Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Block Head

Unpinned the headband last night and it stayed perfectly flat. I love alpaca.

Now to find the perfect buttons.

And, just because I thought it was beautifully browned, here's a slightly blurry picture of the roasted turkey breast I made Saturday night. Accompanied by mashed fingerling potatoes, sausage and chestnut stuffing, and several bottles of wine, it was one super meal.

Turkey Boob

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stormy Sunday

Thank god for rainy Sundays. I just get so much done!

A day that started off on the couch in my pjs watching terrible (very terrible) RomComs, ended up with me completing my WV hat, sweeping and swifering the upstairs, de-Ollie-ing the furniture, making Chex Mix, taking out all of the recycling and garbage, vacuuming my room, hooking up and playing some Super Nintendo (I’m so old school), and finishing my “leftovers” headband. I went to bed with the hat in an envelope ready for mailing and the headband blocking on a towel.

What is blocking, you ask? Blocking makes a strip of material, such as a headband or scarf, go from a tightly knit tube of ugly into a loose-fibered flat strip that can be stretched to size. You pin the item to a flat piece of material (a sheet or towel works great), steam or dampen as appropriate to the fiber, and let it dry. The hope is that the heat and/or water will loosen the fibers and allow you to stretch the material into the desired shape.

Hope that blocking the headband works, as it’s as curly as a lil piggy’s tail. I pinned it down first before dampening it. Depending on how this works out, I may have to douse it in water instead of just spritzing with Ollie’s no-no spray bottle. He had been laying spread eagle on my floor (fat sacks make for great balancers), but when he saw the blue bottle he rocketed out of my room to go stare at the fish in the aquarium.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The highly anticipated yarn baller finally arrived on Friday. The bad news -- it went to a house I haven't lived in since 2007. Oops. I picked it up last night and went to work on the new hank of alpaca I bought last week.

Plymouth Yarns Grande, 100% baby alpaca

I know, I have issues. Chunky baby alpaca is my new favorite fiber to work with. I wear my hat all the time. Tried to wear it snowshoeing but it kept my head too warm! After balling my new stuff, I started on another Unoriginal 3-hour hat, this one for my favorite West Virginian. Pretty sure I owe her a Christmas present.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Snowshoeing Success!

Huzzah! Snowshoeing on Saturday was a blast! Shout out to B.Lee... errr.... Bethany... for letting me borrow every piece of gear I needed for the trek.

Got to Stevens Pass around 11:30ish, geared up and hit the trail. Turns out it's not so difficult. Very easy, in fact. Just like hiking, but with big ol' things attached to your feet. We were concerned that we would get rained on, especially after leaving a fogged in Seattle, but the weather turned out gorgeous. Blue skies and only a wee bit of wind when we were exposed.


We bought $5 plastic sleds at Fred Meyer on our drive out, which were put to good use on the downhill sections of the trail on the way back. Those things can FLY down the trail. Lisa excelled at wiggling just enough to keep going and out distanced all of us.

The fishy wriggle

I managed to sled down the steepest part back to the parking lot (not a wise idea) and sped head-first, cartoon explosion-style, into a snow bank. Poof of snow and flying shoes and water bottle included.

I survived the day, with pictures, memories and bruised hip bones to prove it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti

Due to an evening spent with DVDs and DVRs, I didn't hear about the Haitian earthquake until today at lunch when I pulled up the Seattle Times. There are hundreds of thousands of people sleeping on the streets because their homes have been destroyed. Hospitals, the ones that are still standing, have pulled staff from all departments to assist with trauma victims. The dead are laying in streets. It makes my heart ache, so I decided to donate. I'm making my donation to Doctors Without Borders.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe. In 1999, MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize. MSF currently operates with over 800 staff in Haiti, and not all have been accoutned for. The three areas generally used to treat emergencies and set up infrastructure are damaged and unusable. Around 70 more staff and a portable hospital are expected to arrive within the next several days.

If you would like to make a donation to support Doctors Without Borders, you may do so here:

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Knit-Together

Had knitting class on Sunday for the girls. Attendance was down, but it was quite productive.


Bethany finished her first project, Sheila learned how to cast on, knit, purl and bind off in about two minutes, and Amber resolved some issues and made some headway on her hat. I supervised. And let me tell you, there needed to be some supervision! We had another visitor who had a very hard time managing the needles...

Stella, Amber's 10 week old kitten!

Stella and Ollie were quite interested in each other. The size comparison was staggering; Stella looked like she could be a light afternoon snack for him. After some initial nose twitching, they chased each other around the house until Stella was sleepy and Ollie was out of breath (he's not fat, just giant boned).

I made my first attempt at spaghetti and meatballs. SUCCESS! Delicious balls of ground turkey smothered in homemade tomato sauce. Yum.

And no one got sick!


