Saturday, February 28, 2015

We've Got Fish!!!

South Park Brewing and Fish Company opens tonight next to Hamilton's!!!  

Oh man, what a good day in the neighborhood this is!!!  My excitement knows no bounds.  When I read about this place, I had this dreadful feeling that I couldn't be trusted, that I would overdue it, that before long I would OD on it. It's exactly what we need in South Park!!! Casual, good fish - much of it locally sourced (hopefully, not from the TJ river).  And, it's in walking distance from where we live.  And, it's dog friendly on the patio.  LIFE could not be better today!  Throw some light rain and knitting into the picture and BAM, it's an over-the-top Saturday.  Enjoy it!

Friday, February 27, 2015

I saw Angela Landsbury at the Biltmore!

When we opened the Grove in 2003, knitters were just beginning to come out of the closet.  My generation was career oriented and Martha Stewart had yet to make an impact on all of us making it okay to celebrate home and hearth.

Around that time, I attended one of my first gift shows in L.A. and stayed at the Biltmore Hotel.  Of course they were filming there.  It's L.A. after all and perhaps one of the most frequently used sets for a hotel lobby scene is at the Biltmore.  The bright lights attracted my attention.  I stood on the balcony and looked down over the lobby and there was Angela Landsbury, amidst all the hustle and bustle,  sitting in a comfortable armchair quietly knitting.  WHATTTTTT???  When it was time for her to say her lines, she graciously said - are you ready for me?  When they said yes, she got up, carefully laid her knitting down on her chair and proceeded to act.  Wow.

I could not believe anyone was knitting in public especially someone famous and while she worked no less!  Unbelievable!!!!  Jessica Fletcher...right there knitting away.  I can't tell you how emancipating this was for me.  When I think back to this time period, I marvel at how much knitting has become an acceptable part of all our lives today, done openly, with friends.  It is valued and that wasn't the case when I was growing up.  That touches me down deep.  So let's enjoy our freedom to do what we love anywhere, any place.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

We KNOW what we should do, so let's do it!!!

I like figuring out where the hell I am in a pattern just as much as the next guy.  So I don't usually assist a customer with an unfinished project, especially with a yarn I don't know or carry.  But I did schedule a private lesson with a customer and since the pattern required some study, I agreed to take it home, straighten it out and get the customer started on her way again.  After all, this hat (to be felted) was almost done.  So two hours later, I got it back on track.  And as I struggled to figure out this unusual structure, the following thoughts ran thought my head:

1.  Always print the pattern.  Do not rely on an on-line view.
2.  Keep the damn pattern with the project.  Pin it to it if you have to.
3.  I don't care if you're putting your project down to respond to a text with every intention of returning to it.  Mark where you stopped and where you are to start again.  Literally, I mark my patterns like this:  START HERE.
4.  Don't put it in the closet.  That is the kiss of death.  Out-of-sight, out-of-mind.  Now we all know to do these things, right?  But do we?  Not so much. Promise me you will try, though, OK?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's Time.

I do feel bad for Boston where I spent my 20's.  I read this morning that they are reaching 100" of snow so far this winter.  Ay-yi-yi!  So I feel a little guilty as I look out onto my sunshine-filled deck and spot the tomato plants Krista bought me this weekend at Walter Anderson's.  Yep.  They've got a ton of varieties for sale.  Already.  And why not?  At this point, it's pretty clear that we are not going to have a winter and I am itching to get these tomatoes planted.  I actually asked my doc if my addiction to tomatoes indicates a vitamin deficiency.  Not that she's aware of.  Oh, I see.  It's my soul that needs them, not my body.  Whatever, I can't wait to have some home-grown ones!  I've got a beefsteak, an early girl, and a pineapple heirloom.  3 plants should be enough to feed friends and family.  My desires are so nominal these days.  All I want right now is to have enough tomatoes to make tomato jam as gifts.  And I put a curse on all tomato worms.  I will not, I repeat, I will not share my fruit with them!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Learning New Things

So here I was bragging to you about being top in my crochet class, graduating with honors, etc.  I write this now so that you know this ... each and every one of us encounters stumbling blocks when learning something new.  It doesn't mean: stop.  It doesn't mean:  I'm no good at this.  It doesn't mean anything other than you need to correct something.

