Monday, November 20, 2006

Stitches Classes

This is long overdue. I took two classes at Stitches East. The first was an intro to entrelac by Margaret Fisher. It was great! She was a very good instrutor. See my little swatch.

I am really excited about entrelac. When I've looked at instructions in books, I couldn't picture how it worked. I am the kind of learner who needs to see things AND read instructions to really get it. I love finding web tutorials with pictures and--even better-video. So this entrelac class was perfect for me. Margarat talked us through the process. She gave us great handouts with diagrams and she walked around the room at each step to see how we were doing and if we had questions.

Lately, I've seen Lady Eleanor from Scarf Style everywhere and I just love it. But I think my first entrelac project will be this bag.

I saw it in the marketplace at Stitches but didn't want to buy a kit. When I went back to ask about the pattern, they were sold out. Of course, I couldn't remember whose pattern it was. I thought it was a Noni, cause all the cool felted bags are Noni, right? When I didn't see it on the Noni site, I emailed Nora. She was so sweet and emailed me back right away that she didn't have an entralac bag pattern. I was wowed by her service.

So, I sent an email to KnitU and someone on it remembered the bag AND that it was a Plymouth kit. So, I found the pattern on kpixie and now I just need to pick out yarn. I will probably use knitpicks Wool of the Andes. I think I'll try to do similar colors for my first bag. But I think this also would be very cute in shades of one one color, like blues or greens, as long as the shades are different enough to show the triangles after felting. I've never felted before. I just think it will be so cute. And since I travel a lot, it will be a great travel tote. It will probably be a few months until I get to this project though cause I have a few other in the queu ahead of it.

My other class was about short rows and covered three different types: yarn over, wrap and turn and Japanese. The instructor was Maureen Mason-Jamieson; she was also great. The class was bit more frustrating. It was later in thd day; I was tired. Plus, I didn't have the right supplies: I only had one kind of yarn and I messed up a few times so got really behind. But Maureen was wonderful and again, she demonstrated each technique in small groups. And she also gave us good, detailed instructions (if you follow them word for word, something I wasn't doing at first). So I saw how everything was done in class then I took out the instructions and redid everything at home. In this picture, the three rows on the left were shorts done on the KNIT side and the three rows on the right were short rows done on the PURL side.

As you can see in the top portion, I need some work doing the wrap and turn and Japanese methods on the PURL side.

And I got these cute shawl sticks at Stitches. I actually got three, but lost one right away. I am bummed about that: it was a more neutral creme shade that would have gone with everything. The green one will be a stocking stuffer for my mom.

Tomorrow G and I are off to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving. I can't wait to see my family! We are driving, so I'll have A LOT of car knitting time. I will finish that damn sock and start a sweater! And maybe I'll bring the scarf I am making for G, but not sure if I'll actually have any time to work on it when he isn't around. I'm off to Phoenix in Dec. for work, so I'll have plenty of time to finish it then.

When I am back, I WILL have photos of me wearing a PAIR of socks. Really.

Have a wonderful holiday everyone!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Two Nephews!

I have two new nephews! Owen was born on Nov. 3 and Alex was born Nov. 13. I was thinking they would both be girls; it is so exciting to have nephews!

Since I don't live near either of them, I can't bring food to stock their freezer. But when my niece was born, almost three years ago, I sent my brother and his wife some stuffed chicken from Omaha steaks. And during the past yeaar, my coworker and I sent meals from Home Bistro to sick coworkers.

Anybody have any experience with any other ready-to-go-meals?

I will get to see Owen next week in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving! I can't wait.

Seriously, it is the best being an aunt, now times three!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fun With Quizzes

I didn't feel like actually writing a post today so I am having fun with quizzes. I've seen this first one everywhere. I AM from Wisconsin. I know how to say fog. But I don't pronounce "bag" like "beg." I draw the line. Oh, and FYI for the quiz writer, people in Wisconsin say "soda" at least in the Madison and Milwaukee areas. I learned that one the hard way when I moved to Milwaukee from Iowa and asked for a pop: My classmates laughed at me.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Well it is cold ...

You are exactly 32% naked!

You're dressed a little conservatively. It wouldn't kill you to loosen up a little. take off that tie, let your hair down. See what happens.

Are You Naked???
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

And good thing I aced this one.

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

I took the 80s band one too, but I was some band I had never heard of ... hmmm ... what does that say about me? :)

Well, that was a good 45 minutes wasted. 45 minutes I could have been knitting ...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stitches Shopping

My first Stitches was an experience. It was my first knitting-related large-scale event and I really liked it, for the most part.

