Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yarn Therapy

Crazy Aunt Purl recently blogged about therapy in the form of shopping, and how it is best to do that shopping at a place which has a forgiving return policy. I am going to disagree with her there, theraputic shopping is best achieved at The Loopy Ewe. I had no idea that I was even going to need yarn therapy when I placed this order, but so much has happened in the last couple of days I've been left feeling blind-sided. Plus, I've been too busy with work to make it to knit night 2 weeks in a row! That alone can get a girl in a funk.
For the record, I am not affiliated with the owner, Sheri. That being said, this was easily my best online yarn shopping experience. I placed my order on Sunday, and even though Monday was a holiday it arrived today (Thursday). She mailed the package as soon as my bank cleared the payment. It was carefully packaged. I would have taken a picture, but I was too excited about the contents to think about it before I'd already unwrapped it. Yes, I said unwrap. It was wrapped. Like a wonderful fibery gift, or a yarn burrito. Along with my order were some samples of yarns I had never handled as well as a hand-written note. Now, lots of online yarn retailers will include a quick "Thanks for your order!" on the invoice. Sheri, however, wrote a much more personalized and friendly note. Plus, there was a surprise! I won't say what it is because I don't want to spoil it for anyone else. I will say that it was perfect for me because I love to organize.

Now, the most amazing thing about this experience is that she paid this much attention to my order even though I had ONE skein of yarn. It was such a small order. One skein of yarn, folks! And it qualified for a handwritten note with wishes for happy yarn times!
I originally planned to try purchasing my specialty sock yarns from a variety of vendors so I could see which company deserved to receive my yarn budget. I'm done shopping around. I've found my online yarn store. :)
Oh, and the yarn is lovely, too! I had never seen Fleece Artist in person but I'd heard a lot of people speak favorably about it online. Even though the hank feels very dense it has lots of loft and the colors speak for themselves. They were difficult to capture on film, and even now the purple in that image is a little intense. Colors are accurate at the bottom of the hank, but up top the shadows make it look much darker. Seriously folks, if the Loopy Ewe carries a yarn you've been considering, give it a try. You won't be disappointed.
Many thanks to Lime & Violet for mentioning Sheri's store on thier podcast.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


While waiting for a coat of stain to dry I picked up my latest surprise knitting project and finished it. I really only had about 15 rows left. I've got to write up an explanation to the recipient before it goes out. I'll post pictures when I know it has arrived. A pattern write-up will follow in the coming weeks.

Lots of work, but no progress

I've got no knitting progress to share. There are two reasons for this; firstly I have lots of work obligations right now. But on top of that, all my free time has been going towards finishing the spinning wheel. I bought a cheap vinyl shower curtain liner and spread it out in my living room. The staining has kinda taken over. There are 20+ pieces which have now received their second coat of stain (American Cherry - it looks yummy!). The flyer and bobbins are made of a more porous wood so they stained deeper. I doubt they'll get any more attention. I expect I'll be adding a final coat tonight. The description of the stain I chose said it stains AND seals, but I don't feel like it is sealing. I can rub and rub and stain keeps coming off. I don't want all of my yarns to be American Cherry! Therefore, I'll be making another trip to the hardware store for a polyurethane topcoat.

Despite the fact that my home feels rather un-homey in its state of staining splendor I'm really enjoying this process. I've certainly learned a few things about staining such uneven surfaces, though. If anyone out there decides to stain a spinning wheel (or banisters of any sort) let me know and I can give you a few pointers!

Since I am obsessed with socks I am about to cast on for 2 different patterns (Jaywalkers in Koigu KPPM, and Leyburn Socks in Miss Babs' Handpained Sock and Baby). I also decided to place an order at the Loopy Ewe after hearing Lime and Violet rave about it so much. I wanted to try a yarn I've never seen in person, but have still heard positive reviews about. I decided to sample Fleece Artist's basic merino sock yarn in Pixie. I think it's going to be Lombard Street socks since it's a nice simple semi-solid. I think it will compliment the cables and lace well. After I placed the order I continued to poke around on the Loopy Ewe site (potentially dangerous, I know) and found that the owner sends little surprises in your packages! Now I'm really excited - what on earth will it be? Perhaps a darning needle or stitch markers or some other knitting notion that gets eaten by couch cushions (which is why we always need more of them!).

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's Here!

Now, back to work!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

When did this happen?

