Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lace Ribbons

This project may be at the top of my Super Satisfying Knits list. At least in the Scarf Department. So would that be, SSKL - SD? For once the scarf knitting did not wear me down 3/4 of the way through. This project hit all my sweet spots: color, yarn, fabric, pattern, enjoyment, recipient.

Mountain Colors - Copper - Sock Yarn

For one, the yarn is beyond fantastic. I found this gorgeous Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn, the last two two lonely skeins at Brooklyn General and pounced. Yes, I know I have a jumbo stash, but I didn't have THIS yarn. And THIS yarn was perfect perfect perfect for the project. Initially it was the color that grabbed me. Coppery brown, with subtle glints of gold, blue and lavender. It has depth and roundness.

The next thing that appealed to me was the smidge of Mohair in the yarn. Just enough to add wonderful drape to the fabric and give it a a soft cozy hand and a bit of a halo. Mmmm, this is nice stuff. It's sock yarn - warm socks for sure. Has anyone used this yarn for socks? I'd love to know how it holds up and whether your feet are impossibly hot?

Lace Ribbon Scarf

And then there is the pattern. Lace Ribbons by Veronique Avery has been in my Ravelry queue since forever. Occasionally reviewing the ever-expanding queue, I repeatedly landed on this scarf and thought "someday..." About time, I say.

My work friend L started reading my blog after I pinged the link to her one day after (dare I say, during?) a lengthy contract negotiation conference call. She was so complimentary and I was flattered. Yes, flattery does win points! We've stayed in touch long after the contract was signed...two years it took to close that one...gawd...and I'd promised to knit her a scarf one day.

Lace Ribbon Scarf

That day finally arrived and once I cast on, I could not stop! I found this pattern engaging enough to keep my interest all the way through yet easy enough that I could whip it out while on the commute and polish off a few rows between stops. Perfect commute knitting, and it was nice to work on something at a larger gauge than socks for a change! Unlike so many of my other projects, I stuck with this one for the entire time - usually I put one project down, start another, and well, you all know how that goes. Before you know it, there are five projects on the needles, all of them screaming for attention.

It helped that I was also listening to one of the best books I've 'read' in a long time, "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout. Oh, man what a wonderful book. The words! So so so good. This book won the Pulitzer, and unlike other awards granted this year, this one was deserved. As stated on the Pulitzer's web site, Olive Kitteridge is "a collection of 13 short stories set in small-town Maine that packs a cumulative emotional wallop, bound together by polished prose and by Olive, the title character, blunt, flawed and fascinating." If you have not read this one yet, run to your nearest bookstore to pick it up.

Lace Ribbon Scarf

Anyway, one Sunday a few weeks ago L and I had a lovely brunch in Greenwich Village and I gave her the scarf. Which she promptly put on her neck and did not take off the rest of the afternoon. We wandered around a bit after we ate and it was a fun afternoon - the weather was that perfect Fall in New York City and the streets were teeming with people, sun shining, lots of things to see.

Lace Ribbon Scarf

When L asked for a scarf she said she preferred neutrals. I gave this lots of thought and realized beige would NOT cut it. I am so glad I took the risk on the yarn. The pattern speaks for itself, I WILL knit this one again. For myself! And as you can see, L looks fantastic, the scarf is flattering, and I am so very pleased with the way it all turned out. Enjoy it, girlfriend!

Friday, October 30, 2009

On the Verge

A friend of mine just used a very interesting analogy about where I am right now.

Imagine a wolf in a trap and the wolf is chewing its leg off to get free. Eventually the wolf does free itself from the trap. It limps away but it does get free.

Oh yea. Still chewing...but about to break free.

Sorry. I know that's harsh. But some days it really does feel like this.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Yarnmaker Returns

Two new yarns, one pre-Rhinebeck and one post-Rhinebeck.

Jacob Roving

Jacob 2 ply

The first, a two-ply spun up woolen from Jacob Sheep roving purchased last May. My first attempt at a long draw. Needs work but I am quite pleased and even more intrigued. I definitely want to spin more rovings, using the long draw, making woolen spun yarns.

