Friday, February 23, 2007

A Knitter's Lent

In addition to the more usual observations during this time, Lent has become a factor in my knitting (and now spinning -- more on that in a moment). I am devoting most of my knitterly efforts to the Violet's Pink Ribbon Knit-A-Long and sending healing thoughts to Miss Violet. I also found a these readings that touch both the yarn and the spirit:

Spinning a Yarn

Linen Spinning for the Shroud of Turin

Both are excellent articles. I love anything that delves into the historical, technical, "how things are made," particularly relating to fiber arts and textiles. I thought the piece was really absorbing. Spinning a Yarn is simply beautiful, and the author perfectly describes the productive-yet-calming-yet-'wasting time'ness of spinning.

I had entertained the idea of not buying yarn during Lent, but this was apparently too much to hope for. I popped in to Nine Rubies Knitting in downtown San Mateo on Saturday. I didn't go crazy - just a few skeins of sock yarn - but yeah. The Lenten Yarn Fast will now have to get serious.

This was the first time I had been to Nine Rubies. It is an absolutely beautiful shop, and the staff was very welcoming and helpful. I love the way the yarns are displayed, and the needles and notions are tucked into handy corners throughout the shop. My favorite features are a backroom with a big table for social knitting, and a fantastic area in the front bay window -- if Jane Eyre was a knitter, she would have secreted herself in this spot for a bit of quiet knitting (instead of in the window seats behind the curtains with a good book). In this auspicious spot, I found some Tilli Thomas yarns (which I didn't buy), and some Schaefer Anne (which I did) as well as a great selection of books. I wouldn't hesitate to send other knitters, local and visiting, to this shop. I know I will definitely be back.

This is in contrast to the yarn shop I popped into the previous weekend, also for the first time, and to which I will probably not return. I don't necessarily feel like I have to be greeted and welcomed with great fanfare when I enter a shop, but even to me, this place seemed a bit chilly in that regard. Not chilly. Impersonal. It had the feel of the temporary headquarters for a political campaign. More like a conference room than a yarn shop.

Though they had some things I would most definitely buy (Koigu, for example), the prices seemed high, so I gave the old pocketbook a rest. The yarns were arranged by colors in bins along the wall.... which can make a pretty sort of gradation or palette around the shop, but makes it cumbersome to shop for anything specific. Most folks I know aren't looking for "a red yarn," they are looking for "something in a worsted weight," first, and then start considering color. The selection of needles and notions was not very wide, and again, I noticed that the Crystal Palace needles (which I buy regularly) were about $3 more than I usually see.

So. Spinning. A few weeks ago, I started spinning with a spindle and fiber I got from Hello Yarn. It definitely took me a bit to get used to handling a spindle, and though I am by no means adept, I have enjoyed it and I have spun two small hanks of pretty regular singles. It was enough of an introduction to inspire teaching myself to spin on a wheel, and purchasing a wheel. I chose the Kromski Prelude; I can't wait until it gets here.

In other news, I frogged the EPS sweater, for two reasons. First was yarn choice. I love the yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted), and will certainly use it in something else -- just not a sweater. Probably a small throw.

I finished my mock cable socks a while back. They turned out absolutely great. In fact, I am wearing them right now. I haven't cast on any new socks, although I have been wanting to. I think I will save it for my first shipment in the Rockin' Sock Club.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


I counted up all of my UFOs and determined that my WIP list in the sidebar is a wee bit inaccurate. I cheated and only included what I conveniently consider the "active" projects, and the smaller ones that I start and finish pretty quickly, like the gifty scarf, and anything that sounds really impressive, like Fir Cone. This is the complete, annotated list, as of today:

1. EPS Sweater (nearly done)*

2. Mock Cable Socks (nearly done)*

3. Cascade Fixation socks (not a whole lot of progress, but for DH and definitely a keeper)

4. Ivy sweater from Knitty (just cast on - but definitely a keeper)

5. Reversible Cable Shawl (might be frogged - think yarn would be better in another, albeit unspecified, project)

6. Children of Lir Stole (loving it, good progress)*

7. Fir Cone Shawl from Folk Shawls (cast on only; might be frogged; think would be better in slightly heavier yarn -- this is a true laceweight)

8. Fair Isle golf club covers (1 nearly done; planning set of 3).

(*) denotes "active" projects.

I think that is everything. I hope so, as I clearly already have a problem. I used to keep it strictly to three, but I have gone a little crazy over the last few months.

Here is the plan:

A. Finish UFOs 1, 2 and 6.

B. Do not cast on anything new, including socks. No matter how strongly I might feel to the contrary, the Sophie's Toes (June Wedding colorway) and Lisa Souza Sock! (Jonquil colorway) are included in the moratorium.

C. Frog 5 and 7. It sucks, but it is time to face reality. The Anny Blatt fine kid could be a gorgeous twinset, and I really should have a slightly heavier yarn for the Fir Cone. The Lisa Souza laceweight will be better served in a different project, or even a couple of projects. Maybe matching triangular shawls for me & my mom.

D. Keep 3, 4 and 8, bumping them up in the queue as 1, 2 and 6 are finished.