Friday, September 29, 2006

International Yarn!

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I had bought yarn at Patternworks that I thought might be from China. Well, I took the yarn in to my co-worker from Taiwan, and she confirmed that it is indeed Chinese. She was also able to translate the label for me. The brand name translates literally as "Sun Mountain". The label confirms that it is 100% lambswool and says that the yarn was made in an enviromentally friendly way and is bacteria-free. That last was a little odd until my co-worker explained that in China, particularly with food products, it is important to note that a product is "sanitary". So we are guessing that since this is an animal by-product, the makers wanted everyone to know that it is safe to handle.

Then, yesterday, I took that information and went looking around on the web to learn more about the yarn. I found some interesting sites. A search on "Sun Mountain" led me to Little Purl of the Orient. She links to Jody and Paula, both of whom are extremely enthusiastic about the yarn. Finally, I tried a search on "Lacey Lamb Yarn" and it turns out that Patternworks does carry this yarn on their website. Bottom line is that it is considered ideal for cobweb style shawls and there should be enough yardage for the Print o the Wave shawl.

So I am psyched! I now have lace weight yarn from both China and Russia. As always, have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

October Birthday Swap

While I was on my joining spree before I left for vacation, I also joined the October Birthday Swap. I think it is so cool that I get to be part of this swap just because I was born in October! I didn't mention it because I literally got all signed up the day before I left for vacation.

Well, now that I am back I know who my swap partner is. Her name is Lacey, and she is currently living in South Korea! You can find more details and all sorts of pictures on her blog.

The idea behind the swap is to send enough yarn for a small project to your partner, along with a birthday card, a postcard from your state, and anything else you want to throw in. This is going to be great, because I love small projects that I can (theoretically) finish in a timely manner. I think out of all the small projects I enjoy doing, I still love scarves the most. I wear scarves at work almost every day in the winter. There's just something about keeping my neck and shoulders warm. I'm comfortable without the bulk of a shawl or cardigan.

Speaking of small projects, I am also getting insanely excited about Socktoberfest. I know it is going to be a very relaxed knit along, but I am really looking forward to seeing everyone else's socks and hopefully learning a few things from the other participants. Do you know that over 1100 people have signed up for this thing! Wow! I have got to get some socks on the needles this weekend.

So, all in all, I have a feeling that October is just going to fly by! My birthday is actually October 31st, Halloween, and it will probably be here before I know it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Yarn Buying Continues!

I promised my dh that I am going on a yarn diet now that I am home from vacation. I have got to get my stash under control. But, yeah, I did buy some yarn on my travels! I visited three yarn shops and managed to find something to buy at each one.

First up, the Custom Shop in Kennebunk, Maine. I was able to spend about an hour in the shop because my dh went off to visit a used book store in another town. So I took my time and found 2 patterns that spoke to me and then chose yarn to go with them. The first pattern was the Kimono Vest from Cabin Fever that you can see in the picture. I decided to use Country Style DK yarn from Sirdar in two shades of lavender. The skeins are each 348 yards, which is really incredible yardage. I also picked up a skein of Plymouth Encore in a yellow and blue that just appealed to me, and a skein of Plymouth Dreambaby DK that I am already crocheting into a baby hat for a co-worker who is becoming a grandmother again early next year.

Finally, the second pattern I found at the Custom Shop was the Fuschia Lace Scarves from Fiber Trends. I decided to use a Frog Tree Pima Cotton and Silk blend which I had never seen before, and as you can see, I have already started the project. I can already tell that knitting a lace scarf is going to be a lot more doable than knitting a lace shawl!

The second shop I visited was the Yarn Sellar in York, Maine. I spent less time here, but it was a smaller shop. Very nice, but small. I still managed to find a skein of Cotton Chenille from Crystal Palace in raspberry, a skein of Cascade 220 in a green heather, and 5 skeins of Flash from Classic Elite in a red/blue marl. The skeins of Flash were in the sale bin, and I considered buying all of skeins in the bin, but there were too many! So I settled for 5 skeins, which is almost 500 yards. That should be enough yardage to make something, although I'm not sure what yet.

