Sunday, October 30, 2011


Hey all,

I'm just popping in here to let you know that I decided to move to a new blog.  The ClumsyKnitter name just hasn't been working for me for a while and I figured it was time to make the change.  I changed my Ravelry name and my email address too, but you can still reach me at the old email.

I will be posting at from now on.  Please join me!  I have some exciting news and updates to share over the next few days. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big News!!!

I think I have mentioned once or twice on my blog that I have been unemployed for a while.  The frustrating thing about finishing a degree just in time for the recession is that I have a lot of education but no practical experience within my new field.  These days (and for several years now), you pretty much need to have five years of experience AND a job just to get a new one. 

I had an interview at (yet another) job placement service last week and I got grilled pretty heavily on my two year "gap" between 2008-2010.  They wanted to know what I had been doing during that time ("So, you just weren't working?") and how they were supposed to explain it to the companies they were hiring for ("I don't's going to be tough to explain this away...").  I had to sit there and calmly explain to them that I had just finished an advanced degree in a very particular field, that I had also moved to a brand new city where I had no industry or personal contacts at a time when no one could get a job.  What I really wanted to do was scream at the woman to get a clue, and tell her to go shove her slightly-above-minimum-wage-job.  But...I needed to get into her system as a backup, in case my other interview of the day didn't pan out.

But it turns out I needn't have worried.  I interviewed at a company that same day, and got a job offer the very next evening.  The woman who interviewed me called me from her home to offer me the position.  I am so thrilled!  Sure, it means less knitting time, and I have to cut out my weekday shifts at the yarn shop so I'm back to Saturdays only, and now I can't continue taking my Tuesday morning sewing class, but...I got a job!  Honestly, it's just entry level and the pay is not that great, but it's in the industry I would like to work in and it's a foot in the door.  I start tomorrow so I'll let you know how it goes after I've been there for a week or so.

I still haven't heard back from little Ms. Holier-Than-Thou at the job placement service.  Her loss. ;-)

Lake Tahoe!!!

OK, this post is a bit late but I've been busy since I got back from out of town.  More on that next time.  For now, I just wanted to squish in a post about the day trip The Brain and I took while we were in Reno.

 On Thursday, our last full day in Reno, The Brain decided to blow off the conference (nothing much was relevant to his work that day) and the two of us drove down to Lake Tahoe to take in the scenery.  I had never been before, and all I knew about the area beforehand was that it was beautiful, and that a lot of wealthy people have cabins there.

The reality is that it is beautiful, but those aren't cabins.  The homes built along the sides of this lake are enormous and impressive and honestly, more house than one really needs.  I mean, I grew up in a family of 12 kids and I'm pretty sure there would be enough space for all of us and then some.

One of the fun parts of the day was all the snow.  Big, fluffy, sticky snow was falling all day.  One of the main roads into the lake was blocked off and we had to take an alternate route.  I'm really glad we got new tires put on the car a few weeks ago because I would not have felt very safe on the mountain passages with the old ones. 

It was a very quiet day, partly because it was the middle of the week and partly because the weather was colder than expected.  We drove all the way around the lake, stopping at scenic viewpoints to pop out of the car and nab a few shots and then pop back in to warm up again.  My camera ran out of batteries so most of the shots were taken with my iPhone (and honestly, you can't really tell the difference).

So here you go: a few peaceful shots of a beautiful trip.  It really made me wish I could snuggle up in a cabin near the shores of Lake Tahoe on a misty winter day like this, knitting and sipping hot chocolate.  Hey Peter, maybe we can make a trip one of these years?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


As I mentioned yesterday, I am out of town.  Reno, NV to be exact.  The Brain helped organize a conference for smarties and I tagged along for the ride. 

First impressions: Reno is a LOT smaller than I thought it would be!  I'll admit to being amusingly unaware of what most cities are really like.  Before I moved to California, for instance, I thought everyone out here spoke like a surfer dude and was passionate about recycling.  Before I moved to Pittsburgh, I was warned that no one out there used infinitives.  A kindly, older coworker spent weeks coaching me on how to interpret things like, "The car needs warshed".  (I was not at all prepared for "yinz" though.  Nobody warns you about "yinz".)

You can understand, then, when I tell you that I blithely set off for Reno fully expecting it to be a slightly smaller version of Las Vegas.  You know, because gambling = smokey casinos and flashing lights.  And heck, I basically expect any city that I have heard of to be large and make an impression.  Reno, however, is so far outside my expectations and I am pleasantly surprised by that.

