Yarny Adventures

During my staycation in Denver I had decided that I wanted to go to Fancy Tiger Craft, The Loopy Ewe and My Sister Knits.  Fancy Tiger is relatively close to where I was staying but the last two are up in Fort Collins which is about 1 – 1 1/2 hours away from Denver.  With that in mind, I did something I would not usually do, I reached out to two podcasters that I listen to on a regular basis to see if they would be interested in meeting up and they said yes!!

I think it’s a strange relationship – as a listener of podcasts I feel that I know the hosts as I listen to what is going on in their knitting lives each week or every couple of weeks but that doesn’t work in reverse. For all they knew I could’ve been some crazy stalker from Ohio.  So when I contacted Emily and Becky I led with a disclaimer that I was not crazy and if they were not interested that was cool.  It must have worked because in the end, we decided to meet up on Friday afternoon.

On Friday morning, I hit up Fancy Tiger on my way out of town.  I’ve heard so much about this shop and was really excited.  I got a parking place right in front which I think was quite lucky!  They only have on street parking so I’m sure it can be tough some days.  I loved the front window display and the decor of the store when I walked in.  The girls working were friendly but not overbearing, i.e. they acknowledged I came in the store and then allowed me to browse at leisure.  But, here’s where I have to admit it wasn’t my favorite store (and, disclaimer I don’t sew so did not check out the fabric area which I hear is definitely a draw).  First, there’s not a lot of yarn and the yarn that is there tended to be of a more crunchy, granola type which isn’t my scene.  They definitely had brands I had not seen, and overall the vibe was great in the store. I ended up buying a skein of MJ Yarns Simple Sock in the Green Dragon colorway. I was talking to my friend G when I got back and we talked about how sometimes we build up some of these stores in our heads and then they can never live up to those expectations.  That might be the case here.  I’m definitely glad I went but I might find other places to check out on future trips to Denver.

After that I hit the road and headed to Fort Collins.  I had decided to just get a hotel up there so I didn’t have to worry about driving back to Denver at the end of the night and that was a good idea on my part.  I was meeting everyone at The Loopy Ewe.  Emily hosts the Knitting Butterflies podcast and I had chatted with her last year about the Estes Park Wool Market.  Becky hosts the Knit Actually podcast and I found her through a post Emily shared on Instagram.  As soon as I listened to an episode I was hooked and knew she was my type of people.  Becky brought her friend Jen as well, which is good because I feel weird if I’m on the only Jen somewhere 🙂

I loved The Loopy Ewe so much!!!  It was so amazing and they had so many yarns I’ve seen on Instagram and heard podcasters talk about.  My plan was to buy yarn to knit the 3 Color Cashmere Shawl by Joji Locatelli.  Becky suggested that I use Knerd String for it and they had so many colors to chose from that I found just the right 3 colors and the skeins were large enough that I just needed one of each color which was nice.  It was a good choice as well because it is a Colorado dyer, which makes it special vacation yarn.  I’m hoping to get the shawl done in time for Rhinebeck but we’ll see…  I also bought a sock blocker and one of the Ann Budd gauge measures which is super awesome!  And, a skein of sock yarn from Fresh From the Cauldron.

We dragged ourselves away so that we could hit My Sister Knits (MSK) before it closed.  I was on such a high from The Loopy Ewe that I was worried I would not enjoy the next store as much – Wrong!!!!  I’m not sure which I loved more because they offered very different experiences but both were so great.  First, MSK is in an entirely residential neighborhood, in fact, it’s in a carriage house behind a regular house.  There’s a little yarn bombing on a tree out front and then a sign at the gate at the driveway leading you through a beautiful garden complete with chickens to the carriage house where the store is located.  We walked in and were greeted very warmly.

Here’s a funny story.  One of the women working asked if we had been in before.  I said no, I was from Cleveland to which she asked where in Cleveland.  This indicated to me that she knew my fair city as there are two answers to that question – west side or east side.  I told her where and it turned out she grew up in my town, in fact, about 5 minutes away from my house.  I love small world stories 🙂

Back to the yarn – they have so much yarn in this tiny two story carriage house.  I ended with a skein of self striping sock yarn from ScrumptiousPurl and a contrasting skein of Koigu sock yarn for the cuffs, heels and toes.  The very nice ladies took our picture outside in front of the sign and recommended places for dinner, they even offered us bottled water.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with all the yarn we bought 🙂

By this time we were hungry and thirsty!  We ended up at a place called Rio which was Mexican and made super delicious margaritas (told you the hotel was a good idea 😉 ) and we knit and drank and talked and laughed.  I marveled at how knitting was the one thing we all had in common and yet, if anyone walked by they would have thought we were life long friends.  I’m so excited that I now have both family and friends in Colorado to go visit.  And, I’m so excited that both Becky and Emily will be at Rhinebeck so I will get to see them again soon!!

