Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good Bye 2008

It was a great year, and it was a year of turmoil at the same time. I enjoyed the break from work, and endured the challenges of the new school for Mitch. The world changes in a dramatic, catastrophic way, I am still thankful that we are able to spend the last day of 2008 together and healthy. I hope that the year 2009 will be a better year for all of us.
Happy Knitting and Spinning New Year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fingerless Mitts, Fingerless Gloves, Fingerless Mittens

No, I haven't gone insane, if you were wondering. Not yet anyway.

I finally managed to knit a pair of fingerless mitts, and I get to post about it. I'm dying to see if I can attract some Googlers that come to visit our blog as a result of searching "fingerless gloves" or "fingerless mittens." Between the fall and late winter, those who come to see Liz's post that was written nearly two years ago are a half of the hits on our blog. You see, it's like a study on statistics...

So there.

Sorry about the dark pictures. It's just a gloomy day here... The pattern is "Mitt Envy" by Weezalana. I love this pattern! Used Nature's Palette fingering superwash. Probably used about a half of a skein with US 1 DPNs.

As much as I love them, I don't get to keep them... They are going to our beloved neighbor Lia. Yup, I am going to knit a pair for myself before it gets warm!

I've neglected to post, but I've knitted a pair of socks for my mom using the same yarn earlier. They are done and safely arrived in Japan, and she loves them -- phew! It was the first time I've used this yarn, but I was shocked by its rather poor quality. The color is great -- it's the uncreatable "Mystery" colorway. But the yarn was cut in three places, and on top of it there were about six places where the yarn was thin, barely held together by a fiber or two. The second ball I wound up was the same way. I've contacted the owner of the yarn company, and she promptly contacted me, to which I was pleased. She mentioned that she suspects a moths damage (which never occurred to me as the cuts were all clean, perpendicular cuts). I offered to send her the yarn so she could inspect, as she did show an interest, but after that no reply. I have a ball of yarn just sitting here... And yes, she did offer to send me replacements -- very nice of her.

Seed Stitch Ribs from More Sensational Knitted Socks. My mom has tiny feet, so a skein was more than enough to knit this pair.

Ok, here's Mitch's Cowabunga, knitted with my handspun merino. See the post below for the link for the pattern. Another great pattern!

Should have made it larger (or deeper). It'll be way too small next year!
I've spun the camel too. Three-ply with two strands of Camel/Silk 50/50 blend from A Verb for Keeping Warm, and a strand of Mongolian camel I spun at GGFI. Some of the Mongolian camel was re-carded and respun after I practiced long draw with cotton. Fulled and whacked. 12 wpi.

I'm not sure if I LOVE this yarn... I'll see when I knit it. It was quite confusing to me to spin the Silk/Camel blend. Silk is very long, and camel is short. To which fiber do I apply the twist to? I felt like I was doing a core spin, the silk fiber being the core. I love the camel though -- so I decided to treat myself for the camel/merino blend from Herndon Creek Farm. I thought these two fiber might be more akin to each other, and less confusing.

Great quality, great service -- and the red ribbon is a nice touch! Oh, did I mention GREAT price? I highly recommend them. Can't wait to spin it, but now I have to concentrate on casting on and finishing a pair of mittens for Mitch.

I need to take a breath! Boy it's a loaded post. Happy Holidays everyone -- wishing you a great time knitting and spinning, and being with the family.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Hat Model

My son's Cowabunga hat was going well, until of course I ran out of my handspun yarn just short of finishing it.

When I spun the first batch of merino for this hat, I thought I had messed it up -- I did intend to put more spin and ply twists, but it seemed way too much. So I was expecting the yarn to be tough and harsh on my hands as I knit, but in fact it was one of the nicest of my handspun to knit with. It was bouncy and even, tight but smooth. I'll remember to recreate this again when I spin for socks.

So he models the propeller Cowabunga while I spin more yarn. But so far it fits.

While the wet-finished merino yarn dries, I knit another item for Llama Llama's Homeward Bound Knit-along donation. We needed more kid-sized hats. I think I'd call it a acorn hat.

I love this yarn (Sabrina from Tahki Stacey Charles, needles US 13 and 10) -- it was an odd-ball in my stash, but now it'll be useful somewhere and hopefully loved.

