Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'm still around

But a bit occupied to be very chatty at the moment.

My knitting course at AH was super, nice people, excellent tutor and I learned a lot, some of which will surface here from time to time. I can finally, finally do an attached i-cord, which might not seem much to the knitwhizzes of this world, but is a Big Thing for me. And as a consequence, I realize I can now do an edging on a shawl and attach it at the same time. In fact, I came away with the warm feeling that I had actually known more than I thought I did all along. Which as well as learning a lot in three days adds up to a very satisfying time.

I played hookey on one afternoon and took my digital camera for a walk. The fact that I ended up in amongst a group from a digital photography class running at the same time got a tad confusing, but hell, I enjoyed myself. Herewith a selection, with no explanation as I personally feel that none is necessary and anyone else must lump it! (I'm in that sort of a mood....)


Sensory garden

Walled garden

Fallen fruit

Woodland walk

Tree trunk

I do seem to have this thing about tree trunks, but I don't think I am alone.

I have a visitor at the moment, and the DSM managed to take a day off in the week by virtue of working one weekend day whilst I was away. So we went to Otley and Ilkey, and spent time and money at Adelaide Walker, which was necessary! We have to decide on fibre for our classes next year. Yes, really. We will ignore the camel and silk that |I bought to go with the camel and silk I bought from them back in the summer and that I am spinning at the moment.

Then we went to Ilkley and book shopped and a few other things. Like I actually to my complete and utter amazement managed to get the two pairs of ankle boots that I needed! and that are so difficult to get with my weird feet. Then we were forced to both shop at and have tea at Betty's. Oh dear.

I should be doing another batch of catch up ironing. I should also be doing some sampling of yak and one or two other fibres for my next class. But what I actually want to do and probably will do is sit and finish the latest toe-up sock, because I now feel the need to move on to other things. After all, I do have my guest to consider......

Thursday, November 23, 2006

And the rain (deedle deedle dee) came down....

Something like that, anyway. Track from "A Bigger Bang". I think. Could be wrong.

A combination of atrocious weather and what I think must be a discombobulation of the brain chemistry due to changing time-zones a couple of weeks ago (its a good enough story for me at the moment anyway)finds me chewing the carpet as I claw my way up from it. This had better be only temporary, or I will be appearing in the News of the World (shudder).

Of course, an excess of house cleaning won't have helped. Let this be an object lesson to me - never, ever go away leaving a house uncleaned after builders have been around. Yikes, enough to send anyone to the funny farm. It is gradually looking a bit more like its usual state of chaos, the DSM has kindly volunteered to finish up a few bits whilst I am away this weekend, and then next week I can tackle the new ironing mountain whilst sueb is here, so I have company to chat to the while.

In order to preserve some shreds of sanity, I have managed to do a little knitting and spinning. I finished a bundle of nice Freyalynn-dyed stuff, very pretty, should be enough for a sock. I would have a photo if I didn't have a head full of cotton wool. I have started spinning some rather lush camel and silk from Adelaide Walker, slightly tricky in that you might think it needs to be very fine with a moderately high degree of twist but it actually seems to prefer a medium thickness and as low a twist as is consistent with the stuff holding together. Might get to AW next week, and might get some more, if I can get a sample of this plyed and examined.

Have vowed and determined to spindle spin the pretty blue from Carolina Homespun that I got at SOAR, so I can try out our new Lizzy Kate, all this as part of the preparations for next years workshops. Another of which hove in to view yesterday, perhaps. Although that would be in 2008. Not sure that I can cope with this, and am sure that I definitely need at least a PDA. Preferably a Blackberry, but think they are too expensive. I also checked out the already spindle spun yarn, and find there is quite a bit of it - white, ready to be dyed. Need to assess, decide on what to make, and dye.

I seem to have found a lovely big bag of Wolf lichen in my suitcase. Dear me, it must have crept in there when we stopped to admire the view just where they had been doing some tree felling down the road from Granlibakken. What a good job that there are no beagles specially trained to sniff that out......So acid yellow and teal green sounds good, no?

So, I am off to AH for three days of knitting course. I used to hate knitting, but find that I have become more and more reconciled to it, and want to expand my horizons a bit. This is covering bits and pieces and joinings and finishings, all sorts of tips and wrinkles. Plus we are to take a bag or two of odds and sods and work on how to design what to make with them. I have a lovely bag of pinks and purples that a friend gave me recently that is just the job for that part.

This should hopefully take my mind off myself being negative and refocus me - AH is always nice to stay at and there are some friends doing the courses too. I intend to pack a bottle or two, and go with the intention of both working and relaxing.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rapid final rundown

I need to get the last bit of our trip blogged and return properly to real life! So I will put a few photos up here, the rest are on Flickr, and if anyone really wants to see them, just click on on and by the magic of the internet you will be transported.....

