Rhinebeck Redux – Part 2

Rhinebeck is more than a marketplace, which is its charm. I happened on a sheep-dogging demo when I wandered in around 12 noon on Sunday


and then met Amy again for lunch. (You should really check out her video blog Hudson Valley Knits.) I got to meet her mother-in-law after lunch, and then I had one of my fan girl moments when Amy Herzog and her trusty sidekick Jackie were only 10 feet away. They are as lovely in person as you would want them to be, and I apologized for not bringing my beta-test Customfit sweater on the trip (needed cardigans for my long journey amid wonky HVAC systems). Amy had read my review of Customfit, (you have checked it out, right?) and we chatted about all the plans – some secret – that they would like to bring to the market. And bless Amy, she got my photo with the two of them:


Stash Enhancements:

I don’t need any yarn really, and the fiber had to really call to me. I managed to buy some yarn from Cephalopod Yarns (Bugga in a really subtle colorway), and on Sunday, another very bright skein for a secret gift at Miss Babs. These are the two skeins:


and then I went by Into the Whirled, and showed Chris (the dyer) my hat and cowl combo that I knit after spinning her lovely BFL.


She was quite interested (no lines at that moment) so I wasn’t pulling her away from customers) and shared what must be a dyer’s dilemma: she only had time to test knit swatches of her beautiful colorways. I might have bought certainly did buy  a couple of more bumps of fiber to spin. But since this was the second fiber festival of the year for me, I held back because I have a lot of fiber to spin!

IMG_1914I also bought a couple of new spindles, and an adjustment to a third. In Abby’s class, we got to choose a student spindle, so I picked up a low-whorl one since I don’t own any, and with Amy, we found an interesting hybrid, a top-whorl Turkish spindle. I know! Amy apparently has been getting a lot of looks with hers, but the price point was good, and I didn’t see a lot of other ones at Rhinebeck. Finally, I got some new arms for the Trindle  I bought two years ago – these are heavier, and are little bronze hearts. Really lovely!


Finally, I left with lovely memories of amazing samples, trees with flaming leaves, and the knowledge of a special time..



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Rhinebeck Redux – Part 1

This year, I was lucky enough (again!) to have a work trip out to the NJ/NY area that ended just before Rhinebeck (aka New York Sheep and Wool) festival began, so I once again had an experience of a lifetime.

As two years ago, I stayed in a house down in Hyde Park, just slightly more sane than actual Rhinebeck, and drove up with better directions and a shorter trip than last time — by at least an hour.

Patsy, my host, was welcoming again, and this time I got the lovely big room with the rocking chair, and queen canopy bed. Very smart choice, and I loved it.

Last time when I went to Rhinebeck it got a little lonely hanging out all day on my own and not knowing anyone, so I put up on the Ravelry board that I was looking to join in dinner with anyone, and Amy of Hudson Valley Knits responded that we could have dinner. Now Amy did more than that, she invited her whole knitting group – the Peekskill Knitting Group to have dinner, as a preview for Rhinebeck (Amy called it the Rhinebeck Rehearsal Dinner!). Amy’s husband is a chef, so she knows good food – we had dinner at Birdsall in downtown Peekskill. A lovely craft beer/ale/cider house and focusing on locally sourced food, we ate in the garden (there were heaters), and had a wonderful evening:


These ladies are a ton of fun! What a nice warm-up to the actual event!

This year, because I had screwed my ankle up, I did not take in the whole adventure the way that I did two years ago – I didn’t make it to the animal barns, I stayed away from a couple of the meet-ups because the hill footage was too much for my right leg. I did, however, get to take a class with Abby Franquemont, in fact, two classes.


They were lovely, and she has an inductive style to teaching classes, so you can think that perhaps she doesn’t know what she’s doing unless you figure it out. I got there early the first day and we chatted about teaching adults, since I’d just finished doing that myself, so I knew what she was up to. I learned to spin on a low whorl spindle, and a couple of new tricks to do long draw in a more ergonomic manner. Plus, we had a young spinner in our midst. Meet Ashley.


She is 10, and the granddaughter of one of the organizers, who brought her and her little sister along to be runners for the classes, but oops, she ended up being a spinner. By the beginning of her second day of spinning, she already had five balls of yarn (!!!) She is spinning tussah silk in this picture – amazing and wonderful.

At the end of the first day, I had bought some stuff, eaten lunch, oh, and bought Clara Parkes new book and gotten her to sign it. More photos and experiences tomorrow, including the stuff I acquired!



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Learning Curves

I’m on a fiber learning curve. Several of them, in fact.

