June Classes and KALs

Summer is here and it’s a matter of time before all of us Georgia folk are hiding in the shade or the comfort of our air conditioning.  Why not check out a few classes this summer and up your knitting skill level while it’s a bit toasty out.

All classes will be hosted at Yarn Rhapsody at 475 Dawsonville Hwy, Suite C, Gainesville, GA.  Please sign up at least 48 hours before classes/KALs/CALs begin by phone (770-536-3130), or in person.  This will guarantee your spot! Space is limited. Yarn and patterns for each offering must be purchased at Yarn Rhapsody. It’s okay if you want to bring stash yarn, you’ll have to add $30 to the original class/KAL/CAL fee.

knitangleKnitangle Shawl $60
A stunning conversation piece and quite possibly the ultimate knitting sampler, Knitangle is a gorgeous shawl. Designed for intermediate students, you will make bobbles (and learn a fantastic shortcut), twist cables, make lace, and even have a few short rows. Don’t be intimidated! This one is a challenge but a fun one.
Class Dates: June 3, 17, 24; 11am – 12pm
Skill Level Needed: Intermediate

Hitchhiker Scarf $60CIMG7865
Are you a newbie knitter looking for your first challenge? This one is just for you. Hitchhiker is a surprisingly flexible patter, nearly any yarn will work and you can stop short or make it as long as you like, all while you work on garter stitch, increases, and bind-offs.
Class Dates: June 14, 21, 28; 6pm – 7pm
Skill Level Needed: Beginner

mochimochilandMochi Mochi Land KAL $15
You’ve seen these tiny knit creatures popping up all over the place. Now you can make your own! You can choose your “critters” from the kits available on our wall and get a helping hand thorugh the tiny knitting process.
KAL Dates: June 3, 17, 24; 2:30pm-3:30pm
Skill Level Needed: Adventurous Beginner/Intermediate

limonade shawlLimonade Shawl KAL $15
It’s summer! This open lace shawl is a great accessory to your summer wardrobe, and it’s a quick knit. This one is suitable to someone wanting to attempt lace for the first time.
KAL Dates: June 3, 17, 24; 3:30-4:30pm
Skill Level Needed: Adventurous Beginner/Intermediate

 

When Pets Grieve Pets

There was a change in the house this weekend. I can’t say that I was surprised with it happened, but the timing was unexpected, with all deaths we always think we would have more time. Sir Peanut Butter Fluffy Butt, my first and only guinea pig passed away this weekend. I had been noticing he had been eating less lately, moving slower, and sleeping more his age had caught up to him.

PB wasn’t just my furry companion but interacted on a regular basis with my eldest cat, Severus. Sev introduced himself to PB by jumping on top of his cage within 5 minutes of walking into my home and meowing at him like he was a litter mate. I know it sounds a bit crazy, a cat befriending a rodent and vice versa but they got a long well. When PB was out of his cage, Sev would follow him around when PB would go exploring, it wasn’t unusual to have both cat and guinea pig snuggled into my lap when we would watch TV in the evening. They just got along, they didn’t seem to understand how predators and prey worked. As PB aged and seemed to want to spend more time in his cage than out exploring the house, Sev would often check in on him. PB would toss a treat his way once in a while. I don’t know if he was intentionally sharing or asking to be left alone, but he never hid from Sev.

Sev seems to be missing his friend. After discovering PB’s demise, I buried him, and cleaned out his cage. The empty cage sits in the corner of the living room until it is sent to it’s next owner (hopefully a child and their first pet) Sev looks at it and knows something is missing. At one point last night, I found him asleep on top of it. Today, Sev is wandering around the house occasionally meowing, this isn’t normal behavior for him. I think he’s calling out for his companion, but I could be wrong.

Lucius, the younger cat, seems baffled by Sev’s behavior, but otherwise doesn’t seem impacted. He’s trying to get Severus to play, and keeps getting smacked in the head. If anything Lu is a persistent little bugger.

So if you are an animal person like I am, send a happy thought Sev’s way, and if you have any tips to help him adjust to life without PB please send them my way.

A Whole Lot of Knitting Going On

It’s May, and holy cow is my dance card is full for the month.

