Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Night Stitch Group !

Right up there with The Tuesday Night Knit Gang at Jason's Deli's is Monday Night Stitch Group. In some ways its better. It's definitely the best way I can imagine to start the week. Monday Night Stitch Group was born many, many years ago and although the members have varied through the years, the core of the group has remained as has its meaning; Friendship.

The Group was formed many years ago before my parents retired here and my Mother became a part of it. The reason its called "Stitch Group" is because what each person brings to the group has differed over the years. Not everyone knits. We have beading, embroidery, knitting, jewelry making, calligraphy, etc. Any art form goes. The most important thing about Monday Night Stitch Group is we are a small bunch of women whose friendships are invaluable to each other and we truly value the importance of and need our "girlfriend time" in our lives. It differs from Tuesday Nights only slightly. Tuesday night is mostly all knitting and there are many more people there. The women of Monday Night, I cannot imagine my life without each one of them in it. Each person is so special and important to me.

Mondays rotate from one person's house to another. Whoever is hosting will make the main course of our meal which this time of year is usually some awesome soup or stew. (Every woman in this group, with the exception of me, is an awesome cook so no matter where we go its always a feast. I generally only eat breakfast on Mondays because the evening are always filled with food!!) Someone else brings cheeses, crackers and breads or veggies and dips, some kind of appetizer type munchies, and someone else brings a dessert. There is always one person that has a 'bye' for the week and brings nothing and all these roles change from week to week.We all know the key things some people cannot have or are allergic too and that a couple of us are gluten sensitive so meals are graciously always planned around that. 

There are currently six of us in the group and also my Aunt Betty, though she attends by proxy most of the year, is also considered to be a member of the group but usually only joins us for the Holidays. Our current group is Me, Mom, Melanie, Lisa, Lori and Sidney. You know about me and Mom and a bit about Auntie Betty. Let me tell you about these fabulous other ladies...

Lisa comes from a military background and was an Army officer for several years. She and her husband have lived all over the place. Lisa has 2 daughters, Ariane and Marika; Ariane is a high school history teacher and Marika is in her last year of college pursuing a degree and career in the same. Ariane, the eldest daughter, is married and her step-daughter is Savannah of the famous Savannah's Sweater! (I still need to block the sweater so I can gift it to her). Lisa is a fabulous embroiderer and and fantastic knitter. She is an expert making Alan Dart patterns! Primarily, the different families of mice! They are beyond cute and her execution of these patterns is no less than spectacular. Knowing we are an Ohio State Buckeye family, she made these Templar Mice for my Mom as a gift...


Those are buckeyes on those little shields and Block O's on their little chests! So cute I can hardly stand it. She is expanding her knitting now and is knitting lace fingerless mitts! I'm not sure she is aware of how good she is. She is knitting these lace mitts like she's been knitting them her whole life. Occasionally I will get a text from her simply saying "knitting 911" and she'll come over for some help on what she's working on. She is really fearless about the things she is knitting and I am taking a few lessons from her on that. I used to be a lot more fearless than I am now but I'm slowly getting it back. By day, Lisa is a librarian who works at the Airforce base library.

Sidney is a master embroiderer and needle worker of any kind. She also does amazing bead work. She makes holiday ornaments, jewelry, shawl pins, almost anything with what she has at her disposal. Like myself, she and her husband dont have children, they have 4 cats with four of the most distinctive feline personalities, next to my Kona, that I have ever seen. Stitch group at their place always includes a little help from the cats! Here is a picture of an ornament she beaded for my Mom for Halloween, it has a little spider in the web of the beads...


I have several of Sidney's ornaments that have been gifted to me over the years and many of them are very, very elaborate. I just dont happen to have any pics readily available of them. She does truly amazing work. She tried knitting once. Once. She is no longer permitted to use knitting needles for anything. She is gifted knitted items because its the one thing she cannot do. She can do everything else though! My Mom always says that we look at what we do, knitting, and think that its easy. Piece of cake. We look at someone else's work and because we dont know how to do it it's like magic, well its true! Sidney makes a lot of magic. By day, Sidney is very involved with the Find A Grave website and helps people locate their loved ones burial sites and find out more about their families as she has been an expert in genealogy research for years.

Melanie is a fairly new knitter. And fearless she is too! She started out making shawls, a lace cowl and really wanted to make a lace shawl for her mother for Christmas. I told her about my Effortless pattern and at first she thought it was too difficult to make for her. I explained that it was called Effortless for a reason, it really is very easy to make even for beginners. So, one Monday evening I helped her cast one and get the first few rows going and she had it from there. Once she got to the edging she got a little nervous until I showed her how to do it. Then she was off. This is her finished shawl for her Mom....


She did a spectacular job with it! Now she's doing another lace scarf, the Multnomah Shawl, and I'm not sure what else. She's just off and running! Melanie belongs to SCA which, per their website is described as...

"The SCA is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Our "Known World" consists of 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, various classes & workshops, and more.” - www.sca.org

In belonging to this organization, she also does a lot of other things that are fitting of those periods in time. She is an amazing calligrapher. She made a "Mothers Tree" for me done in calligraphy on parchment paper. It is truly a wonderful piece. If you have any questions as to what a Mother's Tree is, leave me a message in the comments and I will explain it further. Here is a picture of it...



The gold of the first letters is hard to see in the picture. This is ten centuries of women in my family beginning in 1733. Mother of...mother of..mother of..until it gets to me where it will stop as I have no children. Melanie has 2 children, Rachel and Bryan. Rachel is a chef/baker and Bryan just returned from the Army after serving 2 tours in Afghanistan. By day Melanie is also a librarian who works for one of the Prep Schools here in town. She is also the President of the Rio Rancho Astronomical Society

Lori is our newest member and a most talented knitter. She fit right into the group as if she had been there for 15 yrs too. She is sweet, funny, kind and I cannot imagine our group without her. Her 3 daughters Christy, Lisa, and Jamie are grown and she is now enjoying lots of traveling and the love of her grandchildren. Lori has been working on a Pat Werner jacket for a while that she just finished and it is absolutely stunning. I am trying to convince her to enter it into the State Fair in 2014. Its truly an art piece. This is the coat she just made...go check out the pattern. Its amazing! Lori has a marvelous sense of color and I think hers is better than the one on cover of the magazine on Pat's website. I should've gotten a pic of last week when we were at her house for Stitch Group.

