Signs of Life – one step at a time

Today at Casa del Pox I had more than a couple of delightful things happen.

First, the squawking of the birds that have been hanging out in my eaves had a new noise — very high pitched squeeks.  The eggs have hatched, and we have new little ones on the balcony.  This will make the kitties forays onto the balcony more restricted – especially as the babies grow and need to learn to fly.  I’m a little concerned that this batch has been hatched this late – I hope they will be strong enough to go whereever these birds go when it is time.

Second, I had a visitor who crossed the death threshold.  My cousin Marie I guess is convinced that I have the chicken pox (she’s had it) and not some other crazy virus and brought me some home-cooked food, kitty food and litter, and leftover blueberry pancakes from the place she and my Mom went to lunch. All good.  And it was nice to actually talk to someone in person rather than on the phone.  Family rocks!

Third, I’m still tired, but this afternoon, I got a bit of my knitting mojo back – I’ve started the Candelabra Socks (rav link) by Chrissy Gardiner.  The yarn is Miss Babs Yummy in the Kiwi colorway.

Candelabra Sock1a

I decided to follow another knitter’s suggestion and use highlighters to mark the different cables and special stitches.  In this case, I copied the chart on my printer/scanner/copier with the zoom up to about 115%, and then hand-colored with highlighter pens. It really helps!

Candelabra Chart

Fourth, I have to admit that probably one of the events that I was looking forward to most at Sock Summit was the Flash Mob.  I had learned the routine, done a practice with my friends, was planning impromptu teach ins upon request.  And all the looks of it – it turned out to be a great time.  Ah well, at least I got to see a YouTube video.  This one is fun because you can hear hizKnits laugh at the end!

and finally, a lovely reader in Germany has offered to procur me a skein of Wollmeise at the annual sale after reading about my cancelled trip to Sock Summit.  This is a lovely and amazing offer that I will definitely not turn down – and I will report when the goodie arrives to celebrate with everyone.  Thanks, Liesl!

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A Pox House Update

Things here at Casa del Pox are pretty boring.  Sleep, take more tylenol or ibuprofen, take benadryl, use cortisone cream. Listen to iPod.  Blood tests confirmed I never had the chicken pox, we are waiting to hear whether what I have is that.  Have you ever wondered by it is called “Chicken” pox?  Turns out it had nothing to do with chickens.

No knitting, I kid you not.  I am really tired and flu-like symptoms.  I did manage a bit of spinning:
Merino=Bamboob

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A Pox on my house? or why I won’t be at Sock Summit

The plans had been made, the tickets ordered, the hotel arranged.  A roommate appeared at the end – a friend, no less.  I was excited!

And it was not to be.  The FUO (fever of unexplained origin) started to explain itself.  Last night, I was relieved at the departure of the fever – I thought I was home free.  Then I noticed a few red bumps – looking up on the Google, I figured it was probably boils, which are handeable, and slept ok.  But in the morning, more bumps – not so usual for boils.  I got a doctor’s appointment at 12 noon, and upon seeing my face, neck and torso now covered in red bumps/rash, my physician left the room to find a colleague – the first time ever – not a good sign at all.

After having them both peruse my bumps, I realized that I have a virus (probably varicella, aka chicken pox, or something like it), which has now caused the rash.   A blood test will confirm.  But in the meantime, I realized that I am highly contagious, and can’t go out in public, and also still feel lousy and definitely look odd.

Sock summit is not happening for me.  Which pretty much stinks since this was going to be my first vacation in over a year.

As cancellations go, this isn’t costing me much.  I was grabbing a ride up with friends, and the motel reservation could be cancelled because my friend also had life issues intervene.  I’m selling a couple of classes, and gifting another, making someone very very happy which helps take the sting out of it.  I won’t be out much more than $100.

But still…sigh.

And yes, I never had chicken pox as a kid, and the vaccine didn’t come out until 1995.  I don’t know why any one of the number of physicians that I’ve had has never suggested that I get it.

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FUO

Can you believe that I have FUO – fever of an unexplained origin – it started just at the end of our coffee time yesterday at church – requiring me to cancel my flash mob dance practice for sock summit and crawl into bed like a small whimpering child.

This is horribly bad timing – I’m scheduled to head out to Sock Summit on Wednesday afternoon on a road trip with my buddies, I have some things to take care of before I leave, and even with tylenol and the like the fever is hovering higher than I’d like.

