Monday, January 19, 2015

Percolating Ideas and Stash Enhancements

Going to a knitting show is always quite overwhelming, which is why it is always a good idea to go to events such as Rhinebeck, Stitches, or VKL with some kind of plan in mind. 

Especially when it comes to enhancing your stash. 

I finally had a little bit of time to walk around the marketplace after a flurried, hectic morning/early afternoon on Saturday, and found some amazing and fun new things to discover. I also just kept going back to the booths on Sunday. 

One of my favorite vendors was a yarn shop based out in Virginia called The New River Fiber Company. If their booth was any indicator of what their brick & mortar shop is like, I would love to just hang out there all day. 

I picked up some new to me yarn: Kenzie New Zealand Merino. I did not have a specific pattern in mind, but I know what I will do with it - I am going to design a colorwork hat out of it. Originally, I purchased the mint and the teal green, but on Sunday, I felt that a gray would really make the hat pop more.
The skeins are nestling inside the new Splityarn project bag - I chatted with Caro a bit in the booth she shared with Indigo Dragonfly, and they were such nice people to chat with! I love the fabric she used for the project bags and the structure they had - sometimes my project bags tend to collapse after use for awhile. 
Whenever I go to a show, I unintentionally end up with some kind of color theme: this year's VKL theme was in the green-blue-gray range, and the project bag matched the Kenzie yarn perfectly.  One year at Rhinebeck I was all about the plum and then there was the blue & gray phase the second time I went to MS&W. 

I bet I am not the only one who has matched his/her yarn to the project bag. Now that I think about it, its' quite inspirational actually! I am getting a better visual in my head of the hat I want to design. 

Then there were the bright, happy colors of Dragonfly Fibers. They were one of the first indie dyers I fell in love with back in 2010 when I really started to get into knitting more - and their yarn never disappoints. The ladies behind Dragonfly Fibers are so friendly and lovely, and it's so much fun and wonderful to see them at shows. 
In fact, I was so excited to work with some chunky yarn and loved the colors from Starry Night that I immediately cast on for a Vermonter.

I'm calling this my '"Fake Seahawks" hat - if I had to pick a NFL team to support it would be them. I was knitting this when they accomplished their surprise last-minute win to clinch their seat in the Superbowl last night. The only difference is that their colors have green, not yellow. Close enough! 
I might go back and do one more repeat because I have a decent amount of yarn left over, and I am still waiting on my pompom maker to arrive. Pom poms are definitely a thing for me lately. I am not ready to call this hat done quite yet, but it was quite satisfying to have a wearable hat after 4 hours of knitting. Bonus: my arm didn't hurt either! 
I already have plans for Mushroom Hunting, and I think I will use Spanish Moss for another design that is in my head.
Now that I think about it, there are a lot of ideas that are  in my head, begging to come out. I only hope that when they do arrive in their knitted form, they are done justice. This is going to be very challenging, but so exciting! 
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Secret Pattern Valentine Swap

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and after a bout of inspiration I thought, why not send Valentine’s in the form of patterns to one another as a secret swap?
To participate in the fun, please sign up via the Google Doc here.

You will be set up with a spoilee (or spoilees) and then start stalking! Check out queues, wishlists, and on top of that, treat yourself to a Valentine as well! 

Unfortunately, coupon codes cannot be used on gift patterns, so another element to the swap is “Be Your Valentine.” I asked some of my favorite designers and dyers to join in on the fun - check out the coupon codes below. 

