Saturday, February 28, 2004

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

One cannot help but be glad to be alive on such a glorious day and grateful for good health to savor it. It is fully sunny but chillier than it has been. I stood before the heaped cauliflower at the Farmer's Market this morning just staring at sight of creamy white framed with green. Delicious enough to eat. With the cauliflower I also got broccoli, turnips, asparagus, grapefruit, and Satsumas.

Then I drove over to Glendale to Swain's Art Supplies. The view from the 134 freeway over LA and out to the ocean was unmatched. The recent heavy rains have washed the air so one can see, uncharacteristically, for miles. The purpose of the trip was to buy a Moleskine journal (pronounced mol-a-skeen'-a; I called around asking for a "mole skin" journal until I came across a phonetic spelling), inspired by two entries at Hoarded Ordinaries. It is a lovely journal.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Knitting blessings

A year ago I posted an entry about knitting and praying. The current The Lutheran magazine writes about knitting again, this time publishing reviews by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of two knitting books, Knitting into the Mystery: A Guide to the Shawl-Knitting Ministry and KnitLit (Too): Stories from Sheep to Shawl...and More Writing About Knitting.

In a slightly longer version of the Knitting into the Mystery review, more of the "Prayer of Blessing," by Cathleen Murtha, is excerpted from the book:
"A blessing to my mind [...] to be free to enter this time of contemplative activity . . .
A blessing to my hands [...] to be the source of creating something of beauty and love . . .
A blessing to my soul [...] to be open to the promptings of prayer and reflection . . .
A blessing to my yarn [...] to be shaped into patterns of love and caring . . .
A blessing to my needles [...] to be the holders of stitches as they become a whole garment . . .
A blessing to my knitting [...] to be a work of heart and hands, body and spirit . . .
A blessing on the one who passed this ancient art to me . . .
A blessing on the one who will receive the fruit of my prayer and my knitting . . .
May this [garment] be welcomed in the spirit in which it was knit . . .
May we become one with the One who knitted each of us in our mother's womb. [....]

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Home again

It's good to be home again. I had a wonderful week with my brother's family helping care for the two children. The week was colored by reading Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski (via the sidebar at Theory of the Daily) and by having read recently a review article on the cover of The Atlantic about nannies: "How Serfdom Saved the Women's Movement: Dispatches from the Nanny Wars" by Caitlin Flanagan.

I hope I can capture my impressions and thoughts about the week before they evaporate. Many intersections of thought as I catch up on some favorite sites:
Theory of the Daily (again)

Struggle in a Bungalow Kitchen

Pioneer Woman with Cell Phone

Friday, February 20, 2004

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Knitting & Banking?

It's not often that the subject of knitting comes up in the financial services industry, so when I read this Forbes' article at work today, I thought it worth noting! I've read about the excellent reputation (business and otherwise) of Golden West Financial but didn't know about the knitting angle. "Stick to Your Knitting," by Seth Lubove (free registration required).
Drop in on the Oakland, Calif. headquarters of Golden West Financial and you'll get a taste of a homespun, unassuming company under family control. Shortly into an interview at the thrift holding company, Marion Sandler, co-chief executive, pulls out a knitting needle and ball of yarn and picks up where she left off on a sweater for hubby, Herbert, the other co-chief executive. Marion, 73, admits to frequently knitting during meetings--"except when I'm running it," she helpfully notes. Herb, 72, jumps up, opens his closet and proudly shows off another cable-knit sweater Marion made for him. [...]

It's what they don't do that makes this company a standout among financial institutions. Golden West gathers deposits and lends the money out as mortgages on modestly priced, single-family homes. No junk bonds, no loans for shopping centers, golf courses or million-dollar mansions. The Sandlers installed ATMs only in the 1990s, and they still aren't sure the expense is worth it. They give away free toasters for new accounts.

"We're boring," Herb says, proudly. But not on Wall Street, where Golden West's numbers have drawn some attention. The Sandlers have produced compound annual earnings-per-share growth of 20% over the last 35 years, a record that appears to be unmatched by any other financial firm, with the possible exception of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. [...]

After talking with the Sandlers, though, you come away with the impression that, for all their financial accomplishments, they're more interested in using the business as a means to the higher end of political and philanthropic pursuits. Die-hard liberal Democrats, the Sandlers support various do-gooder causes and activist outfits, as well as medical research.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Wool find

On my way back from the Farmer's Market this morning, I stopped by a thrift shop that has a nice section of linens and yarn. I found a dozen 2 oz. skeins of Columbia-Minerva Lustra-Sparkletone in black, 50% rayon and 50% wool, with a gauge of 5 stitches to the inch on size 5 needles. There are also three skeins in "Tuscan Rose" color. Price: 50 cents each.

