Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Stitches West 2007: Part Two (Friday)

In great anticipation of the three-hour class I signed up for, I arrived at the convention center thirty minutes early and started to search for the classroom. I must say that Stitches really has done a beautiful job at setting up information displays to help get you where you want to go. I entered my classroom, met a few classmates, pulled out my materials and anxiously waited. It was another one of those minutes feeling like hours moment, but then the instructor, Gwen Bortner, began to speak. The class was called Pattern Customization & the description basically stated that you would learn how to recalculate a pattern you love, to work with the yarn you love, just by utilizing a gauge swatch & a bit of math. Of course nobody ever wants to knit a gauge swatch or do math, especially me, but that must also be why the sweater I knit DH did not fit very well. After this class I now understand why making a gauge swatch is critical to success. This class well exceeded my expectations and not only did I learn a great deal of usable information, but it was presented in a straight-forward and organized manner with unexpected humor. Gwen was entertaining, informative and engaging. I hope to take another class from her in the future.

DH met me for lunch after my class and we purchased a ticket for him, so that he could experience "knitters shopping heaven" firsthand. Our first stop was the XRX/Knitters booth were they were promoting their latest book release: Victorian Lace Today. As I started thumbing through this exquisite book, I not only appreciated the beautiful photography & stunning shawl patterns, but also realized that there are 40 patterns and the book was priced at only $29.95. I was quite shocked! I don't even knit lace and I thought it would be a perfect addition to my knitters library. In addition to this beautiful book though, most (if not all) the lace shawls from the book were displayed throughout the booth. Each shawl was a beautiful work of art and even though all the exquisite detail of each one made me feel a bit intimidated, I did notice that a few of the scarves in the book said "beginner".

As I was carefully examining each shawl, I realized that it was 1 pm and we had scheduled to meet up with Lain. I have been corresponding with Lain via our blogs for almost a year and she was actually the person who left the very first comment on my blog last year in April. Even though she has an amazing personality which shows through on her blog, she's even better in person. We had a wonderful time looking through the vendor booths flipping through books, fondling yarn, and chit-chatting about this and that, but the time passed by too quickly & she was off to a game for one of her beautiful children. She has the cutest post about us all meeting which is funny & definitely worth reading! I know if Lain & I lived closer to each other, I'd have her knitting more & she'd have me scrapbooking!

I've debated off and on for quite some time about knitting the Clapotis. It seems like everyone has been there, knit that, but it's a pattern I come back to time and time again. I never had the right yarn for the project though, and so it remained on the back burner. At the Brooks Farm booth however, they had TWO Clapotis on display each knit in a different yarn type. I showed it to DH & he immediately said he liked the one knit in their Four Play yarn, a 50/50 wool and silk blend, and then proceeded to choose a colorway for me. The colors are definitely not in my typical wine palette, but I really do like them and I'm glad he talked me into purchasing it.

One of the best items of advice from my class this morning was to purchase a skein of yarn you think you love, knit a swatch with it and if you still love it, go buy the yardage you need for your project. Since I wasn't in love with the yarn I used on DH's last sweater, I asked him to choose a skein/ball of yarn at the WEBS booth and I'll knit it into a swatch at home for him to see. I told him if he still likes it, I'll order enough yarn to make him the sweater of his choice. He chose this skein of Valley Yarns Colrain, a 50/50 blend of merino and tencel in a colorway named Majestic Blue. It's soft, has a beautiful sheen & is hopefully a dream to knit with.

As I wandered around looking at all the vendor booths, the Victorian Lace Today book kept sticking in my head and I decided that since it had left such an impression on me, that the best thing to do was just purchase it. As I started walking towards the XRX booth, I remembered seeing something about book signings. I wondered if this author was also signing so I checked my schedule and sure enough, she had signings scheduled most of that day. I located her last signing at 4:30 pm and figured we had a few minutes to get to that booth.