The coolest part was seeing all the knitters in, what my friend L termed, their yarn bling. I saw several clapotis, some of the capelets from Shawl Style, lots of lace, some amazing sweaters, hats, scarves and mits. I wanted to ask every person about their creation, but I didn't. If I had, I wouldn't have had time to shop!

And shop I did on Saturday and, briefly, on Sunday.

Sat. afternoon, I met L for shopping. I did pretty good. I made a list of things I was looking for, which helped me focus. I was really overwhelmed at first. It was crowded and I was sort of wandering aimlessly. As the afternoon progressed, the crowd thinned. After reading the reports of Maryland Sheep and Wool, I had imagined mad rushes for the bins and yarn being fought over. But it was very civil. My main issue was getting blocked in some of the booths.

All my loot in a tote.

So, first on my list was to get yarn for manly socks for G. I couldn't decide between two skeins of Mama E's hand dyed stuff, so I got them both. G picked the blue one for his socks.

I found three cool patterns in Rosie' Yarn Cellar's booth and got this pink laceweight merino. It is called "bubblegum." I love it. It's for lace wrap for me. Probably.

Then, I had to have this Noro Blossom from the Woolstock sale bin. It is my first Noro. I normally find the Noro yarn to be too scratchy. The colors are amazing, but I like soft yarn. But this Blossom is a blend of wool, mohair, silk and nylon and and it is soft. I am picturing a shawl. Do I make anything other than shawls? I feel like I can't get enough. :)

And I got this free ball during my class coffee break.

So, Saturday was great. I talked to some lovely women, bought some great stuff and had fun shopping w/ L. I bought more, but don't have time to upload now. Plus I took two classes. I'll talk about those and post about the rest of my purchases next week after we get back from a short trip to Connecticut.

Looks like I need to ask for a yarn swift and ball winder for Christmas ...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Don't Hate Lionbrand

It's not my FAVORITE yarn, but I don't hate the stuff. I have a container full of it. Just wanted to clarify on my last post. In fact, I meant to add this to my last post but I forgot and was busy all weekend w/ Stitches and suddenly I have comments and I was afraid I didn't do a full disclosure. So here it is:

Like Yarn Coffee states, I think it has its purpose. I used it to make this shawl, which later on its own accord decided it wanted to be a bellydance hip scarf. An important trait of any bellydance hip scarf is that it be washable, cause, um, I sweat. This is done in Lionbrand microspun, which is very soft and comes in a variety of vibrant colors.

I think the color spectrum of Lionbrand is one of its best traits. In many of its yarns, you have a choice between several different shades of one color. Instead of being stuck with one green, you can choose from several different greens. This was one reason I was surprised by the dullness of the new hand dyed stuff. But, I have to say, every time I see the brown cashmere in the picture below, I like it.

I'll probably use my Lionbrand stash to make baby items, cause they also need to be easy to wash. But if money were no object, I would use Blue Sky Cotton for all baby items.

I've seen some really nice projects with Lionbrand stuff. Elinor is making the coolest blanket out of the chenille. Lolly is working on lovely kneesocks in Wool Ease. Ragan makes cool socks!

Now, if I could never use Lionbrand again, I wouldn't be too sad. But I can't guarantee that I'll never buy it again, just not too soon. I need to use up what I have and I did buy a *few* things at Stitches (which I'll talk about soon).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Lionbrand Goes Upscale?

Check out Lionbrand's recent newsletter. They are selling a new line of handpainted luxury yarn: 100 percent cashmere, mohair and silk, etc. And they have the luxury prices of $40 and $20 to match. I know those prices aren't unusual for handpainted yarn, especially in all-natural fibers. Heck, the cashmere price might even be "cheap" for cashmere (which is about 100 yards of worsted weight for $40). I don't price 100 percent cashmere often. I know I've seen it for much more than $40 a skein. But they are much higher than the typical Lionbrand yarns.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of selection in the colors. And they aren't wowing me. They just seem dull. Normally when I see handpainted yarn, I think "wow, that is amazingly beautiful." Of course, it could be my screen. But most of the colors are earthy and dark. They don't have to be neon, but, on my screen at least, they look dull.

I think it is an interesting development for Lionbrand. I wonder if this new "Masterpiece Collection" will be sold at Michael's? I doubt it. Doesn't fit the Michael's customer. And it doesn't seem to fit the Lionbrand target market. I guess they are trying to expand their market. But, it seems that the people who don't like Lionbrand, REALLY don't like it. So why would they spend $20 on a yarn they can't touch (assuming it will only be available online) from a company they don't like? And the people who really LIKE Lionbrand are attracted to the easy, washable, cheap acrylic stuff.

Interesting ...