Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A March of Projects

Last night was knit night at Fin's coffee and since it was pouring rain everyone was bundled up.

You see, though its the end of June and I live in Santa Cruz, CA, land of the surfers, beach goers and liberals, it rains here at the most random times. It also snows every year for a about a day and when I was in high school it was tradition to ditch on that day and go down to the beach with coffee and watch it snow.

Now that I'm older, and have lived in snow, I learned that I'd rather be inside drinking something warm and watching it rain while I knit. Which is how these all got brought out for show and tell.

These are my second pair of mittens that are perfect in the thumb but too big in the hand (and the first where too big in the thumb and too small in the hand):
They are made from one strand of Isager Strik Alpaca 2 and one strand of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light held together using the Basic Four Needle Mittens - Super Fine by Patons pattern. They are the softest mittens I have ever made.

Then there is the Celtic Cable Neckwarmer that I had read I could make with one skein of Berroco Jasper. That was a lie because I needed to knit 2 more inches and the button band when I ran out of yarn and it had been discontinued. It took me 6 months to track down another ball of it in someone's stash that was willing to sell it to me. I have to finish it this year because I always imagine myself wearing it while my folks and I pick out our pumpkins for Halloween.

Many people showed finished works and I was a moron and forgot to take pictures of all but Clare's shawl:
Claire is wonderful and so enthusiastic about yarn that I want to be her when I grow up. She is coming over with Penny (who has such great sass) on Sunday to dye yarn.

So last night I felt blessed. I had my cake and tea while knitting on my Reunion cowl surrounded by friends.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Christmas has Come Early

A few weeks ago I made up the Christmas list of things I need to buy and make for people. I always try to start early so that I can relax and enjoy the holidays.

Granted last year was a learning experience that caused many gifts to be opened with notes that said it would be done within the week because I had 3 major things go wrong:

1) The 4 pairs of slippers I made out of silk/cashmere/wool would not felt. They actually grew bigger and this was about 1 week before Christmas.

2) The fact that I lost a lot of sleep over a pair of mittens for my mom. She's allergic to animal fibers (wool, angora, cashmere, camel and alpaca have been tried), and her hands are always cold. I had some red acrylic and some purple cotton and a plan to make mittens out of one of these yarns. Well increases and decreases with these yarns stand out like a goth girl at church. Both got frogged and she got a hat and scarf set.

3) I forgot my directions to my dad's sweater at my place in San Mateo and I was at Ben's for most of December in Watsonville. My dad has a 50" chest and I had to rewrite most of the directions for the arm holes since the pattern I had was not the right size and it was not written for the body to be knit in the round. I ended up writing new directions, frogging to the bottom of the arm holes and starting over from there.

This taught me to swatch and toss that sucker in the dryer, to finish my mother's silk gloves this year, and to put all my notes on my Ravelry project page.

This year has been rocky. I had ordered the yarn to make three Fair Isle Tams, made a swatch and tossed it into the washer to find it does not felt. That went into the return box with yarn for a sweater that was a little too dark for me.

I then set my sights on the Pretty Thing cowl and though I got gauge, it turned out to be too small. I have a 20" crown and it is 16 inches. Turns out my friend Kristin's daughter likes it, so I'm making Kristin's entire family a hat or cowl each, in exchange for 3 skirts since Kristin sews more then I do. Here is 5 year old Genna's cowl:

I have 3 more cowls to make as well for 2 of my grandmothers and Kristin. I do not know what I'll do for my aunt Bobby this year, but I think a bag will be the answer. I always think she looks good in Jackie Kennedy type things.

In exchange for the yarn that will not felt and the too dark sweater, I'm getting enough yarn to do two Carnaby Skirts, Kristin's cowl, and another Reunion Cowl for myself!

Here is the Reunion Cowl I'm currently working on and I'm in love:

I'm using unknown silk/wool yarn from the stash that I got ages ago from WEBS. The pattern is so simple it has for the most part replaced my movie sock, is soft as a baby's bottom and drapes beautifully.

I'll be using it to keep me company till I get the yarn to dye on Tuesday (UPS has informed me there is a shipping delay), and Ben is at this very moment making me a skein winder. 

I'm helping by staying out of the way.


After talking about sheep yesterday I thought I would share the joy of some Spring lambs we saw last time my parents and I went to my Grandma Sue's:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ready to Bloom

Back in February I got to go to one of my favorite places in the world. My grandmother Sue's house.

Now I have 6 grandmothers, and the thing that makes Sue's house so special is what I get to do when my parents and I visit.

We try at least 3 places to eat each time (lunch, dessert and a snack to take on the road back), we go see local wild life, visit farms and sheep, go to the Knitterly, and we always stop at the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Bank.

