Thursday, February 27, 2003

The trip to the Valley (Chatsworth, actually) was a huge success. We went to Bishop's Yarn Shop. I'd never heard of it until a few weeks ago when a friend told me about it. We got there a little before noon and headed directly for the racks of sale yarns. Lots of really good stuff and marked down to below cost. So much for buying a single skein or a book. I got 12 balls of Sirdar Opium in a medium blue, 10 balls of Gedifra St. Tropez in a soft light olive and 20 balls of Bouton d'Or Tam Tam in a tweed/natural color. Each ball was $2.50. Amazing! The owner, Florence, is a cute, 85 year old woman who prides herself on knowing every bit of yarn she has in the shop and doesn't even use a computer. Had a grand time.

We were supposed to go to another shop but one of the women in our little tour group got a phone call from her adoption agency. She and her husband are going to get their new son tonight, if everything goes as planned. This is the most wonderful news for them. There have been a couple of other times when for whatever reason they did not get the child that had been up for adoption. I haven't heard any more since we dropped her off to wait for her husband. I'm just hoping that nothing changed this time.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

I'm not sure I should even write about this. I know I don't have the world's most exciting life. No trips to Rome or overnights in Paris. Not even a weekend in Daytona. But never the less, I do manage to get out and about a few times a week. But it seems I really don't have much of a life after all.

Last night, in what seemed like an all night event, I dreamed everything as a blog. No pictures, just black text on a grey background. It seemed pretty interesting at the time. But I don't remember anything about what the blog said. I just remember that it was pretty good reading. (Usually when I try to read anything in a dream it wakes me up.) I'm not sure if I need to quit reading or update my dream site so I can get color.

This is probably getting pretty monotonous by now. But it was another crazy, busy day at Skein. A couple of new knitters and several folks returning to knitting after many years of being away from it. Ann Mary handled most of the sales but I did get a few chances to help out. I like working with people who are putting together a new project, especially when they want to mix up the colors and textures. What I don't like is when we don't have enough of the yarn on hand to complete the project. Ann Mary is happy to order but then there's the whole dye lot thing or waiting until a new shipment comes in. Hardly anyone wants to wait to start a new project.

Ann Mary asked me if I could work tomorrow but I already have plans. (I don't usually work on Thursday.) I'm going with some of my students to check out a couple of shops in the Valley. The Happy Hooker (corny, dated name) and Bishop's, neither of which I've ever been to. So maybe I'll just break my no yarn buying regulation and pick up a little something for a hat. Or maybe a book.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

There was snow on the mountains this morning. First time this winter that I've seen that (if you don't count Mt. Baldy way off in the distance). And it continues to be cold tonight. Wearing a hat indoors really helps!

Joanne called last night and cancelled our knitting get together for this evening. She also said she might not be able to make it to Skein for her Tuesday afternoon stint. Since I needed to see Ann Mary to go over some of the Sunday stuff I decided to go over early and see if she needed my help. Well, she wasn't there. Her husband was sitting behind the counter, playing FreeCell. Ann Mary had an appointment with her doctor and wasn't coming in until later. I had a couple of people right away that needed help with their knitting. And sold them a bunch of yarn before they left. Ann Mary came in just as they were leaving. And we stayed busy all day. Very unusual for a Tuesday. I ended up teaching a few people a variety of things but mostly how to bind off loosely. And Joanne didn't come in.

I finished the first half of the front of the Easter vest. (No, I didn't get it done yesterday.) And I've started the second front. I'm very pleased with the short rows and the 3 needle bind off. I love showing this bind off to people who have never heard of it. So I had a chance to do that for a couple of people today. I'm looking for a ribbon or contrast yarn to do a row of single crochet around the neck and fronts of the vest but so far nothing is quite right. No pictures until the weekend because Lisa is using my camera for a special project she's doing.

Monday, February 24, 2003

I just finished another London Beanie. We're having a winter day here so the hat is very handy and it's doing it's job perfectly. Cozy!

