Friday, March 30, 2007

A good problem to have.

That good problem being: on such a beautiful day, how should I spend my time?


Or gardening?

I did both.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

An Embarassment of Riches

Embarassment is right. As I alluded to yesterday, I found an incredible yarn sale last week, and I hit it hard.

While blog-surfing, I happened upon a blog announcing that Knit Happens was having a huge sale at their online store. Lots of great yarns, most of which were at least 50% off, and all were going fast. I spent more than I've ever spent at one time on yarn, and would probably have spent more if things hadn't been selling so fast. (A blessing in disguise!)

Anyway, I promised some folks in my knitting group that I'd share what I'd purchased, so here goes:

Clockwise, from top left:
  1. Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky in teal (#10) - 4 balls, sage (#11) - 2 balls, and pink (#4) - 2 balls. No plans yet for these yarns, although the pink may become a baby hat.
  2. Muench "Touch Me" in fuschia (#08) - 6 balls, green (#04) - 5 balls, and purple (#38) - 6 balls. All earmarked for gifts of "Vintage Velvet" scarves (from Scarf Style).
  3. Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere, 2 hanks each in "Deep Denim" (#44) - 6-ply, "Amethyst Haze" (#17) - 8-ply, and "Lilac" (#31) - 8-ply. No plans yet, except to fondle.
  4. Kaalund "Relish" in "Sapphire" - 2 hanks. No plans, but probably a hat.
  5. Rowan Big Wool in "Flirty" (green, #38) - 3 balls. One ball not pictured because it's already in use. (I'll share pictures of that project when finished - maybe this weekend.) No plans for other two balls.

For anyone like me who likes to see more detail in their yarn photographs, here are a few additional shots from different angles. Click pictures to make bigger:

Okay, it's time to go fondle some yarn! Later!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tuesday Sky, TNK, and an audience with The Queen

Here it is Wednesday, and I'm blogging about something that happened only yesterday. Wonders never cease!

Last night I took this picture while driving down Midlothian Turnpike, on my way to knit night. Actually, I took it while stopped at a traffic light, lest you think I would be so reckless as to photograph-while-driving. (I would, but those shots came out too blurry.) ;-)

And speaking of knit night....

Sound Ye Trumpets! Last night we were pleasantly surprised by a visit from an honored guest -- none other than The Queen herself, Her Royal Highness Bess Haile, who was in town taking care of some family business.

Bess was gracious enough to model her most recent accomplishment, her KnitPicks Palette Fair Isle Cardigan, (aka "KipFee"):

Isn't it fabulous?

You can see other pictures of it on her blog, here and here. It's been a lot of fun to follow along with her as she's knit this masterpiece.

Other knitters who had an audience with The Queen last night, (okay, many were really sitting at the other end of the table, but play along with the metaphor, will ya?), included:

The Queen's Court, with Linda (left) and Renny (right) in the foreground

Tami & Christina

Issy & Rita

Deb, Robin C., and Sheddy

Sherry R. and Judy

And Mary Jane was able to break away from her shop and her new puppies to visit with us a bit. Here she is modeling another beautiful Sursa shawl, knit in a solid color of Noro Silk Garden Lite, (I believe) Cestari Cotton, which is another wonderful way to do the shawl:

Love it!

And here is Mary Jane's lap, with a couple of awesome knitting projects in it:

On top is her mitered-square jacket project, whose gorgeous colors never fail to delight me. Underneath the mitered squares is a shrug she is knitting using Araucania Pomaire, which has got to be the softest cotton (100% Pima) I have ever felt - I couldn't believe it was cotton. I now know what I want to knit my next cotton project with! And I know where I can get some!

And finally, here's Jane meditating on the zen of knitting, ( <- my excuse for bad photography), while modeling her latest project, the "Go Everywhere, Go With Everything Cardigan" on the cover of the first Stitch 'n Bitch book:

Jane is going to edge it with black mohair, which should look really nice. She's almost done -- just one sleeve to go!

