This weekend the Ball & Skein & More in beautiful Cambria, California, will be hosting book signings for my Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues. I’ll be signing books on both Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 3:00. The trunk show of samples from the book will be up, too, if you’d like to see the scarves in person!
I was lucky enough to go the the Best Workshop Ever this weekend. Kris and Oz, owners of the fantastic Ball & Skein & More in Cambria, California, combined their talents as crazy-fun hosts with Gwen Bortner’s excellent instruction style. The result? An intensive workshop sandwiched between sociable wining and dining.
Gwen’s workshop had something for everyone. The new skill for me? Using plastic canvas to add structure to a project. The pace of instruction made it so we could follow along, without getting overwhelmed. And we ended up with a versatile, cute little project at the end (or at least one we could finish up at home).
Gwen’s teaching style is clear, and she makes it a lot of fun.
For people coming from out of town, the workshop included accommodations at the Cambria Pines Lodge. It was the perfect location. It’s beautiful, set in the pines overlooking the village of Cambria. We had our own dedicated room for the workshop, and our own dining room as well. Kris and Oz greeted us at breakfast every morning.
Kris welcomed us into the shop Friday night for a special shopping spree. While most people ended up with armloads of gorgeous hand-dyed yarn, I finally gave in to temptation and bought a set of Addi Clicks lace needles – the ones with the very cool slit in the cord for carrying a life line.
The meals in our Very Own Dining Room gave the students a chance to get to know each other. On Saturday, we were treated to an extraordinary dinner at the local Madeline’s restaurant. Not only was the food and camaraderie fantastic, but we got to learn about Oz’s talents with a blow torch. If you want to find out what THAT was all about, you’re just going to have to come to the workshop yourself next year!
The field trip to end all field trips…I got to visit Yarnmarket a couple of weeks ago while in Ohio.
When I drove up, my heart started going pitter-patter just seeing the familiar Yarnmarket logo. Signs in the window show that the facility houses not only endless yarn and supplies, but also the wonderful, tenacious people who keep Yarndex up to date. (If you’re not familiar with Yarndex, check it out. It’s THE source for finding every kind of yarn imaginable, and is easily search-able by weight, gauge, brand and other terms).
I love to support my LYS, but they can’t carry every line needed to satisfy my voracious yarn yearnings. I fire up the computer to place orders online with Yarnmarket, sometimes phoning for expert advice to narrow down a selection. When I’ve looked at the huge list of brands they carry, I’ve always wondered what on earth their company looks like in person. Now I know: it’s yarn mecca to the nth degree! A series of light-industry warehouse units, all connected, housing shelf-after-shelf, bin-after-bin of every conceivable fiber goodie.
To have the opportunity to meet all the nice people I’ve spoken to by phone over the years was a real treat. Deborah Knight (no relation, but I wish we were) gave me a terrific tour of the facility. We started in the showroom, where I learned the stories behind some of Yarnmarket’s special brands. Did you know that Yarnmarket has its own house brand? Named Caledon Hills after the lovely part of Canada where Deborah’s mother lives, the yarn comes in worsted and chunky weights. I am bowled over by the number of colors available – 72 in each line! My head is spinning with design ideas. To get the full story, you can check out Deborah’s hilarious description of life in this beautiful but technologically challenged part of Canada.
Yarnmarket’s Abbey Collection is inspired by the pastel drawings of an American monk. A dollar from each ball sold is donated to the artist’s abbey. If you want some design inspiration, check out the Abbey Collection site where there are pictures of the pastels. Clicking on the picture will take you to a page showing that particular drawing and the yarns that represent it. I love to see how Iris Schreier has used dye to interpret the pastels.
Deborah offered up many more entertaining stories, and I wish I could have had all my readers along to hear them too! As the day grew later, I had to get down to business selecting yarns for a new – big – project coming up. Jan, a yarn expert extraordinaire, looked over the sketches I brought and helped me to narrow my choices down.
If you visit Yarnmarket, you’ll start off in the showroom, where at least one of each yarn is on display. With all the yarns the company offers, it might be easy to be overwhelmed, but the room is brilliantly organized. This photo is of one tiny corner:
Next comes the warehouse tour. This is like walking through some lovely dream involving the ultimate stash combined with the knitter’s library from heaven. It’s another tribute to the powers of organization, as the bins all perfectly labelled and arranged alphabetically – room after room, shelf after shelf. I’ll fess up… the place is so enormous I got lost trying to find my way back to the showroom the first time. I learned to tell my internal navigation system, “Turn left by the Berroco”.
I want to thank everyone at Yarnmarket for their warmth and hospitality. You’ll be seeing several of their yarns in future AudKnits designs.
This weekend in Portland was Yarn Heaven. I attended the TKGA Knit & Crochet Show, taking some great classes and checking out the wares in the shopping area. It’s like a mini Stitches event. The market is smaller, but I got to see some wonderful locally produced yarns. The classes are smaller too, which gave me a chance to learn more.
I met up with my friend Alana, who you probably know as Nevernotknitting. We did a major Yarn Crawl, spanning a 24-hour period of fiber bliss. Happily, yarn stores in Portland stay open late. So on Thursday night we hit Dublin Bay, which was a beautiful store featuring lots of my favorite Rowan yarns. Sadly, I didn’t get a photo inside the store. A blogger without a camera is, well, a space cadet I guess.
We stayed until closing at 9pm, hoping they’d just lock us in and let us browse and knit until they re-opened the next morning.
We saw so much yarn on Friday that I swear by the end of the day if someone had waved free cashmere in front of me, I would have missed it.
Here we are at the first stop, Twisted. Alana’s natural sense of style has her perfectly color coordinated with the sign.
