Thursday, May 31, 2007

Van Helsing Candleflame Socks

The Van Helsing Socks are finished! I named it this because the pattern looks like a candle held to a window and it reminded me of that lovely man striding through the gothic castle, candle in hand....

Carina took a picture when she received them in the mail and here they are on her feet:

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2 Skeins Angora & Wool yarn
Size 4 needles
My own Design (I'll write it up for the blog before long)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

over the river, and through the woods...

Yesterday I ventured into the wild back country of my state to do a presentation at a small rural school. Aside from being plagued at every turn by Road Construction, which is the summer playtime of our wise state bureaucrats, I have the World's Worst Sense of Direction. Truly. I travel 5 minutes from my neighbourhood and I am in what my directional sense considers The Wild Country, resulting in complete shut-down and confusion.

I am the type of traveler that GPS systems were made for...that calm, soothing voice that says "turn LEFT at 200 feet onto Surrey Road."..... "TURN LEFT!! at 20 Feet onto Surrey Road." "TURN LEFT! TURN LEFT! TURN LEFT NOW!".... .... ...."recalculating....recalculating...." "Turn around and retrace steps to Surry Road. Turn Right at Surrey Road."

However, I don't own a GPS system. I rely on my keen sense of, of, of...acceptance of my bad sense of direction... in other words, I'm used to being lost and I know that if I just keep going, I'll eventually get somewhere. anywhere. It's always worked before. And besides, I get to see a lot of countryside, a lot of new unfamiliar cities, and meet a lot of nice people. And if they're not nice, they're interesting.


On this particular journey, I eventually ended up in a lovely college town that had a stunning bakery (cherry tarts and Orangina for lunch, which is why I'm having cottage cheese and nothing else for lunch today) and a huge antique store and a well-run and fully stocked book store.

At the antique store, I indulged in my penchant for vintage buttons and - as Providence would have it - the store owner had just received a huge supply of unused old store stock buttons of the 1940's! They were made from vegetable ivory which, I think, was influenced by the World War, and some of the button cards had German eagles on them. The store owner thought they were terribly ugly and sold them to me inexpensively (that was great) and I bought boxes! Each box had 12 cards inside. I got Big Coral ones and Big Blue ones and small green, teal, and coral ones and one box of unusual and fabulous pale green pearl buttons on silver cuff studs. Some of course, are for Marky, who is even crazier about buttons than I am, and some are destined for my vintage-style knitted sweaters.

And... just in case I didn't have enough knitting books or knitting patterns, the book store in this town had a sale table of used books and I got this:
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A wonderful old Rowan collection with lots of patterns from Kim Hargreaves, Martin Storey, Debbie Bliss, and Lucinda Guy..... this cover shot doesn't really do the book justice - its a huge book for one thing, and the designs are stunning and classic.

and this:
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which Rowan recently re-published with a different cover.

The Vintage knits one has 30 wonderful patterns like:
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and these two, made from Kidsilk Haze

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I am happy. Do you think the Universe is conspiring to keep me knitting? How is it that I come upon such wonderful bargains and surprises? Does my Guardian Angel knit??? that is the only thing that would explain this.... I venture into the wild for work, get horribly lost, and find wonderful things, have a marvelous lunch on a beautiful day, and am happy, though tired... who would figure?

Friday, May 18, 2007

more about knitting & the Wool Fair

I’m home today, with a bad cold, This translates to lying on the couch, watching old Star Trek episodes (this one is about “the Traveler”), and knitting socks and stockings for my internet friend-list… I have made good progress:

Holly’s are all done and very happy Little Ducky socks they are, too. (sadly, when I packed them up, I couldn’t find the little finger puppets I knitted so long ago, only their knitted bag, so I’ll have to send those when I find them…)

Carina’s socks are all done, and they are lovely, soft Van Helsing Candleflame Socks…in a colour like candle flame dying at midnight to where you can barely see it…

Minbutterfly’s socks are all done and they are butterfly blue Trailing Vine socks

Snarkysneak has one whole sock done and hers are such soft stockings with DNA cables,

Karen has one sock done and hers are very cute and perfect Peaceful Feelings Yoga socks,

Tethy’s socks are the ones I’m beginning on today, and hers are in a hand painted yarn called Coral Bells. I think I’ll use the lace pattern called Elfin, because by the time I finish, she’ll be in Erin, the land of the fairies….

