Running with my Peeps

If there is a downside to being consumed by a love of all things fiber it is this: it is way too easy to stay at home for days on end knitting, weaving, spinning and just playing in the stash. If it wasn’t for social obligations (my knitting group!) and a need to go grocery shopping from time to time I could stay home happily for endless blocks of time.

Really, that probably isn’t all that healthy. How nice I also get to toddle off to Kaiser on a regular basis to give blood, pick up prescriptions, and to breathe into machines that measure my lung function. ūüôā

Okay, enough of that. This is about knitting and all things fiber after all. I’m talking about the major outing that I took last Friday to go to the Interweave Yarn Fest in Loveland, Colorado. I didn’t sign up for any of the workshops this year (but maybe next year!), but I felt that I absolutely had to go up to hit the Marketplace and to meet up with my friends from Alta Vida Alpacas.

You know, a huge marketplace filled with vendors carrying everything your fiber-loving heart can desire is a dangerous place. I handled it by cruising through the whole place and picking up cards from the vendors that stole my heart. I took a little coffee break with the cards, gave myself a little talking to while checking patterns on Ravelry, and then waded back into the marketplace to spend money. This is what happened:

Beads
Hand blown glass beads to make more stitch markers. Guess what people are getting for Christmas this year? These beads are made by a local artist, Bernadette Fuentes. Here is her shop on Etsy.
Project Bag
I’m also giving some of these small project bags suitable for sock and mitt knitting. The strap allows the bag to hang on your wrist while the yarn is safely contained in the bag by the cinched cord. There are also little pockets in the bag for stitch markers and other small essentials. Perfect for knitting while on the go (and waiting to see your doctor…). If you can’t read the card in the picture these bags are by Slipped Stitch Studios.
Roving
Yak and silk handpainted roving. OMG!! I think that they had me at yak!
Roving
Yep. They had me. I had to bring home 4 ounces of the crocus and twilight colorways. These 50/50 yak/silk rovings are by Greenwood Fiberworks.
Button
Then I had to face the great existential question of the fiber day: should I spend $50 dollars for a very special button? These unbelievable objects of beauty are made by Jodie McDougall. Here is her Etsy shop.
Yarn
I was starting to lose a little steam but pulled it together to get these three skeins of baby alpaca and silk from Lisa Souza. The depth of color and feel of these skeins is just amazing. I plan to make an Exploration Station and am still on the hunt for a cream colored silk/alpaca yarn to go with them.
Shawl Pin
I closed out my shopping with this wonderful saggar shawl pin from LickinFlames. The colors are perfect for that shawl that will eventually be made from the Lisa Souza yarns.
Cards
Here are all the cards. I’m saving them with my shopping scores.

Having shopped to my heart’s content I moved out into the atrium to find a comfy chair to knit in while I waited for my friends from Alta Vida Alpacas to get out of their workshops. It was wonderful. Fellow knitters stopped to ask about my Joker and the Thief shawl, and I talked to many people about the hand knits that they wore. I made new friends. I could feel myself recharging with inspiration¬†and enthusiasm as each new person stopped to knit and/or talk with me. Sometimes it is easy to forget that each one of us solitary crafters are members of a huge community, but Friday afternoon as the community flowed around me I was at home with my peeps. What a wonderful, wonderful experience.

Eventually I caught up with my friends: we ate more hummus than is wise and swapped stories, observations, and revelations from the Yarn Fest.  They had just submitted their first batch of fiber to the mill and we made plans for the yarn that will arrive in a few weeks. The online store launch is right around the corner. It is only a few months to the next summer camp; this year we will focus on weaving.

Finally, long after dark I headed home full of energy and plans. I hugged my new fiber finds as I went into the house. What a great outing. What a wonderful time I had. What a wonderful experience with other people who share my interests.

It is good to be with your peeps.

 

 

 

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Say Hello to my Little Joker…

Actually this is the¬†second The Joker and the Thief shawl by Melanie Berg that I’ve knitted. When I picked the yarn to make the shawl I struggled with the color choices and ended up putting together two color combinations. The first shawl was navy with a bright fushia/gold gradient (that one is mine, mine, mine and has already seen a lot of wear…), and the second one was interesting but probably not the right colors for me. That’s cool. It is Christmas time and I know exactly who I am going to gift this shawl to. I knitted on it like crazy over the last week and tomorrow it will begin winging its way¬†to its new home.