Jacob 2 ply 6

I think what I love the most about this yarn is it's not a bunch of colors - the natural colors of the sheep are quite pleasing. The yarn has a nice bounce; it's super lofty and squishy. And there's still some lanolin in there. Yea baby, I like the rustic and primitive!

SE 0809 Zombies

Zombies 1

Another exploration on 3 ply. This started as Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club, August 2009, named Zombies. It's Falkland one of my favorites to spin. I divided the top into three equal sections. The first ply was stripped in half and spun from the end. The second ply was divided into about 6 sections, broken by color group. The third ply was stripped into about 6 -8 thinner strips.

Zombies 5

It came out way better than I expected and I love love love this yarn. About 200 yds; squishy, bouncy and soft. I'd never have predicted the result when looking at the fiber.

Zombies 3

The Sky Bandit, She is Finished

Sky Bandit 5

Thank goodness.

In the last update you will recall I agonized over the size, proportions and color. Ach, not to worry, it's is all good. The color is fine, not baby. The proportions (six body repeats, one edge section) work fine and the size is good for a scarf/shawl/bandito-style neck warmer.

Sky Bandit 3

Sky Bandit 2

Thanks to all of you in the knitting blogworld who gave me the encouragement to continue on this project.

Not without some little ups and downs, mind you. You know how you're knitting along and you're seeing the yarn ball getting smaller and smaller and you're thinking 'oh NO! I'm running out of yarn! Knit faster!!" Yea. That works every time. There was a moment or two when I thought for sure I wouldn't have enough despite ripping back to six body repeats. Turns out my remainder is about the size of a small plum. As in, not much - note scale next to Eiffel Tower and Peggy's Cove Lighthouse.

small ball of yarn

There is a rhythm in this pattern that had me thinking of drives I used to take down into southern Lancaster County back in the day. I'd go for these drives on summer evenings and the hills would roll and roll and roll, then the road would straighten out and calm down for a bit. But before too long, there you are again rolling and rolling and rolling, up and down, twist and turn. So this pattern has these sections you're knitting along, stockinette,all easy and sort of lullaby. Then whoops! you got the YO, K2tog, YO, SKPSSO, whammo bammo combination, all rapid fire and rat-a-tat-tat, you know.

That's how the body section works up in this shawl. Then you get into the edge section and things are a bit more interesting. Hold on, things change up and there are mental adjustments to make! Pay attention! Before you know it, you're up to the last four rows. I don't know about all you other Bandit knitters, but I had to knit verrrry slowwww to avoid making mistakes.

Sky Bandit 4

All this edge of my seat nail biting excitement happened over two weeks ago now. I finally blocked it yesterday. As I was threading the shawl onto the blocking wires, I couldn't help but think how using these things is like putting lace into bondage. I mean, seriously, it's like beating the lace into submission or something.

Sky Bandit in bondage

Astute shawl knitters will note that the spine on this pattern does not act like other shawls as this one has an integrated leaf pattern rather than the straight line of YO, K1, YO as in most patterns. That little difference and the lack of points in the edge make this a unique, intriguing and thoroughly modern pattern. Now that it's finished, I have a mental note to try this one again, in a different yarn on a different gauge.

Sky Bandit 1

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cloud Nine

Somebody around here is walking around on Cloud Nine....rightfully so! Go buy the New York Times on Sunday and see for yourselves!

Monday, October 19, 2009

No Yarn for Me!

photo by Sara MacKenzie

Ah, Rhinebeck!! Annual pilgrimage to fiber Mecca. What a fun weekend!

The weather did not deter us one bit. In fact, it was far better than the dire predictions we heard the days leading up to the Great Friday Escape. I don't know if it was these same predictions that made the crowds feel just a bit thinner on Saturday, but on Sunday the light drizzle did keep shoppers at home.

My high point came at dinner on Friday night. A dinner dominated by hearty laughter, hilarious story telling, and good food. It's soul food, and it's been seriously lacking in my life this past year.

Earlier in the week I came to a major decision, one that will shape my actions in the next few months. That decision lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. New optimism and eagerness, gathering with friends who share a common passion. Oh yea. I've seriously missed laughter. What a year.


