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Archive for June, 2008

Fever Cured!

OK, I will admit it. After a long spring that gave us worse weather than winter, and a June (aka “Junuary”) that gave us days when it was colder here than in Siberia, I had come down with a pretty bad case of Island Fever. Pair that with my decision not to drive down to Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon, and I was feeling pretty bummed. So I decided that since DH would be at fire officer school all weekend, I would go on an adventure. Though I am starting my third year in the PNW, I had yet to explore Pike Place Market and downtown Seattle, so Saturday was the day.

The market was an easy drive and there’s a great lot nearby where you can park all day on Saturday for $9 if you get in before 9:30. I took the 8:00 ferry and clocked into the parking a little after 9:00. It was fun to get there early and watch the market come to life.

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I was so amused by some of the signs. This one is for a little cheesecake shop.

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This guy was fascinating and seemed to understand quite a bit about cat behavior. He runs a cat shelter and all donations go to the shelter.

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This is the market mascot.

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My personal favorite. I kept wondering where the UNsanitary market was!

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I couldn’t resist the Piroshky Bakery. I had an apple-cranberry piroshky and it was still hot!!!! Oh my goodness was that ever good! It was a roll, just ever so slightly sweet, stuffed with a finely chopped apple/cranberry compote. The thing was huge but I seemed to have no trouble eating the whole thing!

I managed to find (not that it was hiding!) the original Nordstrom store. It has four or five floors of shopping plus several more floors housing the corporate offices. Interesting to me, because I worked at a Nordstrom store in a previous lifetime. But my store was nothing like this one! The Seattle store carries a lot of super-high-end merchandise, the likes of which we never saw in Freehold. My favorite was a table of purses, tossed there like they were yesterday’s produce. All on clearance. I saw a bag that would have made an awesome knitting bag. I think the label was Valentino. $2,500 marked down from $3,750! Pretty amusing! I also saw the first-ever Starbucks. So much for Seattle pop-history! But I was having fun playing tourist and taking pictures of all of it.

After several hours, the hustle and bustle of the city became annoying to this hermit. Time to head to Weaving Works! So I drove up the black diamond ski trail roads that lead from the waterfront market back to the highway. If anyone knows a way to get out of the area without having to drive up roads so steep that there should be a rope tow for manual transmission vehicles, please let me know!

Weaving Works was a nice stop for someone still a little sad about not being at Black Sheep. I was able to get my fiber fix and pick up a few goodies – two sock patterns, 6 ounces of merino/silk roving that I want to spin for socks, a cone of 5/2 white cotton for weaving, and a set of Lantern Moon Sock Stix, size 2. Can’t wait to use those little beauties on my next SOS project!

So that was my big adventure, and I am happy to settle back into my quiet island home. I’ll leave you with one last photo.

Neat, huh? Wish I had a spot to hang one!

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I took my First Sock on an adventure today:

More details tomorrow!

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Summer of Socks 2008 starts at 12:01AM June 21, so I decided to gather all my sock yarn in a basket. Old, new, solid, hand painted, wool, cotton – all snuggled together in one place.

Wow! That’s a lot of knitting, and once all that yarn becomes socks, I have no idea where I will keep them all – my sock drawers are already packed! Maybe I will have to put them back in the basket.

Want a closer look?

See that ball of yarn – it looks kind of autumn-ish? That’s where I am starting. It’s a STR heavy weight, and I don’t know what the color is called because it is an un-named mill end. I am going to knit the Blueberry Waffle pattern. With 54 stitches on size 3 needles, these should go pretty quick. Let’s just hope I don’t have all the errrrr…….”issues” that I had with my last socks!

Sock on!!!

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Towels!

Here’s what they looked like right off the loom:

And here they are after a trip through the washer and dryer:

These are the ones that I like. I’m not showing you a close up of the really hideous yellow weft towel (but you can guess which one it is in the first photo) or the awful first one, which was teaching me how not to handle color changes while weaving plaid! Actually, that one doesn’t look too bad unless you look at the selvedges so I’ll use it, but the hideous yellow weft towel……well, it can be used to clean the countertops!

The towels are woven with 5/2 cotton from Webs, sett at 18 EPI for twill, which gave them a nice hand. I wove two as plaid, one with navy blue weft (which came out nice), one alternating navy and yellow (which isn’t anywhere near as ugly as the solid yellow), and the aforementioned solid yellow weft. In hindsight, I wish I had woven one with a solid white weft.

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And Two Make A Pair

Remember my Goldilocks Socks from a while back? Well, they are finally a pair.

