Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stitches West- the Saga (Part IV- Finale)

Sunday was the last day of Stitches, and the best day (in my opinion). Katie generously offered to pick up coffee from Barefoot for everyone (which was WAY nicer than I would have been), while we stoked out the front of the e-ticket/raffle ticket line.

We did the very last of our shopping early-ish, and sat down to listen to Jane Sowerby talk about her book, Victorian Lace.

I just recently caught the lace bug and had Victorian Lace on order, but truly didn't think I could knit anything out of it right away. After listening to Jane talk about the whole thing, and seeing them in person, I now have the confidence to knit about 90% of the stuff in the book.

Even Andrew, who has NO interest in knitting lace, was thrilled at how much effort and research had been put into the book and Jane's eloquent explanations of how simple it was.

Jane was so inspiring that after her talk, I made a beeline for the WEBS booth (where I had earlier bought a cone of 80% alpaca/ 20% silk in a gorgeous burnt orange) to see if there were any other colors of laceweight that I wanted. There weren't.

We sat down and waited for Julie and the girls (whom I got to borrow for a bit over the weekend) to show up, critiqued what we saw on people, in booths, etc, and I decided to stop being a dumbass and go and buy the Don't Drop Spindle and glass orifice hook from the Ernst's.

See, I had gone into their booth like four times, picked up the two things I wanted, chatted with Michael and Sheila and hemmed and hawed about buying something so decadent and beautiful. I normally wouldn't, but they're made of Pyrex, and typically the equation looks like this:

Glass + Jasmin = broken beautiful thing

All I could think about what how heartbroken I would be when the eventual event would occur, and I would in the end destroy this beautiful thing. But I went back FOUR TIMES. It was Sunday afternoon, and my two things were still there. It was fate telling me that this time could be different.

I told Andrew to hold down the fort, I sauntered myself right into their booth, grabbed my two things, and announced to Sheila that budget be damned! I was buying these, wrap them up please, ma'am!

I also wanted some of the glass needles, but I know I can call and have them send me those any time, and it was only budget-be-slightly-damned. It's going to have to wait until (at least) Persian New Year in the hopes that my father will give me some cash to play with.

I hung out until about 3:30, when I left for home and wrapped up my Stitches. Wrap up and photos of the haul to come.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Stitches West- the Saga (Part III)

Saturday morning. We knew it was going to be a massive cluster … issue. The group had a game plan (which meant sprinting to the back of the convention center to grab the stuff we wanted) to be out by noon, when classes let out.

Ally, Colleen, Erica and I managed to get out around 11:30, and went to the Atrium to find a place to crash during the lunch rush. While at a dinky table (with uncomfortable chairs) I scoped out a cozy little zone with couches. When the ladies at the two couches left, I sprinted over to claim them as Minion territory.

There was a guy sitting there, but his wife was done shopping about an hour after we got there, and he was great at pretending we weren't there (saying things like "penis" and whatnot), and once he left, it was the Minion Crash Zone. We relaxed, ate our lunches, knitted; it was glorious!

The best part was that those of us who weren't * quite * finished shopping yet could go back (at 1:30, once the craziness subsided as people filed back into classes) while the others put their feet up and chilled like the villains they are.

The end of Saturday plan was for the Colleen Crew (those of us who rode in her trusty burgundy stallion) to leave at 3:30 to get the house ready for Donna's arrival (at 5). We lost Ursula, and even though she drove in by herself, we wanted to make sure that she didn't think we were ditching her. We found her and left the building at 4.

We were still okay, my room wasn't a complete disaster and I got set up for Donna well in time for her arrival and the commencement of the massages. Oh yeah, and we had POWER in the living room!

We, again, showed off our respective loot, ate the pizza we ordered (ahem, the pizza guy found us just fine, thank you) and knitting in glorious, resplendent light, provided by Andrew (and his brother).

Donna did five massages, and everyone sort of filtered out once they were done on the table. I, being the selfish beast that I am, took the last slot and rolled into bed afterwards.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Stitches West- the Saga (Part II)

It's Friday morning. Lunches have been packed. Backpacks have been prepared. Wallets are loaded and online tickets have been procured.

The Plan for Friday was for some of us to meet at the house and the rest to meet us at the convention center. I told the people who were driving up with me that if we rolled from the house at 8:30, I would stop for coffee. With that kind of incentive to move, we made it to the convention center around 9:15 or 9:30. There was a line, but we were towards the front.
My assumption was (yes, I know what they say about assumptions) that people who bought tickets online would be scanned and have badges printed out- like Fandango. Noooo, that would have been too smart. Instead, we waited in lines all three days, and had to wait to be scanned and handed a raffle entry ticket as our key to entry.

