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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!

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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.

 

 

 

Puttering Along On Things

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Suddenly the pace of my life has picked up a great deal, perhaps it’s because I’m able to walk on my healing ankle so much better now.   Last month I had a period where I had not been home at night until quite late for 12 days in a row!   It has been such fun, dinners and cocktails out, baseball games and opera, entertaining at home, cleaning up after entertaining at home, having house guests,  but no much time for knitting.

I am tired.  I need to putter for a while and have some down time, some knitting time would be nice too.

Today I found at the Ferry Building in the Heath Pottery stall a mug that matches my Camino Bubbles shawl.  I love it!  I came back from my walk in the cool misting fog and put the mug to immediate use with some green and lemongrass tea.

My new mug matches my new shawl
(Heath Pottery coupe mug in mushroom/green)

Camino Bubbles update
(see, the same green as my mug!)

My shawl is too large to fit into my handbag now, which means I am about three-quarters of the way done.   The length is about four feet and I still have the bulk of the second skein of yarn to use.

 

A___ came over for the Sharknado pizza party (check my other blog soon for details on that night) and saw the shawl on my bed.  She did her usual trick of picking up the work, draping it around her and twirling and posing in the mirror, exclaiming, “Is this for meeee???”.    So darling, however, it is *not* for her, not this time!   All of the ladies at the party want one now in various colors.   I hope that I don’t get sick of this pattern so that I can fulfill their wishes and gift them one someday.  This is the very best kind of peer pressure!

My latest “handbag worthy” project is the ongoing mobius cowl from last Fall.

A handbag worthy project has to have several important and necessary criteria:

  • It needs to fit in my handbag, first and foremost!
  • The pattern needs to be simple enough that I can knit without having to refer to a complicated chart, or a chart that I have not yet taken the time to copy out of a knitting book or magazine (see first bullet – must fit in my handbag)
  • The project cannot have too many stitch markers because when you are knitting on a bus or a bench or at a friend’s house stitch markers have a strange tendency to fly off your needles and mysteriously vanish before your eyes.  It’s almost as if they have their own Bermuda Triangle thing going on.

The mobius is perfect on this count, it’s a one ball of yarn project, fits in my pretty knitting bag which is almost too large to fit in my capacious handbag, and is straight stockinette, despite the unusual cast on arrangement on a coiled cable in order to achieve the magical mobius.

The Mobius cowl is getting close to bring done!

 

(Please note my SF Giants stitch marker, a gift from the team a few years ago!)

 

It doesn’t really look like a cowl at this point but once I remove the twice coiled cable it will loop into a mobius that should reach just mid bust on me.  The colors are really unusual for my wardrobe which is inspiring me to expand my color palate a bit more.

I hope to finish it next week or soon enough to wear during our perpetually fogged in summers.  The Camino Bubbles shawl will take a bit more time, since I will working on it solely at home, either that or I should get a larger handbag.  Hmmm, now isn’t that an interesting thought?

Knitting Green Leaves

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At Stitches West this year I found a beautiful pattern for the Cedar Leaves Shawlette. The model was knitted in some sort of wool/silk combination but nowhere in the vast hall of yarn booths could we find anything remotely similar. I purchased the pattern in the hopes a perfect yarn would find me. And it did!

Knitpicks had a very nice sale on their Andean Treasure 100% alapca and the heathered green colorway was absolutely perfect. I knitted up the shawl body on Sunday in between my frenzied cooking, and then that evening  started knitting leaves.

Leaf after leaf grew on the shawlette, bursting open like the spring that is upon the Bay Area.

Cedar Leaf Shawlette

I should be finished with it in time for the weekend, when colder, more San Francisco spring-like weather, is predicted.  Knitting this little shawlette, or scarf as it really should be called, is part of my quest this year for knitting for myself, to heap love upon myself in many ways, including wonderful fibery creations.

Bring it, fogbank, I will be covered in leafy green alpaca and laughing at you.

Finished Objects: The Oakland Shawl

Before I finished my medical leave I finished my gorgeous Oakland Shawl.  I love this shawl so much!!

Something I do on the weekends

The Oakland Shawl lounges on my antique rocking chair when I am not wearing it, and it is keeping yet another pair of Turkish Bed Socks company.

The Kauni yarn really is perfect for this pattern.  It’s made from one ball of the EQ or rainbow colorway, and one ball of the EC or gradations of grey yarn and is just garter stitch with a yarnover and added stitch at each end to make the triangle shape, easy enough to do while healing mind and body.  I was quite pleased that the color combinations of the last rows were orange and black (almost black), the colors of our San Francisco Giants!!  They won the World Series this year too, perhaps good yarn juju had a part?

