Posts Tagged ‘Handicraft Café’


One of the many designs that I have been working on is Orinoco, which I named after the giant boulders at the bottom of the Venezuelan side of the Orinoco River, near the Amazon Rainforest.  The boulders are ginormous, smooth and beautiful, and can only be seen during the dry season.

The sample of Orinoco is being worked by my good friend Kristie, who is a sample knitter extraordinaire.  She also knit the sock “Rick” in Cookie A.’s new book, and has also sample knitted many items for Chrissy Gardiner, whose patterns are available in print and pdf through Handicraft Café.

Orinoco is a design that I’m doing in partnership with Frog Tree Yarns, a not-for-profit company that provides yarn that is fairly traded and socially conscious.  It uses their new merino/bamboo yarn, which will be available through Handicraft Café very soon.


Another one of my recent projects is Audra, which incorporates an all-over cable texture.  Audra is not named for anyone in particular, but I did think that perhaps this is something that a modern-day Audrey Hepburn might wear, hence the echoing of that legendary name.

The sample for this garment is being worked by my good friend and first-time sample knitter Denise.  Poor Denise had to rip out half of the garment though…despite my math, the width of the final garment was only large enough to fit a pre-teen.

Like Orinoco, this project is designed in partnership with a yarn company.  Audra and 4 other projects that I’m working on are in partnership with Southwest Trading CompanyAudra is worked with a new wool/bamboo yarn from SWTC.  Unfortunately, Handicraft Café is not carrying that new yarn at this time, but we do carry (and will have listed very soon) another one of SWTC’s newer yarns: Therapi, which has jade in it!!


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First, I must apologize for the delayed posting.  The infected spider bite threw me off — I am so glad that I went to the clinic when I did, because the damn thing was still spreading after taking the antibiotics for 1-2 days. Although the main swelling had gone down, the redness and the perimeter of the infection grew almost to my ankle.  eek! I am fine now.  Thanks to everyone’s emails.

The final chapter of my TNNA adventures…

SUNDAY, January 18, 2009
The first event I participated in this morning was a wonderful sweater sizing and design class with Ms. Glampyre Knits, Stefanie Japel.  Stefanie was well-organized, very approachable, and a great teacher. The one downside was that her class was a short 2 hours, when the spectrum of material she was covering could easily span 4-6 hours.

After the class, my friends, aka the Handicraft Café “entourage,” and I walked the market floors and stood in line for Stefanie to autograph her first book, Fitted Knits, and her new book, Glam Knits. I absolutely love the photography and stylings in Glam Knits.

(click for larger image)

Aside from shopping for the shop, three of my must-see stops were the booths of Stitch Cooperative, Frog Tree Yarns and Southwest Trading Company.

Stitch Cooperative

I had to stop by this booth for 2 reasons: (1) we needed to get more info for our shop and (2) I was there to pick up postcards for Knitting in the Sun and to meet Kristi Porter, author of the book personally.  I have 2 designs titled “Yehliu” and “Alishan” that will be included in the book.

Postcards front and back.  The red top that Kristi is wearing is my Alishan pattern!

Postcards front and back. The red top that Kristi is wearing is my "Alishan" pattern!

Check out Kristi’s fabulous sweater (wink, wink) in the postcard! It’s mine! It was really hard to contain my giddy squeeeee in the middle of the market floor after finding out that Kristi was wearing my garment in the promo photos (and it would have been embarrassing because there were other people nearby, including other well-known designers in the Stitch Cooperative booth, and vendors).

It was a good thing that knitting Alishan didn’t kill me.  Alishan was knit with KidLin by Louet, which is a fantastic yarn, but not so fantastic when your allergies decide to go haywire, as mine had when I was trying to get the project out.  Fortunately for me, Kristi was very kind and understanding.  🙂

What was equally exhilarating was to find out that my other garment, Yehliu, was hanging in the Lorna’s Laces booth:

Beth Casey must have thought that I was a huge dork when I bounced into the booth and asked if I could take a picture with my garment.

If I remember correctly, I think I was kind of like a Mexican jumping bean when I asked.  Too bad the lighting at the trade show was crappy because it does not show off the beautiful color and sheen of the garment.  The yarn used was the super luscious Lion and Lamb.

Right now, the shop is not carrying Lorna’s Laces yet, but we hope to be able to add that to our shop very soon.  (stupid economy has delayed our plans to have the physical shop a little more. )

Frog Tree Yarns

Our second must-visit stop was the fabulous not-for-profit and fair trade company of Frog Tree Yarns.  Their yarns are selling very well for Handicraft Café, so we had to do lots of restocking of the Alpaca Sport. My other motive for stopping by was to talk to Frog Tree about doing some design work for them.  They liked my stuff and presentation enough that they wanted me to formally submit something, which to date, I have done, and things are looking pretty well.

