Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bay Area Yarn Stores - Any Recommendations?

I received an email from Midori, who is coming to California and wants to know what yarn stores I can recommend. If you live in-state and can contribute to the list, please add your picks in the comment section.

These are the stores I know about in the Bay Area.

San Francisco

Artfibers - I absolutely love this store! The yarn they carry is manufactured for their store alone. They allow you to sample the yarns before you buy them; you can park yourself in their sitting area and knit up a swatch from the yarn samples they have. You can learn more about Artfibers through this review.

I have to admit, with the exception of Artfibers, I have not shopped for yarn in San Francisco. I have heard good things about Noe Knit. The review from Knitter's Review. If you find yourself in the Castro District, you may want to drop in on ImagiKnit. I only know about this store by word of mouth and this review.

East Bay

Article Pract is easily my hands-down favorite yarn store in the East Bay, if not the entire Bay Area! I know I am not alone in this thought, as the store is frequently mentioned in glowing terms in the Bay Area blogs that I read. Article Pract has a great selection of yarn, no matter what your price point is, and I've never gotten that "yarn store attitude" thrown at me. They are located in the Temescal section of Oakland, on the Oakland/Berkeley border. Another great feature of this neighborhood is Bakesale Betty, which is just a few doors down!

On the rare occasions that Article Pract doesn't have what I am seeking (and I need it right away), I have also dropped in on the following stores:

Stash - located on Berkeley's Solano Avenue, which is a great street to explore. You can spend the day poking around the boutiques, drinking coffee at Peet's, and eating pizza at Zachary's. Oh, but this was supposed to be about the yarn...Here's another blogger's review of Stash.

Knit This, Purl That! - located just off Main Street in Pleasanton, this store has a little bit of everything. If you like Noni patterns, you can find most of them here.

Most of my yarn buying is restricted to the East Bay, but I have also heard a lot about the following stores:
North Bay - Marin Fiber Arts located in San Rafael. I haven't had a chance to go to this store, but you can see what's in stock on the store's blog.

Peninsula - Nine Rubies Knitting located in San Mateo. I haven't made it to this store, either, but I've heard good things about it. I've met some of their employees while taking classes at Article Pract.

That's the end of my list, can you think of any I need to add?

Monday, July 23, 2007

More Reading, Less Knitting

Not a whole lot to report on the knitting front. I've been taking a break from MS3 to work on a tank from Knitting Lingerie Style. I figure, since I'm part of the knit along group, I should probably be knitting something from the book! As for the coffee cozy, it is still on my "to do" list (no, I didn't knit the one in the picture!)

I spent Saturday morning impatiently waiting for the UPS guy to deliver THE BOOK. Yeah, you know the one....

Heh, heh, look what's happening to the countdown widget....

I spent most of the weekend reading it. The only thing I have to say on the matter is this: all will be revealed.

Want to Get Sorted? How geeky am I?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Crazy About the Coffee Cozy

I don't have that many vices, but I am well known as a coffee fiend. I really find this funny, since I usually only drink one latte a day. O.K., it's a triple venti, but I nurse that baby along! When you are slowly sipping from a rather large cup, it tends to get a little cold. The solution? A coffee cup cozy! I knitted one for my coffee swap partner (here it is in action!). I found the pattern here. A picture of her finished product. I knit it a bit longer than the original pattern, because I tend to drink larger cups of coffee.

As I was catching up on my blog reading the other week, I came across this version created by MK Carroll. Go look! Isn't it great? It may take me a while, but I'm definitely going to have to knit the French press version. You've probably seen some of MK's patterns online. She's the genius behind sushi for the bathroom, this little beauty that I crocheted for my mom, and she was published in SNB Nation (Head Huggers, Mobile Monsters)/SNB Crochet (Ladylike Lace Gloves).

Other coffee cup cozies:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


It seems that every other blog I look at these days is either announcing their invitation to join Ravelry, or where they are on the waiting list. The buzz seems to rival the upcoming Harry Potter.

I just checked my place in line. Guess I should have signed up sooner.

You are #12099 on the list.
6027 people are ahead of you in line.
6023 people are behind you in line.
32% of the list has been invited so far

Random Fact #1

I have never been tagged for a meme, so I'm just going to throw out random facts about myself here and there (like I haven't done that already!)

Random Fact of the Day: I have lived in Brazil on two separate occasions.

