Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Feeling Sheepish

I've been thinking about my knitting. What I have done, what I would still like to learn. One of D's coworkers put a bug in my ear this summer. She was asking me about my knitting and if I ever planned to spin. My answer was a quick no, I don't plan to be a spinner. I like making things (clothes) too much to use part of that time making yarn to make into things. (No offense to any spinners out there, I just know what I enjoy about my knitting.)

I did tell her the thing that I could see myself doing eventually is buying a fleece and having it processed in a mill. I would get all the fun of selecting a fleece without stealing my knitting time. I said this in a way that lead her (and me) to believe that it would happen in the distant future. "Oh, in a few years I could see myself buying a fleece eventually."

Well, ever since then the idea has been throwing itself onto any part of my brain that will listen. Buy a fleece! Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival is sponsored by a mill go talk to them. Their name is Battenkill Fibers go look at their website. You should see how much it costs, then you would know. See how easy it could be? We could buy a fleece and be a real knitter. And on and on.

It does not help that I am prepping papers to be scanned at work. It requires very little of my active mind, which is more than happy to think about owning a fleece.

So finally I gave into myself this week and started doing research. I have some questions that must be answered before I make this decision.

  1. How do I identify a good fleece?
  2. What should I avoid in a fleece?
  3. How much raw fleece would I need to make a sweater?
  4. Do I have to buy a whole fleece for one sweater?
  5. How are fleeces sold? Whole, half, by the pound?
  6. If a fleece is enough to make two sweaters, would matching sweaters look silly on D and me?
  7. Does the cost outweigh the idea?
  8. How much am I willing to spend?
For question one and two I am looking online and in a couple of spinning books from the library. The advice seems to be similar for all the sources I've looked at so far. I found an article on Knitty and a couple of other places. I'm reading through and starting to take notes so I can really understand what I'm looking for and what to avoid.

Three, four and five are not answered in any of my research yet. Other than the basic non-answer, it depends. I'm not sure six can be answered by research.

I think seven and eight will get answered closer to the festival. I am willing to spend a bit more for this yarn than something I can find in a store. I really like the idea of having my very own unique yarn but I'm not willing to go without food to get it.

So if any of you have advice or suggestions to give, I am more than willing to listen. Even if you tell me I am crazy. I do as always reserve the right to ignore any and all advice, and to therefore be very wrong so you can tell me 'I told you so.' That would of course remove you from my knitworthy list. Hey we can not live in a world where 'I told you so' is cast about with no repercussions. My blog my rules.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Come on Irene!

Yep I have Dexys Midnight Runners "Come on Eileen" running through my head with slightly different words. (Thank you Husband for putting that song in there.) The rain and wind from Irene have started here in upstate NY. Not bad yet but there are a lot of leaves and dead branches scattered in the road. Every time I hear a wind swell I brace up a bit and hope it passes with nothing more than knocking off more leaves.

So now I should tell you my Hurricane Floyd story. We were living in Charleston SC. Floyd was set to come straight over Charleston on the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Hugo. Now Hugo was a humdinger. When you live with hurricanes you get used to them, well really when you live with any type of weather condition you get used to it and think 'oh I can handle this.' Hugo was a deal breaker for many people who had rode out many storms.

Now I am going to tell you this without any actual fact checking since I absorbed the rumors and innuendo that day you will get mine. So as Floyd was bearing down on us my office mates took great delight in sharing with me what it was like after Hugo hit. 'All you could hear for months was the sound of generators and chain saws.' 'Fed my family of three and my neighbor's because she did not stock up her freezer like she should have.' 'I'll show you the pictures of the boat sitting out on Rutledge Avenue. Yes a yacht sitting there on the land.' 'The town north of here had swells so big they pulled out the ceiling tiles and put the kids in the rafters. Not to keep them dry but to keep them alive.'

