Wednesday, June 27, 2012

TNNA Columbus

Getting caught up on everything I
missed while at TNNA!
I'm back from Columbus with many souvenirs (among them, the summer cold that's been going around) & stories.  It was quite the whirlwind and I'm glad to be home; in the last week and half, I logged about 1700 miles on the road, so I'm more than a little excited to stay close to home for the rest of the summer.
This time around, we had a booth for and The Wool Wide Web.  We were in the same corner as Deep South Fibers, directly across from Ysolda Teague's booth - she built a yarn shop from the ground up!  I didn't have as much time to prowl the show floor as I did last year, but I think I was able to hit most of the highlights.  Besides that, I got to attend Marly Bird's Designer Dinner (more on that later), the Vogue Knitting party, and the Craftsy party, so I really can't complain.  The downside to all of this was that I ran myself ragged and am now nursing a nasty cold; without fail, that's what happens when I don't get much sleep, travel too much over a short period of time, and throw in a whole bunch of stress on top of everything else.
This lil guy appeared outside our hotel
one morning!
For much of the weekend, I was running from meeting to meeting or event to event - anyone who knows me well can attest that the words "I'm hungry" are something I say several times throughout the day, but I didn't even have time to feel hungry over the weekend.  I did, however, think often of my family, especially on Saturday, which was the day of Grandpa's funeral.  I still can't help feeling that it's pretty crappy of me to attend a trade show rather than my own grandfather's funeral, even though my family insisted I shouldn't cancel my plans.  My colleagues and clients were all very supportive over the weekend, and my sister and parents sent me photos and updates so that I could at least feel like I was a part of everything.
Of course, at the end of the day, a little fiber therapy goes a long way - and there was no shortage of that throughout the weekend.  I came home with plenty of beautiful yarns to knit with, along with many other goodies as well.  The instagrams below are just the beginning; here's hoping I can share everything in more detail in the weeks to come - it's shaping up to be a very busy summer for me!
From top to bottom:  Lovely yarns from Anzula, Mountain Meadow Wool, Manos, and Lotus Yarns; Herdy mug; Anzula and The Uncommon Thread (from Gayla!); Amy Singer was hanging out these ninja bunny project bags for Knitty's 10th anniversary!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yak Hat Attack + Thank You

Yet another hat has come off the needles, this time it's Connie Chang Chinchio's Union Long Beanie!  Ever since Weekend Hats came out, I've longed to make this hat.  I snapped up two skeins of Lhasa Wilderness in Teal via Craftsy (I am still addicted to their deals!) and knit this up fairly quickly - the only thing that took longer than picking out the perfect button, however, was the amount of time it took me to post about it here on my blog! Thanks to Tyler, we have yet another silly backyard FO photo (I assure you, I am merely stopping to sniff the lilies):

Incidentally (and this is probably wholly inappropriate after such a silly photo), I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who's commented, e-mailed or texted me recently to say that my family is in their thoughts.  I really appreciate it, more than I could say in any blog post.  My family, friends, and even clients (who, quite honestly, I consider among my friends at this point) have been so supportive in the last week, and I cannot thank all of you enough.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

You'll be missed

Grandpa and Grandma, looking dapper.
On Monday, Grandpa completely stabilized and was taken off of 24-hour hospice; it seemed his journey would be a bit longer than expected.  I have to admit, I more than entertained the hope that he would linger for a while longer and perhaps I could attend the funeral upon my return from TNNA.  However, this morning my father called me just minutes after Grandpa passed away.  He was at peace and all of his sons were present; knowing that he was surrounded by family is certainly a comfort.  The funeral will be this Saturday in Kansas City, and though I am unable to attend, my sister in Portland found a flight back.  I'm glad that one of us can be there to lend support - I just wish I could join her!

It's funny the things you find out about someone after they pass away - for instance, I had no idea that Grandma and Grandpa took my Dad and his brothers to the World's Fair in Montreal.  Though I knew that his career was in the Kansas education system, but I had no idea how extensive his resume truly was.  Even the list of the many towns he and his family called home throughout the years yielded a few surprises!

