Pixie Portal

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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Duck Rescue - A True Story

One day, a girl named Wendy was chopping zucchini and looking out her window. She noticed some ducks crossing the street. She phoned her best friends and neighbors. "Quick," she said. "There are ducks crossing the street!"

Wendy's friends Karen, Jeff, and Heather came running out to see the ducks. They were so excited that they came outside in their bare feet. When they arrived, they saw a mother duck and her six ducklings.
"Why are the ducks here?", Jeff asked.

"We don't know", was the group's reply.

"The ducks aren't safe here," Jeff said. "They need to head toward the creek and safety".

"I know!" he said. "I will show them the way".

So Jeff began to encourage the momma duck and her ducklings back across the street.

"I can't leave," cried the mother duck.

"Wait!" Jeff exclaimed. "One of the ducklings has fallen into the storm sewer!"

"Oh no!" cried the group. "We must get the duckling out!"

Jeff and Karen quickly lifted the sewer gate and Wendy climbed down.

"Wait!" Jeff exclaimed. "The duckling has crossed to the other side".

"We could catch the duckling with the fish net", said Karen.

"Great idea!" the group called.

And then Jeff caught the duckling in the net and brought it safely out of the storm sewer.

"I'm so proud and I'm so happy," cried Heather.

"This is wonderful!" the group shouted. "Hurray!"

And thanks to the loving duck friends, Wendy, Karen, Heather and Jeff, the duckling was reunited with her family. And the mother duck and her ducklings waddled away. And the friends were very happy. All was right and good in the world.

For more pictures, click here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Dirty Again


I had another glorious day in the sun, playing with my garden beds. These are my feet and legs after I finished. Pig Pen strikes again!

I dug up the five ralphiolepis we had in the front beds and replaced them with three golden euonymus and two red-tipped photinia. The ralphiolepis were straggly and struggling. They had to go.

Before:

After:

I'll have to keep my eye on all the new shrubs as they can grow very tall (anywhere from 6 feet - 15 feet!) and wide quickly but I'm confident I can keep them trimmed and beautiful.

Afterwards, I took the tags that came with the plants and taped them to copy paper, slid the paper into a sheet protector, and added it to my landscaping three-ring binder. I'm SUCH an organizational geek! It's really quite scary.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

kpixie ponchette


When I saw a picture of Wendy of the Knit & Tonic blog wearing this beautiful ponchette, I knew that I had to have it and had to knit it.

I tried to resist; I promise! After all, I have Karen's sleeveless summer shell, my pink summer sweater, and a sock, all on the needles. All begging for my attention.

It couldn't be helped. I was infected by the "new knitting project" demon.

My yarn and pattern arrived from kpixie on Monday. This is the first time I've ordered yarn online.

This is also the first time I've knitted with hemp yarn. It's interesting. It feels a bit waxy and slides off the needles so easily.

Knit & Tonic's Wendy wrote that she knitted her ponchette in three days. I don't know if I'll be quite so fast but I hope to finish it quickly (so that I can wear it!) and can return to my previous projects.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How delightfully bad!


I saw this book " Subversive Cross Stitch- 35 designs for your surly side" and I'm so tempted to get it. It has all of these nasty sayings neatly cross-stitched with bunnies and hearts and cutsie designs around them. Why does this have such appeal? I guess it's because we all have days when we have these kind of attitudes. Makes me want to cross-stitch some pillows. Click here to check it out.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Saturday market - on Sunday


In all of my excitement to blog about my new bike, I neglected to write about the rest of my weekend.

Check out Karen's blog to read about our discovery of Willamette Falls. Portland's wonders never cease!

On Sunday we also attended Portland's Saturday market. Yes, it runs both weekend days.

I took a picture of this fountain and was so excited when I downloaded it. The camera caught the water drops in motion. Too cool! Click on the picture for a closer look.

Anyway, we browsed the shops and listened to some excellent live music. I stopped to take a picture of this bag-pipe player (on a drink break). I thought he had such excellent locks and a cool outfit. It wasn't until I got home and downloaded the picture that I noticed the SNAKE MAN to the left of bag-pipe man. I must have walked right by the snakes and not even noticed. How is that possible?! In retrospect, I'm kinda glad I didn't see the snakes until after.

