Monday, June 3, 2013

Is it Almost Summer Already??


Wow!!! I can hardly believe it's June already! And what a spring it has been! Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of spring is the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and this year was no exception! It was an absolute blast!! I took my son and my oldest daughter with me this year, and we all had a fabulous time. 
When I saw that Maggie Casey was teaching a class this year, I decided it was time for me to sign up and dive in. I took a 2-day class, Spinning 101, and the word amazing hardly comes close to describing the experience. First, I was fortunate enough to be in the class with 15 fabulous ladies who each contributed to the fun, learning and laughs. But to learn from Maggie, in person, is an experience not to be missed if you ever have the opportunity. In her soothing, calm voice she was able to guide us from the cleaned, raw fleece on the floor to some beautiful skeins of yarn...the first skeins for some of the students! Even having spun before, I found the lessons and techniques I learned have made me a much better spinner and more importantly, more confident. If you can't get to one of her classes, I highly recommend her DVD (or video download) Start Spinning. It captures the class in a video context, and Is probably the single DVD that I learned from. 
Following right on the heels of MDSW was the LI Fleece and Fiber Fair. I didn't even know we had one out here, let alone that I could purchase home grown fleece!  (some angora, icelandic and alpaca might have come home with me. I ain't sayin') I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to demonstrate spinning, combing and carding at the festival, along with several other members of the Spinning Study Group of LI. And even more fortunate, the flooding rain held off until just after the festival ended on Saturday. (I did feel horrible for the folks who went on Sunday which was just a total washout!)
That Sunday, though, I participated in the annual Knit-a-thon at my LYS The Village Knitter benefitting YAI. I am truly blessed to have this amazing LYS nearby, with the amazing owners and knitters that meet there. The event was a stunning success and raised more that $1400 for the cause. Ann, Kathleen, Karen and Marian put in such incredible effort that surely there is a special place for these knitting/organizing goddesses! And Deirdre...well, you rock woman!! That's all I can say! Deirdre raised an incredible amount of funds for the knit-a-thon, and I personally would like to nominate you for Secretary of Treasury. You'd have this country out of debt (and totally in to yarn!) in no time flat!! :)
Finally, I was sooooo fortunate to snag a last minute spot in this years Super Summer Knitogether in Nashville, TN!!! To say that I'm excited would be a total understatement! So many friends from last years event will be going again this year and I am excited to see everyone again. I'm even willing to fly (yes, I'm going to fly!!) down to the event this year!
Wow!!! I definitely need to blog more often!! LOL But it really has been a pretty amazing spring, and I'm looking forward to a fun (hopefully not too hot!) summer. I'm participating in Camp Loopy this year, so I'll be at camp this summer!!! :)
Here's some pix of some recent work as well as MDSW!
Happy Spring! 
Hugs! 










Saturday, March 2, 2013

Putting it Out There

Well, it's time to do some spring cleaning, reassess and start putting it out there again. The past year has been full of changes (most good, some not so good) as I suspect it has been for everyone. But, when re-evaluation time rolls around, you start to develop an appreciation of the things that are truly important, as well as a need to let go of the things that are holding you back. 

One of the brightest spots in the past year, has been my knitting friends who have since become extended family. We laugh together, sometimes cry, but always share a bond of friendship that grows deeper by the day. Over the rhythm of our needles, we share not only our patterns and passions for yarn, but pieces of our lives that grow us together as more than just knitters, but friends on every level.  And then there's the laughs...and laughs....and laughs!!! These are the people (and you know who you are!) that will support you through thick and thin, and suddenly everything is more bearable when you know there are those who will not only understand, but help to put things into perspective. If you are fortunate enough to find this, you are luckier than most, and develop a true understanding of the meaning of friendship.

But it does make you realize, that there are those that will constantly try and hold you back. Or put you down or provide drama in proportions that could only be appreciated on the stage or the silver screen. After a time, it not only becomes exhausting, but a drain on your own system and there comes a point where you realize you need to let the drama of another go. You begin to see that perhaps someone is being less than honest with you to hide their own issues or perhaps due to the realization that you are completely on to them. Whichever the reason, there comes a time when you have to just let it go for your own sanity and peace of mind. Let alone, there becomes nothing for you to say that will serve any good purpose since you are no longer willing to indulge in their self inflicted drama. 

So, with a refreshed perspective and enriched focus, I come back to the world of blogging. I know who I am and, more importantly, I'm comfortable with it. I've found some amazing people who accept and appreciate that person. And there is no better motivation to strive to stretch yourself and continue to grow.
Now, coming from a place of joy, my knitting and spinning has taken a new direction. I'm more willing to try new things and experiment, and less afraid of failure--or what I now refer to as deep learning with nothing to show for it! :) I've completed my first sweater with an amazing amount of support and encouragement. And I think it's time my blog reflected the changes. I may not be the most technologically capable blogger, but I'll figure it out. With a little help from my friends. A few of my most recent FO's, and some hints as to upcoming WIP's!
Let go of what is holding on to your coattails, determined to hold you down, and there are no limits to the heights you can soar to! 