Cat on shawl
What! This Joker wasn’t made for me??

To give MacKenzie credit it was kind of easy for him to get confused about ownership concerning this shawl since he spent most of the time I was knitting it lying on my legs with it draped over him.¬†Such a sweet boy… (Actually not. He gets pretty grumpy if he doesn’t get his way so I mostly go along with his requests. Mostly. Did I mention that he is a big cat?)

Gathered shawl
This is what the shawl fabric looked like before blocking. Yikes! Gathers and cat fur…
Shawl close up
After blocking the fabric opened up and the criss-cross stitch became more showy.
Shawl
and here is the finished product!! I’m pretty sure this shawl will be happy in its new home.

I used a Frabjous Fibers Cheshire Cat gradient pack for the jewel tone colors and added the burgundy color from the stash. It was a little intense settling on the colors by I am happy with the end product. Here all the details on Ravelry.

Almost ready for Christmas. Woohoo! Bring it on, Santa!

 

FO Friday: June Socks, Joker Shawl and Roses!

I’ve been working out in the garden all week except for when the afternoon thunderstorms roll in.¬†Then it is knitting time! I worked on the June 2015 socks all week and got them done yesterday with a few days to spare.

Socks
Ta-daa!!. These are the Petal Socks by Rachel Coopey. Here are the project notes on Ravelry. 
Sock Feet
The colorway of this yarn is called “Thunder”. That turned out to be really appropriate as I knitted the socks to the sounds of thunder, rain, and even the tornado sirens one afternoon.¬†

I am really happy with these socks. The pattern come with complete charts for three different sizes. I made the medium size (66 stitches on size 1.5 needles) and they fit really well (which is something that I always worry a little about in a lace sock). I used double pointed needles in the leg portion of the sock, but switched to two 16″ cable needles as soon as the sock divided to make the heel and that made the lace panel on the top of the foot much easier to manage. The yarn (Becoming Art Cielo) was kind of elastic which I think helped.

I’ve also been making some progress on my second Joker and the Thief shawl. I was not happy with the colors at one point, but I am liking it a little more now that the color pattern is easier to see.

Shawl
It is about at the halfway point now. That bright blue doesn’t stand out that¬†much in the actual shawl. ūüôā

Look what happened in the garden with all of the rain this week!  My Princess Alexandra of Kent rose is blooming! I just love this one.

Rose
This rose sometimes struggles in the dry air of Colorado, but not this year!

That it for the week. The clouds are really rolling in again for our afternoon soaking, so I think it’s time for me to fire up the knitting needles for the afternoon. Orange is the New Black, here I come!

Knitting Updates: Slug Time

Gosh. Life has really been clobbering me lately. My systemic sclerosis (a type of scleroderma) has become more active this month, and as a result I have ¬†been laying around like a slug thinking about the slugs in my garden and posts that I should be writing. (As a special type of irony this is Scleroderma Awareness Month. I’m¬†encouraged to take a pledge to explain about scleroderma to at least one other person. Fabulous. When I feel better I will do that! Post to follow in the near future, or at least before the end of the month.)¬†¬†Predictably I haven’t done anything about the slugs, but I have been collecting pictures and notes for posts. As soon as I start to feel better I will be posting like crazy. ūüôā

I am not, however, feeling too poorly to knit. I mean, let’s be serious here! Knitting is Life!!¬†Since I have been carefully rationing my energy expenditures the last couple of weeks I devoted some time to shopping the yarn stash and getting going on some great projects. Say hello to my new companions while binge watching Netflix (how is it possible that I never watched Orange is the New Black before? If I was incarcerated would they still let me knit? If I sent Piper some cute fingerless mitts would she wear them while fixing electrical equipment? See where my mind goes while I’m living the life of a slug? OK, enough of this. Back to the topic at hand…)

June sock
I got started on the June 2015 sock (Petal Socks by Rachel Coopey). Here are the project notes on Ravelry if you would like more details.
Finished sock.
I finished the first June Sock last night. This is the right sock; the left will have the lace details on the instep reversed so that the finished socks mirror each other.

