July 14, 2010
i’m finding it difficult to understand, much less describe, my experience at the knot hysteria silk retreat.
living up to its name,
i learned loads about silk
and was given the time to withdraw from the everyday.
i can’t remember i time when i focused so intensely on one thing, or when i heard so much laughter in such a small space of time. i met some crazy amazing women who were both everyday people and unbelievable artists. i was stunned at the level of skill, creativity, and expertise that surrounded me, not only from our teachers, but from my fellow students. it was humbling really to recognize that, while i can effectively execute a knitting pattern at a fairly high level, my knowledge of fiber arts is minimal.
i learned that i know nothing.
but i suppose a more detailed approach would make for a better read, so here i go.
we learned about the chemical makeup of silk in order to understand why it behaves the way it does in relation to dying.
and then we got to go to town.
we dyed a skein each of silk thread,
silkie socks that rock,
some silk top,
and three silk hankies.
it’s hard to pick just one,
but i think hers was my favorite class.
it gave me the chance to access a creative part of my brain that doesn’t get much action. dying the various forms of silk,
and thinking about color in general,
was like eating a perfectly cooked steak,
or that feeling you have when someone rubs your shoulders,
releasing a tension you never knew you had.
dying filled up a space in me,
and a pretty big space in my stash.
(i also increased my stash at the little store they had. there’s no photo cuz knitters know where i live, and there’d be a yarn related b&e in pittsburgh)
i was one of the people who learned to spin to come to the retreat.
i took lesssons, and practiced every chance i got.
and while i wasn’t in the financial position to purchase a wheel,
judith let me use one of hers.
of course, everything i learned went right out the window.
let me explain.
according to judith, spinners have one of two souls.
either you’re naturally a woolen spinner or worsted
for those of you who don’t spin,
think of it as english vs. continental
or being right or left handed.
you’re brain just likes one or the other.
apparently, i’m a woolen spinner.
with some crossed wires since i use my left hand to control twist
even though i’m right handed.
which meant i was at a disadvantage since silk “should” be spun worsted.
so i was at square one all over again.
but i came to learn and learn i did.
i can’t even begin to collate everything i learned about spinning.
but this i know for sure;
after extensive observation,
i’m convinced judith is some sort of witch.
good or bad, she’s the witch of pacific northwest
i’d bet my life she’s the one who taught rumplstiltskin how to spin straw into gold.
my last day was knitting with stephanie
this was the class i felt most prepared for;
knitting was supposed to be my strong point.
it turned out to be the most frustrating of all my classes.
she kept throwing sample after sample of different yarn blends at us to knit, and my hands couldn’t keep up with the pace at which my mind was moving.
have you ever tried to knit a lace swatch with silk thread?
i almost cried!
and knitting with silk hankies??
really pretty effect
but not so easy.
(here’s one hanky layer stretched to the max)
i probably learned more about knitting from stephanie in a few hours than i think i have in the past 6 months.
have you ever heard that casting on over a larger needle (or two needles) will help if your cast on is too tight?
that is only true if you’re doing a single strand cast on!
such as knitted, cable, or crochet cast on.
if you do some form of the long tail cast on,
casting on over larger needles will not make your cast on edge looser!
i know what you’re all saying.
i said the same thing pretties.
i don’t have the ability to draw the picture necessary to prove it to you.
here’s what I’ll say: only one of your strands of a long tail cast on goes over needle itself, making a loop. the other only wraps around that loop underneath the needle and is therefore unaffected by the size of the needle. while the loop itself may be larger because you’re using more yarn, the edge will not be because you use the same amount.
do it yourself.
that evening after dinner was show and tell.
people brought some stunning things that they had made.
i orginally planned on giving stephaine the juneberry triangle then,
but upon further consideration,
it seemed really gauche.
so i gave it to her earlier, when no one was looking.
it was a moment i’ll remember,
and i’m glad it wasn’t public.
i’m home now,
July 2, 2010
this post is epicly long,
but there’s a nice surprise at the end if you stick with me.
here’s a hint.
i’m back from my west coast road trip.
and all i got was this stinkin’ cold.
and you know, a bunch of pics,
some great memories,
and an ache in my soul since i know it’ll be a while till i get back there to see two of the best people i know, megan and deb.
so let’s get this blog post rollin’
we gotta lot to get through.
since in knew i wouldn’t have much time before we shoved off,
i had to hit the yarns stores in portland asap.
first stop was yarnia, a store that came highly recommended by both michelle and erin, friends from my old knitting group in chicago.
