Wednesday, March 31, 2004

It felt a little strange yesterday when 4 o'clock came and it was time for me to leave for the day. I've always worked until 6. I didn't get out right on time because a couple of my knitting buddies arrived just before 4. Hardly anyone knows yet about my new hours. So I stayed for about an hour and chatted with them and planned a yarn shop hop for the weekend. Yay for Sundays off!

I have a couple of hours to knit this morning before I have to get ready. Still working on the socks I'm making as a gift for one of my students. I haven't worked on anything else for the past couple of days except the poncho that I'm making for Skein. And that's pure drudgery. K3, P1 on size 13US needles for 72 inches using yarn that's supposed to work on size 4US. The yarn is lovely though. I think it's a desecration to be using it this way. Hey! I only work here.

I'm reading No Idle Hands. I don't have the book with me right now and can't remember the author's name. It's "The Social History of Knitting in America." Very enjoyable and amusing. Seems like today's knitting craze is just another in the on-going cycle. I also got out my copy of The Sock Calendar by Catherine Wingate and Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer. There are several patterns in there that I think I'll add to my list of candidates, especially the ones named Summer Solstice. I already have several skeins of the Sockotta yarn.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Patrick swings

Those of you who have a cat, or cats, will already know this. Cats believe that we exist to feed and entertain them. Patrick is no exception. Right now he's a little ticked at me because I won't give him any more treats. The other night he refused to eat his regular scientifically balanced kibble. He sulked and sulked but finally gave in a went ahead and ate. I told him cats do not live by treats alone. He just looked the other way as though I wasn't even in the room.

You also know how cats love to get into bags and boxes. I have a couple of plastic boxes waiting to be filled with stash. Patrick loves to get in these boxes. So, thinking I would just tease him a little, I picked him up in the box he was currently enjoying. He didn't jump out so I tried just swinging it back and forth a little. He didn't jump out. Now, every morning, right after his scientifically balanced breakfast, he runs and jumps in the box. I spend five minutes or so swinging him back and forth and carrying him around. If he's not satisfied he comes and scratches my computer chair which he knows is going to tick me off. I'm thinking of putting the laundry basket over him.

The trip to Phebie's was a success. I got a hank of Schaeffer sock weight yarn (Anne) in a beautiful red colorway and some Cervinia Forever Jacquard sock yarn. I now have three hanks of the Schaeffer Anne. One of these days I'll find the perfect pattern. I've never tried the Cervinia. It's very inexpensive (cheap) so I'm not sure if it's going to work up very well. Thus speaks the yarn snob. But I like the sort of acidy pastels. How bad could it be? Anyone know?

We didn't go to Velona's. That's going to take stronger meds. So maybe next week.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Today I'm going to Phebie's with my bi-polar student. She's driving so I hope she remembers to take her meds. She's been wanting to go to Velona's so if she's feeling stable we may do that as well.

It's not like I really need any yarn but it is always a good idea to see what's out there. We're still getting things set up at Skein. Some new shelving is in place so Ann Mary has been bringing out some of the new yarns and there's room for more, as soon as it arrives. One of my favorites is Karabella's Breeze. It's 40% cashmere and 60% silk. Very soft and light. I'm making a poncho shop sample with it. The label calls for a size 4US but I'm using a 13 so it's a very stringy looking thing. Seems like the stringy look is in. And holes all over the place.

I'm also making my first pair of toe-up socks using this pattern that I got from Rob's weekly Threadbear newletter. (Click on Free Patterns and scroll down.) It's too soon to post a photo but so far it's looking pretty good. I'm not really happy with how the M1 increases look but maybe the second sock will be better. I'm using some yarn that a friend gave me, the elann Colori from their Sock It to Me Collection. I've only used size 1US needles once before. It sure makes the size 2s feel big. That's the other pair of socks I'm working on.

So, I have a new work schedule. I'll be at Skein from 11 to 4, Tuesday through Friday and 10 to 6 on Saturday. At least for a while. We're still trying to figure out the best combination. The traffic pattern at the new location is much different from what it was at the old address. Since I don't want to work full time these hours will cover the peak times.

