Monday, March 25, 2013

Hiya! (Hiya)

Me at 40.

Well Hello There! Been a while, stranger! Haven’t seen you in these parts for a stretch! Been on vacation? I thought your died or something? No. Just lazy and still sort of adjusting to my new job. The hours are crappy but it’s better than not having a paycheck and having to move my dogs, fish, shoes, and all my yarn into my parents’ house. I am not sure if that would really be a bad thing but I would have to move into my old bedroom since the folks now live in my “just before I moved out” bedroom, which is actually bigger than my whole apartment. Of course I didn't actually move out until I was 30 and they still sort of so my laundry and take care of my turtle and my rabbits and buy me toilet paper and fruit and stuff.  Now that I think about it, they are supposed to move into their newly remodeled bedroom which has been completed for several years not but it is “just too nice” and my mother does not want my father’s “greasy ass shoes” all over her new carpet. It’s strange. The bed is made, she keeps her clothes in there, makes everyone take their shoes off before they enter, yet they will not sleep there. The last time I inquired about it Pops said that he was worried the cat would not be able to find them if they moved rooms. Funny since the only person ever sleeping on the fancy bed is the cat, who is an ass hole and bites everyone and really does not deserve such luxuries. Maybe they really have relocated but pretend to live in my “just before I moved out” room so that I do not try and move back in? Hmmm, I think I am on to something. But I digress…

Does this look look like a man with greasy shoes?
Suzy and I were able to squeeze in some Stitches West in February. I could only stay for a few hours but still had a chance to locate and purchase THE PERFECT KNITTING BAG! I feel like I caught a unicorn. I have not taken any pictures of it yet but I will as soon as I let it out in the daylight. It’s HUGE and surprisingly not pink.  I also bought a new ball winder with a handle since I have nowhere to clap my old one, and one skein of yarn that Suzy so kindly stood in line to purchase since I had to run to work. Next year, I am taking the whole weekend off. Getting text message updates about it just made me jealous. Did anyone else go? What did you get?!!!

I am back on the knitting benders. For some reason I have not knit for months. I was totally uninspired. I think that ever since I spilled coffee on, in and under my knitting bag I lost some momentum. Like it was some sort of curse. I feel like I am a little slow and out of practice. For example, Suzy and I cast on Alana Dakkos Rustling Leaves beret (I can't find a link to this right now.) It is beautiful. It has no bobbles (like the Cloudy Day that I cast on no less than nine times and finally tossed in the trash.) She of course finished it in like three days and I am on my third attempt at the cast on band after several miscounted stitches and two yarn color changes. Of course, if we could compare our knitting speeds (and skills) to vehicles, Suzy would be a really fast Formula Race car (red of course) and I would be a cart pulled by a toothless donkey, but I’m okay with it. Regardless, I forgot it at home today and I am at work yearning for my needles. Ahhhhh, my needles. Have you ever bought something, like really splurged, and been disappointed in it? Well, Hiya Hiyas are not disappointing. Truuuust me. They are like knitting with fairly wings. Smooth, easy to use, beautiful They just make everything better and now that I have the full set (I bought the large size sharps for myself for my B-day) I am ready to go. I think there is some magic in them. Of course it is sort of like buying some really cute shoes on sale and then spending way too much money on matching pants, make up, and a coat. I bought them a fancy case at Stitches and then had to get the knitting bag to hold them. They deserve it and I really just want to make sure they know they are loved. 

Anyway, I have to get back to work. I will leave you with some pictures from my Birthday get away which was an awesome trip to Calistoga with my friend Bonnie. I am still dreaming about it.  Knitting retreat anyone?


