Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Unpacking the Stash

I'm going through the stash. Some friendly neighborhood clothes moths paid a visit to a couple pair of handknit socks that had been left out over the summer and I want to salad toss everything, vacuum, and make sure that further damage isn't afoot.*

Usually I try to go through the stash a couple of times a year. It's good to sort out yarn that I am no longer interested in, remember what I have, get back in touch with my yarn and spark a ridiculous amount of creative inspiration. I knew it had been a while but apparently full yarn-amnesia has set in. As I opened up bins I kept commenting "what's that? I don't remember buying that." Ravelry helps but I'm finding things that aren't in Ravelry, which means they snuck in here without even that documentation.

Somewhere around mid-July I was staring at the stash on it's many shelves in the living room and all I could think was that perhaps I should just clear it all out. Try again with some new yarn if something particularly inspired me but stop carrying around stash. That this thought occurred was slightly troubling, but also a sign of how overwhelmed I was feeling about the rest of life. It also suggested a need to go through and lighten.

Currently I am going through a Use-the-Yarn-You-Own phase. I get these a lot, most often after I've tossed the stash, so that seems perfectly normal and appropriate. As I handle, vacuum, examine, and re-sort the stash ideas trickle in. That would make a nice hat; these two skeins would make a nice shawl.

I am, of course, trying to finish up some gift knitting and then there's Loopy Academy for the Junior Year Fall Semester and Christmas knitting. So my plans are likely to be slightly delayed as I try and get through all of that. But making sure that knitting is a commute priority (the various games I play on my phone will have to take a pause) should help. And the cool weather outside is inspiring as well. 

Have you tossed your stash lately? 

*Handknit socks; afoot. Yes, I crack me up too.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Delights at Every Turn

It was recently a birthday at Chez Hedgehog. One of the quieter years for me: AudioGirl and I met up for a mutual birthday meal; the Philosopher and I went to a very nice dinner on the actual day; and then the Incredibly Patient Mother came up last weekend and we ate and drank our way around Chicago: Dim Sum down in Chinatown followed by my first trip to our Cider Pub--Northman! The past year has been challenging in terms of work, personal goals, some health things, etc. and I wasn't up for any kind of big celebration. Time with my boyfriend, mother, and one of my longest friends was exactly what I needed. 

And there have been a few lovely additions to the knitting accouterments from my birthday...

Apparently if one has a sibling who knits and loves hedgehogs, you find her this. It's a lovely felted knitting bag from Sibling-the-Younger and has an aborable little cat pin. I've already got plans to haul it around and see how many comments I get on it! I think he picked it up at Maryland Sheep and Wool-- but it's definitely from Frabjous Fibers. 

Tucked inside were a novel set of knitting needles. I think they are porcupine quills?

I have absolutely no idea what I'll make with them, they appear to be a size 8 or 9 US and very flexible. These might need to be stay-at-home needles, I'd worry about losing one while traveling or sitting on them accidentally on the train. (That happens more than I'd like to admit, no puncture wounds yet but I do have a current tetanus shot!) 

Fortunately, Sibling-the-Elder sent along some knitting books from which I can extract some patterns. She got me Amy Herzog's newest: You Can Knit That; Modern Baby Knits; and the Knowledgeable Knitter. Scheming will abound with my stash. 

And AudioGirl knows me too well. We met up for dinner at Knit1, a yarn store in Chicago that I'd not made it to yet. I'll definitely go back though, they were lovely and the selection was delicious.  As I picked up my X-teenth skein of rainbow yarn, she interjected that perhaps I should peek at part of my birthday gift before pulling out my credit card: 

Isn't it fabulous? It's Knitted Wit yarn that she picked up on her travels. It's gloriously bright and is certain to knit up super quickly as I go "Oh, look, it'll be green in five more stitches." I've already started going through the Ravelry queue. 

And finally, I was on a delivery mission for my friend Catherine and she also sent me this lovely little magnet! 

