Merino Brights, Mexican Food, and Meds

I received a box of yarn in the mail today.  I was expecting it, I’d ordered it, but it still felt like a surprise.  Occasionally when I order yarn from an Internet store, I’m surprised in a bad way.  Most of the time, I use places that give really good descriptions of yarns, so that I know how they look and feel and what they can do.  Sue Little at www.LittleKnits.com is good with those descriptions.  So is Elise at www.FlyingFingers.com.  Knitter’s Review (www.knittersreview.com) has helped in that regard, too.  I read it faithfully, making mental notes of yarn characteristics.  I should thank Clara Parkes for teaching me a language and framework for evaluating and describing fibers.  She writes the Knitter’s Review, and her book, A Knitter’s Book of Yarn, is my bible for animal fibers.

 

Anyway, this box is from Little Knits and it contains a bag of a new yarn from a new company, Elle.  The yarn is Merino Brights, a colorful unplied merino with long repeats of vivid color.  I couldn’t resist it at the introductory price of $27.99 per bag of 10 balls.  It’s still on the website ( Little Knits your source for quality yarn and knitting supplies! ), although I see the color choices diminishing.  I wish I could have gotten a bag of each color.  Mine is gorgeous fall colors, bright red, orange and yellow with greens and browns, and an unexpected deep violet.  I’m knitting a cap, and you can’t see it yet because I have to have all the colors knitted in before I will show it.  It knits very easily, making lovely, even stitches, and each stripe of color is at least two rows wide on this cap.  Some are wider.  I’m loving it! 

 

My household is back to just Lucy and me.  Lucy hasn’t seemed to notice yet, but I can hear the quiet.   My daughter was home for the weekend, exteneded to today because of lingering temporary illness, so I didn’t notice the young cousin’s departure so much.  She has terminated her Chattanooga experience and is returning to the north to attack her home job market. 

 

The daughter’s visit was great fun.  We spent time with her dad and grandparents, including a visit to a new, really nice, Mexican restaurant.  (Oh stop complaining.  This is not Dine-O-Meter.  I can’t remember the name of the place.)  I was impressed with the authenticity of the food.  My tamale was actually wrapped in a corn husk, unlike the tamales of my childhood, which slid out of the can wrapped in white paper.   Even better, they were quite vegetarian-friendly. 

 

Lupus.  Guess I should say what’s going on.  I’m still dealing with sacroiliitis, and now my feet have begun to hurt.  That’s a surefire symptom for flaring.  I called my doc today to ask about changing one of my medications from oral to injection.  In the past, making that particular change brought increased effectiveness for that medicine (methotrexate).  I feel like I need every possible factor that might prevent my increasing prednisone again.  I’m at 10 mg and I’m not budging. 

 

That’s where I stand.  Darn right.  You betcha. 

 

Peace.

Writing on an Empty Stomach

When I feel well, I wake up ready to go.  This is one of those days where the sun is shining and nothing is particularly uncomfortable.  I sat up when the alarm went off, watched a bit of news, then headed to the kitchen.  I stood at the sink and washed up a pile of dishes.  My SI’s did a bit of moaning and groaning, but I didn’t run out of steam.  I put Israeli couscous in the rice cooker, made myself a cup of coffee, and came to the computer.  If there was anyone in the house with me they would be complaining about my cheery, talkative morning attitude.  I’ve had to train myself to tone it down for the non-morning people in my life. 

There are so many components to enjoying a skill like knitting.  One is the ability to find what you need, whether it is materials, patterns, teaching.  I need to take time to share some of the things that have been useful to me.  Please excuse the list format, but I want to make sure I get all the info organized in a useful way. 