Southwest Trading Company

We then stopped by the SWTC to do some shopping, where we purchased more yarns, including the new

Aubrey and me with Joe Raffino of SWTC.

Aubrey and me with Joe Raffino of SWTC.

Therapi line made with Jade! (All the yarns are still trickling in and we haven’t listed all the ones that have arrived, but you can usually get updates on our blog and on our Ravelry group.)

Again, I had another motive for visiting SWTC, because I was pitching some design ideas to Jonelle Raffino, president of SWTC, and author of a new sock knitting book.  Within about 2 weeks after TNNA and my conversations with Jonelle, I formally submitted several design ideas to her, and like with Frog Tree, things are looking very well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and will reveal more information fairly soon.

I also owe Jonelle a big thank you, because a hour or two after talking to her, she called me back to her booth to tell me that she had just personally recommended me to the editor of a magazine that was looking for a jacket pattern for their November issue.  I submitted a couple of sketches to the editor, and because it was last minute (literally – no joke), I didn’t even get a chance to do swatches.  Luckily, the editor liked what she saw and we’ve hammered out a deal for the magazine.  I really don’t want to say more at this point since we don’t have a formally signed contract yet, but I’m sure I will reveal more when I am able.

Last but Not Least…

As we walked through the Interweave booth, my good friend Kristie, who does some sample and test knitting for some known designers and me, spotted “Rick,” the sample she knitted for Cookie A.’s (blog) upcoming sock book. I can’t be more happy for Kristie! We also were able to flip through a  galley copy of Cookie’s book, and it looks like it will be a sure-fire winner. The layout, photos, style and text are all very pleasing to the eye, seemingly easy to use and 100% drool-worthy, even for non-sock knitters.

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My TNNA adventures continue…

FRIDAY, January 16, 2009

photo of a Peruvian knitter knitting Portuguese style. photo from beastlyadventure.com

On Friday morning, tired and very much sleep deprived (it was day 3 of 3 hours of sleep per night), I dragged myself out of bed and got ready for another exciting day.  I took another business class, which was about advertising and developing programs for shops.  But you don’t want to hear about that, right?

You want to hear about the wonderful class that I took that afternoon with Sally Melville, acclaimed designer, teacher and author of The Knit Stitch and The Purl Stitch.  I took the class “Two Colors, Two Hands.”

I’m not new to colorwork, but am by no means close to being an expert at it and I wanted to learn other possibilities.   I knit continental and I hold all the yarns in my left hand, by popping one color on my index finger, and another color on my middle finger.  When I do 3 colors, I hold 2 colors on my index finger and 1 on my middle finger. Holding your yarns on one hand is very fast and efficient when you are doing colorwork that requires equal and regular color changes of each color, such as a checkered pattern. My method does not work so well for something like argyle, as in my Aaargyle Skullcap, where the color changes are irregular.

Sally showed us some alternative ways to hold the yarn, including the way I do it, holding 2 in the right hand, holding a color in each hand, holding 2 colors in one hand while holding a third in another, and doing colorwork using Portuguese knitting.

I absolutely love Portuguese knitting…which probably should be called Portuguese purling because you are purling and working from the wrong side of the fabric when you work.  This is the same method used by those wonderful Andean knitters of Peru for those fantastic and colorful c’hullos.

This fantastic award-winning photo is from cusquenian's flickr.

My friend D. was in my class too, and she could a high wattage light bulb flashing in my brain as she caught a glimpse of the crazy ideas floating through my head when I realized that I could use a combination of all these techniques Sally was teaching for different applications.  Half-jokingly, I pondered aloud the possibility of even trying 5-10 colors. D. threatened to shoot me with a tranquilizer gun if I ever did that or developed ways to hold all those colors with my toes.

I think D. was just being nice about the tranquilizer gun. If  Aubrey or Zona caught me trying to knit with all those colors and/or my toes, they would not hesitate to get me 5150’d, and I fear that perhaps my former colleagues might even have to agree! In case you don’t know what a 5150 is, in California, it refers to the process or section of the law in which someone is detained involuntarily for 72 hours for an emergency psychiatric evaluation.

Later that night, Aubrey, Kristie, D. and I were invited to a knit night at the Marriot sponsored and hosted by the SWTC team, where I got go know Jonelle of SWTC, Michelle aka CraftyCupcake, and Rebecca aka ItSheKnits. From day one of discussions about our business, Aubrey and I had SWTC as a must on our list, because  we love that SWTC focuses on innovatvie products with a mind to sustainability, and the smaller family-run business is also something that we are attracted to.  We want to have products from companies that also reflect our lifestyles and personal philosophies.  

