Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fantastic Mojo

Finally, Mary's lovely scarf is finished. (Click on either photo to embiggen.) I did a major dance of joy last night when I bound off that last stitch. My family thought I'd really lost it for a moment or two. Now Mary can take it home with her when she leaves next week, and I can move on to other lovely things that have been calling me for so long now... like my new SPINNING WHEEL!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Casting Off Bad Mojo

More and more in my life, I see things in terms of their energy value. When I say energy I mean emotional energy. Things contain energy; some good and some bad. Today, I decided this theory must apply to all things, including all things knitterly.

I've been struggling to finish a scarf that was chosen by a special friend, Mary, for whom I'm knitting it. Last July, I took her to the LYS so she could pick out the yarn herself that I would wrangle into this beautiful scarf from Victorian Lace Today. If you haven't seen this book, check it out. I bought it on first sight. Anyway, the scarf has a border at one end that is knit vertically, then a long middle that is knit horizontally, and then a knit-on border on the other end that is knit vertically and incorporated into the main scarf stitches. Somehow, the knit-on border was eluding me. I ripped it back at least eight times, with lots of time outs in between. I wanted to have the scarf complete for September as Mary lives in Inuvik, and the school she attends there is not heated well; the students have to wear their jackets all day to keep warm. Now it's November, the scarf's still not done, and Mary's back for another visit.

My frustration with the knit-on border has gotten out of hand. It seemed like each time I tried to move forward was just another exercise in angst. So today, I ripped it back again, but this time I cut out the yarn that had been knit eight times. It's full of bad energy that makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it. And guess what? I've gone further with the knit-on border today than in all the eight attempts.

I cut that yarn out because I want only Good Mojo in this scarf. I want Mary to take it home and benefit from the positive energy and thoughts that went into making it, not the frustration and desperation that inhabited those few inches of repeated struggle.

I have to say, the trouble wasn't with the pattern at all; rather, it was in my tired brain trying to work a complicated chart too late in the day or on a day when my mind was frazzled with the pace and stress of life. I'm devoting the next few days to completing the scarf and blocking it so it's ready to go home with Mary. And I'll continue contemplating and enjoying the peace that comes when you get rid of bad mojo.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


This is Mac. His show name is My Secret Smoker. We love that name. Soon to be our 2-yr-old gelding thoroughbred/quarter horse appendix, as long as he passes the vet check. Did I tell you he's huge! And he could grow until he's 5! But he's extremely laid back.

He's very pretty and we all fell in love with his gentle giant spirit.

It was a long trip. We left Edmonton at 1:30 yesterday afternoon and didn't arrive at the stable where Mac was waiting until 7:30. Then it was a long trek back home, which wasn't too bad until we were about 30 minutes south of Leduc and it started raining...freezing rain. We got home at 3:30 am, tired, but happy.

I got to start the second Alpaca Cashmere Tweed mitten on the drive down, but I realized about 2 inches up the hand from the cuff that I was knitting a SECOND right hand mitt. sigh... And then the sun went down, so there wasn't any more travel knitting happening. So, tonight I'll be ripping that back and proceeding for a LEFT mitten. We live. We learn.

Friday, November 14, 2008

16. 2

That's the height of the horse we're going to look at today. At the withers. That's 5'5" at the shoulder. And he's only 2; he could grow some yet. My daughter wants to use this big sod buster to jump. She's not 5'5" yet. She'll need a big step to get on him. I'll need a big tranquilizer to watch.

The good news is he's in Medicine Hat, so I'll have 4 hours each way to knit. I'm working on a second pair of mittens with the Estelle Alpaca Cashmere Tweed.

I'm following the suggestion of wiser women (Cynthia from RCY and the Yarn Harlot) and wrapping my working yarn around a third finger to tighten up my tension. It's working beautifully, but perhaps a bit too well; it seems so much more difficult to move the stitches. Could be that I just need to get used to it. Tight knitting is so foreign. I'm a little worried about some of the UFOs that linger around me. To shamelessly plageurize the Yarn Harlot for a moment, I'll have to revert back to my "drunk howler monkey on smack" knitting method to complete those. (She so gets us, doesn't she?)

