Sunday, February 27, 2011


Alternate Titles for this post:
  • My Teenage Guitar Failure
  • If a Ten Year Old Can Learn to Play the Trumpet
  • Avoiding Cabin Fever in the Winter
My neighbor, Sally, is the Administrator of the Senior Center in town. We talked about the ukulele group that meets there each week.  She and her teenage son both have ukuleles and have participated with the group.  I  saw notices in the local paper periodically about the class and thought I might go have a look someday. 

I had a guitar briefly in high school.  The steel strings cut into my fingers and I could never tune the dang thing.  But now there are cheap digital tuners that clip on the headstock and if you can tell a red light from a green light, you can tune your instrument.  With only four nylon strings - a ukulele seemed easier and more comfortable than a guitar.

It was my son, though, that actually got me to the music store.  He picked up the trumpet at age ten, thanks to his music teacher at school, and has progressed in three years from "Hot Cross Buns" to performing with the high school jazz band. 

"Where will I be in three years if I start to play the ukulele now?" I wondered.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mismatched Mittens

Sometimes it is hard to settle on a project.  I flip through magazines and look again and again at the materials I have to work with.  What do I feel like doing with these itching-to-knit hands?

Once started, even barely going, on these mittens, I knew I wouldn't have enough yarn of one color to make two.  But I had another color...

Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport
Needles:  US 3
Pattern: Generic, garter stitch rib

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hat Problem

The hats are starting to pile up.  We don't need any more ourselves.  Except for baby hats, I hesitate to give my knitted items as gifts mostly because I don't presume to know what someone else might like.  I have sent hats to Dulaan and Caps for Kids.  Sometimes I hear of someone who is going to Eritrea or Guatemala or to an orphanage in Russia and if they are willing to carry a bag of hats to donate, my hats will go along.  But I also feel fine about giving them to the Goodwill or to a local thrift shop like Soroptimist.  The organizations make a few dollars on the sales and the buyer is choosing what they like and what fits.

Yesterday Ray asked me "Why do you like to knit?  What's so satisfying about it?"  I was driving so gave it very little thought.  "I like to make things.  I like the process of design and creation. Why do you like to shoot Airsoft guns?" 

"It's satisfying."

Yeah, it just is.

May 2006

November 2004

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Neighborhood

It was chilly this morning when I went for my walk.  I thought about running but I had a jacket on and a hat and too many toys (phone, camera, iPod) with me to really take off.  Most of the time I walk, I admit.  There is always something.

I love our neighborhood.  It is about five miles from town in a rural area.  There are cows and horses in a pasture next door.  It feels spacious and open, though there are lots of tall trees and hills.  I took this photo a mile and a half from our house.  The lake didn't fit in the frame.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Alison's Scarf

I bought a couple of new jackets last fall and, going all out, fashion-wise, gathered up some yarn and knit a lace scarf.  I have made this one before 5 years ago.  It is an easy pattern and would look nice with many kinds of yarn.  This one was made with Ella Rae Shibu, 90% silk, 10% viscose.  I used three skeins and something close to the needle size that was recommended on the ball band. The link to the Annie Modesitt pattern is here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gretel Hat

  Pattern:  Gretel

Yarn:  Targhee Handspun
Dianne Corso

Needle:  US 6

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Dave's sister, Lauren, likes to look at real estate online.  She has a good eye for property and she finds it interesting to study areas and see what places are available.  She looked at Reno listings while we searching for a house there and would us send links on occasion. 

One day, she said, "We're looking at Anacortes.  There is good sailing right there on Puget Sound and it's a small town and looks like a great spot."

Dave, the research arm of the family, switched gears and started looking at Anacortes real estate websites.  And the condensed version of the story is -- we found a place, he came down to have a look and we bought it.  The plan to move to Reno evaporated.

We were helped along (enabled, one might say) by our friends, John Corso and Dianne Corso.  They had moved from Juneau to Anacortes in 2006.  We had a lot of help from them during every phase of the move.  Did John just need an excuse to go for a motorcycle ride and take pictures of houses with his new iPhone?  Perhaps, but having a report from a friend on the ground meant a lot.  We were 900 miles away.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Leaving Juneau - The Townhouse

Did I mention the weather? The isolation? The extremes of Juneau are part of the appeal.  It takes a bit of grit to tolerate months of darkness, nine feet of rain a year, and years of cool, cloudy summers. 