Signups run from now until January 30. Spoilees will be sent to you via PM by February 1. From February 1-14, swap begins and so do the great discounts for yourself:

  • Neighborhood Fiber Company: 10% off with the code "BEYOURVALENTINE" from now till February 14. 
  • Gynx Yarns: 10% in-stock items (sans clubs & custom orders) with the code "SUBWAY" from February 1-14.
  • BC Yarnings: Free shipping with the code "BeYourValentine" from February 1-14
  • Julia Farwell-Clay: 20% off individual patterns with the code "secretval"
  • Bristol Ivy: 14% off individual patterns with the code "SUBWAYVALENTINE" from February 1-4. 
Have fun! 
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Tips and Tricks: Navigating a Fiber-Filled Weekend with Vogue Knitting LIVE! New York City

Vogue Knitting LIVE! is this weekend, and this year is the event's 5th year anniversary. 
This will be my 4th year going, and it's hard to believe that 4 years ago, I first heard of VKL a little too late for 2011, and I had just started podcasting. In fact, my first interview for the podcast was with Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia in the lobby at the Hilton where VKL was in 2011. 

In 2012, VKL changed venues to the Marriot Marquis and the event has become bigger and better since then. I am definitely looking forward to what is going to happen this year in the Marketplace, and after taking a look at the Marketplace calendar and schedule, it looks to be jam-packed. 

If you are wondering what VKL was like in the past, check out my recaps here: 2014 (Photos, Podcast Recap), 2013 (Part 1, Part 2), 2012 (Photos, Podcast Recap).

Whether you are a first-time attendee or a seasoned veteran, here are my top ten tips and tricks I learned from attending past VKL events that I would like to share with you. They can also be applied to most fiber festivals and events as well! 
  1. Research, research. Some key questions to ask yourself: what vendors do I want to see? What vendors do I not have easy access to during the year or at fiber events that I also attend? Make a list of vendors and then categorize them - favorites/must see, new ones to check out, others to see later. It helps you prioritize in the market, and if there are some that you have seen at prior festivals or just know about them, then you can get a sense of what their booths will be like. Jill Draper, Dragonfly Fibers, Neighborhood Fiber Co. and Plucky Knitter (my personal favorites) are almost always packed and busy, so I know to go there first and check out what's happening. 
  2. Plot a course. After finding your must-see vendors, check out where they are on the map. Are they near? Which ones are close by so you can see them consecutively? The marketplace is on 2 floors, so its imperative to know where things are. 
  3. Or...just forget everything in 1 & 2 and wander around. When I first attended VKL in 2011, I had no idea what to expect. I wanted to also really see what was in the marketplace so I got there early and walked around the marketplace before it got really busy at lunch. 
  4. Speaking of lunch. 12-1 on Saturday and Sunday is the busiest time in the marketplace, since classes let out and it is the break before the afternoon sessions. Unless you have a morning class, use this time to take a breather, relax outside the marketplace in one of the areas set up for sitting down, or even check out the free events that are happening around the marketplace. 
  5. Hmm...food is on the brain. Speaking of food, come with snacks. VKL has set up a cafe on the 6th floor, and this is mostly due in part to the somewhat lacking food options around. There is a Starbucks on the main floor of the Marriot as well as in the area, a deli and restaurant on the 8th floor (I've eaten at the restaurant, it's quite nice!) but there are lines and it gets packed. I suggest either making reservations at the cafe, getting your lunch in the morning, bringing food, or hitting up wherever you plan to get food before classes let out at 12, or shortly after 1 when afternoon sessions start. Carry a water bottle so you can refill it (I have seen water fountains around the Marriot). 
  6. There are A LOT of things going on besides classes and shopping. A knit teepee, scavenger hunts, art installations, the Fit Station and free massages (sign up early for those!)? Definitely try and fit all of these into the shopping schedule, on top of the fashion shows and free panels & lectures. Use the marketplace guide to determine what fashion shows you want to see and get a seat early, especially for "hot-ticket" items like the Vogue and Stephen & Steven shows. 
  7. Pack light and wear comfy shoes. It's going to be a long day (or weekend). The marketplace runs from 10-6:30 on Saturday and there are classes all day long. There will be a lot of running around and circles walked, so you want to make sure you are comfy while doing it. Coat Check is $3.50 for those coming from outside the hotel, and it is totally worth it. Bring an eco-bag for your purchases, so that you can carry things more efficiently (I like the Whole Foods shopping bags). Bring only the essentials with you to the marketplace; a WIP is definitely an essential, so think about portability. 
  8. It's always more fun with friends. This year, Little Sister is coming along with me and while she is not a knitter, she is interested in learning how to knit. It will also be really interesting to see a non-knitter's perspective of the event! Overall, the fun of the event is really with the people you see. 
  9. Try something new. There is always a new booth to explore or a new technique to learn, be it a class you are taking, or seeing what is available in the marketplace. If I have the time, I definitely want to drop in the Learn to Crochet table and try to learn - pretty tricky since I am a lefty! Last year, I discovered a great booth with antique buttons and spent most of the yarn budget there. 
  10. Most of all, have fun and don't stress. Regardless of whether or not you are taking a ton of classes, or just there for the Marketplace, take stock of what you are able to do and what you want to see. Planning is key to prevent stress but above all that, have fun and enjoy the show. 

