Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Para Mi?

First of all, a great big "muchas gracias" to my Secret Pal, who sent me a beautiful "yarn bouquet." As if the outside weren't pretty enough:
Take a look at the inside:
The yarn is handpainted Zen Gardens sock yarn, with lovely shades of pink and green, and the needles are bamboo double points. Isn't the presentation just too cute??

Last night, I went to a great talk at the National Geographic on Andean weaving. I was kinda tired yesterday and was thinking of skipping it, but I am so glad I went. The lecture featured the work of Nilda CallaƱaupa, founder of the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cuzco, whose members make stuff like this:

Apologies for the picture quality (or lack thereof). I only had my camera phone with me and the lighting was a bit dim plus I'm a crappy photographer to begin with. The top pic shows mantas, scarves and runners. The bottom shows bags and cute little chullo (earflap hat) keychains.

Everything is handmade from handspun yarn, handdyed with natural dyes. Phew! That's a lot of work! Let's see Nilda demonstrating spinning:
Here, she's plying two thin singles with a bottom whorl drop spindle. The spindle's in motion so it's even harder to make out (it's the light brown blur about a foot below her right hand). On her left arm she has loops of spun singles held double and ready to ply.

Though the talk was mostly about weaving, spinning and dyeing, there was a bit about knitting too. Apparently, both men and women knit, usually to make chullos. I would guess that weaving is used for the flat stuff and knitting for the round stuff. I found this knit bag at the sale table and just had to get it.
The bag itself is knit, though the strap is woven. Here's a close up of the colorwork.
The design is mostly bird motifs and a geometric patterns. So cool! And it's just the right size to hold a sock project too :)

Speaking of which, I did some monkey knitting during the weaving lecture. Current Sock Status Photo:
About halfway down the leg of sock #2. Hopefully, I'll have a finished pair soon.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rhinebeck and Other Good Things

Back from another whirlwind weekend, again to New York-sey to see Jersey Family and also to go to Rhinebeck. This was my car knitting:A Monkey made from Socks that Rock Lightweight in "Kryptonite" and some brown Opal 6-ply for the heel and toe. This project is a relief if many ways. First, this yarn has been through a few failed sock attempts before. Plus, I was a little jaded from the gauge disaster from my last monkey attempt. To keep the sock gremlins away, I used a pattern that 1) I knew looked good with handpaints and 2) was easy enough for me to memorize. As for the gauge issue, I started the cuff and first two repeats at a looser gauge (for me with this yarn, that's a 2mm needle - yup, I knit that loosely), then changed to smaller needles (1.5mm) to do the rest of the piece.

Of course my first visit to NY Sheep and Wool was an occasion to buy yarn and fiber, but this was definitely my pot 'o gold:
These handcards are used but in good shape, and just $30. Now if I could only get the hang of using them...

I've been spindling a bit too. This is from some purple roving I got at Stitches East.
I think it's Corriedale but I lost the receipt and the bag's unlabeled. It's not that easy to spin. It seems to want a lot of twist to stay together. I guess it's a shorter staple length, or maybe this spindle's too heavy. Anyhoo, at least the color's pretty :)

I'll leave you with a shot of Jersey Baby in action:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Round and Round

Finally, we have some proper fall weather. I really hate summer and always welcome the first nippy days of fall, so that 90 degree day we had last week just about did me in. Now all those cozy handknits aren't quite so incongruous with the the temperature.

In anticipation of fall, I've been knitting hats and scarves. Have you noticed earflap hats are back (if they ever actually left?)
This is a modified Valentine Hat from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, modified for pony beads instead of stranded color work. Here's some beading detail:
I made up the X-heart-X pattern while I was watching "The Stand" on Sci-Fi a few weeks ago. I was in the mood for an '80s flashback, so it was a good night all in all - yes, such is the sad state of my life. I think the show could have been better, considering it had lots of acting talent. Seriously, it would be great to use in a game of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."

I started a new monkey sock:
Pretty isn't it? The yarn is superwash merino/nylon from thankewe. Squishy pretty yarn aside though, let me tell you this is one naughty sock. It doesn't fit. I swatched, got gauge and started knitting, but it's too small! I guess I really shouldn't blame the sock. It was more of a case of the lying gauge swatch meets knitterly self-delusion. I was in total denial and knit on for 6 repeats anyway. Once I hit the heel, though, I had to face the music. Time to frog :(

Friday, October 05, 2007

New York-sey Part 2

Where was I? Right, apples. On Sunday, we went apple picking. For Jersey Baby, it was more like "apple retrieving"
I don't know what's more stylin', the hat or the Spin Out button.

On the way to the farm, we saw signs for an alpaca farm open house. After filling up on apples and apple cider doughnuts, we stopped by. It turned out it was National Alpaca Farm Day. Talk about good timing! There was fiber:
I bought some alpaca/silk roving. There were also cute animals to meet:
Not to mention one super-talented fiber artist:
This is Terry. He knit this in a day. Still with me? No, he doesn't have extra arms, but he does have a knitting machine. And a loom. And a wheel. And a sewing machine. And my personal favorite:
A sock machine. He can make a knee-high sock in an hour! So cool! I so want one, but I think the only one I could afford would be a sketchy-looking eBay one.

Sock Update

The Stitches West socklets are done at last and will be making their way to my aunt in Chicago:

In other sock news, I was one of the winners of Wendy's Summer of Socks contest, and as such am now the proud owner of this lovely skein from the Knittery in Australia:
This yummy yarn also came with one of her sock patterns. I have yet to complete a toe-up sock, so this could be the yarn and pattern to break my toe-up curse!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New York-sey Part 1

We went to visit Jersey Family over the weekend. Did you know you could rent a Prius? Behold the overly informative display:So you can have up-to-the-second updates on whether you're using battery or gas, 'cuz who wouldn't want to know every single second? There's also a display that gives you a bar graph of gas mileage, which usually hovered around 49 mpg over the course of the trip. Plus it's surprisingly roomy on the inside and very cute on the outside. (BTW, this is exactly the kind of car review you should expect from someone who doesn't drive).

When not mesmerized by the gas-battery update screen, I sewed this up:
It's the Lion Brand Tied Hoodie, sans tassel, for Jersey Baby. I first started this in early summer, quickly finishing all the pieces save for one sleeve. Then Chinese class happened and the whole thing got shoved to the bottom of the to-do list. It's a good thing I made the 24 mo. size, because he just about fits into it right now. See?
Sorry it's hard to get him to sit still.

I went to the Spin Out in Central Park on Saturday. There were spinners galore:While we sat and spun, we got a visit from a wee little turtle:
Isn't he too cute?

Since it's Socktoberfest, I'll try to include a sock in every post this month.
This is the mate to the Stitches West sock that I'm finally getting around to. This shows the inside of the heel flap with the center stitch running down it. I'm about half way down the foot now, so hopefully there'll be a finished sock pic for the next post.

Coming up in New York-sey Part 2: apples, alpacas and automation