Toronto: Part 1

It was easy to be a bit nostalgic about Toronto. But, as Rachael astutely asked, “Are you nostaligic about the city or about being 20?” I’d have to say: both. Definitely both.

As I predicted, Rachael’s 6:30 PM flight out of O’Hare was delayed, so I felt entirely comfortable taking a little trip on my own to SSK (Sit, Sip and Knit) Night at In the Loop Cafe Thursday night. I had a blast generally unwinding and getting oriented to the local knitter scene.

I think I inspired Tracy to make the Neckdown Wrap Cardigan, and Drea told me that the very next evening the monthly Drunken Knitter’s Night was taking place. And in addition to the yummy *real* scone I purchased, we had some delicious butterscotch cake homemade by Alessandra to celebrate Draya’s birthday.

Although In the Loop was supposed to close at 9 PM, I didn’t leave until closer to 9:30 PM to catch the bus back to St. Clair West station. Rachael finally arrived at the hotel at about 11 PM. By then, I was quite tired, but she needed to get some food so we walked to a nearby 24-hour Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some snacks (cheese, crackers, and yogurt) and make a plan for the next day.

Friday morning we were up early and headed out for a day of exploring. We walked up Yonge to Bloor, then over to a restaurant across from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for breakfast. We were astounded by the fact that the ROM was being consumed by a crystalline alien ship from outer space.

Royal Ontario Museum

But this wasn’t our final destination. Sad to say, I continued my tradition of being in Toronto and NOT visiting the ROM. Instead, we went to the Bata Shoe Museum, which was just a block or two west on Bloor Street. Who would have thought shoes could be so interesting? I took way too many photos of them.

From the Shoe Museum, we walked west on Bloor to Spadina where we purchased some TTC day passes and hopped a streetcar south. Like me, Rachael loves the streetcars. They are a quiet and pleasant form of surface transportation, and rarely encountered in cities anymore. We were headed to the first stop on our mini-yarn crawl through Toronto: Romni Wools. But before we got to Romni, we had to resist the myriad temptations on Queen Street West.

Around Spadina and for several blocks west, Queen Street is the “Fashion District.” We saw many fabric stores, button and trimming stores, and unique clothing stores. Peach Berserk beckoned, and Rachael barely made it out. She was sorely tempted to buy a custom made jacket, but took some time to walk out to think about it. After about 15 minutes inside Romni Wools, she felt better about passing on the opportunity.

Romni was completely overwhelming. It was packed, packed, packed with yarn. I know they don’t have *everything* there, (no Lorna’s Laces, for example) but it was a close thing. Since we were trying to stick to unique, preferably Canadian yarns and products, we were able to narrow things down a bit. Romni now has their own label of yarns, and we both picked up some Romni brand yarn.

As it was now getting well past lunch time, we needed sustenance. I had hoped to get some cheap eats in Chinatown, but we were several blocks away and needed food soon. So, we stopped at the Jerk Spot and instead had a treat I’ve only had in Toronto: roti. Specifically, we had curried goat roti. As a lunch special with a soda, the grand total was just over $5. Quite a deal, and quite good.

One of the reasons we didn’t want to roam far for lunch was because Rachael wanted to stop at the BakkaPhoenix science fiction bookstore for some browsing. While I do like science fiction, I wasn’t wanting to do any book shopping so I just hung out as she enthusiastically browsed the shelves and picked up a few good books.

We headed back to Spadina on the Queen streetcar, then continued north to Nassau Street and Kensington Market. We were headed to Lettuce Knit but enjoyed the atmosphere of Kensington Market in general.

Chocolate shop in Kensington Market, Toronto

It was just down the block from Lettuce Knit that we got the first amazing cup of coffee we’d had in a long time at Ideal Coffee. I was too mellowed by the excellent latte and the engrossing eavesdropping to take photos, but this site has some photos that capture the ecelectic vibe of the place. And Rachael also said the coffee here was even better than the coffee she had in Italy. I’ve never been to Italy, so I can’t make this distinction. But the latte was amazingly great.

