Saturday, July 2, 2011

To blog or not to blog...

Apparently I'm not much of a blogger.  Do I have things to say?  Of course I do, but do I think about typing them out?  Not so much.  I am considering flushing the whole idea of blogging, but somehow I haven't actually thrown in the towel. Part of my problem is that I am totally unfocused in this moment of time.  I do a little of this, then a little of that - nothing blogworthy.   I'd put up some photos but I stashed away the cord that goes from my camera to the computer when we were getting ready for the wedding reception (that was in April!) and I haven't been moved to hunt for it yet.  I am also thinking about looking for my ipod.  I stuffed into something for my trip to Idaho but I can't remember where. My motivation to find things is obviously missing also.
I have finished a bee-oo-ti-ful lace shawl (imagine something filmy, orangey/rusty, and lacy) and have ben knitting on another shawl.  I have been making a quilt for Grover to use on the napping couch.  I finished the 20 leaf squares.  I did them last weekend.  I still need to trim them and then add the sashing, the borders, then get batting and add the backing.  I can the hand-sew the edging.  I also have to do a bit of embroidery on it.  We won't be able to use it until it gets cold again because it is flannel.

This summer I plan to teach Natalie to sew with a machine and to knit.  I plan to do a lot of babysitting while Sarah goes to the last month of medical appointments before having the new baby.  There is a month to go.

That's about it.  Thanks for watching.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

On the road with Donna

I am in Idaho with my friend of 36 years.  We traveled from home going north through Bend, OR and up to Walla Walla, WA. We visited her relatives and then headed east to Lewiston, ID, then south on 12. The highway follows the Clearwater River and the canyon is beautiful, even in the rain.  The woman in the car ahead of us tried to avoid a rock on the road and went into the ditch and took out 2 highway signs and the bottom of her car. There was no blood, but she was hurt.  We waited with her until the emergency vehicles arrived, then continued on our way.  The sheriff told us that a rock the size of a washing machine had fallen the week before and landed on a car and killed 2 kids who were both sitting on the right side of the car.  The year before on the same day a tree fell and killed 2 teens at just about the same spot on the highway.  For the rest of the canyon we became very aware of all the places where rocks and trees had slid because of the saturated ground.  We were happy to get out of there without incident.
The quilt workshop is held in the woman's log home.  Donna and I are sharing a bedroom and there are 4 other guest bedrooms plus the owner's bedroom.  The place is large, has fabulous views of hills and mountains and lots of pine trees and fields.  The meals have been excellent. Today is the first sunny day of our trip.  I have been sitting outside with my spinning wheel working on the wool I got from Eva at the Spindle Retreat.  I am halfway through a second bobbin and it looks like the bag is just as full as when I began.
Donna has been sewing all day and evening since Thursday evening.  She is making a queen size quilt top made of a zillion squares that all have to be in exactly the correct sequence.  There are 5 other women working on the same design in various colors.  They have all been working constantly.
I, on the other hand, have read a book, taken a nap, spent time on the computer, knitted on socks, daydreamed, and spun. I have also been blowing my nose a lot.  I started a cold 2 days before we left CA and am now pretty much down to the bi-hourly blow.  There are 5 of us here from CA, one from CO, and one is local.  We are 12 miles from the nearest town, which doesn't sound like much, but it took almost a half hour to travel it.  People here go to Lewiston (2 hours) to get groceries.  They don't just pop down to the store.  The lady in the car accident was on her way home from Lewiston and was very concerned about her groceries.  Her back seat and trunk were filled.
It's been a nice relaxing time for me.  We brought several books on CD to listen to in the car, but we haven't even started one.  I have my Ipod to listen to, but I have been listening to the birds and the people chatter and the whir of the sewing machines.  The clouds in Walla Walla and here are of the sort we don't see too often where I live. They are huge and puffy - like the kind childen draw.  The sun comes up early and goes down late.
Having a good time.... pictures later!

Monday, May 9, 2011

I need to...

