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.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Very Much Belated Update

I never thought I'd say this, but it is too hot to knit. No, seriously. Yesterday it was 104 degrees F, and I have no idea what the heat index was, but the entire summer has been on simmer. And if it's too hot, I don't knit. And if I don't knit, I don't have anything to write about in this here blog thingy.

I have been working on a couple of projects, in a desultory sort of way. On Wednesdays, when I go to Miss Betty's for knit afternoon, I bring the shawl I'm working on. I'm on stripe number 20, and I reckon it will take a total of six skeins of yarn, three of each colour. It's probably two and a half feet long now, and it feels like it's taking forever. Which it is, because it's too damn hot to knit.
Good Karma Farm, Spruced Goose and Steel Grey

I picked up the bear hats in Mad Tosh I was working on. The pattern is Polar Bear Hats & Mittens, by Susan Flanders. Obviously, I'm making Grizzlies, rather than Polar Bears. Hadn't touched them in a while, and when I opened the bag, the scent of mordant was intoxicating. I love the smell of mordant, especially in the morning. I've worked quite diligently on this hat, but discovered my stitch count was off, then discovered I had dropped a stitch. I'm not sure what to do. Since it's stranded knitting, should I tink back all these rows to fix the mistake, or should I ladder down with a crochet hook and try to fix it that way? I've only just learned the laddering down thing (I know, shameful, especially since I've been knitting for over a decade), and I'm not sure how the stranding will affect the fix. On the other hand, the idea of tinking back this many rows has made me put the project aside, even though I'm quite keen on finishing it. I am on the horns of a dilemma, between a rock and a hard place, betwixt Scylla and Charybdis.
Madeline Tosh, Celadon and Whiskey Barrel.

I haven't touched the Death of the Moon in several weeks, mostly because I can't get enough light to work on the black yarn. Next time I think I want to make something with black yarn, would someone please slap me upside the head? Especially if it's on wee, tiny needles!
Baah! La Jolla, Black Pearl and Framboise

But enough angst. A friend posted a link on Facebook to pictures of Irish farmers with cute animals. One of the pictures shows a guy sitting in a field with sheep, knitting!
Because who doesn't want to sit in a field of sheep whilst knitting what looks like an Arran sweater. (Oh, did I mention that all the men are, um, shirtless? If you really want it, you can buy it here.)

So I have my work set, because I'm coming up with all sorts of projects I want to do, but because I want to finish these three, at least! then I'm not allowing myself to cast on another project. In the past, I'd just sweat it out, but even with air conditioning in the house, this heat is wearing me down. Perhaps I just need to tune into my local NPR station, get some bright lights, and knit, heat be damned!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Still Knitting!

Hello Blo-og my old friend
I've come to write in you again!

I have been knitting most doggedly, but have not much to show for it. A friend had asked me to make a hat for a charity auction, which I did. I made it out of Cascade 220, a wedgewood blue and a light foggy grey, striped. I never took a picture of it, but I know the person who got it was really happy to have won it at the auction. He came up and told me so, and I told him it was a hand wash only.

I've been working on the Paul Shawl, and even though I just finished the first ball of the spruce yarn, it doesn't look like it's gotten any bigger. But when I'm done posting, I shall go to the swift and winder and prepare the next two skeins, one in spruce and one in grey, since I'll probably run out of the second colour before too very long. Even though it is so beastly hot out (in the 90s, and the heat index makes it feel like anything between 101 and 106), I'm working on the heaviest project.

I haven't really touched the pink and black Death of the Moon, but it is there, and I am aware of it. I have lots of other projects going on that are quietly being ignored in the background. I have only one more row of purls to go, I think, and then it will be all garter for til I bind off. Need to get my arse in gear and get that done.

One of the things I'm trying to learn how to do is read while I'm knitting. So I work on the Paul Shawl and look at various blogs while I knit away. The shawl is mostly mindless knitting, and I have very little thinking to do except when I'm on the seed stitch sections, so I'm pretty much on auto pilot.

I haven't bought any new yarn since the fibre festival back in June. Alas. On the other hand, I have a metric shite tonne of yarn I need to use before I die, so there's that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

WIP Wednesday

It isn't that I've been neglecting my blog, but you know, I've been dealing with the aftermath of the shootings at Pulse in Orlando, the sadness, the rage, organising, and raising money for the survivors. I've been busy.

But I've also been knitting, and these are the things that have been keeping me busy. The first, a shawl for my friend Paul. Knit from Good Karma Farm yarn, I got the Spruced Goose (the bluish yarn) at the NHS&WF (May, 2015) and the Steel Grey at the Fiber Festival of New England (November, 2015). It's knitting up really nicely and after a few false starts, is coming along.