Once again, a fun evening with my peeps. And after all the knitting, we did a little shopping, (it's dangerous to meet so regularly at a bookstore -- almost as dangerous as a yarn shop!), and I found a book that I really like, so felt compelled to buy it:

Regular Virgin Wool readers will know that I've been madly knitting hats for the last six months, it seems, and this book has a ton of really cute and inspiring patterns, so I will never have to scratch my head again (no pun intended) (okay, maybe a little) when I need ideas or an actual pattern.

It seems I've been on a little bit of a knitting-related spending spree lately, and I blame the advent of spring. (Gotta blame something, right?) I can go for months at a time, and even go to knitting retreats and fiber festivals, and not buy much, (although, don't get me started about that recent weekend at the beach), but for some reason, this past week I've been shopping like yarn and knitting-related accessories were going out of style.

Yesterday I shared a few things I've recently purchased, although, in my (weak) defense, they weren't purchased all at once.

And tomorrow, I will share an enormous (for me) yarn haul I made at a fantastic sale last week.

I would like to think I'm done with the spree for awhile, but there is the little matter of Patsy's yarn sale on Sunday. And the Spring Fiber Festival two weeks from Saturday. And Maryland Sheep & Wool in May....

Heaven help me! :-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Odds & Ends

I thought I'd catch up on what's been going on in my knitting world, including some recent purchases, as well as yet another new project.

First of all, isn't it amazing the oddball stuff you can get on ebay? I'd been wanting a styrofoam wig form in order to block and model finished hats, but after a little ebay-surfing, decided I liked this cobalt blue glass number even better:

Its head circumference is 22", which is perfect for most adult heads, including mine. (I actually have a 23" pumpkin head, but this way I know my hats won't be too big -- they can always stretch a little). And the thing is hollow, in case I want to fill it with... um... yarn, maybe? Candy? Knitting needles?

In the category of "I'm not knitting socks right now, so have no business buying sock-related items, but, by gosh, I'm stocking up for some future sock-knitting bonanza", here are some recent socky-related purchases:

Darning Eggs -- also purchased on ebay:

I suspect the one on the left is really an orange juicer,
but it's interesting, all the same


I bought these darning eggs more for their decorative, rather than functional aspects, although one of them might come in handy, if I actually had any handknit socks that needed darning. First, I'd have to actually knit the darn things. No pun intended. (Okay, maybe a little.)

And, if and when the sock-knitting mood strikes, I have a recently-purchased fantastic reference book to draw from:

Sensational Knitted Socks comes highly recommended

In the category of "I still have no business buying sock-related items, but I'm a sucker for pretty packaging, and oh-my-gosh it's madras plaid!", can you guess what these are?

If you guessed the Lantern Moon "Sox Stix" in Rosewood, you'd be right.

But wait, there's more!

More inappropriate sock-knitting related purchases, including this yarn:

BMFA "Socks That Rock" lightweight in "Fire on the Mountain"

Would you just look at those colors?!! Resistance is futile!

I fully admit that this yarn was purchased for the "collection", as I have no immediate plans to knit it. I've decided that even though I have what seems to be a sock yarn stash beyond my life expectancy, rather than feeling guilty about that, I just have to come to terms with the fact that some of it is just for "collecting". And I may very well have to add to that collection, if I run across any Colinette Jitterbug in the near future. Talk about gorgeous colors!

I also could not resist these adorable little kitchener stitch markers:

Purchased on etsy from this seller

In the category of "Thanks, but, Whoops!", the Denise folks very speedily sent me a replacement cable for the one that I broke recently. However, it's the wrong size:

I take the full blame for that, thanks to my poor communication -- I told them in my email that it was the smallest cable in the kit, but forgot that there's a cable smaller than 12". So they sent me a 9" replacement, (shown above along with an intact 12-incher from my other kit). In my defense, they did tell me to return the old cable and indicated that they'd ship the new one once they received the old. But in their defense, they shipped the new one before they received the old one, so they still come out on top. I've emailed them again with profuse apologies, in hopes they'll send me the correct one, this time. No word yet, though. Thus, the scintillating saga of the broken cable continues....

And finally, I've started another new project:

Can you guess what it is?

I won't make you guess. It's the Fiber Trends Braid & Bobble Hat. Shown above is one completed 16-row repeat. It's a fun pattern, but requires a lot of concentration, as each row is different. The pattern, as written, is very hard to follow, so I had to retype it in Excel to avoid the crazy back-and-forth between pattern A and pattern B. I don't have all the cable crosses memorized yet, either, so that slows me down as I have to continually re-read them.

