Friday, February 29, 2008


There is a definite feeling of spring in the air. Walking back from town today Finlay declared "it's snowing" as white blossoms fell on us.

The apricot tree that we planted outside the front door is blooming:

Our neighbour's mimosa is in its annual yellow glory:

and all around the neighbourhood the trees are flowering.

The Santa Clara Valley used to be known as "The Valley of Heart's Delight" apparently because of its extensive orchards. It was a center for fruit, particularly prune, production. The next town to us celebrates this with an annual Prune Festival - although there are sadly not too many prunes around these days.

In the 11 years since I have moved to the area, I notice that there are fewer orchards, these being replaced by housing estates. At one time Blossom Hill Road, used to be orchards along it's entire length from LG to San Jose, but I don't think there is a single working orchard any more. I guess this is the price of progress, but I will be very sad when the very few remaining orchards around here go.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Step out in style

While we were driving back from Bear I finished Nigel's latest socks.

He requested short socks (and I'm always happy to oblige with a request like that!). These are knitted in Austerman Step in the Cobblestone colour. I really like this yarn both for it's texture while knitting (it's infused with Aloe Vera) and for it's washing and wearing characteristics. I'm not thrilled about the colour/patterns but they are great for Nigel's socks.

The eagle eyed among you will notice that they don't match. While winding off some yarn to start the second sock at roughly the same place in the colour run, I encountered a knot. I didnt think too much about it, but as I knitted the cuff it was clear that after the knot the yarn had been rejoined in reverse order. After consultation with Nigel I continued knitting the sock anyway (as you can see).

I was pretty annoyed however, I'm not really bothered about knitting matching socks, and don't usually try to match them, but I think this sort of mistake is pretty outrageous in a high-end yarn. I mind less when I'm paying $3 for the yarn than when I shelled out $20!

At Stitches I noticed that the manufacturer had a stand and went to talk to them. I explained that I had not tried to return the ball to the yarn store (well I had already knitted one and a half socks out of it) but I wanted to pass the feedback on. The person on the stand was interested to hear (or at least feigned interest) and offered to send me a replacement ball anyway. She said that she had not heard of that happening before.

She also explained that Austermann are moving away from yarns with long colour repeats (like this colour) because they get so many complaints from people who want to knit matching socks, and there is not enough yarn for 2 long or big socks and matching. I guess this is the knitting equivalent of "additional yardage required for plaids".

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Stitches West

I went to Stitches West on Saturday. I didn't attend any classes but did manage a little shopping!

The market was not actually as busy as I expected, I arrived about 10:30 before the 'Yarn Train' arrived from Sacramento bearing an additional 500 knitters (!). Previously I have been on the Friday so I expected it to be mobbed. It was odd going on my own (instead of with Mammie and Finlay) but I did meet a lot of friends there...well, I guess every knitter in the bay area was in the Santa Clara Convention Center sometime this weekend.

I got to meet the founders of Ravelry who were as sweet and friendly as everyone says.

I planned to buy some sock yarn...and succeeded in that:

ShiBui - I apparently cannot resist this shade of green!

Tess's designer yarns below - great colours and very reasonably priced.

Creatively dyed - I had been wanting to try Sea Wool and these colours were very pretty.

I bought a kit for Fleece Artist Lady of the Lake that I had eyed up online, but had not wanted to commit to chosing a hand-dyed colour without seeing it in person. Again with the bright pea green!

I came home tired and spent-up!

Saturday, February 23, 2008


We had a quick ski trip to Bear Valley as it was winter break at school. It turned into a very quick trip due to weather and other travel considerations.

We stayed at Murphys and braved the blizzard to the ski area. We got a couple of hours skiing in, and it was nice to see how well the boys had retained what they learnt at Christmas.

Once we were all cold and wet we decided that enough was enough and that we would come back for some spring skiing.

How busy were the slopes?

The drive back out of the snow was slow, but beautiful. Its amazing how a layer of fresh snow makes the scenery so majestic and seem so quiet.

Monday, February 18, 2008

100 Books

We celebrated a major milestone this weekend: Adam recorded his 100th book in his reading log. That is 100 books he has read by himself since school started last August. This is a huge achievement by him and we are delighted that not only his he doing his reading, but enjoying it too!

He greeted me with the news as I came through the door and followed up with a request for a celebration. We agreed that a suitable celebration should be cake made to Adam's specifications...

Chocolate cake...

...with chocolate cream-cheese frosting.

It was enjoyed by all.

Well Done Adam!

Friday, February 15, 2008

That's neat, that's neat...

...that's neat, that's neat I really love your tiger feet*

I finished Finlay's tiger socks. The rest of the ball of Opal Rainforest in the tiger colour. My usual sock recipe noting that my 5-year old's feet are 7" long.

