29 November 2011

Coming (almost) Clean

Right now, as I look at the calendar, the past year seems simultaneously one of the longest and shortest of my life. I can't believe it's a day away from December, and I know I owe you all an explanation for disappearing off the face of the Earth.

I came into the shiny new year of 2011 with the best of intentions, planning hard work and efficiency. Life kind of derailed me, I have to admit, but I am so not here to complain. So many people are going through so much, and I am so freakin' lucky that I am knocking on wood every minute or so as I write this.

A very few of you know about the health issues in my family that have been ongoing, but that's all I can really say. It isn't my story to tell. What I can say is that sometimes the cure prescribed turns out to be just as bad – or worse - than the ailment was in the first place, and once you start down that track it is difficult to stop and get bearings. This past year was one filled with little niggling issues, like a trail of dominos. Things that could turn out to be as bad as they could possibly be, or innocuous in and of themselves. Wake-up calls. One after another, and difficult to ignore. So, instead of spending that extra hour working on my pattern or my pins or my knitting, I put it down. Because the one thing that I finally realized was that I have it really really great right now. These are the Good Old Days. And I am going to enjoy each and every moment that I can with the people I love.

I am so lucky to be able to say that, although things have been unpleasant and long lasting, they are livable. And probably not even chronic in the end. :knockonwood: Everything just takes longer, if you know what I mean. It's one of those years – we had one about 5 years ago too – when we joke about having our own wing at the emergency room. And right now, I am in the happy position of looking back on it and believing that we are moving into a calmer period of time.

Looking back on those problems also makes me realize just how utterly behind I am in everything at this point, all of my plans having gone by the wayside. Although I have my muses designed and sketched up, most likely I will not make my deadline of having them all knitted by the end of the year. I can't even begin to tell you how upsetting that is to me. The sad thing is, I was stressing so terribly about it that I wasn't even enjoying the knitting of them. As soon as I accepted it and began mentally writing this tome of a blog post, though, I felt a sense of relief and started enjoying the process again. As Mr. Romi says, I was too "wrapped around the axle." Now it's time for me to move on and concentrate on finishing them. But you all know...they have to be perfect. :) I hope you can all bear with me, and I thank you for your patience.

Speaking of the muses - I have finished another one. Would you like to see a few little pictures to tease you?

This one is knit from Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere in Sundown Orchid (I could only find some here; others seem to be sold out). I love the cable that runs down the back. It's a little asymmetrical, but not too much.
There's a little bit of shoulder shaping using a mock cable in the upper stockinette portion, and it moves straight into the border.
There's some twist to the edging, and a little eyelet.
But I mostly love the border.
It ruffles a little.
And I just want to touch that rich texture every time I see it. I am thoroughly enjoying passing this one by on the mannequin every time I walk into my studio.

Remember when I told you that I had a secret project I am working on? I had planned to have that one all ready for you too, to knit for the holidays. But I am terribly behind, so instead of getting the whole thing out as planned, I am working on getting one of the projects to you for some fun holiday knitting.

The secret? I'm putting together an eBook called "Doily Heads" and filled with lacy hats. (There's a Ravelry group by the name of "Doilie Heads" btw, and I made sure they were ok with the title first).

I'm going to be releasing a tam, and hopefully some wrist warmers and perhaps a cowl to go with, but really? I have been sort of over (under?)-shooting the mark lately, so I will just say the tam for sure. One of the versions is in this lovely black alpaca from Misti.
I decided to line it with some magenta Silk Cloud from Shibui.
It keeps your head warm if you happen to live in Canada and not California. This is the inside.
And the top. I showed everyone in my knitting group and they were wearing it inside out. :)
But I also have an unlined version. Don't you think the pattern looks like a Poinsettia? I do. So I dug out some gorgeous red Sunna in Garnet from Spirit Trail Fiberworks.
I love the stitch definition.
And the color is perfect!
It's a nice light hat for a day with a little chill in the air. Or for someone with a hot head. Hee.
I love the way they turned out!
The pattern is in testing and will be available soon.

