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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

On Thursday, July 10th, I took another step on the birthday hill and I can see the top so clearly, that I’m ready to start walking backwards. No really, I must admit I’m a bit sad to hit 39 years old, but that’s only because my 30’s have been my best years ever!

Since my father’s retirement party was in southern Idaho the day after my birthday, we left on July 8th for our drive from Southern California to Southern Idaho. The drive through southern Utah is so beautiful and I just love this red rock that is everywhere.

Originally I was very worried about the 14 hour drive to my parents home and since fuel costs are so high, we really couldn’t afford to stop and stay at a hotel. I was especially concerned because with my fibromyalgia, you just never know how a lengthy car ride is going to be. Thankfully, my most amazing friend Laura came to the rescue and allowed us use of her timeshare points to stay at the Cedar Breaks Lodge in Brian Head, Utah.

Miraculously the lodge was exactly the midpoint in our trip, so we stayed there the night of the 8th and woke the following day to this beautiful view.

The lodge sits at the base of the Brian Head Ski Resort and I can just picture this all covered in snow. It must be beautiful.

The following day, July 10th, had an auspicious start (that’s a whole other story), but at noon I was surprised by getting to visit the local fiber farm, Hartwell’s Lazy PJ Ranch.

Hubby gave me a card with a bunch of money in it to spend at the fiber farm, and so I got some superwash merino and soysilk fiber, a latern moon spinning basket, some back issues of Spin-Off magazine and a beautiful Gita Marie orifice hook.

Of course the batteries on my camera died. So, I was at the mercy of my mother’s picture taking skills. I won’t humiliate myself with showing the photos of my eyes closed and my tongue sticking out, but I do have this photo of me with a suri alpaca.

After the fiber farm, we had lunch at the local Mexican restaurant and later that day I received a few gifts. My favorite one was this “cake” my sister made me.

It’s a pile of the most delicious chocolate frosting ever with 3 balls of marzipan yarn in the center. I know she was disappointed that she didn’t have time to make me a “real” cake, but she was so busy making the retirement cake for my dad, that I asked her not to make one for me. After that candle was blown out, I asked for a package of graham crackers and scooped up piles of frosting on them. Mmmm …. my favorite.

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I was sad to wake up on Sunday morning knowing that this afternoon I had to leave Stitches and all my new friends to return to normal life. I was anxious to hit the market floor one last time and got impatient waiting for my husband, so I went to the market a few minutes ahead of him. I wandered the aisles and picked up a few little things for some friends. I can’t show you what they are, but if you want to check out Debra’s Garden and Gita Maria, you’ll have an idea of what I bought.

My husband met up with me before my purchase at Debra’s Garden, and gave me yet another knitting bag. He knows I have a love for bags, and I had commented earlier in the week that it would be wonderful to have a bag like that one to take to my knit nights so that my bag stayed upright. Obviously he was paying attention.

Bag Smith Knitting Bag

And if that weren’t enough (and it was) as I wandered with him by several beloved vendors such as Blue Moon Fiber Arts and Brooks Farm Yarn, I noticed the Carolina Homespun booth and their spinning wheels that had been taunting me all weekend.

Several of my blogging friends are spinners (you know who you are) and since they flash their beautiful handspun on their blogs, it had me fantasizing about spinning my own yarn also. On Friday afternoon after milling around the spinning wheels for awhile, I was asked if I had any questions. I let them know I was just looking and that I was going to save my money this year to purchase a wheel. I inquired about the best wheel for a beginner, and after 30 minutes or so, I decided that the wheel that would probably work best for me is the folding Lendrum Double Treadle wheel.

As hubby and I passed their booth Saturday morning, I’d realized that I didn’t remember the name of the wheel, nor had I written it down. I showed Morgaine the spinning wheel with the forgotten name, and she said that one is the folding Lendrum Double Treadle wheel and its a wonderful. I inquired about her shipping policy and she quickly let me know that she could either ship this wheel to me, or I could take it with me today. I laughed and explained that I was still saving my money and that I wouldn’t be purchasing until much later this year (if not next). My husband interrupted and said “no, we’ll be buying the wheel today and we’d like to take it home with us today.”