The yarn I'm using is Cynthia Helene Superwash Merino in Jade, purchased at Sangeeta's yarn swap last summer, and I think it may have originally come from Cate's stash, if I'm not mistaken. So, Cate, I love this yarn, and it's being put to good use! Thanks!

Alrighty, then, I should finish this so that I can get ready to knit with my peeps tonight.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Socky Wednesday with the Richmond Knitters

It's Sunday, so it's time to blog about Wednesday, right? (What's the saying about being so far behind, you're in front? I only wish...).

Anyway, I had an errand over near Willow Lawn on Wednesday afternoon, so afterwards I decided to join the Wednesday night knitting group that meets at the Panera there.

Here are Monet, Beth and blogless Lou:
You may recall that Beth & Lou were kind enough to let me tag along with them in their rental car up in New York when we were there for the Knitter's Review Retreat last November.

And here's Marie:

casting on for a Jaywalker

All four of them were working on socks, and Lou even brought some finished socks to show:

BMFA 2007 Rockin' Sock Club "Inside Out" socks in "Monsoon"

a 2006 Sock Club pattern & STR yarn -- I don't remember specifics
(Pattern: Winter's Eve; STR Colorway: Mustang Sally)

Close-up: Gorgeous! Beads!

And here's another 2006 Rockin' Sock Club sock Lou is currently working on:

Pattern: "Titania's Revenge"; STR Colorway: Titania

Lou is trying to get caught up on her backlog of Sock Club patterns, so that she can bring them all with her to Camp Cockamamie. Doesn't that Sock Camp (<- pdf file) sound like fun? I believe the Yarn Harlot is going to be one of the camp counselors....

Monet was a purpley girl on Wednesday, wearing several of her purpley handknits, including this luscious long & skinny scarf knit in Debbie Bliss cashmerino:

And her first ever handknit socks:

Hooray, Monet!

Maggie also came and brought a knitting friend, Frances, with her. (I'm sorry Maggie -- your friend's name has slipped my mind. Please forgive me!)

I haven't seen Maggie since she returned from China with her newest wee one -- the beyond-adorable Betsy! Congratulations, Maggie, on a wonderful addition to your family. :-)

Maggie worked on seaming up a cardigan, while Frances was knitting something (a scarf, maybe?) a MDK linen hand towel in a multi-color chevron pattern.

In keeping with the unofficial socky theme of the evening, Maggie was wearing her handknit Jaywalkers:

We laughed because we were more concerned about getting breadcrumbs on her beautiful handknit sweater than the fact that her shoe and sock was mere inches from her food. Knitter priorities, I tell ya!

Take a look at this gorgeous sweater she's seaming:

I don't remember the pattern, but I do believe she said the yarn was Jo Sharp (silky aran, maybe?) Perhaps the pattern is Jo Sharp, as well. I just love that sweater -- it is one of those sweaters that will be come a staple in her wardrobe for years and years. That's what knitting is all about, I think....

I worked some more on my own LMKG chevron scarf, which makes for really good public knitting, because it's just so easy -- almost mindless. And I, too, was in keeping with the socky theme, because I'm using sock yarn, after all!

It was fun to knit with these ladies, and I hope to do so again sometime soon. Thanks for having me, Richmond Knitters!

And now I'm off to sit on my front porch in my rocking chair and enjoy this gorgeous weather and... you guessed it... knit!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Catching up with TNK

Gosh, it's been almost a week since I've last blogged. Not an intentional departure, I just had a few extra things on my calendar this week and the blogging got subsequently pushed back to the weekend. But, better late than never, right? Or, have I lost everyone, in my absence? Serves me right, I guess....

And, if you've been eager to keep up with the latest antics of the Tuesday Night Knitters, I'm sure you've already read Jane's or Robin's accounts of the evening. It's brutal when three bloggers attend the same knit night -- we're like knitting paparazzi, pushing each other aside to get the good shots of our celebrity knitters and their glamorous FOs or WIPs. And since Jane and Robin H. have both scooped me, I haven't felt a particular urgency to post my version of the evening. But post it I will, if only for consistency's sake on my own blog.

