Pixie Portal

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

Friday, March 31, 2006

More fun with Illustrator

Cat Yawns

I'm still experimenting with the camera. This one came out blurrier than I had hoped (but it's still pretty funny!). I think I'm getting too close to the cats because the camera seems to be focusing on what's behind them. Anyway... I had fun taking some yawn photos. There are more pictures posted on our Flickr site (see badge on right).

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jonesing for this pink top

Carrie Underwood is sporting this Ralph Lauren cable-knit top on the April "Self" magazine cover.

I don't have the body to wear this (yet!) but I'm in love with this top. I would love to knit it!

Or I can buy it
from Ralph Lauren (yeah... right)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Yarn can be illogical

I have 2 inches of the yummy pink sweater back knitted. I'm really enjoying working with this soft cotton yarn. And it's knitting up at 5 stitches per inch with size 7 needles.

So when I decided to knit Karen's sleeveless summer shell again, I bought the same yarn (Cascade Yarns Sierra 80% cotton, 20% wool) except in a lovely white color. I checked the tag and it reads the same as the pink yarn- needle size 7= 5 stitches per inch.

However, on size 7 needles, I was only getting 4.5 stitches per inch. So, I ripped back and tried again with size 6 needles. Still didn't work. Finally, I got a clue and decide to knit a swatch before casting on the project. It takes size 5 needles to achieve 5 stitches per inch.

I'm not a math person so this whole ordeal made me quite dizzy. I could hear Mr. Spock saying, "Captain, this Sierra yarn is illogical. Curious... very curious.'

But there is a silver lining in every cloud. My silver lining came in the form of the perfect knitting bag for all my circular needles found at a Lake Oswego yarn store named the Molehill Farm. I found it while on the hunt for the size 5 needles.

Cirque Du Soleil- Varekai

Last night, Karen and I went to see Cirque du Soleil's Varekai. It was fantastic! Incredible aerobatics and trapeeze artists. I simply LOVED it! Many times throughout the evening I found myself sweating over the incredible stunts these folks accomplished.

I found some information about the show from www. people.howstuffworks.com:

The Varekai show is about Icarus, the fabled son of the brilliant Greek artisan Daedalus. His is a story of how excitement can cloud one's better judgment. As Greek legend tells, Daedalus crafted two magnificent pairs of wings out of feathers and wax for himself and his brash young son (Icarus). Taking to the skies in a flurry of excitement, Icarus does not heed his father's warnings and strays too close to the sun, melting his wings. But, unlike the Icarus of fabled tale (in which Icarus plummets to his death) the Icarus of Cirque du Soleil falls into a fantastical world of good and evil where he must redeem himself.

The first act was an incredible display of Icarus who is bound in a net.

The second act (named Icarian games) gave us the tossing and juggling of men which was really unbelievable. The porter/artist lies upond his back and tosses the voltigeur/flyer with his feet. The three brothers that make up the team known as the Rampin Bros. - Javier Santos Leal ("Javi"), Pedro Santos Leal, and Ramon Santos Leal ("Moncho"), from Spain) come from a seven-generation family known as the Santos-Rampin, which explains how easy they make this art look.

The third of three aerial acts is a spectacle called the Aerial Straps. Performed by Kevin and Andrew Atherton (from the United Kingdom), they fly on the scene as one. But just as soon as they catch your eye, they become two angels flying amongst the stars. The Aerial Straps was a powerful and yet very elegant performance.

The fourth act was a glorious display of four "spider women" on the trapeeze.

One of the most impressive acts was the handbalancing on canes that came at the end of the second half of the performance.

All in all, it was an incredible show!

