Friday, October 31, 2003

Happy Halloween!

Well, I didn't have to spend a lot of time thinking up a title. And happy is the operative word. We got some rain today. I'm not sure if it was enough to have much impact on the wild fires but at least it was a lot cooler. Had to turn on the heat for the first time this season. Nice.

Nothing much to report on the knitting front. Skein was mostly deserted today except for a mini-rush when I first got there at one o'clock.

That's about it. Gonna go hide just in case the are any trick or treaters. Haven't had any for the last thirteen years but your never know.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Thursday wrap

I'm sure glad I had Thursday night knit together to look forward to today. It was a very long, slow one. Don't know what happened. The weather is much cooler and it is the end of October. Less than two months away now. All y'all better get started if you hope to get everything done in time.

I finally finished the current sock project which may be a Christmas gift, so no picture for now. Tomorrow I start the black shawl with poppies for the shop. I am almost 50% done with the poncho. Got quite a bit done on the first sleeve of the cotton sweater. The yarn is a different dye lot but I really can't see any difference in the color. But the yarn itself has the smell of green onions. Weird. Hope that goes away when I wash it.

Knit together was special tonight. Not just because of the pumpkin praline cheese cake. My friend Anita was finally able to join us. We used to knit at Joanne's and I haven't seen her very often since that ended. Maybe a couple of times. I hope she can continue on a regular basis. She brought a couple of projects to work on: the Anny Blatt drop stitch scarf and a fiddly little baby cardigan fro the Rowan baby book.

Carol is making one of those triangular sell fringing shawls. I think it's a K1C2 pattern. Mendy finished up a Nordstrom knock off scarf using a pattern that Ann Mary made. I think she's done about ten of them so far. And, as I said, I worked on the poncho.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Progress on several fronts

Well, she was back today and has made lots of progress on her newest scarf. Still having problems with unintentional additional stitches. So we went over that again. But I can tell she really feels more confident in what she's doing. We had a little talk about her next project and why I'm taking longer to show her new things. She's decided to make a roll brim hat next which I think will be a good step and I'll be there for the increases and dpns. And I now have two bottles of quality merlot and a block of chocolate.

I discovered last night, after finishing the neckband, that I didn't work enough rows on the front of my current sweater. Of course I didn't rip it! Are you kidding? I picked up the first sleeve to knit it down and couldn't get the Sweater Wizard ratio to work out. Then I checked the original pattern again. Even if I had done the correct number of rows the ratio would not have worked. At any rate, I have the correct number of stitches for the sleeves. The shoulder seam will just be a little to the front. Design feature, I'd say.

I worked on the sleeve this morning while I waited for my dentist's office to open. Looks like I'm going to be losing another tooth. That's three in as many months. Eventually I'm going to run out of teeth so this can't last forever. He's suggesting inplants. Just the thought makes me dizzy. Even if I had insurance I don't think I'd do that. I'll just have to learn to talk out of the right side of my mouth and smile crookedly.

The fires in Southern California are still raging. Except for the smell and falling ash I am not touched by them. I do have friends who have family that have been evacuated. I hope the sudden change in the weather helps. Lots cooler today.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

She's happy!

The student who was having such a hard time remembering how to knit came in today. We worked together for most of the afternoon on the fancy yarn scarf. I knew she'd be happy. She was so pleased with herself. It's true that I did most of the cast on and off but other than that she did the knitting on her own.

I didn't know when she started with me what was causing her to have such a problem. Now I know that she has had some severe emotional problems and takes lots of medication. She has agoraphobia and a bi-polar disorder. I spend a lot of time calming her down and encouraging her.

She started another scarf today using some fuzzy yarn. It was hard for her. So I suggested we add another yarn that would make it easier for her to see the stitches. That helped a lot and she was doing quite well by the time she was ready to leave. I've promised her she can try the purl stitch next week. I hope that doesn't sound patronizing. I just think she'll be better off if I don't push her too much. We can always postpone if she's having too much trouble.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Jeans and genes

If this keeps up I'll have to get a whole new, larger wardrobe. I just got home from lunch at Moustache Cafe in Westwood, courtesy of one of my students. And she has at least three more restaurants she believes I should try. And for the past few weeks I've been brought all kinds of snacks and meals plus some wine. This is all good for my budget but not so good for my waistline. Three pairs of jeans this morning have joined the stack of clothes that are now too small. Something's gotta give. It may be a seam.

Skein was packed from start to finish yesterday. Two people from my past showed up. One I hadn't seen in a couple of years, the other one is more like seven or eight years. It's was hard to play catch-up given how busy the shop was but we managed a few words here and there. Almost always a delight when something like this happens.

