Friday Fun and Winter Woolfest 2014

I’m using this weekend as another opportunity for some serious stress relief, and so far, the universe is with me on this.

Last night, after taking Jon to gaming, I hit the gym for a short but effective session before meeting up with the crew at Terry and Erica’s place. During times of high stress, I tend to withdraw. Last night was a reminder of how therapeutic “friend time” can be. We visited, discussed books, and watched a really bad horror movie, complete with our own little Twitter party. There is something hilarious and fun about sitting in the same room with people and only talking via Twitter.

Jon was done with gaming by the time the movie was over, so I picked him up. During the movie, I got a notification that a new geocache went up. We decided to go get it before heading back to Wamego, figuring that since we let about three hours go by, someone would have gotten there before us. It seemed as if the snow kept people in, however, and we got the First to Find! Yay for us! We finally made it home, and after reading a few chapters in the second Iron Druid book, I crashed.

Today was Winter Woolfest at the Columbian Theater, so I was up early to shower and gather my knitting supplies (nothing like waiting until the last minute). I packed light, deciding to take only a set of needles and a small ball of yarn for the instructional sessions. I also walked instead of drove, a daring choice since there were still several slick spots on the roads and sidewalks. I managed to make it without falling.



Since I was limited on spending funds (and the last thing I need to do is add yarn to my current stash), I took advantage of the classes that were going on throughout the day. The first one I took was one on Bavarian twisted knitting. I love the pattern this makes, and though it was a little nerve wracking to cable knit without a cable needle, I loved how easy it was and the look of the finished product.

Practice swatch. I bet I could fit this into one of my upcoming projects.
Practice swatch. I bet I could fit this into one of my upcoming projects.

The second class I took was on new methods of casting on. I’ve done nothing but long-tail for a long time, and I hadn’t bothered to learn any other methods, so this was a good opportunity to try something new. I learned three cast-ons, including the basic knit cast on, a cable cast on, and a modified long tail (I can’t remember the name right now) that makes the cast-on row stretchier (perfect for socks).

I met up with two friends at the ‘Fest, and we went to Toto’s Tacos for lunch. Tortilla soup and a “Burrito Jr.” were today’s choice. The Burrito Jr. was just meat and cheese. It was not small, but it was delicious. There was a line when we got there, but it was worth the wait.

After lunch, we did some vendor browsing before the afternoon sessions. There was tons of beautiful yarn and fiber, but I managed to hold back. I did entertain the idea of trying drop spinning again, but decided to hold off. I might get into spinning someday, but for now, especially with a pending move and a tight budget, I’ll continue to wait for the right time.

The first afternoon session was about blocking. Blocking is one of those things that seem really easy and basic, yet every time I’ve had to block something, it seems hard and nerve-wracking. The session was great. I’m no longer intimidated by the thought of blocking. Now I just need to buy some supplies.

The second session was a demo on braid cording with a lucet, though the technique was also taught with the use of fingers. I liked it, though it will take me some time to really get the hang of it and get it right. Apparently, you can use the technique with torn up t-shirt material to make cowls. I want to try this. The young man from RJ’s QTs (RJ himself, in fact)  gave the demo, then sold me on the idea of buying a couple new project bags.

I know someone who loves penguins!
I know someone who loves penguins!

The final session of the day was a lesson on Brioche knitting. It seemed pretty easy, so I think I may have been doing it wrong. However, even if I was, the technique I WAS doing was pretty fun, and I liked the finish product, which looks like regular ribbing except it’s nice and soft and squishy.


We stuck around for door prizes, but no luck this year (though since I’m still loving the  Hiya Hiyas I won last year, I’m set for like the next ten Woolfests).  V made a suggestion that we go across the street for coffee and pie, but sadly, the restaurant was closed. Not to be thwarted, we moved on down the road and tried two other places before we finally found a place that was 1)open and 2)offering coffee and dessert. Thank you, Rambler’s of Wamego!

