Pixie Portal

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Guru Thank-You

Jeff, my neighbor & good friend, has been helping me get my Mac G5 ready for use and has helped me move my files. I was just thinking that it must be a wonderful feeling to be able to take care of something like this for someone or to be able to teach someone something new. So here's a big "Cheers & Thank-You" to all the teachers and gurus who enrich our lives.

With all this computer stuff going on, I haven't had a lot of time to knit. But here's how the cable sweater sleeve is shaping up.

And here's a photo of the cats that I snapped yesterday. It's just too cute not to share. I call it -Yin & Yan Furballs.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Chloe Bug

Somehow my kitten Chloe's name has been altered to include "bug". Many times Karen and I will call her Chloe Bug or just Bug for short. Good friends Jeff & Heather call her Chloe Ball or "Clo-ball". I wonder if Chloe wanted to name herself Bug or Ball and beamed this telepathically to our primitive brains.

Anyway, the little darling fell asleep in her bed and then rolled to this adorable pose. I was only able to take one picture (sorry for the poor lighting) because the Bug LOVES to have her picture taken. She was awake the second she heard the shutter click. Yawing and grinning at me, begging me to take her picture again.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Love walked in

I finished my "first cable" scarf yesterday. Yea!! Cheers!! I drove to the nearby Knitting Bee yarn store to try some Eucalan which is a no-rinse, fine fabric wash that had been recommended to me. It worked really well on the cabled scarf.

Jamie, the store owner and my cable teacher, was at the store and was excited that I had already finished my scarf. She remembered that I was planning on knitting this sweater. (Pattern from "Knitter's Stash" book edited by Barbara Albright).

She led me around the store showing me yarn that would work for this pattern encouraging me to fondle the yarn. (Including the $12 per skein cashmere yarn. Nice try Jamie.) I told Jamie that I wanted to knit the sweater in some scrumptious cotton like the Nashua Cilantro that Shannon let me feel.

I recently met Shannon and Janet at a Stitch-n-Bitch get-together. Shannon is working on a beautiful jacket in the Nashua Cilantro. I liked her pattern so much that I back-ordered the issue of Interweave Knits it's featured in.

Jamie led me to the newest yarn love of my life - Rowan Calmer. This yarn is too yummy! It's 75% cotton and 25% acrylic. I tried (really hard) to not buy the pink yarn. Afterall, I just finished a pink sweater (and pink socks... and I have a pink bike...get the picture?) But it's delicate beauty kept calling my name.

I decided to start on the sleeves first. Strange, I know but I wanted to try the cable pattern right away. It took two starts before I could fully understand what the directions wanted me to do (the pattern was pretty vauge in places). But by midnight last night, I had this much completed. Isn't it delightful? Don't you just want to hug it?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Actors and Cables

I saw the movie "Lake House" starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock on Saturday. I would rate this chick flick a C+.

Christopher Plummer has supporting role. Mr. Plummer is one of those actors that I enjoy watching on the big screen although every time I see him, I expect him to pull out a seaman's whistle to order his children around like he did in the Sound of Music. He has superb enunciation and stage presence.

I have to admit that I made a serious error about Mr. Plummer's acting career. I thought that he was "Ming the Merciless" in the 1980 flick "Flash Gordon". He was not! This role was acted by Max von Sydow who you might remember seeing in recent movies like "Minority Report" and" What Dreams May Come".

Ah... Flash Gordon. A childhood favorite. It was one of those shows that ran continuously on cable (like Dragonslayer). My dad and I would watch it together and giggle over our favorite lines. Many of my favorite memories include watching movies with Dad. He would get tickled and start laughing with his really loud laugh. He would slip out of his chair onto the floor and bang the carpet with his hand just laughing and laughing. As a kid, this was fantastic! I would fall onto the floor with him and we would laugh until tears came to our eyes. As soon as one of us started to calm down, the other would quote the funny line again and we would start laughing all over again.

