It has been since I last bought yarn!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Woman Obsessed

I should be really happy that I finally finished a pair of socks. (Especially since these have been on the needles since July 21st!!)

Pattern: Rise and Shine Socks by Mari Muinonen (Blog watchers will note I just knit her mitt pattern too. I must be Mari obsessed!)

Yarn: ShiBuiKnits Socks in 2955 (I really wish they'd name colorways instead of number them)Needle Size: US 1

Notes: Cute pattern- would really look great in any kind of sock yarn. I was disappointed with the way the yarn pooled. The yarn itself though, has a delightful sproinginess to it-- I'd knit with shiubui again if I could find a colorway that was more subtle in the way it colored.

I should be downright thrilled that these are off the needles... and that I immediately cast on a new travelling sock, in my guiltiest of all guilty pleasures, self striping yarn. (Pattern destined to be Sheri's Lace Socks.)

But I'm only feeling mildy interested. I should be even happier that I finally got around to eeking a few more hats....

But I don't care. Like, at all. Because I am wholly focused on one thing and one thing only. So focused that I went bought yarn with the gift certificate, (therby breaking my vow not to spend it until Christmas)

and came home, wound some stuff in the stash, and cast on right away. Folks I am obsessed with MITTENS. They are all I'm thinking about. All I want to knit and all I look at when I'm going through the pattern pages. More specifically- I am obsessed with knitting these. Nevermind that I have never been happy with anything I've ever faire isled, nor have I ever been drawn to those particular style of mitts. NONE of this matters. I. MUST. KNIT. MITTENS.

And so, not one to get in the way of true inspiration- I did as my desire told me- and cast on those mittens with this:

Oh yah, that's koigu, new yarn and addi's- all the things I love most in this world. So excuse me- the sheer act of writing this has me agitated, merely because I cannot imagine anything getting in the way of me and my mittens.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Will Work For Yarn

Look what's finally off the needles and on the hands of two girlies that really need 'em? (Look! Irony! This photo was taken indoors at work, because it was too damn cold to go outside and take pictures of knitting! We were actually wearing our scarves in the office because it was also too damn cold inside as well!)

Pattern: #02 Yellow Harvest Mittens by Mari Muinonen (Found in the Vogue Knitting, Fall 2008)
Yarn: Leftover Cascade Eco+
Needles: US size 8
Notes: PAY ATTENTION TO THE INSTRUCTIONS. In fact, that bears repeating... PAY ATTENTION TO THE INSTRUCTIONS. The charts while simple to execute, are confusing to read, only because the very subtle nuances that tell you to do an opposite cable means you can really screw up. I made two pairs of mitts because I realized after mitt 1 I had cabled wrong. However since they weren't enirely hideous- I did a second wrong one and gave the pair to my sister.

I've been pretty focused on small, stash busting projects as of late and it felt really good to use up some of the yarn and get something quickly finished. There are STILL leftovers-- and if I feel so inspired, I might make another pair of these someday- but for now, it just feels good to have moved on.

Speaking about feeling good- I had something great happen to me at work today. There has recently been some turnover in our office and a lot of the extra work ended up falling to me. I've been working my butt off, (and yet oddly have never been more satisfied at my job- I think it's because I'm busy), especially for the HR department. Today my efforts were rewarded in a very thoughtful gift certificate to Pudding Yarns! It's the little details like that really inspire and motivate me to do better. I don't expect this often- nor do I expect it all... but it was just nice to be surprised. I'll definately work for yarn!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Time... At Knitting Camp... Part 3 - PROGRESS

So- with a weekend soley focused on knitting with friends- a recap of the weekend would hardly be complete without mentioning the kind of knit progress I made!

First up, the long suffering Zig Zag Socks--- that finally saw the completion of a heel on sock #2. I feel like I've essentially been knitting these forever. (maybe I have....????) Because these tend to only be the travelling socks- they see the slowest progression. But- I suppose a heel is a heck of a lot closer to the finish than knitting the leg.

Even more thrilling was finally finishing the "correct set" of the Vogue red mittens. I still don't count this project as completely finished because I intend to knit a "wrong" mitten to match the other wrong mitten... but getting close to the finish line was very thrilling. Viola, I give you three red mitties... (Wrong mitten pictured in the middle- let's see if you can spot "what's wrong".)

The completion of this project was also convieniently timed, as at the PJ party I met Shelley, who was looking for someone to walk her through the first chart on the same mittens. Shelley, (who said incredibly kind things about me on her blog- thank you), was the picture of patience as I tried to help her best I could converting my DPN version of the pattern to her knitting on two circs. I'm not sure how helpful I was to her- but I hope it at least got her on her way. These mitts look AWESOME all knit up- and I'm looking forward to her posting some pics of them finished some day.

