Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Knitting Lesson

After being away from flying for almost 3 weeks, it was a little rough getting back in the jumpseat. It feels good though. I had a 3-day trip, a day off and now I'm on day 3 of a 4-day trip. Somehow, this feels more normal to me. There has been so much going on at Knitwits, that the distance helps put things in perspective.

I took up knitting when I started flying 12 years ago. My knitting has been the one constant factor in my flying career. The cities are always changing, the crew you fly with always change, the rules and procedures change, but my knitting has been my constant and loyal companion. It fills the time when flights are delayed, it makes time in the hotel room enjoyable, and I have something to show for otherwise unproductive time. Knitting quiets my brain and makes order out of chaos.

Knitting has changed me. I am a much more patient and methodical person because of knitting. Knitting is a very simple process, it becomes more complex with the desire to achieve something beyond the basic knit and purl. From the get go, knitting has been very easy for me - I just seemed to get it. I can crack the code of reading and understanding patterns, decipher charts, symbols and abbreviations, master the k2togtbls, sl1 pssos, and so on.
If only life were as easy!

When I run into a roadblock in my life, sometimes it helps me to look at the problem in terms of knitting. I set it aside for a little while, try to figure out what went wrong and assess my options. Do I have to rip out and do it over? Can this be saved? Is this going to be yet another UFO? What would Sue or Janet do?

The answers eventually come to me and I get back on track. It is usually a matter of deciding if this project is important enough to continue or if my time, energy (and yarn) are better used on something else.

I've been working on my Cocoon sweater and it is really a delight to knit. I have the sleeves and back done and I think I'll get a good portion of the front finished today. This sweater has an interesting motif on the bottom of the body. I had never done anything like it before. Who said you can't teach an old dog a new trick?

In life and in knitting, you're always making the same stupid mistakes but sometimes you learn something new. Let's keep the mistakes to a minimum and try to learn as much as we can about ourselves and our knitting!

(I wanted a picture for today's blog and I liked the knitting needles on this movie poster. The picture above is from a great movie called Young at Heart. Janet and Sarah and I saw it last summer at the Merrimont. I watched it again recently on DVD and it was just as enjoyable. )

Saturday, October 24, 2009


With all the computer hassles we've dealt with lately, my first course of action has always been the ole' reliable Control+Alt+Delete. This term is also known in the PC world as the "three-finger salute". We often resort to these three keys with the hopes of interrupting a malfunctioning computer program. You hope that this will be the quick fix that will get you back on track. Some times it works, you press the magic three keys, reboot and voila! Sometimes, it's much, much more serious..... like a malfunctioning motherboard.

Don't you wish more things had a Control+Alt+Delete function. It would be nice if my car had this feature. Or if I had a headache, I could give myself the three finger salute and suddenly feel better. There are so many times that I wished there was a chance for a fresh start, a "do-over" or a quick, painless "delete".

I was knitting my Cocoon sleeve the other day and I noticed a series of wonky stitches about 3 inches down below. I couldn't tell you what happened, but it looked bad and I wanted them to disappear. Could I not "edit", "cut" or "paste", with a couple of keystrokes and have the wonky row go away like a typo on a document? Wasn't there a magic tool, needle or "stitchcheck" that would detect wonky stitches and fix them?

Well, Control+Alt+Delete does not apply to my knitting needles, so I tinked (ripped out-it's knit spelled backwards) the offending stitches. My knitting also does not have a "save" function, so I had no clue as to where I was in the pattern. I had to keep ripping until my exact location could be found...and that was on row #4, just after the ribbing. I went from Row 47 to Row 4 in just seconds. It was kind of like the "delete" function that I'm quite fond of.

There is no magic knitting program on the computer, and Steve, Steve, Steve, Not Steve and Bill can not fix this setback. They are not knitters (yet) and I'm glad. There is nothing as soothing to me as a lovely yarn gliding over and around my knitting needles. I look forward to re-knitting the sleeve and the rest of the Sweater.

You want your computer to be fast and obedient. Can you imagine having to send all 555 eNews-emails to our mailing list by hand?