And then there was Patternworks. It is a beautiful store, and I had a lot of fun browsing through it. I found it interesting, though, that I found a number of yarns that aren't available in the catalog, but some of the things in the catalog that I was looking for weren't availabe in the store. So I wasn't able to buy the cobweb weight yarn I was looking for. I'll just have to buy it from the catalog (I know, some time in the future when the yarn diet is over!). I did find a few things to purchase none the less. From left to right in the picture: 3 skeins of Merino Gold in green from Knit One Crochet Too, which I think is going to become a crocheted scarf; a skein of Lacey Lambswool in natural that is just about the softest yarn I have ever touched; 3 skeins of Gems Baby Pearl from Louet Sales in a purple and white marl - this is a fingering weight yarn that I have no immediate plans for; and 2 more skeins of Cotton Chenille from Crystal Palace. The Lacey Lambswool seems to come from China, and I am going to take it in to my co-worker from Taiwan to see if she can translate the label for me. It is definitely lace weight yarn. That little skein is 825 yards, which should be enough for a small shawl. Also, just so you know, I am not that crazy about Cotton Chenille yarn. I bought three skeins of it because I am hoping to turn it into my next WhoDuKnit project. Finally, I bought the Addie Turbo circular needles in size 000, so I am ready to tackle a lace project, and a crochet pattern book from Tahki Stacy Charles.

Whew! Sorry about the long post, but I am just a little excited about all my new yarn!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Back from Vacation!

So I am back from my travels in Maine and New Hampshire. Vacation was a lot of fun, but it is good to be home again! We put about 800 miles on the car, ate way too much food, and had a few interesting experiences along the way. Here, briefly, is how each day went:

Tuesday- Drove to Kittery, Maine and had lunch at Bob's Clam Hut, and then went shopping of course (lots of outlet stores!). Found the York Harbor Inn and settled in, and then went to the Chauncey Lobster Pound for dinner.
This lobster pound is a great place. You can bring in anything they don't sell, so most people bring in appetizers, wine, salad, table cloths, candles, etc., etc. It is the kind of place where the locals celebrate important life events. We found it last year on vacation, and so this year we were more prepared! We had appetizers with us, as well as a table cloth and real wine glasses (and a bottle of wine!).

Wednesday - Visited used books stores and yarn stores. (I will talk more tomorrow about my yarn purchases.) Happy hour in the inn's pub (did I mention that I drank a wee bit, too!) and then a late dinner in the main dining room.

Thursday - Drove to Franconia, New Hampshire, with a stop at Patternworks along the way. We finally had some down time when we reached the motel, which was nice.

Friday - Spent the day at the Highland Games.
Heard lots of great Scottish music, did some more shopping, and spent some time watching the sheep dog trials (which I somehow forgot to take pictures of). The pipe band in the picture is the 48th Highlanders of Canada. By 5:00, we were done in, so we just got pizza for dinner in the motel room and had a quiet evening.

Saturday - This was the day that didn't work out so well. We woke up to rain, so hiking in Franconia Notch was out. So we went out for a leisurely breakfast and drove through some of the small towns in the area. We ended up hanging around the motel all afternoon. I think my dh was bored, but I got some crocheting done at least! We finished up by going out to dinner and then back to Loon Mountain for a Cape Breton concert with two groups - Halali and the Barra McNeils. The Barra McNeils were terrific. So much talent in one family!

Sunday - Got up and drove home. We were here by 12:30, which was early, but at least I had time to unpack, do some laundry, and get ready for work on Monday.

Finally, between happy hour and dinner on Wednesday, we went for a walk along the shore, partly in order to get a closer look at the monarch butterflies who were migrating through Maine. This little guy stopped long enough on his journey south to pose for me, so I thought I would leave you this morning with this picture. Have a great day!

Monday, September 18, 2006

2006 Knit Out

What a day we had yesterday at the Knit Out. I have to admit that when the alarm went off at 6 A.M., my first thought was "I'm just not this passionate about my craft!" However, getting to Union Square Park, helping to set up the guild's booth, and then experiencing the day did help to renew my enthusiasm!

