Stitches West

Days, weeks, even months I had been looking forward to Stitches West. A huge yarn extravaganza in Santa Clara with about 350 vendors, classes, people, parties, joy, happiness, and what have you. And did I say YARN?

Stitches West can be many things, depending on the experience you seek. Will it be a wild party? A shopping trip? A learning experience? Meeting up with old friends? Making new friends?

To be honest, I did not feel too well during the weeks prior, but I thought being there would take care of all that and put me in a good mood. After all, it’s YARN! What’s not to like about it, and how could it not put me into a good mood?

Once there, I fell into the category of efficient consumer. In and out!

Entering, the ticket lines were really short, the line for getting into the most hallowed of halls a bit long but moving at good speed. As soon as I crossed the threshold, I was overcome by the immensity and the crowds, feeling like I could actually pass out.

market

Nice people, not the crazy Black Friday crowd where one has to fear for one’s life as seen on TV. All very polite, just a lot of them.

With a handy map and Stephen’s helpful legend personalized for me the night before, I ignored my surroundings. Goal-oriented, I headed to the first booth, then the next, and the next, and the next. But what was going on, no one was where we had marked them to be? Had I entered the Twilight Zone? I started feeling woozy and disoriented, and overcome with it all.

I had to get my bearings if I was to make it through and actually buy some yarn. From last year I remembered Dragonfly Fibers and headed in that general direction. Eureka! I left their booths with the first two gorgeous skeins.

Big Apple AKA My Bloody Valentine, Dragon Sock
Big Apple AKA My Bloody Valentine, Dragon Sock
Damsel, color Riptide, a sport weight
Damsel, color Riptide, a sport weight

There was a problem that kept on repeating. Many of the various colorways of the indie dyers were already in my stash at home. My taste had not changed all that much from last year, so I kept on picking up the same color and putting it back because I knew exactly where on the shelf I would find it at home.

I tried the map again. And this time I figured it out. When I’d googled the Stitches West map I made unfortunate assumptions. So what I was holding in my hands was a map from 2013.

After a trip to the information booth and a new, updated booklet with map and all, I was on my way again. In no time I found The Verdant Gryphon and, with my next purchase complete, headed to Western Sky Knits and then on to Miss Babs, as usual the most crowded booth at the whole affair.

Traveler
From The Verdant Gryphon Booth

 

Western Sky Knits, Aspen Sock, color: wyldstyle
Western Sky Knits, Aspen Sock, color: wyldstyle
Magnolia Sock yarn: merino, cashmere, nylon
Magnolia Sock yarn: merino, cashmere, nylon

The above yarn is more squeezable than charmin toilet paper. And below see another sock yarn, it was a red kind of day.

Western Sky Knits Aspen Sock Yarn
Western Sky Knits Aspen Sock Yarn

After that, I took it easy. Went to the beginning and headed up and down the aisles just like I do at the grocery store. Then ate a snack I’d brought along and tried another up and down aisles. I felt like a personal shopper because I had promised a friend I’d look for a good black and purple, heavier than fingering yarn, with a tight twist.

Armed only with reading glasses for close-up yarn inspection, the world was a blur around me.

My Miss Babs loot: very, very modest.

Miss Babs Yowza, colorway: next to godliness
Miss Babs Yowza, colorway: next to godliness

And continuing with the red theme:

I fell for the yarn name: scarlet letter
I fell for the yarn name: scarlet letter

Without being facetious, it was basically the same shit as last year. No new yarn discoveries. I learned that indie dyers have a hard time getting a true black or a lovely purple.

My favorite yarn purchase is a color called Big Apple that I am renaming Bloody Valentine. These will make socks for me.

DSC_0010
Big Apple AKA My Bloody Valentine

There are not enough ways to look at these colors, but I try.

DSC_0014

DSC_0016
OK, so this is not an apple tree but an apricot tree. Good enough?

 

 

Am I Back?

This has been the toughest New Year yet. On day three I started what I thought was a cold, but who really knows, and it is still haunting me. Now my bet is on allergies. After the big rain we’ve had here it should get better, right?

There was nothing to do for me as I was sniffling through the day, but knit and listen to Serial the podcast and stream Netflix. If you’re one of the 5 people who have not listened to the podcast, well, do as you like, I’m not going to recommend it, though I’m glad to be in the know.

Netflix just streamed by or through me or past me, I remember nothing. Probably a good thing.

