Monthly Archives: July 2006

Too Much ‘Tude

I think I’m jaded as to the service I expect at a LYS, since I happen to work at one. I learned this about myself while at the LYS in Berkeley. I expect a little greeting, hello or acknowledgement that I’ve entered the store, and maybe a little “let me know if you need help”. I didn’t get that at this store. In fact, when I had a question, I had to stand at the counter in front of the 3 women sitting behind the counter who were just chatting. One by one they stopped talking, but avoided eye contact with me, until the third looked up at me and pleasantly said hello. Maybe they were waiting for me to interrupt with my question? I don’t know; I kinda think it’s rude. Is LA so different from Northern California? Or are my expectations unreasonable? We’ve all heard the stories about the LYS with so much ‘tude they can’t be bothered to speak to you. I guess I didn’t think a yarn store in Berkeley, home of Birkenstocks, granola and the free speech movement, would be like that. Live and learn.

We also visited the Scharffen Berger Chocolate factory store where they definitely gave us attitude. Scharffen Berger makes very fine, high-end chocolate. Their tours do not allow children under 10, so we couldn’t join in the behind-the-scenes fun. We knew that before arriving at the store, so we were prepared for it. The lack of warmth and friendliness is one thing, but when they asked us to step aside from a display table, so they could have the tour folks stand where we were to sample some chocolate, that was a bit much. Mind you, we weren’t standing there like beggars looking for free handouts. We were shopping in their store! Besides, it IS a chocolate factory, and they do have quite a lot of chocolate there, don’t they? Between my sister, brother-in-law and me, we could have made a *big* purchase of chocolate, sauces, t-shirts and chocolate-related paraphernalia as souvenirs for family. Their icy demeanor was such a turn-off, that we only bought a jar of sauce and a couple of small bars and that was it. Too bad for them. Just as well, too, because the cashier barely said two words to me, and I think those words were the total amount. Maybe they’re just pissed off that they are owned now by Hershey.

We’re heading down to Huntington Beach for another soccer tourney for Sweetie Boy. Hopefully, we’ll return with some beach and knitting pictures. Have a great weekend!

I’m Baaaack!

We’re back from San Francisco and we had a marvelous time. These are pictures taken from Angel Island. I love how they show the fog rolling in and the Golden Gate Bridge just peeking out. Unfortunately, I only hit one yarn store, and I showed a remarkable amount of self-restraint. I went to a LYS in Berkeley that had a nice selection of yarns. I was just starting to get into the groove of checking out and fondling all the yarns, when I was yanked out of my reverie by the reality of impatient kids. Oh well. I walked out with a lovely skein of Louet Gems Opal in aqua to make the Simply Lovely Lace Socks from IK Spring 2006… someday.

Paula, my college buddy, was our gracious hostess, and we had such a wonderful time. She opened up her home to us and made us feel so welcome. She is simply the best. It’s always great to connect with a friend after 20 years and feel that not much as changed, besides my hair color and the lines on my face. Here’s a sampling of the wonderful time we had.

Here we are at Fort Funston overlooking the ocean. It was such a clear, beautiful day. Usually, when there’s a bit more wind, hang gliders take off from that point.

Alcatraz Island… Take my kids, please!

We visited Angel Island and took a tram-tour. Angel Island is of special significance for us, as my grandfather entered the states here in the 1910’s. He was about 12 or 13 and stayed on Angel Island for about 3 months before heading to Los Angeles. The island had a disappointingly small amount of information on the Chinese Immigrants who were held there, just a short video in the visitor center. The actual site itself was under reconstruction, so we couldn’t get close to it. It was exciting but disappointing at the same time.

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Shoppe at Ghirardelli Square: what else is there to say, except MAJOR sugar crash after the delicious dark chocolate hot fudge sundae?

We took a tour at Cal (UC Berkeley for those of you *not* in the know), and then headed up to the football stadium. Even though we are die hard Bruins, we like Cal enough to wear their t-shirts. The picture of the parking permit is one of my favorites from this trip. Parking is at a premium on and around campus. This was a prime parking spot located in right in the heart of campus. Can you guess what the NL stands for? Nobel. Laureate. People, I was in the presence of greatness. Okay, well almost. I stood in the empty parking space where a Nobel Laureate has parked his/her car. Still pretty cool in my book.

The kids and grown ups ran around the Exploratorium which is like a giant hands-on science fair for kids and adults.

