Sunday, April 2, 2017

YarnCon 2017: Ooooh, Shiny


The Philosopher and I went to YarnCon yesterday! It's always a lovely way to feel like spring is here, having a large local yarn festival. And it doesn't hurt that my friend Shannon drives in from Ohio and so I get a hug and a chance to share at least one ridiculous story.

Observations of the day: the general pallet is still multi-colored, but it's more muted than in the past couple of years. There were a couple of dyers with shaded solids but I've still not seen anyone competing with Two Guys Yarn Co for pastels. What did surprise me was that the only "tool" type booths I saw were for project bags. I saw only one booth that seemed to have spindles and no one had wheels this year that I spotted.

There were some favorite vendors I've seen before and a few new ones that were delightful and so obviously I had to make a few acquisitions.


The Philosopher has asked for a new customized mitt for working on digital boards. I wanted something that isn't going to show dirt all the time but was lovely. Yes, I know that first picture is horribly blown out, I was trying to show all of the colors. This black+ yarn from Honey Girl Farms is delightfully complex without being annoying. From 10 feet, it'll look mostly black but from up close there's quite a richness. 


Black Cat Fiber is going in the books as a new favorite. They had tremendous colors. I limited myself to just this one and doesn't the silk just shine! This should be a lovely small shawlette. I know it will mute a bit as knit up but it'll be a lovely gift to someone when done.  And they were just lovely in the booth to chat with. As my first purchase of the day, they also recommended a few other favorites to swing by. 


The Philosopher and I were both immediately drawn to the bag of these braids in CJ Kopec's booth. It's a brand new colorway for her, designed by her son. It's called Cadet and it's 100% merino. I hadn't been sure if I would buy fiber this year; I still haven't spindled up the entire 4 ounces that I bought at YarnCon last year from YarnGeek.  This was so appealing, however, that I couldn't pass it up. Several people asked me about it as we wandered about, so I assume a few more braids went home with new friends too! 


I was specifically recommended by two people to drop into the Northern Bee Studio booth and I was very pleased that I did. I'm sure they won the award for farthest traveled--they came from Alaska! They shared that to fly all of the yarn here, they put it in vacuum sealed bags and prayed very hard that TSA wouldn't open the bags and inadvertently fluff all the yarn again! Everything made it and it looked like they'd be taking far less home. I was happy to help contribute to lighter luggage with this Deep Forest skein. You can't see the label but it's 10% yak. So very deliciously soft. Also, they had a cobalt blue skein that was *ridiculously*  bright. Unfortunately, it was only available as a miniskein but I was assured that it would be on the website soon.


And finally, up on the balcony this year (that was new, not sure if I liked it), was Sophie's Toes. That should be a familiar name by this point, I buy things from her pretty much every YarnCon and AudioGirl's Christmas gift was knit from one of her 6 packs. We discussed a few of her colorways and I ended up with this lovely one-of-a-kind skein, something she'd overdyed. It'll likely just become a pair of socks, but what a fun knit that will be to discover the colors that come next.  Her booth looked like it'd been hit pretty hard but there was still some lovely stuff for the Sunday crowd. 

I haven't bought a lot of yarn this year besides what I've needed for Loopy Academy (that's been enough) and that's probably good as I've also not used a whole lot of yarn. But these struck me as special enough to jam into the space around Chez Hedgehog. Now to just keep them from marinating too long... 







Monday, March 27, 2017

Shawl Ahead...

I've spent the last week in Maryland, horribly confused as to the date and the time. Jumping forward and then going ahead another hour in the time zones all in one week is not something I can regularly recommend. However, in the days before packing up, I got started on one of my Spring Loopy Academy projects: beading.



I had ordered two skeins of Wollmeise DK (936 yards) in the Feldmaus colorway. It's brown, mostly, also looks kind of purple in some lights, so I also got dark purple beads. The cast on alone took a fair amount of time. I'm knitting Isen, which is lovely and which is not small. Obviously I am still struggling to take that "only needs to be 250 yards per project" to heart. At least this is the largest of the three projects? 

The first chart (800+ stitches) had over 50 repeats. I decided it was best if I separated each repeat with stitch markers. This served me well but it was a challenge to find that many stitch markers. Once I finished the chart, the stitch markers came out. Here's what that pile looked like.  Unsurprisingly, they do not match. But you can spot the adorable hedgehogs, right? 



Sibling-the-Younger lives in rural Maryland and the shawl got to spend some quality time in his backyard, hanging out by the fire pit. (Not--of course--during marshmallow roasting time. Yarn and beads plus fire and sticky sugar is a combination that I can only imagine would end poorly.) 


