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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An Excellent Adventure

What a crazy few weeks it’s been. Where to start?

When I last posted, it was almost the end of August and Alex and I and the kids were off to the ocean for our summer vacation. Fast forward a few days with a rushed drive home from the ocean culminating in an emergency appendectomy (husband), in which we drove all the way back from our ocean trip straight to an hospital ER door. Follow that up with a last-minute, unplanned change of schools for our 7-year old (more on that some other time). Next was my trip to Los Angeles for Vogue Knitting LIVE! 2011 (more on that later, also). After that, I was home for 4 days before my husband and I flew to San Jose for a tour of the Tesla factory. Sometimes it’s just easier starting with the most recent thing first, so I’ll focus on the San Jose trip today, as well as some knitting..

So, Alex and I left the fall gloom of Seattle and landed in San Jose on a hot, sunny day—the sun felt so good. On our way to the hotel we happened upon a Japanese neighborhood festival and grabbed lunch. We had a hearty meal at Gombei.

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I had broiled mackerel—amazingly moist and buttery—with a side of cool tofu with green onion and bonito flakes, and Alex had soba noodles on a bed of ice cubes, which we found pleasantly refreshing on a hot day.

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Before we left the festival, I bought a beautiful pair of Big Sur blue jade earrings.

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Later that day, we left for the Tesla factory.

What is Tesla? I can’t possibly get all the facts right, but it’s a car company founded by Elon Musk, and is on the verge of changing the way we think about electric cars. Gone are the images of little puttering electric cars that drive about as fast as a golf cart and have a range that takes you not much further than the confines of your city.

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The sedan Tesla, Model S, will seat 7 people, will be completely electric, have enough charge to go up to 300 miles, and will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds. The current Tesla car, the Roadster, is a two-seat model, has a range of 245 miles, and accelerates 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.

20111013-171627.jpgElon Musk, addressing the crowd.

It was quite an event, and we were there with a couple thousand future Model S owners for the tour and a ride in the Model S. The final version of the Model S has not been made yet and will not be available until 12 months from now, so we rode in a beta model. The test ride was fast, and demonstrated it maneuverability, low center of gravity (due to the lithium batteries on the bottom of the chassis), and responsive acceleration by taking it up to 70 in a short closed track. It was fun.

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Knitting. I been using-up my stash of Zephyr 2/18 in black, making Kozue, and I thought I’d have enough for it, but I don’t. Having bought the yarn about 10 years ago, I couldn’t possibly match dye lots, so I bought some in a different shade, Claret. I decided that it would be best to add bands of Claret in various placed throughout the shawl. I’ve put a sizable band near the end of it, and now I’ll add a thinner band to the beginning by cutting into the earlier rows and picking-up stitches. Why do I always have to do things the hard way?

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I’m trying to roll with the fact that final Kozue isn’t going to look the way I’d hoped it would, and find that inner easy-going me that never was, and love the new look.

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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Hear that cracking sound?

That was the sound of my Western Washington amphibian-like skin cracking in the heat of the southern California sun over the weekend. Ahh, that felt nice….

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I’m back home today, but I was in LA for an extended weekend for a cousin’s wedding. I felt sorry for the souls I’d left behind back home, drowning in the cool, wet, soggy weather of the Pacific Northwest. Not really.

The newlyweds had a photo booth at the reception for guests to use as a memory book of their big day. Great idea.
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My mom was my traveling companion.

We met-up with Fluffbuff Francesca at Le Pain Quotidien in Manhattan Beach, and Ben was there too. I got to drool over Francesca’s latest swatch, done on really tiny needles. I wonder what my mother thinks of my curious life as a knit-blogger?

Of course, while there, I loaded-up on Le Pain’s answer to Nutella to take home.
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I did almost no knitting the entire trip, save for the continuing, long, drawn-out process of binding-off Bird’s Eye of domesticshorthair lore (I started it 4 years ago), and that was only worked on in flight, coming and going. If it weren’t for my visit with Francesca, I could have said that I did nothing knitting-related; I didn’t visit a yarn store, I didn’t fondle a random skein of yarn, and I didn’t even buy a Japanese knitting book at Sanseido Books during a stop at Mitsuwa in Torrance. However, I did finish Wandering The Moor before I left home.
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(sorry for the bad, away-from-home photo)

I like it, and I love the un-scalloped edge for being different. When I finished it, I thought I’d messed-up because it was so small, it looked like something for my 6-year old, but once I blocked it, it opened-up and became adult-size.

Details
Pattern: Wandering the Moor Shawl by Celeste Glassel
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine (just over a skein)
Needles: US 6/4.0 mm

Today I actually had really really good answer for a change when a cashier at the market asked me if I did anything fun over the weekend.
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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.

Birthday Escape, The Follow-Up

Here some of the few pictures I took during my two-night birthday getaway to Langley on Whidbey Island. The mornings were foggy and the days were sunny and delightfully mild.

Little did I know that the wi-fi in the place I stayed at was so sub-par, that I couldn’t post much more than I did the day I arrived.  In fact, it took all day to download a movie rental from iTunes (Four Weddings and a Funeral).  There was some knitting, and I had expected that that would be the primary focus of my time away, but I was thwarted by being unable to find the old sweater back home I was to frog for one new project, poorly calculated yarn purchase for another project, and a really bad case of indigestion (my birthday meal consisted of Tums, milk, cheese and crackers in my room).

I did visit the local yarn store, and succeeded in avoiding a reach for my wallet, which I now regret, because I want to support the locals. However, if you visit Langley, I highly recommend you check-out Knitty Purls; it’s a great little store jammed with all the temptations a yarny could ever want, including a nice selection of locally-spun yarn.

Located at the south end of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Langley is a great little town with a low-key pace, and activities there can be as active as kayaking or as mild as walking in and out of the shops.

Actually, just about any place you visit in Washington State has a low-key pace compared to some of the larger, more popular tourist destinations in the U.S.  This is probably because Washington isn’t high on the list of tourist destinations due to it’s lack of high-profile tourist venues and, since I think when people travel in the U.S. they think of New York City, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Alaska, Chicago, Las Vegas, Florida, Boston, Washington D.C., etc.  Tacking someplace out of the way like Washington State onto a trip to one of those places, with exception of maybe Alaska is a bit of a reach for most people’s vacation time and money.  We definitely get our share our tourism in Seattle proper, as any local will tell you when they try to find parking in downtown, but it’s not a mob scene that one often associates with other places, and the tourism in the outlying areas of the state is probably more in-state tourism, versus that consisting of tourists from the far-flung reaches of the world.  However, for those who do venture to Washington, and to locales such as Whidbey Island, you can expect a relaxing vacation, and one that doesn’t wear you out for your return to your everyday life back home.  For me, despite my bout with an upset stomach after two nights away, I returned relaxed and refreshed and felt like I’d been gone for a week.