Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween with clue 3

I have just returned from a work conference in San Francisco.  What best memory of San Francisco pre-Halloween than a sourdough pumpkin head? This was in display at the famous Boudin bakery, right behind it you could see the row upon row of loaves leavening and baking and cooling. The smell of sourdough was so delicious I was almost dizzy with hunger.

Here is some more SF images:
"Occupy San Francisco" protesters camp-out

The "Occupy SF" movement was quite noisy across the street from the hotel. Apparently some of the Occupy Oakland folks were expected over the ferry to come join them. The police had a raid scheduled but it was called off in account of a minor earthquake. I was blessedly unaware of both the protest and the earthquake.

My friend, who slept in the other side of the hotel, had a lovely view, but unfortunately was too close to the protesters and had some trouble sleeping. Still, great views of the Bay bridge and the Ferry building.
Atrium of the Hilton Embarcadero hotel

Speaking of the hotel... what a lovely atrium. Curves and straight lines crisscrossing. I will keep this in the inspiration board.
Sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf

I heard the weather was terrible most summer, foggy and sad, but past week the weather was lovely, sunny and clear, just a bit chilly. Here are the sea lions huddling together lazily

And just a hint of fog over the Golden Gate bridge. It is just fitting I finish my USA clue 12 here since it was the point of inspiration. Yes, I did 12 rows here! can you say "tendinitis"?

 I did need a lot of coffee to stay awake - I have simply lost the ability to sit still and listed to somebody speak for 8 hours straight. Luckily, the famous Blue Bottle Coffee was across the street. Best. Coffee. Ever. Will put hair in your chest. Just look at the huge queue of people waiting outside circa lunch time.

A good soul pointed me in the direction of 'Imagiknit",  a quaint yarn store in the lovely Mission district, rows of houses  just cute as a button. The store was packed to the rafters with gorgeous yarn in a dizzying variety of colors and materials. I went straight for the sock and lace, then thought better and got some chunky weight yarn (of which I have none in the stash). My hands also got tangled with some gold-colored Himalayan silk and it followed me home. I realized I had unconsciously bought Halloween tone yarns: autumn orange, black, and zombie green. Probably because I have become totally addicted to Zombie Farm for Android. It is such a silly game - farm zombies, invade your neighbours. Like a sick Farmville, but totally cute. My Nook suffered a power outage (maybe it does not like earthquakes?) and fritzed on me, just when I was reviewing a novel I may use for the 2012 KAL. I was a little sick of knitting (8 hours of conference - 8 hours  of knitting), ergo Zombie Farm. I am not very good at the game, and I am getting my undead butt kicked, but having fun at it.
I did get much done in some of the projects, and as it often happens in the airports, I came up with a new idea during the waiting. I promise pictures next time!

Reaching the end of 2011
We will be soon reaching the final clue of 2011. I may need again to push the date of release, mostly because I want to add a tutorial for the cast off portion, and I don't find anything to my liking, meaning I may have to make one myself, maybe even develop a small practice swatch such as the dishcloth last year... but with better instructions :)

And maybe the beginning of 2012?
Keep the inspirations coming! There was some talk on the forum about it; People suggested round shape, floral motifs, it looks like you guys are in the mood for a very romantic year. I would love to hear more suggestions, as well as some of your favorite books/stories/characters/themes to use as an inspiration. I have started the research phase of it (i.e. I have been looking at shawls I like, books, books about shawls...), which is always an anxiety-ridden phase, until finally the golden idea strikes and I have a vision of where I want to go. The final result may be different, but I do need that point of departure. the 10% inspiration, where I can put the remaining 90% perspiration. So keep pushing me in the right direction.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rav member Fenna, and her gorgeous shawl through clue 2
My silk triangle shawl, through clue 1, with gold beads
One more clue, and the end is so close we can almost touch it! By now, the rounds are becoming tediously long, but as the edge begins to unravel, hopefully you all have new found energies to arrive in London safely and claim your wage :)
Unfortunately, my experimentation with some of the new Ravelry features had a rather disastrous effect; Some of you found that clicking the "update" button brought indeed the new clue, but also wiped out the past clues from Rav library. In retrospect, this makes a lot of sense; the "update" function is there to let you know that there is a new version of a pattern you acquired, and that means the old pattern is obsolete and it is removed when the new, updated version is uploaded. sigh.
Fortunately, I think I will be able to use this feature next year, and just have one cumulative pattern that gets updated with the new clue added, so you won't miss old clues or have dozens of little clues all over. This is still on the refining process, and I definitely have to make sure that there are no glitches (such as, Rav attempting to charge you after the pattern changes from free to pay). But we are getting there. Meanwhile, if your data got wiped out, you can either buy the cumulative pattern (2.50, not a bad deal), which you can keep in your library forever, or if you honestly feel you are owed a copy, email me and I will send you a copy of the pattern up to clue 12, but yo won't be able to keep it in the library or update it with the final clues.
Clue 3 will take us one step closer to the end. However, I need to push its release a couple of days back, to Sunday, October 30th. I will be in a conference in San Francisco until then, and even if I take my laptop with me, I don't want to have any surprises having to rely on whatever Internet connection I have in the hotel (some hotels give you very limited data upload and such).
Any good yarn stores I should visit while I am in SF???

