Archive for the 'yarn' Category

Marsha

Life update

Feeling: Fine.

Marveling: At how this 300-square-foot apartment can be transformed into 24 different rooms. I’m frequently reminded that fierce limitations (in this case, geographical) can result in amazing creativity and innovation. (And here’s another variation the same theme.)

Disliking: This story. I heard about this woman a couple of years ago, and again a few months ago when the update was posted. It’s amazing how many people thing she is awesome because she has this massive yarn collection. I know that knitters like to boast about (or bemoan) the size of their stashes, but this seems like a case of hoarding to me. I should point out that I’m not a fan of collecting for collecting’s sake—the “I just had to have it!” thing. On a similar note, I think people like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno, own own so many cars or motorcycles that they actually need entire buildings in Manhattan, no less, to house them are idiots. Yes, there’s the argument that people can spend their money on whatever the hell they want, and to a point I’m on board with that. But this kind of spending just seems so incredibly wasteful, irresponsible, and meaningless. Maybe my opinion of this woman’s spending and hoarding habits is a bit harsh; but by the same token I’d say that people who idolize her are misguided.

Loving: Everything about this playground. And wishing something like that would be possible where we live.

Marsha

Does anyone else think this is dumb?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVRfVEONxJQ[/youtube]

Use jersey-knit fabric (old t-shirts, anyone?) to finger-knit a bracelet.

If you live in a place that gets cold from time to time, have a touch-screen device, and don’t want to remove your gloves or mittens to use it, try knitting conducive thread into some gloves.

Make your own knitting (or crochet) journal! This site has free PDF downloads of pages you can print out. Yeah, I know you can keep track of this sort of thing on Ravelry. But some people (*raises hand*) prefer the immediacy and flip-through-ability of a paper-and-swatch-filled binder for this sort of thing.

Need to destash some wool quickly? Make some felted wool balls. I think these would be awesome for fluffing clothes in the dryer.

You know you’ve always wanted to create your own intarsia patterns. This site makes it easy! Just draw your chart, save it, and print it!

Marsha

Life update

Reading: The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth. A compelling narrative, well-drawn characters, and good writing. I liked this book very much, though reading it made me feel a bit paranoid: I saw in it echoes of the current neocon-driven discourse. Roth writes about Jews, but in many parts if you substitute “Muslims” you see glimpses of the prejudice and fear in our own society today.

Also reading: The Dark Is Rising sequence, by Susan Cooper. Actually, I’m listening to these: the three of us are listening to the audio books together (great for long car rides, and for evenings spent playing with Legos in the den after dinner). We’ve gotten through three of the five books, and Sylvia loves them. So much, in fact, that we started having “Wouldn’t it be nice to take a trip to Cornwall soon?” discussions before we realized that such a trip isn’t in our budget right now. Soon, I hope.

Mucking about with: Google Body.

Knitting: It’s been quite some time (months and months!) since I did a knitting update. Over the winter months I completed several small projects:

  • three sets of baby legwarmers (made from Baby Cashmerino) for three different new babies
  • five (!!!) Seven Circles scarves/necklaces (also from Baby Cashmerino); all but one were gifts for friends*
  • one pair of socks for a child (this isn’t quite finished but will be within a few days, I think); these were supposed to be for Sylvia but are turning out to be too small for her, so they’ll be a gift for someone else

I also knit a February Lady Sweater for myself. I cast on in January, but I did happen to knit most of it in February. Since I finished it, I’ve worn it at least three days each week—I really love it.

BONUS: All of this knitting was done with stash yarn. WOOT! Up next on my plate: a February Lady (Kid?) Sweater for Sylvia. I think I’ll just take the grown-up pattern and knit the smallest size in sportweight (instead of worsted). That ought to fit her, I think. Unfortunately, I don’t have suitable yarn for this (she wants blue, and I’m thinking of something that’s mostly cotton), so I’ll actually have to buy some for this project.

Watching: The Secret of Kells. One of the most visually stunning films I’ve seen in a long time.

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* And one of those friends was the person who gave me some of that yarn about four years ago. She gave me three balls of Baby Cashmerino in a deep red color, and that turned out to be just the right amount to make one scarf for her and an identical one for myself.

Marsha

Free lunch: Tutorials

Recycling yarn from store-bought sweaters. My favorite part of this tutorial is the author’s use of the term “yarn barf.”

How to darn holes in knitting. I have a pair of socks (the first pair I knit for myself) in sore need of this kind of attention.

How to knit attached i-cord. This would be lovely as trim on sweater edges.

Tutorial for stranded knitting. Anything that combines knitting with comic-book style has got to be worth a try, right?

Two finger-knitting tutorials, here and here.

And two illusion-knitting tutorials, here and here.

Use Excel to make lace-knitting charts.

Use a crockpot to kettle-dye yarn with kool-aid. I did this last winter and love the results!

How to cut plastic shopping bags to make “yarn” for knitting. I bring my own bags to the store these days so don’t have plastic shopping bags for cutting. But I like the idea here. If any of you try this, I’d love to hear about the results.

Make yarn from old t-shirts. I love how this results in tubular yarn.

