Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

Home and away

November 23, 2011

If home is where the heart is, then I suppose it does follow that driving six hours to a place you’ve never seen can be a homecoming.

They grow them blue here, apparently

The location:  Canandaigua, New York.  The Inn on the Lake to be precise, for my sixth Knitter’s Review Retreat.  Four days sans lunches to pack, calls to field or Sesame Street songs to hear.  (The part about disconnecting from work didn’t quite happen at the beginning, as early-morning server failure forced a few minutes of work on arrival, but then, complete and total severance from the World of Work.)

Ten years of KRR

It doesn’t matter whether we are at Jeronimo Resort, the Seven Hills Inn, the Williams Inn or the Inn on the Lake, what matters is that we are together.  Me, world’s-best-roommate KnittingKittens, Luann, Bullwinkle, Lanea, Jane, Marfa, Jennifer, Rosi, Nancy, Nanci, Tree and more, led, of course, by Clara, who makes all things possible.  This being the tenth anniversary year, the Oscar-worthy swag bags got awfully swanky ~ an official logo and even zippers on top!?!

Oscar-worthy swag

As for the contents, they could make a knitter’s knees go weak.  Knitter’s Pride needles, books, journals, patterns, buttons, coupons, a commemorative coffee mug, and yarn.  So much yarn: Classic Elite Kumara, Berocco Comfort Sock, Rowan Sweet Harmony, DirtyWater Dyeworks Julia.  At dinner, our plates were graced with even MORE yarn – laceweight Filatura DiCrosa Nirvana, too.

But all that stuff is just ~ stuff.  I go to see the people who sustain me the other 361 days of the year.  To scooch over on the couch and knit side-by-side instead of conversing in front of a monitor.  To touch fiber and compare pattern notes and wonder whether you have enough yardage to make one.  To eat a meal in each other’s company.  To laugh and laugh and laugh some more.

Knitters, knitters everywhere

In a room so full of knitters, some absences weighed heavily.  How I missed SandyT and her good sense and laughter.  And HappyStasher’s boundless enthusiasm.  It’s not the numbers in the room, but the people who make up those numbers that make this gathering what it is.  People who care about each other, brought together by a craft.  True, we can be rather goofy.  At least one new attendee was a little thrown to be asked, “What yarn would you marry if you could?” but it was all in the spirit of good fun.

Certainly a legend, never a diva

One of my delights in attending each year is the opportunity to spend time with the knitteratiwho have been so important to this craft.  This year, I was tickled to spend my weekend class time with the incomparable Ann Budd.  She has forgotten

Now you see argyle ...

more about knitting than I will ever know.  She also has a better sense of dry humor than most people inhabiting the Earth.

We started on Friday learning the fundamentals of shadow knitting.  It’s not the easiest thing to photograph, but in essence, it allows for all sorts of interesting colorwork to appear (and disappear) based on alternation of colors in two-row sequences of garter and stockinette stitch.  Those of faint heart with charts, you might want to skip this technique.  Or be sure to bring those

... now you don't!

cheaters and highlighter tape with you.  It was illuminating to see how different color combinations were easier and harder to see – stark contrast versus tonal versus complementary.

All I could think about was how hard it must have been to photograph all the samples for Vivian Hoxbro’s book, much less knit them all!

As always, it seemed like we were fed endlessly, moving from one buffet to the next.  I love how the tables all fill in at mealtime, allowing for new friendships to take root even as old ones are reaffirmed.  There is always room for one more.  And always time for one more row between courses.

Ann conquers kitchener

On Saturday, Ann took on the challenge of 30 students and the oft-dreaded Kitchener Stitch.  Having taught it before, it’s amazing how intimidating some knitters find it.  While I have my own way of teaching it, Ann had some utterly common-sense suggestions that had even the most experienced knitters in the room saying, “How did I not know that?”  That, my friends, is the mark of a great teacher.

