Tag Archive | rampant consumerism

Stash Enhancement Saturday: Overboard edition

Because I’ve been so busy with rehearsals and performances in recent months, I haven’t made it out to any local yarn stores.  That did not stop me.  Because I have the internet.

Normally I ignore the emails I get from yarn dyers and other internet yarn vendors, like Webs or KnitPicks.  I especially ignore the emails I get from Expression Fiber Arts, simply because Chandi’s yarn is so amazing.  Except for email with the weekly free pattern .  That one I always open.  Well, a few weeks ago, that free pattern email also featured some new yarn colorways that smacked me between the eyes.  So I went to the website and looked around.  Out came the credit card.  Results pictured below.  I offer you my photos and her photos, because the lighting in my craft room simply does not do her yarn justice.

 

Pearlescent Fingering, colorway “Hygge”

 

Pearlescent Fingering, colorway Beluga

 

Oasis Camel Silk Fingering, colorway Arches National Park

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Resilient Sock, colorway Butterbeer

For this one, you just get my pic.  By the time I took photos and checked the website, this colorway was sold out and Chandi’s photo was no longer available.  Believe me, this creamy yellow, pale gray, and even paler ecru colorway is even more gorgeous in person.

And finally, this:

 

Dewy DK, colorway Maple Fog

I’ve actually lusted after this colorway for a while, but every time I checked the website, she was either out of stock or she didn’t have a sweater quantity in stock.  So I emailed and asked when she would have it available again.  “How many skeins do you want?” she replied.  I told her.  “Okay, it will be ready in about 10 days. I’ll email you then.”  And she did.  I bought enough for a cardigan.  It’s going to be amazing.

And now I’m going back to ignoring her emails, possibly even the free pattern Friday emails.  Because my credit card bill is going to be amazing too.

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Stash confessions

Let’s see….last August was the most recent stash update.  And until yesterday, there really hadn’t been that many stash acquisitions.  Rehearsals got in the way of yarn shopping as well as yarn creating.  But yesterday made up for it.  Hoo boy.

Let’s start with some yarn I actually acquired a couple of years ago but didn’t put into Ravelry until a few months ago.

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Alpacas By The Falls Pure Alpaca, an undyed 100% alpaca light worsted/DK, purchased at a small town LYS in Alabama.  Each skein weighs about 115 grams, and my best guess on yardage is probably 200-220.  I really don’t know because the label doesn’t say.  This was a one-off production run by an Alabama alpaca farm, who has since decided that their alpacas are pets rather than products.  I found this out because, when I finally got around to putting it in the Ravelry stash a few months ago, I emailed the alpaca farm to ask them how much yardage was in each skein, and she emailed back with the information that she didn’t remember and they only made the one batch as an experiment. I adore the tweedy gray, but it’s kind of hairy and scratchy, so I imagine I’ll turn it into a sleeveless vest of some sort.

In February I had a photo shoot in downtown Lawrenceville, Georgia.  After the shoot, I couldn’t leave town without visiting The Yarn Garden, where I found this fabulous color combo that almost literally jumped off the shelf into my hands.

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Manos del Uruguay Alegría in colorways Nickel (the gray tonal) and Turmeric (that gorgeous golden yellow).  This yarn is going to become the Make Space cardigan by Veera Välimäki.

I renewed my Rowan subscription recently and received the appreciation gift in the mail a couple of weeks ago.

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Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted in Peacock.  There’s just enough of this to make a scarf and hat combo if I stay with a solid color.  I have leftover partial skeins of other 100% wool worsteds, though, so I could throw a bunch of colorways together to make a colorwork pullover or something.  We’ll see.  It’s a sturdy workhorse yarn, so I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

And then there was yesterday’s splurge.  My cohort in yarn crime Alice and I drove up to Gainesville for a coffee and yarn buy excursion.  Our target was a yarn store that had announced it was closing at the end of April.  Currently everything is 35% off.  The discount will be greater as the month wears on, but we wanted to get there before the stock was too picked over.  And we found some perfectly gorgeous stuff.

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Frabjous Fibers Cheshire Cat Fingering (Uncommon Nonsense collection) in colorway Flower Bed.  This one made me think of Monet’s Water Lilies.  Really generous yardage in this put-up — over 500 yards — so there may be enough to get a pullover or cardigan with short sleeves out of these two skeins.  April Come She Will is a possibility.  Or perhaps La Grasse Matinée.

