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.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Into Each Life. . .

. . . some rain must fall. Last night my computer crashed. Big time. I got the dreaded Blue Screen Of Death and a black screen thereafter. I kept it open all night, and there was a little note at the bottom of the screen telling me that the computer was trying to repair itself and that it would take more than an hour.

This is a disaster for several reasons, the most pertinent here that the catalogue of my yarn stash was on my desktop, and not backed up (because it was a working document, added to each day). I've done almost everything that I can do with my computer, save one, the course of action I call The Nuclear Option. The one I haven't tried yet says Reset your PC or see advanced options. I used this option once before on this particular computer. It set my computer back to factory newness. No Word program, all my pictures disappeared, anything that wasn't backed up on a flash stick gone. Forever. I do not want to lose any pictures that might be on my drive, and I certainly don't want to lose my catalogue. I've done 11 of 25+ boxes, and certainly don't want to do them all again. That way lies madness.

But catalogue them again I shall if I must. I really need to get a handle on what yarns I own, what colours I keep (mostly blue) and what I can make for people now that I'm living in the south, where the temperatures in January hover between 55 and 70 degrees. Wool is not so necessary here as it was back in New England. I've also discovered bags with enough yarn of the same dye lot to make sweaters, since I can think of no other reason for having 15 skeins of the same dye lot. Though I hardly need sweaters down here. I suppose I could make a list of everyone I know and make hats and scarves with all the one and two skein yarns I've got. And there are some special projects for which I've bought yarn but never started, like the 2 skeins of Gilded and the 2 skeins of Fathom Madeline Tosh Pashmina, with which I'd like to make a double sided scarf with a fleur-de-lys design. I should get started on that. But, without the damn catalogue, I don't actually remember which bins contain that yarn. So if I decide to go with The Nuclear Option, I'll be starting from scratch.

The one good thing from which I can take comfort is that my file of patterns, acquired over the years, mostly from Ravelry, are in a folder on my Google Drive. Those, at least, are still accessible.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again

The cataloguing of the yarn continues. Eight bins have been done, and two more will be added tomorrow. I'm actually enjoying this process. Every other time I've tried to catalogue my yarn, I collapsed in a sodden heap of ennui. But I'm chugging along, and I'm discovering yarns I'd forgotten I'd owned. Some really pretty ones, too. I guess I don't need to buy more yarn for a while. At least until the next Sheep and Wool festival I can go to.

Today I went to Bornside Yarns and joined the knitting group. It was mostly ladies of a certain age, and two other men. Very cozy. I started knitting again today after a six week hiatus. I found a hat in Cestari wool that I started, probably in 2009. I was a few rows away from beginning the decreases, so I brought it along and got it to the point where it's now on DPNs. Interestingly, while there, Miss Bette showed us some colour sample cards from a rep she'd just met recently, and they were from Cestari Farms. I passed my hat around so people could get a feel for it. It's a pretty rough yarn, probably better for sweaters than hats, but I was informed upon purchasing it (way back when Lucy still owned Mind's Eye Yarns) that it would soften up upon washing. So it was serendipitous that I found it whilst cataloguing.

While walking to dinner with Brandon tonight, I mentioned that if I can afford it, I'd like to do a quick weekend whirlwind trip to Boston for Mother's Day weekend, to attend the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. He has this insane idea that if I bring new yarn into the house, then he can bring lots of bacon into the kitchen, the kitchen which I would like to keep kosher (don't ask, no, I'm not Jewish, I'm Jew-ish). I immediately informed him that any yarns purchased while on holiday don't count toward one's yarn stash, because it's vacation yarn, a memento of your trip. Some people buy t-shirts, some people buy key chains, and some people buy yarn. Everyone knows that vacation yarn doesn't count as part of one's stash, but I had the hardest time convincing him about that. I'm not sure I have yet, but I shall. Because we all know that it is a fact of life (a "thing" as some friends would put it) that yarns purchased on vacation are not counted as part of the stash, and even people on yarn diets have dispensation to buy yarn on vacation.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cataloguing My Stash

