Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Prayer Shawl Blessing Ceremony!

Over six months ago I started a Prayer Shawl Group at my church, the United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz. Since then the group has come together every few weeks to create shawls and other prayerful objects to be given to people in our community to provide comfort to those in need. 

The first blessing ceremony for the shawls that my group has made took place Sunday June 26th. At the end of service the Pastor introduced the group, I gave a shpeal, and then he said the blessing while we held our shawls. It was nerve-wracking... public speaking always has an uncontrollable effect on me. I swear I'm shaking the minute I wake up on the mornings I have to talk in front of the congregation. But overall I think it went very well, my constituents are happy and it attracted some new attention, so I think I can judge the ceremony a success. 

The group is made up of about 12-14 ladies, some of whom have never knit before, some who used to knit, and a couple who don't need much direction on my part at all. I worked around their schedules and held meetings at various times, since there was half the group that would not be able to attend daytime meetings and the other half that could not attend evening ones. As a result I have gotten to spend a lot of more individualized time with each of the members.

This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know these members of the congregation, as well as work on my teaching of basic knitting skills. After having been the Sunday School teacher for three years, mostly everyone knows my name but in many cases that's all they know about me, so I am thankful to have an excuse to spend a good chunk of time with the adults. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Life is busy... and then you croak.

I'm aware (painfully aware) that the last time I really updated was before TNNA...

I had an amazing time while I was there. I'm so lucky that I was able to go, and that my travel was surprisingly easy. Every single one of my flights landed early, layovers were short, and of course I had plenty of knitting to do.

The hotel I stayed in the first night I was there was snazzy, and my accommodations at Sherry's house were quite cozy and stocked with good company.  I enjoyed the people I met and I left with an impression that all of the people involved in TNNA, as well as the general public of Columbus, are all incredibly nice.

The geese in Sherry's beautiful backyard were very nice... from afar. Her yard is HUGE and her house is nonchalant from the outside and gorgeous on the inside.

The weather... well it was weather. That snazzy hotel and their pricey parking garage made it so I didn't have to go outside at all when it looked like that! Hah! I will pay $12 for parking if it means I don't get my $12 flats wet, cuz those are not comfy while soggy.

Said snazzy hotel also had a lobby cafe and bar, open late, which provided a surprisingly satisfying meal. It certainly made being alone and nervous about tomorrow a little more tolerable. That, and Beatles on my ipod.

I met an awesome lady named Marcy Hamilton, who is a movie producer and knitting teacher from LA. She struck up a conversation with me the second I sat down next to her on the plane on the way there.
    "You're a knitter..!" She happily informed me as I sat down with one completed sweater in my arms and one halfway knitted sweater sticking out of my purse. I laughed and said yes; instant recognition and fast friendship. We chatted for the majority of the flight, I'm sure driving the man in the aisle seat completely nuts, and she taught me a few valuable tips about how to hold my yarn in a more effective way.

And what a teacher to have, she disclaims master knitter status, but she is responsible for the production of this beauty. A DVD of stitch demos with an interview with Barbara Walker. Marcy gave me a signed copy, and I have to say it's fabulous. I got her and her partner in crime sample skeins of Helen's yarn, I plugged her to the Interweave marketing rep who came by... felt like a huge networking win and hopefully they were just a sample of the wonderful people I will get to meet in this industry.

Before the show I was actually, really, honest-to-god, BORED. So much so that now I find myself referring to things in a before and after sense. Like, "before I went to Ohio I would have done xyz, but now I'm doing zyx."

Before TNNA, I knew I was interning for Helen but I had barely spoken with her yet so it felt as if I was on the outside looking in. There was a lot of time spent initially pouring over the website, trying to tell how I would be able to help her. Since I was able to meet her and help out in her booth at TNNA, my internship duties have exploded. For the past two weeks she has been cramming my brain with suggestions on building skills to become a professional designer, finding inspiration, and her need for marketing and administrative help. As I write this, there are people I should be calling and lists I should be updating. 

So despite the fact that I am just now writing this blog because my head has been in a flurry, I am enjoying this internship and I feel know I'm in the right place, finally. The year since graduation has been interesting, debating if I want to go to grad school or get a "real job" or... what. I think (I hope) I'm starting to get over my naivety about how to follow my dreams. There is no pre-determined path, everyone has a different story.

