Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Knitty Christmas!

Christmas this year was one of the best ever. Andy and I had Elizabeth and Carl over for turkey on Christmas Eve and spent a wonderful evening relaxing and enjoying their company. Christmas day, we hung around the tree, had a mimosa or two and watched Christmas Vacation (the best movie EVER!), A Christmas Story and Home Alone. Andy has been working some major overtime and it was great to have some down time together. We got together with Andy's parents on Saturday for cake and the annual exchange of gifts. It was nice to have them here, as they haven't gotten to see our tree before.

The week before, Linda and I took a trip to Salem to check out some primitive shops and had lunch at Abeulo's where we celebrated our Christmas. Linda, as usual, was much too generous.(thank you girl! ) Then, yesterday, Dana , Dianne and I met Linda at the Old Liberty Station restaurant in Bedford for lunch, and celebrated Christmas some more! Thank you Dana and Dianne for all of the lovely gifts!

With all of Andy's overtime, Ive had some extra time on my hands which has been put to good use knitting. I was going to show some pictures here, but blogger doesn't seem to want to cooperate. In any case, here is the list:

1 pair hand spun socks, my own pattern
1/2 pair Falling Leaves Socks out of yarn gifted from Linda (who has no blog, but should!)
1 knitted mouse bottle topper
a tiny sweater ornament for Elizabeth
the "Weaved Beanie Hat" (I really think this should be called WOVEN, but whatever) for my gram in NJ
2 skeins of hand spun alpaca for Dianne
A Forest Canopy Cowl for Dana
And the start of the Vice Versa Scarf

All can be seen here: Ravelry Projects

Here is to a Happy and Healthy New Year with Lot's of Knitting!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Vortext that I am (willingly) Sucked into on a Daily Basis

Ah, the joy of Ravelry , she is my mistress for certain. Not a day goes by that I haven't logged on at least one time. A vortex of knitting, fiber and yarn. I swear Ive just logged on, and two hours have passed in the blink of an eye! So many beautiful patterns and such talented knitters. This has to be the very best knitting/fiber website ever!

Now, as in the above mentioned paragraph apparently I have spent all my free time (and then some) logged onto Rav and have totally neglected my blog! Christmas is nearly here and I am so behind on wrapping (haven't even started...) as well as cleaning that we may just have to have our company come to a semi clean and yarn littered home for dinner Christmas Eve. I doubt Elizabeth will mind, she does work in a yarn shop, but what will her husband think? Their home is beautiful and really, really clean. I can see it now: please pass the mohair along with the gravy......

I have been knitting like a maniac. Making several Christmas gifts, sorry no pictures as they would be spoilers! My last favorite project was the Updated Old Classic:

I finally finished the Bird of Paradise socks on the way to NJ to visit my Grandma a couple of weeks ago. She liked the socks so much, that she is now the owner of them. I did manage to start another pair on the way home, not nearly as pretty though.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanuka, Happy New Year, and Happy Knitting to All!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yarn and the Economy

Knitters come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. There are famous knitters like Julia Roberts, Martha Stewart and Catherine Zeta Jones to name just a few, who most likely have unlimted yarn budgets. Speaking for myself, my budget for yarn is defineatley not unlimited, and most likely yours has a spending cap as well. One of my favorite things is when my LYS has a sale, because that means I can get way more yarn for my money.

These days yarn can be found in a lot of different places, from Goodwill to Walmart and AC Moore and Michaels. Of course, it can also be found at yarn shops and fiber festivals and of course due to the miracle of modern technology, it can also be found online.

Keeping in mind all of the places that yarn can be found and purchased at, and also keeping in mind the state of the current economy, with gas being more than $3.00 per gallon, there are a lot of people putting their yarn budgets on hold. This has a trickle down effect in that if we stop purchasing yarn and other supplies at our LYS they may go out of business. Knowing this, I will keep shopping at my LYS. And I will keep shopping at a few other out of town (more than one hour from my home) shops that have great service as well.

What I won't do is shop where I do not get good friendly service. My time, gas, and yarn budget are too valuable to waste on feeling like I am a lowly for also purchasing yarn at AC Moore and/or Michaels. I have some really nice yarns in my stash, some I spun, some came from my LYS and the LYS near my mom's, and some also came from craft stores. I can bet most knitters stashes are like this too.

