Monday, April 14, 2014

Hanging with the Big Dogs (of knitting, that is!)

Knitterly: Fine Yarn, Finest ServiceLast week several of my knitting friends and I took a little road trip to a yarn shop in Petaluma, Knitterly. Among my knitting friends her in Sacramento, Knitterly is considered a Mecca for all things Yarn, and well worth the 100 mile drive across the Valley.  Two of us making the outing were Knitterly newbies and anxious to see what the fuss was all about.

Knitterly is a lovely shop in the old section of Petaluma.  The streets are lined with every manner of restaurant and retail shop, enough to make the trip worthwhile, even if there wasn't a yarn shop. Knitterly is known for its fine yarns and fibers, many of which I have heard my friends rave about and which, I might add, have never seen the bottom of my shopping bag.  Suffice it to say, it's like a candy shop that caters to sugar-holics.

I should back up and explain the level of expertise that comprised my traveling companions: one has never shied away from any pattern or expensive yarn, knitting in the most gorgeous uniform stitches that would make a knitting machine jealous...another friend IS a knitting machine, putting out more sweaters and shawls in a month than the rest of us could knit in a year...another dyes, spins, knits and weaves her own fibers, even spinning raw organic cotton from the plant.  These are not your basic potholder-making queens - these are the Big Dogs.

I don't consider myself a novice knitter, so when one of the group suggested we all choose some Habu yarn to make a shawl together, it seemed like a cool idea.  The shawl sample was absolutely luscious on the mannequin - I wrapped it around my shoulders, dreaming of a Paris evening.

You can do this, Laurel, I reasoned to myself. Though I have never knitted with such a fine yarn, I noted that the pattern was not that complex...just one single page of instructions. The yarn came on a cone, instead of a skein, so right away you feel like you've joined the Big Dogs. I even created a chart in Excel (I am the spreadsheet queen, remember!) so that I could visually "see" the pattern unfold.

And that, my friends, was the end of my usual "I can do anything" mindset. In three short days since I have possessed these cones from hell, I have ripped my work off the needles four (count them!) four times. Like I said, it isn't like the pattern is complicated - basically twelve repeating rows of 182 stitched yarn overs, knit togethers, etc. However, counting (endless counting!) has proven to be my Achilles heel, and this project depends on it. I remember hearing the sales associate from the shop tell one of the Big Dogs to create a lifeline along the CASE you make a mistake.

Lifeline, Schmifeline!

One of my basic rules of life is just DO IT - pick the project you want to do regardless of your skill level and just go for it. Well, consider me humbled, beaten into submission by Habu yarn cones. I woke up in the middle of a scourging nightmare of some dog chasing me last night to a revelation. I figured out why my stitches would not come out correctly. Instead of knitting two together after my yarn overs, I was knitting one. Hel-lo! Doesn't sound like much, but knitters will tell you it's huge.  I got up and set out to fix my error at 4:00 a.m. and was ecstatic that my counting became perfect.

Nirvana...right up until my stitches slipped off the needles, hanging in the air! After 15 minutes of trying to get the lost sheep back in the pen, in a fit of rage I ripped the whole thing back off the needles. By this time, I'm thinking that the Big Dogs will have to go on without me, and my Paris wardrobe will be devoid of a luscious Habu shawl.

But the sun always rises on a new day and armed with a hour of prayer, I wrestled the Habu into submission. I actually USED markers this time (I'm not fond of them, but the Big Dogs claim it's the secret to accurate counting). I also changed needles to help pick up this fine yarn. And I took my time. Sitting in the morning sun, I finally got past Row 5.

My shawl is going to rock and I am David defeating Goliath! I am Neil Armstrong walking on the moon! I am ready for battle and the Arc de Triomphe awaits my victorious entry!

Today, I AM A BIG DOG!


Laurel. Yeah to me in another day, grasshopper.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Identity understood

 Magpie Tales
Mag 214

photo by Kelsey Hannah

I am the Beloved
Complex and thoughtful
Creative and obsessive
Lover of beauty, lover of God
Compassionate and selfish
Shackled and free
Fragile and strong

Please check in on other musings at Magpie Tales

Laurel. Grateful.

Friday, April 4, 2014

"Wear Something Frenchy"

I am absolutely obsessed thinking about my travel wardrobe to Europe.  Even though we will be spending more time driving around the French countryside, I can't stop thinking about Paris! We have visited the "City of Romance" once before and what I noted is that the French women strolling on the streets never look tacky, sloppy or un-put-together. Paris fashion is iconic, even the street style. And I want to be a part of that scene!

Meanwhile, my friend Peg invited us to join them at a restaurant featuring all things Parisian, as she knows I'm obsessed.  I'm not sure what that will entail besides some great wine, but I'm all over it.

"Wear something Frenchy", she texted.

Okie dokie. Rev up the Pinterest and Polyvore, Laurel. 

I've already made some very chic black linen cigarette slacks out of the fabric I picked up at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics last month.  I love the weight of this particular linen and I know it will be so versatile for our trip.  All I need is some kind of white top (lace???)...already own the leopard print sweater...and those pointy toed heels...

Is that Frenchy enough, Peg??

My Polyvore set - "Wear Something Frenchy" 2014

Laurel. How many more days????
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