In Knitting News, I took a class on Saturday to learn how to cable. There were four other participants, all with the same level of experience. I was impressed to learn that Jamie, the yarn store's owner and our cable class teacher, had only been knitting for five years before she opened her store. Pretty cool, huh!

Cabling is easier than I thought it would be. I thought I would work a cable row on every row (wrong!). You actually work a cable row every 8 or 10 rows (depending on your pattern). I'm knitting more slowly as I knit my first cable scarf, but I'm enjoying watching the cable pattern grow. It's magic! Check it out:

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Taking a break from yarn weirdness

A landscape guy came to the house today to check on the waterfall in my backyard. My waterfall had slowed to just a trickle. He flushed the pipes (and showed me how to do it) and demonstrated a few filter maintenance tricks.

While we were in the backyard, I had time to really take in the beauty of my flowers. I was particularly struck by the astilbe blooms. I'm so glad it's summer. Life Is Good.

Twilight Zone Yarn Store

There is a yarn store in Lake Oswego, Oregon that exists in another dimension.

This is a dimension that blocks reason and sound thinking.

I traveled there recently and bought some 100% mercerized cotton yarn (OnLine Clip Linie12) in a pretty shade of cool lavender for my lacy sweater. I got it home and realized that the color is really not a good color for me. So I went back and exchanged it for a vibrant purple. Then I had the knitting night from h*ll, wherein one skein of this purple yarn got cut up and much of it thrown away.

So I went back to exchange it for some wool yarn for a felted purse. (Side note here: I hate to exchange anything. I feel awkward and nervous and just don't like to do it). I got the 100% wool yarn I needed.

Got it home. It's the wrong gauge.

Sigh. Where does my brain go when I'm in this store?

I've decided to use it anyway and have changed the purse pattern instructions for the new gauge. It will take me twice as long to knit the purse and me changing a pattern has DISASTER written all over it. But I refuse to go back to this Twilight Zone Yarn Store.

I've decided I will ALWAYS buy yarn at Cheri's Naked Sheep Knit Shop. It's my safe haven and refuge and definitely worth the long drive. Yarn bought anywhere else must be cursed or something.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Where there is a will...

Yesterday was a bad day in Wendy's Knitting World.

I finished knitting my blue purse and felted it.

And after the purse was completely dry, I realized that I had attached the purse's handles THE WRONG WAY!!


I set the project aside and knitted on my lace sweater (see yarn below). After finishing a whopping 3 inches of the 192-stitch body, I realized that I had been knitting the yarn-overs incorrectly. I was knitting them like lace eyelets, and really the yarn-overs pull the knitting to make it seem like a mock cable.

So... frogged the three inches of knitting. Just started pulling yarn out like a crazy person. So it got incredibly twisted and knotted. Even with Karen's patient (and very quiet) help in unknotting the yarn, we ended up making 6 or more cuts of it. The original skein of 100+grams is now 3 tiny wound skeins and 2 whopping, knots of yarn that (in despair and anguish), I threw in the trash!

I went to sleep feeling very sorry for my yarn self and dreamed yarn nightmares and possible solutions all night.

This morning I took several deep breaths, got out my left-handed (yes, I'm left-handed... probably explains a lot), chrome, super duper, incredibly sharp and impressive sewing shears and prepared to do some knitting surgery.

I CUT THE PURSE HANDLES OFF!! And then sewed them back on properly. Ran the handles under hot water and rubbed the stitches to created the felted look.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

And I will say that the saying is true - "Pride goeth before a fall". Because... I knit the blue (botched up) purse to take home to TN. I plan on giving it to a friend. I planned on showing it off a bit and make great statements like "Yes, I knit full-time now. Isn't it beautiful?!"

Now I'm just praying that the damn handles to the purse don't fall off before I can get my (now humble) ass back to Portland.

So, without further ado... here's some pictures:

Chloe the cat says, "What a big purse you knitted. You are going to felt that, right? Wait.. those purse handles are sewn on wrong. Stop Mom! Don't felt it yet! Stupid humans. Why don't they listen?"