I cozy up in it on cool days, drape it over a coat or wear it like a scarf.  On cool weekend days you might find me propped up in bed with tons of pillows and a flask of hot Earl Grey tea and this shawl draped over my feet while I read magazines or knit something delicious.

I have encouraged my friend A___ to try her hand at this one because I think this shawl in a combination of browns and other mushroomy shaded yarn would look divine on her.

It’s tempting to knit another one, perhaps in a blue? What colors do you think?  Here’s a link to where I buy this gorgeous yarn, and all the colors they have available.

Status Update: Brain Hat & Crazy Winter Socks

I have been working every day to add a row to my Sky Scarf and the weather is cooperating nicely by being different every day. As soon as there is enough fabric to look interesting I’ll share another picture.

The Brain Hat is well underway – isn’t it amazing that this mess will become a hat some day?

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But after weekend of applying myself it is starting to shape up.

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The brim of the hat is a 1 by 1 ribbing then it’s folded over and the cast on edge is added to the live stitches – its sort of miraculous how if works out but it looks nice and will be comfortable on the head. After the hat is done then I start the fun part of knitting i-cord which will represent the nooks and crannies of the brain.

I hate these knitting needles though. My usual size 2 needles are malingering on my neglected Kauni cardigan so the only thing I could find in my needle basket was Prym circular needles with a 29″ inch cable of pure hell. No matter what I do the cables will not relax. Yelling, “Just RELAX!!!!” is not helping but I do it anyway. It makes what should be an easy peasy project into wrangling cobras.

I’ve got a headache that won’t quit and my brain hurts so it’s time for a brain break. To distract myself I started a new sock for myself. Selfish knitting!

Truthfully most of my socks have holes in the heels or need an entire new sole repaired and with this dreary, foggy weather it just seems like no fun. So I pulled out a crazy colored ball of yarn and found my size 0 needles and away I went!

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(the Crazy Zauberball by Schoppel, made from kleiner Fuchs 75%, Schurwolle sw filzfrei 25%, Polyamid crazy outfit. Crazy outfit? )

This yarn is stern stuff, very woolly feeling, not elastic, more like hiking sock yarn but I adore the colors. The bright red mixed with lime green in a two-ply is like color therapy against our dirty marshmallow weather.

My favorite sock pattern is the Simple Sock by Cat Bordi and uses two circular needles. Thanks to my pal Elaine I’ve been obsessed with socks ever since she gifted me with this book in 2006.

The first few rows are the hardest but after that it’s a breeze.

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There is something really soothing about knitting a simple sock. The quick round and round of 30 stitches on each needle, the brainless 2 by 2 rib forming a little skirt of fabric under my fingers, the anticipation of the color changes of the yarn and the purring cat sitting across one of feet, half under my chair. A cup of tea by my side and a classic French Resistance versus the evil Nazis on television makes for a relaxing afternoon.

If only this migraine would ease up. I blame the storm that is coming this afternoon. Time for more tea.

Keeping Busy – Lettuce Slide Scarf

After I finished a super secret knitting project for a family member I realized that I had two additional projects to go and felt despair fall over me.

Most of the knitting I do are gifts for other people and I realized suddenly that I need some selfish knitting.  I wanted to make myself something fun and pretty that would keep me busy and that I would keep just for me.  SELFISH!

I just happened to have the Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders book out, a gift from my mOm, and many of its pages are tabbed with colored post-its, and noted with comments like “make this one for me” or “good for A___” or “find a cute baby to give this to”.

The Lettuce Slide Scarf looked so cute and sounded easy enough, but of course I did not really read the directions through very carefully.
Ruffled Scarf

Do you see all these pretty ruffles? First you knit the body of the scarf using 213 stitches, then you bind them off. Then, you pick up 330 stitches along one of the scarf’s edges, double them, and then increase by half again, and bind off 990 stitches in a knit one – purl one bind off. And then, you repeat for the other side of the scarf. Aaack! Am I insane?

Fortunately this week I have plenty of patience and tenacity and so I started the scarf and just powered through all of these tiny stitches and finished one side of the scarf. Right now I am almost done doubling the stitches for the second side of the scarf. I must say it is very absorbing work!

I like the yarn a lot, it was from a lace sampler from Knit Picks called Shadow, a heathery medium lavender called Foxtrot.   The ruffles look really pretty and I hope to finish it today so I can wear it tomorrow.    And then, perhaps, I can finish off another super secret Christmas knitting gift.

Or not! I might make myself another pair of socks! Scandal…

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