about the essentials of life...knitting, designing knitting, yarn for knitting...you get the idea...

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I'm a knitter, knitting pattern designer, and spinner. I also dye yarn with both acid and natural dyes.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


What's this about, you ask? Good question!
I've been collecting containers recently. And taking them apart. Isn't it interesting how such bizarre shapes can be folded into simple rectangular boxes?
Why am I doing this?
Hmmm....because....well, I don't know.
They just seem to have caught my attention. Back when I was in school, when this type of thing happened, whatever the item of interest was, it started to appear in some form or other in my paintings or photographs. I wonder what's percolating in my mind?


Yesterday was my last spinning class and we learned how to ply our singles. This was fun! I was trying to use a single treadle wheel and the operative word is trying. I appear to be solidly biped. First I tried to use two feet on one treadle, though I had my feet in an incorrect position. I tried to correct my foot position, but my feet didn't like it. Eventually, I settled on treadling with my left foot and using my right big toe to kind of nudge the drive shaft in the proper direction. Not orthodox procedure.

This is the yarn that resulted. I wound it up on the niddy-noddy and said that I wished it were red. Bethe suggested I dye it and I think I might. The two tones would make an interesting red.

Speaking of red >>>

This is some recycled sari yarn that has worked it's way out of the stash and onto my desk. I'm thinking of a purse. I like to have a small, lightweight, purse to take to museums, Santa Fe, and generally places that I'll be standing or walking a lot and my leather purse is too heavy.

Interesting...red and containers. I wonder what's going on in there? When my brain lets me know....

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Spun Magazine!

Tara Schorr from Spun Magazine contacted me today to let me know that the fall issue will be up in a couple of weeks. Why did she notify me? Because I have a set of patterns in this issue! My collar and cuffs will finally hit the e-waves. Keep checking back for the exact link to my stuff, or, better yet, click on the button to the left.

In other news, I'm blocking the short-row beret. An almost finished object! I was commenting to The Man Of The House that this pattern was a great learning experience and I was going to include it in the Learn Something New series. It's a great way to learn short rows and grafting. Not just learn to follow the directions, but to learn how to do any short row, any grafting, and how to read your knitting when doing these techniques. The Man Of The House says,"Well, that sounds like a class idea." Duh! Why didn't I think of that? I was given the option of teaching a class of my choice and have been trying to think up something new to teach. There are short row classes out there, but I'm pretty sure that this project takes a different and perhaps more comprehensive approach. What do you think? Would you be up for learning how to short row in any situation? Graft in pattern?

The eye-candy of the day- the view from Sandia Peak, taken last Sunday during the beautiful cool weather.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Free Simple Scarf Pattern

Materials: Any worsted weight yarn and needles appropriate for the yarn.
I used Lion Wool-Ease for easy care.
Gauge: 4 sts/in
Finished width: 6"

Cast on 28 sts.
Sl 1st st of every row, Pwise wyif (as if to P, with yarn in front). K last st of every row.

R 1-4: Sl 1, K1,*K4,P4* across, K2.
R 5-8: Sl 1, K1,*P4, K4* across, K2.

Repeat these 2 segments until as long as desired. (Red Scarf - 60 ")

BO loosely, steam lightly to block.

Please make a scarf for the Red Scarf Project!

Red Scarf Project 2007

Let me tell you a story...

A couple of years ago, I was teaching first grade in an inner city Houston school. It was close to the end of the year and the kids (not to mention teachers) were getting that antsy 'aren't we done yet?' kind of feeling. Just before lunch, my door opened and the attendance clerk walked in with an unfamiliar boy. "Here's your new student!" she exclaimed brightly, and she turned and hurriedly left the room.

Now, the arrival of a new student is always disruptive. A new student just as we're leaving for lunch is guaranteed to create havoc. A new student at the end of the year? Unthinkable! I was less than pleased.

The new student himself was not encouraging. He stood at the door, not moving, not looking at anything. He was small, even scrawny. His face, when I got close enough to see it, was expressionless. He was unresponsive when I asked his name. He was unresponsive when I asked him to get in line for lunch. He wouldn't take my hand. He ignored the super-kind boy I asked to be his buddy. It was like he somehow wasn't there. His body was, apparently, but only his body. My class needed to be on its way for our 3 minute get your lunch window, but this small boy was plainly not going anywhere, never mind hurrying.

