If you follow this blog at all

March 21, 2011

you know that there is always a 7 to 10-day silence mid-month when I work on the newsletter for my gorilla client. Don’t want to disturb the gorilla. This month, there was the added complication of several days without internet service.

But, in spite of the fact that I’m still working on the last bits of the newsletter, I wanted to post this link:


It’s a fundraiser for a gal, Emily, who has been diagnosed with liver cancer. She needs help with meds. I know that it’s a bad time to ask for money with so much going on in the world, especially with the tragedy in Japan. But this fundraiser involves some lovely yarny goodness.

If you can spare a few, head on over and contribute to enter yourself for some really grand loot. Along the way, you will help out someone who could use a helping hand right now.

A day in the life

March 10, 2011

of Opal.

Opal turned three last December. She has a keen interest in mice. If you like mice, don’t read any further.

Mice lovers all gone? OK. We can continue.

Farm fields surround the house we live in. Mostly alfalfa (which I was extremely disturbed to hear could soon become roundup ready alfalfa –more info here– thanks to the oligarchy or corporatocracy in which we live–but that’s a whole other topic that I am not even going to allow myself to get worked up about today.)

Because of all the fields, we have lots of mice. Lots of mice. Deer mice. Deer mice carry hantavirus and a few people in our area die of the virus every year. Consequently, we are super vigilant about keeping mice out of our house. The RNK goes around every spring and checks for holes around the foundation. If the mice made any over the winter, he pours Quick Crete into them so they can’t get under the house and into the crawl space.

We are very careful about keeping doors closed. We always have traps set, including a live trap in our laundry room, which seems to be the easiest point of entry for them. The live trap helps to ensure that we keep trapping even when we are gone and the snap traps are sprung.

We also have a cat. The ever-present mouse issue influenced our decision to get a rat terrier. Rat terriers are famed for their ability to kill small rodents. One, named Billy, was believed to have killed 2501 rats in 7 hours in a rat-infested barn. Opal isn’t quite that skilled and we don’t have quite as many mice as that barn had rats.

I simply tell you about Billy as a way to explain that Opal’s interest in mice comes honestly. Killing mice is part of the program. Her first job every morning is running the trap line. She alerts us to any mice in any trap with great excitement. She is extremely enthusiastic about helping me open the live trap to “take care” of any mice inside. She is a mighty mouser.

We found two this past week. I am not sure if it’s more humane to drop the mouse trap in a bucket of water and allow the poor dear to die a watery death or if it’s more humane to open the trap and let Opal snap it’s spine. Certainly, that’s the speedier death and a slightly more sporting option. Some of them do get away.

However, she killed both that we found this week and now that she’s killed two in as many days, she is very focused on the trap. She tried to convince me a mouse was in my office. I moved the trap in there for a night but no luck. I think perhaps, she just wanted it closer to her bed so she could keep an eye on it. I wish I could have captured the quivering on camera. There was a whole lot of quivering going on.

Just loop through those pictures about 8 dozen times and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how Opal spent yesterday. The trap is now back in the laundry room. I couldn’t stand all the quivering.

(Weird. I thought this posted last week, and then I came to post a new post but this one hadn’t posted. So I published it and it published with the errors I fixed before I thought I posted it last week. Go figure. Anyway, here’s last week’s post and maybe next week you’ll get this week’s post.)

I am repentant

February 19, 2011

It was pointed out to me by a few kind readers that the JBW contest award skeins of Koigu in pink are indeed perfect for not only the five, six and seven-year-old girls in my life (and I should knit something for them); but, it is also appropriate for several of the 40-something-year-old girlfriends in my life (and I should knit something for them). Alas, I have no five, six or seven-year-old girls in my life.

Apparently, the 40-something age group has slow reflexes. Before anyone could convince me to knit something for them, I had already received an offer to trade from one of the contest winners!

Furthermore, I just stumbled across this interesting post on Knit Buddies about the color of the year.

None-the-less, the pink left the building. It winged its way to the winner of Kim’s yarn, who has a six-year-old granddaughter. In return, I got some lovely purple Koigu. No muted tones for me!

I am happy to report that finally, I finished Mendocino. I look like a cow in it. But hey, you can’t have everything. It is warm, it’s comfortable and it fits. It’s just that the heavily textured cable patterns on the tits and back add a little girth in a most unflattering way. This is one of those knits that would look great on a flat-chested twig of a girl. Wouldn’t they all?

Let me point out that the color is off in all but the very last picture. I did not knit a pink sweater. Let me be very, very clear about that. And no, I am not happy having my picture taken. Ever.

