Saturday, March 31, 2007

What a night, what a night, what a really good night!!!!!

Bill was home around 4 pm, and after feeding the dogs and letting them have a quick run, we headed off, with directions in hand, and the gps, to the south side.
We had an idea that we knew the bookstore, and surprisingly for us, we were right. We had planned to have dinner first, but once I saw that several women, and one man (muggle boyfriend), were already sitting with purchased books I convinced Bill that I had to stay. I staked out two seats, third row back, on the isle, and Bill generously went to purchase my copy of

"The Book".

He came back with my "B" group card stuck inside. Even though it was 5:20 and she didn't speak until 7:00, all the "A"s were gone (about 20 in a group). One woman had been there since 2:30, another girl, Vicki, had driven down on her birthday from Buffalo, (about 3 hours drive), and had purchased hers online from Joseph-Beth when she first heard that Stephanie was coming to Pittsburgh. I put my "donation hat" on the seat next to me, to save Bill from having to stand, pulled out my on the needles Panda sock and began to knit. Bill decided that he would scout out the store, upstairs he found a Caribou Coffee, and the financial/business section. He came back with a berry smoothie for me, called the restaurant across the street, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, and made reservations for 8:30 (what a guy). He then opted to return upstairs and pursue the "financial" section of the book store. I did what ever other knitter does in a room full of knitters who are strangers (note, I did not say "strange knitters"), asked what was on the needles. There were alot of socks, a couple of sweaters, a shawl, and a beautiful hand painted pink feather and fan scarf from Renee who came all the way from Michigan. By about 6:30 Pittsburgh was pretty well represented, I gave Bill the camera and he ventured past the knitting frenzy to snap a few pictures for me.

As you can see we are all hard at it. Socks galore, being crafted on those needles by knitters of all ages and experience. Don't you just love knitters, we never judge, we only admire the work on the needles and encourage each and every knitter to continue on the wonderful journey.

At around 6:00 pm it became standing room only, as you can see from the back. Later I got talking to Jeffrey, who handles the events as Joseph-Beth and he confessed that even though they had expected a large turn out, unfortunately their stock of available seating was lacking.

Stephanie arrived, we cheered, we hooted, we applauded. She set up her camera to take the obligatory picture of.............the sock.

She changed position to get better lighting and snapped the little green gem. Her talk was wonderful, she spoke for about 45 minutes, and made each and every one of us part of the conversation, for that is what it was. A conversation about knitting for knitters, and a few muggles, who also got the joke. Bill sat beside me and laughed just as much as I did, he was wonderful, he listend to why I have to have my stash, and the value that it brings to my life. How it is more than just a hobby, but my life's passion and more importantly joyous pursuit. He didn't choke when Stephanie mentioned how knitters sometimes are not exactly honest with their significant other when it comes to the actual cost of that precious hand painted one of a kind sock yarn. He smiled, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
At the close, Stephanie, took questions from the assembled, I put my hand up and asked, "As a Canadian, I justed wanted to know, how does it feel to have surpassed Jim Carey and Howie Mandel as the most famous Canadian in the US".
She asked where in Canada was I from and I and answered, "Guelph".
"Oh yes, I know Guelph", she said.
The whole time, my right leg is shaking uncontrollably and I am thinking, "I am having a conversation with the Yarn Harlot".
She asked did I want to take the "Canadian Citizen Test", at the prospect of having to give up my passport I answered "ok".
She looked at me and said "Ready, here we go. When you eat your Smarties do you................................"
At this point I answered, "eat the red ones last".
And we both broke into the Smarties song. The Americans around us looked at us with questioning eyes, only a Canadian could understand.
We explained that Smarties in Canada are not the hard little multi-coloured fruity concotions they are in the States. That Smarties are soooooo much better than M&M's, in fact, they are larger, flatter and a true chocolate sensation, and with the added bonus that they will melt in your hand.
They called up group "A", then group "B". I waited inline about 25 minutes for the moment when she would sign my book.
She thanked me for coming, meanwhile she's the one who climbed on the plane, what a star. Others brought all four of her books to have them signed, I explained to Stephanie that although they are in my library, being Canadian I couldn't bring myself to impose, I just had to keep that understated and unassuming nature, eh.
(Note: this is the only time you see pictures of me on the blog, believe me, if Stephanie was not in the pictures, and I wanted to prove to myself that I had met her, they would not be posted).
To pass on good Canadian karma, I held her sock, and she held mine. I told her how much I loved the bohus, she said thanks and that not many had mentioned it - what they heck were they looking at.
Bill and I headed over the restaurant, literally just across the street, I had two Bellini's and blackened scallops, Bill enjoyed a couple of Coors Lights and Fish and Chips.
What an unforgettable night.
The book is great, so if you really want to represent
get out there and buy it.
Post Script: two boxes arrived today:
Pick Up Sticks: Zen Garden Cashmere and Handmaiden Sea Silk (thank you Connie for the sock blocker key chain)
Bill just looked at me and said, "More sock yarn." (gotta love that man)