And so it went. My heart went out to this nearly invisible soul. Even if his face hadn't been a mass of bruises, his behavior, his absence from his surroundings, his unwillingness or inability to acknowledge the existance of those around him, all spoke to the extent of the abuse he had suffered. The other students were at a loss as well. He wouldn't talk or play but he took their things. They were uneasy because they knew he was different, sensed that he was damaged, but in their 6 year old law and order minds they had difficulty reconciling different treatment for him than for them if they behaved similarly.

He only stayed a few days, a couple of weeks. We tried mightily, but we were unable to warm him up even a smigeon. One day, he just wasn't there.

Of course, he was a foster child, just removed from his home. His one year older sister had been removed as well, but she was functioning normally. My guess is that he had been the scapegoat child. We were part of his first placement, but he was moved again quickly to a place farther away and considered safer.

This small boy challenged me and my perception of myself as a teacher and person. I was known in my school as the teacher perhaps most concerned with the emotional and psychological health of my students. I was the one who recognized symptoms of mistreatment and got help for the kids. I was the one referring families for counseling, getting clothes for cold kids and those wearing shoes they could only fit their toes into. And yet, here was this child, plainly hurting, whom I couldn't reach, couldn't communicate with. Who also disrupted the hitherto smoothly running classroom constantly and made learning difficult for the other only relatively less struggling children. I couldn't figure out how to cope with him.

All of this, to introduce the Red Scarf Project. The Orphan Foundation of America works with children in the foster care system. Only 50 % of children in foster care graduate from high school and less than 10% go on to college (from the Foundations website, Care Packages page). These resilient few go to university without the family support system to back them up. The Red Scarf Project is an attempt to let them know that they are in the thoughts of someone, that someone cares.

The Red Scarf Project collects hand made, unisex red scarves and distributes them to these foster graduates. The scarves are to be mailed in January, so there is plenty of time. The request is that they are red, 5-8 inches wide, and about 60 inches long. Go here and here for more information, a free Lily Chin cable pattern, and the mailing address.

Check out my sidebar for a simple, simple free pattern.

Send a scarf in honor of the small boy from Houston.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'm A Spinner!

At left: the light colored yarn is from the drop spindle and the dark is my first wheel spun yarn.

Last night was our second spinning class. We had started out with drop spindles (see previous post for what that led to). I practiced diligently all week, using all the roving and filling the spindle twice. I was pretty worried that I'm too slowww at drawing out the fiber and how would I ever cope with the speed of a wheel? So I practiced and practiced, figuring that I needed a lot of improvement before this week's wheel class.
I took my spindle to class and Bethe, supportive teacher that she is, congratulated me on the smoothness of my yarn. Looked pretty awful to me, but hey, what do I know? She pronounced us ready to start learning how to use a wheel. We started out by just treadling for about half an hour and then we added the hand part that we'd been practicing. Well, to my surprise, it's actually easier to spin on a wheel! By the end of the lesson, we were treadling with our feet, drawing with both hands, and talking, talking...


I need a spinning wheel! Really. I have a birthday coming up, but new spinning wheels are pricey. I've been all over the 'net today looking for a used double treadle spinning wheel in good condition that doesn't cost $150 to ship. Anyone know of any?

On the knitting front, as usual, I was thinking up new variations to my moebius lace pattern instead of writing up what I'd already knit. Well, I thought, I have a 1 skein scarf version, a 2 skein hood version, I wonder how many skeins a shawl would take? Just to get an idea, I tried on the hood on my shoulders instead of my head. Look at what I found!

Wow! This is great! Now I have a shawl that won't fall off, I can't lose, and I don't need to hold it on! Just need to format that pattern...

Remember those socks I was going to tinker with last weekend? As usual, tinkering became Changing In A Big Way and I started all over. I've gotten used to this by now, so I didn't frog the first sock, just started the second in a different way. That way I have the first as a reference and I can decide which parts of each sock I prefer. So far, I'm liking this new version much more, but it's been slowww going. I seem to have forgotten how to count again. I had to redo one repeat 5 (five) times. It's not hard, I promise, but you do have to keep track of where you are. As I've already said, apparently I can no longer reliably count.