Wish I had a Baller

I've been "hank"ering to use the hank* of 100% baby alpaca I bought in Kennewick on Black Friday and was finally successful.

*Hank: a unit of yarn or twine that is in a coiled form (aka unknittable form).

In order to use the hank, you have to first put the coil on a yarn swift. A swift will rotate and allow the yarn to be pulled off without causing twists, knots, or other irritating fiascoes. A yarn baller is the mechanism needed to pull the yarn off the swift and twist it into the tidy little skeins you can find at craft stores. Yarn ballers create "center-pull" balls so you can set them on the table or couch and not have it roll away (and entice your cat) when you pull on your yarn.

Swifts can get pretty pricey (some up to $90! For a couple pieces of wood!), so asked for one for Christmas. On Christmas morning I got to open a beautiful collapsible swift, handmade by my pops! Supposedly I'll be getting a baller, too, but it's backordered. I borrowed my coworker's on Thursday to ball my alpaca, and this is what the operation looked like:

Also balled up some handspun wool I ordered on Ebay about three years ago and never got around to working with. Maybe now's the time?

Couldn't stop the "Balla!" jokes while I was winding. Made me wish I was a little bit taller, wish I was a baller, wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat...

....Three and a half knitting hours later, with Skee-Lo still in my head, I finished my baby alpaca hat for myself.

Only three hours!!!

Pattern: Unoriginal Hat by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Chunky Solid, Gray
Needles: US 10.5 DPN

I love it. It's suuuuper soft and warm and fits me perfectly!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Desk Chair Traveller

Today was one of those days (and I've had a few of them recently) when I had too much time on my hands at work and started dreaming of things that can't be done from a desk chair. Yesterday, these dreams mostly centered around baby alpaca and the delightful things I could knit with it (namely, a hat for ME! I deserve it. And I deserve the flowers I bought for myself. And this bottle of wine I'm going to drink.).

(Thanks for the wine, Dad! It's delicious!)

Today, I spent my spare time dreaming of the mountains, the Sound and the ocean. Probably spent two hours back and forth between the Washington Trails Association, Google Maps and Google in general. I've marked my calendar with random weekends on which I want to get outside.

I've been told I'm going snowshoeing sometime in January, but it's yet to be planned. Apparently there are some good trails for it around Mt. Rainier. Apparently. Potentially? I hope I get to find out.

I have had a slowly simmering desire to visit Cape Alava for about, oh, four years now. The simmer is turning into a rolling boil. The hike is mostly flat and almost all the trail that's not on the beach is boardwalk, so it should be doable in January.

Judging from past experience, the Olympics should be fine in January as long as you wear lots of layers...

...and drink lots of beer.

Now is one of the few times I wish I still lived in EWa, where even when it's cold the ground is still dry and you can hike any time between Thanksgiving and Easter.

Badger Mountain on Black Friday... with ice wine!

I also want to get out in my kayak and was looking at Deception Pass. Kayaking the Pass itself scares the poop outta me, but Bowman Bay is just about my speed.

(yes, that's me in my little yellow boat, with coworkers in the canoe further asea)

It's also great for catching these when the season is open.

Also, now is the season for cheap deals on the Oregon Coast. You could get lucky and see this:

You may be not so lucky and see this, even in August:

Or this in June:

(that's one windy beach.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Arthritis Prevention

When you're popping three Advil before bed every night because you've been knitting for three hours, it's time to take a break.

When your yarn rubs you raw and cuts into your finger and you take a break only to put a bandaid on it, you have a problem.

I took a week long knitting hiatus to allow my fingers and brain to recuperate from December. It was a much needed break and left me with hours of time to let out my competitive urges. Won a couple games of cribbage, spent hours staring at the Settlers of Catan board, and even worked my "Nintendo thumb" on the Wii playing Super Mario (it's not my fault you bounced off my head and off the cliff?).

Now my fingers are back to their nimble selves and ready to get working! There are some sheep out there that are just dying to get rid of their winter coats...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Oh, look, it's 2010!

Apparently I missed the boat. Everyone else has already posted their "Welcome to 2010," or, "Sayonara 2009!" So here's my "So long, farewell, bye-bye" to a decade.

Things I accomplished in the 2000s:
*graduated high school
*spent some time on the East Coast
*went to Scotland
*went to Australia and New Zealand
*graduated college
*experienced unemployment without the benefits of being on "Unemployment"
*visited West Virginia (which should probably be counted as my fourth foreign country)
*lived in a trailer by the river
*visited Alaska and Hawaii no less than four times
*saw my brother get married
*got a "real" job, in the area I studied in college, and kept it for, holy crap, THREE years!
*became self sufficient (mostly ;)
*helped my dad celebrate retirement
*learned to knit

I'd say the 2000's saw me grow up and become an adult. I think it was the knitting that did it.