Category Archives: rhinebeck

On sucking less

The knitting internets have been gathering momentum the past few weeks. There have been countdowns tossed around on Twitter, SQUEE IN ALL CAPS, excitement over packing and things to knit. Rhinebeck approacheth. I am lucky enough to be attending for the 4th year in a row, and it is always a good time with knitterly interaction, much yarn to be fondled…and the wearing of new knitted sweaters.

I’ve had my own sweater identified for quite a while. Ever since I designed Royale back in the spring, I knew I needed to have one of my own. It was a sad, sad day my friends, when I had to give up the sample to Tanis (though less sad for her, admittedly). I cast on for my own back at the end of July during my California trip, during which time there was much airplane knitting and car knitting, and good opportunities to get it started. It’s been a sporadic knit, largely because I keep putting it down to work on other things in between.

And also because I keep royally screwing it up. And for no good reason whatsoever, becauseĀ I’ve made mistakes on this sweater that are nothing to do with the pattern. The fact that I designed this myself clearly has given me no turf advantage whatsoever. It’s like the yarn and needles got together and said “hah hah, we’ll show her who’s boss.”

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For real, folks, I knitted the original sample in 3 weeks. It was awesome. It could not have gone BETTER. But clearly, now that I am working on my own – even starting it during the leisurely dog days of summer – the universe has come along not once but three times to kick me in the shins.

The first time this happened was that I realized, while sitting in Liz’s living room the morning after I had spent 5 hours from Toronto to San Francisco knitting in front of the airplane seat television, that I had in fact cast on for the wrong size. Rookie mistake, which could not be gotten around. I ripped back, and started over.

The second time this happened was back in August, when my subconscious brain somehow allowed me to stop paying attention to the central pattern chart, and I repeated a whole separate chunk of it in a completely unnecessary fashion. Many of you looked at my blog post back then and said “Um, Glenna, I can’t tell. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And it could well be the case that I would wear the sweater out and about and nobody would ever know. But I would know. I envisioned myself wearing the sweater around other knitters and having to either walk with my arms folded over me the whole time, or repeatedly say things like “do you like my sweater? I made it myself! except, don’t pay attention to the huge mistake right above the middle of my ribcage, lalalala. Wow that’s nice yarn over there, let’s talk about that instead.”

So I ripped back another four inches and re-knitted it.

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The third time happened a few weeks ago, and I had to spend several moments with the sweater laid out on the couch next to me just staring at it and deciding what was going to happen next. I had neglected that step with using hand-dyed yarn where, in order to avoid severe-looking colour changes when using skeins that look ever so slightly different from each other, you alternate between two skeins for a while until they start to blend. I know how to do this. Heck, I’ve DONE this, many times. I’m pretty sure I’ve even written it down in pattern instructions a few times before. I AM SMARTER THAN THIS. AHAHHAHAH.

I reasoned with myself that maybe it wouldn’t be that obvious in different lights, that maybe people wouldn’t notice…And then my brain finally said “listen. All those other times when you did something sucky, you ripped it out and made the suckiness go away. You’re going to let all of that go to waste by letting the third sucky thing stick around?”
No, no I did not. I ripped it back again.

And now I have most of the body and most of one sleeve, and a week to go before I leave for Rhinebeck, so I’m sincerely hoping that the third time was the charm and that my yarn and needles haven’t got a fourth and fifth mistake session in the works for me. Please, dear sweater, we’ll both be so much happier when I’m wearing you around the knitterly fairgrounds. Deal?

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Filed under fearless knitting, rhinebeck, sweaters

What comes of not having a plan

Exhaustion is starting to become a theme around these parts. Now that the term is in full swing I’m starting to feel it, and even though in a couple of weeks I know I’ll start to turn that corner when the end is near and I get a burst of energy back, right now it seems to be enough just to make it to dinner time. So it is both enjoyable and odd that I would add another layer of travel exhaustion onto all of this by hauling myself off to a weekend wool festival.

