Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vanilla Fingerless Mitts Pattern finally released ...

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! 

Before heading into the Holiday Weekend, I wanted to get this pattern released. It has been in demand by many for some time now. My apologies for it taking so long to get out. I did the best I could to make the pattern easy for everyone to understand regardless of if you use DPNS or 2 circulars like I do. I realized all along I had been writing these instructions for 2 circulars so I had to change it a bit. 


If you have any questions at all about the pattern, please feel free to email me directly. The pattern can be found on Ravelry here and on Craftsy here. I have been toying around with the idea of getting my Etsy shop up and running again and current with all my patterns. I understand patterns can now be downloaded instantly just like Ravelry and Craftsy. But I kind of figure that most knitters are on Ravelry or Craftsy so who would really buy my patterns there? I don't want to maintain it if its not going to be terribly useful. If any of you other designers out there have some advice I would love your input. 




I had been in a bit of a knitting funk a few days ago. I didn't know what I wanted to knit on and for the first time in forever I didn't have a huge urge to cast something new on. What did I do? I pulled this out...


This is Cinnamon Stone by VeryBusyMonkey on Ravelry. Mom is knitting it too, shockingly. I am working with Dream In Color Everlasting Sock in....I cant remember the name of the colorway so we'll call it Rust. Mom is knitting it in Crave Filigree in the colorway Bubblegum For Me. She is further along than I am in hers...


Moms yarn is different than mine, and she knits looser than I do, so her looks a little differently than mine. Her yarn is, I think, merino, alpaca and silk. At any rate, after just a couple days mine now looks like this...


I forgot how much I really enjoyed working on this and working lace in general since I haven't done it in quite a while. I should be able to finish this up pretty quickly. Most of the shawls from VeryBusyMonkey are one skein wonders and the last one of hers I did I finished in 11 days. Pretty quick for me. 

Big plans for tomorrow? We are having 9 for dinner and I almost cant wait to get up in the morning so I can get the bird stuffed and into the oven. We are having fabulous company tomorrow and it will be a good time. This time of year always makes me a bit nostalgic for the days of my youth and the things we used to do. At the same time, creating new memories is what makes me happy, giving me fuel for days to come. This time of year is my most favorite. We have neighbors that already have their Christmas lights up! We can officially listen to Christmas music after tomorrow so I'm looking forward to that too. My wish for you tomorrow is to be surrounded by people you love. Whether its ham, turkey, prime rib, or meatloaf, lets all be thankful we have tables to gather around and food to share with one another. We here in Albuquerque are very thankful for the weather we are having because we all know that it isn't this way in most places. Stay warm, stay happy, and stay together. Until next time...Knit On!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Random Saturday

The closer we get to Thanksgiving the more I cant believe how fast this year has whizzed by us all. We stopped by Keller's yesterday afternoon and ordered the turkey for the feast next week and I suspect that Mom and I will get to the rest of the shopping sometime before next Thursday. I am truly looking forward to this year's feast as Dan & Dilshani and their 2 eldest kids will be joining us at the table. There is much to be thankful for! Today is a bit random so bear with me...
 
First off, I finished my mitered square free form piece inspired by Myra Wood's class last weekend. I cant believe that was a week ago already. Here are the pics from beginning to end...


Blocking the whole piece...


...and...


Tah Dah!!! I am really pleased with how it turned out, for my first time anyway. I worked with a sport weight yarn and cast on 41 stitches for the 3 larger mitered squares in the middle. The 4th upper right square is composed of 4 smaller squares of 21 stitches cast on each. After stitching them together I just picked up the stitches along the sides and knit 10 rows of seed stitch. That was it. It was a nice study in this new technique. The sweater I will make eventually will be made from fingering weight yarn and will likely take me years to finish. Either way, the concept and technique is too awesome not to make a sweater with it. After all, thats what Myra had in mind. 