Many of us are contributing memories to be read at the funeral - here is what I wrote:

Grandpa was always on-the-go.  He always seemed younger than his years to me, because he wasn’t about to let his age prevent him from visiting his son & family in Hawaii, taking a road trip down to Arkansas, or embarking on any sort of adventure with family or friends. He and Grandma came out to so many cross country & track meets for both my sister and me – not to mention all the other school events we had along the way. Their support and enthusiasm meant a lot to all of us. 

I remember visiting Grandma and Grandpa in various places throughout Kansas, though Pittsburg and Lawrence are the most vivid for me.  I joined him and dad at the Meyer family reunion a couple of times, though my fondest memory is of the float trip I took with Grandpa, Grandma, my Dad, and my sister, Adrienne.  Grandpa and Dad made the mistake of letting all three girls team up with their own canoe – then again, perhaps it was a decision they encouraged on purpose, because we ended up providing them with a good laugh or two as the day wore on.  At one point, our canoe got stuck in a shallow spot, and could NOT get free.  There was much laughing and eventually, the canoe was overturned, we were all soaked and overtaken with the giggles.  Meanwhile, Grandpa and Dad were casually observing from downstream.  (It’s also important to note that Grandma ended up being the one to accidentally flip the canoe, though if you asked anyone at the start of the day, I would have been the prime candidate). At any rate, that trip numbers among my fondest memories.

Grandpa was at my high school and college graduations, and I feel very lucky that he could also be at my wedding in Kansas City seven years ago (Grandma, I’m sure, was there in spirit).  Neither him nor I were big on phone calls, but I do remember one year when he called to wish me a happy 30th birthday – it really made my night! One of my favorite traditions was the family meet-up at one of Grandpa’s favorite spots, the Free State Brewery in Lawrence.  Tyler and I credit those outings as the reason why we became passionate about craft beers – a legacy that, as any beer connoisseur knows, is worth passing on. Whenever we hoist a delicious beer from Free State Brewery, we will give a little toast to honor and celebrate Grandpa. 

Christmas 2009, Grandpa is wearing the scarf I knit for him.
Though I'll miss Grandpa very much, I am comforted to know that he is no longer suffering at the hands of dementia and he has finally been reunited with Grandma.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Change in Plans

Mere days before I'm off to the TNNA trade show in Columbus, I found myself heading down to Kansas City unexpectedly.  Good thing Tyler had a three-day weekend and we live near an airport with 24-hour car rental, because last-minute plane fares were insane.  I suppose many would still chose the convenience of flying over a 9-hour drive both ways, but I would much rather do the crazy road trip.  

Last Thursday night, my grandfather was moved into 24-hour hospice because he'd taken a turn for the worse; it seemed the timeline we were looking at would put the funeral smack dab in the middle of the TNNA trade show - isn't that how these things always go?  I'm sure my boss, coworkers, and clients would understand it if I chose to attend my grandfather's funeral instead of coming to the trade show, but then I would be letting all of them down and leave them holding a sizable bag (actually, they'd be screwed, because we need all hands on deck to staff the booth AND meet with clients concurrently).   And then, the other side of the coin, I would feel like a selfish turd for choosing work over saying goodbye to my grandfather and being there for my family.

Of course, these things are always a guessing game.  He could hold on for another week or month.  In fact, he has made such improvements in the last 24 hours, he was taken off of 24-hour hospice (and is back to regular hospice), if you can believe that.  He's comfortable and his vital signs are surprisingly good today, more importantly he isn't in any pain, and I still have a shred of hope that I can come back from Columbus and drive back down to Kansas City to attend the funeral.  Is that insane?  I don't know, probably.  We're getting ready to drive back to Chicago today.  I still have plenty of work to do before getting rental car #2 to drive the five hours to Columbus this Thursday, plus the nagging suspicion I'm forgetting to do something really important to prepare for the show.

