Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Last Stop

Sad to say the spring sheep and wool festivals in New England are winding down.  This coming weekend is the last stop on the tour - Maine Fiber Frolic.  This event is held at the Windsor Fairgrounds near Augusta.  If you're within striking distance, it's worth making the trip.

Fiber Frolic includes various demonstrations, sheep shearing, activities for kids and a Ravelry meetup.  There are plenty of vendors to choose from.  Since some of the vendors have limited show schedules, this is a good opportunity to see new and interesting fiber goodies.  This event also has a popular used equipment sale.  It's a great way to acquire and get rid of fiber tools.  I'll be vending in Building 2 - that's the building closest to the stage.

I have some waiting time today - perfect for only one thing.

There's a new sock in the works.

Monday, May 28, 2012

KAL Mitts

Last week I commented on my lack of knitting projects in progress. Over the weekend I set out to remedy that situation.  You know that feeling when a project sneaks up on you?  You look at a project, consider it, agree that it could be fun and entertaining and then move on to something else.  Later the project crosses your radar again, and you're smitten with it.

That was my experience over the weekend.  I chat with Elisabeth Marino and knew about her Rhinebeck Mitten KAL (Ravelry link).  I checked out the KAL when it first started but hadn't given it much thought.  I don't know what possessed me, but over the weekend I decided to visit the KAL again.  

Mittens with cables - right up my alley.  Over the course of an afternoon I cast on and worked the first two clues.  Now I have to wait for the next clue to be released, but that's OK.  I still need to start a sock.

We're reaping the benefits of a holiday weekend here so I decided to do a little baking.  I'm trying to make a seasonal shift in what we eat, but I'm slow to make the transition.  So far all I've been able to muster is salad and rhubarb.  

By itself rhubarb doesn't have much color, but add strawberries and you get a pretty pink.  I was surprised to find any cobbler left this morning.  I guess the kids were thinking of my breakfast.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Positive Feedback

Feedback.  Most companies rely on feedback from their customers. It's a way for them to gauge how their products are received - does it fit well, does it wear well, does it do what it's supposed to do.  

In this day and age it's never been easier to give a company feedback. You no longer have to write a letter, dig for a stamp and make a trip to the mailbox.  You don't even have to pick up the phone.  Simply send the company an email or comment on Facebook and Twitter.  

We're always quick to provide feedback when something doesn't work - the toaster doesn't toast, the tea kettle doesn't whistle.  In an attempt to resolve the situation we dash off an email to complain.  But what about positive feedback when things go right - your order arrived quickly, the customer service representative was friendly and helpful. We rush to complain but often have a harder time saying thanks, you did a good job.

I'm on the receiving end of feedback.  There are always problems to resolve, but every once in a while I'll get positive feedback - your colors are gorgeous, thanks for shipping so quickly etc.  I appreciate that someone took the time to say keep up the good work.  I'm making a concerted effort to give positive feedback when the situation warrants.  It's always good to reinforce the positive, and it takes just a minute or two.  Think about it the next time you have an opportunity to provide feedback.

It's Memorial Day Weekend here in the States - the kickoff to summer. It's a long weekend for many, and I've seen several discussions on what people are knitting this holiday weekend. Many people have outdoor plans, but if the weather doesn't cooperate, you have to be prepared.

One of the things I'll be working on is Catkin.  I'm almost finished with the first section, and then it's on to the buttonholes.  I can't decide if I want buttons or not.  I've seen it both ways, but I'm undecided.  I have a couple of rows to contemplate my decision.  Or I'll flip a coin.

As we head into summer my color inspiration for the week is a bowl of tomatoes

Yellowy orange with a hint of green.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quick Fix

I have surprisingly few knitting projects on the needles.  A couple of weeks ago I was on a roll and finished lingering projects, but I was obviously remiss in starting new ones to fill the void.  The gravity of the situation hit me the other day when I was headed out for an appointment and realized that I didn't have a sock in progress to keep me company.

The barter mitts were getting my undivided attention and are finished except for the thumbs.  This lack of projects was about to reach crisis proportions.

For an immediate fix I grabbed yarn that had been patiently waiting on my desk.  Its destiny had been determined some time ago so I didn't have to give it much thought.

I diligently knit a swatch.

In no time I was off and running.

The wee beginning of Catkin.  Of course this doesn't remedy my sock situation.  I'm off to tackle that problem next.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Great Outdoors

I've had two consecutive weekends of vending outside.  Having a booth outdoors can be challenging to say the least, but both weekends Mother Nature came through with dry, sunny conditions.  This past weekend I was at Coggeshall Farm for the Rhode Island Wool and Fiber Festival.

