Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Hat

So the nice thing about being holed up inside waiting out a hurricane is that there's plenty of time to knit:
Malabrigo Chunky,  colorway Purple Mystery
That's the Snappy Hat pattern by Corrina Ferguson. It's free and works up quickly. At first I was concerned because I know I like my Chunky hats knit on size 10 needles with a 60 stitch cast on and this pattern called for size 10 3/4 needles and a 70 stitch cast on that increased to 80 for the body of the hat. I was doubtful that it would fit well and thought it would be much too large. However, after waffling back and forth I decided to trust the designer and I'm glad I did. All those cable twists really tighten up the fabric so the hat fits just fine and I really appreciate how smoothly the cables decrease at the crown. (I love a good set of crown decreases and hate it when hat patterns are lazy about it!) Corrina has a bunch of great patterns, including her Gaenor shawl, which is one of the first shawls I ever made.

From 2010! Apparently I like to knit her patterns in purple.
I feel like I'm playing hookey today because I was supposed to start a brand new job as a Marine Biologist for an environmental consulting firm in Rhode Island. Kind of tough to do, though, when there are declared states of emergencies in both RI and CT and all the major highways are being closed down. So my first day will be Wednesday, instead. Wish me luck! And wherever you are, I hope you stay safe and dry!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Folks, I have not one, not two, but THREE FO's to share with you today! Let's get to it!

Malabrigo Chunky, colorway Mariposa
The blog hasn't even see this hat yet because I just started it yesterday! Yes, a hat in 2 days! Love it. The pattern is Giving Comfort, a free pattern of mine that is great for gifts because it is unisex, simple-yet-interesting, and knits up quickly. Malabrigo Chunky is my absolute favorite hat yarn, too, because it's so thick and warm and on size 10 needles knits up at a great density. Its only downfall is that it isn't superwash. I actually prefer non-superwash yarns but when you're knitting gifts for little kids, it's nice to have the superwash factor because they easily forget and toss their beloved hat in the laundry and then the beloved hat is no more. Ask me how my little cousin knows this? (Don't worry, he got a new one.)

Malabrigo Rasta, colorway Indiecita
This super bulky cowl is another great, quick knit. This is a second sample for my upcoming Syrinx design which will be released next week. But I'm having a ribbon dilemma! What do you think, teal or purple?

Cephalopod Yarns Beastie, colorway Snallygaster
My final FO is an aran-weight version of my newest hat pattern, Huacaya. This hat is a great example of gauge differences at work. The original version was knit with worsted-weight alpaca yarn at a gauge of 5 stitches/inch and 6.5 rounds/inch. It made a soft and slouchy fabric and its final dimensions were 18" circumference and 8.5" from cast on edge to crown. The new Beastie yarn I used is a thicker aran-weight blend of wool, alpaca, and silk. It was much plumper and denser than the worsted weight and knit up on the same needles at a gauge of 4 stitches/inch and 5 rounds/inch. The resulting fabric has a more sculpted feel and the size of the hat increased to 20" circumference and 9 3/4" from cast on to crown. This makes it much slouchier, nearly beret-like in style.

I wish I hadn't chopped off my nose in this photo. Woops
 So, if you want a larger or slouchier hat, loosening your gauge (knitting your fabric at less stitches per inch) through either using thicker yarn or increasing your needle size should make that happen. Blocking can make a big difference, too. I blocked the first hat over a large-ish bowl but since there was much more fabric in this second one I blocked it over a large dinner plate, propped up on a cup so that the brim could hang down freely and not get stretched out.

It's a wooly UFO!
The shape of the plate definitely accentuates this version's beret-ness. It's perhaps a bit large for my tiny head, but I like it!

Phew! Three FO's in one post! That's the benefit of having a million little projects on the needles at all times. Every once in a while you get to feel like a knitting master. See more FO's by clicking below!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rhinebeck: The Goods

Now, I know I gave you all the rundown of what I saw at the Rhinebeck festival, but I didn't get a chance to share the goodies I picked up yet, so here they are!

Front to back: Cephalopod Yarns Beastie in Snallygaster, Traveller in Hobart, and Merino/Silk fiber in My Squishy
I loved being able to peruse CY yarns in person. It was even more special because those first two skeins of yarn were gifted to me by Marianne and another sweet and anonymous Raveler because of some difficult times I've been going through lately. Such kind and generous acts remind me that everything is going to be ok because there are all sorts of nice knitters in the world looking out for others. It's truly touching!

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Marine Silk Fingering, colorway Moon Jelly
I've been coveting this colorway and this base for a while to make a Verve shawl. The yarn is a wool/silk/seacell blend that I've used before in worsted weight for a cowl. It was very difficult to talk myself out of acquiring more Socks that Rock yarn (my absolute favorite sock yarn) or some of their new cashmere/silk blend yarn, Worthy, but I did resist.

