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, 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


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: --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.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Friday night, rather than going to my regular knit night at my LYS, I went to see and hear Franklin Habit at the Common Cod Fibre Guild. I had heard him before, a few years ago, and had enjoyed his sense of humour, and thought it would be a fun thing to go see him again.

So I packed some knitting and met up with a friend and went to hear Franklin. He was engaging and funny, and spoke eloquently on Victorian and Edwardian patterns.
Franklin speaking, Harry and Delores are behind him

After speaking, he took many questions from the audience, signed books, and posed for pictures.
We called this "One and a Half Italians"

It was an evening well spent, and I'm very glad I got a chance to see him speak.

By the way, Harry is wearing a Red Sox cap!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What To Take on Vacation?

I will be on vacation next week, and I've been agonising over which projects to take with me. Should I take the big, heavy sweater, made of bulky weight yarn, and which I've just completed knitting 18 inches of fabric on the back side? Should I take the fourth iteration of the honey cowl? Should I take the persnickety lace project which gives me fits and makes me want to cry (OK, not really, but I thought that sounded good)? Should I take the Irish Hiking Scarf, which is such a no-brainer that I can knit it in my sleep?

This is 18 inches of fabric, Lamb's Pride Bulky, 85% wool, 15% mohair

I'm taking the Irish Hiking Scarf and the Honey Cowl. It wasn't a hard decision. They're small and fit easily in my bag. I can knit them on the ferry to and fro, and I don't have to worry about extra needles, binding off or any other rubbish. Not such a hard decision after all.

The Honey Cowl, Madeline Tosh DK

During this vacation I hope to finish both these projects. This might not happen, because there will be lots to do, day activities, night activities and lots of stuff to do in between (and no, I won't bring knitting to the beach; I'd just get sand in it). But since I'm planning at least two more Irish Hiking Scarves, and probably another 9 or so Honey Cowls, I really need to get my act together and my knitting done. I might even add another Honey Cowl to the mix, in the lovely dachshund colourway, if I can manage it. I feel so much like Oprah: You get a Honey Cowl, and you get a Honey Cowl, and you get a Honey Cowl!

Some days are like that.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Clara Yarn

There are days when I just want to bang my head against a brick wall in frustration.
Not because my lace knitting has gone awry.
Not because I have no place in my entire apartment to set up my swift and winder.
Not because I have nine more cowls to knit, plus several scarves and a sweater, all in six months and still have to do things like go to work and do laundry.

No, but because I just discovered someplace that makes what is, essentially, artisan yarn. It is produced in very small batches, and according to the website, "when it's gone, it's gone."

The stuff is Clara Yarn. Clara Parkes wrote The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and The Knitter's Book of Wool (both of which I have). She knows her stuff. If you go to her website, you will discover that you can sign up to be notified when she has yarn available, and you will also learn that she currently doesn't have any yarn available. Truly, it is produced in small batches, and when it is gone, it's really gone.

Of course I subscribed; I want to know when there is more yarn in the offing. I'll buy it sight unseen. I learned about this yarn from reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's blog, The Yarn Harlot. So I guess I can blame her if I decide to buy some of this stuff when it becomes available.

I am not running down yarns that are produced in big batches (how else could you make a sweater that takes 12 skeins?), but I'm really intrigued by this idea of producing an extremely limited amount of yarn and not repeating its run again. I think my stash would be enhanced by the addition of Clara Yarn. I will definitely keep my eye open for when she has more available, and buy some. Hell, I might even knit it up.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Knit Night

For me, Friday night is Knit Night, when I go to the LYS where other like-minded fibre folk are gathered, to knit, crochet (sometimes weave!), and drink cider, beer, and wine. It's a sacred time for me, and I try not to book things on Friday nights.

However, the next three Fridays are going to see me absent from Knit Night. This Friday is the Fourth of July, and the store is closed. Some people have made noise about getting together somewhere (someone's house?), but nothing firm has been declared, and it's all inchoate. Next Friday the illuminating Franklin Habit will be speaking at the Common Cod Fiber Guild, and I do not want to miss that. He's funny, kind o' cute, and always a good reason to visit the Common Cod. And the Friday after that I will be on holiday, out of Boston and relaxing on Cape Cod.

Three Fridays in a row. This means I'll miss my sacred time, and the friends I see there. Of course there are other times I go to my LYS to knit. Tuesday afternoons I meet with a couple of people, some of whom don't come on Fridays. That's always a delight. And the defunct sweater club that meets on Wednesday nights usually sees my at my LYS, slaving away on a sweater. Yes, it's bulky yarn. Yes it's hot as hell. Yes the store is air conditioned, unlike my house. You do the math.

I guess I'll just have to suck it up and get over that I won't be at Knit Night for three weeks in a row. Maybe I'll have to buy some yarn to make myself feel better for missing so many weeks.