The townhouse eventually sold.  It was on the market for a year, with three different realtors.  It was kind of a grind, in many ways, but the timing was good in the end.  Ray had six more weeks of school and Dave continued to work at the airport.
May 2009

We stayed downtown at our friends' condo (thanks again, Dick and Carolyn). Our belongings were all packed up and were shipped to our new place down south. Selling the townhouse was key to setting the plan in motion.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Deciding to Leave Alaska

Katherine turned 18 and graduated from high school in May 2007. As she became an adult, the years of shared custody came to an end.  She was accepted to the University of Hawaii and took off across the Pacific in the fall.

May 2007
Dave was working as the Juneau Airport Manager and Ray was in school.  There was a lot going on with my mother in Reno and I was feeling so far away from my siblings.  We were finished with most of the major work at the cabin.  Travel times and airfares from Juneau to anywhere seemed horrible!  We were trying to honor the school year more as Ray got older but man, we felt squeezed and trapped by dates and connections and expenses.  Of course, the true travel hardy types in Juneau just planned ahead and bought tickets a year in advance and off they went to Mexico for Christmas vacation but somehow, I never figured that one out.  How do you know what you want to do in a year?

We had lived in the townhouse for 10 years.  We started to decide things bit by bit.  Let's sell this place and live in a building with more windows.  No matter where we live, we need more light.  A shop would be nice...

We thought about buying a different house in Juneau.  Maybe we could live in Haines where we could get in to the cabin more easily.  Maybe down south.  Somewhere in the West.  Somewhere different.  It would just be nice to be somewhere less isolated.  Somewhere with roads. 

We decided to move to Reno.  (We didn't, as it turned out.)

But we looked.  We put the Juneau townhouse and the float plane up for sale.  We starting looking online for a place in Reno with some land around it. We talked a lot about what each of us wanted.  Dave got so good at the internet shopping that he got a new name, Research.  Got a realtor.  Went down there and made a low ball offer on the place we liked best.  Rejected.  Came home with an Xbox for Ray.  Someone was happy. 

We really weren't disappointed.  The townhouse wasn't selling.  Summer started and we spent time at the lake.  We had Charlie's really nice airplane.  We built a table together.  Not a bad life all in all.  Something would work out.

July 2008

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Handspun Targhee

Four more hats!  The first was made from handspun Targhee wool, a gift from Dianne Corso.  It is soft and lovely but I probably should have made the hat a little longer.  The other three were made from Cascade Yarns 220 Heathers Superwash.  Blue, red and gold - pretty colors all.  I gave the hats to my neighbor friends.  The pattern is Brambles, on the Knitty website.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Quincy Hats

What a great pattern!  It is Quincy - by Jared Flood. The adult version was made with Cascade Yarns 128 Superwash on size 10 needles.  The baby hat used Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash Sport on size 5 needles.  Both hats knit up quickly and were easy to put together.  Fun projects!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Snowflake Hat

My friend made this hat and I really liked the design, especially the top pattern decreases.  My first attempt did not work out so well, other than I successfully used up some yarn.  It is sort of a cone head (too long) and the colors don't  really flatter each other.  

The pattern is Kathleen Taylor Picot Hem Stranded Snowflake Hat.  Yarn:  Cascade 220 Superwash.

The prototype
Much better

I like the second hat. The yarn is softer (Mission Falls 136 Merino Superwash) and the colors are prettier together. I used a different edge and the snowflake disappeared.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Anna Zilboorg Hats

Here are two hats that were completed last November.  I used leftover yarn from two similar hats that I made and gave away last summer. 

Yarn:  Mission Falls 136 Merino Superwash
Pattern:  Anna Zilboorg

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Back to the Blog

Dave made a yarn swift for me.  He only needed to look at a couple of pictures and he came up with a perfectly suitable design. It works well and it is pretty.

He also repaired the base of the ball winder that my mother gave me decades ago. Aging plastic turns to powder eventually. This handy tool is now good for many more years.