Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Yarn Haul Without Comparison

My favorite yarn store is, regrettably, going out of business. I am broken-hearted at the thought of losing this priceless resource.

Of course, with the imminent demise of my favorite shop, it was imperative that I make some purchases to tide me over until I find another favorite yarn shop. Or open my own. But that's another story.

So today I went out to the shop and this is what I got:

In the upper left corner you see balls of red, gold and white Zara along with a ball of green wool acquired at the Knitter's Frolic. These are destined to be a sweater for Doug -- along with a lot of other balls of green.

Immediately below the Zara is a hank of yellow/cream baby alpaca. This will be mittens for the upcoming winter.

Lying next to the alpaca are two balls of alpaca in lovely jewel tones. These will become either mittens or a hat.

The mauve is an alpaca/silk blend, destined to become a sweater shown in the current Interweave Knits. For myself, if you can imagine.

There are two hanks of hand-dyed alpaca, crying to become a shawl.

Two balls of Regia silk, planned to be a pair of socks for Doug.

Three balls of cotton, which want to be a summer top.

Eleven hanks of a lovely cotton blend which also want to become a summer top.

There are some balls of Debbie Bliss cotton/angora blend which will become a summer top.

There are also ten hanks of Silky Wool which will become a wonderful top for me.

So much knitting, so many fibers. My mind went into overload and I couldn't give you a careful description of them.

Sigh. I'm in heaven.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Learning about myself

Apparently, not only can I be bought (see previous post on June 15), I am also not trustworthy when visiting yarn stores.

You see, Stephanie hosted her birthday party at Lettuce Knit in Toronto. Using the excuse that I wanted her autograph, I hied down to Toronto and perused said yarn store.

Honestly, these skeins just followed me home. Er ... they jumped into my arms, begging to be welcomed into a happy home. (Never mind that Stephanie and I dumped the basket holding the alpaca yarn onto the floor with our fondling. Nor the flailing elbows that prevailed around the basket holding the other.)

So what you see here is the result of my trek to town:
On the left you see two skeins of Misti Alpaca, 100% baby alpaca. The colour is actually more of a buttery yellow, and the texture is to die for. I now own 800 meters of this delight, and am contemplating a shawl.

On the right you see one skein of Seasilk, from Handmaiden. This fiber is 70% silk and 30% Seacell. The fiber purportedly exudes vitamin E while you are working with it and while wearing the finished product. We'll see. All I know is that it reminds me of my trip to the Caribbean last year with my daughter.

Honestly, they followed me home!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday already?

So where in the world does time go? I can't believe it's been so long since my last post.

What's been happening in the meantime? Well, I've been helping out a friend at her yarn shop. Yes, it is now official. I CAN be bought. I've also started teaching a knitting class at the Uxbridge Library, jointly sponsored by the Friends of the Uxbridge Library and Yonder Yarns. That does take up some time.

My younger sister announced that she is expecting a baby this fall. This means that not only do I get to knit for a baby, but I also get to make things for the neice as well. After all, one mustn't forget the new big sister, right?

Here you see Emery's sweater. The pattern is from Sirdar, #3061. It is a reasonably easy pattern, both to read and to knit. Be aware, however, that the pattern details have been omitted from the sleeve directions. The mistake was quite easy to spot, so I didn't have to spend much time making corrections.

The yarn itself is Magic Garden Classic, a super-wash wool. The colour is just scrumptious. The yarn was purchased at the Knitters Frolic last April. The sweater is seen here pre-blocking. I also need to find the perfect buttons. Any ideas? The neice is 4 years old ...

I also discovered that my guage was strange with this pattern. I've been doing pretty well, getting guage. With this pattern, needle and wool ... I basically ended up using the stitch numbers for the size 1-2 year size, and using the length directions for the 3-4 year size. I really haven't experienced this before. But it worked, so I guess I can't complain. Well, I CAN. I'm just not planning on it.

In other news ... the Yarn Harlot's birthday was Wednesday. She celebated by having a party at Lettuce Knit in Toronto. Just because I'm a wild and crazy kind of person, I decided to go. I took the GO train from the Oshawa station to the Danforth Station, walked up to the Main Station of the TTC and rode the subway over to the Spadina Station. In a perfect world, I would've then gotten on the Spadina streetcar and had a pleasant ride to the proper cross-street.

Instead, I missed the transfer to the streetcar and started walking. Now, it is legend and well-known amongst my family and friends that I am totally directionless. So of course I turned the wrong direction out of the subway station and started walking. After two blocks I realized that the sun was setting on my left ... which meant that I was walking north. This knowledge really pleased me since I am so directionless. Unfortunately, the store is located in Kensington Market which is south of the Spadina station. I turned around and started walking south. Along the way, I saw a beautiful double rainbow. It was getting close to 9:00 pm, and I was afraid that I would miss the festivities, but at least I saw the rainbow. It was worth it.