With such a busy weekend, I didn't get much knitting accomplished. I did manage a few rows of Karen's shell while we were driving around. So, I'm off to knit now!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Today I learned to ride a bike


As a kid, I never learned to ride a bike. I never even tried. My parents didn't ride and I grew up in the country (think gravel roads and cows fields) so my friends didn't ride bikes either.

And I never missed it until I moved to Portland. LOTS of people in Portland ride bikes. There are bike lanes on most roads. People here ride bikes for fun, for sport and to get to work. For the two years I've lived in Portland I could feel my fellow citizens urging me to join them.

Today, I joined their ranks.

The bike salesman was very kind. He didn't scoff or laugh at me. He just calmly helped me pick out my first bike. I have a Townie Electra. In pink. (I have reclaimed pink. I adore it.)

And after one hour, I was balancing and pedaling and coasting. I was biking.

Of course Karen's help was essential. She ran around in circles helping me balance and giving me starter pushes and encouraging me every step of the way.

There is a great line in one of my favorite movies- The Village: "He had a laugh that could be heard three houses away". I have a laugh like that. A loud and very tickled laugh. Today as I learned to ride a bike, I laughed so much that my sides hurt. My face was beaming for the rest of the night and I keep saying to myself, "I'm 35 years old and I've just learned to ride my bike... my pink bike!"

I can't wait to get out and try again tomorrow!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Books, pets, llamas, and plants


What a wonderful day!

It was sunny today in Portland and Karen and I got an early start.

First, we went to Multnomah Village which I have nicknamed "The Hidden Village". I found this quaint shopping district by accident one day. I was lost and stumbled upon it. Since that day (last Fall) I have tried to find it again. If you've read my earlier posts, you know that I have no sense of direction. I am directionally challenged. It's like dyslexia or something. I'm waiting for a superstar to come forward and be the spokesperson for this strange affliction. Anyway...a few weeks ago I found The Hidden Village again. A lovely yarn store lives there. So today, Karen came with me and we shopped the stores. The best store there is an independent bookstore - Annie Bloom's books. Lots of interesting books. I purchased "Labyrinth" by Kate Mosse and I can't wait to dive into it!

Next we went to the Northwest Pet and Companion Fair held at the Portland Expo Center. Lots of people there who are in serious love with their pets.

And it had... an indoor petting zoo. With baby cows and deer and llamas and rams.. Oh My! What fun!

We managed to leave the pet fair without adopting any new family members. We explored the lovely Nob Hill neighborhood and lunched at a McMennamins restaurant (fabulous Ruby Ale! I'm not a big beer drinker but that stuff is fantastic!).

We then went to the Cornell Farm Nursery. I was there to identify one of the plants I already have in my backyard. Turns out, it's an atypical azalea. Karen and I had a lot of fun taking pictures of the beautiful flowers.


It was a glorious day in the sun! All in all, I was patting myself on the back for not splurging on books or yarn or plants.... until... we went to the camera store to get some photos developed. We left with an external flash for our Nikon. And then after dinner, we thought we would "just walk" around the nearby Copelands Sporting Good store. But oops.. they had "Life Is Good" tshirts on sale for $10. I LOVE these shirts. Had to have several. Because, you know, Life is Good!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Pay attention Wendy



I'm enjoying this sock yarn. It's Lorna's Laces hand-dyed, superwash wool in a sport weight. I have about 4 inches of the first sock knitted. Isn't it pretty? It think it will go great with blue jeans (which is all I wear!).

I had to rip out the 3 inches I had knitted on the back of Karen's sleeveless summer shell. I was supposed to change needles after 6 rows and I completely forgot.

I've been helping Karen by learning about how to place a Google advertisement. Google has a wonderful online, video, tutorial program that explains their advertising process. If you are interested, click here.

Anyway, I was watching and listening to their tutorials, taking notes, drinking Diet Coke, petting the cats and knitting. Obviously, this was one too many things! Forgot to change those knitting needles.

No worries. I just started the shell over (again!).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fun photo website

Click here for a website that shows you random Flickr photo favorites. Refresh or reload to get a new batch. It's a lot of beautiful photo candy for your senses.

