Category Archives: knitting in public

Not for lack of trying.

Yes, there has been Olympic knitting chez knitonepurltoo, but my Olympic sweater was completed in the wee hours of March 1, long after the closing ceremonies were over. I am not as broken up about this as I thought I might be; I made a valiant effort, I tried some new things (first yoked sweater!), but I ended up with a garment that didn’t work out (which made staying up until 1:30 a.m. a bitter pill to swallow, let me tell you).

Modern Olympic Garden I knitted the Modern Garden Cardigan in DROPS Eskimo, colorway 29 (a spring green, which longtime readers could use to safely win bets on “What is Donna’s favorite color?“). That cardigan is super-cute and very knitworthy, but it ended up being a high-stakes project for a few reasons, chief among them the fact that I did not get row gauge, and even though I was just one row off, I ended up with a cardigan 3″ longer than I expected as a result.

I didn’t have a lot of maneuvering room in terms of needle size; the pattern calls for size 15 needles to give you a stitch gauge of 2 stitches to the inch, and I needed to go to size 17 needles to get that. I tried the knitter’s math trick of using the numbers from a different size to get the fit I wanted, but the Modern Garden sizing is fairly spread out because there are only so many number combinations that will allow for those beautiful, large leaf motifs. So the knitonepurltoo support crew (aka my husband) made a trip to Joann’s with me to get a big pink set of Susan Bates circulars, size 17.

And I knit the thing. Like any knitting story, there were setbacks (the large was too large, so I reknit in medium), and triumphs (the leaf motifs were easy to work and very pretty). But the spider sense that was tingling pre-Olympics, leading me to question my project choice and even write to Nordic Mart and ask if I could return the yarn, was accurate. Other knitters had gauge issues and several found the sleeve sizing small – me too. But I enjoyed knitting it, and was glad that I followed through to the end, even if I did feel like the guy who crosses the finish line last. My one regret? I turned off the Olympics after the (awesome) hockey game because I didn’t want to see the torch go out without having finished, and I missed William Shatner and the dancing maple leaves.

I also have no idea what to make with the yarn, once I’ve ripped it back – a baby sweater? A felted bag? Something crocheted? I’m mulling my options, because not being able to get the DROPS Eskimo out of my stash seemed roundly unfair after so much hard work.

Corwyn's Sock My Modern Garden mishap taught me nothing about knitting to a deadline, though – I picked my needles right back up and polished off a pair of birthday socks for my husband’s godson, finished the day of the birthday party during a spinning workshop offered by my local guild. These are the Yarrow Ribbed socks from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush; I subbed in a garter stitch short-row heel for the flap and gusset style. He tried on my mom’s cashmere socks when they were close to the finish line, and asked for a pair with stripes – who am I to say no to that? So I didn’t medal in the Knitting Olympics, but to one seven-year old who may still be wearing his socks, I’m pretty cool. I can live with that.

Next up: I get serious about spinning, and progress is made on Fionn.

I am not a knitting quitter, but…

I am not a knitting quitter. I’m not really a quitter, period; I think persistence is a virtue that serves knitters well (e.g. the SlogalongCable and Rib and I are proud members). I have abandoned just one project in my years of knitting, and I was happy to do it, because no one reknits a sweater three times, right? Right?

But here, my friends, is the bitter truth: I am frogging Meadow Flowers.

I really don’t think I have enough yarn, and the fear of running out is outweighing the love for a great pattern. I have ~500 yards (probably less) of small-batch hand-dyed yarn, and the pattern takes 500 yards. Even I admit this is the knitting equivalent of stuffing ten pounds of sugar in a five pound bag. So, so often, I choose the hard thing. I go the long way. I pick the complicated option. I was all set to swap yarn samples with Cassie to see if the extra yarn she had matched mine…Then it occurred to me: I could simply pick a new shawl pattern which requires less yarn. Brilliant! And also, easier!

