Monday, August 31, 2009

Knitting on the road

While we were driving hither and yon by day and watching exhibition football and perpetual "Law and Order" reruns by night, some vacation knitting occurred. Not as much as I thought, just as not as many books as I expected were consumed (and we won't even mention the movies we did not watch), but knitting happened none the less.

Pattern: Sunday Swing socks from knitty
Size: Large
Yarn: Fey fine fingering from Spritely Goods in "Coffee Pot Rock" colorway
Needles: US1 in 9" circulars and DPNs
Modifications: The pattern called for a plain stockinette heel flap, but I used a plain slip-stitch one

The pattern is great for those variegated yarns that call for stockinette when you don't want to knit plain stockinette. Also, the pattern provides directions and charts for FOUR sizes of sock. Unheard of!

The gusset was longer than other sock patterns I have encountered, including an extra knit round for each decrease and knit pair of rounds. I did not know if this was a typo (and there is a typo on the line right above the gusset section) but I went with it anyway, curious to see if the result would fit my flat feet better. And I believe it does.

There is also a line missing in the toe section, the knit one round direction, so while this is a great pattern for beginning sock knitters, they might be thrown by this little error.

I think my "Coffee Pot Rock" socks look better than the ones in the pattern, but I'm not sure I would use Fey fine fingering again for socks; it's a bit too fine. Since I was testing the 9" circs with this project, I thought the problem I was having was due to the needles, but when I switched to the DPNs, I had the same problem. The yarn felt slick and drapey, difficult to keep on the needles, and yet the resulting socks feel great on my feet. So maybe I would.

Besides the socks, I finished the last pair of mittens of my nine-pair commitment to Mittnz, but have not yet woven in the ends. Much progress was made on the entrelac scarf, which I finished knitting tonight. It also needs ends woven in, and then some blocking.

And after buying all that yarn, I could not resist starting a new project with some of it.

Yes, folks, those are the toes for a pair of TOE-UP socks! The skein seems a bit skimpy, so I forced myself to once again make the effort to conquer toe-up. Hopefully, the heels don't do me in.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Vermont Yarn Crawl (and Cemetary Tour) 2009

It sounded like a good idea. My SO and I planned to wander around Vermont for a few days, and to lend some structure to our ramblings, I made note of various and sundry yarn-related locations to drive by. I didn't want to disturb anyone or creep them out, but I thought following a yarn path would be a fun theme for our vacation.

First stop was supposed to be Firefox Fiber, which technically is not in Vermont, but it was on the way. We never did find it - we were on the wrong side of the mountain (thanks, Google maps) - but we did find this:

While I did not buy any Firefox Fiber there, yarn was purchased ...

... plus I bought Barbara Parry's new book.

Once we were in Vermont proper, we stopped in Putney at Green Mountain Spinnery. It was Sunday afternoon, so I was surprised to find they were open and that there is a small retail outlet there. Doubly surprised were we to get a tour of their operation. I wish I had a digital recorder because I can't recall all the details of the process. I do remember that GMS put the green in commercial spinning. Not only do they work with only natural fibers, they do it in an ecologically sound manner, and have been doing so for thirty years. Definitely ahead of their time.

(All mistakes in captioning the following photos are mine.)

Fleeces waiting to be processed:

Where the fleeces are scoured...

... and spun to remove excess water ...

... and actually put in a dryer!

Um... I forget what this does. Fluff the fibers?

Then a small room is filled with loose fiber.

Next comes the carding...

... to create woolen batts.

Pencil roving...

... becomes single plies with a Z-twist...

... which are plied with an S-twist.

Yarn is then skeined...

...and hand knotted.

Eric Robinson could not have been more helpful and friendly, so of course I had to make some purchases, including her own design for the Anatolian Flip.

Our success at GMS propelled us to Barton, home of Cherry Tree Hill yarn, one of my favorite sock yarns. Their web site points out that they are not open to the public, but tours can be arranged. Apparently not last minute tours, though, by tourists who show up unannounced near quitting time on a Monday afternoon. I could not charm my way past the reception area, but I did eyeball the hanks of gorgeous color that hung all around.

