Tuesday, April 24, 2012

25 Hours to the tune of Jabberwocky

Twas late April and the apple buds
Did blossom and wave in the breeze;
All leafy were the maple trees
And the lilac bushes too.

Beware the coming storm, my girl!
The winds that blow, the rain that sleets!
Beware the falling temps and shun
The furious snow that meets.

She woke to whitish dawn, oh my:
Long time falling without a sound -
Until nine inches had mounted up
One tree was on the ground.

And with dawning wonder she stood.
The silence absolute - she heard -
Call NYSEG power outage line.
Report us off the grid.

One, two, three, more! repair crews out
Into the wind with hard hats on.
They roamed the roads for down-ed lines
And fixed the breaks in record time.

4000 plus without the net,
75 by Tuesday morn.
Of frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
We chortled, "It's back on!"

Twas late April and the apple buds
Did blossom and wave in the breeze;
All leafy were the maple trees
And the lilac bushes too.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Starflower Beret is Up

I love working with Knit Picks. They are responsive and honest.  When I send in a design I always get a yes or no in 3 weeks or less, as compared to 3-6 months for other pattern submission places.  Once they send me the yarn I am on my own time table to complete the sample.  The sooner I want it posted on their site the faster I get it done. However I always am editing and vetting the pattern during that sample making time so it goes slower than you might think. If I was blindly following the pattern (That possibility doesn't seem to be in my genes anyway.) the sample would get knit quite quickly but I look for places to clarify and for errors in the pattern which slows me down but makes for a better product.

Once the sample is done its snail mailed to Knit Picks and also the pattern is uploaded via computer.  I often take my own pictures but theirs are way better as they use a professional photog and models.  This again slows down the publishing time but makes for a better presentation.

The Starflower Beret was originally made in Sea Glass yarn which is a bit busy for the pattern.  You can't really see the beads all that well.  This is one of my photos (thanks to Chris for modeling) which was submitted for the pattern.

And here is one of KnitPicks' photos of the finished sample.
And a close up of the top

While I was working on this I had a brainstorm for doing it in 3 colors.  I tried, really I tried, to put the idea away but it wouldn't leave so I had me some photoshop fun making a virtual sample. 
Submitted and accepted within 2 weeks.  KP then sent me 3 wonderful purples to play with and here is the 3-color beret in process.
Neat fun and rather challenging to write but compelling at the same time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


My sister, Ellen, has always given me and anyone else extraordinary directions.  I have a whole file of them I use again and again.  Also Jim has a gps in his head so most of the time I don't miss that gadget folks are so crazy about. Oh and did I mention that because of where I live the darn things take people up seasonal roads to get here?  All these together have kept me from even thinking of getting a gps.

On the last day in Rhode Island, Ellen and I were invited to Lynn's farm in central western RI, west of West Warwick to deliver some hand dyed fiber and to see and touch her new Golden Gigi spinning wheel.  I did want to meet Lynn since we had only spoken on the phone but the Gigi tipped the scales so we made some time to get there.

The night before Ellen got out her maps and wrote down her instructions.  That day we got onto 295 north looking for an exit that would take us to 12.  When we were approaching Smithfield I said, "ummmm I think we are too far north.  We are nearing Mass. now, right?"  My sister has lived in RI for over 40 years so she does know her way around that state but this was the 'wild's of  RI so less known to her.

We got off and on and started south thinking we might have missed the exit as we were talking.  But we still did not see anything for 12.  Eventually we pulled to the side and took out a RI map, found 12, found where we thought we were, exited and drove toward 12 on a smaller road.  Finally we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts, thinking we needed the bathroom, some tea/coffee and maybe some personal directions.  No one working there had any idea where rt 12 was!  uh oh

So we get back into her car and Ellen opens her Android to see if it can locate us.  Sure enough it knew exactly where we were even if we didn't.  Now the fun began as we were both gps neophytes.

We pushed buttons and pushed buttons and back buttons and other buttons until we found a google app that seemed to know what to do.  It told us to turn around and go in the other direction.  Well, not it, a nasal sounding woman who turned out to be extremely patient with us.

We drove along with me holding the Android.  The last time a gps was in my car I nearly threw it out the window as it talked incessantly.  This woman only spoke when needed.  We started to like her.  She told us we were almost at the farm, then she told us we were past the farm and showed a picture of a field.  And I could see that field out the window.  !!!!!! We, well I, were mesmerized, while Ellen tried hard not to look and drive.  We got turned around and found the driveway.  WOW!!!  Impressed was us.

The visit with Lynn was delightful.  She lives in a restored farm house on their horse ranch.  She also grows her own hay so I took some back to upstate NY where Gummy and Keeper are now munching sweet tasty supple RI hay.