For Daniel’s chapel socks, I decided to start again with a softer yarn, which I found at the Sheep & Wool Fair last weekend,

Julie will have some dark teal socks that I think will have a vine like deadly nightshade (not sure – this design subject to change right up until actually started),

And Nathalie will have black silk stockings to wear with her professorial boots, if I can find the yarn I’m looking for, If I don’t find the yarn I’m looking for, then I’ll make her a pair of black house slippers (heavy socks to wear without shoes around the Dungeons) instead…

Nadine’s socks are from a special yarn bright with New England leaf colours: deep crimson, orange, yellow, and green…and will have a maple leaf on them in a very clever pattern….

I really love them all. It’s so much fun when they’re finished.

Given all the yarn that I picked up at the Sheep & Wool fair, I think I can now join the “Knit from Your Stash” crowd. Did I tell you about it all?

Well, first, there was the buffalo and some “bunny yarn” from Zellinger’s Wool Co

Then, one of my favorites, A Touch of Twist, where I got some silk in natural colours and some lace-weight soy silk in dyed colours from a company called Conjoined Creations…

French Hill Farm, in Maine had some wonderful hand-dyed sock yarn and I scored two skeins, one pink and one deep blues and burgundy... This yarn is very similar to Socks that Rock Yarn on the west coast. It may be the same base yarn. But French Hill dyes it themselves and someone there has a wonderful eye for bright and subtle colour changes. They didn’t have a website but they do have email contact:

Ball and Skein had some sock yarn that was 50/50 silk and wool for $15 a skein. I got a deep midnight blue. We had a nice talk and she showed me some roving she got in silk that she will spin her magic with….

I got a nice skein of dark teal merino/mohair blend called “pulled taffy”, from Decadent Fibers. They had a wall of wools, but somehow, not much appealed to me. They seemed to be out of the most enticing colours that I had craved last year…

Spirit Trail has beautiful yarns, many with silk, and they are starting a sock yarn club, where you pay a set price and they mail you yarn and patterns throughout the year. But they are pretty expensive (no discounts at the fair) so I only bought a little half skein of purple dyed silk that had been damaged and so was discounted. I can wash it gently and knit some thing lovely and small from it…

The Green Mountain Spinnery – whenever I’ve been to their website, I feel uninspired by their yarns. But whenever I see their yarns in person, in yarn stores or at fairs, I am amazed by how beautiful and perfect they are and what gorgeous, unusual colours they’ve dyed them! Maybe the colours and the softness just don’t show up right on the monitor. I bought some sock yarn from them in a colour they call ‘antique bronze’. It is a gold with copper burnishing – hard to describe.

With my last $20, I bought a set of hand-made rosewood sock needles from Goldings. They had the most incredible needles and shuttles and spindles and a weaving loom that had sheep carved into it. But they were the people who mocked me when I asked if their needles were historically accurate.

I think the time has come to say goodbye for now. I want to make a pizza!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lily of the Valley knitting

You have all thought that the polish on the knitting needles has affected my brains, and you would be right. I am truly 'round the twist' as far as this is concerned, and will now offer evidence by showing you what I have been doing...

I’ve been searching out German knitting books today from this site:, looking for a beautiful book on Lily of the Valley knitting that I saw on someone’s blog… I couldn’t find it, but I did have a happy time reading the very quirky translations spit out by my bable-fish translator!!

Fashion Socks stricken Natürlich mit der
The right socks for tired feet: Classically discreetly, summery in fresh colors or quite snugly by the combination with effect threads - in it feet feel fine. With instructions for toe socks, tops, slippers and bed shoes. The boomerang heel - great fit and quite simply! Step by step instructions for opening out!

Originelle Strickideen rund ums Jahr für Kinder ab 2 Jahren 01796
Knit makes fun, Particularly for Children.
This book unites everything that is needed for children between 2 and 5 years in ideal way. Pullover, caps, covers and naturally small animals for loving. Nice designs lead the viewer by the 4 seasons and illustrate the beautifully knitted projects. Unity trick samples and small embroideries bring color and aliveness into the classical forms.
[PS – I have this book in English and it is truly adorable!]

