I’ve got a commercial!

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Long time readers will recall this project from last spring.

Sadly, my friend’s bike was stolen.  Thieves stink.  But, it inspired my friend to make a little tribute video/commercial of the project with footage she took during our consultations and fittings!

Check it out…

 

It’s great, right?  Someday maybe it’ll even run on the local access cable channel…a girl can dream!  Bwahahahahahahaha.


 

Overdue Update

Well, Heeeeeelllo!

It’s been a while.  I’ve been busy.  Work, eh?  Takes up all the best hours of the day!  Never fear though…there has still been knitting!  No time to talk about knitting but still time for knitting!  I’ve finished up a bunch of projects too!

Like my Striped Esjan!  It’s awesome.  I’m glad I finally made one!  It’s inspired me to put more holes in my knitting for years now!   The ends aren’t woven and it’s not blocked yet but that has not stopped me from wearing it.  It’s an older WestKnits design.  The big swiss cheese holes have always attracted me to this shawl.  All the increases to create those holes resulted in nearly 1200 stitches in the final rows!  The bind off took an entire day but I’m super stoked to have finished it.  It’s fun to wear.

There’s also my latest nephew knit!  Another sweater for the little man…it’s just a top down raglan with a few stripes for interest.  Hopefully he’ll get plenty of cozy time from it!

The kid is growing like a weed so I had to knit this yarn up quick before he outgrew the 3 skeins I bought!  The yarn is from Swan’s Island’s ecowash collection.  Don’t be fooled by that convenient name, that also sounds like it might be better for the environment than superwash.  This yarn, while listed as washable, is not machine dryable which, for me, negates the whole purpose of being washable.  It behaves like superwash, in that it grows upon washing.  So…poooooooooh.  I should have read the label closer.  As much as I dislike superwash, it’s the way to go for kids clothes.

It’s gonna be a while before I start the next nephew sweater.  It’s going to be a Mini Sunset Highway for his first birthday.  It’s going to be incredibly adorable.  I can’t wait to see him wear it.   But for now it’s on the backburner.  I’m shelving all knitting until May.  That sounds drastic but…

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I’ve been accepted into another street fair, the Bayview Mercantile, April 28th, in San Francisco, at All Good Pizza in the Bayview neighborhood.  Let’s face it, they had me at pizza!  So, no knitting for the next couple weeks while I prep some new cross stitch hoops for the event!

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Luckily, it’s kind of addictive and I’m not upset at this self-imposed ban on knitting.  I have cross stitch ideas faster than I can stitch them so a month long cross stitch binge is just what I need!   My crafty Mom is getting in on the action too..she sent me a big package full of hand dyed aida to stitch on!  The colors are so fun!  I especially love the rainbow stripes!

I love a good pop culture reference.  I still have lots of song lyrics, movie quotes and of course, Game of Thrones quotes on the drawing board…I’m curious about what you’d like to see too!  Leave your suggestions in the comments!

A New WIP

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It’s been a busy week!  Without my cell phone camera roll, I’d never be able to remember it all!

Partially because I’ve imposed a ‘no knitting at home’ rule for myself as I prepare for the upcoming Etsy Holiday Emporium.  I’ve got lots of cross stitching to do and that doesn’t travel well.  It made the divide seem easy…cross stitch at home and then get my knitting fix with a travel project whenever I’m out and about.

Turns out, I really still want to knit and I’ve been able to come up with lots of excuses to leave the house!  LOL!

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When I left you last, I was contemplating this swatch.  It’s not bad but I wanted something better than ‘not bad’.  In a rush out the door, I grabbed a few half balls that were calling to me and this swatch was born.

It’s perfect – irresistible fall colors!  I could not wait to get my needles clicking on this one!  It’s a Stephen West shawl (of course!), Striped Esjan.  It’s been in my queue for a long time.  I’ve emulated it’s loopy edge is several of my own shawl explorations.  I’ve certainly thought about it enough.  It’s about time I actually knit one!

It’s been a great carry along project.  Once I got started, I couldn’t put it down.  I’ve taken it to the movies, to the beach, to the park, several bars.  Yes, I’m finding plenty of excuses to take it out of the house.  So much for rules, eh?

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Snips n Zips with Franklin Habit

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My Vogue Knitting Live class was ‘Snips n Zips’ with Franklin Habit, aka steeks and zippers.  I’ve got experience with both techniques but I’m always looking for ways to improve my finishing and add polish to my knits.

I’m happy with my steeks, but you can see my zippers buckle.  They’re definitely passable.  I wear that brown sweater, my Rhinebeck Sweater from a few years back, frequently.  They are not perfect though.

I’ll just get straight to the money shot because this is a perfect zipper!  I couldn’t be happier.  Those lines are so lovely.  I’m really pleased with my work.

