Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Serpentine Mitts at the Mummers Parade


Saturday night was the annual Mummer's Parade in Hagerstown. This is the biggest parade of the year in this area and usually has well over 100 units and lasts about 3 hours. Our Farm Toy Collectors Club has had a float in the parade for the last 7 years and this one was no different. The weather was clear, cool and windy with highs in the upper 50's. There were nine of us on the float this year and I knitted right up until the time that we started down the route. I can't wave and knit.

It was pretty cool so the the Serpentine Mitts by Miriam Felton came in very handy. I took my heavy gloves to put on over the mitts but I didn't need them, the mitts kept me warm enough. I had them on this morning when I stopped at McDonald's to get my ice tea and the lady who always takes my money said she could really use something like that so I had her try one on (there was no one behind me) and told her I'd make her a pair. I plan to start them tonight.

The thing on my left shoulder in the photo is a gryphon puppet by A Midsummer Knights Dream. He's my constant companion at events like this where he attracts quite a lot of attention. His name is Andy Gryphon and we adopted him at the MD Renn Fest about 6 or 7 years ago. I take him when we go to shows to sell pedal tractor tickets and he really draws a crowd. I'm sorry that's such a bad pic of him, he's got his head hanging down so that you can't see his face or his glowing orange eyes.

I think we all had a great time at the parade but I for one am glad it's over for this year. Now if we can just get through our toy show in November without any major hiccups I'll be able to relax until it's time to get ready for the spring show in April.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Serpentine Mitts Finished, Beginning Cascading Diamonds

serpentine4Miriam Felton has done it again. She's created another beautiful pattern and given it to us for free. Here are my version of her Serpentine Mitts.

Pattern: Serpentine Mitts by Miriam Felton
Yarn: Jojoland Melody Superwash
Needles: Size 1.5 dpns
Modifications: none

This yarn works great with this pattern because of the very long color changes. The subtle color shifts add interest without distraction. They even match despite no effort on my part. I made them on Friday and Saturday while sitting at a steam and craft show in McConnellsburg, PA. I will be making more of these as gifts for friends and family. I used less than half a skein of yarn and I bought 4 total at Stitches East so I have plenty of yarn. I may vary the cable pattern on some of them so they're not all alike. I hope Miriam doesn't mind.serpentine5

I also started Cascading Diamonds Scarf by Deborah Miller on Saturday night while my hubby was watching the tractor pull. I didn't relish sitting on a bleacher in the cold night air getting my ear drums pounded by roaring engines so I opted to sit in the car with my knitting and iPod. I moved the car under a street light and opened the moon roof and got a good start on the scarf. I worked more on it Sunday. It's beautiful and easy to follow but I'm a slow knitter so my progress is a little disappointing.

cascading_diamonds2This will be an incredibly soft scarf and I may have to snag it for myself because it will match my barn coat. Here's the stats:

Pattern: Cascading Diamonds by Deborah Miller
Yarn: Malabrigo Lace Weight Applewood
Needle: Size 4 Addi Turbo Lace circ

I know its nuts to use a circular needle on something that's only 6" wide but I wanted the sharp points of the Addis. I've be practicing knitting backwards on the wrong-side row just so I don't forget what I learned from Candace Strick at Stitches. It goes a little slower than turning and purling but it's really giving me a good opportunity to imprint that technique into my gray matter.cascading_diamonds1

In between I continue to knit baby socks for the ever increasing number of babies that will be entering my life in the next nine months.

We're discussing the possibility of driving to Santa Fe for Christmas this year. We'd be renting a van and there would be six of us. I should get lots of knitting done. Lord knows I'll need something to keep me sane.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Just a "Smidge" of Silk, Wool & Pearl


I don't know how many of you are aware but there's a tempest in a teacup going on on Ravelry about something called a Pidge. If you click that link you'll see a completely redesigned website. The company changed everything after the tempest began in an effort to save face. Their original site made all sorts of ridiculous claims about their product and how it's produced in an attempt (in my opinion) to justify the outrageous price. The prices for this bit of cashmere and wood ranged from $275 to $425. Read Quenouille's blog post about the company's claims for more information.

A group was started on Ravelry and everyone was encouraged to come up with their own "smidge" designs. The photo above is my first attempt. It's just a simple seed stitch but the beautiful silk/wool yarn and the antique pearl buttons really make it special. It's light weigh so it can be worn indoors to protect from drafts or just as a fashion accessory. My friend Jennifer modeled it for me and I think it looks great on her.

