Category Archives: Secret Pal 10

SP11 Contest

I know I just posted but I also just came across this neglected email from my hostess Christine in my inbox announcing a new SP11 contest. Deadline’s tomorrow – yikes!

List your favorite:

Actor – Who else? Johnny Depp


Actress – Meryl Streep
Animal – Fred


Band – Bonnie Raitt
Book – Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bubble Bath – Non-flowery; subtle
Candy – Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
Color – Red, as of this moment


Flower – Gardenia
Food – Fatty (cheesecake, butter, etc)


Lip Balm – Anything with SPF15
Lotion – plain shea butter (unscented)
Movie – Turner & Hooch (I know, I know)
Song – Copacabana


TV Show – Do I have to say it? American Idol (don’t shoot me)
Vacation Spot – my boat


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I’m a Bad Bad Girl

I’m a jerk. An idiot. A complete and utter moron. I’m tempted to even use the A-word because that’s how badly I feel. Yesterday, I ‘tattled’ to my Secret Pal 11 hostess Christine that I hadn’t heard from my Secret Pal yet. Not only had I heard from her — three times, no less — but I’d even responded once!

My pal was very sweet in her reminder about all of this, which made me feel like an even bigger shitheel. Then, to top off all the embarrassment I was feeling, I went to the Post Office last night to find this amazing package from her.

I don’t deserve my super sweet Secret Pal.

It was filled with all sorts of goodies I clearly don’t deserve. Two skeins of my new favorite yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Green Olive, which I would never have picked for myself but absolutely adore nonetheless (my stash seems to consist of nothing but red hues so a little change is a very good thing); soap with a special toy for Freddy embedded inside and a very cool nautical-themed tin of mints. I’m not even going to mention the lovely card because I’ll probably explode from the shame I feel.

Hopefully my pal will forgive me, though I certainly wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t. I didn’t mean to be such a dufus — I guess it just comes naturally. In reality, all of her notes and comments to my blog came during deadline when my memory is never particularly . . . um . . . what’s the word? . . . uh . . . good.

Anyway, HushHush, I apologize for being the worst downline SPer ever! I swear to the goddesses of Secret Pal-dome, that I will never ‘forget’ you again!

Speaking of forgetting, here are Aaron’s finished slippers that I promised last week.

Cross your fingers that they’ll eventually match!

If you don’t remember, I’d finished his slippers, using red for the top of one and brown for the top of the other. Unfortunately, I used two different kinds of wool and they felted differently — the brown shrunk much more than the red, as you can see.


I’ve been crazy busy for the last week and have barely had time to breathe, much less knit. We’re driving to Seattle on Thursday for the weekend, so I’ll be incommunicado till Monday. Have a great weekend!


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Loooooong (don’t say you weren’t warned)

When Hubbo’s son Ian asked when he and his girlfriend should come for a visit, Hubbo said the week of June 18-23 would be perfect. Um . . . hello? Maybe ask the gal who has a nasty deadline to deal with? Of course that is the absolute worst week they could have chosen, as I was completely bogged down with a particularly intense workload. I did my best to make time for a couple breakfasts and dinners but missed out on all the fun stuff they did — like playing tourist in The City.

Hubbo, Stephanie and Ian had all the fun while I slaved away . . . sniff.

So after deadline, Hubbo insisted we hop a ferry to The City to see all the stuff I missed. After you board, you wait in line to buy your tickets, which you then turn in on the other end. We knew the fare was $6.75 and assumed they took ATM cards, especially since we didn’t see any ‘Cash Only’ signs. Until the ferry left the dock, that is. As we moved forward in the ticket line, we spied aone taped to a wall.

Hubbo had forgotten his cash (!?) so I started scrounging. Unfortunately, I’m just too well-organized. I brought only my ID, ATM card and what bills I’d had in my wallet, instead of my entire purse. Travel light, ya know? As in no change. Our fare came to $13.50 and this is what I had.

Fifty cents short!

