Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rare Knitting

I find it fascinating that some things in the fiber world get to be extremely valuable.

What is The Holy Grail of Knitting Collectors?
I have always found it difficult to believe that folks would pay ridiculous prices for certain things related to knitting.

I own The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons-Hiatt.

It's a relatively impressive book, but is it really worth $200 or so for a knitting book?

I own an antique sock knitting machine made in 1900, and it still has the ability to create socks including ribbing and heel and toe-turning. It's an amazing little antique. For this item, I can kind of understand folks desiring it and paying high prices.

But then there's all things Alice Starmore. I'm seeing paperback books of hers like Stillwater going for over $100. I actually like Alice's designs and think Stillwater is a good book of hers, but honestly, it's not worth $100. And then of course, there's "The Scottish Collection" which includes the design for "Marina"...which I consider to be mediocre as far as Starmore designs go. Although, in that same thin pamphlet (yes, the thing is just a flimsy pamphlet!) you can also find a chunky entrelac pullover in pastel colors designed by Carol Lapin.

Anyway, I've been thinking that I should try and see what I can get for this little gem.

This is a project bag that was given out to people that came to a traveling tour of Alice Starmore conducted by Tomato Factory and Broad Bay Company (the original promoters of Alice in the states). I can't imagine there are many of them around anymore...although I did see a Broad Bay "On The Road With Alice Starmore" bag during my google searches to research this blog entry.

And then of course, there's the "pink chibi" craze...

Current Knitting Spinning
I have done some knitting on the sleeve for the Expedition Pullover, but I also started a new spinning project.

I have been inspired by a few things. First of all, at Rhinebeck, Knitterguy Ted had a beautiful lace-knit scarf that he made used hand-spindled laceweight yarn and it was just delicate and beautiful.

Second, I had my two new purchases from Rhinebeck to play with...the Bosworth niddy noddy, and the drop spindle from Robin Wheels.

Finally, I was mostly inspired by a gift from knit-friend, Loraine (fiberninja).

Her husband started making drop-spindles, and as they downsized on their recent move to Florida, she gifted me with this lovely spindle. Thanks Loraine!

So, using some naturally dyed Coopworth roving from Black Bunny Fiber (dyed with cochineal), I decided to start spinning up some laceweight yarn of my own.

It will end up being a two-ply yarn when all is said and done, and then I'll try and make something nice looking from the result.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I have always been pretty ambitious, and it surprised me in my early adulthood to learn that not everyone is. I just thought it was one of those things that everyone was naturaly.
n. 1. a. An eager or strong desire to achieve something, such as fame or power.
b. The object or goal desired: Her ambition is the presidency.
2. Desire for exertion or activity; energy: had no ambition to go dancing.

How Will Retirement Look?
As I get closer and closer to a concept I call retirement, I have to admit that I find it inconceivable that I won't be actively pursuing various avocations and vocations to the same level I pursued my career...even if that means taking a paying job. Certainly I will continue to knit, spin, crochet, etc. But I think I will always have a desire to be useful and appreciated, even if the appreciation comes in the form of a paycheck.

I have always affirmed the majority of my worthiness through what I do for a living, and I can't imagine I could easily do without maintaining some level of that affirmation.

Current Knitting
I finished the front/left and the collar on the Expedition Pullover, and I have started down the first sleeve.

It's nice to be working on a pattern that works up so nicely and easily.

I also finally got a picture of the almost completed Mini Mochi scarf.

I have definitely decided that I will rip out the ribbing and add a few more lace repeats and then re-do the ribbing. I can't imagine wasting any of this lovely yarn.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my Robin Spinning Wheel, Seanna Lee writes, "I'm assuming for such a gorgeous looking wheel that Gil has quite a long wait list."

When I ordered mine a few years back, there was a 15 month waiting list and he finished it in 12 months. Now that he has an intern, he said he's been able to keep a steady production of wheels...although I don't know if that means the waiting list is shorter, or back to his normal 15 months. But you're right, his wheels are truly gorgeous and spin like a dream.

Regarding my Robin spindle, Duffysan writes, "What a pretty little handspindle. How many grams is it?"

