Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Woe is Me, Not Enough Stash

As I mentioned below, I've totally lost my mind, and signed up for 2 lace knit-a-longs, Spring Shawl Surprise, which starts January 1, and Secret of the Stole ii, which starts, I think, January 16. Both projects require approximately 1500 yards of yarn, or .85 miles of yarn per project. I spent Saturday at the shop contemplating my choices, but the thought of winding 1500 yards of Zephyr off of the cone at 6:00 p.m., after a day of boyfriends, husbands, and nephews coming in and saying, "um, I need some yarn . . . uh, for a scarf maybe, I dunno . . .", wasn't appealing. I must have something in my stash, mustn't I?

So, after a hearty meal with the Tall Boyfriend at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, I decided to visit my stash, and spent some quality time with it. The doors of the closet flew open - and BOOM! It was an explosion, a tidal wave of yarn:
I didn't suffer any injuries, although I felt like I was visiting a stranger - is this all I have?
Ok, I know, I know, it LOOKS like a lot of yarn, but when your stash doesn't have what you're looking for at that particular moment in time, is it really a big enough stash at all?

Here is my laceweight - as you may be able to make out - there's great stuff in there. 880 yards of Black Bunny, 1400 yards of a lacey lamb like thing with some cashmere thrown in for good measure (the squishy red balls), 3200 yards of merino/tencel from Skaska (in red), 3200 yards of lovely brown cashmere from Hunt Valley Cashmere, Lisa Souza alpaca, 1500 yards but very variegated, 3200 yards of a purple/red merino from Cherry Tree Hill, 900 yards of Laci from Blue Moon in a gold colorway, 1200 yards of golden bamboo from Habu, 1200 yards of mohair from Habu, a variegated Shetland, 880 yards of alpaca in a cream color, some left over pink Misti Alpaca, another big hunk of Mohair, that I don't even remember what it is, and I don't have the label anymore, some Sea Silk, and 1500 yards of skinny skinny Yak/Silk.
And then there's my Anne - always suitable for a laceweight project, but only 1150 yards per 2, and I do have mostly twins in there.

See, my stash is too small - I don't have 1500 yards of anything. Ok, I could chop down those big hanks of 3200 yards - but I know there's going to be a gigantic project I'll need it for (i.e., I have the red merino/tencel saved for Frost Flowers and Leaves from Gathering of Lace, and I think the cashmere is for Forest Path Stole), and if that gigantic project doesn't happen, well, then I'd have to find something else to do with the rest of the hank - what? knit with the same yarn twice? Nah. And, I just think the variegated, Lisa Souza and Cherry Tree, is too big of a risk for a mystery project.

So, what did I learn from my long visit with my stash. Here are a few things:

a. I'm just going to have to break down, and darn, buy yarn for the 2 projects in January;
b. I have too much sock yarn, and I'm never going to knit it all:
Socks that Rock, Black Bunny, Mountain Colors, Opal, Online, miscellaneous Shetland from MSW, on and on - how many pairs of socks are there that are never going to be born - 19 or 20. I know that 19 to 20 skeins of sock yarn is miniscule to many stashes out there, but for someone who doesn't really knit socks . . . foolish, no more sock yarn for me.
c. Where's the sweater quantity? I stash very little sweater quantity yarn - and I think, the next time I'm on the fiber festival circuit, rather than picking up the random sock yarn, I'm going to shop for sweater quantity in those homespun yarns that I love, like the Alpaca I used for Wicked. Not pictured, but in the stash, is sweater quantity in Morehouse Merino Bulky, and 2 sweaters in progress - one in Koigu, and one in Karabella marble. The Koigu sweater my be ripped in favor of becoming Jeannie from the new Knitting, and the marble, well, it's such an easy knit, I'll get back to it someday.
d. I don't have as many unfinished projects as I thought I did - in my knitting bag downstairs, I have a half dozen, at least, unfinished socks, or unpaired socks. As far as sweaters - I have Martha, in progress and definitely to be finished, the Koigu and the Karabella. I have a Rowan shrug in its final lap, and a Blue Sky Alpaca Silk Shrug, also extremely straight, boring knitting - all will be finished in time, except . . . for the socks. So, sock yarn - I love looking at you - but I'm done with you. As you can see, I've done careful analysis, and you're voted out of the stash.
e. I have a lot of leftover yarn from finished projects, and I have Merrill's castoffs, many miscellaneous skeins of Silk Garden. I need to find a good mix and match project . . . something to think about.