  1. Double-knitting:  this is one color technique that I’ve never done before – and I finally see why folks do it.  I’m working on a scarf (the Mysterious Disappearing Dot scarf pattern by the lovely Lucy Neatby), and although it takes a bit to get the technique perfected, this project is turning into potato-chip knitting.Disappearing Dots scarf
  2. Knit  Companion Software.  This is actually the reason that I’m doing the scarf – I saw a tweet by Lucy Neatby that she is the first designer to have pre-loaded patterns into Knit Companion for the iPad. I received, for $12.50 7 patterns by Lucy, the knit companion software for those patterns, and associated pdfs and videos.  While I had seen this software before, it seemed to me as an experienced knitter to be more work than it was worth – I can read a knitting pattern, use Goodreader with pdf patterns already. Here was an opportunity to try it out with someone else having done the work to load the patterns in (the only sensible use of it for me – your mileage may vary).  I’ll do a review in another post.Beginner singlesLoaner spinning wheel
  3. Spinning on a Wheel.  Yep, I’m trying out spinning thanks to my friend Judy, who is loaning me her Louet S10 wheel to take a class on spinning.  I spent a whole evening not getting the wheel to work, gave up, and thought I’d wait ’til the class.  I was feeling like an idiot even though I was trying to do it with just a short demo by my friend and no class. In the morning that seemed stupid, so I tried again, and figured out how to get the fiber at a rate that sustained the spin, and how to pedal in a way that works (here, I find, my aerobics training comes in handy – moving at a regular beat is something I can do).  I’m now able to sustain spinning a relatively smooth single, and it took about an hour to  get to that point. One coincidence was reading yesterday an article in Entangled magazine about another spindler who learned to spin on a wheel – Rachel Rayner, and she had very similar experiences to my own (including an evening when the she couldn’t get her wheel to spin).  It nice to know that a learning curve is just a learning curve!
  4. SOAR – or the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat – which is an up to one-week adventure in spinning that moves around the country each year.  This year it is at Tahoe City, on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.  I’ll be taking a variety of classes – including Beginning Spinning on a Wheel (with a great teacher), Andean, spinning with camelids and Tahkli spindle spinning (used for short fibers like cotton).  A fiber extravaganza, and I might find myself ordering an electric spinner because the honorariums for teaching at Princeton Seminary and doing a memorial service just about equal the price. I think Calvin would agree that it is the providence of God showing itself, I’m sure of that!  It will be good to be with friends, sister fiberistas, and snowy alpine beauty outside!

That’s plenty of learning curves for October, so I’ll leave it at that. I’ll report back from the SOAR retreat and how my spinning wheel class went.

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Dear Blog:

Forgive me, great blog in the sky.  It has been almost a month since my last post.

Ok, I’m not Roman Catholic, so I don’t know what the next lines should be, but I am so glad that, as far as I know, that blogs do not get mad or sad.  Blog readers might feel a tiny bit neglected, and I am sorry.  There has been a lot happening, with vacation, a 90th birthday, a business trip, and adventure.

We’ll have to do this in spurts to catch up, so first let me say that catching up on my vacation was a wonderful thing for my body.  I am so glad that I went down to Monterey, which is in my experience, one of the most beautiful areas in California.  Now, in winter, this can be an iffy proposition, but I lucked out. See?


I stayed in a lovely Inn called, Old St. Angela Inn in Pacific Grove, which is right next to Monterey, and a little quieter with amazing restaurants. See what a great room I had?


Seriously, between the bed and the chairs by the fireplace, I really didn’t have to leave the room to have a wonderful time (and thanks be to the wonderful gift of the iPad, which makes all of this quite lovely!

Perhaps most importantly, Pacific Grove has a great yarn store called Monarch Knitting.  Seriously, even if you don’t like the ocean, going to the store will be worth your while.  The owner and staff are great, and they got me onto a lovely  Knit-along, (KAL) called Kinetik.

I am not generally a KAL kind of knitter.  Knitting takes a lot of time, unlike, say, sewing, so I want to knit things that will be happy about, and with a KAL, you don’t really know.  But Laura Nelkins is a great designer, and she had a yarn and beads lace KAL planned.  I’d seen the ads on Ravelry, but again, because I’m not a KAL girl, I didn’t sign-up.

But at Monarch Knitting, two of the staff were doing the KAL, and they showed me their swatches and the first clue knit, and I realized that this was likely to turn out to be something that I would like.  Since they are a great yarn store, there was plenty of fingering weight yarn to choose from, and they had the beads too!  So, with a credit card in hand, I got all the materials, and  purchased the KAL.

Honestly, it’s been a while since my knitting skills have been challenged, and it was good to have that happen again.  Lot’s of beads were a new thing for me, and it took a bit of changing up the technique to get things working, but I did manage it.

Here’s a photo of an early part of my project from this pattern:


I also worked on some mittens for my twitter friend Cheryl:

And with that, part 1 of the catch-up postings is done. I still have more to report including

  • how to rock while turning 90 (my mom, Helen, not me)
  • More knitting for Afghans for Afghans
  • Kinetic progress
  • and why my stupid phone is pretty smart.

BTW – I will be at Stitches West next week, just for the day on either Friday or Saturday – anybody else going?Would love to say hi!

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The Foot People

I’m visiting my mom in Southern California for the holidays. Her foot was hurting, so I took her to the podiatrist yesterday, bringing along my toe-up sock project. The nurse commented on it when she came in to get my mom ready, and then the doctor came in. She stopped, looked at the partially knitted sock, and exclaimed, “What is that??
“It’s a sock,” I replied.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hand-knitted sock,” she replied, interested. (This is LA, folks, not such a surprise.)
“They are wonderful to wear.  Very cushy” I said.
She came and looked at it, admiringly.

