Monday, May 12, 2008

New Hampshire Sheel & Wool Festival 2008

Had a lovely time at the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival yesterday, and wanted to share my few but carefully selected purchases.

First came these buttons. They're handpainted in South Africa, and just lovely. I don't have a project in mind for them yet, but somehow they called to me and I couldn't leave without them. They could go with something pink, which is definitely me. ;-) But if I decide to be a bit more dignified (and boring), they could go on something cream-colored, or black. I've found myself drawn toward interesting buttons lately, which reminds me of the wooden button cask my grandmother used to have. Many times my sister and I made necklaces of buttons, being entertained for endless hours. I think it's time to start my own button collection!

My next purchase was a lovely shawl pin, purchased from The Elegant Ewe's booth (from Concord, NH). It's a beautiful pink shell pin that can be worn as a square, or a diamond. I like the diamond idea better[,] but it could go either way. It's a lightweight pin so will work well on delicate shawls. I never thought about the weight of a shawl pin when I acquired my first one, only to get it home and find it was too heavy for some of my lightest-weight shawls. So this one is a welcome addition to my collection.

Also from The Elegant Ewe I purchased this beautiful glass shawl pin, black and silver, very classy. I've never been a gold woman, give me silver (or white gold) all the way. Don't wear gold jewelry, so I don't really want gold on a shawl pin, either. Only problem: this shawl pin came with a wooden stick. Well, the brown wood just didn't look right with the black and silver pin--like mixing gold and silver. I asked if there were a different stick to use, and they graciously swapped it out for a black one from one of the pink shell shawl pins, so that made me a very happy camper! And definitely a future repeat customer.

And finally, the yarn. :-) I was really looking for lace yarn this year. I searched high and low, and was disappointed to find very little of it in evidence. I don't know if it was just in short supply this year, or if previous years didn't have much either as this is the first time I deliberately searched it out. Finally, when I was nearly ready to give up and go home, I found this gorgeous 80% alpaca, 20% silk lace yarn from Ball and Skein. I bought two skeins in the "blues" colorway, enough to make the shawl I was shopping for, from the "Victorian Lace Today" book.

Anyone else go to the Festival? What did you buy? Inquiring minds want to know!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Needle, Needle, Who's Got The Needle?

I was just chatting with a friend about knitting needles, and how no matter how many of them you own, you never seem to have the size you need when you're about to start a project. For me, that's often because I'm a startophobic...i.e., I start multiple projects and have many going at one time. So while I may own needles in the correct size, the odds are they're already engaged in an ongoing WIP (that's work-in-progress, a writing term but I think it works for knitting also).

Until recently, size (and perhaps length) was my only concern with knitting needles. I had a bunch of needles from when I was a child (too many years ago to recount), and they were almost all aluminum. Susan Bates and Boye, mostly, I think. With a pair or two of colorful plastic ones thrown in for good measure. That was all there was back then, so you didn't have much choice. And while recently I've heard praise for different types of wooden needles, other varieties of plastics, various metals and even glass, I figured, heck, aluminum works fine for me.

But then I started a lace shawl, and found I kept dropping stitches when trying to do K2tog or even K3tog. The needles were just too darned slippery, and the tips weren't quite sharp enough. Also, the taper was too short and wide. I whined to my LYS owner about this and she suggested I try out Bryspun Needles. She even let me try them in the shop for an hour or so before making the purchase decision. (Yeah, she's terrific.)

I love them! The yarn doesn't slip off the needles when I don't want it to, but moves easily enough when necessary. The taper is long, the point is sharp enough, and I especially love the concave surface of the extra help to keep that stitch from dropping.

The website says they're good for arthritic hands because they're flexible. I can't swear to that, but I can say I haven't had hand pain while knitting since I started using them, so it's entirely possible.

They're lightweight, look like ivory even though they're plastic, and very reasonably priced. What more could you ask for? Next I'm going to try their circulars, and then the dps. I bet I'll like them, too.

Someday, I also plan to spring for some Signature Needle Arts knitting needles. Okay, they look like they're aluminum. ;-) But you can custom order them with various lengths, different decorative caps, and most importantly, three types of tips, including stiletto. So they're also on my wish list!

Do you have a favorite brand or type of knitting needle? What is there about it that you like? Or do you have needles you can't stand? Enquiring minds want to know!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Scarf City

Lately I've been working on scarves, scarves, scarves. My daughter had to have her thyroid removed, and since she's only 21, naturally she's concerned about the scar.

So first I made this one.
This is the Biggle Scarf by Louise Fabian Vouk. I made it using Plymouth Royal Bamboo yarn. My first time using bamboo and I loved it. So soft and silky.

Next came the Hattie's Rose Garden scarf by Christy M. Roosien. I did the drop stitch variation and here's how it came out.

This was made with Jaeger Trinity silk and cotton yarn. I have another skein of this in a cream color that I plan to make an additional, different scarf with. I have several patterns in mind to choose from. I hope this yarn washes up soft as it's a tiny bit scratchy right out of the skein.

Then I decided to make the Angular Scarf by Silke Hupka, using Sockotta sock yarn I had in my stash. Not Helen's favorite color combination, perhaps, but I think she'll get some use out of it. What do you think of it so far?

And finally (or first? Since I began it first but then put it aside for scarves made from more summery yarns) is a lace scarf that's a variation of Wisp Scarf by Cheryl Niamath. I made it narrower and had the lace and garter stitch patterns run vertically instead of horizontally.

I'll finish that one last, since although thin, it's made with Madil Yarns Kid Seta mohair.

So that's what I'm up to lately! How about you?