Friday was my 6 month anniversary of retirement and I'm amazed it has been that long.  I thought I would be much better organized by now and also have a routine in place.  So far my routine has been to think about what my routine should be.  I seem to get up every day, eat some food, pet some animals, and go to bed at night.  The rest of the time gets away from me.  Suddenly it is late in the afternoon and I wonder at how that happened.  I have fit in quite a bit of knitting, some spinning, some reading, a little napping, but not very often, and a tad of gardening thrown in here and there.  These are all things I want to fit into my routine, but I've been living so haphazardly that I have no focus and it seems that I am missing that.

I still have almost all of the 27 unfinished knitting projects I mentioned a while back and have added a few more to that list.  I have a warp on the loom for dishtowels, I have enough wool ready for spinning to warm  all of Alaska, I have books on all kinds of techniques, and on and on and on.  What I seem to be lacking is direction.  I am motivated, but overwhelmed with all the possibilities.

I need to focus.
I need to get organized.
I need to get rid of things I'll never use.
I need to get more exercise.
I need to use my exercise bike.
I need to plant my vegetable garden.
I need to clean my house.
I need to do the laundry.
I need to clean the garage.
I need to make a chicken coop and yard.
I need to get chickens.
I need to get the watering system in place for the summer.
I need to stop typing and get out of bed and get going.
I need to prioritize.

Apparently I am quite needy.  I'll get through this. It must be the sunny days that have opened up all these possibilities.  Today I think I'll..................

It's been a long time since I had this luxury of months and months to dabble in whatever flies into my head.  Now it's time to make some plans and then follow through on them.  I think my vacation has ended and my life is beginning again.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I have my life back!

The wedding and reception have come and gone.   


Now that we have had a few of days and nights to sleep, I can say a great time was had by all. The weather was lovely for the reception and the egg hunt was a hoot.  We hid 1000+ eggs (plastic filled with treats and hardboiled) and that kept the hunters going for quite awhile.  I was in the back area watching the little ones look for eggs.  In the front the serious competitors roamed the property looking high and low.
There was fabulous food that guests brought to add to the basic hamburgers and hot dogs.  The bride spent many many hours over the last few weeks making desserts and freezing them.  There was wedding cake in addition to lots of cupcake styles and brownies and tiramisu (?).  We had people all over eating and visiting.  Angie and her family flew in from Montana, the best man came from LA, but most people were local or from the Roseville area about 45 minutes away.  It is a bit odd to have people at your home that you have never met, but think you should know.  My usual trouble with names adds to that conundrum.
The birthday party for Natalie was Sunday night at Chevy's and she got the birthday sombrero and song and was impressed by the whole thing.  That hat will probably haunt them for the rest of their days.  It's the sort of thing no child wants to part with, but has no practical application and is too big to be easy to store.  That's the sort of thing grandparents get to inflict on their children, heh heh.
I spent a lovely day spinning yesterday.  Such a peaceful thing to do.  Today it is raining and good book reading weather.  
I have my life back.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's not over until it's over

Wedding week has arrived and it goes on and on.

Rachel married Chris yesterday afternoon as the rain/snow let up for the event.  We were at Empire Mine for pictures and they were married on the lawn in front of the cottage. The weather was chilly and that allowed me the excuse to wear a couple of my handknits. Rachel toughed it out wearing only a light sweater.  She was also surrounded in love so that must have helped keep her warm.  It was a small group for the ceremony, mostly family. The big party/reception is on Saturday featuring not only the happy couple, but also the annual egg hunt.  The exhausted parents that have been working their butts off are in the final stages of preparations for these festivities that are held at our place. Chris' friend James came up from Burbank to be his Best Man and Rachel had Jenn and Sierra, with Natalie holding the ring pillow.  Their vows were wonderful.

Our family is growing with leaps and bounds. We were just the 4 of us for years and now we have added Chris with Rachel, Barry and Erik and Natalie with Sarah (and another one on the way), Beth with Jimi, and a new member that needs a family - Jenn.   Holidays are more festive now with all the energy and personality they bring with them.  Marja couldn't get here for the wedding as she is in Germany with Holger and their twin 2 yr old girls Lilia and Elin.

