Friday, January 31, 2003

I'm just not getting much knitting done these days. About the only time I really knit is when I'm at Skein. I've been pretty busy there recently so haven't been able to do much. I did finish the hat for Doris. I think she'll pick it up tomorrow or Sunday. I haven't touched the cabled raglan for several days. I need to work on a shop sample for a little while tonight. If I can stay awake.

I was contacted by someone who reads my blog asking if I would help her through her first major knitting project. She's making an Alice Starmore sweater named Inishmaan. I have the book and have gone over the pattern. I am trying to decide if I want to actually make this sweater myself. I think it would be fun to do. (There seem to be a lot of knit-a-longs going on these days.) Once the yarn is decided on I'll see if it's something I have or if I can get it somewhere around here.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

I had seen the word long before I found out what it really meant. The first blog I ever read was Ivete's.. (She had a different address in those days.) The first blogger to notice and post about my blog was Deb. Since those early days, a year or so ago, I've added and read lots and lots of blogs, mostly from other knitters. There have been others that aren't knitting related; some I've kept, some I've discontinued reading for various reasons. But I've kept all the knitter blogs that I have found and added to my list, sometimes daily. Here's one of the newest ones, Chris Knits.

So anyway, one of the things I've noticed is that there are several categories that all these blogs fall into. Some are short and usually just include a note or two about current projects. Some are expansive and include thoughts and comments about knitting in general. Others are witty and entertaining. And some are tongue-in-cheek bitchy. (I won't cite any for fear of recriminations. These are just my own reactions to them anyway.) But I do want to point one out that I truly enjoy, not just because it's funny and expansive and entertaining and informative. But it always makes me think. Joe's blog. Today he wrote about his choices for UberKnit designers and why he selected them. He also had a nomination for a new member of the elect.

After I read his post I got to thinking about designers that have influenced me or have challenged me. One of his "greats" is Kaffe Fassett. I have to say that Kaffe Fassett is directly responsible for me being where I am today. I had been a knitting dabbler for several years, just an occasional sweater, nothing really heavy. An artist friend of mine gave me Glorious Knits, his first book, for Christmas the year it came on the market. (When was that? Sometime in the mid '80s I think.) I was so excited, not just because of the fantastic colors and designs, but because here was a man knitting and having something worthwhile to say.

I've never made one of his designs. I did meet him once and spent a couple of hours chatting with him. (I have the impression that he is very low key and unassuming. Pleasant to be with.) I bought several more of his books as they came on the market. But none of them had the same impact as that first one. Glorious Needlepoint came close though.

Not too long after I got the first book, the same friend took me to a shop in South Pasadena where we met a lady who was knitting sweaters for sale in the shop. My friend told her that I was a knitter. Long story short. I started making sweaters for her. I learned a lot doing this. I made sweaters that I had to write the patterns for. I discovered Anny Blatt and Trendsetter yarns. Lots of stuff.

I once tried to read Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears and couldn't stand it. Never finished it. I hear lots of people praising her. And she probably deserves her spot in the upper eschelon of knitting greats. Don't really know. And although I have several books by Alice Starmore, I've never made one of her sweaters. (That's about to change.) I think she has a marvelous facility with pattern stitch combinations and color. Personally I think she's the result of some shrewd marketing. But that's good, too. I think Deborah Newton and Norah Gaughan are better designers. But I digress.

What I really wanted to say was how much I get out of reading, not just Joe's blog, but all of yours. Thanks.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Not much out of the ordinary happened today. Spent the morning reading blogs and went to Skein in the afternoon. Not a very busy day. I did have one continuing student. She just finished her first scarf and is now making a hat. Taught her the long tail cast on.

We got a new yarn from S.R. Kertzer/Stylecraft called Eskimo. It's another fuzzy, eyelash type yarn. Not very long eyelashes. I'm making a buttonhole scarf as a shop sample. The yarn is easy to work with, even on the size 6US. We only got three colors: a pretty, lavender cast pink, a dark lavender and black. The continuing student is using the black run with a strand of black Encore to make her hat.

This is all too exciting for me. I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

I decided to go to Skein today, partly because I thought it might be busy and partly so I wouldn't spend all day on the computer. It was a good decision on both accounts. It doesn't take very many customers sometimes to have a really good day, if they're the right ones. And we had several of those today, plus a few more moderate spenders.

Joanne teaches at Skein on Tuesdays so I don't usually go in but I decided to stay home tonight instead of going to her house for our weekly knit get together. Thought we could just do our visiting at Skein. There really wasn't time since she had two practically brand new knitters going at the same time. Unfortunately she got them mixed up and had one making a small who was actually making a large and vice versa.

