Monday, December 16, 2013

Knitting Changed my Life

I taught myself to knit in 1996.  I accompanied a friend to a yarn store, then a new mom to a 1 yo, and saw all the cute baby sweaters.  Muggle that I was I asked if she would knit a sweater for my daughter to which she replied, "Sure, but you could, too."  She bought the supplies for a cute dino sweater (which I gave back to her when her son was born).  Anyways, I must have thought about it for a bit, but eventually bought a book or two, some yarn (red heart variegated) and needles -- US size 6 straights, Inox, I believe.  I knew how to cast on (long tail), knit and purl (or I thought I did) from childhood and proceeded  to knit this:

I went to my first Stitches in 1997 (and have gone every year since), joined a knitting guild (to which I still belong -- hello SBKnitters!) and took spinning lessons at the shop the guild met.  I joined a spinning guild and in 1998 I joined a weaving guild and taught myself to weave, this is also the year I started taking lessons in bobbin lace.  All throughout, I knit, took more classes, bought yarn (lots of yarn), books, patterns, needles, spinning wheels, sock machines, looms, learned inkle and card weaving, ... Prior to all this I was quilting and did some embroidery, and as a child I learned to sew, crochet and tat.  But nothing really took off like knitting.  And definitely, nothing stuck like knitting.

Here it is 17 years later and while I've done a little weaving, some spinning, a little more sewing (not so much quilting, just garments), and more bobbin lacing, I've done a lot more knitting.  I even started designing hand knit patterns.  And I don't see an end to it.  I can't even imagine my life without it.  There isn't a week that goes by that I'm not knitting.  I always take knitting when I travel.  Always -- it's the first thing I pack!

I know it's WiP Wednesday and while I've got a ton of things on the needles, looms, wheels,...I think the biggest WiP I've got going is me.  Knitting brings me joy, a sense of accomplishment when I'm done and inspiration for all the wonderful projects to come.  It's made me more patient, it's kept me sane but most of all it's just made me better.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's Like Playing Horseshoes


It's the end of another weekend I'm here just at the thumb. 

So close, but I'm calling it because well, Friday night looked like this.


Do you see it?  I didn't notice until I had finished the top hem (and yes cut the thread) and tried them on.  The left one looked a little, um, short? So what happened?  I think it was when I messed up on the thumb gusset and kept going on with the increases.  When I went to fix it I probably got off track on the chart.  The left is one diamond short.

I couldn't face it Friday night so the next morning I did this.


Immediately followed by this.

And spent the rest of the weekend getting back to the first picture.  So I'm calling it done (even when I still have the thumb to go -- which is where I was Friday night), it's close enough and really will be tomorrow.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Manic Monday: Waylaid

I was on a finishing spree, and was hoping by Monday I'd have a "Done and Done" post.  First up was to be Clandestine started for a CookieA KAL 3 (that's THREE) years ago. Close, finished the weekend at the toe.  I had cast on the mate immediately after finishing the toe of the first sock. As quickly as the second sock is going I don't know what really made the first one go so slow.  Was it the US 0 needles?  The intricate 14 row lace and twisted stitch pattern?  The dark yarn (with a name like Clandestine, they must be done in dark yarn, right)?  The 18-20 things I had on other needles. Whatever, but I love how they look.  The texture, the fit, the elegant lace.  Second sock is slightly looser in gauge, which is always an issue with me.  These have been claimed by dd #1.

So what happened?  Ravelry, that's what happened.  They finally added a "fiber" category for stash and a flow to handspun yarn, yay!  Ugh.  I started entering my fiber and quickly got lost down that rabbit hole. The good thing though is that now I see how much I really have -- and what's up isn't all of it by half!  Which means I gotta get busy because when this is spun it gets added to my already too big yarn stash. Double ugh.

I'm also nearly done with my Josephine mitts, just the top and the thumb to go (see bottom of previous post here).  But it's been that way for weeks.

