A Weekend Off and a Trip to the Yarn Store

I am enjoying two consecutive days off. It is the first time I’ve had too consecutive days off in longer than I can remember. It is the first weekend since June 7 – 8 when I haven’t had a bar/bat mitzvah or a wedding to perform. I actually went back to the beginning of May, and couldn’t find a weekend I’d had off. It turns out there is a reason I’m feeling a little run down.

I am, however, enjoying the time off. Yesterday, I took a gift certificate I was given for performing a bat mitzvah to a yarn store, and had a lovely time looking at yarns, fondling yarns, sniffing yarns, and planning.

I picked out a lovely purple laceweight merino (it varies between lavender and lilac) that I think I’ll be using for a tallit. Pictures will have to follow, though, because the cameras at CubeSpace and I am not–that whole weekend off thing. I also got one ball of a white laceweight wool which I’m thinking I might use to create stripes in the tallit. The next step is figuring out what kind of pattern to use for the tallit. I’m thinking something pretty lacy, but don’t yet have any concrete ideas.

I also bought my first Noro (Kureyon Sock Yarn). I’ve been admiring Noro yarn since I began visiting yarn shops some six years ago, but never had a good use in mind, or simply wasn’t willing to spend the money. But combine a gift card with a 20% off sale. . .and you’ve just got to try it. It has blues and purples, a little green and pink, and just the barest hint of orange. I’m really looking forward to knitting it and seeing how it turns out. Socks would be the obvious use for this, and I suspect that is where I’ll go, but it’s possible that something else will come up.

Finally, I bought a varigated skein of Alpaca Sox. I’ve worked with Alpaca Sox once before, as part of a shawl I made for Eva, and it is truly marvelous to work with. Soft and smooth, it justs runs through your fingers like water, but shows stitch definition really nicely. This will probably turn into socks, but it’s hard to tell beforehand.

All in all, I’ve got a good bit of knitting set up now. Small projects, large projects, all with lovely yarns and a high degree of excitement. First, however, I have to clear out some of my backlog of projects: a pair of broadstreet mittens (which because of their small size are great summer knitting), and maybe my pink/purple jacket. Also, there’s this baby blanket I want to knit for a friend who is about to pop. That should probably be something I start pretty much immediately.

In any case, lots of knitting available, which is nice. I spent about 3 hours yesterday watching the Red Sox being defeated by the Angels as I knit up a cuff on the first broadstreet mitten. What more could one ask of summer: baseball and knitting.

My Pink Jacket

I’ve started a new project for myself. It’s a pink outerwear jacket. It’s the Danbury Knitted Sweater Jacket. You can find out more about on ravelry here. I’ve now knit up the first foot of the back about 4 times, and frogged it each time trying to get both gauge and a good texture. The most recent version, just before I frogged it, looked like this:

The stockinette gauge was ok, but the ribbing was too large. So out it came, and I’m starting the ribbing now with size 5 needles to go with the size 7 needles on the stockinette. The pattern actually calls for 10.5 needles for the stockinette and 9 for the ribbing, but I’m using a much heavier yarn, I think.

I’m really loving this yarn (bought it at a destashing sale (yarn equivalent of a garage sale). It means I have to describe the yarn, rather than simply tell you the brand, etc. So they yarn is wool, fairly variable in weight, without much twist to it. At times, it almost seems like it wasn’t so much spun as drawn. Very soft, in light pink with streaks of purple running through it. The weight is varying widely from very thin (almost a fingering weight, to extremely chunky. It’s a pleasure to knit with.

I just finished casting on for my next go round. We’ll see whether I can actually keep what I knit this time.

Work is Cutting into My Knitting Time

I hate it when this happens. I had two hours blocked out for knitting last night. In fact, I was going to work on the socks I had started yesterday. In order to create these two hours for knitting, I’ve gone so far to create a Knitting Night at CubeSpace on a weekly basis. And I’m about to begin knitting, when Eva says to me, “Can you finish writing this proposal for me?”

