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.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Knitting for Yoolis

I have been trying like mad to get all my holiday knitting done in time. Yeah, yeah, it's still October. But it's the end of October! Only six more weeks of knitting and the holidays will be upon us! ONOES!

*runs around in a panic, arms flailing*

Yeah, so I'm knitting at a relentless pace. Got one hat done. On the needles are a shawl and a scarf. The shawl, well, I've completed five iterations of the pattern. Four, or maybe five, more to go. The scarf? Well, let's just say that I'm not even half way through the first skein yet. And the last scarf I'll be making? I've got the yarn. I've got a pattern. Now I need to find time to start it. Of course, I need to finish the shawl (116 stitches per row, 32 rows per iteration). *pant, pant* I'm knitting as fast as I can! Why, yes, as a matter of fact I do wake up at 5:00 am in order to get more knitting in.

Then there's the stuff for the Reunion '11. One scarf is done. Eleven more projects to go. Yeah, right. I'll get it all done. Really. No, really! At this point I'm not even certain what I'm making for two of the people. I'm going to try to make things from my stash, but I might have to go out and get *insert trumpet of doom* more yarn! ONOES!!! Seriously, what man wouldn't want an alpaca shawl? And what do you knit for the man for whom you have already made that alpaca shawl? As well as a couple of hats and a scarf? How many scarves does a man need, before his neck can be warm? Oh dear, I'm channelling Dylan there.

That's it. After the hols and Reunion '11, I'm working on things for my own damn self. I've got half a dozen sweaters on the needles. I'd like to finish at least one of them before spring!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rhinebeck: Part the Second

One of the things I wanted to do at Rhinebeck was buy yarn. I am a yarn whore. I admit it. I own it. I put it out there. So I went with the idea of buying stuff that I couldn't find easily at home, in my local yarn stores. I didn't bring all that much money, and since one cannot bring food into the fair grounds, some of that money was wasted (wasted, I tell you! wasted!) on food and drink. However, here is some of the stuff I was able to buy.

I wanted to bring an alpaca home with me. Truly, I did. But that, of course, cannot be. So I bought this little knitted finger puppet of an alpaca. Or a llama. It will have to do.

Pure alpaca yarn (almost as good as an alpaca!). I want to make a fair isle hat for myself in these colours, dark chocolate and white choclate. Yum!

Yes, more alpaca! This will become a hat for a friend, a fair isle hat in three colours. I think I'll have enough to get two hats out of this, with some careful planning.

This is a mix of merino, angora and silk. It absolutely shines in the sunlight. I already know I want to make a shawl with this, but now I'm hunting for a pattern.

Merino and angora. This is a gorgeous blue. I also got one of these in purple, but it didn't photograph very well (the colour looks more blue, and doesn't reflect the rich amethyst tones of the yarn).

This is pure merino, I think (the yarns are not with me where I'm blogging). I love this type of yarn, and look forward to making something nice for myself with it.

I also bought a drop spindle. My friend Jay knows the maker, and tested it for me, pronouncing it a well balanced spindle. Please note the fleur-de-lys design on it. I love the fleur-de-lys, so this makes me very happy. I had my first spinning lesson today, about which I shall blog later.

So this is some of the loot I got at Rhinebeck. I'm looking forward to making stuff with this yarn.

I only saw one person I know whilst there, but there's always next year. I had a terrific time, and plan on being there again next year. Only this time, I'll start saving up for it sooner, much, much sooner. Like this week.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival: Part the First

Yesterday my friend Jay and I trekked from Boston to Rhinebeck to experience the Sheep and Wool Festival. It was the first time for both of us. Jay has been involved in fibre arts (knitting, weaving, spinning, dying, etc.) for a long time. Not realising just how big this was, we left at 7:30 am, made good time, and then spent just over an hour going the last 1.25 miles. Sheesh.

But it was worth it! Man oh man oh man! was it worth it! We had decided early on that we wouldn't buy any alpacas (or sheep or goats), even though the Land Rover was big enough for one or two (though not big enough for a llama). Okay, we didn't have enough money to bring home any livestock, but the Souay sheep, the Icelandic sheep, and the Welsh Black Sheep all caught my fancy. I would have been happy to take any of them home. Of course, I live in a third floor walk up flat, have no yard, and have no knowledge of what it takes to be a shepherd (um, grass? shelter? I dunno), but still, I wanted to take them all home with me.

And there was yarn. Lots of yarn. I must admit, I bought a lot of it, and there was more that caught my fancy. I tried to stick with yarns I can't find at any of the yarn stores in my area, things I'd never seen before, or yarns from farms that usually only sell directly, or at festivals. I collected a fair number of cards from various yarn sites and will be organising a shopping tour via the internet at some point in the not-too-distant future.

So a couple of things we learned from our first time at Rhinebeck:
  • Leave earlier if going on the first day of the festival. We got there at noon, they close at 5:00, and there was still much left to explore, booths unvisited, yarns unbought.
  • Get there the night before. The gates open at 10:00, and it would have been better to have had more time there. 
  • Bring more money. I will need to save up for more stuff next year, especially if my goal is to get products that are not available locally, yarns or roving (first spinning lesson later this week, but that's fodder for another post) or even fleeces.
  • Book a hotel and stay for the second day. One cannot truly see it all in one day. I am not so much interested in the livestock shows, since I'm not really in the market for livestock, but there were many more booths I'd've visited if I'd had the time.
  • Bring more money.
  • Hydrate. I didn't drink enough water.
That all said, I had a terrific time. Jay was fun to hang around, and when we were visiting the sheep in their pens, he was really informative about the fibre that each animal provided, how well it spun, if it felted, what it would be good to mix it with, and so on. He really made my experience at the festival better by a hundred fold. His advice about yarns and what colours go well together (I'm good at that, he's better) was indespensible. He's funny, smart, and has an English accent that is to die. And is an excellent traveling companion. Every time he asked, while pondering a hank of yarn, "Do I need more sock yarn?" I would enthusiastically answer, "Yes!" Because I know one can never have too much yarn, sock or otherwise. But he wisely refrained from buying too much. So did I, but I did come home with a lovely stash. I will post pictures about the stash later, today I want to post pictures of all the cool beasties we saw.