I love going to the seed bank to pick up the seeds I'll plant for the spring and summer. Last year Anna and I had loads of heirloom tomatoes. This year I moved in with Ben and we only have a small flower patch in the front yard and I planted sweat peas and morning glories. Ever since I planted them I've been checking them daily to see how they are and yesterday morning I was overjoyed to see:

It is really that pink and one of my sweet peas is getting ready to bloom yellow. I also have a hydrangea bush that is giving me lovely flowers to place around the house:

The flowers seem to be wishing everyone a happy summer!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Getting Ready!

The dye day is 10 days away!

In my excitement I realized I have to get the etsy shop up and at least working. Its nothing real pretty just yet but it has options for custom dye orders currently, a banner and the basics filled in. I'm still waiting for my logo to be finished and when that happens the lovely graphic artist I have enlisted for the logo might be doing the banner as well.

So please visit the shop!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Can't Sit Still

The yarn has shipped!

It'll be here on Monday the 27th and that gives me 4 days to skein it all after work, 2 days to dye and 1 to reskein over 30 skeins of yarn, (not to mention package the kits)!

It has also been proven that I am incapable of making a decision so I ordered all the things I need to dye, but not the actual dye! I just can't settle on the colors!

Now the plan is when I need a great break from skeining yarn I'm going to head off to Monarch Knitting & Quilts to pick up the dyes the morning that I'm to dye! Crazy eh?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Friends, Family, and Yarn

This weekend has been an exciting one!

First my best friend Anna and I went to Cache Creek and discussed the upcoming business plan I have, got lost and ended up in West Sacramento. Eventually we made it there, lost the money we brought (we only bring cash and there is a rule between us that we're not allowed to hit the ATM at the casino), but we had a great time just hanging out.

For those that do not know, Anna is my best friend. She is this crazy brilliant artist that has been my roommate off and on for years. She is learning to knit, knows how to crochet and weave, can paint, make paper, does jewelry and metal work, sculpts, loves food and cheap wine, and at times we've been able to spend half our paychecks together over cheese, wine, bread and desserts.

She also loves to cook and just spent 3 weeks in China last month visiting family, which is how this came about:

We had a memorial day barbecue with friends and one of the guy's took over the grill and decided that he wanted to start with new fresh coals so he dumped the old ones in the garden in the backyard. Anna's mother (who is also her landlord) sees these coals thirty mins later and since we're all in the front yarn and not the back we did not see her shovel the coals into the old compost bin. An hour later Anna goes out to take out the trash and found the bin on fire. Lots of water later the picture above is what we have and Anna and I are trying to figure what happened.

She also got me this awesome bunny apron in China:

Second eventful thing was father's day. 

My dad and I are very similar. We both love comics, good food, photography, animals, geeky jokes, and we're both so similar my mom cannot stand it some days. We went to breakfast early with my grandma and mom then to X-Men which was great! I have some issues with the details they changed (Moira was a Scottish  scientist not a CIA agent and the development of certain machines), but in the end it worked pretty well and I think it'll be a huge improvement over the last 3 X-Men movies (which I hate for the way they messed with the Phoenix story line).

Lastly, I placed THE yarn order. Its the first and I'm on a tight schedule for dyeing, but I can do it.

When I look back I will say that the business was born on this date...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Meet the Knit Group

About twice a month I'm able to haul my butt to Fins Coffee in Santa Cruz. The group meets once a week but usually due to plans with Ben I'm only able to escape to the group twice a month.

Now I was going to post a picture of us but the lighting was all wrong, no one was prepared for a photo, and you can't see what the hell we're knitting. So to calm the need for wool in our souls today here are pictures of what I'm currently knitting:

Its the Victorian Scarf made out of Chroma in Regency. Its the second one of these I have made and for some reason I cannot memorize the pattern for the life of me -_-.... It's 8 total rows, 4 of those are plain purl, and it makes hearts/arrows. What could be simpler? I can get the middle part with the yarn overs but because of the scalloped edge I can't memorize it.

Other then my inability to memorize the pattern, its a great knit! I have used worseted weight yarn with a size 10.5US and its only taken one season of Sons of Anarchy and one knit night to knit it up.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nom nom .... Coconut Shrimp...

Back in early May Ben and I went to Jamaica for a wedding. The place was gorgeous beyond words, the food was spectacular, and the rum punch did not even taste like it was spiked. I got to wear a bathing suit with a sarong most of the time and eat a lot fish. I love fish and I love shrimp, but if their deep fried they’re the best thing to eat in my book.

Well Monday morning rolled around and I was thinking of how much I would love to go back to Jamaica just for the coconut shrimp that they served at the wedding. My cube mates did not help with the craving by saying how much they would love some too. I ended up texting Ben with a shopping list and this is what happened:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Now for Something Completely Different

Okay I know the blog has been kind of boring with all the talk about small businesses and why you should support them. But I have finally gotten the pictures off my camera!

