Monday, July 31, 2006

the road to the sun

Saturday was a day of theatrix, starting with a very creative and well-executed homegrown version of the Wizard of Oz by a nearby homeschooling group...

and ending with Delirium, an out-of-this-world performance by Cirque du Soleil. Clicking the first of these links will give you the option of watching a video preview of the show, but it doesn't even begin to capture what it's like to see it live. We ran into many folks we knew on the way in and there was much excitement in the air, but then they bring the lights down and the magic begins. It is overwhelming and astounding and mystifying and...just amazing. When we saw our first Cirque show, it was while my dad was sick, when my extended family took a trip to Las Vegas. I know, I know, last place on earth you'd think I'd enjoy, especially with a little guy and a toddler in tow, but really, it was cool. We all splurged on tix for a show, having heard good things about Cirque du Soleil, but still skeptical that it would really be all it was cracked up to be. Well, they showed us a thing or two! Not only did my chemo-bald dad on a scooter get to become part of the pre-show entertainment (being the natural clown that he was, this was perfect), but the performers did things in that show that human beings Just Can't Do!

After the show, we couldn't stop talking about what we had seen. First thing the next morning, we still couldn't stop talking about it. And then we picked up the phone and ordered tix for another show, the very next night, and were blown away even more. I mean, that time they did all the impossible stuff IN OR UNDER WATER! Wowza.

Since then, we've been waiting for the kids to be old enough that they'd remember this kind of event. They finally are and were mesmerized and impressed. Even Jesse. (Those of you who know him will understand the significance of this statement.)

And once again they have us under their spell and hungry for more. hmmm...there's a show coming to Boston in September... Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 28, 2006

bella begun

This is the beginning of the sleeve on Bella, which you can see here, but I'll be doing a cardigan version like this (slide about 2/3 of the way down the page, to May 4, 2004 entry). And the sleeves will be full length, not 3/4 as in the pattern. And I'm knitting it in the round, not flat as in the pattern. And I'll leave off the tie things around the neck and steek it and also probably add a button band and picot trim everywhere to keep the edges from rolling.

That lacy stuff down at the bottom was a little fiddly because I had to actually pay attention to the pattern for a little while to get the spacing right, but now I'm up to the easy peasy part of the sleeve, which means I can work on it during the snippets of knitting time that I'm getting lately. Yeah! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

keepers of the light

Much excitement in the air here, having just confirmed reservations for a week as lighthouse keepers at Rose Island Lighthouse. A big thanks to Paige for letting us know about this super cool program! It appeals to each of us for very different reasons, but boy does it appealPosted by Picasa

Monday, July 24, 2006

summertime and the living is easy

The past few days have included a visit with beekeepers... and Space and Aviation Day at the New England Air Museum (no pics because Scott's a knucklehead, but a very cool time with Leonardo DaVinci, making water rockets, checking out all the planes, learning about firefighting and aviation history)...

and Midsummer Mozart with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, followed by fireworks... and Midsummer Night's Dream (face painting at beforehand shown below), where we ran into an astounding number of friends...

and silly children on ice.Cost: Minimal.

Value: Priceless. :-) Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 20, 2006


So, it's been nearly 100 degrees for the past few days. We beat the heat in many ways, including a cookout/pool party, picking blueberries, birthday party with hand-cranked ice cream at a state park with pond for swimming, touring the cool underground Old Newgate Prison, and tonight an ice cream social where we will undoubtedly run into many people we know social. And eat ice cream. :-) And knit. :-)

While chillin' with a recent Mythbusters marathon, I learned how to knit mittens. Because you wouldn't know it from last winter and wouldn't surmise it from this week's temps, but there's a good possibility that these will come in handy (get it? handy! har har har.) in a few short months. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 15, 2006

when all else fails...

...knit socks. I'm working like 70 bajillion extra hours this month and am, not surprisingly, really tired and with not too much brain power come evening. And it's really hot out, so the last thing I want is Leah's nearly-complete sweater resting on my lap as I knit round and round its yoke. So I've been finishing up some socks that were in various phases of done-ness.
The blue/purple ones and the pink ones are Socks that Rock yarn, which I love. The red ones are Cherry Tree Hill, also very nice. All of those are for Leah (small people = small feet = nearly instant gratification). The dark stripey socks in progress are Regia, for Scott. I'm not nearly so fond of this yarn, but at Webs' tent sale days, the price was oh so right.