Anyway, luckily, while I was getting to know Jonelle, I hadn’t quite finished my martini (on an empty stomach), because she may not have wanted to talk to me about doing designs for SWTC over the next 2 days if I had! Poor Michelle got me when I was 2 very pricey martinis in (still no food). Michelle had to listen to me divert from a convo about nerdy significant others to talking about how the hubs has been dubbed “crazy cat lady” by my friends and how he sometimes treats me like a cat when trying to show affection. Now that people outside of my circle of regular friends know, I have to admit: Yes, I get scratched under my chin and neck, and I sometimes get stroked as if he was stroking the cats. Ahh, True. Love.

At 10pm, we finally headed over to Cafe Sevilla to eat some yummy tapas. They had a great live musician playing, although by then we were too tired and famished to truly enjoy it.  Apparently after all these years in SoCal pining for good tapas, I did not know that there was one in Long Beach. It’s closer than San Diego, but I still wish there was one that’s even closer. There are 2 tapas restaurants near me, approximately within a 12 mile radius, but the food at those restaurants suck. Really, really suck.

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Aubrey and I heart Cat Bordhi. How can you not love a knitting genius who is a little eccentric (in a good way)?  You have to be a little eccentric to be obssessed with knitting and trying to figure out new techniques and problems all the time.

At last year’s TNNA, we both took some of her sock classes.  I don’t particularly enjoy knitting socks and after taking Cat’s class last year, I do have some slightly increased interest in it.  I just have so many other things in my head that socks are in the very back of the queue.

SATURDAY, January 17, 2009

Aubrey, Cat Bordhi and Me

This year, Aubrey and I took a Cat class together. It was more business oriented, and she talked about writing and kitting up patterns.  After showing her a Handicraft Café pattern (Threesome) and one of my Crafty Diversions patterns (Twister), I felt all warm and fuzzy because she complimented me on the layout and layout design.  However, really can’t take all the credit because the very talented Anna of Anaphase Studios did the logo and layout design.

Saturday was the first Market day. So, after our class and photo-op, Aubrey and I headed to the exhibit floor. We first made a beeline to get a ticket for a book signing.  In some of the booths, in order to get an autographed copy of a book, you have to get a ticket an hour prior to the scheduled signing.  The tickets are limited in number and the rule “you snooze, you lose” definitely applies.

On the way down to the market floor, the extraodinarily talented Stepfanie Japel of Glampyre Knits, and author of Fitted Knits and Glam Knits, was in front of us on the escalator and she commented on my Morgan.  She said that she hadn’t see one made as well as the one I was wearing.  Well, I had to fess up that though it was my pattern, the sample I was wearing was knit by a good friend of mine.  (I had Zona knit my orange Morgan in a medium size. The one I made and was shown on Knitty was a large and a little too big for my head.) Nonetheless, I felt lots of warm fuzzies after the escalator encounter.

One of the book signings we attended was for Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard of Knit and Tonic.  As she was signing my book, she said “Hey, I recognize that hat,” and proceeded to tell me that she had my hat in her queue. As a new designer, I cannot express how exciting and wonderful it feels to have established and well-known designers like Stefanie and Wendy compliment your work.  Squeeee!

with Chrissy Gardiner

A must-visit booth on our list was Gardiner Yarn Works, the booth of fabulous designer Chrissy Gardiner, who has designed for yarn companies and has been published in many magazines such as Interweave Knits.  Kristie, who also tests and sample knits for Chrissy finally was able to meet her in person.  We purchased some of Chrissy’s new patterns for the shop, such as her Kiwassa shawl, to add to some of our other favorite Gardiner Yarn Works patterns, such as the Autumn in Oregon Socks and Ballerina Slippers. One of the more exciting developments is that Aubrey will be working with Chrissy to see about getting her patterns and other patterns from her pattern line on our site as downloadable PDFs!

One of the cutest things in the Gardiner Yarn Works pattern line is this cutie:

Whoot! Whoot!

Whoot! Whoot!

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The “official” days of the TNNA trade show are marked by what they call “Market Days.”  This just means that they open the exhibit halls and buyers can shop all the booths.  However, usually there are 2 days prior to the Market that are just solely education.  Members of  TNNA are able to take classes taught by a variety of experts and nationally recognized teachers.  The classes are wonderful and not too pricey, so I find that they are definitely worth the cost, especially since I’m still pretty green to all of this.

THURSDAY, Jan. 15:

On Thursday, I took a class on customizing sweaters for just about every shape and size with Leslye Solomon. Leslye was a good teacher – she was interactive, responsive and very approachable and is the person behind those wonderful stainless steel lace blocking wire sets that we all love. (I ordered some for Handicraft Café.) If you plan on going to Stitches, she teaches there too.

