Archive for the ‘book reviews/events’ Category

moths and all

Monday, April 13th, 2015


after just a couple of days on the ground in ohio, it was off again for me on thursday, this time to albuquerque, NM.


before i left though, a small clutch of our daffodils, finally gave it up for my sake—just look at them! i’m not sure how everything fared in my absence, but i’m hoping for a few more blooms when i get home; maybe even enough to put a bunch on the table for our monday afternoon class.


a few beautiful purple crocuses made their way into the light as well—overall, these have appeared only grudgingly this year.


never mind though—my garlic is making up for it. we’ve got full participation in a chorus of sprouts on the garlic mound. david spaced them a little further apart than we usually do; i think i might be able to put some onions in between.


anyway, back to my albuquerque trip, i was scheduled to teach a lace project class and we were going to be knitting an old favorite—wing o’ the moth, which was the very first pattern i published through my blog in 2006.

i had not knit one in a number of years, so on wednesday i cast one on in our merino/mohair chebris lace yarn (we are restocking very soon!) to knit the mini scarf version that is included in the pattern—the project we would be doing in an all day class to end the weekend.


i wanted to be sure it could be knit in a reasonably short time—less than six hours if one is fairly speedy. that morning i just wanted to complete the cast on and setup so that i could finish it up during my trip to new mexico on thursday morning. this is the first thirty rows—in real life, it’s much tinier than it appears in the photos.


the pattern develops very quickly and sure enough i got surprisingly far along during the first leg of my journey the next morning—all the way to the hem section before i got off the first flight.


i had kind of a long layover to look forward to upon my arrival in denver at just 6 am, so i found a good cup of coffee and a comfy lounge chair and settled in to knit.


i was soon joined by a couple of prankster birdies, looking for crumbs, i imagine.


i’ve seen birds in airports plenty of times, but i was amused by how close these two were willing to venture in their search for food. of course, all the good morsels would be near the chairs, so that makes sense!

though i was fighting off drowsiness the whole trip and making plenty of mistakes because of it (i had to be out the door at 4 am to catch my plane, so not much sleep that night), i managed to bind off my mini shawl before we landed in albuquerque. i never did get a shot of the completed piece in its unblocked state, ack; i might have to knit another.


at the hotel i was greeted by lilacs at the peak of their bloom—shrubs just loaded with flowers surround the building. they were breathtaking and the scent was a welcome one, even though i’m terribly allergic to them.

my first class wasn’t until the next day so i spent the afternoon catching up on much needed sleep and in the evening, i worked on my reversible crescent shawl, which i’ve decided to name love me two times.


i started the short row garter stitch section and over the last few days it has been my go-to project. since the knitting is rather mindless, i can tote it along to class to knit while on breaks or when the whole class is at work and needing quiet time without lecture.


i’m pretty happy with how reversible it is—except for the them pattern, you can barely detect a difference in the way it looks from “front” to “back”. and the yarn—better breakfast fingering, in the daybreak shade—is so silky and lush; i’ve been wasting a lot of time petting it every few minutes. everyone who feels it asks if it’s cashmere and i’m tempted to say yes, haha.

anyway, this project is almost done; i may even finish it up tonight. if not though, then definitely tomorrow on the plane home.


my first day of classes was at village wools, albuquerque’s largest yarn shop. i taught here in 2008 during my very first travel teaching engagement, which also included the retreat at ghost ranch.

village wools is one of the biggest shops i’ve been in, with floorspace devoted to every aspect of the fiber arts. they stock supplies and offer classes for knitting, crochet, weaving, handspinning, felting, and needle felting (and i’m sure a few more than i’m not remembering).

in a large, comfortable classroom, i taught a sock design class all day, with several familiar faces around the table.


then in the evening, i displayed a trunk show of knitspot designs made up in bare naked wools yarn selections.


a tasting of everything from lace and accessories to sweaters was represented, along with sample skeins from each of our natural yarn lines.


friends came throughout the evening to touch and squeeze the yarns, see the samples in person, chat and hang out. it was a wonderful time, catching up with friends from my previous visit, many of whom are still active in the local yarn guild, dropped stitch knitters, as well as readers of my blog and participants in our ravelry groups.


the next morning we did it all over again, since our classroom setup included a perfect spot to lay out samples and yarn for everyone to lick look at. margaret wore a beautiful dovecote shawl to class on saturday, one of my favorite designs.