Here's one of my personal favorites of Karen and Phoebe:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April walk in my garden


The sun is out so I grabbed my camera to take a few shots of my flowers and shrubs. I was outside in a really short pair of sweats, an old tshirt and bobby socks. None of these clothing items matched. And I had serious bed-hair and didn't put on a cap. Of course, I ran into two neighbors. Never Fails!

Click here to see my garden photos.

12 things you never wanted to know about knitting and craft fairs

I've been pondering with the idea of knitting a bunch of purses and taking them to a craft fair and selling them. It would be a way to fund my knitting habit. And I get a kick out of the idea that my one of my knitted purses would be out in the world on the arm of a complete stranger. So I did some research and this is what I discovered:

1. Most craft festivals are hosted by area chambers of commerce.

2. Chamber of Commerce websites are some of the worst in the world. Their web pages are too busy, they have horrible navigation and you can't find what you are looking for. Awful! Awful!

3. Vendor information for crafts fairs is virtually non-existent. One must repeatedly call the Chambers and wait on hold and get hung up upon and call again just to get simple information like how much a booth costs. And just forget finding that information online. (PS... I could go into a huge rant here about how spoiled I am by the internet. I don't want to call someone for heaven's sake! I want to read about it online! Don't they know about anti-social, internet lovers like me?!)

4. Chambers of Commerce are inefficient. There are 200+ vendors at these shows. Which means they have to (poorly!) answer 200+ phone calls from vendors. For heavens sake! Put this info on the Internet! OK... enough picking on the Chambers.

5. One must plan a year in advance to apply to become a craft fair vendor. No kidding! I checked out craft fairs that will be held from June through December. All of them had a January - March application process. It's April so I've missed the boat for the rest of 2006.

6. Craft fairs are "juried". Which means that as part of your application you have to submit several pieces of your work. A jury will judge if it's too ugly for their fair. Also, if there are 20 knitters who want a spot and the fair has places for 10, the jury picks which 10 get to go. Does anyone remember The Gong Show on tv? It would be freakin' horrible to have your knitting rejected.

7. Farmer's markets only sell food, candles, wreaths and wine. No knitting sold there.

8. Portland's Saturday Market... Rocks!!
Their information is all online. They accept Guest Vendors. It only takes 7 days to get your stuff approved. The booths are cheap- $36 on Saturdays, $20 on Sundays. Saturday Market is established and well visited. Yea for Saturday Market!!

9. Knitting is a slow craft. It takes around 14 days to knit a purse. Therefore you could knit two purses per month. It would take 5 months to create an inventory of 10 purses. 10 months to create a 20 purse inventory.

10. Yarn can be expensive. It costs around $50 to buy purse yarn.

11. Knitting doesn't pay. The most you could probably sell a hand-knit purse for is $85. This is a $35 profit. This means that you only earn around 60 CENTS for every hour you knit. Or to look at it another way, you could spend 5 months knitting 10 purses and if you were able to sell them, you would make $350... for five months worth of work. Yikes!

12. If you decide to knit bags for resale, do it for the love of the craft.

I haven't decided if this is something I want to pursue. But I thought I would share this knowledge with you-- How Wendy spent five hours on Tuesday!

And now, after such a serious post.... a cat picture to make you smile.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hailstorm


The hail poured down for a few minutes, covered the ground, then melted away. A few minutes later, the sun was out.
Freaky!

Finished Socks


Last night I bit the bullet and decided to finish my socks myself rather than wait until this Wednesday's "Toe Shaping and Sock Finishing class".

My hands started to cramp as I did the final decreases from 10 stitches down to five stitches per needle. And the knitting seemed really tight so at times it was hard to knit two together. But I did it!

They fit beautifully! Especially around the heel and instep. There are a couple of small gaps but I've convinced myself that's just for feet ventillation.

I was tempted to sleep in them. I'm so proud! I'll want to wear them all the time!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Flat Stanley, Smart Cars, and Sock Yarn


Karen's 6-yr old niece, Emily, asked for our help with one of her school projects. Emily cut out and colored a paper doll named "Flat Stanley" (inspired by the book by Jeff Brown).

