Happy New Year!! 2016 wrap up. 

I know its been an eternity since my last post, but hope the new year finds you in good spirits.The past several months have been a combination of procrastinating on posting & living life, so this post will be mostly pics, of some of the projects I made over the past year. 

I made this shawl as a birthday gift for a coworker about a year ago. Initially I had made a scarf for her, but noticed she always put on a jacket in the workroom when it got cold. Plus I had changed my mind about the scarf when I realized it matched one of my winter coats perfectly, lol. 

It fit around me pretty well so I was a little concerned it would smother my coworker, who’s a much smaller frame. But nevertheless she loved it, and wears it quite often. She’s waiting for me to bring in one for myself, so we’ll both be chilly together in the same room, lol. 

Made this clapotis scarf for my friend Nicky from D’Nali. It was my second time making a clapotis. I got a few frazzled nerves at a couple points when it came time to drop stitches. It makes for a nice scarf for the spring or if you’re in a room with too much air conditioning. 

This poncho I started during a family vacation to Cancun over the summer. It’s made from Rowan wool yarn I bought in bulk at a steal of a bargain from a local thrift store. It feels soft though the yarn sheds a little due to the mohair content. And because of the red color when I put it on I look like Little Red Riding Hood. 

I brought home a much smaller haul from this year’s Rhinebeck festival than in years past. My primary objective was to find the yarn winder which I got at a bargain, and the dryer balls, which I’d been hearing good things about and promised myself I’d switch to using when I finished my fabric softener. 

The yarn were just random finds. I focused on shopping for worsted weight this year since my current stash is overwhelmingly sock and dk weight yarn. The white yarn, I have no idea what I’m going to do with it yet. I bought it on impulse after slightly stalking a fellow customer inside the booth who had it in her hands contemplating buying it, hoping she’d change her mind and put it down. Which she did to my delight, lol. 

The blue yarn, which I’m currently using for my latest work in progress, is from one of my favorite vendors, Blue Moon Fibers, that was being sold at discount. I bought all 5 of the remaining skeins from their discount rack at huge discount. 

The last project is this hat & scarf set I finished just in time to start wearing when when the weather started getting cold. The yarn is from Freia that I bought from their discount bin at a past Vogue Knitting Live show. I don’t usually wear fuchsia & purple together but I think in this case, it works well. 

Yarn bombing

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Yarn bombing has finally come to NYC. I jumped off the bus on the way home from Macy’s just to take a photo of this tree in front of El Museo Del Barrio on the east side of Manhattan.

Holiday knitting

This post will be told mostly in pictures, but I’ve been busy mostly working on knitting & crocheting holiday gifts for the family.

My goal was not to shop at the mall & give all handmade gifts. I made that goal, but did have to buy a couple gifts online.

This year was all about the hat & scarf sets. I made a bunch. The only regret is that I didn’t get an earlier start, so I could enjoy more of the holiday season in peace.

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I crocheted this hat & scarf set for my coworker who said she liked pink. It was a quick crochet with puff stitches throughout. The hat turned out to be a little too big but she was able to adjust the size with a brooch pin.

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This set was made for my sister. The scarf is a knit pattern I found online but couldn’t find an equivalent knit pattern for the hat so I decided to go with the puff stitch hat in matching yarn.

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These two sets I made for my niece & another sister in their favorite colors. My sister was surprised to get a set in her favorite green color, when I reminded her she not so subtly hinted she wanted me to make her a hat & scarf. The blue scarf is a crochet pattern I found online, the green I randomly made up by alternating rows of single & double crochet stitch. I made puff stitch hats for both because I was getting short on time.

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For my nephew & brother in law, I knitter their hats & scarves in  fisherman’s rib. My nephew works for the MTA so I used the gray & blue colors to match the uniforms he has to wear to work. The brown & beige for my brother in law were just randomly chosen as nice colors for a man’s garment from the selection at Michael’s, lol.

Finished another scarf yesterday as well but will add that in a later post once it’s blocked & given to its recipient.

Rhinebeck 2015

Didn’t mean to wait this long but last week I made the annual trek upstate to what is officially known as the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool festival. But knitters, crocheter & yarn spinners everywhere know it simply as Rhinebeck.

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For the last few years it has been an annual pilgrimage for myself and Nicky from D’NALI. Nicky decided not to travel this year, I have missed encouraging her to splurge on yarn, wool and such.

Rather than ride the Amtrak alone, my family decided to make the trek upstate with me. So it’s my mom, sister, niece & 4 year old nephew loaded up in a huge truck rolling upstate for the 2 hour ride.

