Archive for January, 2011

the high road

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

a very quick post here to share a few more photos from cornwall. this morning i went out again before classes began and this time, i took the road which winds up and away from the hotel, toward the next town and the airport, just to see where it went.

it’s a steep climb initially, a real butt-buster, but a good way to warm up and get my blood moving, first thing (as you can see, it was quite frosty this morning before and during sunrise . . .).

the climb is worth every step, though—when you get to the upper part of the hill, the skyline begins to reveal itself in full.

along the paved road, you don’t have a view of the sea, but on the other side, there is a wonderful panorama of local farm fields

once you are at the top, the road undulates only slightly while winding back and forth along the perimeter of each farm.

before long, some familiar forms presented themselves on the horizon and as i drew nearer, i could see a crowd of them in the near distance, enjoying the first warm rays of the rising sun.

and then—wait for it—there they were, right in front of my eyes; a whole pack of mama sheep, with several obviously new additions tagging along close beside them. aren’t those little lambs just adorable??

i caught them just at the moment the sun was coming up behind them.

today turned out to be much more clear and warm eventually, but at this time of day, it was still very cold from the previous night. i walked fast to keep myself warm, but i could still feel an intense chill from the pavement beneath my shoes, which numbed my feet for a long while.

i walked a half hour in the outward direction and made it all the way to the next little town, which turned out to be directly above the area we walked to on the beach yesterday.

this path leads to the cliff edge where i can look down below and see the back side of the notched rock formations we stood in front of at the end of the beach saturday.

wow, it was really frosty, huh?? haha, it didn’t seem that way when i was out there taking pictures.

the cliffs themselves show a history of upheaval in the tilting textures and various layers showing at their surfaces

on the way back i took the more rugged path that follows the cliffs very closely to get the most of the sea view. it was a lot safer too—no cars whizzing past out there at the edge of the precipices.

the beach view was stunning from up there—that stream that runs out over the sand, though salty, was actually frozen this morning; that’s how cold it was—even the sea water froze!

what’s funny is that those white dots are birds and they are obviously congregating right in the middle of the freezing water; i wonder why?

you can see that even during the final descent back to the hotel, there is heavy frost still on the ground—and that was after 9am. now, lots of you in north america will not find that unusual, but apparently it is quite out of the norm for the south of england.

i headed back inside very reluctantly, where it was nearly time to start classes. today we progressed into the the leg of the marie antoinette socks and everyone began to make noticeable progress. many aprticipants left today’s three hour session well past the heel.

and even those who didn’t get that far left very happy with what they accomplished

YAY!
that’s lilith from old maiden aunt, right in the middle; we may actually go to visit her at her dye studio, once we’re in scotland—i promise i’ll bring my camera along for that . . .

tomorrow is the last day of the retreat; my class will meet in the morning for a photography and photo editing session, where we’ll put our cameras and framing skills through their paces. i think we have the perfect setting for a wonderfully fun class to end the weekend.

in the afternoon, we head back to london to rest up and wait for david’s arrival. this time, i really mean it—you probably won’t hear from me for a couple of days. but i’ll be back, once we get to beautiful edinburgh.

i’ll miss cornwall—it’s been a greatly inspiring weekend . . .

river to sea

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

i’ve been taking long walks every day since i’ve been away, but especially since i got to london—it’s the most efficient way for me to get my exercise here.

on friday, i finally found my way to the river from alice’s flat, after i misnavigated on thursday and ended up on a more inland route

once i got on the right track, i had a wonderfully clear path along the thames from chelsea harbor to the battersea power station and beyond.

i stumbled upon this statue of james mcneill whistler, one of my favorite painters, tucked into a little parklet next to a bridge.

it was a very cold ramble—the wind was pretty fierce that day, but i buttoned up and walked faster in an effort to keep warm (still, the soles of my feet were actually numb in my mesh running shoes, haha).

once off the river, i managed to get myself turned around and walked quite a distance out of my way before realizing i might not be headed back to alice’s house (i don’t mind getting lost; it’s easy enough to correct one’s way).

