Food |Furry Friends |Knitting |On The Road by Judy @ 8:54 AM

Arlene and friends
Arlene and friends

I’m home again, and last night I slept in my own bed with my cats around me. I brought home wonderful memories, a bit of yarn and probably 10 lbs from Richard’s amazing meals.

The Island Retreat was held at the States Inn & Ranch, a wonderful B&B and working ranch in the heart of San Juan Island. The accommodations there are cozy and homey and Richard, Angel (who was, unfortunately, away from the ranch during my visit) and all the staff do their best to make everyone feel welcome. Usually the ranch only serves breakfast (slow-cooking oatmeal, homemade granola, fresh fruit, eggs from the ranch’s chickens, fresh-squeezed orange juice, I could go on and on), but since the retreat had taken over the entire ranch, Richard agreed to feed us three times a day. And did he feed us! I’m glad that we had the afternoons off to get a little exercise, or I probably would have had to roll home.

This was one of the most relaxing vacations I can ever remember having – including previous knitting ones. Cat planned material for us to learn every day. But if you were interested in working on something else or brought a project with you to work on, that was OK, too.

Mornings were spent gathered in the Inn great room, learning and sharing. After a sumptuous lunch each day, afternoons were free time until dinner. The Inn was close to town and to many of the attractions. Quite a few were within walking distance, and the exercise, as I mentioned, was welcomed.

In the picture, Arlene is making friends with some of the ranch inhabitants. All of the ranch alpacas are rescues that were given to the ranch. Like all of the animals there, they are friendly (especially if you come bearing carrots) and love to great visitors.

Cat modeling
Cat modeling

There was always time during the retreat to follow interests or whims. The sweater Cat is modeling was bought in an Amsterdam thrift store 10 years ago by one of the retreat participants. Cat and I spent a really fun afternoon trying to deconstruct how it was made. The pattern may be made available in the future if it turns out we were right – or even close. It has been named the Altered States Inn Sweater.

Dinner was another sumptuous meal. Cat gave away prizes each day. On the last day a prize was given to the person who could name all of the meals we’d had, in order, backwards. So maybe that gives you a clue about how amazing the meals actually were. All ingredients, where possible, were locally grown — if not on the ranch, at least on the island — fresh and homemade. Many of the recipes are prize-winning. Everything was amazing.

After dinner we gathered in the great room again. Cat would briefly discuss what we’d learned in the morning, and then there was time for questions and talk and knitting. Until everyone wandered to their rooms and fell into bed. I slept like a log every night.

Island Retreaters party with Dolores
Island Retreaters party with Dolores

I shared the Southwestern Suite with two lovely knitters – Flipper and her daughter Kristy. It was a wonderful space. We shared a common area with a small table and two sofas and windows that looked out over the ranch. Flipper and Kristy were in one bedroom and I was in the other. My room was a charming, under the eaves room with a window looking out over the hills and the alpaca paddock.

The Retreat had a surprise visit from Fibertarian Party presidential candidate Dolores VanHoofen. I will spare you from the list of the depraved debaucheries that took place during her visit. Yarn was involved. And maybe a little wine. And maybe a little Bailey’s. And a bit of campaigning. But, although it’s difficult to tell in this picture, Dolores seems to be sporting an Obama button. What can be the meaning of this?

I was sad to leave yesterday morning. But, bright and early, Simone and I left to catch the ferry. Of course Richart provided a sack breakfast, to stave off any hunger pangs.

I arrived home to find the cats alive and glad to see me, and the coffee pot still dead. As #1 Son pointed out, it’s a good thing it wasn’t the other way around.

Food |Furry Friends |Knitting by Judy @ 10:36 AM

OFFF-goers enjoying the day
OFFF-goers enjoying the day

Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival is the highlight of my fiber year. Fiber fanatics, fibery animals (really cute ones!), enough vendors to warm a fiberista’s heart, fleece judging, spinning contests, lamb BBQ (yes, I will pet my lamb and eat it, too). What more could you ask for?

The weather was perfect: sunny and upper 70’s (F). There was a hint of crispness in the breeze – just enough to remind us all that this is fall, after all, but not so much to make us forget why Oregonians live for September. (shhhh… it’s our state secret)

You can see that there were many people who agreed with me! On Saturday, there was a big crowd – larger than I ever remember. On Sunday it was a bit quieter, but there were still many people come to enjoy the day and the animals and all of the fibery goodness.

those crazy PDX Knit Bloggers
those crazy PDX Knit Bloggers

The PDX Knit Bloggers represented in style! We set up our tent under a handy tree on the main lawn. Several of us brought spinning wheels – not I, as I am not a spinner. We were prepared to demo and/or help with almost any fiber art that you can imagine. A lot of people stopped by to ask questions, look at the wheels, and find out what we were all about. A couple of us had a few things for sale, and Bobbie’s DH Tool Man brought some of the gorgeous shawl pins he’s been making. (confidential to Tool Man: open an Etsy shop!)

Not being a spinner, I wasn’t asked to demo many things. But I did teach Cindy how to use a nostepinne, and Monica (that’s the famous MonicaPDX) how to do Judy’s Magic Cast-On.