Friday, March 26, 2004

The long week

Usually the weeks go by so fast I'm not sure what day it is. Well, I know when it's Monday because that's the day I don't go to Skein. All the others though, they're all mixed up and kind of all the same. Not in a bad way, just busy. This week though has just drug its self from day to day.

It's only Friday. Two more work days to go. On the up side though, this will be the last Sunday I'll be working for at least six months. Skein will be closed on Sunday starting in April. What will I do with two days off?

I hope I'll have some uninterrupted knitting time. It seems like it's been a month since I've really done any serious knitting. A few rounds on the current sock project while I'm between students or customers at Skein. I did work some on the red shawl last night at our Thursday night knit together. Fairly mindless knitting so I don't feel like I've actually done anything. Mendy and I are starting a mini-knit-a-long in a couple of weeks. We'll be making the Wave and Shell shawl after she comes back from New Mexico. And I'm starting a new shop sample for a poncho.

So it's not that I'm not really doing any knitting. It's just that it's being sort of doled out in tiny segments.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

A day without knitting

is like a day without sunshine. And both things happened today. We've been so busy at the new location that I haven't had time to work on anything, not even a sock. And we had no sun today. It was dreary and drizzling for most of the day.

And then tonight I went to another concert by the Southwest Chamber Orchestra. The first half of the program was a song cycle of poetry by Bertold Brecht as set to music by Hans Eissler. (Eissler was one of the first people to be deported during the McCarthy era.) Very stressful stuff but beautifully sung by Kathleen Roland. The second half of the concert was a transcription of Anton Bruckner's Seventh Symphony. Only nine musicians instead of a full orchestra. It was quite amazing. And they had a harmonium. Not the kind they use in India but a full scale real harmonium. I'd never seen on of these things. Apparently the one in use tonight is one that was restored by a local artisan and is the only one around here. It's being shared by all three of the major orchestras here. I tried to find a picture but all I came up with were the Indian ones and they look sort of like an accordion. These look more like a large reed organ. Well, I thought it was interesting.

I took the Gold Line again. It is so much easier than driving Downtown. But it takes longer. So no knitting tonight. Maybe in the morning before I go to work.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

What happened to Poobah's?

The new Skein is in a building that for many, many years was a haven for those interested in no longer available records, tapes and just about anything related to pop music. It's an old craftsman style house built probably sometime in the 1920s. Poobah's was a landmark.

The original owner of the business decided to retire last year and sold it to one of his employees. The new owner could not get the financing needed to purchase the property so he moved the business to another location. So now the old house is home to Skein.

You'd just have to see the look on the faces of people who come in expecting to find Poobah's. Mostly guys in their mid-thirties. A few women, too. Sometimes they just stand in the door looking blank. Sometimes they'll actually come in and ask what happened to the record store that used to be here. Or maybe they just jump back and shut the door without ever taking in the change. It's like they've taken a wrong turn somewhere and can't believe they've ended up in the wrong place. One guy last week just stood inside the door for about five minutes trying to grasp what had happened. He did wish us well before he left.

Then there was the guy last week who came in to look around while he was having the muffler replaced on his car. (There are two muffler shops across the street.) He said he had purchased a knitting machine for his wife a few years ago but she didn't seem to like it. And he didn't understand why she always bought cheap yarn. I wanted to, but didn't, say "That won't be a problem if she shops here."

Friday, March 19, 2004

Fruit Cake

Finished the last of the pecan pineapple fruitcake this morning. You didn't know but I'm one of those apparently rare people who likes fruit cake. Well, most of the ones I've tried. A friend gave me this fruit cake after Christmas because he doesn't particularly care for fruit cake. So I've been having blocks of it for breakfast. I really need to go to the market. Today I had to make a decision. There wasn't enough left for two blocks but too much for one portion. I chose the too much for one portion option and it really wasn't too much. I enjoyed every extra bite.