This handy list, complete with yardage makes the picking of a new pattern fun, in a scientific, research-y kind of way: Shetland Triangle? No – not enough yarn. Flower Basket Shawl? Yes – er, in fact, I already have yarn stashed for this, so planning on knitting two of them might not be the best choice. This PDF featuring arrowhead lace staff projects from Interweave Knits contains the Arrowhead Lace stole (technically more yarn than I have, but it’s an “end-it-whenever” project) and the Little Arrowhead Shawl, a Pam Allen joint that takes just 280 yards of yarn. I could just about make two of them – but then I’d end up with the same nailbiting “will she or won’t she have enough yarn” situation. I can’t tell which shawl I should cast on for quite yet, but I do know it’s time to restash the Twinkletoes sock yarn Au revoir, Meadow Flowers!

PopUp Paws, completed In happier news, even though it is clearly not mitten weather, I have finished the Pop Up Paws, so that’s one project down. Vital stats: 2.375 balls of Bergere Irland yarn to make the largest size in a tweedy brown purchased from toadal discount yarn. Size 3 and 5 needles, with the rounded mitten top option (mitten cuff changed to 2×2 ribbing from garter because I wanted to). I liked this pattern a lot, and would recommend it for the sheer volume of detailed information within, plus the fine fit of the finished product. Thumbs (and fingers) up!

In even happier news, I was the lucky winner of Bonne Marie’s “spring fling” contest, and I am now the proud recipient of the Ariann pattern and seven beautiful blue skeins of Cotton-Ease. If you know of my general ambivalence toward cotton, you might have asked why I would risk winning a yarn with cotton in the name? One word: color. It’s so, so pretty, and I think it will be beautiful as a summer cardigan – one cannot live by wool alone. Swatching has commenced, eagerly. Thank you, Bonne Marie!

Stay tuned for our next episode in which I extol the virtues of Combination Knitting (and the charming Annie Modesitt), and the entrelac sock goes on a road trip to meet Lucy Neatby.

The cheap seats.

There were so many people at the Ann Arbor Public Library on Sunday that latecomers (or those who simply wanted to sneak in a side trip to Zingerman’s, like my friend Jen and I) watched Stephanie on TV in the fourth floor conference room. On TV. The view was pretty good from what I referred to as the cheap seats, but I still turned to Jen and said “I think I’ve crossed some sort of line when I drive a couple hundred miles to watch knitting on TV.” Heh. Between the hundred or so knitters and spinners in the conference room and two hundred downstairs at the talk itself, I think a Stephanie Pearl-McPhee book signing now officially qualifies as its own traveling fiber festival, albeit one at which Stephanie is the only vendor.

I was shocked that Steph knew who I was: I guess it’s all the stalking of that sweater that shall not be named. That, and the discovery of our mutual dislike of batwing sleeves. She called me a celebrity; I should have pointed out that even on my best days I can’t get people to stand in line to talk to me, but I just laughed instead. I set aside my Midwestern reticence (the same politness that doesn’t allow me to call someone after 9 p.m., ever) to ask for a photo, which also qualifies as a Retro Rib progress picture (I’m in the middle, the only one not holding a Pearl-McPhee sock) – it’s all foot, all the time now. Jen is holding Stephanie’s other traveling sock, because you can’t take a picture without knitting in your hand if you’re with Stephanie. I’m sure both of Stephanie’s socks are done now – if I didn’t know better, I would say she and Mrs. Weasley shared the “it just knits itself” gene.

But it occurred to me – that’s the beauty of something wacky like driving a few hundred miles to watch a knitting talk on TV. All of the knitting I saw didn’t just “knit itself” – it was made by hand. Someone wanted to make it, picked up needles and yarn, and went to work. Those crazy beautiful lace shawls, the multitudes of socks, the felted bags didn’t just pop out of a shopping bag; they were made by someone who cared about making them. I don’t love yarn or patterns indiscriminately, but just thinking about how much work went into all of those finished objects makes me love all kinds of knitters just a little more. Even if they’re in love with entrelac, or batwing sleeves.

Making the doughnuts.

