Friday, March 31, 2006

Men make plans and God laughs...

...or, Mary and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.
(Here's the part where I made plans):

You see this bag? It's taunting me.

( The wine is for scale. And maybe for comfort.)

This is the bag I bought at Target on Tuesday, a bag suitable for train travel, or so I thought.

In this bag, in preparation for my trip to Baltimore on Wednesday, I managed to fit the following:

* One Toshiba tablet PC & powercord - to read client documents on train
* One computer mouse
* One ethernet cable
* One digital camera - to capture sights while on train
* One mp3 player - to play music, on train
* One set, Bose headphones - to drown out unwanted noise, on train
* Two knitting projects - to keep hands busy, on train
* Two magazines - to keep mind occupied, on train
* Three books - to lose self in story, on train
* One notepad & pen - to take notes at client meeting (not on train)
* One wallet
* One small makeup case
* One set, car keys
* One cell phone
* One sandwich, granola bar and bottled water - to stave off hunger, on train

(Can you tell I have a pathological fear of boredom?)

So, I was pretty damn proud of myself that I could fit all that in one bag for a daytrip, with plenty of room to spare, and not have to carry a separate case for the laptop. Patting myself on the back, in fact, for such brilliant forethought and planning.

(And here's the part where God laughs):

I missed my train.


Let's just say that I'm an effin' idiot and leave it at that.

And so, what had been planned to be a great day of train travel, knitting, reading, music, sight-seeing and general relaxation before my meeting, was instead a morning of frantic driving up I-95, around DC on the Beltway to Baltimore and Columbia, MD. (So close to where MS&W will be in a little over a month's time. I saw no fiber Wednesday, however).

And then an afternoon of driving home in stop-and-go, Beltway mixing-bowl rush hour traffic. Ugh.

To say I was a little peeved at myself is a like saying that Laurie was just a little miffed at those hoodlums in Paris.

So, then, because insult must always be added to injury where my life is concerned, I was sitting in that afternoon stop-and-go traffic, still periodically kicking myself for ruining my own day, when I looked down and noticed that my state inspection sticker had expired. And I looked to my right, and there was a state trooper next to me.


She saw it too.

Pulled over. $25 ticket. Did I mention that I was an idiot?

All this for a 90-minute meeting with the client.


But I try not to dwell on the negative. After all, I made it there and back safely, without injury to myself or to anyone around me. Despite the traffic, I still made it home in three hours, in plenty of time to watch the latest episode of Lost. And finally get some knitting in that day, (when I should have had a good six hours of it).

And all of that is just a segway into my showing you some sock progress:

Do you think this "Baltic Sea"...

*** reminiscent of this Baltic Sea?

In closing, I do hope God had a really good chuckle on Wednesday at my expense. And if He did, I won't hold it against Him.


Thursday, March 30, 2006


This is somewhat late notice, but there's even more knittiness happening this weekend in Virginia Beach, if you don't mind the drive and/or plan to be in the area.

Go here for more information.

Blue Heron Yarns Trunk Show

Don't miss out!

I realize this is free advertising for one of the six LYS's in the area, (and I promise I get no kick-back for this), but I couldn't not let the word out, since I love the vendor's yarns, as you may recall from a previous post.

Anyway, I got this in my Inbox today:


April 1st and 2nd

We are pleased and excited to present a Trunk Show

featuring Blue Heron Yarns,

Saturday, April 1, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. and

Sunday, April 2, Noon – 4:00 p.m.

Demian, of Blue Heron Yarns, will be present to talk with you about this wonderful yarn. He will be bringing models, kits, and patterns.
If you have not previously seen or worked with this yarn, you are in for a treat! It is the most beautifully hand-dyed yarn, in the most luscious colors, you have ever seen.

It comes to us from our neighboring State of Maryland.
We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Mary Jane and the Staff
Contact Information:
phone: 804.740.1838
So I'll surely be stopping by there sometime this weekend.
Maybe I'll see you there!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Late night phone conversation...

... with a friend in the Pacific Northwest:

Debbie: So when are you coming out to visit me?

