Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Project for 2013

The last project I hope to complete this year, is a little snowflake garland for my Christmas tree that I wanted to make for years, and finally began a few weeks ago - not that I have had many hours to pick up a crochet hook.  I will finish the garland before the ball drops in Time Square. I was hoping to make another, to grace my wall unit, too.  That won't be in 2013.  Whether it will be the first project I work on in 2014 or go on hold until Thanksgiving or later remains to be seen.  Right now, I'm inclined to make the second garland right away, and be finished with them -- but that doesn't mean I'll feel that way at the dawn of the new year, tomorrow.

The pattern I'm using is from Red Heart, the Crochet Snowflake Garland.

It's a simple 3 round pattern and is JAYGO (join as you go), which I favor.  My garland has 25 snowflakes.  I wrapped it around my small Christmas tree and think a few more flakes (4 or 5) will probably do it.  After dinner, and before the ball drops and we pop the top on some de-alcoholized Asti, I should be able to complete that. 

Happy 2014, everyone!!

Spatterdash Wristwarmers

Sometimes, you can be too smart for your own good.  I have a penchant for making 2 socks at the same time, as well as sleeves.  Just in case I deviate from the pattern/design and fall short on note-taking, 2-at-a-time is my solution for averting an inconsistent outcome.   It's a bit fiddly but when you're done, you're done.

The Spatterdash Wristwarmers by Dagmar Mora were in Knitty issue 37 (Deep fall 2011.) Although they weren't in my Ravelry queue, I thought about them every time I cast on fingerless mitts or even  thought about casting on fingerless mitts. I have a friend whose birthday is on Christmas day, and I try to give her 2 gifts - one for her birthday and one for Christmas - and more often than not, they are knitted gifts.  

I had made her the Easy Drop Stitch Scarf that I blogged about here,

and wanted to make her something that complimented it, but didn't necessarily repeat the drop stitch pattern.  Waves or undulations were what I wanted to imitate or suggest.  

Then I remembered the Spatterdash Wristwarmers.  They would be perfect in the right yarn.  I am still dedicated to de-stashing, and was so happy to discover Wisom Yarn Marathon Sock  San Diego, in the colorway 254 (Taste),which coordinated well with the Easy Drop Stitch Scarf's color changes.

After carefully swatching and attaining gauge, I cast on both mitts on a Knitters' Pride Karbonz 2mm size 0 circular needle (but I was knitting straight for this pattern.) I was going to modify the pattern to knit it circularly, but Christmas was approaching and I didnt' want to break my head pondering the changes and I didn't want to knit more swatches - so, I plowed ahead.  

When the pattern required a modification for the left or right mitt, I just mirror-image knit whichever mitt was the second (depending upon whether it was right or wrong side row.) In addition to knitting the pattern, if there was one, backwards, it also included, reversing the slant of any increases/decreases.

When the time came to slip the main part of the mitt stitches to waste yarn, I left them on the circular needle they were knit upon. That may not have been the best idea. (Too smart for my own good) Then. I used another circular needle to pick up stitches - a separate needle for each mitt.  At that point I was working with  3 circs and had 6 needle tips to deal with.  My very own hydra, not that I wanted one. 

I kept telling myself, each time I wanted to put it in a drawer, never to see the light of day (or Ott Light) again, that I would only have to do this once and at least when I was going to finish, I'd be finished and wouldn't have to make another.  

I got through that morass - barely.  I liked the scallops.  If/when I make another pair of these, (for myself) I will highly modify the pattern and construction. (I won't bore you with my thoughts on that topic until the project is at hand.)

Then, the killer of killers: the buttons.  Choosing them was not fun. I was hoping for something a little more interesting than those I ultimately purchased, but the required size did not offer me much selection locally.  I didn't begin this project  far ahead enough to order buttons online, or to shop hop around the NY metro area for better ones.  

The truth is, the yarn had a lot to say, and it's probably best that the buttons are demure.

Spatterdash, blocked, pleased me. 

I could really appreciate how the print yarn was so right for both the stockinette, main part of the mitts as well as how it emphasized the scalloped flap.  That flap is not just decorative, but there are small eyelets in the last row of scallops, that make up the button holes.

The buttons and button holes are functional, but constructed the way these were, they were impractical, because there was so much overlap of the flap over the stockinette part of the mitt, the flap had to be sewn down.  So, what's the point of functioning buttons?  Why not just stitch them on?  Oh well, as I wrote earlier, I will definitely make some changes for my next pair.   A few sections of these writstwarmers were tedious, but none so much as dealing with button placement and sewing.

There is no question about it.  The buttons bring these mitts to life.  They're kind of artsy, kind of edgy, kind of steampunk and kind of bohemian.  I am a bit OCD about having my print yarn match when I make socks or mitts. I painstakingly began every section in exactly the same place in the "print" or color, but because I was making them 2 at a time, if you look closely, you will see that the top and bottom garter stitch edge colors are reversed: the top brownish on the left mitt is the color that is on the bottom of the right mitt, and vice versa.  I was not so disturbed that I wanted to rip one out and re-knit from a different part of the ball, but it is the first place my eyes go.  

Paired with the Easy Drop Stitch Scarf,  I think  the balance between coordination but not matchy-matchy, was attained.  (sorry for the shadows).

Overall, I loved the project.  They will definitely be constructed differently next time.  Additionally, I will  not be such a smarty next time, and I will avoid the invasion of the 6 pointed hydra, at all cost.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

LYS Discounts

I'm not looking forward to my favorite of the LYSs in my area closing.  It's sad on a personal level as well as a social and commercial one.  A few weeks ago, I went there to pick up a couple of 2mm circular needles.  I had one that broke and I was in the midst of a project that HAD TO be finished ASAP. I purchased 2 different brands that I had not used but had heard and read several good reviews. One was the iconic Addi Turbos (lace, in this case) and the other was ChiaoGoo (Knit Red).

While I was browsing what circular needles were still available, I noticed some Knit Picks Caspian cables. I have several different sets Knitters Pride interchangeable knitting needles.  For me, they are practical, well priced, and overall, they are durable.  I knit many projects like socks, sleeves, mitts etc. on 2 circs, rather than a short one or 4 or 5 dpns.  I have both purple and black cables. (Purple from the Knitters Pride Knit Picks Options and black from  regular Knitters Pride general line.)  I picked up a few green Knitters Pride Knit Picks Caspian cables in lengths I use often.  I went back the following week to get a few more but they were sold out.  Bummer.

I finished my project using both the ChiaoGoo and the Addi needles.  I loved the Addis.  The jury is still out on the ChiaoGoos.  I will use them again.  The bend in the needle feels foreign, but not necessarily bad.  I like the cables on both needles.

When I returned to the store, only to find no Caspian cables left, I did find something else. Because the LYS is closing, everything is discounted by  20%.  There were 2 sets of Knitters Pride Nova Cubics interchangeable needles in a display case with a few other needle sets.  I like the Knitters Pride Symfonie Cubics interchangeables, and use them often. These sets are similarly priced, from wherever they are purchased.  I didn't go to the shop intending to spend more than a few dollars on cables, but the opportunity to add to my Cubics arsenal at a discount, and without any shipping charges caused me to change my original plan.  

They came in a gray fabric and clear vinyl case, along with a selection of  4 cables (one 24", two 32", and one 40"), 8 end caps, 4 cable keys and a set of cord connectors.  I'm looking forward to using them in the next project I cast on, of appropriate gauge.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

No Full Moon Necessary

My last Christmas gift was mailed on December 16.  That was temporary - the last gift part.  Then, as usually happens, being stressless causes temporary insanity.  As I wrapped presents, I looked at the boxes of goodies for the women who work in our apartment building.  I remembered that last year, I attached crocheted snowflakes to their packages and thought, "How can I not attach a snowflake to each this year?" (And no, in that mental state of instability I neglected to take photos of them last year, and did the same last week.)  So, I scrolled through several crocheted snowflake patterns, found one and made 3.  I added hooks and tied them onto the already wrapped gifts.  I was finally done.

Then, I drifted further into a state of non compos mentis. I thought about the next door neighbor's cat.  Really! It was sheer madness.   I have never given Samie Cat a gift. I'm not even really a cat person!  I remembered that I'd seen some curly cat toy to crochet.

 It's meant to hang on the door knob so the feline recipient can swat it around.  I looked through my stash and my husband snapped me out of my trans by telling me he wanted me to order a particular thing for Christmas for myself. He wanted it to be a surprise, but didn't want to get the wrong thing.  I had to spend some time online.  Then, the package was going to arrive the next day at no additional charge, and when it did, I needed to (and wanted to) spend some time with it. In retrospect, I'm thankful for the intervention.  I don't know what I'm going to do next year.  I have to overcome this urge to burden myself needlessly.

