Friday, December 07, 2007

Something different

This is a hat I just made that features some unusual yarn I bought from an online spinner whose work I admire - see link in my sidebar for Handspun Yarns by Juaquetta. I like to buy interesting yarns from other spinners every now and then, and Juaquetta is one of my favorites. The top part of this hat is made from a natural gray wool that's been plied with black thread. It appears that in the plying process bits of random colored commercial wool yarn were joined in.

The hat came out looking sort of like a yarn garden with colored bits popping up all over. I've also used this yarn in a couple of my lumpy knits, but this hat is crocheted. I wanted to post it before it gets sold at one of the holiday craft fairs that are coming up.

Friday, November 23, 2007

My latest extra fancy hat

Well, the freeform crochet hat got sold last week on Telegraph Ave. I kept telling people it wasn't for sale, then made the mistake of quoting a price I was reasonably sure would be more than anybody would want to pay. Big surprise! I had seller's regret for a while. The woman who got it looked really happy, though, so I guess it all worked out OK.

I don't know if I'll make any more, but in the meantime I spun some yarn that's a crazy mixture of wool, silk, mohair, malamute hair and angelina with beads and some lace spun in. Here's the hat I made with it. The back part has locks of fuchsia mohair swirling about. I really like the big turquoise bead. The gray part is plied with some silvery cord, which makes it look very sparkly.

Holiday Fair Schedule

I'm now signed up for four days in the Telegraph Ave. Holiday Street Fair. If it's not raining or too windy, I will be there on the following days:

Saturday, December 15th (Between Channing and Haste, west side, mid-block)

Sunday, December 16 (Probably on the sidewalk at the corner of Channing and Telegraph)

Friday, December 21 (Between Channing and Haste, west side mid-block)

Saturday, December 22 (Near the corner of Channing and Telegraph, west side)

Sunday, December 23 - Have not yet decided if I'll be there or not. Will wait and see how many hats I have left.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Computer Crash

I've had a bad week. Last Monday my computer crashed, and I had to take it into the shop. There I found out that the crash was a result of Norton System Works having taken over my computer and shut it down. There was no way to get in at all. The very excellent tech guy who was working on it spent two days emailing back and forth with Symantec, which is the company that now owns Norton. These people are evil incarnate. Turns out they actually have a "fix" somewhere on their website for what to do when System Works crashes your computer. So they are very well aware of the fact that their software is destroying people's computers, yet they are still selling it. Makes one wonder how they get away with it. Seems like there might be a class action suit going on by now. There were four other computers in the same shop where I took mine, all with Norton related crashes. Anyhow, the fix didn't work, nor did any of their other suggestions.

Well, long story short, they did finally retrieve most of my data, and I'm now spending this week sorting out the jumble of files I've got all over the place on my computer. I now have a different virus protection program, which I'm told works very much like Norton used to, back when it was a very excellent and well respected program (ie. before Symantec got hold of it). I asked the scummers for a refund, and guess what? - they said their system was not programmed to do that!

Apparently this problem is only happening with Norton, so seems to me that getting anything related to Symantec off one's computer would not be a bad idea. Got to be careful about that, though. A simple uninstall leaves bits and pieces behind which have to be removed manually by a techy who knows what they're doing. Otherwise the new virus program will have conflicts with the old one, and while they are fighting it out on your computer, the hackers will be getting in with no problem.

Before all this happened I had taken some photos of some of the yarn I've been making lately for my lumpy knit hats. I've posted some here so it won't look like I've given up fiber art entirely!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Freeform Crochet

I've been out of town, up at my place in the country, where I put together my very first freeform crochet hat! I really like how it came out, though it took hours to make. Definitely not the sort of thing I can do on a regular basis to sell on my website. I also made a very fancy ski cap, which I will post later.

The hat's made from my own handspun, and includes various types of wool, mohair, silk, tencel, and some white malamute hair.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Cats and Spinners

I've been looking at other spinner's blogs and websites and am finding that spinners seem to have a special preference for cats. I haven't yet seen a site that features photos of a pet dog, bird or other animal friend. It's always a cat. Seems that cats and spinners go way back, and I'm not sure why. But, true to form, I too have cats. Only two at present, unfortunately, but perhaps in this case quality makes up for quantity. So, since other spinners are posting pics of their feline friends, I thought maybe I should, too.

So first, but not necessarily best, is Ted. She has a strange dent in her upper lip that gives her a permanent sneer. She also has a 'don't mess with me' attitude to go with it, but is extremely affectionate - and playful, too, if you don't mind getting bitten!

Ted is an originally wild, homeless cat who had been hanging around my cabin way out in the boonies near Ukiah, CA. (See first posts for photos.) Ted is a girl cat, but because ginger colored female cats are rare, and because I thought for a long time that she belonged to a neighbor named Ted, I started calling her by that name. It turned out that the neighbor did have a ginger cat with long hair, but it was a male. Since I don't live up there full time, I only saw this cat intermittently and didn't pay much attention for quite some time. Then one evening after a scorching triple digit day she came right up to my door obviously needing water and food. Of course I obliged with a big bowl of milk and a can of cat food. After making all appropriate inquiries about her possible ownership, I took her in, and brought her back to Berkeley with me. The vet told me she was about 2 years old. This was in the fall of 2006.

