It’s a Cocoknits Thing

When I went to Vogue Knitting LIVE Los Angeles last September, among my purchases from LIVE Marketplace was Cocoknits pattern Gisela (apologies that there are no posts about my Vogue Knitting LIVE LA adventure…yet). I was in the Habu Textiles booth and there was a sample of Gisela knit-up, so I bought the pattern and some Habu yarn on the spot. And then the whole thing cooled its heels in my closet until June, when I decided I’d like to have it to wear this summer.

Meanwhile, in listening to a Stash & Burn podcast this summer, hosts Jenny and Nicole talked about going to Stitches West and visiting the Cocoknits booth and trying on some really fun samples. I was intrigued, so I looked-up on Ravelry some of the things they saw in the Cocoknits booth at Stitches and made the connection that my Gisela and the stuff they saw were all part of Cocoknits (my mind is just too filled with daily life to make connections quickly these days). In looking on Ravelry I particularly liked Maude, but was hesitant to buy it because I wasn’t sure it would look all that good on me, so I added it to my Ravelry Favorites and thought nothing more about it.

At about the same I started Gisela, I looked at the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas class catalog for this summer and discovered that one of the same classes I’d tried to sign-up for at Vogue LIVE, but had been unable to get into was being offered: Julie Weisenberger’s European Finishing Techniques. So I signed-up. It would be perfect timing, I thought, since since I’d dropped the ball last spring and hadn’t signed my kids up for enough summer camps, taking a summer class might break things up for me a bit, and all the better that it would be in August, the month in which it hits every mom that, no matter how much you love your kids, school can’t start soon enough. I was ecstatic, both at being able to take this class, and at having the chance to take a little break to Bainbridge Island, where Churchmouse is located, even if only for a few hours. I set my sights on August.

So, I continued knitting along on Gisela, and all the while, it had still not occurred to me that I was knitting a Julie Weisenberger design. Yes, yes, even though it clearly said Julie Weisenberger and Cocoknits on the pattern: I tell you, I am just too preoccupied with nonsense these days! Not until the beginning of August rolled around, when I was beginning to wonder if I would get Gisela finished in time to wear this summer, was it that I looked at the pattern made the connection between Gisela, the patterns discussed on Stash & Burn, and the Julie Weisenberger class I’d registered for. That realization was like the heavens opening up and and hearing angels singing. I also wondered if I should have my head examined for not making the connection sooner. Suddenly I realized it would be great fun to wear my Gisela to class, and really set about knitting it in earnest.

Fast forward to two nights before the class: at about midnight I finished seaming Gisela, washed and blocked it. The next morning I put it on to wear to my husband’s boss’s family day at his beach house, and discovered that one sleeve was about 5 cm (2″) shorter than the other! So I spent to the whole ride to the beach house, missing the scenery on the way, picking-out the seams of the short sleeve, ripping-out the cap and knitting up the length. Midnight before the class, I finished re-seaming the sleeve, washed and blocked it again.

The morning of the class was no picnic, as it involved taking my kids to a birthday party in Bellevue on the Eastside, leaving them there with my husband and dashing off to the ferry in downtown Seattle. This would have been easily accomplished if not for the fact that the everything was against me that day. On State Route 520, the Evergreen Green Point Floating Bridge (yes, we really do have bridges that float here, maybe because it rains so much here—I’m kidding) was closed that weekend, so what would have been a quick hop across Lake Washington by toll bridge to Seattle to catch the ferry became a detour by way of the other floating bridge, the Murrow Floating Bridge (this is the bridge that infamously sank in 1990). Once in Seattle, and not living in Seattle proper anymore, I’d forgotten that Seattle is in the midst of its very own traffic nightmare at the waterfront where the ferry dock is because the decaying Alaskan Way Viaduct is being replaced with a tunnel, got caught-up in the mess and missed the last ferry to get to Bainbridge Island in time for class (I thought I’d be at the dock 45 minutes ahead of departure). By the time I was parked in line at the dock I still had a good hour before I could catch the next ferry and stew in my frustration knowing that I would now be an hour late for Julie’s class.  My mood was not much alleviated with a brisk walk through downtown while the car sat parked in line, however I made my way to Watson Kennedy Fine Home and bought some locally made JonBoy Absinth & Black Salt Caramels, and I ate these back at the car with the gluten-free peach hand pie from Maninis I’d brought with me.  Not healthy eating, but when you miss a ferry for a knitting class, who cares about healthy.

