Pixie Portal

Delve into Wendy's World of Knitting, Illustrator, Cats, and Pixie Magic.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Great definition of branding

I enjoy reading blogs about marketing, advertising, and customer service.

My favorite two blogs are:
Seth Godin's blog and Jennifer Rice's blog.

Jennifer recently wrote the best definition of brand strategy that I've ever read:
A brand strategy is, in essence, a focused strategic platform that guides every aspect of the business. If a brand is a house, then the various departments are the rooms, and the brand platform (the brand mantra) is the foundation. Ideally the foundation sums up the purpose of the company in 5 words or less. In other words, why should people care about you?

The full brand strategy fills in the details; it's the blueprint for the house and guidelines for interior design. The blueprint outlines the type of customers who will visit the house, how it will be used, and how the experience should differ from the other houses on the street. If the blueprint and execution are done right, marketing is simply an open-house sign in the front yard. Starbucks created a powerful brand with no advertising. Ditto with Google. They both created a new and/or better experience for people to talk about.

WOW! I get it; do you?

Gold Medal Winner of Knitting Olympics



Stephanie (aka The Yarn Harlot and Knitting Olympics Organizer) published the gold medals. It's so pretty and shiny!!

Monday, February 27, 2006

What the h--- is in the crockpot?

It's bound to happen.

When you try new recipes, you will inevitably get a bomb. Today I cooked a real stinker (snicker, snicker). I tried a crockpot recipe for Chicken & Stuffing. Followed the recipe to the letter. Ended up with an atrocious dish. Karen took one look at it and said, "That looks like chicken lying in baby poo."

Well. Frankly I was relieved. I didn't want to try to eat that crap either.

I threw it out with screams of "starving children in the world" echoing in my head.

Thank heavens for our neighborhood Chili's restaurant.

Finished Blue "Poof" Scarf

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Happy Birthday Heather


Last night we celebrated Heather's 30th birthday.

We had a lovely dinner at The Refectory in NE Portland. I gave the Eberlin's their baby blanket and gave Heather a gift certificate to Dosha for a pedicure, manicure or whatever.

These two can always make me laugh until my face and sides hurt. And since I have a really, really loud laugh, I'm sure everyone's ears and head hurt as well.

My favorite part was when Jeff told us about the time he had a talking camera. The camera would speak in this high-pitched Muppet voice, "Too Dark" or "Check Distance". He used to make the camera rap for him. T-t-t-ttttooo dark. Ha! It still makes me laugh to remember it.

Thanks for a great night!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Taking a break with a scarf

My next "big" project will be a tank-like summer shell for Karen. I'll take her measurements and probably cast on this weekend.

In the meantime, I'm knitting a scrumptiously soft scarf made from a Crystal Palace Yarn named Poof. Great name, don't ya think? It is 100% supersoft nylon- color 9651. I'm happy I'll get to use my new Lantern Moon needles.

By the way, those are Chloe's (the photo queen's) paws in the picture.

Nike Woman


If you have a high-speed connection, go check out NikeWomen.com or click here.

There you will find an interactive music video choreographed by Jamie King and sung by Def Jam singer Rihanna. This video is used to launch the Spring fitness dance collection.

Check the "shop the video" tab where you can view the new Nike line. Also checkout their downloadable workouts.

I was just telling Karen the other day (while watching a long stream of really boring commercials) that advertising needs to be more entertaining. I like to keep my eye on fresh ideas. These video streams, in my opinion, hit the mark.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Yarn Harlot Laughs

Check out the 90+ comments of fellow knitters supporting Stephanie. It's simply awesome!

Stephanie writes about the fact that the dust bunnies have been surpassed by the dust buffalos in her house. There are lots of funny verses of "give me a home... where the dust buffalos roam" song in the comments.

Clapotis and a fun dictionary


This morning I looked up the definition of Clapotis. I've read other knitters blogs where they are working on a "clapotis" and I just didn't know what it was.

