Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Back From My Break

I went to Colorado for Christmas this year to spend it with my mother and brother. It was good to see them in person instead of online and over the phone (landline - we're old school plus I do so like a good connection!). We had a lot of fun together, and ate everything that could not escape fast enough. On thing - my brother and I went to see Star Wars, which was (my own opinion) just adequate. Clearly it was a set up for future Disney sequels and lacked development and story. A sales vehicle for toys and other associated merchandise. Fun to watch, but ultimately unsatisfying.

I was fortunate enough to have a direct flight both ways and to have missed out on the horrid delays caused by all the bad weather all over the country. With family in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas and Georgia I had plenty to worry about. So far Cape Cod has not seen much in the way of weather. the little bits of snow and freezing rain we have had has been no inconvenience. Our only complaint is that it's been rainy and drizzly much of the time, but since we have been running a rain deficit all year I am happy to see it. There's not much a gardener can do for large trees if the rain does not come.

My Christmas gifts were uniformly delightful. They were thoughtful or amusing and not so extravagant that I felt embarrassed by luxury. I did get a super nice new tablet and case, but as my old one is about 5 years old and just about used to death we would have gone out to buy one soon anyway. Mom gave me cash, which I promptly dragged her into to Denver to spend.

The one thing I wanted to do in the Denver area besides visit with family was to drop in at Fancy Tiger Crafts. I was introduced to their story via the Woolful podcast, and started following them on Instagram. Their house brand yarn, Heirloom, is all romney wool, grown milled and dyed in the United States. I had a chance to try it because In the Loop in Plainville Massachusetts stocks it. It's rustic and sheepy, and knits up beautifully. I was eager enough to see the store in person to annoy my mother with a daily announcement of my plans to go there with her. She was a good enough sport to go in spite of it being in a part of Denver she had never visited before. It's what you might call an up and coming neighborhood: formerly pretty industrial and leaning towards hipster style.

The store itself is pretty and full of color and light. One side is yard goods and patterns including a wonderful color range of beautiful wool felt, the other yarn, with am emphasis on beautiful colors. In the back it's fiber for spinning or needle felting (for which they have the most adorable kits). A big bookshelf with a nice variety of offerings sits next to the cash wrap/fabric measuring area. I didn't buy anything fancy. What I needed was bout 1200 yards of chunky wool, and since Cascade was on sale at 30% off (!) I found what I needed in Cascade Eco in a beautiful auburn heather that should combine well with other knit accessories already in my wardrobe. I got a little packet of brights for my needle felting; what I have at home is all natural colors and I needed a little something for detail. I picked up a book about knitting and a lovely set of hooks in various sizes for fixing my knitting mistakes. I am really happy with my purchases. The staff there is young, peppy and very helpful. If you get a chance drop in.

I am settling in for my selfish knitting part of the year now. I still have the button wrap on the needles not quite half finished. It will be done soon - bulky yarn and mostly stockinette. Probably I will have yarn left over for mittens and maybe even a cozy hat. Next up Shana's vest, then the poncho which will be my Rhinebeck Sweater, a sport weight Hunter Hammerstein, and a big lace weight shawl for me, interspersed with sock knitting. I'm hoping to have enough yarn for some kind of a cowl to go with the poncho. I have about 300 extra yards, so there is a chance. I am not planning a sweater this year. The lace weight shawl will be my "hard" project.

I'll have to check out last year's goals and compare them to what I have actually been able to do. I think I will have fallen short on a few things. As always!

Friday, December 18, 2015

At Last.

Holy Cow, it's been a long time since I posted. I kept seeing the title of my last post show up in comments and thought there was surely something wrong because I never go that long without posting. Shows what I know.

I've been knitting heavily since my last post, and nearly all I made were Christmas gifts. I think I made nineteen this year, including one crochet project and one needle felted item. nearly all were small in terms of yardage used, but many were fiddly knits that took time. I did finish on time, with plenty of time for shipping, but next year I should really rethink the gross number of knitted gifts! This is pretty much as many as I can manage, and I had to take off a couple of days near the end because of sore hands. I don't like to start earlier than July for gifts, but maybe... For wrapping I had a fair amount of ribbon but no fancy prefab bows, so I used my extra time making pom poms and origami package decorations, plus embellishments cut out from Christmas cards I received last year. Because there is no such thing as too much to do. Because I have lost my mind.

I thought my first project after the holiday portion of the knitting was done might be a vest I promised Shana, but because I am going out of town next week I have decided to start that after I get home from Denver. I want to be sure of a good fit, and that will be more likely if I have the recipient close by. I have had a few more custom requests from a certain family member, but they are pretty small items (boot toppers, neck warmers) which I can squeeze in before or during the vest.  I probably have yarn for boot toppers in my stash right now, and maybe even something suitable for a neck warmer. Right now I am concentrating on a few little items for myself, especially things I want for the coming winter. I have done a super bulky hat and cowl for myself with yarn I bought at Rhinebeck - each took one evening including winding the yarn into balls. Just a palate cleanser to prepare for my winter selfish knitting. Next up are four projects, three of which are already on the needles: A sport weight rectangular shawl from Hunter Hammerstein's new book (not cast on yet, but may be tonight), a plain sock with yarn Sami gave me for my birthday two years ago, a square lace shawl, and a button wrap of a rather improvised design using yarn of uncertain provenance. That yarn is from sheep owned by an erstwhile neighbor of a lady in my Monday knitting group. She likes a soft and elegant yarn; this yarn is quite rustic. It's a lot like Fancy Tiger's Heritage, but a little tighter spun and bulky weight, with a little variation in the dye. Very sheepy, scratchy in the ball but not bad after washing. I did a proper swatch including washing for this one, and weighed it out to see what kind of yardage I have. It will make a cozy and rustic shawl.

Of projects for which I have purchased yarn - three, plus a pattern for which I need 1300 yards of bulky yarn in a single color, and which is destined to be my Rhinebeck "sweater" . It's really a poncho. The new year has not started yet and I may have already bit off more than I can chew.

Anyway, some Holiday Cheer: