Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lion Pride


I have been sorted into Gryffindor!

The Sorting Hat has finished sorting, and I am Firstie in Gryffindor.  You might remember that back in April I joined the Harry Potter Knitting Crochet House Cup Group in Ravelry.  Last "term" (4 month period) I played as a NQFY (Not Quite First Year), doing class assignments, chatting in the house common rooms, earning badges,

playing Quidditch
and joining the HPKCHC for the Ravellenic Games as well as captaining my own Eastside Stitchers Team in the Games.

You don't have to participate in classes, etc., to be a NQFY, but since there are usually more people in the group than can be comfortably sorted into the 4 HP houses, it improves your chances if you complete at least one class each month.  That is how I started out.  Just one class.  Then I started to get a handle on how the classes worked, and realized that I could turn in most of the things that I am making anyway, the BAMCAL squares and socks for SKA/SolidSocks for instance.  So my last month I turned a ton of stuff.

As a NQFY, there are monthly challenges to help you get to know the other houses and how the game works.  They usually involve visiting the common rooms and asking questions, or at least saying, "hello."  One of the last NQFY Challenges was to talk to people from at least 2 houses and ask them what they like about their house, what makes their house different, and what is the best advice they can give about the game.

I know you won't believe this, but I am shy, and found it hard to just post in strange common rooms, so I found 2 members of each house and sent them each a letter with the questions.  All of them responded promptly, and I learned some nice things.

The members I interviewed were:  GazeboGal, RiverCameron, Kaypendragon, GirlwithaTwist, joseybug, and zillalatte.

What do you like about your House?
Friendships, Great People, The people, The people, silliness and the people.
Hmmmm, are you sensing that all of the Houses are full of fun people?

What makes your House different?
People who love learning new things,  people who work together in teams, laid back fun people, special challenges and unique missions to help you have fun, crazy people who enable/teach you new things, supportive people.
Hmmmm, it seems to me that all 4 Houses are full of people who love to learn and craft and support each other.

What is your best advice for a new member?
The game is supposed to be fun, don't sweat it - remember you just have to complete 1 class each month, don't be afraid to ask questions, craft what you love, fit what you want to craft into the class prompts but take the opportunity to stretch your skills, don't just disappear - let someone know if you are having conflicts and can't participate - your House members will worry, You can do it.

I loved the responses to these 3 questions.  The advice was wonderful.  And I learned that it probably wouldn't matter which house I was sorted into.  When I filled out my sorting form, I wrote that.  I really did not care.  That being said, now that I am in Gryffindor, I am a proud Lion, and will cheer my House on to Victory!

Now I had better get back to work on the Echo Flower Shawl as I am going to try to finish it and turn it on on Sept 1 to get Detention points (they are for WIP's) and also a Gryffindor badge for their WIP the First Challenge, which is to turn in something for Detention on the first day of the month and start out with House points right away.

Stay safe and well.
shaping the planet from the Tower.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Friends with Tools



Life is definitely dominating right now.  One of my brother's best friends from high school came with his brother and installed a lift to carry Mark from the living room/bedroom he has been using to the main part of the house.

Mark's house is split into 3 levels:  The entryway opens to a living room, dining room and kitchen.  From this level you can also access the part of the back yard where there is a patio and barbecue.  From the living room you can go up stairs to the bedrooms or down a half flight of stairs to what once was a family room.  This lower level has a bathroom and the laundry room, also, as well as a door to the garage and access to the lower part of the back yard.  Can you tell the house is on a hill?  To get to the front door from outside there are stairs.  All of these stairs are a nightmare for someone in a wheelchair.

So the lower part of the house has slowly been fixed up to be Mark's room.  He has his computer for work, his hospital bed, a small refrigerator, table, a TV, chairs for visitors, etc.  He can get to the bathroom and outside through the garage.  One lucky thing is that it is open to the kitchen by a half wall, so Mark is included in the family while they cook, eat, and so on, but he was still not WITH them.


Enter Pete and Joe.  Friends with tools, building knowledge and experience, and a generosity of spirit that can't be matched.

They brought Mark a special lift,

 cut the half-wall,

 installed everything, and we ate dinner together as a family.

A family with GREAT friends.


I have made so much progress on my Echo Flower Shawl.  I started the shawl about a million years ago, ok, April 6th.  The Beginning Lace Knitters Group in Ravelry did it as a KAL, but I was busy with other things, so I started mine way after they had finished.  I have worked on it pretty much every month, but super slowly.  I am finished with all of the main repeats and and working on the first border pattern section.  And, I am almost finished with it.  I am on row 13 of 15.  There is one more chart, the Edge Chart, with 8 rows and then it is just soaking and blocking.  As this shawl is for my mom, though I am tempted to keep it and make her a sweater instead, it would be amazing if I could finish it before I have to drive back up to Washington next week.  Where would I block it, though?

