new toy
new toy

Yes, I have a new toy. I’m not going to talk about it much – just show you a picture. I only have one of them, but thanks to the magic of Photoshop, I am able to show you both sides at the same time. Love it. What I really love is going to meetings with a bunch of geek types. For quite awhile, now, I’ve been forced to watch them casually set their iPhones down on the conference table, carefully arranged to be in sight of everyone there. I kept my poor little PEBL in my pocket, so it wouldn’t feel inferior. The last week I’ve been casually setting my lovely, obviously gen 2 because it’s white, iPhone down on the table, carefully in sight of those with their gen 1 iPhones. It was noticed. :mrgreen: I’m a geek grrl. I admit it.

And why did I make this little purchase? #1 Son’s birthday was a week ago last Friday, coincidentally the same day as the world wide launch of the iPhone 3G. I decided that I deserved a present for his birthday, what with all of his travels and the gray hairs I’ve gained (nicely covered up by Carla The Wonderstylist) and such. Don’t you agree?

At any rate, speaking of #1 Son, when last we spoke he had missed his plane from Germany on Wednesday, but we were hoping that he would be able to get on the plane the next day.

There was no 3:30 AM, I missed my flight, wake-up call on Thursday. So that gave me hope that at least he was actually on the plane. I had asked him to call me from Philadelphia, but no call came. When I checked online, however, I noted that there was probably just about enough time between his flights for him to get through customs/immigration and make it to the connection. Assuming that I would hear only if something went wrong, I hied myself to the airport at the appointed time. I had looked online to see what gate the airplane would be coming in at, and parked on that side of the airport. I remember his return from Brazil and the crazy heavy stuff he had to carry.

And then I went to the waiting area by the security for that concourse and I waited. And waited. And waited. I could see via my new toy that his plane had arrived. A stream of people came up the concourse, met their loved ones and headed off. And no #1 Son. I was beginning to feel a bit of panic, when I finally spotted him. I breathed a sigh of relief and gave him a big hug. Can’t begin to tell you how glad I was to have him in Portland!

We walked to the baggage area, hauling his carry-on bags. He had a small duffel, a tote bag full of records (remember how heavy those are?), and his guitar case. We marched to the side of the airport where his plane had arrived – the side of the airport where I had parked. An announcement came that baggage from his flight would be coming on a belt on the exact opposite side of the airport.

OK, I thought, it’s going to be that kind of evening.

We hauled his carry-on bags across the airport to the designated baggage carousel. And waited, and waited, and waited. And his bags did not come. What are we looking for? I asked.

#1 Son: A black, sort of Euro-style backpack and a cymbal case that I brought back for Drummer Boy. All of my clothes are in the backpack. And, uh, my wallet is sort of in the backpack, too, with all my ID and my driver’s license and money and stuff.

Mom: You should always carry your ID on you, not check it!

#1 Son: I’m traveling on a passport. I don’t really need my driver’s license.

Mom: You will need it to drive home from my house.

#1 Son: … that’s true.

We waited. Passengers picked up their luggage. The number of unclaimed bags became smaller and smaller. No new bags came out of the bowels of the airport. Eventually the belt stopped.

Well, I said. The good news is that, since we had to come over to this side of the airport, we’re right next to the lost baggage claim area! You go talk to them and I’ll sit here with your stuff.

Off he went, and I waited. After a bit, a goodly bit, he returned. The airlines didn’t have a clue where his bag was. But there was a second flight coming in at midnight, and his bags might be on that.

After some discussion, we decided to stay and wait, in the hope that the bags actually would be on the second flight, and thus he would have a few rather necessary things like clothing, a tooth brush, and his wallet. But there was no reason to schlep his heavy stuff all over the airport. Instead, we schlepped it to the parking structure across the airport, where I had thoughtfully parked, as you will remember gentle reader, to be close to his arrival. At the car, we had this conversation:

Mom: Did you managed to make it to a yarn shop?

#1 Son: I did! I had to go to two of them, because the first one was closed. But the second one had tons of yarn. The lady in there was really nice, but she was the only person I met in all of Germany who spoke absolutely no English. I had a hard time communicating what I wanted, but finally I pulled up my pant leg and pointed at my socks and said “socks” a couple of times. She pointed at some shelves in the back and I picked up a bunch of yarn and bought it for you. I’m pretty sure it’s sock yarn.

