Archive for the “LYS” Category


When I vacation in new cities, I like to buy yarn as a souvenir. I don’t collect figurines or spoons or mugs; I don’t want anything that will just sit on a shelf collecting dust. Yarn, especially sock yarn, is perfect – I always know how much to buy, and when I get around to knitting it up I can remember the whole vacation and the excursion to the store. Later, when I wear the finished project, I get even more remembering! (Like the socks I was knitting in the hospital waiting room during the hours before Eldest Niece was born. I like those.)

I was in San Jose on my birthday, where I bought this skein of Malabrigo Sock in the “Lotus” colourway at Green Planet Yarn. (And Michael got a set of Karbonz DPNs, as long as we were in the store. They’re niiiice. They’re gonna be mine when he’s done knitting his socks.) I had a hard time picking just one thing to buy, and I kept getting distracted by the sample knits in the store. Some of them were really gorgeous!

After San Jose we went to Salt Lake City, where I found two yarn stores right near each other. First, we went to Unraveled Sheep, where I bought a Greenwood Fiberworks braid of merino top in the “Twilight” colourway. I have a braid of their yak/silk already, which is the softest thing I’ve ever touched, and when I found out that they’re a local dyer – well, I just had to get this one.

Next we went to Knittin’ Pretty, where I had an even harder time deciding on what to get, and finally settled on this Cascade Heritage Paints in “Teal Mix” that kept calling to me.

It was a lot of fun to visit these three shops, talking with the owners/staff, and seeing the variety of yarn, notions and samples in each one! I also made significant progress on my current pair of socks – the first one is done and the second is nearly to the heel flap. I’ve got a double handful of design ideas from people-watching in the ski lodges, too. It’s so nice to come back from vacation rested, relaxed, and full of ideas and inspiration.

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Last weekend, Michael and I went to Ottawa to visit our sister the Ninja for Winterlude! We had a wonderful time – cooking, going to pubs (haggis nachos!) and yarn shops, skating on the Rideau Canal, checking out the ice sculptures, watching the Superb Owl with friends… I wish we could have stayed longer.

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I finished my Fleeps just in time for skating on Saturday, and a good thing too, as they kept my hands wonderfully warm. (More about them in another post, though.) Michael and I were able to skate the whole canal from start to finish and back again, 7.8 km each way, plus a few side excursions. All in all, that’s about 10 miles of skating! Here we are at Le Fin du Glace:

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Of course, I bought souvenir yarn. Quite a bit of it, actually. On Friday, we went to Knit-Knackers in Smiths Falls, where I may have gone overboard. Michael bought me some Patons Kroy in Rainbow Stripes, a colourway that I haven’t seen in my local stores, and a coordinating skein of navy for the toes/heels/cuffs. I picked up a ball of ONline Supersocke 100 in a tonal pink for a textured or cabled sock that I haven’t yet designed, and another ball of Supersocke 100 in a colourway that looks exactly like skiing in 1988. Awesome, eh? I can’t wait to knit this one up!

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Before the Superb Owl on Sunday, we stopped by Yarn Forward in Ottawa where I couldn’t resist this ball of Berocco Sox. If they hadn’t had a partially-knit sample sock in the colourway, I might have passed it by. It wasn’t until later that I realized with some amusement it has that same mustard-yellow colour that’s in the yarn for my planned long johns!

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Ottawa is one of my favourite cities, and already I’m looking forward to going to Winterlude next year – though I’d like to visit again in warmer weather. It would be nice to travel with a little suitcase, instead of a big one stuffed with wool sweaters and ice skates!

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Last weekend, to kick off the Tour de Fleece, Michael and I stopped at the Mannings on our way from Connecticut to Virginia. (If I’d known it was actually only about 90 minutes from home, I would have gone there sooner!)

We looked at the wheels and the looms and the gorgeous weaving projects in progress…

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…and then the yarn. I didn’t want to leave without a souvenir skein or two, and eventually chose a ball of Austermann Step in a grayish-greenish-blue-ish colourway, and a skein of Cascade 220 Quatro in greys to make a hat for Michael. He wanted something very specific and so I was glad to have him there to pick out the exact yarn he wanted.

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Here I am being indecisive, but I’ve already got the ball of Step in my hand.

