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Stitches West and a Gentle Return to Knitting

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A weekend ago or so was Stitches West, the giant yarn, fiber and notions conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center. For quite a few years I have been attending with E___, my friend and knitting mentor (and also my fellow baseball buddy), and lately with my artist and crochet sisterfriend L____ and A____ have been joining us for shopping and ramen afterwards.

This was my first real weekend post flu and post ankle surgery where I felt almost like a normal person. Walking and standing is still cranky but we scheduled lots of tea breaks and the gals brought lots of snacks to keep our energy from flagging.
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This year the convention center seemed rather quiet, we went on a Sunday, which is the last day of the conference and perhaps people were done for it but the crowd was thin and the shopping was even thinner. It might be a sign of the tightened economy, or perhaps because it was nice weather out but there wasn’t much going on that day. We all were on tight budgets and that never helps with shopping, but we enjoyed being able to visit every booth and have time for breaks.

E____ and I both found some great sock yarn for the San Francisco Giants games, a cutely dyed sock yarn from Miss Babs in a colorway called Pumpkin Apocalypse. E___ might be making a shawlette but I am going to make socks.

There was a very pretty pattern for a Cedar Leaf Shawlette in a green silk and wool blend but sadly there was no yarn anywhere within the convention center that was right weight with a little silk in it and in the right verdant green. I will need about two to three skeins to make the shawl and will save this pattern for when the budget allows more yarn shopping.

We spotted a simple sweater by Olga Jazzy, the Sakasama Jacket. I would like to try this pattern since I have boatloads of kid mohair but the booth was out of the pattern. I can get it online however.
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At another stall was selling mink yarn in jewel-toned colors at mink-like prices, but ooh, so very soft and lovely. All animal fiber yarn is from animals where they are either shorn or combed for their hair/fur, how does one shear a squirmy mink? It doesn’t bear thinking about overmuch.

This stall also had a sample scarf by Alchemy using their paper yarn which is surprisingly soft after washing. The scarf is combined with Alchemy kid mohair yarn that I’m obsessed about but the scarf is felted or washed vigorously after knitting to shrink the mohair part. I’ve seen it before at the Interweave Knitlab marketplace. I am still tempted to try this someday. The coir palate is pretty on me and they have a longish bolero which would be very nice to wear over all my inevitable black wardrobe pieces.
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(the ubiquitous Feather and Fan pattern again!)

It was always great fun to see Tina Whitmore of KnitWhits and I snatched up a ball of her Freia ombré yarn that changes from a deep grey-black to an Aegean teal. Tina explained it was a new color direction for her ombré yarns. She had only made a little for the New York show she attended and they were snapped up, I wish I could have seen all the colors she had made! Hopefully, in future, she will make more. The winking green-blue eye for this yarn really called to me and I couldn’t wait to make something with it.

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We putzed around for a little while longer and then went out for dinner at Ramen Club. This is the second best ramen I’ve found in the Bay Area.
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It was a lovely, full day!

The moment I got home I pulled out my two purchases plus the pretty pattern and I did not resist the incredible urge to start knitting.

Happily a quick search on Ravelry led me to the adorable Elk Tooth pattern by Caitlin ffrench. The talented knittingnurse on Ravelry had made up this pattern in Freia yarn in the same weight and a slight modification to use up one ball of yarn. I am about halfway done now and simply love the look and feel of this yarn. I can’t wait to wear this scarf.

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Finished Objects: Byzantine Twisted Socks

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It has been quite a while since I finished these socks and I have been wearing them a lot. The yarn from Freia Handpaint Fibers is so soft and lovely I just never want to take them off.

Interestingly enough I chatted with Tina Whitmore about this yarn and she told me a horrific tale about how the dyeing of this particular yarn and how it produced such toxic fumes that she became very ill. Obviously the health of the yarn producer or any worker is critically important and she will not be using these dyes ever again.

Freia Flux socks

Meantime I will wear them with joy and apologize mentally to Tina for her suffering each time.

Byzantine Twisted Socks

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I finished my Wedge socks (photos soon) and was so excited to immediately cast on a new pair using the divine Knitwhits Freia Flux sock yarn.