I couldn't believe the number of people who came into Skein yesterday. I had four students at once plus several more experienced knitters going at once. I also had to deal with the customers as Ann Mary was away for the day. Her husband ran the register so I didn't have to deal with that.

One student had twisted her stitches on the hat she is making. So that had to be ripped. I don't think she'll twist her stitches ever again. Then someone else had to learn how to decrease and to work on double points. I thought she'd faint before it was all over. And then another brand new knitter had to learn how to bind off. For her it was a piece of cake. I also showed her how to do ribbing and she just got it in nothing flat. (I love it when that happens.) I didn't stop all day. And we sold a lot of yarn. Wish I had had more time to visit with some of the regulars that came in.

So I'm home for the day and getting ready to do some of the chores. And I'm hoping I can finish the major knitting on the Easter vest. But I have to run a couple of errands. Hope I'm back before the rain starts.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Just way too busy to do much real knitting. Skein has been swamped everyday with customers and students. All of which is very good for the shop but not so good for my personal knitting. I've also been busy on the social front so there hasn't been time at home. Maybe tonight.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

I'm always a little apprehensive when I get ready to post a photo. I don't know for sure if it's going to be the right size or if the colors are going to be good enough, etc. But I did get the batteries and took the picture (inside and outside to see which gave me the best color etc.) so I'd better just post it and see what I get.

This is just plain stockinette which I thought would be best for this yarn. I'm making a tuxedo style vest and have finished the back and about half of half of the front. I'm not going to finish by tomorrow, which I had hoped to do. But it will be done in time for spring. I think the colors are very Easter. It's some discontinued yarn from Pinguoin called Menestrel. The fiber is a blend of mohair, wool, viscose and polymid (whatever that is). And I'm using size 11US needles. I don't particularly like mohair as a fiber. I think it's generally too stiff and scratchy, but the yarn was on sale and I think the colors are nice.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Well, if it isn't one thing, it's forty-leven others! Remember, I was going to get some batteries so I could take a picture of my current project that you really want to see, well, I didn't really forget, I just got a little sidetracked because I went to Skein yesterday to say hello to Joanne since we weren't going to be getting together for our regular Tuesday night meeting and she wasn't there and Skein was very busy so I stayed to help Ann Mary and we didn't finish up until after six. So then we went to dinner and had some margaritas and when I got home it was late and by the time I had read all my blogs and emails it was too late to go and get some batteries. So I got some batteries today before going to work at Skein thinking I could take pictures tonight. But then there was this huge class tonight and Ann Mary was afraid that the teacher couldn't handle all those people by herself so she asked me to stay and help and so I did. So then I got home and had a couple of phone calls to deal with and then I made some dinner and and now it's late again and I still haven't taken the picture. And besides, this morning I couldn't sign on to Blogger and tonight I can't get the messages that I know are waiting for me and it's all too much.

Then I find out that Melanie Fallick is leaving Interweave Knits and I'm very unhappy about that. Not that she really knows me or what I think but still it would be nice if things didn't just keep changing all the time, especially when everything else is all cattywampus!

I just hope Blogger doesn't eat this post.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

I just looked out the window and was surprised that there was no snow. There are so many photos on the blogs this morning that it was hard to believe I am not affected. Some really amazing stuff. Look at this.
Snow in the city must really be a pain.

Life right now is a garter stitch scarf using Encore. It seems to just be going on in its monotonous way. There are certain benchmarks that I use to let me know that something has happened. Usually I go to Joanne's on Tuesday night for a knitting and visiting session but we're skipping it tonight because she has some construction/plumbing stuff going on right now and thinks her house will be too much of a mess. I realize this is about as exciting as a dropped stitch but it is a change in my routine. Big deal! So tonight I get to stay in and maybe, guess what, knit or clean house. Mustn't get too excited.