Why am I telling you this? Well, there isn't much knitting to report. I started a new sock yesterday and will be starting over later today. I'm using some Patons Kroy sock yarn and it calls for a US3. That's just way too loose and sloppy for me but I had to try it first just so I'd be sure. It's a good thing that I was fairly busy at Skein yesterday or I'd really feel bad about how much knitting I'll be ripping.

In other even less newsworthy knitting news, I finished ripping the five rows at 350 stitches per row shawl screw up and have made my correction. I'm about half a row from having regained the lost ground.

We had a good time at the Thursday night knit together. What's not to have a good time about? Is it important to like everyone all the time? Can you just accept that some people are boring and let it go at that? Well, we did have some terrific pastries and pretty much solved the world's problems.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Starting over, over

Sometimes I just have to accept that cutting my losses and starting over is the best way to make progress. So I've been working on a couple of pairs of socks, the Fixation ones and the ones I started yesterday with the sock yarn. They're both history. I thought the Fixation yarn looked like shredded velour and the way the colors were stacking in the elann socks was plug ugly. So now I'm free to try something else.

Not much else to report. Get out there and celebrate!

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

A couple of things

I did manage to finish the Jawoll Denim Socks yesterday.

I didn't use the reinforcement yarn that's included. Didn't want to be bothered. But I think I will the next time. I have more Jawoll in a few different colorways. I think I'll see if I can find the yellow.

This is the Textured Squares Scarf from Nancie Wiseman's Knitted Shawls, Stoles and Scarves that I started a couple of weeks ago. It's sort of a poor man's entrelac. I guess I need to wash and block it to get all those points to show up. There was one tiny error in the pattern but by the time you get to that point you already know what to do.

One of Ms Wiseman's biggies is that scarves, and to some extent, shawls, need to be shaped so they will fit better around the neck and make wearing them more comfortable. This one is a wide V. People who've tried it on say it does feel better. And it's a little more interesting to knit that just plain old straight.

I need to start another pair of socks so I'll have something mindless to work on at Skein. Lammia gave me some sock yarn that she got from Did you know they have their own label? So I think I'll start those.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Cookies for breakfast

and plenty of strong, black coffee. Trying to clear my head of crazy dreams brought on probably by too much merlot. It's my one day off and I have no plans. In a little while I'll get out the vacuum and terrorize the cat. He's going to be very upset anyway because I'm going to fill the new plastic boxes with part of my stash. He loves to jump in and out of these boxes. Oh well. There'll be more later in the week, I expect.

I haven't been doing much knitting. I hope to finish a second sock today between loads of laundry and maybe swatch for the next shawl project. My current red one has something like 350 stitches per row now and I have to rip back a couple of rows because I forgot the center yarn overs. I thought I could just insert them on the wrong side but that didn't work very well but I couldn't see that until I'd done a few more rows. So much for being an experienced knitter.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Workin' retail

I'd forgotten how tiring it can be to work in retail sales. All day running around, being cheerful, listening to the same questions and comments all day, and for the moment, trying to find where that yarn is that you know you have but don't know which shelf it's on or which still unpacked box it might be in. Yesterday we had a couple of Ann Mary's friends to help with getting stuff out and on display but today it was just the two of us. I had a couple of students that came in at about the same time so I could work with both of them at the same time so I wasn't tied up as much as I was yesterday. Most of the day I was workin' the floor.

Seems I've forgotten to let everyone know exactly where the new shop is, so here's the address:

1101 E. Walnut Ave. (corner of Walnut and Wilson)
Pasadena CA 91106


The shop hours are:

T, Th, F, Sat 10 to 6
W 10 to 8
Sun 1 to 4 (but only until the end of March. After that no Sunday hours until Nov.)
Closed Monday

It looks like I'll be working the whole day from now until the end of March. After that I'm going to cut back on my hours. I must remember I'm retired. I did walk this morning but tonight when Ann Mary offered me a ride I snapped it up.

