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Startitis: The Viajante and The Mohair Bias Loop

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Knitters know of the curse of “startitis”, the irresistible impulse to start many projects all at the same time.

I most definitely have a healthy case of this, the moment I came home from Stitches West I started these:

I have in progress:

All I want to do at lunchtime is work on the Viajante and, when I get home, knit on the Mohair Bias Loop! It is like an irresistible compulsion.

But the Viajantes is so wonderful and simple, I am making it out of the dreamiest Malabrigo Silkpaca, a silk-alpaca lace yarn that is soft and airy, it’s going to be gorgeous to wear.

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It is a fun design and I have wonderful support from the LSG group on Ravelry. LSG stands for Lazy, Stupid and Godless, and I just love these ladies.

The Mohair Bias Loop is the simplest pattern that I found at the Claudia Handpaints booth at Stitches West. Years ago I made a pretty spiral scarf out of Alchemy Haiku, and it had a tragic end. I made another and it’s pretty but I missed the airy loft of the silk mohair thread of the Haiku yarn.

At the booth I saw this gorgeous, glowing fluff of the Haiku knitted up into a pretty, simple cowl shape. I have cones and cones of silk mohair yarn from Artfibers, but I coveted a skein lying next to the sample Bias Loop that glowed like cranberries roasted on butter at Thanksgiving. They were meant to be mine.

I started it last night after I finished my embroidery and thought about it all day.

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After a few hours I was more than halfway done.

Mohair bias loop

It did not take long to finish it and I wore it to the book reading by Stephanie Pearl McPhee, the “Yarn Harlot”. She complimented me on it, which thrilled me down to my toes. She’s a tiny lady and I crouched down as far as I could so spare her from yet another “Mutt and Jeff” photo.

Me & @yarnharlot - such a fun night.

Despite all my projects lurking in the wings I am really tempted to pull our the cone of palest lavender or the cone of vibrant burnt orange and make this according to the pattern, which fits around the shoulders like a shrug. The gorgeous Haiku skein did not have enough yardage . I think I might have to cast on one immediately!

The Rug Named Rover

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While at Stitches West I purchased an outrageous, bodacious skein of alpaca yarn from Ranch of the Oaks that is almost roving, which was displayed for knitting into a rug.

Stitches West

How insane is that, a rug out of pure alpaca! The skein was so large and pettable that we nicknamed it Rover, therefore the project had to be called “The Rug Named Rover”

When I got home, I let “Rover” rest on my vintage Victorian settee, named Vicky.

Alpaca rug

I pulled out my size 15 knitting needles and the skewered skein took up by comfy chair completely. My chair is named Martha, because it’s a Martha Washington chair, a gift from a dear friend who’s mother collected gorgeous antiques.

Alpaca rug

Even though it was late and I was really tired I just had to cast on, 17 stitches on the giant needles and keep going in garter stitch.  It was an upper arm workout!  The giant skein bounced around under my feet exploring under the coffee table and the rocking chair like it had a mind of its own.  Each row took 2 full arm length pulls from the skein.  I felt like I was armwrestling an emu.

Alpaca rug

For scale purposes only, here is the rug in progress on the needles, with my bare tooties, a dainty ladies size 9 foot.  Please note the swollen ankle after walking on cement floors all day!  This was the longest I have been on my feet since my ankle reconstruction.  It wasn’t too bad in hindsight and standing on the rug in progress felt utterly lovely.

Finally finished, after just a day of fast paced knitting.  Walking on the Rug Named Rover is so soft, it is a lot like petting a nice dog with your bare feet.

Alpaca rug

I have “Rover” in my kitchen in front of the sink, but when I am at the stove a lot I just slide it over. My kitchen floor space is so small that the rug fits perfectly in front of the stove, or in front of the sink or the miniature cutting board on the other side.  It is so thick and soft, it is far superior than the gel mats one finds in kitchens, and is washable in the bathtub with a little gentle shampoo.

If only money wasn’t an issue, I would have taken advantage of their 2-for-discount skein offer and made one of these for along side the bed or underneath my chair.   However, it is divine walking into my kitchen barefooted, I don’t usually cook without shoes or slippers but these days I have enjoyed violating my rules with luxurious abandon.

