Yarn Crawl New Mexico, Part 3

Knit. Purl. Tink.

For our last day in New Mexico, on the suggestion of Jolanda, our BnB hostess, we decided to visit Bandelier National Monument in Los Alamos. It was a tough call, as I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and an arrhythmia on the day before we were supposed to leave on our trip. Everything got pushed back by two days because I had to have a nuclear stress test before we could leave. My doctor warned me to take it easy, so we agreed that I would avoid any major climbing and we would walk the trail very slowly.

It was worth it, because Bandelier is breathtakingly beautiful. While I was able to take pictures from the canyon trail, I was not able to climb the million stairs up to the pueblo caves. At the bottom of the stairs, I gave Ron a 30 second lesson in how to set the f-stop and…

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Gone Girl

Knit. Purl. Tink.

I know it’s a little silly to start a brand new blog and then disappear off the face of the earth, but life got a little crazy. It’s starting to get back to normal, which includes writing more regularly. I’m back, baby!

Lots of stuff happened while I was away from WordPress, including the interface going screwy. What was wrong with the old one? Not sure I like this bright and shiny interface. Why, WordPress, why???

The knitting related stuff was pretty wonderful, though. My husband and I escaped to New Mexico for five glorious nights and he very patiently took me to several shops and alpaca/llama farms in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe area, including a new shop in Los Alamos. I bought way too much yarn. That’s a lie, because there is no such thing as way too much yarn. Bite my tongue!

We stayed at Llamas del Sol

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Friday On The Needles

Knit. Purl. Tink.

A day late again, but it’s been a bit of a stressful week. Of course, that just means I’ve spent extra knitting time! A few of us from my Sunday group decided to start a Thursday night group which was a complete blast. Unfortunately, one friend is going to visit her grandkids and another is about to start a consulting project, making her short on time. It might be just me for a while, but I never mind KIPping (knitting in public).

First up is the absolutely gorgeous Cavallo Point by Brenda Patipa. I’m using Knit Picks Palette in Seafaring. The stitch definition is perfect and I can’t wait to wear it to New Mexico in October. A local designer who uses Palette for many of her patterns reassured me that once it is washed and steam blocked, it will relax and be super soft. Palette is actually quite…

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Knitting Insecurities, WWKIP, and Ravelry

Saturday, June 14 was World Wide Knit In Public day and I was so excited to finally be qualified to go. As a crocheter, I’ve seen posts about WWKIP for years and desperately wished I could join in, but I didn’t knit. This year, not only was I out there knitting, I helped to teach someone else to knit. That’s what I love about this craft; while there are classes galore, knitters are thrilled to pass along their knowledge and skills for free. I took along my Cambria throw, but I was so busy admiring other people’s projects, feeling up all the yarn, and chatting up a storm with others who speak my language, I only managed to get about 30 stitches done.

I was really nervous about going, since I’ve only hung out at my LYS (local yarn store) twice since I learned how to knit back in October, so I didn’t know anyone. When I arrived at the mall food court for the event, there were already about twenty people sitting around several tables casually pushed together. Everyone smiled, moved over to make room, and welcomed me into their conversations. Knitters are the NICEST people ever! I had worried that I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to, but these women (and boy and man) enfolded me like I was an old friend. It helps that every knitter has instant conversation starters: “Oooh! What are you working on? I love that yarn, where did you get it? Did you make the one you’re wearing?”

I held out for three hours on the worst chair ever, and in that time, I added seven people to my Ravelry friends, met a published designer, several spinners, and a lovely woman who dyes the most beautiful yarn. Stacie from Must Stash Shop handed me a business card with a gorgeous mini-skein of sock yarn attached. What a great marketing tool, because now I’m lusting after her work.

I’ve tried to join other groups (non-crafty ones) before but I was often made to feel like an outsider. While people might say hello, they certainly weren’t friendly. So many groups want to feel exclusive and they do it by excluding people. Not knitters! Much like the sheep that give us our fiber, they are a fold and are happy to bring someone new into it. I was invited to attend other knitting meetups around town, including one that night and the local Stitch ‘N Bitch group. After going home for a much needed nap, I venture back out for more fiber goodness. The night group had several people that attended WWKIP, so I felt right at home. Although I was in another awful chair, knitting and great conversation took my mind off the pain. I stayed for another couple of hours before my back started screaming at me, and even then, I still found it difficult to pull myself away.

