Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Hard Days Night

I'm off to the Okanagan Wine Festival so, lots of pictures next week. Yeah, I's a dirty job and I'm glad I get to do it.

September has zoomed by and I hope my knitting and I will have more quality time in October. Here's a quick update on what I have accomplished lately.

Autumn Rose is progressing a bit up the sleeve. This is an amazing knit and I highly recommend it. The colours are lovely.

I tried my hand at crock pot dying and used Louet Bush Blend dyes. Here are the results on some Corriedale I got at the 5 Counties Fair. I used Aster, Cypress and Peppermint and the effect is simply "Monet-like". I'm so pleased.

I'll be dividing this down the middle in two parts to spin each ply in the same sequence to create a two ply yarn that hopefully keeps the colour changes in unison throughout the plying.

My Sonata and I enjoyed the autumn sun yesterday and I'm really please with how this is spinning up. The Corriedale simply glows.

Well - gotta run to catch a plane. I'll have lots to report next week on the wine side of things and hopefully a bit of airplane knitting too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Duty Calls...and Pays
I must apologize to my new FO. In my last post I described the Nagano Sakura (Dragon Cherry Blossom according to my Japanese-obsessed son) scarf as my "duty knitting". In fact, I affixed the blossoms late Friday night just skating in under the wire to have it ready for the Five Counties Spinners and Weavers Guild Fair on Saturday. My criteria for choosing this project were simple; it was a fast project and I had the roving in stash. Our guild theme was Japan so I put up a frantic post a couple of months ago asking for advice as to Japanese-themed projects. While the infamous Hanami Stole by Pinklemon Twist was a definite contender - I needed a weekend project because (it's like dog years) my weekends take forever in terms of project time.

Dr. Steph came to the rescue and suggested this snappy little scarf from Knitty called "Nagano Sakura". Aha - I needed brown roving. I had a nice merino/alpaca roving that was a rich chocolate shade. I also had some singles spun from a nice rose-coloured merino. The original pattern calls for the scarf to be felted but I reasoned that since it was to be entered into a fair competition - I should show my work. It was also a case of leading with my stronger card since I've been knitting a helluva lot longer than I've been spinning. I found another blogger who had also knit the pattern without felting it and proceeded to knit the scarf with a simple cable.
I filled out the project description sheet for the show hoping that my copy writing skills would somehow mask the fact that the yarn was a tad over spun and the pink blossoms weren't quite bright enough to really show well against the dark scarf. I had a choice between two boxes to check off to indicate my skill level - experienced or novice. Having only been spinning for one year, it was a no-brainer. Novice all the way.

Our guild display looked pretty good considering we didn't spend huge blocks of time planning every detail. And my little scarf looked a bit lonely apart from the rest of the display - the only knitted item amongst a sea of woven entries. Didn't all the Geisha in Japan wear long sleeved T-shirts and alpaca scarves?

You can imagine my shock when they announced that my scarf had won the prize for "Best Novice Knitted Item". My reward was a $25 check. The judges were the speakers for the day including Shirley Scott who wrote "Canada Knits". She's got a wicked sense of humor and I highly recommend her as a speaker. I'd show you a picture of me next to my scarf but I kind of showed up to the event all disheveled, hair in a pony-tail and glasses so I (quite frankly) look like hell.
I've already invested my winnings back into materials for next year's Five Counties Fair. This cloud of loveliness is creamy Shetland roving kissed with a streak of silk in shades of copper and gold. Next year's theme is "anniversaries" and while I have a plan - I'll be keeping it to myself for now.
I guess even those items we knit out of duty can surprise us now and then!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Split (Spliced) Personality
After declaring last post that life fell nicely into themes, I now find myself dabbling all over the place - especially when it comes to my fibre hobbies. It's probably the usual September "re entry turbulence" that's got me chasing my tail but whatever the reason, I'm going in several different directions at once. What follows are some snapshots and random thoughts related to my fibre obsession:

On Yarn Diets:
I always said my stash was a form of insurance should I ever fall on hard times or make a large purchase that would require some (ahem) fiscal prudence. The recent acquisition of the new vehicle falls into this category so, I've been trying to fantasize about projects that can be made from stash.

On Things I Covet:
I had a chance to see a live in the "wool" sample of the Debbie Bliss Silver Belle sweater at the KW Knitter's Fair last weekend. It was STUNNING. The waist which I feared was to empire to not look at bit like maternity wear falls a bit lower than shown on the model so it's quite slimming. I have some BFL Fleece Artist in an ivory colourway that would be perfect.

I also have some O-wool balance that would be perfect to make the Cobblestone Pullover from the new IK for my DH. I've been knitting avidly for 12 years and have never made him a sweater. Although I'm inspired by the yarn and pattern, I'm not really an aficionado of dark colours like grey and black and I've purchased the graphite colour for this. It's what I know he will wear so I'm being thoughtful of the recipient. I'm itching to cast this one on!

