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August 31, 2006

Thank you and update

The last few days have been filled with house chores of the bug fighting variety while juggling projects and generally trying to survive the sheer amount of physical work. All this is to say sorry that I haven't been prompt answering emails. A big thank you to all of you who offered advice on handling the striped fabric, fighting the wretched bugs, filling pin cushions, and so on. Thank you!

Some random updates:
I missed the deadline to order Jamieson & Smith's 2-ply jumper weight shetland yarn before the price increase. I just didn't have the time and the brain to figure out which colors to order.

This Saturday I'll be at a support spindle workshop organized by my spinning guild in Torrance. I've been wanting to learn how to spin on a support spindle for some time and this is a great opportunity, especially since the woman giving the workshop is an excellent teacher. I am really looking forward to this and also carpooling with Theresa who is always fun to be with.

The boys are almost as pooped as I am — though *they* get to relax today — after spending all of yesterday at the vet. They were checked for parasites and given a full spa treatment: shampoo, nails, the works. They smell so nice that I want to bury my face in their bellies. By the time I brought them home last night, the house had been aired, the furniture moved back where it belongs and the big items washed. Today I am washing all the content of the linen closet. Well, almost all, cuz I am not sure there's enough time in a day for all those loads of laundry. But I figured I'd better give that closet a good scrub since the little fuzzballs manage to sneak in there from time to time.

Haven't had any time to practice my quilting stitch or work on the FI sweater. Time considerations aside, I do my craft work on the sofa and, as some of you know, that has been out of bounds for weeks. I hope things get back to normal this weekend.

August 30, 2006

Finding information online - Part 1

I am putting together a few tips on how to do research online for a friend, and thought I'd share them. They are mostly a matter of common sense, but you might find them useful, if only to become more deliberate in your research. Also, don't forget all the ways you can find information OFF line: libraries, friends, experts…

I break down my research process in four parts:

  1. Plan
  2. Refine
  3. Evaluate
  4. Use

although they are not entirely sequential. For instance, evaluating your findings is something you do as you go, since accepting or rejecting a source affects your decision to continue a search.



The most critical bit of your research is defining the problem and formulate a question that will serve as your starting point. Finding information involves searching or exploring, or a hybrid of the two. Searching is indicated when seeking an answer to a specific question, while exploration is a better starting point when you are not quite sure of what you need to find out.

Some examples:

1 - You know what you are looking for and can articulate your question in precise terms (you are searching)

— You are looking for examples of Philosophia Unicase (a typeface) used in printed advertising.
— You are looking for the recipe of a cocktail called Bellini.
— You are looking for the date of birth of Ingrid Bergman.

2 - You have a vague idea of what you need to find out and how to start a generic search (you are half searching, half exploring)

— You are looking for statistical data on Internet start-ups.
— You want to find out about knitting through the ages in Turkey.
— You need to identify a typeface.

3 - You don't know what you need to find out (you are exploring).

— You are trying to stay up-to-date on medical advances relating to child diabetes.
— You've heard about a thing called "wiki" and have no idea what it is.

Recognizing the nature of your inquiry and the extent of your knowledge of the subject helps you choose the most appropriate research tool(s) for the job at hand.


Without getting into options that require payment, such as subscriptions to libraries, databases and clipping services, the most common ways of looking for information online are:
Directories (a.k.a. guides, indexes)
Search engines (a.k.a. spiders, crawlers )

Web directories are human-compiled list of URLs (Internet addresses) arranged thematically for easy browsing. Popular directories are: Yahoo Directory and Open Directory Project.
Directories are useful for browsing.

Search engines are unordered collections of URLs gathered automatically by spiders at regular intervals. These collections are much larger than those of directories and potentially more useful. The downside is that you have to sift through a lot more chaff to get to the gold. Popular search engines are: Google and MSN Search.
Search engines are especially useful for specific inquiries.

Some search engines have a specific focus: Technorati and Bloglines are for blogs, WebMD for medical information, CitySearch for local searches, Google Scholar for scholarly literature, and so on.

You could think of the difference between directory and search engine as that between table of contents and index in a book. If you were to look for a broad topic in a book, e.g. antipasti in a cookbook, you'd go to the table of content. If you were looking for something specific, e.g. an antipasto called prosciutto e melone, you'd go to the index and scan the alphabetical listing for the word prosciutto or melone, which act as keywords for your search.

Other useful resaerch tools include:
Bulletin boards (a.k.a. message boards, forums)

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia created collaboratively by people from all over the world. The largest portion is in English, but there are sections in other languages — currently 35 — and some of them quite large, as those in German, French and Japanese. Wikipedia is constantly being expanded and reviewed for accuracy and bias, for which it relies on the peer review system. According to a recent study published by the science magazine Nature, Wikipedia's accuracy is comparable to that of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Wikipedia is great when you need an overview of a subject, even a complex one, such as psychology.

Bulletin boards are fabulous when you are looking for advice that does not require authority. For instance, you are caring for a disabled person and are looking for advice on how to cope. A dedicated bulletin board can offer you a way to compare notes with other people in your situation. It can put you in touch with people in your local community and recommend resources. As a knitter, I use bulletin boards to exchange information on knitting techniques, yarn shops, and the like.


Let's say you are writing a mystery book and you want to find a slow-acting poison that is untraceable or traceable only with great difficulty. Let's assume you know little about poisons. Here are some possible research strategies (but don't let this stop you from coming up with more).

A) Look for someone who has already done the research for you. Other writers have been in your position. There must be advice already compiled and available online. Professional writers' associations, forums for amateur writers… The web has been around long enough that the odds of someone having researched, found, and compiled the information you are after are in your favor.

Think about who else might be interested in this kind of information and why.
Who may want to know about untraceable poisons in order to:
a) Use them: researchers, doctors, killers…
b) Recognize them: doctors, pathologists, forensic experts, detectives…
c) Avoid them: parents, pet owners, hazard workers…

You could run a search for "mystery writers resources untraceable poisons" or "forensic expert training untraceable poisons" or "treating victims unknown poison" and so on. You get the idea. The possible paths to your destination are limited only by your resourcefulness.

B) Do your own research and come up with your own answer. Possible reasons to follow this route:
— You'll gain more knowledge of the subject in general.
— You may get original results.
— You'll be exposed to incidental information and pick up lateral insights.
— You'll increase your chances to find out something interesting or relevant by serendipity.

First, you need to familiarize yourself with the basics. Let's see what we can find on Wikipedia. Perfect: an entry on poison, with a good introduction and links to lots of sources. Once you've familiarized yourself with the basics and the appropriate terminology, you are on your way to dig into the subject.


– If you speak another language, try running your search also in that language. Most likely, you'll find more information available in English than in other languages, but if you are researching 16th century philosophy in Europe, you might be better off doing your research in German. And if you are interested in Italian cuisine, guess how you'll find the authentic stuff?

I am running out of steam and this seems a good place to stop.
Look for Part 2 in a couple of weeks or so.

August 29, 2006

Secret Pal is wrapping up

  I sent my last package to Rosie today. Actually, one small thing dind't fit in the padded envelope and the post office didn't have a box of appropriate shape and size, so I'll have to mail that separately. But we are at the end. It's been great fun.

I have so thoroughly enjoyed Secret Pal 8 that I don't think I want to try my luck with SP 9. Too soon. I am convinced that I couldn't possibly be as lucky again. I've been delighted with both my matches: Rosie in Cambridge, UK, and Rachele (mostly) in Hokkaido, Japan. Rosie was my assignment and Rachele my secret pal. I hope we'll stay in touch beyond SP8.

August 28, 2006

Mighty mites

We bombed, we fogged, we washed, we bleached, we sprayed, we prayed. The torture has been ongoing since April. If this doesn't work, I swear I'll get rid of the sofas, at least the big one, since it seems to be the focus loci of the infestation.

After the professional pest control intervention, we had a week's respite from insect bites, I suspect mostly because during that week we were too busy to sit on the sofa. As soon as I spent a couple of hours knitting there, I got ravaged again. Here we are, in the 21st century, being beaten up by invisible bugs.

This time, we gathered the sofas and other compromised items in the dining room, sealed the room and set off a fogger. The job took almost four hours, between swapping furniture between dining room and living room and sealing the room — which has two door openings but no doors — as hermetically as possible. We had to do it that way because the logistics of closing off the living room would have been even more complicated. We'll keep everything closed until tomorrow morning, then air the room for a few hours and do another round of fogging tomorrow night. Then take the cats to get a medicated bath on Wednesday while we wash all the sofa covers, beddings and more; probably two days of non-stop laundry. We've been doing this every other weekend for the past four months. This thing has taken over our lives. Wish us luck.

August 26, 2006

Quail pincushion

Since someone almost destroyed the chicken pincushion I bought at Fabulous Fiber Fest (bad kitty, bad!), I decided to make me a new one. First, I had to reverse engineer the model, so I used some sacrificial muslin to figure out pattern and size.

And here is my chunky little quail.

I am actually rather pleased with it. The eyes are kind of funky and the filling took a lot of massaging and still she's rather lumpy bumpy, but she's cute in a rustic kind of way. I've decided that I don't like the polyester filling and I'm going to look for something different for my next stuffed projects. I also think that I should have added something heavier to the filling because she is not grounded. Suggestions anyone?


  The elliptical machine finally came and we spent last night assembling it. We were told it would take about an hour. Well, it didn't. It took both of us from 9:45PM to 0:45AM and that after we had already unboxed all the components, quite a job in itself with everything fitting very tightly as in a a three-dimensional puzzle.

The boys had a grand time through the whole event, especially the opening and de-puzzling of the box.

Cursory instructions and inaccurate legend made it harder than it should have been. But here it is. Medames et monsieurs: je vous présent the big thing in our bedroom.

We were so fried last night and early this morning that we still haven't even tried it. Today is half work and half errands, but I'll step on it before the day is over.

August 25, 2006


  Yesterday was a big day for postcards. The one on the left is Volcán Chimborazo in Ecuador and is from my friend Giorgio who went on a four-week trip to South America. To think that when I was in Italy I had six weeks vacations a year plus national holidays and almost unlimited sick days. Why, oh why, did I ever leave?

The one in the middle is from Rosie — my secret pal buddy in Cambridge, UK. She is off to the moors and seaside on the North York coast. I love the picture and I get to see knitwear, too. The postcard ont he right is from Robin — my brother — who spent a couple of weeks in Turkey with his family.

I want to go on a trip, too!

August 23, 2006


Today I washed the fabric I bought over the weekend at Fabulous Fiber Fest and learned a few things in the process.

1) Bad idea to throw 20+ small pieces of fabric in the washer at the same time. When I got them out, they were more tangled up than Medusa's hair. No kidding; I had to cut threads and disintangle the various pieces forever.

I read somewhere that you should trim the borders of your fabric with pinking shears before washing. That might work, but to trim all those tiny pieces would have taken just as long as it did to disintangle and trim them afterwards. No? But, unless I hear of other ways to prevent this, I guess I'll get myself a pair of pinking shears.

2) There has to be a trick about ironing that I don't know about. Someone send me that memo, please. Most of my fabric pieces are striped and very light fabric. Ironing them distorted the stripes. What should I have done? And how will this affect whatever I want to make out of those pieces?

I think part of the problem is that the pieces are very small. I thought they were squares, but they are actually long rectangles and I think that makes them more prone to distortion. I sure hope there's a quick fix that doesn't involve rewashing and especially re-ironing the whole lot.

August 22, 2006

Dialetto romagnolo

  Ultimamente mi è venuta la voglia di imparare il dialetto romagnolo come si deve. Dico come si deve, perchè capire lo capisco, ma non l'ho mai parlato sul serio. Un po' quando andavo a vendemmiare, sì, però facevo ridere i polli.

Lately, I've been toying with the idea of learning romagnolo dialect for real. I say for real, because I do understand it, but have never really spoken it. When I used to go grape picking in my late teens, I would speak a little dialect with the farmers and the other hired hands, but I was rather bad.

Mia madre ha fatto un po' di ricerca a Ravenna e mi ha mandato alcuni libri. Pare che anche in Romagna non si trovi molto materiale didattico per chi voglia imparare il romagnolo.

My mother did some looking around for me in Ravenna and found a few books. As it turns out, even in Romagna there isn't much literature for someone wanting to learn the romagnolo dialect. Quite a shame.

Il Vocabolario Romagnolo Italiano della Zanichelli, pubblicato nel 1996, ha 35.000 voci. Chi l'avrebbe mai detto? Ma 'sti buzzurri hanno pubblicato un mezzo dizionario, solo dal romagnolo all'italiano. E l'altra metà, dall'italiano al romagnolo, dov'è? Um pê d'sugnêr. Comunque il materiale è buono e contiene moltissimi esempi d'uso e note contestuali.