The three sisters showed up again about half way through the afternoon and brought one of their daughters to learn to knit. They were each having their own problems with dropped stitches and accidental yarn overs. But it all went fairly well. The new knitter did quite well. It seems to me that the younger students have fewer problems than older ones. Or maybe some people just have more crafty genes.

I don't remember having any problems when I taught myself to knit. I learned from a book. It just made sense to me. I'm the only one in my family who can do this or who does anything art or craft related. My mother could sew and I remember her doing some crochet when I was young. But she only did this under duress. So where did it come from? I don't know enough about my family history to know if anyone in prior generations had any interests in this area. I hear more about people learning from their grandmothers than from their mothers. Ann Mary always says it skips a generation. I don't know. Maybe it's all just a fluke.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Falling back

I've given the clocks their semi-annual dusting so now I have the whole day plus one hour to enjoy myself. Going for pancakes and/or waffles at a friend's house this morning and to another friend's for dinner. Oh, and that little three hour stint at Skein this afternoon.

Finished the front of my simple cotton pullover last night and three needled the shoulders together. Was going to pick up for the neckband but decided to play Free Cell for a while and then it was too late. I'll try to pick up the stitches this morning while the light is good. For a ribbed collar I usually work twice the length the pattern calls for and then fold it in half and sew the live stitches down on the inside. I like the extra thick look and I don't usually have any problems with the neck being too tight to pull on easily.

I'll pick up the sleeves and knit down. Still trying to decide if I want to repeat the pattern bands on the sleeves or if I'll just do them plain. The sweater has a modified drop shoulder so I'm not sure exactly where to start the pattern bands to make them line up with the body. Maybe I'll just put one pattern band at the bottom before I do the ribbing but that might be a little too cute. Will have to wait and see.

I bought Vicki Square's Folk Bags. There's not much chance of me actually making anything from it but I liked reading the instructions. I might make Irish Cables and the Sizzling Stripes. While I like a lot of the others I know I'm just not likely to do them. Too lazy.

And I also got Men in Knits by Tara Jon Manning. I wasn't going to buy this one at first but I've used it several times at Skein and finally decided I ought to have it. And since I've been feeling like doing some cable stuff I got a couple of Sirdar pattern books: The Family Book of Denim Knitting and Relax in Aran. Sirdar patterns are not my favorites. I like the end results but I hate it that they only use text. There are no charts or schematics.

Just for good measure I got the Plymouth book For Denim Knits. There are nine designs in this book that can be made in lots of different sizes for men, women and children. Pretty simple stuff but basic is good.

I wasn't going to buy any more books. But sometimes I fall back on my promises to myself.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Dumbing down

Most of the things I've been knitting lately are pretty simple. Shop samples need to encourage people to buy and many of our customers are new or returning knitters who seem to want quick and easy projects. And that's fine. Sales are what keeps the shop going and growing.

There's been some chatter about the dumbing down of knitting. You know, warsh cloths, Darryl Hannah and similar iconoclastic references. Personally I don't think it much matters what a knitter chooses to work on.

I have one student who is so challenged by a single row of knit stitches that each row is a mini-triumph. She desperately wants to knit a scarf with one of the novelty yarns that are so enticing. Every time she comes to the shop, almost every day, she wants to know when she will be ready.

So today, in what may be one of my weakest moments, I told her she could try some of the Trendsetter Genie. (We have a garter stitch pattern that Ann Mary developed for this yarn, 65 stitches on a size 35/19mm needle. It's only seven or eight rows wide.) She was so happy I thought she would cry. So next week we will make the scarf. I will have to check each row to make sure there are no inadvertent yarn overs or dropped stitches. But it will be a beautiful scarf.

And she will feel like she's a knitter. We may not all agree on that but that's not the point. For her, it's going to feel as good as I may feel when I finish something that's very complex. Well, that's the plan anyway.

If you want something less "dumb", check out the Adrienne Vittadini pattern in the lastest Vogue Knitting, pattern number 15. Read the pattern; don't just look at the picture. I'd like to make this but I'll have to have more quiet time than I currently have.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Thursday night knit together

Home at last. I really enjoy this one evening a week when I can sit and knit without the usual distractions of Skein. It's just relaxing! It's different from knitting at home because there are close friends there who are there for the same reason I'm there. Just the company and some mostly gentle conversation. A few good laughs and coffee and cookies.