The pink ones were done toe-up with trials of every toe-up sock heel known to the internet (okay, not really, but a bunch of them) and I was displeased with all, so I ended up just doing a peasant/afterthought heel. I don't like that one either, but came a time when I just wanted those darn socks to be finished. So I've been back to knitting top down socks, even though I'd rather do toe-up if I could find a heel I liked. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear on Knitty, but the Widdershins sock pattern, a toe-up pattern with traditional heel and gusset. Be still my beating sockgeeky heart! So, as you can see, I'm just about finished with the first sock done this way (not truly the Widdershins pattern, but merging that style heel and gusset with my usual K2P2 mindless ribbed socks) and I'm tickled by it.

Today temperatures will soar and I will be knittin' mittens while near/in water. :-) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

shine on you crazy diamonds

The past few days have included swimming/fishing/picnicking with friends at two state parks (and brainstorming exciting things to do with a thermos with cool pop-up lid),
meeting pet pigs and many horses, learning to make friendship bracelets (which double as collars for a friend's rubber rat),
going to the movies, playing games, reading books, and of course, knitting. Lots of little knitting projects.
And one that's an especially little knitting project.
Maybe it's a scarf for the rat? Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 08, 2006

when Gram comes to town

My grandma has been here from Pittsburgh for the past week, so we've been enjoying as much time with her as possible. Much excited chatter from all of us about her upcoming trip, cruising with a bunch of friends in her AARP group to visit most of the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea -- Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia! Go Gram!!

This is Leah with her GiGi (short for Great Grandma) watching backyard fireworks from my mom's deck after lobsterfest - mmmm.

And here's a pic of Gram with her great grandkids (Zach 7, Leah 8, Jesse 11), to document how fast they're growing.
And here she is, celebrating her 87th birthday (with a lone 2 candle?), the ever-present crossword puzzles within reach.
We took her to the airport this morning, so she's back in Pittsburgh by now and looking forward to a day at Kennywood amusement park tomorrow. Always something interesting going on, always something fun to try! Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 07, 2006

roses and roald

I'm working a gazillion extra hours this month, so naturally this would be the time when I'd also squeeze in a 6-hour feltmaking workshop on a weekday. ;-) Julie Williams is here from Australia, 4.5 months into a trip of unlimited duration, traveling around the world to see as much as possible and teach feltmaking techniques to groups along the way. Carol Ingram arranged this rose bag workshop in Portland and much fun was had by all.
The bags are laminated merino on a silk/chiffon lining. The rose is felted with a resist on the outside of the bag, similar to making a flap pocket, but then its base is stretched wide into a circle and the "pocket flap" swirled into place for fulling and drying. This is the first time I've done a felted cord handle and incorporated it into the bag at the time of felting, as opposed to sewing on afterward. My bag is still destined for embellishment with embroidery and beads, but I'm pleased with the beginnings of my little rose garden bag. It was awesome to see all the different bags that emerged during the afternoon and how varied the styles were.

Below is a page in Roald Dahl's The Vicar of Nibbleswick, a giggleworthy and verging-on-raunchy book about a vicar with a most unfortunate case of "back-to-front dyslexia," which causes him to spout words in reverse at inopportune moments.
Yes, I was knitting...stinking?!... at the moment this was shown to me. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 06, 2006


So, we went to the library and got a video called Warping and Loom Preparation, in hopes of getting a clue on how to set up these loom thingies that have taken over a room in our house. Sallie Guy is the instructor on the video. Even though poor Sallie had a bluish-greenish hue on our old and rarely used television in the dungeon, we settled in to watch with much anticipation and excitement. A few minutes into the thing, Sallie said that this video assumes that you have three things:

1. Basic weaving experience. (Hmm...barely.)
2. Have warped and woven on a 4-harness loom. (Uh, nope, haven't done that either.)
3. Can read a simple weave plan. (What's a weave plan?)

