Sunday, September 28, 2008


I am starting to get more comfortable with the new computer and I think I will survive. Whew. There are some fun new features like the photo gallery which is taking some time to get used to, but I like it. Having the clock and calendar on the desktop is great, but the stock quotes is so depressing that I may remove it. Trying to hold tight in that area and not sell is a challenge, but since I will be working till I am 80, I guess I can hold out for recovery.

I finished Chun-soon's Odessa hat. Actually, I finished it twice........ The first time it was not nearly long enough, so I frogged back the decrease section at the top, added more length and finished it again. I think she will be happy. I am glad it is over, since I knit the equivalent of 2 hats, with all the errors and frogging. The free pattern is available through Ravelry, but was originally published by the now defunct Magknits. This is the link to the designers website: Grumperina.

Since it is the end of the month and I want to enter the September challenge in the Spindler's Group of Ravelry, I have been frantically working on my Merino fiber. The challenge allows any amount of finished yarn, so I am going to stop today, wash it and then have it ready by Tuesday. I had less than 4 oz to start with, and I don't have much fiber left, but I will end up with a large skein and a mini-skein once I finish it all.
Yesterday, I went to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds for Alpaca on the Rocks, an all alpaca show for breeders and crafts people. It was such a last minute decision to go, that I didn't have my camera with me...RATS! Those alpacas were so photogenic. I haven't been working on my February Lady Sweater lately, because of my fear of running out of yarn, so I took my swatch with me to try to match the color and weight at this show. SUCCESS!!!!

I walked all the aisles with my swatch, and even enlisted unsuspecting fair goers to help me determine the best match. Luckily, the original yarn was natural and not dyed, so I only had to search through the white samples. Even then, there was quite a bit of variation in the samples.

I had not yet tried to spin alpaca fiber and this was the perfect opportunity to pick up some local fiber that was very inexpensive.

The first one is dyed by Yvonne Reimer of Carrot 'N Diamond Alpacas of Colorado Springs. It is only a couple of ounces and will be a nice accent to add to a project. Yvonne doesn't knit or spin (they send the fiber out for that) but she dyes beautiful variegations of yarn and fibers. Her specialty, however, is wet felting of the fiber and her creations of bowls, slippers, hats and especially the wine bottle holders were terrific. Another interesting item was her felted soap. The bar of soap is totally enclosed in felted alpaca and as it is used it continues to felt growing smaller and smaller until you are only left with a small felted ball of alpaca.

This one is 4 ounces of natural alpaca from two different animals from Cheryl Keydel at Ancient Treasures Alpaca Ranch. She has a ranch with about 20 alpacas in Arvada and has lots more of this fiber and if you would like some, contact her.. But save some for me, in case I need more. She told me that the two contributors of their fleece for my fiber are Frostie and Tia Alyst....awwwww.
I so enjoyed talking to the breeders and fiber people. I was able to watch several wheel spinners and talk at length about the craft that I am growing addicted to. This is such a small show that there were no crowds and I got my fill of petting both the animals and the fiber. I wish I could convey the softness through these photographs, but you will have to take my word for it. I will leave the animals to the breeders and enjoy the fiber in my home.

To my Jewish Friends and Family: L'Shana Tovah. A Sweet Year, A Healthy New Year to you all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bogged down in Computer Hell

So here is the story: Last week my IPOD would not sync with my computer. I tried a number of USB hubs and all the diagnostics that I knew. I phoned Apple and spent a couple of hours talking to "Roger" in Bangalore India. We tried everything including uninstalling and installing all the software. The interesting thing is that Itunes worked fine on the computer and the Ipod worked perfectly. The problem was I couldn't get them to talk to each other.

First thing the next morning, the DHL delivery service dropped off a return box for me to send in my ipod to Apple for diagnostics, since it is still under warranty. I read all the fine print which stated that I would be charged a diagnostic fee if there was not anything actually wrong with my unit. Before I sent it in, I wanted to test it on another computer, so I went to the local Apple store with my connection cord and tried it there. Of course, it worked like a charm and talked to THEIR computer.

The next step was to try diagnostics on my computer. My first step was to try my camera on my computer using the cord, since I usually used just the media card directly. It did not work at all this way, so I reasoned out that it was the computer after all and not the Ipod. I phoned the help line for my computer company, but since I was no longer under warranty (it is 3 years old) it would cost me $50 to just talk to a human being. I did discover that the online help for the Help was free, so I started there. This is a very slow process, since I bet each operator (probably also in Bangalore) is chatting online with about a dozen people at one time. It is much like watching my kids on IM with many windows opened. One of the steps she asked me to do was to uninstall the USB ports and then we would reinstall them. When I did this, my modem disconnected since it was hooked up with a USB port that obviously was still working (as was my printer). NOW, none of them worked!!!!! ARGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! I called the computer company again but they still wouldn't talk to me (for free), even though what the tech told me to do made the situation even worse.

Over the next day and a half, it was hours and hours trying lots of options, none of which worked. I hooked up the internet through the ethernet cord and thank goodness, I was able to get back online. So now I had a computer with no printer, no way to hook up anything through the USB ports, so no Ipod interface. I tried the online chat again and tried to download new drivers and to reset the ports. Nothing worked.

I visited a few computer stores and talked to the salespeople and thought it might be time to purchase a new machine, since none of the attempts at solving this problem were working. I ended up buying a new computer at costco which was a nice, but basic machine and not too expensive. get all the photos and documents off the old computer, I couldn't use a flash drive, since no USB, so I had to copy them to disks. That was another few hours of stress since I was not sure I knew what I was doing, but it seemed to be going ok.

The next morning, when Gary started up the old computer, he got the message: Your hard drive is at risk of imminent failure. That is one scary message to receive at any time but especially now. I went through all the folders again and copied what I could to disk and then unplugged it and set up the new computer. This is my first experience with Vista, which I heard is a bit quirky, and my patience for quirky at this point was minimal. Mostly, everything was plug and play, so it did work right away and setting up the basics was pretty easy.

The new machine does not have a serial port and my old PDA synchs through one, so I had to run out and get a connector to allow it to function through a USB port. Fortunately, this was the easiest transfer of all.

Being the creatures of habit that we are, we still use AOL as our primary e-mail accounts, even though we have hi speed internet access. The old installation disk did not work and it took a while for me to figure out that I would have to download it from their site. No problem, thank goodness.

I then downloaded MSN (don't ask) and Itunes. Now, I had subscribed to lots of podcasts, and had loaded over 700 songs into my Itunes library and onto my Nano. Guess what, they are locked into the old computer's library and can't be transferred to the new one easily....since no USB. I had no other option, but to start fresh into the new computer. First the podcasts, then a stack of cd's about 15 inches high, loaded by one.

After doing that, I had the bright idea to try to set up the old computer again and try to copy the individual songs that Alison gave me onto a disk and then adding to the new computer. I set it up, turned it on, and got the same "imminent failure" message again. This time I could not get past it to the windows screen and into my data/music files. Somehow we got to the area of the system recovery and tried that, but what that did was wipe my hard drive clean of ALL my files and programs that had been loaded onto the computer. It thought it was a brand new computer and all the intro screens showed up on the desk top. Everything was Double ARGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

It is now 6 pm on Wed afternoon, and I have mourned my old computer, set up my new one, saved most of my photos (YAY!), installed and refilled my Itunes library, and have posted this blog entry on the new machine. I need a drink.....or three!

This is how I passed much of the time while waiting for loads, downloads, and rebooting. I hope I don't have to do this again for another 10 years.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Friends and Projects

For the last week we have been lucky to have Amanda home for the weekend, as well as a couple of her friends, newly returned from their road trip and Alaska adventure. Chun-soon Li is Amanda's friend from NYC and is quite the character. She is fun, sassy, and always makes a personal statement with her presence.
Kate is quieter, intense, warm and a country girl at heart. Amanda met Kate in NYC when she was dating her cousin, but she has resettled in Casper WY temporarily. The two friends stayed for several days longer than Amanda, and they added a cheerful element to our otherwise quiet home. Buried in her computer most of the time, Chun-Soon gave me some incentive to improve my paltry skills and the confidence to know that it is possible. I should have taken a photo of Chun-Soon at the computer, but here is Kate.
Earlier this year I made another Odessa Hat by Grumperina for Amanda, who informed me that Chun-soon was always borrowing her hat. I started one for her while she was here and one would think that on the fourth go round of making the same pattern, I wouldn't have any trouble at all. Of course, I was off a stitch in the first beaded row and had to tink back a couple of rows, fudge a stitch, then continue. Now that the pattern is set, it is going much more smoothly. I am using the same yarn and needle sizes as my last hat.