Tonight we are meeting at Lisa's house and as always, I'm looking forward to it. Its much more relaxed than Tuesday night. I can wear my pajama's and slippers to Stitch Group if I wanted and no one would care or think twice about it. There is something magical about our little Monday Night Stitch Group. The one thing I love about this small group of women is pure, total acceptance for who you are, failures, faults and successes. We are all so different yet we are the same. We have families we love and care for, we all value and nurture our friendships and know how important it is to have this time with each other. I never experienced anything like it until I moved here. I feel so very fortunate to have these amazing women in my life. Each one of them. If I ever needed anything I know I could call them in the middle of the night and they would get up and come over and tell me it was no trouble, and they would mean it.

Thank you ladies, I never knew I was missing this in my life until I became a part of it! See you tonight!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Goodies Arrived!

My package from Interweave Knits arrived and I am doing a little happy dance. Talk about a goodie box! When I was communicating with the folks at Interweave to get my prize package to me, I was put in touch with a wonderful lady, Annie Baaken. I had explained how thankful I was for being chosen as a winner as not much has gone right for me lately. I just seem to have, well, a constant run of bad luck. Winning the "Blog It To Win It" contest meant a great deal to me. A little recognition goes a long way. She threw in an extra goodie for me because she is awesome! I couldnt wait to open the box and see what the extra one was since I already knew what I was getting. It was a copy of The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits! When my box arrived I emailed her immediately to thank her for reading my mind as I am a huge fan. I dont know many people that aren't. I thanked her over and over again and shared with her how jealous I was of my parents upcoming 3rd trip to England wherein they will be visiting Highclere Castle where the show is filmed. I cant really think about it too much, it makes me crazy that I cannot be there with them to share in the experience. Anyway, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits is fabulous. It has wonderful patterns and great articles. Galina Khmeleva designed a stole for the book and contributed a brief article as well...

"Then, wondering what all the fuss was about, I watched my first episode of Downton Abbey. I was completely mesmerized. The fascinating period settings, especially the attire, brought back thoughts of what the clothing might have been like that my babushka (grandmother) Anna Nikiforovna Sedova, a seamstress in pre-Revolutionary St. Petersburg, Russia, fashioned for the wealthy, aristocratic family - relatives of Sir Alfred Noble (the inventor of dynamite) - for whom she worked."
- Galina Khmeleva, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits 

Wow. I love learning more and more about Galina. She is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met and am honored to call her a friend. A little sidenote: I am the Program Director for the Albuquerque Dropped Stitch Knitters Guild and I am going to have Galina come and do a workshop for our Guild sometime in 2014 and I am so excited! It will be wonderful to see her again as its been a while. She and George did not come to Albuquerque Fiber Fiesta this year and they no longer go to the Taos Wool Festival so we missed them both places. She sounds very excited to be coming back to Albuquerque for us!

So let me show you some pictures of what arrived and what I've been up...


The Orenburg Knitting I thought was a book is a DVD! I will have Galina inscribe it for me on the inside nonetheless. The Holidays Knits still isnt even in at Village Wools yet so I'm happy to be the first in my group to get it. Lots of wonderful stuff in there. Then of course there is the Jane Austin Knits 2013 which is stunning. I have been wanting my own copy of this since it first came out and am thrilled to now have one! 

One of the kits I got was for the Ashbury Mitts, a pair of fingerless mitts that you can see here on Ravlery. The yarn that came in the kit? 2 skeins of Bijou Basin Ranch's Bijou Spun Lhasa Wilderness in the colorway Steel. Lhasa Wilderness is a fingering weight blend of 75/25 yak down and bamboo and I absolutely cannot wait to cast these on and work this up. Gorgeous isnt it?


The second kit I got was for the Leadville Cowl which can be seen here on Ravelry. Its the pattern on the cover of the Holiday Knits magazine...


The yarn? Oh my gosh this yarn. Its from The Fibre Company and is their Tundra. Its a bulky weight blend of 60/30/10 baby alpaca, merino and silk in their Mink colorway and it is Uh-mazing. Here's a better look at just the yarn...



 Its very tonal with shades of red browns and its just lovely. I've never knit with bulky weight yarn before but cannot wait to work on this! 

With all of these lovely winter projects that I cannot wait to cast on I think the fingerless mitts will be next. I want a pair to go with the 50/50 angora and corridale lamb scarf I finishing now. There isnt much left to go on it really... maybe another few long days of knitting and it'll be finished...


Its just your basic basket weave scarf framed in seed stitch with seed stitch blocks alternating down the center. I didn't want anything too fussy with this yarn. This scarf is all about the yarn. I am going to make a pair of fingerless mitts to go along with them based off of this free pattern. I am going to make them a little longer and around the cuff and the top I am going to add a row of smaller blocks alternating garter and seed stitch so they match the scarf. the body of the gloves themselves will be plain which is fantastic for a couple of reasons. This will be my first pair and I want to get used to making them and learning how to add the thumb gusset. Also, they just dont need anything else. The yarn is amazing and has such a wonderful halo!

Betty's shawl is coming along so well, just another few nights of working on it and she will be done. I was so worried about this. Sometimes when you've run into problems that you're trying to fix, putting your work down and coming back to it the next day after some sleep is a good thing to do. I am at the end of the skein I was working with and am going to have to break into 2 brand new skeins just to finish this. I have about another inch or so in the purple then it switches back to the wine color for a few rows at the end. Argh. I hate that but it is what it is. Here's what it looks like now....

