Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It’s Raining. It’s Pouring!

This is the first real rain we’ve had in something like a month. I spent 4 hours in the garden yesterday, weeding and watering and now Mother Nature is doing the watering for me! Thanks, Mom. It was getting to be a drag actually. Literally dragging the darn hose around to reach every corner. I have 3 lovely coiled watering wands for the veggie garden, each with their own tap, and I can reach the whole thing easily. But the front garden is harder to manage because I have to unwind a long, long hose and try hard not to run it over and crush anything. At least it has a reel to wind it up again. I used to have to coil about 50 pounds of hose and it was a killer! But today I’m officially relieved of the job. Yahoo!

Of course it’s raining because we want to go away for an extended weekend camping with the family in Manning Park! Fifteen people are expected and we have reservations already secured by Milady Daughter. Hopefully the weather will follow the predictions and stop by Friday. At least the yard will get a good soaking in the next 24 hours because it will have to live without my tender daily ministrations until I return next Tuesday. At least most of it is established now and shouldn’t dry out too easily. I hope. It all depends on the weather, doesn’t it? Cool and cloudy or rainy and it will be fine. Hot and sunny and some of the more vulnerable things (like the planters) could be crispy by the time I get back. The risk is worth the holiday though. Family Time.

I was really happy that I managed yesterday to wear my garden boots (very old dilapidated Blundstones) with the customary 2 pairs of socks and No Bandages on the ouchies! Yay! That was the first time in shoes without any extra padding and it was fine. The marks (Tiger Stripes!) continue to fade visibly and today my ankle has started peeling. I’ll have to be super-careful now not to introduced any infection. No scratching allowed! But I’m really pleased with how fast the evidence of my clumsiness is disappearing. It’s not even two weeks yet. I was warned that the new skin will be very sun-sensitive for at least a year so I’ll have to remember to slather the sunscreen on my feet this summer. Now I just hope I can comfortably hike around Lightning Lake at Manning Park. But I’m not going on the full-day hike up to Mount Frosty! Some members of our family are a little too ambitious.

In crafty news and going back to last Saturday’s Ravelry meetup, dear Yarnpiggy had a wonderful post on her blog with photo evidence of our Blue Moon STR extravagances. Now you see why we couldn’t resist, huh? Some yarns have even more deadly wool-fumes than others.

Also I was going to show you the wrinkled alpaca goodness that is my Seaweed Shawl, but it’s too dark today to get a good pic. Besides, it just looks like a string bag at the moment. I’m finally into the first border chart and it has recaptured my interest. I realised I was really tired of knitting the blossom chart pattern and I’m finding renewed energy now that it’s over and I can move on. That’s what I get for knitting the larger size, huh? Laminaria is a brilliant pattern anyway so I shouldn’t really complain. I love the way it goes from dense (star stitch) at the neck to less-dense (blossom pattern) in the middle and then to lacier (alien heads!) at the edges. Can’t wait to block it but that will still be some time yet. Meanwhile I’m making time to work on it so that must mean I’m back to enjoying the process.

Wish I could say the same about the poor languishing Hot Spring Socks. They are now Hot Summer Socks! Apart from the fact that I got sidetracked into other more pressing projects, I’m feeling somewhat disappointed in how the Spring Forward pattern is being obscured by the too-distracting yarn. I dyed it so I have nobody to blame but myself. The recipient (my DIL The White Lady) loves it though so I will persist. Hopefully I will have time to work on them while we’re camping. They’re nearly to the heel turns already anyway so there’s no point in frogging.

If the Hot Springs were just plain socks they’d surely be done by now. But unfortunately I don’t currently have anything on the needles that I can work on while reading. Too much concentration needed for lace. Need to start something else but nothing mindless is calling me right now. Lace is it. I’ve got Ysolda’s Ishbel waiting for me to finish the Seaweed Shawl. And there is more but I’m not saying yet.

Drip. Drip. Drip. What a wonderful sound!

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Hate Online Shopping Carts

Whew! That was a very stressful 45 minutes I spent this morning! Trying to get registered at Maiwa for the Symposium workshop, lectures and fashion show that I wanted. Every time I got to the final checkout button it would give me an error message. Took 3 tries but I finally got a confirmation. Hope I don’t get charged for the other times it didn’t…quite…finish…

I would have held off until later today when the initial rush is gone before attempting the whole thing but I wanted to take the Woad Workshop with Bleu de Lectoure’s Henri Lambert from France. (You know how obsessed I am with woad!) It said there were only 3 spots left available of 16. Plus I thought the lecture with Elizabeth Barber, author of “Women’s Work: the First 20,000 Years”, would be sold out pretty quickly as well. Watching little timing arrows go around and around is not a lot of fun. I was willing the pages to load with my mind. At least it finally went through. I’m nothing if not persistent.

Going back to yesterday, we had the biggest turnout ever at our Sunday Afternoon Ravelry Meetup at the Saltspring Coffee Shop on Main St. A dozen of us knitters took over the inside and even when we rearranged furniture the staff didn’t blink an eye! We put it all back when we left of course. Then most of us trooped the few blocks to Three Bags Full for our usual pilgrimage. They had a huge new shipment of Blue Moon Socks That Rock just in and we did some definite damage to the pile. I kept saying I didn’t need more yarn but succumbed to the wool fumes and the general encouragement and got these:

STR Valkyrie STR Ravenscroft 

That’s Valkyrie on the left and Ravenscroft on the right. Subtle dark colours that might be a bit tough to distinguish on the screen especially with the distraction of my rag placemats underneath! They will not necessarily become socks. I’m kind of tired of socks lately for some reason. Maybe because I’ve finally saturated the family’s sock drawers for the moment?


