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April 2009

Selbu Modern Lust

A few days ago I mentioned a "darling little hat" that I was dying to make.... so let me tell you about it :)

When I was at the SPA in February, I noticed a young lady working in another booth, and she was wearing the most beautiful hat. It was a light weight hat, knit in a two-color all-over pattern, and I really wanted to ask her what the pattern was, and buy it, if possible. But, every time I had the chance to go talk to her, she was busy with helping customers, and I didn't want to bother her. Then, the next day, I didn't see her anymore, and I figured I had lost that opportunity.....

But then, I was on Ravelry oogling other people's fun projects, and oh my goodness, there was the hat!!! I almost broke my fingers mousing over to click on the Raveler's profile, I was so overcome. Imagine my happiness to find not only what the pattern was, but that it was a free download!!!

The hat in question is the Selbu Modern hat from Kate Osborn. You can take a look at the pattern here if you don't already know what I am talking about.... apparently the entire knitting/internet/blogger world knows all about it but me, heh heh :

I waaaaaaant to make this hat so badly. I saw it in a beautiful goldy-tan with burgundy pattern and it was so pretty! I can't decide what yarn to make it from, but I am leaning toward Jamieson and Smith Shetland wool, or maybe Shibui sock yarn. I guess part of the fun is the anticipation and thinking about what to use for materials. Or, I could hand spin the yarn for it, hmmmmmm. Lots of options there.

I better get knitting and finish some other project so I can start this one!

Knit knit knit!!!

That was fun!

Wow, what a great knitting weekend we have had!! It was so much fun!! 

I had a group of ten people who arrived in Camden on Friday, and we had a great knitting reception at Unique One. Plenty of wine and chocolate-dipped strawberries and homemade shortbread cookies and cheese and crackers were consumed! Then the knitters sat together in the yarn shop and got their goodie bags.

This year the goodie bags included a couple skeins of yarn, some patterns, a book, discount coupons from local restaurants and shops, the famous and fabulous Unique One promotional nail file (I swear it has its own fan club), a knitter's notebook from Bully Woolies, and a sprinkling of pixie dust to ensure perfect knitting. Everyone loved the goodie bags!

Then we made ourselves at home in the conference room at The Lord Camden Inn under the care of our knitting weekend mascot, a big sheep balloon that we named Ewie! I unfortunately forgot to get a picture of Ewie. Did anyone else snap a picture? 

On Saturday we sat around knitting alllllll dayyyyyyyyy eating fabulous snacks from local area businesses. We had Mocha Espresso chocolate dip with pretzels, and Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam over cream cheese, from Stonewall Kitchen. We had a fabulous one pound box of chocolates from Maine Gathering  (which, by the way, they have an amazing selection of Easter candy available right now!). We had a great candy assortment from The Village Shop, including gummy grapefruit slices, nonpareils, red whip licorice, horehound candy, and lots of others. And we had a super duper selection from a wonderful new shop in town, The Zesty Gourmet! They provided pretzels, sundried tomato tortilla chips, black bean tortilla chips, focaccia crisps, Pineapple Margarita Cheese Ball spread, Maine Blueberry Salsa, Oaxacan Pinto Bean salsa, and Raspberry Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip. YUM. 

We kind of ate our way through lunch on the snack stuff, but most of us went out to walk around and have a cup of soup or something during the day. Then we came back to knit more!!! It seems like the time went by so fast. 

Soon it was Sunday morning, too soon, in my opinion. We had breakfast, took a group photo,  and drew the last of the door prizes. This year we had four door prizes, a Shibui knitting bag, a  skein of handpainted 100% silk lace weight yarn, enough for a shawl, a selection of Bully Woolies knitting kits, and a copy of Alchemy Yarns book, Destination Alchemy, and two  skeins of Alchemy Silk Purse. It was a lot of fun!

The Unique One Knitting Weekend is all set for next year; you can check it out on my web site HERE. I have four reservations already, people coming back from this year's knitting weekend (geez, I guess they had fun!). I will only take 15 people, so if you want to come join us next year, come sign up early! Actually, several people are reserving rooms to come a day early, on Thursday, to squeeze in an extra day of knitting before the weekend even starts!

We had a great time and I am sorry it is over....... Thank you all for a fabulous weekend!

It's Coming!

My Unique One Knitting Weekend is almost here! Actually it is tomorrow. I started the final preparations a few days ago, and I think we are going to have a lot of fun!

I've gathered my goodies for the goodie bag, including discount coupons for Cappy's Chowder House and the Camden Deli, and some fun knitting goodies from around the store. I think the knitting weekend participants will have a lot of fun discovering the treasures in their bags! And I have picked out three fabulous door prizes!