I picked up a new skein of yarn last week from Village Wools. I have known about the Cat Mountain Fiber display they have there for some time. I was gifted some of it for my Birthday last year from Margaret and Frankie, God bless them. Well, as I was walking past on my way to the register the week before I noticed something new there. Lace weight and fingering weight hand painted that was new. I told myself if the skein I really liked was still there when I came back this week I would grab it up. Sure enough it was. So I did...


Isnt is gorgeous?! I love it. I had never seen anything like this from Cat Mountain Fibers at Village Wools before. Thats not to say it hasnt been around, I just had never seen it in the shop before. I have no idea what I'll do with it. 

If you have been following me for any time at all recently then you'll know that we are doing a 'handmade' Christmas this year. Meaning, all the gifts we are gifting, with few exceptions, are all hand made. Even if not made by us, we are ensuring that the gifts are handmade by someone! I am so excited as a few of the things not made by me are beginning to arrive...


Believe me, there will be pictures of the gifts when they are opened!
 
I woke up this morning to this in the living room...


...and I realized that my favorite time of year really is here and now. Warm fireplace, friends, family gatherings, lots of food and everything that comes with it. Its my favorite time of year. This year, I cannot wait to get the tree. I usually feel that way but this year is special. Dilshani's whole family will be celebrating with us and I cannot wait. We plan to go to River of Lights together, watch The Polar Express in our jammies with hot chocolate together, exchanging gifts with one another and breaking bread together. I am so blessed to have found my best friend and am truly excited for this Holiday Season to really get underway. We usually dont get our tree much sooner than about a week and a half before Christmas as we always get a live one, but I think even I will be pushing for one a little sooner. I feel like a kid this year!

I hope you are all staying warm, and inside!, and knitting away. Until next time...Knit On!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Camp STITCHES Part Deux

Lets see, what did I not go over yesterday?! Saturday afternoon was a free one. We had class from 9-12pm and the rest of the day up until 7:30 was free. Mom and I did some knitting and some napping. All of the others were busy finding their way around Albuquerque to the knit shops or the Art Fair that was going on down at Expo New Mexico. We spent some time with Rick in the afternoon after he'd returned from the Art Fair. I enjoyed talking to him tremendously. He is funny, witty, and very animated. Never a dull conversation with Rick! That evening we were invited to dine with a few others at the fine dining restaurant on the Tamaya property called The Corn Maiden. We accepted and also extended the invite to another camper named Evelyn. Evelyn was an elderly lady who used a walker and arrived late to Camp STITCHES. We wanted to include Evelyn in as much as we could because, well, we were afraid she was sort of getting left behind simply because she moved slower than everyone else. She was a very kind lady with a funny dry sense of humor. I enjoyed her company. Dinner at The Corn Maiden was one of the best meals I had ever had. It was incredible. Yes, I took pictures of my food. Because I'm crazy like that. I started off with a Caprese salad that was the best I had ever had. Heirloom tomatoes with stuffed mozzarella and a blood orange reduction drizzled over the top of it. OMG...


 Yup. That's a big ole' orange slice in the middle. The whole thing was so refreshing. Best Caprese salad I have ever had.  I ordered the duck for my  main entree. I have no idea what kind of demi glace was on top but it was amazing.It was served with a potato pate which was kind of like potatoes au gratin only in a nice cut out shape. Served along side was broccolini and the whole thing was plated on butternut squash puree. Simply divine...


It was perfect. Mom had a lobster and pasta dish after having the best corn bisque she'd ever had. Lots of good food! The food the Tamaya served us was also really something. They took great care in preparation and presentation and always made sure everyone had what they wanted or needed. Everything was gluten free or had a gluten free or vegetarian option. The staff was remarkable. Everyone was always smiling. They seemed genuinely happy to be there and that's saying something about the company they work for. If we were walking down the halls carrying anything, if we passed a staff member they would always ask us if there was anything they could do, or could carry for us. It truly was a resort. A getaway. Unfortunately, my bestie Dilshani could not getaway with us. I always take lots of pics, not only for my blog, but to make sure she can always feel like she is a part of where ever we are doing whatever it is we are doing. Dilshani's idol Janel Laidman was one of the teachers on the trip and she was heartbroken that she was missing the opportunity to meet her in a more intimate and one on one environment. So, I tried to bring it to Dilshani....


