Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wonderful Weekend

The sun is out with blue skies and the perfect temps for days spent outside. This most wonderful yarn is called Wood Smoke by Celtic Memory Yarns my favorite Merino and Bamboo sock yarn, I love knitting with this that I didn't half mind frogging most of my previous sock from a previous post and reduced the stitches a little to produce a better fitting sock.
Here it lies atop a beloved unfinished cross stitch I had done years ago, I found it laying in the bottom of a drawer - forgotten til now.

The panels depict different fruit and is done on Irish Linen. I should be brave and try to hand sew it to some beautiful fabric to hang on my wall or maybe something else, I'm not sure, but I should do something soon with it.

I visited the beautiful Huntington Gardens today and want to share some of my stroll with you. Above is a waning rose called Maman Cochet, I thought it beautiful at this stage of its bloom, its fragile petals beginning to curl.

Just a few steps down was this Rose trio - yes they looked this magical in person, the color of the pink/lilac roses against the blue green leaves made them almost look like a painting.

I sat on a bench to rest awhile and looked up to see this Magnolia branch beginning to bud, standing out against the bright blue sky - it looked so sculptural. I shall have to return late next month to see what it looks like in full bloom.

I was about to exit the gardens when I was called back to these fruits, they were so amazing, the photo was taken in the shade, yet they were still ablaze in color, I wish this photo did them justice - would anyone know the name of them? There are still more photos to come from this wonderful garden, I'll be sure to include them in my next post.

These are a few of the wonderful plants that I spotted in the garden of a friend's new apartment. I liked the way the cactus sit at the foot of this Palm, Palm trees are so abundant in Southern California, they even pop up in my garden, usually in some hidden spot, like behind a shed. This garden sits on the outskirts of foothills and on occasion deer will visit this garden along with another interesting visitor - SKUNKS!! I've never experienced them before, but I will be sure to keep a respectful distance from them. Places to walk abound and I shall have to be sure to bring my camera so that I can share photos, whenever I am privileged enough to be invited on a lovely stroll among the hills.

The temperature today was in the 60's and quite sunny with blue skies and those wonderful puffy white clouds. This Easter Lilly caught my eye, as you can tell by the photos, this garden leans towards tropicals. There were a few rose bushes, though not in bloom right now, I'm sure they will make a good show of it this spring and I shall take their portrait then.

Hibiscus still in bloom, maybe not at its peak as the nights have been chilly, but never the less a bloom indeed!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I was finally able to start on this afghan with Misti Baby Alpaca, the yarn is so soft to knit with and will be warm and comforting, it does leave quite residue of fibers on me while I am knitting with it. Does anyone know if this yarn stops its shedding? Upon completion I was planning on throwing it in the dryer on cool air and tumbling it for a little while in hopes of arresting this shedding.
There were still lots of color, daylilies are still in bloom, along with a plethora of other flowers, and various berries abound on green bushes. On some of the blogs I read they were showing photos of snowy landscapes, so here are some touches of green. Saturday was a warm day, no jacket was needed, the sun felt gentle, unlike the harsh sun of summer.

The parking lot in downtown Whittier buzzing softly filled the air, here a honey bee is perched on this lovely yellow flower, the warm sun inviting it to rest a bit, the bee did not seem in a hurry and remained there long enough for me to take several photos.

This yellow flower was nestled up against this blue berry shrub which shown brightly in the sun.

I don't have any photos of the sock from my previous blog, I have to frog it back to the beginning of the heel flap - the fit was too loose on my friend, I had started the second sock before I discovered this, but caught it in time, I believe I have a handle on this and hope to finish them in the next week or so.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Being Open to Change

Well I had bought the yarn that was listed on the pattern, Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn and began knitting this sock pattern called Diagonal Cross Rib. I knitted the ribbing portion and about two repeats of the pattern, but it just didn't feel right too me. The yarn feels hard and was not a pleasure to knit with, so I stopped. Yes that's right STOPPED knitting, this yarn needs to find someone who enjoys knitting with firm yarn and that person is not me. I am finally learning to listen to my inner voice, instead of stubbornly pushing on just because a pattern is telling me that is the yarn to use.