All that stash - and, it's like walking into my closet full of clothes and saying, "I have absolutely nothing to wear." Feeling guilty about my gluttony, I lovingly returned the stash to its moth proof bags, organized by weight, and color: Don't feel too bad for it - I'm sure I'll find projects for that "meager" amount of yarn someday . . .

Friday, December 21, 2007

Not a Nut, But a Swan

It may be Nutcracker season, but here is the debut of my Swan Lake - ta da!
I had never really been interested in knitting stoles. It seemed really boring - in fact, it was really boring - Kimono Shawl, which was really a stole, was a snore. This, however, was a fantastic knit. The point at the beginning was a challenge - I really had to keep my eye on the chart, as there's really no repeat.
I love the wing - if you remember from my Icarus knit, I love shawls that make me feel winged, about to take flight, and pretty, like a butterfly.

So while the Manos blanket is growing, and Growing and GROWING, there's only so much garter stitch you can do without turning your brain to mushy mush, so I've signed up for 2 lace knit-a-longs starting in January, Spring Shawl Surpise and Secret of the Stole ii. Spring Shawl promises 10 different stitch patterns, 1500 yards of yarn, and patterning on both sides - definitely not a humdrum experience. Secret of the Stole II is a themed knit-a-long, with a "hint" each week as to the theme of the stole, again, another 1500 or so yards. Why 2 knit-a-longs? you ask - wasn't one enough? Actually, there was supposed to be three, but, alas, I have been black balled from Secret of Bad Nauheim.

I've never been black balled from anything - it's really a blow to my little ego, and a strange source of shame. I feel like someone took away my marbles, or picked me last for the kickball team. And how did I end up on this road to exile? A series of very unfortunate events. I missed signing up for Secret of Chrysopolis. I was sad, as I watched everyone's shawl grow, and bloom, and become more and more beautiful every day. So, when the pattern was released for purchase, I bought it, using my paypal account, on the first day. The website is in German, but I figured I knew my way around, because it's just a ZenCart template. My officemate, however, is convinced, that I somehow hit a button that said, "Release all of my information all over the web, please." The day after I received the pattern, I got an email from the proprietor of the website, "What is this? You get the pattern, and take back your money? What kind of shopping is this?" Huh? I thought, take back my money? I checked my paypal account - there were over 40 unauthorized transactions on my paypal account. Noticing that my account had been compromised, Paypal had reversed all of the transactions. I checked my bank account - overdrawn - and going very down down down the drain. And fees! Once all was said and done, I ended up with no money for over a week while Paypal and the bank investigated the fraudulent transactions, and I'm still in negotiations with my bank over the $600 in fees.

In the meantime, the proprietor of the website then banned me from Secret of Bad Nauheim, and sent out an email to the list serve, with all of my email addresses - I must be a trickster if I have multiple email addresses, and informing everyone that I had welched on the $7.20 transaction. Obviously, I resent the money, hopefully she got it. I received an email a few days later, completely in German, that left me befuddled, obviously, since I can't even spell aufertersein. I emailed it to a friend of mine who does speak some German, and she said that the email was sympathetic to my paypal misery, but wanted to know if my account was restored so that she could process the order for the wool. What wool? I wrote back, in English, that I hadn't ordered any wool, and again apologizing for any problems caused by the fraud on my account, the time delay in receiving her emails, and the language barrier. I hope we're all settled up, because I really truly would never steal a pattern.

In the end, the pattern ended up costing me $307.20 - the $300 in fees that my bank does not feel like it should reimburse me (it refunded half), and the original $7.20.

And now the real dilemna - do I knit it. I love it, but do I really knit it? It seems like its nothing but bad luck now. But it's so pretty - do I knit it?

