Friday, July 29, 2005

Fiber Tour

Ok it wasn’t much of a fiber tour as we only made it to two farms, but it was about a million degrees out and we spent a couple of hours at each place.

Stop #1 Kiparoo Farms Kiparoo Farm Studio
2110-D Pleasant View Road
Adamstown, MD 21710,
301.874.6348 I really like the yarns at Kiparoo and Annie is just a wonderful person to talk to. I had no idea she was one of the founders of MD S&W. Yay Annie, we are all thankful for your ideas and efforts! She also has an amazing life story. I think what impressed me most was that it was about a million degrees out and she was wearing long sleeves and jeans and looked cool and fabulous. I will never understand how people can mange this.

I couldn't resist and bought this lovely merino and mohair stuff to make this great shawl out of. I think the colors will look great with jeans and it will be perfect to throw over my shoulders at work. I won't look as great as Annie does in her jeans, but it'll do.

And a 1 pound grab bag. I just liked the colors a lot. I might try and make a bag out of it. I don't really have enough yarn to properly swatch, so I think I will just wing it and see what happens. I love the colors. Purples with lime green. It spoke to me, what can I say?

Stop #2 Firesong 14576 Monticello Drive
Cooksville, MD 21723
301.854.4848, This was my first trip to Firesong. She warned me that she had been cleaned out at Sheep and Wool and that her home/ studio was under construction. We decided to come anyway. The studio is going to be amazing. Imagine have a huge home designed specifically for spinning, dying, and weaving? She has a room the size of my own kitchen that is just for dying. Crazy. Diane was a real pleasure to talk to. I know nothing about weaving and she is an expert. My aunt bought some wool, but like an idiot I didn't take pictures to share. It was handpainted in some lovely dark blues with some beige thrown in. It is gonna look great. We then went outside to look at the sheep a little. Most of them were hiding out in the shade. Did I mention it was hot? We did get to look at the males though. She has some gorgeous angora sheep in really great colors. One is even kind of red. Very cool. Oh and we got to fondle some kid mohair that Diane had just washed. I don't think I ever felt anything so soft and wonderful in all of my life.

It was a great day, but I think if I ever plan on doing this again I will wait until the spring when all the cute little lambs are around or the spring when they are shearing. Mostly I will wait for a day when it is well under a 100 degrees out!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Still exhausted

****I need to put in a big note here that I did not take any of these photos. My fellow campers did. I was worried about my camera getting salt and sand in it so it stayed home ****

I am still recovering from the busiest week ever. Assategue was great. I was a bit anti-social for some reason. I am never one for huge crowds and I think 95 people camping counts as that. I was just in one of those moods where I was happier doing my own thing.

It was insane. I don't know how Jamie and Kevin managed to organize this whole event but it came off without a hitch as far as I could tell. I got there around 6:30 on Friday and set up my tent and helped some others do likewise. We cooked dinner and then had a bonfire down on the beach.

I love fires and just hanging out talking.
Ok I think some of use had more fun with the fire than others . . .

It was so hot on Friday I didn't really get much sleep.

I got up early on Saturdaygrabbed some breakfast and coffee and headed down to the beach with my book. (I need to get all of the book read for book club on Tuesday and I am a really slow reader)

Thank god it was cooler on Saturay bu even still once it started to heat up I fled for some shade. Even with factor 30 on I managed to get pretty burnt. The problem with 30 is that if you miss even one small spot you have this flaming red burn in crazy patterns. Oh well. I mostly did alright though and I have gotten lots of compliments on how tan I look at work this week.

I spent a lot of time in the ocean too. Biggest waves I have seen around here in a long time. Totally fun.

Here is me cooking dinner Sat with other intrepid campers.

After dinner it was back to the beach for another campfire. This time Vicko and Ming did some crazy fire dancing. They twirled and danced with these flaming things. It was amazing. (In case you are wondering this is the same Ming I have blogged about before who has the knitting art exhibit going in DC right now. How cool is she???)