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Maninis’ peach hand pie

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Seattle

Having caught a later ferry, I arrived one hour late for a 3-hour class, but Julie graciously caught me up during break, and all was good.  I’m really glad I didn’t give up just because I arrived late, as Julie is one of those rare people who not only enjoys her craft, but is an enthusiastic and generous instructor, and she had lots to share with us to help us improve our craft.  Among the things she covered in the class was: long-tail cast on without running out of yarn, invisible seaming, decreasing and increasing without gaping stitches or stitches that stand-out or detract from the garment, a call for the end of “pick-up and knit x-number of sts” and replacing it with a simple, more realistic pick-up method.

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invisible seaming

After class, I tried on probably half of her samples, and realized this woman is gifted with a creativity for designs that are often unique and yet feminine. In the end I bought the patterns for Maude and Veronika.

As for Gisela: I am surprised how much I like wearing it. I knew I’d like it, but I wasn’t too sure about wearing something with such an open stitch gauge, but I like the way it dresses-up a t-shirt on a summer day and gives a hint of warmth when in an air-conditioned environment. I’ve read that one or two people on Ravelry don’t like the way the collar doesn’t lie flat, but it doesn’t bother me, since I like the way it is, with it’s own character. It’s perfect for me.

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Details
Pattern: Gisela, by Julie Weisenberger
Yarn: Habu Textiles, N-80 (silk-wrapped merino), colorway 3 (green merino with black silk thread)
Needles: 5.0 mm (US 8)

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In The Black

Just to prove I am knitting, here’s photo of my newest work-in-progress, Kozue by Kristen Johnstone.

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It’s a super easy pattern and, other than a few rows of stitch pattern, it’s all stockinette. Nothing wrong with that, especially since it seems to fit my lifestyle these days. I would like to do something more challenging, but I just don’t have the time nor the concentration these days. Embrace the stockinette stitch, it is your friend, busy mom of two little people in the dog days of summer. Busy Mom. Busy, busy, busy.

Things I’ve been up to….
July was about summer camps for my son, though it’s up for debate whether he appreciated them and, truth be told, driving him hither and yon everyday just about did me in (thankfully, little sister had only one camp this summer). Upon remarking on just how busy we were, someone told me that this was just the way it’s going to be from here on. I maintain that not in my world will my children be so hyper-scheduled again, not if I can help it. Though I had a prescient moment back in June during the last week before the end of the school year indicating that I was in for a busy summer when I overheard another mom at a school event gripe that in a week her ability to accomplish anything would end until September. Wow. She was not kidding.

Pennsylvania sister-in-law and her daughter was in town for the first half of summer.

Cousin from France and her husband stopped by for a first visit. I’ve found that having small children in the family are a great lure for distant, long lost family members.

We made a family trip to see Thomas the Tank Engine at the train museum in Snoqualmie. The kids had a great time, of course, but my son enjoyed it more than he did three in 2008, and this was partly because with his sister along he had someone to enjoy it with. As a matter of fact, our 2008 trip was not very memorable, and thankfully this one was.

There were birthday parties, mine and my daughter’s (3!). Here are some pics from my birthday dinner at Mistral Kitchen in Seattle.

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This was some sort of heirloom tomato salad with some basil puree underneath it. Heaven.

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This was a scallop with beets, and it too, was delicious.

Birthday gift from my man: an external keyboard for my iPad 2. Love. It. Flip the iPad over and the keyboard becomes a hard protective case. Love. It. Love my man for thinking of this for me.

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Friend from California (NoCal, to be specific) came to town, and with her visit I realized how much I wished she and her family would move back here, but there’s no chance of that, they’re smitten with NoCal. She and her hubby are old friends of Alex’s from high school, and of all his friends, I enjoy them the most.

And if I didn’t need more to do, I volunteered to head our somewhat embattled neighborhood landscape committee; people are really passionate about our community gardens around here. Of course, for some reason I’ve taken the job so seriously that I’m actually doing some of the labor myself, including transplanting shrubs, pruning plants in-between visits by our landscape service and personally shoveling a 150 cubic foot pile of wood chips left to sit and moulder for the past 12 months. Call me crazy.

