Friday, May 22, 2009


I went out to Seattle last week for a very whirlwind trip. I flew in Wednesday night, had Thursday there and flew out Friday morning. It was AMAZING how well all of my hotel, plane and car arrangements worked. It was like the whole trip was charmed. I landed a little bit late (stupid Chicago weather) but got to the car counter right before the guy left for a smoke break. Getting the car at the offsite location took a total of 15 minutes and 10 of that was the drive to the car lot and 3 of it was me inspecting the car and figuring out where the various switches were. I ended up with a Subaru Impreza with which I was really impressed.

My hotel room was at an Extended Stay in Lynnwood, a community north of Seattle. We have friends of the family who live there and I was hoping to make things more convient if we could meet up. It turns out that Pam and her family lived 5 minutes away from my hotel. Also, all I had to do to get there from the airport was take I-5 north and the hotel was right there. It was so easy to get down to Seattle, too.

I probably should confess this, being a librarian and all, but I didn't do any research for this trip really. Well, except for the yarn stores. But I didn't even do a google map for the hotel or where I was going in Seattle. I just looked at the little guidebook map. On reflection, I'm really happy I picked up the guidebook on Tuesday when a patron asked me to show them the Alaska guidebooks and I happened to see it. But, like I said, everything was charmed.

I had an appointment in the middle of the day in downtown Seattle so I found a place to park the car (10 blocks away) and remembered the cross streets. I got to my appointment early so I had a chance to cool off from my hike. After it was over, I took a detour to Pike Place Public Market and roamed around for a bit. I got a fabulous thing of mac and cheese at a cheese store/deli and some flowers for Pam and her family. I drove back to the hotel and got ready to meet Pam.

You know the best part about visiting Seattle? Pam is a knitter. Pam knows yarn stores. Pam had a plan and a map of the stores we could get to. Pam is a native and can find her way around so much better than I could. The second best part? The Seattle yarn stores were having a yarn crawl that weekend starting on Thursday. If you were able to get to all 23 yarn stores in the near Seattle area, you were entered into a drawing for a set of Addi Clicks. Pam and I knew our limits, though, and were happy to make it to 4. We went to The Fiber Gallery, Bad Woman Yarn (hysterical name!), Weaving Works, and Pam's LYS, Acorn Street Shop. Because it was a yarn crawl, every store had a free pattern and would stamp your yarn crawl booklet. It was so much fun! I didn't buy and yarn but fell down hard with the fiber and fiber tools. I blame the delightful Weaving Works!

I came home with 4 ounces of Falkland fiber, 1 ounce of cotton roving, 1 cotton spindle and 1 wooden drop spindle made in Kent, WA. I should have never picked up any of the Cascade spindles to try them out. I tried a couple and they didn't click. I tried the .95 oz one and knew it was going to come home with me. Then you can't leave without fiber because what else would you do in the airport? Knit on the 2 different projects I had brought? Ha! Of course I spun in the gate waiting area! I came home with the cotton and cotton spindle because I've never seen those in fiber stores and, the last time I was looking for one, I couldn't find one. At Bad Woman Yarn, I picked up a bluebird needle felting kit. Mom has been watching a bluebird family in our backyard so it was the perfect present for her.

After our mini yarn crawl, Pam and I went up to the ferry landing for Whitby Island and met Pam's sister, Nikki, for dinner at Ivar's, a local seafood place. It was so much fun to see both of them and catch up a bit. Pam and I arrived right as Nikki's ferry was landing and, as we finished dinner, a ferry was arriving. Talk about timing! If we had taken any longer, Nikki would have had to wait until 11.

The next morning, I was worried about getting to the airport and Seattle's notorious traffic. After consulting with Pam, I decided to leave at 8 just in case. It definitely wasn't a problem getting up and out that early because I was still on Eastern time. By 8:30, I was getting ready to drop the car off. Can you believe that? I didn't even hit any sort of slow down. Definitely charmed. All I had to do with the rental car was get out, let the attendant scan the barcode, and get a receipt from him. The ride back to the airport was 10 minutes. By 9, I was in line getting ready to check in for my 11:30 flight. It was fantastic! I had plenty of time for security and getting caffeine. And spinning.