I don't pathetic is that...and since I just started a new spindling project with it, I can't weigh it. It's pretty light...even lighter than it looks if that helps. At one point when I get it emptied, I'll weigh it an let you know.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Episode 2 - Rhinebeck Gave Me Wood

For the last few years, I have gazed longingly at nice spindles...both the Bosworth and the Goldings, but I never felt compelled enough to spend the money on one.

Love Affair With Robin
I got to chatting with Gil (the guy who makes Robin Spinning Wheels), and in addition to finding out that he's hired an intern to help him turn out his amazing spinning wheels, he's also started making the most beautiful drop-spindles. So I couldn't resist buying one to complement my spinning wheel.

I should also note, that I didn't get away from the Bosworth booth without some wood as well.

Yes, I bought a 1 yard niddy noddy. I've been wanting a smaller niddy noddy for some of the finer yarns I'm spinning, so I figured I couldn't go wrong with one from Bosworth.

I got wood at Mel an David's booth too...

If you ever got to fondle any of David's Red Maple Sportswear things, you'd get wood too...especially if Mel and David were around whilst fondling. I picked up a pair of amazing feeling sports socks for Thaddeus, I picked up a headband for me (because hats make me look stupid) and I picked up one of the most luxurious scarves I've ever fondled done in a simple, but gorgeous garter stitch. Not sure who that's for yet. If you ever get the chance to purchase something from Red Maple, you'll be spoiled for life.

Other Things I Bought
At Yarns International, Ted made me buy a cone of Shetland Gossamer Singles.

It will make an amazing lace garment.

At Skaska, Ted made me buy a Piecework magazine and I needed to buys some Merino/Silk laceweight because the color was amazing.

(see, it IS

At Green Mountain Spinnery I specifically wanted to buy something from them, since they donate to the Men's Knitting Retreat. They made it easy with their Green Mountain Green yarn this is a blend of fine wool and mohair that just glows and feels even better than it looks.

I bought a sweater's worth of yarn, and their latest book, 99 Yarns and Counting: More Designs from the Green Mountain Spinnery. If you order from them directly on-line, make sure they send one of their amazing zippered canvas bags with your yarn!

Overall, I couldn't have been more happy with each and every buyer's remorse here.

Other Little Gifties
In addition to my purchases, I came home to find this little parcel of Canadian chocolates had appeared in my bags.

I still don't know who I have to thank for this stash of sweets, although I'm pretty sure who muled them down from Canada and put them in my bag.

Current Knitting
I just started the final ribbing section of the Mini Mochi scarf...I should have finished pictures in my next blog entry.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Best Rhinebeck Yet

Yes, Rhinebeck 2009 was my favorite so still had too many people there, the lines for food and Briar Rose yarns were ridiculous, but I got to see and meet some amazing people...which is really why I go.

That was the 10 minute line just to get into Rhinebeck on Saturday morning.

The People
I'm going to have to split this into two blog posts...Episode I, "Rhinebeck-The People" and Episode II, "Rhinebeck-The Purchases."

Three distinct groups of people this year:

1. Friends I've known (e.g., Carol S., Marilyn, Mel, Ted, Loraine, etc.)
2. Guys from the Men's Knitting Retreat or from
3. Delightful folks who read the blog and introduced themselves

Unfortunately, I took very few pictures while at Rhinebeck, so you may have to use your imagination.

Existing Friends
I don't get to see Marilyn, Carol and Ted anywhere near enough, so getting to see them at Rhinebeck, even if just briefly is great.

Here's me and Carol happy to see each other (she'll be glad to note I have Photoshopping talents).

And here's Ted and David (Mel's partner).

And Mel and John.

This was the initial group shot I got to see upon arriving Saturday morning.

Of course, there's Marilyn and Jerry to the right and Ted in the center.

Guys from Men's Knitting Retreats and
Also in the picture above, is Scott, John and Dave who I know through the Men's Knitting Retreat and Jack who I met for the first time, although I follow him on

I met a few guys with whom I was incredibly impressed.

This is Aaron and MMario (no I didn't mistype). I have met Aaron before at previous Rhinebecks, and he's a delightful guy. Getting to meet MMario was a real treat. He's designed about 100 different lace shawls (we saw a few of his designs go by while we chatted), but in addition to being incredibly talented (he's a legend on MenWhoKnit), he's the nicest man you'd ever want to meet. I was extremely glad to get to put a personality to his name and photo.

