Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Knit One, Watch Two - Scene Two

Hello, Gentle Readers (and Watchers)!  This is the second installment of Knit One, Watch Two.  I hope you find it useful!

Happy - 2011, directed by Roko Belic

This documentary travels the globe in search of the true meaning of happiness and how people define this often elusive aspect of life.  On this journey we find that, across cultures, we are more alike and interconnected than we may have thought, and these similarities could be the key to finding true happiness.

I am not usually one for documentaries, but this one was highly recommended by a friend.  And rightly so.  Just watching Happy brought a smile to my face.  The people who have found contentment and purpose in their lives sent their positive energy to me right through the screen.  Unless you are fluent in many languages, however, you will have to juggle your project and subtitles to get the full stories of some of the people featured, but not the whole time.  I loved that I was doing something that made me feel happy and fulfilled while watching a movie about achieving just such a feeling.  Initially, I thought I was going to be able to use this film as a means of justifying a lazy day of knitting, but it really became more about being in the moment and experiencing the bliss of a simple, productive activity.  I give Happy a hearty rating of KNIT.

Columbus Circle - 2012, starring Selma Blair and Amy Smart

An heiress in hiding, a mysterious death, and a detective with suspicions and questions aplenty, this movie is a nod to the film noir genre of years past.  

I had high hopes for this movie.  I love film noir.  And I love Selma Blair.  But Columbus Circle was plagued throughout with awkward writing and very disappointing acting. The latter, I suspect, is the result of the misguided efforts of a director trying too hard to stay true to the style of past decades and ignoring the sensibilities of present-day audiences.  There were also several improbable circumstances regarding identity and the assumption or erasing thereof (a main theme of the film) that completely ignores the post-9/11 world we now live in.  It was as though the script was originally written as a period piece, but was changed at the last minute to save on costume design.  The good news is, if you must watch it, the plot is mainly dialog driven, so at the very least it will not slow your knitting down too much.  Needless to say, with its overreaching direction and poor writing, I give Columbus Circle a FROG.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Weekend Getaway

Last weekend, Mr. Deep and I took a mini vacation to Folly Beach and Charleston.  When we got back Sunday, we had somehow accumulated a week's worth of sunburns and hangovers in 36 hours, but it was sooooo worth it.  Below are some highlights.  I don't have pictures for everything, but there is the obligatory couples selfie at the bottom.

I found this little cairn so mysterious and unexpected on this overcast and nearly empty beach.  Mr. Deep said it looks huge in the photo, but it's only about 8" high.
The morning started off as overcast, but it was perfect for keeping the heat down and the glare out of our eyes.  The water was cool and jellyfish-free.  The sun did come out after a few hours and we quickly realized we had forgotten our sunscreen, which made it time for a beer...

The Surf Bar at Folly Beach felt like a little Caribbean getaway.  Set a block off the main drag, it was populated at this hour primarily by locals and one sweet yellow dog.  I couldn't believe we were only two hours away from home. 
Mr. Deep, handsome as always.
A perfect hibiscus.

After walking through the shops of questionable souvenirs, we decided it wouldn't be a true beach vacation with a cocktail in hotel beach bar.  Mr. Deep observed that we must have wandered onto the set of an MTV reality show.  The deck was packed with deeply tanned phone-loving college kids who looked like they were drinking their way through last night's hangover on the last weekend of the summer.  It was awesomely entertaining!  Mr. Deep found it the perfect  opportunity to grab a macro-brew and enter it on his Untappd app. (If you are a beer drinker, you should check it out, btw!)  I ended up with some really wonderful concoction made of hibiscus vodka and ginger beer.  Truly lovely.  Afterwards, we took a walk on the pier and saw a pod of dolphins!  It made the souvenir I bought seem downright prophetic.
Here is a Bud Light with the newest addition to my corny keepsake collection (which will be another post altogether someday).

For some reason, all desire to snap photos left me once we were changed and headed to dinner in Charleston.  That said, I have to mention my favorite moments in town:
  • Dinner at Amen Street.  There was spicy shrimp ceviche and a beautifully tender calamari.  I can't wait to go back because I didn't get any oysters (at a raw bar, no less!), and you have to love a place with champagne specials.  

  • After dinner, Mr. Deep led me on what I thought was a goose chase for dessert.  But he had a plan.  He landed us at Charleston Grill, a place he knew I had been to years ago and loved.  We sat in the newly remodeled lounge and listened to jazz.  Our dessert was the spectacular Lemon Meringue Baked Alaska with blueberry sauce.  Oh. My. Heck.  I'll be dreaming about it for months.

