Opera Anyone?

The highlight of my stay in Sydney was visiting the Opera House. We got a view of it from a ferry. Although it was overcast and rainy, the structure was breathtaking.

Sydney Opera House from harbor

Some of us opted to take a tour, which highlighted the difficulties in creating the amazing architecture. Most was difficult to capture on my cell phone, but I did get an interesting photo of some concrete support beams.

Sydney Opera House structure

Most surprising to me was the exterior. I expected the white “shells” to be smooth. Instead, they’re made up of millions of 2″ tiles that make a stunning mosaic pattern.

Sydney Opera House tiles

After the tour, we had a light dinner at the Opera House cafe, then returned inside to see what I believe must be the most amazing production of Madame Butterfly ever! I managed to get a quick photo of the stage before the lights went out, the curtain lifted, and the audience was absolutely enthralled.

Madam Butterfly about to start

Backing Up

It’s been nearly a month since I returned from the Craft Cruise from Sydney, Australia, to Auckland, New Zealand, and I have yet to post any photos. It’s been a whirlwind of teaching and catching up since I returned and some things just had to wait.

Today, I want to show you some images from the first excursion we took in Sydney, Australia.

Here I am in the beautiful Blue Mountains forgetting all about my broken arm.

me at Blue Mountains






Here’s another photo of the Blue Mountains.

Blue Mountains view

And another photo taken while riding an aerial tram. The waterfalls were amazing.

Blue Mountains from ariel tram

From the Blue Mountains, we visited a wildlife park, where I got to pet a koala! I’m the one with open eyes — koalas sleep about 20 hours a day. There must be opiates in those eucalyptus leaves they eat. Hmm, that might be better than hydrocodone….

me petting koala

I also saw tiny penguins and lots of kangaroos.

penguins at nature preservekangaroo

A Day in Melbourne

After cruising for a day (during which I taught a class), we docked in Melbourne, Australia. Most of the Craft Cruise participants took a tour of the National Wool Museum, where we saw the region’s wool story–from the sheep’s back to the clothes rack, and from the birth of the industry in the 1840s to its place in the world today.

Here’s a rug loom in action. I’m still kicking myself for not purchasing one of these rugs!

wool museum rug loom

From the Wool Museum, we traveled to the Tarndie Homestead & Heritage Sheep Farm. This sheep farm has been run by the Dennis family since 1840. They developed the Polworth breed in the mid-1800s, which has since spread around the world to areas of similar climates.

We got to feed and pet these friendly creatures (I kept my arm in a sling in case one of them knocked me down).

me feeding sheep

We then set off to visit the Australian Tapestry Workshop, where we got to see huge tapestries in the making.

Wool museum tapestry room

We also got to shop for the tapestry wool they use. I don’t know how many hundreds of color they have to choose from, but it was so overwhelming that I couldn’t make a choice and walked away empty handed.

wool museum yarn colors

Hill Country Weavers Annual Retreat

Last year over this weekend the Hill Country Weavers in Austin, Texas, held their first-ever retreat–Knitting In The Hills Getaway. I had the good fortune to be one of the first teachers (Romi Hill was the other). Because this was on of the best organized and funnest retreats I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a lot), I was disappointed that my schedule wouldn’t allow me to attend this year.

Well, it just so happens that at the retreat last year I became good friends with the organizer, Cindy, who felt bad that I couldn’t join in this years fun (I think my broken arm added to her pity). So what did she do? She sent me the same swag bag that was given to all the attendees.

Swag bag with presents

Last night we connected on FaceTime as I opened all the wrapped gifts. And, as last year, the gifts were superb:

Swag bag gifts

In addition to the large tote (with a square base!), the gifts included a 400-yd yd skein of Civility Sport (70% U.S. merino, 30% mulberry silk), complements of Elemental Affects; a small tube of highlighter tape; a Knitter’s Pride Row Counter; the book Zealana Passport Fall/Winter 2014, featuring patterns by Cirilia Rose (one of this year’s instructors) and including a color card; a set of my most favorite Brittany cable needles; two small pom-pom makers from Clover; a Magma Knitting Pattern Holder (for holding and storing knitting patterns and charts), also from from Knitter’s Pride (I am so going to take this with me on my trip to Australia/New Zealand later this month!); a Try-It-On Tubing for handknitters that allows you to add length to circular needles so you can try your sweater on as you go (a perfect companion for The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, by the way), from Machine Knitting to Dye For; a ceramic mug that’s embossed with a cable-rib pattern from Leed’s that will become my new morning coffee cup; a Blade-650 mini digital pocket scale with a 650-gram capacity (great for telling how much yarn you have leftover) from American Weigh Scales; and last, but certainly not least, a handmade small project knitting bag made by Magic Junie Sews, which I will most certainly take on my trip to Australia/New Zealand.

What a great haul!

I encourage you to sign up for next year’s Knitting in the Hills Getaway you can fit it in your schedule — I promise you won’t be disappointed.