Pattern is the Morlynn Shawl by Alexandra Weidmayer knit with Silky Wool on US size 8. I thought I was working with a 7 but I'm not, its an 8!

Isnt it beautiful! I just love the leaf detail around the edge. Just a few more nights and this will be finished, then I can block her, photograph her and wrap her up! Those of you who know Betty know that these are her colors too. It's nice to know that I will finally be able to get this to her. It's going to be nice and BIG just like she likes her shawls. And with the solid center it should be fairly warm too. This shawl is also another milestone with my knitting as it's the first time I've ever used more than one color in knitting a shawl. 

Today is going to be a nice day of knitting and relaxing by the fire with movies and shows...it snowed here last night. In my area we got around an inch, no more than an inch and a half but it differs all over town. There were other friends that had more than we did. And Kona, my wonderful companion by my side always.... he's really good company. If you have cats you already know this!



I want to thank the folks at The Knitter's Edge in Bethlehem, PA for adding 3 of my patterns, Grazioso, Vintage Brodeaux, and Lace Tannenbaum in their website's e-news for their patrons. I truly appreciate the exposure and the business it has generated on my side!

I hope you are having a wonderful and relaxing Sunday with plenty of time with your sticks and string! Anyone else working on/finishing up Holiday Knitting?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Race Against Time...

Last year I really thought I had made an improvement by thinking about Christmas knitting well in advance. I even started knitting early. Like, in the spring kinda early. Socks were started for the in-laws, Betty's shawl had been going for some time and then Dads socks were started in the late fall. I should've known then trying to slam another project in there was going to throw everything else off. Something happened. I cant explain it, but nothing got finished and actually gifted as a finished item. Sure, I've given gifts in the past where needles were still attached. Who hasn't? But this year...I cannot, absolutely cannot, miss 2 years in a row.

This year....this is the year where gifts will be given as finished items! I think. Dads socks are a piece of cake really, just need to do them. And I finally.....finally have Auntie's shawl actually going in the right direction. I backed out what I needed to back out and reviewed my work. I discovered the biggest problem that had screwed me up entirely was that all my stitch markers were 1 stitch off of where they should've been placed in the previous row. How that happened I have no freakin' clue but I'm off in the right direction again and man does that feel good. I've remembered the liberties I was taking and everything. I am on row 15 and have 20 more rows to go until its done. That's it. But I know it is going to be a race against time, I know it. These are looooong rows and they take a long time. I was thrilled I got 3 rows done last night. Here's a not so great pic of how it looks right now...

 Morlynn shawl pattern by Alexandra Weidmayer knit with Silky Wool on US size 7

See? I'm almost to the end! Just 20 rows to go. 20 long rows. So all I really need to finish for Christmas is this and Dads socks and I'm golden! 

And its gonna take some serious focus. I have that gift package coming from Interweave from my Blog Contest Win and there are 2 kits in there, one of which is a pair of fingerless mitts that I'm dying to make. Also, a cowl made from the most luxurious bulky wool I've ever seen and I cant wait to get my hands on it. And, last night I confirmed that I am doing another collaboration project, this time with Phydeaux Designs! Am I am so excited about it. Her colorways are some of the most beautiful and unique I've seen in a very long time. I started seeing my patterns in her yarns a while ago. I am really looking forward to started this too. It will be difficult not to receive her package, wind it up, and cast it on immediately. Just gaze through her colorways.....beautiful, right? Exactly. So like I said, I'm in a race against time... and temptation. There are 34 days until Christmas.... 34 days. That's sinking in deeper and deeper by the minute...

Are you doing some Christmas knitting? Do you always do Christmas knitting or do you occasionally take years off here and there? Do you have the same problem as I do with sticking to your projects and facing temptation head on? Just remember...34 days....

Monday, November 18, 2013

I Waited Too Long ...

The one thing I hate about UFO's? Picking a project back up after its sat for a long time and either not remembering what the hell you were doing with it or how you were doing it. We all take liberties here and there with our knitting, at least I do. And the problems is...I cant remember what the hell kinda liberty I've taken with something that I let sit for too long!! Dammit.

Aunt Betty's Shawl....ah, Auntie's shawl. It was supposed to be a Christmas present last year. It let it sit too long in between working on it. Last night I picked it up and I thought I knew what row I was on...row counter said row 12. A wrong side row. Check. I looked at the previous row and from all the stitches I looked at it sure looked an awful lot like row 11 but there's a chance it was masquerading. I headed off on row 12 like I knew what I was doing, knowing full well the stitches didn't line up. What did I do? I KEPT FREAKING KNITTING. Maybe it was the high leftover from the wonderful dinner the family just had at Olive Garden, which I chose to polish off with a slice of pumpkin cheesecake (highly recommended), but I'm not sure. I just kept knitting until I got to the center.
It was all wrong. I knew it was all wrong and not even the stitch count was right anymore. So now I'm pretty sure I need to back out about a row and a half of Silky Wool...which in a way is like trying to take out boucle yarn. I just put it down for the evening and will look at it later today. Maybe. I really do need to get it figured out there because missing 2 Christmases is just plain embarrassing. Its supposed to look like this...

Photo courtesy of Ravelry from Alexandra Wiedmayer

It's a lovely pattern, really it is. Its called the Morlynn Shawl and it can be found here on Ravelry. And I really think Auntie is gonna love it...if I can actually finish the damn thing. So I need to back out a few rows on this and see if I can get it going in the right direction. The same mysteries that are responsible for disguising our work after sitting for a long period of time are the same ones that usually allow things to appear differently the next day after being frustrated with something the day before. I'm gonna hold out for good news when I take it back up, I'll let you know.