Sheep Incognito artwork
For the rest of the fair, I tried to only purchase items that I would not have come across otherwise. This calendar of adorable sheepy artwork is a good example of that.

Feederbrook Farm yarn
This yarn was so sheepy and such an interesting blend, I had to try it. It's a worsted weight Shetland wool / alpaca mix. I haven't knit with Shetland yet and the alpaca gives it a lovely density. I'm excited to try it out, perhaps in some colorwork?

Merino/Tussah Silk top from Shadeyside Fibers LLC
I picked up some merino/silk top and some Shetland roving (not pictured) for a great price at one of the booths. It was difficult to choose which fiber to buy since there was so much available but I kept an eye out for blends that were priced reasonably and prepared well, and this stuff is just lovely. Soft, flowy, drafts easily, and the color is wonderful spun up.

That's a little sample of 2-ply heavy laceweight yarn that I spun from the top above. That is the thinnest yarn I've ever spun! How did I do it, you ask? Well, I had a secret weapon...

A brand new, teeny-tiny, 0.5 ounce Golding Tsunami purpleheart spindle! This was a total impulse purchase and I don't regret it one bit. I love the yarn I was able to produce with this due to its lighter weight and I know that I will enjoy spinning with it for a long, long time. Plus, it's so tiny I could easily stick it in my purse and take it with me everywhere! I'm going to become That Lady Who Spins In Public. 'Tis a lofty goal, I think. I was inspired by a few people I saw walking around the festival spinning casually during conversation like it was no big thing. Do you spin in public?

I think Kay summed up one of the major dangers of Rhinebeck in her Do's and Don'ts post on the Mason-Dixon Knitting blog:

"4. A word of caution. Rhinebeck can alter your state of mind to the point that it seems reasonable to take up a brand new, equipment and materials-laden, lifelong pursuit for which you have no prior skills or training. Friends, I speak of lucetting, needlepunch, Shirret, rug hooking, spinning, and--the scariest category of all--animal husbandry. Temptation is everywhere."

She couldn't be more right! Rhinebeck: where fiber fanatics go to shamelessly enable each other. What's not to love?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Work-In-Progress Wednesday #12

What with crazy yarn festivals and some big life changes in the works, I haven't had a chance to knit a whole lot lately. However, I do have a couple of things to show you so I'll give a quick update on those. (My apologies for the poorly-lit photos. Rainy day over here!)

First Garment:
Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky, colorway Stone Blue
My bulky vest  is slowly progressing! It has been seamed together, had a bottom hem added, and has armhole edgings. It is currently waiting to have stitches picked up to knit a big ribbed collar. In the meantime, it's being attacked by Darwin.

Syrnix #2:
Malabrigo Yarn Rasta, colorway Indiecita
The yarn for this cowl was reborn from a previous one that just did not work for me anymore. It was frogged and reknit into another sample of my upcoming design, Syrinx. The design has been tech edited and is currently being test knit. It should be ready for release next week! (Remember you can sign up for my email list if you wish to be notified directly about new designs.) This one will probably be a holiday gift.

Cephalopod Yarns Beastie, colorway Snallygaster
This hat is an aran-weight version of my recently-released design, Huacaya. I am knitting it in a brand new yarn from CY called Beastie which is 60% superwash Merino wool, 30% alpaca, and 10% silk. It is tightly-plied, dense, springy, and essentially unlike any other alpaca-containing yarn I've knit with except that it does have the occasional alpaca guard hair. I'm very happy that they are carrying a thicker, aran weight yarn and I think its springiness would work very well in a sweater or cabled design. However, I do find myself wishing that its alpaca content was a more defining feature. Pre-blocking, it seems to lack that wonderful alpaca drape and silk shine that I was expecting. We'll have to see what it looks like post-blocking...

And that's all I've really worked on lately, all other projects are as they were last time. Click the image below to see the WIPs of others!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rhinebeck Rundown

My first Rhinebeck trip was quite an experience! It was a gorgeous weekend, the weather cooperated wonderfully, I saw more yarn and fiber in one place than I ever have in my whole life, and I got to spend some time with my real-life-knitter-friends-from-college Bridgit and Jeremie. Yay all around! Now, prepare for lots and lots of photos...

