Friday, February 27, 2009

In my family room, on the top of a cabinet, I keep a basket of handspun, hand dyed yarn. It's yarn that I have made myself. In fact, if my memory is correct, all the yarn in these skeins in the wicker basket was spun from the same sheep fleece.

The original fleece was gifted to me by Roxie when I was living in Oregon. MamaMia and I cleaned it, scoured it, dried it, and carded it. Then I spun it up. It was white with some occasional streaks of black.
So I decided to dye the whole thing. Of course, I didn't use just one color.
I dyed it all different colors, using Koolaid.
Koolaid? Yep. Koolaid. I took a packet of unsweetened Koolaid and dissolved it in a quart of water, added as much fiber or yarn as my bowl would hold and cooked it on high in my microwave until all the color was absorbed in to the fiber. And I did it over and over
I ended up with yarn in the most interesting and fun colors.

Kiwi Watermelon
Lemon Lime
Raspberry Reaction

Black Cherry

Tropical Punch



Pink Lemonade
Wild Watermelon Kiwi

It was so easy and so much fun to experiment with all those packets of Koolaid. I've displayed the basket for a couple of years and lately I've been thinking that I'd like to knit something with those skeins of Koolaid Yarn. But my difficulty is that I can't decide what to knit. I emailed Roxie and asked her for some ideas. She suggested knitted miters (another afghan?) or a striped sweater knitted side to side. Then she said to post on the blog and ask.

What should I knit with this yarn?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Friday Fave Five, End of February

Busy weeks are often great weeks. This was a busy week and some wonderful things happened.

1. Daffodils.
From the Food Pantry where I serve on Thursdays.

2. Visit to Long Beach on Sunday.
The Professor and I visited the church where we had worshipped when we lived in Los Angeles. It was primarily to attend a meeting for sponsors of children orphaned by AIDs in Uganda through Ugandan Lambs, a ministry of the church. We sponsor a wonderful, sweet and, now very tall, boy named Daniel who lives in Uganda. We saw photos and videos of him, received handwritten letters from him, and heard eye witness reports of his school progress and his development in to a lovely young man whose mechanical and technical abilities may earn him a place in a vocational school after he graduates from 'high school'. We treasure his letters to us, his "Mum and Dad".

3. Visit to Manhattan Beach, also on Sunday.
We arranged to drop by a brunch celebrating the baptism of a little boy, infant son of Son Number Two's coworker to deliver a little blue sweater (sorry, no photo!). We are acquainted with the coworker and his wife so it was fun to be invited to see him and cuddle him a little. Then, after the brunch, we spent a few hours with Son Number Two and also with a close friend who was my walking buddy when I lived in LA. I miss living near this friend and we just chatted up a storm while The Professor and Son #2 discussed and solved all the world's problems. A moonlight drive home along the Pacific coastline through Malibu was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

4. A little kudo at work.
Someone mentioned that she overheard a supervisor praise the way I write up my students' progress reports. A little encouragement can go a long way to cheer me up!

5. California poppies.
The sun has been shining and on our walks Ellen and I have seen so many flowers blooming. I think the California poppies bloom biggest and brightest in late winter/early spring.

The Professor asked me why I didn't post a photo of my sssuper sssnakey valentine, so I took a snapshot of it to share the love.

To share in the joy of others' weeks, go to Susanne's blog Living To Tell The Story.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jocelyn at Knitting Linguist gave me an award a while ago. I think it might have been a long while ago, like maybe a long long time ago. It's not that I wasn't amazed, flattered and really really happy about it that I didn't post right away. I plead busy- busy working, knitting, reading, but mostly just living my busy life as a teacher, tutor, wife, mother, grandma. Anyway. Now I am thrilled to publicly acknowledge the award and pass it on to others.

This is the award: Jocelyn said so very nicely that she liked my photographs, especially photos of one of our common interests, Southern California, where we both live and knit.

I asked her what photos she particularly liked and she listed several. Sweet lady, she went back through old posts and told me what days I'd posted the pictures.