Near the entrance to the festival, there were some animals for feeding, and this kangaroo, carrying a joey in her pouch. I wonder what kind of fleece one can get from a kangaroo, and how spinable it is?

Some alpacas. One can really see their relation to camels here. The alpacas are small, very soft, and have beautiful eyes.

Llamas! I llove how their ears llook llike horns.

Love her hair!

 Cashmere on the hoof! I didn't buy much cashmere yarn this weekend, but I thought these goats were so cute.

These two pictures are of Souay sheep, one of the oldest breeds in Europe. They were left in the islands north of Scotland by Norsemen (remember, "viking" is a verb) and were basically a larder. They were left to breed wildly, and this is probably what sheep looked like in Europe 3000 years ago, at least according to the shepherd. They were very gentle, came up to us, and were friendly. This particular breed of sheep is not shorn, but rather combed for its fleece.

These two pictures are of Black Welsh Mountain Sheep. While their fleece looks dark brown in the pictures, it is actually black after the dust and dirt is washed from it. These guys were among my favourites.

One of the Icelandic sheep. These guys were not interested in coming towards the crowd. But they are the providers of a yarn I love, so I thought to include them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Holiday Knitting

This is a shawl I'm making, from Cascade Epiphany. I have completed one and a half iterations of the pattern, going for ten complete iterations of it. It is the Upstairs pattern from Ravelry. I found out this weekend that Cascade has discontinued Epiphany, which is really too bad, because it is so sensuous. It is, or rather was, expensive, but still, so beautiful, and I'm really enjoying how it knits up.

This is, of course, unblocked, but it gives a good idea of how it will look when it is done.

I have also started a new Noro Striped Scarf, even though I said I wouldn't. A friend has asked me to make one for her, after seeing the last one I made, and the conversation ran like this:
She: This is really beautiful.
Me: Do you want me to make you one?
She: I don't really wear scarves all that much. But this is really beautiful
Me: Do you want me to make you one?
She: No, I still have the first scarf you made for me, but wow, this is really beautiful.
Me: Do you want me to make you one?
She:      Yes.

I've started it, and gotten about seven inches of knitting done.
I'm currently knitting with the two skeins on the right, and will add the ones on the left as the others run out. There is some purple in skein B, and a lot of purple in skein C, which ties them together. And there is some bits of purple in the Skeins A, so it should work nicely all together.
I hope.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yet another Noro scarf!

OK, so I know I said that I wouldn't make any more of these! So sue me!

This one is made with Noro Kureyon instead of Silk Garden. It is a bit rougher, more wool-like (imagine that!) than the Silk Garden ones. It will be for the reunion in January.

The colours are very warm and bright, and I love the intense reds, purples, and blues. I like the bumble bee-like stripes on the lower left (bottom picture). The person for whom I made this likes colour, and this, I think, at least, fits him and his personality. Now, if you can ever get him to play House of the Rising Sun -- heaven!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Yarn CSAs

I've added a new gadget to the side bar of the blog. It's a section called Yarn CSAs. If you click the links, you'll end up at the websites of some places where you can sign up for fibre! I have not actually joined any of these CSAs, except for the one at Juniper Moon Farm, when it was located on Martha's Vineyard. Money woes have precluded me from joining a CSA recently, so I cannot actually recommend any (except Juniper Moon). Caveat Emptor.

My experience with Juniper Moon was very good. I got two or three skeins of undeyed merino and four skeins of undyed cormo/something blend (I'd have to dig through my stash to find it, and I'm at the library right now). The yarn is beautiful, well spun, and I am going to take a dying workshop and dye some of it before I knit it up. But I know when I have the money to spare for some of these CSAs, I will definitely sign up again. As I do so, I'll winnow them out and keep the best and jetision the ones that don't meet my standards. But until then, I shall leave the links on that section.

If you have any fibre CSAs to recommend, please let me know. If you have any experience with the ones listed (and I will add more when I have the time to research them), please let me know.

In the meantime, I'm getting ready for Rhinebeck in a couple of weeks!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Light Dawns Over Marblehead

One of the things I like is knitting with soft yarns. Alpaca is a favourite, but there are yarns like Cascade's Eco Duo, and today, Juniper Moon Farm's Chadwick. It's 60% merino wool and 40% baby alpaca, and it is very soft indeed.

And one of the things I've noticed about these really soft yarns is that they are not plied and are very splitty. I'm making a scarf with the Chadwick, and yes, it's so soft. It is for the mother of a friend of mine, and I thought a soft, gentle scarf would be ideal.

But it's splitty.
Wicked splitty.

But it's also soft.

So it has finally dawned on me that the really soft yarns are probably soft because they are not plied too tightly, and that gauziness is part of what makes them soft. I suppose this would be obvious or self evident to some knitters, but usually I'm too busy reveling in the fact that the yarn is so soft, when I'm not whinging about how splitty it is.

Light really does dawn over Marblehead (it does! really! I've seen the sunrise there), and sometimes that marble head is my own.

This is the scarf I started this weekend from Juniper Moon Farm's Chadwick. The pattern was taken from Knitting for Dummies. I know the picture is dark, but I did use the flash. Not sure what is going on here.