Hope to see you there! I will be running around with my camera, but feel free to tap me on the shoulder and say hi! I love to meet listeners and viewers. In case you miss me on the marketplace floor, there is also the Meet & Greet in the Chiagu/One Geek to Craft Them All Booth (#118) with Kristen of Yarngasm/Voolenvine from 12-1 this Saturday. 
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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Meet & Greet at Vogue Knitting LIVE!

I have some really exciting news to share with you today:
I will be doing a meet and greet with Kristin of Yarngasm/Voolenvine at the Chiagu & One Geek to Craft Them All booth at Vogue Knitting LIVE!

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Meet the voices behind the Subway Knits and YarnGasm podcasts
Saturday, January 17,  Noon - 1pm
Booth 118 , 5th Floor

When you talk to knitters there are two topics that always pop up: a love of yarn and a love for knitting community. Podcasters Maria MN (Subway Knits) and Kristin Lehrer (YarnGasm) are no different. These two New Yorkers have built loyal followings by doing what they do best: Maria forms communities through teaching and Kristin hand dyes beautiful Voolenvine yarn.

Join us and get to know these talented ladies! Kristin will talk about her yarn and give out some mini skeins.  Maria will talk about her latest project: How to read Japanese knitting patterns.

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I am really looking forward to meeting you all there! 
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Friday, January 9, 2015

Foodie Friday: Italian at Eataly

Eataly is one of my favorite places in the city. The food is good and there are actually some good bargains - there has been more than one occasion where The Aussie and I ended up having mussels for dinner since the mussels were actually the cheapest in the city. 
Eatly isn't just a marketplace - they also have restaurants and little stations where you can get a coffee, gelato and sandwiches. We both love the roast beef sandwich, and were really disappointed when we learned that the schedule of sandwiches changes, and there was no more roast beef on Sunday.  
 You definitely see things that are considered everyday items in the States, like Nutella and during Christmas, the classic Panettone. On top of that, you find things that are not regularly stocked at your local grocery store, and for a foodie like The Aussie, it makes this place seem like heaven. 

Things like cheese from raw cow's milk...
Arctic char (which I still think of as a vegetable whenever I hear the name)... 
And truffles. Yum. On our honeymoon, we came across black truffles in the Centrale Mercato in Florence and were able to bring some back. The Aussie makes a mean mushroom/leek truffle risotto - in lieu of real truffles, he uses truffle salt these days. 
As you can see, white truffles are ridiculously expensive! Most of the items at Eataly are a bit beyond our regular shopping budget, but in spite of the crowds, its a fun treat. Seeing the items on sale is also inspiring, especially since we finished a marathon of all 11 seasons of Top Chef on Hulu. The next thing is to figure out what to cook, using Eataly and Top Chef as inspiration! 

Now if only I had at least the usual amount of time to cook as the contestants on Top Chef do...
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