As far as a door knob hanging swat toy goes, what  Samie Cat doesn't know, won't hurt him.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

No Lack of Communication

I have tried to stay current with everything related to the coming barrage of holidays.  There isn't anything I can do about interpersonal drama, but I can try to keep from falling behind.  The last 2 years held a major family health problems, so I was overwhelmed and didn't enjoy this fabulous year-end time as I usually had.  I don't want that to happen this year.  

In addition to sending birthday cards out to all my music students and their family members every month, I send them and a small list of friends and family Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas cards at this time of year. 

November birthday cards - Done!

Chanukah cards - Done!

Thanksgiving Cards - Done!

I hope to get the Christmas cards done over Thanksgiving weekend. Then, I can relax and enjoy this most celebratory time of the year.


Smooshy is a word that sounds like what it means - as it relates to yarn and the fabric said yarn produces.  

A friend of mine will be receiving a very simple,  Smooshy to the max, garter stitch scarf made from the few scrap balls of Patons North America Carmen, a long discontinued yarn.  

The colorways of the Carmen I had left in my stash are Steel and Ebony.  The friend for whom this little scarf is, dresses very conservatively.

I randomly striped the scarf, trying to somewhat  equalize the ends, which may show at the same time, depending upon how she wears it. The yarn is so smooshy and fuzzy that whatever stitch is used, it just dissolves into the smoosh, so I just knit every row.  Easy peasy.  All that's left to do is sew on a label and it's ready to wrap.  I also have to sew a label onto the Easy Drop Stitch Scarf I completed a month or 2 ago.  

After my last project for the holidays is done (a pair of Spatterwash Wristwarmers by Damar Mora), I will sew all the labels in at the same time.  (I think I'm going to have to make myself some, too.  I like them!!)

Lavender Topaz Socks

Although I have at least 1, but perhaps more Chanukah/Christmas gifts to make, which I will cast on tonight after blogging, I spent a little time this week to finish the pair of socks I was knitting on and off since July.  When I'm not distracted by a bracelet obsession and holiday crafting, pairs of socks usually work up more quickly than this pair.  

Yes, I always swatch, even if I have used the yarn before. If I'm relaxed or if I'm tense, my gauge varies.  If I spend time, I want my socks to fit.

I label and save my swatch with yarn name, gauge, WPI and any other pertinent info. After a while, the swatch collection is a great reference.  

The finished socks.

I like Cat Bordhi's Sidestream and Riverbed toe up constructions. This one is a modified Sidestream.  The names of the two constructions allude to where the arch expansion is placed.  On the Sidestream, while you knit, you only increase on one side. Before it's blocked, the sock looks funny, but the stitches distribute perfectly well.  I usually do a reinforced heel with a traditional gusset. The last pair of sock I made had an afterthought heel.  I was neutral, leaning toward not liking it much.  I thought I'd give it another go this time.  I know there are a lot of benefits to the afterthought heel, especially if you're a social sock knitter.  It's much less complicated and it fits quite well. I just don't like doing it. I think I'll forgo any more afterthoughts for a while.  In my next few pair I will try Cat's Sweet Tomato heel and I will try Crystal heels from the Crystal Socklets in Knitty Spring Summer 2012.  I don't mind making gusseted heels. In fact, because I have such a long relationship with them, I rather like them.  I do think I need to explore my options - and maybe even give afterthought heels another whirl.  Sometimes, 3's a charm.

I made these socks out of unremarkable stash Premier Debra Norville Serenity Sock. I got the yarn on sale and it was extremely inexpensive for a cozy pair of socks. They were made 2 at a time on 2 circs from the toe up.  I prefer toe up construction because you can try the sock on as you knit, in case you need to make adjustments.

Glad these are done.  I hope I will have my last gift done by the end of the month.  Then, I'll cast on another pair.

Obsession Confession

Last weekend I cheated.  No, not on my DH, E-Rex!  On my yarn!!!!  Or, at least I felt like I was cheating on my yarn.   I was bitten by the bracelet bug.  I had come across some of the "inspired by Chen Luu" bracelets, which then made me want to make some bead bracelets.  I didn't get too much knitting done, but I did make 3 bracelets with supplies I had in my craft stash.

