Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Still the Best Husband Ever

My husband, Mike, recently returned from a week in Porto, Portugal, to study the wine industry, meet with industry leaders, and to eat and drink very well. I did not go because of the short duration of the trip but, based on his experiences, it sounds Portugal is an excellent destination.

Once he had his plans in place, the question he asked was, “Where is the nearest yarn shop?” A little online research and — voilà! — Ovelha Negra, which translates to Black Sheep. It was a short, but wet, walk from his hotel. He has been in enough yarn shops to know what to ask for: yarn with a local connection, produced locally or dyed locally.

He came home with two skeins of fingering yarn dyed by a local artisan, who also, coincidentally, works in the wine industry. He chose two colors that represent tawny port and ruby port (he also came home with bottles of port to drink). He had a conversation with the shop owner, who kindly gave me a gift of a Portuguese knitting pin that you can see attached to the ruby skein. I think the tawny skein will be a scarf for him; the ruby, a scarf for me.

Fortunately, I have the book Portuguese Style of Knitting by Andrea Wong. I plan to read it more closely and try it.

What goes better with port (and knitting) than chocolate? He also brought home some Portuguese chocolate to match with the wine.

Wonder where his/our travels will take us next? No doubt, somewhere with wine, yarn, and chocolate.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Finally, one FO!

Well, I have finished a few things but am behind on photos and, obviously, sharing.

This was an unexpected surprise. I wear it a lot more than I thought I would. It is the Cedar Leaf Shawlette by Alana Dakos. Because if the leaf motif, I decided that it had to be green (maybe I am too literal sometimes).

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool; 2 skeins; 45% wool, 35% silk, 20% nylon. I like the results with this yarn but I did not enjoy knitting with it. It did not flow easily through my fingers. That said, I would use it again in the right project.

Needles: US7

Yes, I would make it again. Probably in green again.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I Have Been Away

I did not realize just how long I had been away from this blog. Sheesh. But I have a good reason. I was in the Western Cape of South Africa in January. My first trip to South Africa whet my appetite for a return some day.

One of the highlights was visiting Carlé at Nurturing Fibres. Her yarns are gorgeous; I especially like her sock yarn and laceweight. Equally impressive is her commitment to her community and to women’s empowerment. If you cannot make it to Philadelphia (but you really should; it is a charming farm village), you can find her yarns at Spinknits at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Carlé and some of her yarns.
South Africa mohair at Spinknits.
Stash from South Africa.
We also visited the Barrydale Handweavers. I would show you what I bought but Christmas presents are involved so I cannot. The alpaca in my South Africa stash is from Barrydale Handweavers from a producer in Wellington. Barrydale is another charming town that is worth a visit.

Want to know more about our trip to South Africa? Click on the Travel link in the list of Other Interests on the right.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas!

When my cousin was small, I knit him a Christmas stocking. When he married, I knit a stocking for his wife. Last year, when their third child was born, I knit a Christmas stocking for my newest cousin. Since then my uncle (the grandfather) has been after me to knit stockings for the older children. He gave me very dramatic sob stories about these poor, sad, stocking-less children. Actually, the children were not stocking-less; they just did not have stockings from me. So, with a sigh, I set off on more stockings.

Both stockings are made from Cascade 220, in green (8894), red (9404), blue (7818), and white (8505). Kate’s stocking also has some sparkly pink yarn from somewhere. I used US4 needles for the plain rounds and US5 for the pattern rounds because I tend to knit more tightly with two colors (probably because I do not do it that often and cannot manage my tension as well as with plain knitting). I prefer that the gauge on stockings to be a little tighter than on other knitting.

The designs I chose are from a variety of sources: a free Cascade stocking pattern; Eli’s Christmas Stocking by Meg Swansen, Schoolhouse Press Pattern #10; and Complete Book of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting by Sheila McGregor.

And here are all five stockings.

