Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


Oh, that's no fun! Feel better!

By Anonymous Cathy in Va., at 12:17 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Wednesday, October 31, 2007  

Ugh. Something was wrong with the split pea soup I served for dinner last night and both BD and I had the worst night. I'm still a little shaky but I have postponed my haircut 3 times already. I can't wait another day. And I have two more MustDo's on the morning list. But if I'm still feeling so off this afternoon – I am coming back home to sleep. Lawsee, I tossed all night.

WW was a major disappointments last night – an infinitesimal gain instead of the measurable loss I expected. Rats. But I know I ate properly last week – healthy amounts and plenty of water, fiber, exercise. Either the body was saying “EEEK! Fats&Sugars down! Starvation on the way – batten down the storage units.” or my lunch was just way too salty. It was good, mind, but my tongue did say “Wow! Salty” with that first bite of soup. A WW soup, mind, not something from a can.

Ah well. This is another week and I know from past experience that often the scales decide to move after Tuesday nights. My home scale was down both yesterday and this morning so I'm going to believe that They are wrong. :D


posted by Bess | 7:12 AM


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Tuesday, October 30, 2007  

Here's a picture of the shelf labels I'm planning on using.

I'm also giving serious thought to Monthly Goals – or Monthly Resolutions. I'm not doing too badly with the Important Things of Life, but there are still lots of things I forget to do and then regret not having done them. What sort of things? Oh – like knitting that pair of mohair and silk harem pants. :D Well, I don't regret not knitting them yet – but how about those Della Robbia Christmas Stockings I want. Right. Don't have them for this Christmas either. Bummer.

Also, I've been getting the urge, these past few weeks, to cross achievements off of lists. I'm inspired to stick with WW for the first time in forEVER. (read this article – it is so TheQueen!) I'm inspired by my tidy bookshelves. I'm excited about getting the guest side of LD's old bedroom set up for real guests instead of summer clothes that should be in the attic by now.

Mostly, though, it's that list crossing I'm yearning for. I want to see evidence of progress. So. A TTD List will show up in the sidebar on Thursday. I have some goals. Let's see if I can achieve them.

posted by Bess | 7:27 AM


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Monday, October 29, 2007  

I woke up this morning to the silver dawn that is a crisp October still imprisoned by daylight saving time and as I rolled over I imagined the day spread out like a carpet of pleasure. I was so glad it was a Sunday, so ready to indulge myself when I remembered .... it's Monday. Sigh. Ah well. At least it's a Monday with a Venus/Jupiter link – the planet of voracious desires meeting up with the planet of unceasing indulgence. Best keep a lid on the snacking – woops! I just indulged in a second cup of coffee with cream. Whew. Good thing I've been such a good WW gal this week.

The Great book migration is just about finished and look at the results!

I still have to get more file boxes to hold my many magazines. They'll go along the bottom shelf – there is room for 4 more of those 6” files. I think (hope hope hope) that will hold all the magazines – and I really ought to cull out the ones I don't like and move them on down the line.

As I brought the books down, I stopped by the computer and entered them into At least, I entered most of them – they have a 200 book limit on their free account and I still had about 10 more books when I hit it. I haven't decided if I want to pay for an account, though it's very cheap - $10 a year. I could cull my collection. Probably ought to. But I know I will buy more books. I 'll just have to think about it. I have those uncatalogued books in a specific spot – fortunately they were all in the same category – painting. I am also going to get some shelf labels so I can move swiftly to the spot I'm looking for, since so many of my books are tall and thin and have difficult to read spines.

I still found time to get a little fiber play in during this busy weekend. I knit a little on my Decadent Shawl. I may finish that up this week!! And I skeined and washed all the English Tweed yarn I'll be using for Flidas 2. It's a little scratchier than the original yarn. It's more tightly twisted, I am sure because it is made from shorter bits of wool, probably from a wool pool, though I can't swear the original didn't also come from a wool pool. (A wool pool is where fleece from different flocks are sold in a lump and carded together for manufacturing purposes – as opposed to Merino wool or Merino blend wool from particular flocks) It was a chilly blustery day yesterday and after I'd taken a walk with BD I checked out this smiling wool.

Doesn't it look like they're laughing at something?

I rubbed it against my cheek and throat and my chilled skin didn't mind the scratchiness at all. Proof that the colder your climate, the scratchier the wool you can tolerate. I'll give the yarn a fabric softener bath and see if it feels more skin friendly but no matter the results of that, I'll still be making Flidas 2 out of this yarn. It's not that scratchy.

Oh la! I have to go to work. Well. I'll be back tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 8:00 AM


Thank you, Queen B., for posting this -- it is truly appreciated! I love reading about people's processes for wheel selection. Even though I have not yet committed to purchasing one....

Sometime I'd love to read about your first experiences spinning on your first wheel, after it was all stained and assembled....

By Blogger Mary, at 9:22 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Sunday, October 28, 2007  

Today's post is for M, who is at SAFF this weekend and is then off for a Whole Week of Spinning at the John C. Campbell Folkart School and then off to enjoy the Christmas Decorations at the Biltmore next weekend. Talk about a lust of a vacation.

It is lifted from an old post I made on Knitters Review Forums, back in '02, when I bought my first spinning wheel. It was fun for me to remember how quiveringly on clouds I walked that summer. Sigh.


Even before I could get the drop spindle to turn without dropping it I believed I would want a spinning wheel and sometime in the past 10 days it became apparent I could not wait till Christmas or Birthday to get one. I’ve been reading articles on spinning wheels, watching videos, and talking to vendors and yesterday I bought my new Ashford Elizabeth from Barbara Gentry of Stony Mountain Fibers just outside Charlottesville, VA. (and yes, they do have that awful busy background on the homepage of their website, but it gets better on subsequent pages.)

What an experience! And what a surprise too. Nothing turned out as I expected, beyond actually buying a wheel. First, I have never yet accurately estimated how long it takes to get to C’ville and sure enough it took an hour longer than I wanted it to. Second, it rained! Third, I had done a lot of research and talked to several different vendors and had a $$ limit I was absolutely going to stick to. As a result, I had eliminated 2 brands based on my own esthetic taste and comments of others. But I had also promised myself to try them all. One wise vendor had said “ of them will speak to you.”

What I was seriously considering was the Kromski Mazurka because of its size and price and looks and because everyone who sold it had the same thing to say ... “It’s a lovely little wheel”. The two brands I had all but eliminated were Ashford, because one vendor said they popped their drive bands and the only wheel I’ve seen up close did just that, and the Louet, because I just can not like how they look. Well, guess which two wheels made it to the top of my list?

