Sunday, April 13, 2014

Life is whizzing by...

Here it is, 3 years later (how can that be?), and my resolution to post more often has fallen by the wayside. Honest, my blog friends, I keep thinking about you, and taking pictures to show you things I'm doing, but the actual blogging part...? Not so much. But I'm back, if anyone is actually still out there!

In the last 3 years, I have continued knitting and crocheting and spinning, and added dyeing and weaving to my bag of fiber tricks. I've completed lots of projects, frogged a bunch, acquired yarn and fiber, spun fiber into yarn.

I finally finished the Susie cardigan  (Ravelry link) last October, 5 years and 2 days after I started it. The recipient wore it EVERY DAY for months, except for washing it. I haven't even put the clasps on it because she wouldn't take it off long enough for me to do so! I made it in Dream in Color's Classy in the Good Luck Jade colorway. No hood, just a garter stitch neckline.

Purlescence Yarns continues to be my home-away-from-home. I've gained so many dear friends through my association with them, and people that I now consider to be family. Kevin has just started his Tails of a Sassy Fiber Monkeh blog. Mari has her Just The Food, People blog too. Sandi, Kaye, Nathania -- I love you all!

We had a blast teaming with Pam Haschke for the Halos of Hope-athon, a 24-hour knitathon to create hats for people undergoing cancer treatment. Halos of Hope is an all-volunteer organization that distributes these hats to cancer centers across the US and we're proud to have provided 230 hats in 24 hours. I even pulled an all-nighter, which I hadn't done since college, a thousand years ago.

The 2nd annual Halos-of-Hope-athon will be held June 28-29, 2014, from 10 AM Saturday to 10 AM Sunday. We'll see if I manage to stay up this time, as I will have returned from London just 2 days before that! Hope to see you there.

Stitches West is still our biggest event. I was lucky enough this year to be part of the Purl Up & Dye team, creating color on superwash merino fiber. Such a fun time, playing with color! I bought several braids and am loving spinning that fiber into yarn.

For example, here is my chocolate cherries colorway still wet (top), before the color is set, and the bottom picture is the final spun product, a 3-ply fingering weight. The finished product is more rose-colored than red in real life.

School is as wild and crazy as ever and I still love it. Last year, I got a new part-time librarian and spent time training her. However, she started the job in August 2012 and went on maternity leave at the end of February, so this school year is the first full year she's been present. She's been a great help, with lots of great ideas and energy.

I've started to get more engaged with my own health. Some numbers were heading the wrong way and I just felt pretty blah about myself. So last June, I started working out at the gym that had just opened near school. LOVE IT! I'm working with a personal trainer who keeps me going. In addition to the increased physical activity/strength training, I'm also being more mindful of what I'm eating and how much of it I'm eating at a time. So far, I've lost almost 25 pounds, aiming for maybe another 5-10 more. I've had to buy new clothes (terrible problem to have, really) since I'm down 2 sizes.

Another project that I'm really pleased with is my CustomFit sweater. If you haven't heard of CustomFit by Amy Herzog, and you're a knitter, go check it out right now! You input your measurements, your swatch measurements for whatever yarn/needle size you would like to use, and your design elements (cardigan/pullover/vest, neckline, sleeve type/length, etc.) and CustomFit will return a pattern to you. Simply follow the pattern. It is written out for you. You don't have to figure out which size directions to follow. You don't have to figure out how to modify the shaping to fit your specific needs. AND IT WILL FIT! I will be making more sweaters. The next one will be for Kelli out of the same yarn I used here, Cascade's Eco+ in the Aporto colorway.

Music has also come back into my life in a big way. I had mentioned previously that I was singing with a gospel choir. Well, that group is no longer active. :-( In December, I was watching The Sing-Off, an a cappella competition show. The winning group, Home Free, completely captured my heart, and I'm obsessed by them and their music. (Ask anyone that knows me about the Home Free obsession!) When I heard their album release in January, it made me realize that I truly needed to be singing again. After a few months of searching, I've begun singing with the Peninsula Harmony Chorus, a local a cappella group.