Me: How about sometime this summer, when it's hot and miserable here. It'll be cool and nice there and a real relief from our weather. So find out when you can take some time off and let me know.

Debbie: Cool.

Me: Okay, well, I have an early morning train trip to Baltimore tomorrow so I'd better go to bed.

Debbie: Train?

Me: Yeah, my first time. It beats driving the six hours roundtrip, and I can read or knit or whatever I want.

Debbie: You knit?

Me: Yes, I told you this -- I learned last July.

Debbie: Knit me some socks.

Me: I'm actually learning to knit socks right now, and wasn't sure who I would give these to, so they will now be for you.

Debbie: Hey, I went to an alpaca farm up here recently. They have alpacas everywhere up here. I bought some hand-knit alpaca socks. They are so HOT, though -- they make my feet sweat.

Me: Yes, I'd heard alpaca is a very warm fiber. I've also heard that it's fairly delicate, so I hope yours was spun with something else, or you'll have holes in those socks before too long.

Debbie: The friend who came with me on the alpaca farm trip thought alpacas were Indians [Native Americans]. When we got to the farm and saw our first alpaca, she said, "What's that?" I had to explain it to her.

Me: That's hilarious. So, what did she expect -- Native Americans plowing fields?

Debbie: I don't know, but we got a good laugh. Hey, if I got you some alpaca fur, could you make me socks from that?

Me: Well, being as I've only tried spinning once in my life, you might get better luck with some already-spun yarn.

Debbie: Knit me some socks. Scarves I have. Socks are what I want.

Me: Yep -- I'm on it.

So, now I have a recipient for my socks, and I know she'll be appreciative. And I have someone to tour alpaca farms with when I go visit her. Fun!

I've known Debbie for almost twenty years -- she's one of my closest friends, and one of my very few fellow single friends. I told her when she moved away that she was taking 50% of my single friends with her. It didn't stop her, though. I miss her. She's my sushi buddy. There are very few people I know in town who'll go eat sushi with me at the very best sushi place in town.

But I get to visit her this summer. Yay!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sock Stuff

When last I reported on my sock progress, I mentioned that I had somehow added an extra stitch and wasn't sure how to fix the problem, but hoped Bess would be able to help me the following day when we met for my spinning lesson. Bess did not disappoint, and lent her invaluable expertise while we were eating lunch at the LGBG teahouse. Turns out, for Magic Loop sock knitting, (and maybe for DPN sock knitting, too -- I don't really know), at the beginning of each side, the working yarn needs to be pulled up between the needles, rather than down and behind the back needle, otherwise it wraps weirdly around the cord of the circulars and will fake you out, making you think there's an extra stitch when you get back around to the end of that side. Sherry (my sock instructor) showed me this in my first lesson, but I'd conveniently forgotten. Now I know why it's important!

I've since knit about 1¼" of the ribbed cuff, and am trying to decide how much more ribbing I want before I switch to stockinette for the rest of the leg. Anyone have any opinions as to the length of cuff ribbing? I'm thinking I might stop at about 1½", but wouldn't mind continuing on until 2", if there's any advantage to that.

Here's a peek at my progress:

I love this yarn. Who'da thunk I could love browns and greens so much? But Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock "Baltic Sea" is just lovely!


You may recall that in preparation for my first sock lesson, I was on a quest for a nice sock yarn to use, and was curious as to what were some favorite yarns of the experienced sock knitters out there. I emailed a few sock knitters I knew, and also posted a question out on the Sock Knitters forum, and from that hit the mother-load of great sock yarn recommendations. I finally compiled all of that information into an Excel spreadsheet and am pasting an abbreviated list here, for your edification. If anyone would like a copy of the spreadsheet, email me at maryklarson [AT] comcast [DOT] net, and you'll get a two-tabbed workbook, the second tab containing a third column with everyone's (anonymous) comments about their particular favorite yarns.

click image ^ to make larger, or email me for the spreadsheet

After researching a lot of these suggestions, it occurred to me that I wished I had asked for recommendations for non-wool sock yarns, as I am hot-natured and don't wear socks all that often, so want them to be cool when I do wear them. Amy at Knitty, known for her lack of fondness for wool, offered a couple of helpful suggestions, but I wanted more. Not to worry -- the venerable Grumperina (Kathy) has also been seeking such information, and has started to compile a decent list of non-woolly sock yarns, to which she'll be editing continually, as appropriate. Thanks for that effort, Kathy -- much appreciated here! I'll be returning to that list often.