Also yesterday I pulled out the old polymer clay stash and whipped up a funky handle for my 3.5 mm Aero aluminum crochet hook. It looks like crap (literally) but it feels just right because I shaped it with my hand. A wee bit heavy (due to the large chunk o’clay I used) but very comfortable to crochet with. The square in the upper left is the reject one, being too open and floppy (though pretty). The one on the lower right is better, more dense and with smaller holes. Now to make a gazillion more and crochet them together for my Frankenblanket. This is going to be a long-term project. Especially when I keep removing sock yarn from the leftover pile thinking “This is too nice and I should use it for gloves or something else instead”.

Somebody explain to me why most crochet hooks don’t have more of a substantial handle on them? It might depend on the way you hold it: like a pen or like a knife. I hold it in my fist and skinny little hooks are harder to grip. Maybe one day I’ll get a whole set of the Clover Soft Touch. Meanwhile I’ll modify my Aeros! One at a time.

And speaking of notions, I also got some of these in the grocery store:

Clips Teeny little hair clips. (That’s a quarter in there for scale.) I got 2 dozen for a fraction of the cost of Knit Klips, though they’re perhaps not quite the same as the patented version. They seem to work just fine for the job of holding two pieces of knitting or crochet together while you stitch them and they stay in place much better than pins. Anyway I don’t have enough to clip into so I’m certainly not going to be using them in my hair!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Summer!

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. Just been sidetracked. I finally got to put my boots on and get out to water the garden. It felt really good to be getting back to what passes for normal around here. I even slept with only a light sock on my foot last night – no bandages! It’s healing up very well. Whew.

Backing up to where I left off last post, I ended up getting my own bandage supplies on Wednesday. Walking wasn’t too bad though I was happy to get my rubber clogs off when I got home. Thursday evening I went to my weavers’ guild meeting and potluck/show-and-tell. It was a lot of fun though I spent most of it running around in my handknit socks. We showed off some of the pieces that will be in the Hanji paper exhibit, including my Papyrine Wrap. The others were all woven scarves and incredibly beautiful and surprisingly wearable. There was also a woven bag with paper fabric trim and lining and a coat sewn from Korean paper/linen fabric and lined in silk. Yum. This is going to be a lovely display in August and I hope to get photos to share some of the highlights.

I controlled myself and didn’t put away the chairs at the end of the meeting like I usually do. It was hard to let others do that stuff instead. The maintenance guy at the community centre where we meet (Aberthau, a wonderful old heritage home) put the last of the chairs and tables away for us. Grumpily. I think he was trying to get rid of us because it was nearly 10pm and he wanted to close up! Guess we were having too much fun.

I also finished the Secret Project #2 and it turned out way better than I had hoped. Wish I could blog about it. Not yet. You’ll have to be patient! I then started swatching for another project because I can never have less than 3 or 4 going at once. I was again being Goldilocks only this time with crochet hooks and was trying some of the afghan squares in Jan Eaton’s “200 Crochet Blocks” book. I didn’t like the first one because it was too floppy and holey, but the second was better and crocheted with a smaller hook. I’d show you but I don’t have a photo yet.

I was annoyed at the crochet hooks I have. I love the Clover Soft Touch but I only have one in size 4mm. I tried it but wasn’t happy so needed to go down to 3.5mm. I tried a Boye and it was awful (why did I buy these?) and then an old grey Aero, which was much nicer. Maybe I need to make it a polymer clay handle to resemble the Soft Touch? I need to see if any of my Fimo is functional first. I haven’t used it in a very long time and it does have a shelf-life.

Oh, why am I making afghan blocks? Because I want to make a Franken-Blanket from my sock leftovers. I have lots of little scraps of various yarns both hand-dyed and commercially printed. I know I could knit them into Frankensocks but I’d rather use new yarn for socks. Besides I’ve pretty much saturated the socks market at the moment. If the squares turn out too ugly as is, I can always overdye the whole thing to mellow it out some. Just something to work on in my spare moments. Heh.

Meanwhile, in my other spare moments, I’ve picked up my Seaweed Shawl (aka Laminaria) again. Poor thing was languishing while I finished playing with paper. I’m nearly finished the last row of the Blossoms chart and can finally get on to the first border chart. Yay! It’s very slow going because the alpaca yarn I’m using is very fine, like knitting with thread, and the pattern is quite tricksy. It uses every double-decrease in the knitting book: k3tog, sssk, sk2p, and s2kp. And yes, those last 2 are different! Slip one, knit 2 together, pass slip stitch over vs. slip two (together as if to knit), knit 1, pass 2 slip stitches over. The first slants left and the second is centred. And we won’t even talk about the 3-into-9 star stitch. Yikes. Not hard really, just must be careful so it’s verrrrryyyy slooooowwww.

And that’s not all! I’ve got the Beaded Bias Scarf on the go too. It’s mostly mindless so good for busy situations where I need my brain engaged elsewhere. Though I did have to tink a few rows when I was at the guild meeting…

DamselYarn Do you like my new Ravatar? I got tired of the old one. Plus I had lots of time to play on the computer in the last week. I actually had a damselfly land near me while I was sitting on the deck so I was inspired to create this. Though it does look like she’s trying to fly away with the yarn!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What’s That?