I took my merino sweater to work on and got about eighteen rows done. I'm using two strands and keep missing one of the strands. So that slows me down, having to go back and pick up the missing strand. So far I've only had to go into the previous row. I hope I don't find any places that are several rows back or I'd have to rip. No way! I spent a couple of hours on the cabled raglan tonight. Only got eight rows done. Last night I found a cable that I had crossed the wrong way. For the first time ever I dropped the stitches back down and corrected the cable and worked the stitches back up. It did take me a couple of tries but it looks just fine now. Old dog, new tricks.

Monday, January 27, 2003

You'd think that not being in San Diego I would not be affected by the Super Bowl crowd. Not so. Went to my friend Robert's last night for dinner. He lives in an area that has lots of apartments and condos. But, even so, I don't usually have much trouble finding a parking space. Last night I drove around for 20 to 30 minutes before I found a space, about 4 blocks from where he lives. So I'm just guessing but I think everyone was having a Super Bowl party. We didn't watch any of the game. The yelling from his next door neighbors kept us pretty much informed with what was going on. After the game was over I went and moved my car to a space right in front of Robert's house. Last year it only took about five minutes to find a place. Next year I'm not going.

This is the Mellow Yellow sweater I made last summer. (There are words to describe its quality but let's just say it's inadequate. I've been trying to crop the photo and to change the size but haven't figured out how to do it.) I used a cotton/acrylic yarn called Wellness from, I think, Gedifra. Basically it's stockinette with a lace insert panel that I picked out of Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Stitches, not sure if it was I or II. I used my Sweater Wizard to create the pattern schematic etc.

A pretty decent day at Skein yesterday. I spent some time showing one customer how to do a knitted cast on. Ann Mary likes this cast on for scarves and shawls. She thinks it's looser than the long tail cast on. I don't agree but since she's the boss that's the one I show whenever she asks me to get someone started. I think the knitted cast on is less flexible and you have to deliberately work loosely so you might as well use the long tail cast on. We also add an extra stitch on the bind off to keep that edge loose. I prefer to go up a needle size if I'm concerned about binding off too tightly.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Among the gifts I got for Christmas was a basket filled with packages of gourmet dried beans. So far I've cooked the Cuban black beans and the flagelottes. Today I'm cooking falcon beans. I've never heard of these beans before. They're really tiny, like minature beans. I have no idea what they're used for, probably they're supposed to be in soup or something like that. They should be ready in time for me to try them before I go to Skein for the afternoon.

We were fairly busy yesterday. Carole brought me a big stack of old knitting magazines and pubs. I've only glanced through most of them. Can't believe how skinny the models were back in the '60s. Or how they could hold up those humongous hairdos. And everything was so close fitting. Even the men's patterns are tight. Some of the books are more recent, like late '80s. How can things get dated so soon? I'll have to check back in about 10 years to see how today's stuff is holding up.

Anyway, as I was saying, we were pretty busy at Skein. Just a steady stream instead of the mad crush we sometimes get. Several people came in to show off their finished projects or to get a little help with finishing them. The knitting teacher from one of the nearby yarn shops came in to see if we had a particular yarn that she needed for her class. We don't carry that brand. I think she was a little overwhelmed with what we do carry. It's all pretty upscale. And a new customer, a handbag designer, gave me some information on where to buy finishing supplies, like handles and fastenings. That will be helpful. Ann Mary wants to make some knitted handbags as samples for the shop.

I cast on and worked about 18 rows of the front of my merino sweater. Will work on that some more today. Wonder if we'll see many people who are avoiding the Super Bowl.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Nothing can disturb my wah* more quickly than having my electronic commumications messed up. I am so ticked that my email isn't working. I have read all the messages that I got yesterday but can't delete them. I don't seem to be receiving any new emails. I've tried to reach MSN but since it's email that doesn't work. I do have a message that says "Account temporaily unavailable". But what's that supposed to mean? Also, this morning, MSN couldn't find two of the blogs I read every day. So I'm trying to get all this in perspective but I'm seriously irritated.

I'll be at Skein all day today. We were quite busy yesterday afternoon. I didn't see any of my regulars but expect a few in today. No students but a couple of people needing a little hand holding. I got back to work on the merio ribbed pullover that I set aside last spring. The shoulder short rows are done on the back and I've cast on for the front. I think I misread the pattern stitch and am doing a simple K3/P2 rib instead of the mistaken rib pattern. Can't tell from the photo. I'm not starting over though!