Mom: I suppose it’s in your backpack.

#1 Son: No! It’s in my guitar case! Made great padding.

He popped open his guitar case, and, sure enough, there were 5 balls of yarn. I picked up a ball. There was no ball band, but it looked sort of like maybe Trekking or Opal — that kind of ball and some sort of self-striping colorway.

Mom: This looks… OK. Where’s the ball band?

#1 Son: The what?

Mom: The ball band. You know. The label that goes around the ball of yarn to tell you the fiber content and the manufacturer and the color and all that stuff.

#1 Son: I don’t know. I don’t think there were any. Is it OK? I didn’t get any that was pink.

Mom: Yes, sweetie. I’m sure it’s fine. Thank you for avoiding the pink.

#1 Son: You’re going to blog this, aren’t you.

Mom: Yes, I am. I’m going to brag about how wonderful my son is, who brings me sock yarn all the way from Germany. And who managed to be understood in a yarn store outside his native country. And how wonderful is that?

#1 Son: Is the yarn OK?

Mom: Sweetie, it’s not quite what I expected. But it’s yarn, and it looks pretty, and it will be made into socks. I am so happy that you did this. Thank you very much! Now, let’s move the car over to the side of the airport where your bags will come (if they come) and get you something to eat.

#1 Son: I’m not really hungry, but OK.

He kept protesting that he wasn’t very hungry as he devoured a huge veggie sandwich, a carton of yogurt and a pint of orange juice. We had a nice chat as we waited for midnight and flight #2 to arrive.

#1 Son: Can you look on your phone thingy and see if they’ve found my bags yet? Here’s the claim number. Look how they described the cymbal case as a hatbox. I kept telling her that it wasn’t a hatbox, or even really the shape of a hatbox, and it would be better to use the other category and describe it. But she insisted on using hatbox. And not a clue where the bags were at all.

Mom: Hopefully they’re not looking for a hatbox, because according to the claim lookup online, they are still attempting to locate your bags and that will make them harder to find.

#1 Son: I can’t figure out why they don’t know where they are. Shouldn’t they scan them when they load them on a flight, or something?

Mom: I don’t know. If I’d designed the system they would. And most times when my bags didn’t arrive on the same flight as I did, they’ve been able to tell me what flight they were on. So I don’t know what’s going on with this airline. I’ve never flown it before.

#1 Son: I’m never flying them again.

Mom: OK

At the appointed time, we stood next to the baggage carousel of doom. And waited. And waited. And passengers picked up their bags and left with smiling faces. And we waited. We were both sure that we were waiting in vain. All of a sudden, I spotted something…

Mom: Is that your backpack?

#1 Son: OMG! It is! [grabbing it off the belt]

Mom: Look! Look! There’s the hatbox… er, cymbal case.

#1 Son: Very funny. [grabbing it off the belt]

Mom: Is there anything else?

#1 Son: That’s all!

Mom: Yea!

He dug around in his backpack for his wallet, and pulled out another skein of yarn.

Back we went to the car – now closer than last time. Mom, I’m really tired. I can’t begin to tell you how tired I am. Please just drop me off at your house, and I’ll come over tomorrow and pick up my car. OK?

So that’s what we did. And when he walked in his door, all of his friends and roommates – who had been waiting for his return – sent up a shout of joy that was probably heard all the way to Salem, and scared him half to death. And, what with all of the excitement, I left the yarn in his guitar case. And that’s why I have no pictures of it to show you. But he has promised to get it to me on Monday, and then, gentle reader, you can maybe help me figure out what it is.

P.S. On Friday he came over with his roommate E to pick up his car. When he opened its door, he said, Ah. You knit me a steering wheel cover. How cool is that!

Mom: Notice anything else different?

E: It’s clean! It’s really, really clean!

Mom: Yes, it is. It’s also full of gas and has brand new registration tags.

#1 Son: It does? Mom, you’re the best mother ever!

We’ll see how long that lasts, eh?

On The Road by Judy @ 5:53 PM

Are those instruction that are somehow difficult to understand?