Calligraphy!


Muckle Mitts


Breaking Hearts Socks


Willow Cowl




Thursday, August 9, 2012

When All Else Fails, Follow the Pattern!

OK, I’m at the point where I can laugh about it. So, I thought I’d share my folly!!
I’m taking the Knitting with Beads class on Craftsy.com and absolutely loving it. I couldn’t wait to cast on Accola. I picked the yarn (lace weight for maximum stress), agonized over the bead choices and watched the lessons at least three times. I was ready.
I cast on for the edging, and was rolling along. But it wasn’t long before I noticed that the beads (gunmetal and hexagonal for maximum sparkle) weren’t really showing up. Do I stop and think? Of course not. I just keep digging them out of the nupps and press ahead to finish the entire edging.
Wow! Now on to the really fun part…picking up and seeing the actual body of the shawl take place. I pre-string the beads and realize that I’m not going to have enough. Not to mention that they weigh a TON on the yarn! Strange. I calculated and weighed very carefully. So, I order more. Do I stop at this point?? Of course not. I carefully follow Laura’s method to pick up the stitches and it works perfectly. I start on the body, but it doesn’t take long to realize that something isn’t right with the center panel. The beads are looking loose and “awkward”. Dare I say somewhat gaudy almost? Do I stop yet? Of course not. I just figure it’s going to all work out and plunge ahead on another repeat.
Finally (and I do mean FINALLY!), a bell goes off in my very hard head and I realize that if I continue this way, this shawl is going to weigh a ton, not to mention not look very nice. So, being brilliant, I take a look at other’s photos….uh, they don’t look like mine. Ruh roh!!!! Could I possibly have used the wrong size bead in the wrong place? Ding ding ding!!!
I can laugh about it now, ‘cause I’ve got the edging re-done and am working on my second repeat of the center panel. The beads actually look great! And yes, I still love the pattern and am really enjoying working on it. (probably a good thing given the fact that I’m on my second go round and don’t have a shawl to show yet! LOL)
The moral of this long story: if it seems wrong, and then still seems wrong, and then looks even worse…you probably should
stop and find where you went rogue before you waste tooooo much time!! :) :) :) :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

SSK!

I've been so bad about keeping up with my blog! But SSK has motivated me to keep on blogging! We're on the road back from the most amazing event eva!! Lex and I had a 2 1/2 day road trip down to Nashville, and are now making our way back to NY. I'll add some pix and give you all the details when we get home, but suffice it to say that we will never forget the awesome people we met!
Knitters have to be the nicest people in the world. I can't imagine any other large group getting together and hitting it off so perfectly. Even with people we had never met before, it was like being with friends we had known forever! Of all the memories we are bringing home, the people we met will be the most cherished! Knitters came from  near and far and settled in sharing their talents, help, advice and friendship. When the Knitgirlls first said that you will meet your new best friends at SSK, I'm thinking how can that be possible? Now, I know exactly what they meant. All I can say is that campus was filled with big hearts and lots of love! 
I'll share some memories and pictures when we get home. It was 5 days of spinning, knitting, shopping and lots of laughing! The classes were fabulous; Lynn Zimmerman, Rebecca Danger and Leslie of the Knitgirlls taught the classes I took and I am the better for it. I can't wait to get home to start putting some of my new found techniques to good use!
Until then....
Live, laugh and knit on!
Jan

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The New Addiction!


First, let me introduce you to Lydia! She's a Schacht Ladybug, and she is a beauty! And yes, she has started a whole new obsession!! I've caught the spinning bug!
I should explain that this all started last summer, when I found an interesting video on YouTube (ok, I was egged on at my LYS) on spinning. This particular method involved a drop spindle, aptly named, I might add, since it spends most of its time being dropped. Not to mention accidentally spun with enough gusto to take out any loose objects in its path. Well, it was enough to provoke my curiosity into finding more efficient methods to accomplish the same goal. And I did. Boy, did I ever!
My fall trip to Rhinebeck only encouraged me further, especially when I saw hundreds of people carrying huge plastic bags with various states of "sheep!" The bags contained fleece in various states including fresh off the sheep to cleaned, dyed and ready to spin! And then there was booth after booth of fiber dyed in every color and palette you can think of. You would think I'd be happy with the miles and miles of already prepared and ready to knit yarn. Uh.....no.
So, I began to research wheels on the web. Of course, the best way to do this would have been to try out various wheels in person. But, never having used one before, I was not about to humiliate myself in the store! No, I'd rather take my chances in the privacy of my own home! And I surely wasn't about to fall into the "You break it, you bought it trap!" I knew flat out where that was going to go!
So, to make an already too long story short, I decided on the Ladybug. And I'm thrilled with her! And I've been spinning....and spinning....and spinning! And believe it or not, there is a lot to learn about fiber, types of fiber, types of yarn...I could go on and on. And then, there's plying...singles, 2-ply, navajo ply...well, you get the idea!
Here's an idea of what I've been spinning:

And I haven't been neglecting my knitting! (Well, not too much!)
Here's some FO's of the recent past:




I will save the yarn acquisitions for the next blog! In the meantime, come join me on Ravelry, and Happy Knitting!