I feel amazingly understood, loved, and known by my friends and family. I appreciate it more than I can say! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

For All the Miles

Before work today a man came to pick up my Pontiac. He was running late (weather/traffic/people can't drive); I was already exhausted from a new spate of insomnia; and a very full day of work lay ahead.  As he backed up the flatbed, I took off the license plate and made sure I had pulled out my last registration card. I signed over the title and --oh right--you need the keys. 

And he said "Great, I'll load it, you get to work, I'm sorry for being so late."

Suddenly I didn't want to go. My car was leaving me and I was just going to go to work like a normal day? 

I bought the car in 2004 as I was headed into my final semester of graduate school. My first car had finally given up the ghost and I needed to drive both for school and all over Long Island for work. I'd done research online, found a car I  wanted, arranged with the Incredibly Patient Mother to go make a purchase, arrived at the dealer at the beginning of the day and... neither the car nor the SalesDude I'd been emailing with were there. The manager of the dealership listened to the description of the car and immediately knew that the car wasn't on the lot. SalesDude was "coming in later that day" and they didn't have anything else really they could show me but if I wanted to wait 2-3 hours, they could get the car there (from the other side of Indianapolis). I remember looking at my mother briefly, back at the sales manager, and announcing "That's not acceptable." And so we left.  I'm still curious as to what kind of conversation SalesDude came into when he finally bothered to show up for work and a nearly guaranteed sale had already walked off the lot. 

Several other dealerships later (all of which seemed to be vying for a Worst Customer Service award), I walked onto another used dealer lot and flatly stated my requirements. Budget, car age/ approximate mileage, sedan, not a Dodge Neon, and not red.* The dealer was unfazed and presented me with the Pontiac for a test drive. Twenty-four hours, a new set of brakes, and a co-signed car loan later and I was on the road back to New York. I remember calling a couple of friends to keep me company/sane while I made my way across Pennsylvania. 

It was the second Grand Am in my group of friends: the Blonde had the Pumpkin and I now had the Gecko. We were the most identifiable cars in any parking lot. 

I only did the drive to NY once. When I moved to Chicago the first time, I drove the Gecko to New Jersey and got a truck hitch. But we made the run between LaCrosse and Chicago almost monthly for three years. It only refused to start once due to the cold--and frankly, no one should have been outside that day. 

Of late I've been less confident driving it. It needs new brakes, again, and a lot of other work that was beyond what I could do with it. My mechanic had stronger words about it. So I started car hunting and, happily, made a very easy acquisition.*** Of course, this meant the Gecko was no longer needed even for Target runs. 

A coworker also recently got a new car and pointed me towards a church that has a vehicle ministry--doing repairs, repurposing homing or breaking down donated cars, teaching car repair. They would come and take the Gecko and--if possible--give it a little more life and a new home. 

And so my car was driven onto a flatbed and it's unlikely I'll see it again.  The level of grief I'm experiencing for an inanimate object seems oddly high, but I spent a lot of hours in that car and 95% of the time it just turned on and took me wherever I needed to go. I owned it for 12 years and it was something of a physical extension. With Pontiac now out of business, it's unlikely I'll ever be able to own one again.  

Now it's off on an adventure without me and I will miss my bright green car. Such it is I bid adieu to my Gecko. Thanks for all of the miles. 

*I have a strong dislike of red cars
**Thank you again to the IPM, not sure how else they expect early 20s adults to get car loans.
***It's far easier to get a car loan in my 30s

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Stitches Midwest: Plans for Fall Socks

The Incredibly Patient Mother and I went to Stitches Midwest! Her visit was timed fortuitously and I haven't been to a yarn festival since AudioGirl and I went to YarnCon, obviously I was suffering for a lack of new wool in my life.

My first target was Dragonfly Fibers, to show them the shawl, which was very well received. You know dyers know their product line well when they handle a shawl and announce "Ah, Pixie, but where did you get an all black skein?...[Pause as I say Ravelry] Oh...the Shades of Truth kit, right..." They liked it and I hope that means black skeins might be part of their regular run in the future.

