Yarn Adventures

One of the fun things about coming to Fresno is the Sheeper Than Therapy knitting guild that I joined. These gals know their knitting and like to learn – a lot. Now they meet at the church I’m serving:

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and it’s even more convenient for me.

This past weekend we went to St. Anthony’s Retreat Center in Three Rivers (just outside Sequoia National Park) for a weekend of fiber fun, wine, community sharing and delicious meals.

There was knitter swag waiting for in our rooms – notions, cute scissors, a project bag and a yarn container and so much more.


We had an outside teacher, the marvelous Michele Lee Bernstein (aka pdxknitterati) who flew in from Portland to join us.

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Michele worked really hard – she taught four classes over the three days – and hung out with us for the social times as well. She is a lot of fun! Her patterns are simple with a cool twist – so there is something to learn along the way.

First we worked on Log Cabin squares as our appetizer class. They looked pretty good all together!

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Then we were challenged by a class to make Braided Wristers with various incarnation of Latvian braids. I picked some pretty bright colors for mine, but so many were really interesting.

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Then we worked on a project of a poncho called the Tilt Shift Wrap (and one that shorter folks can wear!) with a cool stitch in the middle:

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And finally she taught us some basic photography lessons and a few apps that are helpful, including a Layout app for smartphones that I love:

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Michele’s patterns are definitely worth checking out, and check her her most recent adventure of meeting “The Boss” who actually called her “a dangerous woman”!

Saturday evening we did gift exchange game. I am always fretting about what to bring – is it enough? The right thing? Ack the worry of it all. Luckily, this time I brought something that was “stolen” so it there was at least one person who wanted it. I came away with some Wollmeise yarn and a few more notions (!):

Consider this foreshadowing, as I am off to Europe and will be in a city where there is a Wollmeise store! Woo-hoo!

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A Trip, A Wedding and an FO

Time to catch up on the happenings at Casa del Revknits. This is a post in three parts: The trip, the wedding, and an FO.


The Trip

In late August I had the fortune to travel to the hills of Western North Carolina to teach at an event there – and it was very green! Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on one’s point of view) for my fiber plans, the local yarn store was closed for the week as the owners were on vacation. Good thing I brought projects to work on!

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I was able to visit my friends Aimee and Will that I met through social about 7-8 years ago as the economy was collapsing and we started using this new platform called Twitter! They are renovated a house outside Asheville and I was their first guest – we ate takeout on the porch which has a killer view:

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Toward the end of the event, Hurricane Hermine was threatening and I took an early flight out of Charlotte to make it back in time for a family wedding.


The Wedding

Allison and Eben are delightful couple, and I happen to be related to the bride. They had a smallish wedding in the backyard of a restaurant – and it was charming, full of laughter and tears. I got to preside over the ceremony, and it was such an honor!

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The FO

All along the way on these trips and events, I had my knitting with me. The Fraxinus Cowl by Ysolda Teague is party of her @2016 Ysolda club, and it’s the first one that I just knit the way that she had designed. I loved the Uncommon Thread Posh Fingering yarn in a color way that shifts between green and gray depending on the light,

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and the pattern is fun too! All done and ready for gifting at Christmas.

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Nothing here is promised, not one day

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The title of this post comes from the playwright and actor Lin Manuel’s poem that he read to/about his wife and the shooting in Orlando when he accepted his Tony for Hamilton.

These words have rattled around my head constantly over the weekend. On Friday, I learned that a dear friend’s husband, Mike Oliver, has been diagnosed at age 56 with Parkinson’s disease. He wrote about this experience for the paper he works for. It’s good: you can read it here. The same day, I learned that a colleague that I had just taught with in North Carolina a week before, Ted Hickman,  a gentle giant with a heart of gold, died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 51. He will leave behind a huge number of holes in the Presbyterian Church where he was the moderator of the New York City Presbytery and a lay pastor, and at New York University where he was a medical researcher.

I also did a memorial service Saturday – see the theme here people? Yeah, but it was great. Dorothy Sinclair lived a great life, she got married at the age of 70 to her second husband and found true love. Her whole family looked up to her and she was wise. She had a lot of years, but she used them very well.

