Thursday, May 30, 2013

Knitting and Girl Scouts

I finished knitting the Cascade 220 socks.  I wasn't really using a pattern, just knitting along until the top was 7" long or so, then reducing down 12 stitches (2 sts. every six rows, six times) then knitting a bit more before making a dutch heel and finishing down the foot.  While I didn't really count rows, they match close enough to be a pair. I haven't worn them much, but I worry that they'll be itchy.  Maybe I'll find someone who wants to own them more than me.

So I started knitting up another pair of socks.  This is a super-soft marino wool yarn that isn't knitting up as soft as the yarn is, and it seems that I didn't knit a big enough heel flap.  I think I may have to back up and try again.  Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of the yarn--this may turn out to be slipper socks instead.

Those are some cute kids!  We went to the Mariners game last Saturday along with a number of school families, and it also turned out to be CF Awareness month, so Cole from Cole's Champions threw out the first pitch.  I wonder how he qualified to do that?  I guess it pays to know people in important places or be awesome fundraisers.  We're terrible at fundraising.  We didn't even go to the walk this year--I went camping and Kelly went to a soccer game.  Meh.

I picked up some 6-hole weaving cards at Crown, but I'm having trouble with tension on the weave.  I talked with a couple other weavers who suggested that I need a longer distance from the anchor point to the end--this has the tension ending at that top bar, which causes some issues.  I'll have to experiment with some other options, like the 2 x 4 in the garage with the two pegs on it, which is like a miniature Oseberg loom:
I'll have to clamp it to the table and I'll have to use a bunch of twist-ties to keep the threads from tangling through the 4 yard length.  Someday I may try to make one of these, just to see if I can.

I went to take pictures of the rhodies at Omi's house, and didn't notice it at the time that the bamboo growing in the bushes have sent runners to the other side of the sidewalk, so it needs to be whacked.  Seriously whacked.  The good news is she has some renters wanting to get into the house, so Sharon needs to get serious about getting the house ready to rent--there's still a lot of stuff in the house and several repairs that need to be done.  The couple who are looking to rent are very capable, handy folks, and I get the impression that he can fix just about anything and is an experienced carpenter, so he's thinking about doing some improvements inside, like updating the staircase railing to make it easier to install baby gates (for when that time comes--they are newly married and anxious to start a family).

This weekend is going to include my first Girl Scout camping trip since 1976.  As I understand it, we will be camping in covered wagons, so this will be fun!  I know there are crafts and maybe some boating and (if it's warm enough) swimming and should be a blast!  Especially with smores! Not sure how the sleeping arrangements will be sorted...I guess we'll find out when we get there.  I'll have to bring my new camera and take lots of pictures.  This will be the second-to-last Girl Scout adventure before the end of the school year.  After that, we have a trip to Great Wolf Lodge as our last hurrah, then I hang up my leader cap.  I guess Renee found a replacement leader for the younger Juniors, and I'm down to three girls for the bridging Cadettes, and one of them is moving to Germany for a couple years.  I told them that if they would like to renew their memberships, I would do that and be there as a mentor while they worked on badges.  We can also Skype our foreign member while she's away and she can work on badges overseas--what a trip that would be!  Can you imagine hiking in the Alpes, touring castles, experiencing new cultures....  I don't know if she'll be coming back during the summers to visit, but if she does, we can get together and do fun stuff over the summer months.

I went for a walk-run today.  It was about 2 1/2 miles, and I ran about four blocks of it.  Not bad for a fat old broad.  I hope that I can continue this trend and get myself back in shape.  Of course, round is a shape, right?

Only 7 days left of school (well, 9, but the last two days are a half-day and a couple hours for the last day, cleaning classrooms and a pep rally type thing).  Part of me is dreading the end of school--having 5 or 6 hours of the day to myself (sort of), but that part is very small.  Honestly, I'm looking forward to sleeping in and taking the kids out for adventures.  Hikes and Geocaching, swimming and *driving lessons* (big kid only), and doing a little bit of scouting activities with the little guys.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Looks Like a Stay-Cation This Weekend...

Mid-week I went over to Omi's place and took some pictures of the rhodies, which Sharon has been meaning to do for years.  They have such a short bloom time and she lives far enough away that getting down to the area during that short window is difficult for her.  The bushes are more than 50 years old, so they're enormous--bigger than the house--and the rest of the yard is really overgrown.  The "grass" is mostly "moss" now, so at least she won't have to mow very often.  A friend of mine and her new husband are looking for a house to rent, and they took a drive-by to see if they're interested, and now they'd like to see the inside.  If Sharon can get it cleaned up, she may have some renters for the place.

