Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stitches West 2009

Cheryl picked me up at 7:30 and we headed down to the much anticipated day at Stitches West yesterday. We made good time; no traffic to slow us down and the weather was a perfect cool winter day. When we arrived, the parking was FREE (yay! more money for yarn!). The line to get into the market was a total other story. I looked at Cheryl and she said, "don't look at me like that!" because she knew that I was right...should have gotten market tickets online!!!!!

When I finally got to the front of the line to get our tickets, the woman who was helping me was distracted by people. too many people. It took her so long to get back to me that she forgot that I gave her a coupon and how many tickets I wanted. It took all I had to not beg the man next to her to take my money so that I could just get into the !@#%^& Marketplace!!!!!!

We made a beeline to Blue Moon Fiber Arts and chose my first purchase; I also picked up a skein of Bejewelled in Heavy Weight for Claudia. It was difficult not to purchase more yarn...But I remembered to pace myself and to wait and see what other yarns would be begging to go home with me. We visited Creatively Dyed Yarns and drooled in there a bit; I took notes of colors that I wanted and planned to return. I noticed the Jordana Paige booth and thought fondly of my Swift. We visited Pigeonroof yarns, and I must say that although it was a small booth, once you got into booth, it was hard to leave without fondling and wanting to buy yarn...I gave in and bought 2 skeins of Papaya (one Superwash Merino and the other was a merino/cashmere/nylon blend). You know, I truly did not notice that they were the exact same color. My eyes read Papaya on both (beautiful golds/browns)...but all I saw was the fiber content; must've been the yarn fumes... We also visited one of the vendors selling books. I found a top down book from Mary Rich Goodwin that attached itself to my hand and wouldn't let go. I was very touched by this act of affection, so I felt bound to purchase it. It also did not hurt that it gave excellent directions on top down sweaters in a variety of styles, including saddle style shoulders. I must say here that while I appreciate Knitting from the Top by BW and EZ's guidelines for seamless garments, this book is something that I know I will USE and not just refer to when I want to make my husband a style of sweater that he will actually wear. The directions seem clear and they are actual directions, which is something that I, not being a very experienced knitter, need.

We tried to visit all the vendors but it was impossible. There were spinning wheels, which were impossible to ignore when someone was trying one out, a plethora of knitwear, both displayed in the booths and being worn by fiber enthusiasts, buttons, and the different kinds of fiber that were everywhere. Cheryl and I both agreed on 2 rules: We would not buy anything that we could get at our FLYS and we would buy things that we could not get anywhere else. We visited Imagiknit (great selection and huge booth) and other yarn stores and pretty much stuck to our resolve. However, we saw Madeline Tosh Worsted at the WEBS booth and I couldn't help myself. I have to say that I chose this yarn over my beloved Dream in Color because it was such a great price (after WEBS discount), and they had the color that I was lusting after. Plus it was so soft and I knew that I had the perfect pattern for the amount of yarn that I wanted to get...

Which leads me to the true highlight of my day: I got a pattern from CocoKnits - with Julie Weisenberger's AUTOGRAPH!! I love the patterns from this designer. Her instructions are clear and easy to understand. Plus there is minimal seaming and she has quite a few top down designs, which are awesome! Some of her non-sweater designs are the Prairie Boots, Pleated Ballet Flats, Felted Baskets, Felted Messenger Bag, and Malabrigo Loafers (who cannot love a woman who designs with Malabrigo??). I have the Brigitta pattern and patiently waiting for the yarn to come in at my FLYS. I was not planning on purchasing any patterns from the show, but when I saw her booth there and found the Katje Pattern, I couldn't resist. A hoodie knit TOTALLY top down from the hood??? Are you kidding me??? I had to have it...and the icing on the cake was that Julie was THERE and said that she would autograph it for me! She said that no one asked for her autograph before - I found that hard to believe but she said it was true. I asked her if she going to put a collection of her patterns together in a book and she said that she didn't have the time. If she ever did, I would get it and have her sign that too.

