Friday, October 14, 2005

If it's Tuesday it must be Belgium or Amsterdam or......

My very first guided tour, oh yes I have reached that age when a guided tour sounds good, I may be crazy but it sounds like a great adventure. Starting out in Amsterdam and finishing up in Paris.

Shish...Whew... all in 21 days of travel....lots of bus and trains, planes, and automobiles.....and I don't have to drive, navigate or even negotiate parking, so I can sit back and relax and knit or just gaze out the window or finally read that book that I've had on my list of things I would like to do.

I've traveled through most of these places so they are not so new to me but I am sure I will see lots of things that I have never seen before. I think having professional tour guides help to steer us in the most interesting areas. (I've always wanted to be part of a heard.) When I was younger that was the thrilling part of traveling, finding my own path and planning my own tour. But it is a lot of work and taking off without a reservation well when I was 18 that was the way to go but today having someone else make all the reservations and plans sounds good to me. I figure none of the tours are mandatory and I can always stay back at the hotel and do what I feel like and only participate when I feel like it. Even Knit all day if I want to.

But I have lots of time to think about this and make my plans, the tour is next year!

To read more about this trip go to:

  • ana Banana Travel Adventures Blog
  • Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    The Magic of Felting...

    Some Felting tips and How to's...

    Put the garment in the bath tub with hot water some shampoo and baking soda and have a bucket ready with cold water. Climb in and start stomping around like Lucy did with the grapes. Or get an old fashioned washboard and a little patience it will felt. I got my washboard at my local hardware store for 13 dollars.

    I actually find that it's not so much the heat as the agitation and shocking with the hot and cold rinse. Also the ph level makes a major difference in the speed of felting. Soft water which is like rain water is very acid and will not felt well. You are looking for hard water, this where the baking soda comes in, you want the ph level on the alkaline side.

    For me this is the fun part of felting, it's more of an art than a precise science. I've never had the patience to make a swatch and measure and precisely predict the way a piece will felt. I find each yarn is sort of different and if I use the same kind of yarn I kind of know how it's going to felt. But I find it always felts more vertically than horizontally.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    Viva Las Vegas...

    Stayed at the Mandalay Bay, heard that it was a nice hotel. Maybe in it's hey day but not today, not in my opinion. I don't think I'm going to stay at a "mega" hotel again in Las Vegas. They are just over the top, tooo big! I can't find my way out too big.

    It took one hour to "valet" park and check in. When I finally got up to my turn at the valet parking, I asked the guy what gives? Is it always this crowded here? And his answer was "What do you expect of a cheap hotel?" Burst my bubble, I thought I was staying a "nice" fairly expensive hotel. "Nah, not since they lowered their prices now everybody and their brother is here. The last of the big tippers, if you know what I mean. We have a lot more work and the tips are less."

    Got in the airport fairly smoothly, luckily I got a round trip ticket from Los Angeles to Las Vegas even though I only needed a one way ticket. Go figure it cost me the same amount of "miles" for a round trip ticket as a one way ticket. But one of the ladies I met up here was telling me that last month she got a one way ticket and she was standing in line waiting for security and they pulled her aside led her in a room and promptly asked her to take all her clothes off.

    My first question was "Did they touch you?" she said "No". But how humiliating it was to take all of her clothes off in front of a female security officer. I'm glad that did not happen to me not that I mind being nude in front of somebody but the chore of taking all my clothes off and getting dressed again, then I wonder if they let her get back in the line at the place she was at or at least let her go in the front. She did not look like a terrorist to me but you never know a caucasian old lady going to Las Vegas from Los Angeles and has a one way ticket ooh ooh that is a flag. Better safe then sorry, she could have had something hidden under her clothes.

    I immediately asked my friend who introduced us if this lady was a bit off? Maybe delusional or like to make up stories or maybe starving for attention. Nope none of those, she is quite well spoken intelligent woman in her fifties coming home from Los Angeles and her mistake was to only buy a one way ticket which was the dead give away of a terrorist. Glad I got a two way ticket even though I drove home and never used the return portion.