It's been fun immersing myself into this unique sub-genre of sock knitting. I hope I still feel this way when I start turning my first heel!


Friday, March 24, 2006

Fun Times in Rivah City!

Yesterday was one of those days that makes life worth living, ya know?

I finally got to meet the lovely Bess in person, and at none other than one of my favorate places in town, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, (hereafter referred to as "LGBG"). Bess was every bit as nice and fun and interesting and sweet as I expected, (and perhaps more so), and I'm thrilled to have found another new friend. I look forward to running into her again in two weeks at the Spring Fiber Festival, where she'll be teaching a drop spindle class. Those are some lucky students she'll be teaching.

But yesterday it was I, (me, me, just ME!), who was the blessed recipient of my very own private drop spindle spinning lesson!

Look at the great starter kit I bought from Bess:

She even picked out a kit for me with teal (TEAL!) rovings! Whoo-hoo!

A close-up of that adorable spindle:

Bess stained hers with a nice wood stain, leaving the sheepies their original unstained color. I'd like to do something similar, but perhaps stain the sheep a contrasting, but lighter color. Bess also recommended cutting two notches in the sides for the yarn to go. I may need some guidance on that part....

We were both too busy during the lesson to stop for action shots, but I did take a picture afterwards of my very first hand-spun:

And my lovely instructor:

Look at her beautiful hand-knit E.Z. sweater she's wearing!

Our lesson in LGBG's conservatory was followed by lunch in LGBG's teahouse, which was de-lish, (limeade, crab-n-pepper soup, oriental beef salad, brownie-a-la-mode), and we left shortly after that to go fabric and book shopping. Bess got some great fabric for her dress she'll be making to wear at the SFF, and at Books-a-Million I found (and bought) a book I've been waiting for months to be released:

A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Here's a slightly closer shot of my very first spun and plied yarn:

See - I'm already making fancy nub-and-slub yarn! ;-)

And here's the world's smallest ball of yarn, all 24-inches of it:

Anyone have a pattern for two-thirds of a yard of yarn? ;-)

I'd like to spin up all the white and then Kool-Aid-dye it with the Blueberry color. Or maybe a green. Or Bess recommended Black Cherry. I'm excited by the endless possibilities. And especially by the new craft I've learned, and the great new friend I've made.

Thanks a million, Bess, for a great day! :-)


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring has Spru-- (whuh?)

Nothing terribly earth-shattering to report in my world of knitting, but I'll share a picture from last night's knitting group -- the lovely ladies of TNK, (aka Tuesday Night Knitters):

No "Trollopes" this week, as we were not sitting in that part of the cafe -- perhaps next time. Sherri, on the far right of the picture, helped me cast on for my first Magic Loop sock last night. I got a whole round completed before it was time to leave. (At this rate, the socks will be ready by next Christmas). She also gave me my very own customized pattern from her Sock Wizard software -- pretty cool!

Tonight I knit a few more rounds on the cuff, but somehow, while watching "Lost", (I should know better than to knit during Lost), I added a stitch somewhere, so I may have to frog everything, or my ribbing will be off. Those darn tiny stitches are hard to see! I may have to get new glasses! It doesn't help that there's little contrast between the muted colors of the yarn and the silvery Addi Turbo needles.

On my way home from B&N last night it started to snow. Just flurries. Nothing sticking. I came inside and probably half an hour later there was about a half-inch on everything. And here's how it looked this morning:

It was all melted by noon, and the day pretended like it had never happened. Such is Spring in Virginia.

Tomorrow, the gracious Bess is coming to town for the sole purpose of teaching me to spin, (drop spindle -- too soon for an out-and-out wheel lesson!). It's going to be a fun day and I'm pretty psyched, I must say! So I guess I better get to bed and get my beauty (HA!) sleep.

(Hey -- maybe Bess can help me with my sock!)


