Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stitches Prizes

We went to the student banquet. I do hope you saw the flowers in yesterday's blog. akabini has even better pics on her blog.

Each ticket to the banquet had a number, so I had two chances to win at the beginning. Then Bill found a ticket on the floor and couldn't find the owner, so I got that one. As the drawing started, we looked around and saw that a tablemate eligible for a prize had left early, but left her ticket for us. By then, I was the only one at the table not employed by XRX, so I got that one. Surely I would win something --- and I did.
First I won Margaret Fisher's new book about detailed techniques to make or break a sweater.
She has taught this course for years, so I will be interested to read for any tricks or tips I might not know.

A LYS from Dalton, Ga., gave away a $25 gift certificate so I went by the booth on Sunday morning and Steve (who sneaked in with a Staff nametag that said his name was Gay) picked out a pair of socks. Louet Gem Merino.

After all the drawings at the banquet, each table was given a bag of goodies. Instructions were given as to how to hand them out, ex, Give to the third person on your right. Gay and I were the only ones left at our table. I made her take some Malabrigo and some ArtYarn and she made me take the rest.

1. The Guy Knits book in the first picture. Since I already have these patterns in my Knitter's mag archive, I will be giving this to the guild for a door prize.

2. A sock kit from Cascade to make some summer socks.

3. A handmade shawl pin--don't know who created this.

4. A pattern book and the Mission Fall 1824 cotton to make the cute hat on the front. The guild may get this one also. Yarn is not my or my daughter's color.

5. And my favorite gift--a kit from ArtFelt. We stopped by the booth on Sunday and Marcy gave me a very detailed lesson. You don't use a washing machine!!!!!! It's all done in the dryer. I can't wait to try this. One of the big secrets is the base paper to hold the fiber until it is felted . . . . .

Potato Starch Paper----available through their distributors.

I have all kinds of new things to try now. Just need some time.

PS--Thanks to all the vendors who supported this event. I've read some griping on line about some, but I just met with genuine helpfulness everywhere I stopped. I am looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stitches Photos

This is Candace Eisner Strick and you should know who she is. Why? Because she is a great teacher, a marvelous designer, an inventor of the concept of merging colors yarn, and the funniest person I know. She's also wise--and I say that not only because she says I am good enough to teach on a national level--but because she just is. She graciously spent time with me this weekend and gave me such encouraging advice about my knitting career. Anyway--go to her site and the yarn is so cool.

Natalie who works for XRX took this and my great, good friend Gay e-mailed it to everyone who attends the Colorado Knitting Camp. Turns out that Natalie is the one who draws all the graphics for the website and brochures. She's marvelous. Her work is so energetic and fun. So is she. Everyone I've met from Sioux Falls is so clever. Must be the water.

Gay and I had so much fun together. I finally got to meet Bill who does all the facilities management at the Stitches events. All the designers think he is wonderful and I agree.

At the Student Banquet on Saturday night, we sat with Bill and Gay. Also at the table was Anne Claxton who does the KnitU at the Knitters website and Susan Lazear who truly knows the international knitting scene. Both were very nice.

The Atlanta Knitting Guild had knitted flowers---giant flowers---as centerpieces for this event. A local artist wired them. They were huge and clever and beautiful. Alexis Xenakis, the first X in XRX, announced that they had purchased the flowers and were going to drive them back to South Dakota. I suspect they will appear at some future Stitches events.

Sorry about the poor photograpy. These were taken after the cocktail hour, and Meghan will tell you I never took a photo without moving the camera.

These flowers make me more determined than ever to organize a public knitting project for Charlotte.

Tomorrow I'll show you the prizes I won at the banquet. Circumstances came together in such a way that I wound up with quite a haul.

Monday, April 27, 2009


The hotel found my camera cable, along with Steve's pants and shirt, and are shipping them, so yarn pics are coming.

Victoria--awesome fiber woman--was at Stitches on Saturday and told me she had knit my Curvaceous pattern. I shamelessly begged for pics and she sent them.

This is what she did:

Here are pictures of Curvaceous, knitted on maybe #15 needles with some handspun that a friend of mine spun from some Rambouillet fleece she had dyed. I had been keeping an eye out for some yarn with that "rustic" quality that I thought would look particularly nice with this pattern. The yarn was so springy I had to bump the needle size up several times (and of course, I wasn't simply trying a small swatch each time). I hope these are big enough for you to see.

It was fun to knit!

