Saturday, June 29, 2013

Las Vegas

If anyone is wondering why my blog is so quiet, well, I've been traveling again.  I came to Las Vegas to attend TSCPA's annual board meeting, and we've had a wonderful time.  Some of my friends headed home this afternoon, but a few of us don't leave until tomorrow.  The TSCPA has most of its meetings in Texas, but every year or two, they'll go out of state for a meeting. 

It's 121 degrees here, apparently a record-breaking heat wave!  I'm excited about getting to meet Tom P. who has been such a huge friend to machine knitting, and to me.  Tom lives here in Las Vegas, works at the airport and is working today, coping with the chaos that sizzling high temperatures cause for the airlines.  I hope none of the guys working on the tarmac get heatstroke. 

Tomorrow, we'll have lunch together, and once again, I'll get to meet someone terrific I've gotten to know in the knitting machine cyber community.

Tom has helped me with my work, giving me lots of great suggestions and feedback on "Wear Your Diamonds," and now he's reading through "100 Ways to Improve Your Machine Knitting."  I haven't made any progress with the book this last week or two, with the seminar last weekend, then work, then this trip.

I haven't been to Las Vegas in quite a few years, and never stayed at Caesar's Palace before.  My general impression riding here in a shuttle from the airport is that the strip has built up tremendously.  This hotel alone is the size of a small town.  Our meetings were held here.  This hotel has 4,000 rooms, and everything is so large that my friends and I were all complaining about sore feet.  Last night, we explored only part of a mall inside the hotel complex (in the "Forum"), walking and browsing for hours.  The shops contain absolute luxury goods, so expensive it's hard to imagine they can sell enough to keep the doors open.  Rolex watches for $30K, purses for $4K, leather jackets for $6K!   I did treat myself to an inexpensive, whimsical silver and glass frog necklace. 

One of my friends remarked this morning that this whole incredible complex (I wonder how many tons of marble was installed in this place) was built with money that people lost gambling.  She's right.  Of course, there's a whole other side to Vegas, ordinary neighborhoods, families, churches.  Maybe I can find a nice yarn shop.

Many of my CPA friends don't understand my knitting hobby at all, but some of the women find it interesting.  A very sweet friend said she is intrigued by it, would like to come along to a seminar sometime and help me, and she'd like for me to show her daughter a machine and how it works.  What I really ought to do is whip up some shawls for the lady accountants to wear in the chilly meeting rooms.  It doesn't matter where you have a conference, it's always cold in hotel meetings.  I was thinking about the electricity today - can you imagine what it takes to chill these unbelievably giant hotels in spite of the incredible heat?

Well, better run.  I promise some knitting-related posts soon.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Northern Virginia Seminar Report

Wow!  This was a great one.  And, here's the blow-by-blow, which hopefully won't bore y'all.  I guess I'm so excited about the experience that I just need to debrief.

We flew to Baltimore Thursday evening.  We drove around a while in Baltimore figuring out the one-way streets and how to enter the hotel, which John had found and was only a block from the inner harbor area.  A friend told me to be sure and visit the waterfront and get some seafood.

On Friday morning, we wandered down to the visitors' center on the waterfront and asked what would be fun on our one-day check-out-Baltimore project.  They suggested a guided trolley tour and a speedboat ride in the bay.  On the tour, a nice, long route with lots of fascinating history and highlights of the town, we were lucky to have an excellent guide.  The speedboat, on the other hand, was all about making us laugh and getting us wet!

We drove to Diana's house (our hostess) pretty well drenched, bedraggled and happy, and John and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them that evening.  The Guenthers have three terrific teenagers, Richard is our kind of guy (a Scoutmaster getting ready for camp), and their adorable but rather humongous dog Anna was a treat, too.  Diana fed us a wonderful meal and put us up in comfort. 

On Saturday, we made a good, early start, but when we arrived at the museum where the seminar was going to be held, we encountered a delay getting into the building.  We started just a little late, and I simply started teaching while my John and a couple club members finished setting up.  In typical knit seminar fashion, we had an incredible potluck lunch and then dove in again.  On Saturday, I did everything on a bulky machine with a camera and projector rig so folks could see.  I had a big handout book and was determined to finish all the demos I planned for Saturday so we could get through everything Sunday.  I taught some cast-ons, cast-offs, increases, decreases, gauge adjustments, garter bar flips and stitches, fancy garter bar work, edgings, floatless vertical fair isle, laid cables, and some cute projects.