The big secret?  Basting the zipper into place before sewing it down.  It helped immensely.  The buckling in my previous zippers is due to the fabric shifting as I sewed.  It’s something I, especially, need to combat.  Loose fabrics like I knit, shift a lot as they’re being stitched.

Always sew zippers at a table, was Franklin’s other advice.  Allow the table to support the weight of the garment.  That will help stabilize everything and making sewing easier.

So, I’m super happy with the zipper portion of the program.  I will say though, I do not prefer Franklin’s method of steeking.  He teaches the slip stitch crochet method.

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And he teaches it very well.

He’s got great visual aids, both drawn and 3D.  That board represents 4 rows of 5 knit stitches, the center stitch being the one cut.  With a very large crochet hook and lengths of thick i-cord he demonstrates precise hook placement and stitch formation.  It’s so helpful.

He’s an extremely experienced teacher, having presented this class to over 2000 students.  Even before that though, he tests all his classes on a group of volunteers back home and really spends time thinking about where students run in to problems and how to avoid them.  Simple tips like always sew with the zipper closed.  It’s a simple observation and a simple adjustment.  I like not having to reinvent the wheel.

All that said, I don’t like the crochet steek method.  I did it in class to be a good sport and see if my dislike was still reasonable.  It is.  Here’s why…bulk.  I’ve got plenty of my own bulk.  I do not need garments adding any extra.

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On the right side of the swatch, you see the slip stitch crochet method.  On the left side, my preferred technique, a sewn reinforcement with a simple backstitch.  When the stabilizing stitches are sewn like this, you’re putting a lot less yarn into it, it makes perfect sense that it would be less bulky.

Of course, I’m also basing my decision on Lopi.  The yarn you cut influences these decisions in a big way.  Sticky wools barely need any stabilizing stitches at all.  If I was using a superwash wool, my choice might be different.  (Like don’t chose superwash wool!)  I might consider a crochet steek at that point.

Franklin had lots of samples for us to see.  Much to my surprise, the lovely blue and grey floral vest he knit was from a superwash, Lorna’s Laces Sport.  Slip stitch crochet steek and it’s a gorgeous garment.  Certainly not showing any signs of unraveling.

 

Of course, the first thing I did was turn it inside out.  How does Franklin finish garments?  Turns out, his insides aren’t all that different from mine.  If you work with precision, those details just fall into place and sort themselves out.

The biggest difference between our work is gauge.  Firmly knit fabrics are not my thing.  Franklin’s gauge is unbelievable to me.  My homework was knit with Lett Lopi on Size 4 needles.  Franklin just happened to bring a tea cozy he made with Lett Lopi on Size 4 needles.

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It’s tough to get a sense of drape without the samples in hand but look closely at the stitches and you’ll see.  There’s daylight between and behind my stitches, you can see the looseness.  Look at his stitches, they’re tight and closely packed.  No daylight there.  Same yarn, same size needles, both knit in the round…completely different fabrics!  Moral of the story:  Gauge matters, take time to do a swatch or three.   It’s true.  Sorry.

SO, I had a very good class experience.  My only real complaint, Vogue makes the teachers collect their own materials fees in class.  We had a $5 fee for the zippers.  I’m not faulting Franklin for collecting it but I know how much zippers cost (less than a dollar) and I know how much I paid for this class ($125).  And Vogue couldn’t afford to toss Franklin a few extra bucks for materials?  It was a sold out class.  How cheap are they?  Also worth mentioning, they materials fee was not on their website so we didn’t even know about it.  I poked around, other classes had their fee listed so I’m sure it was an unintentional oversight but c’mon…it’s not like this is their first rodeo.

As for the rest of the classes I talked to people about, seems the bad stories were overwhelming.  All those good things I said about Franklin, they were missing entirely from other teachers.  No class notes, no long history of teaching, no thought and intention put into curriculums, no well oiled classes.

Instead, it was first time teachers, people who are instagram famous for designing shawls but can’t teach worth a damn.  Designers who can sell patterns but lack quality public speaking ability.  Authors who changed class itineraries with no notice.

I was surprised at the big name knitters who put out substandard classes.  It’s too bad. Conventional wisdom around here said VKL gets better teachers than Stitches but after this weekend, we need to rethink that idea.  I’d say it’s more accurate to say VKL gets bigger name teachers, that’s not to say they can teach at all.

There was one other guy who got very high marks though, Josh Bennett.  He did not disappoint!  I had a feeling he’d be a good teacher.  I watched him mentor designers throughout the course of Skacel’s Fiber Factor.  He provided great insight into the design process in those videos and the importance of editing.   If you haven’t seen the Fiber Factor, you can check it out on YouTube.  It was an attempt at giving knitwear designers a chance at reality tv style design challenges.  It didn’t last into a second season but I definitely learned a lot about designing knitwear by watching it.