Emily mailed us Flat Stanley asking us if he could be a guest in our home and if we could write a journal about his trip with us. We then send Flat Stanley to others who will eventually send Flat Stanley back home to Emily.

Well, Karen and I took to this little project like a duck to water!!!

Yesterday, Flat Stanley arrived in the mail from Tennessee. We spent today driving around town taking his picture at various places. Here's Karen with Flat Stanley by the Portland Children's Museum. We also took him to the Zoo and Library! Too fun!!


On another note, I guess I'm beginning to really enjoy knitting socks because I couldn't wait to buy some sock yarn. I purchased four skeins of Lorna's Shepherd Sport yarn (Tahoe color), some more needles and two sock patterns from my favorite knitting store The Naked Sheep Knit Shop.
The store owners were having an easter egg hunt wherein they hid plastic eggs with hidden surprises. Karen found me an egg with a free "Knit Naked" bumper sticker.


As we were driving home, we saw a Smart car. They are incredibly small...like clown cars. Have you seen these little darlings? They look like this:

Since we had the camera with us, I started flashing pictures of this little cute car. Have you tried to take pictures while in a moving car? Not easy, even when you aren't driving! It was whizzing away between cars and I was yelling at Karen, "Catch it! Catch it!" We were laughing and having a big time. When we had to pass the car, we saw where the owners were having a good laugh with us... or at us... nah, with us! Here's the one we saw:

It's been a great day! Long live Flat Stanley!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Knitting News


TV can mess up your knitting. I was completely enthralled with watching "Lost" while I was knitting the left and right straps to Karen's sleeveless summer shell. I mean, it's just stockinette, so I was zipping right along.

Until I realized that I had knitted the neck decreases on the left side but not the right. Sigh. I held it up for Karen who told me that she liked the side without the decreases better. "You're sure?" I asked. "Yep", she replied. "I mean you are really sure?" I inquire with my eyebrows lifted way up. (The eyebrows were saying "Be sure, because there is NO way I'm knitting this again!") "I like it better", she replied.

So, I ripped out the decreases and then finished knitting both sides. It makes the neck shaping more square. Hopefully we will both be happy with this decision once the piece is finished. Here's a picture:


Here's a sock update.

I finished the heel flap on my first sock (homework complete, check!) and decided to cast on for my second sock. I knitted it until I had the heel flap complete as well. I compared it to the first sock and decided there was no way I was going to leave that first sock the way it was. There were too many dropped stitches, twisted stitches and holes. So I ripped it out and have started the first sock again.

On Wednesday night, I went to my second session of "How to make a sock" class. I was really nervous about turning the heel. What little I thought I knew about socks, I imagined that this would be the worst part. Well, turning the heel was easy. The instructions were really clear and I was able to knit it without error.

The picking up stitches to knit the gusset.... this is the step that will make you sweat buckets. I was sweating in the crooks of my elbows and behind my knees. I've only picked up stitches once before and I had a really hard time with it.

The instructor kept calmly saying, "Pick up these two loops". While inside my head is screaming, "Which loops! It's all loops for heavens sake! It all looks the same!"

My other problem was that I wanted to pick up the stitches from back to front. The instructor was (wisely!) standing right behind me telling me "Pick up front front to back.... No Wendy.... FRONT TO BACK".

I ended up chanting "front to back, front to back, front to back" I imagine I looked like Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman".

But, ta-dah! I managed to pick up the stitches and knit that gusset! I'm now knitting down the foot to the toe. We will knit the toe and finish the sock this Wednesday in class.

I plan to knit the second sock this week and hopefully turn the heel and knit the gusset on my own. I would love to finish both socks next week. Check out my sock!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Macro lens for the camera


Our macro lens for our Nikon D50 arrived today. I immediately put it on the camera and started flashing pictures of the cats and my knitting.

Our older cat Phoebe doesn't like the flash but our youngest cat Chloe loves to pose. Here is my favorite of the 50 photos I've taken today.

If you click on the photo, you'll get a larger picture. Check out the barbs on her tongue! I'm already in love with this new lens.

New yarn has arrived!

Yesterday I was pulling out of my garage to go to an appointment when I saw a post office package by my front door.