I could go on but I won't. We packed up the office up off the floor. And headed home to pack up our own stuff. Let me tell you it is a revealing moment when you pack up a car with essentials. Things you would still like to have if your home was not there when you get back. When I tell the story now I start off with; we had 2 cars, 3 drivers and 2 cats. My car was packed with; our computer but not monitor, my grandmother's quilts, our picture albums, financial records, clothes, cat food and litter, and toilet paper. Yep a whole bag of toilet paper. Hey if you run out that stuff is like gold to me, but easier on your bum. So what does my packing say about me? I am nostalgic yet terribly practical.

Now you know I think of myself as a midwesterner. I was called yankee a bit when we lived in the South. I always thought of yankee as being a New Englander. Well to people in the South, it is anyone that was not raised in the South. I have never felt more like a yankee than when we drove out of Charleston. D had relatives living in Florida so we planned on staying with them. We were two of three autos heading south that day. Everyone and I mean everyone was heading north. Our trip took 14 hours more than twice the time it should have. The station playing on my radio was just people calling in to tell everyone which gas stations still had gas.

It was a scary trip. But on the flip side once we took naps after driving all night, we went to Busch Gardens and there were no lines because everyone had been there the day before when Disney World had closed down.

We made it back to Charleston safe and sound with no damage to our apartment. There were tree branches all over the place, and they took a couple of weeks to clean up. But all in all not as bad as the forecast. I hope Irene plays the same song today.

Monday edit: Thankfully Irene just blew down branches and leaves where we are. Surrounding communities are dealing with flooding. All in all she could have been much meaner to us.

Oh and for those people complaining about the storm was overhyped, Shut Up! It is far better to be overhyped and alive than someone dying trying to help you.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Running for the Roses

I decided if I can not run some races yet I can walk some. D decided to walk this one with me. He was our photographer for this event barring a couple I took myself.

Kisknit took this one. She was participating in the race portion of the event along with her fast Hubby.

And we're walking. There was some beautiful scenery!

I think the table was being consumed by moss. Ah the dreaded Moss Monster!

We just made it back in time for the start of the race.

Kisknit had such a look of concentration and focus on her face, then when I take a photo the Drama Llama pops up complete with Jazz hands! I know that is not the proper usage of Drama Llama but it is my blog and I will use it for comedic purposes when I like!!

Here is the fast man coming in for a landing!

And here is the not quite as fast woman coming in for her landing too.

That is an excellent time for a 5K in my opinion! She shaved off minutes from last year's time too. Did I mention it was a hilly course too?

D took pictures of the back of my very sweaty head but I don't think the world needs to that.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What to do

So I was writing up our schedule for the coming months and discovered an issue. Granted of all the issues in the world this one is not bad.

I have two local fiber festivals that I like to go to. The newer one is in September (Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival - SADK) and the mack daddy one (New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck) is in October. This year they are 3 weeks apart! Have I not noticed the timing the last two years? This barely gives me yarn fume recovery time. I will still be slightly woolly. The September acquisitions will not even have made it into the regular yarn wall stash. Gus will still be bringing them one by one into our bedroom at night. (It's a weird Momma cat thing that I totally adore. Yes, he knows he is not a Momma cat he just has the urge to treat yarn a certain way.)

Oh speaking of Gus's yarn obsession, he is a yarn snob too. I received some inexpensive acrylic yarn, you know the kind most of us buy when we're starting out knitting because it is cheap and soft, therefore it must be yarn for learning on? Well we woke up the next day and Gus had clearly investigated the bag and may even have tried to pick it up in his mouth, but it did not make it very far. It is either yarn snobbery or the skein was too big for him to carry.

Anyways back to my fiber festival issue. I'm already saving up for the festivals so I don't have to worry about my budget. It is not like an extra week would allow me to replenish the coffers. I guess I am just a wee bit surprised they would choose to put the festivals so close together.

Of course Rhinebeck is becoming quite a large and cumbersome festival, so some people may not choose to go to that one. SADK is newer and less intense. If I know a vendor is going to be at both festivals, I choose to go to SADK booth instead.