On Thursday, I finished the sock from the May Crown Sock Contest.  I had to rip it back to the ankle to put the heel on the correct side of the sock, working on it during TV viewing on Wednesday night.  I picked it back up Thursday morning and finished it by lunchtime.  Bekah, who was laid off a couple weeks ago, had some time to be social, so she came up and we went out for lunch.  We went and picked up the kids and made chicken for dinner.  Afterwards we went back to the school for the ice cream social and art walk.  Beautiful and delicious!

Then last night, we heard news that the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River, about halfway between here and Bellingham, collapsed after an oversize truck hit the structure.  It sounds like there was a lot of miscommunication and human error, but the good news is only two cars went into the river and no one died.  A few injuries, but nothing life threatening.  It sure puts a pinch on everyone's holiday weekend plans, though; it's the main North-South route through that area.  Everything else is not intended to carry that much traffic or is MILES out of the way. (Photo courtesy of Frank Varga, Skagit Valley Herald)

Ben is celebrating his birthday this Saturday, so I have a lot of work to do to get ready for it.  He wants a Skylanders cake, and I suspect that no one has such a thing.  I printed off a copy of a decoration that they can make an edible print to put on top.  I decided to try yet another store bakery to see if they can do a good job.  I'm 0 for 3 for the other stores.  It's amazing how BAD they are around here!

Have a great Memorial Day.  God bless our troops, past and present.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Over the Mountains and Back

I've returned from the Crown tournament last weekend, held just south of Yakima, WA.  I headed out on Friday after meeting up with Kelly and the two littles at school during the field day for grades 1-3.  Four (or five?) schools get together and compete in running, relay races, soccer kick, sack races, and more.  It's a lot of fun!  The older kids (grades 4 to 8) help wrangle the younger ones, sell refreshments (hot dogs, soft drinks and sugar), and generally have a half-day of school running around outside with their friends.  The weather cooperated, which was a big relief, and Ben got through his events without incident.

Kelly was able to get away from work early enough to catch most of the events, but by the time I got there, they were all over.  I arrived late because I couldn't find my keys, which turned out to be one of those "there's a hole in the bucket" stories.  I had been packing the car that morning and had set my keys down on a chair in the garage.  I also set down some things I was going to load into the car...without realizing it, I put them on top of the keys.  So when I needed to unlock the car to begin loading, I couldn't find them.  Gahh!  It took more than an hour of tearing the house apart to realize that they might be in the garage, move the pile of stuff (soft things--nothing heavy to crush the keys), and uncover them.  I just about screamed.

After a quick visit at the school, hugs and kisses to the two littles and Kelly (Emma was still at her school), I got in the car and headed down the road.  Over several rivers, through the woods and over the passes--stopping at a view of the valley over Ellensburg to pick up a Geocache--I arrived at my destination!  I pulled up to my camp site with the Baron and Baroness of Aquaterra and several other friends, and began to assemble the 12' yurt.  I had help for the first ten minutes or so, but their services were needed elsewhere, so I set to work assembling it myself.  I was quite sure it could be done solo, and in about two hours, the chore was complete.

That night, however, I discovered muscle pains I never knew I could arms were killing me! All that lifting and adjusting and shifting....ooof!  I hurt from my shoulders to my palms.  Sleep was difficult that night, mostly due to the arm discomfort.  I was too tired to think, "Maybe I should get some Tylenol..." but I did take some the next morning.  I also have determined that I need to invest in a foam pad for the cot--it's just too firm.  Neighbors Lord Nigel and Lady Emma recommended the kind they sell at REI.  She says that it's more comfortable than their bed at home and she sleeps like a baby.

On Saturday, I wandered over to the Arts & Sciences pavilion where I signed up for the sock knitting contest.  They didn't provide anything for the contest except for the directions, so you had to bring your own Cascade 220 and needles.  They recommended size 5-7, which seemed enormous.  I brought size 4, and wondered if Cascade 220 would be too bulky to wear.  But I thought it would be fun to participate anyway, and maybe I could wear them for my sleeping socks at events.  The nights get really cold in An Tir where the temperature can be in the 80s during the day and drop to 40 at night.  The sign up for the sock contest started at 9:00 but the knitting didn't start until noon, so I spend some time winding the yarn into a ball and visiting with some artisans at the 11:00 Artisan Geek-Out.  There was a woman turning sheepskins into vellum.  There was another making chain mail armor (which is a modern misnomer--back in the day, it was called "chain armor" or "mail armor", not "chain-mail"; it's like saying "chicken bird" or "beef hamburger"...or "tuna fish".)  Another gal was weaving velvet (sooooooo soft!), and yet another had large painted game boards.