Notorious Sock Knitters represented
Notorious Sock Knitters represented

The Notorious Sock Knitters from the Blue Moon Rockin’ Sock Club were there in force to bring sock knitting to everyone. I sat over in the PDXKB tent and knit the socks currently on my needles, which I will be telling you about in a future blog post (I promise). The NSK look like they were having tons of fun, too.

aLittleRedHen modeling her Condom Amulet Hat
aLittleRedHen modeling her Condom Amulet Hat

aLittleRedHen introduced herself to us. I don’t know if you are familiar with the Condom Amulet pattern an project? It’s been quite popular on Ravelry? (Find it here on Ravelry and on its own site otherwise.) (And if you are not on Ravelry, why aren’t you?)

The goal of the Condom Amulet Project is to encourage knitters to use leftover yarn to knit condom amulets and spread the word that HIV/AIDS and STDs do not have an age boundary and women over 50 are as vulnerable as any other group.

Tina with Henri the barn boy
Tina with Kevin Henri the barn boy

Here is Tina with her new bunny Kevin Henri the barn boy. (When I met him, he was a Kevin, but I understand he is now a Henri. Stay tuned for further developments).

Tina was not the only one to go home with a new friend. Deb brought home four bunnies!

I think I’d like a couple of fuzzy bunnies to use for bed warmers during those cold winter nights. But Moo Cow and Captain Kidd might object.


I got to watch sheep shearing. I always find it fascinating how the sheep don’t move and the clippers just whiz everywhere and all of a sudden there’s a naked sheep and a pile of fleece.

fiber on the hoof
fiber on the hoof

Look at all that lovely fiber! I always want to give these guys a big hug, and then run my toes through their fleece.

Rasta fiber
Rasta fiber

Every year I find someone who looks like they’re wearing dreads. Here’s the 2008 rasta-fiber shot.


And here is the obligatory babies that are so cute you could just die from it shot. Awwwww… they were seriously cute.

my favorite baby with his mom
my favorite baby with his mom

This was my favorite baby, though. Look how his ears and nose are all speckled and he has that big white spot on his forehead. Isn’t that just too cute? Jennifer from Tucson (who I believe may be, sadly, blogless) and I were ooo-ing and awww-ing over him, so his mom was nice enough to bring him out and let us pet him. What a sweetie!


Fuzzy alpacas. I always make #1 Son’s gloves from alpaca — it’s so warm and soft.


Isn’t this the most gorgeous llama you’ve ever seen? I can’t believe how white it was. There were some other pretty darn good looking llama there, too. The llamas all shared the second barn, so it took me awhile to find them.

hello there
hello there

Some animals wanted to get up close and personal with visitors. This one was very friendly and curious about me and my camera and just what the heck was I doing, anyway?

I love making new friends.

swag from OFFF
swag from OFFF

When shopping, I looked mostly for items that I can’t get any other way. I was particularly on the lookout for unusual or pretty locally-made nostepinnes, because I’ve decided a girl just can’t have too many. I didn’t want to buy very much yarn, and I mostly restrained myself, except for a few carefully chosen exceptions. The only impulse buys were a sock monkey kit from Blue Moon (yes, I finally caved), and a magnetic tapestry needle holder made from Carob from Crown Mountain Farms, because I can’t pass Klaus’ booth without buying something. I didn’t get a picture of the latter.

My swag:
On the right is the Blue Moon Sock Monkey kit.
Top to bottom on the left: Blue Moon Silkie Socks That Rock in Knitters Without Borders. (Not available on their web site.)
A Blue Moon STR Light Rare Gems. It’s in PI green-and-blue, and threw itself off the rack at me, demanding to be brought home. What was I to do? (Like all Rare Gems, this is available only at shows.)
Tactile Fiber Arts Superwash Merino/Tencel in Golden Olive. I love Brooke & Maia and all their natural dyed, fibery goodness. I could order from their web site, but in person I get to chat and squoosh fiber.
Three nostepinnes: the top one is cherry and purpleheart and was made by Carl Herndon. It’s shorter and narrower than my others and is suitable for laceweight or lighter fingering weight yarns. The other two were made by B J Verts. The middle one is myrtlewood and the bottom one is walnut. Note the carved ring around the base of the walnut handle. What’s this for? I asked, thinking I might learn some new nostepinne secret. The answer: It rattles so everyone knows you’re working. Of course I had to have it, don’t you agree? Because I bought two nostepinnes from B J Vert, I received his cookbook — Buttered-Side Down, A Cookbook For The Emancipated Male as a gift. I don’t really qualify as an emancipated male, but I do like cookbooks. I haven’t made any of the recipes yet, but they look tasty.
Below the nosties are four stone buttons from Jason Jakubos of Rock And Wool. They don’t have an online or Etsy shop yet, but from the number of people I heard ask them to set one up as soon as possible, I’m guessing it won’t be long!

If there’s any chance you can join us next year, please do! Bring your wheel or your sticks and just sit a spell and chat. Or watch the animals. Or shop ’til you drop. It’s all good.


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. 🙄

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.

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. 😆

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.

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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