Time for a word here about Stony Mountain Fibers - it’s a grand place to visit. The drive there is so lovely and Barbara Gentry was welcoming and friendly. She has the look of a person who spends her life doing what makes her happy. In fact, I commented that she must have the happiest life, and she smiled and said she did. Her shop is a paradise. One of those “good vibes” places. Looms, wheels, yarns, dyes, fibers, slivers, tops, fleeces, tools, books - it’s the sort of place you could set up camp in. Besides, the building was light and airy and roomy. If Charlottesville, VA is anywhere within your meandering circle, do take a ramble on over there. You will have such sensory delight.

She had a fantastic selection of wheels, including some old wheels of unnamed origin. The only wheels I didn’t get to see were the Jensen, which was one on my list, and Lendrum. But she had Kromski, Majacraft, Ashford, Louet, Fricke, nearly all the brands in the under-$500 category - where I was shopping - as well as the Schact. She had every wheel set up ready for me to try, along with lots of lovely colored wool. She was there with advice, or to demonstrate, but didn’t crowd me. She chatted easily with DH while I made my selection.

I must say that the Mazurka really is a lovely little wheel, but I’m afraid it is too little for me. It sat on 3 legs and tilted forward when I treadled, although I could immediately make a passable yarn on it. Keep in mind, I’ve been spinning all of 10 weeks, and this was the first time ever on a spinning wheel, so passable for me is the highest level I can reach. Mazurka is very light and very pretty and even in its unfinished, never-used-before state, it performed for me. I have a very tiny friend who is also interested in a wheel and I am going to encourage her to take a look at Mazurka.

The larger Kromski wheel, Polonaise, was not nearly as easy for me to use. It, too, was unfinished, and had a lot of stiffness in it that I believe would smooth out with use. I might have bought it, under different circumstances. One person had warned me that the Polonaise had a lot of fiddly adjustments on it, but I didn’t find them either mystifying or daunting.

I have to confess that my heart yearned for a Saxony wheel and my practical side advised I get a castle style. There is a bit (bit? HA! how about mountain) of romantic fairy princess in me that responds to fancily turned wood, while the practical side whispered “get as many ratios as you can squeeze into the wheel you can afford”. Miss Practical was in the front as I began trying out wheels, and the Louets surprised me no end. They are so contemporary looking - almost industrial, to my eyes - but their action was as smooth as silk and right away I could create satisfactory yarn. The price was certainly right, too, and Miss P kept saying “listen to me - you can paint beautiful designs on that flat circle or that old handsome prince of yours could fancy it up a bit”. So right away, I took Louet off the banned list.

The next wheel I tried was a production level Majacraft wheel and it fought me like a high strung thoroughbred horse fights an unskilled rider. As I struggled with it I knew I could learn to master this wheel, (well, I believe I can master anything except a sailboat) but it would take some time. What I really thought was “this is the wheel for when I turn pro.” All of the Majacrafts were stained and oiled as opposed to the unfinished Kromskis. I tried 3 different styles of them, but they all had that same mettlesome feel.

Along one wall, available, but not put in the forefront, was an Ashford Elizabeth. This one was stained and finished. Miss Fairy Princess began to sigh and swoon and flirt at the sight of that pretty wood, the lovely finish, the princess-like turnings on legs and spokes and distaff. The moment I sat down it said “hello sugar, have some fun”. It just whispered and sang and tickled my fingers. Miss Practical’s eyes popped out of her head at the beautiful yarn that was spinning off of her fingers. It was exactly what I was dreaming of. Fiber flew out of my hands. The treadle caressed my foot, rather than my foot pumping the treadle. “Aren’t I pretty?” it asked me and I had to admit, she really was.

Barbara had moved out of sight but DH was sitting next to me and whispered “this is her wheel, and she says she doesn’t use anything else”. Something inside me went “click” and though I tried two more wheels, and even went back to the Polonaise, to give it a fair trial, since I had been awfully excited when I sat down to that one, but really, from the moment I sat down at the Ashford, there really was no other choice. Barbara came back and commented that this was her wheel, and that I was to keep in mind that it had been used a lot and was well broken in, but that only made me want one more.

Still, to continue with the review, I thought the Fricke was another very very fine wheel that performed for me right from the get-go. And it was also quite inexpensive. Not beautiful, with that man made wheel and no-nonsense look. I had a look at the Ashford traveler, too, but it was pretty pointless after my waltz with Elizabeth. Yes, I know, the Elizabeth has only 2 speeds, and yes I also know that I’ll have to “break mine in”, but after all, this does not have to be my only spinning wheel, ever, for the rest of my life. If I become more serious, if I ever want more wheel, then the two Miss P's can make other choices and other decisions. For a brand new beginner spinner, I believe I’m going to be happy with my choice.

So out came the checkbook. I would like to have bought one of the Gentry’s beautiful Cormo fleeces, but I don’t have carders and I felt I ought to get wheel spinning under my belt first. Also, I resisted (perhaps unwisely) buying any books or back issues of Spin-off magazine, although I am a sucker for magazines. One thing at a time, I told myself. Besides, I can always call and place an order for whatever I regret leaving behind. I did purchase some wonderful mohair/merino, hand dyed by Barbara, in a color called Jamaica It will make the prettiest scarf for my mother for Christmas. Or for any of my blue wearing friends. And a bag of “mystery wool”, in all the natural colors, to play with.

We left the shop and never even bothered to go into C’ville (where one can shop at Food of All Nations, a not to be lightly disregarded food extravaganza). Instead we headed straight to our favorite hardware store in Richmond, bought stains and tung oil, and headed home.

It’s a little hard to have to wait the few days it will take to get my new baby finished and assembled, but it was worth the difference in price to buy unfinished and unassembled. For the curious, I chose Minwax 235 cherry stain for my wheel and put 2 coats on it last night. I’ll give it a tung oil treatment today and if it is dry, DH and I will put it together tomorrow night.

What an adventure this has been. And what wonderful adventures I have to look forward to.

good knitting to you all

and good spinning

posted by Bess | 8:16 AM


A storytelling program for seniors - what a fantastic idea you have there!

I love the hat, absolutely love it. It looks great on you - I've always wished I could look good in hats, but for some reason they just don't work on me.

By Blogger Catherine, at 1:59 PM  

Love the hat, but then, you know I love hats of any kind. That one looks great on you. The first picture reminds me of Andi McDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral (her "great hat" at the first wedding).

The shawl is looking more gorgeous as it progresses. Saw lots of pretty fiber and yarn today in your colors.

One of my regrets for being out of town this weekend is missing the Celtic festival -- I had such fun at that last year (ogling the men in kilts, mostly!).