I don't want to become any more obsessed than I am with this fun craft, because I know myself. It will burn and then sizzle out.  So, in the spirit of creativity but not bankruptcy, I picked up a few stringing supplies and only a few strings/vials of beads.  Most of the beads I have in my stash have smaller holes than what is optimum for my purposes.  I exercised great restraint. 

I will be making a few more. They are fairly fast after you've gotten the hang of knotting.  I like the textures and colors of the finished bracelets as well as the rhythm of making them.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Weaving In Ends

I don't know anyone who likes weaving in ends, whether it's on a piece that has been knitted, crocheted, hand stitched, hand sewn, or for that matter, in their lives. I have come to think that weaving in ends and our general displeasure with it, is a metaphor for something bigger.  Sometimes, getting to the end of something is great, like when you finish your last final exam, or take the last pill of a prescription because you have recovered,  but often, ends, are unpleasant.

This all comes to mind because of something rather frivolous.  The YarnCraft podcast ended.  I know, it's just a podcast.  I listened to that podcast from its first episode.  I didn't love them all, but I always listened.  Liz and Zontee were the initial hosts and when Liz left to have Teddy, her adorable baby boy, Michelle, took her place.  Even that, was a bit jarring because Liz and Michelle's styles were different. Be that as it may, the podcast carried on, generally, the same.  Although a podcast is a one-way medium, in the case of YarnCraft, there were plenty of opportunities to cyber interact. Something I posted to the blog was once mentioned on the show, which was cool.  When I heard the heads up that the podcast was going to end, and then listened to the last show, I  was deflated.  It felt like a lost friendship. 

I can well understand the reasons for the termination. I did over 100 episodes of my weekly and then twice-weekly Guitar Technique Tutor podcast.  It was a lot of work to organize the information, record, edit, syndicate, produce show notes, get them  up on the web site (which now reside on the Guitar Technique Tutor blog) and then, do it all again the next week (or every other week.)  I simply burned out.  I loved it. I made a lot of contacts, local and international. But when my life became more complicated, the burden was just too much to face, and I had to re-order my priorities.  I now blog the guitar end of my life, rather than podcasting.  I recall being touched by so many people emailing to say they were going to miss it.  But it was something I had to do. 

I'm going to miss YarnCraft's podcast.  

As I have been mulling all this over, I realize ends aren't something I like.  I don't like when favorite TV shows end their seasons and I really don't like when a great show ends. Most recently, I think of The Closer's unwelcome end after its fabulous 7th season. Sometimes, I wish a book that I'm enjoying would never end.  I don't like closing chapters of life. Putting away childish things and becoming an adult was an adventure, but surely there was a kind of loss.  The ends of friendships, and relationships, even if I have initiated them, have always been painful with accompanying frustration and misplaced feelings of guilt.  Then, the heavies are the ends, and here I mean the deaths, of  loved ones or  pets that have become members of the family. 

All these ends are there, and in our lives (or at least mine) and we need to deal with them.  We can thoughtfully weave them in neatly, we can just tie a knot and move on, or we can, ill-advisedly, make a mess of something that should conclude an era, event or activity with some semblance of grace. 

For me, the hardest part is weaving in ends.

Tea Time Score

Last week, I finally visited ScranBerry Coop, a market of sorts, that I have heard about for years and years.  It's in Andover, NJ and is somewhere bargain hunters, flea market fans, collectors, retro aficionados and  antique lovers need to visit, at least once. 

I'm a sealing wax user and collector of seals, hence my blog name (Sealed 4 Ever), so I hoped that I might find a seal I didn't have.  I didn't find a single one, but  that doesn't necessarily mean there weren't any at ScranBerry Coop. I might have not seen it.  There is so much, you can hardly take it in!

I did find a lovely luncheon set. Between us, I have rarely met a tea pot I didn't like.  I don't "collect" them, but rather, I use them.  I drink coffee out of a mug, but I like my tea out of a delicate, translucent cup that rests on a saucer.   One of the results of moving to a teeny apartment 5 years ago was that I had to part with several.  I kept my grandmother's shower gift Japanese set with tea pot, sugar, creamer, cups and saucers, 2 large Pristine (brand) English tea pots, a couple "tea for one" sets, my mother's tea cups, saucers,  sugar and creamer whose pot has been long gone, a couple of single tea cups and a Mikasa set of 2 tea cups and saucers and their matching sugar and creamer that I got in  the  '90's.   Yes, that's what I kept after disposing of more. 