I Am An Artist

I am taking a coffee break today to knit, greatly enjoying a cushy chair at an Global Conglomerate Coffee Chain Shop, watching the rain splat against the window, chuckling schaudenfreude-like at people behaving like a combination of ducks, wet dogs and angry cats as they come inside, and the hiss of the coffee machines transposed over the mellow 1930s jazz playing.

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A lady next to me had her hair clip resting on the table, and I chatted with her as she too uses the same, unusual brand.

When I pulled out my knitting she exclaimed,

Oh, you’re an artist!

No, I just like to knit, and i do a few other crafts.

But you are an artist, what else do you do?

I told her about the embroidery I finished last night and she asked to see a photo, then she saw my needlepoint pillow on the couch at home and remarked on that.

I made that, it’s petit point in Persian wool. It took me 6 months to stitch while I got over a breakup.

I could never do that, it’s beautiful, you’ll have it forever.

Suddenly I saw myself in her eyes, a stylish lady wearing unusual glasses and jewelry, an artist, living in a home filled with unique and colorful things. An artist!

I guess I really am. The world looks and feels different to me somehow, now.

Back to Embroidery

I’m feeling a lot of stress these days from work, who knows why, so tonight after a nice chat with my mum, I found I did have a bottle of wine after all, poured a glass and turned on the Big Bang Theory.

Next to my big Martha Washington chair I have baskets with my knitting and other craft projects, and when looking down I saw my long neglected embroidery sampler from Drop Cloth.

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Wine, chicharonnes, and embroidery – a new solution to anxiety. All I have to do is finish the black border, then I can block and frame it.

I also joined an embroidery pattern of the month club from Studio MME, thanks to my little sister L___, the designs are so cute! I had to buy this one immediately, as I have a deep affinity for foxes. But before I can start the foxes I must finish this pretty sampler.

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After a slug of wine I start in. There is something inherently relaxing about the gentle sound of the needle punching through the fabric, the hiss of the perle cotton sliding through and the magic of seeing the pattern and colors grow underneath my fingers. A half a glass of wine later, I am done.

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I feel better already.

Fun at Stitches West 2014

Our annual trek to Santa Clara for the Stitches West convention was a wonderful way to spend a day off, surrounded by friends and thousands of wonderful yarn-loving people. The Convention Center was awash in color and textures and I have not seen it this packed since the first year I attended with E___.

We took the day off to go to the Marketplace on the first day it opened, and perhaps next year we will go on Sunday instead. It was tricky to get around with the hordes of shoppers, and there were more booths here this time than in any time I have ever attended. We were there the entire day and closed the place down and still had barely enough time to stop at all the booths.

E___ and her sister J_____ and A____ filled our bags with snacks and treats and started working in a logical grid pattern to see every nook and cranny. This was helpful because we all have varying interests in things and some of us would linger longer at a booth than others so it was easier to find our group when we scattered. Plus E___ wearing a hot pick backpack was so clever, we could always spot her and A___’s newly purple hair!

First off, I made a new friend, Johan. He’s all mine, ladies, don’t you love the Norwegian knitting advertisements?
Stitches West

 
I fell in love with the soft hues and the pattern for this shawl that took only 600 yards of worsted weight alpaca. Alpaca became the theme of the day, if I fell in love with something, it was alpaca! Seems like there was a lot of alpaca here this year, replacing kid mohair as my yarn of addiction.
Stitches West
Stitches West

 
One skein was around $70, a theme for the day also. Seemed like all the great yarn was around $70, with the average sock yarn climbing to $35. In past years the sock yarn average was $25.

 
This is a bear rug, knitted. Isn’t he adorable? We all wanted to hug him. A lady saw me taking his picture and started to clown around putting her hand in his mouth, then his teeth fell out! I was laughing so hard I missed that picture of her trying to fit the teeth back in without the vendor noticing, and while we were screaming, “The bear is eating her!!”
Stitches West

 
Now isn’t this a clever idea, iron on patches in cashmere for your sweaters and jackets that get holes. The moth shaped patches were hilarious I thought. The vendor had some really cute plain knit sweaters using the patches as decor, they were gorgeous!
Stitches West

 
This booth had one of the prettiest displays we saw the entire day. Their hexagonal knitting needles felt really good in the hand but sadly the joins to the cables had a gap and I just hate it when your yarn gets stuck on the joins, it’s like a log jam or Los Angeles traffic, something to avoid. I continued on in my search for size 3 and 4 circular needles for the Viajante shawl that I will be starting soon.
Stitches West