We did a little grockling around Tahoe....


Including the famous Emerald Bay that all SOAR photographers seem to have visited.....

Emerald Bay

Side trip to Fallen Leaf and Lily Lake, this being the latter......

Lily Lake

Near where I found more than one beautiful tree to photograph....


And then SOAR was over for another year, so we hit the road.

Emigrant Gap

If memory still can function accurately, this is Emigrant Gap. You can see why folk wanted to, emigrate, I mean. All that light and space.

This is the cabin we rented for the last few days. If we had spent the entire three weeks there it wouldn't have been long enough.


It is just outside Point Reyes Station, which felt like an exotic Hebden Bridge (although we do have good coffee too). Point Reyes itself, and Tomales Bay are lovely, and another fabulous area for birdwatching.

Please note the pink object toward the back of the photo. This was our own personal, private hot tub. Now, I have dipped toes in these things before, and always shot out screaming, never to immerse my entire body. This one was not only very slightly cooler, but it was our own, right outside the bedroom door. It would have been wussy in the extreme not to have had a go.


It was hot. Most of the time I kept the upper half of my body in the night air. And the first time, when the night was warmer and clearer, I sat in the garden for a good half hour to recover. In November. But It was good, ok, I admit it. If it weren't for the lace of flat space, not to mention the midges, I would be tempted......

Moving on.


The DSM reverting to childhood and pretending to be a buccaneer at Drakes Bay on Point Reyes.

(no subject)

Having a picnic in the car because of the howling wind outside, with an audience on the bonnet. There was another perched beside the car on the ground, a raven no less. Cheeky buggers.


And, finally, because we can't go to Northern California without visiting redwoods, a shot from Muir Woods which was not all that far away.

It is raining again today. As it was yesterday, which is no doubt one of the reasons that I succumbed to a massive fit of the glooms. Better today, despite the leaden skies and the off-again-on-again rain. Back to reality with a vengeance, she cliched. Including the fact that as I didn't get to cleaning the house before going away, it really is essential that it is done now.

But - there is lovely new fibre to spin and work to be done. Friday I was at AH, but my next class there is in less than three weeks and I need to do preparation for that. Saturday was Guild, quite nice, good to catch up with people. The next Guild meeting is Christmas and the Secret Santa, for which I am not prepared, so there is that to do, too. And then, next year is the year of the spindle spinning classes - looks like another one is taking shape - so I need to do lots of it, and actually make something, well, several somethings. Not a chore, should be fun.

Then, next weekend, I am back at AH on a knitting class. Yeah, need to get fettling those pointy sticks.

So. So. Right.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Further in and higher up

No, I'm not going to bleat about altitude again. Well, not much, anyway. It has been a great relief to me, trundling around the blogosphere as I have been, to read the complaints of other flatlanders who were at SOAR. We do suffer, you know. I can only suppose that the Interweave people, living as they do up in the higher reaches, simply do not realise what a sacrifice we make to attend - must be somewhat akin to walking backwards in bare feet up stony mountain pathways in Ireland, or something. Il faut souffrir pour etre in the company of fibre people......

It was good to be back at SOAR. It was good to be back at Granlibakken. There were changes at both, a new management at the latter, and probably simply the passage of time with the former. Not a diminution of standards at Granlibakken, certainly, but somehow differences, and it has got even more expensive. I suspect that one way or another we shall not be there again.

In part because of the cost, I gather, there were quite a few old-timers missing, and that makes a difference, too. Not that I didn't enjoy meeting and talking with quite a few first-timers who hopefully will have become old friends by next time, so do not get me wrong there. Oh, I dunno, quite hard to put a finger on whatever, so I will quit with the rambling.

The DSM's workshop was apparently excellent, and he certainly has a bagful of samples to back that assertion up. Mine was....well, probably what I had thought it might be. I did get a certain amount out of it, and found the mentor friendly, attentive, responsive......I just didn't feel that the content was quite there yet. Definitely not a total bust, though.

My workshop

This is our array at the Wednesday night review, that I had not a thing to do with as I totally and genuinely forgot all about it when I left the final class session rather early. Oops.

The Gallery was excellent this year. It is always good and interesting to see, but whoever set it up this year.....kudos. Beautifully arranged. A few pieces:

(no subject)

Gallery item

(No attribution, sorry.)

Bag by Sara freakin' Lamb

Bag by Sara Lamb (inexplicably christened "freakin'" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) No, there is not a moth-chew at the bottom - that is some deficiency of my camera-work.

Speaking of the Yarn Harlot. This was my first opportunity to hear her speak. And I really wasn't sure what to expect or if it was going to be my thing. In the event, - she was hilarious. She has the gift of comic timing - her material is funny enough, but not especially hilarious, witty, outrageous or whatever. But it is all in the way she tells it. Genius. And by the way, in the blog entry linked to above, please delete "pine-henge". It is "conehenge", cone to rhyme with Stone, you know, geddit?


