Stitches West

Friday I did the one-day quickie version of a trip to Stitches West. It was a bit of a blur.

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Partly it was because I’d had a really long day the day before, so when the alarm went off at 6:00 am, I made a wise decision to not get up right then, and sleep a little more. It would mean missing at least 1/2 of the class that I had signed up for, but I decided that it was better than making a fun day feel like work.

The travel down was a breeze, so fast through usual Bay Area choke points that I realized that in fact it was winter break aka “ski week,” so lot’s of commuters were not there. Made it to the Santa Clara convention center only to realize that the new 49ers home, Levi’s Stadium, is right across the street. Duh!

Having parked, I made it to my class, a color class with Laura Bryant, and fortunately they were on break. I told her I was late, could I still sit in if I didn’t ask for things I missed to be repeated, and she was ok, and a participant was very nice and told me that the seat next to her was open, and caught me up on what had been covered. What a lovely lady!

And while we were doing an exercise with color cards, one other participant recognized me as a water aerobics instructor, she had taken a class that I subbed at the YMCA, with a whole ‘nother group called 90 days to wellness, and she told me that they had such a good time in my class that when they had a choice to repeat a class, they went with water aerobics. Aw.

Laura’s class is fun. If you want to be stretched in your understanding of how color works, this is for you. She goes beyond standard color theory (which you can get from books pretty easily), and I really enjoyed it. And she apparently talked about training your eyes for color  – there’s an online test you can do as often as you want – will have to check it out.

Lunch was with a couple of Bay Area friends that I don’t see, and by serendipity, we saw that we were all headed there on Facebook. Good to catch up.

One change that Stitches made (since I last took an afternoon class), I don’t know when, is to lengthen the lunch break for those with morning and afternoon classes to 2 1/2 hours. I was so grateful, because it meant meandering more during a time of day when I’m fresher, and then when I got out of class for final purchases, the marketplace was pretty calm.

My afternoon class was with Carson Demers on the ergonomics of knitting (his website is ergoknit.com). So, Carson and I had never met me, but I had seen his classes listed for years and never got in to one.  A couple of years ago I was interviewing for an interim pastor job in San Francisco, and Mike, the head of the search committee, saw I was knitter in my bio information and asked me if I knew Carson Demers. Well, of course I did, and told him that I had wanted to take a class for years, that Carson taught at all the knitting conferences and sold out his classes. Well, apparently this story got back to Carson, and Carson and Mike take great delight in telling this story to all their friends about the pastor who thinks Carson is a big deal.

Not knowing any of this, I went up to Carson and kiddingly asked, “Are you a Presbyterian?” and his eyes got big, and then he told me the whole story. We are now besties:

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My final foray into the marketplace involved considerable damage to my credit card, although I think I bought wisely this year – for real projects, not fanciful ideas (except for one thing).

I bought beads to go with some lace yarn that I’m making into a shawl – I’ve got enough for two shawls.

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And then there was all this:

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Yeah, that’s a lot of yarn, except when you consider that I knit 20,000 yards of yarn a year (see how that post will serve me and my stash in the coming years?). There’s some sparkly Anzula yarn in a perfect colorway (that minty green) for me, a very fun rainbow colorway from White Birch Fiber Arts whose motto “Friends don’t let friends craft with insipid yarn” makes me smile, as does the name of this colorway: Nothing says screw you like a rainbow. Peeking out in the back  is a set of Yummy Toes 2-ply in teals to greens to purples. Oh, and a major score at the bag check with 2 boxes of Thin Mints from the Girl Scouts. It’s a miracle I didn’t dive into the cookies right away (pro-tip: keep them in the freezer, it will slow you down).

The biggest by far purchase was for the sweater kit put together by Rosemary Hill (Designs by Romi) and A Verb for Keeping Warm.

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I stopped by to say hello to Romi, and then asked to see the sweater, called  Village Sweater Wrap (not yet on Ravelry) since I had seen the photos online. Mr. Romi is a wonderful assistant as he helped practically forced me try it on (thought I would swallow me, but it doesn’t), and then I was pretty close to buying, and lo! I saw these amazing colorways together, and I realized that my mental list for Stitches had included yarn for a light-weight sweater, and here, before me, was a sweater that looked good on me and a kit with perfect colorways including a shawl pin and pattern (and project bag). Romi’s son is adorably cute and reminded his mom about the project bag being part of the kit. I splurged, and not sorry about it.

Along the way at Stitches, I got to see Erica Hernandez, who has some amazingly good patterns in the Upcoming Madame De Farge Shakespeare book to peek at. She finally got to see the shawl that I test-knit for her). Ken Ledbetter at KCL woods was a fun drop-by, I just love his spindles, and one of the new cool-kids at Stitches West was Yoth Yarns:

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They were making quite a splash. Lovely booth, young dynamic vibe and some great colorways and patterns. One disappointment was I saw that Jennie the Potter was sharing a booth, but there were no mugs when I stopped by midday on Friday. Maybe they sold out, or it wasn’t in the plan. Will have to keep treasuring the one I own!