How, you might ask, did my blanket turn into a tutu?  I can't answer that other than to say, I missed a couple of stitches at the end of the row.  When I noticed my error, I was rows and rows beyond it.  So I figured, I'll just sew a vertical zig zag stitch in line with those rows of single crochet and cut off that saddle bag.  Make it nice and straight and then crochet a border around it.  Not sure if that's going to work but rather then rip out the whole blanket, I think it's worth a try.

You may also wonder why I didn't stop at the waistband (i.e., where the stripes start)  and consult with my teacher, Janice.  Because I am obsessive when I learn something new and I simply could not stop myself.   MY HANDS WOULD NOT STOP.  They would not listen to reason.

My path from here on out is clear.  I need to sit by Jan's side and have her double check my end stitches so I stay on the straight and narrow.  Her generosity knows no bounds when it comes to time and patience.  I am determined to make her proud some day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

RIP Grover, Welcome Blue Boy!

Grover, my very special birthday present and mascot to Yarns at the Grove lived almost 4 years, which is a good, long life for a Betta. Aw, he was so elegant and beautiful.  Almost iridescent in color. Grover made his transition (ahem) a few days ago.  Although I was pretty sure Grover had breathed his last, he has played dead a couple of times before...often after a bowl change.  This time was different though.  My husband was tasked with the job of disposing of the body.  When he was on his way to the bathroom, I asked him to make triple sure that Grover was truly dead this time.  I heard the toilet flush and he said - he is now. (Not the most sensitive man in the world.)

The first thing I did the next morning was to look in Grover's bowl with his food on hand to feed him. I didn't realize that second to coffee, he was my first thought every morning.  So, I decided it was best to bring a new Grove mascot on board as quickly as possible.  And here he is:  Blue Boy.  A male Veiltail.  We christened him with a glass of champagne at Brabant before I brought him home and set him up in his new digs.  He adapted immediately and appears to be very happy.  He is gorgeous and healthy and has a voracious appetite.  Long live Blue Boy!!!

Monday, February 16, 2015

There are knitters and then there are KNITTERS!

One of the best things a knitter can hear is that someone close to them is having a baby.  Every stitch that goes into that inevitable baby blanket is a wish for health and goodness.  Lining baby blankets with one of judipatuti's flannel fabrics is the ultimate.

I just discovered this Pinterest tutorial about the best stitch to use when attaching fabric to a hand-knitted piece.  How could I not have known about TechKnitter all these years?  Her tips and finishing techniques are downright humbling.  Her profile says: 30 years of tricks want out of my mind and into yours.  It's always learning the tricks that is the hardest part of knitting and rarely are they written.  They're the kind of things that are passed down between knitters sitting side-by-side.  So sit beside TechKnitter on line and peruse her blog that imparts a knitter's secret wisdom.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Now THAT'S Service!

You probably know about Ewe Ewe Yarns (and if you don't, you really should) and that Heather (pictured) now has a new yarn called Ewe So Sporty.  The color ways are identical to those of Worsted Wooly as are the labels.  Both make squishy, beautiful baby blankets (among other things) and the colors are just perfect for such a use.  A couple of weeks ago an out-of-town customer bought the Vanilla and Sky Blue in Wooly Worsted.  She was thrilled with her purchase and couldn't wait to start knitting.

Well, don't you know she showed up in the shop with a gorgeous half knit baby blanket to exchange several balls of Ewe So Sporty for the Wooly Worsted she was using. (How the heck did that happen?  They are shelved on opposite walls from each other.)   ARGH and we didn't have enough on our shelves to replace them!  She was leaving town that afternoon, with her husband driving.  They were on their way to San Francisco.  Good lord, and she'd have nothing to knit during that long ride.  I couldn't bear that thought!

So I called Heather and explained this unfortunate, intolerable situation and asked her if my customer could stop by her house and pick them up.  Of course Heather thought I was kidding.  No really, they're going right by you on the 5.  It took awhile for her to get that I was serious and out of extraordinary kindness, she eventually agreed to meet my customer at a Starbucks right off the freeway.  DO YOU BELIEVE THAT SERVICE!?$@!#@  My customer was absolutely thrilled.    (Now don't anybody else ask Heather to do that because that was crazy ballsy of me and she won't do that kind of thing for just anyone, and now I am indebted to her for life,).  Heather, you're the absolute goods!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Me? Crochet?

