Friday, December 19, 2008

Remind me ...

Next year, remind me not to knit things as Christmas gifts. There is no way I'm getting all of this done.

I planned four knitted gifts and I think I'm going to finish two. The third is very close to done and can be given unfinished with a promise to finish it soon. The fourth I began from raw fleece and angora fur and so it's an accomplishment that I got the yarn done. I'll give the yarn and a pattern and promise.

Yipes! This makes knitting not fun. The whole point of knitting is that it's supposed to be a relaxing leisure activity. Not so much when you have a deadline ...

On the lighter side: If you want to see unbearable cuteness, check out Annette's blog. Her new satin babies are adorable ... and full of Christmas spirit!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas at Shakertown

As always, the Friendship Spinner's Christmas retreat at Shakertown was full of laughs, good food, good fiber and friendship. It was a cold weekend with our first real snowfall, but we were all snug in the meeting room with our wheels whirring. Our numbers were down by -- I would guess -- a third, due to the bad weather and other commitments. The missing members were sorely missed -- especially some of the Crones and the Indiana contingent!

I didn't take as many pictures as I probably should have, but I did get this one of the scarf exchange. I didn't participate in this year's exchange, but the scarves were lovely (left to right, Tori, Carol, Martha, Lorain, Nancy, Donna, and Ken).

I enjoyed visiting with Eric and Maureen on Friday night. Although Eric doesn't spin, he makes these fascinating Japanese ornaments called temari. We never tired of teasing Eric about his "balls." We asked to see Eric's balls, we wanted to touch Eric's balls, we even asked to photograph Eric's balls. Yes, we never grew out of high school humor.

Here are some decent pictures of Eric's balls. Aren't they amazing? He makes them with perl cotton thread and it must take ages to do them.

I think the red one is perfect for Christmas -- it looks like a poinsettia.

For the gift exchange, I put into the pot a "Spin Your Own Socks" kit from Susan's Spinning Bunny. It was yummy merino/tencel in shades of brown, along with some size 2 double points and a sock pattern. What I received, though, was even better: a handmade gift. Carol made a felted knitting bag. Isn't it gorgeous? And the colors are perfect for me. I love it!

I finally got my amigurumi done! Crocheting is NOT my forte, but with some help from my friends, it finally got done. This is "The Doubtful Guest" from Edward Gorey's Amphigorey. I know the perfect home for this little guy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Before and After

This post is about the miracle of "before" and "after." Here we see my "Meret" (Mystery Beret from Woolywormhead's Ravelry KAL) finished but before blocking.
Now we see the Meret blocked and beautiful.
A second type of before and after depends on your angle of view. I'm teaching an Illusion Knitting class at the Guild in January, so I thought I'd better make a sample so people will see what they're signing up for. We're going to make knitted dishcloths with illusion designs. They'll be able to choose between a heart (pictured here) or a snowflake. If you look at the cloth straight on, you see nothing but lines of red and white. At an angle, however, the heart picture pops miraculously out at you.
Last, we just have an after. Here is a picture of the first small skein of pure angora from Genevieve. I expect her wool will get a little lighter as she grows older -- she's just turned 6 mos. old. The wool we harvested from her was definitely her junior wool.

Friday, November 7, 2008

MORE Finished Objects ... I'm on a roll!

Yes, that's right: MORE finished objects! I've been stagnating for so long that it's unbelievable.

I'm having lunch with Lynne today and I decided that I absolutely HAVE to finish her birthday present (which was supposed to be done in April). I have no good excuse ... It's been 95% complete since we went to Wool Fest in April. Somehow, it just didn't get done. It's a felted knitting bag for her.

I bought a lovely fair isle wool sweater at Goodwill and felted it to make a firm fabric. Then I cut it into a rectangle and sewed it up to make a pillowcase sort of shape. I bought some satiny lining for the inside, made a little pocket with another piece of the satin, sewed it into a pillowcase shape and then put it inside and sewed it around the top. I doubled the ribbed top over and hem-stitched it to the inside to make it more sturdy. Then I felted a burgundy I-cord to make the closure/handle. I just poked holes in the felt to run the I-cord through. It wasn't a difficult project -- except that I'm sewing retarded.

