Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blockhead


This is the Beckett Beret. I found this on Ravelry and decided to make it because it was a lovely and easy knit. I knit it up, using Cascade 220 Super Wash, and tried it on and I looked silly because the hat wasn't laying flat but was pointed up. I looked like a garden gnome. Granted a tall chubby one but a garden gnome none the less. So....I decided I was going to do my first blocking of a hat. I had nothing to lose. I didn't have any soap specifically for blocking so I just put it in a sink full of water, took it out, rolled it between a towel and then put a dinner plate inside it. Needless to say, since I live with three people of the opposite sex, I got asked three times "What's in the hat?" Men. It took about a day to dry and I was delighted with the results! The hat was thinner and much more flexible. When I tried it on, it just laid down like a good beret should. I love it when things work out the way they're supposed to.
Al and I went to The Point on Monday, figuring that by Tuesday they'd be sold out of a lot of stuff. When we got there, there was a line out the door fifteen minutes after opening! A 30% off sale doesn't come along too often and everyone wanted to get in on it. I took one tour of the store and picked up some Misti Alpaca, Noro sock yarn, Pastaza (no surprise there), Alpaca Lace, two sets of Addi Circulars and I think that's about it. Not too bad really. Some women were spending major cash though. Al heard someone's total come to over $500. It was a win/win situation really. Everyone got lovely stuff on sale and Alyssa managed to get her stock way down. Yesterday we decided to go have a final sit and knit. Got there about 11 and the store was almost empty. Some baskets of yarn, some books and patterns and some needles were still left. We sat and had tea, a few regulars came in and we got to say goodbye and exchange Rav names and emails. It was very quiet compared to the madhouse on Monday. Was a lovely day to knit and say goodbye to some knitting friends.
Al and I figure we'll knit in Madison Square Park for the summer. Lord knows we don't need anymore yarn so we don't need to find a shop hang out anytime soon.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pointless

Al and I have visited quite a few of the yarn shops here in Manhattan. One of the first we went to was The Point. I've written about it often enough for everyone to realize that this is our home base to sit and knit. We go here every Tuesday for a day of knitting, laughing, tea and chatting. We've been lucky enough to make some friends there too. Great people who share our love of knitting. Also very talented people who have made me strive to be better.
This week I received an email stating that The Point will be closing. I thought maybe they meant for vacation but no, they'll be closing their doors tomorrow. Al and I have been there at least once a week for months and I'm feeling a little lost and sad about this. Whenever we went there we were greeted with a smile and a "So, whatcha knitting now?" from Alyssa, the manager, who was really interested in what we were doing. If I brought her a pattern and told her I wanted to make it, she'd show me the proper yarn to knit the project with. All the ladies there were always polite and helpful, a smile on their faces and a story to share.
All in all, the store is just walls but it's the people that made it what it was for me. A home away from home. I'm going to miss you girls and hope to see you all again soon.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ysolda!


Al and I went to The Point where Ysolda was holding a q&a for all of us who read her blog and love her work. I was really excited to meet her because when I started knitting, Bean found her Gretel pattern and asked me if I could make it. At the time, I was knitting for about ten minutes so the answer was no but I did buy the pattern to make in the future. It's an adorable cable cap which I will be making sometime this summer. Probably two, one for Bean and one for me. Since then I've been following her blog. She's very talented and writes well.
First, and this may be so shallow, I have to say she's adorable. She's got a beautiful face and she wears very retro clothes which suit her perfectly. She seemed a little nervous at first but she warmed up to us eventually. We were asking questions about how she became a designer, some of her favorite things, you know...the usual. She told us that the knit shops in Scotland are very tiny, they're not set up for people to sit and knit. You go in, shop and get to steppin.
It's amazing how much the internet has allowed people to flourish in this industry. When she had her first submission accepted, I think it was to Knitty but I may be wrong, they asked her if she had a website, which she didn't so she set one up. From there she was off and running.
She was smart and funny and very, very sweet. She's the first knitwear designer I've ever met and she was just lovely. She had copies of her book, which of course I bought and then she signed. You can get one here if you'd like. It's got ten lovely patterns. Her other patterns can also be purchased on her website where she's got some free patterns.
I have to say Ysolda definitely lived up to, and exceeded, my expectations and a good time was had by all. And the wine we were drinking didn't hurt either.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Can You Guess What This Is?