As we were driving home, Karen and I talked about the staff and effort that it takes to host an event like Varekai. K, these facts are for you!:

Today, a touring Cirque show traverses the world in a Cirque du Soleil "mobile town" designed to sit on 180,000 square foot site. The town requires a permanent staff of 140, as well as a temporary staff of 150 in each new city, to set up, break down and operate its facilities. It includes the Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) and attached entrance tent, the stage, artistic tent, kitchen and dining areas, a school and the supplies needed to run it all. It takes 50 trucks carrying 1,000 tons of equipment each to move the town. It takes the crew eight days to set it up and three days to break it all down.

The Grand Chapiteau is a consistent fixture in all of Cirque's touring shows. This is the location of the main stage and performance areas. The Grand Chapiteau seats 2,500 people and requires the work of 70 people including "tent masters," trained specifically by Cirque for the monumental task of raising the big top.

Another hub of activity for those traveling with a Cirque "mobile town" is the kitchen and dining area. Here, performers and staff dine on meals prepared by five chefs (with thirteen staff in total). These chefs serve 300 meals a day to Cirque's performers and staff.

How about that!?!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

It doesn't fit

Karen tried on her sleeveless summer shell yesterday. And... it doesn't fit.

It's way too wide and the armholes are too long (shows her bra).

FRACK! I'm SO disappointed.

Actually I was despondent, disheartened, discouraged, dispirited, disconsolate, despairing, down and depressed.

I had to sulk for a while. And then rant a bit. Then sigh and get really quiet.

But then Karen reminded me that knitting is a learning process and that I'm not going to be perfect (at least not right away).


I think I will knit the shell again. I'm determined to figure it out. I'll keep you updated.

Friday, March 24, 2006

New Project- Pink Sweater

My next project will be this yummy pink sweater. I found the pattern at knitty.com.

I bought the yarn at my favorite yarn store. I'm making it out of Cascade Yarns "Sierra" which is 80% pima cotton and 20% wool (col 17, lot 5256). The color is a cross between bubble-gum pink and raspberry.

I've knitted around 10 rows but I'm afraid the gauge is off. So I'll consult with the gurus to see if I need to rip it and try with a different needle size.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Even though I'm an open-minded gal, every once in a while I have to classify people into types.
For example:
  • Those who like tomatoes and those who don't.
  • Those who sing in the shower and those who don't
    And today's favorite--
  • those who get disgustingly dirty doing outdoor projects and those who don't.

    Yes, I'm sorry to say that I am one really messy girl. Today I loaded my car with 13 bags of mulch (BIG BAGS!), unloaded them to my backyard, pulled up weeds like a mad-woman, and mulched my landscaping.

    At then end of this, I had mulch and dirt EVERYWHERE on my person. It was caked in the crevices of my arms, on my neck, down my pants (I have no idea how this happened), around my ankles, up my nose, in my hair and even in my ears.

    I've been this way since I was a kid. When I was a little girl, my dad used to hold me upside down and bounce me to get all the sand or dirt out of my hair. Today was no exception. I had to get undressed in the garage to keep from tracking dirt into the house. Just call me Ms. Pigpen. This is an old photo of me but very indicative of how I dirty I got today. Oh well... at least the backyard looks better (and I had fun!)

  • Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    It's late... go to bed

    Either I'm beginning to knit faster or I've learned how to warp the time/space continuum. In only 7 days I've managed to knit 21 inches of the front of Karen's sleeveless summer shell. (You can tell she's out of town, can't you). I've bound off the neck portion and will knit 5 more inches on each side for the straps of the shell.

    Based on the recommendations of the guru masters at the Naked Sheep Knit Shop, I submerged the finished back piece in cold water and have lovingly blocked it. I did this in the hopes that the knitting will smooth out some of the wrinkles and bumps that occur naturally while knitting.

    So, tomorrow I hope to finish the front and block it tomorrow night. Then hopefully seam it together on Friday. I still have to knit the neck and arm bands (something I've never done before). I'm getting excited to see it finished!

    Anytime I stay up past midnight, the cats begin to freak out. They pounce and bat continuously at me or keep bringing me feathers to throw. I think I'll call it a night. Phoebe is yawning (not screaming... but that would make a great scream, wouldn't it!)