I had the brownie sundae, V had the blondie sundae. So delicious!
I had the brownie sundae, V had the blondie sundae. So delicious!

While indulging in dessert therapy, we chatted about writing and conventions. V is one of my writer friends, and since she’s more knowledgeable on the subject, I like to pick her brain and get her feedback. We drank coffee and visited for a couple hours, finally calling it a night before the sun went down completely.

I walked home, and I walked fast since I didn’t have the foresight to use the restroom before leaving the restaurant (fail). Luckily, many of the ice patches from the morning had melted, so it was a pretty smooth walk. The temperature was perfect, though the slight chill did cause a little bit of lung discomfort (nothing to worry about…it’s happened for years).

Besides the fact that the day was a blast, it also served as a good way to mark some strides in my health and mobility. Though last year was fun, I remember not being able to stand and walk as much. I remember taking frequent sit-down breaks, taking the elevator, and taking as few extra walks as humanly possible. In fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t take any extra walks. And I drove.

This year, I walked to and from the event. I took the stairs going up at least four times (took the elevator going down, but that’s because going down stairs hurts my knees with legitimate “have to stop walking” pains). I didn’t mind making extra trips, and even took an extra trip back to the restaurant to get a bottle of water. It was seriously awesome.

I’m going to finish up some things online, maybe play some Candy Crush, then lay down to read. The weather is supposed to be really nice tomorrow, so the plan is to go to the zoo to see the animals “open” their enrichment gifts. I love a trip to the zoo. Plus, if it’s as nice as it’s supposed to be, I’m going to soak up as much outdoor therapy as I can to prepare for the coming work week.

Until tomorrow…



And One Day, I Actually Got Lucky…

I won a raffle!

Specifically, I won the raffle at the Winter Woolfest. People on my Facebook already know this because I had to share the day it happened, but it’s taken me this long to actually get a blog post up about it (the new year is turning out to be a busy one already).

The day of the Woolfest, I bought six raffle tickets, figuring there was no way I was going to win. I never win raffles (I’m also fairly unlucky at the casino too). But it was supporting the local school’s Music Boosters and so I deemed it a good cause, as I still have fond memories from my own days in junior high and high school band.

Not going to lie, a little part of me spent the whole afternoon hoping I’d get a phone call or an email telling me I won, because I figured they’d draw right at the end of the event. I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get either. Disappointed, but not surprised. A couple days later, I even checked the page to see if a winner was announced, but didn’t see anything, so I figured they just didn’t publicize it (they didn’t publicize it anyway, so that really has no bearing on the story).

Then on Wednesday, I got a call on my cell phone. It was a local number, but being at work and being in the middle of something, I let it go to voicemail. Curiosity got the better of me though, and I went ahead and checked it shortly after.

It was The Wicked Stitch telling me I’d won the raffle. And sure enough, I checked my email and it was there too.

I first proceeded to do a victory dance in my cubicle, which I later regretted partially because I looked foolish but mostly because I think it caused me to hurt my back. I then went to the hallway to call and confirm the message and that I’d be by later that day to pick up the prize. While there, I saw my boss and did another dance, just for her, to celebrate my luck.

While this was happening, I did realize that not everyone appreciates winning a brand new set of knitting needles. But that didn’t matter, because I’d won them and I was thrilled.

Sharp, shiny, and beautiful!
Sharp, shiny, and beautiful!
A full set of HiyaHiya needle in pretty cases.
A full set of HiyaHiya needle in pretty cases.

The two cases contain a full set of interchangeable needles from size 2 to 15 and several cords of varying sizes, including one long enough to do magic loop, which is my preferred method of small circumference knitting. I realize I could take everything out and put them all in one case, but I’ve decided just to keep them both in my larger knitting bag because they’re so cure and compact.