It should be done soon and I will either mail it or take it to NY when I go in October.

I have been working on Monkey Socks by Cookie A. I have been using one of my "Europe" sock yarns- Regia. I am surprised how fast they are knitting up and it has been a most enjoyable project. I converted the pattern to Magic Loop, so it is not exact, but this pattern was easy to adapt as the pattern repeat is 16 for a 64 stitch total count.
I am on the gusset section of the second sock and should finish this pair pretty soon. I think this pair is going to CT for my friend Marion.
I have slowed down on the February Lady sweater, since I am so afraid of running out of yarn. I think I will definitely e-mail the ranch to see when they might have some more, and if not till next year, I may take the swatch of the yarn to Rhinebeck to see how I can possibly match it up.

I finished the second skein of the Louet Northern Lights, Thunderstorm, and it is not the same gauge as the first skein. This time I got about 200 yards and just over 56 grams. I am approaching sock weight, but I don't think the yarn is dense enough to wear well. Maybe the third skein will be the charm and I will have enough of one gauge for a pair of socks, shawl, or fingerless mitts. Gift giving season is approaching and my mind is churning with ideas.
I began spinning a new project. Last week, Stacy and I went to Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder to survey their spinning supplies, and I bought some merino roving in a soft multi-color grey. I hadn't yet tried merino, but it was so soft and irristable. I spun a small batch and did ok with it.

Then I decided to try Tammy Rizzo's Navajo Plying on the Fly. On this blog site there are written directions as well as a video demonstrating the technique. It seems quite fiddly at first, but then I got the hang of it and did quite well. What I ended up with is a three ply yarn on the spindle. I haven't yet measured it, but it seems at least worsted weight or maybe a little bulkier. My intention is to enter this into the Ravelry spindler challenge, either for the September group which has a theme of "Rock" or maybe if I get enough yardage (I need at least 200) then into the quarterly challenge whose theme is calming and variegated solid colors.
It will make a soft, lovely hat, maybe for Kate. If only Alison liked would be for her.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

End of an Era

When I turned 50 in the year 2000 and my baby began to drive, instead of buying her a car, I bought a dream car for myself and gave her the Mom-mobile, a Toyota Camry which she is still driving to this day.

Today we sold the Mazda Miata and I am very sad. It was hard to watch her drive away with someone else in the driver's seat. I want to cry and all I could do was take a walk around the neighborhood, and have a huge glass of wine when I got home. Let's have a moment of silence in her memory.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Interesting Statistics

Many of you may not have noticed, but several months ago I added a "counter" to my blog which counts the number of visits. It is off to the right and just tallies "hits." One interesting thing I have learned from looking at it regularly, is that several search terms have come up more often than others.

1. "Booby Socks". I purchased this kit in January, started it right away, and then put it away for awhile after the "ladders" at the needles got too overwhelming. I had turned the heel and started on the foot, but realized that the laddering would make me crazy and I wouldn't wear the socks as is, and certainly couldn't give them away as a gift in that condition. I frogged back about 4 inches, and need to pick up again, especially since so many people are looking at my blog for the progress. To be continued......

2. "Feather and Fan" lace shawl. This one I did finish in time to take with me on my Europe vacation in May, but I realize now that I never took a final photograph of it. I owe it to my readers and I will soon. I will be taking it with me to my 40th High School Reunion in October, but I will try to post a photo sooner than that.

3. "Souvenirs from Paris." This title to one of my blog entries was somewhat facetious as what I was referring to was the severe bronchitis both Mom and I had after our return. Paris was the last stop and Mom started feeling badly there. I wonder what visitors to my blog thought when they pulled up that page. Were they looking for miniature Eiffel Towers?

I have now had over 1050 hits since I installed it and most of them have come from my active participation on the Ravelry Forums. If you are a knitter and have not yet discovered Ravelry, sign up and get involved. Warning: It WILL cut into your knitting time and TV time and possibly your work time. It has been an invaluable source of information and help both in figuring out patterns, spinning and getting excited about events, yarns, and the world of fiber.

And lastly, I am utterly amazed with the international readership the blog has attracted. In many cases, I think it may be ex-pat Americans, but there have been hits from Europe, Asia, all over the US, Canada, and the Middle East. Australia, New Zealand, and Scandanavia have been represented. WOW, it is one big knitting world. And I am glad to be part of it all!