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Malabrigo Silky Merino in colorways Ravelry Red and Vigo.  This will become a short-sleeved tee or cropped cardigan of some sort.  The Short-Sleeved Raglan Tee or The Girly Tee are both possibilities.

After a stop for a bottle of water, we drove back to Atlanta to visit a new yarn store, The Craftivist.  Here’s where I went a little mad in the MadelineTosh department.

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Tosh Merino Light in Winter’s Rest

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Tosh Merino Light in Purple Rain

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And Tosh Merino Light in Gracenotes.

I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m going to do with these, but the speckled colorways just screamed at me to take them home.  What’s a girl to do?

Go to the bookstore down the street, that’s what.  I’ve been intending to visit A Cappella Books ever since I moved to Atlanta over five years ago.  Since we drove right past it after leaving The Craftivist, we had to stop.  I picked up a novel that had been on my wish list, American War by Omar El Akkad, plus another novel I hadn’t heard of but had enjoyed a previous book by the same author, The Changeling by Victor LaValle.

So, it was an expensive day, but a happy day.  Four, count ’em, four small businesses supported (our coffee and mid-morning snack came from an excellent non-chain coffeehouse, Midland Station), so feeling a little virtuous about that.

But I’m hiding next month’s Amex bill from the spouse.

Latest stash additions

It’s been all books and weight loss around here recently.  Let’s jump back into yarnie stuff and look at the new(ish) stash for a change.

Laceweight yarn has caught my attention in a big way.  The last several skeins I’ve purchased have all been laceweight.

100_4790 (2)Juniper Moon Farm Findley Dappled in colorway Rost Turkey is a shimmering silk/merino blend.  Each skein is 798 yards, so there’s enough here for a cardigan or long sleeve top.  I going to give the colorway naming people the benefit of the doubt and believe they meant to spell it that way.

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Shibui Knits Cima in colorway Lumen.  This yarn was on clearance at the LYS so I bought every skein they had in this colorway.  1900+ yards of alpaca/wool laceweight that simply glows. I see this as a drapey A-line tunic to wear over black leggings with black suede boots.

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Swans Island Natural Colors Collection Merino Silk Lace in colorways (from top to bottom) Ivory, Sand Dollar, and Sea Glass.  These beauties are destined for a long-sleeve “fade” pullover, mostly likely Little Bird by Veera Välimäki.

 

Stash additions

100_4726 (2)Been on a bit of a stash binge recently.  Let’s start with my favorite new acquisition.  Expression Fiber Arts Superwash Merino Silk Pearlescent Fingering in the colorway Stardust.  Isn’t that gorgeous?  It’s soft and silky and soooo luxurious.  I bought this with no idea what to do with it; I saw it on Facebook and it yelled at me really really loudly so I had to have it.  With two skeins totaling 1100 yards, though, I imagine it will become a cardigan or maybe a lacy tunic-length top.

100_4753 (2)This was another yarn I saw on Facebook and had to have. It’s from OnTheRound, Everyday Fingering in colorway Robin’s Egg.  My photo doesn’t do justice to the colorway, so click the link to see a better representation.  Although I love the colorway, I was initially a little disappointed in the yarn itself.  After the smooth silkiness of the Expression Fiber Arts skeins, it seemed a little rough, but after a while I realized that it’s no more rough than any other 100% merino fingering with a really tight twist.  So it will make sturdy socks or (given that I have 850 yards) a long-wearing and warm cropped or lacy cardigan.

100_4751 (2)While I was on the website for OnTheRound, I ran across this other colorway of the same yarn, Speckled Time Travelers.  Again, my photo is crap, so click through the link for the dyer’s photos.  This skein will most likely become socks.

