Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

 Another year bites the dust.   Hope your new year is terrific.

Note:  The picture links to all my 2007 photos... all 340+ of them.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Knit discussion groups

The first time I subscribed to a knit list was in the 1990s, the "original" KnitList when it was still on IForgetWhat dot edu.  Since then the explosion of discussion groups is truly impressive and full of learning opportunities, friendships made, feelings hurt, and snore-inducing detritus.

Now there is Ravelry, which is shaping up to be the most innovative social knitting web site ever.  They, Casey and Jessica, deserve the Newcomers award this year.

Since this is the time of year for reflection, I think now would be a good time to recognize Joan Schroeder, who has been a member of knit discussion groups for a long time.  She has been giving, giving, giving, generously for years.  She is a tireless teacher.  She is never rude and always offers technical help.  I can't think of anybody else who has as generous a head and heart as Joan.  And... she has one of the corniest senses of humor around :-)

And, lest I sound too syrupy, this is my top 10 pet peeves about knitting lists, a list of knit discussions I never want to read again....

  1. Knit for significant other curse.
  2. I'm sick.... Thanks, I'm better.
  3. My family member is sick.  Here's the hourly update.
  4. I cross posted to 4 lists telling why I'm depressed.
  5. Me too, I hate/love whatever - short, useless msg.
  6. Coy flirting for the entire group to read ...
  7. My knitting wasn't appreciated by the recipient.
  8. Somebody told me not to knit in church, a class, a meeting, etc.
  9. I knit in the Dr's office.  Let me tell you all the gory details.
  10. I don't have anything to say about knitting, but....
  11. Asking an interesting question and not summarizing the answers.

Monday, December 24, 2007

So long Oscar Peterson

So long, Oscar.  You were one of the greatest musicians of my time.  What hands you had!


I got this picture from here and here, and I heard about his passing here.


20071224 Persy and Sock toesI can knit socks, have knit many pairs of socks, but I am being humbled by the Cat Bordhi socks.  I've switched to the Riverbend master pattern because the Coriolis pattern didn't show the spiral very well in this yarn. 

I've discovered that gauge is really very important on toe up socks, especially the row gauge.  Because... the arch expansion starts at a point where increasing every third row will yield the right number of stitches at the top of the instep.  If you have too few rows per inch, then the sock will be too long when the increases are finished, too many rows per inch and they'll be too short.  If you tell your calculator that you get 13 rows per inch, but you really only get 10, then you will have 1.3 inches in 13 rows instead of 1.  And it's all different after washing....  So, get you rows-per-inch gauge right! 

The Riverbend pattern has the increases on the bottom of the foot.  Some other blogger (forget who?) spoke about putting the gusset on the bottom of the foot.  It's a cool way to leave the top for a pattern.  In this yarn, the color is enough.

Friday, December 21, 2007

On Vox: A Free Life

View Diane in Chico, CA�s Blog

Ha Jin is a fine writer. The first book of his that I read was War Trash, which I recommend.This one, A Free Life, is also good. It's a Chinese Immigrant's version of "the grass is always greener on the...

� Read more on Vox

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Knitting Daily's Grafting on the Needles

I copied all of the following from today's Knitting Daily blog post.  Thanks, Sandi Wiseheart!  (If you copy this from me, don't forget to give Sandi credit.)

Grafting On The Needles

Step 1: Knit your socks to the point where the instructions tell you to graft together the final stitches.
Step 2: Divide the remaining stitches evenly between two double-pointed needles.
Step 3: Hold both needles parallel in your left hand, so that the working yarn is on your right, and is coming off the rightmost stitch on the back needle.
Step 4: Cut the working yarn to a reasonable length, say, 12".
Step 5: Using a third dpn, PURL the first stitch on the FRONT needle.
Step 6: DROP the stitch off the left front needle, and pull the yarn all the way through the dropped stitch so that there is no longer a stitch on the right (working) needle.
Step 7: KNIT the next stitch on the FRONT needle, but this time LEAVE the stitch on the left front needle; pull the yarn all the way through as before.
Step 8: KNIT the first stitch on the BACK needle.
Step 9: DROP the stitch off the left back needle and pull the yarn all the way through.
Step 10: PURL the next stitch on the BACK needle.
Step 11: LEAVE that stitch on the left back needle and pull the yarn all the way through.