We returned to the hotel (via another streetcar along College; hooray for streetcars!) for a short lay-down before joining the knitter crowd at the Spotted Dick. The Spotted Dick is a pub, so the food isn’t complicated in any way. We chowed down on fish and chips, washed down with beer. In my case, it was lots and lots of beer. I can’t remember when I last drank 4 pints of beer, and I barely made it through the night.

We had a grand time, though.

Drunken Knitter's Night at the Spotted Dick in Toronto

On the right is Rachael, of course. On the left is Jeff. Jeff was working on a Baby Surprise jacket, and generally holding up a lively conversation on a number of topics. On one of them, I’ll stay mum for now. The other, though, was about his deep desire to raise a pig for slaughter. Inside his city condo. Which is technically a studio, or a small one-bedroom. And I’m considered a bit “out there” for keeping a few hens in my backyard???

More to come. Much, more more to come. I’m just too tired after returning from such a wonderful weekend to finish this narrative. And I know this is getting quite long by now. I’ll just close out with one last photo from Kensington Market. ‘Nuff said.

A colorful shop in Kensington Market

Leisure time

It started out as another bitterly cold day. Perfect for some guilt-free indoor leisure time.

Wanna guess what this is?

Nalbinding start
Here’s a hint: it’s the beginning of a needle-arts project. Another hint: no knitting needles are involved. Final hint: this fabric-making technique pre-dates knitting by at least several hundred years.

It’s my start to learning the ancient art of nålbinding. Today, the Windy City Knitting Guild sponsored a nålbinding workshop with Nancy Bush. There’s more fun to come this weekend as I return for sessions on Nordic Color, Estonian Traveling Stitches, and Vintage Socks.

Nancy has made it her personal mission to pass on these historical, ethnic knitting techniques that are in danger of disappearing. She’s also helping women in Estonia earn a living through their knitting by selling some of their handmade knitwear here in the U.S. for them, where they can get much better prices than in Estonia. I bought some of those items today, and will show them off when I get enough sunlight to take some good photos.

By the time I’m done with my workshops this weekend, the weather should be improved at least. I think we’re going to get temps in the 40s by Monday. Ah, it can be so interesting to live in the Midwest!

Yet another one

Yes, I’m playing with blogging software again! This will be my third attempt to try to find my best fit in blogging software.

I started out with Blogger, but found that I had to do LOTS of editing of my posts when I included photos. Too much work for me!

Next, I moved to Vox, but I’m getting a bit annoyed with all the widgets and crap it adds on to the site.

So, let’s see how WordPress does, shall we? At least it let me import my Blogger posts. Now…how do I get my Vox posts over here…hmmm…

Anyway, to really put this to the test, let’s upload a photo, shall we?

Close up of Neckdown Wrap Cardigan

Interesting interface…not as idiot proof as Vox, but not too bad either.

Focus, focus

I’m not exactly in the knitting blahs, but I am having trouble focusing considering all the projects swirling through my head. Here’s a sampling:

Socks for Mark; socks for me. I typically only work on socks while commuting, with the exception of the tricky bits (turning the heel, setting up the gusset, or starting the toe), which I do at home. So, I’ve had this pair of socks for Mark on my needles since November. I’m finally on the second sock and working on the leg of this toe-up pattern. But, since my total knitting time per day on this sock is only about 40 minutes max, it’s still going slowly. I can’t wait until they’re done, so I can start on another pair of socks for me!

Pillow covers. I really need some throw pillows in my living room. I bought pillow forms about a year ago and have some yarn in my stash that would make great pillow covers (a washable, wool-hemp blend, a superwash wool, and a washable cotton blend). I want them badly, but I’m not sure if I want them badly enough to bump them up higher on the project list.

Baby sweater. A guy I work with will be welcoming in his second child in just a few weeks. If I’m going to gift him with a sweater, I gotta get a move on.

Hat. Lillian (my MIL) saw my warm earflap hat and suggested that if I was thinking of doing a hat anytime soon, she’d love something that covered her ears. Winter will be over in just a couple months, so practically speaking, this needs to start soon, too.

