Sunday, September 14, 2014

Warm, by Myself

There's been a cold front moving slowly through Chicago and with it has come the first real hints of fall. It's good sleeping weather, as the Incredibly Patient Mother reminds me, and she's right. These are the first nights that I want to burrow under an extra blanket, revel in the fact that it's quiet (no AC), and when I wake up I wonder where all of my woolen things are.  The Philosopher has gotten to wear a triangle for the first time this season-- he chose to start with the green one that I knit earlier this summer. I have a feeling that the requests for a "dress triangle" are going to start up again soon.

Yesterday though, for the first time ever, I pulled on a sweater I had knit for myself and went to the farmer's market.

It was perfect weather, cool but sunny. And while I bought ridiculously large zucchini, interesting squash, unusual apples, and parsnips, the Flax Sweater was just warm enough without being too much.

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I've knit a lot of socks. I've made hats and scarves, mittens and shawls. And this isn't even the first sweater that I've knit for myself--a couple of years ago I made a light cardigan that will, if I ever get it dyed because I shouldn't wear pale yellow, be a lovely addition to my closet. I made that green sweater from the same yarn (Filatura Lanarota Wool Sprinkles) but the shoulders turned out too wide and it went to live with the IPM. But this was the first handknit sweater that I've made that I've actually gotten a full day of wear out of.

The Incredibly Patient Mother made many of our clothes as I was growing up. I have a sewing machine but I'm seriously out of practice making entire garments, though she taught me and the muscle memory runs deep. The satisfaction though, of walking down the street knowing that I'd made my clothes was probably tangible to the people around me.

I've worn it again today, just at home, and as both of the cats have been trying to burrow into my chest at various points, it seems that they like it as well. Pyewacket keeps licking the sweater--not a felting problem that I had anticipated needing to ward again. Paired with my Pumpkin Patch socks, I'm feeling very handknit from head to toe.

And warm, by my own cleverness and some time, sticks, and string. Maybe there's something to this sweater bug I hear about...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sifu: On the Way Home

I've been looking around at the Chicago yarn stores recently for some new options. I enjoy Nina but her shop is out of the way and Loopy just doesn't seem to carry anything in terms of smaller dyers, it's all major brands. I miss that from when they had the little shop, I used to find the greatest random stuff there.

Fortunately, AudioGirl was up for an exploration trip to Sifu, which is on the northeast side of Chicago and on my way home. What a gem of a shop! It's absolutely stuffed with yarn from floor to ceiling and they had all sorts of things I'd never seen before. The staff was very welcoming, offering comments without making us feel like we were being supervised. We definitely want to go back.

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AudioGirl ended up getting yarn to make a new hat--she too left her winter hat in a cab* and I got another skein of Dragonfly Fibers. I was surprised and pleased to find this smaller dyer in a shop. As you can see, that bright green reached out to me again.

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And also there's that yellow that appealed in the Van Gogh skein. Finally, it's in fall colors.  Can you see why I had to bring it home? The colorway is called Chicago Blackhawks and the base is called Traveller. It's a nice squishy 100% superwash in worsted weight.

I'd like to make a hat with it.  Despite how much I adored my hat last winter, by spring I was very very tired of wearing it everyday.  I'm hoping that keeping two hats in rotation will keep me from being quite so burnt out on my winterwear.  Haven't decided on a pattern yet but I'm sure there must be something in my queue of interest...

This was a very nice yarn store discovery and I hope my next venture, to Sister Arts, goes equally well.

*There must  be some wonderful cabbie lost and found of hand knit hats somewhere in Chicago. I hope they go to a charity or something...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

For love of leaves

When Lime and Violet were still recording, Violet really loved Lisa Souza.  It's something she bequeathed to many of her listeners, I think, the love of her yarn and color sense.  The podcast has long faded but I still hear the angel music they'd play after each instance of saying Lisa's name. It's always a pleasure to buy Lisa's yarn, whether online or in person and I highly recommend stopping and chatting with her and her husband if you get the opportunity.

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Lisa's was the first booth that I stopped into at Stitches Midwest but it was my last place to buy. I could have bought everything but I wanted to be somewhat selective--so I waited until I'd gotten through my other purchases and wasn't just going to go full hedgehog into the racks of wool.

I was drawn to her natural colors. I'm on a fall colors kick. Anything and everything that looks like trees changing color has shown up in my hands if not my actual shopping cart of late. And this skein, Augustine,

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was exactly the kind of fall tree that I was looking for. I love the pop of purple among the more usual colors. This is on the Hardtwist Petite base, which is 100% superwash merino and will make really great socks. Or a really great hat, or something. I've got 500 yards to play with..

The Philosopher also picked out a skein (he picked out several actually but this is the one I bought). This is in the Sherwood Forest colorway


I had a doozy of a time getting a picture of it, even in my little lightbox.  For whatever reason my camera just refused to focus, so you get a rather blown out picture and my apologies. At least you can see all of the various shades that are in the skein. It's a 100% superfine superwash merino, so it's even softer and squishier than the other base.  The Philosopher, of course, wants a triangle. I've got 525 so I might shoot for a small triangle and maybe some short socks, or matching fingerless mitts. It's just too pretty of yarn for extras to go into the leftovers bin.

This was my last stop at Stitches Midwest. I ended up with a total of 8 new skeins of yarn from the event, which is fairly restrained in my mind. Next up, I need to tell you about the new-to-me wool shop I found...

Monday, August 25, 2014

These will be bright socks...

Around my freshman year in high school I went through a teal and purple phase. Those were my favorite colors, they were what I wanted everything to be in, frequently together. I keep saying I got past it, until I go yarn shopping or seriously review the stash and realize nearly everything is still teals/blues and purples.

