Thursday, May 31, 2007

Of Redwoods, Harbors and Stash

Battery Point, May 27, 2007

Last Thursday, Kevin said he would like to go for a drive for the Memorial Day weekend. Ok.

My in-laws recently purchased a lot in Brookings, Oregon. They will be retiring there after my mother-in-law has completed here servitude to the US Government next year. She has calculated the time to retirement by calendar days, weeks and working days. Considering the challenges in her personal and professional life over the last several years, she is quite deserving of some "down time". I am frequently awed by her strength and perseverance, and sincerely hope that I would handle things as well as she does in a similar situation. I know that this can be a rarity in some circles, but I love my mother-in-law. She is awesome.

Kevin and I have been curious about where we will be spending our Thanksgiving holiday - having spent that particular holiday in Idaho Falls ever since Kevin and I became a couple. It's about 350 miles for us to get to Brookings. It's 450 miles to my mom's in So Cal, and that takes about 7 hours, when everything works at its optimum level. It took about that long to get to Crescent City this past Saturday, though we had traffic on and off from Novato to Santa Rosa.

The last time we drove that far north on the 101 was around 1993 or 1994, when we drove up the Oregon Coast to the Columbia Gorge, before heading east to Idaho Falls via Boise. One thing that has changed - Indian Casino's. There were no casino's back then. Other than that, it was still beautiful with the vast Redwood forests, rambling streams, diversified wildlife and revitalizing ocean breezes.

We stopped in Hopland and had a beer at the Hopland Brewery, where last time we were there we had some really good pub food. They don't serve food anymore. We were disappointed.

Hopland Brewery

The beer is still good, and this is the first microbrewery in California, dating back to 1983, if I recall correctly. My favorite brew is Read Tail Ale. They make some tasty mustard too!

We continued to Crescent City, where I had made reservations at the Curly Redwood Lodge. It's a no frills motel, quiet and clean. Very reasonable too. The only drawback - we really wished we had brought our own pillows. Flat, well used, uncomfortable, fiberfill. Highlight, for me at least, the sound of the fog horn at night. It was very soothing.

We had breakfast at the Fisherman Restaurant, which is across the street from the Lodge. The first breakfast we had there we both had a couple of really good dishes - a smoked salmon omelet with cream cheese filling (light and fluffy) and Eggs Benedict with cod instead of ham. Mmm, delicious. The next morning I had a sourdough grilled cheese sandwich with bay shrimp and Kevin had cod and eggs with 2 huge pancakes. Not as good as the previous day, but still tasty and filling. Dinner Sunday night was at the Smuggler's Cove in Brookings-Harbor. First, the food is pricey($15 for fish 'n chips), but the beer was not at $3.50 for a Guinness. The fish 'n chips I had was good, beer battered halibut, but it was one of the more inexpensive menu items. Kevin had a salmon open-faced sandwich, which he thought was decent. Both of us would have selected a seafood dinner, but they were $20+, more than we wanted to spend. The clam chowder was ok, but very, very thick. Kevin was happy to see a Dairy Queen in Brookings, and we had a little ice cream for an afternoon pick-me-up.

We didn't do too much in Crescent City. We went out to Battery Point Lighthouse, which was scheduled to be open, but was not. We took pictures and walked around. We were lucky since this past weekend was clear and warm enough not to need a jacket for the most part. I had several minutes of panic as I had dropped our small digital camera when we were checking out the commercial harbor. Luckily, when we retraced our steps, Kevin found the camera. Huge relief! I bought that camera for Kevin's birthday last year, and was about ready to have a major cry if we hadn't found it. Disaster avoided.

When we were done with the Lighthouse, we headed north to Brookings. After driving around for a while, we left a message with the in-laws for clarification. But since my cell battery was running low, we had to keep the phone off for the most part. We finally had a message and some directions, which allowed us to find the lot.

During the time we were waiting for the message, we drove around and came across an Arts & Crafts Fair. It was part of the annual Azalea Festival. We walked around and looked at the paintings, drawings and photographs that comprised the Art Fair. We than checked out the Craft booths. Across the street was a Quilt show, so we checked that out. Then we headed over to the VFW Hall for the Fiber Festival.