Some things are best accomplished the slow and old fashioned way. Knitting is one of those things. Sometimes you just knit wonky and you have to go back a few rows in order to move forward.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


We are very blessed to have a bunch of Steves and a "Not Steve" in our arsenal of people to depend on when we get into a pickle. They are always ready and willing to help and advise us and we love and cherish them. They have magically come into our lives to fill the voids of our knowledge, skill and abilities while providing peace of mind, good company and a lot of laughs. They don't knit (yet) but they endure our yarn addictions and like that we have our knitting and the joy it brings us.

A new face has arrived on the scene in the past few months-Bill. Bill is Krista's husband and both Krista and Bill have become important members of the Knitwits team, pitching in to do whatever they can. Bill can often be found in the shop accompanying Krista or alone just dropping by to take care of something we mentioned in passing. What a guy!

Bill has retrieved and installed lighting fixture, fixed locks and doors, picked up lunch, set up our new coffee station, moved fixtures and furniture and everything else you can think of. And he does it all because he can and he wants to help. I don't think we can thank him enough.

The other day, Bill was in the shop and someone asked, "Are You Steve?" He answered "No." Next question, "Are you Not Steve?" To this, he answered "No, I'm Bill." So, if you see a good-looking, tall, young, and helpful man in the shop, ask "Are you Bill?"

On Sunday, a gi-normous magic pumpkin appeared on the Knitwits patio, bearing the message "Happy Halloween". Janet and I are not really fans of Halloween but the pumpkin changed our tune. The Great Pumpkin was a gift from Bill and we love it!

To Steve. Steve, Steve, Not Steve, Bill and everyone else who puts up with us, thank you-the shop wouldn't run without you and our lives wouldn't be as full. XOXOXO.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Office Computer Meltsdown

Well, it happened again-the office computer has joined "Lappie" in ole computer Heaven. We came in on Tuesday and found the office computer unresponsive and without a glimmer of life. Pandora Steve tried to resuscitate it with CPU CPR but we were unable to save it.

You would think that after the motherboard meltdown of my laptop last month, we would have taken the precautions of backing up important stuff and saving all of our files and folders onto disks...but no..we didn't! That task was on my ever growing "To Do Someday When I Get Around To It List". For the most part, the only important things on the computer were the Knitwits mailing list and our library of patterns.

Without access to the current mailing list, we were unable to send out a weekly e-mail. I have a new mailing list in the works so we'll make next week's e-mail specials extra extra special. Hopefully, our new computer will have arrived and we'll be able to figure out how to use it.

Being technologically challenged makes dealing with anything computer related very difficult. When trying to decide what computer to buy to replace our old workhorse, Janet and I first selected a Dell Inspiron that came in great designer colors-we liked Tangerine.
Well, we were told that buying a computer because they looked fun wasn't always the best way to go and we would have to wait too long to get it. So, we decided to go cheap and "down and dirty"- our new HP desktop has no bells, whistles and no designer colors.

Next, the task of retrieving our mailing list was painfully agonizing. We knew we had it stored somewhere in cyberspace-but where? Our provider had no record of any on-line back up service. I scoured every piece of paper, statement and bulletin board full of notes for clues as to it's whereabouts. Nothing! Comair Steve had taken care of this and he was unavailable.

Our new POS system keeps customer names and -mail addresses, so I figured that would be the place to start building our new mailing list. But, how do you get all 1000 names and addresses into your e-mail address book? Well, trust me--importing, exporting, sorting, templating and trying to understand what "as easy as 1-2-3" instructions ain't easy!

We may have lost a few names and current e-mail addresses, but I think we're well on our way to having a new mailing list. If we pester you for your name and e-mail address over and over again, please bear with us. If you don't get our e-mails, please let us know. If you get a bunch of the same e-mails, I'm testing the new e-mail system and again-please bear with us. We're Knitwits!

Being a techno-geek, computer nerd is too hard and not fun, I'm looking forward to getting my life as a knitter/sky waitress/blogger back.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Last week, I blabbed about Misti Alpaca Yarn. This week, the feature yarn is Rowan Cocoon. Cocoon is a gorgeous blend of 80% wool and 20% mohair that knits up beautifully on a #10 or #10.5 (3.5-4 st./inch). It is my favorite bulky yarn ever! It is incredibly soft and quick-knitting and it is perfect for sweaters, afghans, scarves, hats and you name it! After working with Hacho and size #3 needles, I feel like I'm knitting at the speed of light.

