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

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