 
I bought this pattern, it calls for $90 worth of alpaca so perhaps some day I will get the yarn.
Stitches West

 
These little felted birdhouses were just so cute, I wonder if the birds up at my mom’s place would be enticed to nest in them? Has anyone used them? They are cute enough just for decor I suppose.
Stitches West
Stitches West

 
These made me want to get clogs, meet the socks named Fang.
Stitches West

 
Love this booth with the felted flowers, every year we stop to admire them. It would be fun to have these at home but imagine having to dust them.
Stitches West

 
Move over food trucks, the next big craze will be yarn trucks! What a darling idea.
Stitches West

 
One of the patterns from the Yarnover truck, such pretty lace.
Stitches West

 
I know it is rude but I had to Keneer this shot of this marvelous lady knitting on size 1000 needles. They were impressive, and that she carried them around with her all day was even more impressive.
Stitches West

 
Later in the day the knitted bear rug became easier to see. Or did he eat all of that yarn? No one is talking.
Stitches West

 
We eventually stopped for lunch and an “ankle break” aka a rest break for The Crankle. A___ spotted these slutty nachos being sold, for $8! They were so massive and the cute young man serving us gave us each a pint of sour cream *each*.
Stitches West

We staggered away in a nacho coma for about an hour but it was worth it.

I also made spiced pecans for snacks and they kept us alive while we waited in line for about 30 minutes for our food. Here they are, sauteeing in butter and sugar about an hour before we left for Stitches. The recipe is here.
Stitches West

 
I love owls and so does my mom and this booth that had felted projects and crewel work caught my eye.
Stitches West

I purchased a darling kit for crewel work, since I needed some needles and canvas and an embroidery hoop. There was also a really cute book of crewel patters that I had to get, perhaps I shall cheat on embroidery a bit and use up the gorgeous Persian wools I have from petit point needlepoint for crewel projects.

 
Such a pretty leaf pattern on this sweater. Last year I purchased from this same book a pretty shawl pattern with leaves like this around the border. I realized that I could use the knitted on border to make a sweater or any scarf with these kinds of leaves.
Stitches West

 
It’s the Shirley Temple sheep, check out those bodacious ringlets!
Stitches West

 
I almost fell to the floor looking at the beautiful Quince yarns, look at these hues and they all feel so divine.
Stitches West

 
This was another gorgeous table-full of fun.
Stitches West

 
Hi Kira!
Stitches West

I had to go and get a hug, and to check out her designs. I love her patterns and her eye for detail and fit is amazing. Kira K was a mentor to me when I first started knitting, she worked at the original Artfibers location and a lunchtime I would go there and buy obscene quantities of gorgeous yarns and then ask her what I should try making as a beginning knitter. She encouraged me to knit lace and helped me interpret difficult bits as I went along. She was so kind and encouraging and I can’t thank her enough for helping boost my confidence as a beginner. Love her!

 
Yes, Virginia, unicorns exist.
Stitches West

 
This booth had the cutest whimsical patterns, I started singing, “I’d like to be, under the sea….” when I saw these. No otters though, darn it all.
Stitches West

 
In case you have a black thumb you can knit your own garden, with cacti and succulents even. I thought the lizard was a nice touch.
Stitches West

 
There is a trend I’ve been seeing for the past few years for yarn bowls, instead of using a ziplock ghetto bag like I do most of the time. This gentleman takes the yarn bowl to the ultimate level in lathed burlwood bowls. I just want one for my coffee table, yarn or no.
Stitches West

 
This vendor wins for best table decor, and the yarns were gorgeous to the hand. Turns out I know the owner’s sister, a friend of my sisterfriend L___! Many hugs were shared at this booth.
Stitches West

 
Meet Thor, the largest skein winder ever… and Thor’s new owner B___ is a member of LSG and totally lovely.
Stitches West

 
I told you in my last post that I planned to buy out every stitch marker in the place, and if a booth had stitch markers, I bought some there! Sadly, they were sold out of the owl stitch markers but I got two chickens that are jingle bells! So adorable but I am not sure how annoying they will be to use, stay tuned on that.
Stitches West

 
The knitted lace guild’s table was fascinating, check out this display of tools from the old days, aka the 1980’s.
Stitches West

 
This is the godfather of lace, I really wanted to meet him but he had hordes of ladies around him at all times. Love his hat too.
Stitches West

