Saturday, October 25, 2008

SAFF 2008

I left for SAFF bright and early this morning with Karen and Gena. OK, it wasn't bright, but it was early. Actually it was rainy and cold and dark. And, in our sleepy haze we actually started off going east instead of west (seriously, we'd gone almost 15 miles before we realized it). Fortunately, (once we turned around) the weather got better and better as we headed west. By the time we arrived in Asheville it was a lovely day!

We had attended the fiber festival last year and all of us were completely overwhelmed. This year we knew what to expect and I can honestly say I enjoyed the experience more knowing what I was getting into. My biggest regret from last year was that I was so afraid of spending too much money that I only bought 1 skein of yarn. There was another skein which I had coveted, but I resisted. For this last year it has been "the one that got away." So, first thing on my agenda was to return to Miss Babs' booth and get a skein of sock yarn in the Saturn colorway! Isn't it gorgeous? I think it looks particularly exciting against my gym towel!

"Yummy" Hand-Painted Sock and Baby Yarn (400 yds, Superwash)
by Miss Babs

Colorway: Saturn

My other goal for the day was to get some fiber. I didn't get any last year because I really didn't know enough to shop smart for fibers. But, I also hesitated to order anything online because I really need to handle a fiber before I can guess whether I'll be able to spin it. I was able to find 2 nice fibers to work with. The first is a solid Bluefaced Leicester Top. Everyone says BFL is a perfect fiber for beginners and it is deliciously soft. Throughout the day I kept reaching into my tote to give it a little squeeze. I was surrounded by petable yarn, but I really wanted to sink my fingers into that BFL.

100% Bluefaced Leicester (3 oz) from River's Edge Weaving Studio

Colorway: Moss (I think)

While green is lovely, I think it'll be nice to spin up some nice variegated yarn, too. So I finally chose one of the many available multi-colored braids.

Merino Top Multicolor (4 oz) from Cloverleaf Farms
Colorway: Cassis

My final purchase of the day was inspired by a shop sample. These mitts were laying out and looking all cozy, so I slipped one on. They were so soft, and instantly warm. It's no wonder - they were made from 100% cashmere. BUT, it's the most affordable cashmere yarn I've come across. I will definitely be making a pair similar to the shop sample I saw.

Taiping DK (100% Cashmere - 220 yds)
by The Sanguine Gryphon
Colorway: Teal

It was really wonderful to spend a whole day with friends basking in tactile delights. I certainly hope I'll be able to return to SAFF after graduation. Finally, I'll leave you with the real star of the fiber festival:

A bebeh goat!
He drew a bigger crowd than even the most crowded vendor stall.
It just goes to show that the only thing more loved than fiber is the animal it came from. Thanks for all your extra fluff, guys!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Long Overdue

Every time I talk to my youngest sister she scolds me for not blogging. It's true - I've been horribly lax in my blogging, though I have continued to knit in the meantime.

Since I last blogged:
1. I had LASIK surgery. My vision went from ~20/400 to 20/20. Of course, I am thrilled.
2. I donated my hair to Locks of Love. I'm proud to say that my ponytail put all the others to shame. Alone it was longer and thicker than the other 5 together. I'm still trying to decide if I'll let it grow out to donate again.
3. I've done a lot of "science," though I still have nothing in the way of publications to show for it.
4. I've made a new friend. I make friends pretty easily, but this stands out as being one of those special friendships that you know is going to last over the years.
5. One of my special friends moved to Ohio. I shall miss our burrito excursions.
6. I converted a yarn doubter into a true knitting addict. She's been knitting for all of ~4 months and she's already designing her own patterns and tackling beaded lace. I couldn't be prouder of her.
7. I've also knit stuff.

My latest project was part of a mini knit-a-long with Gena, Karen, and Melinda. We bought yarn and started knitting the Central Park Hoodie in April, but when the warm weather came around we all lost our love for wool temporarily. But, as the end of summer drew near we all jumped back in full force. All of us finished our sweaters within a couple of weeks of each other.

We debuted all 4 this weekend at a breast cancer seminar. One of the morning sessions was "healing arts" and we held knitting classes for the survivors attending the conference. It was my first time teaching more than 1 person how to knit. It's definitely a lot harder than teaching one-on-one! While the survivors ate lunch we had a short knitted fashion show to demonstrate what they could do with their newly acquired skill. At one point, the four of us all came out wearing our finished Central Park Hoodies.

Gena's hubby isn't comfortable with her face being on her blog, so I figured it'd be rude to have it on mine. Pretend we're basking in her knitterly awesomeness, kay?

It was really great knitting the same pattern. We could all discuss yarn choices, sizing, and pattern modifications on Saturday afternoons over lunch. Plus, working with others kept me inspired to actually finish the project. It's always interesting how four people can use the same pattern and end up with four very different sweaters.

I'm soooo happy with the length!

Pattern: Central Park Hoodie by Heather Lodinsky
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Ginger (5 balls)
Needles: US 5 and 7
Modifications: I reduced the length of the sleeves by 1.5 inches, but after a good soak they ended up too long. If I roll the sleeves up the length is perfect, though. I knit a combination of sizes. The back is a 34'' while the fronts and sleeves follow the 36'' instructions. I'm quite happy with the size.

I love Cascade 220. Really, I do. But Cascade really dropped the ball this time. The dye in this yarn wasn't set properly and I washed each piece at least 8 times (the water still didn't run clear at this point - I just gave up). If I'd added vinegar and heat to the results of the first soak I would've had a very potent dye bath. There was actually a difference in the colour of the washed and unwashed pieces, but it's still close enough that I'm happy with the colour. I won't be wearing light shirts under this cardigan for a long time.

I definitely see this becoming a staple in my fall/winter wardrobe. I've been a fan of the CPH for a long time and I'm thrilled that all of us were so successful with our sweaters. We all ended up with exactly what we wanted. And really, isn't that one of the best things about knitting?