Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stitches West

As just about every knitter in my region of the country knows, yesterday was Stitches West taking place in the Santa Clara Convention Center. Last year was my first year, and being new to knitting, I had no idea what I was in for. This year however, Mr Kiwi (formerly Mr A) and I were well prepared. Stitches West has a deal with Amtrak to give discounted train tickets to the Saturday Marketplace, and they likewise hand out passes for discounted entry tickets. I think we managed to get a 20% discounted train faire, and $3 off per entry into the Center. Last year we had gotten on the train at the Martinez Station, and our car was fairly light. It was later that right that we realized that there was a car fully dedicated to knitters. This year, we decided that we wwanted to be in the knitting car, so it was decided long ago that we would get up extra early (at 5am), drive our butts to the first station of the day (Sacramento) and take it past where we live and all the way down to Santa Clara. It actually turned out to be the absolute best idea. We got onto the first car and managed to share a table with another knitter who was not in a group. Once the train got going, Mr Kiwi sprang off to get me coffee and a bagle, as well as snacks for himself. The second stop was Davis. And we were already full. Mr Kiwi had not yet returned from obtaining food and insta-wakeup, and the women in charge were attempting to give away his seat. I had to keep telling them that "really! He's here! I'm not saving the seat for a woman getting on at a later station, but HE is on the train at this moment!" I was glad to have him come back; not only did I get food, but I didn't have to continue defending his seat :o) I can imagine how bummed out we would have been had we tried getting on 4 stops down the line.
We had interesting conversations with the knitters around us. The woman sitting across from Mr Kiwi happened to be a Mechanical Engineer, as is Mr Kiwi. He was tickled the whole day about that. "What are the odds that I, a knitting Mechanical Engineer would sit on the train across from another knitting Mechanical Engineer!" During the train ride, I was showing Mr Kiwi two new techniques; YO and k2tog. He got excited when he had knit enough for the jumble of stitches to actually look like something cool. One of the women sitting with us said "You two are such a cute couple!" To which he laughed and said "You are only saying that because I'm knitting." It was another moment that seemed to stick with him all day. When we got into the Convention Center, it was pretty much how I remember it; yarn everyone, a color explosion, and knitters of every kind swarming booths to pick over the deals they wanted. I recognized some of the vendors from last year as they managed to keep the same location as the previous year. And they had they yarn hanging around their booth the same way, with the same fibers on the same units. The guy with the wooden swifts was in his same place from last year; I remembering wanting to get one (this was Kiwi pre-owning a swift) and Mr Kiwi decided I had spent enough. Getting home that night and tring to ball one of the brand new hanks of endless yarn proved that I didn't just "want" one, but for both of our sanities I "needed" one. We bought a swift later that week, not the same one from this man, though.
I was asked "What is your budget for today". I knew I was forgetting something as I had not set one. I didn't get too carried away though. I made an instant purchase on some Dk weight yarn that I knew I couldn't get for that price anywhere else. Then I spent more time browsing and watching and touching and lusting. I think if the show did anything for me this year, it inspired me to make more lace. And the fine lace that I swore I'd never do because it is so thin, not just "lace" on a sport weight or larger yarn (not to say it isn't lace, but the Boise Shawlwas far less intimidating because it was a weight I was very familiar with). I was fingering all the fine lace weight yarns, touching all the shawls, and browsing all the lacy patterns. Mmm lace. I am so excited to get started.
Around 2pm we decided that since we were in the San Jose area, and right down the street from Daddy Kiwi's shop, I called him to see if he wanted a quick lunch. As predicted, he was infact at the shop and was there faster than we could cross the convention center (getting minorly distracted) and make it out the door. We went down the street to Bennigan's and had some tastier food, without the long lines and nowhere to sit. And of course a quick visit with the Dad. We got back to the show refresheed and I was ready to look for patterns, blocking wires, and sock blockers. I found one size of sock blockers (still need the medium) and found a number of patterns that I liked. I forgot to look for the wires, so I am going to have to buy those online somewhere (since I don't know who sells them locally, hint hint) along with the sock blockers. Not enough people carry those two items.
In all, it was a spectacular day, surrounded by hundreds of people who love to knit. It was inspiring and fun; everything about the day was great. I am only too sad that the day seemed to end so quickly, yet we didn't make it home until 9:30pm. Sitches 2008... here we come.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cabled Blanket