Did I need the luncheon set?  Of course not.  But the value was there.  Here are the photos.  Granted, one of the  tea cups is missing, but still, this is a sweet set. (I have already used it.) Take a look:

The complete set

Luncheon Plate

Tea Cup

Creamer, that stacks on top of the Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl

Tea Pot (about a 4 cupper)

Mark: Phoenix China, Czechoslovakia

Pretty, right?  I'm not a big fan of yellow, but the color glaze is not solid yellow and the iridescence top glaze further dithers the yellow.   So the big question is, how much did it cost?  Surely, less than you're thinking.  How does $8.00 sound?  No, I didn't misplace the decimal.  $8.00.  And, I received a discount for paying in cash.   I have made a few good buy this year, but this was the bargain of  2013 for me.

The kettle is whistling.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2013 Charity Yarn Crafting

I'm in the throes of holiday gift making.  Last year I pared it way down, and I will stick to the same plan this year - but pared way back still leaves me with a few gifts to make.  One thing I didn't pare back last year and didn't want to neglect this year was making hat and scarf sets for the residents at a shelter with which our church works closely, called Jericho Road.  Last year I made 2 sets and I did the same this year.  I just made a half double crochet set and a ribbed knit set. I eyeballed them. One set is a little larger (the knit set) and the other is  smaller, because not .  

I'm glad this aspect of my gift knitting and crochet is finished. Now that the clock has turned back, it's getting dark earlier and there are only a few weeks until Christmas, finishing has turned from a prime focus, to urgent.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bogged and Frogged

I'm ambivalent about unravelling a project, though, of late, I'm loosening up about it. 

A few weeks ago I began a STS (Simple Tunisian Stitch) scarf for a friend. I liked it because I used a solid and a multicolor yarn - sock weight - and the created fabric looked loom-woven and a little bohemian.  In fact, I liked it a lot and thought I'd make one for myself after the madness of holiday crafting subsides.

If you happened to see my comments about the project on Ravelry, you would have read that I'd ripped it out  3 times.  Fast forward a few weeks and that number is shamefully low.  At first, I ripped it out because I didn't like how I tensioned the right side stitches. The left side stitches were fine but the right ones were loose here and there.  Looser than I thought could be blocked out.   To add a little more discontentment, I saw a very obvious split stitch or 2 a few inches below where I was working.  If the piece were all in one yarn, it wouldn't have bothered me, but since the vertical bars and the pulled through chains contrasted, the split vertical bar stitches were little "V's" as opposed to vertical lines.  I always tell fellow yarn crafters that no one will notice the small mistake their eye goes to every time they look at their project. It's true, unless it's at a focal point or it's a big hole.  These 2 split stitches made me crazy!! Of course I ripped back, yet again.  

As I sat on my love seat, surrounded by kinky yarn, I just couldn't bear continuing, so I unraveled the entire thing.  I decided the sock yarn will either become socks or will be some other project. As soon as I made that decision, it was like someone released a tourniquet from around my head.  I'm not often frustrated, but when I am, it's  unbearable.  Too bad about the scarf, but yippee for freedom.

So now, the friend will still receive a scarf.  I did some stash diving. I needed to  touch something really soft.  Silky Malabrigo?  Yes, it's soft but it won't work for this gift. Misty Alpaca, nice and soft but still not right.  This friend needs something silky and soft and smooshy.  I found some old discontinued Patons Carmen. The few gifts I had made from it years ago are still being used and I am always reminded by the recipients, how great the scarves feel.  Done!

Because the Carmen is so foofy and texture rich, I'm just doing a randomly striped short scarf.  I will add a scarf/shawl pin and voila, the gift will be just fine.  Crisis averted and stash decreased.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Minor Celebrity, Right Down Stairs

Every week or so, I get together with a few neighbors, to knit or crochet, and hear the latest news around the building. On a particular afternoon in the summer, there were about 5 or 6 of us at a large round table, crafting.  Another resident, who I just knew as, "Marge, with the Yorkie, Mitzie,"  came by and  took a look at what we were doing. I think, at the time, I was making my Scallop Scarf.  One of the  crafters said, "Marge, why don't you join us?" And then she said to the group, "You should see the beautiful work she does."   Marge graciously declined and said she likes to crochet while watching TV in the evening. 