We eventually had lunch. I was actually surprised that Cheryl was not hungry (!). Me, I get hungry if I don't eat by 12:00...Got in the lunch line close to one, after checking out Imagiknit, met some other knitters and made a game plan for visiting more vendors (I think at this point in time, we had only seen a handful of vendors). We met up with Analena (who got a spinning wheel!), and shopped some more; I had to get some more yarn for Claudia, after all!

Before I knew it, it was 4:00; the last stop of the day was Creatively Dyed and I made my final purchases. Good thing, too, because it was very difficult making choices from all of her beautiful handdyed yarn.

Arrived home a little after 9:30. It was an amazing day experiencing all of the fibers, designs, books, accesories, and people. It truly was a Disneyland for all fiber lovers. There was something for everyone who appreciated all kinds of this craft. And like Disneyland, you need to stay more than one day there to be able to see everything. I am already planning for Stitches West 2010, and hoping for a 2-day stay.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

So excited I couldn't sleep

Stitches is tomorrow. I am so excited that I wasn't able to sleep yesterday!! I am hoping that bringing cash will prevent me from overspending...but I think I will bring my credit card just in case.

Packing for it is like packing for a weekend away from home. Snacks? Check. Money? Check. List of things to buy and see? Check. Map? Check.

I envision it to be something surreal. Fiber artists smiling, with the smell of wool and natural products filling my nostrils, and seductively colored yarn coaxing me to give money to their owners so I can take them home. And me, a superwoman blur racing booth to booth, with Cheryl at my side, fighting alongside me to get the yarn before anyone else notices. Or against me, depending on what it is!

My first Stitches event...I am sure it won't be as great as I am thinking it will be; but I am sure it will be one that I remember. Should I bring a camera to capture it? Nah, I might be tempted to sell it for one more sweater's worth of yarn.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Something I like

I am liking Something Red. It is easy to work, the yarn works well with the pattern, and there is no question with gauge. I must say that it is much easier to knit a teeny bit tighter than it is to try to knit looser! I was measuring 17 sts per 4 inches instead of 18; all I am doing is pulling on the yarn to tighten it up a bit every 10 or so stitches and the cardigan is knitting up really well. I like the feel of the fabric; not too loose. I read ahead and it looks like the knit that I made for the 2 kids. I don't know if it will be done in time for Stitches West 2009 but at least I am enjoying it.

I can't believe Stitches is only 2 days away! I am counting the hours!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

S****y Ribs

I ripped out Slinky Ribs for the last time. This pattern makes me want to scream.

I am now working on Something Red (Wendy Bernard). This pattern is much easier in comparison. I really need to find a top down or seamless sweater lace pattern...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ribbit ribbit

I frogged Slinky Ribs again...It was too small. Now I know what you are thinking; if I had only swatched...Well, I didn't and now I've frogged it. However, I am not upset that I had to frog it. I perfected my PCO on the cable and now understand how to shorten the length of my neckline. I am now knitting the shoulders down and have about an inch to go before I start the neck shaping. This will be 2 inches shorter than how the pattern is written.

I am excited about going to Stitches. Talked about it with my husband and he said just to make my best judgement with how much to spend. Is he kidding? I'll be surrounded by yarn; I don't have the best judgement around yarn normally. The only reason I haven't bought yarn these past few weeks is because I intend to spend the money that I didn't spend at my favorite yarn store at Stitches; what makes him think that I will have judgement surrounded by other women (and men) who are just in love with fiber as I am? Plus Cheryl will be with me. Neither of us neither have willpower when it comes to resisting buying beautiful yarn that we may never see again. Best judgement...hah! He might as well as ask me not to go...ooh, don't tell him I said that!!