Spirit Trail Holda in Spice and Chipotle

Later, I got to help plan out some upcoming sample knitting, setting up the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth and setting aside what I will be working on in some of the months ahead.  Let me tell you know that Holda is not to be missed.  This is yummy and cozy:  80% Lambswool / 10% Cashmere / 10% dehaired Angora.  It knits up and fills in deliciously at 18-20 st/4 in.  There is a largish cowl in the works.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande - Tuareg Blue

In addition, Jennifer brought out some new colorways in one of her other new yarns, Verdande.  V is the most substantial of the now-four sisters with the same fiber makeup – 75% Merino / 15% Cashmere / 10% Silk.  (In order, they are Nona, Sunna, Birte and Verdande.  If left on a desert island with any of them, I could hardly be disappointed.)  Verdande is 4 plies versus the 3 in  Birte, and she feels more substantial and “rounder” on the skein. This new colorway is called Tuareg Blue and it is utterly dark and rich.   There are other new colorways this season that are equally lovely – Chipotle (seen in Holda photo above), Kismet (green), Winter Solstice (midnight blue), Fig (purples).  Catch them while you can.  Provided I left any.  Cough.

Fit for a Queen Bee

This being the Big 10 event, a mere sparkly tiara simply would not do.  So the powers that be made sure that Queen Bee Clara had appropriate headgear for a night walking down memory lane.   It was a quick and fun journey, particularly seeing the four earlier years I did not attend, before the retreat moved far enough north for me to not be afraid to go.

Work and play are one and the same

Through it all, everywhere you looked, there were busy hands, working quickly, some picking, some throwing, some Continental, some English, some something in-between.  There were even some secret projects, but more on those when it is allowed.

And then it was time to leave.  All events come to a natural stopping point, and KnittingKittens and I knew instinctively when ours was.  A picture texted to me of  Darling Bebe on a playground waiting for me was tugging.

Time to return to my other life, and make this one “virtual” again. Until next year’s homecoming, wherever it may be.



August 25, 2011

While I know my knitting pals have been complaining about the summer doldrums, there has been knitting, and knitting, and knitting galore chez Owl and car Owl, train Owl and Owl en vacances.  (Although if you want to be a stickler, it would be chez Hibou, and while it sounds lovely aloud, that just does not work for me on the screen.)

What do I have to show for it?

Blob 1: Alcea

Blob 2: Just Enough Ruffles

Blobs.  Lots and lots of blobs.  Blobs that are waiting so very patiently for their turn on that seemingly ever-crowded guest bed.  That would be the place where the packing happens.  And the unpacking.  Which in my household, always takes far longer than the former.

Knit lace and what do you get?


Until the magic part.  The part too many of us think will take ten minutes … but really needs an hour or more.  Whether your “wand” is a

Blob 3: Simmer Dim

stainless-steel wire or a piece of crochet cotton, it makes the magic of blocking work.  And there is much magic to be worked now, with a hurricane ~ and the need to put the house on the market ~ looming.

Invariably, chez Owl, this all happens around 1

Blob 4: Juneberry Triangle

a.m., when Mr. Owl makes his sleeping sounds and Owl creeps around listening to the house creak, kneeling here to move one pin, there to move another.  I always swear I will do this earlier next time, but somehow, the owl-hours are the only time a good pinning-out ever happens.

And maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be, anyway.  Magic rarely happens by daylight.

The last of the blobs, this Juneberry Triangle in Spirit Trail Fiberworks Birte, will leapfrog to the front of the line to be part of a trunk show in NYC in a couple of weeks.  The other blobs will just have to be patient ~ their turns will come eventually.

Nope, no summer doldrums here.  I somehow can’t keep up with the FOs.


August 3, 2011

Heavens to Murgatroyd!  Nearly a month since my last post?  My knee-jerk response would be, “I’m not sure how that happened.”  But to bring you up-to-date, it sort of makes sense.  Since I last wrote here:

~ I have been head-hunted aggressively.  It has been most welcome, and deservedly time-consuming.  If the stars align properly the pay-off will be enormous.

Digression:  Since you are all aware that my skill with a needle and thread is inversely proportional to my skill with knitting needles and yarn, you can make your own mental picture of me, the night before a Big Interview, hemming my suit slacks by hand, having discovered at wise KnittingKittens’ urging, that even with heels, they were too d*** long.  At least it prevented me from obsessing too much about other things.  And if it didn’t go well, guess who was going to get a wake-up call and an Owl on her door-step?

~ I have been successful in the first step toward (depending on your POV) owning a white-elephant money pit we shall refer to as Owl’s Folly OR preserving an incredible piece of my city’s history.  This first approval has taken three months of meetings with contractors, bankers and other involved parties as well as waiting, and then waiting some more.  The process promises more waiting yet to come.  That’s okay, I have all the time in the world.  If it works out, NutmegOwl shall have her own Knitting Studio in her own owl box.  There, I said it.

