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.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Night At the Gallery

Sorry I've been so deliquent in posting. It's not that I've had too little to say, rather, there's been so much going on that I haven't had time to post.

So, I've decided to just bite the bullet and post some pictures without much text -- just to memorialize the events.

To celebrate the Weaver's Guild of Greater Cincinnati's 60th anniversary year, we were invited to create a show for display at the Salveo Gallery in Cincinnati. All the pieces that were included in the show were selected by the gallery curator and mine was one of the ones picked! It's the black and white scarf that says "red red red" in illusion knitting. From the front, you only see black and white stripes. (See the picture below where the scarf is viewed straight on over some other pieces.) When viewed from the side, though, the words magically appear. Barbara named the piece "Seeing Red" when it was on display at the Guild House, and I think that's a great name.

Opening night at the gallery, we had a lush buffet of snacks and drinks. It was lovely. Mary Anne Caplinger received an award from the Handweaver's Guild of America (HGA) for her woven kimono.
The remaining pictures show only part of the beautiful display of craftmanship and artistry created by the Weaver's Guild. These are some talented people!!

Next entry will be about my fabulous adventures at Knitter's Connection. Stay tuned!