Since I’m the only knitter in the group & would be the one yarn shopping, I directed them to the food pavilion. Then made a beeline for the yarn shopping. I didn’t aim to buy too much since I still have a lot of stock left over from previous years & recently bought a bunch of yarn from Michael’s to make holiday gifts.

Always a bargain shopper, I did manage to find these great deals though.

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On the top is handspun yarn from one of my favorite vendors, Fessler’s Spinning & Weaving out of PA. I’ve managed to buy yarn from them almost every year without fail. What I love about them is not just their yarn, but for the price they give a lot of yardage. This time I bought 3 skeins of worsted weight eggplant purple yarn that will be a future shawl, maybe a sweater, not sure yet. I’ll decide when I’m ready to work with it.

The orange multicolor yarn I found in the discount bin from

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Fiber Arts. I didn’t mean to buy anymore sock yarn, but this was too nice to pass up for the price.

The pink yarn is from Rose Spring Farm, also out of PA. I bought on a whim simply because it looked so pretty. It’s worsted weight which is my favorite to knit with. The sellers offer a 10% discount on your next purchase when you bring your knitted project at the next fair they participate in along with their product label.

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The folks at Harrisville Designs, from New Hampshire were running a clearance sale on this yarn the entire weekend. By the time I found their booth, this was all that was left. Skeins were reduced to only $5 each. This was totally an impulse buy. I saw all those blue skeins & instantly thought there’s enough to make a sweater.

While my sister & niece fawned over the pastries in the food pavilion, I headed straight for the wines.

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The Cocoa Island & Wellesley Island White are favorites of mine from last year that I bought from Thousand Island Winery. I’m happy to report their wine is stocked at one of the local wine shops I frequent but not these varieties. Raspberry Isle is a new dessert wine flavor that literally tastes like raspberries, which I’ll definitely enjoy during the winter months.

If you’re there on sundays at the food pavilion, later in the day, vendors will begin to discount their prices to move produce on perishable items. I bought 3 large pastries for $12 when normally they sold for $7 each.

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Sis & niece claim they will return next year, for the pasties no doubt. The best part of going to Rhinebeck though, besides the yarn is to view the autumn leaves.

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Knitting Challenge

It all started when I heard about the warehouse sale at the local Save-A-Thon stores they have periodically every year.

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I’d been wanting to check out their warehouse sales in the past and never had a chance to go. For the first time I got the chance to go this year, and my primary intent was to check out their sewing machines and fabric, since I have a renewed interest in getting into sewing in addition to knitting. Where I’m gonna find the time to do both? I don’t know, I’ll work it out somehow, LOL.

I had no intention of going home with any yarn, but then my mom reminded me that one of my aunts, who briefly was into crocheting had expressed interest in me making a cowl or scarf for her when she saw me knitting a cowl for myself. So ok, while I’m here, I figure I’ll take advantage of the discounted yarn prices & see if I can find some yarn to make a project for her.

My plan was to make the scarf for my aunt as a Christmas gift. Yes, not even summer yet and I’m thinking about Christmas in June. But then this happened…..

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You’re looking at that picture & probably wondering what kind of shenanigans I’ve gotten into. Well, what had happened was…. somehow one aunt turned into 3 aunts, an uncle, a cousin, my two sisters, my brother in law, a niece, nephew, and my mom. I figure I’ll get a jumpstart on them since I’ve now committed myself to an iron man knitting challenge; doing 11 projects by Christmas. The upside of that at least is come this year’s holiday season, I’ll be cozy in my home sipping wine and knitting while you folks will be battling it out at WalMart like this woman on black friday:

And the sewing machine? Well I did see one I’m interested in buying, but found a better deal for it online. And bought some really pretty fabric too. But more about that in another post.

Pottery Class….The Results

I almost forgot to post about this. Been busy the last few weeks prepping for a cruise with the family that turned out to be a well needed vacation. In between, I got the email from La Mano pottery stating that the yarn bowl I made was finally ready for pick up. That episode almost turned out to be drama in itself.

I receive the email over the weekend, and made plans to head there the following tuesday. When I get to the studio, I tell the receptionist at the counter I’m here to pick up my pottery. I give her my name, and date of the class and she proceeds to search. She’s looking through all the bags of student projects stored on the shelves and she cannot find it. Another worker joins the search, they go to the back, downstairs in their basement. Still no pottery. My heart is slowly sinking. All kinds of wild thoughts are going through my head. What if it broke? Did they mistakenly give it to someone else? Twenty minutes I’m standing there and staff can’t find it. Finally she apologizes and tells me to follow up “Damien”, the staff member who emailed me to pick up my bowl in the first place.