Then I found ten hanks of Rygja wool, 100 grams/280 yards, in a natural, off-white color for 75 cents each. The wool smells a little stale as though the lanolin is rancid, but I think it can be resuscitated. At the price of what I'd pay for one new ball of wool, it's worth a try! It might also be fun to experiment dyeing some of it.

From the label:

"The Natural Yarn"
Homespun in Norway
From the wool of the sturdy Norwegian mountain sheep!

This unbleached yarn is popular with the women of Norway who knit sweaters for their men that will protect them while fishing on the high seas or skiing in the mountains.

The women of Norway enjoy knitting with this "Natural Yarn", and so will you! Their men like to wear their sweaters and so will yours.

But, as Theresa at Bagatell warns in her Feb. 12 post, make sure the man is "yours" before knitting for him! In case not, just "Slip that sweater on over his head before he manages to say a word!"

Friday, February 13, 2004

Women and global trade

Via wood s lot, an Oxfam report (in .pdf format): "Trading Away Our Rights: Women Working in Global Supply Chains."
Globalisation has drawn millions of women into paid employment across the developing world. Today, supermarkets and clothing stores source the products that they sell from farms and factories worldwide. At the end of their supply chains, the majority of the workers—picking and packing fruit, sewing garments, cutting flowers—are women. [...]

Commonly hired on short-term contracts—or with no contract at all—women are working at high speed for low wages in unhealthy conditions. They are forced to put in long hours to earn enough to get by. Most have no sick leave or maternity leave, few are enrolled in health or unemployment schemes, and fewer still have savings for the future. [...]

The harsh reality faced by women workers highlights one of the glaring failures of the current model of globalisation. Over the past 20 years, the legal rights of powerful corporate entities have been dramatically deepened and extended. [...] Workers' rights have moved in the opposite direction. And it is no coincidence that the rise of the 'flexible' worker has been accompanied by the rise of the female, often migrant, worker. The result is that corporate rights are becoming even stronger, while poor people's rights and protections at work are being weakened, and women are paying the social cost.
From the opening paragraphs of the report. There is also a much shorter summary of the report available.

It figures. My site receives flattering acknowledgment from Miki of Theory of the Daily, and I stop posting.

This is mainly because I'm in worry mode over a school reunion a friend and I are planning. The whole thing seems rather daunting. It's nothing that can't be figured out, but I suddenly have profound respect for people who are initiators and organizers of events. Now I've got to go figure out how we can become an official organization of some sort. Banks don't just let you set up a checking account and slap any name on it you want. In the end everything will turn out fine, and the reunion will be a great success. It's just that, in the meantime, step by step, all the logistics have to be dealt with. Dealt with—not worried over.

Sunday, February 08, 2004


For those interested in American domestic culture and history, the PBS series American Experience is playing an episode about Tupperware tomorrow night.
Coffee hour

One of the traditions I enjoy at my small church is the "coffee hour" after the English-language service. Different people take turns each week to prepare something to eat and drink. (The amazing women who prepares the snacks when nobody has signed up is 88 years old.)

Over the years, the church has invested in a kitchen and plates, cups, silverware, etc., for serving groups of people. As much as possible we try to avoid using paper, plastic, and Styrofoam, although it means more dishwashing.

It was my turn today. I've learned from the women—and the men—who've been at the church for many years, that it's not just about serving food. It's also about setting a beautiful table using what's at hand.

Yesterday I found a large white sheet at a garage sale, which became my tablecloth today ($2). I did buy some red roses from the Farmer's Market (usually it's something from a home garden, or the church's, in a pinch) and added a couple red candles in crystal/glass candleholders. I put out the glass punch glasses and punch bowl for the orange and pineapple juice. I found a round, red cheese tray at the garage sale, too, for the cheese and crackers. I also served mini-bagels and cream cheese with strawberry jam (a hit the last time I served), dates, carrots, and carmels in red wrappers.

Of course, there was coffee, as well. The coffee is made each week by a man from a group home, who is faithfully brought to church each Sunday by one of the church members. Although he has certain problems, he does know how to make coffee in the big coffee pot and gets it prepared before the service starts. Then he makes sure to carry the pot from the kitchen into the parish hall after the service for people to drink.