100_4750 (2)Finally, some yarn I acquired sort of by default. A friend wanted me to help her knit some brain hats for one of her friends and his daughter who are attending the March for Science on April 22.  I made the hat in just a few hours and then considered the best option for the yards and yards of I-cord required.  Michaels (or was it Jo-Ann?) had an Embellish-Knit I-cord maker on clearance, so I scooped it up and tried it out. The results were, um, non-existent.  This yarn, Trendsetters’ Forzetta (colorway, Ashes of Roses), is a single-ply worsted, and the little hooks in the I-cord maker just tore it apart.  Next I tried a gray acrylic plied worsted I had in stash, but that yarn was too big for the I-cord maker to work properly. (Apparently, it’s best with DK or smaller yarns.)  With time running out, I told my friend there was no way I could get this hat done before the march if I had to make the I-cord the slow way.  She said she was having the same trouble; thus, we bagged the project, and she told me to keep the yarn for my trouble.  With about 3 1/2 skeins left (roughly 500 yds — more if I frog the already finished but ugly hat), I figure it will become a warm winter set with a scarf, hat, and mitts.

Stash enhancement Saturday: First new stash since June 2016!

I’ve been on a self-imposed yarn diet lately.  It wasn’t on purpose; I just was so busy taking care of daily living stuff and knitting from stash that I hadn’t been to an LYS since last June.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, a girlfriend posted photos of her latest yarn store binge on Facebook.  I fell head over heels in love with one of the skeins she posted and had to buy it for myself.  Witness below:

100_4689-2Shepherd Sock by Lorna’s Laces, colorway “Aslan”.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  It knits up in stripes, and I have 870 yds (2 skeins), so I’m thinking maybe a lacy cropped cardi?  We’ll see what pattern presents itself and screams for this yarn.

Speaking of screaming, on Thursday I had to go by The Needle Nook to drop off a couple of pussyhats for today’s March in DC and wandered through the store while waiting for the clerk to photocopy more of the little cards to attach to each hat.  A couple of skeins of Malabrigo shouted at me, so they had to come home, too.

100_4694-2Malabrigo Sock, colorway 139 “Pocion”.  Destined for socks if I can find the right pattern.

100_4692-2Malabrigo Mechita, colorway 850 “Archangel”.  No idea what I’ll do with this one.  It’s a single with no twist, so socks aren’t a good idea.  Will probably end up as a shawlette.

Stash Enhancement Saturday: Moon Pie Edition

Bell Buckle MuralA couple of weeks ago, my partner in crime Alice and I took a little road trip to the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

Bell Buckle, population less than 500, is a wide spot in the road that, if it weren’t for this silly paean to the quintessential Southern snack, would be utterly unremarkable and garner no attention whatsoever.  It’s a two-street town, centered at the intersection of a couple of rural two-lane blacktop highways on the way to nowhere.

This isn’t to say the town lacks a certain charm.  There’s a quilt painted into the road on the main drag.

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Image copyright Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce

Plus the sheer whimsy of a festival devoted to a now fairly obscure carbonated cola and a chocolate-covered marshmallow sandwich speaks for itself, yes?

The parade was cute.  Alice took these photos:

RC Cola Moon Pie SnackNaturally, we indulged in the delicacy being celebrated.  I can’t remember the last time I had a Moon Pie, much less an RC Cola.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw RC Cola in the grocery store.  Of course, I seldom shop the soda aisle, so it may be there, hidden somewhere among all the Pepsi and Coke products.  Although I remember preferring RC Cola to Coke or even Pepsi when I was a kid, these days I’m a Pepsi drinker, if I drink a cola.  (Unsweetened iced tea is my preferred beverage at restaurants; Dr. Pepper or root beer otherwise.)  By the way, if you’re at all interested in RC Cola’s history and, specifically, how the Cola Wars of the 80s and the battle over artificial sweeteners affected the brand, take a gander at this Mental Floss article from April 2016.  Also, if you can find the back issue, Rolling Stone published a big article on the Cola Wars sometime in the late 1980s.  (This subject fascinates me, if you haven’t noticed.)

After the parade, we wandered around the festival booths.  There were the usual souvenir T-shirt stands, kettle corn and hot dog stands, “vintage” or “bohemian” clothing booths, plus a couple of guys selling sunglasses and ball caps.  We stopped at the hand-made dog treat booth where Alice indulged in special yum-yums for her baby.  And we both stopped dead in our tracks at the booth with the yard critters made out of sheet metal.

Just look.

Metal Yard MonstersAren’t they precious?  One of the triceratops belongs to Alice; the other triceratops and the flying pig (I know!) are mine.  (They’re currently in the garage because I can’t make up my mind where to put them in the back yard.)  This booth had all sorts of other critters I liked: flying pigs on stakes so you could position them above your shrubbery; giraffes; a T-Rex; so much more.  I should have taken a photo of the booth itself, but I was so enraptured by the dinos and the pigs that I forgot.

