VKL Marketplace

VKL Marketplace

The VKL NYC Marketplace was filled with wonderful choices and never-ending ways to spend money!  However, having recently organized my stash, I was well aware of the multitude of projects already awaiting my attention.

Add to that two classes that left me uninspired, I wandered around on Saturday feeling that nothing was leaping out at me.

I had also very carefully planned my purchases ahead of time. I printed out 9 patterns from Ravelry and noted the yarn needs for each.  460 yards of fingering for one, 900 yards of DK for another, etc.  I was so proud of myself for creating a structure in which to shop.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Throw all that preparation and organization to the winds!

If I was tempted by something…I just had to find the right color and I was IN!

The icebreaker (my first purchase): I came upon the booth for Jill Draper Makes Stuff. I had really admired her yarns at the VKL Marketplace a couple of years ago, took her card with the intention of getting something later, and have also favorited her Etsy shop, but I have never made an actual purchase. Time to stop the procrastination!  I bought this skein of Esopus (fingering weight) in the color Caribbean with the intent to use it for one of the pieces in the Curls book I recently purchased.  But then in my Beading 101 class, this very yarn was mentioned as great for knitting with beads.  So we shall see how it ends up…

VKL Marketplace
Jill Draper Makes Stuff: Esopus – Caribbean

Then I purchased 3 skeins of Rustic Fingering from Neighborhood Fiber, one of my favorite shops.  The yarn names are after different neighborhoods in Baltimore: The purple-y one is called Lauraville,  the brown-orange is Lincoln Park, and the green-yellow is Fells Point .  I purchased these for the Color Affection shawl. I wanted colors in the same tone, but that you might not automatically think go together, which is what I think will make this shawl really pop (or go terribly wrong!).

It’s interesting to watch my own tastes in colors, fibers, and weights change over the years.  When I was growing up, my absolute favorite color was yellow.  Over the past decade or so, it has been gray (because gray goes with Everything!).  Since DDSO passed away, I gravitated back to yellow, as it was his favorite color.  Now, I find myself going more for pinks (!) (I know, what’s up with that?) and sparkly yarn.  I also bought only fingering weight yarn this year, whereas before I usually liked working with DK.  And prior to this year’s purchases, I would Never buy yarn with nylon or acrylic.  EEK! I have let down that guard too. But I had to because that seems to be a necessary component for the sparkly yarns.  It’s all about choices! (Inside joke/reference to a previous post about food.)

Next up: Sparkly fingering weight yarns. This is Holiday Yarns: Silver Sock Fingering in Muse (shades of blue) and Highlighter (great name! for this bright yellow). Each of which I thought could be used to make the Manhattan shawl.

VKL Marketplace
Holiday Yarn
VKL Marketplace
Manhattan Shawl

Okay, I was done. It was Saturday, after two classes and the gala dinner was going to start in an hour.  I decided that there was nothing really calling my name and that was it.

Well, wouldn’t you know.  My Sunday morning class was held in a room within the Marketplace!  Fate? <smile!> Sure.  So during our break, I rushed over to the Woolstock booth to buy these flexible rods for blocking.  Leslye Solomon’s company makes them and I have been tempted to buy them since the first class I took with her at the 2nd VKL.  Not a very exciting purchase, but it should make the blocking process a whole lot easier and more effective.

VKL Marketplace

When the class was over, I took a last stroll through the Marketplace. I thought about buying a swift but a handmade maple swift for $200+ was not on my list. But what was on my list was to get yarn for these socks (yes! I know! socks?! usually not my thing).  But I really like the creator and her blog, and the design, Shersocks,  is tempting (enough to do them!).

VKL Marketplace

Here’s the yarn I got for them.   It’s Simple Sock from Kismet Fiber Works in Michigan Cherry and Limoncello. I don’t think the photo gives the colors justice. I decided to do the heel in the design color (Michigan Cherry) and not purchase  a 3rd color. Hopefully the colors will turn out more vibrant when I take pictures of the completed project. (This year!)

VKL Marketplace
Kismet Fiber Works

And then, on my way out, I felt I just had to stop at this one booth at the “end cap” (from my merchandising days) where the guy always said hello when I passed by.  Turns out Molly Girl Yarn is from the next county over…so very happy to support them! I picked this lovely Diva Fingering yarn in the color “Alive for the First Time” to do some kind of beaded piece, having just come out of Beading 101.

