Category Archives: events

Events

WIP Wednesday: Olympic Edition

I admit it: I’m a total Olympics junkie. I’ve been glued to the TV since the opening ceremonies, and I’ll probably be there until the closing ceremonies. This isn’t too good for the other things I need to accomplish in life, but it’s great for my knitting!

Ravelry has an event called the Ravellenic Games (formerly known as the Ravelympics until the USOC informed them that they had trademarked the -ympics suffix; I’m going to go trademark -ing and -es, so I should be set for life). I hadn’t planned to participate originally, since my summer schedule is so crazy. But then I got the bug, so I starting looking around for a project that I could cast-on and complete in the two-week Olympic period. I gave serious consideration (and massive swatching) for a cabled vest in some heavy-weight (i.e., quick-knitting) yarn, but then my Olympic fever came up against my other illness: Finishitis.

I have so many projects around the house, in varying stages of completion, that my husband mutters under his breath about “decorating with yarn.” (Really, isn’t that a brilliant idea?!) But fall weather is coming, bringing along a whole bunch of other projects I want to knit, and so I’ve been getting a bit anxious about all the unfinished projects that are still lurking about here. Hence, a bad case of Finishitis. It’s a Good Thing, though: In the past two weeks, I’ve finished up both my Linen Stitch Scarf and the Pinkerton Shawl (pictures to follow, as soon as I have time to photograph them properly).

Solemate socksBut back to the Ravellenic Games: When I was talking with my friend Carla about them, she said she was considering entering the “Sock Put” (an event name that made us both giggle). So when they lit the torch on Friday night, I picked up my Lorna’s Laces Solemate socks and got to work. Since I’ve been making this pattern up as I’ve gone along, much ripping and re-knitting has ensued. But I’m more than halfway up the leg now (working from the toe-up) so I’m hoping to bind off tonight or tomorrow. The second sock shouldn’t involve nearly so much frogging, so I’m hoping that one will go faster!

In the off chance that I get the socks done before the end of the games, I’ve got a PolarKnit hat that I need to finish, and the Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan is still lacking arms.

Are you working on a project for the Olympics? Or the Ravellenic Games? I’d love to hear about it!

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Happy 4th of July!

It’s Independence Day here in the USA. Happy 4th of July, American peeps!

Happy 4th of July!

There will be some grillin’ and chillin’ and probably a bit o’ knittin’ today around our homestead. Wherever you live, I hope you have something to celebrate today, too!

Beer at the Finish Line

I must admit that not much KIP happened for me on WWKIP Day. We rode 12+ miles on the hottest day of the year (so far). And although the scenery was awesome and the ride itself was great fun, I was totally beat by the time we made it to the finish line. Where, mercifully, they had—in addition to more of the cold water and gatorade we’d enjoyed at the rest stop—a couple of kegs of ice-cold, locally-brewed beer. Nothing has ever tasted so good. (Okay, it might have been tied with the store-brand Oreos they had at the rest stop!) We found a shady spot, collapsed in a heap, ate a few hot dogs and hamburgers to go with our beer (the kids got more water, since I was the hydration police), and tried not to think about the fact that we were going to have to get back on our bikes to return to the parking lot. My kids were real troopers, though. My son did his fair share of complaining, but he hung in there until the end (and being a kid, had a lot more energy on the home stretch than I did!), and the little one proclaimed, “I wuv bike wides!” (of course, she didn’t have to do much work, since she’s still in a seat on the back of Daddy’s bike).

I was too tired to even dig out the little WIP bag that I’d stuck in my bicycle basket before setting off, nestled beside extra bottles of sunscreen and water and spare tire inner tubes. At the last minute, I pulled out the sock I’d originally planned to bring and stuck in the Pinkerton Shawl that I’d started a year ago in some lovely Malabrigo sock yarn in Indiecita (which is one of those really awesome variegated colors that I pick up over and over, because it never looks the same, but it always looks gorgeous). I’ve cast on for this four times now. The first couple of times, I wasn’t happy with the needles or the fabric I was getting. Then my little one yanked the needles out, and it was easier just to start over. It’s a stockinette-based pattern, so part of my restartitis was trying to find a way to combat the curl a bit. I finally settled on working the first few rows and the last three stitches on the stockinette side in garter stitch.

