Red Letter Day

It was so hot and humid today, I almost felt like I was back on the East Coast. We’re expecting another thunderstorm tonight, which is shocking to me – 2 in one summer in Oregon? Strange.

This afternoon, I received four teasers – the 4 extra bobbins for my en route Journey Wheel:

*sigh*

After fixing the sewing machine (again) for Mum, cleaning, doing several loads of laundry, and slaying a small chimaera, I took the sock to Laurelhurst Park:


The sock didn’t like the weather, either. But we fared better than either of the ‘rents or the dog. It was quite pathetic, really, how droppy Charlie was – he wouldn’t even play with the other dogs at the park. That was another first.

Because we were on the right side of town, I dragged Mum, Dad and Charlie to Twisted. Oh, yes, Charlie came in, too, to ooh’s and ahh’s. I liked the store. They’ve made an effort to stock unusual yarns, like recycled rayon and Tibetan hemp. The store’s still new and their shelves are a little bare (good publicity has helped them with that), but I also really appreciated the fact that they had a wall of sock yarn. Sock yarn other stores in the area don’t carry, like Cherry Tree Hill (drool), Woolarina, aaand Dreaming in Colour’s ‘Smooshy’:


I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist it’s siren song. It kept whispering sweet nothings to me when the young ladies were chatting with Mum. ‘Knit me! Knit me! I want to be a pair of Embossed Leaves socks! I know you want me… Knit me!”

Oh, right. Speaking of Embossed Leaves socks… (deep breath)… Mona Schmidt, the designer, has agreed to be the SKA’s Mystery Sock designer for November! (little squee)

And that is all the news I have right now. So sleepy and we’re getting up early to drive along the Columbia River Gorge to the Dalles. Expect lots of traveling sock photos tomorrow…

playing catch-up, pt 2

Someone was nudging me, so I surfaced from the depths of sleep to see an-Emmos-shaped entity standing over me, radiating anxiety.

“It’s 10:15,” she informed me, as I peered at her without my glasses, wondering what was going on. The information settled. I swore loudly and with some proficiency, threw my blankets off and rolled off the air mattress.

We were due at Knit/Purl at 10:30, to meet Opus.

Somehow, less than 10 minutes later, we were in Emmos’ car, driving like lunatics. It must be mentioned that my mother aided us in this timely departure – by tracking items down for us, throwing sweaters (hers) at us, and even venturing out to the car in her PJ’s to find the Portland Metro map for me. Mum definitely earned her Jewish Mother status yesterday.

Three slightly belated knitters arrived at our destination to find Opus knitting on the corner. We called to her, circled the block several times, and finally found parking 2 blocks away.

“I should have realised this,” she called to us as we rushed over, “but since it’s Sunday, they don’t open until 12.”

Oops. Okay. Time to reassess. St M and Opus both needed to visit an ATM. We three needed breakfast. So we set off, first hitting The Pearl Bakery (dangerous, wonderful place to visit), then Anthropologie (it was on the way to WaMu, I swear!), and finally WaMu.

It was 11:20. We still had 40 minutes to kill. “Are there any knit shops nearby you wanted to hit, before we go back to Knit/Purl?” Opus asked. Indeed, there was. Knit Knot Studio. We headed over and were sidetracked by Cargo. 13th St in the Alphabet District is a dangerous place to go for your wallet, lemme tell you.

We arrived at Glisan, wandered around perplexed and discovered that Knit Knot wasn’t open on Sundays. Blast. “Let’s call the rest of those stores on your list, before we go to them,” Emmos suggested. My cell was produced and St M got the job of calling and getting hours for all the stores we’d chosen. Our choices were narrowed to Knit/ Purl, Lint, The Yarn Garden, and Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks. We also decided to try and hit L’Occitaine at some point during the day (before we crossed the river).

We arrived back at Knit/Purl soon after calling the stores on the list, and the girls were suitably impressed. Knit/Purl is quite easily my favourite knit shop ever. They carry high-end yarns that are hard to find, have their own yarn & pattern line, and always have great customer service.

When I was asked if I needed anything, I immediately inquired into the possibility of a special order from Habu Textiles. I explained that, after several failed attempts, I still hadn’t managed to get cobweb yarn for the Wedding Ring Shawl. I had seen on Habu’s website that they carried a gorgeous silk yarn that fit the shawl’s requirements perfectly. But, several months ago, I had been quite disappointed to find that Habu has a minimum order amount of $1000. Eep.

In the end, it took two ladies, the Habu sample book, and a blood oath from me to place an order for degummed Tassar Silk Organizine. I paid a deposit for half of the estimated price, sighed over now-empty bank account (no more yarn for me!), and went to help the girls with their purchases.

