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I had such a good time at the Stitches West market yesterday! Here’s exactly how much fun I had:

2014-02-20_StitchesWest-loot

Top row:
Octopus Mitten kit from Dragonfly Fibers (yarn is Traveller); book “The Rhinebeck Sweater”; Hardtwist yarn in Glory (yellow) from Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks; 10 ounces Polwarth & silk fiber in Seawater from Wonderland Dyeworks; 3 skeins Oink Pigments DK in Watermelon Rind from Oink Pigments

Bottom row:
4 skeins Traveller in African Daisy from Dragonfly Fibers; 3 skeins Cascade Kid Seta in 3 shades of blues; 2 skeins Rothko (Polwarth/silk blend) in Cayenne (red-orange) from Abstract Fibers; BLF/nylon sock yarn in Plum Majesty from 2 Guys Yarn Company; Diaphanous laceweight in blue from Sincere Sheep

The market has been a one-day event for me the past few years so I have to make it count!

2 Guys Yarn Company is new this year. I had to take a couple of minutes to allow my eyes to adjust when I got to their booth, because most of the yarn I had just seen was brilliantly saturated with color and theirs are lovely muted colors. Well worth the couple of minutes! I decided pretty quickly I wanted a skein of BFL sock yarn, because that’s harder to find as a base, and took my time to finally choose a gorgeous purple. I recommend you stop by!

Wonderland Dyeworks is new to me but not new to the market. I don’t know how I could have overlooked them last year; I was drawn in 4 times yesterday, just loving the colors, and finally decided on the Seawater braids.

I went to Dragonfly Fibers early on, scoping out what they had because I found them so late in the day last year I hadn’t much money left; this time around I wanted a sweater quantity and enough cash on hand to get it!

All in all, added 6575 yards (3.74 miles) and 10 ounces of fiber to the stash.

Noteworthy-to-me absences: there were four booths I planned to go to and they weren’t there: Cephalopod Yarns, Kollage Yarns (need another set of square needles; only one vendor had them but not the size I need), Nordic Mart (I talked to someone who has the inside scoop and they are planning to go in even-numbered years), and Village Spinning & Weaving. I also ended up not attempting to cram myself into Miss Babs’ or The Verdant Gryphon’s booths, both too full every time I happened by.

After all the shopping I met up for dinner from my friends who drove up from where I used to live and spent a few hours catching up with them. Today I spent the day resting my tired legs, getting stuff done around the apartment, and admiring my pile of lovelies that I haven’t put away yet. It’s too bad it’s only once a year (all that eye candy) but, speaking honestly, best for the budget and yarn storage areas if it’s only once a year. 🙂

 

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Friday’s “to do” list, had I written one, would have looked something like this: wake up at 4:30am due to weird dreams, including one about arriving at Stitches West without cash (so stupid to dream this, because vendors all take credit cards); drift in a semi-awake state until 6:30am to pretend this was a full night’s sleep; write SW shopping list because did not take the time during the week due to frantic last-minute knitting on massive sweater; weave in ends on sweater while oatmeal cooks, spit-splicing having reduced number of ends to make this a manageable morning task; drive an hour; wander market for 2 hours; long lunch; wander market for 2.5 more hours; meet up with friends for knitting and dinner and more knitting; drive home, arriving a little after 11pm.

Whew, what an exhausting day that was! I woke up so tired yesterday that I barely dragged myself out the door for Saturday errands and didn’t have the wherewithal to play with my new toys in the afternoon, which makes today play day. Here’s this year’s loot:

2014_02_20_StitchesWest_loot

Dollars-wise, I spent about as much as the last 3 years, but came home with less yardage. I added 5,010 yards (2.85 miles) and 8 ounces of fiber to the stash this year and apparently I was in the mood for green, which didn’t notice until I unpacked the shopping bag.