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lucky Thirteen

New year, new job, new resolutions. I think 13 is a lucky number so I am hoping that this year is better than the last. Not that 2012 was all that bad for me. I got healthier, lost weight, paid off all my credit debt, made some new friends, and ditched some old friends. What I did not do much last year was knit. A little strange now that I think of it. I maybe only finished four or five projects. Did I fall out of love with knitting? I was so obsessed when I first learned; I have so many patters, so much yarn in my stash. It is not until now that I realized that I can credit my unproductive project year to working a job that really sucked up all of my free time. There was no down time to knit and by the time I got home I was always so exhausted. Everything that I started turned out like crap due to said fatigue and then I just became disillusioned. Well, getting fired from that job was a blessing in disguise (yeah, fired, but that story is for another post.) My new job is pretty simple, the staff works as a team, and I do not feel like it is me against the world trying to get things done. After only three weeks, I picked up my Cabled Canuck hat that has been sitting on my coffee table for three months now and, three days later, I have a toasty new hat and got decidedly better with twisting stitches. I have lowered the bar a bit and even though there are a few minor mis-twists, I simply do not care and will wear it with pride.

Yesterday at our traditional family New Year’s Day dinner, we all offered up our resolutions. My family stared at me because mine were all knitting related. They proceeded to tell me what my real resolutions should be, such as quitting smoking, finishing college, losing more weight…but I have my own agenda. If I put them on the internet, I think I will have to be more accountable for them. So, here we go (in no apparent order):

1. Go to Stitches West without having to dip into my rent money again and then buy what I really want. Of course, I will not know what I want until I get there, but I am stashing some cash just for the end of February.

2. Find a new knitting bag. The perfect knitting bag for me is sort of like a unicorn. I am not sure if what I want really exists, but I can hope and dream. I have a few nice bags but I am so wierded out about getting my expensive bags dirty and the cheap bags just do not have what I need. I like it to be just the right size, a bit stiff, shoulder straps, the correct type of pocket (but not too many pockets.) Maybe I will have to make my own, but my last one never recovered from the coffee spill and it looks like something died on it. So, I will search harder.

3. I would like to blog more. Blogging about knitting and other parts of my life mean I need to actually knit and have a bit more of a life to blog about.

4. Organize my patterns. Ravelry is great for items that I have purchased but instead of letting them lay around on my coffee table (or floor of my car, or crumpled in my purse) I would like to create a user friendly system for my patterns and p-reserve the notes that I write on them.

5. Successfully knit Pretty Thing by Stephanie Pearl McPhee. Since Santa was nice to me this year, I got a set of Hiya Hiya sharps (yes, I feel loved and I did not think the boyfriend was gonna do that, he told me he bought me a George Foreman Grill?!) I need to break them in and the dull tip bamboo needles I was using just frustrated me to the point of giving up.

6. Start and finish Abrazo. It is a lace shall that I bought all the supplies for three years ago and I still dream about it. Not that I look good in shawls, but I just don’t care.

7. Complete my set of Hiya Hiya interchangeable sharps (uh, Karl, now I need the large set and my birthday is right around the corner!)

8. Make a sweater. No patterns in mind, but just to have a badge of honor to represent my diligence and challenge my attention span.

 9. Knit with more focus. I have so many little projects laying around I want to toss or finish them and then only work on one or two things at a time so my head doesn’t feel so scattered.

 10. Complete these two cabled scarves that I have wanted to make forever. I love cables.

 11. Make hats, as promised, for my brother, sister in law, and dad.

12. Improve my skills a bit. I no longer want to avoid certain patterns because I think they will be too hard. That does not include learning to crochet (with the exception of a crocheted cast on.)

1 13. Stop giving lovely things that I make to people who do not appreciate them. No more fine yarn, billion cables, and hours of work will I throw away on a hat only to give it to a person who, the next time I see them, is wearing a one dollar beanie from the dollar store. You do not deserve my warm love!

So, there are enough resolutions there to keep me for a few years. Wish me luck!

Happy New Year to all my wonderful friends! I hope 2013 fills your stash with cashmere and marino.

Love Maja

Friday, October 26, 2012

Winter Hats

How do you block hats in an apartment with little counter space? I get creative....I think this is the only time I ever use my little stove!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Badge of Courage

This photo was taken onn the first nice Summer day in SF. It was NOT taken today!

