Thursday, February 16, 2006

I'm Leavin On A Jet Plane...

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

Off tomorrow to Tokyo! I am so excited. We have a lot of cool stuff planned and a lot of time to just fill in cool stuff to do while we're there.
We're probably taking a day trip to Kamakura to see the Great Buddha statue:

We're staying close to the well known Tsukiji Fish Market, which looks really cool:

(Photos borrowed from Lonely Planet's website.)
We also plan on visiting a public bath, and of course, a huge craft/yarn store.
Thanks, Bridzie, for your help with that!

On the crochet front, I FINISHED MY 63 SQUARES!!!!!
Just the squares, still have to join them and do the border, but I'm so close! I'll have to finish it when I get back.

Ooh, I caught the tail end of a Smiley's sale last night and ordered Lion Brand Chenille Thick & Quick for $1.99 a skein!! Couldn't believe that, I think normal retail is $7.99 and I've had an eye out for it for a cool blanket Sue did around Christmas posted here on her blog from 48 Hour Afghans. It's made with an N hook too, hopefully it will go pretty quickly. The color selection was minimal so I went with Eucalyptus.

So it's final, I'm not taking any yarn work with me. But at least that way I'll do some reading.
I'm taking Hypocrite in a Poufy White Dress, Bell Jar, and Memoirs of a Geisha. Hopefully I can knock them all out and get to cross a few off my 50 books list, as I've not done as well as anticipated on that.

I'll leave you with this hilarious work story I heard today as I've laughed about it everytime it crossed my mind today.
Oh, in darker news, the Smart Guy who works Downstairs is leaving. We'll miss his smartness. He seriously knows about everything.
So I was talking to him this morning and he shared this story about a former Downstairs employee, who we'll call Don: Apparently, on Don's second day of the job there, he was apparently playing his music pretty loud and singing along (small space, everybody close together) so Smart Guy listened closer to what Don was blaring and it was Xanadu! Yes, Olivia Newton John's Xanadu. Another funny side note, for extra income, Don worked as a DJ!!! This is a, I don't know, 40-ish man! Jammin out to Xanadu at the office in front of everyone. Smart guy said he even had the imaginary mic action going on when he thought no one was really paying attention.
Okay, it was funnier in person and I think the humor totally didn't translate when I wrote it out.

I just have to leave you with this precious knitted gem from You Knit What?, one of my favorite blogs I look forward to checking every day. I haven't felt the urge to share until now...

Because nothing says I love you like a red-eyed
TV Static bear!

Hope everyone has a great week!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Yarn Store Reviews

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've been to a few yarn stores in the places where I've traveled recently on business and thought I'd share my thoughts on them.

This summer, I spent a week in Salt Lake City attending a chemical dependency seminar. I was astounded by how beautiful Salt Lake City was. But I also had to miss my 2nd anniversary, so my husband came up for the weekend and we hiked around the mountains. It was really beautiful, we had a great time. There was still a ton of snow on the ground and it was June!
I had a few hours the day my husband came in from the airport so I checked out a few local yarn stores.

Utah Stores:
The first was the Unraveled Sheep in Sandy (no website and wish I would have taken pics.) I spoke for a while with the owner, who was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. The store wasn't set up incredibly well, it just didn't seem really inviting and they had a pretty small selection, but if I lived closer I would definitely go back. They carried mostly the high-end basics, Berroco and Rowan and such, and had lots of books and patterns.
The owner actually saw the list of other local yarn stores I had written out and told me which ones she would recommend stopping by, I thought that was pretty cool.

My next stop was The Wool Cabin in SLC (also no website). This place was cool and earthy but a little too granola-y for me. I hadn't worked much with wool and, as the name indicates, that's mostly what they had. They were also huge on socks which I hadn't started yet so I didn't pay too much attention but they did have a huge selection of sock yarns. The store was very well laid out and it was very active and everyone there was very friendly.

I saved the best for last and stopped by Soul Spun Yarns in SLC next. This is absolutely my favorite yarn store. The owner wasn't even there, but the store had a very cool chic-but-not-snobby vibe that few stores have. There were tons of knitted and crocheted items, both from magazines and books and free patterns online, which I thought was really cool. There were a lot of cool yarns there that I hadn't seen before and they were all displayed really well. All the yarns, for the most part, were divided into color (check out the website, it shows the cool setup of the store and has a free pattern), which I thought was a cool approach that most stores don't use. And there was a bigger crochet emphasis than I have seen at any other local yarn shop. I would highly recommend stopping by if you're in the area, even if it's a bit of a drive I think it would be worth it. I really wish I lived closer.

I was in Norcross north of Atlanta on business last October. I didn't have much time and remembered how nasty Atlanta traffic was so I only checked out one store:
Why Knot Knit in Buckhead, GA. This was a neat little store, tucked in a loft in artsy Buckhead. I thought the store was set up really well. There was a table where a few ladies were sitting around knitting and the store was broken up into different sections. There were quite a few sample knitted items, which I always like to see. She also carried a lot of cool yarn lines I hadn't seen before, because we are seriously yarn deprived in Oklahoma, like Blue Sky Alpaca (picked up some Organic Cotton which I love love love) and Manos del Uruguay, which I also like a lot.
The owner was nice but scattered and wasn't extremely helpful. Overall, it was a great experience and I'd definitely go back.
Ooh, and if you're there you have to go to Basil's Mediteranean Cafe just down the street for dinner.

