Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stitches West News and Other Crap

I know what you're thinking.

She's dropped off the face of the earth again.

Unfortunately for those of you who have to listen to me drone on and on about inane shit, it's not true.

In any event, I was waiting until I went to Stitches West this past weekend to post. That, and there was absolutely nothing going on prior to it, so I would have had to tell jokes or something. Since I don't remember any good jokes...

Anyway, this past weekend was Stitches West (I already said that, I know). I was going to go on Friday, but Hubster was so tired from the week's commuting that I took pity on him and decided to brave the crowds over the weekend. Then Saturday came, and I just didn't feel like dragging my lard ass out of the chair. So Sunday it was, come hell or high water.

Since we're not getting any rain, and since I don't believe in hell, I sort of had to go.

Hubster rented me a scooter for the occasion. It was one of those three-wheeled dealies that maneuvers on a dime. Well, it does if you know how to steer the thing. More on that later.

Because Hubster is who he is, he drove me to the Convention Center, got me all set up in the moving people mower, and drove down the street to the office to work while I spent money and played. He's such a good guy. After 21 years, I love him more than the moment we laid eyes on each other. (Handing out Kleenex so you can discretely go "eww" and wipe off whatever surface got covered with goo from coughing loudly.)

The scooter was a godsend. There was no way I could deal with hundreds of vendors and all those aisles even with the walker. So I set it on low speed and entered the place. Nirvana. Those of you who go/have gone know what I'm talking about.

I took a look at the program to see if there was anywhere I had to visit first and, since I wanted to see several vendors, decided to work my way up and down the aisles. That worked just fine until I hit the back section; then that plan fell apart, and I found myself drifting around aimlessly. That was okay, though, because it gave me time to figure out what I wanted to buy.

Since I have enough yarn to build a mountain range, I was looking for gadgets, patterns, books, or anything else unusual and/or different. If there was a yarn I couldn't live without, though, I wasn't going to let the fact that I could knit every minute of every day for the rest of my life and still have a respectable stash stop me.

What surprised me was how empty the place was. Yes, there were a lot of people. Yes, there were a lot of vendors. But I guess because it was the last day, a lot of people had already come and gone, and some of the vendors had already left. I was also surprised that some of the big names weren't there, like Signature Needle Arts. I've already got a set of their DPN's, so I wasn't looking to buy anything from them, but I was still surprised at their absence. It made it a lot easier to drive around, that's for sure. And that went well until I decided to go fondle at Windy Valley Musk Ox's booth.

They had their usual corner booth(s) in the same location as always, so it was simple to find them. Everything was spaced out for easy driving. But I learned a really valuable lesson in that booth.

No matter how large the space looks, it's never large enough to back up in if you're right next to a tall steel display stand holding baskets and baskets of quiviut.

Yes, ladies... yours truly hooked the edge of the stand with the back wheel and pulled the whole fucker down.

Balls of quiviut went bouncing across the floor. Balls of guanaco went shooting under tables. Balls of vicuna went rolling into the aisle. I was horrified, not to mention firmly hooked onto the stand. Fortunately, the lady manning the booth was laughing. She came over, picked up all the balls, and told me that it was great advertising. It was her hope that people would stop, pick up the yarn, fondle it, and have to buy it. It was my hope that I would suddenly vanish in a puff of smoke. She got me unhooked, moved the stand so I could get turned around, and we began a very long conversation about all kinds of things. She was delightful, and when she found out who I worked for, that opened the conversation up to all kinds of things. I was there for a good half-hour before I finally drove off, a little slower and lot sheepisher. That was the one and only accident, though.

I'm always in the market for new bags, so I was delighted to find my very favorite rolling monster yarn container at Purlescence, a lovely store next to Silicon Valley which I must visit some day soon. I bought a new khaki one, stowed it under a table at their booth, and took off to see what else I could find. And therein lay the problem.