Her is another incarnation. I know who two of the participants in the game were, but no more (I merely lurked and carried the odd pine cone to the great detriment of my fingers. Sticky things!)

One more photo, and then I'll end this.

Make gloves not war

I saw quite a few of these bumper stickers (top rightish in the image) around at both SOAR and elsewhere, and felt they deserved a mention. It's not a concept one can argue with, really.

Tomorrow, I'm off to AH to notionally "teach". They have been warned that I may not be entirely on the planet - well, less than usual even. I went to see a friend about 40 minutes away today, lured by the offer of free yarn (of which more later, maybe) and found that the jet lag hadn't passed quite as much as I had hoped, felt quite knackerated when I got back. Though, maybe that was an excess of kitten-lust. This was the friend with the Snowshoes from some many posts ago, and she has kept one boy for herself and he is utterly....bad. Gorgeous. Wicked. Horrible.

You get the picture.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

First proper installment

I have spent quite a chunk of today uploading the first batch of photos from my camera, which takes me conveniently to just before SOAR started. (In the process, I appear to have lost one of my favourites, of fruit rotting in a birdbath, and I am quite serious....poot.) However, here beginneth.....

Having survived the trip over pretty well, we still had no intention of doing anything other than taking life very gently and being good little tourists. So Sunday found us being bussed down to Fishermans Wharf to get on a guided tour bus for three hours of looking at San Francisco.


I have to say, they did it very well. Reasonable commentary, and three maybe predictable but no less enjoyable stops. First at the Mission Dolores, which we had thought about visiting anyway, so were glad to see - calm, cool and peaceful.

Mission Dolores

We spent more time in the garden than the chapel, of course. Which was where I saw my rotting fruit, dammit.

Mission Dolores

Next stop, Golden Gate Park, where we just looked at the Japanese Tea Garden, leaving the Botanical until our next trip......

Japanese Tea Garden

Even cooler and calmer, with a wedding party laid on.

Final stop at the Golden Gate, of course.

Golden Gate fog

A few more images, in no particular order.

Colourful SF

Lots of colour in SF, great murals.

Coit Tower mural

One of the murals in the Coit Tower - much better than I had thought they might be. We didn't do this on the tour, I should say - we actually are capable of getting ourselves around!

I have been to SF before, although never stayed in the city. I love the skyline in all conditions, but especially magically through the fog.

Foggy city

Staying in the city was a brilliant idea and we loved our visit. The hotel we had booked had somewhat disconcertingly changed its name, but was really good and still had the veggie restaurant attached. We Ate there twice, memorably. It is actually vegan and totally puts the lie to veganism being dull and worthy - best food I have tasted in years. Wow.

We were three blocks down from Union Square, which meant walking to pick up buses and cable cars was easy. On the way, we passed the gallery that had Ronnie Woods art exhibit - I had heard about this, but sadly we never made the time to go in. But from what we could see - a lot - through the windows, he is one talented artist. We shopped a little, but not too much, and as I have said had memorable visits to the Opera and to have dinner with Sylvia, Alfred and Marj, a huge pleasure.

It would have been easy to have stayed on for longer, but we had friends to visit over the other side of the Bay - oh, forgot to say here, even if I did earlier, had a good but chilly boat ride out through the Golden Gate and around Alcatraz, but still have no desire to visit it.

So, on the way to Albany, drove down the coast and stopped - wherever this is, because my brain has gone numb. Great waves, anyway - one of which nearly knocked the DSM off his feet by catching him unawares!

Making waves

Visiting was lovely, but our friends were at work during the day, so we took ourselves off on a wine-buying trip to the Napa Valley. We drove the road less touristy - the Silverado Trail, I think it is called. Gorgeous. So was the wine, which lasted us for the rest of the trip.

Napa Valley vines

Friday, we set off for Grass Valley, but not before discovering our friends' downstairs bathroom, full of delicious mermaids, of which this is just one example.


More visiting with friends, then a super birding expedition - who would have thought that a mocking bird was not much different from a little brown job (and who would have thought that LBJs were international!) - which got us back to dinner very late and somewhat in trouble, but kind souls had left us plenty of food. Then next morning we set sail again for Tahoe.

Donner Lake

Via Donner Lake and a convivial lunch in Truckee.

That's as far as I have got. More later, for those with stamina!

Monday, November 13, 2006

One eye opening slowly......

Why is Day 2 always tougher than Day 1? Yesterday, I was tired but alive. Today, well, it is not so clear-cut.....

