Thursday, June 28, 2007

Terra Cotta

Jules picked up on one of the things I like about my new hand towel. Terra cotta is one of my least favorite colors (ask Mike if you don’t believe me - this condition has devastated him on many paint-buying expeditions), but somehow the fiber dyers found a hue they chose to call terra cotta that isn’t really terra cotta at all, in my opinion. It also isn’t quite as glowing a pink as the picture turned out.

T-Bone was feeling extra affectionate today, and when I picked her up and gave her a squeeze, I got a really good whiff. No wonder Eclair hisses and chases her out of the room whenever she’s around. B.O. It’s probably related to the-condition-to-date-eluding-veterinary-diagnoses, so I can’t do a thing about the cause, but I decided to do something about the effect: give T-Bone her first bath.

I did this without Mike’s help as he’s off at his folk’s house tonight getting their new computer set up. Had to. When he called his mom to let her know that it arrived, she accidentally disconnected her phone with her cheek because she was smiling so hard. “Good luck with that,” he said as he walked out the door.

All in all I think the process went process went remarkably well. I came away a bit damp, but not as damp as the cat. And neither one of us lost any blood.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

All Aboard the Tatting Idiot Train

Why is it that the closer I get to the finish line, the more mistakes I make? I won’t tell you the number of rings I have had to chop off because, consumed with confidence, I failed to verify which part of the pattern I should have been making. Let’s just say it was a pretty high percentage.

At any rate, the first motif is now complete, and it may look like cat yak, but it is cat yak firmly glued onto a bauble, so that’s progress.

And the third hand towel is coming along nicely. The terra cotta linen is much more supple than the pewter, so it feels nicer to knit up.

I finally got my flight info for my upcoming trip to Wisconsin. While it is still 1 1/2 weeks away, I just scheduled one of my hair dresser’s last available appointments before my departure. That was cutting it a bit close. And I got most of my hotel info. I don’t know why people want to put me up in “romantic getaways”. Don’t they know I need wi-fi and television? I need to stay connected! I caught that in time to get that fixed. Of course my request to be moved means some other poor schmuck on my trip is going to be pacing the floors of his inn looking in vain for a place to plug in his ethernet cable.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Outing my Epoch

I cast on this morning for the third and final Moss Grid Hand Towel - this time in terra cotta. Looking at my calendar and doing a rough calculation, I realized I will likely be done before I get on a plane again in early July. That sent my thoughts spinning, envisioning the moment I would stack the three folded towels, tie them up in a ribbon, and place them in my great-great-grandmother’s china hutch where they will stay until the move. Ahhhhh... Moving... I can’t wait.

That vision also sparked an old memory. Do you remember Woolco? A large discount department store like KMart? Well, I worked there in high school, saving up money to go to college. Worked in shoes. Glamorous.

Anyway, one day I noticed they were having a sale on towels, so I picked up a few along with some companion wash cloths. One of my fellow employees (and my age) saw what I was doing and exclaimed, “Oh, are you buying towels for your trousseau? Good idea!”


No, I assured her. I was buying towels to take to the university dorms that fall.


It is interesting that my purpose was to gather supplies for the long hard process of becoming an independent adult, and her instinctive response was that I was gathering supplies for the long hard process of marriage.

Do young pups today even know what a “trousseau” is?

And what’s even scarier, to me at any rate, is this wasn’t that long ago. Early days of the personal computer, yes, but there were such things as personal computers.

Now for the raves I promised you a few days ago.

Remember the Busan Fish Market Shawl that went on hiatus because I ran out of fiber? A fiber that I purchased from a shop that is no longer in business? A fiber that has been discontinued?? Well thanks to the magical thinking of Tina et. al. of Discontinued Yarns, look what showed up on my doorstep this morning:

Yep. Two skeins of a discontinued Cherry Tree Hill Sachet in the Wild Cherry colorway - fresh out of the dye vat.

Thank you, Tina!!!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Finished Object

The pewter version of the Mason-Dixon Moss Grid Hand Towel is done, done, done! As you may or may not recall, I had to increase the needle size of the previous version from 5 to 6 in order to meet gauge, but having done so there was no way possible to do the 12th required pattern repeat with the yarn that I had. As it was, leaving it off, I only had about 12" left.

This time I decided to ignore gauge and just went with a 5 and, as before, the exact fiber the pattern called for. Oh, sure, I had a bit more yarn left, but still not a sufficient about to do the 12th full pattern repeat. Perhaps if I had gone for a 4 or less I could have done it, but I also don’t want microscopic hand towels hanging in my new bathroom.

This morning has been all about Ravelry. I have gone through my project notebook page by page and added all my past projects. Ignoring the chemo hats I made for the Boston Children’s Hospital, and only counting the projects I made multiple times once, that makes 23 finished objects. So I probably have a lot of neighbors, then don’t I? That is, people who have completed or are working on the same designs? Uh, no.