I managed a few more rows on the poncho. It's more than 40% done now. I haven't worked on it since last week at this time since I'm focusing on a single project at home. And I did get some rows done on that one last night. So my one project at a time rule has three different segments. Home, Skein and knit together. So far I haven't been tempted, well not sorely, to start anything new.

Got my sweat shirt from Blogger yesterday. They sent it as a thank you gift for having subscribed to Blogger Pro. If I have this right, they're no longer charging for this so I guess it was really kind of a refund. Navy blue, hooded and with a big Blogger logo on front. Now if summer would just leave so I can wear it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Getting it right kinda

Long, slow day at Skein but I did have one new student. This one is a winner. She's been trying to remember stuff she learned when she was about five. But when she came to buttonholes she wasn't sure what to do. So she came in for a lesson. We spent about three hours getting her clear about some of the things she was doing. Mostly about how to read a pattern. (Working with a Sirdar pattern can be a challenge. I wish they'd include charts and schematics.)

There were a few things that didn't work quite the way she expected but mostly it was the yarn. She had purchased, the day before, some very textured yarn in two colors. The pattern has seed stitch diamond shapes all over it. She wanted to do the seed stitch in a contrast color but when she realized what that would involve she decided to go with one color. After about four rows she reached the conclusion that the pattern was not going to show up at all. So she changed the yarn to a smooth one and started over. And she learned experientially the value of markers and row counters.

It was so refreshing to have a student that just "got it" right away. I did have a problem with the way she does her purl stitches. She knits continentally and was making her purl stitches through the back of the loop but knitting through the front of the loop. She even understood when I explained how this would twist the stitches. So she's going to knit through the back of the loop. At least for the moment.
I think there may be another way to deal with this but that's all I could come up with right then.

I didn't get much done on my sweater last night. My friend Carol called. Now Carol is a very heart of gold, salt of the earth type of person but when she calls you can kiss a good chunk of the evening goodbye. She's a good friend so I wouldn't think of trying to cut the call short. But after an hour I told her I really needed to go get some dinner.

So another hour goes by and it's almost 10 o'clock. I did manage a couple of rows and a few more this morning. And I finished the seemingly interminable scarf for Skein. I don't know yet what the next shop project will be. I'm not pushing for anything right now since I have holiday knitting that needs to be started.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


Now, in addition to the strikes that are going on all around here, we have the return of summer. It was over 100 today in Arcadia and has been near that for the last few days. Ann Mary said it was supposed to be cooler tomorrow, by about 10 degrees, but that's still way too hot for me.

The heat, however, doesn't seem to be affecting business. Plenty of people getting into their holiday gift making. One of the new knitters (actually they are all sisters) came in today to get more yarn for another wash cloth. So at least one of them is hooked. I had several other students today as well but they were all just there for a little touch up work.

I'm trying to focus on just one project right now. A sweater I started earlier this year. I spent about six hours on it yesterday. The back is done and I'm just past the armhole decreases of the front. Maybe I'll finish that tonight. I'm feeling kind of desperate about all the projects I have going so I'm going to try to just finish things one at a time. This is a whole new approach for me and I don't know how long I'll be able to stick to it. I still have other things that I work on at Skein. Will that scarf ever be finished?

No problems at all with the tooth extraction. I didn't even need an Advil.

One of the other yarn shops in our area is closing. We've suspected this for a while but now they're having their closing sale. So we are seeing lots of knitters and crocheters that we've never seen before. Skein is a little more upscale than some of them are used to. It'll take a while to retrain them.

Monday, October 20, 2003


That's probably overstating it. I just got home from the dentist where I had yet another tooth extracted. I'm still numb so I don't know how I'll feel later. Right now I'm fine except I can't eat anything yet.

Yesterday was a madhouse at Skein. Noisier than a sports bar on a Monday night! I think it was a good day in sales as well as in the teaching department. Had a few people who just needed a little reassurance. Then one of our regular students called and wanted to know if it was all right if she came in. At the time I wasn't really busy so I said sure. What I didn't know was that she was bringing three people with her. None of whom knew how to knit. And she's not experienced enough to get them started. They wanted to learn to make dish/wash cloths. How hard could that be?

One of them couldn't stay but the other two could. They chose yarn that had to be wound first, adding to the confusion that was already going on. Then one decided she'd rather make a top than a dishcloth. It's hard to describe what it feels like to teach two absolute beginners how to cast on, knit and purl and to read a pattern in the space of half an hour. Actually I ended up staying a half hour after closing to get them to a point where they could continue. I think they're all into some other kind of needlecraft so they weren't intimidated, just awkward. The lady who brought them in isn't confident at all and still gets confused between a knit and a purl stitch. She's going to be their only resouce for the next few days. Ann Mary and I had a good laugh over that.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Knitting for food

Me: I've really had a lot of good food this week.
KC: That's good.
Me: Most of it's been provided by other people.
KC: That's even better!

