28 May 2007

Quick post, project pr0n.

As promised, here are the sock pictures... along with some gratuitous yarn pr0n.

I spun some Corriedale, then I plied it:

Along with my many projects, I made a niddy-noddy out of a baluster and a dowel rod. I sanded the living bejeezus out of it, and I will probably stain it at some point. Here is the niddy-noddy sporting the color-corrected plied Corriedale:

Last post I wrote about the Exchequered scarf. I am happy to report that I started out following the pattern, and then branched off and started knitting my own random pattern. Here are the results thus far:

It's Chancellorific!

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for....


That's all for now... arrivederci!

23 May 2007

Socken Diagonal Rib...

are finished!

I know, it's been a while. It's not that I have Second Sock Syndrome--far from it. I found that after I finished the first sock, I was really excited to start the second. Plus, the actual time spent knitting Sock 2 was far less, since I had already memorized the pattern and, once past the cast-on, had become used to working in the round on dpns. Finding the time to work on Sock 2 was the most difficult part.

This is due to:
1) Spinning. I have been engaged in a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde self-debate over spinning. Some days I love it; other days, when I'm trying to spin a super-fine single and the damn yarn keeps breaking off again and again and AGAIN, the best I can do is say, "Expletive yarn, expletive wheel, expletive Corriedale--knitting you're cool--and I'm out." Unfortunately, spinning is sort of like having that ex... it wasn't always good--but when it was good, it was REALLY good... and one more time won't hurt... The key difference is that when spinning pisses one off, one is not tempted to pick up spinning's clubs and drive golf balls through every window of its apartment.1

2) Side Projects. After getting out of my medium-term relationship with the Hearts and Stars blanket, I rebounded with several flings. For the record, none of them were named Rhonda. Don't tell the Diagonal Rib Socks that they were rebounds, and that I'm going to break up with them as soon as Christmas rolls around and mail them to one of my dear friends. I prefer to just tell them that they're going on vacation and drop the unsuspecting little socken into the FedEx box. Besides, they don't know that I've been knitting around with this sexy little scarf number called Exchequered. Published in the Spring 06 issue of Knitty, this pattern by Alice Bell has won me over.

First off, it's double-knitted, so I don't have to knit in the round or seam anything up at the end. It's deliciously double-sided, and knit all at once. Seriously, it's almost magic how double-knitting churns stuff out (as Princess Jasmine might say, "It's all so magical!"). Second, it's baby alpaca and silk. Third, it's khaki and blue. Fourth, fifth, and sixth, it's baby alpaca and silk. Seventh, and finally, the pattern is just nifty. I'm debating whether to give this as a gift, or give this as a gift to myself.

A big thank-you goes out to the friendly lady at Misty Mountain who warned me about alpaca socks. I was going to knit Eunny Jang's Entrelac Socks (from the Spring 07 Interweave Knits) out of this baby alpaca. She explained that alpaca socks were just too hot to wear on anything but the very coldest of winter days. Maybe I'll knit some for my dad and brother for when they go duck hunting--alpaca, not entrelac.

I just realized that I've become sidetracked while writing about side projects. Moving right along to....

3) Non-knitting projects. These include 3 Black Angus calves and a whole lot of gardening. Here's a picture of Black Angus Calf 3 interacting with Dutch Belted Steer 1:

Mom, aka Dr. Doolittle, gets upset when I refer to them as "Nascent Hamburgers."

Bought 2 roses last Saturday called "Moondance." It's a perfectly-formed bright creamy white floribunda rose that holds its shape as it blooms out. Its light, slightly spicy scent reminds me of "Princess de Monaco," one of my favorite roses which is all but impossible to find now. I did a little research and found out it was a 2007 All-America winner... and no wonder it's such a great rose, with Iceberg as a parent! Iceberg makes a great tree rose; it's hardy and resistant to blackspot and powdery mildew, as well as a prolific bloomer. I know, this is a knitting blog, but roses are my first love... so deal with it; there will probably be more to come about roses this summer.

But, here's what you've been waiting for:

[diagonal rib socks picture]

As you may have noticed, there is no picture. Hopefully I will get one up soon. I wrote this entry a week ago and still haven't had a chance. Like I said, I've been a bit busy... but stay with me, and eventually, there will be sock pictures. And pictures of the scarf in progress. Promise.

1. As we have learned previously, this is also the key difference between blonde and brunette bombshells: while the blonde will throw her martini in your face, the brunette will throw her martini--along with several other smashable things--against the wall. (See "Brunette Bombshell Tantrums," page 19, cf. Rita Hayworth).

18 May 2007

I has a mittenz for teh kiddiz!!!111!

