Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Two weeks in May

It's taken me near a month to realize that my spring schedule just doesn't give me the time to blog. Where I prefer to post two or three times a week, with each post on a different project, I find I just don't have the mental reserves. I'm going to have to resort to kitchen sink posts if I want to properly catalog what I've been doing and get through my busy season.

If it wasn't for some semblance of recording on Ravelry, the details of at least four of my recent projects would be lost to the ether.

Herbed Carrots Sock
Somewhere on or around May 12th I finished up Herbed Carrots.



It's pretty obvious there is more than a little difference in the sock colors. As they were knit from the same skein, it can't be a dye lot issue. As well, the lack of color in one sock over another means I don't have to blame my math or my gauge this time. It's the nature of indie yarns, plain and simple. And I can live with that, as these will be fabulously warm socks.

This J. Knits yarn was supercalifragilisticispyalidocious to work with. A little splitty, yes, but this is more than made up for by it's silky texture and sheen. Yummy.

Sherbert Bayerishe
After running out to get new yarn two weeks ago, I began knitting Eunny Jang's Bayerische a third time.

(picture taken a week ago)

I began using a toe up version of the pattern, found on Ravelry and written by The Knitting Swede. The pattern was a nightmare. Nightmare, I tell you! All I can say is that without Ravelry, I may have just hunted that poor pattern writer down and gone apepoop on her. Luckily for everyone involved another raveller posted notes on her toe up version and I was able get the crazy under control before the authorities had to be called in.

I was able to calmly add an editorial note to her Ravelry pattern page and she has since updated her web page to include the errata I came across, so there's that. The only thing harmed was the notion that I am a bonafide, mature adult.

The yarn is an unknown. I am pretty sure it's Madelinetosh, but it was tagless at the LYS. Now there was a time I thought I'd never knit with her yarn again, but after seeing how well my Watermelon Firestarters have fared after lots of wash and wear, I'm a convert.

Spinning
I'm not much further along on the Sherbert B than what is shown in the picture above, as I have been distracted by spinning and other knitting. The video that came with the kit has been really helpful for me to understand the dynamics. The day after the festival (May 11) I was plugging away at it. I still can't drop the spindle yet, but I have mastered a beginner's technique enough to spin these:


I'm running out of roving, so I may just have to go trek out to the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool festival this weekend to stock up. (I'm not sure if I'm serious here, I'll know come Friday.) The natural correidale has a distinct farm barn smell to it, which I absolutely love. Is that wacky?

I met up with my Dad and Chris on Saturday at the Brimfield Fair. Instead of knitting my way there, I spun. It was my first time at this ginormous event and my utter boredom amongst all the bric a brac put my utter absorption with fiber, at the NHSW festival the week before, in sharp relief.

My continued fascination with fiber and knitting amazes me. The only constant thing in my entire life was the fact that I never was interested in anything for that long. I drew, played guitar, sculpted, painted, etc. But I would always come up against some technical hurdle that would loom too large to interest me in overcoming. Not with my knitting. Surely there are obstacles, but I find I am committed to overcoming whatever I've come up against. It gives me a sense of pride, something which has always been in short supply.

Midnight Derby
And finally, the socks I have been working on.


This picture is from Saturday. Last night I finished turning the heel while inane CBS comedies played on the TV. On the knit side of the heel I knit continental style. As I couldn't master the continental purl method, I worked in my usual, English way. I've been itching to get comfortable with the continental style, as it is faster. My grandmother knits that way and she flies. I found it most difficult at the beginning of the needle. For some reason as soon as I was about five to 10 stitches in, my technique worked better. More practice will help me understand how to improve on this.

The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy, in the Midnight Derby colorway, which I picked up alongside the Madelinetosh sock yarn two weeks ago. I'm making a pair of socks for my Dad using the 4k1p rib pattern I designed for my Uncle's socks, Blue Wavering. I adore the clean lines of this pattern.

The color saturation in this yarn is amazing, though I fear it's going to bleed like a mofo when I give them their first dunk.

Well, I think that gets me all caught up. Finally.

Happy Tuesday, blogland,

M

Thursday, May 15, 2008

NHSW Part Two

The second half of my Saturday trip to the NHSW festival was spent focusing on spinning supplies, albeit with copious amounts of gratuitous fiber fondling thrown in. Chris gave me guidance on what type of roving to buy and I settled on an 8 ounce bag of natural colored Correidale.

Ascribing to the William Morris maxim, "[h]ave nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful," I was overjoyed to see Golding Fiber Tools had a booth. When I considered getting a drop spindle, I immediately envisioned buying one of their intricately carved whorls.

