Yarn Lust

I’ve been wanting to get to this space all week, to tell you about my magical, yarn-filled weekend.  It was like Candy Land, but with yarn.

I went to Vogue Knitting LIVE to represent Stash, and expected to have a great time.  What actually happened was so personally satisfying and thrilling, it blew my wool socks off.

The people were kind and open and enthusiastic.  I met old friends, new friends, blog friends, podcast friends, and knitterari friends.  The wool fumes and collective buzz of knitterly enthusiasm was contagious, and I instantly felt my lust for knitting surge.  This was just the medicine I needed to cure a pretty bad case of Knitting Burnout.  I hadn’t knit in weeks, and was even starting to skip my daily Ravelry check-ins.  It was bad.  Rest assured, this was a brief malady, and I am now on a steady prescription of New Yarn.

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The haul.

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My color palette for the Turnagain Cowl

I had a lot of fun playing with different color combinations of Loft in the Churchmouse booth for a Turnagain Cowl.  I already had the Sap and Plume colorways in my stash, so I started with those and then played with different color stories.  I’m pretty excited about what I came up with, and even though it isn’t exactly wool-cowl weather, I’m itching to cast on asap.

I’m also pretty excited about that mini skein bundle of lavender gradient yarn from Black Trillium, the gradient cakes from Freia, the 2 ply hand-dyed from Spincycle Yarns, and the Madelinetosh.  So much new yarn!

Should you think owning a yarn shop satisfies the urge to impulse buy yarn, let me tell you it does not! When faced with the temptations of new yarn, I am just as powerless as the rest of us yarnaholics.

What yarn or projects are you itching to cast on right away?

You can read more about the trip and see photos full of yarn-drunk knitters over on the Stash blog.

Churchmouse Yarns and Tea

I got my first taste of the Churchmouse brand while at a fiber festival a couple of years ago.  Their knitting patterns are exquisite, and I fell in love with their style immediately.  When we were planning our trip to Seattle, I just knew we needed to take a ferry ride over to Bainbridge Island to visit their shop.

And then, a few weeks ago something wonderful happened.  I was in Boston for the Yarn Market News conference, and I started chatting to the most charming gentleman.  Turns out it was John, one of the owners of Churchmouse!  Along with his longtime wife Kit, the two have built a beautiful shop and brand.

While in the shop, I felt very inspired, both as a knitter and yarn shop owner.

You can take classes, brew a cup of tea, and browse the large selection of knitting and needlepoint supplies.  There are charming surprises to be found everywhere you turn, from repurposed furniture pieces to extra large knitting needles.  And their spring window display is beyond charming, don’t you think?

I brought home a few new skeins of yarn, the bulk of which comes from Brooklyn Tweed.

Now the question of what to knit…

Yarn Along:: Shopping the Stash

I’m joining Ginny at Small Things for another Yarn Along, sharing my knitting and reading pleasures.

This week’s book seems to fit right in with my goal of knitting from stash. The plan was to work my way through the cotton blends I bought last spring and summer, and so far I’m doing just that. On Sunday I cast on for the Little Sister Dress and have been knitting on it here and there. There’s a lot more purling than I realized; glancing at the pattern photo, I assumed it was a garter stitch bodice. The colors in this yarn are fresh and watery, and even though it’s 100% cotton it’s pretty nice to knit with. My left hand does start to ache after a few rows, so I’m trying to knit on it in small bits to avoid getting knitter’s thumb again.

Anyway, back to the book. Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping was an impulse get at the library. I was looking for vegetarian cookbooks when this caught my eye. In it, Levine shares her experience as she gives up all “non-essential” purchasing for an entire year.  She even forgoes entertainment like movies and concerts which I certainly see as essential. I’m still in the first half of the book, but so far it’s a pretty interesting read as the author combines her personal narrative with facts about economics, consumer emulation, and the psychology behind why we buy what we buy. Reading this book certainly gets me thinking, and that’s always a good thing.

What are you stitching or reading this week?

Booty Call

Just popping in to say a quick “Hello” before settling in for the evening with one of my new skeins of yarn seized at Stitches West.  It was a great trip, full of all the fibery goodness a knitter could ever dream up.  Before packing up yesterday, I decided to take account of my purchases from the weekend.  I had the luxury of being able to go in and out of the marketplace over 4 days; I bought a couple of skeins and notions each day, which lead to a completely distorted idea of exactly how much yarn I had purchased.  It wasn’t until I had it all out at once that the reality of the situation hit me.  That is a lot of yarn.  Beautiful, delicious, can’t-wait-to-knit-with-it yarn.  And I love it all!

My purchases came from the following vendors:

I’ll spare you the full skein-by-skein replay, but if you’re interested in a particular skein just leave a comment or email me and I’ll be sure to let you know where it came from.

Okay, I’m off to wind up some Malabrigo; the two of us have a date tonight!