I scrolled back and looked at all the pictures she mentioned, and I am truly pleased and delighted that she likes so many of them. I love taking photos, sometimes cropping them to get 'just the right composition', and then sharing them here on my blog. This is just the kind of encouragement I love and need to keep me carrying my camera with me everywhere at all times and snapping those serendipitous shots and then posting my favorites. I decided I'd repost her faves, the ones I have identified as being Southern Californian in origin. Not surprisingly, the majority of them are beach themed.
Oak tree photo posted on January 26th, shot in my neighborhood's nature walk trail.

Sunset photo on January 15th, taken earlier that week in Ventura, California.

The umbrella picture on November 18th, photographed on a beach in El Segundo, California.

Rocks and ocean on October 24th, Thornhill-Broome Beach, near Pt. Mugu, between Camarillo and Malibu.
The door photo September 3rd and on September 2nd, Gardens of the World, Thousand Oaks, CA. This is California Mission architecture-stucco and wrought iron.

The carrots on August 10th, from the local Farmers Market.

The palms on July 17th. Palm trees-so very Southern Californian.

And to celebrate our love of yarn-

the yarn on spools on October 28th, Ventura County Weavers and Spinners Guild Open House.

OK. Back to the award--
The official rules are as follows:
1. Copy the award to your site.

2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Link to those on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated.
The other bloggers I choose (and this is the hardest part, isn't it? choosing seven from amongst so many really great bloggers) are-- Here is where I get completely, totally unable to choose. How can I choose just seven? How can I not say, I love all the blogs I visit? Every blog where I'm a regular reader attracts me for one of two (and sometimes both) reasons: great writing and great photography.
I have tried to nominate 7 bloggers, I've written names down, I've realized I just can't do it! Consider yourselves ALL tagged. If you have a blog, if you can write any words on a computer screen and make meaningful sentences from those words, well, I think that's creative and just simply amazing!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I've Got Mail!

One recent day, I went to the mailbox to get the mail and I had some! A package, in fact!
When I saw the postmark on the package, I knew who it was from.
Jane from Crafty Conundrum in England.

I had won a give away on her blog and this package was from her. I asked her later if she was a lucky guesser or did she pick goodies just for me. She certainly knows me!
Kitties. Blue and white fabric. Knitting accessories.

More kitties! And blue yarn!

I love it all, but I am particularly enchanted with the variegated blue sock yarn. I have already cast on for a pair of socks. Umm, actually, I've turned the heel and am on the last stretch of circular knitting heading for the toes.

BUT! That's not all. No, that's not all.
There was a giftie for the boy.

Look at that little face, at those big eyes. Do you see what he's saying?


Thank you so much, Jane! You made my day! You made my WEEK!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Friday Fave Five

Is it really already Friday?
Here we are, heading in to the weekend before the last week of February. It's hard to believe we'll soon be 1/6 of the way through 2009. This week seemed to fly by. Maybe it was because I had a four day weekend.

1. On Valentine's Day, The Professor and I took a long afternoon walk at Ventura State Beach. The path took us past the Ventura Pier. The pier is constructed from wood and so very picturesque.

2. Tuesdays are not always my favorite day of the week because I tutor a student in Ventura and have to make the drive there and back and the back part is right at the beginning of rush hour on Highway 101. This Tuesday we had rain and Southern Californians drive really crazy in the rain. However, my student was very cooperative and showed some progress and that encouraged me. And on the trip home, I saw a rainbow in front of the mountains! Incredibly, the photo I snapped, quickly, not really looking at the rainbow because I was driving, did not have any cars in it. Seeing the rainbow and noting the progress of my student both encouraged me. The sun was shining even through the cloudburst.

3. All the rain on Oxnard Plain meant snow in the mountains inland from us. On Wednesday and Thursday, as I turned on to the road where my school is located I could see the mountains so clearly. I convinced Ellen to walk up to the hillside above my neighborhood so we could photograph the snow capped mountains. The sun was shining on Ellen, too.

