Random and Arbitrary Post

There’s been stitching and spinning ’round these parts, but first and foremost I have to thank everyone for the overwhelming response to Valeria! I’m seriously completely blown away. As of this morning, Valeria has been downloaded 697 times! And that, to me, is completely and utterly mindblowing. I have to admit: The idea of so many people even considering knitting my design is really, really cool. I cannot wait to see what other people do with the pattern.

Moving on, I need to show off my newest pretties from my favorite spindlemaker.

Oh, la, la….

That’s my new Two Tails blue mahoe and rosewood laminate (I think it’s Honduran rosewood on the whorl and East Indian rosewood for the shaft…could have them confused, though) sitting pretty on a pile of alpaca/merino/silk blend top from The Painted Sheep in “Merlot.” This is a total melding of the awesome right there: An awesome spindle with awesome fiber. A spinner’s dream.

She’s only the second laminate to come out of the Two Tails shop, and she’s pretty freaking sweet. Not much more needs to be said, there. Now, I just need to get that hat I’m knitting for the spindlemaker finished…

Next, I inherited this lovely as a “thank you” for the hours spent labeling, testing and demonstrating spindles before and during Fiber Twist.

So loving this spindle

That’s jobillo on hard maple, sitting on it’s own pile of pretty: four ounces of polwarth top from The Woolen Rabbit. I almost can’t believe no one picked this one up at Fiber Twist. She’s got a lovely rim weight,  but beyond that the whorl reminds me of a watercolor painting of the desert. So gorgeous, and so shiney and smooth! The jobillo polishes up like nothing I’ve ever seen before!

Also, holy polwarth! I’d heard good things about it but, wow. Spinning is believing. I see lots more polwarth on my horizon…it’s really a lot of fun to spin.

On the knitting front, I’m almost to the thumb gusset on my second Reading Mitt (Rav link).

Susie’s Reading Mitts, in Misti Alpaca Baby Suri Silk

These have been more trouble than I expected, but mostly because of my yarn choice. I didn’t like the fabric I got on the suggested needles, even though I got gauge. The silk content was making them too drapey. So, I went down needle sizes, which threw off the sizing completely. These are for my mom, who has bigger wrists and hands than I do, so they got ripped back a few times. But they’re on track now, and pretty mindless to knit.

I’m also on track to finish my Rhinebeck sweater in time. Woot!

Chunky yarn and cables are a recipe for a seriously quick knit

The pattern is Star Cross’d Love (Rav link), though I’ve made quite a few alterations, mostly to add length. The pattern was not made for someone with as long a torso as I have, but it’s a snap to alter, once you figure out what the hell you’re doing. The construction on this is so different from anything I’ve every encountered, which made it pretty engaging. It worked up super fast on US 10 needles with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky.  She just needs sleeves—which I will now have, thanks to a swap with another Ravelrer that added four more balls in the same dyelot to the stash…yay for Rav!—and a good blocking.

She’ll be sporting this button that I picked up at JoAnns a really long time ago.

I love me a good damask print

That button was just waiting for the perfect sweater to stick onto, and I think it’s found it’s match.

Three more weeks to get this one wrapped up, and then it’s Rhinebeck weekend! It’s getting here so fast! I need to get my skein entries ready to go soon and get them in the mail by next week, but I’m working feverishly to see if I can get one last-minute skein done in time to send along as well. I spent a lot of quality time with Evelyn this weekend trying to get there.

Not sure I’ll make it, but it never hurts to try.

(Actually, it does. Right wrist is unhappy with me from all that drafting. But, for gorgeous red merino/cashmere laceweight, it’s more than worth it.)

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Valeria

My Great Aunt Valeria was a trip and a half.

“Valeria”

She passed away a few years ago at the age of 96—a long life for a little Polish woman with abundant personality and a mouth that never stopped chattering. She was always known as CheCha, our variation on the Polish word for “aunt,” and while we had a CheCha Ruby and a CheCha Helen and a CheCha Katherine and a host of others, when you said you were going to CheCha’s house, it always meant Valeria.

Isn’t my photographer just crackerjack?

Valeria was a lifelong seamstress. She sewed her own dresses and wore one with heels everyday; I never saw her in a pair of slacks, and I never saw her in a store-bought dress. She was a little bitty thing, though, an always had a little something draped over her shoulders to keep out the chill.

Cashmere blend or Shetland…either works perfectly!

While she wasn’t a knitter, I couldn’t think of anyone more fitting to name this little shawlette after. I can totally see it wrapped around her as she flits around her yellow kitchen with the red countertops, making coffee and her famous apple turnovers.

Cables and lace…what’s not to love??

“Valeria” is a sweet little lacy cabled shawlette with a hint of a ruffle around the edge. Valeria is designed to complement your handspun, but looks just as great in a commercial yarn. It also works with subtle stripes and transitions as well as solid and semi-solid colorways.