We arrived promptly at 4:30 at the YarnDogs booth and there was only one woman ahead of me in line. I don't know what I was expecting, if anything, but this beautiful mature woman with a slim build was sitting before me and spoke in a soft English accent. I told her I'd never knit with lace weight yarn and that in fact I'd never knit any lace items, but that her book just captivated me and I was so surprised that such a beautiful book had been written with so many patterns for such a low price, that I knew I should own it. As she opened her book, she proceeded to tell me that her publishers didn't think the book would sell for a higher amount and she also implied to me that she wasn't happy with her publishers for underestimating the value of her work. She then started delicately flipping through the pages and shared with me the patterns that would be perfect for my first project. She took off one of her shawls and told me where she had found the original pattern for that particular lace edging and how it was only a partial pattern, and the history, and so forth. She mentioned that on one of the scarf photos it shows an edging that does not match the pattern in the book but that most of the edgings can be changed anyway.

At some point I realized that quite some time had elapsed and I looked behind me to find nobody waiting. ??? She kept speaking to me like I was the only person in the room. I basked in these moments with the author until we discovered that someone else was waiting for their book to be signed. I guess I couldn't complain though, since I had just spent about ten minutes talking to her and it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things you never forget. I will treasure the moment and this book for my entire life.

After the book signing I was floating on cloud 9 and believed it couldn't get any better, but of course while I was looking through my bag of yarn when we arrived back at the hotel, I found a small blue box. I opened it and found an absolutely beautiful pearl & sterling silver bracelet from Harlan Beads. I have no idea when or how DH managed to sneak away from me to purchase this, but him doing things like this for me are one of the millions of reasons why I love him! We finished off my perfect day with a lemon drop cocktail at the hotel bar followed by sushi for dinner. Unforgettable!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Stitches West 2007: Part One (Thursday)

First, I want to say how sorry I am that I haven't responded to all of you regarding the fabulous comments on my scarf. I do sincerely appreciate it when comments are left for me, especially when you tell me how good my knitting is. Thank you!

Next (and what you're here for anyway), I'm going to give you my impressions of Stitches. Most of Thursday was spent driving from southern California (Orange County) to northern California (Santa Clara). It used to be that I hated to sit in a car, but all that changed when I was able to knit while DH drove. Now, I seem to be able to sit for almost any length of time with my iPod podcasts in my ear & my needles in my hands. The weather was horrible about 50% of the 400 mile drive and DH shared some “choice” words occasionally out of frustration, but by the time we got to the San Luis Reservoir all that ended due to the absolutely beautiful countryside that continued through arriving in Santa Clara.

My itinerary for Stitches West was to attend the Market preview on Thursday night, which is where over 250 booths of knitting-related vendors set up their wares to be purchased. Although I didn’t know it when I decided to take a class, but only students who registered for a class were allowed into the Market (vendor area) Thursday evening from 7pm-9pm. This is definitely a HUGE advantage, especially if you want to purchase or even see most of the inventory available from vendors such as Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Also, the Yarn Lady had quite a large bin about 20’ long and 2’ wide absolutely jam packed with bags of yarn at 75% off.

I arrived with much anticipation and the 30 minutes I spent in line at the door waiting to get in seemed more like an hour or two. I was armed with my map of the vendor area & had a general game plan in place of what booths I was going to try & get to that evening in such a short span of time.

My first stop was Blue Moon Fiber Arts so that I could finally personally see this fabulous yarn with all the different choices of colors up close & personal. I was definitely not disappointed but it was tricky seeing everything since we were stacked 3 people deep all trying to do the same thing … get to the yarn! As I started grabbing armfuls of sock yarn, I then remembered that I was on a budget and if I blew all my money at this booth, the adventure would end. So I carefully chose two of my favorite yarns and proceeded to the cashier. The one on the left is Obsidian & the colorway on the right is Garnet. When I got back to the hotel room, DH decided that Obsidian should be used for a pair of socks for him. Even a guy can't resist the power of Socks That Rock!

The rest of the night is a wonderful blur of yarns. I do remember specifically going to the Brooks Farm booth to look at their FourPlay in hopes of purchasing some for a Clapotis (since I may be one of the very few that have never knit one), but decided instead to purchase two skeins of their Acero yarn. The yarn is a fingering weight blend of washable wool, silk and viscose that has a somewhat heathered look and I just couldn't put it down! I’d seen their website many times and liked the yarn, but in person, this yarn is absolutely stunning!

The Yarn Lady is a local yarn store about 30 miles from my house, and although I've never been there in person, I stopped at her booth because I knew she was carrying the new Addi Turbo Lace circular needles. After the frustration I’ve had with the KnitPicks recently, I think it just may be worth the extra $10 a needle to purchase the new Addi needles. I picked up two packets of the 24” cable size 1 US, since that’s what I seem to use most frequently when knitting socks. I was most impressed that the cables have the needle size inscribed on them and this is very much appreciated!

I'd only intended on purchasing needles here, but of course after looking around, I saw the Koigu KPPPM that I’d only viewed online. Since I’d noticed my color palette that evening seemed to be mainly in the burgundy colorways, I branched out and chose blue. After all, it’s Project Spectrum colors currently.

The only other purchase I made that evening was at CommuKnity where they had quite a large inventory of Claudia Handpaint yarn. I had a horrible time choosing which of the fabulous colorways to purchase, but I ended up choosing their most popular, Chocolate Cherry.

Of course I stopped at other vendors that evening for a quick sneek peek, but I was amazed that in 2 hours I probably only saw ¼ of what was there. I couldn’t wait for Friday!

Stay tuned for part two which includes a class, meeting an online blogger friend, a book author & why I love my husband!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I'm off to see the knitters....

I'm leaving for Stitches West in about 3 hours, then you'll have to put up with another post or two about it, and then I'll try to stop talking about it. Now I understand why you guys talk about Rhinebeck to death! It's very exciting to be attending one of these events & since it's my first, I have lots of anticipation!

And now.... presenting ... my extremely belated Christmas gift for my mom.

Pattern: Forbes Forest by Kathy Zimmerman

Pattern Source: Scarf Style from Interweave Press

Yarn: KnitPicks Merino Style; Nutmeg colorway; 5 skeins

Needles: KnitPicks Options size 5 US

Finished dimensions: 9.5" wide by 60" long

Notes: In making this scarf, I learned how to make cables without a cable needle and make bobbles without turning your work. The yarn was so inexpensive that I don't dare say anything bad about it. It was pleasant enough, but not anything to go on and on about. The pattern was well written, but I was unable to memorize it. If I were to knit this again (and I might), I would change the pattern to omit one of the two knit "stripes" before the center panel & one of the two knit "stripes" on each end. Personally, this scarf is too wide & I calculated that if I omitted these knit "stripes", it would cut the width by approximately 1.5" thereby making it the perfect width.

I'm taking my laptop and camera with me to Stitches so hopefully I'll remember to take photos. I'm always horrible about having my camera with me and not snapping one photo. What's with that? Tonight is two blissful hours of shopping at vendors booths, Friday morning is my 3 hour "Pattern Customization" class from Gwen Bortner and then Friday afternoon I meet up with Lain (who has been commenting on my blog since I started it a year ago) for more shopping! I'm so excited!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Insert Clever Title Here

I'm a bit upset with KnitPicks. Of course I tell you last time that I'm happy with their customer service, but then they go and screw up all that goodness. I decided to purchase some circular needles for my little sister so she can knit up some socks. Currently she only has size 2 needles which won't work for the sock yarn she has in her stash. At 11:00 pm PST I placed the order with KnitPicks. At 11:02 pm PST I realized that I ordered the 16" cables instead of the 24" cables. DUH! Of course, they are closed. The next morning at 9am PST (only 10 hours later) I called KnitPicks to have the order corrected.

KP: Sorry, but we can't change your order.
Me: Why? I just placed it last night. It's for the same size needles, but just a different cable length and it's the same exact price.
KP: Because the order is already in the warehouse.
Me: Can't you send the warehouse a change order?
KP: We don't do that, but you do have two options. You can wait until you receive the needles & then mail them back to us for the exchange, or you can place another order now for the new needles & then when you receive the incorrect needles you can mail them back to us.
Me: Can I just cancel the original order?
KP: No, because it's already being processed in our warehouse.

Now people, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't it normally take KnitPicks FOREVER to process an order? For heaven sakes, I just checked online and I placed the original order on February 15th & the status still shows pending. They couldn't have cancelled the order? I think it's just poor warehouse management in my opinion. I've worked in the warehouse and distribution industry in the past and at each of the companies I worked for there was an order cancellation and order change policy within the first 24 hours of the order being placed. Am I being unreasonable?

In other actual knitting news, the Forbes Forest scarf and We Call Them Pirates hat are both finally blocking, and my Pomatomus socks are now getting heels! I'm unsure how much further I'll get on the Pomatomus since I leave for Stitches West on Thursday & I've got a lot to do before I leave. Thankfully there will be FO's to post with details as soon as the scarf & hat dry ... assuming they will dry since we're having rainy weather (which I love since it reminds me of Seattle).

And now completely off subject, my little sister made me cry yesterday morning with this beautiful post she wrote about me. I feel like the luckiest big sister in the world!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sugar Free Cabernet?

My first pair of socks are complete for the Sock A Month KAL3 . Isn't it ironic that the pattern I used was designed by one of the KAL hostesses, Chrissy, AND my KAL group leader, Karen, is who the pattern was designed for? Typically I'm not a huge fan of purchasing sock patterns since there seems to be an abundance of free ones all over the internet, but the proceeds for the purchase of the pattern went towards Karen's Walk for Diabetes, so it was well worth it!

Sugar-Free Cabernet Socks

Pattern: Karen's Sugar-Free Diabetes Socks

Pattern Source: Gardiner Yarn Works

Yarn: Berroco Pure Merino; Cabernet colorway

Needles: (2) KnitPicks Circular size 1 US

Notes: The first time I knit this pattern, I followed the pattern as written, but this time I converted the pattern to knit these toe-up. I had no clue what I was doing in the heel section and got very lucky that it all worked out. Thankfully, Judy emailed me her toe-up heel math, so my next pair should go much better. I love the pattern stitch detail in how the finished product looks, but also that it's easy to memorize! I've knit with this yarn twice before when I made the Backyard Leaves Scarf & the Fetchings and although I did love the yarn during those two projects, I didn't really enjoy knitting with a worsted weight yarn on size one needles for these socks. I do like the finished project, but in the future I'll probably stick to lighter weight yarn when knitting socks.

While knitting these socks, my KnitPicks Circular cable came out of the needle at the joint. Not Cool!! DH was sitting there when it happened and asked if he should get the super glue. I guess he figured the duct tape wouldn't work. I contacted KnitPicks today and they are sending me a replacement needle in the mail tomorrow.

Yes, this photo sucks, but it was very late last night & I wanted you to see the obviously wasted knitting time in making socks that are too big. This is the beginnings of the Pomatomus pattern that I'm attempting to knit toe-up. I'm using regular sock-weight yarn & size one needles as I always do, but there are 68 stitches total instead of my usual 64 and obviously it made a huge difference! I already ripped back & now am casting on with my size zeros. Oh what fun?

One last very important item! Christine is doing Project Snuggle again this year, and I'm very excited to be participating. I've never knit anything like this before, so it should be fun.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Yarn Collecting & Blogger Friends

On Thursday I got to do two great things! I met a new friend, Laura, and bought more yarn for my yarn collection. Laura & I have been corresponding for awhile via comments on each others blogs, but we finally decided to schedule some time to meet at the LYS when we discovered that we lived fairly close to each other. Can you believe I was 30 minutes late? I'm sure she thought I'd stood her up or something, but I was having "one of those days"! You know the ones. When anything & everything that can go wrong, does. I don't have them very often, but when I do, I wonder what the universe is trying to tell me.

I finally arrived at the LYS with many apologies spewing from my mouth, and then realized I was standing in the middle of knitters heaven. Keep in mind that I've only been in five other yarn stores in my short one-year knitting life, but this one was extremely different. In fact, I'll bet there may only be a handful like it anywhere. If only I were a writer & could describe the vision before my eyes, but I can say this, there was probably as much yarn in that small store at one time, than there is in a regular yarn store over the period of a few years! Seriously! There were aisles & aisles from floor to ceiling of yarn cubbies STUFFED with yarn. In fact yarn was falling out of bins & landed on me they were so full. The aisles were so tiny that two people couldn't walk side by side down them either. It was a fun place for yarn exploration.

I purchased the perfect yarn for Project Spectrum 2.0. I know I can knit in blue, white, or gray for February and March, but how perfect that I was able to find yarn in all 3 colors? The best part, I probably wouldn't have purchased this yarn if it weren't for Project Spectrum because it's really not something I could've seen myself wearing, but now that I have it, I can't wait to knit with it. I guess that's the beauty and point to Project Spectrum though.

This is Regia Bamboo color 1061 and this is my first time knitting with yarn that has bamboo content. The label states it is 45% Bamboo, 40% Superwash Wool, and 15% Polyamide and since it's bamboo, it has a high breathability factor which will be great for summer socks! Now I just need the right pattern for it.

Laura & I searched through an entire overstuffed bin of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, and I didn't find one that yelled "buy me", but in a bin next to it, there was some beautiful sock yarn named Jitterbug by Collinette.

I've been wanting to knit the Pomatomus sock pattern for quite some time and I think this yarn will be perfect for it. I'm going to attempt to knit this toe-up and thanks to Judy for emailing me the math instructions for how to calculate heels on making any toe-up sock, I just may make it work!!

Laura purchased some gorgeous laceweight yarn for the cover shawl of Victorian Lace Today as well as a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in a colorway so gorgeous that had she set it down for even a moment, I would've bought it! After shopping we sat outside on the patio of the Corner Bakery swapping stories & sharing yarn projects while she sipped her lemonade & I sipped my iced tea. I know those of you in the thick of winter weather won't appreciate hearing that, but believe me when I say that we due to the cost of living here, I think we actually must be paying for all this nice California weather! It was an absolutely fabulous afternoon & I can't wait to do it again!

Tune in to this blog in the next day or two for some Finished Projects!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What I'm Up To Wednesday

First, thanks for all the compliments on the Spartan Pullover Sweater and thanks for pointing out the obvious that this was my first sweater project, that I succesfully completed the fair isle & that the sweater is even wearable. Maybe I will attempt another sweater soon after all!

I've calculated that I knit about a sock a month currently, so when I saw that there was a Sock A Month Knitalong, I knew it was going to be something I could succeed at!

I signed up immediately (the first day) and to my utter astonishment and elation, a frequent commenter here, Karen, is my team leader. Isn't it a small knit blogger world? I've decided to knit the Sugar-Free Diabetes Walk Socks again. I knit them once before and really liked the stitch pattern, but I knit them the first time in sockweight yarn & this time I wanted to knit them in worsted weight yarn as the pattern suggests. The pattern suggested Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, but since I have none in my stash & I'm trying not to buy much before I go to Stitches West, I searched to see what suitable alternate in my stash might work. I spied quite a few skeins of Berroco Pure Merino in the cabernet colorway & figured it would probably work just fine. So far, so good!

In other news, I did receive the jewelry I ordered from Heather. Everything was better than I even hoped for. I placed my order on Wednesday afternoon & had it in my hands on Saturday afternoon. I was definitely expecting beautiful jewelry, but just look at the fabulous packaging with the jewelry pouch, care card, Dove chocolates, (because chocolate goes with everything) and FREE earrings! You can't tell by the photo, but they are the prettiest delicate pink color.

When I opened the jewelry pouch, I found my beautiful necklace. It was even better than I'd hoped & I'm so thankful that I found Heather and her etsy store.

The necklace is named "nora" and I noticed that she has another one in her etsy store (Twisted Lily Designs) available for purchase along with a lot of other beautiful jewelry. If I weren't trying to save money for my Stitches West trip, I'd buy the other "nora" and give it as a gift to someone.

On Thursday I'm meeting Laura (a frequent commenter here) at a local yarn store. We had discovered over time that we both lived fairly close to each other & so obviously a meet up was in order. She has knit some absolutely beautiful items (and is working on a gorgeous afghan for her mom), but not only does she knit, she also stitches (cross-stitch). I thought this was quite ironic since I gave up cross-stitching last year when I started knitting. She has shown me through her blog that you can make time for both.

So, just for you Laura, here's what I WAS working on & set aside over a year ago. Thanks to you, I've pulled it out of the closet & may finish it.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The So-So Spartan

When reading this & viewing the photos keep this in mind:
  1. This is my very first adult knit sweater.
  2. I knit this in secret very late at night while DH was sleeping.
  3. I knit this without ever taking his measurements.
  4. I learned my lesson.
Pattern: Spartan Pullover by Kristin Nicholas

Pattern Source: Interweave Knits Fall 2006

Yarn: Tahki Kerry; 10 skeins #5011 black, 1 skein #5012 charcoal

Yarn Source: Webs

Needles: KnitPicks Options size 7 & 9 US 24" circulars

Notes: The pattern instructs you to work the sweater in the round from the base to the neckline, so I also decided to work the sleeves in the round using the 2 circulars technique. I'm not a huge fan of seaming, so this worked out very well for me. I worked on this sweater secretly while DH was either sleeping or at work since I gave it to him for Christmas ... BUT since I took no measurements, it was too small when he put it on (of course), so I had to block the hell out of it again, stretching it in ways that it didn't want to be nor should have been stretched. It fits him okay now, but it really didn't turn out as nice as I'd hoped.

I absolutely love the fair isle detail at the bottom and since it was my very first attempt at fair isle, it was very rewarding. The yarn was nice to work with, although I found out after I purchased it that this company (Tahki Stacy Charles) is not consumer friendly. I'm trying to be more concious of purchasing consumer friendly yarn, so even though Webs has it on closeout for almost half the price I paid for it, I've decided not to purchase it again. I've also decided to NOT knit anymore adult sweaters until I practice on a few kids sweaters first. Maybe Starsky Jr?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Little Secrets

Tag, I'm It!! 5 Secrets About Me!

I was tagged by Lara & this is my first time being tagged ever! I don't know how I feel about it, so I guess I'll just start typing & see what comes up!

Here's the rules:
  • Get tagged
  • List five things that have not been revealed on your blog
  • Tag five other people
1.) I've been married 3 times. The first one really doesn't count since our marriage was annulled after 10 horrible months. The second marriage lasted 8 years. He was a wonderful girlfriend. I've now married for the last time 3 years ago. How do I know this is the last time? This marriage is sooo different from the other two. And .. I think you just know.

2.) I used to be Mormon. I was raised Mormon (strict) but decided as an adult that it wasn't for me. I could elaborate on this further, but I'll spare you my religious beliefs.

3.) I used to be a highly successful sales manager making 6 figures a year. For the last 2 years I've been President, CFO & Manager of my home instead. I pay myself in cuddles from the dogs, enough yarn to always be able to knit something, & being loved by the most amazing husband in the world!

4.) I'm a perfectionist. I'm in constant battle with myself over it. I have the opinion that if I can't do it perfect, then I won't do it at all. It's the one thing I hate about myself, but I'm working on changing that one day & one step at a time. Blogging helps me get over my perfectionist self by admitting my faults ... cheap therapy indeed.

5.) My life goal at 14 years young was to study piano at Julliard & perform at Carnegie Hall. I did end up studying piano performance in college on a full ride scholarship, but quickly realized that it was probably not the right choice. I don't play the piano much anymore since as a child I used to practice the piano up to 4 hours a day ... can you say "burnt out"?

I'm tagging Laura, Heather, Carole, Karen, and Nicole. Of course there are many more of you that I'd like to tag, and you escaped this time, but you may not be so lucky in the future!

*Just a sneak peek photo of a FO I'll be posting about in the next day or two.