Smithsonian 02-2008

This morning while I waited for my coffee to perk, I leafed through the latest copy of Smithsonian Magazine. I keep a few recent magazines in the kitchen to peruse while waiting for coffee to perk or water to boil or whatever. Everyone does that, right? I keep magazines all over the house. The ones by my bed, though, are older than the ones in the kitchen. When I go to bed at night, I can read for about a paragraph before my eyes close and the magazine slips from my hand and lands on the floor with a big thump, startling the poor cats from their snoozes and most of the time waking me up long enough to turn the light out.

But I digress.

I was leafing through Smithsonian Magazine in the kitches and ran into a little blurb about chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. This particular population of chimps has been studied for more than 30 years, so quite a lot of data has been gathered both on the population as a whole and on individual chimps.

When a male chimpanzee reaches maturity, he leaves his mother’s home area and moves elsewhere, there to find new friends and a bit of love and all that. But, when times get tough…

He moves home.

I think that there are many parents out there with grown children who are oscillated in and out of their homes who could relate to this. 🙄

Knitting by Judy @ 5:41 PM

Blue Brick Wall socks
Blue Brick Wall socks

When I hopped on the Ferry to go to Friday Harbor, I had a lace shawl and three pairs of socks on the needles with me. So I did what any red-blooded knitter would do.

I cast on another pair of socks.

Because, you know, I had wound up a skein of STR just in case I finished all of my other projects. Ahem.

It was a skein that I had won at Cat’s book signing last fall. Blue Brick Wall.

Maybe it was because I’d been driving all day and was tired. Maybe my blood sugar was low. Or maybe it was just one of those perverse days. Whatever. It was Blue Brick Wall, so I knit a brick-ish sort of pattern. (It’s actually the back side of a basket weave.) And the cuff is moss stitch because, well, moss grows on brick walls, doesn’t it? The socks are posing against my rock wall. Moss grows there. The lovely, thick sock blockers are courtesy of Bobbie’s husband ToolMan.

The really interesting thing about these is that, other than a small splotch of brown over the gussets, there’s no pooling and no striping. I’m so used to STR striping at the gauge I knit it in that I’m not quite sure what to make of it. But I really, really, like the way that these came out.

It was all designed to be mindless knitting, and it filled the bill admirably. The other projects I had with me were not mindless. Except for the clown barf socks. But… well… you know.

I completed most of the Blue Brick Wall socks while on San Juan Island. It took me awhile to get them finished when I returned because I’ve been slammed. It seems like I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get things done and not accomplishing anything. But, when I look back, I really have managed to get quite a few things taken care of. I’m hoping for a chance to take a deep breath soon.

Because I hate this no-time-to-blog stuff. Blogging, like knitting, is a lifeline for me. And it’s important to stop for a minute to let the madness pass by. A wake-up call in the form of a colleague’s stress-related illness came a couple of weeks ago. My colleague will be, fortunately, OK. But will I be if I keep galloping like this? Breath… slow it down to a jog…


Saturday night my former MIL invited me to a charity auction benefiting one of the local parochial schools. There was a silent auction with lots of interesting stuff. It’s all being displayed on the tables in the back by the balloons. Then a plated dinner that was very tasty, followed by a live auction that was pretty crazy and fun.

In the silent auction, I won a $90 lube-and-oil for $25 (to go to #1 Son), and a really nice crystal martini set for $9 (to stay with me).

I didn’t bid on much in the live auction. The bidders were well oiled by the no-host bar and the wine bottles provided on the tables, and some of the bids were pretty outrageous. Like $5,500 for a reserved parking space by the church, or $2,500 for a quilt created by the 4th-graders. Oh, I know it was all for a good cause, but that sort of level is a little out of my reach! I’m hardly a high-roller.

But MIL and I went together on a spa package at the Bonneville Hotel in the Columbia River Gorge. That will be fun, I think.

