Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blessed or Cursed?

I'm feeling extremely blessed for my recent string of bad luck.

My July flight schedule has been just awful. With the exception of a string of days off at the beginning of the month when I was going to go enjoy some time away with my family-but the flights were so full-I didn’t get to go anywhere, I have been scheduled to work for six days on with one day off for three weeks.

I have underlined scheduled because “scheduled” and “actual” are two very different things. Last week, on day #6, I was scheduled to fly only one leg back from Philadelphia to Cincinnati-boom done, check out, go home. Sounds easy. Not so much.

Our airplane never made it into Philadelphia-so our outbound flight was cancelled and there were no other flight out that evening.

This week, my schedule was further complicated by water, ”the elixir of life”. On Sunday morning, the hose that connects the water supply to my toilet burst. According to my plumber, Bob Fish of Fish Plumbing, “several gallons of water can easily gush out of there every minute”. According to me, 10-15 minutes is enough time to create a wading pool in your bedroom and bathroom.

To make matters worse...much worse, during the wee hours of this morning (Wednesday), my hot water tank spontaneously combusted. I swear that a 30 gallon tank holds a river’s worth of water. I now had a wading pool in my utility room, kitchen and dining room.

So, why do I feel blessed?
For starters,
  1. I am tired, but healthy.
  2. I have insurance and a job.
  3. I have kind, caring, sympathetic friends and neighbors, a prompt plumber who gives an airline discount, property damage but nothing of significance lost.
  4. I’m one in a gazillion! What are the odds of two plumbing problems in one week and the odds of me being at home for both of them? I can’t even begin to do the real math but I know that the damage could have been significantly worse if I were away!
  5. The insurance companies have been called, the hot water tank has been replaced, the toilet is back in commission and the last of the skanky towels are in the dryer. The 10 industrial fans and some monstrous thing called “The LGR 2800i” are running through the weekend to dry out the floors.
  6. My soggy downstairs neighbors are very understanding and coping with the water damage to their units.
  7. The recent Feng-Shuing of Condo made mopping and cleaning a breeze.
  8. Not one skein of yarn, pattern or UFO was damaged or lost during the ordeal.
  9. My stash is safe and dry.
  10. I found 2 buttons, a Chibi, 6 stick markers, a #2 DP needle and 42 cents.
  11. I have my knitting to keep me occupied while I wait for plumbers, repairmen, insurance adjusters......
Be well and Stay Dry!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Buying Stuff and Finding Another Perfect Knitting Bag

Last week, we met with yet another yarn rep. Susan is our rep for several yarn and notions lines, but for us, she is the Cascade Yarn Lady. With our fall/winter budget blown for the year, we thought we would have a "look-see" and maybe buy a couple of bags of yarn to fill in our color gaps of Cascade 220.

Cascade 220 is a yarn shop staple item with 220 yards of 100% Peruvian highland wool, available in 220 colors. 220 colors! It would take way too much mental energy to start here, so we flipped the page to the Cascade 220 Superwash-I think there are only 200 colors and there is not one bad one.

The 220 Superwash is the yarn that was required for the Operation Gator Project. It really is one of the nicest superwash yarns that we've found and we need an all purpose superwash. (Mission Falls 1824 is a great superwash, but the color pallet has a blue-ish hue to it-no true shades.) An hour later and using most of the post-it flags from a Knit Happy Sticky Note Holder, we had selected 30 colors and really test Susan's patience.

Then, Susan says,"Don't you need a Chunky version?" So...we get out the remaining post-it flags and go in for another round. The best part of the process is writing the order. Janet reads off the color number, makes up a name for the color and Sue writes it down.
Sue does a great job of doing this in an orderly manner and with a straight face as Janet will come up with names like "Pumpkin Soup with a Hint of Nutmeg, a Dollop of Sour Cream and Chives". Me?... I just sweat the cost of all of this and eat Chips Ahoy cookies to cope.

While Janet and Sue write down the "menu" of Chunky colors, I start rummaging through the Namaste knitting bag samples. Nothing is really hitting me....until.....Susan pulls out Hermosa.
The room goes silent.... until Sue breaks the silence by exclaiming, "I MUST HAVE THAT!", words I've never heard Sue mutter. Hermosa is THE perfect knitting tote-roomy top-opening for plenty of UFOs, organized inside and out, outside pocket for books, patterns, magazine, place for cell phone and water bottle, sturdy and ample handles and available in airline approved colors! We go gaga over Hermosa!

We also went gaga over the Circular Needle Case. The Namaste Circular Case is a compact, clever, and oh-so cute solution to storing and organizing circular needles. We placed a "Big" (big for us) Namaste order. The Circular Case is out of stock (of course) but Hermosa is on her way!