Well, here it is, the nineteenth instance of January, and I still haven't knit a stitch. Bad knitter! No doughnut new yarn! What I've been doing, instead, is cataloguing my yarn collection. I have over 25 bins of yarn, and have always been daunted by how much cataloguing that would take. But I need to do it, because I have absolutely no idea what I have in my stash. So I created a spread sheet, and I got to it with avengeance yesterday. I've catalogued three bins so far, with a plan to do a bin a day! My spread sheet headings are as follows:
Brand. . .Colourway. . .Actual Colour. . .Fibre. . .Weight. . .Skeins. . .Yards. . .Notes

I included Actual Colour because some of the Madeline Tosh colour designations, while creative, bear no relation to what they actually are. Witness Optic (white with black spots), Manor (green), Moorland (mossy green). The Neighborhood Fiber colour designations, named after neighbourhoods in the DC area are also unrevealing: Fells Point (emerald green), Georgetown (cobalt blue), or Truxten Circle (deep purple). While I love the Neighborhood yarns, I think these designations are even worse, because at least some of the Tosh designations give you an idea (Betty Draper's Blues, or Fluoro Pink). This means that I have to catalogue in a room where there is a good source of natural light, which is not easy to find in our house. Shotgun houses have windows on only one side because there is another domicile against your windowless wall. Of course, the houses are so close together that we keep the blinds closed all the time, so really, the only place where I have good natural light is the kitchen, where the internet doesn't reach, or the living room. I'm sure I'll manage.

I have long thought about cataloguing my collection, but was always put off by its shear size. It's only gotten larger since that first inkling that perhaps I needed to get my act together. So I've taken my own advice from my tutoring days: A thesis is a collection of related papers, each chapter representing a paper. If you can write a ten page paper, then you can write a five chapter thesis. So, my thinking goes, instead of looking at 15+ bins of yarn and thinking, "ONOES! I can't do this! It's too much yarn!" I am instead thinking, while I'm unemployed, I can do at least one bin a day, perhaps two. So I did three the first day, and when I get home from the library this afternoon, I'll do another one or two (because there are other chores like laundry that need to be done). So far, in the first three bins, I have a total of 193 skeins of yarn. I think the extent of my stash is going to surprise me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

From Boston to New Orleans

It is hard to write a knitting blog when one isn't actually knitting. The day after Christmas I packed a van, and the following day, along with two friends, left Boston to move to New Orleans. My friends have since returned home, and I am struggling (still!) to unpack everything I owned, most of which had been in a storage unit for four years. It is sort of like Christmas morning, as I have no idea what is packed away in each box. I own a lot of pottery, and it's good to be reunited with it, though some of it is going back into its wrappings, because honestly, what was I thinking when I bought the eighth pitcher? Sure, they're all beautiful, but I don't need that many hand thrown pitchers.

Knitting. I haven't picked up the needles in about two months,  now. I am only now beginning to feel the urge to knit again. I had stopped before the holidays because I was so tense from the impending move that I feared it would affect my tension. But now I'm in my new home, and while there is certainly a lot more unpacking that needs to be done, some of it has to wait until I can acquire a new bookcase. I own a lot of books, too. Along with Christmas ornaments. Really, I have to stop buying these things, or at least get a library card. Yarn isn't the only thing in which I indulge.

One of the nice things about living in this particular apartment, located in the Fabourg Marigny, is that I am only a very short block from Bornside Yarns. I've stopped in and visited (though I didn't buy, because I am short on funds and I realised, after moving it, just how much 30 or so bins of yarn really is). I don't think I need to buy yarn for a while, and Brandon has threatened to bring a rasher of bacon into the house for every skein of yarn I buy. I shudder to think what a sweater's worth of yarn would do, since this is a major threat to every kosher vegetarian. Still, it might be nice to knit my stash, rather than just add to it. And I do have a good collection of Madeline Tosh, which I can't buy down here, since no one carries it. Thank the knitting gods for Webs!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Not in My Life

The preparations for the big move to New Orleans procede apace, and I am aware that money is really tight right now. Sure I saved up some money, but things like this always cost more than one ever anticipates. I was discussing this with a friend, and she suggested that I sell some of my yarn.

Let me repeat that: She said, "Sell some of your yarn on Etsy or E-bay."

