Monday, September 29, 2014

The Power of Connecting

In recent years, the most profound times of growth and satisfaction in my life have been the times where I've been able to connect at a very meaningful level with people.

Plus, I get to wake up on Saturday morning and open my door to this:

The trees had just started to change color, but Autumn wasn't in full bloom yet.  Weather was gorgeous.  I forgot the memory card for my camera (again!) so, I only took these two photos on my iPhone.

Connection Batteries Recharged!

This past weekend I went up to the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival (SAFF), which has turned out to be my very favorite type of these events for a number of reasons.

First of all, it's smaller than Maryland Sheep & Wool and Rhinebeck...quite a bit smaller.  But it's also MUCH less crowded than either of them as well.  The smaller size provides ample time to speak with most of the vendors, shop in a leisurely way for fiber, and not wait in ridiculous lines for food.  I have a feeling, this event will start to outgrow itself within a few years.

It's bigger than the NJ Sheep Breeders Festival. I love the NJ event, because its 10 minutes from my house, but the small size of the event doesn't allow it to have the same range of independent dyers and interesting vendors as some of the larger events.  SAFF has a wider variety of excellent vendors and I always end up finding items that I can't find at my local yarn store.

But more importantly than the size of the event, is the fact that SAFF takes place in the same town where the annual Men's Spring Knitting Retreat is held, and I get the chance to spend a night at Easton Mountain when I go to SAFF.  We always get at least a couple of the guys from the retreat attending SAFF and this year was no exception.

I got to see Aaron and his brother Steven and Steven's son Darius (not a knitter yet).  Also, I got to see Steve, Dave, Kirk and his husband, Matt.  And Rob and I spent a great night at Easton Mountain before the event and hung out on Saturday at the event.  I also got a chance to meet and chat with a blog reader, Jeff who was a delight as well.


In addition to the knitter-men I communed with, I also found two new vendors to me, who I needed to by yarn from:

I couldn't have been more thrilled with some of the colorways in Pat's yarns, so I bought three hanks to make two pairs of socks.

I'll use the orange as the contrasting toes and heels yarn and to extend the amount of yarn in the green colorway to make a decent size man's sock.

Michael was a delight...and his yarn was beautiful as well (and rather inexpensive, I thought).  I bought a sweater's worth of worsted weight yarn in two colors that have inspired me lately when I've seen them mixed.

His mill is about 2.5 hours drive from Easton Mountain, but I would love to drive out there before the retreat to get a tour of it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Combining Favorite Things!

It's always great when you get to have one of your favorite things, but when two of them combine in one, it's like winning the lottery!

Fiber Excitement!

At least twice a year, I get the opportunity to go to Greenwich, NY.

In May, it's for the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat at Easton Mountain Retreat Center.

In September, its' for the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival

Today, I travel up to Greenwich, NY to stay at Easton Mountain for the night and to spend all day tomorrow with fiber friends looking at sheep and buying yarn.

Life doesn't get much better than that.

Current Spinning

I've made a bit of headway on the second bobbin of singles, spinning up the llama fleece from Lulu at Wunsapana Farms.

Two things about, I didn't wash the fleece quite well enough, so I will need to scour the resulting yarn pretty well.   And two, I will have some fine yarn when I'm finished.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Patience Comes With Age

As I get older, it seems the quote from the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel seems to be more and more accurate:

Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end.

Trust The Process

I don't often work someone else's knitting pattern exactly.  I usually take aspects of it that I like and incorporate it into my own design.

But every once in a while, I just want to not have to think while I'm knitting, so it's really nice to just follow a pattern blindly and take whatever result comes of it.

This works particularly well when the pattern indicated in a design doesn't show up for the first few inches of knitting, and I just keep doing what the designer wrote, and eventually, the design starts to emerge.

Current Knitting/Crocheting

Such is the case with my current Rowan design called Tilt, by Lisa Richardson.  It's a Fair Isle design, using two colorways of yarn, and the darker yarn sometimes is very close in color to the lighter yarn. My first progress photo showed a very tweedy fabric, with very little definition between the two colorways.  And now, after finishing a few more repeats of the pattern, look what happened!

A good reminder to just trust the process.

I've also made some progress on the spiked crochet afghan.

This project doesn't grow quite how quickly I would prefer, but I really love how it looks, and one of the bonuses of this stitch is that it's completely reversible.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Big Picture

I can't tell you how many times I've started a project and abandoned it after an inch or two of knitting because I didn't like how it was looking.  How many of those projects might have turned out okay if I had continued knitting?

Visionary Designers

That's why it always amazes me when I start knitting someone else's design and after knitting a few inches, I think, "I'm glad I know what this is going to look like, because if I had started designing this garment, I would be ripping it all out right now."

My newest project is like that...I saw a Rowan design called "Tilt" by Lisa Richardson, and it's a Fair Isle/stranded knitting design using two different tweedy yarns (Summerspun and Revive) and the colors sometimes overlap in ways that make them look quite similar.  So even though I'm knitting a design in a different colorway, the differentiation in color doesn't look like I've changed color at all.

But, just like the subtle differences that are noticeable when there is a dye-lot change in yarn, the differences in colors are just enough to discern a pattern in the Fair Isle design.

Current Knitting

It took me a while to locate one of the Rowan yarns, but I ended up getting both yarns from two different companies in the UK.  Even with shipping, I got a decent deal.

Here are the two yarns:

Here's what the sweater is supposed to look like:

And here's what I've done so far:

I'm still not convinced, but even if the design isn't as obvious as I'd hoped, I still like the fabric that it's creating.  I'll press on.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Regarding the Spiked Crochet Afghan, weaverwaif writes, "do you have to stop/start every few inches with a new color ?"

Yes...actually each color stripe is two rows of single crochet, with a "spiked" crochet stitch ever 7th stitch on the first row of each new color.  Really quite easy, but each stripe will have two ends to weave in after the fact.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Needle Preference

This topic has come up in many of my knitting related on-line forums, but I definitely have a preference when it comes to knitting needles.

Knitting Flat and In The Round

So for knitting flat pieces like the back of a sweater, a scarf or a blanket, I will always go to Addi Turbo needles.  Depending on how many stitches I have to knit, I will try to find an Addi Turbo with the correct length cable.  I find 16" (40 cm) are too short for anything that I knit and don't find them comfortable at all.  24" (60 cm) are the shortest I will go.

So, I've developed quite a collection of Addi turbos (as well as some others).  If I must switch to something other than the Addi Turbos, I'd most probably go with KnitPicks Harmony needles.  They're pretty and comfortable to use, but I don't find the cable to be quite as useful as the Addi's.

As for circular knitting (small items, like socks, gloves or the ends of sleeves), the Knitter's Pride Karbonz double pointed needles are by far my favorites.  Perfect amount of "grab", lightweight, nice looking and they're extremely durable.  I've only recently started my collection of these needles, but it will definitely be growing.

Since today's current project is on a crochet project, I have to say, I've gotten quite used to using my Bernat-Aero crochet hooks, but I don't think those are easily obtainable, and I'm much less picky about my crochet hooks.

Current Crochet

I've added a number of stripes to the Spiked Crochet Afghan project.

Quick measurement shows I've got about 11" in height and it's about 68" wide.  The fabric is a bit more dense than I prefer, but i don't think I'd get the same visual effect if I went with a looser gauge fabric, and this project is all about the visual illusion for me.