Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lookit my new swift!

Isn't it nice? This is the special treat I picked up for myself at the Pittsburgh Knitting and Crochet Festival from the Knitting Notions booth.

I'd been using my mother's twenty+ year old wooden umbrella swift, and of course, I was used to using that kind of swift at the PKAB. This kind is new to me, and I found it very easy to set up and use.

On the swift and ballwinder is Knitting Notions superwash sock in the Thyme colorway. I don't know what I'm going to knit with it yet, but it was fun to wind.

It's cold and snowy out, the perfect day for winding and knitting. If you're in the Pittsburgh area, I hope you're enjoying your snow day and staying warm!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Abundance and Gratitude

The beginning of last week was, for a number of reasons, hectic and sad around here. My husband returned from his tour sick, we suffered a pretty big disappointment, and we had to take The Toddler to Children's Hospital for some medical tests. In the middle of all that, I turned the big 33.

In the end, the three of us will be fine, but I felt the urge to self-medicate with some yarn shopping.

I know, I know, I said I had rules for this and was cutting back, but please see the disclaimer I put in for myself under "special occasions," particularly the Pittsburgh Knitting and Crochet Festival.

First, while waiting for what seemed like twenty nurses to return my phone calls, I cruised Ravelry's Destash group and picked up some lovely sock yarns from people looking to unload in preparation for Stitches West. Then I saw that Sonny and Shear was having an anniversary sale and ordered some Smooshy and Shibuiknits sock yarn. The code "oneyear" is good for 25% off, in case anyone needs any enabling.

Then on Friday I ran into Natural Stitches to pick up an extra ball of Trekking Pro Natura for my husband's Gentleman's Fancy Socks just in case I ran out, and I ended up using my frequent shopper discount for some gorgeous Cascade 220 Heathers in the "Mallard" colorway for my husband's Cobblestone Pullover from last fall's Interweave Knits. It's gorgeous, just like the color of a beautiful blue mallard duck. I'm really looking forward to making it for him.

Then woohoo, on Saturday, my mother kindly volunteered to watch The Toddler all day, and, armed with birthday money from my very generous parents, I set off with Lisa and Beth for the 4th Annual Pittsburgh Knitting and Crochet Festival. This year is the first I got to go as just a plain civilian knitter: the first two years I was the one holding down the fort at PKAB and last year I manned Tania's booth for her in the morning. It was great to be able to just go and enjoy myself.

I got some really beautiful things. I wanted to stick to yarns that were handspun or dyed, not made by a big company, or that I couldn't get at Natural Stitches. I think I succeeded. I got a pattern for the Wonderful Wallaby, which I've been looking for for a long time. I got some sock yarn that NS doesn't carry, plus some crack, I mean, Malabrigo (worsted AND chunky) in new-to-me colors. I picked up some Brooks Farm Solo and Four Play that I'd been wanting to try for awhile.

And best of all, I got some lovely kettle-dyed semi-solid sock yarn and a NEW SWIFT from Knitting Notions, a family-owned business from Tennessee: she dyes the yarn and he makes the swifts and other wooden knitting supplies by hand.

But maybe even better than that was being able to donate a lot of my older yarn to the Three Rivers Crochet group. Check out their blog to see what they're all about and please consider going through your stash to see if you have anything for them. I'm thrilled that my yarn is going to a good place, for some great causes.

So in the end, at the risk of sounding trite, I am grateful. Grateful for the means to go a little overboard at a Knitting and Crochet Festival once a year. Grateful for good friends, who go yarn shopping with me, knit me beautiful things, and take me out to lunch; good friends who listen to good news and bad. Grateful for the overall good health of my family, particularly my beautiful son. Grateful to be one year older.

As I write this, the wind has started to howl and the snow is blowing. Hope everyone is either safe at the festival or snuggled up at home with some good knitting!

I'm making progress with the Christmas Knitting!

Gentleman's Fancy Sock from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks.

I really wanted to finish these socks before my husband came home from his trip. He came home Wednesday night, and I finished the socks this morning, so close enough. I cut it super duper close with the yardage (Zitron Trekking Pro Natura) to the point where I picked up an extra ball at Natural Stitches just in case I ran out. Fortunately I didn't and I can exchange the extra ball.

It's a lovely pattern and I really liked the calf shaping. If I did it again, I would not do the wide toe called for in the original; while I appreciated having only twelve stitches to graft at the end of each sock, the toes looked rather like something Legolas would sport. I shortened the leg to seven pattern repeats and lengthened the foot to nine repeats to accommodate a size 10.5 foot.

Now if only I could finish The Toddler's Vest and my mom's Clapotis, the Christmas Knitting would be complete!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I love these mittens

Yesterday I unexpectedly got a few hours of free time, and I headed down to Starbucks to knit in peace. I couldn't find my dollar store gloves, so I threw on a pair of Dashings that I'd made last month in a fit of Malabrigo-itis. They were so warm....except, you know, for the part where my fingers hung out in the cold.

So continuing in the theme of "if at first you don't succeed," I decided to try again making mittens with a variegated skein of Malabrigo. Instead of the doomed Subway Mittens pattern, I cast on for Elizabeth Zimmermann's Mitered Mittens, the May pattern in her Knitters' Almanac.

Look, no pooling! I love them so much so far. The afterthought thumb, where EZ instructs you to just snip and unravel, scared me, so I'm using the modifications for a thumb gusset found in Kathryn Ivy's blog.

So pretty.

Now if I could only get them away from the cat.