Monday, December 22, 2008


Rudy is no fan of cold weather!

Rudy hates the cold!

He voiced his complaint loudly this afternoon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stickin' with the Plan

My plan for Holiday knitting was to stick with Hats and Cowls. And if at all possible, to use what I can find in my stash. I mean, we are in a bad economy and being one of the vast group of downwardly mobile Americans has made me feel poorer. In better times I was lucky enough to stock up on yarn so now I can hunker down and put it all to good use.

So far, I've been spot on with the approach and I'm knocking off the gifts in record time. Last week's Cowl was so pretty I decided to repeat the adventure. I have an ulterior motive as well.

The Malabrigo Worsted has been in my stash for nearly two years. I made a scarf with two of the skeins, one of my earliest projects.

color jumble scarf

The other two skeins have been sitting around, waiting for a ripe moment. These cowls are a great way to use them up. With the passage of time I am less enamored of the variegated colors. As I've mentioned, my intent is to go with their semi-solid colors from now on. Yea, I say that now. And the next time I walk into a yarn shop (when the cash allows) I will surely spot some gorgeous skein in a million colors and just have to own it immediately.

So this one is a quick repeat and it's just as purdy as the first. And even after knitting this up, I still have 1.5 skeins left! I predict more variations on this theme...

Birthday (Xmas) Cowl II

The next thing up is a hat I've wanted to knit since the pattern came out earlier this summer. Being a huge brooklyntweed fan, I was sure this project would be as much fun as all his other patterns.

The Turn a Square hat is really easy and really fast. This was done in a little over four hours. I have several skeins of Noro Silk Garden in that stash, but I didn't want to break into them since the thrifty me said to use up some scraps of Noro Kureyon left over from the Lizard Ridge Afghan project. And the gray Cascade was a spare skein purchased when I was evaluating yarns. I'm not sure this was the wisest decision.

Turn a Square I

The hat has a decidedly '70's retro look to it, thanks to the colors I pieced together (lots of spit splicing going on last night!). When I look at it, I am reminded of all those appliances done up in that Avocado-Pea green ubiquitous back then. (do you remember?!?...). I haven't decided if I really like the hat. And it definitely needs blocking, as Jared urges in the pattern notes. It's also a tad too big! Which surprises me because I thought I was knitting it rather tight. The whole time I kept thinking, "wow, I'm moving so fast I hope this isn't too tight" -- I was actually worried about the gauge. I ended up using exactly the amount of yarn specified in the pattern.

Turn a Square I

What do you guys think? Are the colors a Should I crack on with another one using different color combinations?

Turn a Square I

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Santa v Grinch: The Ultimate Smack-Down

Well, the Grinch wandering on my block trying to wreak havoc on my holiday spirits failed in his mission. Because in the end, the Grinch took the bad karma from our front doors away with him. (Thanks, Daniel for that insight. Thank you all, for your kind support.)

On Thursday evening the Park Slope Knitting Circle got together for the weekly gathering. This week's event was the Secret Santa gift exchange. My little project was to make Diana's wish come true - some slippers. It was just the push I needed to do something new, something I've never tried before: felting wool.

Secret Santa Felted Slippers

The pattern itself is about the easiest thing I have ever knit in my life! And honestly it could be addicting, because these things knit up in literally a couple of hours. These being the first of what will surely be many more to come, I adorned them with a simple contrast trim. I can imagine taking this further by incorporating stripes, or embroidering on the tops.

The felting was where it got interesting and there's so much to learn. It's subtle because you have to plan ahead as much as you can, but then the process itself (since I have a front loading washer) is a bit more unknown. These slippers were washed in HOT water, COLD rinse three times to get this felted fabric. There are a couple of other settings on the washer and I suppose it would be worthwhile to knit up a bunch of samples and try variations.


