Good-Bye, Borders

It was with a heavy heart that I heard last week about the local Borders stores closing, including the one that I’ve shopped at several times over the years since I moved up to the Valley. I’ve done large purchases for the library there, so large that they gave me a book truck to take around the store with me while I shopped. (Between that and my ID badge dangling from my lanyard, more than one person mistook me for an employee. One even followed me around, as if to make sure I really wasn’t just refusing to help her.) I’ve done little personal purchases there. K and I went there at least once while we were newly dating. It was one of the first places I took Lil Miss, all curled up in a borrowed baby sling. It’s where I took Lil Miss to pick out a book for herself last year, after we realized she had actually started reading. And it’s where I took Lil Miss (who has recently given up her afternoon nap) yesterday so K could have the house to herself and grade in peace.

Lil Miss picked out a Mo Willems book and a Peanuts bookmark for herself, and I nabbed a Toy Story 3 Sticker Book for her that looked really neat in the store, but turned out to be rather disappointing (for pretty much the reason in the reviews over there – the stickers don’t stick) and a United States map floor puzzle that K is excited to do with her once this round of grading is done.

And, of course, I perused the knitting section, which was nearly empty. Even most of the knitting magazines were gone.
Part of the Borders Haul

I think that issue of Vogue Knitting might have been the last one in the store. As best I could tell, the cross stitch magazines were long gone.

The line was long. We were probably in line at least 20 minutes, maybe 30. I had a nice chat with the lady behind us, who was also buying some knitting magazines. Lil Miss wandered from one display to another, standing books in the empty spots. (Can’t imagine where she gets that impulse from.)

It was one of those moments, really, that I wished Alison Bechdel was still doing a semi-monthly comic. I’d love to hear Mo and Jezanna on the fate of the local “Bounders” bookstore.

Take Two

Wednesday evening, I decided to give the group run another shot. I got there really early this time, because I wanted to check out some new shoes. After trying on a few different pairs, I ended up with a new pair of the same shoes I wore in. Go figure.

By the time I was finished shopping, runners were starting to arrive. I got to chatting with a few people, and then it was time to run. And, just like last week, by half a mile in, everyone was well ahead of me.

But it was okay, really. I know the route now, and it’s nice just to run different streets than I usually do. And afterward, there were free 32-ounce water bottles. Hooray for free stuff!

Happy Campers

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Family Camp. I spent some lovely summer weeks at Girl Scout Camp as a kid, sleeping in a mosquito-netting-swaddled cot inside a platform tent, eating questionable breakfast foods, and facing down packs of daddy longlegs in the oversized outhouses.

Seriously, I had a blast those summers, but those are the memories that have stuck with me.

Skylake turned out to be a great vacation. Our trip started with a long drive up the freeway. We stopped in Coarsegold, which was a little disappointing as a tourist attraction, though we did have a tasty steak dinner at the Grizzley Bear restaurant. We wanted to get some fudge from a little shop, but it was closed when we arrived Thursday afternoon and again when we drove back on Sunday. A board advertised businesses in nearby Oakhurst, including a yarn shop!

So Close!

Too bad it too was closed when we drove up on Thursday and again all day Sunday. Bummer.

The camp itself was beautiful, tucked away in the Sierras. Little Miss was absolutely thrilled with the horses:

Skylake Horses

And we could barely get her out of the (freezing cold!) water at the lakefront:

Duck on Bass Lake

There were campfires and songs and s’mores both Friday and Saturday night. The food was really good, well worth waiting in line for.

Food Line

The plumbing situation was a step up from my childhood summer camp. The showers were a lot like the showers in my college dorm, and there were actual flushing toilets and real sinks! Only the daddy longlegs spiders colonizing the corners reminded me that we really were at camp. Well, that, and the moonlit walk there from the cabin. With three people in a cabin meant to sleep eight, we had plenty of room. I enjoyed checking out the graffiti left by campers past:

Cabin Graffiti

There was a lot going on during the days, too. Campers over age 6 get a trail ride as part of the package, while the little kids get a chance to ride the horses around the ring. K and I skipped our rides in favor of getting Little Miss two ring ride sessions.  On Friday, kids could make sand candles (which I did at camp when I was a kid!) and plaster casts of their hands. Saturday, there was tie-dyeing. Unfortunately, we hadn’t thought to pack plain white t-shirts, so we skipped that activity.  There were ping-pong and foosball tables – Little Miss developed quite the nice ping-pong serve.  Just outside our cabin was a sand volleyball court that the kids spent hours digging up.  While Little Miss worked on a sand castle, I pulled out my knitting. I managed one round on the Lotus Blossom Tank before realizing that I just wasn’t going to be able to focus on a lace pattern while chatting with people. There was a young girl there who was going to take a knitting class sometime after camp. I would have taught her to knit then and there if her left hand hadn’t been wrapped in drying plaster at the time.