Over the last few weeks my boyfriend (Ben) and I have been trying to find time to go kayaking. The boating company we work for allows us to rent kayaks for free on the weekend and it seems like every time we have tried either his schedule gets changed or the weather is so bad we just sit at home. This weekend however was overcast, but we still went out and I got some great shots of the wild life at Elkhorn Slough:
We followed this gentleman above for about a half hour till he switched side of the bank and met up with this guy:

When I first started taking photos I was having issues because it was too bright to see the preview screen so I just took a few on faith and ended up with some other great shots:

Afterwards we rewarded ourselves with burritos from Los Lomas Market. You have not lived till you have one of their pulled pork burritos with lot and lots of green sauce (really it’s the sauce that they make there that makes the trip worth it).

Monday, June 6, 2011

About Small Businesses

This past Friday I went to a get together at a friend’s house. It was everything a good grown up party should have been. The food was hot dogs with themes from around the world (my bf and I were Thailand which was cilantro, shredded carrots and peanut sauce, so you get the idea). While it was mainly work people I got to expand my network and got into a conversation with another small business owner.

His business produces wind chimes for your car and while our products are miles away from each other we had a grand old time talking shop. Now not only were our products miles apart, but he is in a partnership, I’m a sole proprietor, he produces in China, I’m all about using products and mills in the US (its even better when I get to meet the sheep), he is marketing to a very small niche, and I’m marketing to knitter’s in general (granted its sock yarn but you’ll be seeing fingerless mitten patterns, baby sweaters, hats and other things).

His goal is to do a mail order business and since he is a partnership and produces in China he had a large start up cost and his taxes are going to be so easy, so I could not ask him for too much advice. But we discussed what it takes to make a small business succeed.

Now rather then going into this huge long thing about what you need to do it I’m going to cut to the chase. It’s the person or people running the business. They have to be driven, ready for the hard times and the good times, and they have to plan ahead.

People that are not planners need to look at a partner that can plan, and do anything they can’t. Usually there is a planner and a person that comes up with ideas. It’s a very yin and yang thing. I’m kind of a control freak so being a sole proprietor is my way of making sure I did not kill a partner, but I have great friends that always offer ideas and are willing to get messy in the dye in exchange for yarn.

I actually have a friend coming over in a couple weeks to dye the first official batch! So stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Support Small Business and Local Businesses

I have lived and worked at places that support small business for most of my life.

Growing up in Santa Cruz, CA I remember stopping by the corner fruit stand and picking up strawberries that had been grown 20 miles away in Watsonville, where I now live. I went to local bakeries and even worked at Gayle’s. “There is only one and will only be one”, the founder, Gayle, will tell you. I’ve also worked at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park and my mother still works there. When I can’t make it to Menlo Park I shop at Logo’s and Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Now how many of us love our small businesses? The cheerful personal service, the romance of picking up warm fresh baked bread, the feeling of mystery when we’re in a dark cafĂ©, and we all think “We need to share this place. “

Well really you do need to share these places with everyone you know, because without support they close. I remember Tiny’s on 41st from when I was a kid. The first time I went to the hospital my mother took me there after to get a treat for being so brave. Now I pass the building it was in and IHOP is now there and I can’t help but feel sad.

Not only do small businesses create unique memories and every block looking unique, but they create jobs right in your neighborhood.

Here is an example of jobs created by supporting your local fiber festivals/yarn shops when you buy small business yarns, aka the people who actually touch the materials (so no accountants, landlords, electricians, ect will be listed):

Shop- Ran by 3+ people or Fiber Fest – 50+

Dyers- 2+ Me and on occasion a friend to help dye, run booths, and the pizza guys that keeps us fueled (very important man as is my bf that gets me a beer after clean up)

Hardware store for drop clothes, bottles for dye, tables, buckets, clothes to be ruined, goggles, ect – 15+

Craft shop for dyes and citrus acid – 15+

Mill I order the yarn from – 10+

Ranch the sheep with the wool are at – 5+

Shopping at your local yarn store supports 50 minimum*

Shopping at your local fiber festival 97 minimum*

*This is a minimum. I know stores that are manned by 2 people and some that are manned by 10+, my hardware store is local and small, the mill could use more people perhaps, and ranches can have more people too. Clearly this is an estimate.

Point is that by supporting locally you put money back into your community and create jobs that can circulate more money into the area.

Listen to the Yarn Harlot’s Yknit podcast 19 “Fist Full of Fibers”. She talks about how artists create money in local communities and jobs in any country. Being an artist is also one of the oldest professions around (not the oldest, as we all know what that is, but there are cave paintings that are pretty darn old).

So please support your local bookstores, bakeries, yarn shops, and grocers before you go to the big box stores. Think of how the money you spend locally goes back to your town’s roads, schools, police officers, firefighters and parks.

Votes for a Grant Update: 42 Votes and at 97 in the ranks!

Please ask friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and anyone you know to vote! Post a link on your Facebook or your blog please! The goal is 100 people by Saturday night!