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Saturday, February 21, 2009

The February Lady Sweater & Amy R. Singer

~~~~Note - I started this blog on February 15th but was distracted by exploring The Panopticon - so I saved this to finish later. ~~~~

I'm sighing a bit over the Yarn Harlot starting her version of the February Lady Sweater.
My DH had a minor pause when I showed him the YH's in-progress version, citing admiringly "though she actually spun her yarn".
I think he had a moment whereby he thought another craft was on the horizon - spinning.
(wry grin) No, I assured him, I am not taking up spinning.
(yet...wicked grin)

Whilst sighing over the YH's February Sweater, I had a brief, transitory moment of thinking I could do a quiet Knit-a-long with the Yarn Harlot! (Yeah, I'm a knit-geek to get a kick out of that concept.)
Reality quickly reasserted itself...with an astounding amount of luck, I could probably cast on and possibly get a few rows done before her sweater will be done, blocked, and modeled.
It might already be done, pending blocking, because I think she's traveling just now. It does look lovely thus far.
A lot of blogs I follow are written by knitters that are much more prolific and of greater knitting proficiency than I'm currently capable of - possibly than I will ever be capable of.
Still ok - such is life. The blogs are still fun and inspiring.

The February Lady Sweater will be a serious stretch for my abilities - but I think it's a feasible project for me. And I already have the yarn. Wicked, yummy stuff, that.
Procured from Purls of Tucson. I was good and waited until their New Year's Sale!
(And I can bumble into Purls or Kiwi for knitterly advice if I get too freaked or too stuck.)

2/21/09 - I was prophetic and a bit overly ambitious.
The Yarn Harlot has finished her February Lady Sweater - all done save for the buttons.

How did my quiet knit-a-long go, you ask?
I only got as far as swatching. I really don't think that counts as a knit-a-long. (wry grin)

But the swatching went well.
It's hard to describe the sheen and feel of this yarn. Yummy!

I got a charming bit of confirmation in my choice of yarn.
I'd brought in the February Lady Pattern to show Tracy, teacher (designer?) of the nifty Knit Dr. Bag; to show her my next project. She liked the pattern and immediately suggested it would be gorgeous in Cascade Venezia. I was very tickled to show her that is exactly the yarn I'd already purchased for the project!

Speaking of the Knit Dr. Bag - I have mostly finished the first one (button-clasp and pockets still need to be added):

And my best friend was very appreciative of the colors. So I offered and she agreed she really wouldn't mind having one for her Birthday. So I've cast on another:

So - about Amy R. Singer, author of "No Sheep for You" and editor of the ever-tempting on-line magazine, Knitty.Com...
She came to Tucson! She did a presentation at the Old Pueblo Knitter's Guild; a fun summary of the non-woolly options she researched for her book. (She's allergic to wool, alpaca, etc - so she was investigating non-woolly options - and a rather nice book was the result.)

Um, pictures...well, not so much. I was being a bit bashful, it being my very first time at an Old Pueblo Knitter's Guild meeting and all. I met some extremely nice ladies - and I probably couldn't tell you any their names to save my life. (ack).
Tracy and Nancy were there from Purls so I got to chat with them a bit.
My only comments to another of my teachers, Lynda Sorenson of Kiwi Knitting, were stunned, appreciative noises about her Entrelac shawl (the Lady E pattern?).
Martha, a nice lady and a very proficient knitter I've met at a few classes at Purls, was kind enough to abandon her seat near the front to give me company in the available seating near the back.
(She also nearly finished a gorgeous pair of socks during the meeting! (Me? I was swatching).)

So - pictures. I did actually try, as the meeting was breaking up, to get a picture of Ms. Singer.
I got several astoundingly....blurry and worthless pictures of folks that walked innocently across the room - between Ms. Singer and I - as I skulked around near the middle/back of the room wasting camera time...

And look! Amy R. Singer's back! Really, it's her, trust me!

(on the left)

I know.
It's a bit sad and very knit-geeky.

However, I was surprised to find this one in my camera:

Ta da!
Yep, she looks just like her picture on Knitty.Com.

Ah, but I got to visit more with Ms. Singer at Purls later in the afternoon - I'd signed up to take the Tuscany Shawl class with the designer herself! (Feb. 26,2007 to see her blog on the Shawl.)
(Embarrassed Confession: I've always been SO busy ogling the patterns and articles, I missed that Knitty has a blog. (Sigh)
Well of course - another blog to explore!)

Ms. Singer was gracious, fun, very patient, comfortable to be around, and although I did equal amounts of tinking (sigh/arrgh) and knitting in the class - I really did learn a lot.

And I took a couple of pictures without any skulking involved!

Ms. Singer was fitting a cowl, presumably designed by Ms. Singer, on it's maker.
(No, I'm scum - I didn't get the knitter's name.)
(Yes, there were name-tags. Told you, I'm scum.)

It was a very pretty cowl. Nice color - soft too.

(We're in the "warehouse" at Purls.
All that lovely yarn was a little distracting during class.)

This is probably very similar to how I looked at that moment too.