Now, the real answer to that question happened to be “no.” Not that I wouldn’t, rather that I was not capable of doing so at that time. Nonetheless, I did give it my best shot. I spent about two hours trying to reorganize the text, write transitions, answer questions and the like, all about something I know very little about. To make it worse, my brain was already a touch on the toasty side by 6:30 last night when I began.

On the bright side, Eva tells me what I did was useful, and got her to the next step. On the brighter side, this could result in money coming. I am fond of money, or at least of its uses. We approve of money coming in. Anything I can do to facilitate money coming in is a good thing. Yet trying to kick start my brain into gear last night was extremely painful. I tended to have 15 productive minutes followed by 15 minutes of staring at the screen trying to figure out what those little marks on it represented.

All of this is to say, that I didn’t get to knitting last night.

Today I am down in Salem at the congregation. Some days in Salem are slower than others, and today is not a slow one. I walked through the door planning on spending half an hour writing a different proposal for CubeSpace (which I felt guilty about, until I remembered that I spend at least 4 or 5 hours at CubeSpace a week working on congregational business, so turnabout seems like fair play). But the phone was ringing from the moment I walked through the door. In fact, pretty much as soon as I put down the receiver from the first call, there came a second call (which was great, because it was the necessary follow-up to the first call, completely coincidentally) but between the two calls it was pretty much an hour before I got to the proposal. And all of a sudden, the day is beginning to get a little squeezed with meetings.

On the bright side, tonight is a Temple Board Meeting. And one of the functions of Temple Board Meetings is to provide an opportunity for the rabbi to knit on the congregation’s time (I’m pretty sure that must be one of the functions of Temple Board Meetings, even though it never gets explicitly stated, I think it goes without saying). So tonight, I’ll get a chance to get some knitting done. Which will be a good thing.

When I go too long without knitting, I begin to notice a certain tension in my life, a certain trembling of the hands. Withdrawal doesn’t begin particularly painfully, no deep headaches like caffeine withdrawal, but over time it builds. Eventually, I start noticing everything that’s longer than it is wide and thinking, “I could use that as a knitting needle.” Anything that is vaguely fibrous begins to look like yarn. Pens, chopsticks, scotch tape. . .

And that’s when you know you have a problem. Addicted to the yarn. But I could quit any time I wanted. Really.

Yarnia Part II

I’m beginning work on a new project: Eva’s Birthday socks. Here’s how they look so far:

evas-sock1.jpg

This is the project I alluded to earlier when talking about the yarn I “might” have bought when visiting Yarnia. And this is when I will do a little more talking about the yarn I purchased.

What I bought is 4 strands of wool: 2 green, 2 purple. They are not plied together, but are simply combined. I brought it home on a cone, straight from the machine:

yarnia-cone-1.jpg

I’ve now divided this into 2 evenly sized amounts of yarn (1 ball, and the rest still on the cone). And I’ve started knitting with it.

The yarn knits very easily. The multiple plies are easy to work with and don’t separate much more than a plied yarn. It feels great to work with, even if it is a little less elastic until it is worked into the fabric.

yarnia-cone-2.jpg
Regardless of the yarn being used, there is always something exciting about starting a new project. I know there is a lot of knitting ahead of me (which is a good thing), but I don’t really know how it will turn out, yet. I have a plan, and a sense of what I’m aiming for, but I know that the reality may look different from my expectations. Often, the reality is way cooler than my expectations. Almost certainly, it will be better than it looked while it was in process. Starting a new project starts this process.

So, tonight, I am beginning this process: evas-sock2.jpg

And I suspect that I will be continuing on this project for the next few months. Mainly joyously, occasionally dragging myself through it, always waiting to see what the socks will be.

Yarnia

I visited the yarn store Yarnia on Saturday during it’s grand opening. Very cool!

The concept is simple. Yarn is made up of multiple strands of yarn which are plied together. Most simple yarns are composed of multiple strands (plies) of the same yarn. More complex yarns often mix different colors, textures and thicknesses of yarn together. Yarnia lets the end consumer do the mixing. You choose the various strands, bring them to Lindsey, who runs them through her machine, and then hands you a cone of yarn with however much you ask for. And then she sells it to you by the pound.