Then I took her back up to the country with me and my other cat, Moose. It was a warm, balmy day in April that soon turned freezing cold with gale force winds that lasted for a week. As I was unloading the car when we first arrived and the weather was still reasonable, a very large, strange dog showed up at the door and started to come inside. I yelled at it and finally got it to leave, but in the meantime Ted had run out the back door. Moose was still under the table and hadn't even twitched a whisker.

I called Ted for days, phoned all the neighbors and put up a 'lost cat' note, but no Ted. About a week later, I reluctantly left without her. After a couple more trips up to the cabin and more calling without results, we gave her up for dead or kidnapped. However, we underestimated this tough cat's survival skills. A month later, in late May, we returned to the cabin and found Ted under the house meowing to come in! Wow - what a cat! She's now back in Berkeley, is gradually getting just a bit tamer, and even sleeps on the bed sometimes. She still prefers the backyard, though.

My other cat, Moose, is a whole different story. Moose is about 15 years old, and is part Siamese, though she doesn't look it. She has the yowlish voice though and seems to feel a need to comment on just about everything. Unfortunately Ted has not made friends. At least not yet. Ted seems to view all other animals as a possible threat, and so growls at Moose whenever she comes too close. Moose ignores her. She could care less. Both cats are very intelligent, each in their own way. Moose, being much older, has learned lots of words and understands me quite well. She has a much more cooperative attitude and aims to please.

has no hunting skills whatsoever, though, and after Ted left, I had to resort to mouse traps to rid the cabin of it's sizable mouse population.

The little pests were squeezing their way into my little electric fridge whenever I shut it off at nite to avoid draining the solar batteries. So every nite when the fridge wasn't on, the mice would go in. I finally got some traps that weren't supposed to kill them. After emptying the fridge one nite and putting two traps loaded with peanut butter in, I found two dead mice in the morning. Yuk! So, in an attempt to interest Moose in hunting I gave her one of the dead mice. Much to my surprise she chomped it right down and was standing by the fridge the next morning waiting for another. Guess she figured this was a new special treat I was keeping for her in the fridge! She still won't hunt, though.

**UPDATE 6/2/08
A few weeks ago I found out that Moose actually can hunt when she wants to even though she's lost 5 teeth including one of her front fangs, which I always thought were essential for killing prey. But apparently I was wrong.

Moose is now on a special diet for cats with kidney problems, and she hates it because it's low protein. She will do most anything to get some "real" protein and is constantly trying to steal Ted's food. So I have to feed them separately.

Shortly after we returned to the cabin in April, Moose started sniffing around the woodpile that we keep inside for the wood heater. It soon became obvious that she was stalking something, but we didn't take it seriously because she'd never been known to hunt. Then one night as I had just gone to sleep upstairs on the upper level of our split level round cabin, my daughter, Allie, who was down on the lower level in the kitchen area, let out a loud scream. I woke up thinking the house was on fire or something, but not - it was Moose chasing a mouse across the floor from the woodpile to under the old wood cook stove. Allie yelled something about "She's got a mouse!" and then "Oh YUK - she's eating it under the table." Moose had bagged a mouse with only one killer fang and toted it in her mouth across the kitchen area to her favorite hideout under the coffee table where she was making loud crunching noises. A couple of nights later she bagged another and ate that one, too. I took this photo of her sleeping it off the next day. (That's my handmade rug she's sleeping on btw.)

Meanwhile Ted, the outdoor survivalist, seems totally uninterested in hunting. Too well fed I guess. I suspect she has a preference for birds, which I don't like at all. She watches them from the window or from under the house, but has never caught one that I know of. But she's useless as a mouser. So my old decrepit, half toothless cat with kidney failure and wheezing allergies does all the hunting while my young, strong, healthy cat with a full set of very sharp teeth and claws just lays around either sleeping or preening herself.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Been busy

Spring is a busy time for me. I've just returned from an exhausting few days of cutting the dry grass around my cabin out in the hills near Ukiah. As the weeds dry out, fire danger increases, and the cabin sits on a hillside completely surrounded by a sea of weeds. So I've been on weedeating duty with two family members working hard trying to get it all cut down. It's a huge job even for three people. Very hard work out in the hot sun. We got about a third of it done before two of the weedeaters needed a tune up. So I'm now back in my little room in Berkeley getting ready to go out on Telegraph Ave. tomorrow with my hats.

Being as how we don't really have seasons here, the hats are pretty popular year round. It can be warm in Berkeley and freezing cold in San Francisco due to the fog, which tends to stick around a lot during the summer. We also start getting a lot of tourists this time of year, so sales are doing well, and I've been trying to keep up with the hats while running back and forth up to the country dealing with cabin maintenance.

