October 26, 2005

ALONG THE RIVERWALK

DSC00331.JPG
Tuesday afternoon I spent some time knitting and soaking up the ambiance along the Riverwalk in San Antonio. The weather was sunny enough for sunglasses, but I felt cool enough in the shade to be comfortable in my cardigan.

DSC00003.JPG
Scott and I at dinner tonight at the courtyard at Budro's restaurant; we're standing in front of a charming little waterfall and koi pond.

I finished the poncho at 5:00 this afternoon; that gave me just enough time to steam it with the iron in our hotel room and get dressed in time to leave for dinner at 5:30. A qualified finishing -- the pattern calls for two rounds of crocheting around the neckline, but I was working so close to the deadline that I worked only one round. I can always do the second round some other time. I'm not sure why the designer wanted a crocheted picot edging at the neckline (instead of a knitted picot bind-off), but will hazard the guess that the neckline would be more stable if crocheted, since crochet does not stretch the way knitting does.

Project: Wrapped in Tradition poncho, designed by Shirley Paden, from the book Wrap Style
Yarn: Kidsilk Haze in color #580 Grace, approx. 2.5 balls used
Needles: Size US 6
Started September 15; completed October 26.

The pattern was error-free, and I enjoyed knitting it.

After I finished steaming the poncho, I laid it out on the bed while I got dressed, and Scott remarked that it looked like a skirt. That's really accurate!

And another funny thing about that Kidsilk Haze -- it can build up quite a bit of static electricity, if you are hugged many times over during the course of an evening. We were at a banquet with about a hundred other people; many hugs and kisses all around. When I came back to the hotel room and took off the poncho, the whole garment crackled, and the front and the back repelled each other. (But the wearing was worth it!)

Posted by Karen at 07:51 PM | Comments (16)

October 23, 2005

OUT & ABOUT KNITTING

When we were on the plane to Arizona last weekend, I had in my carry-on bag the socks that I'd knit for my sister. During the flight, I pulled out one of the socks and was admiring my handiwork. I put it on my hand, and I commented to Scott, "You know, this is really a well-knit sock, if I do say so myself."

To which he replied, "Have you knit the other one yet?"

O, ye of little faith. (What is with people that they think it appropriate to say this kind of thing to knitters? And he wasn't joking.)

DSC_0102.jpg

We were in Arizona for just one full day, and we crammed as many activities into that one day as we possibly could. We hiked the Broken Arrow Trail in the morning --

DSC_0115.jpg
My brother-in-law, sister, Jennie, Allegra, and me on the trail.

DSC_0131.jpg

-- and went shopping in the afternoon --

DSC_0151.jpg
Scott and my sister outside of the Red Rock Knit Shop in Sedona.

-- and did lots of other sightseeing, gallery hopping, and dining. My sister was the perfect hostess and catered to our every idiosyncrasy, including finding the address and the shop hours for the yarn store. It was truly a relaxing mini-vacation. Even the flight down to Arizona was without turbulence.

A note about the Red Rock Knit Shop -- it was a small store with lots of novelty yarns and a few wool yarns and alpaca yarns. They offer knitting and weaving classes. This shop had something I'd never seen in a yarn shop before -- a "Leave One, Take One" bin where you could trade the leftovers from your project for the leftovers from someone else's project. What Scott liked best about this yarn shop: It had a comfy chair situated on that shady porch, right outside the open front door.

DSC_0166.jpg
Reminder: These socks were knit with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the colors Gold Hill and Cedar. The pattern is one of Betsy McCarthy's from her book Knit Socks!

* * *

Faithful readers will remember the earlier entry wherein I described feeling invisible as I was knitting while waiting for my car to be serviced; a woman who was knitting a novelty yarn scarf across the lobby from me had her work oooh'd and aaah'd over -- while my modest cable swatch was completely ignored.

Well, last Friday I felt vindicated. I was knitting on Sock #2 of the Friday Harbor pair while waiting once again for my car to be serviced. I noticed a woman sitting kitty-corner from me was wearing a Fair Isle sweater, and I knew it had to be hand-knit because it had the most gorgeous corrugated rib. (You just don't see store bought sweaters with corrugated rib.) She came over and struck up a conversation with me and lavished praise on Sock #1 of the Friday Harbor pair, which I had strategically placed on the top of my knitting bag. (Strategicaly placed there to ward off comments from passers-by like, Are you going to knit the second one?) Turned out this woman is a member of Seattle Knitters Guild and used to serve on the board before me; we knew each other by name although we didn't think we'd met in person before. While she was waiting for her car, she was knitting a top-down raglan sweater for her granddaughter.

This experience erased all of that bad karma of the earlier, invisible time.