Sunday morning I was up early, packed and headed home. I needed to get home in order to begin my lovely visit with my aunt and our little fiber tour. More on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Over Committed

I thought I might spend today telling you a bit about the going on in the daily life of Brooke. Let's start with Sunday. Sunday I went with some friends to a wine tasting / Reggae concert at linganore vineyards. This was a lot of fun and I love their blueberry wine, but I don't think I have ever been that hot before. By the time I got home I had a pounding headache. (This does not bode well for this weekend)

Monday I did some cleaning and last minute shopping for camping this weekend.

Last night I went to the library to pick up some books on tape for the long drive this weekend. I then met a group of friends for dinner and a the pub quiz at rira in Bethesda. I am happy to report that Drs. Evil won. Usually it is the music round that kills us but we got half of them right last night. I never thought my knowledge of Phil Collins and Genesis would get me so far in life. Yay team!

Tonight I am going to attend my first mid-md knitty meetup. I heard about this group from Chelsea over at small hands. I am always looking for new knitting friends. Silver Spring is a little far for me because I will be coming from work but it s only once a month so what the hey. Can't wait to meet the group and see what people are knitting.

Tomorrow is my regular no-mo-co stitchnbitch meeting. I love this group. We have so much fun and we now meet every week. This is a great group of women off ages and backgrounds and knitting experience. I love getting together and chat and see what everyone is knitting. Please come join us!

Friday I am taking a half day at work and leaving to go camping in Assatague. This is a national park with wild ponies and other animals running around on a beach.
I went last year and had a blast. I love to camp. I am going with a group I am a part of called MEETinDC. They are a free social group that is about making friends. Meetin now has chapters all over the country, in fact the world. The way it works is that there is this web site and if you want to get some people to do something you post an event and anyone can sign up. Or you can sign up to go to someone else's event. It is sorta like MeetUp in that way except rather than joining a specific activity group you can find people to do anything with. So you can go camping, to the movies, dinner a museum. When you first join it is a little intimidating because you are walking into a room full of people you don't know. But everyone is super friendly and of course was in the same situation themselves not too long ago. Once you go to a couple of events you start to recognize people and make real friendships.

That being said, meetin has gotten huge. When I first joined there were under a 1,000 members and of that not to many were active. So it was like a group of friends. At most of the events I attended I would know more than half the people there. Now there are 4,500 members. It is huge. Now I mostly only go to events where I know my friends are also going to attend. Having to introduce yourself to people over and over and over gets dull after a while. But still I really recommend Meetin to anyone who just moved to a new city or is just looking for new friends and something to do.

Here is just a sample of what is going on in DC in the next few days.
07/20/2005 July Birthdays Happy Hour at Dr. Dremo's <<
07/20/2005 Texture DJs at Gazuza
07/20/2005 MiDC Races MountainBikes
07/21/2005 PENGUIN movie & dinner <<
07/21/2005 Free Concert At Fort Reno <<
07/21/2005 Full Mahjong for Dummies
07/22/2005 Full Official MiDC Camping trip, Assateague Island, MD <<
07/22/2005 Wedding Crashers in Georgetown & Drinks Before (2) <<
07/22/2005 Ghostbuster's under the moon!

Anyway I am going camping with these guys this weekend. I have been looking forward to this all summer. But now I am really worried about the heat. I just don't hold up well in the heat. Last year I wound up in the hospital for heat exhaustion after a camping trip. A nightmare I do not want to go through again. It is a little cooler today (actually the temp is higher but the humidity is down so it feels cooler) and we will be on the beach so there should be a breeze and I can get in the water. My fingers are crossed.

Sunday I will drive home and my Aunt is coming to visit. I love my aunt. I always say she is where I get my craftiness from. This of course is ridiculous because she isn't a blood relative and I guess there isn't a gene for craftiness anyway. But my mom, as much as I love her, just doesn't get it. So my aunt is coming to visit and we are going to check out some yarn shops and farms. I was really hoping to get to dancing leaf farm because I have never been. However, Dalis will be away so instead we will have to settle with Kiparoo farms (just was there a few weeks ago) and Firesong Fibers. I am excited to talk to the owners about raising sheep and making and dyeing their own yarn. I am not much of a spinner but maybe I will take the plunge once again.