Left to right across the top: mini-skein of Regia sock yarn that I cast on while wandering, Kollage square needles, stitch markers from Miss Purl, lip balm and lotion bar from Bar-Maids, 2 bags from Erin Lane, 10 skeins Cascade 220 Paints. Left to right across the bottom: black alpaca/silk and Falkland fiber from The Sassy Sheep, 2 skeins DK weight from Oink Pigments, 5 skeins Traveller from The Verdant Gryphon, Damsel from Dragonfly Fibers. At the bottom: Silk Sock from Red Fish Dyeworks.

The stitch markers from Miss Purl were on my shopping list; I didn’t have any large enough to use on a size 10 needle. These are great because the rings she uses are solid, meaning they won’t snag on your yarn while you’re working or stretch out and split. I bought the lotion bar as a comparison to my own lotion bar. [A couple of friends came over last weekend and we made caramel candy and lotion bars (in separate pots, I assure you). The bar was nearly as sticky an affair as the caramel because the honey oozed out after the bar hardened. A couple of days of resting on a towel and some rinses under the tap made it so I can actually use it without wearing it permanently. Sticking a bar to my dry shins might be an effective moisturizing treatment but I’d end up with a puddle of beeswax in my socks and that’s just not the look I’m going for.]

The sweater I began on February 1 was in a wearable state so I wore it to SW; however, it was over 70 degrees outside and about the same inside, so I carried it more than wore it (bulky wool/silk yarn + summery weather = NO). I had hoped to find buttons and did find one style I liked, but $18 a button isn’t happening when I need 5 of them.

Cardigan_2014_02_Emerald_Noro-Iro_WIP

It’s not completely finished. I used two balls of yarn for the buttonband/collar so the stripes would match, but at the back of the neck where I twisted them around each other intarsia-style, I twisted them on the wrong side. I didn’t pay attention that it’s a foldover collar until I was on the last two rows and the twists are visible, so I need to rip and re-knit the buttonband and collar. I also may lop a few inches off the sleeves after blocking; my swatch ended up shorter after blocking so they may be OK, must wait and see.

Today’s lunch is simmering on the stove: a root vegetable stew, because although winter isn’t really happening (it’s warm with sparkling sunshine outside now), the root vegetables know it’s winter and they’re what’s to be had at the farmers’ market.

Today’s big excursion was to Lambtown in Dixon, CA. This is either my 3rd or 4th trip and each time I’ve mostly or entirely missed the sheepdogs in action due to the event finishing far earlier than scheduled. I hustled the morning errands and arrived at about 11:20am (30 minutes earlier than last time) and headed straight for the arena. This year the dog trials were scheduled to run until 3pm (in previous years, they were scheduled to end at noon; don’t know why they were longer today) so I actually got to watch them for more than an hour before I wandered off to see other stuff.

I’m fascinated by what the dogs do. The sheep handler at one end of the field releases 3 sheep, then the owner/trainer signals with voice and/or whistles and/or hand signals, the dog runs fast, walks, creeps forward, or lies down in order to drive the sheep the length of the arena and through, around, and into obstacles, and the sheep do their best to get away from the dog. The sheep seem to ignore the human on the field and if one gets separated from the other two, it really works to get back together with its buddies. All the herding has to take place within a certain time limit; I think 15 minutes.

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Some sheep were far more cooperative than others. I have to say all the dogs struck me as competent and professional although some failed at their task due to a sheep’s non-professionalism. During one trial, one sheep separated from its buddies and came up to the stands. Even though I was sitting a few rows back, I have to say I really felt scrutinized, like “hey, what are all you people looking at?”. Eventually, a second dog had to be called in and the two together rounded the sheep back into a group and drove them to the sheep pen at the other end of the field, although the handler there had to release a good chunk of the flock to essentially take the 3 into the larger group, then the whole herd went where they were supposed to go. Judging from the “uh-oh”s in the stands, I wasn’t the only one wondering whether we were having some sort of sheep mutiny.

After all the herding, the dog is rewarded with a lovely bath to cool off, which they all seemed to enjoy. The sheepdog finals are tomorrow, for any of you who are going.