Being surrounded by knitters with way more experience, I felt somewhat inadequate. I only brought one project but everyone else had two to four works in progress that they switched between. What?? Startitis is not only embraced but encouraged? Yay! So yesterday, I cast on for the Morrigan shawl (published by Hedgehog Fibers) with some super soft cashmere/mink blend. Morrigan is a super easy lace that looks impressively intricate. The most difficult stitch is a centered double decrease (which is not hard at all) so it’s perfect to take along for knit nights. I got pretty far in the nine hours that I worked on it (off and on, of course) and I’m quite tickled.

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As promised, here is a pic of the Cambria throw now that I’ve finished the second set of wraps. While it is more rounded than an EKG, I think the up and down wave pattern is fitting for a cardiologist. I love patterns that are deceptively impressive but truly simple.

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There was lots of Ravelry talk on Saturday, and as I mentioned, I added several friends throughout the day. I learned how to find my Ravelry number, too; I am Raveler #1102279. Considering there are now more than FOUR MILLION Ravelers, I’m old hat! One person in our group is in the 20,000s, so she’s definitely a veteran. Rose-Kim Knits has an excellent tutorial on how to find your number. Check it out and post your number in the comments!

 

 

Friday On The Needles

Wow. It’s amazing what can be done with a simple knit and purl when you add a few yarn overs and knit2together and slipslipknit stitches. But damn, it is seriously complicated to keep track of exactly where your yarn is supposed to be when you’re switching between all of the above stitches.

After a hole disaster with the cashmere scarf that was on my needles last Friday, I had to frog that entire project. I guess when I started it, I either missed a stitch or didn’t completely slip under a stitch and instead just caught a bit of fiber, because as I was well into my second skein of yarn, I noticed a huge hole somewhere around row 6 or 8. It wasn’t there when I took the picture last week, so my guess is the fiber just gave.

Very depressing, but a lesson well learned. Instead of restarting the scarf, I decided to move on to the next project that I’ve been looking forward to and that is the Cavallo Point Wrap. I’m using JL Salvia merino wool yarn (discontinued…I’ve had this yarn for a few years now), in a cream, rust, and forest green colorway. It’s really soft and is working up beautifully.

While I feel like I’ve sort of mastered the five simple stitches (K, P, SSK, YO, and K2Tog), doing them in combination is like a giant puzzle. Doing a K, YO, K2Tog, YO, P, YO, SSK, YO, K is a serious challenge for a beginning knitter, but now I think I’ve got the hang of it. The occasional S2KPSSO still throws me for a bit of a loop (PUN!), but as long as I pay attention, I can muddle through it. I love knitting because I love watching what seems like just a mess of yarn slowly take shape into a beautiful piece of lace work.

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Rather than buy a manufactured lace chart holder for a small fortune, I was lucky enough to take advantage of my friend Bill, who machined a scrap piece of sheet metal into paper size with nice smooth edges and rounded corners. At a discount outlet store, I found a package of “magnetic locker wallpaper” for $2; it is really just three magnetic, 8.5″ by 11″ orange sheets with purple butterflies. I spent $2 for a plain white binder and $1 for a set of tabbed index sheets. Using a small paper trimmer, I cut two long, two medium, and two short strips from the magnetic sheets. I now have a  knitters notebook where I can organize my printed patterns into categories and a lace chart holder, all for $5. I may pick up a package of sheet protectors so that my patterns don’t tear or wrinkle, but for the moment, I just slide my printouts into the pockets in the binder.

Slowly, I’m starting to feel like a real knitter…now if I can actually finish a project!

Santa Baby

I know I’m a few days late, but in my defense, I’ve been sick pretty much since Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day was no exception. While I rallied enough to get all the wrapping finished up, on Christmas Eve I ended up crashing at around 3:30pm. When I woke up three hours later, I found a spotless house, including the bathroom, and the kitchen floors. It was a perfect Christmas surprise, and I was able to throw myself into the baking frenzy of pies for the next day.