Heard about a good cause on Sheep Shots (via Rabbitch)-- knitting mittens for the children of the Cheyenne River (Lakota Sioux) Reservation in South Dakota, USA. Ann sez, "Situated in one of the poorest areas of the United States and also one of the coldest in the winter, Cheyenne River is home to many, many children." The goal is to knit 7 pairs of mittens by 1 October. I'm always glad to do stuff for charitable causes (I have a part-time job volunteering for a non-profit), but I'm a little anxious about this. I'm ready and willing to jump into new knitting projects -- but what if my mitten knitting just sucks? The photo that keeps popping up in my mind is this one, from icanhascheezburger:

Then I realized: doggie's mittenz are not knitted. That is why doggie does not like its mittenz. Everybody knows that mitted knittenz are teh roxxor. OMG i knittz teh kiddiz 1337 mittenz to match teh scarf!!!!1111!

Whew. Apparently I spent too much time looking at the Worth 1000 1337 photoshop contest...

10 May 2007


As you may have guessed, my stash is getting a little out of hand. Most of the yarns have their territories staked out: the baby alpaca sits proudly on the top shelf, secure and serene; the cotton hanks are piled in neat stacks according to color and type; the coarse wools are huddled into a cramped corned in the back of the middle shelf. With each new addition, however, the bookshelf becomes more crowded--and the natives are restless.

The Cascade Fixation threatens to tumble off the edge at any moment. All it needs is a slight push from the worsted-weight camel down, whose territory is currently under threat from several skeins of lace-weight June cotton. The mercerized Egyptian cotton is rankled by encroaching pima cotton/modal skeins, which in turn are being forced out by the sudden population bloom of Noro Silk Garden. There's a rumor that the recycled sari silk is on the floor because the merino sock yarn heard that its knitted sari-scarf project was finished and promptly deposed it--however, at the time of questioning by Knit Goddingdom authorities, the sock yarn denied all involvement. Sadder still, the yarn that would be one of the jewels of my stash, my new Prime Alpaca from Misty Mountain, is currently taking shelter in a plastic bag on the floor, huddled against common rovings.

As the leader of Knit Goddingdom, my responsibilities include the welfare of all yarns in my possession. I can no longer allow yarns to sit neglected for months on end, waiting in hopes that one day they might be chosen for a project, spending their spare moments hanging out at the corner doughnut shop, becoming gradually derelict--like so many socialites in St. John ditching their David Yurman for dog collars, getting tattoos and taking up graffiti in absence of lunches to host and charitable organizations to run. I must send these yarns to better homes and higher uses. It is a tough decision, because yarn is like fat on one's ass: so easy and fun to gain, so difficult (and sometimes painful) to remove.

I have requested to join Destash. I am going to go through my stash and select some pieces I can most bear to part with. I don't want to get rid of any of them... but... c'est la vie. I'll post more about this when I actually have stuff up for sale.

08 May 2007

Saturday at Sheep and Wool

A _____ sheep. Starts with a C.

When I returned home from MD Sheep and Wool, I knew how Scrooge McDuck felt diving into his Money Bin. I resisted the urge to toss bits of roving up in the air and burrow through piles of it like a groundhog.

But, let's start at the beginning. I set my alarm, woke up early and drove out to the fairgrounds with time to spare. It only took about 30 minutes to get there, and I wasn't sure if I'd have to queue up to get in or what, and I'd rather be early. I'm not much of a crowds person (says the woman who went to Sheep and Wool). I understand that the public isn't allowed until 9am to allow vendors time to set up and get settled and all that... but as it was open, I wandered in and started looking around.

Although I was not mindful of it at the time, this is the exact point when it was a good thing that I withdrew a set amount of cash from the ATM prior to arrival. At that point, I saw Misty Mountain Farm's tent [link]. And my eyes locked onto a long, lofty skein of gorgeous grey tweed.
The color grabbed my attention; the softness made me grab my wallet. I bought two skeins of their Prime Alpaca. The price wasn't even a consideration. I wanted it, and that was all there was to it. It was the yarnaholic's first taste of fiber; I did not fall--I leaped off the wagon and hit the ground skipping in a yarn-drunk delirious haze.

C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, now touch me babe...

The next tent I wandered into was Apaca [sic] Fun Fiber Works, where there were yarns and objects in colors that did not interest me. Then I saw, waving in the breeze, delicate tendrils of vanilla-colored roving peeking out of their light blue bags. I touched. I wanted. I bought. Three ounces of 70/30 camel down/silk roving went into my shoulder bag.

New mission in life: become good enough spinner
to spin this fiber so I can knit it into a scarf and wear it
almost continuously (except while bathing) during the winter
until it disintegrates like a toddler's baby blanket
and I can pack the shreds away in acid-free tissue paper
and reminisce about what a marvelous fiber it was.
Or, um, I'll knit it into a scarf to give to one of my friends.
One of those.

This was followed by half a pound of Leicester Longwool from Grazing Herd Sheep & Wool Co [link] in a gorgeous French Blue. A split second later, I grabbed the remaining two pounds in that dye lot. I didn't know what I was going to do with it; I had a vague idea of what it would look like spun up; I had a clear and definite vision, however, of it going home with me and us being extraordinarily happy together.

Imagine me and you, I do...

Then half a pound of cobalt blue 100% merino top.

Then half a pound of sky blue merino top.