Repeat Steps 5 through 11 until you get to the last two stitches; work these two stitches together as established and drop both stitches off the needles. Pull the yarn all the way through. Thread yarn onto a tapestry needle, bring yarn to inside of sock, and weave in ends, tacking down the last "ear" loops as needed. (You can pull any excess loopage to the inside to make tacking it down a bit prettier.)

I made up a little shortcut chant for Nicholas to help him remember what to do when:


PURL FRONT OFF � purl first st on front needle, drop st off
KNIT FRONT ON � knit next st on front needle, leave st on
KNIT BACK OFF � knit first st on back needle, drop st off
PURL BACK ON � purl next st on back needle, leave st on

Hopefully Helpful Hints:
Keep your tension a bit on the loose side when you are pulling the yarn through each stitch. Then, when you get to the end, before you weave in the end, use your tapestry needle to adjust the tension of the grafting stitches so that they match the rest of your work. When you are working your knits and purls, pass the working yarn under and between the two left needles, not over them.

Cabin Fever

I spent the entire day, almost, playing on the Internet.  This pattern, Spring Breeze, looks like a good use for some of the cotton yarn I have piled up around here....


Only I think I would do cap sleeves instead of the short sleeves shown here.  The nice thing about Cabin Fever is that they like top down, seamless styles.  Lovely, no sewing :-)

Right or Left Brain?


I was about 55% right brained and 45% left brained, preferring nonverbal communication on both sides of the brain.  Click on the image to take the test yourself.

20071219 Knitivity Sock Yarn

There are no Spiral Coriolis socks in this zip lock bag... only yarn that has been rewound because I messed up trying to knit one sock with needles different than the other. Knitter's Logic told me it would be okay....

Oh, well.

Christmas is only ...


... six days away!  I think I'm ready, maybe.

This year we bought a little live tree, a grand fir.  It's shorter than I am, but it smells like a Christmas tree is supposed to smell.  We bought some (probably made-in-China) preservative which is working - you put treated water in the holder and wait a couple of days, then you re-fill the holder and add some little crystals which turn into jelly-like, water-absorbent things that keep the tree wet for weeks.

Monday, December 17, 2007

WSJ Talks About Sock Wars - Sock It to Me: Competitive Knitters Get Deadly Serious* This article will be available to non-subscribers of the Online Journal for up to seven days after 12/17/2007.

I can't believe the Wall Street Journal is spending ink, paper, and online bandwidth to talk about the knitting world's "Sock Wars".  Amazing!

... and the article mentions Ravelry.  W00t!

Speaking of socks, I ripped out my Coriolis socks because I knitted two socks with needles made by different manufacturers (Addi Turbo and Knit Picks Harmony)... and, of course, they were not the same size.  The sock made with Addis was bigger than the one done on Harmony needles, even though they appears to be the same circumference.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


You've heard of HTML, maybe you've heard of XML.  Now there is KnitML!

The KnitML web page explains that KnitML is a markup language which aims to standardize knitting patterns.  That means any software application, web page, etc., could read KnitML and render it for users.  This is an example sock pattern written in KnitML.  It's about as easy to read as a regular sock pattern, I think.  But you wouldn't be reading KnitML, you would be reading your native language (English for me).

Right, it can be an international standard.  Patterns can be displayed in any language (English, French, German, Spanish, etc.), as long as you have software that can understand KnitML and display patterns in the desired language.  A person could export a KnitML pattern from his German software and send it to somebody in Mexico who would import it into her Spanish language software.  Cool!

Standardized charts are part of the plan.  You could see either a pattern in words or a chart, or both, depending on your preference.  Oooooo, me likey!

These patterns could be stored in databases and searched.  Ooooh cool!  The folks at Ravelry will want to hop on this right away :-)

Geeky types will love this :-)

If Ravelry can get off the ground, then this markup language can fly too.  All it takes is a small team of people willing to work work work work.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men: **** Very Good

no-county-old-men No Country For Old Men is a movie about a villain, a psychopathic killer who feels no guilt and who decides whether or not to kill some people based on the toss of a coin.  The psychopath is played to beastly perfection by Javier Bardem (pictured left).

