My Friend Frank

Frank came to work for the agency 3 or 4 years ago.  I don't recall exactly.  As a new web administrator for the agency, he automatically became a member of our web team and was encouraged to attend SXSWi like many of us.  We got acquainted while waiting for panels and  started hanging out together picking panels and going to lunch with some of our coworkers and friends outside the agency who were also attending the conference. 

Frank is a great programmer.  But he is also an artist.  And a flyfisherman/fly-tyer, and a cattle rancher, and a grandpa, and he likes to read, a lot.  His wife's name is Frankie, (Frank & Frankie) which I think is the cutest thing in the world.  Frank was always a little curious about my knitting habit which I exercized through many a web team meeting.  He was especially curious about my sock-knitting as that was my preferred meeting project.  I tried to explain to him the joys of wearing hand knit socks.  One day I presented him with a pair of his own.  I guessed on the sizing, since it was a surprise, I didn't exactly want to measure his foot, but I think I got pretty darn close.  It seemed like every time I saw him, he had those wool socks on.  Not a little surprising since we are after all in Texas and I think I gave them to him in a warm part of the year, but I was the one who told him wool breathes and that I wore nothing but wool or at least hand knit socks. 

So, Frank kept asking me questions about knitting, how do you do this? or how do you know when to do that and how do you pick a yarn or a needle.  Well, as you may have suspected, Frank was on that slippery slope to becoming a knitter.  I think I've told people that I taught him, but honestly I don't remember teaching him to knit so much as handing him my Stitch N Bitch book, answering his questions and showing him a couple of things and, oh, maybe introducing him to the owner of a yarn shop.  He's made himself quite at home at The Knitting Nest, even if I don't go with him.

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Well, now I'm so proud of him that I want you all to know about him and take notice. He has done a hat, several scarves, for himself and as gifts. He wanted a felted sleeve for his fabulous new Netbook, so he figured his own pattern, and when the first one shrunk too much, he recalculated and knit and felted another one which was perfect!  Go look at the thing!  Then he came down to my office the other morning to show me his new mitts.  He found a pattern on Ravelry and made the pair in just 2 nights of knitting.  Y'all, this man is a Knitter.  And he is fearless.  He is this far away from knitting his own socks.  And besides all that, he's a really nice guy.  

You can find Frank in several places online, check him out at his blog:

Artistic License (and you can get his pattern for an Asus sleeve)

Also on Flickr

and Ravelry

and of course, Twitter.

His daughter Marguerite (Rete) is also a knitblogger and quilter and I met her when the Yarn Harlot came to town. 

Be sure and say hello to him sometime, I'm sure you'll run into him somewhere.

Taken to Task

I really haven't had a lot of time to blog lately.  The busy time of year at work AND I just had to volunteer to be the PTA Fundraising chair this year.  I cannot believe nobody warned me about this.  Ya know how sometimes you don't feel like blogging about knitting in particular, but something happens in the world that motivates you to post something to your blog and that urge is completely overwhelming and maybe not that well thought out?  Has it ever happened to you?  It happened to me.  And honestly I have been too busy to go back and try and make some sense of it all.  Well, then along comes a commenter who gets all bent out of shape about your position on say, Sarah Palin and they go off on you in the comments.  Well, I've been blogging for a while now and found it somewhat remarkable how civil almost ALL of my encounters have been with knitbloggers.  But I guess no community is free from those who think it's okay to come take a shit in your backyard, just because there's no fence around it and after all you have a dog.  Well, it IS my blog and I can say any thing I damn well please that does not cross legal bounderies AND considering how bad a mouth I have in person, I spare my blog visitors most of the time.  But I don't really care if someone who doesn't like my politics says they won't return to my blog again.  It's not like they have really engaged me before.  Or linked to me.  And as far as I know, this was her first visit. 

It's true that i should probably have made my edits to my last post more obvious, but I haven't had time and since I have all but stopped blogging since the spring, I don't have a lot of regular visitors anymore in the first place.  But it's true that the book list I published in the previous post was debunked by Snopes and has been passed all around the internets as a viral hoax, but forget the list – my original sentiment remains steadfast and potent.  If John McCain and Sarah Palin prevail in the upcoming election, we stand to lose more than anyone can imagine.  Have you read The Handmaid's Tale? Well, I can see it happening and all we have to do is be scared enough and gullible enough to pull the lever for the old white man and his idiot cheerleader and do it in the name of god, that's what they're counting on.  Don't like my politics, feel free to use the back button.  I don't have a problem with evangelicals.  I have a problem with anyone who tries to tell me, on my blog, I don't have a right to my opinions, or my voice or my lifestyle or anything else that our constitution guarantees all of us.  Even in a time of war.  Even in a time of financial crisis.  

