Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bloggin' on hiatus while moving

It's true - the Yarn Widower went and got himself a job in North Palm Beach Florida. He's asked me to come along and seeing how we're married and all, I very graciously said yes. I forgot how much of a hassle moving can be. Note to self, moving is a Big Deal. Lots of coordinating, strategizing and negotiating. Not to mention the packing, the cleaning, obtaining new digs while unloading old place. This is all fine and good except it leaves little time/energy for knitting or writing. Enough to make a girl cranky.

I'm thinking of asking the Yarn Widower for a raise. Or at least a new Nikon D40.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008

Voting = Long Lines. The last presidential election, I waited in line for an hour before I gave up and decided that I'd rather spend the next hour taking a nap. Besides, I was feeling pretty bleah about Kerry and disillusioned about the whole process after the Gore vs. Bush fiasco. I know, shirking my civic duty and whatnot.

But this time around, I was prepared. I had two knitting projects tucked away in my bag. Just in case I got bored of one then I could switch to the other. I was ready to spend the next few hours waiting to cast my vote. Yarn Widower tried to vote at 6A this morning and turned back when he saw the line snaking out the door onto the sidewalk. So I figured I'd wait until about mid morning. At 10A, I walked the few blocks to our polling place. Once I got past the political evangelists and their signs (The End is Nigh!!!!! So vote for...) I was pleasantly surprised to be ushered into the inner sanctum and without much ado I voted. There was no waiting involved. I just walked up to some very nice people, handed over my driver's license, recited my name and address and then... I voted. Just like that.

No knitting at this polling place. Not for me anyway.

Afterwards, I walked over to Starbucks and got my free cup of coffee. Patriotic Blend. I called the Yarn Widower and told him, "Go vote now. The line at Starbucks is longer than the line at the polling place."

May the best man win.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Climate-Appropriate Knitwear

I love my mother-in-law. I know that this goes against convention but hey, that's me. I'm a rebel.

So when I wanted to make something for her birthday, I wanted it to be really special. Last year, I had this crazy notion that I wanted to knit her a shawl. Looking back, this is crazy because I hadn't picked up my knitting needles in over ten years and had to go to the library to get a how-to book. Who knits a whole freaking shawl as a warm-up project? Also, I knit it out of acrylic. I know, not too classy but I wasn't the fiber snob that I am now. And she lives in the desert - Palm Springs California where winter is just one week long and it's not even a proper winter. She swears she used it when she would sit out on her patio at night. But I don't know... I think she's just trying to be nice.

Pattern: Sunspots Cardigan KK275 by Karabella
Yarn: KnitPicks Cotlin in Coral
Needles: US 7

The pattern uses a Barbara Walker stitch pattern called Sunspots. It's a fun knit - definitely not TV knitting. But so many errors in the pattern. Left and right are mixed up at one point and the charts for the decreases are completely wrong. I searched Karabella's website for errata and when I couldn't find anything I emailed them. Two weeks later I got a response telling me to email Berta K (the designer) directly. Nothing. So I winged it. I got out my trusty Stitch Motif Maker 3 and charted the decreases myself. The first chart I did is a little wonky although it didn't make much of a difference in the end result. It was so frustrating that for a pattern I actually spent money on I couldn't get any help on the errata. But I do have to say that by the end of this project, I was feeling pretty confident. Yeah, I got skills. I got mad skills.

As for the yarn, I had knitted with Cotlin before and liked it but I'm not sure if it was the best yarn for this project. I chose Cotlin because I wanted to keep in mind that the recipient lives in the desert. Cotton and linen are ideal fibers for warmer weather but the end result didn't drape as well as I would have liked. Too stiff. Maybe it will relax with wear.

My mother-in-law loved it. She called the Yarn Widower right away (I rarely answer my cell phone and often forget to turn it on). I knew he was talking about the cardigan when he said, "It beats the crap out of anything Nan used to knit." Cheeky.

Here's a crappy picture of me modeling it. I should have used the flash. And sat up straighter. And put on makeup. Maybe drop a few pounds. But hey, I still got mad skills.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stupid Knitting Trick

And by "stupid" I mean "totally brilliant in a loonytunes kind of way".

I stumbled upon this video while looking up backwards knitting on youtube. Thanks, Carissalb, where ever you are. This is simply awe inspiring.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I attract knitters

Last week I went to Michigan for the weekend. A bunch of the Yarn Widower's friends were getting together for a little reunion so we rented a house on Lake Michigan. Out of 14 people, I was the only knitter.

But as I was working on a sock while watching the sunset on the beach, a woman walked by and asked to see what I was knitting. It turns out that she owns the knitting store in town. And was staying in the house right next door. Cool.

Unfortunately there wasn't enough time the next day to actually go visit her LYS. What a shame. I would have liked that.

So what else to do in Michigan? We visited a working windmill in the city of Holland.

After the tour we got into the spirit of things and tried on some Dutch footwear.

I couldn't tear the Yarn Widower away from an intense game of giant checkers.

More grist for the mill...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I. Would. Dye for. U

Yesterday I had the great privilege of attending a workshop taught by superstar local dyer Karida Collins, proprietress of Neighborhood Fiber Company. I first encountered Karida's hand-dyed yarn at Knit Happens in Alexandria, VA. In fact, my very first post on this blog highlighted her yarn.

So when I found out that she was offering this workshop, I jumped. I've often wanted to try dyeing but felt intimidated by all the extra equipment I would need to get (less space for yarn!). Also, Yarn Widower would have a fit if I goofed up something in our apartment and had to sacrifice the security deposit - times are tight.

Karida greeted all four of us warmly at her charming home in Mt. Ranier, Maryland (just outside of DC). Since it was threatening to rain, we spent most of our time in her home studio.

Here's Karida during our discussion of color theory. Yes, that's a dust mask sitting on her head. Safety first.

Actually, lunch first. Karida had prepared a lovely spinach - goat cheese quiche with pasta salad on the side. Complete with iced tea infused with mint from her backyard garden.

After lunch we got down to business. Karida put us to work. We each got four hanks of sock yarn pre-soaked and ready for color. It was interesting to see how each of our approaches was so different. I was a little shy and hesitant at first - dabbing a little color here and there. My tablemate Heather was far bolder - she jumped right in and mixed it all up. After our first hank, we all oohed and aahed over each other's work, compared notes and then went back to experimenting.

Here are two of my skeins.

I named the first one DNA electrophoresis. Karida suggested Spring Flowers which is a far prettier name. The second one I named Citrine Supernova. Can you tell that I'm a science geek at heart? I didn't take pictures of my last two - I was too busy dyeing.

After the application of dye, we heat set the color in the microwave and soaked the yarn before rinsing. Karida did all the grunt work (mixing the dye, cleaning our brushes, rinsing and drying) freeing us to play with color.

It was a good day. Yarn, color and dogs. Karida's two rat terriers - Honey and Trixie kept us company and provided editorial commentary. Apparently, growling = good.

Say wha?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Lace Knitter - who me?

I've been knitting lace. To tell you the truth, I'm a little surprised at myself. For one, I've never been a lace enthusiast. Over the years I've been slowly graduating from Doc Martens to Danskos and finally to the occasional stiletto heel but I've never been a very fancy girl and certainly not a wearer of lace. Despite my recent girlification, lace has never once entered my wardrobe (well, not on anything fit for public display). It just seemed too uber feminine for this former tomboy. To me, lace was too reminiscent of doilies under the Hummel figurine collection. Something that was just purely decorative had no place in my heart.

But the thing with purely decorative is that they're often so purdy. Especially knitted lace. And once I got the hang of the yarnover before purl thing, I had to give it a shot. So I started knitting Veronik Avery's Lace Ribbon Scarf. Not too girly, no floral patterns - just nice elegant almost geometric lace. No crazy chart to follow. Easy-peasy! I ended up using the wrong yarn for the pattern though. Noro Hotaru - beautiful slubby multicolored yarn with each strand looking like a branch studded with cherry blossoms. Beautiful but not a great yarn for this project. Someday, I'll knit this pattern again with a quieter less flamboyant yarn.

I was inspired by the Hotaru's resemblance to cherry blossoms and the lovely warm weather so my next lace project was Melanie Gibbons' Hanami Stole - another geometric lace design. For this project, my yarn choice turned out to be perfect. Linen laceweight from Rio de la Plata. Before seeing this yarn, I had never considered linen as a lace yarn even though I suppose back in the day, linen showed up in a lot of lace. I had initially roped two local friends from ravelry (the ever so talented Jooney and Waffleking1) to do an informal knitalong but alas our schedules proved too challenging and other projects too alluring so we haven't met in a while. Unfortunately, this also means I haven't worked on it for a while. Well, I almost have the basketweave part done...