There are other cast members - the good guys.  Josh Brolin is a Vietnam vet who finds $2M in drug money while he is out hunting.  The psychopath is hired to find and retrieve the money, so there is a cat and mouse game (more like two pit bulls) between the man trying to keep his found money and the man trying to retrieve it.  The movie is set in 1980, so $2M is worth more than it would be today.

Tommy Lee Jones (I love Tommy Lee Jones!) is the sheriff trying to stop the crime wave that litters the path of the psychopath.  The sheriff is old, and crime has escalated and changed so much that he's thinking maybe it's time for him to get out of the business of keeping the peace. 

All the parts are well acted - every single one of them is well acted.

There is much more to this movie than simple violence, but it is rated R for violence and violence is at the core of it.  Even so it didn't depress me.  I recommend it either on the big screen or on DVD.  If you see it on the big screen you get to enjoy the Texas landscape, but the goriness of of the film is larger than life.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Knit Picks Harmony Circular Needles

I like smooth needles that yarn slides over easily.  If you've ever listened to Brenda Dayne's Cast-On podcast, you are familiar with the sound effect that goes with Addi Turbos - kind of like an electronic mark of Zorro.  I like needles that go like lightning, and I have several types that suit my fancy... Addi Turbos and Knit Pick Options are among my favorites.  Nice, smooth metal needles with good joins on circular needles.

But, those Knit Picks Harmony Wood needles are so pretty that I was charmed into buying some to try on my latest pair of socks.  The Harmony needles come in US size 0, so I ordered a couple of circulars to try.  They have nice sharp-but-not-too-sharp points and good joins.  I started using the Harmony needles on my toe-up Coriolis socks by Cat Bordhi.  After about a week, I gave up and started using my Addi's again.  The Harmony needles are just not slippy enough for me, and neither are the cables.  I was pushing and shoving the yarn around, and my hands and shoulder were beginning to complain more than normal.

Brenda's Addi Turbo sound effect could be a sigh of relief as far as I'm concerned!

But, if you like needles with some drag, the Harmony needles might work for you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

No Knitting, no pictures

Here are some of the things that looked interesting to me on the WWW this morning...

Have a nice day!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

December garden update

Those of you living in places where it snows, please allow me to remark on my California weather.  It has been sooo cold (about 29F when I got up this morning).   


The new orchid plant is a brave little thing.  It's hovering next to the house with a sheet around it.  Even so it's making beautiful blooms.

The little maple tree is making nice color.  I can't remember when it has been this bright! 

The roses are finished.  There is one pink rose.  Surely this is the last. 

... and the Mexican sage is beautiful, but it's growing sideways instead of up because it had to lean so far out to get sunshine during the Summer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ravelry has a wiki


I learned something new tonight.  Or re-learned; maybe I'd forgotten.  Ravelry has a wiki... and there are errata within!  For example, there is a link to corrections for Cat Bordhi's New Pathways For Sock Knitters, Book One in the book errata page.  (Yikes, there is a correction for the master math I just went through!)

The Ravelry wiki has many lists of links to useful information on the web.

Right now, in beta, Ravelry's search facilities are limited, but I'm assuming that will improve with time.  Eventually you should be able to search Ravelry like you can search the web with Google.  I haven't seen any promises, but it's a pretty obvious requirement.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Don't go to an emergency room

If you don't like swear words, skip this post.

I thought twice about writing this on Tailfeathers, because blog ranting is like masturbating in public, but what the hell, there are only a handful of people that read Tailfeathers on purpose.

I made several mistakes:

  1. I traveled without my favorite cold pills - the ones with pseudoephedrine that really do a good job of drying up a cold sufferer's head.
  2. I caught a cold on a Friday in Oregon.  Oregon requires a person to have a fucking prescription for cold medicine containing effective decongestants.
  3. I tried an over the counter remedy on Saturday.  It didn't work.  I was miserable.
  4. I checked with the neighboring state, Washington, to see if I could just pop over the border and pick up some good pills.  No, WA wants a prescription too.
  5. By Sunday, I was ready to give up and visit a doctor for a prescription.  Oops, the only open medical help in the small town of Seaside, OR, on Sunday is the hospital.  I was desperate, so I went, and I got a prescription and a piece of their minds about how stupid the legislation is that requires the prescription.

