Friday, October 31, 2008

SAFF - the Fiber (Photo Heavy)

On the show floor we saw variations in fiber type, and color galore, but it was in the room full of unwashed, un-carded, and un-dyed fleece in which I was able to see the beauty in the variation between species, breeds, and even sheep. This variation knitters, and eve spinners are rarely able to see, but which I think can give the greatest appreciation for the materials of our craft.

Below are pictures of a few of the fleece we saw.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Welcome to SAFF

The event floor.

Last Thursday Gadabout Knitter, myself, and our husbands set off in pursuit of fiber, and were awarded with SAFF. This was my first fiber festival, and while the event was a bit smaller than I expected, I was not dissapointed. There was fiber galore, of various types, and price points, and quantities, as well as in every state from unwashed, to hand dyed pencil roving, to finished yarn. Even in this relatively small venue the sheer amount and variety of fiber was a bit overwhelming.

I quickly became glad that I came armed with a plan of attack and a set amount of spending money (I gave my husband the plastic, just in case). I had planned to find small amounts of a variety of fibers. I did not want blends (although I did buy a few), because I want to spin each fiber by itself to see how it feels and behaves, and take notes on my preferences - like a wine journal. I purchased a very wide variety of fiber types (details and pictures to follow), and was able to stay well within my budget ... to my surprise.

Since we have been back life has been in chaos getting the kids back on schedule, unpacking, and finding space for all of my loot. In addition, Halloween is tomorrow night, and costumes must be made.

More of SAFF, my "new" office space, and Halloween to come.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Leaving for SAFF

Tomorrow Gadabout Knitter, myself, and our husbands leave for SAFF. I am very excited, but already feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fiber I will be exposed to. It should be fun.

Unfortunately the Holly Jacket is STILL not finished, but I still have a 8 hour car trip to North Carolina during which I can work on it. If Dramamine does it's job, I may have two finished sleeves when I get there.

Wish us luck in fiber foraging.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Holly's Front is Finished

I don't know how it is possible, but it happened. About an hour ago I bound off the front panels of the Holly Jacket. I still have sleeves and the finishing to go, but it seems possible that I could actually finish this sweater in time for SAFF. Thank God for half sleeves!

In other news....
One of my best friends came to visit us this past weekend, just in time for Violet's party. He had to leave today, but it was wonderful having him visit. He seems to be able to come home, sit down, and magically integrate as if no time had passed at all. His birthday was a few days before the party, and even with the craziness of the party planning, I was able to make him a special little something for his birthday (probably because I started several weeks in advance of his visit).

He is a doctor currently in his residency in Maine. Hand knits seem the obvious gift, but after a conversation in which he told me that "everyone" in Maine was knitting, I decided to make him something a bit less ordinary. The following was the result;I did an embroidery of a human heart, mounted it, and framed it. The original mat was white, which did nothing to highlight the needlework. So I painted the mat blue, to bring to mind blue blood, in contrast to the red blood implied in the work.

Off for now to cast on the sleeves.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Turning 3

The first event of my holiday season, my daughter's birthday, is officially over, and I couldn't be more happy. Yesterday we had a Super Secret Super Spy birthday party. The theme was taken directly from the Backyardigans special, "Super Spy." My daughter wanted to dress as the Lady in Pink, the bad guy in the story (I hope that doesn't imply any more than a love for pink). Jack-Jack was dressed as Agent Secret, Mr. Incredible as Henchman Tyrone, and I as Ms. T, head of the spy agency, per Violet's request.

Everyone was asked to dress in full spy garb for the party. This request was taken very seriously by some.

Those who didn't come prepared were outfitted with spy costumes at the party.

Then all of the "secret agents" went on super secret missions to find four secret containers, which contained a super secret recipe for........chocolate milk. It was great fun, and even the adults got involved; however, they didn't dance when the mission required it.

Now that the party is over I can focus on finishing my Holly Jacket. I still think I have a chance at finishing it before SAFF, if I neglect the housework and let the kids watch far more TV than normal. I finally got enough time after the party today to finish the arm hole decreases, and the front panels seem as if they are on the home stretch, which always motivates me to finish. Only about 5 more inches.

