To good friends.

Almost two years ago, I made a new friend: Ewenique. We met when I, a total stranger, offered to drive her to Sock Summit 2009 in Portland while she was visiting Seattle from the UK. (Honestly, I could have been an axe murderer for all she knew!) We got along famously, and have been keeping in touch and sending presents back and forth and doing all the things that good friends do.

Well, Ewenique is back in the States, her visit once again happily coinciding with Sock Summit 2011. I actually had quite a few things stored up that I’d been meaning to send, not the least of which was a little housewarming gift I knit for her:

Girasole

That’s Girasole, a beautiful lace blanket/shawl designed by Jared Flood. The yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca, an alpaca/wool blend in the color “Steel Cut Oats.” I’d started it some time ago, and when Ewenique told me they got a new house, of course I had to finish the blanket for the occasion (months late, as it worked out, but who’s counting?).

Ewenique and her husband only just arrived a couple of days ago. They came to our house last night for a BBQ, after which she stayed over so we could get a head start on our trip down to Sock Summit. (Given the jet lag, they held up quite well!) Ewe also gave me some lovely purple Old Maiden Aunt yarn, some buttons, and some yummy bikkies, which I believe I will devour in record time.

Today was a gorgeous day, so I trotted out the convertible and we made the trek down to Portland. Once there, we walked and stroked the yarn to our hearts’ content. I didn’t get very good pictures, so this will have to do.

(Edit: Ewenique posted her pictures, here. They’re much better than mine.)

Sock Summit 2011

I did catch Ewenique fondling her yarn when she thought I wasn’t looking. Naughty girl.

The weather was quite warm, and stayed that way all day, even after sunset. Naturally the convertible top stayed down and we basked the whole way home. The day could not have been more perfect.

Stitches West 2011: Day 4

Well, that’s it. It’s over. It was a jam-packed, exhausting time.

This morning I had a Farmyard Friends: Needle Felted Animals class with Sharon Costello. I made a sheep. Well, most of a sheep, since we ran out of time to finish.

Class

Aren’t the samples cute?

Samples

After class, it was back to the market for last minute stuff and the grand prize drawing. Nothing really grabbed me except a couple of dizzes and buttons, and I didn’t win anything. What a drag.

Sherry was kind enough to drop me at the airport for my flight home, so here I sit, waiting for my flight.

I’m completely worn out, but I had a wonderful time. Thanks to all my great Northern California friends, you made me feel a part of the family. See you next year!

Stitches West 2011: Day 3

O noes! Stitches is almost over!

Today was the last full day at the conference. Much fun has been had. Much learning has been learnt. I had a full-day weaving class. Yes, weaving. And surprise, surprise, I think I like it. My decent into madness began with knitting, crept into crochet, sojourned in spinning, flirted with felting, fled to fiber prep, and now is wending its way into weaving. Save yourselves! I’m done for!

Anyway, the class was Learn Rigid Heddle Weaving and Use Up Your Stash with Deborah Jarchow. Everyone in the class had a rigid heddle loom to work with: some had Ashfords and some had Glimakras. I had a Glimakra. Unfortunately I was so into it that I forgot to take a picture while the class was in session. You’ll just have to imagine these looms out of their boxes with beautiful weavings of all different colors and textures coming off them.

After class

We made scarves. Well, we tried to. I didn’t have enough time to finish the whole thing, so I ended up with some sort of short table runner.

Weaving

The warp (lengthwise) yarns came mostly from my stash, including some handspun I wasn’t going to use for anything. For the weft (crosswise yarn), I ended up going to the market and picking up some Cascade 220 sport in rich chocolate brown. I really wish I could’ve finished the scarf!

After class, I went to the market for a short while, then went to dinner at Pedro’s with friends. It was delicious. The tamale had the best masa.

Dinner

Back at the hotel, my roomie and I chilled a little bit and took pictures of our marketplace haul. (I didn’t get good pics of the Bugga, so I’ll just have to get proper pictures when I get home!)

New stash

After that, we headed down for yet another PJ party. We showed off our market purchases and I showed off my scarf. I’m so proud.

Nite Owls

We all pretty much crashed after that. I didn’t even post this till the next day.

Stitches West 2011: Day 2

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head…

…and then I went to class. Only one class today, Creative Knitting: Crazy Quilt Style with Myra Wood. It was very interesting, about how to plan and knit crazy quilt knitted pieces. Myra’s a great teacher, and the class materials, especially the handout showing how many increases is needed for any given angle, were very helpful.

Class

After class, I hit the market. Didn’t buy much, just some Bugga and Codex at Sanguine Gryphon. It was super crowded. The rain didn’t deter the crowds at all.

Stitches Market

Stitches Market

Now, I did run across this little gem of an item at one of the booths. It’s called a Stitch Light, an LED pendant light that hangs on your neck and lights up your knitting. Very cool. I decided to get one, but am waiting on someone to get back about whether they want one or not. Ahem.

