Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Knitting Floats

Even though I am *super* excited about the retreat, I have been feeling a little down this last couple of days. I think I will just have to pick up the needles and push through it. And have chocolate. I should be in yoga class, but this here is a knitting blog, so let's get to it!

On the needles:
  • The Rainbow Sherbet socks. Sockotta sock yarn in a lovely colorway of green, yellow, pink, white, red and raspberry. This is a self striping / faux isle yarn that is a little stiff to work with, but I think it will soften up after washing. I also am making sock #1 on one circular needle, which is a real pain (I think my circ is too long). It is good "taking places" sock, as it will live its life in plain stockinette to show off the colors.
  • The Twill Socks. These are really socks with no name (yet). This is Berroco's new (cheap) sock yarn in a mild self striping colorway with lots of tweedy green, brown, gold and red. I am up to the leg of sock #1 (on DPNs *yay*) and will use a twill type pattern for the leg... I hope to figure out how to change the direction of the twill each time a new block of color begins.
  • Mandy's purple sweater. The guilt is getting to me. It might be easier to just finish it than to keep worrying about it and hoping she forgets. I tried the "I only promised to knit you a sweater, not deliver you a sweater" tactic, but she saw right through me.
  • Icarus (the green one). I am really, really, really ready for this to be off the needles. It seems like I have been working on it forever. I am on chart 3 of 4 and when it is done it can go on to its next life as a shop sample.

There are other items in a holding pattern, but these are the things I reach for (or should be reaching for) each day. I was not able to satisfy some start-itis last night, as the wrong yarn for the Irtfa'a shawl was in the box. Lovely sock yarn, but not the laceweight silk I was looking for. I was even moved to pick up a lonely cross stitch project and put in a few stitches the other day. Since I started spinning (2001) my poor cross stitch projects have languished. It would be nice to finish some things and get them framed and up on the wall. I think I can manage to get the ones for Halloween and Yule up this year if I drop them off at the framer's sometime soon. The Yule one only (!) needs a dozen or so beads attached to finish off the snowflakes.

Right now it is off to the grocery store. How exciting. I think part of my low mood is that I have just not been eating enough (and certainly not well) this week, as there is not enough food in the house to make any sort of complete meal. You know how it is - I have spaghetti but no sauce, milk but no cereal, bread but nothing to put on it. And eggs. A lot of eggs.

While I am off, perhaps you would enjoy a trip down Flickr lane. There are some finished sock pictures, a cat picture or two (this is a knitting blog, it seems to be compulsory), and more of the pictures-that-I-took-in-Hawaii-and-never-posted.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Retreat! Retreat!

I figure it is time for another Big Announcement...

Lacy Lazy Days of Fall Retreat
September 18 - 21, 2008
Featuring Miriam Felton of MimKnits

Come join us September 18-21 at Carole's Bed and Breakfast in sunny San Diego for four days of relaxation and instruction in learning and designing knitted lace. Participants will learn the basic techniques for knitting lace, a history of lace, and have an introduction to designing your own lace projects. Celebrate autumn and take some time to relax and pamper yourself before the holidays.

Our teacher will be the lovely and talented Miriam Felton. She has designed many of our favorite shawl patterns, including the Icarus shawl, the Seraphim shawl, the Hidcote Garden Shawl, and the Juno Regina wrap. Her designs have been published in Interweave Knits and You can see more of her work on her blog at Miriam started playing with fiber, yarn and thread as soon as she could hold a needle. Ten years ago, she began knitting. Designing knitwear followed soon after. While many of her designs focus on lace patterns, all of her work features textural details, and exploring positive and negative space with the use of knitted stitches to create lyrical and strikingly visual patterns. Miriam has had designs published in Interweave Press magazines and books, the on-line Knitty magazine, the book Sensual Knits, as well as self-publishing patterns via her website at When not knitting, Miriam can be found frequenting various Salt Lake City coffee shops and bookstores while wearing her tiara.

In addition to our knitting class, we will be taking a walking tour of Balboa Park and enjoying afternoon English Tea at a local tea shop. Not to mention hours of knitting, chatting and general merriment.

Due to the close-knit nature of this retreat, attendance is limited to 14 students. A deposit of 50% is due by August 15th, with the balance due by September 4th. There will be a $50 cancellation fee after September 4th.

Retreat pricing includes: class fees, 3 nights lodging, walking tour, 5 meals plus tea, and goodie bag. Pattern and materials list will be available separately.

$495.00 for a shared queen bed or $750.00 for solo queen bed.
Please call (951) 347-6572 or email to book your place today.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Spin Span Spun

I take it back. The "Yule" colorway has been embezzled. 4 oz of 50/50 Merino & Bombyx silk is mine, all mine, and spinning up like a dream. It is bright blue, white, gray and bluegray and looks like the arctic. Or the moon on snow (sorry southern Californians). It is spinning up very fine and very easily. I thought long and hard about how to ply it... 2 ply? 3 ply (3 bobbins)? Line up the colors or not? I decided that mixing up the colors might tone it down too much and am going to Navajo (chain) ply it to keep the colors bright and distinct. The Merino / Tencel roving was the best seller at Lambtown (thanks everyone!) but the people who passed over the Merino / Silk really missed out on something special. There will always be next time.

I love spinning. I love petting the wool. I love dyeing the wool. I do not love rinsing the wool. I love watching it drying and packing it up. I love fluffing it up and deciding how to spin it. Wide sections of color? Small strips that create small bits of color? Plying with another yarn? Spinning it bulky, sport, sock or laceweight? Then there is the satisfaction of feeling the yarn take shape right under my fingertips. It is a magic spot where it changes from loose fiber to smooth, strong yarn. I love watching the streaks of color line up on my bobbin, love moving the thread guide to keep the yarn evenly layered. How can people not spin? How can they think it is "too hard" or they will have time after they retire? Does no one sit for 5, 10, 15 minutes at a time anymore?

We (Mandy and I) are working diligently on finalizing our Lace Knitting Retreat in the fall, but after this rant, I am motivated to have a beginning spinning intensive in the spring. Or the winter. Can you imagine being holed up in the mountains, surrounded by snow and pines, while we are snug inside with cocoa and a riot of spring and summer colors? The smells and textures of happy sheep and happy wool grown over the spring and summer, bringing light and energy into our cold winter days?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pants on Fire

What a Lambtown! I was negligent in the photo department (some did get taken, but now my power cord is missing), but I was happy to be busy helping people choose fiber and soap. There is a little fiber left (even some in the new colorways) for a photo shoot tonight. There is "Blueberry Squishy", "Yule", "Lilac" and "Princess" in roving and several new colors in yarn.

I had a lovely drive north to Dixon. The first sheep sighting was at 9:05 this year (they were silhouetted against the sunset) as I got a very last start leaving town. The moon was spectacular - bright orange. It even make an orange halo. Wow. The day of the show (Saturday) I was pleased to see many returning vendors and friends, and at least one friend who was a vendor for the first time. She brought the most adorable Texel guinea pig for socializing. I never touched the knitting, but I did get about 20 minutes of spinning in around 6pm. I knew I brought the wheel for a reason!

I made a little detour on Sunday to visit a friend and we had a nice relaxing day. There were stories to tell, dogs to pat, yummy dinner to eat, the dancing chickens to goggle at, and just a smidge of "Law and Order". It's nice when things are... nice.

I tried a new way home (via Hwy 198 thru Priest Valley) and it was gorgeous. Far too dangerous to sightsee, much less take pictures, but I recommend it to everyone. Golden fields, spots of green oak trees, blue sky, black cows and a ribbon of highway. Ahhhhh.

It was good to get away, but it is good to be home too.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dyed and Gone to Lambtown

I am here! Wheeeee! I am also running late due to an alarm clock error. I will take pictures and post tonight.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

OMG I Got Out of the House

It is a beautiful day here today. I went to yoga this morning - Ashtanga - which leaves me happy, but sore and exhausted. I went to the grocery store and then made breakfast... mmmm. I haven't been cooking much lately (just throwing things together, mostly) and it felt good just to scramble up some eggs and toast some toast. Now I am at the coffee shop and listening to Jim Croce. I feel like I am 6 again.
Yesterday the angora rabbit got groomed and today it was the dog's turn (above). She did not shed out her entire winter coat and it started to mat when I wasn't looking. She was not excited about being perched on the washing machine, but I managed to get her somewhat brushed out.
Yesterday was also our monthy Riverspinners meeting / annual pool party, and it was a smashing success. There were new people and returning people, and I think everyone had a great time. There was knitting, spinning, crocheting and bobbin lace and Cheryl had a finished quilting project that was just lovely. There was quite a lot of splashing in the pool, and Julia showed me some synchronized swimming tips. I am constantly amazed at all the fun hobbies out there that I have no idea about.
In the evening I went out the coffee shop and saw a bluegrass concert - This Just In was the opening act and they were pretty darn good in a traditional way. Then the headline band came on - Cliff Wagner & the Old No. 7. They were amazing. Spectacular. Out of this world. I was so enthralled that I had to - get this - put down my knitting. It was fantastic. Go see them if you can.
To finish up, here is that picture of me in my Very Fine Hat* at the Renaissance Faire in Irwindale this past spring. I got to hold the owl. I was very, very still and very, very excited. Sorry about the glare on my glasses. I never remember to tip my head.

*Firefly pilot episode "Serenity". Apologies to Joss and Tim.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's a Mystery

Yesterday I started (and finished) a book I received over the holidays, Three Bags Full. It was pretty interesting and a fun read. I have to say that I was mildly annoyed about one flock having 4 rams and no wethers, but I am not a sheep-grower. All in all I give it one hoof up.

Today I browsed through (Denise's copy of) Hand Woolcombing and Spinning. He is extremely detailed. Extremely. It might be a fun challenge to try and be as precise and see the difference it makes in my spinning. I need to return the book and invest in one of my own.

In other news, I am one sock down of the "Bejeweled" pair that I am working for Mandy. There is nothing better to knit in the world than a pair of ankle socks. No kidding. They knit up in a snap. Big fluffy Mountain Colors yarn on size 2 needles doesn't hurt either. The colorway is just gorgeous (I have misplaced the ball band) and I think I will make a secret s-c-a-r-f out of the remainder.

The garden is growing, tomatoes are ripening, bell peppers have been eaten, and lettuce is giving up the ghost. The last two weeks of searing afternoons tried to burn everything to a crisp and nearly succeeded. Today has been warm and overcast (=humid) but rather cooler than the last two weeks.

Off to pizza night at the yarn store!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Picky Picky Picky

The Painted Desert Socks are done (started last year). They were waiting for a trip to the frog pond. The waiting took 8 months and the reknitting took one week. Geez. The Peppermint Mocha socks are done. Note the adorable picot hem.
The Stripey Socks for Courtney are done. In 2 days. After waiting for 18 months in a ball-of-yarn status. Both of these ankle socks came from one 50g ball and I have another ball left over if anyone would like to buy it.
The Swamp Socks are done. Never again shall we speak of the hell that was the knitting - ripping - reknitting - knitting - knitting - knitting. I won't k2p2 for a long time to come.