I can't show you a picture of said sock (it's tentatively promised), but I can show you the sweet yarn that inspired the design:

Isn't it gorgeous?

Of course the design is feminine and romantic.

Not my usual thing at all, but, hey, I never thought I'd be craving a spinning wheel, either.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another FO!

Another day, another Finished Object. I love when that happens.

This one has a story. Back when my kids were little, like many children, they lost everything. Things went to school with them, never to be seen again. Sweaters, jackets, hats, mittens, scarves - you name it, they lost it. Not to mention the standard homework, notes to/from teachers, lunch money. Those I couldn't do anything about, but the hats and stuff...well, I had a system. Each boy had his assigned color and I kept a supply of yarn on hand in those colors. I had a set of standard hat/mitten/scarf patterns in multiple sizes always available. So, when 2 mittens went to school and only one (or none) came home, I would pull out my supplies and get to work. The next morning, the forgetful one had a replacement.

Of course, the boys came by this knack of losing their apparel naturally. Oddly enough, their mother has a similar skill. I have a coat and matching scarf that I bought when my older son was about 6. The scarf was attached to the coat with one of those plastic string things (like the ones that hold on the price tags). It still is. All those years and still, the plastic loop. That's the only reason I still have the scarf!

Last winter, The Man Of The House gave me a new coat. (Do you think it might have had anything to do with the shape the coat from DS's childhood was in?) This coat is beautiful. It didn't come with a scarf attached with a plastic thingy. Oh, dear...a beautiful coat deserves a beautiful scarf, and what knitter worth her/his salt wouldn't provide one? Except...you know. I'd lose it.

Thus, the moebius scarf came to be. If it's hung around, completely around, my neck, just maybe I can hold on to it. So, here it is - modeled with said coat.

OK, but now my head was cold. So, I designed a hood...but winter became spring, and the project lost its urgency. The hood sat, 3/4 knit, on my desk (where I put projects that are supposed to nag me). And today, da da dee dah!

Though I think it needs a better model!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lace top finished!

I feel pretty... oh, so pretty...

Well, not me, exactly, the top. It's finished! I wore it to the big sale at my LYS, Village Wools on Saturday. Scout gave me lots of praise for the design and suggested I submit it to Interweave. She even called over several others from the shop to check it out and they commented positively as well. I went out of there walking on air - nothing like a little ego-stroking to build confidence.

Look at those handsfists
in the pic - can you tell I've had the headache from hell for days now? Now look at the mess I made later that day -

Uh, where's the spindle? Welllll...I'd filled it up. Bethe had said to come and get another spindle, but I was too lazy/cheap to drive to Edgewood, so I Looked In A Book. Said book instructed to slide the spun yarn off the spindle and onto a spike. I found an appropriate knitting needle to use as a spike and proceeded to slide the yarn. Except it didn't slide. Uh, there's a hook on the end of the spindle, of course it won't slide. Only it wouldn't go back to where it started, either. I ended up, finally, after much struggling, cutting my first spun yarn off the spindle and here is where it ended up (see above). The Man Of The House very wisely remained in another room while this disaster took place.

I have since moved my first spun yarn from the floor to the trash. And out of the trash to any empty spot on the shelf in my office/studio. Where it's looking at me. I could attempt to untangle it. Maybe I could untwist some of the ends and twist them back together. Perhaps I could salvage some of this, my first spun yarn. Or maybe it's a lesson in letting go. Maybe it just belongs in the trash.

The same headache that I'll blame for this disaster is keeping me from making a decision already. Later...

Friday, August 18, 2006


Project 1: lace moebius hood, finished knitting, on the blocking wires awaiting garter grafting.

The case The Man Of The House made for my blocking wires, pins, and yardstick. Uh, oh, please excuse the foot!

Which of these objects doesn't belong? Current home of the blocking wires in their new case.

Project 2: short row beret: awaiting grafting in stitch pattern. I'll probably do both grafting projects together. Keep the frustration opportunities to a minimum.

