Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell Furry Friend

Ewenice T. Bunet died sometime Tuesday early evening. I found her body under the bed. She had not come when I called her for dinner, which was quite unusual. It appears as though she got stuck, though it was her favorite place to nap, so it was not unfamiliar territory.

She was only ten months old, and I had her for only four. I feel so guilty. I can only hope that she knew how much I love her.

Ewe used to chase poor Eddie around. I seriously think she was in love with him. It didn't matter to her that he was a cat and much bigger than she. Oh, Ed would act annoyed, but since she died, he keeps wandering around, looking for her. All of the cats (except Tom) do. Poor Norman went over to where her cage had been and lay on the floor. It was like he was paying homage. Actually, I think he'll miss the hay he used to steal from her hay bin. I won't miss having to clean up his hayballs.

Some people don't understand the bunny as pet concept. I think they must still think of bunnies as outdoor animals kept in wooden hutches. Let me tell you, bunnies make great indoor pets. Ewenice was a joy: so sweet, so funny, so loving. I loved watching her hop/run through the house when I let her out every morning.

So long, sweet Ewenice. Please know that we all loved you, and still do. I'm sure Lily was there to help you cross the Rainbow Bridge. She'll keep you safe and make sure you're loved.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Giving Thanks

Brenden Foster died on Friday, November 21. His death wasn't reported on many television news programs or in many newspapers. But, it should have. In his short eleven years, he influenced more people than most of us will in a life decades longer.

You might have heard about him on CNN or read about him in Seattle-area newspapers. Brenden had cancer, and as his life drew to an end, he wanted to make a difference. On a drive, Brenden noticed a group of homeless people. That sight affected him deeply. He wanted to feed them, but he was far too weak. Brenden's wish could have ended right there, with good intentions but no action. After all, many of us have good ideas and intentions but they never see fruition.

That was not to be the case with Brenden Foster's last wish. People heard about his selfless wish, and they came to his aid--and to the aid of the homeless he had seen. Organizations provided food and other needed items to those he had seen that fateful day. But it didn't stop there. As people all over the country heard about Brenden on CNN and other media, they set out to help the homeless in their area in his name. This little boy, who could have lived unknown outside his community, had influenced an entire country.

In an interview shortly before his death, a reporter asked Brenden what made him sad. One might expect someone in Brenden's shoes to say dying. But, those who had followed Brenden's story knew that wasn't "him." So what made Brenden sad? People who give up. He encouraged people, saying, "Follow your dreams. Don't let anything stop you."

Incidentally, Brenden's desire to help extended beyond people. He was concerned about the declining bee population. He wanted everyone to plant flowers.

This Thanksgiving and holiday season will be an extremely difficult one for many. It seems as though you can't turn on the television without hearing about more business closings and layoffs. People who never before worried about whether they'd have a job no longer have that luxury. With such problems looming like the sword of Damocles for many of us, it can be understandably difficult to think of others at this time. As we struggle to put out a Thanksgiving dinner filled with mountains of food, how can we think of those whose every meal is in doubt?

How? Think of Brenden. He was dying, yet he didn't wallow in self-pity. He thought of others. Helping others doesn't necessarily mean starting an organization to feed the homeless and those in need across the country--even the world. Start small. Figuratively set another place at your Thanksgiving dinner. Take the money you would have spent on that serving and donate it to an organization that helps feed those in need. Don't worry if it seems small to you. Organizations such as Feeding America is happy to accept contributions of all amounts. You will make a difference.

And knitters, can you do without a skein of yarn to help those who have to do without food? I think you can. Take that money and donate it to help the hungry. Do you have stash that you don't think you'll use? Most of us do. There are different ways you can use it to help people in need. Sell it and donate the money. Donate the yarn to a shelter, where people can use it to create something positive. Knit a hat, mittens, scarf, or afghan and donate it to a shelter or organization that helps those in need.

All of us can be like Brenden Foster. In a world bereft of true, admirable role models, he and his actions will always stand tall.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sticks & String as Security Blankets

I guess it's been awhile since I've blogged. Well, I've been knitting and dyeing of course, but a lot of my time has been spent working on the many Knitting Purls projects. Check out the Knitting Purls blog to see what we have going on. And keep your eyes open for a new ezine, Hooks & String, for all the crocheters out there.

And I've also been doing a lot of thinking about the election and the state of finances. I'm certainly not alone. When it comes to the financial world, we all got a good picture of the influence the US financial market has on the international scene. Many people are scared, and I'm one of them. But, there are, of course, people worse off than I.

On the news the other night, there was a story about how people are handling the stress caused by the roller-coaster financial ride. Sadly, many are turning to unhealthy means to do so, ways that have ramifications for their families and friends.