So the vest I started using the discontinued Pinguoin yarn is proceeding as expected. It's only slightly less boring than garter stitch. I hope it will be done by Friday. If I don't forget I will buy some batteries today so I can post a picture tomorrow. If I weren't so indolent I would go to Radio Shack and buy a charger and a couple of sets of batteries. But then I don't really take all that many pictures. I need a new black cartridge for my printer and I have a gift card from Best Buys. Maybe I can get both things there. The possibilities are endless!

Sunday at Skein was another madhouse. There are just some customers that you're not happy to see. And there were three of them all at the same time. And an ongoing student who is dyslexic and has ADD. Try explaining garter stitch in the round! And gauge, forget it. I'm not sure if she really got the concept of how to figure out how many stitches to cast on. However, she does keep trying and is very proud of her accomplishments. And is a good sport about having to rip and start over.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

I think my idea of what a knitted fabric should look like has changed. I've noticed that in some of the newer patterns the gauge called for, and needle size, is larger than what it would have been a few years ago. Last night I cast on to make a gauge swatch in some yarn I got from a bargain basket at one of my local yarn shops. ( The yarn is from Pingouin and in called Menestrel. I have no idea how long ago the yarn was discontinued but the plastic bag it came in is very stiff and brittle.) Anyway, the label stipulated a size 10 US needle and a gauge of 15 stitches and 16 rows per 4 inches.

So my swatch seemed okay, gauge wise. I didn't much care for the stiffness of the swatch but went ahead and wrote a pattern for a vest. After I had started the vest and had worked what should have been three inches I checked my gauge again and found that it had changed significantly. (I hate it when that happens.) I would have needed more yarn than I have to complete the vest and the fabric was even stiffer than it had been in the gauge swatch.

So this morning I made a new swatch on a size 11. I like the way it looks much better than the one from last night. It's much looser and the hand is softer. So I'll recalculate the pattern and start over. Even though I lose some of the time I spent on it I'll be much happier with the knitting and the look of the finished vest. So, it seems, a gauge swatch can tell you more than just whether you have the right number of stitches. Deborah Newton was right.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Let's see, did anything interesting happen today? Not much that I can remember. It didn't rain and it wasn't exactly sunny but still a nice day. Got to Skein about an hour early and started in right away with a couple of new customers. Then I had my almost weekly sock student. (Why would someone make socks with black yarn when they can't see what they're doing in the first place?) We finished the toe decreases on the first sock and she was one stitch short. I wanted to let it go but she insisted on finding the missing stitch. After ripping back to the beginning of the toe decreases it was discovered that there were actually two missing stitches that had apparently never been picked up back at the gusset. So she'll be back next week to do the other sock.

I finally got up to the armhole on the front of my merino sweater. K3/P2 can get really boring but everyone has commented on how great the color is and what nice yarn and the knitting is so perfect. Who am I to deny them? I think I will like wearing the sweater when it's finally done, maybe in a couple of weeks. I made sure I took lots of breaks so my arm didn't get so freaked out. Seems to have worked. Bowling didn't seem to bother me. In fact I had a better night than I've had in several weeks.

We had to unpack the Christmas stockings today. Another new customer who is really on top of her holiday knitting. Ann Mary has been in business for almost four years now. Seems like we get someone new almost every day that just can't believe they haven't seen the shop before. And the usual comment about how there just aren't any knitting shops around. (I know of two that are within 20 minutes of Skein.) But the business continues to grow. The spring yarns are starting to arrive. We're having a hard time getting big needles, all the suppliers seem to have them on back order.

Guess I better go clean up the kitchen and see if I can find something colorful to work on. Or maybe I'll just do a couple of rows on the cabled raglan.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

In spite of, or because of, the heavy rains we had on Tuesday and yesterday Skein was pretty busy. We don't have our own parking lot so there's only street parking or the Shakey's Pizza lot next door. (Shakey's doesn't seem to mind if our customers park there.) Their lot was full yesterday so most everyone had to park on the street. Wading was the only option. Squishy shoes and dripping umbrellas were the uniform of the day. Plus we had two leaks in the ceiling. Neither of them were dripping on the yarn but it was hazardous to watch out for the waste cans and boxes that were set out to catch the water. (We didn't have an extra trash can so Ann Mary lined a cardboard box with a plastic bag and that worked just fine.)