While I struggle with this dilemna, I also really love Anne Hanson's new pattern,the Irtfaa Faroese Lace Shawl, like Ene, eene, une, ena, I don't know how to pronounce it, but I love it -

I think my chocolate brown cashmere would be lovely. But, again, a dilemna - I have to use my newly restored paypal account to buy it - argh!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Anyone Want to Commit Me Now?

Stop everything! Mad knitter at work. All ongoing projects must cease and desist - insane project underway!!!

So, I was happily knitting along on this (which in and of itself is a knitting crime - I am THISCLOSE to finishing Swan Lake):
Martha, from Rowan Studio 2, in my new favorite yarn - Manos Silk. Yes, you heard me - Manos SILK - a wool silk blend, that comes in around 4-6 stitches per inch. This single ply is smooth smooth smooth, and feels like budda. I couldn't have been happier knitting Martha.
Here's a closeup of the lovely cable:
This yarn is perfect - perfect for fair isle (see mittens below), perfect for cables (see that detail!), and perfect for sweaters - it's really the perfect weight. Could I say PERFECT one more time????

So once you've found perfect, why have I abandoned this project in favor of another. Because madness is at work I say! There is no other explanation other than a bit of the crazies have hit me. The tall boyfriend and I were watching t.v. the other night, snuggled under the blanket his grandma had crocheted for him years ago - a blanket built for one. Wouldn't it be nice, he said, if we had a blanket that was big enough for both of us? I sat up - the wheels began to turn. I can do that, I can knit that. I saw Rambling Rows, I saw the BIG VERSION, I had big visions - I have a big boyfriend after all.

So, while I was working at the shop on Saturday, before the mad rush that was the crazy holiday shopping day at Rosie's, I started pulling Manos off the shelf - Brick, Stellar, Gold, Navy, and Olive. The Stellar, Gold and Navy are for him - Chargers colors. The Brick and Olive appeal to my taste (hmmm - notice that it's the same olive as the Silk Manos above - oh Martha, I will not forsake you forever).

It's fabulous! It's gigantic! It's expensive!! It's totally insane!

The only thing more crazy than this blanket - that John C. Reilly was nominated for a best actor Golden Globe for Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Both make me speechless.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Being at Stitches for four days this year was crazy. We got there at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, and worked throughout the day getting the booth ready. While Blue Moon was just down the aisle, and Brooks Farm was right in my face, shopping was the last thing on my mind. Around 6:30, I went to get coffee, and noticed a long and winding line had formed outside the convention floor. Is Springsteen in town? I thought, and realized that everyone was in line - for yarn! It was crazy. We weren't even finished with our pricetags. There was a mad rush, a frenzy. And then, a calm. I calmly purchased my Brooks Farm yarn, knowing exactly what I was going to make (see Gertrude below). I eyed up the Blue Moon booth, but shrugged, eh, not this year. I don't need anything else, I thought. I'm done shopping.

Right. Every day something new caught my eye - Friday was Habu, Saturday I got sucked in to Blue Moon, Sunday, it was Lisa Souza. Skaska was in there somewhere too. And, of the Rosie's bunch, I seemed to be the only one accumulating purchases. Isn't anyone else going to buy something???? Am I the only yarn slut in town? And then it happened - it must have been just the right kick from Flippy, but Courtney finally got the bug - late Saturday - she had to have Shadyside Farm. Must Have Shadyside! Shadyside is a mom and pop kind of farm - the yarn is homespun and hand dyed. Kind of hidden by Webs, dwarfed a bit by the Yarn Barn of Kansas, mom and pop Shadyside had a lovely booth - and Courtney must have visited them ten times, trying to pick out her perfect fair isle combination. I admired the yarn - but frankly, I was broke - mohair and bamboo from Habu, laceweight from Blue Moon, Skaska and Lisa Souza, sweater quantity from Brooks Farm - I stepped away from the yarn - and was more than a bit jealous when Courtney made her final choices. Oh Shadyside, would we ever meet again?