can i just say, that was the coolest yarn store ever.
i have never experienced anything like it.
the premise is “you choose the fiber, color, thickness, and amount, and can have your custom cone of yarn wound for you right on the spot.”
the place is filled with huge cones of every color/fiber combination,
and then you (try) to put together ones that you like.
this is my yarn being made:
the machine doesn’t ply the yarn,
but rather “cones” the strands together.
my cone is one strand charcoal cashmere,
one strand navy silk, and one strand silver silk.
i figured i’d go all out on this guy, who knows if i’d make it back?
i have no idea what i’ll knit with it
but for now, it’s just pretty to look at.
i then headed over to twisted.
that place was SO portland.
it has what megan calls that woo woo west coast vibe.
i mean for god sake they serve tea.
before i left for portland,
i jokingly said i was going stalk sivia harding at twisted,
never once thinking she’d be there when i was.
who comes right up to say hi and take care of us?
sivia freaking harding!
of course i was too surprised to think to get a photo
(i can get a little star struck at times).
she really was the sweetest lady, and (i might have misheard) i think deb and she are going to hang out sometime. how does deb do that?
deb can make friends with anyone.
color me jealous.
the next day,
it was san francisco ho!
we took the windy scenic coastal route.
mostly, we just took are time and soaked up the beauty of the pacific
which turned out to be freaking freezing
but it was truly lovely
we spent the night in a seedy hotel when we just couldn’t drive anymore. megan loved it but i’m still trying to forget.
seriously, it was serial killer worthy.
and powered through to our destination.
on a truly serious note,
we left mere minutes before three people got shot.
undaunted they still went ahead with san francisco’s 40th anniversary pride parade.
we’re almost there people, stay with me!
the rest is a blur but somehow we made it back to portland.
it was my final day so i just had to do something extra special.
luckily, deb and i were graciously invited up for a tour of *drum roll please* blue moon fiber arts!
we got out of the car, and tina greeted me with a hug and sassy look.
i knew right away this was going to be awesome.
she took us over to the dye barn, where we swore on this chicken
that what happens in the dye barn, stays in the dye barn.
so this is what i’ll tell you: everyone i met was hard working and quick to laugh.
joyful industry. that’s what i saw.
the whole time, tina was an open book.
she shared her life, her home, her perspective,
and her freaking awesome collection of all things fiber arty.
all while managing her business; making the calls,
checking on her worker bees, that kind of thing.
she and her team are truly special.
and i feel so lucky to have met them.
thanks ladies. keep working your magic!
whew! i made it through.
how ’bout you bitches?
June 26, 2010
June 23, 2010
today begins a week of vacation here at bitches get stitches.
i’m off to portland to begin a west coast road trip with two great friends.
i hope to have many adventures to share with you all,
but right now. . .
i’m a little sleepy.
i have nothing blogworthy to report,
except that i brought my stora dimum with me to knit on.
some people like to bring small, portable projects on vacation.
i prefer large ones.
there are so many extra hours,
both on planes and in airport terminals.
if i’m going to put that much time into knitting,
it might as well be on something big.
and believe you me,
the stora dimun is on huge mothah fuckah.
for those who don’t know,
you cast on 449 stithces.
but i’m unprepared.
there’s no picture of the glorious yarn,
or the progress i’ve made.
(2 more lace rows!)
so here’s a picture to amuse you.
this is what i look like with an hour’s sleep,
living through the six o’clock hour for the second time:
yup! still youthful and fresh looking.
practically perfect in every way,
just like mary poppins.
June 12, 2010
i’ve been pretty cranky this week.
most likely because i haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a while.
but if anything can cheer me up,
it’s a nice package.
and this week,
i got two.
the first was great surprise:
ms. sally of rivendale farms,
(a professional commenter here at bitchesgetstiches)
sent me a lovely skein of hand painted alpaca and silk.
the fleece is from her very own alpaca, tianna.
the skein is seriously lovely.
it’s a perfect addition to my recent silk obsession.
those of you who’ve been paying attention
may remember that i missed my graduation.
it was a little bittersweet, but the decision was easy;
my family needed me so i headed home.
but the joy of the day was only delayed.
because when i saw that giant envelope,
i felt a tension release in my chest.
it was one of those experiences of real happiness that seem to get rarer and rarer now that i’m a full fledged grown up. i literally had to show someone, and ran to veronica’s room with a stupid grin on my face like a kid bringing home an “a” to mom.
too bad we don’t have a magnet big enough to hold this bitch to the fridge.