What we did learn on our trip up to Barton was that people say "Vermont is a small state" the way others say "Arizona has a dry heat." It is still hot in Arizona and it still takes a while to get anywhere in Vermont. That cooled my enthusiasm for the yarn tour.

And yet the yarn found me. Serendipitously, when my SO pulled over to photograph a restored train depot, I spotted this across the road:

Something I don't do at my LYS's is walk in and ask for local yarn, but that's what I did every time I came to a yarn store in Vermont. And I was rewarded with luscious finds every time.

I didn't always limit myself to local yarn, though. While working on my entrelac scarf in Noro Kureyon, I been making plans to purchase some Noro Silk Garden and try a few modifications to the basic pattern. And since a colorway I liked was there at K&B, I went ahead and bought it.

I spent so much that I got a free tote bag!

By now, the yarn budget was crying "UNCLE!" so I decided to limit myself to one more store. On our way to that store, however, we stopped in Middlebury for lunch, where what should we find but Vermont Beads and Fibers. It's a good thing I have not started adding beads to my knitting (yet), but I still came out of there with more local yarn.

I thought visiting the Ben Franklin Five 'n' Dime would be safe, but even they had yarn. I've been looking for the right shade of green cotton for an idea rumbling around in the back of my head. Lo and behold, there it was.

Plus a reversible red bandana that is going to line a denim suede bag I crocheted too long ago.

How lucky can I get? Well, lucky enough to find the Vermont Yarn Company, where my bankrupt yarn budget established a line of credit thanks to Visa:

This is where I learned about canning jar dyeing. Be still, my heart!

Believe it or not, I did NOT buy every skein of yarn I lusted after, but if there had been more of the canning jar dyed yarn, I would have purchased a sweater's worth.

My SO is an amateur photographer, and we visited several old cemeteries so he could photograph ornate headstones and statuary, so it wasn't all yarn, all the time. But he was the one who spotted the yarn signs, over and over again, thereby enabling my yarn addiction and forcing me to contribute greatly to the local economy. Plus he wants some new hand knit socks.

Actual knitting also occurred on vacation, but we'll leave that to another post.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

No FOs

Ironically, I cut my finger while using a kitchen knife to open a box of yarn. I found more Noro for my entrelac scarf. Yay! But like with most scarves, I am halfway through the knitting but mentally done with it.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

It's Laurie's fault

I tired of dishcloths, so I was vulnerable. "Entrelac" was on my learn-to-knit list, but a friend of mine tried it and ran into difficulty. Crazy Aunt Purl raved about her entrelac scarf, though, and I thought, If she can do it, I can do it. The pattern she followed used Noro Silk Garden, which I did not have, but I have Kureyon. The pattern also called for four skeins, and I have only two. But none of that stopped me. After a couple of confusing and awkward false starts, I was soon entrelacking!

Hopefully, I will be able to find more Noro in the same colorway, so I can complete this project.

(Um, notice that my plans to upload pix from Flickr has gone awry? Flickr is having problems today. Or maybe it doesn't play well with Chrome. That would bite. I don't want to use Web Albums.)

I have one more pair of mittens to knit for my personal commitment to Mittnz, but I had to cannibalize a pair of leg warmers for more yarn. The leg warmers, while cute, were unwearable, so it is no sacrifice. However, the Encore yarn has quite the stitch memory, so I am soaking the kinks out of it.

While not knitting mittens, I knit on socks.

I'm liking the pairing of the yarn colorway and pattern, and am still evaluating the 9" circular needles.

On the one hand, the needles are a bit awkward for stitches like k2tog and I did not like using them for the ribbing and I have to keep track of where I am on the round, BUT they are much faster than DPNs, presumably because there is no futzing around with four or five needles. So far, I give them a tentative thumbs up.

Seascape continues to wear me down.

I am only halfway through the first (of six!) repeats of chart B, and it is slow going. I'm contemplating investing in a new pair of Addi Lace needles to see if that helps. The points on the straights I am using seem dull.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The days are just packed

I've been wanting to blog for some time now, but - surprise! - there are only 24 hours in a day, and most of them are already spoken for. I have been knitting, just not finishing much. Seascape is kicking my butt, so I've retreated to making socks and dishcloths. I'm also trying to define a better process for handling my photos online. Once I figure that out, there will be pix. Promise.