It's difficult to buy shit when you already own every gadget known to man. I didn't find one single toy to buy, one single pattern that justified paying close to $10 for, or book which I didn't already have. Hubster wasn't coming until 4:00 p.m. to get me, and it was... 12:30 p.m. Oh shit.

Fortunately, I was able to kill some time at Anna's Yarn Shoppe, which is the place I used to hang out at in Elk Grove before we moved. It was SO nice to see Anna! She looked fabulous, and I was able to catch up on some gossip. It also made me miss home all over again and wish that things had turned out differently. But I tried not to dwell on that and just enjoyed being there again. I hope to go see her at the shop one day soon. When we get new tires on the truck, then I can drive over, but until then...

So now it was about 1:30. I started trolling the aisles, looking for things which I might have missed. That's when I ran into a woodworker who had drop spindles, shuttles, all kinds of other knitting/felting/weaving/spinning items, and... yarn bowls. I have a serious fondness for yarn bowls, and since I didn't have a wooden one, I had to go in there.

Did I find anything? Does a bear shit in the woods? I got this absolutely gorgeous, huge, heavily spalted bowl made of maple. Ken Ledbetter is the artist, although I don't have his card in front of me to tell you the company. It turned out that he knows the good folks at Buffalo Gold, so I wound up spending a good half-hour at his booth, first deciding which bowl to buy, and then talking about people we knew. It was a lovely time, and I highly recommend you look him up if you're in the market for any of the mentioned items. He's out of Tucson.

I went outside for a cancer stick and saw a lady with the coolest boots on. They had long, curly white hair covering them (like my alpaca boots), but looked different, so I struck up a conversation with her. It turns out they were Uggs and the covering was cashmere. I have to get myself a pair. Anyway, during the course of our conversation, it came out that I do what amounts to professional knitting. She asked me to come to her booth when I was done. So I finished my smoke and went in search of her. Her company is called "The Knitting Ranch" out of Colorado, and she asked me if I would begin knitting all new store and show samples for her. This is going to be a long-term project, and it will give me the opportunity to knit all kinds of things out of several different yarns. So I picked up a new gig. I think we'll work in trade, at least until there isn't anything I really want. She has a shitload of good stuff, though, so this will go on a long time. I'm sure you can Google her if you're interested.

When I was done there, it was actually getting close to time for me to go, so I went outside, had another smoke, came back in, went to pick up my yarn caddy, and almost made it to the booth. I ran into this new yarn vendor I hadn't seen before, so I had to check it out. Again, I don't have their company name on hand (I'm so very wel prepared), but their yarn selection is quite large, and the bases they use are absolutely lovely. It seems that they have almost all tonal colors, which is good, since I have very little of them. I was good and bought only one skein. Then I went across the aisle to get my cart and drove outside. Fortunately for me, Hubster came a little early, so I didn't have to wait long. It was beginning to get chilly, and my ass was absolutely killing me. Hubster loaded up the scooter, I climbed in the Jeep, and off we went to the hof brau in Livermore. French Dip for me, beef stroganoff for him. It was a good dinner. Then it was home to the buffalo robe and dozing off while I was watching TV. All in all, it was a good day.

I do have to say, though, that I think the show was better last year. Maybe it was because I went on Friday last year, or maybe it was because Rabbitch was there and I got to visit with her. Regardless, some vendors I was looking forward to seeing weren't there, and one in particular, The Oregon Woodworker, either never showed up or left early, because his space was completely empty. There also wasn't a yarn winding station. But I did run into a lot of old friends, found out that I seem to have a reputation for my knitting (several vendors knew who I was), and just enjoyed being out of the house. I realized it was the first time in a month I had gone outside. That was a bit depressing, but once Hubster gets his pre-tax medical spending card, we're buying a scooter. Then I can at least tool around town, go down the bike path next to the Delta (if I'm not up to riding my bike), and have a bit of freedom. I think that next year, I'm going to go on Friday, which is the day I usually go on. There's a larger selection of things (for ins trance, several colors of the yarn caddy were sold out), and perhaps there will be additional vendors. No matter what, since I'm back in the Bay Area, it's a show not to be missed.