Aside from a NYC window that needs cleaning, do you know what this is? Yes, yes it is. It's a SOCK! Or the beginning of one anyway. It's Cascade Heritage Yarn in Denim, which is really lovely, and I'm making a pair of socks that I found on the Cascade site specifically written with this yarn in mind. It's a basic, simple sock which I think is a good start for me. I see all the more intricate ones and I wanna just make them but I'm afraid they may frustrate me so I'm going to start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. Ok, Julie Andrews, outta my head please.
As you can see, I'm doing them on dpns, size two no less. It has been suggested to me, A LOT, that I use either magic loop or two circulars to do socks because it's so much easier. I wanted to do it this way though because it just feels right to me for some reason. I may move onto another method, but for my first socks I want it to feel genuine, for me. It's also been suggested that I use a thicker yarn with bigger needles but I decided to march to the beat of my own drummer on this project. I dunno why. I may be smacking myself in the head after this but I just feels right this way. I know...crazy but we'll see what happens.
I also realized that I just needed a little motivation to get me to cast on socks. I spoke to my sister yesterday and told her I wanted to make socks. She said when I started could I please make my brother in law a pair because when he was younger his mother used to knit him socks and he loved hand made socks.
You have to know, my BIL is eighty three years old. My sister is quite a bit older than I am and he's quite a bit older than she is, and he's basically bed ridden. He was one of those guys that always looked and acted twenty years younger than his actual age. Then, about seven years ago, he started having mini-strokes and aged quickly. For the last couple of years, walking has been difficult so he stays in bed most of the time. He's always been so good to us and loves my boys beyond words. The least I could do is make him a nice pair of socks. Now if that's not motivation, I dunno what the heck is!
Tonight is the Q&A at The Point with Ysolda. Al and I are gonna go early this afternoon, get our knit on, go out to dinner then back to The Point. It's gonna be so much fun! I'll let you know how it goes. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Hat. Finally!

Been a busy week thus far. Had two, not one but two, parent/teacher conferences this week. Nice reports, no tears. This time. The boys are good students and work hard to achieve good grades. Been trying to help my darling husband with a virus he got on his pc which infected his forum. Very disheartening. I did get some knitting done:
Isn't it cute so far? It's Cascade 220 Superwash, nice and easy, and it can be found it here. I found it on Ravelry and I really like it so far!
I have a little problem. I really want to start a pair of socks but just cannot seem to bring myself to do it. I have the yarn, I have the books, I have the needles and I even have the guidance of many other knitters but I just can't bite the bullet! I dunno what it is! I think I'm just gonna have to do some more reading and getter done already. It's annoying the hell out of me that I can't do it. I seem to come up with excuse after excuse, in my own head anyway, and it's getting old.
Oh also I'll be going to The Point to see Ysolda this weekend! I was the one who told Alyssa, the manager, that Ysolda was coming to town so Al and I got two seats for her Q&A this weekend. I know a lottery was held for the other seats so I'm looking forward to meeting Ysolda and a bunch of other knitters this Saturday night. Hopefully before then, I'll have something new to post a photo of. Like socks. Stop rolling your eyes!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Weekend In The Mountains

We went up to our country house in The Catskills this weekend. Those of you who don't know what the Catskills are, think Dirty Dancing forty years later. We have a lil house in the woods up there which is a really nice getaway for us all so we usually go up every weekend from spring till fall.
When I started knitting last year, I found a knit shop not far from our house but I was still too new at knitting to realize what a gem this place really is. Al came up this weekend so she and I checked it out. It's called Knit One, Needlepoint too. Obviously it's got knitting supplies and needlepoint supplies. All the yarn and knitting supplies are in the back of the store. I was surprised about how extensive the stock was! Susan, the owner, greeted us and showed us a bunch of stuff she had there. They have a stitch and chat once a week, classes and they're willing to help you with anything you need help with. Susan was very nice, friendly and helpful. She used to write patterns for a yarn shop, Bell's, here in NYC where my mother used to shop fifty years ago. Small world, huh? She carries all kinds of yarns from Merisoft to Noro to Artyarn. It's nicely arranged and everything is within reach. She's got a beautiful selection of sock yarns in different weights and gorgeous colors. I would up buying Lang Yarns JaWoll Silk superwash which is a wool/nylon/silk blend sock yarn. I also got a heavier weight ArtYarns Ultramarino:
Isn't that lovely? It can make either a pair of pedi socks or a short pair. I'll opt for the short pair and I think I may just cast them on today! We had a great time, made some lovely purchases and I'm sure I'll be spending some time there this summer.
This week we have not one but two parent teacher conferences. They boys do very well in school so it should be painless. Oh other than the teacher who called Patch a smartass. How well he knows him in such a short time!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Very Excited!