Lately I have decided that it is time for some major stash busting. I have a dresser unit dedicated to holding my yarns, that was put in place so the cats don't get into and eat all my yarn. So far it has been working, but when I focus on making socks and have huge amounts of yarn crammed into my unit, less and less yarn is able to actually fit. Last year at Stitches West (before I really knew what I was getting into) I bought 20 skeins of chunky yarn specifically to be made into a blanket. Since I was still a brand new knitter at that point, I had no idea what to do with my mountain of this yarn (which fills more than one of my drawers). When I received the Stitchionary 2 for Christmas this year, I knew that I would find a nice cable pattern and bust out my stash of this yarn. I began my blanket a year in waiting.

The blanket is currently not as wide as I want it to be so I'm going to be making a border when I am finished with the length. Thus far, it is going pretty quickly, and since it is a 24 row repeat pattern, it doesn't get boring. Once I it's finished, I'll have an extra drawer for all the other yarns I ahve in bags waiting for a home.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Class Progress

Last night has been the first time I left really sore from dance in a long time. It's funny; I have been dancing for over a year, and each time I go into class I learn something new or feel like there is still something I can improve on. It's a good feeling that there is still more to learn and practice, and that in another year I will not be bored and will still find something that I can work on. I think the new format and rotation schedule helped a little.
I feel as though in the past couple of weeks I have at least learned a lot and have had something to bring home each night, even if I didn't progress much. Especially in the belly dance classes, I feel like I have been stuck on a plateau for a number of months after making some great progress. I feel like I am about to hop off and make my upward progress again, and I can't wait to get that feeling. I know I have been making spectacular progress in Dance Movements, and I am looking forward to when that transfers over to belly dancing.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

SP10 Questionnaire

These are modified slightly from the SP9 questions so that as my tastes change, they are reflected here :o)

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I don't have any favorite yarns from a company (yet) but I do have some slight fiber preferences. Absolutely love cashmere, I mean who doesn't? For the most part I can probably knit with anything, except for cheap acrylics. I don't mind acrylic blends, but if it isn't even nice to touch on the ball, I most likely won't want to knit with it. I also have no use for fun-fur.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have cases for everything. I have a case for my Options, a case for circs, long straights,a dn short straights.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
History: I learned to crochet by teaching myself single chains 8 years ago. I was frustrated that I could never find good crochet patterns and everything was knit, so I decided I had to learn how to knit to make all the cool stuff. I tried teaching myself from a book 5 years ago, and that failed when I couldn't figure out how to cast on. Almost 2 years ago a group at school got together and learned to knit. I've been doing it since. I would consider myself intermediate. I am not intimidated to try new things with knitting.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Unfortunately, no. And if I did... it probably wouoldn't be updated.

5. What's your favorite scent?
I love Indian scents, and also floral scents. I am not too much a fan of overly citrusy smells though.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I love chocolate. Unfortunately I can't have hard candies, but sweets are always good.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I don't spin. Too poor to get into that hard core. I paint though, but not as regularly as knitting. I also draw and color, I cross stitch, and I love love love cooking. Just about anything crafty is on my to-do list.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I love all types of music... seriously. I am big right now on anything I can dance to. I am also ashamed of my very small Arabian music collection. Shakira, Jurassic5, Gorillaz, Gnarles Barkley, D.Mode, John Mayer, and Corrine Bailey Rae are some of my tops right now. The one person I can't stand? Dave Matthews (unless it is with Jurassic5 or Blue Man Group). And yes, I can play mp3s :o)

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I love the cool colors; blue, purple, green. Pink is the color I am most selective about, since in many cases I don't care for it.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I am married and have 2 cats. They are my babies and are so spoiled... yes, I knit a kittypi for them. I also have a 60g fishtank with angels, a pleco, loaches, and red tailed black sharks to name a few of the species.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
scarves, hats, mittens: yes. Poncho: no.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I love socks. I like using my knitting for creativity as well as meditation. So in some cases I like knitting things with many techniques/patterns, then there are times when I just want endless stockinette.