Obviously the party planning has been keeping me away from both my knitting and my blog, but it is not the only thing I have been doing. With luck I will get the opportunity to give you a glimpse of those other things that have been in the works.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The weekend is finally here, and I have found some time to knit. My husband has had to work late nearly every night for the last two weeks leaving me at home for long periods with two toddlers. While I have very good kids, and I love them very much, they can be trying at times, especially when they don't understand why Papa is not home yet. I also rely heavily on my husband to give me time for myself during the week, and his not being home reduces the amount of time I can spend pursuing my own interests (such as knitting and blogging). My wonderful mother-in-law understands this, and took the kids to the park this morning, leaving to luxuriate in yarn, and uninterrupted time. This morning has seemed like quite the luxury!

My Holly Jackets is slowly creeping toward completion. The back, and half of the front is now complete. As the sleeves are about half length rather than full length, I still have hopes that the jacket will be finished in time for me to wear it to SAFF. I would like to have a few more hand knits to wear to SAFF, but despite the insane amount of knitting I do, I have found that I actually spend very little time knitting for myself. I knit mostly for others, and gift nearly all of my projects. I don't feel that this is necessarily bad, knitters in general seem to knit for others very often in very unselfish ways. However, my situation reminds me of the plumber who fixes leaks for a living, yet has leaky pipes in his/her own home. I shouldn't knit for others at the expense of myself. Like the loved ones I take care of by wrapping in hand knits, I need to take care of my self as well. I think that caring for others at the expense of oneself is a trap that many care givers fall into, and we have to be reminded at times to spend time on ourselves.

In the spirit of doing for myself I cast on the bag pictured above. The basic pattern is The French Market Bag from Knitty. I made the same bag for my sister in a more subdued color scheme, and have wanted one for myself ever since. The color work shown in this bag is my own doing, and has been designed on the fly, by pulling scraps out of my bag and guessing by the amount available the design I can make. I am really loving this project, and am finding it calling my name when I should be finishing the Holly Jacket.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Travel Knitting

I actually accomplished a lot of knitting while traveling to and from Austin; however, I didn't even take the Holly Jacket despite the fact that I am trying to finish it before SAFF. When I left for Austin I was working on the two front panels of the jacket, each with their own balls of yarn. I would have had to take the jacket, both balls of yarn that were being worked, and at least one extra ball in case I finished either of the first two. It being a short trip we were packing carry on bags only, leaving only the room in my purse/knitting bag for all of my knitting supplies. The Holly jacket was just too big to take on the trip.

Instead I decided to start the Tuscany shawl from No Sheep for You, by Amy Singer. I already had the beautiful Handmaiden Sea Silk called for in the pattern, purchased and waiting for me cast on. As I would just be starting the shawl, and one skein for the Sea Silk would be more than enough for the trip, I decided it would make much better travel knitting, and cast on. Granted I really didn't need much convincing.

The sea silk is a joy to work with. Like the cotton I am making the Holly Jacket from, it has very little elasticity. Unlike the cotton, the sea silk slides gracefully from one needle to the next forming elegant and well defined stitches. As an added bonus, the unblocked lace pattern formed in the sea silk, actually looks like the finished lace pattern, making it very easy to catch mistakes early on. Despite it's high price (about $40 US per skein), Sea Silk will be high on my list of yarn choices for future lace patterns.

Friday, October 3, 2008


It has been exactly two weeks since my husband and I left for Austin, Texas. One of our good friends was getting married, and we wanted to be there to support him at the beginning of this new stage of life.

The wedding was beautiful in it's simplicity (the entire celebration probably cost less than $1000 - a minuscule amount compared to the $20,000 spent on the average wedding). They held the ceremony in their back yard, with only a small number of friends and family. They had legally gotten married a few weeks earlier, and dispensed with many of the formalities of a formal wedding, like a wedding party, ordained minister (opting instead for their youth minister), and lavish flower arrangements. Instead they focused on celebrating their union with friends and family.

When I found out that they hadn't hired a photographer I stepped in to make sure that their special day was captured for posterity. I know that they don't put the same emphasis on the wedding as many couples, but I also know that wedding memories are special, inspirational glimpses into the past. My own wedding pictures put a smile on my face on even the darkest of days. I tried my best to get truly beautiful shots that captured the spirit of the day. I feel that a few of my shots were able to do that.

Despite the fact that this wedding was incredibly small and inexpensive, it is one that I think I will always remember. It was a truly joyous event.

Knitting was accomplished during the trip as well, but that will have to what for the next entry.