Tuesday is book club and I haven't even started the book. Maybe this weekend??? I really want to read the book too.

So Busy Busy Busy. I love it though. It is all stuff I really want to do so I can't complain about it. This is one of the times where I think I love being single. I can totally pack my days doing stuff I love and not have to think about anyone else. Selfish, perhaps, but there has to be some upsides right?

Hope you are having fun too!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

White Wonder

Today I thought I would talk about Tina. I knit Tina a few years back. My pockets were a bit empty and I went off in search of cheap yarn. I bought a pound cone of Lily 4 ply cotton. I can't remember the price now but I want to say that with a coupon it was around $10. I had no idea how it would knit up. I had this fear that I would be wearing a dishcloth around. I found the pattern for Tina for free online and already had the needles so off I went and started knitting.

So what don't you see in this picture? Well the way it is knit you start at the bottom and when you get to the arm holes you cast off a lot of stitches and then continue knitting up the middle and shape the neck. What I didn't realize until I had finished both the front and back and seamed it was that this meant that while the height of the arm holes was fine the width left me showing a lot of bra to the world. I have never had this problem with anything I knit before. (This is why patterns normally have rounded armholes instead of square ones. )

So to fix the problem I could have taken out all the side-seams and ripped out the top of both sides and re-knit the armholes. Obviously I didn't do that. What I did instead was pick up stitches around the armhole and add some knitting. Kinda a weird fix, and it did leave a noticeable join, but I could live with it. Besides it is all covered when my arms are down anyway.

All in all I am really happy with this sweater and wear it a lot. I imagine if I had knit it using the denim silk that Berroco recommended it would have come out very different. The silk would have a lovely drape to it. My Tina is pretty thick and stiff. But I like that. It hides my tummy this way.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Stash enhancement and a new WIP

Why must yarn stores torment me by having sales? I really am beginning to develop a yarn problem. It started as a joke but I really can't seem to help myself anymore. I just keep buying more and more yarn. At least I usually have a project in mind. Although come to think of it I didn't do so good on that front this weekend.

My favorite LYS Eleganza was having a sidewalk sale this weekend. I picked this up at 50% off. How could I say no? I love the tweedy color and it should felt up into something fabulous I just have no idea what right now. It is three skiens of Rowanspun aran. Two red and one navy.

I also picked up some Noro Kureyon #92 to make a booga_bag for my mom. Shhh, don't tell. I think she will like these colors. They have such fantastic colorways and so much to choose from. Kitty helped out in this photo shoot. (AKA tolerated me putting yarn next to her for a few seconds before she started to think it meant she could play with it)

Next I picked up some "Cashmere Luxury Aran" It has no company listed on the tag. It is a pretty light blue and is 45% Merino, 49% microfiber and 6% cashmere. It is super soft and if going to be a one skein wonder for my sister in law if she ever gives me her shoulder measurements. I think she will love the OSW. It perfect for her. Me, I have giant shoulders and would look like a hulking freak in a shrug but Lisa would look fabulous in it.

And last but not least I started mosaic knitting this weekend. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I think it is turning out really well. This is going to be a wedding afghan for Shep and Jen. There is no way it will be finished in time for the wedding on labor day; they will just have to make due with a photo and a promise. I got the pattern from Family Circle Easy Knitting Holiday 2003. The yarn is Pattons Simply Soft. Normally I wouldn't go for acrylic but it is so soft and is for an afghan. It is nice to be able to tell people they can just bing it in the wash.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Some stuff I have come across

First the good stuff, I joined a knitters CD swap here. I am excited about this. I love when people make new mixes for me. It is a great chance to get exposed to new kinds of music. I figure if I come up with even three new songs from new artists it is a win for me.