I arrived at Lettuce Knit and discovered that the festivities were just warming up. Stephanie handed me a beer and welcomed me. I perched next to a couple of new friends -- also knitting baby projects. Melanie, who was gracious enough to see that I boarded the proper streetcar at the end of the evening, had a baby bootie in her bag. It was knitted but not seamed, as she was not sure that it really was a bootie. I showed her that it was, loaned her a needle and scissors, and made a new friend. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to get an e-mail address. If anyone knows who she is and how she can be contacted, it would be great if you could share with me.

Finally, after consuming the beer donated by Stephanie and having some munchies, I asked her to sign her book for me and pose for a photo. She did. I am so lucky. And Stephanie is truly a wonderful person.

Stephanie says "Same time, next year." I am *SO* going to be there.

Monday, June 05, 2006

In search of the perfect rocking chair

I don't know about anyone else, but I know that I love rocking chairs. In my humble opinion, the world would be a lot better place if we all sat down and spent some time in a rocking chair, sipping tea, and even knitting a row or two. The problem with this (and it pains me greatly to admit that there is a problem) is that a good rocking chair is difficult to find. Difficult? Try nearly impossible.

In my house, there are currently three rocking chairs. All purchased with me in mind, and purchased by me. Tested beforehand, I might add. These chairs are sly and sneaky. They test out perfectly fine in the store or at the yard sale. Once convinced they have a safe home, they morph into evil beings.

For instance, take this chair. This is an Ikea chair. My son and daughter-in-law have two of them at their apartment. I sat in them and rocked. They were wonderful. Quiet and comfortable. I even knit at their apartment. The chairs there cooperated wonderfully.

So we purchased a pair of chairs, exactly like my son's, for our home. Unfortunately for us, this year the chairs seem to be the most popular chair Ikea carries. We managed to score the chairs and chair pads we wanted. After several trips to our local Ikea, we have even managed to procure the pads for the footstools. The footstool itself? Not to be found. Scarce is an understatement. We have been looking since last August. To no avail. The chair would be just fine with a footstool. Without? Well, I'm not the tallest person in the world. My feet don't quite hit the floor, and the chair cuts into the back of my knees. Besides, and this is not the fault of the chair, this chair is in the middle of my living room. The daughter does her homework on the floor right in front of this chair. The television is 8 feet away. The stereo is likewise 8 feet away. One or both of them seem to be constantly in use. For lace knitting, this arrangement leaves a lot to be desired.

To obtain the necessary peace and quiet for lace knitting, I often retreat to the bedroom. This is a parental oasis of calm and quiet. No children are permitted, except by special dispensation. Only one cat is allowed in, and she is the quiet one. One would think that the atmosphere would be conducive to lace knitting. Wouldn't you?

One would think. However, the bentwood rocker has other ideas. It squeaks on the backward motion, and it squeals on the forward motion. I still haven't figured out how, since there are no moving parts. But squeak and squeal it does. I suppose if I rocked in a constant, even motion no one would mind. But I seem to rock furiously -- probably when I am on the return row which has no yarn-overs or knit two togethers. Then I rock and pause, rock and pause. Followed by furious rocking.

This drives my husband crazy. It doesn't do my mental state any good either. Squeak. Squeal. Squeak. Squeal. Kind of defeats the relaxing purpose of knitting.

So I went searching for a rocking chair that would not squeak. I wandered yard sales, hoping for that elusive perfect rocking chair. This chair followed me home one Saturday.

At its previous home, it rocked quietly. Smoothly backward, smoothly forwards. And silently. The owner claimed to have rocked her babies in this chair. Quietly backward, quietly forward. I tested it. Really. Tested it thoroughly, I might add. And it was quiet. So I plunked my hard-earned cash down and brought it home.

My lovely husband carried it upstairs. I lovingly washed the cushion covers so that they would not smell. I started my Fiddlesticks Knitting Whisper Scarf out of lace-weight alpaca from Silver Cloud Alpacas. And the blasted chair squeaks. Horribly. Even if I'm not moving! How does it do that?! Oh, I've figured out that if I sit in exactly the right spot, with my left foot in the perfect place on the floor, my right foot in its precisely proper position, with my tongue pushed firmly behind my top front teeth, the chair does not complain. But have you tried to knit lace under those conditions? Impossible, I say.

There will be a yard sale Saturday in Port Perry. There is a better-than-average chance that you will find at least one rocking chair there!