This shawl begins with the longest side, and I think that’s part of why it’s been languishing in my WIP basket for so long. Most of the shawls I’ve done have you start in the top center and work down to the bottom hem. The rows get longer as you go along, but it’s so much fun to watch the lace pattern develop that I’m motivated to keep going. But a shawl that starts out on the long edge, in stockinette? Um, not so much. I told myself it was a great traveling project, but that just meant I had a good excuse to leave it in my knitting bag when I wasn’t actually traveling anywhere. As a result, my progress with this project has been pretty infinitesimal, which is a shame, because I think it’s a great combination of yarn and pattern. I did finally get around to adding a few more rows in the car on the way home and again today, as the kids and I celebrated the first official day of summer vacation by hanging out in the backyard by the kiddie pool and the sprinkler.

So I’m thinking that maybe some projects, like long, hot bike rides, need a cold beer at the finish line (or the next entrancing project) to keep me motivated. How about you?

WWKIP Day

What are you doing for World Wide Knit in Public Day this year?

As we did last year, my family is going on a bike tour tomorrow around Baltimore. I took along a pair of socks that I was working on for my husband last year, and did knit on them at the picnic after the ride. (Wish I could knit and ride at the same time!)

This year, I am planning on taking along another pair of socks:

 

This is a pattern of my own that I’ve been playing with for a while. The yarn is Miss Babs Northumbria Fingering BFL in the “Sugilite” colorway.

Today, though, I am working on the second baby sweater:

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I redid the stripes (using the more subtle green yarn), and am now up to working the ribbed buttonband. This has been a quick, fun knit, and the yarn (KnitPicks Comfy) has been much easier on my hands than the 100% cotton I used for the Scalloped Lace Baby Sweater.

What’s on your needles right now? Are you participating in any activities for WWKIP Day?

A good time was had by all…

I am still tired from Saturday’s marathon Sheep and Wool Festival. But oh my: Such fun!!

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock and Cephalopod Bugga!

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock and Cephalopod Bugga!

Carla and Hope and I met up at the gates at 9am, just as the Festival officially opened. We started out at the All About Yarn tent, where Hope went a bit nuts with Shalimar Yarn. Then we got about ten feet past that tent, and I got sucked into a couple of skeins of Cephalopod Yarn Bugga! (I’m totally blaming Hope for this one. Somehow we’re having a little challenge to knit up simple sweaters using only 760 yards of Bugga!) Then I was good… for a little while.

At lunchtime, we met up with another fiber friend, Claudette, and hijacked her to join our merry band. We waited in line for gyros for entirely too long, but they were sooooo good I can’t feel too bitter about the wait.

Spindle and Fiber

Spindle and Fiber

And then we went a bit berserk in the main building. I splurged on a Golding Spindle that I’d been daydreaming about. (And I think I sort of talked Claudette into buying one, too.) And such a pretty spindle deserved some gorgeous fiber, right? So you can totally understand my next two splurges: some Handmaiden merino/silk in a beautiful deep purple and plum and some merino/silk from Chasing Rainbows (at the Carolina Homespun booth) in drool-worthy shades of blues, greens, turquoise, and purple. Hope knits gorgeous intarsia sweaters, so she stocked up on a whole rainbow full of fingering weight yarn. Carla (like me) is a sucker for pretty sock yarn, so despite her best efforts to be good, one or two skeins found their way into her bag.

Signature needles and other tools

Signature needles and other tools

I’d planned to buy a US size 8 circular from Signature Needle Arts, but while I was in line, I talked myself into getting size 7 DPNs too. (And now I’m wishing I’d gotten the size 6 DPNs as well. These needles are just too addictive…)

Buttons!

Buttons!

Sadly, Moving Mud did not have the perfect buttons for my purple sweater, but she did have some gorgeous blue and green swirly buttons that I fell in love with. I had picked up some pewter buttons at the Bartlett Yarns booth for my green sweater, but maybe I’ll put those buttons on the purple sweater, and the Moving Mud buttons on the green sweater…

Miss Babs Yet Color Affliction kit

Miss Babs Yet Color Affliction kit

I had not planned to buy yarn to make a Color Affection Shawl. In fact, I’d sworn I wouldn’t. For one thing, I have yarn for a Stripe Study Shawl (also by designer Veera Välimäki) that I’d bought at MDSW three years ago that I still haven’t finished. And for another, the Color Affection Shawl is just so popular right now. Why knit what everyone else is knitting? Ahem. Well, I went into the Miss Babs booth and made the mistake of looking over at the Wall o’ Affection kits. And of course, I fell madly in love with one of them, in her yummy “Yet” lace (merino/silk). Sigh. I’m really just a lemming at heart…

I also bought another nifty notions case, a knit fixer tool (crochet hook on one end and a knitting tip on the other), and some highlighter tape that I’d been meaning to order online. And a skein of sock yarn at Cherry Tree Hill in shades of purple and magenta and teal that was just too pretty to leave behind. And I got some yummy almond honey and creamed honey from The Bee Folks to bring home for my husband (a total honey fanatic).