Of course we would - at Rhinebeck - Pop Shadyside even remembered Kate and I - in the midst of conversation with Pop, I spied the sale bin - I swooped in - and grabbed the last five skeins of their homespun Alpaca - in a colorway called Pear. Five skeins, 220 yards a skein, 1100 yards. 1100 yards makes me nervous. I generally make a medium, and need at least 1200 yards. Anything else is cutting it close. But, rather than let my lovely Shadyside languish in my stash while I contemplated what to do with almost sweater quantity yarn, I hopped on Ravelry, and found Wicked from the very talented ladies at Zephyr Style
Wicked is a perfect pattern.
Knit from the top down, there's NO SEWING! And, like Ribbi Cardi from Chicknits, there are lots of options. Do you want long sleeves or short sleeves? Do you want to add extra shaping? Sure, throw it in! How about a pocket? Love it - love the options! And, of course, the ability to try as you go.
The collar is a faux cable, and the same detail is on the cuff. The cuff in the pattern is about 2 inches long, I decided to go for four. I intended for it to hit just below the elbow, but it turned out a little shorter than the picture in my head, but that's ok.
I debated the pocket. To pocket, or not to pocket? I pocketed, and I'm pleased that I did.
And the yarn, sigh. Isn't it pretty? And it's cozy cozy. For the most part, the twist is consistent, but there are a few flubs along the way - but I love them - it's like a homemade Valentine's card, or fresh baked cookies straight out of the oven. There's something very real about it - the flaws make it accessible. I once dated this sculptor - he made all of these crazy pieces in different mediums - wood, concrete, slab, etc. When he showed me his work, I had very little to say about the abstract constructs, um, it's nice? So, he pulled out a very small piece - a figure lounging on a rock. Smugly, he said, maybe this is more accessible for you. Obviously, this guy didn't last long - but that's kind of the way I feel about this yarn - nothing fancy, nothing pretentious - just pretty, homemade yarn. And yes, I'd take the little figure on the rock over the towering pile of rocks anyday.

Friday, November 16, 2007

So, I've been quietly working away at MS3/Swan Lake. I say quietly, I guess, not because I'm oompahing or banging on the drum while I'm knitting other projects, it's just that this project is completely stationary - the chart is practically attached to the arm of my couch, there are beads all over my living room floor, in the crevices, as my dog as turned over my bead cup several times, and the big ol' ball of yarn is not portable. So, while other things can be held up, and I can sqeal, "looky looky!" this is a solitary project, that I plug away every night.
I was never really intrigued with the idea of knitting a stole - the idea of repeating a pattern over and over for what would seem like miles and miles - and I was therefore really surprised at what a challenge this has been (at least in the beginning), and how it's strangely different from other lace knitting that I've done. First, at least in the beginning, I was completely wedded to the chart. There's no pattern repeat, no markers. Each row is a different. And . . .


I could go on about my stole, and the differences between the stole v. the shawl - but I got completely distracted this weekend, and I have to show you what I made!!!!
Working at the store on Saturday is so distracting . . . a new yarn comes in, and I MUST HAVE IT. And, what is this yummy, soft, jeweltoned beauty? I'll let you guess.
I was so in love with the multi, that I did the popover part with it - I don't love that, and I'm going to rip it back and knit it in the solid. Hopefully, I won't have second mitt syndrome, and I'll finish the other over the holiday weekend.

Speaking of the holiday weekend, I'm going home to my parent's for four days, and in my head, I'm bringing every unfinished project in my house, and I'm going to finish them ALL!!! I'm going to finish Tangled Yoke, MS3, Wicked (which I haven't shown you), four pairs of socks, the Bird's Nest Shawl, and my Koigu sweater. I guess when I go to pack, and I could fill 2 suitcases with unfinished projects, I'll have a large dose of reality, and settle on what I'm really going to finish. Or not . . . and start something totally new . . .

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Brooks Farm Bonanza

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Brooks Farm's Four Play? It's pretty. It's warm. It's soft. It's so pretty. It's got a lot of give, and it's easy on the hands. It's squishy. And, have I mentioned it's really really pretty?

So, first up is the Ribby Pulli from Chic Knits. I think I got this stash of Brooks Farm at Maryland Sheep and Wool this past May. This is a great, easy to follow pattern, with many options - you can make it with short sleeves and a hood, you can make with a pocket, you can make it with a crew neck, you can make it with a funnel neck. The pattern has many pictures, so you don't have to guess what the different combination of options is going to look like. And, drum roll - there's no sewing! And, it's perfect for a yarn that is slightly variegated. This sweater, like my Wallaby, is sure to become a staple of my winter wardrobe.

