Sunday, September 25, 2011


Something happened here about a week ago.  Suddenly the days became drier and cooler, the sky turned that incredible shade of blue, the sunsets became earlier, more abrupt, but also more vivid and vibrant, the nights requested a blanket, the knitted garments came out to play, and the air filled with a different palette of colors and scents.  Pumpkins appeared for sale outside supermarkets, gas stations, and yes, even Home Depot.  

I love Fall; it might just be my favorite season.  I say "might" because every Spring I decide that is my favorite season,  until Fall comes along and I change my mind again.

That seems fitting, somehow, since Fall to me is all about balance.  The autumnal equinox, which occurred on Friday, was the day when Earth's axis was tilted neither towards nor away from the Sun, giving us all an almost perfect balance of light and dark.  

So this Fall season, as we celebrate the bountiful goodness of the harvest and the return of excellent knitting weather, my goal is to notice the balance without and work on achieving and maintaining balance within.  For example, instead of complaining about the colder longer nights, I'll remember that the best fleeces grow on sheep in colder, darker climates, not on Hawaii.

But where, you ask, is the balance to offset all the wonderful things about Fall that I listed in the first paragraph?  Ah, I was hoping to not have to mention this yet, but I guess this is the right time.  There are only 90 knitting days left until Christmas.  No pressure.  

And now, I present for your enjoyment a definitive sign that Fall has arrived at our house.

Cold Noel kitty and cold Bob trying to stay warm together in the computer room because mean Rainy won't turn the heat on in September.

Noel insists I also include this picture, which did not make quite make it into yesterdays post:

Don't worry, no Mountain Colors CrazyFoot sock yarn (90% superwash Merino wool, 10% nylon, colorway Osprey) was harmed in the making of this photo.

Happy Fall.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Where I explore why I feel let down by my stash

Fact:  knitters acquire stash.  It just happens inevitably.  Many of us, like me, start off virtuously only buying yarn for our next project.  This seems like a great idea, until the first yarn emergency strikes.  

Maybe the resolve ends the first time you sign up for a test knit on a Saturday afternoon and realize there is no way you can cast on until at least Monday and find yourself thinking "boy, if I only had a spare skein of worsted (or laceweight or fingerling or DK or bulky) in the house, this wouldn't have happened".  So next time you are at your favorite yarn store, you pick up a skein of your favorite color Cascade 220 "just in case".  Of course, the next yarn emergency requires a different weight or color or yardage, so you buy another "just in case".  Little do you realize that you have just taken your first tentative step on the slippery slope that, in its extreme, can lead to STABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy).  

For many of us, our self control (or, more likely, our budget) prevents us achieving STABLE condition, but we still wind up with a more than impressive collection of beautiful fibers just waiting for our attention.  These yarns appear from a variety of location:
  • bought for "next projects" that were re-prioritized or reconsidered,
  • souvenir yarns purchased from non-local yarn stores that carry a brand or line that you don't normally have access to,
  • purchases from indy dyers whose wares we can't resist trying after hearing another knitter swoon over, 
  • gifts or discards from other people
Some people scoff at a knitter's stash, but honestly, do we tell cooks that they have too many spices (do you REALLY need cardamom, coriander, AND cumin)?  or golfers that they don't need more than 1 putter?  when we visit an artists studio, do we sneer if they have more than 3 shades of green paint or acrylics AND oils?  No.  So I refuse to be defensive about my yarn stash, which fits very nicely into 2 Rubbermaid tubs, thank you very much!  Oops, that was rather defensive, wasn't it?

But while I refuse to feel defensive or insecure about the quantity (or quality) of my yarn stash, I do admit that sometimes I feel kind of let down or betrayed by my stash and it took me until today to figure out why.  I love yarn.  I love the feel of it, the texture that can be sleek and cool like silk or bamboo, or weightless, warm, and fluffy like alpaca, or just plain soft like merino wool (ooh don't believe people who say "wool is itchy!", there is butter that is scratchier than good baby merino wool).  I love the color of it, the depth and richness of hue, the way it can soothe the eye or be the visual equivalent of 10 minutes on a treadmill.  I love the almost infinite possibility that exists before needles and pattern are selected and the slip knot is cast.  I love it, but it lies.  Ooh it lies like a fickle lying liar.  

See this?

It's 800yds of Luxe (25% tussah silk, 75% superwash merino) from The Unique Sheep (non Rav link) in the Silverlode colorway.  This is one of their unique and awe inspiring gradiant colorways.  Notice (even in the bad picture) how it segues smoothly from deep rich blue at the top through the blues to finish as a silver gray at the bottom.  It is a work of art that two amazing women thought up and hand dyed just for ME.  I was searching for just the right color to make a Weekend Shawl that would remind me of the 24 hours Bob and I spent at the Oregon coast 2 years ago.   I didn't think the "right" color existed -- and then I found this.  The pattern of the shawl evokes the water rushing onto the shore. The dark blue at the top is the deeper water of the ocean, lightening up as it becomes shallower at the shore. The light blue is the shallow water rushing over the sand and the silver gray is the foam being pushed ahead of the water.  Perfect.  The mental picture is so clear.  But it is a lie.  That isn't a shawl.  It is 800 yards of incredibly beautiful yarn.