The Vocabolario Romagnolo Italiano published by Zanichelli in 1996 has 35,000 entries. Who would have thought? But they published only half a dictionary: Romagnolo to Italian. What about the other half, Italian to Romagnolo? The material is good, though, with lots of examples and contextual notes.

Vocabolario Romagnolo Italiano
Adelmo Masotti
Zanichelli Editore
ISBN 88-08-17352-6

Questa grammatica sembra scritta da un linguista per altri linguisti, per cui non è esattamente di facile lettura. Per di più, le scelte tipografiche e l'impaginazione rendono la lettura alquanto difficile. Comunque è meglio di niente e qua a Los Angeles non si trova proprio nulla del genere. Grazie mamma!

This grammar seems written by a linguist for other linguists, so it's not exactly an easy read. To make things worse, the book designer made some poor typographic and layout choices, aggravating the problem. Still, it's better than nothing and in Los Angeles I can't find anything at all on this subject. Thanks, mom!

Grammatica Romagnola
Adelmo Masotti
Edizioni del Girasole
ISBN 88-7567-351-9

Questo è il mio preferito fra i libri che ho appena ricevuto. È una collezione di proverbi romagnoli e non appena ho cominciato a sfogliarlo, mi son tornate in mente cose che avevo dimenticato da anni. Tipo… L'aqua la mêrza al budël e L'ora de' quajòn la vèn par tot.

This is my favorite among the books I received today. It's a collection of proverbs and as soon as I started leafing through it, I was taken back in time. Romagnolo is a very colorful language and I love it.

Proverbi Romagnoli
Aldo Spallicci
Giunti Gruppo Editoriale
ISBN 88-09-20832-3

Sono proprio contenta di avere questi libri. Magari non imparerò a parlare il romagnolo, ma almeno mi ritornerà in mente quello che sapevo.

I am so happy to have these books. They may not help me learn to speak my dialect, but they'll at least help me recover what I've forgotten.

Crafty postcards

  Yesterday's mail brought my first order from Wee Wonderfuls: a sewing pattern, a pack of postcards and some stickers. All cuter than the cutest Japanese stuff. I can't wait to start sending the postcards.

August 21, 2006

Quilting baby steps

When I went over to Pamela's on Sunday, I didn't just get help with my sweater steeks. I also got a primer on the quilting stitch. I can tell you already that I don't have a natural knack for it and it's going to be hard.

I don't like it when I can't do something right on the first try. There is an obvious disconnect here between what my brain wants and what my hand can do.

After showing me how to transfer a pattern and do the quilt stitch, Pam sent me home with hoop, thimble, thread, a few needles and three quilting books. What more can a girl ask for?

I already started reading one of the books: That Perfet Stitch. It's really very good. It goes into great detail on everything you need to know to hand quilt, from choosing your fabric, batting, needles, and thimble to the details of hand stitching broken down in all its steps. Oh yeah, why make things easy for myself? I am going to hand quilt, what the heck. It's probably for the same reason that I prefer spindle spinning to spinning on a wheel. I can do it anywhere, anytime. If I learn to hand quilt, I can do it sitting on the sofa. Sofas are good; just ask Kelvin and Piper. Sofas are up there with grilled salmon, roast chicken and catnip toys. Which reminds me… time for some quality time with my sofa now. Ta-ta.

August 20, 2006

I cut it!

I cut the steeks of my first stranded color sweater. With help from Pamela (she even offered to open a bottle of wine to ease the shock, but I had to drive), I machine sewed the steeks and then cut them.




Now I need to pick up the armhole stitches and knit the sleeves from the top down. I am finally excited again about this sweater. What with the unbearably hot weather and getting stuck a couple of time (thanks Pam!), I haven't really worked on it in quite a while.

August 19, 2006

My loot

  Here's my loot from Fabulous Fiber Fest.

I love these striped fabrics. Azabu-ya only had fat quarters for these fabrics at the show (they had plenty of fabric by the yard, just not these ones). Fortunately, they also sell them by the yard in their store so now I know where to get fabrics I like.

I had to get some Japanese looking fabrics as well.

