Sunday, October 28, 2012

Skipping SAFF

This hat knit up fast and is super warm.

I’d like to write a glowing post about my trip to the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF) this past weekend, but, unfortunately, work, a biweekly evening class, and my sons' athletic events have officially sapped my seasonal energy.  I woke Saturday morning, aching all over and feeling exhausted.  Determined not to miss a huge annual fiber event, however, I dressed, got in the car at around 7:00 a.m., drove to the gas station, filled up and then decided that I didn’t have the strength to drive 2 ½ hours to Asheville, walk around, and then drive back home again on the same day (as I did last year with no problem). Secretly relieved more than disappointed, however, I decided to stay home—a decision which turned out to suit me just fine, as I had plenty of my own fiber arts projects to tide me over until next year (probably an understatement from the looks of my expanding stash which might see me through to the next decade).   

I returned home to rest for a while, after making a stop at Wal-Mart, where I purchased the latest issue of Knitscene magazine and a baking pan to use to make pumpkin-, leaf-, and acorn-shaped whoopee pies. (I won’t digress too much from my knitting-related activities here to share the details of my tale of woe regarding the aforesaid pies.  Let’s just say that the term “non-stick” on the pan wrapper seems to have been a lapse in editorial preciseness and that my earthy looking crumbles—which I made today—share little resemblance to the darling, clever ones displayed in the photograph on the package.)
I delivered the Clemson hat I designed to my co-worker, Shep, during this past busy week.  I've worked with this man for almost two decades--he's a kind person and a great listener.  I'm happy that he really liked his hat.  I might be making a Clemson golf club cover for him soon. 

But, back to Saturday, after unpacking my purchases and sitting for a while to work on a poncho using Debbie Bliss Riva yarn, I headed to Cottage Yarn, a short drive away.  If I couldn’t go to SAFF (and spend lots of money on goodies I found there), I rationalized, I at least could indulge a little bit in some knitting related materials.  And I did need some size six interchangeable needles as I couldn’t find the pair that came with my set (until about five minutes after I returned home with my new pair, of course, and found them attached to a forlorn lace cardigan in a bag I looked in when hunting for a tape measure). 

Ironically, at Cottage Yarn, two knitted-up versions of the Lucy Hat featured in the magazine I’d purchased were on the display over the mantle of the fireplace.  I love this hat, and found pretty skein of Cascade 220 heathers to use to make it.  I want to do something creative with the hat band, maybe using some beaded or velvety yarn.  I’ll have to see.
This is a picture of a page in Knitscene magazine, showing
the Lucy Hat.  My yarn is shown in front. 

After my trip to Cottage Yarn, I spent a pleasant afternoon watching Jane Eyre and Becoming Jane and knitting away.  I finished a hat I’m making for my niece’ and her husband's new baby.  (I refer to the infant this way as I am as of yet unable to speak or write the term “grand” in conjunction with discussing any individual related to myself.)
                                                        This is a small, easy project--perfect for when life gets busy. The yarn is Knitcol and the pattern for a "Child's Self-Striping Hat" is available on Ravelry

So not traveling far from home allowed me to put my feet up, finish the baby hat, weave in the ends on a hat with ear flaps I made using Lamb’s Pride bulky wool, and knit a goodly portion of my Riva poncho.  (I want to post the pattern I devised for the bulky yarn hat, but can’t seem to find my notes.)  I think they’re at school, and, if I can locate them, I’ll get around to doing so sometime soon.  (I’m certain that my recent exhausting schedule has affected my memory a bit.) 
This is my poncho in progress. 

With a short break for Thanksgiving coming up next month, though, maybe I can recover a bit before the onslaught of the holidays.  I haven’t cast on my Lucy hat yet, and I haven’t even begun my holiday knitting—and October is almost over.  I need to get busy!

I finished this Pine Needle Shrug this past week, too.  Everything I'm working on is simple and on relatively big needles right now--a fact that reflects my flagging energy. 


Friday, October 19, 2012

Excused Absence . . . and a Free Knitting Pattern

I typically publish a new blog post once or twice a week, but have been negligent lately.  The span of time since my October 9 post has been filled, however, with trying to complete one of my own designs and many school demands.  After pages and pages of madly scrawled math, too many shapes sketched out on graph paper, and numerous trying on sessions (courtesy of my husband), my Asheville hat pattern, however, is finally finished.  

Click the link here to access the PDF:  Asheville Hat.
This is one of many pages of notes and numbers, shown
with a template for the hat band and ear flaps.