Another completed project that had been languishing is the refinishing of my great great grandfather's bed. We have an amazing bedroom suite that has been handed down in my family for years that was handmade by my great great grandfather. It's walnut and both simple and elegant. You can tell it was handmade, for one, because each of the little decorative spindles is different. You can also see the mark of the old saw on the walnut when the planks were cut. It also has two mysterious burn marks on the underside of the railings. An oil lamp that got too close? A house fire the bed was saved from? I don't guess we'll ever know.

In addition to the bed, there's a large dresser with four huge drawers that matches the bed. (It's in my daughter's room -- pardon the mess.) I haven't refinished it yet. What's cool about the dresser, though, is that on the top there's a large round burn mark where the old oil lamp used to sit.

I started stripping the bed last summer (not 2008 ... 2007) and got maybe 70% of the job done and then got distracted. Finally, a couple of months ago, I took it down to Mom and Dad's house so my sister Kathryn could see it. She's a really good furniture refinisher and we planned to have a refinishing "party" with it. I got it almost completely stripped at the "party" and brought it home almost ready for staining. The weather has been good this fall so I was able to finish the stripping, do the staining and apply two coats of tung oil before cold weather hit. Now all I need to do is set it up in the guest room and buy a mattress for it. A mattress will have to be custom made for it, because it isn't a standard size, but the Original Mattress Co. has assured me that it's no big deal.

Last, but not least, as featured in a previous blog entry, I finished Kate's Civil War era dress that has been in the works for more than a year. I definitely want that mentioned among my finished objects. Here's a picture of her in the dress. She sank gracefully to the floor and Sam, of course, couldn't resist curling up on the skirt.

For the next post, look for my UNfinished objects.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Finished Objects

Hurray for daylight savings time! I was just getting ready to roust the kids upstairs to get ready for church and they reminded me that I have an extra hour. That means I finally have time to blog a little.

This blog entry is about FOs -- Finished Objects. I'm not as prolific as, say, Wendy Johnson (who must knit in her sleep -- it's the only explanation), but I've finished a few things this year.

First off, I finally finished the Sample Stitch Kimono (SSK) knitalong that I did under the guidance of Gwen Bortner. This was a really fun knitalong where each month you learn new knitting stitches. Gwen designed a kimono shaped cardigan sweater that is made up of strips of knitting sewn together. There were 12 strips, one for each month, and each month Gwen would send us a new instruction sheet with a skill to learn. To learn the skill -- cabling, drop stitches, bobbles, etc. -- we could choose from 2 or 3 patterns that use that skill to make that month's strip. At the end of 12 months, we sewed the strips together into a kimono. Everyone chose different wool, different colors, different patterns within each skill, and sewed them together in different order -- so everyone ended up with a different sweater.

Mine is made of grey Knitpicks Merino Style. I ended up with sleeves that are way too long, so Gwen suggested I remove a panel from each side. I also crocheted an edging around the neck and front opening to give it a more finished look.

The end result is a piece of fabric that I LOVE. It's texture is amazing and it feels great. However, Gwen is about 10 feet tall and slim and can carry a sweater of that bulk. At my height and weight, it seems bulky and not altogether attractive (although I've received a lot of compliments on it). There's a tremendous amount of material in the kimono sleeves that wants to just bunch around my waist in an unappealing way. Still, the girls wear it to keep warm (it swallows them) and I wear it around the house. Mostly though, I just drape it over things and admire it.

I've also finished the two hats Kate asked me to make for her friends, Payton and Elena. Her friends admired a hat she was wearing that she mistakenly thought I had made. Actually, it was a fair isle tam made of acrylic that Jeff's Mother gave me for Christmas years ago. Anyway, Kate and her big mouth told the girls, "I bet my Mom would make you guys one!" They all three wanted to wear hats alike. Knowing nothing about making fair isle tams, I bought Mary Rowe's book "Knitted Tams" and with a few missteps and several visits to the frog pond, was able to produce two passable fair isle knitted tams for the girls.

