Monday, October 31, 2011

Yarn Tasting

Last Thursday was an altogether fun night at Gosh Yarn It!  Two lovely representatives from Cascade Yarns, Erlinda and Shannon, brought a great many yarns to sample or "taste".  They also brought knitted sample projects, patterns and even some wine.

I sat near this corner of the table, because I most wanted to sample the Rustic.  I plan to use it to make a Swirl Jacket from the book Knit, Swirl! by Sandra McIver.  My favorite pattern in the book is Shades of Grey in Rustic, color #12, black, with accents of color #01, deep red.

Here is my swatch, in the welt pattern, for the Shades of Grey jacket.  It is basically 5 rows of stockinette alternated with 5 rows of reverse stockinette.  I really do like it!  I used size 6 needles for this swatch.

I also sampled the Ultra Pima Cotton: size 4 needles and the "Dew Drop" pattern from Barbara G Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

And I swatched with Cloud (size 8 needles) and Eco Duo (size 7 needles).

But I was thinking that the best part of the evening was "fellowship''.  I am not sure if that is exactly the right word.  But almost all of the regular Thursday night "Stitch and Spin" folks were there.  As were many others whom I get to see less often.  It was so great to see everyone!!!  And the wine was good, too!

Thanks Jill and Ann and Shannon and Erlinda!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rare Weather Indeed

I live in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and yesterday we had an unheard of amount of snow for October.



Yes, it is pretty.  But the winters are far too long here, and I was not happy about it.  Thankfully, today is sunny and it will all be gone soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Midweek Meditation

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.                     ~ Scott Adams, US cartoonist

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Saving Sweaters with Whatever it Takes

For days now, the Yarn Harlot has been doing whatever she can to save her sweater.  She has even performed sweater surgery.

You must be very brave, or very desperate -- or both -- to attempt sweater surgery.  A couple of years ago, I performed sleeve surgery on my Ariann cardigan knit with Brooks Farm Yarns Mas-Acero.  The sleeves were started at the wrist and then joined to the body and knit up to the neck.  It was hard to know exactly how long the sleeves should be before joining, and the yarn was especially soft and drapey.

The finished sleeves were easily two inches too long.  Do you know that you cannot rip knitting from the cast on edge?  In order to shorten the sleeves, I had to decide on a row where the ribbing should start if worked downward. Then I snipped the yarn in that row, and pulled out the row, one stitch at a time, detaching the extra length.  (Sorry I do not have photos of the actual surgery.  This was over two years ago -- long before I was blogging.)  I did save the detached sleeve pieces.  They are like my red badge of courage.

 After carefully pulling out the row of knitting, the live stitches were put on needles, knit down and bound-off.  Sweater surgery is quite nerve-wracking, but it was well worth it to have a sweater with the right length sleeves.

I have good news on my latest sweater fiasco -- the fuzz ball Cerisara.  I used ALL of these de-fuzzers.

It took a lot of time, but the stitch pattern shows again.  And my "Evergreen" Cerisara, in Handwerks So-Soft DK, is now a finished object!

I hope that all of your knitting (or whatever is your work or passion) goes well, and that your mistakes will be few and far between!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Photos Not from Rhinebeck

While at Rhinebeck, I made only two purchases.  (I have a very large stash.  In fact, it is SO large that, lately, I rarely forget that it is SO VERY large.)  I bought a hat kit in a jar from Hope Spinnery.

I have seen this yarn before, and I love its quality of purity.  It was great to get a lovely sampling of colors and the "Tree Line Hat" pattern all in a neat package!

Purity shines in the additional skein of yarn I purchased with the kit.  This is Hope Spinnery's Wind Spun Yarn blend (75% ME wool, 25% ME alpaca) in a color called "SNOW".

It is pictured with my second purchase, a skein of OPAL sock-weight yarn, dyed like faded denim, called "INDIGO".  A yarn search at Ravelry, and a general googling, have returned nothing.
Cool!  I will think of it as a limited edition yarn that was waiting for me.  "in Handarbeit kunstvoll coloriert" on the label, translates to "in hand-crafted artistically colored."
"jeder Strang ist ein Unikat und somit einzigartig in seiner Schonheit und Brilliannz" on the label, translates to "each strand is unique and therefore is unique in it's beauty and brilliance."  (So much for online translation.)