I love the idea of storytelling for seniors -- what a fantastic way to minister to them! I think my parents would adore hearing you tell stories, so feel free to use them as guinea pigs whenever you like! Come eat dinner with us sometime!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:46 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Saturday, October 27, 2007  

We have had beautiful rain now for 3 days. It's raining right now. It's all supposed to stop sometime today, but more than 3 inches have fallen this week and I, and the land, and the trees, and the farmers and the dogs ... we are all just so grateful.

I will be telling ghost stories tonight at a Halloween festival across the river. BD & BH are off to a wedding party without me. Both of us can expect clear skies and a bit of chill. Tomorrow is supposed to be autumnally bright and brisk and I am so ready for it.

I had easy driving all the way to Dad's place yesterday, in spite of the rain, and we finished up our business with sister and $Man in time to go out to lunch to celebrate his birthday eve. He was ready for a nap after lunch, though so I had time to slip into a department store and get some fancy expensive and worth every durn penny makeup, before heading over to Mom's. As I walked through the store, though, look what jumped on my head and asked to come home with me!

Very dramatic! They didn't even have a box big enough to hold it. It had to come home in a bag.

I did a dress rehearsal of the ghost story program at Mama's which was so helpful for me on many fronts. I could get a feel for how long the program takes, where I am weak in delivery, and a sense of what the flow of it is – that important element of timing that engages an audience or looses it. I also got a valuable insight into how to develop storytelling programs for seniors – for once I'd started telling stories, others remembered stories they would like to share. I made room for them “on stage”. I don't really have much of an ego issue with performer vs audience. The whole point is to get people engaged, thinking, expanding. What was powerful for me was the understanding that seniors sometimes begin to shut down, especially in a group home, where they are a little wary of really putting down roots, making new connections. They know they're moving to the finish line and I think, at least, from observing both my parents, they're not sure if caring about other people is worth the effort. And yet – when they don't care, don't share, don't really communicate who they are and what matters to them – they get depressed and withdrawn.

Okay – anyway – the upshot was I could see how to develop storytelling programs for seniors that would do more than entertain – they could actually engage. Something valuable to think about.

Today, though, before I head off to MBWM&L, I may clean the house or I may take a nap or I may enter books into or I may enter stash into Ravelry, or I may knit or I may do nothing at all. I probably ought to clean house since we may go to the Celtic Festival in Richmond tomorrow. Or we may not. What an iffy weekend!

Here's a progress shot, though, of my Decadent Shawl.

posted by Bess | 6:10 AM


Have fun in Rivah-city. I'm about to hop on a plane for points south. Here's hoping there are no weather (or other) delays. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 8:53 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Friday, October 26, 2007  

Oh la, Margaret, I am soooo envious of your snow. Can't you pack some up in a box and ship it to me?

Oh – and before I forget – I went to look at Yarn Harlot's blog and yes, I see. We are both talking about the same yarn...English Tweed. Went to the Webs page too just to see what was left. They didn't have that pretty dark orangey bronze at Stitches, though I would have settled for it if that had been all they offered. I'm glad they had the Byzantine gold instead. It's nice to be able to get such a close match to the original sweater. Of course, I made Flidas out of discontinued yarn in 2003, so I am still first. :D

And yes, also, I knew about the machine oil – well, you can't miss the smell! I hadn't thought to use my niddy noddy to make skeins and then wash the yarn, though. I had planned to wash the knitted swatch and do my measuring – but it'll be much nicer to knit with the oil free yarn.

I think Flidas 2 will be my next cast on – but I have to finish my Decadent Shawl and the Holiday Charmer socks (and finish writing the pattern) first. But before I cast on my retro project, I believe I'll pull everything out, every yarn, that is, and have a serious ponder about my stash. I may even enter it all in Ravelry. I have several projects that are calling me, making me wish I were Shiva and had 8 arms. Making me wish I were retired and had 8 hours a day to play with toys. Honestly, just thinking about the possibilities makes me get all quivery.

But before I can do anything like that – I have three big deals on my callendar. I'm off today to be of use to my parents and while I'm in the city I'm going to deliver my ghostly stories at Mama's residence for their October birthday party – this is at 3 o'clock. Tomorrow night I will be doing the same for the kiddies (with suitable scary story added) over in Lancaster County at the MBWM&L. (I'm on the events page, but lawsee, why do some people insist on changing my name to Bessie?!!?) And on Sunday I will begin to put these

in their new home.

(toys get different new home and not quite all the books are mine)

posted by Bess | 7:19 AM


Rain, eh? Here in the Great White North we've gone one better: snow! Yep, last night the wind howled and prowled around, and about 9 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time, the snowstorm hit! I watched from my cozy bed where Fred Cat and I were sharing a wonderful mystery, Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler.

Mind you, this morning the sky is clearing; the streets are merely wet (not icy, which is always a worry), and it'll likely melt completely by the sunset...


By Anonymous Margaret in Calgary, at 7:55 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Thursday, October 25, 2007  

We have rain! Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain.

The last time it rained around here was in early August. There has been no water in Jacob's Gut for a week now. When I walked into my yard, sand sifted into my shoes as if I were at the beach. We lost 2/3rds the corn crop. Barley hasn't even poked its wee tips above the ground yet. This has been baaaad and we aren't even in the worst hit part of the state.

But yesterday it rained. Hard. And last night it rained. More. And there are 2 more grey days in the weather dot com guys' callendar.

And there is a certain tension that has eased out of my shoulders – a bracing I'd been doing as my subconcious prepared for worse yet to come – downed trees, dried up wells, the sort of things that cause permanent damage – not just a year of belt tightening.

Let us all give up a prayer of thanks, because this is really something to be thankful for.

Something else I'm thankful for is this:

Paint is still tacky but I'll begin stocking those beautiful empty shelves on Saturday.

In other news of a heavenly nature, Ms.Horoscope says:

When flowing emotions are running at full power, magnetic attraction is at its peak.Strong flowing feelings magnetically attract changes in matter.

Flowing emotions attract a sympathetic reality out ofinfinite potentialities and this manifests in the physical world.

During the full moon, flowing emotions are at their most powerful,so manifesting changes on the physical plane is much easier at this time.

Somehow, this seems to deserve something more than a visit to the dentist – which is what I have on the agenda today. That, and doing something to fix errors I made in the library's Quickbook. That was last week and it was truly a Mercury in retrograde crash-up.

Oh dear. She continues in Virgo-specific language to say:

This cycle is also about cash, property and possessions. On the one hand, you do need to be extra careful in all financial transactions as there is extra chance for confusion. On the other, most positively, it's a very good time to rethink your finances and some will even see money they've been waiting for finally making its way into their bank account.

So, heads up, my virgo sisters ...