The other project on the needles is Death of the Moon (Josh Rykes) for Adrienne. In Baah La Jolla, Black Pearl and Pretty in Pink. It has a kind of 50's feel, and it reminds me of the pink and black Bridge Mix candies.
I know it's not for everyone, but I love black licorice!

This is what the shawl looks like so far. I've completed up to section 6 and have just started section 7. It's slow going because it's gotten too hot to knit outside, but I try to get a few rows in every day.

I love this pattern, and plan on making five or six more iterations of it before all is said and done. I have a couple hats on the needles that want attention, but I'm ignoring them (hands over ears, eyes shut, singing, "La, la, la, la, la!") I also promised a friend I'd make a hat for an auction he's holding for charity, so I need to root through my stash and find something that will work for that. I'm busy knitting, just not as prolifically as I'd like. And I'm sorry for neglecting my blog. I'll try to be a more faithful writer.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Magnolia State Fiber Festival

Who knew that there were fibre festivals in the south? Unfortunately, none of them is in Louisiana. But that's OK, because we drove three hours to Mississippi to attend one. The Magnolia State Fiber Festival was held in Vicksburg, and two knitting buddies (Jeanne and Claire) and I left at god-awful:45 AM this morning to attend. They each attended a different class, so we had to get there early before the first one started. No matter. We had a terrific time. It is, admittedly, a small festival, with no more than 40 or so vendors. And there were no live animals, but what it lacked in size, it more than made up for in enthusiasm. The vendors were really engaging, very friendly, and because it wasn't too crowded (there was always a constant flow of people, but not like other festivals I've attended), were able to sit and talk with one about their fibres, dying, preferred things to knit, and so on. I even made two Ravelry friends today! How cool is that?

Even though I was on a limited budget, I did manage to get some yarn. Like dear Queen Victoria when she was a mere slip of a princess, I was good*, Or maybe I was able to be good because there was no ATM at the festival (at least I didn't see one, or the hit to my wallet would have been greater!).

The Yarn!
From the delightful  Kimarie Hazekrigg of kimarie's knit knacks, She had some beautiful yarns, and I took home one skein of blue yarn (of course), and a packet of rainbow dyed merino.
 This is Texas Bluebonnet, and I am really going to enjoy knitting this up. It's a superwash merino.

I am thinking a hat for myself with the blue yarn, and a scarf or cowl with the rainbow. Perhaps with a wedge of black yarn between each colour. I need to get on Ravelry to find a pattern that works for me and for this amazing yarn. Kimarie is one of the people who friended me on Ravelry.

From Stacey Blanton of Brazen Stitchery, some yarns inspired by two of my favourite series.
This first, is a half skein, named Salazar Slytherin is my Homeboy. Fingering weight, merino and nylon, I'm thinking it would make a great hat. I've never made a hat with anything finer than DK, so this will be interesting. Stacey also friended me on Ravelry
There were yarns for Gryffindor and for Hufflepuff, but alas, the Ravenclaw did not come out quite the way she wanted. But I like green (once it was my favourite colour), and so I'm going to try with this to make a hat.
This is the Fires of Mordor. She had several LOTR referenced yarns, but this one spoke to me. I would like to pair it with a smoky grey, and make a Death of the Moon shawl with it. In real life it's more russet than orange, and this is the first time I shall knit with yarn that has sparkles.

From the stand of Bex Oliger of Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe, I got this amazing safron yarn. Merino, dyed by Th' Red Head Designs, it isn't quite as orange as the picture suggests.I might try to pair this with some yarns I got at the NHS&WF over the years, to make a shawl. I wonder who will get it?

As well as yarn, there was someone selling hand made soaps. From Shalene Weddle of My Heavenly Creations, I got some wonderful smelling Rosemary Mint soap. I cannot wait to take a shower with this!
I have seen soap sold at every fibre festival I've ever attended. This is the first time I've gotten any. This smells so wonderful! And soap making is something I'd like to try to do. I have a book. I have a recipe. What can stop me? Other than the need to buy about $75 worth of tools in order to make it.

From Gulf Coast Connection, June Pegram gifted me with a bit of lagniappe. After giving me some wonderful advice about pre-drafting roving, she gave me a wee bit of roving from the Gulf Coast Native Sheep, an endangered species which she is helping to conserve. Thank you so much, June!
Someday I'll be able to spin. Not today, perhaps, but someday.