If you want to hear more about our adventures listen to Episode 53 of Knitting Butterflies or Episode 39 of Knit Actually.  This is a super long post so I’m going to head back to my Ravellenics project now and will have more of my yarny adventures next week!

What’s on My Needles This Weekend

On the good news front – I finally finished the socks (more on those in this month’s FO post) I had been working on since July which opened up my sock needles/bag.  Oddly, I’m really starting to use up my sock yarn (not really, but sock yarn that I want to be socks is getting low) and I was trying to decide what socks to cast on next.  I went into my yarn room and this sock yarn that I bought on clearance at my LYS last year jumped out at me.

Now, I have many sock issues which I will detail in a future post.  For my next pair I decided to do a little reading of my Sock Architecture book and hope it would help correct those issues. The yarn I chose is Indulgence 6-Ply by Knitting Fever which has been (very sadly) discontinued.  A few of us bought skeins when they migrated over to the clearance area and two of my friends made baby sweaters (the Sprinkle from Juju’s Loops which is adorable!) It’s a heavier, DK, yarn as compared to usual fingering weight sock yarn.  That made it the perfect choice because I wanted to try using 9 inch circulars.  And, the 9 inch circs that I have are size 2.  I usually knit my socks on 1’s and with the DK weight would have needed to use a larger size anyway.

I settled on the Arithmophobia socks from Sock Architecture which uses a short row heel with no stitches to pick up (I hate picking up stitches).  I’ve heard mixed reviews on the 9 inch circs so I was anxious to dive in.  Casting on is a bit of a pain because there is not much to hold on to and the first couple of rows are a little difficult but after that the sock practically knits itself!!!  A couple of people at knit night said they do not like them because they lack the dexterity to manipulate the tiny needles and you do need to be able to work the tiny needles.  I love circular needles but hate magic loop because I can’t deal with all that cable so this is really the perfect solution for me.  I’ve never knit socks as fast as these are knitting up.  Of course, it probably helps the yarn is a bit thicker too but I don’t care because I love these socks so much and I can’t wait to wear them!

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What’s on my podcast playlist this weekend, you ask???  Well, I saw on Instagram that Vickie Howell had started a new podcast and she released three episodes last week.  They are all interviews and they include Rachael Herron (whose book I had just read a few weeks ago), Clara Parks (who has been on numerous podcasts but this interview is completely different) and the CEO of Spoonflower which was also very interesting.  She’s going to be releasing new episodes every Tuesday for six weeks so check that one out!

Another new one that I’ve been enjoying is Cultivate and Create.  It’s hosted by Sarah, or Mrs. Shoo and I love her format.  The episodes are usually about 20-30 minutes and she talks about something she wants, something she needs, something to wear and something to read so it’s a lot of fun in a short time.  She’s on Episode 10 so it’s easy to catch up with her, especially if you want to some good book recommendations to go with your knitting.

I always feel badly that I don’t use iTunes because apparently Apple really wants pressures prodcasters to get reviews to increase their visibility.  I have all Android and Windows products here so I figure I can at least give them a shout out here!  Check them out and if you use iTunes leave them a review from me!

What I’m Listening to This Month

Earlier this week I was watching the most recent episode of the Knitting Butterflies podcast and Emily was going to do a review of a new book and I thought she made a great point – she is no longer reviewing, she is recommending.  It was especially timely for me as I plan my blog posts for the month and part of this year’s plan is to do reviews once a month.  My schedule tells me this week’s post is a review of two new to me (and, both newish in general) podcasts.  So, I’m calling this What I’m Listening to This Month and can continue to switch that up depending on what I might be reading, knitting with, or listening to each month.

Before I dive into my latest podcast finds, a few things about podcasts.  I’m primarily an audio podcast listener.  Most of the time I listen while I’m at work where I have no wifi so I download a bunch of episodes for the day before I leave home.  Videos are much harder to manage and are much more distracting!!  I have Android devices so I don’t use iTunes (sorry to all you podcasters – I can’t leave iTunes reviews for you :().  I use the app Podcast Addict.  I can usually find anything on there that is on iTunes.  The app is easy to use and I’ve never had any problems with it.  It seems more and more podcasts are going to video so I’m always excited to find new audio ones for my listening pleasure!