Stitch Light

Shortly after that, my friend Erin was gracious enough to drive my butt (and the rest of me) over to the Bobbin’s Nest in Santa Clara, where one of my favorite dyers, Three Irish Girls, had a trunk show. As if the marketplace didn’t have enough yarn.

3IG at Bobbins Nest

The rest of the afternoon consisted of food, more marketplace, and some wonderful knitting time with the Nite Owls. Then came the Stitches Pajama Party!

Stitches PJ Party

I do have one thing to say about this PJ party. The coordinator of tonight’s event explained how the party started at Stitches, and she seems to have bent the facts to make it sound like it was her idea. Not a chance. For the record, the Nite Owls had a PJ party on the hotel mezzanine at Stitches West 2010, before this woman was even representing XRX. The party was organized by my friend Cole, but the Stitches staff thought it was a great idea and made it an official party. After this coordinator/community person came on board, she started making it sound like it was all her doing, presumably starting with Stitches South 2010. Shame on you, girl. Maybe you should read up a little on the history of the event, as documented on your own blog:

I can’t say I was actually invited, but I did get to witness the first ever STITCHES pajama party, dubbed Night Owl Knitting by Cole (or coleyknits on Ravelry, the one with the sock monkey), the parent of this brain child. Tipped off that these knitters in their comfort zone would be visited by sponsors bearing gifts, I showed up, camera in hand.

Susan (cocohugs), crashed the party from her nearby Hilton home, showed me her first-time Magic Loop socks-in-progress, and explained that almost everyone came from 2 (exceptionally devoted, if I might add) knitting groups: Llama Llama Knit in Novato, CA and Yarn Cottage, which is sadly no larger in business, but the knitting group party’s on!

Pack your pajamas and let’s make it a regular thing: STITCHES, Friday night, Night Owl Knitting Pajama Party, following the Fashion Show Dinner, location TBA! See you at South!

The list of gifts was long and generous. There were representatives from Cascade Yarns, Malabrigo, and Knitter’s Magazine present.

[Posted by Natalie, Feb 27, 2010]

Anyway, about tonight’s festivities: there were indeed prizes. There were questions like who came from farthest away, who’s been knitting longest, that sort of thing. They also had contests, like crazy PJs.

Stitches PJ Party

The Carmen Miranda look-alike won, of course. Though the coordinator and both judges had no clue and just called her “the fruit lady.” Kids today, I tell ya.

Stitches PJ Party

And I won a prize, too! The prize I won was for closest anniversary. Ours was on Feb 5th. When I told my husband that I won, he was pleased to have had a part in it. Until I told him what it was for: a $15 gift certificate to the Fine Needle and a neck-down sweater DVD. He suddenly lost all interest.

PJ Party prize

(Yes, I brought my charted chicken to Stitches West.)

So that’s it for today! Tommorow, I weave (as in make fabric. I’m not going anywhere!).

Stitches West 2011: Day 1

Day 1 of Stitches West complete! It was a slow starter, but it ended with a bang.

Before I start, there were a couple of more annoyances to add to the list from yesterday. First, I had a hell of a time getting to sleep. (Yeah, I know, waaah.) Then, some school up in Washington calls my phone at 5am and then at 6am to tell me that school is delayed for a couple of hours. I had no idea what they were talking about, but sure do appreciate the wakeup call.

Alright, so, after I caught a couple more Zzzzs, I got up and wandered down to registration and then over to the opening day talk. It was actually pretty good: it was put on by three designers, Gwen Bortner, Myra Wood, and Barbara Kerr, who had undertaken a challenge to come up with interesting semi-crazy designs and present them and their design process to the audience. It was really interesting to see how they came up with their designs. They were all beautiful, too.

Opening Day Spotlight

After the show came an opening day luncheon, where attendees got to meet teachers speed-dating style. The teachers would come around and introduce themselves and their area of expertise. It went really well; the only downside is that we didn’t get to meet all the teachers!

Opening Day Luncheon

After lunch, I hooked up with Sherry, my roommate from last year who also agreed to be my roomie this year. She had to toddle off to an afternoon class, and I was left to wander the halls alone. I didn’t have a class, but I eventually found some other classless knitters to sit with while we waited for the market to open. It was a pretty lousy day outside, too.

Santa Clara weather

Calm before the storm

The market, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a exhibition all full of yarn and knitting vendors. It’s huge. What was deserted only hours before became a hotbed of activity. Sherry and I didn’t get through half the market in the three hours it was open for the preview. It’s nuts.

Line outside market

Stitches Market

Booth

After the market, Sherry and I stopped in the hotel lobby for dinner. It took over an hour to get food, and made us late for the Ravelry meetup. Harumph. The meetup was decorated for Valentine’s Day. It was so cute.

Ravelry meetup

And finally, we stopped up in a friend’s room for margaritas before heading to bed. I’m exhausted, and I still have three days to go.

Stitches West 2010

This weekend I went down to Stitches West. Stitches is a big knitting convention put on by XRX, Inc., the publishers of Knitter’s Magazine. They have a few of these shows throughout the year at different locations. This one ran Thursday through Sunday in Santa Clara, California.
 