My head dried up and I was able to enjoy the rest of my vacation.  I was happy.  Then I got the bill... $693 so a doctor could look up my nose and chat about Oregon's political/drug situation.  My insurance paid NOTHING because I have a deductible which has not been met.

I sent a check for $100 and suggested the hospital write off the balance.  I got a phone call from the hospital.  "So sorry, we cannot write off that much, but we can write off $193 if you send us a check for $400 right away."  In the end I paid a total $500 for a prescription for cold pills.

So, unless you are dying, I suggest you find ANY other way to get medical help besides going into a hospital emergency room.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Two Romantic Comedies

Enchanted Poster Dan In Real Life Poster Dan in Real Life: *** Good.

Enchanted: *** Good.

The two most recently seen movies are both good fun, but not life changing.

First Dan.  This is the more adult of the two movies.  Steve Carell is a lovable sad sack and Juliette Binoche is very romantic, but maybe she's a little too sophisticated for this part.  There is a large supporting cast and most of the action takes place at a family holiday.  Most of the time I couldn't tell which children went with which parents, and which adults were part of which couple.  I think you can wait for this one on DVD.

Then Enchanted.  This one is visually very bright, so it's worth seeing on the big screen - even in the megaplex theaters where they turn the sound up way too loud.  Maybe they turn up the sound to drown out the noise of children saying they have to go pee "right now."

Part of Enchanted is done in animation and part in regular people acting.  There is singing, and it turns out that Amy Adams, the Princess, does her own good singing.  Ms Adams is perfect here, just perfect.  Enchanting, even.  Patrick Dempsey, of Gray's Anatomy fame, is the man who saves the Princess when she is sent to New York by the Evil Witch of a Step Mother, played by Susan Sarandon.  There are many jokes for those of us who grew up with Walt Disney films... talking forest animals, poisoned apples, trolls, glass slippers.  This one is rated PG, but I can't imagine why.  It seemed pretty G-like to me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Spiraling Master Coriolis Socks

There is so much to blog about.  The weather is great.  Bidwell Park is updating the par course.  Pictures uploaded today.

20071121 Whirlpool Toe with MarkersBut I want to talk about my new Cat Bordhi Spiraling Master Coriolis socks.  I'm still enjoying New Pathways for Sock Knitters Book One.  I did the first two practice socks and it's time to make a real sock.

I measured my foot and did the math to find my master numbers. (See Chapter 10, page 110, of the book.)  I asked at my yarn store for the markers that are companions to Bordhi's book and found out that the book is out way before the markers, so I ordered some markers from Hide and Sheep.  They are cute little markers and sized perfectly for small needles (and they were delivered quickly after the order on

The instructions, starting on page 59, say to do a Whirlpool Toe.  It's easy enough, but ... there's always a but ... The LRinc (right-leaning increase) is hard to do with blunt addi needles, old eyes, and dark sock yarn.  I decided not to suffer and did a bar increase, where you knit in the front and the back of the same stitch.  The bar doesn't show in this yarn and my sanity was saved.

The yarn being used is Knitivity sock yarn.  Good stuff.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Little Coriolis

20071115 Coriolis learning sock

This is the second learning sock from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters.  This one is done from the toe up, with a turned heel, heel flap, rolled top.

Doing the increases in a spiral around the sock is very interesting and attractive.  I think this is going to be my first grownup sized pair of socks.  There's a little note, almost an aside, in the instructions that says to tighten the cast on stitches at the toe before commencing to knit the sock.  That's very good advice.  I didn't follow this sage advice and if you look carefully at the toe you can see that the stitches are loose. 

It's a figure 8 cast-on.  The next cast-on in the book, page 22, Judy's Magic Cast-On, looks more promising.

What a fun book!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This blog's reading level

cash advance

I guess spending 30+ years writing programs instead of prose keeps one's writing style pretty simple.  On the bright side, the most popular knitting blog is also rated at elementary school level.  Can you guess who that is?

I don't have any knitting to talk about today.  I'm between projects and can't decide whether to start on socks or cat toys next... maybe both.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What, me SAD?

When I first heard about SAD, I thought it was a trendy excuse to whine (whinge, for you English folks).  Then I retired and moved a little more North where there is a little less light each day during Fall and Winter.  I've been a little more depressed during the low-light days for each of the last few years, and the Holidays have been particularly difficult.  God, how boring!