I'm not bellyaching over the $ spent with Susan, in fact I'm glad we dropped a wad. We all feel really good about bringing in some new weights and colors of Cascade and we can't wait to get to know Hermosa! I have plenty of knitting bags, a knitting basket, a knitting carry-all and a Jordana Paige knitting/computer bag...but I do need a knitting tote is an airline approved color. How's that for justifying a Hermosa purchase?

Now that you've finished reading, click here for a YouTube video review of the Hermosa bag.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Knitwits 24/7

I got a reply on my last post from Robin Hunter in Toronto. Robin writes the blog "How to be a Professional Knitter". She blogs about knitting and happiness and often interviews other knitters and designers. Sweater Quest refers to Toronto as the "Knitting Capital of the World" so of course we put our spin on that and now refer to Knitwits as the "Knitting Capital of Crescent Springs".

Okay, back to Robin. Robin too is a professional knitter like Betsy Lee and so as are many of the people she interviews. So the answer to "Is Knitting a Profession?" is yes, but not a lucrative one...yet. You Go Robin!

I'm amazed that folks like Robin, Adrienne Martini and all of you actually read this blog. It makes me realize that there is such potential available at our fingertips. If you haven't noticed, I've added some new pages to the top of the blog. I've added an "About Knitwits" page for readers unfamiliar with the shop, a "Ask a Knitwit" page for reader questions (knitting, personal or otherwise) and a "Janet's Recipe of the Week" page so you all can enjoy some of Janet's wonderfully, delicious and easy recipes. My hope is that this blog will become more interactive. I love getting responses and replies to the postings.

Okay, now back to Ravelry for a minute. I love the interactive potential of Ravelry! Jill has done a great job of replying to the Knitwits KY group discussions and posts. She always has a lovely reply to my new project posts and often reminds me about UFO's like the Shop Owners Sweater in size M.

This week, we've added a bunch of new discussion feeds on our Ravelry board in hopes of utilizing more of Ravelry's potential to be a valuable source of information and entertainment. Check out the "A Special Thank You for Our Ravelry Group" on the Knitwits KY discussion board. Feel free to start a new discussion, reply to a previous post, comment on other knitter's project or try something else you can do on the wonderful world of Ravelry.

We are blessed to have soooo much access to information available at our fingertips 24/7. I hope you start to use this blog, Ravelry, Facebook and e-mail on a more regular basis or as places to find an answer for your knitting (and friendship) questions. Even when the shop is closed, your Knitwits friends are just a few keystrokes away.

And yes, it is possible to knit at the computer. I do it all the time.

P.S. Technology is not one of this Knitwit's strengths so if a link doesn't work or you don't receive a timely response, I apologize in advance.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is Knitting a Profession or an Obsession?

When I meet people for the first time and they ask me what I do, I usually answer, "Oh, I'm a flight attendant." And, the conversation usual goes as follows:
Do you like it?
What's your route?
How long have you been flying?

Someday, I'm going to truthfully answer the "What do you do?" question with "I'm a knitter and I fly so I can knit and pay my bills."

Is knitting a profession?
According to my MacBook dictionary, profession is a noun that means a paid occupation, esp. one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification. Hmmmm, paid (sorta), prolonged training (does self taught, years of hands on experience, trial and error and a few YouTube videos count), formal qualification (card carrying member of TNNA). It's a stretch.

Are there any true professional knitters?
When I Googled professional knitters, I found things like FairTradeKnitting, a cooperative of professional knitters in Ecuador who make a living by knitting, and How to become a Professional Knitter, a knitting blog about career transition, personal development and the search for fulfillment. I was hoping a picture of "Sweater Quester" Adrienne Martini, "Yarn Harlot" Stephanie Pearl-McPhee , or Uber Color Knitter Kaffe Fassett to name a few.

When I googled, "is knitting a profession", 6,950,000 results popped up in 0.35 seconds. The ninth option down was something about Jane Pauley (who I've always liked), Reality Check and (in Bold) Knitting- AARP.org. So, I clicked and here's what I found:

Reality Check: Knitting as a Career

Knitting is a great hobby, pastime and social activity. What it's not is a practical way to make a living.

Not many knitters are professional knitters. Betsy Lee McCarthy is, since she wrote a popular book on the subject and teaches the craft at events nationwide (and even on cruise ships). Yet despite her name recognition as a knitter, McCarthy, 67, is hesitant to describe knitting as her job.