After about 30 minutes hanging out there, I wandered off and found the Comune dei Pavone camp, where a lot of the artsy people are camped, and talked with HL Isabel (well, she squeaked and whispered--lost her voice from a laryngitis), who said that she had wrangled a couple of judges to help me finish my Journeyman rank for Costumer's Guild.  We compared schedules and decided that between 3:00 and 3:30 we could start.

In front of their camp, Ariel had set up the very small yurt she built for her little brother many years ago.  They called it the Squirt.  It's made with one of those round baby gates from a million years ago!  Now that her sons are reaching teenagerhood, they're too big to camp in it anymore, so it's for sale.  I thought briefly about getting it for Ben...

At noon, I watched some of the procession--the parade of fighters and their households who introduce themselves to their Majesties and request permission to be part of the tournament--as I cast on the first few stitches of my sock.  This part of the event would go on for a couple hours.  There were nearly 100 men and women signed into the lists to fight for crown.  That's the biggest I can recall ever seeing.  Usually it's around 60.  All too soon, and long before the line had significantly dwindled down, I had to go to the Ithra staff meeting.

The meeting for Ithra ran two hours and was largely productive.  I have a short list of things I need to do today--posting the old handbook online, for example--and I got a chance to meet a few people who are the upcoming movers-and-shakers in Ithra.  There was the Regent (I think we're only going to have one) and myself who were the only fully-licensed Chancellors, and Sarra, who was unable to make it to the event.  We all agreed that we need to train up a bunch of Chancellors, and right quick.  Baroness Stephania took notes, so hopefully those will be available on the Yahoo list soon.

Once the meeting ended, I headed back to camp to get the Journeyman stuff, and made my way back across the field to Comune dei Pavone present it to the Costumer's Guild judges, Mistress Isolde, Mistress Godytha and HL Isabel.  As I may have mentioned before, I didn't remember what things I had presented in the past for Junior and Senior ranks, and the records of what I had presented did not survive the database (although I received the gems for achieving it, the data was missing) so I started from scratch.  I had organized all the documentation in the binder, laid out the pieces as we went through them, and I presented my works.  They asked questions and challenged me on my choices ("Is this linen or cotton?  Why did you chose this fabric?"), and brought up some very interesting perspectives on a couple items.  They seemed to really enjoy the Bog Coat article I wrote...Isolde described it as a garment that is "peri-oid"; it has the correct silhouette, but not the right construction.  Mistress Ariel popped in and out during the presentation, and afterwards offered her congratulations.

I was able to catch the final couple of rounds of the Crown tournament where Count Ieuan ("Ian") was in the finals with Squire Leith.  Sir Octomasades was the third contender, but he lost to Leith, and Ieuan won best 2 of 3 against Leith.  Count Ieuan was king once before in January of last year, when he and his wife had a tiny baby.  Now their daughter is a toddler, and Her Royal Highness is expecting another baby.  Ieuan is pictured above wearing yellow, riding on the shoulders of the knights.  His wife is to his left, also in yellow.  Leith is riding on the shoulders ahead of him, wearing blue and black.  Carrying the final two fighters around on the shoulders after the tournament is a tradition in An Tir...I don't know about elsewhere in the SCA.  Generally speaking, when an "unbelted" fighter gets to the final rounds, knighthood is imminent...this happened once before that I recall when Duke Darius got Silver Rose at a May Crown tourney back in 1990 and was offered knighthood that day.  Leith, however, was not offered it that day...or the next--I have heard rumors why this might have been the case, and I hope that given his skill and time since accusations were laid, the knights' council will revisit the issue.  I've known Leith for a long time; he's a great musician and artist (he's a Laurel), but I don't know much about the fighting aspect.  It's not my battle however, so I will withhold further opinion.