Tonight, after closing the shop, Ann Mary and KC took me to dinner at an Indian restaurant. I think it was named That Indian Place, or something like that. I haven't had Indian food very often so I'm not a good judge of what's good and what's not. Doesn't matter because this was excellent.

I've started the Fiber Trends Peak Performance sock. The Mt. Hood version. This sock takes fiddly to a whole new level. All those M1s and SK2Ps make for slow going but I think I'm beginning to get a feel for them. I'm using some Silja strompegarn (does that mean sock yarn?). I was warned that the yarn is not very much fun to work with. And it does seem to be a little uneven and snags if you're not careful. I only have about two inches done after about three hours. I'm already dreading the second sock.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Just more of the same

Another busy day and more students. Mendy came in for some encourgement on her finishing on a couple of projects. And to add to her stash. Planning ahead to maybe 2007. She's always a delight. And a few of the regulars stopped by to say hello.

I just finished a huge Dim Sum. I know it's supposed to be a lunch time meal but I had pizza for lunch. The Dim Sum was supplied by one of our customers. If this keeps up I'm really going to need that Slim Fast I finally got today.

The pickets at the supermarket next door seem to be enjoying themselves. They've set up a charcoal grill and picnic table. The weather is pretty nice, not quite hot. So I guess for the moment they're comfortable. I heard today that the strike is expected to last until Thanksgiving. I don't know how they predict that but by then the weather should have changed so we'll see how enthusiatic they are by then.

Well, off to do another repeat on the Fiber Trends scarf and to correct my row count on the poncho. Maybe there'll be an update photo tomorrow or Monday.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

All the news that's fit to blog

I just got home from the Thursday night knit together. There were only three of us this time. Renee is away for a few weeks so unless I can recruit a few more people it's going to be quite intimate for a while. Still had a good time even if I did mess up the row count on my poncho again. Only a few hundred stitches to rip in order to find out where I really am. I really should attach my row counter to my knitting. Maybe then I wouldn't forget to turn it.

The new student I wrote about last week, the one who kept forgetting what she was supposed to do next, came back in today. Ann Mary said she'd been in a couple of other times when I wasn't there. She's still having a few problems but has made a lot of progress. Today she learned that Lion Brand Homespun is not a good yarn for someone who's having her problems to knit with. I have to hand it to her though, she's determined and optimistic.

Very busy day again. I had four students working away on their projects. One is trying her hand at a felted bag. She's so funny. Everytime I show her something new she mutters. "Oh, God" or "damn" seem to be her favorite explitives. And she sort of rolls her eyes. The thing is though, she really gets it. She started with a lace pattern afghan but ripped it out after two skeins because she thought the color was too boring, not because she had problems with the stitches. Her first project, which she was doing in an adult ed class, was a garter stitch afghan. I asked her if she finished it and she said "Are you kidding? I gave that thing away, needles and all." I think she's going to be terrific in a very short time. Once she gets used to the prices of quality yarns and decent needles.

Then, late in the day, another new-to-me customer came in. "I'm desperate" she said. Another Christmas stocking disaster in the making. She had messed up the heel shaping. So we fixed that. She had been slipping the stitch for the PSSO but had been passing the stitch after the K1 over the stitch. So then we picked up the stitches for the gusset, using the color she said we were supposed to use. After about six rows of decreasing I discovered that she was using the wrong color. Ripped out the wrong color and started over. While she was doing that I was looking at the photograph of the stocking. "I have some bad news for you," I told her. "You're supposed to be using stockinette and you've used garter stitch."

"You mean it isn't knit every row? I thought it looked kind of funny." Well, it really does. She has a very short, squat snowman and the lettering is undecipherable. "I thought about using the imitation stitch but then I thought it looked okay." (She meant duplicate stitch.) "Well, I did the K2/P2 ribbing right." I don't know what she did but it looked a lot like garter stitch made up of alternating ribs of knit and purl. So she's going to do another stocking for a different relative and then decide if this one looks too bad in comparison. If it does she'll start over. You should have seen her intarsia. Very creative. She took the whole thing pretty well, considering. It's no wonder she didn't remember her last stockings, done 21 years ago, looking like this one. (I checked the pattern and there is no where that it specifically says to use st st.)