I found, by chance, a fun dictionary. Check out www.websters-dictionary-online.org or click here. And for fun type in clapotis. You'll see a definition but you'll also find the word in anagrams, braille, morse code, binary code and (my favorite) dancing men!

Ha! Too fun!

I found the knitting term on Knitty.com. It's described as "knit version of the French scarf. It’s knit on the bias so the variegated yarn makes diagonal stripes. And stitches are carefully dropped to make a pattern in the opposite direction. This creates a scarf which tends to be a little more of a parallelogram than a rectangle." Click here for the pattern.

Clapotis- your word for the day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Olympic Finish


11 days, 17 hours!

I knitted until midnight last night. I only had one-half of an inch left to go but my eyes were all blurry. So I finished the blanket this afternoon! The finished blanket is 25" square. I was worried that I might run out of yarn as I was casting off. I only had around 2 feet of yarn left- whew! I thought I would be knitting until Sunday 2/26 but last weekend I turned the corner and it was all downhill from there. I really loved this pattern- knitting in fours was fun and easy to track. I like that the blanket is reversible. I would be happy to knit a larger afghan using the same pattern.

I feel...hmmm.... proud, pleased, and a bit sorry to see the end of this great adventure.

Once Karen gets home, I'll ask her to take some better pictures. The Oregonian newspaper will award gold, silver and bronze medals- well, gift certificates- to the nearby Yarn Garden store. Who knows? Maybe I'll get lucky! I'll give the blanket to Jeff & Heather this weekend.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Self Challenge


I enjoy the spirit of the Knitting Olympics. I like knowing that there are 3500+ people all working on their individual projects but all in the same spirit of achievement. I'm pleased to read about their progress on their blogs.

I decided to tack on this "team spirit" to my weight loss goals.

This week I signed up for the 2006 SELF challenge - a free, three-month exercise and eating plan. I signed up to give myself some accountability and to read the forums of others striving toward their goals. Today I jumped back on the treadmill and started keeping my online food log. If you would like a "Self Challenge" buddy, I'm your girl. If you want to learn more about the challenge, click here.

I laughed when I read on another site these alternate meanings for common words:

Flabbergasted (adj.) appalled over how much weight you have gained.
Abdicate (v.) to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

I would say that I am flabbergasted but that I will not abdicate!

Knitting with The Soprano's


Olympic Blanket Status: 19 inches complete and 6 inches to go.

Over the weekend I managed to knit 7 inches! This was largely due to watching the entire first season and half of the second season of the HBO series "The Soprano's".

Saturday evening I completely flubbed up a row. I knitted three additional rows in the hopes that the pattern would somehow magically work itself out. It was late, my favorite yarn store was closed, and there were several more "knittable" hours left in the evening. So...I ripped out four rows (MYSELF!!), managed to get the stitches back on the needles and kept on knitting. It was quite an Olympic moment for me.

I had been silently applauding myself as I knitted and watched the Olympics. I thought I might be imbuing the blanket with a champion spirit and "thrill of victory" kind of vibe that might somehow permeate to the baby that will use the blanket.

Alas, after 14 plus hours of Sopranos, I just hope I haven't added too much of a Mafioso stain. If the baby's first words are, "Forget about it"... I might end up swimming with the fishes.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Enjoying the sun

We had a sunny weekend here in Portland. We removed Chloe's vinyl halo and brushed Phoebe while she sunbathed. I took lots of photos of both cats in the beautiful light of our guest bedroom. Here's a small sampling.



Friday, February 17, 2006

Olympic Blanket Status Report


Okay. Here are the facts.
It is day 8 of the Olympics.
I have 12 inches of the blanket completed.
I have 13 inches to go.
I have 8 days to do it.

It takes two hours to knit one inch.
So I need 26 more hours.
I need to knit 3 and 1/2 hours each remaining day to finish on time.

I can do this.
(Breathe. Puff. Breathe)
I can do this.

You know you're a yarn freak when...