On Christmas morning, I had the best time watching my kids, my son’s girlfriend, and my husband open presents, particularly my husband. The only things he had asked for were a pizza cutter, a knife sharpener, and some snapware bowls. Instead of the knife sharpener, I bought him a set of Ginzu knives, which he was amazed at how sharp they are. However, as he opened lame present after lame present (pajamas, flannel shirts, kitchenware), I kept having to hide my smile as I waited for the right moment to give him his “real” present.

For ages, he’s been waffling about getting a tablet of some kind, so I did my research and decided on the Google Nexus. A few days before Christmas, he said that if he were going to get a tablet, it would be a Nexus. I laughed and said, “Whatever,” as if he would ever buy one. So while I had been a little worried about whether or not he would like it or just complain about the expense, I stopped worrying. Sure enough, when he opened the tiny little box, he was so happy. He loves it and spends much more time in his chair or in the bed, reading all sorts of things. Yesterday, all he read about was dinosaurs.

I highly suspected I was going to get the ChiaoGoo needles, but as I opened my presents, it wasn’t in any of the boxes. I did get a kindle (great for pattern pdfs!) and a fantabulous craft tote with lots of safe, non-velcro compartments. Finally, I was down to my last box and I was NOT disappointed! There in all of its black and white floral glory was the ChiaoGoo needle carry case.

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Because he got me the complete set, I have from size 2 up to size 15. It came with six cables (two of each length, with one for the large set and one for the small set), cable connectors, stitch markers, tightening keys, a gauge/ruler, end caps, and of course, the case. I was too exhausted to play with it that day, but the next day, I switched from my Velocity fixed cable over to the ChiaoGoo and OMG! Let me say again, I was NOT disappointed!

Having lace tips is worth its weight in stainless steel. I love the “click/swish, click/swish” sound they make because I can stitch so much faster. The cashmere silk lace scarf that I’d had to give up on because it refused to cooperate with my Boye needles? I’m now on row 15, and I doubled the width (I like wider scarves). It took me about 45 minutes total to get that far which is waaaaaay faster for me.

I love the stitch markers, too. They are so cute! All the different sizes makes it easy to use the smallest one so it isn’t difficult to knit over. Having a set of end stoppers makes it easy to have multiple projects going at once (because what knitter/crocheter doesn’t??), so I had to give a go at the Kuura shawl with my ICE merino and I had a ball (LOL!) because even the few rows that I worked up were so simple and I can tell it is going to be a gorgeous piece.

I cannot say enough good things about these needles. The key makes the joins super tight, so it’s highly unlikely they will unscrew on their own. Combining the cables was such a huge help for my ever expanding Afternoon Tea shawl. I’m flying through those rows, too, so I should have that done by the end of the next week. The joins are super smooth, too.

Although Amazon hiked up the price $26 from $129 to $155, my husband said there was no way he could *not* get them for me, even though he waited too long. Never underestimate the truly fantastic gift that a good set of needles make. While my other needle purchases sort of propped open the door, these needles have thrown it wide open to the world of knitting possibilities.

I highly recommend getting the complete set, and I also intend to get more cables, connectors, and end stoppers. The combinations are endless, and one could easily make a cabled afghan of any size with a few of the 30″ cables put together. I feel like there is nothing I can’t tackle now!

All Yarn And No Needle

Down here, when someone is either a complete idiot or they arrogantly brag about how awesome they are but have nothing to back up their claims, we say they are, “all brand and no cattle.” In Texas, anyone can register a brand, as in what’s burned into animal flesh to identify which ranch they belong to. It is not a requirement that one own a ranch nor cattle of any kind. In order to sound rich or important, people would register brands even though they had no reason for it. All brand and no cattle.

Over the shopping frenzy weekend, I bought several skeins of different yarns from vendors on both eBay and Etsy. O.M.G. I came home yesterday (after buying these things on Friday night and Saturday morning, mind you!) and found three bags on my porch. I essentially got most of my stuff in less than one business day! Unfortunately, I couldn’t play with any of it because I still haven’t purchased my needles. In our family, we go into self-purchase lockdown on November 1. No one is allowed the buy anything for themselves until after Christmas. This does not apply to yarn, however. Yarn may be purchased at any time for any (or no) reason. I’m pretty sure that’s chiseled in as the 11th Commandment. Thanks to lockdown, I can’t just buy my needles. I have to wait till Christmas to see if they turn up under the tree. All yarn and no needle.