Project 3: lace top.


Actually, I finished the knitting last night, but these are the most current photos. Just needs last few ends dealt with. I used Russian joins to attach new skeins but I'm going to try duplicate stitching the ends that are left and sealing with Fray Check on a toothpick.

Project 4: spinning. I think I've almost filled up this spindle. I have a lot of roving left and I sure need the practice, so I'll try slipping the yarn off and holding it on a long knitting needle until the next class. We're going to try plying!

Project 5: one finished sock of a pattern I submitted a while ago. I have only heard that the submission arrived and selection has been delayed, so I don't know if this is mine or not. Anyway, it's been marinating and I've decided (as always) to tweak it, so I'll run in a life-line and frog back to where I want to change things. Good TV project for the weekend. Has college football started yet?

That's all! Not too bad - only 5 and 2 nearly, nearly FO's.

Nature for today:

One of the Window Arches (the right one, as I remember) from Moab, Utah.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Look, Ma...

I'm spinning! I finally had my first spinning class yesterday. Actually, it was pretty much a spinning lesson, as the class consisted of two students. It's held at Good Fibrations! in Edgewood, NM. I've been waiting for this since the East Mountain Fiber Tour a couple of months ago.

Bethe, the owner of the shop and teacher of the class, was soooo patient with me. The other student is a natural and was instantly spinning like a pro. Me, well...let's say my spindle is very durable. It hit the floor quite a bit - spinning too tightly, spinning too loosely, just coming undone for reasons unknown. My old hairdressing days are coming back to haunt me - I have a habit of combing the roving with my fingers instead of drafting. But I loved it! I knew I would! Bethe kept reassuring me that I'd get it, don't give up, but I wasn't discouraged. I'm always slowww at picking up anything requiring co-ordination. You should have seen me trying to learn how to drive a stick!

Look at all the roving I brought home to practice with! This class is amazing, Bethe lent us spindles and supplies all the fiber we need to practice.

My first spun yarn! As they say, it needs work, but I can't wait until I get this. The muscles better hurry up and develop their memories.

I was thinking last night about my fiber interests - knitting, dyeing, spinning (and I can crochet, tat, embroider, needlepoint, quilt, sew - did I leave anything out?). Why am I not interested in weaving? After all, NM is a treasure trove of weavers. I can appreciate the beauty of some of the looms I've seen, but I have no burning desire to learn how to use one. Why is that? I'm guessing that it's because there seems to me to be a remove between the artist and the fiber. The loom is kind of a machine that the weaver manipulates to create the fabric. I need the tactile sensation of the wool sliding between my fingers. I often decide which project to work on by what my hands need to feel. Seriously, some days they need the comfort of worsted weight wool and others the lightness of sock yarn or lace. Perhaps this is why I have to push myself to get out the sewing machine these days...What do you think?

Wellll...Blogger won't let me add any more pictures to this post, I've tried and tried, so here it is...

Monday, August 14, 2006

In conclusion...

Sunny, sunny Seattle and points east...
Yes, I know Seattle is grey and rainy all the time. Or, at that's what people tell me. I wouldn't know personally. It's always beautiful and sunny when I'm there. Perhaps they ought to import me every few weeks...hint, hint.
We hit the usual high points, Pike's Market, the original Starbuck's, the houseboat village. We got lost a lot and I saw (very quickly and accompanied by frenzied ranting from the Man Of The House And Appointed Driver) a number of points of interest and neighborhoods that I'd read about/seen in movies. Seattle definitely deserves more time to explore (perhaps via public transit?) We stayed in Eastlake, a lovely neighborhood (Eastlake Inn, web address on the sign, but link didn't work) and ate at 2 favorite places, 14 Carrot Cafe and Serafina. Wonderful eating and lovely ambiance.

The second day, we drove around the coastline and over the bridge to Bainbridge Island. I'd read about Churchmouse Yarns and envisioned a tiny, well..., mousy kind of place. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again.