The big thing for me in this border section is the Nupps.  Yep, nupps (rhymes with soups)!  Made my first ever.
before purling back
3 completed nupps

I am very slow with the purling back, and a few times I have missed loops and had to "fix" things.  I haven't tinked or frogged back, and my lifeline is at the beginning of the whole border section (which makes me nervous).  Three more rows.  I can do it.

Stay safe and well.
shaping the planet with nupps.

Mark and his daughter "ride" the lift.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fireworks and Tchaikovsky


That's a really bad photo of fireworks taken during the Pacific Symphony's performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, CA.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  I had such a full day yesterday, that I didn't get a chance to blog about my day on Friday, August 24th.

Friday, my daughter, Moogie, and I went to Bower's Museum in Santa Ana, CA. 

It has mostly art from Native cultures, Pacific Rim and local Orange County groups, and then other traveling exhibits.  I took about a million photos, and think there could be many hats made using the motifs from the baskets, paddles, shields, etc. were on display.

But yesterday, was the really big day.

It started with coffee at Cafe Lucca with my sister, S, our friend Roy, and an old high school friend, Maureen.
Then I went to my best friend from high school, Sandy's, house and made Spam Musubi (Spam Sushi) with Sandy and her mom.
We made a ton of it for my brother's family, as Sandy had signed up on the TakeThemAMeal site to bring dinner, and my sister in law, Franny, had told Sandy that the kids loved Spam Musubi.

Well, actually, Sandy's mom cooked everything, Sandy assembled it all.

 I was just the cutter.  We brought it all to Mark's house, and had a bit ourselves.  Just a bit.  Then Moogie, Sister S, and S's Sister in Law and Niece (S and L) went to see the Pacific Symphony. 

We sat in the grass area at the top,

ate a picnic dinner,
and enjoyed the music and fireworks.

I brought my Better than French Vanilla Socks, because there was no way I was going to try to knit lace there.  And, that is all I have otn right now.

Stay safe and well.
shaping the planet through cannon booms!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cooperstown Dreams


Well, my nephew, Nino's, team finally lost a game in their Cooperstown Tournament, and are now finished competing.  They made it to the 6th round, which I believe was the sweet 16 teams left.  My brother, Mark, had said last night that it would probably be their hardest game in the tournament.  And as he said, all the teams except one will end the tournament with a loss.  But Nino's team went really far, farther than we had thought they would when they caught their flight out to New York.  The boys had a great time at the facility.  For kids used to the brown of a Southern California summer, the lush green of upstate New York was amazing.

In between games, the kids are allowed to explore, make friends, and just have fun.  There is a stream that runs nearby, and Nino caught a frog.  So, along with the double play he made from Shortstop in the final game, and his 2 home runs earlier in the tournament, I would say he had a wonderful time.

I have another FO to share.  I finished my Thistle Tam from the Liz Marino Gift Knits Club.  I started this hat at Disneyland, and worked on the ribbed band while standing in line at various rides.  Once I got to the pattern for the top, I had to put it aside until I could find quiet time to focus.  Instead, I worked on my Capricious Cowl that I had purchased at Churchmouse Yarn & Teas during the 2012 Puget Sound LYS Tour.  Once we had moved into my brother's house, I was able to pick up the Tam again when things were relatively quiet.  Now that my sister K has taken her 2 kids back to Texas, and my sons Himes and Pookie have gone on to Univ. of Arizona and home to get ready for high school to start, I have had much more quiet time.  Thus, I finished my tam yesterday.

What projects do I have left? Well, I brought the Better Than French Vanilla Socks from the Liz Marino Snuggly Socks Pattern that I am making in Cascade Heritage 150 Paints.  I am currently on the gusset section, so pretty far.  I am making these for Mark, though, and he has huge feet.  His feet were big anyway, and now with the swelling from the ALS, they are even bigger!  Since he can't put socks on by himself anymore, he needs super stretchy ones, and this is a great pattern for that.

I brought the Echo Flower Shawl that I am making for my Mom. I am ready to knit the first row of the border that has Nupps in it, so I will need a few hours and a VERY quiet place for that.

I also brought some yarn and another hat pattern that I got during the 2012 Puget Sound LYS Tour.  I am not sure if I will start that, though.  Of course, the shawl will probably take the 2 weeks that I have left here.  But also, I am thinking of submitting an OWL proposal for the HPKCHC Group on Ravelry.

An OWL is a project that should take 2 - 3 months of ordinary knitting/crocheting to complete.  The Arithmancy OWL is to make 8 of something.  Originally. I had thought to make 4 pairs of socks (that would count for this OWL), but of course, my sock stash is up in Washington, and I would need to submit swatches for each pair of socks I am proposing to knit.  I actually thought that maybe I would just BUY 4 more skeins of sock yarn, and do it anyway (though I DO NOT NEED MORE SOCK YARN THIS YEAR), but I can't find any good solid yarn, and since I want to also submit what I make to Solid Socks and Sock Knitters Anonymous, I will not do socks for the OWL.

