Knitting |On The Road by Judy @ 7:49 PM
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the Alamo - or at least the church
the Alamo – or at least the church

You will remember, gentle reader, that a couple of weeks ago (less a weekend) I headed off, bright and shiny and finally (I thought) over the plague that had struck me down, along with many of my coworkers. I headed off for a little business trip to San Antonio. I have never visited the fair city of San Antonio, but I was looking forward to three days spent looking at the inside of some nameless ballroom in some nameless hotel watching a series of oh-so-spicy PowerPoint presentations on scintillating subjects that I won’t go into here.

Yeah. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I was well equipped. I took knitting with me: the Snake River #2 socks, which I knit on a fair bit and got up to the ankles on; and the Jub Jub Bird socks, which I totally ignored. I had hand-knit shawls with me, lest the conference rooms become chilly. I had plenty hand-knit socks with me, which turned out to be… overkill. I had very warm feet because the weather was glorious — 80 F and sunny. I ate every meal sitting outside, soaking up the warm rays and glad for a few days of spring. Although I was well prepared with various types of product, my hair grew to enormous proportions. Ah, well. I can forgive much for that kind of weather.

One night we made it to a place called Rudy’s for dinner. It bills itself as the worst bar-b-que in Texas. Whatever. I will admit to eating an enormous amount of chicken, brisket, ribs, sausage, turkey, beans, potato salad, and creamed corn, all shared by a dozen or so colleagues, and enjoying it very much. We ordered so much they gave us an entire loaf of white bread. (I have since learned that white bread is a necessary part of any barbecue. I don’t know why.) Rudy’s had the most amazing barbecue sauce – supposedly developed by Doc Holliday at the OK coral (can’t you picture this… Doc: hold your fire there, pardner, while I rustle up a mess of ma special recipe bar-b-que sauce. I’m feelin’ a might peckish... ) I tried really hard to figure out how to get some of it home. But, with bag check costing $15, I finally had to pass.

The hotel was quite far away from central San Antonio. I was disappointed by this, as I really wanted to see the Alamo. So I didn’t bring my camera. But one night there were buses to take us down to Riverwalk. Since that’s only a short way from the Alamo, I got to at least see the outside of it (it was closed for the night). I have to admit – pretty cool! With no camera, I had to be content with a shot from my iPhone.

Knitwit bangle
Knitwit bangle

I arrived home and almost instantly came down with the plague again. Joy. On Monday I was supposed to go to the Dentist to get started on those two crowns I need on the teeth that were root-canalled just before Madrona (remember that?). I canceled the dentist appointment and went to the doctor instead. There I was informed that I have bronchitis and given prescriptions for antibiotics and a little something to help with the coughing so I could get some sleep.

All week, my days went like this: crawl out of bed… drink coffee, hoping to wake up a little; dial into work and stare at the screen waiting for coffee to kick in try to accomplish a few things; wonder if I really have to eat lunch and decide the instructions take with food are probably not kidding; eat the minimum lunch I think I can get away with; dial into work and try to accomplish a few things; skip dinner; go to bed.

The week wasn’t totally horrid, though. One day I found this bangle in the mail, and I was oh, so pleased! Isn’t this just the coolest thing you’ve ever seen? It’s an 8mm plastic, sliver-glitter-covered, knitting needle that’s been made into a bangle. These are made exclusively by Liana Kabel. The link goes to her Etsy shop, so you can order your own. Despite the long miles traveled – all the way from Australia – it arrived quickly and in perfect condition. Love it, love it, love it, and can’t wait to be well enough to wear it somewhere that people will actually see it!

could spring be far behind?
could spring be far behind?

Although I did wear it outside today so I could take a pic with the sun making the glitter all sparkly and stuff.

I wore it outside without a coat on… and… I was barefoot. Yeah. I really wasn’t outside that long and I didn’t get chilled or anything. It was a bit cold on the old toes, but so nice to feel the earth under my soles. I’m a barefoot girl, no doubt about it. (I can vividly remember Mama giving me what-for because I took the garbage out across the back yard to the alley through two feet of snow barefoot. It didn’t stop me from doing it again.)

And this was what I saw on my cherry tree.

Yes, the camellia is blooming — poor, confused thing. It was supposed to bloom at Christmas, but snow and ice nipped it in the bud and only a few blossoms made it through. The crocus are blooming, too. And the daylilies and tulips are poking their little arms up.

Can spring be far behind?

Knitting |On The Road by Judy @ 2:52 PM

a tiny corner of the marketplace
a tiny corner of the marketplace

Did I mention that there was yarn at Madrona? Yarn and fiber and spindles and wheels and needles and hooks and amazing things – all in one room.

I didn’t buy any yarn. Really.

I bought books. A German stitch dictionary and a Japanese felting book that makes me want to die the little things in it are so amazingly cute. Felted postage stamps. And little squirrels. And six little penguins in an ice cube tray. And flowers. And… get this one, now… bean sprouts.