Just like this ... 

(Madelinetosh merino light in Tart) ... is NOT an Asterope

This ... 

(Knitpicks Shadow laceweight yarn in Cattails, much less spinachy IRL) ... is NOT a Maia.

THIS ...

has stubbornly chosen to remain 10 skeins of Classic Elite Moorland in color Loch Ness, refusing to turn itself into THIS:

These two little suckers have refused to even TELL me what they intend to become, firmly remaining ... 

Black Bunny Fibers (non Rav link) Bulky Blend (85% merino, 15% alpaca), 350 yds of Ocean Rock (it's a bit greener and brighter IRL), and 

KnitPicks Shadow laceweight in Oregon Coast colorway.

To paraphrase a real conversation:
me:  ... and I got a skein of Oregon Coast (holds it up)
Bob:  you didn't just buy that for the name, did you?
me:  ooh, look, a butterfly!

Okay, so perhaps it is a bit of hyperbole with more than a dash of anthropomorphism to claim that the stash yarns LIE.  But do you see the problem?  I don't BUY a yarn.  I BUY a concept, an idea, a vision, a dream.  And frequently, the concept, idea, vision, dream is realized (at a rate of about 6 kilometers of realization so far this year), but until then I gaze longingly at my stash expecting to see Weekend Shawls and Asteropes and Maias.  And instead, in the box, gazing back at me, is just beautiful fiber and beautiful dreams.  

Maybe "just" is a bit harsh.

Maybe ... just maybe ... it is enough to have dreams and the skills to turn those dreams into reality.  Someday.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Zombies Ate My Brain!

Well, no, not really, but that sounds a lot better than any of the other excuses I have for my absence, most of which involve a computer in the shop for a week, no DSL for three weeks, and a new iPhone that I haven't learned to post from.  And technically, if you consider how much time I have spent playing Plants vs Zombies on the above mentioned iPhone since we last chatted, you could say that the title is accurate.  But this isn't why you're here, is it?

This is:

Merope Shawl from Romi's 7 Small Shawls Year One: The Pleiades in Dream in Color Starry, colorway: Cloud Jungle.    The color looks odd  in that picture but if you tip your head to the side and squint a little, you can see the lovely silver threads that run through the yarn, making the shawl all glittery.  

This picture of the work in progress, is more color accurate:

Merope is also my first beaded shawl, as this close-up shows:

My adventures in beading will be covered in their own spellbinding post.  Soon. I promise.  No, really.  Whatever!

The only thing harder than getting a good photo of this yarn is getting a good photo of the BEADS on this yarn.  Trust me, it is really pretty.  Subtle color tones + sparkly yarn and beads = a shawl I love to wear.

And, just because she can, Romi also threw into the ebook a little matching cowl pattern so we could have christmas gifts for people who don't love shawls (they exist! I know, that's what I said!  Shocker!).  So I introduce for your viewing pleasure, Merope's Cowl,  I love the way she segued from one Merope motif to the next with a little Asterope  thrown in for fun.

I knit this with ArtYarn Glitter 100% cashmere plus silver thread (don't get me started on how it can be 100% something plus something else).  My first time using 100% cashmere.  Must.Do.It.Again.  (BTW, this marvelous christmas gift does not have an intended recipient yet.  If you are related to me or a friend on my gift list and want this warm and incredibly soft cowl, tell me.  Consider it your reward for letting me know you actually read my blog!  If you want it but need a different color, let me know that too, I'd love to make this pattern again, it is that awesome to knit).

As you've probably figured out if you are still reading this, I have developed a massive crush on Rosemary Hill's designs (you can find her at, a non-Ravelry address for a change).  I love her Seven Small Shawls Year One: the Pleiades and have been busy acquiring yarn to make at least 4 more of these, Maia, Asterope, Celeano, and Alcyone.  I also subscribed to her second e-book, Seven Small Shawls Year Two: the Muses.  She just released the first Muse, Kleio (the muse of History) so we have 6 more to look forward to in 2011.  

I have another fabulous Romi shawl on the needles now, Live Oak Shawlette.  No pics yet, I'm only on the second row of the lace so it doesn't look like anything yet.  I am just enchanted by the little oak leaves that make up the border.  So autumnal!

For you Ravelers, after checking out Romi's designs and falling in love, come join us in the @ Romi's Studio group.  It is filled with some of the nicest, most encouraging, and most fun people I've ever met.  I am honored that they let me hang out with them.

You may have noticed that my Merope's Shawl is actually called Psyche's Shawl.  This is in honor of our kitty, Psyche, who passed away on June 4th.   We miss you, Princess.