    But I digress, I got to LAX at the crack of dawn, I forgot about having to get to the airport an hour or two early and I live about 15 minutes away. 6 am flight meant I had to get up at 4 am I hope I remember not to do that again. Suitcase in hand and my wonderful felted "Ibiza" bag as my carry on. I bought my ticket online so I had an "e ticket" printed it myself, and I was kind of proud of my accomplishment because it was not an easy feat to book online and use my so called free miles. It costs 15,000 miles for this ticket, was it free? I guess that is a whole subject onto itself. But off I go clutching my printout and my felted bag with my knitting and there is lines and lines all over which one to go to? I finally figure out that I can go to the self serve window because I already have my boarding pass and ticket.

    I do travel and have traveled all over the world but I've not had this experience before. I had no idea what to do. I get in line and they tell me to go to that window, so I do. I'm standing there and there is nobody at that window to help me. I'm standing there... the "line guard" says "go ahead" .... I look at him annoyed, I'm here what do you want? Again I get a go ahead, again I give him the old knock it off look, I'm here. I have luggage there is nobody here! It does not dawn on me that this is the "self serve" line, and that I'm supposed to look at the little monitor under the counter and touch the screen with the various questions they are asking. Finally the guard comes over and shows me and gives me the old "lady you should get out more often" or "what planet are you from" look. I admit I kind of looked like a country bumpkin with my hand made bag tied together at the handles and the confused I've never been on an airplane before look.

    It all went fairly smoothly after that and the flight was so fast that I did not even have time for more than one or two rows of knitting. Las Vegas was not hot the weather was actually on the cool side for this time of summer/fall. Usually September is still very warm. The "natives" were telling me that I should have been there last week when it was a 120 degrees. How do they live in a 120 degree temperature? I'm thinking that if you park your car in the sun how do you touch the handle without getting burned? But Las Vegas is growing and growing and is still the fastest growing city in the country. People flock to Las Vegas it was packed fully booked hotels traffic on the freeways, lines everywhere. I don't get it. But God Bless if they like it who am I to criticize.

    I'm headed off to Mt. Potosi, the 8,500 foot mountain just on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Not many have heard of it but this is my second time up here. I had never really heard of Mt. Potosi before this just that Carole Lombard died on the slopes of Mt. Potosi. That is where her airplane crashed. Shame I liked Carole Lombard she was cute, pretty and funny, what a love affair her and Clark Gable must have had.

    Sunday, August 28, 2005

    French Tote ... Felted & Felted & ....

    How it got started, but I get ahead of myself.... I was shopping for vegetables at my local "farmers market" oh yes we have farmers even here in Venice Beach ... This is my favorite way to shop the quality of the food is fresher and the atmosphere is friendly it makes what could be a tedious task into a fun experience.

    The sellers have smiles on their faces and the shoppers seem to have all the time in the world to leasurely stroll shop and visit with each other.

    At the super market the shoppers always seem to be in a hurry, talking on their cell phones with serious lists and major concentration on their task at hand. No time to stop to chat or to slow down and "smell the roses". No lists or cell phones here just people wondering around and tasting and seeing what is fresh and what looks good.

    There are samples too, the sellers offer their sweet fruit or vegetable for you to taste hoping you will buy their wonderful product. Somehow it all tastes a lot different then at the super market. The super market the fruit looks good and it looks like it would taste good but somehow it's all looks the taste is usually flat. I also like to buy as much organic fruits and vegetables as I can.

    You see men and women carrying babies, young and old alike stopping for a friendly chat, they serve coffee and offer some nice chairs to sit and enjoy. And we are one block away from the Pacific Ocean. For me this is as good as it gets as far as food shopping goes.

    Oh that salad looks good, flowers and all. Eatable flowers in the salad, my absolute favorite. (not really, they don't really taste like much). But it all goes in my French Tote really nicely.

    I spotted this lady with a straw basket .... where did you get that? I asked. Then blurted out: That is a basket from Ibiza! .... how did you know? She asked, I used to have one just like it and I loved it. I used it till it fell apart.

    That started the conversation and we "bonded" and had a lovely chat ... she is Betty Gold ( a well known artist. Betty is a professional sculptor, she has works in more than 100 permanent installations and private collections throughout the world. Her pieces are constructed from welded steel, and are painted with glossy enamel or left in their raw steel state to rust to a velvety patina. Wow ...

    Some of her sculptures are housed as permanent installations in Spain, Europe, Eastern Europe, Japan, Ireland, South Korea, Mexico and the United States. Projects by Ms. Gold include a monumental piece at Pepperdine University, Malibu, Calif.,

    Who would guess that this petite little lady would be making these huge sculptures, made out of metal, she welds....

    What a lovely surprise to have this wonderful chat with Betty, we talked about baskets. She told me about her home in Majorca and her collection of baskets and her wonderful home in Spain.

    Here I am with my mom and dad at the Los Angeles Airport headed for Hawaii. Circa 1969 and my Ibiza basket was my luggage. You see some fringes hanging from the basket, a hand knit shawl that I used to cover all the contents and I would just tie the handles and check it through.

    I have no idea how it made it but each time they would hand carry this basket and hand it to me when we arrived. It was actually a good idea I never had to wait for luggage and nothing ever broke.

    My felted shopping bag looks good feels nice and is very versatile and practical. I love it when a project turns out well. I get lots of compliments especially on the color. It has stretched and I've had to "refelt" it a couple of times I think it is done now.

    I created my own pattern. I used Reynolds Lopi wool made in Iceland and used size 17 circular needles.

    Friday, August 19, 2005

    Knitting in Europe ...

    I spent a month last September traveling in Europe. Drove from Northern Italy, Bolzano in the Dolomites to Venice then to Milan and over to Cinque Terra. Then on to Paris. Every chance I had I looked for yarn or knitting shops, unfortunately I found only a few. Then the ones I did find were so expensive I only bought one or two balls of some fab silk ribbon. Luckily I had a great project with me small needles thin yarn so I did knit while traveling. When I got home the project was finished with the added silk ribbon for trim and now when I wear it I always think of Europe.

    Then in Paris their yarn shops are brand related. They tend to have only one brand as opposed to our shops who carry all sorts of brands. If you plan a trip be sure to take lots of money. I found all of Europe very expensive. The $8.00 Cappucino topped it off in Paris, and not your Starbucks mega Vente either but a tiny little cup of coffee with a little foam on top.

    I still had a wonderful time but for shopping give me the U.S.A. any time.

    Here are a few pictures from the trip:

    And back home. Venice Beach, California.

    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    Grandma's Gossip...

    I went with Adele’s Hadassah group to a matinee of “Cats,” at the Civic Arts Center in Thousand Oaks. For years my kids have been trying to get me to see this musical, but I figure something I wouldn’t have in my house what with the shedding and the hairballs, I certainly wouldn’t pay good money to see on the stage.

    The show had actors as big cats, crawling across the stage and licking themselves, singing songs I never heard before except for “Memories,” but not the Barbra Streisand one; that was “The Way We Were.”

    Luckily, Adele and I sat on the aisle, so when they had the special extended intermission for all us seniors, we made a beeline for the ladies’ room, which was already crowded. As soon as I got in a stall, the toilet flushed itself like it had a mind of its own. I got so fartootst I could barely do my business. Then the worst happened. I got up, and the toilet wouldn’t flush again. There’s no handle because it’s automatic. So I bounced around a little, hoping it would get the idea. Nothing. So I backed over it and swung from side to side. Still nothing.

    Now I was in such a panic. I couldn’t very well leave and let the next person see my business in there, so I paced back and forth, hoping all of a sudden an idea would hit me.

    There was a rap at the door and an “Are you all right in there?” I opened it to see none other than TV star Bonnie Franklin , of “One Time or Another,” the show with the two wisecracking daughters and the shnorrer handyman. For her age she looks good, though she’s still cross-eyed, and from the facelifts, bug-eyed like the meshuga runaway bride, but she’s very nice. We left the stall, then marched right back in, and miracle of miracles, the toilet flushed. For this I have to thank Bonnie Franklin .

    I've said enough already.

    Grandma's Gossip Column courtesy of Rick Detorie's Commonwealth Newsletter, Venice, California

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    Sunday, August 14, 2005

    My Next Project .....

