Fiber Fest

I have been way past disconnected from this blog.  I miss my writing, and I’m anxious to get back on schedule and make daily time for being here.  In the past week, the only thing I’ve done with regularity is knit.  I’ve stuck with the plan to turn out newborn hats for the afghans for Afghans group.  My stack of hats would grow faster if I didn’t succumb to the desire to use these as a testing ground for new patterns.  So far, I’ve got various styles of caps, some with fancy stitchwork and some plain, and a bonnet style made with mistake rib, and I’m working on one with a vertically-worked band topped by narrow stripes.  I’ve also been slowed by the compulsion to use some of the new yarns that I purchased on my trip. 

 

And that, my dears, is the lead-in to my yarn store visit.  Not 15 minutes from the college town is a beautiful yarn store.  It is in a small town that doesn’t seem to be the hub of anything, but it’s one of the better-stocked stores I’ve visited.  Main Street Yarns and Fibers (www.mainstreetyarns.com)  has a great website, and I checked out their stock before my visit to the physical store.  They sell their yarns on line, too, so now that I’ve identified some new favorites there, I can continue to order them.  It’s been almost six months since I visited a yarn store and some new yarns have come out that I wanted to see and touch, so I made a list before I went to the store. 

 

Main Street Yarns is no longer on Main Street.  Instead, it sits on a small street after a turn off another street, neither of which seems to be going anywhere big.  The store is a converted barn, painted a deep red, with a spacious interior that includes a ring of comfortable chairs that are made for sitting and knitting and conversing.  I visited the store in the last hour before closing, and I was surprised at the number of customers who came in and made purchases.  There were two staff people present, and they were friendly and knowledgeable, including being aware of the yarn store situation in Chattanooga. 

 

On the website I had noticed a yarn that was completely unfamiliar to me.  It’s price tag (less than $4 per skein) attracted my attention first, as it was on sale, but the color variety and the pretty twist made me look it up when we arrived at the store.  Ullteppegarn is 100% wool, made in Norway, and comes in a number of saturated, vibrant colors.  I chose orange, cherry red, lime green and turquoise, and I’ve already made one infant bonnet from it.  Almost the opposite of this was Soft Chunky from Twinkle Handknits.  It is very thick, unplied, and in delicate, subtle colors.  Wonderfully soft, this one.  I chose pale gray, a very light pink, cream, and light blue.  Another softy is Manos Silk Blend, from Manos del Uruguay.  It is a DK weight, 70% extrafine merino/30% silk, kettle dyed, mine in pale sage and beige and cream.  I picked up a ball of Sublime Organic Cotton dk, one of the softer cottons I’ve handled.  My last purchase was Mountain Colors Mountain Goat, 55% mohair/45% wool, hand dyed in beautiful deep blues and purples. 

 

We’ve had dreadfully wet and windy weather for the past two days, and I haven’t had a good opportunity to photograph my treasures, but I think the day will be brighter tomorrow.  I can show both my stack of baby hats and the new yarns.  I’m excited to share them. 

 

Oh yeah, the foot.  It’s almost two weeks since I woke with an inexplicably severe pain in my lateral right foot.  I’ve done what I could, babying it and rubbing it and soaking it…even took it to urgent care yesterday.  Xrays didn’t reveal anything diagnostic, and I’m limping around with a cane and my foot in a cast shoe, planning to call my rheumatologist about it tomorrow.  I’m hoping that being home and treating it with more rest will be the ticket.  It actually caused me to miss knitting group, and that is inexcusable.  Any more of that and I will have to consider a foot transplant.  Who can afford to be without a working, pain-free driving foot? 

 

Omigosh!  It is 2 a.m.  I’ve been having a movie fest with my daughter.  Bedtime!

 

Peace.