That's Janel wearing a lovely headband of BFL fiber! Very Janel! We also had her sign a book for Dilshani which we left as a surprise for her. She was tickled to pieces to receive it Tuesday evening at knitting! Meanwhile, back in my classroom, I was working away and knitting pieces. Here is a pic of Myra's new book...


I saw my friend Debbie's copy and she had hers spiral bound at Staples or Kinko's or something. I think I'll do the same since it will be far more easier to work with having it spiral bound. At any rate, I had Myra sign it for me...of course...


Saturday evening at 7:30 we had Jeannie Randolph, owner of Fiesta Yarns, come and give a presentation to us about color. Seemed simple enough but there were so many things I didn't know about and found the presentation to be fascinating. I didn't get a picture of her but should have. I spoke with her after she talked to us about possibly doing a program for our Guild. She was very enthusiastic about it and said Yes immediately, gave me a card and said to contact her anytime. I was so thrilled about that because I know everyone in Guild would love to hear about the same things we learned about. Did you know there are 2 organizations, neither of which I can remember, that their job is predicting which colors will be popular 24 months from now. This is heavily influenced by the fashion industry but even still. Wow. This affects the kinds of colors that companies pay attention to when it comes to dyeing yarn. It was really fascinating. Sunday was our last day of classes and I spent a lot of time knitting away and mattress stitching pieces together. Yesterday I talked so much about Myra's class. There really isn't anything else I can say other than GO BUY HER BOOK. You wont be sorry. I imagine you'll be inspired to build a sweater. Meanwhile, back at Moms classroom, she was achieving amazing results from her instruction....


This is one of my favorite pictures of Mom and Janel from the weekend. Mom was so happy! The class she took was titled "Color Tricks in Spinning" so she learned many new ways to incorporate color, how to do it to achieve the affect you want and most of all...she learned how to make a gradient yarn! I am so stinkin' excited about that. When I saw it come off the wheel I put in an order for 900 yds of fingering weight gradient please! I cant wait to have enough to design a shawl with.
Sunday evening we would all be meeting at 7:30 to share what we've learned. I have to give it to the spinners, they were the most creative in what they did. Here's Mom prepping for it...


They all wore BFL braids as headbands...holding their spinning cards fanned out and then started to sing. As soon as the first note hit I understand why she didn't tell me about any of this! They say "Albuquerque Was A Turkey!" Ironically, I grew up singing that song around the Holidays in Ohio. Little did I know that I would eventually end up Albuquerque. Mom taught everyone the lyrics and they practiced and practiced until this came out hilariously!


When they were all done with the song, they turned around and flapped their fanned out spinning cards like turkey feathers!


Rick was so tickled that he came closer to take his own photos...


Patty's class went next, then we were next. It was all in good fun. It was also goodbye for many of the ladies that had early flights out Monday morning. So we all lingered for a few and hugged each other and said good bye to those we had come to know. It was such a special time for me. My very first STITCHES event and it was Camp STITCHES. I felt very blessed to have been able to be a part of it all. Mom and I took Monday morning rather leisurely. Check out wasn't until noon but we still had breakfast to get to at 8am. We did breakfast then after that we packed up and headed out. I took one last pic from our room and then we headed on...


I think it was about 10:30 when we pulled out. Audrey Grace was very pleased to have up home when we got here....


She was all over us when we walked in! We had so much crap between Mom and I...


Remember the yarn bags that we all got when we first arrived?! I wrote about them in yesterdays post. This was what we got....


And a closer look at Moms spinning which is amazing....the color work is spectacular...


Here's an extra close up the gradient that she did which is AMAZING...


Pretty spectacular, right?! I KNOW! Here is what Myra gave us when we first got into class...