    I have so many projects on the "needles" waiting to be finished and yet I'm already thinking about the next project! Oh well it's only my hobby and there are no rules here. Knitters have different styles, some are horrified when I tell them that I may have as many as 5 to 10 projects in the works. Sometimes I finish them but other times I change my mind and "Frog" them (unravel) and start all over. I just like to knit and somehow tearing a project apart does not bother me in the least.

    I know a lady who is so "in a box" as opposed to myself so "outside of the box" that she does not buy any yarn or thinks about any other projects until she is finished with the one she is working on. That is fine for her, if it "sails your boat" do it. Myself, lots of projects, lots of yarn sometimes chaotic sometimes very organized.

    So here are my choices:

    Hanne Falkenberg design, small needles lots of stitches will take a long time. Right off the top it calls for 420 stitches to cast on.... but one row will take forever! But it looks beautiful.

    Another choice:

    Lots of colors, I love the Western feel.

    Got to go now I'm felting another fabulous bag!

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    Freeform Knitting

    Should I have taken a class?
    I started this project after seeing a sample at one of my LYS. The minute I looked at Prudence Mapstone's book and pictures of her beautiful work I was intrigued. I wanted to do that. It seemed right up my alley, I hate following a pattern I'm sort of the free spirit kind of knitter, even if I do try to follow patterns I always tweak them a bit. So this style of knitting seemed like a good way to go. Besides all those odds and ends that I have saved, at last a project to use them up.

    The class was on a Saturday and they promised I would:
    Learn how easy it is to combine simple knitting and crochet stitches in a multi-directional manner.
    Make samples and patches that you can join together to create your own exciting freeform fabrics.
    Your fabric can be made to whatever size and shape you desire, and could eventually become anything from a wearable-art garment to a unique home decorator item.
    Participants must know basic knitting and crochet techniques.

    Students will need to bring assorted knitting needles and crochet hooks and a wide selection of many different yarns, plus scissors. For best results, choose yarns in colors that you feel will go well together, and in a wide variety of different thicknesses, textures and fiber contents.

    Price: $200.00
    Prudence Mapstone is teaching the class.
    These are some of the pictures that inspired me. The woman even does Umbrellas.... how could I resist?

    Why is she climbing up the wall? Maybe she is just so thrilled with the sweater or maybe she' trying to get away.
    How could I resist!

    But $200 dollars? And spending several hours of my Saturday. And they are not even supplying the yarn?
    I thought $200 dollars would buy plenty of beautiful yarn and I could just look at the pictures and go at it.
    I bought the book. I think that cost me $30 bucks.

    Go at it I did, but I ran out of speed and 3/4 done I look at it once in a while and put it away again. In the interim I've changed styles and I don't like all the yarn and and and..... Well maybe this will inspire me to finish this project, at least make a vest out of it. At first I was going to make sleeves too but that seems too ambitious.

    Thursday, August 11, 2005

    Felted bag "Zita"

    This is a felted purse I made and have decided to name it "Zita". It's very comfortable to wear and the colors work really well together. The lime green with the deep maroon and the tiny dot of yellow in the flower turned out well.


    My mother used to tell me that she first got the buttons, then got yarn and a project to match her buttons and yarn. Backwards maybe but sometimes I see her point.

    Of course she did not have the selection and sources that I'm lucky to have. We lived in Budapest. But collecting buttons stuck with me. I inherited her collections and her compulsion to collect buttons. To my surprise I too have started projects with buttons picked out first. Go figure!

    Not too long ago my 24 year old son was visiting and I was in the middle of sorting/looking/playing with my buttons and the phone rang so I left the room when I got back there he was sorting my buttons. It was kind of funny to see this grown man playing around with my buttons. He remembered some of the buttons from his grandmother, she used to let him play with them when he was little. It was a sweet memory.

    Too many buttons in my collection, how big is your button collection?

    All this talk about buttons I started to organize my button collection and I can't believe how many I have. I think it's time to thin it out and STOP collecting.

    I think the knitting ladies at the senior center will be thrilled with my new donation, buttons.

    What is it about buttons that so fascinates? They are fun.

