Yarn Crawl

I ended up visiting five yarn stores on my vacation and, like a good knitter, I bought something at every one! Here you go:

My first visit, like two hours after I got off the plane, was to Artfibers, the fabled San Francisco mecca. If I had to compare this store to another, I’d have to say Habu in NYC. Not because they’re anything alike – really they’re not – but because they’re similar in that they’re SO DISSIMILAR to any other yarn store you’ve ever been to. Crazy different.

Artfibers is on the second floor of a building, so there’s no storefront. When you walk in, there’s a desk straight ahead in front of a wall of needles and notions and then it’s just wire shelving everywhere. Little notes identify the yarns and there are lots of swatches and everything’s pretty much on cones, so it’s not like you can really handle the yarn. (Oh but you can! More on that in a minute!) There didn’t seem to be any specific organization to the place, so I wandered around for a bit looking at stuff and made my way to the front of the store where there were a bunch of chairs and a couple of jars of straight needles. I was in the tasting area.

In case you’re not familiar with Artfibers, probably the most unique thing about the place – besides the fabulously different and varied yarns – is the tasting bar. It is allowed and ENCOURAGED for you to make swatches of yarns you’re interested in. I can think of no better way to sell yarn than to have customers actually KNIT with it! There are bins in the back with smallish lots of all of the yarns in the store – many in various colorways – and you just pick your yarn, take a seat and start knitting! It’s FANTASTIC! I made two swatches:

That’s Ming on the left and Kurosawa on the right. Both yarns are 50% silk, 50% extrafine merino – but oh my god they couldn’t be more different. The Ming is an incredibly soft single ply that knit up shows you that it will probably start to pill the minute it’s off the needles. As much as I loved it, I wanted sweater yarn, not something so delicate. So I went to the Kurosawa which is a FOUR ply. It’s like knitting with a fantastically soft cotton. It was a bit splitty in the knitting but the stockinette is just gorgeous.

Lovely, no? I’m seeing a long sleeve v-neck pullover. Simple – to show off the beauty of the yarn. This stuff will knit up nice and tough. I’d be surprised if it pills badly. Incidentally, I bought two cones of color #5.

While I was waiting to pay, I completely fell in love with Fauve.

It’s a cotton, hemp, nylon mix that’s just unlike anything I’ve ever seen knit up. I didn’t have time to make my own swatch, but the one online shows the yarn pretty well. There’s the muted hemp/cotton, and then this sparkly crazy nylon. I bought a little more than 300 yds – I might even make a scarf, I love this stuff so much. It took me forever to pick a color! I drove everyone crazy asking which one they liked best. I ended up with #4.

If you’re ever in San Francisco, you MUST go to Artfibers and knit up a swatch. It really is so different! I loved it!

The other yarn store in SF I wanted to try was ImagiKnit. This is more of a typical yarn store, but they have a TON of yarn. It seemed special enough to make the trip so on our last morning in SF, I hopped in a cab and went WAY across town. It was…okay. The store itself is very nice with a very shabby chic look and two huge rooms filled with yarn. There really is a TON of yarn – most of it’s your typical LYS fare – big names and some little names. I bought my requisite souvenir Koigu:

P900. I bought the last two skeins and even though they’re the same dyelot, they’re pretty different. I also bought some Claudia’s Silk Lace in the superfun Lipstick colorway.

I just love the color. Imagiknit, though, was a bit of a disappointment. Sure, there was yarn galore. Sure the store setting was comfortable and fun and there was LOTS of room. But I got that vibe. You know which vibe I mean. The vibe that says you’re not part of our little clique, which is the only reason we’ve got this huge store in the first place, so we can knit with our friends, and you’re not a friend, so we’ll gladly take your money, but we’re not going to be encouraging about it. It could’ve been me. I’m sure there are people out there reading this thinking this is completely wrong because it’s the best yarn store in the world, but I tried to engage them and they just didn’t care. I even did the embarrassing old lady trick where you try to make conversation with everyone and I felt like I was rebuffed. Anyway, the yarn is pretty and really that’s all that matters. I won’t make the effort next time though.

My next stop was Article Pract, across the Bay Bridge in Oakland. Now there’s a yarn store! The place is PACKED full and it was funky and seems like a lot of fun and I bought the best bag in the universe and it was ON SALE!