The first podcast I’m listening to is Kino Knits.  Mary lives in Kenya (Kenya!!!) and her podcast, blog and designs can be found at KinoKnits.  I think I first heard about her on the Prairie Girls podcast as they were giving away one of Mary’s patterns.  I finally remembered to look up her podcast and the first episode I listened to was Episode 7.  I’m totally hooked and went back and listened to the first episode, with plans to listen to Episodes 2-6. I love to travel (another part of this blog) and so being able to listen to someone in Africa talk about knitting over the there and the adventures her family is able to take is just the best of both worlds for me.  The sound quality on her podcast is excellent.  And, to my surprise, Mary did a shout out to me in Episode 8.  I have not had a chance to listen to it (tomorrow during my car ride for sure!) but I went to the show notes to write this post and I saw my name there!!  Thanks Mary!!  There are 8 episodes so not a lot to catch up on which makes it’s a great time to tune in!

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The second podcast I wanted to talk about today is the Knit Actually podcast.  I found this one through Emily from the Knitting Butterflies podcast.  Becky is the host and she is great to listen to.  She talks about knitting and she also does some of her own dying which is interesting.  Full disclosure – I have a lot of family in Colorado (which is where Becky and Emily are) and I think I was sucked in by the Scoreboard scarf Becky knit for her son documenting the Broncos Superbowl winning season.  It is amazing!!!!  She has 27 episodes out so, again, not too much to catch up on and a great time to subscribe.

If you are looking for new audio podcasts I would definitely suggest you check out these two (and, also Knitting Butterflies and the Prairie Girls, of course 🙂 ) I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do!

One last note – the article I mentioned a couple of weeks ago came out.  CountryLiving.com compiled a list of 13 cool ways to yarn bomb your home and one of my prior posts was included!  You can check it out here – 13 Ideas to Yarn Bomb Your Home!

Potpouri Post

This post will have a little of this and a little of that.  First, I have to thank the desert knitter who nominated me for the Liebster Award in one of her recent posts.  I did not what this was all about and so I did a little digging on the good old internet.  The best description I read was that it is the blog equivalent of a chain letter.  Bummer – I was looking for a place to hang my new award!  But, when I continued to read it was started to promote smaller bloggers and share some blog love so cool beans!  I’ll take any award I can get.  Now, on with my reigning duties 🙂

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The rules:

  1. Make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you.
    Include the Liebster Award sticker in the post too.
  2. Nominate 5 -10 other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts. You can also nominate the person who nominated you.
  3. Ensure all of these bloggers have less than 200 followers.
  4. Answer the eleven questions asked to you by the person who nominated you, and make eleven questions of your own for your nominees or you may use the same questions.
  5. Lastly, COPY these rules in your post.

My nominations (with my own caveat):

I hate to pressure anyone into doing this so I will share here some of my favorite blogs that have less than 200 followers.  If they would like to participate that would be awesome, if not I totally understand.  So, in no particular order:

  1. Windy Wonderings
  2. This Knitted Life
  3. writeknit
  4. Crafting Mommy of Two
  5. little church knits

And, now the questions:

1. What got you into blogging?

Well, actually I started out with a private blog to keep in touch with family and friends while I spent 3 weeks in Australia. They all loved it and as time went by it evolved into a travel and knitting blog.

2. What does your perfect day look like?

My perfect day would start with a little sleeping in, getting up and having a cup of my favorite French tea and perhaps catching up with my DVR and knitting.  And, then heading out somewhere with my friends and just enjoy whatever we end up doing.

3. What’s your favorite item to knit? Shawls, sweaters, socks or something else entirely?

I love knitting hats and anything for other people!  I do also enjoy a nice sock 🙂

4. Are you result-driven knitter or is it more about the journey?
Ah, an age old knitting question.  I believe my knitting is more about the journey.  I love trying new stitches and techniques and am up for trying to knit whatever seems interesting.  When the knitting gets boring, it goes to time out!

5. What’s your favorite TV-show, movie or book?
Book – easy Eat, Pray, Love and movie – easy When Harry Met Sally.  TV show – that depends on the day and the week but Amazing Race is always a can’t miss for me.

6. What’s your favorite yarn / fibre?
I love me some alpaca – it’s just so soft and fuzzy and alpacas are so stinking cute!

7. Do you have a favorite go-to pattern? If so which is it?
No, not really.  I’m not a huge fan of knitting the same thing multiple times (see answer to #4 above).  I have a friend who made 3 or 4 Oakland shawls and could not believe it.  But, I do sell knit baby hats and through that have made several hats of the same pattern because I get multiple requests.

8. What’s your favorite podcast or vlog?
Shoot – this one is hard!!  On the knitting front – I’ve already confessed my love the Prairie Girls and Isabelle at Fluffy Fibers and I do enjoy Emily at Knitting Butterfiles.  On non-knitting, my two favorite are White Wine, True Crime (not family friendly, at all but very funny) and Star Talk with Neil de Grasse Tyson where I always learn something.

