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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.

 

 

 

Bacon Makes Everything Better

Bacon makes everything better. Bacon yarn definitely makes socks better.

I am just smitten with my newest socks knitted using the Holiday Yarns bacon colorway and Knitty’s Skew pattern.

Bacon socks

Aren’t they just so tasty?

It makes me smile every time I look at them, and it heightens my almost constant craving for a slice of bacon.

I have one more skein of bacon yarn to knit up, for my Bacon Queen friend! If you have any sock “recipe” suggestions I would love to hear what you think would maximize the design of this yarn.

The Ease of Distraction

Spring has arrived in San Francisco. As I sit in the sun at a roof garden next to my namesake blooms, the sun kneads my shoulders with warm fingers and I tune out the sound of the city on the streets below.  The sky is soft blue and I gave away at the high rises around me.

Vitamin D break. Ahhhh....

 

I am breathing deeply and knitting a sock and admiring my jewelry flashing in the sun.

Knitting provides the ease of distraction of a busy day. My mind wanders as my fingers create perfect tiny stitches, a sock for foggy nights grows in my hands.

In my purse is a warm scarf for later tonight, but for now the sun and knitting is lulling my nerves and filling me with peace.

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Crazy Blue Socks and Bacon Socks

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It’s Easter and I am up at my parents. My stepdad’s newly diagnosed dementia (discovered at Thanksgiving) has suddenly taken a huge downturn and he is temporarily in a convalescent hospital. My mom has been living at the hospital at his side and while it seems the crisis has passed he is not well enough up come home. We ate together though, now, for this weekend and that is the best thing.

Last weekend my sister and I visited and took care of a lot of things that had piled up over the 3 weeks my parents had been at the hospital. This weekend mom is sick and I’m not feeling well either. We can’t visit the hospital, their rules, so there is nothing to do but to be at the house and try not to worry. We are all a bit manic with worry. My only salvation, besides comforting and amusing texts from friends, is knitting.

I finished a pair of socks I started last year. This is the longest I’ve ever taken to make a pair of socks, particularly since its just a simple ribbed sock pattern using the Zauberboll Crazy yarn in shades of blue.

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I brought a ball of bacon striped yarn and started a pair of toe up socks right away. This is the Skew pattern from Knitty. I thought its design would really let the bacon effect shine.

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Tomorrow, Monday night, we will have our Easter dinner if mom is feeling better. I’m hoping my sore throat is better then too and I’m not starting the same cold. Meanwhile, knitting is keeping me relaxed and my mom and sister love watching the bacon socks grow.

It’s normal for me to be up here, plopped in the orange Danish chair that was my childhood favorite, knitting and chatting with my stepdad while he watched whatever sports was on the tv. Now, even though the couch is empty and a cooking show or old movie is on tv, to my family it looks normal. I’m doing my little part to keep normalcy by knitting, although on the inside I’m a matted skein of yarn.

Sunday Mornings

Peaceful Sunday mornings….

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…don’t get any better than this. A huge cappuccino, my Crazy Zauberball sock and Good Neighbors on the iPad.

Knitting on a Deadline

I volunteered to work on a secret project, a commission for a knitting sample and I am excited about how it is coming out.

I am not excited, however, about the feeling of knitting on a deadline. Time is running out! I am making good progress but I feel the pressure and the strain of it all. This is not what knitting should be, for me, nerve-making.

I realized that I have quite a few unfinished objects that I would like to work on, but lack the time/focus/energy.  To keep myself honest and to out myself for my Unfinished Objects (UFO’s), here is my list:

  • Weaving in the ends of the Craftsman Afghan, a very late Christmas present.  This has been gathering dust on the back of my settee, so I will probably have to wash and reblock it. 
  • Finishing the final 1/4 of the back of the Sea Tangles sweater, a gift that is a surprise.
  • Seaming the Sublime Sweetheart sweater
  • Blocking the Sublime Ruffled Edge sweater (I would really like to be wearing this now, it’s cold out!)
  • Knitting the collar for the Fog Chaser jacket, another late Christmas gift
  • Another commissioned project, the Brain Hat. I bet my friend thinks I totally failed on this request.
  • I should start up the Foggy SF Sky Scarf too, since I bungled it last year.
  • Then there is my albatross, the sleeves for the Kauni Rainbow Cardigan by Ruth Sorensen, from 2007!
  • I would also really like to knit socks with my new bacon sock yarn, I think the Skew pattern will be perfect for this yarn.
  • Socks needing darning. Would you believe I have six pairs of socks that need darning, and one that needs a moccasin sole created? I only have 3 pairs of socks to wear and we are in the thick of winter.

I am ashamed these projects have lingered so long, but this year has been an unusual year for me with the ankle surgery and the accompanying brain fog and lack of interest in doing anything.  Last year’s shoulder repair also hampered me greatly, I am so glad it is better now.

Struggling with fatigue and burnout from the persistent SSS (stiffness, soreness and stabby pain) of my healing ankle is not helping my knitting time.

Meanwhile I look at the clock and watch it tick, tick, tick, and worry that I won’t make my upcoming deadline.

Worrying about knitting, no bueno.   Sigh.

Socks for Comfort

It’s just past Christmas and I’m up in the Gold Country visiting my parents for a very quiet holiday. The rain has been off and on, cloudy skies, chilled valley fog and bone-chilling cold have been outside the nicely double-paned windows.

Inside, I have been making pot after pot of hot soup and the teapot has been very busy. Right now we finished off the chicken soup for lunch, filled the bird feeders, and the duck stock from the Boxing Day roast duck is simmering away.

I retired to my favorite orange chair in the family room to work on the second sock out of Zauberball Crazy yarn in blues and purples while my stepdad snoozes over his newspaper.

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Wishing you and your family a very Happy and especially healthy New Year!

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