OMG! It’s all velvet and soft and the bl
ue faille lining is fantastic and matches perfectly and it fits great on my shoulder and the cutout is perfect for my arm and I love it so much I’m afraid to use it! It’s Offhand Designs, Ursula style and I was so happy I skipped to the car to show G. It’s the Sahara Stripe colorway. I was sorry I didn’t buy any yarn at Article Pract, and while they had lots of yarn, there wasn’t anything super special for me like the bag. I mean, really, I don’t need any yarn. But the woman behind the counter was very nice and really I was just so happy with the bag she could have called me fat and I would’ve thanked her. Yes – it’s THAT good! I would definitely go back to Article Pract. Very nice store.

On our first full day at the Lake, we drove the 72-mile loop that takes you all the way around and on the way we stopped at The Wool Tree in South Lake Tahoe. Unfortunately, they don’t have a website. It was a small, but nice store, with your typical LYS fare. The woman working there was very nice and chatty with me. I ended up with an older Interweave Crochet. Didn’t want to walk out empty handed.

My last yarn store of the trip was Jimmy Beans Wool. I was really hoping to get here and the last night we stayed in Reno, so it wasn’t very far from our hotel. When I walked in they were getting ready for an event later that evening with Ann Norling. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay, but I was certainly invited to. VERY nice group of ladies at the store. VERY nice. Solicitous without being OVERLY solicitous. Fun and funny and it’s a great little store. They have a SUPERIOR collection of Lorna’s Laces and when I asked for the Tahoe colorway, which I didn’t see on the shelf, they checked their inventory and came out with all I needed. I bought the two prizes while I was there and some other contest yarn and I was happy to spend my money with them. I’ve shopped online with them before, and will be happy to do it again.

So that’s the yarn crawl story. I love visiting yarn shops when I travel – most of them are pretty similar, but sometimes you get a nice surprise.

Here’s what I knit on most of my trip:

I’m loving knitting this! It’s my Wing O’ The Moth shawl (details here.) I love the yarn – the color, the feel – and I love the texture of the unblocked lace.


And here it is pulled out a little bit.

I can’t wait to finish and block this baby! I’m just about to the end of the first chart. I think there’s like 40 rows and the edging after that. Not long now.

And this picture is for Ann:

I can’t wait! More on this as soon as Annie gets her share. 😉

244

That’s the winning number. And Alison hit it RIGHT ON! Congratulations Alison! I also happened to pick up two prizes while I was out west, so there’s a random winner as well. Congratulations Rachel! I know you’re dying to know what you win, so without further ado…

That’s two skeins each, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in the, what else, TAHOE colorway, a very cute Lantern Moon cake tape measure, and a box of The Color Collection notecards by me. Hope you like your prizes as much as I LOVED my vacation. Thanks everyone for playing!

244 photographs isn’t really that much for me, but the truth is is that I’m not much of a landscape photographer and Tahoe screams landscapes. I’m also not one to carry my camera with me wherever I go. I love what I photograph – children, yarn, flowers (occasionally these days) but that’s it. And I’ve been working a lot lately with many jobs lined up in the next months so I wanted to relax. Photography is serious business for me – it’s not relaxing. Anyway, that’s the story behind the number. On a job it would be WAY more. WAY WAY more.

The vacation was wonderful and while I’m always happy to come home and sleep in my own bed with my own pillow, I’m already missing Georgie. Monday is going to be very hard when we both go back to work and aren’t together all day. Yeah yeah. We’re gross and in love. Deal with it.

There’s lots to talk about – I worked hard on my Moth shawl while I was away and I’m loving EVERYTHING about it. I’m just about through the first chart – I’ve either got half a repeat or one and a half repeats – I’ve got to count the stitches. I came home lots of yarn to start a new project, which will have me doing my best James Bond impression. Any guesses? And, well, it’s always nice to get back to the blog after a break. I missed you guys.

Here are a few pictures of the lake. The first two were taken at our hotel and the third was taken here. I miss Lake Tahoe. And we really miss SF. We’ll be back again for sure.



It was incredibly fantastic to knit my moth shawl (the fir cone section) surrounded by pine trees while lounging at the banks of the crystal clear lake with snow covered mountains in the distance. My photographs hardly do it justice.

Thanks for reading!