New on the needles is a simple Lace Scarf, using some leftover Debbie Bliss Pure Silk yarn I had leftover from my Mother's Day project.

This was the right kind of project to have with me- "fun yarn" to touch for my fellow yarnies, and a mindless and easy enough project that I didn't have to concentrate too hard on. I cast this on Thursday night, and proceeded to pick it up all over the retreat. I made enough project on this that I'd say I'm almost a third of the way finished! Go me!

Both the Mitties and the Lace scarf are knit with yarn I had leftover in my stash. For so long know I've just wanted to do a few simple projects to use that yarn up. I had enough of the yarn to not even think about throwing it out, yet not enough to commit to another bigger project. It feels so good to do some stash busting and help bring the stash down. Stash Busting = less guilty conscience when I "fall off the wagon" again. OR....

... go to another retreat and end up coming home with the retreat special dyed yarn. This is Lorna's Laces in "Autumn Wine" - the lastest sock (Shepherd) yarn to be added to the stash. I had pre-ordered this and counted this in my purchase count down a long time ago-- so I get to flash this yarn and feel not too guilty about adding to the stash!

Lastly I leave you with this pic of me and my roomie-- if you get a magnifying glass perhaps you'll see us! (Mental note- next time you ask a stranger to snap a pic of you and a friend, show them how to use the zoom.) I made so many friends and met so many new people this weekend- (and my Ravelry friend list has been growing since!), I feel so lucky to be apart of such a special group of people. Ever since I joined the knitting community I've bee so overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of knitters- and this weekend, "communing with my people", was just a reminder of how lucky I am to be part of such a unique, diverse and talented group.

All that remains in this rather lengthy recap of my "REALLY REALLY AWESOME WEEKEND", is to say this: Where do we sign up for next year? I am SO in!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Video & Quotes

Check out the video from the retreat that Amy posted to You-tube!

(I'm Jennifer J in the quotes)

One Time... At Knitting Camp... Part 2

If it's possible- Day 2 at knitting camp was even better than Day 1... although that could have something to do with the fact that my Cold FX finally kicked in and I felt a little more myself. It also may have something to do with the fact that I wore my Tilted Duster and my fellow knitters were very kind to compliment me repeatedly on it. It's kind of fun to see a pattern that you've seen in a magazine in the "wild" and walk up to someone and say, "is that the ___(insert trendy pattern name here)___".

Day 2 I switched gears and went from socks to sweater classes- both with the beyond awesome and fashionable Stefanie Japel. Yes. THAT Stefanie Japel. She makes such awesome patterns. (You also have not seen cute until you've seen her baby... OMG cute.) Stefanie was so nice, it felt more like I was learning something from a friend than a "teacher" and I learned a lot, both about sizing my knits and working a pattern from straight to the round.

After the fun at sweater class- I had to go back to my room for a nap. Folks-- I was T.I.R.E.D. by the end of day 2 and if I was going to make through the evening- I HAD to get a couple of minutes of shut eye. Besides- I needed to get my sleep so I could have fun at the PAJAMA party in the evening!

What's more fun that hanging around and knitting with a bunch of people who love knitting as much as you do? Hanging around and knitting with a bunch of people who love knitting and are ALSO wearing pajamas. It's like the presence of flannel just steps up the party to a whole new fun level. And oh yes-- there was flannel!

This is me (on the far right) modeling my adorable sheep jammies with my jammy twins. (I found these PJ's at the Bay and could.not.leave. the store without them. Aboslutely impossible to let them sit on the shelf.)

Sandra and Amy, the delightful and organized (!!!) and highly awesome owners of Make 1 got the party started early by giving away a couple of door prizes and showing us a great presentation of pics from the weekend, combining it with some of the quotes we'd sent in earlier. I couldn't believe how quickly they were to get that all together!

After they got us all excited and giggly- they let us just sit and knit with our new retreat buddies-- and I got to float around and mix with the "kniter-ati!"

This is Nancy Bush.

(I'll give any knitter reading that a moment to clutch their heart and gasp with awe at such a knitting presence.) Nancy can do things with yarn and knitting needles that I can't even fathom. She's brilliant and everyone who had the pleasure to take her class couldn't stop raving about how awesome she and her class was. (Mental note- learn lace for next year.) She's also the designer of the "New England Socks" that I knit earlier this year. When I showed her my version of her knitted pattern she complimented me and told me what a good job I did. I'm sure she says this to everyone because she's just so nice, but honestly, I walked around with a big fat smile on my face and wanted to shout it from the conviently close mountain-tops, "NANCY TOLD ME I DID A GOOD JOB!"

