Saturday, November 30, 2002

Well, I'm back from my trip to Arizona. Very nice time had by all. Thanksgiving was great. Driving was interesting. High winds kept me bouncing around most of the way. And rain coming back plus the high winds are still with us. My watch cap came in very handy.

I finished a couple of scarves while I was there and am almost finished with my Nordic hat. My sister liked the scarves but said the ladies in her circle do not wear them. She didn't seem to know that those exaggerated scarves are the biggest thing going right now. So I decided to not give them to her. Maybe I'll be able to sell them at Skein.

So in a little over three weeks it will be Christmas. Time to start wrapping and making decisions about who gets what. I wonder if I have time to make a couple of pairs of socks.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

All packed and ready to go. I'm spending Thanksgiving in Arizona with my sister and her husband. We're meeting tomorrow afternoon at Harrah's in Laughlin, NV, for a couple of days of fun and games. (Wonder if that's what the Pilgrims had in mind?) Then on Wednesday we will go to their home in Scottsdale. I'll be back sometime Friday. Hope everyone enjoys the holiday.

Have to go decide, and pack, which projects I'm going to take. I'll need something to do after I lose all my money in Laughlin.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Blogger is acting like me in the morning. Slow, creaky and running in fits and starts. What a way to run a business!

Went to a concert of traditional Chinese music tonight. My 75 year old neighbor plays in the student orchestra at the community college just down the street from where I live. She invited me to come and hear the group. I had been a couple of years ago so I kind of didn't want to go but she is my neighbor, after all. Overall it was pretty amateurish. There was one soloist who played the erhu, two stringed violin, who is a professional and his performance made up for everything else. And the zheng (Chinese long zither) ensemble was pretty good, if you like angels and harps and such. Almost forgot. My neighbor didn't play tonight after all.

I had a student this morning who is duplicating a Christmas stocking that her grandmother made sometime in the '60s. Everything was going okay until she got to the heel. Now, I've never made socks so I didn't really know what to tell her to do. So we grabbed one of the kits we have on display. I told her we would just used the directions in the kit and see what happened. After some adjustments for the different number of stitches we began the heel. Not really understanding what the directions were telling us, we just slavishly followed the pattern. Pretty soon we figured out that we were duplicating the pattern of the original stocking. What luck! If people keep making stockings and socks, and coming to me for help, I may never have to make socks myself.

Well, off to spend a little time with my Nordic hat.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Vogue Knitting, Knitters Magazine, Interweave Knits. What do they have in common, other than the knitting, of course? My guess would be: everyone hates them. Such a flap of agitation has been going on of late just from these three publications. Read the knitting blogs; read the KnitU list. I was a little put off by all of them myself. But I don't usually buy magazines just to make whatever is in them. I like to study the techniques and stitch patterns. I'm not renewing my subscription to any of these publications but not because of perceived lack of content. (I may keep Vogue just because my collection goes back almost to the beginning of its current incarnation and I'd like to see that continue. Kind of silly nostalgia thing, especially since it's not even owned by the same people anymore.) Mostly I'm not renewing because I don't really need any more magazines. I can read the new issues when they come in to Skein and buy the ones that have something in them that I want. And also, I don't have any more room to store them.

Not much progress on anything I'm knitting. I finished the ribbing on my Nordic hat while I read the blogs this morning and have started the design area. I miscalculated the number of stitches so had to adjust that on the first row. Looks okay to me. Think I'll go do a few rows now.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I don't know if that's really true but it works for me right now. Today I was just finishing up the Gedifra Carioca scarf while I was at Skein. A customer came in just to look around, took one look at my scarf and bought the yarn to make one for herself. In and out in less than ten minutes. (2 skeins of Carioca, 2 skeins of Living. Cast on 19 stitches on size 17. Work in K1 P1 until you run out of yarn. The scarf is about 9 inches wide by 48 inches long. Unblocked.)