I’m so sorry – I keep thinking I’ve actually written something here, but every time I look, it’s still the same, and I realize “You were just thinking that about the sock – actually writing it down is another completely different step.” Herewith, some notes from the underground (ha!):

Again with the Retro Rib: The heel is turned, the gusset is mere rows from being completed – all that remains is the foot, and of course, the toe. I have approximately a million hours (okay, a week’s worth) of software training coming up and I thought “this pattern is too complex to knit while I look like I am paying attention for eight solid hours a day.” Why not start something new? Something simple, yet not just another stockinette sock? Inspired by this lovely Trekking sock and the purchase of some Trekking in my favorite colors (lime green and pink – I can’t look away!), I started the chevron pattern my own self and then when I stopped to admire my work as Maggie Righetti recommends, I noticed I had screwed up twice in the space of two hours. The garter stitch cuff I’ve got covered, but lose one YO and it seems lost forever. Unsurprisingly, I am back to thinking the Retro Ribs are looking like a good choice (but I reserve the right to give in to desperation and start a plainer sock – eight hours a day is a lot of training).

I’m feeling pretty monagamous, project-wise: I have just 2 1/2 things in progress right now: the Retro Ribs, the Cable Cardigan (Good Lord – remember that?) sweater – and the 1/2 a project is a dishcloth I haven’t shown you yet. How virtuous is that? I am finishing things I have started, I am knitting from stash, and it’s all good. In the spirit of knitting simplicity (I urge you check out that link), I even destashed, and sold off some yarn when Knit One Purl Too’s Color Choosing Specialist (aka my husband) said “That Lopi is too brown – it would be too much for me.” I can take a hint and I’m not going to spend a lot of time knitting a sweater that’s not the bee’s knees for my sweetie. Between that and the finishing of projects, I’m feeling…simpler.

I’m also feeling busier – my lack of posts can be attributed in part to a huge freelance writing project that has me writing a lot, almost every day for the next few months…in addition to my regular job, where I write and raise money and work with volunteers and analyze spreadsheets and charts and all that. On the bright side, freelancing pays extraordinarily well, especially when compared with the average nonprofit salary. But I’ll try to keep updates coming; even as my free time dwindles you know knitting will be the last luxury I’ll give up. And when the stash is small enough, my future yarn purchases will already be paid for. Sweet deal, no?

I’ve taken up decoupage…just kidding!

It’s been so quiet around here, you might have thought I knitted that last dishrag and moved on to other crafts – not a chance. Truth be told, there’s been a lot of knitting round these parts, but very little finishing. Nevertheless, the satisfaction quotient is pretty high because the finish line is getting closer.

Mom’s socks are almost completely re-finished – pictures to follow once I pick a toe style and actually cross the finish line. I reknitted a large part of sock #1 after discovering her foot is narrower than I thought. Conveniently, ripping a whole foot (sigh) allowed me to rationalize ripping out both the heels in progress and reknitting them as Sherman shortrow heels (Sherman shortrow shounds like some kind of dog, doesn’t it?). Well worth the effort – I am not tired of watching the short row magic happen.

It's retro and ribby The second Retro Rib is cast on: we’re past the cuff, and we’re into Legville – woohoo! After languishing in my “knits in progress” pile for more than a year too long, my current plan is to knit one pattern repeat a day on the second sock (that’s four rows daily, for those of you playing at home). That doesn’t seem unmanageable, plus then they’ll be done, and I won’t get those “you never finish anything you offer to knit for me” looks from Knit One Purl Too’s sock blocker deployment staff (a.k.a. my husband). As I keep saying “If you like the first sock, you’ll love the pair.” He can’t wait. Also worth mention is the fabulous sock bag I got from Trek in a swap for some custom sock blockers – I feel so organized and stylish, I can’t even say. Yes I can – it’s great. Thanks, Trek!