I was red-faced when I told the lady, especially when she rolled her eyes and told me I’d have to “talk to the supervisor” upon arrival. Gads! Would we be sent back to Sausalito? Arrested? Caned? The ride over was fraught with anxiety. So fraught, in fact, that I only got a few rows of this charity baby hat done.

So precious! Yeah, the kid’s cute too.

Turns out the lady was really nice and took us to the ticket booth to buy our round trip tix. Phwew!

Our first stop was the famous Art Fibers on Sutter St. It was really close to Chinatown (our ultimate destination) so we just had to stop in. It was “my” day, after all. I’d never been and all I can say is “Wow!” I guess I didn’t fully understand that all their yarn is made for them — no Malabrigo, Cascade or Rowan here. And they have just about anything you could dream up. Best of all, every single yarn has a test swatch so you can really see how it knits up.

Kira, a talented designer, clipped several strands of ‘test’ yarn that I could take home to see if it coordinated with some stash yarn. Sadly, it didn’t.

Hubbo just sat peacefully in the ‘yarn tasting’ area while I ooh’d and aah’d and stroked and touched. “I can’t decide between these two,” I moaned at one point. “Buy ’em both!” Wah?! “Who are you and what have you done with Hubbo?” So I did and we were off to gorge on cannoli in Little Italy and browse in Chinatown.

My favorite photo of the day. Mmm . . . squiiiiiiid . . .

Later in the week, we decided to drive up to Tomales Bay. Hubbo was thinking of taking Tess up there and we wanted to check it out. Golly gee, honey, there just happens to be a yarn/handknit clothing co-op shop in Point Reyes Station called Black Mountain Artisans. What’s a gal to do? Shop, of course! Hubbo was just as patient there, though he stayed in the car. Good thing too because there might not have been enough room to turn around in there if he’d come in. Seriously, it’s just a nook of a shop but it packs a wallop in terms of lovely handspun yarn and gorgeous handknit items. I highly recommend stopping (and buying) if you’re anywhere nearby.

The adorable Joanna figured out how to spin curly boucle-type yarn with the natural curls of mohair.

(WILD TANGENT: I was telling the gals at Uknitty about it on Sunday and when I got to the “it’s full of handspun” part they all said “oooooh” in unison. The dude typing away on his laptop next to us cracked up.)

Just take a gander at the scrumptiousness:


The salmon is from Bo-Rage Yarns. It was so lovely, I didn’t even wince at the $21 price tag. Next to it is a $24 skein of wool and cat hair from Feline Fibers. The label actually “guarentees” (sic) cat hair is blended with the wool. It goes on to explain that “Ann spins with cats on her lap, so there is always some cat hair included.” Fred did seem to take an interest in it. What I’m gonna do with these two lonely (and pricey) skeins, I dunno but I love them and don’t regret it one bit.

Yesterday, after a stunning weekend with warm weather, light wind and tons of boat-type stuff going on, I finally made it to the post office to pick up a couple packages. In the first was my crazy-awesome “interchangable needle case” (note I did NOT say “Options Needle Case”, which it is NOT) made by Zonda. I, of course, immediately switched out from my evil Options case and LUVLUVLUV it.

It’s almost as if it was made for Options needles. But it was NOT. (I hope that satisfies any lawyerly-types as a sufficient disclaimer.)

Space is limited when you live on a boat and the bulkiness of the Options case drove me to distraction. While slightly large in ‘diameter’, Zonda’s case is half the thickness — a big deal when you want to carry it around with you.


Freddy likes Zonda’s case better too.

And if you’re worried about losing the little keys for tightening the needles, you might do what I did: slip them on to a safety pin and attach it to the front — I did have to use pliers to squeeze the keys’ loops closed first.

The second package was the final one from my Secret Pal. She sent a couple T-shirts for Hubbo and me, some cool gadgets, a whole Kool-Aid dying tutorial (complete with KnitPicks Bare in worsted and Kool-Aid) and some very thoughtful cards featuring photos from my Tess blog.


