Friday, March 6, 2015

Might as well face it...

Might as well face it. I’m addicted to socks.

Knitting socks that is.  I've been a sock knitter nearly since I started knitting in the late nineties.

I started with fat socks as many people do.  For beginning knitters, the size one needles just seem impossible.  So I began with a few pair of worsted weight socks - - warm and cozy in hiking boots.  Then I realized that they didn’t wear very well (particularly in merino).  But it’s okay… I learned the structure of sock.  The heel flap, turning the heel, the gusset, grafting the toe.

But in the last few years, my sock knitting has come along way.  Now even a slightly bigger sock yarn seems awfully large.  I just finished knitting a pair with Paton’s Kroy on what seems like HUGE 3’s for the leg; 2’s for the foot. I’m currently teaching a sock class, to bring other knitters into the fold.
So a little finished object parade, for your consideration…

 Vanilla lattes in Knit Picks Felici

Eirene - Paired cables in Knit Picks Bare sportweight.

 A slow slog of Circle Socks.


No pictures for the next few.  Seems if I wait to take pics, I'll never post this. 

3 X 1 ribs in Paton’s Kroy, with both legs knitted at a conference, where I did not see any other knitters.  Very strange.  This was a social studies conference.  At library conferences, there are LOTS of knitters.

There are under construction, with the pause button hit in various places for teaching purposes...

‘Blackberry waffles’ in  Lang Jawoll in a very dark purple colorway that has forced me to knit them under the full spectrum light.

Big fat socks in an unlabeled sock yarn from the FFW sale room.  Kind of a ‘denim blue fake fair isle' pattern.  Maybe Fortissima Colori Mexiko 6 ply.  Maybe.

Happily I have found the Ravelry group, 12 Socks, in which other sock-addicted knitters show  off their work, with monthly challenges.  I won a prize for the February challenge - -more sock yarn!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Socks 2015.1 Log Cabin Latte

Last evening I grafted the toes on my first completed pair of socks for 2015.  I used this pattern:  Vanilla Latte.  My first time with the pattern, I liked it.  The sock was a bit big, but that's okay as they are intended for the Strategic Gift Reserve.  Even though my feet are a generous 8.5, some of my sisters (the main sock recipients) have feet that are even more generous, as are their spirits. 

The yarn is Knit Pick's Felici in 'Rustic Cabin.' I am glad they brought that yarn back, and I particularly like the colorway.  As I found the link, I see that it has 'disappeared' again.  I guess I'm not the only one who likes it.  Glad I bought more that one colorway.

I have 2 other socks in the pipeline.  One is a cable sock made in a sport weight yarn that I purchased in error.  Turns out I really like both the yarn and the pattern.  Add the fact that sport weight socks knit up a bit faster, even on a size 3, and I had a hard time putting them down last evening. I'm already planning a variation for the next pair.

Upcoming events (for which I need to hustle):  Friends & Fiberworks annual Winter Retreat.  I'll be staffing the store and teaching a dye class.  Shortly after that the gang will head to the Statesville (NC) Quilt Show where my dyed fiber will be in the FFW booth.  Guess I'll be dyeing quilt show fiber in class.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy New Year 2015

As the new year rolls around we tend to take stock.  What was wonderful...other things...well, less so.  I find that I miss the blog.  Not the self promotion, that gets tired.  I've never been one for a parade of finished objects.  I can hardly remember to take pictures for my Ravelry page.

But I think that what I miss is the writing.  Writing a few times a week give me a time for I try to put thoughts and feelings into words. I have used this blog as a diary of sorts, mostly writing about fiber (obviously), gardening, travel and the public parts of my life.  There's only a little about work, except as it gives me a few interesting travel opportunities a year.  My private life is only interesting to me - no drama to make salacious reading.

So in 2015, I'm going to revive the blog.  Other resolutions...
  • Finish the purple sweater (about 80% done).
  • Rework red sweater.  So far I have pulled out the sleeves and washed the yarn.
  • Knit at least 6 pair of socks (2 already on needles)
  • Work out more - Notice that I did NOT quantify that. but I've either walked or done yoga nearly every day since the Christmas break began.
  • Pay attention the Etsy shop.  I started by putting my patterns up.
  • A little promotion wouldn't hurt (Facebook; Phat fiber)
  • Add patterns to Ravelry.
  • Keep my office cleaner.  It's currently quite tidy. Can I spend 5 minutes at the end of every day tidying up? 
So we shall see if I can keep this going.  Stay tuned...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Blueberry Season

We are at the time of year when Smoky Mountain Fibers shifts into serious gardening season.   The peas and lettuce are finishing up and the beans, cukes and squash are coming along nicely.