Not that it’s been all bad, because with August I’ve really enjoyed not rushing out the door every morning now that camps are done, and taking the kids to some fun stuff has been a blast. Although I could do without another trip to the zoo for the rest of my life. It’s a great zoo, don’t get me wrong, but a zoo is no place for elephants, giraffes, hippos, lions, tigers and bears, and I really saw how unhappy these big animals are, even in a modern, “humane” zoo. The trips to the parks and play areas have been fun and it’s been fun watching the kids really develop a relationship and enjoy one another’s company. Soon we leave for a few short days at the ocean, and we’re looking forward to it. It’s our only vacation this year, since although our kids loved our spring trip to Kauai in 2010, our daughter proved to us that we should’ve waited longer before traveling in a plane, because she pretty much screamed in terror much of the flight to and from. But we have our sights set on 2012, just you wait.

Still, not much time for knitting or blogging, but this will change, I think, when my son goes into first grade this fall and my daughter starts preschool. And with September comes my very first knitting convention. Yes, I will be going to Vogue Knitting LIVE this September, so this should be interesting. I’ve already warned Alex, knitters don’t leave these events empty-handed; he beginning to have nightmares about how he and the kids will have to move out if I bring more yarn home…

Final pic: One of our resident frogs hanging-out on the front porch window box.

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Time flies…

Tomorrow’s my birthday, and I have accepted that I can no longer fool myself into thinking I’m still 25.  It just took me a good portion of my life to come to that realization.  Tonight I got a call from an old friend in Minnesota to wish me an happy birthday, and neither of us could believe how time has flown.

Speaking of “flown”, time has really flown since my last post and it seemed like it was time…

I finished Saroyan (which I never posted about previously). Fun shawl and I love the way it just flew along, but then how can it not go fast when using worsted-weight yarn on US 10 needles? I used Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage, which was leftover from my stupid attempt to use it for Jacob’s Delight, but which turned-out to be too lightweight for the project. I have a lot of yarn to use from that mistake.

Details
Pattern: Saroyan by Liz Abinante
Yarn:
Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage (100% machine-washable merino) in Tern
Needles: US 10/6.0 mm

Modifications: I made an additional repeat of the pattern stitch on each end, adding an additional 6″ to the overall length while making it few inches wider at the same time.

Maybe it’s a sign of getting older, but I’m starting to do some stuff I would never have done in my youth.  Like use the word “youth” in reference to my younger years… Then there was the day I recently drove past my childhood home, ogling it, and took-up the current owners’ on-the-spot offer for me to come in and see how they’d renovated it.   It is fantastic what they did to that fabulous 1919 craftsmen style home.  The first thing I said when I walked in the front door was, “Wow!  You got rid of that awful ’70s shag rug my mom and step-dad put down in 1971!”  And there was, “Oh!  You took down those stupid white-washed floor-to-ceiling boards we’d put over the mantle to ‘modernize’ the living-room! Thank you!”  You cannot imagine what my parents were thinking back then in 1971 when they destroyed some of the good bones of that house and “updated” it; I couldn’t.  I was 11 and I kept asking them, “But why are you hiding the mantle?  I like it.  Why are you knocking-out that wall?  But, why are you taking out the French doors?!”

In front of the house in 1978. Chocolate Easter pig in hand.

These people, who bought the house from my mother years later, thankfully restored most everything we’d done and took it to the glory of its era.  The only thing we did right, was the exterior paint scheme (New England barn red with deep forest green trim), which my mom chose, and which remains on the house today.

Today, sans chocolate pig.

I thanked them for the tour and for not tearing down the house and for not changing the original structure in any way that would detract from it’s design.  It is beautiful.  You should have been there.

On a foodie note,  I went into Bellevue Uwajimaya shopping for the ingredients for my family’s Sunday night favorite, Hot-pot with Chinese Barbeque Sauce and was shocked to find someone actually making fresh takoyaki.  I decided that such a rare find around here was worth going-off my gluten-free diet, so I took my order home and didn’t share it with anyone.  Not a soul. It was delicious.

Before I left with my takoyaki order, I grilled the guy making it, who told me he is going to different locations in the area to introduce people to takoyaki and, hopefully, open a takoyaki place someday.  I made my argument for takoyaki in Seattle, telling him that with the popularity of sushi in the Seattle area, people are ready for takoyaki and okonomiyaki and that the time had come to make them available.   If you are interested in finding out about where Shin and his team will making takoyaki next, please visit Tako Kyuuban for more information.

