April 2007 Archives

One knit, Purl too


This entry has also been posted at the Create Along.

Knitting has nearly slowed to a screeching halt now that there's a new pup in the house, but what knitting there has been has been good.

I've worked up to where I'm starting some neckline shaping on Lily

The fit seems fine, though it's always hard to tell before the neckline is done.

I will probably work a simple 2 or 3 stitch i-cord edging for the hem and sleeves. I think that will be the least disruptive treatment and will be OK both on the busy sleeve and the simpler hem.

As for the new member of the family, I think we finally have a name that everyone can agree on. The name is now, Theano Purl, Thea for short.
Theano was believed to be the wife of Pythagoras, (he who brought us the calculation for determining the hypotenuse of a right triangle,) and likely continued his work and ran his school after his death. We wanted a name that gave a nod to the sciences but which was also a cute doggy name. We considered "Evo" short for "Evolution" and "Jane" for the one and only Ms. Goodall. Neither name really stood out as exceptional names for a dog. Theano, though, very cute. I got to keep Purl as her middle name too so she can be little Thea-Purl, if the mood strikes.

See a bunch of pictures of the two girls by clicking the photo above, or clicking here.

Much to Panda's chagrin


This phrase pretty much sums up the first 24 hours we've had with Purl.

Purl is a loving and eager little girl and she wants Panda to like her so so so much. It's really quite sweet. However, Panda is not convinced that this interloper deserves anything more than disdain. In fact, she has serious concerns about the fact that we have done nothing about the little girl; for instance, throwing her into a river. Consensus? Panda is a crotchety old woman and we never knew it.

I feel really good about Purl, though. She's exceedingly well socialized, thanks, I'm sure, to a good foster home she was in. She has already responded well to clicker training and can now sit on command. Crate training is going a little slower, but she's so food driven that giving her treats and meals in there has helped a bit. She basically cries for 10 minutes then goes right to sleep. In time, I think she will love her little house, but in the mean time, this is very manageable.

The leash and collar are a little more challenging. They are just beyond her comprehension, but I think she just needs a few days and she'll be all set. Plus, she's so tiny, it doesn't take long to tucker her out, so getting her leash trained will mean plenty of fun walks where she can play and interact with dogs who aren't snobs.

Don't you worry, though, Panda is getting as much love as ever and Purl is being expected to follow house rules. Panda is even helping with the training, albeit, unwittingly. I give Panda a command, praise her, then work it with Purl.

Don't worry, next post will have some knitting content. Lily is coming along beautifully.

Break out the cigars!


Congratulations, you are all new aunts or uncles, as the case may be. We just adopted a new pup. Her name, from the foster home is, Pearl. Miss Julia wisely pointed out that this was merely a misspelling of "Purl." She'll technically be Leo's little girl, since Panda is mine, so he will ultimately choose the name, but until he picks one, she is Purl to me.

Purl is a 16 week old Border Collie and Cattle Dog mix (same mix as Panda!) but she's been very well socialized and absolutely loves everyone and everything in this fine world. Panda is a little overwhelmed by puppy's verve and there will probably be some scuffles as they find their place together, but overall, Purl seems sweet and lovely.

I just got Purl her first collar so that's been a bit traumatic for her. We'll also be crate training her which will be new, but shouldn't pose any big problems for the bright little girl.

Having a puppy is going to be a lot of work, but who can complain with a face like this?

Panda is probably not speaking to me right now, but I think in time they will be inseparable.

So hopefully, there aren't too many of you out there who mind doggy pictures, because I now have twice the cuteness in one small house.

It's not rocket surgery


This entry also posted at the Create Along.

Hey, it's a Lily update.

The second sleeve knit up in a jiffy, even with my lack of free time, and then it came time to join all the pieces into a single unit. While the sleeves were knit flat (more a product of my lack of US #7 DPNs than anything,) everything else is knit in the round. The process is largely like that of the relatively ubiquitous top down raglans (Good ol' Barbara Walker!) only this one is bottom up.