The first time I lived in Rio de Janeiro, about two blocks and a canal away from Ipanema. My dad was a troubleshooter for a multinational accounting firm, so we were transferred there. I spent my junior high (6th-8th grade) years here. I learned to speak Portuguese by watching the dubbed versions of "Hogan's Heroes," "The Six Million Dollar Man," and the "Monkees" (for the record, Lee Majors sounded sexier in Portuguese). I had a blast living there. Well, except for the times when I was locked up in the apartment during Carnival, while my parents and older sister went out to party. I managed to have fun anyway, staying up all night watching the parades on TV, making mini-pizzas in the toaster oven, and climbing up on top of the washing machine so I could watch the sunrise.

The second time I moved in Brazil, I lived in Sao Paulo with my (then) husband, a Brazilian citizen (but Taiwanese national). To this day, I describe that city as New York City on steroids. It is huge...ginormous even. In the sixteen years that I was away, Brazil had changed quite a bit. Satellite/cable TV had arrived and I could watch shows in English (with subtitles). I no longer had to bring American food in my suitcase (or cozy up to the military kids for PX contraband); if I wanted Ruffles, I could just go down to the corner store and get them. McDonald's seemed to be everywhere, which was kind of amazing to me, since my sister played in the band for the opening of the very first McDonald's in Brazil. They infiltrated the nation in less than seventeen years. In some ways, I found that development to be kind of sad. On one hand, life is easier for the expatriate, but on the other hand, they miss out on so much. I taught in an American school and couldn't help feeling bad for the other American teachers. Some of them only hung out with Americans, went home to watch TV in English, and barely ate Brazilian food. Boy, they missed out on so much.
Why am I babbling on incessantly about Brazil today? Because of this post in the Technicolor Kitchen, a blog written in both Portuguese and English. When I read it, I end up missing all the foods I used to eat, or else I start saying, "Hey, I remember that!" She has some recipes for things I love to eat (but am too lazy to make), like empadinhas and pastel. Today's post made me want to jump on a plane and head back to Brazil. Pudim de leite (condensed milk custard) is a lot like creme caramel/caramel custard, but denser. It is also one of my all time favorite desserts. Unfortunately, I can't eat it for a while (diet), so I end up drooling over it and writing about Brazil.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Yesterday was a good day. A day that I was able to say, "Finally!" a few times.

I finally finished Chart A of Mystery Shawl #3. Here's proof!
I'm using Zephyr wool/silk in charcoal. The hematite colored beads are from my favorite bead store, Baubles and Beads in Berkeley.

My sister and I took advantage of her day off and finally made it to Point Reyes Station. My brother in law wasn't teaching (he's a tennis pro), so we dragged him along. We had a late lunch at the Station House Cafe; I succumbed to their peer pressure and had the Station House burger, fries, and the three berry pie. (I'm thinking that if I write it smaller, I'll feel less guilt. Oh, who am I kidding? It was mighty fine pie!)

After lunch, we ambled around the main drag for a bit. I peeked into Black Mountain Artisans, where they had a small selection of hand spun/dyed yarns, but sadly, no sock yarn. We also visited a great store called Zuma, where I bought a little bag that is just large enough to keep a sock project safe. It's made out of Thai silk, so it should "fancy up" my plain old "vanilla" sock knitting (no fancy patterns for me until the shawl is finished).
We finished up our little trip with a visit to the Cowgirl Creamery. My sister has been getting into artisan cheeses, so she was in heaven! We each ended up buying some to take back home.

When I got home, my old cat finally decided to leave her favorite mattress pad and come hang out with me on the couch. She doesn't do that nearly enough, now that the new cat is on the scene.
Like I said, yesterday was a good day.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Mystery Shawl is Kicking My....

I think it's official. I'm the slowest of the slow bees on Mystery Shawl #3. The third clue came out today and I am still on clue one, Chart A. On the bright side, I'm beginning to appreciate purling now. It's the only mindless thing on those charts!

I have a strong suspicion that I'm in a knitting funk right now. I'm just not feeling the love. MS#3 is going at a snail's pace, as is a tank top I'm knitting from Knitting Lingerie Style. I really wish I was a faster knitter like some of my fellow knit bloggers. I mean, you look at their blog one day and they're just casting on for something, then whiz-bang it's finished and blocked! I find myself thinking, "How'd they get that done that fast?" I hope that it's a case of practice makes perfect. Yeah, that's the ticket! I think I'll go put "Finding Nemo" on and start chanting, "Just keep knitting, just keep knitting,..."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mystery Stole #3 & UFO's