They LOVED the hats. Payton, especially, was thrilled with hers. Unfortunately, when she got it home that night she put it on the bannister of the stairs and her dog grabbed it and chewed three big holes in it. She was devastated and called Kate up all upset. What could Kate do but promise that I would fix it? EEEk! I revisited the course notes I took last summer with Lucy Neatby on fixing knitting problems and reknitted the bottom 2 inches of the hat (the entire ribbing and a little more). Then I fixed the two holes in the body as well as I could. It's not perfect, but Kate was pleased and said she couldn't see the damage any more. She's taking it back to Payton on Monday.

Another recent completion has been the Jean Greenhowe nativity. There are a lot of characters available to knit in this set, but I'm just starting with the holy family this year. It's fiddley work but I'm pleased with the results. I'd like to add shepherds and sheep next year and then the wise men. I'm using some of my vast amounts of Knitpicks Wool of the Andes to make these guys. It's a great way to use up small amounts of yarn.

Early in the year I experimented with dying sock yarn so that it would be self-striping. I actually taught a class at the Guild on it. My first efforts were finally knit into a pair of socks that I gave to my niece at Amherst -- where she NEEDS wool socks. They're a little gaudy, but she seemed to like them.

In the spring I made another little gift: this apple hat, a free pattern on Ravelry. I made it for a my friend Jenny, who had just delivered her seventh child (and first girl). Her oldest child is in first grade and Jenny deserves a whole lot more than a silly hat.

Also in the spring, as Wool Fest in Greencastle, IN, I took a class in needle felting and made this hat. It's made of alpaca fiber and I was very proud of it and wore it all over the festival and received many compliments on it.
When I got home and showed it to my family they howled with laughter and said it looked just like a pimp hat. Needless to say, I haven't worn it since. They sort of had a point ...

Over the summer, while we were practicing our community theatre production of "Oliver Twist," I knitted this shawl from the free Voyager lace stole pattern on Ravelry. I made it from a hank of 100% alpaca from Peru that I had gotten from Barb Gallagher at Weaver's Loft. It's very soft and I like the pattern, but the yarn was difficult to work with. It was only two ply and very soft wool and kept breaking, especially at the beginning. However, I persevered and it turned out nicely. It may be a Christmas gift for someone.

Depending on how you define "finished," these are also finished objects: two skeins of yarn from the "Fondle This" club at Susan's Spinning Bunny. After you join the club, Susan sends you some gorgeous hand dyed fiber each month along with suggestions for spinning it and a pattern for something that can be knitted out of the spun fiber. We've had llama, silk, bluefaced leicester, camel, yak and so on. So far I've only gotten around to spinning two of this year's offerings, but it's not because I didn't want to!
The blue and green one on the left is llama and the dusty rose on the right is tussah (wild) silk. I'm going to make a beaded silk scarf out of the dusty rose in the near future (in fact, I may cast on tonight).
So, I haven't been entirely idle this year. It's fun to see what I've accomplished. My next blog will cover those dreaded UFOs. I've got several and I've vowed to either finish or frog them!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Welcome Home Genevieve!

We have a new baby at our house, a black satin angora doe that we've named Genevieve. She's a beauty and will, hopefully, be a girlfriend for Andy the angora buck.

Genevieve is still getting settled in. She doesn't quite know what to think about Sam, the Springer Spaniel. Andy just pushes Sam out of the way, but Genevieve thinks that Sam might eat her. She doesn't know what a wimp he is yet.

We've offered her parsley but she preferred to nibble on some of the potted flowers. I didn't let her nibble long because I'm not sure they're good for little rabbits. She also likes to eat the dried oak leaves that are falling right now.

I brushed her out for the first time today and got a big handful of silky angora fur. I can't wait to spin it up!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Okay, we're over the gloom

I'm making a new blog post even though I don't have time to properly post because I want the old gloomy one(s) to recede into the past. Everything has sorted itself out, as things tend to do in time. Ally is still a little hurt, but she's coping and looking forward to her Shakespeare classes (Groundlings). She's caught up in the Senior maelstrom of SAT taking, college visiting, and college applications.