    Monster Names

    Yep... This about sums it up!

    My cyborg name is:

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Please help save our forests.


    The Bush administration wants to sell off an astonishing 300,000 acres of our national forest lands across 35 different states -- to pay for its mismanagement of America's finances.

    We need your immediate action to stop this raid on our natural heritage, which would sacrifice some of our nation's most treasured wildlands, including irreplaceable expanses of several NRDC BioGems.

    Click here and tell the U.S. Forest Service to withdraw this proposal to sell off any part of our national forests for the sake of funding budget shortfalls.

    The Bush administration has cynically put forward this national forest sell-off as a fast way to raise millions to pay for a rural schools program that has run out of funding.

    America's rural schools deserve financial support -- but destroying our legacy of national forests to pay the bills is unconscionable.

    The Bush administration's lengthy list of "Forests For Sale" includes prime habitat in Montana for bears, elk and wolves; popular recreation spots in Alaska's Tongass National Forest; old-growth forests in northern California; wildlife-rich ecosystems in the Appalachians and hundreds of other natural treasures.

    Logging companies, real estate developers and other commercial interests are already lining up to start the bidding.

    Go to http://www.savebiogems.org/takeaction.asp and tell the Forest Service to protect these priceless wildlands for all Americans, present and future.


    Quote of the day

    I read this from the novel "The Rule of Four" by Caldwell & Thomason last night:

    "I'd begun to realize that there was an unspoken prejudice among book-learned people, a secret conviction they all seemed to share, that life as we know it is an imperfect vision of reality, and that only art, like a pair of reading glasses, can correct it. The scholars and intellectuals I've met seem to hold a grudge that our lives don't follow the dramatic arc that a good author gives to a great literary character. Only in accidents of pure perfection does the world actually become a stage. And that, they seemed to think, was a shame."

    Most of the time I live with the comfortable thought that God/Life only wants me to experience life. There is no great or small purpose that I'm supposed to fulfill other than I'm merely to love and be loved and to be happy.

    But when I read a quote like the one above, I confess that there is a secret part of me that wishes that my life could be dramatic arc. That all of my past experiences might be the build up to something extraordinary...something that makes a mark or changes a life.

    If I knew what that "something" was I would go for it whole-heartedly. But frankly, I don't have a clue. And as the quote above implies, there may not be a dramatic arc, only a long road with peaks and valleys.

    I so often envy my cats. The only mark Phoebe wants to leave is her scent on our furniture.

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    I shall have roses

    Today is the official first day of Spring. I spent it planting two yellow rose bushes.

    I saw "V for Vendetta" over the weekend. There is a lovely account of a woman who had roses for a brief time in her life. I won't ruin the movie for you. I'll just say that it is a very powerful story. One can see how a country could be if intolerance takes hold.

    Hopefully, my roses will bloom. I've never planted them before. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

    Saturday, March 18, 2006

    Why do books grow here?

    I love, respect and treasure books. So I do not argue with where they want to sit in my house.

    I have found that books insist on filling this spot in my home office and any vacant surface by my nightstand.

    The office spot is where new, unread books want to sit. I have learned that if I move these unread books to another part of the house, the new books will extract revenge and will beam upon me an undeniable urge to go buy 20 more new books (and to put them in this space). As long as I keep new books here, this urge is sated.

    Once I have started a book, I must keep it by my bedside (when I'm not actively reading it). At times, I've had up to 15 books upon this tiny little space (currently, I only have nine). Many times, I will carry a book from downstairs or the media room to the night stand, knowing full well that I will not read it that evening. It doesn't matter. It must travel with me and sleep beside me.

    Why this is, I do not know. But if you are a book lover, I bet you have these spots too.