I read an article the other day which gave me pause.  I had not heard of "White Privalege" before, but my husband had, he is far more widely and better read than I.  The premise to me is awful.  I thought we had come farther, but apparently not and even though I consider myself to be color-blind, I had to admit when I understood it that I had and perhaps still do benefit from it unknowingly.  I felt ashamed and yet, had no idea what to do about it.  Tom says he thinks we won't be past it till the generations who remember the civil rights movement are gone.  Young people do seem to be much more free of prejudice, I observed.  Tom said racism is learned behavior and that since it's not part of our laws anymore or part of our curriculum, the most likely place that kids get racism now is from their families. 

Where I am going with all of this is, well, in case you hadn't figured it out yet, I like Obama in the upcoming presidential election.  I think he's the most intelligent candidate we have had in maybe my lifetime.  I think he has tremendous integrity.  I am concerned that White Privilege might cost him the election and it makes me feel angry and helpless.  I am afraid that people can say "he seems sketchy to me" or "what do we really know about him" and get away with that being a sufficient reason to vote for McCain.  At least be honest.  If you want to know Obama, it's easy, read about him, listen to him, but don't act like we don't know this man who has been running for president for 2 damn years.  If you're white, think about your reasons.  Think about your background.  Think about the tapes from your youth, your past.  What really informs your decision?  Reason?  Or something else?  Because we really are overdue for some reason coming from our next president.

Anyone else want to tear me up?  Feel free – I only delete spam.

Yarn Tourism

Yarn_tourists One of the highlights of a business trip to Fredericksburg, TX was a trip to the local yarn store with three willing fellow employees who are also fiberists.  I had not been to Fredericksburg in a while except for a quick lunch with a group passing through.  It was nice to spend a bit more time there this time even though the bulk of my time was spent in meetings.

Stonehill_inside Stonehill_outside Stonehill Spinning is nice little shop – I love the architecture, but that was always one of my favorite things about the town.  They have a nice variety of yarns without too much novelty yarn.  There's a rug hooking room in the back.  The prices were reasonable.  I was able to buy two skeins of sock yarn I have not purchased before.  We all got something.

I had a free afternoon one day to drive around and photograph all the houses I have lived in in Fredericksburg, except for the trailer, the entire trailer park is gone now.  That shouldn't be a big surprise, the town has changed tremendously since I lived there in the early 80's.  But the business's all still close up early at night which is hard on folks that like to stay up late and party in the pool. Who knew that biologists and fisheries management folks could be so rowdy? 

This summer has been a little harsh. Some of the things I've had to deal with have been a serious drought, husband's kidney stone surgery, plumbing challenges, too many commitments.  This weekend rain is expected, Tom is feeling better, I fixed the big plumbing problem and some of my obligations have been lessened – so I am looking forward to the beginning of the new school year – even though I am the new PTA fundraising chair – and I am even going to brave the Tax Free Weekend to get Abby some new school clothes.  Things are starting to look better from here.  Tom is still looking for a teaching position, but he'll find one.

Bamboo Neckdown_cardi I'll close with my most recent FO's, and there is, as usual, more on the needles.  I have missed the blogging, but life or something just kept getting in the way.  I finished the Neckdown Summer Cardigan from Pure & Simple and a pair of socks in Regia Bamboo – my first bamboo project.

If by some chance you plan on attending SXSWi 2009, the panel picker is up and Stephen submitted a panel that will likely be of interest to crafters – and marketers – please vote for it and show them that crafters are a force to be reckoned with.

I met my next door neighbor on Ravelry!

