fallingbooks: (yarn)
I've been thinking and what I really want is a monthly sock yarn club that is just yarn. That's it. 400+ yards of a surprise club exclusive colorway (on something dense like the RSC base,) with no patterns that I will never use and no cutesy extras that I do not need. Plain, simple, $20-25 a month price range.

Does such a thing even exist? Because I have not found it yet, and I really miss getting a monthly does of something woolen in the mail.
fallingbooks: (yarn)
Yarn swap! Sign-ups through the 30th.

(As mentioned in this morning's 'this is why Dreamwidth is fabulous' post.)

Currently still prodding at a set off mittens which should be done by the weekend and mailed off Monday. I hope to have a decent FO roundup by the end of next week.
fallingbooks: (yarn)
I went. I saw. I observed a mass quantity of Ravellers from a relatively safe distance. I stood outside the Bosworth booth and gazed in at the shinies longingly. I shopped.

I will spare you the majority of the details. It was nice seeing the friends that I did, and I hope to see the ones that I missed next year.

(Someday, double-treadle Journey wheel! Someday you will be mine!)

(Possibly in 2013.)

(And maybe after I get a DT Matchless, seeing as the bug is already pretty portable. Regardless, IT WILL HAPPEN!)

(Man, I am just one great big covety mess, huh?)

blingpacaMy big splurgey purchase this year was 8oz of lovely, creamy blingpaca from Loop. I've been ogling it on Etsy for a while and when confronted with coveted itm face-to-face I simply had to have it. I'm looking forward to spinning it a whole lot, once I get through the holiday season and get a few other projects off my plate and wheel. I love alpaca, and prefer to spin from top as opposed to bats or roving for smoothness, and, yes, I love sparkle, so this really hits all the markers for being 'Something Sarah Likes.' I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but preliminary thoughts run along the lines of 2-ply fingering weight knit up as a stole. 


Innit pretty?

I bought some other stuff, too. I've got some lovely blue romney from Jersey, a camel-colored ball of llama that I am like 17 different kinds of excited about, some skeins of yarn, and this:

BMFA STR Rhinebeck2010 RareGem It's a Blue Moon STR lightweight Rare Gem. Photographing it and putting it up on needles was literally the first thing I did when I got home with it. It's absolutely gorgeous and I get a woodsy vibe off of the colors. It's probably my favorite thing I bought aside from the blingpaca. The Fold is something I look forward to every year at Rhinebeck. I don't always get something, but I love the opportunity to look at everything and see the colors first hand in the morning light. (And yes, also to ravage the Rare Gem rack. I have a Rare Gem problem.)

Oh, why is it only once a year? (Probably because I'd be broke otherwise.)
fallingbooks: (Default)
Okay, I tried to post about my 2 Week Sweater yesterday and it got eaten and my heart was broken and the world was ending so I went off to mope and spin some SAL fiber for the rest of the evening. Let us all hope that this goes better this time.

(The post, not the sweater. It's still in a completely unnommed state as far as I know. Maybe I should go check...)

ditz inna damariscotta (my god I hate having my picture taken.)SO! I finished my sweater at midnight on Saturday morning, and almost a week later I'm still wandering around in a state of shock. I. Made a sweater. Holy freaking crap, I made a SWEATER. In LESS THAN TWO WEEKS.

(In case it hadn't clicked, I'd never made a sweater before. Sweaters were big and scary and had seams, dear God, SEAMS. Only really good knitters made sweaters.)

I honestly feel like I can take over the entire world right now, clad in my fiefdom conquering sweater and despot crushing socks. My ego is now immense and my self esteem is insanely high. I had a huge mental block and this project helped me vault right over it and now all I want to do is make sweaters. Lots of them. Right now. No, seriously. RightNow. If for no other reason than that, the project was a success, but it turns out that despite my yarn-subbing, modifying shenanigans, the sweater is surprisingly wearable as well. Huzzah!