  • Our last stop before leaving for home Sunday was to Christophe Artisan Chocolatier.  This is becoming one our rituals when in Charleston.  Their truffles and handpainted chocolates in subtle flavors like blue cheese, earl gray, and lavender caramel are something to behold.  They also have more traditional fare like vanilla bean and raspberry, but they are far from what anybody could call ordinary. 

It was, needless to say, a wonderful trip.  We got to visit with friends we don't see nearly enough and get some summer sand in our hair.  We'll be going back very, very soon.  Oh!  And just so this post continues with the yarny theme of my life, here is a picture of the toe of the sock I made during the drive...

And, of course, the aforementioned selfies (couldn't pick just one)....

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Knit One, Watch Two - Entry the First

This morning, I knew I needed to start thinking about my next blog entry, but all I really wanted to do was watch movies and knit Mr. Deep's socks.  Then it hit me: why not write about that?  I just need to at least minimally veil it as sharing advice and information as opposed to merely keeping my audience abreast of my slacking activities.  Ergo, "Knit one, Watch Two", in which I will share my completely uneducated and off-the-cuff well-formed and highly valid opinions of movies from a variety of genres and how these films contribute to the knitting (or crocheting) experience.  There will be two movies per entry and the reviews, which I will try to keep brief, may or may not be accompanied by details on my current project, imbibables, etc.  I would like to make this a somewhat regular feature of my blog, so I hope you enjoy it.  Therefore, without further ado......

Knit One, Watch Two - Chapter 1

The Awakening (Ooooh...A Scaaaary One....) 2011, starring Rebecca Hall and Dominic West

Despite the evident period-piecey-ness of this movie's cover (is it a cover if it's on a movie?), do not confuse it with the novel of the same name by Kate Chopin.  The Awakening is a classically Gothic ghost tale taking place in post WWI England at a boarding school for boys.  The school is plagued by the supposed phantom of a child rumored to have been murdered on the premises years ago.  Florence Cathcart, a scientist focused on disproving the supernatural, arrives on the scene (after some considerable persuasion) to shake some sense into the hysterical spirit-spiers.  If only it were that easy.... 

I found The Awakening to be wonderfully atmospheric, so much so that I had to scamper off to the kitchen to make a spot of tea. It just felt right. You will not want to miss the beautifully filmed imagery here, so I would suggest a pattern you have already memorized.  And when things get scary (and they do), you will not want to have your nose buried in a complicated chart or rows of abbreviations.  There is a lot of visual information, so let your needles pause here and there to watch the quieter moments of the film.  All in all, I really enjoyed The Awakening and found its dark, misty mood perfect for cozy knitting.  Though not the most original storyline in the world, I find I am more interested in how a tale is told than what last-minute plot twists come about in the end, and The Awakening engaged me at every turn.  I give this film a rating of KNIT.

(Speaking of last-minute plot twists, I have just now decided to rate films KNIT or FROG.  I bet you can tell which means good and which does not.)    

Jesus Henry Christ - 2011, starring Toni Collette, Michael Sheen

Henry James Herman is a freakishly intelligent 10-year-old boy (2nd highest IQ ever recorded!) and product of a sperm donation who is being raised by his understandably neurotic yet totally rockin' single mother.  As most of his family was wiped out in one form or another before he was born, the roots-hungry Henry sets out to find his biological father.  In the process, he and everybody else involved discover more about family ties than they ever expected.  Awwwww....
Normally, the very hint of "heartwarming" sends me running in the opposite direction, but I have to say I loved this movie.  Teetering on the edge of magical realism (my favorite kind of realism), there are some really great images and playfully bizarre (if dark) situations.  And the soundtrack is quite righteous.  For the most part, the film is dialog-driven, so you won't get lost if you have to focus your eyes on your project, but make sure you visually check in often!  Moodwise, this is the perfect film for a hip knit or some vintage-style crochet work.  I give this film a KNIT.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tales from the Road!

Last week, Mr. Deep and I returned from our travels to New Mexico and Colorado.  We attended a wedding in Albuquerque and enjoyed a wonderful visit with friends in Denver and Boulder.  As is my habit and desire, I had to find local yarn shops in the cities we visited and spend my vacation funds therein.  I was delighted to find several well-stocked, beautifully thriving businesses in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Boulder.  Limited time was the only thing keeping me from exploring more shops, and I made a vow to return to see what Taos and Denver have to offer in the way of fiber.  I spoke to shop owners about  experiences with independent dyers and local fiber artists and walked away feeling more inspired and better educated in my chosen field.

