Yarn to Knit For

Yes, we went to another yarn shop. I needed more needles, ok? Anyway, we had another shop we wanted to check out before I leave for language school. This time we headed up the mountains for to Hendersonville, North Carolina.

(not our car, though we wanted to steal the dog)

Yarns to Dye For is a family run yarn shop just outside of town. When we got there some other customers were leaving, so we had the place to ourselves with the husband and wife who run the store. They are a really friendly couple, checking in frequently without hovering. Mom enjoyed talking with both of them while I walked around and touched everything.

The store itself is bigger than it looks, with both yarn and other equipment for sale and a large, open loft-like area for classes. Not only do they teach knitting, but they also have classes on silk painting (something my aunt does that looks cool but I doubt I could pull off). Oh, and the man who works there makes all sorts of food stuffs that we could not help but indulge in, chief among them a date shortbread thingamabob and some yummy smelling herbs.

So of course I picked up some needles. But I couldn't stop myself from acquiring some other "much [un]needed" as well. I've been reading a lot about wool-washes that knitters use because it does not have to be rinsed out of the yarn after it has soaked. But I didn't want to spend $20 on the internet just to try something different. Well, turns out I didn't have to. The shop carried a small $4 bottle of a eucalyptus formula that is supposed to also help deter moths. I blocked some socks in it tonight and so far so good. It even helped to mask the wet dog smell of soaked yarn.

And because I'm on a sock kick lately, I also picked up two skeins of Wendy Happy. I'm not sure, but I think this might be a yarn that is not regularly carried by US vendors (consequently, they are the only shop I've seen carry another yarn that I bought during a Webs sale that I believe is also a European or UK brand). This yarn is for the eccentric in me. It's self-striping but not too much and all the colorways are named for constellations! I picked out the blue (Pises) for myself and Mom picked out the red (Virgo) for herself (as in socks for me to knit for her). Evidentially she read about the advantages of bamboo as sock yarn so we're giving it a try.

Lastly, I picked up some stitch markers. One for me and one for my sister. She's just starting to knit beyond the one pattern she learned on and last night was asking me questions about what she needed to make Calorimetry. It calls for stitch markers, so I thought a nice beaded hand-made one would be a great luxurious start for her notions collection.

Because of this, today knitting needles are not only for knitting, but for displaying beautiful beaded works of art.


Red + Celtic + India = Summer

My SD converter for my phone was hiding in the couch for the past several days. It's an evil plot hatched to prevent me from updating . . . by chickens . . . evil evil chickens.

Confused? Yeah, me too.

I've been to two LYSs (LYSes?) in the past week. The first was North Woods Farm Fiber and Yarn in Carrboro, South Carolina. It's a really cool store in a little house in a cute little town in the rural south. On the outside it is everything I love about this area.

The inside is really cool too. Every room has a theme. The kitchen is dishcloth cotton, the breakfast nook is sock yarn, and there's a wool room. A wool room. It was really pretty. They also have roving for spinning which was really fun to look at and fantasize about some day learning to work with. The owners also have alpacas, which would be cool to see, but aren't on the property. I believe there was some yarn spun from their own fiber, but I'm not sure.

In any case, I bought some really nice double-pointed bamboo needles. I don't know what it is about these, but they're so smooth! It's like they have been lacquered with something that makes them slide so easily, which is great for sock knitting. Hopefully now that I have size 2 needles again I'll have another completed pair of socks to tell you about soon.

I also picked up the perfect button for my new hat. It's the Indian Summer pattern. Totally worth the $2.50 I payed for the pattern. Particularly since the yarn was free! (a gift from my really cool friend Louis) I had to modify a bit because I used a lighter weight yarn, but that makes it a real summer hat. Plus a little less slouchy, which I like.

My mom actually found the button. It's a lovely Celtic knot, which of course stood out to her because my mom's family is Irish and we're a tad bit obsessed.

