Modern Luxury's San Francisco Magazine featured my men's knitting group in their section called "Affinities" in the December issue! Click to enlarge the page, or click HERE to see the entire December 2014 issue.
Happy Holidays! (read: can you believe it's almost time to deck the halls and cross names off of lists?!)
Well, it's true. and there's no sense attempting to ignore it. Since we're weeks away from Halloween, that means that we are less than 12 weeks from the end of the year.
Have plans to knit for anyone this year? What will you make?
Socks? A hat? A cute little bag? Scarf?
This new compilation from Interweave includes 25 of their favorite patterns and as I looked through the copy the patterns looked like ones I'd have fun making for others.
The thing is, you really have to start early if you plan to make for a lot of people... and in order to begin, you must first decide what to make. Here are a few of my favorites:
My favorite piece is the Modern Quilt Wrap by Mags Kandis - Super yummy in Kidsilk Haze, I can imagine how excited someone might be receiving this as a gift. The colors make me smile, and I know that yarn is incredibly comfy, warm, and lightweight.
The Hourglass Rib Socks by Chrissy Gardner made it on my "love" list because it's an interesting pattern and it looked like the kind of design someone might make and then stash away for when they had the occasion to give a lovely gift. Anyone would love a pair of hand knit socks for the holidays, right? Cozied up in front of the fireplace... wearing gorgeously knit handmade socks... sipping cocoa, listening to holiday music while the snow falls (of fog rolls in if you're in San Francisco like me!)....
Less time consuming? The Wanderer cap by Jared Flood looks like an easy weekend project. Worked in another favorite yarn of mine (Shelter) its the type of timeless design we've come to expect from Mr. Flood.
OK last but not least... Ann Budd's Toe-up travelers caught my eye. A bit more interest in this design, and decidedly feminine, I especially like how the patterning continues up through the ribbing at the top of the sock. Crafted in Quince and Company Tern they have to be sheer luxury. (OK, OK... I love good yarn... what can I say!)
But what if the recipient is another knitter? I find these are the best people to knit for... they understand the time, energy, and heart that goes into a handmade item more than anyone else, because they also knit.
Perhaps you'd like to give a copy of this book to a friend for the holidays? I have a copy to send to you! To earn your chance, comment on this blog post and let me know what your favorite thing to make for the holidays is.... and you'll be entered!
(that "thing" could be something knitted, crocheted, quilted, carved, cooked, baked, or painted... whatever it is that sparks the holidays for you... share away!) -
Enter by Saturday, October 11, 2014 11:59pm.
Happy Holidays! :)
UPDATE: Winner Announced
It all starts with yarn. In this case, I was enamored by the random craziness and color-changing fun of "Crazy" by Stonehedge Mill. My goal was to create an interesting (but not overly complicated) project that would show off this unique product.
I'm really pleased with the result. the pattern isn't difficult to knit, and the finished cowl is visually interesting. I'm not sure which part is more appealing; the color shifting yarns or the angled stripes. Either way, it's a cowl that I enjoyed making and am excited to share with you.
Is it a difficult pattern? Not at all. In fact, I found it to be perfect for knit night and tv watching. The color changing yarns kept cheering me on as I worked, and I found that a lot of progress was made each time I sat down to work. With this truly random yarn you have no idea what the next row will look like!
The pattern is available as a .pdf download HERE for $4.00. It requires techniques including provisional cast on, knit/purl, increase/decrease, following a simple chart, kitchener stitch, and applied i-cord.
I. Love. Peru.
What a wonderful treat it was to get to celebrate my 40th birthday in this incredible country! I decided to break up the experience into a few different blog posts to spread out the fun.
First, after a quick overnight in Lima, we headed to the gorgeous town of Arequipa. Hilly and quaint, it's architecture made me smile from ear to ear.
Our hotel was the Casa Andina Private Collection; the building began its life in 1794. Beautiful, barrel vaulted ceilings and stone walkways welcomed us. The food was delicious and when we had dinner in the private restaurant it was probably one of the best meals of the trip.
The little shops in this town made me smile. I love seeing the souvenirs and offerings in different areas. It's interesting to me to see what locals feel is important enough to translate to product to sell to travelers.
One day we walked to Mundo Alpaca (Alpaca World!) - a museum/experience center where we got to spend about 20 minutes feeding the sweetest mini-herd of alpaca ever.
We learned about how they sort the fibers (it's one woman and a HUGE pile of fluff that she sorts by hand according to color, texture, etc.) and how the fibers are processed. There's also a museum of sorts showing older processing equipment... and a kind of "live experience" area where a couple master weavers demonstrate the craft of backstrap weaving.
I could watch these magic hands for hours. It's enchanting witnessing the lift..skip..skip...lift...lift...lift...skip of counting hands as they work through one pick of weaving. No charts...no notes - just tradition, experience, practice, and time.