So if you are like me, and have some AC Moore yarn in your stash, hold your head high. Shop at the LYS that treats you great no matter where you purchased your yarn for you are a knitter, and the source of their pay check!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival

Last weekend, Andy and I took a trip to the Montpeileir Fall Fiber Festival. I entered the Luna Moth Shawl in the Handspun Wearables where it received second place. I was so surprised and excited when I saw the ribbon! It's the second shawl I have ever knit and the first (and only so far) one out of hand spun. It was also my first attempt at lace weight yarn. The purple and blue yarn was locks that I spun and it recieved second place in the Novelty division.

I also entered a skein of llama in the open/advanced plied hand spun division (it's the brown skein in the center with the blue ribbon). The fiber came from Posey Thisisit Llama Farm The llama' it came from is Mink Stole, named this because she will be the only mink that Joyce (owner) will get to have. The skein won first place! Pretty cool since the skein I entered last year (which won first and best over all) was from one of Joyce's other llama's, Lucky Star.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Best Knitted Tank Pattern Ever!

The weekend before last, Andy and I took a trip up to Orchardside Yarn shop for their annual fiber festival and sale. The shop is surrounded by mountains, with a babbling brook, and a free wandering peacock. The ladies at the shop were more than nice and helped me with my yarn and pattern purchases. I picked up Norah Gaughan's Vol 2 from Berroco so I could knit the Flow top. The pattern was well written and the top knitted up in less than a week! For this one I used Artyarns Marine which I loved! It fits perfectly which is more than I can say for a few other things Ive had on the needles...

I love the pattern so much, that we took a trip to Sereknity in Roanoke this past weekend to purchase some Berroco Flow in a lovely blue so I can knit up a second one. Sereknity is a great shop too, we had a blast and I came home with way more yarn's than I planned. I picked up another Berroco book with a cute linnen top which will most likely be the next item on the needles.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Spinning Hair of the Moe and Locks

It's been a busy spinning week. This is some awesome 50/50 mohair and wool that I picked up at Maryland Sheep and Wool from Persimmon Tree Farm. I spun it into balanced singles and I plan to knit a small shawl or wrap with it. It's beautiful fall colors so I will save it for later on in the year. The mohair is very soft and bloomed nicely when I washed the finished yarn. I have to say this was one of the easiest rovings that I have spun. Wish I had picked up more of it since it spun so fast I was disappointed to be done with it.

These are some really nice dyed locks that I picked up at a fiber shop while we were in Maine. The locks were a little matted and still had a good amount of lanolin left in them. After fooling around with them and the flick carder, I decided to spin some novelty yarn rather than to fight with tangled locks. I was surprised and happy with the yarn, it's very nubby and has curly locks sticking out here and there. It should make great edging for a hat or mittens or maybe a bag.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Fiberous Trip to Maine

I gave in to my lobster craving, I couldn't go another day without it! Andy and I drove 800 + miles up to Maine to visit my family and eat some very yummy fresh sea food. Our Honda Civic got 47 mpg on the way up, we only stopped once for gas, hit the liquor store in NH to stock up (no sales tax and cheap liquor) and were in Kittery, Maine eating at the Weathervane in less than 12 hours. I had a lobster BLT and Andy had a fried seafood platter with haddock, scallops, clams and and shrimp.

That's Andy on the left, me in the middle and my brother, Sean, on the right. You might be wondering why we are all waving at the camera. It's just a thing we do. It started on Sean's trip to VA a couple of years ago. Now we all take pictures like that wherever we go. It drives my mom nuts! :)

Here is proof that I will touch nearly anything, sad but true. It's a fish skeleton found at Ferry Beach in Saco.

On the way to North Conway, my mom spotted a church tag sale so we had to stop. I picked up this very cool spinning wheel lamp and the handwoven basket in the picture below for a great deal. The yarn came from a couple different shops: Rosemary's in Cornish and Knit Wit's in Portland. Both shops are great and have totally different yarn's. They both also have great service.

To the left is some mill end Alpaca/Merino that is super, super soft. Purchased at a shop in Portland. Below is the store front for Rosemary's.