We also visited Lombard Street and Chinatown but sorry, no pictures! All in all, a really great time. Now, back to our regularly scheduled summer program…

Knitting ADD

I feel like I’m having a bit of a hard time focusing on my knitting projects. I get excited to start on a new project, cast on, do a few rows to get a good feel for the project, get bored, see something new and shiny and run off to start that, only to have the same thing happen. Fessin’ up time. This is what I have OTN: my stalled wobbly circles tote which I have decided to set aside until it’s cooler, clapotis which is in the same boat as my wobbly tote, picovoli which is one of my current projects d’ujour, koigu wristwarmers which are a birthday gift, ballband warshcloth from Mason Dixon, a crocheted scarf from Happy Hooker and a tiny crocheted cap for Sweetie Girl’s American Girl Doll (I ran out of yarn mid-project).

Some of this may be brought on by my major stash enhancement, as of late. My sister and niece wanted to work on booga bags with Noro Kureyon, so we put together an order from WEBS. And no project is really a project for me unless I have a goal. So the goal was to hit the dollar mark where you get 25% off yarn. I am, if nothing else, a highly experienced and successful shopper. I decided to do a bit of yarn tasting with their Valley Yarns line, and got a ball or two of Berkshire, Berkshire Bulky, Longmeadow, Stockbridge, and Sugarloaf. I’ve also been wanting to try some alternative fibers, so I got some balls of Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy, South West Trading Company Karaoke, and Plymouth Royal Bamboo. I have fondled a bit but haven’t had time to swatch. I’m too afraid of this droppingmycurrentprojectslikeahotpotatoandchasingafteranewone condition I have right now. Trying to show some discipline, mind you.

I should also mention that Unraveled had an impromptu fishbowl sale, and employees get a generous discount too. I had to get that Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora that was further marked down from its already on sale price of $5.99. In the end, I got the Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora pattern book, enough yarn for the Lola sweater for Sweetie Girl and for the Mary sweater for the distracted knitter. I am dorky enough to think that a sweater with my namesake is a sign that it should be made and worn by me. I also acquired 13 skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca 100% Alpaca in *RED* to make the slouchy cardigan in Greetings from the Knit Cafe. People, I am yarned out! Well, at least for now… I’m driving up to San Francisco today for a few days of touristy sightseeing. Who knows, we might see a yarn store or 2 in the city.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. Hopefully, we’ll have some good ones after we return from San Fran. Cheers!

Knitting Workshop???

We spent the weekend at Sweetie Boy’s soccer tournament in San Bernardino where temps got up to 104. Hot hot hot. They played their hearts out and came in 2nd place. They did a fine, fine job, and we are so proud of Sweetie Boy and his team. Sweetie Boy scored a goal, too! I love watching each boy on that team work hard, develop new skills, and improve, all while having fun. It’s exciting to see it happen just over the course of 4 games in one weekend.

A few of the Moms had mentioned they wanted to learn how to knit, so I told them tournament time was the best for it… lots of sitting around and waiting for our games. I set up about 6 or 7 Moms and daughters/sisters with their Plymouth Encore and size 9 needles. Based on Fay Lynn’s wonderful advice, I cast on for each of them and showed them the knit stitch. As expected, some took to it more quickly than others, but everybody did a wonderful job. They learned their little rhyme, again big thanks to Fay Lynn:

In through the front door / Run around the back / Peek through the window /
Off jumps jack

This is my lovely friend, Sandy. Sandy learned to knit as a child, and after I showed her once, she took to it, like a fish to water. Nice, beautiful, even stitches. Well done!

Fay Lynn said I was brave to do a knitting workshop at a soccer tourney. Surprised to hear it called that, I told her I didn’t think of it as a workshop. I was simply showing a few friends how to knit. They also worked hard, developed new skills and improved. Some of the boys expressed interest in wanting to learn to knit also. I’m game! But let’s not call it anything, especially not a workshop.

Dear One Skein Secret Pal,

I just received my July skein yesterday, and am bowled over with excitement! Simply said, you’re brilliant. I *love* the stuff you have been sent me. This month’s skein of handspun silk in that beautiful blue with the japanese pattern for a drop stitch scarf is just perfect. I’m looking forward to knitting it up!

Thank you also for the nice note about the store where you bought it, Woolnuts, which specializes in selling handspun stuff and for including the business card. I even love the box you sent it in. I love it, because it’s from Japan, and it’s different and cool!

One Skein Secret Pal, you know how to treat a person right. You are the very best.