Diana seemed quite pleased and I truly hope they fit. She insisted they would. I decided to spruce up the gift by presenting the slippers in a little basket along with a box of sleepytime style tea and a small package of cookies. Sorry I don't have a photo of the whole package, but as usual I put it all together at the last minute!

It was really fun to see all the crafty things that people made for each other. Barbara, a huge D&D fan got a chrocheted dragon. SO cute. And there were lots of neckwarmers, hats, scarves and even a lovely knitted purse.

Naomi made me a wonderful pair of fingerless handwarmers, and just in the nick of time! The weather turned nasty the next day and I've been using them constantly. These are just terrific and I've been lazy about knitting a pair for myself. So warm and cozy. I was thrilled.

Thank you, Naomi!

The Specs
Pattern: Felted Slippers by Robin Smith(ravel it)
Yarn: Cascade 109 LE Bulky; about one skein Aubergine; small bit contrast Gray
Needle: Size US 13
Started and finished: First weekend of December for the knitting, then washed 3 times over the next 2 wks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Worth a read

Someone forwarded this to me today and I felt it was too good to keep to myself. I know it's off knitting topic, but it affects all of us, even the worker bees like you and me. Read it and try not to let your blood boil....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Dear Visitor,

Hey, those wreaths on our front doors? Nah, we didn't really need them, no seriously. I mean, the doors look fine all by themselves; that's how they look all year long anyway. Yea, it was a frivolous idea thinking we could spruce up our front by adding some yule greenery. Silly us.

And hey, I don't mind shopping the local church bazaars to find the wreaths, and then working with the Boy Scout troop to decorate them just so. It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, so thanks for the warm memories there.

Best of all, I have plenty of time on my hands now. I won't have to waste time picking out the decorations for next year, tossing the wreaths and sweeping the pine needles off front stoop. You took care of that for me, thanks!

And oh, I'm sure you were just thinking it's all in the spirit of giving, that's why you decided to give yourself two custom decorated wreaths. I mean, why else would you trespass onto our property and just take these decorations off our doors?

Yea, so Merry Christmas, Visitor.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Needles on Fire

It was a real knitting streak this weekend. On Thursday we RSVP for an annual cocktail party on Sunday afternoon. Last year I showed up knitless and decided it just could not happen again!


So after work on Friday I got down to business. I needed two knitted gifts and they needed to be fast. Really fast. The first step was to peruse the many pattens I've queued up, printed out haven't tried before. A little stash diving, a little quick comparisons on Ravelry and I cast on for a Birthday Cowl (Christmas cowl?).


The Malabrigo was already wound into a cake. And it's endorsed as a go-to for this particular pattern. By the time I went to bed that evening, it was nearly done. I finished it over breakfast the next morning.


Saturday was a busy day, Mom wanted to buy a new mattress and decided Macy's was the place. How crazy was that - shopping at Macy's two weeks before Christmas for a mattress. When that woman gets a bee in her bonnet....

We plowed through throngs of tourists and holiday shoppers just to reach the elevators. It was a little more sane up in the mattress department (surprise, surprise!), and while she tested beds, I cast on for a hat.

The Marsan Watchcap has been in my queue forever. And I knew it would be a really quick project. It's perfect for a guy and I had some guy-perfect yarn from my recent swatching experiment. The color is called Sparrow, and though it shows as dull beige in this photo, it really reads like lichen on rocks on the top of a mountain.

Jim's Watchcap

By the time we returned to Brooklyn I'd stitched up 3 inches. But I was pooped and ended up falling asleep while knitting and watching Persepolis. So Sunday was crunch time and aside from the weekly Fairway run, and some chores, I was a knitting machine. I finished the hat by 4PM and barely had time to get the one photo before completely losing the light and dashing off to the party!

Whew! Two years ago this could never happen. And this is one of those rare times I actually met my 'knitting deadline'. Yay!