Tonight we had a barbeque at Rachel & Chris' house with about 20 people.  Tomorrow we set up for the reception/egg hunt.  Saturday is the Big Event and Sunday morning there is breakfast at a local restaurant.  And, just in case we haven't seen enough of one another by Sunday, we celebrate Natalie's eighth birthday on Monday.  All the main characters will be there.  I love my family and friends, but next Tuesday I will want to sit in a quiet room and just be alone.  I have become more and more reclusive as I age.  Or maybe it is that I have become more comfortable with myself and can spend hours and days just being quiet and alone, going about doing what I love.

On the fiber front I am working on several projects, as always.  Nothing new is finished.  My big plan today is to swamp out my studios so they are safe for human habitation.  I have been throwing stuff in and  closing the door for weeks now.  They need to be made viewable by Saturday, as I'm sure there will be the curious ones who want to see, then know what I plan to do with ALL THAT YARN and FIBER.  I hope I can think of something clever to tell them.  I have lots of ideas - lots and lots of them.  So many, in fact, that I keep forgetting that they all take lots and lots of time.  Time is about the only thing I can't buy if I want more.  Starting next week I'm going to spend more time being retired and doing whatever the hell I want pretty much each and every day.

We've made a good stab at getting the place in order but we need to keep it up.  We have fence to pull (the posts are already in) and clearing to do and possibly some dusting now and then, but these are things we want to do.  No more have-to, here comes want-to.

Check with me in a couple of months and I'll let you know how well that plan is working.

(I have picture of the happy couple, but it is in my email and I am in bed writing this on my laptop so you'll have to wait to see it.  Coming soon, I promise.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Slackers Unlimited sign me up

When my friends can tell me the date of my last post and how long ago that was, I guess I need to start getting more regular about this blogging thing.

The problem is severalfold:  1) the sun finally came out which means we have had 3 weeks to do an entire winter's worth of outdoor cleanup around here because we have 120 people coming on the 16th for a wedding reception ; 2) I retired and I am not interested in all day chores so only do 3-4 hours of 'must dos' each day ; 3) I have some books I need to read so I can return them to the library in time ;  4) I have a lot of knitting and spinning I want to accomplish. It turns out that blogging came in last. I think that I need to put photos on the blog entries and I haven't been taking any and if I had it would take time to add them.  At the end of each day, G and I flop into our chairs and watch 'Touch of Frost' from Netflicks.  I have done 5 burn piles in the last week.  See the March 23 picture of the fallen tree, then add about a million and seven sticks and branches that are lying all over the ground and need to be picked up and put in the burn pile and you have 3-4 hours of constant motion of bending, dragging and lifting.  It tires me out by the end of the day.  My left thigh cramped so hard on Sunday afternoon that I couldn't straighten my leg and had to creep forward all crouched down.  After years of driving a desk this has been an intensive fitness program.  By the next morning I am feeling good and I know this is good for me.  I just don't have photos to show.  We have had some help with weedwhacking, chainsawing and burning and I am incredibly grateful for that.  We are heading into the last week and into the housecleaning (my least favorite thing).

In my last post I didn't identify the shawl that I pictured.  It is called LazyKaty by Birgit Freyer on Ravelry.  The books I have been listening to are the Louise Penny "Three Pines" mysteries.  I just finished 'Bury Your Dead' and it was excellent.  It is a wonderful series with characters I love, especially Inspector Gamache.  Don't read "Bury Your Dead" until after you read "The Brutal Telling" or the flow will be different.  I suggest reading them in order.  I am now reading a series of mysteries that take place on the Shetland Isles.  There are 4 of them by Ann Cleeves.  I'm on the 3rd one and am enjoying these too.

I've been doing some babysitting and the toddler man is letting my get some knitting done.  That's a big step forward!