You become fascinated with the rose-like form of your yarn when you get to the end of the skein.













As I reached the end of this skein, I found myself repeating the William Blake poem:
To see a world in a grain of sand
And Heaven in a wild flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Olympic Blanket Crisis

Well, I completed 62 rows (around 9 inches) of the baby blanket without error!

But on row 63, things turned ugly. I knitted row 63, 64, & 65 and then it became painfully obvious that I had gone off pattern. Actually, I believe I knitted the same row twice and this threw the pattern way off.


TERROR! PANIC!!

I know! I'll call on Cheri- the owner of The Naked Sheep Knit Shop. Now I have to add an aside about Cheri here. Not only is she an incredible knitter. She is a fabulous business owner. Cheri remembers my name each time I come to her store. AND she knows who I am over the phone! She always makes time for me and my knitting questions. I'm sure you know what a rare and wonderful treat it is to be a recognized customer. Her store is quite a drive away from my home but it's definately worth it.
Here is a picture of my knitting angel:


Anyway, I digress from Knitting Terror. Cheri calmly ripped my three rows and helped me figure out where I was in my pattern.
RELIEF! DELIEVERANCE!

I'm back on track and have the new rows correctly knitted.


I'll write more about my progress but now I need to watch the Women's Downhill on the Olympics.

The Pacific Northwest


I was cruising a few blogs after lunch and found a funny entry about the Pacific Northwest. This is according to Jeff Foxworthy.

The Pacific Northwest:
  • You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.
  • You use the statement "sun break," and know what it means.
  • You know more than 10 ways to order a coffee.
  • You stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for a "walk" signal.
  • You consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, then it is not a real mountain.
  • You can taste the difference between Starbucks and Seattle's Best.
  • You consider swimming an indoor sport.
  • You are not fazed by "Today's forecast: showers followed by rain" or "Tomorrow's forecast: rain followed by showers."
  • You have no concept of humidity without precipitation.
  • You can point to at least two volcanoes, even if you cannot see through the cloud cover.
  • You note, "The mountain is out" when it is a pretty day and you can actually see it.
  • You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.
  • You buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time.
  • You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit under a raincoat.

  • Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Olympic Pattern


    I spent the morning cruising Olympic Knitting blogs. I noticed that several of the blogs do not have a picture of their intended finished product nor their pattern. Then I realized that if this was important to me that I should publish my own.

    This pattern is from the book "Quick Knitted Afghans" edited by Jeanne Stauffer. The pattern I'm using starts on page 100. This picture is from the book as well. (I think that this is a rather ugly blue yarn... and an even uglier sofa... but it shows the pattern pretty well).

    If you remember, I'm knitting a baby blanket in a lovely, soft yellow.

    Pattern:
    Cast on 120 stitches
    Row 1-4: *K4, p4, rep from * across
    Row 5 & 7: P2, *k4, p4, end p2
    Row 6 & 8: K2, *p4, k4, end k2
    Row 9-12: *P4, k4
    Row 13 & 15: Repeat Row 6
    Row 14 & 16: Repeat Row 5

    Repeat rows 1-16 for pattern until afghan reaches desired length. End with row 4, 8, 12 or 16. Bind off all stitches.

    Group Illustration

    On Friday 2/10 I finished the four illustration portraits requested by Karen's company. Her boss liked them and asked for a group illustration with three of the executives in business attire and the fourth in vacation wear. I finished it yesterday.

    I had fun creating the Hawaiin shirt.

    Check it out!

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    Our little flower


    We brought Chloe home from the vet Saturday afternoon. We were surprised to find that she was wearing this vinyl halo. The vet wants her to wear it to keep Chloe from licking her paws while her wounds close.

    It's been hard not to laugh as Chloe walks around, pushing her halo out in front of her. We've nicknamed her "our gila monster". Chloe wants to groom herself but can't so she ends up licking compulsively on her halo. She also walks up to us asking that we scratch her neck both above and below the collar. She has to wear this thing until Friday or Saturday. Heaven help us!