The key with Mercury retrograde is always to let the cycle unfold without making any major decisions, if you can. Mercury retrograde usually leads to more information being sent your way so it's best to way and see what transpires before you act. Use this time to contemplate what might be.

Hmmmm. A studio might be. Early retirement? Permanent weight loss? hmmm. many things might be. Hope all of them are good - for me. For you.

posted by Bess | 6:57 AM


That was fun, driving to the post office and back for you. I never knew that about bayberry candles.

I think I may have a very similar, if not the exact same model of sewing machine as you. At least the case appears to be identical.

By Blogger Mary, at 10:45 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007  

This is a short week for me – I am off this afternoon to a Richmond trip that will involve a yarn store and again on Friday to do family stuff. While there on Friday I'll perform my Halloween story program where Mama lives. This will be a freebee dress rehearsal for the paid performance I'll be doing on Saturday. There's a little less pressure on you when you're performing for free, but there's still that slight tension of having an audience before you. The most important thing, though, is for me to hear my own voice saying the words I want to say. I'll be leaving out the one shriek-value story that I'll be telling the children on Saturday and the craft project. I think that the craft project at the end might become my identifying tag, although, I certainly want my story telling to be the memorable part.

The ManWithTools comes back today to finish up those book shelves, so last night BD and I emptied the ones upstairs. MWT is using the boards that made up those shelves to make these shelves. The bed is supposed to go where those shelves stood. Sigh. It's all so wonderful – to start getting things squared away. And yes, Mary, I actually planned to load my library onto one of those programs. I don't think it's anal at all, just time consuming.

Actual knitting progress is taking place.

Only 8 more inches to go.

And here is an old before picture
and an after shot

More to follow. But isn't it neat the way MWT's do such clever things. Notice how he cut away the wood by the door, where the lightswitch is?

Oh! and Here is the drive home slideshow, just in case you were curious.

posted by Bess | 7:30 AM


Thanks, Bess. The ibuprofen hugs really helped. Loved the scenic tour. It's just what I always imagined it would look like. And I'm looking forward to my copy of That Book.

By Blogger Larry, at 9:08 AM  

Here's a suggestion for your library-at-home, that is, if you want to be this anal with your home library (perhaps that's just a busman's holiday for a librarian) -- as you re-shelve the books, enter them into or I saw another blogger do this as they moved into their new home -- after they pulled a book out of a box, but before they put it on a shelf, they entered it into the little online database. A handy way to remember what you have (sorta like Ravelry and one's yarn stash). Of course, it would be a slow, time-intensive process, and you may just want to move the darn books and be done with it!

By Blogger Mary, at 9:55 AM  

P.S. I enjoyed the trip to the post office! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 10:49 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Tuesday, October 23, 2007  

Glad y'all liked that little photo tour. And yes, Cathy-in-VA, that's the library's knitting collection – half of it, at least. There are 4 shelves – 16 feet, of top quality knitting books. I wonder why this library has such a great knitting collection. Could it be that the knitting teacher for the county parks&rec department works here? Maybe.

It was such fun to make that slide show that I've made some more, inspired by the autumn colors on my way to and from work. Saturday was a drop dead gorgeously beautiful day and I was already playing around with ThatBook and a camera. I couldn't resist doing a little Chamber of Commerce photography. Here's the link to the slide show version of a Trip to the Post Office – but you have to click back to the set in order to read the explanatory captions.

The other big activity in TheCastle is of a construction type – for a ManWithTools showed up yesterday and started building bookshelves for the den.

Woops. Camera batteries are dead. I'll post B&A tomorrow.

Our house is a discombobulated mess right now, in a knee bone connected to the thigh bone sort of way. For all that I'm complaining about the weather, it's a good thing it hasn't gotten really cold. My plastic tubs are stacked by the wood stove and we can't build a fire till we move them. But...

We can't move them till we have a space upstairs
We cant have a space upstairs till we move the bed out of the alcove
We can't move the bed out of the alcove till we move the books downstairs
We can't move the books downstairs till we have the bookshelves

You see?

But – those shelves will be done before the weekend is here. Saturday I will get to be a librarian at home!

On the knitting front – I'm almost halfway through the Decadent Shawl – 9 inches of wide knitting. 9 more to go and then the ruffles on each end.

Okay - off to start the crock pot beef stew. Ta.

posted by Bess | 7:09 AM



By Blogger Catherine, at 9:41 AM  

too much fun -- like I said though my book is now bugging me to get her nice shiny clothes like your book has - I will never hear the end of it :D

By Blogger rho, at 11:12 AM  

What a hoot! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 4:03 PM  

Cute! I wonder if my book will when she arrives! Oy!


By Anonymous Margaret, at 5:35 PM  

My, what expressive eyes she has! :) It also looks like the library has quite a nice knitting collection... or do librarians index their own books like that at home? Thanks for another good chuckle.

By Anonymous Cathy in Va., at 6:57 PM  

I know that's not a raincoat on that book!! Not here. Not in Virginia.!

I got a copy last Thursday & I'm LOVING it. Everyone should have one. Full of great info.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 6:57 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Sunday, October 21, 2007  

See Clara's Book take an outing


(My friend Suzanne would say "You have too much time on your hands.")

posted by Bess | 8:39 AM


Dear Bess, you've written a wonderful review! I'm here at Rhinebeck (what a wonder wireless is!) and in a few hours I will be able to give Ms. C. a big hug from you.

By Blogger Jane, at 7:24 AM  

I couldn't wait to get it at Barnes & Noble on Tuesday -- I just ordered it on Amazon! Thanks for the review!

By Blogger Mary, at 8:51 AM  

I already wanted this book, but your glowing review has made me want all the more. Thanks for the details.

By Blogger Nerdy Knitter, at 7:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Saturday, October 20, 2007  

The Knitters Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes

Well, my dears. I have had a day to peruse That Book and I am still in love. Not, mind you, that I've read it all, for I am taking my sweet time to savor every lovely page. But I have swiftly turned all those pages to gather in a sense of the whole and I know I am going to enjoy each one of them, when its turn for my full attention comes around. This is a book – one of the few, especially in the fiber category – that I will read thoroughly and repeatedly. This is a true addition to the literature and we are fortunate indeed, that Clara Parkes made the effort to give it to us.

That she had the talent, discipline and artistry to do so is no surprise. I've been a major fan of her Knitters Review column for nigh on to 6 years now. I won't claim to be one of the first fans, but I was an early subscriber – desperate as I was to find out about yarn - since I could only rarely get to a shop to see for myself. Searching the Internet for someone who would give me an unbiased opinion of - probably something as basic as Brown Sheep worsted weight yarn – I found her weekly review a tremendous boon. She introduced me to a yarn, told me it's properties, showed me a photograph, warned me of its tendencies to pill, stretch, flatten out. In short, while she was doing her field research, she shared with us all, the results of her experiments and we are all the better for it.