New projects

With my square shawl trudging along the last rows of USA, I really needed to get cracking on my mom's coat. This is the first time I design a truly shaped sweater, with set in sleeves, sleeve caps, and all that jazz. There was a lot of math, and I really had to struggle to stay organized and type down the instructions as I go. I have a bad habit of making shorthand notes in a dozen different locations, which make perfect sense at the time, but after a few weeks, or even days, I can't decipher my own gibberish. Case in point is the hat I developed as a swatch. I did some beautiful crown shaping with the cabled motifs merging gorgeously, and now I can't for the life of me figure out how I did it. Which means making another hat while I try to figure out whether the scribbles are cable symbols or Chinese characters.
This coat also meant I had to develop smarter strategies to make the model, and minimize frogging. I am almost programmed to start a sweater at the back, then make the fronts, then the sleeves. However,  I started at the front side, to test the armhole and neck shaping. Now I am moving to the sleeve, which also has a lot of shaping. If those fit well, then the rest of the coat follows. I am scaring myself with all this organization. And I am shaking in my boots to think about grading this (adding extra sizes). But the pattern is too beautiful to keep it solely as my mom's pet projects, so I will have to woman up and do it.

Elly Samples
A big thanks to those of you who offered to make a sample Elly for me. I ended up with five samplers, one who offered her own stash (thanks Dragonflyjenn!), and here is what the other four got:

From the top: Pink yarn is Stroll Glimmer, a fingering yarn with threads of lurex. It is actually quite soft to touch, and the twinkle is quite subtle. I think if I was a little girl, I would go nuts over a little hat or scarf made with this. I think it is going to make a very cheery and fun scarf!. Red yarn is the luscious Gloss DK, a silk/merino blend that is just delish to touch. Purple yarn is some Shadow from my own stash, a pretty basic workhorse lace yarn with a lovely heathered color. Finally, the blue yarn is Stroll Tonal, but the picture really does not do justice to the lovely color variations within. All in all, a stellar lineup, I think we should have a great collection of Ellies in a variety of impersonations, and I can't wait to meet them all!
Thank you to all of the participants!
Just some pretty yarn...
 All my latest project are brown, brown, brown... so I was thrilled when I got my first installment of the Sweet Georgia Yarn sock yarn club. Such lovely, romantic blend of browns, purples and turquoise. The photo does not do it justice.
I have also been toying with the idea of making a little football shirt for my littlest one using Gridiron. The ownership of the magazine is up, and the pattern is now all mine. So I need to type it up, make some new photos, and put it up for sale. I have a Minnesota Vikings version for my eldest, so the choice now is, what to do for the little one? Arizona Cardinals or Iowa State Cyclones? I think daddy would love the little monster on a Cyclones shirt...It is such a fun little knit! And there has to be some football lover moms and grandmas that want to make one for their kids this Christmas, don't you think?

Will there be a 2012 KALendar?
Of course there will be! it is just too much fun not to do it. I have started chewing on some ideas and inspirations, but as usual your input means so much to me. You all know that the KALendar is a frogocracy (I get to make all the decisions), but still your opinions and wishes often fuel my inspiration and help me push the envelope. So I will likely start a thread within the group so you can all sound your opinion, and get me going. This year, it was very clear that things are a lot better when you have more planning time, though we ended up in crunch time for the border. Thank God for my test knitters!!!! They saved my butt a few times.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

All done... and in awe!

An unusually brief and photo-less update today... but I just needed to let it out. I have finished my 2011 KALendar shawl!!! One of them, at any rate... the blue Muga silk with gold colored beads. And what a sight it is. Absolutely exquisite, and worth of a Maharani to be sure. I had added an extra USA repeat, and it is one big large sucker... 47 in deep by 108 in wingspan, and all 920 yards of silky glory.
My last worries about the appearance of the border and the blocking and the yardage are finally put to rest. You will not be disappointed by your shawl, I promise!!!
Now, if I could only finish my Cashmere square... but my mom has been reminding me that I promised to finish the cabled coat for winter, so am applying myself to it. Why, o why did I promise her a 3/4 length coat???

Be an Elly sample, try some yarn
And now, a little plea for help. Knit Picks has agreed to place Elly as a free download pattern in their site! I am very excited because they do get a lot of traffic, and I really would love to share Elly with a lot of people. But here is the catch: I need to make a sample in some KP yarn, any yarn or color I choose (and lucky me, I can choose any, since Elly is an "all yarn" pattern). 
But I am woefully short of time, so I would like to ask for some help. Here is the deal: if you think you can turn a sample of Elly in a week or two max, I will let you choose any KP yarn you want, send you the yarn at home, and you make the sample. I would need the finished sample sent to me for a short while, so I can take pictures (unless you are an awesome photographer yourself and can send me some great snaps). I will send you the sample back, and it is yours to keep.
Let me make this clear: KP is not giving me the yarn, I have to buy it, and being it a free pattern, I make no money out of it. So I really need somebody that keeps her/his end of the deal.
I can probably use 2-3 samples, so if you would like to make Elly, and you are really itchin' to try some KP yarn (how about their new Sugarbunny?), send me an email at, letting me know who you are, your Rav name, what yarn and color you would like to try, and your pinky promise that you WILL make the sample promptly and return it to me. If I have a lot of takers, I will have an innocent-ish hand draw names and will let you know. 
Just one more thing... due to mailing cost and time I can offer it only to USA knitters. Maybe next time I can partner up with an European or Canadian dyer/retailer!

Well, here is some Malabrigo Rios I had bought for a Lazy Elly in Rainbow colorway. I just noticed that all my WIPs are some shade of brown or another. My 5-year old picked this one right away, I can't argue with his taste :)
Are you ready for the next round of border awesomeness next week?