Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pins and needles

I'm on the Knitter's Review email list, so I read the review of the new KnitPicks needles this morning... and I think I'll be ordering some this evening. The North Sea Shawl has been languishing for a while, and while it's partially due to other-project-itis, it's largely because I'm frustrated with the needle options. I started with Addis, but the tips are too blunt for all the k2ts and such, and then I tried bamboo and plastic-coated greys, but they were too sticky for the rough Jamiesons wool that I'm using. So, a very pointy nickel-coated needle sounds like exactly what I need.

I'm hoping to take some project pictures after work today, since it's been far too long since I updated the sidebar... there's definitely progress to report!

In spinning news, I've been spinning the silk and it's wonderful, but my lovely wheel has to go to the shop this weekend. The point at which the footman attaches to the wheel is a little loose, so the footman slides back and forth on that hinge and clacks against the wheel with each turn. I really hope it's an easy repair - has anyone else had this happen?

Monday, June 26, 2006

The epic mode

Did someone say classical dactylic hexameter?

Browsing through
Wrap Style, I
spied a lace
poncho, and
loved it:

"I'll knit a
lace shawl to
wrap me in
kid mohair
blended with
silk thread,

Azure as
waters on
quiet shores,
lighter than
fair winds."

Brilliant, or
simply a
grand sort of
We'll see:

Alpine lace,
picot edge,
yarn over,
Throw me a

Then, on an
far above
Knitting while

I fear I've
lost a stitch.
Where? I have
no idea.
Beware the
frog pond!

Last night I
sat down and
gritted my
teeth, and I
ripped out the
whole thing.

Start afresh,
knitting with
First repeat

Nineteen more
pattern reps,
then pick up
two hundred
stitches and
knit up.

Epic! I
know this now.
Challenge me
with your lace -
Triumph will
be mine!

Who needs a
golden fleece?
I'm not an
Simply a

For more on this classic form, see this page.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Yet more spinning

As you can see, I've been spending a lot of time with the new wheel, and testing out the new fibers. Here you can see the alpaca and the silk. I've been following the silk-spinning instructions at Knittyspin and they're very helpful. After spinning merino, the length of silk fibers is a new and different experience... not to mention the way the pre-drafted fiber floats through the air and snags on anything in its path. I love the color, though, and the speed with which pre-drafted fiber flies onto the bobbin. I'm spinning it a bit thicker than usual so the smooth hand and reflective quality of the silk are very noticeable. The Knitty article also pointed me to Crown Mountain Farms, and I could stare at that color page all day.

Before I did all that, though, I needed to return the half-full bobbins that belonged to the borrowed wheel, so I finished spinning and plying 2 oz. of the purple merino/tussah, which turned into nearly 200 yards of mostly-fingering-weight yarn! (I think I need to buy a wpi gauge.) I have another 6 oz. of it waiting to be spun, and the store is ordering more and will hold it for me when it arrives, so I should eventually have enough for the shawl. I'm not sure if I mentioned that I ordered the pattern, and while I was at it I ordered this one too. Whether I'll be ambitious enough to spin the yarn for the Faroese shawl remains to be seen.

And because I don't have enough projects, I picked up a copy of Last Minute Knitted Gifts, so I can make myself an Hourglass Sweater. First, though, I have to finish the blue socks. Which are, once again, on the third iteration of the star toe. These socks have been a learning experience, and the lesson is to go back to knitting toe-up socks.

(By the way, we had some truly remarkable weather here yesterday - check out Anne's pictures!)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Wool Market, Part II

Now, I know it's the Estes Park Wool Market. But there are so many wonderful things that are not exactly wool! For example,

caramel alpaca from Paradise Valley Alpacas, 4.5 oz;

white llama from Red Barn Fiber Processing, 3 oz;

a llama cookie cutter;

burgundy silk hankies (ironwood/cochineal, 1.2 oz) and a spinning wheel basket from Stefania;

and finally, I did eventually buy some wool: three huge skeins of purple-blue Brooks Farm Duet, 50/50 wool/mohair. (If you look at the picture in their webpage banner, I think it's the one on the left edge; my photos aren't coming out well.) It is absolutely divine and I'm thinking of using it for the Hourglass Sweater (from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts) - a very simple pattern to show off the color variations and shine of the yarn.

I probably could have bought more, but I definitely have a decent stash of spinning fiber built up, and I want to start working my way through it. The only things that I'd considered buying but didn't were: a new niddy-noddy, I loved the birdseye maple ones that Stefania had but they were more than I wanted to spend; and sock yarn, which I completely failed to see except at the Shuttles booth, and I can get that any time. I don't know if I missed it because I'm so spinning-obsessed, or if it really wasn't there. Oh well, I know that Sue at Mew Mew's just ordered some new Trekking... and as for the niddy and more fiber, I'll have to wait for Taos.