Wet stuff falling out of the sky? Haven’t seen that kind of thing around here for donkey’s years! Of course it’s only been a sprinkle. Just enough to hope we don’t have to water today but it’s evaporating fast. It’s a bit cooler too at only 17C currently so I’m wearing a cotton sweater until it warms up some. A big change after all those days of sun and warm temps!

In the damage department, I managed to get a loose pair of my own socks on over the bandages today giving the poor Sock Monkey sock a chance to get washed. Still using the Flamazine since we have it but Nurse T-Man needs to pick up more non-stick pads and gauze for me. The first-degree burns are gone completely now but the patches of second-degree extend over enough area to need 3 large pads to cover them and prevent the “medicinal icing” from escaping. The gauze is just to hold the whole shebang in place. At least now I can get my foot into sandals or my rubber clogs. More mobility is good and I’m only limping a little now, more to avoid any rubbing than from actual pain. Yeah, I’m such a tough customer. Heh. My mom used to call me the Silent Sufferer. Do you think she meant it sarcastically?

So to cheer myself up I started a new project:

BiasScarf This is the Bias Scarf from the kit that I got at ANWG from Just Our Yarn. The yarn is hand-dyed 5/2 tencel in fall-ish golds and rusts and it is really pretty to knit with. The beads are size 6 root beer AB transparents and they add a bit of sparkle but not too much bling. It’s an easy pattern except for the bead section which is a bit trickier. I frogged the whole thing twice before I got it mistake-free and figured out which needles to use. I was like Goldilocks with the needles! I tried Addi Lace 24” circs, vintage Aero aluminum 16” circs, short aluminum Boye straights, 2 – 8” aluminum Aero dpns and finally settled on 2 – 7” bamboo dpns as the most comfortable to work with. I guess I’m used to shorter needles from knitting so many pairs of socks.

This kind of scarf is really more like jewelry than something to keep your neck warm. The skein was big enough for two scarves and I also got a zigzag variation in the kit but I’m not sure I like it as much. I may make it for someone else though. Or I might make something else entirely! Also in the kit was a crochet hook to apply the beads but at 1.25 mm it felt a little large and I was straining to pull the yarn through so I found a 1.15 mm in my collection which works much better. The pattern calls for a 1 mm so that’s what they should have given me. Luckily I already have many little steel crochet hooks to choose from.

The Secret Project #2 is out of the corner where I threw it in frustration and is nearly done. I decided to suppress my innate need for total symmetry and use up the yarn since I have it. More details anon. It must be gifted to its recipient first so you’ll just have to wait. (That goes for you too, Nicole! No guessing because you’re probably incorrect. Heh!)

BTW I never saw the grand-beasties yesterday. Just as well. I’m not sure I was quite up for them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Enforced Holiday

OK it’s been temporarily amusing but I’m getting really bored now! Walking around is a bit more comfortable now that the redness is gone from the edge of my heel. Though I still can’t wear shoes or even sandals for more than a few minutes. The ouchies are mostly on my inner ankle bone and upper arch so pretty much any footwear is going to rub even with a lot of padding from the bandages. And my ever-faithful Sock Monkey Sock. So I’m still confined to barracks for the moment.

Meanwhile poor T-Man has been attempting to shoulder the full burden of the garden. He was out there most of the day yesterday pruning and tying and watering and fertilising. I was going twitchy not being able to help. Bet today he’s quite happy to be safely at work sitting in front of a computer! Hope he gets nice and rested because even though it’s cooler today with intermittent clouds, the front garden still needs water.

I also need to rest up because we’re supposed to have the grand-beasties over for the afternoon tomorrow. T doesn’t get home until about 2:30pm so they will be all mine until then. Probably a good time to get out the Play-Doh, huh? We can do that sitting down at least.

In crafty news, I was interested to see that Stampington & Co. has put out another magazine “Art Quilting Studio” to rival “Quilting Arts” from Interweave. This is another one of their super-thick expensive publications with fabulous photography, lots of visual and personal inspiration but very little actual how-to nitty-gritty. QA, on the other hand, has no end of techniques explained and illustrated with lots of concrete examples. You might find both approaches equally exciting but I like QA best because of the more straightforward style of writing and presentation. That’s just the kind of damselfly I am: WYSIWYG. I like to know how to do it.

Stampington has been experimenting with an awful lot of new magazines that are not-quite-books. Many of them come out once or twice a year as special issues. If you are a fan of Belle Armoire or Art Doll Quarterly, then you have a good idea of the type of content in the others. I’m not really sure how many issues I will continue to get. They are rather pricey! And I’ve noticed a similar aesthetic overall that I’ve begun to get a bit tired of. Images of houses, birds or persons with crowns - again? However, I’m waiting for the summer issue of “Stuffed”. The softies are so creepy-cute I can’t resist them.

