Saturday, February 15, 2014

Warming up for Stitches West

We are less than a week away from Stitches West! I'm doing my best to wrap up lots of work before leaving for a few days surrounded by knitters and crocheters. I have several things I'd like to share with you.

First, I was proud to be invited to contribute to the Halos of Hope Designer Invitational Hat Collection. Halos of Hope is an organization founded by the remarkable Pam Haschke to collect and distribute handmade hats to cancer centers around the country. Your purchase of my pattern, or any pattern from this collection, will help fund these efforts. Click on over to their website to learn about their mission and how you can help.
My design was inspired by the cloche style hats popular in the 1920's and 30's. I've always been struck by how the slightly flared brim of these hats frames the face and focuses attention on the eyes. In a soft cotton yarn, this hat will be ultra comfortable, whether or not you have hair.

I've also been designing lots of new projects for my friends at Kollage Yarns, featuring the newest addition to their line - Happiness. This superwash merino wool is spun and hand-dyed in the USA, and comes in fingering, DK and worsted weights.

Mitts yet to be named

Since getting this yarn last month at TNNA, I've made 3 hats, 2 cowls and shawl and a pair of long fingerless mitts. Kits for these designs will be available in the Kollage Yarns booth at TNNA (booth #824). That's also where you'll find me - I'll be working in the booth all weekend. Please stop in and say hello!
Maritsa Cowl
Arches Hat
Tidepool Shawl

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A weekend spent among my people

Today is my re-entry day. I sort the mail, do the laundry, and avoid work as much as possible. Today is my day to recover.

What am I recovering from? The semi-annual trade show of the National Needlework Association, known as TNNA. This past weekend, the knitting, crochet and needlework industry gathered in beautiful San Diego.
This was the view from my hotel room at sunrise on Saturday. Not bad, eh?

While I spent the show working in the Kollage Yarns booth with my friends Mark and Susie Moraca, for me the show is mostly about relationship maintenance. 90% of my work is done at my desk at home. This gathering is the opportunity to re-connect with friends, clients and potential clients, and to polish the rust off my social skills.

After setting up the booth on Friday, I joined Marnie MacLean and Julia Trice for the Friday night festivities. These included a cocktail reception and fashion show. There was a photo booth set up at the party. We decided to forego the available props, but this strip of pics is pinned over my desk as a reminder of a great time.
We went to dinner after the Fashion Show at a fun Mexican restaurant. It was Julia's birthday, so margaritas were mandatory.

Saturday brought a full day in the booth, then dinner with the wonderful Amy Gunderson, Design Director for Universal Yarn. It's a good thing Amy doesn't live closer, because she and I would spend every evening together drinking and talking into the wee hours.

Sunday was another full day in the booth, then dinner with the brilliant Julia Grunau, Prime Minister of, and Travis and Sara Romaine from Paradise Fibers. We went to a Russian restaurant. The only thing on the menu that was familiar to me was beef stroganoff (and I didn't think that Hamburger Helper Stroganoff was really a reasonable analog), so I was glad that Mark suggested we have the waitress order for us. The feast that followed was an incredible array of unusual flavor combinations. Russian food - who knew?

Monday began with a breakfast meeting with the brilliant Amy Herzog. I'm proud to be working with Amy to tech edit her upcoming book, so we had lots to talk about. She is also excellent company. If you haven't explored her new custom knitting pattern website, Custom Fit, click on over and spend some time. She is dedicated to enabling knitters to produce clothing that makes them feel beautiful. Isn't that a great mission?

The rest of Monday was spent in the booth. What were we showing? Let me give you a sneak peak of a yarn so new, it doesn't yet have labels.

Meet Happiness...

This is a superwash merino that Kollage Yarns just introduced at this show. It is spun and hand dyed by a small, family-owned mill here in the United States. Now hand-dyed merino is not unusual, but having this yarn spun in America is. I really appreciate Mark and Susie's commitment to creating American jobs.

Happiness will be available in worsted, DK and fingering weights in a delicious palette of 30 semi-solid colors. Kollage will have it for sale at Stitches West (only 6 weeks away!), and it will be shipping to local yarn shops soon.

I've cast-on for a Fair Isle hat, and will be working on new designs for all three weights. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The virtues of early flights

I'm at the airport, waiting to board my 7:00 am flight to San Diego for the gathering of the clan known as the National Needlework Association trade show.
SFO is a 90 minute drive from my house, so early morning flights mean getting up in the middle of the night and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in the pre-dawn hours. Most people would choose to fly later in the day. That is exactly why I often choose this sort of itinerary.
At 6 am, the airport is calm. The lines are short, and the staff haven't yet had time to remember that they detest the flying public. I can easily find a quiet corner to sit with my coffee and my knitting, without feeling oppressed by the crowd and the noise.
Also, TSA pre-check rocks. I don't know how I got on their "low threat" list, but I'm grateful. No more undressing, no need to empty my bag before screening. It feels like a return to pre-September 11 travel. What a pleasure to begin a trip with minimal stress.
I'm so happy to be traveling to spend time with friends I see far too infrequently. Watch this space for a report on the trade show early next week.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Setting the Stage

As the new year begins,  I've decided it's time to revive this long neglected blog. After a hiatus of 8 months, I'm feeling like it's time to engage with the world via this medium once again.