Wohnraum-Accessoires stricken & verfilzen 6639
Everything that makes the at home still cosier. With kuscheliger wool knitted and easy in the washing machine felts! The result: correct Wohlfuehl-accessory e.g. cushions, vase and hot-water bottle dresses, table set, more can-warmly and much more besides in new optics.

Socken quergestrickt 3045
Wild und Warm: They have the agony of the sock choice, because only you alone to decide whether them the Jean sock, the artist sock or the Ringelsocke as first to your feet to leave

Then of course, there is this one, since I am on a sock-knitting adventure!
Patchwork-Socken Stricken
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[I seriously want this, but I don't think it comes with an English translation of the patterns]

Then I found it! The most beautiful knitting book in the world: Lily of the Valley Knitting~
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And inside:
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This one does have English translation inside the book (so I hear), so it may be in my online ordering future! Don't you think its lovely? And if you knit these things, you, too, could live in this beautiful green valley of peace.

That's really what knitting is all about.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Llamas, alpacas, and sheep - Oh My!

Ah...the Annual Sheep & Wool Fair. All sheep, all the time! I just got home from my wooly travels and must tell you all about it! Sorry this is long...

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At 8:30 am I left my house to travel half an hour into the country to the Fairground. When I got there, the gates weren't open yet, and the few early birds had qued up by the side of the road. I took my place, and shortly the gates to the parking fields were opened. Like the civilized fiber artists that we are, we nicely took turns driving onto the dirt road through the woods that would lead us to the mecca of beautiful fibers, where the cutthroat clawing and grabbing would occur....

After parking, I walked on the path through the dark, cool woods, and over a wooden bridge that spanned brackish water edged with emerging fern, up the pathway to the fairgrounds. I felt so happy and care free. I had a big canvas tote bag under my arm, and comfy Nikes on my feet. Oh, Rats!! I forgot to bring a bottle of water! oh, well, doubtless there would be vendors, and I could buy one for an exhorbitant $5 if I really needed it.

When I stood in line, I could see the booths all open across the fields, waiting for the early few. There were only about 20 people who had entered at that time. I felt like I had a serious advantage. And that turned out to be true! Zellinger's was the first booth. They are a New York state company that processes fiber for small farms that can't invest in the expensive equipment themselves to clean and spin and even dye the wool from their one or two sheep or alpacas or ...buffalo. yes! Buffalo! It turns out that one farm had a buffalo and they traded some of the down to Z's. Buffalo down fiber is like gold and even more expensive. Its $50 for 50 grams when you see it in the stores. Because the down is combed from the animal, not sheared, its scarce, but very soft and clean. Z's was selling 3 small skeins for about $6 an ounce!!! And because its fluffy down, and ounce is a lot. I snapped up all three - I was the only person there looking for yarn, everyone else was there to either sell their fleeces, or to deliver them to be processed and returned. When the owner saw me with the yarn in my hand, she called out across the field, "she's buying the buffalo! there's the lucky lady with the buffalo!! Come right up here - don't stand in line!" I was so embarrassed! but happy. definitely happy.

When I left that first booth, I saw a friend of mine sitting waiting for her friend to arrive and we chatted for a bit. I told her about the buffalo I had so fortuitously scored, and she said that she hadn't wanted to go to the fair with anyone else because she didn't want to lose any friends by ripping the yarn from their hands in an acquisition frenzy! Yup. We're a pretty intensely obsessive bunch. Please join the club. Craziness loves company.

Up the hill from there, I came to the alpaca barns.... I bought yarn from this handsome young man: Cinnamon Spice -
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He won a big first place for his coat at the competition! And his owners said I could visit the farm sometime and pat him. His yarn was only $7 a skein. But they only had 1 and 1/2 skeins of it. So I got that... Here is some of the yarn from his brothers and sisters. his was a bit different colour...
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It all gets a bit foggy after that. Five hours later, I was standing in the road thinking, "Why does my back hurt so much?...Oh! I'm carry 30 lbs of knitting yarns! LOL Of course it wasn't all yarn! and it wasn't all for me.... (I'll leave it at that :)

There weren't as many good colours in the yarn as I found last year when it rained so badly. Many vendors told me they had sold out at the Maryland Fair that happened just a week ago, and didn't have time to dye a new batch and then some didn't come who had come last year. Tribal Spirit Fibers had completely sold out of their sock yarn in Maryland, and Foxfire Fibers had changed their yarns, so they didn't bring the yarns I was expecting to find. Decadent Fibers had about half of the colours and half of the yarn types that they usually bring - they too said that they didn't have time to dye a new batch after the Maryland Festival. That must have been some fair!!