~ The at-fault party finally paid for the last bill related to wrecking my car on December 1, 2010.

~ I completed not one, not two, but three shawls.  You’ve only seen a glimpse of one of them.  The blocking runway has been hopelessly jammed up.  (Which will never again happen if I am living in Owl’s Folly where there will be dedicated blocking space.)

~  Darling Bebe and I discovered that not only do Amtrak riders loathe sharing seats with other riders, but also conductors refuse to use their authority to make passengers move so that toddlers can safely sit in seats – much less sit with their mommies.  Nope.  Instead, the conductor in question told us to stand in the space between cars until the next stop – a half-hour away – until some people got off and try to locate seats then.  No matter that this was the expensive train, the Acela Express, and that we paid for two seats, as opposed to those fellow passengers who paid for one seat but were taking up two.  D’ya really think that was the safest place to tell a three-year-old to stand?  May a special place in heaven be reserved for the mommy who witnessed our predicament, moved her husband and herself to allow us to sit together.  And if you ever see a mother and child looking for seats on a train, do the right thing.

~ I started completing my commissions for Rhinebeck for Spirit Trail Fiberworks.  Yes – in July for October.  I’m ahead in one tiny part of my world.  Stay tuned for pictures and deets.

~ I received a big national industry award for my work.  Someone thinks I’m good at what I do, if not the person who employs me to do it and routinely castigates me for neither doing enough, nor executing it well enough.

~ Most importantly, during the most historic sweltering days New England can remember, I was able to see not one, but two of my favorite women in the world.The aforementioned award meant a trip to Boston to receive it.  Which meant some free time, too.  And a truly wonderful meal at Sel de la Terre with Hipparchia.   Hipparchia is wise and funny and the most fearless

A s'more is a s'more

knitter I’ve ever known.  Somehow she manages to churn out lovely projects while lecturing all over the world, teaching, writing and raising amazing young people.  I should be so lucky when I grow up.  And I only have so many friends who appreciate fresh duck liver mousse and take me places where I can get it.  Which is not to say that being a foodie means taking ourselves too seriously.  I mean, “warm molten chocolate fondant, toasted house made marshmallow; graham cracker ice cream” is really s’mores deconstructed, right?  Bring on the campfire!

Gather Here

A mere day later, with my business completed and the car-mometer well into the hundreds, it was time to meet cyber-sis Luann on her turf at Gather Here in Cambridge.  It was easy to see the appeal of — sewing — (There!  I said it!) surrounded by bolt after bolt of fresh bright prints.  Then again, with the AC not functioning well, it had to be in the upper ’90s indoors, so the thought of knitting or spinning was a little, umm, unappealing to say the least.

Luann's prezzie for Owl

No matter, for as you all know, when we are together, knitting is the least of it.  Of course, she had to blow me away with her new seamstress skills.  To wit, my new knitting bag – which she somehow knew I needed.  The fabric from her stash from her days in Hawaii (I only hope the writing doesn’t say, This idiot

Look! It's nutmeg!

paid too much!), and look at the lining – NUTMEG! – and with a perfectly centered pocket and magnetic closure, no less.  If she is not careful, Luann and KnittingKittens are going to be sewing an awful lot of drapes for Owl’s Folly.

Shall we call ourselves caught up, then?

In kind

June 3, 2011

When someone goes above and beyond to do a great kindness, the only proper response is repayment in kind.

Koulouria by Helen

The kindess: A carefully wrapped shoebox filled to the brim with koulourakia (koo-loo-RAH-key-uh), or koulouria (koo-LOO-ree-uh), as we call them.  They are my favorite Greek cookie.  Like a traditional shortbread, they are crunchy, somewhat dry and not too sweet.  The perfect accompaniment to coffee in the morning.

No one makes better koulouria than Helen.  When her daughter was married a couple of years ago, Helen left a box of them in every out-of-town guest’s hotel room.  They were divine.  So when I recently saw Helen at a family gathering, I asked if she might share her recipe.  Helen came through with the recipe and the aforementioned stash of cookies.  I made short work of them, as my hips can attest.

How to repay such generosity?