OH- and you know who else was there? AMY SINGER.

The editor and chief of Knitty magazine. She who is basically responsible for my quick step into total knitting obsession. (I lived on the Knitty boards in the early days.) I didn't get a chance to chat with her, but again- complete and total rave reviews from anyone in her classes. Hmm... perhaps this look on her face means she's trying to send Stef Japel (photographer) "call security and get this hopeless fan girl off me!" (I'm sure she was just being goofy.)

Amy Singer, Stefanie Japel, Nancy Bush, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and Cookie A- all at one table. It was the table of greatness. It's like the Knitters of the Round Table. We were lucky to be among giants this weekend.

And now that I've done more than my fair share of name dropping- I'll show you this:

This is a wedding shawl from 1886 (or something in the 1880's - the room was loud with knitters laughing as hard as they can)- it's knit double stranded in the finest of gauges. The amount of labour in this project is mind numbing- it is beautiful and gave everyone pause to just stop and stare at it's complete awesome-ness.

BUT- we didn't stare for too long- too much knitting to be done. I leave you with my last pic of today' post- the final knitting photo.... our little pajama clad group, who laughed, drank, knit and laughed some more. The pajama party was so much fun that it will be a fond memory of mine for some time.

****stay tuned tomorrow for the last installation of "One Time.... At Knitting Camp..." where I finally get around to showing you WHAT I knit there!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

One Time... At Knitting Camp... Part 1

I just got back from a SUPER. AWESOME. TOTALLY WICKED. weekend at the Make 1 Knitting retreat. But first things first....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PHYLLIS! (MIL) Someone else wanted to say Happy Birthday too!

Yup- that's the Yarn Harlot spreading some birthday cheer! (She was a great sport to help pass along the greetings.)

Alrighty... I'm going to split these posts up only because this would be the longest blog post ever if I didn't... Day 1 at the Make 1 Knitting Retreat was pretty freakin' awesome.

92 knitters attended this year. 92 people who spoke the language of knitting. 92 people who cared about things like DPN's, row counters, gauge swatches and yarn, yarn, yarn. 92 people who would randomly pet one another because the sweater they were wearing was made out of yarn that needed to be touched. 92 people could name a pattern on sight- instead of just complimenting the sweater. 92 people I had one thing in common with: an obsession with knitting.

I went to knitting camp alone this year- and I'll admit I was a little apprehensive about who I was going to meet and worried if I'd make friends. But lo and behold- friends were made before I even got there!

Meet Jane... San Francisco knitter who braved the cold in Kanaskis for the chance to hace a little knitting fun. Jane and I bonded on the bus ride on the way up-- and throughout the weekend we checked in on how much fun the other was having! Jane had the most beautiful Kid Silk Haze shawl I've ever seen. I've always feared the scratchy side of mohair, but Jane's shawl proved that mohair has a soft and gorgeous side too.

After we'd checked in- we hit the dining room to enjoy a yummy buffet and meet more knitters. I knew I was among my people when everyone was at the table knitting when they were eating. Dinner is so much better when accompanied by knitting! In fact all our meals were like this- sitting down, knitting, eating and followed up by more knitting. It's hard to argue with a meal plan like that!

When I finally dragged my exhausted butt back to my room- I finally met my roomate for the weekend - Alysa. Alysa had come up from Seattle and we quickly got to the "getting to know" you part of things as well as the "show and tell" portion, which comes up in any knitting related conversation. She's currently making a top down raglan, from her own design- I always marvel at how anyone can just make up a pattern on the spot like she was! Alysa was a great roomate- and I think we got along swimmingly!

Alysa is in the blue sweater on the right, sitting next to my sock class buddies, and mommies extrodinare Sandy (left) and Jen (middle). (These were taken at the PJ party on Sunday night- and not what people traditionally wore during the day!)

After an early lights out- I got up bright and early to get a good seat at Cookie A's sock design class. OH MY GAWD- Cookie is so smart it makes my head hurt just thinking about her smart-ness. We dug into the class right away, and a few Japanese stitch pattern books later, (WANT SO BAD!), she had helped us all set up and begin designing our socks. Cookie's book comes out in April- and I'm thinking about pre-ordering now, only because it sounds like it's going to be A-W-E-S-O-M-E! (WANT AGAIN!) Of course, I needed to be photographed with greatness...

(She's probably designing three incredibly complex patterns in her head right now, just as she snaps this photo with a hopeless fan girl!)