Lendrum DT wheel

I held onto his arm to steady myself and said “No, I will wait until my birthday or Christmas because I’m going to save my own money to buy it”. He gave me his “don’t argue with me” look so I stopped talking.

Then there was the option of taking just the wheel, or purchasing the complete kit. Hmm… guess which option we chose?

Lendrum accessories

Margaine then asked if I wanted a bag to put the wheel in. I politely declined and my husband said in his gently stern voice “pick one”. I told him again it wasn’t necessary and I could look online for bags when we got home and then he interrupted me. “You need your wheel to be protected. We’re not leaving here until you pick one.” Sir, yes sir.

Lendrum portable wheel bag

Margaine left the booth to get my wheel and bag from her trailer and I stood there in complete shock. I’ve never sat at a wheel and I’ve never attempted spinning, not even with a drop spindle. I told hubby to pinch me because I still must be in our hotel room asleep and dreaming. Then it hit me and I asked my husband “when did you know you were going to buy this for me?” “Thursday night” he replied. “Then why did you let me buy all that yarn when I should have been purchasing fiber for the wheel?” He didn’t hesitate for a moment and told me “You’ll need yarn to knit while you’re learning to spin, won’t you?” He was correct. Besides, if he thinks I’m going to stop buying yarn just because I’m going to spin now, he’s crazy.

One last thing about my wonderful husband. A night or so ago when he came home from work I told him I wanted to show him what I’d received in the mail. He sat down on the sofa next to me and I handed him a skein of fingering weight sock yarn. He looked at it for a moment and then just as I looked away I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he was sniffing the yarn. My head spun around to catch him in the act, and he gave me that “oh damn she caught me” look. I giggled and he smiled. I guess spending a few days at Stitches West truly rubbed off on him. In a good way though.

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Luckily on Saturday morning I woke feeling fairly good. I can only attribute it to the 2 doses of Flexeril and the Melatonin combination. Hubby decided that shopping in the market didn’t sound so bad, so he joined me on our walk to the market floor. I have no idea how to express to you in words the amount of people already in the market. I knew it was going to be busy, but I suppose I’m never quite prepared for large crowds.

I knew that my Ravelry passport had very few stamps/stickers in it, so today I planned on collecting them all, as well as making sure I picked up some yarn from WEBS for a sweater or two. Since I’d walked around all the booths the day before to see my options for purchases, I took my market floor booth layout sheet, and circled all the booths I needed to stop at and for what item. Some were just for the Passport, some were to enter drawings, and others were for purchases. This definitely helped keep me on track and I will do it every year that I attend Stitches.

Market Floor

The current sweater I’m knitting, the Radiance Cabled Jacket, has a hook and eye closure instead of buttons. On Friday I’d noticed some beautiful Norwegian pewter hook & eye clasps at AffectionKnit, so I stopped at their booth first. I surveyed all their pewter clasps, and all the sets of 3 were $14, but I got this one for $9, so I felt like I’d found a bargain. The booth was already extremely crowded, and several rude women pushed their way ahead of me in line so I ended up standing there for 15 minutes waiting to make my cash purchase. In fact, I think these women must have been around me all day because the level of rude people at Stitches was at an all-time high this year.

Norwegian Pewter frogs (clasps)

I didn’t make another purchase for quite awhile since I was gathering Passport stickers/stamps and entering my name into daily drawings for this and that, but when I stopped at the Fibersphere booth to get my Passport stamped, I noticed some bags (of course), As I was looking over the sock size bag, the vendor shared with me the story behind the bag. Since I’m a sucker anyway for any type of bag, when I found out that women in Cambodia were making them and were being paid three times as much as they’d normally make so they could support their families, I just had to support the cause. I’m not sure what the material is on the outside of the bag (bamboo?) but the inside of the bag is fabric lined with two open pockets, one zippered pocket, and the strap is adjustable.