I started thinking about security blankets. Not literally, though most people probably had one at some time in their life, but figuratively. I remember a stuffed dog I had as a child. It was a very vivid pink, or it had been when new. As a child, I suffered from frequent nightmares. I could always count on this dog (who had a name, but sadly, I have no recollection of what it was) to be there for me when I woke. When I was lonely or feeling overwhelmed, it was first that stuffed dog and then others to whom I turned.

This summer I came to realize that I now see my knitting needles as a security blanket. I didn't know how much they had replaced that long-ago forgotten stuffed animal until this summer. Twice during the summer, homes on my block were destroyed by fire. As my neighbors and I stood across the street watching the firefighters battle the blaze, and praying they'd be able to keep the flames from jumping to the trees leading to our home, I kept thinking how much I wanted my needles. At least if I could knit, I'd be able to do something; I wouldn't feel quite so helpless.

Just a few weeks later, fire again struck our block. While watching the firefighters try in vain to save the house and the one next to it, my thoughts again turned to knitting. Was there something I could knit for these people? Maybe I could organize a collection of handknit items to donate to the families who were now homeless. I felt as though I absolutely had to knit, and it really didn't matter what it was.

Is the fact that I want to drop everything and knit when I'm stressed weird? Perhaps to someone who doesn't knit, but I'm sure there are many knitters who feel the same way. I'm not sure why we do, but I think it has to do with normalcy. When we're faced with things over which we have no control, we seek things we can. (That is one theory behind the development of eating disorders as well.) As we face economic uncertainty due to business failures and other economic downturns, we may feel as though we're helpless. The same is true when facing illness and many other stressors. We've lost control, and it makes us feel helpless, sometimes even useless. So, we go in search of something to bring equilibrium back to our lives. For me--and for many others--that something is knitting. It calms and soothes. It brings stability in an unstable world.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Still Stitching, but also Dyeing

I love knitting, and I can't imagine anything ever changing that. But, I have quickly become a big fan of dyeing. The first photo is of my Bored Board socks. The yarn was died with Kool-Aid and was my first attempt at any type of dyeing. The colorway is The Mad Hatter. My local knitting guild, Needles and Skeins, is doing a Swallowtail shawl KAL. It's supposed to be done in a lighter-weight yarn, but that's not for me. So, I dyed some worsted weight. This is Ballykissangel colorway. Now, this next example is KindaCamo. It's what happens when you think you have three hanks of the same yarn, and you don't. The colors are a bit too "off" to make it work with the rest of the yarn for the shawl. Autumn is the next colorway. It's my favorite season, in part because of all the colors. In person, there's more blue to this than what shows up, but it's still one of my favorites. I don't know what I'll make with it yet, but I already regret not dyeing more at the same time. And finally, we have Iolite. It's my favorite gemstone, and I couldn't resist trying to dye yarn in those beautiful colors.

From now on, I think I'll dye more than one hank of a particular colorway.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Yes, I have been knitting

I have finally finished my July socks for the Sock Challenge. This is the Ivy League sock pattern designed by Wendy Johnson. I test knit the pattern for it (and enjoyed doing that a lot), but after the first sock and casting on and knitting part of the second, my attention seemed to get diverted. I've been spending a lot of time working on my moguldum. I'm podcasting for Knitting Purls now, and I'm starting a new ezine, Spinning & Dyeing, which will debut in December. But I really do like the pattern. Incidentally, Wendy has generously donated it to the Patterns for Paws Project!

I'm on the board of the Editorial Freelancers Association. Last week we had a 2-hour teleconference. In anticipation that I'd get bored, I designed the Bored Board sock to work on during the meeting. I wanted something simple, since I knew I should probably pay attention. This yarn is the Mad Hatter I dyed using Kool-Aid. I like how it's working up.

As of Monday afternoon, I have something else taking up some of my time. I'd like to introduce you to Miss Ewenice T. Bunet. The last name is pronounced Bun-nay by the way. She is a Lionhead bunny and is 6 months old. And yes, I plan to spin her fur. But mostly I plan to love her.

Friday, August 08, 2008

New Goings On

Well, I'm still dyeing. This time I used Wilton Cake Decorating colors. Now, these are not the ones usually found in grocery stores. These colors are found in cake decorating stores and in cake decorating sections of craft stores such as AC Moore and Michaels. There is a wide variety of colors available, and of course you can mix colors to create your own.

I also tried a new dyeing tool: the slow cooker! Piece of cake. It certainly doesn't get much easier, unless you're using the Kool-Aid "sun tea" method. The only problem I had was keeping the yarn submerged during the first 20 minute soak. I finally put a plate on top of it to hold it down. I'm not sure why this happened, but I think it might have been because there wasn't enough water. I'm using a 4-quart slow cooker, and perhaps I should have gotten a slightly larger one. Another reason could be that I had the skein twisted a bit too tightly, which didn't allow the water to soak through efficiently and sink the yarn. Regardless, I'm happy with the results.