The above photos were shot on my deck.  This photo was shot from my deck.
Not from my deck, but nearby...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Had Trouble, Too

The Yarn Harlot did not finish the sweater that she wanted to wear to Rhinebeck.  She almost made it, but then she "had a little trouble."

I have to admit that when I first read what she said about speeding up the blocking process by putting her knitting in a warm oven, I thought she was crazy.

But then I found myself in a similar position on the night before my trip to Rhinebeck.  I had finished my Cerisara two nights earlier, and I could not stop myself from washing/blocking it.  After two days of air drying, it was still too damp to wear.  I re-read Stephanie's post about the ovenBut she did not provide enough details, not even a temperature.  I was afraid to try it.

My sweater yarn is 80% super-wash merino, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon.  This is similar to (cashmere) sock yarn, and I have often washed hand-knit socks in the washer and dried them in the dryer.  I decided that if I put the dryer on the lowest heat setting and used the delicate cycle (mistake #1) the sweater would be fine.  I also threw the damp beach towel that the sweater had been drying on into the dryer, thinking it would help to absorb and distribute the heat (mistake #2).

The trouble was, being the night before a trip, I was busy getting ready for the next day, and I did not check the dryer for about a half an hour (mistake #3).  My sweater was ruined.

It did not shrink.  It did not burn.  But it is a mass of fuzz balls.  I blame friction...the friction from choosing a longish dryer cycle with all that "cool down" time...and the friction from the terry towel.

Can it be saved?  I am not sure.  I spent some time removing fuzz with a sweater "d-fuzz-it" comb.  It helped, but it might take a couple of hours to get it all.  Will it ever look like new?  I don't think so, but I will work on it.

I had trouble, too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Midweek Meditation

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." 
~ George Bernard Shaw 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


This is clearly one of those times when it shows that I am new to blogging.  

This Sunday I went on a bus trip to Rhinebeck.  "Rhinebeck" is what everyone calls the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival, which occurs annually over one October weekend, at the Duchess County Fairground in Rhinebeck, NY.

It was a great day!  I looked at a lot of yarn, and I talked to a lot of people.  I took some photos of sheep.

And some of alpaca and llamas.

I am sitting here now thinking about some things that I should have done.

I should have taken pictures of some of the yarn.  All the amazing colorful displays.  All of the beautiful and varied textures.

I should have taken some pictures of the festival grounds, and the walkways, with so many thousands of people, many wearing beautiful knitwear.  I could even have taken a picture of the gumbo I ate for my lunch.  And maybe some of the lovely fall foliage.

I did stop by the Knitcircus trunk show in barn #37.  I introduced myself there, had my picture taken, and I met Amy Detjen who I know from the Knitcircus Podcasts that she does with Jaala Spiro.  (These are a lot of fun.  Have a listen when you have time.)  I probably should have taken some pictures there as well. 

I will do better next time.  This was not my first fiber festival, but it was the first one I could blog about. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ten Skeins of Wool Clasica

A package arrived on my doorstep this week.

This is my prize for winning the Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica Design contest!  I choose eight skeins in French Blue (I have a design idea for a sweater) and a skein each in Pewter and Putty (I am a little stuck on Fair Isle in neutral colors, but not sure what I will make).

This is the card that was in the box.

And by email I learned that the winning patterns (after tech editing and formatting by Manos) will be ready for release in just a few days!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On Rhinebeck and Sweater Sleeves

What I am now (up to my armpits) knitting is sleeves.  After my Tale of Two Sweaters post, I could not stop myself knitting on my "Timeless", and I finished not only the front, but also both sleeves. 

When I finally got back on my "Evergreen", all that I had left to knit were the sleeves.  I had the thought that if weather permits, I could wear it on my bus trip to Rhinebeck this Sunday.  I think that it could happen.

