Category Archives: Brushes with Greatness

All of Time and Space

You ever have one of those super quick knits that is oh-so-satisfying, and also makes the recipient very very happy? Today I’m going to show you one of those… because even though I knit as much as I quilt- and sometimes even more- you’d never know it by looking at this blog! So let’s look at yarn. And then stay tuned, because boy do I have a proud mom moment to share.

You may know that I am part of a family of geeky nerds. In fact, hard as it may be to believe, I may be the most mainstream of us all.

Chew on that for a few.

You still there?

This is Annie. My sometimes enchanting, other times maddening 13 year old daughter (is there any other kind?)

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Astute readers might notice the Tardis hat on her head. No, that’s not my handiwork- but it is a good example of her daily wardrobe. If it relates to a time lord or a Marvel character (especially Captain America), she’s probably wearing it.

In late 2014, I learned that KnitPicks had temporarily re-released some of their Felici self striping yarns in some very particular and sought after color ways, including this one.

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It’s called “Time Traveler”, and it references the 4th Doctor‘s trademark scarf. I immediately ordered 8 skeins- enough to make a pair of socks for each member of the family. So glad I did; it sold out very quickly! When it arrived, I remembered that my kids don’t like socks.

D’oh. But Annie DOES like arm warmers. So, with this easy and free pattern by Susan B. Anderson, I whipped her up a pair, in just about a week. They were done and being worn everywhere even before xmas. And they actually only took one skein plus a few yards, so I think I have enough left to make her a matching hat!

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Super cool, eh? She loves em. I love that I made her so happy. And that they are machine washable.

And she was even happier this week- last Friday, we went to see Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Don’t know who he is? Even if you don’t, you probably know one of his most famous moments- he was instrumental in the demotion of Pluto from full planet status.

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The next slide said, “GET OVER IT.” Maybe you had to be there, but it brought the house down.

Last week, he gave 2 sold out lectures here in Denver (2,900 seats in the venue!). My mom bought us the tickets last August- the kids didn’t know until xmas- this was their big gift. (As an aside, can I tell you how happy it makes me that my kids were thrilled to receive tickets to a lecture on astrophysics for xmas??) The man was even more awesome in person than you would think, and after talking for 3 hours with no break, he took questions from the audience.

My Annie wants to be an astronomer. And she really wanted to ask him a question- but she ended up fairly far back in the line. I was worried she’d be so let down if she didn’t get to talk to him- but I needn’t have been. When he announced he could only take a few more questions, the audience and the people ahead of my girl asked them to let the kids go! (There were 2 behind her.) And they did! So, thanks to generous and kind strangers, Annie was able to ask her mentor a question.

I totally broke all the rules, which, if you know me, is a huge deal, and used my phone to record her Q&A. But here’s the thing- how often do you get a chance to ask your living idol a question, in person? (Her dead idol is Alan Turing…) So the video quality is crap as I was dodging and weaving to avoid the very, very conscientious usher who was bent on busting every single camera wielding rule breaker in the room. Want to relive the moment? You can, if so inclined… It is pretty darn awesome if I do say so myself. (And if you saw the video on my FB, this is actually the full version with 45 extra seconds…)

PS Linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday

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Filed under Annie, Brushes with Greatness, General Geekery, Gift, Kids, Knitting

How big is big enough?

I recently learned that my aunt, my mom’s sister, is having some major surgery next week. Nothing life threatening, just majorly life improving… But she’s going to have a 2-3 month recovery, and that doesn’t sound fun. She’s far from me, in Pittsburgh, so there’s not much I can do to help out.

But I CAN send a quilt to snuggle under during this prolonged recovery, right?

I realized that I would have just barely enough time to crank one out before the big day- and I had the perfect fabric in mind.

Do you remember last year, when the one and only Amy Butler came by my favorite local crafty store?

