Stitches West & Beyond

February has been a total whirlwind!  I knew going back to work would happen quickly, when it did happen.  I knew my creative time would take a hit but man, I forgot what a disaster everything else becomes too!

I used to laugh at the parade through my building on Saturday mornings.  First thing…take out the garbage.  Without fail, every Saturday morning, half the building takes out it’s trash.  Then they all parade through the laundry room.  Then it’s the parade to the grocery store.  As you can imagine, it is with great reluctance that I re-join this parade.  It’s all coming back to me though.  I’ve usually gotta work a trip to the post office in there, too.

I’ve been forcing myself to knit at least a few stitches in the evenings.  Slowly, I’m getting back into the swing of maximizing my time.  I’ve finished a bunch of small instant gratification projects recently, hats and toys.  I’ve got a new Dotted Rays shawl on the needles, too…but I’ve had no movement on my steeked sweater.  It is still zipper-less.

 

And then Stitches happened!  Phew!  I’m nearly recovered.  It was a good time and, I’m happy to report my ‘Carrying Coal to Newcastle’ approach worked.

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I filled my bag with stash yarn from home, just as little reminder that I have plenty of great yarn and there’s no need to buy anymore.   It totally worked!  I did not buy yarn at Stitches!  I did buy a couple trinkets…a Willie cool patch and a cute tin with a few little stitch markers.  The flying alpaca-corn became the perfect zipper pull for my notions bag!

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Check out this slideshow to see all my Stitches pictures.  Without serious yarn shopping to do, I took a lot of pictures and looked at lots of samples.  I doubt I even saw half the market floor though.

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And so, another Stitches is in the books.  I’m looking forward to next year when, hopefully, I’ve lifted my self imposed ban on stash acquisitions.  I’m super inspired and motivated to do lots of knitting in March!

Ready…Set…GO!

2019 Stash Flash

It’s time for the annual stash flash!  It’s part of my continuing effort to remind myself, I don’t need to buy yarn this year!

I started with last year’s photo, taken about this time in January and redacted everything I used up during the year.  I’m afraid I didn’t do so well.  There is plenty of great stuff left in last year’s pile.  Clearly, I’m not running out yarn anytime soon.

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The stash definitely grew in 2018.  I started with just the new additions.  They’re pretty manageable.  Yarns my Mom dyed.  Yarns from Vogue Knitting Live.  Yarns from Stitches.  Yarns from my southwest trip.  Lopi gifted from a friend.  I definitely had a particular color palate in mind.

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And then, shit got real.  I added my deep stash to the pile.

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Everything is now stacked 3+ deep.  It’s a bit deceptive but trust me, it’s plenty of yarn for the year.

Someone tell Marie Kondo not to worry her pretty little head about it though. I checked…every single skein sparks joy.  That trend continues.  This all amazing yarn.  Some of this years best additions are a sweater quantity of Swans Island Sport and an awesome gradient speckle kit from Neighborhood Fiber Company.

Of course, all this old stuff is still pretty amazing too.  Quince, YOTH, Road to China lite…all untouched since last year.   And of course, my lopi stash…I’ve got a lopi sweater on the needles, so at least some of it’s finally getting some love.

This year, I’m serious about it all…cold sheeping and some serious stash busting!  I want to put a serious dent in these photos!

So far so good, I went into a yarn shop yesterday and came out with no new yarn.  It’s totally possible!

First up, a new sweater and finishing off the current shawl in progress!  3 Day weekend + Rain…I’ve got no excuses!!  Happy Friday Gang!  Hope you all get some good stashbusting in this weekend!


 

Sweater Complications

Sweaters are complicated beasts!  Anyone who’s ever tried to knit their own sweater knows this.  There are many phases and emotions involved.  Finally, I think all of my sweater pains have been addressed sufficiently and are coming to happy resolutions.

The big one is this…

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I have officially reclaimed my needles & notions.  This sweater is no more.  It’s been a work in progress since June but I’m over it.  It’s a duplicate of this sweater, that I finished in the spring…

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I love this sweater.  I wear it all the time.  It’s almost perfect.   Almost!  It’s so close.  There’s just one thing that has stopped it from being perfect.  Unfortunately, much of it’s charm, also, comes from this not perfect part…the yarn, Pluto-Lopi, the Icelandic unspun pencil roving.