Thanks, Kevin, for reminding me that I have this blog to update. I also post on Facebook as Kathy Lew Clark and on Twitter as PurpleYarnQueen, if you want to follow me at either place.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Did anyone find April and May around here?

April and May seem to have gone missing from the blog. Oh, maybe that's because I didn't post at all during those the time seems to have disappeared!

But it's now June, and school has ended for the year. Not that I dislike my job - far from it - but it was definitely time to let the kids go and for me to have some time away from the responsibilities of being a school librarian. This was a tough year in some ways, as I was asked to stretch myself in directions that I didn't think I wanted to go.

And for someone who is now on vacation, there is an awful lot on my calendar! During June, there is only one day (ONE DAY!) that doesn't have something scheduled on it. However, this IS considered vacation, because some of those events don't start until evening, so I can sleep until I'm ready to wake or the dog decides she's tired of being in her crate, whichever comes first.

So, last time I posted, I mentioned that I had a bad case of Startitis. Well, I'm now working my way through MustFinishStuffFirstBeforeIStartSomethingElse-itis. By the way, if you want pictures, look at these previous posts and imagine more of the same in the pictures!

Case in point:


Girl Friday -- back and fronts done, one sleeve almost finished. BUT, after taking a Fit to Flatter class with Amy Herzog, have discovered that I'm making it a size too big. I'm debating whether to pull it completely out and redo it in the smaller size, or if I should just pull it back to the underarm shaping and refigure the numbers to make it smaller just in the upper chest/shoulder area.

Chad -- back done, front cast on and ribbing done, except that I forgot to use a smaller needle for the ribbing. RIIIIIPPPPP! Only 2 inches of 2x2 ribbing, so luckily not too much!

A's mitts for Richard -- done!

Octavia shawl -- done (just not blocked yet)!

Yet another Eco Cloud cowl for a goodbye gift to a coworker who is moving to Buffalo, NY to work on a PhD in medieval literature.

San Francisco Giants mitts -- a commission (which I don't usually do) for a coworker as a gift to his friend who takes Pat to several Giants games each season. My payment -- he will donate to No-blog Rachel's fundraising effort/walk for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer walk in September.

The Lost in Transit scarf is languishing, the Susie coat is just sitting around, as are the plain vanilla socks being made from my hand-dyed yarn.

But I want to start a Daybreak shawl (I may have cast on for this already...don't tell anyone), need to knit socks from my purple handspun and from other yarn in stash, got ideas for altering a completed Spanish Dancer shawl, and.....we could be here forever with the list of "wanna-dos".

Spinning - need to finish projects:

Baby camel/silk blend - about 3/4 done; aiming for a 2-ply laceweight, spinning on my Lendrum.

Abstract Fiber merino/silk blend in Poppies colorway -- just over half done, spinning on the KCL drop spindle. Was originally going to ply the colors togther, but now, I may spin a matching single from a lovely alpaca/silk blend (also Abstract) in Black n'Blue and ply those.

Tri-color BFL (Frabjous Fibers) in Stained Glass colorway -- almost 1/3 done spinning on my Victoria.

The cranberry and gold wool spinning project is currently on hold until I clear up one of the projects already on the wheels.

The mind is bursting with desire to knit and spin and sew (need to sit down and bust out two quick baby quilts that were promised to parents - the babies are now 4 months and 2 months old, respectively).

But the time has gotten away from me and the calendar is filling up with appointments and rehearsals. I've just joined a local gospel choir, Joyful Noise, and we have rehearsals every Tuesday evening, in addition to my normal Thursday evenings at the public library. Then there is the storytelling that I do with my friend Sharon for the public library. We do one story a year for the summer reading program, but have been asked to tell our story in a couple weeks for a Friends of the Library function. We need to get the rehearsal schedule together. Oh, and there are the two presentations that I'm supposed to do at a Teacher Institute next week, one of which will also be presented in Philadelphia at the ISTE conference in two weeks, and the teachers with whom I'm helping find resources for a major curriculum rework in 10 days.