My hat model, a.k.a Mitch, has been working hard on learning reading, writing and numbers at kindergarten (and at home too -- the amount of homework he gets!). He helped me make a grocery list today. I think I'll save this one for myself -- the first one went to his grandma. I just hope that he'll start curving the "J" to the left soon!

Friday, December 05, 2008


I forgot about it, but I've signed up on a mailing list for Herndon Creek Farm at the last California Wool and Fiber Festival in Boonville. I bought some Sally Fox organic cotton from them (and drooled over their nice wooden tools).

A very nice letter came from Herndon the other day, announcing their Fiber Special for the month of December -- be still my heart -- baby camel and fine merino blend. Just look at the sample I received in the mail.

What a teaser! And oh so effective. I'm trying to remind myself that I have enough fiber to last me for the next five years, but my voice is getting less convincing. Sometimes, less works better than more.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Procrastinating or Love

I am so in love with this.

Naturally dyed Merino-Bamboo 60/40 from Tactile. Erin got me four hanks for the use of my car (which is not getting much attention lately and sitting lonely on my driveway). I really don't know how I always strike such a good deal with her.

This really is nice to spin. Well-blended, so I don't feel like I'm spinning a chunk of merino here, a chunk of bamboo there. I'm thinking to do a three-ply and knit a sleeveless sweater. Llama Llama Knit now carries their spinning fiber!

I wonder why I've been spinning so much lately -- aside the fact that I do love spinning -- then it dawned on me that it's like avoiding to study for a test. Yeah, what's that word, procrastination? I escape from the pressure of the Christmas knitting and run to the comfort of the wheel. Now back to Mom's socks...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Spinning Bliss

After some practice with cotton and re-spinning the camel I butchered at GGFI (it was my first attempt in long draw), I felt I was ready for the yak down. I had two 2 oz bags from Tactile -- one I got as a door prize at GGFI (thank you, Maia and Brooke!) and another I purchased at California Wool and Fiber Festival.

It was another humbling experience. But after fumbling with the whorl size and skipping the carding process, it started to go much better.

This is before fulling, in a somewhat poor light -- and here's the one after fulling in hot soapy water. Yes, the sun makes it look much happier as well.

It's so soft and downy I can't stop fondling it. I think this might be the softest yarn I've ever spun. Spinning from the clouds of down is also very different from spinning a commercial top. This may get me addicted.

The four day weekend has been very nice and relaxing -- tomorrow I'm going to go take my scarf to Llama Llama Knit. They are hosting a "Knitting for Others" event, and all knitted objects gathered from the knitters will be donated to Homeward Bound of Marin. Llama Llama will also give you 15% discount for the yarn for this project, and there are some raffle prizes for the participants too. The event ends on Dec. 19.

I love this scarf -- very light and soft, and love the color gradation. I hope it will keep the recipient warm. Used two balls of Gedifra, US 10 needles.

Despite the fact that our annoying neighbors have already put up the Christmas lights, I am still in denial that Christmas is just around the corner. I'm so not ready.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for...

The beautiful morning glow yesterday at 7 am from my house.

I was already on the phone when I took this shot. This is what happens when you have to work with lots of East Coasties. But then because many of my coworkers are remote, I get to spend time with the phone headset on my head, knitting. (If you are a non-knitter and think I'm slacking off, no. Many people listen better if combined with fine-motor activities, like knitting and doodling. Knitting is more productive.) Because of the long meetings for the last couple of days, I'm done with the scarf I'm knitting for charity (which of course, I am in love with! Photos next time.)

Sometimes I wonder if I can spin at all -- here are some merino that I spun for some Christmas knitting, but I'm not very pleased with it, although washing improved the evenness and the texture.I'm working on the yak down right now, and I'm getting better with it. Can't wait to ply and full the yarn.

I have harvested the Japanese indigo seeds. Hopefully they'll do better next year.

And Thanksgiving is here! I'm looking forward to some relaxing time. We have a lot to be thankful for. In this difficult time, we'll always find something to be happy about. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beach in November

We are having a record-breaking warm weather here in Northern California. I took my son to the beach last Saturday to take advantage of the unexpected gift. I thought it might get foggy and colder as we head to the coast, but in fact the thermometer climbed up to 75 F when we arrived at the beach. No wind, no waves, just a perfect beach day.

The locals know -- there were many families with young children. It was nice, peaceful, relaxing day. The water was just amazing!

And after leaving the beach, we stopped by Windrush Farm in Petaluma -- they were having a gift show - open house. My son is very tolerant of me taking him to fiber-related outings.