Deets:

Pattern:
Damariscotta from the Spring 2010 Twist Collective
Yarn: Stitch Nation Full O' Sheep in Mediterranean
Needles: KnitPicks Zephyr Interchangeables, size 6 and random sz 5s (DPN + straights)

Starting at the bottom of the list -- I decided to test drive the Zephyrs on this project. (I needed to get a size 6 circular, anyway.) I have a longstanding love of vintage plastics, (and also a longstanding history of accidentally snapping them, whoops,) so I've always been intrigued by them. Can I say, these needles are seriously awesome? I could get all pretentious and talk about handfeel and flexibility, but the bottom line is they're nicely slick so that your yarn moves over them easily, and they have the warmth and give that I've come to expect from using the vintage needles all while being pretty darn cheap. I'll definitely be adding more of these to the collection.

The yarn, however... this just wasn't the right project for it, for me personally. I had it kicking around in the right quantity and didn't want to go buy the recommended yarn (because I am lazy, and there tends to be a dearth of decent cottons around here,) so I totally take ownership for my decision. That said, the yarn halos like mad, and when I say 'like mad' I'm not indulging in hyperbole to talk about the little bit of fluff that you get on knitted objects after a couple careful wearings. No. I'm talking, 'holy crap, this looks like a carpet after a 3 am catfight between some seriously aggravated persians' before the darn thing was even worn. (Okay, maybe THAT'S a bit of an exaggeration, but not too much!) I was simply shocked by how much it haloed knitting it up, considering how smooth it looks in the skein. Me, I'm not a huge fan of fuzzy sweaters. Scarves, hats, shawls, fine. Sweaters, no. YMMV. The color is lovely and even, however, and it is fabulously warm.

I love the pattern. I'll probably use it as a base for a fistful of other sweaters. The directions are clear and concise, comes in a variety of sizes, and it's easily moddable to adapt to your personal wants. Personal mods: lowered the neckline by 8 rows (still legal, but will layer better over some of my other tops,) subbed in 6 rows of seed stitch, bound off in pattern for the rolled hems on the arms, and 8 rows, split at the side seams for the bottom hem. The main things I'll probably do the next time is tinker with the decreases coming out of the bust, and add an extra one for a slightly snugger fit, and not move to a smaller needle for the hems.

I'm thinking a slightly longer body with long sleeves that switch to a complimentary color at the elbow for the next one.

---

In spinning news, I currently have two SALs on tap. The ITW one needs to be completed, um, soon, (It went on the wheel last night!) but the Fiber Fancy batts arrived yesterday (accompanied by Laffy Taffy and candy buttons!) so I think I'll put them aside and work on them as part of the Tour de Fleece insanity.

(I may have a poll on what I should work on for TdF this weekend, because I seem to have acquired quite a bit of fluff, and my decision making capabilities are a bit overwhelmed by all of it. It does not help that I essentially have no plan for any of it.)

--

Into The Whirled SAL fiber - Inspirations 'Starcrossed' & 'Teal'


itw-starcrossedITW - Teal

--

Fiber Fancy SAL fiber - Wonka 'Fizzy Lifting Drinks'

fiber fancy - fizzy lifting drink

---

I'm thinking about including some book reviews and whatnot on this blog. I used to maintain a yearly list of new books I'd read and some capsule reviews elsewhere, but let it lapse about a year ago, but I'm starting to feel love again. I read mostly urban fantasy, romance, graphic novels, and gobs of YA, as an fyi/fair warning. ;)
fallingbooks: (yarn)
I am cruising along nicely and having finished the bust decreases, I slipped it off the needles and tried it on (no pictures because I lowered the neckline to make it a better layering piece for the fall and I don't really feel the need to flash the Internet,) and I am 1.) in love, and 2.) still basking in that OMG IT'S A SWEATER euphoria. Brace yourselves, I think it's going to go on for a while yet. I seriously added at least 20 sweater patterns to my queue. I'll try to get a picture of it again towards the end of the week.

