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Saturday, August 25, 2007

What to Wear

One of my last projects at my job will be our big benefit gala. We have a performance in a downtown theater, bus everyone to a hotel for cocktails and a silent auction, and end the evening with dinner and dancing to an orchestra. It is a major to-do with 600-650 people at the dinner and sometimes as many as 600 more at the show. Since it will be my last one (yea! no more stressing-out about overcooked filet or whether someone likes his/her table placement), I wanted to find something special to wear. Not necessarily special in the "oh, it's just Dolce and Gabbana" way (someone actually said that to me once, like I shop D&G all the time), but special to me. So I thought that in the two months I have, I might make something. Enter Knitter's Magazine.

It's Garnet Wings by Julie Gaddy. What do you think?
Big plus: it covers the upper arms. It looks like a simple, straightforward knit with a little bling from the Tilli Tomas beaded* yarn. I don't know that I'd go skein to skein in the body--I might alternate to avoid the pooling. Oh, and I'd make it long enough that *hopefully* my bellybutton wouldn't pooch out. I'm thinking this sweater with a straight black skirt and black boots and I'm good to go.
*I just ordered the yarn from KPixie. They didn't have the Rock Star beaded yarn in American Beauty, so I ordered Disco Lights. Even more bling! The Disco Lights might be a little lighter since the sequins weigh less than the beads, but I think the sleeves will still hang well. I hope it gets here quickly, because I am going to have to get my a** in gear to get this finished with all of the long work hours ahead of me. After that, it's babyknittingbabyknittingbabyknitting. I have several friends who are pregnant, and the other night my aunt called to tell me that she is going to be a grandmother. I'm going to be operating a Baby Surprise Jacket factory soon.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Frog Strangler*

No knitting today, just some freaktastic weather to report. Late this afternoon, a big ol' storm rolled through the Chicago area. The Husband works in a highrise downtown with western-facing windows, so he often gets a spectacular view of the weather headed our way. For the first time since he's been there, they evacuated the residents of the building to the core, away from windows, because there were reports of tornadoes headed toward the city. Yikes. On my way up Lake Shore Drive, I must have passed 20-30 downed trees (large and small), 20 tipped-over port-a-potties still positioned by the lakefront from last weekend's Air and Water Show (eeew), and, get this, a highrise roof, complete with several large metal air vents, sitting in the middle of the highway.
The photo above is a craptastic cellphone shot of the clouds that were barrelling by as I waited to pick The Husband up from the train. A normal ten-minute ride for him was an hour long today. Not long after this shot, those clouds opened up and the city streets turned into rivers.
*Apparently some frogs look up when it rains, resulting in their untimely demise. I don't actually know if this is true.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Michigan Fiber Festival (Part 2, The Loot)

The part you really want to know about...

The aforementioned niddy noddies.

A needlefelted cat pin that I'm going to convert to a Christmas ornament for the fiber tree. (It looks a bit like our "baby"cat, Papel.) This is the densest needlefelted item I have ever touched -- really well done.

I bought 8 oz. each of Blue Faced Leicester from two different vendors. Neither picture did it justice (it is so soft and so smooth), so here is a picture of an actual Blue Faced Leicester in its place. I'm going to try and get the wheel going and spin some for socks.

Two different colorways of Shelridge Farm sock yarn. (What looks like orange is really brown.) I kind of stalked a woman to get it. She was carrying around all eight skeins of the blue/brown and decided she only needed six. When she put two back, I counted to five and then picked them up. (I didn't want to be grabby!)

Two ounces of dyed mohair ringlets for felting projects.

Briar Rose was my first stop and is often where I do the most damage. She has a website, but it is so different buying it in person. Chris is just darling and the colors just don't show to their best advantage on a computer. These are three small (450 yard) skeins of Briar Rose Grace for socks.

Two large skeins (900 yards each) of Grace for an Icarus Shawl. Briar Rose has the most gorgeous colors, but no two skeins are the same. You can either alternate or let serendipity take hold. My guess is that I'll alternate, but I don't know yet.

I also bought some lovely handmade soaps for my girls, Sandra and SA.

After two weekends in a row of classes and shopping, I need to lay low. There is a thunderstorm and it's pouring here (I'm really glad I came home yesterday rather than driving in this mess today), so I may try to play with the wheel a bit. It's definitely an inside day.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Michigan Fiber Festival 2007 (Part 1)

I am officially at the end of my personal fiber event season. (Someday I will get to Rhinebeck!)

This year I decided to go up to Allegan two days early so that I could take some classes. Because I had a work meeting Tuesday night, I had to leave at 4am on Wednesday in order to get to my first class at 9am eastern time. (I ALWAYS forget Michigan is on eastern time.) After a few snafus (detours here in Chicago, a non-functioning I-Pass), I squeaked in with just 15 minutes to spare.
My first class was Acid Dyeing, an all-day affair. I was tired, it was hot (classes are in un-air conditioned barns), and the class was a bit more disorganized than I would have liked. Nonetheless, I learned just enough about acid dye to be dangerous. We mixed primary colors plus turquoise and fuchsia and then learned formulas for mixing other colors from those stock solutions.

On Thursday, I took Advanced Dyeing, another all-day class. We went over techniques for injection dyeing, sprinkling with dry dyes, kettle dyeing, and hand painting. My purpose in taking the class was to try hand painting sock yarn, so while the instructor had provided materials and fibers for the other techniques, I focused on painting skeins of undyed yarn that I brought with me. While I may not be the next great indie dyer after just two days of classes, I was pretty happy with my results:

I was trying to re-create a Colinette colorway and a discontinued STR colorway. While I didn't quite get either, I learned enough to do better next time. (They really aren't as neon as they look on my monitor.)