My knitting down the WIPs has made little progress.  Instead I have been knitting a Susan Pandorf shawl called In Dreams and am using a Verb for Keeping Warm natural dyed silk.  I just finished a cowl from yarn that was in a sock blanks that I got from Nancy Roberts. The pattern is at Ravelry and is the Inspira cowl by Celery Stalks.  A group of us from MeadowFarm (MF) have done a KAL.  I started a pair of socks from another MF KAL but have fallen behind as the wedding cleanup has been progressing. I also knit a Noni felted bag for MF as a sample.  It was very interesting and fun to knit.  I have never made a bag before, and it isn't really something I would personally use, but the construction was what I wanted to know.  It has these undulations in the sides that are fabulous.  Ellen is going to do the actual felting and I can't wait to see it when done.

Today is my library volunteer afternoon and a knit night at MF. I shampooed the living room carpet this morning, then babysat while S took a cat to the vet.  I also pulled up some cactus from the back garden.  Now that I have grandkids, cactus don't look as wonderful as they used to. Where I used to see interesting shapes and colors, now I see fingers loaded with spines and eyes poked out on spikes.  It doesn't make for a good image.  I have actually clipped the points of some of my favorites so the eye poke thing can't happen.

I'll be back again after the wedding.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No Exit

This is what I woke up to on Sunday.
One of the trunks of a live oak lost its footing and fell across the driveway blocking the exit.  I had to get my car out so we went out in the rain and cut up enough of it to allow a car to pass.  We finished cutting it up on Monday when the sun made a guest appearance, and had it all burned by the end of the day.
It is rainy and windy again today!  We are having a BIG outdoor party here on April 16 and it would be nice to be able to clean up outside and get some plants in.  The amount of sticky clay mud out there is just depressing.

On the fiber side of life, I have been knitting and spinning.  I finally finished spinning a large bag of wool from Rovings.  I bought it at SOAR several years ago (let's give a loose definition to 'several').  Rovings is the vendor that has a long line of crazed people clutching large bags of dyed roving that blends from one color into the next in lovely colorways.  It doesn't seem to take very long until she is sold out.  Having observed these lines at several SOARs I decided to join the crowd and bought 2 big bags of the fluff.  It is a frenzy with people grabbing for bags that seem to have colors they like, then bolting for the line to pay.  Now that I have spun one of the bags, I can't begin to understand the allure.  The colors are wonderful, but the actual wool is crap.  It seems to be a woolen preparation and had LOTS of neps from 2nd cuts or weak fleece or whatever. There was hardly any vegetable matter though.  I guess I will make a blanket or something with these skeins.  I have another bag of the stuff and hope the wool is in better shape.  I have seen stuff other people have bought from Rovings and it was lovely Polworth.  Mine must have come from the back of the toolshed. This is half of the yarn.  The other half is drying near the woodstove.

I haven't made much progress on my list of UFOs.  What I have done is knit 2 shawls that have gone to new homes. This is one of them.

I am knitting on 2 more shawls, have joined a cowl KAL and also a pair-of-socks-a-month group.  I also knit a fuschia and felted it, bit the felting went poorly.  It resembles a fuschia but definitely needs more felting.

I also have been getting use of the mittens I made in January.

 Life here in the slow lane is good.  I picked up 3 books on CD at the library yesterday and since it is blustery and rainy I get to spend the day indoors doing what I love.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Losing motivation

I seem to be in a bit of a slump.  I'm busy working on several things, but not very enthusiastically.  It may be the weather.  The rain and cold have returned and the house is cold.  We heat with a wood stove and it keeps the family room/kitchen area warm.  My yarn areas are far from the heat source so I have to assemble my projects and bring them into the warmth.  When it is cold it all seems to be a bit too much trouble, so I have been spinning and listening to  a couple of James Patterson's Alex Cross detective novels.
I saw a shawlette on Ravelry that appealed to me so I made it this last week.  I used a pair of sock blanks that I dyed at dye day at Sue Flynn's last year.  I had a bunch of the blanks and I gave some away for others to dye and use.  I knitted straight from the blank as I unravelled it and the kinky yarn makes the shawl look odd.  I need to take before blocking and after blocking pics.
My granddaughter Natalie came over yesterday for the afternoon.  She was home from school because of snow.  I went over and picked her up and before we were a mile from her house she had already decided the order of events for the afternoon.  We made chocolate chip cookies, then made popcorn, then watched Chicken Run.  After that she went outside with Nutmeg, the female corgi, and played in the rain and mud.  When Nutmeg stopped doing what Natalie wanted she was returned to the house and Dylan, the other corgi, was pressed into service and he got to be dragged around in the rain.  When Natalie got cold enough she came in and we made cocoa and watched Toy Story 3.  We then went to the barn and put the sheep away and fed the horses and llamas.  Then her dad came and picked her up.  A fun time was had by all (except the corgis - they hate the rain).
Sarah told me a funny Natalie story.   As dinner was served, Natalie gave the blessing :  "God, please don't let this food be poison because it sure looks like it is!"  This child cracks me up!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Have I lost my mind?