He got to feed Mimi's goats -- they love grape leaves, and Mimi let him treat them.

(Waiting Anxiously!)

I finally finished my FIRST pair of socks of the year. After knitting ten pairs last year, I may have gone sock-shy, but here they are.

Classy Slip-up from "Knit Socks!" by Betsy Lee McCarthy. Yarn - Lana Grossa Meilenweit, US 0 needles. I made them quite a bit longer than I usually do, and I only have 15 g yarn left over. I think they'll be very warm because of the waffle-weave pattern, but if you try this pattern make sure to knit them just a tad smaller because they scrunch up.

I didn't want to start anything else until I'm done with them, so now I'm eager to get started on Christmas knitting, finally! The heat is on.

I finally skeined up the silk hankie 3-plies as well.
I spent my Sunday afternoon at Llama Llama Knit. Their first Spinning Sunday!

What a great weekend it was. Just not long enough!

Friday, November 07, 2008

I Will Not Stop

I know I shouldn't be ranting about politics or the election on our joint KNITTING blog. My blogmates are so tolerant of me and my big mouth. I promise that this is going to be the last one, at least for a while!

I, like many others, was elated with the outcome of the election. It really was a historical moment, and I do love the fact that my son will grow up having a person of color as our president -- he wouldn't understand what the big deal is, and that's beyond exciting.

But my joy was cut in half by California's passing Prop. 8. This is going to amend the state constitution to prohibit the same sex marriage. While the nation celebrates the equality of us all and a remarkable achievement by a racial minority, the state with the largest electoral college is legally denying one of the most fundamental rights to the certain population.

I can't express how sad I feel about this. I was in tears.

I hope that this will not be the end of the story as I watch the massive protest march in San Francisco. I respect the integrity and ethics of the Mayor Newsom has exhibited on this long battle to ensure the equal rights to San Franciscans and Californians -- how courageous is that for a politician to risk his entire political career on such a controversial issue?

It took us years to pass the Sonoma/Marin Smart Train. It took the nation 232 years to elect a black president. Persistence.

I will be back with some knitting/spinning posts soon.

Monday, November 03, 2008


I can't believe it's THE election day tomorrow. I consider myself to be a political being in a relative sense, but I think I've been rather quiet, at least publicly, about this year's election. It's not because I feel less strongly or excitedly about it -- rather, I try to keep it to myself because I worry that I may become too opinionated, or even emotional, if I started talking about it.

I think it was last year just before the election that I ran into a blog post by a well-known textile artist (whom I admire) on how she disliked all the "noises" about the politics and election. She said something like "I can't wait for it to be over so I can just sit and weave with my friends without being bothered." I know why some people might feel that way -- even I feel overwhelmed by the political ads right now.

As much as I'd love to, we (or most of us) don't live on a lonely island paradise. Everything to do with politics, elections, measures and propositions have some effects on our lives. And why do we look away from it and pretend that you have nothing to do with it? We may not even have the peace and freedom to sit in the quietness of your own house to do what we love to do, if we let the nation and the state crumble.


Thursday, October 30, 2008


My persimmon tree didn't bear fruits this year. It may still be recovering from being crushed by the fallen yucca branch last winter. Or, I may be doing something that the tree doesn't appreciate.

But, a consolation --


Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Bumper Sticker

I've just put a new bumper sticker on my car.

I know. It's perfect!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Here, There, Everywhere

I was in D.C., Montreal, Toronto, a pumpkin patch in Petaluma, and Placer/Nevada Counties in California, all in one week, and even managed to squeeze in one night on my own comfy bed. But, not much knitting was accomplished, and worst of all, no pictures! I've got to see some of the famous fall scenery in Montreal, and didn't take my camera with me.

In Auburn/Grass Valley, since I was the one doing all that driving (Charlie was stuck in the CAP meetings all weekend at Auburn) and keeping my son occupied, I didn't even think about taking the camera out of my bag. Funny thing.

But I came home without picking up nasty germs from the foreign places, feeling well, rested and a lot accomplished, and first sock of the year (hard to believe) nearly done.

Only if I managed to clean up the mess in the house, and deodorize the mouse cage!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Finally Ravelry

Other Designated Knitters had been urging me to join Ravelry, but it didn't spark my interest so much -- I have this blog to keep up after all, and felt I didn't need another online black hole to suck my time. I already have enough of that! But oh yes my lovely fellow knitters just signed me up and I found myself adding my projects... My ID is Tamami (how original). Knitters, see what you've done to me??

