Friday, December 29, 2006

Music to Knit By

Last night one of my favorite musicians, Bryan Bowers, played a concert at the public library. He played some of his new songs and some older ones, including one of my favorites, "Life is Hard but It's Hardest When You're Dumb," also known as "The Dumb Song."

I took my knitting along and knit a little before the show and during intermission.

I have been knitting as much as usual recently, just not finishing. However, I did finish an Angel Pearls Beaded Scarf from Sivia Harding. The yarn is a stray skein from my stash: Lamb's Pride fingering weight in a color called Aran on US5 needles. The 6/0 beads, also from stash, are a color called "oil slick matte." Can't have too many scarves, right?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What To Do With Wine Corks

Don't ask me how, but I have a lot of corks. It seems wasteful to just throw them out. Some years ago, I saw a wreath like this, and the answer became obvious: Make a wreath.

The base is a straw wreath from a craft store. Put some fishing line around the wreath as a hanger before you put the corks in. Stick a round toothpick in the base of a cork (not as easy as you might think; use a hammer and nail to make the hole before you try to put the toothpick in) and the other end of the toothpick into the straw. I prefer to have the red end of the corks showing for red-wine corks. Make a gazillion of these and stick them into the wreath in a pattern that you like.

Then, drink more wine so you can make another one.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Mike, the neighbors, the neighbors' relatives and Dan the Tree Guy successfully removed the tree from over the Hut, thanks to people with the right equipment and the right experience. The weather was cold but dry. The descriptions below do not adequately reflect the amount of thinking and what-if-ing and problem-solving that went into this process.

First, they decided where to make the cut on the smaller section over the back of the Hut and where to tie off the remainder so that nothing would crash down or ricochet.

This is what the break in the tree over the roof looked like.

Then they figured out how to push out the rest of the tree so it would swing out faster than it would fall down so that it wouldn't smash the porch.

The tree missed the porch with a foot or two to spare!

Even though the roof appears to be intact, some of the cedar shingles are damaged, so a large tarp is secured over the roof until the roofer can do his thing. Dan the Tree Guy will probably come back and take away the tree when he has time. At this point, the tree is not endangering anything so it can sit where it is.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Weather Records

You might have heard about the wind storm that punched the Northwest Thursday night. This followed a month of near-record rain in November. The wind and soggy ground meant that a lot of trees and power lines were damaged or fell over.

Tacoma report: We didn't lose power or cable TV or Internet access — one of the new neighborhoods able to say that. Our big fir tree in the front yard lost some limbs but we had no damage. That fir tree is going to become firewood this summer.

Cabin report: Our cabin, known as the Hut, near Tahuya was a different story. Lost power, but we expect that. We we didn't expect was that a tree fell uphill and over the cabin. Amazingly and to our great benefit, the tree broke apart on the hillside as it fell and only a segment of the tree fell across the cabin, not through it.

Some cedar shakes across the top of the roof were damaged and the wood stove chimney was knocked sideways. Fortunately, a neighbor who lives in the community full time and who was home and has a key to the Hut checked for damage. Nothing. No leaks. No holes in the roof. Lots of limbs are scattered all over the property and beyond but no Hut parts are scattered across the landscape. The bit that sticks out of the back of the hut, which we call the annex, holds the water heater — no damage. The front porch that overlooks Hood Canal — no damage. The power line from the transformer to the masthead — no damage.

Removing the tree carries some risk. It has to be done so that pieces of it don't fall on the Hut. The neighbor — a true neighbor in all of the best senses — has arranged for roofing materials, a roofer and a good tree guy. Then we'll call a chimney guy. Given all of the damage that others have suffered, we're pretty darned lucky.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wonderful Art

My friend Valerio, who lives in Bologna, Italy, sent a Christmas card featuring the artwork of his mother, Daniela Ferri. Daniela is a painter and sculptor. Her Web site shows only a small sample of her wonderful work.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tandoor Knitting

This is the start of a vest for Mike. The yarn is Knit One, Crochet Too Paint Box in a color called Tandoor. The pictures give it a pink cast, which really isn't there. We're enjoying the traditional wet, gray days of winter in the Pacific Northwest, with little good light to for photos (at least for my photos). The yarn really is shades of brown, dark orange and red, just like chicken from a tandoor oven.

Pattern? We don't need no stinkin' pattern. I'm sort of making it up as I go, using Ann Budd's "The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns" as a guide (very handy, indeed, as is the companion book on sweaters). The ribbing is knit one, purl one and the body is knit seven, purl one. I even had to do math — which is not my best party trick — to figure out how to line things up so a purl is in the center and everything is neatly symmetrical.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Knit Sighting

So I was in a Thai restaurant in Seattle yesterday, finishing up my massaman curry, minding my own business. As I was leaving, I noticed that the woman behind me was wearing a beautiful white shawl. It was a square folded into a triangle, but I could see a plain center, a lace border and a lace edging. It looked like mohair. I told her that I admired her shawl and asked if she had knit it. With a distinct Russian accent, she told me that she had not knit the shawl but that it was from Russia, that it is mohair and that it is very warm. She let me touch the shawl, and it felt very much like a mohair shawl I bought from a Russian woman in Vilnius.

For someone whose eyesight is not always so great, I am quite proud of myself for spotting this knitted work of art.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Doily or Snowflake?

Think of doilies as snowflakes — no two are alike. This one, called Medallion, is from "Handmade Lace and Patterns" by Annette Feldman. The book credits D.M.C. Corporation for the pattern. Vintage pattern and vintage thread. I used J. & P. Coates Big Ball Best Six Cord, size 30, with US1 needles. The diameter is 11 inches. Looks like a snowflake to me.

My stash of vintage crochet thread includes some J. & P. Coats Big Ball and Clark's Big Ball. So who was Coats, who was Clark and how did they becomes Coats and Clark? In retrospect, the joining may have been inevitable.

According to Wikipedia and the Coats and Clark Web site, James and Patrick Clark had a loom equipment and silk business. When Napoleon blockaded Great Britain in 1806, silk was no longer available to weavers who had begun reproducing the rare Kashmir shawls of India. Patrick Clark developed a method of twisting cotton yarns together to produce a thread that could replace silk in the looms and replace linen and silk threads for hand sewing.

The Clarks opened the first factory for making cotton sewing thread in Paisley, Scotland, in 1812. A few years later, James Coats opened another cotton thread mill.

In 1830, James and Peter Coats purchased their father's mill. As the company expanded, it moved much of its production to America. Another member of the family, Andrew Coats, was sent to the U.S. to manage the business.

George and William Clark, grandsons of James Clark, opened a cotton thread mill in Newark, New Jersey. Five years later, the Coats family began manufacturing thread in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, selling under the name Spool Cotton Company.

In 1952, J. & P. Coats and the Clark Thread Co. merged to become Coats & Clark Inc.