    Phoebe is a bit frightened of the collar but is happy that her little sister is home.

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    Let the Games Begin -- The Flame is Lit!



    And We're Off!! I've casted on!!

    From www.YarnHarlot.ca/blog/:

    The Knitting Olympics Athletes Pledge

    I, a knitter of able hands and quick wits, to hereby swear that over the course of these Olympics I will uphold the highest standard of knitterly excellence.

    I will be deft of hand and sure of pattern, I will overcome troubles of yarn overs and misplaced decreases. I will use the gifts of intelligence and persistence (as well as caffeine and chocolate) and I will execute my art to the highest form, carrying with me the hope for excellence known to every knitter.

    I strive to win. To do my best, and to approach the needles with my own best effort in mind, without comparing myself to my fellow knitters, for they have challenges unique to them.

    While I engage in this pursuit of excellence and my own personal, individual best, I also swear that I will continue to engage with my family in conversation, care for my pets, speak kindly with those who would ask me to do something other than knit, and above all, above every stitch thrown or picked, above every cable, every heel stitch, every change of colour, I swear this:

    That I will remember that this is not the real Olympics, that I'm supposed to be having fun and that my happiness and self-worth ride not on my success.... but on my trying.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Purple Purse


    After a frustrating day of Illustrating, it was a relief to sit on the couch and finish the straps on this purse. I was determined to finish this project before the Olympics start tomorrow night.

    The finished, unfelted size was 22 inches long (38 inches including the straps!!) and 12 inches wide. I had to take a picture with this ruler!

    After felting, the purse is 14 inches long (25 including the straps) and 8 inches wide.

    I love the "post felting" look. The only downside to felting is the wet wool smell that permeates the house for several hours.

    After felting, I stuffed the purse with plastic bags to create the shape. (This is the white stuff sticking out of the bag in the picture). No matter how I stuffed and pulled on the purse, I kept getting this hourglass shape. Can you see it? Very feminine!

    It will take 1-2 days to dry and then it will be mailed to my Mom in TN.

    Whew!

    Here's a close-up of the novelty yarn top (pre and post felting).

    Chloe Is Fine


    The vet called to let us know that Chloe made it just fine through her surgeries. She's resting nicely. If all goes well, Chloe will be home Saturday afternoon.

    Phoebe woke me up at 6:00am demanding attention. She laid on my belly and would nudge my hand if I stopped petting her. As I'm trying to work, she's sitting in front of my keyboard until I rub her enough for her satisfaction.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Tree Hugger


    As you can see from this old photo, I've been a tree lover/hugger/namer since I was a child. This picture was taken in the Great Smoky Mountains (in Tennessee).

    When Karen and I first moved to Oregon, I immediately noticed these two beautiful trees right down the street from where we lived. We passed them driving about and walking around. I named the trees Ozmo and Gidget. And I would talk to them as I passed them.

    The best moments were when the wind would blow and the trees would wave to me.

    Tonight, after I took Chloe to the vet, I cruised by our old neighborhood. I couldn't resist taking these photos with my cell phone. The photos really don't do them justice. I would like to introduce you to:

    Ozmo is the top photo and Gidget is the bottom photo:


















    Don't you think they look like characters in a Dr. Seuss book?













    That's me. Tree Lover... and proud of it!

    Oregonian Newspaper - 2 page article Knit Olympics

    I was hoping someone would write about the knitting Olympics. The article is in the Living section of today's paper. I'll cut it out and send it to my Grandmother!

    You can click here to read it. (But I warn you the Oregonian article page is filled to the rim with advertisements.)

    Chloe to the Vet



    Later this afternoon I'll take Chloe to the vet to be spayed and declawed. She won't come home until sometime on Saturday. For the past two days I've been playing with her and loving on her twice as much as usual (guilt, guilt, guilt). This morning I took a bunch of pictures of her playing with one of her feather toys.

    Please send Chloe your well wishes.