Look, fellow fliers, there’s really enough room for everyone to put a bag in the overhead bins – even on completely full flights – if you would just put one of your bags under the seat. To those of you who think this doesn’t apply to you, think again. Those of us who have our bags wrested from us and checked by airline attendants because There. Is. No. More. Room. Are not amused.

I cheered on the guy who started hauling out the tiny little bags and handing them to random people to put under their seats. I only wish he could have made more room.

To the woman belonging to the tiny little bags and unhappy that they got scattered willy-nilly: get over it.

Knitting by Judy @ 10:37 PM

a bevy of knitters
a bevy of knitters

OK. We’ll go back to talking about knitting, now. But before we do… did you read the incredulous tone of the pingback to the previous post? … That’s right, a blogger whose focus is knitting hacked WordPress… 😆 The ping came from a very nice person who is as unhappy with the WP admin panels as I am, so I don’t want to give him any grief. (But I did wander over to his blog and tease him just a little.)

Thursday night I definitely left my comfort zone, but I had the best time! Several months ago, I had been asked to speak about Judy’s Magic Cast-on at the April meeting of the Tigard Knitting Guild. I was very pleased and excited to accept.

And I started thinking that I really should try to figure out exactly what I was going to say. And then I got busy and I didn’t. But I did think about teaching JMCO to a crowd and wondering exactly how people in the back were going to see it. The largest group I’ve taught it to before would probably be one of my sock classes. And that would be around five or six intrepid knitters.

This was around… 50. 😯

A week ago at Tangle, I spied some US#19 circular needles – these are really big, gentle reader. I bought two – one in wood and one in metal. And I bought two balls of the bulkiest yarn I could find in the brightest colors that Alice had, and I hatched a plot.

more knitters
more knitters

At the appointed time I arrived at the appointed place. I had yarn, needles, my current projects and a few items to show some cool things that JMCO can be used to do. There weren’t many people there yet, and I knew some of them. All were warm and welcoming, and I was invited to join a table. I sat and knitted and waited for the meeting to began and reminded myself that it would be a good idea to figure out what I was going to say.

Now, I know I am going to hear howls of protest when I say this, but I’m really a shy person. Once I get to know people, then I’m not shy at all. But in crowds where I don’t know people… yeah. I realize that some people are totally comfortable speaking to thousands of people. I’m not one of them. I have to force myself to come out of my shell and talk to people. Even knitters. And the knitters kept coming and coming and coming. And I just kept knitting and knitting and knitting. I knit two inches on the Salish Sea Socks – last December’s Rockin’ Sock Club pattern – all of which had to be frogged out the next day.

The meeting got rolling, and before I knew it, I was being introduced. I rose from my chair, waved at the crowd, took a deep breath, and started in.

It turns out that my voice is loud enough that I didn’t need a mike. Whodda thunk it? (I hear you laughing out there.)

I totally winged it, telling about how I had developed JMCO when I was home sick, and why it was cool. And then I called for volunteers. One volunteer played Judy’s Index Finger, and one volunteer played Judy’s Thumb. I handed each a ball of yarn, tied the ends together in the middle, and, holding up my humongo needles, demonstrated the cast on. The needles were so big that I actually needed both hands to hold them and loop the yarn around. Once I had demo’d, I showed off a few FOs that I had started with JMCO: two pairs of socks, and The Wings Of The Raven, and a bag that I’m pretty sure I started with JMCO. Well… I could have, so it got the point across.

and even more knitters
and even more knitters

And then I wandered amongst the tables, helping the knitters master JMCO and having a really marvelous time with everyone. In the pictures, you can see a bunch of wonderful knitters, concentrating on winding that yarn just right.

When I had circled the entire room and made it back to my table, I answered questions, took a few photos, thanked everyone for welcoming me into their fold, and sat down with relief. I used almost exactly my allotted time. Whew.

It was amazing and fun and I’m so glad that I did it! But I’m not sure that I’m even going to become comfortable speaking in front of crowds.

I’d also like to talk to you a bit more about the Great Adirondacks Soxie yarn. The link is just the first place I found that actually had a picture of the color. As you were, I was a bit surprised that they compared this yarn to Koigu. It’s nothing like. For one thing, although it felt softer after washing and would be OK to wear, it’s obviously not Merino. And the most obvious difference: I’ve never had Koigu pool or stripe. Ever. I couldn’t keep this from striping.

