June 2007 Archives

No more pencils, no more books


Our little Thea graduated from Puppy Preschool, on Thursday. We couldn't be more proud of her. Admittedly, we needed only show up for class in order to graduate, but Thea worked hard these past 6 weeks and she had a great time, to boot. Thea did exceptionally well at the recall, down stay and tricks portion of the last class. Her sit stay is solid too, though she was so tired she schlumped into a down during the sit completion. Her loose leash work is bad enough that I suggest we move on to another topic.


From here, I just decide if I want to sign up for more obedience (something she definitely needs but not as much fun) or puppy agility (lots of fun, but probably not the the ideal focus for our little bag of energy.) I bet you can guess which way I'm leaning.

This entry also posted at the Create Along.

Download the spreadsheet and play along at home.

It's been a while since I've done a tutorial and seeing as I use this technique all the time, it's about time I shared it with all of you. This also makes me feel better about the fact that I do not have any updates on my CAL project to post, as my deadline pieces are all keeping me busy.

NOTE: The attached spreadsheet is just a sample and contains measurements that may be useful but which may not meet the standards for some publications. You are welcome to use what I have for your own design purposes but it'll be you who has to ultimately support any patterns written from it, so do your research first.

The goal

Excel can be used to help you organize and plot your final pattern. Unfortunately, it can't do all the dirty work, but you can find yourself being a bit more consistent, if you let the program do your calculating. If you plan to submit your patterns for publication, providing a spreadsheet with all your work can be of great help to the tech editor. Doing so, may make logic errors more obvious and allow for faster editing.

A rough schematic of what we are shooting for

Another year in review


Today, my humble blog turns three years old. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be a part of this knitting community. I love that I can bounce ideas off of people, stay in touch with family, and, of course, post copious pictures of my cute doggies. Every year, I seem to make more friends and learn more. And if it weren't for this here blog, I don't think I'd have have learned to spin.


What have I done this past year? Oh so very much. I couldn't possibly name everything, but a few memorable moments include...

There was so much more that happened, it was hard to narrow it down.
Here's to another great year ahead, and hopefully many more.

Sometimes its good to be frugal.


I may have mentioned before that El Matchador had gone into the Spinning Wheel Protection Program after being downed in an unfortunate drive by puppy incident. Even before that, there were some slightly off things about my dear wheel that I have worked around but have always known were not quite right. For one thing, the flyer had a tenancy to come loose from the front maiden, but there also seemed to be a bit of play around the axle of the wheel.

When a friend of mine posted about taking her Matchless to the Schacht headquarters for repairs, it got me thinking. Obviously, I don't have the luxury of driving over to Colorado, El Matchador in tow, to get a tune up, but I thought there might be a local resource who could handle my concerns.

It's probably worth mentioning that, having gotten my wheel on eBay before I knew much of anything about spinning on a wheel, the whole thing seemed more like voodoo than anything to me. Every time I use him, it becomes a little more clear to me how it all comes together but mostly I've thought of my wheel like my car. I can change a few key items but I don't want to get all crazy and start making expensive mistakes.

I contacted Schacht and asked them about Portland area resources for Matchless repairs. They were very very nice and wrote me back to say that they didn't have any resources for me locally but that I could ship El Matchador to them and pay the $45 an hour fee + parts (generally not more than 2 hours) or I could try to describe the problems or send photos and see if we could work through the issues that way.

Well, my friends, I'm not a cheap person but I'm not exactly rolling in dough, either. When my wheel was shipped to me, the UPS cost for packing and ground shipping was upwards of $70. With an hour or two of labor plus parts and shipping back, and I feared I'd end up spending more than I paid for the wheel. On some level, that would be fine, if it were really needed, but I had an inkling that my problems weren't substantial enough to warrant such extravagant care (no offense, SeƱor).

So I pulled the boy out and began to give him a once over.

Where that little yellow star is, the axle for the wheel had come loose a bit. I bumped it back into place. There was still a lot of play where the squiggly arrow is, so I walked around the back of the wheel.

That dark wood inset was very loose. What to do? Is the part worn away? Do I need a new one? To anyone who is familiar with their wheel, this might not be such a big thinker of a moment but for me, it took a few moments to realize how easy (and cheap) the fix is.