The reason I bring this up is that today I got home in time enough to photograph my Rhinebeck purchases (daylight hours are starting to diminish), and dudes….some of this stuff I only have vague memories of buying it. And then I remembered that my Saturday at Rhinebeck was sort of this odd plan-less mixture of relaxation (from being with all the knitters and the wool) and fatigue (from the work-travel cocktail), and not only that but guys…I had no plan whatsoever when I went to Rhinebeck this year. None. I think the extent of my plan was “I like yarn and will buy some.” Usually I say to myself “I will look for a sweater’s worth of something in worsted” or “must definitely stop by this particular booth,” but this year by the time I realized I should have done that, it was mid-afternoon and my tote bag was already half-full and I was sort of adrift on impulse. Next year I will go with a plan.

Not that I came home with crap, mind you. Oh no. I may have picked up bits and bobs of things that I didn’t fully understand at the time (like the armload of A Touch of Twist in this post, which is beautiful but I swear I have no idea what I am going to do with it), but mostly I think I chose wisely.

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As, for example, with these 3 Into The Whirled braids. I know that once I finally get back into a spinning routine, these will be so much fun to try out. They are, from bottom to top, merino, merino/silk/bamboo, and polwarth. And the colours are beautiful and how can you go wrong with awesome colour?

Also, for the first time this year I finally made it into the Brooks Farm booth. (Note to self: get there earlier next year). This was the point in the day when I was trying to find a sweater yarn, but then flamed out and decided “you know, Glenna, maybe you should shoot for hat and mitts.” (The temperatures may have had something to do with this thought). So after some decision-making, I got 3 skeins of Solana, which is a worsted-weight superwash that comes in their usual awesome Brooks Farm colours.

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I also remembered the sock yarns. I remembered to go by the Holiday Yarns booth, because I got a skein of their Flock Sock last year and quite liked it, so I grabbed a skein in ‘Orange You Glad’ to break out of my colour norms, and also a Kitri kit (not pictured). The red and the blue yarns there are J Knits sock yarn, from the Seaport Yarns booth, because I remembered at the end of the day that I’m currently on the lookout for red and blue sock yarns (for a design project currently in its conceptual stage…soon…soon…)

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But you know, I think my favourite purchase from the day were these 2 skeins of sock yarn (fingering weight, in the teal, and sport weight in the lilac) from Steam Valley Fibers.

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It’s a vendor I haven’t purchased from before, and you know, those 10 minutes or so that I spent looking at all the colours and pondering which ones to get, and chatting with the other knitters who were looking at the same yarn, and then paying and inquiring briefly about the yarn with the vendors themselves…those were a pretty good 10 minutes. One of the challenges at Rhinebeck is the crowds and the patience and the wanting to get to the yarn that you want, and you know, the Steam Valley Fibers booth wasn’t stressful at all. It wasn’t empty by any means, but it was still good to get into and get out of and the yarns were beautiful. I like these 2 skeins.

So even though I wish I’d been a bit more organized about my purchasing, I’m happy that I grabbed several things I’ve not tried before, and as a result I have expanded my toolbox stash a bit more. I’ve got some things that I’m glad to try out or see what comes of them, even if they don’t have specific plans attached.

And you know…looking at all the yarn now, I gotta say, it’s pretty restorative. I like yarn. And it’s nice to look at and know that it’ll become something, some time in the future.

Knit on, my blogland friends!

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Filed under rhinebeck, stash

If you can find a group of people

Here I sit this morning, enjoying some of Manhattan’s fine caffeine and free wireless, pondering the happenings of the weekend, regretting my return to the real world, envying all these stylish New York women who breeze around elegantly in their wool coats and tall boots and brilliant handbags and wondering what sort of effort it takes to be a part of that, and thinking that I really need to come back to this part of the world more often. There are good friends, and good yarn shops, and – oh yes – the occasional nearby sheep and wool festival.

My weekend comrades were Rebecca as per usual, and Liz who joined us for her first Rhinebeck weekend ever. Last night we had quick catch up dinner and ice cream with Melanie, and over the Saturday of Rhinebeck I ran into lots of awesome people, many of whom I completely forgot to photograph, thanks to my consistent alternating state between very relaxed and very exhausted. I do know, however, that hugging Elspeth hello never gets old, that Elspeth’s posse is the best bunch ever to have post-wool-festival home made dinner with, that Bonne Marie and Jodi are wonderful to talk to in person, that Toronto knitters are everywhere and will always find each other (found Kim and Molly, below) and that I am quickly finding that while these wooly weekends are superficially about the knitting, they are actually mostly about the people. Can we do this again next month?