This hat is definitely for a man, one with a large head 21-23 inches in circumference.  I haven't changed the design to accommodate women and children yet, but will get there. . . .  

I created five equally spaced decreases around the hat, using knit two together, so the decreases all slant the same way, radiating out from the center.  

A co-worker, who is a Clemson fan and alumnus, asked me to knit him a hat to wear to his alma mater's football games.  His request precipitated the creation of the Asheville hat pattern.  Since I didn't want to write a pattern and share it on my blog with a Clemson paw logo--for fear of copyright issues, I knit a striped prototype first and decided to simply publish the pattern for that hat.  Asheville is an artsy mountain town a few hours away from where I live, and it has a cooler climate, one where this hat would come in handy. 
I'll show you the Clemson hat in progress here.  It isn't blocked yet, and I still need to knit the lining, but, so far, I'm happy with the results.  I used Knit Picks yarn for this project--their yarns are a good value and are of consistent high quality.  I still need to knit up the lining for this hat, though, before passing it on to my co-worker.  


This Trendsetter Curly yarn, which I used for the ear flap lining,
 knits up wonderfully thick and cozy. 

I also finished my Miss Marple scarf recently.  I really like this easy pattern, and the Rowan Lima yarn I used is wonderfully soft around my neck.  

I had to travel to Lenoir, NC this past Wednesday for a teaching workshop.  A co-worker (an avid crocheter) and I managed to squeeze in a trip to a local knitting store.  This shop had quite a diverse selection of yarn, and I was able to pick up two skeins of Lamb's Pride to make another Asheville hat in a heavier weight. 

It was fun to have a fellow yarn lover attend the teaching
workshop with me.  Tonya and I are planning a big trip
to another fiber event--details will follow. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Blue Ridge Retreat

Driving along country roads on a clear fall afternoon, seeing the mountains rise before me in the west, I headed off to a weekend getaway in Burnsville, NC last Friday.  I was on my way to the annual knitting retreat held by the Tuesday night knitting group at Cottage Yarn.  I didn’t really know most of the members very well (as I always seem to have another scheduled activity on Tuesdays), but was thrilled to be invited to go along.   

This is only a glimpse of a small number of the women who attended.  Sabrina is
 wearing blue  and knitting orange, Debbie is knitting purple, and the group
at right includes Patty (in white) who organized the weekend.

Although the roughly 15 women who attended the event encompass a wide range of ages, professions—and, I’m certain, points of view—our shared love of knitting made for a calm, relaxing, and sociable weekend at the Nu Wray Inn.  As the Inn owners rent the entire house to groups, we had an enormous, charming place built in the 1830s all to ourselves.  Interestingly, we knitters found ourselves lodging where Elvis, Jimmy Carter, and Mark Twain (to name a few illustrious guests) have laid their heads.  While the rooms are decorated in a tasteful, 19th-century style, Peggy, one of the women in our group, had the rare treat of staying in the Elvis room with all of its memorabilia, including a singing Elvis lamp.  I’m sure her stay there was memorable. 

Here are some of my favorite memories of the weekend:

Eating lots of appetizers in a big rocker on the front porch, knitting bag and wine glass at hand.

Building fires in the enormous stone fireplace, even if that fact meant going out in the rain to retrieve firewood.

Lounging in my pajamas in front of the fireplace and not feeling guilty about my lack of productive, non-knitting activity or having to make decisions about whether to rise (as I do at home when one of my sons begins foraging for food in my well-stocked kitchen and can’t seem to find any).

Walking up and down hills in the quaint town, perusing the shops and the Saturday-morning farmers' market.

Having a knitting store (Yummi Yarns) just a few feet away.  Of course, I’d be filing for bankruptcy if this were the case at home.  (I really need to open my own shop to maybe break even on my hobby. . . .)
Yummi Yarns is stocked with a wide array of yarn. 

Pretending I was Martha Stewart in the professional kitchen (think lots of stainless steel and a huge gas range) as I cooked an omelet using ingredients from the farmers' market.

Not having to cook, so, subsequently, pigging out on tortilla chips, crackers, and an eclectic array of salsas and dips for dinner and Saturday night. 

Laughing and chatting with the other women who were a wealth of resources on many topics—from skincare, to coping with locked out in the snow for hours—while working my needles, enjoying the calm respite from my everyday life. 