I've finished blocking my False Modesty. I love how it looks and feels, but it was dreadful when I found two more dropped stitches on the mohair! I kept knitting until the Kid Silk Haze was about to run out on me, so it came out a little wider than it was supposed to be. I think it's a great size for a stole.

It's hard to see, but the darker rows are the cotton handspun. The colorway of the carded cotton is "Abalone" and the way it variegates on the yarn is beautiful -- Purple, blue-gray, green, dark green.

This is before blocking.

This is the cotton laceweight. I'm not sure if it stands to be shot close-up!

I've started on Shetland Triangle shawl for my mom. She and I went to Knitterly while she was here in the summer, and there was a knitted sample of Shetland Triangle. My mom loved it, so there I go. I'm not a shawl type of person, but I always wanted to knit one, so it's perfect. The question is whether I'd be willing to let go when it's done.

I am fascinated with the way it's knitted, like starting at the center of the neckline! It's so clever. I'm trying to decide if this is going to be safe for me to knit while flying -- I am traveling to Montreal and Toronto next week. I know very well that distraction is dangerous for lace knitting and that's a sure way to mess up the whole thing.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Saw this at the Cal Academy of Sciences and I had to stop.

Where will we be 5 million years from now?

(Oh, by the way -- the Cal Academy of Sciences on weekend is about as bad as Monterey Bay Aquarium on Spring break!)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

More Than Pink

So I spun some silk hankies. I had an ounce of rose colored hankies from Nancy Finn (Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks), and half-ounce of white/pink from Deep Colors Studio. I spun the Nancy Finn into two bobbins, Deep Colors' into one, and made a three-ply. I didn't much care for the result -- first it was hard to spin, and then the helplessly pink yarn on the bobbin made me wonder why I chose the colors.

But I fulled the yarn in the hot soapy water and smacked it several times on the counter, and now the yarn looks very different.

The left is a three-ply of deep rose alone. Middle is the hemp yarn I spun at the Summer Intensive -- boiled with washing soda. The right is a three-ply with two Nancy Finn and one white/pink silk (I love the tweedy look).

The texture is very different after it's fulled. It feels more pleasant to skin, like a well-worn old shirt. The color is even deeper and subtler now. Made me think of an old ikat kimono. Only if I were a weaver.

Now a long wait begins until I find a perfect little project for them.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Be the change you want to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Get out and vote on November 4th!
(Yes on Q, No on 8, and who can change this nation?)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fiber, Fiber, More Fiber

Erin told me about the Alpaca Farm open house at Brookfarm. It's in Glen Ellen, not so far from us, on a beautiful Saturday -- no way I turn that down. Erin's boys and we met up there. Debbie and Mark, the owners of Brookfarm were happy to see much bigger turnout for their first National Alpaca Farm Day than they had expected.

What a beautiful ranch, a gorgeous location. Beautiful, happy alpacas. They seemed to prefer eating the hay from the kids hands over from the tubs.

Of course there has to be a wheel or two! The owner of the brand-new Kromski let me try it with her beautifully mill-processed alpaca fiber. Spins like a dream! Some of the fiber came home with me.Up above us, a different kind of spinning was going on. I'm not going to explain (ewww!).

A pound of just-off-Bailey fleece tagged along, as a "Fiber of the month" delivery from Charlie.

It's very soft huacaya in silver-gray. Although it hasn't been skirted, the whole blanket looks clean and usable to me. I will wash it though before I spin, as it's pretty dusty.

And this is Heather's alpaca (Alpacas of Sonoma), Bailey, freshly shorn.

After we came home with the huge bagful of fiber, I had a heavy "oh what have I done I already have too much fiber" moment, but as soon as I put it away in the closet, I was back in my old self. We've got to have enough fiber stash to last my retirement years, right? (for which we'll have many more years to go at this rate...)

Marie at Llama Llama Knit, our wonderful LYS, has become an excellent spinner in just a month. I showed her how to use my Ashford Joy (not even "how to spin", which she seemed to know already at the first time she sat in front of a wheel!) early September, and now with her new Louet wheel, she's spinning away like a pro. She spun some dyed Merino I got her at California Sheep and Wool Festival and knitted this beautiful scarf for me. The last time anyone had knitted anything for me was when my mom knitted my gloves when I was eight! I am so moved.