It's therefor, no surprise that she would want to gather all this deep understanding of what yarn is, and why, and put it into a single volume. After all, no point in leaving all that good knowledge just cluttering up the place. Put it in a book and you can put it on the shelf, when you have to take care of the non-fiber parts of your life!

So what will you find in The Knitters Book of Yarn?

Ahhh. First of all, be prepared for beautiful writing. I never read introductions in books. I'm not sure why I read the introduction to this book, actually, since I have talked to Clara often enough about TheBook. I know a little of who she is and why she wrote it. Perhaps it was because I wanted the pleasure of reading this book, for the first time, to last as long as possible. How glad I am that I did, though, for the lyrical prose instantly transported me to that soft lilting place I go to when I am stroking a beautiful skein of yarn, petting a springy merino fleece, fingering the drape of a silk lace shawl. Beautiful writing is a precious thing in and of itself. When it is about something I already love, oh my, it is a treasure.

The first section gives you an overview of the fibers you'll find in modern yarn, with a bit of history, a discussion of the fibers' characteristics and tendencies, and a wee bit about how they are brought into the manufacturing process. Each fiber is illustrated with a photo from one of the many patterns to be found later in the book. The natural fibers are given the most space, but even synthetics get due attention.

Next she discusses the processing stages: Shearing, plucking, carding, combing, spinning. Here you will find the micro-processors who give us small run lots, and the big guys who import those Italian luxury yarns. There is a wonderful discussion about woolen/worsted spun, a valuable essay on color,how it gets into the yarn and what it does when it's knit up, and a great piece about pills – why they form, how to avoid the worst of them and how to get rid of them once you've put your heart and time into that stranded color work in fingering weight yarn and now you look like a walking lint ball.

The biggest section in the book contains patterns knit up in different, and more especially, different ply yarns, to demonstrate an optimal use of each particular yarn: Single ply yarns, with their tendency to torque, knit into a ribbed fabric to pull it back into place; mohair knit into ruffles to take advantage of its drape; two-ply yarn pushing open the spaces in a lace stole. Most of the projects are small, many requiring only a single ball of yarn, giving the knitter the opportunity to get to know all types of yarn.

There is a rich trove of information in the back, guaranteed to advance any knitter down the road to fiber artist status. There is a “care and feeding” guide, a glossary, a thorough explanation of ball band icons, a suggested reading list, designers' biographies and a suppliers list. I'm tempted to say the book is worth the price for the back section alone, only, who would pass up that beautiful introductory essay, that fascinating description of fibers, those clever patterns?

When I look at knitting books, if I find half a dozen things I know I will return to, be they clothing designs, stitch patterns or beautiful photographs, I'll plunk down my hard earned cash. When I find a book so chock full of such treasures, I am profoundly glad I live in an era when books are fairly inexpensive and the UPS truck drives down my road daily. Priced at $30, TheBook is smack in the middle of the price range between glossy coffee table books and paper-backs. Its valuable contents will make it one you return to again and again while its beautiful presentation will make it a pleasure to do so, every time.

Knitters, crocheters, even spinners, you are really in for a treat. Thank you Missy Clara, thank you.


posted by Bess | 6:19 AM


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Friday, October 19, 2007  


You are in for such a treat. I'll write more tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 7:04 AM


OH what a heavenly color! What an awesome story!

By Blogger Alice, at 7:30 AM  

As I've read your posts this week, I've been thinking, "Wow, Bess really had her eyes wide open to take everything in." And now look what your wondering eyes found!

By Blogger Jane, at 7:51 AM  

Bess, dear, perchance is that loverly yarn 'English Tweed'? If so, you and the Yarn Harlot are in love with the same yarn -- albeit, doing very different things with it. She got hers at SOAR last week, I believe...Of course, you are both spinners, and yarn afficionadas, so-o-o-o...I'm not surprised!


By Anonymous Margaret in Calgary, at 10:51 AM  

Oh, Happy Day! (I can hear the gospel choir singing now...)! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:44 AM  

P.S. Your drawings are just a hoot! Love them! So glad you found old pictures of Flidas to post here, so we could see what it looked like.

By Blogger Mary, at 11:46 AM  

What a wonderful story. I begin to see why you would have been a popular storyteller at FFF. Have you ever thought of publishing a book of your stories and drawings -- for children or knitters? I'm glad you found your long-lost yarn and wish you joy of recreating your burnished gold sweater!

By Anonymous Cathy in Va., at 11:35 PM  

Like Margaret (in Calgary) said, the Yarn Harlot has a very similar yarn (from Webbs, I believe), and the big leasson she learned is that the yarn changes significantly once it's washed...the color changes slightly, and the yarn itself has a different texture. Just so you know. Her gauge changed, too...

By Blogger Nerdy Knitter, at 7:04 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007  

Final Stitches Posting

The Story of Flidas

In February of 2002 I cast on some golden tweedy yarn with flecks of turquoise, green, red, and blue

that I thought would knit up to look like byzantine gold if I used a heavy textured cable stitch. My favorite cable of all is the Hollow Oak Cable found, among other places, in Barbara Walker's first treasury of stitches. The Blue Book, I call it. It was my first creation, a simple sweater with that beautiful cable wrapping wrist and hem and neck and making a single line up the center. The idea was to knit the set in sleeves a la Elizabeth Zimmermann's very pithy instructions found in her Knitting Workshop.

Everything went well till I got to the very last bit where the cable, the neckline, the sleeve cap and the shoulders all had to get together and play nicely.

And there I crashed into the wall of technical ignorance. All that beautiful yarn and careful knitting got stuffed into a basket where it spent the next 12 months sulking and resentful.

'Ware the Wrath of an Unfinished Sweater, though, for after a year of neglect, that sweater decided to do battle for completion and it started by imprisoning my creativity.

No matter how I tried, I couldn't start anything till I figured out how to finish that sweater. I ducked it. I avoided it.

I thought about it. I wrote about it,

but finally I surrendered
and got down to some serious engineering. There were many struggles with those difficult shoulder shapings,
but eventually, I conquered that knitting math and ended up with exactly the sweater I'd dreamed of.
I named it Flidas (Flee Daws), the Irish woodland goddess, in honor of that Hollow Oak Cable.

There are scant photos of it and they're all dreadfully dark
or squinchily tiny.
I wore it with joy and pride for about 6 months when, one day, somewhere, in a state of mindlessness, I left it on some chair, or behind some counter, in some restaurant or bookstore or at some meeting. I looked, I backtracked, but I never found Flidas and can only hope that somewhere someone is wearing a really fine hand knit sweater with a golden cuff that looks like Byzantine jewelry.

I promised myself that one day, when I found just the right yarn, I would knit Flidas again and at Webbs, last weekend, at Stitches in Baltimore, I found it. I'd been through the booth a number of times already and was actually trying to match my lovely JoJoland yarn to whatever woolen browns they had left when I glanced up and saw this
sitting on a shelf. I couldn't believe my eyes!

Here it is sitting next to a ball of the original yarn!

The grist (amount of fiber) looks the same, though the new yarn is more tightly spun so it's a wee bit thinner. The gold is a little darker in the original yarn, which, btw, was already a discontinued yarn when I bought it! Indoors I can't really tell the difference, but outside you can see it. Maybe.

So here is a happy ending story about a triumph, a tragedy and hope for a new Flidas, sometime after Christmas.
Good knitting to you all.

Labels: ,

posted by Bess | 4:52 AM


Bess, as usual, your descriptions of the essence of the event are wonderful and help me to "be there". Can't wait to read tomorrow's installment to see what else you purchased.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:58 AM  

Oh! Speechless! Drooling over luscious yarn colours and textures that come right through the screen from your photos...



By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 9:20 AM  

My spies are everywhere! ;-)

Hey - why didn't you tell me there was a woman-tumor growing out of my head? ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:32 AM  

Budget? You had a budget for Stitches. For shame. At least your husband wasn't holding the cash.

By Blogger Alice, at 4:30 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Tuesday, October 16, 2007  

Stitches Day 2

Click on photos to make them bigger

I awoke on Saturday at my usual 5 a.m., but I stayed quiet till I heard B begin to stir, a little before 6. She's a country girl too. Breakfast began downstairs at 6:30 and we were down there before 7. So were a good dozen runners, in town for the Baltimore runners convention. You can tell runners by the lack of flesh around their shoulders and neck. The physical contrasts between knitters and runners were the stuff of comedians but we all fit into the hotel nicely. B&I ate heartily at breakfast, with the plan that we'd skip lunch. It worked pretty well too. I made it through the day on a diet Pepsi and a cup of coffee.

I thoroughly loved being in Fiona Ellis' class. I loved being around her and being inspired by her and I loved the way her eyes glowed as she invited us to fly with our minds and our yarns. Her class was so 100% exactly what I was yearning for it was as if it had been designed for me alone. What was fun was how differently we all followed the path from image to idea to object. Everyone in the class came up with something pretty or interesting, via different pathways – some folk colored out charts, some folk just winged it, some were a combination of experiment and engineering.

It was interesting to me that B had worried that I wouldn't like the class. It was listed as a beginner class – but I reminded her – it was a beginning designer class, not a class in beginner techniques. It didn't leave out technical growth. It was just focusing on the next step.

B&I, met at noon to wander again through the marketplace and talk about our classes. She as delighted with her class on closures – taught by Margaret Fischer - including inserting zippers and making buttons. Though she is a true fiber artist, she's done less knitting and this was a real confidence booster for her.

We had a few must see/must purchase from sites to visit. We both signed up for the Cashmere Afghan Square of the (Every Other) Month club at Hunt Valley Cashmere. I'd intended to do this already – I'd actually gotten the form via e-mail. ( I just hadn't gotten around to it. I'm so so glad they were at the marketplace because I would have ordered the medium weight and it would have been way too hot and heavy for my winters. B purchased one of Decadent Fibers fabulous shawl kits – they were flying out of the booth like birds – and she was wise enough to make her purchase early. I wasn't quite yet ready to put down my $ but eventually that $42 price got to me – that and the magnificent bonfire colors. Here it is on the swift – and here it is already on the needles.

B had also bought a clever shrug pattern that called for a double needle cast-on. The directions were in the pattern, but I couldn't follow them. Not because they weren't clear, but because, in spite of any surface calm, inside I was wild with excitement to be around so much fiber stimulation. Artists, yarn, tools, companions ... there was a constant hum going on inside me that made swift comprehension a little wobbly. I went back to the booth after 2 o'clock and the owner/designer taught me how to do it. It's a lace cast-on that remains stretchy and has some heft to it too.

Back at Not Just Plain Jane Knits I snapped up two patterns. I know somewhere I've seen this Painted Trillium sweater design before, but I didn't have time to ask if it had been featured in a magazine. Jane was wearing it on Saturday and it was drop dead gorgeous, but I'd already decided to buy it based on the plain Jane version - solid color, that is - hanging on the display. I'd thought about it all night and realized it was exactly the sweater I wanted to knit all those many different skeins of golden yarn into. It had the two things I really wanted, bias knitted stripes and a variety of textured stitches. All in all I picked up these books and patterns:

When B went to her afternoon class I went back to my room to empty out my bag. I wanted to travel lightly through the marketplace. I didn't have any idea of what I might want to buy other than one of Gita Maria's buttons. I even knew the button I wanted. Oh, I would have liked to purchase a shawl pin too, but since she had multiples of “my” button, I didn't feel I had to hustle after it. I did go get it, at the last. Here it is

and doesn't it make you think of an herbary in some midevil garden? Something out of the Unicorn Tapestries? Yeah. Me too.

But I did want something to knit into a Stitches Sweater and I was having the dickens of a time choosing. I saw so many beautiful yarns. I didn't see very many inexpensive ones, but I did see some at Webbs. I pawed over their selection several times and still couldn't make a decision. I had ruled out all sock yarn because I have way tons of it and I'm working so much with socks these days anyway. Maybe next year.

This is too bad, though, because if you buy sock yarns, you can sample several vendors without breaking the bank at any one place. At JoJoland International I saw several yarns that I really lusted for. All of them were fine merino. All of them had soft colorways with long runs. Like Noro, without its dark side. And beautiful lace scarf samples and luxurious sock samples. Exquisite yarn that I walked by again and again, stroking, wanting, yet holding to my No Sock Yarn decision.

Still undecided I just strolled about and at the Interweave Press booth I saw Eunney Jang sitting behind a desk and busily talking. Later she passed me in the Webbs booth (yes. I was there again!) and I stopped and introduced myself. I asked her how she pronounced her name and she said “it's pronounced Oooney” She's so tiny. And so young. And so nice. And I dropped the only name I dropped all weekend when I said “well, I'm a friend of Clara Parkes.”

Lawsee. You'd of thought I'd said “I'm a friend of Queen Elizabeth. We queens all run with the pack, you know.” I don't usually do that – make myself sound important by sticking a famous person to my sweater and puffing out my chest. But it's helpful for people to have a frame of reference. Besides, it's Southern to say who you're kin to when you introduce yourself and I'm sure that, in spite of her Maine footings, Miss C has a Southern Root somewhere. The only other groupie-esque thing I did the rest of the day was to stop Lily Chin in the middle of the aisle to tell her how much I still value the one class I took with her, several years ago; and to introduce her to my friend B. This was later in the day and she looked as tired as we were beginning to feel, but she's a pro. She was gracious. And besides, even famous important people like to be told they are memorable and had done a great job.