Yesterday was also pretty busy. The scarf traffic is picking up at last. A friend drove up from Long Beach to sit and knit for a while. Haven't seen him in several months so it was a good time. He's making his first sweater and is doing quite well. He brought me a copy of the Patons Forever Favorites pattern book that was given away at the Knit Out in Santa Monica last month. Very thoughtful. And there are a few things that I could easily add to my to do list.

And one more thing. This is weird, at least to me. I've noticed over the past few days that whenever I open a particular one of my daily reads I lose my internet connection. Is this possible or coincidental? It happened three days in a row, always with the same blog. So I have deleted it, at least temporarily. I did notice that there was a comment, "Done, but with errors on page". That's some kind of powerful error!

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

That was Tuesday

Last night I went to Southwest Chamber Music"'s first concert of the new season. It was so last century! In fact this whole season is pretty much about 20th century music, especially prior to 1950. Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Chavez and Varese. I used to hate the music from the early part of last century. Now I quite like it. So much of what's being done now sounds like it's written with a movie or TV show in mind.

Oh well. This is a knitting blog. I didn't get much done yesterday at Skein. It was busy! I had to leave early because of the concert. There were three or four people working on stuff when I left. I think they were all on track so I wasn't worried about that. I just think I missed out on some fun people. It was busy all day.

I lost a knitting needle during all the uproar. A new customer, recently returned to knitting, had all her needles spread out on the table. I guess when she gathered them up she just picked up my size 10 bamboo and I didn't notice it was missing until I was leaving. Ann Mary offered to replace it but I'm pretty sure I have some others. I hope when she notices it she will bring it back.

I worked on the second sock for about 20 minutes while waiting to go to the concert. I have a couple more rows to go before I'm sure that I got the starting point correct to make the second match the first. I think next time I will try to match the starting point before I begin.

And I think I need to renew my subscription to Vogue Knitting. Thanks for the notice.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I forgot

Yesterday I said I was going to start blogging in the evenings. I forgot I won't be home tonight because I'm going to a concert in Downtown LA. So I decided I'd postpone the schedule change for a day.

I was planning to take the new MetroGold train. But they're on strike as of last night. I'm a little unsure of what the plans are for meeting up with the person I'm going to the concert with. All I know is that I'm supposed to go to his house if there's a strike. Which there is. But not sure what time I'm supposed to be there.

We also have a supermarket strike going on. I should have gone to the market on Friday but I didn't. I'll just have to brave the pickets and get what I need. There are some markets that are not affected so I guess it's not such a big deal. But I hate going to markets whose floor plans I don't know. But when you're out of Slim Fast you have to sacrifice your pride and ask for help.

So. I did a lot of knitting last night. Spent an hour on the poncho. Then I did my first chain stitch cast on for the Fiber Trends "Falling In Love" scarf. Not sure if I did the cast on exactly like the Vogue knitting book says but I have one pattern repeat completed. And then I got started on the second sock. So not too bad for an evening's work.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Late start

I'm a little late posting today. I decided I'd better do some chores this morning before I got too wrapped up in my daily reads. I think I'm going to switch my reading and writing time to the evening. Seems like when I get home from Skein I don't feel like knitting so I spend most of the time playing Free Cell and answering email. So I think I'll try knitting first thing in the morning. Most of what I work on at Skein if for the shop so not much progress is made on my own things.

I just finished sock one of a new pair. Well, not really new since I've been working on them for a few weeks. So I'll try to cast on for the second sock later today. I'm 30% done with the poncho and may work on that some more later today as well.

I'm on my way to Border's to see if they have any of the new knitting books I've been reading about. And I need to look at a copy of the big Vogue knitting book. Sarah suggested I check out their version of the provisional cast on using crochet. I don't have that book in my library. We do have it at Skein but the shop is closed today. And I want to get started on the scarf tonight.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

No title Sunday

It's a beautiful, sunny day here. It would be perfect for taking pictures outside. I have nothing to take a picture of. I've been working on the plain ol' st st scarf for Skein and on the poncho. They still look pretty much like they did the last time.

I added a couple of scarf patterns to my knitting pattern favorites this morning. Patterns I found via Fillyjonk's Progress. I also printed out the instructions for Bonne Marie's poncho. These patterns are gonna be perfect for using up some odds and ends that have been lolling about in my stash of leftovers. Now to find the time.

It's been busier at Skein the past few days. A couple more new students yesterday. And I have at least two coming in today. It's only a three hour stint so I expect it to go pretty fast.