And then I knit through a professional conference. Sitting on the sidelines, beading hook in hand. I think I only left a few beads behind.  


By the time I got to this last picture, taken in the cab on my way to the airport, I was through the first major beading section and onto the third section, which involves short rows. This almost mindlessly took me home, with a detour on the flight to rewind the second skein of wool after it had turned into a giant collapsing disaster.  

Today I finished the short rows and I've one more chart to go. It's only 8 rows and the stitch count is far more reasonable, but it's beaded and while I'll brave beads on the floor in a dark keynote, the CTA is an entirely different question. 

I packed 4 projects with me but only worked on two. I need to get sorted when exactly I'm going to work on the gloves. I think the cowl might be mindless enough for train knitting this week and the socks that have been hanging out on my desk at work might finally see some love as well.  

Or I might just start another pair of socks. We'll see what the week brings. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

There had better be time on the plane...

We're 11 days into March and the only real progress I've made on my Loopy Academy projects is that I wound all of the wool for the Spring Junior Year stuff. And considering the price tag on those (I went with Wollmeise DK for one project...) I need to get things underway and make good use of that wool and money.

Unfortunately, I've been snowed under entirely with work stuff: I'm mid-manuscript with one colleague, facing down another manuscript that needs to be entirely written here shortly with another, working on a conference presentation with two more, and the usual grading, teaching, give presentations, and other day job stuff.

I love working with a variety of friends and colleagues on projects though, it's wonderfully inspiring to work with such smart women and figure out who it is that knows the information I'm seeking. Add us together and we can speak or write about nearly everything.

But it doesn't get the knitting done.

 Gypsy being snuggly to break
up the wall of text
As I'm headed east to Maryland to visit Sibling-the-Younger and attend a conference, I'm planning my travel snacks. I've narrowed down what I use in my regular mix: Cheerios, Parmesan goldfish, Peanut M&Ms, and Reese's pieces.  Chocolate,  peanut butter, salt, and carbs. Yum.  That's coming on Wednesday in my grocery order.

The concession we made to my tenure obligations a few years ago was grocery delivery. Peapod is local to us [referral link for $20 off if you're interested]. Their selection is good, the prices--especially if I catch things on sale--are comparable and it has been well worth the delivery fees for a polite man to show up at my door at the specified time with food.

I find it also means a lot less impulse purchasing of junk food or even just random food that tends to hop into ones cart. I'm not meandering past aisles of chips and chocolate and that means I have to consciously think to go look up chocolate pudding and add it to the order. Don't worry, Kraft Mac and Cheese is still a staple in my book. When I'm planning for a few recipes, it also means I just work down the list rather than hop around a building which totally equates to far less frustration on the "well, where do *you* think they put the toothpicks" front.

The balance with that though is that I don't always think about fresh produce. I don't see that today this fruit look delicious or they are just unpacking some fresh interesting greens. We're still six weeks away from the first outdoors farmers market so I'm not supplementing that way as yet. I need to make a conscious effort to look at what fruits and vegetables are best/most available right now and put them in my cart.

Today is a writing day though and hopefully by the time I get on a plane next Friday, my biggest concerns will be just how much knitting I can charge through in 9 days. Back to the Word Document.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Calling It...

I've decided I'm going to try and get both semesters of Loopy Academy done this spring.

Today is March 1 and I'm at 85% on the owls, 80% on the shawl, and 0% on the gloves.



Remember where I was all 100% on all three projects by March 1? Or at least something greater than 0%? 

I've started on the border for the shawl finally. I have 16 repeats of 48 rows. And it's kind of fiddly but not too much. There's pretty obvious structure to how it builds up and when you increase, although I'm going to be relying on a post it note and hash marks to keep me on track. 

The owls need wings. And I probably will need to knit one more owl. The wings are fiddly and my fiddly time has been overrun with deadlines for teaching, presenting, and research.  

And the gloves are still a ball of wool. That said, I'm attending a conference tomorrow and other than one 7 minute presentation, I mostly just get to listen. Listening is compatible with 2x2 ribbing. So I have hope for some progress tomorrow. 

Philosopher and I also took a whole vacation day (I know, right?) -- which generally means we only both worked 4-6 hours on various things and took some time in the afternoon to go to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the Orchid Show. 




It was lovely and bright. Orchids are so showy. We were joking about ones that looked overdone and ones that looked like they were being a little too forward with their personal parts. It's small wonder these were considered very sexual in the Victorian era... We also found at least one plant that looked like it was shouting at us. My shots came out fuzzy though...