I stayed for the Wednesday night class because Mary Fulton, the yarn rep for S.R. Kertzer and a close personal friend, was coming to sit in. I haven't seen her for several months so wanted a chance to visit. She brought two large cartons of hand dyed Schaeffer yarns. They were beautiful. Very intense colors. I also worked with a new student from this past weekend. She's already completed one large shawl and is half way through another one. I got her started on her third and fourth ones and sold her the yarn for a fifth one. I don't know what this woman does but obviously she has a lot of time on her hands. And a pretty good credit limit. I love an enthusiastic beginner.

Started another scarf using Plymouth's Paradise and Trendsetter Eyelash. This one is black with flecks of red and olive green. 25 stitches on size 13. Garter stitch 'til you run out. One skein Paradise, two skeins Eyelash. And I'm swatching for a Nordic pattern hat using Maratona in rust and teal. So I'd better get busy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

LA Tour, or should that be la tour since we're going to La Knitterie Parisienne. Taking over the magic bus from Kristi, our intreprid tour director, this is Knitdad (Larry).

Since we're taking a magic bus, we will be able to avoid the traffic congestion on the 134 Freeway and 101 Freeway. But we'll miss seeing ABC/Disney Studios and Forest Lawn Memorial Park, not to mention beautiful Downtown Burbank. La Knitterie Parisienne is located at 12642 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. If you're in the movie or television business Studio City is pretty near the center of the world and Ventura Blvd. is where most of what happens, happens. Trying to avoid all the drivers who have their own agendas we manoeuver our way into the parking lot. LKP is in the Coldwater Curve Shops.( We would normally call this a strip mall but the shops are too chic and the parking is too limited.) The shop opens at 10AM so we're just on time. (Actually we may have to wait a few minutes since Edith and Merrill usually stop at their warehouse on the way.)

If you're the least bit claustrophobic you might want to take a few deep breaths before we go in. Did you notice all the cute kids sweaters in the window as we waited? We enter through a Dutch door and the first thing we see are all the baby yarns, unless UPS has been there, in which case the view will be blocked and access to the baby yarns nearly impossible. The shop is basically two large rooms. The first room has more yarn than most of us have ever seen in one place. And buttons for almost any imaginable project. Space is at a premium. You have to be very careful not to trip on the big baskets sitting on the floor. They're filled with lots of bulky yarn and miscellaneous fibers from seasons past. This is also the room where all the Anny Blatt angora yarns are kept, way up high so you have to ask for help if you want to see them. In the back of the room, past the cashier's desk, are lots of old yarns as well as some "basic" stuff. There are racks of needles and notions.

Merrill, husband of the more famous Edith, runs the money part of the operation from behind a counter that is laden with books and magazines. There's usually a line of people waiting for Merrill to either ring up their purchase or to give them the price of some yarn. Oh yes, nothing is marked with the price. So if you want to know you have to ask.

Squeezing past the waiting people we go into the other room, The Bulky Room. As we enter we see Edith, knitting guru to the stars, holding court with her group of students. The din is amazing as each one tries for attention. In a space designed for maybe eight people there are perhaps twelve, or more if you count all the doggie carriers and occasional upscale stroller. (If you listen closely you might get some pointers on where to get a good massage or what school you should send your kids to.) We nod to Edith and go on into the Bulky Room. This is where it really gets good. The perimeter of the room is literally floor to ceiling yarn. The center gondolas are also full but stop about three feet from the ceiling. Never mind, we can get a ladder. Every new yarn that I've heard of is stacked in this room. Most of it is of the oversize, bulky ilk. Baskets line the fronts of all the shelves holding the latest yarns, or the ones that couldn't be jammed into their own cubbyhole. There's the most complete selection of Trendsetter Eyelash I've ever seen. Shelves of Noro Silk Garden and all their other fine stuff. Mixed in with all this are more of the old yarns.

What's with the old yarns? Be careful what you fall in love with. It may no longer be available. The manufacturer may not even be available anymore. But if you're looking for one or two skeins of a discontinued yarn, give Merrill a call (1-800 2 BUY YARN). He may just have it.