I found more than one to fall in love with, but easily settled on a hand carved vintage spindle (#13). When no one came promptly to ring up my purchase, I began to rethink the purchase and found myself returning the spindle to it's display. I had been hypnotized into gratifying every whim at the festival up until this point. The extravagance of the purchase finally awoke my slumbering pragmatism, and once revived, I could find no justification for a $140 spindle.

With absolutely no regret I moved on and shortly thereafter we came to a vendor selling Grafton spindles, also a Vermont product, but one more moderately priced. The clerk and a passing customer were kind enough to provide a lot of insight into what I should look for in a beginner's spindle and as I fell in love with their designs, I decided to purchase a 1.2 ounce whorl:




Just as I was paying, Chris came over and handed me a spinning kit as a gift in her wonderful, no nonsense way. Yes, I had just bought a spindle, but the kit had a video, and a different spindle. Learning on more than one type of spindle would be good for me. I was blown away by her generosity. Really blown away.


With these purchases made, all that was left for us to do was to continue to enjoy all the fiber around us, which we did to the fullest, until exhaustion set in. After a meal, at a chain steakhouse in Concord, and a hearty hug, we each went home our separate ways.

It was a great day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

NH Sheep and Wool, or Will this post ever end Wednesday

My blogging mojo has been as weak as an extra light cup of decaffeinated joe. I've got a lot of metaphysical questions and ideas floating around in my head these days much of which I either don't want to share or worse, desire to share but am unable to distill into a coherent narrative.

I am in a fugue state brought on by the nexus of some personal revelations and my immersion in the biographical material of Christopher Jonathon McCandless, the subject of the book and movie entitled Into the Wild. But there is both knitting and even a bit of introductory spinning going on at chez yarn these days, but before that I want to get down my thoughts about the weekend.

I thoroughly enjoyed my jaunt up to Contoocook, where the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool festival was held. The web based weather forecast I read indicated it would start out cold and cloudy but get nicer as the day progressed and it was right on the money.

It was raw as I left my house at 7:30 am and I was glad to be keeping myself warm with a pair of Digitessa's and Blueberry Moon. Hubby made fun of me all decked out and show-offy. He may be right, but since I knit it, I have no problem flaunting it.

The drive up was glorious. I listened to an audiobook of Into the Wild and appreciated how beautiful New England is becoming. The foliage is still a little on the anemic side, needing another week or two to peak, but budding foliage and blue skies peppered with cloud puffs are a welcome vista nonetheless.

The festival was easy to find and within moments of walking in the gate I had blown 1/3 of my cash on three beautiful skeins of yarn.

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60% Merino/40% Cotton from Maple Creek Farm


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Two 75% Merino/25% Nylon skeins from Ball and Skein


Knowing I would go over the all the booths once my Dad's wife, Chris, showed up, I quickly exited the barn and set my sights on the sheep dog trials.

It became apparent quite quickly, even to my novice eye, that the competitors were beginners. Having a herding breed myself, an Australian Shepherd, kept me enthralled with the border collies on display, but I was considerably uncomfortable with the harsh commandeering the entrants used. I saw no physical violence towards the dogs but I felt violence in how they talked to their charges.

I'm sure this is normal, and maybe misunderstood by my aspy perceptions, but I was discomfited all the same and so moved on to the museum barn. Here I found women making socks on antique knitting machines, another woman spinning on a 4 or 5 foot wheel, and a third woman making needle felted animals.

I then went on to the sheep stalls but I quickly found that they did not have stalls set for judging or selling like they did at Rhinebeck. I caught a small bit of the youth show. Even though I never learned what they were exhibiting or judging, I saw more than anyone's fair share of cuteness!




That little bugger was very vocal. I tried to get a shot of him baaaing, but no luck.

Shortly thereafter Chris showed up and I had to tell her that we wouldn't be seeing the fleece to shawl competition, as it was set for Sunday. She didn't seem disappointed, and thus we set off to the nearest vendor barn.

As far as the fleece and wool vendors, I don't think NHSW was that much smaller than Rhinebeck. There was a great deal to see. After succumbing to another pair of sock yarns, I knew I had to keep what little money I had left for my main ticket items, white laceweight, preferably baby alpaca, a spindle, and some starter roving.



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The pink skein is fingering, the green skein is sport weight, both 100% superwash Merino


As we hit booth after booth, my initial fear of spending so much so soon, dissipated. I experienced the deja vu of Rhinebeck, where the second half of the shopping was mostly alpaca and mohair and other yarn I had no interest in. I felt relieved I had purchased what I liked and not waited to find something better. But as far as the laceweight, I never did find a single indy seller and so when I happened upon some Jojoland fingering cashmere, I grabbed two skeins immediately.