And in the middle of all this lace madness, I remembered that my beloved mother-in-law's birthday was just about a month away. And I had the perfect pattern for her. My most ambitious lace project yet - here is a little teaser (mom-in-law hasn't received it yet; hopefully by the time I post about it, I'll have some nice pictures of her modeling it).

Suffice it to say, I am converted. Lace is my new best friend. Sure, I'll wear lace (as soon as I'm finished with the Hanami stole - I shall wear it!). And continue knitting lace. It's fun. I like the total absorption that learning a new lace pattern requires of me. I like the leap of faith as I dutifully follow instructions, puzzle out mistakes, rip back and reknit to be finally rewarded with a discernible pattern. Lace. It's something magical to turn a bunch of string into a well-organized beautiful thing.

So bring on the lace, I say! Although the Yarn Widower draws the line at anything resembling a doily. And he threatens marital strife when Hummel figurines are mentioned.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Field Trip! Furnace Mountain Alpacas

When my friend Bobbi invited me along to an alpaca farm, I agreed. Why not, I thought, this is exactly why God made Zyrtec. Besides, this particular alpaca farmer was also a knitter and had started a fledgling alpaca yarn company. Oooo - yarn. Who cares if I'm allergic to alpaca - as long as I get to fondle some yarn!

So last week, we drove out to Lovettsville, Virginia - home of Furnace Mountain Alpacas to meet Sharon Babbin and her alpacas. Sharon describes herself as a recovering attorney turned alpaca farmer. When she decided to hightail it out of DC, she fled to the Virginia countryside, found a beautiful piece of property and built her house. Having been a horse person, she wanted some equine companionship but her husband was allergic to them. So she started looking at other species and settled on alpacas which were touted to be hypoallergenic. Always the intrepid knitter, I decided to test this out and left my allergy medications at home. Bring on the alpacas!

Sharon hugging Gabriel

Driving up the bucolic lane to a lovely house overlooking the valley, I was greeted at the door by Sharon's two dogs Gus and Hank. Sharon also has a cat named Meathead (who I was afraid to pet without my Zyrtec so I simply waved from afar). We had lunch, chatted and then went to meet the alpacas: two black males Gabriel and Magic and two pregnant females Chloe and Ciara. The critters were a little shy around new people but Sharon handled them gracefully and they soon eased up enough for us to approach them. Gabriel even hummed a bit although it sounded more like whining.

Alpacas purr/hum!

Taking the boys out for a walk

Seeing as how the girls were preggers, we left them alone. Chloe, however, was still quite inquisitive and kept giving us the eyeball.

But as soon as she realized that I was looking back, she gave me another view. Photogenic from every angle! How do you do it, Chloe?

These critters sure are soft. When Sharon has them sheared, she sends their fleece (along with others from fellow domestic alpacas) to a mill in Georgia. This is pure 100% hypoallergenic domestic alpaca. According to Sharon, this ensures that no other fibers are blended in which is sometimes the case with South American alpaca and may explain my prior problems with alpaca. And let me tell you, this yarn is heaven. Sharon leaves them all undyed letting the natural color of the fibers really shine. Some yarns are from a single animal but most are blended to give consistency to the yarns. Pictures do not do this yarn justice - this is truly something that needs to be felt.

Like butta...

This is the kind of yarn that coos and hums "Take me home, make me yours, I'm softer than the finest cashmere." Mmm. Before I knew it, I had taken a skein and rubbed it against my cheek. I was initially aghast at my breach of yarny etiquette (one does not rub one's facial oils onto someone else's yarn) but then I noticed no sneezing, no watery eyes, no runny nose. I put the yarn up to my face again and took a deep inhale. I'll just have to buy you, take you home and make you mine, I rationalized to myself. So I did.

Bobbi went a bit more crazy. Not only did she get yarn but also a braided alpaca bag and three woven rugs. All the fleece that doesn't meet Sharon's high quality standards for yarn gets made into bags and rugs. These are gorgeous items and I had to fondle them. Bobbi is quite the enabler - "you know you want one..." But I resisted. Besides, I was more than happy with my yarn.