As Emmos was paying for her yarns (Shibui sock!), I caught this shot of the group:


From there we drove to Lint. I must admit that I have a mixed review for this store. In the past I’ve had much better customer service than we received yesterday. There’s no arguing that Lint is a great store to visit for knitting accessories and basic yarns like Rowan, Debbie Bliss, and Brown Sheep. But the girls were clearly turned off by the fact that the woman staffing was not impressed with us, nor willing to help us with our inquiries. We left a bit disappointed.

“They’re usually much better,” Opus said as we left, “it’s probably because it’s a Sunday…”

Next was L’Occitaine because the girls (Opus excluded) had been coveting my tinted Shea Butter – for lips and cheeks. After spending too much money there (I was good, I swear), we grabbed lunch. Mmmm… tempura.

We then crossed the river to hit The Yarn Garden, my now 2nd favourite knit store in Portland. Their selection of yarns is impressive, they join onto a cafe, have some fabulous sock yarns and pretty decent customer service. I ended up buying a set of Brittany US 1.5 DPNs, signing up for a rewards card (the girls helped me fill it) and contenting myself to coming back when I had money. St M did much better, as they were having a sale on Noro and found a cashmere blend to die for. Emmos bought several balls of sock yarn (are we seeing a trend here?).

By this point we were completely exhausted and still had a yarn store left. We also had less than an hour to find it. I was not the best navigator and we managed to be superbly lost. By some manner of grace, we ended up at Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks 10 minutes before closing.

I have a fairly good review for them. They had a huge selection of Lorna’s Laces – yarns and roving (!) – and also carried other spinning fiber. Again, since I was po’r, I only bought a set of DPN’s (KA US 0’s). But, St M got several hanks of handdyed superwash roving. They, like The Yarn Garden, had a cafe attached. I’ve definitely bookmarked them to visit again when I have money. The fact that they had some naturally dyed roving was also impressive. I wouldn’t visit them for my daily yarn needs (too far away, hard to find, and the selection wasn’t as varied as I’d like), but their roving is more than enough to tempt me.

From there we headed back north, dropped Opus off at a Met station – me promising to meet up with her at Knit/Purl’s weekly knit night. We three headed back home, completely and utterly exhausted.

As Mum made dinner for us (before the girls had to drive back to Eugene), I snapped this shot of the weekend’s haul:


From BSG, in order of purchase:

  • A Spindlewood Co. square mini spindle, weighing in at 5/8 oz (been wanting one of these for a looooong while)
  • Women’s M sock blockers by Fiber Trends
  • Cherry Tree Hill supersock (on sale!) in Peacock and 1 oz of Crosspatch Creations fiber
  • 4 oz of the softest wool top, grown in Oregon – a Cormo x Targhee x Merino mix.
  • Simply gorgeous sock yarn that was handdyed in Oregon (nope, can’t remember the booth, but I’ll post the info on the band when I use it)
  • And, la creme de la cremeHeirloom Knitting and Prehistoric Textiles. Both of which I have been trying to obtain for… too long.

Yesterday:

  • L’Occitaine verbena/ citrus shampoo
  • Brittany birch 5″ US 1.5 DPNs
  • KA 5″ US 0 DPNs

And that is everything. Last night, after the girls left, I fell into bed before 7 pm and slept thru ’til this morning. I have a doctor’s appt in Eugene at 10 am, so now I have to get ready for that. Oooh, fun, more driving. I have a feeling that I’m never going to want to see inside a car ever again, very very soon.

more rain

“Rain! whose soft architectural hands have power to cut stones, and chisel to shapes of grandeur the very mountains.”
Henry Ward Beecher

Sachi was right. There IS a yarn store in Olympia. Unbeknownst to me, we had gone by it a great many times. Mostly because it’s called Canvas Works I tended to ignore it:


Considering the large sailing community (and boat-making, as well), I had thought it was, well, you know, a store that sold canvas. Silly me ^_^ Another reason I hadn’t given them a second glance is the fact that they’re located in the more industrial section of town, see?, the neighbors:


Every time we walked or drove by, I was busy focusing on getting to somewhere more, ah, picturesque. Yes, I know, I’m shallow. But, if you look in the picture above, you can see the dome of the state capital building. Olympia is pretty small, and you can see the dome from nearly anywhere in town.

Anyway. I went into the store and tried not to moan. They had some exquisite yarns that I can neither afford nor find the space for. The sales lady (very nice, very helpful) immediately showed me to the sock yarns. I was a bit disappointed by their small selection (of sock yarns). But, that disappointment was quickly assuaged when I wandered into their book section. Oh… my. I didn’t even know where to start. So, I let my eyes wander, and they immediately zoomed in on the lace books.