* * *

Saturday was the first Dulaan Knit-in for 2006. MaryB managed to make us all feel right at home (even those of us who were rooting for the Houston Astros). In addition to many wonderful goodies brought by many people, Rebecca baked some incredible and gooey S'mores cupcakes.

chelseaheart_sm[1].jpg
My new Dulaan project is the Chelsea's Heart Gansey from Beth Brown-Reinsel's book. I've been wanting to try the British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey yarn that Two Swans just got in, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I chose the red color, which I think will look cute with the heart motifs -- and since the last Dulaan sweater I knit was blue, my eyes are longing for a change of color. I'm only 10 rows in to the garter-stitch welt at the time I write this, so I don't have a lot of info to share yet about the yarn or the pattern, other than to say that it's knitting up very, very smoothly.

* * *

Today I'm packing for another trip. This time, Scott and I are going to San Antonio, Texas, for the coming week. My sister and brother-in-law return to our house, today, to stay here and house- and pet-sit and keep the kids on schedule.

I've been to San Antonio once before, and loved the atmosphere of the Riverwalk. Toured the Alamo. Bought cascarones at the Mexican Market. (Cascarones are hollowed-out eggshells filled with confetti. As a practical joke, you crack them open over someone's head. That last trip was a fun one!) Looking forward to doing all of these things again, and more, as this trip will be for a full week. Any yarn stores in San Antonio?

Posted by Karen at 08:38 AM | Comments (4)

October 19, 2005

DINNER AT TIFFANY'S

You might think that I'm spending my time following in Ryan's footsteps. First she goes to Arizona, then I go to Arizona. Then she goes to the Tiffany exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, then I go to the Tiffany exhibit at SAM. Our paths will cross, for sure, Saturday at the Dulaan Knit-in -- and probably tonight at Seattle Knitters Guild, as well.

I went to the Tiffany exhibit last night with a friend who had a special invitation for a reception at SAM sponsored by the Seattle Times. We were served, among other things, squash soup in shot glasses -- Patti, are you reading this? While a pretty presentation, this proved nearly impossible to drink as the thick soup didn't want to slide out of the glass. I resisted the urge to stick in my tongue and lick out the glass. I let gravity do the work of coaxing the soup out into my mouth, instead.

The Tiffany exhibit was everything Ryan and TMK said it was -- really beautiful. Loads of furniture-type things (lamps! chairs! fireplace screens!) and even wallpaper. How unexpected, to turn a corner in the museum and come upon this wall covered in gold-on-gold, stylized snowflakes -- and to realize that this, too, was part of the exhibit. I love designs that use leaves, and Tiffany went through a whole Grecian period where he incorporated grape leaf motifs into his designs. My absolutely favorite piece was a bib necklace that was made of small, overlapping gold leaves with jade clusters as grapes.

Knitting-news: I'm nearing completion on the Wrapped in Tradition poncho. Ever the optimist, I'm hoping to have it finished by tonight's Guild meeting. With the wind at my back . . . I might make this goal . . . .

Posted by Karen at 12:29 PM | Comments (5)

October 17, 2005

PONCHO PROGRESS

poncho 005.jpg
Nothing like a little travel to get a lot of knitting done! The pattern has been straightforward and error-free, so far. After the slowdown of grafting the edging into a circle, and the struggle of getting right the very first, establishing lace row (which took me four tries), I'm now flying through the rounds. The piece you see in the photo measures about 11 inches tall.

My sister liked her socks! Somewhere there's a picture of her trying them on. Oh, that's right. Scott ended up being the Official Photographer for this trip, and the pictures are still on his camera. (Haven't you heard this excuse before?) Before we left for Arizona, I thought I'd be smart and buy a new memory card for my camera; that way, I wouldn't have to struggle with deciding which pictures on the already-full, old card to keep and which to delete. Turned out that the new card I bought didn't work in my camera.

I'm meeting up with my Master Knitter group from Seattle Knitter's Guild this morning, so this entry is brief, but I did want to share my poncho progress with you.

Posted by Karen at 10:07 AM | Comments (5)

October 13, 2005

MORE PONCHO KNITTING

Yes, I did come home from Oregon last weekend with more yarn . . . just a bit. I do love yarn and especially love the prospect of a new project -- so yes, even owning a yarn shop, I still find yarns and projects that are tempting. While on the Shop Hop I bought one sweater pattern and also three balls of yarn that are destined to become a scarf (probably for a Christmas present, so I'm keeping them a secret -- shhh!). And Anne gave me a very early birthday present --

poncho 003.jpg

the pattern book and makings for a baby poncho. (These are the most sought-after items at the yarn store where she teaches!) It's a quick little gift to knit up for my niece's new baby (knock on wood, a quick project!).