FUO — I have no other major symptoms – I’ve been having a slight rash on my neck, and a bit of arthritis pain in my hands. Hopefully this is just a bad bug that my body is fighting and it will all be over soon. Warning: don’t Google FUO or you will get the crap scared out of you – I know this from personal experience.

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Sock Summit Countdown Begins

I’m just back from a week of teaching other pastors some of what I know about transitional ministry.  The program is at Zephyr Point Conference Center right on Lake Tahoe – I forget ’til I get there how beautiful it all is.  We literally take sunset breaks each evening. This year, we had some lovely compliments about our education event, and one person told me that I am truly a teacher, which I think is fundamentally my identity – it’s no accident that I teach in three completely different environments (a church, a pool, and a yarn store).  I plan to ponder that more – how I can be living out that identity more and more.

Along the week, a pair of socks got completed:

For Eloise Socks

They will be contributed at the For Eloise Shower at Sock Summit.

I spun a little too (merino/bamboo dyed in indigo from Tactile Fibers):
Merino=Bamboo

I made a tiny bit of progress on Rachel’s sweater:

Cece1b

It’s probably a couple of hours of knitting away from completion – and since her birthday isn’t ’til mid-August, I’ve got some time to finish it.

But my real focus in coming back is Sock Summit.  I was totally envious of those who brought back the amazing reports of their experiences in 2009, and I might have noted that I wasn’t at Sock Summit, including working on a pair of socks.  This year, I’m going, and on a road trip with knitting friends that I don’t get to spend enough time with  — a lovely combination.  So the countdown begins with:

  • What projects to take?  I mean, you’ve got to be knitting at sock summit, so I want a couple of things that are small and portable. Oh, and a bit of spinning – but that’s already covered.
  • Clothing – it looks like the weather in Portland will be beautiful – yay!  An important sub-category is any knitwear that I might bring to wear.  My linen shells will be perfect for layers.
  • Meet-ups – I plan to make contact with some of my favorite podcasters, particularly Carin and Rick of The Knit Wits, and scan for the Knitterati at the event.
  • Practicing for the Super-Secret Flash Mob thing – tomorrow our little group will have another practice so we look good
  • Snacks – my room at the Motel 6 (!) has a fridge, and I usually try to do breakfast in the room because I’m not a good morning person and I don’t eat big breakfasts.
  • Camera – because there will be plenty of fun to share without revealing any super-secret things vendors want to keep private.
  • Non-Sock Summit planning – a trip to Powells, perhaps some beer experiences, and seeing the beauty of the place we’re going…

Then there’s getting into the Portland vibe – this video is helpful (via @knittydotcom):

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Kitty Inspection, Tour de Fleece Update

I’m happy to report that the prodigal cat, Brandy, is doing well and back to her fiber inspection duties.  She looked over my samples that I took to the Marin County Fair for a spinning demonstration on July 4th:

IMG_0286.JPG

There are no photos – but it was a lovely time.  My fiber enabler friend Judy brought her e-spinner and wheel, while I brought my spindles, and another knitter was there too – whose name I’ve forgotten.  Some of the folks we had fun with included;

  1. a little girl (about 4-5) who thought giving my spindle a thigh-roll to make yarn was absolutely a wonderful thing
  2. a woman who has been yearning to learn to spin, and got a bit of a chance to learn on my spindle
  3. the girl who felt the different kinds of wool and could tell the difference between soft and rough

It was delightful to show the young and old how this worked, and let them see us having fun.

Brandy has also been helping with my Cece cardigan:
Cece1a

Cece1d

This is a fun and easy pattern, and one that I may do again with a my own lace pattern as a modification.  The Rowan Calmer yarn is so light and stretchy – I’m sure my cousin Rachel will love this sweater.

I’ve also finished spinning the Tussah silk – about 120 yards of fingering weight singles:

spun unfinished silk1a

spun finished silk

I’m pretty busy ’til the end of the month, so I pretty much think that this might be it for me for Tour de Fleece…

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Zen and Prizes: a fair deal?

I knit because I want to.  Because I live in the 21st century in a highly developed country, and make a decent wage, I do not have to knit my clothes, or spin my own yarn because I have to.  It is a lovely hobby that brings wonderful garments that would be out of my price range otherwise.