I am obsessed with Asaf Avidan. Sure to get tired of him pretty soon as his songs all seem to derive from the same place, I still recommend a listen. Don’t be frightened by his voice, it can grow on you and he sure knows how to use it. And here it is, I have a weakness for male high voices, and he plays on that. A youtube where you can see and listen to him, a click away.

And if you want more of him, check out the NPR tiny desk concert. If you really want to indulge, do so here.

The knitting has not brought much joy. No excitement, but comfort. A few hats, fingerless mittens, socks, and finishing started projects.

DSC_0001

A photo from a niece in Germany inspired this little cowl. I bet it also could be used by a dog instead of a bandana that some people think makes their dog look super-cool. The pattern called Scallo-Pie is free and from one of my favorite designers: Martina Behm.

DSC_0005

The photos below finally show the finished products. Took me long enough to finish. Some projects have that effect on me. And after a certain amount of time working on such items it should be enough and it should finish itself. Somehow I get no special pleasure or gratification in completion. That gets me into trouble around the house. Every room has a project started and not finished. Don’t ask why but around 10 years ago I thought I could put in my own floors and did. But did I finish the baseboard or the last few boards? Noooooooooo. Yes, there are excuses. I had no saw to cut the boards to size. Now that I do, I’m used to the look and doubt I could master this finishing anyway.

DSC_0008 DSC_0010

 

 

 

 

 

New Beginnings (or not)

The arbitrary saying goodbye to a whole year last night had me wondering about a lot of stuff. But that’s the idea, right? Reflection?

First reflection: why a year? we could celebrate the end of every month, the end of every week, the end of every day, the end of every hour, the end of every minute, the end of every second, the end of every moment.

Second reflection: Perhaps it makes more sense to celebrate the beginning of every year, the beginning of every month, the beginning of every day, the beginning of every hour, the beginning of every minute, the beginning of every second, the beginning of every moment.

Third reflection: Perhaps we should just celebrate life! I guess I’m not that original.

Yes I do have resolutions, which is kind of stupid because I can decide at any moment to change to a better me. That’s what it’s about, right? To be a better person? Or are there people out there whose resolutions are: this year I’ll flip off every driver that takes my right-of-way; this year I’ll hurt at least one person a week; this year I’ll be greedier….

The shininess of the new year wears off pretty quickly. Just like, despite a new notebook at the beginning of the semester, we may lose our excitement and best intentions and all within days.

So any resolution needs to be supported by higher motives. To stand a chance, resolutions have to be unrelated to time. They can be made at any time of year; they’re their own beginnings.

I’m looking back and feel like the guy at the christmas market who said: same shit as last year. Was last year any different from all the others? There were good and bad times. New friends and losing old ones. You know, same shit….

I expect nothing else from this year. Except for 12 pairs of socks by the December holidays. One a month? I don’t care as long as there will be 12, or enough for presents.

Stitches West is coming up in February. I’m hoping to live long enough to indulge at the marketplace there. And then live long enough to use it all up. But that is fantasy as I’ve achieved sable (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy). But a girl can hope. At least I would like to knit more, if that is even possible.

 

Fourth reflection: I’ve already lost at being who I would like to be in the new year. Go back to bed Marianna, really, or start knitting those socks. I made pancakes this morning, long story, we don’t usually eat those. But I had all the fixings and never made them while visitors were here. So we ate them all. ALL! I feel like it’s Thanksgiving.

Let me share a recipe. Not very original because it started out in a cookbook and then got refined. Take some ricotta cheese and then add some citrus zest; I used oranges. Prepare your favorite pancake recipe or mix and then gently add the ricotta mixture. Fry ’em up. I happened to notice the Kahlua bottle out from truffle-making and added a bit to the mix. A little maple syrup on top, and your new year’s resolution will be totally ruined. And you can go forth and eat whatever you want for the rest of the year, because anything has to be better than that.

Here is what’s important for knitting socks: nice colorful yarn in winter, the signature needles, remote and sound to knit to, a candle or more in winter.

DSC_0001

We’ve had a wonderful holiday season this year. A constant go-go-go. I’ll leave you with the photos.

DSC_0007 DSC_0008

DSC_0001 DSC_0002

 

Last Night of Hanukkah

Let me start with the …

Lighting of the Candles

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candle(s) of [check below to see what night(s) and word(s) apply, depending on the night]. May [repeat the names associated with the candle(s)] burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

Peace and Justice: Shammash (9th candle, lit every day)

1st night: Respect
2nd night: Love
3rd night: Compassion & Empathy
4th night: Connection & Kinship
5th night: Enlightenment & Consciousness
6th night: Liberation & Freedom
7th night: Gentleness
8th night: Harmony & Cooperation

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

********

A day late during a very, very busy holiday season for me, with dinners or brunches almost every day. Now we’ll finally get to the holiday drawing….

