Thursday, March 30, 2006


A friend sent me a link to a web cam near where she lives, showing snow on a volcano... cool.  I started looking for web cams showing my neighborhood.  Not much to chose from, and not nearly as exciting as a volcano view, but here are a couple of things I found.

What it looks like on Cal State University at Chico campus right now

Satellite view of Northern California

On the satallite view, Butte county is shaped like this:

Butte County Map

Have a nice day.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lace Sampler Patterns 3 and 4

Sampler Here is a picture of the Sampler Patterns 3, bottom left, and 4, top left (click on picture to see larger image).

Pattern 3 is another example of lace that is biased.  Lewis says, "This kind of bias, where the side selvedges lean and the top and bottom edges are straight, will occur in all patterns where the decreases are adjacent to their eyelets and are consistently to one side or the other... You can use these patterns just as they are for fabrics with biased selvedges or for circular knitting.  In the latter case, the jog in the knitting where one round ends and the next begins will spiral up the tube.  If you were to insert vertical panels of another pattern within the bias pattern, you would make very dramatic spiral patterning."

Pattern 3 looks wider than pattern 4 above it, because pattern 3 was knit on 58 stitches and pattern 4 was knit on 51 stitches (so the pattern repeats would come out right).

Pattern 4 is a "Diamond ground pattern." Ground patterns can be used as accents, fillers and allover repeats.  This little diamond does not have a center eyelet; it is a solid diamond surrounded by eyelets.

Notes on the experience of knitting these two patterns:

  • I didn't learn any new stitches.

  • Pattern 3 took more concentration than did pattern 4.

  • By the time Pattern 4 was done I was beginning to be able to read the eyelets.  Anytime you can read your knitting there is less stress involved in working a pattern.

By the way... there are copies of Susanna E. Lewis' "Knitting Lace: A Workshop with Patterns and Projects" for sale on  Today used copies are selling at $120 (US) and up.  It's pricey, but a very good book if you have some spare cash to spend.

Now I'm off to sleep.  I got up at 4AM today for a swim.  Finally!  My shoulder surgery was in July and here it is March of the following year and I feel okay.  I think I'll continue the pattern of yoga one day and swimming the next.  It's feeling good.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2006

VK TOC The Spring/Summer, 2006, issue of Vogue Knitting arrived yesterday.  I like it.  The picture to the left is the cover, and it links to the current table of contents (links not guaranteed to work when next issue is published).

Apparently lace is "in", and there are several lace patterns in this issue.  The one that struck my fancy is from the Spring Chickens Roman Holiday Section.  I haven't read the pattern, but I'm thinking this might be a suitable pattern for somebody with slumpy shoulders, a wide waist and big belly - because the "V" shape of the colors would tend to play down my shape.  Anybody think otherwise?  I'm wondering if the ribbing at the waist would be flattering?  At any rate, this is the pattern I liked the best. 

Most of the other patterns are better for somebody about 40 years younger than I, and skinny.

Meg Swansen has a short article on lace in this issue.  It's worth a read.  Everything she said agrees with Susanna E. Lewis's book, Knitting Lace, the book I'm working my way through now.  She drops a hint that there is a new Schoolhouse Press book in the works: Reversible Knitting: Inside/Outside, You Decide by Anne Claxon, which will feature more than 200 reversible stitch patterns.

I wonder if the people are fed "I wants" from the marketing industry in their sleep?  Or, maybe we are all part of a group consciousness?  Lately people on my knitting list have been talking about wanting to knit lace.  I am rekindling my interest in lace.  Now this issue of Vogue Knitting comes out.  The timing is spooky.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Walk in the Park

Bidwell Park Spring really has sprung.  March has had quite a bit of rain, so the water in Bidwell Park's Chico Creek is high.  That's Jan standing on the bridge and enjoying the sunshine.  There are a couple more photos of Bidwell's One Mile on Flickr.

We went for a walk to soak up some sun.  I'm starting to feel like a Pacific Northwest resident - run out and enjoy the sun while you can.  The weather has been rainy for weeks!

Around the yard plants are popping out their Spring greenery:  Roses, Chinese Hackberry, Maple, Dogwood, Asparagus, Aqualegia, Tulips, Hibiscus, Hydrangea, Wisteria, Forget Me Nots, Verbena, ... weeds.

