Happy Local Yarn Shop Day!

Today’s calendar includes several ‘holidays’ to support your local businesses. It’s record store day so go support your local record dealer. And it’s local yarn shop day. It’s the inaugural year. I’m prone to talking smack about such made up ridiculousness but whatever, any excuse to buy yarn, yes?

Not as though I need an excuse. (First though, notice the snow. Snow!?! It’s been years since I’ve seen snow! Gonna try to avoid it for a few more years now…)

Yesterday’s trip to Purl in the Pines, in Flagstaff, Arizona was highly successful! It’s a super shop. The only thing I’d change…bring it closer to San Francisco!

It’s a clean, bright, mostly uncluttered space, loaded with great yarns. There was room for people to pass each other without tripping over piles of stuff on the floor. The displays were neat. The yarn walls looked great! I know how much work that takes to keep so tidy! It’s worth the effort though. It makes for a great shopping experience.

Anybody else love buttons? They got ’em! Once upon a time, someone told me the guy who sells those buttons is an old school traveling salesman…buttons in his trunk driving from shop to shop, peddling his wares. Clearly, this is what I aspire to. I’ve got the driving around to yarn shops down!

Here’s what I bought! From left to right, that’s three skeins of Mountain Meadow Cody, a Dream in Color Smooshy mini skein, a skein of Mary Gavan hand dyed yarn and a skein of The Croft Shetland tweed from West Yorkshire Spinners.

I’m excited about it all but the Mountain Meadow is what I’m most excited about! It’s a 100% grown & made in the USA product. A wonderful squishy merino from Wyoming and it’s a female owned company too! It’s lovely and soft, a bit more dense than say, Brooklyn Tweed. Perhaps on par with a Quince yarn. It’s rustic but not as a euphemism for scratchy. I love it.

And here’s the whole road trip pile…

Three yarn shops, three different states and a whole lot of awesome!

Happy Local Yarn Store Day! Now I’m off to Yarn and Coffee in Santa Fe! I expect more great yarns!

Sin City Knit Shop

On my 7th day, I finally made it to Las Vegas’ yarn shop…Sin City Knit Shop. First though, there was a stop at Bad Owl Cafe, a Harry Potter themed coffee shop. I don’t drink coffee (or butter beer) but I thought the understated theme was pretty awesome.

After that, it was off to Sin City Knit Shop. It was a lovely visit to a well appointed shop with friendly staff.

The woman who greeted us (because after my music friends left, a knitting friend showed up two hours later! Woooo!) knew the tourist drill, she instantly showed us to the local yarns.

They had a selection of local yarns (in multiple gauges), as well as some super cute project bags (awesome fabric selection!) It was the fur Pom Poms that really caught my eye though…

…the price, yes. But more importantly, check out that snap! Not only does it give amazing stability, it gives amazing flexibility. A Pom Pom that’s entirely and easily removed or reattached at any moment. Genius!! I didn’t buy any, but I love that they exist.

And then, there’s the shawl wall! All amazing! So many terrific samples!

I did buy a couple things…

The bottom three aren’t mine, just the top four. It’s a great pile though. Mine are a local hand dye, a purple Mirasol yarn for my current WIP, Kiwi from Zealana (a New Zealand possum yarn) and a skein of Cashmere 16 Fine (a cashmere merino blend with a super springy chain construction. It’s so light and lofty. Can’t wait to use it!)

Next stop: New Mexico’s self proclaimed premier yarn shop in Albuquerque! They have wolf hair yarn…super curious!

A Parade of Hats

Anybody else tune in for the Olympic opening ceremony last night?   They say Parade of Nations.  I say Parade of Hats.  (this post is pic heavy so may take a bit longer to load!)

There were some winners.  Mostly, though, they played it safe.  Lots of bland.  I’ll skip over the bland and just get right to the highlights.

hungary olympic hat 2018slovenia olympic hat 2018 pyeongchang

Or, is that highlighters?  Kudos to Hungary and Slovenia!  I like their bold use of color!  Slovenia has a nice texture too!  I like texture.  Might as well have a bit of fun with it.

Finland gets points for color and patterning too!  It’s not knit though, so not as exciting to me.