This Fall it started again, and I thought about it ...  In my previous working life I commuted 1 hour each way - 2 hours each day outside looking at scenery as I commuted over country hills to work in the software factory.  I wasn't particularly bothered by seasonal blahs.

 What if one spent an hour outside several days a week working  in the garden?  (I call it "playing in the garden".)  This time of year the camellias are very nice to watch, and there are leaves, lots of leaves, to rake.

I mentioned a book a few days ago, "Three Signs of a Miserable Job".  One of the recommendations for a good manager was to take a genuine interest in your employees.  What if I used that advice to take a genuine interest in my family and friends.  In other words, what if one spent less time thinking about themselves and more time thinking about others' well being?

So that's what I've been doing, and so far it seems to be working.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Wendsleydale Yarn from Ambleside

I bought this yarn on a vacation many years ago.  It's Creskeld Wensleydale Aran, 100% Pure New British Wool.  It was white when I bought it from Woolgatherers in Ambleside, Cumbria (U.K).

About a week ago I sent the yarn off to Ray at and asked him to make it a not-drab olive green.  He did a *wonderful* job!

Three Signs of a Miserable Job Recommended

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees)
by Patrick M. Lencioni

Read more about this title...


I checked this book out of the library last night and it's finished this morning.  Can you say "page turner"?

I have been unsatisfied in my job for a little while now and thought this book might help me understand why and how to fix it.  Click on the "Read more..." link above for more information about this book.

So here's what I learned.  I need to understand who I impact on my job (i.e., who are my customers?).  I need to get to know my co-workers better (take a genuine interest).  I need to know when I'm doing a good job by measuring something (e.g., how many smiles or laughs today?).  In other words, it's not about awards and money, but about every day work and the people you work with.

These three suggestions can apply to any area of my life, not just my job.

I recommend the book.  It's written in small words that anybody can understand.  The sentences are short.  The book is short (259 pages), with lots of white space.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Little Sky Sock

This little sock comes from Cat Bordhi's "New Pathways for Sock Knitters Book One".  It's the Little Sky Sock, my first learning sock.

It is knit from the top down.  The heel is turned.  It has a star toe.  I used 5 DPNs instead of my usual circular needles, just for fun and to see what her instructions looked like for DPNs.

The interesting thing is that there is no gusset in the traditional sense.  There is no picking up around a heel flap.  The increasing required to make the sock fit around the ankle is done at the top of the foot.

I confess I blindly followed the instructions and if I had to knit one of these without a pattern I couldn't do it.  Cat Bordhi's mind must be an interesting place for the sock fairies to flit around in!

Many more of her socks will be required before I will absorb this "sockitecture".

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another beautiful Fall day

This morning's walk in the park was beautiful.

(Click on the photo to view today's pictures, taken in Lower Bidwell Park, in flickr.)

Into The Wild

Into The Wild: **** Very Good


Chris McCandless graduated from college and then went on a spiritual journey, leaving his unhappy family behind.  He read Thoreau, among others, so he had a romantic vision of living in the wild.

He carried his quest for freedom and being with nature to Alaska.  He met people along the way and had one adventure after another, some pleasant, some not.  He ditched his identity and became Alexander Supertramp.  One time he asked at a government office about kayaking down the Colorado River.  When asked about his experience, he said he had not much.  The officer told him he needed a permit, and the next opening was twelve years away, unless he went with a professional tour company.  ... he bought a kayak and went down the Colorado all by himself, and then he floated all the way to Mexico.

Eventually he ended up in Alaska where he was planning to live off the land, alone and in touch with nature, moment by moment.  What he discovered was that Happiness is meant to be shared, and that he was lonely.  He failed to get out of the Alaskan wilderness, which seems like a waste of a courageous young man who had learned an important truth.

PS:  Great Scenery

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Michael Clayton

Michael Clayton: **** Very good

michaelclaytonposterMichael Clayton (George Clooney) is an experienced lawyer with a big firm in New York.  Instead of litigating, he fixes messes for his clients and he's good at it.  He calls himself a janitor.  His life is full of personal problems and he is unraveling, and there doesn't appear to be much he can do about it.

There's a big class action law suite.  There is skullduggery.  There are hypocrites, crazy lawyers, rich people, not rich people, people with addictions, killers, and heroes.