The pieces and I had a bit of a kerfuffle at the time of joining. The body was knit to a slightly different point in the lace repeat than the sleeves and I did not realize this until the second round of attachment. I had to decide whether to rip out the extra rows in the sleeve or attach another ball and knit up the body further. There may have been some language unbecoming a lady. Panda offered to jump on my lap and help, but we both ended up showing much restraint.

I decided on the former option, ripping down, as I can use the tails to seam the sleeves, later.

I don't feel like the rest of the piece should pose any real problems, it's not brain science, after all. I'm keeping the formula fairly simple; decreasing every other round, yet, I have this foreboding feeling that when its all done, I'm going to need to rip back. I'm not sure why. I think some of it stems from the fact that I'm not doing any sort of bind off under the arms. Will it be all bunchy and uncomfortable? I am waiting to try the piece on until I've worked a few more rounds and if I do have to work back, I have a few ideas for remedies, but I'm really hoping I don't need to go that route. Because the body is knit in the round, even a gusset would pose a lot of work. Don't you even think about using the "s" word with me. Some of us learn from our friend's blog posts.

I think I always have this sort of anxiety when I'm knitting my own designs. No matter how much I do this, there's always some portion of the process that seems more dictated by the little knitting fairies and gremlins than by math. Hopefully when I'm all done, I'll love it and wear it with pride, but for now, it's too soon to tell.

Does anyone speak Portuguese


I am participating in Kelli's project to make care packages for children in an orphanage in Mozambique (thanks Jessica for the link!).

She has asked that we include a card with a picture and a note in English and Portuguese, extending our well wishes and friendship. She links to Bablefish, which is fine, but I know from experience that the results are often comical at best and unintelligible at worst.

I have my packages all ready to go, I just need to write my notes. I was wondering if there is anyone who'd be willing to help me translate my English message to Portuguese?

It's amazing how much you can fit in a quart sized bag!

In case you are wondering, I have 4 bags each with the following items:

  • Sheet of stickers

  • Soap

  • Toothbrush

  • Hair elastics in lots of sizes and colors

  • Floss

  • Chapstick

  • Gum

  • Crayons

  • 2 pads of sticky notes to use with the crayons

  • A bouncy ball

Not bad for cramming into a single quart sized bag.

If you want to participate, please do so. This seems like a great cause and Kelli has assured me that if she gets too many bags, she'll take the excess to the next orphanage she visits. Read all about it here.

Anyway, I digress
Subliminal message: go participate
If you happen to be willing and able to help me translate a simple message, suitable for about a 7 year old, I'd much appreciate it. Just leave me a comment.



What can I say, I'm a weak weak woman. With all the gorgeous luxury fibers I've been getting, and my poor results with them on both a drop spindle and the wheel, I thought it was time that I give into the siren call of the supported spindle.

I ordered myself a Spindolyn which I had first seen in action while shooting this episode of Knitty Gritty with the magnificent Shannon Okey. Of course, as soon as it came in, I wanted to play with it, but decided to be a good doobie and at least wait until my work day was over. The days are long enough that I had just enough time to snap some progress pics before the sun was completely gone for the day. Here is

Spindolyn nestled in a clump of flowers in my back yard


It's probably not a fair to make an assessment of the Spindolyn at this point since I've used for all of, maybe, 2 hours, but this in the internet and lack of authority on a subject has never stopped anyone from waxing unintelligibly before. What's to stop me now? Of course, when I have a new opinion in a few months, all of this will be moot, but here's a virgin's assessment of the Spindolyn.

Why I chose the Spindolyn

Firstly, for the price, it definitely seemed worth the risk. At $26, the Spindolyn is cheaper than many spindles of a similar size or smaller.


A couple full frontal shots.