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Happy Saint Patrick's Day

    I'm really enjoying the new camera. The sun is shining today so I grabbed it to take some pictures of daffodils at a neighbor's house. I guess I looked a bit funny plopped down in the road taking pictures, but who cares... I had fun! I'm not sure what kind of bug/bee this little guy is. But he certainly posed nicely for me.

    I love looking through a camera eyepiece again. My other digital camera is the kind that uses the display to pick your image. I like moving the focus ring and hearing the very satisfying click-click of the shutter release.

    I managed to get the female platy out of the fish tank today. I can never really tell which fish was the female fish simply by looking at their parts. But I've noticed that many of the other platys would chase this one fish. My hope was that she was the female and the other fish were trying to "get with her" (ahem).

    I'm relieved that I guessed correctly. I took her to our local fish store and gave her up for adoption. We have 4-6 baby fish in the tank (hopefully no more than that). Odds are that one of the babies is female. Hopefully we can figure it out before we have another brood born.

    My next project will be to knit my first pair of socks.

    Yesterday I bought some yarn at a nearby Beaverton yarn store. It wasn't a great yarn store experience. The store lighting is poor and the yarn sold there is very neutral. I've been to the store twice and although I've introduced myself, the clerk/owner doesn't reciprocate with her name. I'm trying to like this place because it is so close but so far the store/staff have given me weird vibes. And, once I got the yarn home, I realized that I don't really like the color so I'll have to return it. (And I hate to return stuff. Makes me so uncomfortable.) Here's the "before" yarn with the weird yarn store vibes:

    Today I drove clear across town to The Naked Sheep Knit shop. What can I say... this store has my heart. The owner Cheri helped me find the perfect yarn and discussed needle size in a way that makes me feel smart instead of stupid. Isn't this a gorgeous fushia pink for socks? Cheri, you've got my loyalty and you are definitely worth the drive.

    Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    New Profile Picture

    I finished this today. I think I'll use it as my "profile" picture. I've also got it published on my mac site. Of course, it doesn't look like me. But I like it's pixie quality

    Finished sleeveless back

    Last night I finished the back to Karen's sleeveless summer shell.

    I started this piece on 2/26. I'm pleased that I was able to complete the 26 inch long back in 16 days. And I'm excited to cast on for the front piece.

    Recently I read a quote from my Knit Bits Page-a-day calendar. I don't remember the exact quote but the gist of it was that once you have completed your first sweater, that you've only just BEGUN to learn how to knit a sweater.

    This quote stuck in my head after I made a minor mistake that had a large effect on my shell. I've been told that it is best to join a new ball of yarn at the end of a row. The reasoning being that when you weave in the ends, it would not be as noticeable at a side seam. And I've always followed this advice.

    However, when I reached the point where I was starting armhole shaping by decreasing (or knitting two stitches together), I thought it a bit much to try to start a new ball of yarn. So I knitted halfway over, and then joined a new ball.

    I'm still not sure exactly what happened. At first it looked like I had dropped a stitch (but I hadn't). But before my eyes, a big hole was opening up. I "fixed" it by weaving in the ends in some strange, unfathomable way. But the damage was done.

    Smack in the middle of the back, there is an ugly spot. The lovely knitting is seriously marred.

    My sweet Karen told me not to worry about it (as I looked to her with tearful eyes). She told me it would be the "Wendy spot" and she would think of it as me kissing her back anytime she felt it.

    Well, who could be upset after that.

    Still, lesson learned. Whatever you do, join yarn at the end of a row.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Things I'm grooving on

    I hope to finish the back of Karen's sleeveless summer shell today. I've been waiting to blog until I had it finished but these last few inches are taking a while.

    So I thought I would share some things have piqued my interest.

  • Jack Johnson's CD "Sing-a-longs for the film Curious George". In particular, I've got his song "Upside Down" playing in my head. You can watch the music video if you click go to www.jackjohnsonmusic.com and then click Films and then Bonus Videos. "The three R's" song is also a favorite.

