad (not from the enchanted world) who crossed over into Stormhold to find the fallen star to impress a local girl. He of course becomes the hero to Yvaine and is helped along the way by a lightening pirate (he steals lightening to sell on the black market), Captain Shakespear (De Niro). Fun and frivolity (as well as some darker spots too) ensue.

Check out the trailer to get a taste, or even better watch the trailer and other images at the film's official web site... pretty impressive.

Today also saw a temporary end to my knitting on the capelet.

(Taking this photo of myself gave me a much better appreciation of the talent those of you who take your own photos have... how do you do it?!)

The capelet is coming along just fine. I've divided for the sleeves and body but unfortunately have run out of yarn. I'll have to wait a few days for reinforcements before I can start again and finish this project up. Good news is it does fit so far.

And last, over the last 2-3 days I have become obsessed with the idea of learning how to spin. I think it started with the general approach that I want to have for life which is being sustainable. Now hang with me here, this is going to be a stretch. Being sustainable means purchasing materials close by that are less industrial, less processed (minimizing the massive shipping and production aspect of waste). So I think to myself, I should try to purchase locally grown and processed yarn. Then I think, well maybe I should go even further back than that, I should find locally grown wools and spin them myself. Well you get the drift here.

I've been searching the web for info on spinning and have decided I really want to take a class to learn. The Fiber Fest in Santa Monica (which I will be visiting for sure!) has some spinning lessons next weekend, but I'm afraid they may be too advanced for me. The instructor appears to be quite well known so I suspect it will be advanced spinners wanting to work with her. After looking around a bit more there do appear to be lessons later this month at A Mano Yarn in Venice. I think perhaps that what I'll shoot for.

Doesn't spinning sound like another fun hobby? Of course, that just means more equipment and supplies. That's not very sustainable. I'll have to be careful. With inspiration all over the web, people spinning everywhere (see examples just in the last couple of days from Kate and YarnPirate), it's hard to resist though.

I hope it's not like throwing pottery. That I had no talent for (grin)!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The time approaches

It's getting close...
  • You signed up on June 13, 2007
  • You are #8851 on the list.
  • 532 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 15225 people are behind you in line.
  • 34% of the list has been invited so far
So is the capelet....

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Nature is good for the soul

I've just realized as I've been putting together the photos for this blog entry that nature is doing her best to soothe my soul today. Yesterday was a bit tough on my psyche... nothing bad, just lots of minor irritants that allowed me to end my day a bit testy.

This morning I'm going to work from home. I have the windows and doors open to a cool, slightly overcast day. I purchased these lilies from the farmers' market sunday and they are working wonders on my centeredness.

All that tranquil green and white... it's a blessing.

A walk around the garden this morning reveals even more beauty.

We decided to let our artichokes go to flower (since we don't seem to really eat whole artichokes and don't have the skill to determine how to get the hearts out) and look at this beauty. The deep lavendar color of these is just amazing.

And if you look closely at the picture above you'll be astonished to see that this zucchini flower is holding a pool of water, just like a little living cup.

These truely are the small things that we all need to appreciate.

Sunday night I did spend a bit more time on the cable sweater... enough to finish up one of the sleeves and start on the other. Good progress.

Last night I just needed a change and decided to start on the capelet again.

I didn't spend too much time on this, but it was nice to work on some nice neutral colored wool-alpaca blend. Once I devote some time it should be a fairly quick project.

I think today will be a very good day.