And, another soon to be staple Gertrudefrom Smith Island Pattern Factory. Courtney knit the original in Cascade 220, a very durable, dependable option - I think I snazzed it up a bit by knitting it in a lovely green (hmmmm . . . maybe we've seen this color before? It's actually slightly lighter than the Wallaby) Brooks Farm Fourplay. I told myself at Stitches that I wasn't going to buy anything - ha, silly me - we were right across the aisle from Brooks Farm. Since the original Gertrude made the trip to Maryland, it seemed like the perfect marriage of yarn and pattern. And, voila - the vintage button lady was right down the aisle as well. You can't really see the buttons in the picture, but they are fantastic.

Another pattern that worked particularly well with a slightly variegated yarn - it's knit in one piece, starting at the back, casting on stitches for the sleeves, and then working the fronts separately. Only 2 seams - you can't beat that! Well, I guess you can - see above, no seams!

I did make one little oopsy with this sweater. Again, like the Cobblestone pullover, even thought it was for me, I was a bit paranoid that it wouldn't fit. Because it's knit in one piece, and because there's that ribbing in the midst of all that garter - the thing looked like a shrunken doll jacket - so when I went to block it, the measurements call for the back to be 20 inches, and the 2 fronts, 10 each. Because the yarn is so stretchy, I blocked the back at 22, and the 2 fronts at 11. Just because a yarn can do something, doesn't mean it should do something. Now, well, it's a little less fitted than the original, and I think I took a little bit away from the yarn - the fabric seems thinner than my other Brooks' sweaters, it's definitely lost some weight. But, it's still soft, and its still, have I mentioned -- really really pretty!

Friday, November 02, 2007

I've always been a bit wary of the Secret knit-a-longs, both they Mystery Shawl or the Mystery stole variety. On one hand, the mystery, the clues, the anticipation of seeing what its going to grow into, that's all pretty exciting. And, at least with Goddess Knits (Mystery Shawl), and Pink Lemon Twist (MS1, MS2 and MS3), you can take a look at their old patterns, and it's a pretty good bet that they'll always turn out a good design. On the other hand, I'm a firm believer in picking the right yarn for the right project, and if you don't know what the project is going to look like, it's a crap shoot.

But, even knowing what the project is going to look like, it's still easy to make a mistake in choosing the right yarn.
The forest path stole has been on my list of things to knit for some time. I had Carol dye me up some Black Bunny laceweight in a color called Acorn - I saw fall, I saw a forest - all nutty and golden. But, when I cast on Forest Path, the seed stitch looked like, well, mud. So, a tossed my 2200 yards aside, mad at the yarn - how dare you knit up like that? You have foiled my project!

Having been one of the earlier Ravelers, I got to see MS3 grow over the weeks into what would become Swan Lake. I loved it - I love the point on one end, the wing on the other - it looks simply ethereal on (I have to admit, it does look kind of goofy blocking - it really needs that wrap affect to do it justice). Instead of just buying the pattern when it came out, I signed up for Secret of the Stole, and was convinced that it would be equally as fantastic.

I won't show you pictures of my Secret of the Stole - I'm just not loving it. The yarn I chose, a rust, slightly marled alpaca, just isn't right. And, I'm not going to say anything negative about the pattern - it's very well written, the charts are easy to read, and a lot of people are really loving knitting it. I, however, knew from the beginning of the first clue that I wasn't in love with it - I just don't like the finlike way it started - I like butterflies and winged creatures, not sharks, or dolphins, or other fin-ny creatures. So, it's simply a matter of taste - and I abandoned it, and bought Swan Lake.

After buying Swan Lake, I purchased this yarn, and these beads at Stitches.
From Skaska, its 1600 yards of laceweight yak/silk. Someone else in blogland mentioned that the yarn has a very distinctive smell - I haven't noticed the smell, but when I cast on, I did find that it's slightly thinner than Zephyr, and doesn't have any fibers that will bloom. While I had this idea in my head that I wanted Swan Lake to shimmer, to be a silver color, I had again picked the wrong yarn. I could have gone down a needle size, but the beads looked really bulky on this yarn, and this yarn just doesn't seem to want to do a lot of stockinette. So, I tossed it aside - and revisited my Black Bunny.