Lisa came over last night and we went to El Portal for a nice Mexican dinner preceded by a grande margarita. Muy delicioso! We also spent a lot of time trying to scan some documents for one of her work projects but didn't end up with what she needed. My scanner terrifies me. Must get back to it and show it who's in charge. Hah!

*wah - a state of inner equanimity or balance. I don't know if this is a real word but my older brother told me about it. I guess his wife is very good at disturbing his wah.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Today was mostly about cleaning the house and putting away a bunch of stuff. Haven't done any knitting at all. Maybe after I finish this I'll do a couple of rows.

Lousy night at bowling. And I've got to work some on my photos. So nothing today.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Thanks to everyone who wrote comments and emails about my photo. I'm so excited about this. I hope I can fix the size so it doesn't take so long to load.

This is a swatch of Chevron Flame Stitch. I started a sweater last spring using this stitch. I finished the back and am almost done with the front but I've forgotten where I am in the pattern and the decreases. I'll get back to this when I finish my current project.

Spent the afternoon at Skein. It was pretty slow but I did have one new student. Since no one else was coming in for a lesson we just let the normal hour and a half stretch out to three. Had a good time.

I need another project to take with me to Skein. Something simple. I guess I could dig out the Jaeger merino sweater I started last winter. I've finished the back except for the shoulder shaping. So I'll pick that up for a while. I worked on the CRP for a couple of hours tonight but only got eight rows done. I don't think there's enough to show yet. But I will.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Let's just see if this works. If it does you should see a picture of me sitting in my knitting chair. It's taken a long time and the help of a lot of bloggers so I hope I've figured out how to do this.

Well, that worked! Now all I have to do is figure out how to resize, which I think I know how to do. And I need to get some new photos of my finished and in progress stuff.

Monday, January 20, 2003

When I finish reading all the daily blogs I always want just a little more. That's one of the reasons I like it when I find a new (to me) blog. My list just keeps growing. For me, it's like going to brunch with a lot of friends and catching up on what's been going on in their lives. (I'm not alone in this. Go see Much ado about knitting.) And I think most bloggers like to know how many folks are reading their blogs. I check once in a while to see how many and who have been reading my blog. It's one of the ways I find new blogs to add to my list. And Theresa has just passed the 50,000 mark. So anyway, I was very surprised and happy to see that Gwen has made my blog her Aortal pick of the week. Thanks, Gwen!

A moderate day at Skein yesterday. Just a few folks coming in for a hint or two. I finished the hat I was making for Doris. Well, actually I ran out of yarn. I don't know if she wants to buy another skein to complete it so I have to wait until she comes in again, or calls, before I can continue.

I got to see "Harry Potter and the Secret Chamber" last night. Lots of fun effects and a little more complex plot than the first movie.
What I saw was an Academy screening copy. I don't know how my friends got the DVD but it added a little illicit thrill knowing that I wasn't supposed to have access to it. (You get your kicks where you can.)

So, off to start the laundry and work some more on the CRP.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

On a scale of one to ten, ten being chaos, it was about a six today at Skein. Absolutely no one in the morning but then we had a crowd of unrelated people all come in at once. Another new customer that I used to know when I worked at Mariposa ten or so years ago. Not someone I knew well, but just enough that she felt like she had found a new home. Later in the day we got really busy again. And it stayed that way until the end of the day. I taught the son of one of my students, actually just a refresher. I got him started last year but he hasn't been doing any knitting on his own. That was when he was six. I think he's seven now. Anyway, it was surprising to see how much he had retained. Mostly I was keeping him occupied while his mom was getting started on a new project, a sweater for him. His sister just slept under one of the tables until it was time to go.

I've been meaning to post this link for some time but keep forgetting. Richesse Online. She sells Rowan yarns and patterns as well as her own designs. I bought three of her patterns a few months ago but haven't had time to make any of them. I found the link on the Knit U list. It's a little slow loading but the photos of her patterns are pretty good and you can see several views of the garments.