Plus the cutest pin cushion — that came all the way from Guatemala — and some quilting thread from New Moon Textiles

Fabulous Fiber Fest

  This morning I headed down to Santa Monica's Fabulous Fiber Fest with Una and Theresa.

Outside the building were several spinners and an area with alpaca crias. This baby was feeding from a bottle while two black crias were feeding on grass in an enclosure.

Cute, well-behaved and with the daintiest eyelashes and toenails.

This year my focus was all on textiles, so I didn't take many pictures of yarn or spinning fiber, but I could't resist Trish Andersen's yarns. I ran into Trish at a bead vendor where she was looking for beads to incorporate into a new line of pure cashemere yarn she is about to launch. Her yarns (Tanglewood Fiber Creations) are as soft and lovely to the touch as they are beautiful to look at. No website yet, but it's coming soon.

Several bead vendors.

Some beautiful jewelry.

Ah, the beautiful fabrics! I had been looking for great plaids and striped fabrics for a while and today, finally, I found them at Azabu-ya.

Many stunning quilts on display throughout the show.

Many wowen items, as well.

Unfortunately, Habu Textiles was missing this year, but maybe that's just as well, because I didn't have the budget for their line of yarns.

This was really a good day, in very good company — I also ran into a lot of friends from my spinning guild — and I bought some fabrics to start my quilting stash. More about that in a moment.

August 17, 2006

Denyse Schmidt Quilts

  I bought this book just for one project, and it's not even a quilt. I do things like that. Fortunately for me, I got more than I bargained for. Once I started reading it, I found that Denyse Schmidt Quilts is really a great book, with a wonderful introductory section on basic sewing (much, much needed for me) and quilting techniques. I haven't had time to start practicing yet, but from what I can tell, everything seems very clearly explained and I am not feeling too apprehensive about trying my first quilting project.

Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects
by Denyse Schmidt
Chronicle Books
ISBN 0811844420

The basics of preparing your patchwork pieces, from cutting to laying out.

After the technique sections, there are ten quilts and twenty other projects including slippers, a quilted handbag, soft toys, and an eye pillow.

This is the culprit. As I laid eyes on "Steve", it was love at first sight. He will be my first patchwork project.

August 16, 2006

Place mats

  Whole Foods has about a dozen different designs in this line of place mats. These are the four that made it home with me.

I love the whimsical illustrations, especially this map of the US.

The illustrator is Aaron Meshon. Check out his portfolio.

The dinos are for Ben. Boys love dinosaurs, even at 35. :)

Elliptical saga

  My brain cells get more exercise than any other part of my body so it's no surprise that I am not exactly in top form. No more! I have decided to get in shape before menopause catches up with me and as part of my plan to decouchpotato myself I've been working out for the past five weeks and watching what I eat for three. I also ordered an elliptical machine from Nordic Track. Ha! The saga began on August 2 with the order. It's a long and frustrating story and I'll spare you the boring details. Just know that, after several scheduled and failed deliveries and dozens of phone calls to Nordic Track and the delivery company (Old Dominion), we finally received our package today.

Et voilà. Ze package. [insert expletives here]

Beyond the obvious visible damage, there was no telling how the delicate electronic components of the machine might have been affected by the mishandling, so we sent it back. A few hours and phone calls later, we have a replacement order and hope to see a new, undamaged machine in a week or so.

I had been expecting this package with such enthusiasm and I have to remind myself to stay motivated. After several weeks of exercising and minding my portions, I think I may have lost a pound. Help!

August 14, 2006

Spoiled again

  Latest package from Japan! My SP sent it before leaving for Stitches Midwest.

A Monokuro Boo pencil case and stickers to go with some of my favorite folders. I may end up using the pencil case for knitting notions; haven't made up my mind yet.

A cute postcard with a sento scene.

Six plastic folders in three designs. I especially like the Halloween maneki-neko. The hiragana folders will be good to remind me of some kana. It's scary how much I have forgotten since I used to study Japanese.

Rubber stamps! I dont' have any rubber stamps and I'd been meaning to get some. The stamp with the dog is really funny and the two lipstick-shaped ones have built-in ink so I could try them right away.

Are they adorable or what?

Two notebooks with ready-to-cut custom bookmarks.

And — I can hardly believe it — my SP told me to expect a 4th package! :)


August 13, 2006

Sunday trip

  This afternoon Theresa saved me from yet another day at the computer. We drove together to Stick and Stone Fiber Arts, where I hadn't been in a while. It was a pleasant afternoon of knitting and chatting and looking at the new arrivals.