I feel like my post is so long already, but I can't leave this out. Jürgen in Germany sent me some beautiful hand spun silk!
Try as I might, I couldn't capture the luster of the yarn. It positively glows. And look at how incredibly even it is! He did this on a drop spindle!
So gorgeous....
Thank you Jürgen!

Oops! One more thing...Monika asked about the black background in the photos of Melpomene and Cåliz. In order to get a black background, I photographed outside in direct sunlight, with the shawl in full light, but against a background that was in shadow, and I metered on my subject. The shadow area in my photos is not actually all that dark in real life. There's a grey stone wall and trees back there (but most importantly, they were in shadow). I also positioned the mannequin rather far away from the background - about 8 feet. I shot with a macro lens at f2.8. I Googled around, aNd Step 4 on this page is a nice and simple explanation. It's really fun to do with flowers. :)

Well. Off to bed with me. I'm feeling too energetic right now!


28 November 2011

Monday's Musing

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” - Buddha

I really needed this quote today. I hope it makes a difference to you, too!

Many warm wishes for a wonderful week. I do hope my US readers enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving and some time off.

You will hear from me again very soon!


21 November 2011

Monday's Musing

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” - Sun Tzu

This is what I really needed to hear/read today. What about you?


16 November 2011

Did I Mention?

Originally, she was part of A Verb for Keeping Warm's Pro-Verbial yarn club, knit with a rustic special edition silk and camel blend yarn. Though it was sport weight, it felt more like a dk weight yarn.

So to re-release her, I knit another version in a fingering weight (sock) yarn from Abstract Fibers (and of course added the instructions).
This is Mighty Sock - a merino/tencel blend - in Gold, and I have to tell you, it looked very pretty in the skein, but knitted up it is stunningly beautiful.
I can't keep from staring at it!
I love surprises like that! Exceeding expectations is always good, in my book. :)
I've been playing with the light and photography. The above pictures were taken outside in full sunlight and not Photoshopped or anything. If you get the exposure just right, the background goes black. Mr. Romi - who used to be a professional photographer - taught me that little trick, and I had forgotten about it until just the other day, when I photographed Melpomene from my Small Shawl eBook subscription, year two (Muses).
Yes! She's out too!
Do you see how the neckline has a subtle scallop to it? That's my favorite part!
This is the small, knit in Alisha Goes Around yarn, Ashes colorway. I love the way the texture brings out the subtle variations in color tone. I think Alisha is a color genius.
I also have a partially finished medium in Lisa Souza's gorgeous Petal yarn, Elektra colorway. Because, you know, Melpomene is the muse of tragedy (more on that later) and Mourning Becomes Electra.
And my amazing super fast fingered test knitter did a large in Sea Silk.
Gorgeous job on the shawl, perfect colorway, fabulous scenery.

From the pattern background: Melpomene’s name derives from the Greek melpô or melpomai meaning "to celebrate with dance and song." Over time, she became the muse of tragedy - particularly tragic theater - and today is often portrayed with a tragic mask in her hand: the opposite of her sister, Thalia, the muse of comedy. Among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and even in the day of Shakespeare, a tragic play was one with a sad or thought-provoking ending; a comedy would have a happy ending. The ancients asked Melpomene to inspire them in the creation of beautiful and lyric poetry and phrasing.

Melpomene the shawl is knit side to side, and her calming textures soothe frayed nerves in times of stress. The repeating charts have the interest and the simplicity to enhance the healing nature of knitting. Melpomene is a perfect meditation for both the mindful knitter and the knitter in search of solace.