"I don't make a lot of money from it," she says, explaining that after buying yarn and other supplies, her trade often incurs as much cost as it does income. "I'm lucky if I break even," she observes. When McCarthy left a well paid career in health administration in order to pursue her passion, she did so with both a nest egg and a clean financial slate. Her two children were grown, her home and cars were paid off, and her husband had a steady job that provided insurance.

"I knit because I love knitting," she says.

We have found our first professional knitter, Betsy Lee McCarthy, 67.
There is a lovely video of Betsy being interviewed by Jane Pauley that I'm trying to link for you---but it's not working. :-(

I guess for now, I'll keep answering the "So, What do you do?" with....flight attendant, it's okay, don't really have a set route and 13 years, blah,blah,blah... and my obsessions are knitting and googling.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ravelry is the New Feng Shui

The book Sweater Quest has been the subject of many recent blogs because it really opened the question "Did the Internet Save Knitting?" I think the answer is most definitely YES!

The scarf knitting craze of 7-8 years ago got people interested in knitting and
websites like Knitty and Ravelry created a vehicle to connect knitters with yarn and pattern resources, inspiration, instruction, and other knitters and fuel the passion for knitting. The timing was perfect.

was the first knitting website that I really got addicted to. Knitty is the longest-running free knitting magazine on the web. Launched in 2002, there are more than 7 years worth of fabulous knitting patterns and articles. What I really like is that Knitty gives new designers a place to showcase their talent, so the patterns are usually fresh, quirky, innovative and FREE. The newest edition of Knitty patterns was just released this week, so take a quick peek.

I think Ravelry is the BEST website on the planet!
Husband and wife Casey and Jessica Forbes founded Ravelry in May 2007. Their idea was to create a web presence for all fiber artists to keep track of their yarn, tools and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration. If you are not a member of Ravelry, you must become one! It's like Facebook for knitters only much, much, much better!

I've always loved Ravelry for the ability to quickly look up yarns and patterns (which we have to do quite a bit at the shop). This past month, I've spent way too much time on Ravelry learning how to use many of the other available features-like advertising, chat, posting pictures, joining forums and discussions. I've also been updating my project notebook. It is easy to use and it is fun to do!

On Ravelry, I'm adamsaunt, Sue is knitzzzky, Jill is NobleKnitwit, Krista is kristaj84 and Sheryl is dukesmama. There is also a Knitwits Group called knitwits ky and we have 128 fun members. You can easily see what your fellow Knitwits are working on and view their finished objects without feeling like a stalker. NobleKnitwit is great at keeping up with the questions, comments and postings. (i'm getting better).

I highly recommend keeping up with your "notebook". You add your latest project with yarn info, needle info, pattern info, etc. It tracks your progress (or lack of progress) and remembers things that I can never remember (where I got the pattern, what needle I used, what changes I made, etc.) I also recommend putting things in your queue. Whenever I see a pattern that I like I stick it in my queue so I can find it again without doing countless random searches on the web.

Since updating my Ravelry "notebook", I was able to feng shui my desk of piles of knitting patterns, little scraps of paper filled with cryptic pattern notes, bags of yarn bands, two stacks of Knitting magazines with sticky notes everywhere, a shopping bag of stash yarn, 3 UFO's, 1 FO, and a Twix candy bar.

NobleKnitwit and I would like to do some Ravelry workshops to show you all how to unravel Ravelry to organize your life--or at least the knitting portion. Any interest?

By the way, Casey the techno-guy of Ravelry must have a great sense of humor. Sometimes when you're typing a post and you type the word Coffee, a little appears. You can also have a Martini , Pizza , kitty ,fries , sushi , muffin , Beer and red wine . It's fun to figure out which words make the little icons appear. When you find a cutie pie icon-post it on the knitwits ky discussion board.

I know I was going to blog about The 5 Hour Baby Sweater, but I've been spending too much time on Ravelry to finish it. Stay tuned, less than an hour to go! But first, .

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CEY Knit-A-Long Update

Wow! Our Classic Elite Knitalong sweaters are going great! In fact, Darlene is the first one to have her sweater done. Good job, Darlene--you’re an inspiration to us all. Unfortunately, we have to wait for a little bit to get a picture of this fabulous sweater, since Darlene is off to the Windy City, her sweater in tow. We’ll have to find out if it was actually cool enough to wear a sweater…. It’s hard to imagine, but I guess it is possible.

This Saturday, we’ll be getting together again for a meeting of the knit along. I can’t wait to see how everyone’s sweater is coming, because I had to miss the last one. I was in New Orleans--actually, technically speaking, I was on my way back from New Orleans. So I didn’t get to see everyone’s sweaters last time.