And Audrey Grace was very curious...


I know I showed this pic yesterday but I ran right out and bought the necessary equipment to get started on my steam blocking...


And this is what I'm doing with it now...this was last night...


And as of this afternoon I have one side of the border completed...


How cool is that?! I really like it and have a feeling I'll love it when its done and has borders on all four sides. I will continue to post as I go along and share with you what I'm doing with this process. I still haven't decided yet on worsted weight yarn or fingering weight yarn for the sweater. I don't know yet.

Handmade Holiday is coming together just nicely. But the more I do the more I am beginning to think I will not get those 2 shawls done until after the first of the year. This is okay. The only deadline I'm on is one to myself. More Holiday stuff arrived in the mail today and I cannot wait for them to be opened by my friends! I hope they really like them! So I'm continuing on with my knitting and such. Would love to hear what you are all up to and if you are doing Holiday Knitting this season. Until next time...Knit On!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Camp STITCHES 2014 Part 1

Its been a couple of weeks since I was last here. I have certainly intended to be far more of a regular blogger than I have been lately, for that I apologize! There is lots to share with you though so let me get to it!

This past weekend my Mom and I went to Camp STITCHES 2014 which was held right here in our backyard in Bernalillo, NM, about 20 minutes away at the swanky Tamaya Resort and Spa. I've known about this retreat since we signed up for it a few months ago. I will admit, I had no idea that it had anything to do STITCHES West, STITCHES East, STITCHES Midwest, etc. No clue. I guess its been a few years since they had Camp STITCHES. It wasn't until I made a Facebook post on my Group page, Claudia Donnelly Designs, that it hit me. I Googled it and added the link in to my posting so people could check it out if they wanted to. It was only then that I realized what it was. I got even more excited because I have never been to a STITCHES event before and this would be my first one. The class I originally signed up for was a class on twisted stitches to be taught by Candace Eisner Strick. About six weeks ago I got a phone call from someone at the Camp STITCHES HQ that I needed to choose another class because the one I originally chose had been cancelled. Apparently I was the only one who signed up for the class! At any rate, I signed up instead for Myra Woods class "Multi Directional Madness." After taking a look at the supplies that I was going to need to take with me to Camp, I had no idea at all what I was getting myself into. Mom had sort of explained it to me from the little knowledge she had of Myra Wood. Others who have taken classes from Myra in the past assured me that I would have a good time. I wasn't so sure. I mean, the only sweaters I have ever knit have been for babies and kids. I would probably be the only person in the class who had never made an adult sweater before. (turns out this was exactly the case!) Mom convinced me I would have a good time regardless and that, even if I didn't want to continue with anything in the class I would most certainly walk away with knitting information I didn't have before and that this was ALWAYS a good thing. Not to mention, we were going to the Tamaya Resort and Spa. We were going to have a good time! So I gathered up some yarn, a lot of yarn, and all my needles and notions, and 2 yards of muslin fabric courtesy of Sidney and packed for the long weekend. I over packed as usual, as I do for every trip I make anywhere. But I was ready. Since Sid and Gus were out of town, we stopped by their place to feed their cats. Before climbing into the car, we stopped for a selfie in their driveway. Our "heading to Camp STITCHES 2014" selfie...

 
With the sun starting to drop down, the light was good and this picture ended up being one of my favorites of the whole weekend. A short car ride later and we were pulling up to the door of the hotel. Mom had been out there before for a lunch thing at The Corn Maiden, the fine dining establishment on the property, so the ride was a bit familiar to her. I had never driven out to the property before so it was a first for me. The grounds are gorgeous. The light was beginning to shine on the mountains and it was so gorgeous. We checked in and Bryson helped us, and all our loads of stuff, to our room.  When we got there we had an incredible view facing the Sandia Mountains...


After we put everything away in our room Mom and I went into Bernalillo for dinner at The Range Cafe, one of our favorites. When we got to the restaurant, I had one of these...


