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Monday, September 25, 2006

Temptation, Thy Name is Etsy

I've been a little low lately. So, what do I do when I'm feeling blue? Buy yarn, of course. This particular yarn buying frenzy was fueled by listening to Lime and Violet podcasts. Between the giggling and double entendre, there is yarn content. Yarn porn, to put it in their words. So, when they mentioned a few Etsy sellers recently, I popped online to check them out. OhMyOhMy. So far, my Etsy experiences have been lovely. Friendly emails. Prompt replies. Nifty little extras tossed in. And the yarn (which all arrived today!) is n-i-c-e. Squishy. Soft. For the most part, the colors were what I expected them to be. (A couple were a little darker, but that is the risk buying online with the vagaries of digital home photography and monitors.)

I have been realizing that those who read my blog must think that I only buy yarn and do not actually knit with it due to the lack of FOs. This is a conclusion one might reasonably draw. Yes, I am now the owner of probably 25 skeins of sock yarn (could be more) and not a single finished sock to show for it. (I'm working on it.) We can't even talk about the rest of the stash. It has its own zip code at this point. (It doesn't. It should.) My "Summer of Stash" went up in smoke. But I have plans. There will be more knitting and less working. There. Must. Be. It may mean radical changes will need to be made. I'm gearing up. It may take a few years, but I'm starting to lay the groundwork. Right now I've got a little too much invested in what I do for a career and not enough in anything else. (Well, if you don't count what I have invested in yarn.)

I am off for some relaxation. And knitting. That's the plan, at least. I'm taking my mom on a cruise to Bermuda for her 60th birthday. After more than a week of inactivity, today a storm began brewing in the Atlantic. Fab-u-lous. I've got the Dramamine.

NOTE: The Etsy yarns pictured are Fearless Fibers, Yarntini, Gypsy Knits, and Twisted. There might be another one that I'm not remembering.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Miss Bill*

This week I was in Little Rock, AR for a conference. Never one to pass up a fiber op, I found the two yarn stores in town, rented a car and headed out. Let me just say this: sometimes, inexplicably, yarn shop owners and staff can be a little strange, a little unwelcoming. Not the case in Little Rock. In both shops, staffers and owners could not have been nicer, more eager to help, or more welcoming. The two stores are distinct in their personalities: The Yarn Mart is well-stocked with a nice variety of yarns. They also feature needlepoint canvases and supplies. I would categorize this shop as more conservative, but an excellent resource nonetheless. Handworks Gallery is in an old house. When I entered, I was a little taken aback by the bags and tubs of yarn everywhere; it looked like someone had picked the place up and shaken it like a snowglobe. Turns out they were changing over the stock for the season. (Even the bathroom is used for yarn storage.) Despite the chaotic appearance, it was clear that this place had tons to offer. And, again, the staff could not have been nicer or more eager to help. I bought a few books. I made a second trip back a few days later with some other fiber fiend colleagues and bought the only skein of Shaefer Anne they had in stock. Handworks is a little funky. If the shop were a person, she would be described as eccentric, but in a good way. If I lived in LR, I'm sure I'd visit a lot.

Speaking of LR, my conference had a party at the Clinton Library. I didn't get to walk around a lot, but I did take a bunch of pics of the Oval Office. The security guard (who could not have been nicer-- a theme in this town) assured me it was to scale. I gotta tell you, it looks bigger on The West Wing!

I stayed at the Peabody Hotel while in Little Rock. It was all about the ducks: the 11am & 5pm duck march, the duck-shaped soaps, the duck shirts, the duck hats. (Thoughtfully, the hotel restaurant does not serve duck.)

Nice rooms, and I had this great view:

*Clinton, that is.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Final Fiber Festival 2006

On Friday afternoon I left work early and drove up to Jefferson, WI for the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. Alas, I will not be attending either Taos or Rhinebeck (next year!), so this past weekend was my final yarn outing of the year. (At least I think it is--things can change!) This festival is clearly geared more toward the animals that produce fiber than the fiber itself. Witness the following:

I knew that this was going to be different than Michigan when I arrived and saw only one other tent. And the place was teeming with Border Collies. I quickly set the tent up under the threat of an approaching thunderstorm. (That one passed, but another made a direct hit around 4am.) After "making camp" I went to the Country Store preview. There were some interesting things to be had: wool mattress toppers, very cool recycled sweater coats (much nicer than the pictures I took so I'm not going to post a pic), and my new favorite fiber crack dealer, Briar Rose. (A note about Briar Rose: her colors are muted and inconsistent--a good thing in this case. I love the subtle shadings and the crazy ways you can combine seemingly unrelated skeins into a garment. I first found out about her company because she is a sponsor of the wonderful Cast-On podcast. Please visit her website but know that her yarns are so much more wonderful in person. I now own enough of her Sonoma to stretch from here to Sonoma...)