Of all those FO’s, only six were ones shared by other Ravelry members: Moss Grid Hand Towel, Madder Socks, Red Rose cat Bed, Cupcake Beanie, 12:01 Felted Pumpkin, and Caftan Pullover. No one else enrolled in Ravelry has completed a snatchel... no other Day of the Dead dolls... go figure!! That means I have one pattern in common with fifteen members of Ravelry, and of those fifteen only one has a 2nd pattern in common. Those would be the madder socks and the 12:01 felted pumpkin...

And things aren’t looking up. I added a future project to my queue and had to create the pattern because it wasn’t already in the database.

Sigh. I guess this is the price one pays for livin’ on the edge...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tatting Follies

I completed the 2nd of 5 rings of my 2nd tatted motif, looked down, and realized that I had made a mistake. I should have had a join, but I had left it out.

Since I had already closed that ring, I had no other choice but to cut the project off the shuttle and start over. Yes, I could have cut off the offending ring and tied on a new one, but that would have taken more time than simply starting over.

But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t start the project over. I couldn’t work to perfect a project whose only purpose was to act as another rung in my tatting learning experience.

Having failed to do the easy pattern correctly, or have the patience to do it over, I did what was logical. I began the first of my ornament patterns, skipping all the other lesson patterns.

While not readily apparent in this photo, the off-white thread is combined with a gold thread to give it a little glitz. Since “paying attention” is of utmost importance, I have determined to break the pattern down into pieces, and only worry about two or three rings per day. As you can see in this photo, the picot on the side of one ring attaches to the top of another ring. It would be pretty easy to forget where I was in a pattern, and create one type of ring when I should have created another.

As I become more familiar with this pattern I may take on more rings in a day, but this is fine for now.

Yesterday I emailed off the final files for my latest ginormous work assignment, and to celebrate we went to Lawrence. Stops included a visit to my LYS for silk dyes and silk (upcoming quilting project), Borders, a stop at the computer repair store to pick up my IL’s computer carcass (RIP, dear computer), the greatest liquor store in Northeast Kansas for anyone who a) likes better beers and b) likes a bargain, and an early dinner at On the Border. As days go, it was a darn good one.

Oh, and my invitation to Ravelry arrived. As of now there are just over 3,000 members of Ravelry, and about 7,000 still on the waiting list. OUCH! I feel very, very fortunate. So far I am extremely impressed with the site, and I am curious to see if or how the site changes once it comes out of beta.

We managed to get back home in time to see the final episode of the Stargate series. Utter disappointment. The last few episodes have been the equivalent of meals created while cleaning out the icebox: no theme, no story arc, no continuity. Just lots of scattered ideas that were going to go to waste.

Oh, and the SG writers, directors and producers out there who pulled me up on Google Alerts? If you really wanted to create tension by making us wonder if the SG-1 team could possibly find a way out of their predicament alive, then I suggest not inserting an ad for the next season of Stargate Atlantis featuring a new cast member: Amanda Tapping. Just a thought.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Linen Longing

Longing to be done, that is. As nice as the linen is to work with, and as much as I look forward to the finished products, I am ready to be done with the moss grid hand towels.

Fortunately I rose extra-early this morning and got another pattern repeat done before 4:30 a.m. That makes 8 out of 12 done. Perhaps, perchance, I’ll be finished come Monday.

And what’s Monday, you ask? Why, according to the UPS tracking web site, that is the day that a box of wonderfulness is slated to arrive. I will make you wait to hear the specifics, but if I’m right, there will be much raving and praise about a particular store and a particular employee at said store.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tatted Motif #1

Sorry for the delay in posting. I’m absorbed in the final hours of another large work project, but I hope to be out from under it for the weekend.

But I have made a wee bit of progress. Here is my first motif:

Not bad, but I need to be less stingy with my starting thread end. Why? Because if I were making this for real, I would need to thread it on a needle and sew it into the tatting to hide the ends. That 2" stub ain’t going to do it.

And I have finished two more motifs on the knit linen hand towel. That means I’m slightly over 50% completed for both this particular towel, and the entire project.

Hunting moths is still a popular activity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Say Goodbye to the 80s.

Rolling back into town from Colorado, the humidity was palpable. The temps in Cortez may have been similar, but honey, Kansas is all about humidity. This results in a) zero desire to work outside, b) difficulty in breathing, and c) a reduced enthusiasm for work.

But I am about to look upon those first days back as the “good old days” as the extended forecast calls for highs in the 90s, so it is a given that from here until sometime in September it will be muggy, hot, and miserable. (When we do our major relocation, humidity level is one of the criteria, but that will be about four years down the road.)

This morning I finished my final edging lesson because I decided to skip edging #5 since it was identical to #3 but with no picots on the chain. The trickiest was #4 because that involved inverting the work between working the ring and its companion chain, but as you will see (left to right) I became much better as I progressed. By the 6th edging it was a breeze, and I’m even getting fairly adept at maintaining consistent picots as well as spaces between rings.

So now what? I answered my own question when I flipped forward in “The Complete Book of Tatting” and found a chapter devoted to motifs. There are twelve designs - with patterns given graphically - ranging from simple to complex. Motif #1 will be on my task list for Wednesday.