We left before all of the bidding was finished. As we stood in the check-out line to find out if we won anything in the silent auction, a sewing machine came up on the block. It was a package with a retail value of $750 and the opening bid was $500. That was too high for me to go. But nobody bid. So the auctioneer (who was a real kick, by the way, and most of the entertainment) kept dropping it down. When it got down to $100… I stepped out of line and lifted up my number. There was one more bid after mine. And then I bid again. So I walked away with an electronic sewing machine, a $100 gift certificate to a fabric store and around $50 in notions for… drum roll please… $300.

All in all it was a really fun time. I hope MIL asks me to go again next year!

And thanks to those of you who sent good wishes to Phoebe. Other than having to flush her litter, everything else in my household is back to what passes for normal. You would never know that Phoebe was ever not feeling well. Of course, the blood test next month will tell the whole tale. But as far as I can tell, she’s her old self again.

Furry Friends |Knitting |On The Road by Judy @ 9:51 PM

view from my room
view from my room

I am home! And I am very glad to be here.

Friday Harbor was, as always, gorgeous. This first picture is the view from my room in The Lodge at Lakedale Resort. I was on the ground floor and only had to open the door and walk out to be right on the shore. The room was cute and cozy. There was a fireplace with an electronic starter which was appreciated just before bed and first thing in the morning to take the chill off. The rest of the time I didn’t really need it. For one thing, I was rarely in my room. But, as you can see, there are vastly worse places to spend 4+ days.

Since I overslept had so much to do on Saturday morning, I missed the 2:30 ferry. So by the time I arrived in Friday Harbor, it was dark. If you’ve ever been way out in the country away from city lights, then you know, gentle reader, just how dark dark can be. I don’t see all that well at night, so the drive out to Lakedale was… exciting, shall we say? The turn off for Lakedale leads you on an adventure down a 1 lane road over a 1 lane bridge. In the dark. There were signs pointing past the cabins to the lodge, but I couldn’t find a place to park my car. So I parked in front and went inside. And there I found an envelop with my name on it and a set of keys inside. I asked one of the Lodge hosts where to park. Right up on top there, he said, pointed up a wall of rocks to a higher area where I could see a car parked. Just go up that driveway over there, he added. I peered into the darkness, but no driveway could I see. Right up there by that truck, he explained. OK, I replied. I got in my car and carefully backed up until I was near where he had told me the driveway was. Acting totally on faith, I drove up what looked, in the blackness, to be either a wall or a bog. It was a driveway. Whew.

After parking I stumbled around the grounds in the dark, trying to find anyone that I knew. I was rescued by Cat (she seems to rescue me quite often, come to think of it), who took me in to the light and warmth and company and wonderful food.

Wings Of The Raven
Wings Of The Raven

The weather was pretty decent. There was rain. And one night there was quite a wind storm. But we did have some gloriously sunny, faux-spring warmth. A fellow retreater snapped these pictures of Wings Of A Raven for me when the sun came out. (Thank you, again, fellow retreater!)

I love this first picture because it almost shows how the colors shift in the light. See how it looks black across my back, but the left wing has flashes of blue on it?

And my hair is almost behaving itself, miracle of miracles! But I could use a little tan on my arms, it appears.

The second shot of the sun streaming through the lace shows off the feather pattern nicely, I think.

Every place I have worn this shawl I’ve gotten lots of compliments. People just want to touch it and pet it and I do, too. Of all of the objects I’ve knit, I have to admit this is one of my favorite. And I’m going to wear it a lot. Because black, you know, goes with everything. It’s the new black, or something like that.

I am not at liberty to tell you about the Visionary Retreat. I can only say that it was an amazingly diverse group of people with an amazingly diverse array of projects / interests, and the energy was, well… amazing. I felt both energized and drained, if that is possible. Although I slept like a log every night, by Thursday morning I was really, really, really tired.