on that day however, there wasn’t too much leeway for wandering—we were headed to cornwall in the afternoon and had a train, then a plane to catch. once i piloted my way home and got my stuff organized, we departed for victoria station.

i took some photos out the window on the way to gatwick

they’re mostly unrecognizable, but quite painterly and i thought you’d enjoy them.

i just love that one; i think it’s my favorite

this one too—they’re kind-of whistleresque, don’t you think? well, maybe not so much, haha.

inside the train, we knitted while alice finalized some last minute details

i pulled out my sock for the short trip and finished the gusset shaping. once we got to the airport, we received dire warnings from security officials at every turn about how our needles would be confiscated if we tried to get them on the plane, so i packed all the knitting i intended to do on the flight into my checked bag and snuck on only the sock.

which turned out to be a good thing because i got a lot more of the foot completed during the flight. i’m on the toe shaping now; i may go home this weekend with a completed pair of roger socks—finally.

we arrived in cornwall after dark, so we couldn’t see the beach til we woke up on saturday morning, but WOW—what a beach it is and right outside the door of the hotel, too.

the tide was way out yesterday morning, so cookie and i went for a long walk after breakfast and before class.

i had only my phone camera on me, but you can see that even with that, the view is spectacular.

we walked all the way down to that notch between the square cliff and that pointed rock formation to its right—the point where we’d have to climb over rocks to go further. the cliffs along the beach are the most gorgeous dark green colors.

about halfway there, we began to see these large, pointed rocks, covered with barnacles, rising up out of the beach.

it was ridiculously cold, but we kept going anyway. we eventually got to the notch and found that there were taller rocks barring our way forward. it was time to go back and begin the day, anyhow . . .

haha, that is we thought is was ridiculously cold, then we turned to head back to the hotel and faced the wind. let’s just say that on the way back, we did not stop or dally about, taking pictures.

back at the hotel, it was almost time to start the teaching day. i had the unfortunate luck to score this room as my classroom for the day

i know—completely distracting, isn’t it??
no worries, though—we made the best of it.

the beach outside the window is rife with surfers, trying to catch a decent wave.

they look like ants on the water, don’t they?

one thing i especially like about this beach is that it is busy all day with people walking, playing, surfing and enjoying the outdoors.

the changing light throughout the day makes for a constantly-evolving picture from our classrooom.

the beach faces directly west, so by late afternoon, we get the benefit of the sunset.

i’m teaching the marie antoinette project class here at the retreat. we’ve split the students into two groups and we meet each group for half a day each day. so everyone got a chance to spend time in this gorgeous room, knitting a sock yesterday.

today we’ll meet again to work further down the leg; some participants may even be ready to knit their sock heels.

even i am knitting one of these socks—i don’t actually have a sample of the pattern any more, so i figured this was a good opportunity to get one started, at least. i’m using alice’s yarn for this one in a dark, gray/blue/plum colorway.

i don’t know if i’ll finish it, but i’ll try . . . it’s nice to have lots of time to tackle a project class like this, with two days to spread the work out. it gives everyone a chance to spend some focused time getting started and then to have some real knitting time while at the retreat.

if i don’t finish the sock this weekend, i’ll finish it during some future marie class; it can be my new traveling sock.

no pun intended but i’m also making goo headway on my green cabled toque in mountain meadow wools merino. mmmm, just what i need for walking out in that wind. just one more repeat and then to work the peak and i’m done.

it needs a wash to relax the cables a little, but i may start wearing it before that, heh—it’s been pretty cold throughout my UK travels and another good, warm, cushy hat is just the thing i could use.

ok, time now for me to head to breakfast and start my day—next time you hear from me, david should have arrived and we’ll be on our way to scotland, i think!

london bridge

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

we finished up in NYC with a flourish, thanks to a day and evening at knitty city. cookie and i presented a designer talk on monday evening which was an awful lot of fun—thanks to all who ventured out in the bitter cold to participate.

we were treated afterward to a lovely dinner at fishtag with knitty city owner pearl chin and her mate, arvin.