At the Market

This morning we decided to venture out to the farmer’s market for the first time this season.  It’s a hot and steamy day here in New England, but the market was well shaded and had a breeze.  Shopping–and then eating–turned out to be quite pleasant.  There was myriad vegetables available: mostly greens, a few radishes, and a couple of strawberries.  Then there were the bakers and meat and cheese vendors!  I am really looking forward to the coming weeks and the bounty of local goods.  It’s so fun to see what’s coming into season, buying what looks good, and then figuring out what to make from it all.  Tonight I think we’ll try something that’s recently come to my attention thanks to A Homemade Life: radishes on baguette with butter and salt.  Gotta try it, right?!

After shopping for a bit, we found a shady spot in the park and snacked on a fresh baguette, strawberries, and a pear smoothie.  Couldn’t have started the weekend off on a better note!  I hope you are having a great one too.

And then there was yarn:

And a cute baby, too:

Shopping Survival

I have never really considered myself a die-hard shopper.  Sure, I like to shop, even enjoy it on most occasions, but I am not one to search high and low for the best deal.  If I like it and can afford it and haven’t talked myself into believing I don’t “need” something, I buy it.  So when it comes to shopping for yarn, I take one of two approaches.

1. Buy what looks and feels good.

2. Buy yarn for a specific project.

When I first started knitting, I was a project-centered yarn buyer.  If I wanted to make something, I’d go out and get yarn to make it.  In the beginning I didn’t know about the wealth of places one can buy yarn, both locally and online.  So often I would find myself standing in the yarn aisle of a craft store making a guess at choosing a good substitution.

Then I started going to a Stitch ‘n Bitch group that met right next door to a yarn shop.  More often than not, we would go over after knitting for a while, just to see what was new and take advantage of a group discount.  This is when I started stashing, unknowingly at first, then with intention after I started knitting socks.  It’s just so easy to buy beautiful sock yarn with abandon!

All of this is to explain to that when I go to a yarn store like Webs, on a big sale weekend, I go with a mixed strategy.  Sure, I made a list.  And I got everything on my list, or some variation.  But I’m also open to spontaneous yarn acquisition, which is how I came home with an extra skein of sock yarn (or two).  And the Addi Click interchangeable needles I have been daydreaming about.  It was a good thing I couldn’t reach the Lexi Barnes bags from where I stood in line, because I certainly don’t need another knitting bag!

We arrived at Webs right at 10am as the sale was supposed to start.  The place was already packed with bargain-hungry yarn shoppers.  I have always been quick to say that knitters are a gentle, generous folk, but some of the behavior I saw that day has me questioning this.  I was bumped into, given agitated looks, and downright ignored when speaking.  More than once!  Good thing I was in a good mood and not so serious about the whole thing.  I was just there to get what was on my list, after all!

I filled that blue/green bag with yarn, and when it was full I called it quits.  I stuck to my budget (except for those neeldles…okay, I stuck to my yarn budget), got more than I needed, and had fun while doing it.  Success!

Did you go to the Webs Tent Sale?  What did you buy?  How long did you stand in line?!

Challenged

I am woefully behind on knitting a sweater for a Knit-Along I joined this month.  In fact, when the month started, I wasn’t even close to choosing what pattern to make, let alone knitting it!  I was vacillating between several patterns, but in the end decided to make Coraline by Ysolada Teague.  The pattern fit all of my requirements: a cardigan that would look good worn open or buttoned; a fit that would flatter both my pregnant and non-pregnant self; simple but not boring in construction.  I did have to buy the pattern, and didn’t have the yarn for it in stash, so….a trip to Webs was in order!

I knew that I wanted a DK weight yarn with an interesting blend of fibers in it.  So I arrived at Webs with a short list of contenders.  Sweetie accompanied me and took up her usual post in an armchair at the front of the store, assuring me I could take as much time as I needed.  Awesome!

A preliminary loop through the store netted some good possibilities for yarn:

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All lovely choices, but I wasn’t crazy about knitting with any of these colors.  As Sweetie was so bold to point out, “I’ve seen this basket of yarn before.”  I was busted for sticking to my comfort palette!

Armed with a challenge to choose colors I haven’t worked with recently, I set out on a second search through the store.  I was also looking for yarn for a couple of other projects, and this new perspective helped me find them too.  This is what I came home with:

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Cherry, bubble gum, and raspberry!  I was definitely more excited about these colors than I was about my first basket, lovely as those colors were.  But Sweetie was right; sometimes we need to shake things up and try something outside the lines we’ve been coloring in.

I ended up choosing Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light for my sweater.  It’s in a vibrant shade of red that I think will punch up my fall/winter wardrobe quite nicely.

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I cast on on Saturday and am already 4 rows into the pattern.  I know, it’s going to be hard to keep up with me at this speedy pace!

Simplify

Have you ever noticed a beautifully painted sign at a boutique type shop, the ones that say things like “Live, Laugh, Love”, “I Hope You Dance”, and “Simplify”?** Sweetie and I always laugh a little at the ones that suggest simplification while urging you to buy something utterly useless. The sentiment is well placed, however, and is something that I am trying to keep in mind this year.

I have been slowly culling my possessions, taking inspiration from the 7 Things project.  This involves putting serious thought into the possessions I have around me, both things I already own and things I am tempted to buy. I am asking myself  “Do I really need this?” before I buy anything, and I tell you: just raising consciousness like this has saved me mmore than a few bucks in impulse buys!