Here's a picture of the completed sock for Buffalo Gold:

I hope to have the other one done by Friday, so I can drop them off in the mail. I also have another pair underway for them, and for the new shop, she wants me to start with... socks. I've got enough Shibui and Lana Grossa to make a couple of pairs. It'll seem weird to use a commercial yarn after all this time using nothing but indies. The nice thing about those is that she gave me the Shibui pattern book, picked out a couple she liked, and told me to make a medium. For once, I won't have to rewrite the pattern. They're also very simple, so maybe these will go faster than the lace ones I'm working on.

And maybe that imaginary hell will freeze over, too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

And Now For Something Different

What's that, you say? Something different? No morose postings, no griping about my life, no bitching in general? Is this the right blog?

Yes, it is.

I haven't gone so far as to turn over a new leaf. I'm not stoned. I'm just... I don't know. I guess I'm just tired of the same old shit. So let's try something new, shall we? Well, not really new, but something you haven't seen on this blog in a long time.

Knitting. And the bulldog. What's her name again, you say? Oh, that's right... Emma.

Let's start with the knitting.

This is the sock I'm knitting for Buffalo Gold. It's out of their merino/buffalo blend. If you think you're seeing little copper dots on the stitching, you are. It's beaded, although not heavily. Of course, you can't see the lace pattern in all it's glory because it isn't blocked, but you can sort of get an idea of what it's going to look like once it's stretched out.

It's come a lot farther since these pictures were taken. I'm about halfway down the foot, so that means it's going a lot faster now. I hope to have it done by the end of the weekend. And since we're finally going to get rain for the first time in something like 57 days, it'll be wonderful to snuggle down into the buffalo robe and knit my little fingers to the proverbial bone. The lace pattern couldn't be simpler. What took the majority of my time was rewriting the pattern to accommodate a larger foot size. I hate patterns that only give one size (usually medium, it seems) and forget the rest of us big-footed people. Be that as it may, the repeat is only eight stitches, so it was a fairly simple matter to increase the number of repeats I had to do. The tricky part was figuring out how to get the lace to fall evenly on the foot. It took math. And we all know how good I am at math.

I've also ordered a sock loom just for the hell of it. It'll be a nice change of pace, something to dork around with when I get tired of actual knitting. How long I'll actually play with the thing is anyone's guess, but it'll be fun for an evening or two, anyway. I also bought some yarn from See Jayne Knit (you can find her on Etsy by searching for that name). I just ordered a delicious alpaca/silk/cashmere blend in a really interesting colorway to make Hubster a pair of socks. I guess it has charcoal, eggplant, and some other colors in it, but it looks mostly dark (at least in the picture). Because my sainted husband is such a colorful person, he loved it. I knew he would. Getting him into a tan shirt is like me in my tie-dyes.

So how is the four-legged creature, you ask? See for yourself.

That second picture isn't tilted. She is. That's her sleeping next to me (Hubster is a good photographer; he managed to completely avoid getting my big fat ass in the picture) in the buffalo robe-covered chair. She seems to love this hide even more than I do. Anyway, she likes to lean over against the armrest while she sleeps. I don't know why, but she won't put her head on my leg (I prop my legs up on the seat and curl them in front of her). That's reserved for sleepy-time at night, when she sleeps with Hubster on the couch. No... I get her ass firmly pushed against mine. So he gets the slobbering, snoring end, and I get the gassy, stinky end.

Life just ain't fair. And I know her farting on me isn't the same as my macaw barfing in my hand. The first time he did that, I was horrified. Then I found out that it's a sign of affection. Thank goodness people don't show their affection the same way. People think it's weird that Hubster and I sleep on different pieces of family room furniture, instead of in a bed, as it is. I don't want to get a reputation for barfing on each other in our fun time.

