Monday, January 29, 2007

Madrona Fiber Arts!

Wow. I had a great time at the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat.

It was so worth it to me to stay at the hotel because it allowed me to really enjoy my time there. My head/brain was swimming with information everyday. I didn't have to battle the traffic everyday and that was certainly a treat.

I attended three full days of classes. I spent all three days with Jean Wong.

I took Tailored Knitting the Japanese Way(two days) and Fine Finishing Techniques(one day). I learned so much. Jean is a patient teacher, always making sure everyone understands what she is trying to explain. She had to explain some concepts two, three different ways so we all could understand it. If you ever get a chance to take a class with her I highly recommend it!

Here are some photos taken during class. The first one is of an example of how we create a pattern for our particular body measurements and guage of yarn/needle size for a sweater we are designing.

Here we are working hard at using the concepts we have learned and applying them to our personal pattern.

Below is my work area...a complete mess! This is a very involved process but I love the idea of having this knowledge. It will liberate me from being dependant on patterns. Let the creating begin!

I have so much to share about the weekend.

Thursday night I met up with Sandy. We hadn't seen each other for over a year. We had scheduled to get together for dinner so we planned to meet up at the marketplace. She came up to my hotel room so I could drop off all the stuff I accumulated at the marketplace. She mentioned she wanted to do this sweater/shrug that was on the cover of Vogue knitting Fall 2005. I said "I know exactly what one you mean!" I went to the closet and pulled out the sweater I had done. She is going to knit this. Go to her blog and check out her progress. She is doing great! Thanks Sandy for your hospitality! We need to plan for one of those knitting cruises - preferably to foreign countries! :)

I met Tina and Kaci of Blue Moon Fiber Arts. What sweet women! By the time I left on Saturday they knew me by name. I went back so many times. Tina commented that she thought I bought all the pink/purple yarns she had. I bought sock yarn, roving, bamboo yarn and a wonderful fingering weight yarn made of kid mohair, silk and a little bit of nylon. This is going to make a wonderful shawl! I'll get pics posted soon. Their new colorway Backstabber(the one in the middle in the photo below)...absolutely *my colors*!!!

Sock yarns - how many skeins do I have in the stash?? Does it matter that I'm a member of the 2007 Rockin' Sock Club? NAW. After all, these are my colors!

This is a super soft Bamboo yarn. I will make a short-sleeve shirt. I bought the pattern that was displayed with the yarn. Maybe I'll use my "Tailored Knitting the Japanese Way" knowledge and create a Naomi original.

The reason why I kept going back to Blue Moon's booth was because I got to purchase things that you can't get on their website. It was SOOOO much fun! I won't show photos of the roving because I purchased some for my friend Terry who pushed me over the edge to start spinning. I don't want to ruin her surprise. She knows she's getting some, she just doesn't know what or what color(s).

Friday night I met up with Greg, my best friend Jamie, and her husband Chris. We had a nice dinner at the Pacific Grill. They have great atmosphere but I thought the food was overpriced. It was nice that it was just a couple blocks away. We could walk.

After Jamie and Chris dropped us off at the hotel, Greg and I went up to the bar on the 26th floor of the Sheraton to have a drink. We sat down at the windows, enjoying the view. Next thing I knew, Fiona Ellis and the Yarn Harlot Stephanie Pearl-McPhee sat at the table next to us. I was so thrilled. I had no camera with me. Greg could not understand why I was so excited about it. When we got up to go I had to go over to them to say hello. I stumbled badly. I told Stephanie I loved her. How stupid is that??? I do love her!! She said "I love you, too" (yeah right!). We introduced ourselves and she said everyone had been talking about my sweater that day (the Vogue one I spoke about earlier in this post). Wow. I was amazed that she even noticed!

The next morning at (what else) the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth, I ran into Fiona and she recognized me and we exhanged pleasantries. What a nice woman!

I met Melinda, a fellow Feral Knitter. Why didn't I already know her? I'm fairly new to "Ferals" and the only time I saw Melinda was in early January(?). She was across the table and I was not feeling well and wasn't very social that night.

