Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fall Inspiration and Stashing

My husband and I went for a gorgeous fall hike yesterday near the Teton Range, on the Idaho side. The colors on the drive up were amazing, and nearly all the trees are in full-fall-force. The sky was cloudy and a little grey, which set the muted colors off against the hills, and really highlighted the brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds of the aspens and maples.

Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons: the colors, my birthday (and now my anniversary, too!), wooly sweaters, tall boots, the smell of bonfires and the crispy-sweet taste of freshly picked apples. Mmm. It doesn't get much better than fall.

On the way to our hiking destination, we stopped at Mountain Knits in Driggs. I promised just a half-hour, but probably took a whole hour. It's not the biggest yarn shop, but it does have some wonderful treats, including some gorgeous cashmere sock yarn that I kept picking up, squeezing, and then putting back down again. I can't really justify $88 for a pair of cashmere socks right now! As it is, I kinda spent the grocery money for the week on yarn...ooops. I'll have to forgo my morning coffe shop lattes for a couple of weeks to make up for it! So, here's what I found: This incredible merino is spun very nicely--solid, almost springy. The colors were to die for, and I was able to find these and some others for swatching out a few projects spinning in my head right now.
These colors reminded me of the aspen trees we saw on the way there. The taupe looks like the trees that have already lost their leaves, while the orange and green are the leaves going and almost gone. I love the play of the colors against the neutral.
This sock yarn is very soft in wool and polymide, and looks just like the fresh persimmons I saw at the grocery store yesterday. I love, love, love corals, oranges, greens, yellows, and vibrant blues, and this orange is to die for. These socks are going to be mine, just have to find the right pattern.
And this, from Mountain Colors in Montana, looks just like the evergreens that set off all the colors around them. The wool is very soft and kissed with just a hint of mohair, making it ever-so-slightly halo'd. I love it, and hopefully it will make some nice socks for my dad.
There were many more beauties, of course, but I have to limit myself to projects that are do-able right now. I have too much "wishing yarn" laying around that I thought I'd have a project for, but once I've finally gotten around to it, I've realized that it's not my thing anymore. eBay, start your engines...we gotta make room for the new stash!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lazy Friday and My First Swap!

Today was lazy, lazy, lazy. I didn't have to work (yea!), except to teach one Pilates lesson first thing this morning, and I've mostly been just sitting around knitting. There are about a million things I should be doing, but...

I did run a few errands: went to the LYS to get some Bambou Soft I ordered, and then grabbed a skein of Trekking XXL, too. The fall colors (which don't show up so well in the photo) are very inspiring right now, and so luscious. I immediately cast a sock on, and the color knits very nicely, too.

We did a little shopping today, because we found out this week that DH will also be having surgery (on his shoulder). His is two days before mine. I'm kind of excited because if we both have a good recovery, it could mean a lot of fun free time together, but I'm also kinda could be a very exciting test of a very young marriage! Can you imagine? Don't worry, I'll keep ya posted on how this progresses...

I also made my favorite things tonight for dinner--Thai roasted pork and sticky rice. I remember in Thailand, when we were getting ready to go out to the sea for five days, our guide had a bag of food. I asked him what it was and he said it was lunch for "the guys," meaning the crew. I asked again what it was and he showed me: roasted chicken and sticky rice. I was very jealous of the crew that day, even though our meal was excellent. I love, love, love sticky rice, and after so much trying, I've finally learned how to make it properly. You just need one of these cool rice steaming basket things, which I tried to find all over Thailand, and ironically enough, had to buy at the Asian market back home.
So, I'm also doing my first swap! I am so excited! I've always been so jealous, reading other people's blogs and seeing all the fun things they've sent (and received) from their swap partners, and finally, I'm in! I found Chara Michele's blog last weekend and saw that she was having a swap sign-up, so I joined. I can't tell you how happy and inspired this makes me...I'm already thinking of what to make and send. Woohoo!

So, the sock is really coming along nicely. It's been a while since I've worked with sock yarn, and at first I was getting frustrated with how slow it was, but it seems to really be taking off now. The colors are amazing; they remind me so much of our sea kayaking trip to Lake Powell last year, which I've been thinking about a lot lately. It was amazing--I'll have to dig up the pics and post about it (that was pre-semi-regular posting for me, and actually right about the time my knitting flame was re-ignited).

Tomorrow should be an exciting day. First, I heard it's going to snow (again), which will make three Saturdays in a row with snow. We're tentatively planning a hiking trip with Kodi-Woo in the Tetons, which includes a yarn scouting trip for me at Mountain Knits in Driggs. I can't wait! I need to find some really wonderful cashmere or something cuddly and soft for a project I'm planning. The sock thing is going pretty well, too, so I might find something lovely for another pair. Happy Friday! We're off to drink wine at our LWS!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Some inspiration, please!

For the past several years (maybe ten years, actually?), I feel like I’ve gotten away from my creative side and much more into my analytical side. Both are “good” sides, I think, but it’s been interesting to look back and see how they haven’t really been working in concert as much as one-or-the-other. The creative side definitely overpowered anything else for the first twenty-five or so years of my life, but gave way, I suppose, for a need to have a job with a 401(k), benefits (hello...two knee surgeries in one year ain’t cheap, y’all), etc. My art buddies gave me a lot of flack about this, as you can imagine (who needs a 401(k) when you’re young and your soul is hungry?), but in recent months, many of them have confessed that they’d sell those souls for some retirement stability. However...