In addition to having lots of demos to work through, we also had a dealer offering many of the essential machine knitting supplies on Saturday.  This was quite a blessing for folks who came a long way and needed sponge bars, hand tools, mylar sheets, and the like. 

Saturday night, we  consumed some amazing chicken that I believe Georgia prepared.  We had been  able to leave things in the museum room for Sunday morning. 

I felt nervous Sunday morning about whether I could work through all the more complicated stuff effectively in a single day.  We had a standard gauge with ribber set up, and started with scalloped lace edgings, mirror image lace, Enchanted Edgings, and then went on to ribber cast-ons and bind-offs, mitered ribbing, tucked ribbing, quilted ribbing, release stitch lace, bubble wrap stitch, ribber circular sock techniques, vertical buttonholes, set in sleeve technique, and other fun miscellany.  I actually got the sense that our group enjoyed the more difficult stuff on the second day and were rather energized.  Everyone was very appreciative of my stuffing gobs of information into the seminar.

I like putting the beginners right up front - behind me, if they want - and getting volunteers from the audience to try things.  This was a rather advanced group, as was San Diego, and I picked up some great ideas just listening to their discussion.

At seminars, you meet people who do many other interesting fiber arts like weaving and dyeing.  Knitters, generally, are "kindred spirits" and every group is a treat.  The Maryland/Virginia/DC area has some incredibly dynamic fiber lover groups. I got a tip to visit a local yarn shop on Monday before we caught our plane.

Diana G. took John and I out to an Irish pub Sunday evening, where we consumed Fred Flinstone-sized platters of food and then took packages of desserts home.  After we got back to her house, she gave me a spinning lesson and a drop spindle and fleece care package.  Fun!  I seem quite clumsy with spinning, but the colors, textures, and the fascination of what happens to give us yarn captivated me.

We were sad to leave Diana's house Monday morning.  We drove to the yarn shop I'd wanted to visit, though, where John actually encouraged me to fill the empty spaces in my luggage, so I purchased some gorgeous mink-colored mohair, which I plan to use for a certain gift item, some lively teal mohair for me, and some really fun, bright sock yarn. 

After that, we toured Fort McHenry, where US soldiers in the War of 1812 held off the British navy, who bombarded the fort for 25 hours.  The sight of the stars and stripes the next morning inspired Frances Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner."   Next, off to the waterfront for more yummy seafood, and finally, we used our remaining time we visited a lighthouse museum.

I'll say it again:  if you get the chance to attend a machine knitting seminar, you ought to try to go!  Ladies carpool to these things, stay with friends, find fun things to do, and leave inspired. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

All Pumped About Northern Virginia Seminar

Tonight, I'm packing to go to the seminar in Northern Virginia.  Diana Guenther, the organizer, has told me that we have about 32 signed up.  The handouts are written, the samples and tools are tucked in the bags, and I'm very excited about the trip.

This may be my best handout book ever, as I keep adding goodies and not taking much out.  I put in lots of patterns and techniques, more than I can possibly cover in the two days...but you never know!  I managed to get through all my material in San Diego, and shocked myself.  It just depends on how advanced the group is, how well they manage their time, and whether they have special requests.

I also packed up my new 2013 Demos disk as a freebie for the seminar customers.  This was great fun to make - I simply picked out a bunch of fairly recent videos and compiled it.  I make my videos in high-def, then put them on YouTube, which makes them into smaller, less detailed files and shows them in a little window.  I took those original high-definition ones to make the disk, which will play nicely on a TV or a computer.

I have such cool projects in the works!  I won't have the new book with 100 tips to improve your machine knitting in time, as I am still photographing samples and making diagrams for that book.  I am also working on the hand knitting book again - I think I'll call it "Snowflakes" because it's a book of lacy and geometric round dishcloths, seamlessly grafted. 

I have some more hat ideas.  I don't know, maybe we'll have a hat book, and maybe not.  Because Knit Natters is doing hats for charity this year, I've got hats on the brain.  Hats on the brain is some sort of knitter's disorder, I'm sure. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekend Updates

Knit Natters met yesterday, a small group, but we certainly had fun.  When summer sets in, attendance drops, just like any club, but we just keep on going faithfully.  I demoed the sew-as-you-go tam, and my friend Norma had seen it on the blog and said she had problems with the video.  I believe I have those problems fixed.  YouTube was giving me huge heartburn the day I put that up - it actually took five tries.  If it's still sending you to a different video, or not finishing the whole video, let me know, and I'll reload the stinker.