Soon it was time to go. We said goodbye to the dogs.

Hank wanted his picture taken before we left.

Gus had better things to do.

Monday, August 11, 2008

No - not on the knitting!

Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks this yarn is soft. I turn my back for just one minute and Harry decides to get all comfy.

Harry, wouldn't you rather sit on something else? The Yarn Widower, perhaps?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

May Baby Dress

Pattern: Dress with Eyelets by Debbie Bliss from her book Baby Knits for Beginners
Date finished: May 30, 2008
Needles: US 6 to get the recommended gauge
Yarn: KnitPicks Cotlin in color Swan
I used approximately 6 balls (730 yards)
Modifications: see below

I was waiting for better pictures before posting this one but I'm afraid it may never happen as the intended recipient is a very busy 15 month old who will probably grow out of this garment before getting a chance to model it for me. Such is life.

For this dress, I knew I wanted to substitute the recommended wool/cotton blend for something more suitable for steamy DC summers. I had been playing around with Knit Picks Cotlin for another project and had even swatched and washed it to see about shrinkage. Since it had the added bonus of being machine washable, it seemed like a natural match for this pattern.

The Yarn: The Cotlin is aptly named as it is a blend of cotton and linen. Knit Picks is known for quality yarns at reasonable prices (only $2.49 a ball; the materials for this dress cost me about $15). The resulting fabric is soft and totally wearable. I suspected that machine washing would cause some shrinkage and I was right - mostly in length. Easy enough, I just knew that I had to add an inch to the skirt and bodice.

The Pattern: I know I usually complain about Miss Debbie Bliss, knitwear designer extraordinaire with her own line of yarn. But I'm still so drawn to her simple lines and clean aesthetics. That being said, her pattern writers and editors usually leave a lot to be desired. Her book Baby Knits for Beginners is not a great book in which to learn knitting techniques although she does have some nice illustrations. However, it is a good book for beginners armed with some basic knitting know-how and a good knitting manual. This pattern was reasonably well written and easy to follow.

My only modifications were to add an inch to the skirt (forgot to add an inch to the bodice) and to knit a fold-over hem instead of the recommended garter stitch hem.

Overall, I was very pleased with this little garment. It looked lovely on the hanger and hopefully would have looked lovely on a real live girl.

sigh. It's hard being an aunt.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sunny Yellow Shalom

Pattern: Shalom Cardigan by Megan McFarlane - free internet pattern available on Megan's blog
Date finished: July 22, 2008
Needles: US 11 to get recommended gauge
Yarn: The Fibre Company Savannah Bulky - approximately 7 skeins or 455 yards
Modifications: I added a second button just for the heck of it. I'm crazy that way.

I had been pondering this yarn at a local yarn shop for months now. I'm a sucker for interesting fiber combinations and Savannah is a blend of organic cotton, linen, soy and merino. Intrigued, I was however put off by its price tag. Each skimpy 65 yard skein retails for a whopping $16. Eep - too rich for my blood. So there it sat on the shelves, admired only from afar.

Isn't it a wonderful thing when patience is rewarded? Savannah went on sale. Half off sale. Now that's what I'm talking about. After a brief search, I came across this pattern and it just seemed perfect for this yarn. The pattern is by first-time designer Megan McFarlane who says she's a grad student in art conservation but is really Martha Stewart's heir apparent (the brilliant doyenne of domestic arts Martha, not the insider stock trading, bitchy ex-con Martha). The writing and directions are clear and unfussy. The photography is pleasing to the eye and the production of the pattern is very professional - you can download a pdf directly from her website. The cardigan itself was a joy to knit. Very quick too - love that about bulky yarns.

The only thing that I would do differently is to add fewer stitches under the armholes. It's just a wee bit gappy right now on my not very well endowed frame. Besides that I'm very pleased with this one. It will be great to throw on over a long sleeved tee in the fall.

As for the yarn, it is a very intriguing mix. It's soft like you would expect merino wool and organic cotton to be. And soy fiber tends to be pretty soft too - almost woolly. But the linen in this yarn shows up as individual strands of vegetation. You can even pull it out at some points. Oddly enough this makes it feel a bit scratchy on the skin. I would have left out the linen and just substituted more cotton into the blend.