Yarn

  • Your local yarn store is the foundation of early yarn purchases, and should never be completely out of your shopping realm.  Here you can ask questions, feel and see various yarns.  Often there are swatches or sample garments that will show you how a particular yarn behaves.  Until you are more experienced in selecting materials, this is your best resource.  Unfortunately, it is rarely your best price.
  • Internet yarn stores are fabulous for selection and price.  If you know what you want, or have the nerve to experiment a little, you will love this.
  • www.Knitpicks.com cuts out the middle man and offers basic yarns in categories that most knitters use:  you can find a selection of yarns in a wide range of colors in all weights in the wool and blends that are commonly used.  They routinely discount knitting books, too. 
  • www.elann.comis a Canadian company with a huge selection of discounted yarns.  Their own yarns comprise at least four dozen varieties which run the gamut from simple, single-fiber yarns to quite sophisticated blends.  I love this company’s breadth of offers, including eco-friendly fibers like bamboo and tencel and organic cotton.  I have not found these yarns at better prices.  The family of owners are knowledgeable and helpful here, and I always enjoy our interactions.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have done some knitting for this company. 
  • Not long ago I suffered the pain of seeing my favorite local yarn store close.  The other store was unfriendly, and I was in need of a substitute.  www.FlyingFingers.com filled the gap beautifully.  They carry a number of my favorite yarnmakers, including Karabella and Colinette, and their photos display them beautifully.  They talk about yarn, whether it’s the descriptions that accompany their photos, the postcard notes they send with your orders, or Elise’s blog.  They have a propensity for unexpected sales, announced by email.  This is how I got hooked on cashmere!  Their shipping department is wonderful, and their packages come beautifully wrapped.
  • www.LittleKnits.com is a well-stocked company in Seattle that consistently has comprehensive sales on brand-name yarns.  They are my best source of the beautiful Japanese hand-painted Noro yarns.  On any given day, I will find something interesting to read about (they give details on production processes for unusual yarns) and a great price on something desirable.
  • A number of other yarn stores deserve mention here.  I have shopped www.JimmyBeansWool.com for various bargains.  When I want South West Trading Company yarns at a great price, I go to www.discontinuedbrandnameyarn.com .  They also carry discontinued and overstocked Cherry Tree Hill products.  I recently discovered www.yarn.com for the Webs yarn store, and www.gotyarn.com.  Both have discounted yarns.  Be forewarned, GotYarn uses black backgrounds throughout their website and I find that very hard on the eyes. 

Patterns

  • You can find expensive patterns anywhere.  I’m only going to mention free pattern sources. 
  • Keep your eyes open for pattern-yarn deals, where you get a free pattern if you buy a particular yarn.  Even if that’s not the pattern you want to use right now, it will help build your library.
  • www.lionbrandyarn.com has a huge, searchable free pattern library.
  • www.elann.com has a large library of free patterns.  I could scroll through their free patterns forever, as these are sophisticated designs with full-size photos on models. 
  • Sometimes you don’t need a whole pattern, just a stitch.  The best stitch library I’ve found is at knitting.about.com.  The address is:  http://knitting.about.com/od/stitchglossary/Learn_to_Knit_Knitting_Stitch_Pattern_Glossary.htm
  • Another excellent stitch library is at www.lionbrandyarn.com.  Go to the site home page and click on the Stitch Finder in the index at the left.    This has knit and crochet stitches.
  • It is important to note that most patterns are copyrighted and should be treated as such.  Because I sell much of what I knit, I design my own pieces and don’t use patterns.  That doesn’t stop me from enjoying other peoples’ designs and studying how others use particular yarns to enhance their work. 

Alright, good stopping place.  I haven’t had a pill, and I have to save energy to go pick up groceries and dog meds this afternoon.  Woo-hooo, I live an exciting life!

Peace!

Knitting Obsession #1 (Because There Will Be More)

So this is how it works to be obsessed.  You reread an old post and realize that you promised a simple hat, not a simple ear warmer.  Right after breakfast you get your cashmere (sigh, moan, weak feeling in legs) and choose two colors and cast on the simple hat.  There is no exact design in mind, but you know you can put some stitches on the needle and start it, and the pleasure of working the cashmere will bring inspiration. 

Then, you’re knitting along and realize that it’s Monday morning, and you need to talk to your accounts person.  You call his cell phone and find that he’s not in the office, he’s in upstate New York.  (Duh, it’s the holidays!)  That sets off a frenzy of wondering how close he is to your favorite yarn store, Flying Fingers, in Irvington, New York.  You put down your knitting and log on to Mapquest.com to find the exact location of Irvington and your accounts person.  There’s not a chance in hell of putting the accounts person in your yarn store, but you have to know this information. 

Ten minutes later you realize that you have engaged your accounts person in a long conversation about knitting needles on planes and the radical knitting movement.  Fortunately, the accounts person is an old friend and is not charging for the minutes.   Nor is he thinking that you might soon need to do that Power of Attorney thingy to have a saner person  making the calls (or at least he doesn’t say those things out loud). 