The Gigi was something else again.  It weighs 30 pounds, has 3 flyers and the wheel itself is weighted so once you get it going it just goes and goes.  This thing practically spins the fiber by itself.  I barely needed to treadle (similar to Jim's wheel) and when I stopped treadling it kept going on its own.  Oh my, oh my.
BTW I am told there is a 6 year waiting list for this treasure.

Lynn also showed us a jar of Copper dyeing solution she made from copper wire, ammonia and vinegar.   The water color was deep indigo.  And since no cooking is needed (as Cu is a mordant) I was intrigued. Right now I am looking for a large glass jar to make my own. Anyone have one of those industrial sized mayonnaise or pickle jars?

After we left Lynn's we headed back to a nursery we had passed to get some pansies.  Yes, I know it was only the first week of April, but all this warm weather had me wanting some color and pansies can take a bit of frost.  Back in the car we decided to test the Android gps by having it take us back to Newport.  Ellen knew how to get there so this was going to be easy to judge.  It took a bit of fumbling and button pushing for us to get the thing going again.  Yes, probably there was a simple way to do it but what did we know and we did not have a teenager handy.

The same woman was helping us.  We named her Mabel.  We discussed changing to a different helper but since she was so patient with us we didn't want to offend her by leaving her.  After all its not her fault she has a sinus problem.  She got us onto a route (I forget which I was so distracted) and then onto 295 heading in the right direction.  We were thrilled!  We loved that Mabel told us turn right 100 feet ahead, go for 3 miles and then the thing would show how many miles were left.  I recited these visuals to Ellen who really wanted to look at the screen but restrained herself.  We were hooting and laughing at ourselves and at our pleasure in finding this new toy.

On 295 I felt confident enough to press another button and wha la there was a 2d perspective image of us as a pulsing blue arrow with the road we were on and other crossing roads and another simpler arrow showing what direction we would be going.  Our road curved to the left and so did the picture. Our road straightened out and so did the picture. It was all we could do to drive and stay in lane what with our excitement at this discovery.  "Ellen, Ellen the blue arrow is moving.  It's US!  Now its showing water and the Jamestown Bridge."  When we got near a bridge the picture changed to water and land as our pulsing blue arrow slowly made its way across.  We were whooping and tearing and laughing so hard.

We had programmed the thing for Ellen's house but once in Newport decided to go to a restaurant instead.  Mabel was so patient with us, she kept redoing the directions trying to get us to turn left up the hill instead of right and flat.  Each time we passed the street she wanted us to turn on she would reorganize and tell us patiently about another turn we could make.  It was a big hoot and totally fun.

I don't know how anyone can actually drive safely with all this entertainment in front of them unless they have someone sitting next to them. Even then it would be hard. This app is addicting and fun and amazing.  Perhaps once one gets used to a gps it isn't such a distraction, but really, this is as bad as texting and not against any law.

I want me one.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Rhode Island Family Get Together

On the day before leaving for RI I realized that the next day, Wednesday, was the day to snatch Ravelry ads.  Most of my ads are now automatically renewed but the notebook and special forum banners have to be claimed each month.  And by that I mean, that there is a list of what day and what time each month the ads will open to be purchased for the following month.  Alas I left a little before 9am and the ads opened at 1pm.  I figured I'd be on the Mass Pike by then so hoped I didn't have to sit for half an hour in a rest area waiting.   As it turned out I got to the Lee rest stop at 12:50, enough time to leisurely set up my trusty Mac laptop and sign in.  At 1:02 already one third of the notebook ads were taken. I got mine and my special forum ad as well, grabbed an iced tea and continued on my way.

My ipod serves as an entertainment center while driving.  I can play music or listen to books.  For this trip I downloaded 4 just in case one or two were disappointing.  Listening to a good story keeps enough of my brain engaged that I don't ask myself every 10 minutes, "Are we nearly there yet?".  Also this was the first time I went to RI via Rt 88 to Albany and the Mass Pike.  In past times I always visited my mother in CT first but since she is now in RI a whole new route was experienced.

Google maps said the 380 mile trip would take 6.5 hours.  I stop to pee and get gas so it took me 7.5.  Not bad as the trip ends with my favorite Newport Bridge.

My sister and I caught up with each other Wednesday night.  She worked on Thursday while I worked on the On Fire sock and tried to read.  Usually my reading comes in snatches at lunch or before bed but here I had hours that I could read and read.  Very hard for me to have such unstructured time so it was a good exercise.  Oh and we took Maks, the miracle cat, for a 'walk'.  My sister explained that if I thought I was going to get exercise I should go by myself.   Cats don't go for walks like dogs.  Cats run a little, walk a little, smell a lot, back track, go under bushes, stop and eat grass for long periods of time, walk a bit, throw up, meander, eat more grass, try to go in people's back yards, shy at loud trucks and hide, run a bit, etc.   But Maks really loves his 'walks' as he no longer can be a street cat since he was hit by a car a couple of years ago.