I might as well move into my local yarn store!  Actually, people probably already think I live there. That’s okay, the bulky yarn section is full of soft squishy pillow like skeins that are good to snuggle with at night.

I made a post last month featuring classes that begin this weekend.  You can find that here.  One more has been added to the schedule after a demand from a few folks to offer another session out of Barbara Benson’s latest publication, after seeing the sample at her trunk show and book signing.

img_0992Beginning May 10th, Barbara’s Lacy Pinstripe Cowlette is a go! Oh, and guess what? It’s a weekday offering.

This one will run three consecutive weeks from 5:30-6:30pm at Yarn Rhapsody, in Gainesville, Georgia.  The fee is $60, and you will have to purchase Barbara’s book, Mosaic and Lace Knits, for the pattern, this one could not be featured as an individual pattern purchase on Ravelry.  Please contact Yarn Rhapsody at least 48 hours before the first session to get signed up.

Coffee and Wool now has a dedicated Facebook page too.  There’s a love/hate relationship with that site but it is a good centralized spot to land all things Coffee and Wool.  So if you woud like to give that a follow, the link is here. 

So besides classes and social media updates, what else is going on?
I escaped Georgia for the weekend, to attend a weekend long bachelorette party at Disney World.  Translation, I didn’t get any knitting done this weekend, but hey, ummmm Disney with friends.  The wedding associated with this bachelorette party is at the end of the month.  You know I love this friend dearly when I don a dress and heels to see her walk down the aisle.

Spring festivals are popping up left and right, so when I’m not teaching on the weekends, there will be some sneaking off to those. The Georgia Renaissance Faire is in full swing, that pilgrimage needs to be made.

And then there is a lot of watering the garden.  My little patch of dirt has taken off, to the point it may need it’s own state of the garden post.  I managed to make the first baby green salad of the year last night for dinner.  Growing my own food makes my soul happy.

So that’s it, things are a bit busy, but in a good way.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Knitting on the Road

planeI’m escaping Georgia tonight for some shenanigans with friends this weekend.  Being the fanatical knitter that I am, there is always at least a pair of socks on needles in my purse and there is always a project bag tossed in my luggage for downtime on trips.

I’ve been asked at nearly every gate waiting for boarding about the legalities of traveling with knitting needles, so it’s time for a quick primer on air travel with projects.  My experience here is limited to domestic air travel, other rules may apply to international flights.

Are knitting needles and crochet hooks allowed in your carry-on bag?
The simple answer is yes.  But when is the simple answer ever the complete one?  All it takes is one misinformed TSA agent or a flight attendant to think your needles look intimidating and you’ve got a problem on your hands.  As much as some of us love our nice, pointy, metal ChiaoGoos or Addis you may want to leave those home.  Kick over to wood or plastic, and circular needles would probably be preferred over straight.  Besides using straights in a tightly packed airplane may be uncomfortable for you and the passengers seated next to you.

How about scissors?
This is another yes, but, answer.  Blades must be shorter than 4-inches, and the type that fold up onto themselves are recommended.  Those nifty thread cutting pendants, or anything that looks like it may have a razor style blade are a no-go.

Regular needles, you know the ones you finish projects with?
Ummmm this one is a bit gray.  I’ve flown with finishing needles with rounded points, but I’ve heard more than one person complain that theirs was taken.  So, you may want to leave those at home.

So what do I do if TSA tries to confiscate my needles or hooks?
The most important part of traveling with craft projects is to be prepared, just in case.  Carry a copy of the TSA policies related to your particular project, there are some agents that may not be clear on the guidelines, but screeners can confiscate any items they feel are unsafe despite of the guidelines.  You can find some help with this information on the What Can I Bring section of the TSA website.

If you think an item may be pushing a guideline, put it in your checked bag, or have a self-addressed, pre-paid mailer to ship your item to your destination or back home, and don’t risk flying with expensive or sentimental items.

Always be polite, and informed if questioned.  From personal experience here, I’ve only been questioned about my knitting once, and after showing the screener the policy from the TSA site all was well.

Now that the technicalities are out of the way, now what?