The thing that struck me most about the event was the extraordinary amount of charity work being done throughout the day. Project Linus, Warm Up America, and Save the Children all had booths set up.
Warm Up American also had tables set up that were full all day with people joining squares into afghans. I don't know how many afghans were ultimately put together, but one of my friends from my old knitting guild was working in the booth and she was afraid they might run out of squares!

Save the Children collected hats all day. I spoke with 2 members of the New York Guild who were at the table right next to my guild's, and one of them said they had made "1,000 plus change" hats to donate. Then another member came along and said they actually had 2,000 hats done! We kept a tally as well, and I am proud to say that my guild donated 187 hats yesterday. (Keep in mind that the New York Guild has over 100 members, and we have 30-35, not all of whom are active.) Finally, there was the scarf contest. Unfortunately, I missed the judging because I was in the "Learn to Crochet" tent at the time, but all of the scarves in the contest were being donated to the Orphan Foundation of America. I did sneak a peek at some of the scarves. Some were truly outrageous, but all of them were beautiful.

So, all in all it was a great day, but it was also good to get home. I have to finish this post with this picture of a wedding dress that someone in the New York Guild made for her daughter. The picture does not do this dress justice. The stitches were so finely done, and it was covered in beads. It was truly amazing.

Take care, and have a great week! I will be back next week with tales of vacation and more pictures!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I Have Become Quite a Joiner!

Yes, I am continuing to join groups online and participate in KALs and CALs! I'm not one to jump in with both feet, usually. I tend to wait, and think, and make sure I have the time, etc. But all of the things going on online are just so much fun! So, first up, I finished up a scarf yesterday that I had been working on this week. It is the One Skein Scarf from Patons. This is the September CAL on Fiber Freaks, and I made it pink so that I could send it to the Think Pink Challenge.

I used Red Heart Soft Yarn in pink and white, and I added 2 extra rows to the width of the scarf to better show off the white stripe.

Once I had finished that scarf yesterday afternoon, I started on a red scarf for the Red Scarf Project. I only did about 5 rows because this is the project I am taking to work on during the Knit Out tomorrow. I'll post a picture when I get done. I also made one more hat for Save the Children with the pink that was left over from the scarf. I'm up to 13 hats to take tomorrow, and I may try to get one more finished tonight.

Finally, I joined Soctoberfest over at Lolly Knitting Around. This is actually just going to be a month long celebration of sock knitting, with everyone sharing tips and tricks. I finally got my size 0 dps this week, so I am going to try again on my DK weight socks when I get home from vacation. We may also try to knit some socks for charity as well, which will be good practice for me.

So, work today for me and then the Knit Out tomorrow. I will post on Monday, and then the blog will be quiet until I get back from vacation. I can't believe it is finally here! Have a great weekend.

Friday, September 15, 2006

5 Things I Have Never Done with Knitting

1. Entrelac - this is true of crochet as well. I would really like to learn, and I am going to try to make the Garterlac Dishcloth on vacation as a start.
2. Intarsia - someday!
3. Short rows - except for the heels of my first socks. I would really like to try them in something else, and my first attempt might be this mitten pattern I found yesterday.
4. Lace - ok, I have tried a few lace projects, but I have never finished anything!
5. A Sweater - I have one on the needles at the moment, but again, I have never finished one.

This is starting to sound like an early New Year's list of goals! This past year, I resolved to learn Fair Isle and sock knitting, and I took classes on both and did reasonably well. So I think I will try to work further on this list in the coming year.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lace Shawls Again

Over the summer, I wrote a post about the Russian yarn I had received and my desire to knit a small shawl with it. Well, I haven't had time to start that one yet. I also have some patterns from Fiddlesticks Knitting that I haven't gotten back to. And I am still on the lookout for small lace shawl patterns that might actually be doable in my lifetime. So I have been very interested in the project that Ann has been working on over at Mason Dixon Knitting. She has been working on a shawl designed by Eunny Jang called "Print o' the wave". Knit with cobweb weight yarn on size 00 needles, it comes out just the size I am looking for-18"x60". Even better, it is based on a Shetland lace pattern, which really speaks to me.