The system was stupid, and to add insult to injury, we were charged a "convenience fee". There was very little that was convenient about the setup, I assure you. Once we walked through the double doors, all annoyance was forgotten as we began to indulge in what can only be referred to as a Yarn Orgy.

I had three Stitches Virgins with me (we threatened to make them wear lipstick "V"'s on their foreheads, like at Rocky), and they did very well. I went through my list, bought everything on it and then went on to buy other interesting stuff.

Julie and Cynthia joined us in the afternoon, and we left around closing (perhaps a little earlier). The Minions headed back to my house to show off their plunder and build the plan of attack for Saturday.

We ordered Chinese food, and it got there an hour and a half later, because the delivery guy couldn't find our house. (WHAT?!) When the food finally arrived, we fell on it and afterwards knitted (basically) in the dark. Andrew assured me that he had called his brother (who is familiar with electrical work) and he was coming over in the morning.

Andrew then made an interesting observation that this is the second Stitches where something broke in the house. Last year it was the pipe behind the dishwasher, which Andrew (the manly-man, repairer of all things) fixed and showed us proudly when we got home. I think this is coincidence and not a higher power messing with me.

Again, we worked out the plan for Saturday, dispersed, and went to bed.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stitches West- the Saga (Part I)

This year I didn't sign up for any classes at Stitches West. There was a short-rowing class (taught by the incredible Lily Chin) which I wanted to take, but I thought I should ask for the time off work BEFORE signing up and paying for the class, etc.

By the time I had gotten the time approved (a day or two), the class was full. I made a note not to make the same mistake again in the future. Live and learn and all, right?

So, Stitches West/Stitches prep started for me on Wednesday (2/21). I knew I was going to have houseguests and the wiring in my office/guest room (also called the "Yarn Room" by people who have stayed there) was not to code when we bought the house.

This was supposed to be repaired on January 2nd, but the electricians were very understanding when I told them that Andrew had gone into surgery late the night before and we could not do the re-wiring that day. I am sure that it didn't hurt that I answered the door in my pajamas and robe with my hair standing on end and my retainer/night guard in and told them that I had only gotten two hours of sleep.

So, Wednesday morning Sam showed up just before 9 AM (I promised him donuts) and picked up the dogs to go over to my parents' house to play while the electricians did their thing. After the electricians left, Mom and I ran a million errands, and I fell down dead-tired.

Thursday morning, I went to work for a half-day, (despite the fact that I * technically * had it approved as a day off from work). Katie joined me for lunch, and we ran around for a little while until my car was ready from the repair place.

(Remember how I was in a car accident in early January? My car wasn't ready until Feb. 22, and it went back because it was having major problems.)

From the car place, I picked up Mom, and we got home around 5:30, with an 8:30PM ETA for Linda. Ally came over and helped ("helped" = "did all of the heavy lifting and more") get the room in order, well in time for Linda's arrival.

We made The Plan for Friday, and Andrew went to take Ally home. He hit the garage door button (to open it) and POP! Out went the power to the living room.

We tried flipping the switches in the circuit breaker. No luck. So there we were, sitting in the dark. Andrew said that he would get it fixed Saturday, at the latest.

Andrew manually opened the garage door (what a may-an!), took Ally home, and the people remaining at the Shanty dispersed and went to their respective beds.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Icarus Progress

I've mentioned before that Icarus is my first major lace endeavor, and having said that, I was thinking about how to determine my progress in the sidebar. Then I remembered that I am a slightly anal retentive lunatic with a scale. Ah-ha!

If the total shawl takes 4 oz (or 120g), I can weigh my ball of Zephyr and calculate it down to 5g. From there, calculating how close to finishing I am is easy.

I actually bought the scale for weighing yarn two years ago, and it has been helpful on a number of occasions. Since I have jumped onto the spinning bandwagon, I have used the scale on a far more frequent basis.

Just so you know the extent of my craziness (so far as when I am spinning, at least) I determine how many plies I want it to be in advance, divide the weight by the total number of plies, and spin them on separate bobbins. The best I have ever done with this feat (proof) of insanity was to have about 3 yards leftover on two bobbins (which I Navajo plied).

Once the yarn has been plied, I wind it up on my swift (which has demarcations denoting a skein circumference of one yard, one-and-a-half yards, or two yards), count the total number of strands in a given area, multiply by two (because I don't like counting yardage) and have my total yardage.

