Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I went to NH and all I got was this lousy...

I went to NH and all I got was a pile of yarn. Life's tough, eh?

There may have been a lot going on at the Knit & Crochet conference, held this weekend in Manchester, NH, but I was there for the fiber, and the fiber at Maple Creek Farms booth, in particular.

As soon as they opened the doors, I made a beeline to the Maple Creek booth with the sincerest hope of getting some more of their merino/cotton blend yarn, which, as I have mentioned at least eleventy billion times, is absolutely scrumptious.

I learned immediately, in talking with the dyer directly, her supplier isn't making the 60% merino, 40% pima cotton anymore. I gushed so much disappointment she must have thought me a little touched with the crazy.

I didn't walk away empty handed, though. I purchased two skeins of the same colorway as my scarf, PA fall, in a worsted/bulky merino, and two skeins of the merino/cotton in a pale red colorway.

This vendor's yarn bases, for both of the yarns I purchased, are phenomenal; the slubs and variations are as endearing as the yarn is velvety to the touch, even this worsted/bulky merino:

I can't wait to see what she'll have for Rhinebeck in October.

No matter how hard I tried to limit my purchases to yarns I couldn't get online, I found myself picking up some old and new friends, such as Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock:

Madelinetosh sock:

Dream in Color Baby laceweight:

I have ogled that Daffodil colorway of the LL an untold number of times over the past year. It's been a love/Ugh! relationship from the beginning. It's so vibrant and bossy and who knows if I'll actually ever knit with it, but I want it to be mine, all mine, and now it is.

I finished up at the Tess' Designer Yarns. I was convinced I was done with the yarn buying as I tread the perimeter of the booth. Of course I was dead wrong (fancy that?) I just couldn't say no to this scruptious 100% merino sock/baby yarn, in a color reminiscent of a pale artichoke:

And then I fell head over heels in love with this heavenly fingerweight 50% silk/50% merino, Silk & Ivory. I picked up two 675 yard skeins of it.

I have already caked up one of the two skeins of the Silk & Ivory and was immediately compelled to knit a half swatch. I had originally thought this would make a beautiful shawl, but the swatch changed my mind. A shawl would get intermittent wear, at most, and this yarn begs to be worn as often as is possible. A sweater it must be. Hopefully I'll have enough yardage.

Monday, July 28, 2008


After the house cleaning my yarn and knitting underwent this weekend, I think I may have summitted the malaise. (Am I tempting fate by even writing this?)

One thing is for sure, Nell made a great point in the comments: "Isn't it amazing how knitting can take you from feeling like a genius to an idiot in a few stitches?" I'm used to feeling like an idiot, therefore this aspect of knitting fits like a favorite pair of old boots. Having something in one's life akin to conquering if your own Mt. Everest, your own Mt. Washington, well, that is fascinating and invigorating. So yes, Nell, it is immoderately amazing.

As I had hoped for, I finished my Sunshine and Shadows Shawl (not a triangle!) this weekend. Once I had blocked it out I stood back in awe. It was magic, this beautiful garment, magic. Somehow, this frumpy old hag (me) took two sticks and some string and made this:

Am I straining under a pile hyperbole? Well, maybe just a smidge. When you feel so dark for so long, beauty easily overtakes you and I truly feel this FO is one of the more beautiful things of which I have been the creator. Before the idea that my head is as big as China sinks in, all the kudos must be given to the wonderful designer, Evelyn Clark. It is her genius at work. I know I'm just the day laborer here.

So, the details:

Just a few yards over 3 skeins, or 490 yards, of Reynold's Soft Sea Wool in color #320, Purple. This yarn is plumpily plied, giving it a pebbly texture.

This is one of the first projects on which I used my Knitpicks Harmony Wood option needles. I used US6/4.00 mm tips and the 24" and 47" joins.

The pattern I used is actually a set of the stitch variations provided as an example in Evelyn Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles. The set of three lace patterns I chose, and the order in which I used them, is called the Sunshine and Shadows Shawl. I only modified the pattern by repeating the first two motifs three times in order to have a shawl sized garment.

If there is one downside to this beautiful pattern is that source material actually isn't a pattern, it's more like a stitchionary for lace patterns to be knit in triangluar form.

For a beginning lace triangle knitter, this probably wasn't the best choice. I probably should have went with Clark's Shetland Triangle, but I absolutely loved the motif variation and so plowed ahead unwittingly. The FO is so gorgeous I know I will break down and make another one of her patterns, notwithstanding how loudly I decry a dislike for the knitted triangle,

Next up this week, booty call! I went to the Knit & Crochet show in New Hampshire on Saturday and came home with some treasures. The damage I did in an hour and a half amazes me...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

High Maintenance...

I've been trying to put my finger on the source of the all-encompassing malaise that settled into my life this past spring. It is like a hundred pound albatross. I'm not depressed or even a tad dysphoric. I'm just tired.