A few weeks ago I was reading Ysolda's blog which is one of my favorites. She designs some lovely things especially hats. ESPECIALLY especially the Gretel which I promised to make for Bean but haven't yet begun. Don't worry Bean, you'll get it before it gets cold again.
As I was saying, I was reading Ysolda's blog and she said she was going to be coming to the US! I was excited because she was going to be here on the East Coast. I told Alyssa, the manager of The Point, about Ysolda's trip and asked her if she'd want to have Ysolda come to the store for a lesson or a book signing or anything! Of course she did and they got in touch and, voila, Ysolda will be at The Point! Alyssa said that she's going to do a lottery for seats but, because I was the one who informed her about Ysolda's visit, Al and I already have a couple of seats! I'm so excited! She's from Scotland which is where my dad was born and she's beautiful and creates lovely things. I can't wait to meet her! I'm hoping she'll have some of her books to sign and sell. Yay!
On another absolutely non-knitting note, have you heard of Susan Boyle? Well she's a very unassuming looking, middle aged woman who sang on Britain's Got Talent. Well she walked out on stage and was a bit cheeky and the judges, and audience, were rolling their eyes thinking she was gonna be a stinker. Lo and behold, this woman can SING! She sang a song from Les Miserables and blew their socks off! If you'd like to hear this angelic voice you can do so here. This just proves you should never, EVER judge a book by it's cover.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Queen Of All Knitting

One of the first times Al and I went to The Point we met a lovely young lady there. Of course, outspoken New Yorkers that we are, we began chatting over our knitting. I expressed frustration over what I was making at the time and this lady said to me, something along the lines of there's no crying in knitting and I have to learn to knit without tears, quoting Elizabeth Zimmermann's book. That was the first time I had heard of Zimmermann but not the last. I keep hearing about her, that she's the goddess of modern knitting and I really need to read some of her stuff.
I'm now the proud owner of these:



I'm sure I'll learn some stuff about knitting that I never knew before. I'm looking forward to reading these but I must admit I'm a bit intimidated. I hope I'm not going to feel like an idiot and I'll know what she's talking about.
Weekend in the country started out disastrous, no propane so pipes froze and one toilet tank shattered and we had a fair share of mouse droppings in the kitchen. Needless to say most of the weekend was spent cleaning and the rest was spent with family which was great fun. I'm looking forward to next weekend when Al and her husband will be joining us!
Ok I'm off to crack the books. Hope you all had a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Weekend In The Country

This weekend we'll be going to our house upstate. Don't think it'll be a weekend of knitting by the fire or anything. This will be the clean up the mouse poop, clean out the refrigerators, start the garden weekend. Thankfully all the snow has melted up at our little mountain haven and we'll be able to get into our driveway now. We'll be going up tonight and staying until Sunday evening since both the boys are off from school on Monday. Family will be over for Easter dinner so it should be fun.
Did I mention that there just happens to be a yarn shop not far from our home there? I didn't? Well shame on me! It's called Knit One, Needlepoint Too and is about twenty minutes from the house. I had gone there once but that was at the beginning of my knitting when I couldn't tell the difference between alpaca and acrylic. I won't be going this weekend because Al will be coming for a visit next weekend so I'll save it for when she comes down.
I'm going to bring some knitting and a couple of books. I have a sock book, which I mentioned here once before, and Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears. I'm hoping that, between chores, I'll sneak in some reading and knitting.
I'd like to wish you all a Happy Passover or Happy Easter. Or both! Enjoy your weekend and I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Funniest. Video. Ever.

This has absolutely nothing to do with knitting but I just had to post it. I've watched it several times and just cannot stop laughing. This little boy is so cute and has no inhibitions whatsoever. Ahh to be young again. Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Good News & Bad News

Actually I have a couple of things that are good news. My last post was my 100th post on this blog! I saw it after I posted and was quite surprised by that. Ok what do I get? Free yarn? A knitting book? Oh I just get to post another hundred or more if I so choose. Ok life goes on.
Good news - I finished the biking mitts I was making for Bean!
Here they are on Patrick's hands. Patrick is 11 years old, five feet tall and weighs ninety pounds. They barely fit him. See the stretching at the thumb? Now the bad news - no way will they fit anyone other than Patrick. I'll have to find another pattern or just make these with more stitches on a bigger needle. I really enjoyed making these I have to say. As you can see it was easy ribbing and stockinette stitch. I may just redo these with a couple of modifications and be done with it.
I don't know if you remember but a while ago I made a pair of mitts for a lovely lady I met on a social website. She wanted to pay me but I refused payment. I'm now making her twin girls each a set of the hand warmers because they liked them so much. She wants to pay me but I really don't want to take money from her. I know she makes jewelry so I asked her to make me a set of stitch markers if she could, if not it's not a big deal. Well....lookit these!
How cute are those??? They're in the mail right now and should be here any day. You can find her stuff here if you're interested. I don't know if she has stitch markers yet but I know she's making some and I know she has some lovely jewelry listed there.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Yarn Shop Crawl