This is all to avoid talking about Secret Project #2 because it’s giving me a bit of difficulty at the nearly-finished stage. I will make it work. I have my ways.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gimp The Limp

Well if you were wondering, the foot is actually much better than we thought at first. After removing the dressing – and washing off all the Flamazine goop – there doesn’t seem to be much damage besides some blisters and a few sore spots. We promised the doc in Emergency who wrote the prescription and the cute nurse who put on the first dressing to keep up with the three more daily applications of Flamazine anyway. It keeps down any infection. On top of that there are several more layers to keep the goop in place: non-stick pads, stretchy gauze bandage and an elastic mesh stocking. (My foot looks like a white roast ready for the oven!) I’ve modified my Birkenstock straps to accommodate the bandage so I can at least get out on the deck but I’m not really up to much walking yet. The fun part was trying to get myself clean this morning without getting the wrappings wet. I’m normally a shower girl but that’s not going to happen for a few more days. The burn is ok in coolish water but the rest of my body doesn’t want a bath in that temp. And I wasn’t ready to reapply the dressing yet anyway. So I lay in the tub in nice hot water with my Sock Monkey Foot propped up and had a soap and a soak. I always feel so much better with clean hair! Unfortunately at one point I got stuck in an awkward position and T-Man had to come rescue me with his strong arm. He’s been pretty patient and helpful though tomorrow I’m on my own when he goes back to work.

I’ve had lots of time to work on Secret Project #2 while sitting around. It’s nearly finished. I can’t blog about it until I can blog about Secret Project #1. It’s related though not for the same person. If you’re dying to find out, you have to be on Ravelry to see the details. Sneaky, aren’t I?

Luckily I have lots of time to read because I just got a really good book (yes, another one!):


Teach Yourself Visually Hand-Dyeing by Barbara Parry. It’s another of this series of books that rely on great photographs coupled with less text than usual, and suited especially for the visual learner but greatly inspiring for the rest of us also. Barbara presents the most techniques here that I’ve ever seen in one book! Just about every way you could think of to apply dye to fibre and several more you may not have considered are illustrated here. Since the focus seems to be mostly for spinners and knitters, she confines most of her discussion to acid dyes (several types, though not Lanaset/Telana) on protein fibres (yarn, roving and fleece). She only includes a short chapter on fibre reactive dyes on cellulose and only briefly mentions the nifty fact that you can use fibre reactives as acid dyes, even if they no longer work as reactives. There is also no discussion of dyeing woven fabrics or using natural dyes. The latter would be a whole book in itself!

Safety is properly stressed, including safe storage and disposal. I really appreciate Barbara’s inclusion of a chapter on colour concepts and a section on colour inspiration, plus one on using your dyed fibres in spinning and knitting. As far as I can tell she has pretty much covered all the bases and anyone should have little trouble following her directions to create lovely dyed yarns and fibres to rival those of the best commercial/indie dyers. In reading through, I found very little that I would argue with (a first!) in either the dye chemistry or the techniques presented. they are just personal quibbles such as I usually use 56% acetic acid instead of either citric acid powder or vinegar. They all work pretty much alike anyway. I also use pickling salt instead of Glauber’s most of the time because it’s much cheaper and works just as well, at least as far as I can see, and I use Orvus to scour and rinse off protein fibres instead of Synthrapol. I really don’t like the smell of Synthrapol and find it a bit harsh but do use it for cellulose fibres because it works better for them. As a beginner you might want to follow directions more precisely and as you gain experience you can deviate to some extent.

All in all, this is the best dye book (synthetics) that I’ve yet seen and it makes me want to get down to the dye studio and play! I want to see if I can get my old knitting machine to create sock blanks for dyepainting. Hmmm…and maybe some solar dyeing would be good with this sun we’ve been having. Assuming it holds out until I’m able to walk around more again. Sigh.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


SockFoot …my right foot disguised as a Sock Monkey. Why, you ask? Because, dear friends, this dumb stupid &*^%*# damselfly had a Leetle Accident - a disagreement with a very hot and very large cup of tea. It wasn’t even my cup of tea, it was T-Man’s. I was on the upper deck futzing around while listening to podcasts on my Palm and caught my earphone cord on the handle of his tea cup. Which in retaliation flung itself off the table and splashed onto my right foot. Which was wearing a rubber clog and a cotton sock. Which I immediately flung off while screaming swear words and hopping around, and only later hoping the young child next door hadn’t picked up any new words his parents might regret.

After some time soaking the offending foot in cold water (and a little research on the innernets) I figured that the amount of ouchie and blistering meant that I probably should head to Emergency. Not a decision easily decided since around here that often means a number of hours cooling my heels (one rather singed and one not) before getting some attention. And it was dinner time and we hadn’t eaten yet. However we were lucky and it wasn’t busy so I got in nearly right away. Now I have a tetanus shot (which I needed anyway) and a bandaged foot which I covered with T’s old wool sock to keep it clean. The pharmacy didn’t have enough of the Flamazine (miracle goo with actual silver in it that must be spread like icing on the burn once a day) or the very large non-stick pads that cover it so T has to go back again to get more, plus more gauze to hold it all on. Then he gets to practise his nursing skills. Urp. Maybe I should make him a real sock monkey to practise on first?

I was somewhat concerned that the burn was going to continue to hurt like h-e-double-hockey-sticks. I have a high pain threshold but that was really uncomfortable. Fortunately the pain finally subsided about an hour after the dressing was applied. I slept ok last night but with awareness of where that foot was at all times. I’m now able to limp around the house a bit but walking is totally out of the question for a few days. Sigh. Oh what will I do to amuse myself if I can’t garden? Knit? Read? Surf the ‘net? Guess I’ll just have to accept this as an enforced holiday. That’s your damselfly – always looking for the upside!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tired Hands

I am suffering a serious case of Trying To Do It All. It’s a combination of attempts to whip the garden into shape, clean and reorganise large portions of the house, and knit/crochet/weave/sew about a gazillion projects. I blame the fibery part of the project overload on Ravelry. It’s so exciting and inspiring to see all the stuff I could make! Even if I only get around to a tiny portion of the things in my queue I’ll be doing good. Especially since said queue just keeps getting longer and longer. And longer. And now there’s Weavolution, the weaving site a bit like Ravelry, just to add to the dilemma.