The sick part is that I LOVE this. It's exactly the kind of simple (yet precise) activity that I thrive on.

I'll post a picture once the 40 days and 40 nights of rain are over, but before the photo I'm going to take the dogs to the newly renovated DOG PARK!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What I Did For Love…

Katie and I went to Carolina Homespun the day after Christmas to spend her gift certificate from the Minion Gift Exchange, and while we were there I found a bump of Three Bags Full roving in Crimson Shadows (click here to buy some).

It is exactly the color of a classic Persian carpet, and being the dutiful and incredibly filial child that I am (Hey,you! Stop laughing!), I bought it for Mom with the intention of spinning it up into something pretty and small. Four ounces only goes so far, you know.

Two weeks ago, at Purlescence, I got a preview of their Chasing Rainbows stock for Stitches. Their "Reds" colorway jumped out at me, and I talked to Mom about maybe doing one ply of Crimson Shadows with two plies of the Reds (the silk/cashmere and the cashmere/merino). Mom thought it would be nice, and mentioned wanting more of the Crimson Shadows, if there were more to be had.

I called Carolina Homespun and Lann let me know that they would hunt down what they had in stock and give me a call Monday with how much they had and how much they could get.

Then there was the Super Bowl sale. There were four different fiber choices in the Reds colorway, and Mom was across town. I made an executive decision to get two bumps (4 oz total) of each fiber and she could decide if she liked it and I would return what she didn't.

Imagine my lack of surprise to find that she loved all four. Monday rolls around. Morgaine has a sweater's worth of Crimson Shadows. I call Mom.

Her suggestion was not one but two sweaters. One out of Crimson Shadows, and one out of the Reds, with black merino to make the colors pop.

Now, I normally wouldn't do this, but for Mom (Giver of Life and Last-Minute Alterer of Suits) I would do anything. I got the box from Carolina Homespun today. More fiber to roll around in.

(See, Mom? Now who is wrapped around whose finger?)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Soaring to the Sun

I've had the lace bug since August, but haven't done anything about it. Until now. I blame Stephanie and Franklin for making it look so easy and beautiful and …achievable.

I was at the Purlescence Super Bowl sale, picking up roving to spin for Mom [pictures to come], and there was Icarus.

"Stephanie knitted that one," I thought. "It doesn't look too complex. The patterning is mostly at the edge. I can do this, I'm a smart person and a decent knitter."

For myself, I bought the pattern for Icarus, the Seraphim Shawl (a slightly more complex shawl by the same designer), and the new Vogue Knitting. No yarn, and my personal purchases came to under $20.

I came home, laid down to rest (which I desperately needed), and afterwards got up to find my needles and yarn. I have a huge stash.

[I know all knitters say that they have a huge stash, but seriously, mine is huge. I'm not going to disclose how big exactly, but it's not in some little hall closet. There is nothing little about this stash.]

A couple of years ago (okay, maybe it was closer to three years ago), I went to an estate sale with Constance and Mom, and this woman had a Stash. She had died of cancer and asked her friends (before, of course) to sell her things and donate the money. There were also five day-old kittens that I got to bottle feed.

At the estate sale, I got some mohair, some boucle, some silk & wool, and some Zephyr. $15 for a 1 lb. cone. I got all three cones. I filled the trunk of Andrew's car for about $160. A week later, I found Zephyr by the ball for $10/2 oz. I bought some, intending to double or triple the yarn and make a sweater out of it, in colors to match the estate sale colors.

Yesterday, I tore through my (home) office, in my neatly organized Space Bags looking for the Zephyr. Then I went into the garage, where I found the yarn in mere minutes. It doesn't hurt to know what you're looking for.

I pulled out my choices, and the gold color seemed appropriate for the myth that is the shawl's namesake.

(Picture courtesy of Fiddlesticks Knitting)

I cast it on. Ripped it out. Seven times, I think, before I could get my brain to figure out what I was supposed to be doing, conceptually. Despite how long I've been knitting, I had a bad lace experience in high school and never really had an interest in knitting lace until I started reading Stephanie's blog, and more recently, Franklin's blog.

My fingers had been itching to knit lace, and now I had the right project. I have been ADDICTED to Icarus. I can't carry it in my purse because the rows are getting too long for the brief waiting I do here and there. It has (currently) eclipsed spinning for my at-home project. It's incredibly intuitive and very rewarding. Pictures to come!