Are you someone who makes resolutions? I'm not, but I do believe in beginning the year as you intend to continue. Hence, this blog post. Here's what else I've done in preparation for New Year's Day:
  • My desk is tidy. I have plenty of work to do, but no work that is overdue.
  • My bookkeeping is current. My bills are paid. I have cash in my wallet and money in the bank.
  • My house is clean. (At least, as clean as it gets. After all, I'm still me, and housekeeping is an area where my standards are remarkably low). All the laundry is done, and there are fresh linens on the beds.
  • My kitchen is stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains (plus a slice of cheesecake for a year end splurge).

Here's hoping 2014 is a year of peace and prosperity for us all. May your days be filled with grace, kindness and creativity.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Say Hello to Spoleto

The Spring/Summer issue of Twist Collective is up, and I'm delighted to be included. In addition to my article about tips and tricks for knitting lace, the issue includes my new shawl design, Spoleto.

This piece was inspired by my love of outdoor theater in the summertime. I am fortunate to live in an area where summer Shakespeare festivals abound, and few things make me happier than taking a simple picnic and a good bottle of wine to a local park to spend the evening watching a play. The Spoleto Festival in Charleston is renowned for the quality of their music and theater productions. I've never been, but I'd love to go, and I just love the feel of the word Spoleto in my mouth.

I wanted this shawl to be a piece that you could drape artfully around your neck as a scarf while the day's warmth lingered in the air, then wrap around your shoulders as the evening cool settled in. Linear panels of moss stitch and simple lace make it easy to fold the shawl into accordion pleats. There is more solid moss stitch in the center of the shawl, where you want the warmth on your back and shoulders, and more lace toward the ends for a delicate finish. Seed beads are sprinkled throughout for just a touch of sparkle.

The yarn is Simply Fine from the wonderful people at Green Mountain Spinnery, in an absolutely juicy hand-dyed color called Melonball. This fingering weight blend of wool and mohair gives just the right balance of warmth and drape. I chose size 6 transparent gold seed beads with an iridescent finish. I prefer that beads provide a subtle accent, not be the focal point of a piece. They don't show up very well in photos, but are just glorious in person. No pre-stringing of beads is required - the beads are added to the appropriate stitches with a small crochet hook.

Thanks to Jane Heller for the wonderful photographs, and to Kate Gilbert for the beautiful styling. I love that the model looks so natural and happy - like she has just come in from the outdoors.

Monday, February 25, 2013


I'm suffering a bit from a Stitches West hangover.
First, let me tell you that this is not one of those blog posts that is rich in visuals. When I'm busy, I completely forget that I have multiple cameras tucked into my bag. Taking pictures simply doesn't occur to me. So instead of showing you photos of all the knitting superstars I met, or all the gorgeous booths, or the yarn out the wazoo, I'll just tell you this....

1. I love spending a weekend among my tribe. I got to talk with some of my favorite people in the world.

2. The knitting business is filled with the smartest, funniest, most creative and generous women I know.

3. I didn't teach this weekend. I spent the weekend working with my friends from Kollage Yarns in their booth in the market. As a result, I had the opportunity to talk about my designs with lots of knitters.

4. Things that make my heart go pitter-patter:

  • Seeing someone wearing a piece that I designed. They saw a picture or sample, liked it, bought yarn, and spent their valuable time making something that started out as a idea in my head. Then they actually liked the finished product enough to wear it in public.  Amazing.
  • Hearing that people look forward to reading the technical articles I write for Twist Collective. Perhaps that should be amended to be: Hearing that anyone other than my mother actually reads what I write.
  • Having students tell me that they are using the information and skills learned in a class they took with me.
  • Having a designer seek me out, introduce herself and tell me that she has learned a lot from my editing of her pattern.

5. Four days of standing on concrete makes me ache from the knees down.

6. Contrary to popular belief, the perfect booth snack is not Girl Scout cookies (not that there is anything wrong with Girl Scout cookies). The perfect booth snack is Cuties, a trade name for seedless Mandarin oranges. Easy to peel, not messy, smells wonderful, and a marvelous hit of sweet and juicy when your energy starts to fade in the afternoon. Want to make a friend? Hand them a Cutie. Next year I'm bringing 2 bags instead of 1.

7. I didn't shop. Really, I didn't. We were so busy in the booth that there were aisles of the market I never even saw. And seriously, did I need to buy anything? No.

8. Despite not shopping, I managed to come home with 2 braids of hand dyed BFL from Shady K Fibers which will make the acquaintance of my spinning wheel this week.

If you get the opportunity to attend Stitches, or a similar event, I hope you jump on it, and I hope you love it as much as I do.

Enough. Laundry awaits.

Monday, February 18, 2013

It's Stitches West Week!

Can you feel the excitement building for Stitches West? It begins on Thursday, February 21 and runs through Sunday the 24th.

I'll be working with my friends from Kollage Yarns in their booth, #513-515.  We'll be showing my new designs for Spring, some of which will also be in the Fashion Show on Friday night.

I'll also be representing Twist Collective at the show.  Come find me in the Kollage booth wearing something made from a Twist Collective pattern, and I'll give you a little present. I'll even tweet a photo of you. Keep your eye out for the ShowUsYourTwist hashtag!

Many new knitting shows have started up in the past several years, but Stitches West remains the biggest and the best. The most classes, the best line-up of teachers, and a market hall that will give you the vapors all await us in Santa Clara.

 Will I see you there?

PS - I'm still recovering from the finale of Season 3 of Downton Abbey. When Matthew was driving down that narrow road, I was hiding my eyes moaning "no, no, no". Ripped my heart out.