Kate, on the other hand, is blissfully "in like" with a sweet boy she met at summer camp. She's had texting relationships before -- they said they were "together," but they never actually saw each other in person -- but this is a real dating situation. I couldn't be happier for her because he seems like a genuinely nice guy. The only real problem is that he lives about 1/2 hour away and neither of them drive yet. He just turned 16 and she'll be 16 in Feb., so they spend a lot of time on the phone.

I'm getting ready to drive to Louisville for the American Rabbit Breeders Association convention. They should be showing the angoras today and I'd like to see it. I'm taking my camera, so maybe I'll have something to post tomorrow or at least soon. Now I'd better get out the door or I'll miss it!

Maybe I'll be able to bring Andy back a bride!

Oh! By the way, I finally finished Kate's Civil War reproduction dress (except it has a ZIPPER). I'm such a rotten seamstress ... it's taken me a year ... literally ... to get it done. Originally, it was supposed to be a reward to Kate for getting straight As in the first quarter of high school. Now it's the first quarter of her sophomore year and she got straight As again! Now what am I going to do?!

Ally loves the more theatrical silver mask that she got at the costume shop. I also made her blue cloak as a Christmas present several years ago.
They wore their halloween garb to a huge party at the Kennedy's house last weekend.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

And it just gets better ...

Okay, I lied. This post IS another pity party. Just let me get it off my chest, and maybe I'll feel better.

My daughters are tremendously talented. I don't just say that as a Mom; it can be objectively measured. They are bright, they are beautiful, they both love music and theatre, they can sing to break your heart, they can perform in an unselfconscious way that most high school girls can't match.

Ally first got involved in the school musical her freshman year when she stood out among the "Pick-a-Little" ladies in "Music Man." The next year, she completely stole the show as Bloody Mary in South Pacific. Ask anyone. Play the tape. When she came out to take her bow, the crowd roared in a way that, embarrassingly enough, they didn't do for the leads.

This past year, there were rumours that the play would be "Annie Get Your Gun" after Ally and Hank sang "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" for a chorus performance. They decided, however, to go with "Sound of Music" and gave Julie, the female lead from "South Pacific," one more bite at the apple. That made sense. And Julie did a terrific job as Maria. Ally did a great job as the Mother Superior, but under all those robes, no one knew who she was.

The fit between Ally and "Annie Get Your Gun" was obvious, though. She's a good comedic actor and a great singer and she can play a little tomboyish. Everyone -- her friends, my Mom, me, the music director -- could see that she was perfect for "Annie Get Your Gun."

Prior to school starting, the music director called me and told me that the play this year would be "Annie Get Your Gun." She was planning on Tues. and Thurs. rehearsals and wanted to be sure that Ally would be available. A mutual friend, told Ally that the music director had told him that she thought Ally could do the role of Annie in the play. He told Ally this. When auditions started, all of her friends immediately tagged her for the role of Annie. In fact, we couldn't think of anyone else who was even in the running. Ally had previously learned all the songs and she sang them for two weeks around the house.

Kate, of course, also wanted to be in the play. She and Ally helped each other pick and learn their audition monologues and songs. Kate worked hard to learn a great little speech with a lot of emotion and repeated it non-stop for a whole weekend. She really wanted the role of Winnie, who has two cute songs in the play, and is a secondary love interest. She was going through a lot of angst because it was so clear that Ally would be Annie, she didn't want to be totally left out. She also wanted to be in the play because it would be Ally's last year and the last time they could perform together.

The auditions went well. Ally was asked to cold read the part of Annie and Kate was asked to read the part of Winnie. It's a small school -- there's just not that much competition. We thought we knew all the potential rivals for the part and there was no one against Ally and just a few against Kate.

