Back in the SF groove

Took a few days but things are just about back to normal around here.  Re-entry is always harsh after vacation but it took me a few extra days.  It was really nice being in New Mexico where the population density is zero.  Coming back to the crowds of San Francisco has made me cranky.  It’s like I forgot how to suppress the urge to slap people while saying ‘get it together, idiot’.   So, it was a rough weekend but, I’ve got it under control now.  Getting back to the knitting routine was imperative!

I knit in public, on several buses and even managed a few FOs. The purple hat is just a basic beanie with a little garter ridge relief kind of design.  Something for the gift box because invariably when a random birthday arrives, everyone’s favorite color is purple, yes?

I put the sleeves on my nephew’s first sweater.  He’s due in July, so he doesn’t even need them.  They were really just a few rows of formality.  I washed it and got ready to block it.  Definitely didn’t need all the blocking mats for this wee sweater.  It’s so tiny!  They call this size 0-3 months.  If it fits him on day 1, I’ll be amazed!

My current WIP is the other dotted rays.   Of the two, this one is definitely my favorite.  I knew it wouldn’t languish, alone, in a corner, after vacation and it hasn’t.  It’s been growing at a rapid pace since I got back.

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So, with all that progress, it’s definitely time to cast on something new.  Here’s my pile of vacation yarn…

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The first thing I grabbed to wind was the Dream in Color.  I got Jilly & Smooshy both with Cashmere.  Obviously.  With Cashmere is always the answer.

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I wanted to cast on the Local Yarn Shawl from Local Yarn Store Day but I don’t think I’ve got the right colors.  At least not right here.  I’ve totally got the right colors somewhere…I just need to get the yarn out and spread it all around.  Any excuse, right?

Any excuse!!


 

About that Stash…

Sometime yesterday afternoon, I had a moment of panic.  I realized some of my new Stitches yarn was missing from this picture.

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PANIC!  What happened to it?  I hope I didn’t lose it at the hotel?  Could I recall seeing it at home?  Was it in any of the pictures I’d taken?  Did it fall out of the bag in the car?  OMG WHERE IS IT?

Thankfully my panic only lasted about 30 seconds.  One of the benefits of a tiny studio apartment…nothing is ever far away!  I found them exactly where I had left them…with all the other speckles.  D’oh!

It’s amazing how much emotion can be packed into such a short span.  These beauties will be central to my speckle fade cardigan plan.  The thought of losing them, while fleeting, was sad.  They’re just so gorgeous!!

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The two on the left are Savannah from Baah, a lovely soft MCN.  The one on the right is Tosh Merino Light in the Foliage colorway.

I frequently tell people to stop buying Tosh.  There are so many other great yarns to try, no need for pigeon holing.   That color though!!  I could not resist.  I saw it from a distance and once I had it in my hand, there was no putting it down.  I love the bright fun speckles but the dark green is what sold it!  It’s a completely grounded and wearable color but it also satisfies my need for rainbow clown barf.  It is my absolute definition of irresistible.   I would have been very sad to lose it.   And so, this is why Tosh remains a favorite.  Maybe one day I’ll learn, resistance is futile.

Similarly, in the maybe-one-day-I’ll-learn category…

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I started a new project yesterday.  The more I say I’m not going to do something…the more likely I am to do it.  (see:  buy yarn as another example.)  I definitely thought I was good on WIPs when I left you yesterday.  I didn’t expect this to happen either!  I’m pleading the Crochet Loophole on this one.  It’s totally reasonable to allow myself one little crochet project, along with all the knit WIPs.

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And by little, I mean 3200 yards of KnitPicks fingering weight Chroma!  Wooo!

A very generous knitter asked me at Stitches, do you like Chroma?  Why, yes.  Yes, I do.  She said she was destashing and she’ll bring it for me.  Well, Monday knit night rolled around and she was serious about this destash.  So, here I am with a giant bag of unexpected yarn!  It’s amazing!  And Rainbow!  And Stripey!

Just about 11 pm last night, my resolve broke and here I am with my newest WIP…a crochet blanket, log cabin style!  I’m going with a big hook and a loose stitch in the hopes that this will be a big, squishy rainbow hug!  It’s gonna be so good!


 

2018 Stash Flash

It’s that time of year again.

January.

Time for selfish knitting, setting goals and looking ahead.  Looking, in particular, at Stitches West.  I’ve been going to Stitches since before it needed ‘West’, since the days it was held in Oakland.  You know all those ‘most wonderful time of year’ sentiments people attach to Christmas?  That’s only because they haven’t been to Stitches.

There are many time honored Stitches traditions.  The first is denying I’m even going to go.  I got over that pretty quick.  The next is casting on a new sweater, for the express purpose of debuting it at Stitches.  Yup, Check that off the list!  I think it’s gonna be a good one this year too!

And, perhaps, the most important tradition of all…Flashing the Stash.  I know what yarn I have but seeing all, together, in one place really helps drive home the mantra:  I’m not buying yarn this year.  I’m not buying yarn this year.  I’m not buying yarn this year.  I’m REALLY not buying yarn this year!

I’m really not buying yarn this year??

Yes.  and here’s why:

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This is the stash, in January 2016.  I skipped the 2017 Stash Flash.  So we’ve gotta go back two years.  As a reference, I put my blocking boards down.  It’s a good size reference, this is 18 square feet of yarn.   Everything blacked out is gone.   That leaves a lot.  And, it goes without saying that the Stash grew in both 2016 and 2017.

Here’s what the stash looked like yesterday:

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Unsorted, just in a pile.  There’s a 12″ ruler planted in the middle as reference.  It’s nearly buried.  The yellow bag in the back, that’s my Lopi.  This year’s Stash Flash officially needed a phase 2.

After sorting, it looked like this:

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It broke free from it’s 18 sq ft boundary and it’s still about 8 inches deep throughout.  I took my job as a yarn collector pretty serious the past two years.

Phase 2, the Lopi phase:

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The Lopi behaved well.  I spread it single layer so I’ve got an exact accounting of it.  With yoke sweaters being so on-trend in 2018 I think my next sweater may be a lopi-peacock-fade sort of thing.

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Yes?  Yes!  That sounds awesome and clearly, requires no new yarn!

The rest of that giant pile holds even more awesomeness.

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My YOTH.  Those beautiful greens are destined for a shawl…one day.

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My Quince.  Clearly, I went through a teal phase.  I really need to get these guys on the needles.

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A stash of Road to China Light, the teal phase was still going strong.  This yarn is a phenomenal blend of alpaca, silk, camel and cashmere.  One day, I’m really going to love wearing it.  Hopefully that’s soon.

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I’ve got at least a sweaters quantity of Zooey from Juniper Moon Farms, acquired when cotton seemed like a good idea.

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The section of yarns dyed by my Mom.   Definitely getting some of these on the needles in short order.

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An assortment of speckles and other fingering weight hand dyed yarns.  So many happy hours of knitting in this shot!

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Sparkly yarn, self striping yarn, barber pole hand spun yarn.  At this point, it’s all good stuff.  Nothing big box or acrylic about it.

I’ve got tweed, I’ve got solids, I’ve got blends, I’ve got chainette, I’ve even got one skein of chartreuse mohair.  What more could I possibly even need??

As much as I love new yarn, I really love my old yarn.  This collection has been carefully curated.  The junk is gone.  The colors are perfect.

AND, I’ve got a whole month to make a dent before Stitches.   Ready, Set, GO!


 

Weekend Stash Enhancement

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I visited another new bay area yarn shop this weekend, The Black Squirrel in Berkeley.  It’s a nice, bright, open space with an amazing yarn wall.  They have a small, trendy selection of yarn.

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It’s kind of amazing that I only came home with three skeins.  I don’t usually do trends but speckle yarn is one trend I am on board with!

There were maybe 3 or 4 different indie dyers represented on the wall.  I went with Spun Right Round, a dyer from Rochester, NY.  This is the sock base, an 80/20 superwash wool/nylon blend.  In colors Caterpillar and Idle Gossip.

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For a quick minute, I thought, I should do one of those faded sweaters.  I think I’ve come to my senses since then.  I’ve got too many WIPs for that but just in case I decide to do a fade of some kind, my third color is the perfect neutral for a fade, Newsprint.

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White with black speckles…an instant classic!

I’m not casting the yarn on yet but I did have time for another little project I picked up.

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A christmas ornament cross-stitch kit.

They worked up quick and turned out super cute.

 

Pre-Thanksgiving isn’t too early for a Christmas tree, is it?

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And, I managed to make progress, this weekend, on the Bill Murray Sweater too.  Good progress I think.  I’ll share some details and photos for WIP Wednesday!   Hopefully it’ll look like something by then!


 

WIP Wednesday Photo Dump

As usual, it’s Wednesday and I have more works in progress than hands to work on them.   My cat sweater is still a WIP but it’s approaching FO status rapidly.

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The first time around, I forgot a bit of sleeve shaping.  Happy to say, this time I remembered to shape the appropriate places and the face is far less wonky now.  Just a couple rows more and a bit of neck shaping before I can begin seaming!  The weather is perfect for the sweater right now so I’m hoping to stay focused!

It’s tough with this box of beauties though…

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Mom dyed me some yarn for my birthday!  It’s all amazing!  The two little balls are a merino/silk/yak blend.  Soon to be a hat I think.

The barber pole yarn is super fun too…it’s a 4 ply wool, 3 regular plies and one superwash ply.  Turns out the superwashing process effects the way wool takes dye so you get this cool marled effect with one color of dye.   The electric blue is so striking!  I can’t wait to use it!

The piece de resistance, though, is this great big hank of alpaca…

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I love everything about it…the colors, the speckling, the softness.  Mom tried something new with this one — Ice Dying.   You put your yarn underneath a large mass of ice, sprinkle the dye on top of the ice and as the ice melts, the dye drips down randomly.   I don’t know if I actually have the patience to dye that way but I’m really glad Mom did.  At the bare minimum, I’ve gotta swatch with this yarn soon.  It’s definitely going to become something special.

Of course, the real reason I’m trying to avoid the siren song of new yarn, I need to get moving on the Bill Murray Sweater.

You see, Bill Murray is currently touring with a band.  I have this big portrait of Bill that I knit a few years back.  I also have tickets to the Bill Murray tour.   It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

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I’ve pulled a selection of yarns from the stash and I’ve decided on a plan.  I just need to put the plan into action.  I’ve got five weeks.  It’s time to stop procrastinating.

Really, that means step away from the cross stitching.  I finished this little hoop, an ode to Warren Zevon and the werewolves of London.

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It was an irresistible idea.  I got it out of my system.  I’ve cleared the path for the Bill Murray sweater.  It’s time.  I’ve got laser focus.  I’m making it happen.

Just as soon as I finish the Cat Sweater.   (you had to know that was coming.  lol.  fingers crossed they’ll both be finished soon because in reality, it’s November.  It’s time for the Christmas knitting freakout. Ugh!)


 

The Swap

It’s been a while, life happens.  Last weekend in particular.  After doing nothing but crafting in August.  September has roared to life!  There were many parties, all with libations but only one with YARN!

My knitting group had a big yarn swap!  We’ve done small white elephant style yarn swaps in the past but frankly, I’ve got enough of my own white elephant yarn.  I don’t need anyone else’s.  And, I knit with a group that is very experienced.  More importantly, they have VERY NICE STASHES!  I wanted a piece of that action.  On the day of our last white elephant swap, I casually suggested we do a bigger, more open swap.

Apparently, they wanted a piece of MY STASH too!  In no time, we had organized ourselves a party.

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Mostly MadTosh Pashmina

This is just a sampling of what I took for swapping.   There comes a time, if it’s been in the stash untouched for years, let someone else have a crack at it!  And, if I’m being honest, I still kept the best stuff for myself.  This was only the stuff I could bare to part with.

I’m pleased to say, I came home with a lot of great stuff!  I’m impressed with what I managed to pry away from them.  I can’t wait to use it all.  So far though, I’m stuck in the chaos of it.

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There’s a desk under there somewhere, I swear!  So what’s in this pile?  I have spent a fair amount of time putting in piles and then rearranging the piles.  And, taking pictures of piles, of course.

