This Week

This is the week! The much-anticipated, long dreamed of week that my new yarn shop opens for business! Deep breath…

I’m feeling a lot of excitement, a little bit of anxiety when I look at that seemingly endless list of to-do’s, some vulnerability about putting my dream out there for public consumption, and a whole lot of gratitude that I get to live that dream.

Last week I hosted a sneak-preview stitch night for some of the Ravelry knitters in the area. It was a great turnout, full of the friendly faces and excited yarn shoppers. This was the first time Stash had been open to non-family members or close friends, and it was exciting and humbling to receive such an enthusiastic response.

This blog is going to remain a chronicle of my personal knitting life, though I’m sure some business talk will creep in now and then. To stay in the loop about the happenings at Stash, check out the new shop blog, website, Ravelry group, and Facebook Page.

Have a great week!  I’m hoping to be back here on Wednesday for Yarn Along.  I have some knitting (a very little bit) and lots of reading to share.

Autumn Rocks

This post contains images and information concerning the September 2009 Rockin’ Sock Club Shimpent.  Proceed at your own risk.

Even though I haven’t been knitting socks recently, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmingly excited to receive the most recent shipment of the Socks that Rock club yarn.  Autumn is my favorite season, and I had high hopes that the colorway would be representative of all the beautiful seasonal changes.  Would there be rich golds, dark greens and spicy oranges?  Or fiery reds and deep browns?  And what about the pattern?  I have been less than ecstatic over the patterns the club has offered this year, and have actually only knit one with the matching yarn and pattern.  The others will likely be split up, using the yarn for different patterns or vice-versa.

When I opened this month’s package, I held my eyes closed until I had the skein of yarn in my hand.  Then I opened them slowly, anticipating the moment of discovery.  And when I finally had my eyes open, what I saw was an ashy beige and burnt orange yarn.  I uttered something articulate along the lines of “Ugh….” before moving on to the pattern.  Same reaction, I’m afraid.

So I left the package on the table overnight, steeping in my disappointment.  I have plenty of yarn and projects to knit, I reassured myself.  This isn’t the be all and end all of my fall knitting.  Eventually, I logged on to Ravelry to see what other sock clubbers had to say about the shipment.  And lo!  People were loving it.

Spurned on by something like peer pressure to reexamine the yarn in question, I went back and took a closer look.  Indeed, there were more colors subtly blended in among the orange and tan I first saw.  Take a look for yourself.

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  • Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock medium weight in River Rocked

The colorway really speaks to the colors of fall as seen near water, touching on the colors of foliage, stones, and water together.   It’s probably not something I would have immediately gravitated toward, but after taking a second look, I think it’s lovely.

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  • Pattern: Knetted by Cat Bordhi

I have never knit a Cat Bordhi pattern despite wanting to for some time now.  I think this looks like a good opportunity to delve in!  And the pattern is knit from the top down, so there won’t be too many new ideas for me to get my mind around (hopefully).

There are a couple of projects in my knitting basket that need my attention, but for the first time in months I’m thinking about casting on a pair of socks!  Then again, I also have lace shawls on the brain…

Sha-Kon-O-Hey

Well, it happened again.  I went out of town and this whole blogging thing really slipped my mind.  Of course, I didn’t take my laptop to Tennessee, assuming our cabin in the mountains would not have any sort of Internet connection.  Knitters, was I wrong!  Not only did this place have wireless, it had a hot tub, a flat-screen television in every bedroom, and super comfy beds.  This was not exactly what I had pictured when we decided to join in on a family reunion in the Great Smoky Mountains!

At sunrise
At sunrise

I took a new knitting project along with me, hoping to have a break through and get excited about knitting again.  To do this, I turned to an old friend, Ishbel.  Though I had made the pattern before, it turned out a little small and I wanted to try again in a bigger size.

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Time spent away from TV and the Internet left me with plenty of moments with the kids, or knitting on the porch in a rocking chair enjoying the Sha-Kon-O-Hey of the smoky blues.  I was able to finish the stockinette portion of Ishbel and was feeling pretty excited about it.

Then I got home and back onto Ravelry and well…let’s just say I got distracted.  Add the bible of fall knitting, Interweave Knits, into the mix and I am in a conundrum.  What to knit?  I feel uninspired by socks for the moment, something I didn’t think I’d say just a few months ago.  The overwhelming urge to knit anything for baby hasn’t hit yet, though I keep looking at patterns and my stash… That leaves me thinking maybe I should knit myself a cardigan for fall/winter, something that buttons at the top and drapes open a la Juliet, Shalom, or Liesl.  Any suggestions?