  • The book "Yarn Harlot- The Secret Life of a Knitter". Her hilarious chapters will make even non-knitters laugh. My favorite chapter (so far) is the one about the squirrel who steals the author's yarn. It made me giggle loudly. You can read more about it here

  • Battlestar Galactica. My good friend Jeff turned me on to this fabulous show. Kara Thrace and Laura Roslin are my favorite characters. This tv series is close to bumping Star Trek-Next Generation as my favorite sci/fi tv show (and that's saying something).

  • Cleaning products that make my life easier. Yes...it's weird to write about cleaning products.... well.... yeah...it's weird. Anyway.
    Tilex daily shower cleaner. This stuff is perfect for glass shower walls/doors. Just spritz it on after you shower. It creates a "sheeting action" that keeps my glass shower walls clear. And...
    Downy Wrinkle Releaser. If you forget that you have clean dry clothes in the dryer (for... I don't know... 10 hours or so!), then place your shirts or pants on the bed, lightly spray them with this stuff and smooth out the wrinkles with your hands. What can I say...Laundry is not my strong point. Stuff gets left in the dryer all the time. So this stuff is a lifesaver!

  • Craigslist.org. I just posted two ads for stuff for sale. That site is just incredible. Power to the people baby! Free commerce, Yea!

  • My new digital Nikon D50. Saved the best for last didn't I? Karen and I have been lusting for this camera for quite some time. We decided to bite the bullet and get it this past weekend. Fortunately, it has an "automatic" setting so that I can take decent pictures until I read some books describing how to take great pictures. We got it from Wolf/Ritz camera and we get 8 free photo classes to learn how to use the thing.

    You made it to the bottom of this post? WOW!

  • Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Cats, Ladders and Fish

    Lately, I've been holding Chloe up to the fish tank when I feed the fish. She lets me cuddle her as she is completely absorbed by the fish swimming around. She purrs and purrs while watching them.

    This afternoon, Chloe decided to get a closer look.

    Our 39 gallon fishtank sits on our fireplace mantle. I need the help of a small stepladder to feed the fish and a nine foot ladder to clean the tank. Today I turned around and saw Chloe, ever so gracefully, climb the nine foot ladder and perch on top. Of course, I started laughing and ran for the digital camera (kinda makes you grateful I don't have kids, doesn't it! Hey kid, don't fall off the ladder. Mom's got to get her camera first!)

    It took about an hour to clean the tank and Chloe was with me the entire time. We had a ball! There are lots more pictures- just click on the Flickr badge on the right.

    And here's an update on the tank:
    We have new platy babies - at least four (maybe more!)
    Some time ago, we mistakenly purchased a female platy. (Platy females are "live bearers"- they bear live fish instead of eggs)We scooped her out of the tank and took her back to the fish store but not before she had popped out a few babies. Four of her lineage now live in our tank. We thought all four were boys. Ya know... it's kinda hard to tell the difference between females and males with tiny, fast-moving fish.

    But surprise! New fish babies! We still have to figure out which one is the Mom and get her out of there. And we pray that none of her babies are female. Can you see how this could get out of hand quickly?

    It's coincidental that we have new fish babies because just two weeks ago we purchased new fish. We bought three "gold white clouds" and five more rasboras (heteromorphas to be exact).

    Snow Foodstuffs

    This morning I woke up to the beautiful site of snow falling and snow on the ground. These are my snow-covered iris in my backyard.

    Since I was raised in the South, my next action was to check my foodstuffs. (All Southerners must take a snow inventory immediately upon seeing snow. It's in our DNA or something.) Can you guess what I checked first? No, not milk. No, not bread. Not even soup or peanut butter.

    I went directly to the Diet Coke cabinet. (I have 2 and 1/2 Diet Cokes left, by the way.)

    Sigh. I might have a Diet Coke problem.