Cambodia Bag

We walked around for awhile, collecting stamps, and entering drawings, but when we ran into Cindi, Barbara and Rhonda at lunch time, we decided to pass on the $10 hotel sandwich and drove to Baja Fresh for a quick and inexpensive lunch. Of course we weren’t there long since there were schedules to be kept by the others in our group, so I returned to the market to continue filling up my Passport.

The next Ravelry passport stop was Article Pract. As I walked in to get my stamp, I noticed the Malabrigo worsted with a sign saying $10/skein. Then I noticed the Julie Weisenberger patterns. Next thing I know, I’m walking out of their booth just having purchased the Katarina pattern, the Malabrigo Loafers pattern, as well as 3 skeins of Malabrigo worsted in Forest and Azul Profundo.

Coco Knits and Yarn

I had meandered around the WEBS booth on Friday looking at the huge assortment of yarns and trying to decide what I wanted for which project. I was so overwhelmed though, and so tired from that day I opted to wait and purchase on Saturday. Well here it was Saturday and as I started to wander a bit, a lovely young woman named Cirilia asked if she could help me. Realizing that I got nowhere Friday trying to help myself, I said yes. Boy am I glad I did. I showed her my printed Ravelry queue page and asked her for recommendations for the projects I wanted to knit. She was so nice, quick, and knowledgeable, that before I knew it, I had 3 sweaters worth of yarn in my husbands hands. I had intended on only buying one or two sweaters worth of yarn, but since I chose Valley Yarns for 2 of the sweaters, I was able to afford the 100% Alpaca yarn.

WEBS

The blue yarn is Valley Yarns Longmeadow and I’m intending on using it for Drops Design 100-34, although I could use it for a few of the projects in my queue. The red yarn is Valley Yarns Williamstown and it’s intended for Katarina by Julie Weisenberger. The olive green yarn Blue Sky Alpacas 100% Alpaca and is intended for Henley Perfected. I can’t wait to start on these projects.

At this point I could tell that my husband was at his shopping limit and so we decided to head back to the room to rest for awhile before dinner. That plan didn’t last long though. The market floor called to me from inside my room, so I left hubby to watch a movie while I wandered the booths for awhile. I wasn’t planning on purchasing anything, but when I saw this little book, I couldn’t resist.

Knitspiration

This softbound book is called Knitspiration by Fiona Ellis which is a knitting journal. I have long been in search of a small notebook that had both lined and graph pages in it so I could play around with some ideas that float around in my head occasionally. This knitting journal has everything I’d ever want in a journal, with inspiring words and Fiona Ellis even signed it.

Dinner was a driving mis-adventure (no thanks to OnStar) to B.J.’s Brewery to meet-up with Lain, her husband and her son. Lain and I originally connected because of knitting, and although she knits beautifully, she is actually a scrapbooking designer, instructor, and podcaster. For what the Yarn Harlot is to the knitting world, Lain (ScrapHappy) is to the scrapbooking world. Someday I’ll say “I knew her when”.

After dinner I met up with the group from the previous evening for more knitting until 1am, although hubby did not join us this night. When I booked our hotel room, I’d debated on whether to stay Saturday night and at that moment I was so glad I booked us through Sunday morning. Spending time knitting with others that enjoy the same things as I was a priceless moment. I knew that although the classes, and shopping were great, spending time with current friends, meeting new ones, and spending time with those who share the same passion, was the true gift of Stitches.

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Friday was an amazing day at Stitches, especially since I attended an all-day class taught by Cat Bordhi on the Foxglove Sock Architecture as explained in her latest book. It was amazing just being in Cat’s presence, but watching and listening to her information about sock construction was very enlightening. Her visual aids and her method of explaining techniques were so great, that I really feel like I have reached a whole new level of understanding regarding sock design and sock architecture. She was extremely patient, and was available to anyone at anytime for one-on-one attention if they needed it. It’s really hard to put into words just how amazing this class was.