Then there's Celestarium, and the Whovian scarf I want to start (what am I thinking, I don't even have the yarn for this yet), and a weaving project (for which I do have the yarn, but can't find)'s just another Manic Monday.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Yarn (and Cookie) Crawl

PicsArt_1380752317606Maybe it's because a yarn store in Capitola was kitty corner to Gayle's bakery for so long (2 actually, different shops, same location) that I have no problem associating yarn with special treats.  I mean yarn is a special treat right?  But the SLO Yarn Crawl had sweet treats at nearly every corner.  The crawl was officially Sept 21-22, Saturday and Sunday, 5 shops in San Luis Obispo county.  I didn't go down until early Saturday morning, buy my Aunt and her friend went to a special talk by Alchemy's Gina Wilde at the new location (new owners too) of Cambria's Ball and Skein Friday evening.  On their way they hit up Red Moose Cookie -- this is a hidden gem that I've yet to try and find, but you should hunt it down, judging from the packages they took home.

I arrived late Saturday morning and was wisked away to Pismo Beach to have our passports stamped at Eileen's Treasures.  I came away with a skein of blue handpainted sock yarn, its twin purchased by my Aunt.  At the next stop, Nordic Yarn Mart I picked up some woody rose colored long striping yarn.  Yarns at the Adobe is also in San Luis Obispo where I snagged a sk of pink sport wt, plus a copy of IW's Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits, but don't leave SLO without going down the street and around the corner to Cowboy Cookie where not only can you get the second best chocolate chip peanut butter cookie (Gayle's has the best), you can also get an ice cream cookie sandwich!  The cookies are large here, so remember, they do offer a 1 cookie sandwich where they cut a single cookie in half.  Three shops down and we had to get back to Cambria.

I love the new location and layout of Ball and Skein.  They had a great selection and I won a door prize!  I bought a Gina Wilde book and had her sign it plus one I brought and I got 2 skeins of the new Rowan Fine Art -- in a tawny colorway.  I also got IW's Unofficial Harry Potter Knits.  Now I've already mentioned Red Moose, but if you miss that, then head towards Cayucos to The Brown Butter Cookie company where the second you enter you are assailed with the aroma of butter and invited to taste every cookie they bake. I think the original brown butter cookie is my fav, but the espresso bean one is a close second, there's also cocoa, citrus, coconut lime and a mint cocoa gluten-free cookie.

UntitledWe saved Ranch Dog Knitting for Sunday so that I can just head back north from there.  This is one of the newer shops in the area located in Atascadero.  There I met Audry Knight who wrote Reversible Scarves and since I forgot my hardcopy had her sign my e-copy right on my tablet!  While there I purchased a lovely tweed wine/grape variegated skein and a mosaic(2-color) cowl pattern (I found some pink superwash in my stash that will combine nicely with it). 

I stayed at the best bed and breakfast in Morro Bay -- cost?  My skein of blue yarn.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Hitting up the LYS

So it turns out the Yarndogs closed for personal reasons, not business.  They were actually doing fine.  Still sad to see them go.  And with only 5 local yarn stores left I thought I'd visit one and a couple a bit beyond.
I went to my beloved GPY shortly after the Yarndogs closing -- my knit group meets there and while I was showing other knitters examples of the colorful magic that is Madelinetosh, I fell into a bin of a colorway I couldn't resist!  I wasn't planning on buying anything, but then again, I never am.  Like I always say, my favorite color is pink and my next favorite is rainbow.