There are several types of supported spindle on the market including the Navajo and Tahkli. Since both have long histories, I'm guessing they are excellent tools and well tested. However, the Navajo seemed a bit large and unwieldy and definitely lacked the sort of portability I'd hope for and the Tahkli seemed so small that you would only be able to work super fine lace weight in order to get any sort of yardage on the spindle. The Spindolyn seemed like a nice middle ground and a tool that would be easier to learn on since you could use both hands to draft.

Taking her for a spin

The movie on the Spindolyn homepage seemed fairly straight forward so I got right to spinning. At first, it seemed nearly impossible to get the spindle to spin for any length of time and since all the cuts in the demo movie were relatively short, I started to wonder if this is just the nature of the beast. With a bit more time, I was able to get a longer spin. Excessive predrafting helps a lot. After I got the hang of it, it seemed to go fairly well. I'm not dancing on the tree tops with delight at my progress, but do feel I'm getting the hang of it.


And my first little skein


Comparison to a drop spindle

In general, I don't feel I got as long or as effective a spin as I get on a drop spindle. This isn't necessarily a problem since you don't have that same risk of the fiber breaking from lack of twist, but it's definitely something I noticed. I love spindles and the processes, but not so much that I want it to take any longer than it has to. I'm about efficiency.

The shaft onto which you store your fresh spun is short compared to my drop spindles so if feels like I have to make a significantly smaller cop than I normally do. I was usually able to get close to 50 yards of 2 ply out of a single cop. With the Spindolyn, I think I'll have to settle for less.

In this same vein, being limited to the spinning the distance from my knees to as far as my arms can reach overhead, before having to wind the yarn on, also feels limited. I played with placing the Spindolyn between my feet which was awkward when just spinning close to the floor but does seem to give me more spinning time before winding on, which I like. I don't think this is a negative of the Spindolyn, more an issue with supported spindles in general.


Obviously, you knew there'd be a Panda shot too.

Benefits of the Spindolyn

I do love that the Spindolyn works as its own lazy kate, though. This is much nicer than my old shoe box lazy kate, I use with my beautiful Goldings. This is not a deal maker but it's pretty darn nice.

Additionally, as I mentioned before, there's little risk of breaking your yarn for lack of twist, though, I'm skilled (ha!) enough to manage this nonetheless. Later in the evening I tried a bit of angora and found it far easier than my previous experiences on a drop spindle. For the purposes of short silky fibers, this really does seem to be a great option.

The Spindolyn also seems to be well made, durable and a good value. For the price, I think you really do get a lot.


Obviously, it's too early to make any final conclusions but based on my first impression, I think this is a good purchase and one I'll have plenty of use for. I still love the drop spindle and find it more relaxing and more efficient. I don't like to have to wind on the fiber every few seconds. I find myself spending a lot more time with my arms craned uncomfortably over my head in an attempt to extend the time drafting and spinning than I do with the drop spindles. However, as I said, I do not see this as a shortcoming of the spindle but as a byproduct of supported spindles in general and my own impatience.

I would love to see these, at some point, come in a model with more wood at the edge of the spindle, to facilitate longer spin time, and perhaps a longer shaft as well, to allow for a larger cop. I don't know if this would adversely effect the performance, but it seems like both would allow for more efficient spinning.

I'm back!


Well, I just mailed off my top secret project, with all its fixin's to it's rightful owner. I'll miss that beautiful plum color Calmer but not as much as I've missed being able to talk crafty on my blog. While stories of Panda and hikes and tea and eating are all fun, it's yarny goodness upon which this blog is built.

So adios pretty plum calmer and, long time no see, Lily!

I've only had time to cast on and work a few rows of the second sleeve and it's amazing how hard it's been to get back into the swing of it.

Truth be told, I'm the sort of person who would likely have abandoned this with such a long hiatus. I know that's crazy, but when I lose momentum on something, it's almost never that I pick it back up again. It's good for me to push myself to finish these projects so they don't languish and end up ripped, or worse, donated to charity in their half knit form.

