Sunday, July 31, 2005
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Drea, you're not crazy -- I also dream in fiber.
Amy, you can get sling rings at slingrings.com or nestmom.com. Nestmom is less expensive, but there are also less choices. You may not even need this, but the best info I found on DIY slings is here.
Yesterday, Sparky and Mr. Fiberflash went on a road trip with Mr's dad, brother and cousin to Cabelas. My mother-in-law was working all day, so I decided to scour the area for...need I say?
First, I Googled a search for yarn stores in any town I could think of that was nearby. Then I called them to see if the online info was current, and if, indeed, they were a LYS. This turned up two more stores than I'd found previously! So Max and I set out for a day of sensory overload.
First stop was a place called both Yarns 'N More and A to Z Vacuums. When I pulled up, all that I could see was a vacuum place; industrial looking, with the whole front made of glass. I almost turned right around to go, not wanting to waste my time. Then this door to the left of it all caught my eye. I looked in to see that the door was blocked by...baskets of Rowan! Reading a tiny sign directing me to enter through the vacuum store door, Max and I walked into the most amazing little room.
The light was off, so the only illumination came from the sunlight through the (blocked off) glass door. From the ceiling to the floor, yarn was grouped according to brand and texture; two cushy chairs were tucked into one corner with an unfinished project out on one. It wasn't the variety of yarn that grabbed me so much as the sheer quality, and the exquisite taste that had stocked this miniscule shop.
Suddenly I noticed she had rosewood needles on one display. I've never felt them in person. Would you be shocked to learn that my heart raced when I picked one up? The smooth weight of it, the dark luminous surface...ah! Who, I wondered, is responsible for this place?
I noticed a sign on the front table that directed me to take any purchases to the vacuum place for purchase, just as a young guy walked in. Apparently his dad owns the vacuum store, and his mom (who, as it turns out, was out on errands) owns the yarn place. He turned on the light for me, and confirmed that any purchases should be brought to him. Unfortunately I only had $20 to spend (payday was today, so NOW I have money), and still had two more shops to check out.
There wasn't any bargain bin to just get a "token" skein of something, so I peeled myself away, still musing over the unusualness (is that a word?) surrounding the store.
Our next stop was a place in downtown Endicott called Cornucopia Yarns. Once again, there was no (very) visible sign. I knew the address, and saw numbers close to the one I was looking for, so I got out, put the baby in the sling, and walked back and forth till I found it.
The store is structured like a long, wide hallway, as though the space had been sectioned off as an afterthought. From what I gathered, they will be remodeling soon, which is good. They had tons of local, handspun, handpainted yarns, which I liked. It's always good to support local.
The proprietor, Arline, is a tiny bit hard of hearing, but once I figured out what decibel my voice needed to be we were good.
She took me on a tour of the store, talking with me about projects I'm interested in, discussing the different fibers. One thing is certain -- I would never have found anything on my own. She knows every single thing that she stocks though, and is a great guide to figuring out and finding what you need. She has a penchant for knitted vests, but I was willing to forgive that for her friendly helpfulness in all other ways. =)
There was a big bargain table right at the front of the store, but once again, I made no purchase. I was headed to Spin A Yarn, and I KNEW they had good stuff. Sucks being on a budget, but I wasn't going to blow my cash bit by bit! She did tempt me with two $3 hanks of unbleached, ropey cotton, but I knew I'd never hand-dye it, and the texture wasn't calling out to me, so I let it be. Certain things are just no use in building one's stash.
Last but certainly not least enjoyed, we met up with my Grandma Claire at Spin A Yarn. She'd been cooped up in the house for the past two weeks, feeding chickens, taking care of a large dog and putting up with my crotchety grandpa, so I knew she could use some time out. I also hoped that the visit would inspire her.
When we walked into the store she actually gasped. It seems that in "her time", there were never so many choices, so many beautiful fibers, and the bamboo needles -- oh!
We wandered around groping every skein we came across, and she engaged the lady employee in much discussion about knitting socks in her youth for the US soldiers in WWII.