Interestingly enough, at the TKG meeting I sat next to Karen, who was knitting lace with this same yarn in a blue and green colorway. And, although I could see that the colors in the ball were lovely, in the scarf the colors looked darker and just not as luminous. Karen mentioned that this was the second time she’d used Great Adirondacks, and both times she’d been disappointed with the colors – lovely in the skein, not so much in the FO. And she had not knit socks either time! So I feel vindicated.

I still haven’t decided what to do with that second skein. I think it will need to be something like entrelac to get the biggest punch from the colors that I can.

Furry Friends |Knitting by Judy @ 9:41 PM

Molly Bag
Molly Bag

This is Molly. Alice at Tangle order her for me from Lantern Moon and I picked her up at Thursday Night Knitting.

Isn’t she lovely? The fabric is a raw silk blend. It comes in blue, red or orange. All have the lime green lining.

Really, this is one of the coolest knitting bags I’ve ever had. It’s circular in its basic construction, with a inside large enough to hold a medium-sized project. But the way that the lining is sewn in creates 4 pockets around the outside that are each large enough for a small project, or some notions, or the odd ball of yarn, or… a snack, I guess, or whatever. The main compartment includes a zippered pocket and a larger pocket that could be used for a cell phone or maybe a few needles. It has two adjustable straps that are just the right length. And it’s not leaning on anything. It stands up on its own.

I immediately started stuffing in all of my current carry-around projects. In the pocket on the left, the Salish Sea Socks. In the main compartment, Wings Of A Dream. Hiding in the shadows, you can just see Lenore peeking out of the pocket on the right. The remaining two pockets so far are empty.

I’m in love.

you want me to eat what?
you want me to eat what?

In kitty news, Phoebe is feeling a lot better. She has been on medication since last week, and I can tell it’s having the intended results.

Phoebe has never been sick a day in her 15 years, so giving her pills is interesting. I am an experienced kitty-pill-giver, thanks to Kidd. But, regardless, poking a tiny pill past the sharp teeth of a creature who doesn’t want to swallow said pill and is objecting strenuously with said teeth and a myriad of sharp, spiky claws can be… an adventure.

My vet suggested a wondrous invention called Pill Pockets. These are little goodies that are about the consistency of Play Doh but presumably better flavored. The center is hollow. One simply drops the pill inside, squooshes the end closed and hands it to the designated pet, who, in theory, chomps it down with great relish, never noticing that they’ve been medicated. No mess, no fuss, no angry pets.

The package I bought said chicken on the front. They smelled vaguely meat-like, if not particularly chicken-ish. I dropped a pill in the center and squooshed it closed. I handed it to Phoebe who chomped it down with great relish. This, I thought to myself, is the best thing since sliced bread.

Well… that worked OK for awhile. Then the medication began to work, and Phoebe’s appetite began to diminish. She began to get better at eating the treat from around the pill, and leaving the offending bit on the floor. This is a tiny, tiny little atom of medication about the size of a pin head. How she knows it’s there amongst the vaguely chicken-flavored Play Doh is anybody’s guess. But she does.

Thus began the second stage of the medication cold war.

I will never pretend to understand what goes on in the minds of any of the cats that live with me. Phoebe is willing to let me come near to pet her. As soon as I pick her up, she starts to meow and protest, but she doesn’t fight me. She just wants me to know that she’s not happy. I plop her on the counter in the kitchen, scoop a tiny little pill from the bottle and toss it down her throat (with some protest but, fortunately not drawing blood). I am, as I mentioned before, well versed in the art of getting a cat to swallow something he or she does not want to swallow.

Now, here’s the part I don’t understand.

If I let go of Phoebe at that point, allowing her to “escape,” she will go into hiding, cower in corners and refuse to either speak to me or accept goodies from me the rest of the day. I’m her worst enemy. If, however, I lift her from the counter and place her gently on the floor at my feet, she will wait right there in besotted anticipation while I get a treat out and give it to her. I’m her best friend.

Detente has been reached.