I took a lot of pictures, but quite a few turned out blurry. I really need to get myself a tripod.

Lots and lots of fiber. I especially like the luxury fibers in natural colors.

There was yak down, a favorite of mine, in moka and cream (I am sure they're called differently, but you get the idea).

Others were: Mongolian cashmere, merino blends, many shades of alpaca and baby alpaca. Lots of colored fiber, too, but those are the pictures that came out blurry.

More wheels than I remember from my previous visits, plus weaving and tapestry looms,

New this time, an enormous selection of cotton cones for weavers. This picture is only a small part of what was in the store. Theresa, being the creative experimental person that she is, bought a big bundle of cotton in very bright green that she's going to ply with other fibers. I am curious to see what she comes up with.

And this is a bag made by Janel with different kinds of fibers, including a rayon that seems very suitable for kumihimo and cording. Theresa got some of that, too, for another plying experiment.

She also lusted after this drum carder, but behaved herself… for now.

Book index

Since I am starting to have a lot of book entries, I thought I'd create a master list of all the books to make them easier to find. This will be work in progress. If you spot any mistake or typo, please let me know. Grazie!



  A Peaceable Kingdom: The Shaker Abecedarius
Illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen
ISBN 0140503706


  Designing Tessellations : The Secrets of Interlocking Patterns
by Jinny Beyer
ISBN 0809228661

ISBN 4-344-90083-9


Embroidery Designs
72 pages
by 大塚 あや子, ワンダフル
ISBN 4-277-37012-8

Embroideries on Linen
ISBN 4-579-11088-9

  Initial & Monogram
ISBN 4-579-11034-X

Monogrammatic Embroidery by Calligraphy
by 真喜子, 小田原
73 pages
Published: 2006/9
ISBN-13: 978-4277370073
ASIN: 4277370071

  One & Only
ISBN 4-09-310377-1

  刺しゅうで描くまいにち—Simple Stitch Life
Simple Stitch Life
ISBN 4-579-11103-6

  Small Embroidery
ISBN 4-14-031141-X

  The Constance Howard Book of Stitches
ISBN 0-7134-8938-3

Tiny Garden
by 和子, 青木
83 pages
Published: 2004/03
ISBN-13: 978-4277311441
ASIN: 427731144X


  Simple zakka and bag of felt wool
Publisher Ondori
ISBN 4-277-43072-4

  Handmade Felt
ISBN 4-579-10798-5

  Handmade Felt (My Felted Bags)
ISBN 4-579-10891-4

  Small articles made of wool felt
ISBN 4-309-28044-7


300 Knitting Patterns
ISBN 4529020711

Clear and Simple Knitting Symbols
ISBN 452902413X / 9784529024136

Fair Isle Knitting
by 勝子, 阪場
ISBN-13: 978-4835579191
ASIN: 4835579194

  新 棒針あみ―よくわかるセーター作りの基礎
Hand Knitting Techniques Book
Paperback, 82 pages
Language: Japanese
ISBN-10: 4529029271
ISBN-13: 9784529029278

  Håndplagg til Bunader og Folkedrakter
(Hand Coverings for National and Folk Costumes)
by Heidi Fossnes
ISBN 82-496-0187-4

From an actual knitting class
by 千枝, 小瀬
104 pages
ISBN 4579111125

  Three-cornered and Long Shawls
Three-cornered and Long Shawls
by Sigríður Halldórsdóttir
78 pages
language: Icelandic
ISBN 9979-70-032-7

Knitted Accessories from Scandinavia
by 嶋田 俊之 (著)
88 pages
ISBN 4-529-04140-9

  Knitting Nature
by Norah Gaughan
ISBN 1584794844

  More Sweaters: a riot of color, pattern, and form
by Lise Kolstad & Tone Takle
ISBN 0-934026-99-8

Nordic Knitting: Ten fabuluous techniques
ISBN 4-579-11118-4

  Norsk Strikkedesign: A Collection from Norway's Foremost Knitting Designers
by Margaretha Finseth
ISBN 1893063011

