Sunday, October 31, 2010

STITCHES East, part two

While writing the blog post yesterday I was joined multiple times at my table by ladies I had met earlier, because I was sitting alone at the only table with available chairs in the crowded cafe area. Then I was joined by someone I didn't know, Vivian Hoxbro and her companion (husband? partner?). I introduced myself and mentioned I'd seen her books; rather than say I haven't gotten around to trying out her techniques yet, I lied and said I was intimidated. She pointed to my sweater and said if I could knit that, I could follow her patterns. (And that's true, too. I'm not intimidated by any knitting technique. Not even steeks, really. But on the other hand, I am intimidated by famous people, in any interpretation of the word - and Vivian Hoxbro is famous, at least in the knitting world.) And then, Nancy Bush came up and spoke to Vivian, and glanced at me, but didn't say hello. Now, if there's anybody famous in the knitting world, Nancy Bush is that person. She was going to get in the line for the cafe, and implied she was going to come back after that. And I got flustered and sort of shut down. I picked up my trash and said I was just going and now there was room for Vivian's friend, and hustled away down the escalator. And as I went I felt horrid. Here were two people I would have loved to meet and talk with, but because of my stupid intimidation by / infatuation with / resentment of famous people, I had to run away. As I went down the escalator all I could think about was how I would have loved to stay and charm Nancy Bush and Vivian Hoxbro and then tell Nancy Bush about my book idea, and then she would say what a good idea it was and she was going to make it happen. Instead I scurried away into the crowd like a small rat.

It reminded me of the time Melissa told me about having written a song for Emmy Lou Harris when she (Melissa) was still a bartender at Lucky Strike, and then ELH herself came into the bar a few days later, but instead of telling her about the song, Melissa balked and just kept it to herself. Those lost opportunities burn like hot brands in the creative soul. I still feel regret for Melissa when I think about that story. As Mr Rochester would say, Remorse is the poison of life.

Anyway, I tried to put it out of my mind. I was in a huge bazaar of fibery delights. I continued on where I had left off in the aisles and came up to another lady wearing the lovely skirt outfit I am trying to sell Mom on (not really trying to sell her on, but I know she wants to knit a skirt and I think she would like this one). I asked her if I could take a picture, and trying to be considerate I took the picture from the neck down.

As you can see, though, the lady's name is Claudia - as in Claudia Hand Painted Yarns! Which I figured out after taking the picture, and then I delightedly said how much of a fan of her yarns I am, how I've made several pairs of "lucky" socks for my husband out of her sock yarns, and how thrilled I was to finally meet the lady behind the yarn. I also was able to tell her how wonderful her colorways are, how I was a painter in college and now I'm starting to dye fiber myself and how hard I am discovering it is! She was very approachable, and receptive, and gracious. So that went part way toward making up for the Vivian H/Nancy B fiasco.

Then I continued on and finally found the booth for The Sanguine Gryphon, which I knew was there and only found on the last aisle. I met Gryphon, who took one look at my name tag and said, to my surprise, "Oh, Barclay, how nice to meet you in person!" I've written her a few emails about this or that, and I've bought several skeins of her yarn, which are also beautifully dyed. I talked with her for a few minutes, and I bought a pattern, and she also let me take a picture of one of her other designs that I found hard to visualize from the photos on their site.

And then I did something I rarely do, and I asked the person in back of me in line to take my picture with Gryphon:

She has a weird expression here, but I promise you she seemed quite flattered to have a fan ask to take her picture, and she has her arm around me even, though you can't tell. I swear! And yes, apparently she does wear those anachronistic garments all the time, and sews many of them herself, although this very luxe silver one was not one she had made.

After this picture she told me she had heard my name announced as a winner of something, and my next class was coming up shortly, so I raced away to collect my prize (a skein of Miss Babs sock yarn - something I actually wanted!) and get to my class.

I didn't take any pictures of the spinning class, but it was a really REALLY helpful class. I learned to spin on a spindle, but more importantly, I learned a lot more about twist, how to tell if you are overplying, and how to draft. I will need to practice a lot more (of course) but I feel like I am well on my way to having much more control over the yarn that I spin.

All in all, it was a great conference and I had a good time!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

On Location in Hartford

I'm at STITCHES East, a knitting conference, to take a couple of classes and visit the large market of "soft wares" vendors.