Although I lacked the proper needles, I very carefully cut open each bag and was in pure heaven when I saw and felt my ICE Artic Merino.

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SOOOOO soft, which a hint of a shiny glimmer. I chose the midnight blue color and it is deep and rich and perfect. I quickly decided that this is MY yarn, and I will make something for myself with it. I found the Kuura Shawl on Ravelry and I heard a choir of angels all sing “Aaaahhhhh” and knew this was the pattern I would use.

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I have had a soft spot for Finland in my heart after spending a month of summer in Helsinki, so the fact that this shawl is Finnish just made it more perfect. I can just imagine casually wrapping it around my shoulders as the night starts to chill while walking along the Esplanadi, window shopping at all the quirky stores. In typical Finnish design, Kuura has clean and simple lines, nothing overly complicated, yet manages to look intricate and delicate.

In addition to the ICE Artic, I bought a few skeins of other ICE yarn, two skeins of handpainted yarn from my_special_tea, and two skeins of JL Mira from onlinebargainsgalore. If you’ve never tried JL yarn, I highly recommend it. You can find it on eBay and Etsy, or can order directly from Julia’s Yarn. I’ve used several different collections and have always been very happy with it. The bamboo and wool Zania is one of my favorites. Mira is a fingering/sock wool and is decadently soft for a pure wool.

Those weren’t my only yarn purchases, but they were my faves from the day. I am still waiting on a skein of cashmere fingering, some alpaca wool, and more Mira. It’s killing me to see this yarn sitting here feeling lonely and neglected. I can almost hear it crying. I’m trying to look at the bright side; this forces me to continue to work on the Afternoon Tea shawl that I’m making for a friend.

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I can’t put it down and go play with other yarn until I have some needles. C’mon Christmas!!!!

Tulle and Velvet and Pants, Oh My!

The problem (can one call it a problem?) with crafting is that it takes up most of one’s time, leaving little time for blogging about all the crafting!

At the moment, I am trying to finish my friend’s shawl midst little things like going to the hospital and trying to get the kids to record a Christmas cd. I’m only asking for five songs, but Aubrey is stubborn and argumentative and doesn’t want to listen to anyone else. She gets offended when I tell her she’s singing through her nose, or sounds like she has a wad of tobacco in her mouth. We did finally end up with one decent track of vocals, but because Matt tried to do the vocals first, thinking he could do the piano track second, it ended up totally out of sync; Aubrey is totally a white girl and has no rhythm. She’s got a great voice, but can’t keep a steady beat. So that all has to be dumped and we have to start over, but this time, Matt’s laying down the piano track first and making a click track (a digital metronome) for Aubrey to follow. Sigh. It may be an Easter cd if we don’t get it done in time.

Christmas

Tonight, Aubrey came home with the pants part of her uniform and the center bit was just a few strands of thread and several giant holes, meaning if anyone looked too closely, they would be able to see the wine angels’ underwear. She managed to darn them so they’ll last a few more days, and in the meantime, I’m going to make a new pair for each of the girls. Aubrey wants elastic at the ankle, and a black elastic strap across the bottom of her foot. She says the legs slide down when the girls are upside down, so people can see their socks. There’s also the issue that the company pants are way too big for Aubrey, since she’s so microscopic. I figure since sparkle red stretch velvet is on sale right now, it’s a good time to get a few yards.

On Monday, we finally scrounged all the Christmas stuff out of the shed, so today I’m putting the lights on the front porch. The tree will have to wait a day or two. Getting out the tree led indirectly to having to paint the laundry room (our handy guys disappeared), which means that needs to get done so I can clean off my back porch.

Of course, I’ve still got all of my doll stuff and our upcycled clothing to work on, too. My niece asked me to make her a chain maille bracelet, so add that to the list. I would make an actual written list but I’m afraid it will make me feel even more overwhelmed. And dammit, what’s with every web site having a Christmas countdown? I’ve got enough anxiety as it is; the Christmas countdowns just make me want to pull out my hair…or curl up in a ball under my quilt and not come out until New Year.

So please forgive my erratic posting! As soon as I get my crochet projects finished up, I’ll post more regularly.

How are your Christmas plans holding up? Are you suffering from “TooMuchCrapToDoItis” like I am? What projects are you trying to get done in time for Christmas?