9. What’s your favorite Etsy shop?

Two hard ones in a row!  I try to buy my yarn in person because I like to see and touch it before I buy but I have ordered and loved yarn from these shops: Fab Funky Fibers, Destination Yarn, Lollipop Yarn and Artistic Yarn by Abi.

10. Do you have any children or pets? Names, age, pics and all the details.

As I tell everyone – I have nothing that relies on me for food or water 🙂

11. What’s your favorite food?

Well, chocolate in pretty much any form!

I’ll go ahead and pass these along to my nominees should anyone want to play 🙂

Now, I think it’s Boston Jen from the Down Cellar Studio Podcast who has a segment on her podcast called Knitting in the Wild and I think accurately describes my Facebook interaction this week.  A friend had posted a pic of a little girl, age 7 who she was watching.  Said awesome 7 year old loved to knit and the picture showed her knitting.  Of course, this required more than a simple like.  Turns out this person has other knitting friends.  Her other knitting friend commented on the picture and stated that she knit so she doesn’t kill anyone.  Don’t we all, don’t we all!!  She went on to post a picture of her current WIP and I immediately had to comment as the yarn looked very familiar.  Turns out I was right – it was Nothing Says Screw You Like a Rainbow by White Birch Fiber Arts.  This stranger and I went out for about 15 minutes and finally our mutual friend piped in and said ” I love that yarn can bring strangers together. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy!”  What a great way to end a post!

I Heart Knitters!

This month’s finished object is a quick and easy project that literally only takes a couple of hours to knit up!  I feel like I’m cheating but I did knit it this month and it is finished (let’s ignore all the other projects hanging about needles all over the house right now…)  I was invited to a surprise 60th birthday party for one of my knitting friends, we’ll call her AH.  The theme was 60 Shades of Gray (ha ha!).  AH had very kindly made made us paper woven hearts for Christmas and they reminded me of the Dansk Hjerte pattern that was published in the Interweave Knits, Holiday Gifts 2012 issue.  I had made one for a co-worker for Christmas in 2013.  We talked about the knitting version and I never got around to digging out my copy of the magazine.  So, her birthday was a great excuse to make her one!  I bought two shades of gray Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift and set off to work.  I was super excited!

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I still had yarn left so I made another heart for the Fluffy Fibers tea swap.  If you’ve never listened to the Fluffy Fibers podcast highly recommend it!  Of course, I’m a huge lover of France so I love listening to Isabelle talk about the beautiful south of France.  A few months ago one of her listeners suggested a tea swap as Isabelle almost always talks about what tea she is drinking.  It was super fun and it was the first time I’ve participated in a swap on Ravelry.  We were to include a few bags of tea, a note explaining our tea choices and a small crafted or tea related item.  My original plan was to knit up a small drawstring bag but that was going super slow and I was time crunched and that’s when it hit me – another heart!  I sent the heart, loose tea from the Tea Lab which is a cool, local tea shop, a couple of sugar stirs and some tea bags to use with the loose tea off to England.  So, there’s Cleveland tea over in jolly old England!

I received a package from a different person in England.  It included several bags of tea including English Breakfast and English Afternoon tea – gotta love they distinguish between morning and afternoon tea!  A small, I believe tea bag placing plate and then you can see in the picture the pink (which matches my kitchen excactly!) tea cloth I received.  I did not exactly know what it was but I’ve noticed in pictures from British knitters on Instagram that it appears they use these as pads for their tea set up.  Excellent idea!

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I don’t know how other swaps on Ravelry work but it was a great first experience.  I especially loved the global element involved with this one.   Another perk of the swap – I got a random message from one of the participants, she had noticed I specified a particular type of French tea I enjoy but have a hard time finding in the States and she sent me a link to a tea shop in Dallas that carries a nice variety!  I love knitters!

So, my friend loved her two shades of gray heart and was super surprised at her party!  And, my other heart made it’s way across the pond!  They were quick knits but well appreciated by fellow knitters and it really is a great gift idea and can be made in any other color combination with any stash you have around the house!

Snow Day

I’m definitely not complaining, we really have not had a snow day yet this year so when they told us we were expecting around 8 inches today I knew I would batten down the hatches and stay in today.  I’ve been looking for a day like this to reorganize my yarn room which was becoming quite unruly as of late.  For once the forecasters had it right and it started snowing before I was up so I got to it.  Here is a before picture:

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Note the bag on the floor is completely full of yarn as well as all the shelves!