Getting up early enough to be in town by 7:00 for the 8:05 ferry was trying. Thank goodness there’s a little coffee place right next to the ferry dock where decent coffee and breakfast sandwiches can be procured by hungry and sleepy travelers.

Wings Of The Raven
Wings Of The Raven

On the way home, I stopped in Tacoma for the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat. I wasn’t signed up for any classes. But I’d heard that there might be yarn involved.

And there was yarn. Lots of yarn. Walls and aisles and racks and booths of yarn.

I bought no yarn. None.

I hear your gasps of surprise out there, gentle reader. But it is true. I fondled and petted and stroked all of the yarn. But none came home with me.

I stayed away from the Koigu.

I said hello to Teresa, who did not laugh this time at my lack of sock yarn. I waved at Lucy Neatby, who was in a vast hurry to get somewhere. I spoke to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and managed, this time, not to be a total dork (only partially). And Tina petted Wings Of A Raven and agreed that it was a perfect pattern for that yarn, which was sort of cool.

But, best of all, I got to see the two people I really, really wanted to see. So, in order of actual seeing:

Shelly, from Butternut Woolens, was there with some of her yummy hand-dyed yarn and roving. Gentle reader, if you have a chance, you must see her indigo dyed sock yarn. Gorgeous! Like all of her yarns. Shelly and I had a wonderful chat. I felt sort of bad monopolizing her when there might be paying customers. But it was so fun to talk to her. Shelly is one of the few people I know who understand exactly what I mean when I say things like Island Park and Arco and continental divide, and who isn’t all that surprised that I ended up canoing in a snowstorm one August when I was a kid.

After bidding a fond farewell, I headed over to Tactile Fiber Arts’ booth, where I got to meet Brooke. And then, leaving the marketplace madness behind, Maya and I chatted over a cuppa coffee. Maya, as you will remember, gentle reader, dyed the yummy honey-colored yarn that I am using for the Honeybee Stole. So nice to tell her in person how much I love it! Maya and Brooke are dying wonderful fibers with natural, long-lasting dyes. If you have a chance to see their work, don’t miss them!

Madrona haul
Madrona haul

I didn’t escape from the marketplace entirely unscathed. I purchased a lovely new nostepinde from Asciano.

A pair of silver sheep earrings were acquired from JKF, Inc. And how could I resist the matching necklace that has as a pendant a bell with a sheep clapper?

I had planned to stay late and maybe have dinner with Maya and Brooke. But I was so, so tired I was afraid I might not make it home if I drove after dark. So I left pretty early and headed south. And, of course, arrived in Portland just in time for rush hour. Go figure.

Captain Kidd and Moo Cow were just fine, and glad to see me. #1 Son checked in on them during my absence, so I knew they’d be alright. This morning I picked Phoebe up from the vet where she had a radioactive iodine treatment. She is none the worse for wear, and hopefully will now be cured of her problems and back to normal. She will take a little extra care over the next few weeks, though, until she ceases to radiate. Or, rather, her litter will need extra care. It must be flushed for the next three weeks. And she will not be allowed to sleep with me for awhile. 🙁 (It sort of reminds me of one line from Elephant Parts: My house glows with almost no help.)

But the good thing is that we are all home and healthy and happy. And tomorrow I’m having lunch with #1 Son and we’ll have a chance to catch up, too.

Knitting by Judy @ 8:49 AM

I’m not finishing my packing — that’s what I’m not doing.

I should be finishing up my packing and getting out the door because I should have left 10 minutes ago. So instead I’m writing a short note sans pictures.

I’m on my way to Cat Bordhi’s Visionary Retreat up in Friday Harbor. It’s a long drive. There are a limited number of ferries. I did, however, plan a little slack time into the day, so I should be OK. If I miss the ferry I’m aiming for, there are at least 3 more.

I’ve spent the morning oversleeping making sure I had the right projects to take with me, and the samples I wanted to bring and the items I need to show.

