Saturday, December 27, 2008


We had a lovely Christmas here at Ferretworld. It started early...but not as early as Adam intended (he had to be sent back to bed twice before 6am!).

Santa did come, despite some concerns that he might leave only coal... Here I am modeling my princess pirate ears as chosen by the boys.

We ate too much, but it was good (thank-you WholeFoods!). Finlay now knows the figgy pudding song so was able to sing in the pudding!

I hope your holiday was as happy and comfortable as ours.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Move over Martha

Merry Christmas* one and all!

Having got back from Bear we were finally getting ready for Christmas.

Unfortunately we got back to discover that someone had stolen our illuminated reindeer from the front lawn. I assume it was kids because the reindeer were in such poor repair, and the much more expensive extension cables and timers were left, but we were all upset, Finlay, in particular. We had been planning to replace them for next year - but by Christmas eve all the shops seem to have sold out of tasteful large illuminated animals. I don't think it was the taste police as suggested by my brother-in-law!
*substitute holiday of your choice

Monday, December 22, 2008

First ski trip of the season

A large storm and a few feet of snow in the Sierras sent us up to Bear Valley for a couple of days.

The weather was mixed - wind and snow on Sunday, cold and sunny on Monday. The boys both took lessons and consolidated what they had learned last year.
Adam got to try out his new boots and board. He had been earning points for the board and boots by doing his homework well, it has taken since the summer and he is rightfully proud of the achievement.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Eight is great!

Well, Don't know what happened there - but I seem to have taken a blogging break. The end of term and associated parties, followed by our ski trip, and then Christmas have taken priority of course. So, to try to catch up:
The end of term co-incided with Adam's birthday. He turned eight and celebrated with his class. They were having a pajama and breakfast party in the class so they combined that with thier traditional birthday celebrations.

After they sang Happy Birthday, Adam read to the class from his favourite book (Horrid Henry), wore the birthday crown, and could cut in line all day.
When he came home we ate the birthday cake (banana cake) and Adam chose his favourite dinner (burgers).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lovely if we ever get snow...

I treated myself to some hand-dyed cashmere to make a neck-warmer.

The yarn is Hand maiden 4-ply cashmere in the Rose Garden colour. I used the Beech Wood pattern from Ilga Leja that used to be available as a free pattern on her website. Its was a nice easy pattern which gives a great textured effect, but not so much activity as to overwhelm the handpainted yarn. I chose the colour to coordinate with my green winter jacket and am pleased with the effect.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Party on

Last weekend the boys had a joint birthday party. It was held at the JCC where they provided the entertainment as well as the catering. The party was a "Run away to the Circus" party and so the 19 boys learned to spin plates on sticks (fortunately plastic plates) :

and walk on the giant ball:

All the boys managed to walk on the ball for some distance and were all very pleased with themselves!

They finished with a giant bouncing walkway for flips and bounces.

We wrapped up festivites with cake and ice cream and and glitter painting and then sent home 19 overexcited but exhausted children with juggling sets!

If you are looking for a party location in the bay area I can recommend the JCC parties: we had only to provide drinks and goody bags and were able to walk away from all the mess!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Off the needles lately

I have been doing some knitting - but nothing very exciting. I finished these socks for Nigel in the car on the journey to and from Disneyland. I found him very unreceptive to the idea that he should knit on them while I was driving.

The yarn is Pagewood Farms superwash merino in Denim. I bought it in Murphys during our last skiing trip. I like the look of these socks, and the finished fabric is very fine, but I didnt like knitting it as it's rather splitty. I spent a lot of time picking up dropped strands.

The pattern is the usual, knitted over 72 stitches, with a very abbreviated cuff, as requested.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Parade from a different perspective

On Saturday we went to the LG Christmas Parade. We have been coming for many years to see the floats, marching bands, baton twirlers etc. Finlay's first outing to the parade was 6 years ago, when he was aged 4 days. This year, however, we achieved Adam's ambition to actually be in the parade.

The cubs are well represented with different packs having their own 'themes'. Pack 502 participate on home made and decorated go-karts.

The plan had been for Nigel and Adam to go with the scouts, and for me to take Finlay to watch the parade. However Finlay immediately negociated with the scout leader to join in with the cubs and so I saw none of the rest of the parade but the boys had a great time. They particularly loved their friends in the crowd calling out - and waving to other friends who were also in the parade.

They swapped about on the karts, but ended up with both our boys on the kart. The parade route was pretty long, and we were a long way back in the running order. By the time we got to Main St Nigel was pushing them both. We revived ourselves with brunch at the California Cafe. The boys were unanimous that this was the "best parade ever".