Spirit Trail Fiberworks Paivatar in action

After some collusion with her wonderful daughters, we determined that lavender would be a nice color for a little something.  As if there wouldn’t be something lavender and appropriate just waiting in the stash … which, of course, there

Elektra by Romi Hill

was.  (Insert giggle/snort of choice here.)  Two skeins of Spirit Trail Fiberworks Paivatar, a merino/cashmere/nylon blend in Lilac.  I married it with Elektra for a host of reasons: the Greek origins of the pattern name, its unique pentagonal

Wearable in many ways

shape, its wearability ’round the shoulders in chilly summer air conditioning or around the neck under a coat in winter.

The pattern by Romi Hill is terrific; flawlessly written.  I made some modifications to make up for not using beads, as follows:  Instead of using the suggested increase for each of the spines, I used a YO.  This highlighted the spines in a decorative way without having to stop and insert beads.  If you are making your own – I did this for every increase until the last chart.

YOs along the spine, shaping

Because I was wary of running out of yarn, I opted for the minimum number of repeats.  In a perfect world, I would have knitted using US 5 needles because Paivatar is closer to a DK weight than a fingering, but because of yardage concerns, I went with US 4.  I blocked the daylights out of it and the garter stitch opened up quite nicely.  Ultimately, I had about eight yards of yarn left over, confirming my suspicions.  Sometimes the Yarn Goddess is with us ~ probably because this was a gift.

Long edge detail

I was very pleased with Paivatar in spite of working it up on a slightly smaller needle than it really wanted.  (Not the yarn’s fault.)  This yarn would be suitable for a cowl or other next-to-skin wear.  It certainly handled lace – and blocking – eagerly.  I used regular blunt-tipped Addi Turbos and it did not split at all.  The colorway exactly matched its name, and its tonal variation was perfect. I did alternate skeins at the spot where the garter-stitched edge met the pattern so that the two skeins would blend.

Project marriage score: 9

Elektra is now belatedly winging its way to Helen, having spent more time than I will admit to on the the wires.  Really, it’s the least I could do.

Now I have to pull out the flour, sugar and eggs and try to replicate Helen’s koulouria.  On the other hand, there’s a Greek festival this weekend and I’m sure I’ll find some there …


March 16, 2011

If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

Kilkenny Cowl

That credo prevails in my knitting.  Thus, my recent frogging and complete re-start of the Quince & Co. Kilkenny Cowl.  I was not pleased at the Knitting Time Lost.  And having knitted what is essentially the body of a sport-weight sweater ~ twice ~ I was bored.

Chickadee in Gingerbread

When I was finished knitting, I liked it.

Now that it’s blocked ~ it is delicious.

The difference is all in the blocking.

I’m rather finicky about blocking cowls.  In order to get the shape I want without a crease, it involves working in three dimensions.  Often, inverting my trusty old tin vase works fine, but this one took a modicum of creativity.

I put a sleeping pillow into a large plastic bag, lining the inside with tall pieces of recycled cardboard.  After soaking the cowl in Eucalan, I blotted it, then put the bagged pillow/cardboard inside the cowl to hold it up.  I pinned the cowl into the plastic and cardboard where the ribbing and the knitting meet ~ not at the bind-off: I did not want the edge to develop points.  (Yes, I thought about photographing this, but it was not aesthetically pleasing and looked rather jury-rigged.)

Toasty Gingerbread

This allowed the cowl to dry quickly, suspended gently, with no creases.

The Quince & Co. Chickadee in Gingerbread blocked out wonderfully without any special pinning out ~ the lace sectioned opened nicely.  The yarn bloomed and softened a bit.  The colorway looks a little washed out in these photos ~ it is richer IRL.

For the record, although I did not stretch this in any way, the yarn did relax for a much larger circumference after pinning.

Finished dimensions:  Height: 14.5 inches   Circumference: 38 inches.  Used 3.5 skeins.

Project marriage score: 9.5

No cable needle needed

This version of the cowl includes eight chart repeats, not seven, so that I can pull it up over my head in case of need.  (Thanks for that suggestion, Luann!)  My row gauge tends to always be shorter than my stitch gauge, so the additional repeat compensates, too.  And, BTW, I knitted the whole thing without a cable needle.  About time I learned how to do that …

I am rapidly entering the WIP wilderness where it may be awhile before I have much to show you.  There’s a little personal designing going on for this month’s Babydoll Southdown wool-along.  We’ll see where that goes.  If it’s worth looking at, I’ll show you.  If it’s not, I’ll probably show you anyway.