First, just a bit of non-yarn-related info: #1 Son has managed to purchase the ticket for his out-of-the-country trip in January. Of course, he has absolutely no money left and will have to live on water and the good graces of others, but he has 30 days left to figure out how to earn a little spending money. I am, actually, quite proud of him.

In more yarn-related news, I really, really want to show you pictures of the Pacific Northwest Shawl, but the weather refuses to cooperate. As I type this, it is snowing gently and the light is completely flat. According to the weatherpeople, we are expecting a humongous storm later this weekend. But one site reports the chance of scattered sun this afternoon. Should that happen, I will run quickly out and snap as many pics as I can in the hope that I will get one or two worth sharing. But even inside, there’s just no light.

Ann in Richmond mentioned that I had the presence of mind to record the whole repairing-the-GGG process. In reality, after standing across the room, swearing in abject horror, the first thought that really came to mind was I so need to blog this. I grabbed my camera before even edging in for a closer look. How sadly geeky does that make me?

But all of this is not what I really want to talk to you about today.

The Knitter's Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn

All knitterly creation stems from one simple element: yarn. It is the baker’s flour, the jeweler’s gold, the gardener’s soil. Yarn is creation, consolation, and chaos all spun together into one perfect ball. It’s a simple concept, twisting fibers together into a continuous thread of yarn. But the variety of fibers, blends, and spins is truley infinite. So is our relationship with yarn. We love it, we covet it, we are knocked senseless by it. Yet sometimes we are baffled, thwarted, and betrayed by it.

Clara Parkes (of Knitter’s Review fame) begins her wonderful new book, The Knitter’s Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn, with that lovely, evocative paragraph.

I immediately wanted to know more. And more. And more.

Want to know how wool and silk are the same (or different)? Where cashmere comes from? What the term worsted really means? Why silk sometimes stinks and how to de-stink it? How viscose is made? What’s good about acrylic? It’s all here. Section 1 contains a ton of information about all of the different fibers, from angora to yak, the special properties of each and how to evaluate them.

Not a spinner? (note: I am not) Never been up close and personal with a llama? Section 2 explores how yarn, from indie to mass-marketed, is prepared, spun and dyed and where you can get organic and minimally processed yarns and fibers in all stages of preparedness.

There is a whole chapter on pills. Not the kind you swallow here, gentle reader, but the kind that form on sweaters (and hats and blankets and scarves and…). Parkes not only explains what to do to remove pills, but also why they form in the first place and how to evaluate a yarn to determine its pill potential. I now have a much better idea of why my Noro Silk Garden jacket always pills like there’s no tomorrow, but my Noro Kochoran sweater, although it is much fluffier and fuzzier, does not.

from Cabled Tea Cozy
from Cabled Tea Cozy

Section 3 begins with an exploration of plies, and why we as knitters care. Starting with single-ply yarn and continuing through various numbers of mutiple-plies, Parkes explains how the twists cause the yarn to behave and how knitters can work with that behavior. Following the guidelines here, knitters can match yarns and patterns that will work together. Did you know that simply rewinding a skein of single-ply yarn will stop its tendency to bias in stockinette stitch? I didn’t either, but Parkes explains how and why. Following the chapters on plies are chapters on cabled yarns, textured yarns, and neat things like boucle and chenille. Section 3 ends with a chapter on why yarns felt, why sometimes they won’t, and how to get the best felting results.

Every chapter in Section 3 includes patterns, and every pattern includes a note from the designer about how the yarn was chosen to work with that pattern. And what designers! This is a who’s-who list, gentle reader. Knitters from adventurous beginner to experienced knit-guru will all find patterns here to pique their interest. There are one-skein quickies and lace, blankets and sweaters, bags and socks. You will want to knit them all. Or at least I do.

The book ends with a reference section. How to take care of your yarn, with special notes on different fibers. Determining WPI and yardage requirements. The standard yarn-weight numbering system vs. the older non-standard systems (i.e. #1 = sock / fingering / baby), along with typical gauges and recommended needles for each. A list of abbreviations, including how-to instructions. A recommended reading list; designer bios and a glossary.

I love yarn. I love all the yarns. I love to gaze and fondle and squeeze and pet and smell. Even yarns I would never in a millions years knit with, I love. The Knitter’s Book of Yarn is devoted to such sheer fibery knowledge, with tons of gorgeous yarn-pr0ny pictures, that my inner yarn-geek is fed in the best possible way and I want to just grab my nearest needles and start knitting up a storm.