(you might remember the beautiful charcoal gray dovecote sample that agnes knit for us in breakfast blend fingering yarn a couple of years back; it continues to draw admiration in our shop and at shows!)


soon it was time to get to work, though—we did a yarn voyage class in the morning to learn more about how yarn is constructed and the impact those features have on our knitting. in this case it was doubly informative as many of the guild members are hand spinners; much of the material covered has very useful implications for spinning.


in the afternoon we did a blocking class which covered steam blocking for garment pieces as well as wet blocking for garments, lace, and accessories (if you wish you could take such a class, you can—try my blocking DVD).


my mini wing o’ the moth sample made a reappearance at this point to be soaked, then stretched and blocked. roxane and bonnie helped me stretch and pin the scallops along the outer edges—we decided to go BIG on those (you can make them more or less showy as you wish with this design).


once it was all pinned out we could put it away until the next day, when we’d be knitting the piece as a group in our shawl project class. it would be fun and inspiring to unpin the dry piece and see the results in that class.


i worked out in the gym that morning, but after class i headed out for a run anyway, determined to spend SOME time outdoors enjoying the weather—it’s not every day lately that i get to spend time in the warm sunshine. it was a little overcast and my allergies are running high in this environment but so what?


the fiesta balloon park is a couple of miles from the hotel so i headed in that direction; i just wanted a little run to counteract all the standing i’d been doing.


the balloon park includes the grounds for the international balloon museum, some ball fields and of course, a vast open space for the launching and landing of hot air balloons. new mexico is very windy, as you can see from the tree formations—ideal conditions for sailing balloons, i imagine.

back in my room i took a shower, got myself some take out chinese, and had a nice evening of chatting with david and knitting; just what i needed to end my day.


this morning i was wide awake by 3:30 am—no rest for the wicked! i edited photos for this post and then hit the gym for a bit before my teaching day began.


today was our shawl project class, where everyone tackled the WOM shawl together—just the small size to get a feel for it.

i love to see everyone’s choice of yarn—some knitters will bring a bit of something special to try out and some will stash dive for something older that they don’t care about as much, but all will offer surprising and pleasing results.

within the first hour, everyone had cast on and settled into the rhythm of the project. this is a pretty social group, so they appreciated the more relaxed pace and timing of this class to have some enjoyable knitting time, while learning a new project together.


at times they even looked pretty serious about their work


though it didn’t last too long.


when we needed a little stretch and a break, i demonstrated how to steam a finished piece to give the fabric a chance to bloom just a little more. this is especially effective for yarns that are a bit fuzzy, like the chebris, when you want to raise that halo to the max.


look at the beautiful shimmer and shadow that the fabric has as the stitch patterns move the yarn this way and that.

after steaming, the piece needs to become completely dry again before unpinning, so we let it stay while we went to lunch, allowing that evaporation to take place.


by the way, did you know that today is national grilled cheese day? get with it, man!

back in the classroom, the moment of truth had arrived.


roxanne and bonnie did the honors of unpinning and we could immediately see that the fabric had transformed from a rather stiff and lumpish blob to one with a silky, liquid hand and a halo that caught the light on each fiber.


and talk about sheer—it is ethereal, truly.


what a lovely little piece to keep tucked in a purse or glovebox, to chase off a chill or add to an outfit as a last minute accessory. so practical but SOooo pretty too. and a seriously nice gift that takes about 200 yards of fingering or heavy lace yarn and maybe two evenings of your time (some beginners may need more time).

we knit through the afternoon, making excellent progress all around, while no one actually finished their mini shawls, everyone got at least halfway and had a good understanding of the structure and stitch patterns. the nice thing about working with a guild is that a teacher can go home knowing that they will continue to discuss and share the project afterward as a group.


marie, who was visiting the area from iowa and took classes with us throughout the weekend, fell in love with the wrapping up winter sample and purchased four skeins of kent DK to make one for herself as a remembrance of the weekend (she could also knit a nice size lap blanket with her purchase).

at the end of the day we all said our good byes—i will be leaving here well before dawn in the morning and who knows when i’ll be back (but hopefully soon; i love this group!). i will be back to my regularly scheduled sleeve knitting for the duration of the trip; i have sorely neglected my sweater projects this weekend and now i must catch up.

you know i’m not one to devote a lot of page space to gratuitous baby photos, but i’m going to close with a shameless auntie moment. as you might know, my nephew has held a lifelong obsession with superheroes and comic book art, as well as being a talented artist himself. in fact, he is finding ingenious ways to share his love of superheroes with his son, who already cracks up laughing every time he looks at his dad (we all do that, haha).

as with many young families, we are treated to a daily stream of photos documenting each new smile, expression, and development, punctuated by new outfits as the little fella grows. most of which i find incredibly entertaining, but the latest especially so—and i just have to share.


