Thursday, August 31, 2006

Der Magic loop ist ausgezeitnicht!

I'm still running on fumes from my visit to Minneapolis and all my stellar acquisitions. Yarnzilla was still the primo stop, and Yarnzilla owner Linda made an interesting observation that got me thinking. She commented that "knitters should always try to learn new techniques to keep things new and interesting". In the spirit of her comment I got the Fiber Trends Magic Loop Booklet and decided to try this much vaunted technique. Having recently experienced several pesky breakages and unfortunate warping incidents with my wooden dpns, I figured I was ready for a change. You know I love those addi turbos and get a frisson every time I have an excuse to buy a new set. The directions were indeed very straightforward and in no time at all I was Magic Looping it to beat the band. I'll see how complicated the whole heel gusset scenario is and probably judge the Magic loop based on that, because I finally have that treachurous series of steps totally down on dpns and can turn any heel in my sleep, people. So this had better rock me, Amadeus, or it'll be Auf Wiedersehen to you, Magic Loop.
I'm using that Austermann Step mit Aloe Vera und Jojoba öl, and let me just say that I just love it when knitting allows me to break out my high school German! I'm glad to be learning a new technique and gratified that it's easier that I had imagined it to be. I am also curious: are there any techniques that you have been itching to try?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Twin Cities yarn blow-out: Uff-da!

If you've been to Minneapolis, you no doubt recognize the SpoonBridge and Cherry sculpture in the Minneapolis Sculpure Garden at the Walker Art Center pictured above. The garden is but one of the many spaces that make the Twin Cities such a miraculously pleasant place to live. This is the type of realization you have when you grow up and move away and live in a place that doesn't value art or green spaces, has no Vietnamese restaurants or co-ops and gives economic incentives to places like Wal-mart to thrive. In short, I love coming home and treasure everything about these two great cities, especially the fabu yarn opportunities!

My first stop was an evening visit to the Yarnery in Saint Paul. Let me just say that it was such a pleasure to do some yarn browsing at night, an activity that only metro areas seem to provide. As it turns out, one of my mom's good friends works there, although she wasn't there as she was busy judging at the State Fair, which anyone who knows anything about Minnesota knows that sacred space that that event occupies in the psyche of all Minnesotans. The Yarnery is a kick-ass yarn store, the staff is super friendly and they have one of the biggest selections of knitting books around. Major koigu scorage was had and I really enjoyed myself there, chitchatting with the Minnesota-nice employee who is as obsessed with Project Runway as I am. All in all, a great shop with very friendly customer service.
Next I hit Depth of Field , near the University and Needlework Unlimited, in South Minneapolis. Depth of Field occupies such a lovely space and has a beautiful storefront. They also have a fun sale loft that has many deep discounts and a great view of the store. I have a sentimental attachment to that place as when I was a student I alsways dreamed of being one of those smart, cool people who could knit and afford to shop there. So now that I basically am that person, I feel actualized and it feels like a mini-wish came true (except the smart, cool part, ha, ha!). Needlework Unlimited is such a massively gigantic store that basically has everything you ever wanted. Almost as if Ebay were a brick and mortar store and everything was immediately available. Because it's such a big place, the employees are always busy and you sort of feel like you're intruding by asking for help. One of these semi-surly employees is a mega Kaffe Fassett wanna-be, if you've been there you know who I'm talking about, he wears the needlepoint vests to prove it...anyway. N.U.'s selection is way above and beyond anyone else's, but the customer service leaves a little to be desired. Please don't hate on me for my observations, people!!

My favorite stop by far was Yarnzilla. The owner Linda has got to be the most freaking hilarious LYS owner I have ever met! She is super-helpful, witty and funny. She told my daughter that she might look like 'big bird' if she wore a ponco in a certain color, and another poncho made her look like 'she had a pneumonia thing going on'. So, so funny and helpful, she makes you feel instantly loved and like one of the gang. She has a huge internet business and offers huge discounts, so please check her out. Mad props to Linda and Yarnzilla!!
Hey, coming home is great, but now it's time to return to PA. and face the music. Summer is over and I will no longer have all day every day to devote to thinking about yarn. But that's ok, gotta earn some bank for my next yarn blow out!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Koigu, or yarn porn

There are many categories of yarn in a sock knitter’s stash. Some are tried and true work horses that you are forever turning to out of habit. They are dependable, trustworthy, a known quantity. For me, Opal and Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Multi fit this bill. I know exactly what I’m going to get when I cast on one of these two yarns, and I am never disappointed. I have many, many skeins on hand at a time and have no qualms about giving a skein or two away, either. Then there are those skeins that have yet to capture your imagination, and you can’t really say why. They are just there, in your stash. Taking up space. Waiting to be knitted. For me these would be your Meilenweits, your Regias and your Plymouth Sockottas. I’m sure they are phenomenal and produce a perfectly acceptable sock. I just haven’t bothered to actually give them the time of day, although I have many, many skeins in my stash. Another distinct category is that of the exotic specialty sock yarn. Maybe it’s a yarn that your LYS doesn’t carry and that you have to travel a distance to obtain. Perhaps it’s somewhat unusual and so you use it sparingly. For me Mountain Colors Bearfoot and Claudia’s Hand Painted are in this category. They are a little bit foreign and thus have an air of mystery about them.But they are still a known quantity.