Overall, it's a rustic looking 2 ply yarn - slubby in some places. The Fibre Company doesn't mark dye lots - just names of their colorways. This one is dubbed Marigold. However, if you look closely in the picture, you can see that the middle panel in the yoke is a different shade. That was definitely from a different dye lot. I didn't notice until I had joined the new skein and by some stroke of luck the skein ended with the panel. A design element? Sure...

I would definitely knit this cardigan again - it's quick, cute and relatively easy. Perfect for gift-knitting. But I don't think I would get this yarn again. It's a luxury yarn as reflected by its cost and I'm glad I got the chance to knit with it. But the cost and the short yardage leaves me looking elsewhere. My friend Gwen (aka Bugheart in the Blogosphere) knit her Shalom with Cascade Revolution - a smooth wool/nylon blend. It looked quite nice on her. Maybe I'll have to get me some Cascade.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I believe in...

Driving around town today, I started to make a mental list of things that I feel quite strongly about. This was prompted by the guy driving in front of me who flicked his cigarette butt out his window. I always have to suppress an urge to honk my horn in disgust and berate such poor feebleminded folk. Hellooooo, ashtray not just for coins, stoopid. Even former chain smokers like myself know that...

My list:

I believe in corporal punishment for litterbugs. And public flogging for aforementioned litterbutts. Bring back the pillory and stocks!

I believe that most songs are better sung in languages other than English. Case in point: 99 Luftballons. Exception: anything by Bruce Springsteen.

I believe that dogs are not necessarily smarter than us - just more spiritually advanced. Exception: that dumb dog on the first floor of my apartment buliding that barks at everything that moves.

I believe that certain words/phrases are sorely underused: please, thank you, and foosball being top on my list.

I believe that there is just too much crap in this world. And by crap I mean mass produced mountains of stuff. Maybe you feel the same way. And maybe you've heard of The Story of Stuff. We live in a disposable society. And while I appreciate affordable and not so-affordable things just as much as the next person, there's something to be said for a few well-crafted made-by-hand items. I believe that we would all be much more loathe to throw our stuff away if we made it ourselves. Or if someone made it for us. Anyway, I'm going to jump on the Buy Handmade bandwagon. For one year I'm going to either make or buy only handmade items to give as gifts. Knitted items for everyone!

Hope no one minds that their birthday gifts will be at least one month late.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lovely Leaf Lace Skirt

Pattern: Lovely Leaf Lace Skirt by Celeste at Lanaknits available at hemp for knitting's website
Date finished: July 10, 2008
Needles: US 3 to get the recommended gauge of 6 sts/inch in stockinette
Yarn: Hemp for Knitting AllHemp 6 in color 21
I used approximately 4.5 skeins (760 yards?)

The only modification I made was in length - I wanted more of a pencil skirt silhouette, i.e., I wanted it to hit just below the knee. Since it is knit in the round from the bottom up, I just slipped it on after I was done with the waist decreases and kept knitting until I hit it right.

The Yarn - this was my first time knitting with hemp. Yes, it is stiff stuff but man, is it worth it. The end result is amazing. After I blocked it, it softened right up. And the drape of the resulting material is perfect for a skirt. Enough give to be comfortable but not so much that it droops around the derriere. Hemp for Knitting does a nice job with this yarn - I did not come across a single knot in all 5 skeins. My only complaint was the dye was slightly uneven in one skein despite all the skeins being from the same dye lot. This resulted in a small horizontal line near the lace part of the skirt. I only noticed it after I'd finished the lace hem and it was not enough to make me want to rip back. You can see it faintly in this picture. Despite this little glitch, this yarn made me very happy and I would gladly knit with it again.

The Pattern - kudos to Celeste. This is a gorgeous pattern. The lace hem is fun to do and I really like the end result. The pattern is written so that the lace continues up along the sides of the skirt. Which looks great but I always find that my skirts don’t behave and by the end of the day the front of the skirt is covering my bottom. So I debated about just doing a straight hem but in the end decided to just follow the pattern. After wearing it a few times, I'm glad I did. Since the i-cord drawstring sits up front, there is very little sliding around on the hips.