Here is the view from my hotel window:  Mountains!  Clouds!  So pretty!

OK, here's the unedited version complete with parking lots and a highway.  But still!  Look at all that open space without tall buildings and giant malls!  There's an airport around there somewhere, too.  It's really just so peaceful and quiet and pretty...I really like Reno. :)

Knowing that I would be left to my own devices while The Brain was whooping it up with all of his electrophoresis and spectroscopy buddies, I came armed with knitting.  A lot of knitting.

From L to R:

Seven golf club socks that need to be shortened.  This is a commissioned project from a customer at my LYS who wants the cuffs shortened to fit into his new golf bag better.  The originals were knitted flat by machine and then seamed up so I'm not exactly in a hurry to get cracking on these...

The pile of blue Berroco Vintage is for a Sleeping Baby's Castle Blanket.  I figured I could get started on it when I finished all my other projects after just one day. (Yeah, right.)

Next to that is a pile of pink and white yarn for a sample knit I was hired to do.  I'm still waiting on the pattern, but I brought the yarn with me just in case.

The ball of blue/green in the front is some Knitters Brewing Company Sock-aholic in Jungle Juice that I'm using for Kitman Figueroa's latest KAL.  I just started last night and I'm loving the color already.  I'm only 6 rows in so the jury's still out on the pattern but I fully expect to be happy with that, too. ;-)

And finally, I have one completed Bridge of Roses sock and am ready to cast on for the next.  This is a kit I bought from Knitters Brewing Co. at VKL and I think it's fabulous!  The colors are wonderful and I like the challenge of the design.  I still have a few more roses to embroider and then I can start Sock #2.

And as if I don't have enough yarn crammed into my hotel room, I went shopping on Monday!  Jimmy Beans Wool is located right here in Reno so I couldn't pass up the chance to visit them.  I saved some of my money from VKL because I was sure I could find what I was looking for at JBW and I was not disappointed:

I was on the hunt for some dk weight yarn to go with the Rust-colored Shibui Silk Cloud I have in my stash.  I want to make a Sheer Beauty swirl jacket and I was able to find exactly the right shade of MadelineTosh DK to go with it!  (You can see the Shibui at the top of the photo, and the MadTosh underneath it.  The colors are more vibrant in real life but my hotel room is kind of like a cave at the moment.)

I also found a new lace yarn from Juniper Moon Farm.  Findley is 50/50 merino/silk and comes in 800 yards per ball!  I picked up two balls because I'm thinking of designing something with them.  I love the colors they had available. :)  And finally, I picked up two more project bags, some darning needles, and some gift tags for sewing onto your knits.  Not a bad trip: I found exactly what I was looking for, and I came away with some other useful goodies as well.

One more note about expectations.  I know Jimmy Beans Wool by reputation.  I subscribe to their newsletter and I have placed online orders from them in the past.  (Fewer now that I work at an LYS, but I always appreciated their quick shipping and excellent customer service.)  I knew that they had recently moved into a larger space so of course I was expecting some kind of Webs-like warehouse.  Imagine my surprise (and delight, I must admit) to find that their storefront is actually quite small.  And there is a COW PASTURE across the street!  (Really, my mind just about blew at that one.  First Reno is smaller than expected, then Jimmy Beans is not the giant megastore I had imagined, but to see cows across the street?!?  Too funny.)  Granted, most of their business is done online so they kept a majority of their stock in the back, but I really liked the atmosphere.  It was just like any other normal LYS (in fact, it was one third to one fourth the size of the one I work at) and the woman working there was just charming.  When I lamented that I could only find one skein of the color of MadTosh I was looking for, she immediately brightened and said that they only put out one skein of each color and that they had 10 more in the back.  Then she went into the back and brought out all 10 skeins so I could choose which ones I wanted!  I could see through a window behind her to a second room where two women were sitting at computers processing online orders (I presume).  And when I tweeted about stopping into the shop yesterday, I immediately got a friendly response from them.  How cool is that?!?  All of my interactions with this company have been wonderful, and I highly recommend them to others.  In fact, I may just make another trip back there tomorrow. :)

That's all for now.  I hope everyone is having a week that is just as pleasant as mine has been. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

FO Tour

I was hoping to get back to the blog sooner but I've been so busy lately that some days I don't even turn on my computer.  I'm out of town for a while now (more on that tomorrow, hopefully) so how about a drive-by FO post?  I had a whole bunch of projects without FO photos on Ravelry, so last week I made a list, dragged my tripod out to my deck, and did my best to get some shots done.  Here they are!