Then, the bomb dropped. Because the usual director and school drama teacher has a new baby, she decided not to direct this year. Instead, the school hired a woman who had just graduated from college with a theatre degree. I thought this was good because she would bring a fresh perspective to the play. Unfortunately, she also doesn't know any of the kids and was working from the three minute auditions exclusively. Her first impulse was to put a freshman in the role of Annie.

Ultimately, she decided that a girl who has done minor roles before -- but who is very cute -- should play Annie. I've heard this girl sing. Even if I were impartial -- which I am clearly not -- I would say that is a bad decision. "Annie Get Your Gun" is essentially a one-woman tour de force. Annie is in almost every scene and sings 90% of the songs. This girl can't do that. There is no way. I've heard her sing; I've seen her act. It isn't going to happen. Or, at least, it's not going to be pretty.

Ally received the part of Dolly, the slutty older woman comic relief with only part of one song. Kate is simply in the chorus.

Ally's heart was broken, of course. When she first heard that the play would be "Annie Get Your Gun," she knew it was her turn for a lead role. In fact, the music director made no secret of the fact that she had chosen the play for Ally. Everyone knew that it was Ally's year. Everyone ... but the new director.

Ally screamed and wept and carried on after her dad picked her up at school. She concluded she had been overlooked because she's too fat, too ugly, too untalented. He called me at home to prepare me when she headed home ... But when she walked in the door, she was bright-eyed and chipper. She said she would enjoy playing Dolly, that she had some good lines. She picked up her music notebook and headed off for her voice lesson as if nothing had happened. It totally broke my heart. It was her best performance ever.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Fun Summer ... Not

Okay. This is the time at Wool & Bull when we have a little pity party. This summer SUCKED.

It started out well enough. Kate went to camp for three weeks to clean toilets and wash dishes as a member of the Crew. Anyone who doesn't think that's fun (for the Mother), doesn't have a teenaged daughter dropping candy wrappers and dirty dishes all over the house. I LOVED the fact that she had to cut the grass all the way around the lake with a hand held scythe. I LOVED it when the little boys in the meadow cabins all ate bad burritos and created a truly foul mess in the bathroom -- that she and her fellow Crew members had to clean up. I LOVED it when one of the mean boys locked her in the walk-in dumpster. Strangely enough, she loved it too. She cried and cried when she had to come home and leave all of her Crew friends behind. So, all was well.

After Kate got home, though, she and her Dad went off on a fabulous vacation to England and Ireland. It was their special Daddy/Daughter trip and I was glad for them to have some bonding time. But what did Ally and I get to do? We got to have Ally's wisdom teeth out. She was a brave little soldier, but she developed an infection and it was NOT FUN. Especially, when -- did I mention -- the other half of our family unit was on vacation in Ireland.

When the wanderers returned home, Jeff had lap band surgery, which his doctor (our close friend) had strongly recommended. It was supposed to be an outpatient procedure. It was not. He woke up from surgery in extreme pain and was unable to swallow anything -- even his own saliva -- for a week. Guess who got to empty all the vomit basins? After a week in the hospital on an IV and no progress, the surgeon went back in and took the dratted thing out again. He felt better almost immediately and after a couple of days was able to go home -- a somewhat thinner and thoroughly unhappy person.

After fussing over him for a few days, it was time for the girls to go back to school again! The summer had vanished completely!

Two days before school started, Kate started to take her summer homework seriously. She worked for two solid days with only 2 hours of sleep. My, was she pleasant to be around ...

On my own little procrastination project, the night before school started I finally got out the box of school clothes and started washing them. When Kate tried on her school skirts, they were hopelessly too small -- and so were all her school pants. That's how I found myself at Walmart at 1:30 a.m. the day before school looking for some khaki pants for her to wear the next day.

This summer, I never got around to mulching the yard ... and only did minimal weeding. You can imagine how it looks .... I have made no further progress on the Wool & Bull studio. It looks just the same as it did last spring. I still haven't cleaned out the guest room -- formerly a top priority that has fallen to the bottom of the list. Probably worst of all: I still haven't done any further work on Kate's Civil War Era dress that was promised to her as a gift for her straight A report card LAST FALL. I promised her recently that it would be done by Halloween of this year.