My baby sock design

When class finished in the afternoon she asked to see the baby sock I designed and I was shocked when she said it was one of the better designs she’d seen. Since I didn’t plan the design and it was just created as I knit, I realized that sometimes I over-think things and that just going with the flow sometimes produces the best results. By the way, I hate this photo of me, but since this is the only photo I have or will probably ever have with Cat, I will treasure it. And yes, that is the Tangled Yoke Cardigan.

Me & Cat Bordhi

When class ended that afternoon I met my wonderful husband in the market for more shopping. I only picked up a few items, and although it’s barely worth mentioning the stitch markers I purchased at Ellen’s Half Pint Farm, it is most definitely worth mentioning the Full Thread Ahead booth. Normally I prefer to not shop at these types of vendors since they are a LYS from the local area. I personally would rather give my money to my LYS, but Full Thread Ahead had two items my LYS doesn’t. An over the ear light for knitting in low-light conditions and the new Cookie A sock patterns. I ended up only purchasing the Trystero pattern, but I’m sure the others will be added to my sock patterns fairly soon.

Stitches West

The Ravelry booth had a few fun things to purchase, but I decided on the Raverly pin and the Bob pin. I really wanted the Ravelry canvas bag, but honestly I have too many bags as it is, although on Saturday I forgot this fact. Other than meeting Jess & Casey, the Passport was the best thing at the Ravelry booth. Several exhibitors had their logo imprinted on a page that looked exactly like pages in a passport, and the idea was to go around to each of those exhibitors and get a stamp or sticker from them for your page. When you filled your passport, you then returned it to Ravelry for inspection and you were then entered into a drawing of prizes donated by the participating exhibitors. This Passport got me into lots of “trouble” on Saturday, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see why.

Ravelry

The marketplace closed at 6pm, so hubby and I went to dinner with Laura, Barbara, Cindi, and Rhonda. Since both Laura and I had a vehicle, we got to leave the horribly overpriced food at the hotel, and went to Red Robin since it was affordable for everyone in the group. The food, drinks, and service were wonderful although little did I know that later I was going to later regret eating the Bonzai Burger, fries, and large beer.

Back at the hotel, nobody wanted to “call it an evening” so we sat in the hotel lobby to knit and got lucky enough to have both Michelle and Rebecca join us as well. Hubby sat with us for 2 rounds of drinks. He ordered us Bailey’s Coffee and that was another item I regretted later on. He left us to our own devices around 10pm and went to the room to watch a movie. We all stayed up until 1am and then decided nobody was going to be useful the next day unless we turned in for the evening.

Back in the room, hubby was in bed soundly sleeping (so cute) and as I leaned over the weird sink to wash my face, I felt a rumbly in my tumbly and it wasn’t good. But that’s not the worst of it. While the rumbly continued in my tumbly, and the horrible feeling of “worshipping the porcelain god” was going on, I had an intense fibromyalgia flare. It was so painful, that even wearing my jammies hurt like hell. It went on for hours until I took a second dose of Flexeril and finally fell asleep. What a day!

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There’s so much to share with you regarding Stitches West, but I’m going to break it up into several posts so I don’t overload your systems with photos.

We left the house Thursday morning and drove from Southern California to Northern California. We were lucky enough to be staying at the Santa Clara Hyatt Regency hotel which is attached to the Santa Clara Convention Center where the Stitches classes and shopping are. The hotel is very nice as are the rooms, but it seems like they tried to make everything a little bit contemporary which made for poor room functionality.

Hyatt Hotel Room

The bathroom had a wonderful shower curtain rod that bowed out so that you felt like you had more space in the shower, but the sink in the bathroom had the faucet mounted to the left of the sink which turned out to be very awkward to use.

Hyatt Regency bathroom

After getting settled into our room, I went to the hotel lobby to meet up with a Laura and a few friends from the Anaheim Hills Knit Night on Mondays, so that we could attend the Ravelry meet-up together. Actually if it weren’t for Ravelry, there would not be a Monday knit night with these incredible women. It was interesting to see so many Ravelry users in one room, and I loved finally seeing Jess and Casey in person (from obviously a distance).

