Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yarn Along: fits and starts

This week I finished a languishing cardigan for Lucy that I began during the first week of Great Lent in Maine.  She has all but outgrown it already, but I think she'll be able to wear it unbuttoned for a bit longer.  Since taking these pictures I have added bronze engraved buttons, which I'll have to capture next time.  The grosgrain ribbon on the button band was a lot of fun to do, which was a surprise because I always imagined it would be tedious.  I watched the Knitmore Girls' tutorial, which I highly recommend.
I've just begun A Game of Thrones on my own and Pete and I are rereading the Harry Potter series aloud together.  It's one of my favorite times of day.  While we wind Lucy down for the night, we can usually enjoy a few pages.  It's slow going, but why hurry?
I am rushing through my owlet, though.  Next time I knit it, I might try to reverse-engineer it into a top-down sweater though, like Frontier Dreams did.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Yarn Along: Strung Out

I am completely addicted to knitting with beads. When I first started this project as part of the Knitmore Girls Summer of Lace and Beads, I really struggled. I began with the bottom-up version of the pattern, which requires a cast-on of hundreds of stitches. I was so clumsy with the tiny crochet hook recommended to place the beads.  After a couple of rows, the project languished.
Then I found OralB Superfloss, a dental floss that lots of knitters have been using to place beads, instead of fumbling with the crochet hook. It really made a difference. I also got the top down version of the shawl, so that I could find my groove on a small number of stitches. The charts seem clearer too, but maybe that's just me. Anyway, I'm having so much fun working on it and I highly recommend giving knitting with beads a try. 

I'm reading Love and Salt: a Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters on my nook, slowly but surely. It was a gift from Muiche, who always writes the most wonderful letters to me, so it is especially meaningful to me.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Yarn Shop A Day: Kitchy Stitch

On Friday, we popped into our final yarn shop, Kitschy Stitch.  I absolutely loved the colorful porch, complete with lots of comfy chairs, colorful cushions, and happy pots of herbs.  Lucy fell asleep right before we arrived, and snoozed in her car seat while her cousins sat in the child-sized lawn chairs and blew bubbles.
Inside the shop, they had a nice area to sit and knit, and a few women were gathered there when we stopped by.  I wish this shop were close by my house so that I could hang out there constantly...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Yarn Shop A Day: Ginger Moon

On Saturday, we somehow crammed in two more shops.  We started with Ginger Moon, which can best be described as a tiny sparkly yarn boutique.  
 The yarn was organized by color, which really made things interesting.  It was mostly single skeins of art yarn, sequined or beaded yarn, and sparkly yarn.
I definitely had fun browsing through all the bling, but didn't buy anything, because I didn't have any projects in mind.  There was some beautiful Blue Heron Metalic that caught my eye, which I want to learn more about.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Yarn Shop a Day: The Fine Needle

Even though we planned to stay at home on Friday, to recuperate from our busy week, we couldn't resist slipping out quickly to check out The Fine Needle.  This time, we all went in together, and the lady who owns the shop was so kind.  She was packing up to attend a yarn and wine tasting, but still took the time to help us find everything we were looking for.
I decided to try some Kollage square knitting needles and bought size 5 dpns.  I also couldn't resist this transparent tape measure, especially since Lucy recently squirreled away my purple one.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Yarn Shop a Day: Carodan Farm Wool Shop

On Thursday, we all went to Chincoteague, where we saw the wild ponies being auctioned off.
Who am I kidding--you're here for the yarn shops.
 I cannot get enough of these signs!  The owners even had license plates that read WOOL.  They speak my language!
 Anyway, Carodan Farm Wool Shop is a must-see if you travel to Chincoteague.  They hand-dye a line of yarn that is inspired by Chincoteague and Assateague Islands.  I regret not snapping some of it up, but I was blinded by a sweater's worth of Rowan Felted Tweed in the exact color I was hoping to use to make the Calligraphy Cardigan.  I had birthday money set aside to make this purchase and was prepared to pay full price.  But!
The shop had a little display of paper horses at the register.  At checkout, you got to pick one and open it to discover a coupon worth anywhere from 15%-50% off your purchase.  I chose a 25% off coupon!  I can't wait to cast on this beautiful yarn, which will always remind me of our trip to Chincoteague.  My goal is to wear it next time we go.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Yarn Shop a Day: Salty Yarns

On Wednesday, Emily and I brought the kids to the boardwalk, where Salty Yarns overlooks the ocean.  The kids had fun sitting on the rocking chairs and watching the sea gulls while the mamas took turns browsing.