Trying out the Pocket Wheel

Trying out the Pocket Wheel

I was pretty good about more expensive fiber tools. I drooled a bit over the Ashford Knitters Loom. (And I got to meet Richard Ashford, which was pretty cool!) I carefully avoided making eye contact with the Ashford Joy Spinning Wheel. I did succumb to the invitation to try out a Pocket Wheel, though. Pretty neat! I’m a long way from buying a wheel, but I’d definitely keep this one in mind.

The day had started out quite hot and sticky, and despite generous application of sunscreen, my face and the back of my neck got a bit sunburned. Then a cool front blew through and threatened rain, but fortunately it held off. Not that some rain would have dampened our spirits!

By the time I got home, I was totally exhausted. I had just enough energy to get a shower and crack open a nice, cold beer.

Now comes the hard part… resisting all the pretty new yarn and projects calling to me! I need to get a few works-in-progress taken care of first. First up, finishing the scalloped lace baby cardigan…

I hope your weekend was full of fibery friends and fun, too!

Sheep and Wool!!!

This weekend is Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (known around here as just “Sheep and Wool!” in exactly the tone of voice that bold italics implies. Who, me, excited? 🙂

My parents in crime from last year, Carla and Hope, will be joining me again, and I think I’m looking forward to the girl time as much as the yarny goodness. Carla’s coming down tonight, and we’ll meet Robin at the fairgrounds bright and early tomorrow morning.

Since I’m already suffering from SABLE (Stash Aquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) or close to it, I don’t really *need* any yarn. Hahahaha. You know that won’t stop me from buying yarn! This year I’m also going to look at spinning fiber and maybe another spindle. I always love to look at buttons; so many neat glass and pottery buttons that you just can’t find at the local sewing store. And I’d like a size 8 circular needle from Signature Needle Arts. (I’d also love some double-points from them in larger sizes, if the budget allows. I only have their DPNs in sock sizes, but I love them. The pointy tips and the not-so-slick body make for a DPN that is easy to use and won’t slip out of your work-in-progress. Perfect for wrestling with a sleeve attached to a top-down sweater!)

Plus, there will be yummy gyros, men in kilts, loads of adorable sheep and alpacas to pet, and lots and lots of fellow knitters. What’s not to love?!

I hope your weekend is full of yarny goodness, too!

Sneak peak at the Haruni Shawl

Blocking Haruni

I had exactly 3g of yarn left and 18 beads when all was said and done, so yay for the scale and spreadsheet method—I was able to use up as much of the yarn as I possibly could.

It uses a crochet bind off that I hadn’t used before. Can I tell you how glad I am that I spent some time this winter learning how to crochet?! So much easier to wrap the yarn the proper way than the way I was doing it before. Pinning out all those tiny loops was slow going, but the end result was worth it. The finished shawl is gorgeous. It’s probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made.

Haruni up close

Haruni, up close and personal

It’s also almost impossible to photograph properly. The color is mostly a dark blue, but it’s not even close to solid, with varying shades of blue, gray, green, purple… The beads I used range in color from blue, green, purple, gold to black pearl gray. They pull out the colors in the yarn exactly as I hoped they would.

I got loads of compliments on it at the HYP. Many people were familiar with Sundara’s yarn, and apparently this colorway was in very high demand. (And everyone agreed that it was hard to photograph. Several people tried, and the results were about the same as what I’ve gotten. Here’s hoping a sunny day will help!) I lost count of the number of times people asked what the pattern was.

So I would definitely count this project as a success!

Projects and parties and spinning, oh my!

Yesterday was the Homespun Yarn Party, and it was a blast. It’s a small indie fiber fest, and it really does feel more like a party than a festival. My partner in crime had to cancel on me at the last minute, and I considered (for about twelve seconds!) just staying home and knitting on the sofa (which is generally a pretty good way to spend a rainy day in my opinion). But then I came to, thought about what I’d be missing, and hopped in the car.