By now you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought this was a stash enhancement Saturday post.  Where’s the new stash?”

Silk Traveler 1Wait no more.  After a few hours, we were done with the festival, and we headed up the road a little further to Murfreesboro and The Knaughty Knitter.  Nice little store, easy access, good parking, sufficient and varied stock.  I came away with two skeins of indulgence, Meadowcroft DyeworksSilk Traveler, in the Pisgah National Forest colorway.  It’s gorgeous.  I’m going to pair it with a skein of purple or maybe a green sockweight that I already own and turn it into a lace cardigan.  Eventually.  (In reality, these two skeins will probably sit in stash for about three years before I do something with them.)

In other news, I finally finished the Wildflower Cardigan.  Photos and a blog entry coming soon.  Also, more book reviews.

New York, Day 5

Me in HarlemThursday was our last full day in New York. Being tired of waiting in lines for things, this was the day we planned to hit some of the little spots we wanted to see. First thing after breakfast, we took the subway to the nearest store of the chain that employs my husband. He wanted to take a look at how it was laid out for comparison’s sake, and he wanted to be able to tell his employees he saw the Big Apple version. Said store happened to be in Harlem.

Said store was really no different than spouse’s store.  I bought a little sunhat because we were going to be outdoors most of the day, and the top of my head was already sunburnt and tender from our long walk on Day 1 and the Statue of Liberty tour on Day 2.  Note to self: remember to take a hat next time you plan to play tourist outdoors.

Knitty CityWe headed back to the Upper West Side next, and found the yarn store.  Stop shaking your head.  Of course I had to visit a New York yarn store!  This was Knitty City on 79th Street, and it was a perfectly lovely shop, with a helpful and friendly staff.  The dinosaurs browsed while Kathi and I chatted; I wanted to buy local yarn, and she showed me several Project Bags 2options.  I walked away with two skeins of hand-dyed Chelsea Sock (Yellow, Chrysanthemum) from the local Nooch Fiber, which is 80% superwash Merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon; and one skein of a MadTosh Merino Light colorway (Urban Flagstone) dyed exclusively for this shop.  Also in my cool shopping-cum-project bag was another project bag, and three pattern books (the Interpretations series, Volumes 1-3) from two designers (Joji Locatelli and Veera Välimäki) I’d never heard of but fell madly in love with their work.

InterpretationsThese books are chock full of elegant (in all meanings, but especially the scientific sense of “gracefully concise and simple”) designs for cardigans, pullovers, and accessories, with clean lines and uncomplicated silhouettes, with careful attention paid to details like cables or lace or colorwork, and all beautiful and eminently wearable. It looks like this is an annual series, so I’ll be keeping my eye out for Volume IV, which I expect will be released sometime in 2017.

Oh, before I forget, here are the yarn-browsing dinosaurs.

Dinos Buy Yarn 2

NYPL and MeNext on our list was the New York Public Library: specifically the Stephen A. Schwarzman branch.  The dinosaurs and I had a hankering to visit the lions, Patience and Fortitude.  By this time, spouse and I were getting pretty good at figuring out which trains and subway stops we needed, so we made our way to Bryant Park and had lunch al fresco.

Have I mentioned the weather was absolutely spectacular that entire week?  It was no different Thursday.  I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the shade, eating a sandwich and fruit from one of the park vendors, watching the passersby, and enjoying the fragrance of the flowers.  The park was crowded like everywhere we’d been, but enjoyable nonetheless.  Even with the crowds, it was relaxing to sit and commune with a little bit of greenery in the midst of all that concrete and steel.

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After we finished our meal, we wandered around the park and eventually made our way to the front of the library.  And there they were, the great stone lions.  These lions have fascinated me for ages.  I once read a fantasy/SF novel — can’t remember the name; in fact, the following tidbit is the only detail I remember of the novel — that took place in a devastated future New York, in which the lions had come to life and prowled the city, doing no harm, of course, but acting as protectors of the downtrodden and weak. So that’s how I think of them, always.

Spouse took my photo with Fortitude, on the north edge of the steps.  (Patience lives on the south edge.)  The dinos had their photo taken too.