I've just placed my order for Spring Semester. I have patterns picked out and now I just need to acquire a beading crochet hook. I have three months and three different plane trips between now and deadline...hopefully I can put all that time to good use!


Sunday, February 19, 2017

I Came, I Saw, I Swift.... Swift-ed... Swift'd

I wound yarn.

That just sounds far less fun that "swift'd"  But it does mean that the rest of the yarn for my make up from Junior Fall Semester for Loopy Academy has been would and is available without delay --a  good things as I've started using all but two skeins of it.

The shawl continues apace, I'm on section 3 and I don't have any photos for you. I'm on the "outer cog" section, which is thankfully going to require far less attention than section 2 did. 18 rounds but relatively straight forward. If I can get some concentration going on the train this week that should be doable. The edging repeats are definitely going to take some time.


The owls are also moving right along. And yes, I changed my mind about the inside out thing. Unlike the elephant of last fall, I don't have to stuff this toy until the very end, which means my style of knitting doesn't affect the final product. Owl 1 is still missing wings and eyes and I need to sew down the beak rather than use a DPN and attempt to stab myself while taking a quick photo.


Owl 2 is just over halfway done. There are 110 rows in the project and I'm on 63. This is mindless enough for tv watching but not quite for reading through news feeds or blogs. I have a post it note going marking my rows, it's just easier that way for me. Of course, all of this taupe means I really want something else bright and cheerful to knit. Must get those gloves started. 


And here is my "help."  This is immediately post-yawn.  She takes up a large portion of the desk and while I adore her as a small feline, she's been in the way a lot.

But it looks like I might be able in the next 9 days to nearly meet my incredibly optimistic goal of re-doing Fall semester in the month of February, which means I need to make sure I'm still happy with my yarn and project choices for Spring Semester if I'm going to hit buy sometime early next week.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Inside Owlettes


Tonight I started the second of my three Loopy Academy Fall Make-Up projects. It's February 9, so I'm not doing too badly. I've been focused on the shawl/bobble project --Industrial Revolution. I've even had a couple of knitting meetings this week, although I had to take time to handwind a skein.  I know, I just need to set up the swift and get all of the yarn done for this semester. Maybe Saturday... 

Anyway, I'm participating on Instagram in the #yarnlovechallenge that Mary Heather from Ravelry is hosting. Each day we get a prompt and post a representative picture. It's been fun and there are so many interesting pictures going by.  Normally I tend to push my pictures out to FB or Twitter but because this is everyday and themed, I haven't been. If you're interested in seeing what I posted, my profile is https://www.instagram.com/hedgielib/ 

My picture from yesterday was taken on the train on the way home, rather late. Work days have been running long and nights very short. "I'm going to oversleep" insomnia is so much fun. 

Anyway, toy shot... 


I'm about  a third of the way through the body on my first of n owls. I'd originally guessed I'd need to make around 3, I'm going to revise that up right now and say closer to 5. These are going to be dainty little owls, which is fine my me. 

Also, anyone who has seen me knit in the round knows that I knit inside out. Rather than working on the stitches closest to me, I'm working on those farthest away. I'm not sure where I learned this technique. As I demonstrated with the elephant, I'm capable of doing it "correctly" but I realized I don't need to for the owls. Purl side out should be fine.  

So instead, I'll have Inside Owlettes. The Philsopher has already heaved a deep sigh at that joke and wandered away. Apparently he doesn't want an owlette of his own.  


Did you know a group of owls is called a wisdom? Things I've learned from mystery author Donna Andrews. 

Project 2 underway, maybe this weekend I'll start the gloves too.... or at least get out the swift. 




Friday, February 3, 2017

Loopy Academy Semester 5: Take 2

I haven't had the stomach to come and blog about the fall semester. I was so delighted with myself, finishing with a full seven hours to spare. I posted pictures, I was all done....

And neither me, nor anyone on the uber-thread on Ravelry noticed I'd missed a very specific instruction: my toy had to have 2 colors of yarn.

My elephant? One color. Which means I did not complete the prompt and therefore did not complete the semester. And it wasn't until a full week later--when my photo hadn't been approved, that someone sorted it out for me. So I spent the rest of January figuring out what I'd do since I needed to redo those three projects. (There was also some pretty solid gnashing of teeth and chiding myself for not double checking the instructions.)