Plus, I admit it… I wanted to show off my new finery! I finished both the Haruni shawl and the Lanesplitter skirt over the weekend. (More details on both to follow.)

I’d noted on the HYP website that they were offering free drop spindle classes. I’d purchased an Ashford Turkish drop spindle and some lovely fiber last summer at The Mannings, but hadn’t worked up the nerve to actually test it out. Since I was on my own yesterday, I grabbed it on my way out the door and threw it in my bag. The first class was just starting when I arrived, so I decided to shop first and catch the second class later.

The thing I love the most about fiber festivals, and the HYP in particular, is getting to talk to each of the vendors about their products. It’s one thing to buy some lovely yarn in your LYS or online, it’s quite another to get to talk to the person who spun it or dyed it or raised the alpaca it was came from! These are people who love the fiber arts so much, they’ve made a career out of it. They’re all so happy to talk about what they do and why they do it. Even if I hadn’t made a single purchase, just talking with them was inspiring.

But yes, I did made a few purchases. I told myself that since I had time to shop quite leisurely, I could circle the room once without buying anything, just looking. If something called to me so strongly that I kept looking back across the room at it, then I’d go back and get it. Yes, this approach meant that I might miss out on a few things. (I heard that there was a long line at the door before the HYP officially opened, and lots of things disappeared within moments. But there was still plenty to choose from when I got there, so I wasn’t sorry to miss the worst of the crowds!)

Sock yarn is usually my downfall, but it takes me so long to finish a pair (when I keep interrupting them to knit sweaters) that I have quite a stockpile already, so I told myself it had to be a really unusual, special skein to come home with me. There was a gorgeous skein from Ashton Studio Arts that I would have scooped up, but alas, it was already in someone else’s hands when I spied it. (They assured me that they’d be at MDSW with more skeins in that colorway.) That Clever Clementine had some lovely fabric bowls, but they were mostly sold out by the time I got there, so I’ll be keeping an eye on her Etsy store.

Neighborhood Fibre Company, Studio Worsted in "Easterwood"

My camera hates dark colors! Much prettier in person. (Neighborhood Fibre Company, Studio Worsted in "Easterwood")

My big splurge was at the Neighborhood Fiber Company booth. She had several skeins of her Studio Worsted (superwash merino) in a colorway named “Easterwood” which is an absolutely gorgeous dark green colorway with hints of dark blue. While I was admiring the color, Karida told me that she actually dyes the yarn periwinkle first, then over-dyes it with the dark green to get the gorgeous shading I was admiring so. When I looked closely at it, I could see hints of the periwinkle in the blue sections. I hemmed and hawed (how many sweaters’ worth of yarn do I already have waiting in my queue?), but then I decided that I couldn’t leave it behind, so I purchased two skeins (800 yards) for a top-down lace sweater with 3/4 sleeves. 

Drop spindle & fiber

Look, Ma! I made yarn!

Then I made my way over to the drop spindle class. Because it was later in the day and the crowd was thinning out by then, I was the only person who showed up for the second class. Can’t argue with getting a hands-on private class! I’ve been admiring this gorgeous bundle of merino and silk fiber since I purchased it, but I was too convinced that I’d ruin it to try actually spinning with it. But in no short order, Lauren had me drafting and spinning with my drop spindle. Yay! It’s not the most gorgeous yarn ever spun, but I’m having a blast experimenting with thicker and thinner yarns. Of course, my fiber obsessions didn’t really need any help. Now at festivals I’m going to have to go in all the booths that have spindles and roving, too. Oh, dear…

One of the other neat aspects of the HYP is its location. Historic Savage Mill is a former textile mill that has been restored and converted into an artisans’ village. The shops are truly unique, and I enjoyed poking around in them almost as much as the HYP itself! One shop that I made sure to visit was Bead Soup. I purchased some very pretty beads there last year (which were similar to but smaller than the ones I used on my Haruni shawl). This year I picked up some pretty glass, stone, and silver beads. Not quite sure what I’m going to make with them yet… stay tuned!

The day turned out to be pretty terrific. Learning to spin was a huge plus for me, and probably something I wouldn’t have done if I’d been with friends. All-in-all, it was a great experience. I’ll definitely be back next year!

If you’re a knitter, have you tried spinning? Is it as addictive as it seems to be??

Good news, bad news

The good news is… I got a chunk of knitting time in this weekend, and I am almost done my Lanesplitter skirt! I could easily finish it in time to wear it on Sunday.

