Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Slow stashing

So Stitches West starts tomorrow, although I'm not signed up for any events, so I'll just be attending the market on Friday and (probably) Saturday and running into friends. I won't be working at the Yarndogs booth, either, so I'm back in the ranks of the proletariat. I will miss breezing into the market as I casually wave my vendor badge over my shoulder, "So sorry, must dash."

As is my wont, I went through my entire yarn stash this past week, so that I'd have a full-sense memory of how much and what kinds of yarn I already have. Any, for the first time in a long time, I made an "unhappy pile," as described in the slow stashing manifesto.

In the unhappy pile go all the yarns that immediately cause your spirits to sag. These yarns appealed to your sense of “should”—I should buy this, I should knit something out of this, and, even now, I should keep this. As soon as you find yourself muttering the word “should,” put that yarn in the unhappy pile. Also in the unhappy pile go yarns that, through no fault of their own, carry emotional baggage. Yarns were innocent bystanders to tough times in your life. Yarns that you've already tried to use a few times but always ended up frogging. Yarns that you feel you should use even though the spark just isn't there. Those yarns need to go.

Even now, some of the yarns still call to me. The cotton chenille: wouldn't that make a cool throw with multicolored mitred squares? And the heavy cotton coned yarn: I could knit a quick bulky pullover. But I still have thoughts like that about my knitting machine, and I can move on.

I'd be happiest if I could manage to sell these, although the fact that so many of them are unlabeled coned yarns might make this less likely. I'll give it a go, and we'll see what happens.

Weekend on the Central Coast

I spent the last weekend in Cambria, visiting my parents. Despite having heard many times from members of my knitting group about this wonderful trim store in Morro Bay, I had somehow never made it down there. But this time, I managed it. I didn't take any photos of the store, but this blog post gives a pretty good idea about it. It's a treasure chest of a shop; I understand my Vera and Nancy raved about it. And then, it turns out that Nancy is now the knitting teacher to Lina G, the owner of the store. A small world.

Anyway, of course I bought a whole mess of trims.


(click through if you want to drool up close.)

When Lina asked what I was going to do with it, I replied, "Go home and put it in a drawer with all of my other trim, of course." Although, to be fair, I do have an idea already about the wide vertical ribbon with the phoenixes on it. (Phoenices?)

On the way back up to Cambria, I stopped at another place I had heard about, Harmony Headlands State Park. Although the state has owned this land for years, the park only opened last November, evidently because of tireless work on the part of local activists.

There is one path that runs about two miles from the parking lot out to the sea. It goes along a gentle valley


skirts a short gully


and runs along a bluff over the Pacific.


There were quite a few people visiting the park. It's beautiful to be able to stand over the Pacific with no hint of cars nor any buildings in sight.

Thwap meet

The Ankh-Morpork Knitters Guild group on Ravelry (who brought you the Pratchgan) had a swap with the theme of Igor. Igor, on the Discworld, is a compendium of all of the monster movie assistant cliches, from hump to limp to lisp, but amended by Terry Pratchett to include surgical prowess in the service of self- and world-improvement. This translated into a swap focused on leftover stash, candy shaped like body parts, and typing everything using th instead of s, leading to sentences in forum posts like "having done quite a bit of Thubbthtituting, i would pothtulate that motht teacherth would gladly JOIN the Aththathinth Guild, if allowed to…um… practhithe, ath it were, on their chargeth."

I took part in a very informal swap back in knitlist days, and got nothing in return, so I was shy about the whole idea. But the Igor Thwap was so appealing that I took the plunge. And today I got a package.

In it was a card

Some lovely hand-dyed yarn and a scarf that is actually a spare brain.

(good thing I already have a spare brain receptacle!) The spare brain came with spare yarn, too, for emergency surgery.

Some chocolate hearts and a bar of lime-lavender soap!

Thank you, Ambala, for a very enjoyable thwap!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The sweater I wore

I finished my Languid raglan in time to wear it in Portland.

I do love the fabric; it's very drapy and soft. My gauge was off, however, so the yoke came out way huge. Since I've already had (unpleasant) experience ripping out this yarn, I decided to tighten up the neckline with elastic thread instead of reknitting it. I'm very happy with the fit of the sweater.

Since I needed a project to work on during the trip, I started a square neck, set-in sleeve pullover in Chinese wool yarn from the Yarn Place. I was a bit more obsessive about the gauge with this one, so it's more true.

I know it looks tiny, but 2x2 ribbing (my favorite stitch pattern) is very stretchy. I have walks at Año Nuevo on Sunday (and I hope it doesn't rain) which will give me lots of time to work on it.

The bright city of War Drobe in the far land of Spare Oom.

I spent last weekend in Portland, with my best friend. We get together for a weekend every year; this year's trip was devoted to fabric and yarn shopping, as well as the usual eating. We stayed at the Benson Hotel, which has a great location downtown, happily rode the MAX and Portland Streetcar, and loved Park Kitchen the best of our dining experiences.

But the big fiber news is that we went to Yarnia. I'd read about it in Craft, and it was just as wonderful as I had hoped. At Yarnia, you peruse shelves of fine coned yarn, holding the strands next to each other to see how they combine.

Once you make your selections, Lindsey Ross, the very sweet owner of the shop, loads them on to her fabulous custom yarn combiner

and winds you your own custom cone of yarn.

I chose strands of mohair, merino, cashmere and silk. Then my best friend, who doesn't knit, but appreciates handknitting, put together her own cone for me to make her some fingerless gloves.

Although Yarnia was my favorite stop, I have to mention the two fabric stores we went to. Josephine's Dry Goods carries utterly beautiful fashion fabrics, and Bolt, on a street that we didn't even realize was so trendy, has a very nice selection as well. We also looked at Knit-Purl, and I have never seen so many high-end yarns in one place. Very impressive. Unfortunately, the Button Emporium and Ribbonry was moving last weekend; all we could do was press our faces up against the glass. There is certainly ample reason to go back to Portland, maybe in the summer when it's not so cold.

And, yes, we did go to Powell's.