Expanding My Horizons

You didn't think I would go all the way to New York City and not visit a yarn shop, did you?  Of course not.  You know me far too well and understand that an addict must have her fix no matter in what city she may find herself.

On the last day of our trip I went down to Soho with my aunt who lives in the city.  Our destination?  Purl Soho.  If you ever have the chance to go I highly recommend it.  They are on the pricier side, but the way they have utilized their space is amazing.  They have a lot less room than any shop I have visited, yet somehow they managed to make their stock of yarn and fabrics look so inviting that there is no clutter at all.  We ooh'd and ah'd and cuddled everything, admiring the pairing of colors and the great selection of books.  This was the first place I had seen a lot of items in stock, including Pom Pom Quarterly, which I am kicking myself for not picking up.  But I am so excited for the purchases I did make that it mitigates my disappointment.

I know I am very late in the game, but I finally bought my first skein of Shelter in this lovely brownish black with flecks of brighter colors.  I have not picked out what to knit it into, but I am thinking something Jared Flood is in order -- perhaps Rosebud?

Of course I bought a bag, because that's what I do, but I also bought a new craft.  My mom taught me to cross stitch when I was a kid as one of my first introductions to needle arts.  I never really took to it, but I've wanted to return to the thread variety of crafting and an embroidery kit seemed just the thing.  This is a kit for a French clip, and I am excited to see how it turns out.  The lack of obvious application is what kept me from fully embracing this side of craft, so we shall see if this makes a difference.

So if you are in the city, definitely check out this shop.  And be sure to build in some extra time to walk up the street and do some knitting at the Harney and Sons tea shop.  I promise you won't be disappointed.


Knitting in Brooklyn

Last week I had the privilege to attend the American International Toy Fair as one of the most sought after guests -- the buyer for a successful toy store.  My coworker and I spent five days searching for gold among thousands of vendors, most selling a really great products.  In many ways it was hard to weed through everything to find what we were looking for, but we tried, getting cozier with some items than with others.

I admit that when we left I did not anticipate having as much fun as I did or being as well received.  We are both fairly young for our field, without kids, and then there is of course my pink hair.  But we learned quickly that in fact we were not as unusual as I had worried.  In fact the young families to whom we market, more environmentally conscious and determined to move past gendered stereotyping, now have a lot of purchasing power and thus made us extremely relevant.  It was an exciting position in which to find ourselves.

It was really exciting to see all of the fibery goodness coming out this season.  Including pom pom kits!

I wish this photo had turned out, but I was trying to snap it around people who were running over to touch it.  And believe me, the it was just as cozy as one would imagine a pom pom ottoman to be.  There were also weaving kits, knitting kits, and "here's yarn, what do you want to do with it" kits.  Nothing with 100% American wool just yet, but based on the quality of the acrylic I tested out, I'd say that is on the horizon.

But lest you think our trip was all work, let me assure you.  We made sure to take time to have fun, including heading out to Brooklyn where it seems no one knits in bars.  Honestly, I doubt it is that unusual.  I do it here all the time with hardly a second look, and Brooklyn is way more hip than we are.  But that did not stop one of the more entertaining encounters of my knitting life.  We were sitting at a table drinking a beer and I pulled out my knitting, as I am wont to do.  The Olympics were going and I was woefully behind on my entry for the Short Track Shawls.  I was knitting happily away when we attracted the attention of a fellow "artist."  Now I don't doubt this guy is an artist of some sort, but I found it very hard to figure out what he does outside of yell drunkenly at people in noisy bars.  What I did gather was that he was personally offended that I do not offer my knitting up for sale.  I told him it's something I do for the love of the craft, which he seemed to understand, but continued to insist that I should get "one of those Etsy sites."  Seriously, why didn't I think of that?  But then again he's the guy who has a traveling museum of Michael Jordan memorabilia but does not know that Jordan was from and played for Carolina.  In any case, somewhere on Instagram, in an account I could not spell, is a photo of me and my knitting with these guys.  Let me know if you find it?


Mitten Deficit

I keep telling myself that one of these days life is bound to get less chaotic.  That work will calm down and the apartment will be back in good working order.  But at the rate things are going I think this is actually the norm and I am just along for the ride.  This week I actually managed to get away from it all.  One of my coworkers had a birthday so a bunch of us went to the mountains.  I took my husband, turned off my work email, and just relaxed.  Until a giant snowstorm hit and we got snowed in with 20 inches of rain and no way of knowing if our homes had power and our pets were safe.  Thank God none of us have children.