Thank goodness! The fun continued as I found two bad spots in the yarn as I was knitting. No big deal – just meant I had a few more ends to take care of but, grrrrrr………. nonetheless! I’m really glad these are done. I also had a pooling vs striping issue which I mentioned in my Ravelry entry.
After I knit up my sock yarn stash, I’m going to have to rethink my sock habits. I’ve grown quite fond of pretty hand painted sock yarn, but two issues have emerged. The first, and most important to me, is that almost all of it is superwash merino. Recently, I’ve learned that the processing involved can be very chemical intensive and not environmentally friendly, not to mention that much of the processing is done in China. Three hot buttons for me: chemicals, environmental harm, and made in China. Therefore, I’ve decided that I will no longer be purchasing superwash merino. The second issue is consistency. The last two pair I’ve knit, from rather costly yarn that seems to be highly regarded in the knitting world, have striped on one sock and pooled on the other, and that just doesn’t seem right. It’s not that I care a whit about my socks matching, but I don’t really care for the way the pooled colors look. So I’m not sure where that leaves me. I can buy mass produced patterned sock yarn made by the “big guys”, which is virtually guaranteed not to pool and is not superwash, but I really prefer to support small business. Maybe I will just have to start dyeing my own! That is, if I can find non-superwash white yarn!

On another front, I baked bread again! This time I followed the recipe on the flour bag for plain ol’ white bread. I’ve decided that homemade, preservative free white bread is probably tons healthier than store bought whole grain bread with chemicals, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup. I’m happy to say that this bread is exactly what I’ve been after. Next time I’ll replace just a smidge of the white flour with whole wheat, add some seeds, and see what happens.

Those of you who don’t know me are probably wondering why I am so tickled about this whole bread thing. Well, before I moved out to the west coast, I was just about the most un-domestic female on the planet. I mean, I rarely baked or cooked anything! But for some reason, out here I am really enjoying making real food from real ingredients. So for me, making a decent loaf of bread is just about as thrilling as learning to spin!

The one thing I wasn’t liking about baking was rooting around in the flour bags to fill my measuring cups. After much hunting around, I finally found these wonderful jars for my flour.

They hold just under 10 pounds each, and the openings are nice and wide so I can fill and level off a full cup at a time, rather than measuring it by the 1/4 cup like I was doing with the flour bags.

It was a good day – I wove, I baked, I knit, I blogged. And I’ve been waiting for my friend in the prior post to come visit tonight, but I think I’ve been stood up!

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A Deer Friend

I’d like to introduce a new friend.

He’s just a big flirt. I was watching him graze, when he caught sight of me on the other side of the window. He sauntered right up to the house and we were practically nose-to-nose (through the glass), gazing into each other’s eyes. The camera didn’t bother him in the least – he even got used to the sound of the shutter. If you look at the size of his ears, you will see why I am certain he could hear the shutter click right through the house wall!

He continued to eat and wander. He came right up to the deck and I could tell he was really thinking about hopping up onto the breezeway, but he didn’t quite get brave enough. He did, however, sniff my pot of parsley! I wonder what will happen when I plant the rest of my herbs? Deer typically do not go after herbs, but somehow I don’t think this guy is a typical deer!

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Plaid!

Originally uploaded by hjaponi

This is my first attempt at weaving plaid. I have five yards of warp which is enough for several dish towels. I warped the full width of my loom, which is 22 inches, and the towels are coming out at 19 inches with draw-in on the twill pattern.

With the first towel I was at a total loss on how to handle all those ends for each color change. I didn’t want to overlap the yarn in the weaving as I thought all those little areas of double-thick weft would create a build up. So I tried carrying the ends up the side, catching them in each weft shot. That turned out to be very fiddly and quite ugly! I had just about decided to do all the rest of the towels with a single color weft when it finally dawned on me to go consult Deborah Chandler, who lives on my bookshelf in the form of my favorite weaving book, Learning to Weave. Like any good fiber artist, I have a ton of weaving books, but without fail I turn to Deborah whenever I have a problem. Kind of makes me wonder why I have all those other books taking up precious bookshelf space, but that is another question for another day. Anyway, Deborah showed me another way to handle the ends. I am changing colors at the edge (which I was doing before) but I am leaving about a one inch tail. Then I un-ply the two ply cotton and weave a single ply back into the same shed, leaving the other single ply hanging out the side. After the towels are washed, I will cut off all those little threads. This makes an almost invisible solution and results in no build up. So now I am happily weaving plaid towel #2.

Update on the bread – It was better than my previous attempts, but it still made for better toast than sandwiches. DH says I should try a loaf using only white flour, but using white instead of whole grain kind of goes against my grain! I do buy unbleached white flour, but I just don’t see the sense in stripping out the natural nutrition and then adding it back in artificially, so I use it sparingly in combination with whole wheat. The last loaf was a 50/50 mix, so maybe I will compromise a little and try 25% whole wheat/75% white flour next time.

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