Though it has been busy, it also has been lots of fun. Starting with getting to know Steve’s parents. Steve is our daughter Liana’s boyfriend. Having both of our kids and their partners and parents around for get-togethers has made for lots of laughing and drinking and eating. And we’re not done yet. One more brunch and dinner and I will not step into my kitchen for a while. Except to grab leftovers from the fridge.

Knitting will become my main activity again. Remember Liana’s sweater I need to frog (unravel)? It’ll hurt but be so worth it. She says it’s ok being a little big, but, nah, it has to be perfect. I have many winter months left.

So let me hop over to the random number generator and see who will get an extra present this season.

The envelopes, please:

Almond chocolate bark. Ta-Da! Dawn

Chocolate truffles. Ta-Da! Cindy

The Cowl. Ta-Da! Cereza

Happy Hanukkah – 4th Night

Not much to report here, actually not much time for writing. Last minute vacuuming done, all spices and foods packed so I can do a brunch tomorrow morning for the Bay Area family. Presents wrapped and ready for delivery.

While cleaning up, I noticed we’ve received only one holiday card. Stephen and I disagree about whether to display the thing or not. Of course we don’t write cards anymore, a story I will let you in on soon. But it looks so cheesy only having one card. Then again, the card comes from very important people: Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter. Perhaps we can impress the holiday guests with it.

Your Ta-Da! Moment: It’s Janie who won the 2 truffles today.

Lighting of the Candles

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Connection and Kinship, Compassion and Empathy, Love, and Respect. May connection and kinship, compassion and empathy, love, and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

Happy Hanukkah – 3rd Night

I lied. All this time I was under the mistaken impression that Christmas Eve and the last night of Hanukkah collided this year. Not so. High School algebra was of no use to me after all. Eventually I would have figured this out. It would have been a clue when the candles ran out.

This might be a good thing, now we get to celebrate 9 nights in a row.

I’ve cleaning news and progress to report, but that’s boring. I’ve let go of a lot of cleaning. The basics are done and we all will have to live with what didn’t. There were no plans to eat off the floor anyway.

Let’s get right to the Ta-Da Moment! Barbara Sue, it’s you for the 2 truffles.

And for the Lighting of the candles tonight:

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Compassion and Empathy, Love, and Respect. May compassion and empathy, love, and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

Happy Hanukkah – 2nd Night

Last night Stephen picked up a book I had on hold at the library: The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis. I read late into the wee hours and finished this morning. Obviously I recommend the book. Nothing earthshaking, but a good read.

Finished some more truffle orders and other than that this day was pretty uneventful. Tonight will be more exciting as we’re invited to dinner.

The winner selected by the random number generator for 2 chocolate truffles is: Debbie! Ta-da!

This being the second night of Hanukkah, here is the “prayer” to go with the lighting of the candles. Every night we add another named candle. Yesterday it was Respect, tonight it’s Love.

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Love and Respect. May love and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

Happy Hanukkah – First Night

This holiday thing had me clean my house a little deeper. OK, I admit it, it’s not the holiday thing, but Liana’s boyfriend’s parents coming to visit. As usual, I had grand deep-cleaning plans and even contemplated finishing up chores long since deserted mid-task, like painting the ceilings. But as time runs out and I’ve done fun things instead, like knitting, I’m getting more and more tolerant of the state of our house. If ever there was someone who took the concept seriously about clean house or fun with friends, it’s me. Friends win each and every time. So I will not be remembered as the German with the clean house, a myth anyway, but as someone willing to expose her cleaning shortcomings.

A little frantically, things are stuffed into the garage. This time from the front garage door. The access from the kitchen is kind of almost blocked. Sure wish I could start purging, but instead I told a Hanukkah well wisher today: sure I embroider and cross stitch, so apparently I’ll inherit what she didn’t manage to throw away. As you can see, I’m helpless and the situation is hopeless. Let’s move on, nothing to see here.

I decided to put the random number generator into action for Hanukkah. Tonight, one of you will be a winner of 2 chocolate truffles. If you win, you’re still in for the cowl and 5 truffles and the chocolate bark. The big prizes will be revealed on December 22 or 23.

Ta-da! It’s Ginna! We’ll talk flavors soon, and perhaps a visit?

