Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oh, My

The problem with the knitblogging worlds is there are too many of us and I can’t know you all. I can’t even find the time to put my stuff on Ravelry. I’d love to hang out with Steph and Juno, for example, but they already have too many people to keep track of. I can’t even find time to blog about Rhinebeck (fleeces! Four of them! Yarn! Brooks Farm AND Briar Rose! Books! Hand-dyed roving! You know, the usual boring stuff. Yes, you'll get pics at some point.).

I was driving to work Wednesday and had a horrifying thought: I probably get 10 hours a week for knitting and spinning. Maybe a little more, but that’s realistic. I have the figure of 100 hours in my head as being the time it takes to knit a sweater. So ten weeks for a sweater – two and a half months. That seems about right. That means that in a normal year I could get 4, almost 5, sweaters knit up. Frankly, that’s not enough. I want to knit lots of sweaters, I want to explore cables and Fair Isle and using my handspun and all those beautiful designs out there. But no. I get to knit 4, maybe 5, of them a year. Tops. Leaving out all other kinds of knitting. No wonder everyone like to knit socks. I bet I could knit 2 pairs a month – that’s 24 pairs a year! Forty-eight different socks (well, one hopes some of them sort of go together)!

So maybe I should quit my job and dive into the fiber world. Now, mind you, I love my job, but it’s not fibery at all. And what would I do in the fiber world – what can I do that would make me even a little bit of money, maybe satisfy my craving for fiber and for fiber-world recognition. (yes, it’s true, I might as well admit it, I want recognition.)

So I could design socks or hats or sweaters or whatever, I could dye yarn or roving, I could teach, I could sell handspun, I could raise animals and sell their fleece (anybody want some cat hair dust bunnies?), I could take up knitting humor as my profession, but realistically…not so much.

Which is a little depressing. Seriously, my house really needs cleaning, because that would help my allergies; my body really needs some exercise - I'm just achy all over; and I'm beginning to lose track of stuff. For example, the lovely local credit union called me Thursday and said I hadn't signed the check I sent them for my first car payment - would I like to come in and sign in or just send them a new one? I never forget to sign checks!

All of which signals to me that I'm spending too much time and too much mental energy on knitting and spinning, to the point that my life is out of balance. [stop giggling out there, I can hear you!] And it's bugging me enormously that what I Ought To Do is just cut back on my expectations for my fiber accomplishments. So I can only knit 4 or 5 sweaters a year - is that a crime? So I can only know and really talk to maybe 20 sister fiber-fanatics in this stage of life - it would be worse if I knew none of you.

Oh, hell, I don't know. Let's go look at pretty photos from Rhinebeck, OK?

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A beautiful little Cheviot. I want sheepies.

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One of the cabins at Mills-Norrie State Park, where we stayed. We being me, Pat, her daughter Isabel, Brenda, and Jess. Sue, That Sue, stiffed us for a GUY! Bad, bad Sue. I bought everything she would have - somebody has to support those farmers and artisans, right? I don't have a photo of those of us who did go, because I'm a dork that way, but I can tell you we had an absolute ball! It has taken me a week to recover, and I'd do it again in an instant.

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The view from the cabin. Yes, that's the majestic Hudson River. Nice, eh?

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Jess and I watched the very beginning of the sheep-to-shawl competition. Before the starting bell rang, so to speak, I chatted with one of the weavers about the merits of Harrisville looms. She predicted I'd have a loom within a year. Do you think it's a coincidence that there is an ad on Craigslist right now for a 4-harness Harrisville loom in New Hampshire, for only - only! - $150? Please, somebody, buy it, take away that temptation from me!

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One of the spinners in the competition madly carding away at the beginning.

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Then, of course, I met Knittyheads!! Saturday I completely missed the Knittyhead meet-up, because I was in the complete thrall of the yarn fumes, but Sunday - Sunday I met the lovely Rachel, whom I've met before. She knit that top, which looked beautiful on her beautiful self.

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Just some of my sister crazies.

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The mods - Sarah and Pam. We love 'em.

So, what did I buy? A lot. Too much. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed (see beginning of this post). I was truly worried the week before Rhinebeck that I was losing my fiber mojo, that there really wouldn't be much that I wanted to buy. Ha! Very Ha!

Let's start small, shall we? I bought some Schacht hard cards, for fine fibers. I had resisted buying hand carders for some time, because I thought hand carding was laborious and painful to one's arms. It's not, if done properly. Thus, I have these tools.

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Books. I can't have enough books, although there are a few new ones I didn't buy, because once I got a look at them, they didn't appeal.

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Fleeces. I went a little nuts. Yep. I did.

Isabel's gray Shetland ram lamb fleece. Oddly, this didn't have a judging card on it when I went to buy it (occasionally the cards get separated from the fleeces in the bedlam of the first hour or so of the fleece sale; yes, I'm taking you, Amy), so Pat and I asked one of the judges what he thought of it. In short, the lamb did his job well, but the shearer (that would be Pat) and the skirter (that would be me) did not-so-good jobs. It's a learning curve. Next year....

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Two Corriedale cross gray fleeces. Did I mention I bought two of these?

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White Romney. Gorgeous. Incredibly clean. I can't wait.

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The good stuff. That doesn't look too bad, right? It all fits in one photo, right?

