Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Yarn Harlot Represents

Living in New Jersey we pay a high tax because "we're close to things" (unofficial Jersey state motto). So it is gratifying to actually take advantage of these special treats once in a while.

The Yarn Harlot had a book launch last week in New York, and it was planned to be a big deal. There was gathering in central park, yarn shopping, public knitting - of course all of this occurred while I was at work. She had also worked hard to put out the word in the blogosphere to gather enough knitters to really freak out non-knitting New Yorkers. Naturally, I felt duty-bound to help out.

I've never been to FIT, but I fortunately have a friend who is currently attending. I met her for dinner before the book launch, and we bemoaned the combination of 20-something college kids with too much fashion adventure. Then she was off to an evening class and I was off to the launch.
A bit sterile and industrial for a fashion school, no?

I arrived a few minutes late, and the place was packed. A good 700 knitters in the auditorium, and every one....knitting. I found a seat at the back and discovered that there was a knit-kit from Warm Up America, and that was what everyone was working on. The plan is, everyone knits a square, and these squares become blankets for people in need. I did my part during the Yarn Harlot's talk (yes that's a simple cable going down the center of my 7x9-ish square):
knitting at yarn harlot
Even though she kept quizzing the audience and making us raise our knitting hands. She made several great points - leave it to the practitioners of traditional crafts to be the radical feminsts. I chuckled throughout the almost two hour long talk (which included a good while for folks to give their accolades to Ms. Pearl-McPhee, and to stun us with their incredible travels from England, Lucerne, San Antonio, and Zurich just to see this woman). Her hope had been to prove that knitters are a force to be reckoned with, and I think the numbers bear her out:

  • A good 700 people attended the book launch (and how many show up to most book talks? 10? 15?)
    About 100 people met in Central Park midday
  • Numerous people traveled from far outside the area to attend
  • Hundreds of hats and quilt squares were collected for charity
  • So many people bought the MSF fundraising pins she travels with that she ran out (I saw the bag early in the night - it was a very large bag of very small pins)
  • Money was spent at NYC yarn shops. I dare not hazard a guess at how much, as I myself spent nearly $100 and that was keeping to a budget.

The Saturday following the book launch, I met up with Katy and did a yarn crawl. We'd never met before, but she made the offer to lead the crawl for anyone who would be in town over the weekend, so I took her up on it. She took pictures while I just stood around fondling yarn, so I'm hoping her site will have a better post than I can create. I was thrilled to find two yarn shops I'd never ventured into before (one which has is a coffee shop/yarn shop - how perfect is that?), and a beautiful New York day with pleasant like-minded company.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Told ya

I started knitting late Friday. Temperature was in the 40s all weekend as I knit along. Finished the pair late Sunday, and the temperature continued to rise.

Although the weather was fair promising that the mittens were going to be a good fit, I had a few concerns. Namely:
1) I was not going off any sort of pattern. I measured my hand in a couple of places and increased/decreased as seemed reasonable. But still. My pattern looked like this:

2) I don't know the guage of shrinkage for this wool. I know it felts well from previous projects, but I've never actually written down *how much*. So I made up fudge factors (figuring ~30% shrinkage in length, ~20% in width) and added extra stitches/rows. But still, as I knit the things seemed huge. (At this point Brant's interest was piqued, and he offered to help me out if they were too big for me)
mitt measured
my hand

3) Different colors felt differently. I didn't have enough of the tan, so it was a choice between making only one mitten or adding in some scraps. So stash diving we went.

4) As if #3 wasn't enough, I've never felted stranded colors before. Stranding bulks up a section, so it could have gone either way. I didn't make any allowances or changes, just hoped for the best.

5) There is always a fudge factor for the cruel hand of knitting fate. And sitting down on a Friday evening with a scrap envelope, some yarn, and a desire for mittens by Monday is just begging to be struck down.