What can I say about this sock? It was pretty easy to knit. The lace for the legs divided evenly on three needles and the chart had a 6 row repeat, so the pattern was easy to manage.¬†When I got the heel turned I switched to two cable needles which worked really well and kept the lace on the instep (which has more stitches¬†at this point) easy to manage. This sock fits my foot well and is nice and high on my leg which will be welcome warmth this winter. ūüôā The lace pattern doesn’t show well with this yarn, but it is so cute I’m over it.

Joker and Thief Yarn
Yarn to knit the second The Joker and the Thief shawl.

When I originally put together the yarns to knit The Joker and the Thief shawl by Melanie Berg I struggled to make up my mind. I ended up packaging together two sets of yarn. I already finished the first shawl  a few weeks ago and am really happy with it. This week I also cast on and started the second Joker so I could see how the colors look together. What do you guys think?

Shawl.
The start of the second Joker. 

Some of my knitting friends are turning out summer tops like crazy. Every time I go to knitting group on Wednesdays at my favorite yarn shop there is a new top being shown off. I am inspired! I am motivated! I am drowning in knitting projects, but since when did that ever stop me? I found a cute tee in the current Interweave Knits Magazine, located 10 skeins of Linen Jeans yarn by Borroco in my stash, and cast on.

Knitted top.
This is the start of the Clove Hitch Tee by Courtney Cedarholm.

I may not have enough yardage for the sweater as shown, but since it is knit from the top down I figure I can knit until I run out and then cast off. Hey, it’s a plan.

Time to go lay down again. Have a good week knitting everyone.

 

Hello Joker!

It’s done, it’s done, it’s done! OK, this shawl has been going on for weeks. I worried and worried about the colors choices, finally got started knitting a couple of weeks ago, and have been just consumed with knitting on this Joker and the Thief shawl by Melanie Berg for the last 10 days or so. I finally finished the knitting early Monday morning, blocked it yesterday, and today I did the finishing and took it out for pictures.

Cat and shawl.
I first tried to take a picture of Joker on a chair. Nope. My cat MacKenzie just was just not willing to let me do that. He was just positive that this was a new game for him. Here is what it looked like between chomps on the shawl.
Finished shawl.
Knitter’s response to cat action: I tacked the shawl to the wall of the house. Here is the Joker in all it’s cat free glory.

Wow! I am happy, happy, happy with this! I have been wearing it around the house all day and even took a little nap wearing it.  The yarns that I used are Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light and colors from two packs of Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

While working on the Joker I also finished up another shawl (3S Shawl by Amy Meade) that was easy take-along knitting to wear with a new green top that I bought this winter. Here are the Ravelry project notes and finished shawl:

Finished shawl.
Aren’t these colors great? This is Becoming Art’s Theia Fingering in the color New Moon. Merino/cashmere/silk yarn. Yum!

Two shawls finished this month; I’ve been a knitting ball of fire!¬†¬†Actually it¬†has been raining almost every day this month (it has rained 20 of the last 24 days) so it has been cool temperatures¬†and prime knitting weather. My poor yard is suffering as it has been two wet to weed the gardens and to make things worse there was a killing frost two weeks ago that froze all the leaves on two of my trees.

Frost damaged tree.
Here’s the frost damaged ash tree. Poor baby. It’s leaves had been out for only a couple days when the temperatures went into the 20’s overnight.

Today was a good day, however. After getting the pictures of the Joker shawl I took a good look at my sad little tree. There, on the ends of the branches, were new leaf buds and even a few leaves had burst out. Yeah! Looks like the tree may make it after all.

New leaf on tree.
Look! That little green structure at the base of the dead leaf is the new one! Go tree, go! If we don’g get a severe hail storm before the tree can leaf out again there is hope. ūüôā

This afternoon there should be more thunderstorms. That’s OK. I really didn’t want to weed the gardens today anyway. I still have to get the May sock finished and I am running out of month. More knitting!

 

Starlight, a Joker and OMG: Empathy Cards!!

Wow. It has been really, really rainy here. I had three inches of rain in the back yard bucket (my very-low tech rain gauge) before there was a downpour with hail this afternoon. Needless to say I have been making good progress on my knitting this week. Here’s what has been going on.

