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, May 30, 2014

A Hodge Podge of Stuff, or, A Miscellany

I've heard it said, by knitters who are more experienced than I, to teach new knitters using fat yarn and fat needles. That way, after only a few rows, they've got three or so inches of fabric, whereas if one uses finer yarns with thinner needles, after a few rows they have something that might look like fabric, if one looks at it cross eyed at midnight with a new moon.

I am an experienced knitter (well, I like to think I am, though lace still gives me fits, and I've never made socks), and I am almost half way through the third (of 12) honey cowls. Not quite half way, but almost. (Really!). And even though I knit six to ten rows a day on it, the damn thing never looks any different. The same, unchanging, eternal. So this morning I cast on an Irish Hiking Scarf for Brandon. It is the second of at least four that I plan to make this year (the first one is done!), and is being knit in Madeline Tosh Scarlet. While I really want to get all my honey cowls done before Christmas, I also want to feel like I'm making some sort of progress, and since there's a cable every eighth row on an Irish Hiking Scarf, just by counting more cables today than yesterday, I can feel like I've accomplished something. And furthermore, as a non-monogamous knitter, having only one project to work on felt somehow wrong. (I am, of course, not counting the finicky swallowtail lace shawlette I am making, because, as I mentioned before, lace gives me fits.)

It felt good to cast on a new project this morning. The yarn has been sitting on my shelf, beckoning me for the last few days. Now I have two decent projects to work on: a honey cowl that looks the same, no matter how many rows I knit, and an Irish Hiking Scarf that will grow quickly and let me feel like I am actually accomplishing something.

This is Brandon's Irish hiking Scarf, with one iteration (plus three rows) of the pattern finished.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Baggies: the Most Important Item on Your Shopping List

I think my largest expense, after yarn, is zip-loc ™ baggies. I had to buy two boxes of them last night (I got the store brand, because they were buy one, get one free!), and there are only 17 in a bloody box. That's so not right. I used up most of the contents of one box, stuffing yarn into baggies this morning. Best protection I can think of to guard against those nasty beasties we will not mention, but who plague even the nicest of us.

Recent purchases, every string of yarn in this picture has a project attached to it. The problem is, when will I get to it? If I didn't have to work, eat, bathe, sleep, I might get everything I wanted to get knitted done. But projects! Attached to yarn I buy! That's a good thing, right?

On the needles right now, is yet another honey cowl, in Tosh's fabuloso Betty Draper's Blues. I love this colour! While my house guest was visiting last week, I got almost no knitting done. But this morning, I buckled down and knit six rows. That's 1320 stitches, and it still looks like I didn't knit a damn thing. It will get done.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

More Yarn, Ye King Henry, More Yarn Ye Gie To Me*

So the resolution to not buy a lot of new yarn this year has gone all to hell. I'm up to 22 or 23 bins of yarn right now (I can't remember, and that's bad), and damned if I don't need to buy another bin for all the yarn I've gotten in the last five months. At this rate, I'll need to get another room just for my yarn. The bins tower so far over my head that I have a hard time getting them down.

Sic friat biscuitem, as my Latin teacher used to say. These are some of the wonderful yarns I have acquired.

From The Artful Ewe, I got some beautifully dyed silk yarn. These will make another honey cowl. Each skein is 165 yards, approximately 3 ounces. Hand dyed, they don't match exactly, so I'll interknit the skeins, using one skein for the knit rows, and one for the purl rows. Can't wait!

I also got these skeins, silk, like the ones above. I already know who is going to get this cowl.

From Good Karma Farm, the beautiful sport weight I was waiting for. This is a bit less purple and a bit more blue than the original I saw, but I'm not going to complain with a hand dyed skein of yarn. I already know who is getting what this knits up!

I really can't wait to get my needles into all this yarn!

Because I've been hosting my out-of-town inamorato, I haven't been blogging as much as I promised myself at the beginning of the year: twice each week. I don't think I'm going to make my self-imposed quota of posts this month. I'll try, but there is only so much even I can say about knitting.

*Today's blog title is taken from the traditional English Folk ballad, King Henry, Child 32, about how a grisley ghost demands King Henry to kill his hawk, hound, and horse to feed her, crying, "More meat, more meat, ye king Henry, more meat ye gie to me!" 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Yarns from NH Sheep and Wool Festival

When Jay and I went to the NH S&W Festival last week, the only thing on my mind was seeing the beasties: alpacas, llamas, sheep, and angora bunnies. The goats were an unexpected pleasure. I never thought about yarn. Oh, no, not at all. Never. But because I know myself, even though I never thought about the yarn that I'd see there, I brought an empty pack, in which to store any purchases I might make. I will say that I did not exceed my budget for yarn purchases, and that budget was not set very high.