The shop specializes in needlepoint supplies, but does have a small side room full of yarn and needles.  I was most interested in the multitude of embroidery scissors they carried.  In the end, I decided not to get a pair, because I wasn't really sure what to look for.  But the shop is definitely worth stopping by, especially if you make time to sit on the porch and knit.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Yarn Shop a Day: A Little Bit Sheepish

After visiting the Upper Room Studio on Tuesday, Emily and I packed up all the kidlets and headed to A Little Bit Sheepish.  
 The secret to going to so many yarn shops with our four kids was taking turns.  One of us would sit outside with the kids while the other took a quick look around inside the shop, and then we'd switch.  It was so much fun to focus on the yarn while browsing.
 I am seriously contemplating getting this flag for our front door.
After much deliberation, I scooped up a gorgeous skein of Three Irish Girls Springvale sock yarn in the colorway Lucky Penny.  In reality, it is much more orange than this picture shows.  I think it needs to become cabled socks.
I also found these cute wooden needle gauges, just the right size for slipping into my little tool kit.  I grabbed a slightly bigger one with a ruler along the edge to stash with my interchangeable needles as well.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Yarn Shop a Day: Upper Room Studio

On Tuesday, we were lucky enough to check out two yarn shops.  First, we went to The Upper Room Studio, where I took a one-on-one spinning class.  Monika was so helpful.  She really made me feel that there are no absolute musts in spinning--just like knitting, it all comes down to preferences.  I was finding myself getting a little tense while spinning, and she showed me how to slow down and relax.  I love the long draw that she demonstrated and have been practicing ever since.  Now, since I forgot to snap pictures of the actual shop, I'll show you what I came home with instead:

Monika dyed this wool/silk yarn using natural dyes.
I also bought some fiber there, all in half-pound bags:
oatmeal Blue-Faced Leicester

 cream Blue-Faced Leicester
and cream BFL/silk blended top.

If you're ever in the area, definitely check out Upper Room Studio, especially if you're interested in taking a class.  Not only do they offer fiber-related classes, they also have soap-making, bread baking, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream making, etc.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Yarn Shop a Day: Serendipity Quilt Shop

On Monday, after driving for four hours, I met up with Emily and her babies at Serendipity Quilt shop to get supplies for Maggie Rabbit and wool for rosebud hair clips.
 And what to you think I saw when I walked in the door?
Yep, yarn.  It seems it has infiltrated even the quilt shop.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Yarn Along: Camp K2tog

My sister and I just spent an amazing week together, which we planned out for months.  We spent most of our evenings working on Maggie Rabbit kits and knitted dresses for said lucky rabbit.  The rest of our time was spent swimming, eating wonderful food, visiting with a dear friend who drove out to see us, and visiting a yarn shop per day, sometimes two.  I'm working on a post all about them, so stay tuned!  
My finished rabbit got left behind in New Jersey, so the dress will just have to be modeled by this fair lass:
She was lying around without a stitch on when I found her.  She looks much more dignified now, if a little smug.