Marsha

Woe is me

The first pair of socks I knit for myself, out of KnitPicks Memories, developed a huge hole in the heel within a couple of months. Several knitting friends pointed out to me that the 100% merino content of the yarn I used was the likely culprit: without any nylon for strength, wool socks just wear through.

So I resolved to knit socks only with sock yarn that contained some nylon. These were next, made of Fleece Article Sea Wool–70% merino, 30% seacell. I thought the seacell would provide enough strength to keep these socks intact, but while out for a walk in my neighborhood this afternoon I discovered I was wrong.

sock1.jpg

Two questions for you all:

1. Is it worth trying to darn these somehow? I like these socks a lot, but the entire heel/foot has worn rather thin. I’m concerned that if I take the time to repair the holes, more are likely to appear elsewhere soon.

2. Do you have any recommendations for good, strong sock yarn? I want to start on another pair of socks for myself, but I really want to be sure I choose a long-lasting yarn.

sock2.jpgsock3.jpg

Marsha

Knitters’ Day Out 2010

kdomirror.jpgOn the last Saturday of September, I (along with several friends from my local knitting group) attended Knitters’ Day Out, which I describe to non-knitters as “a knitting con.” It was held about an hour and a half from my house, so my friend Gina (who’d stayed over the night before) and two other friends left my place at about 6:15 a.m. in order to get there in plenty of time to check in at registration and do a lap in the yarn market before classes started. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Central Pennsylvania College, where the event is held, is their version of motivational posters: the bathroom mirrors are inscribed to phrases urging students to “look professional” and “make a good first impression.”

 

kdobearlin.jpgThe market took up the entire first floor of one building, and I had several opportunities to walk through it. I paid a visit to the Bearlin Acres booth and had a lovely chat with the owner, who remembered the squirrel and oak mittens I made two years ago from yarn I’d won as a door prize from her. As usual, she had some amazing yarn on hand in beautiful colors. I managed to resist the urge to buy any (since I have plenty of stash yarn at home), but did buy two handfuls of roving from her, to try a needle felting project for the first time.

 

kdosteamvalley.jpgUnlike many people, I don’t go to KDO to shop. Most of the yarn sold there is available through other outlets (e.g., brick and mortar stores, online vendors), so there’s no urgency for me to buy it there. The stuff that does tempt me, however, is fiber that is hard to find elsewhere, such as this stuff from Steam Valley Fiber Farm. My photos don’t do justice to the color or texture of these yarns. I thought about picking up a skein or two, but decided not to because (1) I didn’t know what I’d do with it, and (2) I’ve resolved not to buy yarn unless I know what I’m going to do with it. (I learned my lesson after buying numerous single skeins at sales and watching them sit in my stash for years before I had no idea what to do with them.)

 

kdofreeyarn.jpgThat’s not to say I didn’t come home with yarn. I did. But they didn’t cost me a cent, because I was lucky enough to win a door prize: a $25 gift card from one of the vendors, the Colonial Yarn Shop. It turned out to be the exact amount needed to buy these two skeins of Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky yarn, which I’ll make into a scarf for Sylvia (who’s been asking for a scarf).

 

The main reason I go to KDO, though, is for the classes. This year I signed up for two three-hour classes: a morning one with Annie Modesitt, on knitting her Cocoon Circular Sweater; and an afternoon one with Kathy Zimmerman, on slip-stitch knitting. Both classes were great*, and Modesitt was hilariously irreverent. (I wonder how many of her students file complaints afterward.) I especially appreciated Modesitt’s opening speech, in which she said that when she’s talking everyone else should shut up. (And she pretty much used those exact words.) So often in these classes there are people who insist on chatting their way through the instructor’s discussions (making it difficult for everyone else to hear), so it’s refreshing when a teacher says she’s not going to put up with this sort of thing.**

Now to dig through my stash to see if I have the yarn I need to knit one of those cocoon sweaters…

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*I have to admit I was a bit annoyed when Zimmerman opened her class by asking all two dozen or so students to introduce themselves, talk about how long they’ve been knitting, and describe what sorts of things they like to knit. Honestly, I don’t care about the other people in my class. I don’t mean that callously. It’s just that when I’m in a class that meets once for three hours, I want to learn about knitting, not listen to twenty or thirty minutes of introductions.

** I should also point out that Modesitt was a terrific teacher–definitely Someone Who Knows Her Shit.

Brought to you by the folks at Aardman (of Wallace and Gromit fame). At the end there’s even some knitting, as well as a shot of the camera rig.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD7eagLl5c4&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]To see how the film was made, check out this link.

Marsha

A day full of knitting

I started this blog in early September 2005 (happy birthday, Blog!), originally intending it to be a place where I could keep track of my knitting by posting pictures and specs of various projects. Its scope quickly grew to encompass pretty much anything that interested me, but knitting still makes an appearance.

I haven’t written about knitting for a while, but I have been working on (and even finishing!) some interesting projects. I’ll write about those projects another time, but for now I want to write about an all-day knitting event I attended over the weekend.