I work in the East Bay close to Pleasanton, so I thought I'd drop by Knit This! Purl That!  What a cute store!  I had never been, seeing as I've only been working out here for just over a year and all that time before there were all these other yarn stores closer by.  It's really easy to get to and has convenient hours so I think it'll be my go-to lunchtime place.  I remember working near Bobbins Nest and going there for lunch.  There's a nice coffee place in the same center that makes great quiches.  I'll have to explore the food offerings near KTPT, but downtown Pleasanton looks promising.  I bought a new to me colorway of Crazy Zauberball in a purply-denim, and some laceweight Freia.
This last long weekend I visited another fav, The Golden Fleece in Santa Cruz.  We live just off 17 this side of the hill so we like to go down early and have breakfast in Santa Cruz or thereabouts.  We cruised down hwy 1 and made our way to Gayle's then back towards 17 to hit GF.  I got some Liberty in a nice pastel colorway and some HPKY in a not so pastel colorway!

And the best for last, since it's WiP Wednesday I leave you with this, I brought my Josephine mitts with me and knit on them a bit while I waited for GF to open.  Taken before I finished the thumb, I still have to start the other mitt.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

And Another One's Gone

Today is the last day that Yarndogs will be open.  It was a quick sale, starting last Wednesday with 50% off most things.  The first day of the sale the line to get into the store wrapped around the block.  After today there will be only 5 stores left that I would call "local".  The Knitting Room, Continental Stitch, Uncommon Threads, Purlescence and Green Planet Yarn.  On the outskirts (from me) there's still Nine Rubies in San Mateo, The Golden Fleece and Swift Stitch in Santa Cruz, and Yarns by the Sea in Aptos.
Back in 1998 when I was still a newbie to knitting there were about 5 stores close to me, of those only The Knitting Room, Continental Stitch and Uncommon Threads (new owner) are still around.  At the end of 2007 there were 12 South Bay stores! 3 closed in 2008, and since , 1 would move and 5 more would close. I have to admit, as populated as the area which I live, 12 stores was a bit much.  But oh the choices!  And the yarn crawls!  So much fun.  So much creativity.  Each store had it's own unique offerings, from special yarn to fashion shows to all star instruction. 
So what happened?  Economics?  Did the internet take business away?  Sure, I buy online, Webs usually has some good deals and Jimmy Beans always has things I can't get anywhere else (at any price).  And now with Craftsy, even classes are easier to come by.  So what's left for a local yarn store to offer?  What it has always had the advantage in, service (sales, support as well as instruction), inspiration, community and instant gratification.  Give me a reason to go to a yarn store and I will buy something.  But it isn't just about the goods, it never has been.
I'm a mature knitter so I don't need much in the way of support.  And with my stash, I've long passed the need for more yarn.  But I will always crave inspiration. And community?  What knitter doesn't need that?  What online stores and classes can't offer is that um-hmm, yup that's it moment when you need some acknowledgement that you are doing things right.  Whether that's a technique, getting gauge or picking colors that go well together.  And what about encouragement when you've finished or nearly finished something?  These are the reasons to go somewhere local, meet with friends, learn new things, be inspired.  And oh, by the way, when you're there?  Buy the yarn.
theblairgirls - View my 'yarndogs yarn' set on Flickriver

Friday, August 16, 2013

Angel Wings

IMAG1193 Here's my finished Wingspan, Angel version with a tweak.  Since I was making holes on purpose I changed the offset from 16 to 15, using the original caston amount.  This way in the end I could have all my yarnovers spaced evenly all the way across.  This was vacation knitting mostly done on a plane while I listened to a book. The yarn is Crazy Zauberball with which I got 7 of the 8 repeats.  I definitely want to do it again, maybe with a shorter cast on (I did the fingering version).  I downloaded the pattern while it was still free, but I'm tempted to purchase it because of the variations.  We'll see.  I've got lots of zauberball, as well as other interesting yarns this could be worked in. That's it for me on this Fiber Arts Friday and FO Friday.  I've got a bit on my mind with another yarn store closing in my area.  More about that later.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Slow Swing on a Trapeze

Happy Fiber Arts Friday folks! I have for you and everyone at FO Friday my Trapeze!
Yarn: Pagewood Farms Aleska in River Rock, 2 sks
Beads:  size 8/0 in pearl pink and matte purple
Setting:  4th Thursday knit night for the South Bay Knitters at Green Planet Yarn in San Jose.  My Celestarium in progress behind me on the table and blogger Vivian to my left. 
Here's the view from the back. Thanks to blogger Carol for taking the snaps!