I follow up later with a “dude, where’s my stuff?” email to Damien, he replies it’s been found. I return to the studio two days later. I encounter another receptionist and some different staff, which included the instructor I had for the course. In the midst of another 10-15 minutes of not knowing where it is again, the owner, a middle aged woman with a pleasant manner appears. She remembers my yarn bowl, remarking on it’s size. “It’s so big, students don’t usually make anything that large in the wheel throwing classes.” What can I say? The class was at half capacity being it was Easter Sunday, so there was extra clay to work with. She also recalled having worked on the finishing of the piece itself, noting she had to do repairs on the cylinder portion which had separated from the bottom.

After all that drama, they finally present my piece. I’m pleased with the way it came out for my first project. It’s got some sharp edges on the inside so it won’t work for practical use as a yarn bowl, but it’ll make for a nice display piece in my crafting room. They glazed it a cobalt blue. I’d have preferred a mix of colors or some accent colors, but students were not permitted choice in coloring.

And now, the pictures. So tell me, did I do a nice job or what?

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Pottery class part 2

A week ago I posted about the wheel thrown pottery class I went to at La Mano Pottery from a groupon deal.

On this Easter Sunday morning, I’m back again for the original pottery class I signed up for. A hand building pottery workshop that I also bought a groupon deal for.

This time it was a much smaller class so our instructor started us off with a tour of the studio. She took us downstairs into the area where finished pottery work done via the pottery wheel or hand built are dried, fired in their kilns and then glazed. Some of the finished pieces are the work of students who’ve taken workshop classes, others like the ones you see with the white tags are done by professional artists. Showing various shapes & designs, the students drew ideas & inspiration on what to make.

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We return to the class area and the instructor then begins to demonstrate how to cut & shape the clay, imprint designs, attach pieces together and seal any gaps. I came in with the idea of making a yarn bowl, then became concerned when the instructor said bowls were not very good to design with the flat clay because of the higher risk of the finished piece cracking while drying.

After speaking with the instructor about my concerns with making a yarn bowl, she suggested I do a cylindrical design as opposed to a bowl shape. (sigh of relief)

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All pieces start out with a flat slab of clay. The clay is quite moist, a newspaper is required under the slab to prevent it sticking to the table surface. With a trimming instrument smooth away any uneven surfaces, then depending on what your desired piece is, you will then cut & shape your clay into whatever the final piece will be. Any design you want on the finished piece can be stenciled on at this time.

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Lucky for me the class wasn’t full so there were extra slabs of clay to work with. Most yarn bowls I see on the market will hold small to medium size skeins of yarn. I wanted something that would hold one of those really huge skeins which I haven’t found anywhere. For that size, I needed an extra 1/2 slab of clay, which I cut and attached here. Originally I wanted a floral design on the outside but the imprint didn’t turn out well, so I went with this wicker basket design on the background.

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If you’ve ever baked any bread or pastries you’ll find those skills useful here. The piece was so huge when I seamed the edges together, the instructor had to roll out a new piece of clay for the bottom. I used a lazy susan to spin my piece around while sealing the sides & bottom together and then adding other decorations.

There was a letter & number stencil I tried using to carve out letters which didn’t work out. I went with slabs of clay with handwritten words “yarn” “knit” and “purl” and some hand drawn motifs of knitting needles and a basket of yarn to decorate.

The final step was carving out the sections for threading the yarn through. I’ve never had a yarn bowl and I wasn’t sure how deep to carve the openings, plus I was concerned about the bowl falling apart. I may or may not have carved the opening deep enough.

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Compared to the wheel throwing class I had, I’m proud of my result & I get to keep what I make this time. For a $15 fee, this masterpiece will be fired in their kilns and glazed with whatever color they happen to have in their stash at the time, we don’t get to choose. The end result will be smaller than what you see here due to the clay drying. Crossing my fingers for the next 6 weeks hoping the piece doesn’t crack.

Pottery class, part 1

I’ve thought off and on about getting one of these…

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I admire those yarn bowls, but most bowls made will only fit average size skeins of yarn & I haven’t been able to find a yarn bowl large enough to fit a skein with a lot of yardage. Then one day I’m browsing groupon and spot a deal for pottery class and suddenly I had dreams of creating my own yarn bowl from scratch.

So thanks to one of those groupon deals, I signed up for my first pottery class. It was only an introductory course but the thought of coming home with an original piece I made of my own I couldn’t resist.

Not knowing there were several types of pottery classes available, at first, I signed up for a hand thrown pottery class, then had trouble with scheduling because all the classes had been booked. While waiting for more classes to be scheduled, I then found another deal also on groupon for a wheel thrown pottery class at the same studio. I thought it was a good chance to compare the two methods & see which one I would prefer.

So on a warm late saturday afternoon I head downtown to La Mano Pottery in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, just around the corner from the world famous Fashion Institute of Technology. I arrived about 10 minutes early for the scheduled 6 PM class, and the guy at the reception counter instructed me to return at 6:00.