This is probably the sleekest shop we saw on this trip. This is perhaps the sleekest yarn shop I've ever seen. The elegant exterior is certainly deserved by the amazing interior. Knitters from all over the country were in awe. There was quiet classical music playing, people sitting and knitting, people petting the luscious fibers and gazing glazed eyed into space (seeing possible creations in their minds?). True to its name, there is a tea shop in the back. There are also comfortable benches in front where non-knitterly escorts can enjoy a beverage or an ice cream from across the street and bask in the pleasant weather.

My favorite part of this shop? Samples! They had samples for everything. They had current shop designs for many yarns. When I read their newsletter, they have classes incorporating many of the shop designs. In fact, a newsletter from another shop I visited on this trip referred to a shop pattern from this store! What a wonderful community they must create! And, look what I found...

The highly touted Socks That Rock! STR to the initiated. I confess, STR is one of the yarns I was really, really hoping to find on this trip. I can't wait to swatch with it and see what all the fuss is about.

After dinner in the marina, we took the ferry back to Seattle. Not quite as romantic as it appears on Gray's Anatomy...

From here on, TMOTH was focused on getting home. The mad dash across the country was about to begin. When we were driving around in circles trying to get on the freeway, he casually remarked, "I'm surprised there aren't any yarn shops in Seattle." Wherever did he get that idea? Apparently, since I hadn't dragged taken him to any, he assumed there must not be
any. We happened to be only a couple blocks from So Much Yarn (I spotted it in the circling process), so I suggested we stop and check it out. TMOTH was willing, parking was readily available, so we made one last stop before the freeway.

I think that this is a relatively new shop - it seems like there was something about a second anniversary coming up. They had some really luxurious fibers here along with the novelty yarns that it seems new shops always have. There was a seating area in the back, where a woman was finishing an afghan and a table for classes. I don't know if it was the getting to the freeway mood, but I didn't see any yarn that called out to me. I did find something to add to my collection of...

Harmony books. I'm just missing 1 and 5.

After this, we just dashed across the country towards home. We stopped for the night in Boise and Moab and finished with over 6000 miles in 8 days. The Man Of The House was very patient to fit in all those yarn shops on his vacation!

In Boise, we looked in the windows of Drop A Stitch. They don't open until 11 AM, and we had to hit the highway. They have an interesting arrangement. This picture is of the front window to the right of the entrance hallway (if you look carefully, you can see TMOTH reflected in the window). From this room, they have a stairway to another, lower, level, also opening off the hallway. Then, across the hall there is a duplicate of this layout. The hall is open to the general public and is the entryway for the entire building (there are offices behind the store and upstairs). I wonder how this works for them?

Peeking in through the window in one of the doors (4!).

The marina on Bainbridge Island.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Oops! and other not-so-random topics

I awoke in the night after posting the last item about Lamb's Ear in Tacoma. It had come to me in my sleep (!) (no wonder I don't feel rested) that I had spelled Roxi's name incorrectly. When I checked the post, wow, I not only spelled it incorrectly, I spelled it 2 different ways (incorrectly). My apologies, Roxi!
I've since corrected the spelling - just check out the nifty HTML I found and - I think- was able to use for strikethroughs. In my research for this, I also stumbled across yet another way to attempt to add buttons to the sidebar. Maybe this time I'll get it...

In a mostly unrelated topic, I think that some people are having difficulty with the comments section. I have it set up so that I approve comments after having received a surprise early on. So, if your comment doesn't immediately appear, check back later. I love comments, they make my day, please leave one!

Yet another topic - I posted on the KnitTalker's list last week about a cotton top I'm designing that wasn't fitting properly in the armholes. An update - I eliminated the last two increases and increased the bodice depth (worked in the round from the bottom up) and the armhole now fits. I started on the lace 'skirt' part of the top, had it almost finished and then decided to change it. I spent part of last evening tinking. I could - and probably will- put in a lifeline and just rip, but I needed more light than I had to do that.