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Because I think if you can find a group of people with whom you can deeply discuss and debate knitting technique and pattern construction, Jane Austen adaptations, the trashy allure of Twilight, current politics, DC and New York neighbourhoods, Almodovar’s films, whether or not your favourite actor is alternately smart as a tack or dumb as a brick, or possibly whether he is gay or straight, and then circle back around to knitting…I think that you are probably doing better than many other people, and I am so grateful for reminders of that.

Rhinebeck was pretty cool. (In more ways than one. Thank the dear sweet and fluffy lord I had my Ultra Alpaca Cassidy and podster mitts and slouchy beret as backup. Temps were a few degrees above freezing for most of Friday and Saturday.)

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There was a lot of yarn (more on that tomorrow), there were friendly sheep and alpacas.

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In fact, Ann (above; Annimol on Ravelry) even got one of the friendliest sheep’s fleeces and immediately trucked it off for processing. We felt how soft the sample lock was and promptly reeled in our jealousy. Because Ann is actually a very nice and reasonable person (why yes it IS reasonable to kiss your newfound fleece) and if you can go to Rhinebeck and get something like that for your very own, then more power to you, I say.

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And then there was train time and knitting time, and dinner and ice cream and sitting time, and now it’s all over and I have to go back. The real world is harsh and cruel. I think there might be something to the whole “Imaginary Rhinebeck” weekend thing. That’s a visit I’d like to make any time.

May your Monday be as painless as possible, and may your knitting welcome you when you come home. Catch you next time!

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Filed under knitting in public, rhinebeck

Somewhere in there I bought yarn

Re-entry after a knitting/touristing weekend is always hard. On the one hand, it’s fantastic to be back in my own bed, my own routine, and even work is comforting in its own way. On the other hand, after all the intense exposure to yarn, patterns, friends, and all the beautiful hand-knits that were out walking around at Rhinebeck, and the way it becomes so easy to slip into knitting world and the way it seems completely normal to be dashing for a subway one minute and calmly discussing the merits of different methods of SSK decreases the next…After that it seems like the only reasonable way to spend your day would be to stay home, watch all your X-Files DVDs, and cast on for eleven new projects.

I’m still at that point, contemplating my to-do list that easily fills an entire page, but if I just glance around I can see my new yarn which is about to join its friends in my stash, and surprisingly enough I am finding myself just as excited to return to the stuff that was in my stash in the first place. I want to knit anything, everything, and the temperatures outside are falling fast enough that this is not just desirable but necessary if I want to be able to cover my hands and head and feet (or anyone else’s, come Christmas).

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So what did I buy? The weekend went by in such a blur that I almost forgot about that part. In fact, some of these purchases seemed to happen so fast that I hardly remember them. Above, my biggest purchase was from the folks at Wild Apple Hill once again, proving that my Knitting Kryptonite always comes in the form of dirt cheap sheepy wool. After starting to knit my new Twist Cardigan with the Wild Apple wool I bought last year, I knew i wanted at least 1 more go-around with this stuff so I fell upon a dark purple-brown shade not dissimilar from the shade of Berrocco Ultra Alpaca I was wearing that same day. This wool is not for drape or glitz, but it is very servicable for cabled pullovers and warmth, and I’ll sign up for that any day.

The rest of my new stashlets came in a smorgaboard of fingering weight:

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These are 4 skeins of heathery fingering-weight wool from A Touch of Twist, destined very soon to become some form of stranded mittens; 2 skeins of Socks That Rock mill ends from the Fold (an extremely intense purchasing experience – crowded booth and long lineup); and a pleasant find from Sliver Moon, a super long skein of fingering weight of over 1000 yards – an enormous shawl shall be mine!

As far as actual knitting, I also got to start a new pair of socks this weekend, in triumph over finishing the pair I’d brought with me. From the Lorna’s Laces acquired on last April’s visit to Knitty City, a new pair of Jaywalkers is already well under way.

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And now I’ve got the rest of my to-do list, laundry, and stash contemplation to get back to.
Hug some yarn today.