May 31, 2010
so i had an explicit deadline.
this post was supposed to go out by 11:59 pm yesterday.
what can i say, i fell asleep.
i was tired.
just think of it as added suspense to see who won the cashmere.
why don’t we keep the suspense going a little longer?
let me tell you about how my summer of socks and lace is going.
my very first fan, juliet, left me this comment:
Thank you for the great lace debate! So tell us about the socks.
fair enough juliet;
this is the summer of socks and lace.
so here’s my first sock of the summer:
i used stephanie pearl-mcphee’s sock recipe: a good, plain sock from knitting rules, (quelle suprise) and i won’t tell you what the yarn is since there’s some controversy surrounding the person who makes it. but i will say, it’s very nice yarn that i got from my good friend lisa’s epic destash.
i’m also making this sweater;
a sweater that no one can deny is lace:
it a february lady sweater
yarn is peru by blue moon fiber arts
in the “cloudy with a chance” colorway.
i am on my way to victory bitches!
and now the moment of truth.
the winner of the cashmere.
there were some really great entrants.
for instance yvonne wrote:
o m g. [...]. that pashmina? 170 yards of delicious. i’m imagining it as knit pasties. not for me, of course.
you were so close to winning!
if only they’d been for you.
then there was linda who wrote:
I would crochet a dishcloth with it. But I would’t use it to wash dishes, I would use it to dust. OR a can coolie. I would knit this though. Then I would needle felt some sort of witty beer drinkers phrase on it. I still have some time to think of the witty beer drinkers phrase. Hey! Who ever thinks of the wittiest beer drinkers phrase can win a way cool Pashmina can coolie with a witty beer drinkers phrase on it!!!!
i nearly peed when i read this!
i was all set to send her the skein.
but i know linda.
and she’s just crazy enough to do it.
i couldn’t risk it.
so we come to the winning comment,
and this win might cause some controversy:
Totally off topic, but in case you’re not reading all of the comments on the Harlot blog, here’s mine: Steven, I’m going with whatever answer gets me that skein of cashmere. (Otherwise I’d have to go with C leaning towards A) But I really, really want that yarn, so if you like I will write a Treatise on Lace Options if need it and send it to your Store Ruler. Yup, I’m on your side.
here are the reason’s this comment shouldn’t win:
1 – it wasn’t posted on the correct blog entry.
2 – it’s actually a comment on the yarn harlot’s blog.
3 – there is no pattern idea, the one requirement for all entrants.
4 – and she already left a comment on the correct blog post with a pattern that didn’t really cut it for me.
the reason she gets the skein?
in order to win, ms. sally at rivendale farms took her one vote in the great lace debate of 2010, and voted for me
against her conscience.
this bitch wants some cashmere.
the skein is yours.
after the week i’ve had,
i say screw any semblance of the rules.
(i told ya this giveaway wasn’t going to be fair)
May 3, 2010
well folks, i’m home and well.
and a little crispy.
the weather in maryland was exceptionally sunny and hot.
the result? my fair skin is a bit brown in some places,
pink in many others.
as with many of my big life events, i’m finding it difficult to accurately describe the weekend. (i need to start carrying a dictaphone with me or something)
plus i have two final papers to finish this week so i kinda need to conserve some of my writing mojo. but as always, i’ll do my best.
it’s the middle of the night and i can’t sleep.
i’m totally stoked for tomorrow and my mind won’t shut up.
so of course, i edited my “i’m with hotpants” blog post, and did a mini photo shoot.
after which i questioned my sanity, put late night vegas poker on the tv, spread out in my king sized bed, and hugged all six of my downy pillows.
sleep came soon after.
later that same morning . . .
we started out early and beat the traffic.
i left my friends at the fold/socks that rock line, making a bee line for. . .
now, i’m not a spinner.
but as this was my first fiber festival,
i had this romantic notion that i would own the grand champion fleece.
so i waited in my own line, and put in a stupidly aggressive bid.
i also had what i feel is a pretty realistic fear that i actually wouldn’t win, so i purchased “ike’s” fleece, a border leicester/lincoln/corriedale mix ram from shepherd’s hey farm in comus, maryland.
it’s beautiful and would easily make my black sweater dreams come true.
by noon we were all pooped.