I hadn't thought anybody would pay attention to what anybody else was doing in that crowd, but evidently there were wittinesses to my goofiness. eh. There. Like Popeye, I yam who I yam.

The other Important Person I ran into was dear M, who is in the postcard from Stitches picture with me. I was getting a very thorough demonstration of the Garment Designer and Stitch Painter software – and wishing I had a spare $360 to just snap them up – because they look like the world's best computer games – when I heard a voice at the same time that voice's ears heard mine. It was such a treat for us to bump into each other. We went off to Starbucks and had coffee and pulled out treasures. Here she is again, across the table.

Doesn't she look cute with her new straight haircut? And bangs!?

As for purchases, though, well – after the umpteenth time strolling back to that JoJoland Booth, it struck me that this was the yarn that was calling me to take it home. It's so ordinary in the ball, even more so in a plastic bag.

But I saw what it did as a fabric. I saw it hanging on the wall, in all it's fluid brownness, as a mitered square coat with solid chocolate brown sleeves. I bet you don't even see any brown in this yarn, but it's going to brown up for you sometime next year – sometime when I am knitting it with the Valley Yarns superwash 100% merino yarn in colorway #920 that I will have ordered from Webbs – because they had only one ball left. Because I bought that bag of Jojoland Rhythm in it's coordinating colorways and took it back with me to Webbs to find a match.

You betcha. I'm gonna have me a Stitches Sweater, I am.

It was while I was at the Webbs booth for the last time that I made my momentous discovery. It is so big – such a big deal to me, that is – that it deserves its own story, which I promise to tell tomorrow. It was my final fiber purchase – and I am still sort of shocked and amazed about it. But, as I said, it is too big a deal to talk more about today. You'll just have to come back tomorrow.

Sometime in the late afternoon, but before 5 o'clock, B showed up and we poked about a bit more. It really was at that point that I actually bought my shawl yarn. I'd already gone over budget, but I'm still glad I brought one of those shawl kits home. I am very much in the mood to be knitting with bigger needles for a while.

As we wandered about, but after the LC gushing session, we suddenly realized that we were done. We had had Enough. We were Perfectly Happy, Perfectly Taught, Perfectly Satisfied, and Perfectly Shopped Out. One more minute would be one minute too much. In perfect accord we left the marketplace, walked back to our room, dropped everything but wallets and cameras on the bed and went for a stroll about town. It was a golden sunshine afternoon, all clear skies and fresh air. We wandered down to the Inner Harbor and watched people for an hour. Here were more tall buildings,

people whose faces I do not know,

ancient ships

and modern art.
And here my camera's batteries died.

In the early evening dusk we walked back to another dinner at the hotel and an evening with Borat. B hadn't seen the movie. Her reaction was pretty much the same as mine. I'm still undecided about that movie – in the main it's hilarious, but it's also gross and horrible and does the southern joke a little too often. And yet it can still make me howl with laughter.

In the morning we knew we were done. A leisurely breakfast, unhurried packing, an easy drive out of town and we were on our way home. We diddled a little at a Borders bookstore in St. Charles, but I was home by 1 o'clock and photographing my haul out on the front lawn.

What a weekend. Stitches really was everything I hoped it would be. I'm so glad I went. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about it.

posted by Bess | 6:56 AM


Dear Bess,

Like you, I packed up a friend and visited Stitches for the first time this year. We went only for a day trip to the Market floor, but that was amazing enough! We took a couple of Market Sessions (good fun, and a break from shopping) but no serious classes. Next year!
That KR post, by the way, was actually what led me to your blog. Thanks for making me so welcome; I feel as if I've been invited into your living room and offered a nice cup of tea. :)

By Anonymous Cathy in Va., at 11:21 PM  

Ohhhh, Bess! 'Stitches' is now on my Wish List...but I'd have to make it 'Stitches West' to even remotely afford it. I'd know no one, being a solo Canuck...but oh! If the atmosphere's the same... Perhaps in a few years!!!

Looking forward to Installment 2!


By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 1:09 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Monday, October 15, 2007  

First Stitches, First Day

Looooooooong post - another one tomorrow

I first heard about Stitches in about 2001 and oh how I wanted to go. Back then there were only 2 yarn shops within 100 miles of me and I knew only one other knitter plus the 7 people I was teaching to knit. In the past 7 years I've seen the LYS situation grow to 8 LYS in that radius and maybe more – who knows? I've discovered on-line shopping, learned to spin, won prizes at FFF, been to MS&W 6 times, KRRetreat since it began and a smattering of other fiber related classes and events. Life is vastly different, but I still hadn't been to Stitches.
But not any more.

I've been. I've seen. I've conquered – any doubts that it is one ton of fun or that there wasn't really room for additions to the stash.

When I knew November at home was going to stake a claim on me, that I wouldn't be able to attend the KRRetreat, I decided I'd go to Stitches and asked my friend B to go along with me. B is a magnificent quilter. Artist quality. She doesn't just do the big Hampton show, she goes to Houston for the Real Big quilt shows, so she's big time show savvy and reined me in from registering for EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN. I already knew that my brain would hold only so much new skill/knowledge and had already decided to register for only 6 hours of classes and nothing else. Lawsee there were a lot of classes I wanted to take, but my first pick was Dive into Design, taught by Fiona Ellis. Registration had been open quite a while, but we weren't so late I didn't get into my first choice.

So, Friday, B picked me up at my house. Here she is cleaning FFF red clay dust off her windshield on the inside!

And we tooled on up the highway
to Baltimore.

“Don't you have a map?”

“No. I figured I'd just follow the signs.”

Well, there you have it. Every family travels differently. I always take a map. Mrs.SurveyorCartographerWifeQueen.

We stayed at the Days Inn a block from the convention center. I always have to watch it when I visit big cities, even Richmond, my home town, can bring out the rube in me. It's really hard for me to not walk around staring up in the air, with my mouth open, gawping at all those big tall buildings. This was the view outside my window. Ordinary cityscape for many, BigTallSkyScrapersWowEE to me.

That's the Bromo Seltzer clock. It's lit up blue at night and was reflected in this building into my window – which I kept unshaded all night. Once in this crystal clear weekend, I saw 2 stars. Poor city folk.

