Thursday, October 30, 2014

Vogue Knitting Live: Part II: Who Said Knitting Isn't Art?

There was a display of knitting as fine art at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago last weekend. This was my favorite -- and that's high praise because all the entries were superlative:

This is an actual, wearable dress by Betsie Withey, a textile artist based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Betsie had a photo showing a model in the dress. It is amazing on. It is also very hot, said Betsie, who is working on making similar garments that are more wearable. Betsie uses free-motion embroidery, knitting, crochet and hand embroidery to create garments and hair accessories. She also makes large-scale sculptural dresses and hats.

Her style combines make-believe and nature, and her Etsy shop is called The Faeirie Market.You can see -- and buy -- more of her work here and here.

Art can be kitchy, too, don't you think? I do. One of the amaguri knitting queens attended Vogue Live and it was SO much fun to see her creatures in the wool.

This installation was assembled by Anna Hrachovec, author of at least four books featuring adorable "mochimochi" patterns. You can make toys ranging from tiny to large using her directions. I have admired her books for years so it's just a matter of time before I knit up some of her creations.

You can learn more about Anna here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Vogue Knitting Live Chicago: Part 1

Last week I received an email from the Madison Knitters Guild saying that there were a few more seats left on the bus going to Chicago for Vogue Knitting Live. What the heck, I figured, it would be fun just to go and see what it's like. So at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, I climbed onto a bus with 50 other knitters and headed south.

First, the event is held in the elegant Palmer House Hotel in downtown Chicago. Everywhere I went in the hotel, there were people knitting! Is this was heaven is like? The fashion shows were fun, although the models were so young and so slim that they would look gorgeous in anything!

The marketplace was much smaller than the one at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, but the quality was excellent. And the sellers were all really sweet:
Like Lynn at Mia Bella, which is located in Highland Park, a northern suburb of Chicago. She isn't the owner, but she is the namesake of the very cool sock pattern she's holding.  This booth offered amazing patterns that matched their own dyed yarn. (I may have bought something, but that's a story for another post...) A lot of the sellers used that idea of selling yarn with their original patterns. If I am any measure, you'd have to say that this is a smart marketing tactic.

Angela Combest Anderson, the force behind Fleur de Fiber, is another indie dyer in the Windy City. She doesn't have her own store, but you can find her vivid yarn in Windy Knitty (note to self: I need to get back to Chicago to check out this store) and Steven Be in Minneapolis. You can see in the photo that she loves saturated colors:
"I love the interaction of fibers and colors," she said. Currently she is starting with wool that is brown or gray. These yield rich and unique colors when she applies her palette of rich colors. (I may have bought something, but that's a story for another post...)
And I was thrilled to meet Laura Nelkin. Do you know her? I see her knitted jewelry, which combines beads and yarn, at stores and in catalogs, and I've admired it for a long time. It turns out that she designs way more than jewelry; just look at the amazing mitts on the cover of her new book, Knockout Knits:
Can you see the gorgeous rows of beads? (I may have bought this book, but that's a story for another post...)

Laura hails from the Ithica, New York, area. When I found that out, I immediately asked if she ate at the famous Moosewood Restaurant there. "No," she said, "I can make that food at home. It is where visitors always want to go."

Well, this seems like enough for one post. Exactly what did I buy? Tune in again to find out!

Friday, October 24, 2014

FO Friday: Mittens

I finished these Meeting St. Mittens in record time: two weeks!

I used Berroco Sox yarn. I had read on Ravelry that this yarn is a bit thin for a sock yarn, and I would agree with that assessment, but it worked out fine for this pattern I made one major adjustment: It looked like the mittens might be too long for me, so I cast off with 24 stitches left and joined them with the kitchner stitch. I think they look better without such a pointy top.

There is something so addictive about this pattern. I have already started the next pair -- using a different yarn with different colors.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WIP: Babies and Bears

I haven't been 100% monogamous knitting-wise. I have been occasionally working at my baby sweater:

People have told me that the pattern is very counter-intuitive, but I haven't found that at all. Actually one of the things I like about Babies & Bears is that I understand the construction so I feel like I'm making fewer mistakes than I usually do.

I'm hoping today will be a better day at work than yesterday, when I locked my car keys (along with my lunch and, most importantly, coffee) in my car, and then proceeded to lose track of my classroom key! By the end of the day, everything was back in place, but it made for a stressful day. I felt off-kilter until I had my keys back.