VKL Marketplace
Molly Girl Yarn

Laura Nelkin, the Beading instructor, had given us coupons to buy knitting beading kits on Ravelry or her Etsy store, and I have indulged!  Those are not VKL Marketplace purchases, so I’ll save them for another post.

I have enough to keep me busy for awhile.

Back from VKL NYC Weekend

Ugh. I just have this blah feeling after the VKL NYC event this weekend. It did not live up to my expectations. I was uninspired from 2 of my 3 classes, and the Gala dinner was disappointing.

So the good news is that I now know that I really don’t want to crochet. My first class was crocheting, and some sample sweaters were passed around. I didn’t really like them that much. The majority were linear and boxy, and just uninspiring to me. There was one that I liked and could get inspired to do (if I were a crocheter), but no, <head shaking>, not interested.  This is good news because it means I can maintain my focus on knitting projects, and not veer off into this other direction.

VKL NYC Weekend
This is the one crochet sweater that I liked enough to think about making.

Then I took the Fingers First class.  The good news there was that I finally learned how to do the provisional cast on. The woman sitting next to me showed me after the instructor (Amy Detjen) rushed through her explanation.  Then we learned how to use the i-cord technique to make the finger. The woman next to me and I did not think this was easier than dpns, nor did it look as good. However, Amy did have a good way of knitting the fingers into the rest of the glove that anchors them in place and avoids holes between the digits.  But this material did not deserve a 3-hour class.  Very disappointing.

Let’s be frank, shall we.  Getting a goody (or swag) bag is fun.  That’s one of the perks of the Gala dinner. This. Goody. Bag. Was. Not. Fun.  First, Vogue Knitting gave us the Fall 2014 issue, which at this point I can say, FROM LAST YEAR! Which I, and probably everyone else in the room, have already read.  THEN, Rowan must have used this dinner as a write-off to get rid of one of the ugliest yarns I have ever seen.

VKL NYC Weekend
Can you say UGLY Yarn? This is IT. The complete contents of the not-so-swag, not-so-good, goody bag.

And thank goodness for Vogue that a woman from Eileen Fisher was their guest speaker. Otherwise, there would have been nothing in the goody bag at all. The Eileen Fisher Company was able to clean out its promotional merchandise closet by giving us each a ballpoint Eileen Fisher pen (yes, really!) and a laundry bag for fine washables. Oh, let’s be fair. They also gave a “You and a Friend” $25 coupon off of at least a $50 purchase, which is reasonable as I don’t think they sell anything for under $50 (unless perhaps a pair of their tights, which you could then wash in the garment bag). There was a pill remover that looks halfway decent, and that rounds out the bag. Nothing at all like last year, where the bag was Fab-u-Lous!

Finally, on Sunday, a fun class! Beading 101. The instructor, Laura Nelkin, was really informative and thorough. OMG, just thinking of the possibility of making more decisions about what to make – to include beads! – both thrills and frightens me!  Another stash opportunity?  [Side note: I visited my friend Linda, a fantastic! beader, and her bead stash rivals anyone’s yarn stash. (She is also a crocheter, so she is probably hiding a yarn stash somewhere.)] Laura was funny. She told us that bead purchases are less noticeable because the packages are so tiny.  Of course, I am not in a position to have to think about that (as I live alone) but it was still amusing.

VKL NYC Weekend
Here are the beads I used in the class, and my little swatch from the lessons.

Laura brought many examples of her work to illustrate her lesson, and one was more stunning than the next.

One of my favorite expressions is “you can have reasons or results,” meaning I don’t want to just complain. What can I do to make my next experience better?  Here’s what I’m going to think about over the next few months.

  1.  Spend more time thinking about what classes to take. Maybe do a themed approach and take all color work, designing or how to dye yarn type classes.
  2. Think about only going to the Marketplace, and one class.
  3. Think about making a full weekend out of  it,  and include doing other things in the city.
  4. Think about going to VKL in another city as a mini-vacation.
  5. Don’t go next year? (I don’t think so, but it IS an option.)

Oh, I did meet some really nice women.  Two in particular – the lady I sat next to in the Crochet class actually knits pieces for designers – you see her work in knitting patterns, ads and magazines. How cool is that!

