May 26, 2008

Let's pretend it's still May for a moment

Damn, I've been busy. In a good way, but enough so that I've barely had time to knit, let alone blog. So belatedly, here's my Mass Sheep and Wool Roundup...brought to you by the letters "I-S-U-C-K-A-T-B-L-O-G-G-I-N-G-R-E-G-U-L-A-R-L-Y."

When we got to MA Sheep and Wool, it was immediately obvious we were among our people. Even in the parking lot...


Fleece on earth. Good wool to ewe. Nice.

Once inside, there was plenty to see. But I think the most impressive thing of all was Jenny's mad spinning skilz. My introductory spinning pamphlet said spinning can feel a bit like trying to rub your belly and pat your head at the same time.

Well, fuck rubbing your belly and patting your head, I want to be able to do this...
...Spin AND WALK simultaneously. She's kind of my hero. Also, in the intervening weeks, she has handspun some seriously impressive yarn (scroll down).

We took a break to fortify ourselves with "taco in a bag," arguably the single best festival food in the world, adorably spokesmodeled here by Jenny and blog-free (but super-crafty) Suzy...


We made friends with some fiber animals...


And came really close to talking Sarah into taking this one home. Doesn't she look happy? Doesn't she totally deserve a bunny of her own? And Jenny and I would be more than happy to take all that spinnable fiber off her hands.

Oh yeah, speaking of spinnable fiber...Meet The Sheep Shed's merino, one-half pound of billowy gauzy delight....I can make a whole lot of lumpy yarn with half a pound of merino.


And 4 oz. of Sliver Moon Farm Superwash Merino Tencel roving. Which could totally make pants-crappingly gorgeous sock yarn, were I a hugely better spinner than I actually am.


And since I clearly have a lot to learn before I can make my own sock yarn, I also picked up a skein of "Bambu" from Ancient Threads Farm...


I know I say this all the time, but this is my new favorite-est yarn. It's dyed entirely with natural dyes (turmeric, osage, cochineal, etc) and is so beautiful I have it on my coffee table so I can stroke it several times a day. Let's take another look at it, shall we?


The nice lady at Ancient Threads mentioned that she gets all her dyestuffs from Botanical Shades, who just happened to have a booth at the festival, too. So I'm now the proud owner (co-owner actually, with Jenny) of a natural dye starter kit, with enough natural dye extracts (and mordants and such) to dye ten pounds of fiber.

Now if only I had ten pounds of undyed fiber...

I'd better get crackin' on that.

Regularly scheduled blogging, reading blogs, commenting on blogs, actually knitting, etc. to return in a week or two.

May 24, 2008

Six things I learned at WEBS

I had the supreme pleasure of going to WEBS again today. I know not everyone is so incredibly lucky, so I thought I'd share some of my acquired wisdom.

1. Knitters are awesome (though I knew that already).


2. I am a twelve-year-old boy (not exactly breaking news either).


3. When you want to knit a sweater, the WEBS annual sale isn't just a happy coincidence.

For months now, Kelley has been professing her love for the Must-Have Cardigan, in florid, romance novelesque terms. Coincidentally, I thought it looked like an especially fun knit, but had no desire whatsoever to actually wear it.

And so a plan was born - I would knit the sweater for her! In whatever color she wanted! Enter the WEBS annual sale, with particularly steep discounts on several ideal sweater wools.

I firmly believe it would be just plain irresponsible to ignore that kind of sign. Clearly, the knitting fates wanted me to buy a shitload of yarn.

4. You're gonna need a longer list.

I hoped my list would act as some sort of magical talisman last weekend, to keep me from being overwhelmed by the enormous quantities of reasonably priced wool. And it worked! Though having a really, really long list almost certainly helped with the whole "sticking to the list" thing...


Last weekend's purchases, left to right:
- Burgundy/pink Cascade 220 Heathers (a sweater's worth)
- Brown/red Cascade 220 Heathers (a sweater's worth to keep me from getting bitter and envious about the yarn I bought for Kelley)
- Valley Yarns Huntington (one skein each chocolate brown and pale rose)
- Classic Elite Alpaca Sox in what I think of as the "Shag Me Rotten" colorway

Destined to be Kelley's cardigan, something fabulous in cables for me, the Endpaper Mitts and awesome, respectively. The awesome sock yarn was the only thing that wasn't on my list. But, DUDE, alpaca sock yarn discounted over 30%. And it looks like this:


5. New yarn makes all your old yarn seem stupid.

After the first WEBS trip last Sunday I wanted to abandon every single one of the new projects I started recently. To make matters worse, today's WEBS trip was just a detour on the way to MA Sheep and Wool. And I already love today's newer new yarn way more than last weekend's new yarn.

Plus, baby's got a brand new spindle and some sweeeeet new fiber to play with (more on that later).

Thankfully, being a knitter (and currently flirting with at least three different socks herself), Kelley probably understands that her sweater might never actually be finished take a while. Which brings me to the last thing I've learned...

6. Teaching your friends to knit is always a good idea.

May 18, 2008

Almost certain temptation

My friend Kelley and I are off to WEBS today. The sheer quantity of that much inexpensive tweed wool can be overwhelming, but I have a list and a plan...

I'm prepared. The girl scouts got nothin' on me.

May 10, 2008

And so it begins...