From the “be your own best pal” department, I bring you my East Coast stash enhancement, courtesy of Knitty City and A Good Yarn (where I met Alison and Johanna, a highlight of my trip). These two shops basically engaged in a “nice-off” to charm the pants off me: Pearl opened the shop (I’ll let you mull over the joys of private yarn shopping for a moment) even though she was supposed to be closed because my “I came all the way from Ohio to see you” impressed her – no jaded New Yorker here. She has a nice selection of classic, luxury and sock yarns in a really charming space; I walked away a happy camper with some Gems Pearl and some…Trekking! Woohoo! These are both new yarns to me, a key criteria when looking for stash enhancement. I also scored some Classic Elite Bazic in two yummy orange shades for a pair of fun mittens or fingerless gloves for me. Clara reviews it here, so it’s nice to know I’m on top of the latest trends.

And A Good Yarn is crammed full of the good stuff – they have something close to 200 kinds of yarn in a space the size of my living room, and it’s all Rowan, Jaeger, Noro, Debbie Bliss, Mountain Colors etc., etc. I think Alison and Johanna were a wee bit surprised that all I came away with were two mulberry skeins of Koigu KPM and some Chibi sock needles – but I was a woman on a mission, so I just kept repeating “don’t forget – solid color sock yarn” under my breath. I have the urge to knit some Nancy Bush socks (either the Shell Socks from Vintage Socks or her Denmark socks from Knitting on the Road) and/or a pair of Pomatomi – the possibilities are endless.

For now, I have my nose in several books, courtesy of Crafter’s Choice, including Knitting Rules, which was as entertaining as I expected, given Stephanie’s inspired lunacy (now all I have to do is get to Toronto so she can autograph it for me), and Wrap Style, because I must to be making the Twisty Turns wrap, now please. [I’m currently in denial about the fact that my own rack is significantly larger than the model’s — Ed.]. Under the influence of Ann and Kay, thanks to this entry re: the Irregular Rib Raglan (see another great version knitted up here), I also purchased Loop-d-Loop from the estimable Teva Durham. My husband’s first sweater isn’t even finished and I’m adding this one to the list. I also got some book by these two knitters who like to make dishcloths and are fond of Rowan – you might have heard of it? Two cowgirls on the cover and log cabin knitting inside? Yep, that’s the one. Even though it’s light on the things I ordinarily make (and I don’t often knit with cotton), I figured out why I like it so much – Ann and Kay’s attitude toward knitting, hellbent for leather and full of fun, reminds me of Elizabeth Zimmerman. I might be a party pooper for saying this, but the world only needs so many knitting books (One Skein? Is it really that hard to figure out what to do?) – we definitely need more like these.

What are my options?

I was no longer truly in love with the Retro Rib sock – I loved the yarn, I loved the pattern – I even sort of loved them together. But this project had languished in my basket for far too long – and absence lack of progress did not make the heart grow fonder. I think the moment of truth came last week while I was fixing fudging the heel flap in the middle of an opera master class (yes, not only have I knitted with Chrisitine Lavin, I have now technically knitted with opera star Marilyn Horne, who is very, very funny). I was lamenting (for the millionth time) my use of lovely yarn that is nonetheless dark and obscures stitches, a huge obstacle to the production of the high-quality socks we hope for here at Knit One, Purl Too.

My moment was just like the instant you see a ding in your new car, and though you love it in spite of the ding, you love it a little less now that you know it’s no longer perfect. Your mind wanders for just a tiny moment to contemplate the next new car, because the car with the ding is now “old”. I began thinking about new socks. Should I

a. Throw over the old, bad socks for new, good socks – nothing fascinates like a new pattern, and I have been waiting to do Danny Ouelette’s Crossing Cables socks for months.

How long has this languished? Months and months. b. Spend an entire Saturday on the couch nursing a beagle who ate something which did not agree with him (thus he was not allowed anywhere he might unexpectedly deposit…something…on carpet or bedding), with the only knitting in reach being one Retro Rib sock.

I’ll take B. for $500, Alex. I feel almost virtuous saying that: “I’ll stick with it.” Because you don’t know it’s going to turn out better until it does.