I watched the spinners and weavers at the Sheep to Shawl competition and was impressed as always. It’s amazing a group can turn out a shawl in a few hours. I do wish I could spin with a group like that, but my hands were sweaty just standing around; there’s no way I could spin well at any kind of an outdoor fair. I could, however, shop, and here’s today’s loot:

2013_10_05_Dixon_Lambtown_loot

The large sack contains 12 ounces of California Variegated Mutant in a medium gray (color rather washed out in the photo) with a purple strand of Firestar running through it, from Morro Fleece Works. The Medusa-like bundle is 4 ounces of 95% Romney and 5% alpaca in the longest rolags I’ve ever seen. I can’t remember the vendor name — if you know, let me know, please! [added 10/12: it’s Aunt Janet’s Fiber Mill; thank you, fellow Raveler!] The rolags are around 30 inches long each. I’ve never spun from a rolag so this will be a new spinning adventure for me. The yarn is 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon in a subtle dark blue and green blend called “Fishing in the shadows” from Duren DyeWorks. I have no immediate plans for any of it yet.

The disappointment: no fiber animals to be found. Last time I went, there were alpacas and llamas and rabbits and many different breeds of sheep. This year, no. Just the one breed of sheep, and they were either in the sheepdog arena or the shearing pens so you couldn’t walk up to them to see them. Also, the events schedule is goofy. It lists times but not where anything’s taking place. Fortunately, the fairgrounds are small and it’s easy to walk the whole thing to find what you’re looking for.

The plan for the rest of tonight: to loll and allow the fan to do its work. It was warm today and is still 85 degrees in the apartment, too hot to sleep.

I went to the park, saw and heard the band play, and started a Strandwanderer scarf with Tausendschön yarn. Small turnout for Knit in Public: just me and Molly (thanks for coming, Molly!).

WWKiP Day

The much-predicted 74 degrees didn’t make it to this part of the park. Well, I guess it was maybe high 60s, but only when the chill wind ceased for a few seconds which wasn’t often. My hands were purple and I couldn’t feel my ears. But I was there!

With regard to the yarn: I believe these are the traditional zombie apocalypse colors. It’s knitting up differently than I thought it would, color-repeat-wise.

The second Saturday in June is World Wide Knit in Public Day. Where will you knit tomorrow?

I didn’t find any existing events in San Francisco except for one on Tuesday morning when I’m at work (WWKiP Day has turned into WWKiP Week) so I put a forum post on Ravelry for tomorrow. If any of my readers are near or in S.F. (unlikely, I think), please come join us in the park tomorrow afternoon!

Knitters near Golden Gate Park, want to knit in public in the park this Saturday afternoon, June 8?

When: noon to 3pm
Where: music concourse band shell (between the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum).

Three hours too long? Come for only part of it. This location has parking, public restrooms, trees for a bit of shade, lots of foot traffic, and seating so you don’t need to tote a chair in your knitting bag. Forecast is 74 degrees – should be nice!

See you there!

Here’s a peek at what I bought at Stitches West on Friday:

2013_02_23_StitchesWest_loot

Top row, left to right: Corriedale fiber from Fun Fibers for Hand Spinners; Greensleeves Spindles 18g spindle from Carolina Homespun (which went for a test drive immediately); Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball (my stepdad wants “crazy socks” and I hope this fits the bill); Watermelon Sock Kit from Knitter’s Brewing Co.; 10 skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool for the stash

Bottom row: sport weight alpaca from Black Diamond Alpacas; worsted weight superwash merino from Oink Fibers in “Goldfish Bowl”; orange cashmere laceweight from StitchSisterz; Valley Yarns Superwash DK (wee sweater-to-be); Bugga! from Cephalopod Yarns (so. very. purple.); Creating from A Verb For Keeping Warm; 2 skeins of Noro Kureyon

I like going on Friday. It’s less crowded than Saturday and less picked-over than Sunday. Using a vacation day from work is worth it! Six of the items were on my list, including the spindle. It’s the same weight as one of my other spindles but with a considerably smaller whorl so it will fit in a purse or backpack far more easily. The bright yellow alpaca is a color I saw everywhere in all kinds of yarns and kept picking up so I decided to buy it. No idea yet what I’ll make with it, just had to have the yellow. My major splurge was the Bugga! in such a lovely, vivid purple that I’m going to have to admire it for a while before I start thinking about what to do with it.