After a bit of window shopping, I come back and get set up for class. The environment is an open studio, with separate areas for individual students and artists to work on their crafts, as well as separate teaching areas for wheel throwing and hand throwing pottery. The studio offers introductory as well as multiple week courses for adults & children.

Classes are small with about 12-15 students, each sitting in front of individual potter’s wheels. I think clay artisans in the ancient days must have been mostly short in height because you’re sitting on a small folding stool that is relatively low to the ground. Someone who is tall may experience a little back pain after a while from the constant having to bend over the wheel.

But this is how you start. Each student is given a few balls of clay,a couple of tools to help shape the object you’re constructing, a bucket of water & a sponge.

starting with the potter's wheel

starting with the potter’s wheel

The instructor went through beginner techniques. How to shape the clay, center it on the wheel, spinning the wheel and manipulating the clay while on the wheel. There were a few mishaps during class. I and another student had to move to new wheels because the instructor found they were spinning in the wrong direction. The clay wouldn’t stay centered on the wheel. I couldn’t figure out the optimal speed for the wheel; either it was spinning too fast or too slow. One woman expressed she found it therapeutic just playing in the clay. Another student looked as if she had taken classes before, although claiming to the instructor it was her first time. She created one sculpture after another, while I struggled just to get basic techniques down.

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After several mishaps, I began to get a feel for the technique. I got the clay to open up as if to begin making a bowl or cylinder:

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Then it turned into this:

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And after a good deal of time had passed, I finally was able to create my first “masterpiece”. A miniature bowl. Too bad none of the pieces created during wheel throwing class could be saved. This would’ve made a fine ashtray, or maybe a shallow candy dish.

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After 2 hours, it was time to clean up the mess. A fun time was had by all. But unless I get a lot more practice, I think my dream of making my own yarn bowl might be deferred at this point. I have a second class in hand thrown pottery at the same studio the following week. Maybe I’ll have an easier time there.
Meanwhile I’ll leave you a video for one of the experts to show you how it’s supposed to be done.

Fashion Show

I never got around to uploading this video, but it’s a fashion show at Vogue Knitting Live I went to back in January. Some nice inspirational garments and accessories. Enjoy!

Vogue Knitting Live 2014

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Soon after I woke up, I looked out my apartment window and it was beginning to snow heavily. Normally I would call it a good day to stay in, curl up on the couch with some hot chocolate & knitting and watch a couple of movies. Instead I had plans of trekking out to the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square to attend this year’s Vogue Knitting Live.

I unfortunately waited too late to buy my ticket in advance online, which would’ve been slightly cheaper. But I found a coupon on KnitPick’s website for $10 off purchase of a two day marketplace admission ticket. I didn’t plan on attending both days but with the discount, the price would be the same as if I had bought the one day ticket online. When I got to the ticket booth, somehow the man behind the counter somehow misread the coupon because he only charged me $10 for admission. I’m not one to complain about an unexpected discount so I took my green wristband and kept it moving, LOL!

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I haven’t been to Vogue Knitting Live in about 3 years. The vendors are mostly local knitting shops & some yarn manufacturers. It’s not nearly as large or extensive as the annual Rhinebeck festival. It looks like they’ve expanded a bit over the past few years though, because this year the vendors were spread out on two floors. Even if you’re not into knitting, you could appreciate the gallery of sculptures from fiber artists displayed outside of the gallery.

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I already have a pretty substantial stash of yarn so I wasn’t really looking to stock up. I didn’t want to necessarily leave empty handed either, but it was going to take something spectacular to move me. And as usual, it’s a bargain deal.

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The 5 skeins in the middle are from Full Moon Farms in upstate Gardiner, NY. The woman at the booth had a trunk full of mill end skeins that normally sell for $25 but were reduced to $10 each. By the time I got there it was a small crowd around the trunk, so I had to put in some work going through the stash & competing with fellow shoppers to find enough skeins to make a project and came up with these. The vendor even took off an additional $5.00 for paying in cash. WIN!

The gray yarn in the bag is from Black Sheep and Ewe The two skeins included are enough to make a beautiful cowl they had on display I unfortunately did not get a picture of. I bought the bag mainly for the pattern, and to try out the new yarn, which the vendors say is good for folks who are sensitive to wool.

The pink yarn on the right is from Freia One of the stalls I was looking forward to checking out, because they have these fabulous hand painted yarn that variegates when knitted up as if you mixed the colors separately. These balls came from their discounted yarn bin. Don’t know what I’ll make with it yet. It’s sport weight yarn, so it will most likely be a shawl or cowl of some sort.

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