I seem to have signed on for several KALs (Knit-a-longs for you Muggles) and now find I am having to keep up with them. This wasn't so difficult at the beginning, but as time marches on there are more and more stitches that need to be knit for every single row.  That would be every row x 3 projects.  You might be wondering how this didn't occur to me when I started them.  Well, it didn't.  Well maybe it flitted through somewhere, but it wasn't waving a flag or holding a big arrow or painted yellow, so I ignored it.

So why am I stopping to type this (you may well ask)?  I need a break from that taskmaster and fool that I seem to have lodged somewhere in my head.  That is the voice that urges me forward and onward and has no concept of the time and space continuum out here on the earth.  It lives in a womb of its own somewhere in my head and loves to make me crazy sometimes so it can giggle at me.  The big giggle at the moment is that these KALs are all lace on small needles.  Some stashbuster, eh?

Since Rachel is getting married and has chosen our Annual Egg Hunt for her Meet the Happy Couple reception, we have ratcheted up the our expectation of how this place should look.  There has been digging, dragging, wheelbarrowing, decision making and all kinds of stuff going on here.  It has all added up to hard work so it is going slowly. Sustained hard physical labor has never been a goal of this family so it is no surprise that progress is slow.  (Besides, I have all those stitches to knit.)

All the dogs got out today when the gate blew open in some heavy winds.  I was pretty surprised that none of them seemed all that interested in chasing sheep.  They were more interested in all the great sniffs.  We have had coyotes and a mountain lion cruising through the property recently and that keep the dogs busy tracking down the smells.

Considering what the dogs eat when they are running about, I am dumbfounded when they won't eat their dog food.  How could dog food taste worse than horse shit?  And why does rolling in the sheep stall make you smell better than shampoo?  Just a couple of Life's Big Questions.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An impossible task and a photo!

I have been going through all the patterns I have collected over the years and am pitching the ones I am no longer interested in.  If you know me, that doesn't amount to many hitting the recycle bin.  I have noted on the top of the pattern how many yards it calls for and what size needle/hook.  I then sorted them by number of yards  (>100, 100, 200,...1200, 1300, etc.).  I will further organize them by type within their yardage group.  Are you still with me? 
Believe it or not, I am now winding my myriad hanks of yarn into balls, putting them on the McMorran yarn balance, noting the yards/pound and then I will weigh each ball and get the number of yards I actually have.
The concept is to be able to match the patterns with yarn I actually own! I am going through all this complexity to do something simple and obvious. The last few years of work were punctuated by many trips to the local (and online) yarn stores to buy soul enhancing loveliness to offset the morale sucking times at work.  This created an overabundance of various balls of this and that and now I have the desire to use them for good.
When I am feeling particularly solid within myself, I may take a photo of my knitting room and let you see what I am talking about.  It is a large-huge amount.  I also have a weaving room with its share of inventory.  Then there is the spinning fiber.  Oy vey!  I need to live and long time. At least my children both knit and can appreciate the inheritance possibilities.