So today I got up saying that I would take it easy and not push it. Heh. First I spent an hour watering the garden, then I planted the last of the flowers (impatiens), started some new seeds (purple sprouting broccoli, more lettuce and greens), cleaned up the indoor “grow-op” area, vacuumed there and then carried on to vacuum a goodly portion of the rest of the basement. Whew! So much for trying to take it easy today, huh?

At least I managed to get some serious knitting and reading time in during the afternoon. However, in case you missed it that doesn’t rest my hands in any way. No wonder they are feeling achy. I’ve got nobody to blame but myself. And my infernal internal stubborn will to keep going. I’m not sure more hours in the day would help either because stuff just grows to fill the empty space. Oh well. It’s the process that counts, right? I certainly don’t need to go to the gym to work out! Good thing because that would cut into my production time. Do not tell me about spinning wheel exercise cycles or knitting while on the treadmill! Right now I’m going to rest my hands by stopping typing…

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spokane Continued

Sorry about the delay. I got busy with the garden. It’s so nice to see it get a good start in the warm sunshine. Much better than the poor plants shivering under a cold rain as in the usual spring weather. Last June was ridiculously cold in comparison to this one. Global weirding. Yup.

Meanwhile back in Spokane, we left our intrepid Damselfly stranded somewhere between the vendor isles and the keynote speech, skipping the fashion show all together. Must remedy that. The fashion show was very entertaining for a change and we had good seats in the second row at the side of the runway. The local a cappella group Pepper, members of the Sweet Adelines International, performed for us and for once I actually enjoyed their music. (I have a problem with that type of harmony in that it sounds to me like there are way too many notes crammed in, kind of too-cluttered so I can’t distinguish the melody. But don’t listen to me – I’m hard of hearing!) They were very funny and spirited and we were treated to them also joining in with modelling the garments. The best part was one of them strutting down the runway wearing a felted hat in the shape of a peacock. She got the peacock’s character perfectly and I was rolling in the aisles with tears of laughter.

The garments were well-presented mostly one at a time with details and the creator’s name and photo projected on the big screen above. The commentary was read by Anita Luvera-Mayer, well-known weaver and stitcher, and the models were all different shapes and sizes including a token man (also a weaver). Later the next day we got to see the fashions up close and personal in an exhibit. Here’s some of the highlights, at least for me:

Fashions (Don’t forget to click to “embiggen”, as Yarn Harlot would say.) The top-right vest is felt with exquisite needle-felted flowers, bird and butterflies. The centre-bottom jacket was actually a very dark charcoal chenille with discharge shibori and I had to use the flash to see the patterning which in real life is much more subtle. It was my favourite of all and very wearable as were most of the garments in the show. I like that. Who says big impact rates over functionality? Take that, Tim Gunn!

SpokaneRiverOn the Sunday morning early, three of us went for a walk on the Centennial Trail along the Spokane River towards downtown. It was mandatory that we get back before it got too hot (and we nearly didn’t make it)! Gonzaga University campus is only a mile or so from the centre of town and the trail is very easy to walk with lots of foot bridges over the river. We got to the scenic waterfall, which is right in the centre of town at River Park:

SpokaneFallsThe river actually provides power generation through an underground turbine. Very sensible. Unlike here in Vancouver, there can be many low bridges nicely separating vehicle and human-powered traffic because they don’t have to accommodate big boats under them. Any boat would get swept down the spectacular cascade! I wish we had more pedestrian-only bridges here.

Later that afternoon, four of our podmates went on a wine tasting tour. First up was Arbor Crest, high up on the bluffs. The estate was once owned by an eccentric inventor and the house and many outbuildings etc. are built using the local basalt stone. I particularly liked the pavilion:

CliffHouseInside it had little niches with seating and a mosaic table in each. You got to it from the house by a narrow stone bridge over a deep gully. There was a gatehouse and a small swimming pool and a chess board all built on the grounds. Even the doghouse was made of the ubiquitous stones. Oh yeah, they make wine there. Even grow a few grapevines. I bought one bottle of sauvignon blanc.

Next we went to Mountain Dome where they made sparkling wines. I’m not particularly fond of those so I didn’t buy any. The geodesic dome house totally reminded me of the one my friends in Dunster, BC, built in the 1970’s. But the gnomes were the best part of this place:

Gnomes They all had red hair and beards! And they were everywhere.

The last winery we went to was Latah Creek (as in “see you latah”!) This one was the slickest by far and had the most different wines and a gazillion gifts and souvenirs. I almost bought a t-shirt that said “Winey Woman” on it but it was too pricey – and too sparkly for me. So I got a bottle of blush wine as the most tasty one (to me anyway). Two bottles was all we could bring home across the border each anyway. I refrained from drinking any immediately. Aren’t you proud of me? I am.

So I think I’ve exhausted the subject of my trip to Spokane and the ANWG ‘09 conference. On to other things.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Yet Another Teaser

I had my Ravelry knitting group over for a Deck Party today so I obviously haven’t had time to edit some more of the photos I took in Spokane that I still wanted to show you. So you’ll just have to wait a little longer. The knitters had a great time though! Such laughter and yummy food, sparkling wine and beer and lemonade. I bet the neighbours all wished they could have joined us. (Oh yeah, one of the knitters IS my neighbour!) Best of all, they left us some goodies including strawberries, ice-cream and blue corn chips. Unfortunately I’m still too full to take advantage of the leftovers yet.