Sticking to my 'I'm really trying to be productive and finish last years Christmas gifts' mode, I turned to the pair of socks I was knitting for my Dad. Last year he got one sock in a package....so at least he knew he was getting a pair of Buckeye Socks. Side note: Our whole family bleeds Scarlet and Grey and are avid Buckeye football and basketball fans. Everything my father owns from his clothing to his grey car are Buckeye colors. The family belongs to the Albuquerque Ohio State Buckeye Alumni Association. We all went to OSU although some of us, ahem, did not graduate. I blame Alpha Psi Lambda. But I digress. Dad only received one Buckeye sock so I finally cast on the second one...

My Mothers sock recipe knit with Fiesta Yarns Baby Boom Team Colors, or something like that. Knit on US size 2 circulars

I have no earthly idea what took me this long to do it. I think was all the designing I did this year. You can see my designs here. I had a tremendous amount of fun finding my way into the design world this year more so than in the past. Now that I have my foot in the door so to speak, I will continue with it. I'm sure that's what has stood in the way of me finishing things and why I have so many UFO's. Along with doing my own work, there are so many other pretty patterns out there I like to work. Just like with the shawl there are things about this that I don't remember. I make plain Jane socks. No patterns. Socks are utilitarian and go in shoes and generally under pants and no one sees them anyway. My socks have always been my Mothers pattern. But I'm going to be doing a lot of stitch counting because I don't remember how many rows of ribbing, or for the heel flap, or how many for the long part of the foot before the decreases. This second sock is going to be a game of winging it. My Dad has long narrow feet and I achieved that with the first one. Like I said, lots of stitch counting!

Don't know what you guys are all up to with your knitting but I wonder if I'll ever learn not to let things sit for too long!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Savannah's Sweater

Not withstanding a little blocking, Savannah's Sweater is done! I didn't think I would ever get here but I did. I'm more happy about it going to a 6 yr old girl that's pretty special to a lot of people! 

So here's the sweater in photos...


 Some where I had a very proud pic of the swatch I made because I got gauge on the first try. But the above I was still working on the second sleeve....the body was on scrap yarn. I was knitting along, made it to the body and all of a sudden...


 The left sleeve is longer than the right. So, knowing me...I had to fix that sleeve before I was able to go on with the rest of the body. That's just the way I am...



So I fixed the sleeve and happily moved on to the rest of the body...until I realized I was doing the increases under the arm totally wrong and had to frog about 4 inches...


The last Tuesday night at Village Wools I fell in love with and bought the most perfect buttons for this sweet sweater...


And everyone approved! I had frogged those 4 inches and was finally back moving forward again...


Yesterday I finished the rest of the body and did the button band and this afternoon did the finishing around the neck, attached the buttons and wove in all the ends. I am so happy with this sweet little sweater and can't wait to gift it to Savannah, but not before a little blocking. Not much, just a little. And just to make sure it stays in tip top shape when its washed, it will need to lay flat to dry. But I don't think that is going to be a big deal. Here she is...


Pattern is Sweet Peasy by Heidi Kirrmaier knit with Knit Picks Swish DK on US size 6

See, it needs just a little blocking and she will be perfect! I will definitely get a picture up of Savannah wearing it. It should fit her fine. I hope. If not it might cry but I think its fine. 

Sometimes when we doubt our abilities to do something, all we need to do is try. Just give it a try. you might find, like I did with this sweater, that we are perfectly capable to doing it! Special thanks to Carol Singletary who pushed me, or rather nudged me in the nicest possible way, to expand my knitting experience and knit a sweater. She was right...of course I can do it! Anything you're afraid of trying? Just give it a go!

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Blogged About It and Won !

About a month ago I entered the 'Blog It To Win It' contest with Knitting Daily. I'd been toying around with the idea of starting a blog, a place to write about all my knitting and design ventures and this contest just nudged me over the edge into the blogging world. So, I started this blog with a story about my First Knitting Project, thus entering the contest, and won for the best design category! It was hard to contain my excitement because I never win anything. Thank you to all the folks at Knitting Daily. They put up a nice post on their blog today recognizing me and the other 2 winners and you can read their post here. They also put together a nice page with tips for new knitters, or even experienced knitters, adapted from all the blog contest entries and you can read those tips here. Number 1 on their list was a nice adaptation from my blog entry which I thought was very nice. 

So lets get to the goods! Here's whats in my prize package...
Just look at those mitts! And the yarn! That's Bijou Spun...bison and bamboo and it looks delicious. The cool thing was I was able to pick and choose what I wanted in my prize package. I have been wanting to make some fingerless mitts for a long time now and these are so perfect! I also chose this...
I've also been wanting to make a nice luxurious cowl and this certainly fit the bill. The yarn is alpaca, merino and silk and although is a bulky weight yarn, I know I'll enjoy knitting this up! I've never worked with yarn this heavy before but it'll be great! I also chose this...


There are so many beautiful things in this magazine, its awesome cover to cover. I have friends of mine who have knitted a few patterns out of this and its just wonderful. That shawl on the cover? Yeah. I'm gonna make it. I love the edging, its stunning! I also chose this...


This wonderful book by Galina Khmeleva who I am honored to call a friend. I've known her for several years now and she has been so supportive of my design work. I'm pretty sure she is going to be coming to Albuquerque sometime next year to do a workshop for our Knitting Guild and I'm going to have her inscribe the book for me! She is such a fantastic person and so unbelievably talented. She has saved Orenburg Lace work from extinction and without her we would not have the beauty of the Orenburg Lace Shawls that we have today. Galina's website is here and you can read all about it. You can also see what her schedule is. If you ever have the chance to take a class or workshop from Galina, I highly recommend it! The last item I chose was this...

This is the Darjeeling Shawl Pattern which is stunning. Its similar to the kind of design work I do in that the body of it is quite simple yet it has a stunningly beautiful lace edging detail. I can't wait to work this one up! I even know the yarn I'm going to use.