As I mentioned to my friend Catherine about her husband’s diagnosis, “This isn’t the script that we would write for our lives.” Nobody wants a degenerative disease; dying at 51 is too soon. The same goes for all those lost on 9/11 15 years ago – lost due to evils beyond their individual lives. I know people who died in the attacks, as well as many, thank goodness, who escaped harm in both DC and New York. All were good people, working regular lives. It sucks.

We don’t get to fully write the script exactly the way we want to. But we do get to live as fully as we can in the one that God gives us.

So especially this weekend I am grateful – grateful to be alive, grateful for the ability to love, however imperfectly I do it, grateful for work that brings meaning, even when it’s hard, grateful to a God that I follow who brings to me grace and light for the journey ahead.

Here’s the end of the poem by Lin Manuel:

When senseless acts of tragedy remind us

That nothing here is promised, not one day.

“This show is proof that history remembers

We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.

“We rise and fall and light from dying embers

Remembrances that hope and love lasts long

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love

Cannot be killed or swept aside,

I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story.

Now fill the world with Music, Love and Pride.

Next post, I’ll review the last trip I just took. It will be lighter, I promise.

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FO: Painted Windows Shawl

Back at Vogue Knitting Live! I bought exactly one skein of yarn by Yarn Love called Marie Antoinette. The colorway is called Unicorn Poop. For whatever reason, the bright colors with a bit of sparkle were what I needed:

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But figuring out how to use this yarn was a little harder. There is SO MUCH going on with this yarn that I wondered how I would use it. And then a pattern seemingly designed just for this Las-Vegas-inspired yarn popped up on Ravelry called Painted Windows. It uses a neutral base color with a brightly-multicolor yarn to maximum effect. So I went to one of the two local yarn stores here in Fresno and found a very neutral sock yarn to pair with it. I’m loving how it came out:

 

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I really like this one, and since I used less than 1/2 the Marie Antoinette skein in the shawl, I can give one away and make another!

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FO: Nesoi Tee

I’ve been in the summer knitting mode, and my major accomplishment has been a new tank top out of a lovely lace weight yarn by Anzula called Breeze – it’s a blend of cotton and silk. The pattern is Nesoi by Miriam Felton (rav link).

The pattern is pretty simple and has just a hair of shaping – and a draped neckline:


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It ended up a bit large, but wearable, and the color is quite good! Project notes here.

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An East Bay Yarn Crawl

A couple of months ago, some of my knitting buddies asked if I would organize a yarn crawl up to the Bay Area for them, since I know (some of the) yarn opportunities there. The answer was a hearty yes!

I immediately knew we had to trim down our area – the Bay Area stretches out quite a bit, so we focused on the East Bay as there are some great diverse places and it’s closest to the Valley. On a bright July Saturday we set out with wish lists and credit cards.

Our first stop was a new-to-me store called A Yarn Less Raveled. Mindy has created a lovely store!

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It’s no surprise that she and Sophie of the now-sadly-closed Bluebird Yarn & Fiber Craft are good friends. So many lovely things to admire, like this sample:

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We all dropped some change with store exclusives and lovely yarn just crying out to us.

Next stop was A Verb for Keeping Warm.

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I have known this store from its primitive beginnings in a very modest art studio set-up for natural dyeing fiber and yarn, and to see it now is pretty amazing. It is a combination dye studio, sewing store, knitting loft and even a tiny bit of spinning left. Unfortunately for knitters, the amount of space devoted to yarn and knitting has decreased. The store does carry yarns hard to find in the valley and generally: Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co, to name a couple, but everything feels squeezed. We looked more than we bought.

It was also time for lunch, and we had tasty things at the Actual Cafe just a couple of doors down from Verb. Yum!

Then we were off to the stop I was most anticipating – for all the years I lived in the Bay Area, I had never gone to Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Oakland.

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It’s really hard to describe this store, but safe to say that lace is a big deal here. Amazing lace insets, heirloom patterns for knitting lace tablecloths, doo-dads of all kinds. I went a little crazy here, buying a lot of things that I know I’ll use, but not when:

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Yes, I really did buy a book called What Would Jesus Craft? Wouldn’t you?