 
Coco Knits had the cutest felted planters this year, sadly they were not for sale, we all wanted one though (hint hint, Coco Knits people, next year, better have these for sale!)
Stitches West

 
There were a lot of non-fiber vendors here this year, tons of knitting themed jewelry, scarf pins, buttons, baskets and the like, and these shaker boxes. The gentleman behind the table was finishing a box while we watched. The scent of sanded wood was lovely. I long to have an entire tower of them like the one in the corner, can you imagine the cost?
Stitches West

 
Doesn’t this look like an armadillo? Sleeping in pretty pottery yarn bowls. Some of the bowls at this booth had lids, which was quite clever, it keeps the ball of yarn from leaping out and hiding under the coffee table when you pull its tail.
Stitches West

 
I don’t know who he is but his fascinator is fascinating.
Stitches West

 
Please look at this closely. On size 19 needles this lady is knitting a rug. Yes, a rug, and it’s out of pure alpaca. I couldn’t stand it. I had to touch it. I had to walk on them, sadly though I didn’t feel up to taking off my shoes. Some of the booths had these lovely gel pads to stand on, the same kind that cooks use to cushion their feet from hours of standing on concrete floors. I love those gel pads. But the alpaca scattered throughout this booth were 10 times cushier than the gel pads. Can you imagine having an alpaca rug at home in the kitchen?
Stitches West

Everyone has to do something crazy at Stitches West, and this was my crazy. I forked out $70 and bought the yarn to make a rug. The skein was so large I just carried it around like a pet dog. People were stopping me and asking me about it, the yarn looks like a giant skein of dreadlocks, like I had scalped Bob Marley alpaca style. It was incredible. I started calling the skein Rover (aka roving, get it??!!) and it is a great way to meet people. I should have bought two skeins, one just for conversation purposes. I imagine putting it in one of those nylon dog carriers and taking it everywhere. This is where I realized I was getting very fatigued.

 
Anyone up for a giant grab bin of Noro and Poems yarn? This lovely gal had to climb in there to help out the shoppers lest the fall in reaching for bags of deals.
Stitches West

 
I bought this shawl pattern too, it’s called Flame and knit out of, take a guess, it’s not alpaca. It’s quivut! One of the most expensive yarns on the planet this scarf was so divine to touch, it was almost x-rated. The quivut blend required for this shawl would run over $110 for the project. But what a shawl… A girl can dream. And the available colors were stunning.
Stitches West
Stitches West

 
These socks were so clever, do you recognize what this is?
Stitches West

The yarn in this booth, the Verdant Griffon, was divine, the rich hues of their dyes glimmered like jewels. I am going to make these socks someday but not in parchment colors, in something jazzy. Have you guessed yet? It is the first lines of Beowolf in the original language. I adore them.
Stitches West

 
If you were a yarn, what kind would you be? Well, the answer for myself is obvious, and here is proof.
Stitches West

 
One of our last finds of the night was the magic Painfree Pillow booth. We were resting our feet and having an ankle break around 2 pm, drinking tea and generally looking and feeling exhausted. I remarked I wish they had massage chairs there, or those vibrating foot things, A___ suggested. A woman walking by whipped her head over and almost shouted, “You have to go the magic Painfree pillow booth, it’s amazing!!”. We giggled, thinking there were magic pain filled pillow somewhere in the world too, and then promptly forgot about it. Later, when we walked by the booth we were cajoled to sit by the hunky young men working there. What a clever staffing choice, by the way. The Painfree pillow vibrates when you put weight on it, battery operated, with 4 different vibration patterns that cycle through for 12 minutes. Oh my, my feet and lower back were in heaven and sitting there for 12 minutes really did give me enough of a boost to go on. A___ and I both bought these pillows and for the rest of the weekend my feet were so happy. I can’t wait to get home tonight and am seriously thinking of getting one for the office. Magic.

 
As we left for the day we realized that Tess was missing from the show this year. It is probably a good thing as I had already gone over my budget for the day. I got some great sock yarn from Miss Babs, and a huge cake of yarn from her for a Viajante, 1750 yards for $75. I also found some darling heather-flecked sock yarn that will make a shawl, and the kind ladies at that booth gave me a link to the pattern for it as well. Of course I found a ton of stitch markers, which I sorely needed for the Event Horizon shawl. I will share photos of these finds as I use them.