Lampshade. Yeah, this sounds like a weird project, but it’s one I’m trying out now. We have these table lamps we picked up at Ikea in the living room, and the cat went postal on one. The shade was just paper and it was totally wasted. However, it looked like it would be an easy knit to replace it. A simple tube, knit in the round in a combination of garter stitch and purse stitch. I started it last weekend before I had sorted out all the rest of these projects. Now I feel compelled to finish it. After all, the naked lamp is ugly at this point, and I hate letting things sit on the needles.

Sweater finishing. As I just said, I really hate to leave things unfinished, and I’ve had this one sweater sitting around awaiting final finishing for many months now. Now that I have a new “owner” lined up, I need to pick it back up and finish it.

Sweater starting. I so want to knit myself another sweater. There are several tempting patterns, and I’ve got plenty of nice yarn to play with. This is at the bottom of the list ’cause I’m sure it’s not going to happen any time soon. But I can dream, right?

Behold

I have finished the sweater!

Neckdown Wrap Sweater 

Neckdown Wrap Cardigan (#263) from Knitting Pure & Simple. Yarn used: Dream in Color Classy in color Good Luck Jade.

It seems like I’ve been working on this thing FOREVER. And I still need to block it (I think) in order to make the neck edging lay down completely flat.

Where do I start with explaining the challenges I had with this seemingly simple pattern?

I wanted to add waist shaping, but apparenly made this decision a bit late in the pattern. So, I ended up ripping back several inches in order to start at the right place (just after the underarm). Then I had to rip it back again when I realized I miscalculated when to start the increases again.

At this point, the “frog count” was 2.

After I finished the bottom garter stitch edging and cast off very loosely (using a loose cast off often used for lace: K1, slip stitch back to left needle, K2tog, repeat endlessly), I realized that the cast off was TOO lose. The bottom was sort of wavy. Hmmm…I’d fix that later.

Next, I picked up stitches for the first arm. Once I had finished all the decrease rounds, I tried it on. Hmmm…the arm seems kind of tight. I ripped it back.

The frog count is now 3.

My stitch gauge was spot on, so I decided to alter the decrease rounds a bit. Instead of knitting one round plain between the decrease round while do the initial decreases, I knit 2 rounds plain. I also decreased every 6th row, instead of every 5th row as called for in the pattern. The arm still seemed sort of tight at the top, but I was done with ripping on this sweater, so I just hoped it would feel a bit looser after wearing and/or blocking. If I made this again, I’d adjust the decreases again to be further apart, and I wouldn’t decrease as many stitches, either. 

I don’t have large upper arms, so this issue with the sleeve width stumps me. Anyone else have the same problem with this pattern?

I would have knit the sleeves about 1/2 inch longer if did this pattern again. Even though I tried it on, because the sleeves were so tight at the top of the arm it was hard to determine the best length very accurately.

After the sleeves, I made the i-cord ties. The pattern calls for very long i-cord ties. I made them the length called for, then I tried the sweaer on. They were way too long for my comfort, so I ripped them back several inches.

Now the frog count is 4.

Finally, I undid the bind off on the bottom, tinked back the garter stitch border, and re-knit it on the smaller needles (US 7). I bound off in my usual fashion: Lucy Neatby’s ingenious bind-off, which makes a decently stretchy bind-off for everything but toe-up socks.

Total frog count = 5

Is that bad for a hand-knit, custom fit sweater?

The fit is close and it accentuates my curves quite well, I think. However, I wish there was a bit more coverage on the back of the neck. Some short rows would have really helped there.

My final problem with this pattern was the yarn calculations. Even though the pattern said I only needed 1120 yards of yarn, I used a bit over 1250 yards on the sweater. I ordered a last minute skein from The Loopy Ewe so I could knit the i-cord in the same weight of yarn.

IF I had used my yarn extremely frugally (e.g. carefully left only the bare minimum length of tails needed to weave in ends) I may have been able to use only the original 1250 yards.

I guess that color name — Good Luck Jade — didn’t work it’s magic for me, eh?

But it looks great, doesn’t it? 🙂

The state of my crafting

Wow, it’s been a rough ride lately in my crafting life.