I didn't have a chance to do much standing around and talking. I was in the kitchen washing coffee cups and punch cups.
Aran hat

I will be heading to the east coast in a short while, and my guess is that it won't be the balmy weather in the 60s and 70s we've been enjoying here in So. Cal. So I need some warm clothes, namely hats and gloves.

Friday afternoon I just had to get started on something, so I began the Aran Watch Cap from Hats On! 31 Warm and Winsome Caps for Knitters by Charlene Schurch.

This is what I finished Saturday afternoon:

Pattern: Aran Watch Cap
Pattern by: Charlene Schurch
Pattern source: Hats On! (Down East Books, 1999)
Yarn used: Plymouth Galway, 100% wool, 100 grams/210 yards (1 ball would have sufficed, but I had made a swatch for another project from it. Larger sizes might need slightly more than 1 ball.)
Where purchased: Skein, Arcadia, California
Needles: 3.25 mm (U.S. 3), 16 inch circular and 5 inch double-points
Gauge: Not quite sure. See What I learned below.
Started: 2/6/04
Completed: 2/7/04
For whom: Originally for me but now for my 6 year old niece
What I learned: Read the pattern and pattern book carefully! "7 stitches to the inch over cable and k/p pattern" does not mean the K1P1 ribbing. (Thanks for the enlightenment, Larry!) Also, do not use a stretchy piece of wool to measure one's head. Find the tape measure and use it. My head is 23 inches around. Per Schurch, subtract 2-4 inches to determine the circumference of your hat, which will stretch when you put it on. Also, Small and Medium in Schurch's book often refer to children's sizes. All this to say, I thought I needed to knit the Medium size—I hope it fits my little niece, at least!

Second, now that I've started TKGA Level 1 program, I'm scrutinizing my knitting much more critically. Sarah Peasley mentioned a loose knit stitch in knit/pural ribbing. (See the January 9, 18, and 19 entries of her TKGA Level 1 Archives.) I noticed the left side of my K1 column was looser than the right side knitting in the round. However, on the reverse side, which is the exposed side of a watch cap (the brim gets turned up), the columns are lovely and even!

Third, I executed my second attempt of a yarn-over tubular cast-on, a nicely finished, flexible cast-on for a hat brim.

That the cap is too small does not disappoint me too much because I don't really wear pink; it was the only wool at hand when I wanted to start knitting right now. Now I have loden green wool for a second attempt!

Thanks to Anaïs at Path to Freedom for taking the digital pictures when I dropped by this afternoon to pick up my lettuce.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Writing about blogging

Via a summary entry at ever so humble, I found out about a series of entries at Heart @ Work on why people write blogs. The entries are quite thoughtful and open up yet another unexplored corner of the web.
Homemade yogurt

The other night I made my first (successful) batch of yogurt. I've been wanting to make my own yogurt for a while, using a method that was not too fussy and that did not require electricity to run an appliance.

I found a thermos-like container from New Zealand, EasiYo. The method is so simple. Heat a quart of milk to 180 degrees F and cool to lukewarm (110 degrees). Mix the dried starter with a little milk and then mix with the rest of the milk. Put the milk mixture in the smaller, inner container. Then pour boiling water into the large, outer container, set in the smaller container, tighten the lid, and let the yogurt develop overnight.

The first time I tried to make the yogurt, I used fat-free milk and store-bought yogurt that probably wasn't the freshest. The yogurt never "set." This time I used two percent milk and a dried yogurt starter, Yogourmet. The texture is just like store-bought and tastes really good (if you like plain yogurt!).

Next time I'll try using the yogurt itself as the starter. (If you use the EasiYo starter/sachets you don't need to heat milk—just add water.)

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Viking inspired

For fans of Elsebeth Lavold who've not yet seen her newish book Designer's Choice (The Viking Knits Collection: Book One), pictures of the sweaters may be seen along with kits for purchase at FuzzyMabel. (I don't know anything about the company; I linked to them because of the pictures. The prices seem comparable to the few other sites I checked for Lavold's Silky Wool yarn, though.)

I really like the patterns in Lavold's book Viking Patterns for Knitting too, but her new collection is more wearable here in Southern California.

[Update: I clicked on the errata page for the new book and realized I had seen the information about Lavold earlier in a newsletter from ThreadBear, which I forgot until I saw the page again. So this is probably old news to at least those who keep up in the knitting world.]

[Update 2: I just saw on the tag board at Rob of ThreadBear's site that Lavold has Book Two coming out in a month or so.]

[Update 3: Now I just came across an entry at BoogaJ. Julie started working in Liv earlier this month.]