There were yarns I wanted to buy, vendors who had some great things. Unfortunately, my wallet is not as deep as my desire for new yarn. I have added to my personal database of favourite indie yarn folk the following:
Knitting Rose Yarns, by Lise Wilson. Most of her yarns contain bison fleece, are so very soft, and look so very knittable. Yarns that I wanted to take home with me, which had no bison (surprisingly) were the blue and the black yarn on the right of the picture, So beautiful, so shimmery!

From Wool of Louisiana, by Kelli Caruth Miller, these lovely undyed yarns. Thankfully, these vendors sell their wares on-line. And we all know that I love receiving packages in the mail!

In all, it was a very enjoyable festival. I really liked the small size, because the chance to interact and really talk with the vendors was so easy. Sure, I've talked with vendors at larger festivals, and those discussions have been most enjoyable and informative. But they were almost always interrupted by someone who had a question about specific yarns, or wanted to buy something. Today, with the lower attendance, it was a much more relaxed pace, and I came away having learned new things, made new friends, and acquired more fibre. It was also a good chance to spend some time with Jeanne and Claire, who were funny, informative, and who kept me on my toes.

*The story goes that when Princess Victoria learned how close she was to the throne (she was the Heir Presumptive of her uncle, King William IV), she is reported to have said, "I will be good."

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Miscellaneous End of Month Catch-Up

I was having a text conversation with a friend the other day, and she had seen photos of my completed Death of the Moon shawl (pattern by Josh Rykes) and I offered to make one for her. We decided on a combination of purple and cream. I know I have purple fingering weight yarn in my stash. I might even have two skeins of it. But I am pretty sure I don't have a creamy colour (not really my palate). So I've been trying to find it on line. I've checked Webs (America's Yarn Store!), but they don't have it. And I checked Periwinkle Sheep, but I didn't see what I wanted (either in colour or fibre). I think when I get paid, I'll call Stitch House in Boston, since no one local carries either Periwinkle or Baah yarns, and see if they can mail me some. I think the colourway La Perla would do nicely. Now, I have to slog through 27 pages of my yarn catalogue to discover where the purple La Jolla is stashed.

After buying their gorgeous yarn for a few years, I finally cast on (after about 8 attempts) some yarn from Good Karma Farms. A blend of 60% wool with 40% alpaca, it's soft and knits up very nicely. I'm making a man shawl for a friend of mine who had a bout with cancer a few years ago. Since his treatments ended, he finds it difficult to get warm, so I'm making up some hats, the shawl, and if I have time, a scarf for him. Because yarn is love. I'm more than half way through the first skein.

Last year I made a cowl for my cousin Alexa in Malabrigo Mecha. She asked me to make one for her mother, my cousin Claudia (Alexa is my first cousin once removed, her dad is my first cousin, his wife, Claudia, is not a blood relation, but I consider her my cousin anyway). Using the colourways London Sky, Paysandu, and Polar Night I whipped up this cowl. Now that the summer is coming, I need to get it to her. My understanding is that it is in the 80s up in Boston.

I wound some yarn on the swift this morning, and explained to Brandon why we didn't knit from a hank, why a swift and winder were useful tools of the trade, and why I bought one (when I got serious about this hobby, I decided get the necessary tools). I'm ready to cast on a Death of the Moon in Pink Rose and Black Pearl Baah La Jolla. I can work on two projects at the same time!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Yarn Carnage, or, Stuff I Got At The Fair

So of course I bought some yarn while I was at the NHS&WF. That was the entire purpose for going! Well, and to see some much beloved friends. And to eat hot & sour soup at Mary Chung's (and at Mary's, forgot to order the soup, damn it!). And go to Knit Night. And to visit my old job. But mostly to buy yarn! Because we are Yarn Corsairs! I even wore my Jolly Roger boxers to the Fair!

Of course I visited all my favourites. From Mad Color Fibers I bought three items. First, yarn to make a Police Call Box (I can get the pattern from her website or FB page).
It also came with a very cool stitch marker, and I think I'll give this to my friend William.

She has also started a series of yarns that are named Godric, Salazar, Helga, and Rowena. I bought Salazar and Rowena. I'll get Godric and Helga in the fall (she had Helga, but I didn't have the money for all three). Interestingly, she uses the movie version of Ravenclaw's colours (silver and blue) as opposed to the book's version (bronze and blue). She has a yarn in bronze and blue called Allons'y, and I may get it and substitute it.
Salazar and Rowena
I'm going to use this to make a scarf for myself, I think. I am thinking of a 1x1 rib, in Salazar, Helga, Rowena, Godric order. Dunno. Suggestions are always welcome.

From Good Karma Farms I bought some bulky yarn to use with the skeins I got last year to make a shawl for a friend of mine who has undergone treatment for cancer, but cannot get warm.
I matched the dye lots as best I could. I had bright sunshine, but I think the bottom skein might be a different lot. Not that it matters, since I'm doing stripes that will encompass each skein one at a time.

This yarn is for me. I want a hat in Good Karma yarn. Maybe it will bring me good karma?

From Jan Marek Raczkowski, I bought a single skein of Blue Faced Leicester.
I am not sure what will happen with this skein. I've got 250 yards. I might add it to something and make a cowl. It's a lovely DK weight. I do wish he would set up a website.

From Sunrise Hill Farms (the one in Vermont, not Washington), I bought some undyed Shetland wool. This is soft and felt good. I might get a hat or a small cowl out of this.
I've really been getting into undyed yarns, oh, for the last three years or so. I've got quite a bit in my stash, but I've not knitted with them. I just like looking at them and imagining. Eventually, though, something must be done with them.

This yarn, from Blue By Ewe Farm, is also an undyed wool. A blend from Lady Lorelei, a Wensleydale and Guenevere, a Romneydale , it's heavy, soft, and wants so much to be knit up into something lovely. Maybe I'll call and order one more skein and make a cowl for myself.

I had hoped that A Hundred Ravens and Periwinkle would be at the festival, but alas! they were not. So I bought these minis at Stitch House. I am planning on making the Mighty Mini from A Hundred Ravens, one in the gradient purple (Hekate) and one in the gradient blue (Mermaid Tails). I need to get some black fingering weight yarn to complete the pattern, but I'm not in any hurry, since I've got so much else to knit!

For my dear friend Adrienne, who likes the colour pink, I bought these at Stitch House as well. I think a Death of the Moon shawl for her would look just awesome in these colours, Pretty in Pink and Black Pearl, La Jolla from Baah Yarn.
Tomorrow I shall buy some Chiagoo needles from Miss Betty and get it started. I could use my Knitter's Pride, which I love! but I don't think that the black yarn will read well on the green needles, and I have already detailed what a shitshow that was when I was knitting this pattern in Emerald Isle. I think this time around I'll make things easy for myself.

There were so many other yarns I wanted to buy, but didn't have the money. Next time, I'm going to specifically save for some yarn from Dirty Water Dyeworks, which has some of the most gorgeous yarns I've ever seen. I like to think I totally enabled Lisa to buy some of her yarns this trip!

Monday, May 16, 2016

New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival, 2016

This past weekend I traveled from New Orleans to Boston to attend the 40th New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. While I did many other things (visited my old knit-night group, went to a couple of favourite restaurants, saw many friends), this was my main reason for going.

Huw and Lisa and I arrived about 15 minutes after the festival opened on Saturday morning. First we watched a bit of the demonstration of the border collies herding the sheep.
The dogs waiting for a command from the shepherd. They were alert and ready for action.

The shepherd giving commands to the dogs, herding them into pens.
It was an interesting exercise, and we watched for about 10 or 15 minutes, but the yarn was calling us! We visited the usual suspects, Mad Color Fibers, Jan Marek Raczkowski, Dirty Water Dyeworks, and Good Karma Farms. At least one of our Triumvirate bought yarn at each of these vendors. One of the cool things is when vendors recognise you. Heather from Mad Color jumped up and gave me a hug, and Jan Marek shook my hand and gave me a huge smile. I was so happy to see these vendors and to be able to buy some of their gorgeous wares.
Jan Marek Raczkowski's yarns displayed at his stand. I bought some BFL.
Other vendors included Spring Pond Farm. I didn't get anything from her this year, but did in November. I took her card and when I have some more money, I shall order some of her yarns, especially the black undyed alpaca she has. And maybe some of this undyed cream, and make some black and white Fair Isle.

Of course there were beasties. Goats, and sheep, and alpacas.
Some Shetland Sheep.

Two newly shorn alpacas.
This is the first time I remember seeing lambs. This Clun Forest lamb is getting his dinner.
I always enjoy seeing the animals, and I always want to take them home with me. I reckon Huw's Landrover can fit a couple of alpacas. Oh, and watching them lie down from a standing position really brings home the fact that alpacas are camelids. They fall to their front knees, then lie down with their hind legs just like camels.

Of course I bought some yarn at the fair. This is it in aggregate. In another blog post, I'll talk about the yarns that I got, and why, and what I plan to do with them.
Some of this was purchased at the Stitch House, but all of it was acquired this weekend. And I know what is going to happen with at least 11 of these 14 items.

After all was said and done, we left the festival, after having been there for about five hours or more. We were tired. We were happy. We were laden down with yarn. I can't wait til next year!