No trip anywhere is complete without stopping by at least one sporting goods store. We hit Cabela's in Maine, LL Bean in Freeport and North Conway, Sports Authority in South Portland and (a drum roll please) Bass Pro in PA. I am a good fishing wife. Andy was told once in a parking lot of a fiber festival that he is a "good fiber husband". I have yet to hear the end of that....

To the left is the Portland Waterfront a view from Commercial Street. I used to work in Portland at Key Bank and parked right near where this picture was taken.

Below is the the LL Bean boot:

A couple of baby star fish from Ferry Beach. They were all over the place.

Overall we had a great trip. I was really sorry to come back to Virginia. New England is so wonderful, many different places to visit all within an hour or so of each other. We did notice that the economy is worse up there. With outrageously high gas prices, tourism (one of the main sources of economy) is really low. This is the first time I can ever remember not having to wait in line's anywhere including at the toll booth going into Maine.

Dana had asked for a list of things we did, so here goes:

Kittery: Weathervane (see above), Banana Republic, Van Heusen, Liz Claiborne and Eddie Bauer

Sanford: Mardens which is a must go to discount store. They have clothes, fabric, yarn, fishing goods, shoes, furniture, basically you name it they got it!

Cornish: Rosemarys, two antique shops.

Gorham: Dinner out with mom at the Garden for some awesome seafood, I had twin lobsters, Andy and mom had baked haddock with lobster stuffing - yum!

North Conway: Horsefeathers Restaurant for a lobster roll, the 5 & 10 which is the oldest shop there, Christmas Tree Shop (this is where your goodie came from Dana!), and a couple of outlets.

Portland: Amato's for a real Italian sandwich. There is nothing else like them! And Knit Wit's.

Freeport: LL Bean, the Moose Shop, a very cool bead shop, and the Rockport outlet.

Westbrook/Portland: The Full Belly Deli, this is the most awesome deli. It's New York style and they have been in business for close to 20 years. If you are ever in the area this is a must eat at place. We also ate at Tortilla Flat one night with my friend Robin. It's in the same area and they have some great Mexican food not to mention the Sangria. I have to say neither one of these restaurants has changed for as long as I can remember. They both have great food, and great service. There are not many places you can say this about.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Spare Time Knitting

How much time does it take to knit? Some people say they don't have the time or patience to knit. Most of us are busy with everyday life; work, household chores, grocery shopping, bills and all that "fun" stuff. Lots of knitting can be done in the spare time we may not realize that we have. Yesterday, I headed off to the doctors office with the sock in the picture to the right just cast on and one row of ribbing done. When I left, nearly two hours later, there was 4 1/4" of knitting accomplished. I'm not super happy about having to wait to see the doctor for an hour and forty five minutes, but at least I got something done during that time. Just think of how much you could knit while you wait in line at Walmart, the lines here are sometimes twenty minutes long.
The yarn from the sock was gifted to me by Dianne. It came from Rock Creek Yarn and is really nice to knit with.
My friend Linda knits in the car whenever we take a road trip. No matter what happens, she calmly knits away. One road trip we were on a divided highway and a car came racing towards us in the wrong direction, Linda never missed a stitch. It turned out to be a high speed chase and we saw a line of police cars following on the other side of the highway.

It's been a productive week, I finished the rotating rib socks, which are a gift for my mom. They are knitted out of AC Moore yarn (gasp!) Marble and the color is lavender. Mom lives in Maine and thick socks are a must for the winter.

This is the Vogue Sideways Cardigan, finally off the needles.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Crochet Mainia

I've been bitten by the crochet bug, or should I say frog:

I collect pin cushions and couldn't resist making the little frog, and the tomato:

The tomato body is hand spun mohair and the green top is hand spun colonial wool. The frog is Vanna's Choice. I can't believe I bought something that Vanna would endorse, it was on sale, what can I say?

This acorn came from a pattern on Ravelery. It was super easy to do and only took about two hours to complete. It's supposed to be a small project holder, but I think my gauge may have been a wee bit off (Im not much of a crocheter and didn't bother to check my guage.....). It's rather small and could better be used to put a gift in. It could possibly hold a center pull ball of gossamer lace yarn. It's way too small for a sock yarn holder.

It seems like I've been working on the Low Tide Cross Over Vee for ages, and with much relief and happy knitting/spinning satisfaction, it's finally done! I really enjoyed starting with raw fleece and ending with a completed sweater.

