Saturday, April 19, 2014

New Orleans Jazz and Jazzy Cables


French Quarter Architecture
My husband and I enjoyed a recent vacation to New Orleans.  There is so much to see and do there! We explored the city's unique history with an architectural tour of the French Quarter and a fascinating tour of one of the city's old cemeteries.  We took a riverboat cruise, visited the Aquarium and the National World War II Museum, and toured a nearby plantation.
St. Louis Cemetery




Oak Alley Plantation



But we both agreed that our favorite part was the multicultural ambiance and jazz heritage that we found everywhere.
Second Line on St. Anne Street
Street musicians in Jackson Square 




Battle of the Mardi Gras Indians in Congo Square
Of course, I never go on vacation without somehow making it a knitting vacation, so I
sought out a yarn shop and very easily found The Quarter Stitch, just off Jackson Square.
Outside The Quarter Stitch
And of course, I brought a knitting project with me.  I wanted to design a cowl using 3 Irish Girls Springvale Worsted, which I just started carrying in my online store.  I swatched several stitches from one of my stitch dictionaries, but I wasn't satisfied.  Finally, inspired by the jazz musicians that I saw on the streets, I decided to improvise.  I played with a basic rhythm of knits and purls, bending and twisting until I arrived at something new and original.
Jazzy Cables Cowl
The cable construction is a bit different - more of a twist than a true cable, it creates a totally reversible fabric, which was my goal at the outset.  I'm excited about the technique I devised; it opens up possibilities for endless variation. Sort of jazzy, don't you think?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Wire-ology






Wire-ology  (noun) Definition: 1. The study of knitting with wire  2. Knitting with wire as practiced at Yarnology in Winona, Minnesota.  

I had a great time at Yarnology on Saturday.  I taught 10 lovely ladies and 1 intrepid young man (age 14) to knit with wire. As is usual when I teach knitted bracelets, almost everyone walked away with a completed project.  Here are pics of some of the class members and their finished projects.  Aren't they lovely?

I love getting out and about to yarn shops with my Knitter's Journey Trunk Show.  It's so fun to see all the shops and see how each has their own personality.  I was very impressed by Yarnology.  I couldn't believe they've only been in business 3 years!  They have a large and lovely space, filled with yarn and inspiring projects.  The owners have succeeded in creating not just a shop, but a community.  While we were busy with our class in our spacious classroom space, the front of the shop was bustling with shoppers and drop in knitters who were shopping, chatting and doing what knitters do.  Kudos to Kelly and Gaby for creating such a great LYS. 





Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Out There with Sir Paul




My husband and I were Out There at the stadium last night with friends Karen and Dale and 43,996 other fans of Sir Paul.  It was a once in a lifetime experience that I might sum up as the best concert of my life with what were probably the worst seats. But mind you I am not complaining.  Far from it!  Our terrace level side view seats were just $39.50! We were up in the rafters, but we had binoculars and the jumbo screen to enhance the view, and we caught a light breeze that I'm sure they couldn't feel out in center field. 

What a show! McCartney sang hit after hit from the early days of the Beatles through the Wings years and up through today.  I was amazed that his voice held strong despite his age and the heat. He tackled a demanding repertoire from lullaby love songs to rocking and wailing.  He played 30 songs and then came back for 2 encores. 3 hours of nearly non-stop concert!  I knew all but 2 of the songs well enough to sing along, as did the rest of the crowd.  One of the 2 songs that I did not know was a touching tribute to John Lennon. He wrote it in the style of a conversation he wished he could have had with his friend, and tears tried to make their way out of the corners of my eyes as I listened to the words.

What was my favorite part? It's hard to say. Perhaps hearing certain songs, but there were so many--A Day in The Life (oobla dee, oobla dah), Back in the U.S.S.R, Hey Jude. Perhaps it was just being part of the singing crowd.  Of course, I have to say I also loved the drama and the fireworks of Live and Let Die.  That was quite dramatic! You can watch it on this clip taken by someone with much better seats:


I am so grateful to have had this experience.  Thank you Karen and Dale for scoring the tickets. Thank you Milwaukee, for having so many great concert venues that we can attract superstars like Paul McCartney, and most of all, thank you Sir Paul for the poetry, the rhythms, the songs and the sweet, sweet memories.





Friday, March 29, 2013

A Knitter's Journey to Provence


The view from Le Jardin Exotique in Eze
Springtime in St. Paul de Vence



I am back from a wonderful vacation to Provence and the Cote D'Azure.  This wasn't strictly a knitting trip. I was vacationing with Mon Cheri, and we had a full itinerary of sightseeing, wine tasting and good eating to do. But I am first and foremost une vrais tricoteuse and it is impossible for me to vacation without doing a little knitting and seeking out yarn shops.