Anyhow, Josh Bennett…he’s a yes!  Stay tuned tomorrow for lots of sweater pics, including the sweaters Josh designed for Marvel, inspired by Black Panther and a sneak peek at the garments in November’s issue of Vogue Knitting!


 

Vogue Knitting Live SF Recap

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What a weekend, I barely know where to start.  There’s so much to tell you about…classes, shopping, fashion shows…and lots of yarn!  Let’s start with the fun stuff…here’s my shopping.

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I went over budget but I knew that was going to happen.  I say unrealistic things like ‘I’m not going to buy yarn.’  Obviously, no one believes that.  Not even me.  I did leave my credit card at home on days 2 & 3 though, that helped.  The vendors were quick to be helpful, telling me about apple pay and other banking apps they’re equipped to deal with.  Nice try, vendors.  Nice try.

My shopping started at Neighborhood Fiber Co.  They were the end of their row, a perfect crossroads to find friends.  Perhaps, for me, the best part of the event was it’s small, even intimate size.  It was so easy to run into fiber friends.  Having worked in local yarn shops, I know a lot of knitters.  There were lots of people to stop and chat with! So, I stood next to the Neighborhood Fiber Co booth, eyeing their display shawls and chatting it up.

I happened to say ‘if they had a kit for that shawl and it was in my hands, what are the chances I’d put it down?’  A helpful friend said ‘oh, you mean like this’ and the rest is history.  I’m not sure what exactly I’ll knit with the yarn.  It’s a kit for Joji’s Fading Point shawl and the display model is Joji’s Starting Point shawl.  I like triangles more than rectangles but also, how many triangles (asymmetric or otherwise!) does one person need?

With that in mind, my next purchases were for sweaters.  Franklin Habit’s class definitely gave me the finishing touches I was looking for.  A nice woolly cardigan with a zipper is now in the queue.  I picked up a 7 skeins of Swans Island sport weight from the ‘All American’ collection.  100% American grown, spun and dyed, NON-SUPERWASH Rambouillet…It’s perfect!  I’m going to pair it with the Mountain Meadow Cody, I got in Flagstaff.  It’s very similar in it’s 100% American grown, spun, dyed origins.  They should pair beautifully.

I’ve got a range of colors and no clue how they’ll become a sweater.  The next part of my process is making a pile.  When I’m asked ‘what are you going to do with that yarn?’, which is frequent at these events, my answer is ‘put it in a pile’.  It’s funny, in the moment, but it’s also the truth.  I buy single skeins in large quantities.  Figuring out how they all fit together, is the fun part.  First thing I did when I got home last night was put them in a pile.  (Also referred to as ‘playing Barbies’.)

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Here’s a couple piles!  The best piles ever!  A gorgeous squishy real wool cardigan with a zipper…yes, please!!

And then, that green pile…oh yeah!  I’ve been collecting green fingering weight yarns all year.  This pile is just beginning.  There’s going to be lots of arranging and rearranging.  Whatever happens, it’s going to be good.  I might be saying the words ‘Westknits Marled Mania Cardigan’ but I don’t think I mean that just yet.  I’d consider the short version, in one color family…I’m waiting to see some real world examples pop up.  Given my current queue, I should have no problem filling that wait time up with other knits.

And cross stitches.  When the cash for big yarn projects was depleted I still had a few dollars left for beads!  The bead booth is so fun!  And beads are so tiny.  No space issues when you hoard beads.  Those three on the left came home with me.  They’ve got an interesting bias cut that could make for interesting leaf, scale or feather textures.  We’ll see what happens.

And then, there’s all the stuff I didn’t buy.  Sadly, I can’t cram everything from every yarn shop into my small apartment.  I didn’t buy most the stuff.  I showed restraint and only brought home pictures of all these beauties…

Overall, I was happy with the marketplace.  Anyone expecting Stitches West level of shopping was in for a disappointment.  There was one small ballroom full of vendors.  I’ve not been to VKL in New York but apparently, it’s four times larger than this was.  There were complaints.

The interesting thing for me was the dominance of our local shops.  Many local shops had booths and many (most?) attendees were local.  This did not feel like an event full of people who traveled great distances.  It felt like a local event with a few out of towners.  That’s not what I was expecting.  It also felt undersold.  It wasn’t crowded.  The economics of it all is certainly questionable.  I hope the vendors made a bit of money.  The tentative plans for 2020 include another VKL SF.  I think they need to change things up a bit, if it’s going to work.

More about the complaints tomorrow!  I got a lot out of my class but not everyone did.  Franklin is an excellent teacher.  He was so well organized and together.  My class was a well oiled machine.  Unfortunately, I heard more bad class stories than good.