I'm waiting for special order moose antler buttons to arrive for the sweater to be really completed. They are being made in Maine, which is where I grew up. The pattern for this sweater was designed by a lady from Maine as well, I thought that was pretty cool.

The whole sweater is knitted in stocking knit, so the knitting went really quickly. The finishing took some time as there is a hand spun lace crochet edge:

The lace edge is 50/50 llama and hand dyed alpaca. The picture doesn't show the color well on the lace, but it's gray, blue and brown. It reminds of the rocky coast in Maine. Can you tell Ive been a little homesick lately? I'm dying for some LOBSTER. Mostly for a a lobster roll, that's cold (cooked) lobster mixed with little bit of mayo, possibly a small amount of lettuce served on a grilled hot dog bun. I had one at a Red Sox game one time that was served on croissant and the lobster meat had dill mixed with it. Now that was wicked good :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Sedalia Fiber Festival this past weekend was great! Dana did a great job with the organization and promotion. There were a large number of vendors and many, many more shoppers than in previous years. I hear rumors that next year it could possibly be a two day event which would draw even more vendors and shoppers.
I came home with a new wheel, she's a Kromski Symphony and I just love her! She's smooth as glass and fast as a NASCAR driver heading towards the checkered flag! I purchased her from Mary Ellen of I See Spots Farm.

This is some kid mohair that Ive spun on her so far. Its the softest kid mohair Ive ever felt and feels a lot like cashmere.

This is the brightest lime green Jacob yarn I have ever seen! Had to get, but am undecided as to what to knit out of it. Am thinking of maybe mittens or a hat.

A quick update on the Low Tide Crossover Vee sweater. I finished the two fronts and back and kitchnered them together. It looked a little small when I was knitting it, and it turned out it was a lot small when I pinned it together. So small, I thought I would have to tear it out. All that scouring of fleece, picking and carding, spinning, dying and knitting and it was too small! Thankfully I remembered what Suzanne of Suzanne's Knitting Shoppe in Lynchburg had taught me: wool can be blocked and stretched. I broke out the iron and a wet tea towel and went to work. So far, so good, the body fits now. Phew..... Now onto the sleeves and crochet trim. Im hoping that I dont run out of yarn......no kidding, I think I have just enough to do the sleeves....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Low Tide Crossover Vee

This spring I purchased a beautiful Jacob fleece from Little House Rugs. The fleece came from "Sweet Pea" and I loved her fleece so much, that Judy was nice enough to reserve the next shearing for me too. Below is the yarn that I spun from Sweet Pea's fleece. Before scouring, I separated the white from gray. When it was dry, I carded it three times on my drum carder and then spun and plied it on my Kromski Sonata. The yarn on the right, was originally white, I dyed it using the black hollyhocks that grow in our garden. They gave a lovely lavender color.

A close up of the hand spun dyed in black hollyhocks.

It's taken me a little over a month to separate, scour, pick, card, spin and dye the fleece. I was so excited to start knitting with it! This is the Low Tide Crossover Vee sweater that is in the newly released book Shear Spirit. The pattern designer lives in Maine, which I thought was very cool since that's where I grew up. Here is the completed left front (waiting on stitch holders to be attached to the back).

The beginning of the back:

A close up of the stitches. I love the yarn that came from Sweet Pea! It's so soft, you could wear it against your skin!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Busch Gardens is Knitter Friendly!

Andy and I took a much needed three day mini vacation to Williamsburg. Our first stop was Busch Gardens. If you have never fed the birds while you are there, that is a must! They will land on you and eat the fruit pure' that you purchase at the bird concession stand and then hang out. This one really liked Andy's sun glasses!

As with anyplace you visit, there are rules to be followed:

Who would have thought you would see something like this at Busch Gardens?

Or meet a fellow knitter, and Raveler?
That's Andrea, aka Knitadoodle. She's knitting a scarf out of ruffle yarn (I must find this yarn, very cool!) and came up to me in line at The Dark Castle.

What's a vacation without a little fiber?

This came from Knitting Sisters in Williamsburg. A cute shop, with a great selection of yarn and other knitting goodies.