What is sad about all of this is once I have my Christmas decorations completed, I may never tat again. Because...(shhhh) I don’t care for the look of most tatting objects. Oh, sure. I’ve seen a few beautiful things, but they tend to be wide tatted mats for picture frames, or other pieces that would be unbelievably time-consuming that realistically I would never take them on.

I had dinner with my in-laws on Father’s Day and told my MIL that I was teaching myself to tat. She gave me a blank look and said “I thought you already knew how to do that.” Knowing for ten minutes in 1996 how to tat does not, in my opinion, equate to already knowing how to tat. “No,” I replied. “Didn’t you give me a basket with a tatted handle?” “No,” I frowned. “That was bobbin lace.”

Before you leap to her defense about confusing these two very different arts (similar to confusing knitting with crochet), let me remind you that I used to volunteer as a bobbin lace demonstrator at my local museum, and one of my pet peeves was people coming up to me, glancing at what I was doing, then turning to the person next to them stating proudly and expertly “She’s tatting.” As a pet peeve, and considering that my FIL had recently retired as director of said museum, I guarantee that I shared this annoyance with my MIL. (Note: this was only my 2nd biggest peeve. The first was being asked where the restroom was, ignoring the fact that the clearly labeled “INFORMATION DESK” was ten feet away, and the “RESTROOM” was only ten feet beyond that. I don’t volunteer for said museum anymore. It was for the best, really.)

Tatting: a form of knotted lace making that produces an airy fabric with ring and chain motifs, using one or two shuttles and/or a ball of thread.

Bobbin lace: a form of lace making that produces a woven fabric using a heavy pillow, ten to hundreds of bobbins, pins, and a paper pattern attached to the pillow through which the pins are inserted in a specific order to create the individual lace pattern.

These are not Webster’s worthy definitions, but I think you get the gist that bobbin lace making in no way resembles tatting. IN NO WAY.

In other news, I’m almost at the 50% mark with my 2nd moss grid hand towel. By this time tomorrow I should have reached that point and be heading for the finish line.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Magic of Tatting

After perusing all ten of my tatting manuals by various authors and created in different epochs, I have decided that a) tatting is remarkably easy, but b) remarkably difficult to explain.

The majority of all tatting designs (I’m including components within a design) are rings and picots created with a single shuttle. To create this, one wraps a circle of thread around the left fingers, and uses the shuttle to, in two separate motions, create a series of hitch knots. That’s all tatting is: a series of hitch knots and spaces between hitch knots. Now the trick is that while the shuttle is creating the hitch knot, and thus initially the knot halves are on the shuttle thread, by creating slack in the ring thread and at the same time creating tension in the shuttle thread, the hitch knot “jumps” to the ring thread.

The best illustration I have found explaining this phenomenon is on a handout published by Lacet Publications called “Learn Tatting with Lacet Publications. Mine was given compliments of its author, Rosemarie Peel, probably when I attended an IOLI Convention about half a century ago.

For a tatting lesson book, I am using “Tatting for the Beginner: Snowflakes, Crosses, and Edgings” by the late Nettie Lou Stafford Shipp. If you wish to the same, know that her instructions for tatting are, well, I have no wish to speak ill of the dead. Also, her instructions for creating the edgings (and I assume snowflakes—I haven’t gotten that far yet, though) leave out really crucial pieces of information. For example, the second edging calls for a three double stitches (a hitch knot, in other words), picot, one double stitch, picot for 4 picots, three double stitches, then close... etc. But to a picot is simply a gap left intentionally between hitch knots, that is then slid next to the preceding hitch knots, creating a bump of thread. So how do you create four picots in a row with no hitch knots in between? You don’t.

As best as I can surmise, what you have to do here is create three double stitches, leave a gap to create a picot, then make one double stitch, then leave a gap for another picot, make another double stitch, leave a gap for a picot, make another double stitch, leave a gap for a picot, then make three double stitches.

The instructions really assume that the reader, beginning or not, is gaining knowledge from another source. An elderly neighbor, perhaps, over a nice cuppa.

So far, and much cussing later (don’t worry, I came by my cussing honestly—I learned it at home) I have had moderate success creating edgings 1, 2 and 3. Each has had its fits and starts, but the important thing is that I learned at least one valuable lesson from each design. First and foremost, the tatter needs to pay attention! Because once that ring is closed it is virtually impossible to open up, and pattern book after pattern book recommends cutting off the offending ring. Also, it is vital to test at several points in the process of ring and chain creation that the double stitches will slide on the shuttle thread. If they don’t then the stitch didn’t transfer correctly, a hard knot was created, and the ring will never close.

Although I am using the “Tatting for the Beginner” book as a workbook, the edgings aren’t strictly arranged from simplest to most complicated. Yes, 1 and 2 are right where they should be, but looking ahead to 5, that appears much simpler than the 3 that I have already created. So I would have gone 1,2,5,3,4,6. As for the snowflakes, well, they all look pretty complicated to me, so I’m not the best judge at this point.