Unwound – Pt. I

November 19, 2010

A mere five days after re-entry to the real world, and the 2010 Knitter’s Review Retreat already seems like months ago.  It elicits a wistful Casablanca, “We’ll always have Williamstown …”  So now I commit it to writing to try to recapture some of its magic.


And it is magic.  How many events do alleged adults plan four months in advance, then count down the days, weeding through stash, preparing presents and endlessly packing for?  On departure, the Owl and the Pussycat (KnittingKittens) did a fair job at filling a small SUV.  For 2010, we had given ourselves a special gift: the Thursday extension ~ four days and three nights unplugged and unwound.

My talisman

Then, the pleasant drive over rivers and hills, through the Berkshires.  KnittingKittens and I take periodic day-trips hither and yarn, so it didn’t yet feel as if we were going away.  Until we reached my personal milestone, the signal that we are quite near.  There’s something endlessly cosmic about it.

The 2010 KRR SwagBag

On arrival at the Williams Inn, well, it all started to sink in.  The hugs.  The smiles.  The how-do-we-get-all-this-to-the-room?  The goodie bags.  Yes, there is swag that for knitters, rivals the old Oscar presenter presents.  Inside:  A Schulana pattern book; Clara’s beautiful KR notecards; a stitch marker; a skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock (which I have never knitted with before); Filatura DiCrosa Zara and Berroco Blackstone Tweed.  Indie dyer Dirty Water Dye Works Julia, too.

The official swag

And dear to me, as you’ll

Limited edition

hear later, a special commemorative button from Briar Rose Fibers.  We had checked in early, then scooted to a nearby grill for a bite of lunch, not surprised at all to encounter longtime KRR friends already seated.

The BlackBerry, set to “vibrate,” began to dance.  Took work call, returned to lunch.

An early Christmas

As cars filled the lot, the presents — less important than the presence — began to appear.  Notepads and sachets, stitchmarkers and project bags.  Each will remind me of the giver in the months ahead.

We gathered, and under the watchful eye of Lanea, whipped the Stash Lounge into submission for all to enjoy.

2AAT tutoring

Friday, the day began with an intensive, speed-dating version of Melissa Morgan-Oakes‘ Two-at-a-Time From the Toe Up class.  Melissa is a very talented instructor, one who is able to communicate a concept in as many ways as it takes to help a student understand, and uses subtle tools to allow those who are behind a chance to catch up without pressure.  I use her 2AAT technique all the time, and prefer socks from the toe up (in those very rare instances that I knit contemplate knitting

Metaphor Yarns hit the sweet spot

socks).  Even with the whole day before us, Melissa condensed a seven-hour class into five, taking us through gussets and heel turns until everyone had something to show.  Of course, we were aided by these pretty little packages from Metaphor Yarns – fresh chocolate!

Jackie, fitted to perfection

By the time class ended, the number of retreaters had begun to swell.

And the BlackBerry danced.  And danced.

The gorgeous knits began to come out, like this perfectly fitted and executed Jackie in Briar Rose Fibers Fourth of July.  I think this version is much prettier than the original.

Fearless Leader Clara Parkes

There was Bullwinkle and Rosi and our dear Sweet Jane (whose name cannot be disentangled from that utterly apt adjective); Marfa, Purlewe, HappyStasher, Ripko and NanciKnits to name a few aside from my own cyber-sister, Luann.  Called together from the proverbial four corners by the woman known as The Yarn Whisperer, Clara Parkes, we assembled together for an evening of introductions.  (Note: Will some designer deconstruct that store-bought cardigan, please?)

And what a crowd we were!  From

Here a knitter, there a knitter ...

Arizona to Oregon to Maine and Florida … college students to retirees … new moms and grandmas … each with enthusiasm and the desire to create something from sticks and string.

The BlackBerry was reset to “Silent.”  Its red eye blinked.

Rather than the usual “who/where” introductions, we were asked to talk about our favorite fibers.  I shall refrain from repeating the racy terminology that followed so as to keep the spammers at bay. Suffice it to say, it was, ummmm, tactile.  There was little professed monogamy 😉  If you are wondering, I extolled the virtues of BFL – my yarn BFF ~ specifically Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days, which I’ve babbled raved displayed here before.  It was ~ yarnographic. ‘Nuff said.

Read on for Pt. II


September 1, 2010

A decade.

Ten years.

Just ten years.