This book instantly earned a prominent place on my reference shelf.

We can’t all be yarn whisperers, but with The Knitter’s Book of Yarn in hand, we can at least understand our yarn and learn to work with an appreciate it even more than we already do (if that is possible).

The book ends perfectly: Let the journey begin.

Knitting by Judy @ 10:47 AM

the outside of the barn
the outside of the barn

The weatherman warned of rain on Saturday, but it was not to be. Although a bit drizzly when I first got up, by the time I left the house the sun was breaking through the clouds. I picked Melissa up early (go visit Melissa and see the gorgeous yarn she spun), because the plan was to meet some of the other PDX Knit Bloggers for breakfast at the Hawaiian Cafe, conveniently located right next to the barn.

This is the outside of the barn. I want you to see this picture, gentle reader, because I want you to note the sheer size of this place.

Breakfast took a little longer than expected. And then I needed to move my car so restaurant patrons could park. And then the lot by the barn was full and I had to turn around and park between the barn and the road. And all this means it was about 10:15 before I actually stepped foot inside the barn.

the inside of the barn
the inside of the barn

And this was what it looked like inside at about 10:30. Already things were beginning to be a little picked over. And there was a scad of stuff and another scan of knitters there breathing in the yarn fumes.

There were tables down both of the long sides of the barn. To the left of the camera, the tables held cone yarn, books, and a few snacks lest we become faint from hunger (not much chance of that for me after a humongous breakfast at the Hawaiian Cafe). The tables on the right side held grab bags, sheep-to-shoe kits and roving. In the back are racks (it looked like the same racks used at OFFF) holding tons of sock yarn, laceweight, silk, bamboo, mohair, just tons of stuff. And twirly racks of sock yarn, too. People just sort of grabbed stuff willy-nilly and then went to the tables in the middle to sort out what they had.

I want you to pop up this picture and look at the pile in front of the woman on the right towards the middle. Go ahead. I’ll wait right here.

Yes, that was a typical haul.

That’s Tina sitting to the right of the pillar with her back to the camera, taking it all in.

blogless Pat from Longview
blogless Pat from Longview

This is Pat from Longview (sadly blogless). Her selection is on the windowsill next to her.

You can see why she looks happy.

Yeah. Wouldn’t you?

By the time I finished chatting with Pat and got in line to pay, the lovely Blue Moon ladies had run out of the big plastic tote bags, but offered a couple of the small bags for my purchases. I think they later ran out of those as well.

When we left around 11:00, there wasn’t much left but there were a lot of happy knitters.

my haul
my haul

And this is my selection. I was very careful. I didn’t want to load up on sock yarn. I looked for cone yarn and unusual fibers in largish quantities. I also bought a sock-club t-shirt, mostly because the back says Notorious Sock Knitters. Who could pass that up?

The cones in the back are 100% cotton. The green on the left is called Quince and the sunny gold on the right is called… Golden Sun (go figure).

The cones in the front are a 100% viscose mini-boucle. On the right is Black Cherry and on the left is Moss. Pictures do not do justice to the way that red simply glows.

When full, each of these cones holds more than 2000 yds. I have no idea if I have full cones or not, but I do have enough to do something really nice with. I have not yet decided what. Stay tuned.

In the front are two lightweight STR that are marked as mill ends. I think they might be slightly off color Ravens. The one right in front is black with hints of blue and purple, and the other is black with hints of teal. When I picked this yarn off the rack, a knitter standing next to me said but it’s black! I replied No it’s not! and held it in the sun streaming through the windows. OH! she said, and started selecting a few skeins herself.

The yarn to the right of my cones belongs to the famous MonicaPDX who shared my sorting space. I will let her tell you about it. Go visit her, where I sure she will post a blow-by-blow.

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Stuff I Gotta Do

Follow The Leader shawl


entrelac wrap


Arabesque shawl


Jubjub Bird Socks


I Mog Di


Peacock Feather Shawl


Honeybee Stole


Irtfa'a Faroese Shawl




Fatigues henley sweater


Jade Sapphire Scarf


#1 Son's Blanket


Cotton Bag