I was sorry to miss the blogger meet-up, but I'm looking forward to reading about everyone's adventures, and I'm planning to be at Estes every year for the foreseeable future, so I'll see you all next year!

Wool Market, Part I

On Saturday morning, my mother and mother-in-law and I all piled into the car and drove to Estes Park, home of Rocky Mountain National Park, the hotel that inspired The Shining, a lot of beautiful scenery... oh, and the Estes Park Wool Market.

It's only about an hour's drive, and the drive is full of lovely mountain scenery. And there's even shopping along the way! Yes, we had to stop and pick up a little something for all the mountain men in our lives. We arrived around noon and stopped for fairly decent burritos at Cisco's (in Stanley Village) to fortify us for the afternoon, and then we made our way to the fairgrounds...

We met many friendly sheep, llamas, alpacas, goats, and bunnies. There was an entire barn full of llamas, and separate tents for the sheep, goats, and alpacas. I think the llamas take advantage of their height to look snooty, and they do it very well so that they're just charming.

This Jacob sheep had the most impressive set of horns I've ever seen. And that fleece! So thick and fluffy!

The alpaca tent was a dangerous place to be: it was full of adorable doe-eyed alpacas, and there was plenty of fiber for sale. Raw fiber, prepared roving, yarn, all in a range of natural colors. Needless to say, I succumbed... more on that later. I had no idea when I moved here that one advantage of living in the mountain West is the large number of alpaca/llama breeders in the area.

Now, my parents have been raising goats for my entire life, and I grew up bottle-feeding the kids, so I know from cute goats. These were fine specimens. The fiber goats are mostly much smaller than the dairy varieties, and look at that curly coat! They were also, as my mother commented, MUCH quieter than the sheep; the sheep tent was deafening with all the BAAing. I suspect it's because goats are smarter than sheep (most things are smarter than sheep) and aren't constantly being surprised and alarmed by their environment.

Since this post is already long and photo-heavy, I'll post the shopping report separately. (Also, I still have to take the pictures.)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Belated blogging

Sorry for the terrible tardiness in posting lately... my excuse is that Monday I was still exhausted and recovering from the trip (and a cold), Tuesday I picked up my wheel, Wednesday was Kate's going-away party, and Thursday was spent in cleaning the house before our mothers arrived on Friday. And of course we all know where the entire fiber-arts population of the western U.S. was today.

But before I get into all the fabulous purchases, I should catch up (and besides, I haven't taken pictures yet). I had a wonderful time at Reunion. Friday my plane was delayed (bad weather in Boston, what a shock) and so Chris picked me up and we had dinner at IHOP. Mmm, hash browns. I stayed on campus, and our class's dorm was the same one I lived in senior year, which was simultaneously lots of fun and kind of weird. Saturday was wet and gray and squishy, but the campus is beautiful in any weather, as you can see in this view from the beautiful new student center. The student center is, of course, home to the bookstore, where I bought way too many things that say "Wellesley College" on them and I still think I could have bought more.

On Saturday afternoon, soggy with rain and nostalgia, Chris and I left campus and drove over to Beth's house, where we chatted and knit and, of course, played with the Lendrum! Things seemed to be going more smoothly by the time we headed back to campus for our lobster dinner. (Yes, lobster. And mussels and chowder.)

Sunday turned out to be a lovely sunny day, perfect for the alumnae parade, which is the best part of reunion. It's hard to explain to anyone who didn't go to a women's college, but there's something really moving about seeing the class of 1936 in attendance, having a wonderful time and devoted to the college, and knowing that we're all part of the same community of brilliant women. It was wonderful.

After the parade we went to meet Beth again; we had lunch at the new incarnation of Pho Pasteur (I have a serious addiction to fresh spring rolls) and then we went on our yarn crawl. As you can see, we went to Woolcott, of course; the odd thing is that I didn't seem to buy any yarn. I bought some needles, Crystal Palace #1 bamboo circulars, which I'm sorry to report are utterly worthless and have a terrible, un-usable join. Hmph. Beth picked up some good yarn, though, and then we wandered over to Beadworks to satisfy Chris's craft-shopping needs. I bought some blue and purple beads for more beaded wristwarmers, which you can expect to see as soon as the weather cools off again. We hit up two more yarn stores, Spark Craft in Davis Square, which had a few nice yarns (Malabrigo) and lots of other craft supplies, and Circles in JP (see photo), which was really great and full of excellent rare yarns. I also failed to buy yarn at either of these, but it wasn't my fault; I almost bought some gorgeous dark-red Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool at Circles but she only had 2 skeins, which is not enough for a cardigan. I'll just have to order it later. It really was the best red yarn I've ever seen.