I pulled everything out and started over.  When I moved in and got this shelving unit I tried to put the yarns together by type and then maybe by color so basically, no particular order.  I just thought there was order.  Once everything was out I began entering my stash on Ravelry.  I had not used this feature on Raverly in the past but thought this was a great opportunity to try it out.  I started with everything that still had labels which were mostly whole balls/skeins.  I then went to stash yarn that I knew exactly the brand/type and I used my scale to weigh it to determine how much I had left.  I have so much fun sock yarn left over and I’m thinking it would make cute baby hats so we’ll see where I go with that.  It turned out this was a very time consuming process and I did not even photo the yarn.  I just wanted somewhere that I could take a quick look and see what I have in the house already.  About halfway through my floor looked like this:

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Of course, there was a whole pile of unidentified yarn, some of which I could not even remember what I might have knit with it.  I then decided to try to return it back to the shelves by color, for real time.  I made sure my books/magazines/patterns were up to date in Ravelry too.  That has to be my favorite feature of Ravelry – the ability to put all that info and search electronically instead of trying to remember where I saw that one pattern for whatever.  I did take a lunch break and a dinner break.  I do not have a tv in my yarn room but I was able to watch some hockey on my laptop and I was able to catch up with the Down Cellar and Fluffy Fibers podcasts and that kept me entertained throughout the day.  Finally around 7:30 I was finished!!

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It was super hard to get a good picture when I got done because it was dark out and the only light int he room is right next to the shelves.  But even with the bad photography I think it looks 100% better.  I did manage to weed out a few yarns, a few unfinished or halfway finished projects and some other random junk.  I got done just in time to sit down and watch the halftime show of the Superbowl which was the only part of the game I was interested in (don’t get me started on the NFL…)  Looks like I will probably end up working from home tomorrow as it is still snowing at quite a clip here which is good because I’m going to need a day to recover after all that work today!

Rearranging

I’ve been seeing, hearing and reading more and more about the minimalist movement.  I like it (see any of my rummage sale posts and you’ll know I’m not a hoarder).  This weekend I got two new t-shirts as a result of attending Arena Bowl XXVII.  It prompted to institute a strict one in, one out policy so this morning I went to pick out two old ones to get rid of.  I think I did better than that and got rid of 3 or 4.  From there I went into my yarn room closet where I throw everything I will donate one day.  I bagged up everything in there and even threw in a few sweaters that mock me every time I open the armoire because I never wear them.

From there I turned to my yarn wall.  It’s quite a disaster.  I may have had some type of system when I moved in but that is long gone.  It needs some help and as I stood and stared blankly at it, I realized I need a plan before I tackle this job.  I’m just not sure if I want to go color, fiber type, some other system.  I need to think it through and check around for ideas.  When I get to this, I would also like to add my stash to my Ravelry page.  It took me quite awhile to add all my magazines and books but I’ve been so happy that I did that.  It makes it so much easier to search through what I already own (and, sadly, it gives you an exact count of the number of patterns you own – a very scary number, indeed!)  I also like tracking my needles on Ravelry.  That being said, I still have duplicates and triplicates of needles for no good reason.  Best guess – the needles were on a UFO when I did the inventory.  I’ve not used Ravelry for tracking my stash at all but I’m starting to think it’s a good idea.  I just forget about all the wonderful yarn I have.  I’m thinking this might be a good winter’s day project…

As a side note, while I was doing all this purging in the yarn room I was listening to podcasts which I just love.  This week I discovered the lovely Isabelle from Fluffy Fibers.  She is based in the south of France so I could listen all day.  You can find her blog here.  Her podcast is in English but it got me thinking that maybe I will find a blog and/or podcast in French as I’m always attempting to approve my language skills and I think immersion is the way to go.

Tonight I’ve been focusing on making a few changes to my blog appearance.  The main addition is my Bloglovin follow button.  I’ve seen references to Bloglovin on other sites and on Twitter but I was not really sure what it was or what it did.  When I found the Fluffy Fiber podcast today I looked up her blog and it was on Blogspot.  I’ve found a few other blogs on Blogspot that I would like to keep up with but am not interested in creating an account.  Imagine my delight when I found out that Bloglovin lets you follow blogs from any site and keeps them in a nice, easy feed.  The site made if very easy for me to “claim” my blog and gave excellent directions on adding the follow widget to my blog.  So, I’ve added that, changed a few other appearance items and hopefully corrected the double posting to my Twitter account.  I’d say that’s really productive Sunday!!  Now, I have 6 1/2 rows plus the cast off and I might have a finished project to cap off my Sunday night – how exciting!

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, ideas on organizing stash please leave a comment and let me know!