Pre blocking: puckered mess

Post blocking: nice, well-behaved knitted lacy thing. By the way, this skirt is only see-through when the wearer leans over to photograph the hem while standing in front of a sunny window. Fear not, intrepid knitter for this skirt is quite respectable when worn in the usual manner and does not require a fussy slip to protect anyone's modesty.

Aesthetics aside, this is also an incredibly well-written and comprehensive pattern. Celeste actually tells you what bind off to use and explains how to make an i-cord. Unlike some other pattern writers (ahem, Debbie Bliss) there was not a single head-scratching puzzling moment on the user end. Something this particular user really appreciates. Well-written pattern for lovely garment makes for happy knitter.

As Celeste mentions in the pattern, this garment stretches when wet. I ended up making the small (even though I'm more of a medium these days) and just blocked it to what I needed. Like denim, the skirt tightens up after a trip through the washer and dryer and eases a bit with wear. The small fits me fine - for now anyway.

And the Yarn Widower seems to like it. Va-va voom, he said when he saw me wear it for the first time. Or maybe those weren't his exact words but something along those lines. ;)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Photodocumentation of Knitted Gifty Thingy

Like most knitters, I want my knitted garments to be cherished and adored. And if not that, then at least it should be worn. Once.

So along with my knitted gift, I often ask for photodocumentation of recipient modeling hand-crafted gift. Especially from those who live far away and I can't personally stalk them and pounce all paparazzi-like on them. Miss Aniston, you look stunning! Who are you wearing?

So the other day, I got a lovely email with some surprise photos. Here is my sweet friend Ella and her feisty daughter Ida. And what's that I see? A scarf knitted by little ole me? Aww, how nice.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

OMG! Annie Modesitt!

I met Annie Modesitt yesterday. Not only did I meet her but she complimented my knitting! I'm usually a very modest person and don't go about tooting any horns but for this, I must make an exception.

Annie Modesitt said my stitches were beautiful!!!!

I just about fell apart with gratitude and adoration. Thankfully I was able to hold it together and pay attention for the rest of the classes that she taught at Stitch DC yesterday - Combination Knitting and a tutorial for her Cocoon Twisted Float Shrug that was on the cover of Vogue a few years ago. The Combination Knitting class was a revelation for me - I've always been vaguely annoyed by my purl stitches and now I know why. Most people's purl stitches are looser than the knits. That's because most of us Westerners use just a tiny bit more yarn in our purl stitches. Combination Knitting refers to the melding of Eastern and Western knitting traditions so that the same amount of yarn is used for both the knits and purls. East meets West. How beautiful is that?

The second class was great for imparting some tips and techniques on a very unusual stitch pattern. I don't know how Ms. Modesitt does it, but she may be a genius. The shrug is something that I probably would have never tried on my own. But having been talked through most of it by the designer herself, it feels much less daunting now.

Annie is a fantastic teacher - she is one of those rare people who can translate relatively complex ideas into elegantly simple terms. Her instruction was always clear and she took the time to make sure that we understood - a challenge in a room of almost twenty people. She came around to each of us and inspected our swatches not once but multiple times. She joked around, told stories and imparted a great amount of knitting wisdom in a relatively short period of time. By the end of the day, I was mentally pooped.

One more thing about Annie - she does not suffer fools lightly. Her voice was hoarse and at the very beginning of the class she asked that there be no talking except her own. And she had the balls to enforce it. This is something I appreciated greatly. Especially with the noisome woman at my table who felt her witticisms were too precious to be kept to herself alone. Annie can tell a good joke but she's dead serious about keeping to her lesson plan and woe be to the foolish knitter who dares interrupt.

Overall, it was a great experience for me. And not just because Annie Modesitt complimented my knitting. It was fun to learn new things and to come together with a group of fellow fiber enthusiasts and spend the day knitting. It was great to learn at the feet of a true master - someone who not only knows her shit but also how to impart her know-how with grace and humor. This morning, I registered for classes at Stitches East in Baltimore - bring on the knitting gurus for they are worth their weight in cashmere!

By the way, did I tell you what Annie Modesitt said about my knitting?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

LYS Rave! Loop in Philadelphia

I went to a yarn shop today and it was like I'd died and woke up in heaven - if heaven was a yarn store (and I'd actually behaved in this lifetime to warrant something better than purgatory).
But I digress...