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dear Lorna's Laces,


(An email I sent to Lorna's Laces last night):


Hi there,

I realize that with hand-dyed yarns there's going to be some differences in colorways from lot to lot, but I'm just curious about the color swatch of "Baltic Sea" you have displayed on your webpage, which is so far removed from the "Baltic Sea" I've recently purchased, I would venture to suggest that you might consider creating a brand new name for the color scheme that "Baltic Sea" has become.

Please see attached photos as examples -- one of your website's color swatch of "Baltic Sea", one of my knitted swatch of that yarn. Wouldn't you agree that they are very far removed from being the same colorway?

I do not send this email to complain in any way -- your yarns are just lovely. I am just concerned for those who purchase their yarn on the internet and get something completely different from what they expected. It appears that either the colorway has drifted quite a bit, or else the colors are not represented very well on the webpage.

Just an observation.

Thanks for listening.




(Their response to me this morning):


Thanks Mary!

We really appreciate the input. I think the issue here has more to do with the website image than with the yarn you are knitting with. In order to correct that, we are in the midst of revamping the site. All the new photography was done the week of March 6. Now it’s in the hands of the keyliners, retouchers and web magicians. With any luck, we’ll have the new images up in the next couple of weeks.

Best regards,

Beth Casey
Lorna's Laces Yarns
4229 N. Honore Street
Chicago, IL 60613
773.935.3803 ph
773.935.3804 fax

Now that's what I call customer service!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sock Swatch

(This report is a week late, thanks to all of Blogger's problems this past week, and add to that a busy weekend on my part. Better late than never!)

At last week's "Tuesday Night Knitters", Sherri gave Sheddy and me a lesson on knitting a sock swatch via the Magic Loop method. And here's my swatch:

(I'm glad it's just a swatch and not my actual sock cuff, 'cause it's sorta sloppy.)

I've since emailed Sherri my gauge numbers and shoe size and she'll be cranking out a sock pattern to bring to me tomorrow night. And then I get to start my first real sock!

If you were paying attention, you may notice that that is not the yarn I originally purchased for the socks. I just don't like the original yarn enough to use for my very first pair of socks, but I'll hang on to it for some future pair. (Or maybe I'll return it -- I don't know yet.) But the above yarn was just so lovely, I now understand why people wax poetic about it. It is none other than:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in "Baltic Sea"

One thing about this sock yarn: I've noticed from surfing other blogs where this yarn's colorway was used that the colors vary significantly from lot to lot. Some lots have more teals, blues and purples, (the swatch on the Lorna's Laces website looks nothing like my yarn),

whereas my yarn leans toward browns, beiges, and pale greens, as you can see. But I still like it. Such lovely yarn, such lovely colors. Now I understand what all the fuss is about. In my opinion, if you're going to knit something as challenging as a sock, you better like the yarn you're handling. And I like this yarn -- I think it's well worth the cost.

As with the previous week, I didn't get many pictures taken during our knitting group time because I was busy knitting! However, Jane did an admirable job, as usual, of documenting the evening, and so I nominate her the unofficial historian. ;-)

And not only that, Jane and Sheddy were also last week's "Trollopes of the Week". Here they are, wrestling for the honor of top Trollope:

You'll have to ask them who won!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Erin Go Braugh!

The St. Paddy's Day washcloth/dishcloth is finished, just in the nick of time!

My brother, Patrick, whose birthday is today, (really -- what other name could he have?), will be receiving this, among other things, tonight at his party.


And what's this -- the state of Virginia in fabric? Nope -- it's my new Strauch Ball Winder from Lawre's Laine -- yippee!


And my new "Mama Bear" swift from the Oregon Woodworker, with my newest skein of Blue Heron Yarn's Rayon Metallic in Heather, ready to be wound. (Fear not -- I did move it off the floor to the table).


And this is my beloved Casey, (who likes to be called "Kay-Kay"), inspecting my progress. I believe she approves.