By this time next week (hope, hope) the Wisteria should be displaying its beautiful lavender flowers.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Inside Man

Click for movie review This rainy afternoon we went to see The Inside Man (Very Good).  It's a Spike Lee movie, and his love of New York City shines, especially in the street scenes.  The NY Times says, " might find yourself trying to unknot the increasingly tangled plot.
Don't bother. Filled with playful noise and nonsense, clever feints and
digressions, "Inside Man" has a story to tell, but its most sustained
pleasures come from its performances, especially the three leads.
"  The movie poster image to the left is linked to the NY Times review.

The three leads are Denzel Washington (police detective), Clive Owen (bank robber), and Jodie Foster (a problem fixer for the rich).  The other characters are all well done, and a more complete cast list is at the movie review site.

I won't spoil it by telling the plot.  Just go see it.

The music by Terence Blanchard was excellent.  During one or two scenes, however, I found myself distracted by the music.  I might consider buying the sound track as it might be better on it's own than with the movie. I downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes.  It stands alone, but sounds very different without the movie going at the same time.  I almost wonder if the music on the soundtrack CD is the same music played through out the movie.  Now I want to go back and see the movie again, just so I can listen to the music!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lace Sampler Pattern 2

Here we go with pattern 2.  This one is has a bunch of increases on the first row of the pattern, and double decreases on every row.  The effect is a fan which forms a curve at the bottom.

When you have a different number of stitches in pattern rows, it means there are black squares in the chart which are null squares... no stitch to work here, just move on, ignore them, skip them.  The only reason for having those black non-stitch squares in the chart is so you can line up the worked stitches in the chart and have some idea of what the finished pattern will look like.

How many do I cast on for this pattern which includes YOs and decreases in the first row?  Well, you don't cast on a stitch for the YOs in the first row, because those are increases worked in the first row.  But, you cast on two stitches for each single decrease and three stitches for each double decrease (12 sts in this example).  Here's the chart (click for larger image):


This is a typical "Old Shale" or "Feather and Fan" pattern.  The double decreases between each fan are left leaning when worked on the right side and right leaning when worked form the wrong side. 

Here is what my finished pattern 2 looks like (click for larger image):

Pattern 2 finished

There are two repeats in my version.  The first one, on the bottom, has the double decreases between fans done as charted.  The second repeat, on the top, has the double decreases worked as centered double decreases.  Note that on the top there is a definate line between the fans, and on the bottom the fans tend to merge into each other.  I think I like the bottom version better.  Which do you like?

The pattern also distorts the straight line of reverse stockinette before each fan.  Notice that the line of reverse stockinette on top is not distorted.

  1. Be careful not to split the yarn.  Elizabeth Zimmerman once said that's the only mistake you can make in knitting, because it weakens the fabric.  All else is a design feature :-)

  2. I worked 13 rows of this chart over several hours and my hands and shoulders were not happy.  Here's a hint:  stop knitting!  I took some time to do a little yoga (first time in over a year) and prove to myself that I have lost all mobility and my stomach prevents me from touching my toes in a sitting position!  Diet?  Common Sense?  Not so you'd notice.


Added "Knitting: Lace Sampler category"

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Mrs. Henderson Presents

Movie ReviewAfter a walk in the park and weed pulling in the yard, I was tired enough to go to a movie on the first nice day we've had in ages.  We went to see Mrs. Henderson Presents (Very Good).

The NY Times (linked to movie poster) doesn't give it the red check mark of a critic's choice, but I liked it anyway.  Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins were absolutely wonderful.

The story is based on true events.  Mrs. Henderson (Judi Dench) is an upper class British widow who decides to buy a theater and put on a review, as a hobby in her new widowhood.  Bob Hoskins is the theater manager she hires to run the show.  They are fond of each other in a prickly way.

There is comedy, tragedy, fun nudity, and WWII.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Music Stand Holds Knitting Chart

There are a little over 90 patterns in the Lace Sampler, and the top of my desk is never clean enough to lay the chart on it with a ruler under the current line.

I do have a magnetic chart holder, but its little prop thingie doesn't work well to hold it up... and it still requires a clean surface upon which to sit.

In the back of my mind I have had the solution to this for a while.  Today I implemented my solution:  Our local music store sells inexpensive music stands suitable for beginner musicians, and perfect for holding my magnetic chart holder.  Best of all, I didn't have to clean off my desk!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Lace Sampler Pattern 1

Here we go:  Pattern 1, a multiple of 8 sts, plus 3.

The picture looks like there are 5 repeats... (5 * 8) + 3 = 43.  Add 8 for garter st border, so I will cast on 51, loosely (long tail cast on over two needles to ensure "loosely").