What is a Feral Knitter? We are knitters that enjoy the art of Fair Isle knitting and we meet every other Monday in Lake Forest Park. I had never met Melinda in person but I had been a lurker of her blog. When I was in the registration line I looked behind me and I recognized her photo from her blog. I introduced myself and found she was also in the two day Jean Wong class. We sat next to each other in class and I had the honor of getting to know her better. Melinda is an amazing knitter! Her blog is full of great techniques and tips.

I have more stories and photos to share but I need to get going. Start planning on coming to Madrona next year! Save the dates - February 14-17, 2008.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Nicole

Sunday night we celebrated my niece Nicole's 10th birthday! Her birthday is really today.

She is one in a million. I'll tell you why.

It is a miracle that she has lived to reach this milestone in her young life.

Six years ago, at the age of 4, she was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML.

She was on vacation at Whistler, BC and tried to get out of the pool and found she could not walk without exruciating pain. Within a couple days she was at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center with this "one in a million" chance diagnosis. This type of leukemia is extremely rare in children.

The Ooka and Howard families went into panic mode. How could this beautiful, perfect child have cancer?

The families along with friends and a much larger community gathered for bone marrow recruitment drives. Through connections Washington's Governor Gary Locke got involved. Other well-known people such as Jamie Moyer of the Seattle Mariner's and Moyer Foundation helped out. There was a lot of press about Nicole's situation which highlighted the need for more minorities and people of mixed race to get on the registry.

There hasn't been much press lately so I'm hoping with the power of the internet, we can get more folks registered.

The only cure for this type of leukemia is a bone marrow transplant.

At the beginning of the panic, Nicole's older brother was tested, he was not a match. We all got tested. No match. We scoured the NMDP, National Marrow Donor Program, world-wide registries and there was no match. What were we going to do? Our only option was to recruit, recruit, recruit.

We paired with the Mavin Foundation. They eventually created the Matchmaker program. This program is the only national program with the goal of recruiting mixed race donors on to the national bone marrow registry.

Nicole's challenge is she is of mixed race. If you look at our world today, how many people in the United States, and the world, are of mixed heritage? Many. Minorities and people of mixed race of the world have a real challenge if they need a bone marrow transplant. This challenge will only get more acute the more diverse our population becomes.

Through Nicole's struggle and the many, many bone marrow drives held on behalf of Nicole, many matches have been found for others in need. Nicole has affected many peoples lives and has moved politicians to create laws to help those in need of a bone marrow transplant. For example, then Washington Governor Gary Lock signed an executive order allowing state employees to donate and receive bone marrow transplants without having to take leave. See article here.

This is where faith comes in. I grew up Catholic. I believe in God. The year Nicole was diagnosed, a leukemia drug called Gleevec was approved by the FDA. No protocol had been established for children. Trish and Rob, Nicole's parents, did tons of research on Gleevec and even contacted the man who developed the drug. He lives in Oregon. They arranged to meet him, talk to him, get information from him. Then they came back to Children's Hospital to try to get the physicians here to prescribe this medicine for Nicole. The physicians gathered all the research Trish and Rob had done, along with their own research and Nicole was the first child at Children's to be put on Gleevec. We were blessed that this life saving drug was approved, just in time for Nicole.

Nicole is currently in remission. We have been blessed with 6 wonderful years with this child that we most certainly would not have had. Without a bone marrow transplant, or Gleevec, Nicole would have died many years ago.

The downside of Gleevec is it is not a guarantee and the only known "cure" is a bone marrow transplant. I want a guarantee. If I think about it too long I panic. There is still no match for Nicole on the registry, 6 years later. Think of all the people that have no drug to keep their cancer or diseases in remission. They die waiting for a bone marrow match.

We still need to get many, many more minorities and multi-racial folks signed up to be bone marrow donors. Sometimes people need to get educated on what being a bone marrow donor means. Get more information here.

The federal government has funded minorities to get registered with just a swab of the cheek. In the "old days" you would have to give a blood sample. This turned many people off. In the Seattle area you can go to this link to find local drives. If you know folks over the age of 18 that are a minority, please forward my post to them. We desperately need more minorities on the bone marrow registry.

