Café de Printemps

Weekend plans: Find a table in the sun with my honey, order some cool drinks, and read/write/knit to our hearts’ content.

As for MDSW: I just can’t do it. We’ve been a bit tight, money-wise, lately, and so I decided that it would make more sense to spend that money on:

(1) Our May rent (!)
(2) Beads for my stitch markers and fabric for my knitting bags (all under the Knit*Six “design label”), which Karida is going to sell on my behalf at her booth at the Knitters Connection in Columbus, OH, in June
(3) Our trip to Indy in June, for the US Formula One Grand Prix

Also, I have no shortage of yarn and fiber at home, and no projects planned for the near future for which I’m lacking supplies. Going to the festival is a lot of fun, but I’d be just too tempted to buy “stuff” – whether I actually want to/need to or not. And with our small space, there’s not much room to store more than I already have.

This was a carefully thought out decision, so I don’t feel left out or (too) disappointed. Instead, I’ll enjoy a beautiful weekend with Chris, and go to a DC United football (soccer) game on Sunday :-)

Finally, for my online knitting & blogging friends…I’m wishing you all a lovely spring/autumn weekend (depending on your hemisphere), with loads of time for repaxing with your needles.


Ode on a (Non)Grecian Yarn

Why is Louet Gems fingering weight yarn so lovely to work with?

This is Koigu KPPPM in the colourway I think of as “Orchid.” (Gorgeously hand painted on Gems fingering weight)

I love the delicate sheen, the tiny little pillows of puffy merino, the yarn’s gentle stretch and “steel magnolia” strength. I love the texture of Gems Pearl when it’s knitted up, whether in stockinette, cable, or lace. The slight pebbly nature that adds interest to anything I knit…And, of course, I love the way it takes up colour. (I’m suffering from Anglophilia today.)

Is it weird to love a yarn that much? To take it out and gaze at it because the way it’s spun makes me (oddly?) happy? Or am I not alone? Do all knitters feel that kind of passion for one yarn or another?

Neighborhood Fiber Co. uses Louet yarns, including my favorite. In fact, Karida dropped off a little cake of Brightwood the other day. Hand-painted yarn house calls…Now THAT’S luxury! I can’t wait to use it. I’ll be casting on for my chevron scarf as soon as I finish the second Orchid Sock.
Here’s my yummy little Brightwood “yarn muffin” (blue), waiting with its friends to be knit into something wonderful. (BTW: I also adore her Brookland colourway…Uh oh. I feel another purchase coming on.)

Looking at my “I-can’t-wait-to-start-these-projects” stash, I see that nearly all of my current and future projects involve Louet Gems fingering weight yarn in one way or another. Socks, of course. And the soon-to-be-mine Chevron Scarf. And the edging on Tahoe (sadly pushed aside while I complete the Orchid Socks, but I’ll be back to work on it soon!).

And Gems is not just sock yarn–it can be used for almost anything. Check out Melissa’s lovely Annabelle design (scroll down a bit, on the right-hand side). She made it in sock-weight cashmere. But wouldn’t Gems make a great substitution?

(My small collection of Claudia Hand Painted yarn, also based on Gems.)

At last year’s Maryland Meat and Wool Festival, I saw dozens of knitters crammed like sardines into the very small Koigu booth, grabbing armloads of skeins out of baskets marked “Sale.” I was shocked…

To me, some of the colours were a bit–how do I say this–garish? But my fellow fiber-holics didn’t seem to notice the colours. They just pushed, grabbed, and bought. I attributed this to the sock-knitting craze that pre-dated today’s lace knitting craze. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was the yarn itself, and the mostly-fabulous colourways were the icing on the cake…

I really would like to know what you think. Do you feel the same way? Or are you true to another? Tell me: What yarn makes YOU lapse rhapsodic?

Go ahead, I know you want to comment…and I promise not to let the cat out of the bag ;-)

Keeping Warm with (less than) One Skein

I love warm weather, and can’t wait for spring to arrive! But if it’s going to be cold, snowy, and icy, I’d at least like to cash in on some of winter’s beauty…instead, this was about the extent of D.C.’s ice-covered, sparkling wonderland:(My focus is a bit off, but you get the idea…)

We also got 4 inches of snow/sleet/slush in the District (now frozen into a solid, dirty sheet of ice). And it’s been SO cold this week! Looking on the bright side, though, it’s great weather for making and wearing our woolies. I have a few FOs to show off…I’ll start with the most recent:

Last weekend, with a friend’s birthday just days away, I decided to use up a skein of the wonderful alpaca yarn I bought at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival last year (Alpaca Fun Fiber Works, Web site unavailable). I’d already decided upon the rib and cable neckwarmer from Leigh Radford’s One Skein.I’ve already made two of the two-cable scarves: one for my husband, and one for my stepfather. These patterns are well thought out, fun to knit, and quick to finish.

A couple of days later (after working on various projects in my typical fickle fashion), I finished. I thought it looked gorgeous. The alpaca yarn (from Bailey, one of the cuties at Alpaca Fun Farms) is a rich, glossy chocolate brown, soft as butter.
I didn’t use cable needles…they’re slow, and get on my nerves. So the first couple of 3/3 cable rounds, in slick alpaca on Addi Turbo needles, was a real adventure! But once I got into the swing of things–thanks to Grumperina’s tutorial, which I discovered a year ago–the needle-free cabling was no problem at all.

When my friend opened the package (wrapped in the comics section from last week’s paper…why do I never have wrapping paper on hand when I need it??) he seemed to genuinely appreciate it. I just love knitting gifts for friends and family, letting them know how much I love them by investing time, thought, and creativity in their presents instead of money.
(The FO, next to one of my mother’s early sculptures, titled “Grandmother Sleeping.”)

My only complaint about the pattern is that the finished neckwarmer stretched significantly within a couple of days. I offered to thread some elastic through it, but Thom said he liked the drape and was wearing it “cravat style.” If I make another, I will definitely go down another needle size (I already went down from US#6 to US#5), and will probably cast on fewer stitches, as well.

Still, it’s lovely (thanks to Bailey!) and soft, warm and handmade with love. And in the end, isn’t that the real gift?