Meanwhile back at the ANWG conference roundup, I found the YouTube link to the rap that the children of our keynote speaker Ruby Leslie aka Ruby Charuby made about their mom the weaver. Too funny! What talented (adult) kids. Of course their parents are creative too: besides mom the prolific and talented weaver, their dad is an artist and college instructor. Obviously there is a wonderful family climate in their vicinity!

Tomorrow it’s back out in the garden in the morning to plant T-man’s black-eyed susans before they croak. I have rogue baby tomato plants inexplicably coming up in the coreopsis and I have to tie up the woad better because the ripening seed heads are getting heavy. I guess I should chop most of them off and see what colour I can get in the dyepot, though I’d rather wait until they are closer to ripe and are black instead of the pretty chartreuse they are currently. I’ll check Bobby Irwin’s notes and see which might give me the most colour. After all, I don’t need ALL the thousands of seeds that 2 plants can produce. Only a couple of dozen would be plenty. The rest are fair game for experimentation.

Then when I get tired of gardening, I always have the dishes to wash from today. To be fair, several people offered to help wash up but I don’t mind. I just put on my podcasts and go to it. I’ve never really seen the need for a dishwasher especially when usually there’s only the two of us now and only occasionally do we entertain. No biggie. It was a very enjoyable day.

Friday, June 05, 2009


I wanted to carry on the story of my adventures at ANWG but I seem to be super busy today doing other things. Just stopped by to say I’m still here and haven’t forgotten. I also have an FO that I’m dying to post but can’t yet because it’s a secret. So mum’s the word until I can get it to its recipient. Sorry to be such a tease.

While I’m at it, Knitting Daily has a free e-book collection of 7 baby patterns available today. (You all get KD, don’t you? There’s no point in linking it, right?) I find that I'm not much interested in it because I have pretty much all those patterns already or I’m just not interested. Do people still put booties on their babies? I never found them that useful since most babies wear sleepers with feet in them or regular socks and little shoes or slippers. Booties as I recall never stay on no matter what you do! I don’t really understand the plethora of bootie patterns out there unless it’s the knitters that want them rather than the parents of new babies. Am I talking through my bonnet…er, hat here?

While I’m on the subject of knitwear for small children, I’m currently working on upsizing a pattern for a baby’s cardigan to fit a 2-3 year old. So far it’s working. I’m developing a definite fondness for top-down raglan-sleeved cardigans. Or bottom-up. Or circular yoke. All in one piece anyhow, whichever way you go. Simple to knit, no sewing, only a few ends to darn in and easy to adjust for size – what’s not to like? More on this project later. Right now just more teasing.

The weather has finally moderated a little. At least there’s some high cloud and it’s only 25C instead of 30+. The latter is just too hot for me. My brain melts. I’ve also been spending at least an hour every day watering my garden by hand. I wouldn’t want all those plants that I worked so hard to grow to croak now! They are doing really well for once. It’s definitely a lot of work though. At least I can spray myself down if I get too hot. The advantage of rubber clogs in the garden. Love the sound they make when they’re all wet. Squelch!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What I Learned

First I want to remind local folks that Maiwa Handprints now has their complete list of fabulous workshops, lectures and events that comprise this year’s Symposium up on their website. The workshops only happen every other year and I’m going to attempt to get into the one from France’s Bleu de Lectoure on dyeing with woad. There’s also a lecture with Elizabeth Barber on her book “Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years”, a Slow Clothes fashion show and a whole bunch of other interesting stuff. Registration opens June 22 at 10am PDT. It’s a singular opportunity to expand your knowledge of world textiles and cultures. Don’t miss it if you live close enough – or even if you don’t!

Speaking of classes, the ANWG conference included 3 half-day seminars (as well as optional post-conference workshops which I skipped). The first one on Friday morning necessitated me bringing along a spinning wheel. I took Tori (Louet Victoria) since she’s the most portable wheel I have but I really think I could have gotten away with a drop spindle because this is all I produced:

WorkshopSkein A couple of yards of chained-3-ply fingering weight wool in a hideous colour combo (which I can’t blame on anyone else since I chose it). The seminar was “A Fistful of Colors” with the lovely and talented Michelle Boyd from Ft. McMurray, AB, who apparently reads this blog (as I do hers)! <waving> Hi, Michelle! Don’t you just love this photo I captured during class?

MichelleBoyd Here she’s demonstrating chain (aka Navajo) plying. She has the most expressive hands! No wonder she’s such a good spinner, eh? I had said that I wanted to avoid making mud when combining colours, but I think I missed the boat completely judging by my sample. However, I think I know why now so that is a net gain. I also learned that I need more practise with long-draw and, despite what Michelle says is possible, I’m not going to give up my carders (either drum or hand) anytime soon. One small criticism: there were murmurs of complaint that the class supply fee was too high for the amount of fibres that we got. Just sayin’. Though there were a few leftovers on the floor because we were too polite to grab ’em up.