One of the other NQFY's (Not Quite First Years) in the group suggested I think about Hats.  I don't have much stash yarn other than lace, sock, and acrylic for afghans and amigurumi.  So buying some yarn for hats would be investing.  Right?  I have been busy looking up good hat patterns on Ravelry.  I have this one hat with me.  I would need 7 more.  Seriously thinking about it. 

Another idea, would be to make a lace shawl.  If I finish the Echo Flower Shawl for my mom, I will need another lace project.  I hope to make another Advent Calendar Scarf but that won't be until December.

What ever I decide, if I want to submit an OWL, I need to get all of the swatches finished, and the proposal written up ready to submit September 1.


I might just take this first term as a Firstie to get to know people and participate in other ways.  If I feel pressured to knit knit knit, I won't be able to get on the chat threads.  I have noticed, ahem, that when I am reading chat threads, my productivity goes way down.

Stay safe and well.
Shaping the planet with a new Tam.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

FO Tuesday



I finished my Capricious Cowl.  Yay!  The pattern and yarn were from the 2012 Puget Sound LYS Tour, and this makes the 4th project I have finished with yarn bought during that wonderful weekend.  See!  I was INVESTING, not just spending.  This whole project came from Churchmouse Yarn and Teas on Bainbridge Island.  That was our last stop on the Tour.  We took a ferry from Seattle, ate lunch there, and celebrated our successfully visiting all 24 stops with a glass of champagne offered by the wonderful people at Churchmouse.  The 2 projects they featured were both cowls, one for knit and one for crochet.  I was tempted to buy yarn for both! but made myself just get the beautiful Rowan Kidsilk Haze for the knitted cowl.

It was a super simple knit.  The only tricky parts were the beginning and the ending.  It starts with a Provisional Cast on.

At the end, you take off the locking stitchmarker, and "unzip" the crocheted chain, picking up stitches as you go.
Once I had unzipped the whole string (I only had to cut twice), and picked up all of the live stitches, the fun began.  KITCHENER!

You start by purling the front stitch and knitting the back stitch, but leaving both on the needles.

Then you start the pattern:

Front needle, Knit slip off, Purl stay on, pull yarn through:

Back needle, Purl slip off, Knit stay on, pull yarn through:
So it is Knit Slip off Purl, Purl Slip off Knit.
Knit Slip off Purl, Purl Slip off Knit.
Knit Slip off Purl, Purl Slip off Knit.
175 times.

But when you finish, it is a lovely seam, pretty much invisible.


All is pretty quiet this week at my brother's house.  The exciting news for us is happening in New York State at Cooperstown.  My nephew, Nino's, baseball team is there this week for a 12 year old tournament.  It is both a happy and sad experience to watch my brother through all of this.

Four years ago, Mark was in Cooperstown at the tournament as the coach of his oldest son, Mo's, team.  Since he had also been Nino's coach all of these years, he was fully expecting to join Nino when Nino was old enough for this once in a lifetime experience.  Well, the ALS has put an end to Mark's attending the tournament in person, but through many texts, and phone calls from the other coaches, and of course Nino, and live streaming of one of Nino's games, we are doing our best to be with the team in New York.

Nino has hit 2 homeruns so far, and his team is 5-0 with one more game to play in the Round Robin Tournament, before the big tournament begins.  Go Nino!

Stay safe and well.
Shaping the planet with a reversible cowl.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Backyard Birthdays are the Best

My niece, B, held a backyard birthday party for her son, Z and her partner's daughter, R.  It was so much fun.  B is wonderfully organized.  The party took some planning and pre-party work, but then, went off flawlessly and everyone had a great time.

Before the guests came we baked and decorated the birthday cakes (and some brownies).

We separated two bags of m & m's by color then decorated a white bunt cake.

 I baked two rounds of my special secret recipe yellow cake.

My sister, S, decorated it with chocolate frosting.

B baked a pan of chocolate brownies.

There was to be a pinata, but just in case kids didn't get enough of the candy loot that would spill out, B filled bags with extra candy.
We also filled bags with popped popcorn.

We cooked the baked beans and the hotdogs, then wrapped the dogs in foil and put them in the oven to stay warm.

The best part of the planned dinner was the corn on the cob.  My nephew, A, and his beautiful bride, S, taught me how to barbeque fresh corn.  First we pulled off the outermost leaves of the husk.

Then we carefully pulled back the leaves, making sure we could re-cover the entire corn, then pulled out any inner leaves left.

Fold the leaves back up and tie closed using torn pieces of husk.  We tied 2 together to make them a bit longer.
Soak them in water (make sure they are completely submerged) for at least 15 minutes.  Then put on a grill at about 350-400 degrees F for about 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so.


When the guests arrived, we ate, then broke the pinata

Had cake and watched a movie in the backyard projected on a screen.

Happy Birthday!

Stay safe and well.
Shaping the planet at an outdoor birthday party.