The yarn is South West Trading Company Bamboo. Very soft, very cool, very splitty. Not the kind of yarn you want to knit in the round on sticky bamboo dpns. But the result is totally worth it, don't you think?

(this was intended for my Star Wars post. See? That's Boba Fett! Boy's size 7 if you find any more)

The other LYS we went to was Wildskeins in Hickory, NC. My aunt is friends with the owner.

This is my ideal yarn store. Small without being too cluttered and you're not pressured to buy anything. There are often locals knitting on the couch and everyone chats away but don't hover or ignore you. I love it. Last week there was a sale on project bags, and so, of course, I bought one.

Isn't it cool?! I'm so excited. A lot of project bags I see are made out of fabrics that look like they belong in a kindergarten room, which is ok, but not something I want to be carrying around with me. This one actually looks like it could belong to someone over the age of 6. And it's a triangle! I keep seeing them being raved about everywhere, and now I know why. I put a sock project with two skeins in it and it all fit with lots of room to spare. Plus the needles fit easily since it seems to have more volume than other bags. It's a lot nicer than gallon plastic bags that I normally carry around.

And remember, knitting needles are only for knitting. Well, unless you are being attacked by an evil alien robot. Then they're excellent for jamming gears.


The Adventure is Never Really Over

Today is a very special day in the geek world. And if you're not in the geek world you might still be awed by this. Today is the thirtieth anniversary of one of my all-time favorite movies: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (dun dun DUN!)

It's a very public fact that I am a Star Wars geek. I don't claim to be the biggest one in the whole world or anything, but it is the first fandom in which I became actively involved and still the one that I have identified with for the majority of my life. Anyone who has been to my apartment has met Luke, the life-size cutout of Luke Skywalker that my friends gave me for Christmas almost six years ago (I still credit him as the reason I was able to save the majority of my things in that flash flood last year). Then there is my Star Wars EU collection. Not huge, but decent sized when you consider that I bought all of these while in high school in addition to reading everything the library had. And, of course, you can't forget my Rebel Alliance tattoo. It brands me forever as a Star Wars geek (and Wedge Antilles fan).

I can still remember the first time I saw Empire (actually, I remember the first time I saw each of the films). It was the last of the three films that my parents showed me and my sister. They did that thing that people who aren't giant fans sometimes do (and the same thing they did with Indiana Jones now that I think about it), they showed us Return of the Jedi first. I know! So when I finally saw Empire, I already knew that Vader was Luke's father, Leia was the "other" hope, and Han survives that terrifying carbonite. But it was still my favorite of all three movies. This might be connected a bit to the fact that my mom didn't like the film, but only a little. Mostly my love of Empire comes from two major areas.

First, Boba Fett.

Who doesn't love the bounty-hunter in the Mandalorian armor? I'm one of those people who got really upset when they watched Attack of the Clones and they made Boba a clone of Jango. It just felt like a cop out (and still does). But it makes sense. It was a way for them to bring back the most bad-ass character to be created in the Star Wars universe. You might say "But he died because he fell into the Sarlaac." And you would be so wrong. Well, as long as you subscribe to the EU as credible accounts beyond the films, which I do. In the Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy (which I own of course), Boba escapes and goes on to have more epic adventures. He also turns up pre-Episode IV in the Han Solo Trilogy (my all time favorite Star Wars storyline, also on my book shelf) in a pretty awesome way, but I'll leave that for another time. Now I haven't read the new books that are causing all of the current EU controversy, but they are on my list. If only because it is all about Mandalor and that is totally my cup of tea.