Pattern: Birthday Cowl by Nova Seals (Ravel it)
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted, Stone Chat, less than one skein
Needles: #7 US
Started and finished: about 4 hours

Pattern: Marsan Watchcap by Staceyjoy Elkins (Ravel it)
Yarn: Cascade 220, #4011, Sparrow, less than one skein
Needles: #7 US
Started and finished: about 6 hours
I made some modifications on the hat. The pattern says knit 88 stitches for a large. I knit 96 stitches, in keeping with the 8 stitch sequence. I also knit 10 more rows after the turn. My friend tried it on and it fits, but to me it looked a bit snug. He's a big guy, I suppose 104 stitches would have been better, but it's okay.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Folks, most of the time this blog is all about nicey nicey like my knitting and my dogs. And that's just great. But right now I have something to say, and must vent.

Chrysler goes to Washington with the other car manufacturers asking the government for a bail out. Okay but do you remember, a majority stake in Chrysler was bought by a HEDGE FUND about 18 months ago. That same hedge fund has been circling Daimler in the last few months, and if they are successful, it will mean they own the entire company lock stock and barrel. It's all here.

So people, come on. If the government gives them a dime, I think my head will simply explode. When are we going to stop this insanity?

"Mischief springs from the power which the moneyed interest derives from a paper currency which they are able to control, from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges... which are employed altogether for their benefit." Andrew Jackson

Okay, thank you. I think I feel a little better now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Looking back to find a way forward

"It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes." Andrew Jackson

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"She Wore a Raspberry Beret..."

Raspberry Beret

I'm taking a risk by posting this here, since it is a Christmas present. But it's just so cute, I couldn't help myself. And Oh. When I went to name the photos for my Flickr upload, I unwittingly named them after a certain song...but let me say, I hope you don't find this beret in any old second hand store...

Raspberry Beret

This is the same yarn (leftover) I used for the Forest Canopy Shawl. And the same pattern I used for my Turquoise beret made last summer. It was quick, it was easy and it will be appreciated.

Raspberry Beret

The stuffed doggie was the most willing model I could find on Sunday morning.

Project: Portia Beret by Kim Hargreaves (ravel it)
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino, Raspberry, less than 1 skein
Needles: Size 6 and Size 3
Started and finished: Thanksgiving weekend

Monday, December 8, 2008

Canvas for Millionaires

Today I stopped into Bloomingdale's to stock up on opaque tights for the winter weather. It was across the street from an appointment I had with one of my better accounts.

The sales lady asked me if I wanted to open a Bloomingdale's account. "No, I don't want a card, thank you anyway." It was strange because I think I've heard we are in a credit crunch? The credit markets are frozen? People can't get loans to buy houses, cars, bathroom renovations, younameit. So how come I was offered a new card? If I had said yes, would I waste an hour filling out forms only to be denied (and then they would have all my personal information)? Or is there some sort of alternate dimension in reality. A parallel universe?

Well, I shrugged it off at the moment and left with my $27.00 purchase. Then as I was heading out of the store I browsed the handbags. I saw a canvas bag, rather large, but canvas just the same. No reinforcements to speak of, just a rectangle of canvas sewn together. Oh it was dyed green. And it had the designer name splashed all over it. And that bag, which was shaped like a pillowcase with a strap and a drawstring? It was $165. I kid you not.

I felt like an alien in that store.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Cowl for the Revolution

Stacked Eyelet Cowl

About the only thing I can really handle these days is really simple knitted projects. The simpler the better. The smaller the better, too. It's as if the existential anxiety I'm experiencing is seeping so deep into my bones and muscles it renders me incapable of counting, solving simple math problems, overcoming challenges of any sort.

At least it has a name. This thing, this existential anxiety. Putting a name on it makes it real and it also means it's not just me, which is strangely comforting. I was also told that when there is anxiety at this level it often leads to real change. Action. Collective action or progress to a new level. This is also somewhat comforting. Though I suspect the change we really need may take so long to get here the damage will be deep. We need a revolution!!