I was listening to a knitting podcast this week and it was mentioned that Mercury has been in retrograde. Maybe that explains why it’s been so darn difficult for me to complete or start a project in the past couple months. Of course, the fact that my commuting/knitting time has been curtailed due to cycling may explain a bit (as well as my commuting/listenting to podcasts time, too) but I’ve also just been sort of *blah* around crafts lately.

Despite my blog-silence on crafting, I have accomplished a few things: slowly and sometimes painfully, but accomplishments nonetheless. Now photographic evidence of those accomplishments will not be forthcoming just yet. (I was stupid and under deadline, so at least one of those items may not be documented in photos at all.) It’s dark right now and I can’t get decent photos of my newest finished object(s), so it’ll just have to wait.

I have been doing some things, though. Let me just list them here:

  • A sleeveless baby “saque” (whatever that means) in crochet and knit
  • A pair of socks
  • An object for the Chicago Crochet Coral Reef Project

What is that last one? Well, if I can alert David Reidy of the Sticks and String podcast to this cool new project and get it mentioned, then I guess I can put it on my own personal blog.

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project is run by the Institute for Figuring. This project is designed and curated by the founders of the IFF, Christine and Margaret Wertheim, who are originally from Brisbane, Australia but now live in Los Angeles. They started the project in homage to the Great Barrier Reef, as “wooly testimony to the disappearing wonders of the marine world.” Each crocheted piece duplicates the hyperbolic geometry of coral and has been created by hand.

The Reef will be the coming to Chicago this fall during the Chicago Humanities Festival. Organizers wanted to add a Chicago touch to the Reef, so they’ve started organizing workshops to learn about how to create pieces to add to the Reef.

I was at the inaugural workshop on June 29 hosted by the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Not only did I get to stretch my newly-budded crochet wings, so to speak, but I also learned about hyperbolic space. Cool! My friend Jamie unintentionally grabbed the spotlight, though. She had learned about the workshop at the same Knitting Guild meeting as I did, but she got started right away on her object and brough the finished piece to the workshop. Margaret Wertheim herself kicked off the workshop, and she was thrilled with Jamie’s piece!

There will be more workshops, so if you’re interested, check out the My Space page they’ve set up.

As for my crafting mojo…it’s looking up. Just in the past couple days, I’ve started to feel more centered around it. I’ve cast off and finished a couple projects (the socks and baby saque), and started a new pair of socks.

Yes, there will continue to be crafting projects dissected and documented here. Just hang with me, and I’ll deliver.

Diversions

Of course I’ve been busy with work, but I have found time to have some fun lately.

One of the pleasures of living in a large city is the range of experiences and diversions open to you. Last night, I went with my friends Rachael and Shannon to the Music Box Theatre for one of the strangest and memorable experiences I’ve ever had.

I always enjoy attending a film at the Music Box. While the management has found a way to wedge in a small screening room where they show a few films, most movies are screened in a well-preserved example of the grand old cinemas that were the norm in the first half of the 20th century. OK, the original seats aren’t as comfy as those found in the modern cineplex, but the beautiful interior is a treat.

Music Box also shows films that you just can’t see anywhere else in Chicago. I remember seeing Guillermo del Toro‘s film Cronos at the Music Box in 1993 and being entertained by a live organ performance before the film started. Last summer Mark and I went there to see The War Tapes (which I highly recommend).

Last night Music Box presented a live performance of Brand Upon the Brain!. I’m still not sure how to interpret this film, but the performances were fantastic and the experience was, as I said, very memorable. I don’t think there was an empty seat in the house, and it was a lot of fun to have the Foley artists right below the screen so I could see how they made some of sound effects. Who knew what a key role celery plays in horror films!

We had beautiful weather yesterday, too, so it was quite a treat to sit outside at Julius Meinl for a pre-movie nosh. The sandwiches were good, but the Millenium Torte was awesomely yummy!

I wish I could say that I spent the splendid day working in my garden, but I can’t. I still have no beds in place for my vegetables, and I’m starting to get a bit annoyed by the delay. Apparently the landscaper wants to time things such that the crew is here to complete the entire job — hardscaping the yard (including building the veggie beds) and putting in the ornamentals — and not have to come back again to finish. She’s waiting for the dreaded 17-year cicadas to emerge, mate, and die before kicking off the project.