After lunch (I haven’t talked about the food on campus yet, have I?) on Friday was another seminar: Ode To Woad with Bobbie Irwin, author of a number of books and articles for Interweave. Her original article on the many colours she got from woad came out in Spin-Off in (I think) 1997. (I’m going to have to look it up.) I got to hold the original blanket that she wove from her handspun woad samples and it was really lovely. Not only did she use woad in the more traditional way to get blues but used the leaves, immature and ripe seeds as a regular plant dye in a boiling water bath with alum mordant to get red-browns, straw yellows and even something close to pink. I suspect the woad Bobbie was using which was growing wild in a field across the road from her when she was living in Utah was the invasive (and considered inferior) kind called bastard woad. Though she did get deep blues, in the slides she showed the plants looked somewhat different from mine and the leaves were hairy rather than smooth. She seemed very concerned that woad would get loose in the wild if we tried to cultivate it! In several states it has become quite a pest but that can be explained if it’s bastard woad and not the true “pastel” variety long used as a dyestuff in temperate climates where true indigo won’t grow.

Since I’m going to have a lot of seeds from my two second-year plants, I might try using them a a dye and see what colour I can get. I only have room for a dozen plants so there’s no need for thousands of seeds! And no, I won’t let them get loose though I suspect the “tame” woad is much less aggressive. And yes, I did check first that it is not listed in BC as a noxious weed. From Bobbie I also got a limited-edition t-shirt:

WoadWarrior I just might wear it when I’m harvesting leaves for a dyepot!

On Saturday morning I took my last seminar with Anne Field from New Zealand on Collapse Weaves. I had already read her book on the subject but wanted to see what else she had to say. I did get to see some lovely mostly-wool fabrics that she had woven but I find her approach somewhat limited. There are so many other fibres to work with! However if you come from a land with ten times more sheep than people I guess you work with what you’ve got handy. It seems to me that her colours were mostly natural white also but I think that was deliberate for the book in order to concentrate on structure. You can’t really dye energised (overtwisted) yarns without losing the energy and apparently pre-dyed overtwist yarns are rare as hen’s teeth. (You’d have to do it in the fibre stage before spinning.) As a dyer herself though, you’d expect more exuberant experimentation with applying colour after the fact but she said she prefers to keep it simple to let the structure tell the story. Anne makes scarves and shawls from her collapse fabrics and utilises the help of a bridal couturier to design and sew high-end garments. Not my taste really since they only suit the figure of a young thin thing.

What I did get out of her class is the idea for this nifty device:

ConeKateIt allows you to wind off yarn from a cone without adding or subtracting twist as you would if you drew it from the top of a standing cone. It’s like a lazy kate but with thread going under the roller allowing it to wind back and forth along it as it comes off the cone. The end then goes through the eye and directly to a bobbin or around a warping reel, keeping any overtwist intact as it winds. Cool. I want one. Yoo-hoo, T-Man?

I briefly mentioned the campus cafeteria food which was, um…edible. But not good. A phrase I heard lately was “You can’t eat low-carb by accident.” and it’s totally true. In a situation like this it’s nearly impossible. I swear I had potatoes in some version for nearly every meal and I usually only eat them about once a week on average. I tried to avoid the sugar and starch but without a lot of success. I ate a lot of iceberg lettuce with grated cheese. I avoided the fruit which was mostly melons which I’m allergic to, except for the excellent apples. I tried to have the eggs and sausages and not eat the hash browns and pancakes that came with them. I succumbed to a chocolate chip cookie…or two. I drank lots and lots of tea in my big 8-oz. cup. I have to say the banquet was really good though: barbequed salmon. Yum! Orange mousse for desert too. But the juice was melon-based and there was no wine, tea or coffee served so I had to make do with water. I never usually drink water with a meal but the heat was making me dehydrated. Even when we ate in a restaurant, the portions were huge and it was hard to avoid the carbs. (Yeah, I know I don’t have to eat everything on my plate. But I paid for it!) So I was very happy to get back to cooking my own food and eating my normal portions.

Best get back out in the garden before it gets stinking hot again. Lots more to catch up on. I’ll carry on the story tomorrow. I haven’t told you about the winery tour yet.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Continuing Story

First, before I get back to our adventures in Spokane, I want to announce that my Papyrine Wrap (Tree-Hugger) got accepted to the Hanji Exhibit! Yay! I knew it was a shoe-in. Heh.

OK where was I? Oh right. Thursday afternoon after we got our booth set up several of the group went on a bus tour of the local galleries to see fibre art. Me, I went to the vendor hall:

VendorHall Those isles (there were only 2) extended down the length of the gym and were filled with goodies guaranteed to get fibre fanatics salivating. It was a smaller number than I’ve seen in the past but that didn’t stop me from finding new things I Had To Have every single time I walked in the door. From Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning I managed to spend quite a few buck-a-roonies on such lovely things as:

ShuttleSpindleAn end-delivery shuttle in amazique (aka shedua) wood from Bluster Bay Woodworks and a purpleheart spindle made by Jim Echter from Weaving Works’ booth. Yum. I love nice woods. The shuttle was my single biggest purchase. Now I have to weave with it, don’t I? And a spinner can never have too many spindles. Just sayin’.

Then I fell hard for the Just Our Yarns booth. They had lovely hand-dyed yarn skeins and kits which included nearly everything you need to make the project. They had knit kits and weave kits. I fell hard for the knitted lace Bias Scarf which came in a kit with a second pattern – the ZigZag Scarf (because one skein is enough for two) – plus the yarn (8/2 tencel), beads and even a crochet hook to apply them:

ScarfKitOf course later I can use the same pattern with some other yarn and beads from the stash. They would definitely make a nice gift. I got other yarn too including some undyed Henry’s Attic Felting Pony (a cone of cobweb-weight superfine merino weighing just over a pound or around 3600 yds) for weaving and a skein of Baruffa Cashwool (also cobweb-weight natural-coloured superfine merino – so soft - but this one might become a shawl) from Yarn Barn of Kansas. Then from Newton’s Country Yarns I got 4 honking-huge skeins of Happy Feet superwash sock yarn for half price (aka really really cheap). These look like handpaints but aren’t. One of the skeins is nearly a pound (equivalent of four 100gm skeins) and the others over a half-pound each. I see at least one sweater and a lot o’socks in my future.