Speaking of Robin H., who lives two hours away in the bustling metropolis of Buffalo Junction, near Clarksville, (did Virginia ever even have buffalos, and were there really so many that they required a junction?), I met Robin and her son Brian for dinner at our new favorite Richmond restaurant, Bookbinder's Grill, which is conveniently located just across the street from the Barnes & Noble where the group knits.

For dinner I ordered the grilled chicken with garlic & mushrooms (same as last time), and had the clam chowder and wedge salad as appetizers. I love their wedge salad - yum! Robin & Brian were brave enough to try the "world famous" snapping-turtle soup, and Robin let me taste hers. My first, ever, taste of turtle soup -- it's pretty much like a thick beef gravy. I kept expecting to see a little baby turtle paddling in the bowl for dear life. Or perhaps a turtle shell floating in the soup. There was neither, thank God. The waiter does bring a little decanter of sherry, and you pour some in the soup, which gives it a little tang. Different. I probably wouldn't order it on my own. Not bad, just not fantastic, in my opinion. My clam chowder was okay -- again, not fantastic. I'm a soup connoisseur, so all soups are measured against some of the best I've had. And most recently, the best I've had was that she-crab soup at the Lone Cedar, when we were down at the beach. I could live on that stuff.

But this is a knitting blog, not a soup blog, so I will now move on to more topical subjects.

Here's Robin, after we waddled away from the dinner table and on over to Barnes & Noble:

Writing up sales - cha-ching!

Robin brought her soaps, oils & body butters to fulfill some orders from group members. I'm not much of a fragrance person, as most really bother my allergies, but I do love anything that smells lemony, (why is it impossible to find a lemon-scented air freshener anymore?). I bought some soap, body butter and after-shower spray-on oil/lotion. Verrrrrry lemony, which makes me so happy. I grow lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) in my garden every year, because it is the lemon-iest smelling herb you'll ever smell. It makes my mouth water, it's so lemony, and I am constantly picking leaves from it and rubbing them and then inhaling the released fragrance as deeply as I possibly can. Robin's lemon-scented products are just as lemony as my lemon verbena, so, yum! But, of course, she sells items with many other fragrances, too. She has a separate website for those items, if you're interested.

Here's the rest of the gang, at knit night:

Paparazzo Jane, Cathy, Sherry Y., and Mary Jane

Tami, Deb, Norma, Sherry R.

Susan and Tami

Here's Mary Jane holding up Renny's completed feather-and-fan bridal shawl for her daughter's wedding, from the book Folk Shawls, (which I own, yee-ha!, thanks to Jane!). Isn't it beautiful?

Renny, one of several professional photographers in our knitting group,
becomes incredibly shy when forced to be in front of the camera.


Renny is now working on a seed-stitch cardigan. Here's Patsy swooning at the thought of all that seed stitch, as Renny shares her progress:

Jo, Rita, Renny, Patsy

But will you take a look at this seed stitch? This is a Shaefer mercerized cotton in a hand-painted colorway, and the seed stitch is the perfect vehicle to showcase those colors:


Here's Linda, holding a Fuzzy Feet slipper she knit awhile ago, but brought to show Cathy how they look knitted up:


Deb finished the baby blanket for (?) -- I'm sorry Deb, I forget who you said this was for -- your son and his wife, who are expecting, maybe? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Anyway, it's adorable!

Another victim of the Noro virus, Rita is working on adding the ruffled edge to her Sursa Shawl:

I love the Silk Garden colorway she used here.

And Issy continues to plug along on her Civil War shawl:

It's now as big as a big shower cap.
I believe she was up to row 68 when this picture was taken.


Amy is working on her socks knit with the Socks That Rock in "Chanticleer" that she won from my blog contest back in October. Doesn't that yarn stripe wonderfully?:

Here's a closer shot of the sock -- isn't that a pretty pattern? I want to say it's from the Fall or Winter issue of Interweave -- Amy, correct me if I'm wrong.

Love cables!

A fun time as usual, with my knittin' peeps! Tomorrow, I'll share pictures from another knitting group gathering I attended on Wednesday night. Stay tuned!