Sunday, November 6, 2011

Not another KAL!!!


I promised myself absolutely no more KAL's until I had at least some of my WIP's off the needles. But after seeing this shawl in person, and meeting the lovely lady wearing it, I had to make one! And I'm so glad I did!
But that didn't solve my problem of all the UFO's I had lying around. So I got ruthless! It was either finish it or frog it time. And I frogged, and frogged, and then frogged some more!! And ultimately, I was glad I did. I actually feel like I might get some things finished instead of just looking at things and getting overwhelmed. Not to mention, it gave me my needles back to cast on more!! :) :) ;)
My current favorite is a shawl from an online class I enrolled in at Craftsy.com. It's their mastering lace class, and I would highly recommend it. Now, I've knit lace before, but Laura (the designer and instructor) broke things down in such a way that I was able to gain an even better understanding of the process of lace. Additionally, she gave some time saving, chart reading and lace knitting tips that will serve well on any lace project you are working on. I'm nearly done with the body of the shawl, and am actually looking forward to the edging. It is knit on separately, so I will be able to practice my knitting backwards from the course I took at Stitches! I'm using a new yarn I discovered from Fibernymph Dye Works, in the Bedazzled base in the color Dorabella. It's super soft and just a pleasure to work with! I'm already planning another one in lace, and am soooo tempted by the Sweet Georgia Yarns Cashsilk! Someone please talk me in to it!!! :)
I've also cast on for the Mamma Mia shawl, and I'm using the yarn recommended in the pattern. So far, it's been a very easy knit, but I have a feeling that may change once I split it for the front! :) But after seeing the sample at Stitches, it was another have to knit it project!
So, the clocks are turned back, and we're settling in for winter. Seems like prime knitting time to me!!
ETA: Not sure why my links aren't showing up as links, but if you hover over the name, the link should show up! :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Tale of Rhinebeck and Stitches!

Well, the sign of a really pathetic blogger is one who can't even locate her own blog. That's how long it's been. 45 minutes later, I decide to just start over, and what should pop up out of nowhere? The fact that I'm on my IPad is not much help either.
So, here we are at the end of a long weekend spent at Stitches East at the Hartford Convention in Hartford, Connecticut. This odyssey of yarn and fiber actually started last weekend at The New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. My daughter Alexis and I made the treck up to Rhinebeck to see what all the buzz was about. Well.....we found out!! We were totally overwhelmed at the sheer size of the festival, not to mention the volume of yarns and fibers! How in the world do you choose from all the fabulous different varieties, colors and textures? Well, we managed!! And then some!
But what truly made the trip worthwhile, was the new friends we made both at the Ravelry meetup, and just wandering the festival. We met Lisa, the genius behind Fibernymph Dyeworks yarns, and Carin of the Round the Twist vlog, and one of the co hosts of next summers SSK getaway! We had a chance to see Casey, Jess and the adorable Ravbaby, Eloise, and to meet the charming Mary Heather all from Ravelry. We were lucky enough to find ourselves in line behind none other than Tammy, The Proverbial Knitter, and her best friend Karen. What a treat to meet them both, and they are both sweethearts!
So, we shopped until we dropped, but our yarn odyssey continued. The next Tuesday, we found ourselves at The Yarn Company in NYC, for Stacy of Tempted Yarns trunk show. First, I gotta tell ya, that if you never met Stacy, you should!! She is an amazingly talented and wonderful bundle of energy!! And if you've never experienced Tempted yarns, run to http://www.theloopyewe.com/ and get yourself some!! You'll be glad you did! Of course, I had to try some of her new Golden Grrl base, exclusive to The Yarn Company!
So everything was going swimmingly, but there had to be a hitch in the git along somewhere, right? We arrive back at the train staion, and find...no car. That parking garage is huge!!! Ask me how I know??? We walked and we looked and we walked and we looked some more. It took three geniuses 20 minutes to realize that A: there were 2 garages and B: the levels were not flat and, most importantly C: we parked in a really stupid place!! Live and learn as I always say.
And now, we're at Stitches East, a huge celebration of fiber, pattern designs, yarns and all things sticks and string! After Rhinebeck, we came here on a yarn diet, of course. It lasted 1 hour. C'est la vie! It has been the most awesome mother/daughter weekend sharing a passion for knitting with lots of new ( and some old) friends! We are already planning for next year!
So, I suppose we are set for projects and yarn....for now. But I have to share this: knitters are the best group of people!! And I will gladly sign on for the next meet up, just to meet more fabulously talented, generous and kind people! I think I learned just as much from fellow knitters as I did from the classes! Knitters seem always willing to share! And can't the world use waaayyyyyyy more of that????