You can give the gift of life to someone in need.

I could write on and on, and on, about this topic as it has affected me personally. Deeply.

Today on this very special day I reflect on Nicole, my precious niece who deserves a long life. She deserves a cure.

It only takes ONE special person with her tissue typing to save her life. The person that could save her life could be YOU.

If you believe in the power of prayer, please take a minute out of your day to pray that we WILL find a match for Nicole.

Help me celebrate Nicole's birthday by forwarding this post to others you know, especially minorities or mixed race folks.

Happy Birthday Nicole! I love you girl.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Inspired Knitting with Louisa Harding

Today I took a class today at So Much Yarn. The instructor was Louisa Harding.

If you haven't seen her designs, you should. They are timeless designs with a modern twist. I love knitting "the classics" but her designs and the yarns she uses have gotten me more excited than I have in quite some time. You can see some of her books here.

We had fun using Louisa Harding yarns to make a little purse. This is mine in progress.

She told us her story how she went to being a gopher at Rowan in the late '80's to having her own yarn label with complete design freedom. What an interesting journey she has taken!

If you've ever seen her books, you may have noticed the beautiful photography. She didn't want her books to *look* like knitting books. Her husband does all the photography for her books and he is an artist in his own right.

I caught up with a couple women I haven't seen in awhile. One is Sue. I know her from Acorn Street and she livess a few doors down from my sister Trish in the Bryant neighborhood of Seattle. Here she is showing off a beautiful shawl knit with Louisa's yarns. She lined it beautifully with silk fabric and added lovely Swarovski beading - only in the back so that the beads don't bother her arms in the front of the shawl. The photo just does not do it justice.

I also caught up with Beth that I had met taking a class at So Much Yarn a couple of years ago. She is a hoot! We exchanged information again and I hope we can get together for those once-a-month Saturday morning knitting sessions!

The great thing is Louisa brought samples of her designs. I tried some on and I love how they fit. So I bought some yarn to make the design "Gilt" from Winter's Muse Portraits. What this lady is doing with the picture frame I'm not sure. This design looked great on both me and Lauren(owner of So Much Yarn).

I won't do it in those colors. I'll do it in these:

In my prior post I commented that I wasn't sure what project to take to Jean Wong's Tailored Knitting class at Madrona next week. I'll take Gilt. (note - Gilt, not Guilt!) A catholic girl like me has plenty of Guilt - I don't need more! :)

I close this entry with a picture of me and Louisa. She is a very kind and interesting person. The reason I am no longer shy about taking a photo with someone *famous* is I saw the Yarn Harlot about a year and a half ago at Weaving Works and was too *shy* to ask to get my photo taken with her and have regretted ever since!

Thank you Louisa for an inspiring morning!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Whew! My Eleven Swatches are Done!

Believe it or not, I completed 11, yes eleven, swatches today. UGH!

Next week I am attending the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat.

I am taking two classes, both by Jean Wong. One is Tailored Knitting the Japanese Way and the other is Fine Finishing Techniques.

Both classes cover areas where I feel I'm lacking in knowledge and skill. I have heard really great things about Jean's classes so I'm excited.

I'm was dreading doing this homework. Hence I kept putting it off but I figured since I had the day off, I would procrastinate no longer and get prepared for class.

I had to knit the eleven swatches for Fine Finishing Techniques. When I initially read over the instructions I thought to myself "oh! this won't take much time. I'll get these knit up and have plenty of time to get to some of my other projects". Note to self: Things always take longer than you think.

What are these piles of zip lock bags? My various samples safely tucked away in their baggies ready for class next Saturday.

Here are the swatches sitting happily on my bed. I feel like I need to take a rest with the swatches on the bed after doing all of these.

At least I'm ready....sort of.