--

I went through my yarn bin this afternoon and pulled out a bunch off odds and ends - single skeins that I ought without a plan, multiple skeins where I've decided that the original plan sucks, and am destashing them. They're up on Ravelry with pics, if anyone is interested in taking a look. I need to clean house and this has the added benefit of putting a couple bucks into the new computer jar.

--

In case it's not evident, I like Ravelry quite a bit. I'm not a huge chatter on the boards, although I belong to a zillion groups, but I really think that their project, stash and pattern management tools are excellent. The project pages keep me honest with what's on the needles and what I'm ignoring, the stash pages help me keep track of what I actually have (both in that I don't buy unnecessary dupes and also that I actually have enough yarn in my stash to pull off a particular pattern,) and the pattern pages help me keep tabs on patterns I actually want to make. It really is an invaluable resource for me. I'd be quite lost with out it.

--

I am test driving some Knitpicks zephyr interchangeables. I think I like them, although I don't know they're any less 'clicky' than my metal Addis are.

--

Rubenesque ladies! The current issue of Verena has some very nice sweaters in it in our sizes.(Ignore all of the eye-searingly bright sweaters with (imho) alarming colorwork. It's like dayglo hell in there.) It's well worth the price of picking up a paper copy if a few of them catch your eye. I probably will end up making at least a couple of the non-ribby ones.

YARN DIET.

Jun. 6th, 2010 09:14 pm
fallingbooks: (yarn)
I took a good hard look at my stash the other day. It is not a small stash, and although I don't have to stuff yarn into the arms of winter jackets or other out-of-season clothing to hide it from an SO, I do have a tendency to shove as much of it as possible out of sight when I know Non-Yarn-People will be coming to visit. I have a bin of fiber the cat could go swimming in and I'd never notice.

It's getting bad, y'all. And Rhinebeck is only four months away.

(Oh, you THINK that's plenty of time, but no. No, it's really not.)

Anyway, I was looking at the stash and realized that I have to do something about it before I bring anything else in. Some of it is up on Rav right now for sale. Mostly the odds and ends of things that I bought on impulse with no real plan at the time and 6-24 months later, I'm still lacking one. I also signed up for a spinning fiber stashdown in July. I am going to spin the living daylights out of my stash. Or at least some of it. Definitely parts of it. Every little bit helps, right? It may not minimize the stash that much in terms of actual fiber content, but sheer fluffy volume has to count for something!

I am also going to knit sweaters. I have been been meaning to for a while and avoiding it like the plague, but a week or so ago I finally got up the gumption to make the ubiquitous February Lady Sweater like I'd been meaning to for the last year and a half, and you know what? Sweaters aren't all that scary. (Says the girl who just frogged about 33% of a Cecchetti because she screwed up a count somewhere. Oops!) I've queued up a bunch of cardigans, but there's not a whole lot of pullovers that I've found appealing. I'm thinking I may have to figure out how one of the various raglan generators work.

(If anyone has any recs in this area for patterns - I don't care if they're not free - I'm looking for a wide boat or scoop/sweetheart/square with cap or full-length sleeves and a long body...and a 50"-52" bust. Designers ARE getting better about including larger sizes (Mostly. If they're indie. ::scowls at Ella Rae and Louisa Harding, among others:: It's not my fault I'm 6'0" and busty!) so I'm not going to complain overmuch. It's killer when you find THE. Perfect. Pattern. And it stops at a 44" in bust, though.)

And finally, (back to the original topic,) there will be no more buying of yarn until Rhinebeck. I will refrain from acquiring anything other than what I've got coming in from the club. I will stand fast against wooly temptation! I will shop the stash! I AM ON A YARN DIET.

(Unless I get forcibly dragged to Webs against my will and find glorious charcoally grey worsted alpaca shoved into my hands with the instruction that an angora bunny will die for every second that I stand there with it unbought. Because clearly at that point it was meant to be. Think of the bunnies!)

I am a tower of strength and willpower.
fallingbooks: piles of books and yarn (fallingbooks)
I belong to a couple of yarn/fiber clubs. The idea being that you pay a set amount (I prefer the monthly pay-as-you-go ones, but most of them tend to be lump sum payments for spans of anywhere from three months to a year,) and you get a surprise package of yarn/fiber and accessories that are valued at x percent of your payment. Right now I'm in two sock yarn clubs and a fiber club.