* For the uninitiated this is a line from the 1974 hit "Tiger Feet" by the band Mud. At risk of appearing completely ancient I clearly remember doing The Dance at the Pony Club disco. (I was never a Pony Club member, or even liked horses, but in my rural area the Pony Club disco passed for nightlife!).

Monday, February 11, 2008

...and so it begins

We experienced a 'first' at our house this weekend: one of Adam's friends called him for a chat!

My favourite part? Hearing Adam say "I cant tell you right now because my mom is nearby"....!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tahoe socks

My plane knitting for New York was these socks which were finished on Friday and worn all day Saturday. My model refused a more artistic shot!

Lornas Laces Shepards Sock in the Tahoe colour. Knitted on US1 needles to my standard sock pattern in a k3 p1 rib.

The recipient was pleased especially as the Mountain Colour socks have felted beyond all recovery. I am rather disappointed with the Bearfoot yarn as it is supposedly superwash and I always line dry my hand-knit socks so I expected it to actually wash well. I'm more optomistic about the Lornas Laces - its 75% wool 25% nylon and the boys' camo socks have washed and worn well.

I have lots of hand knit socks, and don't actually wear each pair often - so I'm getting a lot of experience with heavy wear and a lot of washing from Nigel and the boys socks now as they all prefer the hand knit socks over store bought.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ferretworld in the Big Apple - the knitting content!

I mentioned that it was cold in New York and how pleased we were with handknits - here is my evidence:

Mammie and Gill both wearing their scarves. Mammie's is the Monterey bay scarf from IK. Knitted in a merino/tencel mix from Ellen's Half Pint Farm. I bought the yarn at Stitches last year with my mother so it seemed suitable. Gill is of course wearing another Noro striped scarf. She is also modeling her dragon scale mitts.

As part of our tour through the garment district we visited Habu Textiles. I had printed off a map with the address and we set of in search of the showroom. We were surprised to discover that rather than a street-level showroom, Habu occupies an 8th floor office and was only identifiable after we had walked past serveral times and studied the tennants board.

However, once we entered I was in my element:

I was very restrained - largely limited by the prospect of carrying yarn around all day - but I did buy a few bits and pieces and Gill chose some yarn for a scarf for herself.

We also swung by Purl Soho - but I was disappointed to see that the shop was just tiny. It was certainly stuffed full of beautiful colours and yarn - but also with other people so not conducive to prowling around. I have to say I think Mammie and Gill were relieved - Habu was enough wool for one day!

I also have to confess that my beautiful knitted beret did not withstand rain very well... the weight of the beret when wet stretched it out until it looked like I was wearing some giant comedy hat! Still - it gave G & M something to laugh about!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ferretworld in the Big Apple

I just returned from a Fab weekend in New York with my mother and sister. Gill had never been to the city before (maybe) so we mixed some of the classic tourist haunts with some hanging out.

A picture is worth a thousand words so...

We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in South Times Square, the hotel worked out perfectly for us and we were delighted with our view...

Being near Times Square was convenient for transport and nice and lively at night.

We had a real mix of weather - snow, rain, and sunshine. However it was pretty cold (for a Californian) and we needed our scarves, hats, gloves etc. Our first day we visited both the Museum of Modern Art and the excellent Tenement Museum. The restored tenements were shocking really - that living conditions were so bad in such recent history - the web site also shows a virtual tour of one of the tenements.

We spent the next day walking - south through the fashion district, the East Village, Greenwich Village, and Soho.

We pretended to be characters from Sex and the City - although my mother was not too thrilled at having to be Samantha (well Gill is Carrie and I of course had to be Miranda!).

We wrapped up our long day walking with the Empire State Building. I have been to the observation deck every time I've visited New York and dont think you could get tired of the views.

We also managed to get a peek inside some of the wonderful art deco buildings - the Empire State of course:

and the inside of the Chrysler Building:

On one of the lovely sunny days we took the Staten Island Ferry for the round trip and visited Ground Zero on our return. It was still very strange to see the skyline without the two towers.

The English contingent wanted to take advantage of the pound:dollar exchange rate and do some shopping - so I obligingly went along with that plan...

and although there was not nearly enough of it for my liking...there were cocktails. This photograph taken at the Rainbow Room...

We did have plans to get dressed up to go out - but were overwhelmed with the desire for drinks after all that shopping!

Finally - on Sunday evening we happened to be walking through Times Square at 10pm...

for non-Americans the New York Giants (a signifigant underdog) won the Superbowl! I understand that 3 million people attended the Ticker Tape parade in their honour on Tuesday morning. I was pretty surprised that they still hold ticker tape parades at all - this one in Canyon of the Heroes near Wall St.