Later that night, I went to visit with the Comune dei Pavone but they were just sitting down to dinner and waiting for the Royals to come join them.  It seemed I was not welcome to stay--the only person who shared pleasantries with me was a lady I'd never seen before, so I excused myself and wandered off.  Most of the group were busy in the kitchen, but I was not invited to stay and be social--I had already eaten--and clearly they were not ready for drop-in company.

The evening was spent with Tessa and her campmates while I knitted on the sock.  Later, I wandered around with Lianor and we ran into Duncan--a horse guy--and we had a great time chatting with him and his adult daughter.  Duncan offered to let me ride his horses, and we made some preliminary plans to make that happen.  Eventually I shuffled off to bed at around 2 a.m., when I checked my phone--and yes, Facebook--and discovered that HL Raffaella had been offered the Pelicanate.  Pelican?  Not Laurel?  Foodie, artisan, costumer's guild officer, organizer of the A&S Geek-Outs...  What the--?

I woke up in the morning with the camp behind me cooking bacon.  My entire tent smelled like bacon, and I think their kitchen was just two feet from my head.  I was starting to get a little nauseated.  I probably have bacon spatter on my canvas.  I got up, got a cuppa tea, and began knitting again.  Here's what I had done a couple hours before turn in.  I actually got the heel nearly complete, too, but sadly, the contest was not mine to win.  Due to my time spent in the meeting and presenting for Journeyman rank, I lost a lot of hours of knitting time.  Another competitor spent all night knitting and got BOTH socks done.  I came in third with another knitter getting up to the toe of the sock...just a few inches longer than mine.  In the end, I discovered that I put the heel on the wrong side of the sock, and it may be too small to fit me anyway.  I'm going to have to frog it all out and start again, but it was a fun experiment.

At about noon, I started packing up and was completely done by 3 pm--car packed, ready to hit the road.  Their Excellencies of Aquaterra had gone in to pack up the Baronial pavilion on the eric, and my Shittimwoode neighbors (not the Bacon-neighbors) were almost done with their camp and were going to assist at the eric, and I was headed that direction as well.  However, on my way, I saw that Tessa had a spare tire on her car.  Her right front tire was bald and pitted and had a bulge on one side...oh, it was a bad-lookin' tire...and her left front tire looked almost as bad.  I offered to follow her into town to make sure the other tire didn't blow out on the way.  We made it into town without incident, and while they were fixing the tires, we did a little Geocaching together!  The first was called Muggle Central--right on a busy street at a landmark feature--and the second was behind some newly-built barbed wire fencing.  We gave that one a miss.  We followed up with a couple more in Yakima and had dinner there at Bob's, then met up with a very tired Lianor and we caravaned home.  I arrived home at about 9:30 and Ben was still awake enough to need a big hug.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ode to Mom

Everyone thinks their mom is the best, but I must be allowed to make a case for a real contender.

1. She's a good-lookin' lady, for starters.  And charming, sweet, and funny!

2.  She's a big supporter of charities like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, American Diabetes Association, MS, and more.  She'll even don rabbit ears if we ask her!

3.  She's an amazing cook.  Beyond being creative with ingredients and making everything taste great, in our early years when we were living without a stove or refrigerator, she was able to make an entire Thanksgiving dinner on a two-burner hot plate.

4.  She can sew anything.  Mary Mary quite contrary...silver bells and cockel shells (for a Nursery Rhyme parade)...

...matching Christmas dresses...

...and every Halloween costume I can remember.

5.  She would take us to lots of cool places.  Here she is atop the Space Needle, circa 1980.

 6.  She taught us to search for interesting things in the most ordinary of places.

7.  And seeing the world from a new perspective.

8.  She's always in for an adventure.

9.  Always a lady, she rarely cusses...despite having been married to a Navy man who swears like a sailor.

10.  And finally, she's a great Gramma!  We don't get to see her as often as we'd like, but she loves hanging with the kids.

Love you, Mom!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Benjamin!

I went to the grocery store bakery to pick up some cupcakes, and was sad to discover that:
1) the bakery lady is routinely late--her excuse is that she has to take two kids to daycare before work.  Somehow that makes showing up late OK.
2) the bakery doesn't make fresh cupcakes and cakes--they're baked and then frozen.
3) the cupcakes available in their case was decorated during Bring-Your-Chimp-to-Work day.  

Exhibit A:
Given the low selection, I selected this as one of the less offensive bunches of cupcakes.  