I told Jenni to channel her inner Tyra and Heidi. She did a bang-up job!

Valeria is fully charted. Cables are worked over six stitches every eight rows. Mix that with a simple, four-row lace pattern, and you’ve got a pretty simple but effective knit on your hands.

Two of a kind

Valeria takes about 500 yards of light fingering weight. She’s shown here in my handspun Spunky Eclectic Shetland top in “Pomegranate” and Woolen Rabbit Kashmir in “Mystic Mountain Pine.”

Lacy, lacy cables

I’m totally psyched to have completed my 4! Ounce! Challenge! It was tough. It was angsty at times. It was a total learning experience. But I’m beyond thrilled with how my pattern looks, and I’m proud to have finished it.

We got a lot of great shots, but I think this may be my favorite one. Love, love, love this photo!

Valeria is now available as a free Ravelry download (Rav link), and I hope people enjoy knitting it as much as I enjoy offering it!

I’m completely blown away by the overwhelmingly positive response to my first published design. Thank you so much to everyone who’s already downloaded, faved, queued and commented. It totally made my day to see that positive response so quickly after all the hours of work!

Stripey goodness

Finally, I can’t thank my wonderful friends enough for their help. A million thanks to Jenni for being my awesome prototype model and to Kris for being my awesome photographer and to Emilee for joining us in Central Park and offering moral support while we played photo shoot. You guys are the best!

Little shawls in the big city

Dusting Off Some Cobwebs

Oh, hi there! Remember me? I write all sorts of drivel here from time to time, but I went on vacation for a week and this place got a little dusty. Sorry about that! But it’s back to the grind now, and since everyone loves pics, here’s me playing catch up. Cheers!  

My favorite-est fave was home from West-by-god-Virginia this past weekend. It was a whirlwind visit, but a good one. And we dragged her to Stitch ‘n’ Pitch in Bridgeport. It was chilly…thank goodness for handknits…which I forgot to wear. FAIL.

 

Kris and I took vacation together, and kicked off the week with a trip to the shoreline…starting with this little shack of a place in Stonington with a reputation for good seafood. The fried cod and lobster salad sliders did not disappoint!

  

Kris had a hankering for lobster. Poor little guy never stood a chance…

 

The beach at Watch Hill was closed, but a neighboring nature preserve wasn’t. It was gorgeous out there!

 

Went walked around in Mystic and checked out some of the little shops. Some were really cute. Some I could have spent a whole paycheck at. And some were just bizarre.

 

That same shop also had these odd fish ornaments. Very strange.

 

All in all, it was a simply perfect day!

 

The middle of the week was busy with yarn skeining and fiber dyeing, lunch with a very good friend and the first trip to the vet for the kittens…none of which I took photos of. Again, FAIL. So, we’ll just skip to the end of the week and the trip to NYC. This, my friend, is the one and only School Products.

 

And this is a table of cashmere at School Products.

 

And this is a table of tweedy cashmere at School Products. Now, WEBS will always be The Mecca. But School Products is truly a cashmere-lover’s dream.

 

Everybody left School Products with a little something. Jenni had this skein of cashmere stuffed in her bag and had the giant cone of wool tweed shipped back home. Who wants to carry that around New York?

 

And I scored these two gorgeous skeins of 100 percent cashmere laceweight singles, 500 yards total. Haruni, anyone? Or maybe a Swallowtail?

 

A short walk in the wrong direction took us to this sweet little restaurant a few blocks from School Products called Meli Melo. Little did we know we were in for one amazing lunch.

 

We all did the price fixe lunch, and I started with a tomato, mozerella and basil salad, one of my favorite things.

 

Next came the pork scallopini with mushrooms and creamed spinach. This was fabulous.

 

But things really got serious when we got to dessert. Chocolate and white chocolate mousse cake. Walked off a serious dairy overload after this one, but it was beyond worth it!

Our next stop was Habu. The things you find in Habu will blow your mind.

 

There are baskets everywhere. And in those baskets are wonderful, unique fibers and yarns that you'll never find anywhere else. It's a tiny little place, but more than worth the visit.

For instance, this is the craziest silk I've ever seen. Beyond fine and super shiny. It scares me a little.

And these are spools of pure silver. So beautiful.

Jenni fell for the on-sale cashmere.

And Emilee went for this buttery yellow cone. I think it's silk.

I went for silk and was tempted by the most beautiful bamboo I've ever seen. But, in the end, I went for cotton. Who would have guessed? But it's the softest cotton I've ever felt.

And since it was Habu, I had to go for something a little out there. This is a wool and paper yarn. I'm so intrigued by it, and can't wait to see what it can do!