I bought some really cool little tiny, tiny crochet hooks that were recommended by Sivia Harding. They are smaller sizes than even my old, old, old set, which means they can be used for even tiny beads with tiny holes. And they’re really short and can be hung on a key ring.

And there may have been a figured walnut nostepinne that came home with me. Maybe.

shopping with Sivia
shopping with Sivia

And I did get to go shopping with Sivia Harding and a bunch of other wonderful people.

And I had a little chat over coffee with Lucy Neatby.

And I took a class from Nancy Bush.

And I traded iPhone apps with The Yarn Harlot.

And I saw so many fun and wonderful people that I can’t even list all of them.

I love Madrona because the entire hotel is taken over by fiberistas of all kinds. So there are knitters in the bar and spinners in the lobby. And people are petting each others’ hand knits while waiting for the elevators. And so I met and chatted with many amazing people.

[waving to the gal who I ate dinner and breakfast with! How was your dying class?]

sensory overload at Shipwreck Beads
sensory overload at Shipwreck Beads

On the way home I stopped at Shipwreck Beads.

They bill themselves as the largest bead store in the world, and I believe it. This isn’t even all of the store. There are rows and rows of just crystals. And more rows of semi-precious stone. And more rows of wood. And precious metals. And all of the findings and tools and stuff that you could ever want.

There may have been a few beads that came home with me. You know I hung around with Sivia quite a bit. Just saying. 😀

it's a little damp here
it's a little damp here

And this is just one more picture that I took on the way home in a rest area right off I-5 that sort of explains a lot about why I love living in the Pacific Northwest.

That is a tree. (duh, Judy. OK. But hang with me for a sec.) The tree has thick, green, springy, gorgeous moss growing all over it. And there, on that branch high above my head, is a whole colony of ferns growing out of the moss. I’ll let that settle just a bit.

Ferns. Growing out of moss. That’s growing on a tree. Next to a freeway.

Yes, it means it’s a bit damp here. But such loveliness and such quiet, deep beauty. Such optimism and perseverance. Such strength.

I just read the list of sock summit teachers and I think I’m going to faint.

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.

Knitting |On The Road by Judy @ 5:33 PM

Yesterday I was up early. I had a knitting retreat to go to. A knitting retreat on a beautiful island where (drum roll please) there is no cell phone service. (Note that there is wi-fi, so I’m not entirely cut off from the world.)

Of course I’d been up too late Monday night. I was up late trying to get ready to go. I wanted to have the car all loaded and the bags all packed so in the morning I’d only have to throw a few last-minute items in and off I’d go. At least that was the plan. So I was up late packing and such. Tuesday morninn when the alarm went off… I told myself just 10 more minutes… And that 10 minutes turned into 45. So I was running late. And that was not good because I needed to pick up the lovely and unfortunately blogless, Simone, who was my companion on my journey. And I was supposed to pick her up at a set time. And she lives across town from me (but fortunately on the way).

So I jumped out of bed in a bit of a panic and ran out to the kitchen where I poured water into the coffee maker and added grounds and turned it on. Then I ran back to my bedroom and jumped in the shower. I’m so glad that I’m mostly ready to go! I was so proud of myself for planning ahead so well.

Clean and dressed and with the final items added to my bag, I ran out to the kitchen to feed the cats and pour my coffee. And found the cats sitting on the kitchen floor staring at a growing pool of gently steaming brown liquid. They both turned an accusing eye in my direction. WTF?

Coffee.

You may have noticed, gentle reader, that I skipped an important step in my coffee making. The carafe sat where I’d left it on the kitchen counter.

With a glance at the clock, I snarled to myself and cleaned up the mess. I added fresh water and grounds to the coffee maker and pushed the brew button. And pushed the brew button. And jabbed frantically at the brew button. And banged the whole thing on the counter a couple of times. And gave it a whack on the side for good measure. And noticed that none of the lights were on and that there was… steam… inside the time display. There was no doubt, I finally had to admit. It was shorted out.

I cannot drive for 4-1/2 hours with no coffee. That’s just not going to happen.

I fed the cats, sent a text message to #1 Son to remind him to check on them now and again and not to make coffee while he was at it, and drove to the nearest drive-through coffee place. I handed over my empty travel mug and requested a fill up. And called Simone to beg mercy. She giggled gentle and told me not to worry. We’d get there when we get there.

Fueled by coffee, the rest of the trip was mercifully uneventful. Traffic was light, construction was minimal, and we made awesome time. And is it ever worth it!

early morning
early morning

Eat your heart out, because this was the view this morning as I took a short, pre-breakfast stroll. My companions are a gaggle of wonderful knitters. My neighbors are sheep and alpaca. Yep. I’m staying at a B&B that’s a working ranch. There’s knitting and learning and knitting and walking and knitting and sight-seeing and knitting and animals and knitting.

