Black Dog

Just a little outpost on the web for me to ramble, post pix, share ideas, and be a part of the crowd.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Life as Art and as Inspiration

Matt has recently talked of inspiration and motivation and how he's recently become highly energized when it comes to designing and related tasks. That is not what my title today is to imply. I'm not overly creative, in my opinion. He argues to the contrary, but I don't alter my view of myself easily.

This shot of my knitting basket

pretty much sums up my life right now. Happy, covered in yarn, but a jumbled mess of 400 things competing for my attention, all with impending deadlines. I'm fine with that, as I work well in a chaotic state. Between personal things, work at the shop (we've been supremely busy of late, between foot traffic and mail order along with the LARGE influx of new product for the upcoming fall/wintere season), and getting knitting done (shop models for the upcoming Yarn Tasting event as well as some for a preferred vendor), it's been a wacky few weeks.

My biggest surprise this week was actually getting to see my best friend in the world, Paul S.---formerly of Atlanta, now moving back to Baltimore (he's been maintaining two residences, thanks to work). We met when I lived in Atlanta back a few years, became close friends and pretty inseparable (much to Matt's dismay at times...suffice to say that when Paul and I run around together, I'm a little more wild than normal).

Well, Paul is finishing up the renovation on his six-floor home in Baltimore (some day I gotta go see this), and he is using quite a few period pieces around his home, in conjunction with the decorating services of another friend of ours in Atlanta we lovingly call "Mother Robert" (because he is often the voice of reason for so many of us, and he worries too!). Paul was recently successful in securing a bullseye mirror from the early 1800s that coincidentally was from an estate just north of Detroit. He flew up on Thursday, picked up the mirror in person, rented a car and drove over to Lansing that evening, and then took off for home/Baltimore around 2:30 a.m. today (he was driving through, so as to arrive by 1 p.m., when the rental vehicle was to be returned. While it was great to see him, it was too short of a visit for not having been around eachother for the past five years. We had some fun, there was a little bit of being off color (HOORAY!), and we made plans to get together again soon.

The funniest part of the weekend for me was when he brought that mirror into my home for safe keeping while he was in town. It's lovely (tho very much not my taste) and he was explaining it to me. There are four candleholders near the bottom, and he said that each would have a crystal bobeche on the bottom. Immediately, I had to add..."I'm sure that's would be perfect....and I don't even know what a bobeche is". Paul filled me in, but as he was talking, it just struck me as funny....Crystal Bobesch would be the perfect drag name for Paul (this is all thanks to Franklin, who had a funny entry recently on drag queens, which has amazingly hilarious comments to go with. Now Paul is the furthest thing from a drag queen, and we all know he'd never do drag. But the running joke for me this weekend was that his new persona is Crystal Bobesch, of the Hamtramack Bobesches. And it makes me laugh. To me, Bobesch sounds like an Eastern European name, possibly Polish, and the Hamtramack area of Detriot was where the Poles settled years ago (the neighborhood is slightly different of late). But I can picture how someone would pull off the "Crystal Bobesch as drag queen thing"--big blonde teased hair, a shiny black handbag, tight capri pants, a loud flower print top, and then .... depending on the weather...windy would bring a babushka tied around her hair, or rain maybe one of those very well-folded plastic (accordian-type) head coverings with a chin strap tie. Damn, I just described most of my aunts on both sides of the family. We're not Polish, but we hail from all around Poland (being Lithuanian, Czech, and German) and that's how they dress....

There has been a little bit of knitting since we last met up here Monday, when I showed the flash of finished hoodie. The back is completed on the Torino cardi

and I'm just a couple rows from the armhole decreases on the first front

and yes, the theme of today's photos is "Dog As Still Life", which Connor has NO trouble carrying out. This project is my "non-thinking knitting" project right now, as the pattern is a four-row repeat that's ultra simple, so it is great for the car, for the bank, for waiting at the post office, or even to bring in while waiting for food to arrive at a restaurant.

Speaking of Connor (and Tate, too!), here's a fun shot from last evening, when I was snapping some photos

Tate is obviously doing well, and Connor had a good visit at the vet on Tuesday, even if they didn't diagnose a whole lot right now. Mostly things were ruled out, and they were scarey things, so we're all quite happy for now. Thanks to eveyone out there who e-mailed or commented with well wishes for my big girl. She's much more chipper since the visit, so we're being positive about the visit.