Having not previously knitted with HiyaHiyas, but having heard good things about them, I went ahead and found a project to take them for a spin with. So far, I love them. I like metal needles, and they’re lightweight with a nice flexible cable. They’re also slippery, which is good for fast knitting, though I have to be careful I don’t lose my stitches.

They’re also noisy. This isn’t a complaint. I love the sound of knitting needles at work. But I don’t think I’ll be taking them into a movie theater any time soon.

This might be my only “win” of the year, but if so, it was well worth it!


Winter Woolfest 2013

Yesterday I went to Wamego’s annual Winter Woolfest.  I’ve been having some social anxiety again lately and so I was a little nervous about going, especially because I decided to attend a demo and a class, and sometimes, learning new things is stressful for me.

Luckily, the social anxiety stayed away, and I had a really good time. I got there early because I wanted to sign up for one of the limited space demos. The vendors were already set up and several other attendees were in line waiting for class sign up.

The first demo I attended was about shuttle tatting. Truthfully, I had no idea what tatting even was prior to the demonstration.  I found out yesterday that tatting is a way of making crisp lacework by making knots with thread and a tool called a shuttle (you can also do it with needles, but the person doing the demo made a good case for using a shuttle and that’s what she was showing us how to do).

Tatting looks fun, and though this wasn’t a class, I did sign up to take a class if they offer one in the future. It looks intricate but not complicated, and like knitting, it looks like once I get the hang of it I’ll find it nice and relaxing.

At the demo, I met up with my friend V and we did a little more browsing before going to the Mexican restaurant down the street.


This was my first time eating at Toto’s Tacos, but it was tasty and the inside is cute. It’s only open for lunch most days, so we got there early to beat the crowd and spend some time relaxing. While there, we met another knitter/spinner. The three of us exchanged numbers and planned to meet up for the local knit night in a couple weeks.

After lunch, it was back to the Woolfest where we did some more browsing. Every time I go to one of these things, J. Felbs tells me to bring him home a miniature alpaca, one the size of a Corgi. I’m sure he knows they don’t exist, but a man can dream, I guess.

V and the Little Alpaca
V and the Little Alpaca

I didn’t actually bring this one home, but it was adorable.  Among the other vendor booths were yarn and roving and tools, and it was painful to walk by without buying anything. I was saving my spending money for after the last demo. Plus, I’m trying to pare down my yarn stash before acquiring anymore, but saying “no” to new yarn is not easy.

Before our second class, we hung out with Stephanie (our new knitter friend from Toto’s) at the spinning wheels for a little bit, and I finished knitting my own project. Not long after, the drop spindle class V and I wanted to go to started.

The spinning wheels looked fun…this may be a thing in my own fiber arts future…

I’ve avoided spinning for a long time. The idea never really interested me until recently, and then, even though I started having a passing thought to try it, I didn’t think I really needed another hobby. But when V suggested we try it, I decided to see how it worked. Besides watching other people spin, seeing all the beautiful colors of roving at the fest also sparked my curiosity.

I borrowed a drop spindle and roving from the instructor and gave it a try. At first, I couldn’t seem to get what everyone was doing. Spatial tasks don’t always sink in right away for me, so I needed a little extra help from V. Eventually, though, I figured it out. The techniques the instructor taught weren’t easy for me to follow, so I sort of modified things a bit. Apparently, like knitting or crocheting, there’s really no wrong or right way to do it. It’s all about getting a finished project.

Though I enjoyed it, I decided to hold off on buying a spindle and roving. V’s going to let me try it a few more times on her tools. When it comes to hobbies, I tend to go all in, spend a lot of money, do it a few times, and then let everything it on the shelf and collect dust. I figure a few more times trying it should give me a better idea as to whether it’ll be something I pick up on a regular basis. If I continue to like it, then spinning will be in my future.

It was a good time at the Woolfest and I’m glad I went. Besides just being a good morning, it also sparked my enthusiasm for knitting and learning new things. I’m definitely going to try to make it back next year.