I was also just in the Portland, OR area in December but had no time for a yarn store visit. I heard that there are several cool ones, there, though. I heard from the locals that The Yarn Garden is cool and has a huge selection. I also heard that Mabel's Cafe and Knittery was a lot of fun.

And the local stores, which I am slowly discovering because they are few and far between in our seriously fiber deprived state. So far I've been to a whopping four stores, one of which just closed, and I'm not sure there are many more in the state...

Gourmet Yarn Company was one of the first local yarn stores I visited. It's a fun little store tucked in a sprawling shopping complex in north Oklahoma City. It's pretty spacious for a yarn store and doesn't carry a huge selection but they display what they carry pretty well and the staff is always super friendly and helpful and now knows me by name ('cause sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.) Cheesy, sorry. I learned to knit through classes there and had an absolutely awesome knitting teacher, Jeff (I think), who could not have been more patient and less condescending. They have monthly knit-ins and even knitting retreats, which I haven't yet been able to make. They also offer quite a few classes.

Carol's Knitting Studio (no website) is a new yarn store on the south side of Oklahoma City on Penn. south of 89th. I just love this little store! The owner, Carol, could not be any more friendly and is very good at entertaining husbands. She has scads of sock yarns and some cool stuff you don't see very often, like Buffalo yarn. There are a lot of handmade things to display the yarns they have and I hear they offer a lot of cool classes.

I finally got to visit Sealed With a Kiss in Guthrie, OK, about an hour north of Oklahoma City but entirely worth the drive. This is the largest yarn store I have been in next to The Woolie Ewe in Plano. It is very well laid out and the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. They offer a lot of great classes and fun knitty activities and have a huge selection of books and patterns.
Guthrie is a really neat town, too, it's fun just to walk around their downtown area. And there's a great resturaunt close by called Granny Had One that makes the best soul food around.

That's all for now, hopefully I'll be able to add more soon!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What's Going On...

Wow, it's been a while since I posted last.
Lots of updates...
First, the weekend before last I made it by our local yarn store, Luff Needlecrafts, which is about to go out of business, which I absolutely hate. It's actually the first time I had been in the store and I got to talk a while to the owner. I hate that we're losing it, she seemed really cool and it's the only yarn store I know of in my town.
But, everything left in the store was 60% off so I got some really cool bargains.
All these patterns were less than $2!

And I found some really cool yarns that I haven't used before. The fuscia one is Trina by Adrienne Vittadini (merino wool/microfiber/cashmere).
The tan one is 100% polyamid Boboli and the olive is Rowan cotton tape.
I have summer tops envisioned for all of them.
I wanted to do Tempting from and even gave it a shot (see below) but I'd be cutting it really close yardage wise.

So I made it through, like, 6" of Tempting before I realized I suck at ribbing. Seriously.
There were a few ribs where I purled where I should have knitted and I didn't think it would

be that big of a deal but when I'd gotten pretty far it looked aweful. So I'll be trying a summer top next.

Made it to the Sit n Stitch the Thursday before last and it was great to see everyone. We even had a few new people. It's so fun to get to know everyone and get to fondle their yarn and see what everyone's up to and how patterns I've been eyeing look in real life.
Missed the meeting last Thursday because we were getting ready to go to Dallas for the weekend but I hope to make it this week.

Oh, and one of the girls from the knitting group arranged for us all to be able to go to the spinning guild tonight and several people were going to bring their wheels for us to see. And I had to work, ugh. I hate when work interferes with my hobbies. Hopefully somebody took good pics.

So we went to Dallas for the weekend and I was so excited, I finally got to check out The Woolie Ewe in Plano. I have to say, it was the biggest local yarn store I have ever been in. They had a ton of stock. But I was not at all impressed with the customer service. I probably just caught them on a bad day, but it was by far the worst atmosphere of any yarn store I have been in. To me, part of the whole experience is that small business, friendly atmosphere that makes local yarn stores what they are.

I've been to some really cool yarn stores on business trips across the country. I need to post about them all soon, I think that's so much fun.

Then I got to go to one of my favorite yarn stores, The Shabby Sheep in Dallas. It's so fun and warm, there are always people there knitting and the owner is always incredibly nice and helpful.
But I didn't buy anything either place.
My yarn allowance is pretty slim and I didn't see anything I couldn't live without... but I was shopping for when I do replenish the yarn fund.

And we got to go to one of my favorite places in Dallas, Half Price Books. I really love that place. It's huge, we could spend hours there. And have. All the books are used and really cheap and you can find the coolest stuff there.

I finally found the perfect project for my brown Manos, a little clutch similar to one I saw in 25 Bags to Knit. I'm happy with the way it's turning out, just can't get the embroidered flowers to work out. Just need to line it and I'll be done! Hope to have pics soon.

And I finally laid the 63 Squares out in my dining room, still with 7 holes in it. I was thinking that would be inspiration, hopefully I'll get it finished and have pics soon.