the food was artfully presented and tasted fantastic; with such good company, we warmed up quickly.
the next day i taught a sweater fitness class to a full house, including nancy, cathy, donna and agnes from our ravelry group and mary of the fischer clan.

cookie used the day to work a bit while i taught my class and afterward, we all headed out to the new grand sichuan for a family-style chinese meal, which was scrumptious—no photos however; the light was way too poor to make any of us look our best.

after dinner, arvin whisked us off to newark to catch our flight to the UK, where we were to meet up with alice to prepare for her knitting retreat in cornwall this weekend. i was so exhausted by the time we got on the plane that i fell asleep for a good while—which cut into the knitting time i had planned (what was i thinking??). i don’t usually sleep on the plane, but this one was mostly empty and we each got our own row, which allowed us to lie down. it didn’t last all the way to london though—by 3am i was wide awake and needed something to entertain myself with.

i worked on my new shawlette and finally got it off to a successful launch—it took a few iterations to decide exactly how i wanted it to be at the neck, but now i’m happy with it (i think). we landed in london at the crack of dawn, a little earlier than expected.

the passport control area was deserted except for us. the man who checked my papers was completely amused that i was entering london to teach at a knitting event—my work papers state that officially, i am a “lace sock teacher”. he asked if i was “socktapus” and i said no, i was knitspot. smiling and head shaking, he asked how socktapus and i had met up. i told him that we first met at sock summit, but that i worked with alice last year at knit nation also. i thought he was going to split his shirt laughing. he did NOT make dumb jokes about knitting needles; i liked him a lot.

cookie, on the other hand, had to sit in the pen for a bit—her agent was apparently not quite as smitten with the whole knitting-as-real-work thing.

FINALLY we got out of there—just in time to catch alice coming in from the parking garage to collect us—YAY.

ever since we started our descent into heathrow, my ears were completely plugged—since i couldn’t hear a thing, i sat in the back seat and took pictures out the window all the way home

(i still haven’t completely recovered, but it’s a LOT better today than yesterday and no one has to shout to get my attention today)

this building is the london ark—alice was telling me a little about it yesterday and now i want to live there.

i love big cities and all the various neighborhoods within them—as we drew closer to central london, we could see each neighborhood in a little more detail.

the yellow brick used in the buildings throughout this neighborhood is actually made from clay that was dug up from the ground right in the vicinity—cool, huh?

before long, we were snugly ensconced in alice’s house, where she treated us to a breakfast of eggs, toast, fruit, and good conversation.

cookie spent most of the day in a horizontal position, but i wasn’t much better—it took til this morning to really get our sea legs back.

deuce, alice’s adorable pug, helped out as much as possible

here he can be seen giving cookie tips on twitter strategy.
(she has a smart phone now—she’s a completely changed personality)

at a certain point, even the dog gets bored though, haha.

i have to admit, on this trip, i can finally see the use of twittering—when i’m on the go and can’t corner a big chunk of time (or wifi access) to blog, it’d be a good way to put stuff out there that i would normally share here.
so i’m experimenting . . . i don’t think i’d use it at home, where i have all the tools to put blog posts together, but in tighter circumstances . . . maybe.

i didn’t want to spend all day twittering myself—i wanted to knit, which always makes me feel more normal (still no hearing, haha). i worked on my gray scarf during the day, while we chatted. later on, i went with alice to get some groceries for dinner.

after a good supper, we finally seemed to be getting our energy back—i took out my cabled hat project, we skyped david and janel, and generally picked up the pace a little bit.

we stayed up pretty late, but at least that felt normal. i slept really well, too—as much as i wanted, for the first time in a few days. i still woke up early, but at least it was on my own clock. plus, alice made waffles for breakfast—what more could you ask for?

well, time to get myself cleaned up to go out for the day—i think alice and i are heading out to do some errands and have a bit of a walkabout, which should be a lot of fun. i’ll bring the camera . . . and tomorrow we head for cornwall, so next time you hear from me, it will be from the coast.