Next, you’ve logged on to the computer and raced to your weblog to tell the whole world how sweet it is to be touching cashmere again.   The Debbie Bliss Pure Cashmere comes in these cute little 45 yard twists.  They are so smooth that you don’t have to ball them before you use them-you can just lay out the loop of yarn and pull from it.  If it gets tangled, you can prod them with your needle and pull and the offending snags fall apart.  Every few minutes you stop knitting and stroke the fabric that is coming off your needles.  It’s incredible.  I recently read the Knitter’s Review (www.knittersreview.com) forum on cashmere, and I think most felt that with cashmere you get what you pay for.  I agree completely.  I have sampled across the price range, and the less expensive cashmeres have a sort of fuzzy halo around them and are not as soft and smooth.  However, I must say that I still enjoyed working with them, and wouldn’t let that keep me from sampling the cashmere I could afford. 

Oh yeah, you also email one of your best friends to get the details about a knitting group she mentioned.  This could totally revitalize your social life. 

Finally, you rush to end your weblog because the cashmere fix is sitting right next to you, calling your name.  There’s an idea in your mind for how to form the top of the cap and it can’t wait any longer.  No matter if everyone in the world knows you are dorky.  Time to go knit!

Peace.

Cashmere One

cashmere-fingerless-mitts.jpg

 Today’s name started out as “Cashmere I”, but I thought it looked too much like the word “I” and I didn’t want anyone to be mistaken that this was the first in a series of nauseatingly loving posts about cashmere.  I did not grow up with cashmere.  A military family with six children is not the place to get a taste for luxury.  I found cashmere as a 50 year old woman, shopping a tempting sale at my lys (local yarn store), the not-really-local Flying Fingers in New York.  They had Karabella Supercashmere in special Flying Fingers colours at half price!  Previously $50 a ball, the highest quality cashmere suddenly seemed within reach.  My yarn was delivered by the UPS angel and I had a religious experience.  Those chubby balls of yarn felt like baby cotton and the strands were so lush and plump that I couldn’t stop feeling them. 

Initially, I couldn’t bear to knit with the new yarn.  I stalked online store ads looking for more cashmere, and I began to stockpile it.  Finally, this fall, I felt like I had an idea worth working in cashmere.  I took out some of the moss green yarn and began to knit fingerless mitts.  I worked out a pattern of eyelet that snaked its way up the length of the mitt in an alluring curve, batching my yarnovers and k2t’s.  I tried them on to customize the decreases for my wrist and increases for the base of my hand and the thumb position.  These were going to be mine.  My first cashmere creation could not leave my possession.  It was a first in every way–first cashmere, first pair of fingerless mitts, first thing I’d intentionally knit for myself as an adult.  I know that last statistic is pathetic.  For two years I had been knitting for sale and knitting to give away, but none of my modern day knitting spree had been for me.  I kept a few things that couldn’t be sold (a contest winner, something so artsy there didn’t seem to be a market) but they weren’t initially intended to be mine.  Anyway, you can see them here, along with a nice shot of my belly and unmanicured hands.  Remind me to dress up a little and hold my stomach in for photos in the future.  cashmere-fingerless-mittsb.jpg

 Unfortunately, Tennessee weather has been its changeable best-highs ranging from 65 to 78 this week.  It will be colder in January and February and I’ll be able to wear my mitts for something other than display photos.

I am going to warn you now that making a derogatory comment about these mitts could lose you your comment privileges ’til hell freezes over or they transplant me a kinder heart.  Just saying.

You don’t have to wait for Flying Fingers to have a cashmere sale.  Other stores stock cashmere yarns, too.  One of them (www.littleknits.com) sent me an email about a sale yesterday morning and at 5:30 a.m. I was choosing colours of Debbie Bliss Cashmere.  I bought a bag (10 skeins) of black, a bag of amethyst (I am a purple freak) and some individual skeins of a light spring green and a delicate pale yellow.  Can’t wait for them to come.  You know I’ll be talking about it.

Now that I have enough cashmere stashed to part with some, I’m going to implement my “cashmere for the masses” plan.  All those trendy stores have their skinny little cashmere knits that don’t begin to give you the feel for the real thing.  I’m going to make nice thick caps and scarves in simple patterns, a lesson in fiber appreciation.  I might start with a moss green cap for me.

Well, I did it.  I talked about just one topic without too much digression.  I think that’s a good stopping point.  I’ve got a huge mug of coffee here and I’m ready to sip and knit.

Peace!