Man, this broad is sooo cool! She totally spoiled me. I can’t imagine a better Secret Pal. And no wonder. She’s Bobbi, aka Krafty1 — as in SP10 hostess Bobbi! She said the hostesses get to choose their ‘spoilees’ and she chose me! Do I feel special, or what? I’m going to miss her packages but I’m definitely going to enjoy getting to know her through her blog. BTW, Secret Pal 11 registration is going on now, so if you’ve been on the fence, DO IT! It’s a great experience that you won’t regret.

Ambient temperature is directly proportional to the length of a cat. Check out other little known feline laws of physics.


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Bovine Bonanza

My Secret Pal sent me another package of goodies. This one was decidedly beef-flavored: Cow card, “Eat mor chikin” cow from Chick-fila, magnets, post-its, key chains and a couple of the inevitable cow crap items: The Original Cow Pie (delish!) and a jar of — ah hem — Cow Poop. These turned out to be chocolate covered sunflower seeds and they were delish too!


Hubbo was bored until I started pulling candy out of the box. Then he became very interested. But I got to it first!


This bushel of bovine booty was Nosy1’s way of telling me where she’s from. You see, this sneaky little stitcher sent me packages and postcards from all over the friggin’ place so it was impossible to pinpoint her location. (Just in case I was too dense to get it, she tossed in a spoiler: a beer mug with ‘Wisconsin’ on it.) She said that California and Wisconsin battle for the Dairy State title, which is silly. I mean, everyone knows California is home to happy cows!

When not obsessing about being stood up in high school, I’ve been tearing up Latoya.


Actually, I made another goof but I think it’ll work out. The traveling rib was made by decreasing the front ribbing. I was supposed to then knit the pattern straight until the piece measured 4″. But I read ‘knit another 4″.’ I caught it after 2″ — the piece measures 5″ — and thought about frogging back an inch but thought better of it. I’m starting the waist shaping so, instead of decreasing every inch, I’ll do it every 3/4″ or so and the total length will be close ’nuff!

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Heart-y Party

We interrupt this regularly scheduled knitting post to alert you that this is an insanely long post about my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Feel free to skip down to the actual knitting stuff.

What a great party! Deadline was over on Friday, May 25 and we took Silent Sun, the boat we live on (Rob tried to talk me into taking little Tess but I nixed that pretty fast — no camping for me!), to China Camp for the long weekend. We had a terrific, relaxing time and I plowed through Stephen King‘s Lisey’s Story. I got zero knitting done, mainly because I was reading the whole time. I wish I was good enough to do both at once — I know it can be done — but I’m not so I had to choose.

Wild tangent: What you don’t know about me is that I’m normally a voracious reader. For example, I read 64 books in 2004 — SIXTY FOUR! Of course, most of that summer was spent at anchor in Barclay Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island doing nothing but reading so it’s little wonder. 2005 was a busy year, what with the trip up the Inside Passage to Alaska and back, so I didn’t have as much reading time — only 35 books that year. Then I got this ‘real’ job. One that took up a lot of time and, more importantly, energy. All I wanted to do when I came home was plop in front of the TV, veg out and knit. The grand total for 2006: six books. So far this year I’m right on track with three books read. Embarrassing!

After our little trip, we had a bunch of running around to get ready for the big trip to Oregon. I worked for 3 hours Wednesday morning, picked up the rental car (we’re not confident in my little Corolla’s ability to make it there and back in one piece) and took off. We spent the night in Weed, CA. If you never get the chance to spend the night in Weed, count yourself lucky. ‘Nuf said.

My sister Sandy and I were whirlwinds the whole weekend.

Thursday we did the shopping — Costco, party store, Big Lots, grocery store. This was all between 2 and 6 p.m., when we had to rush over to my niece’s choral concert. She’s a sophomore and I know a lot of the prime solos went to seniors but lemme tell you, Maria blows all those brats away! A couple of them just plain sucked! We were understandably irritated about it, which made Maria glow with happiness. Her Aunties were sticking up for her!