monday should always start with a  chuckle, right?

sundown on the crown

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

sunset on crown heights, brooklyn, 4/02/15










knit and ramble

Friday, April 3rd, 2015


weatherwise, the start of my week here was not as auspicious as i had hoped—the forecasted warm temperatures and clear days turned out to be all smoke and mirrors as mother nature had her way with me.


and so i found myself parked in the corner window of the astor place starbucks on tuesday afternoon watching the rain pour down outside instead of doing the errands i had planned. good thing i’m a knitter, because i knew just what to do with a couple of spare hours and a cup of coffee.


i had packed my smallest project into my side bag before leaving brooklyn, so i had the perfect fit for the situation. by the time i had to leave and meet agnes, cathy, and donna for dinner, i had accomplished enough for everyone to cop a good feel of the squishalicious fabric that was being generated from the needles.


it really does glow, this yarn (better breakfast fingering, in the daybreak shade) and is SOooo touchable; it’s actually a little too distracting. eh, i can live with that . . .

anyway, back to the shawl—i’ve been carrying it along all week and  getting a surprising amount done.


okay, now here’s the fun part—you can really see the pattern that has developed.


which means you can also appreciate the flip side pattern too! snazzy, huh?

yep, on one side the pretty half-chevron pattern of yarn overs and decreases is featured in the foreground and on the other, a luscious cable pops off the fabric surface on a background of organized eyelets.

yesterday i took a very long train ride to a special destination i will tell you about on sunday and i think i got far enough that i need to start thinking about ending the hem and starting the body. so really, before i leave the house today, i ought to do a little math to figure out the direction i’m going next.

i love it so much i want to knit a triangle version too, since that is my favorite and most-worn type of shawlette. i think i’ll cast on that one in the mocha shade of BBF when i get home, to take on my teaching trip to village wools in albuquerque, new mexico next week. it will make a great example to show my lace knitting class and i can save the blocking of the crescent to demonstrate in our blocking class.

BTW, we have a full weekend of terrific classes planned april 10 through 12—if you live nearby, you should come!


yesterday morning i was up with the birds and had several hours of knitting time, so while it was still dark, i worked on the hem of my orange cardigan. i love that i can work on this when the light is bad—it greatly expands my knitting time, which i really need right now.


whenever the light is good, however i take the opportunity to work on my triticum cardigan because that i cannot do when it’s dim or dark. i’ve gotten the bulk of the back piece done now and am nearly ready to start the armhole shaping. as soon as i get back from lunch, i’m settling in to work on both of these for the rest of today. sigh—can’t wait.


well, since tuesday, the weather has improved greatly. first the days became sunnier, though still windy and cold—much colder than expected actually with mornings in the low 30s, brrr.


still, the sun was dazzling and there was an undercurrent of warmth to be felt on wednesday and the earth began to respond.


by yesterday there were definite signs of spring popping, when i went out for my morning run.


i decided run down through my old neighborhood of carroll gardens; i hadn’t had a chance to visit there the last couple of times i was in brooklyn.


when i first moved there in 1988, i lived just above the esposito pork store, near the corner of court and president streets. the neighborhood was still a quiet, italian american community then—i felt right at home.


this guy wasn’t in residence when i lived there; he may have been moved over from their old store in new jersey.


i played basketball every morning before work right around the corner at carroll park, weather permitting. a few times i was even invited to join the guys pickup games, but i always declined; their much bigger size intimidated me.


i love this park; it has a huge tree right in the middle; you had to play around it, haha. there is also a bocce court right alongside the basketball court—probably so the grandpas could keep an eye on the kids while they all played.


at that time there were many, many italian food shops still in operation, but most are gone now it seems. caputo’s is where i bought bread most of the time, but for cookies, it was court pastry all the way (sadly, gone now).


i moved to this building in 1996 at the very end of columbia street—seriously, right next to the brooklyn tunnel. you would think that would be awful but it was actually a really nice quiet spot, right on the waterfront and nearby to all my friends, most of whom were visual artists. david and i fell in love while i lived here, so i will always think of it as the center if the universe—and beautiful.


i ran back up to park slope and passed over the gowanus canal—boy are they making changes there, literally razing entire swathes of industrial area to rebuild into what looks like an entirely new landscape. truly the end of several eras, i think. i don’t know how i feel about it, but it’s happening anyway. the scale of the demolition mess is monumental in and of itself, i’ll say that.

ooops, look what time it is—i have a lunch meet up in the city so i must get a move on—will be back with more over the weekend.


GREEN—it grows on you

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

coming soon to a neighborhood near you . . . join us!



beans06_11 greenBeans07_08