The colorway is Byzantine, isn’t it pretty?

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The colors begin with a rich cocoa brown that morphs to spring green, then to loden, to purple, to raspberry, to rust, to mauve, to periwinkle then back to cocoa.

One of my many things I love about this yarn is the subtle and lovely way Tina Whitmore transitions her colors, and then there is the exceptional softness of the wool, like baby lambs ears.

I am rushing as quickly as I can from color to color and the speedy pattern of Twisted by Jodie Gordon Lucas makes this a brainless pleasure. This pattern is one of my favorites when I can’t handle a complicated lace design.

I hope to show you a finished sock soon!

What sock pattern is your go-to??

Finished Objects – Heavenly Spiral

I was on a roll over Thanksgiving and finished the beautiful Spiral Lace scarf using KnitWhits Freia lace yarn in Purpleheart.   Two finished objects in one weekend, can you believe it!

In truth I completed quite a lot of this scarf while on the train up to the country, and during lunch breaks during the work week, knitting frantically outside in the chill at a coffee shop.
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I am so pleased how well it came out!

Overall one skein of yarn in this pattern and size 6 needles produced a 14′ scarf, which I have been wearing with absolutely everything.  All twirled up into a flat disk, you can really admire the effect of the color transitions.

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The shading of the colors is so very subtle, from rose to grey then cream then steely blue and mauve and the faintest of a purple at the end.   I tried it on by tripling the length for a standard fill for a blazer opening around the neck, or quadrupled and tucked around my collar like an Elizabethan frill.  Against my bright red winter coat the Heavenly Spiral is particularly fetching.

 

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This shows the scarf doubled and hanging over the closet knob with my sis’s cat inspecting it. He approved.  He was quite excited about yarn in general and tried to “help” me quite a lot with this project.    Such a giver, hah.

 

I have been enjoying this scarf so much that I cannot bear to put it away, so it has been lounging along the back of my antique rocking chair, relaxed into lacey swirls twining against itself.

 

This yarn was fun to use and I still have another full skein left to play with.  Any suggestions?

 

Heavenly Spiral

This weekend I started the entrancing Spiral Scarf using the Purpleheart Freia Flux lace yarn.

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(do you see its purple heart?)

I can’t stop working on this scarf!  The yarn has a pleasant scrunchy texture, springy and yet holds the stitch definition well.

One of the yarn’s features is the subtle and graceful way it transitions colors. So far I have knitted three feet (!) of the scarf and the colors have shifted from a rich cocoa brown to a soft rose to a pale mauve and now to a dove grey.

I cannot wait to see how the yarn colors will change next.

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The short row pattern is soothingly repetitive, perfect for my somewhat jangled nerves. For once I have a portable project, as long as I can complete the 16 row pattern repeat without interruption. Happily each row is only 12 stitches so a repeat just flies by.

More pictures soon!

Fiber vs Food

Last night we had a blast at the Interweave Knits Lab’s Knitter’s Market in San Mateo.  Imagine a mini Stitches West with room to move and breathe and *chat* with the dyers, spinners and sellers.

The first thing we did was to say hello to dear @lahondaknitter who was helping out at the Nine Rubies booth.   It was lovely to see Paula again and we positively drooled over the gorgeous alpaca yarns they had and the beautiful frilled scarf with the beaded and sequined cotton yarn.  I am kicking myself for not getting some but happily they are located in San Mateo and we are planning a field trip soon.

After cruising around the stalls for a first pass we narrowed in on a few coveted items.

Our first purchases were at the Knitted Wit booth.  Our eyes were drawn a small display of superwash fingering weight skeins that sparkled in the light.  Drawing closer we realized the yarn has 20% real silver spun into it!  Lorajean told us that this was the last of the Bling yarn as they are going to remake it with some sort of plastic “silver”.  Well, that did it, we had to buy some.  I picked  “smooth as butter”, a silky, glittery butter color for my upcoming Clapoutis.  E___ picked the delicious peridot green for a lace shawl.   Such an easy purchase to make too as Lorajean uses the Square with her iPhone.  Technology is fantastic!