4. I finished knitting the two baby sweaters, and I cast on for a navy blue vest. I have had the Merino Blend DK washable wool yarn since I bought it in York, England in 2004 and tucked all 8 balls of it in my backpack. I've swatched and swatched and frogged and frogged and have never found Just The Right Pattern. This week in the newest Cast On magazine, I found a sample vest I can adapt for the pattern that I have been designing in my head for quite awhile.
5. Pots of Earl Grey tea brewed in my blue teapot and served in a favorite cup have sustained me this week as I've lost the battle with a cold. Again. Ah, the joys of hanging around first graders.
6. Speaking of first graders~ one of my favorite little seven year olds gave me a valentine. He chose a snake picture and information valentine, wrote my name, and signed it himself. Gotta love it!
To share others' Fave Fives this week, join Susanne at Living To Tell The Story.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day Off

I have declared the next twenty-four hours as "My Day Off". It's an official holiday for me and I'm officially taking it off. Other than a medical appointment, I don't have any plans. A walk? Maybe. If it doesn't rain. Spinning? Oh, yes! Knitting? Of course!

I finished this little neck down sweater for a friend's son. I added the slip stitch colored pattern around the middle. Since photographing it, I've woven in the ends. I just have to sew on the grey buttons.
The slip stitch looks as good on the wrong side as it does on the right side, doesn't it?

I've been contemplating knitting a cap to match. On my day off.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Heart Happy Day

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

I am posting in the evening because we didn't have electricity most of the day here at Willow's Cottage. It caused inconvenience but for The Professor and me, it's not a disaster. We lived for many years without electricity when we were in Indonesia. We just unplugged the laptops and refrigerator and left to walk at Ventura State Beach. A nonfat hot chocolate and a good walk made my heart happy. So did spending the afternoon with The Professor.

This has been a day of sunshine and wind, a calm between two rainstorms.

My plum tree is confused. It thinks spring has already arrived.

My brother and others in the Pacific Northwest are reporting snow!

Here it's snowing plum petals.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Friday Fave Five, Valentine's Edition

Welcome to Willow's weekly post for
This week I am featuring ONE important event!

Because, after all, nothing could compete with a FIRST birthday!

The New Boy turned ONE year old!

He celebrated with his own yummy food.

What he doesn't know won't hurt him, right?
A Classic Pooh Hunny Pot birthday cake made by his mama.

THAT was definitely a hit.

Wooden building blocks!

His very own toy cell phone so he won't take his mama's phone and call (which he did!)or Australia!*

*Reference for non-parents: taken from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

For more Friday Fave Fives, go visit Susanne's blog Living To Tell The Story.

Monday, February 09, 2009

a W addendum

The Professor reminded me of a W that I neglected to mention.


Compliments of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
One of the funnest movies I have ever seen!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What's in a W?

Elizabeth from About New York and The House in Marrakesh played a meme last week in which she was given a letter of the alphabet and had to post photos and words beginning with that letter. She asked if others wanted to play and if so she would randomly pick a letter for them. When I let her know I would play, she asked her husband to choose a letter for her. She did not tell him who the player was, and so imagine her amazement when he chose the letter W for Willow.

Willow is my nickname. I have explained the origin of the name before but I will tell the story again. I suppose I was Willowy in my youth but that is not why I'm Willow. When I was working at a summer camp every staff member had to take the name of a bird to use during the camp weeks. Because I have blonde (yellow) hair and am short of stature, I chose the finch but I didn't want to be called Finch, so I researched different kinds of finches and found there is a Willow Finch. Hence, the name Willow was chosen.

I do like the willow plant and have had willow trees and bushes in my gardens.

My Wascally Wabbit likes willows, too.

If you are acquainted with me at all, you will know that I love wool.

I am interested in weaving, and the history of all woollen textile crafts. These whorls caught my attention in a museum in Oxford.

I love to walk in the woods.

I enjoy walks by the water.
What fun it is to find walks by the water where willows grow.

I enjoy walks in the Western wilderness.

Wiley Coyote will wander back into the woods if you get too close.

I love to wade in the waves.

Other W words include windows,

war planes,

windmills, wagons, werewolves, warlocks, wagers, whisper, wiggleworm, wasp, wigwam, wart, well, wheel, wisteria, whistle, weep, wail, waxwing, whale, wheat. I could go on and on, but you get the way my mind works.

Wait! (W)One more!

I love white roses.

If you wish to play this meme, let me know and I'll ask The Professor to choose a letter for you!