    Take a look at my collection

  • Check Out My Button Collection Blog: BananaButtons
  • Time to visit the "Fly Lady"

    The 27-Fling Boogie

    We do this assignment as fast as we can. Take a garbage bag and walk through your home and throw away 27 items. Do not stop until you have collected all 27 items. Then close the garbage bag and pitch it. DO NOT LOOK IN IT!!! Just do it.

    Next, take an empty box and go through your home collecting 27 items to give away. Suze Orman taught me this in her book, The Courage to be Rich. This will change the energy in your home and bring about good feelings. Every time I do this I feel better and my home is becoming decluttered in the process. As soon as you finish filling the box, take it to the car. You are less tempted to rescue the items.

    Rule of thumb: if you have two of any item and you only need one, get rid of the least desirable.

    I also sing a wonderful song as I am doing this fun job: "Please Release Me, Let Me Go" as sung from the stuff's point of view.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    They think of everything

    What do you think this is?

    An English design graduate has created a device to help knitters keep track of the number of stitches they have knitted.
    Rebecca Spender's "KnitWit" device automatically counts the number of stitches in each row by detecting the movement of the knitting needles.

    The project was her final-year assignment for a product design degree at Brunel University in west London.

    Inspired by her grandmother and aunt, both of whom are keen knitters, Spender wanted to create something to help eliminate mistakes, which can ruin a design.

    The knitting needles are fitted with a tiny 5mm x 5mm "accelerometer" motion sensor chip, which uses the Earth's gravity to monitor the tilt or angle of the needles.

    Manual counters currently on the market can monitor the number of rows knitted but because a button has to be reset after a row is complete, the knitter can forget and the device becomes useless.

    Shadow Knitting Small Needles and it's taking forever....

    My "shadow knitting" project. Shadow Knitting by Vivian Høxbro

    Almost there, it's taking a while made of shetland 2 ply wool on size 3 needles. At one point I'm working with 370 stitches! Shish. I love the look but it is tedious.

    This is the picture from the book of what the finished project is supposed to look like.

    Tuesday, August 09, 2005

    Cheap Yarn Beautiful Project....

    This is a project I made from a cotton Boucle I bought at Newtons Yarns, Anaheim, California And by the way Newtons is giving away FREE yarn! It is for real!

    I posted this on the Knitters Review Forum and boy oh boy, there was a lot of skeptics. But it is for real Norman Newton is giving away yarn, he is trying to clear his warehouse and rather than throwing it away he thought he would just give it to yarnaholics.

    A lot of people on the forum thought it was a scam. I have been to Newtons, I wish they were closer to my house, it's about an hour drive to Anaheim from Venice Beach (depending on traffic) but then again if I was closer I would have more yarn than I already have, there is no more room at my house.

    So the reason I posted this project so people could see and example of some of the yarn that I have gotten in the past from Newtons. This was not free but cheap.

    The whole cone of 2.5 pounds cost me about 6 dollars. I loved the color and the feel. It's very soft and easy to wear. I get lots of compliments when I wear this one. Because it's cotton it's a good summer sweater. Now that I'm looking at it I'm inspired to make another.

    The pattern is my design. The technique: machine knitted panels and picked up stitches and hand knit some of the trim and then crochet the rest. I just sort of started and built it as I went along. When I felt like crochet I did and when I felt like hand knitting I did. I'm pleased with the outcome.

    The broche is Recycled bakelite. This artist takes older costume jewelry and makes new costume jewelry. Unfortunately I have forgotten her name I would love to get more of this stuff, this is one of my favorites.

    Let me know how you like it.


    It's just like exercise, it's really good for you but nobody likes it. I personally hate making a test gauge I always think I can eyeball it. Well that system works sometimes but not every time. So "Rippit" lots of "Frogging" going on, but I just like the process and I don't know why but it does not bother me at all to rip a piece if it does not look right. A lot of hit and miss goes on, but there are some lucky accidents too. With all that said the bottom line is making a test swatch is absolutely necessary when following a written pattern as opposed to "knitting by the seat of your pants" to quote a friend from LYS. (Local Yarn Store for those who do not speak initials)