Several families had been coming to camp for a number of years and knew each other well. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, and mostly understanding of the three-year-old shouting early in the morning. After repeatedly saying she wanted to go home on Friday and Saturday, Little Miss didn’t want to get in the car to leave on Sunday. I’ll take that as a positive review.

More Books, No Reviews (Yet)

Lately, I’ve been spending many a lovely Sunday afternoon at my favorite LYS. Unwind has comfy chairs and friendly people, and it’s great place to be while K watches tv and Lil Miss naps.

But yesterday, I skipped over to Knitter’s Studio instead. For two reasons:

Yarnagogo and CrazyAuntPurl

Rachael and Laurie.

There were a dozen or so of us gathered in the back room of the store. It was cozy and friendly, and we had a blast. Rachael read from How to Knit a Love Song, Laurie read from Home is Where the Wine is, and we all knitted away a good couple of hours. And, of course, they took some pictures of us:

Yarnagogo and CrazyAuntPurl

They are both such clever and hilarious ladies, and together they were so much fun I’m not sure it was entirely legal.

Stitches West, Days 2 and 3

After collapsing on the hotel bed Friday night, I was up bright and early Saturday morning. I finally got that run in, and did a few rounds on a sock before venturing out.

I found my way to a Starbucks not far from the hotel. Freshly caffeinated, I was ready to tackle the Convention Center. I made my way to a nearly-full classroom for Sandi Rosner’s “Beyond the Rectangle”, a class on various shapings for shawls. My new favorite is the U-shaped shawl. And we made teeny-tiny Barbie-sized shawls to practice the increases.

Teeny-Tiny Barbie-size Shawls

The round one uses pinwheel-style YOs. I got a little overly creative with the bind-off.

During class, I got a call from home. “Our tax refund came, so if you want to spend a little extra in the Market, go for it!” So, I went in search of an ATM, then back to the Market for a few more goodies.

Abstract Fiber Arts, and a Button

I had already spent my Market budget before picking up the Knitmore Girls swag bag on Friday. In the bag was a coupon for $5 off at Abstract Fiber Arts. So, I headed straight to Abstract’s booth for a skein of their gorgeous Hepburn laceweight and some Targhee roving. I nabbed the purple button from the Button Lady – it’s for my Greenjeans sweater.

After wandering the Market, it was time for my afternoon class (so much for lunch!), so I dashed off to a classroom over in the hotel… only to discover that the class had been moved. To a ballroom near the Market.

I grabbed a seat. This was the spinning class with Merike Saarniit, and it was every bit as fantastic as I had hoped, despite my frustration with my attempts at spinning.


After class, I meandered through the Market again, tried spinning on a wheel at the Serendipity Spinners’ booth, and wandered outside, where I ran into one of the people who had been in the spinning class with me. She was waiting for a hotel shuttle that seemed like it was never going to arrive. It turned out that she was staying at the same hotel I was, so I gave her a ride back. We met up with some friends of hers and another Stitches Singleton they’d picked up along the way and went out for dinner.

And then, all too soon, it was Sunday. Time to pack up my goodies, check out, and head to my last class. It was Suitable Seams, the only class I’d had homework for. Judy Pascale showed us step-by-step how to seam stockinette, garter, ribbing, live stitches, bound-off stitches….

Suitable Seams Swatches

She also showed us a way to get that first stitch on the needle without a slip knot, making a nicer start to the cast-on row.

After class, it was time for me to head on home. I popped a CD of Neil Gaiman’s  Odd and the Frost Giants in and hit the freeway. Despite the traffic, I was home in time for a slightly late supper and to tuck Little Miss into bed.

Overall, I had a fantastic time at Stitches West. Can I register for next year yet?

Stitches West, Day One

Here was the plan: Wake up at 4:00 AM. Hit the road by 5:00. Reach Santa Clara Convention Center by 11:30. Get badge from the registration desk, ogle the pretty yarn in the Market, pop by Abstract’s booth for the Knitmore Girls Meet ‘n’ Greet, have lunch, enjoy first class, check in at hotel, hit the treadmill, have dinner, and go to bed.