By The Numbers

Number of days on vacation: 3
Number of yarn stores visited: 3 – so far here, here and here.
Number of bloggers I had an impromptu meet-up with at Artfibers: three – Cookie, Hannah and Jeni – LOVE you guys! Thanks for coming out! (And hi Matt! Great to meet you!)
Number of yards of yarn purchased: 3064
Number of rows I’ve knit since I’ve been on vacation: about five
Number of gorgeous Offhand Designs knitting bags purchased: one – it was on sale AND it’s fucking fantastic!
Number of wines we tasted: four
Number of boxes of pockies we bought in Japan Town: one – green tea
Number of times we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge: one
Number of times we drove over the Bay Bridge: two
Temperature in Sacramento: 99 degrees
Temperature in Lake Tahoe: 65 degrees
Amount lost at craps table: $85
Amount won at craps table, all while I was the shooter: $100
Amount I’m ahead at craps: $15. Yeah money!
Number of pounds of camera equipment I lugged across the country: 25
Number of photographs I’ve taken since I got here: 0.00

Guess the number of pictures I will take by the end of my vacation and win some kind of fabulous prize. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m sure it will be FANTASTIC. Leave the number of pictures in a comment on this post and the person who gets closest without going over will win. One entry per customer. Contest ends 11:59 PM EDT Saturday, June 16.

Number of Curious George Riding a Bike T-Shirts that say “Divine Love” purchased on the street in Berkeley, CA: one and it’s priceless.

See you Sunday! We’re having a blast!

Homage

I’ve been so enjoying the entries to the Valentine’s contest – remember – I’m going to close comments at 11:59PM tonight – so you’ve got time to tell me a good story! I’m thinking of doing this more often – not necessarily a contest – but asking for stories from you all. We’ve all got so much to share and I think it helps everyone to hear other people’s stories. NO ONE is alone out there. NO ONE.

Okay – on to the last of my vacation posts! Before I left, I was talking to Margene, and she told me that while I was in Big Sur I should make sure to stop by Nepenthe – the former home of knitting legend Kaffe Fassett! Who knew? I thought the guy was invented by Rowan! Turns out, we were just down the road from Nepenthe, which is a rustic restaurant, cafe and gift shop that overlooks the Pacific from swooning sweeping cliffs. It’s got quite the view!

The gift shop specializes in crafty spiritual stuff from all over the world, and one famous knitter. I looked all around the first floor and couldn’t find anything specifically Kaffe-esque, but then I went downstairs. As soon as you turn the landing, there’s the shrine, in all its glory! (Don’t forget – as always, click on the pictures for a bigger view!)

A woman came over and asked me if I needed help and I asked her if it was okay if I took some pictures of the Kaffe shrine because I had a friend who ADORES Kaffe and I wouldn’t be allowed home if I didn’t get lots of pictures and she said of course! Would I like her to take a picture of me with the shrine in the background? Sure! Why not? That’s sure to make Kay even more jealous!

So here are the goodies in the Kaffe shrine:
We’ve got some books – not for sale – although some of them are for sale upstairs.

We’ve got one of Kaffe’s mosaic tables and a painting:

The card reads:

Kaffe Fassett —— raised in Big Sur and is known around the world for exquisite knitting, magical tapestries, and wearable art as well as brilliant mosaics and painting. The son of Lolly and Bill Fassett, founders of the legendary Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur, Kaffe won the Salamagundi Prize for Painting, studied art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, then ventured to England where he found his muse in textiles.

On a train to Scotland, traveling with the late clothing designer Bill Gibb, Kaffe became enamored with the colors of the country-side, bought 20 odd colors of heathery wools, and asked a woman on the train to teach him to how to knit. The rest is textile history as Fassett has written and published eleven books on various knitting and textile subjects, and tours the world teaching the joys of colorful creative work.

Oh the LEGEND! (FYI: Here’s an article on Kaffe from the Nepenthe website.)

Then there are the sweaters! (And vests. And tables. And tapestries. And quilts. And other crafty delights.)

The labels on those babies all read ROWAN in big letters and I only checked the price tag on one: $800. Yeah. I didn’t buy it. The masterpiece, though, was a couture looking bustier QUILTED dress!


WOW! It was truly beautiful! (Hope you like the pictures Kay!) A couple funny things: first of all – they sold Denise Schmidt quilts upstairs. I thought that was pretty funny. Secondly, when G and I were on a walking tour of the property we stayed at (Ventana Inn – HIGHLY recommended) our guide mentioned Nepenthe and I mentioned Kaffe and how he was literally a ROCK STAR in my insular world and this guy was like Kaffe? Kaffe Fassett? Lolly and Bill’s kid? He seemed to get quite the chuckle out of that. Which just goes to show you, you can’t take the kid out of ANYONE!