I finally had some time to spend with my cabled raglan pullover (CRP). I spent about three hours on it tonight and am really pleased with how it's looking. I switched to circular needles and it's a lot easier to handle. I had a good suggestion from one of my email friends about how to keep track of the patterns. I think I had read this somewhere a few days ago, maybe in one of the blogs. Make a chain of loops in a contrasting yarn, one loop for each right side row, the number of loops corresponding to the number of right side rows in the pattern repeat. Slip the chain each right side row, inserting the needle into the loop that represents the row just worked. This works very well for knowing what row you're on but you still need to check the charts to see if it's time to do a cable. Most of the cables in the pattern I'm working are very irregular so I have to refer to the charts, but the ones that repeat of a regular basis I have memorized. Anyway, I'm still enjoying it a lot.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

If Friday was any indication, the knitting binge is over. It hasn't been that quiet since the middle of July. But it was nice to be able to finish the mohair shawl. It's really just a long, a little over six feet, rectangle. But it does look quite nice on. And I helped another person through turning a heel. One of these days I'm just going to have to make a sock.

So now I'm thinking about what to take with me today to work on should there be any lulls. It has to be something made with yarn that's available at Skein. I guess I could just buy something when I get there. I need to make a hat for Doris. I guess I'll do that today, she provided the yarn. All I have to do is find the right needles. I started this once but ripped it out because the cable cast on had no give at all.

Friday, January 17, 2003

My brain is doing a sort slow download this morning. I've been staying up way too late for the past few days and it's finally catching up. There's just too much stuff on Google to ever comprehend it all. But it's like the "just one more row" thing.

Did you read the latest Fantastic Fiber Voyage? Too bad that the second half was devoured by Blogger. You can still read the first part here. Thanks, Ariella. I'm hoping to get back to Santa Barbara sometime this spring and a day in Solvang is unforgettable. There's only one more of these trips scheduled. Wish some more folks would sign up and talk about their own favorites.

I had a call from the owner of Elegance Designer Yarns. She's about ready for me to come in and do some classes. But I'm too busy right now (everything is relative) and there are some "political" reasons that make this "not a good thing". And besides, I'd rather teach one on one rather than a group.

One of the guys on my bowling team did a little shiatsu massage treatment on my shoulder muscles last night. Hurt like anything while he was doing it but it's really feeling great today. Have to try that again sometime.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Spent the afternoon at Skein. One customer waiting for me when I arrived. We worked together for about 45 minutes until she finally understood (well, I think she did) how to deal with decreases at the neck edge. You know, the instructions say to work the second side reversing shaping. I don't know why so many people find this a difficult concept. This particular customer, in many years of knitting, had never made a sweater in pieces. Always from the top down as a single unit. She doesn't seem to have a problem shaping a garment this way, adding stitches as needed. But she just couldn't get the subtracting stitches. And then binding off and decreasing. But after many sketches and graphs she seemed to get it. Then we worked on shaping the sleeves. All over again with the binding off and decreases. More sketches and drawings. I know she knows how to make Christmas stockings and socks. I just don't see why she had so much trouble with this. We have one more chance on Friday if she can't do this. She's going to visit her daughter in Texas and wants to present the sweater to her grandchild when she gets there. I can hardly wait.

It was a pretty good day overall. One of my former students came in and got a bunch of new stuff for some more scarves. We had a chance to catch up on what she's been doing. A couple of more people came in and saw the yarns Ann Mary was winding and they got all jazzed and bought a bunch of stuff that they didn't come in for. It was also the start of a new series of Wednesday night classes that are taught by one of the yarn reps that we deal with. So that brought in a whole group of people I hadn't see in a couple of months. So mostly it was a fun, chatty sort of day. I worked on the mohair shawl most of the afternoon and am almost done. Will finish on Friday, I think.

Didn't touch the raglan pullover. I did start re-reading the Designing Knitwear book. It's been a long time since I looked at it and I've had a lot more experience in the meantime. And technology has changed a lot since the book was published. But the basic concepts are still as valid as ever. Like swatching. Not for gauge but just to learn what the yarn looks like and how it behaves. So I'm pretty excited about this, all over again.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Just kind of picking my way through the new sweater. It's slow going as I'm still trying to figure out what to do when. Since the patterns don't repeat at the same rate it's tricky. Maybe I'll just knuckle down and make a chart of the whole thing so I can see how everything relates. Kathy asked which pattern I'm making. The pattern is from Knitting in America. So if you have the book you can see it on page 52. It's called the Unisex Cabled Raglan and was designed by Deborah Newton. I'm not doing the color stripes though. I'm using a wine colored Candide, the yarn that the pattern calls for. I'm a little concerned that the yarn may be too thin. The stitches just look a little too open. Even though I got the gauge called for in the instructions. Maybe it'll all plump up when I wash and block it.

I have another book by Deborah Newton, Designing Knitwear. A great book. Full of helpful information. I haven't looked at in a while so maybe I'll do that later today.