The other reason I fell in love with Empire is a little more abstract. If you're like me, you spent hours every day pretending you lived in the Star Wars universe and were off on adventures. Me, I wanted to be a smuggler. I used to imagine Han Solo landing in the back yard and taking me off on adventures. I'd get an edgy hair cut, tattoos, and be an expert with a blaster (short skirt with a tie-down strap for my holster? You'd bet I'd be pretty amazing). This all ties back to Empire how? Because at the end of the film it is not a happy ending. At the end of Empire there are still things to do, still people to rescue, and a pretty big battle yet to be fought. Succinctly, I love Empire because at the end it's still not over. There are still adventures yet to be experienced. At the end of Episodes IV and VI, you could reasonably expect the story to be over. That always made me sad because it meant there was no room for me to swoop in and help save the day. With Empire that is still a possibility.

So how am I celebrating the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest films ever? I'm wearing my Boba Fett tshirt of course!


The Purple Blond

The knitting fever has taken hold. Full force and a little scary. I recently drove from my current residence on the coast of North Carolina to my parents' place in the mountains. It's a six hour drive, which means six hours of absolutely no knitting. That's a killer, 'cause I get really fidgity when I don't knit. So to stave off the urge to either red-light knit (yes, I have done that before during a seriously bad traffic jam) or rip my fingernails off, I listen to knitting podcasts. This trip did not include Stash and Burn or Doubleknit, but did have the new Never Not Knitting as well as several new podcasts I have recently discovered, including Electric Sheep, KIPing it Real, and The Savvy Girls Podcast. It seems kind of boring to think about just listening to people talk about knitting for several hours, but I love it. And when I got home the first thing I did was pull out my Evil Stepmother Toe-Up Socks and knit away.

These socks are the product of many hours of boredom and confusion. Not confusion because I didn't know what I was doing, but confusion because I can't understand why in the world I thought I needed to do plain stockinette. I mean, yes it is a variegated yarn. And yes, I was learning a new technique, but still. We all know how bored I get when it comes to knitting a continuous repeating pattern.

But I love (check it. LOVE) these socks. They're soft and so cute. And toe-up with short row heels? Wendy Johnson's book was the best knitting purchase I've ever made. The stockinette part is boring but the short rows are addictive. I was also able to read while I knit them, so that was pretty cool. This evidentially was exactly what I need in my wardrobe. The dumb blond of the knitting world. Seductive, addictive, and absolutely dull socks.

I think I need another pair.


Wonder Shawls and Halter Tops

I have a problem. It's called the lace shawl. And it's a problem a lot of knitters seem to be having lately. See, we love to make shawls. For me, there is not much about knitting that is as fun as an intense chart reading session that ends in taking a rather drab looking mess of fabric and blocking it out into something beautiful.

As an end of the semester celebration I allowed myself the super addictive knitting of a small shawl, using the same yarn from my Top Model Hat. It's gorgous, but the problem of the lace shawl reared its ugly head yet again. It is tons of fun to make, but when exactly am I ever going to wear it? Shawls don't really go with the jeans and tshirt uniform I've adopted on the days I do not TA. Fortunately I finished it just before an end of semester / cinco de mayo party, so I had a fun way to wear it.

Should probably invest in some shawl pins if I keep this up. I had to use the Wonder Woman pin from my backpack to hold it together.

This past week I knit my first real garment (I don't count the Wicked Vest since it was such a disappointment. I actually just gifted it to my sister for her birthday). I went on a recent yarn spree (still hasn't ended), which included acquiring some Knit Picks Shadow. It's gorgeous, but fingering weight so whatever I made had to be held together.

Adopting some modifications I found on Ravelry (credits on my project page), I decided to turn the Razor Cami into a halter top. The pattern is gorgeous and for some reason doing the same two rows over 156 stitches in the round for sixteen inches was actually not boring. It only took me about five days to knit, and while there are some fit problems due to the stretch of the yarn and the sheer impracticality of a halter made of a lace chart, I really do love it.

Now I'm working on a pair of socks I dug out of my in-progress basket (sock, really, I had just gotten to the heel of the first sock) and have a hat blocking and waiting for a button. The knitting life is good.

And remember, knitting needles are fun. Until Hit Girl gets ahold of them. Then no power in the 'verse can stop me from running away as fast as I can.