And do you know what I found?? A copy of Creating Original Hand-knitted Lace! OMG. I have been searching for this book for … wow, over six months at least. Maybe a year. No one carries it. No one has heard of it. They HAD it. In hardback. At 30% off the price on Amazon. I snatched it up and tucked it under my arm, as I wandered the store some more. They also had a HUGE button collection (sigh), but I limited myself to buttons I needed. Specifically for baby T’s wraplan. They had pink and green buttons that matched the yarn I’m using! (yes, I have the colours committed to memory, heaven help me). So, I grabbed 8 of them and then forced myself to stop looking, as I was over-budget already. I escaped with my finds (the saleswoman agreed that the buttons were squee!-worthy) and I nearly skipped home. Here’s a pic of them on Mum’s porch:


A last note on the LYS, Canvas Works. I really liked them, they were very nice. They had a great selection. I wouldn’t recommend them for knitters on a tight budget, though. Their prices were a bit high. But, otherwise, I really liked them.

Relating to the title of this post. I did bring an umbrella with me. I didn’t use it, because the wind was so high it nearly turned the poor thing inside-out. I just toughened up and tried to ignore the chill. On the way home, the rain and wind got worse, so I was extremely happy to arrive. Of course, 1/2 an hour after I had settled in, the rain stopped.

It figures.

Just like in San Fransisco.

I must have angered the rain (and wind?) g-ds at some point. Some sort of ritual sacrifice or something must be in order. Chocolate, maybe?

Oh!, in other news, my Hogwarts Houses Swap partner, Laural, received my parcel today! Here are her pix. And here’s one of mine:


The hoodie: I painted and appliqued a Gryffindor crest (t-shirt) I had (it was entirely in greyscale and needed some colour desperately) to a hoodie, along with a House patch, and embroidered around the crest with red and gold floss (A and K were bemused watching me embroider during American Idol). The DPN case: made from faux-suede, lined with Indian cotton (don’t tell Mum I raided her quilting stash, but it was the perfect colour!), and with velvet trim – I have to say, was really pleased with the whole thing, it came out so lovely and it was my first DPN case. I also included some Gryffindor coloured DPNs I found at St Vinny’s. The Canary Creams? I couldn’t resist. And the yarn I got at Full Thread Ahead.

I’m so pleased because the hoodie fits Laural perfectly, and she seems to like everything else. Yay!

The City

“Men come together in cities in order to live; they remain together in order to live the good life.”
Aristotle

What a loooooong day. I got up just as A was about to run out the door, to work, and was given 10 minutes to decide if I wanted to go into The City (read: San Fransisco) or entertain myself in the south Bay Area. I opted for The City, but didn’t have any time to get a friend’s cell # or look up anything I might have wanted to see. I decided to play it by ear.

It must be noted that my sister’s ability to predict the weather is decidedly lacking. As we ran out of the house the sky was a rich blue. A mentioned that she was envious that I got to spend the day in The City with the weather so lovely. But, by the time Caltrain arrived in SF proper there was a very large, very dark, very black thunderhead floating in overhead:


As I walked towards Artfibers Yarns (TheBon insisted that I visit them, and I’m glad I did) the weather got decidedly damper. I was very glad to dash indoors and look at yarn for a bit. This store was incredibly dangerous. Like Knit Picks, they only carry their own yarns straight from the mills. They had some amazing mixes (cotton with stainless steel) and enough lush yarn to tempt me to bankrupt myself. I managed to rein myself in and only got enough yarn for a sweater. I was drawn to the silk yarns (who could blame me?) and to two particular yarns/ colours as well. I finally gave in and paid for the yarns I really wanted:

  • Zabumba: 80%/ 20% nylon boucle-like yarn in a tidepool colourway. It knits up to 24 sts/ 4 inches on size US 3 needles. It was so gorgeous and light (and expensive) that I got some to act as a decorative touch to the main yarn…
  • Hana: 100% silk, smooth and shiny and peacock blue. It knits up to 26 sts/ 4 inches on size US 3 needles. It was suuuuch a deep and vibrant colour and so soft that I wanted it the moment I saw it.

Soooo… yeah, more yarn. But I’m already designing the sweater it’s gonna be.

After spending too much money on yarn, I started walking. I didn’t know where I was going, so I decided to follow the trail of pretty, old buildings. Somehow, I ended up in Chinatown. Noticing that everything around me was in Chinese, I decided to do some shopping for presents. No pictures, sorry. Maybe later.

Anyway, as I left a little Pho restaurant the sky opened. Soon I began to wonder if I was going to need gills. By the time I got to the Caltrain station I was literally soaked. I had ducked into 3 separate buildings (buying more hot chocolate in one day than I normally drink in a week), under several awnings (huddled with other bemused walkers), before realising that I couldn’t get any wetter and just decided to walk it.