Then, the person who invited Marge to join us, reminded Marge that I'd never seen her needlework.  Marge said she was going to check on Mitzie and she would bring some baby sets she just finished, so we could see them. She disappeared for a few minutes and returned with 5 or 6 beautiful Christening gowns, bonnets and booties. She's making them for all the young relatives she has, whether they are expecting babies now or not. She wants them to have them, so if they have children after Marge is no longer able to crochet, or after she passes away, they will all have Christening sets.  The work was intricate and beautifully executed.  I asked her, a bit puzzled, why she didn't want to hang out with us, even if she didn't stitch.  She said, "Oh, it was my work for a number of years. I was a designer."  She was a designer?!? I knew she had been a nurse, but a crochet designer? She told us how she worked with a couple publishing companies. Her job was creating a finished model and creating a pattern when given a description of some crochet object for a book or pattern collection.  She's significantly older than I, but I think I have seen  old, out of print books that contain some of her designs. Two of the publishers with whom she worked were House of White Birches and Leisure Arts, in the 80's.   Back in the day, I had some of their books. I donated them and/or sold them when we moved, 5 years ago, because I had to pare way, way, way down. 

Now, she is into miniatures for doll houses. She has an Etsy shop in which she sells her teeny tiny 1 inch scale crocheted pieces. They're made with DMC tatting cotton and a size 14 steel hook. Wow! She has a 5 star rating and all the reviews of her work are positively glowing. I've known Marge for several years and until that afternoon, I had no idea of her long crafting history, nor her amazing craftsmanship.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I've been wanting to attend the NY Sheep & Wool Festival since the first time I heard about it, at least 15 years ago.  I finally went!!

Last Saturday, we drove to Rhinebeck, NY, where the Dutchess County Fairgrounds are.  It was a perfect day, with sun and clouds and breezes with occasional gusts of wind.  The tree colors were just past peak, but beautiful, just the same. From our apartment, including a small detour locally, and the traffic within a  10 - 12 mile radius of the venue reminiscent of Woodstock, it took over 2 hours. It should have taken about one and a half.  We were directed to a particular parking area that was a long walk to the entry gate because the 2 closer lots were full. I believe the festival opened at t 10:00 and we arrived after 12:00.

I don't know what the attendance was on Saturday, but it was a big number.  The crowds made it more interesting and exciting.  Many people sported woven, crocheted or knitted garments and/or accessories.  There were sweaters, shawls, scarves, hats, vests, headbands, bracelets, bags, leg warmers, fingerless gloves, fingerless mitts, wristers, arm warmers, tights, socks, flower brooches and amigarumi pinned to everything you can think of.  I saw loads of Ravelry buttons, too. 

 I wore mine on my Kate's Shawl. 

I had hoped to arrive in time to go to the Ravelry meetup.  I couldn't find it!  I asked several people in what I thought was close proximity to the meetup, but none of them knew what I was talking about.

Of course, I didn't find the fair grounds' info booth until much later in the day.  I also couldn't find a few vendors I met at the Northern NJ Fiber Arts Festival, a few weeks ago.  Part of why I couldn't find them is that I was at the fair with 2 non-fiber artist men. (My husband, "E-Rex" and his good bud, Jerry.) Need I say more? They thought walking through a vendor building meant, literally, walking through it.  Although the festival was huge, at the rate they were walking, not looking at anything other than food at the various food stands, the whole thing could have been, literally, seen in, literally, an hour and a half. Ugh!  So, I couldn't really take my time, schmooze,  touch yarn,  think about what that oh-so-touchable skein could make or make some part of, or do anything else I would have customarily done, were I rolling with some fellow crafters.  Note to self: next year, find some yarnies with whom to go.

There were numerous food vendors, some sellers of soaps, lotions, wood accessories and kitchenware, bags, books and wine, but by far, the very best of the festival was its fibers and yarns.

There was a Peruvian band playing Andean folk music, which did wonders to relieve attendees of thinking about any budget they might have made for themselves. The airy, almost mystical sounds were soothing, affirming and maybe even a little hypnotic.  