I remembered some yarn that I had purchased from Celtic Memory Yarn in a lovely Merino and Bamboo and the sock is coming along just fine, the yarn is soft and cushy and will be a great pleasure to wear, all that is left to do is get the length of the recipient's foot as I would hate to go thru all this, to knit it either too long or too short. I've already started the right foot and like the fact that the diagonals go in different directions for each sock. I did change a couple of things, I continued with the size 3 needle until the leg portion was 6 1/2 inches and substituted Eye of the Partridge for the heel flap as I wasn't enthralled with the vertical lines on the heel flap in the original pattern.

We do get a little fall color in Southern California, but it is quite scattered. I had my heart set on capturing a tree ablaze in Orange, but it was just not meant to be. Each time I would see the right tree for my photo, some circumstance would prevent me from obtaining my photo. As I was walking thru the parking lot at work I noticed the yellow of this Crepe Myrtle, it looked lovely against the blue sky. Once again a change in plans turned out quite well.

My three day getaway was initially planned for the mountains of San Diego County, with hopes of visiting some of the Native Tribes that still live there. Last minute changes occurred and instead I ended up on the coast of California in a room that overlooked one of the back bays. I loved the stillness of this place, teaming with life. This is the view from the room, when I first stepped out onto the balcony I was annoyed by the trees. Upon sitting still and observing, I began to notice that there were many birds that were drawn to these trees, just a few feet away from me. I was serenaded every day by a beautiful & charming black and white bird, a Hummingbird loved this tree as well and returned to perch regularly on its branches. There were so many different finches also that visited this tree, some had quite of bit of red on them. So once again, I changed my mind, I welcomed the trees and would definitely select this room again.

The left side of the balcony had these palm trees, and you could still see the bay thru them. I liked the contrast of the golden bark against the bluish back bay water . Being open to change has definitely been a wonderful experience, the unexpected can be so rewarding. Perhaps a little wisdom comes with our time here on this Earth, to savor every moment as it happens, to live in the present.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Scene - Robert's Shop

A quick little note: I did find a connection to knitting, Robert's wife loves to knit and so I sent her links to some of my favorite knitting blogs.

Ok, you caught me, this particular post is not about knitting or gardening, but we knitters have an eye for beauty, yarn is a visually appealing medium which can be appreciated by anyone, whether they can knit or not. The same can be said about art, you don't need to be able to paint in order to appreciate the actual paintings. This blog is about an incredible shop In Newport Beach called "Scene". I don't mean to sound stupid, but I really made no correlation between frames and art, it just never occurred to me that the one could have a great influence on the other, until I noticed the masterful matches Robert had displayed in his shop. You should hear his sage words, carefully guiding the customer to the right selection on their own treasured works of art.

The shop itself has a welcoming feel (not the sterility of some galleries where you must talk in whispers, while being snubbed by those around you) it is warm and cozy and chock full of paintings -discoveries just waiting to happen.
I fell in love with this mirror, my taste normally runs towards very simple things, but when I touched the intricate work on the frame, gazed at the rich colors as they passed beneath my fingers and yes - my heart even beat a little faster, but practicality had to win out, I shuddered as I thought of my dogs racing around the house and bumping against this incredible work of art, it deserves a place where it can be quietly kept, to be enjoyed by future generations and not to become another one of Hastings mishaps (he did demolish a full length mirror a couple of years ago, miraculously no one was injured).

I was reflecting on how independent stores are especially hard hit by the economic times - everywhere, even in Newport Beach! Still this brave man marches on, offering words of kindness and support to the many friends that drop by. We enjoy sitting at one of the tables in front of his shop (a cafe that offers lots of delicious salads, sandwiches, baked good, coffees...) with me knitting away while we chat, interesting conversations involving revealing bits of a play he may be writing and countless other interesting topics. Sometimes I wonder how can this man be so sane? Patiently listening to a chum telling a sad tale, which given the times we face now is a little more frequent. (Being tender hearted at times I retreat into my knitting at this point, letting it shield me with its softness, sinking - focusing all my attention on the pattern if things get too tough to hear).