I wish I had gone back to Shaky K Fiber to buy one of their skeins of terrifically bright sock yarn. They’re not in the Showbook but they were in row 100. I’ll add them to my list for next year, or purchase mail order since I’ve already handled the wares. I also missed Brooks Farm, who did not go to Stitches West this year.

Acquisition: 7117 yards (4.04 miles).

It’s time for the annual loot shot showing off the spoils of Stitches West. All I can say about the all-day spree is “mmm… yarn,” both in skeins and in the finished objects everyone wore despite the unusually warm weather. Behold this year’s loot:

2012_02_25_StitchesWestLoot

Top row: Noro Iro and Jojoland Baritone, for which I have no specific plans yet; “Knitwear Design Workshop” which I’ve gotten from the library 4 times, which means it’s time to add it to my library; “Landon” pattern by Jordana Paige with Valley Yarns Northampton; 4 ounces of “Shire,” a Shetland/Cotswold fiber blend from Knitifacts.

Bottom row: Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18 and hex beads to make wristlets; Louet Gems for a wee sweater in “Vintage Baby Knits”; “Clarissa” pattern by White Lies Designs with Cascade 220 Sport; impulse sock yarn buy from Hazel Knits; DROPS Alpaca for their design 114-8, a v-neck pullover; 4 ounces of BFL/silk from Miss Babs.

And in the middle, buttons for a nearly-finished baby sweater I have at home and one skein of DROPS Fabel for a baby hat and booties.

After putting it all in Excel I conclude that I am a hopeless case when it comes to stash. This is 5 miles of yarns purchased. Considering I only knitted up 6 miles last year, I am well into SABLE (for those of you unfamiliar with the term: Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy). Best keep knitting.

Yesterday I went to Lambtown U.S.A. in Dixon, CA, and all I got was this lousy alpaca:

Where I am today

Just kidding. I wasn’t allowed to take it home. It’s also definitely not lousy, but rather very fluffy and friendly. This was the alpaca in the petting zoo.

I had to go to the farmers’ market in the morning so I wasn’t able to leave as early as I liked. Still, I got there at 11:30 and hoped to see at least another hour of sheepdog trials which were scheduled to go until 1pm. So very wrong; they were over by the time I got there so I wandered over to the barns where I saw alpacas of various colors:

2011_10_01_Lambtown_b_alpaca

2011_10_01_Lambtown_c_alpacas

and Jacob sheep with their two-color fleeces and multiple horns:

2011_10_01_Lambtown_e_Jacob-sheep

2011_10_01_Lambtown_f_Jacob-sheep

and Icelandic sheep.:

2011_10_01_Lambtown_h_Icelandic-sheep

The owner showed me how two Icelandics standing side-by-side looked to be the same color on top (sheep white) but were different colors underneath the outer layer (one was white, one was gray). Interesting feature of the breed.

I went to the petting zoo pen where they had the alpaca pictured above plus 8 piglets, lots of pretty chickens, rabbits, kittens, ducks, and a very handsome rooster with black-and-white feathers and a punk hairdo on top. Oh, and kids, of course (I mean children, but they had goats, too).

2011_10_01_Lambtown_i_chicken-piglet-rabbit

2011_10_01_Lambtown_k_piglet-goat-rooster

I saw activity over in the sheepdog arena so went there and learned that novice sheepdogs were coming later (woohoo!) and someone was trying to drum up enough knitters to beat a record of highest number of knitters in one place. Since I always have knitting in my bag, I was able to join in. Not much of a crowd:

2011_10_01_Lambtown_o_did_we_beat_the_record

I heard we didn’t even come close to the record, which is some 1200+ knitters, and we were maybe 300. While sitting there, someone was leading a novice sheepdog around the arena.