  Poetry in Stitches
by Solveig Hisdal
ISBN 82-517-8435-2

  Shadow Knitting
by Vivian Høxbro
ISBN 1931499411

  はじめての手あみ手袋とくつ下―今年の冬こそチャレンジ ミトン・5本指の手袋・くつ下
Start Series - Gloves
ISBN 4-529-03844-0
50 pages


(shiro neko kun = the white kitty)
ISBN 4-09-727511-9

  The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language
by John McWhorter
Harper Collins
ISBN 0-06-052085-X


  Amy Butler's In Stitches: More Than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing Projects
by Amy Butler
Chronicle Books
ISBN 0811851591

  Aranzi Aronzo
ISBN 4-579-10921-X

Darning Notebook
by 勝屋 まゆみ
ISBN-10 4579111273
ISBN-13 9784579111275

  Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects
by Denyse Schmidt
ISBN 0811844420

  Kawaii Mochimono
by Aranzi Aronzo
ISBN 4-579-11076-5

  Quilts of Provence: The Art and Craft of French Quiltmaking
by Kathryn Berenson
ISBN 0-9724369-0-1

Sew and Knit Linen
ISBN 4-89396-901-3


  内田彩仍さんのちょっとだけおめかし。私の暮らし—Dear,sweet home
Dear, Sweet Home
ISBN 4-391-62192-4

  Handmade bag and zakka of natural cord
ISBN 4-277-43052-X

August 12, 2006

In Stitches

  I just got Amy Butler's In Stitches and love it already. Having only recently taken up sewing, I find myself at a loss trying to do the simplest things. Yes, I can put together a needle case for my circulars, but so far I am one-trick pony. Someone else figured out the pattern and measurements for me and showed me how to do everything, step-by-step. Now I want to make other things and until now I hadn't found a book with a good variety of projects — easy to intermediate — in a modern style. The problem with a lot of the books I see at the local bookstore is that they show projects I wouldn't want to make. In Stitches is just what I needed. And having said that, I am sure I'll proceed to embarass myself by goofing on the next thing I attempt, but it's ok. At least now I have the inspiration.

Amy Butler's In Stitches: More Than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing Projects
by Amy Butler
Chronicle Books
ISBN 0811851591


  1. Introduction
  2. Fabrics
  3. Living Room Projects
    - Decorative Patchwork Throw
    - Floor Cushions
    - Kitty Tunnel
    - Big Dot Pillow, Round Ruffle Pillow, Pom-Pom Pillow
  4. Kitchen Projects
    - Placemats & Napkins
    - Giftable Recipe Card Bags
    - Short Pleated Apron
    - Square Pot Holder
  5. Bedroom Projects
    - Patchwork Duvet Cover
    - Bedside Organizer
    - Wide-Leg Lounge Pants
    - Sleeping Mask
  6. Bathroom Projects
    - Kimono-Style Bathrobe
    - Hanging Toiletry Basket
    - Oversized Laundry Bag
    - Decorative Hanging Towels
  7. Office Projects
    - CD Holder and Desktop Organizer
    - Document Duvet and Photo File
    - Fashion Checkbook Clutch
  8. Personal Style Projects
    - Clutch Handbag with Fabric Flower
    - Sash with Beaded Fringe
    - Simple Leather-Handled Shoulder Bag
    - Patchwork Handbag with Zipper Charm
  9. Simple Techniques and Basic Equipment
  10. Resource Guide
  11. Index

And here are some spreads from the book.

Added 13 August 2006

I forgot to mention that you can see all of Amy's fabrics at Amy Butler Design and find online shops that carry her line along with other fabrics and notions at Where to buy.

Little pleasures

Today was mostly disappointing. Some work to do after all — I had hoped on a whole weekend without work — and I missed a spin-in I had been looking forward to so I could be home for a big delivery that never happened. After I was told to be home between 8AM and 5PM, they didn't show up! Grrr fzzz sprww&#@!

But I did carve out some little pleasures for myself. Ran to Trader Joe's for some grocery shopping and bought a lavander plant and a small vase of ornamental oregano. Very pretty.

And then I treated myself to Amy Butler's new book: In Stitches. More about that later.