No wonder that Time has been disappearing fast!

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Well, since my last post, I finished a second Eco Cloud cowl, this time casting on 75 stitches, and a pair of fingerless mitts. Both are for me. Thank goodness this week has been Spring Break from School so I could do all these things!

These mitts are based on the Jacoby pattern, but I made the top part longer and added several rows to the thumb. This way, I can keep more of my fingers warm, but also can fold down the top if I need to use my fingers. Now, I need to finish a pair for R so we can wear them to Opening Night of the Oakland A's season tomorrow! (Baseball season has started -- Hooray!)

What you see below are my pair, and the one on the needles on the top left are for R. Mine were done on 60 stitches, and his are on 68 stitches. You can see how the striping pattern has changed, and how the addition of the thumb gusset changes it too. (Claudia Handpaints fingering weight in the A's colorway.)

But in addition to 2 pairs of fingerless gloves, I've got a major case of startitis! I've been a good girl and swatched to check gauge.

Girl Friday -- I've had this rosy peach Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool since Dec. 2009, and I've finally found a good pattern for it!

Cassidy -- working on this in Cascade Lana d'Oro, color 9923, an alpaca/wool blend that I've had for almost 3 years now (sorry no pics, yet).

Chad (Ravelry link) has been calling my name! You know how you've acquired quite a stash, but nothing matches the patterns you want to make, either in gauge or quantity or color or ... I've been wanting to make this for a while, but didn't have anything in stash with the quantity that I needed. I'd almost resigned myself to buying some Greenland, the called-for yarn in the pattern. But then, while I was hanging out at Purlescence, I noticed a skein of Dream in Color Classy in the Plum Paisley colorway. You may remember that almost 2 years ago, I bought 5 skeins and then found the perfect buttons for it. But subsequent dye lots of this yarn were very, very different. But this one was the same as my previous purchase. Buying one additional skein was the right decision and I'm loving the knitting of the waffle pattern for Chad!

And then, along came a pattern a couple nights ago from Debbi Stone, a Goddess Knitter from Blue Moon. Her Octavia lace shawl pattern just jumped at me and onto the needles. The lace pattern has violets in it and calls for about 350 yards of fingering weight yarn. In going through the stash of sock yarn, I pulled out a few that I thought might work. Asked the DH which one he thought would work best and he chose the semisolid Socks that Rock Lightweight in .... Vancouver Violet. Perfect match!

I'm still spinning the Abstract Fiber silk/merino on my KCL drop spindle, but Kelli and I decided that the colorway should really be called Brazilian Carnaval, not Poppies.

I've spun about half of the baby camel/silk from Stitches, and have also started some Ashland Bay merino top that will be plied together, half in Cranberry, and half in a yellower/deep gold blend.

And yesterday, I got a new wheel! She's a new-to-me Louet Victoria. Help, I need a name for her!

To make matters even more interesting, I've also started up on Twitter as @PurpleYarnQueen.

Like I said... Startitis!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


So what else is new?

I just need to keep reminding myself that life will get a little less busy in a couple weeks when my school goes on Spring Break. However, since Stitches last month, it has been non-stop, go-go-go-, keep going, oh-but-don't-forget-that-project-either, madness at work.

--- 4 straight weeks of researchers in the library, 100+ students every day, in addition to the regular classes.
--- 2 presentations at a conference (oh, I agreed to help out at two of them? Oops, I thought I'd only said okay to one...)
--- 1 presentation that was cancelled at the last minute (rescheduled for next month)
--- need to make sure all your budget is spent (in your spare time)
--- what the heck am I teaching this week to this grade?
--- Second Grade show rehearsals onstage start next week, right after the researchers finish; show is less than two weeks away, so also need to keep the librarian-in-charge-of-show sane
--- which reminds me that I need to reformat my copy of the script because I'm the stage manager

No wonder my down time at home has often been spent staring off into space instead of crafting!

Nothing has been finished since my last post, but the projects are heading closer to completion. I've told myself that I have to finish one project before I can cast on another.

