Wednesday, April 30, 2008

On The Road Again

Thanks for all of your wonderfully supportive comments with regard my last post!  My car has been fixed and looks perty again.  I still feel like an idiot, but I'm trying to cut my overworked boo-tay some slack.  I guess my three jobs, incessant travel, never-ending custody battle and out of work husband are finally chipping away at my tenuous hold on sanity.  I'm stretched a bit thin right now to be sure.  However, thanks be to God for yarn!  If I didn't have crocheting and knitting (and spinning, dyeing and weaving) I'd be a candidate for a rubber room at this point!
Speaking of incessant travel, I have a date with a plane again in two weeks.  Yes, my tube travel can again be attributed to job numero uno, my main gig.  This upcoming trip will take me to London and Paris.  I know that I've said this before, but I actually plan to have a bit of fun while in Europe as my time away has me straddling two weekends enabling me to (i) check out the local yarn and (ii) blow through a few tourist attractions.  Yay!
Traveling as much as I do means that packing has become a regular feature of my life.  Here are some of my tips for traveling smart and crafty!
First and foremost, let's hear it for light luggage!  About a year ago, prior to traveling to the Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester, NH (read – I needed a bigger bag to hold all of my class supplies and yarn purchases), I decided that it was time to trade in my large, heavy suitcase in favor of a lighter model of similar dimensions for use on those trips lasting longer than a few days.  My old bag weighed in at about 25 lbs when empty!  Needless to say, I was always over the limit when checking the stupid thing.  Now I have a featherweight model that weighs in at less than 7 lbs. when empty.  Much better!
Second, but of just as much as importance as the luggage factor, is this burning inquiry (which I ask myself each and every time I travel, oh by the way)…How much yarn is enough yarn to keep me busy while in transit, but not so much yarn that I have to dedicate my entire carry-on to the "fuzz factor"?  Yeah, well, I've come up with no good formula with which to answer this question.  So, I usually err on the side of paranoia, shoving two to three WIPs into my squat little roller bag adjacent to my beloved Mac each and every time I hit the road.  Really, it's dumb and I need to get a grip.  However, the thought of not being able to knit or crochet when entombed in a tube freaks me the hell out!  Okay, so this wasn't so helpful…Movin' right along.
Third, cords anyone?  Really, should any shenanigans take place aboard the aircraft, I am prepared to wrestle the offending individual to the ground and hog tie 'em with all of the electronic device cords that I'm forced to carry onto the plane.  Really.  My cord inventory is as follows: Blackberry power cord, cell phone power cord, digital camera power cord, digital camera USB cord, iPod USB cord, MacBook power cord (2 of these – one for the wall and one for the plane) and a host of adapters for international travel.  If I run out of cords mid-hog tie, I can always dip into my carry-on yarn stash or just start hurling adapters.   
These tips aren't exactly helpful, are they?  Alrighty then!
Fourth, are these shoes really made for walking?  Next to the yarn yardage factor, the travel shoe issue is another that confounds moi, oh, every single time I travel.  I don't know about you, but I have, quite literally, an entire shoe store in my closet.  And here's the kicker, only a few pairs out of the hundreds that I have available to my toe tips are suitable for wearing longer than oh, let's say…20 minutes. 
Peeps, I'm a girl!  We buy shoes because they look good, not because they feel good!  Comfort, schmomfort!  It's all about sexy toes, especially when it comes to strolling around the halls of the Cube Farm.  Therein lies the problem.  When I'm traveling for fun, a couple of pairs of my most comfortable shoes are usually sufficient.  Throw in a pair of heels for good measure and I'm set.  Add in the work factor and I'm screwed!  Many more variables.  This suit looks best with those pumps, while that dress looks super cute with those flats.  You get my drift.  Jeans are so much easier to pair with shoes.  Ahhhh.  Note to self, make sure to do a little shoe shopping this week on your lunch hour...
Not helpful?  Yeah, I'm just hoping that I'm not making you anxious about your next trip…
Okay, here's good travel tip…Fifth, got a stack of Netflix DVDs that you've yet to watch and a laptop that you plan to travel with?  Watch your rentals on the plane or while in the hotel.  Usually beats the in-flight entertainment and you'll avoid those pesky movie charges on your hotel bill!  I wish that I could take credit for this brilliant idea, but alas, I cannot.  This one is all Jenna!  She travels a lot too.  Actually, I should probably consult her about my shoe-yarn-excessive cordage issues as well…
Hey, two outta five ain't bad.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Week In The Life...