I have a couple other projects I'll probably be working on this year; projects that cannot be blogged right away but which I'm pretty excited about. But I also have big plans (bigger than any warping of the space time continuum can accommodate) that should all be bloggable.

Water a-fallin'


Leo, Panda and I went on an amazing hike and beautiful drive, this past Saturday. Our original intention was to go to Mt Hood and enjoy its splendor, but we got sidetracked and by sidetracked I mean that Leo didn't believe the maps, GPS, or various signs on the road, that Mt Hood was that-a-way, not this-a-way. But who cares, where we ended was more beautiful than I could have hoped.

It was rainy and cloudy, but hardly a drop fell while we hiked and no one, not even Miss Pukey Pants herself, got sick in the car. In my book, that's a winner of a day, all around.

Want to see a bunch of the pictures (not all, I took nearly 200)? If so, just clicky right here.

Anemone? No, anemoTEA


Leo's colleague gave him some tea that a friend had gotten in China.
Instead of your normal tea bag or loose leaf, this tea came in an oddly alien looking pod, that opened up like a flower.

Click for bigger

But this ain't just another pretty face, it was fragrant and absolutely delicious. This is my kind of alien pod. Does anyone know where you can get this sort of tea, here in the states? Is that even possible? Are you dizzy from watching the animation?

A little slice of heaven


When I worked on site, at my job, I was often pretty far away from windows throughout the day. What little of the day I saw, was usually while I bustled between meetings.

Now that I work from home, I sit right next to a window, and I have Panda by my side. It's all I could ever have hoped. I love it.

There is one downside, though, when the days are absolutely beautiful, I feel like I'm in 3rd grade waiting for the school bell to sound and mark the end of the day.

Yesterday, was one such day. The sun is absolutely beaming, everything is verdant, and it was a mere hours before my weekend was scheduled to start. I could barely contain myself.

When my shift was up and I'd finally completed all those little things that seem to come up just when I think I'm done for the day, I decided that Panda and I needed a relaxing afternoon in the backyard.

We don't have any proper lawn furniture, but we do have some portable camping chairs. Ours happens to have a perfectly sized drink holding divot and yarn holster.

For a drink, I had myself a beer, though, to be honest, I was more like 25% of a beer, because I am a cheep date and it started to make me sleepy. For knitting, I had my super secret Stitchy McYarnpants project, so all you get to see is the gorgeous plum color and a big heap of knitted fabric, stitch holders and needles.

For entertainment, A Game of Thrones on my iPod. I'm such an audio book junkie. I'm so enamored of them, I exercise to them instead of music.

Panda made good use of the backyard as well.

Then she finally settled into a nice shady spot to watch me knit.

In the evening, I spun some of the Pearl colored Optim I got from Janel, last year.

This is my first time spinning Optim and it is unbelievably smooth and soft. Her colorway is beautifully subtle, which I love. This will be a colorway I can work into a very wearable item. I've started the second bobbin and will ply the two before moving onto my new Luxury Fiber of the Month; Baby Camel! I'm sure I'll absolutely bastardize the camel like I did the yak, but who cares, it's too soft to let languish.

Well, it was another truly lovely weekend here in Portland. At some point, am I supposed to stop liking this place? It hasn't happened yet. There just always seems to be something fun to do

On Friday,we celebrated Larry and Erica's 1st wedding anniversary. Their 12th (going steady?) anniversary is in May. This means that I must joke that they are newlyweds all night, because that never gets old.

When Leo and I arrived at the restaurant, Erica and Larry were well into their celebration. We agreed that all of us (except Erica) would have some super hot oyster shooters. Yum but with a long and painful burn. Leo, he of little forethought, ordered two for himself and realized the second would only add to his current level of pain.

On Sunday, we went back to Cannon Beach to give Panda some much needed running around. We go for walks during the week, but nothing takes the place of running around the beach for a few hours. This is also when we get to the part of the story where I explain the title, but before we go there, I must show the obligatory scenic shots. To save load time on the home page, all the pictures are in the extended entry, after the jump.

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