Flavor of the Week

This weekend, my sister took Sweetie Girl to the American Girl store at The Grove and got her a belated birthday present. She chose Jess, the American Girl Doll of the Year who also happens to be half-Asian and half-caucasian, and promptly renamed her Grace. Coincidentally, that happens to be Sweetie Girl’s middle name. Sweetie Girl’s older cousin braided her hair in the store, so she could match Grace. In addition to watching the American Girl show in their theater and partaking of lunch at the in-store cafe (neither of which we did), you can buy lots of matching clothes for the dolls and their owners. There were lots of people dropping lots of cash for these dolls. A Big thanks to Sweetie Girl’s Sweetie Auntie and Uncle who treated her.

At the store they had an adorable crocheted cap, doll sized and girl sized, so that’s my flavor of the week. A crocheted lacy skull cap for Sweetie Girl, Grace the doll, Sweetie Girl’s cousin and her new doll. Let’s hope my knitting ADD doesn’t kick in and I can actually finish 4 caps!

La La Ta Da!

Not quite but almost done. I just have to add the row of single crochet onto the top edge and block lightly. Of course, as always, I had a big Oh Cr*p! moment as I was binding off. I found a dropped stitch. So now it looks like a hole in the middle of it. I had already bound off that portion of the scarf when I found the stitch trying to make a run for it. I laddered up and tugged a bit here and there. I need to work on adjusting the extra yarn a little bit better and see what happens after blocking. Other than that, I’m still quite happy with it. I envision wearing it at night when we go on our annual vacation to family camp. It’ll be a light cover up at night time when the weather cools just a tad.

I’m still in swatching H-E-double hockey sticks for picovoli. After Marie’s great idea of using the magic loop method, I dutifully made my circular swatch with my 32″ size 4’s. And my gauge was still too big! Doh! So I tossed it into the washer and dryer, hoping it might shrink just a tad. No luck. I’m back to swatching on size 3’s now. Let’s hope I get all of the bad knitting mojo out on the swatches, and when I *actually* start the sweater, it’ll hum along swimmingly. Here are the pictures before and after it was tossed into the washer and dryer. Not much difference except for the curling.

I also started another set of Koigu KPPM wristwarmers for another kungfu sister’s birthday. She’s partial to anything blue, so blue is what she gets. I found the previous set of wristwarmers a bit too snug, so I’m using my addi turbo size 2 needles this time. I got the yarn this weekend, and Jillian, one of my knitting buddies, also got the exact same yarn on her own at a different store this weekend. Great minds think alike.

La La Progress

On Monday I finished the koigu wristwarmers that were a gift, and gave them away that evening. They were a birthday gift for my Kungfu sister, and she seemed happy with them. I hadn’t finished them yet, when I went to her birthday party/bbq. I pulled them out to work on them, and she asked what I was making. It was fun to see her expression when I told her it was her birthday present. I even had her try them on while still on the needles. Too bad I forgot to take a picture of the completed project. When I see her wearing them, I’ll try to remember to snap a picture. I’m happy with how they turned out, nice and stretchy. They were an easy project, other than working with size 1 needles. So now, all attention is turned on the La La. Here it is stretched out but not in its intended final shape.

I’m making mine bigger than the finished dimensions of the pattern. The scarf looks too much like a boy scout neckerchief for me, so it’ll be a shawl instead. I’m using KnitPicks Shadow in 3 colors: grape jelly (purple) , jewels (blue) and campfire (orange). The purple is the main body with blue and orange for the ruffle. I started on Bryspun size 10 needles but got frustrated when I couldn’t stretch out the shawl to see the progress. I switched to Denise size 10 circulars, snapping together the two longest cables. Ahhh, now I can see my work in progress. This picture shows half of it in its intended shape. The ruffle will run along the diagonal edge. As for the needles, I’m glad I followed the advice of lace experts and tried the Bryspuns. They were perfect for this laceweight yarn, as the yarn gripped it well enough and didn’t slide around too much. The Denises are also great to knit with and I’m happy to have the extra cable. Without the Denises and extra long cable, I wouldn’t be able to see and enjoy the progress. I’m grooving on this quick and easy knit and looking forward to finishing it up, so I can block it. When this is done, I think I need to start on another pair of wristwarmers for another Kungfu sister whose birthday was Monday. I hope I get through the birthday gifts, so I can finish Sweetie Girl’s socks and swatch something proper for my Picovoli. I’m dying to get started on it.

Happy 4th of July for those of you who celebrate it!