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My obsession with knitting ebbs and flows with the seasons. During high season (October-April), when I am insanely busy rehearsing and concertizing with the Sarasota Orchestra, I need to knit as an escape. Because I am a performer, many people automatically assume I am a “people person”. Far from it! I have many friends who find groups and crowds of people energizing; they seem to feed off of the collective energy. I, on the other hand, find it draining to be around people – especially big groups of people – for any length of time over about 20 minutes.

So during season, if I’m not on stage in a rehearsal or concert, I’ll be backstage at Van Wezel or Neel or Symphony Center knitting something. It gives my mind the space I need to recharge while allowing me to socialize one-on-one when a colleague stops by to see what my latest project is. (It also keeps my fingers warmed up while on break!) If I’m home, chances are that I’m on my stationary bike, pedaling away while knitting. (I’ve learned that long scarves are dangerous on the bike – they tend to get caught and wrapped around the pedals if I’m not careful.) My current goal is to “virtually” ride old Route 66 on my bike while knitting – I’m about halfway to the Santa Monica Pier that marks the end of the journey.

Outside of high season, my time belongs much more to me and I sometimes go days without knitting. Then I miss it and end up back at Picasso’s Moon, hanging out and knitting and spinning with whoever else drops by. It is funny, though, how the more I have to do, the more I get done. Somehow, when I feel like I have all the time in the world, I don’t do anything because I know there’s time. That’s why I’m really glad I volunteered to lead some KAL’s and write this blog for the store this summer.

Tell me – where do you knit?

-Anne

That’s what Cheeko said when I tried to explain my latest project – a double-knitted, reversible, Fair Isle bag I designed to hold my writing stuff. It became the project’s nickname: the “my brain hurts” bag.  I admit the knitting was a bit more complicated than anything I’d attempted, especially since I’d never tried Fair Isle knitting, double-knitting, or designing before. But hey, science says to keep the brain active – use it or lose it.

“my brain hurts” bag

I’m inviting you to join me in keeping your brain active and engaged by participating in my first KAL (knit-along). I am hosting a series of KAL’s, each focused on 1 or 2 specific skills. The first one involves reading charts, a bit of lace knitting, and optional beads. (Okay, so that’s technically 3 skills if you do the beads. The charts are small, the lace knitting simple, the beads optional, and I’ll guide your hands as much as you need me to!) I’ll be available in person at Picasso’s Moon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11:30 – 1:30 throughout the summer as well as on this blog and through the Picasso Moon Facebook page. If needed, I’ll also make appointments to meet you at the store outside of the MWF lunch hours.

The first project will be a neckerchief/short scarf. The pattern will be a free pattern from the new Picasso’s Moon Originals collection (more details to follow). I’m moving the starting date by a week, to start on July 23, 2012. This will give me time to put the finishing details on the pattern. Keep watch in the next few days for a list of materials needed!

Let me end here with a thought from Linda Medina, Designer:  “Explore outside the rules, and don’t ever be afraid to try something new or to make mistakes. You never know where they will lead you. After all, it’s only knitting. You can always rip out.”

-Anne

You may have noticed that there’s been a lack of posting for the past few weeks. Where have I been?

Boo-Boo

I took a week-long trip to NC to visit family and pick up the latest member of my household, Boo-Boo.

The week-and-a-half before leaving, I was frantically knitting a beaded shawl (the Aeolian shawl by Elizabeth Freeman at knitty.com) for my niece. Her favorite color is red, and I promised her a beaded shawl as a present – and I told her that the number of beads on the shawl represent how much I love her!  I was literally knitting all day, every day. Beads are added with a crochet hook. Time was lost when I spilled the 8.0 seed beads in the carpet. Weeks later, I’m still finding them!

More time was lost when I messed up a row and needed to tink. Since the shawl starts at the top and grows towards the bottom, do you think I erred in the beginning?  Of course not. I had to wait until the rows were long and more complicated. Good thing I thrive on deadlines.

Aeolian shawl by Elizabeth Freeman

Aeolian shawl by Elizabeth Freeman

As you can see, I finished it. Blocked it two nights before I left, and was thankful it dried very quickly. There is now a young woman in NC who is very happy!

On the trip itself, I started and finished the project I’m presenting as my first KAL. More on that in an upcoming post, but let me just say it’s a quick little knit that serves as a good introduction to chart-reading and – if you so desire – beaded knitting.

They say the best way to learn is by doing!!

-Anne

Florida is a funny place to be a knitter, if you think about it. We wear heavy sweaters maybe 1 week out of the year? Gloves, mittens, hats ... they all get much more use up north. Knitting afghans or blankets is a lovely thought, until you realize that what you knit will be in your lap, growing bigger and heavier and warmer with every row. Not an enticing thought when it's over 80 before the sun is up with humidity at near 100%. That's why I love knitting lace. It's cooler and lighter because of the holes that make up the lace pattern, and it works well in places like the movie theater or Van Wezel where the a/c makes you want a little something to warm your shoulders. The drawback? CHARTS. Those scary, intimidating things that may as well be written by some alien species that doesn't think like us. You look at the "picture", think about how you've heard people singing the praises of charts because it's easy to see the pattern, and don't get it. It looks like a foreign language. (A fellow musician actually made that comment to me ... I was backstage before a rehearsal, knitting from a chart. He came up beside me, watched for a few seconds, then said "you can read that thing? It's like it's written in Arabic or something." I told him it was like reading music - once you know what the symbols mean and how they're laid out on the page, a little practice and it's as easy as reading a book!) It's not just lace charts show up in, either. They're used in colorwork like intarsia and Fair Isle and in cable patterns. The thing is, once you learn how to read a chart, it really is just like reading. The various symbols and colors are the equivalent of letters. First you learn what they mean, then you figure out how they're laid out on the page and how it corresponds to your knitting. Once you're reading, it opens up new worlds to knit! Now, you probably didn't learn to read on your own. It helps to have someone sit down with you and guide you through the chart. That's where I and Picasso's Moon come in. This Friday (6/8/12) I will be at Picasso's Moon from 11-3 to help anyone and everyone with charts. Whether you have a specific chart you need help with, or you just want to wet your feet in general (or  dive in headfirst!), I would love to help you. If you've ever dreamed of being able to navigate around a knitting chart, but dismissed it as out of your league, please come and give it a try. If you've tried following a chart but gotten hopelessly lost, come find your way. I want to show you around the world of charts. -Anne

Welcome to the world of Picasso’s Moon. Home base is a funky little yarn shop on Fruitville Road in Sarasota (antiques are in the back!). The world expands outward as customers and their wheels and needles travel to yarn festivals, spinning workshops, craft showcases, and their northern homes (we love snowbirds). We’ll be exploring the people and the yarns they spin – both literally and figuratively – who find their way to Picasso’s Moon.

Stay tuned.

-Anne

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