Instead of working in the garden, I spent the gorgeous day indoors yesterday learning Japanese short rows at a Windy City Knitting Guild workshop. I’ve worked short rows before, but I was very pleased to learn this new techinque which makes much, much better results for me.

I’m still working on the Lift and Separate wrap sweater and the same pair of Tofutsies socks. I haven’t had a lot of knitting time lately, so my WIPs are going quite slowly. I’m in the finishing stage of the sweater but there’s just a lot of finishing involved for this sweater, including knitting and sewing on the edging, and knitting the side ties. K1P1 ribbing is just not a fast knit for me.

Typically I don’t showcase photos of yarn but I just can’t resist showing this off.

Recycled and handpainted cashmere yarnIt’s a “reclaimed” yarn from Allspunup on Etsy. She unraveled the yarn from a sweater, washed and set the yarn, plied it to make a slightly thicker yarn, and then handpainted it. This is a fingering weight yarn that I’m going to use to make a small shawl/scarf for myself. The price was very reasonable, and she was super fast in getting it to me: I ordered on a Friday and had it in my hands on Monday.

I think Etsy is my newest obsession…

TCB

That’s been my theme song for the past couple weeks: just takin’ care of business. This is typically the busiest time of year for me and “my people” — gardeners, that is. Spring is a time of high activity, although it hasn’t been that high for me this year. And that’s kind of driving me bonkers.

Typically, I’d be preparing the soil for my annual veggie beds this year. But, I still don’t have any annual veggie beds yet. So, I just have a bit of light weeding to do here and there.

No garden sales to attend this year, since I don’t need any new plants.

No place to spread out the compost, so my annual compost bin shuffling is postponed.

Pretty much the only thing to do is lay down soaker hoses in the newly configured front yard. I’m just not used to such a light spring gardening list.

There are still plenty of garden delights, though. It’s May and so many things are blooming right now. First and foremost: Lilac.

Lilac in bloomI have one of those old-fashioned, heavily perfumed lilacs. (It also gets powdery mildew at the end of every season, too, but there are always trade-offs.) The other day my next door neighbor and I stood chatting over the fence near the lilac, pausing every once in a while to inhale deeply and say “Ahhhhh…wonderful!”

Another fragrant spring lovely: Lily of the Valley.

Lily of the Valley in bloom These are short plants, though, so it’s hard to really get a noseful unless you hunker down next to them.

There are many other ornamentals in my garden that are in bloom this time of year. I’m just savoring them all.

As far as knitting goes, the only new thing on my needles are another pair of socks for my commuting/travel knitting. They are pretty basic, toe-up socks that incorporate one new thing learned while working on the first Rockin’ Sock Club socks. I’ve worked on toe-up sock construction before, and thought that I really didn’t like short row toes. After working on the Inside-Out socks, though, I’ve since learned that it’s stockinette short row toes I don’t like. No matter how I pick up the wraps, they always seem to leave a little hole. But when done in garter stitch, the short row toe looks just fine to me.

So these socks are constructed with a short-row garter stitch toe, but _not_ a short-row heel. I tried the short-row garter stitch heel on them, but ended up ripping it out. It just didn’t feel like it fit right to me: too much stress and pulling along the top of my foot. I really need the extra room of a gusset, so I reworked the heel with a gusset and heel flap. Now it fits much better.

Patterning is a the garter rib from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks. (I love that book, and am looking forward to getting the second one!) I’m using the Tofutsies yarn from Southwest Trading Company and am really liking the fabric. It feels very soft and drapy on the needles and on my foot. I guess drape isn’t something that’s usually considering a desirable property for sock fabric, but I can’t explain it any better than that.

I’ve certainly been tempted to start new projects, but I’m being really disciplined about finishing up what I’ve already started. So, I’m still working on the Lift and Separate wrap sweater. I’m stuck on the sleeves now. *yawn* Not very interesting, except that I’m looking forward to finishing a new, long-sleeved sweater in time for air-conditioning season. BRRRRR! Tomorrow I’m hauling in the giant, mohair pie wedge shawl for sure.