Its been a good day. Not only did I win the Knitting Daily 'Blog It To Win It Contest,' I received a large order this evening for a shop in Scottsdale, AZ who wants to carry all of my patterns! I couldn't be more thrilled. Jessica Knit's is a fabulous shop my Mom and I frequented when I was receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale a few years ago. After long days at the Clinic we would go to their shop and relax and knit. We were always greeted by one of their owners and several regulars who were always there. We love this little shop. I am so pleased they want to carry my patterns and support a 'local' designer! If you're ever in the Scottsdale area and need a good knitting shop to hit up, Jessica's is the place to go. Thanks again to the folks at Knitting Daily for the recognition. I appreciate it beyond my ability to tell you. 
It been a good day...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Tuesday Night Knitting Gang

I love Tuesday nights!

Mom and I will usually hit the Starbucks for a coffee around 4 o'clock and then we head to Village Wools. Village Wools is our LYS we love so much. There is a nook in the back of the shop where we all gather to chat and knit until somewhere between 5 and 5:30pm. Comfortable wicker chairs and a sofa surround a coffee table filled with the latest of every knitting magazine you can think of. There are about 6-8 of us that meet at the shop for this time, all of us good friends and up on the latest news in each others lives. Sometimes we shop, sometimes we help others with knitting problems, sometimes we meet new people and invite them to share in the rest of our evening. We know the inventory at our LYS so well that when something new hits it usually doesn't last very long because its our group that gets to it first! Village Wools supports our community of local artists by having shows in the shop highlighting projects done by other knitters in the area. They have been supportive of my design work since I started back in 2011. There are at least 4 samples of my work in the shop and they sell all of my patterns and pass out stacks of my business cards. I have heard stories of other people who have had poor experiences at Village Wools and its hard for me to imagine it. I have had nothing but wonderful and supportive experiences every single time I walk in the door which is at least once a week, maybe more. Village Wools seems to be the "home base" where knitters meet, and competition items are dropped off here for both Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta as well as the New Mexico State Fair. The Albuquerque Dropped Stitch Knitters Guild used to meet monthly in one of the classrooms here until relocating to another location last year. Village Wools is a wonderful shop and like their sign says, they are the Fiber Addiction Specialists, they truly are!

Somewhere between 5 and 5:30 we all head around the corner to Jason's Deli for dinner and meeting up with the rest of the people we knit with on Tuesday evenings. Jason's Deli has been so wonderful in accommodating our group. Often times we will arrive the that table and chairs have already been arranged for us. We can have anywhere from 6 - 15 or more people show up for casual Tuesday Night Knitting. We have recently had some new people join the group and they have been a lot of fun. Its always nice to see what others are doing and working on. Its inspiring! Things you maybe haven't thought about working on you may finally be inspired to do. Everyone that comes to knit with us has such a wide range of knitting knowledge, its amazing. I know no matter what problem I have I can get help from someone from our Tuesday Night Knit Group. 

 I started going to Tuesday Night back in 2008 when I first learned how to knit. It was fun to see what everyone was doing. So many of us have been through so many things over the years now that Tuesday Nights aren't just for fun. They are necessary. It is a necessary time of being with your girlfriends and I didn't understand how important this was until I'd been going a while. As a group we have helped see each other through hard times and we have celebrated with each other in good times. We have seen marriages, divorces, births of babies, deaths of friends, sicknesses and diseases and our group continues to meet and most of us come each week. It is a source of support and fellowship unlike anything else in our lives. The friendships we have built are lasting, special, and unique. Many of us meet outside of Tuesday Nights, several of us travel to knitting events together. If we aren't traveling together we will certainly see them where ever we are going. Tuesday Night isn't just Tuesday Night in this house. Its the most important day of the week.

Savannah's sweater is coming along beautifully. Last night while at Village Wools I picked out the buttons for it and I love, love, love them! If you all knew Savannah and her parents you'd understand just how perfect these buttons are...


Aren't they just darling! Everyone loved them and approved of them last night. I sent this picture to Ariane last night to show her the buttons, I couldn't wait for her to see them! I am getting more and more excited about this sweater. I am now past the point of the 4 inches I had to frog...

The pattern is Sweet Peasy by Heidi Kirrmaier knit with Knit Picks Swish DK on US size 6

Now that I am passed all the problems I had with this and am moving right along I think I will finish this pretty quickly. I'm a little nervous about picking up the stitches along the edges to knit the button band and around the neck but I know if I have any problems, anyone from the Tuesday Night Knit Gang will be there to help me. After all, we were the last ones to leave last night at 9:00pm! Do you belong to a casual and informal knitting group? Is your knitting group an important part of your life like mine is? I would love to hear your stories!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Just A Little Wilder Than Before ...

My friend Meredith is one of the most special, unique, and talented people I know. She is one of my dearest friends; she is caring and generous and loyal. And she is getting married today!

Meredith is a knitter, spinner and a most talented needle felting artist who has long been a member of our Tuesday Night Knitters even in her absence. Please go see her art here at Mousepants! While we are in Albuquerque, Meredith had moved back home to Ruidoso, NM. Though the geographical distance between us grew, she has never been far from anyone's thoughts. I learned about Meredith long before I ever met her. Because she belonged to the Tuesday Night Knitters, she had been friends with my Mom and my grandmother. I met Meredith at my grandmothers funeral where the knitters turned out in a crowd, all wearing knitted shawls in her honor. I was so nervous that day having to speak at the funeral that there isn't much I remember about that day. But I remember meeting Meredith. Over the years our own friendship has grown to something very special.

Meredith has been in Minnesota with her lovely fiance Ben. We spoke yesterday and the biggest thing she conveyed to me was how cold she was! So what do knitters do when our friends are in cold places without the added benefit of any knitted warmth? We send care packages of clothes including knitted sweaters and a shawl...