Ten years ago.

Once upon a time, all those years ago, give or take a day, NutmegOwl walked into a LYS for the first time.  You see, at the place I worked, a co-worker had invited a group of people to learn to knit on their lunch hours.  She didn’t invite me.  But I would stop by their lessons and watch what they did.  “I can do that,” I thought.  As the summer weeks passed, it was clear I would not be invited.  So I asked where they had purchased their supplies, and on Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, marched in the door and made my declaration.

“I’m going to knit a sweater.”

I left armed with a Susan Bates instructional paperback, a set of US 11 straight plastic needles, a bagful of Paton’s Decor yarn, and a copy of Family Circle Easy Knitting.  Holding a forest green solid and an autumnal variegated together, within two weeks, I had finished the V-neck with the mock cable up the front.

By Christmas, I had completed that sweater for my sister (which I have never seen again), the fluted rib wrap for mom mom and a sport-weight ribbed V-neck vest for my dad.  I remember how surprised they were on Christmas morning when I told them that I had made the gifts myself.

I look back on the months that followed and marvel at my fearless ignorance.  There wasn’t much that I wasn’t willing to throw myself into.  Fine gauge?  Cider House Rules vest from Interweave Knits in Jamieson’s shetland.  Intarsia?  Goddaughter’s layette, think lots of Debbie Bliss and MinnowKnits.  Stripes?  Goddaughter’s layette.  Texture?  You name it.  Except, at the time, for lace, which was something only those on Mount Olympus made from cobwebs.  Little did I know what I was missing!

The knitting world was so different then.  I’ve just been reminded that Knitter’s Review went up right about the same time.  (Check out the new design to commence its 11th year!)  A community of knitters online.  Who’d have thought?  I had no idea some of my deepest friendships would be cultivated that way.

Back then, patterns were only available through books, magazines and pamphlets in LYS.  Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting and Family Circle were the only quarterly games in town.  Online yarn sales?  They followed soon after, opening up a world of yarns that might not be carried locally.

Pack up your bags and go spend a weekend with strangers in another state at a knitting retreat?  Sure!  How did I choose to introduce myself to a roomful of strangers?  By publicly frogging a nearly-finished complicated cabled Manos pullover that wasn’t meant to be.  (Today, that retreat is my personal Christmas.  Plenty to say about that here.)

Being considered skilled and articulate enough to actually teach other people?  For money?  That one kind of stopped me in my tracks.  Momentarily.  And I found my second knitting love ~ unlocking the mysteries of this craft to bring other knitters on the journey with me.

To paraphrase the YarnHarlot: I am simply never not knitting ~ at least in my head.  A rare day passes that does not involve even two rows of something.

Life has changed greatly in the interim, but knitting has been the constant.

I went trolling about this morning, looking for the appropriate “anniversary” that goes with 10:  Tin, aluminum.

My first thought:  Uhhhhhhhh.  Not too festive.

Then the lightbulb:  aluminum.  The original Inox circulars that first populated my needle collection.  They’ve mostly been replaced by Addi Turbo and Addi Lace today, but I still reach for them from time to time, like old slippers, and run the black cords under hot water to unkink them.

I do still have those original straight plastic needles, too.  It’s been a long and lovely journey.  And if I wanted to, I could pick up those same needles and make something lovely.

Ten years.  That’s a shiny knit-a-versary.


June 22, 2010

A shady table outside a busy bakery on a sweet little street in Providence, RI.  Time for knitting talk and mommy-talk and girl-friending: YarnoraMama II.

OTN Squared: Tudor Grace

By now, I’m beyond being surprised to find that my cybersister Luann and I have the same project on the needles ~ Knitspot’s Tudor Grace.  Hers is a test-knit for Spirit Trail Fiberworks.  Mine is the second go-round, this time for Mom.  (My first, like so many projects, is waiting balefully for blocking but needs to be gifted later this week.)  It’s just one of those connections we seem to have.

fresh purls

And that’s what our YarnoraMamas are about: connecting in person when we can, since so much of our relationship is by necessity online.

Of course, we plan our destinations by yarn shop.  I mean, we have to have a destination and it might as well be about the thing that brought us together.

We could not have received a warmer welcome from Helen and Karen at fresh purls.  If coldness spells death for a LYS, it is

Mountain Colors River Twist

friendliness that builds a business.  I had sent an email to the shop in advance of our visit to ask some scouting questions about the neighborhood.  They went so far as to offer us their own parking spaces, and even a most kind discount during our visit.