Unblocked but otherwise finished, this was a Mystery KAL that I joined last summer.  It starts with 3 trapezoids knit in the round which are joined with lace beaded triangles and finished with an icord border at the neck edge and a lace beaded ruffly border along the bottom and ends.  I didn't have enough yarn so cut my losses and ended the border less 2 rows. 

Loved the pattern, very unique which accents the subtle tonal changes in the yarn. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Manic Monday: Progress?

I don't know if you can call it progress when I had 20 projects on the needles and still have 20 projects on the needles. In my last Manic Monday post I had 4 projects I was dying to start and 4 projects that had to get done before Stitches. I finished 2 of the 4, a reknit of my Giant Kelp in Cabled 8 and Drunken Path in So Soft Sock, and started 1, Canyon River in Super Twist in time. But after Stitches I really, really wanted to cast-on like crazy. So I started and finished 2 projects, the Lucy Hat and my Downton Abbey MKAL gauntlets.  I also cast on Celestarium, which including Canyon River which I've made a little more progress on keeps me at my running 20.  To date if I finish any 2 things I'm now working on I'll have reached my underachiever goal of 6.5 in 2013, okay 2.5 things -- but really?  What constitues half done?  A sock?  I think I have one of those.  I'm shooting for our annual participation in The Golden Fleece anniversary in Santa Cruz to have at least one Canyon River sock done.  Handwerks will be there with yarn and I'll be there with patterns.  If you missed us at Stitches, Santa Cruz is just down 17 and near the beach, stop by and say hello on Saturday, April 20.

And while I've made progress on the knitting (really I got stuff done!), I have not stopped the stash enhancement.  During the birthday week I made a trip to the new location for Green Planet Yarn to get supplies for this beautiful apron by Pam Powers, basically 7 sks of Spud n Chloe, for the flowers I'm using leftovers (does that count as stash reduction?)

Somehow or another other skeins seemed to have found their way into my basket.  Here's a mini parade of stash acquisitions from various stores, local and online:
theblairgirls - View my 'bday2013' set on Flickriver
Finally, I didn't buy much from Stitches West, but I did manage to get these slated to be a handwoven scarf on my soon to be obtained Cricket Loom (belated bday present from the dh, just haven't gotten around to purchasing):


Friday, March 15, 2013

Cast On Cast Off

Ah the joys of knitting with no deadlines.  There are several projects that I've been dying to start but with all the prep for Stitches and 20 wips already on the needles I had to show some restraint.  Immediately after Stitches I cast on a bunch of things and so I have a mini parade of FOs for you on this FiberArts Friday.  First, I cranked these out on my Quiknit circular sock machine:
The yarn, Handwerks So Soft Sock, was leftover from my Drunken Path and since I used the same yarn for the demo (different colorway) the machine was already set up for it.  Plus I wanted to try out the ribber on this machine so these were the perfect trial, and I got socklets for my efforts!
Here I am with my Lucy hat.  I bought the yarn in January and impatiently waited to cast on.  It goes fast and is so satisfying.  I finished it at my knit group and wore it after while I ran errands. Yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in Black Velvet and Baltic for the band. Pattern from Knitscene Winter 2012.
Finally, long after the final episode of the 3rd season of Downton Abbey had aired I started my MKAL gauntlets.  See my last post for pooling issues.  I just finished the right and immediately started the left.  Once I finish these I have one more project I want to cast on.  I'll still have my running 20, which really is a rotating 5, one of which is this:
I cast on Celestarium!
Happy FiberArts Friday and FO Friday!  How many WiPs do you have?  Leave a comment and enjoy cruising the blogosphere.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

To Pool or Not to Pool

I'm a little behind.  I'll talk more about my other WiPs (a running 20) another time.  Today I want to show you this:
This is how my Downton Abbey MKAL started out.  I didn't like the way the colors were pooling and the gauge was off anyways.  So I frogged down to the provisional caston and switched to smaller needles.  Here's how the colors stacked up after one repeat of the pattern:IMAG0975
And after two:
I like this much better than the swirl.  Some knitters participating in the KAL didn't like how you couldn't see the lace pattern, but I like how the lace pattern breaks up the colors into stiped blocks. 