I went to Joanne's last night for our weekly knit and chat session. I think next week we're going to get back into weaving. I haven't touched my loom for nearly a year. I'm not going to be weaving myself but Joanne will be teaching another person. I'm going to help Joanne tie on a warp on her floor loom. Her loom is this huge, room size thing she got when she lived in Sweden about 20 years ago. I don't know how she ever managed to tie on a warp by herself. So that should be interesting.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Be careful what you wish for! A few days ago I said I wanted to get back to more complicated knitting instead of all the scarves, shawls and hats I've been turning out over the last few months. (I almost forgot the dishcloths.) So I decided to make the cabled raglan that is in Knitting in America.

Well, I'm started and it is indeed a lot more fun that what I've been doing. Yesterday I said there were no charts for the cables. Well there are, but they're on the next page, which I hadn't read yet. But some of the cables are text only, the ones that are easy to describe like the right and left twists, the symetrical braid, the ribbed pattern and the garter stitch rib. The other four cables are too complex to write out, unless each right side row were to be written out. The only problem I'm having is trying to hold an oversized book on my lap while I knit. I have to keep checking each row to see if it's time to do a cable or change the direction of one of the patterns. The top of the needle gets caught on the book sometimes and I either pull it out of the stitches or the book falls to the floor. Or both. The overall cable pattern is asymetrical so it's a little difficult to memorize, or anticipate what the stitches will be. I do have markers between each pattern, eleven markers in all. I think I'm going to switch to a circular needle though. A hundred and twenty six stitches in a bulky yarn is a bit much for the size 10 straights.

I'm only a few rows into this so I think it will get easier but will remain interesting, at least until I have to start the front.

Monday, January 13, 2003

It was so crazy at Skein yesterday! I really felt bad (guilty) because I had to turn away at least three people who wanted to have a knitting lesson. Peter and Eleanor (Ann Mary's brother and sister-in-law) just don't know anything about yarns or knitting so I had to answer their questions and field phone calls as well as try to keep two tables full of knitters going. I have no idea how much yarn was sold. I did manage to teach one mother/daughter combination to knit, purl, cast off and cast on. Most of the time I was just answering questions as fast as I could and helping people put together, you guessed it, yarn combinations for scarves.

I did have a chance to visit with Renee, one of my favorites. She's only been knitting for about a year but has turned into one of the best and brightest. She brought in her second pair of felted clogs that she made for her husband. They're in Lamb's Pride worsted and in the USC colors. They haven't been felted yet so they're really huge. We also considered a couple of yarn possibilities for a poncho she wants to make for herself. I need to remember to send her the heart pattern for face/dish cloths that Stephanie posted a few days ago. I also met with Doris, my soon to be 90 friend, about a pattern I generated for her using my Sweater Wizard. Most everything else is a blur. I think I did about five stitches on the shawl.

Today, in addition to laundry, I'm going to start a new sweater for myself. I have some Candide (Reynolds) that I got about twelve years ago. (Hope it's mothfree.) I'm going to make Deborah Newton's Cabled Raglan Pullover from Knitting in America. Unfortunately the pattern is text only, no charts. But I think once I get going it'll be okay. I really prefer charts over text.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Sunday is a short day. That is at Skein anyway. We're only open from 1 to 4. Sometimes it can be really busy. I'm glad we're only open 3 hours today because I'm going to be by myself. Ann Mary has gone to San Diego for TNNA. Her brother and his wife are coming in to help but since neither of them know which end of a knitting needle is the working end I don't expect a whole lot of support. But they'll take care of the register anyway. I'll take my current shawl project with me just in case it's not busy. I'm just over half way done with it and it's beginning to look a lot more appealling.

It was very quiet in the morning yesterday, almost no traffic. Then about noon somebody opened the barn door and let all the animals out. We did not stop until almost five. Neither of us had time for the pizza until just before closing. So it was a good day after all. Didn't do much teaching, just a couple of refreshers for folks who couldn't remember how to cast on. When I got home I was so tired I couldn't stay awake to read my email. Took a nap for an hour and then couldn't go to sleep later. I hope some of our regulars come in today. I need to catch up with them and it's actually helpful to have them there if we're busy.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Some days you just don't have anything to say, and this is one of them.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Winter may be coming back. At least it's no longer in the upper 80s. It's a little gloomy and overcast. That's more like it!