So far I have learned to create a series of rings, create picots (though with irregular heights), join, and create chains by using both a shuttle and a ball. Edgings 4 and 5 are variants of the rings and chain edging as done with 3, and I should easily be able to tat a few inches of those no matter how hectic my week becomes. 6, however, is a series of rings on top of basement and sub-basement rings. That will require some more thought, more cussing, and more time to execute. On the other hand, it is most closely related to the complexity of the medallions in my Christmas ornaments. I’ll call this two- to three-evenings worth of work, alone, so it will be next weekend before I need to make the next decision.

Because, this tatting book provides written instructions, whereas the magazine that published the ornament medallions uses illustrations. Like the difference in knitting between reading written instructions or a chart. So instead of diving into the medallions, I may switch it up and work on some of the edgings in “The Complete Book of Tatting” by Rebecca Jones, which uses illustrations to explain the stitch pattern. Or I may just want to spend some quality time dissecting her instruction.

I’m so indecisive.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Me gusta aprender muchas cosas

How many times and how many ways can a person learn and then forget a second language? For me, it’s a weighty number. But let’s put the past aside for a minute, because I have found yet another way to learn Spanish: The Coffee Break Spanish Podcast.

I started subscribing to these last fall when I was hand quilting my shield quilt. I managed to listen to oh, maybe two, before setting it aside. But determined as I am, I began listening to them in earnest on the road to Mesa Verde and back. Once I got over the jarring and slightly ironic nature of learning Spanish (again) but this time from two people with a thick Scottish brogue, and teaching the Spanish Spanish, rather than Latin American that I grew up with and an now surrounded by, I realized it was a darn good way to get a refresher. Gotta admit to you, though (Hola, Mark y Kara) that this aspect of learning did provide a few minutes of hilarity at a group dinner on that trip. “Scottish? Why Scottish?” “Because people in Scotland need to learn Spanish too?” “Oh, right. Of course.” And it led up beautifully to the retelling of the story of the man in Michigan who accidentally got his wheelchair hooked up in the front grill of a semi who got had (clueless about his passenger) gotten on the highway and gotten up to pretty good speed and miles down the road before police pulled him over and alerted him to the situation. The man in the wheelchair is fine, by the way. And more importantly I was very entertaining dinner company for a change.

Now that I’ve listened to all the beginner podcasts that exist, it is time to delve into intermediate podcasts and dig out my old workbooks. Someday, someway, I will become comfortable enough with the language to get hooked on daytime Univision.

With that going so well, I am reflecting on other projects in my to-do pile. The worst offender is the set of clear plastic ornaments on which I am to glue tatted medallions of my own making. I’ve had these ornaments for probably fifteen years now and they are currently residing in a large sack behind my TV chair. I’ve been taught to tat. I’ve got several shuttles including handmade one of sterling silver and another that holds two bobbins. I understand the theory of tatting. Last year I hauled out the ornaments and determined that I would have the set made in time to dress the next year’s Christmas tree. So how many have I finished. Zero. Zippo. Zed, for all you Canadians out there. When I hauled out the instructions a few months ago I got greedy and ended up making one ring with practice thread, then attempting to make the medallion using a cotton thread along with a metallic carry-along as though knowing how to make one ring qualifies one to do this. Well, it doesn’t, and it failed miserably. But in the wake of the Spanish success, I am applying the same patience to my tatting. Each day I will make 6" of one edging in a beginning book. By the 7th edging or so, the book advances to medallions, and I will make one or two of those before I entertain the idea of pulling out the real project pattern and real thread.

Patience, is a virtue, after all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I hate telemarketers

I got a call today from a woman who identified herself as an employee of PHONE COMPANY A. She said she was following up a letter that they had mailed to me the previous month about the fact that PHONE COMPANY A had lost its contract with PHONE COMPANY B and it would result in my receiving two separate phone bills rather than one. But as a business customer, she could arrange for me to continue to receive my bills on one...

I cut her off.

I haven’t received any such letter. You may or may not be who you say you are, I said, but I have been scammed before, and I will not make any changes on my account unless I get something in writing.

Well, she said, we did mail you something last month. That’s why I’m calling.

I don’t believe you, I said, and hung up.

The phone rang immediately. Is this the woman from PHONE COMPANY A, I asked?

Yes, and you’ll believe me when I disconnect your phone, she said.

Here’s the thing. PHONE COMPANY A has never had a contract with PHONE COMPANY B. Also, I don’t pay for long distance phone service through PHONE COMPANY A. I receive long distance through PHONE COMPANY B, and I have always received two separate bills. That’s the way I like it.

So, she was definitely a scammer. The question is, is she a scammer that works for a PHONE COMPANY A, or a scammer working for PHONE COMPANY B? It could be either, and thus I will not divulge the specific companies involved. But you might think, why subscribe to phone service through either of these companies if they hire or subcontract scammers?

The time I was successfully scammed it was when I had my long distance with PHONE COMPANY C. Yes, C. And it was a scammer from PHONE COMPANY C that changed my plan with their company to one with worse rates using a false premise. She had a good line, that one. Took me almost a year to get it straightened out and involved numerous correspondence with PHONE COMPANY C and the FCC. Afterward I was so thoroughly disgusted by PHONE COMPANY C that I switched to PHONE COMPANY B.