Last year I attended Knitters’ Day Out (KDO) for the first time and had a wonderful experience, which I blogged about three months late. (D’oh!) I was able to go again this year and once again had a terrific time. All together, seven people from my local knitting group went; two went up the night before (they were teaching a class and had a free hotel room), and the five of us rode up together early in the morning.

Again, I took two classes.* My morning class was “Entrelac Basics” with Gwen Bortner. She is a professional knitting instructor–and boy, it really shows. She was very clear and very thorough, and she had the best knitting instruction handouts I’ve ever seen. I finally learned how to do entrelac, which isn’t as terrifying at it seems when you understand how it works.

And, even better, I learned how to knit backwards. OH MY DOG that is so cool. I can’t even begin to describe the coolness of it. Learning this technique alone was worth the price of admission. Basically, you do the purl part of stockinette from the back, so you never have to turn your work. This is handy for something like entrelac, where instructions might have something like “Row 1: K1. Row 2: P1.” All that flip-flopping your knitting back and forth can get annoying, but when you learn how to knit backwards, it’s all a distant memory.

(How is it that I never heard of backwards knitting before? It is so practical! And easy! Is there some Great Conspiracy to keep this hidden from the knitting community at large? Hmmmm!)

My afternoon class was “Double Knitting,” which was taught by one of the KDO organizers. (Each year at KDO they have three “celebrity” instructors, and you can take one class with one of them.) She was very nice, but the difference between her class and Bortner’s was pretty striking. When you teach knitting for a living and not just for fun, a certain level of professionalism and thoroughness isn’t optional. It also didn’t help that the afternoon class was full of people who just didn’t listen. I swear, in the ten minutes after the instructor told us to cast on twenty stitches (instructions that were replicated on the handouts she’d given us), at least half a dozen people asked how many stitches we were supposed to cast on. Argh!

Double knitting is pretty cool, too–and, like entrelac, not complicated at all once you understand how it works. It does move along pretty slowly, though, since you’re basically doing K1P1 across the length of each row–and across twice as many stitches as the row’s final length–so I’m not sure how often I’ll use this technique.

During breaks I visited the yarn market, which had maybe twenty or so vendors. Many of them sold yarn and notions that are available anywhere, but there were also quite a few purveyors of locally grown/spun/dyed yarn and fleece, and those were my favorite places to visit. When I stopped by the Bearlin Acres Farm booth, Linda, the owner, recognized me. “You’re the one who knit those mittens three times!” she exclaimed. She had enjoyed seeing the blog post and photos of those mittens–and was pleased to know that Sylvia loves them and wore them all winter long.

Linda had four skeins of yarn that she’d spun from Stansborough Grey fleece, and though the geek in me really really wanted to get these, I couldn’t justify the expense. These fingering-weight skeins were $30 each, but since I’d probably need two skeins to knit the socks I had in mind (which, for this yarn, would definitely be the Rivendell pattern), $60 for a pair of socks was just too much for my budget. (I should point out that rest of Linda’s yarn was very affordably priced; the price of this stuff reflects the cost of getting fleece all the way from New Zealand.)

I actually managed to avoid buying anything–well, anything for myself, that is. Toward the end of the day, I picked up something for Sylvia: twenty-five little felt balls in a variety of colors (with a bit more purple than anything else). She loves them! We are going to get some elastic thread and string them together into a necklace for her.
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*When I told Sylvia what I was going to be doing that day, she said, “So it’s like you’re going to knitting school!”

Marsha

Postscript to the summary

I should add one interesting point to my vacation summary: while we were in Vermont, I managed to go into not one but two yarn shops and walk out without purchasing anything.

The first shop was one that we’ve visited before many times. It’s the small shop attached to a historic mill where I bought the local yarn that I used to make Wonderful Wallabies for Jan and Sylvia (well, some of hers–a portion of hers was done in Noro Kureyon). Last year I bought enough of it to make a sweater for myself, and since that yarn remains unknitted in my stash (still looking for the perfect project for it), I didn’t feel a need to buy more. Maybe next year.

The other shop I visited was the famous Kaleidoscope Yarns in Essex Junction. About two weeks before my trip, they were running a free-shipping promotion, so I placed an order with them for some Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit. I had purchased four skeins of this in Moonshadow at the spinnery itself three years ago, and earlier this summer started a new project with it (more on that later). Sometime last month I realized that I’d need at least another two skeins of the stuff to finish my project, so I started trying to find some.

I contacted the Spinnery directly, hoping they might have a few skeins of my dye lot squirreled away somewhere. No luck. (No surprise, either. After all, it has been three years.) So I decided to take a chance with Kaleidoscope. I ordered three skeins and crossed my fingers.

When they arrived, I was disappointed to discover that they were decidedly grayish in tone–and I needed something brownish. I contained Kaleidoscope for an RMA number but then realized that at least one of our day trips would take us near there, so I could just return the yarn in person.

So that’s what I did. I browsed around the store a bit but didn’t see anything that I really wanted–that is, nothing that I wanted to buy right then, knowing that I have plenty of yarn to work through at home. So I actually walked out of there with more money than I had when I walked in. How often can someone say that about a yarn shop, right?

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