I got the Sidere Shawl by Hilary Smith Callis finally done and blocked. (Yep. There was another battle with the cats during blocking. This time they totally outdid themselves. One of them THREW UP on the shawl and then tried to bury the mess by raking damp shawl parts over the evidence. I love my cats. I really, really do…) I think that it turned out nice.

Info about the stitch
The shawl used a new stitch to me called Starlight Stitch (Sidere is Latin for starlight) that really made it have strips of interesting texture.
Shawl in Tree
Here is the finished shawl hanging displayed by my ever helpful ash tree. The rows of Starlight stitch open to one side of the asymmetrical shawl. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

As I was finishing up the shawl I realized that it was now May. Time for another sock!! (As one of my New Year’s resolutions this year I have been knitting a new sock each month using a pattern from one of my many, many sock books and some yarn from the stash. So far I have been good and only used yarn from the stash. Notice I haven’t mentioned whether the stash is growing or getting smaller at this point…) Monday I dug through the sock yarn and here is what I settled on for the May 2015 sock:

This sock is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey from hr book CoopKnits Socks. The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock in the colorway Grenadine.
This sock is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey from her book CoopKnits Socks. The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock Yarn in the colorway Grenadine. Since the sock is divided into two distinct halves with different patterns I decided to knit it using two small cable needles instead of  my usual (and beloved) square double pointed needles.

Now that the Sidere Shawl is done I jumped right into knitting the first Joker and the Thief shawl by Melanie Berg. Woohoo!! This one is a keeper for sure, and is lots of fun to knit. Here’s where I am on it right now. The shawl and the sock are knitting up fast, which is a good thing as I have an awful lot of knitting going on.

Joker and the Thief Shawl
The navy yarn is the “Thief”, and the color gradient yarn is the “Joker”. This shawl is fun, fun, fun to knit. The sections of garter stitch are separated by stripes of criss-cross stitches. It is going to be really nice and squishy to wear. Here are the notes on Ravelry if you want the yarn details…

This week has been one of reflection for me as I knitted along in the gloomy rainy days. Tuesday was the anniversary of my mom’s death from ovarian cancer. What a difficult time that was for all of us in the family. Now I am exactly as old as my mom was at that time, and I also am struggling with a serious condition. I’m noticing again some of the things that we dealt with during my mom’s illness: friends and family saying hurtful things, distancing themselves, and trying to make the illness seem trivial. If anything is said at all, it is so superficial or cliche that it reveals a total disengagement. What is up with that? It’s almost as if they are lacking in… empathy.

OMG!! Guess what hit the market this week? Empathy cards! The exact cards that call to the heart of every person struggling with a serious illness, and the life preserver¬†for every person who just doesn’t quite know what to do or say. I can relate to these cards totally!¬†These cards are created by Emily McDowell to fill that huge gap that too many of us are aware of where people of good heart and intentions struggle to acknowledge¬†unhappy truths (some of us will never be old…)¬†as they try to express their concern and support. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Empathy Card
I would love it if someone gave me this card. I would love it even more if that person really would punch someone for me! 

See what I’m talking about?¬†One visitor¬†told my mother that her terminal illness was a “remarkable opportunity” as it gave her the chance to plan the end of her life. I never allowed that person to come visit her again. People who say everything happens for a reason¬†are smugly assuming that somehow your illness was something that you deserved (and they didn’t), or that it will¬†somehow make you a better person. That is just wrong, folks.

Lemon Card
This happened to me! Not nice! 

I bet you want some of these cards too. Here’s¬†Emily McDowell’s blog about these cards and her store where you can buy your own. Emily is a cancer survivor and definitely understands the problem and the need for these simple vehicles to scaffold caring and meaningful communication of support for others dealing with a hard time. I know that people do care. We all need help sometimes to know how to show others how we feel.

So what other empathy cards should there be? I personally am tired of people telling me that they are glad that I’m so much better. (Say what??! I look better right now because I’m between naps and between crisis…) or that they will pray for me (Thanks! I appreciate that! What I really need, however, is someone who is willing to do some grocery shopping for me or even take me to my next major medical testing appointment of the gastroenterology torture chamber variety…)¬†What about the times when people tell you that at least you don’t have __________ (some other disease that sounds worse to them), or ask if you have your will made? There has to be a great card using these comments!

Lots to think about while knitting on a rainy day.