Yes, my silence has been deafening over the past week.  Let's just say my previous week went southward following the Sunday market excursion.
Monday began a hectic work week. It sucks, but it's also familiar.  I have been digging out of the fiscal year end madness that overtook the cube farm shortly after the holidays ended.  Really, it feels like year end 365 days a year at this point.  However, as I said before, this is not unusual.  I imbibe pot loads of caffeine, knit and/or crochet on my lunch hours to decompress from the morning craziness and well, cocktails are a regular part of my evening routine.
Tuesday began as any other...uh, groggy and partially caffeinated.  However, this morning differed in that I was heading over to my doctor's office for an early morning appointment before embarking upon my daily toils at the cube farm.  Aside from the fact that I hadn't been feeling all that well, this excursion seemed normal enough.  That is, until I pulled into the parking lot of the medical building...
I drove up to the ticket dispenser and gave the button a push.  When the ticket appeared I found that I was sitting too low to reach the slip of paper.  So, obviously not thinking the following action through, with my foot securely on the brake (or so I thought), I released my seat belt and leaned out the window of my vehicle. 
You can guess what happened next. 
Oh yeah, my foot slipped off the brake pedal and onto the gas pedal sending me careening headlong into parking barrier gate! 
But wait, there's more... 
I didn't just merely tap the barrier.  Oh no!  When I break something, I do the job right!
Yeah, I mowed that barrier down and pushed it about, oh, 8 feet or so before I was able to get my foot back onto the brake.  Now that?  Takes talent.
Needless to say, I was in shock and just a wee bit embarrassed as this occurred in a street level lot on one of the busiest corners in Los Angeles.  Resisting the urge to flee, I pulled into one of the first available parking spaces and proceeded into the medical building to (i) confess my barrier gate demo, (ii) find a receptacle to barf in and (iii) partake in one the most expensive doctor's visit in history!  With those items checked off my list, I gave the hubs a holler to let him know how I spent my morning.  He immediately came to my rescue, driving me to work and my car to the body shop.
Love the hubs.
Upon arrival at the cube farm, I took a conference call, closed my office door after the call's completion and cried.
Yeah, Tuesday?  Could've been better.
Onto Wednesday. 
LadyLinoleum, what do you do to unwind after mowing down your local parking barrier and totally screwing up the front end of your Beemer? 
I went to Disneyland!
I should also be noted that I wore Pirates of the Caribbean Mickey Ears the entire day while attempting not to let the previous day's events ruin my time at the happiest place on earth.  Definitely a difficult task.
Thursday and Friday were uneventful as compared to the former half of the week.  Days spent toiling away at the cube farm, eves mired in a few magazine design projects.  Hey, life marches on right?
By Saturday, my nerves had come down a notch or two.  I spent most of the day at a LYS in South Pasadena teaching the ways of the hook.  Sunday seemed almost normal, my girl, Jenna, and I spending the whole day dipping yarn in dye. 
Okay, last week?  Yeah, a little tough.  I did learn a few things though, not the least of which was that I need to become one with my parking brake. 
Here's to a better Tuesday this week!  

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Market Sunday

The hubs and I spent Sunday morning perusing an LA landmark, the Grand Central Market, located in Downtown Los Angeles.

Earlier that morning we searched in vain for a restaurant we intended to try in an adjacent neighborhood to Downtown. We drove around for a good 45 minutes before giving up and heading straight for our ultimate destination. There we were met with plenty of eateries to partake in. We chose to give Tacos Tumbras a Tomas a try because they had the longest line. Rule of thumb...When you're looking for something good to eat in territories less than familiar, always follow the crowd!

