Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall weather...sigh.

Fall weather really gets to me. It's great; I love it, but it really throws me for a loop. I don't know quite why, but I become very, very nostalgic on a beautiful autumn day. Think of all the wonderful things you get to enjoy in the fall: wearing new cold-weather gear before the cold has worn out its welcome, harvest decorations and desserts, apple dumplings, apple pie, pumpkin spice lattes, chocolate anythings, more apple dumplings, outdoor festivals, preparing Christmas music in choirs, homemade goodies to buy and eat, attending a plethora of musical delights, watching the leaves change while eating apple dumplings...and all the busy-ness to look forward to, before it really hits too hard. Okay, so I already feel busy. And I don't even have much of a life.

I've actually beasted on a lot of projects this summer, and been steadily knocking out some of the longer projects. Right now I'm almost being monogamous...I'm waiting for fair isle and sweaters to bite me in the neck...or the butt...or anywhere they wish, once I take those classes THIS WEEKEND! I'm a little excited. I like a good excuse to go up to Loop.

I'm getting close to done my Daybreak shawl. I've been rather reluctant to work on it; I think it's the discipline of trying to knit continental style when it just doesn't come naturally yet. Knitting is fine, but purling is difficult to tension. I also have noticed I have to hold the sleek Malabrigo differently than the rougher Noro yarn, just so that I can keep the yarn coming without it becoming too slack in my hand. It's been an adventure seeing how the colors come out...I'm excited that I'm getting close to done.

Rhinebeck is just around the corner. Fall festival, here I come...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

See ya, summer--bring on the dumplings!

Man oh man, have I been slacking! There's been a number of times where I thought, "Gee, I should update my blog." Needless to say, I haven't. So here's a catch-all. I'll try to work on being more concise.

Local arts festival: put stuff out to display. No nibbles, but did some spinning and got a few funny looks. And a guy who, no matter how I tried to break it down to him, just didn't get it. He kept saying, "But where's the yarn come from?" as I showed him fibers being twisted together. Strawberry crepe with raspberry and dark chocolate drizzled on top...enough said. And my first bubble tea--a little weird, but I'd do it again.

I decided on braids for the chullo, and nothing on top. Here's another one I unearthed; I didn't have yarn handy to do any tassles, but the ladies I was with said kids just cut them off, anyway!

I improvised this shawl in a handspun Lynn passed on to me. She was also an angel and brought a spare wheel to the last knit group for me to play with. I'm holding the wheel hostage. I just got some roving from Dan a.k.a. the Nekkid Cowboy, but I'm saving it till I know a bit more what I'm doing at the wheel. For now, I'm playing with a sticky pink stuff that is surprisingly fun to work with. I say "fun" after spinning a number of shreds of merino/tencel and deciding that sticky and just a little hard to draft ain't so bad afterall.

Baby stuff: my first baby sweater, the Wonderful Wallaby. When I looked back at my notes, I noticed that this little bugger was started the day after Christmas. Oops.

Joining the wallaby, a little charity hat I improvised because I'm too lazy to follow a pattern (and most patterns use thinner yarn). I affectionately call it my li'l dumplin' because it looks to me like...well, an apple dumpling. Oh, just mentioning it makes me groan with desire. I can remember a past homecoming festival at college, in which I used my ingenuity to get free apple dumplings. My friend and I walked up near people, eating our dumplings with overt pleasure, then we'd sharply turn our backs sporting makeshift paper-plate posters. I made out quite well that year.

I love this time of year. I missed choir preparations so much that I decided to join the local men's chorus. I'm not a huge fan of barbershop partwriting, but it's still singing. I'm pretty psyched. I also miss the autumn festivals, so I'm making a point to head up to ....RHINEBECK!!! I only attended my first sheep and wool festival last May, but I hear this is a great one to see. I'm hoping I will meet some of the people I follow online, but I have a fear that I will see them and say something brilliant like "Hey, I know who you are." Wish me luck. Maybe I need pickup lines. I'm taking suggestions.

I do have an excuse to meet one celebrity I admire, coming up this Saturday...I'm taking some classes with Jared Flood! It's almost here! Whoo hoo! I used a cable from one of his sweaters as inspiration for my latest pair of mitts. I love mitts. I love wearing them. These ones make me feel a bit like I could be Wolverine or some leather biker dude. Stop laughing at me.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sweaters really are fun...when they're done.

I'm done the sweater! Despite my complaining, I really did have fun making it. I actually miss the ease of knitting it. I mean, knitting that you can pull out and work on in the dark, even if you're watching a movie in French? That's my kind of knitting! It's hard to do anything too involved when I'm on the commute to work. Here's some pictures of the final product.

My lovely little sis helped me with some photographing. I must admit I feel so awkward in front of a camera...always have. If you were to break into my childhood photo albums, you would find a dorky little boy crossing his eyes in every family picture. Not much has changed, I guess.

I also finished a test knit for Stephen West's Herbivore shawl. Another decently easy knit, though not in-the-dark easy. I like how it came out with the yarn I chose, but this colorway is a bit dark for my taste. I like stretching my tastes a bit, though. As for test knitting, I felt honored to knit for Stephen...his work is beautiful, and he's a beast of a knitter. Many people did samples of this shawl, and it's so much fun to see all the versions people did. I used to wonder how I could knit shawls that I could wear as a guy. I think he's answered that question for me. Here's some photos of mine:

Now that I'm done my not-so-secret mission (I felt like a cool spy knitting the Herbivore), I picked up my Daybreak shawl, also designed by Stephen. I love how the colors and yarns are turning out. I'll wait to show you till I'm further along, though. The Daybreak has been hijacked by a week of last-minute knitting for the local arts festival next weekend. I'm hoping to show some of my stuff there. While my town is trying to promote the arts, our knitting representation has a long way to go, as do I. I'm near done a hat which has turned out to be rather special for me from a reminiscing standpoint. About a year ago I knit a wad of hats, mostly chullos, for friends and family and coworkers and whatnots. I'm talking upwards of fifteen. Well, I did a test run in good old Red Heart yarn, and it was way too tightly knit. The colors were fun, though. I have a thing against simply repeating what I do...I always have to change it a bit. So I knit an adult sized hat, which was done in brown and green acrylic (though surprisingly soft...and rather slippery). Now, a year later, I'm revisiting the same yarn to make another chullo hat. It reminds me of how much my knitting has grown in the last year. Michael's craft store really is a poor excuse for a resource for knitters. Thanks to Loop and my other semi-local yarn stores, I've grown in leaps and bounds. A bit over a year ago, I had no idea that worsted yarn goes well with a US 7 needle, since Michael's doesn't even have that size. Now that's remedied. I've also become a lot more familiar with different fibers for knitting, as well as branched out into some different types of projects. I've tackled lace, shawls, socks, a sweater...and taken a few classes along the way. I've also found some friendly knitter communities who have helped me discover the rabbit hole of knitting, spinning, dyeing, felting, and ...well, it's a rabbit hole. I could go on, but suffice it to say, I'm enjoying working on chullos again. Must be that time of year.

And here's where I would like your input over the next couple of days. I'm near finished this hat, and I'm undecided as to what colors to use in the finishing. I have some sort of strands to do on the earflaps, be they knitted, braided, or some thing else. And the top of the hat could be bare, or I could add a tassle or pompom. I'm planning to firm up the bottom edge with a crocheted border...I'm thinking brown. So...what do you think? more thing...I am signed up to take a fair isle class with Jared Flood!!! If you don't know who that is, you should check out his blog. He's another designer and knitter that inspires me. Only four weeks...