Surgical sewing scissors

Finished (patched up) purse.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Nanny & knitting news

I promised myself that I wouldn't blog until I had a letter to my Nanny in the mail. My sweet Nanny, who lives in Tennessee, writes me a letter 2-3 times a month. I treasure her letters. She tells me about how her tomatoes are growing, what sewing she's working on (she does alterations for lots of people), who has been to visit her, what the weather is like and how much gas/milk costs back home. Her letters are so sweet and wholesome. My letters make me look frenetic in comparison.

In knitting news, I should finish knitting my blue felted purse today. I told Karen that she could look forward to having the house smell like wet wool tomorrow.

I registered for a "first cables" class for Saturday 6/24. We will be knitting a cabled scarf. Of course, I usually get nervous in knitting classes (lots of nervous sweats for me but funny blog-reading for you!) I hope that I'll like knitting cables. There are so many beautiful sweater patterns that have cables. I bought some gorgeous Noro yarn for the class: Noro Cash Iroha which is 40% silk, 30% lamb's wool, 20% cashmere and 10% nylon.

I also completed the first "set" of my candle-flame lace scarf (pattern from knitpicks.com) This is supposed to look like a candle flame (yeah....right....okay then).
Each set has 36 different rows. I was wisely advised to work a lifeline into the knitting once I finished a set (that's the yellow string you see) in case I (heaven forbid!) should have to rip back. This is the purple yarn Marjorie of Missouri gifted to me as part of her stash reduction See previous blog here.

Lastly, I'm so thrilled to announce that Knitter/author/blogger Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka The Yarn Harlot is coming to Portland! She is scheduled to appear at Powell's bookstore on Burnside on September 6th. I read (and laugh with) her blog daily. This event is on my calendar!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Pink Sweater Finished

Pattern: Sitcom Chic from Knitty.com
Started: May 19th
Finished: June 13th
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Sierra - 80% pima cotton, 20% wool
Color: Raspberry pink
Needles: 7US

I really enjoyed knitting this sweater! I knitted the body while on my Alaska cruise. I liked knitting the bolero shape back and forth on the ciruclar and adding decreases every 6 rows. And I loved knitting the sleeves in the round from the bottom up! Now when I look at sweater patterns, the first thing I check for is if the sleeves are knitted in the round. The only pattern variations I made were to add some length to the sleeves and to have two buttons instead of one. There are more pictures here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lacy Sweater

I've found my next project. I'm going to knit the lacy sweater featured on Knitty.com. I spent several hours looking for yarn online and finally bought this yummy, vibrant 100% cotton yarn at a local yarn store. You know.... sometimes you just have to hold the yarn in order to decide if it's a fit for you.

I've pledged that I won't start the sweater (well, maybe just the swatch for gauge) until I finish the felted bag I've started. I plan to take the bag to Tennessee in July. But having my next project waiting in the wings is a big motivator.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Oh my goodness!

Two Sharp Sticks has added me to their blogroll. Look for Pixie Portal under the "Love the Lovely Knitters" list on the right. Woo-Hoo! Yee-haw!

PS - this is one of my favorite baby pictures. I wanted to share it with you to show my delight.


Three years ago today, I looked at my best friend in a whole new way. Happy Anniversary My Love!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Online movies

If you have a high-speed connection, check out these two movies. I think they are delightful!

Sony "bouncy ball" commercial announces their Bravia LCD that has "color like no other". In this commercial, over 250,000 bouncy balls where released in San Francisco. My favorite part is the frog shot.

This short movie shows what happens when your stick figure animation doesn't go according to plan. Fun animation!

Knitty calendar contest

I've finished knitting my pink sweater. I still have to knit it's side and neck bands and block it but then I'll be done!

I saw that Knitty is conducting a calendar contest. Since my pink sweater is a Knitty pattern, I might enlist Karen (and Jeff if he's interested) in taking some fun photos to see if we can get in the calendar. Here are last year's winning calendar pages.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Heather's Baby Shower

Yesterday was Heather's baby shower. It was a beautiful event and a great day!