This morning, along with fresh-brewed coffee, breakfast started with homemade granola (from organic ingredients), fresh squeezed orange juice, apples, bananas and fresh-baked sweet rolls (from organic, whole-wheat flour). I thought I’d died and gone to some breakfast nirvana. But our hosts apparently feel that we might be in danger of fainting from hunger, because in came the real breakfast – an artichoke heart scramble sort of thing made with the ranch’s own eggs, local potatoes and sausage from the ranch’s pigs. I thought I might never eat again. But then came lunch: homemade cream of tomato soup, fresh green salad, Greek salad, cheese and crackers, served with freshly brewed ice tea.

Let you fear that this become a list of amazing meals, let me reassure you that so far I’ve only eaten those two meals and so can only add that apples and bananas are always available, along with these amazing white-chocolate, macadamia nut, cranberry cookies. Fresh baked, naturally. Lest we become weak from hunger, you know, and be unable to lift our knitting needles.

my friend Oreo, and my friend Oreo
my friend Oreo, and my friend Oreo

This morning I realized that I’d forgotten a few things besides putting the coffee pot under the drip. Like yarn. I had four different projects with me, and the yarn that goes with them, but no extra yarn to knit into other things that we’re learning about. Oops.

After lunch it was obvious that at least a little bit of exercise was called for. So, having the afternoon free, several of us wandered over to the neighboring alpaca farm. There’s a store there. That sells yarn. And other lovely things that I will tell you about later. But for now, let me introduce you to my friend Oreo. She has soft squishy fiber that has a wonderful hand. I picked up one skein for fingerless gloves for #1 Son (shhhhh… don’t tell him because it’s a surprise). The picture is Oreo in my hand and Oreo out in the field. Pretty girl, eh? She’s expecting her first little one.

From there we went into town where there exists the wonderful shop Island Wools. Although it’s not a large shop, Island wools has lots of yarn. I had no problem finding something perfect to practice with. I did have a problem not buying half the store. But I showed what I consider admirable restraint!

And Island Knits is only a block from this gourmet kitchen store that has an entire rack devoted to all kinds of licorice from all over the world. And another rack devoted to chocolate. But since I wasn’t going to talk about food any more, I will skip telling you how badly my wallet was dented there.

But it is so worth it!

Happy Wednesday.

On The Road by Judy @ 7:19 PM

When I was off traveling for business a couple of weeks ago, my journey took me to Scottsdale, Arizona (once I managed to make it through airport security). I will spare you, gentle reader, the sad tale of over-booked hotels that left me sleeping on a pull-out sofa the first night. Or not sleeping as it actually turned out. Suffice it to say that the hotel did eventually make it all good by giving me a room that faced northeast and had an unobstructed view of the sunrise.

I was born in the desert (not Arizona, but Idaho), and I love the desert. I love its clean beauty and long vistas and spare colors. I really love the sunrises and sunsets. I loved drinking a cup of coffee on my little balcony and snapping pics while watching the sky: first the false dawn, then a hint of color in the clouds, then glorious color and the sun leaping up over the mountains.

My friend M asked if I’d put a few of the pictures up so she could see them, since it doesn’t seem likely I’ll get around to printing any of them out. So… for M… a sunrise:

(as always, click on the pic to see the slideshow – right and left side of the frame to advance/go back)

P.S. What appears to be a lake or pond is actually the water hazard at the golf course that my room also looked over. I had a nice view of several of the sand traps, too.

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Miscellaneous Musing |On The Road by Judy @ 5:35 PM
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I did a dumb thing this morning. I checked in on line for my flight. That’s not the dumb thing. Usually checking in online is smart. You get to avoid long lines because you have your boarding pass and such. But during the check-in process I was asked Will you be carrying on anything that can cut – ANYTHING?

So I thought for a bit and remembered that my favorite little scissors were in my little sock bag.

Now, according to the rules, they are small enough to be OK. But the website promises dire consequences if I didn’t declare some cutty thing and tried to take it through Security. Things like $1,000,000,000,000 in fines and the rest of my life in jail and confiscation of my firstborn male child and stuff like that. Because lying about cutty things is against the law!

Well… Maybe I exaggerate a tiny bit.

So what would you have done, gentle reader? I debated with myself. But I’m generally a law abiding citizen, so I admitted that I had something that could cut other things, and I planned to bring it on board the plane. I pushed the continue button.

Bells rang and lights flashes and a black helicopter hovered over my house and armed security guards circled the neighborhood and started evacuating my neighbors.

OK… Not really.

But it did give me a boarding pass that said Not valid for security. See a customer service agent.

And that is why I had to abandon the planned blog post about the Portland Knit & Crochet Show and instead speed off to the airport so that I could convince the powers that be that I, and my cute little leopard print scizzors – the one with the bling from The Loopy Ewe on it – was not a threat.

Hopefully I can get it done in the next couple of days, although I am finding blogging on my iPhone to be slow going.



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