Next stop was Tender Buttons, the button store on the Upper East Side that I told you about in this Work In Progress Wednesday post a couple of weeks ago.  Spouse is a tolerant man, but his tolerance extends only so far, and he’d already borne through an extended yarn shop visit this day; thus I didn’t spend nearly as much time in this little shop as I would have done had I been by myself.  I saw enough to know I want to go back there every time I need buttons.  Sadly, that’s not feasible.

Wall StreetOur last stop of the day (nyuk, nyuk, get it?) was Wall Street.  This was especially for spouse.  Long ago, in another life, before he took up retail management as a career, he worked for an investment firm where he guided his clients’ purchases of equities such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, and so forth.  He doesn’t really miss that rat race but he has some fond memories.  That being the case, he wanted to make a pilgrimage to the New York Stock Exchange.  And here he is, in his Master of the Universe pose.

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Isn’t he the cutest?   We saw the bull, too, because it would be un-American to go to Wall Street and not pay homage to the bull.

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After all these adventures, we were plumb tuckered out and went back to the hotel to crash.  Later we realized we hadn’t taken ourselves out to a fancy dinner for our anniversary, so spouse found a little Italian restaurant within easy walking distance of the hotel, and that’s where we went.  La Piccola Cucina is tiny, maybe ten tables at most; the atmosphere was calm and soothing with lovely instrumental music playing at a just-right volume over the speakers; our server was attentive but not hovering; and the food was divine.

One more day for this New York adventure.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Oops, I did it again.

I have new pretties to show you for “Stash Enhancement Saturday”.  It’s all Alice’s fault, of course.  I’ve mentioned Alice, right?  She’s been my partner in yarn crime ever since I taught her to knit a couple of years ago.  We go out for coffee, we end up at a yarn store.  It’s inevitable.  It’s a good thing our respective schedules keep up from getting together more than about once a month.

Sprout Spanish Moss 3Our coffee date in February resulted in me taking her for a first-time visit to The Needle Nook, one of my favorite yarn shops in Atlanta. I managed to limit myself to one skein of sock yarn.  That bit of loveliness is Sprout by The Fiber Seed, a “heavy” sock yarn — heavy in the sense that it’s slightly denser than your usual 90% merino, 10% nylon blend, but it still works up at 32 stitches in 4 inches.  The colorway is “Spanish Moss”.  Isn’t that a lovely name for a lovely hand-dyed yarn?

Aura Northern Lights 2The next time we went out was in March to the Atlanta Spring Fling, an annual event held in the ballroom at one of the hotels at the north edge of town. This was a dedicated yarn event, so new acquisitions were no surprise.

Aura Sweet Violets 2 The two colorways at right were bundled together as a “kit”, more or less, but the shawl pattern they were intended for was not part of the deal.  I bought them anyway because they’re spectacular together and equally gorgeous on their own.  The yarn is a 65% superwash merino/35% bamboo sockweight called “Aura” from Silver Threads and Golden Needles, and clocks in at a generous 560 yards per skein.  The greenish colorway is called “Northern Lights”; and the purple is “Sweet Violets”.  I haven’t decided if I’ll use them together or separately.  If history is any indication, they’ll marinate in stash for at least a couple of years before I make any sort of decision about their fate.

1502-Birdsong-cover-rav_small2The other Spring Fling purchase was Birdsong, a pattern book from Classic Elite.  Twelve pretty patterns, mostly pullovers and cardigans, designed for use with cotton and mostly cotton yarns.  I’m totally in love with the cabled top shown on the cover; I even have yarn suitable for it in stash.  The cabled V-neck cardigan with short sleeves and a casual rolled-edge hoodie are going into my Ravelry queue as “must-makes”, and a couple others are on the bubble.

The news that Hancock Fabrics is going out of business and closing all of their stores was surprising.  I’ve shopped at Hancock Fabrics for decades, and had no idea the company was in trouble.  Of course, I seldom pay attention to business news, so my surprise isn’t surprising.  Anyway, last week was the beginning of their clearance sale, and I went to check out the bargains.  I rarely sew these days, but I wandered through the aisles of fabric to see if something jumped off the rack into my arms.  Nothing appealed.  I looked through the patterns; nothing spoke to me there.  I knew most of their yarn wouldn’t be to my taste — I have become a yarn snob, and I’m not ashamed to admit it — but I hoped to find one of the acrylic brands that I like to use for blankets.  No luck there either.  Just when it looked like Hancock wouldn’t get any of my money that day, I wandered into the button aisle.  Success!