I served crab cakes and sauce, broccoli cheese puffs, marionberry scones with whipped cream-cheese, fruit salad, chips, chocolate-dipped cherries and an ice-cream cake.

Heather had lots of packages to open and I took pictures of every one. She got lots of clothes for her soon-to-be born son, Ethan. Heather is so photogenic! This is one of my favorite photos of the shower. You can find a few more photos here.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sweaters to spare

This pictures was on cuteoverload.com today. Squirrel sweaters- leaves me speechless! Can't you just hear the squirrel snickering, "Hee, hee!". Look at his expression!

In further sweater news, I met with my knitting instructor, Tess, for a private session on Wednesday. She helped me join the sleeves to the body of my pink sweater. I had never knitted this type of join before and just couldn't get it from the instructions. This diagram she drew for me was most helpful:

She also taught me a different method to add a new ball of yarn to my knitting as well as the proper way to bind-off stitches. Since Wednesday, I've knitted about 4 more inches on the sweater and am now ready to begin yoke detailing.

Yesterday I got on an organizing tangent. It started with cleaning out the medicine drawer I have in my bathroom. My cough sryup bottle had spilled and the drawer needed to be wiped down and some things had to be tossed. But this task gave me the cleaning-out bug. Do you ever have those days? I cleaned and organized the upstairs junk drawer and then the downstairs junk drawer. Then reorganized the laundry room. The rest of the house has cat-hair dust bunnies but my junk drawers are tidy! Heaven help this crazy gal!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Pointless but interesting

I saw this questionnaire on another blog and thought I would share--Fill in the blanks about your senior year in high school:

{The picture- I'm second from the left-the one with the huge, fuzzy, "Dynasty-like" hair}

Who was your best friend?
Amy Pitner. She had beautiful red hair and the longest eyelashes I've ever seen.

What sports did you play?
Cheerleader. I'll let you decide if that qualifies as a sport.

What kind of car did you drive?
A beige Dodge Omni. The driver's window wouldn't roll down and the passenger door wouldn't open. In high school, my nickname was "Chicken". This beige car became known as "Chicken's Nugget". (Nope, not kidding.)

It's Friday night, where were you?
Cheering at a football/basketball game and then dancing at our high school dance. Our high school had dances almost every Friday night. And it was neat that for the upbeat, fast songs, girls danced with girls. You only danced with boys during the slow numbers.

Were you a party animal?

Were you considered a flirt?

Ever skip school?
Only a couple of times during lunch period. My high school was WAY out in the boondocks so it was fun to jump in the car and drive to the Burger King (which was about 20 minutes away). Many times I would be late for the class after lunch but I always got away with it.

Ever smoke?
Not one cigarette

Were you a nerd?
Not in a geeky way but you could say that I was an overly-religious nerd.

Did you get suspended/expelled?

Can you sing the alma mater?
No, but I sure remember the fight song cheer.

Who was your favorite teacher?
My English teacher (whose name escapes me). She took a small group of us to England, Scotland and Ireland.

Favorite class?
Our typing class was a social, out-of-control, fun class.

What was your school's full name?
Seymour High School

School mascot?

Did you go to prom?
Yes, but only my senior year

If you could go back and do it over, would you?
I wouldn't change a thing.

What do you remember most about graduation?
There was a big competition between Lisa France and Bill Meyers (who were both wildly popular) for who would be valedictorian. It became a real "girls vs. boys" competition throughout the school.

Favorite memory of senior year?
Winning state cheerleading championship

Did you have a job your senior year?
Working the drive-through at Wendy's. (Yes, Wendy worked at Wendy's and yes... I heard that line often!)

Where did you go most often for lunch?
White Star deli, right across the street from the high school.

Have you gained weight since then?
Does anyone answer this question with a no?

What did you do after graduation?
Attended the University of Tennessee.

When did you graduate high school?