Jess & Casey

The only downside to the event was the cash bar. Obviously nobody told catering that knitters do indeed drink, and so there was only one small bar with one bartender. There was a continuous line for that bar for at least an hour. I felt so sorry for the bartender. After the Ravelry meet-up I met my husband at the hotel sushi bar for a bite to eat to fortify myself for the 3 hour shopping spree I was about to participate in. The area was crowded, understaffed, and slow as mud, but luckily the sushi was quite good. We finished dinner just in time to race to the market area to meet up with friends.

Most everyone was stopping at the Raverly booth first to pick up their Passports (more detail on that in a future post), but hubby went there for me as I raced to the Blue Moon fiber Arts booth. I grabbed a lot of skeins of lightweight sock yarn as I made my way through the mass of knitters in the booth. Since the purchase line was really long hubby waited in line for me while I figured out what I wanted. I think there were 7 skeins of yarn in my hands when I met up with him, but when I saw there will Mill Ends for about $7 less a skein than the regular skeins, I dumped most of the yarn I had and grabbed 3 skeins of it. I handed hubby enough money to make the purchase for me, and then told him I’d meet him at the next booth. Do I have the perfect husband or what?

Socks That Rock (Stitches West)

I ended up with 3 skeins of Socks That Rock Mill Ends (1 skein of lightweight and 2 skeins of mediumweight), and 1 skein of Socks That Rock Silkie in Valkyrie. I just noticed yesterday that the Blue Moon logo is backwards on the labels and there are no colorways written on them so who knows what they are. I guess I’ll just call them gorgeous!

Next, I was off to Purlescence Yarns to purchase the Tulip Baby Cardigan kit. It was a bit more money than I’d normally spend on a baby cardigan, but I believe I’ll be using the pattern over and over again since there never seems to be a shortage of women having babies.

Tulip Baby Cardigan Kit

My final purchase for the evening was at Chameleon Colorworks for a skein of her beautiful Bambino yarn. I first saw her hand-dyed yarn at TNNA and instantly fell in love with the Twinkle Toes, Bambino and Evolution yarns. The Loopy Ewe just added the Bambino and Evolution yarns to her store today, so I suggest you get over there and pick some up. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Bambino (Briar Rose)

The market was open for 3 hours, but frankly after only getting 3 1/2 hours of sleep the night before, I was too exhausted to continue on and wanted to rest up for my class with Cat Bordhi. I think I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.

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Designer spotlight

This was going to be a post about my adventures at TNNA in Long Beach, but it makes no sense telling you what I saw at this tradeshow, without first explaining why I was there. For those of you who are unfamiliar with TNNA, it is the National NeedleArts Association which is a trade association for professionals in knitting, needlework, and stitching. Each year they have two trade shows for members and it is huge! For our purposes, I’ll only discuss the knitting side of things. If you are a yarn store owner, a TNNA tradeshow is the perfect venue to go check out what’s new in the industry, place orders with vendors, meet designers, etc.

So lets get back to why I was there. My dear friend Laura is a very talented designer and a member of TNNA. She graciously asked me to attend with her so she could meet with yarn companies, show them her patterns, and hopefully gather enough interest from them to possibly design some patterns in their yarn. It’s really a win/win situation.
One of the items I was wearing on the 2nd day we attended was a pair of socks that she designed that I failed to post about when I finished them in November. I’m going to remedy that problem right now because this is a pattern I definitely would like to show off!
Pattern: Candy Wrappers by Laura Patterson of Fiber Dreams

Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight in Rose Quartz
Needles: 24″ circular 2.25 mm (US 1) and 2.5 mm (US 1.5)

Modifications: I cast on with the 2.25 mm needles to work the ribbing and then switched to the 2.5 mm needles to knit the rest of the sock. I didn’t do this because of any problem wit
h the pattern, but because I was too lazy to swatch & realized when I completed the ribbing that I better go up a bit in needle size if these were going to fit.
I also added an extra 1/2 repeat of the pattern on the leg because I’m somewhat strange and always like my socks a bit longer than any pattern I’ve ever knit. It seemed like a good idea at the time until I figured out that I had to shift my stitches on the needles to work the heel flap in the pattern stitch. It took some math skills on my part to make it work, but I think I executed it fine.
Notes: The cabling technique in this pattern is beautiful and very unique and something I’ve never ran across before. I was unable to figure out how to do it without a cable needle, but when I knit this pattern again, my goal is to figure it out. That is, unless someone does it for me first, which would be wonderful.