I’m feeling a need to feed my creative side these days. I’m not sure what or how this happened, but I’ve been feeling a little restless lately. Maybe it’s travel that inspired this, or maybe it’s been my recent bout of frenzied knitting in as a desperate need to unwind and de-stress, but the creative sparks are starting to come out of hibernation.

I’m sure my old art buddies back home will be thrilled (and gosh, it’s a hard question to answer all the time, “So, what are you doing creatively, though?).

So, what am I doing, creatively? Well, I’ve been knitting and thinking and dreaming and designing. When I first started knitting, I was about six years old. Knitting was dorky, and it was even dorkier when I was a teenager. I would knit on and off throughout my teens and twenties, but the patterns were nothing if not dorky—well, we call it retro now.

Then this big knitting emergence/renaissance thing came, and I refused to join in—hell, I already WAS a knitter, and I didn’t need to prove how “cool” I thought it was by naming myself something edgy, I guess, and I just kinda stood back and watched for a while. Yowza.

But I can say that I was delighted at the fantastic, modern, and exciting patterns coming out of this rennaisance. Then I started a blog that I never kept up with, then I joined a couple of email lists (not specically about knitting), and then ...well, I started talking and meeting other knitters and I discovered that you can buy yarn –really cool, gorgeous yarn—and it didn’t have to come from a mass-chain retailer or a knitting shop that had inventory from the ‘70s. Wooohoo!

Then I started noticing how all this women who started knitting, like, ten minutes ago were designing really cool, wonderful stuff, and well, why couldn’t I? I guess it never occurred to me in all the more than 25 years of knitting that these patterns didn’t just land on earth somehow, that someone had to actually create them. So, why not me?

It’s strange, because I think that once you open the door, the flood just starts pouring in. My head is full of ideas, my brain is soaking up techniques, my hands are knitting furiously. It’s almost as if there’s too much going on (well, with school, work, teaching Pilates, and now, knitting, there is just way too much going on!), but that’s not really the problem—the problem is how to get it all down—how to start without forgetting. How to knit the patterns I want to knit and at the same time create the stuff I want to create, and frankly, how to get my brain to control the scroll bar on the computer so I can read blogs and knit at the same time (I’m trying now, but it’s a little awkward, LOL!).

So, here I am with my little knitting blog, joining a few groups, and trying desperately to find out certain things, such as:

It’s a “blogosphere,” not “blogland”

What the heck “frogging” is (I now know, but can’t tell you how dumb I feel in retrospect, thinking it was some technical knitting term)

What the heck “Ravelry” is (and now I know that, too, and just signed up for my invitation, Lord only knows how long?)

How to do a KAL, and how to sign up

How to take really great photos of my stuff (obviously, the fact that we’re now moving to winter isn’t helping with actual daylight)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I'm in the WSJ!

Woohoo! I have a quote in the Wall Street Journal about kayaking! A couple of months ago, the writer emailed me and asked me a bunch of questions about kayaking in Asia. Only one of my quotes made it in (and none of my pics) but how cool is that?

Check it out: Anna's Thailand Kayaking Adventure

(Almost) FOs

I've got a few things that are just about finished and ready to wear. It always seems like I have a few things going at once, but nothing totally done! I've also been hard at work on a lot of swatching and sketching for some of the ideas that are going on in my head.

And then of course, work, school, and teaching my Pilates classes gets in the way of knitting every time! (Housework, you ask? Pah! We don't have no time for no stinkin' housework!! LOL!). Thankfully, I'll have all the time in the world in a couple of weeks, because I'm having knee overhaul number two! I was so freaked out and scared for the first one, but it wasn't bad at all, and I'm just relishing the knitting time.

So, here's what I'm working on today (which is a good thing, because it snowed again today. As in inches.) I love, love, love this sweater, the design, the yarn, everything. Love it! The original pattern had 3/4 sleeves that kind of rolled on the ends, but I really wanted long sleeves that repeated the decreasing rib at the top. It's almost finished! Just a couple more inches at the neckline, then just have to sew the sleeves. I love knit-in-the-round stuff for that reason, and this is my first sweater I've knit this way.

Here's kind of a closeup of that ribbing. I wish I could explain how soft the yarn amazing and just makes you want to....sleep in it!
I finished the Sunrise Circle Jacket and entered it in the Eastern Idaho State Fair (and got a stinkin' honorable mention!!!), but then after I blocked it, it was fitting a little bigger than I wanted it to, so I reblocked it...and now it's a little wonky! I'm not sure if I should just wear it and see if it works out, or re-block again. Hmmm...
And so I finished the Coachella in time for...yeah, the snow. Lovely. So, she really needs her ends woven in, but I'm in turtleneck mode, so she may go into storage with the rest of the summer clothes!
Here's the back. It's such a cool design, and I can't wait until next summer!
So, that's what I've got going on now. My LYS called to say that the Bambou Soft I ordered is in, which is for something I'm designing, and then I've got to find some other yarn for another idea I've got. Hope everyone is having a great weekend!