I can't end this post without thanking you all for your patience on my muses. This has been a trying year. Nothing terrible - no need for sympathy! - just life, but very very time and energy-consuming nonetheless. I will come clean to you all when things are more together. Otherwise, I always feel like I am jinxing things. (I can't help being superstitious!) Meanwhile, designing, knitting and planning are happening. As Lisa always says, it's all good. :)

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14 November 2011

Monday's Musing

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.” Anaïs Nin

Mr. Romi sent me that quote. Isn't it a great one? I think I will try to expand my life today. :)


08 November 2011

A Weekend at the Lab

Lucky me - I got the best of all worlds when I was asked to teach a class on the Sunday of Interweave's Knitting Lab! At first I wondered whether I would have time to take a weekend away, but when I heard that Alice Starmore was coming, I couldn't say anything but YES! In the end, it worked out perfectly. I had the week to finish up my work, then I took the two hour drive down to San Mateo and arrived in time to catch the last three hours of the market on Saturday. I immediately went over to the Tactile booth to visit Maia. And who should be there but Clara Parkes?! She was fondling all the best yarns. :)
In fact, it was a quite a hopping and happening place over at Maia's! I finally got to meet the sweet Margeaux from TenTenKnits. Doesn't she have a great smile?
And then LoraJean from Knitted Wit came over to introduce herself and show me a gorgeous "Eliza's Wedding Shawl" from Rachael's fabulous third book. The yarn is this incredibly springy wonderful stuff. It made me want to cuddle up in it and never give the shawl back!
I was trying to pick out a nice color combination but there were two things hampering me: the poor lighting, and the fact that Maia had sold out of almost everything! Good lighting, though? I went in search of it. And who should I run into but Vicki wearing her gorgeous Kleio!
Then it was on to other booths. I petted the Kitten over at Tess Designer Yarns and it was the absolute softest thing ever in the world! I do love how elegant that booth always is, and the colors are wonderfully subtle.

I moved on through and made my way over to Brooke's booth: The Sincere Sheep. Just look at these colors! Can you believe those all come from natural dyes?
I spent a lot of time there! And then it was time to get in line for the Alice Starmore book signing. I tried to limit myself and had only brought six books. Yes - that is limiting myself. They would only allow two books at a time, so I stood in line three times. Hee. :)
I was truly bummed that I had forgotten to bring Tudor Roses, one of my favorites. But I did bring my old and new copies of Aran Knitting (here she is signing the old copy).
And I brought A Scottish Garland.
It was totally worth it! This is what the book signing table looked like with the line for Alice.
There were other fabulous authors there too! There was the incomparable Ann Budd.
I asked her to sign my dog-earred copies of her "Handy" books. She is amazing, and I am feeling very fortunate to be working on a secret project for her right now. I was so excited to finally meet her!
And there was Vivian Høxbro.
Look at the adorable picture she drew for me!
Annie Modesitt was sitting patiently swatching away on an amazing new design. I can't wait to see it in finished. Knitting Lab was the first time I actually got to meet her and sit down to chat with her for a moment. After the signing, I hooked up with Cookie A., who had been waiting patiently for me to finish making a fool of myself over Alice Starmore, and we went off to have dinner with Teva Durham (I met her at TNNA - she's terrific!), Faina Goberstein (another sweetie), and I finally got to meet Stefanie Japel! She is so fabulous. She has an amazing centered energy and I must take a class from her one of these days. Then we were off to hear Alice Starmore talk about her life. Swoon.

Next day was my class and I have to say that I had such a great time! They were very gentle with me. :) Here's everyone getting ready.
And a great mother/daughter combo in the front row!
Here's Judy in her gorgeous Kleio and Cinda, both with gorgeous smiles!
And here's Sheila who is designing her first shawl.
I asked them all to help me choose the colors for my next project out of the yarn Brooke gave me, and we had a hilarious time with the vote. Here's the winner:
and the runner up:
and the green!
Later on, when I laid out all of the skeins, the dark purple-grey fell against the silvery-grey and OMG. Just look at this!
I didn't want to break them up, so Brooke is sending me more! This one is going to be super-fantastic. :) It is all designed in my mind's eye.

After class (and after running into the gorgeous Meg Swansen - she is so incredibly elegant!), it was off to tea with Alice Starmore. Look! I can't believe I was actually so close to her!
She was with Karin Strom from Interweave and they were about to take a road trip up the Sonoma Coast!
Well, after that, it was back home for me. I didn't get much knitting done, but I did do a little on the sock yarn version of Cáliz (to be released very soon).
Whew. It was a happy whirlwind. :)

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