I slammed the car to a stop, threw on the emergency brake and came flying out of the car. I swooped up the package and raced inside to open it.

It was my yarn, my new stash from Marjorie of Missouri. You can read about why Marjorie was sending me yarn here.

I'm so thrilled to be the recipient of Marjorie's 6 skeins of Mango Bouton d'Or in a gorgeous purple color.

She was kind enough to send me a handwritten note and two patterns for lightweight camisoles.

I feel so blessed!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Window gazing


This weekend, I finished planting and mulching the backyard. There are 16 new plants! I can't wait to show Karen (who flies home tonight).

The kittens took the time to admire the view and to bask in the sun. There are more pictures--just click here

Friday, April 07, 2006

My cat, the artist

When you hear a crash in the night and a cat cry out, you come running.

I found Chloe the kitten conducting a bit of free-form artistry by changing this:


to this:


Nicely done, don't you think?

Sock Madness


On Wednesday I started a "Knit Basic Socks" class.

Now in the past, if I was going to start something new, I would go to the library or bookstore and research my subject. I like to feel prepared... helps with my confidence.

But for this sock class, I decided that I would simply show up. After all, the class description said that the skills needed for the class were basic knitting skills. Well, I know how to cast on, knit, purl and bind off so I thought I was set.

I sat down at the classroom table and confidently took out my worsted weight yarn and 2 of my size 5 needles. My fellow classmate smiled and said, "You are going to need all five of your needles."

First flutterings of panic. Little birds have taken residence in my chest and are frantically beating their wings. If I listen closely I can hear them squeak, "Run away, run away!" So, give me a point for not creating a fantastic lie and running from the room.

The instructor then had us cast on 40 stitches and then begin to knit a basic knit-two and purl-two rib onto 4 (FOUR) needles. Take away a point for me loudly blurting, "Holy Sh*@!"

We then join all of this together, creating a circle or tube. Now, I've worked in the round before so I'm starting to calm down. A bit.

But then the instructor says that we are going to work around using a fifth needle. Now give me credit. I did not complete the expletive that wanted to blurt out. I stopped myself at "ffffffffuuu!" I even tried to blow off the curse I just started by ending it with a panicked chuckle, "huh, huh, hah".

The instructor reminds me to keep breathing. I manage to do so and knit but I end up holding my breath and then gasping. Not pretty to see or to hear. She smiles and says, "Knitting your first sock is an act of faith". I manage to choke back the "No Sh*@!" that is echoing through my head.

So with shoulders bunched, hands shaking I managed to complete several inches of ribbing during class. The instructor stated that we needed to have at least five inches of our sock completed before the next class. She explained that many times students will make a mistake like dropping a stitch or two and want to rip back and start over.

She wisely added that we are not to do this but to keep knitting until we get the five inches completed. Then, if we want to start a second sock (without the imperfections) we are welcome to do so. I particularly loved her comment that our first socks would not be taken to the State Fair and that we should drop the perfectionism and just concentrate on learning.

Great advice! Very wise indeed. For how can she teach me to turn the heel if I don't have a heel knitted?

So, despite my groans and curses (and many! dropped stitches) I am proud to say that I have my homework complete and I've cast on a second sock.

If you look closely at my homework, you'll see the ribbing on the far right (which will hold the sock up on my leg), the stockinette part (in the middle), and the waffle-stitch heel flap (far left)....and several holes!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mulch satisfaction


After two days (approximately 7 hours) I'm pleased to report that the front beds have been mulched.

I celebrated with a Burgerville strawberry milkshake and a few plants for the front bed. I planted several sedums (which seem to like the rock beds) and two wood spurges. Even with the new plants, the front bed looks bare to me. I'm looking forward to the summer flowers.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I won! I won!

On Saturday, after posting my stash in honor of "flash your stash" day, I visited the official flash site and saw where a knitter named Marji from Missouri was going to send a gift of fiberly love to a stash in need.

I visited Marji's site and was totally impressed not only by her stash but also her beautiful knitting. Additionally, she partakes in some really cool knit-alongs. She posted on her site that she would be checking her blog comments for people who felt like they had a stash in need. In a moment of lustful envy, I left her a short comment.

