Unto you this day, a knitter is born.

I taught a friend of Dani’s (now a friend of mine) to knit a few weeks ago and sent him on his way with the promise that we’d get together again soon.  Well one thing led to another and the next thing I knew it had been weeks since I met Koty and yet I was hearing that he was turning up all over town with knitting in his hands.  He’d even taken a few spins on the drop spindle.  Tonight we decided that as he began his first sock, it was time to bestow upon him a great gift to recognize his transition from a knitter to a Knitter:  A set of Addi turbo-clicks.  I had an extra set and decided to give it to him, as I’d never find anyone worthier.  Welcome to the family, Koty!

And lo and behold, the angels did sing again and smile upon the land as Mike, another friend of ours, has begun the journey in earnest.  He had done some knitting before but never felt the tug that the rest of us feel toward knitting.  This week he has blossomed and has stopped worrying that every stitch is not perfect.  He has learned to get those stitches moving and he’s making some great progress.  I think we have another Knitter on the horizon.  He’s definitely getting into the knitter stage.  (I knew the alpaca would get him!  W00t!)

France, je t’aime!

Well here I am in France again and loving every minute of it.  I keep meaning to do a blog in French but I rarely blog on this one so . . . maybe one day.

I’m going back to Les Petits Points Parisiens.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  If it’s anything like it was the last time I was there, I’m sure I’ll love every second of time spent there and will buy mucho yarn.  I mean, beaucoup de yarn, of course!

Stop the Presses!! Paris Yarn Store with Sofa!!

I just got back to my room in Paris after visiting Petits Points Parisiens.  (24 rue Véron in Montmartre – Metro Abbesses)  Wow.  Finally.

THIS is it. I finally found a yarn store in Paris that welcomes knitters and crocheters to come and sit a while. It’s something we often expect in the USA but it is no doubt difficult to do in Paris where space is at a premium and where the concept is rather new. The woman in charge today fills in occasionally and was there today because of the Créations Savoir-Faire expo in town. The owner was at the expo and was thoughtful enough to ask an English friend, Ellen, to keep the shop open for her.

It is a very welcoming shop with many choices of yarn not easily found outside Europe. The skeins I bought were from a co-op in the Alps. Of course they have Cascade 220 and other yarns as well as hand-dyed yarns from Europe and Canada. It’s not a big selection but it’s nice. (I’m always on the lookout for souvenir yarn.)

It was nice to find a shop in Paris where I could sit and knit for a while. They have coffee, many teas, and juice available and a restroom if needed. The shop is also guy-friendly. (Believe it or not, not every shop is.) I hope to go back soon and meet the actual owner, Anne.

(L’il Weasel is also excellent but does not have seating.)

There was no compensation from the shop for this blog entry.  No llamas were harmed but some sheep were annoyed.

UFO Socks

Okay. I said I’d never let my knitting become like my crocheting. I’d never have more than one or two projects going at a time. I’m sorry. If you’re all finished laughing and collapsing on the floor with cramps in your abs, you can sit up and take an ibuprofen for the laughter headache you just got.

So now I’m getting out all the socks I’ve let jam up the knitting queue and finishing them. I don’t suppose it’s Second Sock Syndrome because in most cases I’ve either not finished the first sock or I’ve already started the second sock.

Socks currently in active stitch mode

Socks currently in active stitch mode

I figure I’ll be better able to concentrate on the Master Hand-Knitting Program from TKGA if I have a few UFOs cleared out of the pipeline and I can burn through socks pretty quickly most of the time. Wish me luck!

(And while we’re at it, I really need to watch my mouth and STOP PROMISING SWEATERS TO PEOPLE!)

1st Annual Tenntucky Knitting Retreat

The 1st Annual Tenntucky retreat was great! It was very well-organized and there were a lot of great people there. I just wish I hadn’t pooped out on people in the late afternoons.