I'm almost done with Knitting Around--a must-read if you want to know more about Elizabeth Zimmermann's life.
One of my earliest memories has always been of a day when I pestered my mother to teach me how to knit.  The female half of my mother's family knit uninteruptably, and they rather scorned the females of my father's family who knitted exclusively mats and potholders.   
"Well," said my mother, "If you're good all day today, I'll teach you tomorrow."   
A woman of her word she was, so I was GOOD... all day.  The next day, Mummy was sitting in the dining room, knitting around.  I can see that sweater (jersey to us, of course) to this day.  It was bright green, in stocking-stitch, on four needles (no circulars in those days), and destined for me myself.  So I perched on her lap and she put her knitting in front of me. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Yarn Along: Travel Knitting

After agonizing over what projects and books to bring with me on vacation, I finally settled on my Penelope cardigan out of handspun, a trusty vanilla sock, and at the last minute, I tossed a languishing work in progress, a cardigan for Lucy, into the mix.  I've been really enjoying reading Knitting Around, one of Elizabeth Zimmermann's books, which my long-suffering mother-in-law gave me for my birthday after I made her watch the TV series with me.
Back to the knitting.  Somehow, I churned through all of the handspun in just a couple of days, so that project is on hold until I can spin up the extra roving I ordered to complete it.  The sock is too mindless to knit on for long without becoming bored, but Lucy's cardigan is really misbehaving.  It has little lace leaves bordering one of the edges.  I had put it in time out when I realized I had made a mistake with the last leaf and didn't have the heart to rip it all out.  So I started there, carefully figured out where I was in the pattern, and knit the leaf again, only to realize upon completing it that it was reversed, with the right side of the leaf on the wrong side of the cardigan.  Infuriating!  It's in time out again, until it learns its lesson.  In the meantime, I think I'll embrace the boring old sock, and reward its obedience.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

5 signs you're addicted to fiber: vacation edition

1.  You bring your spinning wheel on vacation. 
2. You find knitting in the strangest of places. Then photograph it. 
3. When visiting a new city, you look up yarn shops instead of going sightseeing.
4.  Your friends and family instinctively know where to find gifts for you. 
5. You pack multiple projects just in case you magically knit faster than you ever have before. And yet you still worry a little that you'll run out of things to knit...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Yarn Along: inspiration

I've finished The Shell Seekers, but only just begun a project inspired by it.  I used to do that all the time--matching up my knitting and reading.  While searching for something to knit with my handspun, which is a bit stiff and bulky, when I came across this free pattern for a simple sweater.

The woman modeling the sweater was just as I had imagined Penelope, and she was glorying in the beach, which became Porthkerris in my mind.  I just have to share these photos with you.  They were taken by Carol Feller, who also designed the pattern.

 My version is coming right along, surprisingly quickly.  My yarn is thicker than what the pattern calls for, so I'm knitting a size smaller than I am, which should give me a perfect fit.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Yarn Along: Anti-Knitting

I'm working away on my red socks whenever I get the chance, but mainly I have been spinning this in the evenings:

I dove head-first into The Shell Seekers, which contains several references to knitting.  I love it when that happens.  The main character, Penelope, is in her 60s, and there are a few mentions of her unfinished knitting, strewn about her cozy, cluttered house.  Her grown son, Noel, is a good-looking, no-good, grasping jerk, who is scheming to sell his grandfather's masterpiece, a painting named The Shell Seekers.  As if that's not enough, he slowly reveals that he is...gasp!...ANTI-KNITTING.

He goes snooping in Penelope's attic, looking for art he can hawk.  In order to get a better look, he goes on and on about how the attic is a fire hazard and ought to be cleared out.  He describes the contents of the attic to his sister as,
"Everything.  Old boxes; chests of clothes and bundles of letters.  Dressmaker's dummies, toy perambulators, footstools, bags of tapestry wool, weighing machines, boxes of wooden blocks, piles of magazines tied together with string, knitting patterns, old picture name it, it's there.  And like I said, it's all a hideous fire risk."
He wants to get rid of it all, which his sister tells him their mother would never agree to.  He replies,
"All right, then sort it out. But half of the junk up there is only fit for a bonfire, like the bundles of magazines and the knitting patterns and tapestry wool..."
Olivia is perhaps beginning to sense his vendetta against knitting.  She questions him.
"Why the tapestry wool?"
"It's alive with moth."
I know--scary stuff!  Sent chills down my spine!