We've had a ton of product roll in of late, including the shade of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed that I needed for the "H" in my Weasley sweater

That's all the further I got when I put the project down because I didn't have the contrasting color for the H that goes on the front (the back is already completed). We've been doing a good bit of knitting out of "Charmed Knits" in these parts, especially with the movie debuting last weekend and the book being releasted this weekend. And yes, Miss Connor modeling again...

I've not made much progress on my second custom-knitting project for the Unique Kolours, the US Colinette distributor

At least the swatch is completed and I have the cast on done. Now to set the pattern for the welt (it's a combination of cables and ribbing), which gives way to plain stockinette for the body of the garment. It has great promise to be quite beautiful and I can't wait to see it completed.

We got some new sock yarn in over the past couple days. Yesterday was our bi-weekly Twisted delivery

that contained the following lovelies

which is Giggles in both Ariel and Kabam!; Regiment in Ariel, Kabam!, and Duchess; and Mayem in Ariel and Kabam! Also in this delivery

That's Guardian in both Ariel and Kabam!, Sherwood in Ariel and Duchess, and Flair (a brand-new colourway for her) in Ariel, Kabam!, and Duchess. I also included a sock, made with Sherwood, so you can see how this beautiful yarn knits up, as while it is hand dyed, it does make a stripe pattern that's uniquely beautiful and unlike anything else available commercially. Each skein is $27 and specs on the yarns are:

  • Ariel--fingering/sock weight, 480 yards, 100% superwash merino

  • Kabam!--heavy fingering/light sport, 400 yards, bamboo/superwash merino/nylon blend

  • Duchess--dk-weight, 240 yards, 100% superwash merino

    Most of the delivery in each color is Ariel, with only a skein or two in the Kabam! or Duchess in each color. Hurry up and contact the shop (toll free at 866-939-BEAR or e-mail us) and anyone here can make sure you get exactly what you need.

    Speaking of socks, my design project now has a very real deadline. Our monthly sock group at the shop meets this coming Monday (the fourth Monday of every month) and I'm supposed to have one or two designs ready for them to go with the special yarn that we ordered (each month we try to have something special for them--a new yarn they get first, some unique pattern or technique they get for free, etc.), and this month we have a brand-new yarn making a debut

    That's the delivery, which landed on Friday (yesterday) from Utah. Here's some close up

    and even more

    very savvy readers out there will recognize this as Sleeping Dragon yarns, a wonderful hand-painted 100% superwash merino from the talented hands of Karen York. Best of all--I have every single shade in stock right now, at just $20 a hank. Mwahahahaha. We'll be shipping it out as of Tuesday morning (after the sock group gets first dibs on some), but if you're interested in any, be in touch (toll free at 866-939-BEAR or e-mail us) and we'll take pre-orders to be processed Monday night at close of business.

    My design(s).....floundering a little bit, on my own accord

    because I haven't knitted on it at all in over two weeks. I have enough completed that I can write up a pattern in confidence and have it ready for Monday evening (maybe even both patterns--we'll see). I just want to have a completed sock there, as well, but we'll see on that.

    I also have a couple garment designs rumblin' around in my head, but they'll have to wait for now, as I have all of the above-mentioned projects to complete PLUS a few others, too (I'll share pix of them soon). We're in full-steam-ahead mode for Yarn Tasting, there's other events in the near future (Annie Modesitt arrives on the first of August for workshops...WE LOVE ANNIE!), and the weather has been delightful of late (evenings on the back deck are calling me..even if the river level is being lowered for repair work on the dams, causing the banks to become exposed--and they REEK right now!).

    I'm outta here for now--time to go work for a change today. See you soon, I'll be back shortly, and in the mean in touch!

  • Monday, July 16, 2007

    Fait Accompli

    Time's short--I teach in about 2 minutes, but here's the completed and seamed hoodie!

    Blocking commences in the morning, after Connor goes to the vet at 10:30 for her water retention issues...again. Good thoughts, people--she's no spring chicken!

    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    All Done!

    As of last night, around 10:30 p.m. Sleeve #2 is bound off and I did the hood during my "Socks on Two Circs" class at the shop yesterday.

    While it may look like a four-armed octopus, those are really sleeves and sides waiting to be assembled by one of my two finishing services. I would expect the completed garment to be ready for debut on Monday, if not sooner. Look for it here!

    I'm gonna go knit--I've got another Iona sweater to start (a cute cable-ribbed cardi) and that now-semi-forgotten Torino cardi (from last week).