Bring something small with you, socks, scarves, and other items of similar size are perfect on adventures.  Just think about projects that don’t require grand gestures to manuver when flipping over to do the next row, since space is limited, and your row-mate may not want to be covered with a half finished afghan.  Simple projects are best for a couple of reasons.  Patterns that require you to reference printed patterns may become fiddly in a limited space, also it helps if your project is simple enough to be able to stop quickly (God-forbid mid-row but it happens) and is easily memorized.

Other things to consider…
Yarn:  try to have yarn caked or rolled into center pull balls so you can leave your yarn in a project bag while you work.  Having a ball fall to the floor and roll halfway down the plane isn’t as funny as it sounds. Trust me.

Needle Holders: Travel isn’t alwasy the safest things for needles, find a way to protect  your needles when they aren’t in use.

Project Bags:  I’ve always had great luck with project bags that have carry handles built in.  You can loop the bag around your arm and have the yarn feed from it while you work.  No worries about anything falling in the floor there.

Knitting in airports and on the plane is an excellent way to pass the time and maybe spark the interest of your fellow passengers, so enjoy it!

Blips in the Matrix

It’s not unusual for me to pack up a knitting project and head to a local caffeine dispensary on Sunday mornings and get a fix and some people watching in.  You see a lot of the same types of people; the college student trying to wrap up a project due on Monday morning, the mother out running errands with kids in tow, the group of friends that obviously stayed out late imbibing adult beverages the night before, the couple heading to or from church, but occasionally some variations pop up.

These blips in the Matrix are the ones that make life interesting.  Knitting has been a conversation starter on more than one occasion with a stranger.

While working away on a class sample for May, a gentleman in a red hoodie (odd for springtime in Georgia) walks by and says it’s nice to see someone making something by hand.  I said thank you, he keeps walking, and I continue my constructive fidgeting.  A few moments later, he’s back with a small rose picked from the bush outside and says “to brighten your day”.  Okay, honestly, for me this is odd, blame it on my extremely large personal space bubble and my natural distrust of people that stand out in a crowd for odd reasons (red hoodie), my hackles are up but I remain polite and say thank you again.

He plops down in the chair across from me and begins to ask questions about the yarns I’m working with, what I’m making, and how long I’ve been knitting.  I answer.  He then spills into his story, I begin to let my guard down a bit, he’s not a threat.  From here out let’s refer to this gentleman as James.

James is homeless, and does what side jobs he can to make money.  He can’t seem to find a “good job” because he had lost all forms of personal ID and can’t seem to find the help to get proper identification again.  All James seems to have in the world is a backpack with some clothes and a few personal grooming items.  He’s a former felon, openly admits to making serious mistakes in his life, and is bound to the state of Georgia, but would rather go to North Carolina.  Most of his crimes sound more like they were committed out of perceived necessity on his part for self-preservation.   He makes it clear that he’s not asking for money, he just wants someone to talk to him for a few minutes and acknowledge he’s a person.  I’ve barely gotten a word into this conversation, he obviously needed to get some things off his chest.

One of the most fascinating things I learned about James in our hour long conversation is that he is absolutely passionate about “rock hunting”.  He has the talent and knowledge to recognize where precious stones and crystals can be found in the area.  I won’t discuss his methods, because I have a hunch some of these rock hunts are on private property or within parks that could lead to more legal woes if he was caught.  I could almost swear at some point he could have attended geology courses somewhere, or possibly have taught them.  He takes his finds and sells them to a few local shops.

We wrapped up our conversation when he realized I had stopped knitting for well over thirty minutes, he felt like he was bothering me at that point.  He wasn’t.   He says bye, thanks me for the conversation and walks out the back door of the coffee house.  A minute later, he passes back through, places a piece of yellow quartz on the table where I was sitting, waves bye and keeps walking.

img_0996I believe everyone is put into your path for a reason.  I’ll admit I’ve been a bit more stressed than normal, and have felt overwhelmed to the point it’s hard to focus for more than a few moments.  I think James was a reminder that despite what happens in life be passionate about something you enjoy and be positive.

That piece of quartz, left quietly on the table, will sit on a shelf near other memories of people that have momentarily walked down my path with me.