In other knitting landmarks, the very first ball of yarn I ever wound from a skein (wound by hand because I was a Luddite without a winder art the time), some navy Cascade 220, recently became the last bit of the body of the ToteAround. That’s Kureyon 40 (the blues) and Kureyon 102 (the orange/yellow/pink/blue); I tried several different options for the 102 including knitting from the predominantly pink end of this ball (I never thought I would say this, but it was too pink) and knitting with earth-toned scraps of Kureyon 81(surprisingly, too earth-toned), but the third try is juuuust right. Knit One Purl Too’s Aesthetic Consultant (aka my husband) compared it to a sunset over a lake – you can’t beat that with a stick! Like a sunset over a lake, all right

Now I am occupied with the miles and miles of i-cord for the top edging of the bag – the 45 inches for the strap is just the beginning. Then you knit on enough i-cord to circle the top of the bag and the strap three times; for the record, I have 1 1/2 trips around the horn to go. While I love the knitted-on i-cord technique, I know the i-cord will make things sturdy and I love the bag, I may have to set it aside. A tiny voice inside my head is saying “You have 34 days until the Festivus stocking should be done.” I can’t ignore it for much longer; even though 825 hours, 8 minutes and 31 seconds sounds longer, I know it’s not.

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

Peak experiences (and I’m not talking about the sock pattern).

It seems to be a pattern – I buy just a little more yarn, then I review my existing stash and feel the need to have a lie-down because, as the world’s slowest knitter, I easily have more than a year’s worth of projects waiting. Maybe two years’ worth. Then I buy a little more yarn. Usually sock yarn, because it’s cheaper, and after all, how long can socks take? Well, for my birthday last May, my mom took me to the yarn store and I bought some Mountain Colors and some Meilenweit Cotton Fun…both still stashed, seven months later. I lamely proposed a rule to my husband that I should not re-shop at a yarn store I’ve visited until I knit up something that I purchased there. [note: Technically, I’ve already broken this rule by returning to my LYS to purchase Magic Looping stuff and yarn for swatching, even as the felted tote I so wanted to make languishes]. Thank goodness for KnitFest.

Joke not about Toledo – when it is the site of knitting classes and knitting vendors you would ordinarily not see in your neck of the woods, it’s a beautiful place. Things worth sharing:

1. I sat two feet from Nancy Bush for three hours. I watched her cut a steek, which is as cool as it sounds. She was smart and funny, and I managed to keep up with the class without having to admit I have never finished a knitted garment. She signed my book. She just finished a new sock book too, so keep your eyes peeled.

2. Marilyn from Blackwater Abbey Yarns is the nicest person ever – by the time I finish the Cabled Rib Cardigan, we will have tracked down the perfect wooden buttons for it. What’s more, I spotted a new pattern for a cabled cardigan with a healthy dose of bobbles and XOX ribbing by Beth Brown-Reinsel, one of a series of pretty stunning samples knitted up and featured in the Blackwater Abbey booth…and named after Marilyn herself. Very cool, so that came home with me [no picture yet here or at the BWA site – it’s that new!].

3. My first two-color knitting project will be a Christmas stocking kit from Arnhild Hillesland that thankfully, doesn’t have to be ready until next Christmas. She has a lifetime’s worth of beautiful Norwegian patterns, at least for someone who knits as slowly as I do. As I left, she said “You know where to find us!” Oh, I’ll be back, don’t worry.

Finally, there was Debi from Dzined; I had been stalking her since summer, hoping to feel and purchase some of her yarns in person, and I liked them so much I shopped there twice…in a two hour period (Please. What if someone bought the sock yarn I wanted while I was in class? You would have done the same thing). In addition to two completely different skeins of sock yarn, I got some worsted varigated in lovely deep fall hues to make a Multidirectional scarf because it’s officially cold here in Ohio now. I was so excited that I cast on Saturday and knitted (here’s a closeup) on the way to a wedding in Columbus. Was I working on charity mittens? That are due today? No, I was enjoying the yarn that, for me, was worth waiting for. As I said to Stephanie yesterday, the variation in color is not tacky and bad (like some yarns which shall go unnamed and keep us from enjoying variegated lace to its fullest), but subtle and good. I would buy Debi’s yarn sight unseen now [“Hi, it’s Donna – here’s the VISA, send more yarn, whatever’s good.”], and not just because we clearly like the same colors. It may be the one yarn I’d take to a desert island with me, and I’ve touched angora.

