Saturday, August 17, 2013

I need a cure for my pacific northwest love affair...

Or do I...It's been about a week since we've been back home from our 12 day excursion up the coast to Portland.  I'm sad to be back.  Really sad.  I fell in love with the pacific northwest all over again (since we drove down the coast from Northwest Washington on our honeymoon three and a half years ago).  The rocky shores blanketed in fog captivate me and I can't get enough of the dense, lush forests that line every road and frame each small town along the way.  As for Portland, the city is gorgeous, clean, and exciting.  The food is perfection, the people are unique, and very friendly and the neighborhoods all have something different to offer.  Not an hour away is the spectacular Columbia River Gorge and the Hood River Valley, not to mention the enormous Cascade volcanoes, Mt. Hood and Adams.  They rise over the city like giant snow capped watchmen.  Sometimes you can even make out the broken peak of Mt. St. Helens.  Not enough can be said in one brief knitting post, but I hope that if you ever have the chance to take a trip up the coast, you do it.  There are very few things quite that beautiful.

In this post, however, I'd like to highlight some of the knitting finds I happened upon on our trip, as well as spotlight a finished project and some that I really need to get serious about.

Our trip started in Laguna Beach (where we stayed with our best friends, Lauren and Hokuto--Lauren cooks up some delectable eats over at Dumb Blond Does Dinner) with stops in Monterey, CA, Eureka, CA, Coos Bay, OR, and then stopping for a few days in Portland before heading south through Bend, OR, Crater Lake, and down through Nevada back to Las Vegas.  Along the way I made sure to look for local knitting gems.  Lucky for me I found a few.  I also found time to work on a hat that I had started a few days prior to the trip.  I was dead set on wearing it in Portland.

Just shy of an hour outside of Coos Bay, Oregon is a crabbing and fishing port called Bandon.  We stopped to stretch our legs and explore their downtown area.  It was chilly and wet, but a pleasant change from the stuffiness of the Mini after several hours.  I never thought that I would happen upon any knitting finds here, because the area is so small.  Charming to boot, but just not where you'd expect to find a yarn shop.

 Granted, I never did find a yarn shop, but I did happen across some fantastic yarn sitting in a crate outside of a unique store called Gypsy Wagon.  It was unlabeled and made from recycled silk Indian saris.  Not to mention, a steal at $6 a pop!

The store is also lovely and the gentleman in the picture was very friendly and told me a bit about the store and all of the imports.  His wife owns the shop, but he helps out sometimes when he has a break from being a well known busker in the area and around the world.  He told me a bit about what he does and it sounded like a really cool way to see the world.  His name is John Gretzinger and he has a blog about busking over at Buskers Beat

After arriving in Coos Bay and taking the time to enjoy some clam chowder at a small fish market, I happened upon a store called My Yarn Shop on the main road, Broadway.  This store is adorable.

Not only does the store front lure fiber enthusiasts and curious shoppers with its street lamps and giant windows, but as soon as you walk in the door you are greeted by heaps of luxurious yarn in every color under the sun.

After walking around a bit, I overheard the sales lady tell another shopper if she knew about the back.  The back?  As far as I knew, what you see in the picture above was all there was.  I looked over towards the "back" and saw another shopper duck in through an archway.  I followed suit.  

You always assume that yarn shops have a back stock area, but you never expect to be allowed to rummage through it.  The walls were lined with skeins of yarn, tubes of buttons, pattern books, project kits, spools of lace, and all sorts of notions.  I was overwhelmed, to say the least.  I couldn't possibly justify spending money for our trip on another skein of yarn, so I made my way back to the notions wall, picked out a set of needles for my recycled Sari yarn, introduced myself to the owner, had a nice conversation with a local knitter, and went on my way-satisfied with my experience and happy to have contributed to the local knitting scene in some small way.

Our next stop on our trip was Portland, Oregon.  When we were planning this trip, I learned that the city has an enthusiastic creative and crafty culture.  This explains the more than 10 knitting stores in downtown Portland alone!  I couldn't possible visit them all (though the prospect was enticing), but I did take time to step into the modern looking and impeccable Knit Purl on the corner of Alder and 11th.

This is probably one of the most beautifully organized yarn shops I've ever been in.  The shelves were neatly stocked with oodles of luscious fiber from local sources and the sample pieces were displayed on a rack for purchasing or feeling.  

Again, I couldn't justify another skein, so I settled on a Knit Purl pin instead.

Also while we were in Portland, I donned my new slouchy, lacy hat that I worked on on the road.  Talk about soft.  The yarn I used was a DK weight angora called Kimono Pure by Louisa Harding, knit with two strands held together.  The pattern (Angora Horseshoe Slouchy Hat) is easy and the repeats fly by!  The pattern is knit flat and then sewn up the side, but I much prefer to knit hats in the round so I made some adjustments to the pattern.  If you're interested in the adjusted pattern, email me!