Second, there is a letter writing campaign to help out Julie over at boogaj. She is the designer of the great booga bag pattern. Recently Belle Armoire published an article with a pattern for a nearly exact copy of her bag. They even wrote her before the article was published asking for her permission. She very graciously agreed to let them use it for free as long as they gave her credit. They did not do so. I think this sort of thing is terrible. Help a fellow knitter out and write a letter. (See boogJ's blog for the full story and the link to the editor's email)

After emailing with Julie and the editor of Belle Armoire I have come to the following conclusion. The bags are significantly different. Especially after reading this. However, I think the editor jumped the gun and contacedt Julie about the bag similarities, made an agreement with her, and then later talked to the author of the other pattern and came to the conclusion they were different. Does this mean that the contract with Julie is nullified? Legally I have no idea. My brother the patent attorney says the whole thing is too messy and since it doesn't involve money its not worth pursuing. (Is he a lawyer or what?) I guess in the end I think that Belle Armoire should apologize to Julie and at the very least honor their agreement to give her a free subscription.

In the end it makes me feel a lot less wary about putting up free patterns on here. As long as I never expect to profit from it, seems like all you would have to do it change the yarn, maybe cast on a little different. Maybe add a story about how you got the design idea and you can call it your own. Not very reassuring. It seems like there is very little incentive to design a pattern when so much work goes into it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Why everyone should love Short Rows

I recently learned what a short row was and why I should be doing them. So I am going to share my knew knowledge with you. There have been a lot of good articles around on the web about short rows recently and so I got to asking myself "Does everyone know something I don't? I mean I never saw a pattern with direction for short rows in it so why should I be bothered right?"

Here's the secret: patterns hardly ever tell you to use short row shaping because it takes too long to write. But never fear the technique is easy and patterns convert readily.

So what is a short row and when should I be using it.
1. Use number one = Shaping a Bust
Short rows are a way of adding shape and ease. It works sorta like adding darts in sewing. Basically you are adding stitches in the middle, without adding them at the edge so that your knitting kinda balloons out and give you room for those feminine curves. There is a really great article in Knitty that explains this. This is where I learned about short rows. This article has great diagrams and a link to a pattern at White Lies which uses this shaping for a great tank.

I used short rows to add some bust room in this tank. I am very happy with the results. It means that the fabric doesn't get really stretched out over my breasts. When I blocked this sweater I put plastic bags under the boob area in order to maintain the shape. I wish I took pictures of this process now. I did this because I read somewhere that if you flat block something with short rows all the shaping will go away.

bust bust 2

2. Use Number 2 = Sock heels
Ok I have to fess up here and admit I have not tried this yet. Last Thursday we got to talk about our favorite heal shaping at NMC Knitting Group and Anne said she loved short row heals. Being recently excited about short rows I had to find out more. Kristie sent me this link heel 1 and I also found this heel 2 and this heel 3. I haven't had time to read any of these, but the point is you can use short rows to shape sock heels.

3. Use Number 3 = Binding Off
This is where I am truly converted. As you may have noticed it is summer. I have been on a tank knitting frenzy. Any of you who have knitted sleaveless items will know that using normal decreasing methods can leave you with a messy step-ladder kind of effect both around the neck and under the arms. In the past I would often crochet around my edges in order to achieve a more uniform and finished look. NO MORE! Now I use short rows. I couldn't find a nice link for this but this explains how would you use the technique for shoulder shaping. Basically it works like this. Say the pattern reads:
Decrease 4 st at the sleeve edge of next 2 rows
Decrease 1 st at the sleeve edge of next 10 rows

What you would do is knit until 5 stitches remain. Wrap the next stitch (see explanations in any of the links I provided for how to wrap). Turn work. Work across until 5 stitches remain at the other sleeve edge. Wrap the next stitch. Turn work.
Work until 6 stitches remain. Wrap the next stitch
Repeat until you have made 14 wraps on each sleeve edge.
Now work across and pick up all of the wraps on one side and work to the end.
Turn your work and decrease 14 stitches. Work across and pick up the wrapped stitches at the other edge. Turn and bind off 14 stitches.

