This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stash Busting or. . . Bust!

Some time back I found some beautiful undyed black alpaca yarn in my stash. I thought it would make a beautiful scarf for the husband of a friend of mine. I don't know if he wears scarves, and I've never seen him in the other one I made for him, but I have made things for everyone in our little circle of friends now, and have not made anything else for him (of course, he has a wife who knits). I did not, however, have enough yarn to make the scarf I wanted to make. Serendipitously, there was a business card with the yarn, from the woman who owned the alpaca whence came the yarn. I called her and left a message, and she got back to me that she would look and see if she had anymore of that beautiful alpaca yarn.

I got a text from her today, she has another 250 yards (I only need about 120), and if there is extra, I'm sure I could eke out a hat. I love that she was able take the time to look for this yarn for me. The question remains, however, if I am busting my stash, and the first two skeins I have are stash, but the last skein is new, does this count as stash busting?

If I can score this yarn, it will become part of the Holiday Knitting Madness, and become one of the Irish Hiking Scarves I'm planning to make. Thus far:
Jayson: Tosh DK, fathom, knitted (stash yarn)
Brandon: Tosh DK, scarlet, on the needles, more than halfway completed
Peter: Malabrigo, red, yarn acquired
Julie: Handspun/hand-dyed, purple, yarn acquired
Michela: Tosh DK, Cousteau, stash yarn
John: Alpaca, black, half stash yarn, half to be acquired.

Can I get four-and-a-half Irish Hiking Scarves done in a month? I don't know, but I'm going to try. I'm only afraid I'll get terribly bored with the pattern after a while.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rhinebeck and Where I Am Now

I am a wicked blogger (and I mean that in its original sense, not its Boston sense). I was doing so well keeping up with getting my two entries a month. Ah, well. The well laid plans of mice an men oft gang awry.

My friend Jay mentioned to me the other day that he has found us a place to stay for Rhinebeck. We'll be staying with a friend of his and get to see the sheep and wool festival both Saturday and Sunday. This means we'll be able to see more demonstrations than we did the last time we went. Spinning, weaving, and maybe even dog trials! Wot larks! Of course I've started to put aside some money, just in case there is yarn for me to buy. Because yarn bought at sheep and wool festivals doesn't count when you're on a yarn diet.

The needles: What's on 'em? Well, I'm still working feverishly on Honey Cowl #4. And Irish Hiking Scarf #2. And the sweater. And the lace. And another scarf.

My plan of attack is thus:
August: Finish Honey Cowl #4.
September: Finish IHS #2, start IHSs #s 3, 4, 5, & 6.
October: Finish sweater (at home project), and make simple scarves 1 & 2 (knit night projects).
November: Finish Milanese Loop Cowls, or come up with other projects instead for those recipients.
December: Honey Cowls 5 & 6.
January: Drink heavily.

OK, I don't really drink all that much.

However, this is going to be a stash busting four months! IHSs 3-5 are all stash! Honey Cowls 5 & 6 are stash! The sweater yarn, purchased a year ago for this project might as well be considered stash, so the sweater is stash! Woohoo! I'm gonna bust that stash so much!

Well, not really. I'll barely make a dent.

Crap.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Mid Year (sort of) Review

Okay, so now that we've got a bit more than half the year behind us (149 days left til New Year's!), I thought I'd assess where I am in my goals for the year. I had said that I wanted to do four things this year:

  1. Write at least two blog posts per week
  2. Knit my stash
  3. Finish up some long UFO projects
  4. Not buy as much yarn
I think I have succeeded in two of these. I have been pretty good about writing twice each week. I've missed here and there, and when I was on vacation in May, I think I missed that week. But by and large, I've been pretty good about the writing thing.

I have been trying to knit my stash. Of the four honey cowls I've made so far, three of them were from stash yarn. The Irish Hiking Scarf in Tosh's fathom colourway was stash yarn. And several of the projects I've got planned for the rest of the year will be from stash yarn. 

I have not really done much work on UFOs. I did a couple at the beginning of the year, finished some old scarves and such, but the rest of the ones I wanted to work on have fallen to the wayside of holiday knitting. So both the blue and the brown sweaters are languishing in a bin. The two Milanese Loop cowls are sitting in bags next to my bed, imploring me to work on them. Maybe they will be my September project. Or not.

Buying yarn. I've actually curtailed my yarn buying, but not to the extent that I had hoped. I have not gone an entire month without buying yarn, but I will admit, in July I only bought the yarn from the farmer's market in Provincetown while I was on vacation. At least I think so. I didn't buy any yarn at the Cascade sale at the Stitch House, even though I wanted to. However, they have cotton on 40% sale this month, and I'm thinking of next year's holiday projects, and they involve a lot of cotton. I should probably stock up, since I don't keep a lot of cotton in my stash (for the simple reason that I don't like knitting with cotton).

So I'm at 50% of my stated goals. Getting those blog posts out, and knitting my stash. I need to start to curtail the yarn buying. People are talking about interventions, and I don't think they're joking any more. And I need to finish up some projects. I would like to finish my blue sweater. Maybe that will be my post holiday goal, since I'll have a week between Christmas and New Year's to work on it (all I need to do is pick up stitches to make the sleeves, and block it). I can make two sleeves in a week, can't I. Of course I can!