For the two-day Tailored Knitting the Japanese Way class I am supposed to have a project already in mind that I will work at tailoring for me and my own body. I don't have one in mind. Sure I have projects on the needles but none that really need tailoring so to speak. So do I bring one that could possibly use some tailoring or do I bring something that I have already started knitting? I guess I could e-mail her. Well, I have a week to decide.

I don't think I've mentioned that I'm taking a class by Louisa Harding this Friday at So Much Yarn. I just thought it would be fun. We are going to be making a small little purse.

One of my intentions for 2007(that I haven't been too successful at yet) is to buy less stuff and purchase more experiences.

Gotta run. DH came in saying he wanted to talk about our trip to Bonaire.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Right Tools for the Job

I remember my dad saying that to do a task that required tools, and if the endeavor was to be enjoyable, you need to have the right tools for the job.

As you may recall, I started knitting the cap shawl from Victorian Lace Today. This is the cap shawl.

Currently I am on round 85. This shawl began with 9 stitches. It now has 387. By the time I get to the part where I add the border, I will have knit 172 rounds and have 738 stitches on the needle!

Why did I begin my post about tools?

Currently the needles I am using are "Blunti Stumpos" which was coined by Grumperina.

This is NOT the right tool for this project. The needles do not look that blunt in the photo but these are driving me crazy. I'm knitting with Misti Alpaca Lace. You can kind of see the center swirl of the shawl in the bottom right corner where the whole pattern began.

Why are these the wrong tool for the job? I decided today that since I don't have the time I want, or need, to get the projects done that I want to complete (along with fitting in exercise into my day as well as working 9 hours ) that I'll have to KNIT FASTER.

Lately I knit more in the English/Throw/American method. I can knit fairly more quickly in the Continental/German/Pic method but these damn needles are too blunt. I have ordered a pair from Knit Picks because their points are, uh, more pointy. So I'm putting this project aside until the new needles arrive.

According to their website, my order shipped on the 8th so I'm hoping I get them soon because I'm abandoning this project until then. I'm at a point in the pattern that it is a good break point. I'm done with the first chart(which was very easy to memorize). I'm excited to start a new phase of this baby but without the right tools, I would just get frustrated. Like Dad said, in order for the task to be enjoyable, you need the right tools!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I need to get organized!

I am ready to start the armhole decreases of Go with the Flow. I have really enjoyed knitting this. I usually don't like knitting with cotton but this is nice and soft. It is Dale of Norway's Stork color 7 and the pattern is from Fiona Ellis' Inspired Cable Knits .

I took Japanese Shortrows from Susanna Hansson awhile ago. During the class I was concentrating so hard getting my example knitted that I missed out on how to calclulate where to start, end for the shaping on a garment. Sure I can follow the instructions to create the sample but I need to take some time to just sit and really figure out how this would work on AN ACTUAL GARMENT!

I want to do this for my armhole shaping on 'Go with the Flow'.

Why do I need to get organized? I can't find my class folder that has all the hand-outs, my notes, examples, etc. This always happens. AAARRRGGGGHHHHH. So if I get impatient I may just go ahead and do the old, regular way of decreasing with those ugly stair steps!

I need to get ORGANIZED!!!!

Another organizational intention I have is this: I want to document all the items I knit. I want to document needle size, pattern, yarn, pictures and any special notes.

When I was in Venice in 2006 I found this cute little shop that had handmade leather books. I bought one with the intention of doing just this. Where has this book been sitting? Its been sitting on a shelf, gathering dust, just asking to be used. I sort of used it. I stuck labels from skeins I've knit things from in it. That counts for something, right?

Its a beautiful handmade leather book with regular paper separated by this lovely whispy vellum like paper. I know its not vellum but is sheer and very soft like tissue paper but heavier. It has a beautiful sheen to it that the photos don't pick up.

I'm going to start it today! My first entry will be Go with The Flow. Here is the outside of the book:

The inside.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Snowballing Ideas

Yes, 'snowballing' is really a word! Sometimes I'm not sure if some words I use are ones I made up or someone else made up and use as *real* words. I looked it up in Websters and it IS a word.