rest stop

Monday, January 24th, 2011

hey everyone, did you have a good weekend?
sorry to have been out of touch for so many days—this is the first chance i’ve had to open the computer to blog. WHAT a weekend.

i think most of us would agree that vogueLive was a big success—classes were full, stimulating, and energizing.

my students were great—lots of good questions and enthusiasm to understand new concepts, try new skills, and plenty of motivation to work. i think we all had a good weekend.

i taught everything from beginning lace (i LOVE teaching beginner level classes) to sweater fitness.
there were talks to attend, the marketplace to explore, and reunions with friends. i’ve been busy catching up with franklin, ysolda, clara, stephanie, meg and amy, melanie, and all the people we love so much. i have to admit that my camera was not at the front of my mind most of the time, so my photos from the weekend are minimal

except for food pictures, haha.

we are making sure to get a nice taste of as many different kinds of food as possible. being back in my old stomping grounds has been exciting and fun; cookie’s never really spent time in the city and it’s always lots of fun to watch someone get acquainted with it.

we’ve had some really nice meals since we got here.
probably none so nice as last evenings repast though . . .

which we shared with meg and may. i have a few very grainy photos of this lovely evening, but as we all know, there just isn’t a photo of meg where she doesn’t look absolutely lovely—am i right??

last evening we moved over to the time hotel in the theater district, where we are happily ensconced today, staying warm and catching up on email and other stuff. we like this place—it’s cozy and very quiet and the staff is beyond friendly and helpful

AND the food in the hotel restaurant is very good (i told you i had lots of food pictures).

we once i finish here, i need to work on my slide show for tonight—next stop on our itinerary is knitty city, where cookie and i are giving a designer talk this evening

i’ll be teaching a sweater fitness class tomorrow as well.

by the way, that shopping bag is full of lovely yarn from buffalo gold—ron and theresa treated us to a tour of their booth and several introductory sample skeins of their incredibly beautiful yarns.


moon fingering
and moon lite laceweight, a blend of tencel and bison

lux cashmere/bison blend, in a couple of colors and natural.

and earth-lite, a mid-weight, 2-ply bison/nylon yarn, shown here in both natural dark brown and an overdyed colorway.

and in class yesterday, felicia from sweet georgia gifted me a spectacular raspberry seasilk lace

sigh, how pretty is that??

i have to admit that with all the rushing around, i have not done much knitting this weekend. i did some, but not at all as much as i would have liked.

on the plane trip into NYC, which lasted all of 45 minutes, i ripped out my new little shawlette (shown in great northern yarns mink/milk/merino) two or three times as i changed my mind about its construction. i decided to add a tiny garter standup collar and shoulder shaping to this one. it’s all set and on its way now, but i didn’t get very far with it—maybe on the trip to the UK tomorrow night . . .

meanwhile i did get the coordinating rectangle scarf on it’s way. i’m knitting this one in the yak/mink/merino/soy blend—the same yarn weight, but a slightly different hand.

this piece works pretty well for knitting while chatting, but i did have to rip it back the other night when i discovered i started the pattern incorrectly at the far left end (grrr). i’d have twice as much done if it weren’t for that. on the other hand, haha, twice as much wouldn’t be all that much MORE.

i’ve actually made the most progress on—of all things—my sock. (i know you sock knitters are chuckling, because of course you all know that a sock makes the most sense for travel knitting).

i’m going to knit more, i promise; i just have to get into the swing of knitting while moving around so much. after all, i have a whole suitcase of knitting to get through in the next couple of weeks.

thank you all SO much for the nice feedback about my new green mink scarf and hat—i have to tell you, it is just the right thing to bring on this trip! i have worn it on every excursion outside and my ears are thanking me for that. it feels just as luxurious as it looks and does not allow even a wisp of cold air to fly down my neck into my coat.

the pattern is not in the store yet, but i’m working on it during this trip, so i hope to have it ready soon. it’s harder than you think to get that sort of quiet time, but i’m trying.

and with that, i think it’s time for me to prepare for tonight—if you’re planning on coming by, we’ll see you at knitty city!