Even the guys enjoyed the demonstration by a shepherdess and her sheep dogs herding 3 sheep who tolerated the various dogs' performances. All the dogs looked liked they loved working. None of the sheep were frightened, they just allowed themselves to be herded where ever the shepherdess desired.  It was wonderful to watch.

There were exotic and ordinary breeds of sheep, goats, bunnies,  llama and alpaca to see, pet and at certain times, see shorn.  

It was over too soon and I'm already waiting for next year. It was the best kind of sensory overload.  I will round up some friends who will want to be there at opening, and who will either want to go through together, slowly, or split up and plan to meet at an appointed time for lunch, split up again and meet at an appointed time to leave.  

Only 360-something days to go.

Monday, October 7, 2013

5th Annual Northern NJ Fiber Arts Festival 2013

I think I attended this festival its first year or 2.  It was small, but I was glad to see any kind of fiber-related event locally.  This year, the dates were October 4th & 5th.  I have a vague recollection of the festival having taken place in September, the time or 2 I attended, but I might be wrong.  I suppose the October 4 & 5 dates were partly owing to the concentration of Jewish Holidays in September, this year.  They were earlier than usual. 

I was able to slip away to visit the 5th Annual Northern NJ Fiber Arts Festival on Saturday afternoon.  Parking is limited on the street where the venue is located, but there was a sign indicating that a local church parking lot was available. I was greeted at the door by 2 women who couldn't be friendlier.  One asked if I made my sweater, which was nice.  I wore "Marie Antoinette," the TSC Bobbled Hoodie, on which I made an attached I-cord neck  edging, after knitting and frogging the hood 3 times.  I had mixed thoughts about the admission fee.  It was higher than I expected for a relatively small venue.  That being said, the area in NJ where the event took place, is upscale and expensive.  The admission fee included a cute  tote (for all the shopping one was destined to do while visiting), a door prize entry slip as well as the directory for the festival. 

Besides that I'm cold sheeping, because I may never knit all the yarn I have, I'm also on a budget, so I did not enter the festival with the notion that I would buy 5 sweaters worth of yarn.   I wanted to meet and talk to small entrepreneurs.  I have been self-employed almost all of my working life and know well, the risks and rewards.  

The first vendor I engaged in conversation was Liz Capik, who is Apple Tree Knits. The hand dyed yarn was beautiful, and if it could be called delicious, I'd call it that. I liked the color combinations she offered.  In addition to her extremely appealing yarn, she had lots of samples on display.  Her original patterns were extremely reasonably priced. I purchased her Boardroom scarf pattern.  It's sophisticated and unisex,  2 qualities I like.  Liz was fun to chat with and she recognized the sweater I was wearing from my having posted it on the festival Ravelry board that asked what knitted or crocheted garment will you be attending the fair in?  She was funny and said she didn't want to sound creepy, but she  recognized the sweater from lurking the board.  It made me laugh.    

My next encounter was with Angela Cronin of Molly Girl Yarn.  She was a lot of fun.  She's vibrant and so are her hand dyed yarns.  As I looked through her yarns, I was struck by base weight names as well as the colors having music references. For example, her generous skeins of superwash merino fingering sock yarn is called Bass Line, her superwash merino worsted weight base yarn line is called Chart Topper and her wool worsted weight base yarn is called Roadie. She also offers a base called Heavy Metal, a Hand Spun and a Limited Engagement.  Her color names are cool, too: The Other Boleyn Girl, Motorcycle Drive By, Rosalita, Absolutely Still, Movie Loves a Screen and several others.  Angela also sells accessories she has masterfully hand knit.  From her, I purchased yarn balls for drying my delicate clothes. I use the clunky spikey commercial ones for E-Rex's clothes and my more durable stuff, but I have always been reluctant to put them in with delicates.  Problem solved!

Then I wandered into button heaven.  WendyClay Pottery had just a fraction of their wares displayed, but man, were they fabulous! One button was funkier than the next.  If I had any projects queued that I thought I was realistically going to knit in the coming year, I would have purchased the necessary buttons on the spot.  The yarn bowls, with a slashed out part to accommodate yarn feed and changing yarns without cutting  from the skein, appealed to me, too.  The prices were fair for hand crafted merchandise.  