Okay, the truth is, she lives 2 doors down rather than next door, but still, how amazing is that?  I got a message on Ravelry one day and the sender said, "I've been admiring your knitting and noticed that you live in Cedar Creek, we might be neighbors."  Well, once I emailed her back where I lived, we began to narrow down exactly where we lived in relation to one another and low and behold, she is only about 200 feet away!  And we arranged to meet one day at my house and Anna is absolutely delightful, though apparently blogless (for now).  I love her sense of humor and they have cats.  She's of my generation and has lived here almost as long as we have.  She works in Austin too and also works for a government, hers is Travis County. This Saturday I am dragging her to The Knitting Nest for the morning meet-up.  It's WWKIP Day on Saturday and there are several things planned in town, the big one being at the state capitol downtown, but our weather has been pretty hatefully hot and dry lately so we don't think we will make it to that, but we'll be there in spirit.  I can't believe I had to meet my neighbor via an international online community, but I am really glad that there is a way for us to find one another. (Note to self: Ravelry Tip Jar)  Anyone else find someone in their neighborhood through Ravelry?

Reaching This weekend, the grand-boy is coming for his first sleepover at the grandparents house!  I am excited and I hope Kandis and Rob have fun on their night out.  Here is a photo of Cooper (Rob holding him) reaching for Grandma – do you know how great that feels?  Yep, now if I can just get him to call me something – I don't care what, just so he means 'me'.  Boy, grandma's sure can be selfish.

I am trying out a new commenting system here on the blog, so feel free to comment, even if you don't have much to say 'cept what a cute grand-boy I have. And if you're local, I hope to see you this Saturday.

ETA: The comment experiment was a dysmal failure.  But I still like and encourage comments.  Let's see if I set it back in order properly.

All God’s Children Need Blankies

I don't even care if you don't believe in God, the fact is; 416 children have had their world turned upside down and who understands the comfort of a blankie better than knitters, crocheters and quilters?  Rete has proposed a plan and will act as a coordinator (she works for the CPS) to provide a hand-made blankie for every kid there.  This is one real way you can help these kids face whatever life and the state of Texas has in store for them.  I would like them to see that the outside world is not out to hurt them.  Warmth for all!

Update: Rete informs me that they may not go just to the FLSD kids, I still think I could crank one or two out pretty quickly.

Resuming Life as We Know It

German_sock SXSW is over.  Even the folks that came for the music have left.  They say the airport was busier than at Christmas time with everybody tryinHoody_pulloverg to leave at once.  Every year about the end of February I start hating my job and then SXSWi happens and I completely fall in love with my career all over again.  It never fails.   It is such an infusion of energy and expectation coupled with all the buzz of what is hot in technology and all the friendships made, renewed and deepend that I hit an overload point usually sometime before the last day.   I finished a pair of socks while sitting through all the panels.  I finished a sweater in the two days I took off to recover from SXSWi. 

Pattern: Hooded Pullover, Vogue Knitting, Fall 2005
Yarn: Marr Haven Mule Spun Worsted Wool, 6 skeins

100_2040_2  Stephen and I had a great time at the Knitting Nest last Monday night.  It was a small crowd, but it was relaxing.  He signed the Wall of Fame, and posed for some photos.  I'm looking forward to next year and I hope to be able to organize another knitters gathering and/or a craft panel at the conference that will beat the lame one they offered this year.

Abby and Tom have Spring Break this week, so the train wreck getting out of the house in the morning is considerably smaller in scale.  I haven't done a thing about Easter yet.  I have fallen behind badly in reading blogs and need to get caught back up with everybody.  I really wish I was on Spring Break, but not while everyone else is.  I get a lot more done when I'm on my own, if you know what I mean.

Meet Stephen

Monday Night, The Knitting Nest, 6pm-9pm, I'm bringing Stephen (Hizknits.com) to the Knitting Meetup.  Stephen is here for SXSWi where we met last year and he joined us at the Knitbloggers meetup at HCW (where we plan to go tomorrow morning for First Sunday Sit N Knit).  Stephen has a new Knitting Podcast called Y Knit, Genetically Speaking, both hosts just happen to be knitters, and guys.  Stephen wants to knit and see the new shop in town, so, that's what we're doing.  Come join us.

FO, Prizes, et.

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My FO mojo is groovin’ along.  I finished this Vestee for my grandson last night.  This was a very quick knit.  Vestee_hood_3
Just a couple of hours of evening TV knitting and a couple of meetings at work and this puppy was done!  I used a bargain yarn I got at Kid N Ewe this year.  It’s Plymouth Yarn Sundae Swirl, 78% cotton and 22% nylon, so it should hold up to a toddler pretty well.  This yarn was 10 bucks for a bag of 10 skeins and I only used 5 for this project.  If I’m lucky, I might get a photo of Cooper in it tonight.