Just like having someone tell you your baby is pretty. Puffed with pride.
Thanks so much Victoria.

Stitches South

So this was supposed to be a tasteful report on the weekend with pics for those who could not be there. I'd like to blame the lack of photos on the fact that I think I left my camera cable in the hotel, but the truth is I only took a few pictures. Too excited to think. Anyway, here's a brief, photoless, report which I wrote Friday night.

We’re here. Quickly saw Karen (akabini) for a brief hug while her workshop was taking a break. Hope to talk more tomorrow. Steve unloaded the bike and toured the neighborhood.

The hotel is lovely and we have a huge room. I dumped some stuff, checked in at registration and headed for the market. Not many people hanging out. Of course classes were going on when we arrived, but still seemed smaller than I expected. Same with the market.

Stephani Quattrini has a booth. Briefly talked with her and hubby Marc. Hope to have a drink later and here some stories. She’s led a really interesting life and has a bunch to tell. They lived in Tahiti for ten years, then New Zealand, and now northern Mecklenburg. Doesn’t really have a ring to it, does it.

Also spoke with Judy Ditmore of Interlacements for Colorado Springs. She helped teach my first Colorado Knitting Camp in the 90’s. Of course, it was about color. Love her yarns.

Talked with some nice folks from the North Georgia Knitting Guild. They have only been in operation a bit over a year, but seem to have their act together. I picked up a brochure and a needle guide that they use to advertise themselves to other knitters.

Ellen of Ellen’s Half Pint Farm in Vermont is here. I’ve bought from her for years and I love her colorways. I bought two lovely skeins of sock yarn (Yes, Meghan, more sock yarn) and some markers to use for my OTN Cat Bordhi socks.

Candace Eisner Strick spent some time advising me about my knitting workshops and cheering me on. I feel really good about her sweet comments and will put them to use. Her yarn company (Merging Colors) has a new colorway which sounds like me. I’ll search it out when I get online.

Speaking of online. Why is it that the fancier, more pricey hotels nickel and dime you to death. We noticed this when we stayed at the fancy Fairmont hotels in Canada. At the Hampton Inn or Best Western, you get free parking, reasonably priced vending machines, and free internet. Here at the Renaissance Waverly the parking is free, but a Coke costs $2.00 and internet is $14.95 a day. That’s why you are not getting this the day I am typing it. Breakfast? I’ll be at the Starbucks.

Jane Godshall stopped by while I was talking to Candace and we talked a bit. She told Harriet I was here and Harriet joined us for drinks and dinner. She told Stephen stories and updated us about her daughter and her BFF Michael torturing her on Facebook. The woman is a stitch. Friends will be glad to know that no one got “to’e up.”

Haven’t caught up with Gay yet. I’ll hang some with her tomorrow while Steve rides the Silver Comet Trail. I’ll also attend the market again, but I doubt I’ll be buying anymore yarn. I will be looking at books.

Charlotte Knitters arrive on the bus about 11 tomorrow; more friends to play with.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fun and Stitches

I saw this on a blog and wanted to share it. Here. While you're there, read around; she's interesting.

Tomorrow we head to Stitches South to see friends and maybe buy a little yarn. Gay, who runs the Colorado Knitting Camp I go to every year, will be there with her Bill who organizes Stitches events. We are going to attend the Student Banquet with them.

Candace Eisner-Strick of Strickwear has become a great knit buddy after three years of camp. I'm picking her brain about my next teaching challenge. She's not only smart and clever, she's the funniest woman I know.

Karen Alfke, whom I met on the Vogue Canada trip, is teaching and I look forward to catching up with her. Check out her sweater pattern in the new knitty.

Steve plans to ride the Silver Comet Trail all day Saturday, so I will shop the market, catch up with the Charlotte knitters coming in on the guild's bus and just absorb the event. I can't wait to see new yarns. I wish everyone reading this could be there.

I'll take pics and let you know what new things I find.

Always planning something

Of course I'm right! If you can't imagine a project for it, move it out. It's not like you can't or won't buy more yarn, cloth, fiber, etc.

DD2 returned from vacation and caught up on my blog. (I love that she reads it.) The above was her response to the post about my studio/junk pile. I love her spunk, but I also love her wise self. "If you can't imagine a project for it" Those are some serious guiding words.

I may need to add "that you would really love." I'm pretty imaginative, but, let's face it, life is finite; and they keep making wonderful new yarns. I'm going to set aside a morning and give it a try. I can always find a knitter who will take in orphan yarn.