From there the IPM and I stalked Franklin Habit for a few minutes. My dear friend who travels so much that with my calendar and his, I can only hope that we'll end up in California or North Carolina at the same time one of these days while he teaches at a yarn shop and I'm giving another presentation on data policy.

I, of course, had an ulterior motive of getting my coloring book signed. For those of you who've gotten a copy, have you found the hedgehog? 

From there the IPM and I strolled through the booths, eyeing some unusual Japanese yarn, noting that speckles are all the rage, *not* going into that booth or that one. [Yes, there are stories, there are always stories. But best told in person with a bubbly beverage.]

My first pass I came away with nothing and felt rather disheartened. Did I truly just own too much yarn?  Had my yarn joy been too dampened by our first errand of the morning [the DMV]? But the IPM wisely suggested a reverse pass through the booths and I found a few delightful things on second glance. 

The lady at Threads and Ewe, up from Texas, was so welcoming. I could have chatted with her the rest of the day and she had some lovely indie dyers that were new to me. 

I picked up a skein of Round Table Yarn in the Camelot base, which is MCN and feels absolutely delicious. The colorway is Agravain and I have a feeling a couple of knitters I know are madly clicking over to see what other colors there are. There was a really great orange too....

Three Irish Girls' booth was mobbed on my first pass through and when we got back the pickings were a little on the slender side. They had a few more tubs with them, some reserves for the afternoon and Sunday, but it didn't look like they would be taking much home.  TIG dyes on purchase so it was lovely to have some instant gratification to go with their beautiful colorways. 

The purple in this is more ultraviolet than it's showing up in the pictures. Adorn Luxe in the Blackberry Cobbler colorway.  It will tone down a bit upon knitting but it's such a lovely skein.

And I grabbed their last skein of Rocket Man, the pair to Space Oddity which is 3/5 of a Flax Light that I'm presently ignoring.  So apparently I'm not over my rainbow streak yet.  

Finally, it was back to Dragonfly Fibers. I'm not sure if I'll get this knit up before Yarn Con, which is when I'm likely to see them again next, but I have hope. 

There's so much color in this skein and that vibrant yellow that I've come to associate with them. No one else seems to be using that shade to such great effect! 

I titled this post plan for fall socks because I got home and, as I reviewed the haul with the Philosopher, I realized that I will probably turn at least three pair into socks. The Camelot will be more flexible but I have the delight in the other three skeins in their present form. I'm not sure I want to see their crazy pooling on some other project. Socks is a good compromise for me. 

Of course, this doesn't sort out my Christmas knitting plans, which had been the goal. Ahh well, there's always next week's Loopy Ewe update, right? 

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Shawl is Done

I finished the giant black shawl!! Well, mostly black.

The 1900 yards have been bound off and I had a few yards leftover. Based on the weight, it's a little over that count, the skeins each had an extra yard or two but the wee leftovers on my desk are very wee. Certainly not enough to have done another round, but long enough that I wasn't worried about playing yarn chicken once I was 2/3rds of the way through the bindoff.

The shawl is Nuvem by Martina Behm. The yarn is Dragonfly Fibers Pixie in the Shaggy Dog and Firecracker colorways.

That's a full size bed that it's lying across This shawl is massive. And doesn't photograph well indoors. I'm not sure I have the right lights for the lightbox set up this would need. 

I have not blocked it yet and I'm not sure how much I will block it, though after all the places it has been a wash won't go amiss. (Also, I'm not sure where I have room to block it. We're sorting things in the dining room right now so my usual floor space is not available.) 

The Philosopher asked if I liked it once I as done and honestly, I don't know. It's not what I had planned/expected. The colored yarn came out far more muted than I anticipated. Also, the fourth skein didn't really get a chance to shine as it's such a thin part and then the ruffle. 

Overall though, it's a cosy piece. Very much a toss around the shoulders and go to run Saturday morning errands in early October or pile on top of my coat in January because it will be super high but not thick. It may also become a live-in-my-office shawl, if I can keep a couple of coworkers from sneaking off with it. (Similar color sense abounds in my department). 