So, no energy to upload and sort all the photos, and no coherent brain-power to round up all the good bits and write up the happenings. All that is coming to the top is the marginally gruelling return journey, involving the saga of Fluffy Bunny and Nice Guy. Yup, you got it - three weeks of possibly the best holiday ever, and all she can do is rant.

Our flight from San Francisco was scheduled to leave early afternoon, with a three hour (yes, really) check in. We got there on the dot. To find that there had been a medical emergency on the inbound flight involving an unscheduled stop in Canada, and we were pushed back five hours. So, OK, these things happen and they had rearranged our connecting flight from Paris to Manchester plus giving us the grand sum of $20 to spend on food (we bought Margaritas....). The airport seating was not comfortable, but we were in a quiet corner and had knitting. These we could survive.

Got on board, no more hold-ups, made our take-off slot. We were still climbing, when the young woman in the seat in front of me pressed her button and fully reclined her seat right on to me and my knitting without so much as a by your leave. I was not 'appy.

Now, I do rather pride myself on being a fairly tolerant kind of a character, always attempting to see the other chap's point of view. But there are a handful of things that I am adamant that I will not budge on - non-selective education, the NHS (and the immorality of the drug companies), stuff like that. Plus that it is a heinous crime to recline your seat more than the merest smidge on an airplane. It traps the person behind in a coffin, and if you hate it being done to you, there is no escape by you doing it in your turn to the next in line - just ain't fair. This is my viewpoint, and from it I do not waver.

Come dinner time, and there was not room for me to fit my tray in, so I got the flight attendant to get Fluffy Bunny (so called because she had on a garment involving a heck of a lot of artificial fur around the neck and had a kind of "gee, I'm so cute" air about her)to put her seat up, which she did with one hell of a bad grace, slamming it back the instant the trays were taken away. The DSM and I went for a wander after that, and he offered to swap seats with me - and I can't remember the exact sequence of events, but it ended up with them swapping seats so I had Nice Guy in front of me, on the inside seats. This lasted for all of ten minutes, at which point he rears up and around and says "ma'am? Ma'am? (I love the way young Americans are so polite when they are totally dissing you!) Ma'am, I'm trying to be like nice to you, but I can't sit like this, I'm going to have to let my seat back.)

Nice to me??? Patronising little git, what about being considerate??

There then followed a considerable amount of discourse, in which, believe it or not, I kept my cool remarkably well. This involved them telling me that as the seats could recline, then they were free to do so, which is of course perfectly true and I acknowledged in my turn. I was pretty incensed when Nice Guy then asked me how I expected him to manage with so little room, it was inhumane, so I pointed out to him that he was expecting me to survive thus, to which his riposte was that I should exercise my choice as they were doing, and I in my turn retorted that a) it was against my personal moral code and b) the people behind us had the bulkhead just behind them and so could not escape me......

I decided not to ask them to compromise by only partially reclining.....they had the right to do as they pleased.

Believe it or not, I did manage to doze a little (Nice Guy managed considerably more, and snored loudly for at least an hour). Eventually, the DSM and I did exchange seats so that I was on the aisle and could get up whenever I liked. The most galling thing was that for at least two hours during the flight, Nice Guy was out of his seat and standing.....grrrr.

So, Ms Fluffy Bunny and Mr Nice Guy on the Air France flight from SFO to CDG on 10 November - a pox on you! Or the murrain, or something. Quite apart from anything else, you prevented me from getting on with sock two of the Regia pair, and that's a crime. (I finished the first at SOAR, did the first of the Jacob ones, and nearly finished the second - not too dusty.)

The onward flight from Manchester was all right except for the last twenty minutes of descent when we were flying through some lovely Manchester weather and got tossed around like cooking popcorn, practically everyone (not many) on board turning delicately green.

But, hey, we are home now, have unpacked, drooled over all the lovely fibre and spindles and I have made a start on the washing. In the next few days, I hope to organise the photos, and write up the real stuff. Then I can really bore you........

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Deathing breeply

Because the air is thin up here. Two steps up, and I'm not a pretty sight!

Having a great time, what else can I say? Granlibakken is just as good as ever, and although there are faces missing at SOAR, there are still plenty of old friends not to mention new ones in the making. Our classes are interesting, and I will cover those in much greater detail when we get home.

I wish I could post photos - Tahoe is gorgeous at this time of year. After Thursday, when we have hit the market, we are going to grockle around the lake (including hunting down a bead shop that has been recommended to me) for a couple of days. After that we head back to the coast and more birdwatching. We had our first taste of that, about which I will also wax more lyrical later, with Sara's sister Sue last Saturday. I have to say, going out with an experienced birder is quite the experience. My World List has about trebled, if not more so.

And finally - as the clock is ticking down on this 'ere computer - Freyalynn! Conehenge lives! I'll try to get a snap. By golly, pine resin is hard to get off the fingers!