And yet despite all of this going into things,
mitts in snow
I love them. The stranded sections melded into the nice transition between colors (as I was hoping), the brown/black striping on the thumb pleases me, and the black is mellowed out and much less contrasty than pre-felting.
And if that wasn't enough - the perfect mittens finished in just one weekend - yesterday the weather took a turn making them essential again.
SQ in snow
Don't you just love March?
(yarn = Manos del Uruguay wool in tan, black, and a variegated brown)

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Saturday, March 10, 2007


Thanks for all the shawl comments/emails. I'm still undecided, but the suggestions and thoughts have definitely broadened my thinking.

Socken it to the Family continues, though I am running into second sock syndrome (or rather, third and fourth sock syndrome). I have one of each done, the leg of the blue one is finished, and now the push is on to finish the tan one (parents will be in town next month, might as well hand them off in person).
socken 1+2
(flowers from my darling on our anniversary)

But I have to admit to distractions. I've been spending a little time on this (not for me):
baby blanket
(note the hints of the knitting bag I acquired through Lula Ballou at Etsy.com)

And a bit of time on this (also not for me):
shawl in progress

And then today I decided to have a bigger impact on the universe. If forgetting an umbrella on a cloudy day can guarantee rain, then surely starting a super warm pair of mittens will force the weather to turn for the better, right? Despite the scarily warm weather we had at the beginning of the winter, February and March have been bitter. I walk to the train each morning, and my eternal optimism of short, mild winters has resulted in my wearing these despite the bitter cold.
Although quite fetching they aren't the warmest. I keep putting off starting a warmer pair because I'm sure it will warm up tomorrow. But last week as I hustled to the train, I stopped off at the bagel shop to learn that the weather was -4F with windchill that morning.

Let us all stop and appreciate for a moment the discomfort of -4F wind during a ten minute walk.

felted mitts in progress
I started these this morning after a minimum of measuring and calculating. I'm making it up as I go, adding rows and stitches to account for shrinkage during the felting process.

Go ahead and place your bets whether or not they fit when I'm done. You'll be able to tell by the weather report. Sunny and 50F? Fit like a dream. Cloudy, windy and 10F? Yep, knitting snafu.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

decisions, decisions

Things are about to get a little different around here. For one, I'm planning a wedding. I would really, really love to have something beautiful that I made for the day to partially combat the commercialization of such a personal commitment between two people, and I'm thinking of taking a stab at a shawl. Generally I don't have much use for them (they're pretty, but when would you wear one?) but with tattoos that need covering (or at least toning down) and a fete of my own coming up, perhaps I can be convinced.

Now the problem is: which one do I knit? There are thousands of options, so to narrow the heard I elect to choose from the many free lovely patterns that can be easily found online. I want something open and airy, flowing and not too angular.

1) This one I like because it's round and would double nicely for a nice drape. Also, I could make it as big (or as small...) as I choose. Doily, anyone?
Circular rose pattern

2) Picture this one wider, shorter, and without fringe. And not metallic.

3) Love the name on this one. Sun Ray Shawl

4) I've never knit a pattern by Eunny Jang and would love to. My only complaint is that this clearly goes from one side to the other, which I don't know if I want for this purpose. But beautiful. Print o' the wave

5) Try to imagine this in a much lighter weight yarn, and again without the fringe. The lacy part is nice and classic, but the big open stringy bits make it look more modern (to me). Maybe it's just my proximity to Highland Park, but this might look a little too much like a Jewish garment to work in my godless union. Susan Shawl

6) Just beautiful. Open, airy, too pointy? Victorian Shawl

7) A very popular pattern. Feather and Fan Shawl

Please, please, email/comment your suggestions and what drew you to that pattern. I know 8 is a lot to look at, but you can't imagine how many I looked through to narrow it down to this list.

[And other knitting continues. Weather permitting, photos of works in progress tomorrow. Winter photography is tough - too little light for too few hours. Photographer and images both suffer.]