This week at Knit Picky I decided to put down the Baby Cashmerino surprise since I'd worked on it so much during my travels last weekend (between plane rides and graduation ceremonies I finished 75% of it). The surprise is coming to the symphony with me tonight. But, I digress. I put down the surprise in favor of a project I've neglected somewhat since ripping it back to resize. I just needed a break from it, but when I picked it up at knit night I was amazed to re-discover how quickly the green gable works up. I can make over an inch of progress in just one episode of Lime & Violet. Truly, it is amazing how much progress I've made on this since I picked it up again on Wednesday. I was just below the separation for the sleeves, but look how much I have now! I've not been counting stitches, but rather trying it on every few inches. Laid out flat it makes it look as if I am very oddly shaped. . .

I'm excited because I'm already in the hip increases (you can't really tell in the photo because they're much more shallow than the bust shaping. My bust shaping was quite radical because in a vertical space of about 3-4 inches I had to decrease the width of the garment by 8 inches!

I love the sleeves, and the drape on my shoulders. I think a lot of that is because I'm using a bamboo yarn.

In addition to knitting, I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of my spinning wheel. It is due to arrive on Monday. I have a committee meeting next week, so I won't really have any time to work on finishing the wheel, but starting Friday night it will be getting a coat daily. I ordered it from Paradise Fibers. Since the cost of new wheels is pretty much fixed across the internet (the only variability I've seen was actually a pricing error), I went with this company because thier website is easy to navigate and they have a wide selection of fibers. If you purchase a wheel from them you're given free shipping AND a $40 fiber credit. I've already made use of my fiber credit and these lovely fibers arrived on my doorstep yesterday complete with a hand-written thank-you note. The wheel is being shipped directly from the supplier. All I can say is I wish the supplier shipped as quickly as Paradise Fibers does!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mystery Gift Revealed

Finally, I can reveal what I have done with the Cherry Tree Hill Supersock. I was planning a surprise visit home to attend my sister's college graduation. Boy was she ever surprised. I bought the Sugar Maple colorway since her favorite colors are orange and yellow. Each sock took 3-4 knitting nights to complete.

Pattern: Jaywalker Socks by Grumperina
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Sugar Maple
Needle: US1 (I do adore Brittany's 5'' DPNs)
Modifications: Converted to an ankle sock (only 6 pattern repeats before beginning the heel).
Final thoughts: I adore the jaywalker for yarns with short color runs, so it was perfect for this CTH. I love the way the yellow makes the zigzag pattern stand out. The yarn was great to work with, too. It has a really tight twist so I didn't have to worry about splitting stitches, but the twist doesn't compromise the elasticity. Additionally, the colors are so lovely that every color change brought immense delight. I loved seeing this work up with the pattern.

The socks themselves were a big hit. Hollie loved the exciting colors and the fit. I loved that they actually fit (I was quite nervous about this; thankfully, the knit stitch is quite forgiving). I consider this project a big hit!

After paying my homage to the fibery gods of orange I decided to get back to my roots and indulge in some nice greens. The gray fiber is a sampler of alpaca top, and the silvery green is a merino/tencel blend. The yarn is a gorgeous handpaint by Miss Babs, a fiber artist in Tennessee. The colorway shown here is Forest Afternoon. It really does invoke feelings of strolling in a grove and watching the light shine through the leaves highlighting all the different shades of green. I hope the shop decides to carry more of her colorways (it looks like the sampler set they purchased has sold really well) because this yarn is downright squishable! I am looking for the perfect pattern while I work on my other projects.

Enjoy all the pretties!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Paysage aux Papillon

Tonight, I had to create a butterfly stitch. It had to be lacy and small. I needed this to be delicate to fit with its meaning in my design. I wasn't terribly impressed with attempt number one. I won't go into details though, because it's rude to talk about a lady's weight. Let us ignore the fact that I named the photo "fatty." Perhaps I should note that among my friends "fatty" is used as a term of endearment. However endearing this butterfly was, she wasn't really getting across the idea of delicate and fragile.

Enter attempt number 2. This time I used a spiffy double decrease that is centered. Don't ask me where I learned it - I was reading lace patterns to study their structure and this stitch technique stuck. Finally, mon petite papillon! She will be entering the design for my next secret project. The yarn is Debbie Bliss's Baby Cashmerino. It's wonderfully soft, but I do prefer a yarn with more twist. I'll have to be attentive, or I'll be splitting stitches everywhere!

Monday, May 7, 2007

I completed the mystery gift! I'm finished early, too. Pictures will follow next week. I turned my attention back to the green gable top. The sleeves are separated (again) and I'm about 2 inches down from the underarms. It's nice relaxing knitting, but it's made me sleepy. I'd love to go to bed, but I have to wait until 10:30 to run to the lab and change buffers. So, this blog post is really a way for me to kill that last 20 minutes before I run back in to work. I need a vacation. I've finally reached a point where I feel like I'm on top of things at work (for the most part) but maintaining this level of productivity is killing me - a few too many 12-14 hour days lately. I haven't had a day off in. . .3 weeks? It makes my fiber-filled nights all the better.

But let's think about happy yarn. Especially, my discovery of a true gem - the knitting podcast. I can kick back on the couch and stream knitting-themed talkshows from my computer (because I'm not fancy enough to have an iPod). Actually, saying that I've discovered knitting podcasts (plural) is a bit deceiving - I am still going through the archives of the first one I found - Lime & Violet. These ladies host the podcast for the yarn-obsessed masses. Hearing these friends talk about their projects, yarn, dogs, and daily lives makes it clear that they genuinely just have a really great time hanging out with each other. I have fun vicariously through them. It almost makes me a little sad since the only time I listen to it is when I'm alone. I sit there and think to myself: "Where is the Violet to my Lime?!?" I'm tempted to register for their message boards and join in on the discussion, but I am shy (yes, even online). I realize that eventually listening to this show will result in the enlargement of my sock yarn stash, but that's not really something I consider a problem.

So tonight Lime and Violet talked me through about an inch of mindless stockinette. Hey, lookit that - I killed enough time to go to back to work! I'm gonna get on that so I can get to bed as soon as I get home.

By the way, I don't know if I'll be able to make it to knit night this week. It kinda depends on a very. . . spiteful experiment.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Quarter of a Century

I had a birthday on Friday, which I shared with 2 other women in the department. It was a day of cake, which brings me up to sampling a total of 5 cakes within 9 days. AND! Three of those were from my favorite bakery ever; Dewey's. I think that's some kind of record. Since my birthday falls in the first week of May, and I've been a student for a lifetime this was my first birthday where I didn't have finals. It was kinda nice for a change.

I recieved so many thoughtful presents, I'd like to share them here. First, from Karen I was given a knitting-themed care package with a tape measure shaped like a sheep (he's actually wooly) and handmade stitch markers! I had to include the card in the picture because it looks exactly like the twist-front top! What a fabulously personalized touch! Thank you so much Karen! I've already used the sheep countless times, and when I pick up the green gable again I'll be incorporating the stitch markers.

My classmates (who are all very dear friends) also had a very thoughtful gift for me - a print I have been admiring for some time now. I went to Michael's with one of my classmates last weekend and decided to buy the print, but to my dismay I could not find it. That was because it was sitting in her living room! Those sly devils. They also gave me a Michael's giftcard which I will definately be able to use. I may buy more of Paton's SWS and make a felted bag for myself. I really did love working with it, and I think it would be fun to have a bag that matches my fantabulous Danica scarf!

I've done a little more spinning with the drop spindle. This time I used a 70:30 Merino:Tencel blend and I really enjoyed working with it. The tencel gave the merino a light sheen (not as much as seen in the image) and made the top less "grabby" so it was easier to draft farther. This was not my most even yarn, but even the slubs are hardly thick. They just look thick compared to the fine nature of the rest of the single. I was overjoyed to discover that Knit Picky is going to start carrying spinning fibers, and the sample picture that Laura posted from Maryland Sheep and Wool looks like it may have some of these similar Merino/Tencel or Merino/Silk blends based on the sheen of the samples. I can't wait to touch it all this week! I've decided that my birthday present to myself will be the spinning wheel I've been admiring since Dec. 2005. I found a shop in Texas that offers it for $135 under retail. I figure that will leave me some money to buy some fibers to play with. I can't order it until the middle of this week, though, because I won't be around to accept the package. I am very excited!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Winston-Salem for the Cure!

I just got home from the Race for the Cure and I was amazed at the turnout! I snapped a few blurry shots of the event (because if I had stopped I would have been run over!). The first photo was taken right after the start of the race, so everyone is still packed in really tight. I was in the back with the walkers so I got to take some really impressive pictures of the whole crowd. Amazingly, there are still a TON of people behind me at this point. Seriously a LOT of people showed up for this event! The group didn't spread out much for the whole walk so we were actually going at a pretty slow pace. We were walking slowly enough to goof off!

This fellow had the highest number I saw, but there were separate numbering schemes for timed participants, untimed participants, and surviors. The highest timed number I saw was in the 1600s, and my highest survivor sighting was 821. Can you believe it!?! Over 800 breast cancer survivors were there, and the total turnout was over 10,000! Let's just hope that the money raised by this event will help us find better treatments soon!

Finally, just another shot of the sea of people that participated in this event. Keep in mind that the runners are nowhere in sight in this photo. All of downtown was shut down for this event, and the broadcaster/MC said this was the largest event in Winston Salem. Way to turn out, W-S!