 Exhibit B:
This was not chosen, but I couldn't help myself...I had to take a picture.  Here we have 10 of the 12 Dwarves... including Happy, Dopey, Grumpy, Squinty, Quirky, Tweaky, Apathy, and Nausea.

The good news is that Benjamin liked they way they tasted.  I mean, it's cake and frosting...what could possibly go wrong?

We're going out for sushi dinner to celebrate, followed by gifts and an experimental "tie dye" cake.  Served on the Birthday Plate, the tie dye cake turned out pretty good!  I'll have to try it again to see if I can marble the colors a little more, but the kids were pretty excited to see the inside.

Ben blew out the candles while Kelly assembled his new Razor scooter!  He also got some Legos, a Fluxx card game, an XBox version of Skylanders, and some "mystery" Legos (little $2 packets of a Lego toy, but you don't know what it is until you open it).  He said, "I feel like a lucky man!"

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de May, yo!


Don't worry--that's about the limit of my Spanish-speaking, other than a few menu items and counting up to 49.  I only had six weeks' worth of Spanish in middle school, followed by a semester of German and a semester of French.  I had the choice of the three in high school, but decided to take French--which seemed more useful since my parents were able to mumble their way through a bit of French, and we lived a lot closer to Quebec than Mexico.  Little did I know that I would find few uses for any of these foreign languages aside from translating the odd phrase in a film (leaning over to hubby, "He said, 'Where is your brother?' and the other guy said, 'I don't know.'")

I finished the Black Diamond weave.  It took friggin' forever...some of these Saxon weaves take twice as long because you have to stop about five times to untwist all the strings when the twist gets too tight.  Then the weave gets so short that you have to thread the work on the loom differently to get tension on it.  Ugh!  The result is, of course, this gorgeous piece of period weaving that is the same on the front and the back.  I'm really happy with this one...the colors are so striking.  I'll have to think about what I'd price it at--with all the time, it would be a shame to let it go for less than $100.  I'll check Etsy and see what the going rate is.  The other weaves go for about $15 a yard, but most people can't weave more than 3 yards on their looms.  Mine is a custom loom that was designed to do four...although it needs a more significant tensioning system to allow for more shrinkage. I have a couple of ideas, but I don't know if I can do anything with this loom or if I'd have to build a new one.  My friend, Norman, says he's going to build one that will hold a lot more yardage and asked if I would weave something on it if he builds it.  It would have to be a pattern I really like, because 10 yards in, I'm gonna be really sick of looking at that sucker.  Even though I was getting really tired of working on this piece, the end result is so pretty to look at!

I've received a few more sewing and weaving commissions lately:  my midwestern SCA friend would like a couple of dresses for his new amazing girlfriend.  They have been dating for a bit more than six months (or maybe closing in on a year?) and are just over the moon for each other.  It's really funny seeing how twitter-pated he is...just adorable for a guy in his early 40s.  He wants me to make her 2 or 3 apron dresses--like the ones I'm making for myself--by the first week of August.  He's going to order the fabrics and have them drop-shipped to my house...hopefully soon...and then send me her measurements.

The other commissions are for a local friend who needs a baby quilt (I have yet to receive the materials for this) and 8 yards of trim for her SCA clothes.  I warped up the first half of the trim in this pattern. Since my loom only does 4 yards at a time, it will be in two 4-yard pieces, which she said she's fine with.  She really needs about 6 yards, but is willing to get a little more to make sure there's enough and she can use the rest to decorate a bag, a tablecloth, her dog's collar...or maybe use as a leash, if there's enough length.  This was just the first few passes and I have about two feet done so far.

The little guys participated in their belt test and achieved the next level:  purple!  Now they can wear their black gi (I'm going to have to buy them...) as well as get them all sparring kits.  Technically, they could have gotten sparring kits at the orange level, but I forgot to ask Santa about that at Christmas.

I started sewing some seam embellishments onto the apron dress.  This should hopefully preserve the dress during wearing--preventing the seams from unraveling and holding together should it get snagged on something--and also add a decorative element to the garment.  I probably should have used a wool thread, but I didn't know where I'd find such an animal outside of using some sock yarn, which I might have to dye myself.  I got this really pretty perl cotton floss instead.  Ooooo....shiny!  Looks and feels like silk.  I'll have to remember that line when (and if) I present it for a costume competition.  Maybe July...?

Well, this is where my notes run out, so I'm off to bed.  I'm going on a publishing house tour tomorrow...for fun!  I should probably look up where this place is, hey?