... time passes, and the first pattern is complete:

Click for larger image

Note the bias in this piece.  Lewis says, "If you make a single eyelet with a decrease to its left in the middle of a stockinette fabric, the bias will be so slight that it won't even show.  But if you make the same eyelet/decrease maneuver every few stitches on all the right-side rows, ... the accumulated effect will become visible and cause the fabric to lean....  This kind of bias, where the side selvages lean and the top and bottom edges are strait will occur in all patterns where the decreases are adjacent to their eyelets and are consistently to one side or the other."

About the yarn.  This hemp/cotton is good for showing the stitches.  It has no give whatsoever, so I wouldn't want to knit with it for hours at a time with no break.  With that in mind, we're off to a local Mexican food place for lunch.


Removed dumb links and added "Knitting: Lace Sampler category"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lace Sampler Prep

I was lucky to get Susanna E. Lewis's "Knitting Lace: A Workshop with Patterns and Projects" a little bit ago.  It is out of print and not cheap.  Today's price on Amazon was... nothing - not even available.  Today's bid on eBay was... still not available.  So, yes, I was lucky to find it.  If you ever see this book in a sale, snatch it up!

The sampler is my next project.  There are 91 patterns, each separated by a few rows of reverse stockinette (or garter st?).  They start out easy, says the author, and progress toward not easy at the end.  Lewis has written a book that could be a complete lace PhD thesis.  I'll talk some about each pattern and her information as I go along.

I plan to try using my Summit Natural Knitwear yarn (55% Hemp, 45% Cotton), fingering weight.  I got out size 0 (US) needle.  If it works, great; otherwise, I'll have to try plan B, whatever that is.

I tried to find Summit Natural Knitwear on the web, but Google failed me.  I suspect maybe the company is out of business now??


Removed dumb links and added "Knitting: Lace Sampler category"

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Movie Poster We went to see Transamerica (Very Good) today.  I don't understand how Felicity Huffman could have lost to Rease Witherspoon in the Oscars.  I think Ms. Huffman did a better job of acting in this movie.  Ms. Witherspoon was good, but....

The story is about a man (Stanley) who is just about to have the operation that puts the finishing touches on his change to a woman (Sabrina, aka Bree).  She discovers she has a son (Toby the street hustler), and her psychologist says she must deal with the unresolved issues surrounding this relationship, before the operation just a week away.

Part of the movie is a road trip, and part of it is a dysfunctional family drama, and part of it is a humorous and heart warming story.

Graham Greene, one of my favorite character actors, has a nice part.

The NY Times didn't put the movie in the Critics Choice list - a mistake.  Roger Ebert gave it three stars.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Kid's Mobius Hat

Here's the hat I was talking about yesterday, all finished.

It will go to the charity bag at the yarn shop (Heartstrings Yarn Studio in Chico, CA).

One caution if you are thinking of doing a mobius hat... bind of LOOSELY when transitioning from mobius hat band to the top of the hat.

Now there is nothing on the needles, so I guess a pair of socks will be started soon.

PS:  One more thing I forgot to mention... Sarah Bradberry's book on hats, Any Yarn, Any Size, Knit Hat Book, is very useful for figuring out how many rows should be knit between decrease rows.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Mobius Hat

Hat I went to my knitting group meeting today.  It was a small group... Suzanne, Laurie, Tami with Xander, and me.  I worked on this mobius hat.

Once again, I apologize for the picture.  The contrast between dark Koko and the light lavender hat was too much for my little camera to handle.  I need one of those white or beige wig forms for better picture taking.  You can barely see where the mobius strip crosses in front.  I'm just about done with the hat, on the decrease rounds now... but I have a math problem.

About knitting math... it's something I have always had trouble with.  Let's say I have 80 stitches on the needle and I want 10 occurrences of a double decrease.  That's 20 stitches less on each decrease round.  Where should I place the decr?

According to Jackie Fee, the math is as follows:

To decrease stitches evenly spaced across a row, or in a round, divide the number of stitches on the needle by the number of stitches you must decrease.  Knit the stitch that matches the quotient figure together with the stitch before it.

Example: if you have 80 stitches on the needle, and you want to decrease 20 stitches, divide 80 by 20 (quotient = 4).  If you want to evenly space 20 single decreases, then you would knit 3rd and 4th stitches together in the round.  If you want to evenly space 10 double decreases, you would [k3, SSK, k1, k2tog] in the round.  Or, speaking of double decreases, I could also do [k5, sl2tog, sl1, k3togtbl] for the same number of stitches result.