Do I blame the phone companies? Not directly. I in no way believe that these scammers are employees of these companies. However, I believe that these phone companies subcontract out for sales, and I blame the phone companies for not policing these subcontractors nor creating consequences for scamming behavior.

And what do I think of the telemarketer’s threat? Nothing, because she confirmed my suspicions. Idiot.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What’s that glowing orb in the sky?

It’s the sun! Finally!! So here are some slightly better pics of the bugle beads I purchased in Cortez:

In other news, I hauled the Busan Fish Market Shawl with me to work on in the car, and got just far enough along to know there was no way in h-e-double toothpicks I was going to have enough fiber. Aaaaagh!

So where do I turn? The shop where I bought the fiber?

No. It is out of business. But I found the sack and dug out a tag. The fiber appears to be Cherry Tree Hill Sashet in the Wild Cherry colorway. So I called Cherry Tree Hill to find a nearby retail outlet.

Um... that fiber has been discontinued. DIS-CONTINUED!!!

They gave me the name and number of an outlet that specializes in discontinued yarns and assured me that they had thousands. So I gave them a call. Well, the employee is new and the warehouse still needs sorting. I’ll hear tomorrow if they have found that colorway or not. If not? I have some other options, but they aren’t ideal, so fingers crossed, okay?

In non-knitting news, we seem to be experiencing a moth plague. I never knew such things existed, and maybe that’s not the proper scientific term for this phenomenon, but at dusk the air is filled with hundreds of juicy moths who find refuge in our doorways and make entering and exiting the house somewhat exciting. As a knitter you would think I would be freaking out, but I have heard that these moths are not the ones that wreak havoc with wool. More importantly I am a cat owner, and I look upon the occasional entry of a moth into our home as an enrichment opportunity for our cats. They become completely focused on their prey, and all the minor jealousies that occur the rest of the time are put aside to cooperate in the hunt. After a full night of hunting, the cats are sacked out for a full day. Ah, exercise for them and peace for me. Priceless!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Jules brought up an excellent point. I do need a vacation when I get back from trips, but the reason is the trips aren’t vacation. They’re work!

Yes, I get to travel to some fascinating places, and I get to eat food prepared by some of the finest chefs in the world, but it is work nonetheless.

Imagine for a moment that you love art. Perhaps you do. And imagine for a moment that you get to attend an after-hours tour of the Louvre with a private guide, so you see art that most people never have a chance to see due to crowds and tight time constraints. That would be a dream vacation, right?

Now imagine that you get to attend this same after-hours tour, but it is required for a university-level course. You will be tested later, and it will count for half your grade. Oh, and get this. There isn’t time to test you immediately because for the five days afterward you will be continuing to see museums, relics, ancient architecture, and breathtaking vistas that you will also be tested on separately. Talk about pressure!

In the case of travel writing, there are many types of stories that can be told, and the type of story a writer chooses depends on both their interests and the market. A travel article in a regional newspaper is quite different in scope than an article about the same location in, say, AARP’s magazine.

So, as I’m touring Mesa Verde beside people who are vacationing, I’m working on my story. Is there a special angle? Something new or timely that will help to sell this story to that editor right now? Are there other articles I can spin off of it? Something special about the type of food that is prepared at the lodge, or the demographics of visitors or staff? Do I have all the contact information I’ll need to follow up later?

A few years ago we went to Greece with a group from my alumni association. It was a real vacation. Mike took photos of course, but I was there to soak up the scenery and relax. A gentleman in our group asked what I was going to write about the trip, and I said it wasn’t a working trip. I was finally going to take a real vacation. He responded, ah, but you should. I’m sure you would sell an article. I’m sure I could too. But this is a VA-CA-TION. You’re an accountant, right? You should ask a shopkeeper if they would like help with their books. I’m sure they’d love the help. Really!

Okay, I didn’t actually respond this way, but I thought it.

I haven’t forgotten about my promise to photograph the trading post bugle beads in sun, but there hasn’t been sun since we’ve been home.

My spinning class at the end of the month fell through because the class was full, and my oddball schedule won’t allow me to remain on the standby list for the June class (which is 1 week before I leave on my next trip - yes, I have another trip that just came up) and who the heck knows what my life will be like in August when the next one is scheduled. So I’m going to teach myself spinning off the internet. I’m sure a class would have been useful, but everybody’s first attempts are clumsy and mistake-filled whether they have a teacher or not.

My receipt for Gove City Yarns finally floated to the surface this morning. If you are traveling in western Kansas along I-70, it’s definitely worth a stop. They are open Monday-Friday from 10-5, Thursdays until 8, and Saturday from 10-2. Unfortunately they don’t have a web site so I can’t add them to my link list, but the owner will take mail orders.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Rest of the Trip

I’ve gotten a few hours of sleep under my belt, so before I spend the rest of the day counting down the last miles home, I’ll give you the highlights of the last part of the trip.

The day we visited Mesa Verde was the day I lost touch with civilization. We hiked around Hovenweep National Monument. Gorgeous and peaceful.

