Sunday, June 24, 2007

sometimes things are just as they seem

I needed a bit more than 200 yards of a heavy worsted yarn. I wound the various skeins that I thought were the same yarn into cakes and here's what I got:
Even though the darker ball is larger, it seemed lighter in weight, less dense. Guess what? It weighs more. A whole 1/10th of an ounce. It has more yardage. Suspense over.

I actually worried about the outcome of this drama.

I'll be away most of the week working with some very favorite clients. I even get to travel my favorite way to the job, by ferry boats instead of planes. I can knit on board for the trip. The larger skein is more yarn. Life is good.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

alpaca fan club meets now

To sum up, the friends & family, pizza truck & cupcakes were fabulous. Even the weather, which freaked us out by dumping a sudden storm an hour before the 100 guests arrived, was just perfect for the outdoor party. Roasted plum and carmelized onion pizza is genius. In case you were wondering. Thanks for the bday wishes! I still have a week to go, I am relatively youthful.

In real time, I've been on the road and back and gone for Shear Spirit and other projects. This will come to a screeching halt in July, when I'll be tethered to my computer, whining and whimpering, doing the production work.
But let us not dwell in the near future! Let us dwell in the near past when I went to New Mexico to photograph a big sprawling mountain top alpaca ranch.

I learned a long time ago not to have pre-set notions about my subjects.I figured here I was exempt. Northern New Mexico is one of my favorite locations so I thought it'd be all about the sense of place.
So Very Wrong. The land and setting were stunning but it was all about the people. I meet THE BEST people in my work.

This is a mother/daughter alpaca ranching team.

I discovered that alpaca are (arguably) the most lovable of the fiber animals. Sorry sheeps, I love ya but , the alpaca are so cute and friendly, you wonder if they are actually big cleverly disguised puppets. I mean, look at these two.
I wonder if Jim Henson met any alpaca before he got to work?

A further discovery: the more I visit fiber farms, the more I'm falling in love with natural, undyed fibers.skein I went through a long, hippy-girl naturals only knitting phase a while (OK a long while) ago. Then I learned that gray looks better on a sheep than it does on me, since then I gravitate to strong colors. At this ranch, about half of the yarn they sell is handspun, soft and beautiful and they keep track of which alpaca it came from. See the little tag ? This is all the more impressive if you know they have a couple hundred of the creatures on hand.

As I was leaving, the lovely generous rancher insisted I choose two skeins. I think I've mentioned how indecisive I am ? I was struck silly and under pressure to move fast, to make a 3 hour drive to the airport in less than 3 hours which you know isn't such a great idea even without the added pressur eof choosing luxury yarn. Idiotically I chose two entirely different skeins because I loved them each so much. Now back at sea-level I realize I have maybe 300 yards each of a rosey-brown and of a brown & white, a bit like the one above. Maybe mittens & a scarf that sort of go together? Its too warm to knit alpaca now so I'll let it ferment till the fall.

There was a spinning workshop going on too while I was there, and I met two cool spinning sisters, and a knitting cowboy designer, but I'm saving the rest for the book. Just a few months to go...

Monday, June 04, 2007

the upside of being a nervous flyer

A proud tale of what I learned enroute.
I am a nervous flyer. I wasn't always this way. Returning from vacation in August 2005,we flew through the edge of Hurricane Katrina. Nervous took on a whole new meaning. At the time I didn't make too big a deal. I was on a plane that bucked and fell thousands of feet a few times but in the end, my family was unharmed. Considering the folks on the ground below- what's a rough ride?

Ever since, I become a cartoon character as I walk through that boarding tunnel. If we hit so much as a pimple of turbulence: my heart sproings out of my chest on a coil, sweat spurts geyserlike from my palms. I make small choking noises and squirm. I am not fun to be near.

Turns out modern medicine has just the thing for me, so one pill per trip and presto change-o: I am calm, smile goofily and fall asleep while trying to knit cashmere lace. Cheerful indifference.

On my way to New Mexico a couple of weeks ago, having abandoned the lace project, I was approaching equanimity when I looked down at the needles and thought of the knitting maneuver that's eluded me since childhood: purling backwards. I try it once a year just in case I spontaneously develop the knack while I'm not paying attention.

So, up there feeling no worries, I thought, what's the big deal? I'll just put the yarn here, loop it around here...and walla. I am purling backwards.0607lrup_3 of 3
Maybe not with lightening speed but it makes knitting a long narrow tote bag strap more pleasant. Back, forth, back, forth. It was all I could do not to nudge the strangers on either side of me in 7a and 7c to share my joy.

I was going to link you to some places that show purling backwards - some call it knitting back- and to my surprise, ain't no one doing it just like me. I'm sure there are, they just didn't get a manicure and put it online. I knit in the combined method with the scooped purl, so my purl back is wrapped that way too, clockwise. (no, really, do go on, we need a chance to rest our eyes and dozeoff...)
Ok enough about me.I really want to tell you about the huge alpaca ranch up in the mountains of New Mexico where I bunked out for a few days. But not just now. Now let's talk about me and cupcakes.

We are having a great big party in a week . Dave and I and 3 of our closest friends are having the same big birthday in the same month. The five of us have been jawing about this for ten years, since our last round of big birthdays.
Unlike most of the stuff we jaw about for ten years, we took action. The main food is taken care of by this brilliance, The Big Green Pizza Truck. After gazillion emails planning a massive collaborative birthday cake creation (frighteningly, the group of 5 includes an architect, an artist , two photographers, and a massage therapist, we are so damn hands-on we can't help ourselves) we settled on having a cupcake tower, each of us baking up many crazy cupcakes. Then word leaked to my oldest dear friend, a restauranteur , and the call came . She will arrive with ALL of the cupcakes we could ever want. And then some.

If it was anyone other than her I'd say no, but her cupcakes taste better than you can imagine .cuppy Can you tell?
However. As a knitter, I can't help put have a moment of awe for the marzipan stockinette on these cupcakes. I wonder if you can purl back in confectionary materials?