Fortunately, I was not asked to knit a stocking for the dog.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

For Bonnie

Earlier this year, in March, we went to Hood River and The Dalles in Oregon with our friends Bonnie and Richard for some wine research. We also paid a visit to Sporfarm to meet Patty’s Shetland sheep and shop in Patty’s studio. I told Bonnie and Richard I would knit a scarf or hat for each of them with their yarn selection. Richard chose a nice reddish yarn for a hat. Bonnie could not decide between two yarns so I told her to buy both.

After some consultation, Bonnie chose two of my favorite scarf patterns to highlight the beautiful colors in the yarns. One was a basic bow-tie scarf and the other the Landscape scarf.

We already are talking about another wine research trip in 2014. No doubt yarn will be involved as well.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Library Expansion

My good friends at Amazon often notify me of knitting books they are sure I need in my library. Often, they are books I already have in my library or books that I do not want in my library.

But this one — this one! — caught my eye. I have five other Tessa Lorant books, but I had never seen this one. It is a facsimile reprint of the original.

The book describes these Victorian quilts, which we might call counterpanes or bedspreads. The designs range from relatively simple to quite complex. Many have puffed leaf motifs. The book also has a few pretty edgings. Everything is written out, no charts, but they should be easy enough to chart.

Will I make a bedspread? No. But the designs would make beautiful pillows or bags or an heirloom baby coverlet or lap robe. They may even be suitable for incorporation into a shawl or sweater.

The book directed me to the publisher’s website, The Thorn Press. There I found another book I had never heard of and that I must have, Knitted Lace Doilies. Looking around the Internet, I see copies are few and far between — and very expensive.

But the website states that the the publisher plans to publish facsimile editions of the Heritage of Knitting books, including the doily book, and invites people to indicate interest in any of the titles. I sent my e-mail immediately: Please reprint the doily book.

And who should respond? Tessa Lorant Warburg her very self. Wow! What a thrill to have an e-mail exchange with someone I have admired for some years.

She made no promises about when the doily book might be published, but I am hoping for sooner instead of later.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Australia Stash

I just returned from three weeks in Australia, first to attend Savour Australia, and then for some vacation and stash enhancement. The stash enhancement was limited because I was looking for Australian yarn made in Australia. Still lots of sheep in Australia, and lots of Australian wool, but not much Australian-made yarn. I was told that most Australian yarn mills have closed, and that the Australian wool is processed in China (as it is at Morris & Sons, very nice shops in Melbourne and Sydney) and perhaps other places. Some people said you could sometimes find some hand-spun at local markets but I was not that lucky. But I am very happy with my small Aussie stash.

This silk was an unexpected surprise. I found it at an art show at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. Elizabeth Calnan is best known as a weaver and also dyes silk yarns. Her weaving is gorgeous (be sure to look at the gallery on her web site). This skein is 1,000 meters of 20/2 hand-dyed mulberry silk. Love the colors.

Another purchase was this hand-dyed DK-weight yarn from augustbird in the Adelaide Hills (Adelaide Hills also has some great wineries). I bought the yarn not in the Adelaide Hills but at the Stash Cupboard in Hobart, Tasmania. The yarn is 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon. Love the colors of this one too. Stash Cupboard did have some nice DK and fingering yarn produced in Tasmania but the colors did not sing to me, especially after seeing the augustbird colors.

Then, surprise of all surprises, size 100 thread, found in the unlikeliest of stores, Spotlight in Adelaide. Spotlight sells yarn and thread, plus all sorts of craft and home supplies. The yarn section was comparable maybe to Hobby Lobby, JoAnn, and Michael’s — nothing very exciting. Then I found the thread section, with loads and loads of threads, including the elusive size 100. Score!

In Melbourne, I was referred to L’uccello, a shop with all sorts of beautiful vintage items. It is the kind of shop that has so many interesting things you could spend all day exploring buttons, threads, ribbons, laces, and things you did not know you might really need. I had to buy these vintage Australian knitting needles, size 4mm.

Australian yarn shops are stocked with many familiar brands, such as Noro, Arucania, and Schoppel Wolle. The prices are a few dollars more per skein than you would expect to pay in the United States. But it is always fun to look, and all of the shopkeepers I met were extremely nice and helpful, as were the other Australians we met.

Overall, a successful wine-and-wool tour to Australia.