So while the collective whole gathers the energy it's gonna need for the coming revolution, I knit small things intended as gifts. Here, a little neckwarmer. Very soft, very cozy.

Stacked Eyelet Cowl

The yarn is Malabrigo Silky Merino, a yarn getting alot of play around these parts lately. I picked up two skeins of this color awhile back and it's been percolating in my stash. I've even attempted other projects with it with little success. Until I hit on this small project. A simple tube knitted with some eyelets to keep it interesting. Just knit around in a circle with a few small blips (or eyelets in this case) and stop when it feels like it's long enough.

Stacked Eyelet Cowl

The color is called Bosques, which means woodland in Spanish. I like the idea of woodlands, and in this yarn it translates to some deep greens, leading to black and lighter greens leading to pale pale green/beige/yellow. The one surprise is the little hints of blue which come up when this piece is held up to natural daylight. Not sure you can see it in these shots.

The Spanish name and the translation remind me of some woods I explored when I was a small child, living in Santiago, Chile. These woods were in a seaside resort called Vina del Mar, by Valparaiso. The aroma of pine needles, the tall pines piercing a clear blue sky. I still remember those woods and the vacations we took there, with the sea and the pines.

Stacked Eyelet Cowl

The Details:
Pattern: Stacked Eyelet Cowl, by Amy Madison (used as a guide, I made modifications) ravel it
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino, Bosques, just shy of a full skein
Needles: Size 7
Started: November 28, 2008
Finished: November 29, 2008 - good Thanksgiving weekend knitting

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Counting. It's Elemental.

This is shameful. The blog is turning into a running dialog of my knitting foibles but at least this time I have a few photographs. Having a full time job really sucks because it's dark by the time I get home. And if you know me, then you know my thinking goes "if it's not worth doin' right, then it's not worth doin'".

Ariann Sleeves1

I digress. This is about the sleeves. Oh, those sleeves. Turns out my real problem is.... I cannot count. Nope. I cannot count. Counting is too difficult for me. Or, more to the point, I cannot read directions and count what the directions indicate.

Ariann Sleeves2

How did I learn this little factoid? Well dear reader, I will tell you. I was nearly finished with the second sleeve when I took another look and this time I read the pattern and realized that the increases were actually correct in the first sleeve. The instructions stated to make the first increase and then REPEAT the same increase 5 more times. That counts as a total of 6 increases every 6 rows and then 8 more increases every 8 rows. OH. DUH. So it wasn't 5 increases, it was 6. And all this time I thought I had made one too many in the first sleeve.

Imagine my relief, though it did mean ripping sleeve #2 down about 8 inches and adding that 6th increase. It wasn't so bad, and I was back on track in no time.

Ariann Sleeves3

The challenges don't end there, dear reader. Because now I have NO IDEA how to add the sleeve to the body. Which is where I am now. Stuck. This time I decided to just put it aside, ponder it awhile, and let inspiration guide me. Still waiting.

And while I wait, I will knit the small projects to get me through the Holidays. And maybe I should go back to third grade, because obviously I missed the day they taught us to count!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Knitting with no Photos

I am a bad blogger. It's been weeks since my last post and I don't even have photos to show. Sorry! (some projects can't be shown till Santa arrives, you know).

Because the little gifts have to remain a mystery, this will be a update on some projects underway (also photo free thanks to the dreary weather today). But first, I want to thank you all for your lovely comments, I really do enjoy hearing from you.

The purple sweater is moving along, albeit slowly. Everyone on Ravelry commented on how long it took them to knit the sleeves. Maybe they made the same dumb mistakes I made and that's why they took so long. For instance, I knit up the first sleeve in it's entirety. It took forever because of the double pointed needles and I kept having to shift stitches around till I got the right combination to make the pattern flow. Then, when I put the sleeve onto waste yarn for attaching to the body at a later stage, I discovered I'd knit about an inch too long. No big deal, I thought. I'll just rip it down before I attach it to the body.