If you look back at the second picture, you'll see a column of screws with hexagon shaped slots. A quick riffle through Leo's allen wrenches and I had a match.

I aligned everything where I wanted it and gently tightened the screws. I figure they cannot be too tight, seeing as they press against wood, but that it needed to be snug enough to hold everything in place.

And that flyer issue? The same allen wrench taken to a screw in the front maiden, sorted that all out. I tightened it enough so that it would hold the flyer more securely.

El Matchador now runs better than the day he arrived at my home. And should he someday need major repair work, I'll happily pack him up snug and safe and ship him to Schacht. For now, it's good to have him here.

Caption me


Leo told me today about this cute program called Comic Life. It has all the templates, colors and fonts needed to make your own fun little comics.

After taking a particularly silly picture of Miss Thea-Purl, I decided it was perfect for the cover of an imaginary comic book about twisted puppies and their evil thoughts.


Alas, creativity escapes me, and the inner machinations of her mischievous mind have not been revealed to me. Any thoughts?

Good as new, maybe better


The folks over at Golding just rock. At the Fiber Frolic, owner, Diane, offered to take my 0.6 ounce and 0.9 ounce, align the hooks and mail them back to me, complete with instructions for aligning, should I ever with to try myself.
A couple days after the frolic, she wrote me to say that they have updated the design of the smaller spindle, to have a thinner shaft, and would I like them to install that shaft on my 0.6 ounce. Well, that sounded just dandy to me.

A couple days later, my beautiful spindles were back in my hands, all buffed up and looking good or maybe better than new.


Pre-surgery, the old shaft, on my smaller spindle, was about the same size as the larger spindle. You can really see the difference now. It spins amazingly well.


The shaft switch also changed the weight. Now it's a petite 0.45 ounces. Just think of the cobwebs I shall spin.

While I was awaiting the return of my spindles, I was putting my new spindle to good use spinning up some beautiful fiber from Nistock Farms. The colorway is called "September Glow" and it's a cotwold and silk blend.


The color of the fiber goes from a soft cream-of-mahogany color to vivid oranges and pinks. It's like a more neutral version of the Autumn Spice colorway I spun last year. The silk shows up as lovely white flecks. They tend to form little nubs, but I like them. The batts are as light as air so it spins like a dream. I may even bring El Matchador out of hiding.

IMG_0080.jpg IMG_0075.jpg

Panda, as always, humored my insanity. This has grown all the more exasperating for her since Thea tends to grab whatever I'm photographing and run off with it.

Speaking of Thea, hasn't she gotten big? Her spots are becoming more and more pronounce too. She's really starting to show her cattle dog side.


The two girls have also gotten really close. They play like puppies, and snuggle up with Leo, any chance they get.


Admit it, you want in on that pile of cute.


My cousin, Allen, and his wife, Cora, have been living on their boat for, what, a year and a half, and chronicling their adventures on their blog. (Actually, they've been living on their boat for much longer, but they were docked in San Fransisco before.) They've traveled to Honduras, Panama and many ports of the US. Crazy stuff. Recently, their boat got hit by freakin' lighting. They are fine, the boat, not so much.

Personally, I'm equal parts in awe and perplexed by how they do it and how they don't end up killing each other in such tight quarters. Still, if they didn't do it, I wouldn't be able to read about it.

If you are up for some fun and hilarious reading, head on over and drop them a comment.

I'm beyond exhausted. Yesterday started with my getting up at 1:30AM pacific time and I didn't go to bed until nearly 11PM, but I'm happy and tired and with my sweet pups, and tired and exhausted and tired and in sorry need of some unpacking and a shower and tired. I seriously thought I might log in for a full day of work today but to paraphrase Zapp Brannigan, the spirit is willing but the brain is spongy and bruised. I may still pop in for a few hours, just to catch up, but I'm not making any promises.

Little Thea is getting so big. A week away from a puppy is a jarring (though rather relaxing) thing. I'll post pictures when I can get some good light.