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Yarn Harlot

Tonight at 7:00 pm The Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, will be on the south side of Pittsburgh at Joseph-Beth, signing copies of her new book Casts Off. I will be one of the many who are going to stand in line to show full appreciation to this amazing knitter. I know that Pittsburgh cannot compete with New York in the "representing" factor, but I am sure that we will give it a good try. As they are collecting hats for distribution, I thought I would show my contribution. It's knitted, using my own pattern, in Orchid Line by Harrisville out of New Hampshire, the yarn is a mixture of mohair, silk and fine wool, and it felts wonderfully. The colour is cope blue, but has a small soft blue fleck at intermitent intervals, that doesn't really show after felting. I needle felted the brim in an undyed roving, and included a fun butterfly hat pin.

Judging from the photo gallery out of New York, most hats are knitted toques, in fair isle, intarsia, or stripes, I am hoping that my felted bowler doesn't feel out of place.

My "representing", socks on needles - Seacoast Panda in Surf. I hope others as knitting in line, I know I will be. This is first time I have used this sock yarn and it's great (even if it is a little dry to knit with), it's a combination of wool and bamboo.

I hope to be able to post pictures tomorrow as I am taking my camera, and my husband, he's buying dinner.

I didn't knit the rabbit a lavender dress, I knitted him a purple sweater, it's a little big, especially around the neck. I didn't have lavender in the stash, but this left over purple made a nice little cable polar neck.

I will be tweaking both patterns until I come up with a size I like.

While I was finishing the sweater I watched a movie on TCM, "They Shall Have Music", all about a deliquent boy who finds his way through classical music, not a great film, expect that Jascha Heifetz plays himself and you have the thrill of seeing and hearing him play - breath taking.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Little Yellow Rabbit

Many years ago, when I was in high school, I knitted a sweet rabbit with a lavender dress. I have been hunting for the pattern and also asked my mum to be on the look out for it, as I would love to knit it again. Up to this point, no luck. A couple of weeks ago I decided to take the needles by the yarn (so to speak) and try to come up with a pattern of my own. I looked at toy patterns, knitted bear patterns, and a few knitted rabbits and came up with this pattern. I used Rowan Cash Soft Baby in soft lemon, as I thought it might be a nice baby gift to go with the organic bath set.

All the body pieces.

The embroidered face.

The finished rabbit.
(sorry it's fuzzy)
What I learned:
1. Knit smaller ears, and perhaps double stranded for more stability.
2. Sew legs onto body before the arms.
3. Pin head securely to body before stitching
4. Don't treat the body as if it were a teddy bear and pull arms and legs to tightly
5. Keep tweaking the pattern, until I am satisfied with size and shape.
I think I may also try knitting it in cotton, as I have some really nice natural organic cotton and it might be a little more durable for play.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Minnesota Weekend

Bill and I headed to Minneapolis on Friday to see Sandy receive her "White Coat". Sandy (my oldest step-daughter) is entering her last year at the University of Minnesota Veterinary School and to celebrate their final year of clinical study the students are presented with their white coat.

Sandy and Bill after the ceremony. This is strictly a ceremonial coat and not to be worn in the hospital, one of the female professors pointed out that if you bleach the coat it will turn pink courtesy of the maroon "M" on the breast pocket. Sandy knew that her mum, and Bill and I were attending but not that her older brother, neice and younger sister were also going to be there. She was totally thrilled to have them also attend this wonderful moment in her professional life. Sandy has choosen the field of small exotic animals as her major and is looking forward to setting up practice with her husband in the Seattle area in a year or two. She has applied for a grant to work with penguins in South Africa this summer, and will find out towards the end of April if she has been accepted. Last summer she worked with elephants in Kenya and had an unforgettable time.

A picture of our beautiful granddaughter Avery and her dad Rob. Avery turned fourteen in January and is now taller than I am. She is an avid horse woman, and she and her horse Nike will be jumping in competion again this summer along the east coast. Her grandfather and I promised to attend at least one of her shows.