Pattern: Belle Nuit by Sivia Harding
Yarn: Curious Creek Fibers Meru
Notes: This was the final installment of the Year of Lace club.  I replaced the blue beads with ones that more closely matched the color of the yarn.
Pattern: Daybreak by Stephen West
Yarn: Crystal Palace Mini Mochi and ONLine Linie 33 Cosmo
Notes: Large enough to be warm but soft enough to bundle around my neck.

Pattern: Koukla by Hilary Smith Callis
Yarn: Aslan Trends Invernal
Notes: It still needs buttons, but it always takes me a while to get around to those. :-/  Love the finishing details (hems, pockets, folded down collar).
Pattern: Laccaria by Norah Gaughan
Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton
Notes: A simple knit with some interesting front details.
Pattern: Striped Snowball Blanket by Sirdar
Yarn: Sirdar Baby Snowball
Notes: This yarn was an impulse purchase one day at work.  It was quick and easy but kind of annoying to work with.  The end result though is a blanket that feels like a cloud; super soft and snuggly...on one side.  The other side is a web of nylon cording and not too pleasant.  The ends were also a pain to finish because they had to be sewn down with a needle and thread.
Pattern: Sweet Jazz by Samantha Roshak
Yarn: Ella Rae Lace Merino
Notes: Quick and easy lace shawlette.  I really like the elongated crescent shape.  It's easy to wear as a scarf or a shawlette.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

VKL Was AWESOME! True Story

Whew!  It's been a while since I've caught up with the blog.  Sorry!  I've been inordinately busy the past couple of weeks and I haven't had time to read blogs, either.  Expect a slew of comments on old posts sometime soon.

I'll do a catch-up post on my own stuff, but this post is all about the FABULOUS time I had at Vogue Knitting Live on Friday!!!

As some of you may recall, I had been waffling about whether to make the trek up to LA or not, but after a won a free class of my choice from a blog tour I was SO IN!!!  I quickly signed up for a custom knitting design class from Josh Bennett on Friday afternoon and then waited patiently for several weeks for the event to arrive.

Let me tell you: it was SO WORTH IT.  Here's the skinny:

The Class
The program told me that my class was being held in Classroom 511.  So...up on the 5th floor of the hotel.  I thought it was a little odd that they had groups of classrooms on the upper floors of the hotel, but I headed up to find it.  Boy did I feel like a hick when I realized that it was just a hotel room with the bed removed!  (DUH!)  They had set up four skinny tables for the 10 students, leaving a tiny sliver of room in the front for Josh to do his thing.  It ended up being quite lovely though because it was much more casual this way.  No one had trouble seeing or hearing what was being demonstrated, and we all felt comfortable introducing ourselves and asking questions.

 Josh Bennett is a WONDERFUL teacher.  He took us through all the steps of designing a sweater.  I mean, we actually designed an entire sweater in class!  He had worksheets with typical sweater instructions written out, with blanks for the stitch or row counts, and another sheet with the equations needed to figure out the correct numbers.  We took the measurements of a volunteer and used those numbers to fill in the blanks in our worksheets.  Along the way, Josh gave examples, answered questions, told stories, and showed samples.  I was excited to see that he had brought in samples of most of his sweaters, and tear sheets of his other designs.  He was kind enough to stay behind after class and answer more questions and even agreed to take a picture with me.  He totally demystified sleeve cap shaping for me and I was able to apply what I learned to the sweater I'm modifying for my brother.  Score!!!

The Marketplace
I wasn't sure what to expect from the marketplace going in.  I had looked over the list of vendors and most of them seemed to be other LYSes in SoCal, not a bunch of indie dyers like you seem to find at larger venues like Stitches or Rhinebeck.  I also knew that all of the fashion shows, book signings, and prize drawings were happening on Saturday and Sunday so I would miss out on those.  But this was my first knitting event, so I was still excited to go.

It turned out to be fantastic fun!  My first stop was to see Michelle Miller of Fickle Knitter Design.  She had her own booth with samples and copies of her first book, Leaves: Fickle Knitter Design, Volume 1.  I have been reading Michelle's blog for years now and I love her designs, especially her one-skein shawlettes.  It was super cool to finally meet her in person and have her sign my copy of the book.  She even gave me a fun tote bag to carry the rest of my marketplace purchases.  Thanks, Michelle!

My next stop was RedFish Dyeworks, right around the corner from Fickle Knitter.  Holy cow, people!  The colors!  I don't think I have ever seen so many beautiful colors on such beautiful yarns, arranged in a perfect rainbow of glittering skeins.  Every time I picked up one gorgeous skein, I traded it for the one right next to it, and so on and so on.  Eventually I settled on the three skeins shown here.  I am so glad they have a website I can order from because I'm already kicking myself for not getting more.  I had been saving up my yarn money for a couple of months, so I splurged on some luxuries: The purple skein is 400 yds of a silk/cashmere blend, the gold skein is 800yds of a silk/camel blend, and the variegated skein in the center is 450 yds of 100% silk.  For people who like knitting lace, this stuff is to die for, and very reasonably priced.

After that, I headed over to the Knitters Brewing Co. booth.  They have some fabulous hand-dyed sock yarn, gorgeous patterns and kits, and a really fun podcast called Yarn on Tap that I highly recommend checking out.  I may even have agreed to be interviewed for an upcoming episode!  I had a lot of fun hanging out with Wendy, Kelie, and Rebecca.  We swapped Rav names and I even got a super special handmade stitch marker from Kelie, along with a Sockaholic tattoo!  So much fun.  They promised to come down to San Diego to visit me at the shop soon, so I'm looking forward to that.

Of course I had to take advantage of being able to scope out their lovely sock yarn in person.  I picked up a fabulous Bridge of Roses sock kit in the Greyhound colorway.  I didn't even realize until just now that it includes a cute little stitch marker!  How awesome is that?!?  But why stop at just one kit?  I also picked up a skein of their Sockaholic sock yarn in the Jungle Juice colorway, and now I'm kicking myself for not getting two.  It would be perfect for the Kitman Figueroa mystery KAL I signed up for!  I'll just have to place another order with them and maybe pick up some more Chia Goo needles as well. The cables and tips on these needles are perfect for socks.

Other highlights of the marketplace included meeting Shannon Okey at the Cooperative Press/Bijou Basin booth, chatting with the folks at Namaste and letting them know how much I love their bags (I have several), seeing Amy Singer, Cookie A, and Vickie Howell (I shared an elevator with her and she said she liked my bag), meeting StevenBe of the Yarn Garage (all the way from my home town of Minneapolis!), checking out the carbon fiber needles at Blackthorn Needles, meeting Linda Morse of String from NYC (she wrote the book Luxury Knitting, which first introduced me to luxury fibers when I was a new knitter and didn't know what was "good" and what wasn't), lusting over the quiviut yarns at Windy Valley Muskox (Oh my god!  The samples!), sampling the new Lacey scent from Soak (loved it!), and generally just being with all of these other, happy knitters.  It was so much fun!

I drove home afterwards exhausted but happy, having met a lot of wonderful people both in my class (Hi Sandra and Amanda!) and in the marketplace (Hi Michelle, Wendy, Kelie and Rebecca!), and with new techniques, knowledge and yarn that all made me excited to knit some more.  Now that I've been bitten by the knitting convention bug, I'll be trying to make my way to more shows in the future.  It would be even more fun with some travel companions.  Interweave Knit Lab and Stitches West are right around the 'bout it, Peter?  Can you take a week off school??? ;-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ups and Downs

Here in Land of the Lost: The Polka Years, life continues with its ups and downs. 

Up: Not taking any classes this fall = saving money and more time to knit!

Up: Wrapping up work in the psychology research lab = more time to knit!

Down: No school = once again looking for a full-time job, without much success yet.  (If you happen to know of any market research firms in the San Diego area who are hiring right now, let me know, will ya?)

Up: More free time = more shifts at the yarn shop during the week. 

Up: More free time = going to the gym more.

Down: Going to the gym more = plantar fasciitis developing in both feet.

Up: Taking the (free!) sewing class this semester through the adult continuing ed program at the local community college. 

Up: Flexible schedule = tagging along with The Brain as he travels to conferences during the year.  Reno, Miami...I forget where else.  But it will be fun.  Plus, there is always more time for KNITTING!!! 

Up: Actual proof of knitting!  Here is the very end of a sample project (green) and the beginnings of a requested sweater for my brother (purple). 

Up: I am also putting together a magic loop class to teach at the yarn shop, so I'm working on writing up a simple hat pattern to use as a sample.

Up: New yarn!  Gorgeous merino/silk laceweight from The Woolen Rabbit yarn club.  I love the deep, rich blend of black and blue in the "Ink" colorway.  This is the second shipment of this new club and I have been 100% pleased so far.  I have been in a few other yarn clubs before and was supremely disappointed by them, but I love The Woolen Rabbit and the Shakespeare in Lace clubs.  I have to save up my sample knitting money to join them, but they are well worth it!