I had a new student that was a referral from someone I taught a couple of weeks ago. She knew how to do the knit stitch and to cast on. So we worked on purling and got started on a hat. She and the lady who sent her in are leaving today for Utah to watch their kids in an ice hockey tournament. They're both taking their knitting with them. I hope they don't drop any stitches. I'll be seeing them again next week, I think. Love new knitters!

I did manage to knit a lot yesterday afternoon. I think I'm getting some kind of repetitive motion problem. This has sort of been building up for the last month or so. The upper part of my right arm has a sharp pain in it sometimes. Last night I felt like something had torn loose and the whole arm felt weak. I'm going bowling tonight so I'll see if there's anything else wrong. (Maybe I can use that as an excuse for my recently poor performance on the lanes.) So I'm taking a couple of days off of knitting, except for when I have to teach something. Rats! this was not supposed to happen.

And so on to Valentine's Day. Ellen has some interesting comments about this latest commercialized day. I'm not against love or gifts and maybe I'd feel differently if there there was anything approaching a SO in my life but really! Christmas seems like enough! Oy, the pressure!

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I got my final subscription copy of Vogue Knitting yesterday. While there are some interesting things in it I don't actually know any 90 pound teen age girls that I will be knitting for. I thought some of the things looked familiar and then I discovered they were linking to the past, early 80s stuff. And the lace pants (weren't they called Capris in the olden days?) are a little too much. A trip to Frederick's may be in order.

Anyway, this is the end of my subscription to Vogue Knitting. I have all the issues for the past 19 years and that's enough. Most of the time I've liked the magazine. Just moving in another direction. Not to mention I have enough UFOs to keep me busy for the next year or so.

There was just an emergency broadcast on the radio. Something about flood conditions in Los Angeles County throughout the day. Well, we did ask for rain! It doesn't seem to be flooding here but there's plenty of water flowing down the streets. I hope everyone is safe. Time to go to Skein.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

It's raining! Finally, it's raining. If the MSN weatherman is correct it will rain for the rest of the week. It will be gloomy but we are so in need of this that I won't mind at all. And it usually means good business at Skein.

I really enjoy working at Skein. The shop itself is so different from most of the others where I've worked or shopped. Ann Mary is very meticulous and is pretty much on top of things. She likes to move the yarns around to keep things looking fresh as well as to find room for new yarns as they come in. A lot of the shops that I've been to have a very cottage or crafty look to them. Skein is always tidy. Not a lot of stuff just sitting around. I think that's one of the reasons that a lot of new customers think there isn't much there until they've spent a little time browsing. When I worked at La Knitterie Parisienne it was always a struggle to find anything. The aisles are narrow, impossible for two people to pass each other. Baskets of miscellaneous yarns sitting on the floor made it even more congested. I never did figure out if there was a pattern to how they organized the shop. Mariposa wasn't as bad but still had more of a random way of displaying their yarns. At Skein, most of the time, everything is put away immediately. Even the stock room is tidy.

We also have a table set aside for customers to browse through patterns and books. Generally we try to get people pointed in the direction they're looking for, baby sweaters, men's sweaters or whatever. At La Knitterie there were several book shelves filled with pattern books and magazines that the customer has to try to leaf through with no place to sit. Then we had to go look for a new copy of the pattern. The stock room was worse than the sales floor in terms or organization. And very little room to find anything. But it did keep the patterns from getting all beaten up. Mariposa didn't have a huge selection of books or patterns but they were kept in magazine holders and were more or less organized by type. Not much room for browsing though.