Inside the VFW Hall were weavers, spinners and dyers. Not a large space, but a lot of beautiful things. I met a spinner, by the name of Cherie Torkko-Barnes. I bought 3 skeins of yarn from her - 2 hand dyed dishcloth cotton and 1 lace weight tencel. I finished the dishclothes on 5/29/07:

From Purple to Blue Dishcloth
Candy Lips Dishcloth

This is the lace weight, I am calling it "Kelp, Mussels & Sky", or simply "Brookings":

Kelp. Mussesls & Sky

I spent $23 - that's it. I've already warned Kevin he'll be holding the lace weight while I wind it, because I know it will fall off my swift! As far as souvenirs go for the weekend, besides this I bought a charm, a book, a sticker for the car and some taffy. I was a good girl.

is working on a bridge 10 miles north of We headed home Monday and wanted to see if taking the 5 would save us any time. Nope. No way. IT IS SO BORING. At least after Mt. Shasta. Nothing but flat, boring farmland. Just like the stretch of the 5 we take to So Cal, there is a great threat of road hypnosis. Besides, CalTransRedding. We hit the backup to this bridge 18 miles north of Redding. It took an hour and 10 minutes to get to the bridge. One lane - each way. The CHP warning said to expect a 5 to 30 minute delay, but insure you had water, snacks and a full tank. Right, 5 to 30 minutes. So, now we know, we take the 101.

It was an enjoyable weekend. I'm looking forward to going there again. I would like to take some hikes in the National Parks in the area. Take some pictures of the elk, which we did see, including a bull elk with a decent rack. I might even try my hand at fishing again. There are also places like Eureka and Ferndale that have beautiful Victorians. I'm just excited about all the different things we can see, do and learn about in the years to come. Besides, there are stash enhancements opportunities yet to explore!

Yikes! Stripes! #2

Yikes! Stripes! #2
Originally uploaded by solslett.

This is pair #19 for the year. Wow.

Am I surprised that I have made 19 pairs of socks this year? Yes.

Am I surprised by how much I like it? Yes.

Do I think that my knitting skill has improved? Yes and No.

I need to improve certain skills, such as a short row heel. That's what I used with these socks, as I though the self-patterning yarn would look better as opposed to using a heel flap. I do like it better, but I wasn't satisfied with the look of the heel, as I know I'm missing something. I need to work on that.

This was a traveling sock project for me. We drove up to Crescent City for the Memorial Day weekend. I finished sock one and about 5" of the leg of sock two on the drive up. I worked on sock two on the way home, but not so much as I was too hot (read - breathing made me sweat in the car) to knit. I turned the heel Monday night, and finished it up Tuesday night.

Here are the particulars: Regia Yarn, 75% Wool, 25% Polymide. Colorway number 5160. 64 stitch cast on, basic sock pattern with short row heel. 210m skeins. 2.5mm needles. Stated 5/21/07, finished 5/59/07.

I think I'll start my Rockin' Sock Club yarn next. There's silk in that sock yarn, and I haven't tried that yet!

Twisted Thread - America

Twisted Thread - America
Originally uploaded by solslett.

See - my "crafting time" is not completely absorbed by knitting.

I have been stitching longer than I have been knitting, and it has been a prolific passion. I have finished hundreds of stitching projects, as noted in the 4 project completion binders I have. These volumes go back to the '70's with project details, picture and pattern whenever possible. Yes, I have included non-stitching projects, such as crochet and knitting, but they constitute maybe 10% of the top loading pages in these 3", 3-ring binders. Separated by year, it is a wonderful history of my progress as a fiber artist.

Due to some persistent problems with my right hand, I haven't done much stitching this year. Numbness in two fingers, and general pain, kept me from doing fine needlework, which is I enjoy most. I really think the time spent knitting has helped me overcome these issues. I have not suffered any numbness for an extended period of time, and thought it was time to try my hand at stitching again. Of course, I had to do something challenging.