Latest Activity

Knitting:  Wandering the Moor shawl

Yarn:  Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine. Had to unwind the pull-skein I’d made of it and ball it up because it kept getting tangled.

eBay Purchase: I think I got a bigger kick knowing that it came from a small town practically at the northernmost tip of Scotland.

Movie:  Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides (3-D).  I actually liked this more than #2 and #3 Pirates movies. My knitting companion was Wandering the Moor. Why is it I always take dark knitting projects to work on in a movie theater?

Internet Find:  London Fruit & Herb Company Green Tea & Blackcurrant.  Love this stuff!  I first bought this tea in Canada and had been meting it out carefully over 4 years until I found it available at Mark T. Wendell Tea Company.

Eating:  Gluten-free pão de queijo (pronounced something like “pow d’ kayju”) from the local Brazilian espresso/soccer-viewing joint.  I’ve been gluten-free for about 3 months now and this cheesy tapioca bread has become my guilty pleasure, and it’s “guilty” because I’m also allergic to dairy, but no where near as much as I am to wheat. Recently discovered I’m also allergic to potatoes, corn and chocolate, but I ignore those allergies for obvious reasons.  I’ll get around to trying to bake my own once I get over my funk.

Happiness: My new bright red Fermob (I think it’s pronounced sort of like, “fayr-moe”) French bistro table and chairs; even on a dark rainy day they bring me joy.

Favorite Sight: Mount Rainier from Interstate 90 floating bridge in Seattle (I wasn’t driving).

Smelling: Lilacs at the kitchen window.

Planning: A quick trip to Los Angeles for a cousin’s June wedding.

Switcheroo

I’m making progress on Jacob’s Delight, but not as quickly as I’d hoped. Time is at a premium, and these days knitting time is shrinking.

Soon after starting with Lamb’s Pride, I just couldn’t stand how bright it looked, so I made my latest change to the color scheme, swapping-out the orange (Lamb’s Pride Autumn Harvest) for Lamb’s Pride Bittersweet and I sighed a sigh of relief. I just can’t fathom walking around in something that is really bright, you know? I mean it was looking downright collegiate, and I don’t want to play favorites. I could hear myself say, “These two colors together look like University of Washington colors and these two together look like University of Michigan colors, and…” I just couldn’t stand it. It doesn’t matter what college I went to, or whatever, I just didn’t want to feel like a walking sports booster. I’ve seen enough of that stuff in my years of work with a collegiate licensing department and I just don’t want to go there in my knitting. So, out went the orange and in went Bittersweet to tone it down.

Before the switch.

After the switch.

Rather than ripping back what I’d done, I just removed the offending orange and replaced the now vacant stitches with the new color using an embroidery needle.  I’m sure there’s some technical term for doing this out there, and if you know what it is, let me know.

This whole issue of bright colors wouldn’t be a problem if Lamb’s Pride were produced in more natural colors, like more heathers and such, because I like the yarn, but I just want a better range of colors to choose from. Anyway, now I feel better, and I think I can live with my color choices pretty well…although there is that bright yellow I’d like to tone down….

I’ve been having fun lately in my real life.  Let’s see…. Sunday we got a fraud notice on our primary charge card, so we shut it down.   Monday I discovered a sizable puncture to one of my car’s tires; it was so big that when I got out of the car I could hear it blowing out and by the time my daughter and I made it to a tire repair place (4 miles away) the tire was completely flat and we missed her Kindermusik class, to boot.  Today in downtown Seattle, Pioneer Square, without my handy VISA credit card (because of fraud) I found that paying for parking was practically impossible, plus I had only $10 on me in the form of two $5 bills, so I couldn’t even use a city parking machine; I finally found a manned garage that would take my American Express and arrived for my appointment 30-minutes late, but not before my open purse flopped out of the open car door at one point and into a 2″-deep disgustingly black puddle of God-knows-what kind of city skum in a Pioneer Square street (I wiped it down with anti-bacteria wipes), losing only a stick of lipstick.

On the plus side, after my appointment I followed the lunchtime crowd to Hole in the Wall BBQ on James between 2nd and 3rd and had a nice bowl of chili to make up for all the nastiness.

Happy Ending

What a week! This week I discovered that I’m allergic to something in bloom around our house, probably a tree, and I’ve never considered myself a person afflicted with seasonal allergies before. Teary eyes, sneezing, and a nose so drippy I couldn’t keep enough tissues around me to keep up with it. By Tuesday afternoon I got my hands on an homeopathic remedy and things have been improving ever since, and by Wednesday I was actually able to put mascara on again.

