Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Road So Far...

I had to share this because it made me giggle when I read it on Tumblr the other day:

That's only sort of true for me.  I'm starting to realize I'm not going to get nearly as much Xmas kitting done as I would prefer, but that's really because I'm doing so much selfish kitting this year and I think my work in progress (WIP) pile is about to get bigger.   (What am I thinking?!)  It's been a while since I've made a true status report, so let's talk current WIPs before I move on to the projects in my queue.

I finished my first Drakar sock (yay) and I'm finally on to the second.  The foot may look a bit short, but these babies stretch pretty good- probably thanks to the squishy yarn, Tess' Designer Yarns: Super Socks and Baby Yarn (in Metallurgy) and the fantastic toe in this pattern!

You'll also see the socks modeling my new stitch protector. I've been seeing a lot of these from other bloggers/podcasters and thought it would be a worthy investment, so I bought one on Etsy- made to order by Pokdej.  This is the larger size.  I thought it was worth investing in the larger one now, even if I don't have any extra long double-pointed needles (DPNs) at the moment.  I'm really enjoying it!  There are great options for patterned cloth and lining and it's roomy without being too loose to hold the project.

I've also got a circular shawl on the needles, but it's part of the Supernatural MKAL by Shannon Sanchez.  Because of the mystery bit, I cant very well post pictures of it- then it wouldn't be a secret!  I'm running a bit behind on this one though.  :-/

Now, I bought the above stitch holder before the end of the Knitting Expat Rainbow KAL, not at all expecting I would win a prize or anything but that's exactly what happened!  If you've not yet watched the Knitting Expat podcast, I highly suggest it! I'm a big fan of Mina and her two feline co-stars.  Mina also makes really wonderful project bags and she can be found on Etsy as Mina Makes.  I knew the prize included the stitch holder, that BEAUTIFUL skein of Ewe Who Knits: Irish Fairy Tree base in the colorway Rainbow Dash, and some really adorable rainbow stitch markers.  What I did not expect was for her to generously include some flavored teas, absolutely scrumptious toffee candies, and a postcard of her boys, Derek and Hugo.  Those adorable felines are accumulating quite the following of their own!  Thank you, Mina, for your generosity!

So what's coming up?  I'm so tempted to use that beautiful skein of Rainbow Dash to cast on a pair of  Mystik Spiral Socks, but I think that will have to wait.  I had hoped to make at least two more pairs of socks for Xmas gifts.  There are a few Xmas knitting KALs I'm already participating in, so that's helping keep me (kind of) focused.  I've also stumbled on this idea of NaKniSweMo: knit a 50,000-stitch sweater in a month- specifically November. CRAZY you say! Yeah, I said that too, but I did hope to have a new holiday sweater for this year and I bought some beautiful yarn with this very intention back at the WEBS test sale in May.  You've actually seen it already in a previous post- that b-e-a-utiful magenta gauge swatch that I made for the Tin Can Knits Snowflake sweater.  I've even counted the stitches in anticipation!  I had to guess-timate a bit on row counts (you know, knit till you have 16.5 inches, etc), but I came up with roughly 58k+ stitches knitting up a XL size with three quarters sleeves.  I figure if I make it by the November 30 deadline that's great, but if I don't I'll still have a really great start on a Christmas sweater.

Well, now that I've gone on and on, it's time to get some of this knitting done as opposed to just talking about it! I'm going to cuddle up with some Mexican hot chocolate and see what I can do about that.  Till next week!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Trouble with Rhinebeck

I got up early, made coffee, and repacked my purse.  Then I repacked it again.  I donned my "Rhinebeck sweater" and started the 2.5 hour drive to Rhinebeck- the event of the season for fiber artists- at least in this neck of the woods but I'd be so bold to say for the entire east coast and into Canada.  This was to be my first trip and I had butterflies in my stomach for days.

The drive itself was beautiful and uneventful, my excitement growing exponentially with every mile. I got there at 9, just as planned.  I couldn't find hours of operation, but the workshop schedule indicated that things should kick off at 9 am, so that's when I would be there.  I spoke with a kindly security guard who pointed out some closer parking, and met up with my friend Sarah marveling at how few cars were there so early.  It also seemed strange that there was a $12 ticket price quoted, but no one had asked for tickets or pointed us to where we should pay.  Maybe we were just here that early?  But we were patient, we were willing to wait because this was going to be great.  Our first Rhinebeck trip!

Then it hit us- it was Friday.  For those of you who don't get the rub, Rhinebeck is a two day event that starts on Saturday.  Nowhere on the fiber festival website did it explicitly say that workshops and livestock events would be happening Friday, but the main event wouldn't start till Saturday.  That information was only posted on the fairgrounds website which we clearly had not checked before we made our plans.  We had come on the wrong day.
Barbeque Duck Quesadilla, Thai-Spiced Crab Soup,
and Sour Cherry Manhattan

For those of you who know me, this is probably not a surprise.  I get so excited about things that I just don't pay attention to the fine print and I get carried away rather quickly. I'm actually one of the only people in the world who I think actually DO read all of the fine print before signing anything simply because I recognize this about myself, yet here I am- sitting with one of my best friends, getting curious looks from the vendors who were probably wondering who the heck we were and why we weren't working.  Sadly, Saturday and Sunday were not options for me, so there was nothing I could do.  I was going to miss it. 