    I machine knit as well as hand knit and when machine knitting it really is a must to do a test swatch. In machine knitting they suggest to cast on 40 stitches and 50 rows. Then to remove the cast on and pull and tug into shape and allow the square to "rest" and "relax" for a few hours. The poor yarn is in a state of shock after yanking it through those machine needles! If you prefer steam it or wash it so if there is any shrinking you will know. So in hand knitting I always knit 20 stitches by at least 20 rows. But the ruler thing makes sense I usually use the handy little Susan Bates "knit-check" Then measure for gauge, Elizabeth Zimmerman told me to always use a ruler when checking for gauge rather than a tape measure. She seems to think that it is more exact when a ruler is placed on the knitted piece rather then tape measure which can stretch a bit or move around. Also always measure in the middle of the swatch rather then the edges.

    Converting a Pattern to fit to your gauge.

    If the gauge you took is exactly what the pattern calls for go at it, start knitting. But if it does not match but you love the look and satisfied with the needle you chose you can convert the pattern. Here is how:

    Simply divide the gauge you got by the gauge given in the pattern. For example suppose your gauge is 18 stitches to 4" but the pattern calls for 22 stitches to 4" Get your handy dandy calculator and 18:22=0.82

    The pattern calls for 110 stitches with the 22 stitches = 4" and you are going to have 18 stitches = 4" so you need to cast on less than 110 stitches. By multiplying 0.82x110=90 you get 20 fewer stitches. So you cast on 90 stitches.

    Monday, August 08, 2005

    Weekend Happenings........

    Went to a "flea market" my husband is an avid collector and I just tag along. I do ask him not to buy anything that does not fit in his pocket, I don't care how much he spends but we have no more room at the house for anything but more yarn that is!

    About an hour south from where we are so it's giving me lots of time knitting while he is driving. This way I miss the "terror" of his driving. Not that he is a bad driver but he loves to "muscle" his muscle car. If you know what I mean. But I digress...

    There was my favorite button lady and she says Oh I'm so glad to see you I've been saving these just for you! They are YOU!

    Right she was.

    Now what project .... they are just spiffy. She was right I do love them and bought them without a bat of an eyelash.

    How old is Mike Love?

    Saw him on the Today Show this morning and was shocked! I think we are the same age, he went to my High School! Shish it's my birthday today and I did not need this vision. He looked like he is going on 100 and not in his 60's. But at least he is alive!

    How much "work" did he have done? He had some kind of shiny oil or gel all over his face as if he had some kind of acid peel or something. Oh my, that old saying that you are as old as you feel is bull. He may feel like he's still young but he does not sound or look it. Time to retire this Beach "Boy".

    Friday, August 05, 2005

    My own design...

    Acrylic yarn and my own design (well it's not rocket science). Just started knitting and it grew from there. This is one of the first machine knitting efforts. The bulk of it is knitted on the machine and the trim is hand knit & crochet.

    I took this one over to my favorite Local Yarn Store: Stitches from the Heart in Santa Monica, California....

    ...and somebody actually liked it enough to buy it.

    The detail:

    Thursday, August 04, 2005

    I make shawls too...

    Last year I made one too many scarfs (I'm not sure if that is correct spelling but you know what I mean) so I took some of them apart and made this shawl.

    It's a totally recycled shawl, the brown Peruvian wool was a crochet shawl and when my husband made a remark that it looked like a fish net, I took it apart. Here is what came out and the bonus was that I got to use some of my pearl buttons and it fits this project perfectly.

    Close up of the buttons....

    And the back view...

    Mango Moon Vest...

    My Mango Moon Vest, this is a wonderful wear. It feels soft and like a hug. I feel like the spirit of the women who wore the saris and recycled it are around me. It truly feels wonderful. When I first made it and tried it on for the first time I did not want to take it off.

    I added a little "hang up" hook.

    And a scarf to go with it.

    Mango Moon Yarn in recycled silk, ladies in Nepal recycle their saris and spin yarn. Mango Moon Recycled Silk yarn helps women who have been rescued from abusive situations. The women who come to the shelter are able to use their spinning and knitting skills to rebuild their lives, while continuing to care for their children. Proceeds provided a safe shelter, health care, education, and the dignity of financial independence.