Later that day I commented to Karen that I hardly ever win anything and that I felt that I was jinxed to be unlucky by an old boss. Here's that story: one of my former employers (his name is Butch) used to have a huge Christmas party wherein he would give away lots of Christmas presents. And these presents were awesome! He would create a living room/kitchen scene complete with lots of furniture, appliances, and smaller gifts. Each person would get a ticket and he would have a child pull out winning ticket numbers. Even though there were hundreds of employees, there were so many presents that around one of every three people would win something. The first year I worked for him and didn't win anything he said, "Well you must not be living "right". The second year (still no gift for Wendy) he said, "God rewards the virtuous- you must be living in too much sin". Can you believe that?! An employer!

Anyway, since then I've felt unlucky and really paranoid about even trying to win anything. Anytime I've thought about putting my name in a hat to win something, I could hear Butch in my head shouting "Sinful Loser!!"

I shared this story with Karen and of course she laughed. She said, "I have lifted this curse from you. You are now a lucky person."

And LO AND BEHOLD, I WON SOMETHING!

When I got Marji's email that I had won a piece of her stash, I laughed out loud and jumped up and down in my chair. I got up and did a little celebration jig! Yee-haw!! I've won something!

Thank you Marji for your generous gift. I really look forward to receiving it!! And thank you Karen for lifting the curse!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Flash your stash


Knitters everywhere in blogland are "flashing their stash" today. So I thought I would join in and show you mine. Feel free to click on the pictures for a closer look.

DISCLAIMER: while knitters might really appreciate a chance to see my stash, non-knitters will probably find this blog entry as interesting as watching moss grow.
Here's everything:


My stash has two categories: remnant stash and new yarn. Remnant stash is left-over yarn from various yarn projects.
Exhibit 1:

7 skeins of light brown wool-ease. These skeins are left-over from the Unfinished Afghan We Do Not Mention. That afghan is now swimming with the fishes. I attempted to give this yarn a second chance. I knitted some four inch squares of different patterns. While doing so, I caught a horrible cold. Which goes to show you that this yarn hates me and must find a new home. After taking the picture, I bagged it up to take to Goodwill.

Exhibit 2:

These four skeins are left-over from knitting my very first scarves. I purchased the yarn from Michael's craft store (before I knew the glory of "real" yarn stores). I was keeping it for sentimental reasons. Now that I've upgraded my yarn consumption (and quality of yarn), this yarn feels just yucky to me. I know that I'll never knit anything with it. So, it got bagged up to take to Goodwill as well.

Exhibit 3:

This is yarn left-over from a felted purse, a hat, my first sweater, and my first baby blanket. I loved working with all this yarn. And when I look at it I think of knitting an eyeglass case (with the purple) or a baby booties (with the yellow). Anyway, it's too good to give up.

Exhibit 4:

This is the accent yarn from the Unfinished Afghan We Do Not Mention. It's Merino Superwash- a fine quality yarn. This yarn has no evil ju-ju like the above mentioned brown yarn. My hope is that there is enough yarn here to knit two pairs of socks. My first sock class begins Wednesday 4/5 so the fate of this yarn won't be known until the end of April.

Exhibit 5:

This is the left-over yarn from my first attempt at Karen's sleeveless summer shell. Aacckk. This yarn is painful to look at right now. I have no idea what I'll end up doing with it.

Exhibit 6:

This is my only New Yarn Stash. It's four skeins of 100% wool and two skeins of accent yarn. My plan is to make another felted purse out of this. True stashers would consider this as my only "real" stash.

You see, the knitting and yarn obsessed people (like me) like to feel that if a cataclysmic event... like major storms or floods or erupting volcanoes or cylon attacks... happened that we could grab our stash and stay calm while knitting through the emergencies.

There are knitters out their that have stash beyond what they could possibly knit in their lifetime. I kid you not! They have created a term to proudly define themselves-- SABLE - stash amassed beyond life expectancy.

I'm such a new knitter that I don't yet recognize those unique skeins that one happens upon in the yarn store and simply must have. Right now I'm just going from project to project, buying new yarn when the previous project is complete.

But if you are interested in seeing some serious stashers, click here.