Monday, March 27, 2006

Portland. . . The Marathon Post

So I haven't posted for a while because I had finals and then went to Portland for spring break. It was a nice break. I have been to Portland somewhere around 10 times and I had never done anything in Portland, in fact I had only actually gotten out of my car in the actually city once. That is because we are always visiting family in a suburb of Portland. This time, though, I declared it a true vacation and we went all out tourist. (Well maybe not all out, as I forgot my camera, but we did have a map)
So naturally, as a part of any Vacation from Yarnnation, there was a long list of yarn stores to be visited. I actually made it to seven of them. I will outline my experience below, but first, the non-yarn activities. If you aren't interested in the other stuff, I highlighted where I started the Yarn store critiques.

The Orchid Thai: Our first restaurant, we are supper picky about Thai food, we gave it a 6.5, which actually is pretty good, as we have only ever given a 10 to one restaurant.

The Purl District: Supper cute neighborhood, very walkable, great home furnishing stores, a delightful paper store, a cute pet store (and two serendipitous yarn stores- more to come)

Pho Van: YUM, I had Pho (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup-so good) The Duke ordered half a chicken, which he thought was going to be half a chicken breast, not so. . . he was a little overwhelmed, but liked it OK. I told him he should have ordered Pho, he is not very adventureous. Score: 7 (The Duke brought that down a little.)

Old China Town: We may have missed the good part, but I would skip it next time.

Washington Park Vietnam Memorial: Our favorite part of the whole vacation (yes, including the yarn stores.) It was peaceful, sacred, meaningful. A bag pipe player played in the memorial while we were there.

Al's: So the Duke and I have a problem yard. It's just too shady for anything to grow, so the Duke's aunt took us to this cool nursery and even bought us a shade loving hydrangea. It was a very cool nursery. I hope the hydrangea will be happy here in Yarnnation.

Mexican/Peruvian restaurant: I have no idea what it called, Aunt and Uncle took us there, I had chili verde (why do I order things that I am so picky about?) score: 6

Chicks at the feed store: yes that is what I said, live baby chickens, very cute!

The Portland Zoo: We love zoos! It's a good one, but we think we like Woodland Park Zoo better, as a whole, but they are quite different, so it's worth the trip. I loved the penguins, and the orangutan (I don't know how to spell that.) Although, it is hard to see them behind glass, they are so human like, it seems wrong. One complaint- I HATE bats. That's like putting rats in a zoo, who wants to see that, not me and they STINK! YUK!


Now down to the knitty gritty.

1. Knit Knot Studio: Just stumbled on this one in the Purl District. It's a tiny little yarn store, very cute and cozy, good yarns, but the best thing about this is the owner, Elizabeth, she was so engaging even the Duke enjoyed the visit. She also sells her knitted items in the shop. Nothing Purchased (I was being good!)
2. Dublin Bay Knitting Company: This one was listed in the Pearl District walking map we picked up along the way. It was a nice space, had only been open a month and did not have a good inventory built up yet. This could have been forgivable had they had something unusual, but they didn't, or if their staff was super friendly, but they weren't, they weren't rude or anything, but they were the stay behind the counter and make small talk if required type. Nothing Purchased.
3. Molehill Farms: This one is in Lake Oswego, OR. It is in a little house, there was only one woman working there, but she was very nice, she gave us a tour of the store, very cute, but nothing unusual. A LOT of baby yarn. They must carry every color of Stork there is. At least they know their clientele. I did buy a coupld of balls of Plymouth Linen Ilse here, I had never seen it before, so that was a find. I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet though.
4. Wool n' Wares in West Linn. This is the little shop right near our relative house. I can actually walk there from their house. I go there every time I am there, and always have a nice chat with the owner. I was tempted by Cascade's Pima Tensel, but I refrained. SIGH
5. Knit Purl: This is my new second favorite yarn store (after Hilltop of course,) and lucky for all of you that haven't been there yet, they have a very cool website
Supper friendly staff and owner, they have a lovely line of patterns called Shibui Knits. very cute. They also have this to-die-for yarn from a company called Loom In Essence. She is a one woman show and the only place you can buy her lovely yarns, is Knit Purl. I didn't buy any, SIGH, but only because they didn't have the color that I wanted. But it will be added to my outrageous stash in the future. Now don't get me wrong, just because I didn't buy that didn't mean that my stash didn't grow while I was there. I left with some lovely silk from Habu in this gorgeous orange, and four balls of Louisa Harding's new cotton, Nautical Cotton in two shades of green. So pretty.
6. Lint. . . -- So this is a really cool space, unfortunately the staff is also very cool, or cold I should say. I was in there for half an hour and I was acknowledged, somewhat half minded, after about 10 min., and then ignored for the rest of the time. Even when I tried to start a conversation, I was not well received. So sad because this could be a really nice store. I did think they had some nice jewelry.
7. The Yarn Garden - OK, this place is insane. I have never been in a yarn store that tries to carry EVERYTHING! There was so much yarn in this store I couldn't believe it. There were also a lot of people in the store. Merchandising is not their strong point, but you can be pretty sure they will have enough of what you want, if you can figure out what you want. The staff seemed nice enough, but they were too few and too busy. They do have a very nice little coffee shop attached, a nice little respite from the busy store. No purchase, but I will go back.