Both the hubs and I settled into a couple of tortas. For him, birria. For me, fave. Yes, we all know I have a fondness for pork. Although, I try not to eat it often because I have to watch my girlish figure...It's okay to indulge every now and again though. Hence my lovely and delicious Mexican pork sandwich...

The tortas were typically huge and truly I could only eat half. Warm roll piled high with fresh ingredients and a mountain of pork, this sandwich hit the spot following our little driving expedition earlier that morning.

Tummies topped off, it was all about the shopping. Produce shopping that is...

We came away with bananas, beets, garlic, broccoli, carrots, yams, cilantro, lettuce, blueberries and even a cherimoya! In addition, we also acquired a generous amount of dried ancho chiles, roasted and seasoned pumpkin seeds, Mexican hot chocolate and handfuls of dried fruits. All of this cost about $20!

Definitely worth the trek from Westside to Eastside. My other half confirms this notion with a smile for the camera!

What a great was to spend a Sunday morning!

Grand Central Market
317 South Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Tacos Tumbras a Tomas
Grand Central Market, Space A-5

Friday, April 18, 2008

Danish Serape?

What does LadyLinoleum get when she pairs some of her lovely hand dyed yarn with the Traditional Danish Tie-Shawl pattern from the latest issue of Spin-Off mag?

Nothing short of a Danish Serape!

Both bright and bold, this cool wrap combines some of my old dye experiments with that of the new. The variegated red is Kool-Aid (and so it begins), as is the turquoise variegated, while the cobalt was achieved in a Jacquard dye bath. All of the yarn is Bare Peruvian Highland Wool (fingering weight) from Knit Picks, which is a great starter yarn for beginning dyers, oh by the way.

The shawl construction is very intriguing as it begins with a starter rectangle, stitches picked up along three sides to form a triangle, then continues with the body of the shawl, increasing at the center and ends on every other row. The beginning rectangular sequence of stitches is brilliant actually.

Ooooh, I almost forgot! The other very cool aspect of this shawl? The edging!

It's braided! Actually, it's crocheted. But it looks braided! Crocheted with two colors simultaneously, this edging is a finishing technique that I intend to use again and again. Cool eh?

Spin-Off always has wonderful knitting (and crochet) patterns in addition to great articles and project ideas for the spinner. It is my current fave mag to be sure.

Now, if I could just figure out what to wear with this shawl, I'd be sittin' pretty...literally!

Happy Friday all!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Color Me Red

I tend to go through phases with regard to color and its usage in my work. Last fall and winter I seemed to be alternately in a black/white/gray phase or a blue phase, whether I happened to be knitting, crocheting, weaving, dying or spinning. Actually, this is pretty unusual for me because, by nature, I tend to be a “red girl” (or orange). However, I had blue (and black/white/gray) padding about the recesses of my cerebrum. At the time I felt those colors constantly calling me. They wanted, no, needed, to be seen (over and over again!). So, I happily complied.

However, Saturday I knew the blues were officially over during a yarn dying session with my girl, Jenna. I just couldn’t get enough of anything remotely reddish. Or pinkish. Or orange-ish. You get my drift. Yep, I painted and kettle dyed 1500 yards of yarn in warm brilliance! I would have dyed roving too, but…um…er…I have a bit of roving backlog right now; baskets of fluff sitting patiently by my wheel(s) awaiting transformation. Keep yer shorts on, I’ll get to it!

Anyway, just look at the piles of color I created…

Looks perty eh?

And here is some of my hand-dyed reddish roving spun up…

This will get plied with possibly gold or another reddish iteration. Not quite sure which.

And then there are my current WIPs featuring…Yes, red!

I am working up a Feather and Fan Shawl from Cheryl Oberle’s book, Folk Shawls,in pretty burgundy and copper stripes.

I LOVE this book, which I have had in my possession for nearly a year.