I am a die-hard knitter. When customers tell me they can't decide whether they want to knit or crochet, I immediately say - oh, you definitely want to knit. And our crochet instructor, Jan, (one of my first customers when we opened our doors in 2003) tolerates my disdain (yes, I will go so far as to say "disdain"). We have for years bantered back and forth about the "C" word.  So don't ask me how this happened, but I saw a crocheted blanket on  Ravelry and said - I don't hate everything crocheted...I actually saw a blanket I liked. "Show me", she said, with a smirk.  Well, I couldn't for the life of me find the damn pattern.  So I went through pages and pages and picked out the few blankets I liked (not sure which one originally appealed to me).  And I showed her my selections.  She picked out the one she thought would be a good beginner project which was the Country Fresh Blanket by Patons.  She said - you can do this.  What?  And to prove to her that I am open minded and only half kidding about the "C" word, I said - alrighty then.  We both picked out yarn (I chose Kenzie) and we started our respective blankets on Sunday.  And this is what I've done so far with Jan's extraordinary patience.  I have, however, taken a lot of razzing over the past week.  Jo asked me if I wanted an awl since I had trouble getting my hook in a particular stitch.  Very funny.  I accused Jan of switching on me.  I swear one time she showed me to put the yarn over the hook and another time, under it.  She laughed and laughed and said there's only one way to do it right.  Oye.  She has, however, been very impressed with my diligence and yesterday, she graded my pattern.  Apparently, I'm doing quite well and am the top one in my class, destined to graduate with honors.  Now if you excuse me, I have a color-change coming up and get to use the dark blue!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Anzula Trunk Show: March 18, 2015, 3-6 p.m.

Yep, they're coming again!  Anzula's hitting the road and heading south.  They're bringing gobs of their gorgeous yarns for you to hand pick.  We took this photo at last year's trunk show.  Do you believe it?  Don't you want to just swan dive into the middle of all that beauty, texture, and color?

So mark your calendars.  Call your friends...make it an afternoon/happy hour celebration in the 'hood!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Kimera Baby Leggings

Oh hell, will you look at that cute baby and those precious little leggings!  OUCH!!!  Kimera is a new Egyptian cotton yarn from Plymouth.  We got five different colors in this week and they look like boxes of intricately painted Easter eggs. Scrumptious.  I started the leggings pattern the day the yarn arrived and it is such a fun knit.  So fun, in fact, that I am not speeding through it.  I am taking my time and really enjoying making every stitch. When I make shop samples, I make the smallest size available.  In this case, I'm knitting size 0-3 months.  So these leggings will be off the needles in no time and available for viewing and fondling next week.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

There Are Standards, Ya Know?

This has got to be the handiest, dandiest thing in the yarn world yet hardly anyone I know knows about it.  The Craft Yarn Council has a PDF that you can download which contains standard abbreviations, standards for yarn weights, body and head measurements, etc.!  So, you know I'm in love with that Eileen Fisher top I posted a couple of days ago.  To get the sizing correctly, I refer to the Yarn Council's standards ... the Women's section that has measurements for different size women and it even has a chart that defines how much ease a particular sweater style contains.  It's all so brilliant, I can't stand it!  So take a look at this chock-full-of-information PDF and expand your knitting horizons.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Eileen Fisher Style

Saturday, my girls and I had a lovely sushi lunch at Blue Smoke in Fashion Valley (YUM) followed by a brief trip to Bloomingdales.  There was an Eileen Fisher sale going on and this lovely, simple knit top was marked down from $200 something to $70 something. Such a simple design.  Knit sideways in a stretchy tape yarn, it is just a square with a neckline.  The two sides aren't sewn but tacked about 1" into the fabric.   It seems easy enough to knit but the design isn't the challenge. It's the fiber.  Geeze, Eileen Fisher has the most awesome fabrics and fibers. They're so beautiful they hurt.  So when time allows, I will be experimenting with the yarns my reps have given me and the new yarns I've recently ordered, looking for something similar.  What an awesome summer top this could be, paired with a cami and a long shirt that peeks out below the hem of the sweater.  That's SO Eileen Fisher and we LOVE her!!!