I bought a pile of Brown Sheep handpaint sock yarn. A couple of their new colors and some solids that I will use for lace patterned socks, if I ever get to it. I tried the crocheted provisional cast on for the first time. Have to do that over as I think I used a hook that was too small. Couldn't get the needle to go through the bumps very well and I tended to end up with split yarn. So maybe tonight I'll try that again. If I don't come home and collapse as I usually do.

I'm off to lunch with some friends at our favorite cheap Chinese restaurant. We haven't been there in a while. They failed the county's health check about a month ago. Now they're back with an "A" rating. They've never done that well before. Usually they're only a "B". At $4.25 for all you can eat Chinese it's hard to resist.

Friday, October 10, 2003

In through the front, run around back...

I had a new student yesterday. That's not big news. I get new students all the time. What made this one memorable was how much trouble she had. I've only had one student who gave up entirely. This one is not going to but I may give up teaching.

I'm pretty sure she has some emotional or psychological problems that are getting in her way. She seemed to blank out in mid stitch and just not be able to remember what she was supposed to do next. Literally! She seemed to do better when she thought I wasn't watching her.

For most people I cover the knit and purl stitch, casting on and casting off during the first session. Sometimes I do less if the student is having trouble. We're still on the knit stitch here. She wants to make one of those things you wear around your neck, with fringes. You mean a scarf? Yes. And I want to make a purse.

While all this was going on, one of my other newer students came in so I could check and correct some of her projects. This lady is having some problems of her own and is beginning to despair of ever getting it "right". I think it did her a lot of good to see someone who was having more difficulty than she was. She was very sweet and encouraging to the new student.

Last night's knit together was a lot of fun. Those three hours go by so fast! I'm still trying to recruit a couple more people. Brought home a bunch of rugula and cake which is a good things since I keep forgetting to buy more Slim Fast. You gotta have something for breakfast.

About an hour after the new student left she called me to find out what she was supposed to do. I tried to describe the steps. Well, I'm on my cell phone so it's kind of hard to do it. Can I come in tomorrow? So that's what I'm looking forward to today.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Plain knitting

Seems like I have very little to say. My knitting life is a little plain right now. Most of what I'm doing is done while I'm at Skein. A sock and some plain ol' stockinette for a scarf. I have things I think I want to do but no energy to get them going.

It's amazing to me that Arnie got elected. No one, absolutely no one, that I talked to yesterday could believe it either. So where did he get all those votes? Certainly not from knitters.

A pleasant surprise yesterday. A young woman I worked with a couple of years ago at La Kntterie Parisienne stopped in to say hello. Even though we didn't work together for very long I think we sort of bonded in our underling status. She's not there anymore either. I hope she'll be able to visit more often. She's going to help me find a new home for my loom and spinning wheel. She's given me some leads on how to sell these things. Anyone else have any ideas?

Tonight is our second knit together at Mendy's. I'm really looking forward to it. Even though I'm around knitters most of the day this time is different. Really good friends and just some relaxed conversation and knitting. I'm taking the poncho to work on and I have a sock in case I get bored with the poncho. And I think I'm going to start a Fiber Trends scarf pattern using some Brown Sheep handpaint sock yarn, if I don't forget to buy the pattern.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Welcome to California

land of the groping governor. What were they thinking? I'm so embarrassed I can't stand it. In this land celebrity is all. It's not for nothing that it's called la-la land.

Well, back to real life. I love to knit with cotton. I think I even prefer it to wool. Well, maybe equally. I like the way it feels and the stitch clarity. So

here's my swatch of the Kaleidoscope cotton yarn. The label says "handpainted by Brown Sheep Company, Inc." although the yarn is actually made in Italy. The colors are a little more subtle and varied than the picture shows. I have 856 yards of this. I think that'll be enough for a simple shell, with maybe a cap sleeve. There's enough of a coppery cast to it that I think it will work well with Lisa's wardrobe. There's enough going on with just the color changes that I don't think I'll mind stockinette. Maybe just a touch of seed stitch around the edges.

And even though it's not much to look at so far, here's the progress on the poncho:

That's 20% of the yarn. There's 196 stitches right now. I haven't figured out how many there will be when I get closer to the bottom. I don't think I really want to know. It's about time to switch to a 29" needle. I think I'd better start looking for an even longer one.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Writing and knitting

One of my favorite daily reads is Pioneer Melissa. I'm almost always motivated by what she writes, and really envious of her style. She's been writing about writing and what she's going through in order to do it.