We visited the oldest trading post in the region where the old man who owned it sold mostly Spam and a few other grocery essentials. I noticed a set of haberdashery shelves in the corner that I was dying to dig through. I asked what was in there. He didn’t open a single drawer, but kind of touched the fronts and said, well, we have thread (which I could see through the clear drawers) and sisal belts (which I could also see through the drawers) and some shirt kits. Of course I was more interested in the drawers below that were less obvious, but we bought our Snickers Bars and a can of soda and left.

From there we had a picnic lunch at a winery and headed to Mesa Verde to walk the Spruce Tree House trail, then went to Cliff House. Sorry. Could not do it. I was a wee bit concerned my knees wouldn’t take the action well, so I stayed at the car, knit on my shawl, and listened to an episode of “This American Life” on my iPod. An hour later our group met up and went to a few more overlooks before heading to dinner and overnight at the lodge. Dinner was fabulous. The chef specializes in cuisine using local ingredients that the Ancestral Puebloans might have used, though in a new and modern way.

The next day was another full one. Loaded back up in the cars and headed this time for Ute Mountain Tribal Park where we spent the morning hiking down into the canyon to see and touch the cliff dwellings there. After a picnic lunch at the park we were escorted to several petroglyph sites, then raced back to town to check in and clean up before shopping downtown, dinner at Nero’s Italian Restaurant, and to watch the Indian Dancers at the Cortez Cultural Center. The small boy was funny. He was clearly just learning the steps and would stop to ask his older sister and mother directions for what he was supposed to do next.

Our last day was a short one. We visited the Lowry Pueblo and the Anasazi Heritage Center, said goodbye to the group, then hauled ass back to town to shop at the City Market and hit the road home.

It was a great trip. The only thing that put a damper on the trip was the pinon pine that was belching out fluorescent green clouds of pollen and made breathing - even with allergy medicine - a chore.

Of course, I totally forgot that it was International Knit in Public Day yesterday. I could have gotten a shot of me knitting at Lowry, but oh well. In fact I didn’t knit at all.

Somewhere on the highway home today I will pass my sisters who are heading to Colorado to go white water rafting.

In a few days I’ll try to take some photos of the beads in daylight so you can get a better idea of their beauty.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Stash Acquisition Update

It has been a crazy couple of days, like I said, and I am still too road weary to get into many details, but I hate to have more time pass without letting you know about the cool things I bought yesterday.

I stopped in the Quiltin Chicks Quilt Shop in Cortez and picked up a few items I didn’t know I needed until then. One is a monkey doll, a second is a pattern for a messenger bag, and a third was 1/2 a yard of a funny fabric with costumed pigs all over it.

From there we hiked down to a trading post - Notah Dinah - and kept being drawn back to one particular counter with some of the most beautiful colors of bugle beads I have ever seen. So I bought. See?

We are on our way home, but before we left Cortez we stopped in the City Market and bought a few essentials like a 10-lb burlap bag of pinto beans. and a bag of spinach and artichoke potato chips. I could have also bought a 40-lb sack of bluebird flour, but I opted against that. Essentials only, please.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Warning: Stash Acquisition Post Awaits

I have been busy the last couple of days, and in non-wi-fi land, and the two things together mean no proper post for a few more days. But I will tell you this: I have managed to purchase some wonderful crafty items, and I’ve been to many interesting places. More details will have to wait until at least tomorrow night (when I’m in Colorado Springs) or maybe the next (when I’m home).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Day 1

We began the day with a stop at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison during some of the windiest conditions possible, and then headed south. Mike stopped for gas at one point. I dove out of the car and said I’d be a few doors down, because I had spotted a yarn store in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately for my pocketbook it was closed. I could have called a phone number taped to the door to have someone meet me, but it was for the best, really. Lunch at Steamworks in Durango, and we arrived at our motel in late afternoon.

The motel is clean; the motel has atmosphere; the motel managers are wonderful with German accents and two Great Danes; the motel has no in-room coffee, clock, shampoo, or box of tissues. Not a place I would want to stay for an extended period, but certainly good enough for a few short overnight hours. And they do have wireless internet, so that’s good.

Last night our one and only activity was a stagecoach ride (I rode on top) a few miles outside of town that culminated in a wonderful steak dinner with real mashed potatoes and peach cobbler for dessert. I passed on the dessert there to have dessert back at the room: a growler of Lizard Head Red that we’d bought at Steamworks a few hours before.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Acquisition Let-Down

We left the hotel this morning about around 0800 hours, thoroughly giggling to ourselves because we had spotted this:

along with numerous other marks on the walls on the 2nd floor of the Hampton Inn in Colorado Springs. We asked the desk clerk about it. Seems the guy who they hired to prep the walls for the paper hanger had used a felt marker to leave his notes. This was last October. About a month ago the hotel staff reported that someone had marked all over the walls. It took that long for the marker to bleed through the vinyl. Now the only fix is to remove the wall coverings, paint over the marker with Kilz, and rehang the vinyl. They are looking for the guy who did it - know exactly who it is, and are tracking him down.

I had one store that I wanted to visit in Colorado Springs. This was the Needleworks by Holly Berry store. Of course their lame-o web site doesn’t list basic items such as hours, so when it came to be a decent hour of the a.m. I gave the shop a call thinking that their answering machine at least would have hours. No answering machine.