Here is a photo from the vendors' website, and you can see some of what I saw today...
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I kept looking and found some really rocking deals and gorgeous colours. I even got a pair of handmade sheepskin slippers for my boyfriend!

I have more stories of the fair, including the one where I got laughed at when I asked a wood-worker of spindles and needles if his items were historically accurate for reenactments. I guess he thought that someone wearing a Red Sox cap had no business asking such a thing!

But its time to go re-hydrate - I'm worn thin as a thread-paper! I got Enchanted April and Cold Comfort Farm from Amazon this week and I'm ready to curl up with them and veg quietly for the evening.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Wool Fair Anticipation

I’m getting more and more excited about this weekend’s Sheep & Wool Fair! Wool! Wool! Wool wool wool! Yarn! More yarn! More Sheep! More Llamas! More Angora bunnies!! Oh, and more Yarn!

Last year one of the booths had a few antique knitting items, and I bought a celluloid stitch holder which I’ve so enjoyed using. Like seashells on the beach, a Sheep & Wool Fair can wash unexpected treasures up into your hands. In cases like those, you are almost certainly obligated to purchase said treasures. No, really. Its like a pact with the Universe. The Universe brings good things to you. And you accept them. Right?

My plan is to focus on sock yarn this year and not just run amok amoung the fibers buying willy-nilly as I usually do. I have been putting funds aside for this for some time so that my happiness will be unalloyed by buyer’s remorse when bill-paying time rolls around!

I actually have plans for the yarn I buy. These are the patterns that are on my list for myself, when I am finished with the socks for you.:

First up, the Spring Grass Socks:
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What a beautiful green colour! In a fairly light yarn, these would be so comfortable.

Then, by the same blogger, the Orchid socks:
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Next, and I hope to branch out into some brighter colours for these – although it will take courage on my part to do so – the Diamond Lace Socks:
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After that, just for a break, a pair of simple tube socks in a really soft, thin yarn (thought I'll make mine in a single colour, not striped - probably dark blue):
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And finally – for summer – to wear with my straw flip flops that are my constant house shoes from June through September -

FlipFlop Socks!

All things are coming along very well with your socks. I can’t decide whether to start mailing them out, or whether to wait and send them in one great mailing so I can imagine you all opening your boxes at the same time, all around the world, like lighting one candle from another, then another! What do you think?

Just teasing… the first two pairs will go out soon, and then the rest, two pairs at time, at 10 day intervals probably. Since you’ll likely wear them in the fall, you don’t mind, do you?

Friday, May 4, 2007

socks for everyone

Sock-knitting for my internet friend-list continues. I now have six pairs in a wide variety of colours and patterns. I've decided I Love sock yarns - so springy, so soft, so delicate. Quite a while ago I receive a big ball of Opal sock yarn in a colourway called "Owl", and yesterday I discovered a sock pattern on the internet (free) that uses exactly that yarn. Its called Eagle Wings Socks or something like that....(Oops here it is..."Eagle's Flight" should really be Owl's Fight don't you think?) I've put all my printed-out internet patterns in a notebook, divided into Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall socks, with a pocket at the back for special directions or tips (like super-stretchy bind offs for the cuffs). This was very satisfying work. There's nothing like finding the exact perfect pattern for a certain yarn for a certain person!

Just in case you're knitting socks, here's some pattern links:

knitting pattern central sock list

Garnstudio accessories (socks!)

More GArnstudio socks

Sockknitters sock patterns

Wendy knits socks

Webring Knit Socks

Spunkyhats socklinks

knitting about's sock patterns

That should keep us all busy for awhile! ;-)