Monday, November 10, 2008

Back from Baltimore

I've been tremendously busy of late. I changed jobs on October 1 and also signed up for several writing classes. Between work and my homework assignments, I haven't had much time to blog but will make an effort to bring this up to date especially since I've been working on many new projects.

I decided, perhaps too ambitiously, that I would make scarves and neckwarmers for everyone in my family and present them at Thanksgiving (which is, you know, two weeks from yesterday!). I've got three versions of neckwarmers for the ladies: a cabled design with ruffle from Elsebeth Lavold, a pattern from a recent holiday knit magazine (details to follow with photo) and simple circular knits. I'm using a silky blend (new yarn--need to update with the details) with two strands of Koigu for the ruffled neckwarmers--I did one with only one strand of Koigu already and it's okay but a little too short. I got Torino in bright red and greens for the magazine pattern--I have two darling buttons that look like candy cane stripes for the red and got red glass buttons for the green version. The simple neckwarmers are my own (extremely simple) design--I'm using Zara mixed with New Smoking for red and white stripes for one and red and white baby alpaca for the other. I bought some tiny red and green bells to knit into the second one for holiday cheer. I also have some fancy white yarn with little beads that look like snowmen already wound in for one of my nieces.

The scarves for men are going to be more challenging just because they need to be longer. I am making a seed stitch scarf with alternating colors of Frog Tree Alpaca for my dad. You start with 3 strands of color A for 5" then switch to 2 strands of A and 1 strand of B. Then 1 strand of A and two of B, then three of B, etc. I have red alpaca for my brother-in-law and green alpaca for my niece's fiance. And red wool for both nephews. I'm toying with the idea of red and green stripes--need to see how it goes.

I didn't really didn't buy much yarn at Stitches although I did get a kit to make needle felted elves for Christmas as well as molds for needle felting little shapes. I got roving in holiday colors and the molds are leaves and berries and snowflakes--you've picked up on the holiday theme, no doubt. I'm thinking of a red sweater for my youngest niece and embellishing it with these things--but I feel like gifting something like that on Christmas is a waste because the time to wear it is so short. Maybe I'll make it a Valentine's Day theme...

I did snatch up some nice black yarn that has silver flecks in it--knitted up into a shawl, it looks like there are spots of silver on it--very nice for evening wear and it's knit on BIG needles. I also got some new Colinette Zanziba and Fandango. I loved the sample but didn't realize that the pattern was One Size Fits Most. I ordered extra of each yarn (they are knit together) so I could size up a little but have gotten bogged down in the math. The pattern calls for size 19 needles. I'm a loose knitter in general and tend to go down two needle sizes for regular needles and at least one size down for the larger needle sizes. I don't like the look on #19s as it is too loose but can't get gauge on #15 and #17. I'll put that down for a while and focus on other things.

I got some beautiful sweater picks from the Great Yarns booth at Stitches to gift along with the neckwarmers and lovely beaded handles for a bag from the same place.

I had a hard time selecting classes for Stitches this year. There are several teachers who I enjoy very much--Melissa Leapman, Lily Chin, Chris Bylsma (sp?) and Gwen Bortner are a few. One of the things I've found is that the class description doesn't always accurately communicate what the class is about. For instance, last year I took a color class--I thought we were talking about theory and in reality it included intarsia knitting, which I do not know how to do, which frankly blew. So I'm pretty careful. I was signing up for a Saturday afternoon class with the same teacher as the class for Sunday morning. I'd never taken a class with her before and knew it was a risk and (unfortunately) threw caution to the wind and signed up anyway.

What a CRAB!!!!!!!

Our classroom was at the back of beyond and I was a few minutes late. She didn't greet me but was compelled to shriek at me to sit upfront. I don't know if you have ever been to one of these classes, but they are typically set up classroom style and in the manner of first come, first served, people spread out and move their chairs. I was not interested in sitting squished between two people who are already nesting or getting stuck by the table leg and sitting uncomfortably for three hours. And that was just the first three minutes.

After much consideration, I bagged the class Sunday morning and will eventually get around to sending Rick Mondragon a strongly worded letter about this experience.

We had incredibly gorgeous weekend in Baltimore and I set off for home at around nine in the morning; stopped in East Brunswick to pick up my coats that were in winter storage and drove right up to The Skein Attraction in Teaneck, my LYS. There, of course, I was greeted warmly. They were holding a copy of the new Mason/Dixon book for me and I bought more holiday yarn as well as some Manos to make the bag to match the handles I bought at Stitches.

I had seen a lot of ruffles at Stitches and wondered if there were an easy way to accomplish this. They came up with an awesome idea to use Touch Me in between the Manos to create that effect after felting. I'm so excited to see how this turns out. The colors of the beads on the handles are different shades of pink, black and maroon. The Manos is pinky maroon and the Touch Me colors are wine, a similar maroon-ish color and light pink. It might get a bit tedious because I have to increase 50% of stitches when I go from Manos to Touch Me then decrease those stitches when I go back to Manos and I'm going to do it three times. but I think it will be worth it. I ordered the mesh to put in the felted bag from the Yarn Lady today and still need to find someone to line the bag for me and attach the handles, but I'm excited--can you tell?

I'll try to get pictures up this weekend so show you what I've been up to.