Purply Buttons 1These abstract purplish floral buttons screamed at me, so I grabbed all three cards.  They’re 1.25″ in diameter, made out of a layered laminate-type material.  I envision using them on a flyaway cardigan, maybe, or even a rustic button-up cowl.

The button aisle held other temptations but I held back; my time was a little short and I had somewhere else to go.  Hancock wasn’t done raiding my wallet just yet, though.  On my way to the check-out line, I passed by the rack of books and magazines.  One of the Interweave publications I had eyed over the last couple of NewVintageLaceyears jumped off that rack and into my hands, so I brought it home with me as well.  New Vintage Lace by Andrea Jurgrau is chock full of gorgeous lace accessories, mostly shawls, based on vintage doily patterns, and even several doilies themselves.  My favorite of the patterns is Diospyros, a rectangular stole; and I’m rather taken with the half-circle Blue Dahlia shawl, as well.  The Clematis and the Peaseblossom hats will probably end up on my gift-making list.  (“Peaseblossom” as a pattern name makes me smile:  it’s also the name of a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I never played one of the fairies, but I’ve been Hippolyta and Philostrate.)

Finally, there’s the membership gift that came when I renewed my Rowan subscription:  the scrumptious and versatile Rowan Colourspun in the Hubberholme colorway.  Because I managed to buy two years rather than just one year (and duplicated my subscription), there are three more balls of this same colorway to come.  And Rowan’s excellent customer service department fixed Colourspun Hubberholme 2my goof, extended my subscription through next year as pre-paid, and didn’t make me return the duplicate issue of Rowan 59.  If I weren’t already impressed with this company, I certainly would be now.

I gave the duplicate magazine to Alice.

I have just one or two more book reviews to write and then I’ll be caught up.  I hope to get those done in the next few days and schedule them for publication.  Our anniversary trip is coming up shortly and we’re headed to New York for almost a week.  I can hardly wait.  Along with the usual tourist attractions, I have a line on a vintage button store near Central Park, and I hope to visit at least one LYS while in the Big Apple.  If the spouse doesn’t mind.  Probably even if he does.

New pretty string, plus other life events

I went to California for my annual weekend with the girls over the MLK holiday.

Westward Bound 2

Westward bound.

I flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles on Friday, picked up the rental car at LAX, and drove out to Kim’s house near Chino.  Traffic was unbelievable, even for LA.  You need to know this:  I learned to drive in California and spent nearly 10 years negotiating Bay Area traffic before leaving the state in the early 90s.  And I’ve been living in Atlanta for over three years now.   I am no stranger to backed-up freeways that move at a glacial pace for miles at a time.  Usually these slowdowns ease off and speed up after a few miles, seven or eight at most; and even in the middle of it, you can usually count on moving along at 20 or 30 mph for a good distance before needing to slow back down to 10 mph or so.

But this was something else indeed.

When I picked up the rental car and plugged Kim’s address into the GPS on my phone, the navigation program told me the trip would take approximate 1 hr and 40 minutes.  “Cool,” thought I, “I’ll get there right about dinner time as planned,” and I set out on my way.  Got on the first freeway; it’s a little backed up, which I expected since it was so close to the airport.  As I exited that freeway, I could see from my position on the elevated LA Trafficramp that the second freeway was moving slower than the freeway I was leaving.  Hm.  Well, it was getting close to the 5 PM rush hour, but I should still be ahead of most of the traffic.

Then I hit the 91.

Oh. Dear. God.  I had died and gone to Traffic Hell.  Cars moved along at 10-15 mph when we were lucky; most of the time, it was 4 mph or a dead stop.  For at least 20 miles.  I kept looking at the estimated time of arrival on the navigator, and it kept getting pushed back further and further…

Three and a half hours after picking up the car, I arrived at Kim’s house.  Even she was surprised at the travel time, and she lives there.  We later decided the excessively heavy traffic volume was due to the Monday holiday, and people leaving work early to head for the mountains or the lake for a long weekend.

