Sunday, September 28, 2008

I'm glad I went...

... to Pacafiesta. Despite the threat of tropical storm Kyle, Mammals, the Man and I hit the road in search of alpaca goodness. And I'm happy to report that we found some.

While the Man went off to talk alpacas with the exhibitors, Mammals and I made the rounds. After today, I have decided that I most definitely need me some alpacas and cashmere goats.
I spent a bit of time talking to the woman with the cashmere goats and got to pet them for a bit - very friendly little critters. I was trying to convince myself that I could take one home and pass it off as an exotic breed of dog, but decided against it. It was the horns. Dogs just don't have horns. Or cloven hooves.
The Man has discovered a love of alpacas and has declared, on the record, that they are in fact cool, and that he would like to have "some" in the future. To which I say, sweet! Think I can train them to sleep on the futon?
Alpacas and goats and bunnies. Oh my!
In addition to soft sheep and awesome alpacas, there were also a few angora bunnies. I'm fairly certain that the bunnies are actually very small under all that fuzz. I have a love of angora - so soft! So luxurious! So incredibly bad for my allergies! It seems so unfair to react so badly to something so soft (picture swollen, itchy eyes and itchy, runny nose. Beautiful). But who can resist those twitchy little noses?
Lest you be misled into the belief that it was all animal gazing, we ogled some yarns too. Oh the yarns! Rich, chocolate browns, creamy natural whites, silvery greys and that was just one booth! I steeled myself against temptation and was pretty successful. I could not resist the colourful sock yarns of the The Black Lamb Hand Weaving and Spinning Shoppe. They had so many lovely shades that I had a hard time picking just one ( and I am proud of myself for only purchasing one single skein - we all know how I feel about sock yarn). I chose one in a various shades of grey, pewter and blues - picture the ocean under a cloudy sky. It's pretty soft and I'm looking forward to knitting it up some time in the nearish future.
The fibre fondling didn't stop there - I also picked up 2 skeins of a 50% alpaca 50% merino blend from Legacy Lane Fiber Mill. Two squishy skeins of grey/blue softness. I haven't really decided what they'll eventually become, but as Mammals says, anything that soft belongs around your neck. I do need a new scarf - well, can you ever really have enough scarves? I say no. Mammals, not to be outdone, scooped up 2 skeins of chocolaty brown alpaca and some crazy -coloured sock yarn too. She's on a serious scarf kick right now and I'm looking forward to seeing what
she comes up with.
Mammals and I cuddle up to some yarny goodness.
I've pretty quiet lately - as in I'm sure some of you might have thought that I fell off the face of the earth - there has been lots of knitting, just not documented knitting. I finished the Drops sweater a few days ago - all finished except for the buttonholes which I forgot to add. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I didn't even notice. Instead of unseaming and ripping back, I've decided to fake it - snaps. After bar hooks failed to work out, I'm confident that snaps are the way to go. When all is washed and blocked, a fashion shoot and post will be in short order. I've also got some hats to show off and some other goodies in the works. So please stay tuned. Until then, happy knitting!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pacafiesta 2008! Woot!

Save up your pennies - Pacafiesta 2008 edition is September 26-28th. I am excited! See you there!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fun with blocking and a Trellis update

A few weeks ago I ordered a blocking kit from Knit Picks. I wanted to see what the fuss was about. They arrived in their nifty mailing tube and sat unopened and neglected for a few days until I had the time to block out the Trellis scarf. Trellis, if you remember, was not an inspiring sight fresh off the needles, all wrinkly, bunchy and scrunched up from being lugged around in my purse and whatnot, lace never is. I broke out my new blocking wires and got to work. What a difference between blocking with wires and using pins alone. Blocking wires can accomplish amazing things, transforming one's knitted lump into a piece of open, lacy goodness.

I'll admit that threading the wire along the long side of my scarf was not the most fun I've ever had, but the patience paid off. Using these wires means goodbye to puckered, uneven edges. No more scalloping! It's much easier to ensure that your item is a consistent width from top to bottom and allows you to adjust things as needed. So much better than the alternative of using a million dressmaker's pins. I am a convert. Trellis is now washed, blocked, wrapped and ready for gifting. I'm always a little anxious when knitting for someone else - I know what I like, what colours and patterns that I prefer, and therefore tend to second guess myself when knitting gift items. I'm reasonably confident that I've chosen well in matching up the pattern, colour, fibre and recipient.

After putting the finishing touches on Trellis, I returned to a project that I had begun for myself but had put aside. I bought a skein of the Fleece Artist's Suri Blue in the marine colourway. I love that yarn - slightly fuzzy, light, warm and beautiful. I chose to knit up a shoulderette version of Laminaria from Knitty. I was intrigued by the Estonian stitches and was looking for a challenge. It was an enjoyable knit - even if I did have to frog the whole first edging because I couldn't find my mistake. Unlike Trellis, where I found it easy to "read" what the stitches were doing because of the predictable geometry of the pattern, I found it much harder to do that with Laminaria due to the organic nature of the shapes and therefore harder to find my mistakes. After I got used to the pattern and could "read" the situation better, it was smooth sailing.

The pattern is well written and the charts are clear and error free. I did modify it slightly by taking the suggestion of a knitter on Ravelry and changing the k3togs in the second half of the Star chart to sssk for a more balanced pattern - a minor element, but one that I'm glad I did. I was completely underwhelmed when I cast off - so small! So uninspiring! So not what I was hoping for. Blocking saved the day (or is shawl?). Blocking was essential. It totally opened up and the designs that I had been trying to read were suddenly very apparent and beautiful. I am pretty happy with my version of Laminaria and I recommend the pattern to anyone who wants to learn a new thing or two and is looking for a more challenging lace project. I'm looking forward to wearing this one!
After all this lace, I'm looking for a bit of a breather before I plunge back in. Today I cast on for this after hearing that the Farmer's Almanac is predicting a really chilly winter. No holes, no double yarn overs and no k3tog, ssk combinations, it should go pretty quickly (or should I say that out loud? Did I just jinx myself?).
Happy knitting!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Old MissKnit had a farm. . .

. . . and on her farm there were some sheep, e-i, e-i, o. After all the intense lace activity of recent weeks, I really wanted a fun, easy project and these sheep by Fiber Trends were just the thing. I love them. I intended to just have the one, but quickly realized that one is the loneliest number and that he needed company. Then I thought some more and thought that a third would really round out the group. The fourth, made of left over Noro, is a gift for a friend who is more than a little obsessed with that crazy colourful yarn. Good times all the way around. After all the laceweight it was pretty nice to have a heavier weight yarn and needles in my hands. Plus, knitting a three dimensional object is pretty satisfying. As an added bonus, I've got myself some sheep friends. Sweet. Now I just need to name them. . . .