It's a great story, well told.  I recommend it on the big screen.  Clooney is wonderful; Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Sydney Pollack - all great.

It's rated R for language and some sexual dialogue, but I sure didn't notice it.  I don't think it should have been rated R.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Typepad, Fall, Google Reader

I've been having trouble reading my posts in Google Reader lately, so I sent a request for help to the lovely people at Typepad.  They wrote back in a timely fashion.  Oops it was their problem and it should be fixed now.

So this is a test to see if my post shows nicely formatted in Google Reader.

Here are a few pictures I took Sunday morning.  Fall is fine in Chico!

20071021 Cramer Lane

20071021 Leaves at the dam

20071021 Persimmon

20071021 Tree Farm Pistachios

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Make it legal

This article is in yesterday's local paper.  It was interesting to me because I live nearby.  Terrific, huh?  If marijuana were legal there would be less motive for robbery.  If guns were unavailable, maybe the robbers would not have had the nerve to do the robbery.

Pot taken in motel robbery, one arrest made

By E-R staff

Article Launched: 10/17/2007 12:51:53 PM PDT

Chico police are investigating an armed robbery with a shot fired at the Deluxe Inn, 2507 The Esplanade, just after 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Two motel guests said three men pushed their way into their room and robbed them of marijuana.

Two of the suspects, described as black male adults, reportedly wore ski masks and brandished hand guns.

The third had his face uncovered and was identified as Marcus Phillip Drake, 19. Police located Drake early this morning and placed him under arrest on suspicion of armed robbery.

The other two suspects escaped and are still being sought by police.

As the suspects were leaving the motel, one of the victims began fighting with a suspect in the parking lot. The alleged robber fired a round at the man, but missed.

The marijuana is believed to be the motive for the robbery, police said.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call Chico police at 897-4900.

We need more good news in Chico and less of this.  This is why I pay for an alarm system on my house, and it sucks that I feel like I have to.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fixing Edge Stitches with Andre Previn

I downloaded a classic (1956) album from iTunes this morning:  My Fair Lady by Shelly Manne and His Friends.  The lead friend is Andre Previn.  What a terrific album!!!  While listening to it I was catching up on my Google Reader.  Note:  if you play music loud enough in the head phones you can't hear the cat whining about breakfast, which it isn't time for for another hour.

One of the blogs I subscribe to is TECHknitting, which you might guess is a technical blog devoted to knitting techniques.  What makes it so good is her illustrations.  For example, today's post is about fixing stitches that have dropped on the edge of a piece.  I have never seen such a good explanation and now feel I could fix dropped edge stitches if they occur again.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Let Fall Begin

20071014 Aspen at Deer CreekYes, we do have seasons in California!  This picture was taken about an hour East of Chico in Northern California's Lassen National Forest.

20071014 Lassen Mtn from Lake AlmanorWe drove to Lake Almanor, Chester, and Lassen National Park.  Snow has already closed the road through Lassen NP.  (Mt. Lassen pictured.)


Let the season begin!

20071014 Fall at Mill Creek near Lassen 

Above: Mill Creek, near Lassen National Park.

20071014 Aspen Leaves 

Above: Holy Aspen Leaves, Batman!

20071014 Let the season begin 

Above: Preparing for a beautiful Fall in Chico, CA.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hooded cape is finished

20071011 Hooded Cape Hood DownHere it is, the finished Hooded Cape.  It's extremely warm, so I can't wear it until the house begins to feel like the inside of a refrigerator this winter.

20071011 Hooded Cape Hood Up



The pictures were taken by Joanne at Heartstrings Yarn Studio in Chico, CA.  She's a peach of a LYS owner who treats her customers well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I can has Ravoolree?

Franklin's wonderful cartoons are always timely.  For example....

Ravelry is amazingly popular and can suck up a knitter's (or crocheter's) time.  This week I learned that you can subscribe to various forums and the discussion topics will show up in your reader - I use Google's Reader.  All you have to do is display one of the forums you are interested in and click on the "RSS" button to start a subscription.

There are still many thousands of people waiting to get on the Ravelry band wagon.  I hope their fancy new servers can handle traffic!