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Charity Knitting for Newborns

After I tick along for a while, doing my daily thing, I get a strong feeling that it’s time to put a bit of energy into something for someone else.  I’ve done a number of charity knitting projects, including church angel tree items for children, premie blankets for the Ronald McDonald House, and various pieces for afghans for Afghans (www.afghansforafghans.com).  The latter charity always asks for specific items, and they have instructions on their website as to allowable dimensions and materials.  Currently there is a Mother’s Day drive requesting items for newborns- blankets, hats and socks.  I had ignored the email requests for help as long as I could, and today I put down my sister’s sock and started knitting newborn hats.  As per usual, I was making it up as I went along.  All three hats below are knit flat and then seamed up the back.  They could all be made with yarn leftovers.  None of them took more than a good hour of knitting, and they are so adorable, if I must say so myself.  Yes, I’m hinting.  Take a look at the website and see if you’re feelin’ it.  You might find yourself knitting newborn caps, too.

First cap:
Peruvian Cuzco from elann.com; 100% alpaca.  The hat took a total of about 1 skein, but I used portions of two different colors, striped together.   This yarn is a personal favorite.  It has a lovely, soft, fuzzy halo around a sturdier core, and feels like it still has lanolin, softening your skin as you handle it.  It is reminiscent of Karabella’s Brushed Alpaca, but Karabella’s runs over $14 per skein and is only a bit fluffier for the price. 

Gauge is about 2 stitches per inch, and produces a 16-inch circumference cap. 

Cast on 42 stitches (multiple of 7).  I prefer the stretchiness of a long-tail cast on for hats, so that the bottom/brim edge is not tight. 

Row 1 and all odd rows:  (Knit 2, purl 1, knit 3, purl 1) repeat across row.

Row 2 and all even rows:  (Knit 1, purl 3, knit 1, purl 2) repeat across row.

After 5 inches (approximately 18 rows), start decreases:

First decrease row:  (Knit 2 together, purl 1, knit 3, purl 1) repeat across row.  36 stitches.

2:  (Knit 1, purl 3, knit 1, purl 1) repeat across row.

3:  (Knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, knit 2 together, purl 1) repeat across row.  30 stitches.

4:  (Knit 1, purl 2, knit 1, purl 1) repeat across row.

5:  (Knit 1, purl 1, knit 2, purl 1) repeat across row.

6:  (Knit 1, purl 2, knit 1, purl 1) repeat across row.

7:  (Knit 1, purl 1, knit 2 together, purl 1) repeat across row.  24 stitches.

8:  (Knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1) repeat across row.

9:  (Knit 2 together, purl 2 together) repeat across row.  12 stitches.

10-14:  (Knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1) repeat across row.

Cut yarn at about 20 inches.  Thread on yarn needle, then thread through each of the remaining 12 stitches.  Pull tight, and sew the seam at the back of the hat.  Weave in all loose ends. 

Please excuse the last minute, poorly lit photography.  I know I should be reported to the blog police.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second cap:
Repeated above pattern with 28 stitches, produces 12-inch circumference cap. 

The third cap is made with an unplied, worsted weight wool yarn.  I used size 5 needles.  The gauge was 4.5-5 stitches per inch, creating a 12-inch circumference cap. 
Cast on 60 stitches loosely with long-tail cast on.  Knit 2, purl 2 ribbing (2 x 2 ribbing) for 5 rows.  Then on right side, begin (knit 8, purl 2) wide ribbing, across the entire row.  On wrong side rows, (knit 2, purl 8) and repeat across.  Continue for 4 rows.  Next, drop the purls on the right side rows and just knit across, continuing the wrong side (knit 2, purl 8).  When cap is 3 inches long, begin stockinette stitch, knitting the right side and purling the wrong side.  When cap is 4 and 1/4 to 4 and 1/2 inches long, begin decreases.
Decrease rows:
1:  (knit 6, knit 2 together, knit 2 together) repeat across; 48 stitches remain
2 and all wrong side rows: purl across
3:  (knit 4, knit 2 together, knit 2 together) repeat across; 36 stitches remain
5:  (knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 2 together) repeat across; 24 stitches remain
7:  (knit 2 together, knit 2 together) repeat across
8:  purl across the remaining 12 stitches.
Finishing:  Cut yarn at about 16 inches, thread through remaining stitches twice, pull tight.  Use remaining tail to sew up back seam.  Weave in all seams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other thing I did today was make a quick blueberry cobbler.  The high school gardener who prepared my tomato pots and the friend who will keep my animal this week deserved a treat.  That wasn’t all generosity.  I had a serving, too. 