That would be like selling my sister into whoredom. It won't happen. Ever. On really intense days, the yarn is my Precious.

Ash nazg gimbatul, Ash nazg thrakatuluk, Agh burzum-ishi krimpatul

I would be quite willing to fall into Mount Doom to protect it. Seriously. I've spent a long time amassing my yarn stash. I plan on knitting all of it before I die. I think when I do, I'll become a Buddha.
I've invested a lot of time and energy into my stash. Thirty bins, that's quite a bit for only 11 years of knittery. I sometimes have no idea what I'm going to do with it all, and other times I know what I want to do with every single skein, hank, and ball. There are bags in there of matching skeins to make sweaters (like I'll need them in Louisiana), hats, scarves, lace projects (which are a bit beyond me because I'm not as much of a hotshot knitter as I pretend to be). Sometimes I've bought yarn because the colour appealed to me, or the fibre, or because I was in a strange town and wanted to buy some yarn to remember it by. Or the wonderful skeins I bought on my last trip to the Pacific Northwest in 2013. I got some good stuff on that trip, and I've even knit some of it up!

But selling my yarn is not in the picture right now. I want to shop my stash while I'm living in New Orleans, especially since neither of the local stores carry Tosh, or Shibui, or Baah. And I know I have those in my stash, and will be able to knit some of them while I'm down south. Or I can always contact my Boston knitters to get me what I need!

Saturday, December 12, 2015


I have been neglecting my knitting.
I have been neglecting my blog.
I have been neglecting my yarn stash.
I have been neglecting my yarn stores.

In two weeks I will be moving to New Orleans. I'm packed, ready to go. I need to wash the sheets and a few sundries, but I could actually load the truck today and leave. Except for the part about not being able to afford the truck til I get my last two paycheques. "It's the little things that get you when you're not paying attention" (credit: Jim Infantino and Jim's Big Ego).

I actually have not knit a stitch in 15 days (as of this writing). Not even at knit-night, which I attended last night. I got there a bit late, but never actually pulled my knitting from my backpack. I'm not sure what's going on. Maybe because where I'm staying I have internet, something I haven't had for the last four-and-a-half years. Maybe it's because my clock radio is packed and I can't listen to NPR while I've got the needles in my hands. Maybe the constant tension headache has me realising that my tension will be affected (see what I did there?).

I am feeling conflicting emotions (does anyone remember that song by Split Enz?). I am excited and happy because Brandon and I will finally be together, in the same state, the same city, the same house. I feel like I might be establishing a home, for the first time in, well, more years than I care to think about. We have a wicked pissah apartment (it's only a block from Bornside Yarns!), with two bedrooms (we can have guests!), with a washer and dryer (no more hunting for quarters!), and a dishwasher (no more dishpan hands!). We're talking about getting a cat (me! a cat! whodathunkit?). My friend Rachael is having a really hard time wrapping her mind around the idea that I want a cat. I'm happy and I feel like dancing. Hell, I even have my own version of a happy dance. I do it every now and then when I think about our life together in New Orleans, a town I've almost moved to several times over the last 20 years (but never did, because of commitments back in Boston).

I'm also feeling rather blue. And not Betty Draper's. I'm leaving a city that has been my home for five decades. I'm leaving behind friends, colleagues, and people I love with an intensity so fierce that it sometimes hurts. I realised that I am leaving the city I love to be with the man I love. And I am beginning to understand the dilemma of the Little Mermaid (the Hans Christian Anderson original, not that travesty by Disney). Nothing worth having is without a price. I can have my much loved home town. I can have my beloved companion. I cannot have both. I've waited a long time for someone like Brandon to come into my life. I've made my choice, I'm making my peace with it. I remind myself that Helen Keller once said, "Life is a daring adventure, or it is nothing."

But my knitting lies neglected. Not forgotten, no, because I carry two projects in my backpack all the time. There's even a box of stuff labeled, Current Projects. It's a lie. I opened it, hoping to find some current projects, and there was nothing in it that I have actually worked on in over a year. Some UFOs, sure, but nothing that could with any honesty be called "current". What the hell was I thinking?

