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.

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

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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…

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I love a good stashbuster!

My publicly disclosed WIPs have been getting a little love.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:

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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.

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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!!

FO Friday – Extra Luxury Edition

Since I accepted my job back in November, I haven’t had time for any custom knitting.  I’ve barely had time for my own knitting.  

And, if that isn’t enough, I’ve imposed a cast on ban for the month, declaring it ‘Finish it February’.  

Sometimes though, an opportunity so luxe comes along that I can’t possibly say no.  A project worthy of breaking all the rules.  

In this case, a rabbit fur cowl paired with a very high end silk and cashmere yarn, from ArtYarns, complete with beads, sequins and maybe even a little lurex! 

While, it helped that it was a small project, the real draw was being able to work with such amazing yarns.  I think this was an extra soft ball of bunny too!  

It was worth the rule breaking! And, really, no harm done…I’m still breaking even in the WIP department.  Cast on and bound off in three days!  Instant gratification win! 

Find more details on my Ravelry page! 

Now, it’s the weekend and I’m ready to knit for real! I have a sweater to finish…Stitches is almost here! A new Stitches sweater would be perfect!  I just need to figure out that pesky neckline! Fingers crossed!  I hope you all have fun weekend knitting planned too! 

Craft Fair Post Mortem

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

…it was my first craft fair.  I made zero sales but learned many valuable lessons.

Mostly, it boils down to this was the wrong event for me.

#1 Wrong Location — It was nearly 80 degrees out, in November.  No one wanted a wool hat on their head.  They actually brought industrial fans in to keep the air circulating.  It was no where near a cold day.  In a town that barely has cold days ever.  Sometimes I forget that microclimates are a thing and not everyone lives in a fog belt.  Ooops, my bad.

#2 Wrong Price — The event was at a public school and frankly, I have private school prices.  I have zero intention of changing that but I can be more in tune with what a particular crowd is after.  One woman actually asked me to clarify for her, did that tag say $10 or $70?  The tag was obvious.  She was just in disbelief that a knit hat could cost that much.  Again, my bad.  If the idea of a $70 hat was that foreign, clearly, I was in the wrong place.  I need to be in high end places.

But it wasn’t all bad.  It was great as practice.  I learned a lot.  As a scientist (and a knitter!), I really learn by doing.  My next event is going to be much better!  I’ve got location and weather working with me on this one!  The Sunset Holiday Mercantile is in Golden Gate Park — Perfect!

I’ll make a few changes as well, I think I’ll lay the table out differently.  I’m going to change up my signs.  ‘Scarves & Shawls’ will become ‘one of a kind hand knit scarves’.  More emphasis on what’s important–why I feel justified in my prices–and dropping the clutter.  I like shawls.  Other knitters like shawls.  I’ll even bet a couple non-knitters like shawls.  Mostly though, shawls confuse people.  Shawls = Grandma, maybe?  They don’t know how to wear them, maybe?   Whatever the case…it’s a just a big scarf, people!  You like big scarves…Really!  My next sign will reflect that.

And some stupid stuff like–skip the camping chair, bring the folding chair with a smaller footprint.  Duh.  Don’t try packing hangers in a box.  That doesn’t work.

I’m optimistic that my next event will be more financially successful.  In the meantime, I think I need to start giving my sweater some serious thought.  And, I’ve got a whole queue of socks I want.  Enough knitting as work, time for more knitting selfishly!  I’m ready!

 

FO Friday – Freddy, Jr.

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My little Freddy Krueger sweater is done and I love it!  The thought of an inappropriately dressed toddler cracks me up!  Of course, this could just be a christmas sweater.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be the scariest sweater of all time.

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The scariest part of this sweater:  it’s acrylic!?!?  It’s sort of a no brainer for a kid sweater but I thumb my nose at standards and convention.  Kids can wear wool too.  There was a time when acrylic didn’t exist…kids had to wear wool.  I think everyone should wear wool.  Wool is magic.

No need for ranting though.  Acrylic was just what the doctor ordered here.

This time, I wanted very specific colors and they were most easily found in Berroco Comfort, a 50% acrylic/50% nylon blend.  I really enjoyed working with it.  It’s very loosely spun, so I suspect some people call it splitty.  Mostly, it’s soft and drapey.  I enjoyed it.

I’ve even wished I was doing an adult size because I kinda wanna wear this!  It’s just too good not to.

And it’s ready just in time for the  Prospect High Arts & Crafts Faire!  Next weekend, in Saratoga, Ca.  It’s my first craft fair so I have no idea what to expect!  I’m feeling well prepared though!  If you’re in the area, c’mon by and say hello!

The Freddy sweater will be for sale, along with my Etsy stock and lots of shawls that haven’t made it online yet!  If nothing else, I’m having fun doing inventory…turns out, I have a ton of knitwear that’s never seen the light of day.  Something for everyone…the sheer volume guarantees it!