 
Meanwhile, we left the conference, actually they asked us to leave because we were there past closing time. We entered into the twilight hour and it was about 67 degrees outside, shirt sleeve weather and palm trees. I love California winters on the Peninsula!
California winter, 67 F at dusk

 
We headed North to San Mateo to stop for dinner at a Japanese Izakaya and it was fine, it wasn’t ramen but everyplace was mobbed. Who would have thought that San Mateo was the epicenter of dining on a Friday evening? It was good to get home and use my vibrating pillow and to examine all of the cards and photos I took, and admire my new yarn and patters. It was a wonderful day and I am looking forward to starting my new projects.

 

 

 

The 6′ Shawl – Event Horizon Pi Shawl

I must be crazy but I joined a Knit-a-Long for Donna Druchunas’ Event Horizon Pi Shawl, a gorgeous creation in lace from her newest book Stories in Stitches 2. The shawl is circular and starts with a light center and ends in the deepest black. It is also an incredible 6 feet in diameter.

Photo courtesy of String Theory Hand Dyed Yarns

Photo courtesy of String Theory Hand Dyed Yarns

A great yarn dyer that Donna knows made up kits for the shawl project in hues of teal to black, red to black, purple to black and grey to black. Living in Fogland as I do, I decided I needed to make what I call the “Foggy Grey Matter” Event Horizon Pi Shawl. The yarn is simply gorgeous, it’s so extremely soft for sock yarn. If you can get your hands on some String Theory Caper sock yarn I would highly encourage you to do so. I can’t stop fondling the lace that comes off my needles.

Right now it’s the shape of a Rastafarian beanie and at 560 stitches growing larger by the day. I am almost done with the second of six skeins of yarn so I have a long ways to go.   I am knitting the larger shawl, at 6 feet in diameter, and the owners of String Theory did me a huge favor and sold me one of their test skeins of yarn so that I could have enough to knit the larger size.  They’re my heroes!  I feel quite honored to be able to make a unique shawl even more unique because of their kindness.

Foggy Grey Matter Pi Shawl

and a closeup:

Foggy Grey Matter Pi Shawl

This Friday through Sunday is Stitches West and I have a shopping list which includes buying up all the stitch markers in the joint, because the handful I have will be quite inadequate once I go up to the next chart in this project.  If you want stitch markers better get to the Market on Friday before me!  If you are going, let me know, we will be doing meet ups for tea and snacks whenever my ankle gives up, which will be several times during the day!

If you want to buy a kit to make yourself a shawl, go here.  It’s not too late to join the KAL on Ravelry!  I have a feeling I will not be finished by Pi day.

Socks for Cats

While staying with my dear friend D___ during the acute phase of pertussis, mostly to make sure I didn’t die during the night alone, I wasn’t up for much as I said in my last post.  But life tries to strive for normalcy and I had time on my hands and I was taking a lot of narcotic cough medicine, some of it, in fact, is the kind some poor people try to buy illegally.

Well, I was feeling pretty goofy most of the time, when I was awake, so I made some mini sweaters using leftover sock yarn as a gift for a friend visiting from Seattle and for my mom’s birthday.

Minis

The cats were very interested in “helping” so we had a little dress up moment.

Mini / Cat

Mini / Cat

Mini / Cat

I got a crazy thought and made up a pair of socks from yarn leftover from the scarf for D___’s cats! I know, I know, cats don’t wear socks or tolerate such shenigans very well but D___’s cats are really sweet and used to little people running around so, why not, I thought.

Laughing causes me to have a huge coughing paroxysm fits but it was totally worth it.  I had to stop for a while because I was laughing too much.

Cat socks....

I had to fiddle with my mini sock pattern to get them to fit the cat. They were tolerant but questioning what we were doing.

Sniff the sock.

Cat with Socks - Series

Maybe it’s okay?

Cat with Socks - Series

First the hind feet.

Cat with Socks - Series

What is going on here?

Cat with Socks - Series

Now the front feet.

Cat with Socks - Series

Cat with Socks - Series

That’s not so bad.

Cat with Socks - Series

Then both?

Cat with Socks - Series

Cat with Socks - Series

And let’s not forget the other cat!

One second later and they’re off with a quick paw-shake!

I know it is truly wrong and yet it was so very funny!

No cats were harmed in the making of this post, all cats were truly loved and petted and got extra stinky cat food after the sock fitting.  I promise.

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