I guess I'm somewhat "challenged", shall we say, when it comes to tools, because it took me almost three hours to wind that freakin' yarn into a ball, which ended up being two balls, because at one point the yarn got tangled around the base of the ball winder and I had to pull the entire ball off to untangle it and then ended up having to cut it and start a new ball. Meanwhile, the yarn on the swift kept getting caught up under the legs of the swift because the tension just wasn't quite right. I blame this mostly on operator error; however, the jury is still out on whether I like this swift or not. (The ball winder, on the other hand, is fab-u-lous).

This would be my recommendations as to how to improve the design of the swift:

1) Make the post upon which the arms sit quite a bit longer, so that any dangling yarn doesn't get caught up under the legs.

2) Drill more post holes in the arms, to allow for more options for tighter tension for various skein lengths. In this case, the farthest holes were too far; the second-farthest holes not quite far enough.


Finally, apologies to anyone who attempted to read this blog within the last 24 hours and were taken to an "HTTP Error 403" page -- that mother-effin' Blogger had !#$%^&* techical issues again. Let's hope they've resolved all their hardware problems for the foreseeable future. You get what you pay for, I guess....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


...finally, Blogger is working with me. And here's the progress on my shamrock washcloth:

the edges are sorta squished 'cause the fabric is wider than the needles

Thanks to everyone who commented back when I asked for advice. I decided not to frog it after all, and just pulled those stitches tighter on the next rows. I guess I have tension issues between my knits and my purls. If this were a garment, I might be more concerned, but it's a doggone washcloth, after all -- why sweat it? I will also follow the recommendation to machine wash and dry it, which supposedly straightens out the stitches even more. I have also noticed that this yarn's dye is leaving some of itself on the tips of my bamboo needles, which tells me the washcloth definitely needs to be washed before I give it away.

I found the pattern on a great website called Dishcloth Boutique. And earlier today I stumbled upon another cool dishcloth pattern website called Knitting Knonsense. They even have another, different (easier!) shamrock dishcloth pattern here:

Wish I'd found this one first! Oh well -- the first one was good practice for me with its seed stitch and yarn-over-purl-2-togethers. Maybe I'll have enough yarn left over for this new one, too. Maybe....

'Night all!

Things I Hate...

...with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns:

1) When Blogger, after about 20 attempts, still won't let me post a single mother-effin' !#$%^&* picture to my blog, for whatever reason. (If you are having similar issues today, please let me know so that I know I'm not alone!)

2) Billy Mays. If murder wasn't immoral or illegal, I'd seriously consider hiring someone to put him out of our misery. Or at least render him speechless. For life.

3) Acrylic yarn. Even before I started knitting I learned the hard way that sweaters knit with acrylic yarn look like crap after just a few wearings/washings.


Normally, I'm a pretty easy-going person, (or at least I'd like to think I am). And I was all set to show an updated picture of the progress I've made with the shamrock dishcloth/washcloth I'm knitting, as well as some new yarn pr0n, but, alas, it is not to be, today.

Damn blogger.

Monday, March 13, 2006



Seriously, though -- I had never heard that word, Qiviut, prior to my learning how to knit. But I am now fascinated by this very spendy, very hard-to-find luxury fiber, combed from the underwool of the artic musk ox. (No wonder it's hard to come by).

At about $75 a pop for a roughly 200-yard hank, I can't see myself knitting up whole sweaters in the stuff, but I would like to try it sometime, for a scarf, perhaps.

I recently stumbled upon a Qiviut knit-along, and although, as of this writing their blog hasn't seen any activity for a few months, there are still some good resources there -- namely, online Qiviut retailers and Qiviut-appropriate patterns.

As I type this, it's 82-degrees outside (bleh), so the thought of handling the "warmest of fibers" is not particularly appealing at the moment, therefore allowing my wallet to dodge a bullet, at least until another day. In the meantime I've been surfing around looking at some fantastic silk yarns, and so far, the best I've seen are sold under the Fleece Artist and Handmaiden labels. Golly, a girl could go broke over those yarns!

However, if your heart still belongs to the four-legged animal fibers, I leave you with this webcam image from Mountain Shadow Llama & Alpaca farm in Vermont:

And yes, they dye, spin and sell Qiviut, too -- gotta love those colors!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

What Happened?