I did acquire a few things on my trip and did a bit of hand spinning. I mentioned before that my spindle hooks had gone a little wonky. The kind folks at Golding, were happy to realign them but needed to hold onto the spindles for a couple days to do so. Feeling a decided void in my bag, I decided to peruse their new selection. While there are some amazing new designs, I know I like my spindles between 0.5 and 1 ounce, so I picked up a gorgeous 0.9 ounce, purple heart Le Fleur.

Additionally, my mom treated me to some magnificent Schacht carders so that I could attend an intro class on carding fibers. The class was taught by Debbie Bergman of Purple Fleece and was wonderful. I want to card all my fibers forever and always, into punis.

And with my spindle and my carders, I needed a bit of fibers. I just knew I had to get me some of Amy's lovely BFL batts. Mine is in rich shades of burgundy and brown with a creamy peach color. I would never, in a thousand years, think to combine those colors but they come together beautifully and the touch of shimmer makes it so decadent. I'm not usually gaga for BFL but these batts are a delight.

Here it is being spun up and basking in some Maine sunshine.


And here is a closeup of the final two-ply skein.


I got a few other goodies but I haven't had a chance to photograph them.

While I miss all the great people I got to catch up with back east, I'm so very glad to have spent a night in my own comfie bed.

Chapeau Marnier


The new Knitty is up and I have a pattern there.

There was some confusion about whether the dark version of the hat would run in Knitty Spin or the green version would run in regular Knitty and the short version of the story is that both hats are pictured which is great, but that I flubbed and did the ribbon loops differently on each. So the instructions on Knitty are for the dark hat's loops and you can get the green hat's loops chart here. As always, feel free to press that little "contact" button up top if you need any help or clarification.

In other news, I went to the Maine Fiber Frolic, this weekend and had a great time. See some fun pics from my stay in Boston and visit to the Frolic, here. What, you need more motivation than that to look at my pictures? How's this for temptation?


I leave to go back home, early tomorrow morning and while it's been wonderful to see my family and friends (so so great, really) I will glad, indeed, to see my little girls and Leo again.

A few little cuties


These are actually now hanging to dry, but while I had some defused sunlight today, I thought I'd snap some photos of my little skeins of handspun.

Firstly, off the Spindolyn, about 24 yards of Fudge Brownie 2-ply. The roving was from Nistock Farms. I'd say this is my most successful and longest skein off the Spindolyn so far. I am going to keep trying to get better with it. I really strive to have at least 50 yards of plied yarn off a single cop. Maybe that's just silliness, but I think it's enough yarn to actually feel like I can start to knit with it.
The fibers were spun quite fine but there's tons of loft in this stuff so it looks like a worsted weight. I suspect that after washing and drying, it will lose a touch of that loft. I'm estimating it around 18 WPI. My spinning is a little irregular so it definitely won't be mistaken for store bought, but it's really soft and the color is impressively rich.

Off my trusty 0.6 ounce Golding, just under 60 yards of 2 ply. This yarn is fairly consistent with a few "designer" moments throughout. She is about 24 WPIs.

A little closer, if you like.

While I was shooting these photos, Ms. Thea was giving me this look.
Nope, she's not growing into her ears, but I still think she's gorgeous.

All day on the coast


This weekend is the annual celebration of the day a certain someone was born, though he doesn't like it spoken about so shhhhhhhhhhhhh. Certain someone requested we go back to the beach for some good family fun.

We've been to Manzanita Beach, and we have been to Ecola and Cannon Beaches many times but this time, we decided to try Hug Point, located between the two.

We arrived at Hug Point, around 11AM, and the temperature was cool, a nice change from the unseasonably high temperatures we've had in Portland, over the past week. There was a wedding reception at the beach, but we tucked around the corner and found a lovely area to play with the girls.

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The beach is beautiful but explorers beware! One could easily get trapped when the tide comes in. I don't think the girls would have minded, but we sure would have.

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When our tummies started to complain it was lunch time, we packed up to go back to Cannon Beach for a bite to eat. After filling up on diet food (read: fries, burgers, ribs, bacon, and guacamole) we talked about wandering over to the beach for another quick romp before heading home. As merely a whim, we thought it might be fun to head just north a bit and see if we could find another beach.

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