13. What are you knitting right now?
I am busting my stash away with a cabled blanket. Once I finish, I'll get a whole drawer in my knitting dresser.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Love it!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I have become a huge fan of the Knit Picks Options. I still like Addi Turbos for sock knitting, and my other needle of choice would be bamboo. I don't use straights too much any more. Almost everythig I do can be done on circs, and it feels better on my wrists anyhow.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
I am lucky to have both.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
I am monogomous. If there is a UFO in my stash, it is because I have decided that yarn is hideous and I will never finish it out of disgust for whatever reason. It *is* possible for someone to have no UFOs and only one (or two) WIP! :o)

18. What is your favorite holiday?
I love Christmas. I don't know. Not necessarily the gifts, but things just feel different around that time. The winter atmosphere. And the massive amounts of food and cooking. Aww comfort foods.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
I am a packrat. I collect everything I get. Things that smell good, yarn, I love anything by Amy Brown, candles, potpourri, little scented tarts that you can put in a burner and let fill the house with yummy smells for hours. Also, anything belly dance related.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Hmm. Well, I have a subscription to Interweave knits, and am intrigued byRowan. I have a few knitting books: Sensational Socks, Fabulous felted bags, Vogue Stitchionary1 and 2, Vogue Knitting on the Edge/Beyond the Edge, SnB Handbook and Happy Hooker. I am always welcoming new books.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Knitting backwards and how to knit with two colors at once. I just haven't gotten into a project that required either yet, so I haven't gotten around t learning them.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I love sock knitting! I've made 2 full pairs now (I know, I'm still new to it but I think I am pretty good!) Circumference: 8 1/4" Heel to Toe: 8" Toe: 1 1/4" Heel Height: 2 1/4" Calf: 11"

23. When is your birthday?

Dance lite

Monday I went to my Dance Movements class, and it must have been the lightest class all year as far as attendance goes. Before the schedule change, the class usually had 10-15 people at maximum. Thus far the class had had upward around 25 people, and in a dance studio where you need to be able to extend your limbs in all directions without smacking someone next to you, things became complicated. It was very hard to move and focus on working out/drilling because we (at least I) was too concerned with not hitting someone accidentally. So the lightness of Monday was a releif and welcomed. We probably still had around 15 people, and compared to last year, it used to be a stretch. I think what caused the business as of late was the new year and people getting back into their dance schedules, and the fact that there was a Master class and a worshop in January.
I am beginning to assume that K and T are seeing me as a "regular" and more advanced, because when we are doing bar work and it is slightly too crowded for everyone to be on the bar at once, I have become one of the ones that gets kicked off the bar. Monday K was scanning the bar to find people who could handle being in the center; apparently my trying to hide from her line of sight wasn't working too well. When we were standing on our left leg and doing battements with the right I did pretty well. I wasn't rocky and falling over, and could even get into releve for a while. Then when we were supposed to be on our right leg doing battements with out left leg, it was either a combination of my right leg as a standing leg being weaker or the heads of everyone else bobbing around, but I couldn't do half of what I accomplished on the other side. Overall it was a good class. I am beginning to like the new format set up as far as the rotation goes, and it is making me work and think about different things. I guess it is good to break the normal routine and have something new to work on.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Last Package

Tuesday after work I went to to the post office with my little cream colored slip telling me that I missed a delivery. I didn't know what I was getting, so it was a surprise to get not one, but two boxes! One of those boxes just happened to be from my secret pal. I opened it to find mixed in with the packing peanuts were a couple of handfulls of Hershey's kisses. Yai chocolate! Hidden in the box was Knitting Over the Edge by Nicky Epstein, and a delicious smelling set of lime cilantro items. It has a cute flower looking candle, two bath salt tea bags, some of the cutest little inscence I have ever seen and a leaf shaped burner to go with them. And to keep with the lime theme, everything was ... well... limey green :o) Thank you, pal! I can't wait to get the chance to use these!