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I won that fabulous charm pack of Cameo– and it’s been waiting for the right project ever since. I love it- but the colors aren’t 100% me (the coral, specifically), and I never know what to do with precuts.

BUT! The colors are just right for my Aunt… And I realized I could make something quick but lovely with HSTs. So my mom, who agreed to “sponsor” the coordinating solid, backing, and batting for this project, and I headed out shopping. We ran through a number of greens that weren’t quite right before settling on grey. It compliments all the may colors in the Cameo squares, and also looks sophisticated.

I got down to HST business right away.

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I was truly living dangerously on Saturday night- wine AND rotary cutting!

I ended up with 60 5″ HSTs.

Time to play with the million and 1 possible layouts…

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But both, while they looked great, were waaaaaay too small.

So I tried adding in solid grey squares.

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But I didn’t find the layouts nearly as visually pleasing with the extra grey- and, I admit, I was totally afraid of trying to quilt in those blank solid areas!

So, next idea: make more HSTs with coordinating solids.

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This solution was better but not perfect. More visually pleasing to me than the grey squares, but, the Cameo pieces looked better all by themselves, I think.

What do you think?

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(PS that’s a moot question, because …)

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I put the top together already. It measures 36×45. Still not as big as I wanted- but I didn’t want to add even more solid blocks. So now I have 3 choices- and I’m asking for your input.

1) Leave it alone. It looks lovely as is, and the weather will be warm to hot while she’s recuperating, so it’s more for cheering up than warmth.

2) Add a border of solid grey to some or all of the sides.

2) Add a border of one of the cameo prints- I have a yard of this one:

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(I was planning to use it for binding but I could sacrifice to make the top bigger…)

4) Something I haven’t thought of yet.

And, in case you are wondering, the backing is going to be a sage green minkee. Super cuddly and comforting… My hope is to have this totally done by Sunday and in the mail on Monday, so it will arrive just in time.

Thank you in advance for sharing your ideas with me!

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday, WIP Wednesday, and Let’s Bee Social.

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Filed under Brushes with Greatness, Gift, Quilts, WIP Wednesday

Sunday Stash- now with books!

No new fabrics around here this week. And extra funds might have been expended on tickets to Godzilla for later tonight…

But, I did add a book to my stash, and also enhanced an existing piece of fabric. What? Maybe this will help explain it…

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My new book is How to Catch a Frog by the one and only Heather Ross! She is touring to promote this book, a collection of tales from her unconventional childhood and artistic life, and this past week, she was in Denver. I’m never one to pass up a book signing by someone I like, and even less so the chance to meet a crafty goddess. So with a good friend in tow, I headed out to hear her.

Heather read two stories from the book, and she is clearly a wonderful writer- I highly recommend it to anyone… During the Q&A, people asked about her life, and of course, her fabrics. Interesting fact we learned: she had been looking at a partnership with JoAnns to reproduce one of her lines- but they said no, because it was too naughty. Which line? Mendocino! The topless child mermaids were considered to risqué. Also, Medocino is her favorite of her own lines. And lucky me has a bunch of that one in my stash.

But my faves are her older fabrics- the matryoshkas, gnomes, dogs and others from West Hill and her other oldest lines. And so like a total groupie, I took a piece with me, and asked her to sign it. And she did!

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I’m such a silly girl. I have a collection of 8 small frames that I’ve been thinking of filling with some of my favorite fabrics and hanging on a blank spot on a wall in the studio. Maybe this specially autographed piece will be one of those?

Linking up with Sunday Stash

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Filed under Brushes with Greatness, Sunday Stash

Books and the Women who Wrote Them- and me

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some fun and met some crafty authors/rockstars- and I’m just now getting around to telling you about it.

On Tuesday, March 4th, I met up with some of my local Tula QAL peeps for happy hour, followed by a book signing with Rachel May, author of the new book, Quilting with a Modern Slant. Rachel was lovely, and so friendly, and we might have monopolized too much of her time… She was so sweet, she even blogged about us, with a photo (!), and told people about my skull quilt. Her book is also wonderful, and you should check it out if you get a chance.