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Six journeys around the sun

Ferret, scientist, lego builder, little mouse...

Happy birthday Finlay!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving with Mickey

As we have on several previous Thanksgiving holidays we spent the day at Disneyland. It was quieter than we have ever seen before, at least until after the parade when things got busier.

We saw the usual characters...either Chip or Dale actually sat on Adam although I was not quick enough to get a photo of that!

The boys especially loved the pirate island and joined in with the pirate show.

and Nigel made it onto the stage for the magic show.

We also ran into this fellow...complete with live reindeer..

and of course it would not be Thanksgiving without the turkey. This fellow is the 'pardoned' turkey 'Pumpkin', fresh from the White House. (Apparently he flew first class from Washington to make it to LA the same day).
It was lovely to see the Christmas parade, which included Mickey and Minnie skating on a real ice rink atop a moving float! The parade was Finlay's favourite part.

We finished up our little vacation with a stop at the beach where the boys reenacted the jedi show.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Retrofit finished

I finished Nigel's Retrofit cardigan...

I made several modifications to the pattern, some more succcessful than others. I replaced the folded hem with a 2 x 2 rib which I think looks better. The collar is less successful, I winged it with a straight folded collar which in retrospect would have benefited from some decrease rows. But, overall its not too bad and meets the requirement (keeping warm in the office).

Knitted in Cascade 220 on my lovely lantern moon 5mm needles. The red is 220 Paints in colour 9926 and the sleeves and collar are 220 Heather in 9449, I used 4 skeins of the red and 3 of the blue. Navy separating zipper came from Hancocks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

No place like home for the holidays

Not that it feels much like a holiday season matter how much tinsel and baubles you display, 80 degree temperatures and sunshine do not feel like Christmas.

This weekend we took the boys up to the new ice rink in Union Square. I heard that they had put up the tree - but as you can see, they were still decorating it when we arrived.

The boys hit the rink to practise thier triple salcos...

Afterwards we headed into Chinatown for some Dim Sum.

The boys still struggle with chopsticks, and the restaurants only provide forks as an accomodation - no knives - but they tried everything and love the jasmine tea.

All I want for Christmas...

I think you all know the lyric.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What a tangled web...

The boys' school hosted a vistiting artist a few weeks ago. Travis Meinolf is a young and hip weaver who brought his portable rigid heddle loom into the school. His home page actually shows a photo that was taken at the school and you can see him at the start of the project: the children brought in items to be woven into a hanging. The finished result included all sorts of materials, I saw leaves, wire, a serial cable, a slinky, phone cord and so on.

He was packing up his loom as I was collecting Finlay from school and Finlay insisted that I go and look at the weaving that the school had created. Both my boys were pretty excited by the project and we talked to Travis for a little while. He told us about the instructions on his website for making a loom out of cardboard and gave us a card loom that he has developed for use in schools.

We used both his card loom, and made our own out of card. This rather blurry photo shows the weaving process. We tied one end of the warp to the coffee table, and the other to a pencil. I held the ends firm while the boys used an elastic bodkin as a shuttle.

We used a variety of yarns for our weaving, but the best results were using Noro yarn for both warp and weft threads. Here are the bookmarks that the boys made:

They were really pleased with thier bookmarks, especially as they achieved pretty good results in a short time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Castle Rock

I'm a little late in updating, but the final day out of our long weekend was to Castle Rock State Park. Adam and Nigel had visited previously on their backpacking trip, but it was the first time I had been there. It was an interesting mix of shady and wooded areas, with large boulders and trees covered in moss, and in the sunshine steep hills covered with manzanita.

We walked for about 1 hour 45 minutes, we got as far as the Goat Rock formation before turning back. We were rewarded by some great views across the coastal range hills. The trails were quite steep and required some scrambling, of course this added to the appeal for the boys.

There was only a little water in the Castle Rock falls (below) but we stopped for a while to listen to the water. Several groups of climbers arrived while we waited there to discuss a decent. On their last visit Adam was thrilled to watch climbers ascend this cliff.

We had a nice walk, and picnic, and made plans to come back to this park again, although I have not yet been convinced to hike to the campground there! It's so close to home, and a nice alternative to the redwood forests. The boys especially loved climbing on the big rocks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A bike ride

After heavy rain Saturday night, Sunday looked to be a bright day, so we thought we would do a bike ride locally. We cycled into Campbell where there is a farmer's market on Sundays. (Somewhat like our own Farmer's market really) and where we ran into Lynne and Nathan.