I was pretty quiet throughout most of the 6 hour class, just absorbing everything  discussed, including side conversations and things off-tangent.  I am all self-taught in sweater design, so it is nice to hear and learn from other people because there are always different ways of doing things.  I learned quite a bit from Lesley and from all the off-tangent and side convos (sometimes those are the best).  I sincerely hope that Leslye did not think I was bored though. At one point, she asked me if I was okay.  LOL. I wasn’t bored, just observing and absorbing. If anything, I was slightly (okay, maybe a little more than slightly) annoyed at one particular woman. She interjected a lot and some of her side convos were not related to the class, but rather about herself. I have to admit that I was relieved when I didn’t see her in my other classes.

Later that night, thanks to Aubrey’s excellent exploratory skills, D., Kristie, Aubrey and I went to a little cafe called Chocolat, located in the Gaslamp District of San Diego.  It was a creperie, a gelaterie, a chocalaterie and a cafe all rolled into one! The only thing it was missing was a wine bar!  I am a sucker for crepes, so I ordered a fantastic portabello mushroom crepe followed by some yummy dark chocolate grand marnier gelato.  I was not overly sinful at all because I had all my food groups covered. 🙂  Plus, grand marnier is made with orange, and chocolate comes from beans.

After dinner, we found a Trader Joe’s (and almost got lost – stupid iPhone GPS) and stocked up on cheese, fruit and snacks to go with the wine that I brought from home.  We “partied” in our room, and after everyone left, I decided to finish my champagne without using anymore cups.  Classy, eh? Aubrey was thoroughly impressed.

(Coming in My Next Few Posts: Classes with Sally Melville, Cat Bordhi and Stefanie Japel; a wild sample sale and strange needlepoint; walking the market floor; knitting with SWTC; seeing my design hanging at the Lorna’s Laces booth and the mock up of Knitting in the Sun; book signings)

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While my sister was here, I gave her the Mermaid I made her. She really like the one that she modeled for me for my self-published leaflet pattern which you can buy here if you don’t have the Luxury One Skein Wonders book. The leaflet pattern has a more sturdy buttonhole construction and has alternative bonus instructions on how to adapt the pattern for a scarf.

As usual, I forgot to take photos of my knits before they leave my possession, so my sister took these for me.

As usual, I forgot to take photos of my knits before they leave my possession, so my sister took these for me.

Pattern: Mermaid

From/Designed By: Me! Also published in Luxury One Skein Wonders (Oct. 2008)

Yarn: Punta del Este South American Cotton (from Handicraft Café)

Color: Spaced-Dyed 522

Comments/Modifications: Buttonhole placement was moved up due to my sister’s request for a snugger fit for her skinny neck. I used a vintage button that I found at a specialty shop.

A sample of the leaflet pattern.

A sample of the leaflet pattern.

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  It is now 3a.m. here in sunny Southern California, and yes, I am still awake.  I spent most of the evening pre-cooking some of tomorrow’s dinner and had lots of green tea with a Midol (which has caffeine in it), and it’s not like I don’t sleep late without caffeine anyway.

In honor of turkey day, I’d like to introduce you to the biggest turkey in our house:



Next time my relatives and nosy family friends ask me why I’m not yet pregnant after over 7 years of marriage, I’m going to say it’s because Maggie, aka Fatty, and her ginormous self likes to cuddle with her daddy and sometimes steps on Mr. CD’s goods (which can be painful – 25lb cat!). I don’t post about Maggie much, because, well, she doesn’t do anything.  She’s is very complacent and just not very bright.

Whitey Coyote, on the other hand, is the alpha cat, is bright, has great yarn taste and is rather sneaky. She LOVES good yarn. She does not want yarns that I leave out for her on purpose, to bait her away from my other projects, but she only wants things that I don’t want her to touch, and she wants large balls of yarn.  She really doesn’t do anything with them (not much mangling since the mohair/silk CATastrophe), except carry it all around the house to give me and the hubs presents.

The other day, I was playing around with some design ideas and had bunch of random yarns around me as I sketched.  Whitey plopped down to help me draw, and I offered her a large ball of sock yarn, and a big leftover ball of Rio de la Plata’s Merino Pampa.  She buried her nose in it each yarn and took a good whiff, but otherwise, she seemed (or feigned) disinterest.  So, I decided to use her as my yarn rack.

This evening, I was reorganizing some of the yarn stock for Handicraft Café, but had to step away for a little bit to check up on some stuff in the oven. I came back and caught Whitey red-handed trying to find a way to get to the lovely Schaefer yarns, which I had pulled down from the stacks to reorganize. See, this is why all the yarns are well protected from Whitey’s grubby paws.  The thing that I always seem to overlook is when I leave my knitting on the bed or on the couch to go do something else.




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