Then on Monday of this week, the one and only Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, was at a local bookstore. Once, 7 years ago, I went to see her read. It was quite a night out– I even ended up on the local news. I guess they felt it was newsworthy that people knit? Anyway! 7 years ago, I was too scared to knit a sock. They scared the bejeezus out of me- the teeny needles and making a heel and oh, no. I confessed that to the Harlot, and she seemed unimpressed.

Shortly thereafter, I took a class, and made my first socks.

Fast forward nearly 7 years. The Yarn Harlot is back in town. Now, not only can I knit socks*, I can knit complicated socks. I can even kitchener a toe while in a crowded room, listening to a famous knitter regale the crowd! So, when it was my turn in the signing line, I told her how I used to be scared of socks, but now am a sockstar. And she examined my sock and pronounced it good.

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She even showed off my latest finish for a photo.

The other highlight of the night? I wore my newly completed Color Craving shawl, and got loads of great reactions from other knitters. Someone took my photo in it, and at least 3 different folks approached me to talk about it. It made me feel super special- and happy that I pushed through a project I didn’t love working on to get to the fabulous end result.

The only downside? When the Harlot took her trademark photo of the crowd with the sock, my friend and I were sitting too far to the left to be in the photo. If you look at the first photo in the post, and look at the right hand corner, you can just make out the grey and pink of my Color Craving at the very edge… Ah, well. I know we were there.

*I went back and counted, thank you Ravelry, and I have knit 60 complete pairs of socks in under 7 years. My mind is kind of blown by that.

 

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Filed under Brushes with Greatness, CookieA, Knitting, Quilts, Socks, westknits

More Mondo Mania

Yeah, I know, you all know how much Annie and I love Mondo Guerra. I just looked back at my blog archives, and apparently my first post about meeting him was in 2011 (on my old blog, which looks odd since I no longer pay for hosting…) And then in 2012, and again in earlier 2013

Tonight, there was a free meet&greet at See, an eyewear boutique- the same eyewear boutique where I’ve been getting my glasses for the last 3 years- with Mondo himself. He’s launching a line of glasses exclusively available at their stores…

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I called up my fab friend Amber, and we packed up our girls and headed to the store…

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Cardboard Mondo was there to greet us, but the real one was a little bit late. We killed time by trying on all the frames, nibbling on snacks, and drinking some drinks… And then Mondo arrived.

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Annie was so proud to show him that she was wearing her Mondo T-shirt from the finale viewing party that she was too young to attend, poor kid, and her houndstooth skirt- because Mondo taught her to love houndstooth- and her Mondo socks that a very nice mom got her for xmas last year… And look, they both have bow ties. Because bow ties are cool.

She had her fashion sketchbook with her, and Mondo kindly signed it. Sadly, there wasn’t time for her to show hime her collections (The Warrior Collection and the Evil Elegance collection…)

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I got to meet him, too!

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Hooray!

I’m only sad that the one pair of glasses  (the Melba) from the collection that I fell madly in love with didn’t work on my face 😦

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Bust a Myth

Opening at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science tomorrow is: Mythbusters, The Explosive Exhibition. My kids are total Mythbusters junkies- before they discovered Doctor Who, it was all they wanted to watch, and it still ranks up there even now. So the exhibit has been very anticipated in our house. We were really sad to realize we wouldn’t be able to attend the sold out meet and greet with Tory and Kari at the members preview…

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But then we found out about this! A meet and greet at one of my favorite pizza places! Win Win!
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So we had a yummy dinner, and then got to chat with Tory and Kari. Who turned out to be some of the nicest, most gracious people, ever. They signed photos for my kids, and for some friends of theirs who weren’t with us at the time, and even Henry’s old, outgrown, “Buster Does All My Stunts” shirt… I’m going to turn the shirt into a pillowcase for him now. Tory even noticed that Henry was wearing his (ever present) Minecraft shirt, and told him all about a new video on their web series, where he blows up a creeper!

