Saturday, January 30, 2010

Debbie does Anaheim

I'm back from my first ever business trip! I'm like, so totally grown up! First I get an accountant, and now a business trip! Unfortunately, I don't have a lot to show you, because, well, you know, it was business. I spent most of my time in Anaheim shuffling between the convention center and the Hilton, so I saw a lot of this:

Only press is permitted to take pictures at the CHA show itself, but I don't think you're missing much. The show is, no joke, 90% scrapbooking. (Who are all these scrapbookers? I saw Laura Ashley scrapbook paper for heaven's sake!) There were however, some interesting displays from other areas of craftiness. Martha Stewart had an impressive booth (duh!) where I was mesmerized by glitter. Then the Clover booth had me looking for reasons to make heart-shaped pom-poms. Naturally, I had to check out the yarn companies...

Cue sound of needle-skating across record!

I was standing with my co-worker by the Coats and Clark booth when I realized I recognized the blonde lady sitting at a table nearby. Without thinking "Oh my god that's Debbie Stoller!" came out of my mouth, probably a little too loud. One of the 'Coats' ladies nearby laughed and urged me to break out of my star-struck state and go talk to her. I did!

Being a huge fan of both Bust Magazine and the Stitch n' Bitch series of books, I was thrilled to have the chance to speak with Ms.Stoller herself. Debbie was there to promote her new line of Stitch Nation yarns. Wicked! I got her to autograph a pattern tear-off for me. It looks like she may have thought my name was "Jane", but whatevs: I met Debbie Stoller!

Later that day I fulfilled another wish much further down the bucket-list.

Yes, I actually made it a point to not leave California without stopping at Tar-zsay. You have to understand, Target doesn't exist in Canada and with all the media attention surrounding their stylish bargains Target was quickly becoming my land of Oz. One of my travel companions thought I was nuts to choose a trip to Target over a trip to Fashion Island; "Target? Eez like Zellers!" (It sounds much cuter in a Latvian accent).

Fashion Island, Schmashen Island! I bought 4 pairs of shoes for under $60! Who's laughing now?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Okay, FINE!

Consider the bullet, bit:

So I've started the Fair Isle Tunic are you happy now? It might take until next winter, but it's underway!

I on the other hand, have a bid-ness trip underway. I'm heading out to Anaheim for the Craft and Hobbies Association Winter Convention and Trade show. I'll try my best not to judge the scrap-bookers and Swarovski crystal enthusiasts. I may not understand decorative die-cut paper, but I'm sure those scrap-bookers wouldn't get this either:

I'm really becoming a fan of the crocheted cotton dishcloth. They're cheap and quick to make, and so much cuter than a sponge. I'm going to try to whip one of these up every few weeks so there's always a fresh one hangin' out by the kitchen sink. The pattern is based on something from a crochet motif book and the yarn is scraps of either Lily Sugar n' Cream or Bernat Handicrafter. I'm so smitten with robin's-egg-blue lately. It looks so nice in my pink kitchen!

I will bid you adieu as I need to start packing. Cross your fingers they will still let me knit on a plane!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why fair isle tunics are like pancakes

I've been itchin' to start a sweater project for myself. To be more exact, I've been taken with the idea of knitting a sweater-dresses. A big commitment I know, and probably not something I'll get to wear until next winter, but a sweater-dress just seems like something my wardrobe could really use. Next thing you know, bam! Vogue Knitting comes to the rescue:

I fell head over heals with the Fair Isle Tunic by Jean Moss. A little colourwork, a little cable work, modern, cute... sign me up! I immediately got the yarn, in exactly the same shades no less.

Then something funny happened. Me and the fair isle tunic? We broke up. Somehow I totally lost interest in knitting this pattern that just last week, had me captivated. The whole experience reminds me of something Mitch Hedberg once said:

"As a comedian, you have to start the show strong and you have to end the show strong. You can't be like pancakes. You're all happy at first, but then by the end you're f**kin' sick of 'em."

Is this sweater like pancakes? Or did I just psych myself out? Contrary to good sense, I rarely read a pattern all the way through before I begin knitting. This time, curious about the construction, I decided to read the whole darn thing before even casting on a swatch. Dang man! It's a complicated pattern. I'm not afraid of a challenge, but I don't know if I want to take on a long project that requires so much concentration.