And just for fun:

Giant pickle at Dollywood...who could resist?
Giant pickle at Dollywood…who could resist?

Have a great weekend, y’all!

In the Home Stretch

Hello, knitters!

I just wanted to put out a quick post to let you know that I am alive, knitting, and still on the road.  We are in the final leg of our journey, living it up in Cincinnati, OH.  Our hotel has free wireless (yay), but I left my camera in the car which is in long term parking in a garage across the street (boo).  So no photos to entertain you with just yet.

Just know that I have found a yarn shop in every state we have traveled to, I’m in the home stretch on a sock, and I finished the first sleeve on my grey sweater.  There is forward motion all around me.

I am going to get over to Ravelry now…it’s been far too long.  And while I’ve been stoic around Sweetie about not being able to check it regulary, it has been sorely missed.  Are you like that?  I’m dying to see who has queued what from the new Spring Knitty, catch up on friend’s blogs, and see what’s shakin’ in the forums.  See you soon!

Like A Virgin: Rhinebeck For the Very First Time

It’s true: I was among the masses at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival on Sunday.  And it was my first fiber festival ever, let alone my first time to the infamous Rhinebeck.

Was it everything I had imagined it to be?  Yes, and then some. Where else can a person pose with bipedal sheep?

Sweetie and I arrived just after 10 o’clock in the morning.  There were still acres of parking and we walked right it without waiting.  After entering the gates we both just stood there for a moment, taking it all in.  I was a little overwhelmed, and couldn’t decide where to go or what to see first.  Sweetie guided me into the nearest building and said “Let’s just go up and down through all of them.”  Quite a statement for a non-knitter, wouldn’t you say?!

Before lunch I didn’t buy any yarn at all.  There was just so much to see that I couldn’t really focus on any one thing.  Other knitting accessories did catch my eye however, and I came home with a new sock project bag and a circular needle case from go-Monkey Design.  Sweetie and I picked out a great print from the artist Conni Togel called ‘Dare to Be Different‘.  I also picked up this beautiful, completely unnecessary sock needle holder from Autumn House Fiber Works:

It’s already proven useful while knitting my Show-Off Stranded Socks (rav link).

The atmosphere at this festival was one of friendship and mutual excitement over all things wooly.  There was a plethora of Ravelry swag roaming around, and I was constantly scanning people’s buttons to see if I recognized anyone’s user name.  There was even a moment when I said to a complete stranger: “I need to touch your sweater.”  Under normal circumstances this could get a person punched in the face, but at Rhinebeck she just smiled and proceeded to tell me all about the pattern and the colors she chose.  Wonderful.

Lunchtime brought us to the Ravelry meetup, where I ran into some friends from my Stitch ‘n Bitch group.  After several polite photos were taken, I asked people to pose silly for me.  Thanks gals!

From left to right we have: Yankee Lagniappe, Mad Knitter, Me, KnelleyKnits, WifeMomKnitter, Kim, Denise, and CostumeChick

This was the place where another woman and I were eyeing each other’s Ravelry buttons when we simultaneously smiled and recognized one another.

It’s reader Lizzzknits! Isn’t her Kauni sweater beautiful?  She was very nice, and encouraged me to go ahead and take that leap into sweater knitting.  I hear November is Knit a Sweater Month, so I might just give it a try.  Hope you made it home safely, Liz!

Then we had a large group photo, complete with Ravelry Royalty down in front: Casey, Jess, and Mary Heather.

Are you in this photo?  If so, please leave a comment and say hi!

I eventually was able to buy some yarn.  I was hoping to see something that I’d like to knit a sweater out of, but it was difficult to take your time and really look at things as the fair got more and more crowded.  I did come away with 3 single skeins of gorgeous yarn:

Martha smells sheep and rabbits!

Clockwise from the front: Holiday Yarns Flock Sock Sock Yarn in Bubble Gum, Cranberry Moon Farm Homespun, and Jamie Harmon handspun/dyed merino & angora.

Overall my first time at Rhinebeck was a great success.  I saw a lot, but left a lot unexplored for next time.  Yes, there will definitely be a next time! For now I am content with the experience and looking forward to utilizing my new yarn and accessories.  It just may take me a year to recover from all the fun I had!