So what’s the bad news? It’s supposed to be 70°+ on Saturday. Not exactly the best weather to wear a wool-and-silk knit skirt. 😦

See, this is why I prefer to knit cardigans. I frequently wear a cardigan in place of a jacket, since I can pull it on in the morning when it’s cooler, and then take it off and on through the day, as I’m inside or outside or dealing with overactive air conditioning, etc. They are really year-round wear for me.

I am thinking of trying a hurry up offense and finishing the Haruni Scarf instead. (And kicking myself for not finishing up the Tweed Vest, since it is a lace, button-down pattern that would go nicely over a short sleeve shirt this time of year…)

Argh. What’s a knitter to do?

The Genius of Shirley Paden

Well, life derailed some of my knitting plans last week. (Unfortunately, I am unable to knit teeth to replace the two that my son had broken or a new camera to replace the one that I managed to drop. Knitting is also very little help in preparing tax returns, although I find it quite effective to combat the stress of doing so, especially when combined with wine.) But even though last week wasn’t the best week I’ve had, the weekend ended on a fabulous note.

Knitwear Design BasicsOn Sunday, I headed up to the Knitting Boutique, a fabulous yarn shop in the Baltimore, MD, area, to attend a Knitwear Design Class with Shirley Paden. It was, in a word, incredible. I have Shirley’s book, Knitwear Design Basics, which I highly recommend if you’re interested in designing your own patterns. And if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to take this class, take it! It was wonderful to be able to sit down with Shirley and ask questions about the things that puzzled me.

To prepare for the class, we had to sketch out a design and knit a large (8″x8″) swatch in our chosen yarn & stitch pattern. I have a sweater’s worth of Miss Babs Yowza – Whatta Skein! in a gorgeous tonal purple (colorway “lilacs”) that I purchased at Rhinebeck last fall. I’ve been pondering the yarn for a while.

Cardigan Design Sketch

My terrible sketch. (There is a reason I majored in math and not in art!)

I knew I wanted to make a scooped-neck cardigan, something fairly simple and classy, that would go with either jeans and a tee-shirt or with slacks and pearls. I envisioned something that was mostly stockinette, with a little bit of lace on either side of the button band to add a feminine touch, with matching lace panels on the back. With my limited (!!!) artistic abilities, I drew out a simple sketch.

SwatchesI knit a couple of small swatches in stockinette, trying out various needle sizes. I decided that size 7 needles gave me a fabric that was nice and drapey, but not sloppy. So I knit my larger swatch with those needles. The lace portion proved a bit more problematic. I had seen a sweater that had a lace pattern that I liked, but I didn’t have that pattern to refer to, so I had to do a bit of detective work (and a ton of swatching!) to work out a lace pattern that I was happy with. (Interestingly, I did eventually stumble across the other pattern in a book at my LYS, and I discovered that I’d approached the lace pattern quite differently… and I liked mine much better!) Unfortunately, I ran out of time to make a large swatch in stockinette and the lace pattern, but as I was able to get a full-width lace panel in my smaller swatch, I think it will work out fine. I blocked both swatches as I would the finished sweater; I treated both to a nice, long soak in Eucalan, then spread them out on my blocking boards. I did run blocking wires down the sides of the swatches, to minimize curling, but I didn’t pull them tightly, just patted them gently into shape and let them air-dry.

A note on swatching: Shirley advocates knitting a really large swatch, at least 8″x8″. She says that you hold the needles and manipulate the stitches differently for a large swatch than you do for a small swatch, and you want your knitting experience to be as close to the actual project as possible. This approach agrees with what I found with my Lanesplitter swatch, so I’ll be doing this in the future!

Shirley Paden and me

Shirley Paden and me (no, I have no idea what was going on with my hair or why it was so asymmetrical that day)

I took my sketches and my swatches with me on Saturday to the class. Shirley Paden is both a lovely woman and a dynamite teacher. She walked us through all the calculations we’d need to taper a sweater at the waist or the sleeves, transition from a border at one gauge to a sweater body at another gauge, or evenly bind-off along a neck edge. (Knitting math, yay!) Along the way, she shared a ton of advice and knitting standards that we can use to create our own patterns. At the end of the class, we had a few minutes to take our measurements, so we can customize our pattern for a perfect fit.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted (the time change and losing an hour of sleep didn’t help!), so I put on my jammies, knit a few rows on the Lanesplitter, and called it a day. I have to finish up some of my current works-in-progress, and then I can dive into designing this cardigan in earnest!