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 7.06.34 PM

Croatia and Latvia both had striking red designs.  The Latvian hat is probably the one knitter’s will want to make most.

croatia parade of nations hat 2018 pyeongchanglatvia parade of nations hat pyeongchang 2018

The Latvian design in 2014 at Sochi was also a knitter’s favorite.  No surprise given the well known history of Latvian knitting!  It was a black and white hat, highly patterned.  The patterning was of the pictorial variety with symbols taken from a historic Latvian town, where all the buildings were patterned in a similar way.  I have some very specific images in my head and yet, google has failed to produce any evidence, that what I speak of is based in reality.

At any rate, in my mind, Latvia is the reigning two-time Parade of Hats gold medal holder.  They hit all the right notes, classic but modern. Striking but wearable.  And, knitter’s want to make it.  Well done, Latvia!

There were lots of other nice hats.  Knitters have made and will continue to make these hats for years to come.

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 6.36.33 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-09 at 7.07.15 PM 2

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 6.56.39 PM

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 6.24.45 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-09 at 6.32.59 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-09 at 6.51.32 PM

I think the Gap has made most of these hats too.   So, ya know, not exactly my wheel house.  If I want interesting and unique designs and if I want to see handmade, I’ve got to turn to the spectators.

So far, the 2018 PyeongChang coverage hasn’t included long, slow, sweeping crowd shots.  I’m wondering if that’s because the crowd hasn’t really gathered yet.  More people definitely make for more interesting crowd pans.

I did find one good crowd though!  The girl in the front is wearing an interesting stocking cap.  Heathered and striped and maybe even cabled?

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 8.38.50 PM

Her brother (?) has a cute hat on too.   And see the purple pom-pom behind them?  That variegated business is absolutely handmade!

I spotted Team USA snowboarder Jaime Anderson too.  Looking fashionable in an on-trend bulky knit pom pom hat.

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 9.36.02 PM

Very Knit Collage.  I’m really more interested in the guy next to her though…check out that jacket!

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 9.25.31 PM

That’s the Canadian snowboarder’s jacket!  A printed version of a hand knit sweater!  So cool! Fashion and function! Well done, Burton! All of the athletes get a hand knit sweater too.  I imagine those will be saved for the apres-ski though!

Here’s a link to more photos of the sweaters and the rest of the gear from Burton.  The video with the company founder is very off-the cuff but it’s perfect.  Take note Ralph Lauren, that’s how it’s done!  They really did a great job here!  I love these jackets.

The Where’s Waldo of Knitwear is far over though.  My mission is to find this hat again…

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 6.36.19 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-07 at 6.42.48 PM

This is snowboarder Shaun White hugging family after his 2006 gold medal run and after his 2010 gold medal run.  I think the girl in the hat is his sister.  That is definitely some handmade love right there!  Shaun competed in 2014, the hat was no where in sight and he did not medal.  Coincidence??  I don’t think so.

It’s 2018, Shaun White is back.  I hope the hat is back.  I’ll be looking for it!

I’d tell you about my own progress on the Hat Halfpipe but there is none.  Two runs have both ended in an Aerial Unwind.

2018-02-10_09-52-12_270

Third time’s the charm, right?


 

2017: Year in Review

I knit a lot of things this year, completing 38 pieces.

Among them, quite a few pieces with eyes.

Only 11 hats.  2018 will definitely include more hats!

A variety of neck things, including shawls, cowls and scarves.

Four adult sized sweaters.  Not a bad number but in 2018 I’m going to focus on general wearability.  Turns out Bill Murray & even cat sweaters are sort of specialty items.  I need daily wear in 2018.

Some things didn’t work out.  I practiced my frogging frequently.

Of course, there was new stash acquisition.  And these are only the skeins I shared.  There’s quite a few that snuck into the house unnoticed by anyone else!

The 2017 Knit of the Year is a tough choice.  The most worn piece has been this Stephen West shawl mash-up.  It includes elements of Dotted Rays, Doodler and Esjan.  It’s been my favorite all year.

2017-05-07_19-34-30_012

The Bill Murray sweater is pretty awesome though.  Perhaps an honorable mention for Bill.  He deserves to be acknowledged.