We also might have gone to the Michell (yarn shop) store while there, and I might have purchased some alpaca yarn... just a skein or two ;)
Another adventure was the tour of the Monestary de Santa Catalina. Founded in the 16th century, it's really a city within a city. Chuck and I toured the grounds and learned about the nuns... where they slept, how they lived. The property has been restored because of tourism. (The monestary is still active, but the nuns live/practice in an area separate from the toured section.)
I ran out of space on my camera in this place. Everywhere we turned was another gorgeous photo waiting to be captured. After a while, I just allowed myself to enjoy the experience and it was really overwhelming how beautiful and peaceful the place was.
One of my favorite stories in the Monastery was about Sister Ana de los Angeles Montegudo (the most famous nun from there) who lived and died in the 1600s. She is known for causing miracles and making predictions. She slept on a bed of nails (in the photo below) and the painting above her bed was done of her after her death (a common practice for nuns in the monastery). Read more about her here.
Outside of those walls, we encountered lots of local children and women carrying adorable little lambs. How could I resist!! - I posed with this lamb and its owners and learned that this sweet little baby is only 2 weeks old. They bring the lambs out for photography and bring a different one each day.
We also visited Juanita the Ice Maiden (no photos, but you can learn about here here) - She was a sacrifice left on top of a mountain somewhere around 1450-1480, and her quickly frozen mummy was discovered in 1995. It was interesting to tour the small museum and see the artifacts, as well as to learn more about the rituals surrounding her sacrifice. The most interesting fact I learned was that she walked for miles and miles, dressed beautifully, and seemingly went willingly to her death.
Heading out of Arequipa, here's a quick night shot of part of the cathedral on the square. I loved this city and didn't want to leave. It had so much charm and was really interesting. If I had gone home after these few days, I would have believed that the trip was worth it.
Little did I know what fun was lurking at the next destination!
...to be continued! :)
During the past few weeks two of my projects have been released. A magazine article and a knitting pattern:
In the Autumn 2014 issue of Ply Magazine, I write about spinning, and the Men's Knitting Retreats. (and of course, as I try to write here about the article, I realize how difficult it is to write about writing!) haha
Also, the latest Cast On magazine features my latest pattern, Thara. This is a fun colorwork cowl that was inspired by Thai weaving.
The studio continues to buzz with activity. Working hard on the book, and I have a few other designs clicking their way through the process on their way to publication. This fall promises to be busy, and I'm looking forward to moving through the "to do" list that's filled with such exciting things!
The winged vest I designed for the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits is included in this newly edited collection. 27 patterns are included in the book, with the names/themes changed to remove the "Harry Potter" identity. This leaves folks with the lovely opportunity to be able to get the patterns in book form.
I believe that this book is available worldwide (the magazine was restricted to sales in the United States) so that makes for a good opportunity for those in other countries who were wishing for access to the patterns.
The book can be ordered via Interweave HERE, through your local yarn shop, or anywhere books are sold.
Thank you. Because of my generous and amazing friends I was able to raise $3,550.00 for AIDS Walk San Francisco, and for Team Project Open Hand. We gathered early on Sunday, July 20, 2014 in Golden Gate Park to rally together against HIV/AIDS, to remember those we have lost to the disease, and to celebrate the triumphs and milestones we have reached. It was also a time to remember the leading HIV/AIDS experts who lost their lives in the crash of MH17. We walked with purpose. Mindfully, and joyously.
It feels really good to be one in 20,000 people who meet together with a common purpose. With the efforts of everyone who gave, the walk raised well over 2.3 million dollars.
During the opening ceremonies, representatives of some of the 40+ benefiting agencies made introductions and spoke a sentence or two about the work they are able to do as a direct result of the donations made:
The walk itself took about 2 hours, and I spent that time talking with one of the Project Open Hand volunteers. We were greeted by bellydancers, bands, singers, and drum corps... each offering encouragement and thanks for our work. At the end of the day, I was tired, but felt inspired by accomplishing the goal of raising money for organizations who work tirelessly to do good.
Again, thank you.
As another way to say thanks, I did a fundraising drawing for those that donated. For every $25.00 they gave, their name was entered into a drawing for a bunch of amazing prizes (which were donated by more incredible friends and businesses!)
Without further ado, here are the winners!