Yarn ain't the only thing brewin' in Albuquerque!
One of my favorite moments was when I was in The Yarn Store at Nob Hill in Albuquerque on a hot afternoon.  Several yarn-lovers were wandering through the gorgeously filled shelves where I found myself excitedly extolling the virtues of toe-up sock knitting to a customer.  I found some hanks of locally dyed yarn from Fiesta and checked out the price.  It was quite expensive, but rightly so.  I was encouraged as a fiber artist because the price was reflective of the work and care that goes into the yarn.  But does it sell at that price?  The fella behind the counter said it did very well.  And lo and behold, the woman behind me in line had some in her hand to purchase.  She said it was the only thing she bought.  Validation for the small fiber artist!  This made me so happy!  Unfortunately, the beautiful artisanal yarn was not in my budget (I didn't even expect to find a yarn shop there so easily!), though I did manage to get away with an amazing Malabrigo skein.  However, Mr. Deep and I plan to return soon with a larger yarn budget and more space in the suitcase.
Beautiful yarn, bad picture of the label.

Before heading up to Colorado, we stopped into Santa Fe for breakfast and, across the parking lot, I found surprise yarn!  Yarn & Coffee beckoned to me and I had to answer.  A good-sized co-ed group of knitters was gathered in the small but well-appointed shop.  I was pointed to some locally dyed yarn and fell in love with a skein of Wooly Wonka perfect for Mr. Deep's next pair of socks.  (I'll be ordering that and anther skein by phone this weekend.) The owner gave me the names and cards of other yarn shops in the area.  I loved the sense of community this small jewel of a store exuded. On my next swing-through, I'm definitely setting aside time for a cup of coffee and a knitting break.

Mr. Deep and I spent most of our vacation in the Boulder/Denver area, but, as Mr. Deep is very well-loved and was in great demand among his friends, I only had time to visit one yarn store, Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins, which had been suggested to me days before by a friend who lives in the area.  This shop specializes in spinning and weaving as well as yarn! After
My stash enhancement from Boulder, CO.
an hour of roaming between the shelves, and sending a few picture texts to Mr. Deep and his friends to help with the decision process, I was able to narrow my choices down to two gorgeous skeins, including one from local dyer Sunshine Yarns and one special edition shade from Dream in Color.  I also got some well-received advice regarding the business of being a dyer.  They practically had to kick me out as every turn inspired another potential project in my head and, therefore, another yarn I wanted to buy.

At the end of my bi-state "yarn tour", I walked away with two thoughts.  One was that I am so excited to go forward as a small independent fiber dyer. I felt that there were people who appreciate the artistry and hard work that goes into the fiber arts.  The other sentiment I had was that any community that has one local yarn store (or two or three, even!) is so fortunate.  Each store I visited had a sense of community and support, not just with regulars but even with a traveler just blowing through town.  I can't wait to revisit these stores and discover others in the area.  If you have a LYS in your area, visit it, patronize it, join the knitting/crochet groups that are offered.  These places are treasures. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's the Little Things...

There are two things that happen simultaneously when summer hits.  The most notable to me and those who know me is that my knitting productivity takes a sudden nosedive.  I mean, it's hot.  It feels like an eternity before I will be able to wear those wool socks I've been stashing away patterns for, and Mr. Deep won't even glance at his hat once the temperature goes above 65F.  The second thing that occurs to me during the warmer months is that I have a TON of tiny balls of high-quality yarn crouched at the bottom of project bags and stash drawers.  Beautiful fibers in exquisite colors languishing away after the bulk of their volume has been used in one creation or another.

So, where does one turn?  Tiny projects.  Things you don't have to wear made from (often expensive) yarn you already have.  Of course, we all know about coffee cup sleeves and key chain fobs, and I will probably do blog entries about both of those down the road.  But where else can we show off our mad yarn skills with the bits and pieces begging to be used?  I found a few tiny projects (all free!) on Ravelry that I found inspirational, fun, unique, and perfect for warm weather.  Some of these require very little yarn, so you can make several in different colors for yourself or for quirky little gifts.  I added the link to the blog or page of the oroginal contributor whenever possible.

I found these little ornaments so charming!  They use a ridiculously small amount of yarn, but you will have to get some craft mirrors first.  Year round, they add a touch of the exotic to handbags, ceiling light pulls, perhaps even gently swaying wind chimes.  Check out the pattern at Duo Fiberworks and take a look at their shop while you're at it!