Spent a good deal of time yesterday practicing single crochet. I'm using all the strange yarns, mostly crafty acrylic stuff, to make a bag that may be used to house some of my stash or for a WIP. It is beyond ugly. Randomness only works if you control it. At least when it comes to fiber manipulation. Just my opinion, of course. Some may prefer the gawdawful look.

I don't know if it's from the crochet or my cold. I have a pain under my right shoulder blade that feels like a pulled muscle and my right shoulder is feeling sore. I think it's probably the cold having decided to hold on for a while longer but using a crochet hook for five hours, when one is not used to it, might be the problem. Could be both. But now that there's evidence that a couple of cocktails a day is actually good for you I'm feeling like this little over the counter technique will help me a lot. That's good, because Lisa is coming to see me tonight and we will test this new prescription.

Lots of encouraging notes and emails regarding my knitting burn out. Thanks, everyone.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Some of you may be able to remember the phrase "burn out". This was the big catch-all term back in the late '80s and early '90s for people who has just lost it, specifically when it came to their jobs. Generally it meant one was no longer able to generate any interest in their work and just couldn't face it any more. One of the cures was to find a different career. Or take some time off, or maybe go take a seminar.

I think I may be in that place right now, at least in my knitting. So, while I'm not going to take any time off, I'm going to try my hand at crochet. (I think I may have already mentioned this. My mind is going!) I am also going to get back to more challenging knitting. The current shawl is just knit, knit, knit. My arms ache from the monotony. Looking at Cindy's UFOs and WIPs makes me realize how I've let simple knitting get in my way. And then there's Teresa's Roscalie project. And Alison's "double" knitting. And the inimitable Wendy whom we all love and admire and long to emulate. And I know there are many, many others that I could site as inspiration. Like Joe or Matt. I still have to knit some simple stuff for Skein. That's part of my "job" there. But I think I'll mostly work on those simple things when I'm actually at Skein. (They are supposed to stimulate sales and they do.) But the stuff I want to do now just won't work there. Most of my stash didn't come from Skein and I try not to knit with yarns that are not available at Skein. Plus, what I want to do now is not easy to pick up and put down in mid-row.

Speaking of Skein. We were moderately busy yesterday. It's really hard to ratchet down to a normal pace. We've been so busy for so long! A couple of folks came in for a little hand holding. One lady has been knitting for well over ten years and had never learned to purl. She's made at least ten afghans using Manos del Uraguay. Garter stitched every one. Now she's making a purse. Rowan Big Print. So she had to learn to purl. Awesome!

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

It was good to have a knitting night out. I spent almost two hours working on the boring mohair shawl and didn't even notice how boring it is. Anita shares my love of reading blogs. We had a good time just talking about who's who and what's what. Joanne doesn't know what we're talking about so she kept going to sleep. I took my new knitting books to show. Joanne shared her new books from Jamieson's that she got from Knit Picks. Now that's some serious knitting. Have to track down their site and order these for myself.

Going to work at Skein today. You just never know what's going to happen there. I'm hoping that some of the new knitters will be back and ready to move on to a new project. Maybe a sweater? Matt wrote about some of his earliest knitting efforts and encouraging new knitters. I wonder if the little green booklet he used was the same one I used. I can practically see the bright, lime green background and orange accents. For thirty five cents you could learn how to knit, crochet, tat, embroider and make broomstick lace. (I've never seen broomstick lace but a new customer, just last Saturday, brought in an old afghan pattern using broomstick lace. Some pretty garish colors! How times change, what?) Anyway, this was a great little book. But, back to the point. So many new knitters are afraid to move beyond the security of scarves. Sweaters are not hard. Any technique can be learned. I try not to let anyone think that something is beyond their ability. I do have a couple of students for whom knitting is second nature. They're always trying new techniques, on their own. So my job is to help them and cheer them on.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Not much going on here. Just working on the latest shawl.

Tonight we will resume our weekly knit sessions at Joanne's house. It's been about three weeks since we last got together so this will be a welcome return.

I put away most of my knitting books that had been stacking up everywhere there was a horizontal surface. I decided not to renew my subscriptions to Knitter's and Vogue. Just don't have any more space. I'll see them at Skein.

Monday, January 06, 2003

It's Monday again. I love Monday. Nothing to do and nowhere to be, all day long. Well, I do have a few things I want to do but they don't require going out of the house. We're having June in January weather. It's like this every year. It was almost 90 everyday of the weekend and looks to be climbing there again today. There was some kind of heavy duty wind action last night that has scattered palm fronds all over the neighborhood. And blew all the discarded Christmas trees into the streets.

