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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.

 

 

 

The Drama of The Kauni Cardigan

In 2007 when I was a beginning knitter I got ambitious after reading the Yarn Harlot’s blog about the Kauni cardigan. I was on fire, I *had* to make it, it looked so cool!

Photo:  Ruth Sorensen's pattern

Photo: Ruth Sorensen’s pattern

Knitters from all over the world, were making this cardigan and the color variations were fascinating.

If somehow you missed hearing about it, the Kauni cardigan is a geometric patterned 2 color stranded fair isle style cardigan knit in the round and steeked, using 2 balls of Kauni fingering wool 8/2 Effektgarn EQ yarn – or the rainbow yarn – at a time, a gorgeous and modern pattern by Ruth Sorensen. According to Ravelry there are 383 cardigans in progress out there and I bet there are even more because in 2006/2007 Ravely was still in beta mode with a long waiting list for membership.

The Kauni yarn was not easy to get. I found a Danish website and ordered from there and it took several months to arrive. The lady was so sweet though and gave me two skeins of Kauni sock yarn in bright red as a thank you and for apologies for the VAT and export taxes I had to pay.
Kauni yarn!

My first order of Kauni yarn

I had never knit in the round before and made many mistakes. I remember it was in August in 2007 and I was sitting by the pool in the shade at my late beau’s home, in my damp swimsuit and wet hair, trying to cast on in the 90+ F heat, counting the hundreds of stitches and joining in the round until I got it right, I think it took several weekends to get going properly but I was determined and excited. Then I ran into trouble.

Kauni cardi 1_edited

Interesting color combinations but you have to go with the flow

I made an error with the pattern and had to start over. Then I joined a KAL (Knit A Long) and learned about the different techniques for the bottom hem and decided I wanted to do a folded hem without a ribbed band, so I started again. Then my gauge was off because I was a new (and very loose) knitter and after knitting a good third of the sweater body in the the XL size the darned thing was over 70″ in circumference! This was a major ooops, I could have fit two of me in there.
King-sized Kauni_edited-1

My circus tent Kauni, even Pogo was amazed. Miss that cat.

So I started again, and tried the Large pattern this time and things went swimmingly. I finished the yarn body and it was the right size and looked nice! But I ran out of yarn.

Kauni cardi 4a

Finished sweater body, ready for steeking. Love the color combinations here.

Another order was placed to Denmark and I ordered a boat load, literally, thinking I would make an identical, as much as one can with the variables with the yarn, for my sister.

A few months hiatus occurred until the yarn was delivered and then I cut my first steek. It was tremendously exciting. I did well, steady hands and heart. This was somewhere in the spring of 2008. I picked up the stitches for my first sleeve and breezed through it. I have a vague recollection that I did some modifications to the sleeve but who knows, I kept going. Why did this matter anyway, I thought.

Then life intervened, I left my job under traumatic circumstances and severe illness, I was on a medical leave and simultaneously unemployed. It was so nice to be “fired” while on medical leave, never mind the legality of this, and so it wasn’t until the fall of 2008 that I tried to knit Sleeve #2. Things were not going well. I was still very stressed and traumatized and not quite well yet, I was tense and my gauge wasn’t matching the gauge of the sweater body. I looked as if two different people had worked on the project. I breathed deeply, frogged the sleeve and started over. And again. And again.

When I got the gauge right I realized the two sleeves didn’t look the same in the colors. How could this be? After frogging Sleeve #2 a total of nine times I made a martini, looked at the pattern and my knitted work and it hit me. I did not follow the pattern correctly on Sleeve #1. The words written on Ruth’s pattern mocked me.

God fornøjelse/
Good luck

In my glee and haste and stress I really messed up and there was only one thing to do – frog Sleeve #1 and do both sleeves exactly as written in the pattern.

Meanwhile I was feeling better and formally on unemployment and looking for work. It was 2009, the worst recession in recent memory hit the United States. Even temporary agencies were not hiring. I had a temp job for a total of 8 days. I was frantic. In 2010 finally I found work after I my unemployment was “adjusted” to reflect the income I earned in 2009 – a whopping $40 a week. But my new job was lovely. The bag containing the Kauni cardigan mocked me from my knitting corner. I knew I needed to work on it but I just lost the heart to rip my hard won work back to balls of yarn. I know it’s only a sleeve but still it felt like utter destruction.

Fast forward two years….

Last night that I had a really harrowing experience trying to meet friends for drinks after work. I injured my ankle that is healing from surgery and got on the wrong bus because I wasn’t paying attention and I am taking pain medication and the stupid MUNI busses all have signs on the front that say GO NINERS or GO GIANTS and not the actual bus numbers and I missed that I got on an Express instead of the regular bus.