Then I started in on the second sleeve. I got about 2 inches in, then put it down for a week. Well, that broke my stride. When I picked it up again, I knitted onward without thinking and completely forgot the pattern required alternating a knit row every other row. I kept looking at the yarn overs and they didn't match the other sleeve, but I couldn't figure out why. This was after I'd knit about two hours and was well into eight inches. So, I ripped down, another evening with no real progress. The next morning I compared sleeves again and discovered an error in the first one! Seems I miscounted the increases (no wonder it was a bit snug!). Damn! That means I'll have to rip the first one back a good 2/3 to correct the increase sequences.

Meanwhile the body section is within about 1 inch of where I want it to be. I'll use the remainder of the current sleeve skein to finish that off and then add on the sleeves. I suspect the real slog will be once the sleeves are attached and each row will have over 300 stitches to work as I make my way up through the shoulders.

The cabled coat is on hold. I did get almost through one sleeve. I even have some pics of the dumb dumb mistakes I made knitting that sleeve. This project takes concentration and large blocks of time to make progress. With all the Christmas knitting in the next four weeks, the coat is on hold.

To pass the time on the subway, I cast on some simple ribbed socks. The yarn is from Lion Brand and it's the first time I've ever played with their yarn. They aren't going well, I've had to rip back three times. Sometimes simple just isn't. Sometimes my quest for perfection makes simple very difficult.

So I've been contemplating this notion for the last several weeks. How I can turn a simple thing into a difficult thing because I just want it to be right. In this case, right means fitting well. Not too tight. In the case of the Ariann sweater, my struggle seems to be finding a good rhythm despite the dpns. It feels like I'm there now, but if I put it down again, who knows what stupid mistake I'll make when I pick it up again.

I think the stress of my job, the news, the world, everything is taking it's toll on my knitting. What is supposed to be my escape, my sanity saver is actually making me more stressed. I've had to rip back so much knitting in the last month it feels like I'm a beginner all over again. Maybe this means I'm pushing the skills to new levels or maybe I'm about to have a breakthrough. I don't know yet. Right now I just want it to be simple again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Does it Count?

Does it count as knitting if I spend all afternoon updating and organizing my stash in Ravelry? Or does it count as cleaning and tidying up? Because somehow I tripped onto a new feature which tracks the amount of yarn used in projects. And I just had to take advantage of it right away. I started by listing some of my older projects (even without photos) and then linked the yarns used to the stash. Little did I realize I would spend all of four hours doing this! And down another rat hole she goes!

I used to be a very organized person. I would take shopping lists with me to the grocery store, I carefully cleaned my house and never let it get too far behind. I alphabetized the CD collection more often than I care to count! I cleaned closets regularly, took out the trash, straightened out the linens. I had lists for everything - movies to see, restaurants I wanted to try, daily things to do. It was obsessive, yes. But I got things done.

Now, the only obsession is knitting. And the lists, the house cleaning, the grocery shopping, all of it has given way to complete chaos. The house is a mess, cooking is haphazard, the only list these days is the one in my head; the one that reminds me of all the undone things mounting up all around me, all the undone projects. It is a monument to good intentions gone awry. A rat hole, yes indeedy folks, a rat hole.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Lola sleepyface

Lola loves to sleep in warm spots. Her primary MO in life is staying warm. The first day she came home from the shelter, she walked in and made a bee-line for the sofa. It's been like that ever since. When she doesn't get a soft spot on either a bed or sofa, she whines constantly. A real complainer, that one.

Lola prettytoes

When she sleeps her feet start to smell like popcorn. Strange, but true. I love that smell.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

No Longer a Mystery

TTL Mystery Socktoberfest Sock 1

October was Socktoberfest in the virtual knitting world! I mentioned I would join in the fun and since it was my first knit-along, I also decided to jump on the Mystery Sock bandwagon.