What this does is give you a nice clean edged. I used this technique on both the neck and arm edges in this sweater. I mean do edges get and finer?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Weekend Update

Friday night I finished Daisy. She could have been a bit longer, but all in all isn't too bad. I really need to accept the fact that I am freakishly long-waisted. I normally add length to everything, but this had so much shaping in it I was afraid to try it. Now am afraid to wear it because it is too short and well let's face it too skimpy for someone of my size. Sigh.

I don't know how much I will be able to wear her though. I am afraid to sweat in it with all the angora, likewise I don't want to take her to a bar where she would get smoky. While it is softer than anything I have ever knit, I don't think I will be knitting with angora again.

Still she was a fun little knit and she is sooo soft. I also really like the little knobs on the back where the straps attach.

Saturday Kristie and I went to Fiberworks to check out their sale. They have tons of yarns there, but the store looks like a whirlwind hit it. For some reason I thought this shop was in VA. So when I mapquested it and found out it was only 12 miles from me and they were having a sale I had to check it out. Unfortunately, will the shop isn't that far in distance it was all back roads and actually took a long time to get there.

I found some nice ribbon yarn (Gedifra Algrave) though to make a tank from Filati #27

It is this neat ribbon yarn that blends from cotton tape to polyamide. So the fabric it knits has are really interesting shine and texture to it. I think this one is gonna be a real winner. And while I am thinking about it, I am gonna add another section of the basket weave in order to add some length.

I also cast on, and re-cast on and re-cast on Polka Purl Dots (Interweave Sp 04). The pattern calls for a tubular cast on. I had never done this before and the directions make it seem pretty complicated. And let me tell you when you are casting on 306 stitches in a seed stitch it is easy to make a mistake. This will be my second wrap sweater. I like them because they are sorta guaranteed to fit. I am using Plymouth Wildflower DK in a pale lavender for this. So far I am hating this yarn. It splits, it untwists, the color is light than I thought it would be. . . Color is always a problem when ordering on-line.

Best places to live

This just in. I live in one of the top twenty places to live in America. Gaithersburg MD comes in at #17. My parents home town comes in at 14. How does your home town rank?
Money's Best Places to Live

On a depressing note, I earn far less than my neighbors apparently.

Friday, July 08, 2005

More WIP

So socks aren't the only things on my needles. I added a little WIP box in my sidebar. I need to figure out how to make it a little more polished than it is. I have to say one thing that I am really impressed by is how nice people's blogs are. I think most people must know a lot more about computers than I do.

Anyway, back to the knitting. I got this yarn from Eleganza Yarns in Frederick.
This yarn is 70% Pima Cotton and 30% angora an thus super soft. It is also super sheddy. I keep getting fluff in my nose. I don't think it counts as allergies when I am actually sneezing because I have large fluffs of rabbit hair in my nose. I am really hoping that it won't continue to shed once I start wearing it.

So what is it? Well I thought yarn this soft needs to go close to the skin so I am making a halter top with it. I also wanted to find something for summer, that I could knit fast, with the correct gauge. This is what I came up with. The pattern is from Adriafil's free patterns in their Dritto and Rovescio magazine and is called Daisy. I am really hoping that I can work it with some sort of strapless bra but I have a feeling that it a futile dream.

This is what I had finished as of Monday night. Last night I finished the right shoulder and neck. I recently learned how to do short row shaping and this project seems perfect for it. I think I will use short rows now on any necks and sleeve wholes that are finished in some other way. It just really gives you a nice edge. I will give you some closeups when I get it finished

I am now really worried that it is going to be too small. When I started I was worried that it would be to big and that I would have to work out some way to put elastic in the back of it, but now I am worried the other way. Also I am having trouble figuring out what they means with some of their finishing directions. This always happens with their patterns. They have some really weird translation issues. I will just fudge it along. We shall see. . .

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Calling

Wow. What can I say. It is weird because just before I woke up this morning I was dreaming about an old boyfriend whom last I heard was living in London. I have also been agonizing about what must be a negative RSVP to a wedding in London on labor day. So even before I knew about the tragedy my thoughts were with London. I hope . . .