The narrow road out to the farm is full of twists and turns that hug the shoreline.  Turn off the road to a tree lined lane that leads to the farm. The setting is beautiful - so peaceful.

This event may be small, but it features a mix of vendors.

Rising Sun Earthworks was a new vendor this year.

They offer a wonderful selection of coffee mugs, yarn bowls and so much more. 

There was plenty of yarn and fiber available.

And handmade soap complete with bees.

The day included children's crafts and various demonstrations.

A display on dyeing with plants.

Some people came for the day with wheels in tow.

The spinners' tent.

As always it was great to see so many of my Rhode Island fiber friends. 

There's nothing like a beautiful day in the sun.

Friday, May 18, 2012

While I Think Of It . . .

In the early morning I often do a lot of thinking before I even get out of bed.  It's quiet, and there aren't any distractions or interruptions.  The other morning I was pondering a puzzle.  Knitting has been on the upswing for quite a while, and there are more knitters now than ever. How is it that yarn stores are dropping like flies?  I hear of yarn stores closing their doors on a regular basis.  How is it that a booming craft isn't supporting local stores?

I understand the dynamics of online competition, but surely, knitters, we can do better than that.  Remember when you had that knitting needle emergency and ran to your local yarn store?  Or the time you ran out of yarn and your local shop came to the rescue?  Or what about the time you've spent at your local shop's knit night - hanging out, getting knitting advice, having an all around good time?

I'm sure we've all witnessed the passing of bookstores in our local communities.  Don't leave your local yarn store to the same fate. These days the emphasis is on buying local, and that includes your local yarn store.  Remember to spend some of your knitting dollars locally.

The tour of New England sheep and wool festivals continues this weekend with a stop in Rhode Island.  This event is on Saturday only and is held at the Coggeshall Farm in Bristol.  The setting for this event is a beautiful, restored 18th century farm.  If you're in the area, stop by.  There will be demonstrations, shearing and vendors. 

Sometimes we find color in the most unlikely places - along a concrete foundation, for instance.  I have no idea what this is - probably an invasive weed - but the colors caught my eye and are my color inspiration for the week.

Soft pink and green.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Right Thing

I've finished several knitting projects lately, and I have empty needles to show for it.  Yesterday I pondered what sort of new project mischief I could get into.  I have a few skeins of yarn wound and earmarked for projects. My queue is long with several more ideas not even listed. Deciding which new project to start can be a pleasantly tough decision.

And then I remembered a little project and a promise that's been kicking around for a while. A friend of mine bought a kit for a sweet pair of fingerless mitts, but she came to the realization that she's never going to knit them in this lifetime.  Would I knit up the mitts in exchange for something she makes?  I love bartering so I took her up on the offer.   Plus she works with glass so I'm sure to come away from this with something unique and wonderful.

The satisfaction of keeping a promise.

Monday, May 14, 2012

News From New Hampshire

Monday mornings are brutal.  Monday mornings after a weekend event are doubly difficult.  I wish I had the luxury of making today and tomorrow my weekend days, but I can't make that magic happen.

We had a terrific time in New Hampshire this weekend.  This event has a tradition of producing every form of precipitation - rain, sleet, snow - and usually it's in abundance.  This past weekend, however, was dry.  Saturday was a bit on the windy side.  

I lost a few signs to the strong gusts that threatened to blow yarn off the hooks, but all in all it was a pleasant weekend to be vending outside.

The booth was located just inside the main entrance.

Gate F.

This year New Hampshire Sheep and Wool moved to a new location at the Deerfield Fairgrounds.  I was encouraged by the turn out - you never know how it will go at a new location.  I had one customer who went to the old location only to find the grounds empty, but she was resourceful and eventually made her way to Deerfield.  Cell phones are handy in emergency situations.

The distinguishing thing about the new location is the hill.

This is the view from the top.  There were outside vendors and a few barns with animals at the bottom of the hill.  There were buildings with more vendors and animals at the top of the hill.  All directions were given in reference to the hill.

I was non-stop busy and didn't get a chance to see nearly enough.  Of course there were many cute animals.

Clean cut.

And there were so many vendors.  

You could find everything from fleece to finished goods.

While a busy weekend like this keeps me in the booth, it's a great opportunity to meet many creative, enthusiastic fiber lovers.  That's what I love most about an event like this. Thanks to everyone who stopped by.  It was a great weekend to be in New Hampshire.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lighthouse Gansey

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to Tara Swiger talk at Gather Here.  Tara has a new book out - Market Yourself.  It was an evening of lively conversation about crafting, marketing and small businesses.