Hope you enjoyed my little adventure! Now we can get back to some knitting. I’m working on the hood of my CPH – the sleeves are done and I think I’m going to do a little wet block today. Nona suggested I sew them up first before I attach them to the body – I’ve never set-in a sleeve before so I’m a bit nervous. So finish the hood, do the button bands, sew on the sleeves and VOILA! I’m done. I can taste it really. I think it’s going to be great. Fingers crossed until the last button is sewn on!

Have a great day today – my honey left me a heart note on the computer this morning, then I reciprocated by driving him to the train in the ice and snow. Now that’s love!

Home, Sweet Home

Vacations are great and all, but there’s nothing like being home. The worst part, though, is that G had to go to work today and I miss him so much.

Some highlights from Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California (click for bigger pictures):

It was overcast and rainy the whole time we were there (the whole trip actually except for the day we left) but it was also broody and dramatic and oh so romantic. In honor of my romantic getaway, I’m going to give away a skein of January One and a skein of G-Rocks to one lucky winner. Plus some other stuff like notecards and chibis and stuff. All you have to do to win is leave me a comment and tell me about your best Valentine’s Day, your worst Valentine’s Day, your first love, your last love, anything goes – heartbreak, love connections – the heart’s the limit. One entry per person please. I’ll close the comments at 11:59 PM EST on February 14th and pick the winner right after.

And if you don’t win, or are in the mood for some Valentine’s Day shopping, don’t forget to check out the Lovely Hearts exhibit. Some of the proceeds for each item in the show will go to fight Breast Cancer. I’ve got a picture in there for the taking.

I have so much to tell you about – knitters I met, yarn I bought, shrines I paid homage to – craziness! Re-entry is a bitch. So instead, I’ll just spend the day missing my boy and looking at pictures.

Walking To New Orleans

This time, I’m walking to New Orleans.
I’m walking to New Orleans.
I’m gonna need two pair of shoes,
When I get through walking these blues,
When I get back to New Orleans.
I’ve got my suitcase in my hand.
Now, ain’t that a shame?
I’m leaving here today,
Yes, I’m going back home to stay.
Yes, I’m walking to New Orleans.
You used to be my honey
Til you spent all my money.
No use for you to cry,
I’ll see you by and by.
Cause I’m walking to New Orleans.
I’ve got no time for talking.
I’ve got to keep on walking.
New Orleans is my home.
That’s the reason why I’m goin.’
Yes, I’m walking to New Orleans.
I’m walking to New Orleans.

Georgie’s been singing this for weeks. Fats Domino. Listen to a clip here.
See you next week. Have a great weekend.
L, C

Lawn Guyland is for Knitters

I’m off for a few days of sun, surf and knitty love. See you Wednesday! Knit well and prosper.

Knit. Eat. Sleep.

Rinse. Repeat.

It was a wonderful vacation. We slept great. We ate even better. And, well, I surpassed my knitting goals. There was lots of cuddling and togetherness. A pedicure. A spin out. A suite. All in all, it couldn’t have been better – even though the weather wasn’t as warm as we’d have liked and the wind was a bit too strong. I wouldn’t trade it for the world though.

Here’s what I knit:

I finished the Short Row sleeves. YAY! All that’s left is to weave in the 3,418 ends from the back and the front and seam, do the collar and seam some more. I can taste the end. Hopefully it won’t take another six months to finish.

I finished my Rare Gems sock AND my first Red Hot Sizzling Sock. The RHSS is knit using Ruby Slippers STR with the picot edge modification – I started it Wednesday when I should’ve been packing – managed the picot edge and a couple repeats before it was time for bed. So most of the sock was knit in Florida – including the last couple of repeats and the toe while waiting on the runway for the plane to take off. The flight took about two hours longer than scheduled so I was also able to cast on and start the second Petroglyph sock. I got past the ribbing and a few repeats – but we were watching The Wedding Crashers on the plane and until I got smart and put it down, I screwed up some of the repeats. I’ll rip that today and start the second RHSS as well.

The food was unbelievable. I had what can honestly be described as the best meal of my life. I was dizzy it was so good. We ate at Mark’s in South Beach. For an appetizer I had Jumbo diver scallops, puree of calabaza, guava butter and plantain chip. Georgie had Tartare of yellowfin tuna, avocado, cucumber noodles, lemongrass oil. For dinner I had pistacio crusted lamb chops with brussel sprouts and cauliflower with bacon and pomegranates and potatos au gratin. G had Maine lobster tossed with saffron linguine, roma tomatoes, basil, white beans, English peas and prosciutto, served with roasted garlic crostini. Neither one of could speak the food was so good. (All of the dishes above are on the menu at the website except my lambchops.) I don’t even remember dessert, but it paled compared to the meal.