Hot Off The Presses Shawl – Finished At Last

eda6bd61-6f1b-409a-b87a-37c99b380923Okie. Finally it’s finished.  There’s a bit of a story behind the name of this project.  When I decided I wanted to teach a mosaic knitting class at the end of March I thought I had found a great, easy pattern to use for the class.  Well, ummm, I started working this pattern up for a shop/class sample and discovered it was busted and was more of a string of suggestions than an actual pattern.  I got to work and started knitting and writing like mad to come up with something my students could learn the technique on.  The draft, (I say draft now, because a student discovered some typos) was finished about two days before the class.

First let me promise to future students, I will never teach a pattern that hasn’t been test knitted at least a half dozen times again.  Things are going fine with this class, but having a couple of typos turn up has really bothered me.  This is not the experience I want my students to have.  Mea culpa.  Mea culpa.

Anyway, all that aside; it’s finished!

img_0968I’m offering this one up for some test knitting if anyone is interested, and I have no intention of selling the pattern, but will be offering it for free since it’s my first design out of the gate.  If you have a couple of 400 yard skeins of fingering weight yarn hanging about yell, I’ll happily respond with the PDF.  After it’s been tested a few more times a final version will be released for download on Ravelry.

This project also featured a yarn I hadn’t had my grubby paws on before.  It was worked up in Feza’s Harvest Sock, an organically dyed superwash merino. I used Rubia (Red) and Oleaster (Off-White).  The two colors are striking together, and the Rubia photographs more red, but is truly a deep rusty red orange.  One of my students is using the Indigo colorway with the Oleaster and it’s amazing.  Working with this yarn is easy with sharp needles, it has a looser twist so blunt needles may split here and there.  Don’t let the feel of the skein fool you if you pick it up, this yarn creates a very soft fabric that would be great next to the skin.

Edit: At the urging of several designer friends I’ve been told this pattern should only be available free on Ravelry for a limited time.  If you are interested in this pattern the download is available here.

Knit your bit! Socks, WWI, and the Next Generation of Knitters

Yesterday, (April 8) a couple of fantastic knitters any myself combined forces to participate in an Family Day event at the Northeast Georgia History Center.   The History Center presented Over There: America Enters World War I, to commemorate the Centennial Anniversary of the United States entry into “The Great War” with living history interpretation and hands on activities.

img_0739So what does knitting have to do with WWI?

Quite a lot!  Knitting was more than a hobby during wartime.  It was an act of patriotism!  Thousands if not millions of women and children in Allied countries used their knitting needles as weapons of war.  What were they knitting? Socks.  Lots of socks. Millions of socks, to prevent a horrid condition called trench foot.  Take a moment, and google that, I’ll wait…….okay welcome back, and I’m a little sorry for the images that may be burned into your retinas.  Trench warfare was often wet and muddy, and the boots soldiers wore were not fully waterproof, or leaked like sieves.  Fresh dry socks were needed to keep trench foot at bay.  Knitters not only made socks but sweaters, vests, gloves, balaclavas and scarves, in attempts to keep soldiers warm.

Sock knitting hasn’t changed greatly in 100 years, many of us still use double pointed needles to create them.  More recent methods include knitting them on circular needles.  The patterns needed for soldiers were fairly simple, and had nothing fancy included.  Many of the free, top down patterns with heel flap constructions that you see on Ravelry (knitting heaven for the uninitiated) or how-to knitting sites, are very similar to the patterns used by WWI knitters.  These millions of hand-knit, no frill,  socks were collected by the Red Cross in the US, inspected, fixed by more experienced knitters if necessary, loaded up and sent to the military for issue.

So three brave souls did some research, packed up our socks and goodies from our favorite local yarn store, Yarn Rhapsody, started making historically accurate patterns to work on while at the event, and set up shop at the History Center.

 

I believe the three of us were left amazed by the interest our little tables drew in.  We had set up a bit of yarn on straight needles to show children how to knit a few stitches, the three stations we set up stayed full for the entire event.  One child would finish their row, and the next would sit down, occasionally an adult would make their first attempts.  Some of these children were knitting prodigies from the moment they sat down and learned the mechanics of their first knit stitch.  We had a blast showing the next generation of future knitters that they were capable of learning this craft.  At the end of the day, the three of us packed up, and left exhausted, we had no idea we would be so busy.  I’m hoping to see a few of these children pop up again with needles and yarn in hand.