I don’t recall ever knitting this type of toe decrease before, especially since I usually knit all my socks toe-up, but it’s so pretty I felt it needed its own close-up. At TNNA I got compliments left and right every time someone saw these. In fact, the VP of Brown Sheep Company was practically gushing over them and said if they weren’t on my feet she’d steal them. The glint in her eye at one point led me to believe that she may indeed be serious.

As can be the case with some patterns, you have to be careful as to what yarn type and colorway you choose, so that the stitch pattern doesn’t get “lost”. I think this skein of Socks That Rock showed off the pattern very well, and I was very lucky to win this skein in a blog contest awhile ago from Tiennie Knits.
The pattern is written top-down (cuff to toe), on dpn’s, but I found it extremely easy to modify it for two circular needles. Dare I say that it would be just as easy using the Magic Loop?
Now if this fabulous sock isn’t enough of a designer spotlight, I’ll tease you a bit here by showing you her current design that I’m test-knitting. It’s called the Garden Party Shawl, and with all the beautiful flower and leaf motifs, I can definitely see why. Some of you may remember her last design, Pacific Islands, which can be knit into a shawl or a scarf. It got quite a bit of attention when Wendy Johnson (Wendy Knits) test-knit it for Laura, and the pattern went flying out of Laura’s online store. I suspect the Garden Party Shawl will too … once it’s available.

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I’m actually leaving it up to Laura to write about our driving adventures to see the Yarn Harlot on Saturday, but I’ll give you the quickie-version.

I live approximately 30 miles south of Los Angeles and for those of you who’ve been to California before, I only live about 8 miles north of Disneyland. I now understand why I live closer to the latter … it’s easier to get there!

Not only did we run into some unexpected traffic (although with Los Angeles, why was I thinking there *wouldn’t* be traffic?), but we also thought we had missed our exit, and tried to create our own route which led to its own adventures through Chinatown and such. Luckily, the Yarn Gods must have been smiling on us, because we eventually ended up in a parking garage that we thought might be *close* to our destination and as we exited the garage, you’ll never believe what was directly across the street from us … the Los Angeles Central Public Library. The exact location we were looking for. Now, I won’t bore you with the details of trying to go home, but let me just say… never a dull moment.

As anyone who has ever written a blog post has stated, attending a Yarn Harlot event is definitely worth the drive, the time, the babysitting expense, whatever. Yes, her books are funny, but listening to her speak made me think I was at the Improv watching a stand-up comedy routine. People around me had tears streaming down there face because they were laughing so hard! The only thing missing were the hot looking waiters serving drinks!

I met a lot of wonderful knitters and it was also real treat to finally get to meet Jillian who not only frequently leaves me some very nice comments here at my little ol’ blog, but has been a huge help and support in helping me cope and understand fibromyalgia.

I must definitely give a HUGE thanks to Lynda, who let Laura & I join her group so we could get in to see the Yarn Harlot on Saturday. I was on the first page of the waiting list, but when Lynda offered her few extra tickets to join her group, I jumped at the chance. If you want to read and see all the wonderful photos of the Harlots visit to Los Angeles, the Lynda has a wonderful blog post about it. She even has a photo of me (YIKES)

And where is the photo of me with the Harlot? Hmmmm…. I was so damn excited just to meet her and have her sign my books, that I completely forgot. I’d blame it on blond roots, except at my age, they are gray now. And the most pathetic thing? The camera was hanging from my wrist! I got photos of Laura with her, but none of me. I did however, remember to take a photo of my California State dishcloth that I made for her, and she photographed me with it, which you can see on her blog post.

So what’s it like to be on the Yarn Harlot’s blog? Absolutely Surreal!!

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