Saturday, February 25, 2012

Big Scary Zero

I haven't stated a blog goal for 2012 yet. I'm keeping it simple and yet so hard. It's only February and already this year has hit me some hard blows to my budget that will take me the rest of the year and maybe next to rectify. I'm cutting back in all areas but the only one that is blog worthy is my knitting budget. This year my knitting budget is Zero.

That is actually painful to write. I can be an impulsive shopper and I’m definitely someone that benefits from retail therapy and buying yarn is a real pleasure. Buying yarn feels so much better than eating chocolate. Better than anything. This is going to be really hard and has the potential to lead to woe-is-me feelings. I hate those.

But I have a plan.

First, is to knit the extra nice yarn from my stash. This is the yarn that has been too pretty and too special to knit. The yarn that makes me worry that the knitted object won’t live up to the potential of the yarn and then I won’t have the yarn anymore. I think I can do this. Although, when I can’t buy yarn this is the yarn becomes even more precious but I’m giving myself the permission to enjoy the act of using it and not worrying if the end result is worthy.

Second, is to make my yarn last longer* by knitting scraps. Already I’ve joined a scrap KAL

Third, is spinning yarn. I can make as much yarn as I want.

Fourth, and most important, is secret pal swaps. I still have a few of those in my budget so every other month I’ll get to buy a little something for someone else and I’ll get wonderful surprise yarn in the mail. This is the only thing that gives me a chance of making it. A slight chance at least.

The parts I haven’t figured out yet. How can I have Wild Abandon April without buying yarn? What about my needles? They are 12 years old now and starting to break but I figure it’s blog fodder for the upcoming year.

Finally, by announcing this so late even if I crash and burn next week, hey, I’ve already lasted 2 months. How many goals make it that long?

* taking a moment to point out I’m not going to run out of yarn this year. I have a 3.5 year supply on hand. This is the smallest stash I’ve had since starting my spreadsheet in 2005 but it is still 3.5 years worth of knitting.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Purple Water

Friday was the start of the conference and I had a day long class on plaiting with the goal of plaiting a hat.

Before lunch we covered the techniques by weaving a square, a basket, and a sphere out all of newspaper. My sphere is decidedly pill shaped since I wasn't willing to stop. After lunch we moved onto a hat.

There's my hat!
A better photo. I am set for the apocalypse and can weave everyone I know a sun hat, as long as our supply of wallpaper lasts.

At least my wall paper has a bamboo and reed design on it.

The conference comes with 3 sessions in the package. The day before was a two session class. That means on Saturday I had a half day class. Usually, I buy the 4th session but this time I didn't. Instead I took a drive along Lake Superior.

I stopped at coves and in tiny towns. I walked on sand beaches and on red rock beaches. I hiked up a stream and I froze. It was so very cold. 50F and the water even colder. Hard to believe it was just days away from July.

That reminds me. It stayed light for so long into the night. A full 45 min longer than back home. The sun came up earlier too. So exotic.

I love how that the water is purple. I need yarn that looks like that.

I'm bring up the conference now, so many months after I went, because I'm on the planning committee for the next one. Midwest Weaving Conference 2013 is in Emporia, KS.

We are in full swing and it seems that all I think about anymore. Right now I'm in the process of writing the contracts for the instructors.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rest and Relaxation

After the 3 day pre-conference workshop there is a day of rest and relaxation before the conference starts. And when I say rest and relaxation I mean 14 hour of running around on bus tours, gallery walks, artist talks, shopping, exhibit openings, and more shopping.

I spent the day going to 3 conference board meeting, hitting the vendors twice, two galleries and three artist talks. I was gray with exhaustion when I made it back to my room. But what a day!

For all the shopping I did I didn't buy much. I had a strict budget too keep. However, that means it took longer to decide.

I bought hand dyed spinning fiber in an exotic combination of wool and banana fiber and matching silk hankies.

I love buttons. What was even better there was a box of random buttons all mixed together and at a discount. So there was the thrill of the search and on sale and handmade! Perfect.

I also picked up a knitting spool to knit wire. I've been churning out jewelery ever since.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Good times

The next morning classes start and I'm in a 3 day workshop on spinning yarn. I know pretty much everyone there and when I walk into the room I'm asked- "Um, why are you taking this class don't you know more than the teachers?" seriously, I was asked that. And it's true. And it's not. I always learn something new that is worth the cost of admissions.

This class was on spinning the yarn we want with the emphasis on specialty and art yarns.

My bulky singles yarn.

Close up of the snarl yarn.