And having swatched before class to get gauge (going up a needle size), then ripping the shawl tip back at least twice during class - I ripped it back again because I liked it better on the too-small-for-gauge needle size and then ripped rows back a few times because I was being stubborn and sleep-deprived and I wanted to get past row 17, durn it!

This is how far I got (Row 18):

This picture is a little brighter than the actual yarn color.

Although the KnitPicks Shimmer knits up nicely and I'm considering getting a lot more so I can make a sweater out of it (overly-ambitious again), having touched and held the original Tuscany Shawl...I'm wishing I'd not followed the Purls Workshop suggestion of double-stranding lace-weight. They had also offered a nice bamboo substitution, but the colors were very picked over by the time I went shopping.
I'm a'wish'n I'd looked further afield for something closer to the weight, sheen, softness, and texture of the silk of the original Tuscany Shawl.
It just might be worth the frogging...

Over-all, my knit experiences of the last few days were lovely, educational, and very inspiring.
I have to go do some housework now. (grin)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blogs to Explore - Panopticon

Continuing my efforts to reduce my "Blogs to Explore" stash by actually exploring some blogs I bookmarked to review later...

I recently got to hear a Knit Picks pod cast featuring Franklin Habit. T'was quite funny and I became more intrigued. He's got a very clever book out: "It Itches" and I'd heard about his 1000 Knitters project from 6/17 comments from the Yarn Harlot. His blog, the Panopticon has been languishing in the Blogs to Explore folder for a very long time.

E'yup - I went exploring.
Well, first I got drastically side tracked. I gotta get me one o'these!!!
And love this...and this is excellent fun...and I have been giggling a little over the "It Itches" books at Purls....

Um, where was I? Oh - Yeah - Exploring. Blog. Right.
Um. We start today with a Valentine's message from Dolores.
The Sheep. (?)
I'm aware of Dolores but have not yet been exposed to a lot of her exploits.
I believe Mr. Habit's fan base on Ravelry is... Whoa - yep, "Dolores Devotees, For fans of Dolores van Hoofen (and -- it should go without saying -- her creator, Franklin.)".

Back to the blog. Dolores' Valentine message is charming and fun. ('cept now I'm craving cheese doodles...)
(Wait! Later in the blog I found a link to the Meet Dolores blog from March 2006! Is this the birth-blog of an Icon?!?)
LOVE the list of Romantic Knitting Classics (movie title twists) - AND the Stasher Movies!

I really liked his comments in the "Process" blog. He sounds like a kindred spirit in the surroundings-reflect-the-mind category.
Hmmm - someone sent him a rude e-mail questioning how he could have the nerve to blog on the same Internet as Brooklyn Tweed. That's creepy rude, actually.
Now - Brooklyn Tweed is also in the Blogs to Explore folder, and as I recall it was quite spiffy, but certainly not on the level of gotta-read-as-often-as-feasible like, well, the Yarn Harlot's blog. And for that matter - we all have A LOTTA NERVE blogging on the same Internet as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee!!
(Yeah - see how rude/silly/get-over-yourself that sounds?
(....and I'm creeping myself out a bit))

Back to the blog. (Rambling a lot today, aren't we? Got distracted with shopping and never came back (I'm thinking I might want one of these too...).
Lem'me grab some knitting to get me on the reading-track...(swatching...).

And there's charm to be found in this blog. Thus far it reads to me like a comfortable conversation with a friend.
A clever friend with an impressive vocabulary, some humility and a serious artistic bent.
Some inspiring creativity - on several levels.
Ha!! Excellent sense of humor! Dolores van Hoofen puts in appearances in many of the December blogs with a unique version the 12 days of Christmas ("Lurching Toward Epiphany").
(Yes, I'm getting blog-smitten...)
Ok, I'm chortling as I read this report of a Dolores adventure
I like how he changes writing personas.
(Hmmm - this is so well written, I'm actually wondering if Dolores will come kick my a** if I question her physical presence in our world or her exploits in Texas...)

And then a dose of knitting reality. This gentlemen views a lace pattern as "complex enough to be diverting, simple enough to be worked in company"...aside from the proof already being in photos of completed projects and the point that he teaches classes of Elizabeth Zimmerman patterns - he can knit lace "in company" and finds it "diverting"?!?!? (read with the tone of Lucy of the Peanuts).
i.e. - he's gooooood... but he's also human - he blogged that he missed three rows of the lace pattern and deftly describes what came after. Nifty.

Ok, I'm having too much fun reading Panopticon; this is another blog to visit again and again.
Time for bed - swatching is showing I need to go to larger needles.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Craft Camp (Retreating) - Part 2

Cake Wreaks continues to delight - and if you haven't already seen it, you should go look at the Cupcake mosaic Zilly Rosen put together to honor Presidents Obama and Lincoln for President's day. Entirely spiffy!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!
DH has to work today so after I got home from work yesterday, he treated me to dinner at Venice Restaurant (I'm considering sneaking back tonight to have another serving of the Triplet Ravioli (oy/the Pesto Sauce/sigh)), a visit to Baskin Robbins for a scoop of Ice Cream, and a re-view of Stardust on the DVD at home.
I'm feeling like a VERY lucky woman.