Also exciting was Cookie's sample table- she brought samples of many of her designs, and many of the projects were familiar friends as they're pictures are all featured along with their patterns. To behold the first Monkey sock knit is pretty thrilling. (Hmmm- can you tell I'm a Cookie fan?)

After a full day of listening to Cookie spout her genius to us-- my brain was getting a little tired. I had knit the cuff nearly to end, before we decided together that the sock I had designed was goingt to need more stitches. I frogged and started that damn sock 3 more times over the weekend-- and still haven't had much luck with it. Here's hoping we'll see some progress in the near future. I full intention to knit these socks- so let's hope I can get past the cuff to see some real progress!

After another tasty supper, and bonding with more knitters, and an impromptu book signing for the authors, (YAY for Harlot autographs!), we all made our way to the lobby and it's comfy couches and fire places.

I don't think the hotel staff or guests knew quite what to make of an overflowing lobby (pictured above is only one of TWO circles), full of people happily knitting. Everyone worked on their own projects and complimented the objects of those around them. It was a very "zen" moment in a way- being a part of a group of people all working together on something with their hands.

Day 1 of knitting camp was super awesome in ways I can't even begin to adequately express. Look for Day 2's recap coming tomorrow!

**I woke up Friday morning with a cold trying to win dominance over my body. I had a sore throat, painful sinuses and I did not want to knit. In fact, had I been at work, I would have called in sick. And yet- I powered through, (with the help of Cold FX) and that may possibly be why my brain was so crappy in Cookie's class. None the less- by the end of the day I felt better- and I had knit so much- that my hands were actually sore! (And I knit a LOT everyday.... so that says how much knitting we were doing!!)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lessons in Mitten Patterns...

It seems the greatest sin you can commit is a knitter is getting cocky. The moment that your brain begins to think "hey I'm getting the hang of this knitting thing" and you start bragging to anyone who'll listen about what an awesome knitter you are- knitting will bite you so hard you have to take a moment, admit your weaknesses and shut up.
Knitting bit me hard last night.

I'm making a lovely pair of chunky mitts from the fall issue of Vogue knitting. I've completed 2 mitts, yet sadly I still have another hand to knit. Can you spot the error?

No? What if I showed the finished mitten next to the picture of what it's supposed to look like finished?

The cables are supposed to criss cross-- they're not doing it the finished mitten. You'll note that someone (I won't name names to protect the foolish) didn't pay close enough to the chart pattern. Someone ignored their gut instinct to highlight the different cables in different colors to prevent confusion. Someone knit to the very end of the pattern, wove the ends in, took it to work and bragged to everyone she knew about how the awesome the knit was without realizing that what she was showing them was WRONG. Someone was very sad to realize she had to knit a third mitten so that she could actually knit the mittens right.

I appreciate that the wrong mitten actually looks pretty good- and not to worry, my plan is with the left over yarn to knit another wrong patterned mitten to match for the next hand, there is enough yarn. This is just another lesson I learn, (and sadly this is not the first time that I've had to learn this particular lesson... you'd think being idiot would sink in the first time!) on my path as a knitter. Sometimes I just wish that I could knit things without having to learn lessons... you know?

In more upbeat news- I finished Dexter's Doggy sweater!

Pattern: Darling Darby Sweater by Jean Clement
Yarn: Bernat Satin - 2 skeins in Bordeaux
Needles: US size 8
Notes: BEST. DOG. PATTERN. EVER. Working on the measurements the pattern suggests you take, and doing a little math (EEK!) this sweater fit it's intended recipient like a glove. It's great to know that it's going to help keep little Dexter warm on his airplane ride. I'd highly recommend knitting this again- and I just may myself. It's highly adaptable, and the instructions are easy to work with.

In other exciting news- this coming weekend I'm off to the Make 1 Fall Retreat! I'm going to be taking a sock design class with Cookie A!! I'm going to learn from the MASTER sock designer... I can't WAIT. I think it's going to be loads and loads and LOADS of fun- hanging out with knitters and the knitterati! This retreat is basically a "who's who" in the knitting world-- and I'm so excited to be rubbing elbows with the likes of; Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (AKA Yarn Harlot), Amy Singer (Editor of Knitty magazine), Amy Swenson (Indigirl), Stephanie Japel (of Glampyre fame), Cookie A (Goddess of amazing sock designs [see Olympic socks she designed]) and Nancy Bush ([the famous New England Sock designer] Estonian knitter and sock designer. I expect to take a million pictures and report back with many happy stories.

So- in the mean time I need to get back to these mitts so I have something to warm my hands up in Kananaskis when I'm hanging with my "knitting peeps".