Knowing that I would buy yarn (yeah, I admit it), I decided I wanted only things I couldn't find in stores, so even though I love GreenMountain Spinnery yarns, I didn't stop at their booth, since I can buy it locally. Everything I got is available only at festivals like this one, or by mail order. And I love that I was able to add to my stash some gorgeous yarns that are unusual, and not locally available at any of the LYSs where I shop.

I knew I wanted to buy some yarn from the Jan Marek Raczkowski Studio. His yarns are soft, and the dyes are gorgeous. This is a view of his booth. 

There is no website, but his e-mail is, and his phone is 860-216-2165.
Jay took a picture of me perusing the yarn at Jan Marek Raczkowski Studio's booth.
He had some silk and wool blends, but I settled on the Blue Face Leicester. It is really soft, the variegeted colour is subtle and very pretty, and there's 350 yards. I think it will make a beautiful cowl for someone this year.

From GoodKarma Farm, this colourway is Cookie Monster. It's a blend of 60% wool and 40% alpaca and is very soft. At 400 yards and a sport weight it will make another cowl. They also had a colourway they called Lap Dogz, a variegeted purple. Unfortunately they didn't have any in the sport weight, which is what I wanted. So I gave them the money for it, and they said that they are dying it this week, and will ship it to me. And of course I believe them, because that is good karma. I also need to keep their website handy, because they had some other colourways that were just lovely, and I'd really like to knit with them.

Mad ColorFiber Arts had a riotous booth. This is their roving, and their yarns were pretty damn spectacular, too.

I bought two skeins of Rock Lobster, though I call this colour Knock Me Over and Fuck Me Red. Yeah, it's rude. It's also accurate. Pull up your big girl panties and deal with it. This is the DK weight, and is 100% superwash merino. I also saw this colourway in Blue Face Leicester, and it was really beautiful, but was a heavier weight, and not what I wanted. They had other yarns I wanted to buy, but like I said, I was limiting my purchases. But I have their website, and can order more if I need it! The dyer had some stunning blue yarns and some kick-ass greens!
Rock Lobster! 
I feel the B52s coming on!

Wandering through the alpaca shed, I saw some undyed alpaca yarn, and even though I had decided not to get any undyed alpaca this year (because I think I got six skeins of various colours last year), I couldn't resist these two skeins from Alpaca-Brats Farm.

The black yarn really grabbed me, but the roan got me by the throat and shook me. I had to take them home with me. And they're soft, so very soft.

While I did not intend to buy this next skein, the booth was staffed by three girls who were raising alpacas as part of their 4-H project, at CurlyQ Farm, and purchase of the yarn would help support their efforts. They do not have a website, but do have a Facebook page.
This grey yarn is so pretty, and of course, so soft. I was glad to get it, and besides, what's one more skein?

Finally from Decadent Fibers, these two skeins of worsted weight yarn. I would like to make a vest for myself with this stuff.

Jay and I spent some time talking to the two women who staffed this booth. The yarns were gorgeous, hand dyed, and the yarns knit up beautifully. They had a bunch of knitted-up garments to show off their yarn at its best advantage. They will be at Reinbeck, and Jay and I are already planning and plotting a trip up there this fall.

There were some other yarns at the festival that I liked. There was a dyer from Dirty Water DyeWorks, a local Boston dyer. Her yarns were really beautiful, but they are available in a couple of local stores, and I was pinching pennies by the time we encountered her booth. Jay bought a couple of skeins from her, and her yarns are totally on my radar right now. However, I can see myself  buying some of her yarn in the not-too-distant future.

From Mountain Vewe Coopworths there were two skeins of yarn I didn't buy, but am now kicking myself for not getting. Well, to be honest, I wanted a sweater's worth of each colour, and didn't have enough money to get all I needed, and I'm not sure they had enough of these two colours to satisfy my needs (hey, I'm a big guy, and it takes a lot of yarn to make a sweater for me!). The yarns are hand dyed, and there was a cobalt blue colourway and a green colourway that both rocked my stripey socks! I will keep their card and make notes about it, and when I have the time to make a sweater for myself, give them a call. They do not have a website, but their phone number is 802-429-2084, and their 
e-mail is

Sic friat biscuitem, these are the yarns I was able to add to my stash. And seriously, except for the three skeins of undyed alpaca, I have projects attached to all of them. And I can't wait to start knitting these skeins up. They're so beautiful, soft, and intense, I know they will knit up most wonderfully.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival: We Did It!

My friend Jay and I went to the NH Sheep and Wool Festival today. We saw sheep, and llamas, and alpacas, and bunnies, and . . . YARN!!!

One of the coolest things we saw were animals from Work In Progress Farm, which is working farm. After checking out their website, they also have alpacas, pigs, sheep, and mini horses. One of the owners gave a talk while the angora goats were being sheared. Most of the goats were very quiet, but one kept bleating bloody murder as she was sheared by a man named Jeff.

Before the shearing, one of the goats was very forward  and demanding of snacks from her admirers.