2011_10_01_Lambtown_n_dog_checking_out_sheep

Sudden excitement when one of the piglets from the petting zoo came racing around the corner and into the field, followed by a young lady who couldn’t catch it. Dog ignored piglet (sheep far more interesting), piglet approached sheep and turned around when it noticed how large those sheep are, then just ran back and forth along long lengths of the field. More people got involved at one point and managed to capture the escapee. I imagine it went down for a nap after that; that’s one big field for those tiny legs.

2011_10_01_Lambtown_r_great_piglet_escape

(Click for big version and my notes so you can see the piglet, which is that little dark speck on the grass between the dog and the man in the blue t-shirt.)

I thought the novice sheepdogs did very well, even more so when I later learned that the sheep were uncooperative after having been herded hither and thither by professional sheepdogs all morning long. It’s amazing to watch the dog go left or right, lie down, crouch, crawl toward the sheep, etc., all in the effort of moving sheep around. The shepherd gives the dog directions but the sheep looked like they ignored the human completely.

I left a little money in Solano county:

2011_10_01_Lambtown_s_shopping

That’s a Lincoln and Corriedale blend with a red bamboo thread through it from Morro Fleece Works, an alpaca braid from Lassen View Alpacas, a Cormo and silk blend and a bamboo and merino blend from Sincere Sheep, and a merino and silk blend from Opulent Fibers. My wheel calls to me although I should be working on my niece’s sweater:

2011_10_02_Tuckernuck_WIP

The little brown bit of knitting you see is for her Barbie doll; she got several for her birthday so I figured I’d make a matching sweater so she and her Barbie can go out in style.

I went to Stitches West and came back with some goodies:

2011_02_20_StitchesWest_loot

Top row: enough Silky Wool for 2 sweaters, really wild Noro, a lovely blend of Shetland and Costwold from Hill & Dale, a heavier drop spindle than I already own, and resin buttons. I walked past the button booth at first, assuming the buttons were glass because they were so shiny, and I don’t want fragile buttons. I finally touched a button, noticed it wasn’t cold and therefore not glass, and eventually bought just these red ones. Next year I’ll have to bring either sweaters that need buttons or swatches for their button bands.

Middle row: a llama/BFL/mohair blend also from Hill & Dale, more spinning fiber, yarn from Miss Babs, TARDIS-blue sock yarn (yay! I’ve had TARDIS socks in my head for a while), skinny yarns with specific projects in mind.

Bottom row: a crazy sparkly batt and the result of Sunday’s return trip to Miss Babs’ booth for a big hunk of fiber in a colorway called “cascade.”

Stitches West had even more booths this year than before. I missed a few vendors who weren’t there and found some new ones. The Sanguine Gryphon was new for me; I don’t think I’ve seen her booth there before. Her yarns are beautiful. I resisted those and bought one of her patterns.

Saturday night in our hotel room my friends thought it would be funny to get a picture of me reclining like a Roman at a feast. Apparently there is another shot of me on someone’s camera that caught me making a face more like the stereotypical blasĂ© look you see in movies of that kind. Here I’m looking pretty happy (yarn and red wine will do that to you).

2011_02_19_Kirsten_with_loot2

I had fun, and at last year’s rate of knitting I bought about 9 months’ of yarn. At this year’s rate so far, I could go through it in 3. My high rate of knitting uses up all my free time in the evening and prevents me from recording my projects here, hence the dearth of blog posts this year. I’m sure it won’t last.

As has been the case often in the past, the hills behind the convention center had snow:

2011_02_19_snowy_mountains_Santa_Clara

I realize that U-Haul was probably a vendor’s, but given some of the large sacks I saw ladies walking around with in the Market I could imagine a shopper had rented it.

P.S. Niece has Nemo hat and likes it. Success!

It’s high time I showed you the little wristlets I learned to make at the end of February. These were the product of the “Lapland Hand Garments” class I took at Stitches West, taught by Susanna Hansson. The technique is from the area of Finland around Rovaniemi; we learned there isn’t a big knitting tradition there because there aren’t many sheep, hence not much wool. Traditionally, they stuck with small stuff.

