Yarn Pilgrimage

Friday’s trip to Mecca WEBS proved to be both inspiring and fruitful.  There is so much beautiful yarn there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  But thanks to a courteous staff member, I was directed to the types of yarn I was looking for, and in what felt like no time at all I was surrounded with great options for a sweater.

In searching for the perfect pattern for My First Sweater, I had these criteria:

  • Seamless construction.

  • Modern and stylish.

  • Something that would look good on my body that I would like to wear.

  • Simple but not boring.

In the end, I purchased two top down patterns.  I went to WEBS with the intention of getting the yarn to make one or the other, whichever I was more excited about when I saw the yarn options.  Silly Peaceful Knitter!  There were a few great options for each sweater, and I ended up stocking up to knit both.

  • Pattern: Wicked

  • Yarn: Artyarns Supermerino in color 239.  It’s a gorgeous blue-purple semisolid colorway.  Love.

wicked-start

baby-cables-start

See that cable coming up the sleeve from the wrist?  That’s what did me in!

I wound up the yarn over the weekend and started swatching.  That’s right: I took your advice and swatched then swatched again.  Apparently I had a little bit of a mental block when swatching for Wicked.  The pattern calls for a size 7 needle.  I got 5 1/2 stitches to the inch with 7s (too few), so I needed to try another needle size.  This is when I glanced back at the pattern to make sure of the needle size.  I saw US size 7 and US size 4.  “Really? 4s with worsted weight yarn?” I thought to myself.  Okay….so I swatched with 6s.  Then 5s and finally 4s.

I was feeling beyond frustrated about not achieving this mythical gauge when I started complaining to Sweetie.  She said she’d take a look, and I handed her my knitting and my trusty Susan Bates gauge thingy.  She chuckled and said something to the effect of “shouldn’t you be going up a needle size if you want fewer stitches per inch?”  After a moment of complete humiliation, I thanked her for being so good with measurements and proceeded to rip out and start over.  Apparently when I saw size 4 I was looking at the information for the laceweight version of the sweater, not the worsted!  I ignored what I thought I knew about gauge and was implicitly trusting what I thought the pattern said.

I got a good start on Wicked at knitting group yesterday, and am about to start the raglan increases.  I love the yarn, and the pattern seems straightforward and just interesting enough.  Is it wrong that I’m already excited to be finished with this one so I can start Baby Cables?

While at Mecca WEBS, I also found a better yarn for the Hanami Stole than what I had swatched with before.  This is a beautiful raspberry wine color of Misti Alpaca.

misti-alpaca-lace

One our way out of the parking lot, Sweetie and I both noticed the bead shop.  “Do you want to stop?” she offered.  “Well, I do need some beads to go with this lace yarn…”  We pulled in, found the right beads almost immediately thanks to another courteous staffer, and were on our way.  The day was a great success!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my sweater.

Ha!  I’m knitting a sweater!  I really like the sound of that.

Detours, Roadblocks, and Expressways

I’m enjoying a quiet morning at home.  I’m sitting here at the computer with a cup of tea, thinking about the days ahead and all I have to get done in order to be prepared and/or productive.  What is that about?  Do you feel like you have a never ending To-Do List, and no matter what you’ve accomplished the day before, there is always more to do?

I’m really feeling lately like I should be doing More, like I want to be contributing to the world in a bigger, better way.  I’m just stumped as to how to accomplish this.  Life has taken my plans and made me go on a big detour, and at this point I’m not sure if I’ll be arriving at my intended destination any time soon. So what to do in the meantime…?

Knitting, for starters!  Now that the craft fair is over, I have regained an open schedule with regards to my knitting.  I have been working monogamously on the Show-Off Stranded socks, and they are coming along quite nicely.  The pattern has a new-to-me way to make a heel: you knit the sock from the cuff down, and when it’s time to make a heel, you increase every other row to create a gusset.  You are simultaneously knitting the heel, the top of the foot, and the gussets. Then you turn the heel and keep knitting along.  No heel flap!

I have some holes along my gussets, but they match on both sides so I have elected to call them “design features” or “learning experiences”!

Bells has me feeling inspired to knit a little something lacy; she’s in a country where it’s almost summer now, and what a better thing to knit than lace in the summer?  I just want to knit something delicate, and some time ago the Hanami Stole caught my eye.  I have some luscious apple green cashmere lace-weight in the stash, and it seemed like a perfect pairing.

