My Stitches West 2015 Highlights

As mentioned previously, I went to Stitches West this past weekend. All weekend long, my friends and I were commenting how fun and relaxing it is to spend time with “our people”, and that is the best description I can think of for how much fun I had over the weekend. It is the first time I’ve ever had the chance to attend a Stitches event, and I thought I’d share my highlights from it, in case any of you wonder whether or not it’s worth the money.

  • First, yes, it’s worth the money because it only costs $2o (or less, if you find a coupon) to get into the marketplace for the whole weekend! There are lots of familiar yarn companies, but also lots of indie people to explore. I’ve heard complaints that there are too many big names, but my thought on that is that if you have a particular company you really love, it’s a treat to be able to explore their full line of yarns and colors. Typically, yarn stores pick and choose which bases of yarn to carry, and then colors from within those. If you really want to see the full range, this is the place to do it!
  • Yoth (Yarn On the House) seemed to be the most popular booth in the entire place. Every time we passed by, they were selling out entire shelves of yarn, and the next morning, a new stock magically appeared. I had not heard of this company prior to the weekend, so it was a great discovery!
  • Being the color fanatic that I am, I was thrilled to see lots of gradient kits on sale in various booths. I don’t know if this is necessarily a trend, but I’m glad to see they’re still popular. Playing around with mixtures of colors is half the fun for me, and to walk past booths with lots of color-coordinated kits hanging on a wall is a visual rush. Neighborhood Fiber Company and Abstract Fiber were my favorite stops for these kits because of their extra-rich, saturated colors.
  • As far as designers go, is there any better a pair than Steven Be and Stephen West? “Dynamic Duo” is such a well-suited title for them. In a future post, I will share the photo I took with them, but suffice it to say, they make an entrance and there’s no mistaken identities with them! However, aside from their inclination to dress to be noticed, they have equally fun personalities and are the most pleasant people I’ve ever had the pleasure of asking for autographs. I was very honored they complimented one of my designs, and I will keep the photo forever.
  • Apple Tree Knits wins my award for prettiest yarn cakes. I had to revisit their booth a number of times before I could pick which cake of yarn I wanted because the truth is, I wanted them all! It’s on my list to learn how to dye and wind yarn into a cake to look like these!

My BooCat

Boo

I knit this little mouse from a Spud and Chloe book a few years ago for my daughter. However, you can see who gets the most playtime with it. I will fill you all in about my fun at Stitches West this past weekend, but thought I would offer up a little Monday levity until I’ve had a chance to collect myself from all the yarny fun.

And if you ever find a week-old kitten abandoned under a tree, take it home, bottle feed it and take care of it, you will have yourself the most fun, affectionate little pet you could ever imagine! My little BooCat, as I affectionately call her, gives me something to smile about every day.


Haute Couture

Most of us can’t afford haute couture, but the skill and attention to detail is something any crafter will appreciate. I can only hope that one day I will have developed an equal skill with knit and crochet. Enjoy!


Color Fields with Yarn

I am honored for a second year to be designing a pattern for Unwind for LA’s 2015 Yarn Crawl. This is one of my favorite yarn and fiber related events, and it is exciting to be asked to design a piece that is guaranteed to be seen by people from all over. Of course, there are specs to the project – I don’t get to simply choose whatever colors and yarn I feel like. It is up to my boss to decide which yarns she would like to promote during the event, and I have to work a design around the colors and yardage I’m given. Of course, this is the difference between working as a fine artist and working as a designer.

I have to admit that the colors she gave me – purple and yellow – did not speak to me at first. Despite the fact they are complementary colors, I didn’t feel inspired to put them together. When up against creative block, I’m always grateful for all the hardworking fine artists out there, both past and present, who produce work purely from inspiration. As I browsed through books and magazines looking for inspiration, I realized that Piet Mondrian’s colorblocking and other color field artists were the perfect jumping off point. I can’t wait to show you the results, but until then, I hope you enjoy browsing through the art that inspired my latest project!


