Mystery Solved

The mystery of Stephen West’s first mystery knit-along has been solved.  I’m pleased to say that I kept up with this knit-along and finished on time, both of which may be first for me!

After a lot of excitement at the start, I ended up feeling sort of tepid about this project.  There’s so much build up for this sort of thing: popular designer, mysterious pattern, lots of chatter on the web and in Ravelry groups.  I couldn’t help but get swept up in it all.  Partway through I was a little unsure, however, as I wrote about here.  When the final clue was released, I was not excited about the edging.  I ended up modifying one option and adding a row of contrast color, which I think perks things up just a bit.

Now that the finished shawl has been sitting around for a week, it has grown on me.  Those rows of garter in the acidic yellow.  The stunning colors and zesty parallelograms.  It all works in a way I couldn’t really appreciate after binding off.   I haven’t measured my leftovers, but there’s plenty, and I’m still in love with the yarn.  Maybe I’ll make PB a funky striped hat for fall.

All in all, this was a quick, fairly easy project. The only tricky bit for me was juggling up to 3 balls of yarn at once and weaving in ends for about 2 hours. I’m not joking. Stagger your end-weaving throughout the project or you’ll go mad! I did some after each section and it really helped, but it was still a lot of time spent not knitting. You can see all the details about this project on my Ravelry page here.

That’s the third shawl I’ve finished this summer!  Two of them have been by Stephen West, even.  I suppose I’ve been a little singular in my knitting fantasies lately.  That said, I am starting to lust after some fall sweater knitting…

Yarn Along:: Mysteries & Plagues

Yarn Along-ing with Ginny this week…

Sweetie recently picked this book up for me at the Borders going out of business sale. I had heard good things about it (and their tv show) from some of you. While I was curious, I just didn’t think I had another city-dweller-turned-farmer memoir in me at the moment.  I binged pretty hard on the genre earlier this spring/summer!

In between library books I decided to pick it up, and have been enjoying it ever since.  Part of the allure for me is the author’s unflinching look at the struggles of building a farm on weekends while trying to maintain a relationship and two full-time jobs. It’s also his writing style: wry, honest, witty, and full of personal anecdotes about Martha Stewart.  I have my own Martha story, did I ever tell you? It involves making pistachio brittle for her show, feeling the chill as she walked into the room behind me, and later sneaking a hold of one of her Emmys.  But I digress… This is a fun, interesting read, a perfect compliment to my days of working on starting a business and playing in the garden with PB.

The first two clues of the Westknits Mystery knit along were very small, leaving me wanting more.  When the third clue came out a little early, I was delighted, and have been working away on this larger chunk of knitting every chance I get.  I love this yarn and my color combination, but remain a but uncertain.  Bold color combinations don’t bother me, but not knowing how it’s all going to turn up leaves me a little nervous! I am reserving judgment for now, choosing to trust in the design and hoping for a spunky yet wearable shawl when all is said and done.

What is on your nightstand and needles this week?

Secrets and Mysteries

The past week has brought some wonderful mysteries and surprises into my life.  All of them are yarn, sock, and shawl related goodness, which is supposed to be kept somewhat under wraps so as not to ruin the surprise for unsuspecting participants.  So if you don’t want to see this month’s Cookie A. Sock Club yarn, and don’t want to see what Clue #1 of the Westknits Mystery KAL looks like, read no further.

Here is a lovely buffer picture of a mysterious gourd blossom in my garden, a sprout from the compost that I am letting run wild.  Seriously, don’t go past the blossom if you want to remain surprised…

Welcome, curious onlookers!

While at Sock Summit (yes, that again…I’m almost done talking about it, I promise!), I fell hard for the A Verb for Keeping Warm booth.  I had seen their yarn over the winter, and loved  its beautiful color palette, a result of all natural dyes.  This time they had small skeins perfect for multi-color knitting, and I had a real hey day matching up colors for my Westknits shawl.  While there, Cookie A. just happened to be drooling over an acidic yellow yarn dyed with marigold blooms.  I was instantly drawn to the yarn, both because I love yellow and because I think Cookie A.’s taste in yarn is superb.  Suddenly, something inexplicable came over me, and I just had a feeling that she would be putting some Verb yarn in her sock club soon.  Right, Striped Socks?

Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga (left) & A Verb for Keeping Warm Creating (right)

I chose 3 colors of Verb’s Creating yarn for the shawl: Marigold, Barnacle! Matey! and Indigo.  The first clue was a brief but tasty nugget, and Striped Socks and I wound our yarn and cast on the same day (she in the car while I drove us to the beach, I later that evening).  I am loving my color combo and am excitedly working my way through the second clue now.

And then, a few days ago, I got my sock club yarn.  It’s beautiful.  See how this is all coming together?

Am I psychic, or what?

Good Company

Going to a yarn event is so much more than the sum of its parts.  Sure there’s yarn, classes, events, and a whole lot of knitters.  And those are all wonderful elements, but what I’m talking about is that intangible feeling, the collective excitement of its attendees, the electric frisson that happens when you’re in a room full of people who just get it.  We all love yarn and making thing with it, and there’s no need to explain why we do what we do. There is both a thrill and a peacefulness brought about by being with your people.

Marketplace line, day 1

Blog/swap friend Carmen!

PDXKnitterati, soon to be featured designer at Stash!

Sock Summit was just this sort of place, made even more exciting for me when I kept running into people I know, either in real life or through blogging.  These connections are very real to me, and I always enjoy filling up my knitterly cup, so to speak.  In addition to getting to spend gobs of time with Stripedsocks who flew out from Connecticut for the event, I got to connect with Michelle, Carmen, a few blog readers (hi again!), and of course Cookie A. and Stephanie.  Yeah, we’re like this.  Especially after Stephanie accidentally stepped on my foot and said “Sorry, sweetie.” I mean, we’re practically best friends now.

And then there was the yarn.  Goodness, there was so much lovely yarn it was difficult to know where to go first.  Fortunately, I had a list of dyers for the shop that I wanted to talk to face to face, so that’s how I stayed focused.  Mostly.  After conducting the yarn business, I was a little stunted as to what yarn to buy for personal use.   I needed to pick out three colors for the Westknits mystery knit along. Then I saw the Catkin shawl on a knitter and knew I had to make one, which led to a handful of skeins from Hazel Knits.  Everyone was wearing beautiful hand knit shawls, by the way.  If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was Shawl Summit. There were the odd moments when a certain someone dared me into buying a wee turkish spindle.  Guess I’ll just have to keep practicing my drop spindling, eh?  Fairly restrained purchasing for me, but I also know there is about to be a whole lot of yarn coming in to the shop, so I didn’t want to go too crazy.

A Verb for Keeping Warm booth

Hazel Knits swatch towers

All in all, Sock Summit 2011 was a wonderful experience.  Soaking up all that knitterly energy, taking classes and hearing industry legends like Tina Newton and Clara Parkes speak, eating good food and knitting as much as I wanted; all were wonderful ways to spend a weekend.  Now it’s back to life, back to reality, which I am all the more ready to embrace after a delicious retreat like this.