Lastly, finished the knitting part of a moebius hood. This has been an on-and-off project since last Christmas. Interesting how the moebius concept came up again (on the lists as a result of Cat Bordhi on Knitty Gritty) just as I took up this project for the third or fourth time. I've made two variations on this design, now. The first was a one skein wonder made to match my new Christmas coat. I always lose scarves, to I made one that was easy to put on and take off, but wouldn't come off on its own accord. Then I decided I liked the pattern so much, I wanted a hood in a similar design. I used 2 skeins for this one. They are both E. Lavold's Silky Wool and both in a reversible lace stitch. I'll post pictures when the blocking is finished.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

On the road again...

across Oregon and into Tacoma. We spent the night in Eugene, OR and did some exploring the next morning. What an interesting place! A friend of mine went to school there (Go Ducks!) and had told me that if I ever visited I'd never leave. Well, I did leave, but I'd like to go back. I wonder if they need any teachers? Interesting co-incidence - when I got back I was looking through a blog-index thingy and clicked on an interesting-sounding blog. It turned out to be a knitting blog from Eugene - and - it turned out the author was transplanted from ABQ - and- she linked to Scout's Swag (remember - my hand-painted sock yarn teacher). Hmmm...

Tacoma was nothing like I thought it would be. I had the idea that it was an industrial kind of step child to Seattle. We went to the LYS I wanted to visit (read on) and then had some time to kill because of the traffic into Seattle, so we explored quite a bit. We found a lovely park where The Man Of The House enviously watched the joggers. We walked and walked around the downtown area where there is quite a lot of revitalization going on. The condos on the water looked like they afforded quite a life-style! We stopped to ask directions and TMOTH met the owner of the local baseball team. Poor guy tried to talk minor league baseball, but TMOTH has a certain disdain for it (he's a native Houstonian, only the big leagues for him).

Back to the LYS - I've seen Lamb's Ear Farm many times on the various knitting for sale/swap lists. Roxie Roxi
seemed to advertise many of my favorites, so I just had to check out the actual physical shop. I had a map downloaded from the internet, which was a good thing, because TMOTH kept asking me where I was taking him. It sure didn't look like a retail destination. Which turned out to be right - it's a house.

It's a cute place. We parked on the street, but RoxyRoxi
told us they have a brand new parking lot behind the store. Next time!

It was a treat exploring the many and varied yarns displayed. I've never seen so much Opal in one place! I was sorely tempted but...

Look what I found! What a beautiful colorway! I just adore the muted peaches blending ever so softly into the tans and soft greens. Kind of a Zen thing. Or maybe you just have to be there.

Back to the shop...RoxyRoxi
,smart cookie and friendly person that she is, kept my husband conversationally occupied so I could look around to my heart's content. He found out that they had been in business for 7 years, had a daugher in Dallas with 5 kids and had a large family herself (was it 5 as well?). She certainly didn't look old enough to have grown kids, never mind a raft of grandkids! He also found out that they had just finished the addition to the back of the shop. What a wonderful room - lots of windows, therefore lots of light and a great class area in the middle. I bet the classes are fabulous.

On to the daily eye-candy...several shots today of Tacoma's Glass Museum's pedestrian bridge...

one of the glass columns - look to me like rock candy

(above) part of the wall of the span


The Ceiling---fabulous color explosion!

And, another coincidence - the artist has a Taos connection and gets some of his inspiration from Rio Grand rugs.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I left my heart...

I know, cheesy, cheesy. I couldn't resist since today is San Fransico. I only had time for one shop, but what a shop! We went to Artfibers downtown. It was kind of hard for an out-of-towner to find and I always get the willies in San Fransisco traffic anyway. I guess it's adding those spectacular hills into the mix, for I'm surely used to traffic from all those years of living in Houston.

Finally, I spotted the pink sign kind of in the middle of the picture and we were lucky enough to park right there. I could have sworn that there was a joker waving at the camera when I took this picture, but lo and behold - he isn't in it! Where'd he go?

The front door - inviting, but, uh...where's the shop?

Down the hall and around the corner, another door, a little less inviting. With an arrow pointing up the stairs. Okay, I get it now. This is like New York. I could feel The Man Of The House getting restless behind me (neither ABQ nor Houston has much in the way of downtown retail) so up the stairs I went. Quickly, before he changed his mind.

And this is a portion of what we found at the top of the stairs. Lots and Lots of fabulous, original fibers. This store has its own mill and the yarns are exclusive to it. And, wow, what yarns they are - and at reasonable prices. I was salivating heavily and my mind was whirling with ideas. I could camp out here for at least half a day!

