Pairs of socks knitted in 2014

  • Roxanne's socks
  • Brian's Cascade socks
  • Shirley's lacy socks
  • striped Meredith socks
  • striped stranded #1

Friday, December 17, 2010

World's cutest photobomb

 The Mimi loves to be the center of attention, especially if there's a camera around.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Toddler excursions into taxidermy and photography

Shirley's teddy bear, photo taken by Shirley

On Saturday, we went to Cat's house to celebrate the arrival of BTK ("Broken Toothed Killer") from the taxidermist. I was slightly nervous about taking Shirley to the open house, but decided to anyway. For the last eight months or so, our Saturday morning routine has been that she and  I go to the farmer's market for a few hours. Now that the market is closed for the winter (because really, who wants to go shopping at an out door market when it's windy and rainy and 35 degrees?) Shirley has been having difficulty adjusting to the new (marketless) routine.
Every Saturday, she wakes up and asks "Me go market?" and then has a meltdown when I try to explain the concept of "closed." (Techno-baby that she is, we've settled on telling her "it's buffering, just like Netflix does. It just takes a lot longer to buffer.") So I thought an open house gathering with friends would be a great Saturday event--as long as she didn't get freaked out by the large dead cougar that was the guest of honor.

[stuffed] cougar, photo taken by Shirley

Shirley and the cougar
She thought it was great! As soon as she saw that people were posing for pictures with it, she wanted her picture taken with it. Then, she wanted to take pictures of it and everything else in the house. Like the picture of "Teddy," her bear that she carries with her everywhere. She's got a good eye! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spinning report

I've been spinning up some local wool from Hungry Hill Farm. The proprietress has such an amazing color sense! Colors I wouldn't dream of combining--sage green, ochre, flaming crimson--go into her carder and come out in a riotous Mardi Gras of fiber. It's like happiness in a batt. Not the exhuberant manic intensity of Loop batts, but more like the solid comfort of Mexican hot chocolate. It's wonderful and warm with a surprising bite that keeps you interested.
I'm making a S-twist fingering weight single out of it, which I plan to "menace" slightly to make it more stable. I've never tried this particular spinning technique before, so it's interesting to see what happens.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The perils of democracy

One of the wonderful things about today (the day after Election Day) is that the trash-talking negative campaign ads have stopped. No more "robocalls" or stupid pamphlets in the mail. And my music will no longer be interrupted by ominous sounding announcements offering words of caution like "Did you know that Steve Cowtipper is an anarchist and cruel to trees? He called for the abolishment of--everything! Do we really want someone like that representing us in Congress?.... Paid for by the Committee to re-elect Dan the IcecreamMan."

Or so I thought. But as I was listening to the radio today, I actually heard the commentator say with all seriousness, "Now that the 2010 election is over, there's only 735 days until the 2012 election, so it's time to start campaigning!"

Friday, October 1, 2010

Signs your family doesn't understand your job #457

This week, my favorite auntie asked me "Have you given up on your dream to work in an abortion clinic?"
My mind was wandering a bit, so it took a while for the question to register. "I'm pretty happy with my current job--wait do you mean "family planning," by any chance?
"Yeah, that sounds about right."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Writer's block

I've been dealing with a serious case of writer's block this month. (And my sore throat, which has returned.) While I'm probably writing less words per day in patient chart notes at this job than at any other nursing job I've ever had, when I come home at the end of the day I don't want to write on the blog. I just want to sit and knit or spin and spend some time with the Mimi and Brian.
I've been commissioned to make a baby hat, booties, and mitts for a friend, and she's paying me. I don't usually make baby things, but I will for her. Hooray for yarn money!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Germ theory bites!

Work has picked up again, and I've been too busy to blog much.

I've gotten some spinning done lately, but much less than usual. Why? Because I, dear friends, have had the glorious, incomprable experience that is strep throat. When your joints hurt so badly that you start to wonder if your thighs bend, and your tonsils are so swollen that you're concerned that you may accidentally swallow them, anything activity more intense than pouring yourself another shot of NyQuil generally doesn't happen.

