Monday, May 26, 2008

Block Island Ballbands

I just returned from a lovely Memorial Day Weekend (although I suppose it is a bit of an oxymoron to say Happy Memorial Day) visiting friends on Block Island, a truly beautiful place...sort of like Martha's Vineyard without half the population of the Upper West Side. Too many Red Sox fans, but...whatever. I was chill. I turned to my old standby housegift and whipped out a trio of Ballband Warshrags for my hostess Claire and her daughters Kate and Ann, packaged along with a tube of Boss Lady Body Wash (no affiliation, but I was particularly attracted by the motto "Lather up and hunt 'em down.")


Saturday, May 10, 2008


Clap off. I'd been trying to finish this in time for Maryland Sheep & Wool, but ended up working on it there instead. I've decided it was meant to be a Mother's Day present to myself; I've been dragging it off the shelf and forcing it to hug me all day.
Notes: Knitting to pattern on a US 7 needle, I ended up using six skeins of Grignasco Top Print (sport weight alpaca, Colorway: Berry), about 660 yards. Final dimensions: approx. 19" wide x 66" long--longer than I thought, which is fine.
The end result is worth it, but it's quite a slog. Definitely get a hold of Soul Knitting's Clapotis Spreadsheet; checking off the rows as you go is most encouraging.
When measuring knit side up from the cast-on, the right side is the width, the left side is the length.
Rule of 5 for yarn amounts: you'll use approximately 1/5 of your yarn for the increase section, 3/5 for the straight section, 1/5 for the decrease section.
As you slog along, watch for the following change-ups: Section 3, Row 6 (ssk, place marker, yo, kfb). Row 8 is when you get to make your ladder (yay!). In Section 4, there are ladders at the beginning and end of Row 8 (yay! yay!). Remember you're only working through Row 10 on the 8th repeat. In Section 5, Row 2 should begin with a Purl 1 (a mistake on the version of the spreadsheet I used; it might have been fixed by now).
I chose not to block; I like the curls and squiggles.
Onward to some palate clearing warshrags before I cast on my next one.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival 2008

I lay here recovering from my inaugural trip to Maryland Sheep & Wool. If you're reading this, I assume you're a knitter (or a close relative), so I don't have to explain the significance of this yearly extravaganza. Anyway, I boarded a bus loaded with sleepy but determined New York City knitters at 7:00am (thanks for organizing, Eve!). The atmosphere on the bus was oddly subdued...I imagine buses coming from places like...oh, Philadelphia...twittering with excitement, but we approached this trip not unlike soldiers deployed into battle with pointy sticks. Or maybe it was the fact that it was 7:00 in the morning. Anyway. Kudos to our ballsy (female!) bus driver who blithely bypassed the line of cars patiently waiting on the entry road and had us in the parking lot by 11:00am.

I had a sort of battle plan that I abandoned early on, but my first stop was at Brooks Farm Fiber , where I got four skeins of sinfully sweet Four-Play (50/50 wool/silk) in shades of purple, destined for my next Clapotis (yeah, yeah...I know I haven't finished the first one yet).
four-play stash
And then came Ravelmania. Again, if you're a knitter I probably don't have to explain what Ravelry is, but you sort of had to be there to imagine the hysteria that greeted Jess, Casey and Mary-Heather's arrival at the scheduled meet-up...kind of like The Beatles hitting Kennedy Airport. I got my Ravelry ID button and avatar sticker and plunged back into the shopping fray, later ambushing Casey paparazzi-style on the food midway, explaining that posing is the price of fame:
casey-disagree. Hard to tell whether Casey disagreed with the lemonade or the lemonade disagreed with him. Mary-Heather was in better spirits:
I ran into Jess later while I was in a shopping daze; I didn't get a picture (she is quite beautiful) but managed to thank her for all things Ravelry. I encountered an astonishing number of folks pinned with Ravelry buttons throughout the day, and can only imagine the number unidentified. It truly is a phenomenon, and very odd to recognize people from their Ravatars. I was too fiber-od'd to approach most, but I had to make contact with somebunnyslove, aka The Queen of the Clap (she and her Clapotis were far lovelier than my limited paparazzi skills suggest):
Ignoring the irony of consuming the creature that gives me so much fiberly pleasure, I scarfed down a lamb sandwich with a healthy dose of head-clearing horseradish and headed on to the next meet-up, this one a far calmer and restorative sit-down with some homies from Knitter's Review, including the Queen Bee KR founder Clara Parkes.
The odd look of distaste on Clara's lovely face might stem from the fact that a faint but unmistakable aroma of sewage emanated from the ground on which we sat. Or maybe it's my bad paparazzi skills again. Anyway, she graciously signed my copy of The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and after basking in her etherealness for awhile I heading back to stash enhancement.
I have never been a good shopper. Faced with too many choices I freeze; armed with a list of specifics I panic-buy if an envisioned item isn't there (in this case, one perfect skein of worsted weight cashmere). But I did pretty good this time, coming upon a gorgeous skein of Lyra, an alpaca, merino and silk blend from Spirit Trail Fiberworks, along with a pattern to make a hood:
lyra stash
The perfect bronze of a skein of mohair/wool from Persimmon Tree Farm more than made up for the lack of cashmere:
potluck stash
One last budget-completing purchase of four bars of Goat's Milk Soap from Three Waters Farm and I stumbled back to the bus exhausted, but quite pleased with myself. The ride back to NYC was a lot jollier, with stash and snacks passed around (bless you to whoever brought the Cheetos). Also, apparently, a lot more aromatically pleasant than last year's return trip when, according to old timers, a caged ram occupied the rear seat and did whatever rams do all the way back to NYC. No word on where he went when he got there, but I would have loved to see the cab driver's reaction.