I joined the Mystery Stole #3 crowd with great intentions of dedicating myself to one project and sticking to it. I bought some great black lace yarn, started swatching, and began to think, "Yeah, not so happy." Black lace yarn + astigmatism = blurred vision. I should have known I was in trouble when I reached for my glasses on the second row of the test swatch! By the fifth row, even they were not helping much. I think I need a new prescription. I've started over, using JaggerSpun Zephyr in charcoal (a lovely dark grey). My eyes are much happier now. Since I'm so far behind, I've joined the Slow Bees.Like the badge? Bonne Marie of Chic Knits made it! It's nice to know that I'm in such good company. Makes me feel that I can do this! (I think I can, I think I get the drift)

My issues with the black yarn made me procrastinate (procrastiknit?) with MS3, so I have started to dig out some UFO's. I finally finished the knitting on my Noni bag. Unfelted, I think it will fit my yoga mat. I have a front loading washing machine, so I think I will stockpile all my "need to felt" projects and do them all at the same time. I'll probably have better results that way. I wonder if throwing in a pair of old tennis shoes with the lot will help everything felt better...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Knitters Are Good People

I love how knitters answer the call when it is put out to them. I've been seeing that called answered a lot in the past few weeks....

Most of you probably know about Annie Modesitt's husband by now. She's offering a pattern for a donation to help offset the costs of her husband's care. Main Street Yarn & Fibers has also set up the We Love Annie website in support. (Check out their Six Weeks of Socks Contest!)

Then there's Digit the Wondercat. (A picture of a recovering Digit). It looks like his needs are now taken care of, so Milo and the Best Friends Animal Society will now benefit from the overflow.

If your philanthropy comes from your needles, might I suggest Wee Angels? The Knitting Contessa has created a giving opportunity aimed at helping families who have lost newborns.

Yup, knitters are good people.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Rivers Ran White

For some reason, I have been thinking a lot about past summers lately. Maybe it's because I was watching Live Earth today. Talk about a walk down memory lane. I remember seeing half of the acts that played today on stage for Live Aid in the summer of 1985 (it was on MTV when they still played music). This time, the cause is different, yet still (if not more) urgent; it's readily apparent to anyone paying attention that the climate is changing.

When I was a child, a river caught fire and an environmental movement began. I grew up during a very idealistic time; we were going to clean up the pollution and stop the polluters (we were also going to live in perfect harmony, with a Coke and a smile, but I digress). It's hard to believe that we are still facing the same issues today that we were forty years ago. Only now, thanks to development in third world countries, it's on a global level.

Nineteen summers ago, I backpacked across China. Life was different then; before the economic boom of the '90's, most of the population still rode bikes or packed into buses like sardines. But the warning signs were already there: I saw rivers that were greenish white, due to all the dumping, and coal dust was everywhere (especially in my hair after train trips--you know it's bad when you have to wash your hair 3 times before the water runs clear & not black).

So what do we do? Any little thing we can. Why? Because wearing our handknits is nicer when it's cooler!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Public Service Announcement?

I don't think that this would really qualify as a P.S.A., but Knit Picks is having a summer book sale (40% off - sock books, here I come!). Just thought you should know....

Driving Me Crazy

I can put pictures on the sidebar. I can make hyper-links to other sites. But for the life of me, I can't get the little pictures in the Html so they become buttons! It is truly maddening. Aaargh! What the [blank] am I doing wrong? I've tried posting the pictures on flickr and taking the url, I've put the picture in my own blog entry so I could click on it and get the url that way, but to no avail. Every time I insert the code, nothing happens, bupkis! Oy, it's driving me crazy. Suggestions? (Pretty please!)

Just Tell Me That I Won't Go Blind

It's official - I'm a joiner. After teetering on the fence, I signed on to knit along with the group at Mystery Stole #3. I signed up a little late in the game, as Clue #1 was already out. Amimonogatari's pictures did me in. I had to try it!

The first clue suggested using either white or black yarn if we wanted to stick with the theme of the shawl. Since most of my lace yarn is some shade of red, I just had to go online to get more wool! (Hey, it was 11p.m. on Monday, my favorite store was closed!)

Boy, ships quickly! When I saw this petite little box today, I had my doubts that my whole order fit into it (The SPAM can is there for scale; it's a collector's edition, I'm not going to eat it!) But fit it tell me that I won't go blind knitting with black lace wool!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Yes Virginia, Miracles Do Happen!

Have You Heard About Digit? A few months ago, Yarn-A-Go-Go's beloved cat Digit disappeared. When I read this in her blog, I cried. I know what it's like (and how rare it is) to have a true "cat of my heart." Then last week, something amazing happened. Go look, I'll wait. . . If you clicked on the "Main" portion of her blog, you'll see that she's been taking donations for his care; anything raised above that amount will go to the Milo Foundation (where I got Zoey, but she was called "Sheba" back then) and the Best Friends Animal Society. An added bonus: you may win one of her hand knit sweaters!