I've planned the wine and the food for the reception, and I am finishing up little ideas to keep the fun going all weekend. We're going to hang out together and knit, share stories, tell naughty knitting jokes, watch knitting videos, oooh and ahhhh over each other's knitting, and generally be silly and enjoy time to knit or spin. I'm looking forward to it! This is like the night before Christmas, so I had to write a blog post about it..... I will post pictures from the weekend later :)

What to do, what to do ...

I don't know which is worse, being on a diet and REALLY wanting a whole whoopie pie, or having 4 perfectly lovely projects on the needles and REALLY wanting very much to start a 4th project.

I have actually defeated the whoopie pie monster more easily than I can defeat the New Project Monster (henceforth, NPM). I'm on Weight Watchers, trying to get down to my goal weight by Christmas, so I am counting my points daily. If you are on Weight Watchers too, you might be interested to know, one entire whoopie pie is 18 points! For lots of people, that is their total points for the day. And further, upon reading the nutritional information on the dang thing because I really really wanted to have one, I found that the point value is only 9. Huh, I thought..... I could handle 9 points, if I cut out a bunch of other stuff. But the little voice in the back of my head was saying, how could a collection of pretty much 100% sugar and fat as big as your head have only 9 points??? That's when I discovered the nutritional information was for one serving, HALF a whoopie pie. Oh dear.

So then I wasn't going to have any... but that same little voice said, but but but! The whole point of WW is to eat what you *want*, you can have anything you want, but you have to allow for it, make choices, plan, and be aware of portion control. So I can actually have my cake and eat it too, as it were. I am stretching the beloved pie de whoopie over 4 days, having a quarter of it @4.5 points each day with lunch, savoring and loving every bit. And you know what? A quarter of a whoopie pie is plenty... plus, I get to enjoy it for a whole week almost, instead of overindulging in a few minutes of pleasure and then feeling sick and guilty the rest of the week. Ha!

But that still doesn't solve my battle with the NPM. There is a darling hat I am dying to knit, but I have 4 other projects close at hand already, so I printed out the pattern and I will wait to start it until I have finished at least one other project. What incentive to finish something! I have a lovely pair of red "lobster" socks I am knitting from the great yarn I got at the SPA from Spunky Eclectic; I have my Bird in Hand mittens, of which I have one mitten completely done; I have my Walking on the Sun socks that I am spinning the yarn for on my fabulous glass spindle, and last night I started a gansey sweater from worsted weight wool in my stash. That last project is a work project more than a fun project -- not that it isn't fun, it is very fun, but I started it for work purposes.

I am teaching a class in April on Portuguese knitting and I wanted to brush up on the technique so as to appear somewhat proficient at it when I am teaching it. I learned Portuguese knitting a couple years ago, but haven't really used it much since then, so I decided to knit a sweater using that technique entirely. I couldn't just switch to Portuguese knitting on an existing project because I didn't want my tension to vary. I'm loving my Portuguese knitting, working on my sweater a little each day, and although I don't know as I will have my sweater done by the time the class rolls around, I will have a good start on it.

The class is April 19 and you can read more about it HERE. I think I have only 2 more spots available for the class, so if you are interested in signing up,  call right away :)

Knitting appetizers

I want to go to the Knitting Weekend RIGHT NOW! I mean, I am really looking forward to it. I neeeeeeeed it. I am going to hang out and knit with some fabulous people at the end of the month, and it is gonna be fun fun fun :) I am looking forward to laughing and sharing and eating and knitting and spinning and just generally getting silly. It is gonna be fun! (You can join in the fun, click here for the Knitting Weekend information.)

The Friday night reception is going to be at Unique One, and I am catering it myself. Yes, I know, it could be scary, but luckily there are people around me who actually know how to mess around with food. Hi Tracy! 

So my dear friend Susan and I were on the phone last week, discussing food for the reception. She is so creative, talking about little edible pots filled with yummy savory foods, and the best shortbread cookies in the world. I came up with making knitting needles with toothpicks and seed beads and sticking them in melon balls. And then there is always chocolate. Anybody out there have any clever knitting-related appetizer ideas? Send 'em my way, if you do. Hmm maybe I could do foods that come from things you get yarn from, lets see.... lamb or mutton, bamboo shoots, corn, lobster, .... they make yarn from chocolate too, right? Right? I am sure it's true. 

Another Sock Tip

Every now and then I do something that seems like just a common sense little thing to me, but other people notice it and think it is a great idea, and I realize I do something that others do not do, and that they find useful to discover. Like, for example, one of my previous posts, a knitting tip on counting Heel Flap Rows.