In addition to the thought-provoking discussion and good company it was also an opportunity to sit and knit.  And I did just that - round after round after round.

All it took was a little more knitting when I got home, and my Lighthouse Gansey Socks were finished. 

This design is a 3 x 1 ribbed pattern with a gansey motif on the leg.

A close-up of the motif.  There's something satisfying about following simple knit, purl instructions to create a design.  It's like drawing with wool.  

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Lillian, colorway Gooseberry.  This is a new color that will be posted to the website soon.  The weekend weather may be too warm for wool socks, but I'll have these with me at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool just in case.

I'm waiting for the sweet smell of this week's color inspiration.

Dainty white.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Change Of Address

New Hampshire Sheep and Wool is this coming weekend.  For many in New England this event is a tradition.  If you're a knitting mother, this festival is a great way to treat yourself on Mother's Day Weekend. If you want to treat your knitting mother, you should take her to New Hampshire.

For those who have attended in the past be warned that this year the event has moved to the Deerfield Fairgrounds in the Manchester area. All spring I've been telling people about the move, but it seems that many still aren't aware.  Help spread the word - tell all your knitting buddies about the new location.

Dirty Water DyeWorks will be vending outside.  I'm not sure of the exact location yet but will be providing details via Twitter.

With any luck I'll have a new pair of socks for the weekend.

The race is on.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gray Garden

It's amazing what I can do with a little focused knitting time.

Gray Garden by Anne Hanson of Knitspot is off the needles.

Anne's patterns are thorough and detailed.

She includes both charts and written instructions.

Anne included a special note with Gray Garden.

Wrap the yarn twice on the first stitch of every row.  See red arrow above.  The double wrap gives the garter edge a little extra when it comes time for blocking.  

I was skeptical but followed Anne's advice and am glad I did.  

The garter edge had plenty of stretch and blocked nicely.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Lillian, colorway Wheat.  This is a new colorway that is currently available at shows and will be on the website soon.

Lillian is a 100% Superwash Merino yarn.  It has a tight twist with plenty of spring and bounce. 

Gray Garden is written for 3 sizes.  I made the sample in the medium size.

Now I'm tempted to make the large size just for myself.

We have a Cinco de Mayo birthday so it was a party weekend here that included pan fried tacos.  You can fill the tacos with anything, but this link gives good step by step instructions.  And yes, pan fried tacos do make a mess of the kitchen.  The tacos were gobbled up so fast I didn't even get a picture.

And after all those tacos . . . chocolate cake with cherries on top.

Friday, May 4, 2012

For Wee Ones

The wee Austin Hoodie I was working on is finished.

This booth sample debuted last weekend in Connecticut.

This was a fun little project with interesting details.

In addition to a healthy amount of stockinette this design includes a woven stitch band and 1 x 3 ribbing on the yoke and cuffs.

It's topped off with an adorable hood also in 1 x 3 ribbing.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Lillian, colorway Ribbit.  Lillian is a 100% Superwash Merino fingering weight yarn that makes a versatile, easy-care sweater - perfect for little ones.  The wee Austin Hoodie Kit is available in 4 sizes and a range of colors.  Note that the Ribbit colorway is currently exclusive to the kit.  As soon as there's a break in the action, this kit will be available on the website.

Today is the last day of the Holla Knits Blog Tour.  Dirty Water DyeWorks is still offering free shipping.  Simply enter "Holla Knits" in the comments section of the shopping cart, and your shipping charges will be refunded.  Be sure to check in with the other stops on the Tour for additional specials and giveaways.

We've had some much-needed rain this past week so it's only fitting that my color inspiration photo for the week includes raindrops.

The promise of pink.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I started this week in search of a knitting project.  I had finished my latest booth sample - more on that in another post.  What to work on next?  My queue of knitting projects is a mile long, and I share desk space with yarn that's wound and waiting for the needles.  I certainly didn't lack for ideas or options, but somehow making a decision was a daunting task.

In the process of organizing my life after Connecticut Sheep and Wool I went through my project bags and stumbled across this.

My Lighthouse Gansey Sock.  I had put this aside, probably to work on a booth sample, and it had fallen off my radar.  It was ready and waiting - like a frozen meal you effortlessly pop in the oven.

I turned the heel, picked up the flap stitches and worked 'round and 'round on the foot - calming, comforting knitting.  I only have to work a few more rounds, and then the sock will be ready for the toe.  This week has been challenging on many levels, and it's only Wednesday. The knitting goddess was looking out for me.  Quiet, meditative sock knitting is just what I needed.