1914 South Street
Philadelphia PA 19146
215 893 9939 | 877 893 9939

This impeccably neat, organized and visually stunning shop was manned by the owner Craig Rosenfeld. And even though a caravan of yarnies flooded the store shortly after I arrived, he still managed to check on me and make some helpful suggestions.

First off, they have a wall of Koigu - well, more like two columns of shelves but still, a really nice selection. Plenty of my favorite smaller yarn companies: Neighborhood Fiber, Be Sweet, Aslan Trends. And some bigger names: Sublime, Debbie Bliss, Big Sky Alpaca. Great color selection in almost every yarn and all beautifully displayed - Craig obviously has a designer's eye for color as every yarn complements its neighbors in aesthetically pleasing combinations. In fact, the whole store is aesthetically pleasing. It's roomy but very well stocked. Lots of notions, needles, patterns and books. And sale yarns are scattered throughout the store - I got some Hemp for Knitting fingering weight for a generous 40% off.

But what I think I really appreciated about Loop was its abundance of weather-appropriate fibers: lots of cottons and cotton blends. Seeing as it's a muggy 90 degrees outside, I don't really want to work with wool right now. Maybe other knitters don't necessarily feel this way but now is the time of year that I really appreciate cotton, linen, bamboo and hemp. Warm and fuzzy in a few months maybe but right now I want only cool, slick and breathable.

Thus, my other yarn purchase was Montoya Beach - an incredibly lustrous and uncharacteristically soft laceweight linen from Punta del Este yarns. Maybe perfect for the Hanami stole? Must. Not. Cast On. Yet. Have too many WIPs right now.

Overall, Loop is a definite must-visit as far as fiber stores in Philly are concerned. And as an added bonus, there's a lovely fabric store right next door - Spool. I got a really great Amy Butler pattern and was sorely tempted by lots of other stuff.

I know, I know. You're thinking, where are the pictures? Sadly, I forgot my camera at home - I've been misplacing it a lot lately and frankly I think it's a subconscious ploy to accidentally lose it so I can get another one. Like a Canon Rebel SLR (you reading this, Yarn Widower?) But had I had the clunky thing, I would have been too shy to start snapping away anyway. It's too LYS stalkerish. And I don't want to freak anyone out. And I really am kinda shy - in a bloggerish I'll share my soul with anyone on the internets kind of way.

Go visit the store. You'll like it. Tell'em the Yarn Widower sent ya.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Whipsawed by the WIPs

Lack of finished objects. That's my latest excuse for lack of posting.

I have 8 UFO's on my ravelry project page. (UFO's are Unfinished Effing Objects for you non-knitterly types). Ravelry denotes them more politely as WIPs (Works in Progress).

I am whipsawed by my WIPs.

According to the Free Dictionary, one interpretation of "whipsaw" is " To cause to move or alternate rapidly in contrasting directions." Frankly, I find this describes my current condition quite adequately as I float from one project to another. But it's getting a little ridiculous. I mean, I need a website to keep track of them all. Sheesh.

Actually I did finish something recently - a dress for my niece's first birthday. But I'm waiting for her to model the garment for me before I actually post about it. Gotta get some good pictures first. Just as a teaser, it got back to me that the Yarn Widower actually complimented my knitting. He was describing the dress and said, "Yeah, you should see it. It's pretty awesome."

Now don't that beat all.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Plain Grey Socks - not boring

The men in my life like simple, dark knits. Nothing fancy, they warn me. No stripes, no cables, no crazy stuff. Just plain. Some would say boring. But hey, as long as the sock gets worn, I say!

Despite the obvious lack of crazy, these socks took some time. I finished them just last week about 2 months after my brother's birthday. However, the recipient was quite gracious about the whole thing. Although he very kindly reminded me that as it is now May, wool socks are not really appropriate. "And what's the deal with buying socks for me anyway?" Zoinks!

So I, in turn, very graciously told him that they are actually a nice cotton/wool blend and I didn't buy them, I made them. At this, his eyes lit up and he slipped them on his bare feet and proclaimed that they were so comfortable! Needless to say, I was bursting with joy. Nothing like an appreciative audience for my knitting efforts. Makes my little knitterly heart all pitter patter.

Later in the day, we decided to venture outdoors. My brother still had his socks on and was reluctant to take them off. Here he is imitating a German tourist.