If it's not stretching the point too much, I see some similarities to my knitting. She talked about postponing her writing until she had the perfect studio. And on another day she writes about just keeping track of her thoughts as they occur, writing them down whenever they occur instead of trying to remember them for later.

And today she wrote about writing as just doing it. Getting it done by doing it, not by thinking about it.

I know there are some people who have studios where they go to do their knitting or whatever. If I had waited for that I'd still be waiting. I could say that my home is my studio, I suppose. I knit in almost every room. I even keep knitting magazines in the bathroom.

And now I'm just starting to realize that when I get startitis I need to give in to it. I always have several projects going. I don't always work on everything everyday but I do keep them moving at whatever pace I can manage. I've been stalling on starting a project with some yarn I got earlier this year. I kept thinking I need to finish something before I start another project. But I was always thinking about that yarn. So I started a swatch. Now I have a record of what the yarn looks like, what it feels like to work with and a better idea of what I will do with it. A record so I won't forget later on.

Knitting doesn't happen if you don't do it. Skills don't improve without practice. The best way to get knitting done is to do it. I don't always have a huge block of time to knit. But I can do it for five minutes maybe. I don't believe it when people tell me they don't have time to knit even though they say they'd like to. Or that they could never do that. Of course you can. But it doesn't happen if you only think about it.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Another Monday

This is my alternate Monday, the one where I don't have anything I have to do. On the other Monday I have to at least get the laundry done. But not this one. The house is still pretty much clean since I did that last week before Lisa came over. So today is all mine! Except for the part about where I have to go to the dentist and see why my bridge is coming off.

I just want to start a lot of new projects. The socks from the new Opal yarn that Emma sent didn't get started yet. Maybe today. And I have some Brown Sheep Handpaint cotton that I want to use for a sideways knit vest. And the socks for Mendy. And I want to see if I can find something in my stash for the Wave and Shell Shawl.

I did finish the shop sample yesterday while I was at Skein. It wasn't a very exciting day student-wise. Just a few people who wanted me to check their gauge and one multidirectional scarf that needed advice on how to start the next triangle. Ann Mary has decided she wants the matching scarf for the top. It's 100 inches of stockinette, 32 stitches per row. I need to go rent some movies.

Progress on the poncho. I'm about done with the second skein so that makes it about 20%. The rows are getting longer but I'm still able to stay awake between increases. Speaking of staying awake. I took a nap when I got home yesterday. When I woke up I was so confused about what day it was. Thought I'd missed going to Skein. Then I thought it was Monday. It wasn't until I saw the sun in the West that I remembered it was still Sunday and everything was okay. Anyway, the poncho is moving along.

I really appreciate all the supportive comments on my "What's it worth?" entry. I think I was still feeling the effects yesterday so that made the day kind of lackluster. But I'm getting through it. Cyber-hugs are a great help.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

What's it worth?

I've been brooding tonight. Something happened today that has me pondering.

A lady came into Skein today and said she wanted some help fixing something she was working on. She said she didn't know we were so close to her home and had always gone to another knit shop that is a few miles south of Skein.

She had a scarf and a washcloth that had some dropped stitches. The yarn was not from Skein. I explained about our lessons and the price. ($15.00 per session) So I fixed her mistakes and we chatted a little bit about nothing in particular. Then she asked me what she owed us. I told her $15.00. "Just for this?" she asked, indicating the two pieces I had fixed. "Well, I have to go out to my car."

So she went out and I kind of figured she wasn't going to come back. But she did and brought the money. Ann Mary began ringing up the transaction as the lady started leaving the shop. "I don't need a receipt" she said. And left.

Now, I know the other shop charges for help. I don't know what their fees are. So that isn't what's bothering me. It's the way she dismissed the work I did for her and the inference that it wasn't worth the $15.00.

I guess it's the same old issue of people undervaluing their knitting and perhaps crafts in general. And she would have paid the same fee regardless of how complicated the repair was. I'm not sure if she was clear about the price. There's no way I can know that. I thought I was specific. But what I think is that she herself doesn't value what she does. Or what I do.

I get paid for what I know, not what I do. Although I do have to be able to do complicated things if the situation calls for it. I think I have been guilty myself of not valuing my knowledge and skill enough.

I don't know why this is preying on my mind but it is. I suspect she won't ever come back. And that may be part of it. Ann Mary frequently hands customers over to me to show them how to do some little thing and sometimes those little things can get pretty involved. But she has decided not to charge if the customer bought the yarn from Skein. That's her perogative as the owner even though I might think the work involved should be chargeable. That's why she pays me.