Whew, well if you actually made it through this marathon post. . . Well you get a cookie. Now go to the kitchen and start baking! (oh and feel free to send me one too!) :)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sisterly Love

There are few things that I enjoy more than knitting and talking with my 'baby' sister, Princess P. So while I was visiting her in December, she brought out a georgous Jeager sweater vest she had knit (photo included.) She, being the very naughty Princess that she is, had not checked her guage before knitting it and it turned out a little too big for her. I being the so sweet sister that I am offered to rescue this beautiful vest from the neglected corners of her closet. She sadly agreed on the condition that I knit something for her. Little did I know. . .
She brought me out fuzzy looking mess of yarn and handed me her copy of Debbie Stoller's first book. She had knit the Spiderweb capelet in that book twice, even with the errata, she couldn't get it to work. It was a mess. She had all ready ripped it out once and couldn't bear to do it again. So I took it home with me.
This is, hand's down, the worst pattern I have ever worked from. The errata changed the two major pattern rows but didn't change any of the other rows which also had problems. It had been Princess P.'s first attempt at lace, poor thing.
Anyway, it took a little improv, but I love my sister, and I love the Jeager sweater vest, she's worth a little lacy labor of love.
In addition, but completely unrelated to this whole story. My birthday was last month, and because she's my sister she can get away with it, P.P. just sent me a birthday present. She had it made for me, and it was worth the wait. It's perfect, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Peek into Yarnnation

So I was reading Brynne Sutton' s Blog where she talked about cleaning her kitchen, and again you ask what does this have to do with knitting? Oh ye of little faith, it all has to do with knitting. A major problem knitters have, especially very busy moms (like Brynne) and MBA students (like me), is having to chose between knitting and cleaning. Most often I choose knitting, which is really speaking to my knitting addiction, because I am something of neat freak. Occasionally, that inner freak takes over and I go into a manic cleaning phase. I don't just clean, I move couches, I move rugs, I clean baseboards, and I reorganize my yarn stash, thus the yarn inventory-- you see it all relates to knitting. So I thought I would share a little peek into a now very clean Yarnnation.

Yarn Inventory. . . GULP

I have said it before and I will say it again. I am crazy, absolutely crazy, I have a serious problem. On my account at work co-worker Michelle has put a pop-up note that says that no one is allowed to sell me yarn anymore. . . I appreciate the try Michelle, as does the Duke.

So I finally did a yarn inventory. . . Yes I'm ashamed (sort of)

Projects Currently Under Construction
  • Samus on Knitty by Brynne Sutton in Lamb's Pride Worsted color Blood Red (80%)
  • Leave's Wrap, my design for Hilltop in Misty Alpaca's Alpaca Silk Worsted (15%)
  • Modified Basket Weave Scarf, my design in Rowan's CashCotton DK (60%)
  • Baby Blanket, my design in Blue Sky Alpaca's Dyed Cotton (30%)
  • about 5 UFO's (I'm not acknowledging these past this one bullet)

Projects I have purchase Yarn for but haven't started yet

  • Yvette by French Girl in Gusto 10
  • All Eyes on You Poncho (which I am going to make a wrap) by Second Nature Designs in Rowan's Calmer
  • Wire bracelet (including beads) my design
  • Sweater for Duchess (pattern TBD) in Noro's Silk Garden
  • Branching Out on Knitty by Susan Pierce Lawrence in Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool
  • Argyle Scarf, my design in Elsebeth Lavold's Angora
  • Temple Wrap, my design in Rowan's Kid Silk Haze
  • Socks from Melanie Fallicks's Handknit holiday in Rowan's cork
  • Socks shop pattern from Black Sheep (I think) in Cascade's Fixation
  • Surf (for the Duke) by Martin Storey from Rowan's Mag #31 in Cascade 220
  • Ocean (also for the Duke) by Martin Storey also from #31, but out of Rowan's Hand Knit Cotton DK (the Duke really likes Storey's designs)
  • Sweater for me, pattern TBD, in Cascade 200 (beautiful red/brown color)
  • Aran Weight Lace Cropped Cardigan by Ann Cannon-Brown and Michelle Ciccariello on the Elann site