1. Susie sweater -- moving along on the first sleeve. The cuff is done and I'm almost 17" up the length. I just need to try it on the recipient and see how much farther I need to get it. Maybe I'll start the cuff of the second sleeve now.

2. Lost in Transit scarf is about 2/3 done. I'm almost done with the second repeat. It still looks the same as last month, only longer.

3. Purple Vanilla socks - 1 sock is done, the toe is cast on and I'm now knitting around and around and around for the foot.

4. The little bit of crafting brain that I have left is focused on spinning! Right after Stitches ended, I had to try out my new fast flyer on something intended for laceweight. Well, gee, I just happened to have this gorgeous baby camel/silk blend...

But then I got a KCL Woods spindle at Purlescence. I resisted going by Ken Ledbetter's booth at Stitches, but the Purl Girls didn't and brought some spindles into the shop. One came home with me, and the Abstract Fiber silk/merino blend in "Poppies" was immediately started onto a leader. This spindle (one of his "beginner spindles", nothing fancy) spins like a dream - love it, love it, love it!

Talk about addiction! In the last 2 weeks, I've almost spun 2 oz, solely on a drop spindle. I will say that the more you use a drop spindle, the less you drop it! I'm going to ply it into a 2-ply laceweight. Can't wait!!!

Oh, and the last thing that has eaten my brain is my new iPhone. My old iPod Touch was a first generation and wouldn't upgrade any further to iOS4, therefore not syncing my calendar etc, with my computer. After a bit of hemming and hawing (on my part) and a bit of research (on his part), he told me to upgrade to an iPhone4. [Darn, he made me do it!]

So we're standing in the Apple Store and looking at cases, but I can't get any of their purple cases because everyone else I know has one of them. I stood there and said "this person has this one, and this other person has this one..." So I went home, looked around online and didn't like the other ones I saw. Then Tapmouse mentioned making a custom case - bingo! I went to Zazzle, uploaded a photo that The Dork had taken a while back, and here's my new case. It won't be mixed up with anyone else's! The flower is actually more purple than this. It's Vinca Minor (aka common periwinkle), in case you're wondering...

I'm trying not to let a month go by before I post again, but we'll see what happens...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Coming back down to Earth...

So the last month has been all about Stitches West 2011. Scheduling time off from work, knitting for it, planning, looking forward to it, etc. I love seeing people that I don't see very often, enabling people into some wonderful yarn or fiber and generally reveling in the creative atmosphere that is Stitches.

Because I was working in the Purlescence Yarns booth, I wanted to knit with yarns they were going to be selling. Since they were bringing over mostly Cascade Yarns, I took a look in my stash for something to work on.

Behold: Red Pogona by Stephen West
1 skein of Cascade Heritage 150 paints in red (col. 9958)
US 6 (4mm) needles

And: Cowl (imaginatively named, huh) based on Mulberry Merino Cowl
1 skein of Cascade Eco Cloud in medium gray (col. 1810)
US 10.5 (6.5 mm) needles

Love, love, love this new yarn! It's very squishy and soft and I'm going to make another one, but casting on fewer stitches to make a closer fit for me. The original one is going to a friend.

Also had time to cast on and knit about half of Lost In Transit scarf from 1 skein Cascade Heritage Silk (col. 5639)
US 6 needles

That knitting was using up stash. You'll be shocked to know that I did not acquire much yarn to replace what I just used. In fact, I only bought one hank of yarn at the show. Okay, so I bought more than a pound of fiber instead of yarn...

Clockwise from the upper left:
4 oz. of merino/silk in that nummy blackberry purple from Redfish Dyeworks
2 oz. of merino/yak/silk in Supernova from A Verb for Keeping Warm
2 oz. of baby camel/silk (natural color), also from Verb
2 oz. of yak (natural color) from Rabbitworks Fibre Studio
(another shot of the previous 3 fibers)
400 yards of Toe Jam sock yarn (alpaca/mohair/silk/merino) in Bloodlines also from Rabbitworks
2 - 4 oz. braids of merino from Judy's Novelty Wool (her website is very bare-bones). One braid is Teal, the other is "Henson Reunion '04"
and 4 oz. superwash merino in Patronus from Sunshine Yarns.