The next store deserves a posting of its own, which I promise to get to another time. Abundant Yarn and Dyeworks is incredible – a large store with a deli in it (yarn AND food? oh my!), and its own line of hand dyed yarns. This “Socks Without Borders” afghan will be auctioned off at the Sock Summit to benefit Doctors Without Borders.
My trip home was… eventful. I adore taking Amtrak’s Coast Starlight from Portland to my home in California. I get a sleeping compartment and for 24 hours I have my own little world of knitting, gorgeous scenery, and no distractions. This time, however, there was a freight train derailment ahead of us. Apparently when cars fall off the tracks, it puts a kink in the rails. They must have worked like mad to pick up the freight cars and put in new rails. I would loved to have watched that whole operation! Still, we were 11 hours late getting home.
And then when I did get home I found this guy who had decided to claim our terrace as his new residence. He ran away from home and walked a long way to find to find the area’s biggest pushovers.
I have to go buy alfalfa now…
The local knitting clan was a collective nervous wreck during the twelve days our local yarn store was closed during its move to a new location. When would we see each other again? How would we feed our yarn addiction? Aack!
The move has proven to be worth the temporary withdrawal symptoms. Tracy McKay, ower of the Scarlet Skein, turned a lovely space in downtown Paso Robles into knitters’ new home-away-from-home. Tracy’s knack for interior decorating makes the space colorful and welcoming.
Check out the chandeliers. Are they not gorgeous?
Cozy seating areas are sprinkled throughout the store, while the brick wall lends historic ambience.
If you’re really lucky, you’ll be greeted by Abby the Fiber Dog. What she lacks in knitting skills she makes up for in cuteness and a sweet disposition. (She’s paid in hugs, surreptitious scraps and chewy toys.)
If you find yourself in the Central Coast area of California (that’s halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco along Highway 101), come check out the Scarlet Skein. You can catch a class, munch pizza while watching a movie during Chick Flick night, and find a gathering of knitting friends. Oh yeah, you’ll find a great selection of yarn, too!
Those who know me well understand that I am completely obsessed with Rowan and RYC yarns. I have all the shade cards. When the new cards to come out in spring and fall they absorb my attention the way normal people become engrossed in Tom Clancy novels. I pat the little samples and pore over every fiber. So imagine my coming across and entire wall plus a rotating free-standing display of Rowan yarn. Oh, what a happy sight.
I was thrilled to discover that this heavenly stash of Rowan yarns resides just up the coast from me, at Monarch Knitting & Quilts in Pacific Grove. It’s a good thing it’s a two hour drive from here. I’d just bring my blanket and move in if Joan would let me.
I love the way the colors in the store are arranged.
I guess we’re spoiled in California. When CAT and I were in this store she remarked on how little room there is in the New York yarn shops. Monarch has plenty of room to move around and is a feast for the eyes and imagination. I can’t wait to go back!
Several days ago I had the privilege of getting together with CAT of Let’s Knit2gether renown. She was visiting Monterey, which is right up the road from me. We spent quite some time oohing and ahhing over the incredible selection of yarns and spinning supplies at the LYS, Monarch Knitting & Quilts in Pacific Grove. Then we headed for the ocean where we parked ourselves on a sunny bench and knit in public. How heavenly is it to meet a new friend (ok, she’s kind of a podcast goddess in my book), and get to knit in crystal clear air by the sea… in January?!
Here’s CAT working on her lovely fair isle tam, while I show off Mary’s Garden Sock.
If there are any knitters out there who haven’t discovered the Let’s Knit2gether video podcast, you might like to check out the link here or on iTunes. CAT imparts her wealth of knitting knowledge with enthusaism and clarity. Her husband Eric is a professional in television and film production. Their combined talents make for quality videos that I enjoy watching over and over. I’ve learned so much from the podcasts, I bought the DVD compilations to have on hand as references.
Thanks, CAT, for so generously sharing your time, friendship and encouragement!
I am officially the Luckiest Girl in the World. I just got back from a wonderful trip to Portland, Oregon. The train ride between where I live and Portland is just under 24 hours, so I booked a bedroom. I loved having my own little world in which to knit, read and sleep. What could be better?! The scenery through the mountains was unbelievably beautiful. On the trip home we were in the mountains at night and the trees, snow and mountains were illuminated by a full moon. Heavenly!
I made the trip in order to take two workshops from Jared Flood, who many of you know as brooklyntweed. I’ll tell you all about the workshops in a later post. But first I just have to sing the praises of the fantastic shop that put these workshops on.
Knit Purl is wonderful knit shop in downtown Portland. The staff is knowledgeable, kind and helpful. As you approach the shop’s door, the pretty colors invite you in…
Once inside, you’re surrounded by alluring displays of yarn. The selection is incredible, and I found several yarns I previously didn’t know I couldn’t live without. My newest Favorite Yarn Ever is Kauni. I fell in love with the suble shading from one color to the next. You’ll be seeing a LOT of Kauni in my future projects!
The shop is an inviting place to sit, knit and drink tea. You’re surrounded not only by gorgous yarns, but also by terrific sample pieces on display.
If you’re in the Portland area, I hope you’ll visit Knit Purl. If you want to see the yarn offerings in their online store, you can go to the Knit Purl website. Also, you might want to check out the wonderful newsletter put together by the talented Sara. The newsletter mentions some workshops that I’m sorely tempted to head back to Portland to take. How about learning sock techniques from Lucy Neatby? Sounds like a lot of fun! I definately need to clone myself so one of me can be here enjoying the deer and other wildlife and another of me can be in Portland taking all these great workshops.
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