To my surprise, Grandma had brought along a project she'd started: a beautiful, cabled scarf with seed stitch border. She'd been using my cheap, cast-off acrylic yarn, and in lieu of her missing cable needle had substituted a broken pencil. After her 15 year hiatus from knitting, her stitches were perfect. She told us that she learned to knit when she was 4 -- 70 years ago!
FYI: Spin A Yarn has a clearance ROOM. That was a nice discovery.
We came across a table of hats, and learned of the chemo cap project being conducted there, and Grandma immediately knew she wanted to be involved. You buy a ball of yarn, knit a cap, donate it back to the store, and they give you a $1 coupon to use on your next purchase.
I am so glad that she has chosen to do this. It'll be so good for her to have something like that, and I know she'll enjoy it.
What made the trip even better is that at checkout, my grandma decided to buy these for me:
It's Silk Garden Noro, made of kid mohair, silk and wool. I think I'm going to try my hand at a feather and fan scarf. Any other ideas for it?
After a full day of being buried in yarn, I resurfaced refreshed and happy. Not only did I end up with some killer yarn, but I had inspired my grandma to start again the thing she's enjoyed for most of her life.
To complete our day, after dinner my husband rented Napoleon Dynamite, which we watched with his whole family. It's the second time I've seen it, and I think it gets funnier with repetition.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
So our grand plans for today? Well...neither of us had been really thinking about our upcoming anniversary, and there is this rock show in Syracuse that the Mr's really been wanting to go to. So today my husband's working, and I'm getting the little guys and myself ready (also I have to stitch together a baby sling for a cousin), have dinner done by 4:30, and then we're leaving for Syracuse. Mr. Fiberflash will go to the show, and I'll hang out at the mall with my little men. After that we'll continue on down to the in-law's house for the weekend. Doesn't that sound so romantic? Really, we've been trying to plan something, but we just can't seem to come up with anything that 1) doesn't require a lot of cash (we're tight on that end on account of our upcoming move), and 2) can include at least an infant, if not a toddler.
Last night was Knit Night. I feel like I've been going there forever now, although this is only my second time. The soothing click of needles, relaxed conversation with people who share my passion for all things knit, being surrounded by some of the most beautiful fibers...what can I say? It's one of the highlights of my week. I will be sad to move for more reasons than one, but leaving this group will suck. There doesn't seem to be anything comparable in Georgia yet that I know of, but I'll start one if I have to!
I was talking to Pam, one of the ladies in the group last night, about what knitting means to me, and I realized that this is the first "craft" I've found where I feel like I can completely immerse myself. Everything else seems to have somewhat limited creative possibilities; cross-stitch and needlepoint tend to be someone else's designs, and there's only so many things you can do with them. With sewing you can be creative, but once you cut the fabric, you're committed! With knitting, I can take yarn and just create! If I don't like it, I can frog it (rip it out), and start all over again. I can knit clothing, accessories, stuffed animals, home decor, gifts -- it's pretty much unlimited. It's also completely portable, and I can knit while doing other things, which means I'm getting something done while getting something done (or something?)
I learned to knit when I was little. My grandma taught me the knit stitch, and so I randomly knit on and off little garter stitch rectangles (a wrap dress for a Barbie! A blanket for a doll!), and then when I was 15, I made a baby blanket for my little brother with garter stitch rectangles stitched together. No edging, I knotted the ends, but it was a blanket! That was 10 years ago.
Eight weeks ago, I picked up the needles again. When I did, I knew I'd come home.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
The reporter did a good job exploring the whole fiber arts scene, and there were interesting comparisons and similarities between our group and a group of older ladies who've been meeting in this area for 40 years (!). Even the Mr. thought it was well written, which is unusual.
Also, I finished my first sock! It's a bit lonely, just waiting around for the other, so I'll have to get on that today.