Space Available on Craft Cruise Australia/New Zealand Trip

I am reaching out to everyone I can think of who may still have interest in joining the 2-week Craft Cruise (trip from Sydney, Australia, to Auckland, New Zealand, or who may have contact with people who might want to attend. For personal reasons, one knitter had to cancel and will lose quite a bit of money because her reason for canceling is not covered by her travel insurance.
This is going to be a fantastic trip — it’s certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. Craft Cruises is in the final stages of firming up the private shore events. Not only will we be going to all sorts of great places, but we’ll connect with fabulous designers, yarn producers, farmers, and knitters along the way.  The cruise departs from Sydney, Australia, on Sunday, March 22, 2015 and disembarks in Auckland, New Zealand, on (Easter) Sunday, April 5, 2015.
The cost is about $2,100, which includes all meals, endless entertainment, and the opportunity for four days of knitting classes (air fare from the U.S. will be an additional $2,000).
Below are links to some highlights in addition to the on-board class program and the visit to Tasmania (which is reason enough to go on this cruise).
Contact me if you’re interested!

Why I’m a Spoiled Brat #21

A little over a month ago I attended the Hill Country Weavers’s retreat in Austin, Texas. As if having more fun than should be legal wasn’t enough, I received another gift for teaching. Cindy, the main organizer and one of my best besties knitted this hat for me.

Hill Country Hat 1 Hill Country Hat 2

This is called the Keep Austin Weird Hat. It’s made with two contrasting skeins of Noro yarn (though I can’t tell where one skein begins and the other ends in this hat) and is incredibly warm and comfortable. Even my twenty-year-old sons approve. Contact Hill Country Weavers for the pattern — I’m sure they’d send it to you.

Where I live, spring is a three-month fight between winter and summer. There are sure to be many more cold days before summer wins. And I plan to wear this hat every one of them!

Home From the Hills

Last weekend, I had the good fortune to teach for the first-ever Knitting in the Hills Getaway sponsored by Hill Country Weavers in Austin, Texas. Nestled in the hills outside of Austin, Romi Hill and I joined 60 students for three days of pure bliss at the Red Corral Ranch, which is a popular site for weddings.

This was a pure Cadillac experience. We were greeted by a white peacock in full regalia (a nod to the brides, I suppose).

Hill Country peacock white

Other peacocks roamed the grounds and perched in stately oaks outside the classrooms.

Hill Country peacocks in tree

Throughout the weekend, our every need was attended to, including gourmet catered meals, an on-site massage therapist, comfortable beds, door prizes, raffle prizes, blackberry margaritas, and lots and lots of hand-dyed yarn.

If you want to have a lot of fun and experience some true Texas hospitality, get on the Hill Country Weavers mailing list so you can be the first to sign up for the retreat next year.


A Ressurected Scarf

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I head to San Juan Island, Washington, for Cat Bordhi’s week-long Visionary Retreat (unfortunately, Cat has other travel plans so she won’t join us this year). This intensive retreat is for people in the craft industry to get together and share knowledge and resources to help one another publish their work.

For the next week, I’ll partake in intense discussions about the knitting industry, review book ideas, offer advice to potential authors, seek input on my projects, and rub elbows with some of the most influential and innovative people in the knitting world. If last year is any indication, I’ll come away exhausted but invigorated with new ideas and renewed energy.

I don’t know how much time I’ll have to knit (meetings often continue into the evening hours), but I plan to work on a shawl that I started with yarn I received at last year’s retreat. One of the many perks of the retreat is that yarn companies donate yarn in the hopes that it will find its way into a visionary publication. Last year, I walked away with a hefty skein of Marine Silk Lace from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. It’s 868 yards of a luscious blend of 51% silk, 29% merino, and 20% sea cell rayon with heavenly sheen and glorious drape. I promptly wound the yarn into a ball and started a reversible scarf. But I soon put it down when other deadlines arose. It’s been quietly nagging me every since. I think it’s fitting that I should finish it at the retreat this year. At least I’ll be able to knit on the plane and ferry.

Getting Started

Knitter’s Review Retreat Recap

A couple week ago I had the very good fortune to join 120 other knitters in Canandaigua, New York, for the twelfth-annual Knitter’s Review Retreat, hosted by the most lovely Clara Parkes. This was my fifth year. In the past, I’ve attended as an instructor but this year I treated myself to full experience and attended, as Clara put it, “as a civilian and loving every minute of it.”

I’ve been to a lot of retreats, gatherings, etc., but this one stands out as really special. In addition to two classes (I took Knitting Happily Ever After with Carson Demers and Knit to Flatter with Amy Herzog), there was ample time to relax and knit with the friends I’ve made over the years, join in riveting discussions about yarn, fit, and ergonomics, shop for yarn, and have all my meals prepared for me.

In a nutshell, here’s what I learned this year:

  • I can travel across country and partake in a knitting event without any mishaps, which is quite a relief after the series of “challenges” I faced earlier this fall.
  • Three to four days a year of having no responsibilities is a must (I hope my husband reads this).
  • I can knit to flatter my body size and shape (thank you Amy Herzog!).
  • If I take more breaks while knitting, I can knit longer (thank you Carson Demers!).
  • I love to wear my knitted skirt, Putting on the Pleats!
  • No matter how fervently I promise myself I will not accumulate any more yarn, I will.

KRR 2013 yarns

Clockwise from lower left: fingering weight yarn from Hedgehog Fibres for socks or a shawl (a gift from fellow retreater, Minh, who is currently living in the UK), Brooklyn Tweed Shelter for a cardigan, and  Spirit Trail Brigantia for, guess what? — another skirt!

Good thing winter has arrived — I’ve got a LOT of knitting to do.