Last year SADK was my heads up that sock yarn prices had increased over the past year in 2009 most of the sock yarn skeins I bought ran about $20. In 2010 there seemed to be a $2 bump for almost every vendor, which proved true at Rhinebeck also. Also at SADK I did not seemed to be overwhelmed by either the crowds or the volume of yarns and was able to find and try out some new (to me) dyers. I know I knit up the untried ones first because I was so excited. I cast on socks for D between the festivals because I felt a wee bit guilty buying more yarn. Of course last year I had three yarn buying excursions. The two festivals and in August I was at Twisted in Portland OR with a boat load of Socks that Rock and a couple of dyers I had not seen in this area.

While now I see the intelligence of acquiring a stash while the prices are lower I still don't want to let my stash get out of hand. In that spirit I did a bit of research into last year's big three purchases. At Twisted I bought 7 skeins of sock yarn, 5 of which have been knit up. SADK scored me 4 skeins of sock yarn and 2 of those have been sockified. Rhinebeck landed me 6 sock yarn skeins with 3 of them now wearable, and another 2 on the needles. Therefore I've only added 5 skeins to the stash. That is much better than buying the 17 skeins and leaving them all as stash. Hey I am doing much better than even I thought! Maybe I should go buy more yarn. Oh wait I just did. I'll show you pictures another day, don't worry it was only 2 skeins and the way I'm going one of them should be knit up by the end of this post.

Well at least I make me laugh.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wooly and whimsical

You know how I love to wrap things in wool around here. Sometime about a year or so ago I stumbled across a pattern on Knitty for a tea cozy. This one. I thought it would be a great use for some yarn left over from a few other projects. I started it and got the wild idea that since it was felted it would be a great way to work on my colorwork knitting, and I found a cute  kitty face pattern I had long admired on a sweater in Interweave Knits magazine. Now I know this was quite a while ago because I had not even knit my Norwegian mittens yet. I knit on it till I got to the decrease section and put it away for some reason. It sat in a bag for months.

As I was looking back at my knitting and blogging I realized I never finished it so I pulled it out. Yep you guessed it I had finished it later that weekend. It was not even hard, I just don't know why I put it down.

As with many things that are felted it started out huge and floppy.

I sent it through the washer in a pillow case and it went down in size a tad. Enough that it could stand on its own but not enough for me. See how you can still see the vertical lines of the stitches?

Because I was still learning to do colorwork, my stitches pulled in on the fabric. I went in and cut some threads to give it some room to loosen up before the second dunking. I figured it had felted enough that no holes would form and if they did I would have make one of them handle sized and let it hang out.

See how we lost the stitch definition and now it is fuzzy and blurry? That is what I was going for. Now I have a backup teapot cozy that is wooly and whimsical. 

Wooly and whimsical that describes me and my cozy now too. It seems to be keeping the tea hot. I've not had a complaint yet. Then again who would complain when they have tea and scones in front of them? I mean really. Not that guy sitting there!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Still amazed

So last week I made myself do something out of character. I put a knitting limitation on myself. Since the plain socks are so easy to work with and I don't have to carry and mark a pattern I made them only On-The-Go knitting. I was not allowed to knit on them while I was sitting pleasantly at home.

You know what happened? I finished a sock I've (not) been working on since May. My first Spring Forward sock is done and I have cast on the second one too. It is amazing to me that some things take so long because I simply don't spend any time on them. All you monogamous knitters out there can stop laughing any time now.

I have also finished my first plain sock too but that's ok because I followed the self imposed rules. OK I knit on it a bit tonight at home because I was casting on and that requires attention and focus for a few rounds. I'm not going to beat myself up.