Friday was spent decorating the hall. It’s really a new annex to my parents church so we got to use it for free and man, it was nice. We didn’t have a plan, just a jumble of stuff that we knew we were going to use. Once we started setting up though, everything flowed smoothly and we ended up with some seriously lovely decorations.

Both my sister and I woke up about 6 a.m. the morning of the party, waiting for the other to wake up. An hour later she decided to take a shower and I was up like a flash! We were at the church by 8:30, men-type-workers in tow.


They set to inflating the balloons — with strict instructions not to waste any of the expensive helium by talking funny — and we set to the hors d’oeuvres. We had a lovely variety of Costco fare and handmade goodies: meatballs and raspberry chipotle sauce, little cream puffs, goldfish crackers (hey, I never said we were high class), salmon mousse on crackers, shrimp mousse cucumber boats, brie and strawberries on crackers, etc. And of course the cake — your basic but beautiful chocolate with buttercream frosting.

Nearly 100 people showed up, at least 15 of whom were at the wedding 50 years ago!

Half the original wedding party joined us!

We all shared wonderful memories,

my niece finally got her solo,

and mom cried . . . a lot. In other words, a total success!

And no one got grumpy or cranky or even a little testy. Not even when, during the clean up, someone let a bunch of balloons loose into the fans nestled in the 25′ high ceiling. Twenty futile minutes of trying to get them down led to my brother saving the day.

It’s called a ‘stadium lift’ and it’s used by firefighters (he’s one) — note that the ladder is solely supported by the three dudes holding safety lines. You should have heard the squeals of concern by all the little old ladies! My aunt couldn’t stand to watch my brother ‘free climb’ so she and my mom held the bottom of the ladder.

Yeah, that’ll help. But it kept them busy and happy. After Brian unraveled the balloons from the fan, Dad took his Red Ryder and popped them all one by one, never missing.

What a great ending!

We now return to our regularly scheduled knitting post.

I made a good deal of progress on my cardigan on the trip — of course I forgot to take a picture this morning, so I have no proof. Both front pieces are done and connected, and I have about one inch of the back done. And there it will sit until Latoya is done.

About three weeks ago, I ordered a bunch of yarn from It was supposed to take about a week to arrive but two weeks later, the package was still MIA. I called the day before we left and, even though their website said it would be shipped USPS, it was shipped via UPS. Normally not a problem but I gave my PO Box. Apparently it was delivered the day after we left.

I was disappointed to not get it earlier because I wanted to get started on Sandy’s birthday present but how exciting is it to come in to work to find a HUGE package waiting for you?! Look at all the yumminess:

For Rob’s cabled throw/blanket — Lion Brand Wool Ease Quick N’ Thick in boring old Denim:

For Sandy’s Latoya — TLC Cotton Plus in Kiwi:

For my On Deck Pullover — TLC Cotton Plus in (gulp!) Hot Pink:

I hate it. hate it hate it hate it. Honestly, I really like the color but would never ever wear it. As I type this, all the Hot Pink is on its way back to Michigan to be exchanged for Spruce, a mellow seafoam-like green.

I must have been in a particularly spunky mood when I settled on Hot Pink — it’s soooooooooooooo not my color. I think Spruce is boring mild enough to be worn more often.

And here’s where I apologize to my TERRIFIC Secret Pal Nosy1. She sent me a great package right before we left that included a ball of purple Rowan Calmer, a pattern for a cabled hat and a bunch of other goodies. I took a pic of it all but it’s disappeared into the ether so THANK YOU NOSY1!


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Dorkus Malorkus

My only goal for this weekend’s race was to NOT finish dead last. I suppose by quitting early, I didn’t technically finish so my birthday wish came true! Instead of beating against the wind the whole way — unusual for this event — we just tucked into China Camp State Park and had a Cinco de Mayo potluck on the beach with some friends. WAAAAY more fun! I can’t believe I didn’t take my camera – dorkus malorkus. Luckily, not everyone was as absent minded as I was. Emmy got this shot of Rob and his buddy The Pirate Pinata.