I also met a lovely woman from Brazil who designs scarves. I think she won’t mind if I link to her designs for you. I really appreciated the conversation we had about widowhood and living with loss.

I am going to share my Marketplace finds in my next post.  I am very proud of myself for being (a little) conservative in my purchases.

Cross Stitch Finds

Cross Stitch Finds

One of my secrets for finding inspiration is just way too easy that I am always surprised that I haven’t seen anyone else mention this. Have you ever noticed that cross stitch patterns are easily translatable for knitting?  They use the same grid designs that are used for knitting patterns and I find that cross stitch patterns are more prolific than knitting design patterns.

This is the reason why I always try to include links for deals for cross stitch products on my offers page.  This post is about me not assuming you knew why they are included.

I have one of the best books – a Reader’s Digest Big Book of Cross Stitch Designs – that I bought for this very purpose.  Its designs are simple to follow and range from basic to complex in its colorwork.

Cross Stitch Finds

I also subscribe to Jenny Hart’s sublime stitching newsletter. Her designs are for embroidery, not cross stitch, but I have ordered some of them to incorporate into knitting as well.

I love the crossover from one medium to another.  There is a woman who displays her art of prints focused on yarn and knitting stitches at the Vogue Knitting Live shows. I can only wish that I were that talented! (I will update the post with her name and works when I find it – or after the next VKL if she is showing there again.)

Here are some cross stitch inspirations that I just love –

Cross Stitch Finds

Cross Stitch Finds

2014-12-28 12.46.37

Cross Stitch Finds

Where do you find inspiration?

Knitting Inspiration

Holiday Sale for Knitting Inspirations

I took some time off last week for a staycation which mostly consisted of cleaning out my “arts and crafts” room, i.e. organizing my stash, and taking advantage of some holiday sales.

While I was in the mall, I took some pictures of some fair isle or other knitting inspirations.

Knitting Inspiration

Knitting Inspiration

Knitting Inspiration

and then I went  on Etsy and found this lovely Missoni vintage blouse.

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Just gorgeous!

Hats Done but not Done Well

Hats Done but not Done Well

I completed two hats over the Thanksgiving and winter holiday breaks, but neither turned out well.  First, I reluctantly made a pattern that LD selected on Ravelry. I didn’t like it because it didn’t look like it would sit snugly on her head.  I made it anyway, without making any changes to the pattern despite my concerns.  I was able to complete it in a day or two as it is knit with bulky yarn, and it turned out just like the picture!  The report back was that it’s too big. No surprise there.

Hats Done but not Done Well

Here are some photos of me modeling the hat as LD often treats me as paparazzi and shields herself from my photo taking attempts. (I can’t really blame her. I think it’s a natural instinct as I remember doing the same thing when I was young.)

Hats Done but not Done Well

I think it turned out cuter than I expected but the fit just isn’t right.

Then ES asked for a hat, picked out a basic pattern on Ravelry then picked out the snowflake design from Nicky Epstein’s Knitting Block by Block book.

I diligently created a swatch, washed it, measured it, and calculated the number of stitches, including the width of the design in my determination.  All that said and done, the hat also came out too large. I compared the hat’s end results to my swatch, after washing the hat too, and the stitches were just totally different sizes. What I learned from this experience is to do the swatch with a design in it, because that changes the tightness of the stitches.  Aaaargh.  I gave ES more washing instructions in the hope that this wool/cashmere blend may shrink a little more.

Hats Done but not Done Well

Hats Done but not Done Well

Hats Done but not Done Well

Isn’t it pretty though?

Hats Done but not Done Well. Very frustrating.

December 2014 Reading

Here’s my reading update for December 2014. I found this great quote (from Nick Hornby) to justify (to myself) some of my lighter reading predilections this month.

I’m beginning to see that our appetite for books is the same as our appetite for food, that our brain tells us when we need the equivalent of salads, or chocolate, or meat and potatoes.

My brain was telling me to go light, light, light with a Nora Roberts trilogy, and go deep for relationships with Carol Wall’s memoir, Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening, and to delve deeper into loss and death with Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory and Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

When I started the month, I thought that I was going to go overboard  by buying too many books, but after two splurges (and one book on back order so it doesn’t count for this month!) the purchases stopped.  I had hit the Interweave book sale and then a book fair at my temple and was satisfied.