Ultra-soft merino and a subtle twist of slightly fuzzy kid mohair lends uniqueness to Cocoon and the color palette is to die for! With lovely names like Emerald, Polar, Quarry Tile, Cloud and Shale-it's hard to pick just one. There is a whole book of Cocoon projects and plenty of other Rowan patterns to pick from or gather great ideas and inspiration. Each ball 100g ball has 126 yards of loveliness and costs $16.25.

Mary Jo Rose and I decided to knit a sweater together. This is going to be Mary Jo's second sweater and we wanted an easy, quick knit, fun and fashionable sweater that would become a Fall favorite. We chose to knit Lyra from the Rowan Cocoon Collection Book (picture above). It can be made with a round or V-neck---I haven't decided which one I'm going to do but I'm doing mine in Emerald, a deep, rich, Christmas green with silver gray highlights. My size calls for 6 balls.

This morning, I sat down with a cup of coffee and cast on 29 stitches for the sleeve. Five minutes and a half-a-cup of coffee later, I had the 4 rows of ribbing done. Next thing I knew, I had 3 inches of sleeve done---and it was on gauge--I measured! Sue taught me the trick that if you start with the sleeve, you can knit and swatch at the same time. (I think she was trying to trick me into swatching). In short, I just can't stop knitting with my Rowan Cocoon!

Sorry, Mary Jo--I just couldn't wait to get started--I'm really excited about knitting with you and I had to get my needles test driving this yarn! I'll try to stop so you can catch up.

I give Rowan Cocoon 4 cups of coffee out of a possible five. I docked a cup for the price (although a 126 yd ball is quite generous.).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Shot of Adrenaline

I've been away from flying for a whole week now and it's been a little weird. I had big plans for getting all caught up with my ever growing to do list, getting my life in order, and getting some quality knitting time in. I finally made some progress on Saturday night after too many days of getting further behind. My apologies to those who witnessed the crabbiness.

The turnaround occurred on Saturday morning while I was talking on the phone to Janet's friend Matt. He is like a shot of adrenaline and his good energy is contagious. Matt is currently working on a big website launch as are we. He and his wife, Kate, had spent some time in the shop the day before (Friday). In our phone conversation, he talked about his shop experience and the little gem that we call Knitwits. His view of Knitwits was greatly different from mine and I realized that sometimes we get too caught up in the muck and mire of things to clearly see the bigger picture.

He soaked in and captured the essence of the shop during his wife's knitting lesson with Janet. He saw the caring and sharing of a craft that we want all to enjoy, he saw everyone (except Janet and me, Janet was teaching Kate and I was too crabby) helping others with yarn selection, solving knitting problems, finding pattern ideas, etc. - and we were the only two on the schedule. He saw a world of good and endless possibility and in one brief conversation he was able to get me back on track.

After the shop closed on Saturday, I went home to my new computer and banged out the layout for our new website. After struggling with the new website design for years, the muck and mire that had paralyzed us from doing anything for years was cleared and the ideas just poured out.
Boom Done! With that task completed, the weight of everything that had been bogging me down seemed to vanish-everything seemed clearer.

When my old computer (piece of #$@*) went down, Laura and Laura's husband, Pandora Steve and "Not Steve", were in the right place at the right time. Belinda and Steve always have good timing. Having Matt and Kate showing up was a true blessing. Now, if only a little cleaning fairy would show up and get the rest of my life in order, I'd be able to get some quality knitting time in!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Misti Alpaca

If you've been following this blog for a little while, you may remember the blabs about our meetings with the yarn reps this summer for the big fall buy. For you newcomers, here's what happened in a nutshell. We met with our reps, we placed orders, we cancelled our orders, we were told by Janet to "Land This Fish!, we went to TNNA, we regrouped, we re-ordered, and we "Landed the Fish!".

Well, the Fish has Landed and the Fall yarns are now on the shelves. Each and every one of them was selected, de-selected and then they made the final cut. They are the best of what we saw. One line in particular really excited us, Misti Alpaca. We selected Hand Painted Chunky and Hand Painted sock.

