A Mixed Bag

Earlier this week when I woke up back in my own bed, a bit worn out, I was overcome with a touch of sadness: Stitches West was over. I don’t think, until that moment, I realized just how much fun I had there. Despite taking too many classes and being on the tail end of the flu, it was a complete blast!

Unlike many folks I went by myself—not with friends (who mainly opted out for Madrona Winter Retreat the weekend before). Still, I was never really alone. I wandered the Market with classmates or instructors, like Margaret Fisher, who commented she’d never seen so many non-yarn booths making the shopping experience so much more exciting. If I sat down to eat, I joined a table (usually the last seat) and before I knew it in a few minutes we were chatting like old friends. Knitters are like that.

Bags and Bowls Purchased at Stitches West
Bags and Bowls Purchased at Stitches West

This year I didn’t buy yarn. In keeping with my New Year’s resolution of making or bartering for all my clothes this year, I had to stay within my PayPal account for purchases. So, in theory, I could have purchased yarn, but I was on a strict budget. So I decided what I needed more than yarn (see earlier blog to “So much Yarn”) were bags, organizers, and more bags. The phone wire bowl from the Zulus in South Africa? Well that baby unexpectedly pulled me out of the aisle. Once I picked it up, I simply could not put it down. That’s the feeling you get when you know you’ve found something you will treasure.

So what to do about the malaise of coming back to work and reality? What I did was block my calendar for next year. I heard that it was going to be February 18th and I’m already planning to go!

I haven’t figured it out yet…

I haven’t figured it out yet.” Such a hopeful phrase! It suggests two very important things:

  1. That there is more to learn
  2. That I will learn it 🙂

I’m still here in Santa Clara at Stitches West and I’ve come to another realization. I signed up for too many classes—the same mistake I made my first time as Stitches West 14 years ago when it was in Oakland.

In my defense, it’s been 10 years since I was here. That said, I’ve loved every class and will likely love the two (!) more I have tomorrow. The issue is making sure I really learn what I’ve learned.

So far I’ve picked up many new ways of closing garments and making the chains, buttons, etc., in a class with Margaret Fisher. She even taught me how to sew in a zipper! I also learned two stranded color knitting with a designer from my neck of the woods, Lorilee Beltman. I can’t wait to try out her designs! Today was continental knitting with the fabulous Leslye Solomon, who I remember from her classes when I was first going to Stitches West all those years ago. This is when my brain started to fry a bit.Created with Nokia Smart Cam

When a neighbor would get stuck in class and lean in to ask me how to do something—because I tend to plow on even if I don’t know what I’m doing—I would answer, “I haven’t figured it out yet, but here is what I’m trying.” I didn’t feel bad about that, I felt energized!!

After class, this being my only half day of classes, walking around the market I felt a bit dizzy. Yes, that is a sensory overload place too, but it was more than that—I WAS TIRED. So I hoofed it back to the hotel to rest. ZZZZzzzz.

After my nap I picked up right where I left off from class while I was waiting for dinner and there it was. No, it wasn’t smooth (not yet!) and no it wasn’t pretty (not yet!), but this will come. I know it!

And now I must gird my loins for the two classes I have tomorrow—before I get on a plane and fly home.

Travel and Knitting–the best of both worlds

I love knitting. I love travel. Put the two things together and you have a recipe for a great time.

After arriving at the San Jose airport I hopped in my rental and beat feet up the road to get to my first class. With no trouble I checked in, hustled to the venue, grabbed my registration and made my way to the first class with Margaret Fisher on Closures. She even debunked crochet for me!

People massing 25 minutes before the doors to the expo opened. You should have seen in right before they did!
People massing 25 minutes before the expo. You should have seen it right before they opened!

As I headed back to my own hotel I saw people massing at the door of the market, someone commented, students get to go in today. Wow! A chance to do the circuit and see everything once, before settling in to do the real shopping. And that’s just what I did—though I’d forgotten my booth listing back at the room.

That’s okay! There will be time for more wandering about in the days ahead.

In brief, SO GLAD TO BE BACK after 10 years away.

Today I’ve got a full day of two stranded knitting. I’ve practiced the continental style I learned on YouTube, since a friend of mine told me it helps with this sort of thing. It makes me feel like I’m knitting with mittens on. That’s why we take classes to learn and that’s my favorite thing to do!!

So Much Yarn–So Little Time

Confession time. I’m drowning in yarn.

I have a huge cache of yarn. And that’s an understatement. Oddly I lust for more. And “How did you acquire so much?”, you might rightfully ask. Two reasons:

  1. My grandmother purchased most of it
  2. I purchased yarn myself that I wanted, but didn’t have a project in mind for (at the time).

I’m about to attend the first Stitches West that I’ve been to in 10 years. And why haven’t I been going? To avoid acquiring more yarn.

Let me first explain the grandmother bit above. She was an avid knitter. If you saw her without knitting needles in her hands she was either drinking coffee or making/eating food. Every year I got between 4 and 10 sweaters, most of which I donated to goodwill when I went back to graduate school and divested myself of most my worldly belongings. Meanwhile, grandma was slowly losing her wits. And one day in a moment of clarity she asked the yarn be boxed up and given to me. Why? She’d forgotten how to knit. Alzheimer’s can do that to you. She remembered I’d picked up needles in my 20s to deal with my stressful travel/work schedule, but only for those few hours.

Mercerized Cotton
Mercerized Cotton

I flew back to Boise, Idaho to get my truck, drove to Pocatello (my place of birth) and bagged up closet, drawer and attics bursting with yarn. Nine 32 gallon bags completely stuffed, compressed and thrown into the back of Ford Ranger. When these were unpacked, sorted, and stacked Tucson, I realized I had more yarn than a yarn shop. Piles and piles of it. Some already partially knitted. Some of it water/fire damaged. Some of it only odds and ends. Much I recognized as leftovers from sweaters she’d knitted. She effectively bought out store closures of their entire stock.

Several reduction ideas immediately occurred to me. I boxed up many of her notions and some of the colors I couldn’t bear to look at—especially if they were in unable to be dyed fibers—and sent them to a women’s correctional facility in NJ who was specifically asking for yarn and tools to knit with—four boxes of it. Another two boxes—mostly of singleton skeins and the rest of her Boye aluminum straight needles I gave to a local nursing home when I moved to Seattle. That left me with about 2/3 of the original.

Taking advice from Sally Melville’s first book helped be do away with quit

Acrylic and woll
rylic and woll

e a bit more, but time was ticking and I wasn’t really making a dent in it. In the Fall of 2014 I got laid off of work. I was rehired, but took a two month leave to “recover”. During that time I photographed the yarns and started posting them and my more recently completed projects on Ravelry. I’d always been a casual user until those two months, now it is rare that a day goes by without me being on it or introducing someone to the site.

My first mistake was not adding prices. This got me bumped from a group where you could post. Then, not having a blog (as you can see this one is recently addressed) worked against me. I needed a place to post my designs and yarns where they could persist. So here we are. What prompted me to move on this was that I found ANOTHER box of yarn in a clear plastic container that I had not catalogued, photographed and posted in my stash. Might there be more? Anything is possible.

Mercerized cotton
Mercerized cotton

I’ve had pretty good luck just posting on my stash under ‘will trade or sell’. But this site I plan to dedicate to designs I’ve created myself to use up the stuff and to the yarns themselves—several of them may pre-date WWII. Some so old, they just say “Ribbon Yarn” rather than having a name. Most from foreign countries. Many, simply one offs. What is left is beautiful and what I want to do is share. Enjoy!