I was going to say I hope my friends and their love ones are all safe. I of course mean I wish that everyone was safe, but since I know that can't be, I will just leave with the wish that this would never happen again.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What I'm working on

So far I have been dwelling in the past. It's time to look to the future. So what am I working on.

I mentioned that I started some socks the other day. After a lot of fiddling and frogging I have the foot of one sock that looks, ok and is the right size. I am not super happy with them but . . . they will do and I will wear them to be sure. I actually really like this yarn. It doesn't split which is always good and I like the feel of it.

And who is this being "helpful" while I try to take photos? Who decided that the wire on my circs makes a really great toy? I guess it is time to introduce you to my room mate: Kitty

I thought I would be able to come up with some super clever name for my cat. I kept thinking and thinking. Now six years have past and she is still Kitty. I really wish I were more clever. Sigh.

I picked up Kitty from the SPCA in East Providence, RI in 1999. I never had a cat before and really didn't know what I was getting in too. I went to the SPCA with two criteria: I wanted a female and I wanted her to have short hair. Well I picked this little girl out of the litter and had no idea that she would have long hair. Oops. She was just so cute and fluffy how could I resist.

I thought a lot about getting her declawed and decided not to. I don't know if that was the right decision or not. She does not go outside, and she has done a number on my furniture. She HATES to have her claws cut. There is no way I can do it alone. I have lost a lot of blood trying. As a result I just buy her lots of scratch toys and try not to wince too much when she claws me. Mostly it is by accident. Mostly.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Happy Fourth of July!

Ok so it is the 5th of July but I was off doing the beach thing. I had another wonderful weekend at my best friend's house. AKA my beach house. Lucky for me, my best friend in the whole world happens to live in Lewes, DE which is right next to the beach. It's good to have friends in good locales.

Kristen is the proud new mom of what could be the cutest baby in the world.

This weekend we took Ryan swimming for the first time. It is so much fun to see his reactions to things.

Just so this doesn't become and entirely non-knitting blog, I took a photo of a blanket I made for Ryan when he was born.

Friday, July 01, 2005

I used to think socks just weren't for me

Do you hate double pointed needles? Do you think socks would be boring and repetitive? Then read on.

For the longest time I couldn't figure out why everyone seems so obsessed with knitting socks. Those needles are so tiny and I hate double points. I mean I loath them. I hate how I always wind up with ladders no matter how tightly I try to pull the stitches at the end of my needles. Then along came Anne at our knitting group. She introduced me to the joys of magic loop. Now I can knit in the round without double points, and I don't have to worry as much about stitches falling off the end of those tiny needles.

I have to admit the first thing I did was buy some self striping yarn. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. And it is. Here are my first pair of socks. Now don't get me wrong. They are perfectly good socks. I knit them using the Your Putting me on Sock pattern which is a great toe-up generic sock pattern. I then went a ahead and added a fancy stitch to the top. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that you needed to do a rib stitch at the top in order to allow the sock to stretch. Consequently, while this sock is wearable, it is pretty tight.

My next two pairs of socks were gifted and I didn't take photos so I can't share them with you.

My next socks for myself using Koigu and the Fiber Trends Raindrop Lace Sock pattern. This is the first time I knit with Koigu. How could I not love the experience? One thing I will say though is these socks are extremely slippery to walk around in.

The last pair of socks I knit are the Waving Lace Socks form IK spring 2004. I knit these in Wildfoote luxury Sock yarn. I wasn't all that elated with it. It was super cheap and that is always something to think about, but it split a bit and it just didn't feel all that great to me. I love the socks though. I pattern was easy to follow and interesting to knit.

Currently on the needles is some lovely Blue white and purple cotton Catania Color from Schachenmayr. So far I am loving it. I am back to the generic toe up pattern. This time I am going to add a looped honeycomb rib to it. I just cast these on last night because I needed a good travel project. And really, for me that is one of the best aspects of sock knitting. They are so darn portable.