This was a blood orange margarita. I don't often have them but as Mom and I were getting the car from valet to go to dinner, I received a phone call from my disability attorney. I don't know if I shared with you all that I applied for disability over two years ago. I have been through appeal after appeal after appeal. I had a hearing in July and received the news about 3 weeks ago that I lost my hearing too. That aside, my attorney called to tell me that she had gone over my case with her superior and they do not feel there are any grounds for another appeal and request for a second hearing. To say I am feeling very discouraged and defeated is an understatement. So I thought I'd have a margarita. I told my attorney I would get back to her after the weekend. Truthfully, I just couldn't think about it. I was there to have a good time and I couldn't bear to begin to think about it all. But I digress. Dinner was fabulous. I had a pistachio penne pasta dish with sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. It was incredible. The tequila didn't hurt either. We finished dinner and headed back to the hotel for the Welcome Gathering which was at 7:30. As we walked into the room where the Gathering was, it was clear the weekend had begun. There were bags of yarn on the table, one for everyone, and another skein with a matching pattern, one for everyone, and yet women were almost fighting for these bags! I thought it was hilarious. I didn't even know anyone yet but I did notice there were a few people that were checking the color of yarn in each bag either to be assured they had the best one or to see if there was another they could trade with. I got such a kick out of it! I peered into a bag, softly picked it up by its handles, took one of the packages with a skein of yarn and a pattern and Mom and I found seats on one of the sofas near the fireplace. Mom instantly noticed Rick Mondragon and re-introduced herself since it had been rather a long time since she had seen him. Rick used to live here in Albuquerque and used to be a member of our Guild. If you are not familiar with Rick, just Google him. Read. Learn. Then go take a class from him if you ever get a chance to either at STITCHES, or TNNA, of Vogue Live or where ever. He is wonderful. I enjoyed my time around him this weekend tremendously. Back to the Gathering. We all introduced ourselves and told where we were from and then the teachers for the weekend did the same. Mom was taking a spinning class from Janel Laidman and I was taking a class from Myra Wood. Patty Lyons was there teaching a class on Spectacular Sweater Success, and Deborah Jarchow was there teaching how to Double Your Fun on the Rigid Heddle Loom. They were all fantastic...

from left to right: Janel, Deborah, Patty and Myra

The next morning started our classes after breakfast. First let me say, Myra is so fun! She is wonderfully casual and so enthusiastic about her knitting. She is so crazy talented. When we arrived in class each of us had a swag bag full of goodies including a pencil, pen and pad of paper, a pair of scissors, a package of colored pencils, and a folder of handouts along with some important stuff like Twizzlers and Tootsie Rolls! We started to learn a bit about what we were going to be doing while there. There were 8 of us in class which was AWESOME because it was so intimate and personal and allowed her the chance to, at times, be one on one with all of us. I was absolutely the only there who had never made an adult sweater. Anyone who knows me knows my fear with sweaters which is this: I am terribly afraid of sinking good money for good yarn into something that I either wont like in the end or wont fit me. I am a sister of plenty and many patterns out there, while looking awesome on a model, would look um....not so good on me. No matter how big I made it. It may just not flatter me. What I discovered that this class I was taking was all about not only making a sweater that was tailor made to fit my body with choices I make about its style, but making fabric I liked to do it with. It all starts with design inspiration. We cut out a mini template and then walked around the hotel a bit placing the template on the floor looking for inspiration about design, lines, texture, color, etc...


Next was using the mini template on paper to sketch out some design concepts of what we think we might like to do with our knitting. Then it was time to take all our measurements with a partner and get it all transferred to Pellon. Once we had our Pellon measured and cut out we used that to trace it onto our muslin fabric which would become our own personal sweater templates. The rest of it is all about making the fabric to fill in the spaces. The kinds of shapes that translate best for what we are doing is modular knitting. There are so many different things you can do its crazy. The STITCHES team brought all of Myra's sweaters that usually tour with STITCHES so we could see them all and she could use them to teach. Here are a few pictures of the sweaters that Myra referred to the most...