Another acquisition happened too, but I didn't pay for it. The Boy had promised to give me a fast flyer for my spinning wheel, but hadn't gotten it yet. So he came to Stitches, ostensibly to buy some yarn to make his girlfriend a scarf, but also took care of this outstanding debt too. So now I can spin some of this lovely luxury fiber into laceweight yarn.

Much as I've tried to get my body to pull out the wheel and spin some of this stuff, today has been all about letting my brain rest. Maybe I should head to bed soon...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Time flies when you're having fun... or Who Took My Year?

How did that happen? I blinked and it's almost the middle of January, and I haven't posted since September! Where does the time disappear to? Did someone else need it more than I did?

Okay, I need to recap what I've been doing (mostly for myself because I don't think anyone is left out there reading my rambling).

In my crafty life --

There has been knitting:
In October, I finished 3 hats for Shanti's Mom's Ships Project to put hats on the heads of sailors on her ship. Those are down the left side.

From next column clockwise: Fingerless gloves for The Dork, Bryony tank, Handspun Scrunchable Scarf for me, Striped scarf for Hubby, Purple socks for me, Hawthorne shawl (yes, it takes the entire width of our queen-size bed).

In progress now: a Pretty Thing cowl in cashmere!

Only one this year, but there are a couple more in the works that I can't show you yet. Remember I had bought some blue fabric back in 2008 for an ocean themed quilt? Well, I added to the fabric stash... and then this:

Blue batiks

became a quilt/playmat for Reuben Jeffrey James Miles


Ahhh, spinning! I've done more spinning in the last year than I've done in a looooong time, and that includes the Tour de Fleece. That's because I enrolled in SpinU, a 12-week intensive class at Purlescence taught by the incomparable Sandi. We did all kinds of spinning, from understanding the basics of worsted-style and getting our hands to do woolen-style spinning, to working with long- vs short-staple fibers, to various art-yarns. I've got a better understanding of my wheel and how to get it to do what I need.

My favorite spinning was the laceweight cashmere/silk and camel/silk blends in the upper left photo. (I loved working with the good stuff!) And, The Dork Boy says he's getting me a high-speed flyer whorl for my spinning wheel so I can more easily spin the finer stuff.

In other crafty things, my sister-in-law made this embroidery for her mother (my MIL):


School has been busy and we're heading into what I call "research season" starting with the 3rd graders this week. We're also involved with accreditation reports for the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC), and I'm heading a committee. Add to that supervising a part-time librarian (who used to be my boss - she's semi-retired), and I'm sometimes silly busy.

In the home improvement area, we've had 2 fences go down in a windstorm before Christmas. The backyard was quickly repaired by our neighbors who propped it up. The side fence, which we knew was a problem, will be replaced probably in the spring when it's warmer. There also have been washing machine problems, a replacement water heater (tankless!), a new-to-us TV, and some reorganization and destashing of stuff. Another run to Goodwill needs to happen soon.

The holidays came and went too quickly. I blinked and the time between Halloween and the New Year whizzed by.

Other than that, I'm looking forward to Stitches West, which will be in just a few weeks. Hmmm, what can I make before then...?

Whew! I guess I was pretty busy, wasn't I?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Finishing my vacation

Okay, I started this blog post last month. Now it's the official end of summer in the US, Labor Day, and I realized that the post still isn't done!

The summer was full of projects and, I think overall, that a lot got done. It just went by really, really quickly!

There has been cleaning and decluttering, and there is more yet to be done. But I'm feeling better about the lower amount of stuff in this house. Some people say there is a feeling of lightness that occurs, and I think I'd have to agree.

However, does that mean I've gotten rid of yarn stash? Not entirely! I am, though, using some stash.