I had to add a couple of stitches in a setup row in order to make the quotient be a whole number. 

At any rate, I didn't have my math reminder info with me at the meeting and I did it all wrong.  I'll have to rip back to the beginning of the decreases and do it again.

Why don't I use the pattern to place the decreases?  Oh, I stopped following the pattern on about the second row, so this is a mobius hat as suggested by Cat Bordhi :-)

Friday, March 3, 2006

Good News

CSUC Acker Gym

The Cal State Chico Women (ranked 16 in CCAA nationwide, 3 in the West), defeated Cal State Bakersfield (ranked 14 in CCAA nationwide, 1 in the West).  The score was 78-68.  Whoopie!

One of the nicest things, besides that CSUC played very well in the 1st half and hung on to win, was that the local crowd was there to support them.  The picture above is bad, taken with my Palm Treo 650 inside the gym, but I think you can see that the stands across the gym are full.  The stands on my side were almost full.  Usually the women have about 1/3 of the stands occupied, but tonight's game was important enough to bring out the people to support them.  Good for the fans :-)

Now CSUC has secured a share of the second straight CCAA Championship :-)  Go Wildcats!

A New Task Chair

New Task ChairI finally bought a new chair for sitting at my desk.  The old one was over 15 years old, and had absolutely no support left in it.

This one, a "Barona Brown Leather Task Chair", feels oh so nice.  It doesn't creek when I sit in it.  It supports my back.  The seat has cushion.

Ahhh, much better.

Days like today provide simple pleasures to help life perk along.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Movie Review I liked The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Very Good).

It is set in Southern Texas and Mexico.  Pete (Tommy Lee Jones) and Melquiades (Julio Csar Cedillo) are good friends working on a cattle ranch in South Texas.  Melquiades is accidentally shot by border patrolman Mike (Barry Pepper).  Those are the main characters.  The supporting cast is mostly made up of two women Rachel (Melissa Leo) and Lou Ann (January Jones).

All the above people do a wonderful job, but Barry Pepper as Mike is exceptional.  After Mike shoots Melquiades Pete kidnaps Mike and snatches the body and takes them to Mexico to give Mal a proper burial.  It's a long trip on horseback through hot, dry country.  I wouldn't say there is a lot of beautiful scenery here.  It's Texas.

Along the way poor Mike undergoes all kinds of payback.  Pete looks a lot like Don Quixote on a mission.  Tommy Lee Jones' puppy dog eyes make you want to hug him, but his grizzled character Pete is not the hugging type.

It's a good movie.  Go see it.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

The Knox Women

The Knox Women, circa 1959

This winter has been hard for me, and today's news from my cousin Emily didn't make it any better.  My aunt, Annice (above, right), had a heart attack and died yesterday. 

The above picture was taken summer 1959 or so, when my mother and I took a trip to Maryland to visit family.  From left to right:  Jane, Julia, Abbey, Diane, and Annice.  The only two left alive are my aunt Julia and I.

Aunt Annice had a hard life, suffering from various illnesses.  Her two children, my long lost cousins David and Emily, are in Texas near where Annice lived.  In spite of her problems, she was always nice to me.  I'll miss knowing I could hear from her any time.  Life has just gotten lonelier.

Good Reads

List updated 4/8/06.

Book title & Author's name....







Small Wonder

Barabara Kingsolver Essays
Narrated by Barbara Kingsolver

The Speed of Dark

Elizabeth Moon

The Year of Magical Thinking

Joan Didion

Arther & George
Good, but have to admit skimming
the last 50 pages or so.

Julian Barnes


P.D. James

Wild Ducks Flying Backwards

Tom Robbins

Our Endangered Values

Jimmy Carter

By the Light of My Father's Smile

Alice Walker

The Hummingbird's Daughter

Luis Alberto Urrea

A Long Way Down

Nick Hornby

Locked Rooms

Laurie Kink


Isabel Allende

Assassination Vacation

Sarah Vowell


Knit for Peace

I'm in a sentimental mood today.  This blog entry from Randy via Lena is just beautiful, about knitting for peace.

Some people knit for the troops on ships and on land.  It's good to think of the people who are dying for various government/corporate interests - knit them some love.

But, on March 21st, knit for peace.  "... saying with each stitch that peace
is possible, that human intelligence and compassion can triumph over
fear and greed, that terror and war can give way to discussion and