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The kids were totally starstruck, and so very happy. We’re now counting down until we can get into the exhibit… Whee!

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Filed under Annie, Brushes with Greatness, Henry, Kids

The Denver Satellite Reef

What have I been up to lately, you ask?
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Why, churning out pieces of crocheted coral, of course… Isn’t that what everyone’s doing these days? Actually, in Denver, we kind of are…

Want the backstory? The Denver Art Museum was recently awarded a massive grant to expand their permanent textile exhibit, and at the same time they embarked upon the creation of a temporary textile exhibit, called Spun.

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The entire Denver area textile community is going bonkers over this exhibit- as well we should. Not only is the eye candy ah-may-zing, multiple parts of the exhibit allow for community participation.

Like the Denver Satellite Reef, being created by area crochet artists in conjunction with the exhibit. A few months back, the DAM put out a call for crocheters. They invited us to a private workshop with Christine Wertheim of the Institute for Figuring, the creators of the original Crochet Coral Reef project back in 2005. There we learned about hyperbolic crochet, and the history of the Crochet Coral Reef, including the many “people’s reefs” around the world. And the DAM invited us to help create their Satellite Reef, to be displayed in the museum itself!

Um, awesome.

So I finished up some stuff I was already working on, and then busted out my leftover bits of wool and acrylic, as well as the random novelty yarns I bought way back when I started knitting, and got to work. Thus far I’ve only finished the 4 pieces you see above (said pieces are currently in the freezer at the DAM, completing their 2 week quarantine to ensure they don’t bring any pests in with them), but I have big plans to keep on going. This stuff is very addictive. The DAM will continue adding pieces to the reef all summer long. If you’re local, you can drop in and crochet in the reef itself every saturday and sunday- and if you want more info, leave me a comment below.

Here is what the reef looked like as of Thursday.

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The entire exhibit won’t be open to the public until Sunday, but this Wednesday, there was a grand opening- that I, as an official contributor(!) got to attend with my family!

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We got a sneak preview, got to enjoy the fabulous food and drink, and the yarn-y decor contributed by, of course, Fancy Tiger.

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And, in what seems like the most brilliant visual joke ever, because I am punny and have a silly sense of humor, they greeted everyone at the entrance with: cotton candy! For a textile exhibit! Whee!

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And then I went right back to the museum on Thursday, to attend the Insider Moment with Margaret and Christine Wertheim. I took my current piece of coral along with me, and worked on it during the talk. At one point, Christine used it as an example for the entire group. So.much.fun! She even graciously posed for a photo with me and my pseudosphere.

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But the best part of the entire thing? After going to see the exhibit on Wednesday night, Annie was so into the reef that she wants to learn how to crochet her own pieces. Time for some mother-daugther yarning!

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Filed under Brushes with Greatness, Crochet, Denver Satellite Reef

If it’s really going to snow on May 1st, at least I can wear this…

Colorado is officially in a drought, so I shouldn’t be whiny that we’re getting an absolutely nutty amount of spring snow. But I am. Driving to work in the snow is one of my least favorite tasks. Scraping the car off? I’d rather do nearly anything… And it’s even worse now, as I broke my good scraper during the storm that accompanied the meet & greet with Amy Butler 2 weeks ago.

It was 80 degrees this weekend, which made Annie’s birthday trip to the zoo truly awesome. I broke out my flip flops. That made me happy. But the temperature is supposed to drop 50 degrees from that high and be in the 30s tomorrow- and the weather folks, who have been very very wrong this season, are still saying that we’re going to get actual snow tomorrow. Maybe even 7 inches worth.

My only consolation is that if it is indeed cold and nasty, I’ll have a reason to wear this.