I'll also bring the Yellow Harvest mittens that I've been battling. They appeared in the Fall 08 issue of Vogue Knitting. The first chart for this mitten contains challenging elements that have so far gotten the best of me. But I soldier on! And I'll probably bring the front of the Juliaca sweater. If I can get the cabled rib at the bottom completed then I can blindly knit miles and miles of 2x2 rib. Since there'll be 4 of us in 1 vehicle, anything too complicated would be folly.

More pictures soon...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Wow...Four amazing days of learning, laughing, and knitterly love. The setting was incredible, the weather balmy, the people enthusiastic and friendly. As I knit Miranda's green mittens, knitter after knitter stopped by to compliment them. On Saturday I wore my Kilcar sweater and a number of knitters asked me if it was from the latest magazine (not sure which one). They all fondled the fibre of it and said they loved it. A knitter just can't get enough of that kind of encouragement. And we all knit anytime we weren't otherwise occupied. So cool to be part of a knitterly invasion. There were knitters knitting everywhere. Maureen, my good friend and room-mate, was working on her Frankenscarf, and everyone was rightly impressed. Mo, send me a pic of that scarf so I can post it here.

Also on Saturday, I succumbed to the yarn fumes which were unusually thick, and bought Amy Swenson's book Sensual Crochet, and five skeins of lusciousness. There should be a law against that kind of enabling. Also modeled with the yarn is the zen garden I bought.

The instructors for the retreat were awe-inspiring: the Yarn Harlot, Cookie A, Nancy Bush, Stefanie Japel, and Amy Singer. We all wished we could squeeze in a workshop with all of them. As it was, we got one all-day workshop on Friday and two half-day workshops on Saturday. I was in Cookie A.'s sock design workshop on Friday. When I complete my sock that I designed, I'll post pics. Hopefully, that won't be in 2020. Saturday morning I was with the Yarn Harlot where she answered our knitting questions with great wit and wisdom. I love her philosophies and the way she plies them with feminism. In the afternoon I was in Stefanie Japel's "Converting Flat Patterns to Circular" workshop. This was a class I was highly interested in because I LOVE knitting in the round. Stefanie was an awesome and encouraging instructor and I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for a good flat sweater pattern to convert. I wish all patterns were in the round. I thoroughly enjoyed all my classes and learned sooooo much. You really leave these classes with information overload.

Saturday night we had a pajama party in a large room at the back of a fairly posh, and extremely busy restaurant. It was a little intimidating walking through there in flannel pajama pants. I got some random shots of the instructors. In the first picture is Amy Singer of and No Sheep for You. Beside her is Amy Swenson in the pink tiger-striped pjs, owner of Make 1 Yarns in Calgary and the woman who put on the whole shin-dig. Stephanie Pearl McPhee is next chatting with a knitter in pink pj's. The next pic is of Stefanie Japel. She brought her little baby daughter, who smiled almost continuously.

In this next shot, Nancy Bush is sitting with Cookie A.

I completed Miranda's green mitts at the pajama party, and then I got some advice and assistance from the lovely and talented Jennifer, who finished her pair of Vogue Knitting Yellow Harvest mittens. I've been trying to knit the same mittens, but was stymied by the first chart. The girl to her right was her room-mate Alysa, who besides being an accomplished knitter, had some really cool tatoos and piercings. Miranda will be soooo jealous. Not until you're 18 young lady!

Miranda's mitts are made with a novelty yarn for the cuffs and then the rest of the mitt is Estelle Alpaca Cashmere Tweed. Dreamy soft, and since I double stranded the mitten part, they should be super warm. Miranda has asked for an idiot string, so I'll crochet that for her today. Like her mother, if her head wasn't screwed on, she'd lose it.

Jennifer made her mitts with leftover Cascade from her Tilted Duster sweater which was so pretty.