I'm feeling better now thanks to antibiotics, but I may never like soup again!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sheep Christmas in July

I probably should have written about this several days earlier, but I've been having too much fun. Audrey sent me a box of fiber last week as part of our occasional fiber swap. (Someday we may extend this practice to include swapping toddlers, but I doubt they'll be travelling Priority Mail.)

She sent me about three pounds of fiber, and all of it was pretty. I've mislaid the sheet I wrote everything down on, but here's a general idea:

Spice-colored wool roving, with streaks of cinnamon, orange, red, and dark brown. Two batts of Finn/Merino wool in the lightest of grays. Three "Audrey batts" of alpaca/wool that she dyed and blended herself. The infamous "Electric Popsicle" roving. Organic alpaca roving from a small farm in Kansas which has the names of the responsible alpacas on the package! Eight ounces of alpaca locks, some superwash wool, and an absolutely exquisite bump of merino/tencel from Th'Red Head Designs in green and gold! The spinning wheel is calling to me.

Brian says this should keep me in spinning fiber for about a week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vacation pictures

For the Fourth of July, we visited Brian's parents and did the traditional barbecue on the beach. For me, it just doesn't seem like Independence Day without lighting marshmallows on fire. (I've never had the patience to toast them "properly" for smores. Light 'em up and blow them out before they completely turn in to charcoal, I say.)

We introduced the Mimi to her first-ever smore. "I'm covered in sugary goo and I want to share!"

She also recently learned how to feed herself semi-liquid foods with a spoon. Oatmeal got everywhere, but she did it all by herself.

I saw this sign at the Black Sheep Gathering last month. It's an important distinction, but there were so many shops selling handmade baskets that I can't help but wonder if it's just a clever bit of PR.

We visited Mom last month. It's hard to tell what the Mimi's expression is when she has her fingers in her mouth, but note the matching maniacal grins. Insanity is hereditary--you get it from your kids!

Due to other pressures this year (like work) I'm not doing the Tour de Fleece. Mostly because I found out about it (although I really shouldn't be surprised that July happens every year) two days ago and don't think I can "compete." As I see it, the whole point of spinning is that it's a relaxing activity that makes yarn. And when you get right down to it, in spite of the joy yarn gives me, it's just string. Unlike nursing, in which you're regularly reminded that if you screw up, you can kill people (and the board of nursing regularly publishes helpful vignettes of people who have done exactly this) yarn doesn't matter.

If I spend weeks and weeks knitting a sweater out of lace weight yarn on size 3 needles only to get to the armpits and find out that my bust is more than 26 inches, I can rip it out. I can turn it back to yarn, I can use it for stuffing in a decorative pillow, I can cut it up and make coasters out of it. Why? Because it's yarn! I've never punished a failed project by setting it on fire, but I've removed the needles from more than one and just thrown it in the Dumpster because I was that disappointed with it. No one died, and I went on to happily complete other projects.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cat people

I am a "cat person." Brian is not. He describes it best by saying, "if cats can read minds, they look at mine and go 'gonna stay away from him!' When they read yours, they think 'As long as I'm nice to the little pink person that's with her, I'll be rolling in gravy!' "

The Mimi also loves cats. She spends a lot of our Sunday visits with my sister in law chasing her four cats around. Three of them treat her with a good-natured tolerance (and ever-present hope that she'll drop food for them.) But the oldest cat, Shakti, is short-tempered and doubtless the reason that my nephew recites House Rule Number One as "cats are sharp--and fast!"

Our neighbor has been feeding a paranoid gray alley cat for the last couple of years. At this point he's no longer completely feral, but he's understandably still a bit twitchy. As we were out gardening last week, he slinked home after discovering his place in the local feline hierarchy. He moved as though every joint in his body ached and was missing a large section of one ear. Large patches of his fur were newly absent and replaced by healing scabs.

The Mimi looked at him with wide eyes. "Kitty has owie!"

"Yes honey, the kitty has lots of owies."

Comprehension dawned as she put new ideas together. "Shakti!"