Exhibit A:  The Miss Babs Sock yarn that I bought at Stitches Midwest (I told you I bought a lot of yarn). 

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Done in the Prince colorway on her Cosmic Handpainted Sock Yarn Base, this is some of the nicest 80/20 merino/nylon yarn I think I've ever touched. It's softer than many 100% merino yarns I have in my stash.  And it is so lovely.  It was hard to photograph because the purple is just slightly ultra-violet: gorgeous to the eye, really hard to capture with the camera. 

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I've knit with Miss Babs yarn once before-- making the Windsor socks a couple of years ago. She doesn't make that base anymore but I think this is similar. I'd have to ask the Incredibly Patient Mother to feel up her sock drawer for comparison. 

This skein will probably be socks. AudioGirl and I were talking about how it seems counter intuitive to use such colorful yarn because socks go on feet, in shoes, and for me usually in boots where no one sees them. But it doesn't mean I don't get enjoyment out of the colors when I'm knitting it and there's something fun about handing over the gift of bright colorful socks. I don't mind knittting the IPM black socks, but fortunately she likes bright socks too.  And as I'll spend a good 20 hours looking at the yarn on the needles, one should pick out colors one likes to see... 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chasing Dragonflies

New to me at Stitches Midwest was getting to wander in the Dragonfly Fibers booth. I've heard of them before, but this was my first experience swimming into their colorways. I was overwhelmed by the beautiful colorways and the intensity of the dye. I ended up with two skeins of their Dragon Sock.

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First is this lovely Van Gogh's Sunflowers colorway. I was surprised at how much this enchanted me, as anyone who knows my color taste very well will tell you that yellow isn't a color I reach for very often.  Orange shows up in my wardrobe far more than middle-school-me would ever have approved of seeing, but yellow still isn't a favorite. Paired with this blue, though, it was easy to change my mind. There are a lot of shades to this yarn too: the yellow has flecks and tones of orange, the blue is three or four shades, plus there is some brown to anchor it. It's going to be lovely, though I'm not really sure what I'm going to make with it. 

The second skein is one the Philosopher picked out.  This is one of the benefits of going wool shopping with me, as both he and the Incredibly Patient Mother can attest, you do get to pick out yarn for the next project I knit for you. (Now I wait to see who volunteers to go to WI Sheep and Wool with me just so they can demand a handknit something....)

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The green in this skein seems to be one of their signature colors. It was in a number of colorways and I've not seen anything quite like it before. As a full skein, it was eye searing, but here it was a perfect bright touch. I expect that it will pop cables nicely, so that's the patterns I am eyeballing for the Philosopher.  

The yarn for both skeins is a two ply 100% merino and the base feels familiar. I know there are a number of dyers who use the same mills for at least some of their bases and this feels like one of those. That's not a criticism at all, it feels like an old friend and I immediately knew that if I was going to make socks of either skein that it would be on size 1 (2.25 mm) needles.

Anyone have ideas on what to do with the blue and yellow skein besides put it on the coffee table and use it as an art installation?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sock Show Thursday: Dark Rainbows

This KPPPM yarn wasn't actually in my stash very long, I bought it last winter with the Philosopher as we were headed to a show at the House Theater in Chicago. It went to work to be in-office socks, KPPPM seems very good for that, but they ended up following me around other places as well. So instead of taking several months, they only took 2.  Not bad for my 8th finished pair this year.

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My favorite part about these was seeing what color would come next. I'm sure it sounds incredibly simple but I would get fascinated watching to see "ooh there was green" and wondering where I could find a whole skein of that shade of dark teal that just doesn't show up in the photographs.

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I'm not out of KPPPM and yet I am. I only have the 5 skeins in a blueberry colorway that I keep meaning to make into something larger than socks. I think Nina is the only shop that carries it locally, perhaps it's time for another field trip there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lost in Greens...

Onwards with the Stitches Midwest shopping...

Partway through the vendor market, I got into a chat with Jennifer from Holiday Yarns. I have a particularly soft spot for her, though this was the first time we'd met. Jennifer sold me the Tsock Tsarina's Tsock 101 kit while I was living in Wisconsin.  From that and after one of my kids' prompting, I sat down one weekend and sorted out sock knitting.
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And, as I told Jennifer, I'd now reached 65 pair of socks. Since 2008. This in six years.  That's 10 pair of socks per year since beginning to knit socks. I know historically that's not very much. Certainly I wouldn't be keeping the Philosopher and I shod if all we wore were the socks that I knit (though during the winter, we're starting to get there), but it's a lot of wool and time.

To celebrate that, Jennifer gave me a skein of her FlockSock so I can continue my sock making ways.  I was really touched by her generosity.

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I picked out a skein called Fathom, which is part of her Aquaman Kit. Jennifer doesn't have the Tsock Tsarina's kits anymore but she has a ton of really excellent ones and I fully expect one or two people to suddenly have a strong need for Batman socks. She's also got shawl kits including some beautiful lace, fiber, clubs, the whole skein (I was going to say the whole 9 yards but I couldn't make much with that).

I might need to save this for a special pair of socks, at least in terms of number. They're definitely going to be for me though, so I can see just how far I've come in 6 years.

My other green purchase was to replace that skein I left in the overhead bin on the way to Vegas. While Angela of Fleur de Fiber didn't have that particular shade handy, I always manage to find something in her greens that appeals to me. I promise she does dye other colors, they just don't seem to follow me home.

So this is a Fleur de Fiber one off--or what she calls Potlucky.

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And I've decided this doesn't really count as 'new' stash, just replacement stash. That sounds reasonable, right?

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