Monday, February 25, 2008

Stitches West 2008

This weekend was amazing. And not may people can say it happened to be the same weekend their in-laws were in town.

It was a combination weekend of Jon's birthday and a gift in the form of an event that I gave my MIL for Christmas. Jon and I both took Friday off of work, but that didn't mean that we got to sleep in any. His parents came over at about 8am, and shortly thereafter his mom and I took off for Santa Clara. We had Stitches West, a knitting convention to go to, and we were taking classes! This was exciting for many reasons; it was the first of the three years I've gone that I have been able to take classes, I was going down for more than just one day, and I got to share it with someone who was really going to appreciate it as much as I do.

It was a trick finding parking, and decided to skip the line of traffic circling the convention center, which left us parking illegally in a lot across the street. We were one of at least 500 cars that had also already parked, so we felt safe that they wouldn't ticket and tow each one of us. We got onto the market floor, and of course it was fiber overload. We bounced from booth to booth, oohing and ahhing, touching, petting, and admiring every yarn we saw. For the most part, we had decided not to buy anything on Friday and that it would be better to wait for the sales when we came back on Sunday. Of course, there were a few exceptions to the rules. I ended up buying a skein of medium weight Socks That Rock in their Purple Rain colorway from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Deb ended up getting a kit from White Lies Designs to make the Alyce Tee, and of course I want to steal the pattern from her once she is done. I had to replace a pattern for the Milinda Pullover that was taken from me, and of course picked up another one for the Leticia Cardigan. How could I resist? The final pattern purchase of the day was at the Stitch Diva Studios Booth for the Hourglass Jacket. Most of their patterns are so interesting and give the impression that they are a blast to make. It wasn't until I was home with the pattern that I check whether or not it was a knit or crochet pattern. While I learned crocheting first, I am a much better knitter and it would probably take me 100 times longer to finish a crocheted piece, if only for the time it took me to stop and look up how to do each stitch I was supposed to be using.

At about noon, we had lunch (read, Deb had a burger and I stupidly only had fries) before finding where we were supposed to go for our first class at 1:30pm: Stashology taught by Christine Bylsma. The premise of the class is that knitters are really good at acquiring yarn, making something (or not), and being left with little left over bits that fill our stash bins. She taught us how to effectively use up these remaining bits to make a tasteful sweater, top, pillow, or whatever. It was a really cool class, and without going into obnoxious details it really made us think differently about our yarns, how we use them, and what we can do with the remainders. The only thing I wish to unlearn from the class was how to do the "diva stitch". It was basically making fringe hang out from the middle of your work to make a yarn-boa, ugly fringey pillow cover, or...something else very.. unattractive. But aside from that, the class was wonderful and worth it.

We walked around the market a little more before deciding we were finished for the day and headed to the mall for dinner and some shopping before coming home. Remember that french fry lunch? Well, at this point I was really feeling it. I was so overstimulated that I was ignoring my stomach so my body got back at me by giving me an awful headache and an all over crappy feeling. We ate, and I felt better enough to get some clothes, which means cycling through more than just 5 outfits for me. Woo hoo! Diversity in things I can fit into! We got home at about 9:30pm, and stayed up until about 10:30 while we waited for the guys to get back from railfanning in Oroville. I couldn't take it anymore, so we both crashed.

On Saturday we all spent the day together at the Cartoon Museum, eating at home, and running some errands. I had to recover from my lack of nutrition the day before, so I napped for a few hours just before dinner.

Sunday was the earliest day of them all, since we had a class at 8:30am. We ended up making excellent time due to the lack of anyone else on the road, and got to the convention center at about 7:30am. We got some pastries and coffee/tea for breakfast before heading off to find the room for our class on Bead Knitting with Betsy Hershbergh. This promised to be a very interesting class, since I knew that there were a number of ways to embellish knit items with beads, but I didn't want to spend the time finding out and researching everything myself. It did end up being informative and we got to make a swatch with different methods of getting the beads in there. I think my biggest complaint with the class was the speed. I realize I am a fast knitter and have ADD, but it kind of bored me to finish the row we were supposed to be doing, along with the set up rows for the next sample, and have to wait 10 minutes before she suggested to the group that we get to the set up rows for the next sample. I kept getting ahead because I had nothing else to do, and would get frustrated when I actually had to stop and wait because I couldn't figure out on my own what we were supposed to do. I think at that time I was 20 minutes ahead. Deb and I took that time to plan our attack on the market floor with what we were going to buy that day. By the time the class was over, it was nice to get up and leave, however it was also a pretty educational class, so I can't complain about the pace too much. Sunday we were smarter than Friday, and after stopping only at Brooks Farm Yarn so we could each indulge, we instantly headed for lunch. This time I had a burger since it was bigger and had more substance than a thing of fries.

I quickly got distracted from my food and was looking at the surrounding booths planning what I would be attacking next. After much more wandering, debating, and wandering some more, I ended up with a pattern for this super cute kids' hat from KnitWhits, and Deb bought me some Superwash Merino Tencel in a color close to a light version of the Iris colorway (of course it's not written on the hank) so that I could start a maternity top that I have been drooling over. The pattern is the cover from Expectant Little Knits. After deciding that we had done enough damage and were sufficiently overloaded, we headed home to relax.

It was exhausting weekend, and I was not ready to get up this morning, but it was well worth it. :o)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Minimalist Blocking

That's it! The Minimalist Cardigan is off the needles, and blocking. Hooray! Hopefully tomorrow I can start seaming it up and have it completely ready for Stitches West! My very next post should include a bunch of pictures of the Minimalist blocking, being seamed, and being worn! I also owe pictures of the Simply Marylin that was finished eons ago but was never photographed.

Now the dilemma is: what to knit next? Mr Kiwi has hijacked my sock needles or I'd start a pair. I think someone should just buy me new Addi's and keep the ones he's harboring. ;o)
I'm thinking something small-ish, quick, and doesn't require a lot of brain power. A scarf it is! I love the feeling of accomplishment.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Finished baby Bear items

Yesterday morning I finished the baby gift that I was making for a friend's baby shower. It was the Teddy Bear Hood, Mittens, and Bootees pattern from Debbie Bliss' Kids' Knits for Heads, Hands, and Toes. I thought I would get a picture of the finished set (sans mittens.. I didn't have time) however when i tried using my camera, I found it stubbornly broken. What a weekend for Mr Kiwi to be in Tahoe skiing with his sister, thus taking his camera with him, huh? So to make this not another pictureless post, I found the image that was in the book. Hopefully in a month I can get a picture of a baby wearing the one I made ;o)

This was the only photo that was shown, which was good and bad. There were some parts in the pattern notes that were not exactly clear and because they are not visible in the photo, it was a little challenging to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing. A little trail and error, and I figured it out.
Knitting baby stuff is very quick and fun. It's almost instant gratification because they are so small and fast to make.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Knitting Change?

Last night a friend brought many baby knitting books for me to cruise through and knit baby items from. I took advantage of the great timing (and her generosity!!) and set to work finding a baby pattern... for a friend's baby shower that is taking place next Saturday. I had pretty short notice that this shower was happening, so I have to get on it pretty quickly! After consulting the other women I was with, we chose a pattern from the three options I gave everyone.
Since the shower is a little over a week away, I have to break my one project rule and get started on the gift! And honestly, I was looking forward to getting a bit of a break from the never ending moss stitch that my entire sweater is being made with. So tonight I sat down to begin knitting, and after the cast-on row, the instructions set me up for.. yep. 1x1 ribbing.
Ironic, huh?