Who doesn't love a finger puppet?!  I pick them up every now and then at craft fairs for myself (no kids in the Skein Deep household yet.)  And for those of you with tots out of school to manage, you really can't have too many fibery little characters to keep them busy story-building and role-playing.  The blog Inspired has an easy-peasey pattern for these little guys.  And you can let the kids help choose the hair, faces, and so on for added "what do we do now?" summertime solutions.

These are so cute it's ridiculous.  It you love to dress up your knitting tools with more knitting (and I know I do!), these quick little needle sweaters are right up your alley.  If you are giving needles as gifts, these are a great way to add a little something special.  They're also great for keeping idle needles together in your project bag.  No more hunting for mates, yes?  I have no idea where they find those amazingly adorable tiny buttons, but you can find the pattern for the needle jackets at Yarn Over, Knit 2 Together.

I love these bunting triangles.  Check out the Ravelry page  to see more color combinations.  The idea of just going hog-wild with your small colorful stashballs (I'm coining that word, by the way) is really appealing.  If they are made out of washable yarn, that's even better for years of outdoor party decor.  Swing by Crochet Again to see the pattern.

Not just for Easter, these Tumbling Bunnies posted by Simply Notable are perfect for tossing at the park, the office, and just about anywhere flying bunnies are not a public safety concern.  They are also cute just sitting around!  Imagine the colors you could bestow upon these little guys.  You could even stripe them if you are extremely limited in yardage. 

So, pull out those stashballs (there, I said it again!), sit yourself in front of a fan with a cool beverage of your choice, and whip up these short-attention-span-worthy projects for summer.  If you have another idea or two for small summery projects, please feel free to post below.  The more the merrier!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Love Means Second Chances....

This will not be the last time I say this: I can't get enough yarn.  One of the reasons I got into spinning and dyeing fiber is that I love yarn as it is, not just for what I can create from it.  I have so very many skeins of unknitted beauties, but I have no qualms with letting them stay that way for a long while.  Just the string itself is enough for me (well, at times, at least).  Lately, due to financial limits, I haven't been able to buy yarn like I used to.  And when I opened my shop, I needed to get it stocked with quality goods for my customers. Then, coming across a rather unsightly second-hand sweater made with lovely wool fiber, I remembered the fondness many of my yarnie brothers and sisters have for recycled yarn.  And their affection is well founded.

A few recycled treasures from my shop!
If you are recycling the yarn yourself, you will find a wealth of stash-worthy garments if you know what tolook for.  Fiber content and care is generally on the tag at the neck or side seam.  Get educated and entertained here if you look at a sweater and it doesn't just unravel itself before your eyes.  If you don't mind the work, you will be amazed at how much yardage you will get with minimal monetary investment.

If you are more of a purchaser than a harvester, reclaimed yarn has a green aspect, too! Yarn recycled by the small business craftster uses minimal energy.  More man- or woman-power than electricity goes into the unraveling of knitted goods (unless you count Netflix or the radio playing in the background).  Thousands of yards can be steeped in just a few gallons of water with no-rinse wool soak, and many recyclers air-dry the skeins.  When you purchase recycled yarn, you are supporting a small business as well as keeping things kosher for the planet.  It's win, win, win, win, and win. 

So, here is some love to my Etsy brethren who specialize in recycled yarn and lovely objects made from it...

Beautiful cotton reclaimed by  FunYarn

The Blue Coat recycled a sweater for this beautiful pillow.
Soft fluffiness from Sticks 'n Twigs

Love knits but the summer is too hot?  Poison Ivy Designs has the solution.

Today's "Awwwww Factor" Award goes to Anni Threadz. :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dreaming in Color

Color.  It speaks to me more than shape or function.  I will take a turquoise refrigerator over a more practical white or stainless steel.  I want a Prius more because I love that pale dragonfly green color than the fuel efficiency.  I loathe white walls (unless, of course, they are used to set off colorful room furnishings).  I love modern art of  the styles that include arresting shades and hues, transmitting messages on a level more basic that pictures or words.  I will never have one of hose sophisticated urban wardrobes I always admire from afar because limiting my color to "pops" and accessories just never pans out by the time I leave the shop.