I really didn't want to use a variegated yarn - I didn't think the lace motifs would show. But, it was kind of just sitting there, and I just had a "huh" idea in my head, and I cast on - figuring that if it looked like crap, I would just abandon it again.

But, voila - I love it. You can't really see the beads in the pictures, but they're gold, and really compliment the yarn.

And, I'm not any less excited about knitting it than had I been if I were receiving the clues on a weekly basis - I can't wait to get to the wing. And, Secret of the Stole has not soured me on secret knit-a-longs - just the chance that I'll like something as much as Swan Lake, or the ever emerging Secret of Chrysopolis (which I am still kicking myself for not signing up for!), is enough to roll the dice and take a chance. So, I've got myself signed up for Spring Surprise, and Secret of Bad Nauheim - I think I'll stick with tried and true Zephyr, though - foolproof!

And what about all of my purchases from Stitches and Rhinebeck - I do have a Brooks Farm sweater on the needles, pics coming soon. And, I feel some quality time coming with my stash, as I assess my winter knitting - secrets or no secrets, this winter is going to be exciting!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Breaking the Boyfriend Curse - A Formula

So, I gave the tall man the sweater on Monday, and here it is Thursday, and can you believe it, he hasn't dumped me. Take that boyfriend curse!
So, when exactly do you knit your boyfriend a sweater? In this case, it was kind of, what came first, the sweater or the boyfriend -- I had been wanting to knit the Cobblestone Sweater from the minute I got my hands on the Fall Interweave, and really, I was just looking for an excuse to knit it. That's not to say that I didn't want to knit him something, I did. So the bottom line was a classic SAT tautology:

I want to knit the Cobblestone sweater (I want to knit x)
I want to knit him a birthday present (I want to knit y something for z)
I will knit him the Cobblestone sweater for his birthday. (I will knit x for y for z)

Not quite E=mc2d, but brilliant nonetheless! If you can plug your desires into that simple formula - knit him a sweater, or knit him socks, or knit him anything you damn well please, and don't worry about any silly curse.

Not only have I cracked this simple equation worthy of DaVinci Code notoriety, I discovered something else. I have more in common with my mother than I thought I did. Whenever I visit my parent's house, it can be 9:00 a.m., it can be 3 p.m., it can be right after eating a giant Thanksgiving dinner, and my mom will ask, did you have enough to eat? Knitting this sweater for a 6'4" guy, I was constantly asking myself "is it big enough?" and relatedly, "do you think I have enough yarn, do I have enough yarn?" Of course, I ask myself the same thing when I'm knitting for myself. Am I following the pattern? Yes. Am I on gauge, yes? Did I buy the recommended amount of yarn? Yes. So, the question really is as silly as "have you had enough to eat?" after scarfing down turkey, stuffing, potatoes, string beans, carrot soufle, and pie.
But, I was really worried this time, not play worried, like when I knit for myself. I tricked him into giving me his chest size (hey honey, what size suit do you wear, Robin is knitting her boyfriend a sweater and he's about the same size). I tried subtly asking him how long his arms are, not an easy question to throw into regular banter, and I got an answer I'll just keep to myself. So, while we were at Stitches, four women holed up in a hotel room, knitting in bed, I had Kate call her 6'3 boyfriend, and had him measure himself, as well as his 6'4" brother. They were inches over what was called for in the pattern (22 inches from the arm pit to the bottom, and a 22 inch sleeve from the joining of the yoke to a bit passed the wrist!)

Now, I was really nervous -venturing beyond the parameters of the pattern! So while I had 20 balls of Kathmandu Aran, at a 100 yards a ball, and the pattern called for 18 balls, I still bought 6 more balls from Webs. And lucky that I did, because I did need one - sigh of relief. Sweater complete, it fits, and I didn't run out of yarn.