Don’t mistake me, I love our sports teams but these “team spirit” signs are really irritating when you are trying to figure out what bus is coming. Anyway, the bus driver finally relented and stopped in the middle of a block in a very bad part of town South of Market Street. I couldn’t walk, let alone, run away from the two different fights that broke out on that block or the man with the hypodermic syringe who was waving it in a stabby fashion at everyone near him, or the thuggish guy who asked me if I had a cell phone and then kept hanging around me. I walked a block with my cane looking as pissed off as I could and called an Uber to come and get me. It took 10 minutes, by then I was about ready to fall apart. I went home instead of meeting my friends, sobbed in the Uber while the driver handed me tissues and water, and took more pain medication and flopped on the bed with my TENS unit and ice packs until I calmed down.

To re-establish normalcy I looked at what was in my knitting corner and lace was out of the question. Then I saw the Kauni cardigan and thought, “F*** it, I’m going to do it.” And I did, I unravelled the entire Sleeve #1, it took several hours to do and by 9:30 pm I was done.

Since tonight was a disaster, I'm frogging this sleeve

Starting to unravel Sleeve #1. Isn’t it gorgeous though?

Looking at the cardigan I fell in love with it all over again. Sleeve #2 awaits me this weekend. I made a vow to my dear knitting buddy E___ that I would not start a new project until I finished this cardigan, and I will finish it before the end of the year.

Please wish me God fornøjelse.

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 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.

Stitches West and a Gentle Return to Knitting

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A weekend ago or so was Stitches West, the giant yarn, fiber and notions conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center. For quite a few years I have been attending with E___, my friend and knitting mentor (and also my fellow baseball buddy), and lately with my artist and crochet sisterfriend L____ and A____ have been joining us for shopping and ramen afterwards.

This was my first real weekend post flu and post ankle surgery where I felt almost like a normal person. Walking and standing is still cranky but we scheduled lots of tea breaks and the gals brought lots of snacks to keep our energy from flagging.
20130302-080226.jpg(tiny chocolate mushroom cookies!)

This year the convention center seemed rather quiet, we went on a Sunday, which is the last day of the conference and perhaps people were done for it but the crowd was thin and the shopping was even thinner. It might be a sign of the tightened economy, or perhaps because it was nice weather out but there wasn’t much going on that day. We all were on tight budgets and that never helps with shopping, but we enjoyed being able to visit every booth and have time for breaks.

E____ and I both found some great sock yarn for the San Francisco Giants games, a cutely dyed sock yarn from Miss Babs in a colorway called Pumpkin Apocalypse. E___ might be making a shawlette but I am going to make socks.

There was a very pretty pattern for a Cedar Leaf Shawlette in a green silk and wool blend but sadly there was no yarn anywhere within the convention center that was right weight with a little silk in it and in the right verdant green. I will need about two to three skeins to make the shawl and will save this pattern for when the budget allows more yarn shopping.

We spotted a simple sweater by Olga Jazzy, the Sakasama Jacket. I would like to try this pattern since I have boatloads of kid mohair but the booth was out of the pattern. I can get it online however.
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At another stall was selling mink yarn in jewel-toned colors at mink-like prices, but ooh, so very soft and lovely. All animal fiber yarn is from animals where they are either shorn or combed for their hair/fur, how does one shear a squirmy mink? It doesn’t bear thinking about overmuch.

This stall also had a sample scarf by Alchemy using their paper yarn which is surprisingly soft after washing. The scarf is combined with Alchemy kid mohair yarn that I’m obsessed about but the scarf is felted or washed vigorously after knitting to shrink the mohair part. I’ve seen it before at the Interweave Knitlab marketplace. I am still tempted to try this someday. The coir palate is pretty on me and they have a longish bolero which would be very nice to wear over all my inevitable black wardrobe pieces.
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(the ubiquitous Feather and Fan pattern again!)

It was always great fun to see Tina Whitmore of KnitWhits and I snatched up a ball of her Freia ombré yarn that changes from a deep grey-black to an Aegean teal. Tina explained it was a new color direction for her ombré yarns. She had only made a little for the New York show she attended and they were snapped up, I wish I could have seen all the colors she had made! Hopefully, in future, she will make more. The winking green-blue eye for this yarn really called to me and I couldn’t wait to make something with it.

20130301-203106.jpg(the hue of the grey truly is much darker than captured here)

We putzed around for a little while longer and then went out for dinner at Ramen Club. This is the second best ramen I’ve found in the Bay Area.
20130301-204400.jpg(tonkotsu ramen, a bowl of heaven

It was a lovely, full day!

The moment I got home I pulled out my two purchases plus the pretty pattern and I did not resist the incredible urge to start knitting.

Happily a quick search on Ravelry led me to the adorable Elk Tooth pattern by Caitlin ffrench. The talented knittingnurse on Ravelry had made up this pattern in Freia yarn in the same weight and a slight modification to use up one ball of yarn. I am about halfway done now and simply love the look and feel of this yarn. I can’t wait to wear this scarf.

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…

Fiber vs Food

Last night we had a blast at the Interweave Knits Lab’s Knitter’s Market in San Mateo.  Imagine a mini Stitches West with room to move and breathe and *chat* with the dyers, spinners and sellers.