Finally getting around to blogging a bit more. This is just a practice run. I am having a blah day which matches the blah weather here in foggy San Francisco. I just want to curl up with some Murder, She Wrote, my knitting, and this scratchy acrylic scarf. It was my first complete project made with metal needles and one of those tons of fun or one pound skeins of sale yarn. I was so proud when I completed it, almost mistake free. My depression was so severe in those days that I would stay up for days at a time, filled with anxiety, horrible thoughts, and paranoia. The medications only took the edge off. My roommate told me that I was no longer allowed to clean the bathroom at 4am with a toothbrush because she was starting to think I was a tweaker. She suggested I teach myself to knit. I did and have not been able to stop since. Knitting taught me to learn to focus on something, to have small goals and achievements, patience, gave me something to do other than lock myself in the bathroom and cut myself, and it provided companionship while I tried to hold on and let the depression run it's course. This ugly, scratchy scarf had all of that suffering knit in to it. I wore it constantly for several months. I cried into it, used it as a pillow, wore it during night shifts when, with such humility,  had to get my first non-police officer job, covered my face with it when I wanted to disappear. I pull it out on days like today, grey on the inside, grey on the outside. It hugs me a but (it is huge.) It soothes me. It reminds me how far I have come. It represents all the healing that has occurred. It tells me that my outlook has changed and things can get better. It also reminds me that at one point I had no idea that bamboo needles and marino and cashmere even existed. Depression gone, yarn taste improved. What does knitting do for you?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Time To Knit

I am having a little trouble finding time to knit. I am craving some alone time with my yarn and needles.  I do attend every knit night once a month with the Excelsior Knitters here in San Francisco (hey it is a great group of gals and we meet right across from my work!) But between the two jobs and my lack of sleep I seem to not have the time lately. Normally I can bang out a hat a week but I have slowed to one a month. The pattern hunting has not stopped and the projects are stacking up. Also, the yarn money is drying up a bit and that sort of gets me down (plus my stash is painfully skimpy these days.) I tried to take my birthday off so that I could literally have a movie marathon and knit all day but someone called in sick and I had to go in (the whole plan was too good to be true.) I am also diligently exercising and on a new diet called The Simple Diet. This was inspired by the aforementioned birthday and turning 39 and not wanting to enter my forties being unhealthy. I really wish I could knit and run on the treadmill. I am really considering taking a vacation so that I can start making some nice baby bonnets for my friends soon to arrive baby girl. How do you find time to knit?

Monday, March 12, 2012

You Gotta Heart This!

I completed this little Stitch Red pattern that I found for free on Ravelry. I have never done any color work, except for stripes, and I forget about the little jog when you change colors. I think I got my tension just about right because there was no real puckering or anything.  I really did not like the decreases (it has this knit one, slip two stitches, psso thing that make a little chain) that I screwed up so it came out a little crooked. I did not do a few of the stripes either because I did not want to get vertigo every time I wore the hat. Next time I will make the ribbing a bit longer because it is just a tad too short. I have already started a second one for my auntie in cream and blue. The details are on my Ravelry page if you want to check it out!! The pattern is called Healthy Heart Hat by Meg Meyers. It just says LOVE to me.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Back From Stitches West!

 It is a little overdue but here is a little report back from Stitches West. I had a great time. Auntie B, Fatima, Suzy, Pat and I met up and shopped until we dropped. I was on a limited budget and was very proud that I never pulled out my exhausted credit card. I bought a skein of Malabrigo silk DK weight (which I think was made by angels) in a delicious light blue that will be just perfect for a spring hat. I bought a little kit from Stick Chick Knits that came with some yarn and this little pattern for an infant beanie called Twist (don't worry there is one for grown ups too!) which will be perfect for my friend Rebecca’s new baby girl. You can find the patterns of Ravelry or on her website.

Twist Pattern and  some of my taxidermy collection

I bought a set of pink ribbon needles from Mimi's Needle Basket that I did not really need but the money helps sponsor a lady who was going to do some breast cancer walk (plus they were pink and shiny and sort of look like boobs with pasties if you ask me!) I found a few pairs of really cheap circular needles in small sizes which always seem to be sold out when I go to the craft stores and by interchangeables do not come in anything below a size five.  
Cutest thing EVER!