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Swatching for the Olympics


    For the past two days, I've been trying different swatches and patterns for the baby blanket that I'm going to knit in the Knitting Olympics. I'm so glad that I took the time to do this step because difficulties have abounded. But I'm so pleased that I swatched 50 stitches (several times) rather than to cast on 120 stitches at the start of the Olympics and then not like what I'm knitting.

    At first I thought I would use a basketweave pattern with a seed stitch border. It took me several inches of knitting before I remembered the knack to knitting the seed stitch. And then, I wasn't happy with how it looked as a border to the basketweave.

    After two days of knitting (and then ripping) different patterns and one trip to the bookstore to review knitting books, I've finally found a pattern I like.

    The pattern I've picked is a variation on the basketweave pattern. I call it "basketweave on the slant". This picture hardly does the pattern justice. As soon as I took this picture, I ripped the knitting for the last time. The rules are that you don't officially cast on until the torch is lit.

    The essential nature of the knitting Olympics is that each knitter should stretch themselves. Well, the stretch for me on this piece is:
    1. Completing 25 inches of 120 stitches in 16 days. (I thought I would announce the length so as not to wimp out and knit something smaller just to "win").

    2. Staying tuned in to the pattern rather than just "zone out" like I usually do when I knit. So far, I've knitted fairly easy patterns. Even my first sweater was in stockinette stitch. I've gotten to the point where I don't have to look at the needles to knit or purl. But this pattern will require that I pay attention on every row.

    3. When I do make mistakes, having the guts to rip back and knit again. I'm still not at all comfortable in ripping just a row or two.

    So as my heart beats with nervousness, I prepare for my knitting challenges!

    I checked the Olympic site and found that there are 3000 knitters to date. The deadline for joining is tonight at midnight. This will give the coordinators time to finish adding all the names (hopefully before the Olympics start).

    The intensity of other knitters toward this challenge is well, intense! I found myself getting really nervous when I read a post about how to avoid tendonitis. Click here for the blog article.

    Oh, for the record, I'm using the "Bollicine" line of Cascasde Yarns. This is a 100%, extrafine, merino wool yarn from Italy. The name of the yarn is "Baby Night".

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Work Buddies


    I spent the day working on an Illustration portrait. These are my quiet, warm and fuzzy work mates. Other than occassionaly stepping on my keyboard and chewing paper, they are the perfect collegues.

    The have an entire house of choices in sleep places. I love that they decided to hang with me!

    Woolgathering


    A few minutes ago, my friend and neighbor brought me a wonderful present. She found a page-a-day calendar titled "Knit Bits - Cool Stuff to Know About the Knitting Lifestyle".

    One of the entries was a history of the term "woolgathering".

    Definition: Indulgence in idle daydreaming

    In Wales, woolgathering, or gwlana, was a social custom adopted to provide for poorer wives of laborers who did not have access to wool of their own to spin. It involved walking along hedgerows and stone walls and picking off wool that was left behind as the sheep had passed by. Later, after the custom was in little use, woolgathering was considered an unprofitable enterprise. Its practitioners were perceived to wander aimlessly and gained little for their efforts. Hence the association of woolgathering with your mind wandering aimlessly.

    Thanks Heather! Now excuse me while I go woolgathering.

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    Knitting Olympics News


    WOW!! This evening I've been catching up on some of my favorite blogs. I checked out The Yarn Harlot's site to see how many people had signed up for the Knitting Olympics.

    To date, there are 2500 people signed up to participate. There 2400 actual Olympic athletes scheduled to compete in Torino and 2500 of us knitters. INCREDIBLE!

    If you click here and scroll to the bottom of the page, you will see where I'm one of the twelve "Wendy's" listed. I'm challenging myself by knitting a baby blanket for my good friends. I plan to knit a seed stitch border and a basketweave design. This week, I plan to knit my swatch to be sure that the yarn, needle size and pattern is to my liking.

    I'm very jazzed to be a part of this group!