I’ve got lot of pics from class to share but enough talking, it’s yarn:30 in the crafternoon.  I must knit!  There is a 3-color cashmere cowl calling my name!

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Back to Stitching…

It took a few days but I have recovered from last week’s interview stress!  A gorgeous weekend and lots of outdoor time helped!

The interview went well.  I’m not sure I got the job but I’m not sure I want the job.  The company is doing really neat science but they’re a very early start up, currently only 10 employees.  So, they’re thinking things over, I’m thinking things over.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of crafty ideas to keep me busy!  Last night was our annual knitting group anniversary party.  9 Years of stitching and bitching!  Wooo!  As part of our annual tradition, we pick names from a hat and then knit for each other.

I really struggled with what to knit this year.  My gift recipient is a total process knitter who loves to knit for other people.  I spent a lot of time thinking about what she would love and find useful.  After considering everything, I decided on a Wonder Woman wrap.  Check it out here, if you aren’t familiar.  It’s a free pattern!

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Like most knitting, it got to a point where it went to the time out corner.  I was happy enough with my progress but our party was months off.  I had plenty of time.  Of course, a quick trip to the time out corner turned into a complete shunning.  My intention was to pick it up two weeks before the party and crank it out.

And then the interview came up.  Keeping the deadline in mind, I was still confident I had time to get the knitting done so my project continued to languish.  I didn’t give it a second thought.

Until…I got home from my interview, ready to knit.  That was about the time I decided I didn’t like my progress and wanted to start over again.  D’oh!  96 hours and I wanted to scrap the whole thing.

The sticky wicket here was sizing.  I picked the smaller size in the pattern and I knit to gauge so I wouldn’t run out of yarn.  As a lover of large shawls, this barely scarf sized piece just wasn’t cutting it.  I was unhappy with it.  I wasn’t motivated to move forward with something I didn’t like so back to the drawing board.

I decided to start an entirely new project…this time, cross stitch.  I should have just started at cross stitch.  We’re both happy with how things ended up…

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A Star Wars collection of cross stitch!  Once I got started it was impossible to stop.  This is so fun!! The series will definitely continue…Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?  It’s a trap!  and Han shot first are all on the list, with a few others being considered as well.  There’s just so many options…

I love the Millenium Falcon on the black aida.  Colored aida is such a simply idea but you really don’t see it much?  Why is that?  It can’t be because cross stitchers lack imagination and creativity.  I refuse to believe that.

So, a couple weeks back, I suggested to my dye master Mother that aida is cotton, like yarn and t-shirts…no reason she can’t dye it.  Yesterday, this came in the mail…

Hand dyed aida in a glorious array of colors!!!  I’m so excited about this.  There might be a Millenium Falcon in a deep purple outer space in my future!  I can’t wait to play with it!

I haven’t decided what to do with my Wonder Woman wrap yet.  We’ll talk about that more tomorrow!  I’ve got knitting goals too!  If I could just have two extra arms, I could be knitting and cross stitching at the same time…A girl can dream, right?


 

Stash Enhancement

After a period of losing local yarn shops, San Francisco got a new shop over the long weekend!  Woo!  Firebird Yarns…right on Haight Street…a great location for tourists and locals, alike.   I can’t wait to see how things develop there.  I hope the shop continues to grow and sticks around for long time.

It hit a lot of current trends…indie dyers, gradient yarns, mini skeins, speckles galore!  All things I like.  The indie variety was impressive…Loft Twenty Two, Houndstooth Fiber Arts, Hula Hut Yarn, Mad Science Yarns (great color names here–tesla coil, genetically modified berries, perfect mad science names!).

And now, here’s my plea to those indie dyers…please, please, please expand your offerings beyond superwash.  There is a market for non-superwash yarns, especially considering how many of those superwash yarns are labeled ‘hand wash cold, lay flat to dry’.  That’s not how superwash works.

With that in mind, the shop did have one special yarn, non-superwash, sheep raised in Texas, milled out in the Sacramento Valley.  It’s a great color too, so I had to buy a skein.  It’s a bulky single ply with a bit of thick and thin happening.  No idea what I’ll do with it, but I’m sure it’ll be good!  It’s a nice soft yarn!

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Of course, I can’t resist a good speckle so I picked up a skein of Hula Hut Yarn too.

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I’ve got a good collection of green yarns now, this could be my next cast on!  Perhaps at the end of the week, after my job interview.  I’ve got 48 hours left to prepare…so it’s all work until then!  I’d say ‘wish me luck’ but this is definitely the type of situation where you make your own luck.  I’m feeling good about my presentation but I’ve still got lots of fine tuning to do.  What I really need is two days of distraction free focus.  (that might be where the luck comes in!)  I’ll keep you posted!  :)