We arrived in plenty of time for lunch at our hotel, where the most delicious green beans ever cooked were served in the lunch buffet. I wish we'd gotten in 15 minutes earlier because I could have made my whole meal out of them. But there – this was not a gastronomic weekend, it was a knitting weekend and I had a class at 1:30. B's classes were all on Saturday, but mine was 6 hours of creativity, spread over two days. We had enough time for me to poke around the market a bit – sans camera, since I was told we weren't allowed to take photographs.

At the entrance to the market, B just stood, slightly quivering with overwhelm. The convention center is mighty big. There were booths and booths and booths of spending opportunity and as I stood there, picking up on B's sense of being kiboshed I realized that I wasn't going to even try to hook up with anybody. I'd hoped maybe to call A and have dinner with her one night, or to meet up with M or really anyone else I already know in the Baltimore/DC/NoVA area, but I suddenly realized that taking in the whole stitches experience; classes, shopping, big city, new surroundings – was going to be all I could handle. I apologize to my dear ones I might have had fun with. We will just have to gather again another time.

The market didn't begin to take up all the space in the show room and the lobbies around the classes on the second floor were vast and never really crowded. Even inside the market, at the height of the shopping activity, it was not too bad. I've survived MS&W. I know crowds. Somebody bumping into you with her large round bag full of yarn is not a crowd. Waiting in line for 6 people to make their purchases is just a snap. I have stood in line at Little Barn! This was just a gentle crowd with a lot of stimulation. Not sardine packaging.

The first thing we did was drop our names in the door prize barrel. B is unusually lucky with door prizes. I've seen her at a weekly meeting where there was a weekly drawing and she would win 1 week out of 3. Sure enough, she put in 3 little slips and won 2 prizes – one of them, Socks that Rock sock yarn from Blue Moon!!!!! lucky lucky woman. We agreed to meet at 5 at the door to the market and I strode off to my class.

Interestingly, back in mid September I wrote a short essay on Knitters Review Forums about why I don't finish projects that concluded with the postulation that I suffered from a certain lack of technical and design skill which I ought to conquer with swatch knitting. Interesting how things work out, for our class was all about stimulating our creativity with something and swatching out ideas. Not making sweaters, not designing garments, but swatches – in and of themselves, swatches to fiddle with ideas, swatches to come to knowledge and expertise. Swatches as the avenue through which creativity and beauty, pleasure and knowledge could be born and grown, could lead and mislead, always teaching us things regardless if we had set out to learn them or not.

The classroom was large and bare. Our teacher wore plain black. She had none of her samples and swatches and designs laid out – no color in the room beyond what each of us wore, and the stack of photographs on the table. We each chose one, were given some strips of white paper to limit the canvas, give emphasis to different sections of the overall design and told to knit what we saw.

The absolute neutrality with which Ms. Ellis approached each student's creation was wonderful to witness. I often found myself wandering over to listen to what she was saying to another student. She'd ask you what you were trying to convey. She'd wait for you to ask for instruction in how to actually do something, once in a while she demonstrated a technique. But she offered no comments beyond such encouragement as “Yes. I see where you are going with this.” There were 10 of us and 3 folk chose one picture and 2 chose another. When we got back together on Saturday we had a little more time to wrap needles with thread, then Ms. Ellis asked each of us to explain what we chose and what we did with it ... and what we learned.

Here's my picture.
Here are the yarns I had to swatch with.
Here is what I came up with.
Here's what I learned!!

I didn't learn this all at once, of course. I thought about it and ripped and tried again and thought I really ought to be crocheting my swatch, not knitting it. But when I came away with what I think would be a beautiful front of waist shaping I felt triumphant.

And I also came away with the understanding that if I want to be able to make my knitting go where I want it to go – I really need to practice. I need to treat swatching like I treated scales and etudes when I studied music. I need to pick up a book or a photograph or go someplace new each week and knit myself a swatch of it. Ms. Ellis told us that what we did in class last weekend was what she did every week for a year, her first year in design school. Practice. And that's just what I plan to do. I am hereby registering for a weekly session with Creativity. I think Friday mornings would be a good time for getting my assignment and the task will be to spend 3 hours each week, swatching something based on a given inspiration. It might be a photograph, it might be an actual stitch pattern I want to learn, it might be something I'm remembering. It will be interesting to see where I am one year from now!

But on Friday, at 5:00 (after a lovely complimentary coffee break from Starbucks) I met up with B again outside the market. She had only a small bag with what looked like a broom handle sticking out of it.

“You've got to see these lint rollers!”
“Mmmm hmmm. Nice.”
“No. Really.”
I did buy one, btw. She was right, they really do pick up lint. Sticky plastic. You wash them off and they get sticky all over again)
“I've won a door prize!”
“I always said you're one of the lucky ones.”
There was an hour to look around the market. I wasn't buying anything yet. Still trying to stick to the budget but also just wanting to have a look see. I knew that I'd miss so much the first time through, and of course, I did. I picked out the booths I had to come back to. Not Just Plain Jane Knits, Gita Maria, Hunt Valley Cashmere, Decadent Fibers. There were others, but in an hour you can't absorb everything and it never occurred to me to mark down come-back places on the program. Well. Not much beyond the buzz of excitement really registered, except those shawl kits from decadent Fibers really were a bargain and NJPJK patterns – well. Well. Well they just sucked my knitter's soul out of my body.

But I knew I had all afternoon on Saturday to wander the aisles by myself, muttering, thinking, fondling, deciding. Except for a single pattern picked up at Just Our Yarn, I left the market empty handed.
We'd enjoyed our lunch at the hotel and the crowd at the micro brewery pub restaurant places across from the convention center looked daunting, so we opted for dinner in-house. It was fine. It was also cheap. There was no wait. Afterwards, we wandered out into the night on a chocolate quest – for I know myself that I need that chocolate period at the end of the day to make me feel like I”m done with eating. There was a Baskin Robbins up a block and over one. The night was pleasant. It wasn't really too late. The postprandial stroll was the perfect ending to our happy happy First Day at Stitches.
We were back in our room by 9 and asleep by 10, with a wake-up call ordered for 6:30.

posted by Bess | 6:51 AM


What a lovely pair of ladies!

By Blogger Mary, at 11:10 PM  

I took a class with Fiona Ellis on color and Fair Isle and I loved it. What a talented woman! I can't wait to put into action some of the things I learned. It might be worthwhile to order one of those sampler things of yarn from KnitPicks so I can swatch away with out breaking the bank.
My other class was with Melissa Leapman (Fully Fashioned and Fabulous) and that was a great class, too.
I have been challenged, and the way to make those not inexpensive classes at Stitches worth what you paid for them is to use that info. I am going to do my best.
I am anxious to hear about your shopping day.

By Blogger Linda, at 5:02 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Sunday, October 14, 2007  

I made it!

posted by Bess | 1:52 PM