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We saw this crocheted spare tire cover on our way out. Very cool!

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Yesterday I visited Woolwinders with Janis and Sam, and although there were quite a few tempting yarns, I flexed my willpower and bought nothing at all. I’m saving my yarn-buying for Maryland Sheep and Wool, just under seven weeks away.

It’s interesting to see how my tastes in yarns and colours have changed since I first started knitting. I’m still drawn to many of the same colours and colourways: purple and green together, teal blues and greens, heavily variegated hand-dyed yarns. But those aren’t really the colours I wear anymore. I tend much more towards the earthy colours now, the greens and rusty browns, tweeds and heathers. I’ve never been able to wear oranges or yellows, but I love rusty fall colours. I used to prefer a variegated worsted weight or even heavier for scarves and hats; now I’m leaning towards lighter yarns and stranded colourwork.

It’s also interesting to see the different yarns that the stores carry now. Woolwinders used to have an entire row of sock yarn; now they have one or two cubbies of it, and some other sock-weight yarn scattered throughout the store. There was a lot of cotton, which I ignored. They had no Noro Kureyon – not that I need any, but I do love looking at the colours – but they did have a fair selection of tweeds and heathery yarns which really tempted me. I spent some time considering a skein of Cascade 220 Superwash for a hat, but decided to hold off for now. I have so much yarn at home, I really can’t justify buying more right now!


Photo is from Woolwinders’ website.

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Once again, I visited my sworn-sister the Knitting Ninja (along with a bunch of other friends) in her hometown of Ottawa for the annual Winterlude festivities. In addition to the usual things we do there – eat stew at the cook-off, drink lots of beer, buy fancy cheeses and make a meal of them, watch the Super Bowl – we visited two yarn stores.

Our first stop was the new Yarns Etc., where I acquired a skein of Cascade Heritage Paints in the understated blues and grays “Thunder” colourway. Understated blues and grays… if you’ve been following along for a while, you may have guessed that this is going to be socks for Michael. (And if you haven’t, now you know!) I have no idea when I’m going to get to them, and first he has to tell me where the last pair of socks could fit better, but eventually there will be a new pair of plain ribbed socks for him.

Since it was within blocks of our hotel, we walked down to Yarn Forward. Last year I’d gotten two skeins of Lang Merino 120, a smooth DK weight superwash yarn, in black. This year I supplemented them with three more skeins, one each of cream, green, and blue-ish. The colours aren’t exactly wintery, but somehow they remind me of winter. Blue and green are more springlike, but with the cream in there they make me think of ice. So I’m thinking of designing a Winterlude-inspired hat and armwarmers set to be my very first for-sale patterns.

To that end, I wandered around the ice sculptures in Confederation Park looking at, and sneaking pictures of, people’s hats. There was lots of inspiration to be found, since of course in February in Ottawa it’s cold enough for nearly everyone to be wearing a hat, and many of them are hand-knit.

Many of them also have earflaps, which was my motivation last year to knit the hat that I didn’t want to buy. I finished sewing the lining into my Winterlude Hat(tm) just a day before leaving, and got the cords in with some help from Pirate-Husband, and was quite pleased with how warm it was while I traipsed around Ottawa. There are a couple of things that I would change, if I were to be making it again: first, I’d make the earflaps wider. They are wider than my ears, but still let wind in unless I tied the cords under my chin. And second, I’d make the lining a teensy bit larger, because it felt as if the hat kept riding up on my head unless I tied the cords under my chin. So third, I’d make the cords a couple of inches longer, because it was hard to tie them while wearing gloves. Even without those things, I absolutely love my new hat. Wearing something made of yarn I spun myself is so gratifying! The polar fleece lining kept me from having a terrible case of hat hair, which is definitely a good thing. (I know I’m squinty in this picture. It was very bright out.)

Speaking of gloves, there’s another finger to repair on my Fleeps. They still kept my hands warm, though I can definitely feel that they’re getting thin. Maybe I can wear them for another year, but then it will be time to make another pair for myself. Meanwhile, Michael’s new Fleeps made their debut and did their job wonderfully. He says he’s going to show them off to everyone, and I totally believe him. The magnet-snaps that I sewed in are seriously awesome. My next pair will definitely have those included.