The way it worked was neat: every week a new clue was posted on Through the Loops' website. Knit-along participants downloaded the clue and knit furiously throughout the week (or not) and awaited the next clue. I got just a teensy bit behind and finally finished the socks on Friday night.

Thankfully Kristen and Lolly were nice enough to extend the deadline to end of November and for that I am eternally grateful. With the completion of the socks I am eligible, along with the hundreds of other participants, to win a free skein of Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn. This just sweetened the entire experience, it's fun to have a motivating incentive to go along with the group experience.

TTL Mystery Socktoberfest Sock 2

I like these socks very much. It's the most complicated sock pattern I've attempted so far. At first I had some struggles with the cables and the different ssk / k2tog intervals, but after about three false starts it all began to make sense and from then on, smooth knitting. I am enamored of the Eye of Partridge stitch in the heel. This was my first time using this heel variation and I like the dimpled effect.

TTL Mystery Socktoberfest Sock 4

There's alot going on with this pattern. First you have the offset ribbed cuff. Then the leg is a combination of the undulating cable with a ribbed lace background. Then the Eye of Partidge Heel, followed by the continuation of the lace and cable pattern down the instep. By the time I finally got to the toe, I was so relieved to knit stockinette!

TTL Mystery Socktoberfest Sock 5

Thanks to Kristen and Lolly for a really fun project! I will use this pattern again, though I might consider doing the non-cabled version, for a variegated color and a faster knit.

Project details:
Pattern: TTL Mystery Sock by Kristen Kapur, Through the Loops; Socktoberfest 2008
Yarn: Madeline Tosh Sock, Lapis, 1 skein
Needles: Size 1 dpn
Started: October 2, 2008
Finished: November 7, 2008

Charitable Interruption

Charity Child Mittens

We interrupt our regular knitting projects to bring you a pair of cute mittens knit up yesterday. These are destined for charity, though at this point I am unsure which one! Eliza put a shout out to the Knit PH group and I said "sure". I hope to have two pairs ready for Tuesday night's meet up. I'm really looking forward seeing everyone; it's been months!

Charity Child Mittens

Details for this simple project - nothing special but they sure are cute and very sturdy too!
Pattern: random standard mitten pattern, child size
Yarn: Cascade 220, brown and blue from the monster stash; I didn't even have to break open a new skein...
Needles: Size 6 dpns

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sneak Preview

My Ariann

Fueled by the results of the Raglan Sleeve sweater and hell bent on knitting down the overabundance of worsted weight yarn in the personal stash, I cast on another sweater. This one's for me.

It's an easy, one-piece construction with just enough stitch variation to keep me from nodding off. Too soon to say how this will work out, but I am liking it so far.

My Ariann

C'est Finis

Mom Raglan Sweater

Just in time for the really crisp weather, the Raglan sweater I made for Mom is officially finished. Buttons bought, sewn on, fully blocked, ready for serious fall afternoon dog walking.

Here we are in the backyard reluctantly modeling the finished project. Despite this reluctance I am told this sweater will be used. Glad to hear that.

Mom Raglan Sweater

There were some modifications I had to make on the way to completion. I noticed some recent weight gain during one of the previous fittings. Weight gain is a happy outcome because she fretted for almost two years about how much weight loss had occurred. To the point that she had to take in many skirts and jackets. I said nothing, fearing serious misunderstanding (a frequent occurrence when becoming more mentally fragile) but decided to give the sweater some ease in the hips. That meant ripping about 7 inches back on the body and reknitting, adding a total of 16 stitches in the hip area. Do you see it?

Mom Raglan Sweater

I also made the sleeves a bit longer and with greater ease. She likes sleeves to cover her wrist bones hence the length. And fewer decreases as I worked down to accommodate wearing long sleeve turtlenecks underneath.

Mom Raglan Sweater
I am completely amazed how nicely this yarn eases and relaxes after a good bath. When the sweater finished blocking the fabric is even, the yarn feels nicely skooshy and it looks almost perfect. I am very pleased and will be interested to see how it wears - will it pill and fuzz, ultimately destined to look like shabby cheaply made garment from a big box store?