I have made the most significant simplifications in my yarn and book stash.  The first resolution I made  was that I would only buy yarn for specific projects.  Sock yarn is, of course, for socks, so I can and will buy as much as I like.  I get to go to Webs today as we are heading up there to attend a  Sarah Vowell reading.  It’s going to be a smorgasbord of sock yarn for me, as I am hoping to get my hands on some Malabrigo, Noro Silk Garden, and Dream in Color Smooshy.  These are all sock yarns I have not yet sampled but have been lusting after.  It feels better to  me to buy with intention than to just go hog wild and wonder what happened later when the adrenaline wears off!

My second area of simplification is books.  I am a bibliophile, and I love to buy, collect, attract, and stash books of all kinds.   I turned around last month and really saw how many books I have purchased that I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.  I made a pile.  It was tall.  Then I made a pile of books that I had read and didn’t want to keep.  Also tall.

At that moment, I decided two things: 1. No buying books until I have read all the books in the first pile. 2. Do something good with the used books I no loger needed.  A friend suggested I look into Paperback Swap and it was a revelation.  You simply post 10 books to your account that you are able to trade.  As people request your books, you get a credit which you can then use to get a new book.  The only cost is for media mail shipping which is under $2.50.  Needless to say, I’ve gotten rid of many books, acquired a few I’ve been wanting, and have been reading a bit more than usual.

Thirdly, I feel inspired by the Wardrobe Refashion challenge.  The idea is to “…abstain from the purchase of “new” manufactured items of clothing [and] refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands…”  I like the idea of looking at clothes buying in a new way, as well as refurbishing some of my existing wardrobe.  I have been inteneding to buy myself a sewing machine for about 87 years now, and I think this is just the impetus to finally do so.  I dream of making my own skirts, hemming and change things I already own, and creating something new from something old.  Is anyone interested in taking the 2 month pledge with me?

So those are some of the projects going on around Peaceful House these days.  Unfortunately, I found out yesterday that there is not a bun in the oven, so that is no longer a work in progress.  For the time being, anyway.  Thanks again for all your well wishes and support.

Have a great weekend everyone!

**In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a sign that says Love Joy Peace over my front door.**

Vintage Goodness

Last week I was on a vintage button-buying spree on Etsy, looking for interesting things to spruce up my crafting. I did a search for “vintage buttons” and many, many things turned up. It’s a bit overwhelming to look through all the results, but when I filtered through I ended up finding two things that really caught my eye.

The first came from the seller Vintage Necessities, who has a ton of buttons to choose from. It looks like they are sorted by type and color into various sized lots. I was really drawn to a small bundle of green, white, and yellow plastic buttons. When they arrived, I was not disappointed.

Each one is different from the next, but they all relate to one another. I can see them working well on a simple cardigan or baby sweater at some point.

My next find came from a seller called Wistful Supplies that specializes in all sorts of jewelry-making supplies and miscellaneous whimsies. I found these vintage wallpaper and fabric inspired buttons. Silly me: I didn’t notice the descriptions said they were “pin back buttons” and was expecting something else.

Pins or buttons, they are really fun and I’m sure I will find a use for them. In the meantime, I keep trolling the local thrift shops looking for a fun mixed bag o’ buttons to start building a collection. All I have so far is a little jar full of all those extra buttons that come with new clothes: buttons from jackets, shirts, and trousers that I own. These have been fine, but I want to diversify my portfolio, so to speak!

Do you have a button collection? How do you find your buttons? How do you store them?

A Good Mail Day

It hasn’t been a particularly good hair day, but the mail? Yes, the mail was very good to me indeed.

First there was a little something from the UK. Looking at the envelope, I couldn’t imagine who would be sending me something from England. I have been doing a teensy bit of shopping on etsy, but I was pretty sure everything I ordered was from the US. There was a brief moment of hope when I thought maybe some knitterly treat was on its way to me from a fellow knitblogger (don’t ask how this would have been possible since she doesn’t have my address!). Then, as I was tearing the envelope open, I saw a little white box inside and remembered: Moo cards!

I saw my first Moo card when I met Nutmeg Knitter last summer. At that time, I didn’t have a blog and hadn’t heard of Ravelry or Flickr yet. I wasn’t a complete techno peasant, but I hadn’t yet incorporated technology into my crafting lifestyle. Needless to say, I’ve come to my senses and now spend way more time online than I probably should, but it’s definitely been a compliment to my life.

These are basically little calling cards using your own photography; tiny, cute, and so fun seeing my own photos on such a professional product! You should try it.

The next package was instantly recognizable.

I saw this necklace when I was perusing the bowels of the reviews and recommendations section of the summer issue of Knitty. Since it has been out for a while, I assumed the artist, Cupboard Scraps, would probably be sold out. When I got to her etsy website, I was delighted to find a whole array of vintage-inspired delights. Look: it’s double sided!

I may have also purchased a couple of vintage buttons last week…I’ll be sure to share those as they trickle in. What is your most recent impulse/indulgent/for-no-good-reason purchase?