This sweater is in her new book "Knit In New Directions" which was out this year. Myra had a bunch of slides that she shared with us wherein she had documented almost the entire process of making this sweater. All the way from a sketch to a template completely filled in with this wonderful fabric. I encourage you to buy her book and get inspired the way I was! 


This was another sweater that, through slides, we saw from conception through to completion. It was amazing. I couldn't possible relay everything I learned in a blog post but Myra is amazing and a true artist...


Once we had our muslin cut out, front and back, the next step was to translate one of the designs we came up with onto the muslin, or come up with a new one, or, like me, wing it all together and start knitting. I started with mitered squares in one of the neutrals that I brought that I new I had a few more skeins of at home. Chances were pretty good that, of the yarn I brought, none of it was going into a sweater. I would want to carefully handpick my yarns for that. But if it were going into a sweater I knew it could. That was the important part. The rest of it was all about making the fabric and the in's and out's and the tricks of the trade. If you're going to do this, having her book is critical.

Each morning and afternoon we had breaks. Friday and Sunday the afternoon snack was an entire Make Your Own Trail Mix bar. It was incredible....


That evening my class homework was to knit my mitered square. Which I did successfully...


The next day we got a chance to use the Rowenta Ultrasteam which is what Myra uses to steam block her pieces as she goes. See, if you steam block as you go, then put your pieces together as you go, then you're filling in your template with the correct size. There is no need to block in the end or anything. This making fabric thing...I had it down. I knew the drill and was so excited to get going with making more pieces. For this neutral I was working with I had in mind more of a free form thing than a sweater. Although I will make a sweater with this method. I will. I will. To do the steam blocking we used the Rowenta and a Quilters Cut N Press...like this...


I bought these the day I came home. Not that I was in a hurry or anything. I have to stress though, if you are getting the Rowenta for the purposes of steam blocking you'll want to get the white one with the temperature gauge on it, NOT the blue one which does not have a temperature gauge on it. The steam just doesn't get hot enough. So, I started making my pieces. Then we learned how Myra joined them together with what she called the 'modified mattress stitch.' I had this down...


It really was an incredible class. I came out of it completely inspired. Here is me and Myra...


...and Patty Lyons...


Mom and I sat at the same table as Patty several times and let me tell you, this is one funny lady. She is from Brooklyn and there is no mistaking it. The jokes, the conversation, the stories, the laughter, the everything that was shared between the teachers and all us students was really something special. It was so special in fact, that there is a chance the Camp STITCHES 2015 may be held at the Tamaya against next year. The resort was amazing, the food, the staff, the everything. It was amazing. And everyone seemed to really, really like Albuquerque.

Camp STITCHES could not have come together as successfully as it did without the efforts of Mavis Smith. Mavis sat next to me in class with Myra and let me tell you, she had one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard in my life. When you hear Mavis laughing, you laugh right along with her whether you know whats going on or not. This is Mavis and Myra...


I have but only skimmed the surface of what happened this past weekend. I have more pictures and stuff to share tomorrow. I am going to close for now. I had no idea this post would be as long as it is! Mavis, if you're out there reading this...THANK YOU. Thank you for creating an amazing event for so many ladies this weekend. I really appreciate all your effort and hard work that went into making this the success that it was. Myra and Patty...if anything ever happened to your knitting the two of you could go on the road together and a comedy team. Thanks for the laughs! Rick...it wouldn't have been the same without you. Period. Janel...THANK YOU for holding up a sign & signing a book for my BFF in the whole wide world who is your biggest fan. And thanks for giving Mom such a great weekend. She is already starting to pass the gospel around! I cannot wait for my next STITCHES event. I somehow feel like I'm an old friend now but I suspect there are thousands that feel this same way.

Please check back with me tomorrow as I fill in some gaps and share some more pictures from the weekend. Until then...Knit On!