I also like having a separate table for teaching. I can usually work with three or four people at a time and generally there's enough room for all of them to sit comfortably around the table. We do have a few customers who come in on a regular basis just to visit and they will also sit at this table. If I'm overloaded with students most of these visitors pitch in and help, either directly or by keeping the students entertained while I deal with the others. Some good friendships have come out of this arrangement. La Knitterie was totally different. There was a large table for students and others but it was so crowded and noisy that unless you were persistent and insistant you could get lost. Mariposa had a table too. Usually the owner was sitting there working on her current project. And most of the time there would be one of the other shop employees taking up one of the chairs so there would only be room for one or two other people. I guess it was friendly but I've had people tell me they felt excluded and not welcome. At Skein Ann Mary almost never sits down. If someone needs help with their project she will turn them over to me, unless it's something she can handle in just a couple of minutes. I like this. It really helps establish my credibility and at the same time frees her up to handle the salesfloor.

On busy days, like last Saturday and Sunday, I help with sales. It's pretty easy to do, given the layout of the shop. I can keep an eye on the students and help shoppers at the same time. Even though it gets pretty crazy sometimes. I could never have done this at either of the other two shops. Or not as easily anyway.

So I really enjoy going to Skein. I like being there. I may go by later today, just to hang out. And to see if there's anything new.

Thanks to everyone who sent greeting cards, emails and left comments for my birthday. It was a very pleasant day.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Very busy weekend at Skein. Ann Mary stayed home yesterday because she has a cold or something. Lots of customers as well as folks looking for knitting help. I haven't been doing any knitting for the past few days, except for a hat that I'm making to match the scarf (shop sample) that I just finished. I'll probably find some time later today to work on the cabled raglan.

It's kinda funny that I had the same concern as Erica about announcing my birthday. Well, today is it. In another year I'll be able to qualify for Medicare. I've been wined and dined for most of the weekend and the fun will continue through most of the month. Lisa came over on Friday and we went to dinner. Saturday I went to a concert of the LA Chamber Orchestra and had dinner with a friend. Sunday, some other friends took me to dinner and then to see "Chicago". Got a stack of birthday cards today. Some nice gifts and gift certifcates. So it's been good.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

The fluffy pink Eskimo scarf is done. The pattern calls for two skeins. I only used about 8 yards from the second skein so I have enough left over to make a coordinating hat. Will try to get that started tomorrow. We were pretty busy for most of the day. I did manage to work some on the ribbed merino sweater that I've been picking away at for the past couple of weeks. Not interesting enough to post a picture of. Maybe when it's done.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

This is the kind of day that makes Southern California famous. The sky is so blue and the palm trees are being stirred by a pretty nice breeze (coming out of the East, which is unusual) and the air is so clear that I can actually see the mountains north of Pasadena, a pretty rare occurence. The last I checked the temperature is in the high 60s. Pretty nice stuff. On the down side. The air is so dry that the static electricity is almost lethal. Every time I touch anything it sets off blue sparks. Crackling sounds coming from the laundry I was folding. But there is talk of rain for the weekend. We'll just have to wait and see.

A fairly quiet day at Skein yesterday. I spent most of the afternoon working on the fluffy pink Eskimo scarf. Stockinette probably is faster to knit than cables but it sure doesn't seem like it. I meant to work on my cabled raglan last night but a couple of long phone calls took care of most of my available time. Maybe I'll have time later this afternoon.

Have you seen the newest Interweave Knits? There's a "racoon" jacket in there, designed by Annie. There's a small picture of it on her blog today. Check it out, if you haven't already. I need to find the yarn or a good substitute. I will make this jacket!

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Sometimes I forget that there are people who don't know or care anything about the world of knitting. One of my grad school advisors was very big on the concept of subcultural art. I eventually got my degree in drawing and painting working in an area described as subcultural, i.e., a whole world within the larger world that exists without the knowledge of the larger world. Not like a ghetto but rather an area of common interest that draws a group of people together. There may be some generally agreed upon rules or guidelines that define the group. But generally the subculture itself is the all consuming thing. Knitting is like that for me.

Had an email from a friend yesterday wanting to know if I was going to Stitches West. I'd really like to do this but can't for mostly economic reasons. To just be surrounded by all those people who have the same interests and enthusiasms that I have; to see the huge marketplace of fibers and fiber tools. This has got to be the ultimate groupie extravaganza. Sort of the Mecca of Fiber Artists. And yet there's a whole world of people who don't even know this event is taking place, and probably wouldn't care even if they did know.