Oh, as far as left hand slanting decreases go, not all are created equal. Knit two together through the back loop (K2tog tbl) makes a very different looking decrease, and doesn't match the right hand decreases well. Slip slip knit (ssk) looks much better (at least when I do it). So just a note, in case you're just about to try your first item with matched decreases.
Really, I don't know what everyone gets so scared about with socks. They're not that hard -- I got stuck twice, and was able to work things out first online, then with the help of a Real Live Person (at last week's Knit Night), but as soon as I realized what I was doing wrong, it totally made sense. The actual techniques used are pretty simple, and don't let the tiny, numerous needles and thin yarn scare you -- it feels great in the hands, and is quite fun to knit with them in the round.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
When I finished this hat, my husband couldn't photograph me with it because he was at work. Sparky was napping, so the only person around to model the hat for me was Max. As you can see, he thinks it's fantastic.
Pattern: Kittyville Hat (minus the "Kittyness") from Stitch N Bitch
Yarn: Plymouth; 80% acrylic, 20% wool
Pattern Notes: would make this out of a slightly heavier yarn next time. This made a nice fitting but somewhat thin, wimpy hat. Something to consider when learning to substitute yarn is figuring out if it will change the way the fabric lies.
The socks are coming along well. I went to Knit Night last night at The Bamboo Needle, and a lady named Barbara helped me through the part I couldn't understand. I had figured out how to "turn the heel" through the pattern + several tutorials online (look here for the best one I found), but then got stuck on how to start the gusset. Now that I had someone showed me, it all makes sense.
The Knit Night was really great. There were knittters off all ages there, as well as all experience levels. Some ladies had been knitting all their life, it seemed and others had just started that week (great work Andrea!) All in all, it was exactly what I was looking for. Two hours, working on projects with a group of other knitters, surrounded by yummy yarns, in an air conditioned, comfortable room.
I can expound on my projects, lovely new fibers I've found, etc. here on this blog, but I start to feel sorry for Mr. Fiberflash sometimes when I unload all this on him. I know he tries hard to act interested, and I suppose it's only fair because he tells me all about his music scenes, but more than likely, enough is enough at some point. =) So it was great to be with a group of ladies who are just as excited (or more so!) about the things that I am.
Monday, July 18, 2005
This is the first sock I've ever done, and the first time I've used 4 needles. It was a little tricky at first, and I have done the ribbing twice now because it was kind of manky at the first go, but I feel like I'm in the groove of things now. It's actually fun!
So far I've completed the ribbed cuff and now I'm working on the heel flap. It's pretty cool to see how the whole thing is constructed as I go along
The yarn I'm using is the Socotta that I bought last week. It's 45% cotton, 40% superwash wool, and 15% nylon. I'm really liking the colors; it's an unusual blend of purples and burgundys, and is knitting up nicely.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
I was at Big Lots the other day, looking for some yarn, when I came across stamps and ink pads for two dollars a piece. $20 later, I was happily strolling out of the store (actually, it was kind of rough going because Max started wailing at the check-out line, Sparky almost had a melt-down but I averted it with Chex-mix...) with 4 stamps and ink pads in 6 lovely shades. I felt like I'd hit the jack-pot!
This purchase made the creation of this thank-you card super easy. Stamp and then smear with ink! Well, and a few paper punch-outs. I was very pleased with myself. If anyone tells you that the only kind of ink you can use for Dirty Scrapping is the special Antiquing kind, they're wrong. This is the dirt cheap, regular stuff, and it worked fine. Also, smearing things with ink is every child's dream! (Or at least this one's!) My mom never let me play with the inkpads, so I used to "sneak" my fingers in from time to time and make prints all over things for fun, or use the address stamp on things that didn't need to be addressed. Now I've got ink of my very own that I can smudge things with to my heart's content. ~sigh~
Two days ago, I decided that I was completely fed up with carrying around my knitting in a plastic grocery bag, so I stopped at Jo-Ann fabrics (clearance on tons of fabrics!) and bought this lovely pink, asian inspired brocade. The other two fabrics I already had on hand (leftovers from maternity clothes I made two years ago). Started working on this bag (based on pattern in Stitch N Bitch) at around 10pm, and finished at 2am. I was exausted, but had this great bag to show for it. It's huge and houses at least two projects comfortably. The button at the top is just knotted fabric, and the button hole is a loop. The main body of the bag is made up with two layers of the grey; the inside lining is sewn into different size pockets to house things neatly. The patch is a graphic scanned in from the book, printed onto iron-on transfer paper, then ironed onto some cream striped fabric. This was fun to make, and I'm so relieved to now have a neat, colorful way to carry around my stuff.
Pattern: based on DIY Tote from Stitch N Bitch
Find pattern here
Yesterday morning I finally completed this baby-sling, which is the most comfortable one I've made so far. It's an embroidered pink linen blend, which wicks away sweat and dries quickly. People may think that I'm carrying a girl around in it because of it's color, but a sling is a fashion accessory for me, as well as a way to carry my baby. My favorite color happens to be...well, need I say it? So that's the color of this particular sling. And I am fond of it.
Buy sling rings here (more color choices) and here (less expensive)
I crocheted this dress while I was pregnant in case my baby was a girl, but since that little person turned out to be Max, I'm giving this to one of his tiny little cousins, who was born a week ago. I just sewed the buttons on the back of it today on the ride to Binghamton. This was made from a free pattern I found online, and was created in....well, it's babyweight acrylic. (Hey, I made it "back then"! What did you think it was going to be made of?)
Pattern: Crochet Infant Sundress
Yarn: Bernat Fingering Weight (I think?), 100% Acrylic
Notes: I wouldn't use this yarn again because it's totally acrylic, but it did feel very nice and soft. It also washes well, but sadly, acrylic just isn't as warm and comfortable as natural fibers.
When I first started to crochet, I bought only 100% acrylic because a) it was the only kind of soft, worsted weight yarn that I could find at Wal Mart and b) because I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on something that I might not be good at, and c) because I had no idea how much amazing, natural fiber is out there. I know now. So my entire stash (which I'm almost ashamed to say was nearly all acrylic) has now been unloaded upon my little siblings, who are learning to knit, and are each taking a skein and a set of needles with them on vacation for the long car trip. (A few skeins are getting mailed to Israel for my cousins, who are also learning to knit -- my grandma was just there, and when she decided to teach them during her visit, the knitting bug bit hard.
Something I noticed about acrylic, which lead me to get rid of it all is that now, in the humid summer weather, the yarn sticks to my hands and my tension is all off. I cannot knit consistant rows with the stuff right now. It's SO frusterating. I was going back and forth between the Monkey Backpack (all acrylic) and the Kitty Hat (yarn is 75% acrylic, 25% wool), and the Kitty yarn was just so much more enjoyable to work with. I noticed that I was putting off working on the backpack. Then I started reading Elizabeth Zimmerman's book Knitting Without Tears (which I recomend to anyone -- to those of you who knit for inspiration and humor, and to those of you who don't to understand those of us who do -- it's still interesting anyway!). As I read I realized that the reason why I knit is not just to have a finished project. It is to enjoy the experience. The click of needles, the soothing feeling of yarn encircling my fingers and smoothly running up to the fabric, the feel of brand new rows cascading down as the work grows. Acrylic just wasn't doing it for me anymore. I could feel it coming on: Yarn Snobbery. Yes, I am knitting a hat made out of partial acrylic, but the addition of wool to the mix makes all the difference. Probably fairly soon I'll be telling you that I've sworn off all man-made fibers entirely and submitted completly to the title of Yarn Snob. But I'm not looking back. Even if it means that I can't work on as many projects because of the cost of the Real Stuff, I feel it's completely worth it. So that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
*NOTE: I have given the backpack pieces and pattern to my little siblings. The gusset is has about 10 more inches to go, and then the straps need to be knit. After that it all gets sewn together and lined. So perhaps it will be completed after all. I know that my 7 year old sister had her eye on it and would love to have it as her very own, so perhaps my grandma will take pity on her and complete the project herself...or maybe I'll lay aside my snobbery for a moment and help out myself, who knows? I think that I won't though. Let someone else do it. Give me wool!
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Anyway, the storm knocked out our power in the night and that lasted until nearly lunchtime today. All of our major and minor appliances are electric, so we were just headed out to lunch when the power came back on. (How to make a meal with no appliances?)
Last night I heard rumour of a LYS 20 minutes from here, in Sackets Harbor. I was able to get in touch with the owners and confirm that yes, there is one "The Bamboo Needle", and they specialize in natural fibers!! Oh my goodness, this will be so bad for my wallet. Was going to run by there today to check it out, but they're only open from 12-4 each day, and Andrew naps from 1-3:30 so that didn't work out. We'll stop by there tomorrow on the way back from the state park beach, where we'll be in the morning.
The Stitch 'N Bitch circle last night went well. Two other ladies showed up to Borders Cafe, along with a reporter and photographer for the local newspaper. We had a lot of fun, but it doesn't look like Tuesdays is the best night for everyone. Also, the one lady's husband is getting deployed in a week or so, and then she won't have anyone to watch her kids... However, I found something better! When I was talking with the owner of The Bamboo Needle, they happened to mention Knit Night, which is every Wendesday! I didn't go tonight because I've been out two nights this week already (with my husband watching the toddler), but I will be there next week, most definitely!
I've gotten a bit more done on the backpack and hat, but not enough to photograph. Well, Max is taking a nap and my husband's outside with Sparky running around, so I'm going to take this opportunity to work on those things.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Yesterday I was at the library and came home with these:
How much knitting will I get done today? Oh goodness, so many distractions.
Tonight is the very first Stitch N Bitch circle that Watertown has ever seen! A reporter and photographer from the paper will be there, so I hope that some people actually show up. We'll have to see...
Monday, July 11, 2005
It was wall to wall yarns, fiber, and even a spinning wheel. She stocks only gogeous, hardwood needles and crochet hooks. It's called Spin A Yarn, and it's almost right across from Binghamton General Hospital's main entrance, for those of you in that area. Up until this point I've only purchased my threads at craft stores and Wal Mart, so it was quite the experience.
Botiques are almost never cheaper, but part of it is the whole experience, the availability of some of the more specialty stuff, and the lady who owns Spin A Yarn has been knitting for 40 years and knows her stuff. I got one skein of Sockotta sock yarn (I've heard socks are good traveling companions so I'm going to try knitting a pair and see how it goes),
and two of this wool/acrylic blend by Plymouth Yarn, to make the Kittyville hat from Stitch 'N Bitch.
As you can see, I couldn't wait to get started on the hat, so I completed the seed stitch band while still in Binghamton. It was my first effort knitting in the round, and was WAY easier than I thought it would be.
My grandma, who started knitting when she was ten, but for some reason stopped about 15 years ago, sat on the couch with me, and I knew her fingers were itching to work on something herself. Next time I visit there, I'm going to take her with me on a Stash Expedition, and maybe inspire her to actually start again. I know she'd enjoy it. Who knew that knitting could be a way to bring people together? My grandma and I don't have a whole lot in common, so I hope this is something fun that we can share together.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
I found this gorgeous organic cotton yarn on Knitty, and simply have to have it. The only problem is, I don't know what to make it into. Any ideas?
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Pattern: based on patterns from Simple Crochet by Erika Knight
Yarn: Jute garden twine and unbleached kitchen string (purchased inexpensively from hardware store)
Friday, July 01, 2005
Pattern: Noah's Ark from Noah's Ark For Baby, Leisure Arts (purchased at Joann's Fabric Store)
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft, 100% acrylic
Notes: I would strongly suggest crocheting the ends in (or weaving them in with a tapestry needle) as you go. Otherwise this could end up as a nearly complete unfinished object...forever.
From first loop to completion: approx. 3 weeks