In class, we first made a practice wristlet using worsted weight yarn. This was so we could learn the technique before heading into a small gauge with colors of our choosing. Here again is the practice wristlet in traditional colors that I finished in just under 2 hours and the actual project started right before lunch:

2010_02_26_Lapland_Hand_Garments_class

On the practice wristlet, you can see my stitches are looser at the bottom and tightened up toward the top as my technique improved. While I have kind of a super hero-ish feel when I wear it on my wrist, I’m not inspired to make it a mate. I use this as a glass cozy when I get hot tea at Monday Night Knitting.

I was definitely inspired to both finish and make a mate for the fine-gauge wristlet. The actual project is worked on US size 00 needles. It turns out is is far harder to take a picture of my own wrists from the top than I thought it would be. So here they are from the other side:

Wristlets_2010_03_22_Rovaniemi1

Pattern: Lapland Hand Garments class project: Wristlets, by Susanna Hansson
Yarn: Vuorelma Satakieli, 100% wool
Needles: US size 00
Size: adult
Started 2/26 and finished 3/22/2010
Worked three repeats of pattern chart

They are very pretty and work well as warmers. I am wearing them right now while typing because it is chilly with a capital C in the apartment today. Susanna was a good teacher. She is engaging, speaks and demonstrates clearly, and knows her mitten lore. She gave a slideshow of various traditional garments, all with the wearers wearing mittens, in the afternoon. I recommend her as a teacher.

The technique is interesting. You use a separate strand for each zigzag of color and the strands are carried up very neatly on the inside. Always working the main color over the contrasting colors means the main color has floats. The contrasting colors then trap the main color’s floats on the following round so you get a tidy interior:

Wristlets_2010_03_22_Rovaniemi3_interior

About all those bundles of yarn in the first photo in this post: that’s the trick to keeping the yarn organized. Make little yarn butterflies for all 11 lengths of contrasting colors, thread them onto a straight knitting needle, and rotate either your project or the straight needle every round to keep everything from tangling. It worked like a charm for preventing tangling; however, my straight needle wasn’t long enough so I had trouble pulling more yarn when needed. It kept wanting to stick to its neighboring color. So I waited to make wristlet #2 until I purchased these cool bobbins that have a hole in the middle, allowing me to organize my colors on a straight needle without all the clinginess:

Wristlets_2010_03_22_Rovaniemi4_bobbins

Sorry, Susanna. I know the whole point was to use the traditional technique.

One drawback to having 11 bundles of yarn plus a main color is you end up with 24 tails to weave in per wristlet. Yep, “48” was in the running as a post title.

We did have a discussion in class as to whether a full day of class was enough. The general consensus was that a two-day class would be better. I would have wanted a split one-day class: a morning of learning the technique with an afternoon wrap-up the next day to address any questions or problems. I realize this isn’t going to happen at Stitches West, but it’s my opinion. I learned the technique quickly but found my execution to be slow, had less than half a fine-gauge wristlet by the end of the day.

When I went down to visit my parents last weekend, I had my stepdad get a photo of my wrists. Much better here:

Wristlets_2010_03_22_Rovaniemi2

And I have to include gratuitous photos of the elephant seals from that trip:

ElephantSeals_3974

My mom says this isn’t many, this is few. When there are many, you cannot see the sand. Something to think about, isn’t it? Here they are in all their glory. There are seals all the way up in the dunes. If you look at the big version of this photo, you can see the ones in the dunes flipping sand onto themselves.

ElephantSeals_3975

What’s that? You wanted to see more mittens? OK, I leave you with cell phone photos I snapped in class. Susanna had a table in back covered in absolutely exquisite mittens and mitts. The little ones are no larger than the top joint of my thumb:

Mitten

Mitts

Mitts

Mitten

Mittens

The gentleman who knits these wee mittens must have incredible eyesight.

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