When I decide to knit something, I’m never thinking about if I should enter it into the fair.  It doesn’t cross my mind.  Each year, when the fair booklet comes (and hey, Marin County Fair organizers – you could email it to me in a pdf, and I’d be fine with that), I start going through my project page on ravelry to figure out what might be “fair material.”  After all, I need to be able to get the item back (charity sweaters that have gone to Afghanistan are OUT), it has to be done well enough by knitter world standards, and I have to like how it turned out.

My first year of submitting items to the fair resulting in a bonanza of first places.  I was thrilled, since I’d never entered anything like this.  The next couple of years (here and here) were not filled with that first blush of success.  I started looking at the larger picture of the fair – like what was winning, and how things were displayed (sadly, treasured handspun items were on the floor!, or fine lace shawls used as tablecloths for other items).  My friend Judy and I did offer some critique on the displaying, and I’ve talked about the judging on the blog and on Ravelry.

As I walked into the fair this year, I already knew how things had turned out for me prize-wise. My friend Les sent me photos, I did well, and I of course will never turn down an award.  But I wasn’t in the same place as the first year.   I know that my award first of all depends on what other people enter too, and from that standpoint, the fair clearly has lost some folks who might have put in their items – I can think of amazing sweaters and shawls and handspun that could be in the Fair and totally clean up, but people don’t, because items haven’t been given respect.  This year, fortunately, the fair is starting to pay attention.  NO item was on the floor, lace shawls with prizes were displayed to effect, and some cute collections were made (a whole set of hats in a bookshelf unit were very cute together).

The second factor in any competition is the judging.  Last year, I was pretty harsh on the judging because it resulted in ugly and unwearable sweaters winning big.  This year, that was not the case.  The prize-winners were largely deserving — the women’s sweater was lovely, and shock – the men’s sweater that won would have given serious competition in my mind.

Now, my handspun traveling woman shawl not only won its category, it took a special award.  That was a shock to me.  You see, I knew someone putting in a handspun sweater (spun on a spindle!), and I figured I was competing for 2nd place.  I was wrong, see?

traveling Woman II MCF2011

And the lovely Twist sweater did place (4th place) which was pretty good considering that there were some really nice sweaters in that group:

twist

and even my last-minute decision to put in a scarf did okay:

scarf2

But I’m still in my zen place – my goal is to hopefully get a prize so that my registration fees get covered, which has happened every year so far.  And to the Marin knitters – I think it is safe to enter your items – I want to see the amazing stuff out there in the fair next year!

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Tour de Fleece: a modest goal

Last year, I really got excited about Tour de Fleece, but then I ordered my fleece fiber too late, my schedule got crazy, and the fiber got spun up much, much later.

This year, I wasn’t going to be fleecing, then I happened to get the spinning bug again, so I dove into my stash to look for something new to work on. For me, it’s Tussah silk, from A Verb for Keeping Warm, that I bought at least a year and a half ago.

It’s only an ounce, but it’s new to me to spin 100 percent silk, so I’m going to go with this.  I tried a 2-ply as a sample, and wasn’t that happy with it, other than it was beautiful fiber.  As I pondered what to do, I fortunately saw a Ravelry post by Abby Franquemont on spinning this fiber as a loosely spun single, and then really finishing (alternating hot/cold baths, lot’s of whacking)  it so it blooms.  I did a small test bit yesterday, and am thrilled with how it’s coming out:

Tussah Silk Sample

This may be all that I do  in the 10 days or so before my schedule is no longer mine, but I also have a couple of ounces of merino/bamboo that I got at the closing sale for Llama Llama Knit.

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Why fiber friends matter

I love my fiber friends.   For so many years of knitting, I was a “monastic” knitter and was pretty much on my own, except for books.  Since I got fiber friends, everything changed – I began to take more risks as a knitter, learned about all the online resources, found great support in trying times, and my stash grew exponentially.

Yesterday, as the Marin County Fair opened, not one, but two knitters called me to share their excitement at my results of items entered in the Fair.  Jillian called because she volunteers at the fair, and had seen some ribbons, and even offered me her extra pass into the fair.  Then Leslie called and even sent photos — and told me what I’d won – which is kinda cool to know walking in how things will turn out.  She even sent photos!

This year will be a good one with prizes for me personally, but I’ve learned to temper those celebrations – so much depends on what other folks entered, and the subjective point of view of the judges.  What I am most interested in seeing is whether this year’s judging actually takes into account whether the garments are wearable by the average person.

Here’s one of the photos – both the shawl (my original design) and the socks are mine.  Thanks, Les!

MCF2011shawlsocks

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