Don't forget to check in with Keep Calm Craft On.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

One I Liked; One Not So Much

Just finished this and it was a pleasure to read:

You may recognize Elizabeth Strout as author of the award-winning Olive Kittridge, a novel in connected short stories. She creates characters that you believe exist and does so with graceful language. Although she is best known for Olive Kittridge,  I feel that her first novel, Amy and Isabelle, is even better.

The Burgess Boys is not her best, in my opinion, but it is worth reading. Each night, I looked forward to picking it up and joining the Burgess brothers as they struggled to reconcile the tragedy that marred their childhood with the places they landed as adults. Some of the characters in this book seemed a little far-fetched, but not enough to make me want to put down the book. Overall, it was a good read.

I also read To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris. This tale of a dentist who becomes obsessed with an anonymous blogger who takes in the dentist's identity online received great reviews. However, I was disappointed in it. Maybe I'm just not deep enough. The story is almost a parable about religion and about real versus virtual worlds. The story seemed to bow too much to the themes he was pursuing. On the upside, I flossed more regularly once I started this book.

But, I must mention his first novel: And Then We Came to the End. This is the only book told in the first-person plural (we) that I enjoyed. It's a humorous workplace story that unearths some of the truths of the daily grind in the current capitalist market. This is a book to savor.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Almost Done

I have been unusually monogamous in my knitting and it's amazing how fast you can get something done that way:

I am still enjoying this mitten. Thumbs are always kind of fiddley, but I've gotten to the point where they are managable!

I'm writing this on Wednesday at lunch -- the week is half over! I was at school from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. yesterday. I know I shouldn't do that. I am so tired the next day! Tonight I'm meeting a friend for dinner so that will get me out of the building in a more timely way.

Don't forget to check in with Ginny at Small Things.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sometimes It Just Works

I am so happy with the way this mitten is turning out:
Self-striping yarn can create amazing and surprising things. These two skeins of Berroco sock yarn look like they would clash, but I am loving the way the colors are working together. I should add that at one point I had to cut one of the strands because they both were the same shade of green, so I would have lost the pattern to an awkward green patch.

The pattern is Meeting St. Mittens from a Berroco booklet titled, "Sock Star." I don't really like any of the other patterns, but it was worth to price for this pattern along. I suspect I'll be making more pairs.

I'm still a bit under the weather, but after missing all the fun last weekend, I'm enjoying this one if it kills me! Went to a party at a friend's house last night, and tonight I'll be eating dinner in another friend's Sukkah. My friend Lisa has some photos in a show, and I'm going to the opening reception on Sunday.

I hope you are having some fun this weekend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WIP: Any Minute Now

This is what I'm doing tonight:

I've eyed this pattern booklet for months, and it went on sale the other day. I figure that was fate talking to me.  I love patterns that combine random-seeming yarns. And I love mittens.

I am hoping to improve my fair-isle knitting skills. Even though I have done a pair of salt-n-pepper mittens, I'm still very slow and awkward.

We'll have to see how that goes.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Back With Knitting

I've been AWL again. This past week, I thought work was going to kill me! I came home every night and was asleep by 6 p.m.! Ridiculous. When I woke up Saturday morning, I realized that the dry throat that had been bothering me was really a sore throat. Yes, I'm a little slow. I was sick all week!

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Repentance. Sadly, I had to cancel my dinner for that evening; I've been putting a Break Fast for those who actually fast, for more than a decade now. I hated to cancel, but a) it was clear that I didn't have the energy to put on any sort of event; and b) it wouldn't be very nice to spread the germs.

Instead, I spent the day napping and knitting -- not so bad as a consolation prize.

The first piece of the Babies and Bears Sweater is coming along nicely. The yarn is Encore Colorspun worsted, color 7749. My friend Marsha, who has knit countless sweaters, recommends Encore for babies and kids because, she says, it is soft, durable, and washable!

 I'm not knitting for any baby in particular, so I chose the most unisex color I could. I think this white with bluish/green streaks would be OK for a boy or a girl. I do have two pregnant people in my world, so it will definitely have a home when I finish it!

I think I'll make a cup of decaf and catch up with all of you. That's something I can do in bed!