Then two skeins of Peacock [ratio here] merino/tencel from Stony Mountain Fibers. [link]

oh, god. I'm the Hunter S. Thompson of the fiber industry.
"We had three ounces of camel down, two bags of merino,
two and a half pounds of Leicester Longwool,
a whole bag of multicolored Corriedale, and I had a feeling we'd
be getting into the Tencel blends pretty soon."

As I put my selections on the counter, I took a glance over my shoulder at the wall of Corriedale roving, sorted according to color. Like a candy store with the big tubes of M&M's, you grab a bag, fill it with what you want, and then pay a flat fee per ounce. I dashed back, grabbed a bag, and started pulling out the cotton-candy roving -- blueberry, indigo, cobalt, light blue -- and as I stuffed the bag I envisioned a gorgeous plied yarn, or at least spinning random bits of each color in succession to make a multicolored single-ply yarn.

I looked at a textile dealer who was selling new kilims, hand-woven from vegetable-dyed yarns. I was seriously tempted to buy one... as I have started to collect antique Turkish rugs and textiles. I usually get them from my godmother, who is a textile expert--and since this one was new, I had no idea of whether it was a good deal. That, and I wasn't sure whether haggling was allowed. In Turkey, it's customary -- but does that apply when buying Turkish goods in America? I decided not to buy it. After all, I was there for yarn and roving.

I went to the main exhibition building. I tried on some gorgeous shawls from The Textile Museum, but didn't buy. They're right off... one of the Metro stops... so I can go by there anytime.

I bought some pretty Brittany needles from Woodchuck Products, along with one of his hand-turned orifice hooks in Cordia. I completely forgot that a pretty wooden niddy-noddy was on my to-buy list--I would have liked to buy one from him. I have his catalog, so perhaps I still will. I had a brief conversation with a delightful lady in line with me about how she had been buying his products for years, and said that whenever she knitted or spun with them, she felt good. I can understand it.

Knitting with pretty needle increases your skill level. True.

I was so excited to see Morehouse Farm Merinos' booth. I had been eyeing their Crinoid Shawl online for a couple months, and put it on my "to buy" list for after S&W. However, instant gratification, especially when unexpected, is so much sweeter. Crinoid Shawl kit in a beautiful deep crimson lake is mine!

Then I visited Marilu, my spinning instructor. She's a wildlife artist and had all sorts of pretty scratchboard drawings and watercolors and paintings of sheep and other animals for sale.

My stomach started rumbling at that point, so I wandered into the screen-doored building where the Boy Scouts were selling sausages and sandwiches. Next to the Boy Scouts was a man selling hand-made sheep milk cheese.

On a one-to-ten scale, my love of cheese falls somewhere slightly short of a Wallace and Gromit-level obsession. It's one of the chief reasons I'm so fond of France--what's not to love about a country that's home to over 200 types of cheese? Anyway, I was a bit skeptical, as the man selling cheese didn't have any samples to try. When you go into a cheese shop in Paris, for example, you get to try it before you buy it, and the people behind the counter move about in their white lab coats to carefully select exactly the right cheese, testing them to decide which is ready to eat. I grilled the patient cheese man on the flavors and styles of his cheeses. I demanded particulars on the Metsovo's taste relationship to Gouda, and the Fromage Blanc's taste relationship to Manchego. Satisfied, I handed over my last $100. I bought a hand-molded lump of Metsovo cheese, a smoked cheese that tastes very much like Gouda at the beginning, but quickly develops a complex and powerful tang, and finishes smoothly. Here's a picture I took Tuesday morning... I guess you can tell I liked it:

Next was Fromage Fermier, a semi-soft basket-molded cheese wrapped in paper, with a natural mold rind.
If it's covered in mold, it must be good!
(Incidentally, that was the motto of my alma mater's food service, Aramark)

Last was Fromage Blanc, a wheel of hard, sharp red wax-covered cheese.

With the change I bought two roasted leg of lamb sandwiches from Greene's lamb on the other side of the aisle, had them wrapped up to go, and walked back to my car.

The change was astounding. There were people lined up 60 deep just to go into the barns where I had already wandered freely and purchased fiber. As I walked through the entrance gate, I was the only person going out, and a hundred or so were going in. Where before there had been four rows of cars, the entire field appeared to be full of parked cars, with new arrivals streaming in the drive and slowly circling around them. I had no idea so many people were coming. I was glad I was on my way out.

**Editor's Note: There's even more to this entry that I could write about the wonderful farmers/shepherds I met and in general about how friendly people there were, but that's for another post**

I stopped by my LYS and rented a spinning wheel. The owner said she had had people from New York and Michigan stop by the store who were in town for Sheep and Wool. Crazy. I bought yarn for Bryan's hat and called it a day.

You might be surprised that I didn't buy anything fuchsia. I was on a blue kick this time around. A few months ago it was lavender. Who knows what color will grab my fancy next. I hear there's another fiber festival somewhere in Virginia this fall... I had better start spinning!