Last night, in celebration of my sister-in-law’s birthday, my mother and I met her at La Taberna Del Alabardero in Seattle for an evening of Spanish food and flamenco. However, not before arriving an hour late because we live across Lake Washington, east of Seattle, and I made the unfortunate choice of the wrong bridge, and chose the one with the even more unfortunate car-flipped-onto-its-roof which meant that all lanes of traffic were down to one. The evening ended well with a wonderful performance of authentic flamenco and singing by the Jesus Montoya Flamenco Company, despite a being served a very poor example of Spanish food by La Taberna.

Any unpleasantness this week was vastly improved by the sale at So Much Yarn in Seattle, conveniently located near Pike Place Market. Yes, I broke my yarn diet, but all because I fell hard for a skein of Pagewood Farm Yukon Hand Dyed Sock Yarn in Harvest colorway. I spotted this one skein the week before the sale and kept dreaming about it all week long. Being the first customer at the sale, I was relieved to find my one skein exactly where I’d left it during my previous visit.

The other deal-breaker for me was the 3 skeins of Dream in Color Classy (worsted) in Gothic Rose colorway. I dreamed about it almost as much as I dreamed of the Yukon yarn, and, yes, I dreamed in color.

And since I was off the wagon, I added 2 skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in a warm golden brown.

Oh! I was so bad today… What’s knitter to do?

Non-progress happening here.

Well, I actually do have something finished to report on.

Ribbed Chameleon II

During our very briskly cold December past, my son got to wear my Ribbed Chameleon I scarf and soon started to lay claim to it. It became clear that I would have to make him one.  It turned out the yarn was on sale at Village Yarn & Tea, so there weren’t a whole lot of color choices in Karabella Chameleon, but I chose a blue/yellow combo. The whole thing was knitted up in a matter of a few car rides and he’s quite pleased with it and insists on wearing it even in the mildest of weather.

Details
Pattern: Ribbed Mini-Scarf by Celeste Glassel
Yarn: Karabella Chameleon, colorway 3214 (one skein)
Needles: 4.0 mm/US 6

On the “non-progress” front—

Grand Duchess is in limbo until I can figure out how many stitches I dropped, and even a life line isn’t much help.  For such an undertaking I need about 2-3 hours of uninterrupted time during the day.  Now, where am I going to get that?  Here’s a thought that crosses my mind when I knit this:  mohair and lace are two words that probably should never be mentioned in the same sentence and, therefore, should never even enter anyone’s mind for a knitting project.

Nantucket Jacket is currently stalling for time, because I’m now almost back to where I frogged it the first time when I decided the size I originally chose would be too big. Now I’m trying to determine where to incorporate extra stitches for the bust in the smaller size without making huge changes to the stitch pattern.  If it weren’t for the sizing issue, this would breeze along, but I find it very refreshing to knit, and I particularly like knowing that I’m using stash yarn as I work on it.

Bird’s Eye Shawl is back out of hibernation because I went to a concert at Benaroya Hall last Monday to hear the amazing violinist Julia Fischer play with Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (what a wondrous match-up that is).  I really wanted to take something with me, so Birds Eye happily volunteered itself for the mission.  And good choice it was, as it made a perfect concert companion.  Since then I’ve been enjoying it’s companionship in car rides or during occasional quiet times in the afternoon while my son plays with his toys.  I know it well enough now that I’ve become pretty good at fixing it without ripping out one single row when I make a mistake.  I just wish it didn’t take so long to make one row.

Matcha Market Bag, for those of you wondering, is in hibernation until spring.  After all, it’s really another lace project and I truly love lace, but at this time in my busy life, lace is probably the last thing I should be knitting.

Rib Knitted Shrug is also in hibernation, and at this point, may never see the light of day again.

Purple Autumn, of which I have not said much, is also hibernating.  It’s a sweet little project, but how many lace projects does one need to make at the same time?

Big news:  for my belated Christmas/every-other-2008-gift my husband gave me a Nikon D300 DSLR and it arrived this week.  The crazy thing is, I’ve been using a simple point-and-shoot all along, and I feel like I’ve been driving a minivan and have been put behind the wheel of a Maserati and can’t even figure out where the ignition is.  It’ll probably be a while before you see any product of this camera, but while wandering around 1st Avenue in downtown Seattle in the sun today with all the tourists, I kept looking at different things to photograph and I am delighted with the possibilities.