My knitting lies neglected, and I don't have the energy to pick it up and work on it. Maybe I'll feel better if I pick it up. Maybe I don't want to. Feel better, I mean. Maybe I need to feel the sadness that comes from contemplating a 1400 mile move, to a new state, a new city, a new home. And when I get on the road, I can shake these blues, maybe leave them behind. I'll pick up needles and yarn, and knit withe passion and fervor.

For now, though, my knitting lies neglected.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fiber Festival of New England

This past weekend my long time friend Lisa and I trekked out to Springfield, MA for the Fiber Festival of New England. I'd never been (last year I had a commitment that weekend), and I must say, we had a terrific time. One of the best things about living in the Northeast is that we have a regular diet of sheep and wool festivals. I'd been told that this particular S&WF was small, and perhaps not worth the visit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Unlike the New Hampshire S&WF and Rhinebeck, this was held indoors. At the same venue where our Great Commonwealth holds the Big E (more or less a state fair) in early fall, this occupied one building on the fairgrounds. A big building. Huge. Ginourmous. Wicked big. And a good thing, too, since there were hundreds of yarn vendors, fibre animals galore, spinners, weavers, demonstrations, and food that was, well, not to put too fine a point on it, vomitrocious. But other than that, it was an excellent day of yarn, alpacas, sheep, and bunnies. And hats.

Lisa modelling a felted hat with needle-felted bunny,
by Laurel Ledge Farm Fibers. Alas, she did not buy it.
There were alpacas galore, lots of angora bunnies, a few sheep, and only one llama. Well, three llamas, a mother and two juveniles, one of which insisted on nursing, even though it looked quite past the age for nursing. But what do I know from llamas?
A llama Mama, with her babies. Love her noble Roman nose!

This wee sheep we saw was a mixed breed of Soay and something else.
I wish I'd thought to photograph the sign.
I still think my favourites are the alpacas, though. They have such pretty faces, more cute and cuddly than llamas. Apparently, they're more agreeable than llamas, too.
Recently sheared alpacas. I love that there are all sorts of colours in this herd.
And we saw a demonstration of shearing an angora bunny. Apparently, most angoras shed their fur, which is combed on a regular basis. But German Angoras need to be clipped.
While it is standard to shear bunnies every 90 days, this bunny, shaved a few weeks ago, was sheared
as a demonstration. The fur is too short to spin, so it will be used for felting.
The pink thing in the left foreground is a jacket for the bunny to wear after shearing.
After wandering through the beasties, and not buying any yarn (so difficult, because it was so beautiful!), we wandered through the bags of fleeces for sale. Since neither one of us can spin, we didn't buy one, but so many of them were so pretty, and it was really cool to feel the difference between sheep's wool, mohair from goats, and the very soft hair from alpacas.
Giant bag o' fleece!
We finally made it to the big room where the yarn was being kept! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! It was divided into two sections, East and West, and I'll keep you from guessing: we never really explored the west side of the room, since we were exhausted by the time we finished the east side, and we were both plum out of cash at that point. And hungry. Let's face it, the food just sucked. But before we motored to Northampton for a delicious repast, we visited a bunch of yarn vendors!

The yarns of the Jan Marek Raczkowski Studio. Alas, still no website.

I love the yarns of A Hundred Ravens. I didn't buy anything this time around,
but took pictures of some of their colourways for a future project.
I spent a good long time speaking with the dyer, and as soon as I can afford it,
I shall buy some of their gorgeous yarns.
The Periwinkle Sheep had some absolutely wonderful yarns,
saturated colours, and made me part with some of my cash.
Periwinkle had on display this shawl, which caught my fancy, so I got yarns to make it.
This is Death of the Moon, by Josh Ryks. It can be bought on Ravelry.
I shall buy it and make it for someone for next Christmas. 
The other thing of note we saw while at the FFofNE was a sheep shearing demonstration. I'd seen one a couple years ago, but it's always interesting to see one again.

It was very cool to watch while the sheep was sheared. He actually almost never moved his legs, but rotated the sheep around while he sheared it.

I had such a terrific time at the Fiber Festival, and only bought seven skeins of yarn, a subject for another post.