So I didn't get a whole lot of knitting time today. Finished the heel flap on the second denim sock while I worked with my two students. I'll try to do a little more tonight but I want to start filling some of the plastic boxes that Mendy has donated for my stash organization effort. It'll be fun to see what's in some of the cardboard boxes and platic bags.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Still stocking

I know it's too soon to tell but if the past couple of days are any indication the new Skein location is going to be a big hit. I know a lot of the traffic is from people who are curious but we also are seeing people we never saw before. We're waiting for some more shelving and there's still a little electrical stuff to get straightened out but it's taking shape.

I haven't had time to knit during the day so I was glad tonight was my knit together at Mendy's. I finished the last ten rows on the textured squares scarf and then worked on the red shawl until I ran out of yarn. I forgot to take an additional skein. So I worked a little on the denim Jawoll socks that I started a few weeks ago. I'll be going in a couple of hours earlier than usual for the next week or so. Not much time for knitting in the morning. Gotta play with Patrick sometime.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Skein reopens!

I stopped by the new Skein shop today to help put away yarns and see what I could do to help get ready for tomorrow's reopening. There were people already coming in just to look around. Lots of phone calls for directions and lots of chaos and confusion.

It's too soon to take pictures but I have to say I was very pleased with the way the new shop is coming together. We're going to need more shelving and a couple of tables. There's less storage than in the old space so almost everything will have to be on the salesfloor. Right now a lot of it literally is.

There were some questions about parking, mostly from people who don't live in Pasadena. Parking in Pasadena is a major problem. If you live here you're used to it. We will have a small parking lot soon. The contractor's people where out there today moving dirt and rocks. Probably next week there'll be four or five spaces. Not much but that's more than a lot of small businesses in the area have. There is street parking a block north and some more a block east.

I started the new socks last night. There are some mechanical problems with the pattern. It's designed to be worked on circular needles but I don't have any that are short enough so I'm using double points which make the decreases in the pattern split between two needles. So I'm going to switch to three instead of four and reposition the stitches. Should make it go a lot faster. I don't usually work with three needles because I get ladders when I do. With the Fixation yarn though ladders don't occur. It's very stretchy!

And I have five more pattern repeats on the current scarf. I plan to get that done tonight if I can stay awake.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Not much really to report. I didn't quite finish the new scarf today. I was interrupted for a couple of hours by a visit from a lady who used to live in our building. So even though the pattern is pretty easy to follow I decided to just sit and listen. And then I needed a nap. And then Patrick and I cleaned the refrigerator. He's a big help.

Tonight I think I'll start a new pair of socks. Not that I've finished the ones I'm currently working on but I want to try a new pattern and some of the Cascade Fixation I got on sale a couple of weeks ago.

We're in a cooling trend now. Yesterday it was 99 in Monrovia where Carol lives. It was only 93 in Pasadena. Down to 89 today and maybe 81 by Friday. I broke down and got a fan out last night. I thought Patrick might freak but he just ignored it.

Monday, March 08, 2004

One of the benefits of working at Skein is meeting people and becoming friends with them. People from lots of different places around the world. Yesterday I had lunch with two of the people I've come to know and love. One is from Indonesia and the other from Malaysia. We went to an authentic Malaysian place called Penang. I have to take their word for the authenticity but believe me it was good. I like curry and highly seasoned food so this was a treat. I didn't try the century eggs though. I thought they were figs, and I don't care much for figs.

None of us had anything planned for the rest of the day so we decided to do an impromtu yarn shop hop. We went to Alamitos Bay Yarn Company first. It's right on the marina in Long Beach. It was crowded and hot. I overheard someone saying it was 91 degrees. I can believe it. I didn't buy anything but there were so many tempting things. It's a great shop.

Then we went to Velona's. Seems like I've been there almost every week for the past couple of months. There's so much yarn there that it doesn't matter. There's always something I didn't see before or that has come in while I was away for a week. I did get a couple of sock yarns for my collection. They had cashmere on sale so one of the friends picked up enough to do a shawl.

After we got back to Arcadia, where we had left our cars, we stopped in at Skein. Ann Mary was busy packing for the move today. It's still scheduled to take place even though the new space isn't completely ready. And a couple of things like telephone and charge card connections are not done. So we'll probably not reopen until Thursday. I'm getting one additional day off. I'm planning to go in for a while on Wednesday and help with restocking the shelves. I hope the air conditioning has been reconnected by then. The contractor cut the line to the air conditioner for some unknown reason. The parking lot hasn't been started. So it's all going to be a bit ragged for a while.