That's it for me, it's WiP Wednesday so be sure to check out what other fiber artists are up to at Tami's Amis!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Color at Stitches West

IMAG0935While I'm working at the Handwerks booth I'm knitting up this sock. 

Canyon River was originally designed from a bargello stitch in 2 colors of yarn we no longer have.  I wanted to reknit it in a yarn we have for sale in the booth, and decided to use a single multi-colored yarn.  The stitch is a slip stitch and just a little textured.  The yarn is Super Twist in Haypress Meadow and mostly purple with a bit of yellow, orange and green.  It's completely different from the original pattern design, right?  But it works!  It follows principals outlined in a book called The Knitter's Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn: Techniques and Projects for Handpainted and Multicolored Yarn by Lorna Miser, and guess what?  We have the book for sale in our booth and Lorna will be there to sign it!  It's a great book from a very knowledgable knitter.  Who but the founder of Lorna's Laces would know what works with hand-dyed yarns best?  I was so surprised that a two color (striping stitch) could be so interesting in hand-dyed yarn.  It makes you look at stitch patterns in a different way.  I used to avoid textured stitches for variegated yarn, but I won't anymore.  Come by booth #1336 at Stitches West from 12-2 both Friday and Saturday.  Talk to Lorna in person, get your books signed and check out the yarn!
knittingwhpy Happy Fiber Arts Friday and I hope you have a colorful weekend!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Stitches West Countdown Cont

Less than a week to go for Stitches West and I have a few FOs!
IMAG0917First up is a version of my Giant Kelp Scarf, originally designed in a Handwerks Club Yarn exclusive, I've reworked it in Cabled 8.  It turned out great in this springy merino.
IMAG0918Next is a Drunken Path scarf in Handwerks So Soft Sock combined with Cascade's Kid Seta Noir.  It's knit up on 9's and goes fast!  You actually only need half a skein of the Handwerks.

Both of these and many other samples will be displayed at Stitches West in the Handwerks booth #1336
IMAG0916along with these cozy samples so you can see how the colors work up -- there'll be 25 different colorways on display available in 5 yarn bases, So Soft a cashmere blend, Silky Sock a silk blend, Cabled 8 a sport weight superwash merino, Lace  a laceweight superwash merino  and Super Twist a fingering superwash merino.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday and FO Friday.  Leave a comment and I hope to see you at Stitches West.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cozy Cranking

What do we have here?

Lovely colors going round and round.

Coming out like little yarn sausages.

It's a circular sock machine!

This is how I'm making samples for the Handwerks booth at Stitches West.  I'm about 1/2 way done.  We'll have them displayed at booth #1336 so you can get an idea of how each color knits up!  But that's not all this machine can do.  Come by the booth Saturday, Feb 23 from 2-4 and watch me make a sock on it!

This is a Work In Progress, check out other WiPs at Tami's Amis.  Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


I'm feverishly getting ready for Stitches West.  Handwerks, the yarn I design for has a booth and I've got tons of samples going.  This is mainly why I'm not casting on anything new.  We'll have samples of all the 2012 club patterns plus those from previous years. We'll also have samples of other patterns. Laura,  chief yarn dyer will bring all her current stock. I hope to have the following done, I'm including my Ravelry links so you can check my progress. Not on Ravelry?  Not to worry all projects are public.  Check back and leave a comment.
Giant Kelp Scarf in Handwerks Cabled 8

Drunken Path in Handwerks So Soft Sock

Yarn Cozy samples in So Soft Sock
If you're coming to Stitches stop by booth #1336 and see the yarn, patterns and say hi. We're both participating in the stitch marker swap, so bring your markers.  You can even sign up for our 2013 yarn club.