As with most things in life, however, there are a couple of problems to starting this shawl. I wasn't convinced that Ornagi Filati Merino Oro was a cobweb weight yarn. It is, however, readily available at One Fine Yarn. From my reading this morning on the Knitter's Review Forum, though, I have come to believe that it is cobweb weight. I was also pleased to find out this week, when I received my Patternworks catalog in the mail, that they now sell cobweb weight yarn from Jamieson and Smith, in addition to several shades of their fingering weight yarn for Fair Isle. So this is the real deal, straight from the Shetland Islands! And did I mention that I am going to be visiting the Patternworks store next week when I am in New Hampshire? I will be returning home with several skeins of cobweb yarn, I can tell!

So the yarn will not be the problem I originally thought it would be. However (and there is always another however), the designer had a pair of size 00 circular needles that she used to knit the shawl, but size 00 circulars aren't readily available any more. Given my problems with gauge, I could probably use the size 000s that are available (and for sale at Patternworks), or there might be size 00 straight needles available. I will have to do more research and some swatching to see what will work.

Then there is the question of knitting the shawl in two pieces and grafting them together, so that the waves point in the same direction on both ends of the shawl, or knitting it in one piece and having the waves point in opposite directions when you actually wear it. Happily, there is a Yahoo group for people knitting this pattern, which I may join if I ever get around to actually starting it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Weekend Wrap-Up

As you might be able to tell by my sidebar, I was a busy girl online this weekend. I finally took the time to join a couple of groups that I have been following or reading about for a while now. As I mentioned yesterday, the Red Scarf Project isn't really taking on members, but I "borrowed" the button to help promote the project.

25 Things for Charity is a blog I have been following all summer. With all the charity work I do with my guild, joining just seemed a natural thing to do. And I really like the idea of having an online group to share projects and ideas with. So, if you are visiting me from over there, welcome!

I also joined a forum called "Fiber Freaks". It took a little bit of doing to join, but I think it is definitely going to be worth it! All sorts of fiber artists are welcome, so there are discussions of spinning and weaving as well as knitting and crocheting. There will also be a monthly KAL and CAL. This month's CAL is scarves, which is perfect for me right now. (I might be missing something, but I can't seem to find all that many CALs online. I found the Happy Hooker Chain Gang, but I can't seem to find much else. If you know of any, please leave me a comment. I would be really interested to at least keep an eye on them, even if I don't have time to participate.) Again, if you are visiting from the forum - welcome!

Back in the real world, on Saturday I finished the start kits for the Knit Out that I had brought home on Wednesday, and then I sat and did more during the guild meeting on Sunday. If I never see yellow Wintuk yarn again, I will die happy! I lost track of how many I did last week, but it had to be in the neighborhood of 75. I have also to date finished 12 baby hats for Save the Children, and I think that is all I am taking on Sunday. I may try to make a few more before January. But I am ready to move on from those, too. Anyway, here are the dozen I have done:

The yellow one is the last one I made, and I have to admit I think it is my favorite. I also experimented with ruffles on some of them. They have been fun to make, but it's time to make some scarves!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Think Pink, Think Red, Think Scarves

Over the weekend, I had CNN on briefly, and the anchor was interviewing a man affiliated with the website My Good Deed. He was advocating turning the anniversary of 9/11 into a day of doing good deeds and volunteer work to honor those who died on that day. In that spirit, I would like to spend today's post talking about some charity opportunities I found while poking around the Internet this weekend. Now that I am emerging out from under starter kits for the Knit Out and baby hats for Save the Children, my thoughts are turning toward scarves.

Think Pink is a blog I found thanks to Whip Up. They are collecting pink scarves now to be distributed to breast cancer survivors in October. (October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.) I know there isn't a lot of time left, but I am going to try to make one scarf to send along. I am also going to keep an eye on the site, because it sounds like they may try to do this again next year.

The Red Scarf Project is being sponsored by the Orphan Foundation of America, and they will be collecting scarves in January to send to college students who don't have any family of their own. I made a scarf and sent it in last year, and this year I am going to try to make more than one. Having been a college student and then an adjunct professor for so many years, this project really touches my heart. The blog isn't accepting participants but will post links to finished scarves. Also, entrants into the Knit Out's scarf contest will also be donated to OFA. Just be aware that OFA does have some strict size and color requirements for the scarves. Both sites that I link to detail those requirements.