We also visited Colonial Fiber Arts in Yorktown. That is an awesome shop and I plan to go back over the summer. I purchased some flax to spin and the owner of the shop was kind enough to show me how to spin it as well as giving some helpful hints to go along with it. She had some nice plain white sock yarn that I purchased (it's in the dye pot right now!) and some hand forged scissors (just had to have them...). If you are ever in the area, I would highly recommend checking this shop out. There is also a Ben and Jerry's and Green Mountain Coffee across the street.

Maryland Sheep and Wool

Im a little late posting about Maryland Sheep and Wool, two weeks to be exact. Andy and I got there really early and hit all the vendors before the crowds got there. We got some great goodies:

This is a knitters basket made by Skacel. It has a purple silk lining, with pockets for all your knitting goodies. The lining comes out and can be used as a knitting pouch too. Couldn't resist it!

Below is a lace neck warmer purchased in kit form from The Spinnery. It came with the most wonderful Merino and Mohair blend, very soft and easy to knit with. I changed the pattern a little, it was to be knit flat and then seamed. I knit it in the round, changed to a smaller needle size for the neck band (theirs seemed too loose on the neck) and then crocheted a lacy edge for the cast off.

We had a great time, did a lot of shopping, visited with Jamee' and Joyce Hall from Posy Thisisit Llama's and then headed out to Bass Pro and the giant mall (it's one mile around) to do some non-fiber shopping.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Miss Moosie Has Arrived

Last year I saw a blurb in Spin Off about drop spindles made out of naturally shed Moose antlers. Being originally from Maine, land of many Moose, and Moose being one of my favorite animals, naturally I had to find out more. These gorgeous hand turned, one of a kind spindles are made by Jonathan and Sheila Bosworth of Journey Wheel in Acton, Massachusetts.
I went to their web site to order a spindle and found out that there was a waiting list. I added my name to the list and about six weeks ago, got an email that my Moosie was to be in the next group. I was so excited, it was all I could talk about at home for the last few weeks!
All through the process of making the spindle, Shelia would email updates and then finally pictures of the whorls. You choose which four you like the best, and in order of who emails back first with their requests, the spindles are assigned. Next we chose the wood for the spindle - I left this up to Sheila and she chose Bocote which has a stunning stripe pattern in it.
The finished Moosie arrived on Saturday with a sample of HOT PINK SPARKLY roving on it. Since Sheila and I have never met, I have no idea how she would know that hot pink is one of my most favorite colors and well, being much like a mag pie, I love anything sparkly.
Here is Miss Moosie:
She spins wonderfully! So wonderfully, that I couldn't stop spinning after using up the sample of roving:

Thank you Sheila and Jonathan!

Friday, April 25, 2008

A New Place to Knit, Spin, and Smell the Roses

Our Spring 2008 outside project is complete. Andy totally rebuilt our existing deck and added a pergola and two new raised flower beds.

This spring and summer, we will be spending lots of time sitting and enjoying ourselves. It's a perfect place to spin or knit and have a cocktail or two. It's very peaceful and tranquil which is just what we needed.

On the upper right of the pergola is wisteria that should bloom next year. From this view, behind the pergola is our new picket fence. We added this to keep the deer out of the flower beds. Pesky critters ate nearly all the blooms last year.

Thanks Andy, your the best!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reward Knitting

Monday brought with it the completion of the Vogue shell. I knit it out of *gasp* inexpensive clearance yarn from Michaels. Shame on me, but who cares, it turned out well and blocked nicely.

Since I actually completed a project on time, meaning I can wear the shell in the upcoming season (not like finishing a nice wool cardigan at the beginning of the summer). I gave myself some reward knitting. Reward knitting is only given when there are currently less than three projects on the needles. If there are three already on the needles, yarn may be purchased for another project (or stash....) but nothing new may be started, no matter how badly I want to. Hi, Im Lara, and I start too many projects without finishing them. We won't even talk about whats on my spinning wheel and what's waiting to be carded right now.

In any case, here is the cute little cable and bobble bag Im knitting out of Noro Kochoran to tote my wallet in at MD Sheep and Wool. It's an adapted pattern from Ready Set Knit Cables. I got the idea for it at Backstitches. They were kind enough to let me borrow their bag to take notes before I began this one.

I like to stick my needles and small projects into the center pull balls. It looks very festive, like a flag, don't you think?