While we're on the subject of ponchos, last Monday night at our Ferals meeting I played hooky from Fair Isle knitting in order to work up the very last scallop of the edging for the Wrapped in Tradition poncho that I'm knitting. I was doing the happy dance! Tuesday, I Kitchener-stitched the edges together to form a ring:

poncho_ring.jpg

Funny thing about that Kidsilk Haze: It's all sticky when you don't want it to be. My crocheted provisional cast-on was very willing to unzip, but the mohair strands kept holding the crocheted chain in place like they were begging, No, don't leave us! But I managed to tease out the chain, and temporarily put the live stitches onto a metal dpn. And then that Kidsilk Haze is all slippery when you don't want it to be. That metal dpn slid out just as I was jockeying the whole piece into position to Kitchener -- thankfully, I was able to save my live stitches.

Sticky-slick. I am undeterred by these polar opposite behaviors from the Kidsilk Haze. It is still one of my all-time favorite yarns, and I know the finished poncho will be light as air and warm.

I picked up stitches around the top of the edging, and have worked several rounds of the next lace section. It all looks like a wad of mohair, right now, so I'll wait to take another photo until later in the process. I hope to get quite a lot of it knitted as airplane knitting, for we're headed to Sedona for the weekend to visit my sister, where I'll be delivering to her in person the socks that I knitted for her.

Posted by Karen at 03:21 PM | Comments (4)

October 10, 2005

THE CHAPTER IN WHICH I GO SHOP HOPPING IN OREGON AND ENCOUNTER KNITTERS FROM SEATTLE

TKG 002.jpg
Michelle was the master planner behind the Tigard Knitting Guild's Shop Hop. I'm sure she (and her volunteer crew) put in a staggering number of hours to pull everything together, working with the vendors and with the registered shop hoppers. I think this woman is a paragon of organization. This photo was taken at the first shop of the day, All About Yarn, in Tigard, Oregon, when Michelle was just beginning to enjoy the fruits of her labor.




What might the organization of a Shop Hop entail? First, there was the contact with the shops (Two Swans among them), having them agree to award discounts and special offers to the Shop Hoppers. This information was all assembled into a "passport" for those who registered for the Hop. Michelle and her crew also solicited from the shops samples of the yarns that the shops wanted to feature. I can only begin to imagine the hours that went into creating the little folders for the yarn samples, and then the measuring and cutting of the yarns, and then the winding of the yarns onto the little folders (and winding, and winding). The little folders each have the logo of the shop, a little description about the yarn ("Soft & Inspiring," "Bright & Dazzling," etc.), and then the brand and other pertinent info about the yarn.

TKG.jpg


The samples were mailed to us registrants about a week before the Hop. The little samples made a very cute package! While I only show two in the photo, there were dozens of these little folders. Another Tigard Guild volunteer had created a little pattern for a little heart pin that one could knit from a few yards of sample yarn. (For more about the yarn samples, visit Heather's blog.)


The morning of the Shop Hop, as Anne drove us to the place where we were to sign in and board the charter bus, I was recounting to her about how my term as newsletter editor for the Seattle Knitters Guild is at its end (our terms are up in October); I've edited the newsletter for two years and am happy to pass the torch on to the woman who'll replace me, although I will stay on the board as Historian.

When we signed in for the Shop Hop, several knitters were there ahead of us. Michelle and some volunteers were signing in people, distributing to us our goodie bags (see the red tote Michelle is wearing in the picture? we each got one, as our goodie bag!), and offering us doughnuts. I saw the line of people and my Inner Shy Person came out. I thought, Oh no, I'm not going to know anyone all day except Anne. But once the Shop Hop started rolling, knitters are all kindred spirits about their passion, and it was no problem to strike up conversations with any of them.


TKG 001.jpg First person I met was Norm. When he found out I was from Kent, he asked if I belonged to the Seattle Knitters Guild. When I said that I did, he said, "Yes, I used to live up that way, and I was the newsletter editor for the Seattle Guild for a couple of years." What a coincidence! "Let me shake your hand!" I said. At left, Norm shops for yarn in All About Yarn.



Our second shop was The Knitting Bee in Portland. This was a brand-new shop in a brand-new shopping center. The shop owner served us mimosas and doughnuts. At this store I met Barb and Lois, fellow Seattle Guild members who'd also gone down to Oregon for the Shop Hop:

TKG 003.jpg



TKG 004.jpg
Above, Anne examines a shop sample at The Knitting Bee. You see the great sweater Anne is wearing? It's "Slouch" from Rowan's Denim People. This is the sweater that you knit with the darkest shade of Rowan Denim yarn, and then splash bleach onto it to create a one-of-a-kind design. In this instance, Anne knitted the sweater, and her husband artistically splashed liquid bleach (for the lightest-value portion of the design) and gel bleach (for the medium-value portion of the design) all over it, front and back.