But true to Brian's theory, he still let the Mimi pet him!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crazyness in Mackeyland

It's been a while since I posted last. I'd claim it's because I've been busy, but there's always the chance that I'm just too distracted to type.

This month, the only other nurse at my work quit abruptly, leaving me to cover three clinics. They got a temporary nurse to help out for two days a week; as she's the woman who held this position before me, I'm confident that she's really good at the job. The bosses say that they're trying to fill the empty position as soon as possible, but given the reality of government budget cycles, it will probably be at least three or four months before they hire someone.

And then just as all the turnover and schedule changes were happening at work last week, our family got food poisoning. If you want to lose a couple of pant sizes, there's nothing like some spectacular gastrointestinal distress and no solid food for 60 or so hours to make it happen!

In the midst of all this chaos, however, I have found time for yarn. I may be spinning it instead of knitting with it, but yarn is yarn, right? The first few pictures are of my most recent dyeing escapade. I originally tried to dye the wool less saturated shades of pink, blue and grass green, but the dye struck much faster than I'd anticipated. I sorted the wool by color and intensity and then handcarded it. Then I laid out all the batts in order of color progression.
I'm about two thirds of the way through spinning it up, and I really like the way the color slowly transitions from green to brown to burgundy.

I also bought wool from a local vendor, Hungry Hill Farm, and intentionally tried to spin a big fluffy single on the wheel with a Z-twist.
I used my left hand as my dominant hand, as well as the modified short draw I always use. (My wheel has only one ratio, so that limits what I can do with it.) Making up skeins was more difficult than usual. As the niddy-noddy has broken, I used the baby gate instead.
I didn't quite acheive the lofty bulky-weight single I was hoping for, but it made a nice bulky 2-ply!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


My art supplies showed up yesterday, the day after my birthday. Unfortunately, since I've got a scratch on my glasses that cuts directly across my line of vision, anything that requires extensive focussing on small details (like, say, looking at a photograph and trying to paint it) causes severe eyestrain headaches. Back to fiber arts for now!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Adorable Art Supplies

(The Mimi has learned to make faces, and I had to show this off.)
I used to do a lot of painting in high school. And welding. (If my college had had a metal sculpture fine arts program, I probably would have gotten a BA in art rather than a BSN.) For the last several years I've been trying to channel my "creative impulses" into fiber arts as a substitute, but I really miss them.

As I was commuting one morning several months ago, I found myself day-dreaming about how to paint the countryside with watercolor. (Daydreams about welding are pretty normal for me.) I realized I really want to get back into painting. My preferred medium has always been oil, but in my current situation, it has several drawbacks: I have a four room apartment, with no room to dry canvases. (And I'd like to retain my damage deposit when we move next.) Oil paintings generally take (depending on climate) anywhere from several days to several weeks to dry. Add in some toxic paints and turpentine and a small person who has just barely finished the "It's pretty, can I eat it?" stage, and you've got a recipe for disaster.
So I decided watercolor was the safest and least messy way to get back to painting. Finances are still tight for us, but I have a birthday next week. My in laws gave me $20 and an easel, both of which should help quite a lot. I've been checking out the various online art vendors and making a shopping cart of supplies to compare prices, and I found this:

I've never heard of the brand before so I don't know what quality of paints these are, but it's so mind-blowingly cute I find it difficult to care!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Naomi wanna potluck?