INSANE??? Oh we aren't finished yet

Do I really want to type out all the yarn I have that I just bought because I liked it (and usually it was on sale) and I don't have a pattern in mind for it yet???? Well here's an attempt:

  • Misti Alpaca Lace Weight
  • Rowan's Cotton Tape
  • Rowan's Lurex Shimmer
  • Crystal Palace Little Flowers and Kid Mohair to match
  • Katia Mississippi in several colors
  • Jeager Chamonix
  • Frog Tree Alpaca Lace Weight
  • Lana Grossa Mega Boots Stretch
  • Several Colors of Rowan Kid Silk Haze
  • Lana Grossa Bingo in several colors
  • Rowan Chunky Pring
  • Several colors of Lamb's Pride in both worsted and bulky weight
  • Two color's of Trendsetter Spruce
  • K1C2 Melange
  • A couple of colors of Plymoth's Encore
  • There's a little more, but I'm done

Yup, I'm insane. I also have a big bag of old acrylic yarn that I put away for teaching newbies and a few things for an up and coming yarn swap.

Well, I'm off to bed, like I should have been an hour ago. One day I will be able to sleep when other people sleep and stay awake when other people are awake.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oh Baby

Babies, Babies, Babies. . . It seems like half of the world (the female half) is pregnant. Really, I just have five (only five???) friends who are expecting, so expect to see a lot of baby gear here for a while. I needed some mindless knitting and a baby blanket is just the ticket. There is a fine line, for me, between mindless knitting and tedious knitting. A combination of stockinett stitch and seed stich with a little intarsia color work thrown in keeps it easy but still on the interesting side.

The color choice is not my favorite, but it certainly is traditional baby. My friend is not finding out what she is having, so the colors were a struggle. We went to see them (the friends) this weekend and were able to see their nursery, so that helped. They did it in all pastel colors, so pastels it is. Let me tell you all, I don't know about not finding out what the sex of your baby is going to be. Maybe I'm just high strung (OK I am high strung) but I think a few months to buy appropriate clothes, focus in on one name, etc. could only be a good thing. Oh well, I guess I'm just oppinionated.

The yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca's Dyed Cotton, and what a treat to knit with! The pattern in my own design, and the needle is a US 10 so it is going pretty fast.


So the royal coach of Yarnnation (ie our 2001 Saturn) has a problem with its master cylinder. And what, you ask, does this have to do with knitting? Well it just goes to show that in Yarnnation EVERYTHING has to do with knitting. So here's the yarn. . . (he he)
Our car starts acting up, we get and estimate to fix it, we freak out because we can't afford to fix it and it isn't getting better it's getting worse (of course.) So, the Duke has a very generous grandfather who also has a very fun sense of humor. We asked him for a loan to fix our car. Now grandfather loans are interest free, only have a generalized pay back period (when you can,) and are approved very rapidly. However, do not be mistaken, they do come with some strings (or yarn in this case) attached. Along with the check we received in the mail we also get a document entitled "Pledge." It requires, in consideration for this loan, that we pledge our first born child, with first option on our second (because Grandpa likes pairs.)
Now according to the Queen, this is a very risky deal Grandpa is making, as she is convinced there is never going to be a little one, of Dutch or any other decent, joining our family. To her I say MOTHER, I AM ONLY 27 AND BOTH OF US ARE STILL GRAD STUDENTS- BE PATIENT. Besides, since the Duke and I agreed to the terms of the loan, she is just going to have to wait that much longer. Luckily, she and Grandpa live in the same town. If she's nice maybe he'll let her visit her grand baby!!!
So, how this all comes back to knitting. Well, we knew we had to let Grandpa know we are reliable loanees (and grandchildren) so, I knit a little fishing hat for the "first born" for Grandpa to keep as collateral. We want him to know that while we can make no promise as to the gender of the child, we can offer a child who will happily go fishing with such a loving Grandpa.

The specs: LB Wool-Ease (from my stash- and sad they have discontinued it. . . I really like this yarn), the pattern is my design, the colors aren't very true in the photo mc= light blue green, cc=sky blue.

Daylight offered a new option for color. . . these colors are a little more true to life.