Books Bought December 2014

150 Scandinavian MotifsJane Mucklestone
Unexpected Afghans Robyn Chachula
Graphic Knits Alexis Winslow
The BetrayersDavid Bezmozgis
The Kosher Carnivore: The Ultimate Meat and Poultry CookbookJune Hersh
The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten FatMichael Ruhlman
Encyclopedia of Jewish FoodGil Marks

The Betrayers was purchased for a book club meeting in February, so I haven’t even opened it yet. I’ve coveted the three books from Interweave Press for some time, so was thrilled to get them at a discount at an extended Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale. The only thing wrong with the Kosher Carnivore is that it doesn’t have any Pork recipes (can you imagine!). Pork is one of my favorite meats, but I had to buy this book anyway because it has some good recipes (for example, Coffee-Crusted Hanger Steak,  Roasted Veal Shoulder with  chicken liver stuffing, Simple Spatchcocked Chicken and roasted root vegetables) to get me out of my usual cooking methodology.  I think Simple Spatchcocked Chicken was one of the recipes I looked at while determining to buy the book, and this description definitely leveraged my decision:

Grab your dictionary and you’ll find that spatchcock is a method of splitting (butterflying) a chicken. It’s a fun word, which you can use to impress your friends or win at Scrabble. If time is of the essence, but you want to make a crispy, flavorful roast chicken, spatchcocking is a great option.

December 2014 Reading

I completely excelled at reading this month! I rediscovered my library beyond the e-selection, and now juggle between my e-books and my hard books, and my knitting – oh, yeah and work and life too.

December 2014 Reading

The HeistDaniel SilvaNot a fan
The Next AlwaysNora RobertsEnjoyed it
The Last BoyfriendNora RobertsEnjoyed it
Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open HeartCarol Wall Thumbs Up
Europe on a Budget: Real Stories from Studying and Backpacking Around EuropeMartin Westerman and Mark PearsonEnjoying it
Big Little LiesLiane MoriartyEngaged to the end
The Italian WifeAnn HoodBig Thumbs Down - did not get through the first chapter
Desire LinesChristina Baker KlineCaptivating but un-fulfilling
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of EverythingSteven D. Levitt, Stephen J. DubnerReturned to the library to read another time
Vogue Knitting, Winter 2014/2105MagazineGood
Eat the Yolks: Discover Paleo, Fight Food Lies, and Reclaim Your HealthLiz Wolfe, NTPGood, have not finished it yet
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the CrematoryCaitlin DoughtyToo much - skimmed through toward the end
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?Roz ChastThumbs Up
The Perfect HopeNora RobertsGood

I was thinking which was my favorite book this month. I thought it might be Eat The Yolks because it explains the Primal/Paleo food movement, scientific thought and reasoning so well. I would highly recommend it.  However, the author’s writing style is a little too chatty for me. On one hand, it’s good because the information is presented at a personal level, but on the other hand, it’s annoying.

Then the tales from the Crematory was really fascinating.  We just hit the 3rd year anniversary of DDSO’s passing, and I was wondering what state his body was in at this point. so it was really good timing for me to happen upon this book.  Not that I got this question answered exactly, because the author worked in a crematorium and DDSO is buried, but she expounded upon many cultures’ handling of death, as well as the body’s decaying progress/process.  So it was good, but it went on a little too much for me and I ended up skimming through the last third of the book.  I would still recommend it though.

I also enjoyed Roz Chast’s book. It was funny, it was moving, it was complete.  A complete story that told the story of her parents’ relationship with each other and with her, and the struggle through their final years. A quick read (2-3 hours) and totally engaging.

In the end, I must go with Carol Wall’s memoir, Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening, as my favorite reading this month.  Carol hired Mister Owita to help with her landscaping and together they also grew a friendship. The book is about how one doesn’t really know what other people are thinking or going through, how one’s perceptions of other people’s lives are never really how you imagine, and how people get along, or don’t. It’s one of those books that you want to know how the relationships and the people turn out but at the same time you don’t want it to end.

VKL NYC Homework!

Just a quick reminder that some of the Vogue Knitting Live classes have homework!  Rather than wait till the night before, I am going to look at the homework now, over the holidays, and see what I need to do.