I saw him shearing sheep last year at this same festival.

The owners of WIP Farm are in blue polo shirts, talking about the fleece that was being sheared from their goat.

There were lots of alpacas at the fair.

Some had been sheared, and some hadn't. I think sheared alpacas are very funny looking, because they have such pencil necks.

And of course, sheep!
I am not sure what kind of sheep this is, but of course, "Baa, baa black sheep" is going through my head.

These are blue face Leicester sheep. I've made a sweater from BFL wool.

This is a Shetland sheep. I really like the horns.

There was also some yarn purchases that were made, but I shall post those another day.

It was a very fun day, since Jay knows a lot about different sheep breeds, and which ones spin most easily. It was great to peruse the yarns that were on sale, and like dear Queen Victoria, who, when she was a mere slip of a Princess, vowed to be good, I, too, was good, and didn't buy too much yarn. And everything I got already has a project attached to it. Now, if only I had the time to knit all these projects! Next blog post, pictures of the yarn. I know you can't wait!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

NH Sheep and Wool Festival: Can we do it?

I'm slaving away on the honey cowls. I've got one done, and a second is more than half done. I just might make my goal of 10 by Yuletide! Of course, I've got other knitting I'm ignoring, but hey, that's the way things go sometimes. Right now I'm doing something I never thought I'd do: I'm knitting monogamously. I've got my sights set on getting this cowl done, before I cast on the next. Let's see if I can keep it up.

This weekend is the NH Sheep and Wool Festival. My friend Huw (he spells it "Hugh" but I prefer the Welsh spelling) sent me a message asking if I wanted to go. Of course I do. What could be better than looking at sheep, and alpacas, and llamas, and yarn, and wool, and yarn, and spinning wheels and yarn and drop spindles and yarn? I have some definite things I want to be on the lookout for, and I hope I see them.

It isn't like I need anymore yarn, though. I'm attempting to excavate my room, and I keep finding yarn everywhere. I wonder where it all came from?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Thanks for Asking

I'm kind of all over the place today.

I finished Jayson's Irish Hiking Scarf this morning. It's beautiful, though still needs to be blocked. I will try to wet block it, my experience with Adrienne's alpaca shawl notwithstanding, because the scarf is Tosh and is superwash merino (colourway is Fathom). I think it's gorgeous, but I've encountered that standard Tosh problem, that skeins from the same bag are not necessarily the same dye lot. I can see a slight variation in the colour between the first and second skein (I had started it before I knew that Tosh dyes yarn in three-skein lots, and puts more than one dye lot into a bag). However, I don't think a non-knitter will notice it. I am also determined to always knit Tosh with both skeins simultaneously.

The colour differences are glaringly obvious to me, but I don't think a non-knitter would notice. 

This is the scarf, unblocked. I'm looking forward to blocking this and letting the cables open up.

With the completion of this scarf, I've now completed two of the twenty-one projects I want to get done by Christmas (well, with three of them I have until MLK weekend in January). I'll see Jayson in July so I'll just give it to him then.

I bought more yarn on sale, Rowan's Purelife British Sheep Breeds. This is Black Welsh (though it is decidedly brown!). It's a bit rough and scratchy, and smells wonderful! I got seven skeins to make a vest for myself (why should my friend Steven have all the good stuff?). Of course, I never get around to knitting things for myself. What's up with that?

Rowan's Purelife British Sheep Breed yarns are such joy to knit.

If you look closely, you can see wee bits of bracken and grass in the yarn. I love that! Even though I pick it out as I knit, it reminds me that this is an organic material, that was sheared off the body of a living creature, and is not synthetic or artificial, and not made from petroleum products.

Bracken and grass and stuff.

Why, yes, I am a yarn snob. Thanks for asking.

Before going off to Knit Night at my LYS, I stopped by the Museum of Fine Arts to see Norman Rockwell's The Rookie (Red Sox Locker Room). I have never been a fan of Rockwell, having only seen reproductions of his covers for The Saturday Evening Post. I always considered him more of an illustrator than an artist.But now I think I need to reassess that opinion. I was really taken by the painting, even though I found the portrayal of the rookie to be a bit hokey. I'm very glad I made the trip to see the painting before I went off to knit.

Why, yes, I am a Red Sox fan. Thanks for asking.

Tonight my LYS is hosting a Men's Knit Night. They do this a few times a year, and anywhere between six and ten men show up. Some of us are regulars on Friday nights, but some of the guys only show up for these occasional events. The women at Friday often ask what we talk about "with just the guys present," but really, nothing special. It's not all that exciting. No one is modeling his willy-warmer, or talking about the best techniques for knitting a jock strap. It's just a bunch of guys, knitting. I always enjoy it, and I have to admit, the energy is different when it's just men in the group. Maybe one of these days I need to try out a men's knitting retreat.

Why, yes I am a man who knits. Thanks for asking.