Back to knitting.

As you know, my stash has reached hoarding proportions at times. Then I sold off a shitload of it. Now I seem to have gotten into collecting yarn bowls, darning eggs, and nostepinnes. A lovely man named Phil Powell (Custom Wood Designs on Etsy) makes them, and his workmanship is superb. I love exotic woods, and that's his stock in trade. Check him out. As for the yarn bowls, I've bought them from a few different people, but my favorite by far is Jean Ann of Little Pig Pottery. The link is below.

Little Pig Pottery on Etsy

What follows are a couple of pictures of my latest acquisition. Her work isn't inexpensive, but in my humble opinion, it's well worth the price.

That tortoise is BIG. And he's heavy. I don't have my tape measure handy, but he's tall and long. The bowl part is also huge. I keep all my tools in there with the work. I've asked her to make me a buffalo. She's researching it, so hopefully, it'll be something she can figure out. I guess the front end is a bit problematic due to it's sheer size. I have complete faith in her, though. I'm sure she'll not only figure it out, but will turn out something that will be beyond awesome.

All my other yarn bowls, with the exception of one (it has an octopus hanging over the edge with some tentacles on the inside and the rest on the outside), are plain, so they don't warrant taking up space or your time with pictures. That's not to say that they're ugly or pieces of crap - they're not. In fact, they're all lovely. But you all know what a "regular" yarn bowl looks like. Jean Ann's work is extraordinary, so I had to have the Photomeister take a few shots of it.

In keeping with the upbeat tone of this post, I'll share one more tidbit of what's been going on.

You know that holiday we just had, the big one with all the gifts if you're a kid? Yeah, Christmas... that's the one. Well, Hubster and I haven't exchanged Christmas gifts in... uh... ever. So this year, because I got a checkbook app for the iPad and am actually keeping track of our money to the penny, and because of his new job, and because we're living like paupers (with the exception of the wild hairs I get when I buy my toys), we actually had some money to buy each other a gift. Not going apeshit in Reno (we went there for our anniversary, and if I mentioned it in my last post, I apologize - I'm too fucking lazy to read it to see what I said) also helped, even though we didn't win. I've already forgotten what I bought him, but I get my gift this Saturday. What is it? A horse? A Corvette? A bigger diamond?

Nope... although I'd welcome any/all of those things.

It's what amounts to a day of total and complete pampering at a swanky spa in Brentwood.

This place is cool. It's based on Native American spirituality (and you all know what I am and what I practice). I get a 1.5 hour facial, followed by a 1.5 hour massage, followed by a manicure, followed by a pedicure. Lunch is also being served somewhere in there. They have a hot tub in a garden which I fully intend to take advantage of, too (if I can parade around there in the nude, then I can sure as hell put on a swimsuit and plop down in a hot tub in public). Since it's supposed to be raining on Saturday, that makes it even better. There are few things I like better than either swimming or hot tubbing in the rain. I think I get there at 11:00 a.m. and stay until late in the afternoon. Hubster is going to go see the kids while I'm being kneaded, having sweet-smelling crap put on my wrinkled face, and having a Dremel taken to my feet. I can't wait. When we were pseudo-rich, I used to have a lady come to my house once a week and give me an hour-long massage in my bedroom. I haven't had a massage in years, since those days are long gone. The last one I had was given to me for my birthday by the gals at the yarn shop I used to frequent in Elk Grove. Even though it sounds like a true luxury (and it is, don't get me wrong), a good massage really helps with my joints and the pain. So I like to think of it as therapeutic. At least that's what I'm going to tell Hubster the next time I want one.

So that brings me to the end of my happy crappy post. I can't guarantee that my next one will be as upbeat, but this is a good start. There just comes a time when you've bored the shit out of everyone - including yourself - and you can't stand to type one more shitty thing. I've reached that point.

For this week.