I woke up at 3:00 AM. I considered going back to sleep, but I knew that I would just be groggy an hour later. So, I got up. I was in the car and on the road just before 4:00. It’s strange out there on the freeway at that hour. It was pretty much me and the truckers. And, since it was cloudy, it was very, very, very dark.

Around 6:00, I stopped for breakfast and a stretch. An hour later, I stopped again to top up the gas tank and get a bottle of soda. And then it was straight on through to Santa Clara. Well, except for the part where I got on the wrong freeway. Actually, it was the right freeway, but the wrong direction. It was okay – I got turned the right way within minutes. And spent the rest of the morning humming, “Do you know the way to San Jose?”

After two episodes of CogKnitive, one episode of Here’s to Ewe!, and four and a half episodes of the Knitmore Girls, I arrived at the Convention Center around 9:30. There was a crazy line for the Market Ticket booth. I found my way up to the registration table, where they inexplicably had one person working. One extremely patient person, I must say. I got my badge and headed back to the exhibit hall, arriving just a few minutes before the 10:00 opening.

And then I spent all my money.

I set myself a budget for the Market. I took it out in cash. When the cash was gone, I would be done. It took all of about an hour and a half. I browsed Blue Moon Fiber Arts, but didn’t find anything I absolutely had to have right away. I still have a $50 credit with them, which I’ll be using on the website sometime soon.

Next stop was Lisa Souza‘s booth. Two skeins of laceweight (2520 yards per skein, people. And fantastic colors.) and three bumps of roving hopped into my bag. Now I just need to learn to spin those.

I poked around quite a bit, getting turned around regularly. I eventually found my way to the booth shared by Little Red Bicycle and Femme Fatale Fibers. Really great colorways from both of those ladies! I picked up one skein of sock yarn from each, plus two packets of stitch markers from Lizard Toes. And then I stumbled into the Skaska Designs booth, where a skein of amethyst-colored merino/silk laceweight demanded to go home with me. I think it might grow up to be a Faux Russian Stole, or maybe Olga’s Indiski Shawl.

Stitches West Goodies

And that was that.  I had spent all my cash except for $8, and tomorrow’s spinning class has a $7 fee for materials. So, I headed for a table to eat my lunch… and discovered that I had left my canned chicken salad and crackers in my car. Whoops. I rested for a bit, then heard a familiar voice behind me asking, “Where’s my mother?” A glimpse of fuchsia curls, and I knew it was Jasmine. I got to meet Jasmine and Gigi, who are just as adorable in person as they sound on their podcast, and they were giving out goodie bags!

Knitmore Girls Goodies!

I can’t speak for anyone else, of course, but they couldn’t have picked better colors in that Regia for me if they’d tried.

After that, I went out to my car to drop off my goodies and retrieve my lunch, and then it was time for Tradition! with Candace Eisner-Strick, where I learned to make this:

Swatch from Tradition! Class

Check out those Latvian braids! Candace is a highly energetic, spirited, fun teacher, and class was a blast. I’m going to have to try that Channel Island cast-on for a pair of cuff-down socks sometime.

After class, I headed for the car and found my way to the hotel. Despite sending me a reservation confirmation email last week, they had lost my reservation. But they had a room open, and I had the print-out of my original reservation, which gave the room rate. Since the convention center’s Internet is not free, I was off-line all day, but my hotel has free wifi for guests, so I’ve been catching up on Facebook and Twitter and blogs (and finishing that episode of Knitmore Girls). Tomorrow is another full day, but at least I’m not planning for it to start at 3:00 AM.

At Least I Got *Something* Done

I finished off my homework for Stitches West while watching Big Love last night. That is some good television right there, I tell you. Although, a couple of weeks back, I thought there was an interesting compare/contrast thing developing with the young people on the Reservation turning to drugs and the “lost boys” of the UEB compound turning to crime, but it seems to have been dropped in favor of the insanity of La Familia Green.

I meant to get a few rows in on Mr. Greenjeans, but he just sat in my bag while I finished up the last three sets of swatches for Judy Pascale‘s Suitable Seams class. The swatches aren’t difficult in any way; I just seem to have some sort of issue with following instructions. It’s a good thing I didn’t have any homework for any of my other classes to do, too, is all I can say.

Once I finished my swatches, I went in search of a bag. Thanks to last year’s Tempted @ 3AM club shipments (and a few purchases on my own), I have a whole bunch of lovely project bags. One of the box-bags turned out to be just right for my swatches, the remainder of the ball of yarn, and the size US8 needles I used.