I want to call your attention to a new etsy shop opening at 8:00 PDT on August 8. Dizzy Blonde Studios features a beautiful selection of hand-dyed yarn. You can see closeups of the yarn here. I think we all should do our best to support independent dyers and spinners.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

What I've been up to

I've said many times that the better I become as a knitter, the more interested I am in other aspects of the knitting process. One of my newest fascinations is dyeing. These are photos of my very first attempt. I used Kool-Aid: 2 packets of Grape and 3 packets of Lemon Lime. Once the green and purple were to my liking, I squirted the middle part with Tropical Punch.

I am very happy with how the yarn turned out. There are gradations in the purple and lime; they are more obvious in the purple parts. I had read somewhere that someone thought the dark purple looked brown when using Kool-Aid. That's not true for me. My dark purple is a real dark purple. Incidentally, I named the colorway The Mad Hatter. There is a local antique store with a lime green and purple storefront.

When I do Kool-Aid dyeing again--and I will--I think I'll do it on top of the stove. I used quart canning jars in the microwave for this project. I had a mess in the microwave from "boil over." It was easily cleaned up. I don't notice that it smelled up my kitchen, and the yarn does not have an overly Kool-Aidie smell.

The next dyeing project is using a Crockpot. I think I'm going to keep to food dyes, but this time use food coloring in past form, available in cake decorating stores or Michaels and probably AC Moore. I think I'll go for a more autumnal look.

Besides this, and knitting, I've been letting the idea for a new project marinate in my mind. It would aid in my quest to create a dynasty!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Still Here

I didn't realize that it's been so long since my last post. I wish I could say that it was because I was off on some exotic journey--knitting-related, of course--but I can't. The simple fact of the matter is that things just got busy.

I'm still knitting socks. In fact, right now I am test knitting a sock for Wendy Johnson of WendyKnits. It's called Ivy League Socks. It's lacy, but not a problem for someone who hasn't done much lace work. The chart is easy to follow, but has enough elements to keep the knitting interesting.

Wendy has been generous enough to donate the pattern to Patterns for Paws. This is a joint project of The Lily M. Foundation, Inc.'s Lily's Friends and the Purebred Cat Breed Rescue. Patterns will be made available for download, with profits split between the two organizations. If you are a knit or crochet designer and would like to participate, please send an e-mail to

I've also been buying lots of fiber.

That is 100% merino wool in the Ida's Delusions of Grandeur colorway. It came from a cool new etsy store, Zarzuela Fibers. Check it out. Keep in mind, though, that her fibers and yarns go FAST.

So why am I buying fiber? Meet Ezekiel:

Now to find time to actually practice and spin!

Friday, May 30, 2008

I've Come a Long Way, Baby

I just downloaded a pattern from Knitwhits that I am test knitting. Yes, you read that right--I'm test knitting a pattern for a designer! It's called Edie: A Simple Springtime Cardigan. The pattern is designed in Noro Kureyon Worsted and Kureyon Sock. It's beautiful, though I don't know if I'll use the same colors.

I've accomplished a lot knitwise this year, and it's not even half over. After heaven knows how many years with "Learn to knit socks" at the top of my New Year's Resolutions list, I finally did it. I've joined sock-related Ravelry forums, including Summer of Socks. I've knitted sweaters that are nice enough it be gifts. I've test knitting a pattern. And, of course, I launched Knitting Purls.

Speaking of Knitting Purls, I'll be reviewing Flat Feet and the new Knit Picks sock blanks in upcoming issues. Also to be reviewed are SWTC's Soy Silk and Craft.

My knitting life is good.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ooooh, Malabrigo

I love Malabrigo yarn. Last winter I made a pair of mittens in it, and they are the softest mittens on the planet. I recently heard that Malabrigo is coming out with sockweight yarn. Since finally learning how to knit socks, I've become addicted to sock knitting. I even joined a Sock of the Month Club! Anyway, back to Malabrigo. I contacted them and told them I wanted to review the new yarn for Knitting Purls. So, they sent me 3 skeins, which are shown in the photo. Please keep in mind that the light sucks here, so the color in the photo isn't very good. I can assure you that the color in real life is wonderfully rich. I'm looking forward to reviewing this yarn.