Now, for those of you who are too claustrophobic or whatever, there's Belwood Bakery a couple of doors down. They have all the latest coffee drinks, some beautiful pastries and a killer chicken/rosemary sandwich. Or you could cross the street and perhaps bowl a few games at the Sports Center, where I bowl on Thursday night. Or go a little west and dine at the Sportsman's Lodge. Ventura Blvd. has something for everyone.

I love going to LKP. You just have to be prepared to spend a lot of time. There's an incredible amount to see. They carry all the major brands as well as some of the lesser known ones like Hannah Silks, Prism and Great Adirondack. If you know what you want it's probably best to ask where it is. There's no real rhyme or reason to how yarns are displayed, at least not that I was ever able to figure out. Okay, back on the bus.

We're going to the other extreme, i.e., the other side of LA and to the opposite in yarn shop decor. Just before we get there we'll stop at Paco's for a little lunch. Better than average Mexican and great margaritas. I'll have a Diet Coke myself.

Skein is where I spend my time on weekends and occasionally some other days. Ann Mary Chow, the owner, opened the shop just a little over three years ago. It's been exciting to see it thrive and grow. The interior was designed by her daughter, Desiree, an architecture student at Berkley. When the shop first opened the space was spare beyond belief. Partly because Desiree wanted it that way and partly because Ann Mary started out small. Compared to most other yarn shops Skein is still pretty severe. But, take your time, and you'll discover lots of different yarns from many of the leading manufacturers. And there's always the "I can order for you" line.

I am so familiar with this shop that it's difficult to describe in a very enthusiastic way. The two outer walls hold all the yarn. Ann Mary keeps every yarn neatly stacked. Except for the baby yarn and the Encore display, all the yarns are moved around frequently. It keeps the stock looking new and attracts attention to yarns that might have been overlooked for a while. In the back of the shop, near the register, is a bookshelf holding lots of samples. There's also a shelf of scarves and shawls near the front of the store. When Ann Mary finds a simple to make pattern that works up quickly, she really pushes it. (Currently we're selling a long shawl using Karabella's Gossamer. We can't keep it in stock. And a garter stitch scarf using Berroco's multicolored Chinchilla with matching Glace fringe.)

Skein offers drop in classes, which I teach on weekends and Joanne teaches on Tuesday. There are also two organized classes, one on Wednesday night and another on Thursday morning. There are also lots of patterns and books to choose from. If you make one of the famous scarves you'll get the pattern for free, not that you'd actually need it.

It's been a long day. I hope you enjoyed it. And if you're ever in Arcadia be sure to stop by and say hello. I'm going back to Paco's for one of those margaritas. Be sure to check back for the next episode when Emma will take us to the far away British Isles.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Tonight was LA Chamber Orchestra Night. The soloist was Alicia Weilerstein in Schumann's Cello Concerto in A minor. Fantastic! And an encore of J.S. Bach's Prelude in D (I think). Before the concert I met my friend Ron for dinner at El Morfi, an Argentenian restaurant in Glendale. The menu is mostly Italian but with a twist. The lasagna had a little cinnamon in it. Very nice.

So, about knitting. I finally settled on Gedifra Carioca and Live for a scarf for my sister. The Carioca is really funky, lots of short "tails" protruding from a crinkled center twist yarn. I'm using the multiple blue colorway. I added the Live just to give the fabric a little substance. Using a size 17 and a K1, P1 pattern. So far I like it but will need to buy another skein of each in order to make it long enough to be fashionable. Worked on it at Skein today and sold four skeins to one customer who was so impressed with how it looks.

It's was a little quiet today, especially for a Saturday. Guess everyone went to the beach! It was near 90 today. Not the best time to sell yarn.
Hmmm! this is not a good sign. Blogger is taking it's own sweet time to do anything. Wonder if this is going to make it or die of old age like so many other posts in the past. Oh well, I'm here now so might as well keep going.