Last night was "Knitting with Joanne", my Tuesday night regular get together. There are usually just three of us. But it's a recurring event that I look forward to and thoroughly enjoy. And I spend four days a week working in a knit/yarn shop. When I'm at home I'm surrounded by all my works in progress, boxes and bags of yarn, books and magazines about knitting as well as all the tools of the trade. And then, of course, there are all the knitter blogs that I read everyday.

The danger of living in a subculture is that in one's own mind the subculture becomes the mainstream. Sometimes I'm surprised that not everyone, in fact not many people at all, views knitting as an important activity. I've been known to decline invitations because I really wanted to stay home and knit. Now that I'm retired I don't have much to keep me from indulging myself.

So that's what I'm thinking about today.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

This is kind of an overall view of the cabled raglan pullover. Not as good a photo as I had hoped for. My digital camera is another one of those electronic things that I'm still trying to get control of. I think the batteries might be running low since it kept shutting off while I was taking pictures. I just had time to point and click, no time to check composition etc.

A shot of some of the cables. There are two large cables, one with 17 stitches and a 34 row repeat, the other with 19 stitches and a 30 row repeat. There are a couple of other cables, one that repeats irregularly over 34 rows and the other that repeats over 6 rows. Plus a few filler patterns.

And another shot of the detail of the border pattern. Some of the cables start at the edge and continue through to the shoulder. Others only go part of the way, and some others don't start until after the border is done.

I'm really having a pretty good time working this, partly because it's been a long time since I've done anything so complex. I'm also happy to be using up some yarn from my stash. I think I mentioned earlier that I had had this Candide for about 10 years. I'm hoping it softens a little bit when it's washed.

Not much news for the past couple of days. We were extremely busy again on Sunday. The last customer didn't leave the store until about an hour after closing. Scarves continue to be the hottest item but there has been some movement toward sweaters and tops. Ann Mary is lobbying for some more cold weather and perhaps some rain so maybe we'll be able to move a lot of the winter yarns before the spring stuff starts to arrive. And it was a little cooler today, low 70s. Not exactly chunky weight wool weather.

I've made a lot of progress on the cabled, raglan pullover. (Will try to remember to take a picture tomorrow.) I've started the decreases so it's beginning to look like something. There are so many changes in the various patterns that I can't work too long on it at a time because I get too tensed up. And the Candide is so stiff that it really slows me down. Whine, whine, whine.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Happy New Year, again! Today is Chinese New Year's Day. I asked KC what year it is and got a mini-lecture on the different ways of counting the years. So many years of the current emperor's reign, so many years since the beginning of the People's Republic, so many years since the first republic (about 900 BC) and of course, the regular old western way of counting the years. But I think it's about year 4634. That's just a guess, but I know it's a big number.

This is a very important day because it sets the course for the coming year. More or less. Prosperity and good fortune are high on the list of things that are forshadowed by the events of this day. We should have a good year. Skein was busy all day. I don't think anyone came in who didn't buy something and usually a bunch of something. We gave out chocolate candy (some of it wrapped in gold foil like Spanish doubloons but actually advertising for Jo Sharp yarns). We didn't see many of our Chinese customers. Guess they were all off visiting their most senior relatives. When the non-Chinese customers heard it was New Year's Day they were surprised that Ann Mary would be working. "Well, this is America!" was her reply.

Only a couple of continuing students today. I made a little progress on the Eskimo buttonhole scarf. The fun part is done. The rest is just stockinette. We're getting ready to move some of the winter yarns off the floor to make room for the soon to arrive spring/summer stuff. Ann Mary almost never marks anything down for clearance so we end up with one or two skeins of miscellaneous stuff. It's fun to find a home for these lonely hanks. Managed to place a couple of them today and yesterday. Anyone looking for some heavy weight "Charm"?