So why a picture of my Esther socks? I just love them. Also I have fallen victim to the words of turtlegirl76 and am ready to reopen my copy of Cat Bordhi's book.

Cristi came for dinner last night and brought beautiful socks and sat me down and measured my foot for the Riverbed method of sock shaping. Lord, that girl is convincing. And she knows her socks. Just like one of my own daughters, she reminded me again of my love of adventure in knitting----I'm picking out the yarn today.

Tomorrow night I start a new sock class and, as is always my favorite part of teaching, I will learn something new myself.

Speaking of learning to knit socks. When you first learned or if you were to learn, would you care which technique was taught---dpns, 2 circs, magic loop? This came up in a discussion with my fearless LYS owner, and I'm just curious.

Are you on the Charlotte Yarn mailing list? The announcement came today that Wendy Johnson is teaching and signing her new book at Charlotte Yarn the weekend of June 6 and 7. There are still some spaces in the class and it is very reasonably priced. Remi is bringing Wendy down as a treat to her customers and Fiber Fans. Don't miss out if you are in the area. You can pre-order a book at Charlotte Yarn if you wish.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On the Needles

Estonian Button Stitch socks (pattern on ravelry and in Plymouth Sockotta that I found in the attic. These are public knitting and are for me. Next socks will be more adventurous.
This is the sweater I'm creating as I teach the Top Down Custom Fit Shell class. I'm using 1824 Cotton (Mission Falls) from the stash. It knits at 4.25 per inch and I wanted something that would knit up fast. Can't fall behind in my homework.

I'm really pleased with how the navy and the lavendar play off each other. More as I go.

The shrug I mentioned last week (Here) seems to be working out nicely. I even like it so far on me, and I don't wear shrugs. More words to eat. I will definitely offer it as a free pattern as soon as the bugs are worked out.

Stitches South is this weekend and I can't wait to meet up with knit friends from across the country. I plan to make some serious knitting plans as I look at the yarn companies new things for this coming year. Yeah, I might buy some yarn.

Backyard Battle

Typical scene at the Prater bird feeder. We have awesome squirrels, but I've been winning the last few weeks. In order to eat at all, the squirrels have to hang upside down, and after a few bites, they fall off. They will regroup a few times and then they give up---or start to attack the metal cable to drop the entire feeder. (Ouch, my teeth)
Then along came the Old Timer. That tale has been stripped by combat. No bushy, bushy. But with age and experience comes wisdom.
The Old Timer sinks his claws into the porch framing and r-e-a-c-h-e-s across space to latch on to the bottom of the feeder and just eats his fill.
He rarely falls. Just look at those claws. I haven't the heart to shoo away such a clever agent.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feeling a bit out of touch . . .

I've been thinking about the new knitters that I meet and realizing that I'm not really meeting any. I love the joy of someone who is learning to knit. The light in his/her eyes. It renews my own love of the craft. And I haven't felt it lately.

Talking to my BFF I realized why. "Well, you don't teach beginners anymore!"

True. I gave all the classes to another teacher for a reason that escapes me now. No problem. I'm just going to offer some classes and see what happens.

I do get so much positive energy from all my students, but newbies are special. If you have a friend who wants a class, point them my way. I could use a little of their joy. Or maybe just spend a little time thinking about how and when you learned to knit. If possible, write your teacher a thank you note. Give her/him a bit of joy.

Mondays, May 4, 11, 18 at 6-7:30 pm, $45, at Charlotte Yarn. I love to teach when the shop is closed and we get to do some private shopping.


I think it is time to move the blog to I love It is so easy and I've had very little problems with the blog. It's just that I want to make the blog the homepage for my jpknits website and my mentor says wordpress is the way to do it.

I would like to add more articles and tutorials to the site and keep them very convenient for you. Seems sensible to combine. Mentor is coming over in early May and we will make the switch then. Just thought I'd give you a heads up. You'll be forwarded over and then you can change your feed.

To check my progress and to, please, offer suggestions go to new site

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Challenges

Remi has thrown yarn at me again. Make something out of this! I was skeptical, but I swatched. The flat ribbon is great, but I always like knitting with flat ribbon. The Gedifra Mexican with all the "platelets" in it was definitely different.

Tried it, loved it.

I think this is a shrug--never make a decision until you have to, my motto. It has a big triangle (isosceles) for the back and then I just picked up and knit straight from the side. Caveat: I do not yet know if this works. Just wait and let me make the errors and I'll pass it along to you ----IF it works.