Sorry the pictures suck - I was right down to the wire when he came over on Monday. I'll try to get better pictures when he actually wears it. The fit was perfect, although the sleeves at the bottom were a little loose for his taste - a little rolling at the bottom, and all was well. What you really can't see in these pictures is how beautiful this yarn is - it's a dark green, with flecks of reds, yellows, and more greens. It has a smidge of cashmere in it, and it is yummy. And, if you're looking for something to knit for yourself - lookie here - the new Winter 2007 Interweave Knits preview, in which Miriam Felton, of Icaraus and friends fame, has a new pattern in Kathmandu -

And, as you know - I have no need for a formula for myself - I see it, I like it, I knit it - this might end up in my queue - because I love this yarn!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rhinebeck 2007

After the buying free for all that was Stitches (yes, I have a camera, yes, I will blog about my purchases), I wasn't completely looking forward to Rhinebeck. The weather was iffy, I was broke, I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head, and I was broke. So, when Courtney bailed due to impending childbirth, and the trip was a 50/50 no-go, I felt a strange kind of relief - I was going to be saved from the crack, er yarn. But, Kate really really wanted to go, the trip was on, and we were in the car, at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, heading towards Rhinebeck. As I was getting in the car, my almost five-year old niece called to chat:

Niece: Aunt Wendy, I think it would take 57 days to walk to Florida.
Me: Interesting.
Niece: And it would take 39 days to walk to Colorado.
Me: It would take less time to walk to Colorado than Florida, why is that? Colorado is farther.
Niece: Because Mickey Mouse lives in Florida.

And, from that, I kind of just let my stress about money go - there's just no logic to things, really. Who cares my bank account is empty, Mickey Mouse lives in Florida!

Last year, I stayed at the Bates Motel, where one would certainly go to kill oneself, in I think Hyde Park. This year, since we waited so long to book a room, we stayed at the Pleasant Valley Inn, in, where else, Pleasant Valley. The last five miles of the trip were something straight out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was rainy, it was dark, it was windy. The roads were slick, and twisty. Kate's hands gripped the wheel, her nose was practically pressed against the dashboard, trying to see. We found our motel, grabbed our stuff, and hustled to our room, 103. All of the rooms were numbered 101, 102, 103, except this one -- Room 23. Outside Room 23, a man in a black hoody lounged in a beach chair. Others milled around in the doorway, wearing boxer shorts and wife beaters. Iron Maiden blasting, the proprietor of Room 23 said "if we're too loud for you girls, just let us know!" We ducked our heads, nodded, and kept moving - into the room, and safety. At one point, while we were watching t.v., the music went off, and all I could hear was a loud buzzing. Uch, I said, they must have blown out their speaker, that reverb is killing me. Kate got up to investigate. She peaked through the blinds, but as she was standing there, she noticed the sound was coming from our room - our refrigerator. She yanked the cord out of the wall, the noise stopped, and we immediately went to sleep - enough time awake at this not so Pleasant motel.

Luckily, between the evening and the morning we only spent 45 waking minutes at what we would come to call Hotel Meth, featuring lovely decor, like this lamp that I found in our closet. In the morning, I ventured into the shower - I turned the water on, it was cold, I let it run. I started to smell something, something that smelled, well, like ass. As the water got hotter, the smell got more pungent, like the smell of warm death, as Kate put it. We quickly got dressed, grabbed our things, and bolted passed Room 23. The door to Room 23 was open. I peaked inside - they're were mattresses strewn around the room, litter, clothes, but there were also tools, and saw horses, and sketchy equipment lying around as well. Between the smell from the water, and the makeshift industrial look of the room, there was only one explanation - we had stayed at a meth lab. Hotel Meth.

We tried to return the key, but drat, the door was locked! Were we going to be stuck at Hotel Meth for all eternity!!!! Luckily, some woman poked her nose through a curtain, and pointed for Kate to just leave the key on the windowsill. She dropped the key, and we made a run for it.

And, we ran towards food, preferably not laced with crystal meth. We stopped at a roadside mom and pop farm stand, and they directed us to the historic Red Hook diner, in historic Red Hook, dubbed the "cutest little town ever," by Kate.