Ann Mary was not at Skein today. She finally gave up and acknowledged that she had a bad cold, ever her doctor told her she had a bad cold. So she stayed home and her husband, KC, came in to run the register and handle all the paper work stuff that I don't know anything about. It wasn't incredibly busy, but I stayed on my feet most of the afternoon. I think we had a pretty good day. Pizza for lunch always helps!

I'm always a little shocked when someone asks for a discount. Toward the end of the day we had a new customer who thought she deserved a discount, just for being a new customer. KC just ignored her request and told her the price again. It's not like we're running a swap meet.

Falling behind with my holiday projects. Worked a little on my watch cap tonight. That's about it.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Oy! it's after midnight! What am I doing still up? I've been trying to make some progress on my secret project and have decided after all that I do not like it. So that's one less thing I have to finish for Christmas. I'm not going to rip it just yet. Maybe it'll look better in the morning, but I doubt it.

Another frantic day at Skein. I was planning to stay home on Thursday but will go in for a few hours midday before going to my bowling league. Worked a little on the merino/possum hat and taught a couple of returning knitters how to cast on etc. We tried to get some of the shelves restocked but it just was too busy. Kept going to the back to bring out more stuff as we needed it. I hope tomorrow we can order some more Brown Sheep worsted. This stuff is so popular right now, especially with the felters. Makes great slippers and bags.

I'm also going to change the yarn I got for my sister's scarf. I don't think she's a lime green sort of person. So I'm thinking about what will work with the yarn I already have. I'm glad I have an extra week.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Remember that scarf, the tube one made from fuzzy yarn? Well, it showed up again today. A young woman came into Skein with one and wanted to know if we could teach her how to make them. Turns out she doesn't know anything about knitting and only a little crochet. I think the price of the yarns actually scared her off. But I did get to look a little closer at how it's made. This one had some machine stitching around the ends that made the edges ruffle.

I went to Skein to pick up some yarn for the scarf I'm making for my sister, and some needles etc. It got so busy while I was there that I stayed for the rest of the day. Ann Mary was completely occupied with the register and I just kept schlepping the yarn. What fun! I didn't get much knitting done except for trying out the yarn I bought just to see if it would work. And did a new swatch for a hat that I'm making with the merino/possum. Joanne was there too. She was kept busy with students.

We've been picked up by a yoga group from Eagle Rock. I don't know much about them but I guess the instructor thinks that knitting and yoga are natural partners. So she's been referring members of the class to Skein. Three of them plus the instructor herself were in the shop at various times this afternoon. They were all great to work with. Very adventurous in their yarn and color choices.

I discovered today that Thanksgiving is not next week but is the week after. Who knew? So I'm not going to Arizona next week, but the following.

Monday, November 11, 2002

No response from Blogger to my email request for assistance with my FTP connection. From what I've read this is standard procedure for Blogger. So I'm trying some other options. I think I can use MSN but I'm not sure yet.

Like many of you I am unable to write about some of my current knitting projects. But I have finished a couple of items. I'm still on a hat kick. Finished one last night and am about half way through another one. I'm making a watch cap for myself. I'm using some left over yarn from a sweater I knit about 15 years ago.

Going through my stash of odds and ends I found a bag with two skeins of Berroco Celeste. I think I'm going to use this to make a scarf for my sister. I'm driving to Arizona next week for Thanksgiving so I can take it with me. I need to go to Trader Joe's and see if they have a good deal on wine. TJs in Arizona don't have a very good selection and something about the tax structure there makes it cost a lot more. So I guess I'll try to find some Shiraz for the brother-in-law. They don't even have a computer so I'm going to have some serious withdrawal next week.

My friend Carole came over today and we went to Sonnie's, an eclectic boutique in South Pasadena. Hadn't been is several years. They used to carry mostly "ethnic" clothing but they've switched and have become more main stream but with a tinge of exotic. They had some interesting knitted scarves. Basically long, loosely knitted tubes in some fuzzy yarn. The ends sort of flare out. A customer on Saturday had one that she bought at Nordstroms for ten bucks. These were around forty eight. I think it will cost more like sixty to buy the yarn to make one myself. So guess I won't be doing that, unless Ann Mary supplies the yarn.