Here are a couple of my latest hats. The blue green one is a light weight skull cap made from plant fibers. The other one is yet another lumpy knit made from wool, silk and mohair. People still love the lumpies, so I try to keep a good supply.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


At this point my schedule is not easy to predict. It's rained almost every weekend for several weeks, and the Farmer's Market doesn't have much produce this time of year, so not so many customers showing up there. I've also been having back problems, so a slow period is probably a good thing for me. I've been showing up on Telegraph for a couple of hours when it wasn't raining, and I'll probably go down there today since it's a really nice day.

There's another Farmer's Market in El Cerrito Plaza that I'm considering when my back gets a bit better. I'll post something about that in a couple of weeks.

The best way to find out where I'm going to be is to just send me an email or call.

The Knitter's Loom

I haven't had much time for posting lately because I bought one of these widely advertised, and I might add, completely overhyped table looms that you may have seen on the Ashford site and lots of other places. It's actually just a heddle loom that folds up.

It's quite a nice little loom, and I do like it now that I'm used to it, but don't for a minute fall for the ads stating that anybody - even people who know nothing about weaving- can learn to use this loom in no time and soon be making scarves in only two hours! Ha! I've been at it for three weeks and still can't begin to make a scarf in two hours. All day maybe if everything goes well, but if you're thinking of buying this thing in the hopes of being able to make scarves really fast - forget it!

They call it the Knitter's Loom because supposedly you can make a scarf on it quicker than knitting. Of course it depends on the length and width of the scarf, but I believe that if two people set out to make the same size scarf - one knitting and one using the loom - the knitter would definitely come out ahead!

It is of course very nice to have a folding loom, however, you will most likely need to also buy their bag to store or carry it in. There are various bits that are likely to get lost if they aren't kept together in the bag. That's an extra $65 most places.

Then there are the instructions that come with the loom. Well, it took me all day to figure out how to work everything, partly because of me, but mostly because the instructions tend to leave out the bits you really need to know and concentrate on the bits that you eventually find out are actually unimportant. I had to call two people for help before I finally was able to use the loom. One of those people was a distributor who admitted that she was having all the same problems I was having. I ended up buying the full size instruction book for another $30.

Since I have a wholesale account with a very nice distributor that I've been doing business with for years, I got a good price on everything, but for someone buying at the full price, I'd suggest some careful consideration. If you just like to knit as a hobby, then this loom is probably not going to save you time, be as handy to carry around with you, or produce a dramatically better looking scarf than a knitted one. Two hour woven scarves are very unlikely to happen any time soon for me, or as far as I've been hearing, for anybody else either! It takes one hour to set the darn thing up (ie. "warp" it.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Catching up

I haven't posted a schedule this month because it's been so rainy. I'm hoping to get out to the Temescal market next Sunday though.

Here are some photos I took about three weeks ago.

They always have live music, and this time it was a a sort of jazz/soul group. They were pretty good. The guy on the keyboard did all the singing until this little cutie stepped right up and demanded the mic. She did an impromptu performance that stole the show, making up lyrics, which went something like "I love to go to the farm..." Then the musicians would back her up with "Go to the farm, go to the farm" and so on. A born performer for sure!

The stands in the background are some of the yummy bakeries that show up regularly. The crafts are to the right of the musicians. There's all kinds of prepared food, including Thai, Indian and some fantastic Afghan breads. It's a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning, but I usually go home with a tummy ache!

This is the vegetarian burrito stand, with James, the market manager standing to the left. The Feel Good Bakery is behind the three people standing in front of Donna's. I'm addicted to their pumpkin muffins with chocolate chunks and their jalapena bread sticks with pumpkin seeds. The rosemary chocolate chip scones aren't bad either.

They do have farm produce, too, or course - lots of it and all organic. When fruit is in season, I snack on that, but this time of year I go for the big time major carbs to stay warm. Also, since I have to get up at 5:00 to get there in time to get a good space, I'm usually starving by the time the market opens, so the prepared food is what keeps me going.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Well the month's half gone, and I still don't have a schedule up. Partly at least because I haven't figured it out yet. It's been so freezing cold here I haven't been able to get it together to get down to the market yet. I'm trying for tomorrow though, as it's warmed up just a bit. Going to the market involves getting up at 5:30 am to get a spot, and who wants to do that when there's ice all over everything. Not me. I'm a wimp!

Will see how it goes tomorrow.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Getting Back to Normal

I'm still recovering from the holidays, but am finally starting to enjoy some relative normalcy. It was so freezing cold at the Holiday Street Fairs that I didn't get a chance to take many photos. It was all I could do to stay warm and deal with customers! Here I am bundled up in five layers including my most bulky warm ski jacket, two pairs of pants plus long johns, and of course my lumpy knit hat!

My friend, May, was out the day before when the weather was somewhat warmer, but she was pretty bundled up, too. And, yes, that's one of my lumpies she's wearing. She hand paints her baby tee shirts and draws on them free hand - something I could never do! Like many of us crafty types, she's a painter and shows in the Bay Area.

This is the customer who got the best hat deal of the day. Behind him are the booths across the street from my stand. The hat he's wearing is a lumpy knit stocking cap. I'd never tried to make one before, so since it was an experiment, I sold it for way less than I should have. It looks great, though, and he went home happy. Maybe I'll make some more if I get requests. There's an image of it still on the website that shows it with the stocking part folded over.