Curses be upon their heads.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early and headed west to spend some time in Corona del Mar and Newport Beach: a botanical garden, lunch, and a trip to Balboa Island.

I bought some pretty jewelry at the botanical gardens gift shop.  The earrings are for me.  The necklace will be a gift.

And I bought yarn Saturday.

“Wait a minute!  I thought you said you weren’t going to buy new yarn!”  I hear you exclaim.

Remember? I gave myself an out.  If I went on a trip, I was allowed to purchase souvenir yarn.  So after lunch, we found a nearby yarn store (thank you, Google) and I bought these pretty things:

SLO Bunch 2016 Acquisition 2

Left to right, that’s one skein of MadTosh Twist Light, one skein of Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere, and one skein of MadTosh Merino Light.  Both MadTosh skeins will be socks, eventually (I think), and the Smooshy is destined for a lacy shawlette.

My friends were rather impressed with the yarn store (Sheared Sheep in Newport Beach), and next year’s big adventure may involve me teaching them all to knit.  Speaking of my friends, here we are at Sherman Gardens.

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I love these women with all my heart.  We’ve been friends since we were about 11 years old.

After yarn, we took the ferry to Balboa Island and had a nice walk.  By then, it was late afternoon, so we ferried back and hurried over to the Newport Pier to watch the sunset.

Sunset on Newport Beach 2

Leaving LA 5

Then we drove back to Kim’s house for dinner and the annual slide show of what we all did since our last get-together.  Sunday morning, we had one last walk on the river trail near Kim’s house, and then I had to get to the airport to catch my plane.  Thank goodness the traffic Sunday wasn’t anywhere nearly as awful as it had been Friday night, and I made it to the rental car return and subsequently to my departure gate at LAX with hours to spare.

Hours.

But LAX has free wi-fi, so all was well.

The flight was fully booked.  Let me tell you, there’s nothing like hearing the gate attendant announce the flight is “completely full” to engender gratitude for that splurge on a first-class seat.  Those seats are soooo much more comfortable than steerage, I mean, economy.

So long, Los Angeles.  See you next year, maybe, unless (a) we decide to go north to Michelle’s parents’ beach house in, um, Marin County, I think, or (b) they all come to my house in Atlanta.  (Either option is fine with me, by the way.)

FO Friday: 2015 in Review, Yarn Edition

So here it is, January 1, 2016, the start of a brand new year.  As is my custom, I’ll start the new year by taking a look back at the old.  And, because today is Friday, this look back will include all the FOs that haven’t been seen yet because, um, Christmas.  In fact, let’s start with that first.  You can click on each of the pics to be taken to the Ravelry project page for all yarn and pattern details.

Two of my colleagues had babies near the end of the year.  Colleague number one received a version of what has become my go-to quickie baby blanket, the Great Granny, from the sadly defunct magazine, Crochet Today.  This one was made with acrylic worsted left over from the Tunisian Terror.

Jason's Granny 2

Colleague number two received something I called the Jets Stroller Blanket, from another Crochet Today pattern.  This was also a repeat use of the pattern: I made my mother a larger version of this blanket several years ago.  Why “Jets Stroller Blanket”?  My colleague is a huge New York Jets fan; he was expecting a baby boy, so naturally said boy will become a Jets fan (unless he suffers through a major teenage rebellion phase, but that’s years away, so let’s not worry about it); therefore, the color scheme of the blanket is the Jets’ team colors.  This is made with a chunky washable wool that feels marvelous.

Aaron's Baby Blanket 3

A young friend (the woman who was the stage manager of the play I did in May) had a birthday late in the year.  She is a big Harry Potter aficionado, so I found out her Hogwarts House and made her a Gryffindor Scarf for her birthday.  This is my own pattern because I couldn’t find one I liked that I could knit fast enough (I found out about her birthday late late late).  I haven’t decided if I’ll write it up and put it on Ravelry — there are so many other Hogwarts scarves out there already.  Regardless, she loved it, and that made me happy.  The yarn is Universal’s Uptown Worsted, which is fast becoming my preferred acrylic now that Bernat Berella 4 has been discontinued.  (I borrowed my husband’s college robes and mortarboard for the picture.  You must imagine him rolling his eyes while shooting.)