The process begins with selecting your strands. All of the ingredient yarns are on cones lining the walls.  yarnia-wall.jpg

There are cones of wool, cones of cotton, mohair, alpaca, acrylic and various novelty fibers. There are lots of different colors to choose from. And as you select, you put the various strands together and begin to see what you’ve got, and how you like it. You can make the yarn as thick or thin as you want…creating a nice lace weight or some much chunkier. Equally impressive is the price. Most the yarn is between $22 – $32 a pound, which comes out significantly cheaper than most of the yarn you might buy at a local yarn store. For reference, a pound is probably enough for a sweater.

While I was there, there were probably15 people through the store (I was there for half an hour to 45 minutes, probably). It seemed like the grand opening was hopping.    Everyone seemed pretty excited.

For those who don’t feel like creating their own yarn, there was a selection of pre-blended yarns available for sale:

yarnia-centerdisp.jpg

It was also great to to see some folks I knew in the store. One person recognized me from Ravelry, and I saw Aimee who showed up for knitting night at CubeSpace last week, and Larissa who has worked at CubeSpace occasionally.

It is possible that I picked up a little bit of yarn for a future project, but I think I might discuss that at a future point.

All in all it was a lovely way to spend part of a Shabbat afternoon.

A New Relationship With Knitting

I’ve come to a point in my life when I’m realizing I have to admit to something of a problem. I, like many knitters before me, have a yarn problem. I must have more of it. Unlike all too many knitters, however, I lack a huge stash of yarn (as of yet). But I have a plan.

I am a process knitter. I knit because I enjoy the act of knitting. I don’t have a huge attachment to my finished pieces, but am happy to give them away (for the most part). But…there is the little detail of buying the yarn. So, I’ve concluded that it may be time to begin to make my yarn habit more sustainable.

I’m beginning to make items which I will sell. Now, as any knitter can tell you, selling handknits is no way to make money. A pair of socks can take 20 hours or more to knit. The yarn often costs $15 – $20. No matter how lovely those socks are, you cannot sell them for an amount that will compensate for the work that goes into them. Therefore, they must be made with the understanding that they are being made for their own sake, and then sold not as a way to make money, but rather as a way to support a yarn habit.

I, as most knitters I know, believe that we imbue the objects we make with something of ourselves. That the intentions and moods with which we make the objects is in some way inherent in the object. That when we are making an object for someone we love, we are filling the object with love…if only to the extent that when the person we give it to wears it they will feel loved by us because they know we knit something for them. The most explicit example of this is what is called in the (non-Jewish) knitting world a prayer shawl in the Jewish tradition, a prayer shawl is an object worn while praying. In the knitting tradition, a prayer shawl is a shawl made while praying…often made for someone who is sick, and the idea is that the prayers and good thoughts are conveyed to the individual when they wear the shawl.

What, then, is the intention around items intended for sale? I’ve been working on a pair of flip-top mittens for sale. As I’ve been working on them, I’ve been noticing what I’ve been thinking and feeling. It has not been excitement over the money the mittens will bring in. It has not been disappointment over having to give up these mittens. There has been some sense of enjoyment of the yarn itself, and some sense of excitement about the yarns this will lead to in the future. And a sense of curiosity over who will wear my work. (Okay, admittedly there is a little stress over the fact that I’m getting ever nearer to making the mitten shell which requires US #2 DPNs (double pointed needles) and I haven’t made it out to the yarn store to purchase them yet–but without that bit of worry over something knitterly it wouldn’t be knitting, would it?).

So, as I continue to knit on this project, and as I get ready for some larger projects I’m hoping to sell, I’m so far feeling good about this, and looking forward to see where it goes.

Oh, and because you can’t blog about knitting without pictures: Broad Street Mitten

And the pattern is the Broad Street Mitten at Knitty.com.