In an email exchange with fellow knit blogger, Kristin, a phrase came to mind that encapsulates what I'm feeling: high maintenance. Every single activity I engage in, whether it's as banal as tooth brushing, or as fun as reading, anything other than malingering, just seems to be experienced as high maintenance.

Once I could define what I feel, my spirits lifted a bit. Sounds strange, but it's true. Once I understand what I'm up against my natural drive to adapt kicked in and one of the first things I found the energy to tackle was my Sunshine and Shadows Shawl...errrr triangle.

A week and a half ago I spent a solid half an hour struggling with the beginning of the final lace pattern, redoing the first 20 stitches or so who knows how many times. All I settled that day was the notion of incorporating my first ever lifeline.

This Sunday I took an analytical approach to the situation and sketched out the pattern in an effort to decipher the problem. Once I compared my notes to my actual knitting I could see I had a missing stitch near the beginning of the row.

Let me tell you, I felt like King Sh*t once I figured this out. Not mad at myself for making the mistake that caused the repeated vexatious flubbing, nope, just a willful pride that I mastered the abstract thinking I needed to move ahead with this project without the bane of last resort: frogging.

With one picked up stitch I devoured the new pattern with nary a look back. As of last night I had finished it up and began the first row of the edging. At this rate, I should have it washed and blocked by Sunday.

One opinion this project has cemented is a sincere dislike of the knitted triangle. I'll take the dull consistency of a rectangle over the constant expansion of the triangle any day of the week.

The only easy project I've got going, the embossed leaf sock, has been just as susceptible to the aforementioned malaise. I don't even have recent pic of my progress.

I'm within a few rows of the toe and just the mere thought of having to check the pattern to see how far away I am from starting the toe scared this project back into my bin. Bleh for me.

One thing this particular knit has done is rekindled my love of the leaf motif. Unlike other variations I've knit, the leaf is knit at an angle. I've spent more time thinking about incorporating this angled leaf into a scarf than I have spent actually knitting the sock.

Just last week I came upon my idea's doppleganger on ravelry, Anne Modesitt's Backyard Leaves Scarf. I was particularly taken by raveller TanteJ's version and instantly asked her permission to post a picture here, which she graciously gave. It is nothing short of fabuloso, imo.

In my version, I hope to link the vines and ditch the garter stitch backdrop. As this scarf is simply divine, as is, I'm not quite sure my wishful thinkings will be an improvement but you never know until you try...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

That inner voice

My inner voice hasn't been that interested in blogging lately. Part of it is the heat, part of it is that my inner voice has been busy thinking about the types of things that get in the way of knitting and blogging.

It's also been wondering if I really feel like sharing myself with the world anymore. Has my exhibitionism run its course? The answer is that I'm not sure since for ten days the answer seemed to be yes. Yet that is obviously contradicted with the most decidedly no of today.

Eleven days ago I finished my Apple Lace Scarf.

It was the best pick up and go project I think I've had to date. The pattern was easy to remember, so I could take it everywhere and anywhere (including nowhere, AKA my couch) but varying enough to keep me excited about picking it up.

Once done I couldn't stop my self from indulging in an little excessiveness; I tried out the blocking pins I purchased a few months ago

A steam iron would have been just as effective, but far less fun.

I began this project on June 4, 2008 and finished it on July 4, 2008.

Maple Creek Yarn in an undisclosed colorway
This is an indie outfit out of Pennsylvania, I think. I purchased the yarn at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool fest back in May. On the two or three occasions I checked their website, they had nothing like this yarn. It is a merino/cotton blend. The label doesn't give the percentages, but I was told 60% merino, 40% cotton by the proprietor of the booth.

I used approximately 479 of its 480 yards.

The yarn is tagged as fine, but it is mostly sport weight. There were plenty of soft slubby sections, with far fewer anemic, fine weighted sections.

It was such a dream to work with, I might hit up the Knit and Crochet show being held in Manchester, NH at the end of the month, where they're listed as a vendor, just to grab some more of the same.

Size US3/3.25mm 16" harmony wood circular needle made by Knitpicks.

The pattern is innocuously named Cashmere Scarf c233 (rav link) by Lijuan Jing and published by Jojoland for their 2 ply cashmere. However, if you use the link on the rav page to get to the Jojoland web page cashmere scarf c233 is a different pattern altogether. The actual Jojoland pattern is sold in the c222 kit, so named for it's colorway #, I think. Either way, it is an awesome, easy peasy lace pattern.

The finished scarf is 7 inches wide by 57 1/2 inches long.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

This or That

OMG I just lost my whole post and my heart is broken. I really had a lot to say about reading, and grammar, and audibooks, and omg...

I just have to walk away and pretend this didn't happen.

I even have an FO and some minor milestones in spinning.

I will leave all the post labels as testament to what this post once was. May she rest in peace.

Happy Sunday blogland...

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