The first thing we did was to say hello to dear @lahondaknitter who was helping out at the Nine Rubies booth.   It was lovely to see Paula again and we positively drooled over the gorgeous alpaca yarns they had and the beautiful frilled scarf with the beaded and sequined cotton yarn.  I am kicking myself for not getting some but happily they are located in San Mateo and we are planning a field trip soon.

After cruising around the stalls for a first pass we narrowed in on a few coveted items.

Our first purchases were at the Knitted Wit booth.  Our eyes were drawn a small display of superwash fingering weight skeins that sparkled in the light.  Drawing closer we realized the yarn has 20% real silver spun into it!  Lorajean told us that this was the last of the Bling yarn as they are going to remake it with some sort of plastic “silver”.  Well, that did it, we had to buy some.  I picked  “smooth as butter”, a silky, glittery butter color for my upcoming Clapoutis.  E___ picked the delicious peridot green for a lace shawl.   Such an easy purchase to make too as Lorajean uses the Square with her iPhone.  Technology is fantastic!


(photo from Knitted Wits.com)

We had a great time at the Conjoined Creations booth.  Super fun Mary Arnold showed us the Flat Feet sock yarn, which I had never seen before.  Always late to the party I was blown away!  The yarn is not in a skein or a ball, it’s in a flat piece of fabric which is then hand dyed and painted.  They are amazing, you unravel one end and knit directly from the fabric.  I chose a hand painted “blanket” in turquoise and spring green dappled with purple. E___ scored the amazing tiger-stripe “blanket” which will no doubt knit up to perfectly coordinate with her SF Giants gear.

Mary also treated us to a set of HiyaHiya double pointed knitting needles so we could start *tonight*! Thank you Mary!  She kept running into us in the market where she would laugh and ask, “Have you started yet?” or “Are you wearing your new socks yet?” Hilarious! I’m dying (haha) to try some of their raw silk. Gorgeous! I have decided that with my new Flat Feet yarn I will make the Wedge socks in cookie a’s book “knit. sock. love”.


(photo from ConjoinedCreations.com)

After flirting heavily with the gorgeous felted silk and wool shawls at Alchemy and examining their Haiku mohair lace yarn, I decided to take my replacement spiral scarf into a new direction.  Why recreate it exactly and be reminded that it is a replacement to a beloved lost/damaged piece?  Instead I decided to try a new yarn and truly start fresh.

At Freia Handpaint Fibers, aka KnitWhits, Tina Whitmore was so gracious in discussing at length her beautiful new Freia Flux Lace yarn and we agreed it would make an incredible spiral scarf.  I scored 2 skeins of Flux Lace in Purpleheart and put it in my handbag to play with the rest of the night.  Tina is great fun, her yarn is named after her dog and the name Freia is a perfect match with her dog’s personality and the etymology  of Freia, the goddess of love and war.

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I admired her cute Lanesplitter skirt in her aqua sport weight yarn and she showed us her other Lanesplitter in shades of lavender and purple. She created the pattern, oh DUH!  We had great fun talking about the Lanesplitter craze and how she met “Patient Zero” who kicked off the craze in their local yarn store.   Tina checked put my figure and encouraged me to make a Lanesplitter in sportweight, and soon!  She asked that I post pictures on my spiral scarf in progress on her KnitWhits FB page and I will!!

It was such a delight to see the gorgeous Kira K again.  She was debuting new kits with her designs for small projects with rare and hard to find yarns.  Her hat and scarf designs were adorable and the yarns were so luscious but I had ran out of money by then. Yesterday I reviewed my queue on Ravelry and was reminded that I purchased the pattern for her fabulous Bell Curve skirt and it was fantastic to see it in person.     I did not find any suitable yarn at this particular event but I will find some to knit that up very soon.  This is another skirt pattern that is fantastic for ladies with (ahem) fluffy posteriors and long stems, like me.   I also have a jacket pattern of hers queued up and ready to go as soon as I finish the hundreds of other projects I want to make *tomorrow*.  Oh start-itis, how you vex me so.

It was Kira’s encouragement that got me started in knitting, to learn to read charts, and how to knit lace. My frantic visits to Artfibers during lunch breaks to get consultations and calming by Kira were crucial to my knitting infancy and her confidence in me was so appreciated. So, thank you, Kira, for everything!

I was very tempted by a Turkish drop spindle, it looked like a objet d’art in beautiful exotic woods, but at $60 I decided to hold off to get one until SOAR’s retreat next year.  I can’t wait for that!  I have a beautiful roving in fall colors in baby camel and silk that I would love to spin but don’t know how.  Yet.

Wallets sadly empty we bid Paula adieu and headed laden down to the car and out in the drizzle.  Our next stop was dinner – Ramen Club!   I hope anyone who is at the Interweave Knits lab takes a time out to visit Ramen Club, it truly is the best ramen I have ever had.  All the yarn and fun we had at the Knitter’s Market and this massive bowl of ramen made my sacrifice of fiber over food on Wednesday night completely worth it.

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