Monthly Archives: July 2005

A stitch among friends.

The first thing you should know is that Sharon waited for me. Though it would certainly not be a hardship to knit for an indeterminate amount of time in the lovely space that is Threadbear Fiber Arts, I was an hour late meeting Sharon last Friday afternoon. As a person who is ordinarily both punctual and considerate, being late for a new friend is enough to make me break out in hives.

The second thing you should know is that Sharon is nice enough that I was immediately at ease, and we chatted away like friends who had known each other awhile (though admittedly, there were gaps that needed filling in, because, dear reader, I have the memory of a sieve). Also? Meeting Internet strangers is not nearly as strange as you might think. I am not on Stephanie’s Meet Every Knitter in America book tour plan, but every blogger of the few I have met has been a fascinating and fun person. Internet does not equal stalker. [At this time, in the “full disclosure, non-stalking department” I should mention that I met LynnH the next day while she was teaching a buttonmaking class – I knew who she was, but she didn’t know that I knew, and it seemed like an interruption to say “I read your blog and I’m a blogger too! Aren’t we cool?” Instead, I just contented myself with saying “Those buttons are so cool I would come back to take a class with you,” which was totally true, and I totally would. Hi, LynnH! — Ed.]

The third thing you should know is that Threadbear is huge, as yarn stores go. And while Rob certainly has a hard time resisting the charms of any self-respecting novelty yarn, the thing that popped out at me was the color, everywhere. You could tell that they had chosen many, many of their yarns not (just) because they were the latest and the greatest, but because the colors available were extraordinary. They had Manos del Uruguay so beautiful it make me weak in the knees, but they also had a more “ordinary” Jo Sharp DK Wool in a tweedy forest green so lovely I let out an involuntary gasp when I saw it. [No, I do not know what the deal is with me and green; apparently it's become my go-to color without me even realizing it -- Ed.] To the heartbreakingly gorgeous skeins of Manos I left on the shelf, I say “we shall meet again, my friends”. To the DK Wool now in my knitting basket, I say “You’ll make a good swatch or the Must Have Cardigan (which I still must have).”

The fourth thing you should know is that I think I have yarn for my SockaPal2za pal – Alison’s favorite, the Artyarns’ Supermerino in what I am referring to as “hokey smokes, that’s pink” pink. Sharon and I, both color fiends, went “ooh,” so I knew I was on the right track. I’m swatching now with an eye toward something simple and lacy that doesn’t compete with the beautiful variegation. It’s harder to find a lace pattern for what is essentially worsted yarn than you’d think – but the worsted-ness will almost guarantee these socks are finished by September. In the photo you’ll see a little flower motif I swiped from a sweater in the Green Mountain Spinnery book. They work well enough, but 1. They’d be upside down on a cuff-down sock (thanks to Knit One, Purl Too’s flower orientation specialist – a.k.a my husband – for pointing this out) and I’m not prepared to experiment with toe-up socks for the very first time for my pal. And 2. I was unable to consistently finish a flower row without adding an extra stitch that wasn’t supposed to be there. An extra stitch here or there among friends is not a big deal, but I’d hate to send socks that start out as one size and end up as another by the time you get to the end.

The fifth thing you should know is that much as I am trying to ignore spinning as a hobby, I am now also ignoring quilting. [Seriously, though I love handspun yarn, I feel that handspinning itself should be called "the slowest way ever to make yarn, suitable only for those with nearly infinite patience." For some reason, quilting seems much faster. -- Ed.] Threadbear’s Matt and I ignored quilting together by having a nice chat about how much we liked it. Okay, Matt talked about how much he liked it, and I, who cannot operate a sewing machine and considered it a personal victory when I reattached a button to a shirt last week, talked about how much I would like to do it. Can you blame me? If I had known quilting was not all about gingham, I would have been interested much sooner. I look terrible in gingham.

Speaking of the end, I was truly sorry to say goodbye to Sharon, Rob, Matt, Connor, and my man Tate – the only dog I know who speaks fluent knitting (“What are you knitting? Can I lean against you while you knit? Your yarn smells like dog and cat – that’s awesome!”). See you all soon – I promise!

P.S. Cara, I’ve started Don Quixote – woo hoo! Everyone should be knitting and reading this summer.

World enough, and time*

While it’s fair to say that I didn’t start my vacation knitting as we pulled out of the driveway, I did have a lot of time on my hands, so I got a lot of knitting done (insert cheering crowd noise here – or is that just me cheering?). Ten days on the road will do that for you. [There are a few pictures here if you want some non-knitting vacation photos, including lobster – ed.]

I had big plans to visit all kinds of New England yarn shops. If that sounds like a great vacation to you, here are a few words of advice: call ahead. Is the shop still there? Sadly, Cottage Craft fled Freeport in the face of rampant consumerism. Will the shop be open when you arrive? Bartlett Yarns is only open during the week – do these people have lives or something? This sign was worth the trip, though. Wool is also gladly received here, after all.

Furthermore, you and your traveling companion should have a mutual understanding of your itinerary – Halcyon Yarns fell by the wayside in our earnestness to reach lobster roll nirvana by dinnertime, and due to a tragic misunderstanding, I was under the impression that backtracking just 9 miles (plus shopping time) would put us woefully behind schedule in our quest to reach points north at a reasonable hour. When your husband says “It will take five hours to get there”, confirm that this is five hours from where you are, not five hours from the Maine border, two hours behind you.

But there was indeed stash enhancement, on a decorous scale. I was completely smitten with Green Mountain Spinnery, and loved my tour, personally guided by David (“well, if you won’t be around later, how about now?”). You should know that even though the Spinnery has a carder bigger than a Volkswagen Beetle, your house is bigger than their building. I have a really small cute house, and my house is bigger. Why I am not using all of this space to make yarn, I don’t know. I would put this bumpersticker on my car, though.

Thanks to the Interweb, even though I stubbornly refuse to learn to spin, I knew all about carding and setting twist. David was impressed, in a laid-back Vermont-y kind of way. I was impressed because they make a lot of yarn for such a small space, and they use machines, but once you see how important the expert human eye is to their process, it will make you want to buy out the shop. Someone made this yarn for you to knit with – who are you to say no? I contented myself with some Cotton Comfort to make lacy socks from the Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book.

Thankfully, even though I do not spin, there are those who will spin with me in mind – not too long after we discovered Halcyon Yarn had been left behind in error, we stumbled upon the Purple Fleece, a shop so out of the way I worried no other people would find it, but with handspun like this, it’s worth seeking out.

So far, it’s been all about the stashing – here’s proof of the knitting. When we last left the Cabled Rib sweater, I had been doggedly working away on it, and [shh!] had made a few errors in the seemingly simple pattern – I’m sure this never happens to you. I was disenchanted with my lack of skill and wondering if I should rip it all out and start again. Here is how I know my knitting skills are growing: I picked it back up after my hiatus, looked it over, and fixed the errors – all of them. Why not? I had all the time in the world as the RV rolled down the road, so who cares if I spend an hour figuring out why a rib looks funny or a cable twist has gone astray? For ten whole days, it was about the process, and it was good (see? it’s longer, too – actual progress in addition to improvements).

My knitting also went sightseeing: the sweater saw most of New England, and this photo was taken at Lake Meacham in the Adirondacks, and the finished Opal sock waved hello to Niagara Falls. I’ll let you in on a little secret – it was too hot and cramped to keep trying the sock on as I got close to the end, so it’s a little short. I’m going to have to pick out the bindoff and fix that by knitting more – and I’m looking forward to the fix.

* With apologies to Andrew Marvell