I also finished a second Spiralucious exactly like the one I gave Chris last fall. Another one, just like the other one. Well, two rows short of the last full pattern repeat before I started the edging because I would have run out of yarn otherwise.

Here’s what the other one looked like:

Ok, sorry, bad joke that no one got except for me. That’s the same one photographed twice. But really, it is exactly what the other one looked like.

Later, dudes.

A drumroll please

February 8, 2011

I used the random.org sequence generator to come up with a table of numbers. Here is the top row:
24 7 58 20 59 8 66 1 60 36

That makes our prize winners:
#24, Anna who is currently working on socks and the Autumn Cardigan. Anna wins Cowlgirls.
#7, Deb, who is knitting baby blankets. Deb wins The Yarn Gallery Aster skein.
#58, Knitwork, who is working on a pullover for her husband. Knitwork will choose one skein of Wollmeise from these three color choices: Saami (variegated primary colors), ein klien wenig verrucht (almost solid deep purple) or Sabrina (almost solid emerald green).

I sure hope one of these three strikes Knitwork’s fancy!

The colors on the Saami and the ein klein wenig verrucht are pretty true (at least on my monitor). The Sabrina is much less of a teal color and more emerald. Both the purple and green skeins have much more depth in person than appears on the monitor.

Winners, please check your email and let me know where to send your prize.

Thanks to everyone for your fantastic support of my fingerless mitts. I will be posting the pattern next week or the week after. I will also send it off to JBW. It won’t be thoroughly test knitted. Sorry about that. I got distracted. You know, shiny things.

I got the prize from JBW in the mail yesterday: 3 skeins of Koigu. Unfortunately, the color chosen for me was P806: brilliant pink and bright purple. Koigu is dyed on a wonderful yarn base that is pleasant to knit with and feels very nice. However, the bilious bubblegum pink and purple in this colorway doesn’t do a thing for me. I was shocked when I opened the package — to my way of thinking, this yarn is nothing but ugly. Butt ugly.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I mean really, I am pleased to have won. JBW sent me yarn. How cool is that? If I was seven years old and into frilly girl things, this color would probably be perfect. It’s just that, well, I’m a little past seven and I’m over my neon pink phase. Totally.

If I would have seen this color to begin with I wouldn’t have even bothered to submit an idea for a design in the JBW contest, and, quite frankly, I’m not sure anyone else would have either. Quite a letdown.

Maybe someone out there will want to trade or buy or use it or . . . any ideas? Or am I just being overly optimistic?

Sheep and goats

February 2, 2011

If you want to enter the contest you need to click here. Only comments on that post will be considered as entries into the contest.

As an aside. I find it interesting to look at the ratio of blog views vs. contest entries. Something on the order of 75 percent of the people who have looked at the contest blog post have chosen not to enter. Curious. Are the prizes that lame?

Meanwhile, the blog goes on.

An interesting thing happens late winter around our house every year. Interesting to me and very, very, very interesting to the horses. The neighbor brings his sheep home for a few weeks to clean off his alfalfa fields. The fields are right across from the house. This is sort of the same view that the horses have. I don’t actually know if a horse sees in color like we do; but, this is what I see when I look out from their coral anyway.

Jet, the borrowed horse, who keeps my horse company, was so twitterpated by the whole thing he didn’t eat hardly anything for the first three or four days the sheep were around. He got over it. He’s eating again and acting very nonchalant and cool in the way that horses act when they really don’t feel all that nonchalant and cool inside. I’m pretty sure he would just about crawl inside out getting back into the coral if suddenly found himself on the other side of the fence with the woolly monsters.

This is pretty much the view we see from our living room.

As an aside, having the sheep around doesn’t stop me from eating at all. But, you probably knew that.

After a week or so, the sheep start to run out of food and they get interested in finding greener (the term is relative this time of year) pastures. This is when we must be very careful to keep the gate to our property closed. One year, they came in to eat our yard. The sheep were cool. They munched on the grass and walked around looking woolly.

The few dozen goats that hang with the sheep were not so cool. They ate all the shoots off a little ponderosa pine I have been coddling along. They wanted to eat all the lilacs I planted. It took a while to get them all shooed away. The pine tree finally recovered after three or four years; now, we are very careful during this time of year about keeping the gate closed.

Back to the story. Late one afternoon, I was watching the flock eat when I noticed that a few sheep were getting pretty interested in something happening on our side of the road. Some were looking south and across the road, the others were looking at the ones who were looking. Sheep are like that. If one does something, they all join in. I went outside to check it out.

Leave it to the goats. They discovered a spot where the ground dipped and the fence didn’t. You can see the goats in the background in a little group huddled together — apparently pleased with themselves that they started a movement.