However, I am so happy that I was able to drop everything and say goodbye to him in person and give a modicum of comfort to my parents and uncle.  I wish it could be more, but it's time to get back home so Tyler can go to work tomorrow.  I've got some yarn waiting for me when I get home - on Thursday night, I did what any sensible knitter would have done after receiving bad news: I bought enough luxury yarn to make a Color Affection shawl.  I don't forsee much knitting time in the near future, but I think it will be the perfect project for a time like this (sadly, I am putting my attempt at seamless crochet on hold til I can give it my full attention).

There were some great photos in my Grandpa's room that I hadn't ever seen before, so I tried to capture them via instagram - here's one of him with my Grandma when they were young rascals:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Possibly Maybe CAL

There is a CAL starting today in the Lorna's Laceaholics Ravelry group to kick off Kristin Omdahl's brand new design in Honor, Soldier Love.  I'm not entirely certain I have the crochet chops to complete this CAL, but thought it would be fun to try anyway!

I'll be using Shepherd Sock...though I wish I was using Honor, because it's a really soft and amazing Alpaca/Silk blend (I have a little in my stash, but not enough to use for this CAL).  I just couldn't get my act together to obtain the two skeins needed - all this pre-TNNA prep has been insane - and then I found some custom sock colors in my stash from back when I dyed yarn at Lorna's Laces.  The only problem is, which one to choose?

From L-R: Inky, Grass Green & Firefly Stripe, and The Curse of Millhaven:

The other burning question on my mind is, "Will I make it past the swatching stage?!"  There will be tutorial videos and help along the way, so hopefully there is enough hand-holding for a total crochet newbie like me to successfully complete a scarf (I don't have any illusions that I can create anything more than that!).  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Countdown to TNNA

Instagrammed: Beulah Cardi
If it seems like my blog is a little less active than usual, it's because I'm back in the submarine (the term Tyler and I use whenever we're working a ton and not coming up for much air).  TNNA is just around the corner and there is much to do between now and then!  Besides that, I am also trying to give myself some time off before things get all crazy busy again.  In a nutshell, that means that I am knitting faster than I can blog about it.

The biggest knitting accomplishment of the past month would definitely be finishing my Beulah Cardigan.  It's been a while since I've done a skinny-yarn sweater, and this one was actually pretty quick to knit (relatively speaking).  What always takes me the longest is getting enough chutzpah to seam and sew on the buttons.  In this particular scenario, those final details took several weeks for me to complete. Unfortunately, that's quite standard for me.

The pattern is Mercedes Tarasovitch-Clark's Beulah Cardigan from the Spring 2012 Knitscene.  I think this is the first sweater I've made in a long time that fits absolutely perfectly!  The pattern calls for Kitchen Sink Dyeworks Seacell Merino, which is (regrettably) discontinued, so I subbed in The Wool Dispensary Deadly Stimulant in Tightrope, which I bought from Doodlebug Yarn.  My gauge swatch ended up being a little smaller than specified, but I didn't want to go up a needle size - #6 needles are probably the largest size I'd dare to use for a fingering-weight sweater.  So I did a little math and determined that if I used the numbers for the next size up, everything should work out fine.

This is usually where I run into trouble, but surprisingly my math held true and I have a gorgeous sweater that fits me just the way I like!  As you can see, I skipped the embroidery detail - though it's a nice touch, I am crap at embroidery and thought it best to use some fancy buttons instead.  I've been staring at this set of buttons since last November (they were part of a birthday gift from my boss), trying to decide what sweater pattern I should use them for.  They proved a little tough to photograph, but I love the way they're slightly mismatched yet still manage to look like they're related - plus the green and yellow colors contrast perfectly with the purple-y black yarn.  I don't think it could be a more perfect match!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Craftsy Mystery Box!