I took my car in for its first oil change this weekend. As I walked by the waiting area I noticed a lady knitting. So I used my time in the restroom constructively, trying to figure out how I would approach the situation. You know it is tough being a shy knitter that wants to meet other knitters. I decided I would sit near her but not next to her and pull out my knitting to see if she noticed. Which she did!

Yay, for the purse sock doing its job and getting the conversation started. She was very nice and was working on a wrap sweater out of Noro Silk Garden yarn. When she asked about local yarn stores, I recommended a few that I know. I eventually asked if she is on Ravelry and was a bit dismayed to find out she is not. I tried to explain the concept which is quite difficult given my descriptive skills. You know how hard it is to describe something when you don't know the person and have no idea what their internet usage is? I tried the 'it's a bit like Facebook' line but she is not on Facebook so no frame of reference there. You can look up yarns, books, designers and see what people have made, was my best description. But as with explaining why a cell phone is useful to someone who has never had a cell phone, you don't really get it till you see it. I was able to tell her the most enticing bit, Ravelry is free! So maybe she will get in and have a look around to see what kind of a tool it can be

That was my knitting week in a nut shell, how was yours?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Today here on the blog is Work In Progress(WIP) Wednesday. I finally remembered to get a couple of pictures. First up we have my slow and unsteady Pink Spring Forward socks.

I would probably have a second sock or even a first if I actually worked on these instead of letting them sit next to me on the couch when I mock them with other things I am knitting. It never ceases to amaze me how much a project jumps ahead when I work on it instead of thinking about it.

I really like not having to think about what to do next and having something to carry around in my purse. Only plain socks fit this bill. I can carry more complicated ones with me but I don't. There must be a huge WHEE factor in it for me, whee, round and round, whee! Yes carousels amuse me quite a bit too. They have fancy horses and go round and round, whee.

Anyways, I did not even bother to fight my case of startitis. The same night I blogged about it I cast on three, yes three things *ahem* socks. One did not make it past around when I knew it was not what I was looking for, another had around two inches knit before I realized I am not digging how it is turning out. The last one has cashmere in it so it won.

I am calling it my Green Tea sock. The yarn is Fiber Optic's Kashmir in the Sage colorway, I believe. I should have know the stash would attack with another green yarn, it worked so well for them last time. I was having a hard time deciding if this should be socks or mittens. I thought the color would remind me of spring all winter long. Then I realized I can never keep light colored things looking clean enough. Spots and stains find me when I am not looking, and sometimes when I am looking. So now my feet will know what cashmere feels like. Is it wrong that I am jealous of my feet now? I know it is odd but is it wrong?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hubby Love

D was away for work and I am not the only one that missed him. Since I was the one that took him to the airport Gus decided to punish me by ignoring me. He skulked under the office chair most of the time Daddy was gone. He did come out for tuna at night, well he was punishing me not himself. He make allowances for his own needs but definitely not for my comfort. He would hop up on the bed but ten minutes later be gone. Once I even thought I heard an evil laugh followed by "That should teach her!"

And for my suffering D thought I deserved yarn. Well, he told the sales lady that I would not let him back in the house without yarn. (Not true but I don't want to nitpick him.)

What does any woman need? Red Wine and Dark Chocolate from The Sassy Sheep. Socky Sheep is 80% superwash Merino and 20% Nylon. It weighs in at 4 ounces and has 420 yards of wooly goodness to play with.

You know how somedays the colors are just not quite right? This is one of them. It photographs a bit on the hot pink end when in real life it is just under brick red, and the purple is more brown and deep. It is really quite lovely and something I would have picked out myself.

He found it at a farmer's market in Idaho Falls. Which is lucky because the yarn store he went to was by appointment only on the day he was there. He thought about calling the number but decided it would not really have been worth their time. He was not there to get a sweater's worth of yarn. He did say it was a nice shop from the outside, with a nice window display.