Today I'm back to the insanity of it all.  I was supposed to leave this morning for a business trip (I know!  I feel so grown up) but the airline cancelled our flight, leaving us with much more questionable weather conditions for our much later flight.  At the same time, I just got to watch USA beat Russia in an insane hockey matchup, so that was fun.

Last week I was starting to pull things together for the mountains and our work trip when I came to a shocking realization.  I don't own any mittens.  I knit a pair of Bella mittens about five years ago but since then it has been fingerless mitts all the way.  So what's a girl to do with less than a week before she takes off for frozen climes?  Why knit a new pair of mittens of course!

Two Hands Make a Snowflake!  I have had this pattern in my queue for quite some time but never got around to knitting because hello, fingers.  Plus it is knit out of worsted and I have plenty of sock yarn scraps in my stash, but very few worsted.

These are knit out of Cascade 220 (one of the very first skeins of yarn I ever bought at a yarn shop) and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, leftover from all those stockings I still need to finish (grumble, grumble).  At times I yelled at myself for choosing to do these stranded rather than double knitting the chart, but I am really glad I did.  We spent a lot of time in snow this week, tubing, shoveling, and just digging out doors and cars and my hands were never cold.  The double layer of yarn made them super cozy and warm.  The only change I would make is a button to hold down the mitten flap because the shoveling and falling in the snow caused it to flip up a lot, exposing my fingers.

Overall?  A very positive experience.  And if we keep getting weather like this I'm going to have to make more.


I Used A Kettlebell (And I Didn't Die)

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone is having a lovely and productive day.  I went to a Superbowl party last night and got some serious knitting done while watching that train wreck.  Thank you Denver for making my Panthers no longer have the most pathetic appearance in recent memory.  Makes my life a little easier.

Lately I have been giving you a little peek into my personal health journey.  One of my coincides-with-New-Year's resolutions was to get my health back under control.  Because I am self-treating my migraines life has gotten a little more regimented.  Fortunately (or not) they seem to stem from an injury and not from a dietary or chemical imbalance, so I don't have to hyper-regulate my diet.  I can still eat gluten and sugar in moderation without suffering any ill effects.  Instead I am focusing on things like my sleeping patterns and exercise.  Until two years ago I was a full-time student.  I had weird days and functioned on strange sleep schedules.  One of the first changes I made when I started detoxing from my neuro-meds was how much I slept.  I was actually concerned I was pregnant because I was sleeping so much.  Turns out I just need 7-8 hours rather than the 4-5 I was used to from school.  A seemingly easy fix but one I struggled accepting.

The other modification I have made is a regular workout schedule.  It has become an obsession, which is why my knitting output has decreased.  I try to fit in something everyday when I get home from work and on my off-days I have been going for a run.  This is a big deal for me because I am not just doing cardio anymore, but have introduced weights into my routine.  I have a spinal injury that I rehabed as much as physical therapy could take me and now it is just time I man up and deal with it.  And it is working!  I've started out small, but as long as I keep at it the headaches are less frequent.

I've been blessed that I am not in this alone.  Some of the other girls from work are doing a weight loss challenge and while I am not trying to lose weight, the support we give one another has been very encouraging.  On days I have off I can frequently find a running buddy and we've done crazy things like take a kickboxing class for the first time together.  They understand that I have this weird head problem that can cause me problems and they have been very supportive as I figure out what works.

I have also found support through the Tone It Up community.  Bravo's new show Toned Up has been airing 30 minute episodes each week and is about two best friends who run a fitness company.  Somehow I found myself watching, probably while I was waiting for Chris to get home from work.  I was skeptical about it until I saw the first episode.  Their interactions and genuine enthusiasm were enough to get me to try a video (they have tons free on youtube), and that is all it took for me to get hooked.  Currently they are doing a program leading up to Valentine's Day called Love Your Body that is all about building confidence and trying new fitness.  I love it.  There are enough videos that I can try different things every day, and they are short enough that I can pace myself.  Last week I went out and bought a 10lb kettle bell.  This is a huge deal for me because I have not used anything other than 3lb hand weights.  And you know what?  I'm not dead yet.

So here's to a month of trial and error, slip ups and backslides, and finally feeling like I can conquer this thing.  Hopefully I will continue to have good news in the months to come.