Because there's no such thing as too much yarn, I decided it was about time to start making some of my own...


It's overspun, uneven and lumpy, and I love every single inch of it. Because it has something that no other yarn in the world has: I made it.

May 8, 2008

Why yes, I can convince myself of anything

Thanks to everyone for their get well wishes. I’m doing well, back at work and all, and finally wearing regular pants with an actual waistband which is super exciting.

The main lingering side effect seems to be a scorching case of startitis. I’m pretty sure they didn’t mention that in any of the many consent forms I signed, so I’m guessing those forms were not written by knitters.

So, what have I started? Well, a sock…


Standard sock recipe, in Meilenweit Megaboots Stretch Ultra, 72 stitch cast-on, size 2 needles. Lovely. Still totally charmed by the Megaboots’ subtle color shifts, just as I was the last two times I used this yarn.

And a sweater…


The Sienna Cardigan in Berroco Ultra Alpaca, in the smashing Oceanic Mix colorway. I’m knitting the 48” size for my 38” self, to accommodate using yarn with a wildly different gauge than the pattern calls for. Loving it so much.

Besides their obvious inherent charms, why, you may ask, am I working on these instead of one of my (many) existing WIPs, which have many charms of their own?

You see, I’m naturally prone to startitis. The first few inches of a project are almost always pure joy. New yarn is so exciting! Lookit the pretty colors! Wow this is the best pattern EVER!

Then the first flush of infatuation wears off... And I start looking longingly at my Ravelry queue…Lookit! Colorwork! I love colorwork! Maybe some nice colorwork mittens! And oo, what a pretty shawl! And I coud really use a basic stockinette sock to carry around in my bag! And I’ve never made a cabled sweater! And, gosh, I’ve always meant to learn how to embroider tea towels! And…! And…! And…!

You get the picture. It takes enormous self-control not to be knitting the first two or three inches of approximately eleventy million projects simultaneously. I do tend to have at least two or three “active” projects at a time. Which may explain why I rarely actually finish anything. Ahem. Anyway…

Despite this natural (and, I like to think, charming) tendency to abandon projects mid-way, I’ve been plodding along fairly faithfully on my two main projects. But both of them have pissed me off recently. I screwed up the Callisto shawl (again) and need to either frog a few rows or execute some sort of daring lunatic fix in which I drop stitches and fix several rows involving poorly executed YO-SSK combinations. This seems unlikely to turn out well.

Simultaneously, mom’s first sock has been reknit, sans heel and toe (I heart you afterthought heel and the way you don’t break up the color repeats), but I have definitively run out of yarn before knitting either a heel or a toe. So annoyed. More yarn is on the way, but I’m in a fight with this sock right now.

Fiddly shawl fixes and ill-behaved yarn-greedy socks are so not what you need when you’re recuperating, right? What you really need is to cast on a new blue sock with the new wool your awesome coworkers sent you. IMMEDIATELY.

Also, someone that really wanted to relax and get into the spirt of convalescence would probably also start knitting, um, a cardigan. Yeah, that’s it!

Yes indeed. I’m starting new projects For My Health.

May 4, 2008

So that's what vestigial means

It started Sunday with a wretched stomachache. By Tuesday night, I was wearing an assless robe and a surgical intern who looked about 19 was prodding my belly while the reassuringly older attending surgeon informed me that an appendectomy is a "chip shot" as far as surgeries go. I don't know what a chip shot is, but I decided it had to mean "so easy the 19 year old could perform it one-handed, after a night of tequila shots and keg stands".

In between, I spent many hours waiting for assorted tests, and have never in my entire life been so grateful that I happened to have a good book and my knitting on hand. Also, that thing about always wearing clean underwear is totally true. Because you never know when you might be having an emergency appendectomy.

The knitting in particular entertained both this librarian-in-training and the kindergartener sitting next to me, who was spending her sixth birthday in the hospital, waiting for her mom's CT.

Now, I'm not exactly fond of kids, but she won me over almost immediately by being completely and utterly entranced by the knitting. So entranced was she that I finally just taught her to knit, using the heel flap of my mom's sock. Any knitter knows that using size 2 DPNs in the round, with inflexible splitty bamboo-cotton yarn is not the easiest way to learn how to knit. But learn she did, executing perfect knit stitches almost instantaneously after I showed her the basics a few times. I was seriously impressed. Who knew kids were that smart?

I've never had surgery before, and chip shot or no, being in the hospital pretty much blows. Recovery, on the other hand, has been a pleasure (except for the pain and exhaustion part - that part sucks). Megan of the dainty feet picked my newly-appendix-free self up at the hospital and stayed over for a few nights to fetch me food and juice and happy pills, and to yell at me when I tried to overexert myself. And as a totally unexpected bonus, BFF Quinn was in New York for a conference and offered to take the bus down to Boston to share in convalescent duty. They were the best caretakers one could possibly imagine.

Plus, my coworkers sent fabulous food, flowers and wool, and a knitty get well card (gotta love working for a cookbook publisher that's crawling with knitters). My boss was nothing but nice about my unexpected absence. Many of my SNB ladies called and emailed to make sure I was ok and to wish me a speedy recovery. I've been completely amazed by the thoughtfulness of everyone around me. And very, very thankful.

Knitting content returning soon. I've got some pretty new wool to show off, after all.