**All photos that had me in them were taken by the infinitely patient and supportive Sweetie, who is welcome at Rhinebeck or Stitch ‘n Bitch anytime**

Let the Games Begin

Needles?

Check

Yarn?

Check

Pattern?

Check

I am officially ready for the 2008 summer Olympics to begin. Yarn in hand, I will join thousands of international athletes competing for personal knitting glory! My goal: finish a pair of socks in 17 days.

Will you be watching the opening ceremonies tonight? Will you be knitting while you do it? Then you are an Olympic knitter! Some things to consider before casting on:

  • Stretch. It is important to properly stretch your muscles (mental and physical) before competition begins. It would be a shame to get all the way to the Olympics and experience a set back due to hand cramping or improper reading of the pattern. Be sure to put the knitting down between events to stretch your hands, shoulders, neck and arms.
  • Proper refreshments. Depending on climate, be sure to have plenty of rejuvenating (caffeinated) beverages on hand. It may also be necessary to refuel frequently with nourishing items such as popcorn, cookies, ice cream fresh vegetables and whole grains.
  • Comfortable seating. Change position at regular intervals to prevent muscle cramping. Provide yourself with adequate back and leg support.
  • Minimize interruptions. No one calls an Olympian on the phone while they’re competing. No one runs alongside during the 100 meter dash asking to be fed, played with, or loved. If at all possible, send your significant others out of town for the next 17 days so that you may focus completely on your goal.
  • Surround yourself with other athletes. No one understands what you’re going through like another competitor. Attend your knitting group, get together with other knitters one on one, troll your favorite blogs and websites looking for tips, advice, and anecdotes.
  • Have fun! While this is a competition, it is meant to be a whole lot of knitting fun. So don’t take yourself too seriously along the way. Stay flexible with your plans and don’t push yourself to extremes. Challenge yourself kindly and with permission to shift your goals and expectations along the way.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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?



Knitting Probation

Do you know how much yarn you own?

I didn’t. I just knew I had a basket full of sock yarn and a box full of all my other yarn. My stash count on Ravelry is up to 42. This hasn’t really bothered me before. Yarn is a beautiful thing to be surrounded by, especially if it is stored in such a way that it can be enjoyed. But my beautiful box of yarn, the one that was organized by yarn type and color, is now filled with bags of knitting.

I currently have 8 unfinished projects, works in progress, and hybernating items. Whatever you want to call them, they’re there, draining my knitterly spirit of the will to knit. It’s just too much!

Here is everything I am working on, with the percentage completed:

  1. Embossed Leaves Socks–50%
  2. Diagonal Cross Rib Socks–50%
  3. Morning Surf Scarf–60%
  4. Spiderweb Capelet–25%
  5. No Plastic, Please market bag–40%
  6. Kittyville Hat 80%
  7. Garter Stitch Scarf–50%
  8. TKGA Master Level 1 Swatches–5%

And so it is with determination and resignation that I make the following statements:

I will not cast on any new projects for the rest of April…even when I finish one of my works in progress.

I will not buy new yarn in April.

I used to be the knitter that had no stash and knit one thing at a time! Now, excitement clouds my sense of order and I cast on new projects with abandon, with little thought of the effect on other projects already in progress. My devolution into this chaos has been fairly rapid, and can be directly linked to my participation in Ravelry and my recent knitting cruise. There are just so many great patterns and yarns out there-how do you manage to remain calm when inspiration moves you to start knitting something new?

And now this: self-imposed knitting probation.

Just for fun, I added up the yardage of my stash yarn. Here’s the count:

12,252 yards

36,756 feet

6.9613 miles

That’s taller than Mt. Everest by 7,727 feet! I think I may need some oxygen up here.

I look forward to sharing some finished objects with you very soon. Only 23 more days in April!!!

The Spirit of Spring

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens

Easter weekend was beautiful here in New England. It was still very cold, but the sun was shining through bright blue skies, promising that the warmth of summer will return. All that sunshine went to my head, and I thought it was time to buy some spring flowers and cast on a new spring colors knitting project.

First, the flowers I purchased. It’s still too cold to leave them outside overnight, so they are brightening up my house in the meantime.

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White hyacinth

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Purple & white pansies

Next are the flowers that have been brave enough to show themselves through the old fall leaves and frosty ground in my garden:

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I think these are called snowbells…

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Purple crocus

I find these spring bulbs so heartening, little promises that life goes on after the harshness of winter. They are little bright spots in my day, and I find joy in discovering the new life popping up in gardens all over town.