Well, I'm going to go cast on another holiday gift. After I have some of the chocolate Ann Mary's sister brought me from Milan.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

And furthermore, my archives are missing. Something else to check on.
Back to the drawing board. There seems to be something wrong with my Blogger information, or something, I can't connect to the ftp site. So I have to check into this. I keep getting the message that the page is unavailable. This is becoming a serious pain in the whatever part you want. There must be an easier, more enjoyable way to spend a Saturday evening. Think I'll go knit for a while.

It was incredibly busy today at Skein. Even though it rained continuously. Ann Mary ran an ad in the local Chinese newspaper which seemed to be the primary source of new people. I'm going to add another afternoon to my schedule starting this week. I'll now be there on Wednesday afternoons in addition to my Friday through Sunday hours.

Friday, November 08, 2002

This is one of those days when my anxiety level is so high I can hardly sit still. And I have no idea why. It's probably because I installed the new MSN 8 yesterday and almost everything on my screen has been rearranged and renamed or some such foolishness. I was totally comfortable with everything the way it was. The new screens are so busy and the point sizes are so small! Plus all my favorites have been switched around so I'm having a hard time telling where I am in my daily reading routine. I'm sure I'll get used to it, just like I did the previous version but for now it makes me feel like a beginner all over again.

Going to work at Skein today. I haven't been there all week. Too many other things to do. So I'm looking forward to that. Lisa is coming over tonight. We're going to work on posting some photos here. Thanks Teresa! I hope it works this time.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Well, we got a little rain, not much, just enough to make the freeways worse than usual during rush hour. More is promised for tomorrow and through the weekend. Good knitting weather, as has been said.

Not much on the knitting front. I finished my hat last night and started another one this morning. I spent most of the day cleaning and generally taking care of stuff I have neglected for the last few weeks. Had to move a lot of yarn around to get to every little corner. I really need more storage, and to finish some of the projects.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

A beautiful day outside. Lots of sunshine for a change. Who would believe it's supposed to rain tomorrow? Since I got this info from my MSN weather page it's probably wrong. That's what happened last week anyway.

I went back to Elegance yesterday to see what Ashley has in mind for knitting classes. I don't have a clear picture of what she's planning, and frankly, I don't think she does either. So whether or not that happens is still to be determined. She's made some progress in getting the shop organized but still has a lot of work to do. Her two previous shops have been very nice. She uses nice, comfortable chairs and some sorta chunky furniture. Lots of books and yarn just spread around everywhere. It feels like being in an interior designer's showroom. The building she's in is from the 1920s and is supposedly an historical site. Green Street is an older section of Pasadena. I really like the ambience of the area. (On the rare occasions that I actually get out for a walk, it's one of the places I like to go.) Parking is a bit of a problem but committed knitters can deal with that.

I'm studiously avoiding doing any of the household chores I told myself I would do today. Have spent the last four hours reading blogs, answering email and drinking coffee. I see that nothing has been taken care of so I guess I'm going to have to go do it myself. Working on a mindless hat as I read. I decided not to include any Fairisle patterning because I'm using a tweed yarn and I don't have anything that really works with it. I'm getting a callus on my right hand forefinger from using it to push the left hand needle back when I slide the stitch off. I think this is a good thing since this particular circular is very sharp.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Today was drudgery day. Took most of the day to catch up on laundry. But I did get a little knitting in between loads.

I'm on such a hat kick. I'm trying to use up a lot of old, one of a kind, skeins of yarn. Most of it is worsted weight wool. I adapted a flat pattern to "in the round" but I have to chart it out. There's a problem with the decreases and I'm not quite sure why. Started another hat today that I think I'm going to add some Fairisle patterns to, just to practice my two-handed knitting. I worked on making cables without a cable needle on the hat I made yesterday. Not sure this technique is all that much faster than using a cable needle but it may come in handy some day.