I guess the only downside is that I am back on the terrorist watch list. Have I mentioned this before? About 2-2.5 years ago, I couldn't check in online for a Southwest flight. Now, this was for the return trip. I was able to check in online 3 days before for the outgoing trip. At the airport, I tried the kiosk check-in and it went through all of the steps but, before printing the boarding pass, told me to go to the desk to check in. So I waited in another line. What being on the watch list means is that you can't use the curbside, online or kiosk check ins. You also might get more security. I got copies of my social security card, passport, driver's license, and birth certificate notarized and sent in to the TSA in order to get off the list. After many months later, I could check-in online again for my flights. Suddenly, 2 years later I can't check in online again. It's so frustrating! I guess I will go through all of that again sometime soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bad blogger

I went to Seattle last week but did I take pictures? No. Did I tell you about it before hand? No. Did I have a fun whirlwind trip? Yes. Was there yarn? Yarn crawl, yes, but buying of yarn, no. Buying of fiber and spindles *cough* yes. I'll let you guys know more about my whirlwind trip later this week.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


I'm going to SOAR at the end of October. I just did the retreat option rather than the workshops and retreat. My retreat sessions are going to be:
  • Spinning Next to the Skin
  • Making the Most of Your Hand-held Combs
  • Spinning for Socks
  • Silk Work Sampler
I'm a little bit in shock.

P.S. Registration is today and classes are filling up fast. The two classes I had originally thought of taking were waitlisted within 15 minutes.

My own NaKniAnyMoDo

You remember NaKniSweMo, right? National Knit a Sweater Month in November where you knit a sweater in a month. Well, some people took it a step further and created NoKniSweMoDo, National Knit a Sweater a Month Dodecathon (i.e. one sweater per month for a year). On the Stash and Burn ravelry group, the members modified that extremely ambitious project into another one, NaKniAnyMoDo. What does that mean? National Knit Anything a Month Dodecathon so you make a goal to knit 12 of anything. For some people that means cleaning out the stash, for others finishing up UFOs and for others working on 12 of a specific project. For me, it means socks.

I love making socks but recently I've been distracted by other projects. This was the perfect opportunity for me to replenish the handmade sock collection and to use up some of my copious amounts of sock yarn in the stash. So I've been working on my one pair per month and have pretty consistantly met my goal.

April's socks were started right before leaving for the Knitting and Spinning Estonian Lace workshop. That was April 22nd and I realized I still hadn't started a pair of socks for the month. I figured having the car trip and some down time in the evenings would be the perfect opportunity to finish a pair. I ended up finishing them on May 2nd, though the majority of the sock knitting was done in April. I didn't get the pair done on April 30th because I thought I was going to run out of yarn and couldn't stand the thought. So for 2 days, the socks sat around. Then I bit the bullet and finished knitting the toes. It turns out I had plently of yarn left (well, a yard)!

Pattern: Pomatomus from Knitty by Cookie A
Yarn: Koigu my aunt gave me for a Christmas present
Modifications: None that I can remember
Notes: Now I remember why I don't like top down socks, you might run out of yarn at awkward times. I really like the way that this yarn and pattern look together. I'm glad I didn't just do a plain vanilla sock with it.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Spinning and Knitting Estonian Lace

Vacations seem to end so quickly especially if you have been looking forward to them for a long time! Last week, I took Thursday-Monday off of work and travelled over to Pendleton, IN. What is in Pendleton you ask? The Trading Post aka den of delicious fiber crack and yarn. The Trading Post hosted Nancy Bush and Judith MacKenzie McCuin for a class on knitting and spinning Estonian lace. Let me tell you right now, if you have a chance, take a class with these ladies. I learned so much! OK, back to me telling you about the weekend.

Thanks to Lucie, you will have pictures. My camera came out only once during the entire weekend and those pictures were awful! Thanks Lucie for letting me steal your pictures!