Here's the stats:
Yarn: Glenfiddich Wool in silk/wool
Pattern: Row 1 - S1,*k1, p1, repeat from * for 21 stitches. Row 2 - S1,*p1, k1, repeat from * across. Repeat rows 1 and 2 to desired length minus 1.5". Make two button holes. Repeat rows 1 and 2 for 1.5 inches. Bind off. Sew on buttons. Different yarns will require different tactics as far as the number of stitches cast on, stitch pattern, etc.

This was a quick knit that required less than 110yds of yarn and I plan to make more for Christmas from a variety of yarns.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Stitches East 2007

stitches2My friends Terry and Janis and I had a great time at Stitches East. Everything seemed to go really well. We left right on time and got there in 1 hour and 15 minutes. We all took way too much stuff as you can see.

Hotel: The Days Inn Inner Harbor was easy to get to and turned out to be a great place to stay. It's got to be less than 100yds from the front door of the convention center. The staff was very kind and professional, the room was more than adequate with a frig, microwave, coffee maker, iron and ironing board, hair dryer. We'll be staying there again next year.

Classes: My Thursday afternoon class was "The Art of Knitting Backward" taught by Candace Strick. I loved it! She's a wonderful teacher who really knows her subject and was extremely well prepared. You could tell she's taught the class many times but still has a wealth of enthusiasm for the subject. She was patient, funny and kind. I highly recommend the class.

My Friday morning class was "A Sampling of Stitches" with Margaret Fisher. Just like Candace she was well prepared and experienced with the subject. She had swatches of each stitch pattern as well as variations and she also had garments made using the stitches that we could look at. We covered Brioche, Twisted Traveling Stitch, Smocking, and Elongated Stitches (Indian Cross and Seafoam). I also highly recommend this class.

The Market:
What can I say? After we left I said that I felt the need to stare at a white wall for a while to try to calm my senses. There was yarn made from yak, musk ox, suri alpaca, cashmere, camel, merino, cotton, alpaca, organic wool/cotton/alpaca, corn, soy, silk, stainless steel, plastic, paper, hemp, sterling silver, seaweed, and others that I missed or can't remember. There was every brand under the sun. The most expense yarn I saw was Tilli Thomas silk with Swarovski crytals for $132 a skein. Next would be the Qiviut for $60. These things were not to be mine however. I was interested in sock yarn and lace.

graceful1My Purchases: I bought two skeins of Graceful Lace Yarn from the Skaska booth. Each is 903 yds. This is the Summer Dusk Colorway. It has long repeats and I'm looking forward to finding the perfect pattern to show it off at it's best.

I bought 4 skeins of Jojoland Melody Superwash Sock. This yarn and the Graceful Lace were both new to me. I had never seen either one before. The Melody also has a long repeat and the sample socks shown in the booth have an ombre effect.
Probably for socks though I wouldn't rule out some sort of baby item. I don't know if this yarn would be suitable for a BSJ but I might just swatch for it to see how in looks.

Of course, I had to get a skein of Socks that Rock so I chose the Oregon Red Clover Honey skein in mediumweight. Later I picked up 2 skeins of Koigu KPPPM for socjojoland1ks but back at the room I noticed how well they compliment the STR so those may wind up being used together, perhaps for a Chevron Scarf. It's hard to tell from these pics but they really do go well together and they both match my barn coat.str_redclover3
I found some lovely antique pearl buttons for my smidge, a set of Addi 4" size 0 dpns, and a pattern for Malabrigo Lace. I don't have a full skein of that right now but I can get it at my LYS. The owners of Malabrigo were there handing out little skeins of laceweight. The tag says 470 yds. but I don't know whether that's right or not. It wound up into a 2" ball. If it is 470 yds. that's enough to make some of the scarves in Victorian Lace Today.

malabrigo What do you think? Is that little ball really 470 yds.?

Summing up, I would have to say that our trip was a great success. We had a great room, great parking, great food, great beer, great coffee, great weather, and great shopping.

We met old friends and made new friends including a lot of the ladies that we've been gabbing with on Ravelry. I found myself with the almost uncontrollable urge to stand up in class and ask how many of my fellow students were on Ravelry and what their user names are.

Amazingly, I talked to some people who have never heard of it. Those poor souls who don't use the internet, they give me pain when I think of all they're missing out on.