Springtime in Chicago

I don’t think there is a finer place to be in the world than sitting on my back porch on a sunny, pleasantly warm spring day. I’m not the only one with this opinion, either. My mother-in-law stopped by yesterday morning for a visit. We sat on the porch sipping tea, nibbling on fresh fruit, and just enjoying the experience. About every 20 minutes she would comment how she needed to get moving along, but that she was having trouble moving off our porch on such a lovely day.

Here’s a photo of my completed Inside-Out Socks taken on the porch this weekend.

STR Inside-Out SocksWe had the most fabulous weather this weekend and I took full advantage of it. There was actually little gardening for me to do beyond some minor weeding and pruning the roses. I’ll be executing Phase 2 of the landscaping plan this spring (hopefully within the next 2 weeks) so I will not be planting my annual veggies for some time. They’ll be going in an entirely new location, which means no soil prep right now, either.

This is the year I make a major change in my gardening. I hope. For the past 3 years, I’ve been using a small area in the yard directly behind the house for annual veggies. Now that I *seem* to have the side yard bindweed issues in hand (I won’t even pretend that they are solved, just “in hand”), I can move on with my master plan to devote that yard to edible gardening. I will get another load of mulch put down first, then have raised beds constructed on top of it all and filled with fresh soil. This way, I will not be disturbing the soil underneath all the weed liner and mulch that likely has bindweed seeds in it.

There’s lots of space in that side yard and lots of sun. I’m hoping to have permanent beds for asparagus and blueberries built, and to add a total of 5 more beds for annual veggie rotations. For this spring, if I get just 2 annual beds built I’m sure that will be enough.

I’m glad that there wasn’t a lot of yard work to do because I have been incredibly tired this weekend, too. I’m guessing and hoping that it is just allergies. Otherwise, I am clueless as to why I am getting stupidly tired (e.g. tired to the point of not being able to talk coherently) so easily every day. I crashed on Saturday at about 5:00 and napped until 7:30. On Sunday, I made it to 4:30 before laying down for 90 minutes. I’m seeing my doctor tomorrow for my annual check up, and this is one of my discussion points with her.

As for the short Sedona, Arizona vacation, it was…well…OK. We ran into some problems managing our time last Sunday. We were effectively kidnapped by Mark’s half-brother for a good chunk of the day and didn’t make it up to Sedona until early in the evening.

About this kidnapping comment: that’s what it felt like. When you tell someone — more than once — that you’ll be visiting for brunch, does that mean you’re spending the whole day with them? I don’t think so. Mark’s half-brother did. He asked us to park our rental car so he could take us for “a little tour”– what we thought meant a tour of his gated community — then zipped us away for a tour of Surprise, AZ’s strip malls and housing developments for retirees and non-retirees. Mark seemed paralyzed at speaking up, so after 90 minutes of “This is the Walgreen’s where we get our prescriptions, and that’s where they’re building an Appleby’s” it was up to me to set him straight. I explained that as much as we’d like to spend the day with him, we had thought that we were just meeting for brunch and had reservations in Sedona. We still didn’t escape until 3 PM and the traffic on I-17 delayed us further.

All I can say about these gated communities in the Phoenix area is this, “not for me!!!!” I guess this is typical for new communities: to be insulated by gates, golf courses, and strip malls from anything going on in the world. Every house looks nearly the same and every strip mall has the same chains of stores. It would drive me insane. If this is the typical experience of Americans these days, then I can see why we’ve become so ignorant of what’s going on globally.

I guess I should consider myself lucky, too, that Chicago retains some character from bygone days. We can visit a local restaurant that is not like any other restaurant. We can visit local shops that are not like any other shop. And so on. Individuality, what a concept!

So, we only had one day in Sedona. That one day was one of unseasonable weather: cold and wet. Not just rain wet, but icy rain wet. And when we went out for a hike, we got caught in it. By the time we walked back to our B&B (about 2 miles) we were soaked and freezing. That was the end of our hikining in Sedona.

I got several photos during that time, though.

Stormy weather in red rock country This is typical of the views. Red rocks, green trees, and stormy sky. There are more photos here on my Flickr account.