I was just reflecting -This man is an artist in every sense of the word (yes he paints and plays musical instruments as well), but the thing that moves me most at this time is that his plays go unpublished and they (like the paintings in his shop) are awaiting to be discovered by the world. One of my hearts desires is to be able to see one of his plays being performed - to witness the rich tapestries of his words being revealed to all.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Red and Green

Capturing a moment of green in this garden (Getty Villa) with its different shades, shapes and textures was most pleasing to my eye.

Some plants are so sculptural, I looked at these flowers from different angles, I spend some time admiring it, It made me appreciate my gift of sight, even the camera could not quite capture the way it displayed so beautifully against the green leaves in the background.

I went back into my Farmer's Market photos from last summer and this one had not made it into my blog until now, I like the way the tomatoes spill forward in this photo. I remember the tomatoes were so fragrant in the heat of the summer evenings. Each stall at the market had its own aromas, strawberries and fresh fruit in some of the booths, flowers in another, you strolled a little further and the aromas of food being barbecued outdoors, ribs, chicken, another few more steps and the smell Kettle popcorn would waft across your path. Delicious memories.
Well this is my first attempt at designing and my second attempt at grafting, still haven't quite got it perfect as you can see by the line down the middle, any suggestions? (Shot with the new camera - I think this camera shoots in cooler tones).

The cowl looks pretty good on and you really can't see the graft line. I need to try to knit this again and try write down a pattern, (I really need to pay more attention while pattern writing, I had written down a few lines, then realized that I had altered it, but forgot where, oh dear, hope I get better at it)The yarn is Berrocco's pure Merino and knitted on a size 9 circular needle. (This photo was taken with my old camera, which I think has warmer tones to it)

I need a little more practice with this camera, it does take better photos of the actual knitting, but I need to somehow add more warmth to the pictures. Maybe taking into account the background. The winter light isn't helping much either (I took this photo outside). The cowl pattern was free on PopKnits blog so here is the link. I knitted it with Malabrigo's worsted weight yarn, I love soft yarns, tender wools that do not torment you with being scratchy or hard. I hadn't realized until I took the photos of my cowls that they were Red and Green, hence the inspiration for the color theme of this post.


This is another photo I took at the Getty Villa. Perhaps now I have an inkling as to why Monet was so inspired by the Water Lilies, the serenity one experiences when quietly contemplating, watching the reflections of light playing off the water. It brought about a quiet peace within me.
This looked like the last of the roses in the garden, it had a gentle fragrance which contrasted so beautifully with the brightness of its color, this place is a wonder, the sunlight plays softly off the petals of these roses. The light at the Getty Villa is special, the designers took advantage of this and designed everything from the flowers in the garden, to the placement of the statues, the incredible paintings, all show an understanding of how the sun reflects off them, creating magical moments that will live in your memory.

These are gorgeous, soft and yummy yarns that I bought from Celtic Memory Yarns. They are as light as air, I've never knitted with this type of yarn before, she described it as a lightweight Mousse yarn. I will have to do a little research and see what it will be best for it. The brown is destined for a friend, but the other shall be MINE. This is the first photo that I've taken with my new camera, I'm still trying to figure out all the settings.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

My favorite dog of all time is my wonderful Black Standard Poodle - Wooster. He is so intelligent, thoughtful and lots of fun. He has two companions, his younger brother Watson (looks very much like Wooster as they have the same mom and dad), and his best companion Hastings a VERY LARGE White Standard Poodle. Unfortunately the other two will not hold still for a photo, I tried so many times, but they were either blurry or the photo turned out to be a foot, tail, or other parts, but some day I will get a photo of them.

This is the Hide Your Roots headband (you can see a much better photo on Kodymay's blog). I like the alternating colors as it adds interest. I'm trying to figure out a better way to show off the headbands, maybe a Styrofoam head? I'll have to shop around and see what I can come up with.