We started off by a visit to Manitou Springs, which to Mike was really a walk down memory lane. He remembered wasting an entire week in the arcade there. I’m sure I didn’t. That would have meant being given $$ to burn by my parents, and we simply weren’t that kind of people. Google listed the Ruxton Avenue Fibers store as a yarn store in Manitou, so with address in hand we searched it out. Empty storefront. Most of the other stores in Manitou were closed. they either didn’t list their hours on the door at all, or if they did, it was too hippy-dippy a place to actually be at the store to open at their listed hour. We did discover that there are not one but TWO more “Walter the Farting Dog” books out, so we’ll need to find them at stores that are ACTUALLY OPEN.

At that point we went back into Colorado Springs to look up Holly Berry. Gotta say, I was very disappointed. They have multiple aspects of their business. They have a collectibles store next door, then the main store has one room of knitting supplies, one room of rubber stamp supplies, and a third room with a mish-mash of embroidery/tatting/needlepoint/and rug hooking supplies. That was the room I had sought out. I had seen on their extremely basic website that they sell tatting and bobbin lace supplies. That is highly unusual, so I wanted to see what they had. Not that I’m shopping or anything. So after a spin through that room I asked an employee. Tatting? A small drawer with maybe two dozen balls of tatting thread in three colors. Bobbin lace? Uh, that apparently would be the small bags of blank English Midlands bobbins that didn’t yet have spangles attached, and didn’t include the spangle materials. In other words, useless. I asked about the other things. They had beautiful canvases for needlepoint and embroidery (one that was the size of a small pillow cost $150 and that was JUST FOR THE CANVAS - no supplies or anything), examples of felt work, rug hooking, a felted tea cozy with additions of silk ribbon embroidery and non-felted knitting. They had cool stuff. I asked about the rug hooking. How is this done? We have classes, was all she said. Do you have a book? The teacher supplies a printout for the class. Do you have the tools? You can get it at Michael’s for a good price.

Dude. I’m not from here. I can’t take your freaking class. But I would LOVE to learn how to hook rugs with wool strips. I could make something very cool for the new house. But no.
I think that the staff of Holly Berry is under trained and the store itself is lame. Sorry. Had high hopes, but there you are.

Still, I came away with a three small pattern books and a bad taste in my mouth. Good thing there was excellent food at the pub a few doors down. (I ordered ice water, thankyouverymuch)

I slept my way across the continental divide from possibly overdosing on allergy medicine. (I can’t recall if I took more this morning or not - if I did I shouldn’t have), refused to pay $23 per adult admission to see the Royal Gorge, and am now in Montrose ready to begin my press trip tomorrow later afternoon.
Acquisition Success

I made it! It was a helluva drive out here, but I’m finally in Colorado Springs, stop 1 for the coming week. Okay, Topeka to Colorado Springs isn’t that far, but when driving alone, it is quite a haul. No one to help look for radio stations or change the CD, no one to help read the map, no one to drive so I can use that time to knit... you get the idea.

I left Topeka around 7:15, and had pre-planned a leg stretch break at around noon at the conveniently located (albeit in the boondocks) Yarns & Antiques store in Gove, Kansas. They advertise in the classifieds section of Interweave Knits, proudly stating that they have the biggest yarn selection in western Kansas. You know what? They do. Their yarn selection rivals that of Yarn Barn in Lawrence, and they have items that I haven’t seen before like Fiesta. Want linen yarn? They have it? Llama? You bet. The widest color section of Cascade that I’ve ever seen? Uh-huh.

Frankly I’m not certain how the store supports itself, but it seems to do a pretty good business. The town has a population of 80, and most of the local folk, particularly of “an age,” come to the store to buy their wide range of acrylics that they also carry. Yep, they sell TLC and Noro Silk Garden. I almost got run off the road by a lady also on her way to the yarn store, desperately seeking variegated acrylic for a crocheted afghan she was starting, because the local WalMart doesn’t carry many variegated yarns, apparently. (I thought that was all that WalMart carried - at least that’s the way it seems in Topeka) She doesn’t have a web site, but she does a pretty good business selling by mail.

So what did I buy?

Buttons. A mixed bag of silver metal buttons, four carved bone buttons, and a rhinestone button from a factory that closed in Europe. Looking ahead to my spinning lessons, I bought 4 oz of roving from a sheep named “Lickerice,” and I also bought the Yarn Requirements pamphlet by Ann Budd They shop owner was really trying to get me to come back for lessons, but 5 hours is a bit of a drive when I have lessons 30 minutes away.

By the time I pulled into Colorado Springs at 4:30 MT, I had a pounding headache (probably from not eating lunch) and was ready to call it a day.

I tell you what, when I was home listening to podcasts I was a bit cranky about Lime & Violet putting out 1 hour and 20 minute shows, but it certainly helped make the time pass quickly in the car.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Fast Forward

While I’m not preparing to start a new project (tam-deux, the Busan fishmarket shawl, and the next two linen hand towels are all the “on the needles” I need right now), I do need to find a pattern.