The next day was sunny and fairly warm, but we had to head out of town right after breakfast so we could make our return flight home. To sum it all up: Phoenix was blech and Sedona was pretty, but not fabulous. It still doesn’t beat northern New Mexico as the place that stirs my soul the most.

Just call me Bashful

Yesterday was filled with more knitterly goodness in my hometown of Chicago. Amy Singer was in town at Loopy Yarns, signing copies of her new book No Sheep for You, showing off the designs, and chatting with all the folks in the shop. If by any chance Amy runs across this entry and sees the photo I’m posting here, please accept my apologies Amy! I was so tickled by the whole experience last night that I turned all bashful and snapped only this one photo at the event. Amy R. Singer See, it was a cold day yesterday so I got to dress up in hand knits and I decided to wear my Mermaid since I adore it so much. When I got to the shop, as I stripped off my parka one of the ladies said to me “I know you! I mean, I recognize you from your blog. I love the Mermaid!” (or something along those lines) and I sort of imploded with excitement. On the outside, I took it pretty well, on the inside I was like “OMG, OMG, OMG!! Someone I don’t personally know read my blog! How cool!”

I got lots of ego stroking about the Mermaid during the event. People kept asking me about it and admiring it. I may as well have just kept repeating “Aw, shucks” over and over again. All that attention plus the fact that Amy Singer was so approachable and seemed to really enjoy talking with me made for a little personal melt down. I’m just not used to such attention and have no idea how to handle it except through deflection. So, deflect I did. When Amy asked if I had a blog I mumbled yes, but that it was just a silly little thing. She shared that she had started out with just a little online journal and was now doing what she loves as her career.

For the next hour or so I strolled around Loopy, fondling yarns, talking with friends and new acquaintenances, and every once in a while I’d stroll back to where Amy was sitting to exchange a few words. Before our little group left to grab a bite to eat, I went back to say goodbye but Amy was in the midst of conversation. So, we just struck off and made our way to the restaurant.

Those ladies at Loopy really know how to throw a party! This is the first time I’ve been down there for one of their events. For whatever reason I’m usually busy when they have a trunk show or something, so I’ve missed their hospitality. They had wine, soda, selzer water, and lots of yummy snacks. They also had a special of 20% off all non-wool yarns.

Of course I didn’t leave empty handed. Besides the signed book I picked up a skein of Art Yarns Regal Silk. There’s a sweet hat pattern in the No Sheep for You book that uses this silk in a lace pattern with Rowan Calmer providing an inner liner. I have a couple balls of Rowan Calmer in my oddball stash, and now I know what to do with at least one!

In general, my knitting has been so-so. I’ve been trying to finish the Rockin’ Sock Club socks, but keep running into problems. I’ve ripped back the cuff of sock #1 three times already. Attempt #1 resulted in some misplaced cables. I was ready to live with that, but when I tried the sock on for a final fitting before casting off, it wouldn’t fit over my heel. I thought it _may_ be because of the misplaced cables, so I ripped back to the first cable round and restarted. Attempt #2 had perfectly placed cables, but it still would not fit over my heel, so I ripped back again, this time to the second set of cables. At this point, I switched from the 2.5 mm needles I was using for the cuff to 3.0 mm needles. This seems to the do the trick, but it’s taken me about 2 weeks worth of commuter knitting (including 2 flights: prime knitting time!) to get to this point.

The Lift and Seperate wrap sweater (from the Big Girl Knits book) that I started the week before I left for NYC is still sitting on the needles and being neglected. I really want to plunge back into it, but this messing around with my socks has taken precedence. I like to have a sock on the needles to carry around and work on during the inevitable pauses in life (riding on public transit, waiting in airports, visiting relatives, etc.); I also like to be at the point where I can just work away and not have to do a lot of fiddling like short rowing the toes or heels. So I have to do those things at home during my evening knitting time.

Hey, it’s spring! The weather may be a bit goofy, but it is still spring. That means there will start to be more gardening stuff added to my posts. Despite our recent cold snap (it snowed yesterday! Eeeekk!), everything is budding and getting ready to leaf out. I really like these transitional seasons. I spent most of the day last Saturday cutting down the ornamental grasses and cleaning up the beds. Now we’re ready to really pop!