Stitches Homework

While I was at it, I cleared a languishing project out of another bag to make way for my drop spindle for Merike Saarniit‘s Spinning for Knitting class.

Spindle for Stitches Class

Here’s hoping I can spin something a little nicer after the class! I’m planning to visit Lisa Souza‘s booth for some of her gorgeous fibers, and I don’t want to end up having them sit around until I think I’m “good enough” to spin them. Franklin (you know Franklin, right?) took Merike’s class in 2006, and it sounds like it’s going to be absolutely fantastic. I’m hoping to get a chance to try a wheel sometime, too, either in that class or somewhere in the market.

I still need to pack up my bag of “Basics” (while looking for a bag for my swatches, I ran across the bag I bought in 2005 to carry my “Basics” to my first Stitches) as well as my clothes and such. Just a few more days!

Just Stitchin’

I still haven’t cast on for the third Zig Zag Diamonds sock. I have been knitting, but it’s one of the Sooper Seekrit projects that I can’t share yet.

I’ve also been reading my knitterly mailing list email, where I found out about the Stitch n Beach knitting cruise. It sounds fantastic, except for the fact that it departs from the east coast on Friday, February 26 – the same weekend as Stitches West. Think there’ll be one departing from Long Beach the same weekend as Stitches East?

In any case, I’ll be in Santa Clara that weekend, at my second-ever Stitches. (The first one was five years ago!) I signed up for four classes:

  • Tradition! with Candace Eisner-Strick
  • Beyond the Rectangle: Fun Shapes for Shawls and Wraps with Sandi Rosner
  • Spinning for Knitting with Merike Saarniit
  • Suitable Seams with Judy Pascale

I was heavily tempted by the Swedish North Halland Pullover class with Beth Brown-Reinsel, but I’m not staying through Sunday afternoon. I’m planning to drive up on Friday morning, and then back down on Sunday afternoon. The last time I went to Stitches, I did something similar, driving up early Thursday morning to make it to the Opening Day events. While I’m sad to miss the Market Preview on Thursday evening, it’s a fair trade-off for not paying for a third night in the hotel.

I am ridiculously excited about the whole thing. I’ve been catching up on back episodes of Cogknitive, and I just listened to her 4-part outtakes on her trip to last year’s event. I was still such a brand-new knitter the last time I went, and I didn’t have any knitting friends yet. Now, I’m looking forward to meeting people from Ravelry and podcasts and blogs. I can hardly wait.

Fair Day

The County Fair opened this weekend, and I made a trip over there this morning. Since I was by myself, I could spend lots of time poking around the Tapestry displays. I thought it would take some time to find my entry, but it was pinned up in a case right near the door.

My Sweater!

Looks like I got a Second Place ribbon, but I’m a little puzzled about the ribbons.  I hunted down the other entries in the Infant Handknit Sweater category.

Baby Sweater

Baby Sweater

Baby Sweater

All red ribbons, except one.

Baby Sweater - 1st Place

As always, I’m mystified by the entire arrangement of the Tapestry entries, but they seem to have had a display designer this year who was particularly unclear on the concept.  The knitted and crocheted afghans were almost all displayed folded up.


This looks like a lovely sampler afghan, but we get no idea what it looks like.


The tag on this one says something about a boat.


This is Eeyore.  I know this because it says so on the tag.

Cartoon Afghan

Mystery character!

Mysterious Afghan

Total mystery pattern.

Most of the afghans were on the floor of displays, under beautiful hanging quilts.

Next year, I’d like to enter some socks.  I knit socks more often than anything, but I always want to wear them right away! There were quite a few socks entered, and I’m not sure how many subcategories there were.

More Socks

I don’t know how they decided it would be a good idea to cover up the color on the cuffs and display the stockinette feet.


This looks like Embossed Leaves with some added embellishment on the cuffs.

Entrelac Socks (?)

Entrelac socks, I think.  I don’t know if that was a separate category or not.  I didn’t see any other entrelac socks, although there was a Lady Eleanor stole on display.



I think these are really neat.  And there has got to be a story behind these socks:

Odd Socks

There were also lots of adult and child sweaters on display, and some lovely shawls.  After much searching, I located the Best in Show for Hand Knit Clothing.  According to the tag, it was entered in the Shawls/Wraps category.

Best in Show - Hand Knit Clothing

I’m sure it’s fantastic.  It would have been nice to be able to see it.