Kris, one of my Material Girls posse, is a rabbit lover, to put it mildly. Her bunny, Gaalen, is way more than a pet.  Well, if Kris weren't at a venue, selling her hand crafted jewelry, she'd have squealed to see the next vendor I'm going to mention: Angora Online. The couple at the booth were as sweet and soft spoken as their yarns.  Oh, the feel of their yarns and the knitted models they displayed, was inexplicable.  I'm salivating as I write about it!  The succulent handspun yarn they had at the festival was in  natural colors.  Their prices were  reasonable.  None of the festival vendors had "cheap yarn."  If I weren't cold sheeping, I would have bought enough angora at this vendor, for a luxurious scarf.  

The last vendor I'd like to mention in this ever-growing blog post, is Toby Roxane Designs. This is an up and coming designer who is being noticed, and rightly so.  I know I have heard one of her 2 books mentioned on a podcast.  When I told her that, she mentioned a couple of podcasts to which I don't listen, so this young lady is getting more traction than she knows. Her books are titled, London Underground Seven Shawls to Knit and The Tarot Collection. In addition she has created 4 sweater patterns, some shawls that are not in  either book and several interesting accessories.  I'm going to buy the X-Mitts pattern on Ravelry as soon as I'm finished.  I purchased the Infinity Shrug while visiting with her.  She has a unique design aesthetic that will continue to propel her notoriety.   

I enjoyed my time at the festival.  I liked the vendors with whom I spent time. The event was not as well attended as it should have been. The weather was fine.  I wonder if the organizers knew this was also the weekend of the very popular NYC Yarn Crawl. I'm guessing they didn't, or they didn't know until after they contracted for the venue. It's my opinion that our close proximity to NYC may have impinged on the attendance.  I only had a couple hours to devote to my yarnie exploration on Saturday, or I would have probably schlepped the shops on the Yarn Crawl circuit.   I hope their timing is better next year, for their sake and for the sake of the locals  who would like to visit both happenings.

I think I'll be going to Rhinebeck and will look for all of the vendors I mentioned, up there.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pass/Fail Summer

My original "summer enrichment,"  was going to be reading and absorbing the wealth of useful info in Amy Herzog's book Knit to Flatter.

I purchased the book and thought "this will be the new thing I learn during the summer."  (During the summer I don't have a full teaching schedule, so I try to enrich, somehow.  One summer, it was reading the writings of Lincoln; another summer, it was learning Indian shisha embroidery, etc.)

So, I had my plan.  Don't ask me how I like Amy's book.  I'll tell you I love it, which would lead you to believe that I have pored over it, but I haven't.  I love the idea of it and I have loved hearing about it on several podcasts.    I haven't even opened it. What an epic fail!

I was so bummed when summer officially ended because I didn't glean the  great advice on making garments to fit your body, in  Knit to Flatter.  I had a sparse student schedule and  wallowed in the feeling of having been not unproductive, but rather nonproductive over the summer. I hate that. It makes me feel shamefully lazy.

Then, I was putting something on my Ravelry project page, and realized that I knitted Kate's Shawl and a matching hat and cowl.  I also crocheted the Scallop Crochet Scarf.  Well, at least I was a little productive. 

Oh, yeah, I also taught VBS for a week and began mentoring a young man we know, whose weakness led to criminal activity. He's incarcerated for the time being. At the beginning of the summer, I took an ESL tutoring course, did the required work and extensive extra reading and study,  and passed the final test.  

Now, I feel better.  I will get to Knit to Flatter - I just don't know when.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Easy Drop Stitch Scarf

In hopes of finishing gift crafting (don't ask!) by Thanksgiving, which coincides with Hanukkah, this year, I'm trying to make simple but attractive things.

The Easy Drop Stitch Scarf by Christine Vogel, which is a free Ravelry pattern was a great candidate.

I made a small sample with the super clearance ($1.99 a skein -- I fell off the Cold Sheep wagon and bought the only 3 in the bargain bin) Bernat Mosaic yarn I picked up last week.

 I liked it.  It was a quick, 1 skein knit, because the recipient is a very, very, very petite woman.  This scarf will be "normal length" for her.  The texture is interesting and the subtle colorway is reasonable for her very conservative business style.

I haven't washed and blocked it yet, but having only been tugged at to open up the curls of the dropped stitches, the overall look is impressive, considering how simple and fast it is to knit. 

I knit everything on circular needles. For this project, I used Knitters' Pride interchangeable  Cubics.

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