Mom Raglan Sweater

One note of caution - the yarn bled like a mo'fo' while soaking in COLD water! Next time it gets washed we will add a good dose of white vinegar. Anyone else seen this happen with Cascasde 220?

And yes, that's Lola's big beautiful Coonhound butt in the background. Eating dirt, a favorite (and seriously strange) pastime.

Mom Raglan Sweater

Here are the specs for this one now that we are finally finished!
Pattern: Adult Basic: Top-Down Raglan #60 by Gail Tanquary
Yarn: Cascade 220, Lake Chelan Heather Green, #9451; 5.5 skeins used (1210 yards)
Needles: Size 8 for the body, Size 6 for the ribbed edges
Buttons: 6 Brass buttons from M&J Trimming
Started: July 2007
Finished: October 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Serendipity after a Plan

Ella Rae Mustard

Sometimes serendipity steps in to help solve a minor crisis. You may recall my post about the sudden disappearance of the intended yarn for the Cabled Yoke Cardigan. I was in a bit of a snit over the whole thing and no sooner did I push the 'publish' button, the phone rang. Friend Robin calling to confirm weekend plans. I railed on and on about my little problem and she listened sympathetically the whole time. Then, without hesitation she says, "Wait, did you say Ella Rae?" "Yes, the Classic." "If I'm not mistaken, I think there's a whole wall of that yarn at Knit New York on 14th Street. In fact, I'm pretty sure they have it. Here's their phone number, why not call them?" "Wow, that's great, thanks!" As soon as we firmed up our plans I called the yarn store and within minutes I had 12 skeins of the yarn, and best of all, IN THE COLOR I WANTED!! Well DUH. All that Internet searching and it was in my own backyard. Jackass!

I was elated. I couldn't believe my luck. And I am so grateful for Robin's intervention. It was pure serendipity. Which always amazes me and I love it when it happens. I picked up the yarn on Monday evening and now I'm all set to start the project!

Since all the Ella Rae arrangements lined up before we trundled off to Rhinebeck, I was resolved in sticking to my original plan: sock yarn focus. Somewhat successful, I might add.

Rhinebeck Sock Yarns

I also had some minor detours, mostly to satisfy a colorwork craving. Most of these will be incorporated into small fair isle projects.

Yarn Pile (2)

And of course, the spindle and some roving to learn spinning.

Bosworth Midi in Bubinga wood

All that was just great and I was completely satisfied with the outcome. Really, who could ask for more?!

Then, on Friday a package arrived in the mail. MORE YARN! Remember that seller who originally had the intended color on their web site and who offered a replacement? Well, they sent me this:

Over Abundance

And it's really nice! While I have no clue what it will become, it will be something someday. The color is great and will work with so many project choices.

This will marinate in the stash for awhile though it feels a bit gluttonous at the moment. I mentioned once I'd never apologize about my stash and I'm sticking with that story. But there will be some belt tightening around here. And there's plenty to keep me amused for months. Ummm, weeks.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tangents and Connections

It really was a busy weekend in Rhinebeck.

Consider this: a farm on Martha's Vineyard has a CSA for fleece. How did I learn about this? Standing on line to get a beer during the Ravelry party! And fine beer, too - LOCAL - Keegan Ales in Kingston, NY a woman with a very pretty scarf tells me the yarn came from the Martha's Vineyard farm and then one thing led to know how it goes. It was a great chat. By the time we'd finished getting our drinks she had me hooked (pun intended?).

As soon as I got home, I launched my Internet and found my way to Martha's Vineyard. Truly one of my favorite places in this hemisphere, and lo! Release your inner shepherd! Participate in sheep farming not just vicariously but in reality! I fired off an email right away - immersion vacation! (And brilliant marketing on their part!!)

