Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I WILL Remember to Bring this Bag to the Grocery Store!

I do try to be conscientious about protecting the environment, which means, among other things: 1. Remembering to bring reusable market bags to the grocery store; 2. not forgetting them in the car; and 3. Not forgetting to put them back in the car for next time. Well, I fall short on more occasions than I like. I'm thinking that if I knit my market bags out of this scrumptious orange linen (Euroflax Sport) that I may become a better citizen! So, I found this free pattern on Ravelry, the Ilene Bag, and saw that 612 folks have knitted it with rave reviews. We just got a new shipment in of Euroflax Sport which I was itching to get into...and this turns out to be the perfect one-skein project. I am knitting a 1" white stripe close to the top of this bag, and know it's going to be FUN and that I'm going to want to use it as often as I can. Hmmm. Since I need a shop sample, I'll be knitting more than one of these in different color combinations! Do check out Euroflax's color palette. YUM!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thoughts About Lace

As a life-long knitter, this is my beloved landscape with all it's peaks and valleys. This yarn is Pagewood Farms' Chugiak in Maple. And this is a picture of my second Bitterroot which I just finished blocking. And, yes, I know that that beach towel backdrop is hideous! So try to ignore that as I share some of my thoughts on lace knitting with you.

First, I discovered that I had dropped a stitch while casting off last night and that there was a 1" hole along the edge of my piece which I was not about to rip out! (The lesson there is, don't cast off 1000+ stitches in poor light, watching sitcoms post-martini.) My moan upon discovering it sent David running into the living where I sat looking in disbelief at this hideous hole. Well, he said, can't you just attach one cell to another? Hmm, I liked the words he used and I told him. He said, it looks like a honeycomb and that's what the holes are called...cells.

Then he sat down on the sofa sipping his coffee, petting Scout at his side, watching me perform the delicate surgery. And I told him, that I realize it takes a great deal of expertise to accomplish such a feat. And he said, well, that's why you always see old ladies doing lace. Offended, I said - Oh, I hate when people call knitters old ladies. Defending himself, he said - but isn't that true? In the "olden days" you only saw old women doing lace work. All huffy, I said - well they had to be young once. True, but they probably didn't have the time to devote to lace until they were older. Whatever!

Well, I realize there's truth in what he had to say. Knitting lace requires expertise that is only acquired with time. It takes some serious concentration which is not compatible with the multitasking it takes when raising children. You also have to be stationary when knitting lace. You can't just stand in line at the bank knitting lace, like you would a sock! And being more stationary is also compatible with age. And, then I thought, well I am a grandmother. Why should that comment offend me? I'm grateful to have the knowledge and experience I do, and grateful to be a grandmother. And to prove my status as a crone, look at that mending job!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Loving Liesl

Oh my. I love this piece!

Liesl is made from a linen/paper blend by Habu! It was a crunchy knit because of the paper and I debated whether to wash the garment before blocking. What the heck, I thought, I can always knit another one! So I machine washed it on delicate with a few white towels. It softened substantially, with no shrinkage.

The drape is lovely.

And the design details are simple but elegant. The way in which the pocket is knit is brilliant as are the finishing techniques.

The Liesl photographed in Coco Knit's pattern is knit in Louet's Euroflax. Eight of their best-selling colors are on their way from Canada. I'm planning on offering a class in April to review the techniques used in this pattern, so stay tuned for our April calendar.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Teal Blue Knit Kits Have Arrived

This picture isn't true to color. The 2010 Knit Kits are a prettier teal blue. Changes warranting a slight price increase are a longer crochet hook and a darning needle. With the darning needle, the knit kit now contains 7 knitting accessories. The only word to sum up these kits is "indispensable"! If you want us to hold one for you, just call the Grove at 619-284-7684. They're going fast!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sunset Magazine Shoots The Grove for June Issue!

If all goes as planned, the Grove will be in the June issue of Sunset Magazine. This is Dave, the free-lance photo-grapher from L.A. who did the shoot yesterday. He also visited Clarity and Daily Scoop. We're all pretty excited about the free publicity!

Later in the afternoon, a reporter from the Reader dropped by saying he was writing an article on South Park and wanted an interview. GEEZE, how wonderful to be getting all this positive attention?!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

How to Knit a Love Song

After my Monday morning walk along the waterfront with judipatuti and breakfast at the Mission on J Street, I came home and finished reading How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron. The operative word here is "finished"! I bring home at least 3-4 books a week from the Grove. Since I have access to lots of new books...I feel no obligation to finish any one of them unless I really want to. So the fact that I finished Love Song is a recommendation in itself.

It's a fantasy book about Abigail, a young woman who is bequeathed a cottage by her recently deceased elderly friend Eliza. Eliza is famous in the knit world and has left Abigail a treasure trove of fleece, yarns, and the contents of a yarn store in unmarked boxes scattered throughout the all but abandoned cottage. Very cool fantasy, no? The rest of Eliza's sheep ranch, including the big house, is left to Eliza's cowboy nephew, Cade, a Clint-Eastwood-in-his Rawhide-days kind of guy. Single. Available....well, sort of. And there are fires and falls, and stalkers and crashes and enough drama to keep the story moving along at a fast clip. In between the drama are some very sexy scenes in the girl-gets-boy/boy-gets-girl plot of the book. Overall, a good light read for the fiber-minded. And there is a pattern at the back of the book for the Guernsey sweater worn by Cade.

We've got two copies on hand at the Grove for purchase, so next time you're in the shop, check Love Song out!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

All I Need Is a Good 12 Hours...

I spent nearly all of my 20's in Boston, working at the New England Conservatory and eventually enrolling and graduating from Suffolk University School of Law. Walking side by side with me was my best friend, Lorraine. I met Lorraine at the Conservatory when she auditioned and was accepted for the voice department. Not a day went by that we didn't see each other or at least talk on the phone. We used to say that Life didn't actually happen unless we told each other about it. We'd drive up to Maine at a moment's notice for lobster and a walk on the Marginal Way in Ogunquit. We tooled around New England celebrating the Fall by picking apples and making pies. We sat on the Charles during the summer and listened to outdoor concerts in the Half Shell. We loved Boston to it's fullest.

Lorraine has been an opera singer for over 25 years. She's literally travelled the world and has lived in New York City, Augsburg and Rostock, Germany and most recently Knoxville, where she teaches music at the University of Tennessee. She met her husband and I met mine around the same time...1994. She sang at my wedding, bringing everyone to tears. And though there are many miles between us, we have remained best friends all these years. I can't say what makes a best friend. I just know she's mine.

She came to visit me this past weekend for three days and two nights. I hadn't seen her in 7 years. She arrived wearing this incredibly dated Prism triangular shawl I made her in 1980-something with hot pinks, purples, reds & plenty of eyelash. Ugh!!! I was screaming when I saw it. I traded her for a beaded Egyptian cotton scarf, and threw that raggedy old shawl in the trash can! I hardly slept before she got here and I hardly slept when she was here. I could not contain my excitement.

I finally crashed last night, going to bed at 8:00 and waking up at 8 this morning. Ah, back on the planet. All I needed to recover was a good 12-hour schnooze. I'm left with daffodils everywhere and a CD of Lorraine singing Mahler which I wish I could share with all of you!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Veiled At Long Last

These are the lovely panels judipatuti and I sewed for my dining room windows on Friday. It's been 2 1/2 years now that David and I have lived in this tiny, albeit cute, historic home in Burlingame without satisfactory window coverings. I wanted privacy. And I wanted light. I got both, when we came up with this panel design. Since the house is on a slight hill, I only needed 3/4 of the window covered. David installed a white curtain rod on the exact same visual line as one of the window pane frames, making the rod as invisible as possible. The silk lace inserts allow light in, but give us privacy as well. It reminds me of a mantilla, which is in keeping with our Spanish Revival home.

This is a public thank you to Judy, who did all the the hard stuff. I cheered her on as she made french seams and encased the silk lace in the taffeta. She graciously delegated just the hemming of the side seams to me which I completed with some trepidation (I'm a titch intimidated by her extraordinary, expert skills!).

Now there is a warm glow in the dining room when the sun shines through the lace and hits these gorgeous daffodils on our dining room table.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Gauge Wisdom: Don't Do As I Do, Do As I Say!

While I have absolutely no business taking on a lengthy project with Spring and Summer samples to make up, when I saw Liesl by Coco Knits, I dropped everything, downloaded the pattern, and started it immediately. I could do that because I actually had the Habu yarn called for in the pattern. I've had it for 7 years now. Really, it's one of the first purchases I made when I opened the Grove. Well, let's just say, it wasn't a big seller. My business partner kept best mark that stuff down and move it. I just couldn't. So you can understand, why I started Liesl in a whirl of excitement without doing a gauge.

I know. You're falling off your chair. You can't believe it, especially when I insist everyone else do one. Well, smarty pants over here, knit gobs of rows (which did take forever) and in the dim light of the night, I dropped a stitch while making a decrease. Instead of just phumphing it, I decided to rip out a couple of rows which would also give me the chance to try the piece on.

I don't know the actually size of an adult hula hoop but if I starched this, I would definitely have one. To put this in perspective, that's David's sandal in the middle of the hula hoop and he wears a size 10.5. (Imagine him actually standing in that sandal.)

Now the pattern, with it's dips and drapey bottom, is supposed to measure 76", tapering to 48" across the bust. When I took gauge, I discovered that instead of getting 4.5 sts. per inch, I was getting 4 sts. per inch. On a scarf or something with a narrow width you may be able to get away with a half stitch per inch difference, but when you're knitting 76", the difference is substantial. It is actually a 10" difference! That's huge! (344 cast-on stitches/4 = 86". 344 cast-on stitches/4.5 = 76"). The 1/2 st. difference is almost a foot. To get 76" with a 4sts per inch gauge, I cast on 304 (76" x 4) stitches instead of 344 (76 x 4.5). Make sense? It doesn't have to. Just know that gauge is a requirement for everyone. I've been knitting for a gazillion years, yet that is a lesson I seem to have to relearn every couple of years!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Look Thanks to MAD Designs

Despite her busy schedule, Marcia took time away from her Beading by the Bay preparation yesterday to help judipatuti and me with our blogs. In Marcia's former life, she was in IT and she floors us with her abilities, although she says it's "nothing". Well, you could have fooled us!

Anyway, with Marcia's help Judy created her blog and wrote her first entry. Oh, do look at it now! It's lovely.

And we revised mine to include the new Swellsknits banner you see above. The backdrop for the banner is my absolute favorite knitted item, my Sei Shonagon pillow (pattern by Larissa Golden Brown).

The front of the pillow is knit in in an eyelet pattern with Euroflax Sportweight Linen. I wrote the poem free form with a coffee calligraphy pen on a piece of interfaced muslin. I cut the sentences into strips and wove them through the linen eyelet, backing the whole pillow in muslin.

The poem, which always brings me to my knees is by David Whyte. It's called the House of Belonging. I hope it speaks to you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Misti Cable Hat Success Photos!

It is so satisfying to have students walk out of their last class wearing their newly made creations. Such was yesterday, with the Misti Cable Hat class. This hat took about 5 hours to finish. Four hours in class and one hour of homework. From Sunday to Sunday. One week. And each one came out exactly the way it was intended. Here's our roster:

Starting from top right: Liz, Peg, Connie & Diane. Thanks, ladies, that was so much fun!