So for the rest of the year, I have to channel dear Princess Victoria, and swear that I Will Be Good and not buy (too much) more yarn.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fibre Festivals, Near and Far

I have discovered a new reason to despise Facebook: Fibre Festivals. Thanks to FB (and the fact that I liked a certain home-dyer's yarn page), I have been learning about more and more fibre festivals. Dammit! I'm supposed to be decreasing my stash, not going to Fibre Festivals and adding more yarn (and more bins of yarn) to my collection.

Bloody hell.

  • First we have the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival in May.
  • Then there's something I just found out about, the Fiber Revival Festival, in Newbury, MA, in August.
  • Of course there is New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, more commonly known as Rhinebeck. That is probably the Grand-Daddy of all fibre fests, certainly the largest of all the ones I've been to so far (not that I've been to all that many of them).
  • And there is the Fiber Festival of New England, in November, in West Springfield, MA. I learned about this one when I bought some yarn from a vendor at a farmer's market in Provincetown last week, innocently picking up the flier for it when I took her card.
I'm sure with my amazing Google-fu I could find more fibre festivals up and down the east coast (I know there is a biggie in Marlyland in May), or even just New England and New York. Hell, with this little website, Knitter's Journey, one can discover knitters' retreats, fibre festivals, knitters' cruises not only on the east coast, but all over the US and in other countries, too (knitting retreats in Ireland and France, the Woolfest in the United Kingdom, the Australian Sheep and Wool Fest in Victoria! Quick, check those frequent flier miles!).

I doubt very much I'll make it to the UK or Australia for the next sheep and wool festivals. But I think I'll at least make it to Rhinebeck this year.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Randomocity

Summer is a slow time, not a whole lot of knitting gets done, or so it feels. I've been working on the fourth Honey Cowl, and while I just added the second skein, I don't feel like I've made all that much progress. Maybe because I haven't done any knitting since Tuesday. Life has been busy, and I'm cat-sitting and she likes to play with my yarn. That's a major no-no.

Tonight is knit night, and I will have two projects with me, the Honey Cowl and the Irish Hiking Scarf. I think, whichever one I work on tonight, I shall put a stitch marker on the row sitting on the needles, and then count how many rows I finish tonight. Maybe that will give me some sense of accomplishment. Especially if I can see progress.

I was just looking at a flyer about the New England Fiber Festival, November 1 and 2, and I was thinking about going, asking friends to join me, and buying more yarn. Which is exactly what I don't need. More yarn. My goal next year is to knit at least one bin of my stash. Maybe all that gorgeous yarn I got on my Seattle trip last year, or maybe the gorgeous yarn I got at the NH Sheep and Wool Festival this year. Some wicked awesome yarns in both those bins! In any case, I need to check the vendor list for the festival, because I'm sure there are some I'd like to visit.

Two people have asked me to teach them how to knit. One wants to start next week, the other after Labor Day. I'm pretty excited about it, because it's always good to bring another person into the fold, create another devotee of yarn. I wonder what they will make?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Biltmore Wool Barn: Lovely Handspun Yarn

I was on vacation last week, at the tip of Cape Cod. This was not conducive to either knitting or blogging. I got only as far as I did on one project because I was hanging out with friends at their house on a rainy day, and everyone had their damn face in some hand held device or another. I do not own any such devices (I have a stupid phone, which is good for texting and calling, and that's about it; even its camera sucks.) And the nearest yarn store is about three towns away, and the nearest good yarn store is even further.

However, salvation comes in many forms. On the last day I was on vacation, there was a farmers' market, or an open air market (only a couple of the seven or so stands were selling vegetables). And one of them was selling yarn! The vendor was a woman sitting at her spinning wheel, carefully letting out her roving into a lovely handspun. She was surrounded by beautiful hanks of yarn, all handspun, all hand dyed. Who could resist?

Well, I certainly couldn't! I left with two gorgeous hanks of yarn, one a deep purple, the other a  variegated blue. Both hanks are 60% merino and 40% silk, and each is 500 yards. I admit I was only feeding my stash, but I was also supporting a local spinner/dyer/farmer (she has beasties!). And it's lovely yarn, a little uneven in the spinning (which I kind of like, because you can tell it isn't machine made), and just vibrant colours.

This yarn comes from Biltmore Wool Barn in Brewster, MA. There is no website, but there is an e-mail address: kammas@msn.com --I asked if she had a web presence, and she said she didn't because the yarn never showed its true colours on the screen. I know that even though I took the following pictures in sunny room, the purple looks bluer than it really is. We're talking rich, royal purple here, and it looks a bit washed out.
Royal Purple

Variegated Blue

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rainy Day Knitting

I've been on vacation this week, and haven't done a whole lot of knitting. But today was the rainy day of the week, and while tomorrow and the rest of the week promise to be sunny and warm, today was a day to spend in doors. I went to the house of some friends, and we sat around, eating, playing cards (well, only one hand was played, when I got 200 points and my opponent got 40 in a cut throat game of Rummy 500). Since everyone had their faces in their hand held devices (phones, iPads, whatevers), I cleverly brought my knitting with me. And I have to say, I got a fair amount of knitting done, almost completely done with the first skein of the fourth Honey Cowl.
There I am, knitting away at the House of Bear Cakes. I'm almost half way done on this project, and that makes me happy. This is pretty mindless knitting, no real counting or k2togs to keep you on your toes. So I was able to participate in the conversations flowing around me and get a whole heaping lot done on this cowl. Tomorrow is a busy day, and supposed to be a sunny one. I doubt I'll get as much done. But it's a good start to knitting on vacation.