Friday, February 26, 2010

It's Raining Yarn

Actually, it's raining rain here. We had a torrential downpour late this afternoon for several hours, which I spent curled up in a fleece blanket watching Everybody's Fine . What a great movie.

I spent the morning at Stitches West with my friend Cathy and had a great time. My purchases included Valley Yarns Goshen yarn, a blend of Peruvian cotton, Modal, and silk. I intended to buy soft yarn in solid colors for a couple of small wraps I want to knit, and I think this will do the trick. There was lots and lots of gorgeous sock yarn and some silk I think I might have drooled on, but overall I managed to control myself.

I picked up a couple of these little notion cases. They are the size of a soap box, but you flip it open and it has small compartments for markers, pins, embroidery needles, etc.

Speaking of stitch markers, Cathy bought me these cute red and blue markers made by
Miss Purl that come with their own tiny tin box.

I like them so much I bought a set in blue to offer as a giveaway in celebration of my one year Blogiversary earlier this month and as a thank you for your friendship and support.

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment and include your email address if it isn't on your Blogger profile. This giveaway is just for those who read my blog regularly, so there's no need to mention it on your blog. I'll use the random number generator to select the winner on Thursday morning, March 4th. This giveaway is open to my readers in any country.

Thank you for making my first year of blogging so wonderful.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fickle Girl

Yesterday I returned some sock yarn I didn't like and exchanged it for this Cascade Heritage Paints yarn. I made a swatch last night because I wasn't sure about the colors (they are a bit washed out in the picture), and it knit up beautifully. In fact, I like it so much I carried the ball of yarn with me in my purse today, taking it out periodically to admire it throughout the day. I'm thinking of using it for an
Ishbel shawl.

You might remember I took a toe-up sock class last month, and this month I've been learning cuff-down. Things were going fine until last Sunday's class when I used the wrong needle to pick up the heel stitches. While trying to transfer the stitches to the correct one I dropped a few, and while trying to rescue them a dozen more fell off the needle. Part of me (the part that is still three years old) wanted to burst in to tears, throw the whole mess on the table, stomp out the door and never ever knit another sock.

Fortunately the teacher noticed I was drowning in dropped stitches and took it out of my hands. She was able to get all the stitches back on the correct needle, a small miracle. I'm thinking I like toe-up socks waaaaay better at this point. Actually I'm thinking I'm not as in love with sock knitting as I thought I was.

And that's because my new love is lace! I set up my grandmother's old dining room table in my bedroom to work on my shawl and just love to go straight to the table when I get home from work and start knitting.

(This picture uploaded sideways ... oh well.)

I wish I could capture how vibrant the colors are in this Misti Alpaca Pima Cotton & Silk Yarn . I can't say enough wonderful things about this yarn ... it's incredibly soft, the colors are rich, and it is such a pleasure to knit with. I'm planning on buying more in a couple different colorways very soon.

My shawl is up to 195 stitches, and my collection of markers is growing as well. How did I ever knit without them? I'm totally hooked.

It's cold and pouring rain outside this evening. I'm going to curl up on the couch and watch American Idol. Have a good night!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stitches is coming! Stitches is coming!

Stitches West, that is.

If you aren't familiar, it's a big knitting show that comes to town once a year. There are classes, demonstrations, fashion shows, and a market with yarn and needles and books and accessories and so much more. I really look forward to it and take time off work so I can attend the morning of the first day, before it gets packed. The Stitches Market is overwhelming enough without having to elbow and glare your way through a crowd to get a close-up look at the latest in hand-painted yarn or get your hands on the discounted bamboo needles.

Last year I took two classes, one on needle felting and one on short rows, but this year decided not to take any because they are a bit pricey. I'd rather spend the same amount on a four-week class at my local yarn shop than a two-hour class at Stitches.

I went through my stash this weekend, gathered up a grocery bag of yarn and gave it to Dogwood, who will use it to knit scarves and blankets for charity. It felt good to admit to myself that I won't ever use that yarn and then let it go. Now I can shop at Stitches without quite as much guilt.

The show begins on Friday, so this week I'm going to decide on a few patterns I want to knit in the coming months. That way I can attend the market with a shopping list for specific projects rather than buying yarn just because it's soft or shiny or affordable. But I'm sure there will be at least a little bit of impulse shopping ... that's what makes Stitches fun.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lace Update & Artist Trading Cards

Thank you everyone for your tips on knitting lace, it helped me tremendously. If it weren't for you, I would have given up on the shawl. Instead, I'm making good progress and enjoying it so much that I've been working on it in my car during my lunch hour at work. And I've already started scoping out my next lace project, which will probably be another shawl.

The theme for my artist trading card swap group in February was "Vintage Valentine." (If you aren't familiar with artist trading cards, they are original artwork on a 3.5" by 2.5" card.) I couldn't figure out what to do and was a bit overwhelmed with my lace shawl and the sock knitting class, so I bought a bunch of stickers and pre-cut tags at Michaels and went to town with glitter and glue. They are simple but I enjoyed making them.

I made a few more, but forgot to take pictures before I sent them.

This one is a bit different because it is for a "Love" themed swap. I used postcards and lace from an antique store.