Some point on day two as we are washing the swatches to set the twist someone asked what we could do with this yarn and the instructor said there was enough to knit a hat and she would love to see one made some day. Many people disagreed. Others scoffed. The gauntlet was thrown.
That night I knit a hat. I knit a hat after a day of spinning and an evening of doing my homework for class the next day, and I was knitting it out of still wet yarn. Yes, I'm a bit intense like that. But I was mocking myself just as much as my dorm mates were mocking me as we hung out in the lobby that night.

It was worth it. I played it cool, not wanting to look like a nut who knit a hat in one night out of still wet yarn. But it didn't take long for someone to bring up the idea of a sample hat again.

That was my cue! I whipped it out, called my instructors name, and threw it to her. She squeeeeed. The class broke down in tears they were laughing so hard. Photos were taken. I was mocked for knitting with wet yarn. It was perfect. Better than I had hopped. Better than I could have dreamed. Good times.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Staying Forever

I've been dragging my feet about finishing the posts of my summer vacation. I've finally pinned it down. Since I traveled alone this wonder full week is all mine. Posting it makes it public.

However, I use my blog as a way of neatly documenting photos so I'm compromising and putting up photos and maybe captions and I will see where it goes from there.

My dorm room. That is a floor to ceiling window. A wall of glass.

The view from that wall of glass.

The view looking down. That's a walking trail from the dorm.

Turn around and there is the kitchen.
My bedroom.

The suit was about 800 maybe 900 sq ft. 4 bedroom and 2 baths and it was all mine. It was also beautifully done in tile and granite, glass and stainless steel. I loved it. I wanted to stay forever. It's much nicer than anyplace I've ever lived. One room could be for the bed, one for the computer, one for yarn and I would still have one left for guest. The guest bathroom could also be a dyeing studio. The only downside was no bathtub in the bathroom and no dishwasher in the kitchen. However, the gym in the lobby was a wonderful touch. So was the TV-show-ready kitchen and bar next to the gym, if the kitchenette in the suit wasn't enough.

The first night is always a bit of a letdown. Worn out from the long drive and before I've had a chance to meet anyone. Sort of lonely. This time more so since I was in the overflow dorm and didn't find any parties in the halls.

I made a run to the grocery store to stock the kitchen and a stop at Walmart to buy a CD player. I cooked dinner and finished another book on tape while spinning the buffalo fiber I won as a door prize at the 2009 convention. A nice circular touch.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Fan Girl February and What I Did on my Summer Vacation.

Groundhog Day

Sumi-e saw his shadow as the sun woke us up this morning. 6 more weeks of winter. I actually hope that we get 6 weeks of winter. 6 days even. I want to play in the snow. It's snowed once and it was heavy and wet not good for playing and all melted by noon.

Fan Girl February!

Of the knitting almanac of last year this month is too good to miss. I've started it off by joining a Shakespeare swap. Shakespeare and a secret pal package. Two of my favorite things.

Another of my favorite things is the Midwest Weaving Convention. I went last year (I never miss it) and only now am I sorting the photos. 2011 was 10 days of yarny goodness in Michigan's upper peninsula.

It all started with finding a kennel for Joey. I don't travel much and Joey is great at coming along for the ride. But no dogs allowed in the convention dorms so Joey couldn't come.

He had a nice doggie spa to go to back in Illinois but the few places I'd tried since moving back had been horrible experiences. But with this trip I found the great place we use now.

How I found them is not important (recommended by my vet). The important part is how very many places I called before I found a place with room. Father's Day weekend and the doggie inns were full.

I start my drive Saturday afternoon with a car full of spinning supplies and 46 hours of books on tape from the library. I made it through my first two books. A really bad Doctor Who, although it was read by David Tenant, and the really great Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander. That's right, 6 hours before my first stop. Traveling alone is the best.

I'm on my 3rd book, The Sword in the Stone, when I decide it's time to find a room. It's almost 10:30pm. I pull off at the next exit and everyone if full. I pull off at the next exit and everyone if full. I pull off at the next exit and everyone if full. I pull off at the next exit and everyone if full. This is a long and reoccurring theme.

I've never had a problem finding a place to sleep before. It's after the 4th town that I realize the correlation of the doggie inns being full and the lack of people inns too. Lesson learned.

A little after midnight I've decided that I'm just going to have to sleep in the car in a rest stop but I'll keep on trying until I find a non scary one. Thankfully, two towns later I see a vacancy sign. It turns out that a person that had booked a 2 night stay didn't want to run his marathon in the rain or wanted to go home after running his marathon in the rain. Anyway, he had canceled his second night at the last minute leaving a room for me.

Oh, right, it was raining. It rained every day of this trip. And it was cold. Colder than it is today. The coldest last week of June I've ever experienced.