Hey! C’mon. This will be my 4th time attending the NYC event, and the first time that I’ve actually planned to do the homework AHEAD of time!  Usually, it occurs to me while I’m packing my bags the night before.  Yeah, sure I’ve survived and everything is fine.  But why not do myself (and you!) a favor and allow it to be completed in a leisurely fashion?  Why not indeed.

VKL NYC Homework

Luckily 2 out of my 3 classes don’t require homework.

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Maybe that’s one of the reasons I picked them? (Just kidding!)

Knitting Update

Knitting Update

Finally! The update that I’ve been waiting to write and to show you what I’ve done with that beautiful yarn from Shunklies, through Etsy.


I finally decided upon a crocheted scarf that would more clearly display the segue from one color combination to the next.  I also included a couple of rows of white to show off the colors better. (One of the tips from Lucy Neatby in my Vogue Knitting Live class, Various Variegations, last year.)

Knitting Update

Knitting Update

Knitting Update

…and I don’t know if you can tell, but it is really long!

Knitting Update

I’m pretty sure I am going to sew the ends together, so that when I double or triple it to wear I don’t have to worry about it coming apart.

…but wait! There’s more!  I decided to use up the leftover yarn by making a long i-cord that can be used as a necklace or scarf or wrapped around my wrist.

Knitting Update

It’s not done yet…but it sure is pretty…

Knitting Update

and then when that’s done…more projects await…

Knitting Update

Thanks to all the Black Friday / Cyber Monday specials…and this yarn was so lovely. I know I’m eventually going to get some more!

Reading Resolution Report

My New  Year’s Resolutions for the past two years have included reading goals.  I am happy to announce that I have surpassed the goal of reading at least two books each month!

I have been coveting the book Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby for some time now. It’s a collection of his monthly column articles, “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” that ran for a decade in “The Believer.”   I’ll admit that I’ve only read the first two columns but I am already hooked.  He is irreverent, funny, literary and insightful.


I am going to adopt his reporting method and share my reading adventures on a monthly basis.

Without further ado, here’s November 2014.

Books Bought November 2014

The Paleo Solution: The Original Human DietRobb Wolf
Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole HogMatthew McCarry and Stacy Toth
Easy Paleo Gelatin TreatsCaitlin Weeks
Make Ahead Paleo RecipesSarah Swanson
The GriftersJim Thompson
The All-Girl Filling Station's Last ReunionFannie Flagg
The HeistDaniel Silva
Ten Years in the TubNick Hornby
Noro Magazine, Fall Winter 2014Magazine
Debbie Bliss Magazine, Fall Winter 2014Magazine
Vogue Knitting 2014 CrochetMagazine

The abundance in Paleo material was due to Amazon’s Kindle special of Paleo-oriented eBooks for $0.99 and above – well, even one was free!  I could not resist!

One of my book clubs is reading The Heist. I’m not liking it so far, but I keep telling myself that book clubs help me read material other than what I would choose on my own.  It will be interesting to listen to the others’ reviews.

Here is my November Reading Report

You Should Have KnownJean Hanff KorelitzOkay
The Warmth of Other SunsIsabel WilkersonThumbs Down (did not finish)
Twenties GirlSophie KinsellaThumbs Down (did not finish)
The GriftersJim ThompsonReally Liked
The Last RunawayTracy ChevalierReally Liked
The All-Girl Filling Station's Last ReunionFannie FlaggNot enthralled, still reading
The HeistDaniel SilvaStill Reading
Ten Years in the TubNick HornbyLoving it so far
Pros & ConsJanet Evanovich and Lee GoldbergHated it
Beyond BaconMatthew McCarryYUM! Will be a good reference.
Easy Paleo Gelatin TreatsCaitlin WeeksUninspiring

I really enjoyed The Last Runaway and The Grifters this month. The Last Runaway is about a Quaker Woman who lives in a community on The Underground Railroad route.  It’s a fascinating read on slavery, Quakers, relationships, history (and quilting) and was written by the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring (on my To Read list) Tracy Chevalier.

The Grifters, written in the 1970’s, is about a man who lived primarily by conning people, but it is also about how he had a normal life in order to hide the illegal one. Since it was written over 3 decades ago, it also provides a glimpse into the culture and customs of that era (in which I grew up!).   This one was made into a movie (for which Anjelica Houston was nominated for an Oscar).  Some members of my book club want to read this during a busy month, so they can watch the movie instead. I think it would be better to read the book first and then all watch the movie together!