2017-12-07_21-30-49_077

I visited new bay area yarn shops The Royal Bee in Pacifica and Black Squirrel Yarns in the East Bay.  Both get the FogKnits seal of approval!  I also visited Knitterly in Petaluma, love it up there too!  The California National Wool Show and Stitches West also made it into my schedule with great success!

I even got carried away with a bit of cross stitch.

There were many nights (and even a few days) of knitting at my local…

And, I managed all that craftiness while waking up at 6 am and going to work.

It’s been a year of creativity!  Thanks for joining me through it all!  The likes and kind words of appreciation are always so lovely.  I look forward to crafting even more in 2018.  I’ll be looking to you for inspiration and knowledge.  It’s the least we can do to keep things sane and grounded in the new year.

Happy New Year!  Hope you all have a festive (and safe) calendar flip!  See you in 2018!

 

Knitsmas

Despite swearing off the holiday knitting trend each year, December 15th typically finds me elbows deep in knitsmas panic.  Of course, this year is no different.   So I’ve got no knitting pictures to share.  At least not for another week.  Here’s a little hint though…

2017-12-17_11-13-41_543

I love a good stashbuster!

My publicly disclosed WIPs have been getting a little love.

2017-12-15_14-18-38_619

Only a little though.  I think I did 3 rows on ^this^ day.  There was more celebrating than knitting…

2017-12-14_15-20-04_443

My contract at work ended.  I stretched a six-month contract into more than a year.  That’s not too bad.  I marked the occasion with concerts and cocktails all weekend long.

2017-12-14_23-29-08_159

Soon though, I’ll have so much knitting to share, it’ll be unbelievable!  I’m going to swatch for my “christmas” sweater this week.  (meaning the sweater I start on Christmas Day not a holiday themed sweater).  It’s going to be blue and striped.  I’m going to use this yarn from last year.

2017-04-09_10-35-04_878

Noro Rainbow Roll.  I’m going to pair it with some unspun Icelandic Plutolopi.  Just gotta get through Knitsmas first!


 

Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends

2017-12-09_12-54-59_773

Last night’s show was…??

I’m having trouble coming up with one word to sum it up.  I’m conflicted about it.  On one hand, the musicians were fabulous and delivered a performance worthy of their world renown.  On the other, some artistic choices were questionable, tone-deaf at the bare minimum.

Here’s the setup:

2017-12-08_21-02-56_665

The stage setup was minimal and the lighting was sparse.  The colors changed slowly between songs but not during the segments.

From left to right, Bill Murray, Mira Wang on violin, Vanessa Perez at the piano and Jan Vogler with the cello.

The show was about two hours, including the multiple encores.  In the beginning, the narration was quite separate from the music.  Bill did a reading, the musicians followed him with a selection.  The theme, in a broad sense, was American classics.

Bill’s first few readings were Ernest Hemingway, Walt Whitman and James Fenimore Cooper.  The music following was Bach, Schubert and Ravel.

As the evening progressed, the narration merged with the music and by the end, I’d say we even got a few ‘songs’.   The show ended with a West Side Story medley of Somewhere, I Feel Pretty and America.   The first encore was El Paso, a Marty Robbins song familiar to me through the Grateful Dead.  The second encore was Angel of Montgomery, unlike no version of the song I’ve ever heard.

Now for the complaints, one selection in particular, a reading from the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  The controversy over this one is a well known one, stemming from the prolific use of the n-word.  In today’s atmosphere, I have a problem with a room full of white people sitting, literally, at the top of the hill, listening to it.

With all of the conversations about race going on these days, I don’t think this selection added to it.  I’m sure the rationale for including it is a convenient soundbite about the importance of having such discussions and this is just another example being brought to the table.  Blah Blah Blah.  If that was the case, I missed the part where meaningful discussion was had.  To me, it was an old white guy using inappropriate language.   There wasn’t any context for including it.  It was just presented.  Given the plain presentation, it’s left to the listener to come to their own conclusion.  My conclusion:  meh.  If I was the producer, it would have been cut.

Of all the works selected, having one poor choice isn’t huge.  Still though, it seems like an obvious candidate for replacement.  Interestingly, the Huck Finn selection is one track not available to stream on Amazon.  All the other tracks are available but the Huck Finn track is listed as ‘album only’.  I’m curious about that.