In the middle of my sleeve knitting, I read this post by the Yarn Harlot, who we all know and love, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  At that time, Stephanie had only the two sleeves done on a sweater that she was planning to finish and wear to Rhinebeck.  (They are a beautiful pair of sleeves.)  She is now running out of time, but I think that she will make it.  I have seen her knit some amazing things.

Since this is Wednesday, I will end with a quote:

"It's a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up."
         ~J.K. Rowling, "The Hungarian Horntail," Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2000

Monday, October 10, 2011

And Now There are Ten

If you recall, last week I came up with a total of nine works in progress.  You may also remember that when I began counting them, I mentioned  that most of my WIP's were about half done.  Unfortunately, this means that there will not be any FO's coming along soon (enough).

I do think that counting them is a good idea, because it reminds me that this is no time to start something new...and normally I would not...but I also teach knitting, and except for some one-session technique classes, I normally work on a project along with my students.

I am currently teaching a four-session "My First Sweater" class at Gosh Yarn It! in Kingston, PA.  In September, I showed you the class/shop sample.  I have started a new New Neckdown Pullover in my newest favorite yarn, Manos de Uruguay Wool Classica, to knit with the class.

So now there are ten!  I have made myself a promise that I will focus on finishing some of these projects as soon as I possibly can.  I truly hope that I can finish something, anything, before I teach my Fair Isle class next Saturday...I do not want there to be eleven...  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Weekend Meditation

If I had to pick a song, and one song only, as a favorite song of all time, I would pick "Imagine", by John Lennon.

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

I do not think that my father was a John Lennon fan.  But my father and John Lennon did have one thing in common.  They both had the same birthday.  It is today, October 9.  My father is a big part of who I am...I will be remembering him today.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Midweek Meditation

Just another fortune cookie...

"Aim for the sky, because even if you miss, you'll  still be among the stars."

                               ...being among the stars reminds me of Van Gogh.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

On the Needles -- Off the Needles

Currently my works-in-progress total (approximately) nine.  (I must add approximately, because there could always be some projects in hiding...if you know what I mean.)  I have posted about two sweaters and three scarves.  The four projects I will write about today are not actually "on the needles".

This summer I worked on four Fingering Weight TATU Socks to use for a photo on my first for sale pattern at Ravelry.  (Please check out my pattern.  Sales have been disappointing.  But it has been a great learning experience.)

Two of the socks, one sooner, and one later, will have a mate knit so that they may actually be worn.  The sooner one is for my husband.  His birthday is in November.  He loves handknit socks and likes them to be tall.

The later one I would like to keep.  I know Jen, who hand-dyed the yarn, Debutante Yarns Superwash Merino.  The colorway, "String Thing Shop" was named for the yarn shop where I bought it, String Thing Shop in Mountain Top, PA.

The socks are two works-in-progress that are exactly 50% completed, and "not on the needles".  Also "not on the needles" is a project that I named "Linen Top (Swatch)".  Made from a free, one-size pattern, Linen Top by Cat Coyle in Louet Euroflax Sport.

It was difficult to predict how large the piece would be after blocking.  I purposely chose not to knit and block a swatch.  My plan was that if it needed length, I would crochet some borders.  (I got a neat little new book, Around the Corner Crochet Borders, by Edie Eckman.)  I did crochet some borders with a hook the same diameter as the knitting was too loose and quite unattractive.  I ripped it all off, and will try again with more stitches and a hook 2 or 3 sizes smaller.  This will wait, because it is a summer top, and, sadly, summer has ended.

And, yet another summer top, may never be finished.  With much enthusiasm, early in the spring, I started a Simple and Sleeveless shell by Sally Melville with some really cool yarn, Tahki Yarns Ripple.  It is "not on the needles" because I needed the needles for my Cerisara.  I put the nearly done back on a piece of waste yarn.

I took it out of the bag for this photo.  I love the unique texture, but I do think it is a bit narrow (my gauge is a little off, even though I did swatch).  I am wondering if I really will finish it, or if I might do better to start all new next spring...