This project is by Twisted Thread, a favorite of mine. I bought this little kit when we were in Las Vegas last year. There is a wonderful store by the name of Stitcher's Paradise that I visit every time we are in town. I like pieces with houses in them (it has nothing to do with the fact I'm in Real Estate), and I like alphabet samplers. I have a lot of patterns "waiting in the wings" that bear out that fact. But this was one of the smallest pieces I have done on linen with these two themes.

This is an "over-one" project, meaning, it is stitched with one strand of floss over one linen thread of cloth. The finished size is 1 3/8" x 3 1/4". As I get older, this is a much more challenging type of stitching to do since, to be honest, my eyes aren't what they used to be. Just a few years ago, I could see just fine with only the aid of my contact lenses. I found about 3 years ago, that wearing my glasses instead was more conducive to fine needlework. 2 years ago, I got a pair of reading glasses. For this one, I spent two nights "listening" to the TV, and stitched with no visual aids. For the first time since I was 12, I stitched with naked eyes. I've got to say, I did a damn fine job.

This is the first piece of needlework that I have worked on since January. The one thing that surprised me is that I am more apt to put down my knitting and go do something else. When I am stitching, it's like I'm in a race to get it done. It is isn't so much "one more row", it's "finish this section" or " finish this color". The other thing that surprised me is that stitching isn't as relaxing to me as knitting.

I'm not being boastful when I say I am very accomplished at needlework. 30 years of consistent effort and critical review should have some positive impact. I am not close to that level of confidence with my knitting, and maybe that's why I have thrown myself into it. I can see by the fit and overall construction of the socks that I have been knitting, that I have improved tremendously over two year. Whoopee!! However, I still have a long way to go.

When I want to feel superior, I will stitch. When I want to feel humble, I will knit. I guess I've been wanting to feel humble a lot lately!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Meilenweit Mega Boots Stretch Crew Socks

Last night I just wanted to get these done. Staying up way too late (again), I was able to accomplish just that. My blog entry from yesterday was a little whiny, but, to be truthful, I hate endless ribbing. I would rather do endless stockinette - because I won't have to look at it! With ribbing, I need to make sure I'm in the right spot.

I am becoming very conscious of the fact that my knitting results are very different then this time last year. Sock knitting has improved my overall knitting, making it more consistent and even. I am much more satisfied with fit and shape of the items I am producing. Just something as simple as the changing the type of cast on I use for the type of product has evolved.

Up until 3 years ago, I always used a Norwegian cast on, because that's all I knew. It's very stretchy and great for socks. It is similar to the long tail cast on, but there is an extra twist. It can be seen in Simple Socks Plain and Fancy by Priscilla A. Gibson -Roberts, a great technique book. I'm back to using the Norwegian cast on almost exclusively when knitting socks, as the log tail cast on isn't forgiving enough, and a knitted cast on is a big mistake for me.

Anyway - here are the particulars: Lana Grossa Meilienweit Mega Boots Stretch in the color #707 stitched on 2.5mm needles using Crew Sock pattern in the Meilienweit Pattern Booklet 3 as reference. Pattern modifications were as follows: 64 stitches cast on and 2x2 ribbing continued down the leg onto the foot. Pattern called for a round toe bind off and I prefer standard decreased toe since they aren't that pointy.

One Burp Cloth

Sometimes I just want to knit something easy. This is very easy. I love the book Mason Dixon Knitting. There are many great projects, and they are fun. After you are done with one of the projects, there's like this "wow, that came out really nice" type moment.

I made a couple of these as a gift earlier this year, and figured knitting up some more to stash away for future opportunities wasn't a bad idea.

Now for the particulars: Lily Sugar 'n Cream 100% Worsted Cotton, 3 oz. ball knit on US 7 needles using the Burp Cloth pattern from Mason Dixon Knitting.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

New Sock WIP, Felting Update & your friendly neighborhood Spider-man

I started these on Tuesday. I've gotten to the point that I have to have a pair of socks "on the needles". This is Meilenwiet Mega Boots Stretch, and I am knitting a basic crew sock. IT IS TAKING FOREVER!!!!! I don't have it in front of me, but I think I'm knitting these on 2mm needles, and the gauge is fine. I cast on 68 stitches, and I turned the heel on the second sock last night, but that was after knitting on it for h-o-u-r-s. Suddenly, I have no patience.