So here we are February 3 and my Box of Fun, as The Loopy Ewe calls them, arrived this afternoon. As soon as Sheri announced Spring Semester being open, I pressed Purchase on my cart, which has been hanging out waiting for me.  I have plans and they are not to be thwarted.


First up is that Bobble project. You will recall I was annoyed with myself last semester upon realizing I'd not bought the right wool for the project (apparently an inability to read instructions was my entire state of being last fall). This time I have it correct and I have four skeins of the Malachite colorway of Loopy Solids. For those of you who also like mixing solid colors--they are still clearing out stock from the old run of this and it's $9 a skein for 220 yards. It's a very decent price and it's a nice little workhorse yarn. It's a light fingering--similar to KPPPM or Louet and if I were knitting socks, I'd use size 0 (2.0mm) needles. This is going to become an Industrial Revolution Shawl


For the toy, I have 2 colors--see there--2! Sand and Mocha and more of the Loopy Solids. These are going to become Dreamy Owls. They'll probably be smaller than the pattern says (8") because I intend to use size 0 needles (2.0mm) and make as many as needed to get to 250 yards.  I'm guessing 3. Not sure how thin the fabric would be with size 3 (3.25 mm) needles...


Finally, I have to suffer through gloves again. Yes, the fall pair was much easier, no, I'm not thrilled about making these. But I can at least use yarn I love and that's where BMFA STR Lightweight comes in, in the Valkyrie colorway.  I'm also leaving off the cables and just getting some gloves done. My friend G made a pair from the Sock-it-to-Me pattern last fall and they looked cool, so here we go. 

What about Spring Semester--which includes colorwork, buttons, and beads? It's on hold until March 1. I want to see how much progress I can make in February first. If I'm moving along well and have at least 2 of these projects done, then sure, I'll order yarn. If not--then we shall see.  I'm also looking for *small* projects.  I really must stop with this whole "let's knit an 800 yard shawl in fingering weight for one of these projects" kick that I'm on. 

Wish me luck... 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Attending the Chicago March and Taking More Steps Forward

**I am sure there are financial needs from the marches yesterday that the organizers could not have anticipated. I encourage you to donate a few dollars to help them close out their balance sheets. **

Yesterday I participated in the Women's March in Chicago. I, with approximately 250K other people, descended on Grant Park. The Philosopher and I packed onto already full train cars and wended our way downtown, pausing to meet up with others who wanted to travel with us.



For me, as for many in our group, it was our first march. And there were many reasons we and so many others marched yesterday: women, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual identity, immigration, economic, privacy, and others.

We never got anywhere near the stage where presentations and announcements were being made. Word started trickling around that we had far outpaced the amount of people who would fit in the planned march route but then we were hearing cheers and at some point we began to move. We marched through the Loop of Chicago and there were chants and cheers. We waved to every train going by overhead and to people in the windows of the downtown youth hostel who were watching.

Throughout most of it I was trying to finish a second hat. Knitting time having been thin on the ground, I wanted to bring it along and then AudioGirl said she hadn't had time to make a hat for herself. So in the midst of marching, I managed to do a three needle bind off with a 16" circular needle and the crochet hook from my KnitKit.  About 3 seconds after done and with ends still dangling, AudioGirl stuffed her new pink ears on her head.

Yesterday was important. On FB, Twitter, and the news sites, we saw that we were not alone.  There were marchers in Antarctica! And the many smaller marches that are not getting the national eye--  gathering in towns across this large nation. There were amazing signs and a lot of very positive energy. Particularly I loved hearing the chants because the pitch was high, clearly indicating the number of female voices.

Over the course of yesterday, I had a conversation with several people about what happens today and tomorrow and the next day. While everyone agreed that a march alone was not sufficient, many are still trying to identify what particular piece is next.

I could choose any of those reasons listed above in the broad sense and focusing on any certainly doesn't preclude my caring or engagement on other fronts. In my professional roles I have a specific obligation to information literacy (how do we sort out what is fake news and the bias a person may bring to the table) and to freedom of information/access to information and to privacy in which to access information. It was lost on neither myself nor my students that I spent the afternoon of the inauguration day having a robust discussion about evaluating the authority of information resources with a group of students who have immigrated to the United States to practice their chosen profession.

Personally, I am interested in engaging on voters rights. I am looking into organizations like League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote to see what I can do there. I'm following legislation, and getting more information about court cases, the threats, and the needs.

If you're interested in finding an organization who could use your time or your money, the march websites had list of supporters. Here are Chicago's: http://womens121marchonchicago.org/our_supporters/

We made hats. That was obvious and it was great. But we have a lot more to do. Onwards.