I guess I'm not the only one - they sure are ready for us. The chairs (and someone else's DH) are what they call the Yarn Tasting area. There are drawers with samples of the yarns they carry and you're free to sit and try them out. [I saw today on Make 1 Yarn Studio's blog that they have Yarn Tasting classes - both great ideas...when I have my own shop...hmmm...]

In the foreground, you see the computer work station where the owner will custom design a pattern for you. She also sells the design software, Knitscape. This was a new one to me. Anyone tried it?

The view from the window. Don't you just love the way it opens?

For the KnitTalkers among you: here is a photo of the sleeveless cotton top I've been talking about (in the process of re-knitting).

Oh, and I almost forgot... my Artfibers purchase - amazing lace weight in a gorgeous teal.

Finally, today I have for you Mt. Shasta, seen from the town of the same name...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

California Dreaming, Part II

Back in San Jose - I visited one of my favorite yarn shops ever. Wish this were close enough to be my LYS! It's commuknity. I first found out about it by stumbling across the blog written by the owner as she worked on opening the shop, though I think that it has changed hands since then. It was one of those serendipidous things - I found the blog, wished I could see the shop, and found out we were going to be in the area all within a couple of days. So, last year I was so excited to actually find the shop. It lived up to, no, surpassed, my expectations as far as ambiance. It's truly a calm, welcoming, kind of sheltering place for fiber artists. I wasn't so fond of the inventory last year, though. I have some sort of bias against shops that seem to carry the entire Rowan, Jo Sharp or Debbie Bliss lines. No reason whatsoever, I admit. Completely irrational, but there it is.
This year, however, was a different story. The inventory was much more varied and much more interesting. They had some great lace weights and a large inventory of sock yarns. I think, though I'm not sure, that this is the place that had such a huge selection of Cotton Classics. It's curious to me that the West Coast shops I visited on this trip all seemed to have so much more color selection than I've seen elsewhere. How lucky you guys are!

And my purchases here: some Frog Tree Suri Aplaca for, you guessed it, socks and a couple of Harmony Guide books. I can never find these, so I've decided to get any any time I actually see them. They're such wonderful reference books!

After my visit to community, I drove out El Camino Real, trying to find the yarn shops and other points of interest. This was all new territory to me and it was fascinating. All of the place names that I'd read about and visualized so differently. Somehow I had the idea that Stanford was in the country. Ha!

I didn't have much luck with the yarn shops. Most were closed (it was Sunday) and the one that I really, really wanted to find, I couldn't. I sure the explored the neighborhood, though, looking for it. I called for directions, but no one answered. Redwood City was a visual tree, however, so I didn't mind too much. Oh, the shop was Amazing Yarns. Someone on the Knitlist recommended it. She said that it is built around a redwood tree. Sounds heavenly...

Speaking of the Knitlist (or was it Knittalk?) - I've read all those posts from Half Moon Bay and been really intruiged. I just had a quick and hazy memory of passing by on the Pacific Coast Hwy a couple of years ago. My memory was of fog hugging the water - an eerie kind of mood. I wanted to see it again and check out that spookiness. I checked the map, checked the time and decided I could do it. I turned off the Camino and took what I thought was going to be a highway to the coast. Well, it started out that way. For about 10 minutes. Then it turned into a traffic jam. Absolute gridlock. For a couple of hours. It was in the midst of the heat wave, I turned the AC off to prevent the car from overheating, and I waited. And waited. For No Apparent Reason. I marveled at the scenery and enjoyed the fragrance of the trees and tried to ignore how thirsty, hot, sweaty, and eventually, hungry I was.

Finally, got to the village, still in traffic, took one of the first turns, and the first parking space I saw. The village is charming. It looks like it should be fictional! Not at all gloomy and foggy - at least at this time. I'm not even sure I have connected the correct memory to it, but I was in a completely different place than a couple of years ago. I walked around and around, found a bagel place for a cool drink and snack (too late for lunch, too early for dinner). I wasn't looking, but I found a funky yarn shop, Fengari. It's in an old storefront type building and doesn't appear to have experienced much modernization. It feels like the old west type of general store. There is yarn everywhere, and I do mean everwhere! In boxes, baskets, precariously pereched on shelves. in stacks on the floor, everywhere! Patterns, too. I liked the relaxed feel of it, but I'm a Virgo, the Martha Stewarts of the cosmos, and I would go crazy if I worked here! Inexplicably, I didn't buy anything. Too frazzled, I guess. Also, seriously dreading the trip back to San Jose.