The other ‘artistic’ choices fall under the umbrella of sexism.  I think the ladies, exceptionally talented and passionate artists, were relegated to the role of props.  Bill made his entrance at the top of the show flanked by them, holding hands.  It just felt off.  I doubt these women made entrances like this at other performances and I doubt it was their idea.   It colored the entire show.  These talented women were not treated as equals.  And we all know who got the biggest paycheck on that stage.  It was certainly not the women.

At another point in the show, during a cello-piano duet, Bill and Mira, the violinist, did a bit of tango.  They did a little toe-point step in hold and then opened into a little spin from Mira.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.  It stuck out being the only choreography of the night.  Beyond that though, Mira was ‘summoned’ to dance and throughout most of it, her back was to the crowd.  Again, it just felt off.  It wasn’t natural and it was a bit out of place.

Given the time we live in, I think it’s appropriate to call out sexism and racism.  These are small things to be sure, coming from an old white guy though, it doesn’t sit right with me.  Was the show awful and terrible? no.  Was it tone deaf?  Yes.  That’s the most generous way to put it.  The intention was not to be offensive.  It just fell a bit short of amazing and genius and all the other praised heaped on.

It makes me think, Bill surrounds himself with Yes Men and people are so smitten just being around him, they don’t call him on it.   To read reviews, specifically of the Huck Finn track, calling it genius and a breath of fresh air seems like a cult of personality to me.   I don’t agree with those assessments.

Oh well, can’t win ’em all.  Most of it was good.  I just can’t give it rave reviews like everyone else but I’m not writing letters demanding my money back either.  It was a fun experience.  Frankly, the sweater is bigger than the show for me.  The show is just sort of an aside.  A cap to the whole experience that started when I read a ridiculous call for a Bill Murray art show.  Obviously there’s a cult of personality involved here.  Who am I kidding?  That was a given from day one.

The most unexpected part of the evening:  the number of hecklers.  Fools in the very back row (naturally) shouting things like ‘THIS SUCKS’ at the quiet moments.  They were shut down quickly and loudly by people around them.  I think it was two gentlemen in particular, maybe it was actually 3 though.  They reminded me of the people who yell ‘FREEBIRD’ at concerts.  LOL.  Poor guys, apparently they thought they were coming to see a comedian do stand up?  The first 20-30 minutes were rough for them.  Bach and Schubert are certainly not Freebird.

The best part of the evening:  Talking to people about my sweater :)  People were interested and amazed, so that was fun.  After all the work that went into it, two sentences doesn’t do it justice but you’ve heard about it all already, so I’ll spare you the repetition.

It’s on to new knitting now.  I’ve got a little bit of time for Christmas knitting and I’ve been jonesing for hat binge.  I haven’t knit a hat since August and that was only my second of the year.  I’m ready!  Bring on the hat binge! It’s gonna be good!!


 

Weekend Yarn Shopping

Obviously, I don’t NEED yarn.

2017-04-16_09-50-02_036

My stash outgrew it’s 24″ x 24″ x 60″ cedar chest quite some time ago.  The good news is…yarn squishes!  There’s always room for more Superior Cashmere! 


Especially when it’s 30% off!  And that green! How could I resist!?!  I bet 95% of all the green yarn I’ve ever owned has been bought in the spring.  It’s contagious.  These lovelies also came home with me…


Spring is springing, I wanted green!! The purple one is Tosh Sock.  There’s a Shibui Silk Cloud in Apple and a Malabrigo sock in Lettuce.  It’s happened on accident but I think they make a lovely pile.  Perhaps I’ve found my yarns for Stephen West’s latest MKAL, Marled Magic.  Then again…


This is my current stash of Superior Cashmere.  These would also make a great collection for a colorful shawl.  Maybe a Color Affection.  I think I’m the only one who hasn’t made one!  

The sad reason for this stash enhancement is yet another Bay Area yarn shop closing.  Greenwich Yarns in the Marina district, is set to close on Saturday.  The sale hasn’t gotten to deep discounts yet.  In fact, it looked like a fully stocked yarn shop to me. 20-30% discounts made it worth the effort though.  If it’s one thing I like more than yarn, it’s sale yarn!  

If you love Noro and Rowan, definitely check it out.  There is a lot of awesome yarn to be had!!  Now if I only had an extra set of arms to do all the knitting I’ve got planned!!