Monday, March 19, 2012

Yarning Around

Oh hello, it's me, your sometime blogger, back again after just a little break this time. I have been thinking about knitting a lot, and even doing some!

I was hoping to totally finish that twist front alpaca sweater this weekend, and was knitting along in the RV when I looked into the knitting bag.  Guess what I didn't see? Another ball of yarn, that's what. Yep, I had brought most of my life essentials other than that final skein of yarn I'll need to finish (actually, I may well go into the fourth skein...who knows. So, I had to stop when I was at this attractive stage of the front of the sweater:
A partial front of a sweater.
I think this is one of those project that will be very pretty once blocked and sewed together, and not a moment sooner.So, I will continue to enjoy how lovely the alpaca fiber feels and not worry about it. I have fetched the next skein of yarn and will get moving after I blog! Ooh, note that I switched to some Lantern Moon wood needles. They are very pleasant to work with, as they should be at $30 (yow).

So, since I ran out of alpaca, I picked up my poor neglected fall colors shawl and got quite a bit of it done. This is one of those projects that it's hard to gauge progress on. I know I put at least 3 or 4 inches on it, but it still looks small. Of course, the fact that the stitch pattern is that interesting double garter stitch that sort of bunches up doesn't help much. That will make it a warm one, though. So, here's how it looks now:
Two-ball fall shawl progress.
It's blending very nicely. No one who looks at it believes I am knitting with two colorways, thanks to how each has the same brown in it. I am thinking of making a brown border on the bottom, since I have a skein of brown from the same dyer.

Now that I look at it harder, yeah, I can see I made some progress. I will quit whining.

I Went to a Store or Two or Three

I alluded last time to some fun knitting thing I was going to do soon. Well, that fun thing was that a friend and I took a day off work last week and indulgently went to visit every yarn store in Austin (other than Yarnbow, since I am not sure it's still there). We were comparing and contrasting.

I think it surprised my friend (a new friend, not one of my usual knitting friends or my old knitting friends who would know better) that everywhere I went someone knew me. I really enjoyed getting to talk to Stacy at the Knitting Nest, whom I hadn't seen in quite some time (since I quit going to yarn shops to browse!). We enjoyed the way the decor is all thematic, and were impressed by the larger space they have now. It must be very pleasant to take a class there. And it's always fun to trek down to way south Austin for something other than Volvo repair (son bought a Volvo way down south, which he has already blown the engine on, but it's OK because I made friends that way). I  bought a tape measure and a book there. Turns out I already have the book, too, so it may go to the shopping friend.

I digressed again. Next we headed up to Hill Country Weavers, where I actually HAVE been lately or I would not be working on that gray sweater! Suzanne was helpful and chatty but not too chatty (so we could shop) and was glad I am enjoying that naturally dyed alpaca so much. I saw the other colors, too--dyed with beets, onion and cochineal, which made two different colors, I guess with different mordants.

I bought two books, one is the book about Judy's Magic Cast On, which has some fun projects in it. It has to be cool to know you invented a new knitting technique, so my circular hat is off to Judy Becker! The other book I got is Modular Knits, by Iris Schreier, which also has some good ideas, plus some complex stuff to really dig into at some point.

The only yarns I bought are these two:

Another ball of Alchemy Haiku, and a Zauberball
I really want to make another Paintbrush Lace cowl, this time in just the Alchemy Haiku yarn. The colorway I got will look great with black or blue, I think. My fingers are itching to start, just to touch that yarn some more. I also got a ball of, yes, sock yarn. But but...I want it to be a shawl. This Hitchhiker one, to be exact. There was a sample in a slightly different colorway at Hill Country Weavers, and it looked so perfect with jeans. Look at me, planning projects again. I am so proud.

After checking out with our groaning weight of purchases, then eating a fun lunch right across from Hill Country, we checked out a couple of fabric stores that are typically "Austin." Stitch Lab is the one I'd send you locals off to, if you aren't already cool enough to have been there. It is incredibly trendy, modern (or postmodern) and updated it almost hurts. But there is fun fabric and all the classes look very entertaining. The teacher leading a class of little girls was really charming and very much in control without dampening their enthusiasm. I got a catalog for Beccano and Leigh.

The other shop is also very, very trendy, but in a more elegant way. It is called Common Thread. It had the kind of good quality fabric for sewing clothing that you can't get in the usual places. Nice natural fiber knits, and some gorgeous cottons you could actually see yourself wearing. I came close to wanting to sew something...and we also visited an upholstery shop just for fun...

Then we finally hit Gauge, where I hadn't been in the longest time. I was very glad to see they had nice, new yarns in good quantities. The selection still isn't huge, but it is well edited, and I know I can go there if I suddenly need more Entrelac stitch markers. Whew. I did know someone there from the olden days, but I didn't know her well and she was grafting something--you can't disturb that. The owners had all left right as we walked in, so there was an interesting man holding down the fort and dealing with customers.

All in all it was fun to do a mini yarn crawl, though I'd still like to get back to Paige and Yarnorama sometime. I know my friend would love to see the spinning stuff that all my beloved old knitting friends are now so addicted to!

And speaking of new knitting friends, I am still enjoying the little yarn group at work. There are just a few of us, but we do keep showing up! It's a very relaxing atmosphere, and I do appreciate that now that my whole life has calmed down and I can relax a bit.

(Remember, if you want to know what I am DOING all the time, visit the Ursula Lumbers blog, starring our bulky old RV, Ursula! There you can see me interact with horses, donkeys and cattle, and see a lot of pictures of farm and ranch land...someday there may well be sheep or alpaca on the ranch!)


  1. Checked out your other blog too---looks like you are having a great time exploring Texas!
    Now if I could just remember where HOKGardner took me over Christmas---a really cool artists' colony type of place that sells yarns and spinning stuff. Really neat place. I think it's near Dripping Springs.
    Happy Travels!

  2. Was it Old Oaks Ranch? Sorta near Wimberly? That is a cool place, if you haven't been there. If it's somewhere else, ask her for me, please! We should probably look at all those places, too.

  3. Hi Suna,
    I am a newbie knitter (but an experienced crocheter) and came across your blog doing a search for mitered square patterns. With that shawl you have in the above post, how many stitches did you have to cast on? I am thinking I want to make a blanket instead of a shawl and I like the look of this.



  4. The shawl in the picture has sort of a trick cast-on, and you start with just a few stitches and build from there. However, the basic shape of the shawl can be found in Evelyn Clark's patterns. I am looking and looking for the book that shows how to start a simple triangular shawl. I got the start for this one from Knitivity ( so you could contact Ray there and ask him if he still sells the instructions for the easy start to a triangular shawl that he has. ( Sorry I can't remember!


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