I think they are in concept great things. Good for stash building, wonderful monthly surprises (if you don't know what you signed up for,) usually a decent bang for your buck, but they're also something of an 'I have money to burn' or 'I am extreeeeeeeeemely flexible about my knitting' kind of luxury. I don't know that I fall quite in either category at the moment.

For example, I love that my fiber club uses all kinds of different wools to send things out on. I probably wouldn't have tried Shetland as readily and I quite love it thanks to the club. But I don't know if I've just hit a bum run or what, but the last 3 our of four shipments just have not appealed to me. They were on fibers I already know (and have too much of) or they were colors that were decidedly not me, or both. I think that's a sign I need to drop that club, at least for the time being. I'm also getting a little control freak about my spinning and have very decided ideas about what I want to spend my time creating right now.

One sock club ends this month so while it's been fun, I'm glad I don't have to worry about re-upping. The other sock club I quite like as there's always at least two color options to pick from and the bases are delightful, except it's a little expensive because we get a pattern every month for socks. They're LOVELY patterns. Very intricate, very pretty. HOWEVER. I am pretty sure, based on my socky experiences, that they're are not going to fit my feet as written, and the really figural ones will not be (easily) adaptable. I'm not sure what I want to do about this one. There are sister clubs I can slip into to get the same colorways, but they're not quite the same with regard to yarn bases. I'm still mulling it over. I've only recently join and am still trying out their different bases, so I may hang in a little while longer before making any major moves. The club colors have been delightful the last few months, and I can always use the patterns for socks for other people.

---

I'm currently in a knitting phase at the moment with a couple shawls, a pair of socks, and a sweater on the needles at the moment. I'll post up pictures and pattern links when I get a bit further along.
fallingbooks: piles of books and yarn (fallingbooks)
So Red Heart is working with Debbie Stoller of Stitch 'n Bitch fame to create a new series of decent, critter-and-plant-based yards. So far there are three in the Stitch Nation line: Full 'O Sheep is a worsted, singly ply Peruvian wool, Alpaca Love is a worsted, multi-ply alpaca/wool blend, and Bamboo Ewe is a worsted, multi-ply wool/bamboo blend. I'm not sure how processed the bamboo is in the latter because there are a couple ways to do it, one retaining more bamboo-iness and the other not so much. They're brightly colored, have a decent handfeel (for the most part, I'm not wildly in love with Alpaca Love,) are readily available at larger JoAnn's, and (this is the big selling point) are under $5 a pop. "Affordable, premium yarns!" I've seen people trumpet. What a wonder!

Except, I kind of wonder if they're really that much more affordable. I picked a handful of standard workhorse yarns off of Webs, figured out the cost per yard (from their non-sale prices) for them, and compared them to the Full O' Sheep yarn.

I would like to note that this is not exhaustive, just things that I like and use as my basic everyday yarns, and that I'm not going near the more trendy and luxe stuff like Malabrigo, Madelinetosh, or Lorna's Laces. (This is not a knock on them - I love my LL swirl dk mittens! - but they're definitely not what I, a knitter on a budget, would consider for anything but special projects.)

So how did things shake out?

Breakdowns:

Single Ply
Stitch Nation Full O' Sheep: $5.00/155yds = $0.032/yd
Brown Sheep Lambs Pride: $7.90/190yd = $0.042/yd
Berroco Peruvia: $8.00/174yd = $0.045/yd

Multi Ply
Cascade 220: $7.00/220yd = $0.031/yd
Ella Rae Classic: $6.50/219yd = $0.030/yd
Knitpicks* Wool of the Andes: $2.19/110yd =$0.020/yd

*Knitpicks is available only at Knitpicks.com

It's basically a penny difference per yard either way. Peruvia is probably the closest equivalent, being both Peruvian wool and single ply, and the most expensive in comparison, but it's still not a ridiculous jump in price. I'll agree that every penny matters in these financially questionable times, particularly when you're working on a large project, but I think that the 'affordable' line is a bit overhyped. If you're really constrained that tightly by your budget, you'd be best served hands down looking at Knitpicks's Wool of the Andes, multi-plied-ness be damned.