 I included my "Chicks with Sticks" sweatshirt, which she really needed to have, and several thermal shirts. What you don't see are the several pairs of hand knitted socks behind this pile. We love our Meredith!


Here is Meredith and Ben...who today become Mr. & Mrs. Ben Wilder


Aren't they a wonderfully cute couple?! I miss her dearly but I know she is in good hands with Ben. Mere, I love you to pieces and am so happy for you both. That you have found true happiness and a soul mate in Ben means the world to those of us who love you and care so much for you. I think its more than appropriate for you to be getting married on a Tuesday...its always been the most important day of the week for us! Cheers to you both, you'll have your package shortly!


P.S.
That sleeve on Savannah's Sweater was bugging the shit out of me so I fixed it last night. I found I wasn't really able to continue with the body until that was done. I also frogged the 4 inches on the body that I screwed up so I'm headed in the right direction once again and with a corrected sleeve! Progress!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sometimes all it takes is a finished sock...

1. Its Monday

2. Something was bound to happen. I have to frog about 4 inches of Savannah's Sweater because I did the increases under the arms totally wrong!

3. Sometimes it takes a finishing a sock just to keep you going. I actually finished it, and they match perfectly. Here's the evidence:

Plain socks, Mom's pattern. I think the yarn is Trekking but I'm not sure. Knit on 2 US size 2 circulars

4. Tonight is Stitch Group Night so the day can really only get better from here...

With my knitting mojo already wavering (see my recent posts) I really REALLY needed this finished sock to remind me that I still know how to knit. At least I know now that Jo and David will get their Christmas socks this year and that makes me feel a little better about having to rip out 4 inches of the body on Savannah's Sweater. Geesh. I don't know what went wrong. I must've forgotten how to read, comprehend, and then follow knitting instructions. !@$%&&*! This will be the second time I've ripped out...last time it was only 8 rows. Mom reminded this afternoon that just because I started on lace when I learned to knit doesn't necessarily mean I wont run into a few problems here and there with other projects. And of course she's right. So, I will frog with a vengeance and start the body over again. Last Tuesday when we were at our LYS, Village Wools, for the start of our Knit Night, I spotted the perfect buttons so I'll pick those up tomorrow night when I'm there again.

So, for me, all it takes is reaching the finish line on one project to keep me going on others. Sigh. Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit, ribbit...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Moms Always Know Best...

So, yesterday when I was a little down on my knitting and feeling as though I'd lost a little of my mojo I talked to the smartest person in the world about such knitting things. My Mom. Moms know the answers to everything. Especially my Mom and especially about all things knitting related. She is a knitting, spinning, dyeing and designing genius. Surely there had been a few times where Mom had lost her zen, her knitting mojo. 

I have a lot of committed knitting going on right now, more than I ever have before and that's what has been wigging me out a bit. My own feelings that I have to get them all done right now. Mom has a few projects that she is doing for others but she does a very good job of balancing when she works on them. A little here and a little there, always making sure that her own knitting is always being worked on. This balance has worked well for her and has kept her mojo intact so she suggested I give it a try. There are a bunch of things I'd like to get done for Christmas but none of it really has to. I'd like to finish 5 shawls but that ain't gonna happen folks. So, keeping it in perspective I took inventory. Top of the list right now is Savannah's Sweater before she grows out of it, and a pair of socks I had TOTALLY forgotten about. I have taken to knitting socks for my in-laws for Christmas every year and last year they just didn't make it across the pond to England where they live. Jo's were finished (Jo is my Mother in-law) but her husband David's socks were left unfinished. This is how unfinished they were...


All I have left to really finish is the toe! This is sort of embarrassing. So next to Savannah's Sweater, these socks for my Father in-law David are next on the list. Mom suggested last night that I put the sweater down and work on the finishing these socks. There's nothing left to them really, plus its something new and small and with a finish line I can actually see. Next on the list is Betty's Shawl which was also supposed to be a Christmas gift last year and didn't make it. In between working on the sweater and the shawl I will work on other UFO's I haven't seen in a while & I am going to stop putting these self imposed deadlines on myself. All the projects I am doing for friends, they are not going anywhere and neither are my friends. They understand these things don't happen overnight. It may take a year. But in the end they'll have a little bit of me...and my mojo. 

Moms really do know best!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Zen Of It All

Should there be some unwritten rule somewhere that tells us knitters how many projects we can have going at one time? Cause I have a lot. And I want to start more. But...I have a stash of UFO's like some people have yarn. I'm not sure if its a completely healthy move to start more. I really have so many things I need, I mean, truly need to finish. There's Bettys shawl (which I can write about because she doesnt have a computer and will never read this), Sid's shawl, Melanie's shawl (which is lace), Lisa's shawl, Savannah's sweater (which I need to finish if the child is ever going to be able to wear it), an Angora scarf for myself which I really want to wear this winter along with matching fingerless mitts which have yet to be CO. I have about 7 other shawls just sitting in limbo and they can stay there for a while. There really isn't the need for those as much as the projects I'm doing for other people. I miss lace. So much of what I'm doing isnt lace and I miss it. 

Then there are my own design projects. I have one that is close to having the border started. I'm excited about it because its my first adventure into cables. I love the yarn, love the color, and I love the design. Its easy for me to be and stay in love with my own design projects. But all the other stuff I have going on...I've sort of fell out of love with and I dont know how to get back to the zen I was in when I started everything. I think maybe its because the balance is totally off....the balance of the projects I have that need finishing are all for other people and the UFO's that are just sitting are not. Maybe I should pull out some of the UFO's and start working on them again a bit. Maybe the zen will return with a little balance of what I'm working on. I'm not sure but I'm certainly open to suggestions.

I'm also guilty of more yarn and adding to my stash. That does NOT help my situation because all that makes me want to do it start something new. Usually a new design of some sort. Like my mother, I'm a bit of a color junkie. I see all these new wonderful fabulous colors together and I just want to work with them! Then my mind flashes back to my stash of UFO's and the things I really need to finish. What do you do when you feel you've lost your knitting zen for certain projects....ones that you really need to finish?