The closest sheep realized what was going on and went berserk trying to get through the fence into the alfalfa field that surrounds our house. I was shocked how loud the munching was. Really loud. I guess the ones on the other side of the fence could hear it too because they were pushing and shoving like nobody’s business. I had no idea sheep could be so rude.

I didn’t see what harm it would cause, but the shepherd came running. Of course, it’s not our field and I presume that the guy who owns the field might feel differently than me. So, probably a good thing the shepherd came running.

And just because, here are a couple of gratuitous sheep shots.

A huge thank you

January 31, 2011

for all the support everyone has given me through comments and votes on the fingerless mitts. I did indeed win the JBW contest. I’m very excited about that. I will be writing up the pattern and it will be available sometime soon.

I’ve been meaning to hold a blog contest for a while; but, it seems clear that now is the time to go forward with that as a way of thanking everyone. There are three prizes. You don’t have to do anything special to win — except comment. The winners will be randomly drawn from those who tell me via a comment on today’s post:

What are you knitting now?

And the prizes? First up, the book CowlGirls which I won in a contest on the Classic Elite blog. Here’s a photo of the cover. Cool book. Just not things I would wear, so I will pass it along into the blogiverse.

Second. A skein of yarn dyed by the amazing Kim of Cat Mountain Fiber Arts. Kim has a store in Alamosa; but, I think she will be transitioning to more online sales in the future. She does attend a lot of the major fiber shows, especially ones in Colorado and New Mexico. She had a booth at Sock Summit last year, has gone to Stitches, and is a regular at the Taos Wool Show. Keep an eye out for her if you attend any shows: The Yarn Gallery or Cat Mountain Fiber Arts.

This particular skein is one of my favorites. It’s in the Aster colorway, which includes soft lilacs, yellow and sage greens, with a few other specks of color too. The skein is 100 grams/420 yards and is 63% superwash merino, 20% silk and 2% silver. It has a lovely sparkle to it! I LOVE this yarn. I am offering this particular skein as a way to help give Kim some publicity for the gorgeous dyeing she does. She’s very talented!

Cat Mountain Fiber Arts Aster colorway

fingering weight perfect for shawlettes, socks or scarves.

Third. A skein of Wollmeise. No picture yet. I have three skeins that I could stand to part with. I will allow the winner to decide which of the three suits her/his fancy. I’ll wait to post a picture in case the grab bag I bought last week arrives before the contest ends. Perhaps, there is a colorway there that I could throw into the mix.

So, again, thanks to all of you who offered kind words of support and who took the time to head over to JBW’s blogspot to vote for me. It was quite thrilling to have my design idea validated. Thanks!

Contest details: the drawing will be held on February 8. You must comment on this specific post to enter. I will ship to anywhere including overseas if that’s where the the winner(s) are. The winners will be selected via a random number generator. Only one entry per person, please. Can’t think of anything else. Hope that covers it.

It’s time to vote!

January 25, 2011

The voting is open at the Jimmy Beans Wool blog. I sure would appreciate your vote!

You can read more about the whole contest thing on my previous post, or at the JBW blog.

I’m curtain number 1. Thanks!

I started the second monkey mind tale

January 19, 2011

but then I got slammed with work. Hey, I’m not complaining; just been a little busy with three newsletters this month instead of the usual one. But, I’m on the downhill slide now, so all is good.

Interspersed between newsletters, I rather foolishly threw my name and design idea in the hat in a Koigu contest over at Jimmy Beans Wool. You can read about it here and here.

In a nutshell, the contest was set up like this: those who were interested, submitted design ideas for what they would make with little skeinlettes of Koigu. Bethany over at JBW notified those with the ideas they liked best and sent them the yarn. Yarn in hand, the designers either put together a design or actually knit it and send pictures over to JBW for the final judging.

On January 24th, the photos will be posted on the JBW blog and blog readers will vote for the best design. Then, the winner will receive three full skeins of Koigu. I’m hoping, that the winner gets to choose the color they like best. Seriously. This yarn can be a challenge to mate with the proper design because of the extreme variability of colors within a skein. It is gorgeous. Don’t get me wrong. And lovely to knit with too. But, challenging.

I was a second runner up as a finalist. When the first-chosen did not respond, I was in. Cool I thought. Then the yarn arrived. I received just over 100g in 14 different colorways. I had little hope of ever being able to coordinate all this highly variegated yarn into anything cohesive, much less follow through with the design idea I had submitted: fair isle wristlettes with a lace edge. It’s that lace edge that bit me.