What's bugging me about this? Do I feel bad because the customer didn't understand what the charge would be and that's making me feel incompetent? Am I angry because she dismissed my work as so easy I shouldn't have charged for it? Is it the bigger issue of valuing myself and what I do as being worth someone else's money?

I don't have a certificate from any organization that verifies I have certain skills. (Maybe I need to look into that.) I do know that I've spent a lot of years learning what I know. I don't think of myself as a professional. There's lots that I don't know but there's lots that I do. I'm good at figuring out things I haven't come across before and at getting people to understand what's needed.

I used to do some production knitting. For very little money. I don't do that anymore. The money isn't enough for the time involved. And I don't need to accept that kind of work anymore. But I learned a lot while I was doing it. Kind of like going to school. If someone wants to pay me $500 to knit a sweater I'd probably do it. But not for the $50 I used to get.

I realize that the money people spend on knitting is generally discretionary whereas money spent at the doctor's or dentist's is not. That doesn't change the fact that they've asked for a service. And that service has a value.

I wonder if the bottom line of all this may be stemming from my own background. I don't think my parents recognized the worth of the arts in people's lives. They had a strong bias toward security and easily identified careers. I think I learned that my own interests were not of equal value to those of, for example, my older brother. So maybe I'm still struggling with that. You'd think after all these years I would have settled that.

Sometimes I just run on too long.

Friday, October 03, 2003

No time at present

Blogger wants me to take a survey. I don't have time right now. I have about two hours to turn my hovel into a home and that's going to take some really quick action. I'm a major procrastinator when it comes to house cleaning.

Last night I went to Mendy's home for the first of the weekly knit togethers. Lots of fun. And plenty of delicious coffee and cookies. And cake and nuts.

I ripped my poncho project back to the collar. I didn't like the way the increases looked. After I did that I tried several different ways to do it and still didn't like them. So now I'm reknitting them just as they were. So I'm back to where I was two days ago.

I have comments to make and emails to compose. They'll just have to wait.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

The bloom is somewhat off the rose.

Going to Skein everyday is beginning to feel a little more like going to work than it used to. Being there six days a week probably has a lot to do with it. And we're getting busier since the weather has cooled off.

When I started hanging out at Skein it was more as a goodwill gesture than anything. Just a couple of days a week. Once I retired and had more time available I began going in four days a week, then five. Now I'm there everyday and I don't ever seem to have any time for myself. Of course, I don't manage my time very well. That would really seem like work!

I don't expect to make any changes immediately. Maybe after the holidays when things slow down a little. Ann Mary is a nice lady and I enjoy working with her. I know she has come to depend on me being there. She frequently tells me how glad she is that I can come in earlier than I used to. But still. It's getting a little repetitious. We'll just wait and see.

We got over the hurdle of the rewritten pattern yesterday. It looks like it's going to work out okay. I've been promised a Napoleon today. If this keeps up I'm going to have to revise my wardrobe. Much larger gauge!

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Hurdles, curdles and turtles

Sometimes I make up a title and then try to fit something in that goes with it. So here goes.

Hurdle. One of my continuing students is pathologically incapable of knitting with the yarn called for in any pattern. She needs to get over this. (Get it?) Everytime she starts a new project, which is often, I end up having to recalculate her pattern. This is not usually a problem as I can use my Sweater Wizard. But this time. Oy! She's doing a pattern with shaping that Sweater Wizard just doesn't recognize. So this morning I'm putting pencil to paper to redo everything, including converting from centimeters to inches and maybe back again.

Curdle. This is a stretch here. I have four creme brulee sitting in my refrigerator. Presented to me as a bribe by the above hurdle inducing student so I would rewrite the pattern overnight for her. I don't think you curdle the milk when you make creme brulee but it's the best I could do.

Turtle. This is easy. Everything I'm working on is proceeding at the celebrated pace of a terrapin. I'm almost done with the Quest yarn shop project. I haven't touched my current sock project in at least five days and my cream colored cotton sweater languishes while I start another even more ambitious project. I am one tenth of the way done with the poncho. Stayed up a little late last night to finish the first 100 gm skein.

There is no sunshine today. I need sunshine to take pictures of the lovely stuff I got yesterday. When you see Royal on the outside of a package you know it's got to be from Emma. Two skeins of Rowan Calmer, an off white and a burgundy, that I'm going to use with the blue ones she sent last spring to make a sorta funky hat, and a skein of Opal with the stipulation that I make myself a pair of socks. Happy to oblige. Wish I had smaller feet. Anyway, maybe later this morning the sun will come out and I'll get a picture for tomorrow's post.