The Perfect Weekend

It’s always lovely when a fun holiday falls on a long weekend (the kids have the day off school because of President’s Day) and the weather happens to be perfection. I had a very stressful week last week, complete with getting stuck in a pitch-black subway tunnel – a first for me, despite the fact I’ve ridden the metro in at least four cities! To say the least, by Friday, I was in a very frazzled state of mind.

The kids had Valentine’s parties at school Friday morning and were dismissed at noon, so I started the weekend off by taking them to the beach for the rest of the day. I went to a party at the yarn shop on Saturday, enjoyed family time at home, and went out with friends whom I like to think of as my sisters from another mother. We are heading back to the beach today, and I can honestly say that when we wake up tomorrow morning to head back to work and school, we will be doing it with smiles on our faces after the best weekend we could have asked for. I hope all of you had an equally lovely weekend, and that you enjoy browsing the photos from mine.

The perfect song – for any time, in my opinion! Even more perfect, riding around with your best friends singing it!

My son taking a breather after all his boarding.

My son taking a breather after all his boarding. Forget Disneyland! Malibu is our happiest place on earth.

Look closely! That spout you see is a whale. Sadly, I was not able to capture the whale coming out of the water! It is a rare treat to be able to stand on shore and see whales.

Look closely! That spout you see is a whale. Sadly, I was not able to capture the whale coming out of the water! It is a rare treat to be able to stand on shore and see whales.

A Valentine's gift for the kids - these garden cookies are supposed to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

A Valentine’s gift for the kids – these garden cookies are supposed to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

One of our cuddle cats - you can see why my daughter named her Bonita (for my non-Spanish speakers, that's Pretty).

One of our cuddle cats – you can see why my daughter named her Bonita (for my non-Spanish speakers, that’s Pretty).


32 Awesome Ideas

The most comprehensive list I’ve ever seen of what to do with leftover yarn. If you’re in organizational mode, maybe this will help you clean out your yarn closet. If not, have fun browsing!

 


My Valentine’s Go-To Gift

KnittingDishcloth
One of my Spanish-speaking friends calls Valentine’s Day “El Dia de Amor y Amistad” (The Day of Love and Friendship). I’m not sure if this term is used widely or only in her country, but it describes how I feel about this holiday. Lots of people don’t like Valentine’s Day because it is a painful reminder of heartbreaks, the fact that they’re single, etc., and I don’t blame them for that. But I can’t think of any reason why it has to be only about romantic love. Of course I like to celebrate it with my husband, but I also love to celebrate it with my kids, and I think it’s a great day to celebrate friendships too.

I have a new friendship in my life at the moment, but since it is new, it is also in that stage where overdoing a gift could make things extremely awkward. As you all know, I am a fan of making dishcloths, and I decided this holiday offers me the perfect chance to do something nice for her without making her feel uncomfortable. Because Valentine’s Day is a minor holiday, it is a great time to do something nice for someone in an understated way. Dishcloths are useful, and since I made them, they have that homemade touch, but they’re not sentimental. The perfect gift to say I care about my friend. The bonus for these is they’re easy to whip up in a day.

I use a very basic checkerboard pattern, but it makes the perfect-textured cloth. I hope you all enjoy!

Dishcloths
Knit and Purl Dish/Wash Cloth Pattern

Finished Measurements: Approx. 10.75 x 10.75 inches
Materials Needed: 95 yds worsted weight cotton yarn
US Size 7 needles
Darning needle (to weave in ends)

CO 42 sts.

Knit 8 rows (4 garter ridges).

Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: *k6, p6*, end k6.

Repeat these two rows 3 more times.

Row 9: Knit.
Row 10: *p6, k6*, end p6.

Repeat these two rows 3 more times.

After rows 9 – 16 are complete, switch back to Rows 1 and 2 for 8 rows. Continue alternating pattern every 8 rows until cloth is approximately 1″ shorter than desired.

Finish with 8 rows of knitting (4 garter ridges). BO and weave in ends.


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