He explained to the lady at the farmer's market that his wife is a knitter and showed his socks that I had knit. (Another reason he gets more socks.) He knew she was a knitter when she pulled out a skein and offered it to him, saying "feel this." He was even smart enough to ask if the skein was enough for a pair of socks. (The wool fumes must not affect him like me. I can only think of things like Oooo and pretty when I am around yarn.)

I had forgotten that he does not know how much yarn is needed to make a pair of socks. When did this become basic knowledge to me? If I can look at a skein of yarn and know if I need one or two to make a pair, does that officially make me a sock knitter? Is that when they hand out the knitting badges? 

He even gave me his little notebook from the conference too. Because he knows I love notebooks almost as much as him and yarn. It has a loop for a pen, awww, such a cute little notebook.

It is nice to be loved...even if the cat does not.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jealousy green?

Well let's see what I have to show you today. Oh look another pair of socks. I am so surprised. 

Gus totally tried to photo bomb me. Oh was that a picture of your socks you was trying to get? So sorry, have you seen how silky my fur is? Yes, it is very nice.

This is Dye Dreams Luster socks in Pine. It is a Blue Faced Leister (BFL) yarn, my first from that sheep. I bought this yarn a couple of years ago. Guess where? Yes, you're right Rhinebeck, NY Sheep and Wool festival. I do so love finding new yarns there. Sadly some months after Rhinebeck the partnership dissolved, so they are no more. I think I held on the yarn because of that. But I am trying to get over it.

I don't think I am an oh no there is no more of this particular yarn kind of person. I have yet to buy yarn because it is being discontinued, but I did put this one off because I wanted it to be used for something special. But then I thought how will I know if I like BFL yarn if I don't use it. I am trying to plan ahead and try some yarns so I will know more of my likes and dislikes so I can make an informed purchases at Rhinebeck and other festivals/stores. I like trying new yarns, but if I can find yarns that really work well for me and I enjoy knitting, I would like to keep them in business too.

You can just make out the bands of coloring at the toes. They have a nice banding of lighter and darker greens. I had a bit of trouble with the yarn, the way I wound it and knit with it added more twist. I had to stop and let it unwind every so often. It is a thinner yarn than most that I am familiar with. I do like a plump bouncy yarn, but with the added twisting I lost bounce.

Well, all's well that ends well and I have a nice new pair of socks. And really what more could a sock knitter ask?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Turns out I like a bit of a challenge once in a while. I don't want my knitting to be a source of stress for me but it is nice to know what I can accomplish every once in a while.

Introducing my socks named Summitless. I did not go to Sock Summit so I joined in on Ravelry to knit these. I chose to knit A Good Plain Sock from Knitting Rules. I figured these would give me a fighting chance to finish them. 

I wore them for the first time today. I did not wash or block them first, I never do. Somedays I can barely get the ends sewn in before they are on my feet. I figure they ride around in a plastic bag in my purse and  get knit by my hands, how dirty could they be that they could not go on my feet? I would have a bit more cause for concern if I still lived on the farm, but here? No, I am not worried.

On Saturday after I finished the first sock I cast on the second sock and started to knit when I found my sock had finished in just the right place.

I had cast on, joined and just started to knit when my hands told me something was off in the yarn. You see right where the two strands cross? The upper strand has a one inch-ish area of unspun/oddly spun funkiness. I cut it off and started anew. 

I must admit it was odd to focus on only one project for a few days. I am such a project wanderer. Normally I like working on different things. I find each one fills a certain slot in my brain. Sometimes I like to switch between texture and color. Some times I like to go on auto pilot and others I like to need to think about what I am doing.

I know that I am currently down to two different socks on the needles and that feels really odd. I am feeling a bout of startitis coming on. I also have a hair appointment tomorrow and feel I would be letting them down if I came in with no knitting. 

So what to cast on? Fiber Optic's cashmere blend in lovely soft sage green or Socks That Rock in blacks and reds? Or I could go yarn basket diving and see what else is out there.

Of course I could always knit some on what is on the needles...but what is the fun in that, I know what that looks like.