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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.

 

 

 

San Francisco Giants’ Stitch and Pitch Night and Camino Bubbles

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I've missed my Willie

Every year our San Francisco Giants host a night for knitters and crocheters called Stitch and Pitch. Stitch and Pitch is a national initiative where local knitters can support their local team and get swag and recognition on the jumbotron. Some teams go all out and make the icons for the bases into balls of yarn and other neat tricks. Here in SF we are just happy to be mentioned and get to sit together in the chilly night air, huddled for warmth, knitting things we wish were finished in time for the game that night.

This year was no exception. Despite it being the official first day of summer although it was warm at lunchtime by nightfall the airs were quite frigid and we were grateful for our lap blankets, warm coats and fuzzy knitting things, and my hat from a previous year.

The teeshirt they gave us this was extra special, it has a sleeve patch that says 2012 World Series Champions! I think it’s really sweet that the Giants make up shirts for their knitting fans.

We didn’t have a special section this year but rather were scattered throughout the stadium, over 500 knitters were there this year.

My view, waaaay up there

Nice view, right? We really cracked up the people sitting behind us though, they just couldn’t believe we actually knit at the game. Yes, we do, and my Camino Bubbles shawl was wonderful to work on, being so warm and fluffy.

Of course we really enjoy the food at the ballpark too, it’s one of the highlights. Where else can we enjoy a “California Cheese Steak Sandwich” which is chicken, mushrooms, onions and peppers and “cheeze sauce”.

So wrong - so fucking right

After a thorough handwashing, I worked on my shawl until it got too cold and then just huddled my hands inside of it.

Camino bubbles 1/2 way through

I am about halfway through at this point. Although the Ivy Trail colorway looked great wound inside the ball, I am not very much in love with the colors as they appear in the shawl. I am committed to it though and I am sure I will find the finished object more versatile colorwise than it appears to me now.

Camino Bubbles update

Sadly we lost the game that night but it was fun to be out there wearing our Stitch and Pitch orange and black.  Can’t wait for my next game!

Camino Bubbles and The Small Things

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Last year I came across a shawl pattern that made me smile, I think it was the colored yarn and the pretty photograph that really did it for me. It just looked so happy and happy was what I craved right then.  I was healing from surgery, a broken heart and the loss of my beloved Pogo.

Camino Bubbles by Kieran Foley

Camino Bubbles by Kieran Foley

(doesn’t this make you smile too?)

Now that my body is healing I wondered if my heart has, and realize, no, it has not. A friend offered me a kitten and I just could barely finish the conversation before dissolving into tears.   This simple and kind offer brought up all kinds of things lurking under the surface that I have been holding down and out of sight.   I miss my cat.  I miss being loved.   I miss my late boyfriend and the other one before him that just didn’t work out.  I miss being happy.

Trying to define what makes me happy is part of my healing exercises.  Positive thinking and planning for the future is part of this too, so is playing with pretty, soft yarn and being creative.   I realized the other day that we can’t do anything about the big hard things that happen in our lives: death, illness, loss, pain.  We can, however, actively seek out and build up on the small things that bring happiness.  Seeing a beautiful planting in a flower bed and pausing for a moment to enjoy it; standing in a sunny spot instead of rushing to cross the street; having a cup of really good coffee out of a pretty cup; reading a note from a friend send by the post; sharing a meal with someone you love – these are all small things that make me feel good.  They are not life altering moments, often they are quite brief but I am making a conscious choice to seek them out and create them for myself.   My hope is that by having enough Small Things happen will sort of offset or cushion the awfulness of the Big Things of which I have not control.  Isn’t there a saying such as “Many small steps make a mountain” or something like that?

I love this....  Trees are poetry...
(Small Things like this, found while walking home are worth noticing)

With this new mindset, I took stock on the Small Things that make me happy and of course making things with my hands and my heart were high on the list.  I already have dozens of scarves and shawls and lots of socks but the point of it is that I made them, they are healing activities and bring me happiness during the process.

That night I decided to purchase the Camino Bubbles shawl by Kieran Foley and make it for myself.  It will be ready by summer when our delightful fogbank descends.    So, I cracked open a bottle of wine from my little adventure this weekend, and got started.

The yarn I am using is called Poems Sock by Wisdom Yarns in the subtle Ivy Trail colorway.  It is pretty, with soft greens and creams and bark hues that flow from one color to the next.  This yarn is fun to use because it is a single ply, sometimes is thick and sometimes it is thin, it has a bit of a shimmer to it in the sunshine and feels good to work with in my hands. I made my mom an adorable tea cozy for her baby Brown Betty with this yarn in an autumnal color one year and I still have that yarn in my stash which is destined for a sweater someday, perhaps someday soon.

I turned on an old time radio program on a podcast that my dear sis recommended, Case Closed by Relic Radio.  They feature murder and detective mystery stories from the 40’s and 50’s and sometimes the shows were set in San Francisco.  It’s wonderful to knit by, although sometimes it got so exciting I forgot where I was in the pattern and had to go backwards a bit.

A glass of wine, an hour or two of knitting and the aromas of my pot roast slowly simmering in the oven finally made me feel a bit better.

Camino bubbles 1
(Camino bubbles in progress – Chart A halfway done)

At lunch yesterday I knit while in the sun in a little garden area in FiDi.  As I was knitting I realized there were tiny shadows bouncing over my knitting.  I looked up to see that they were from the honeybees zooming around the flowers, how delightful is that.  They didn’t mind sharing for a moment for a quick picture.  I also noticed a large swathe of star jasmine which are starting to set buds. I will be keeping an eye on them and will be sure to return when they are in bloom.

Camino bubbles 2

I will be happy again, and while I find my happiness through Small Things I will have lots of “Heather-love” in knitting form to keep me cozy.

Knitting “Recipes”

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Ever try to cook something and find you didn’t read the recipe well enough, and end up realizing you should have allowed more time, or started a day earlier, or purchased x, y or z from the store before starting?

Everyone has had that, “Oh, ugh” feeling, and it happens with knitting “recipes” too.

My pretty Cedar Leaves Shawlette is no exception.

Cedar Leaf Shawlette

I knitted the shawl body in a bang up fashion recently and have been having a ball adding the leaves along the edge, but somewhere along the line I had that dreadful feeling.

Gee, the edge of this shawl is awfully curly.  It’s stockinette, just how much blocking am I going to have to do to get this to lie flat?

(methiks to myself)

Curly edges, oh crap

Well, after I added all the lovely leaves, I started poking around Ravelry looking at the other shawls people had knitted from this pattern, and wouldn’t you know, I messed up on the first six rows of the knitting.  I should have knitted six rows of garter stitch, but instead I did six rows of stockinette.  The directions helpfully said:

Knit six rows.

Hmmm. Well, there we are.

So I decided at lunch today to pick up all the stitches along the curly stockinette edge and knit a few rows of garter stitch.  It took all of my lunch hour, less the time it took to eat half of a corned beef sandwich, to pick up the stitches and knit one row.  I know it will be worth it in the end because I wasn’t about to unravel the dang thing.

Next time, Heather, read the recipe better and do a bit more research on other’s people’s photos before starting a project….

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