So the other day I was at work, knitting socks from lovely Spunky Eclectic sock yarn from the spa, in a great color called "Thunderstorm",  when  a dear friend came in with her husband, and he asked what was with the safety pins hanging off my sock:


I have decided after knitting a billion socks, that when I am knitting plain stockinette socks for myself, on size two needles with sock weight yarn, I just always do 15 rows of ribbing followed by 80 rows of stockinette. That might come to anywhere from a 7 inch top to a 8 inch top or even  little more, but I don't really care EXACTLY how high the top is. Eighty rows is always a goodly amount for me. After I start my sock I pin 8 coilless safety pins to the bottom of my sock ribbing, linked together like little monkeys. Every tenth row, I pin a pin on that row. That way there is no counting and no measuring. When I get to the 8th pin, I make the heel flap, turn the heel, pick up the gusset stitches and knit the gusset.

As I knit, I pin a safety pin every tenth row from where I picked up stitches along the edge of the heel flap. (I use the pins that I put in to count the rows of the leg). I knit along until I feel like I have to start measuring the length of the foot. Usually my foot is between sixty-something and eighty-something rows in length, depending on yarn size and needle size, so I knit merrily along til I have placed the 6th safety pin. At that point I do have to measure every 5 or 10 rows or so until the foot is exactly the length it needs to be. Then I finish the toe. 


I knit the second sock the same way, but with the added help that when I start the foot, I know  exactly how many rows the foot will need to be. (It helps if you write that number down and keep it with the yarn for your second sock.) I just use the same 8 pins for all my row counting, because I can never usually find all the billions of pins I actually own. But if you have lots of pins on hand and don't have to take any of them out to keep re-marking the next stage of your pair of socks, you wouldn't have to write the number down. 

I prefer knitting the same exact number of rows when I knit my sock legs and feet, because it saves on constantly measuring and worrying about if you measured the same way exactly on the second sock. By counting rows, I know my socks are a perfect match. :)

Sun Spot Spinning

One of the things I got about a year and a half ago to sell at the store, was beautiful glass hand spindles made by Michael Ernst, in Oregon. They are truly lovely. Delicate, shiny, and functional. I figured they would be a hit at the SPA and would be sold quickly. I took them to the 2008 SPA and not one of them sold. They got lots of attention, but no one was adventurous enough to buy one. 

I hung them up in the window at the store so people could see how lovely they are. In addition to being beautiful, functioning spinning equipment, they are pretty snazzy suncatchers hanging in a window too. People ooh'd and ahhh'd over them, appreciating them for their beauty, even if they didn't know how to spin. Late in the summer, the small blue spindle sold to a spinner who was thrilled to get it. It went to a good home! I was glad, and I thought, maybe some of the SPA attendees have been thinking about the glass spindles they saw in February, and are wishing they had bought one. So I planned to take them to SPA again and surely, they would sell. 

But no, poor little spindles, no one wanted them for two years in a row. So I said heck, (or something like "heck"), I am gonna take one of these lovelies to have for myself! So I took the green one. Pictures: 
Spindletop    Spindlebottom  

Isn't it pretty? 

I got that Panda bamboo blend fiber from Spunky Eclectic at the SPA, and I decided to spin it on the glass spindle. Little did I know that it would be one of the best spindles I have ever spun on!

It spins like a dream, and it is so pretty too. It spins true and long. It is a marvel of craftmanship and engineering. All the "pretty" little features are there for a reason. See the little balls of glass decorating the outside of the whorl? They provide weight to keep the spindle spinning, and also each little ball acts as a notch would on a wooden whorl. It is always easy to place my yarn to start the next spin. And the yarn really holds there, too. See the pretty little ornament at the bottom of the spindle shaft? The tiny knobs keep the yarn from falling off the end, and the shaped tip is perfect for giving the spindle a whirl with my fingertips. It is like the spindle was designed just for my hand. It is 1.75 oz. of pure glassy spinning heaven.


So, I took this fiber, and started spinning.


In no time, it seemed, I had a good amount of yarn on the spindle. I kept spinning and spinning and then I plied it back on itself, making a two ply yarn, a rather heavy sock weight. You don't get too many yards of plied yarn from one spindle full, and I was anxious to see what the yarn looked like knit up, so I stopped before the spindle was completely full. I set the twist on the small amount of yarn I had created, and I started a pair of socks. 


I love this yarn that I created. It feels so great, and these socks are going to be amazing. Every time I wear them I will feel so warm, wearing the sun itself on my feet :) 


Today I spun a larger amount on my glass spindle and plied it and set the twist; it is drying now. And you can see, I found another use for the little balls on the spindle whorl. I hope the yarn dries overnight, because I can't wait to knit a little further on my sock! 