Later, after we left, it hit me. These are foot people. Of course they were interested in foot covers!

In other news, the toe-up socks are done, and gorgeous, if I might say.  The second of the fancy socks are underway. I am about to do the second dreaded partridge heel in two colors on Size 0 needles.

I’m aware that this is not very positive thinking.

And its rainy, and cold for here. Maybe I’ll wear some hand-knitted socks today!

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A Tale of Two Socks

I’m doing two different socks at the same time.  One is toe-up, a lovely sock yarn called Denali from Pagewood Farms.  Brandy approves mightily of this lovely yarn.

Ribbed Socks1d.JPG

The socks are for my cousin Marie, who showed me a pair of socks I had knit her a few years back (out of 100% wool, before I knew that having some nylon in the yarn makes it last longer) that had a bunch of holes in both socks.  I already knit her a pair for Christmas, but I felt as though another pair was in order for someone who so appreciated my socks that she still wears the holey ones as bed socks.  So, I pulled out Chrissy Gardiner’s Toe-Up book, and started on some ribbed socks — so nice to knit.

I love the heel on this sock!  When I do a heel-flap sock, I’m almost never all that happy with the picked-up stitches for the gusset.  It doesn’t matter if I knit into the back, pick up one or two loops of the stitch.  It just doesn’t feel substantial to me.  Not so with this toe-up version, which is ssk, or p2tog.  It looks neat and tidy, and comes together marvelously at the top, with no messing around to eliminate holes and gaps.  This may become my favorite heel!

Toe Up Socks2a

The other sock is a completely different kettle of fish.  It’s a toe-down, stranded sock on Size 0 needles.  The two colors are being used for almost the whole sock.  I’m doing a new-to-me heel flap – the partidge heel – with two colors on size 0 needles.  Does your head hurt yet?  Yep, so does mine.

I muddled through sock 1, which came out ok, and wearable.   These are destined for Afghans for Afghans, so someone will get probably the fanciest sock ever!

Fancy Socks1a

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Back from the Mountains

I was a lucky girl who got to teach up at Lake Tahoe for the second time this year. The beauty of the place is pretty amazing. This is the view just a couple of steps outside of our meeting room for the week:


Experiencing the storm was pretty cool – the winds blew through the area, swinging the lamps, and blowing through the sealed windows. We had snow up at the tops of the mountains (about 7500 feet), but by the lake (6000 feet) we just had cold crisp weather. By the time we left, the weather was warmer and crystal clear.

I had a great time working with newer pastors, and the whole week was lovely. I could even knit when I wasn’t leading the session, so I’m happy to report that my sweater is done with the knitting, just needs some ends woven in and a good blocking:


I used a tubular bind-off for the sleeves and bottom of the body, but when I applied this to the neck, it came out too tight – I could barely get it over my head. So I took it out, and decided to use the newly-published Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bindoff. It worked perfectly! Brandy approves of the sweater too:


I have lots of leftover yarn, so I think I’ll work on a pair of socks, and maybe a pair of mittens after that.

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The Knitting Teacher

I am back from the Big Easy, and it was awesome. Sometimes the best trips are the ones where you don’t spend months planning, it just comes together and you go with the flow. That was this trip. But I haven’t finished my photos – you can check out the ones I’ve posted to Flickr here.

But onto knitting. I did a bit of teaching when I worked in an in-between part of my life at Marin Fiber Arts, which has sadly closed. I really enjoyed it, but then I was working a whole bunch and didn’t have time for it anymore. Now life is back to less busy, and I’m happy to report that I’ll be teaching some knitting classes at Bluebird Yarn & Fiber in Sausalito in late October and through November. Toe-up socks? Yep. Triangular lace shawls – you’re covered. Very cute stranded baby hats – oh yeah! There are a couple more classes too.

Check out the offerings – there are other way-cool classes at Bluebird as well. Mirto’s crochet classes are tempting me – I did a bit with her at the freebie day she did, and I learned so much~

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Renee’s Excellent Adventure: P/$ R/C B/E T/U

As many of you know the past year has not been a lot of fun.  I’ve been trying to just go through the whole year as best as I could.  Sometimes it was ok, sometimes it was ugly.  Now I feel like I’m slowly coming out of the fog.

One sign:  my trip this weekend.  For those of you who have no idea what those letters and symbols mean, let me decode it for you:  Planet Money Recession Club Big Easy Tweet Up.  It’s a group of us who have been following the NPR Planet Money blog and podcast (what, you haven’t?), who got to twittering (yes, twitter can result in good things) about wanting to go to New Orleans for a weekend, and next thing you know, we have a trip on!  Seven of us will be going, with a few feeling sad that they won’t be part of the fun.

We met over economics, of all things, but we will mostly be having a good time together in a great city that most of us have not been to.  We have not met in person, but we know things about each other that most of our friends have no clue about.  How that translates to real life, we shall see.

My dilemma, of course, is what knitting to bring.  I’m not with knitters, it’s gonna be warm.  I’d like to do some lace, but no lace is speaking at the moment.  Maybe a shawlette for Mom?  Hmmm…

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