Our favorite Rep. Linda (sorry Kosher Cowboy) showed us this line. She pulled out rings of the most beautiful colorways we have ever seen-we wanted them all and we wanted the rings for display. The handpainted sock was shown to us on a ring of tiny knit socks in every colorway imaginable. What a presentation! We loved the intense colors, the feel of the yarn and the warmth properties of the alpaca.

Misti Alpaca is a family-run company that was founded in 2003 and imports the finest alpaca yarn directly from Peru for the enjoyment of the North American knitter.

Here's their story. Eighty years ago the peasants who lived in remote Andean villages did not have a market for their wool and alpaca fiber. So grandfather Alberto started to buy the fiber and to look for markets in local cities. The annual sale of alpaca fiber and wool represented a large portion of peasant's income. Many of them didn't want to receive money for their precious fiber. They would rather barter for supplies such as charki (a special kind of dry meat), chuńo (freeze dried potatoes), salt, oil, coca leaves, etc. This barter system was so common that Alberto opened a grocery store in Nunoa to barter supplies for alpaca fiber.

Today the family remains linked to the alpaca industry in all its stages from raising alpacas to processing and marketing the alpaca yarn.

Their website www.mistialpaca.com has a lot more history and information as well as a slew of free patterns.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Big Sigh of Relief

Yesterday was a good day. I finished those darn Christmas stockings and I passed Recurrent Ground School! I can fly for another year and I no longer have to those stockings hanging out in my "TO KNIT" basket. I can now officially enjoy some time off.

With the big stuff (stockings, ground school and computer meltdown) out of the way, I can start knitting some fun stuff. Sure, I still have some ufo's spilling over my "To Knit" basket and an overflowing "To Do" basket of paperwork, but I really need to start knitting something new. First in line is the Jane Austen dress from Mason Dixon Knitting Outside The Lines. I'm going to do it in Mirasol Hacho. Cathy Michael made one for the "non-sock" sock yarn knitting project last year-it is adorable.
Janet has already wound the yarn and it's waiting for me on the desk. I can't wait to get it on my needles. I see this one knitting up quickly-the sewing may be another story!

I'm planning some new blog ideas including a Yarn of the Week. This week 'll blab about Misti Alpaca. We carry the Hand-paint chunky and sock. Also in the works is a Gift Registry. With Christmas just around the corner, this should help me get the Jordana Paige knitting bag instead of the Roomba.

Stay tuned and I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Awwwwwwwww....Some Time OFF

I'm back and looking forward to a long stretch of days off! I have recurrent ground school on Monday, but after that I have two and a half weeks off. I'll probably pick up some flying to pay for my new MacBook, but it's flying by choice (very different from flying the regular schedule).

Wow, Fall has blown in quickly and without transition from summer to fall. I don't quite know how to dress myself-I'm not ready to give up the flip flops and sandals. Be prepared for some interesting get ups while I figure it out.

Once I get Ground School wrapped up, I'll be ready to get my knit back on. Ground School is an annual event for flight attendants. We review policies and procedures, aircraft equipment, CPR and first aid, HazMat, Security issues, blah blah blah, get tested on our knowledge and perform aircraft evacuations. If you pass all tests and you can stay for another year. I don't want to know what happens if you fail. Wish me luck!

I'm still knitting those (darn) Christmas stockings. For a knitter with a bad case of "single sock syndrome", completing 3 Christmas stockings is really a stretch. I have 1 done, 2 done down to the heel and I just need to put my head down, avoid temptation to work on fun stuff, and finish up! All of the new Fall yarns are just waiting for a test drive-must be disciplined and patient.

I can't wait to see you all. Working weekends at the shop, I get to see some of you but I miss out on Sweater Clubber, Lunch Bunchers and Kid's Clubbers and a slew of others. Come by and encourage my to finish up my Christmas stockings and assorted other ufo's. I'm also planning to do a little Malabrigo Loafer Workshop while I'm off. If your interested let me know.

Knitwits, where friends are made and you can kill time like nobody's business.
Happy 16th Birthday Nathan Hatton!