Okay ... pity party and self-flagellation over.

Everything isn't horrible. This summer we FINALLY bought a new couch to replace the 15 year old monstrocity that we've hated since the moment it arrived at our door. It had a rip in the back and two large threadbare places on the seats and three years ago we decided to buy a new one. I'll let you soak that in: Three Years Ago. I have looked and looked for a decent leather couch that the short people who live in this house (all four of us) would feel comfortable on. It has been an almost completely fruitless search.

However, in a stroke of sheer luck, a couch that I had been considering went to the furniture store tent sale and was marked down to $800 ... a Flexsteel solid leather couch! That's $1000 off the regular price!! I talked the family into buying it and rented a truck to pick it up the next day. Now that we've got it, everyone loves it and it looks SO much better than the threadbare disaster occupying the space previously.


I've been racking my brain for the last few minutes trying to think of just one other thing this summer that has not sucked. Well ... nobody died. I did have a nice visit with my sister and my folks, as reported in the previous blog entry. Other than that, I'm coming up with nothing.

Well, the fall has got to be better. I'm looking forward to crisp weather.

The next entry will NOT be a pity party, I promise. I plan to talk about finished objects. What with all the illness, I've had plenty of knitting time. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

To bee or not to bee

I'm slowly catching up with myself. It seems like I spent the early summer traveling, and now I've settled down to endure the heat and humidity of mid-summer.

My most recent trip was to visit my sister in Paducah, KY in mid-June. I picked up my parents in Lexington and we all drove to Paducah and stayed at Kentucky Dam Village State Park. We stayed in an "executive cabin," which had three bedrooms, 2 full baths, a stocked kitchen and a large living area. Although it was a little beat up and the furniture was kind of old, you couldn't beat it for the price.

The first night we were there, we took a tour to see the bison and elk preserve. We didn't see a lot of elk and those we did see were lying down so all we really saw were antlers waving above the tall grass. In fact, we hypothesized that they were paying people to lay in the grass and wave antlers so we would think we had seen elk.

The bison, on the other hand, were spectacular. There was a huge herd of them and there were a bunch of little ones too. We got some good pictures of the shaggy moms and their little calves.
The next day, we went out to see Kathryn's new farm. She and her husband, John, are planning to build a house there someday soon. In the meantime, Kathryn has planted a garden, a tree nursery, and has started two bee hives. I've been interested in the bees ever since she first started talking about raising them. I even attending the bee keeping class with her, so I was very excited to see the hives and all the bees.

Daddy and Kathryn got dressed in bee keeping outfits and went to see them first. When Daddy got back, I took his outfit and went out to see the bees. Kathryn's hives have been so successful that one of the hives split and half the bees went to find a new home. Unfortunately, the queen left behind died and Kathryn had to get a new queen. We opened up the hive and checked it for brood cells that would mean the new queen was doing her job.

Apparently she's doing just fine. Kathryn collected honey a couple of weeks ago and got 15 pints! That's a lot, especially for a hive's first year. They told us in class not to expect any honey the first year.

The third day, we drove to downtown Paducah and visited the quilt museum. I was impressed, as always, with the use of color and the artistry. Mom, on the other hand, rejected out of hand any quilt that was machine made (which was most of them). For her, those aren't real quilts. Unfortunately, they don't allow photography in the museum, so the only pictures I could take were of the beautiful stained glass "quilts" in the windows.

We also saw the murals on the flood wall in Paducah. They're very interesting and well done. You can see the community takes a lot of pride in them.

We got to see and do a lot, but the best thing about the trip was visiting with my family.

In the next blog, I plan to catch everyone up on my finished objects for this year. Just recently, I've finished up several things so I have a lot to share.
By the way, "hi" to Plurksylvania. I'm trying to keep my Plurking down to six hours a day.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Knitter's Connection 2008

Knitter's Connection was almost a month ago and I still haven't gotten around to blogging about it! Suffice it to say, it was a wonderful treat. I took classes with some of the creme de la creme of the knitting world ... not that my knitting has improved that much ... but it was fun!