On St. Patrick's Day, I got bored. While I was bored, I started thinking about patron saints. Specifically, if there were a patron saint of county health departments, who would it be? And I decided it'd most likely be the gentleman who invented the birth control pill. (Or possibly broad-spectrum antibiotics, as we pass out a lot of those as well.) Unfortunately, as I was pondering this I checked my e-mail and started typing before I'd "fully engaged my brain." Before I knew it, I'd invited the entire public health department to a birthday potluck for Dr. Gregory Pincus, the inventor of The Pill. (Margaret Sanger's birthday is in September.)
I thought the plan would be politely laughed off, but it spread. Before I knew it, I was getting e-mails from other departments (everything from WIC to the developmental disabilities department) wanting in on the fun. (Yes, I work in a mostly female environment. However did you guess?) One of the men who works in my office asked if he was invited, and all I could think to say was "if your life has been enriched by birth control, you are certainly welcome."
"Great--it's because of birth control that I don't have to pay any child support!"
On Friday, when I got to work, the secretary had papered my office door (I have an office! It's awesome!!!!) with flyers about the potluck that afternoon and the accomplishments of Dr. Pincus. think they like me here.
The potluck itself was fun. We had lots of food and we shared about labor experiences, theories of childbirth preparedness, recipes, STDs, and discussed menstrual troubles. (As one of my male co-workers said "Thank you for inviting me, but I draw the line at gender reassignment surgery!")
We plan on doing another in September to celebrate Margaret's accomplishments.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Packages and road trips!

(This is probably the third or fourth attempt to write this post. I keep getting distracted by things like work, dishes, and the cold which the Mimi graciously shared with the family. It's hard to write anything sensible when your sinuses feel as though they're about to explode from the pressure.)

Last week, the county's infectious disease department, whom I used to work for, had their required H1N1 debriefing and requisite planning for the next mass vaccination pandemic.

Even though I don't work for their department anymore, they still invited me to come--and then badgered my current bosses into letting me come, and paying me to go! I love public health! So we went to Seaside, where I just had to snap a pic of this famous statue of Lewis and Clark. Don't they look impossibly heroic? It says "End of the Trail" on the plinth, but I can't escape the feeling they're saying "Well, Bill, looks like we're lost again!"

When I got back from the conference, I had a fiber package from Silfert waiting for me. (Every six months or so, we do a fiber swap. It allows both of us to rotate our stashes, and cuts down on the nagging from husbands about "you spent HOW much on fiber?") The Mimi promptly rifled through the box, grabbed the baggies labeled "Shirley's girly goth batt" (pink in the photo) and danced around the house with them.

I also got a stunning superwash wool/tencel blend from a dyer I adored in Kansas, but haven't been able to get her products here, as well as some amazing roving dyed by Silfert herself. The brown bag in the above photo is a wool/tencel blend from the spectacular Traci Bunkers of Bonkers Fibers, who has a wonderful eye for color. It turned out to be too slippery to spin on the wheel, so I've been spinning it on the drop spindle instead. It's great fun to spin, and I think I see a shawl on the horizon.

The Mimi turned two a couple of weeks ago. One of the gals from San Francisco sent her this adorable vest. Pink is always her favorite color!

I may post the rest of the pictures another time, but we went on a mass family excursion to OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center to celebrate, and then to Brian's parents' house for a birthday party. Her favorite toy was these over-sized cat toy balls. At least she's stopped meowing at people!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jewelery is fun

I'm not really a "girly-girl." I do have two X chromosomes, a nice figure, and enjoy makeup. That's where many of the similarities end. In high school, when all of my friends were busy stalking Justin Timberlake, I had my bedroom wallpapered with the Spokane Chiefs' newspaper clippings. The only adolescent hero-worshiping crush I've ever had was on Barry Marshall, which shows you that I was a massive science geek even then. Now that the Olympics hockey is in full swing, I'm glued to the Internet every evening.

Because Mother Nature has a sick and twisted sense of humor, this does not seem to be the case for the Mimi. The first time we put her into a dress when we were near a full-length mirror, she ran over to the mirror to twirl around and admire herself. Many toddlers disassemble their link-a-dink toys, but she's the only one I know of who wears them as bangle bracelets!

So it's no surprise that her first multi-syllable word is "Jewelery." She likes to climb in my lap, pat my earrings, and say "jewelery, yeah!" with a blissful expression.