Meanwhile, I've been working on a new scarf.

The pattern is from Nancie Wiseman's Knitted Shawls, Stoles & Scarves. The yarn is from Grignasco, 100% silk. Shangai. I got it about ten or twelve years ago when Mariposa was still in Pasadena. (Mariposa is a now defunct shop where I used to hang out and work.) I started going through some of my old stash and this was in the very first box I opened, along with several other yarns that I don't remember buying.

So I didn't make much progress on destashing. Got side tracked by all the stuff I found just in this one box. I think that's the main reason I didn't buy much yesterday. I wonder how many other things there are in there that I've forgotten. The mind reels.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

What's up

I got a pattern leaflet from Vogue Knitting a few days ago. It came in the subscription solicitation along with a letter inviting me to resubscribe. Which I didn't. Anyway, the pattern called for one skein of Noro Kureyon, color 102, which I had. I changed the pattern to be worked in the round. It's kinda cute but I'm not sure about that funky looking "tassel" sticking out the top.

I had a skein of the #102 left over from making this scarf. This is not the same scarf I showed a couple of weeks ago. That was #126. Of course the color is off in both photos. But they're both very orange/red so you can kinda get the idea. Lisa is coming over tonight so she'll be taking these home with her.

It's probably getting too warm for these, at least in the daytime. But it's still cold after the sun goes down.

Being on vacation, even a short, stay at home one is nice. I've been emulating Pat the Cat and taking lots of naps. He's much better at it than I am. And I've been looking through pattern books and stash trying to get them to align in some kind of logical way. I suppose I should be cleaning house but I'm on vacation.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Still set to go

It looks like the move will take place on Monday. The plan is to open on Tuesday but I think that may be a little more than ambitious.

Since most of our customers thought we were going to be closed for the end of this week it was pretty quiet today. So Ann Mary said I should take the rest of the week, and the weekend, off. So I'll have some extra hours to maybe get a few things finished and start some others.

I'm pretty excited about the move. There'll be more room for one thing. And the table where the classes are held will not be in the middle of everything. There's room for a separate table in case we want to have more than one class at a time. Maybe some sock knitting classes and anything else I can think of that would be good as a group activity.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

And then you won't, part 2

So, I arrived at Skein a couple of hours earlier than usual so I could help with the packing for the big move. Most of the stock room had already been done and the sales floor was filled with bags. So I'm thinking "Great, this won't take too long." The first thing I did was move all the bags back into the stockroom since we won't be moving on Thursday after all. Some delays, blamed on the weather by the contractor, have set the move date back to Monday of next week. We could have moved on Saturday but the movers do not work weekends.

So it was business as usual. It did feel a little like I was at a garage sale. And I never realized how often we referred to the shop samples which were already packed and not available.

No knitting to report. I'm fighting off a bad case of startitis.

Monday, March 01, 2004

First you say you will, and then you won't

That's how it is with the Skein move. We've been telling people that the move will take place on Wednesday and we'll reopen on Friday. Well, Saturday night I went with Ann Mary and KC to look at the progress on the new space and we all felt that it wasn't going to be possible for the necessary work to be completed in time for this week.

However. The contractor has assured Ann Mary that all will be done in time for her to move in this week, on Thursday as it stands now. So we're still planning to move or not, as the work progresses. I just want it to be over. I'm so tired of hearing about it.

Not much new on the knitting front. I did get a few more skeins of Cascade Fixation and a couple of other things, just because it was there. I finished the latest multidirectional scarf and have started another one. I think this will be the last one, at least for a while. I'm still intrigued by the pattern but I'm really getting tired of the Noro Kureyon. The colors are terrific but the vagaries of the spinning are tiresome. Sewing thread thin to rope thick is less than five inches is a little extreme. Who would have believed that poor quality control could be marketed as desirable?