I won’t talk about the traffic back home, except to say, whew!

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Hearty Yarn

I seem to be in love with yarn that has a bite or crunch to it. Recently, I spun up some more of Benny Fibers Targhee wool in two natural colors:

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and while I was away in New Mexico,IMG_0462

 

I finished up a beret by Woolly Wormhead called Symetrie in the two colors.  I’m kinda amazed I did any knitting at all with this landscape all around. It really lends itself to gradient, variegated and striped yarns. Here’s the pre-blocked hat:

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During blocking in the high desert:

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And post-blocking:

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(rav project page).

And then a lovely pattern from Ysolda showed up in my library and soon after a package at my door with a lovely British wool/alpaca yarn specifically spun for Ysolda’s shawl club this year. If I had that card with me I could tell you exactly what breed of sheep they are (aren’t they cute!).

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It’s woolen spun, which is lovely for a shawl because it is so light and warm. The first pattern is Stac Shoaigh, which is only available to club members at the moment.

Both of these are neither completely smooth and soft, but I am so appreciative of the specific breeds of wool and what they bring to the table. Bring on the hearty wool!

By the way, I will be at Stitches West tomorrow. Ping me on Twitter if you’re there and like to meet up. I’m at @reneerico!

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Into the Wilderness

The reading of the gospel for this Sunday, the first Sunday in Lent, is about Jesus going into the wilderness. This year, that story feels quite real and present. I was in New Mexico last week (if you were following me on Facebook, you saw a lot of posts), at places like this:

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Yeah. I know. It was amazing. I’ll post more later.

One of the places that I stayed was Christ in the Desert Monastery, which is at the end of a 12 mile dirt road. My companions and I were grateful it was dry weather, because it would be easy to get stuck on that road without a 4-wheel drive. On our first evening, after vespers and dinner, it was time for me to walk back to the guest house, about 1/8 – 1/4 of a mile. But there was no moon and it was DARK. As in, can’t see your steps without a light (I had a flashlight). So I walked back, feeling the presence of the night and the dark. I turned off my flashlight a couple of times to enjoy the starts that seemed so many and close.

The glimpses I had of the guest house lights were hope-giving, and truly needed (even though I had done the walk by daylight). When you are in the wilderness, any little sign is important.

Maybe someone in your life is going through a wilderness time, or you are. Let’s be sure to send light to each other so we don’t lose hope in the dark.

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20,000 Yards of Yarn a Year

Log Cabin 9

A really big project

 

Recently, over on the fiber site Ravelry, one of the programmers showed how to figure out your yarn total usage – it’s a little statistic at the bottom of all the project pages. Curious, I scrolled down my main project page to discover my yarn usage total:

139,308 yards. Nope, that is not a typo.

My mind shut down for a minute. Seriously? Rounding it, 140 thousand yards of yarn? Really? Whoa. That is a LOT of yarn. More than 79 miles of yarn, 417,924 feet, and over 5 million inches of yarn.

I checked some of my projects, and it turns out that this might be a little low, because if I was using up scraps early on, I didn’t include the usage in my Ravelry project page. Rounding up a bit, to 150,000 yards (and I think that the real number is even higher), and dividing by the 7.5 years I have been knitting and including projects on Ravelry, that is 20,000 yards of yarn used each year.

Yarn comes in a variety of thicknesses – what are called weights, so I can’t give you a pounds conversion, but let’s be real, I’m not sure that I could lift all this yarn at once. Good thing it comes just in small quantities that I use at a slow (ok, maybe not that slow) a pace.

Some other interesting facts. Here’s a bit of a breakdown on yarn usage.

  • Sweaters: 50,000 yards
  • Shawls: 20,000 yards
  • Socks: 26,000 yards
  • Hats: 7,300 yards
  • Projects for Afghans for Afghans: 30,000 yards

That feels good to see the 30,000 yards for Afghans for Afghans, 20 percent of my knitting to them (at least – I’m not sure I coded all my projects right).

There is a really wonderful upside to all of this: my stash now looks quite reasonable. I am pretty sure that I do not have 20,000 yards in the stash, which means I am a pretty frugal stasher with less than one year’s of knitting yarn to my name!

Now I’m feeling a little anxious, like I might run out of yarn really soon.

Maybe checking that number was not such a good idea.

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FO: iPod Touch Felted Cozy

As it turns out, the iPod Touch Cozy was a very small update on my original iPod Nano cozy pattern. Basically this is the change: instead of casting on 42 stitches with Judy’s Magic Cast On (21 stitches on each needle), I cast on a total of 50 stitches (which, by the way, was a kind of mistake, because I had intended 54 stitches). It totally worked. Here’s the cozy before felting:

 

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Felting: I put into a pillowcase and tied it shut, then washed in cold water with some other clothes into the wash cycle, then pulled it out after repeating the initial agitation (but not the full rinse and spin cycles) and popped into the dryer with a towel until dry (checked it along the way) and it came out a perfect size!

See?

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