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    Parrot Head

    Karen is at the Hotsos Symposium in Dallas this week. This is her company's annual big shindig. They had a Jimmy Buffet theme party and parrots available for pictures. Karen sent me one of her pictures.

    I ADORE THIS PICTURE!! Karen's so beautiful!! It's simply delightful!!

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Sleeveless Summer Shell

    I've been so busy posting about my travels with Karen and Mimi that I've been remiss in showing you my latest knitting project. I'm knitting a sleeveless summer shell (say that 10 times fast!) for Karen. Hopefully, upon completion, it will look like this picture--except white instead of pink.

    I purchased 17 skeins of Berroco Cotton Twist at The Yarn Garden. This yarn is 70% Mercerized cotton, 30% Rayon and made in Brazil. The white yarn has a nice shimmer to it.

    This purchase precipitated the need for a yarn swift (on left) and wool winder (on right) so that I can wind all these hanks into center-pull balls. To be honest, I was a bit intimidated to buy this equipment. It seems like something a far more experienced knitter would buy. But then I thought about having to trek to a yarn store to get more yarn wound, so I bit the bullet and bought them. I placed these strange devices on a table in my garage. While winding I have plenty of time to contemplate my water heater!

    I started the shell on 2/26 and have 8 inches of the back piece knitted so far. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

    Of course, one can not knit a white garment while riding in a car. (Why not? you ask. Well, while traveling I must sip diet coke and eat small bites of things. And I'm a notoriously messy eater, especially in the car! And I refuse to soil my knitting) So on the recent trip to Cannon Beach, I started knitting another "poof" scarf.

    Don't you think I look a bit maniacal in this photo? Of course, I had eaten several pieces of fudge so I was probably on a sugar high. And hey! with lots of sugar you can knit like the wind!

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Website Update

    I've updated my wendypatterson.com website.

    I used IWeb to create some new pages that reflect my current passion of knitting and Illustrator. To see the changes, click on the highlighted name above. You might need to click your web refresh button and if you have a slow internet speed, it might take a while to load (lots of pictures).

    The new pages have black backgrounds. If you see a webpage with a green background, please let me know so I can fix it. I'm having some trouble getting my "redirect" to work.

    Most of the text came from my blog but check it out if you get the chance and tell me what you think.

    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    Cannon Beach

    I love going to Cannon Beach, particularly Ecola Park. As you drive up the hill into the park, you pass these moss-coated trees and a fern-covered forest floor. The forest is quiet except for the seagulls flying overhead and the whisper of the waves. Looking at the trees, you can almost imagine a dinosaur walking towards you. This place fills me with a sense of wonder.

    Once you park and walk onto the cliffs overlooking the beach, you can catch these great thermals of warm air from the ocean. Standing still above the waves, I closed my eyes and thanked the heavens for letting me see the Great Pacific Ocean one more time. I prayed blessings to my family and other loved ones. I asked for forgiveness for my wrongdoings. I opened up to be of greater service to the world. And then I smiled, and walked on and had fun mimicking a wind-blown tree.

    The tide was coming in but Karen, Mimi and I still walked down to the rocky beach. On a nearby log I saw what I thought might be an Andy Goldsworthy sculpture remnant but it was simply where someone had found a mussel shell and shared it with us. We saw lots of lovely driftwood and Mimi found a green piece of sea glass or "mermaid's tear".

    As we were leaving, Mimi and I saw two large birds chasing some gulls off a nearby rock. It wasn't until these large birds flew directly overhead that we realized they were eagles. I squeezed Mimi's shoulders and screamed Eagles! and then laughed with pure delight. It was an amazing day.

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Today is a day for pictures

    Today I:

    witnessed the onset of spring,

    posed with a statue in Pioneer Square,

    watched Mimi kiss an otter,

    saw a guy on a uni-cycle,

    saw a bicycle composition (intentional art?)

    had a glorious crab cake dinner at McCormick & Schmick's,

    and attended a "First Thursday" at an area art gallery.