Of course I also got books:

ShopBooksI can see that I was on a weaving kick since 2 are loom weaving, 2 are fingerweaving (which I used to do way back in the early 1970’s) and one is on natural dyeing and growing your own dye plants. I hope to review these later.

More on the seminars etc. to come. Right now it’s 9000 degrees out and bedtime. I think I accidentally brought the hot weather home with me. It was about 32C today which is not only rare for July or August in Vancouver but it’s totally out of keeping with early June. I spent the early morning in the shaded garden weeding and planting more of my path stones and just before dinner watering everything in sight. Now I have to go try to sleep in a too-hot bedroom. No, I’m not complaining! It could be winter, eh? My garden is happy and I’m happy. If somewhat toasty.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Did You Miss Me?

It was really a fun conference but by yesterday I was more than ready to come home. I clicked my ruby slippers and said “There’s no place like home” and then we drove for about 7 or 8 hours and here I am! Spokane was lovely but extremely hot for this coastal girl. My brains were melting into a puddle of goo. Sorry I didn’t get to blog while I was gone but it took until Friday afternoon to get Internet access and our schedule was super-packed. All I used little Bluet (the baby laptop) for was to IM T-Man in the evenings and to back up my daily photos. As always I highly overestimate how much time I have available and over-pack the projects. Oh well. I sure wasn’t bored!

Backing up to the beginning of the trip last Wednesday, our intrepid driver Beryl (who is 70 but acts much younger) picked up first me and then our other travel companion Kirsten and we headed out of town. By that time it was nearly 10am but we didn’t want to be too early or we would run into morning rush-hour traffic. At the border (Pacific Highway, aka the truck crossing) it was backed up a fair ways. When we finally got to the gun-toting, black uniformed, jackbooted female customs officer at the US side, she decided that Kirsten & I were just fine but Beryl with her UK/EU passport and Canadian citizenship card was a potential threat to Homeland Security so she kept our passports and made us all go inside. We were ordered to leave the car unlocked and the keys on the windshield so I knew we were in for a good going-over. After cooling our heels in a line-up for 10 or 15 minutes, Beryl got a stern lecture about how the rules were changing June 1 (which was 5 days away) and that she had better get a Canadian passport or she’ll have to fill in some dreaded form before she can cross into the US. But Ms. Customs said she would let her go This Time. And then she asked Beryl how well she knew Kirsten and I. I think we convinced her that we were all old friends and not some terrorist bums she picked up as hitchhikers on the side of the road.

And of course they had tossed the car while we were being interrogated, causing the usually very sweet and gentle Kirsten to smoulder angrily about men with guns and their bad attitudes. We had to stop and right her loom and repack a couple of things before escaping. One of the Guys With Guns was impatient to see us go but I grumpily told him we couldn’t drive with the loom tossed around like it was. Jeepers! If you’re going to search a vehicle the least you could do is put it back the way you found it! We quickly got it righted and blew that pop stand in a hurry. Whew. Only took us just over an hour to get through the border.

The rest of the way was uneventful and we pulled into Ellensburg just before dinner to find a motel. We were all beat and it was still another 2.5 hours to Spokane. But before the motel we found a bead store where we made our first stash enhancements. I got some lovely leaf beads (I have a weakness for leaves) and faceted glass roundels. The Comfort Inn was indeed very comfortable and our room came with a view:


Next day (Thursday) we got up early-ish and made it to Spokane’s Gonzaga University just before 11am when the conference registration opened. We got our room keys and were just in time to find several handsome young students who helped haul our stuff up to our second floor accommodations:

UniDigsThey were pretty spartan, complete with particle board furniture, plastic mattress, pillow, two raggedy sheets and a blanket plus one dinky towel each. I let Beryl have the lower bunk since she’s only about 4-foot-10 on a good day. Even I needed a chair to get up to my bunk which was about 4 feet off the ground. There were 3 rooms like this in a pod with two toilets and one shower to share. We had already planned our roomies so Kirsten shared with Donna and Susan had her own room. They showed up later on the Thursday having driven the whole way in one go.

We had to get there earlier though because we had to put up our guild’s display booth. After screwing stands together and ironing scarves on a towel on the floor for what seemed like hours (and probably was) we ended up with this:

GVWSG booth09It didn’t look too bad but there was a lot of competition, including:

FishBooth 2Dye4

Fish! Natural dyeing! And my favourite:

PonderosaBoothAn orchard! There’s a whole little felted scene going on in the Ponderosa Guild’s booth. The apples alone looked totally edible. Surprisingly they didn’t win a prize because I think it was very popular with the viewers. I don’t even know who did actually win the first prize. I’m not much on competitions and didn’t envy the judges one bit.

So this is getting very long and we’ve only gotten to Thursday. I have much more to go but I’m still tired. I didn’t sleep well the whole time I was gone. Too much stimulation, wrong food, a crappy bed and too much heat. It’s really hot here right now too – though not nearly as hot as the 90F+ that we had in Spokane. Ocean breezes are sooooo nice…

Lots more anon.