As I'm sure many spinners do, I've got a fiber stash of odds and ends that's too small to "do something" with, but I'm reluctant to throw out. You know what I mean: the half ounce of alpaca from my first wash/dye/card experience, 15 grams of recyled silk fibers, half yards of handspun yarn, etc. So I thought I'd card it all together and make some fun batts with them.
Midway through this process, I discovered the hard way that as much as I might like to pretend, large flat hairbrushes are NOT the same thing as proper hand cards. But except for the blisters, I'm pretty pleased with the final results. Carding all the fibers together really evened out a lot of the more vibrant colors, but also brightened up the sedate ones. (After I borrow Pop's hand cards,) I have to try this again!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New job

On Monday, I started my new job. While almost all of my nursing experience has been in the hospital inpatient setting, this job is outpatient, and out in the community. (My philosophy of anatomy and physiology can be summed up with "Air goes in and out and blood goes round and round. Any variation on this is a bad thing." Likewise, I prefer nursing practice settings in which these things happen all by themselves.)

With the job giving flu shots, my schedule was flexible. Some days it was 9-3, some days it was 1-8pm, but generally it was 11-5. This job is 8:30-5, and that's taking a bit of getting used to. (I can't stay up past midnight any more--not if I want to be a nice person in the morning.)

The Mimi has been having some trouble with this. She looks so confused when I leave for work at the new time. I know there's a small voice in her head that says "Mama is wearing her nice clothes and leaving already? I just woke up half a sippy cup ago!"

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Not words of wisdom

Odd-sounding things I have said to the Mimi this month which I swear made perfect sense at the time:

"It is rude to try to stuff an emery board in someone's sock--especially while they're still wearing it."

"Give me back the DVD and I'll let you play with this hatchet instead."

"You're being a jerk. I don't pick up jerks."

"I am Ma-Ma. Da-Da is the one with the beard."

"We do not disassemble the furniture for entertainment."

"Must you be a punk [this early in the morning, in Fred Meyer, at the library, just because your barette fell out]?"

"Go ahead, throw a fit--you really think anyone's going to notice a screaming toddler in Wal-Mart?"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rotting my brains

The Mimi likes to have background noise in the house. It doesn't matter to her what it is, but the lack of music or "television" (we don't have an actual TV but we watch a lot of stuff on the computer courtesy of our handy Netflix subscription) results in a unhappy small person who signs "TV please" emphatically until we either tell her no or put something on.
She doesn't really seem to care what it is (apart from an obsession with "kitty puppy TV" (Garfield and Friends). However, even though I am fond of Garfield, I can only take so much. So we've been watching a fair share of random documentaries. They meet the Mimi's need for background noise, as well as my need for something resembling intellectual stimulation.
So far, we've watched John Cleese's Wine for the Confused (just what it sounds like), Shakespeare's Women and Claire Bloom (a talented theatre star discussing the female characters in the Bard's work) Food, Inc. (how agribusiness is no longer family farms) and the Botany of Desire (what if plants selectively breed themselves to get us to spread them around more?) as well as countless others which weren't particularly memorable.
As long as it's not too violent, I'll watch anything that looks interesting to me. (Except for horror movies, which one might argue fall into the "violent" category.) Is "omnivorous" a word which can properly be applied to TV consumption?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Family Christmas

I've been too distracted lately to post much on the blog, but I thought I'd put up pictures of what I've been up to in the last couple of weeks.

We had a lovely immediate family Christmas Eve celebration at my sister in law's house. After trying desperately (and failing miserably) to keep Shirley out of the Christmas tree, we finally let her help decorate it. There was a definite line of ornaments all along the tree showing where she could reach!

For Brian's adopted grandmother Shirley, I knitted a variation on the Ice Queen cowl from I hate working with mohair, so I used my silk handspun yarn. And since it was my first time working lace from a chart, I left the beads off.
For a first project working lace from a chart in the round, it was fun to knit and surprisingly easy. I had so much fun working on it that I'm already planning to make one for myself, with the beads!
My brother in law got my name for the massive family Christmas gift exchange. Instead of a gift certificate, he gave me money for yarn. That was very nice of him, and I've already gone on a sock yarn-buying binge at Little Knits. But the way he wrapped it deserves special mention. (Yes, that is a five dollar bill sticking out of a ball of "the wildest crazy acrylic yarn I could find for you.")

I forsee someone getting an especially vibrant hat for his birthday...