Kona hasnt lost his zen...


Too bad he can't offer up much advice other than being cute! Though if he had thumbs the possibilities would be limitless...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Design Element?

For the most part, I am a shawl knitter. Scarves and hats...an accessories knitter. I had been, and still am, terrified of knitting garments. I do extravagant and complicated lace pieces but I wont knit a sweater. People tell me that I'm crazy for this but let me explain. The money that it costs to create a sweater...well, its a lot. Non knitters and non fiber people don't really understand this. Just the cost of the materials can be whopping especially if you're going to use good yarn. Which I would want to do. Its hard for me to grasp this; you spend all this money, follow the pattern and you end up with something you do not like or doesn't fit. That's a lot of time and money invested in something without any guarantees in the end. I prefer a little more assurance in my knitting. Shawls. Shawls fit everyone. You can make them either small or larger to fit your tastes but by and large, shawls are shawls. I LOVE SHAWLS! But I digress.

A few months ago, this past summer, someone I dearly love who has been an important influence in my knitter ventures told me I had to knit a sweater. She said I needed to make a sweater to truly expand my knitting experience. I got it. I understood it. But boy I still felt unsure about it. I left that afternoon, there were others there to help encourage me, with a plan. To overcome my fear of making something I was afraid would not fit or that I would not personally like, the plan was to start off knitting a child's sweater. I knew just the kid I could knit for! Savannah! Savannah is the 6 yr old daughter of friends of mine, Robert and Ariane. I consulted Ariane and asked if she mind if I knit a sweater for Savannah. Of course she didn't mind. She was more than happy to supply the kid for this project. I gradually got more and more excited about this. By the time I got home I had hit up  Ravelry and started searching and looking at all sorts of different patterns for kids. I knew right away the pattern couldn't be too frilly. Savannah is not a frilly kind of girl. She is an energetic, playful, sweet girl who is more apt to play with her toy sword and shield she wears when attending the Renaissance Fairs with her parents than she is with dolls. Savannah is a great kid and the perfect kid to knit for. I chose Heidi Kirrmaier's pattern Sweet Peasy which can be found here on Ravelry. I ordered the yarn in Savannah's favorite color and got to work. I was excited about this! I began to understand why I was told I needed to knit a sweater to expand my knitting experience. There are so many things I was learning from the moment I cast on Savannah's Sweater. I knew I could do this...no problem. This was a top-down raglan sweater that, for me, has been a great way to learn the construction of a sweater. I have been enjoying this knit from the beginning. Fast forward to where I'm at now. I have finished both sleeves and have picked up all the stitches and am now working on the body. But I think there's a problem.

Heidi Kirrmaier's Sweet Peasy pattern knit with Knit Picks Swish DK on US size 6

Do you see it? One sleeve is slightly longer than the other. No matter how may times I look at it, measure it...the right sleeve is slightly shorter than the left. I cannot possibly be the only knitter in the world to have faced this problem. I think what I'm going to do is finish the body then go back and take out the bind off and add more length to the right sleeve. Any other suggestions? I've been looking at this for a few days now and I've been in denial about it. "If I measure it this way, its fine!" But nope. Its shorter than the other one and that's a fact that needs to be fixed. If this were a shawl this could be considered a design element. But in a sweater...not so much. Crap. Its all a learning process right? Right.

Through all my knitting ventures, mistakes and successes, Kona is here to support me. He's so supportive and never criticizes me...



He is the most wonderful, relaxed, and sweet cat I've ever met. He is a Siamese Selkirk Rex and how he came to belong to me is a story for another day!

As soon as I get finished with Savannah's Sweater I promise pictures of it and also pics of Savannah wearing the it. Unless of course I have screwed up more than just the sleeve and it doesn't fit her. That design element may be too much for me to fix! We all recently learned that Ariane and Robert are expecting a baby early next summer so if necessary the sweater will, at some point, fit the new child. Ah, the things we learn along the way, design elements and not!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Brought To You By Facebook...

I decided to start a blog so I would have a place to ramble on about my knitting, my design work and anything else fiber related. All of my Facebook Friends have families of their owns, political opinions, and sports teams they love to show their support for. Some of them, like me, play with yarn. (We're pretty serious about our yarn time). Just a couple things today...

A Facebook Friend of mine, Beth, has lately been posting each day the things she is thankful for. Yesterday her post was about her eldest daughter. It was a sweet and honorable tribute written by a very proud Mama. I couldn't help but to comment on it regardless of the fact that Beth and I went to High School together almost 25 years ago and probably would not still be in touch if not for Facebook . I never had children and therefore knew very little of the things she wrote about however, being a daughter, I know just how tight the bonds between mother and daughter can be. I share such a bond with my own mother. It was a very nice post in the middle of another day filled with uncertainty about the world we live in. She responded to me that she was sorry (that I did not have children) and that she would be more sensitive to things like that when writing. She explained all her posts were about her family and thanked me for keeping her as a friend. I think she was afraid that because I did not have the same kind of family I would somehow be offended by the things she wrote. I quickly wrote her back again. I explained that even though I do not have children, I have my yarn and my art. And even though I don't have the same kind of family I do indeed have family that I am just as close to...and not all of them I am related to! I have had the blessing of choosing many of those whom I call family. Even though we are different we are the same. What makes us tick is the same...our families, our passions about life, what we do, what we love and what we choose to put back out into the world to make it a better place. This is what makes us all the same. So Beth, thank you for reminding me of this. Thank you for your wonderful and thoughtful posts about your family. I love reading them while I knit!