 

Peace.

This is Not the Beginning

Many moons ago I started to blog.  I notified all my friends with an announcement that bordered on a heady brag, I opened the yahoo blog, and I blew out three or four entries.  Then, nothing.  The truth is, I allowed life to get in the way of talking about life.  I had a brief excursion down a path that I had chosen, one that was going to lead to better self-understanding, communication with the world (okay, maybe with one or two readers out there), a bit of teaching, and some (choke, gag) discipline!  No, we are not laughing.  I truly meant it. 

One entire relationship and several prolonged lupus flares later, here I am.  No more Yahoo, no announcements, just quietly slipping back into the bloggerworld with hopes of being more permanent, more steady. 

Today I’m going to finish tucking ends into the wool/cotton baby blanket I’ve just knitted.  It’s really a lovely soft fabric for a baby.  I’m sure the baby won’t appreciate it–but it will be a wonderful comfort for the parent that is holding that bundled up kid.  It has a teal square in the middle of a deep pink square.  Might as well face it–in America, this is a girl’s blanket.  God forbid a male child should get a glimpse of pink and start to question his masculinity.  Photo to follow.  You’ll see–this is a mixture of several patterns, because I bore easily.  And my fingers get stiff (yes, it’s the lupus).  One of the patterns is my own variation on a partial rib.  When I do it, I do it like this: 

Row 1:  Knit 1, purl 1 across the row (yep, just like 1×1 ribbing)

Row 2:  Purl the whole row (this is the wrong side)

Row 3:  Knit the whole row

Row 4:  Knit the whole row

Repeat rows 1-4 for as long as you can stand it.  Pretty, hunh?

Oops, did I let it slip that I’m a knitter?  I knit or crochet every day.  Can’t help myself.  Two years ago I decided to knit or crochet all my Christmas presents.  After I had a big pile of completed stuff with a tag on each one designating it for some lucky sister, friend or cousin, I couldn’t stop.  I kept knitting.  The yarns were new and fresh, the sticks felt good in my hands, there was a whole new body of literature to explore, and I was hooked.  My basic skills from when I was 5 years old and my sisters taught me to knit and purl expanded to making short rows and cables and deciding between extra-fine merino and Peruvian alpaca.  I started to talk about knitting, and teach knitting, and find other people who wanted to sit and knit together.  I found the first authentic thing that I’ve been able to embrace since leaving medicine.  (Yes, leaving medicine was also about the lupus.)

When the pile of knitted things got ridiculous and I couldn’t stop knitting more, I began to knit for charity.  I knitted children’s hats for the church angel tree.  I shared in crocheting an afghan for Hospice.  I knitted premie blankets for the Ronald McDonald House.  I connected with afghans for Afghans and knitted vests and sweaters for children in impossibly cold, war-torn locales half around the world. 

Still I had things to knit, and ideas I wanted to execute.  I quickly gave up on patterns and began to design my own projects, picking up the yarn and listening to it, choosing from an ever-growing mental stitch dictionary and adding my own twists to the pieces.  That was when I decided to sell my things.  People had noticed the differences and inquired about where to buy them, and I almost believed that someone was interested enough to spend money (gasping again) on my stuff.  For most of a year I “prepared” to open a store, reading about websites, looking at store software, researching…only to find that a single yarn purchase had already put me in touch with the ideal site:  www.Etsy.com, the site for every handmade project in the universe.  I had already shopped there and used “essiewb” to establish an account, and it was a painless transition to open my store.  I procrastinated some, but ended that by declaring loudly that I would have my store open in a week.  That was early in November 2006.  It worked–I bragged myself into opening the store.  Now I keep it stocked, plan the direction it will go, market it, and pat myself on the back for actually getting there!  I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you here that the store address is www.Essiewb.etsy.com.  Go sometime.  Tell me what you think. 

What I think right now is that my store needs me to post the rest of that pile of scarves I made last month.  The world is cold.  It needs soft alpaca, silky bamboo and tightly woven merino to wrap it and comfort it.  Time to knit, people!