Our final stop of the day was one that I had heard about via the grapevine – a button store that has really limited hours, and we timed our visit perfectly. Exclusive Buttons in Albany is run by a senior lady who knows her buttons – and the crafters flock there. The signage is basic, the store tiny:

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We might have bought a lot of buttons of all kinds for future projects!

With that visit, we were done for the day – a variety of amazing vendors who value craft and curate lovely things for those of us dedicated to making things.

Postscript:

One of our group, Kera, might have forgotten to get all of her yarn out of the yarn acquisition vehicle when we dropped her off. The yarn when on a merry set of adventures, including a pool party and prayer time. I’m sure the yarn appreciated it!

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Summer Knitting and Adventures

 It’s definitely summer, and only took me until the end of June to get the wool sweaters packed away!

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Which makes organizing the light, summery things so much easier!

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I’m working on a summer tank top now, in a beautiful silk-cotton hand dye yarn from Anzula. The pattern is Nesol Tee by Miriam Felton:

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I’m also working on putting together some of Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply mini-skeins for a shawl project TBD. The set I bought were these,

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but I always hesitate, because the lavender is just not my thing. So I think I’ll be switching them out for the teals and blues, which are quite harmonious I think.

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I’ve finished 19 knitted knockers in a couple of sizes and turned them in to my local yarn store.

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I’m also working on a beret to match my cousin Marie’s Twigs and Willows cardigan, but it’s not at a point where a photo is going to be all that exciting.

But it was fun to have her down the last weekend of June to play. We went up to Kings Canyon National Park (and got her senior discount – yay!) for the day. We saw the gigantic sequoia trees,

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and amazing forest (the photo below shows the vast fire damage from last year’s fire) and the Kings River at the bottom of King’s Canyon too.

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Two more National Parks to visit that are almost next door: Sequoia (which is adjacent to King’s Canyon) and Yosemite!

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Final Part

It seems like a long time ago, but here goes for the final part of my vacation last month.

I went to the Bay Area again, and for the first time in years and years, I got to see in person a sister interim pastor, Nancy Martin Vincent! So good to catch up with her and life.

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Then I went to UCSF to see Dr. Fancy-Schmancy and everything is good, I’ll see him in September, hopefully for the last time.

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In the evening, I got to stay with my friends Mary Elyn and Jeff in Oakland, so I didn’t have to trek up to Santa Rosa in the rush-hour traffic. Their garden is a delight!

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The next morning, I went to see my friend Sophie at Bluebird Yarn and Fiber, which sadly is closing because Sophie is off to new adventures and love. (There’ll be a separate post later)

And I squeezed a lunch in with my clergy gal friend Linda, who is now doing all things weaving – and has the inkle loom to prove it. Apparently I gave her the yarn for the project she’s currently working on (no, I don’t remember it at all!)

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So I had had a pretty full day by the time I got to my cousin’s house, but it was great to be able to give her the sweater I’d been working on since Christmas:

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And it mostly fits. A bit big in the shoulders, but oh well! She seemed happy with it.

and a friend of hers, Charlotte, came over because she knits and was having a hard time getting a scarf to felt – she was using the yarn Touch Me! which is a cut rayon with a wool core. But she has a newer side-loading washing machine and it doesn’t really felt well, so we ran it through Marie’s older top-loader a few times, and then finished it off in the dryer, and it worked!

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There was a gathering of knitters at my friend Judy’s and so good to connect with everyone, and I was a complete fail at taking any photos – bad me! I miss them all a lot!

The next day we gathered to celebrate my cousin’s graduation with her Masters of Social Work, which she did in three years while working full time – very impressive. She got a job in the field at the start of her third year, and so is fortunate to go straight into work without having to job hunt. Here she is with her great fiancé Rich, who started his own local veggie farm at the same time. Great couple! Now Rachel (and Rich) can plan the wedding!

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Me, Rachel and Marie (Rachel’s mom)

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Middle Part

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The next part of my trip last month was finishing up the conference, seeing more friends, and heading to a Dodger game.

I got a photo with Franklin Habit, who is such a lovely human being, as well as a great knitting instructor. His class on knitting tessellations made my brain hurt in a good way!