Finally, yesterday was my guild's scarf contest. I didn't win, but I had fun entering. As promised, here is a picture of my scarf. This one is part of a hat/mitten/scarf set going to the Salvation Army, but being red, it does fit right in with today's post!

Friday, September 08, 2006


I usually make my vacation plans in late June or early July, even though vacation ins't until September, and then I wait through the interminable summer. This year was no exception. Summer seemed to take forever, but now suddenly vacation is coming up the week after next! I really can't wait. It will start with the Knit Out on Sunday, and then we are going to Maine for two nights and New Hampshire for three more nights. I should be able to visit 2 or 3 yarn shops along the way. We will spend one day at the New Hampshire Highland Games, and one day hiking in Franconia Notch State Park.

Unfortunately, my trouble with socks has made me rethink my vacation projects for this year. I had intended to be knitting socks on vacation, a la Stephanie McPhee, but that project is on hold indefinitely. So I think I am going to focus on making a couple of hat/mitten/scarf sets while I am away. This will involve bringing a little more yarn than I might like, but the mittens in particular should travel well, and I will feel better having a few more sets finished. I am particularly anxious to try the One-Skein Crochet Scarf from Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet. The pattern is also available at Paton's website, but a free membership is required.

So I have a busy weekend coming up. Housework on Saturday, even if I have to chain myself to the house to get it done! And crochet guild meeting on Sunday. Start sorting yarn and gathering patterns for vacation projects. Oh yes, and 18 more starter kits to create before the meeting! Yikes! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Scarf Contest

While the knitting may not be going well right now, I cannot believe how much crocheting I have done this week! On Monday, when I gave up swatching for socks, I went back to crocheting. Among other things, I finished up a scarf I had been working on, giving me 3 hat/mitten/scarf sets already for the November donation.

Next Sunday is my crochet guild meeting, and we are supposed to be doing a scarf contest, with the scarves ultimately being donated to charity. This had started out as an outrageous scarf contest, but I'm not sure if it still is. I had been mulling some ideas over in my mind, but I didn't have time to create anything, so I thought. Then I realized that the scarf I was working on, which I was on the verge of frogging, would be perfect for the contest. I had based it on a shawl that I had made a couple of years ago. I had held two strands of Caron's Simply Soft together and used a Q hook, and then I had just done all hdc, working first in the front loop of one stitch and then the back loop of the next stitch. It was very soft and drapey, almost like hairpin lace. I was pretty sure that I had started with a chain of 93 for a 60" long shawl, so I chained the same for the scarf. I'm not sure how long the scarf is, because it is longer than my tape measure, but I would estimate it at about 72"-74"! I used a strand of red and a strand of white Simply Soft, so the color stands out a bit. It is only about 5 1/2" wide, so it is comfortable to wrap around the neck a couple of times. I went ahead and fringed it, even with its length. I'm not sure how outrageous it is, but it will do for Sunday. I will post a picture next week, after the contest.

In addition to the scarf, I have been continuing to make baby hats for Save the Children. I am up to 12, with number 13 on the hook at the moment. I also spent Tuesday night and Wednesday morning working with guild members to make starter kits for the Knit Out on September 17th. This consists of 12 sc worked for 4 rows. We have 300 of these to do, and we got a good start this week. I brought 18 skeins home to work on before Sunday, and I am sure we will do more at our meeting. Actually, they are kind of fun to do. They don't require much thought.

But the best part of this week has been getting to spend some extra time with some of the guild members. It is just so inspiring to see what everyone is up to. And I know some of you will be jealous that I got to see 49 of the 50 caps Dee is donating to Save the Children! Actually I am still impressed by her caps. The caps are so small, really, and yet Dee found something different to do with each one. No two were identical, but they were all beautiful. It really encouraged me to keep going and to keep experimenting in my own way as I continue to crochet more hats.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Trouble With Socks... that they need to be knit at a tight gauge, and I am a loose knitter. So I spent a frustrating day Monday swatching yarn, trying to find small enough needles to knit socks out of a DK weight yarn.