I actually fell asleep around 5pm on Saturday and didn’t wake up until early Sunday morning. Sometimes working nights can be a real pain. I get jet lag from NOT traveling. Sleeping at night doesn’t keep me from being sleepy in the daytime on my off time. So I missed some really fun activities but my sister, Kelly, attended them and had a blast.

In any case, it was a great retreat and the Lake Barkley Lodge was as close to perfect as you could hope for. The staff was friendly and helpful and the rooms weren’t too far away. Each room has a balcony facing the lake and it felt like we were in a private cabin rather than in a large row of rooms.

Kelly and I decided to run over to The Land Between the Lakes just to say we’d been there. Kelly had trouble with the hat she was working on so I stopped at a stop sign at one of the park exits. Folks were curious about the fat guy in the Prius who was sitting in the driver’s seat, knitting frantically. Hey, an emergency is an emergency! I kept expecting one of them to slow down and ask if we were okay.

-Yes, I think I’ve got this. She missed a couple of increases but I think I’m getting it evened out correctly.
-Okay, sir. Let me know if you need a knitting ambulance! Have a good day!

If there were such a thing as a knitting ambulance, it might look like this.

If there were such a thing as a knitting ambulance, it might look like this.

In a knitting emergency, it helps to find a state park entrance so that you're out of the main traffic area.

In a knitting emergency, it helps to find a state park entrance so that you’re out of the main traffic area.

TKGA/CGOA Knit and Crochet Show in Indianapolis

Wow.  This was one of the two best things I’ve done besides learning to knit in the first place.  The first of the two was attending men’s knitting retreats.  The second is attending this show/convention/conference.  I joined TKGA (The Knitting Guild Association) about a year ago.  I’d already been a member of CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) for a while but had never been active in it.

I joined TKGA right after learning about it from Charles Gandy, a master knitter I met at the first annual Men’s Southeast Knitting Retreat.  He had just  finished the Master Knitter Program with TKGA and told us all about it at the retreat.  He’s a true southern gentleman as well as an excellent knitter and designer.  His book on socks breaks out of the usual dull sock paradigm.  (Not that I think knitting any kind of sock is dull.)  Gandy’s sock book takes socks as art to a new level.  Check it out!

So finally in August of 2012 I signed up for the Master Knitter Program myself.  It’s not very expensive and there is no time limit.  The TKGA website is FULL of great articles and help and there is a Ravelry group available for knitters to help each other figure things out.  But nothing compares to being able to sit and talk with as well as be taught by members of the review committee.  None of the committee members receive compensation for reviewing the work of candidates but here they were the first day of the TKGA conference holding an all-day “Day with the Masters” program.  And help us, they did!

Genesis Chaper One, verses 1 to pi

In 1984 I was 19 years old and had flunked out of Indiana University due to a lack of interest on my part in any one field of study.  Okay, I guess it was a lack of interest in showing up for class.  I had a freshman composition class that I didn’t show up for until the fourth week and then tried to cram all my papers into the TA’s mailbox at the end of the semester.   She didn’t seem to be very understanding about my strange bout of “strep throat” that lasted most of the semester.  When I said I didn’t show up until the fourth week, I mean that I only showed up once.  It wasn’t so much strep throat as “I’m a dumbass 18-year-old.”

I look up and see that my being 19 in 1984 makes me middle-aged going-on old.  1984 is the new 1954.  If I just now had read the sentence, “In 1954 I was 19 years old,” I would think, “Wow.  That guy is old!  He must be at least 40 something by now!” It’s so hard to accept that it’s 2013.

Okay.  Let’s begin again with the ADHD turned down just a tad.  In 1984 I flunked out of IU and had no idea what I wanted to do with myself.  I knew I wanted to give college another try but I also knew that when the time came, I’d better be ready to give it my all and have a plan of action.  I got a job at a Wendy’s in Southern Indiana and worked there all of 8 weeks.  I figured when I got used to smelling like beef fat all the time it was time to look for something else.  At 19, the idea that perhaps I’d better find a new job before quitting my current one didn’t hit home.  So I moved in with my favorite cousin, Karen, and leeched off her and her husband for a while.  Well, I suppose it was symbiotic rather than parasitic.  But we became good friends (especially after getting over having a nasty fight which resulted in my moving out) and she taught me to crochet.

I’d always been fascinated at the idea of taking some string and a stick or two and making clothing.  It seemed like magic and I assumed it would take ten days just to see anything other than a chain of knots emerge.  Karen taught me how to make the ubiquitous Granny Square and then sew them together into an afghan.  A short time later I just started crocheting around my finger and ended up doing it to all four main fingers before joining them and finding myself crocheting a glove just by using what she’d taught me.  I didn’t have a pattern and wouldn’t have known how to read one if I did.  I was just having a blast.

As the years went by I did learn to read patterns and made doilies as well as stuffed animals.  Back then, we didn’t have any funny Japanese names for these things.  They were toys.  Dolls.  Animals.  I made many afghans and crocheted baby blankets for both of my sisters for their first born.  (To be shared by second born, etc.)  I even got ambitious and started a crocheted bedspread made from “crochet cotton.” One giant doily for the bed. Woohoo!  I fished it out of storage recently and was surprised that I had completed two and a half rows of it lengthwise.  I did a lot more on it than I’d remembered.

Eventually after going back to school for a theatre degree and then giving myself academic whiplash by turning a quick 180 degrees and switching to pharmacy, I graduated from Purdue University in 1993 with a BS in pharmacy.  I had time to crochet again and took it up from time to time.  I had a few unfinished items along with experiments that didn’t go well but I was having fun.  In 2001 I found myself living in Jeffersonville, Indiana after a stint in Seattle, Washington with Walgreens and I was finally a home owner.  It was time to start crocheting some afghans!

I’m not usually a fan of big-box stores but I didn’t know where else to go for yarn.  I bought some cheap acrylic like a lot of crocheters but noticed that the quality in the new century had greatly improved.  I was beginning to get curious about yarn.  To me, it had always just been that colorful thickish string that I used for afghans, toys, and the occasional misshapen sweater.  I had no idea it came in different weights and I thought “worsted” was some kind of jacket.  I began my detour into a new land at the tender young age of 44 when that big-box store in Jeffersonville stopped selling yarn in 2009.

No yarn in Jeffersonville.  Did I really have to go to the OTHER big-box store over in Clarksville?  The one that starts with a W and ends with most of its employees having to scrounge for health insurance?  Well that’s just what I did at first.  Then one day I typed “yarn Jeffersonville Indiana” into some unknown web search site that rhymes with “moogle” and saw two words pop up that I never expected to see together. Grinny Possum.

What the heck is a Grinny Possum?  Why is it capitalized?  Wait. . . yarn store?  A store that sells yarn?  For real?  Who’d be crazy enough to open a store that sells yarn?  Visions of Red Heart (no offense, I do like that yarn) and Lion Brand acrylic (ditto!) went round and round in my head.  Who’d open a store just to sell that?  How could they compete with the big boxes?

LYS.  Local Yarn Store.  Oh, it’s a phrase that warms the heart now that I’ve “become.” But at the time it just sounded silly.  I had to check this place out.  I went to the website and was instantly amazed.  It seemed like it wasn’t just a store, it was a kind of club too.  The more I read the more I realized it was almost like a church where the religion is making stuff from yarn.  Okay, perhaps not so much a religion as a nice big family.  I have to admit that at first I was a little intimidated.  Would I measure up to these people?  They seemed to be focused on knitting and while I’d always had a secret wish to learn to knit, I was steadfastly loyal to the art of crochet.  I’d just have to go to the shop and see for myself.  Okay, once I look at the Grinny Possum website four or five more times and put it off a bit, I’m going right downtown and check this place out!