Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Love sick

Perhaps that should read "loom sick". Because I am being driven half mad with lust for a loom.

At Rhinebeck (I have pictures, but I keep forgetting to bring in my card), I tried the Saori loom. I tried it last year too, but this year I spent much more time and the wonderful, sweet lady from Loop of the Loom spend lots more time with me, showing me some different techniques, like scooping, which results in something like this:

That is by someone named Coco Hirunagi and is part of an exhibition of a weaving class, though it wasn't done on a Saori - you can see the rest of the class's work here if you're interested. I'm showing it only to demonstrate how, in weaving, a simple technique can be used to amazing effect.
Anyway, Saori makes the lovely, fantastic SX601:

It may look like a complex loom, but it is designed to be simple to use. It is absolutely gorgeous and it has a built in bobbin winder and it folds to be marvelously compact, which she demonstrated for me. I had woven something I thought was really quite beautiful and was all geeked up about it, but somehow the man was nowhere around to see how small it folds up (with project still warped and everything). I LOVE this loom and I LOVE the Saori philosophy of weaving for everybody and I love the allowance for pure creativity. It is a bargain, actually, at $1290.
So I dreamed about Saori all that weekend and would still love to get one, but reason has set in (a bit) and I think that perhaps a rigid heddle loom, the Kromski Harp, would be a better place to start:

The 32" is a mere $219 and while much more conventional than Saori, you can still be as free form and creative with it as you'd like (well, once its warped, anyway).
I have been trying to research it online and frankly, if there is a big rigid heddle weaving community out there, they don't have a strong presence on the internet. Nothing even close to the knitting community. Part of my rationale in choosing the Harp is that it is an inexpensive place to start, it FOLDS with the project still attached, and the built in warping board could still be useful even if I outgrow a rigid heddle.
I think it would be a long time before I outgrew a rigid heddle, though, because I talked to a guy weaving on a huge Louet floor loom at Rhinebeck and it was interesting, but I am definitely not interested in making fabric that looks like it could have been machine made (yeah, I know, a loom IS a machine, but I mean I want to see the human hand in the product and I don't think you really could in his super fancy complex cloth). I want to use up yarn ends and fabric scraps, play with different fibers and colors and just make interesting things. I'd love to weave rugs, especially.
The man swears he's behind my weaving lust but he is pretty dead-set against me getting a loom. He swears we don't have enough space (we do). He's also worried I'll never knit him anything again, which is crazy because its not like you can take the loom with you on the subway and on vacation, so I will still knit every day, even with a loom. He had a color class in undergrad and the professor told them that weaving is sort of the ultimate color experience, and that color sense is "in the fingers". Maybe he is afraid of loving weaving too.
But if I get the regular check from the in-laws for Christmas, I really think I NEED to get the Kromski Harp. So please, weavers, if you somehow stumble across my blog, PLEASE tell me your advice on my loom dilemma and any experience you have with the Harp or Saori.

So, now that I have confessed, on to the knitting.
We were just in Michigan for a friend's wedding and I went to my mom's and felted the bag for my Aunt. The first go-round, it barely felted at all. The second time, we reduced the load size on the washer and threw in a pair of jeans. Then we went to the bank. Which, in retrospect, maybe was a bit risky, but I figured since it barely felted at all the first time, it was okay. When we got back, it had definitely felted! Not too small, actually. A bit too small, but that was probably my fault for not being able to felt the swatch and predict how much it would shrink, because I was happy with the amount of felting. The handles, which I did in seed stitch, didn't felt as much as I would have liked and there was quite a lot of fiber migration but all in all, I'm happy with it. Especially since it dried, because when it was wet, it smelled terrible. I have before and after pictures, just need to remember to bring the card in.
I have finished the back of my mom's sweater and am started on one of the fronts. I took a chance and showed her the yarn while we were in MI - just the yarn, not anything I'd knitted with it, just to see what she'd say about it.
And she loved it! Totally loved it! And not just in an, oh, thats pretty way - in a wow, I love that color! way. So that was a relief.
Finally, I am working on the world's ugliest sock. It is in Tofutsies which is fine to work with, but the colors in this sock totally make me want to barf. And its turning out really small. But all that is fine, because the person it is for likes barfy colors and is really small. So I'm chugging along on it and choking back my, um, reaction to the colors.

Happy halloween! Not that we're doing anything. I think there is some kind of haunted house in my neighborhood. Its probably for kids, but maybe we'll check it out.

The sad thing is - today is one year since we left for our honeymoon in Japan. I wish we were leaving again today.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

RHINEBECK!!!!!! Rhinebeck, Rhinebeck, Rhiiiiiiiine-BECK!

How excited am I for another year of the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival? SO excited! Well, me and all the other knitters who will be going.

How can someone get so excited for a sheep and wool festival? Last year was my first time going and I was excited but I was also more just curious. Now that I know where I'm headed, I'm just totally psyched (everyone at work is laughing at me, as is the man, because I've texted him "sheep and wool!!!!" more than once).

In short, its heaven for fiber lovers. You're surrounded by thousands of other fiber lovers - but even a rather devout people hater like myself can manage it without problems - and they're all wearing beautiful things that they made and they're sitting and using drop spindles and knitting and crocheting and basically loving life.