{More pictures- I remember wanting to pose with Amy for this prom picture. There were SO MANY gay indicators I just didn't see! Don't you just love the electric-blue prom dress?!!}

Here's the cutie I went to the prom with:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Garter stitch sweat and buttons

Well I've joined the ranks of other crazy knitter/bloggers who like to photograph their knitting by placing it on plants.

Here's the start of the blue purse on a hosta plant:

And here's the beginning of the candle-flame shawl on some blue fescue.

I started both projects on Sunday because I'm at a standstill with regards to my pink sweater. I'm totally lost as to how the pattern instructions want me to join the sleeves to the body. I've contacted an instructor and hope to get un-stuck either tomorrow or Thursday.

My plan was to work only on the blue bag. But knitting only in garter stitch was getting to me. I don't know if any of you do this but when I work solely in garter stitch, I end up knitting faster and faster. Like I'm running a sprint or something. In fact, I looked like Jennifer Beals in "Flashdance" when she was running in tight little circles with sweat flying off her elbows. I started to get painfully tight between my shoulder blades.

So I cast on for the candle-flame shawl (which had 18 rows of garter stitch to start). But last night I started the lace pattern. For me, knitting a lace pattern requires a lot of attention and I end up knitting at a snail's pace.

It's been fun switching between the two. It seems like sprinting and then yoga!

On another note, I went to Joann's fabrics today to look for a button for the pink sweater. Do you know that line in "You've Got Mail" where Tom Hanks says that ordering coffee at Starbucks gives you a defining sense of self? Such as, "I'm a grande, no-whip mocha". Well, I felt like that when looking for a button for my sweater. There were aisles and aisles of an overwhelming selection of buttons. Which button would I choose and what would that "say" about me?

Finally, I just laughed and said "Lighten up Gal!" So this is the button I chose (pictured on labrador violets). We'll see how it looks when I get the sweater completed.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

So sore

I did a series of dumbbell squats (like this picture) yesterday during my Jazzercise circuit-training class. I knew I was working out hard because the sweat was dripping off my chin and elbows. I had no idea that I would be this freakin' sore today! My inner thighs are screaming at me!

I managed to do four Jazzercise classes this week. Thank heavens, I decided to take today off from workouts. However, I've been walking funny all day. A hot tub is calling my name!

Lotus Blossom Tank Lust

I have "second-sleeve-itis". As I'm knitting the second sleeve for my pink sweater, all I can think about is all the other projects I want to work on. In particular, I'm in love with this Lotus Blossom Tank featured in the Summer issue of Interweave Knits magazine.

I'm trying to resist ordering the yarn for this tank. After all, I want to knit and felt another purse like this one (except in a vivid, sea-like blue) before I go home to Tennessee in July. And I already have the yarn for this project.

Also on my list is to knit this Candleflame shawl from Knitpicks. I have the yarn for this project too.

I have enough yarn and projects to see me through until at least August. So why am I obsessed with the Lotus Blossom top? Is it because the pattern calls for bamboo yarn which I've not used before? Is it because I would probably order the yarn online and have the wonderful experience of yarn delivered to the door? Or is it the lovely lace bottom of this tank?

I'm trying to convince myself that the tank wouldn't look that good on me and that I would rarely wear it. Or that I wouldn't finish it until Fall (and who wants to wear a tank then?). Or that I would have to buy a whole outfit (including shoes!) to go with it (not such a bad thing but would take away from yarn money).

I'm really trying to convince myself!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

June musings

I love taking pictures of the plants around my home. This is a picture of a seed pod from the maple tree in my backyard.

I haven't quite gotten my post-vacation, blogging mojo back. I'm distracted a bit by a constant twitch of my right eyelid/eyebrow. I saw the eye doctor and he says I'm fine. Apparently, eye twitches can happen due to eye strain, stress (not feeling any), increased caffeine (nope) or for no reason at all. But this has been going on for almost two weeks and I'm tired of it.

I hope to regale you with some interesting stories soon.