I was a big poopyhead and didn’t take pictures, so if you want to get a better idea of what Stitches was like, there are some entries about it at the official KniTalk blog, here.
 
Anyway, I arrived in Santa Clara Wednesday night, to beat the rush. I hung out in the lobby for a little bit, but ended up eating dinner in my room. So lonely. Don’t feel bad for me, though… circumstances totally reversed themselves over the next couple of nights.
 
I took a pretty full slate of classes. Thursday afternoon was a backwards knitting class, and Friday afternoon I took a cable class. Saturday I spent all day in a lace knitting class, and Sunday morning I had a finishing class. Really good classes; I learned a lot and got inspired to make a bunch of stuff (that I’ll probably never start but that’s another story). Most of the rest of the time was spent at the market, which took up most of the convention center’s expo hall. It was huge.
 
I wasn’t lonely after Wednesday because on Thursday I was joined by Sherry, a random stranger on Ravelry that I took in as a roommate at the hotel. She was nice enough to let me pal around with her while we weren’t in classes, and she introduced me to her friends from the Yarn Cottage, a vibrant and lively group of crazy knitters. And let me tell you, that was a hoot and a half. Margaritas in a hotel room one night, pajama party the next. It was amazing.
 
The Night Owl pajama party even made into the KniTalk blog. You can just see me in the background of some of the pictures there, in the pink shirt. It started out as a little get-together for the group, but it caught the attention of the Stitches organizers and sponsors. We even got prizes! I won a few skeins of Malabrigo and some Kollage. Yummy.
 
So, now I’m back from California, just barely recharged, and eagerly anticipating next year’s Stitches event. In the meantime, I made loads of new friends and had a great time. Yay knitting!
 
 

To new friends (and a massive knitting event)

Knitting, by way of Ravelry, has introduced me to so many wonderful people. Most of them I’ve never met in person, but there are two that I have recently met face-to-face and am glad to call friends. There’s KnittyBron, who, as it turns out, lives very close by (Hi, Bronwyn!), and just yesterday, Ewenique.
 
Ewenique was a total stranger to me until, oh, last week, when I found out she was flying to Seattle from the U.K. She wanted to go to a little show called the Sock Summit at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland while she was here. I don’t generally knit socks, so I didn’t give the conference much thought until, oh, last week, when I offered her a ride. You may not think there are many knitters around, but the show’s organizers managed to scrape up several thousand, I think, for several days of classes, demos, a Guiness World Record attempt, and lots and lots of yarn.
 
Did I mention lots and lots of yarn? Yes. There were 150 vendors at the Sock Summit marketplace. Since I hadn’t planned on actually going to the summit, I hadn’t signed up for any classes, but I did decide to go to the marketplace yesterday. Happily, my plans aligned with Ewenique’s, so I picked her up at her hotel in Seattle and drove the 3 hours south to Portland. It was a bit overwhelming, and I didn’t buy as much yarn as I thought I would, but a good time was had by all. I forgot to take pictures, so I’m hijacking Ewenique’s for illustrative purposes.
 
[There was a picture here, but now it’s gone. Imagine a big convention hall full of yarn. Now add more yarn. No, more than that. No, seriously, more yarn.]
 
After the marketplace closed, we went over to Red Robin for a big fat burger and fries (or chips, if you prefer). It was delish. Then we hopped in the car and felt our way over to Washington Park for a big Ravelry meet. I say "felt our way" because I just generally knew it was "over there" and hoped to end up at the right place. We did come in the north entrance, which apparently winds its way though the hilly park for a mile or two before ending at the World Forestry Center where the event was held. The south entrance, as it turned out, was right on a highway. Go fig.
 
The Ravelry meet was great. We didn’t stay long, as we had another three hours of driving to get back to Seattle that night. But the place was packed with knitters. They’d planned the event for 350 people, but well over that actually showed up. They had goody bags, but, sadly we arrived too late to get one. I’ve never seen so many handknits in one place! I did meet Casey and Frecklegirl, the founders of Ravelry, and Rainydaygoods, also of Ravelry fame. Knitters are so easy to talk to… just walk up and start chatting. We’ve already got something in common!
 
Rainydaygoods, Ewenique, and Frecklegirl
 
Casey and me (squee!)
 
I was so tired by the end of it, but it was a happy sort of tired. Still recuperating today. Thanks, Ewenique, for the company! Can’t wait till the next one!

Blast from the past

Today was a big day for nostalgia. I’ve e-reunited with my three best friends from high school. I’ve been thinking about them a lot this summer because my 20-year reunion is next month. (I probably won’t go, though.) Well, one friend found and friended me on Facebook, which then prompted me to go looking for the other two. I found one, and friended her, and dug up e-mail for the other and contacted her too.
 
Now I feel all warm and fuzzy. Hi, girls! I’ve missed you, and I’m sorry for not keeping in touch!