I drove over on Thursday afternoon with two ladies from my spinning guild. We had asked Susan, the owner of the Trading Post, where she would suggest to have dinner. She recommended Bonge's Tavern in a nearby town. She was planning on taking a group there so 10 of us met up for dinner. The tavern doesn't have menus per se. The waitress listed everything and everyone ordered from that. That dinner had quite possibly the best salad I've ever had. The blue cheese dressing was to die for. One of those dressings that you consider licking the plate just so you can clean up every drop. I ordered the chicken and really enjoyed it. What made the evening, though, was that dessert. (I'm making myself really hungry right now) I split a piece of chocolate and sour cherry deliciousness with a fellow classmate, Karen. Oh, that dessert was good. *Drool*

The next day, everyone arrived at the Trading Post and started carting our wheels and stuff into the shop. Susan has converted part of a barn and hay loft into her shop. I couldn't believe they had moved everything in there the day before! The color of the walls is so bright and cheery. She has put in a small kitchen which was really handy when we ordered lunch and baked pizzas in the oven.
trading post shopThe Trading Post

Isn't the kitchen cute?

foodFood was a theme for the weekend!

It was definitely chaotic moving everyone in! We fit 30 people plus stuff up on the second floor. After some tweaking and moving around, everyone settled down. Moving from place to place on the 2nd floor could be interesting but everyone seemed really patient with it all. We ended up doing the knitting sections of the class downstairs and the spinning upstairs so stuff wouldn't have to move around too much. This weekend was unseasonably warm for the end of April so you can imagine it was quite warm upstairs! Luckily, the wind blew steadily the whole weekend and we were able to open the windows to get rid of some of the heat.

other corner
Taking a spinning class with Judith is a very organic sort of thing. Sure you have times that she shows everyone something (you should have seen almost the whole group doing stretching exercises) but, the rest of the time, you are listening to stories of her life and experiences. If you can think of a job that involves the fiber world, she has done it. If you have a question about fiber, she can probably answer it. If you want a spinning technique explained and demonstrated, she can do it. Everyone said that they were amazed how much their spinning technique changed from Friday to Sunday. It was absolutely amazing!

judithJudith teaching

mini skeinOne of my sample skeins (I would have taken more pictures of them but they are all white and look the same)

Nancy brought the shawls from her book, Knitted Lace of Estonia, and shawls she purchased in Estonia. Talk about exquisite! You would not believe how delicate and intricate these shawls were. What really got me about them is that the Estonian ladies a) started knitting these just to sell to tourists and b) knit them on 9-10 inch straight homemade needles. That's right, 9 inch needles with 400+ stitches on them. Wow. I loved learning more about Estonia (who knew they loved Sweden so much?) and their knitting traditions. But I think the thing that interested me the most was how Nancy described discovering the Estonian knitting. She said that she came across some watercolor pictures while researching for another book. For her, it was like meeting her husband, you just knew it was right. Nancy said that she just wanted to learn everything that she could about the country and the knitting.

nancy bush and shawlNancy showing us a shawl

swatches and shawlsNancy's swatches, mini shawls, actual shawls and knitting needles from Estonia

The whole goal of the workshop was to spin and knit up a sample shawl (i.e. a wee little shawl coaster) of an Estonian stitch pattern. Nancy had a couple of different options that we could do. Everyone chose one of the patterns to use. We were given some yarn to start out with so we could make the initial swatch. At the same time, we were also learning to spin finer and finer yarn out of a couple of different wools and wool blends. Judith had a Shetland/Rambouillet mix, Falkland, a wool (Merino? should have written that down)/silk blend, tussah silk and mulberry silk (Did I miss anything?). I ended up doing the Lily of the Valley stitch pattern which was a lot of fun and had a lot of nupps (think rhymes with "soups"). I loved the stitch and can't wait to knit a full shawl. This is my little sample.

mini shawlMy mini shawl

I met so many fun people (Hi, Kerry! Hi Lucie!), learned so much, and had such a wonderful time. If you ever have a chance to take a class with these two ladies, don't hesitate to sign up!