Happy WiP Wednesday, join the party at Tami's Amis.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Manic Monday: Goals for 2013

In 2009 I over committed myself with 2 conventions in 2010 and burnt myself out.  Ever since I've taken things one thing at a time.  So while everyone was making up their goals in January, I spent the month reflecting over the past year.  Last year I tried to do 12in2012, only projects completed with yarn purchase prior to 2012 counted.  My official count? 6.  This year I've set my sights lower and opted for the Underachievers goal of 6.5 things for 2013.  At least I know it's doable.  I did get other stuff done, but they were done with yarn purchased in 2012.
Now that 2013 is well underway, all the yarn that I bought in 2012 is now fair game!  I've started to mark my new purchases with the red badge of shame:
A 2013 branding on the bag with a red sharpie.  This yarn is verboten, but I doubt that will stop me, it just won't count towards the 6.5 things.
Projects I want to start so bad I've added them to my Ravelry projects as wips even though I've yet to cast them on.

1) Celestarium, in Handwerks So-Soft-Sock, it'll be a great project to have at Stitches West.
2) Lucy Hat
3) Downton Abbey KAL for gauntlets -- never did get started.
4) Infinity Twist scarf
Samples I have to knit by Stitches West to have at the Handwerk's booth #1336:

1) Giant Kelp scarf in Cabled 8
2) Drunken Path scarf in So Soft Sock
3) Canyon River sock in Super Twist
4) Mesquite Flat in Super Twist, sock pattern, but I may do a mitt...
5) Start Celestarium to work on while in the booth
WiPs 23, 3 of which I have no intention of casting on until the end of Feb (after Stitches).

2013 FO's: 2 ( only 1 counts towards 6.5 in 2013)

1) Color Affection started mid year 2012 (see last post)
2) a headphone cover with leftover sock yarn, while it's a fo, stash wasn't reduced by much.
General goal for 2013 is to knit more, spin more, weave more and buy LESS.  We'll see how that goes.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Stitches West Countdown

It's been a long time since I've blogged or even participated in Fiber Arts Friday.  But here I am, with an FO and lots of stuff in progress.  First, I'd like to present the FO, my Color Affection in Handwerks Luxury Sock (sadly no longer available).  It's laceweight, 100% cashmere and luscious, if only you could feel it!

If you're on Ravelry you can find details here.

I'm madly knitting in preparation for Stitches West which is February 21-24 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Northern California.  So, second (third, and possibly fourth),  I've got sample knitting to do.  A Giant Kelp Scarf in Handwerks Cabled 8, pattern by me.

A Drunken Path scarf in Handwerks So Soft Sock paired with Cascade Kid Seta Noir, pattern by K1C2.


And two lovely skeins of Handwerks Super Twist that will be something reminiscent of Mesquite Flat, originally done in Sock Plus 8, but no longer available, and Canyon River revisted, both patterns by me.

Why all the sample knitting? For the past several years I've been designing almost exclusively for Handwerks.  So this time instead of in the classroom, I'll be in the market! Come see owner and chief yarn painter Laura and all her yarns in booth 1336, and me, fledgling designer and all my patterns!  We'll have beautiful handpainted yarn, patterns, lots of samples, chocolate, stitch markers (for the swap!) and a sock machine!  We'll even have designer Lorna Miser, founder of Lorna's Laces (yes, THAT Lorna) signing books!  And to kick it all off, I'm having a 20% off sale on all my patterns available on Ravelry, just enter FNFSALE for the code in your shopping cart, now through February 15th.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday and FO Friday!  Leave me a comment and stop by again to check my progress!