Have a Happy Fourth!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

More Blog Things

I never had much faith in these things, until I read the description.

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh." I get that from my dad, the ringmaster for our family circus. Funny, the other clown in the family (my sister) taught me how to make snapdragons "sing" by squeezing the sides of the flower in (It's really fun to make them sing Motown). It takes so little to amuse us in our family.


I'm trying to take a break from swaps. Don't get me wrong - I have received some wonderful gifts from my swap partners (Hi Cece! Hi Carol!) The thing is, I was getting a little overzealous about swaps. I was a little like the dog in the Snausages commercials - but instead of saying, "Snausages," I was saying, "New swap, new swap." I swear, even my hind end wiggled. Very Pavlovian response (can you tell I want a dog?). Last week, I showed some restraint; I narrowly avoided signing up for the Dog Days of Summer dishcloth swap. Just as I was breathing a sigh of relief, I saw this: Sign ups for Secret Pal 11 have started. I am in such trouble....
Yes, I did sign up, but in my defense, I've wanted to be in this swap since Secret Pal 5! The only thing that stopped me then was the fact that I was blogless. Guess that excuse won't work anymore...

My Comments on Comments

I never know exactly where to respond to comments. Sometimes I reply in the comment section, other times I leave comments in the commenter's blog. I'm not always quick with my replies, but I am thankful for the help you've given me with my knitting, the laughter some of your comments incite, and the overall friendliness of knitting bloggers. It's nice to be in this community!

For those who comment, a few words to you:

To Elaine (Kim-Chi Crafts), Blogger e-mails your comments to me and I'm constantly cracking up while reading them -- especially that day (you know the one) when you filled up my mailbox! You wouldn't be telling me about the Panda Wool because it was your staff pick this month, would you? I hope to bump into you one day at Article Pract!

To Tina (The Knitting Contessa), you make me smile, you make me laugh! Thanks for your support with the sock. The good sock zen helped :-) Because of you, I now listen to podcasts when I work out. I hope your EZ Pi shawl continues to be knitterly bliss! (I'm going to write about your special project in a separate post).

To Alicia (Ponyknit), Thank you for the comments! I see we share the same love of swaps (are we in trouble, or what?) By the way, I love the mittens!

To Enna (Loose Yarn and UFO's) Thanks for your support for my house hats! For Slytherin, I used this join, but managed to mess it up a bit somehow (whoops!). Blocking performed its usual miracle. I will conquer that jogless jog yet!

To Midori (Amimonogatari), I hope to be as a fearless knitter like you are one day! (A cabled hat as a first knitting project? Clapotis as your second? Rewriting the Pomatomus pattern to fit your feet? You rock!) You inspired me to join in Mystery Shawl 3. I only hope my results are as good as yours!

And finally, to my spoiler from the Knitter's Virtual Vacation Swap, I did receive your email!

Monday, July 2, 2007

No Blogging = More Knitting

This weekend, I actually finished some things:

Hat #2 for the Charmed Knits knit along

I was so excited on Saturday, because I finally finished my first sock! I had to try it on and share it with Zoey. She rubbed up against it for about a minute, before trying to eat my ankle.

My instructor told us to cast on for the second sock within a week of completing the first one. I don't even thing I waited an hour. I have a pair of Clover mini-needles that I was aching to use. I have very small hands and the mini needles helped me speed through the cuff in no time. Actually, the second sock was a very quick knit; I was so determined to get it done, I even took it to the gym and knit the gusset and part of the foot while cycling on the recumbent bicycle (It's a women's gym--they've seen it before!). I think I understand the draw of sock knitting now.

First pair

My sister and I were supposed to go to Point Reyes on Friday, but she got a little flaky on me and we ended up going to buy plants at Annie's Annuals and Berkeley Hort. Since our plans changed, we also went to Stash. I was looking for short Crystal Palace DPN's for knitting socks, but no luck...I couldn't leave empty handed, so I had to buy yarn instead!

Gee, do you think I like red and berry colors? I have been wanting to buy some Malabrigo for the longest time; I finally broke down and bought two skeins of the lace-weight in the Pagoda colorway (the vermilion color is actually from Article Pract). At less than $9 per skein for 470 yards, I think I can justify it as a good deal. I also picked up some Panda Cotton (must knit more socks) and a skein of Rowan Calmer (it will be a chemo cap for a friend).