Definition of the "real world" as I see it now: nothing is defined or outlined for you... nothing is what public school prepares us for it to be. In the real world I can't bitch about other people's tardiness, but I can blame my tardiness on the frequency of their tardiness. That's how things work here in the real world. Nobody gives you detention for being late three times, and if you're good at your job you don't get fired either. In fact, showing up on time might mean you have to wait for your boss. I've been complaining about the electrician for months but I'm starting to understand the reason why he says he'll come at 10 and he shows up at 2:30: he lives in the real world.

A finished Vivian!

Pictures are worth lotsa words right? Well I hope it's obvious that I've got one happy camper of a best friend. 


I actually had a lot of unexpected fun putting in the zipper. I used Grumperina's tutorial, which I think was the one that Ysolda recommended. For one thing, it was a lot easier than I expected. Word-of-mouth on zippers had me thinking they were the bane of a knitters existence, with many people employing the help of their seamstress friends to do the finishing work for them.

Personally, I have no idea how someone could do that. I wasn't even gonna let my mother get her hands on this thing. Don't care that she's got the fancy sewing machine and a few decades of experience... that zipper was the cherry on top of my awesome project sundae and I am SO glad I just went for it and tackled it with confidence, because it came out swimmingly.

Of course, it is kind of silly to give someone the nicest, prettiest, most coveted, superwash merino on the market, and then go, "please don't put this in your washing machine, because then you'll probably be calling me to fix the zipper!"

Now in addition to working on the Cassis cardigan, I am swatching away for the next one that is a commission piece for a friend of my mom. Another Aran style, Vivian-esque with waist shaping that is incorporated into the big front cable.

I tried altering a cable from Melissa Leapman's Cables Untangled and wasn't very happy with it... so I ripped that sucker out. I've been to the library many times in the last couple weeks and my head is a sort of jumble of possible cable candidates right now. I have a tendency to not make up my mind until after a project is really in progress. This just means I seem crazy to my non-knitter spectators, because I always seem to be knitting and ripping out.

Lately it seems like I have an FO... like about as often as you see a UFO because hat designing has not been kind to my brain. If you look at my blog entry from back in May you'll see the hat I was trying to design... emphasis on the trying. It makes me crazy to not be able to just get a hat done in a few days, trying to make up a complex cable pattern for this one was biting off a bit more than I am capable of chewing... I think I need to stop trying to chart my cables with increases and decreases included BEFORE I knit it. I need to knit it and THEN chart it, and then knit it again to make sure the chart is right. I don't think I'm capable of knitting and charting at the same time even though I convinced myself it would work much better that way. What I do know is I can knit up a pretty damn good hat design fairly quickly if I don't think about it so hard, or spend the whole time telling myself not to let it get too complicated.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why I am suddenly Crazy in Love with Beyonce... TNNA... and beginning Cassis!

     Flash back to a few years ago and you would find my youtube viewing history to be mostly filled with independent music artists, the occasional hilarious house pet ('cause who doesn't watch those), and of course, the vlogbrothers.
     Today a snapshot of what I've been obsessively viewing through the tubes looks quite a bit more like what they would play if they actually played music videos on music television. I have been sucked into this poppy, sugarcoated, product placement riddled glitterland. Totally. Sucked. In.

     Of course, this forces me to comment on the reason (or one of the reasons) why they don't play these videos on TV: They can't.

     You flip over to MTV in the middle of Kanye West's "All of the Lights" and you happen to be an epileptic? Ouch. 

      Your twelve year old watches Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" and... "Mommy, why does she... how do... what does that mean?"

     Getting to my point, I'm pretty sure I can blame my obsession with Top 40 music videos on the rise of Lady Gaga, but more to the point, she's got me watching other people now. The way youtube is set up, it's far too easy to click over to Rhianna, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry... but the artist I have been obsessively watching the most lately has to be Beyonce.
     I never really gave her any credit in my own mind before she started working with Gaga. I remember vaguely liking the "Irreplaceable" video, which they did play on TV with some frequency, but what I didn't realize that this girl is actually way more than some flashy bimbo who got famous on daddy's dime. Destiny's Child was a long, looong time ago. Today's Beyonce... well let's just say, "Bootylicious" is now in the dictionary.