After a hearty breakfast on Saturday we were off to conquer the fleece!! Oh the fleece!! This year's highlight sheep breed, Leicester Longwool has a beautiful long curly fleece and I fell in love. The sheep are handsome, aren't they? They have an interesting history in America - these are the sheep George Washington and Thomas Jefferson imported from England. They are the sheep you see if you visit Colonial Williamsburg, and are considered a rare breed in America and England today.

I found the most adorable little fleece from a ewe lamb named Sarah, and decided this would be my first foray into processing fleece to yarn to shawl!! I am so psyched - tomorrow is Saturday and I'm ready to scour! It's lovely and I can't wait to show you the process.

We were lucky to get a quick demonstration on how to use combs to separate the long fibers from the short and now I am on a quest to find the perfect combs. This little fleece has a lovely luster and will work really well combed out.

I met a bunch of people (and forgot to photograph them, of course). I met sheep and goats (and did remember to photograph them!). I learned how to spin Cashmere which comes from stinky devilish goats like Duke, this handsome guy. He's gorgeous. Mmm, black cashmere.

Duke the Cashmere Goat

We ran into friends from last year and well, I might have been wearing a few handspun and handknited items on Saturday and got Busted! (scroll down, but don't forget to read the blog entry - it's super entertaining) by Ann and Kay. Ahem. It was cold, girlfriends! And of course, the Ravelry party. There's nothing better than the gourmet combination of beer and cupcakes when gathering with a bunch of yarn crazed knitters.

Bob Cupcake and Beer

The exhaustion got to us and we departed early but not before meeting some lovely knitters from Montreal and learning about the yarn stores in their hometown.

photos by Sara MacKenzie

Sunday morning four of us arrived to the Fairgrounds bright and early for a spinning workshop - we got to play with Cashmere, Camel, Yak and all manner of fine, downy fibers. It was challenging, and you can see I am perplexed by the long draw.

photo by Sara MacKenzie

Of course, we shopped. Some of us more than others. I'm looking at you, Sara! But seeing this haul it's hard to believe I bought not one skein of yarn! Fibers yes. Fleece, yes. Just no finished yarn!

bursting at the seams

I'll show you the stash as I spin it up. There's lots of fibery goodness in there.

Thanks to my good peeps for such a fun time. I can't wait to do it all over again next year.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Knit Quickie

Not alot of knitting nor spinning going on at the moment. It's weird. I am super excited about Rhinebeck, but I can't seem to get my ass to finish the bobbins I've loaded up, nor what's on the needles.

In an intense fit of organizing and cataloging, I finally got around to taking individual pictures of my obscene yarn stash and loading them up on Ravelry. It took hours. No wonder I've been putting it off. But now that I can SEE what I have, I am embarrassed. And it's making me think very hard about buying more yarn. Or not. There's enough there to keep me amused for awhile and I need to justify the splurges by actually doing something with it. Or sell it.

I needed a gift for a little after-work gathering this week and decided to knit up something fast and for once USE the yarn in my stash for Pete's sake! That's how this little scarf called Bainbridge came to be. Fellow New Yorker MintyFresh designed it as an adaptation of a friend's scarf, so named for the street in Philly where the friend picked it up. I had fun knitting this and might have finished it in about 3.5 hours. That's what I'm talking about!

Bainbridge Scarf

The yarn - Filatura di Crosa Zara - is a bit odd. While knitting, it felt a bit 'spongy'. Reading the ball band revealed it's a superwash yarn. After a short soak and blocking, the yarn relaxed completely. Do all superwash yarns do that? I'm glad it did, because I like the drape now.

The only modification I made was to cast on an extra 20 stitches, which meant I ran out of yarn while kitting up the ties. Ah well, it allowed me to dip into the stash for another color. Call it a design element. It makes for a sedate little neckwarmer.

Bainbridge Scarf

Which seems to align with how I am thinking and feeling at the moment. All serious and sedate. I just want a little more road in front of me so I can navigate the twists and turns. We'll see if that happens.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sheep in the City!

Park Avenue Sheep!!

Spotted on my way to an appointment this morning, grazing in the median on Park Avenue near 53rd Street.

And of course, Central Park has the Sheep Meadow...

So you see, New York City remains close to it's farm roots.