The Historic Red Hook Diner is modeled after the original Silk City Diner, so we felt right at home. And boy did they make us feel at home, as they stuffed us with pure, unadulterated maple syrup, sweet potato pancakes, homefries, omelets, and sausage with gravy and biscuits:

Shockingly well-rested, and clearly well-fed, we were ready for Rhinebeck.

Last year, I arrived at the fairgrounds early, snuck in, and bolted for the Socks that Rock. This year, I have unknit STR's all over my house, 2 skeins sacrificed to moths, and laceweight purchased at Stitches. We got to the festival at 11:00, totally skipped the Fold and Brooks Farm (which I also purchased at Stitches), and while we did start in Building A, home of both vendors, we were relaxed and uncrazed. Within minutes, we ran into Carol, our Black Bunny proprietress, and Laura, co-author of an upcoming Interweave book, with Carol and Lisa, of Rosies.
Carol and Laura had left Philly around 5:00 a.m., and while Hotel Meth wasn't exactly the Four Seasons, or Motel 6 for that matter, I was glad we had each invested $30/night in order to avoid that ungodly morning start.

So, what did I buy? I completely forgot to photograph them - but, I can tell you, I spent under $100. And, you know, I really didn't have to restrain myself from anything - I was just enjoying the fall weather, the beautiful scenery, and making friends with the livestock. I did buy sweater quantity worsted from Shadyside Farm, no gimics, no fancy multi's, just a solid chartreuse from the sale bin, that I completely snatched as someone else was waivering on reaching for it. I also got a fingerless mitt kit from Carolina Homespun in pinks, and sweater quanity Morehouse bulky, which I'll chat about below. Most importantly, however, I got the knob to fix my wheel. I wish I remembered the name of the vendor - this guy helped me out last year, and he was equally helpful this year. Both years, I pointed to a part on the wheel that I was missing, and he went into his secret tool box, and found the part I needed. When I got home, I had a terrible head cold, so I wasn't in the mood for spinning, but I did need to know if it was going to work. So, I quickly banged in the nob, threaded the bobbin, and spun for a few seconds - lookie! There's take-up! I have a brake! I can make yarn. So, I'll save some practice spinning for later in the week, when it doesn't feel so much like exercise.

By lunchtime, I had still not bought anything, and Kate was the big spender - sweater quantity at Green Mountain Spinnery, and sweater quantity at another small farm that basically sold Green Mountain Spinnery. For lunch, we stopped at the 4H counter, and I had my now traditional lunch - lamb chilli.
I love supporting 4-H, anything that brought livestock to Warminster, PA is a gem in my book, as many of my friends were 4H'rs. (I was not - my cityfolk parents knew nothing of cows, bunnies and farming). There is something strange about chowing down on lamb, when you're surrounded by very much alive sheep, but ah well, it's just too good to resist.

So, like I said, I made friends with the animals, did my Dr. Doolittle thing, instead of buying their wares. Here are some of my new friends - alpacas, and goats, and rams, and a turtle - oh my!

And, here's the lovely fall foliage:

And then, it was time to sit down, beat.

We left the fairgrounds at about 4:45, and went to the Morehouse store. Last year, going at the same time as the closing of the festival, the store was a madhouse. This year, we completely beat the crowd, and were able to poke around at our leisure. Sheep's Clothes is everyone's dream yarn store. A cornacopia of color, arranged by weight. After feeling up nearly every weight in the store, Kate had to ask, why isn't everything merino? Everything could be merino, and we'd probably all be happy, but what would the poor Blue Faced Leicester, or the Cormo do? There's room for every sheep in the herd, but merino is a total dream.
While I'm sure there was probably more sale yarn earlier, we did manage to get our hands in a big bin of yarn, and I walked away with a rust colored bulky to make the bandwagon sweater, as we call it at Rosie's, because everyone is knitting it - the moss stitch, asymetrical cardigan/jacket from Drops.
And then, we were done - Kate walked out of the Morehouse Store, last purchase in hand. And, we hit the road, back to Philly, making plans for nexxt year's Rhinebeck, and more grateful than you could ever imagine, that we did not have to return to Hotel Meth!

In other news, the bf Cobblestone sweater is indeed done, has been gifted, and properly appreciated it - pictures later in the week!