I got here yesterday and took a class called The Joy of Steeks (a nervous-making technique wherein you knit for several months, then slice right up the center of your work and, amazingly, it doesn't all fall apart). This was a fun class. I was sitting among a group who were pretty on the ball and we started giggling at our classmates who were all "Huh? What? Where do I baste? Are we supposed to cut now? Do we pick up stitches around the corner?" etc. Despite being in (or probably instigating) the peanut gallery, I did get a lot out of the class, and will not be afeard when I need to use this technique someday.

After cutting between the machine-stitched columns of stitches along the center column

The edge, after picking up and knitting a mitered placket

Here we have basted up another column, and are adding a hand-crocheted edge prep

That same column after crocheting both side columns and cutting

Last night I went to the fashion show, which I was surprised to find was quite professionally done, with "real" models and two commentators. There were some nice designs, some of which I might make. There was also a fair proportion of crap. There were several designs made using yarn with, uh, stuff in it - I believe the yarn industry is foisting Novelty Yarns on us again, as it seems we failed to learn from the '80s. Two or three of the garments looked as though the model fell in a pile of raked leaves and didn't quite brush herself off. Oh well. I don't have to follow where they would lead.

Debbie Stoller is here launching her newest Stitch 'n Bitch book, as well as her line of yarns (which are pretty nice and at a super price point). Unfortunately, at the dinner (after the fashion show) she was seated with the fancy Knitter's bigwigs,* so we couldn't really hang out much. I sat with two ladies from the peanut gallery in my steeks class, which was nice. I generally find events like that pretty lonely and/or very hard work, but my dinner companions were really nice, and I soldiered through.

Today I slept in, which was lovely, and then checked out of the hotel and drove over to the convention center, where I got super rock star parking (at least, if it is a legal spot). This is handy because my second class, Spinning for Knitting, isn't until 1:30 and I am bringing my wheel to it, but I wanted to finish going through the Market and NOT have to schlep my wheel the whole time.

Yesterday I didn't see anything in the Market that excited me, but today I found a booth that is selling wonderful Irish yarns and they had a sweet cardigan pattern that I tried on and LURVED, so I snapped that up. Then I turned a corner and found the Miss Babs booth; I've spun a bunch of her hand-dyed fiber before and I love her colorways. So I got a couple bumps of fiber to spin that I think will ply well together. I introduced myself to Herself but she was super busy manning the register and it wasn't a terribly meaningful exchange.

Now I've had a little breakfast and I'm heading back to finish the Market. After that I have my second class and then it's back home to my lovely husband!

* It's my theory that Debbie is being courted by XRX/Knitter's.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, October 9, 2010

End of the (tomato) season

Today I pulled up all the tomato plants, which were all close to dead or dying. I had already lopped off the ends of the vines, and all flowers, two weeks ago to encourage the plants to put their remaining energy into the fruit that was already there. We had a few get a little more red, but mostly what we got in the end was this big bowl of green ones.

It looks like pickled green tomatoes or fried ones ... or both ... are in our future!

I also put up the halloween decorations on the front of the house.

Now we are making a pot of Italian sausage, kale, and white bean soup from my sister's recipe. I love sausage & white bean soup - I hope this turns out well!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Adam's latest custom gloves - rubberized work gloves

For his birthday (TODAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETIE!) I made Adam a new pair of gloves. As he already has a regular pair, a fingerless pair, and a pair with caps that tip off the top so you can dial your phone but keep on your gloves, the only thing I could think of to make them different was to make work gloves. He keeps suggesting that I am trying to send the message that he should be doing more yard work. I am trying to send the message that I love the dude. Also that I love knitting gloves.

Here you can see they are coated with a plastic rubber coating, the spray-on variety of Plasti-Dip, which I got on Amazon. My mother wisely suggested that I try it on a piece of test knitting before committing to doing it on the final product. I thought this was a brilliant idea but I ran out of time - it took me all ten days (from last week when I thought of the idea to last night before going to bed) to knit them, finish, and work in the ends, so doing a test first was something I didn't have time for. Fortunately it worked out very well.

Something you may have spotted, you eagle eye, is the different color wrist band on the right glove. Yes. I ran out of yarn about two inches from the bottom. Bummer - but as they are work gloves, they don't really have to match perfectly, do they? I just picked up at that point with some hand spun left over from the fingerless pair.

I tried to follow the pattern I've seen with rubberized work gloves where the rubber appears to wrap around the finger tips and sides. To do this, I used painter's tape to cover the backs and the wrist bands. (Below, you can see as the tape is getting peeled off.) I stood the gloves up on a couple of beer bottles and sprayed them with the plasti-dip.

I put on three coats. I'm not sure why I got the pebbly textured surface, but I think it may add to their utility when Adam puts them to use.