Pantone loves to make a suggestion....
Enter Pantone.  I had always associated Pantone with paint chips and website design, somehow confusing it with hex code.  Never ever did I suspect that it is one of the coolest, most exciting entities out there.  My first clue came about six months ago when I was browsing in a local gourmet shop and came across a simple mug sporting a beautiful shade of pink identified as No. 7432.  Now, I know I am not exactly the most up-to-date on what's going on in the Weberverse, and  have since discovered that Pantone products, everything from journals and iPhone cases to cufflinks and keyrings have been around for years.  A Pantone cosmetic line is available at Sephora.  And, proving they not only define what a color is, but how it influences what we will be seeing in magazines and on runways, Pantone announces a Color of the Year (this year is Emerald and one of my most favorite shades of green).

So, now that I have found Pantone to be stalk-worthy, what's a yarn-dyer to do?  Well, besides making a pledge to buy up every color of mug and nail polish Pantone puts out, I will try to perfect this most amazing shade of green before 2014's color is announced.  As a color junkie, I consider it my duty.  Also, I will be seeking artistic inspiration from some of the delicious new color combinations being designed willy-nilly out there in the world.  But for the here and now, in honor of color No. 17-5641, I will share a few of my favorite Emerald-graced from Etsy.  Enjoy!
I fell in love with this clutch from Lost in Time, Inc. 
Clever cards and invitations by Wendy Sue Paperie.
I can't not include this beautiful yarn by Zibeline Knits.
Mrs. Robinson's Affair used one of my favorite stones in these earrings.
This little nymph from KooKooCraft is just so freakin' cute!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Ventures....

I really wanted the first post on Skein Deep's blog to be about the excitement of starting something new and my love for yarn and knitting..  That will still happen.  However, while revisiting a project that had been hiding a drawer for two years (I had really forgotten it existed), I was taken back to the feelings I had when I first started knitting.  I think the lessons attached to those feelings are important ones to hang onto going forward both in business and in any craft.
Not my sock!

I started the sock below about two years ago, as mentioned above.  It is the ineffably elegant Belle Vitini pattern (at right) by Kristi Geraci (found on Ravelry).  I fell in love with the cathedral-like lace pattern and the fascinating challenge it promised.  I used what I can now only guess is Araucania Ranco Solid in what I assume is Teal, but it looks a bit lighter than the pictures I saw online.  Anyway, I don't remember much in the was of emotional association with this sock (and, if you've been knitting for a while, you know emotional association with socks is a very real thing), but I do recall upon finishing the first of the pair a) a feeling of success and b) a need to put it aside because I was not ready to go through that again so soon.  Two years later....

While digging through my stash I came across the finished sock in its completed glory.  (For some reason, I had made it short, but who cares.) By some freakish stroke of luck, in another area of my stash altogether, I found the remaining yarn (minus tag, of course).  I even remembered the needles I used and knew exactly where to find those, too!  It was fated!  And, Gentle Reader, two years had passed.  Not only was I already half-way to a new pair of beautiful lacy socks appropriate for springtime, but I had also been growing my talent as the farmer grows his tender crops! Oh, praise the the knitting gods!!!

My sock! (the first one)
Yesterday, I picked up my tiny size-1 needles and the still generous ball of aqua yarn.  I cast on the first row and managed to not twist (it had been a while since I have lately fallen in love with the toe-up methods).  So, good start.  Then, long story short, some other stuff happened. There were dropped stitches, overly twisted yarn, and misreadings of a pattern that began to swim before my eyes. "Balls" (my milder swear word of choice under these circumstances), said I as my work slipped off my preternaturally slippery needles.

Then knit got real.

After the first spate of cabling, I held my work at arms length and let it fall to the bed in an act of finality.

I was eight rows in and over it.

Mr. Deep witnessed this rare act of voluntary knit-pausing and said, "So, you're done, huh?"  "Yes," I replied. "For Today."

That was a long post to get to the point, but here it is: We get frustrated and we want to quit.  All of us.  But I think the difference between the beginning and the experienced knitter (or anything, for that matter) is that the experienced also have felt the success of a finished project, the pride of conquering a new challenge.  It just takes time to get there, to let the successes rack up against the frustrations.  And it's okay to throw your knitting against a wall.  Just make sure there the dog's water bowl isn't there to catch it when it falls (that's really good advice if you're paying attention).

I will finish that sock.  And soon.  I'm already eyeing it and wishing I had the rest of the day to work on it.  I thought that I had this crazy 3-way cabling thing mastered because I did it years ago, but I bet I found it even more infuriating back then.  But now I get to (re)learn a new skill.  And, besides, I'm half-way (plus 8 rows) to the end.