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Filed under rhinebeck, socks, stash

Please stand by

After experiencing empirical evidence (once again) of the failing combination of Air Canada/Newark Airport, I am home after some delay but did at the very least use my time on flight delays to snag some photos off of my camera! At home now, in between gulps sips of vodka cold straight vodka a refreshing beverage I am pleased to be able to share some photos from the weekend highlights as I count down the minutes until I can pour myself into a pre-bedtime bubble bath reminisce fondly over some of the bits of weekend fun that did indeed happen before Air Canada decided to screw over their computer system, me, and goodness knows how many other passengers.

For lo, I am returned from Rhinebeck, and yea verily, there were good things and good people to be found there.

I found Lisa from Toronto buying Socks That Rock, which I also did and am happily admiring the wares. (However, note to The Fold: dudes, three words: Cash Only Checkout. Would speed things up by half if those of us with cash could hand it over and dash out again).

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I found Emily from Toronto buying Briar Rose (she was also making a good demonstration of the Buy Yarn in Colours You Are Wearing Principle, which Rebecca and I also put to good effect over the weekend)

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I found Franklin, signing his new book (which got me through some good bedtime reading and a few rough moments in airports today, just sayin). I told him he was #3 on my list of Things I Must Get To at Rhinebeck, and he said he was flattered to make the Top 5. Franklin, you are Top 5 in my book any day.

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In the process I also found other knitters waiting to see Franklin, reading and enjoying the book while waiting:

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I found Elspeth from New York, who is indeed as wry as her moniker suggests. We tried the whole “take a fun photo of yourself and the fun people you meet” photo thing. It was off-centre but good. She tried to tell me the wool fingering weight I got at A Touch of Twist was too rough and that I’d have to end up sending the finished mittens to her, but I suspect she is not to be completely trusted.

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Elspeth comes with a posse. (I suspect also that if she did not come with one, she would create one as she went.)

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I found Robyn from Montreal and her band of family and friends and (momentarily asleep) young’un. She was doing quite well considering she had just discovered an hour before this photo that she had lost her credit card.

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I split half of the very last baked potato to be found on the Saturday:

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I observed Rebecca and Melanie making important yarn selection decisions at Sliver Moon. I didn’t buy anything there though until the 3rd visit anyway.

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Rebecca and I admired each others’ finished Rhinebeck sweaters:

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We all observed a lot of yarn:

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And my finished Cabled Swing Cardi came through with flying colours, with perfect sweater-wearing weather all weekend long.

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Next post: More from New York, and more from my newfound stash acquisitions. I’m off to put the feet up and find the bath bubbles.

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Filed under knitting tourism, rhinebeck

Soon. Soon.

In 2 more sleeps I will be on my way to New York City, to the waiting and generous spare bed of my knitting pal Rebecca, then on Saturday it will be off to the New York Sheep and Wool festival, aka Rhinebeck. Wait, there’s something missing in that description, what was it…oh yeah: WOO HOO.

I am so excited. I’ve been looking forward to this like whoa. It’s smack-dab in the middle of the term when both students and profs alike are getting a bit weary, and so far I haven’t had a bad trip to New York yet (knock on wood). For about a month I’ve been saying “I wish Rhinebeck was right now”, and soon it will be, yee-haw! I’ve got two or three vendors in mind that I want to get to first, and after that will be very happy to browse at leisure, and I’m hoping to run into a few of you fellow knit-bloggers out there too. Also, word on the street is that it’s going to be sweater-weather this weekend, which means a wonderful parade of knitwear will be waiting to be ogled.

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Thankfully, my own Rhinebeck sweater has been completed and ready and waiting for a week now, and lo and behold, it is lovely. My Cabled Swing Cardi fits beautifully and I think it looks darned smashing. Sadly it’s a bit grey out right now and this is probably not the best light for photography…and it would be even better to be wearing it IN the picture, but a photo session just hasn’t been in the cards the past few days. I’ll try to make up for that on the weekend.