The Clown Barf socks have been started over with a whirlpool toe and a different stitch count. They’re not quite so clown-barf-ish, although they do still resemble bright tropical fish that all swam into each other … really hard as ~Kristie noted in the comments.

I’m taking other sock yarn also. Just in case I can’t take the retina-searing any more.

I need to make sure that Moo Cow and Captain Kidd have plenty of food to last until I return. #1 Son will look in on them from time to time, and they will be OK. Phoebe is safely delivered to the vet. The very nice technician has promised to take very good care of her and sneak a little catnip in her cage now and then.

I’m very excited and feeling really scattered. Eek! 😯

I will return next week with pictures and report from Madrona. Keep the home fires burning! 😀

Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 8:01 AM

coming home
coming home

#1 Son arrived home late last night to much fanfare from his adoring fans.

OK… not so much. Maybe just a bit of fanfare from his adoring mom, who was very glad to see him. Mom, you don’t really need to take a picture of me as I get off the plane after 24 hours of travel. Really.

Yes I do.

He was tanned and looking a bit strung out from Carnival celebrations and 24 hours of travel. I’m so glad to have him back in Portland, at least for a while.

Moo Cow was glad to see him, too.

I frogged the Monkey Clown socks and restarted with a whirlpool toe. I’m still on the toe increases. I may knit these in plain stockinette, because… well… what pattern could possibly hold its own? #1 Son said, Clown barf is a little harsh. They’re not that bad.

We shall see. Film at 11 and all that.

Furry Friends |Knitting by Judy @ 10:50 PM

honey and … clowns?
honey and … clowns?

So, with The Wings Of the Raven finished, what was I to do but cast on a new lace project? And, well… maybe some socks. Because two pairs of socks on the needles are obviously not enough, you know.

So I spent Saturday mostly winding yarn. 1350 yds of laceweight and 360 yds of sock yarn, to be exact. It took a long time. But my handy dandy little tinker-toy swift really helped.

Then I cast on the Honeybee Stole and knit one repeat of the center pattern. I love it. I love the way the pattern is knitting up. I love the golden honey color. I love the way the colors are subtly pooling. I love the way that the cashmere/silk blend is exactly like knitting with very soft clouds.

Did I mention that I love it?

I’m a little iffy on whether I’ll have enough yarn or not. I really want to use all of it. But if I run out I can’t really run down to the LYS and get more. What I have is all there is in the whole, wide world. Which is very cool. But a little scary. So I cast on for the larger size of the stole, but I’ve gone down one needle size and I’m planning on knitting one fewer repeat in the center. Keep your fingers crossed.

For socks, I wanted something really colorful. After knitting for a couple of months on black, black, black… color just seemed like a nice thing. So I reached into my stash and pulled out the most colorful yarn that was right on top so I didn’t have to dig too far. This is Great Adirondacks Soxy in High Desert. I really love the colors in this yarn. And, yes, the blue really is that bright.

But, the way it’s knitting up… gentle reader, are you seeing… clown barf?

I’d really like opinions on this. For me, I think the jury is still out. I will knit for a bit further and see if maybe it’s going to be OK. I’m knitting a pair of toe-up Monkeys. I experimented a bit with the toe and ended up with a very pointy, rather strange looking end. But my feet are rather pointy and strange anyway. It’s all good.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your kind comments about The Wings Of The Raven. There was sun today, but alas I was not home to take pictures. It may be a week or two before I can manage that. I’m not sure I will ever be able to really do it justice. But I will definitely be wearing it next Thursday at Madrona. So if you are there, and you see a strange woman with biggish hair wearing a blackish/bluish winged stole, running around and petting all the yarn, do say hello!

#1 Son will be home tomorrow. Even as I type, he is on a plane that is winging its way from Sao Paulo. He has to make a connection and has a rather long lay-over. I get to pick him up at the airport and I’m already excited. I know I have to play it cool and nonchalant and all that. But I will be so glad to see him. And so will Moo Cow. 😆

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