Reunited

You may have gleaned from my last post that I am no longer in Arizona. The snow was probably a give away. Last month I got a job in Utah, and moved back to Salt Lake City in a hurry. I am working as an SEO Content Writer which I am really enjoying. I can make grammar jokes at work and people laugh which is mind blowing. It’s also helping me get my comma splicing habits under control. It’s good being in the company of fellow nerds.

 A couple of my excellent friends let Piña and I stay with them for a while. Piña mostly terrorized their dog while we were there. If you can imagine the scene in The Princess Bride where Wesley takes down Andre the Giant with quick moves and mosquito-like persistence, it looked an awful lot like that every day. 

Poor Odin was ready to have his lazy lifestyle back, so we found a house to live in. We tricked our good friend Emma (who I’m pretty sure reads this blog yaaaasssss kween) into living with us again. With our combined addictions, this duplex could turn into a craft studio in a hurry. Which I am obviously pumped about. 

Maybe the most exciting part of renting a new house is that there is more room for all the yarn. Piña and I took a road trip to CO to pick up our things at my man friend’s folks’ place and we’ve been reunited with our treasures. But the light here is terrible, sorry for the picture quality. 

Collection of hand knit sweaters
My sweater collection
Hand embroidered pillow from Guatemala
A hand embroidered pillow I bought in Guatemala
Cute dog
Piña thinking this rug is for her. It’s not.
Handwoven rug from Chiapas, Mexico
A naturally dyed hand woven rug I bought in Chiapas, Mexico
Beekeeper's Quilt
The start of my Beekeeper’s Quilt.
Yarn stash
So. Much. Yarn.

Turns out you can quash the impulse to buy more yarn when you’re reunited with your stash and everything seems new again. If you need me, I’ll be knitting hexipuffs until my fingers fall off. 

Places You Could Knit During 2016

Renaissance Man, Video Girl, Briocheur Extrodinaire, and Personal Hero, Stephen West, is a damn inspiration in terms of places you can knit. Stephen has taught me that A. More is more in terms of accessories. B. Your fridge is acceptable for yarn storage. C. Wool crop tops duh. D. That you can knit literally anywhere. 

Indeed, there were a lot of places you could knit during 2016.

On the couch with a dog.
In a truck at 14,000 feet.
On your lawn.

On a/in a lake

On a dock.
At Horseshoe Bend.
In the desert with your dog and your fella.
In a frenzy, after your country loses its mind.
In a truck camper.
Next to the ocean in Mexico.

I can only hope 2017 will live up to Westknits standands. Stephen, I live to serve. 

Turns Out It’s Hot In Arizona

Well, summer has officially left us and fall has hit in full force. I was happily knitting away on a couple winter sweaters while the weather cooled off in New York  and then BAM I moved back west and I’m in Arizona for the time being, where it is currently 93 degrees and my sweaty little knitting fingers can’t bear to cable anything.

I was on quite a sock roll until my mother, the sock napper, stole what I had been working on and literally walked off in them. I have switched to knitting my Sizzle Pop shawl by Knit Graffiti, which hasn’t gotten a formal intro here.

It’s a brioche shawl that uses two colors plus increases and decreases to create a graphic pattern that is happiest in a crazy color combo. It is challenging in all the main color right side rows, but the rest of the rows are easy to memorize which makes a nice rhythm of being engaging, but not mind bogglingly difficult the whole time.

I’m using Knit Picks Stroll tonal for the main color, and a yarn I bought on this trip in Durango. I can’t remember the name or colorway whatsoever but it sure is pretty.

I’m going to keep marching on with this one until my fingers get too slick to hold needles, then we might have to reevaluate.

Brioche With A View

I am writing from the road in Colorado. I’m out visiting my man friend and we are doing what we like doing best, which is driving around. There is so much to see on our continent that is reasonably easy to get to–so why not go see it?

We started out road tripping around in my tiny Toyota Yaris a few years ago and that was all well and good–the gas mileage was ridiculous and we could car camp out of it pretty easily. But a couple years ago we upgraded in a major way to a truck camper that makes us feel like we’re living in luxury. A refridgerator and a real bed are pretty excellent amenities. We’ve named the rig Chief Whitesmoke and we’ve been all over in it. We’ve done lots of little weekend trips here and there and our big trip to Mexico was in Chief Whitesmoke. We are on a quick tour of southern Colorado and I am doing some major roadtrip knitting–which I think may be my favorite kind of knitting. I love to knit and look outside and munch on candy. Knitting on a trip also seems to tie my project to the place and time of the trip too, which makes the memory of the trip a little more tangible for me.

Right now I am working on a test knit for a brioche cardigan that is really captivating. I’ve knit brioche before but never with increases and decreases. It is so clever and really makes me want to keep knitting. I’ll link the project on Ravelry and post some links to the designer when I finish up the sweater and not writing on my phone. For now, here’s some pictures of sunny Colorado and brioche!