Where does this leave me now? Well, I've got a sweater-dress worth of yarn and a waning interest in a sweater-dress pattern. This is how stashes are born!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Gluten free

January is traditionally a time to clean up your act and start the new year with your best foot forward. I for one, start each year with a 'cleanse', abstaining from booze, sugar, caffeine and a long list of other delicious stuff. Whether it does my liver or digestive system any good is up for debate, but it's sure does some good for my mental health. I enjoy the temporary view from the morally superior high-ground. It's really the only enjoyment one can expect from two weeks without wine and cheese.

From my high-horse of health, I'm finally ready to take whatever kicks come from looking back at last year's knit-o-lutions. Here goes nuthin'!


• Do more knitting for myself: I knit almost every day last year and how many projects were for me? Not nearly enough. 2009 will be the year of ME!

Ha-ha! That so never happened.

Cowl - for Cindy
Crochet Fawn - for Cara...
Kumara bed Socks - for Maggi
Kumara bed Socks - for Mum
Fair Isle Tam - for me
Entrelac Wrap - for me
Shoulder Shrug - for Cathy
Crochet Cat bed - for Teddy (though in my house, so kind of for me?)
Tea Cozy
- for Mum and Dad
Baby Surprise Jacket - for Renesha/Jerimiah
Cable pillow - for my bro
Crochet bead necklace - for me
Jenny Cloche re-knit - for Jenny
Cashmere Birthday Beanie - for the b.f.
Snowdrop Cardi - for me
Dishcloth - for me
Owl sweater - for me
Paul Smithish scarf - for my bro
Julia hat - for me
Pat hat - for my bro
Bird in hand mittens - for me
Crochet snowflakes - for gifts

I may have missed a few, but that list makes 22 items, 8 for me. That's the year of me? 36%?
Grade: Fail!

• Publish three patterns: Eek! A tall order, but I think I can do it.

My new job makes this one null and void. Let's just say it's all good.
Grade: Pass.

• Stash bust: No more hanging onto yarn I might use one day. Knit it or pass it on!

I think I'm getting a little better on this one. While my stash ebbs and flows, I definitely kicked the habit of buying yarn just because it's pretty.

Grade: Incomplete

Well, that's a crap report card. But before you punish me, let's not forget my remarkable grades in health!


1: Make an afghan for my couch. This is so overdue it's not funny.

2: Make some other nice things for my home. I made a lot of home dec-y stuff for other people last year, so why not some nice stuff for me?

3: Make a sweater I like to wear. This one's a toughie. I think I've learned enough about tension and ease to make sweaters fit better, but fit isn't always the issue.

Now that I've got a plan it's time to get my steady caffeine-free fingers away from the keyboard and into the yarn! I wonder how long it will take the February cocktails to wipe this 2010 plan from my memory?

Friday, January 01, 2010

English / Icelandic Fusion - in sock form!

There is cold weather, and then there is oppressive, bone-chilling, dear-god-are-you-going-outside? weather. The last couple of days in Toronto have been the latter (-25 ish Celcius with the wind chill factor). How do people live in climates colder than this? How in gods name does one survive in Yellowknife? Anchorage? Reykjavik?

Well, we all know one thing Icelanders have to keep them warm, right? Lopi!

Love it or hate it, the rough stuff from the land of Bjork is certainly good yarn for keeping your toes warm. Okay, so you might not want to wear this stuff next too your skin (mmm! exfoliating!), but that was not my intention with these socks. Until I find the ideal winter boot (I'm picky) I'm wearing my wellies this winter. They score the highest of points when it comes to water resistance, but warm they are not. The manufacturer of said boots sell winter wellie-liners ... for about $40. I might consider such a purchase were they not cheap ugly polyester fleece! Seriously, the Queen of England endorses these boots and I highly doubt she would slide her royal tootsies into such and inferior fabric!

How did showing you my socks turn into a rant about the Queen? To get back on track, I knit these Lopi socks for the sole (!) purpose of wearing between my regular socks and my wellingtons. It's like English/Icelandic fusion!

Pattern: Made it up (I might write a half-arsed one size pattern in the future)
Yarn: 2 skeins of Lopi (not sure of the color # as I picked this yarn up at a craft swap)
Needles: 5mm

Well, I guess the singular purpose isn't entirely true. Given the weather I've hardly taken them off. Turns our they're also great staying-indoors-and-playing Nintendo socks!

***Special thanks to the b.f. for fulfilling my 1985 x-mas wish ***