And the animals! So many darling sheep and goats (I love goats!), alpacas, basically its adorable fiber animals, oodles of yarn and fiber apparati, and tons of like-minded people. Its awesome. Its so awesome that even my husband is looking forward to going back. Wouldn't characterize him as excited, exactly, since that is how I am describing myself, but he really enjoyed himself and also didn't try to talk me out of yarn purchases. I actually bought very little last year but I sense more purchases this year. It can be overwhelming, though, and you may end up buying nothing in the end. Or at least, very little.

Last year, I was at this one woman's booth and she was selling Ashford rigid heddle looms when this woman and her two young sons, maybe like 10 and 12 years old, comes up and says to the woman, "Well, he says he'd rather have this than a playstation for his birthday, so we'll take one". How darling is that?

Okay, so heres some photos from last year. The man took over 400 photographs - we were testing out our new memory card before our big trip to Japan, but also he liked taking pictures. Witness:

That is my arm petting these two sheep. They were the first live animals (not that we saw dead ones...) that we saw when we entered the festival so I was super excited. The poor girl leading them couldn't get anywhere for all the people stopping her to pet the sheep!

This is me with this cute little girl. I was looking at the sheep and she said, "do you want to feed them?" and she gave me a handful of sheep chow. It was so nice.
If you were wondering, what I'm wearing is a simple cardigan/jacket made out of Colinette Point 5, the colorway is cardinal. I love that yarn but I hate knitting with bulky yarns. I wish we could get Point 3 in this country (is anyone who can do something about that listening? And if so, is my opinion worth anything?). I'm also wearing my wedding shawl as a scarf. This year, it is going to be quite warm out, so I'll be wearing rossnyev with a brand new, hot off the sewing machine matching skirt. Wish I had time to knit a matching cloche.
Here are some more great photos of fiber animals taken by the man:

I think that guy was some kind of goat.

And heres a question for you - why didn't I buy this yarn? I'm looking at it like I love it, I'm loving it now, reviewing the photo, but I didn't buy it! Was it expensive? Don't do this to yourself, if you go to Rhinebeck. Buy what you love, and buy it when you see it because someone WILL buy it (it happened to me! Not with this skein, but another):

This nice lady taught me to use a drop spindle and taught me a lot about spinning. We got instructions to make a CD drop spindle but haven't done it yet:

I'll have a report on this years festival next week. For now, only two more days!!!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

my delicious lunch, ugly yarn, and more!

All is well in my world. Fall finally seems to be here, thank goodness, and I just finished the most wonderful, delcious, appropriate lunch - oden at Menchanko-Tei (yes, I know it was closed by the Department of Health and that the reasons why weren't innocuous. But I love oden and theres no place else to get it around here!). It was one of those lunches that just plain hit the spot and made my whole day better. At lunch, I get the oden teishoku, and they choose the items for you. Today they gave me grilled tofu (yakidofu, and it was so good), ganmodoki (a cake made of tofu and vegetables, all chopped up and then reformed. They say they deep fry it, but it doesn't taste like it. It has a spongy texture that really soaks up the broth and it is so, so delicious!), mochi kinchaku (my absolute favorite - a mochi stuffed in a fried tofu pouch. Soft and indescribably tasty), and of course, daikon and egg. No fish cakes today! I don't know why. Of course you can order oden by the piece and make your own, but I like seeing what they serve me. To tell the truth, this is a pretty typical set. I wouldn't have minded a chikuwa fish cake in there. Here is a really cute page that describes oden ingredients.

But I digress. There is knitting to discuss.
I started swatching some sock yarns from the many types I bought for gifts, but since I didn't swatch in pattern and I'm NOT knitting all those socks plain, I guess that was mostly pretty useless. I'm on the fence about the patterns. I guess it would help to pick who is going to get which socks, so I could decide based on personality, but I haven't done that yet either.

I finished the goofy spiral scarf. Dang that yarn is ugly (Berrocco Trilogy). They have plenty of great yarns, for sure, but this one is ug-lee. But it looks nice in the spiral scarf. When you get to that 1600 stitch row, wow. Its like climbing knitting Mount Washington or something. I'm still binding off (I do a little every morning while I watch my favorite show) but it is spiralling along nicely and appropriately, resembles seaweed. Even though its blue. I think the recepient will appreciate it, though.

And mom's sweater is in full swing. I'm almost to the armholes. I've really only been working it on the subway, and considering that I have a no more than 20 minute ride, I'd say thats pretty impressive (well, I usually do two rows when I get to my desk. Can't resist). I am feeling quite uncertain about the color and the pattern. It looks beautiful, really, but I'm not getting a "my mom is going to love this" vibe from it yet. Its just the back, so I'm still plugging away. I'm actually considering showing her the swatch and getting her opinion of it when we are in MI at the end of this month. What to do, what to do? Either way, I love working the stitch pattern and the twisted stitches do go really fast.

Thats about it. I guess I'm off to look for more sock inspiration so I can do some relevant swatching tonight.

Oh, and too bad about the Yankees, right? I have my fingers crossed that Joe Torre will stay. I can't imagine having a crazy boss who only focusses on the few negative things I've done, when I've actually done so many wonderful things (like taking the team to the playoffs every year since he's been there, after his first??? Hello, Steinbrenner?????).

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Rossnyev update

I finished Rossnyev last night and am wearing at work today (despite the fact that its like 70 some degrees and 90% humidity outside. It IS October, right???).

Funny, finishing projects always feels sort of anti-climactic to me.

A few changes, as mentioned: made full length sleeves and just let the hems roll instead of doing it in the bramble pattern; worked one row of sc on all hems and the back of neck to prevent too much rolling.

Sorry no take my word for it, it looks great and I love it!