Finally, we had a brief planning session for the 2010 Men's Knitting Retreat, so I got to see the guys I fall in love with every year. The planning session is really just a lame excuse to get together with amazing men. I can't believe I didn't get one picture of Sean and Stephen or Joe E. or Mark or Alasdair or Guido. I also got to run into Thad (the other one who ISN'T my partner). It really renewed my excitement about the next retreat.

Lurkers I Met
This year I had more blog readers than ever come up and introduce themselves, and they couldn't have been nicer. I can't tell you how great it is to get to meet the folks that know me through my ramblings here, and get a sense about who they are.

Yes, all-in-all, it was the best Rhinebeck yet.

Current Knitting
Despite the whirlwind run up to and through Rhinebeck, I was able to make some progress on the Expedition Pullover.

I'm not sure how noticeable it is, but I did end up ripping out the right/front and re-doing that, and now I'm about halfway through the left/front.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Technological Enlightenment

Thanks to another one of my savvy readers, I now have a newly discovered way to transfer photographs from my digital camera.

A Different Kind of Wireless Today
When Marty asked in comments, "Does your computer have a slot to put those memory cards in?", my first thought was "You'd think I'd know if my laptop had such a slot."

Well, it turns out it DOES have an SD slot!

I know...I've had this laptop since June, and I never knew it had both a PCMCIA card slot and an SD memory card slot.

Thanks Marty...I had no idea that this was becoming standard, so I probably never would have checked if you hadn't asked.

And know for certain that I NEVER would have read the manual.

Current Knitting
First off, I'll show you the pictures I meant to post on Monday.

The Expedition Pullover (with errors...still haven't ripped it out).

The Mini Mochi Scarf.

The Possum Merino Socks

I also did a few more repeats on the Mini Mochi scarf, so here's a picture of that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Camera-less This Week

I didn't have time to download my pictures from the camera last night before packing up my computer, figuring I'd just do it in the morning.

Well, More Like Wire-less
And not wire-less in a good way.

I realized I don't have the wire to connect my camera to my PC...ugh. I do have a couple of pictures I can post during the week, but I hate all-text blog posts.

I'm hopeful that one of my co-workers will have the wire I need, since it is the same wire that connects our BlackBerries (is that the plural?) to our PC's.

Current Knitting
Other crappy news...

I finished the front/right side of the Expedition Pullover, and even three-needle bound off the shoulder. But when I went to lay it out to take a picture of it, I realized I screwed up one of the rows of patterning and I somehow screwed up one of the braided cable transfers...arrgh!

This yarn I'm using isn't great with ripping out either...I'm not looking forward to undoing all this work, although I certainly won't mind re-knitting it...this pattern is a pleasure to knit.

I also got a few more repeats done on the Mini Mochi scarf, and finished turning the heel on the Possum/Merino socks and started the endless ribbing.

Recent Purchases
This past weekend I got home to a package from Carol at Black Bunny Fibers, and her packages never disappoint.

This is two colorways of a merino/silk blend that is just luscious to both look at and touch. This installment of her fiber club got a multi-color roving and a semi-solid done in a complementary color. Not sure how I'll use this yet, but I can't wait to try it out.

I also got my second hank of sock yarn from Unique Sheep, and then sent along a mini-skein of a different and lovely colorway.

This is Verve put up in a hank large enough to make a man's large pair of socks. I am very lucky to have gotten to know fiber shops like Unique Sheep...their work is beautiful.

Readers' Comments/Questions
About Rhinebeck, KnittyWren writes, "I've never heard of this festival is it a local thing? I'm from Florida."

Yes, it's the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival that happens each year around this time. It's a pretty big event.

Regina (of Nature Buttons) writes, "I'm hoping to go to Rhinebeck just for Saturday - I've never been there and would love to meet up with you and the other fiberholics just to say hi. I'm hoping to meet up also with my NY friends who hung with me in the shop this summer. Is there a place and time you meet up?"

Actually, there is no specific meet-up for the fiber friends...we typically just look for/call each other when we get there and informally cruise around shopping. It's difficult to keep a large posse of fiber-friends together at such a big event, so we break off into separate group and usually cross paths at lunch.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Rhinebeck's Coming

The annual fiber orgy is almost here, and I can't not be there.