Schacht Sidekick and Fiber Pack
Pearl bird bracelet
Kollage hat pattern & yarn
Kollage fingerless mitts pattern & yarn
Kollage shawl pattern & yarn
Cascade 21 skein rainbow
Hand knit gloves
Really Clear digital pattern library
3 years Knitters magazine
Abacus Counter 1
Abacus Counter 2
Kaye & Sandy Luck
Oak ribbon sock blockers
Jasmine lace hat pattern 1
Jasmine lace hat pattern 2
Johnny's Sock Kit
Chiffon Arm Knit Scarf 1
Chiffon Arm Knit Scarf 2
Chiffon Arm Knit Scarf 3
Aymara Cowl Kit
Hand knit owl by Belinda Creech
Hand knit owl by Cee Cee Creech
$45 gift certificate Beesybee Fibers
The Knitster autographed book
5 skeins Rhichard Devrize yarn
The Embellished Sock autographed book
Again, thank you for your donations, and for allowing me to walk for you.
Interweave just released a new book by Amy Christoffers, called New American Knits!
The designs are beautiful, and would be proudly worn to work, school, or out on the town. The book has a thoughtful mix of techniques, and I am confident that almost anyone will find a project in this book they might want to make.
My one criticism? There are no designs for men in the collection. There's one or two hats that guys would love, and while I see the reasoning behind not adding a third model to the book (cost/etc.) it's worth noting that there's a lack of brotherly love in this book.
But... what is here is beautiful. I have a couple favorite pieces to share. First, I really like the Tanner cowl because of its bold lace pattern.
...now some people might disagree, but I think this cowl would be great on a guy. It's just enough lace to make it interesting, and the nice solid color of the yarn keeps
I have a copy of New American Knits to give away to one lucky reader! To enter, simply post a comment on this post by midnight, Monday, July 28, 2014. I'll do a drawing on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 and announce the winner!
The house has felt empty since Wink was put to sleep. I made the decision to have her cremated so that I could hold her memory in an urn in my home. I knew that at some point during the next week or so the phone would ring and I’d be notified her cremains are waiting for me at the vet’s office.
On Tuesday, that happened.
The next day, I went back and forth trying to determine when I would go pick up her cremains [this is the correct term for cremated remains, often called ashes], and today, I decided it was time. I made a plan (take public transportation to the park, and then enjoy a walk through the neighborhood to the Vet). There was something comforting about the idea of having her cremains and being able to bring my Wink back home.
I walked into the lobby of the vet and waited my turn to be greeted. It’s just after 11 in the morning, and little worried pets surrounded me, along with their concerned parents… I studied the bulletin board full of community pet-related activities and looked at the collection of photos until it was my turn at the desk:
“I’m here to pick up Wink.”
“Wink?” A look of confusion…
“Yes. Wink’s ashes.” A moment of silence happened here where she processed the fact that I was picking up the remains of my dead pet…
“Oh. Just a minute.”
She went to the back and returned a few minutes later with a little wood box and a small heart shaped ornament. The ornament had Wink’s paw print, and her name stamped on it. These items were placed in front of me.
As I looked at the box and this little ornament (which she was now explaining to me) I asked “are the cremains in a bag inside the box?” She said she thought so, but hadn’t ever opened one of these boxes before. “Let’s do it” I said… and we proceeded to unhook the latch and lift the lid.
Inside was a small clear plastic bag filled with ashes and a little piece of paper that said: Name: Claude
“Claude”, not “Wink”. Confused.
“Who is Claude?” I asked.
She glanced at the little note, gently closed the box, and said “I’ll be right back.” A few minutes later, she returned, explaining to me that Wink’s cremains were returned to the facility so that they could correct the spelling of my name on the box. After apologizing for the mix-up, she let me know that they’d be in touch in the next day or so to let me know when they were ready to pick up.
Now, I realize mistakes happen, and that things can be mixed up. I also know that this will get sorted out. The people who provide these services are obviously careful with the remains (exemplified by the name of the pet being included in the bag), and in time it’ll get sorted out.
What I don’t understand is why someone didn’t call to tell me there was going to be a delay in my being able to pick up the cremains because a mistake had been made in the spelling of my name. The service I ordered was a private cremation (which results in the delivery of your own pet’s cremains), and the encounter left me confused and unsure of what pet’s cremains will find their way home with me. I just have to believe that my name really was spelled wrong on the box, and that it’s a simple mix-up that will be easily resolved. I did a little research and found that the pet cemetery allows in-person cremation, meaning the actual cremation can be attended. Now this might be a bit morbid, but it seems to me the only way to be 100% certain that the cremains you get are of your beloved pet.
But beyond the mix-up and sadness and shock of losing her, I know that Wink had an incredibly wonderful life and gave so much love and laughter to me and my family. I was able to be with her in her last moments, and was able to hold her paw, kiss her head, and tell her goodbye in the very moment she passed.
Do I miss Wink? Yes. Every second. My heart breaks knowing she’s gone. But as time moves forward, I find myself smiling; knowing that she shared 9 love-filled years with me. I’m lucky to have had her in my life and the cremains that I receive (eventually) will take residence in the urn that will be used to remember and honor her life.