I've often admired Anne's fearlessness about knitting anything (and everything!). I was not alone in my admiration of this garment. I swear, at some point during the day, every single one of the other 37 people on the bus came up to her and asked her how she'd made the sweater. Quite the conversation piece.

On the bus, Anne was knitting a Hanne Falkenberg "Mermaid" sweater. (This gives you a little clue as to what the front of her "Slouch" sweater looked like.)
TKG 005.jpg

I continued knitting on the edging of the Wrapped in Tradition Poncho (from Wrap Style), and got almost three complete repeats of the scalloped edging knitted. (Each scallop is 20 rows, and this is true knitted lace, where you are working lace stitches on both the right side and wrong side rows -- requires much attention to the chart, as there is no row of plain knitting or plain purling.) As of this morning, I have 19 out of 20 scallops completed, and I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to moving on to the next stage of this project!

One of the highlights of the Shop Hop, for me, was stopping at a store in downtown Portland called Knit/Purl. My camera batteries were on their last legs by this point, so I can only describe in words how beautiful this shop was: Located on a corner, the windows were dressed in a color-coordinated way, featuring yarns and bags in a very hip, modern way. This shop is owned by Darcy, a woman with whom Anne used to teach knitting. Darcy wore a sophisticated black-and-grey skirt and top, had a very chic hairstyle . . . the whole time I was in her presence and in her shop, I felt like I could'a been in Manhattan, not the blue-jeans-and-Birkies territory of the Pacific Northwest. Darcy was kind enough to give Anne and me a behind-the-scenes tour of her shop. It was a real privelege!

Another very trendy shop on our Hop was Lint, also in Portland. Designer Leigh Radford teaches there, and the items from her just-published book, Alter-Knits, were on display in the window:
TKG 009.jpg
At the extreme left in the photo is a door with a knitted window screen (you might recognize this object, as it was written up in an issue of Interweave Knits). Also in this photo are knitted lantern shades, a dressmaker's dummy decoupaged with yarn labels, and the dummy is wearing an orange tubular scarf that we think was made with Kidsilk Haze.

TKG 006.jpg

Anne took this picture of me trying on the wedding crown from Alter-Knits. (I'm also wearing the basketweave vest that I made from Jamieson's Book 2.)

We visited 7 brick-and-mortar shops in all, on Saturday -- and I hope at least a few Hoppers visited Two Swans online from the comfort of their homes that evening.

Posted by Karen at 12:48 PM | Comments (3)

October 07, 2005

NEWS IN BRIEF

ClearedCustoms.jpg
Guess what cleared customs three days ago, got delivered two days ago, and added to Two Swans's inventory yesterday? Oooh, all the way from England. Oh, pretty stuff. Click here to see.

I'm on my way to Portland to visit my Knit-bud Anne. We'll be going on the Tigard Knitting Guild's West Portland Shop Hop tomorrow, a tour of 7 yarn stores, plus one virtual one -- Two Swans is participating, in its own little way. I've been getting coupons ready for the Shop Hop participants's goodie bags:

swanmarkers.jpg

Posted by Karen at 01:29 PM | Comments (1)

October 05, 2005

HOW MY GARDEN GROWS

The farrier is here this morning, giving the horses new shoes; I'm cleaning the barn. But I took time out to enjoy some of the last flowers in our yard. Here's one of our hydrangea bushes:
Hydrangeas 003.jpg

Don't you just love that red-purple flower against the green leaves?

But wait -- what's this?

Hydrangeas 001.jpg
A ball of Kidsilk Haze, color Splendour, blooming right there!

And over there? Will wonders never cease.

Hydrangeas 002.jpg
My hydrangea bush leafs out in Jelly!

With a bouquet like this, can some knitting be far behind?

Posted by Karen at 10:35 AM | Comments (6)

October 03, 2005

OCTOBER

orangeyarns.jpg
Saturday was the first of the month, the day that's always my goal to change the Specials page at Two Swans. I had a sudden inspiration, and the weather cooperated that morning long enough for an outdoor photo shoot, so -- voila!

While shopping for the pumpkins, I found among the harvest of squashes a variety called "Swan White Acorn." Now, I love acorn squash -- and, with enough butter and brown sugar, even my kids will eat it. Have never had anything but the usual Danish Acorn, so we'll be trying the swan white variety for dinner tonight.

In knitting news, I started the second Friday Harbor sock using the 2 circulars method, and I found that joining the yarns into a circle was far more difficult with only two circs. To join, I cross over the positions of the last stitch and the first stitch. On two circulars, there was no room to maneuver, without bringing in a dpn to help get the last stitch over the first, and pull the first stitch through and off the first needle and onto the second. For 2 circs, there must be a better way . . . .

Posted by Karen at 11:03 AM | Comments (7)