I have to say, I'm a big fan of Craftsy.  Their online workshops and courses are awesome, and I am kind of addicted to shopping their yarn deals.  This is the first time I've ever purchased a mystery box from them, however, and I've been eagerly awaiting its arrival!  There was apparently a delay with getting the boxes shipped out, and I received a nice note from Craftsy letting me know that it will be shipping - expedited - shortly and to please enjoy a free One-Skein Shrug Workshop for my trouble.  Pretty great customer service if you ask me!

Anyway, I'm kind of obsessed with Craftsy deals.  They're a lot like Groupon goods (another thing I'm addicted to) - for a limited period of time, certain products are available for purchase at a discount.  For example, a current deal is for 20% off skeins of Baah! La Jolla yarn in Grey Onyx.  The deals are constantly rotating, and there's usually a range of yarn choices and colors as well as other crafting products such as quilting fabric or purse handles.

I've noticed that Mystery Boxes tend to go on sale at the end of the month.  This time, there were two to choose from:  a box valued at $100, which sold for $40, and a box valued at $60, which sold for $25 (plus $9.99 shipping). I thought I'd start out with the less expensive box to dip my toe in the Mystery Box waters.

This Craftsy Deal includes:

A Mystery Collection of Quality Goodies
  • Contents valued at more than US $60 retail
  • Several different types of yarn
  • Knitting needles from a top brand
So what was inside my Mystery Box?

One Pair Size 13 Lantern Moon straight needles, 1 skein Cascade Yarn Taormina, and 4 skeins of Ironstone Warehouse Flake Cotton Yarn (1 each in blue, green, purple and hot pink).

I have to say, I was a tiny bit disappointed.  The Lantern Moon needles are lovely, but I guess I thought there would be more of a yarn selection, rather than four (very pretty) colors of the same yarn plus a skein of novelty yarn.  Buyer beware, right?!  However, the cotton yarn has good yardage (328 yards per skein) and I'll definitely put it to good use - already thinking about some summer hats and perhaps washcloths and scrubby sponges for gifting!

For what I got vs. what I paid, it's still a great value - the needles alone retail at about $20.  Did anyone else order a mystery box last month?  What was in yours?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Amaranth x 2

Amaranth: Organik Claystone
Last month, I got the chance to help a client out and test knit a new hat pattern by Kate Gagnon Osborn, the Amaranth Hat! Perfect timing, considering I've just started to embark on Operation: Mad Hatter.  It also gave me a chance to give Organik from The Fibre Company a try - it's a blend of organik merino, alpaca and silk.  This is one of those yarns that has to be knit up to be fully appreciated - not that it isn't lovely in the skein, but once you have a bit of knitted fabric to touch, you realize just how soft and snuggly your finished project will be!  It reminds me of one of my favorite yarns that has been discontinued - Prairie Silk from Brown Sheep.  Many years ago, I made a sweater with Prairie Silk and it is still, to this day, one of my favorites.  Not only is it soft and warm, it has barely pilled in five-plus years - a feat I attribute to the addition of silk to the composition of the yarn.  I'm willing to place my bets that Organik has similar properties, a prospect that thrills me to no end!

Amaranth: Malabrigo Vaa
Naturally, when one is test knitting a pattern, there are often a few small details that need to be ironed out. This is actually a very easy lace chart to follow and a fast-knitting hat (and I have now deemed it error-free!).  In fact, when we were trying to clarify a few last-minute details, I ended up casting on for a second hat and finishing it in a matter of days!

The first version was made using Organik in Claystone; the second version was knit with yarn from my stash (Malabrigo Worsted in a really awesome dye lot of Vaa, if you're curious!).  Amaranth #1 gets to live in my soon-to-be-overflowing hat bin; Amaranth #2 will be gifted to someone special later this year!

The Amaranth pattern is available exclusively at Doodlebug Yarn for the month of June - and hey, if you use my coupon code (HBSBlog), you can get $5 off your purchase of both the pattern & yarn...which is basically like getting the pattern for free!

Amaranth: Organik Claystone