Skein was jammed all day yesterday. Of course, we're only open for three hours on Sunday. There were a couple of daughter/mom combinations where the daughter was teaching the mom how to knit. Kind of nice. The noise level was so high that I thought for a minute I was in a sportsbar. Lots of my knitting buddies were in but we were too busy for me to spend any time with them. I gave the kufi to one of them. It looked so cute on her and I wanted to do something in exchange for the wonderful cookies she gave me for Christmas.

My current shawl is moving along pretty well. It's really boring to knit. 50 stiches per row, all knit. The first twenty rows were done with two strands. Now I'm into the plain garter stitch with one strand of mohair. I had forgotten how unpleasant mohair is to knit. But I'm using a size 17 needle so progress can be seen. The shawl will be just over six feet long and will have 20 more rows of two strands at the end. It's about 20 inches wide. We're hoping this will become the new thing to make, replacing the similar shawl that was such a hit last year. Up next is a shawl make with a new Katia ribbon (I forget the name) that uses an elongated stitch (aka drop stitch) and has very long fringe. I made one of these last year in Berroco Zen and it was very popular. Sold a lot of yarn, and the sample.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Christmas, Day Twelve. The day we've all been waiting for. It's finally over and we can get back to getting ready for the next one. I can tell Christmas is over because the City of Pasadena is taking down all the bleachers along Colorado Blvd., put up just a few weeks ago for the Rose Parade. I've found a place to store all the Christmas gifts, including a 16 quart stockpot, and have put away the last bottles of unopened champagne. So, it's over. But it was fun!

The third book from my wish list: Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified, by Ann and Eugene Bourgeois. I had read and heard a lot of references to this book. So when I tried a little fair isle knitting, late last year, I thought I ought to have this book, even if some of the references weren't exactly kind. I mean, we could all use a little simplifying once in a while, right? A major portion of the book is a history of how the company, Philospher's Wool, got started. The trials and tribulations. And ultimately, the triumph. (Sort of a mix of new age and Farmers' Almanac.) Readable but not relevant to the task at hand. There's a section on the Philospher's Wool color ways. Very arty, faux rustic. The techniques section is very informative in it's narrative presentation. It helps if you have some idea what they're talking about though. From what I can tell, the sweater silhouettes are all about the same, a couple of rectangles with sleeves. Not much variation. The fair isle patterns are nice but we're not talking Dale of Norway here. And certainly not Poetry in Stitches or Norsk Strikkedesign. But then, they did say simplified.

(That paragraph was getting too long so I decided to put in a break here.)

Anyway. I am always inspired by Wendy's gorgeous sweaters and the intricacies of her patterns. And I really admire her skill. I know she uses a lot of patterns from that Scottish designer. Her work is what I have in mind when I think of Fair Isle. But, I think I will probably make something, just for the practice, from FIS. I hear their wool is heavy and I note their sizing is generous to a fault. So the first thing I'll have to do is mess around with the patterns. Well, I can do that.

Had a very busy day at Skein. Lots of new customers. Ann Mary was so tickled with herself. She sold some pretty pricey yarn to two different people, both of whom started off by saying they just don't knit anymore. She said that as a former schoolteacher she had learned that it was important to motivate people. I didn't see any of the usual weekend crowd. They were all off doing other things or being sick. Bother! But I have hopes for today.

My cold is still putting up a pretty good fight but I think I have the upper hand now. I've got a couple of new things "on the needles" at least figuratively. Ripped out the new hat. (I'm making this one for Doris. Doris will be 90 next month. She says this yarn is too hard for her to work on. She's wrong. It's too hard for anyone to work on.) And I'm making a new shawl for the shop. Mohair and sequins.Loosely adapted from a Karabella pattern using Berroco Mohair Classic and some sequined stuff from Anny Blatt. Tedious!

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Christmas, Day Eleven. This has to be quick. I'm going to be late for Skein if I don't hurry. But I do have to have my daily blog time, with coffee, or I can't function.

Another book I got for Christmas, from my wish list, is "Hollywood Knits" by Suss Cousins. I thought it would be nice to have since I met Suss, briefly, at the Knit Out in Santa Monica last September. I had scanned the book at one of the local bookshops and thought it had some nice ideas. So, I put it on my list. The fact that I don't really like this book, at all, is not the fault of the giftor. I asked for it. Anyway, there are a couple of things I like in the book as far as designs go: the knitting bag is clever and I like the minimal look of it; and the man's multi stripped sweater. The opening section on techniques shows how to knit continental, which is unusual so I like that idea. There are numerous errors in the text, at least in the opening section. Some typos. Things that a good proofreader would have found. There a plenty of silly things to make: cell phone cover, makeup bag. I found the whole tone of the book to be patronizing and way too precious. And she thinks a large finished size is a 36. I could go on but I won't.