Outside of the vendors, I saw no knitters. There wasn't a place to really hang in the evening like there was in Michigan, so at 8pm I was ensconced in my tent ready for sleep. I put on the headlamp (!!!) and spent the evening reading this. I looked around, thought "I've been in this tent for two hours and it is cluttered. How in hell am I going to unclutter my whole house?!" I'm on chapter six and, while I don't go in for the new-agey aspects of the book, there are a lot of good ideas to be had. I'm starting with a major re-do of my yarn storage--a formidable task--first.

I decided to take one more pass through the Country Store in the morning, walked through the animal barns, and packed up. I was on my way by 10:30am. I did get this butternut squash-colored yarn for my attempt to replicate the Anthropologie Pendulum Vest:

I decided to stop by The Fold on my way home. Toni had been at both Maryland and Michigan as well as Stitches, so I was surprised she wasn't at Wisconsin. Now that I've been to WI, it makes sense; I'm sure she does more business at home on an average Saturday than she would do at that show. When I pulled in, there were already nine cars in the driveway, and more pulled up while I was there. Her shop is connected to her house and it is jam-packed with anything and everything a fiber addict could want. There were bags and bags of fiber, loads of spindles and wheels, and a huge rack of Socks that Rock. Amazing.

I picked up a ball of Trekking XXL and a couple of skeins of STR, including the one on the right that I had to have, not because I particularly liked the colorway, but because the name is "Prove It All Night." My Bruce Springsteen-loving heart could not pass it up.

So, the long and short of it: I'm glad I went, but Michigan will be my Midwestern fiber festival of choice in the future.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Parallel Play

For a long time, I resisted the siren's call of the iPod. I, who rarely has my cell phone on (mostly because I let it run out of power and forget to recharge it), did not need another palm-sized object to encumber me. Then one day I became aware of a phenomenon that had previously alluded me, the knitting podcast. A broadcast about knitting, something I could listen to while doing other things?! I was intrigued. As those who know me understand, I do not enter into a new hobby or interest lightly; if I decided to make/collect/attempt/experience something, I get all the equipment. I need my props and costumes. (My background is in theater so it makes perfect sense. You should see the pile of "provisions" needed for my little fiber camping adventures. Insanity.) So, I bought the video iPod. And two sets of earphones. And two different iPod cases/skins. And...I am hooked. I spend more time in bed with this thing than I do with the husband. (Make of that what you will, but I listen to it when I am going to sleep which presents its own set of problems: I often fall asleep before I finish listening to whatever I've started; I sometimes get tangled up on the earpiece cords; and I wake up in terrible pain because the over-the-ear-hook is pressing into my skull in a most uncomfortable way.) Still, I love my pod. (I love the husband, too.)

The husband has a Saturday morning ritual: he gets up, showers, reads the paper for a little while, goes out to his favorite neighborhood breakfast joint for a Viking Breakfast (we live in what was once a Swedish neighborhood, and Svea is one of the few Swedish establishments left), and he listens to Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. He works long hours, and I hated to see him get up so early on a Saturday in time to get his morning errands done so that he could get back to the house in time for the Tom and Ray hour of automotive hilarity, so a few years ago I suggested he get a receiver with headphones. He is kind of a low-tech guy, so he went to the local Radio Shack and bought a $15 model that has served him well. What I didn't realize at the time (but I should have) was that, because Car Talk is laugh-out-loud funny and the husband laughs REALLY LOUDLY, he might look like a madman laughing to himself when he was out and about in our little neighborhood. These days, at least he is not alone. There was a time, before earpieces and Bluetooth, when the people talking and laughing to themselves on the street were the ones likely to be in need of some psychiatric assistance; now you have to look for the cords and earclips to see if someone is truly talking to him- or herself or to someone else. (I did recently hear a statistic that said up to 25% of cell phone conversations are not actually conversations at all, but are the "caller" staging the conversation to look important. Hey, you people who do that, you don't look important, you're just adding to the noise pollution! And what ever happened to just being alone with your thoughts; do you really have to talk loudly about your bad date last night in the produce aisle at the Jewel? do?! Huh...)

Now that I have my little pod and he has his Saturday morning radio appointment, we spend a fair part of the morning sitting on our balcony immersed in our own worlds, not speaking, and each of us laughing out of synch with the other. It's a little weird.