OH, EXTRA GOOD NEWS. There's enough yarn in one skein for a pair of socks, more than 400 yards.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Definitely not too much

I love knitting socks. Once I found a way to do it without the dreaded DPNs or the seam necessitated by using two needles, I was hooked. And I look for every excuse I can find to knit a pair of socks. So, when I discovered Socks of Summer 2008, I quickly signed up. At 12:01 June 21, we can cast on and knit socks to our heart's content. In preparation, I went sock yarn shopping. Above is my sock yarn stash--well, at least the layer you can see. There's a lot from my LYS Spin a Yarn, as well as a healthy dose of Knit Picks yarns. You'll find Felici, Happy Feet, Smooshy Sock, Trekking, Maizy, and Essentials, as well as multitudes more. I'm also waiting on a skein of hand-dyed sock yarn in a gorgeous lime green and blue colorway. I think I'm in sock yarn heaven.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Thinking of you, dear Lily

Today is the yahrzeit of my knitting buddy McKittycreek Lily McMunster. It's been two years, sweet lady, and I miss and love you still.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Taking the Plunge

Here's the photo of my latest pair of socks. It's my basic sock pattern done this time with Trekking XXX. This is the first time I've used this yarn, and I liked working with it. We'll see how well it holds up.

In making this pair, it got me to thinking about how far I've come in the past few months, at least where socks are concerned. I was one of those knitters who felt that I'd never be able to make socks. I just could not (and still can't) get the hang of using DPNs. No matter how many times someone told me, "But you're only working on two at a time," I just couldn't get coordinated enough to use them. I tried making socks with 2 needles, and I even bought short circs, both in an attempt to join in on the sock-knitting craze. Both gave me less than satisfactory results.

So what changed? I learned to do cables. So what do cables have in common with my seriously stockinette socks? On the surface, not much. On a deeper level, confidence. For many years, cables held the same fear and wonder for me that socks had until recently. They looked so complex that I could never see myself tackling them. But then I found a Lion Brand pattern for a cabled afghan. They said it was simple, so I decided to give it a shot. I jumped in, trembling slightly when I reached the first instructions for these things referred to as CR9, CL5. But the instructions for making the cables were clear and, most important to me anyway, actually made sense! Before I knew it, I was off and running with cables.

You still might ask yourself what cables have to do with stockinette socks. Well, after I conquered my fear of cables, I felt as though I could take on anything--knitwise at least. So I took another look at socks. My efforts with DPNs were still pathetic. But then I discovered Magic Loop; it seemed like the answer to my sock-knitting prayers. But alas, my first attempts at MLing were unsuccessful to say the least. I bought the booklet that was supposed to be the "Bible" of MLing. Far from being helpful, I just got increasingly confused. I looked at online videos and bought more books, but some of them contradicted others. What was I to do?

Turn to knitting on 2 circs. That method actually made sense to me. So I knitted a couple of caps using 2 circs. But the lure of MLing was still there, so I tried it again. This time the instructions made sense to me, and I was off and running. Socks, mittens, caps--what a breeze using MLing. And to think, if I hadn't taken the plunge and gained confidence by making cables, I might still be on the sidelines, drooling over the plethora of gorgeous sock yarns and patterns.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another Discovery

I have discovered the wonderful world of Log Cabin afghans! OK, I'm a late bloomer. I have the Mason Dixon book and had looked longingly of the LCs in there. But for some reason, I just couldn't get the hang of it. Then, at a recent knitting meet-up at my LYS, I happened to mention my desire to do one to the group. The owner heard me, and she came over and explained how to do it! Now it seems so easy.

This LC is a pet blankie for the Lily M. Foundation, Inc., Lily Pad project. Even before it was done, I was mentally designing one for me. I've been working on it along with socks. My new LC started out rather traditionally, but it has taken on a life of its own. That is one of the best things about this kind of knitting. I just start, and when I feel like changing colors--I do!! And it is so nice not to have to count once in a while!!!

Another good thing about LCs is that it's giving me the opportunity to use up a lot of the acrylic I have in my yarn stash. And if I do need to buy a particular color, acrylic yarn is usually a lot less expensive than what I usually buy.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Ida's Basic Ankle Socks

Ida's Basic Ankle Sock

Here's my first sock with a heel. I'm calling it Ida's Basic Ankle Socks. Of course I used Magic Loop. I don't see any reason to start using DPNs now!

I used Adriafil Knitcol. I've not used it before. I liked working with it. I just hope it holds up to laundering.

Friday, January 04, 2008

My First Socks and So Much for Resolutions

Well, they're my first socks knit in the round. They are the Heelless Spiral Socks from Easy Knit Socks. I used my favorite technique--Magic Loop. I swear if it weren't for ML I'd not be able to make socks. Okay, I could use the 2 circs method, but I hate spending money to buy things twice.

I set a knitting goal for myself--knit only from my stash. That lasted until January 3. I knit a pair of mittens for my SIL for Christmas. She loved them so much she asked if I'd make a pair for her granddaughter and another pair for her. I had the yarn in my stash for the little girl's pair, but I had to buy yarn for my SIL. She had requested special colors. So, I'm not taking total responsibility for breaking my resolution!