Last night I cast on and started knitting the shamrock dishcloth I mentioned yesterday. I was knitting it while watching "Celtic Women" on PBS. (If that couldn't give me good knitting karma, nothing could!) And I was plugging along fine, slowly but surely, and ended on row 13 before going to bed. This afternoon I picked it up again and knit a few more rows. I'm doing this on straight needles and the cloth is wider than the needles, so it stays scrunched up and is hard to monitor my progress as I knit. After today's few rows I moved the piece to a circular as a stitch holder to take a closer look. And alas, I discovered the following:

It's starting to look like a shamrock, and isn't half bad, unless you look closer....


What's this???


A little closer....


Extreme close-up


So where did I go wrong? That ladder is definitely not part of the pattern. I haven't dropped a stitch. What's going on? This is only happening on one side of the shamrock -- the other side looks fine.

I suppose it's a good thing this yarn is green, since I'll be frogging back most of my progress tonight. But I don't want to re-knit it until I know what I did wrong. Any insights, oh ye wise knitters?


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Today's Stash Enhancements...

...or, Apparently, Money Grows on Trees.

First of all, another hank of the lovely Blue Heron Yarns Rayon Metallic in their Heather colorway, purchased from an ebay seller to finish the nuthin-fancy, boring garter stitch rectangle shawl I'm knitting:

I'm at a stopping point on the shawl, at the moment, until the ball winder and swift I recently ordered arrive sometime next week. No way am I winding 550 yards of yarn by hand!

Therefore, in the meantime, I will use these purchases from Michaels:

to make this dishcloth:

whose pattern can be found here. Think I can knit this up in six days?

And in preparation for my upcoming sock lessons, the following was purchased today at the Yarn Lounge:

That's Brown Sheep's Wildfoote in "Purple Splendor"; US size 2, 40" Addi Turbos for the mystical Magic Loop method, and some row/stitch counters. I'm not all that excited about the yarn, but I'm guessing it'll do for my first attempt.

Purple socks always remind me of Donny Osmond. Anyone remember that bit on the Donny & Marie Show back in the '70's? I must admit I think he's grown up well and survived his childhood. But I digress....

When trying to decide what sock yarn to use, I posted my "What's Your Favorite Sock Yarn?" question to everyone I know who knits socks, and hit the motherload of recommendations after posting to the fantastic Socknitters Yahoo group. I want to compile all those great suggestions into an organized list and post them here sometime in the near future, (perhaps tomorrow?). So, if interested, stay tuned!


Finally, I give you a little peek at Spring in my yard:

For more flowery goodness, go here. Happy Spring!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Parents of the world, I bow to you

Today I got up early (for me) and drove up to Hanover to babysit my 6-year-old nephew who was staying home from school due to a strep throat relapse. Both mom & dad had to work today and I was happy to step in, since I never get quality one-on-one time with my little buddy. Thanks to modern antibiotics and the resilience of kids, he was his normal self and we spent the day playing games, (Cootie, Candyland), putting a puzzle together, and watching a couple of DVD's, (Herbie Fully Loaded; 101 Dalmations II), while I knitted.

I have twelve nieces and nephews (and one step-niece), but I have a special place in my heart for this little buddy. And he was perfectly behaved, fun to be with, a good conversationalist, I was thrilled to get some time with him, I had a blast, I love him like my own, I'll watch him again in a heartbeat, and yet I was STILL exhausted after spending six hours with him. What is it about kids, even the very best of them like my little buddy, that suck the energy out of you? I continue to gain respect for parents of small children, especially during those times when they're not perfectly behaved, which thankfully, as an aunt, I rarely have to witness. Parenting is a thankless, 24/7 job that I don't know if I could ever do, and I take my hat off to all of you.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Are socks the crack cocaine of knitting?

This has been a fun week for this here knitter!

Sunday night I went to my brother Pat's house for some Oscar knitting with SIL Jenny. Here she is knitting a lovely scarf whilst little Sophie Crashed in the crook of her leg:

It's hard out here for a pup ... (but not for this Cavalier King Charles Spaniel!)