(note the custom “i’m with hotpants” tees made by annette)
unfortunately, i had to wait around ’till 3 to see if i won the silent auction.
so i wandered around some more,
saw some more sheepy things,
drank my weight in lemonade and root beer floats,
and headed to the “big barn” at 2:40 ish.
when i arrived, the gossip amongst the volunteers was that a mysterious man was lurking. last year, he swooped in a bought all the winning fleeces at the last minute.
i was obviously concerned.
when he moseyed into view, the ladies quietly pointed him out.
his wife clearly wanted my fleece,
what with it being an uncoated black merino that won best in show.
the volunteers galvanized their power behind me,
handing me a pen to write in a last minute bid if i needed,
and heckled the couple, warning them of my ire should they try to outbid me.
i gave the interlopers my absolute best evil eye.
those who have met it’s gaze can testify to it’s sauron-like power.
(the few that have survived that is)
with two minutes two go,
it was reported to me that the wife said,
“if he wants to pay that much for it, he can have it.”
my stupidly aggressive bid did the trick, and i walked away with my grand champion fleece. by christmas, expect to see me in gorgeous black sweater of my own making.
i then headed back to the hotel to crash, and sooth sunburned scalp.
after a beautiful thai dinner,
and my first lesson in spindle spinning,
i proceeded to the maryland sheep and wool after party which was conveniently held in my hotel.
when i found out that the epic pakistani wedding also being held in our hotel bumped the after party
outside into the parking lot, i should have taken it as a sign that things wouldn’t end well.
but there were some serious issues:
there were not enough chairs,
or enough light to knit or drool over peoples hand knits.
so we were left to wait,
and wait some more for the raffle.
and guido, bless him, had pretty much no skills as an emcee
beyond mad geeky enthusiasm
which may have worked against him really.
and of course they did the raffle in two parts meaning,
(god help me)
we had to wait another hour to see if we’d paid for more than and evening of sitting in the dark with our friends with only the hope of a coconut shrimp and fruit skewer to warm out spirits.
of course i didn’t win.
but two of my friends did.
i took my bitter, pouting, sunburn to bed.
the next day,
after a leisurely breakfast in bed,
we made our way back at a more respectable hour to make sure we hadn’t overlooked anything we had to have.
i resisted the cashmere,
but left with a gorgeous golding spindle
i don’t spin.
with that crazy purchase, i knew i needed to head home.
did i mention i got some sun?
April 19, 2010
i was feeling a little woebegone today.
i’m really missing mr. mo
(he’s visiting his grandparents during finals week)
but when i got home,
i found a little pick me up.
nothing makes me happier than an unexpected package on my couch.
especially from a talented boy from brooklyn, like craig hunter
(i can hear you giggling in the back. grow up.)
April 11, 2010
i couldn’t believe how many people entered the girasole contest.
i had to honor that by making a bit of a to do about it.
and in order to be fair,
i had to have someone impartial pick the number
her comment was hilarious too:
i totally want that, i’ll trade you a kidney for it….or part of my liver, if you’re not too particular.
that won’t be necessary.
mine work just fine.
and thanks again to everyone who played.
i’m sure i’ll make something else one day that i’ll need to give away.
April 4, 2010
i have some good news, some not so good news, and some pretty interesting news.
it’s measuring out to be about 4 feet across.
i’m guessing that i can block it out to about 5 feet.
i wanted it to be at least 6 feet in diameter.
though i’d really love to blame the pattern or the designer, this one was all me. when i started, i knew i wanted to make the blanket, not the shawl. the pattern calls for a aran weight. i subbed in a worsted. the pattern called for a 10.5 but that was WAY to big for the yarn i had chosen.
so i used a 9.
plus, i’m a tight knitter.
this failure is all my own.
(but the fact that you have to fudge the last stitch in the edging is jared flood’s. take that!)
i recognize that it’s beautiful and i put a ton of hard work into this project. but the fact is, it’s like making a sweater that doesn’t fit. you gotta give it to someone it does.
which brings me to my pretty interesting news.
i’m giving it away to you!
that’s right, you can win my girasole.
(totally inspired by the yarn harlot’s most recent giveaway post)
the rules of the first bitches.get.stitches giveaway:
- leave a comment
- your comment = your number
- i’ll have an impartial person draw a random number and that person will get the girasole!
we’re on the honor system here people.
i can’t stop you from making a bunch of fake emails and pseudonyms and commenting like crazy. but i trust you bitches.
i’m having some friends/coworkers over on wendnesday to block this bitch. there will be feasting, conviviality, and perhaps a soupçon of debauchery.
and maybe some pinning. maybe.
the drawing will be sunday sunday sunday
(april 11, 2010)
edit: thanks for playing everyone, but we have a winner!