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This gorgeous new shawl just finished blocking tonight, and since the yarn is a 95% wool/5% silk blend, it’s not a light piece. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I’d get much use out of it before fall came around.

Pattern: Glacier Sweep by Stephen West/ Westknits, part of the ChoreoKal series.

Mods: I used size 5s instead of the called for size, and the yarn itself was worsted rather than fingering or heavy worsted, as called for in the pattern. I followed the fingering weight directions.

Yarn: Plymouth Mushishi, used 1.75 skeins, as well as a tiny bit of leftover Lamb’s Pride worsted in a hot pink for the i-cord bind off. Purchased 2+ years ago at the Lamb Shoppe, with a gift certificate and on sale, so it ended up coasting me next to nothing- the best kind 0f yarn!

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I love this shawl. I love the color, the texture, the stitch pattern, the size, the contrasting i-cord bind off. All of it. But you know what I love the most? That Stephen West himself was at Fancy Tiger when I stopped in to buy some yarn a few weeks back, and I happened to have this particular WIP in my car, and he kindly posed for a photo with the shawl, and Annie and me!

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I love his shawls the way I love Cookie A’s socks. I love to follow his patterns. And he himself is just a fabulous guy. In fact, this wasn’t even the first time I got to meet him- at Fancy Tiger no less. He was in town for the first time ever back in September 2012, but, it was while we were at the beach. Our only annual vacation, planned nearly a year in advance, no way to switch it up. I was so sad. And then, he loved Denver and FT so much that he hung around for an extra week, including craft night, where I totally got to meet him after all! And that time as well, he was super gracious, and posed for a photo with me and my most recent Westknits finish, which I just happened to be wearing…

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So, if it really is cold and snowy tomorrow, May Day, at least I can bundle myself up in my latest creation, while I wait to bring the flip flops back out…

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Amy Butler in person is as amazing as her designs…

Tonight I had a wonderful treat! Amy Butler, the one and only, was in Denver and meeting and greeting her fans and signing her books, all at my favorite local craft mecca, Fancy Tiger. (She’s teaching at The Makerie this weekend, so she was going to be in town anyway…)

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Tonight was a nasty, horrible, icy cold and snowy night here in Denver. Which was awesome in some ways, because the event was nowhere near as crowded as I would have expected. And that meant that everyone in attendance got the chance to truly chat with Amy, not just get books signed and move on. Amy was lovely- that is truly the best word to describe her. She was gracious and kind- she even travels with thank you cards thanking YOU for taking the time to meet her. Really! (And the cards contain a coupon code for her website, too…)20130417-214246.jpg

 

Amy took the time to notice something nice about everyone she met, and to comment on it. She made MY night by admiring my modern quilt wrap- yes, I am a big enough nerd that I deliberately wore a knitted quilt when I met her- and even to call Annie and Henry adorable when she saw them as my screensaver on my phone. She admired my friend Kristin’s earrings, and her stunning crocheted scarf… And on and on.

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She didn’t just sign our books; she personalized them with special messages. And see that charm pack of Cameo? Happy happy me won it by knowing that Amy’s husband David has a fabric line, Parson Gray. Fancy Tiger had some wonderful prizes that we could win by answering Amy Butler trivia questions… Happily, my friend and date for the evening also won a charm pack (Amy’s new magazine is called Blossom.)

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Here’s a photo that Fancy Tiger shared via Facebook of many of us with Amy. That lucky lady in the middle won an entire Cameo fat quarter set!

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Even with the foul weather, we had to hit Sputnik after the event. Fried pickles, a baked avocado, and mac n cheese. But, I think for the first time ever at Sputnik, no booze- the roads were to awful to chance it…

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Doesn’t my favorite dive bar look lovely in the snow?

20130417-214523.jpgAnd here’s what my house looked like when I got home. April 17? Yikes! I’ve used my ice scraper more this week than all winter… But being out in it was totally worth it to have met Amy Butler- and I would have even said that if I hadn’t won a charm pack!

 

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