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Pattern: Cabled Swing Cardi by Norah Gaughan, in The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes.
Yarn: Berrocco Ultra Alpaca, colour “Lobster Mix”, 6.5 skeins. (This is much less than the 9 skeins the pattern calls for in the size I made. All evidence on Ravelry points to extremely generous yarn estimates for this pattern). I bought this yarn on sale at WEBS in the spring, and still have 3 skeins left. I’m sure I”ll think of something for the rest of it. It’s an extremely heathery brown, with shades of purple and red all mixed in, I’m pretty pleased with it considering I hardly ever wear brown.
Needles: 4.0mm for ribbing and 4.5mm for the rest.

Mods: The only changes I made were to add a couple of stitches on either side of the back to give it just an idge more ease on my shoulders – I have a fairly slim waist but slightly wider shoulders than most standard sizing accounts for given the size of the rest of me, so that’s a pretty common modification for me. I also opted for i-cord ties on both the inside and the outside front edges, instead of the button on the outside which the pattern instructs. I did this to allow more flexible ease to let me tighten or loosen the fit at the bust according to preference.

All in all, I call this pattern a win. I completed it in just over a month and probably could have had it done quicker if I’d worked on it more dedicatedly in the beginning. The cables are surprisingly intuitive on the front and once you’re finished those, the only other cabling is a small amount on the sleeves. I really like the double seed stitch texture at the top of the bodice.

I have, naturally, already cast on for another sweater. We’ll see if it comes with me this weekend to keep me company in airports.

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If I don’t get back to the blog before the weekend – have a good one, whether you’ll be fondling yarn at sheep & wool festivals or no! Catch you on the other side.

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Filed under cables, finished object: sweater, rhinebeck, sweaters

Shiver me timbers

(The internets tell me today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. Yarr, mateys).

I’ve been having one of those weeks where I want to knit everything. Like, everything. Only willpower is standing between me and casting on for three more sweaters, two shawls, and four pairs of socks right this very minute. It’s that sort of must-knit-must-knit sensation where I’ve even been looking at knitting books before bedtime, or in the morning, as if just by reading the knitting patterns they will somehow magically start to knit themselves.

Part of this comes from the stash reckoning I did last Sunday, post-Knitter’s-Fair-purchasing, wherein I recognized just how many sweaters I could knit with the yarn I currently own (I did not count the actual number, I thought it was best not to reveal such things in polite company, even if said company is the yarn itself), and how many pairs of socks I could make…and then I felt a little bit dizzy and had to restrain myself from falling on the yarn with patterns and needles and starting everything right away.

This is also partly due to the sudden realization that my trip to Rhinebeck is only a month away, which gives me only a month to finish my ‘Rhinebeck sweater’. Risa is making good speed on a beautiful ‘Town and Country’ from A Fine Fleece, causing me to go back and re-read my copy and start thinking things like “sure I could start a Fylingdales cardigan, I could have that done AND do my Rhinebeck sweater in a month…” And then there are the seven skeins of beautiful red wool I got last year from Wild Apple Farms, which is the only yarn I haven’t knitted up from last year’s purchases, and which I was convinced I would have knitted up into a new Twist by now. (“Maybe I could have that done too…and the Fylingdales…and…um…”)

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But my first commitment, it must be said, remains with the Cabled Swing Cardi. The pattern is by Norah Gaughan from The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, and is one of the ones I coveted as soon as I got my copy of the book. I’m working on it in the suggested yarn, Berrocco Ultra Alpaca, purchased on sale from the WEBS spring sale back in April. The colour is Lobster Mix, and while it turned out to be a more chocolatey-brown colour than the deep purple I thought it was going to be, it’s still absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to finish. So far, I’ve done only the right front piece (above), although this also happens to be the piece which requires the most thinking, so that’s got to be worth something, right? I’m still enjoying the yarn, and the pattern isn’t causing me any problems, it’s just gotten sidelined by other things and it’s time to give it some good solid quality time.

So I’d like to at least have this done by Rhinebeck, and preferably not have to walk around with just one front piece pinned to my t-shirt…Though Elspeth has sagely pointed out that this would still, at the very least, make me recognizable. In an ideal world, all Rhinebeck-goers set knitting goals, complete them before the festival, AND arrive at the festival to find perfect weather appropriate for the wearing of the knitted items. Is it wrong to hope for all three? I think I can do it. I just have to actually, um…knit it. Yes.

Happy Friday!

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Filed under cables, knitting tourism, rhinebeck, stash, sweaters