In my last post I wrote about spinning. I'm not referring to exercise classes. I'm referring to the kind of spinning that I will need new clothes for. According to my friend Jamie, she says, and I quote directly from e-mail, "Now you will have to knit yourself a black shawl and wear a big long grey skirt to fit the image of women who spin".

People, feel free to go over to her blog and let her know how hip and cool spinners are, ok? We need to let this poor girl know how far *out of it* she is! :)

Here is my story about my "Little Vicki".

I started reading reviews about the Louet Victoria all over the internet. Then I started going to different websites checking prices. So I figured if I'm going to take the plunge, just do it. I've been pondering this spinning thing for at least a few years.

Norma at Ferals just made one comment and that's all it took. She basically just said buy a wheel and you'll be happy with it for the most part nowdays. As a side note: Any Ferals out there...I was really out of it on Monday night. I was in a bad mood and was not feeling well(sore throat). I was not in the most social mood. Sorry!

This wheel came out late 2006 at least from what I've read. They had an introductory price and now that the initial response has been very, very good, the price is going up quite a bit and most vendors will not get more inventory until March 2007.

Once I decide I'm going to do something....Get Out of My Way!

My *ideal* situation would be to buy one without tax and free shipping. I looked around and that deal just doesn't exist. Once 2007 hit, the price on Little Vicki went way up. I call her Little Vicki because her name is Victoria, but she is so small! So her nickname shall be Little Vicki.

(I can tell this is going to be a long post. Feel free to skim because its fun for me do tell about my little adventure about the planets coming into alignment, just for me).

I found a place in Washington called Paradise Fibers in Spokane. Their website didn't specify if it came with the carrying case/backpack, 2 extra bobbins and lazy kate. So I called them yesterday at lunch-time. Their website had it at the introductory price and had free shipping. I knew I would have to pay tax but I decided that would be ok.

I talked to a really nice guy Travis. I told him the website didn't have enough information and he said he was the one that does the posting. He appreciated my feedback. I asked if they had any in stock. He said he thought they were all out. He took the phone with him while he went in back to check. They had ONE. I was hoping it was in Oak. IT WAS!!!

So I got off the phone and went on-line to make my order. About a half hour after I got my confirmation e-mail on the purchase, I got an email saying my package had shipped. The other added bonus was Pacific Fibers does like a craft dollar thing. I earned $40 in fiber dollars so in essense I didn't have to pay for sales tax after all. All of the planets converged and the universe said to me "this was the right thing to do".

Before I called Pacific Fibers I checked around for beginning spinning classes. Lo and behold the LYS that I take weekly classes from has a class beginning Feb 7. When I talked to Travis he said I should have it by the end of the week which is in plenty of time for the class.

After hitting "purchase" button, I called Village Yarn and Tea to sign up for the class. I talked to one of the owners, Victoria, and she asked if I had a wheel. I said I would by the time classes started. She asked which one. I told her and its the one she wants, too(and not just because its name is also Victoria! smile). She informed me that Village Yarn and Tea will start carrying Louet wheels. In fact she's meeting with the distributer next week to firm things up. Too bad they didn't carry them sooner. I would rather buy from my LYS.

I was working from home today. At around 11:00am I'm in the kitchen getting more tea. I hear a UPS truck. I knew Greg's birthday gift was scheduled to arrive today. I answer the door and there are two packages. What? Greg says "What is this other package?". I said "I don't know!".

The box has all these little Louet markings. One end says "Victoria". No freaking way!

It got to me within 24 hours and I didn't pay for shipping. What service!

Although I know very little about spinning I was able to figure out how to get her setup. She sure is cute and So VERY portable. How cool is THAT? I also don't need a lot of space to store her. Another added bonus.

I treadled her and I can tell I'm going to love this-so far so good!

Here she is with the boys.

One of the good things I can about my job? I'm well compensated. It is the golden hand-cuffs. It affords me luxuries such as this. I'm grateful I can afford to fund and expand my hobbies.

My other news. I'm knitting my first short row heel on a sock. Not good. Need to frog. I call it the poochy heel. Yuk. I like the short row heel overall but I'll increase the center number of stiches before wrapping and turning.