Even if the air was out of our balloon, gosh darn, we were going to make a day of it.  Rhinebeck, as it turns out, is a very beautiful place with lots of touristy shopping and such.  We perused the shops and had a fantabulous lunch at Terrapin- a renovated church turned bistro.  Let me tell you, the meal was a treat in itself and the building was stunning.  If you have the opportunity, seriously give them a try.  The bread pudding is to die for!

So over lunch, we made a plan.  We looked up a few local yarn shops so at least we'd have something to go home with and thanks to the ladies at Faboulousyarn, we did not come home empty-handed!  I had meant to have pictures of the new additions to my stash ready for this post but the day just got away from me.  I promise I'll have them up soon! Despite things not going as planned, it really was a great day with a great friend in a place I'd never been before.  Not too shabby at all! 
I suppose I'll be reading about everyone else's adventures in the week to come, but I suppose I had one of my own mis-advenrture and someday I'm sure I'll be able to laugh at it a little more.  The blow is also softened a bit by the gorgeous scenery on the ride home.  For some reason, by GPS (which, mind you, is about 13 years old now) did not bring me back to the NY Thruway on the way home, but gave me the scenic route.  I found myself chasing a thunderstorm at sunset in the middle of one of the most glorious leaf-peeping seasons we've had in a long time.  It's hard to keep a sour disposition when your drive home looks like this! 

Friday, October 9, 2015


It's a lazy Friday morning over here.  I had a good sleep in, then stayed in bed catching up on my favorite blogs and checking email- one of my favorite things to do.  I know I have other things I could and should be doing, but to be frank I really didn't care.

I haven't made all that much progress on my Drakar socks.  I've just finished the gusset and I'm moving onto the foot of the first sock.  I've been distracted because I picked up a new project on top of the socks and it's hasn't going so well.  *sigh*

I started the Supernatural MKAL (Mystery Knit-A-Long for anyone who's not up on the lingo) which kicked off with the season premier this week. I've been SUPER excited about it, counting down the days, selecting and buying yarn, petting said yarn in anticipation and now it's here.  I picked out this SUPER cute yarn, a 100% merino lace weight in this brilliant green color that practically glows.  Despite the basic pattern info calling for fingering, I decided I could make lace work and I found this on clearance.  PERFECT.  And it doesn't work. 

Well, let's be fair.  I've knit in lace weight approximately 2 times, I have never made a shawl in the round- I'm not even really a shawl person so I don't have much experience there to start with, so it really could be my inexperience that's giving me such a hard time. 

I'm only including the image because I'm so close to the start.
Sorry, the color is WAY off here.
On second thought, let's blame the yarn.  The first clue came out mid-week and I had tried countless times to get at least up to round 10.  SO. MUCH. VULGARITY.  So I think to myself if I switch to some lace weight cotton I've got lying around, maybe the sturdier fiber would be easier for me to control, but again no go.  I only have metal needles in the size I need and the yarn is slipping all over the place.  So the cotton's not going to work.  The only fingering I have on hand are in amounts that I have been meticulously selecting and hoarding bit by bit for sweaters in my queue.  Sweaters which have been carefully vetted over the last, oh, nine months or so.  After a lot of belly-aching at my husband (who despite trying to be supportive really couldn't care less), I break down and cake up the fingering while watching my project planning circle the drain.  But it works.  I'm knitting at such speed it's amazing I can still see my fingers moving, but I still have that horrible feeling in my stomach.  That horrible feeling that I need to stop and stop now before I get too invested in the project to back out.

I finally listened to my gut.  It was killing me to use that beautiful yarn that I so painstakingly selected and invested in and I wasn't crazy about the color for the mystery project either, so I thought I'd try it one more time.  I know I have this thing where I expect I'm going to pick up a medium I'm not used to working with, attempt a technique I've never used before implementing tools I've never used before (a new cast-on! Yippee!) and I have this ridiculous notion that I'm so fantabulous that the project will be flawless.  I will make no mistakes and there is no margin for error.  I know this about myself and I'm trying to recognize and work around it.  So one more attempt was not only reasonable, but I owed that to myself.

And it worked.

HAHA!  It totally worked.  I'm now on round 21 and going strong with a new tool to boot.  Balance has been restored and all in my world is right again.  It's amazing how good this feels!  Now I'm going to go toss in a safety line before I jinx myself.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

(No) Buyer's Remorse

Hey everyone! I've been so busy lately I almost forgot to write this week!  Autumn is a time of year when there are seasonal celebrations just about every weekend here in New England, and it's usually when I start Christmas knitting for the lucky few on this year's list.  I keep a kind of informal rotation going, trying not to knit for the same people every year but never having enough time or money to knit for everyone in the same year.