(photo from Knitted Wits.com)

We had a great time at the Conjoined Creations booth.  Super fun Mary Arnold showed us the Flat Feet sock yarn, which I had never seen before.  Always late to the party I was blown away!  The yarn is not in a skein or a ball, it’s in a flat piece of fabric which is then hand dyed and painted.  They are amazing, you unravel one end and knit directly from the fabric.  I chose a hand painted “blanket” in turquoise and spring green dappled with purple. E___ scored the amazing tiger-stripe “blanket” which will no doubt knit up to perfectly coordinate with her SF Giants gear.

Mary also treated us to a set of HiyaHiya double pointed knitting needles so we could start *tonight*! Thank you Mary!  She kept running into us in the market where she would laugh and ask, “Have you started yet?” or “Are you wearing your new socks yet?” Hilarious! I’m dying (haha) to try some of their raw silk. Gorgeous! I have decided that with my new Flat Feet yarn I will make the Wedge socks in cookie a’s book “knit. sock. love”.


(photo from ConjoinedCreations.com)

After flirting heavily with the gorgeous felted silk and wool shawls at Alchemy and examining their Haiku mohair lace yarn, I decided to take my replacement spiral scarf into a new direction.  Why recreate it exactly and be reminded that it is a replacement to a beloved lost/damaged piece?  Instead I decided to try a new yarn and truly start fresh.

At Freia Handpaint Fibers, aka KnitWhits, Tina Whitmore was so gracious in discussing at length her beautiful new Freia Flux Lace yarn and we agreed it would make an incredible spiral scarf.  I scored 2 skeins of Flux Lace in Purpleheart and put it in my handbag to play with the rest of the night.  Tina is great fun, her yarn is named after her dog and the name Freia is a perfect match with her dog’s personality and the etymology  of Freia, the goddess of love and war.

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I admired her cute Lanesplitter skirt in her aqua sport weight yarn and she showed us her other Lanesplitter in shades of lavender and purple. She created the pattern, oh DUH!  We had great fun talking about the Lanesplitter craze and how she met “Patient Zero” who kicked off the craze in their local yarn store.   Tina checked put my figure and encouraged me to make a Lanesplitter in sportweight, and soon!  She asked that I post pictures on my spiral scarf in progress on her KnitWhits FB page and I will!!

It was such a delight to see the gorgeous Kira K again.  She was debuting new kits with her designs for small projects with rare and hard to find yarns.  Her hat and scarf designs were adorable and the yarns were so luscious but I had ran out of money by then. Yesterday I reviewed my queue on Ravelry and was reminded that I purchased the pattern for her fabulous Bell Curve skirt and it was fantastic to see it in person.     I did not find any suitable yarn at this particular event but I will find some to knit that up very soon.  This is another skirt pattern that is fantastic for ladies with (ahem) fluffy posteriors and long stems, like me.   I also have a jacket pattern of hers queued up and ready to go as soon as I finish the hundreds of other projects I want to make *tomorrow*.  Oh start-itis, how you vex me so.

It was Kira’s encouragement that got me started in knitting, to learn to read charts, and how to knit lace. My frantic visits to Artfibers during lunch breaks to get consultations and calming by Kira were crucial to my knitting infancy and her confidence in me was so appreciated. So, thank you, Kira, for everything!

I was very tempted by a Turkish drop spindle, it looked like a objet d’art in beautiful exotic woods, but at $60 I decided to hold off to get one until SOAR’s retreat next year.  I can’t wait for that!  I have a beautiful roving in fall colors in baby camel and silk that I would love to spin but don’t know how.  Yet.

Wallets sadly empty we bid Paula adieu and headed laden down to the car and out in the drizzle.  Our next stop was dinner – Ramen Club!   I hope anyone who is at the Interweave Knits lab takes a time out to visit Ramen Club, it truly is the best ramen I have ever had.  All the yarn and fun we had at the Knitter’s Market and this massive bowl of ramen made my sacrifice of fiber over food on Wednesday night completely worth it.

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