Short(ish) list of what I like about Beyonce:
-As far as I can tell, she's an excellent role model. Career, personal life, philanthropy... etc.
-She has a way of paying homage to other artists that I think is really effective.
-She's teamed up with the first lady to fight childhood obesity. New song "Move your Body" has a routine to dance along to... and I can't resist it, except for the high knees part. Leave that out.
-She always works it. Here's a diva that doesn't just lie on the couch.
-Uhh duh: her thighs.
-She is a real artist: She doesn't write the "music", but she writes lyrics, melodies, and comes up with a lot of her own concepts. And I think it shows. Just watch "Run the World" and be delightfully confused.

    Here is where I'm not sure if Gaga influenced Beyonce, vice versa, or it was just that one made me aware of the other. But they both make me happy because they meld fashion and music together and throw in awesome dance moves to top it offThe girl just has a natural talent for dancing; and a bod that is built by it and for it. But she probably slaves in the gym more than she dances. Sold her soul to the eliptical in exchange for that waist to hip ratio.
     Despite the coolness of Beyonce, she does lack one thing: Knitwear in her fashion line. House of Dereon would rather wear fur, poofy and denim jackets, and tracksuits. I've seen a couple sweater dresses... but I was expecting at least one or two tunics, maybe a boyfriend sweater. Maybe something asymmetrical or off the shoulder? Guess Beyonce isn't into the oversized, cowl-necky, drapey type garments. Or maybe there's just not enough skin revealed by a sweater for hip hop's taste. Or maybe Kimora Lee Simmons just already has that market cornered... I actually really like her cabled keyhole turtleneck.

     Now, because I actually did intend to give an update of knitting progress in this entry... 

     All of the knitting on Vivan is done! Now we just have to wait for the zipper to come in the mail. We wait impatiently. It should be done next week! Jamie's graduation ceremony is a week an a half away... so I really should get it done before I go to TNNA.
     Oh yeah! I'm going to TNNA next week! Pretty psyched about that. I get to attend and help out at the tradeshow because I am now an apprentice for Helen Hamann. I'm glad to be telecommuting and doing social media stuff, and really glad to be working for a real, experienced designer. Honestly, this is probably a much better fit for me than the first internship I picked. I really thought I would be ready to move anywhere for anything close to a job related to yarn... but I really don't know if I could even last a summer away from my amazing boyfriend, spent in a place where no one seemed to want to get to know me or let me help, and it's too hot to really knit, let alone wear a sweater.

     Helen seems like she has the need for the type of help I can give, and is willing to impart her knowledge and educate wannabe entrepreneurs. Both in knitting technique and fashion design. Probably what I will learn the most from her about is having a sound business model and excellence in customer service. I can already tell she has both of those.
     I bought one of her designs, the Fan-Like Pullover, at Stitches this year and still have yet to make it. I was thinking of making it in bright red for a while. The sample I saw was hot pink. But the pictures on the pattern sheet have a sample that is made in a very neutral color, which makes sense to me because it's an design with lots of positive ease. Off white or tan, 100% Alpaca.
     So, in debating what to use my Ravelry Red Malabrigo Rios for, I decided I had to go for a sweater that I think will be more wearable in that color. When I do make the Fan-Like Pullover I probably will not make it for myself with as much ease as this model is wearing it with, but I still want it to be a more neutral color, because the piece itself is stunning for the design and the fiber. Wearing it often will probably be more practical in a neutral color.

And the winning pattern for the Red Rios? Cassis, which comes from one of my soon-to-be-favorite designers, Thea Coleman. Not only are her designs adorable, but her blog is hilarious. Favorite quote, discussing a new design out of Shelter: "You guys will see it in a few months. (because nobody wants 1,000 yards of tweed on their lap in July, right?"
     My swatch visited the back patio planter box in order to catch the last natural light of the evening. Looks like a happy, washed swatch... I only decided to go down one more needle size after I made it. Loosest knitter ever, that's me.
     Cassis is coming along really quickly, it's come quite a bit farther since I took the bottom photo. I'm almost ready to separate the sleeves. I really liking this top down construction; planning on trying it on later today!