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Let's see:

  • Bottom left: three hanks of Spunky Eclectic roving in the Abyss colorway - no, she wasn't vending, but she hand-delivered these. Have I mentioned I love the Electric Spunk?
  • On the right, already wound: two balls of aqua Brooks Farm wool/silk, one ball of Brooks Farm kid mohair, one ball of Blue Moon kid mohair/silk, and two large balls of the Kangaroo Dyer's wool/cotton (which I actually bought yesterday at the Franklin County Fiber Twist, not at Rhinebeck, but I think all these go together and I'm mulling over a giant scrumptious throw).
  • The pink in the back: Two hanks of The Fat Cat's roving. Nice!
  • A giant hank of sapphire blue mohair in the very back. I can't resist that color!
  • Two hanks of Chasing Rainbow's merino/tencel roving - the lighter colors in the middle
  • And then, well, I told you I went nuts. I bought two enormous skeins of Briar Rose Heritage yarn, in dark, deep purples and greens. Last year, I virtuously resisted any of their yarn; these year, I knew better. This may become something wondrous, one of these days, or I may just treasure it for itself.

So there we are. A lot of fiber. And I bought 2.5 pounds of white BFL roving, too, and a little Leicester Longwool roving, too. Nuts, I tell you, I went nuts.

And I haven't even told you about the Fiber Twist. Maybe some other day, although I can't resist saying that Kristin Nicholas loved my sweater - you know, the one I was supposed to wear to Rhinebeck, but it was too warm? The one I designed myself? I was very pleased. She's very nice.

Have I mentioned that all fiber people are very nice?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Anxious? Or Excited?

OK, it's Tuesday evening and I'm all bouncy/excited/anxious about going to Rhinebeck.

  • Ack! Where's my email confirmation for the campground? Oh. Right in my inbox where I left it. Whew!
  • Joy! Morehouse Merino is having their author party again Saturday evening . Now I have a chance to redeem myself - last year, I had no idea there was a multi-book signing going on, so when I saw Amy Singer at the Morehouse store, I just plopped myself down next to her and started to knit and chat. Amy introduced me to Tara Jon Manning. Then I noticed Jillian Moreno. And Debbie Stoller. And somebody else big I'm blocking on the name of right now. But I was cool. No shrieking and squeeing and fawning for me. I just pretended that of course I spend my days knitting with big shots. Wrong move - this year I squee and fawn, big time. In fact, I really want to knit Jillian Moreno's Boo Too pattern from Knitty with my handspun (at least partly from handspun), so I might just take that pattern and get it signed. Squee!!
  • Process or not to process? Remember that Jacob fleece Brenda so kindly gave me? I can't decide whether it's good enough to take to the fair and send off with someone to get processed into roving. I need to look it over again, in daylight, preferably.
  • What to wear?! OK, so should I be brave and wear this?
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  • And/or this?

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I designed and knit both, but that doesn't mean they're fit for public consumption. Well, the tam is, but maybe not on me. Ack! Decisions!

  • What knitting shall I bring? It looks like I'll be driving my car, with Sue and Jess riding, so I probably won't get much knitting done in the car. I finished the left front of the Minimalist Cardigan last night, so I could cast on for sleeve #1. Or work on the Big Bad Baby Blanket for Jen's baby. Or quick, wind the yarn for Boo Too and swatch while I'm there - there's the ticket!
  • What do I want to buy? A gray fleece, and some of the new books, and - well, I don't know. There are ideas swirling in my head, but I just don't know.
  • Camera, flashlight, sleeping bag, cash!, maps and directions, clean underwear, um, what else?

I'm exhausted already.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What I am Not Wearing to Rhinebeck

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Well, for starters, I'm not wearing the Minimalist Cardigan. We (that's the royal we) have a back, a right front, and most of a left front, but no sign yet of the sleeves. Some wag suggested I pretend it's a vest, but I'm an honest knitter, so that's out. It could be kinda cold, though, I might need to wear a coat over a sweater, right? *wink*

Oh, well, I tried. My right arm hurts a good bit, I tried so hard. Here's a shot of the lovely contrast between the stockinette edging of the front and the moss stitch of the body - nice, eh?

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And since I'm an honest knitter, I'll admit that I knit the back and one of the fronts - what's that, maybe half the sweater? - before I realized that the edging of the front is NOT turned back over the moss stitch, showing reverse stockinette - no, it's just straight on from moss stitch to stockinette, just like in the photo above. Yes, I read the pattern before casting on - no, I didn't comprehend it. Evidently.

More in the honesty vein - I will not be wearing to Rhinebeck:

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a) the shawl from yarn I spun from fiber I bought at Rhinebeck last year - the body's done (unlike this photo), but the border's barely started; nor

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b) the top from yarn I spun from fiber I bought at Rhinebeck last year - I might have finished a few more inches than in this photo, but not much more.

Sigh. Which means I did not achieve the resolution I made at the beginning of this year - Resolution # 3 over there in the sidebar. I'm so disappointed in myself, I might just have to buy myself lots of yarn and fiber at Rhinebeck next weekend to cheer myself up - right?

Especially this fiber...

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On the Columbus Day holiday last week, I helped my friend Pat and her friend Rhona shear the three Shetland ram lambs that, um, aren't living at Pat's house any more, shall we say. They're lovely little lambies, except all their balls didn't drop and some of their horns are headed straight for their brains, such as they are. So, Licorice, Pepperjack, and Oreo are no longer with us. However, their fleeces are going to Rhinebeck, as are Pat and her daughters Isabel and Olivia, because they all want to know how to tell a good fleece from a mediocre fleece. Me, I'm just going to snap up Licorice's good gray fleecelet (all 2 pounds of it) as soon as I can - I skirted those fleeces and they're nice stuff, as far as I can tell. Feel free to correct me, if you see one of these in the barn at Rhinebeck. I guess these are hogget fleeces, right? The first shearing, right?

And Pat's just about ready to get into spinning - she has the yearning, but she's still in the virtuous I-already-have-too-much-to-do, I-can-never-learn-to-spin, a-wheel-costs-too-much phase. I reminded her that a perfectly good spindle can be had for $30 or so; I might even get her one as a present, you know, just because I'm such a good enabler friend.