Want to see a tessellation:

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And here’s Franklin – I love that he has a distinctive personal style!

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I had a pre-birthday dinner in Pasadena,

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and the next morning I got together with more friends for brunch at a cafe near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena called Lincoln. It’s a hipster/locavore kind of place and my Parmesan eggs and the bacon were delicious!

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On Monday, I went with my 2nd mom Bonny to one of her favorite eateries, the North Woods Inn which has been there forever, and the decor shows that not much has changed in a while:

That evening, I got to a Dodger game with my friends Bev and Jim, and Allison was able to help with using up a ticket that we had leftover. It was great to see Vin Scully on the screen before the game – it is his last season announcing for the team. Definitely an end to the era.

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Then it was time to return to Fresno for a day or two. And lucky me, the yarn for the next installment from the Ysolda 2016 club arrived!

The yarn is Skein Queen’s Ullvarme – a sport-weight wool which is made from a fiber collected by a company who gathers the wool as a waste product in Sweden. The card says “This wool can contain a blend of Dorsets, Suffolks, Dalasau and some Friesian milk ewes.”

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Aren’t those beautiful colors? Fortunately, Brandy approves of the yarn!

And Izzie wants to make sure that you know that she was around too:

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The Next Part

So, I managed to post on my first day of vacation – And it’s been radio silence on the blog, although you might want to check out my Facebook and Twitter feeds, where there photos posted.

In short, it was great. There were a lot of different parts of it, and like that amazing tasty salad that has many different qualities to it – crunch, imami, sweet, sour, salt – the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.

First, I headed south to “the Southland” (yes, we really do call it that!) where there were friends and family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over a year because of the not traveling thing. I stayed with my second Mom, Bonny, who remembers the day I was born because she lived a door or two down from my parents, and took in my brother while my parents went to the hospital. We had a good time, and hilariously compared our eating-alone habits of grazing rather than eating actual meals. So blessed to have her in my life.

Then after a day I went to check in at Vogue Knitting Live! in Pasadena –

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and headed into LA where I had dinner with my cousin Allison, who now lives there with her fiancé Eben. We ate at a great pizza place called Olio at the Grand Central Market. So yummy! Most importantly I got caught up on the Wedding plans. Oh, and I learned about this place:

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But never got to try it out. Next time!

I saw a couple of LA landmarks on my way back to Bonny’s house, including this one:

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Los Angeles City Hall

Vogue Knitting Live

There is much to like about Vogue Knitting’s events: they have top-notch teachers, the event is very well-organized and they obviously care about the knitting world. The students who came in the classes were all fabulous too. However, in spite of magically talented teachers who I may never get to learn from again, the event was a very down-scaled affair compared to last year. No teacher panels in the marketplace, fewer vendors, and while I loved the relatively small size of the classes, it added to a very empty feeling in the convention center. It was clear that this event was not going to be happening here next year (it looks like they’ll be heading to Florida instead). But there were still lovely things like these incredible art installations in the Marketplace:

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Indeed, I had a great time there – I ducked out on a few things I had signed up for because there were friends and family to see instead. Like my friend Lisa who lived a stone’s throw from me growing up who and hadn’t seen in about 30-odd years. She was also at the event, so we went to lunch in-between our classes, and it was great to catch up!

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I had amazing teachers: Steven Be, Amy Detjen, and Franklin Habit. Amy really does dress in purple hair to toes, and StevenB is really like a rock star and out of the box as one could hope, and Franklin Habit has the gentle habits of a true gentleman and wears his heart on his sleeve. I’ve walked away with a bunch ways to play with yarn that can definitely keep my busy for the next year or so.

Which reminds me that yarn was acquired, although I bought only one skein of yarn. Amazing! But it certainly makes a statement (Yes, it has sparkles).

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The color way name?

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But I also bought another cat pin from Sacred Laughter, because everyone should have at least more than one of hers!

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In the next post, I finish up my travels south with a trip to a hipster café, dinner with great friends, and go to a sportsy-event that brings back my childhood in a strong way. When I return home, yarn magically arrives in my mailbox.

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