I must say, it is usually hard for me to stick with spindle spinning, because I always fill one spindle full of yarn and get bored with it and then it sits there unfinished forever. But now I think I have found the answer: as soon as the spindle is full, ply it immediately, set the twist and start your project with the resulting yarn right away! I have started the socks, and I want to finish them, so now I will definitely keep spindling until they are done. It also helps that I joined the Ravelry group "Ten Minutes A Day", a group to encourage spinning at least ten minutes a day every day. So far I have done it, at least ten minutes a day, for a week. Usually I do more than ten minutes a day, some days  I just do the ten minutes, but I never don't do it. I am obviously seeing progress in terms of my socks, and if I hadn't started knitting them, all I would see would be yarn on a spindle, or maybe plied yarn, but I don't think it would keep me going like seeing a pair of socks growing bit by bit as I spindle along. 

And speaking of socks, I have finished one sock already since the SPA, using yarn from Spunky Eclectic, but more about that later. 

SPA 2009

Hiya. :) 

I went to the New England Textile Arts Spa Knit and Spin on February 27, 28 & March 1, in Freeport. It was really really really fun! I was there as a vendor, and we did pretty well, almost as well as last year. I had a great time. Unfortunately I was too busy to get out of the vending room and go hang out with anyone and see all the lovely stuff people were knitting and spinning, but I did manage to get out of my booth and acquire some lovely stuff to knit and spin for myself! 

This is some lovely fiber and yarn from Ball and Skein. The 2 bags of fiber are hand painted Alpaca, Merino, and Silk Top in colors "Jonquil" and "April Showers", 2 oz. each. I love the colors! The Jonquil is so nice and bright, and the April Showers is a pretty blue/purple blend. They are on opposite sides of the color wheel. In the Fall 2008 issue of Spin Off, I read Amy Tyler's article about Blending Colors at the Wheel, and I wanted to try it. When I saw these two lovely colors of yummy fiber, I knew I wanted to use them for that purpose! It will be exciting to see the result. 

I also got two skeins of sock yarn, "Water Colors" Super Sock 416, 75% merino/25% nylon. I got a nice rusty red and a luscious, rich purple. Both skeins have a lot of color variety in them. The purple skein has blue-purple, dark royal purple, a plummy berry, and snatches of a light periwinkle. The rusty red has orange, red, rust, pumpkin, gold and burgundy. I love dem.


At the Quiltessentials booth I succumbed to a couple skeins of one of my favorite yarns in the whole world, hand dyed yarn from End of the World Farm. I have knit several socks out of their sock yarn; I love their colors. It is so fun to knit with them! The top skein is a wool/nylon blend which I will make into a pair of socks, and I think this time I would like to try making them both at the same time, from the toe up, using each end of the skein simultaneously. The other skein is 100% wool, and I am going to make plain mittens out of it. The colors are so yummy. :) 

I got some fiber at the Spunky Eclectic booth. I got one braid of fiber that is not pictured; I will post about it later. At the top is a batt from Grafton Fibers. I love the rich colors of this! On the left is 100% BFL in handpainted color "Mercury". I like the brown and green together, very forest-y. It is so soft! On the bottom is handpainted 50% superwash merino/50% tencel in color Aspen. I love tencel blends, so shiny and so soft. I don't know what I will make from these  yarns after I have spun them. The tencel blend would be good for socks, but I am thinking mittens for the other two. 

Also from Spunky Eclectic are these three yarns (actually I got four yarns, but in another post I will show you what I am making from the fourth one). At the top is a lovely handpainted aqua with streaks of gray merino lace weight yarn, destined for a shawl, no doubt. The color is called Shark. The second skein is a sport weight superwash merino in a color called "Route 66". It has 10% nylon, so I will make socks from it. The bottom skein is Tough Sock sock yarn, in a great red called "Lobster"... well you know I had to have that. It is such a vibrant red! And I do love lobster.... 

Springtide Farm was in the booth next to us, so of course I was led astray by these two little skeins of dark red 100% cashmere. I wish you could feel how soft they are! The will become a sweet little scarf to keep me warm and happy in any weather. I have a navy blue one I made from their cashmere a couple years ago, and I just love it! I know I will love this red version just as much. It feels so good!! Nothing, NOTHING, feels like cashmere. It is truly heavenly.

This is Spunky Eclectic fiber I mentioned at the start. It is a wool/nylon/bamboo blend called Panda, and the color is called "Walking on the Sun" (wooohooo! Smashmouth!) that is a hot blend of sunny yellow, hot white, and orange. It looks just like the pictures of the sun you see from space, yellow/white with darker orange sunspots. It is so nice and bright and warm that I just had to start spinning it right away, the day I got back from SPA, which was the first of two really snowy, wintery days. Nothing better to have than a spot of sun to spin on a snowy day! Tomorrow I will tell you about how the spinning is going :)