I was there for our meeting on June 19th. That was a great meeting. Several of us got together, and as usual, we had lots of fun and laughter. I had a chance to talk to some of our great knitters about how their projects were going and what they thought of the yarn they were using.

Claudia and Sue are both knitting a beautiful pattern out of Firefly--a lovely yarn with a subtle sheen that comes from the viscose in the blend. The finished fabric is really lovely! And, as is usual for our Knitwits knit longs, they are making changes to make a beautiful sweater even prettier. Both these ladies have been tinkering with the pattern to improve the fit of the sweater. Claudia, for example, added short rows in the front to make a sweater that will lie more smoothly across the tummy--a lesson she learned from a previous sweater she did. Both Sue and Claudia have heightened the neckline of the piece and made some other alterations to go with these. Sue even figured out how to put in a hem to make these sweaters look even better.

Truthfully, when I look around at all of our sweaters, I am wowed not only by our amazing knitters but by our fearless leader Sue. Sue has put a lot of thought into each of these sweaters to make everyone's experience go so much better.

Take me for example....in my case, I wanted to use a different Classic Elite yarn (Classic Silk instead of Solstice) at a slightly different gauge than the pattern called for. Oh, and did I mention that I didn't like the line of increases straight across the bust? Gee, Sue, is there a way to solve all of these problems and still stay true to the pattern???? Our amazing Sue found that there was a way to do it... and she not only figured out how, but she gave me a kick butt spreadsheet so I wouldn't screw it up. I know I am on track all the time. It really makes knitting the sweater easier. She did the same thing for Darlene, who was also using Classic Silk instead of Solstice--and at a different gauge than me. And the result is that now Darlene’s sweater is done and she is happy with it!

How does the woman do it? I don't know, but I know that Sue is a gem!!! I also saw her figure out Brooke's vest, going so far as to cut up an old t-shirt and stitch it together so she would understand how the pattern worked.

Go Sue, our sweater knitter extraordinaire!

Monday, July 5, 2010


I'm really into finishing things right now. I've finished (that means weaving in loose ends and all) two things this past week. I finished up my Gold Necklace Camisole first and was so inspired that I cranked out the last section of my Road to China Citron. I also tackled another biggie....the draft for our new website! I feels really good to check stuff off the "Things I NEED to Finish List"!
The Gold Necklace Camisole is knit out of Katia Bolero using the Aran Necklace Pattern in the Spring 2010 Interweave Knits Magazine. TJ came in with the pattern and as soon as I saw it, I knew I would have to knit it. The construction of the top involved an intricate necklace-like yoke and straps and a short row bodice. The challenge was too great not to knit it and I immediately pictured it in the Gold Bolero yarn . In usual Junko fashion, I cast on and started knitting!

I should have had 8-1/2" after the first set of instructions, I had 6". No worries, I'll just knit til I have 8-1/2" and instead of making the XS, I'll follow the directions for a M. After knitting half of the Necklace Portion, I realized that I would now need to follow the directions for the L to get the correct dimensions. When I got to the pick up stitches for the body and begin short rows part of the pattern, I had to readjust again and was now following the directions for the XL. C'est la Vie.

After the short rows, it's all knitting in the round, so round and round I went until I started to see the cardboard ring that the yarn was wrapped around. Instead of following the pattern for the hem (why start following the pattern at this point), I did a seed stitch border to get as much length as possible without cracking into a new ball of yarn.

Conclusion: I love the sweater! It fits (although just a tad shorter than I want). It looks like the picture! In fact, I love the sweater so much that I took a picture and posted it on Ravelry for all to see that I can actually finish something.

I was in the middle of a trip when I finished the camisole, so I dug my Road to China Citron out of the bottom of my flight bag. I had put it aside after completing section three of the pattern (the shiny, gold cami called me). Citron is a popular, semi-circular shawlette/scarf from the Knitty collection. The pattern is uses lace weight yarn, so what do I use? Road to China Light, a fabulous dk weight yarn of course.

The Road to China Light is my new favorite yarn. It is a soft, luscious, gorgeous, yummy blend of Baby Alpaca, cashmere, camel and silk that knits up like a dream! The yarn felt soooo good after working with the schpoingy Bolero. Section Four went quickly. Section Five was another story. The pattern tells you to kfb in every stitch..well with 273 stitches, that's a whole lot of kf&b! But, I was determined to finish another wip (work in progress), so I put my head down and did it!

Conclusion: I love my Citron and I love Road to China. Although it doesn't really go with my Gold Necklace camisole, I'll be wearing both to death... they are my new favorite things. Bye bye clapotis, Hello Citron!

Next Up? Can a "5 Hour Baby Sweater" really be knit up in five hours?