On Sunday morning, a few of us were chatting with Nancy Bush and she mentioned she'd like to go for a walk. Mo was sleeping in, and we had planned on doing this walk sometime that morning, so I asked Nancy if she'd wait while I ran upstairs to my room to fetch my coat. She was happy to have a hiking partner so I bolted up to our room, praying all the way that Mo was up. I burst through the door and into the room where, thank God, Mo was awake and dressed. Mo was in Nancy's Estonian Lace workshop and really enjoyed it.

"OMG! Thank God you're awake! I'm going for a walk with Nancy Bush---Get your coat on, quick!"

So, we both went for a hike with Nancy Bush. Soooo cool. Here's a few shots from our walk. First, there's Nancy admiring the majesty of it all.

And there was lots to admire. It was such a lovely day!

The only down side to this trip was that our other ya-ya sisters weren't there sharing it with us. Start saving Sistas! We're not doing this without you next year.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Alpaca Show

I showed Harley, my 2-yr-old alpaca on Friday. It was my first time in any show ring and his first time being shown. He didn't plant all four feet and refuse to move like I was afraid he would...well, he did once, but the judge shooshed him along. What he did do, however, was fidget like a whirling dervish the whole time. The judge commented that he had a lovely handle but his confirmation wasn't so strong. I don't have a clue how he could tell that because Harley didn't stand still long enough for him to notice confirmation. We came in third in a class of three but look who we were competing against:

The first is a rose grey, who looks like he should be in the brown class, don't you think? Actually underneath that lovely brown colour is an even lovelier grey colour--a very sought-after combination. And the second is a white with a slight fawn spot on his shoulder. How can they judge Harley against these opposite colours? I think they should have had their own categories. It would be nice to see how Harley does against a group of actual fancy greys. Perhaps next time...

The big news of the day was that Doug was Shanghai'd into showing one of Carolyne's boys, and he and the boy, Canon, took first place! Carolyne and her boy took second. All of Carolyne's animals placed, so she was pleased.

The show ran for two days. Friday night they had the banquet and auction sale. We stayed for both and had a great time. I had fallen in love with an alpaca mom and baby that were for sale but they went for almost $8000.00. My pockets just aren't that deep. The baby was black with white socks and little black feet. Adorable!

This baby's mom was showing some signs of distress, but it didn't stop her from being sold for quite a sum. It was my first auction, and the auctioneer and his men were interesting to listen to and watch. I don't know how he doesn't just spit his tongue right out when the bids are flying out of his mouth so fast. What a talent.

A few animals were pulled from the sale because they didn't raise enough bids. Apparently the alpaca market was not safe from the unstable financial markets of late. One of these pulled animals was Kalamara, who is a bay black with her two front feet having socks and black shoes like the baby pictured above. We've been looking for a dark coloured girl to breed with Harley. We both fell in love with her and on Saturday we bought her. She's pregnant and due at the end of July next year. SO exciting! She was bred to Tucker, a lovely fawn male who has super dense and fine fleece. Combined with her fine fleece, the cria should be stunning. And because his lines were full of greys and colours, who knows what colour the baby will be?

I bought some yarn while I was there.
The solid beige is for the Cookie A workshop I'm in at the knitting retreat, and the dyed skein was just so gorgeous I had to take it home. It was hand dyed by Alice. (Can't think of her last name or alpaca farm name, but she sure knows how to dye. I have her card somewhere but right now it eludes me.) These are both 60% alpaca, 20% merino, and 20% nylon. Should make lovely, sturdy socks.

Doug and I met many wonderful new friends at the show, and we look forward to the next alpaca show where we can see them all again.

Now that the show is over, and Kalamara is settled in her new home at Saumer Time Alpaca Ranch where Harley lives, I can move my focus to the knitting retreat I'm leaving for on Thursday. I haven't had a second to get excited yet, so I think I'll take a moment right now and do that...........................................................................................Ok. Now I'm stoked!

Wow, I have so much to do: packing, deciding on what materials to bring, shopping for new jammies and yoga pants, deciding what knitting I should take with me, etc., etc., etc. Stay tuned for retreat details and pictures next week.

As per usual, click all pictures to enbiggen!