All in all, I walked 4 mi (I used the gmap pedometer and everything).

Well, that’s everything. By the time A picked me up in Mountain View, at another coffeehouse (yes, I ducked into another one and bought another hot chocolate), I was exhausted and wet and soaked and a bit wet.

Now it’s time to knit. And teach A to knit.

on walking

“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”
Stephen Wright

One of the first things I noticed today as I made my way towards downtown Los Altos was the fact that I was the only person walking for most of the way. Sure, several Mums and children passed by with strollers for the first 3 blocks, then… nada. Cars kept whizzing by, though.

Very strange.

But also nice, as I didn’t have to worry about being run over by bicyclists or groups of joggers as one does in Eugene. Of course, to make matters perfect, I lost the map my sister set out for me – the one with all the local areas of interest highlighted (I added some myself) – within about 10 minutes of setting out.

I doubled back for a couple of blocks and then gave it up as a lost cause. I had the major streets memorized along with the cross-streets for the shops I wanted to hit. I made it to Los Altos without incident, people were very polite, and stopped at the first place on my list (ha! I remembered where it was and everything), Full Thread Ahead.

They’re a very dangerous LYS for me to step into. They were very polite, but in frenzied action getting ready for Stitches West, and left me alone for a while and didn’t treat me like a shoplifter (always nice). They had a wall of books, some of which I hadn’t been able to get my hands on in the (almost) five years I’ve been knitting. I must have spent 1/2 an hour wading through their collection (one of the women told me to at least make myself comfortable and cleaned a table off for me), and finally decided on E Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop. I like all the designing notes on traditional patterns for things like lace shawls and guernseys. While there, I also picked up a skein of Cherry Tree Hill’s sock yarn (which was on sale!), in African Grey, and a Clover knitting counter pendant. I have to say that I have a very positive review of this shop, they were very friendly and chatty and somehow managed to get me signed up for their frequent buyers program. Since they’re going to Stitches, they also gave me a coupon for a ticket discount, too. I finally dragged myself out, just so I wouldn’t buy more yarn.

My next stop was to be Uncommon Threads, whose location I was a bit less certain of. I actually found them by accident. Whilst looking down a cross street, I saw a large sign for “Exotic Silks”. Without even stopping to think about it I started walking toward the siren sign. I turned and saw the LYS I had been in search of. It was right across the street from the silk shop. Oh, my. Conundrum. Well, yarn must come first, so I went into the shop and determined that I would get the supplies to teach A to knit (before I forgot again), which was lucky since this shop had more beginner’s supplies. They also had a fantastic supply of buttons (which I regretfully pulled myself from) and Nashua yarns. I only let myself get one ball (it’ll work with my Silk/ Alpaca!) with the supplies for A. I liked this yarn shop as well. They were a lot quieter than the other, and more traditional as well. But, they were friendly and encouraging and, again, didn’t treat me like a shoplifter (yay!).

I then, eagerly, crossed the street and went into the silk shop. It turned out that they were the actual business location of Thai Silks. THE Thai Silks that I got my pink silk dupioni from. I just stood in the doorway, staring, and knew that I was facing one of the greater Temptations of my life. It was as if Satan himself were standing by me, whispering terrible terrible things in my ear. It’s not fair that they were having a 50% off sale on things like painted silk charmeuse or, oh heaven help me, rayon/ silk devore. I finally decided that I would only buy a silk scarf and 2 yards of batik cotton (for my Mum) before I consulted with St M and D. Mostly because I’d feel justified in spending more with a plan in mind. Before I left, I memorized several of the more promising fabric’s prices, widths, and general info. Right now I can still hear a pink/ green silk jacquard calling my name along with a chorus of several rolls of raw silk noil.

Thinking back on it, it’s a good thing that I escaped when I did, all in all. By that point I was starving (I ate a banana for breakfast, yay me) and made my way back. On the way, I stopped in a fantastic (and quite popular) bakery and got a yummy sandwich. I even made a dork of myself dropping several things and being a general nuisance. Woot.

Just as I was about to cross the (invisible) line between Los Altos and Mountain View, it started to rain. I mock this rain. Having lived in Eugene for several years, this rain was pitiful. I just pulled up my hood and kept going. But, despite my own indifference to the weather, there was no way I was going to photograph my spoils outside. So, you’ll have to settle for an indoor, washed out, picture (sorry!) taken on my sister’s dining room table:


The first thing I noticed when I set everything out was that everything kind of matched. Weird. After that, I kind of collapsed, as I had a migraine (I’m an idiot and forgot to get my birth control refilled before leaving) and slept for several hours. Sooo, now here I am. That’s all.

Hopefully I’ll be able to do some more exploring tomorrow. I’ll even walk ^_^