It wasn't until the proprietor showed me a fabulous lace scarf pattern that I recollected that I had heard of and seen the yarn before. One of my LYSes sold it in a kit. I wasn't too keen on the dull mint colored yarn in the kit, but I pined over the pattern and was promptly told it was not sold separately.


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Happy, I was, to see it sold separately and thus scooped up a copy. Although this is not the end of my immoderation, I must conclude here. The rest of the story will have to wait for another day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Done, and Done!

A major contradiction in this knitting hobby of mine wont stop rearing it's belligerent head: I love textured knitting and I prefer variegated yarn. I just went through this a couple of weeks ago, didn't I? Oh yes, I did. Yet, it took another two toes to remember this. Again. I am a olympic learner, I am.



I am commited to knitting Eunny Yang's Bayerische. I am also going to try to remember to commit my variegated yarn to plain or ribbed socks. Since there is nothing in my stash that will work with the Bayerische pattern, I was forced (oh yes, F O R C E D) to tramp out to an LYS on my lunch hour yesterday and I scored!

Not only did I get yarn for the Bayerische, but I finally nabbed that navy blue skein of Dream in Color Smooshy I've been eyeing for eons and a copy of IK's Favorite Socks.

Last night I settled something else. For about five or six days I've been mulling over whether I should go to NH Sheep and Wool this weekend. It may be the only New England festival I will have the chance of attending this spring. That I expect it to be a far more intimate adventure than Rhinebeck is another good reason to go.

Last night it dawned on me I should invite my Dad's wife, Chris. She's an experienced spinner and knitter, and an overall craft junkie. So I did and she was pretty gung ho right from the start. We'll be coming from opposite corners of NE so we'll be meeting up there.

She's as excited as I am to see the fleece to shawl contest, which is something I missed at Rhinebeck due to overexposure and exhaustion. I also want to contemplate the purchasing of a spindle and fleece in the company of spindles and fleece. I know her advice will be invaluable if I do take the plunge. Did I mention she is a major enabler, too? Monumental enabler.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

In and out of focus

It's been days since I finished my latest Digitessas. I'm not sure I've been hesitant in posting because of my lack of enthusiasm for the final pics or from basic blogging ennui.

I took my first look at the pictures today and they're not great as a showcase for the socks, but there are quite a few with a pleasing composition.






The project details have been ravelled.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What an idea!

Knitting Kris's comment about knitting her a pair of Digitessas got me thinking. Maybe I could post an ad on Ravelry, like "Will knit Digitessa's for free Wollmeise!" Sadly, at the rate things are going, this may be the only avenue open to me to ever own some of Claudia's yarn.

I've just the cuffs left on both Digitessas, but am taking it slow. The row after row of p1/twisted k1 of the cuffs caused one of the worst flareups of tendonitis I've ever experienced when I plowed through my first pair. As soon as I felt an inkling of a twinge last night, I quickly switched the socks out with the Sunshine and Shadows shawl. It's was a touch choice, though, because my discipline to keep only two socks on needles at a time is stopping me from doing what I really want, and that is to try a new sock pattern.

My inner martinet is telling me I should focus on finishing my Herbed Carrots. The problem is, I'm kinda hating on this sock at the moment.


It's not the socks fault, really. The process knitter in me won out last week when I knit up the picot edge. The last time I knit a picot edge was about five years ago, in my first year or two of knitting. I never liked the way picot edges bunch, but after seeing this cuff on sock after sock on blogs I read, I thought it would be the perfect accent on my simple stockinette socks.

The regret was instaneous. But I'm stubborn, if I'm anything, and I slogged through.

I took a look at the bindoff methods in my copies of Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns and Katherine Buss's Big Book of Knitting and promptly ignored them. I had a vague recollection of how I had done it in the past, which was doing a basic bind off and then seaming the edge to the sock. That seemed much less fussy than what amounts to a three needle bindoff method in the books.

When I ran out of yarn 3/4 of the way through the bind off, I reflected on what I was doing. I decided to abandon the easy way and actually learn the new technique. I mastered it quickly, as it is very simple. Yet, any pride of accomplishment I should have felt was overrun by the ball of hate growing with every bound off stitch. Along with stubborn, I am also a big old, stupid baby.

I haven't been all that interested in starting the second sock. Still being good, all I've been doing is ogling sock patterns on blogs and ravelry. I do think I've found one that is free, Eunny Jang's Bayerische. Tanja Murray has conveniently converted the pattern (ravelry link) to toe up, too!

The other two I would love to knit, the Embossed Leaf sock and Nancy Bush's Chalet Socks, require moulah. After purchasing all new needles recently, I'm not yet in the mood to open up my pocketbook. Maybe in a few weeks. A local LYS has had some fabulous Dream in Color Smooshy yarn in that I am dying to try. They might have either one of the patterns, too.
 

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