Parting words from the Fiasco. It was difficult to follow them, but I did.
We're here! We're here!
Our first stop was The Fold, to get some Blue Moon Fiber Arts goodies before it became too packed.
Next we stopped by the Burgis Brook Alpacas booth to see my new hat pattern in action, yay!
Then it was Cephalopod Yarns time! Meet Sarah, dyer extraordinaire
And say hi to Jeremie and Bridgit, looking cheerful during our very long wait in the CY line!
Also meet Marianne, a wonderful  friend from the SG/CY/VG boards whom I was very glad to finally see in person.
Enough people, now sheep! Hello, Romney.
Blue Faced Leicester, I love your wool!
Why so serious?
A friendly Finnsheep.
I must have Pygora goats someday!
I coveted this Sheep Incognito artwork, it was great.
There were 3 of these giant buildings and about 10 barns CHOCK FULL of yarn and fiber.
A pair of rather unhappy llamas...
And tents with even more goods strewn between buildings.
Pretty weaving.
A very nice pan flute band.
Some of the gorgeous creations entered for judging.
I adored this picture!
Too many cute things...
There were so many things to see, these photos only covered a small portion of it, but I hope I captured the feel of what it was like. In short, it was wonderful, and I hope I get to go back someday.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Huacaya Release!

There were so many wonderful things about my first Rhinebeck experience that I can't wait to tell you all about, but I think the most exciting part for me was seeing this:

Huacaya hat
That's my newest design on display at the Burgis Brook Alpacas booth! At Rhinebeck! (Did I mention that?) Their booth was lovely and inviting and for most of the two days it seemed to be thronged with people, which hopefully means that many festival-goers were able to see my little creation.

Pretty alpaca everywhere!
And now the pattern is available digitally on Ravelry, if you'd like to make one for yourself. It is a feminine, slouchy hat featuring gently-curving lace that works really well with a drapey worsted weight yarn, like an alpaca or silk blend. Knit with alpaca it is soft, fluffy, and beautifully delicate while staying nice and warm due to the properties of the fiber.

Everybody say hi to the back of Rachel's lovely head! :)
The hat is finished with wedge-shaped decreases that converge neatly at the crown. The pattern includes one size (fits an average adult or teen, 18"-22" head) and has both written and charted instructions. It has been test knitted by several knitters on Ravelry and tech edited by Paula over at Knit and Seek!

Just a bit of silliness.
As evidenced above, I am very excited about this design and hope you enjoy it, too. :)


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blogging in a Blur

I'm off at Rhinebeck but am blogging to you from the past so I can write about the Stitches East event before I have all sorts of things to say about Rhinebeck, so here we go!

Stitches East market floor
That is the only picture I took at Stitches, there were just too many things to see! It should at least give you a sense of the sheer size of the market floor-- it's at least twice as big as what is pictured. So many wonderful booths and vendors, so little time money everything.

Before hitting the market floor I took a class with Shannon Okey, which was my first ever knitting-related class. It was neat to sit in a room with like-minded people and think about knitting. We looked at images of runway fashions and sketched what knitted versions of those clothes would look like, our own interpretations. I surprised myself by really getting into it! I didn't know I had such strong feelings about runway outfits or about how to reinvent them. It was a really fun thought exercise and was cool to hear everybody's different interpretations.

Alright, on to the yarny goodness. I made my customary stop at the Webs booth to fondle Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn in person. This is a rare opportunity as their yarns are mostly only sold through their website and dyed to order, so it's rare to see a bunch in one place that you could potentially impulse buy.
BMFA Luscious Single Silk, colorway Nisqually
Like that one! Blue-green merino/silk blend super soft singles yarn? Yeah, I couldn't resist. I also caved and bought one of the Sheep 2 Shoe spinning kits I've wanted for a long time:
BMFA Sheep 2 Shoe, colorway Single Cell Dating Pool
I'm hoping that will make some pretty socks someday!

I made sure to stop by the Malabrigo Yarn booth and finally meet some great Malabrigo Junkies in person! Not only did I get to meet some really nice people, I also got a free skein of a very rare yarn of theirs, Dos:
Malabrigo Dos, colorway Zinc
How generous is that, right?

One of my favorite fiber booths was Long Island Livestock Company. I grew up on Long Island and it is not known for its farms so it was very cool to meet the owner who raises her sheep and llamas, shears them herself, and is making a beautiful business out of it. Her booth won an award for best booth, too, so check out the link above to see pictures on her facebook page. I took home a little bit of Cotswald wool (a rare breed I haven't seen before) mixed with some sparkly firetar:
More breeds for my Spinner's Study, yay!
Finally, Zen Yarn Garden . Ooooooh, Zen Yarn Garden. It's probably apparent by now that I'm a sucker for hand dyed yarns, so when I met the owner at lunch and saw her gorgeous yarns firsthand, I really couldn't resist. I fell pretty hard for these two:
Serenity Silk + on the left, Serenity Worsted on the right
These yarns are really luxurious, the left skein being a heavy laceweight merino/cashmere/silk blend and the right being a worsted merino/cashmere/nylon blend. They are hand-dyed by a husband/wife team and are based in Canada. They are gorgeous and squishy and inspiring and I can't wait to knit with them!

Have you discovered any new fiber artists you are excited about lately? I hope you all have a great weekend!