It’s delicate.  It’s not fragile.  The fabric is quite sturdy but I’ve managed to rub it thread bare in the armpits already.  img_1829

I’ve got spots on both arms and both sides, where pilling and rubbing have nearly eliminated the loose unspun fibers.  Hope is not lost for this sweater.  I’m embracing it’s wabi sabi and patching it.  I don’t have any of the matching yarn left but I’ve got plenty of the Noro I used for the stripes.  I’m down with funny duplicate stitch patches in my armpits.

The Noro yarn is a thicker anyhow, more fiber in the problem areas is exactly what this sweater needs.   I’m happy to keep patching it as needed.  I might even love it more as the armpit patches continue to develop and take over.  It’s a lightweight sweater, both in mass and in wearing, and yet it is incredibly warm.  It fits perfect.  It matches everything in my closet.  It’s only 8 months old…there’s no chance I’m ready to retire it yet.

But, I don’t need two sweaters like that.  So, Plutolopi sweater #2 has been halted.  I understand why this yarn is commonly held double now.  That’ll definitely help with future sweaters, maybe even held double with Einband, the Icelandic lace weight yarn.

And, with that big bag of guilt officially retired, I can, legit, think about an RBG inspired sweater!  I’ve been saying it’s going to happen since Christmas but with two sweaters on the needles, I just couldn’t bring myself to start a third.    I’ve finally got a clean sweater slate because, oh yeah..I finished the sweater I’ve been working on for Mom!

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It’s WestKnit’s Outer Space, another favorite of mine.  The yarn is an assortment of Lopi & Lettlopi.  Yes, I have a thing for Icelandic yarn.  At this point, it’ll be no surprise that my RBG inspired sweater is going to be Lettlopi.

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I spent at least two days, last spring, futzing with variations of this palate to find a fun peacock fade.  I had the sweater all planned out.  It was going to be lovely side to side number that faded from light at the cuffs to dark in the center.  I knit the whole thing…in my mind.  I had high hopes.  Somehow that all got derailed though.

Turns out, I was just waiting for the right idea.  RBG Peacock Fade…Hello 2019!  Let’s do this!    (right after I spend two more days futzing with colors again…)

It really is happening this time!  I’m ready for a new sweater!  It’s a new year.  The moons have all aligned.  I’ve cleared out all the 2018 knitting baggage.  It’s on…


 

2018 Year in Review

My Christmas weekend got derailed by a stupid cold. Needless to say, all that talk of starting a new sweater was just talk.  I’m on the mend and making such good progress on the old projects, I can’t bring myself to start something new just yet.  Instead of new knitting progress, I’m walking down memory lane and looking at all the things I have finished this year.   It’s been a good year for FO’s!

According to Ravelry, I’ve finished 57 projects so far, that’s 23 hats, 2 cowls, 5 sweaters, 11 shawls, 3 blankets, 6 stuffies, one set of baby mittens, a pair of socks, two pair of leg warmers, a flying pig and a yarnbombed bicycle…it sounds like a lot when you say it that way!

Of course, quantity doesn’t matter if none of it is useful or appreciated.  A lot of what I knit is gifted, this year, that means my new nephew Marcus!  So far, he’s been pretty appreciative…happily stuffing everything I’ve sent him into his mouth.   Most recently, it’s been this guy…Rebecca Danger’s Lil Love Slug.

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Those eyeballs are perfect for teething on!  After that, came Mom.  Of course, she appreciates everything too.  Her current favorite is this Pebble Beach Shawl in yarn she dyed herself!

I really liked knitting Pebble Beach and it’s great to wear.  I definitely want to make one for myself.  My favorite piece of knitwear in 2018 was probably the lone sweater I finished for myself.

I liked it enough to start a second one right away.  Unfortunately, it’s been ignored for months.  Any day now, I’ll pick it back up!

Despite all this knitting, I’m pretty sure my stash grew this year.  I tried as hard as I could to use it all up but I managed to visit new yarn shops in four states, adding yarn at each stop. (Not to mention Vogue Knitting Live and Stitches West.)

Certainly my shopping this year tended towards the green family.  And like always, I’ll say 2019 is the year of no yarn shopping.  I made it until February 1st in 2018.  Hopefully I’ll make it longer in 2019.  I take yarn collecting very seriously but I’m running out of places to put it.

And oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned that Mom dyed me a new batch of lovelies for Christmas.

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The left is a set of colors on a merino-yak-alpaca base and one the right is a set of colors on Miss Babs Kunlun base, a merino-cashmere-silk base!  Wooo!  Turns out Miss Babs sells partial naked skeins for a steal!  I’m guessing it’s her version of mill ends, little odds and ends that she can’t use but thanks to Mom’s penchant for finding sales, I will definitely use this skeins for something fun!

Now, it’s time to think about goals for 2019.  More Sweaters!  Finish my current sweater.  An RBG Sweater.  A Pebble Beach.  Lots more nephew toys.  AND NO YARN SHOPPING!  (ha…yeah right.  wish me luck!)


 

Reno Yarn Shops

I haven’t touched my knitting since we spoke last.  This is surely some sort of record for the longest I’ve gone without knitting in a decade.  Rest assured though, I am thinking about it.  I’m looking forward to getting back to it soon.

Mostly though, I’ve been working on craft fair preparations.  Cross stitching all I can and working on my table setup.

If you’re in San Francisco over Thanksgiving weekend, come visit the Etsy Holiday Emporium!  It’s Saturday and Sunday, down at Pier 35.

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Okay, now that the self-promotion is out of the way, let’s get back to the part where I’m thinking about knitting.  What am I thinking about knitting?  I’m thinking, if you’re a knitter…Reno is a pretty fantastic place to live.

With the air quality so poor in San Francisco, I checked the map for the nearest clean air…Reno!  As usual, when I travel, local yarn shops were a factor in the decision.  Reno has Jimmy Beans Wool.  I’ve ordered from them a lot so getting to finally see the store was a no brainer!   I was out the door in no time…

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They saved me a spot right in front!  As a city dweller, anytime I can drive up to a location and just park…it’s big news!  I’ve amassed a large collection of photos of my car in front of yarn shops.  It’s one of those things that is entirely trivial to most Jimmy Beans shoppers.  Reno has parking, everywhere, all the time.  It’s amazing.  Totally worth the 3.5 hour commute!

The general theme of having space continued.  Jimmy Beans is huge and spacious by most standards and certainly in comparison to Bay Area shops.  They have a big showroom with plenty of sofas and armchairs, complete with coffee tables.  Really, an impressive amount of furniture.  Perfect for sitting and knitting!

Adjacent to the big open floor, is a series of rooms.  Offices, once upon a time, but now, yarn rooms!  One for Rowan, One for Lorna’s Laces, One for MadelineTosh and so on.  Each one spacious and perfectly merchandised.  It’s a really lovely store for shopping in.  There was a lot to see and going from room to room was like a treasure hunt…what will we find in the next room?

I am going to knock them a bit though.  All that gorgeous space and beautiful merchandising but I wasn’t wowed by the actual merchandise.  I didn’t find anything special, unusual or new to me.  Malabrigo is great.  I love it but I can get it anywhere.  MadTosh…still the most amazing colorways but it’s everywhere these days.  Same with Shibui.  Lorna’s Laces and Rowan, old standbys.  Not exciting and new.  I did find something to buy though…fear not!  I picked up a couple skeins of electric blue Kidsilk Haze to give my shawl edging a fun pop when I finally get back to my knitting.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I’ll continue to shop with Jimmy Beans.  They ship fast, have great prices and a large selection of yarns I’m familiar with (always key when ordering online) but for new, exciting, trendy yarns…I’ll go across town to Yarn Refuge!

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Again with the parking right in front!  Seriously, it never gets old.  And, again, with the large shop, full of furniture but still clean, uncluttered and spacious!

The first yarn you find upon entering the shop is Brooklyn Tweed.  That’s always a good sign.  They also had Rowan, Swans Island and Noro.  Beyond that, it was lots of indie dyers, some that I know, Anzula, Urth Yarns and lots that I’d never even heard of…Brew City Yarns and Arkaik Fibers to name a few.

I ended up with a skein from Storyteller Yarns.  An indie dyer from the Lake Tahoe area that I’ve followed on instagram for some time.  A beautiful green speckly colorway called Witch Mountain.  It’ll fit my green speckle fade collection perfectly!  I’m very excited to get back to my knitting so I can use it!

I think my favorite part of Yarn Refuge was the owner though.  She had a house full of Saturday afternoon regulars knitting and chatting away.  I don’t need to be helped in a yarn store.  This ain’t my first rodeo but when the time comes, I do want my money to be taken promptly.  As a retailer, you need to take my money easily.  If you make me work to give you my money, I’m probably not going to do it.

The owner at Yarn Refuge has great retail skills.  Something I think most yarn store owners overlook — the actual ability to run the shop seamlessly.  She was great at moving from chatting with regulars to helping customers.  I wasn’t the only one shopping but when the time came, one simple look and she knew I was ready to go.  It’s hard to find that perfect balance of how much help each customer wants…some people want to be talked to, some people don’t.  Those interactions and knowing how to read different customers is a nuance of retail work that’s not often found.  I really appreciated everything about my Yarn Refuge experience.

Great space + great yarn selection + great service = a perfect knitting experience.  Without a doubt, I highly recommend visiting the Yarn Refuge when you’re in Reno.  I think you’ll like it too!


 

Stash Enhancement

After a period of losing local yarn shops, San Francisco got a new shop over the long weekend!  Woo!  Firebird Yarns…right on Haight Street…a great location for tourists and locals, alike.   I can’t wait to see how things develop there.  I hope the shop continues to grow and sticks around for long time.

It hit a lot of current trends…indie dyers, gradient yarns, mini skeins, speckles galore!  All things I like.  The indie variety was impressive…Loft Twenty Two, Houndstooth Fiber Arts, Hula Hut Yarn, Mad Science Yarns (great color names here–tesla coil, genetically modified berries, perfect mad science names!).

And now, here’s my plea to those indie dyers…please, please, please expand your offerings beyond superwash.  There is a market for non-superwash yarns, especially considering how many of those superwash yarns are labeled ‘hand wash cold, lay flat to dry’.  That’s not how superwash works.

With that in mind, the shop did have one special yarn, non-superwash, sheep raised in Texas, milled out in the Sacramento Valley.  It’s a great color too, so I had to buy a skein.  It’s a bulky single ply with a bit of thick and thin happening.  No idea what I’ll do with it, but I’m sure it’ll be good!  It’s a nice soft yarn!

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Of course, I can’t resist a good speckle so I picked up a skein of Hula Hut Yarn too.

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I’ve got a good collection of green yarns now, this could be my next cast on!  Perhaps at the end of the week, after my job interview.  I’ve got 48 hours left to prepare…so it’s all work until then!  I’d say ‘wish me luck’ but this is definitely the type of situation where you make your own luck.  I’m feeling good about my presentation but I’ve still got lots of fine tuning to do.  What I really need is two days of distraction free focus.  (that might be where the luck comes in!)  I’ll keep you posted!  :)


 

WIP it Wednesday

Happy WIP Wednesday!  That’s so much better than thinking of it as Hump Day, especially when there’s new WIPs involved!

This week I’m all about new travel knitting.  Easy stitches and simple patterns are the name of the game.  And of course, a bit of stash busting.  I just love a pile of half balls.

First up, a quick mitered square baby blanket.  It’ll be done before I know it (largely because I don’t have enough yarn, I’m ignoring that though.)

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I weighed the yarn I did have and divided it up into four equal portions, one for each mitered square.  I’ve got almost 3 squares finished!  Gotta love size 7 needles.  These squares are practically knitting themselves.

It’s really just a palate cleanser while I pondered my next shawl, which started with a pile of oddballs.  At first it’s just throwing yarn in a pile.

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Over the course of a few days, it gradually figures out a color scheme.

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And then the fine tuning begins.  Colors are added and subtracted.  More stash is pulled out from the depths.  I start to wind up new skeins.

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I really love where these colors ended up!  I think I’ve found the perfect progression for a fade!  It’s a bit of a dragon in my mind.  A splash of green for the tail, then fading purple through the body, up into a grey head.  I love it!!

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Yes, this is going to be fun and it’s garter stitch!  Wooo!  The pattern is Match & Move from Martina Behm (of Hitchhiker fame).  The ultimate result is a triangle, worked sideways.  I’m excited to really get this one under way!