Back to the retreat narration.
As previously noted, last weekend I got to go to a crafting retreat at Bear Cabin Inn.
I got some more crafting done on Friday and Saturday:

I finished stitching this sampler.
It needs to be washed, ironed dry, and the "C", candy cane, stitched on - then it's fitted into a small pillow.

I finished knitting this Moebius Basket and started on a 2nd.
(Recognize the teal yarn?)

And I worked on this bit o'lace...
(Malabrigo - yum!)

The woodpeckers came back to visit:

After treating us to a yummy breakfast on Saturday morning...
Have I mentioned yet that Carol who runs Bear Cabin Inn is a REALLLLLY good cook? That's half the fun of the retreat - no home-chores looming over you and delicious meals that just add to the comfort!...sigh...
Where was I? Did I mention Carol (and Maggie) just published a Cook Book?

Cool, huh?
I wasn't kidding - she's a really good cook.

Where was I....? Oh, yeah... After treating us to a yummy breakfast, we all piled into cars to visit the Gordon Teele Alpaca Farm a little ways up the road.

Pat Dempsey gave us a tour of the barn and animals.

These are the female alpacas in the barn.
(Check out the cooling system he has rigged for the summer - clever!)

I listened to the the interesting and educational comments from Mr. Dempsey (no, really, he appears to know his stuff about alpacas - t'was pretty cool) from a side-stall, next to some of the younger Male Alpacas:

Hmmm - seems I was taking pictures of the 4-legged critters and not so much of the 2-legged crafters.

Then we moved over to hang out with the baby alpacas...and I don't remember much else Mr. Dempsey vocalized as I was smitten with young alpacas nibbling on my jacket and coming up to snuffle me. (Yep, I'd have failed the pop-quiz at the end of the class...)

Martha was of particular interest to the baby alpacas!

(Or maybe it was the carrot-colored camera/ phone?)

These are the Alpaca Dogs.
They are Not people dogs.
They are there to protect the alpaca from coyotes, who are smarter than I gave them credit for. Seems they send down a bitch in heat to distract the guard dogs and then the pack will take out the guard dog chasing the female coyote.
Mr. Dempsey indicated these dogs have been doing an excellent job of keeping the heard safe.
(Coyotes zero, Alpaca dogs rule!)

You get now why I tuned out of the alpaca lecture, right?
Overwhelming cuteness...

This is a female alpaca watching us in the baby pen.

(And the only picture I got of Bob, Carol's nifty husband).

The "ladies" were a'wait'n for us out in the barn-yard.

Then we got to meet "Jericho", the llama. I was still not tuned back into listening to Mr. Dempsey, but I believe he indicated Jericho will "sound the alarm" if coyotes are on the premises - a guard-llama.

Mr. Dempsey did indicate Jericho was fond of women and would snuffle over our hair and face - I was gifted with a snuffling...very soft muzzle.
I missed getting any good pictures of other snufflings 'cause there was a crowd. (wry grin)

Jericho is in with the Male Alpacas:

This one's a handsome fellow!

Pat's popularity with the alpca ladies was only increased by the bucket of alfalfa "candy" under his arm...

And there was a spiffy gift shop!
Did I get pictures of the spiffy gift shop? No.
I was in a bit of a yarn haze. I think pretty much our whole crowd purchased alpaca-based goodies.
They had socks and gloves, fingerless gloves, the fingerless gloves with the mitten-cover, scarves, shawls, throws, rugs, all soft and tempting. Oh yeah, and the yarn. (sigh)
I initially had a huge armful of alpaca yarns in many colors: 3 skeins of a light teal, several collections of varigated browns, cakes of bright white or grey twined with light brown - and Martha had found some lovely blue-black plied with Gray...

Now, the down-side of a bunch of crafters invading a small alpaca farm with a gift shop...it takes a looooong time to check everyone out.
Long enough that some of my common sense reaserted itself and I put a bunch of yarn back.
(Truth be told, too much was put back...sigh).
But I did collect these treasures:

(Yes, and I found some of that beautiful blue-black yarn I'd seen in Martha's hand...)

And there was this hat.
I first saw a lovely brown version of this hat that I was ready to buy.
Until I saw this one.

Oh yes, I'm quite capable of knitting hats - have made several - but I don't have the knack for this embroidery.

I hadn't recognized the decorations on the brown hat were alpacas until I saw this one. (wry grin)
So the gray knit hat with fun embroidery came home with me:

(I wore it for the rest of the day too!)

And...Saturday night...it Snowed. Not enough that I got to call out of work for a Snow Day, but enough to delight.

Maggie displayed her lap-dog qualities as we marveled at the snow Sunday morning.

Carol's lap specifically.

And it continued to snow...

Then it snowed a little harder...

Enough to make the drive home more interesting.

I have to say, folks seemed to be behaving themselves driving-wise on the way down the mountain...

And look what the DH had waiting for me when I got home.
As previously noted, I feel rather lucky...

Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!!

(Respectful nod to Celtic Memory Yarn. Posting a blog of this length with this many pictures takes a Looong while.)