So it’s no stretch that some yarn came home with us.  Mine is Mountain Colors River Twist, a yarn I’ve been looking at for a good while.  The upper colorway is Hot Springs ~ certainly Owl-appropriate.  The lower just sings mittens for Darling Bebe.  It’s so happy and handspun-looking.  I’ll let Luann tell you ’bout hers on her own.

Vases at Kreatelier

The whole Hope Street neighborhood was a “find” in itself, a place for artisans and one-of-a-kind treasures.  (In the karmic realm, I used to live on Hope Street in a different city.)  There was Kreatelier, a place where needle and thread create such beautiful things … their spare buttons, scraps and spools were lovely by

L'hibou kit for Darling Bebe


Owl is remedial, to put it kindly, when it comes to anything sewing-related. I attribute part of this to education on computers instead of anything approaching a “home ec” class that might have taught me how to backstitch properly.  However, I am optimistic that by the time Darling Bebe is old enough to work this kit with me, we will be able to follow the pre-stamped dotted lines to sew and stuff a pair of owls.  Material, needle, thread, scissors and stuffing all included.  Failure is not an option.  And I have a few years, right?

From Frog & Toad

Across the street was one of those sorts of shops that carries every clever, eclectic, often-green and usually handmade thing you’ve ever seen in one place.  Frog and Toad supplied me with a few more of my favorite headbands – the kind that are wide and look like scarves without actually being scarves.  They disguise many a bad-hair day to be sure.

The retail sales were but a backdrop for a much-needed visit; these, I can write about here.

And after a little lunch with the drone of vuvuzelas and soccer in the background, the unforgiving clock said it was time to head back to our respective states to avoid being fined for late daycare pick-up.

So off we went in different directions, the reprise no less sweet than the original YarnoraMama.


February 23, 2010

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not aiming this at any one person anywhere, so I will not engage in a snippy online firestorm if someone claims to feel “attacked.” I greatly respect those individuals who stick their necks out with original designs and weather the onslaught of comments and demands for tweaks and revisions and help.

I write this post at my own peril.  But it’s time to get it off my chest.

Not surprisingly, I have an affinity for the happy little owl cables first brought to popular light (to my knowledge, and feel free to correct me) by Penny Straker.  They can be applied just about anywhere. Fine.  And some people have come up with contemporary new applications, like o w l s and the companion owlet.  Brilliant.  Or Give a Hoot! , which features some fun and pretty thumb construction.  Nice.


Applying this cable (or substitute name for a like embellishment) to another pattern and calling it your “design” does not make you a designer.  In fact, it doesn’t make it your design.

I readily recognize that mods to an existing pattern may be faved by many, who may ask you to write it down.  And yes, to register as a designer on ravelry is one mechanism for this.  And if you should publish your modified design providing full credit and attribution to the original designer, then I salute you.

But if you did not — if you merely substituted or placed a cable on someone else’s design — I suggest you put your mods in your project notes and on your blogs for others who wish to follow them.  There are enough discussion threads/helpful notes stickies/tags to find them.

Did you labor over the gauge, stitch counts and sizing?  Did you draw a schematic?  Did you have friends test-knit and proof-read and tech-edit?

I thought not.

While I premise this vent over the subject of owls, they are but a microcosm of what’s out there in the explosion of self-publishing via Internet.  Substitute “leaf” or “butterfly” or whatever object you choose.

The issue is the same.

Please have some integrity.

I feel better now.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled day, while I abruptly switch gears and send very warm thoughts to the wonderful kate davies and dear SandyT.

The next generation

February 12, 2010

“Want to wear Mommy’s hat!”

I hear that a lot, and hand over my Narragansett Beret.

“Want to wear Mommy’s scarf!”


Well, it’s actually a cowl, Darling Girl, but of course, I cannot resist.

Last night, DG was extremely mellow, wanting nothing more than to quietly watch some Sesame Street.  Since she has shown signs of Extreme Knitting Jealousy, and my fingers were itchy, I asked whether I could do some knitting.

“Okay, Mommy.”

There we were, side-by-side on the couch.  Her attention very quickly turns from Elmo to shiny needles.

“Want to knit.”

“Mommy will teach you when you’re bigger.”

“Want to knit like Mommy!”

Heart melts.

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