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Teotitlan de Valle

Teotitlan de Valle is a weaving village outside of the city of Oaxaca. Of all our stops through Mexico, this was the one I looked forward to the most and was certainly the most inspiring. It’s a pretty insular village that is populated by the Zapotec people. They have a very long tradition of processing, dyeing and weaving wool. Weavers continue the methods they have used for hundreds of years. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, I suppose.

We took a collectivo (a shared taxi) and started seeing rugs outside houses on the drive to the village. We got a tip to go as far into town as we could for not only the best prices, but also for fair payment. I am certainly not the most knowledgeable about the payment practices for artisans in that region (or any), but I did know that I wanted to buy from as close to the original weaver I could. I also desperately wanted to find someone who would show me the weaving process. Once we got to the center square we wandered around a bit and I was like a kid in a candy store because just about every building had some sort of handmade wool item hanging outside. We walked into a couple showrooms and saw some incredible rugs and hangings. There were a few that must have been 15 x 15. The amount of work and skill that goes into each rug is astounding.

We walked through town and Aaron saw a sketchy looking metal door that had a tiny sign saying that it was a women’s weaving cooperative. I am not gonna lie, I was a little nervous that it was a ploy to kidnap and ransom us, but Aaron is braver (and more rational) than I. So he banged on the door. A perfectly nice lady opened it and offered to show us around the coop. IT WAS UNREAL. There was a courtyard with a couple families doing laundry, chickens pecking around (standard), and women processing wool.

My Spanish is not even at a mediocre level but I took a lot of years of French and can understand a decent amount of Spanish because so many verbs are similar. However, I can’t really speak at all. Aaron tried his best to translate my many, many, questions and I am grateful to both him and the woman who showed us around. They were very patient with me, who was more or less foaming at the mouth.

The women buy raw wool at the market each week in huge rice bags. They scour and card it all by hand, which itself is a huge endeavor. Then they spin it all into what looked like a single ply, and dye it. There is a resurgence of natural dyes being used by the Zapotecs. They originally used plants and insects, but moved toward synthetic dyes during the last century. Recently many weavers have gone back to their roots and are using only natural dyes again. We got a tutorial of what they use for dyes, and were shown how different the shades can be depending on acidity and concentration of dye. Some of the dyes I didn’t get the English names of, but they used a type of bark, some plants I wasn’t familiar with, indigo and the cochineal insect. I felt so lucky to be shown their methods and dyes.

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And the rugs. I keep saying they were incredible but they really were. They use huge pedal looms that they more or less stand inside in order to operate. They are enormous.

dsc_1705.jpgdsc_1706.jpgThe cooperative we went to is called Vida Nueva . The women that are part of the cooperative are either single women and mothers, or widows. The cooperative allows them to look out for each other and to improve the lives of the women in the village. They also sell directly to their customers, cutting out middle men and keeping more of the money they have rightly earned. I can’t find a website for them but the link above describes their process and organization. This link is worth clicking also, it’s a great video interview with some of the women.

I would have loved to buy a giant or even medium sized rug but alas we had neither the money nor the space. I bought a small indigo dyed rug for 200 pesos.  AND I LOVE IT.

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Whoa.

What a ride the last few months have been. Apologies for not posting but I was in Mexico and Central America where internet is not so bueno and I was too busy having fun. So…sorrynotsorry. However, I am back in the land of the free (and hot showers and drinkable water and roads without potholes) and I am hoping to post more regularly now that my life has slowed down a bit. I am back in NY with my parents working in their ski shop as well as coaching some ski racing so that I can hopefully save some money for some future wooly ventures…

I knit quite a bit on our three month overland trip through Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. At times it was so hot that I couldn’t put my arms next to my sides, but did that stop me from knitting? NOPE. I will post some pictures of the finished projects the next time I post, but I finshed up some socks, a shawl, a t shirt, and half a tunic. I also started designing a pattern for a vest that I left on the plane home. Boo. I have a lot to write about in terms of knitting on the trip and projects I’ve been working on since I’ve been home, but I don’t want to overload myself and you with all of them at once. So for now, here are some highlights from our trip.

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Chacala, Nayarit
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Chacala, Nayarit
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Knitting in Michoacan
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Oaxaca state from the road
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Teotitlan de Valle, Oaxaca
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Yarn in Oaxaca! (More on this later)
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Hand dyed, woven rug from Oaxaca
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Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca
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Beach in Oaxaca
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Knitted socks from Oaxaca!
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Las Nubes, Chiapas
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Chetumal, Quintana Roo
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Placencia, Belize
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Tikal, Guatemala
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Antigua, Guatemala
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Sayulita, Nayarit
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Also we brought home a puppy…

 

Travel Knitting

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Two socks have come into existence as a result of some long hours on planes and in cars. When I flew to NY a few weeks ago I had a pair or socks for my mom started and I finished one while I was there. Nasty child that I am, I let her wear it for a bit, then snatched it back so I could make a matching one. That didn’t get finished while I was at home, so it came back to Utah with me.  Its twin is proving more difficult to knit. I finished the cuff and part of the heel flap and then cast it aside like last year’s My Little Pony on Christmas morning when something more glittery came along. That shiny new object was…..

Continue reading “Travel Knitting”