Gryffindor Scarf 3

Now let’s take a look at the Christmas gifts.  I started working on gifts early in the year — and have posted blog entries about several finished projects already — but even with that head start, I had to rush rush rush to finish the projects shown here, and a couple of them didn’t get finished until the weekend AFTER Christmas.  Oops.

First up is the Saroyan Scarf, a free pattern made using Cascade 220 Superwash in a brilliant red.  I like making these crescent scarves knit from side to side.  The knitting is more manageable when done along the short edge, not to mention the ease of casting on.

Saroyan 1

Then there’s the Gansey Cap from Vogue Fall 2015, using Cascade Longwood in Navy.  The Longwood is an Aran superwash, silky soft and perfect for people who, while not allergic to wool, may have sensitive skin and get itchy with wool worn right next to their skin.  This wool is not itchy in the least.  It may become my new 100% wool hat yarn.

Gansey Watch Cap 4

The Harald Watch Cap is an Elsebeth Lavold pattern that kept my interest the whole time I worked on it.  I had to pay close attention to all those crossing cables.  Unfortunately, the photographs turned out like crap, so you can’t really see the intricate detail in the finished hat.  The yarn is from Copper Corgi Fiber Studio and is a deep chocolate brown worsted that somehow showed up as nearly burgundy when photographed.

Harald Watch Cap 6

In another photograph fail, this striped watch cap (using Ann Budd’s Basic Hat pattern) is made from the same yarn as the Jets Stroller Blanket shown above, although you’d never guess from the picture.

Striped Watch Cap 2

I learned the braided yarn technique while making the Brim Braid Hat (an Interweave Knits pattern).  I also economized a bit by using Cascade 220 Superwash left over from previous projects.

Braided Brim Cap 1

I used Cascade Longwood again, in a bright blue, for the Vermeer Hat (free pattern if you’re a Rowan member).   The pattern also includes fingerless mitts with the same cable pattern, so you can knit a matching set if you wish.

Vermeer 4

Back to the Cascade 220 Superwash for the Windsor Hat, another free pattern from Rowan — part of their 2012 Jubilee Collection to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s 60th year on the throne.

Windsor 1

Finally, I pulled out an old old finished scarf that had never been blocked and plopped it into the gift pile.  The yarn, as best as I can remember, was Plymouth Encore, and the pattern is the Forever Scarf from Interweave Knits.

Forever in Camo 1.JPG

And that’s it for the FOs.  Well, at least the FOs that can be shared.  I actually finished a project today but it hasn’t been blocked or photographed, so we’ll save it for another blog post.

Now for the rest of the year in yarn.

Projects completed in 2015: 19 total, and every single one of them a gift for someone else.  I didn’t make one single thing for myself this year.  If I have to make a New Year’s resolution, it’s that 2016 will be the year of selfish knitting.

Techniques learned:  The braided brim technique shown on one of the caps above, which involved two colors in the same row, convinced me that, yes, I can indeed handle Fair Isle.

Yarn used:  This is the reason I use Knit Meter.  The visual representation is cool, plus it’s easier to keep track in one spot, especially since it does the math for you.

Yarn purchased:   59 skeins of lusciousness, including a couple of skeins of 100% cashmere and several more skeins of cashmere blends.  A number of yarn stores within a reasonable drive of Atlanta closed their doors and put their stock on sale at a deep discount.  My friend Alice and I went hog wild.  Plus I went on a couple of trips.  I always have to buy local yarn when on a trip.  *sigh*  I don’t even want to add up the yardage acquired.  Another friend and I were discussing our stashes recently and she figures that, if I never bought another yard, and if I knit at the rate of three sweaters or seven small projects (such as scarves and socks) per year, I have sufficient yarn to last the next 40 years.  I’m in my mid 50s, so that’s enough yarn for the rest of my life.  Personally, I think I’m good for more knitting per year than that (ahem, 19 projects this year!), so let’s call it a 20-year stash.  I’m ready for the apocalypse,or retirement, at the very least.

I can’t find anyone to link to for an FO Friday round-up.  If I thought I had enough self-discipline to manage such an undertaking, I’d start one myself.  If next week is the same, I’ll investigate further.  Perhaps an automated post with a “Mr. Linky” set-up might work.

Stay tuned, please.  A project planning post is forthcoming in the next day or two, as is a post about the year in books.

Oh, yeah, and Happy New Year!