Monday, May 31, 2010

Wrong # of Stitches

I'm completely frustrated with my current knitting.

I should be finished increasing on the stockinette portion of the Traveling Woman shawl I'm working on, but my stitch count is off. Looking at it I can't figure out where I went wrong, although I suspect I forgot a few yarn overs or added a yarn over on the purl side where I shouldn't. I guess the only thing to do is rip it, but I'm really annoyed because I was so happy at the progress I was making and now I have to frog a week's worth of knitting. I hope this doesn't change my perception of the yarn. Frogging will do that sometimes, but this is really nice yarn to work with so I think it will be all right. The yarn is Creatively Dyed Seawool I bought last year at Great Lakes.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Annual Great Lakes Fiber Show Wrap Up: Part 2

So what did I get this year?

First off, I have several skeins of pretty sock yarn waiting to be knit, and if I run out before next year (unlikely) I certainly know where I can attain some more.

Second, I decided that no matter how pretty and soft, I just wasn't willing to pay more than $20 for a skein of anything this year. The best I will be able to do is small shawls, so no major lace yardage for me. Also, no sweater quantities, I've already discussed that in my previous post.

This year I went for the pretty but scratchier stuff. The ones that are hand-dyed and/or hand-spun. The ones that you can still smell the lanolin in. I might have bought some alpaca too.

I wish I could tell you who I bought this yarn from, but the booth had no name and there are no tags. These 100 yard skeins were only $1.25 each. I really couldn't pass up getting a couple. They are kind of scratchy but I think I can find some good use for them.
This is pretty. The picture doesn't really due the subtle dye job justice, but I didn't get outside with my yarn and camera this weekend.
This is some really pretty blue-faced leicester. I'm thinking I may try to knit a soaker again, but I'm not going to feel bad if this doesn't end up as a diaper cover.
I don't know the name of this shop either (due more to lack of attention I think). I was interested in this first yarn because it was dyed with natural dye, in this case cochineal. See what pretty yarn mashed up bugs can make?
This is from the same booth. I don't think it is naturally dyed, but it is pretty and spun a little differently than any of the other yarn I bought.
Now this is some nice soft alpaca and I really liked the color.
More alpaca, this from Wooly Knob. I'm currently using a skein of their wool and really liking it so I wanted to support them again. This is fairly soft too.
These two skeins are bulky weight (fun! I like big needle knits now and then) and it is pretty local yarn. It is handspun hand-dyed wool from a farm a county east of where I live.
I think I did a better job of varying my color palette this year.

I know that I won't get all this knit up before the show next year, and a few skeins may stay in my stash awhile, but sometimes a quick knit out of yarn like this is just what I need. It is my comfort knitting and good for the soul.

Annual Great Lakes Fiber Show Wrap Up: Part 1

We have had a busy weekend here! Today we had E baptized and then had a big family picnic afterward at a nearby park. It was nearly 90 degrees and the change in routine, excitement, and heat really exhausted us. I'm not sure how much I'll get to, I got E to bed and have some time for myself right now so I wanted to write as much as I could.

Somewhere in the last few weeks I've been thinking about my knitting, or lack of knitting lately, and what I realistically can knit and what I want to knit.

I am really not a garment knitter. Sure, I've cranked out a few sweaters, I know I can do it, but I'm not sure I have a lot of interest in doing much of that right now. I don't really have the time or money to commit to sweaters and I don't get enough happiness out of the FO most of the time to want to put my resources to that.

As for baby things: Well, the bibs are definitely turning out to be worth it. Those are more mindless than dishcloths though so while they make good movie knitting (watching a movie? what is that? I haven't done that for ages) that isn't exactly a thing I really enjoy knitting all that much. The last baby sweater I finished for E was too small for him by the time I was done with it. The baby sweaters I knit before he was born fit OK, but not that great. It isn't that I won't knit anymore sweaters for him, but I'm not going to feel like a bad knitting mommy if I don't. Hats are worth it. I'll definitely need to make more for this fall and winter.

Then there are socks. I like wearing handknit socks. I have a few people in my life who really like receiving handknit socks. I don't like getting complicated with them though. I love all the beautiful sock patterns out there but while I may experiment with different construction methods, most of the time lace and cables and other stitch patterns are just too fiddly for me to bother with. When I knit socks the WIP ends up in my purse to be mindless road travel knitting or something I can pick up and knit a few rows here or there while waiting. I absolutely hate having to refer back to a pattern for socks. Every time I've tried to knit a sock from a pattern I had to follow it has ended up frogged. Anyway, all this to say that if I'm going to knit socks I want pretty yarn because I'm going to let the yarn do the work, not the stitch pattern.

So what do I really want to knit? I think it is mostly hats and mittens. I have a love affair with mittens and the mitten books to prove it. I've knit quite a few pairs, mostly plain, but I love a good stranded pattern, I just don't always have what it takes to fully commit to knitting a pair. Hats are definitely a fashion accessory for me in the winter and I love how varied the look can be depending on cables or lace or ribbing and the weight of yarn, the colors used, etc. Sure, you can do that with anything you knit, but I think hats are one of those things that you can really play with.

Recently I've discovered I really like knitting these smaller outerwear items out of more rustic wool. The Knitter's Book of Wool just fueled this desire. Where better to get handspun local yarns than a fiber show?

This was my fourth year at the Great Lakes Fiber Show.

My first year, 2006, I was just amazed that my hometown had one of these fiber shows (which I had only recently learned about since I started knitting seriously in the fall of 2005) and I was in the height of my I-like-it-so-I'm-going-to-buy-it yarn buying. I bought 2 huge skeins (500+ yards) of merino superwash wool from Maple Creek Farm and later made the Hourglass Sweater from it. (One of the sweaters I was actually happy with the outcome.) I bought some Noro that became a felted bag. I bought 5 skeins of this bargain black Egyptian cotton yarn. I think I though I would make a tank from it? I'm not sure, I found it really hard to use and almost linen like and it is still languishing in my stash. I'm not sure what else I bought that year, I think that was it judging by a quick look at my pictures from May 2006 on my computer.

In 2007 I returned, at that point I had a better idea of what I wanted. I was going for really nice yarn. Soft yarn with nice dye jobs and some organic cotton yarn I saw the previous year and regretted not buying. I bought 3 skeins of sock yarn that has became 4 pairs of socks, a large skein of bamboo/silk yarn from Briar Rose that became the Tuscany shaw, and the desired organic cotton yarn that eventually became a baby sweater that I'm hoping will fit E this fall.

In 2008 I missed the show because my husband's law school graduation from Northern Illinois was that weekend. I gave him a hard time of that, but of course that was more important. I guess.

Last year I went but I wasn't very focused. My first trimester had really knocked the knitting desire out of me. Then I was thinking "baby" with all my purchases, which is why everything is a shade of green or blue, except that one skein of undyed yarn. At that point I was pretty sure I was having a boy. If you scroll down only a couple blog posts you will see what I bought last year. Some of it has been knit, most of it has not. Actually one of those skeins has become a FO. The sportweight Knitting Notions yarn became the too-small baby sweater for Elijah. The green Wooly Knob yarn is about 3/4 the way to being a pair of fingerless mitts. The blue silky Creatively Dyed yarn has just begun its journey to become a small shawl. So I guess I've knit with half that yarn.

I have to admit I bought more yarn than ever before this year. I think, actually I'm almost certain, I spent less than I ever have before this year.