Our last planned stop was in Central Park, where we sat for a little while, then had a little photo shoot for my 4! Ounce! Challenge design. My pattern will be published this week (woot!) so, I'll have more on that later.

We found a little burger joint to chill in for a while, since we missed our early train (no surprise there). Then we made our way to Grand Central and had beer and wine at one of the bars there before grabbing the 8:35 back to New Haven. Another great day!

Saturday night, I went to the spindlemaker's place to weigh, test, tag and inventory all the spindles for Sunday's Fiber Twist. It took five hours. But, he did some beautiful work and most of the spindles only needed minor adjustments. Of course, I didn't actually take any photos at Fiber Twist itself. Again, FAIL.

And that was it! Whirlwind week, but a good one nonetheless. And stay tuned for more on my first published design (woot!) later this week.

Long Weekends Are For…

…taking a breath—a deep, long breath—and letting the stress melt away. I had a pretty horrific week last week, so the extra day this weekend was really welcome.

Long weekends are also for doing awesome things with your faves. On Saturday, the girls and I went and tooled around in Massachusetts on an absolutely beautiful day. Our first stop was the Yankee Candle flagship store, which is an event and a  half if you’ve never experienced it. Votives were a dollar (score!) and I got a pretty new double wick candle for the apartment. But there’s so much crap to check out in that place, that I didn’t even remember to get a photo of the actual candles.

For instance, you get attacked by Lego robot monsters…

AHHHHHHH!!!!!

…and you get to model the latest in pirate fashions.

Argh…

You get to interact with wildlife in its native habitat…

Tracy makes a friend.

…and, of course, there’s cocktails!

What happens when you give the doctor the camera? Your mini ‘rita Xmas ornament pic comes out all blurry.

The entertainment did leave something to be desired…

Animatronic rednecks. WHY??

…and I’m really not sure what this is all about.

Yup, that right there is a giant cow catching a Frisbee. I don’t really get it…

They did have a fabulous kitchen and cooking area, complete with tasty samples of dips and salsas and barbeque and cheese-filled crepes…

Sampling the salsa

…and I was sorely tempted to buy a pastry blender, but resisted. Ah, a brief flash of willpower!

They had these really comfy hammock chairs to try out…

Ahhh, the relaxation….

…and a whole Halloween section. I love Halloween…

The Rolling Bones…hehe…

…and Tracy was literally a kid in a candy store when she found a chocolate and candy coated pretzel.

Love the lighting

Kris found this appropriate and giggle-inducing sign for her apartment door…

Kitten tested, Yoda approved

…and we decided to let Tracy drive, but she didn’t get too far.

All my friends drive the low rider…

After Yankee Candle, we drove down to Northampton and had lunch at Fitzwilly’s, complete with a round of Arnold Palmers and, of course, a seafood pie for Tracy.

Then we hit up WEBS and WEBS Beads. As per usual, I forgot to take pics. Something about yarn fumes makes it impossible for me to remember to pull out the camera while in there. But I was exceedingly well-behaved. I scored another US 6 Addi Lace, since the one I already have is laden with a scrappy scarf for an indefinite time period and I have a couple projects on the horizon that call for a US 6.

I also scored a skein of Madelinetosh Lace in “Oxblood,” which is way darker in person than on the Web site, for a Geodesic Cardi (Rav link).

And I picked up a copy of the Austin Hoodie pattern (Rav link), because I completely fell in love with the sample they had in the store. They didn’t have enough of the Tosh Merino Light in the colorway I wanted, though, so I’ll pick it up at a later date.

Clearly, I have a thing for Connie Chang Chinchio patterns. I’m not afraid to admit it. I love her design style.

And that’s all I bought. See how good I was!

On the way back home, we made a layover in Longmeadow for a harrowing and hilarious gelato stop.

A dairy fix to end the day. Fab!

Massachusetts is really the poster child for how not to design rotaries on your local roads. For serious. But the gelato was delicious.

I had a quiet day on Sunday with Madori and the kitties and my 4! Ounce! Challenge! design, topped off by a long walk at the park and a visit to the spindlemaker’s house to walk his puppies . No pics yet, but I’m actually to the edging already. Go me! And I think I’ve got my edging issues all worked out, too. Woot! 

If I can get through the last few, extremely long rows without incident, I should be ready to take photos and start laying out my pattern by early next week. Get your fancy camera ready, Kris!

Yesterday, Madori and I visited with my mom for a few hours, then returned home to find that Tilly had ripped into the sealed bag of Cascade 220 reserved for Girasole (Rav link) and had skattered the skeins around the house, completely mutilating one of them. Thanks, Til. Glad to see she’s back to her old, lovey, non-aggressive, yarn-sucking self.

Busy week this week because next week is VACATION! And I desperately need it. Lots of writing to get done at work before then, though.

And my favorite-ist fave is coming for a visit next weekend!! Yay!!