I have created a must buy list though, so I don't overspend. As much as I really really love to shop and yarn, I know that my kids still need to eat, and dang it, yarn is full of fiber but not other nutrients. So I will follow a budget and use my list...I will. That is, unless I find an awesome deal on Dream in Color.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just knitting along

I am halfway done with the body of my Slinky Ribs sweater from Custom Knits. I think it is finally coming along. I started using size 8 needles for the front, but realized that because I am a loose knitter, it may be too big for the gauge I need for the pattern, so I switched back to size 6. The rib detail is fun to do...I am on the second rib detail now and it looks like soon it will be all stockinette in the round and then the sleeves. I plan on long sleeves for this sweater.

Just bought 3 more skeins of Plymouth Encore Colorspun today for the Something Red sweater that I downloaded the other day. With the 1 and 3/4 skeins left from James' socks, I should have just enough.

Very tempted to buy one more skein of the Jitterbug for socks; but I bought the Toe-up book today too, so hopefully making toe-up socks will prevent the need to buy another skein. I must resist anyway because Stitches is right around the corner...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why I love my Knitpicks Harmony Interchangeable Needles

I frogged my Slinky Ribs pattern...again. The area where I had to unravel the PCO and attach new yarn to knit the shoulders didn't look right and I thought, there has to be a better way. It came to me in a flash of insight: Use a cable as the waste yarn! Brilliant! Why didn't it occur to me before?

I crocheted a chain of 78 and cast on using the size 4 needle. I then disattached the needles and attached the holders (the purple disks that came with my kit. I never thought I would use I know better). I attached my working needles to another cable and continued knitting. It was more difficult than I thought it would be, because the cable is not as flexible as yarn (duh) so I used a size 00 dpn to help me knit from the row on the cable-only row. After the second row was finished, I pulled out the crocheted chain from the PCO row, leaving the cable to hold the stitches for me. Voila! Now when I am ready to use those stitches, all I have to do is attach needles to the ends (after taking off the disks, of course). I have to say though, that unraveling the crochet chain was a PITA because the yarn I used was acrylic and DK weight. Ugh. Never again!

Seems like a lot of trouble? Maybe, but if makes my seamless knitting easier and prettier, then it's totally worth it. Besides, it's not any more trouble than unraveling the PCO later and placing your needles into the stitches again. My way, no stitches are lost. Yippee for that!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My perfect knitting bag

My Tom Bihn Swift came yesterday. I feel like I've been waiting for a super duper present since I ordered it. I told Cheryl about it today and she asked me if I love it like I thought I would and I actually hesitated. I guess it's hard to love a bag.

This said, I really really like it. It is really roomy, it has o-rings to attach straps that I can attach my keys, wallet, and yarn sack. Now, this may not seem like much, but when you have as many things in your purse as I do, it's huge. It makes a difference between leaving the house relatively stress-free and running around frantically looking for my keys. Now I can just pull on the strap and immediately know that my keys aren't lost in one of my son's many hiding places. The more I think about it, the more I like it. Also, I am glad that I listened to my instincts and changed my order from the Cordura Olive/Purple to the Black/Black Ballistic Nylon. Not only is the name of the material it's made from very cool, it really lives up to its name. It stands up by itself. I have enough slouchy purses, thankyouverymuch. And not only does it look durable, it feels durable - tough - even for a mother with 2 very active kids. PLUS - and I don't know why it took me so long to decide on the colors - it's black, and it goes with everything.

Now, I don't know about you, but I like to look halfway decent when I leave the house (I at least like to think that I match - ha!). I don't know what I was thinking going with a purple and green knitting bag. I don't wear those colors. Nothing in my wardrobe are those colors. I don't even buy yarn that is green (unless it is variegated and with other colors). I gave away my only 2 skeins of yarn with those two colors. That purse would not have matched anything I would wear. I would feel silly carrying it around town with my very boring and not-purple-and-green clothing. Black is the color. And I love that my Swift is that color!

Welcome Swift in Black Ballistic Nylon. You are now my official knitting bag, and YES, I think I love you (in a platonic way, of course).