Remember the wool I bought in Virginia a few weeks ago? I want it to become a cardigan, but a) I don’t have enough of it for a full sweater and b) I don’t have a pattern. Since I will have several opportunities in the next few days to buy more wool, I need to find a pattern now to know how much. Easier said than done.

I have a pretty good library of knit patterns ranging from 2007 releases all the way back to the ’30s. You’d think I’d have plenty to choose from, right? Nope. Here’s what I have discovered: cardigan patterns from the earliest periods, say ’30s to early ’50s, tend to be knit with sock weight yarn. We’re talking size 1-3 needles. When we hit the late ’60s, the cardigan patterns are made with heavier worsted or more likely bulky-weight yarn. What do I have? DK, of course. This is the same problem I faced when searching for an existing pattern for the Chilean Dreams Scarf Set. That yarn is DK as well, but I could only find scarf patterns in worsted or bulky.

I finally chose a design out of the Bear Brand Hand-Knit Cardigans booklet (1957) that boasted “every size, every weight, every style.” Now that I’ve decided on it, I have to do some research. It calls for Bear Brand de Luxe Knitting Worsted. Yes, I know. Worsted. But since it calls for “Boye” Non-Inflammable Needles sizes 4 and 5, I’m going to place the project yarn squarely in DK-land. Now, how much do I need to buy? Easier said than done. Instead of stipulating the number of yards of this yarn, it gives the number of ounces. OUNCES. I mean, do they even make Bear Brands yarn anymore? Who the heck knows how many yards are IN an ounce of Bear Brand de Luxe Knitting Worsted? This is who. I love the internet, don’t you? According to this site there are approximately 270 yards in 4 oz. It gives a needle size of 8 or 9 for this yarn, but I'm going to ignore that and push forward.

Next I need to add ease to the size, because patterns of this era are meant to be worn very tight.

And lastly I need to make a decision about which parts to knit in the Virginia wool, and which parts to knit in the as-yet-unpurchased wool. I know from my LYS that the back of a sweater comprises roughly 1/3rd of the yarn, the front 1/3rd, and the sleeves the final 1/3rd.

Time to make friends with my calculator. But later. Got a lot to accomplish if I’m going to hit the road tomorrow morning.

My mother-in-law called yesterday. She’s very concerned that I’m lonely (I’m not) and she wants me to drive Colorado in two days instead of one. Colorado. The next state west of me. Let’s say I did that, I would get to the first hotel way too early to check in. Sheez. And believe you me, there is no hotel in Kansas worth hanging around in for no reason. Yes, I’m talking about “the nice ones”, too.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Finished Object (Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss It)

I finished round 1 of the tam. I say “round one” because it is destined to be frogged.

What worked:
I like the basic design with the non-cable cables. They have the organic look that I wanted.

What didn’t:
The hat is too big. I need to take about 1/2 - 1" off the diameter, and about 1" off the side. In addition, the last 1" or so of reduction on the top should have been without plain knit rounds as it resulted in a pointy top.

Sounds sad, doesn’t it? But I knew from the beginning that I might get to this point and discover that I had had a misstep or two along the way. Live and learn.

Frogging will have to wait until I return from Colorado.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Crappy Jeans

I hate shopping for jeans. I have for the past fifteen years or so since designers, manufacturers and buyers have chosen to make some very bad decisions with regard to their products. But there comes a time when a gal must buck it up and go shopping, and that’s what I did today.

I had taken a preliminary lay of the land a few days ago looking for jeans for Mike. My starting point had been Dillard’s, but I had forgotten just how ugly much of the women’s clothes are. I strolled and stared, realizing that they only place certain shirts or dresses might look appropriate would be in a Vegas casino. With that much ugly in my head I had to abandon the search.

Today I returned, this time heading straight for Macy’s. I knew what I wanted, and asked the first clerk in a region of the store that looked semi-appropriate. I told her what I did not want: flaps on the back pockets, embroidery, studs or anything similarly bedazzled, or anything with manufacturer-inflicted wear and tear, and I did not want stretch jeans because...

This she finished for me: because they fall off.

Yes! So what do you have?

She showed me one lone rack of jeans, and said that most of these were stretch, but we might find one or two pairs in my size that weren’t. She found two. I went to the changing room, unfolded them, and spotted the “stretch” tag right under the price of $44.

That was the end of shopping at Macy’s.

So I left there and headed a mile down the road to one of those farm and home type stores (that I shall not name). I’ve never shopped for jeans there, but I figured that people shopped there because they had practical needs like mucking out stalls, so surely this group would understand the need to stock jeans that will stay up.

And they do. I found not one but three pairs of Lees in my size. Not only that, but there were $19 a pair. Sweet! If I’d been happy with seconds (for mucking stalls and such) I could have gotten a pair for $7, but I passed.

But even at $19 a pair, I wasn’t going to leave the store without trying them on. A clerk directed me to a single locked changing room draped with real cow hides. They fit beautifully, but I had spied something on the carpeted bench inside the changing room that did not belong. “Excuse me,” I said to the clerk, handing her back the key. “there is something on the bench in there that looks suspiciously like a turd.”

And so ends my afternoon searching for crappy jeans.