The Fall Twist Collective came out, and I immediately fell in love with the Hawthorne shawl. I have some alpaca yarn that I bought several years ago up in the Medford area, from Alpacas at Lone Ranch, and it's knitting up beautifully. It's done, and I just need to get a modelled shot of it.

I've started the Bryony tank by Amy Herzog and am knitting it in BabyBoo, a bamboo/nylon blend. We (Sandi and I) did some customizing of the pattern because the row gauge of the original yarn is very compressed compared to the row gauge I'm getting. And, I'm combining two sizes for the front to accomodate my hips, decreasing down to the appropriate bust size. Back is done and I'm halfway through the front. Love the cable detail on this!

I have about 3000 yards of this beautiful Artfibers Alfabeto (silk/mohair) that Sandi so kindly gifted to me. I started a mindless project to take on vacation up to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, so I came up with the Point Edge Wrap. Show knitting was supposed to be garter stitch with a beautiful edging. However, I failed entirely to manage an 8-stitch lace pattern in the dark.

Hence, a stop at Web*sters in Ashland for yarn for a simple mindless scarf - no yarn overs! I got some Colinette Cadenza in the colorway Marble, 2 skeins became another Scrunchable Scarf. Even better, I had a gift certificate to use!

While in Web*sters, I was in the sale room when I turned around to see this gorgeous braid on the table. They had just gotten this beautiful tri-color BFL in "stained glass" from Frabjous Fibers in Vermont. MUST.HAVE.NOW. So I did.

But I had also bought 8 oz. of gorgeous Mendenhall Merino black fleece from Purlescence. Much of the fiber I buy has to sit and marinate for a while until I decide what it wants to grow up to be. However, this stuff --- yummy! Must. Spin. Now! The locks are almost 3 inches long and the crimp is beautiful and tight. So I washed it, and now it's completely dry, and I want to just spin it right off the locks as is. But I should be good and flick card it first...

And now, I'm taking the SpinU class at Purlescence, so there is a lot more spinning in my future.

That led up to this past Saturday. Rachel and I decided we needed a day to dye. So she brought over some supplies and fiber and yarn and I ransacked my stash, and we spent over 4 hours playing with color in my backyard.

I dyed some light grey colonial top with a mixture of violet & lavender, and another braid with blues, experimented with some tussah silk, and overdyed some Malabrigo worsted. "What!?" I can hear you saying, "But Malabrigo comes in such gorgeous colors!"

"Yes" is my reply, but the ones I bought weren't quite my colors, so now they are! See the Mineral Red skeins in the top left corner? The big picture on the right is the "after" shot, with the addition of mahogany and royal blue.

One very different project occurred before school started when I took a break from my fiber obsession and took a little trip up to San Francisco. Last year when my parents came up this direction, they went to the National Archives in San Bruno and found / copied some documents about my mother's grandfather and his family. Supposedly, he was born in San Francisco in 1878 at 531 Jackson St., the brick building on the corner. Now it's a Chinese restaurant. Some of these documents were transcripts of interviews with him to prove his identity as a native-born citizen. There are addresses of the places where he lived as a child and adult, his work as a laundryman and merchant. So I went up to SF's Chinatown and walked around, trying not to completely look like a tourist, but pulling out my camera at each address I found. He was about 18 years old at the time of the 1906 earthquake, and of course, many of the addresses are newer buildings.

However, I've since found out that not one address in those documents was connected to my great-grandfather at all. Sigh! According to a written history that my grandmother created about the family (that I did not have a few weeks ago), her father-in-law came to this country through Mexico. Since a lot of documents were destroyed during the 1906 earthquake, many Chinese men created stories about their early lives that could not be verified. They had to have every detail in place to "prove" that they were "citizens" and eligible to stay in California. These "Paper Sons" made it difficult to discern what is factual and what is false about their lives. I guess I'm having a hard time reconciling these other documents because I don't want to believe that someone in my family lied, even if it ultimately led to all the other truths that I know about my family.

So, some of my summer projects have been more productive than others, but all in all, I'm pretty pleased with how much got done.

Now, on to the new school year!