Monday, June 29, 2009

Sensory Overload

Ah, Black Sheep Gathering, how I adore it. I look forward to it every year; honestly, it’s better than Christmas and nearly as good as my birthday.

There are so many things to see, so many incredible colors and textures, so many people and so much laughter. It’s a great place to meet people, especially if you play Black Sheep Bingo. I’ve played as both a player and a square for the past two years, and even though I’ve never gotten a bingo on my card, getting the chance to connect with so many people is great fun, not to mention a very good exercise for an introvert. I feel a little bad about forgetting to put their button on my blog this year, but I resolve to do better next year!

I spent quite a bit of time in the livestock barns this year, meeting lots of fiber on the hoof and telling all the animals how beautiful they are. I mean really, how can you look at a pen full of baby angora goats and not have your heart melt?


Not that the adults give anything away in the cuteness department…


This sign in the SuDan Farm area made me smile.


These wee babies are just a week old and were some of the stars of the barn.


They’re dairy kids who were brought to the show because they were being bottle-fed… I really wanted to take one home with me; I just couldn’t come up with a way to convince my husband it was a good idea.

On Sunday I got a chance to get up close and personal with the winners in the Fiber Arts Show. Goodness, all the creativity and skill on display were inspiring.

This is one of my particular favorites


I swear my hair looks just like that some mornings… it’s uncanny how the artist knew that!

The Black Sheep Cup is given to the best overall entry in the adult divisions, and this year’s winner just knocked me out.




That’s 2-ply handspun silk, knitted up into a shawl designed by the crafter. It’s got the most amazing drape and shine, and the attention to detail is astonishing.

For just a few minutes I felt inadequate for using machine-milled yarn and other people’s patterns for my projects. Then I reminded myself that four years ago I didn’t know a yarn-over from a hole in the wall, and I felt better.

It was a marvelous three days, and I’m looking forward to doing it all again next year, even though it took me a few days to recover from the sensory overload.

If you find yourself in this part of the world next June, I would strongly recommend you come see it all for yourself, and look me up in the process. I’ll be the one with the camera in my hand and two shopping bags over my shoulders. I’ll be sporting a goofy grin, and I’ll be babbling about all the wonderful yarn and all the beautiful animals. I shouldn’t be hard to spot at all.

Next Up: Show-And-Tell of what followed me home from Black Sheep Gathering. Even though I didn’t bring home a dairy kid, I still got some amazing things!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Half Of The Forest

I bound off the first half of my Ancient Woodlands shawl at my knitting group last Monday, and it felt like I had passed a major milestone. It got passed around the table to much ooooh-ing and aaaah-ing, and I had to keep a sharp eye on one of my friends who would very much like to have it for her own.


It was nice to spread it out over the table, run my hands over it and just marvel that I’m actually making it with my own hands.


Then it was time to contemplate the next step, unzipping the crochet cast-on and getting the loops back on the needles so I could repeat the pattern in the other direction.

Armed with my US 0’s (2 mm) I did the deep breathing thing for a few minutes and got to work.

Slide the needle into a few stitches


And gently unravel the crochet cotton


Again and again and again.

Then I did a certain amount of counting and head scratching. 113 stitches? That can’t be right; I’ve been mentally counting to 114 for weeks now. Do it again… 111, 112, 113… drat.

Then a snippet of knitterly lore swam up from where it had been hiding, deep in the recesses of the portion of my brain known as I’ve Read About This Somewhere.

I remembered that if you’re going to be taking a provisional cast-on out and knitting in the other direction, you need to cast on one extra stitch and then decrease it away in the first row. That way you’ll end up with the correct number of loops, instead of being presented with the need to do an increase after taking out the provisional.

I’ll admit it here… I fudged it. And you know what? I can’t find it anymore.

Since then I’ve been pretty much obsessed with this shawl. I finished nearly half of the first chart over the weekend, and I’m up to the 51st row as of this picture.


Who knows, I might even stand a decent chance of finishing this one before the next shipment arrives!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Holding My Feet To The Fire

As promised, I have actual knitting to talk about in this, and I even have pictures. Not only that, but it’s only been three days since my last post. I’m on a roll folks, I can feel it!

The Gas Flame Socks are done, and I’m very happy with them.


The yarn did what many Socks That Rock skeins seem to do, which is produce one section of fairly even stripes, and another section with spirals and/or flashing. It drives some people nuts, but I didn’t mind it at all in this pattern.


They’re worked from the toe up, with short-row toes, gussets worked in a lovely purled panel, a short-row heel and a very clever heel flap (which completely eluded my photographic skills.)


These socks were an interesting challenge to knit. The toes made me doubt my ability to count, and the twisted stitches combined with the cables made certain that I never got bored with them.

A word to the wise: twisted stitches eat yarn. This is how much I had leftover out of a 360 yard skein…

11 Yards

Project Details
Pattern: Firestarter from Yarnissima
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Rare Gems
Needles: US 1.5 (2.5 mm) toe to mid-leg, US 2.5 (3.0 mm) mid-leg to bind off, US 3 (3.25 mm) bind-off
Mods: none

If I knit this pattern again, I will:
  • Either pay attention to row gauge or stop the gusset increases several rounds sooner.
  • Stick with the smaller needle rather than switching so that the leg will be a bit snugger.
  • Continue with the cable pattern for a couple more repeats.

I really enjoyed working on these socks, both because of the pattern and because of the yarn. If you’re looking for a pattern to challenge you, this is definitely one to look at.

Next up:
The Ancient Woodlands Shawl will make an appearance.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Disjointed and Photoless

That’s pretty much the story of my life these days. Today is the first day in over a week that hasn’t been overcast, and of course I have nothing to photograph.


So, lets just look at this post as an exercise in imagination, shall we?

I finished my February Lady Sweater, and tossed it in the washer, since the tag said that the Brooks Farm Mac-Acero was superwash. Except for how it wasn’t. It didn’t felt up hard like a pair of slippers, but it’s definitely a bit smaller than I intended. I sniffled over it for a few minutes, but I didn’t actually rage about it. Lucky for everyone concerned, it fits my mother reasonably well.

I also finished the Firestarters with about twelve yards of yarn left over. They’re lovely, although I’ve made some modification notes in case I decide to do them again. I either need to a) pay attention to row gauge or b) stop increasing on the gussets a few rounds earlier. But oh goodness, are they ever lovely!

Still working away on Ancient Woodlands, doing seemingly endless rows of seed stitch for the border. It just keeps getting prettier and prettier. Soon I’ll be ready to unzip the provisional cast-on and do the whole thing again. I’d better get a move on, because the second shipment is supposed to be coming at the end of the month.

What else, what else?

Things at work have been a bit on the crazy side, what with campus services periodically winking out of existence. Something about new load balancers on the servers not necessarily balancing so much as overloading. I’m seriously considering sending chocolate and or beer over to the wizards in the IS department, they must be just about ready to mutiny.

And, just to put the lie to the title of this post, here’s the one good shot I seem to have on my camera.


My beloved Peace Rose after a night of rain.

Next time, knitting pictures, I promise!