It was a lovely clear day, not too hot and we stopped and had brunch before we come home. Finlay was particularly pleased to make it all the way there and back. It's a 7 mile round-trip from our house and the longest ride he has done on his own bike.

This is Adam - an action shot from my own bike (at considerable risk to life and limb!).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Out and About in Alameda

The boys have a few days off school making this a long weekend. We thought we would re-visit the USS Hornet. We last went there on my Father's 60th birthday (boy - does he know how to celebrate!!).

Anyway, it was a good place to visit with the boys. They were especially interested in the role the Hornet played in the Apollo missions.

Here they are walking in the footprints of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins. We managed a tour of the flight deck, the hangar deck and some of the lower deck. There is a lot more restored since we last visited, but the best part is still the docents, who are largely veterans, many having served on the Hornet itself. They have the stories that really make a visit come to life.

After the Hornet we headed off the Naval base and towards Washington Park. We got on our bikes and headed off along Shoreline drive. There is a bike trail all along the beach.

There was a slight drizzle during the ride - but in this photo you can see Nigel and the boys on the bike trail, and in the distance, wreathed in mist, San Francisco.

We had not really seen anything of Alameda previously, apart from the Hornet, and it looked really nice. It was great to be able to ride alongside the beach and the whole area had a real vacation feel to it, rather like Bournemouth we thought!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

On the needles: Retrofit

I've a new project on the needles. This is for Nigel who requested a jacket similar to my Ribby Cardi . Since it got cold here I've had quite a lot of wear from it. The pattern is Retrofit from

Im going to knit the body in this red: Cascade 220 paints in colour 9926, and the sleeves and collar in Cascade 220 in grey (8400) which is left-over from my Loppem cardigan. This colour is apparently very hard to photograph as it's really not pink or purple at all - but a deep red.

I've already modified the pattern and am knitting a 2 x 2 rib in the body colour rather than a contrast folded hem. I've knitted more since I took this photo and am at the underarm decreases already. Hopefuly it will be a quick knit and he can have it before ski season, as requested.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Lying under the lizard

It's finished! Off the needles: Lizard Ridge.

I decided to stick at 24 squares and keep the blanket for use as a throw - or maybe in Adam's room when it gets cold. I knitted an i-cord edge in Mission Falls Dk weight wool in a dark olive green. The boys were sitting under half of the blanket watching Star Wars on Saturday while I finished the edge.

I really enjoyed knitting this - and it was much quicker than I expected. The squares mostly could be finished in a couple of hours of knitting. It took me 3 evenings to seam it and about the same to knit the i-cord edge. I decided to sew the squares alternating the direction of the pattern, ie sewed each 'strip' with the same direction, but alternated the direction of the pattern when sewing the strips together. This gave a more patchwork look rather than the wavy pattern continuing across the blanket.

I managed to get most of the Kureyon with some discount or other. I used 22 balls, two of the squares were patched together from left-overs. I had plenty of wool left over and could have made up more squares - but my colour combinations just were not as nice as the Noro ones so I decided it was worth buying the additional balls...Im sure I''ll find a use for Kureyon scraps sooner or later.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Trick or Treat

Well, these pictures are from Halloween - but the title might well refer to the results of today's election.

The boys wore the skeleton costumes they made last year. This year they are posing in our garden...we got some new Halloween decorations because the boys complained that all our decorations were smiling and not scary.

Here they are with their swag...before the usual candy-for-lego exchange!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Off the needles: Loppem

I finished Loppem this week and wore it today to the school Halloween party. (Hence the too-small orange top).

On the whole I am pretty pleased with it. The yoke/front does not seem to sit quite right in these pictures, but I think it's mostly to do with how I'm standing. I'm also sure it would look better with a different top underneath, maybe a roll-neck. However, the weight is perfect for a Californian winter...where it never really gets cold enough for 'heavy duty' knitwear.

I obtained a 2nd edition of the Norah Gaughan Vol 3 book, without the errors that apparently plague the 1st edition. I found the pattern easy enough and quick to knit. I used Cascade 220 from my stash, just over 3 skeins I think. The buttons are pewter globe buttons from Green Planet Yarns in Cambell. I didn't make any modifications to the pattern, although I did knit it 4" longer than specified from hem to sleeves. I have 6.5 repeats of the cable pattern. If I were knitting this again I might also make the purl rows on the hem into a larger hem of garter stitch. The back of the top rolled like mad and I had to steam the living daylights out of it to get it to lay flat. The sleeves didnt seem to have the same problem.