This is a favorite cable pattern of mine, its so quick and simple to knit, the scarf is destined for a coworkers father who is a fabulous man who helps all of his (9) children in anyway he can. He picks up his grandchildren every morning and drives them to school and picks them up every afternoon. Mind you this grandfather lives in a different city and has to commute to do this. What a loving person and even though I've never met him, he touches my heart, so I wanted to do a little something for him and thought this scarf perfect for him.

Well I am about to celebrate 50 years on this earth and to mark this occasion I bought a camera which I hope will allow me to take better photos of my knitting. I can't complain about being alive for 50 years and thank goodness I was blessed with good genes, no plastic surgery for me I will just age gracefully, I know that some day the wrinkles will come, but I'm in no hurry and hope they take their time. With age comes experience and also I believe more appreciation for the beauty of life.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Orange County on Fire

Orange county has a couple of wild fires a few miles from me, one in the hills of my city and the other a few miles further to the north, they may end up merging. I was driving back from Los Angeles thru choking smoke to return to ashes floating thru the air and the sun an odd hazy red.
The skies overhead were dark and looked like rain clouds, the dark grey/black smoke beginning to fill the sky. Its been a few minutes since I took this photo and now the sky is completely grey/black. From my window it looks like the smoke is starting to drop lower and the smoke is quite thick and is burning my eyes the closest thing to describe its appearance would be a very thick fog. I turned my air filters to full blast and hope that will be good enough.
There is an eerie stillness outside, no birds flitting about or singing their sweet song, I just took a quick peek and saw the ashes were beginning to cover everything in a blanket and the fires still blaze out of control in the strong Santa Ana's that are blowing so hot now. I hope they will be able to get a handle on it soon. I think I will go and knit now, it can be so comforting to feel the yarn as it flows thru my fingers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Trying Something Different

I really tried different things this weekend. My first experience at blocking - pins, pads and all. A different Coffee House. A really exotic shopping experience. Please come on my adventure with me. This Crofters Cowl is for my wonderful niece and I am new to blocking, it seems quite a simple thing. I like the versatility of the blocks and the ability to put them away in their own bag as I have limited storage space.
I amended the Crofters Cowl for me by using size 10 knitting needles for 2 repeats, then size 9 knitting needles for 3 repeats and finished off on a size 8 needle. The cowl now sits further down on my neck and is a bit more comfortable to me. This colorway is especially dear to me as I like to contrasting colors -its quite dramatic.

I visited a place called the Coffee Cat which is a writers hang out, this little cubby looks like a favorite spot to hide in. The place was abuzz with writers, most tables had someone seated with either a laptop or a pad - pen in hand, I observed for a moment, there was the slight hum of people talking quietly abiding by the unwritten rule - do not disturb those around you.

The booths against the windows are the ones that are the most popular, I can imagine there's quite a scurry to obtain one. The air about this place is charged with intellectual energy.

I sat outdoors (my table is to the right) next to a table of female writers who were ablaze in conversations, debating over a multitude of writing topics that changed at such a frantic pace it was almost dizzying. I enjoyed my little departure from my coffee house, but I really missed it, the warmth of the place with its mixture of eclectic people, writers, knitters, cyclists, families, all doing a variety of things from quietly sitting and reading their book, some playing cards or the huge chess games, but everyone enjoying themselves.

I found the most exotic store that was chock full of really beautiful things, these purses had such rich textures, gorgeous fabrics and some were beaded. I am learning to think outside the box and it just occurred to me that one would make a lovely bag to tote my knitting around.

This skirt was so beautiful, they have so many skirts (the kind that has that lovely flow when you walk). Maybe I'm not so adventurous as to where the entire outfit, but I really appreciated individual pieces. They have quite a few cut out lace tops that would have looked lovely with just the skirt.

Their displays were so exotic and rich looking, you just did not know where to look first, I could get addicted to this store, fortunately it is a drive to get there (so that will save my pocketbook).

This display in person was so luxurious, the browns with the shades of purple were intoxicating, and while photos let you get the gist of it, the human eye sees so much more.

I'll leave you with this wonderful historical California Architecture. I love the older stuff as it has so much character.