Yes, my friends, the wheels are definitely turning!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rhinebeck Roundup


There have been so many fantastic postings about last weekend's New York Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck NY by now I feel a bit redundant posting my own. It was a fantastic weekend. The weather was spectacular for a farm festival. The shopping opportunities were mind boggling. The color, the animals, the crowds, everything was just amazing in every way.

adorable alpaca

rhinebeck 061

I wanted to consider the reason the festival exists in the first place. In historic context, this is the place where sheep farmers, wool producers and knitters have the opportunity to gather and present fruits of their labor.

hope spinnery yarn

The festival is a place for farmers to show off their best sheep. Or llamas or alpacas. There is an actual auction! Animals get bought and sold. Knitters show off their skills and are judged for their efforts.


The festival is a place for the smaller local producers to show their product and sell to an appreciative audience. It gives them exposure. They can meet the public and they can converge to forge relationships with suppliers.

Local competitor

It's a place where people learn new skills. I spoke with the farmers about their work. I asked lots of questions. What it takes to raise and care for their animals. How big their farms are, what they eat, winter care, everything. What an education!

farmer gus


I spoke with spinners about fiber. The best kinds of fiber to use with a drop spindle, learning how to spin, the ins and outs of 'draft and stop'. All the various types of spindles. How weight affects the spin, how balance is so important, testing a spindle. Oh man, there is so much to learn.

hope spinnery roving

I talked with other knitters. I learned what they like to knit, what yarns they like, how many times they've been to Rhinebeck, what they love and what they do.


I met several famous knitters! But like a dope, I remembered to take one picture (after the fact) I was so starstruck!

mason-dixon knitters!

I found out that 2009 will be the United Nations Year of Natural Fibers. And the NYS&WF will have an extra day on the front end of the weekend, devoted to hosting fiber makers from around the world. Rhinebeck goes global!

All the conversations, all the information, all the newly acquired knowledge led me to really ponder what this is all about. I'm still processing it all, but here are some intial thoughts:

1. Everyone there -- the farmers, the producers, the sellers, the attendees, EVERYONE is passionate about this. It takes a tremendous passion to do it. It's such hard work and sometimes very disappointing, sometimes thrilling, but the only way it succeeds is with passion. I am in awe of it all and I share the passion.
2. It's a business. At the end of the day, it's a business. With tremendous potential to be very successful if done right. There are great opportunities and so many entry points. The entire production chain from the source to the end product has all these amazing offshoots for creative business opportunity. My mind reels with the potential.
3. Like so many other businesses, the Internet has completely changed the supply chain and opportunity to expand the marketplace. Ravelry is a revolution. The entire community in the supply chain is facilitated by this remarkable platform.
4. The environmental impact of shopping local cannot be ignored. It needs to be embraced! I made an effort this year to shop "local". My definition of local was mostly east coast (being from Brooklyn, I needed to expand the boundaries a bit). The yarns I bought this year were from farms in New York, Massachusetts and Virginia. The spinning mill was wind powered!!.
5. The handmade movement is tremendously appealing for similar environmental reasons. For me, the idea that one can purchase an entire fleece and process it from initial shearing to final product is a beautiful expression of a low carbon footprint. My contribution to this effort was to pick up a spindle and some roving. I'll learn how to spin my own yarn to make my projects. My friends Cathy and Sara each took it a step further, purchasing an entire lamb fleece!
6. The United Nations effort will bring a global awareness to the benefits of natural fibers. I only hope this means a general movement away from synthetics (petroleum based, my friends) to real. The implications are staggering - more natural fibers requires land, farms, livestock, farmers, spinning mills, distributors, manufacturers, vendors and customers. One can only hope all of this is done with an very scrupulous eye toward reducing carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. The potential is there and I sense a desire to do it. It will take a real commitment at all levels to make it so.

Which leads me to be very optimistic about the future of the fiber world even if I remain pessimistic about other things going on around us.

There's lots more photos of the weekend here.