Would you like to win some handspun yarn? Check out the giveaway over at Lazy Kate Creates. Congrats to the talented Kate on her 100th post!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The End of the Land

Last weekend my sister Hilary and I spent the day doing a staircase walk at Lands End in San Francisco. We got lucky-- it was supposed to rain all day, but it let up when we arrived.

We stopped at Golden Gate park to see the Dutch windmill.

A view of the bay and Sutro Baths . It felt so good to be near the water.

We climbed a whole lot of stairs. We descended a whole lot of stairs. Have I mentioned I'm overweight and out of shape? I lagged behind Hilary, huffing and puffing. She promised me several times "no more stairs," but it was a ruse to keep me moving.

Here's Hil with some sort of bridge in the background.

The signage was interesting. We didn't go there.

I'm not quite sure what kind of warning this is ... hikers are not to give anyone flowers?

As we were walking along a lush green trail we spotted a used syringe in the brush. Just lovely. After a short discussion about what to do with it, we kicked it further off the trail and put some dirt over it. I took a picture, but after thinking it over decided to keep my blog a syringe-free zone.

After Hil walked the labyrinth, she turned a corner and continued walking. I stayed behind to take a billion more pictures, and when I turned the corner she was gone. The trail was a dead end, and as far as I could tell the only place to go was over the cliff and down in to the rocky shoreline. I frantically called her name, terrible visions in my mind. Then I heard her calling me from above ... turns out the trail didn't dead end, it went up a steep incline. Phew.

We didn't see too much of the city, but we did spend several hours at the Legion of Honor museum. I'll share more pictures on another day so as not to overwhelm you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lace ... Grrrrrr.

Wash cloth: Easy-peasy.

Toe-up socks: Getting there.

Cuff down socks: So far so good.


It looks so lovely and innocent in the picture. Don't believe it. When the camera's gone, it's the devil.

Does anyone have tips for successfully knitting lace? On Saturday I spent an hour knitting one row. This evening I spent an hour and a half knitting one row and then tinking three. I can't seem to do the pattern repeat correctly across a row. Fortunately every other row is a purl row, otherwise it would be half the size it currently is.

I wrote the pattern for each row on a separate piece of paper in a notebook in big handwriting. I count the stitches at the end of each row to make sure it is correct. I turned off music and television. It isn't the pattern's fault; it's not that hard and it's written well.

It's me.

Can you help?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tagged, I'm It.

Busy, busy, busy. I have my hands full with my sock knitting class, ATC swap group, and the lace knit-along. And I might start taking a new knitting class where every Saturday you work on a different square for an afghan. It's fun being involved in so many creative, crafty projects, but I'm having a bit of trouble finding time for everything.

Jill at Mindfully Simple tagged me with the Kreativ Blogger award. Thanks, Jill! Now I'm supposed to tell you seven things you might not know about me. Here goes ...

1) I colored my hair every color of the rainbow for over twenty years. These days it's all natural, dark brown speckled with gray. I love not having to color it every month and don't miss dripping hair dye all over the counters and carpet. But I would like a few highlights.

2) About a year after I learned to knit I decided I didn't like it and gave all of my needles to
Dogwood . Two weeks later I found myself standing in front of the yarn display at Michael's, desperately wanting to knit something. Dogwood was kind enough to return my needles to me.

3) Speaking of Dogwood, thirteen years ago she and I, along with her family and friends, hiked to the top of
Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. It's a 17-mile hike that can take over eight hours to complete. Dogwood had done it before, but I hadn't and found it extremely challenging. (If it wasn't for peer pressure, I would have quit at the point where you have to climb the cables .) It was so difficult that afterward I felt that if I could do that, I could accomplish anything. Sadly, today I get winded walking up a flight of stairs.

4) I have a crush on the character
Spike from the Buffy series. The other night I dreamed we went on a date, but he just wasn't that into me.

5) I have always loved to write and have had several essays published in magazines and newspapers. One of my proudest writing accomplishments is having a piece published in The Writer magazine.

6) My favorite song at the moment is "O-o-h Child." Maybe it's because I want to believe things are going to get easier.

7) Yesterday was my one year BLOGIVERSARY! A giveaway is coming as soon as I can find the time to figure out what to give away.

I'm supposed to pass along the award, but I don't feel comfortable doing that because I don't want to leave anyone out. If you'd like to play, please grab the award and tell us seven things about yourself.

Have a great week!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ready, set ... knit some lace!

Today is the first day of the Adventures in Lace knit-along. I must confess that I cheated.

I've always struggled with lace, plus I'm a slow knitter, so I decided to give myself a head start by casting on and completing the first repeat over the weekend. I set up a table near a sunny window and worked sloooowly to ensure I got off on the right foot (no frustration or tears).

The pattern I decided on is the
Forest Canopy Shawl . One of the reasons I chose it is the pattern is designed for beginning lace knitters-- it includes helpful tips and written instructions as well as charts. For example, I'd never heard of a lifeline , and will definitely be using that technique.

I'm using the Misti Alpaca silk/cotton blend I bought recently with size six needles. It is so soft and such a pleasure to knit with.
I also treated myself to a pair of Addi Turbo needles and ohmygoodness I love them.