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Today was the day for our annual trek to the Southern California Handweavers' Guild Weaving and Spinning Festival. Joanne and I have gone to this event for the last five years or so. Unfortunately, each year it gets smaller and smaller. But it's usually worth going to see. There weren't as many vendors as in the past, but I managed to find some stuff I didn't even know I needed. After looking at the small display of member-created items I stopped at Robin and Russ to see if they had brought any Galway with them this time, but they hadn't. So I got three spools of a gold/red combination metallic yarn to use as a carry along yarn for some undetermined project.

Next, I went to Newton's Yarn Country. (Their web page doesn't seem to be working right now but while looking for it I found this list of lots of yarn related vendors.) I got a couple of bags of Baruffa Monkey. It's a really shaggy yarn that I think will make a fun cardigan or Chanel type jacket. They didn't have as much stuff this time as in the past, either. And some of what they had was priced higher that Skein has it at retail. So even though they were offering a 30% discount most of what they had wasn't such a good deal. After I hooked up with Joanne a little later I went back to Newton's with her and found a good deal on seven skeins of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride and five skeins of Nature Spun, both in orange. These were less than half price.

I stopped at the Wildfiber booth and talked to Mel for a short time. She told me they have expanded their knitting yarn section since I was there in August and that it's about taken over the store. Have to get back over there soon.

I didn't find anything else that I really wanted. They had lots of books on knitting, weaving and spinning but they were all at full retail so I decided that Amazon would be better. Plus I already have most of what was on offer, well, the knitting books anyway.

After I dropped Joanne off I made it to Skein just in time for opening. We were busy all afternoon. I think everyone in So. Calif. is going to get a scarf for Christmas. Some very colorful and exciting, some very safe and predictable. And babies just keep coming, so there are plenty of afghans being knit. Saturday was as busy. I love helping people spend their money. I get to create all kind of color and texture combinations and not have to do the work. Although I sometimes come up with something that I think I really have to do myself. I'm mulling over a hat or scarf combining some Berroco Hip Hop in a purple/green combo with some Furz, also from Berroco, in a washed out purple. I wanted to add some Trendsetter Aura in lime green, but we sold out.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Saturday. The day I work 8 hours at Skein. This one is going to be rough because I haven't had enough sleep. Stayed up until about 2:15 finishing the cap pattern I tested for a lister in London. It wasn't difficult but there were a couple of things I thought should be revised. So after I finished knitting it I wrote a long email explaining the problems I encountered. Haven't heard back.

I used some old Rowan Magpie that I had in my stash. I found that moths have invaded this yarn. So now I'm concerned that I'll find similar problems with my other wool yarns. I don't have time right now to go through my stash and check this out but I'll try to get started sometime next week.

The new yarn shop, Elegance, could turn out to be very nice. She's carrying only the very top lines. Trendsetter, Anny Blatt, Lang and a few more that I didn't have much time to look at. She's still not really ready for business. Some of her shelving has not arrived so lots of stuff is still in plastic bags or cardboard boxes. The shop is in one of the most expensive areas of Pasadena. She's gonna need to push a lot of yarn just to pay the rent. And she has some strange hours. Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 11-7. Other hours are available by appointment. She also asked me to consider giving some classes. This could be interesting. Not sure if Ann Mary will have a problem with me working in another yarn shop so close to her location. But I'm going back on Tuesday to talk some more.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Happy November! Halloween is the start of the holiday season for me. I usually have my first listen to Handel's Messiah on this date. Will do that tonight after I get home from Skein. Now it's time to really get serious about my holiday knitting.

I just agreed to test knit a "London Beanie" for someone on one of my lists. I think I even have the yarn specified in the pattern. He says it only takes an hour to knit. It'll take me longer than that to find a size 7 circular needle. There must be one here somewhere. Anyway, if this works, and it should, I'll have another gift ready to go. Just need to find someone who needs a beanie.

I'm off to check out the new yarn store.