Going to a jazz club with poor service, mediocre food, and a strange cover charge surprisingly tacked onto our bill after we’d eaten and not feeling stressed or annoyed about the experience.  (I really need to get out more.  I was just happy to actually be out when the sun was down and not at my home in bed or at one of my son’s football games.) 

Finishing two works in progress—a hat with ear flaps (I’ll post the pattern I designed and a picture for this project soon) and a MissMarple scarf (pictures forthcoming, too). 

Returning home to my family and pets and my own bed with its down comforter in my own cozy bedroom (26-room inns in the mountains in October can be a bit chilly).

I am thankful to Cottage Yarn’s Tuesday-night knitters for making this experience possible for me.  I wonder where the group will be going next year.  I hope I’m invited to tag along.   
The produce at the farmers' market was beautiful.
The stalks in the center are lemon grass.  I need to look up some recipes for this item. 

One stall sold quilts and hand crocheted items. 
Wellspring Farm's stall sold llama and alpaca products. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Yarn Crawling

From September 28 through October 7, thirteen yarn shops are participating in the annual Charlotte Yarn Crawl.  In addition to taking advantage of special discounts, shoppers receive a “Passport,” which they have stamped at 11 stores, in order to be eligible to enter drawings for twenty-six door-prizes. 

As I work full-time during the week and always seem to have family obligations on the weekends, I have never actually completed a Yarn Crawl, but this past Saturday, after mailing a baby cardigan I'd just finished, I did visit Cottage Yarn, where the owner, Sara Furr, was offering a special 15% discount off all yarns in the shop.  As I need to be on a self-imposed yarn fast (and had visited the store on the pretense that I needed to check in regarding a knitting retreat this coming weekend), I tried to restrain myself, but ultimately left with one ball for a baby hat. 

I mailed this sweater off to my niece on Saturday morning.  With a grandmother and a great aunt who are avid knitters, this baby boy will certainly never run out of knitwear. 
I wasn't planning to buy any yarn, but these bright colors caught my eye.  I can't wait to see how this yarn knits up. 

The next day, after visiting an aunt who lives in Charlotte, I decided to stop at South Park Mall.  In true fashion, however, I never made it to the mall as I remembered that a nearby knitting store, The Fiber Arts Studio at Yarns to Dye For, would be open on Sunday for the Yarn Crawl.  I bought my spinning wheel there a couple of years ago from the owner Debbie, but rarely get over to her part of town.  She has an interesting selection, including some lovely Louisa Harding Grace yarn that caught my eye.  I held off on buying yarn, but had to purchase a pattern book for Debbie Bliss’s Riva Yarn.  I have a large stock of Riva I bought on sale a few months ago, so now I have some great patterns from which to choose.  I also couldn’t resist a Louisa Harding book.  Her designs and the styling of her photographs are so wonderfully romantic and enchanting.  I have two balls of Grace in my stash, so I only need one more ball to make some fingerless gloves featured in the book.  Luckily the third ball is in a contrast color (with beading), so I won’t have to hunt out any particular shades or dye lots.
I was happy to find these books at a discount on the Yarn Crawl.
I bought this yarn back in the summer, but haven't cast anything on yet. 

Here’s a list of participating stores, and a link to the website for the event:

Baskets of Yarn—1318 E3 Central Avenue, Charlotte, 28205 - 704-733-9053
Charlotte Yarn—1235 East Blvd, (Kenilworth Commons),
Charlotte, 28203 - 704-373-7442
Cottage Yarn—7717 Matthews-Mint Hill Road, Mint Hill, 28227 - 704-545-8440
Foothill Fiberarts— 414 Turnersburg Hwy, Statesville, 28625 - 704-871-1030
Knit One, Stitch Too— 9709-C Sam Furr Rd (NorthCross Shopping Center)
Huntersville, 28078 - 704-655-9558
Tangles on Main—200W. North Main Street, Waxhaw, 28172 - 704-243-7150
The Fibre Studio At Yarns To Dye For—4724Sharon Road, Suite K (Sharon
Corners), Charlotte, 28210 - 704-643-7720
The Needlecraft Center—102 S. Main Street, Davidson, 28036 - 704-892-8988
The Yarn Shop by Rainy Day Creations—315 Main Street, Suite 2,
Pineville, 28134 - 704-889-1308
Things Remembered—3805 South New Hope Road,
Gastonia, 28056 - 704-824-0473
Time To Unwind—3692 N Hwy 16 (Denver Plaza),
Denver - 704-966-1300
TranqWool Knitting Provisions—516 S. Salisbury Ave.,
Salisbury, 28159 - 704-431-4527