Blogiversary Contest Winners and Prizes:

Chris, I know you have knit sweaters and socks and wash cloths, but I haven’t seen you knitting any lace.  Yet.  Your prize is a big ol’ wad of burnt orange laceweight.  Now, knit us some lace.  Or you could trade it at the next yarn swap if you aren’t thrilled or a UT alum.

Prize



Steph, I know you’ve been practicing your dying and you could dye this if you wanted – you’re getting a big skein of Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool, it only comes in one color so dye it if you want.  There’s 465 yards on it which is enough for a scarf or a couple of hats.  I made a sweater out of this stuff and it’s great.  It still has the natural lanolin in it so if you don’t dry clean it, it’s virtually water-proof.

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Nicole, I don’t really know you, but I thought surely you could use a nice skein of German sock yarn in wool and silk.  A friend brought it back to me from Heidelberg, Germany and he brought 3 skeins, so I think I can part with one.  Germans make the very best sock yarn, it wears like iron.

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I hope you all enjoy your prizes, Tom drew the names for me.  Send me your addressed and I’ll get them in the mail to you.  Steph, I’ll bet I can just drop yours by the nest in a couple of days, eh?

Now, for all those patient and indulgent readers who said they would like to see some of my sewing, here is what I made Kandis for Christmas this year:

Placemat

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I used a tutorial I found on Sewmamasew.com for inspiration and construction tips.  I used a natural silk noil for the background of the placemats and scraps from the stash for the pieced section.  The cranberry napkins match the reverse side of the mats.  I washed all the fabric before I ever cut it – even the silk – so now she can toss them all in the wash without having to worry if they will shrink.  Some folks think that silk is delicate or fragile, but in reality, it’s one of the strongest natural fibers there is.  Before Nylon was invented, they made parachutes out of it.  Silk was considered precious because it was so strong and lightweight. 

I started two more projects last night. I don’t want to lose my momentum.

Web Ap Envy

I must confess I am experiencing an unpleasant sensation.  I am trying to be big.  And patient (a neat trick for me).  And excited for those few chosen who are already experiencing the heady delights of this mysterious elixir they call Ravelry.  But I am feeling painfully envious.  I want to play.  It must be good stuff.  And they say that it’s going to be free.  At first.  Until they get us hooked.  And then we’ll trade our grandchildren for just a little more functionality.  So I wait.  Still no invites.  I have added myself to the waiting list…several times…just in case the first one didn’t take.  Do you think I disqualified myself?  Gawd, I’m paranoid.  Okay, so what to do while I wait?

Go_with_the_flow pattern: Go With the Flow Socks by Evelyn A. Clark, Summer 2005 IK
yarn: This is the yarn that comes in the Red Cross Commemorative Yarn Tin.  It is very soft wool and there is a lot of it – I think it’s over 500 yds.
I decided not to knit the pattern for the men’s vintage wool socks for soldiers(that comes with the tin), because the yarn was so soft and pretty, I thought lace might be nice.  These are a tiny bit snug in width for me, but my mom has very narrow feet, and she’ll be arriving here next week, they should fit her perfectly.

Plumeria_bloomThis is the first bloom on one of my two plumerias.  I got them last year and they never bloomed.  This one has just begun to open and when it is fully open should be a show stopper.  Have you ever smelled these flowers?  They are beautifully perfumed.  I may move it to right outside my bedroom window.

Yucca_close Twist_leaf_yucca This is a Twist Leaf Yucca, growing right outside the bedroom window.  It seems to only bloom every other year, though the drought we had last year might be what held it back then.  This bloom shoots up about 10 feet from the base of this native plant.  Very pretty and impressive to see.

Dewy_pear
The pears this year are looking good.  Last year I implemented a squirrel management program.  It worked – we had plenty of pears and I learned how to make squirrel stew.

I need to get in the garden this weekend and finish planting.  I have cantelope and okra seeds to go in, and the second round of green beans and squash as well. 

Now, to the first person to offer me an invite to Ravelry, I will bless with some of my homemade pear preserves (like my granny used to make), some canned pear halves and my recipe for squirrel stew.  Of course, if you aren’t into cooking, I can prepare the stew for you.  Just please, let me be a Ravel-Rouser!