New Shrinky Dink markers to assist when casting on a bezillion sts. Plastic is Brite White from Michaels. Six big pages for under $5. Also includes instructions. Jump rings available there, too.
If you don't know how to do the jump rings, buy yours at Beadlush in Charlotte and they will help you. Beware. Beadlush is a feast for your eyes.

New blog I discovered today. A must read. Craft Fail
It's by many people who post their craft failures. This sweater failure seems so familiar.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Serenity Test

In another test, I was Mal. I liked this test better.

Your results:
You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)

Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Inara Serra (Companion)
River (Stowaway)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Dependable and trustworthy.
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.

Click here to take the "Which Serenity character am I?" quiz...

Studio or Junk Pile

I have an entire upstairs at my disposal. My daughter Meghan says I should emphasize the word disposal and get rid of some of my stuff. I tell her she doesn't understand the needs of an artist. She is probably right.I store yarn and fabric and other stuff. I store well. What I don't do is sew. This is a shame because I have no spring clothes that fit. See the T-shirt on the dress form. I started that months (and 29 lbs.) ago. It isn't quite finished---but finishing won't make it fit.
Some of this yarn will never be knit by me. The problem is I don't know which yarn that is. I really need to set up and learn to use my knitting machine.
Did I mention I also have a bit of fiber?

Friday, April 10, 2009


Check this out.

The focus we get when we knit gives us strength to deal with the world. We know that, but even so this story is amazing.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

New Stuff

Charlotte Knitting Guild, April meeting. This is what we learned to make. They are so cute. I went to Michaels today and bought more Shrinky Dink stuff, in bright white. I'm going to make some markers to help in counting cast on stitches. Watching melted plastic curl and transform into these baby things is incredible fun. Heat guns give you a sense of power.
Blame Cristi; she loaned me one at the shop and I succombed.
These are to hold me over until I can create a colored knitware piece in bright colors. I love the sheep. From Office Depot.
Thank Dani and the big guy for this. They took me by the hand and designed it. I only had to pay for it. I'm only slightly frustrated as I learn a new operating system. Vista puts things in some weird places.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

My role model for life

Today is Aunt Nene's birthday. Yes, that sexy baby is Baby Jane? Whatever happened . . . never mind.

Aunt Nene loved me totally selflessly. No strings attached, no demands--just love. She loved me enough to send me off on my own life journey without guilt for not visiting her instead of going west to ski. Absolutely no strings and when we met up again, it was always as if no time had passed.

I am more her child than anyone else's. She taught me the important things in life:

  • women should be athletes
  • never throw a card game just because your opponent is a child
  • crossword puzzles are your friends
  • mystery stories are the best, especially the Perry Mason series
  • never talk down to children--they are people, too.
  • nuture those you love and anyone else that needs it
  • dogs are family
  • be adventuresome--paint the bedroom aubergine and add some rum to that cake
  • root for the NY Giants, later the Atlanta Braves
  • Read, read, read, read, read.
  • Late in the day, sit down with a cup of tea (Lipton's with lemon), observe the world outside, and just quietly think.
That cup of tea moment was the subject of my first published poem. I can still see it as if I were peeping in the window of the kitchen.

Each moment I spend with my grandsons, I try to channel Aunt Nene. If I can be to them a tenth of what this lady was to me, I will have done good.

I hope someone has loved you this way.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Short Rows without Wraps

I hate wrapping short rows as shown above. Then you have to pick up the wraps. I have undoubtedly wrapped one stitch backwards (or upside down or just weird) and then have to so some slip-slip--slip to get the sts in the correct relationship to hide the wrap.

Imagine the frustration of a less experienced knitter who has not yet developed the eye to see the error and then to see how to untangle the problem. (This eye comes only through lots of experience.)

I researched short rows--looked at yo's, Japanese method--tried to create a memory device for the more common method. I was still unhappy--well, very annoyed that I wasn't a mindless master of this technique.

Then lightning struck. I've turned heels for years and never wrapped anything. I just turn, slip the next st and work the row. Why couldn't I just do that when I knit short rows? On knit rows and purl rows---same thing.

Well, I can! And now I do. And my short rows are neat, less visible than before.

I'm a genius.

Since the Eureka, I have tripped over this identical technique done by dozens, maybe hundreds, of other knitters. Hardly anything is new in knitting. We just, as EZ said, "unvent" the technique for ourselves.

So I'm not a genius? I'm a knitter. Much better.