As I close for the evening, talk about snowballing...

In the past hour a good amount of snow has accumulated at our home. I might be working from home again tomorrow.

Be safe out there on the roads. Traffic is a big mess around the Puget Sound area.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Go With the Flow!

In my last entry I promised some photos of my lastest project which I vow to complete before I start something new. A resolution to stay committed to my projects through 'sickness and in health'!

Here is my progress on the 'go with the flow' vest.

And this is what the finished product will look like.

As a side wandering I've been seriously thinking of venturing into spinning. Ever since I *met* Terry (darn, no blog to send you to - maybe someday, huh Terry?) via E-bay I've been curious about spinning. Then I was re-acquainted with Rebecca (the one who is going to help me with my fear of cutting steeks in my weekly projects class at Village Yarn and Tea) during the fall of 2006. She is also a spinner and has brought some of her wonderful yarn to class and it makes me really want to take up spinning. How cool would that be? Then I could go visit Elise(another non-blogger) in NY to attend Rhinebeck!

To really complicate things is Terry is buying a Louet Victoria which is a new wheel that is very, very portable. They have been selling extremely brisk and the price has gone up about $130 since they just came out a few months ago but she has one on order at the old price that she would let me purchase. So...I need to learn more about wheels! This is not a decision to take lightly.

I like the idea of portability. Given I know very little about wheels I have a lot of homework to do.

On a lighter note, as a Seattle Seahawks fan I was thrilled at their win last night. It was an amazing game. I didn't think we could come through with a win but thanks to Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboy's and his slippery hands we are moving to the next round. Next game is a week from today at 10am at the Chicago Bears. You know what I'll be doing next Sunday at 10am!

One more thing. Greg and I have decided when/where our next vacation will be. Bonaire in June. I love Bonaire. We have been there twice together and Greg has been there 2 additional times. Don't know where Bonaire is? Find it here.

This is a very laid back island. Despite its small size, they have wonderful restaurants and its a lovely place to visit. They have increased the number/variety of flights there so it is much easier to get there than the first time we went in 2000. The first year we went, we flew to Miami, then Curacao(and a 5 hour delay due to mechanical problems) then Bonaire. The second time we went from Seattle to Houston to Puerto Rico to Bonaire. This time we will go to Houston and then from Houston directly to Bonaire. This will be MUCH better!

Boy am I looking forward to it. I love Bonaire. I really do. The food is awesome, the prices reasonable and the diving and snorkeling are the best in the world. I'm so happy we have decided on a destination. I feel more relaxed already(NOT! - I was on-call this weekend).

Well enough for now. Enjoy your week!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Fulfillment Comes Through Commitment

Many years ago a friend of mine told me that her dad always told her that "fulfillment comes through commitment". That has stuck with me all of these years because it really is true. Whether it is relationships, a career, or knitting you do get fulfillment if you stay committed through all the various ups and downs.

I need (LOTS)more commitment in my knitting.

I've been flitting from this, to that, to this, then that. Nothing gets completed and I have all these projects lying around. Literally lying around. There are socks on the desk, Abalone, Clapotis, and Storm Water scarf in my new knitting bag, the cap shawl in my backpack, and sock yarn everywhere and another skein on the way from the Posh Yarn sock club(not to mention the projects stashed away in baskets!).

Then to prove how anti-committed I am in my knitting, I cast on yet ANOTHER project last week.

I can't remember what day last week I went into Village Yarn and Tea "just to look around". I talked with Ellen and she is casting on "go with the flow" from Fiona Ellis' Inspired Cable Knits for a store sample.

I walked out of the shop with the yarn for this vest(only $25) and we are doing it together. Someone please remind me to stick to one project at a time so I can actually have a FO, and not all these UFO's! At least when I commit to doing a project with someone I actually do get it done. There is hope for this project!

The good thing about this project though is the title. Go with the flow. I need more "go with the flow" at my job so I figure there WAS a reason for this project(see, once again justification thinking).

I'll post photos tomorrow.

OH! Before I sign off for the day. GO SEAHAWKS!