This does put me over 3km for Stash Dash and I'm still hopeful of 5km. And I get to wear this to Stitches Midwest and show the DragonFly Fiber dyers the results! 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

How Much Can You Knit at a Conference?

I'm just finished with a lovely two day regional conference. Friends at UChicago organized and hosted the meeting and it was a wide variety of speakers and attendees. I heard from a wide swath of people from different libraries and roles within their libraries all working on interesting projects. I have notes on several things I want to ask people about at my library and I need to post my own slides, several people said they wanted to follow up with me about them.

This meant, of course, that I needed a new knitting project. Everything else at Chez Hedgehog is still at the "in the throes of being complete."  [The giant black shawl bindoff continues.] So on my way out the door on Thursday, I grabbed a skein that had gone with to Florida and back without getting more than a cursory look and the bag of "needles to knit FlaxLight" which I now apparently carry all over the place.

First order of business was to wind up the yarn while we were having welcome half-hour breakfast.

The yarn is Three Irish Girls' Adorn Sock in the Space Oddity Colorway. I bought it earlier this year and despite having spent the last two months sighing deeply over the black with rainbow yarn that is nearly a giant shawl, this held strong appeal. The neon factor help a lot. 

By the end of day 1 (Thursday), I had just put the sleeves on waste yarn and started the body of the sweater. Several people asked about the construction and TinCanKnits' beautiful sketches that accompany the pattern made it very easy.  I notice that in that picture the green isn't photographing very well. It's a popcorn knit--you keep thinking "just through the next rainbow, oh look, pink, orange, yellow, blue..." and around and around. Glancing down was always a surprise.

Day 2 saw a couple of inches work on the body. So apparently, about 35% of a baby sweater in two days. I wish everything went that fast and also that I regularly had that much knitting time. StashDash would be far more productive. Which would probably mean I would buy more yarn because of how fast I believe I can use it up. 

For now I will go figure out how long it takes to get this bindoff ruffle done... 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

By Weight

The shawl continues. Have I knit on anything else of late? There was a bit of a sprint working on one of the gray socks last week during a long meeting but other than that, shawl, shawl, shawl.

Everyone on various social media has been kind at the repetitive pictures of black yarn with speckles. The yarn is well loved and I've the impression that there's a cheering section of knitters waiting for me to finish it up.  This has been supplemented by a new site: I finally broke down and joined Instagram. I'm @hedgielib over there as well as on Twitter, if you're looking for me. I'm still getting aspects figured out. Hopefully I can set defaults to regularly post to Facebook--it'll be easier.

Joining came from a combination of frustration and prodding. Frustration because several knitters I know post there (e.g. the Yarn Harlot) and Instagram doesn't believe in RSS feeds and the 3rd party ones kept breaking. Prodding because AudioGirl pointed out that it would be all cats and knitting. She's not wrong, that's the plan. Too many pictures of cats, mostly Gypsy because she is better at posing, and whatever yarn is in my lap.

Where were we? Right, shawl.

I finished my rounds, weighed the shawl, and did the very long row to start the ruffle. Doubling every stitch, a standard in ruffling, takes a particularly long time and due to the method, the next row seemed excruciatingly long.

It's gotten better since then. And I've found that each row takes 10 grams, which is handy in helping me figure out how much more I have left.

The 68 grams picture is from yesterday and I just took the 48 grams. So, 20 grams in 24 hours and I did make a lasagna today, so it wasn't all knitting. My arm is definitely feeling it though and I expect progress in the next couple of days won't be as fast. 

But still, I have 2 rows left and the bind off. That's all. Part of me wants to go curl up and see if I can get through just one more row tonight before collapsing but I know that would mean soreness tomorrow and a knitting injury at this point is not worth it. This isn't a race and I'm not on a deadline other than Stash Dash--which is a full month away still. 

Within the week though I'm hoping to on to other things. Non black things. (Well, maybe non-black, more on that later though) 

Also, I'm out of sock projects that I can take with me on the train and to things. Everything is at a toe right now. That could be a problem. I should fix that before bedtime.