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I found out yesterday that one of the best local yarn stores, With Yarn In Front, is closing down. They were having a 40% off everything liquidation sale, so I stopped by on my way home to see if anything was left.

Most everything had been cleared out well before I got there, but I did find this skein of Sockin’ Sox, 436 yards of a wool, bamboo and nylon blend. I might not have bought this at its original price, but at 40% off it was definitely worth it. It will knit up into subtle stripes of red, tan and blue with black spots spattered throughout. I looked up some of the socks knit in the same colourway on Ravelry and I am leaning towards keeping it for myself for a pair of plain socks, though it might make a cute striped infant-sized sweater or a good-sized stuffed toy.

I’ve been looking for these things for a while. The sock in progress, which lives in my purse, has a tendency to slide on the needles and lose a few stitches, especially if I don’t take it out and work on it frequently. Maybe it’s giving me a hint? Anyway, I had a holder for a sock in progress that was made from a plastic toothbrush holder, but it was rough on the edges and snagged the yarn too often, so I stopped using it… and never made another. These little coils wrap around the needles together, and will prevent any further sliding. I think these will work better for me than the style of holder that goes around the whole project.

It’s always sad when a local yarn store closes. This is the second one in recent days. I never shopped at the other one, so its closing was disappointing but I didn’t feel much of a loss. With Yarn in Front was a wonderful store, with a wide selection of yarns, spinning fibers, and even wheels. I tried a Kromski Sonata there,which firmed up my decision to buy one. I will definitely miss the store. It’s so doubtful that a new LYS will open to replace it.

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After a wonderful dim sum brunch with a group of friends, Janis and I celebrated “World Wide Spin in Public Day” by, what else, spinning in public! We set up our wheels at a local coffeehouse and got to work. I brought eight ounces of merino pencil roving with me. After a few frustrating undertwisted yards that kept drifting apart, I was able to get a good single going. The pencil roving has colour changes every six to nine inches, so I plan on chain-plying the singles to keep the striping going. The yarn should come out to be a good fingering weight once it’s plied. Spinning sock yarn does take a long time, but I like knitting socks best of all, so I end up spinning a lot of worsted, fine singles.

We’d originally thought to sit outside the coffeehouse and spin, for the best “in public” experience, but it was really bright out and I didn’t have sunscreen with me. Even so, a few people stopped to watch us spin indoors, and one even asked to take our picture to send to her fibre-fiend sister. That was really cool – and she was nice enough to send us a copy of the picture. (These two aren’t them; I remembered I had my camera after she’d gone and Pirate-Husband was kind enough to take some shots of us.)

I can’t have a spinning day without teaching a friend to spin. This is Stef, learning the drop spindle (my Cascade Little Si, which weighs about an ounce and a half) with some bright green top. Janis’s larger spindle is on the table. Stef decided that spinning really wasn’t her thing, but she does want to learn to knit. I’m not as confident teaching people to knit as I am to spin, but hopefully I can get the concept across well without too much frustration on either side. Maybe I’ll ask Janis to help with the teaching. Since she knits English and I prefer Continental, it might be good for both of us to be there so we can teach both ways. Then Stef can pick whichever she likes better!

Janis and I, along with Stef and Sam, also stopped by Woolwinders to check out the new inventory. They have a pretty good selection of higher-end yarns, but very little in my favourite “cheap sock yarn” range. I wasn’t going to buy anything at first, but Sam and I have been talking about designing a shawl together, so I got this Madelinetosh Merino Light in the “Vintage Frame” colourway for that. Sam also got a skein of Merino Light, but in a dark purples and black colourway. I won’t have time to design and execute a shawl for a while, but this beautiful pewter-coloured fingering-weight single will be perfect when I get to it. We’re discussing the possibility of incorporating the same stitch patterns into both a triangular shawl and a rectangular stole.

Floyd and Aubrey are out cold. This might be the only time I could knit in front of them without fearing for my yarn. Fortunately, kittens sleep a lot…

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Did I really make plans to be out of town on the same weekend as the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival? That’s what I get for not looking at my calendar. Boy, did I feel stupid when I realized my mistake. Fortunately, Amtrak doesn’t charge change fees, and I am able to move my trip to the following weekendweekend before (the following weekend is Mothers Day, and I can’t miss that either!) Whew!