I'm also loving the Tilted Duster from the new IK cover. It calls for a new Berroco yarn called Peruvia. Now, I did get to fondle the Peruvia at the fair and it has a hand spun sort of vibe to it. There's a bit of sheen and I wonder if it would be "splitty" to knit with. Instead of stashing up, I pulled out my Malabrigo and swatched on some amazing Lantern Moon needles made from Palm. The pattern calls for straight needles and when I asked on Ravelry why straights - the great Norah G herself answered that it was a carry-over from other pattern formats and not really necessary. I think I will do it on straights though. I love these needles and for some reason I like straight needles.

On Evie:
I've fallen hard for this design from Kim Hargreaves. She names her designs often using women's' names. This one is called Evie which was my mom's name and is my niece's name. I wish I could make it from stash. I have yarn that would work but this pattern only comes in a kit so I have to order the whole kit and caboodle. I'm thinking of destashing some Noro, Debbie Bliss and Jo Sharp that I have and know I won't knit. Stay tuned, I'll probably do a destashing post in the coming week. Don't you think the Universe wants me to have this kit?

This new design from Zephyr is called Juliet and it's darling too. This blogger is currently knitting it. She's also just made the tree jacket from Zephyr Style too which is really lovely.

On Self Control:
I was a good girl at the Knitter's Fair and only bought some roving made by Gypsy Girl Creations. It's an amazing super wash merino in a shade called Winter Solstice. I bought it from Michelle at Sweet Sheep and got some of her Sweet Socks yarn in a colourway called "After Midnight". It's great stuff and she's a delight to deal with.

On Duty Knitting:
I'm in the final stages of finishing my first knitted project from my own hand spun. It's a cabled scarf from a chocolate Alpaca. I used the modifications listed here for the Knitty Nagano Sakura scarf and the cherry blossoms are almost done. I'll be showing it at the Five Counties Fair this Saturday along with my guild. Our theme is Japan. This has been taking most of my time lately since I promised to contribute something knitted. The other items are all woven. I don't like knitting out of duty since it robs precious time from my dream projects but I'm sure I'll be glad it's part of the display.

There you have it. Random rambling from my currently frenzied life. It could have been pithier but that would have required all of my grey matter to show up for roll call.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Days of Wine and Roses

Sometimes life just seems to have a "theme". This past week has been all about roses - the fibery and the floral. I have been working (still) on the first sleeve of Autumn Rose. When we last saw this sleeve I had totally disregarded the instructions and knitted it according to what I thought I saw on the picture in the book. Anne from She Ewe Knits (who looks positively ravishing in her Autumn Rose by the way) straightened me out and this revelation sent me straight to the *frog pond (do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars).

I also charted the pattern on Stitch and Motif Maker. For some reason, the pattern in the book is charted so the light colours are represented as black squares and the dark colours are light squares. This is too much processing for me to convert in my brain so I needed to get it charted in a way that I could easily translate.

I am now well on my way and the pattern just glows. This differs from the typical Starmore pattern in that each pair of colours is used for 3 rows then swapped for two new colours at the same time. There will be many ends to darn in which will be different for me because I'm used to knitting in the new and knitting out the old shades when only one colour is changing at a time. I think I'll have to darn in the ends about every 5 inches of knitting or so. If I don't, I'll be going mad when this is done.

I've not had much time to knit on the Rose because I'm madly trying to finish the scarf for the Five Counties Fair in two weeks and because I've been taking as many freelance writing assignments as possible to be able to buy this.

Yes, my '99 Taurus (aka Red Barchetta) finally cried uncle and it was time to get a new vehicle. I tend to buy new and run them into the ground. This is a 2008 Ford Escape in a lovely shade called light metallic sage and I'm really enjoying it. I worked with a seasoned salesman who had a nice easy-going approach. No pressure and the negotiation was actually a pleasure. Of course, the first time you climb into a brand new vehicle you've just purchased is a thrilling moment. When I opened the door of the Escape to get in, there was a single pink rose lying on the front seat. The salesman grinned and said "I started leaving the roses on the seats about twenty years ago. All the ladies get a rose - the guys get the bill." Talk about making a good moment into a WOW moment!

I may have to call this guy out of retirement when I buy my next vehicle.

My experience at the dealership made me ask myself "what are my roses?" How can I turn good moments into great ones for others and for myself?

I don't have all the answers to these questions yet but I will no doubt be pondering them as I work on Autumn Rose. Of course, a glass of fine wine always helps the epiphanies to flow much easier...Pinot Rose of course!

*By the way Dad if you're reading this - frogging means knitters "rippit, rippit, rippit" when they screw up.