The next night we ate at Azul in Miami. I started with the butternut squash soup with hazelnuts and G had fried oysters wrapped in salmon, tuna, beef and crab carpaccios. For dinner, Georgie had the halibut and I had the Salmon duo – one side of the plate had poached salmon and the other side had salmon wrapped in mushrooms in a kind of spring roll type wrapping. Yummmm! Dessert here was really a treat though – vanilla souffle with three different sauces – chocolate, rasberry and creme anglaise. So divine.

Every meal we ate was delicious – but these two meals stand out.

What else? We had our first stuck on the runway experience – you know – when they taxi out and it looks like you’re going to take off then they stop the plane and tell you we’ll be sitting here for the next two hours – make yourself comfortable? Yeah. Not too much panic from the anxious claustrophobic girl. The good thing was I had already taken my pre-board Xanax so I was nicely juiced when they made the announcement. I knit along happily on my RHSS and finished it – I was about to kitchener the toe when I couldn’t find my cuticle scissors – I always travel with them. The round tips have been allowed by the TSA for years and years. Anyway, since the plane was a free for all I went up and asked the flight attendants if they had a scissors. Not allowed. But one of them told me she saw a woman knitting a blanket back in coach – let’s go ask her. So I walked to the back of the plane with the flight attendant – but she didn’t have scissors. We talked for a bit about my sock and then I made my way back to the front. Fun times on an airplane.

By the way – in case you’re flying any time soon – customs has completely RELAXED the requirements for knitting needles and such. I used to have a whole system for getting my needles and such through customs – but this time they barely batted and eye and even told me I didn’t have to take my scissors out (I used to put them in the cell phone bin because otherwise they’d rip apart my stuff.) I traveled with addi turbo circulars – from US 1s to US 6s exclusively and had no problems what so ever.

I’ll be making the official announcement tomorrow, but I’m closing down the jaywalker knit along after the giveaway on the 14th. I decided yesterday and as hard as this decision is for me, oh my god what a weight off my shoulders. This thing has taken over my life and that’s not fun. Basically I’ll be shutting down sign-ups tomorrow, because, well, if you haven’t had an update by then, you’re not eligible to win anyway. It’s been an amazing ride, but I kind of want my blog back.

I wanted to add a word cloud which I saw over at Karma’s but I’m having server issues all over the place. When things get back up I’ll add it.
Here it is!

Have a great day!

What I Did on My Summer Vacation…

by Cara.

Super long. Proceed at own risk.

First off, I got a lot of knitting done. Everday we were awakened (early – NY time!) by G’s office with one crisis after another. It wasn’t fun for either of us, but I did get a lot accomplished:


One sock pal sock down (although I need to fix the toe close) and one almost done. I was hoping for two repeats on the plane home last night – I managed to finish all four. Now I only have nine rows of the lace before I do the heel. I should be finished with it in a day or two. I LOVE these socks. Sorry, sock pal, but I’ve been trying them on left and right. (I even tried them on for the flight attendant last night when she asked what I was knitting.)

I’m not usually a big fan of lace socks, but these are different. As G said, there’s just a hint of skin peeking through – and the color of this Koigu is just beautiful. I’m in love. It’s going to be VERY hard to give them up. (That’s okay – I’ll just make myself a pair!)

The pattern is very well written (thank you Evelyn Clark) and it goes so fast, really. I have nothing to complain about at all. (And all that ripping I’ve done – completely my own fault.)

Oh and thanks for all your comments the other day – and thanks Alison for the update!

Here’s a close-up of the lace:



On to the trip details…

[Read more…]

Close your eyes…

and feel the sun rest sweet kisses on your shoulders as it sails out beyond the sea. Smell the cool pine usher in the evening. Hear the birds agree to disagree as the violins envelope the night. Bear witness as the oranges and reds and blues battle against the sky, surrendering to a royal purple. Taste the oaky sweet spice of wine caress your tongue.

I’m still drunk from the evening and I’m pretty sure that the nine glasses of wine that were set before me at dinner has nothing to do with it. It was an abundance of senses and I hope I can do it justice. What a magical evening! Certainly, though, my favorite part of the night was coming down the dark turning hills in the dense fog, the stars peaking through like beacons, the air thick with seawater and pine, the wind rushing in my face, as I sought a place to rest my head. I wanted to dream the night all over again….

We’re back home tomorrow night. Much to report. I’ve missed you all.