And, today's eye candy:

Gives new meaning to the phrase 'flower bed', doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

California Dreaming

July was a busy, busy month! Most of it was spent elsewhere than hot, dry ABQ. First, I went to El Rito, NM for an intensive seminar in natural dyeing. More about that later...let's just say for now, that I'm missing the smell of wet wool!

The Man of the House and I made a repeat trip to CA for the MotoGP (motorcycle race) for him and vacation (stash enhancement and 'market research') for me. Today I'll give you Part I of my report.

But first, a couple photos of the top I finished the night before we left. It's only been designed on paper since December!

I've always been a sucker for voile. I love the texture contrasts in this top and its cool feel. The yarn is Mirto from Filatura Di Crosa (cotton/linen/rayon blend). I think that I got the fit right to allow for cotton's stretchiness.

Okay, first stop on the Great Yarn Tour of 2006. The race was at Laguna Seca, but the nearest place to stay was in San Jose. Day One I went south and checked out the shops on the coast.

This is the front of The Golden Fleece in Santa Cruz. I'd been there last year (organic cotton for a shell, Danish pattern) but I found this year's inventory much more interesting. They must have every shade of Cascade 220! I saw several good, basic lines and some intriguing luxury yarns. The staff is friendly and left me alone to pet the yarns and check out the samples. If I lived in the area, I think this would be my go-to shop. [It says Sash Mill because it's in an refurbished old industrial building - BTW, great restaurant next door with baked oatmeal for breakfast.]

My big purchase - a couple of skeins of Fixation for socks. I've never found this in my LYS.

While in Santa Cruz, I shopped around the downtown district (and explored some neighorhoods - great houses). Last year, I searched for a coffee shop, this year there were loads of them. Also, I checked out the bookstores. There is a very interesting used book store that had a book on breeds of sheep and their wool characteristics, but I refrained (!). I did get Margaret Radcliffe's book because I always learn from her articles and posts to the lists.

Across town, I found The Swift Stitch. Last year, Knit-Listers had told me about a second shop in Santa Cruz, but I didn't find it. This year, I asked at the tourist information booth in downtown and they showed it to me on the map. I recognized the route as the one I had taken before, but I just didn't go far enough. This time, even with the map, I ended up calling for directions. I was a little embarrased when I found out that I was calling from the parking lot!

Here it is - it's in the corner of a plaza kind of place. There is seating in the courtyard for the French bakery and cafe on the front corner. Very pleasant, even though it was a major heat wave day.

The inventory here seemed to me to have a lot of novelty stuff. I did see some yarns that I've seen on the lists, but not in person. The overstock was in a loft accessed by ladder! There were a couple of young women KIPping in the courtyard and the customers were of a similar demographic. I did, though, hear one woman of a certain age tell her friend that The Swift Stitch would be her new LYS.

My purchases here: more Fixation and some silk ribbon. Notions are hard to find in ABQ (buttons and ribbon especially). Here is the ribbon with its intended home - a baby doll type top with a lace skirt.

Next, I drove down the Pacific Coast Hwy to Carmel. Always one of my favorite destinations. As always, I checked out Knitting by the Sea (no web site that I can find. BTW, did you know that there are no street addresses in Carmel? The shop address is: Fifth Ave. 2 NW of Junipero!). I love the Dutch door and that the weather permits it to be open. This store is generally organized by color intead of the usual format of grouping all of a certain type of yarn together. Last year I hated this arrangement, but this year I liked it. Go figure! I talked to the owner and she is wonderful. Hi, Maura! First thing, she complimented me on my glasses. You have to like that!

Here I bought more sock yarn - I think I sense a trend.

This time it's Sockotta - another common yarn I don't

generally see. Isn't the color appropriate for Carmel?

And finally, I leave you with the sunset over the beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea. Enjoy!