Nonetheless, this is the first pattern I’ve tried. It’s an easy one. Well, except for working with the fiber the pattern calls for that is!

Think super thin, ultra-skinny roving, which pulls apart easily (yes, because it is un-spun). Due to the fragility of the fiber, this WIP just won’t travel well. Needless to say I will be working on this wrap at home only.

On the crochet front, I am working up a Singular Tee from my Knitscene pattern.

Mine will be in sultry red and cool blue-violet. This top is perfect for summer, crocheted in dk weight cotton from Halcyon Yarn, which is apropos because Los Angeles has begun to feel the heat of the season! Last Saturday and Sunday saw temps in the 90’s!

What colors are speaking to you at the moment? Inquiring minds you know.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Two New Patterns!

I have two new patterns for you in Crochet Today mag! The first is a super easy sweater that can easily be worn to either beach or bistro...

The pattern calls for Red Heart Hula yarn, but I can easily see this in myriad fibers. Cotton or bamboo would be lovely. I have a fairly large stash of ecru, taupe and cornmeal colored cotton, which I think would make a lovely striped version of this sweater.

The second pattern is my take on the classic tomato pincushion...

Another simple pattern that utilizes Red Heart Super Saver. Although, I think this too would look great in a shiny mercerized cotton. Methinks it would also be a wonderful gift for Mother's Day!

The newest issue of Crochet Today is currently available at your local newsstand or bookseller. Enjoy!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Bee Season Scarf

A scarf to wear as the last vestiges of winter give way to the warmth and color of spring...

This lovely woolly wonder is knit from Lamb's Pride worsted in a honeycomb pattern from one of my current favorite stitch dictionaries. (Oh, I know! You guys don't like these books due to lack of charts. I however, love them!)

The stitch pattern required every other stitch to go on a cable needle. At first this fact was a bit maddening, but soon I was motoring along as a rhythm began to develop. I think the entire scarf took me a few weeks to complete.

I finished the muffler off with a crocheted picot edge...

And six little needle felted bees...

The bees took me longer to make than the actual scarf! Although, I think they were definitely worth the effort!

Copyright 2008 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Happy Three!

March came and went without my having acknowledged my third blogiversary. Can you believe it? Blogging is so "old hat" to me now that I cannot even remember the passing of this milestone? So sad.

At any rate, I was thinking about my journey through the labyrinth that is the blogosphere over these last three years as I sat in airport last Friday waiting for my flight back to LaLaLand. It all came flooding back to me at once, the provocation for starting this green bloggy, investigating blogging platforms, figuring out the inner workings of code and exploring the intricacies of image hosting. I reveled in the memories of my first explorations about the vast frontier that is craft blogging, attempting to figure out my place in this ever expanding world. Sharing my work in this virtual world was and continues to be exciting as well as a bit scary. It has been such a wonderful experience to have met so many people who share my addiction for all things yarn. Of this I shall never tire. Three years into the experiment I feel like corpulent sponge, having readily absorbed every possible experience a craft blogger can partake in, virtual and beyond. Memes and contests! Swaps and challenges! Ravelry! Message boards! Craft fairs! Charity drives! KALs and even more CALs! These three years past have been nothing short of amazing.

Really, blogging has changed my life. It is because of this blog that I have had my designs published. My weekly musings and crazy projects even landed me a stint on television. I teach crochet and knit classes in and around Los Angeles because I blog. I have traveled across the country attending various workshops and conferences all in the name of yarn, oh, and my blog. Finally, the only reason I even know about (and attend) my local Stitch N Bitch meetings is because I was invited to attend by, you guessed it, another blogger.

The blogosphere has been very, very good to me. I have had some amazing experiences and palpable successes. I have had the privilege to meet some wonderful people and forged many lasting friendships. You, my fellow bloggers, have provided me with endless amounts of inspiration, laughter, candor and kindness. Thank you for embracing my weirdness and for your constant encouragement. I love you guys and look forward to sharing another year with you!

In closing, I think a few words from Eeyore are in order. Thanks for noticin' me.