I had a turbulent but uneventful flight back to Colorado on Sunday night, and have plenty more to report, but this is getting long and it's past my bedtime. Stay tuned for much more spinning, the Estes report, progress on the blue sock, and lack of progress on my lace project!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

O Canada

Monday, June 12, 2006


I'm back from Reunion, which was wonderful, and I'm still working on the big post with pictures and stuff, but for now I just have to say: my spinning wheel is here! I got a message from Maggie at Shuttles and I'm going to pick it up tomorrow. I can't wait!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


It's been quiet here lately. O. returned from a week-long business trip on Sunday, and it's good to have him back. Now I'm off to my college reunion tomorrow; unfortunately it's supposed to be rainy, but I'm looking forward to seeing the campus, and going yarn-shopping with Beth.

I finished spinning and plying most of the dyed blue fleece from the last spinning class! It turned out amazingly well, I think, especially since I spun it just from the teased locks, without the benefit of any sort of carding or combing. I used it as an exercise in trying to spin a thicker yarn, since I have a habit of spinning thinner and thinner singles. The lack of carding meant that the colors held together, so there are bits of lavender, navy, bright blue, and dark blue all blended together. I love it. There's only about 85 yards, so I'm not sure what it will be - maybe a small scarf in a large gauge.

I'm working on the second sock, and have started spinning a second bobbin of the purple merino-silk. Unfortunately I have to return the wheel to the store next week, and mine hasn't arrived yet. Boo.

Some of my plantlets are flourishing: that's thyme, basil, parsley, some lettuce seeds I threw in just for filler, and most excitingly, three nasturtiums that sprouted from seed and are growing at about half an inch per day, as far as I can tell.

I probably won't have much time for blogging this weekend, but I'll be busy taking pictures, seeing old friends, shopping, and of course knitting - watch for updates next week!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

New yarn store!

There's a new yarn store in the neighborhood! It opened on Thursday, so of course I had to drive down to Louisville at the first opportunity to check it out. It's called Mew Mew's Yarn Shop... no prizes for guessing who it's named after. The owner, Sue, is a longtime knitter and yarn-store employee, striking out on her own, and she's done a nice job so far.

You can see a list of their stock on the website, but I took some pictures and notes as well. Seen here: lots of Misti Alpaca (bulky, worsted, and lace, be still my heart), and Crystal Palace Kid Mohair. Below that, the SOCK YARN. Now, I love Shuttles, but I'm sorry, they don't carry the best sock yarn. Now we have a new source for Trekking (yes!), Regia (many varieties), Wildfoote, and that Austermann stuff with aloe. She doesn't have the really great Trekking colors yet, but I suggested that maybe she should order some because everyone loves it. And yet more stuff that Shuttles doesn't carry: Rowan. Rowan tweed, to be precise, and there's also some Wool Cotton over in the corner. And on the bottom shelf, that's Regia Nation! I was sorely tempted to make some French or Italian socks, but I restrained myself. Well, sort of.

A few things did have to come home with me: Gray Regia Silk, which I've been wanting to try; it feels fantastic and is going to make some beautiful lacy patterned socks, and Regia #5440. Isn't it fabulous? I found this picture showing how it knits up and I can't wait to start working on it. But I am virtuous and will knit the other blue sock first!

In summary: nice little store, carries stuff we can't get elsewhere, friendly owner, friendly cat who likes attention, and best of all, it's open on Sunday afternoons. Hooray!


First, an announcement: CONGRATULATIONS to Erica, who is getting married today!

And now, we have: one sock, finished!

Yes, it's rather different from the pattern: 12 rounds of ribbing instead of 18, four extra purl stitches to make up for knitting it all on #1s rather than 2s (except for the cuff), one fewer pattern repeat in the leg, one-half fewer repeats in the foot, and a slip-stitch heel. Whew. But now the ends are all woven in and it fits nicely, so I can cast on for the second just as soon as I go buy more reinforcing thread. (I suppose I should change out of my pajamas first.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I knit an entire star toe, very nice, and just before I cut the yarn I tried it on just in case... and it was too short. So I ripped it back and am adding five rows of plain stockinette before I start the toe. Tomorrow, perhaps, it will be finished, and meanwhile I have the Misses Bennet to entertain me.