The next place I discovered along the way is actually thanks to my husband.  As we were driving through an area just south of the Columbia River Gorge called the "fruit loop", Branden noticed a sign for Foothills Yarn and Fiber.  It was such a random area for us to stumble upon a new yarn shop because it was all farmland and fruit trees.  Surely it's not unusual to imagine sheep and alpaca farms in the area, but a yarn shop?  I had to check it out!

After driving along a winding country road for about 10 minutes, we started seeing signs for Cascade Alpacas.  We were getting close!

Once we turned into the property, we immediately drive by alpacas grazing and pull up to a small red building with a dirt drive.  Before I ventured inside, I had to say hello to the alpacas watching me from the nearby barn.

This mama alpaca (I'm assuming here) is called Princess.  The curious little fellow in the background may be her little one. 

The shop is very nice and surrounded by a wall of green trees that diffuse the light and give the area a nice glow.

Once inside, we were greeted by two very friendly faces.  One of the faces belonged to Thomas Betts, one of the owners of the farm.  He was sitting at a loom, weaving a beautiful fabric out of some of his own alpaca fiber.

The girl in this picture works at the shop and her family breeds alpaca's with Tom's.  She was so very helpful and gladly showed us around the shop, allowing us to feel a bag of raw alpaca just sheered.  After visiting, I had written down her name on a business card, but have since lost it in the trip.  I am going to get my stalker on and call the shop ASAP to find out her name.  She was very nice and I would like to mention her here is I can.  Thomas, on the other hand, is fairly well known in the small business world.  Just recently he was interviewed by William Shatner on the subject of entrepreneurship.  His story is an inspiring one.  Hoping to find a place to escape, Tom and his wife Connie set their sights on the Hood River Valley.  Once there, they decided that they would try their hand at farming because of Connie's previous experience from living on a farm growing up.  All that was left was a reason to farm.  A friend had mentioned to them that alpacas were very easy to raise, gentle, and can be profitable.  The Betss's decided that they would get involved with the alpaca business and have been profitable ever since.  I was so pleased to be able to see their accomplishment first hand.  

Now I know that I have said repeatedly in this post that I couldn't justify buying another skein of yarn, but I simply couldn't resist.  I was enchanted by the idea of buying fiber that was sheered from one of the animals just outside.  Not only that, but hand dyed baby alpaca was so soft and luxurious that I had to have some.  The color I chose is called "alfalfa" and has several tones of green.  I think of it as a token to remember my trip up north.  Whatever I decide to make with it, the green hues will bring back very happy memories.

After giving our thanks and saying goodbye, we set off South towards Bend.  It was going to be about a four hour drive, so I pulled out my sari yarn from Bandon, and my new needles from Coos Bay and got to work on a new garter stitch cowl.  

I figured this would make for effortless road trip knitting that I could do while gazing out the window at the beautiful landscape.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Knitting 101

I recently met with Issy from the Stitch Factory here in Las Vegas, and am all set to start teaching some knitting 101 classes.  I am excited to say the least, but a bit nervous.  Not bad nervous...good nervous.  I've been going over and over how to format the class so that it appeals to the most green of knitters and even those who have never held a pair of needles.  I try to place myself in the seat of the student.  What would I want or expect from a true knitting 101 class?  Some of the things I came up with are:

  • A patient and quality teacher (Got this covered.  Duh!  I do it for a living! :))
  • An introduction to the basic lingo and technique--not an intimidating, knock-down, drag-out race to an actual pattern.  Slow and steady.  A building of skills.
  • Plenty of opportunities to practice (and occasionally fudge things up) without feeling rushed to "get it."  
  • Constant feedback and positivity from the instructor.  
  • Snacks and beverages for break time.  Oh!  That reminds me...plenty of breaks to help ease any frustration and allow students to mingle.
  • Perhaps the opportunity to leave with evidence of my newly learned/partially learned skill.  Perhaps a cute swatch that can be used as a pot holder?
I'm thinking that after I have taken the students through a few of these classes, I would introduce a project.  I have been doing a lot of reading on what types of projects make good first projects for beginners and have seen many adorable patterns, but one piece of advice stuck out from the Craft and Yarn Council.  They mention that scarves are great patterns for beginners because they do not require gauge  but that it can be daunting for a beginner to feel as if they aren't really getting anywhere.  They recommend a pattern that can be worked up in one two or three hour class and that can show the student what they are capable of right away.  That immediate gratification for which we all strive.  I found one option for a quick knit that would appeal to any fashionista here.  This little headband is adorable and if I choose a more chunky fiber, it will be even faster to knit; and in my opinion, more fun.  I am also working up a scarf using a broken rib stitch pattern.  I'm using a bulky weight yarn, so it's working up fast.  I also think that the pattern will be easy enough for a beginner, but a bit more visually interesting than the basic garter stitch scarf.  However, if one of the students isn't ready for the broken rib, they can always knit it up with garter stitch.  I'm working the pattern as I go.  Once it's finished, I'll publish it if you'd like to give it a try.  It's super cute!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Well, hello!