First, I had a class with Sally Melville called "First Choices/Basic Shapes" in which her basic theme was DON'T follow the pattern. We covered ways to alter patterns to fit the wearer and how to make wise choices of fabric and color. Basically, Sally wanted us to be unafraid of making changes that would improve the fit and look of the finished garment.
My next class was with Lucy Neatby, who shocked and surprised me by not being a sweet little old lady. Rather, she had purple hair and tattoo. She taught the class barefoot and was an amazing teacher ... very clear and very entertaining. The name of her class was "Phoenix from the Ashes" and it dealt with avoiding the dreaded frogpond by creative fixes. She dealt with problems such as making a garment wider or narrower, how to deal with running out of yarn, surgical replacements and insertions, grafting and seaming. She also taught us a new bind off.
Pictured here is Lucy's gorgeous intarsia cat pillow cover (or tapestry). She sells the pattern on her web site I guess one of her primary lessons was "knit 3 inches of your project and then seriously (and honestly) evaluate it." At that point, you can tell whether it's going to need some changes.
My third class was with Gwen Bortner. I was especially looking forward to this class because I had been doing a year long knitalong with Gwen called the Sample Stitch Kimono and I had just finished it. I was able to wear my Kimono into class and have it admired by the designer herself! Gwen is pictured here on the left with Deena, a new friend I met at Knitter's Connection and had lunch with.
Gwen's class was called "Diamonds of a Different Color" and dealt with doing intarsia. As is typical of Gwen, she had us do a project that taught us the skill while actually making a useful object. In this case, we made an argyle credit card case. Gwen also supplied us with a handout complete with full instructions and color pictures of the techniques used. It was a fun class, and I had something finished (or nearly finished) at the end of it. Very satisfying.
My last class was with Melissa Leapman and was entitled "Crochet for Cowards." I was perhaps a little advanced for this class, because I have crocheted, but I'm never confident that I'm doing the proper stitch in the proper hole. It was really helpful to have someone show me exactly what to do. In this class, too, we came away with a project ... or at least a good start on one. We learned to make a crocheted purse and cloche hat. I finished them up the following weekend. Man, crochet is a LOT faster than knitting.
That accounts for the days. In the evenings we also had speakers and I got to hear Clara Parkes of Knitters Review, who reminded me so much of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Clara is witty and funny while at the same time being self-effacing and sometimes profound. She was very easy to like. (Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of her.)
Our moderator for the evenings was none other than the brilliant Cat Bordhi. I got to meet her and speak with her a little. This is a terrible picture and doesn't do her justice.
On the second evening I was there, we had a presentation from Jess and Casey, who created Ravelry (and Mary Heather, their newly acquired assistant, and, of course, Bob the dog). Casey is on the far left with Jess next to him and Mary Heather on the right in the bright pink top. Casey was wearing a shirt that read: "The Bobfather" in the Godfather font.
Jess and Casey struck me as a sweet young couple who are totally overwhelmed by the response they've had from the Ravelry world. Jess got all choked up when she spoke about how the Ravelry community had come together for "Ravel raiser" to raise money for new equipment for them. (This fund raiser was not solicited by Jess and Casey and raised over $70k) They basically talked about the origins of Ravelry and their plans for the future.
One thing that I think has made Ravelry so successful is Casey's talent for designing the site to be both useful and easy to use. One new feature that they've added will be invaluable to me: you can run a search for patterns based on the amount and type of yarn you have in your stash. For example, if you have 400 yards of merino/silk worsted weight yarn that you don't know what to do with, you can plug that in and come up with a suitable pattern for that yarn. For handspinners, this is an amazing tool.
Of course, Jess and Casey complimented their talk with a nifty power point presentation and several "Bob Breaks" so we could all admire Bob the Boston Terrier.
I had a wonderful time at Knitter's Connection and hope to go back next year. Maybe Lynne will come too? Hint. Hint.