While I was there I finally finished knitting my Sinsation chenille scarf which I'll be felting soon, once I'm done weaving in the ends. It's a good thing it's getting felted -- the darn cats must have found it one night on the couch while I slept -- I found all kinds of weird loops and things that were not part of the original knitting! It's incredibly soft, so must feel dandy on their little footpads. But make no mistake -- the kitties would be down to 8 lives if I couldn't fix their pawings in the washer/dryer. I hope to get that done this weekend, and will be taking before & after measurements and photos to see how much it shrinks in the wash. Stay tuned!

Tuesday evening I raced over to B&N and was late (again) for "TNK" (Tuesday Night Knitters) but happy to attend at all. (Darn work -- interfering with my life!) Within 20 minutes of my arrival, I was ridiculously thrilled to have the opportunity to watch and then practice Magic Loop sock knitting. Sock Knitting! Magic Loop! Me! The sweet and lovely Sherry was our impromptu instructor, and she was incredibly gracious about showing everyone how to do it.

Jane, pictured below with Deb (L to R):

has photographic documentation of the lesson on her blog -- I was too busy peppering poor Sherry with questions and enjoying the lesson at the time to get out my camera. And an even bigger thrill for me -- Sherry says if I come next week with sock yarn and some US size 1, 40" Addi Turbo's, she'll give me my very own Magic Loop Sock lessons! Actually, next week I'll knit a gauge swatch, and Sherry will go home and plug the numbers and my foot measurements into her sock-wizard software and crank me out a pattern. Then, the following week I'll get to start my very first sock, via that magic method I've really been wanting to learn. (Anything to avoid the scary double-pointed needles!)

I cannot express how excited this makes me! (Does this also make me pathetic? I don't care!) I read a lot of knitting blogs and am always both impressed and envious of the mad sock skillz out there. I'm jumping for joy to get to learn myself. And might I add that I was absolutely loving knitting the round that Sherry allowed me to knit on her sock -- I'm not sure if it was the yarn, the needles, the method, or a combination of all three, but, one row later and I'm hooked. It's crack, I tell you!

But people, people, PEOPLE -- I need some sock yarn recommendations! Tell me your favorite sock yarn, please! And if you're local -- tell me which LYS carries the best sock yarn!

Meanwhile, the very funny Tammy regaled the group at the other end of the table with hilarious stories of her recent travels. And I found out that Patsy, pictured below knitting the beautiful blue-green shawl, is a spinner, and brought some of her beautiful hand-spun yarn. I was surrounded by greatness, I tell you!

Last but not least, this week's Trollopes were Lisa and Joanna:

I think I'll make "Trollope of the Week" a regular designation on my blog!

Oh, and I almost forgot! Knowing that I was in the market for a ball winder and swift, Jane brought her own fantastic Strauch ball winder that her sister Lawre sells from her online shop and demonstrated it for me:

I was sold, and purchased one today online. Lawre's even throwing in a free bonnet, and as Jane astutely pointed out, it looks like the state of Virginia, (okay, a backwards Virginia):

[I'm hoping my bonnet will be in one of my favorite colors (teal, aqua, turquoise, blue-green, blue)]. Hint, hint....

And you can't have a ball winder without a swift, now can you? As tempting as the lovely floor model Strauch swifts were on Lawre's website, they're a bit pricey and I really don't have the space, so therefore decided on the more economical but highly recommended Mama Bear swift from the Oregon Woodworker. Here's hoping it arrives around the same time as the ball winder, so I can put them both immediately to test!

But back to the subject of socks. (I'm not obsessing, am I?) I did a little surfing yesterday, seeing if there was an online retailer's yarn that grabbed me. I did peruse the selection at Lorna's Laces (are all of her yarns sock yarn?), and found a color I really liked, ("Georgetown"), but couldn't decide on the type of yarn to get.

Meanwhile, Melanie mentioned some lovely KnitPicks yarn in yesterday's post, and I immediately fell in love with Shimmer's "Turquoise Splendor" colorway (of course) and bought two hanks of it. But then I realized that this wasn't sock yarn -- it's shawl yarn. All is not lost, however -- I'll maybe use it to knit my first Clapotis sometime this year.