Well, okey dokey, then, we were completely unprepared for what lies ahead, but we were undaunted. After all, we already have the looms overtaking the house and, by gosh, we're going to figure out what to do with them! :-)

So we watched for a while, rewound frequently for reviews when we looked at each other with complete bafflement, figured out how to use that thing that Scott made last week but didn't know what it was (and oh, drat, I've forgotten the name again -- raddle? heddle? reed? -- see, it's all Greek!), and after a while agreed that we should turn the video off before our heads exploded.

We headed upstairs to bed and noticed that, hey, one of the looms already has some strings (fiber? thread? warp!) wound around the porcupine thingie in the back. Ooh, so maybe we could skip a few steps (the mathy parts and the warping board, which seems kind of scary) and tackle it mid-stream the next morning. Which we did.
Here's Leah threading the...oh, wait, that's the reed. Yeah, she's threading the reed. (Would this be called warping the reed?) Proclaimed tedious, but tolerable, according to Scott and Leah, the reedmasters-in-training.
Meanwhile, Jesse was setting up a bobbin-winder. We tried winding the bobbins using the spinning wheels, but that put extra twist in, so we'll need to use this manual winder or adapt the spinning wheel method next time.

Scott and Jesse crawled around underneath to hook the pedal chains to the uppie-downie things, following Sallie's instructions and a simple weave plan <---hey, look, now we sort of know what Sallie means by this! Leah took a few passes with the shuttle, and then Jesse and Scott and I took our turns. Noisy, clattery, fun!
We had to scurry off to a lobsterfest after that, but what we have in progress sure does look suspiciously similar to weaving! Yahoo! Claire, lookie what we did! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

summer Spindlicity is up!

The summer Spindlicity magazine is up and Leah's article on angora rabbits is in it.

Better late than never!

I have some fun pictures to show you all, but they'll have to wait until later this evening because I'm on a client's computer. (shhh...don't tell...they think I'm working.) :-)

Monday, July 03, 2006

1830s and beyond

Leah enthusiastically took on the role of Caroline Barnes at Old Sturbridge Village Discovery Camp last week. Jesse and his chauffeur-of-the-day spent some time also enjoying OSV, but also ventured out to other destinations in the area. Below, in no particular order, are some of the topics that popped into our lives. :-) woodworking, Boston Museum of Science, weaving, electricity, notable African-American women, submarines, printmaking, condor release program, fireworks...
tree canopy walkway at Ecotarium, tinsmithing, the Big Dig, swimming at a state park, pirates, embroidery, Greece, mountain biking, Pinky Pye...
pre-algebra, digital photography, steam-powered inventions old and new, strawberry picking and the economics of some seeds and soil, Mythbusters, Leonardo daVinci (of course), National Geographics...
human anatomy, fishing (with new equipment and old), optical illusions, Theodore Roosevelt, Hopscotch magazine, the sound barrier, Dolly Madison, how to temper steel, Oregon Trail...and more. Posted by Picasa

two sticks and string

I'm now into the yoke of a sweater for Leah, made of Scott's handspun yarn. The pattern is cobbled together with guidance from Jackie Fee's Sweater Workshop. This is the first time I've put together a sweater pattern from scratch. It's deliciously liberating to pick and choose components, making pattern decisions based on how you want the sweater to look.
Leah's disappointed that Spindlicity magazine is now one month late on publishing and, as of this morning, the site seems to have disappeared. (Note: It's back up, but still shows the spring issue, with note that the summer issue will arrive June 9. It's now July 3.) Such a bummer, since she (and Jesse) soooo enjoyed meeting the angora bunnies earlier this spring, spinning their fiber, and knitting with it. Her article was even submitted way before the deadline, but at this point it looks like it won't be published at all. Maybe I'll publish it here or submit it elsewhere, since she really was getting a kick out of writing her series of articles. Anyway, her fiber experimentations continue. She's working on a poncho for herself and occasionally knits on whatever sock project is in my bag, but I had to laugh when I saw this one morning...
Like junkies needing a fix, just give us some sticks and string! Posted by Picasa