Despite not remembering when it is, I’m pretty excited about MDSW. Like last year, I plan to buy mostly fibre – the hand-dyed stuff that I love to touch before deciding to buy. I’m going to help a friend look for her first drop spindle and some fibre so I can teach her to spin. I’m *not* going to buy anything that hasn’t already been washed. I haven’t gotten around to carding any of the solid-coloured stuff that I bought last year, so I don’t think I need more of those. I meant to bring the carder out over the weekend, but it didn’t quite work out. I *am* going to buy a braid of fibre in colours that I don’t usually go for, and something in a semi-solid, and maybe a sort of fibre that I haven’t yet tried – perhaps a blend that will spin into a tweedy yarn.

If I see the perfect sock yarn for my mom, I’ll pick it up; otherwise I’m going to have to order from WEBS as my local yarn store doesn’t have the colourway and wasn’t very forthcoming about their ability to order it in for me. I was a little disappointed at the hedging about ordering, and the implication that I’d have to buy a full bag of the yarn when all I need is one skein. (But ordering from WEBS is dangerous! I never want to get just one thing; I always want to get up to a $60 order so that I can have the 20% discount!)

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Last weekend, while my house in Virginia was buried in more than two feet of snow, I went to Canada. Ironically, the weather there was beautiful and clear, if really cold. It was even too cold for me to want to skate on the canal. Instead, my sworn-sister the Ninja and I, along with our friend Amy, took an afternoon to visit yarn stores.

Our first stop was Wool N’ Things in Orleans, where I was thrilled to find some of the discontinued Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed, the same yarn that I used to knit my Fleep-Tops. I picked up two skeins in Cedar, a gorgeous dark green with red and yellow flecks. They’ll probably become another pair of Fleeps, as backup for when my first pair inevitably wears out. The green totally doesn’t match my dark blue winter coat, but it’s time for a new coat anyway. Perhaps something in green, or preferably black. Black goes with everything.

Then we headed over to Yarn Forward in Ottawa proper, where I bought two skeins of this super-soft (and superwash!) Lang Merino DK in a gray so dark it’s almost black. My first thought was that it might make a pair of Fleeps for Michael, but he wanted something thicker and tweedier, so I’m going to use it for a pair of classy office armwarmers for myself and pick up some Rowan Felted Tweed in as black as it comes for him. Not that I mind being able to use this pettably soft stuff for myself, not at all! I am thinking about making something like these Cafe au Lait Mitts from SnapperKnits, or perhaps I will come up with my own pattern for them.

I did have a disappointment this year: My old Stellar Toque, now over four years old, may be nearing retirement. It’s gotten stretched out and too large, and lets the wind through to my ears. I am thinking that before next Winterlude, I will knit a colourwork hat with earflaps and line it with fleece. We saw many of them in the Byward Market when we were there for the Stew Cook-Off on Friday, and I was seriously tempted to buy one – but why buy what I can knit? Pirate-Husband suggested that I could salvage the Stellar Toque by knitting earflaps onto it and lining it with fleece, instead of making a whole new hat. I could also felt it a little to shrink it and make it more windproof.

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Sometimes it’s difficult to choose a traveling project without casting on for something new, and sometimes it’s really obvious. Fortunately for me, this is one of the obvious times! On Wednesday I’ve a four and a half hour train trip, followed by an eight hour drive on Thursday, and then a long weekend in Ottawa with my sworn-sister, the Knitting Ninja and some of our friends.

In preparation, I cast on last night for the second of the Sibling Socks, an easy project to bring along that not only won’t take up too much space, but also won’t be too hard to work on while drinking beer and playing games. I haven’t traveled by train since I was in college, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to knit without getting motion-sickness. I’m going to give it a try!

Here’s something that you might find hard to believe: I turned down a trip to WEBS. One of the potential routes to Canada puts us in the neighborhood of America’s Yarn Store, and I actually said “let’s not go this year.” We’ve stopped at WEBS for the past few years, so I feel as though I’ve accomplished my pilgrimage as a knitter. I really don’t need any impulse yarn, and I’m sure to buy some if we stop. And… we’re going to visit yarn stores in Ottawa. Not that the exchange rate is super-favorable to American dollars at the moment, but I’d rather see if I can pick up a souvenir from another country that I might not be able to get in the States.

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