Deep-Fried Cocktails

The Big E is just finishing today.  I only went once this year as opposed to my usual three plus visits, but I fit in as many fabulous foodstuffs as I could (both literally and figuratively) in that one night.  That includes my annual "Crazy Burger" (a bacon cheeseburger on a glazed doughnut in place of a bun), a turducken sandwich, and deep fried cocktails (the last two pictured below).  I found the secret is a large breakfast so that I can eat a very light lunch, leaving room for lots of food stuffs.  It also helps to have some great friends to share it with!

Strawberry-Filled Wedding Cupcake

I also had a beautiful family wedding to attend on Friday.  Weddings are always a lot of fun, but family weddings are a little extra special.  I have a really big family with lots of cousins, aunts, and uncles, and we take the "cousin's table" very seriously.  Or maybe we don't.  The cousin's table is always having 10x more fun than everyone else in the joint, guaranteed!  Clearly some of us now have significant others too, so our family is just continuing to grow and we were all really excited to welcome our newest addition.

Now, on to knitting.  Let me insert a disclaimer here which is important for both me and you.  I want to make clear that I'm currently writing this blog without any financial support or compensation, so all of the opinions I offer on products/projects/etc are solely my own.  I am not paid to promote any products, people, or brands.  I'm also usually pretty stingy when it comes to my hobbies so if I'm offering an opinion about something, it's because I had enough faith in said "something" to spend my own hard-earned money on it and now feel compelled to share my experience with you fine people.

Now that that's been said, I did finish a few "firsts" this week.  My first test knit finished last weekend, so I had to take and post pictures of my finished product to the group.  Now that the pattern has been published, I feel okay about sharing with you.  I wanted something small to use up the (roughly) half a skein of Valley Yarns Charlemont dyed by Dream in Color that I had left over from someone's Christmas gift (which I won't show you because the giftee may be reading this).  I've joined a couple test knit groups on Ravelry and I came across the Emmentaler Hat.  It's part of a three piece set, but I came late to the party and so did not participate in the scarf or mitts test knits, but the hat is a really quick knit that is relatively simple.  The eyelets are formed by a really interesting stitch and once you get your head around how to execute it, the whole thing's easy-peasy.  I had a great first experience and found the designer to be really responsive, though I'm glad I chose a smaller, easier project for my first test.  I had planned on the FO being Christmas gift number two off my list and it was intended for my model, but once we had photographed the hat she refused to give it back (or even to take it off).  I'll take that as a win!

Emmentaler Hat

I also took my first official fiber class today.  I have to give props to my mom though because it was pretty much her idea.  I've been talking for a while about wanting to become some sort of fiber professional and specifically having trouble with sizing and garment construction.  Being the fantastic parent she is, Mom offered to buy us a class at our local yarn store- "Math for Knitters" for both of us as something for us to do together.  That started a kind of chain reaction which lead to me huddled over my phone at roughly 2 am the other night not only signing up for another class, but  registering for the "WEBS Expert Knitter Program."

Yes, my local yarn store is WEBS- the world's biggest yarn store and before you ask, I am aware how lucky I am to have them in my back yard.  I'll admit, it's more money than I planned on dropping this time of year (fore mentioned Christmas and fair food), but I've never for a second thought it wouldn't be worth it.  Several other knitters I've run into while shopping or attending events at the store have raved about the classes and insisted that, even if they were already very familiar with the topic of the class, they felt they had still walked away with a lot of valuable information.  The idea of the program is to take several classes they offer through the store with both in-house instructors or sometimes with really great guest instructors, and by the end of the program you would finish a "capstone project," designing, planning, and knitting a sweater using your own measurements.

I did get a little nervous after my first meeting at the store to explain the what's what of the program.  Not that it's advertised like this in any way, but it was starting to feel like going back to college.  There's homework to be completed, finished projects are inspected and approved by the Education Manager or a WEKP Committee Planner, there's an add/drop period.  I have to say though, after my "Yarn 101" class today I'm even more pleased with my investment.  I learned so much about yarns and fibers that I just didn't know or never thought to know.  I also have a much better idea of why I've had so many sweater disasters (I think mostly a combination of lazy swatching and bad yarn substitutions).  Not only did I get a lot of great information and make some new friends, but I walked away with a list of resources I can make use of in the future- which is like gold.

So knitters, let's get a conversation going!  How did you learn to knit?  Are you self taught, did you inherit the craft from a family member, or did you take classes?  Is there a tip or resource that you found especially helpful when learning a new technique?

Drakar Socks by "Sockmatician" Nathan Taylor; yarn: Tess' Designer Yarns Super Socks & Baby Yarn in Metallurgy