He was #7 to take a whack at the tiny terror and blew it to smithereens! Half the candy shattered and all that was left of the poor guy was his head.  (Yes, that’s Black Sabbath on his shirt – so proud!)

We had a terrible night’s sleep. The wind had calmed by the time we all stumbled home so the anchorage was pleasant and just slightly rolly. We were gently rocked to sleep, only to be awoken two hours later by waves slapping and wind howling. The chop grew and kept us bouncing around all over the cabin. At 4:30, we both were awake and had a heart-warming conversation about our relationship and chatted about various stuff. I guess we finally fell back to sleep because next thing I knew it was 8:30 and we had to GO if we were planning on catching the tide. I’ll spare the nautical detail but suffice it to say, sailing WITH a strong current is much faster and more comfy than sailing AGAINST a strong current (think salmon swimming upstream).

We had a beautiful sail under Barbie (I named our pretty pink and purple spinnaker), had a fantastic brunch at The Anchorage restaurant, took a nap and lazed about. A perfect birthday, if you ask me! On top of that, no one forgot my birthday! Even my dorky brother, who didn’t actually call me till the next day, thought about it and decided he didn’t want my opinion of him to improve. Now who’s the dorkus?

I dropped by the PO yesterday on a whim and there was a package from Nosy1. Inside was a little birthday cupcake candle and cute little card. She’s so rad!


Now on to some important stuff. That darn sweater is totally buggin’ me. I’ve ‘decided on’ no fewer than SIX different patterns only to reject them for one reason or another.


I feel like the cats on Seinfeld who kept breaking up with perfectly nice people for stupid reasons. The problem is that I don’t want to spend all that time knitting a sweater that I’ll never wear and don’t absolutely love. But I feel like I may have found “The One”. I’ve always liked Knitty’s Starsky but the suggested yarn is bulky and I don’t have enough Faux to double-strand it. Besides, it’d probably be too bulky then. But today I found Lara’s podcast on reconstructing Starsky for worsted weight yarn. Two changes: use the XXL size and decrease 18 times instead of 14. That may just be the ticket! I’ll prolly change my mind tomorrow. . .

For now, I’ll leave you with one cat who’s totally satisfied with his life:


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Race Ready

We’re racing little Tess in the Great Vallejo Race, the largest inland race in the US. It’s usually a fabulous run under spinnaker — you know, those lovely colorful sails — from the Bay to Vallejo. We’re in the second to last group to start (around 12:25) and will hopefully make it up there before the 8 p.m. deadline! My goal (and birthday wish) is to not be dead last on corrected time. We’ll see . . .

I dropped by the PO yesterday and found this surprise package waiting for me.


My secret pal Nosy1 is DA BEST! I love washclothes but have yet to try the nice soft cotton chenille. And if she thinks I’m giving this one away, she’s got another think comin’! Maybe the next one . . . maybe.

Meanwhile, my search for the perfect cardigan pattern continues. I had two candidates but swatching up the Faux made me realize that there would have to be major MAJOR pattern adjustments and I just don’t want that pressure on my first sweater. I know, I’m a wimp, but at least I admit it. I just want a pattern that will allow me to cast on and go.

My wants:

  • Medium length — no shorties, no superlong ones; just enough to cover (or close to cover) my arse
  • Created for worsted weight
  • A nice foldover collar (I have no clue what to call it — I don’t want a squared off collar that flips up and doesn’t lay down naturally like this or this)
  • Very little pattern work, ie: cables.
  • A comfy cozy sweater to wear over a T-shirt when I get home.

I finally found my way over to MagKnits this morning and there it was, waiting for me all along. I present Sesame:


No stripes, fewer buttons and Bob’s your uncle! I’m sure I’ll get waaaay down the road during the looooong sail to Vallejo — unless Rob actually makes me do something. Ha!

Check it. My birthday is Sunday so a little after 1, I’m gonna blow a whistle or something.  1:02:03 on 05/06/07. Totally rad!


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