I think where the Stitch Nation yarns really win out is in the area of accessibility. Nice, saturated color, wool yarn right there where anyone can get to it, touch it, squeeze it, and fall in love with it. That's fantastic for people who don't have a LYS nearby or are put off by ordering yarns online because they're not sure what they're getting into. And kudos for getting alpaca and plant-blend yarns in the broader knitter consciousness. I've certainly never seen the like before at JoAnn's. I hope they're embraced and that Red Heart takes heart (har har) from this and releases yarns of varying weight in this line. Sock, lace, dk, bulky. There's so much out there for people to explore once they're aware of the possibilities.

But I also hope that knitters who are wowed and amazed and fall in love with a better yarn than they're used to continue to explore and visit their LYS, or Webs, or Knitpicks and try some other new things. Because price isn't that insurmountable a barrier.
fallingbooks: (yarn)
Focus, Sarah! Focus!

I'm going to miss the Thatcher Park Sheep and Wool tomorrow in favor of doing other more necessary things, but that's probably a good thing as I'm already living in fear of Rhinebeck.

Tomorrow is World Wide Knit in Public day, so if you knit go out and sit on your front stoop with a WIP. Be proud of your knitting-nerdness! :)

I have started the ubiquitous February Lady sweater. I've never made a sweater before, much less one with buttonholes. I sense a disaster in the making. Hopefully it'll at least be entertaining. (I haven't frogged it yet!)

All of the pretty yarns I like at Webs that are on sale are freaking DK. Do I have any patterns in my queue that call for DK-weight yarn? Of course not. Worsted all the way!

I am coveting Schaefer Susan in Lillian Gilbraith like wo. (Yes, I still say that.) I need two skeins of it for the shawl I want to make, I just can't bring myself to fork over that much money for two skeins of yarn, you know? Even if it is economically equivalent to most other indie dyers and totally worth it. (Of course, my ongoing wibbling over the Margaret Meade, Beatrix Potter (which I KNOW I've seen in person, is white/green/aqua,) and Mary Leakey colorways does not help clarify things. ML would probably get the most use/enjoyment, but my literary roots crave Gilbreths.)

Booklist migrating here shortly. I find that by spending all my time knitting, I barely get any reading done. I need more hands.

Also - why the frelling hell is Illyana both a teenager and not dead? I mean, I get that it's Marvel - no one stays dead forever - but I'm just confused. Does this mean we're going to get Doug back, too?
fallingbooks: (yarn)
I've found that spinning, for me anyway, is a lot like playing Rock Band. For the first hour or so there's some attempt at artistry - or at least competency. After that it's a long downhill grind to meet a certain goal, and it might be best to pack it in for a while. That said, I find that I really, REALLY, like spinning yarn. It's fun. I love taking a multicolored braid of roving and seeing how it spins out. So far I seem to do best with a low whorl drop spindle (tried a top whorl, we don't like each other,) and I'm working with merino, which is apparently not a usual beginner fiber choice. Eh. I'm doing fine with it. I like it better than the Falkland I'm messing around with now. Eventually the plan is to get a wheel - I'm pretty sure I want a Schacht Ladybug, because it's supposed to be newbie friendly, but also carry me for a while afterward, but that's still a while out yet. (Also: red wheel OMG.)

My first attempt in progress:
Delusions of Spinning Grandeur

And relatively completed:

FirstYarn!

(The pictures are fail. I am not much a photographer, my apologies.)

I spun that mostly while sitting in Amtrak trains between NYC and DC. I definitely got some odd looks from passengers. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it as there's really not all that much of it. Maybe I'll just hang in a shadowbox on the wall somewhere as a trophy. Ideas?

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Sarah

January 2011

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