Tomorrow I hope to have a knitting project to show, I have been working on trying to create an Easter rabbit toy, so far I have two legs, one ear, one arm and no body or head.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Baby cotton

I love knitting baby gifts in natural fibres that are easy for the mum to take care of. The new cottons on the market are really very nice, and don't seem to fuzz as much when you knit with them. I enjoy knitting blankets, and sweaters but the cost can be quite prohibative when you look at the yarn involved. This baby bath ensemble is very reasonable and took no time to knit. Two hand towels and wash cloths in Blue Sky Alpacas, Inc. cotton and a bunny wash cloth for baby in Checkheaton Fiddle de dee. The wash cloths are knitted in Blue Sky Organic Cotton, which is truly a lovely yarn, the feel is so different from the dyed cotton, softer to the touch and more dense. It would make a wonderful baby blanket for those cool summer nights. The pattern for the towels and wash cloths is from Jo Sharps Knit 2 and the bunny wash cloth came from the free patterns on Lion Brand (it's orginally a blanket and I tweaked it for the wash cloth). With some baby wash and shampoo this could become my new favorite baby gift.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday, know the rest

University of Minnesota Socks, ready to be blocked and wrapped for our trip to Minneapolis on Friday. Shelridge Soft Touch Sock Yarn in Marigold and Maroon (the maroon was specially dyed for my by Michelle at Sweet Sheep, as we couldn't find a red that would suit). I ran out to take their picture just as the freezing rain started, it has now turned into snow showers and at some point this afternoon if the temperatures cooperate will turn to rain. In my next life I think I will return as a tv weather prognosticator - the only job where you can consistantly be wrong and never get fired.

This beautiful hand painted merino 2 ply sock yarn was the work of the wonderful Canadian artist Virginia van Santen. Virginia was diagnosed in November with cancer and passed away on Saturday. I was fortunate to purchase this yarn from Pick Up Sticks, Connie chose to include the yarn in the December sock club. I enjoyed the yarn so much I bought two more skeins, the top skein is August Berries and the bottom is Fall Birches. I don't think anyone has the yarn in stock anymore as Virginia stopped producing it not longer after she found it she was ill. If you have a few moments please read her blog, from the pictures you can see that besides being a wonderful yarn artist she was also a beautiful knitter.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I'm in big trouble, while watching tv with dad last night I climbed up onto the back of the big leather couch and nibbled through. No one talked to me for ages as they were very MAD!!!!! I don't think I'll do that again, ............couch didn't taste very good anyway.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I'm 8 months old today

As you can see I am a big girl now. I have taught myself to do all sorts of new things.

Like jumping up on the couch........

And climbing up onto the computer desk while mummy is typing.............

And snuggling up with my big brother Banff...............

Mummy must love me very much because she has a new favorite saying, everytime she sees me she says,

"Islay, stop that"........

But I don't always listen.................

Maybe I will when I am 9 months old.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Socks, Socks Club and Book

Fleece Artist Pinata socks. I love Fleece Artist from Nova Scotia, not only because it's Canadian, but the actual feel and colour of the yarn is so appealing and all in all provides a very pleasant knitting experience. I mailed the socks today to a friend who, due to ill health, is begining a long a difficult journey.

The BMF Rockin Sock Club for 2007 arrived on Saturday. A wonderful three ring binder, button, sticker, pattern, key ring emergency sock yarn, and the actual yarn in a colourway strickly for this years club. The theme is the Ocean, this colourway is Monsoon. If you have never felt this yarn you really don't know what your missing - it's a dream.

One of my favorite pattern writers is Jo Sharp, I own several of her pattern books and I am never disappointed. She is clear, concise and what you knit is what you get, so to speak. I enjoy her yarn but will usually tranfer Queensland (which is a little cheaper) for it. This is the second book in her new series, I have been eyeing it on some of the online Australian sites but resisted the temptation as the shipping costs more than the pattern book. Last month it popped up in the new Patternworks Spring Catalogue and I had to add it to the others. In fact this week I think Book 3 appears in Australia, which will be fun to look at until it appears over here in the autumn. As we are on opposing seasons this is the Spring/Summer edition, Book 3 is Fall/Winter.

The book is full of cotton knits, including a great table runner, hand towel, face cloth, and bath bag as well as the usual wearable knits, including a pair of cotton socks. If you want to try an easy to read, well explained, simple design pattern then Jo's the girl for you.