Have a nice day, y'all.  I'm off to work later and then my local knitting group meets tomorrow afternoon.  I'm going to ask the shop owner to take pictures of me in my finished hooded cape, so photos will appear soon.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Out Stealing Horses


Out Stealing Horses Cover I just finished a good book: Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson.  It was translated from Norwegian by Anne Born.  The book has won prizes.  I heard about it in a Sacramento Bee article (newspaper).

It's written from the perspective of a man in his late 60s or his teens depending on which time his mind is in at the moment.  His words and descriptions are beautiful and straightforward.

As a knitter I was taken with this paragraph:

"... and the mittens and the woollen scarf I have worn round my neck for at least twenty years, which someone knitted for me when I was a single and divorced man, and now I cannot recall her name, but I remember her hands from the time we spent together; they were never still.  Apart form that she was still and discreet in her ways; only the click of her knitting needles could be heard through the silence, and it was all too low-key for me, and the relationship dwindled quietly into nothing."

The knitted love lasted longer than the human relationship.  I wonder if this is another instance of the famous wives' tale that says if you knit for a lover before a commitment has been made, the relationship will end.  I wonder what her recollection of the relationship would be, or if she even remembers him.

That's all there is about knitting in the book.  It's a terrific book about aging, the complex relationships we have with our parents, and how our memories of childhood are with us for a lifetime.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hooded Cape Progress

20071004 Hooded CapeYes, I have been knitting, just not blogging about it.  Here is the in-progress picture of the hooded cape.

It's a very easy project, and the yarn is soft and warm... very warm.

Pattern:  Plymouth Hooded Cape N011
Yarn: Baby Alpaca Grande

The pattern is about one page, but I think they gave away some clarity to make it fit on one page.  Here is a part of the pattern:

"... Next Row: Dec 1 st before each marker - 264 sts.  Work 11 rows st st.

Next Row: Dec 1 st after each marker (242 sts.  Work 11 rows st st.

Decreasing alternately before each marker in one decrease row and after each marker in the next, repeat decrease rows every 10th row twice (198 sts), every 8th row twice (154 sts), every 6th row twice (110 sts) every 4th row once (88 sts)."

The paragraph beginning "Decreasing alternately" threw me.  It looked to me like I would be knitting 11 rows, and then knitting 9 more rows before the next decrease row... 19 rows between one decrease row and the next.  I changed it to be more like "... [decrease row, work 9 rows] twice (198 sts)...", and so forth.

What threw me was they were so specific in the beginning and then they just lumped the rest of the cape into one paragraph.  And!  there was no schematic to tell me how long it should be, so I couldn't even use the row gauge to figure out how many rows should be in the cape.  I should have read the pattern before purchasing.  Whatever.  It worked out.

Another change I made was in the hood.  The pattern called for a pointy headed hood.  I added decreases in the center of the back of the hood to round it out.

A while ago I made a resolution to follow a pattern.  Well, not this time.  Maybe next time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Brave One

The Brave One: *** (Good)

TheBraveOne I wouldn't necessarily call this a good movie.  I felt a little slimy after seeing it, because this is a movie that is pro-vigilantism. 

Jodi Foster and her fiance, Naveen Andrews from "Lost", are victimized by a gang.  The gang beats the fiance to death and leaves her for dead as well.  And... they steal her dog, a beautiful German Shepherd who did nothing to protect them during the assault.  I knew this was going to happen, so it was hard to watch them walk into Central Park the night of the assault.  They were so happy....

Terrence Howard plays the detective who is trying to solve some vigilante killings.  Since she is the vigilante, their paths cross and the interaction between them is the majority of the movie.

Foster and Howard are good, good actors.

This is violent movie (R for violence) that is also good, but you have to be in the mood (once again) to see people blown away.

This has been a violent fall movie season so far!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

3:10 To Yuma

3:10 to Yuma: *** (Good)

310ToYuma Today's movie was an old fashioned western shoot 'em up, with good vs. lots of evil.  Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are fine to watch, both good actors and I believed their character portrayals.

I can't count the number of people who were brutally gunned down or blown up during the 117 minutes running time.  Too many.  The R rating for violence is well-deserved.

The story is about a bad man and his gang (Russell Crowe and friends), a good man and his family (Christian Bale, etc.), a bounty hunter (Peter Fonda!), and various other good and bad people.  It starts out showing just how bad the bad men are and just how regular the good man is.  The bad man is captured and most of the interesting part of the movie is when the good man & co. must escort the bad man to prison.