The yarn went way further than I thought it would and I ended up with fingerless mitts. Close enough I think. I’m not too dissatisfied with the final result and really, it didn’t take all that much knitting time once I got started. So, this was my evening relaxation after crazy, long days of design and writing.

I guess they will post all the finished pics from the three contestants on the 24th of January. So, please, head on over and vote for me!

Here are several of the pictures of the finished mitts I sent over to them:

I got tagged

January 1, 2011

by Stephanie of Sunbeam Soapbox
fame. The tag:

Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen writers who’ve influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag at least fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what authors my friends choose.

What a wonderful way to start 2011. But before I get started on the “list” here is the backstory.

I am keeping the same New Year’s resolution that I had in 2010: Laugh More. I have a new resolution this year, or perhaps, I should more correctly call a mantra for life: Living in Bliss. The RNK has made a resolution to enjoy life more. (Apparently, we think somewhat alike in this regard.)

To kick our resolutions off in good style, both the RNK and I did a tarot card spread with our Thoth deck and the Angeles Arrien interpretation book we use.

My reading suggested the importance of communication in the upcoming year and emphasized a need to integrate my personal and work lives. I took this as encouragement to follow through with the “monkey mind” writing and to — dare I say it — an attempt to put all the stories together in some sort of book format. OK. Maybe that’s a multi-year plan. Maybe that’s just a wild interpretation of a card reading that I will really not fully understand until much later.

However, the task of thinking about writers who have inspired my life fits in well with the introspection suggested by the Tarot reading. So, without any delay, in somewhat of a chronological order, I offer my list:

1. Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon)
2. A.A. Milne
3. Beverly Cleary
4. Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden)
5. Walter Farley (The Black Stallion)
6. Gerald Durrell
7. Mark Twain
8. E. E. Cummings
9. don marquis
10. J. R. R. Tolkien
11. Carlos Castaneda
12. Edward Abbey
13. John McPhee
14. Sue Grafton
15. Elizabeth Zimmerman

They are not all “equal” in terms of influence; I probably left out some important influences. But, for a 15-minute list, these are the authors of books that made a deep impression on me.

In many regards, being a child of the late 70s, I think it would have been more interesting to list the 15 musicians/bands who have been most influential in my life (Sergei Prokofiev, Beethoven, Joni Mitchell, The Beetles, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Dylan, Carlos Santana, Stephen Stills, Greatful Dead, John Mayall, Jeff Beck, The Who, Weather Report, Frank Zappa and Laurie Anderson).

Or perhaps, as far as it goes to understanding me, it would be interesting if you knew the animals who have been most influential in my life (Emma, Fluffy, Lucy, Silver, Beamer, Spark, Teetles, Slim Bob, Louis, Betty, Prudence, Turtle, Buddy, Smoki, Jakob, Opal, Oscar, Ida Rose Parker, Jet and Tag–more than 15, but there you have it–that’s what been most influential in my life).

However, that wasn’t the game. Speaking of not playing the game, I’ll finish up with a list of 10, not 15, friends to tag for sharing their list of influential writers.

1. Stephanie.
2. Laurie Perry. Not a personal friend, but a blog author and writer who, from which, I would enjoy seeing a similar list.
3. Kimberly. Who doesn’t blog much now, but who has impeccable taste in books.
4. http://janes-miracle-box.blogspot.com/
5. needled. Who probably doesn’t even know I follow her blog, much less know that I find her recovery an inspiration.
6. resurrection fern. Again, not a personal friend, but a blogger who sees beauty where she looks in our world, and who, I am sure, would offer an inspiring list.
7. Emmy Lou.
8. Grace. Who is so grounded. I would LOVE to see what Grace sees as the important influences in her life!
9. Bev. Who, even though she lives a universe apart, loves all the same things I love. You can pretty much be guaranteed if Bev likes a yarn, pattern or book, I will like it too.
10. Yarn Harlot Because who wouldn’t want to know what her influences were?

That’s it for tonight! I hope 2011 brings each and every one of you the best of everything!!!!!

Did you see the eclipse?

December 21, 2010

I wanted to share something I read yesterday night, on a web page from NASA, the space people, about last night’s eclipse. I was waiting for the eclipse, knitting, and wondering how late, exactly, did I need to stay up.

So I googled, and found a page that gave the times and all that stuff. If you get a chance check it out. For NASA, it’s pretty poetic.

But what do I know. Maybe NASA is always poetic.

The part I liked best, explained why the moon turned that lovely pinky, orangey, red color: you’re seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once, all reflected in our planet’s shadow on the moon.

Later. I gotta take a nap.