Let me back up just a bit. Last Saturday, on the way to pick up my dh for the housewarming party, I had time to stop by another LYS and have a look around. Of course I didn't walk out of the store empty handed! I bought 2 skeins of Reynolds Odyssey, a beautifully colored wool, for another triangular scarf, a skein of Cascade 220 for a pair of socks, some Plymouth Jelli Beenz for a couple of children's hats, and 2 skeins of Sirdar Snuggly in an off white with flecks of blue and brown, also for a pair of socks. On Monday, I decided that I would try to start my second pair of socks with the Sirdar. I thought I would use the same Yankee Knitter Designs pattern that I had used for the first pair, since it is a simple, straightforward pattern. You know, get some more practice before tackling a harder, lace pattern.

So I started to swatch. By the time I had got down to size 2 needles, I was still getting 5 1/2 stitches per inch, and I needed 6 1/2 stitches. I didn't have any smaller needles, but I estimated I would need to use size 0s for DK weight. In my frustration, I placed a Knit Picks order for sizes 1 & 0 dps, as well as for some Alpaca Cloud laceweight yarn.

My other concern, however, is that I also want to make socks using fingering weight yarn, and at this point my best estimate is that I will probably need to use a size 000 needle. I know that Addi Turbo does make dps, as well as circulars, in sizes 00 and 000. But in addition to being incredibly hard to find, I have to wonder about the wisdom of trying to knit socks on such small needles. It will probably take forever to make one sock! Yes, I can continue to make socks out of worsted weight yarn. I only need to go down one needle size to get gauge, which is doable. However, while very warm, socks made out of ww yarn are very thick. I might be able to wear them with clogs, but not with other shoes. And I really like working with the finer yarns. I am willing to try with the smaller needles, but I have to be honest. My career as a sock knitter may be over before it ever gets started.

On the bright side, this actually bodes well for my career as a lace knitter. Lace uses the finer yarns knitted at a much larger gauge, which should be right up my alley. Knitting items for felting shouldn't be a problem either. And finally, I had to smile when it occurred to me that while I seem to be working with ever larger crochet hooks, my knitting needles are shrinking at an alarming rate!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Dishcloth Fun!

Yesterday was the sort of day when I wonder how I have time to work. I had taken the day off as a vacation day so that I could have a nice, restful four day weekend as a reward for working so hard all summer. I really don't know where I get these silly ideas from. I did sleep in, which was nice, but then I spent the rest of the day running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get all my chores and errands done. The rest of the weekend won't be quite so hectic, but it still won't be the quiet weekend I had originally envisioned.

Part of the reason I was so busy yesterday actually ties in very nicely with the topic of today's post. My dh and I have been invited to a Labor Day/housewarming party this evening by a college roommate of my dh's, so of course I need to bring a gift, and of course part of the gift needs to be homemade. This couple actually got married exactly 2 weeks after we did, and they moved into the wife's house, where they have lived for 13 years. For some reason, they bought another house in the same town this summer. So you can see my dilemma. These are people who I don't know very well, who have been married and homeowners already for years. They probably don't need anything for the house, and if they do, I have no way of knowing what it is. So I opted to put together a food basket and include a couple of dishcloths, one knitted and one crocheted. Of course, this required stops at three stores, which added to yesterday's list of errands. But I think the end result was worth it.

The crocheted dishcloth is one of my favorite patterns. I made this one, with ends sewn in, in about 45 minutes yesterday afternoon. The knitted one, which I will finish this morning, is currently all the rage because the pattern was included in the book Mason Dixon Knitting. There is a copy of the pattern available online as well. I had wanted to try the Garterlac dishcloth that is also popular right now, but I just ran out of time. As far as the foodstuff goes, I included a tomato basil viniagrette salad dressing, a Vidalia onion barbeque sauce, some local honey, and some chocolate lace candy. I also found a cranberry nut scented candle in a mason jar at Joann's, so I included that too.

Just in case you can't get enough of dishcloths, check out Dishcloth Fun KAL, Dishcloth KAL and Mason Dixon KAL.

Have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend!