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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dragging my feet into the 21st century

I've never been accused of being an early adopter. I don't own a food processor, since my knife works perfectly well. I drive a 20 year old Toyota with a manual transmission. When I had a shop, I had a cash register, not a point of sales system.

So it should come as no surprise that I am accustomed to using an overhead projector when I teach. I like the immediacy of being able to write on my transparencies to illustrate a point. Besides, I don't own a laptop.
I'm headed to Kansas City this weekend to teach at The Studio Knitting & Needlepoint Annual Retreat. When the retreat organizer asked the facility representative about an overhead projector, she was met with peals of laughter. It seems I'm being forced into an upgrade.

Fortunately, I was given an iPad for Christmas. (Thank you, Susie). And contrary to popular belief, it seems the iPad can actually be used for more than Twitter and Words With Friends. A Google search for "best presentation apps for iPad" pointed me at SlideShark.
I've spent the past two days re-creating my visuals in PowerPoint (who knew I had this already on my computer? not me) and uploading them to SlideShark, from which I've downloaded them to my iPad. It has been a steep learning curve, but I'm ridiculously proud of myself. I should be able to project from the iPad using the LCD projector which seems to have replaced the overhead projector while I wasn't paying attention. Wish me luck.

What have I been knitting?
Entrelac samples. I've been asked to teach Basic Entrelac Techniques at FashionKnit in Walnut Creek in March. I haven't taught entrelac since I had the shop, so I've been making samples and developing an outline. Call FashionKnit to sign up - I'd love to see you in class.

And I started a new pair of socks last night, since I'll need travel knitting this weekend. Sitting in my chair watching PBS, I realized I was looking at David Attenborough while knitting with yarn in a color called.....David Attenborough. I know. It's Skinny Bugga from the late lamented Sanguine Gryphon. Merino, cashmere and nylon.

If you want some Skinny Bugga of your own, you can get it from Cephalopod Yarns

Have a great weekend.

Go Niners!

I'll miss the game because I'll be in transit, but my thoughts will be with them.