I live in the Gramercy Park section of Manhattan where there are no yarn shops. Whenever I want to go to a yarn store I have to either go uptown or downtown. It seems that the Upper East Side of Manhattan has the most yarn shops within walking distance of each other so Al and I decided to go check out what they had.
First we stopped at Annie & Company, known as Annie's, which is on Madison between 93rd and 94th Streets. They had a cute Easter display in the window with all spring colors and plastic Easter eggs. The store is lovely. It's huge and has a vast variety of different yarns. They have a huge table in the back of the store but I don't know if they welcome customers to sit and knit or if it's solely used for classes. They also have a great selection of needles, bags and accessories. The people who worked there were nice and polite, asking if we needed help and when told we didn't, left us to browse. We didn't see anything we wanted so we left empty handed.
The next place we went to was String, on East 82nd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. This shop is located in a lovely old brownstone. All the yarns there are higher end, more expensive yarns so the variety is limited although it had a lovely selection of cashmere and silk. The woman working there was nice and polite asking if we needed anything. Al spoke to her a while about a sweater they had hanging and she obviously knew what she was talking about. They had a table in the back and a couple of women were sitting there knitting. Again we left with no yarn.
The third, and final, store we went to was called The Woolgathering which is located on 84th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. The outside of the store was really lovely, an old fashioned store front with big windows set in, what appeared to be, cast iron. This store was the smallest of the bunch but it was also my favorite. It was somewhat narrow with no room to sit and knit. The yarns were lovely and varied. They ranged from cashmeres to to acrylics. The woman who works there, Diane, explained that a lot of young mothers come in there and want yarn that can be easily washed. Diane was really nice and friendly. We wound up staying almost an hour just chatting and looking over everything she had there. I purchased two balls of what else? Cascade but not Pastaza this time! I got Cash Vero, 55% Merino extra fine wool, 33% Microfiber and 12% Cashmere, in two shades of a seafoam green. Al bought some yarn there also.
I wondered, after we left, what made us buy at one store and not the others? They all had lovely yarns, they were priced relatively similar and they all had yarns we both liked. I realized, for me, it was the customer service. Don't get me wrong, at Annie's and String the people were very nice and polite but at Woolgathering Diane was warm and chatty, but not overly so. She made us feel welcome and took time out just to talk to us for a while. If they had a place to sit, I'm sure that Al and I would have planted ourselves, whipped out knitting and spent the rest of the day there. Diane was what made the difference between liking a store and wanting to be there and spending money at the store. Thanks Diane!
Well that was our yarn shop crawl. It was fun and I'm sure we'll be doing it again this time on the Upper West Side. I may have to stop for a margarita along the way though. Shopping makes me thirsty.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My First Full DPN FO!

Ok ok a pair would be an fo but one mitt will have to do. I'm making these for Bean to wear when bike riding. They're Tailgate Mitts. Very easy to knit other than the fact that it's sock yarn done on size 2 dpns. It took a little getting used to but it was awesome! I'm working on the second one now and other mitts also for a friend's daughters. The other mitts are the same ones I made for Bean before, knit on straights. A nice, easy, mindless knit. Because they suit me some days. Nice, easy and mindless.

Today Al and I are going to go on a tour of upper east side yarn shops. We haven't checked out the stores up there yet and we figured we'd go have a lookie loo. We're gonna go to Annie's, String, Woolgathering and hopefully Knitting321. I'm sure we'll stop for lunch along the way and have a nice stroll on a beautiful spring day here in Manhattan.
If you don't know about this site, you gotta go see it. It's called Knitmap and all you have to do is enter a zip code and it gives you a bunch of lys in the area! It's so cool! There are reviews, which you can obviously choose not to read, and the info is extensive regarding location, time and what's available.
Al and I went to The Point on Tuesday and had the pleasure of hanging out with a gentleman we had met before named Mark. We had so much fun with him! We laughed and chatted and knitted. Ok not so much kntting but oodles of laughing and talking. Mark is an awesome knitter with an eye for color that just cannot be beat. If you go to The Point's website and look at Febuary's blog, you'll see Mark there with a sweater he steeked. He's a great guy who is brilliant, gorgeous and so much fun to talk to. We were a bit boisterous and I was apologetic but the girls at The Point thought it was great that we had so much fun! Oh and I bought some Pastaza (big surprise) and some Heritage sock yarn. At 20% off. Love a deal!
I'll let you know how our LYS crawl goes today. Happy knitting!