Once they were dry, I re-skeined them. Let me tell you, re-skeining yarn sitting on an air mattress in a tent using your feet as a swift is hard work.

On Friday, the early arrival vendors opened at 10am, and I did the bulk of my shopping then. I went from never even using a niddy noddy to owning five:

Just how did this happen? Well, I wanted a 1 yard and a 2 yard, but the first few I came across (Kromski and Ashford), were not made in the US, so naturally they weren't in yards. I bought them anyway. Then, I found a nice handcrafted 2 yard, so I bought that. Later, I found a handcrafted 1.5 yard, so I got it, as well. Finally, I found an adjustable one that goes from .5 yard to 2 yards and increments in between, so I bought that one, too. If I had seen that first, it would have saved me quite a few bucks. That's what you get for being an impulse shopper. Oh, well, it's an instant collection that happens to go with the logo for this year's festival:

On Friday afternoon, I took a Pita Felt class, a method which utilized thin bubble wrap as a resist between layers of fiber to form a pouch. It was a new technique for me and I produced this nifty little holder for my iPod (which needs some serious blocking):

This morning, I zipped through the vendors that loaded in last night, went to visit the animals, and packed my tent for home. I was justtoo tired to last another day, wasn't in the mood for crowds, and I was all shopped out. And, even though I really do enjoy sleeping in the tent, the shower facilities there leave a lot to be desired, so I headed for the comforts of home.

On the subject of sleeping in the tent, it was hot, muggy and rainy Wednesday night, but it was downright cold Thursday and Friday. It was great sleeping weather. (In 2006, it was hot and rainy every night--nothing ever dried out. Blech.) One disappointment this year was that they had the pavilion set up for the Saturday fashion show and dinner, so people didn't gather there in the evenings as they had before. For me, part of the fun had been hanging out at night with knitters, spinners, and weavers and learning about what everyone else was doing. As a result, it felt much more solitary. In some respects, it was fine given recent circumstances that have required a bit of introspection, and it did give me a chance to finish Three Bags Full, a charming book so appropriate for the occasion. Still, I did miss some of the community aspects of the event.

I leave you with pictures of those to whom we owe our gratitude for supplying the materials for our craft(s):

This little fellow and I bonded. Seriously, one year I will come home with a rabbit.

I love those ears!

I know that these are working animals and not just pets, but the very used-looking "I'm 4 SALE" neckerchief made my heart hurt just a bit.

Next post: yarn acquisitions!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Isn't all yarn p0rn s0ft c0re?

Stitches: One Girl's Entanglements

The Haul

Ellen's 1/2 Pint Farm Merino Sock

Laceweight Merino

(I really lusted for the Quiviut, but it was $56 a ball compared to $9 for the merino. I compromised.)

New Patterns (Note the fishnets on the right.)


There's Shaefer Anne, Lorna's Laces, Tofutsies, Regia's Kaffe Fasset line, Dream in Color Smooshy and Oasis Yarns Aussi Wool in the pile, too. Aside from the laceweight, it is all sock yarn. (A little obsessive, no?)

My Saturday afternoon class on altering garments for length was very good. The session focused on fixing the problem by cutting and grafting rather than ripping. Margaret Fisher is a very clear, methodical teacher and I recommend her classes. (The class on zippers and other closures I took last year was equally helpful.)

I really cut back on my Stitches immersion this year and I'm glad I did. Two classes plus the fashion show was just enough this go 'round. Last year I took five classes plus the fashion show and student banquet. Add Market time in and it was a little intense. This year had the added bonus of spending time with friends. Thursday night, my business associate and friend Liz and I served as mutual enablers. (Liz is now the proud owner of a swift, the knitting equivalent of an in-home washing machine; you can't imagine how you ever lived without it.) On Saturday, I got to spend a few hours with Carey who drove down from Minneapolis. She double-dipped at both the comic conference and Stitches. (I wonder how much crossover there was between the two.) It was great to see her.

Next week, Michigan. I hope it's not sweltering. There is NO air conditioning there and the tent sure can get toasty.

Friday, August 10, 2007

In Stitches (Yeah, I know that's bad...)

Stitches Midwest is sharing the ever-lovely Donald E. Stephens (R.I.P.) Convention Center with a comic conference called Wizard or something. As you might guess, hilarity ensues:
  • I've heard several of the Wizard attendees referring to a knitting conference as "weird" and "strange". Hello, Pot, this is Kettle.

  • I rode the parking garage elevator with a Stormtrooper, a Pirate Wench, and Professor Snape. I was unharmed. (A poor imitation of Snape, I might add, since you know how I feel about Alan Rickman.)

  • Wonder Woman and The Joker are drawn together by their mutual need for nicotine:

(Sorry for the crap-tastic phone picture.)

I'll give a comprehensive run-down of the stash acquisitions later (modest enhancement for me, I might add), but it is worth noting that I picked up the new Cat Bordhi book. It is a good thing that woman uses her powers for good, because she is a freaking genius.

I took an EXCELLENT class from Susanna Hansson on Japanese Short Rows. Pretty fantabulous.

La Mondragon wore leopard print pants to MC the fashion show. Need I say more?