Friday, March 9, 2007

What a beautiful day

The snow has melted, we hit 50 degrees today and the sun is shining, the first truly spring like day we have had. It's wonderful to slog around with dogs and watch them run through the mud and sludge in the back garden. To spend ages outside with the sun on your back and gaze up at a blue, cloudless sky filled with crissed crossed patterns of jet streams. I followed them around listening to BritKnit on the ipod (great pod cast), and also Lexi Knits It. Roll out winter and leave us spring we all need to breath such fresh air.

Three skeins of wonderful Shelridge Farms Sock Yarn one in gold and two in maroon. Michelle at Sweet Sheep dyed the maroon especially for me. They are the colours of the University of Minnesota. My oldest step-daughter, Sandy will be receiving her white coat from the veterinary school on the 25th, signifying her clinical year has begun. We are going out to watch the ceremony and I thought a pair of socks might be a fun surprise. First sock is cast on so I have made a start, I will have them finished by the end of next week and may mail them before we go. I will have pictures tomorrow of finished socks and also two books that I love. Before I finish if you are a felter and are looking for a fun Easter treat from someone little, head over to Betz's blog she has a wonderful tutorial on a chasmere bunny that is not to be missed. Betz is a marvel and has a book coming out in the fall, I own three of her felted pin cushions and they are to adorable for words, here's her shop.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

"Fresh" - Yarn and Snow

Club yarn from Sunshine Yarns, this is a sweet wonderfully fresh coloured yarn, and that's just what Dani called it "Fresh". Dani included a row counter and sweet peanut butter kisses. If you want to buy Dani's yarn she sells on Etsy - her last store update was last week, but there is a huge Spring Fling coming on the 13th, check her out - you won't be disappointed.
We woke up to a couple of inches of fresh light snow, the fluffy, fluttery kind. Everyone knew it was coming but it seemed to catch people off guard, so much so that school districts near and far cancelled school today. Our district was one of them, although all the roads around us were wet and salted - go figure - I am sure parents will be asking questions.
I will have more yarn tomorrow, and hopefully a pair of finished BMF socks, for a dear friend who I found out last week is very ill. I have some spring cotton on the needles (Blue Sky), working on wash cloths and hand towels for the little girl who does my hair - she's having her first baby in the summer, I think I might also include a hand knitted teddy or doggy in the gift.
As spring is just around the corner, I have been devoting time each day to accomplish some spring cleaning, on Monday I polished all the wooden furniture in the house, and gave everything, including ornaments a good dusting. Yesterday I scrubbed our shower, guest bath and kitchen floor. Today all the art work is being dusted, which if you knew our house is no small feat, for years Bill and I would collect one or two pieces of art from our various travels around the world. I have no artistic talent in that way so I collect what I myself cannot do. True story, while trying to sell a house we had people call and ask to come back for a look, seems they couldn't remember to much about the house as they were far to busy looking at the art on the walls.
Oh, postmans here, off to check if my BMFS Rockin Socks are in the box.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sock Clubs are Rolling In

Late in 2006 I joined several sock clubs, this seems to be the week that the post man has choosen to deliver them. Yesterday the first kit from the Tsarina arrived. The wonderfully ingenius "Cleopatra" pattern.

The yarn is from vanCalcar Acres Sheep, which is also putting together the Sock Club. The kit is so much fun, two wonderfully hand dyed skeins of their delicious wool, the pattern, a Sock Club tips book and fragrant lavender and herbs along with a muslin bag to make a sweet sachet.

There are beads that will be arriving in a few days to complete the anklet that goes around the sock.

I am still awaiting the BMF Rocking Sock club to arrive, I know that it is on it's way and that many have already received it, I am tempted to take a look at the many blogs that have already posted pictures but am resisting that urge as I really want to be surprised. The best part of the clubs arriving is that they have already been paid for, no bill enclosed.

Tomorrow I will have more yarn from special hand dyers and a couple of books that I am really glad I ordered.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Islay can jump

Having a puppy in your house is equal to having a toddler. Islay, who will be 8 months old this month, has within the last two days learned how to jump up onto the couch, loveseat and chair. This feat she now continues to do on and off all day, each time it is accomplished she looks as me with such doggy glee on her little face, "hey mum, look what I can do". This however is met with deep chagrin from the other four legged members of the family who felt themselves safe. Scotia has developed a rather keen evil eye when it comes to Islay and this new development has only served to intensify that steely stare.