Hello everyone!  I hope this post finds you all in good spirits.  It has been quite sometime, as seems to be the story with the Greenhornknitter.  I have been very busy with school and family (my brother and sister-in-law came home from Spain over the summer), and life in general.  I simply haven't found time to share any of my little projects...until now.  Which comes just in time for some very knitty news....

Today I was contacted by Issy who teaches fashion and design at an institute here in Las Vegas.  She is working with others on a downtown Las Vegas project called The Stitch Factory which is a newly opened downtown project catering to young designers to learn and collaborate.  She found me via my blog and hoped to recruit me to teach knitting classes at the Factory.  I am so excited and cannot wait to get started.  I meet with her again on the 28th, so I will let you know more as I know more.

As for my knitting, I have a few adorable little projects to share, as well as some WIPs.

As some of you know, I was asked to knit flower pins for my sister-in-law's sister's baby shower.  It was quite the task, and I was very fortunate to have help from my mom.  Regardless of the hard work, it was very well worth are most things that take hard work.  ;)  They turned out to be absolutely lovely!  Have a look...

Of course I couldn't resist the temptation to hand knit my gift.  I found the most adorable baby cap patterns here and fell in love instantly.  

That's my hat!

OK, so knitting for babies is so much fun.  It's just enough of a challenge, but great for those immediate gratification me.  The day before the shower, I was cruising the local Michael's in Costa Mesa, and happened upon a free pattern for baby booties.  I snatched the pattern, some heather grey yarn, and that was all she wrote.  I pumped out some baby booties in no time.

Of course, I couldn't get them both finished by the shower, so I had to do some stitching at the shower.  Later that night, she had a full pair.  :)

As for what I'm working on now...

I have recently developed an obsession with knit ties.  They are everywhere right now!  And super pricey...
Peter Millar Oxford Knit $110
Lands' End $65

Fossil $48

You get the point.  So I've decided to knit up another one (I knit a great seed stitch tie for my brother last year) for my husband.  He starts teaching in the spring and every male teacher should have a great statement tie!  I decided to do his in red.  Classic.  I'll post pictures as it comes along.

The other, and only other, knitted gift I plan to give this year is a red copycat scarf just like the one in Sex and the City:

My sister-in-law and I have been coveting this scarf for quite some time.  I've scoured the Internet for a knock off pattern, but to no avail.  The Carrie's Scarf pattern on Ravelry looks amazing, but the link to the pattern is missing...I've decided to just make my own design.  I'm going with a fairly simple chevron pattern that gives a similar effect as the one seen here. 

Well all, have a great week!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am: Quick DIY tip

Today's episode of HGTV's Design Star featured a great tip from Britany Simon for updating a plain lamp shade.  Here's a picture walk of my update.  Give it a try!  It's super cheap and easy! 

You'll need acrylic craft paint and masking tape (not pictured) and...

...a paint brush.

Tape off a design that suits you.  I love chevron!

Add paint!






Happy crafting!!

Domestic Renewal: Updating tired old shadow box art.

Shadow boxes can be a really cute, kitchy way to add character to a wall or bedside.  This simple craft can also be a great way to show off any antique trinkets that you have yet to find use for.  I happen to have two tired, old shadow boxes that I bought at Pier 1 when I was 16.  I'm going to use some vintage flare to breathe life into the art with antique newsprint and family heirlooms.

Vintage Trinket Shadow Boxes


tired, old shadow box or shadow box frame with glass plate (glass optional)

vintage inspired trinkets to display
(I chose these old spools of thread that belonged to my great grandmother.  This is a perfect opportunity to show off family heirlooms.) 

old newsprint for background

hot glue/gun

all purpose glue

razor blade to remove old adhesive
 (optional if you are starting out with a new frame)

What to do:

  • If you're refurbishing an old shadow box, carefully pull the box open and separate the pieces.  Be sure to remove any old adhesive with a razor or small craft knife.  

  •   Chose a page from an old newspaper or magazine that you would like to use as the background of                 your shadow box.  Cut it to fit the back wall and glue it down.    

  • Apply a small amount of hot glue to the back of your shadow box trinkets.  Adhere them to the newsprint on the back wall of the box.  

  • If you're refurbishing a shadow box that came with glass, be sure to clean it well in case of dust.  Line the edge of the box with hot glue.  IMPORTANT:  Wait about ten seconds before applying the glass to the glue so the glass does not crack from the heat.

  • After you apply the glass, replace the frame with hot glue being careful to let the glue cool for ten second before adding the pressure of the frame.  Let dry, and voila!  A new shadow box with old character!

Happy crafting!!
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