August 11, 2006

What a day

We finally called pest control, and not a moment too early. We've been battling mites (I think) since late April. At first we thought it was fleas, even though we've never seen a flea in this house and the boys are strictly indoor cats. So we did major laundry, treated the cats with Advantage and hoped for the best. It's been three and a half months of intensive laundry work and constant torture for me including not being able to sleep at night because of the bites. Why did I wait so long to call pest control? Hm, sharp as a tack, I suppose. But this past week has been utterly unbearable (can I say that? is there a degree of unbearability?). So the guy came, sprayed, sprayed and sprayed some more, then placed three boxes with bait in strategic positions under the house for the rats. Ah yes, we've got those, too. And he found two ant nests as well. Don't you love nature?

Well, we do love it, actually. It's the reason we fell in love with this old house: character and trees all around. And we get interesting nocturnal visitors. Most frequently it's raccoons, but the other night we got a skunk. A rather unpleasant sounding name for such a pretty creature. We've got quite a few in the neighborhood, to the point that walking in the evening can be a challenge for sensitive nostrils. I wouldn't want them gone, though. I wish I had time to take a photo the other night; the skunk was showing off her tail while staring at Kelvin and Piper through the dining room's floor-to-ceiling window. Referring to animals as he or she is a habit I can't shake. Every name in Italian has an assigned gender so, regardless of the skunk's actual gender, any skunk is called puzzola, which is feminine (la puzzola).

Today is all about the bugs. I've been doing laundry since 9AM and it won't be over until tonight. I am washing all the beddings, sofa covers (one regular and one giant sofa), cushions, towels and more. To be on the safe side, I also bombed the bedroom with one of those foggers. I can smell the stuff and feel my eyes itching all the way to my office… guess the towels under the door didn't do much to seal off the room. I sure hope this pays off. I haven't dared to sit on the sofa since Sunday because that's where I got most of my bites, so all my evenings this week have been on the office chair.

Tomorrow will be all about working out. Well, sort of. We ordered an elliptical machine from Nordic Track and it'll be delivered tomorrow. I am really excited about this. Building websites is not exactly an activity that promotes fitness. I am only bummed because almost certainly I'll have to miss a spin-in at Andrea's. We'll see.

And Sunday morning, a friend will show me the basics of quilting. Finally, a *whole* weekend without work!

August 10, 2006

Flight woes

My brother is stranded in Turkey — his return flight to London cancelled — trying to get a flight to France and then cross the Channel by ferry or via the Channel Tunnel. Amid the seriousness of it all, I feel a little selfish worrying about this, but I wonder: will knitting on planes become a thing of the past? So far, I've been able to knit on board using circular needles, but it doesn't look good for knitters now. I really dislike travelling, the getting there and getting back part of it, and knitting or spinning have been the only way to make the long waits in airports and then the long flights bearable.

August 7, 2006

Shetland color cards

  I know… I should be working on my existing projects, but it's fun to think of all the possibilities for after I finish the current sweater. I am definitely going to do another Fair Isle project and I've pretty much decided that next time I'll try Jamieson & Smith's shetland yarn. It comes in so many colors and a lot of them are heathery; something I really like.

This is the J&S color card for the 2-ply jumper weight. Look at all the lovely hues. I wish I had a skein of each color to try out many color combinations.

And this is the color card for Jamieson's shetland yarn in similar weight and a comparable assortment of colors. I'll go with J&S, though, because they are less expensive.

August 4, 2006


The folks at Colourway.co.uk are awesome. I placed an order on Monday, close to end of business day in the UK, and today — Friday — my yarn is already in California. I told them in my order that I was running out of yarn for a work in progress, but forgot to mention dye lots. They immediately emailed me to ask for the dye lots so they could try to match them. And they did, for all the three colors. How good is that?

I love it when I get good service. And this weekend, if the temperature stays the same, I'll finally get back to my Fair Isle sweater.

August 3, 2006

Cast-on tests

I've been experimenting with ways to do a tubular cast-on for 2x2 ribs, with unsatisfactory results. The best I've been able to do so far has been to cast on my usual way (tubular cast-on without the sacrificial yarn) and then switch every other stitch. This is the rather pedestrian result, with slanted stitches.
Anybody got a better idea?

Office boy

I'm going to have to put Kelvin on payroll; he's become quite the office boy lately.

Hard at work testing my notebook.

Quality control is no trifle matter.

You have to test surfaces under a variety of conditions and for an extended period of time.

Can't rush these things. This is only the beginning.

I think the pink side wins hands down.

Tomorrow we'll test the blue and green sheets.