Barbara demonstrated a really cute scalloped edging on the Passap, which I think can be done on the Japanese machines.  Next time I go doodling around on my machine, I'll attempt it.  Barbara's Passap demos are fantastic.  Last month she showed us drop stitch lace as well as U100E lace.  Gorgeous.

We are still producing and bringing hats for charity.  The pile grows!  We started talking about our next Knit-In, probably in October.

Mary A. made a cupcake hat, which she presented to Carl.  Here's the background on this:  several years ago, when Carl, Barbara, John and I went to do my first seminar in Houston, we were clowning around on the trip home, and teasing Carl about being a tough guy.  Carl is a big man, a truck driver and a woodworker, and certainly LOOKS like he could be a tough guy, but I told him he's a cupcake.  He's a sweetie and pushover for his wife, kids, grandkids, and friends.  Pretty soon Barbara was calling him Cupcake, and now the knitting club is calling him Cupcake, too (he's always helping the club with things, including barbequing hamburgers for us when we have a knit-in).  Mr. Carl the Cupcake loves his Cupcake hat.  :)
By the way, the cupcake hat pattern is over at the DFW Machine Knitting Guild's website.

Before the meeting, Barbara and Sylvia had gone to a a craft fair at Tech Shop.  Tech Shop is a business (several locations at a few cities in the US) where you subscribe as a member and then can use their fantastic tool collection. It's mostly guy-candy like pro woodworking and machining tools, but they also have long-arm quilting machines (drool, drool...), professional sewing machines, and so forth. The club was checking it out, considering getting a booth and demonstrating KMs at a future fair, but the ladies were disappointed on their scouting mission.  There were herds of children banging nails into woodworking projects, behaving, but making an amazing amount of noise and sitting on the floor so they couldn't walk around and see things.  Hopefully, that's just a glitch and the next event will be different.  One thing our club doesn't do much is demonstrate KMs at events.  Several of us are willing, if we can find events.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Joe's Entrelac Throw

The technique is from my book, EZ Entrelac, and the blanket is big.  Joe previously send photos of a really cute baby blanket and set, using Entrelac and Fair Isle.

This new one is such a striking color scheme!  The variations in the repeat sequences add a lot of interest, as well.

Now, couldn't we make great stuff using this technique with scraps of worsted weight yarn? I can picture a neutral background and all sorts of colorful patches on the in-between rows. I don't even think you'd have to do the square-off triangles along all the edges; you could have ziggy edges and crochet or I-cord edge around everything.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Knit Natters - Tomorrow

Some club members are meeting at the Tech Shop Maker's Fair tomorrow around 10, then some are going to lunch.  At 1 we'll meet at Crystal Lake Baptist Church in Leander, as usual.  Of course, everyone is welcome, and we have plenty of space at the church.

I'm unlikely to make the fair or lunch, as I have to get some things done in the morning.

I don't know what Barbara's teaching, but she has a demonstration for the Passap.  I'm going to teach the sew-as-you-go version of my tam.  I've taught the tam before, but that was before I began routinely putting them together as I knit the tops.

Our club continues on its hats for its current charity project, and I'll bring some hats I made along.

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Video for June - Tam Take Two

I redid my original tam video, adding more titles with needle numbers and so forth, but most importantly, showing how to do it with sew-as-you-go joining of the hat to the ribbed band.

UPDATE:  Try clicking on the video now.  I think a settings change over at YouTube may have fixed the problem.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Busy, busy, buzz, buzz...

Sometimes my husband says "busy, busy, buzz, buzz" when I'm running around doing all sorts of things.

And, that's what I'm doing this weekend.  We printed and bound the handouts for Northern Virginia, and I'm so happy with them!  I have my two days all planned, and stuffed plenty of nice little extras in the book. 

I've also been doing all sorts of little things related to the seminar and the knitting biz in general this weekend, including trying to put up a new video (YouTube is NOT cooperating; I think that needs to wait for another day), trying out a new pattern, and answering email.

Because of an email I got from a mom who is learning to knit with a young child underfoot, I got to thinking about an old favorite pattern of mine.  Anybody remember this one?  This is my English Rib Child's Sweater pattern.

I like easy kids' patterns, because you need to make 'em clothing fast before they're outgrown! This little pattern is just four rectangles.  My friend Barbara dressed this one up for her granddaughter by using a very pretty variegated for the yoke only (plus a little crochet along the neckline and a matching hair scrunchie).

If you're in the mood for a quick kid's sweater, look for the pattern here:'s_English_Rib_Sweater/Child's_English_Rib_Sweater.htm

Want to learn to make the hair scrunchie?  The cute little girl in the photo can show you how...