I neglected to mention that the felting of the messenger bag turned out better than expected. It shrank - a lot - and it is about the size I would like. I think I might line it and add a rigid base to it. We'll see. I'm not happy with the strap, it is a little wide. Oh well. Live and learn. I'll take a picture of it when it is ready to be used.

Today we went and saw Spider-Man. Loved it! I know some critics weren't crazy about, but coming from a fan-girl married to someone who has loved Spidey since he was old enough to pick up and read a comic book, it was worth the wait. Though not completely true to the comic book, they haven't gone off on enough tangents to give true Spidey fans a nervous tick, unlike X-Men. I couldn't stop sputtering for days after each of those - oh, what they did to my beloved X-Men. We'll see if they make a mess of Silver Surfer. Hope springs eternal.

Be back with you in a day or two when I finish this WIP!

Yikes! Stripes!

This was knit specifically with Socktopia in mind. The theme was "Yikes, stripes" and these fit the bill. I got them to match up fairly well. Initially, I had started these with a basket weave pattern. In fact, I finished one sock - grafted toe and all! Ripped it out. These still knit up very quickly. I cast on the "second" sock and put it in my travel bag, as we were heading to So Cal to visit Mom last weekend for Mother's Day. So, that sock was finished on the ride down. I literally did the last decreases less than 1/2 an hour from her house. Started on 5/9/07, finished 5/11/07. I wish they all could go so quickly. I'd be through my stash in no time.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Trekking XXL #78

These are the socks I started while attending Norway Day on May 5th. I finished them on May 8th. This was a great pattern. The author is Miriam Felton and I found it at

I love the colors of this yarn. I bought it at The Mannings booth at Stitches West in February.

I think this is the 15th pair of socks that I have finished this year!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Norway Day 2007

This was the 15th year that Norway Day has celebrated Norwegian Heritage and Culture in San Francisco. Held the first weekend in May, I have attended quite a few. This year, all in all, was ok.

It was a beautiful day, clear and warm. The State Secretary of Norway, Liv Monica Stubholt, opened the festival.

Norway Day 2007 - Norwegian State Secretary Liv Monica Stubholt

The Board President, Arne Morkemo, can be seen in the background.

Held at Herbst Pavillion at Fort Mason, it's pretty much decorated the same year after year.

Norway Day 2007 - Norsk Pride

Unfortunately, the venue doesn't have the best acoustics or staging for showing films. However, they do try very hard to bring variety. There were food demonstrations...

Norway Day 2007 - Food Demostrations

I didn't write down this gentleman's name, but he was a representative from Norwill, a company that is providing traditional food from Norway. He gave a presentation on cured meat. Mmmm, tasty.

Also, there were several musical presentations, but the National Anthems of Norway and the United States are always performed by the Normanna Chorus.

Norway Day 2007 - Normanna Chorus

Also performing this year was Annette Munkeby, an accomplished saxophonist, that performed a number of pieces, including a few by Edvard Grieg. This year is the Centennial anniversary of his death. His pieces were never written to accommodate Saxophone, but Ms. Munkeby's arrangements were quite enjoyable.

There was also a first time presentation of Terje Vigen, a musical based on the poem by Henrik Ibsen. It is a one-man performance, performed by London West End Artist Andrew Bain. This is a minimalist stage production, as there is a film that runs through the performance. Mr. Bain "recites" the poem with the film as the backdrop. The music and arrangement of the poem was quite innovative, but the venue, as stated, is ill prepared for such things. The sun shining through the windows was so bright (yes, I know, rare in SF), it "overexposed" the screen, making the film virtually impossible to see.

The Daughters of Norway, a heritage and culturally society for women of Norwegian descent, had a few booths, and I was able to pick up something we haven't had for 7 years....

Kranse Kake

This is called Kranse Kake. Made from almonds, it is a "cake" made for festive occasions. It was a big hit when we had it at our wedding. This is a tiny one, but they are so rare to see, I had to have one. Kevin and I "toasted" on anniversary a month early Saturday night. It brought back a lot of good memories.