Pink Pasties

While I was shopping Ysolda Teague brushed up against me (not in a purvy way, just in a too many people in here kind of way, not that I would have minded the first one because, seriously, it’s Ysolda Freakin’ Teague.) Her booth was adorable, with a photo booth and everything. I of course high tailed it over to Fatima and loudly whispered about what just happened. She nearly started jumping up and down with excitement. You just have to love having a knitting friend that understands that that is the coolest thing EVER!

I also got a super cute little notions tin that is the size of an Altoids case (which is what I use for all my stitch markers.) I also got a new hat pattern from Never Knot Knitting and got to meet Alana Dakkos of the podcast and the Book Coastal Knits. She wans't that friendly but maybe she was tired. I dunno but I love her patterns.

This year’s Ops Plan was to bring my own lunch (food there is very expensive), only bring cash (so I do not spend my rent money like I did the first year), and to bring your patterns for the projects you want to knit so you buy yarn/ patterns with focus. Next year, I am adding this plan to the list and recording it here so I do not forget:

• Start in the small section. The main sales area has all the big name yarn companies, soaps, books, and all the other stuff that you can kind of find on line. Don’t avoid this area because there is always good stuff in there but I think these are prime spots and expensive for the vendors and the smaller companies that have more unique stuff cannot afford them. Plus, they are pretty crowded at the beginning of the day because everyone is so excited to shop. The lines are shorter in the late afternoon. So, start in the back corner. Here you will find the small dyers, the handmade notions, cool project bags, and all the things I love. I want to spend most of my money on this hard to find stuff.

  • Shop the whole section before you buy. Then go back and purchase what you want. You may find something more worthy of you hard earned money. Of course, if it is a rare find, you still may need to snatch it up while elbowing a few other knitters out of the way. Be swift and brutal and to the visitor goes the spoils.

  • Plan to take a break and tell all your friends where to meet and at what time. This allows for some flexibility for other people’s shopping cadence. Plus, for some reason I always get a little tired half way through and get a bit of a headache (maybe from all the dye in the air?)

  • If you are shopping in a group, wait for each other at the end of each aisle. It helps you stay together. None of us could hear our cell phones or text messages inside so it was not a good way to stay keep the flock together.

  • Bring your own shopping bag that has a nice long handle. It is greener and I kept shoving stuff in my purse and things got a little lost and my purse was driving me crazy as it kept slipping off my shoulder.

  • Bring small bills. The vendors really appreciate them.

  • Grab every free pattern, button, sticker, etc. that you can and share with your friends. You never knew who got distracted and missed something.

  • Grab every free catalog and business card from the vendors that you like. It will keep you from forgetting them and you can buy stuff from them later (if you budget your craft money like I do) on their website or from their Esty shop.

  • Wear comfy shoes and dress in layers. It gets a bit hot in there (or maybe it was my adrenaline making me hot and sweaty from all the excitement.)

Here is a little list with links to some of the vendors that I wanted to buy stuff from but decided to wait until later when I had more money:

  • Buffy Ann Designs: cute little sock type yarn cozies (great for people that knit with four dogs on their laps like me.)

  • Chic*a: more little cute bags and stuff

  • Chicken Boots: more bags and stuff (plus you have to love that name!)

  • Meg Hannan/Rag Sky Art Studio: super cool jewelry and other pretty things (not totally knitting related but beautiful none the less. Her Estsy shop is closed (I am not a frequent Etsy shopper and have no idea what this means but there was a note that said she would be back soon.

  • Stitch Red: This is a partnership between The Heart Truth and Jimmy Beans Wool who have tasked themselves with the mission of drawing attention to heart disease (it is the number one killer of women in the United States and is making mew want to quit smoking.) They had a copy of the pre-published book there and the patterns are divine. I just knit up a free patter for a hat with little hearts on it that was adorable. I can jot wait until this book comes out!

I simply cannot wait until next year. I am going to start saving my money now!!!

Here are the goods!