And as a bonus, here is our prayer for the first night of Hanukkah (written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us):

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candle of respect. May respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

 

Give-Away #3

Hi, remember me? I’m still here. It’s not just a stereotype, this sure is a busy season. Days seem to fly by, in and out. If only they would wait for me to get something done before they leave. But often it is not to be.

Since the holidays are coming at an even faster and more furious pace, we should all take a moment and find some time to relax and be together. I’m not sure how you go about doing that, but it’s a darn good suggestion, you have to admit.

Our family will be together this season with Liana and her boyfriend coming from Denver. And this year we get to meet his parents, who are also coming and tagging on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe or Squaw Valley. We’re not skiers and will not make fools of ourselves, no worries there. We’ll do what we do best and that is host people and wine and dine them.

Toby will head over from Grass Valley with girlfriend and her mom. All this on the evening of the 24th, when I actually celebrate Christmas. And this year it will also be the last night of Hanukkah. How much better does it get? I think everyone is relieved that I lay claim to the 24th and let them do their thing on the 25th.

A few more presents to wrap by candlelight and some incense burning, and I’m happy as can be, for now. Being who I am, I’m sure I can find something to be unhappy and upset about. Right now my pet peeve is the movement to diss saying ‘happy holidays,’ in favor of ‘merry christmas.’

Come on, that’s pure crap. This is a huge extended holiday season, and a ‘happy holidays’ is in order. Unless you count all your consuming in malls and online shopping as a merry christmas, you are plain wrong. You will have bought into a consumer mentality that makes people downright mean and selfish at times.

I prefer to look at this time of year as one big celebration of everything. Whatever you want to name your celebration: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Yule, St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucy’s Day, etc., lights play a crucial role. It’s December, it’s dark, shortest days of the year and all. We need something to cheer us up. This is when gifts of candles are appreciated. I always make sure I have hundreds of candles lined up from Ikea, I’m an Ikea candle fiend.

But let’s get back to the topic of giveaway, meant to cheer us up. You’ll have 2 chances to win. One of them is a package of 5 chocolate truffles, flavors will be the maker’s choice. And you have to be able to pick them up at our house, here in Nevada City.

The second gift is the purple cowl. I’ll give you a picture below, so you know what you’re getting into. The colorway is called avalon. It’s one of those hand-wash lay-flat-to-dry items knitters are so fond of. Now how to get into the drawing for this? Hmmm, let’s say you have to be a subscriber to this blog (look to your right and up), and how about paying it forward. Just make a commitment to do something good for another person next year, I trust you and don’t need the details. And let me know in the comments below or in a private email if you would like to be in the drawing for the cowl or the chocolate truffles or both.

The cowl and truffles are for pickup at our house if you live locally, or if you live outside this area and have a U.S. address, I can ship the cowl to you (not the truffles).

A happy holiday season to all!

DSC_0002

 

 

 

 

Buttons

I have a knitting nemesis: buttons. It doesn’t keep me from making knit items that need buttons, but it keeps me from finishing them. So it can happen that a cardigan for a baby will not be finished until said baby has a baby of their own.

Yes, I know, sounds ridiculous.  Since there is no knitting police, I’m stuck with disciplining myself. Or not, as has happened. Ask Stephen about a couple of sweaters that need the arms sewn in, since the ’80s. Oh yes, there is more than one nemesis with my knitting. It’s a wonder anything gets done at all, you might think.

But then there are days like today. They don’t come around often, so you have to grab them and start rolling. This is what I did. 7 buttons on a baby cardigan that might fit for 7 moments. One button a moment. Crazy, yes, but it’s all love and knitting.

DSC_0001

And then when you see a picture of a wee one actually wearing something you made, it’s the proverbial priceless.

10354227_10152534367461158_5877385630560442708_n

 

The postal carrier brought yarn today. I ordered a few more cables for my interchangeable knitting needles. Yes, it’s to be able to start even more projects before finishing the other ones. Bad, bad, bad, I know. But it’s my life….

I saw a skein of yarn on sale, half price, made of wool and silk. Resistance was futile.

DSC_0002

And no one reading this should roll their eyes right now, because you never know what will be up for the next prize drawing.

Except for finishing touches, a.k.a. buttons, I’m done with my holiday knitting. From now on out, it’s fun stuff. Well, it’s always fun, but now it’s free of deadlines and matching colors and projects to people, etc. You know, goal-oriented knitting, now I only have to worry about the path, and not even that if I choose. As Stephen might tell me: have at it!