Time to go. Skein was pretty busy yesterday. We're now going to charge for knitting help, on a selective basis. That's going to be a little delicate in some cases. Will have to see how well this plays out.

Friday, January 03, 2003

Christmas, Day Ten. It's not over yet, but we're getting there. I spend a couple of hours every morning reading blogs and email. This time of year seems to really bring out the philosophic in folks. It's not just about resolutions. It really is about renewal and getting back on track. I'd like to say I've done this, but I haven't. Maybe I will yet.

One of my Christmas gifts is a copy of Nancy Wiseman's "Knitted Shawls, Stoles and Scarves". I'm still working my way through it but, in general, I think it's a very worthwhile book. She approaches shawls as garments that need to fit. And she presents different techniques that help accomplish this. And she explains the techniques themselves so that the reader not only learns how to use them in a given project but should also be able to use them in other applications. So, even if you don't knit shawls, you should be able to profit from this book. And if you do knit shawls, there are plenty of inspiring designs.

A couple of days ago Joe wrote about his first knitting project. That got me to thinking about my early days in knitting. I don't remember the first sweater I made (I think it was something called Aztec and used a mosaic/slip stitch technique, although I didn't know what that was at the time. I just followed the instructions and it came out okay.) What I do remember as my very first project was an afghan made in a diamond lace overall pattern. The afghan came out pretty small, more like a lap robe. I didn't know anything about planning or gauge swatches or suitablility of fiber, but I remember learning to read the pattern. All those yarn overs, K2tog, psso! It took me a while but I finally understood what those stitches were doing. The edges always curled a little. Now, of course, I know why. But I didn't then. I'm pretty sure the yarn was some really cheap synthetic, probably acrylic. It was pretty stiff but it became the cat's favorite place to sleep. I know what became of the cat but I have no idea where the afghan went to.

I haven't been to Skein since Tuesday so I have nothing to report from there. I'll be going in later today. I finished the kufi and it's cute. I think if I make another one I'll do the decreases a little more rapidly so it's not quite so pointed. Or maybe I'll do an I cord and make a topknot. I have to figure out what I'm going to take with me today to work on. Dishcloths, anyone?

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Christmas, Day Nine. This is the day when most people begin removing their holiday decorations and getting their homes back to what is known as normal. When I was a kid my mother always took the tree down the day after Christmas. We used to beg her to let us keep it up until at least New Year's Day but she was adamant. So when I started having my own tree I kept it up until well after New Year's Day, even if I didn't turn the lights on, for fear of a fire. Nowadays I don't decorate at all for the holidays so I don't have anything to take down and put away except the unused gift wrap. I have one needlepoint pillow with a wreath of poinsettias that I usually bring out for Christmas. This year I didn't even bother with that. Usually, about Thanksgiving time, I start thinking about getting a tree and decorating but then I get busy and then decide it would be silly to spend the time and money. Maybe next Christmas.

I seem to be having trouble counting to three. I've ripped the kufi two times now because I keep messing up the K1, yo, K2tog pattern. So I've started over for the third time. And I don't even like the color of the yarn. But now I'm determined. I'm still making dishcloths, using up the yarn I bought. The other day, one of my students commented that I shouldn't be making dishcloths, that I should be working on something fabulous and impressive. I suppose she's partly right but dishcloths are a lot easier to deal with when I'm at Skein than something that requires a lot of attention. And besides, I like making dishcloths. They're not only fun to make, they're practical. Scarves without the length or boredom factor.

Have started on box number two of tissues. Still feeling poorly. I may not go bowling tonight. Don't want to drip on the approach and cause somebody to have an accident. Not to mention infecting a lot of other people.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Christmas, Day Eight. So I ended up with the worst cold I've had in years. And that's how my new year began. But I'm already getting better.

As any of you who watched the Rose Parade this morning could see, the weather here is beautiful. Sunny and warm and clear blue skies. There's snow on the mountains though. All in all, not a bad way to start the year.

It was pretty busy at Skein yesterday. Still plenty of scarves being started. A new knitter getting into her first ever sweater. And I spent a hour or so ripping out a mohair hat for a customer. Not fun! I worked a little on my kufi and that's about it. Not much to report for today. I'll finish the kufi, I think, and then decide which UFO to start on.