    Home from Mexico



    You betcha! I'm back!

    Top Twelve Things I Loved About My Mexico Trip (these are in no particular order):

    The Sun. Yes, it's redundant to say that it was great to be in the sun for the week. Getting away from rainy Portland was certainly a joyous event. The sky was incredibly blue, only a few clouds and the temperature was in the 80's. Perfection!

    The Pool. Lay in the sun for an hour. Jump in the pool and swim for 15 minutes. Repeat for 7 days. Our resort has three pools - one for the pool game folks (pool basketball, volleyball, dunking for drinks, etc) one for the children and one for everyone else. I chose the unoccupied pool and had a big time floating on my back and swimming underwater.

    The Ocean. Our room had a wonderful view of the ocean (see picture). I enjoyed sitting on our private balcony and letting the ocean sounds and smells wash over me. Cabo's beach drops off suddenly and they have a dangerous rip tide. So I didn't swim in the ocean but I really enjoyed being in its presence.

    The Pedicure. When one is laying on a beach lounger, one has ample time to contemplate the view of one's stomach (like a pumpkin!), one's legs and one's toes. The toe view was something I could change for the better. I had a pedicure early in the trip so that I could look at pretty pink toes for the rest of the week.


    The Facial and Manicure. On Special at the Spa. Ya'll know I can't turn down a great special. For the cost of the facial, the manicure was thrown in as a special treat. I had both on the last full day of vacation. My sunscreen-clogged, sunburned, heat-rashed face sighed in bliss. And my cuticles (for once) aren't ripped to shreds.

    The Books. I read Cell by Stephen King, three of James Patterson's novels, and The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connely. These are books that I classify "mind candy". Quick, easy reads that pull you into the story and make you forget that your shoulders are sun-burning.

    Other People's Books. I get a kick in surveying what other people are reading. Sometimes you can tell if you would like someone simply by what they read. There were some great smiles passed between myself and another woman who was reading "Cell". There was another guy who read while standing in the pool (for hours). He read "Kite Runner" which is on my "to read" list. He had an awesome tattoo of a Mayan figure on this back. He just looked like a cool guy to talk to but I never worked up the nerve. So, lots of cool people reading cool stuff. There were also people reading those biblical fiction books like "Sue's working on the sheep farm and reading her bible during pioneering days". I walked a wide path away from those folks.

    The Margaritas. Enough said. My family reads this blog!


    The Antics. There was this one guy who looked to be 75-85 years old. He would take a running jump into the pool then get out and jump again. He played in the pool like a child. He whooped, he laughed, he splashed about. He was incredibly young at heart. I really enjoyed watching him play. I also like watching this Grandma teach her grandsons about how to make big splashes with your hands and how to talk under water. We got a laugh out of watching a married couple argue. We snickered and rolled our eyes as a Mexican band sang songs by the Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, and Santana. I love to observe people and it was too fun to watch others (with my mirrored sunglasses!).

    The Sites. We enjoyed going to town and sitting near the marina. There were so many gorgeous yachts docked there. There were pterodactyl-sized pelicans. And we delighted in watching a hummingbird dive for nectar. The palm trees were incredible and there were a very interesting "seed pod" trees.

    The Service. I love to say at resorts and hotels. Simply adore it! I loved having someone make my bed and create swans out of hand towels. I love to have people cook for me, serve me and clean those dishes. Absolute Heaven! The service at our hotel was excellent. You just have to get on Mexican time. This one Mexican told Karen that Americans rush too much. We rush to the restaurant, we rush while eating, we rush for the check so that we can rush somewhere else. Well you can't rush in Mexico - even if you want to. A meal is a two hour endeavor - and that's for just one course. But with the gorgeous view of the ocean... who cares.

    My Karen. Karen and I unplugged (no computers, no talking on the phone) and really enjoyed one another. We call it "soaking each other up" meaning that we rejoice in each other's presence and love. Babe- you're the best!

    There are more pictures of our trip. Just click on the Flicker badge.