Spring has not only brought new flowers and longer days, but the urge to cast on new knitting projects as well. I have fought this urge back a few times in the past couple of weeks. There was a time when I wanted to start a bamboo tank top, or a skirt even. But I convinced myself that those garments were a little too optimistic. After all, the sun is shining but it’s still freezing out there!

And so I decided to cast on a simple drop stitch scarf in a new yarn I love. It’s the Jitterbug superwash sock yarn I got a few weeks ago. I have been eying it daily, admiring its freshness and colors that echo the new flowers in my garden.

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The pattern is Morning Surf Scarf by Jackie Erikson-Schweitzer. I cast on 66 stitches instead of 76, hoping to stretch my one skein of yarn into a good length scarf/wrap for myself. It’s a pretty easy knit so far, which is exactly what I need. My more complicated projects have been languishing in my knitting bags.

Yesterday I decided to challenge myself to NOT look at any knitting-related websites all day. I have fallen into the trap of doing more reading about knitting than actual knitting lately, and while that has been a pleasure, I need to get back into the practice of daily knitting. So, whenever I thought to myself “I should look that up on Ravelry” or “I wonder if Yarn Harlot has a new blog post,” I made myself pick up the scarf. And it worked: I got about 4 inches done yesterday!

My next tactic is to allow myself to only check these sites once a day, instead of twice like I usually do. And finally, I am going to try to alternate working on this drop stitch scarf and my 2 pairs of socks in progress in a way that will allow me to finish them as soon as possible. I have yet to establish this master plan, however…

How do you manage your unfinished objects?

What is your strategy for completing projects?

Procrastination Vacation

Dear readers,

I will be going into holiday hibernation tomorrow. We are loading up the car and heading to Michigan for 10 days, and I cannot make any promises as to whether or not I will be posting. Right now I am writing when I should probably be packing provisions for the trip. I would rather be looking at knitting sites and writing here than thinking about how cold it will be in Northern MI and how many pairs of thermal underwear I should be packing.

The in-laws do have wireless at their house, so I could take my laptop…

All the presents have been packed and stacked by the door with care:

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We always try to gift lightly, meaning we try to buy small, easily transportable gifts for family who are traveling (ourselves included). Things that can be put in the checked baggage and will survive a cross-country flight, for example. And I always hope to leave Christmas at my in-laws with less than we arrived with. This never seems to happen, however, and while I appreciate their generous gift-giving, I can’t let go of the year they gave us a queen size bed-in-a-bag. We were flying home for Pete’s sake! Oh, the number of times we’ve had to ship boxes home to ourselves because we couldn’t get them home on a plane… Fortunately for us, we’re driving this year, so the loot can expand to fit the confines of our car.

There’s always room behind the front seats for my knitting bag, I make sure of that. I will be taking the slow-going Easy Flame Lace Scarf, the yarn and pattern for the Citrus Yoke Pullover, and the Jaywalker socks I started this week.  Yes, I have reluctantly jumped on the Jaywalker bandwagon, but after some research found that it’s probably the best pattern for the yarn I already had.  So what if I’m a knitting lemming, joining the thousands of people who have already cast on.  I’ll just have to accept that some things are popular for good reason, and this may be one of them.

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Jaywalker Socks by Grumperina in Knit Picks Felici in Atmosphere

This is the first time I have knit with this yarn, and it is wonderful so far. It’s a superwash merino/nylon blend, so it’s soft, a little bit stretchy, and the color is wonderful. I plan on making these for a friend’s birthday in the first week of January. Since I must be one of the world’s slowest sock knitters, I plan on working almost exclusively on these while away, damn the conseqeunces!

I have run into a couple of snags while knitting the cuff of the first sock, and can’t decide if I should frog back and start over…

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Can you see what I’m talking about?

It’s there, on the right hand side of the sock: my imperfect stitch counting on the decreases. This is a simple knit 7, kfb, knit 7, sssk pattern, but for some reason I had trouble lining up my decreases in the beginning. Also, the ribbing is super stretchy, and since my friend does not have elephantiasis of the leg, I’m a little worried. The ribbing stretches farther than the leg; is this a problem? Should I knit the ribbing in smaller needles and switch when I get to the stitch pattern?  Should I ignore it and keep a knittin’?

I think I can put off packing a little bit longer while I look this up on Ravelry

Happy Holidays!