Just about at dinner time Matt, Liz, Alicia and Andrew arrived from being tourists for a few whirlwind days in NYC.  They got to the city on Sunday and managed to see the Daily Show, Ghosts and Spiderman, plus visit 9/11, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Plaza and Macy's before they came up to RI on Thursday.

We went for dinner at a great Clam Shack, Flo's in Middletown on Aquidneck Island which is the island Newport is on.  Time with the Lents is always energetic, fun and funny.  We ate clam cakes, lobster, clams, salad and hot dogs while doing some catching up and hearing about their NY adventure. Andrew wanted a lobster, not lobster roll or salad but a real lobster to eat.  Flo's won't have them on their menu until later in the season and Andrew was adamant about not tasting lobster until he could crack one open.

Friday was the big day to visit my mother at Tamarisk, in Warwick.  My mother is often in a wheel chair these days so not very mobile but her aides and care are superior and the atmosphere and attitudes at Tamarisk are so positive my sister and I both say we would move in there tomorrow.  All meals are in the dining room with tablecloths and cloth napkins.  A waitstaff person recites the menu as many times as is needed and offers alternatives if you don't like what is offered.  Since Friday night was the first night of Passover things were a little different at lunch as they got ready for the first seder.  The silverware was plastic and so were the dishes which was a bit odd with the cloth napkins.  However the blintzes were homemade, the fruit salad fresh and the honeycake moist.  What's not to like.

My mother was so delighted with the visit she told everyone she saw, "These are my family from California and my daughter from NY."  Oh and she LOVED the sweater I made her as my Iknitarod Challenge.  She told me on Sunday that she had shown it to several people already. We stayed with her through the afternoon until the grands were too antsy to sit still any longer.

To help Andrew with his quest we went to dinner at the Lobster Pot in Bristol. Bristol has the longest running consecutive Fourth of July parade and celebrates that year round with a red, white and blue stripe down the center of their main street.

Liz doesn't eat anything from the sea or water but she is easy about anyone else eating fish, etc and Matt loves fish so the kids like it too.  Andrew ordered a lobster and we patiently waited for him to be served the reddened creature. Our waiter joined in by tying on his lobster bib.

Then Matt showed him how to crack and pick.
Alas lobster turned out to be very disappointing for Andrew so he ordered a hamburger and was happy again.  Poor Matt had to eat not only his own oysters but Andrew's lobster as well.  

Saturday morning we all went out for breakfast together, 

then for a drive along the shore to show them the mansions from afar.  After breakfast it was time for the Lent's to start back home so they went off to the airport while Ellen and I went to deliver some fiber to a spinner in Hope, RI (more about that another day).

My favorite picture from the weekend.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Heading East

I have spent part of the last 3 days getting myself prepped to go to Rhode Island for 5 days.  My son, DIL and two grands will be converging with my sister, myself and my mother in that tiny state.  My son and his family live in CA but are currently doing the tourist thing in NYC.   They are having a blast.  They've already been to the Daily Show, the MASH museum and the 911 memorial.

Youngest grand looking out his hotel window for the morning hot dog vendor. 

I have been hemming and hawing over what knitting to bring with me.  I have 3 skeins for Jim's hand spun vest.  Well half a skein is now the bottom 2 inches of that vest.  Then the Aflame Sock needs to get finished.   However it is very difficult to go so far for 5 days with only 2 items to knit.  What if I finished them or a needle broke or I run out of yarn?  sigh   I discussed this with a laughing Jim.  I do realize that I will get no, nada, zilch knitting done on the 7-8 hour drive in either direction (that's a lot of missed knitting time - sigh) as I am the driver and just can't figure out a way to knit and drive safely. Whatever happened to that rail highway idea for cars?   Socks take me a minimum of 2 weeks.  Jim's vest might go fast or not as Jim is large.  OK so even if I wasn't socializing with my family, if I had 3 hours per day I probably wouldn't get it done.  2 projects should do it.

This morning a UFO  I was designing several years ago was refound lingering under the table in the UFO pile.  Sheesh, now why did I give that up?  Oh yea, the gauge is wrong.  Well that can easily be fixed.  So before I knew it the too big part was frogged, the partial pattern revised and it all got stuffed into my carry bag.  Now I feel better.

And who knows.  Last time I went to RI this shawl was the result.