Now, about those charity mittens – do you think I can finish the mate (not started) by dinnertime? Clearly someone who puts her own needs before those of children who need mittens is a bad person. At least the scarf and I will look stylish in hell.

An all-dessert knitting potluck.

Since we last saw each other, I’ve been a very persistent knitter. Here, at last, is a picture of the first finished RibTip sock with (of course), its mate well underway.

But the piece de resistance may well be the Age of Aquarius hat from Knitter’s Stash that I’ve been working on as a Christmas gift – it’s cleverly constructed (or perhaps this is just me because I’ve not knitted a hat like this before) so that you knit the brim and then after purling the turning row, you flip the hat inside out. . Then you knit the crown in a slightly different cable pattern, and when you’re done, flip the brim up for contrast. Just imagine the top of the hat here – even half done, isn’t the alpaca yummy? I normally don’t use words like that, but Classic Elite Montera is doing it for me. Plus, I’m going to finish a Christmas gift soon, and it’s not even close to Christmas.

The hat was my knitting on the way to A Wool Gathering, which was fun, but I was…whelmed. I came, I saw, I bought 2 ounces of roving for thrummed mittens, even though I am not thrumming along, petted some llamas and goats, ate the best peach danish of my life, and left. As Knit One Purl Too’s Yarn Acquisition Specialist (my husband) said, “It’s like a potluck where everyone brought dessert.” There was some beautiful handspun yarn, and more beautiful handspun yarn, and some alpaca, and more alpaca. And the hemp sock yarn lady Bonne Marie likes was not there after all, and there was very little sock yarn (even the vendor who carried Cherry Tree Hill had no SuperSock merino. I spent most of that weekend gripped by socknitting fever, not to be quenched with all this lovely handspun (and let’s be honest, some of it was not so lovely, it was just rustic). I did come away with an idea for a hat pattern; if I can reverse-engineer the hat I saw (and add my own twist to it), you might see a pattern here someday (If you wanted to design your own projects, you couldn’t do better than this notebook as a place to sketch them out, complete with a space for notes.). The hat idea is not just an excuse to buy the notebook.

What’s a girl to do when not quite satisfied with her first fiber festival? Why, make a detour to The Fifth Stitch, where Ellen hooked me up with some yummy (there’s that word again) sock yarn. I could easily have walked out of there with twice as much, because she had an amazing selection – Apple Laine in Dark Chocolate for a Jackie E-S lace sock pattern, Cherry Tree Hill in Peacock, some Lang Jawoll, and another skein of Mountain Colors Glacier Peak for the gift socks for the person with really big feet I mentioned in my last entry. At one point during my frustrated search for something, anything I really liked at A Wool Gathering, my husband whispered “Enhance your stash” in my ear. So I did, thanks to Ellen.

Speaking of socks, the next Six Sox knitalong socks are Fluted Bannister Socks – I happen to have some Sockotta, which is what Susan knit the model in, and I’m very suggestible when it comes to yarn. [FYI: Susan also has an excellent tip for improving the IK Flower Basket Shawl by using a symmetrical decrease – cool.]

Content unrelated to knitting, but I want one: sock dog instructions.

Content related to knitting, because Audrey is on my list of sweaters I should already be wearing: Audrey neckband instructions.

And also from the “sweaters I like more than I thought” department: Vivian Hoxbro’s Wine Leaves jacket (that’s actually the pullover – this is the jacket, but I like the pullover colorway. I am not normally swayed by the newfangled (even modular knitting, which is not really all that fangled), but that’s beautiful!

But in the end, it all comes back to socks: I like a tasteful sock just fine, but these Bib Overalls socks from Blackberry Ridge are so cute I may just have to make them.