Meeting Up With Friends
In addition to catching up with friends from the knitting/blogging part of my life, like Carol, Marilyn, Mel, Selma and Kathy I also get to meet up with some of the guys from the Men's Knitting retreats (and then of course there's Ted who falls into both categories!). And I also get to meet more recent knit friends I've met through this blog.

As with prior years, I'll be going up on Saturday for just the one day. I love getting to hang out with my favorite folks in the world and we also schedule a planning session for the upcoming retreat.

It promises to be a fun time.

Current Knitting
I'm still working on the same three projects...I haven't finished any of them.

I promised a progress picture of the Mini Mochi scarf.

It's 2/3rds of the way finished in this picture, so I still have a little work to do on it. I'm also turning the heel on the second possum/merino sock, so I'll soon be up to the endless ribbing section.

Finally, I'm almost finished with the upper back section of the Expedition Pullover.

I have about and inch or two more to do on the back, and then on to the front section.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Dropped a Tailpipe

Both literally and figuratively.

Cars and Colds
This past weekend wasn't a great one for me or Thaddeus.

First of all, I got home quite late on Friday night...well, actually at 1:30 am on Saturday morning from my one-day trip to Chicago. Knowing that I had to be at work first thing on Monday morning, it meant my weekend was shortened considerably.

Getting in so late, we got a bit of a late start to the flea market on Saturday morning, and about a mile from the market, the tail pipe on Thaddeus' car dropped, causing quite a loud noise...both from the lack of muffling by the muffler and because metal was now dragging on the road.

In typical MacGyver fashion, Thaddeus rummaged through his trunk and with just a hammer, a screwdriver, an empty can of ginger ale, a hose clamp and a Swiss army knife, he quite satisfactorily patched the least enough so that we were able to get the car to our local mechanic for repairs today.

Then Thaddeus came down with a cold.

It was a short weekend, and I'm back at work with a shitload of stuff to on to knitting.

Current Knitting Crocheting
Knitting Retreat pal, Andy (Crafy Andy) had asked me to test-crochet a pattern he was working up, so in addition to working on the Expedition Pullover, the second Mini Mochi scarf and the merino/possum socks, I was also testing out Andy's new pattern...and it was challenging and fun.

First of all, here's where the pattern is available...assuming you have access to Ravelry.

Second, the hat is very interesting, in that is uses a lot of techniques in crochet that I've never played with before...both with stitches and colors. In Andy's inimitable style, he even links his pattern to videos of him demonstrating how to do a couple of the new (to me) stitches in the pattern.

Those of you who know me, know that I have one make any hat look dorky...but nonetheless, I model my version of the Cappello di Lana hat by Crafty Andy.

TIFTSE (Ted's International Fiber To Scarf Exchange)
For the keen-eyed observer, you'll note in the pictures above that I'm not only wearing Andy's hat, but I'm also wearing a neck warmer.

About a year ago, I sent some roving to Ted with the promise that I would get a scarf in return (and I had to promise to spin someone else's fiber and knit them a scarf).

This past weekend, I got my reward. Ted sent my roving to Dan (BrewerGnome of Gnomespun Yarns).

I knew that Dan could dye rovings, because I've seen his work and it's beautiful. What I wasn't aware of was how beautiful he spins and also how well he uses the resulting yarn. Here's a picture of my neck warmer.

And also a bit more close up of the leftover yarn.

I even ended up using a bit of Dan's homespun in Andy's hat, and I am very impressed with the yarn.

Thanks Dan...don't sell everything you have at Rhinebeck before I get there!

Readers' Comments/Questions
April/KnittyWren writes, "I noticed at one time you mention a cum rag pattern? Does that really exist and where could I find it?"

Actually, it wasn't so much a pattern. During Blogger's transition to it's latest owners, I lost a bunch of my photos, and I couldn't find the original source. But basically the concept was to knit any dishcloth or washcloth pattern, and then with a hot glue gun, write the words, "Cum Rag" on the cloth in glue. The knitted cloth I showed in the original picture was white with a milky off-white glue was kinda gross looking, but kinda funny at the same time.

If you'd prefer more of a pattern idea, you could try to figure out how this blogger did it.