Just as a side note, I like beer. I like to have Norwegian beer when I attend Norway Day. There are several that are available. I heard they ship it in glass bottles even. However this year we had this:

Norway Day 2007 - German Beer?

German beer. Yes, I bought some. Had to have it with my Norwegian hot dog. However, when I bought it, there was a old-timer next to me who "voiced concern" that they were serving beer from "there". He was about the right age to remember what it was like during WWII, and a lot of those folks remember the German occupation only too well. There is some irony that German beer was the only beer available at Norway Day. Maybe I'll send the organizers a brief note reminding them that other options are available, including several micro-brews from San Francisco. I have nothing against German beer, but there are still a large number of attendees that incurred heavy losses during WWII. There is no reason to bring up such painful memories on such a festive occasion.

We also visited Fort Point before we headed home. The view was beautiful...

Small, Medium and Large

It's hard to see in this picture, but if you go to the Flickr page, you can blow it up. In the foreground, to the left of the sail boat, is a man in a teak row boat. It was quite a site - a row boat, a sail boat and a cargo ship. The rower didn't go as far as the anchorage, but he was still a site to see.

A post without knitting wouldn't be a post. I started a sock while at Norway Day. I had plenty of opportunities to sit and knit. During the food demonstrations and general musical performances - in other words, not during Terje Vigen - I worked on my Simple Trekking Sock. I was able to get this much finished during the day:

WIP - Simple Trekking Socks

Not too bad. I finished it this morning. Now to cast on the second sock.

Last but not least, what no California commuter ever wants to see:

Maze Madness

As seen from the overpass going from Emeryville to the the 24 west. This is the "melted" freeway that collapsed on 4/29/07. Kevin has to deal with it everyday, but luckily he works in Emeryville, so his impact is on the way home, which has been minimal. The bridge construction and repair history in the Bay Area has been dismal. However, it appears they are following the formula of Northridge Quake reconstruction, and the overpass may be repaired in as little as two months. That will be something to see.

That's all for now. Thanks for dropping by!

Knitting For Peace Messenger Bag

This thing is huge! That black and white thing that is laying at the top of the bag is a standard CD. It took about 840 yards of yarn, and, quite frankly, I am scared to death to felt it. Not because I think it won't shrink, but that it won't shrink enough.

When I came across the pattern in the book Knitting For Peace, I thought "what a cool idea". The yarn is a 100% wool from Norway, called Gjestal Naturspunn No. 1. It is in a Hunter Green. In the book, there are labels that you can scan and print onto iron on transfer paper. I have the transfer paper and muslin. I am pretty much set to complete this, I just have to get over this felting hurdle.

I started it sometime around New Year's and finished it on 5/4/07. Let's just say this hasn't been a pressing project.

Keep your fingers crossed that I will see the final results I am hoping for.

Opal in Garter Rib

I don't remember exactly when I bought this yarn, but it's been a long time. Well, long enough. Maybe 3 years? In any case, I have been wanting to knit a pair of socks using the book Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. Not only was I very successful- these fit like a dream - but they were quick. I started these on 4/29/07 and finished them on 5/3/07.

My husband was going to have an out patient procedure on the 30th, so I was able to work on these while listening to my iPod in the waiting area. Lime N Violet, Brenda Dayne and the boys at Mice Cast kept me company for part of the time. I am sure there were some people that thought I was a little nutty since I couldn't help but laugh out loud a few times.

I finished the first sock in less than 24 hours. The second sock took an additional 3 days! I used Opal, in the color Mosiak. I wish they had pooled differently, but you can't have everything.

Child's French Sock

I started these on 4/17/07 and finished them on 4/29/07. I knitted another pair of socks between the first and the second sock of this pair. The pattern source is Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush - I love this book! The yarn is a "vacation purchase". I purchased this in Idaho falls at the Yarn Connection when we were visiting the In-Laws last Thanksgiving. I also bought yarn for a hat and scarf to match, though those skeins are from two different companies. I don't usually do pink, but the ensemble is going to be quite nice. This yarn is Wildfoote in the color Sonatina. The pattern was easy to remember, and the instructions were thorough and easy to follow. I wear a size 7 shoe, and there was very little yarn left over.