Then last night at Stitch ‘n Bitch I decided I would make a swatch.  This is uncharacteristic of me, but something was telling me that this yarn and pattern combination were to be taken seriously.  Maybe it is the 12-page pattern.  Maybe it was the fact that the yarn kept breaking as I handled it.  Both, I guess.  So I got started knitting a swatch, and after several rows…snap!  The yarn broke.  I don’t know if I can, in good conscience, continue knitting with this yarn.  Could I double it up?  Should I set it aside?  Will being worried or paranoid at the beginning of a project doom it to failure?  Can some of you experienced lace knitters advise me on what to do?!  Help!

Sweetie and I are heading out of town on a much-needed long weekend together, a trip born out of a culmination of things.  So I will be out of touch for several days.  I hope that you have a wonderful weekend, with more than enough time to create and be peaceful.

P.S. Squirrels love corn!  This one munched on a cob tabletop before trying to carry it in its mouth through the spindles on the deck.  Horizontal corn and vertical slots do not mix!  S/he eventually switched tactics and pushed it through.  Lucky squirrel.

A New York City Yarn Sampler

Saturday’s activities in Manhattan led me to two local yarn stores that had been recommended to me by friends. The first is School Products, purportedly New York’s oldest yarn shop, located on Broadway between 28th and 29th Streets. It’s up on the 3rd floor, so you have to take an elevator and then ring the bell to be buzzed in to the store. Definitely something you would just happen to wander by!

According to their website, they carry a “rainbow display of yarns for every need and purpose from hand knitting and weaving to machine knitting”. Much of their yarn is imported internationally, from luxurious Italian cashmere to baby camel. They had plenty of interesting yarn, but visually the place lacked warmth, and there were a lot of dusty, empty shelves. I was the only person there on a Saturday, which left me feeling a little akward, but also afforded me with the ability to browse at my leisure.

I also saw a large selection of Koigu sock yarn which may be of interest to me on another trip; this time I told myself I was not going to be adding any new yarn to my sock stash! Mainly I was drawn to the unusual yarns with no labels. Looking through a box labeled Italian Cashmere, I found this:

It’s a subtly variegated lace yarn, and it didn’t come with a label. I bought two skeins thinking I might try to make the Hanami stole from Pink Lemon Twist.

I also kept going back to the box of yak and camel yarn, trying to decide what I could do with it. At various moments I had about 7 different colors in my hand, but I finally settled on two neutral shades that I thought I could strand together to make mittens.

A short train ride took us to our next yarn shop stop in Greenwich Village. The Point is a knitting cafe located on the charming Bedford Street that beckons you inside with its large window into the shop. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by a young woman behind the cafe counter. She could tell it was my first time there as I was openly gaping at both the delicious baked goods and all the yarn. She told me about the setup of the store and offered help if I needed any. There were several groupings of knitters within the small space, all knitting and chatting away. The atmosphere is very warm, friendly, and cheerful. And the yarn selection wasn’t half bad, either!

Here I am literally drooling over the sock yarn…Lorna’s Laces, Cherry Tree Hill, Claudia’s Handpainted, Alchemy, and a few others were calling my name. Instead of buying more sock yarn, I got a piece of luscious blueberry pie and sat down with my own sock in progress to contemplate.

Maybe it was the setting, or maybe I was just really hungry, but that was the best slice of fruit pie I have ever tasted. It didn’t hurt that I ate it while knitting in the sock yarn corner, either! I was also within easy view of this:

That’s Classic Elite Yarns Jil Eaton Minnow Merino. It’s a single ply worsted weight and that’s machine washable! I bought 2 skeins each of the fuscia and orange. By the way, isn’t that a fantastic way to display yarn? Not only is it visually stunning, it’s quite practical as well. The skeins don’t get tangled, mangled, or worn out from being on display. When you want to buy something, you just grab the hook and you’re good to go. They also had some metal baskets affixed to the wall by their bottoms, yarn stacked neatly inside. This is where they have all their Noro…

The whole time we were at The Point, I felt like I wanted to stay there forever. The staff were so friendly, the seating and knitters were comfortable, and it had such a creative, fun atmosphere. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, I would highly recommend taking your knitting and your sweet tooth and sitting for awhile. Maybe I’ll be there too.

That concludes my brief NYC yarn crawl. There are plenty more yarn shops to sample, and if you’ve been to any of them I would love to hear about it!