And then there’s Koigu.

For so long this yarn has been something akin to the Holy Grail. None of my LYSs carry it. Until recently I never seemed to be in the right place at the right time to get it. All that has now changed. Now I have it and I cannot live without it.(See above picture for most recent addition to my stash). I even keep it in its own little special VIP section of my stash, cordoned off from the more pedestrian skeins. It’s become a fetish object. Sometimes I just want to pet it. I was afraid to knit it for fear of damaging its most perfect form. But now I have almost completed a sock (pictured above) in it and it’s just as I feared: it's absolutely divine and thus controlling my mind. It’s all I think about and I can’t stop. Help. me. please.
But, why? What's all the fuss about? Please, someone explain to me, what is it about it that makes it so darn appealing? Is it the colorways? The way it’s wound? The scarcity? The hype? Help me to name it and understand its power, then maybe I can break free…

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Stitch n Pitch : Pirates beat St Louis 7-0!

Today was the much anticipated Stitch N Pitch in Picksburgh (translation for non-locals: Pittsburgh), PA. I brought kiddie winkie #2 and her sweetheart of a pal while the Darling Resident Marxist Curdmudgeon took #1 canoeing with a friend, and it's a good thing, because the sheer amount of Dippin' Dots consumed by the junior set would have made his hair stand on end!
Before the game we had a look at the exhibit table and saw our LYS owner as well as others who were involved in putting this very fun afternoon together. There were examples of knitting and needlepoint as well as a free bag o' swag for the Stitch N Pitch Stitchers.

During the game we met new knitters as well as saw some familiar faces. I made scant progress on the Green Gable, but as it was such a gorgeous day, I quickly became preoccupied with mandatory baseball game activities such as drinking beer, eating peanuts, staring at other fans (are tube tops suddenly appropriate again?) and yelling things like "throw the bum out!" (kidding). Our group was acknowledged at the seventh inning stretch and thankfully I was NOT on the jumbotron, as I am jumbo enough without the magnification that modern technology can provide. But our LYS owner was, and we were proud of her...All in all we had a great time, baseball and knitting go together very well indeed. The Stitch N Pitch schedule is only half way completed, and for those of you lucky enough to live in a city where your team will be sponsoring it, I recommend it highly.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

So that's why you have an uncontrollable desire to buy yarn...

That Darling Resident Marxist Curmudgeon--when he's not busting my chops about turning up the burner too high when I make the Kiddie-Winkies their lunchtime Spaghettios or hovering outside the bathroom door in order to monitor the amount of water I'm using when I take a shower, he's making me laugh hysterically with his Dr. Freud routine. Why, just take the above-pictured half-torn ball band that he found stuffed underneath a cushion on the sofa. Examine it closely, notice its, umm, rather unusual shape? Does it suggest anything that Freudian types like my husband might find a tad telling when it comes to a gal like me who is ruled by her compulsions? He now claims that he finally understands why I'm so deeply compelled to buy yarn. Love that guy, seriously.
Tomorrow we're off to the Stitch 'N Pitch in Pittsburgh, it should be loads o' laughs. Anything with an 'n in the title that promises free knitting swag has my attention, can't wait!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Faith: Restored!

After last's week post of pessimism and negativity, the wheel of fortune has taken an upswing and I am back on a knitting high. Just after swearing off big projects to my LYS owner, my faith has been restored by a little pattern known to many as the Green Gable. Why am I so inspired by the Green Gable? There are many things to love about it, mainly the fact that it is worked in the round from the top down, hence no evil seaming scenario. It has an interesting, easy lace pattern that is done at the beginning, thereby keeping it interesting. When you're done with the lace pattern, it's just smooth sailing on the good ship stockinette and you can try it on as you go. Loving it! There's also a helpful KAL where everyone is nice and non-judgemental. It's so fun to do a pattern and have a way to avail yourself of others' expertise. I'm doing the Green Gable in Valley Yarn's Longmeadow, a perfect dk weight yarn that has the consumer friendly nice price of 3 and some odd change. Even cheaper if you buy enough to get the Webs discount...