Today I had help figuring out how to add a picture.  This is the entrelac I mentioned the other day.  I thought I was picking up speed, but it turned out that I was making each row a bit smaller by eliminating one edge triangle.  I had to rip it back -- twice!  Not all the way, but about 5 levels of squares.  I have now figured it out and have knitted it enough to have used up all the yarn I had ripped out.  This is a huge accomplishment for me.  I have 22 rows of entrelac in this picture. I now have 31 rows finished.  The ball of yarn is all the rest of the dye samples tied together and wound.  I was thinking that there wasn't much yardage when it was in individual samples, but now that it is wound together I think I'm in good shape and it will make a long scarf.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Panic Not

Some of my readers are wondering if I have a terminal illness or a premonition of pending doom because I picked the title Before I Sleep.  Rest assured I have no knowledge of anything like that.  I picked the name because I have miles and miles of yarn to use up before I kick off.

My initial burst of speed got me down to 27 UFOs and I am working on #26.  I started it perhaps 5-7 years ago and it is on #2 needles and in silk I scrounged from a dye sample class.  There are perhaps 80+  two yard pieces of a slightly textured silk in 80+ colors.  When I started the project I would stop and choose the next color as each piece ran out. I was thinking I would graduate the colors from one end of the scarf to the other.  I put in a square of a contrasting color here and there to try to tie it all together and add some serendipity.   Now it is many years later, and I want to actually finish this sometime this decade, so I spent 2 days knotting the yarns together in the order I wanted and then wound them into a ball.  My decisions already having been made, I am making progress on it at a faster rate (faster being a relative term: think skinny yarn on #2 needles and entrelac).  When the ball turned out to be about 4" in diameter I realized that I have a LOT of yarn to go to finish this.  That's a good thing since it may actually turn out long enough to be a scarf.

Meanwhile, I knit a Wonderful Wallaby hoodie for my grandson Erik and have been cutting up old shirts to use in a bathmat.  I started to feel like I was trapped into finishing all 29 projects before doing anything else and that was crazythinking.  I can work on whatever I want to work on.  I tend to paint myself into corners to force myself to do stuff and this should be fun.  I need to take a good look at everything and decide if I even want to still do them.  Ravelry and blog reading has given me many more ideas and if I want to move forward I need to jettison some of the baggage I am dragging along behind me.  This applies to more than just fiber.  My whole life is up for re-evaluation.

This must be a facet of having just retired.  What are my interests, priorities, etc.?  What do I want to spend my time doing?  Everyone knows that our time line on earth shrinks a bit every day and we don't know how far ahead the cliff is.  I plan to do more 'wants' and fewer 'have-tos' (I have no idea how one should spell that).

Pictures to follow.  I still haven't taken the time to figure out how to add them.  I actually haven't even taken them yet.  I'm still in the early organizational stage of both this retirement and this blog. I've also  started reading again.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What was I thinking?

Just before New Year's Eve I sat in my comfy chair gazing around the room at my yarn, etc. wondering what to work on next when I suddenly focused on the number of partial projects that were languishing about in bags, bins, baskets, etc.  I started counting them and came up with a HUGE NUMBER - 37!  I didn't even have to dig to find these.  2011 is starting out as a finishing year.

Some of these projects were almost complete, yet something shinier caught my eye and I raced off in the new direction and never looked back.  This seems to have happened 36 times over the last few years.  I hear about new year resolutions to give up buying yarn, fiber, etc. , but my resolution needs to be to try to focus.  

It is week 2 of 2011 and I have actually finished 10 of the projects.  One of the 10 I hated and have since ripped it out.  I have also started one project that is almost completed.  It is a hoodie for my grandson.  I'll show a picture of it when it is finished.

Actually, I'll show pictures of everything when I figure out how to load the pictures.  I got a camera for xmas so I could do just that.

I'm not committing to 'no new projects', but I am locking myself in to evaluate each one and either releasing it back into it's former life as skeins of yarn, or continue to take time to work through this mortifyingly enormous pile of unfinished intentions.  

I also have more ideas and plans pushing forward in my head, so I will be doing some of those also.  You're welcome to join me for the trip as I attempt to use up my fiber stash and ideas in this last portion of my life.  I have already completed the schooling years, the motherhood years, and the working years.  Now I am retired and able to do whatever I want, whenever I want.  Join me on my journey toward the Big Sleep.