Our hotel in Nice- Hotel de la Tour 
The first part of our trip was spent in Nice.  Our hotel was well located in the Old Town and was walking distance to many sights, including the park at the top of Castle Hill, the Flower Market, and the Promenade des Anglais.
The Flower Market in Nice


Locally made yarns at La Droguerie - Nice















Our hotel was also just a 5 minute walk from La Droguerie, a large yarn shop that is affiliated with La Droguerie in Paris.  Like the Paris store of the same name, the shop sells only its own line of yarns, but they are all wonderful natural fibers in vibrant colors. They also have an extensive collection of unique buttons and patterns of their own design.



This store is well worth the visit. It's centre-ville location at 29 Rue de L'Hotel des Postes is easy to find (2 very short blocks south of the main post office). The store is obviously popular with the locals. We arrived just 5 minutes after they opened and there were already 2 other customers in the store.

La Droguerie - Nice
Beads and buttons at La Droguerie
Lovely mohair - "plumette" at La Droguerie

















La Boite a Tricot - Avignon



For the second half of our trip, my husband and I stationed ourselves in Avignon, visiting the medieval sights in Avignon and the ancient Roman sights at nearby Nimes and the Pont du Gard.
With a new project already on my needles and a full itinerary of tourism, I wasn't planning on taking any time to seek out yarn shops or knitting groups while in Avignon, but this one just fell into my lap.  We spotted La Boite a Tricot (44 rue de Fourbisseurs) as we were strolling the streets of the old town, just a few blocks from our hotel. This store carries well-known commercial yarns--
Anny Blatt, Bergere de France, Bouton d'Or, Phildar and Katia.
While all these yarns are available in the U.S. or on the Internet, they are all very, very French and a purchase here would make an appropriate and memorable souvenir for any knitter.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Show and Share

Once again I had a great time at the Madison Knitting Guild's Knit In.  Thank you guild members! It was nice to see many familiar faces.  I love doing shows and having a chance to meet and chat with my customers.  And I must admit, it is the customer compliments that keep me going.

This last weekend, not one, not two, not three, but four customers stopped by to show me their recently finished projects or tell me how happy they were with the kits that they had purchased from me. Here is one of my happy customers modeling her Chips and Stones necklace.

My photo doesn't do it justice. I took this pic with my phone.  I'm not that great at focusing with my phone camera. Since I normally have a digital camera with me, I tend to forget that I can take pictures with my phone. That also explains my surprise to find I had year old pictures from Wisconsin Spin In that I had never downloaded.  This one was so cute, I had to share.

I do not remember the name of my furry friend, but he certainly is an eyeful (and an armful)!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Blue Heron Bliss


I'll admit it.  When it comes to yarn, I play favorites.  My hands down favorite yarn for the last few years has been Blue Heron's Rayon Metallic.  It is a lovely lightweight handpainted rayon, spun together with fine metallic thread.  Eye candy for any knitter, I can't resist it.  I designed 3 patterns for it so far, and I have at least 3 more pattern ideas in my head, ready to be put to the needles. Here is a sample of some of the beautiful colorways I will be taking with me to the Madison Knitter's Guild Knit In, March 8th and 9th and to Yarncon in Chicago, April 6th and 7th.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tornado Hats and A Whirlwind of Knitting

It's snowing outside.  The temperature is plummeting from unseasonably warm to uncommonly cold.  The wind is whipping up.  It is a good day to stay in and knit.  I think I will cast on for another Tornado Hat.  I've already knit 4 of these, but I don't mind making another, as they are so fun to knit.

My first tornado hat was made with an oddball skein of a discontinued yarn that I had in my stash.  I made it for the Mitten Tree Charity at my school. When I cast on,  I had no preconceived notion of the ultimate design. I thought I would make a simple beanie with a foldover brim suitable for a boy or girl.  However, the creative side of me just couldn't stand making a totally plain hat, so as I decreased for the crown, I decided I needed to add a bit of whimsy at the top, and the traveling stitch braid was born.

While I was pleased with that first hat, I gave it away as intended. (This photo was a quick snap before I tossed it into the donation bin).  I needed to start another hat as a prototype for the pattern that I had yet to write up, and I wanted to tweak the design a little bit. I changed the cuff from 2 by 2 ribbing to garter stitch and added traveling stitches to the body of the hat.  My second tornado hat was made with another oddball skein of yarn, this time from a yarn that is still available--Manos del Uruguay Classico.  Here it is:


By the time my second hat was finished, Christmas had come and gone.  Santa gave me a new coat, so of course, I needed a new hat to go with it. Here is the hat that I made to go with my new coat, made with Classic Shades:

Let me just say that not only did I enjoy making it, I love wearing it!  I have short, baby fine hair, and the braid hangs and feels like a ponytail.  Realizing that I enjoy wearing my tornado hat because it makes me feel like I have a real head of hair, I decided it would make a great chemo-cap for someone struggling with hair loss.  And so, I cast on for a fourth hat. Here is the hat that I made for a colleague at work who is currently battling breast cancer.  It is my favorite of all. I hope it makes her feel pretty!