I have put two of the new yarns into my Marled Magic shawl so far.  I started with that skinny purple mohair.  It was hard to ignore that ball in the swap pile, when I had crazy purple brioche on my needles, at that exact moment.

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It was meant to be.

The second yarn is a skein of MadTosh Twist Light, which I’ve never actually used before.  It’s grey and pastel variegated, so it’s perfect to tone down some of the neons I’ve got.  Right now, a highlighter yellow color, up next will be some neon peach!

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Plus, the purple brioche doesn’t seem so blinding anymore! 

I walked away from the swap with not one but TWO skeins of Caterpillar Green striping shawl skeins.  Not my favorite colors but this yarn is fun!  I think the Fade to Black color is going to become a Dotted Rays.  Not sure about the Fade to Yellow, suggestions anyone?

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This beauty…a Koigu dye job on Buffalo Wool Co.’s bison and silk laceweight.  It’s 400 yards, that is something amazing and lightweight.  I almost think I should do lace?!?

And then, there’s this…

The Bill Murray Sweater really needs to happen.  I’ll never match his original dye lot, so rather than try, I’m collecting a mish-mash of white and off white yarns.  It’s going to be a simple vest I think.  It’s very much a work in progress.  Calling it a work is even a stretch.  It’s still mostly an idea but now I’ve got 7 balls of Jojoland Baritone to add to the pile.  It should be the perfect base.  I’ll fill in with my other oddments as it progresses and it’s going to be charming and perfect…eventually. (which just got a little sooner!)

And now, let the weekend begin.  First Stop:  The Knitterly in Petaluma.  It’s Friday, I’m driving by.  I should probably just buy yarn!


 

 

The Royal Bee – A New LYS

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I saw a thread on Ravlery ‘new yarn shop in pacifica’.  Yes Please!  Knowing nothing more than yesterday was the soft opening, I set out!  I haven’t had a spontaneous stash enhancement in a couple months!

It’s funny to read the old post and see that my decision was guided by parking.  I pulled up to Royal Bee yesterday completely in love with the PARKING LOT.  I couldn’t wait to take a picture of it!  ha ha.

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Rows of FREE PARKING!  Can you tell I live in the city?  Free parking is all it takes!  LOL!   So Royal Bee gets two thumbs up already!

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Once inside, the delights continued!  The beehive themed yarn wall is so pretty!  If I lived in a house with lots of wall space, I’d love to display my yarn like this!  Lots of interesting yarns here…some Rowan, a bunch of Skacel like Kenzie and Simplicity and HiKoo.  Yarns I know of but haven’t used.  A variety of fibers, colors, weights.  There was a bunch of sock yarn too.

I chatted with Kelley, the owner, a bit.  She’s super and definitely interested in recommendations.  My first suggestion was local yarns so I can’t wait to go back after the grand opening and see how the shop evolves.  (August 16th, details are here, if anyone wants them!)

It’s a poly-stitchual kinda place, with a really cute selection of fabrics and notions and whatnots.

And Rainbow Elastic!!  I love that stuff!  I use it in hats all the time!  It takes the worry out of stretch & fit.  Look at all those colors!  There were even more too.  I can’t wait for my next hat binge, which is due at any moment.  I know where to find the perfect Rainbow Elastic now!

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I picked up a couple balls of Llamor, 100% baby llama.  It’s so soft…perfect for cozy winter hats or August in Pacifica.

The best part of my purchase though, hands down, is the snarky cross stitch kits!  I couldn’t resist.  I finished the first one already.

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Not only have I finally figured out French Knots but this new fangled cross stitch kit innovation blew my mind:

 

 

The strands are held secure on the back so you just snip off a strand as you need it!  I love it!  I’ve started my second design already.  No sorting colors and wondering if I’ve labeled them right.  This little tag makes it so easy!

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I may have to redecorate my bathroom with snarky cross stitch now.  Assuming I can make the finishing work.  As much as I’ve cross stitched, I’ve never finished anything in the hoop.  The instructions involve cutting the excess aida away and installing a running thread.

I know what all those words mean.  How hard can it be?  Wish me luck!