 On the heels of the above and also via Facebook (its a digital age folks, lets face it), I came across an article that again reminded me of just how fortunate I am to belong to such a loving, caring and giving fiber community. Many of these people have become the family I wrote of above. This article was about a woman named Susan Cottrell living in London, Ontario and a loss which was replaced by the kindness of a stranger living in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Mrs. Cottrell, an avid knitter, had been spending her days in Toronto General Hospital by her husbands side as he underwent a double lung transplant. Susan was comforted by a shawl she knit in shades of blues with over 1,500 beads knitted into it as she spent her time next to her husband during his recovery. One evening she put the shawl in a Ziploc bag and placed it on the windowsill for her return the next day. When she arrived, her shawl was missing. Gone. According to the article in the Toronto Star, flyers were placed around the hospital in hopes to recover the missing shawl. Unfortunately, the shawl was never found and never turned in. Enter Katrina King of Fort Collins, Colorado. She read about the loss of this shawl on Facebook in a post from the Toronto Star and took it upon herself to do something about it. She knit a beaded shawl and sent it to the Star to be forwarded to Susan Cottrell in place of hers which had been stolen from the hospital. The folks at the Star sent the gift to 'Ewe Knit' where Susan teaches a knitting class once a week. Such a touching and moving story, the full article can be read here.

My community of fiber friends and family are irreplaceable. If you go back and read my first blog post, its as if my life began when I started to knit. It wasn't just knitting to me and it never has been. It is an outlet for my creative side and allows me to put beauty out into an often ugly world and know that I have made it just a little better than how I found it. That is important to me. Much in the way that it is important to my friend Beth to raise good, solid, mindful, polite, intelligent and socially aware children. That is her contribution to the world. To Katrina King of Fort Collins, Colorado...thank you for being an example of the way we all strive to be in our lives, no matter what road we have taken.

To Beth, I continue to look forward to reading your posts! To Katrina....well played. Very well played...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Scottsdale Shawl

I am so excited for this release! 

It has been a much longer road for this shawl than my others which is probably why I'm a little more excited about it. The Scottsdale Shawl began at least 3, 3 1/2 months ago when I was looking to do something spectacular with a couple skeins of madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light I had in the colorway Jade. Folks, if you haven't seen this colorway in person I'm hear to tell ya...you must. Its a fantastic green with a slight haze of yellow just to bring it up a notch. And in the sun? My God is it gorgeous. If you get anything out of this post its that you must get some of your very own Tosh Merino Light in this crazy, incredible color. I'm afraid photos don't do it enough justice but I do try. 

A couple years ago I spent some time in Scottsdale while in treatment at the Mayo Clinic. I was there in the beginning of October and the weather was impeccable. Scottsdale was far greener than I ever expected it to be. After all, I'd lived in Tucson for about 12 years and knew the brown of the desert pretty well.  There were palm trees and grass and flowers planted everywhere right next to all the cactus. I don't have much of a green thumb (at all) and don't know the names of everything I saw but one of the biggest things I remember was just how green everything was for being in the Sonoran desert. The other thing that struck me was the architecture. If you've been to Scottsdale you know exactly what I'm talking about. Frank Lloyd Wright's influence is seen citywide from the many Prairie Style commercial buildings, lighting fixtures, and even bus stops to beautiful Taliesin West. Anywhere the clean decorative lines of Wright's architecture could be placed, they were there; street lamps, bridges, walkways, and windows. I was amazed at how much of his presence in seen around every corner of the city! I've incorporated some of these easy and basic lines and textures into my Scottsdale Shawl giving it a very organic feel. 

 Scottsdale Shawl knit in madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light colorway Jade on US size 6

Two months ago I submitted the first Scottsdale Shawl, the small size, to Knit Scene for their Accessories 2014 issue and also for Interweave Fall 2014. I was excited about the submission and felt good about it. It took over 6 weeks to hear a response from them, it was a long and difficult wait! I received a lovely letter from Amy Palmer enclosed with my shawl which was returned to me. This is OK because I can continue to try and try, right? Also, this meant I could finish the process of getting the pattern written up and released on Ravelry and Craftsy!


Releasing a new pattern is always exciting! It also means my LYS store will have a new pattern of mine in their shop too...

 
This is also the first time I have a released a pattern in 2 different sizes rather than all my others which are only in one size. I love that slipped stitch down the center back!


 I think this is perhaps my favorite of all of my shawls. I am a sucker for beautiful edgings and this definitely has one. And its so easy too...very easy to memorize believe it or not.


I haven't worn this one yet but can't wait to! And here is a pic of both of them together so you can see the different sizes...

 
 The small size will be gifted to someone very special to me who has meant so much to me in my knitting ventures. 

I will release the pattern later this evening on Ravelry and Craftsy. I have noticed, at least for my patterns, they do well to release in the evening here. Every time I release a new pattern I keep my fingers crossed that it is liked. They are all like my babies and I love them but then again, I am biased! I put them out into the world and hope they are well accepted. 

I would like to give a huge shout out to Tiffany over at Knitting Daily who decided to put my very first blog post up on their Facebook page...the one I entered into their contest. Thanks so much, I appreciate the kind words and traffic! I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will receive good news on November 8th...the day they pick their winners. 

Until next time...stay knitting!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lost in the Bermuda

Finally, Bermuda is done! I loved this pattern but was beginning to be afraid I'd never finish it. This was a pattern that once you got the hang of the method in which it is made you can continue to free form it as you like. So that's what I did. A little here, a little there....a long tapered section here, a short wide one here. I loved working on it. I have so many things I need to finish up and I think that's the reason I'm so happy to be done with this. It feels good to get to the finish line and move onto to something else in progress that needs finishing. I suppose its that way no matter the industry you're in. Here are pics of my Bermuda on Lucy and I think she looks great!

Bermuda pattern by Ilga Leja knit with Knit Picks Chroma on US 6



The next day or so will bring the excitement of another pattern finish, photos and the release of the pattern on Ravelry and Craftsy. I'm really looking forward to it so stay tuned!
What have you finished lately??