The Arizona scenery was nice :-)

If you are in a mood to watch over-the-top violence and good acting, then go see it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pink Martini


They are good.  Go see them.  Buy their music.  Visit their web site.

J and I went to see them in person at Laxon Auditorium.  J has their "Hey Eugene" album and it's a lot of fun.  In person they are even more fun.  They are excellent musicians.  They can play just about anything.

We will go see them again if we can.  We are lucky they stopped in Chico.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Seaside, OR Vacation

We had a great week in the area around Seaside, OR.  The pictures are here.  I'll be adding comments to the pictures later, but maybe the titles in flickr will be enough for now.

20070911SeasideBalcony  20070911SeasideView

Here is our World Mark resort.  Our apartment was the one pointed to by the white arrow (first photo), and our view (second photo) was just fine.  For most of the week the weather was overcast, but it rained only one day.  Neither of us used the pool, spa or other amenities, and neither of us got wet in the ocean.  The kitchen in our unit was small but serviceable.

Most days we took a morning walk on the promenade bordering the beach.  It's a nice way to start the day... level, salt air, sounds of the ocean, gardens, wild flowers and shore birds.

We saw some Lewis and Clark history (Fort Clatsop, Seaside Saltworks, L&C canoo landing spot).

We saw a water fall (Youngs River Falls).

We saw some history at Fort Stevens State Park (Peter Iredale wreck, WWII Bunkers).

We saw a light house (Cape Meares).

We went on a walking tour in Portland, OR... we ate our way through the Pearl District for 4 hours - very nice.

Speaking of eating, we had lunches out most days at some nice restaurants.  If you don't count the food on the walking tour in Portland, I think the best food we had was at the Heron and Beaver Pub in the Shelburne Inn in Long Beach, WA.  Of course, the ice cream in Tillimook was fine.

Books were read.  Movies were watched. No knitting was done, but I did manage to find a skein of sock yarn at Creative Beginnings in Seaside (nice store with a friendly cat).

Okay, what's the next vacation?

PS:  One day, the day that it rained, I was sick with a cold.  Both Oregon and Washington states require a prescription in order to get effective cold pills (the ones with pseudoephedrine). Phooey. Blast those meth dealers! � and blast the legislators for thinking that requiring a prescription for cold tablets will stop the meth business! I heard from the people in the hospital emergency room (only med service open on Sunday in Seaside, Or) that meth now comes primarily from Mexico, and that the meth being produced in Oregon is now made with a substitute for pseudoephedrine � something more dangerous to use (blows up a lot), and more harmful to users. Stupid meth dealers. Stupid legislators.  Poor cold sufferers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

House prepped for cats

Read on if you are interested in how cats are spoiled; otherwise, move along, there's nothing here for you today.

I'm always so proud when the top of my desk shows some wood - it's usually covered in paper, knitting, etc.  So, I went around taking pictures in the house today and decided to picture all the ways we spoil the cats.

Here's the slideshow (made at

So the tally is: Three covered chairs, one covered love seat, a window seat, four scratching posts/boards/mats,  five heated cat beds, one expensive pagoda, towels in dining room and bedroom, two litter boxes, four feeding stations, and lots of kitty love.

Michelle, the pet nanny, keeps it all in order while we are gone.  We told the kitties she's coming but they are not impressed.  They know the suitcases are not a good sign.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Death At A Funeral

Review on Rotten Tomatoes Death at a Funeral: *** Good

A predictable British comedy.  Even though you know ahead of time what's going to happen, you laugh, well at least smile, when it does happen.

The only surprise in the film (for me) was the part played by Peter Dinklage, the short guy on the left in the poster.  Dinklage has been working quite a bit lately, and I always like his characters.

Another one of my favorites was Alan Tudyk, who played the pilot in the TV series Firefly.

The rest of the characters were familiar and welcome faces from British television.

I won't spoil it for you by saying what happens.  You can wait for this one on DVD, but seeing it in the theaters is good too.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

ALA Read Posters

Link to ALA

Wouldn't this look good in our Young Adult section of the Butte County Library?  Hmmm?

Things like this are sold by the American Library Association, bless their pointy little heads.

... and then Pat suggested this one :-)

Margaret Cho Read