And so, I'm back to looking for sock yarn. I liked the idea of the luxury fibers of Shimmer. But I'm guessing that sock yarn needs a little elastic fiber in it? I've not been too impressed with any of Knitpicks official sock yarn colorways, so probably won't be buying theirs. I suppose I may have to go on a yarn crawl this weekend.

Oh, shucks -- do I have to...? ... ;-)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Spring Fiber Festival just a month away!


Just a little reminder for those in the mid-Atlantic region that the first regional fiber event of the year is but a mere month away! (And it will be my first fiber event EVER!)

And if you look closely you'll see that the lovely and talented Bess Haile is figured prominently on their website as a guest teacher -- she'll be teaching Drop Spindle Spinning to a lucky group of students. (She'll be teaching me, too, in just a few weeks -- yippee!)

Fingers-crossed for nice weather!

Hope to see y'all there!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New Poll: Help Me Decide!

Alrighty -- in the recent past I have waxed eloquent about my love of the yarn I'm using for the shawl I'm knitting, and have even mentioned that I'd like to make a tank top or shell with this type of yarn. (Garment knitting -- who, me?)

It turns out, the yarn manufacturer sells a kit with yarn and pattern for a shell, and although I like the pattern, and it definitely looks easy enough for a beginner to knit, I'm not a fan of those particular colors:

So I'm trying to see if they'll sell me the pattern without the yarn, and then I'll just purchase a different colorway of yarn from ebay. I've been browsing a particular ebay seller's store who sells this yarn, and have narrowed the color choices down to the following:







Deep Blue Sea


So, please vote on a color in the poll below:

Free Web poll for your Website -


(Feeblitz subscribers: go here if you cannot see poll above)

Monday, March 06, 2006

She ran SWIFT-ly down the WINDING road....

So I come again in search of answers.

I'm thinking it's about time I got a ball winder and swift.

Part of me thinks it's too soon in my relationship with yarn for such a commitment. Another part of me, (my mile-wide lazy streak), has no interest in hand-winding any more yarn.

Therefore, it's just a matter of finding the right equipment.

Any recommendations? I'm looking for quality items that won't break after a couple of uses.

If you who are reading this own such equipment, fess up. Tell me what you have and why you like it or why you don't.

I'm all ears.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Opinions, please.

I've been plugging away, knitting on the shawl I'm making using Blue Heron's Rayon Metallic in their Heather colorway. I love this yarn -- it is so soft and shimmery and silky -- I'd love to knit a shell or tank top with it on smaller needles -- I think it would be incredibly cool and comfortable to wear in the summer. (Look at me -- talking about garment knitting! I may be growing up after all!)

shawl progress thus far - slow going!

width, unstretched: ~18", stretched: ~24"

length, unstretched: ~9", stretched: ~10.5"

But I'm worried that I'm going to run out of yarn before this shawl becomes a decent length. The tape measure in the pictures is more for scale than for an accurate measurement. In reality, when held up vertically, the width is about 24" and the length is about 10.5", so far. (I'll be happy when the length is longer than the width!)

I have 550 yards of this colorway to work with. I guesstimate that I have knitted up about 150-200 yards so far, so I'm guessing I'll get about 36" in length before I run out of yarn, (please correct me if my estimate seems way off), and I don't think a 3' shawl is long enough. Five feet would be the minimum, I would think, to comfortably wrap a shawl around one's shoulders. The recipient I have in mind is a fairly small woman, but I still think 5' is about as short as one should make a shawl.

And so, it seems I will need to purchase more yarn. And I have found some on ebay which is actually cheaper than what I paid locally, even with the shipping.

So here's my question: once the first ball of this original yarn is finished, and I've ordered and received the ebay yarn, I'm thinking that before I start the second ball of the original yarn, I should start knitting with the ebay yarn and when that's done, finish up with the second ball of my original yarn. That way, in case there is a noticeable difference in the new yarn's dye lot, (unfortunately Blue Heron doesn't put dye lot #'s on their labels), it will just look like a design feature that the ends are different than the middle, rather than an abrupt change in yarn color in the middle of the shawl.

Am I thinking clearly here? Is that the way to go?