In less than a month Marie has surpassed me, and I've been spinning for two years! She really is talented. Llama Llama now carries some beautiful spinning fiber as well.

My Joy came home with me with a bag full of white cotton sliver (you are too nice, Marie), so I am going to have fun with it for a while! Non-natural dyeing experiment to come. Yes -- so many projects, so little time.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Beautiful Day

What a beautiful Friday we are having! I've already been spending my evening hours working (insert your choice of noise), and it has a negative effect on my knitting and spinning progress.

But my Delft Tiles Vest is finally seamed and waiting to be edged, and I have Nancy Finn's silk hankies on my wheel. After some of us spinners talked about this last week at Llama Llama Knit, I fished it out of my fiber stash. A bit low on the spinning satisfaction gaugethough – I prefer spinning silk tops, and it's also easier on my hands… I have no idea what to knit with this yarn (currently a thread weight!)

Hopefully I can get outside this afternoon to put in some exercise in the sun! But for now back to my quarterly budget forecast L

Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 22, 2008

So Much Going On...

... and no time to write!

We were at the California Wool and Fiber Festival at Boonville. Two years in a row, but somehow it looked slower and quieter than the year before. I stopped by at the Tactile booth and bought another 2oz bag of naturally dyed yak down.

Yes, it's as soft as it looks! I was lucky enough to get my hands on my first bag of yak down at the GGFI Summer Intensive, as one of the door prize. Oh yeah. I was so happy when I won this. The colors are soft and warm hues of yellows, pinks, oranges... Maia and Brook have more, I'm sure, if you are interested.

Over the summer, I tried spinning cotton slivers on my wheel just so I'd be good enough to try this yak, but now I'm in love with cotton. Getting more dyed cotton was the reason for me to go to the wool festival this year, but of course I ended up with much more than that! This time I will try spinning a bit thicker.

Here's the photo from last year, in the apple building....

And here's this year's version.

My Japanese indigo plants didn't do so well this year -- just very thin and not very leafy. Won't be enough to dye a cotton ball! So I was hoping that they will at least bloom and produce seeds for the next year. I would dedicate a bigger lot with richer, well-cultivated soil...

Phew! Finally, some flowers! Hopefully they will seed.

Last Thursday afternoon, Charlie and I took the afternoon off from work and took Mitch to the members-only preview of the new California Academy of Sciences. It was so worth it, and more. We talked about (our wish of) doing this once a month. I'm sure Mitch was captured by their photographers and media several times during our visit -- what's better than a small kid looking up at a T-Rex!

I envy you, catfish!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Knitter is Born

On Saturday, I decided to take a little time to knit at Llama Llama Knit here in Novato. I asked my son Austen if he wanted to join me, and I was surprised when he said "Yes". Usually when I ask my boys to join me for any yarn/knitting related journeys I get eyes rolling at me or a "Do I have to?" whining question. So I almost didn't know how to respond to a "yes" answer. Off we headed to our local yarn store. After introducing Austen to the three store owners, I began knitting and Austen started reading the book he brought along. After a little time, I noticed that Austen had put down his book and was watching those of us who were knitting. I asked if he wanted to learn how to knit, and his response was "Sure". Thankfully we were in a place with lots of knitters. Alec, one of the shop owners, sat down with Austen and taught him how to do a knit stitch. He was so patient with Austen...something I probably couldn't have done! We couldn't stay long as my eldest son had a baseball game so off we went to the ball game. Part way through the game Austen asked if he could go to the car and get his knitting to work on. He worked through the rest of the ball game and through the evening at home on his knitting. Austen would often stop to ask for help, and I was happy to assist. This continued through most of the day Sunday until Austen declared that he had made it three rows by himself without any help at all. He's doing quite well. He holds his needles differently than I do, but it works for him. I had to field many questions including: "Mom, can we go back to the yarn store?", "When can we go back to the yarn store?", "Can I join knit night now?", "When is the next knit night?", "Mom, what inspired you to knit?" It was fun to talk to at least one of my children about my hobby.

My husband just laughed at me. He said that my retreat (from my kids and the daycare kids) is the yarn store, and if I keep this up I'll have all three kids with me at the yarn store. I suppose my husband is right. But now that a knitter is born, I guess I can't stop him.