When I had my solar panels installed, it seemed like I had to move my 6 blueberry bushes (turns out I probably didn't have to).  They went from being in a line to a large (10 x 17') rectangle.  Since they are beginning to ripen, it's time to foil the birds. Sorry birdies, but there is lots of other food for you here in the temperate rainforest.

Now I'll say that my Dad was a master at figuring out how to make things work,  even without much of a blueprint.  So over Father's Day weekend,  I honored him in one of my favorite ways...the wacky DIY project... Making a cover for the blueberries that holds up the netting, is still easy to get under and keeps the birds out.

Think of this as a big hoop house covered in anti-bird netting.  I used 3/4 inch flexible pvc pipe and these great plastic 3 foot tall fence posts that have spike on the bottom.  You just step them in. Because the netting is in a few pieces, there are seams, mostly tied together with the biggish twist ties that Whole Foods uses (anyone who want's to analyze my diet, feel free to use the look up numbers and you'll find plenty of lentils, dried fruits and popcorn).  It's pretty self supporting, though I doubt it will stand up to too much wind. I tied up some of the connections (using handspun yarn of course) and may do a few more.  I bought the BIG container of staples to hold the netting down to the ground, so no rationing (or making them out of wire coat hangers) was required.

Lots of head scratching and only four trips to the hardware store. I think Daddy would be proud, but he might have made a few improvements. I'll find out how well it works as we get through the blueberry season.  More fine tuning and adjustments may be required, as well as few more trips to the store!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Free Pattern: Bizet Purls Cap

A few weeks ago, Friends and Fiberworks donated a few really sweet goodie bags to the Asheville Tourists Stitch 'n' Pitch that included a skein of Laines du Nord Bizet - an interesting yarn with bumps of different color fiber along the base yarn.  It's bulky yarn that will make a great super quick one skein wonder.  Again an easy pattern (so easy, it's a little embarrassing to call it a pattern), but the FOs are showing up on Ravelry, so here it is! 

Bizet Purls Cap

Materials:  One skein Laines du Nord Bizet yarn, or any yarn that knits to the same gauge. 

Needles:  Size 11 16” circular needles & one set double pointed needles; Yarn needle.

Size:  20 inches

Gauge: 3.5 stitches per inch


Using circular needle, cast on 48 stitches.  Join into a ring, being careful not to twist stitches.  Knit 4 rows.  Purl one row.  Continue knitting in stockinette stitch, changing to 3-4 purl stitches when the yarn changes to a bulkier colorful section.  Knit until the hat measures 6 inches from cast on edge.

Begin decreases.

Knit 4; knit 2 together (K2T). Repeat around (40 stitches).  Knit one round plain.

Knit 3; K2T. Repeat around (32 stitches).  Knit one round plain.

Continue to knit these 2 rows, decreasing 8 stitches every other row, until 8 stitches remain, changing to double pointed needles when necessary.

Cut yarn, leaving a 6” tail. Thread yarn through stitches and weave in the tail as well as the cast on end.

Enjoy your knitting!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Knitting along

Beginning in May, I'll be hosting a knit-along at my favorite yarn shop, Friends & Fiberworks ( FFW). The pattern that I've chosen is Berroco's Seabrook, a simple drapey  vest - almost embarrassingly easy.  The pattern was written for Captiva, but I''ve chosen Lago instead.

I wanted a fabric and color that went with a lot of summer things, but wasn't beige. So it's kind of a denim blue.  The yarn is a linen-viscose blend with a matte finish and a bit of texture.

With a pattern name like Seabrook and a yarn called Lago (Spanish for lake), I need a name that suggests water, but reflects my landlocked status.  Mountain stream?  Nolichucky? French Broad?  Both of those are rivers in this area.  Let's keep it simple: Blue Water.

Bad phone picture of Mount Vernon
It's been travel knitting for short jaunt. As I am on the advisory board for my grant, we get together a couple times a year to help with decision making. As some 'interesting'  changes are coming up, our feedback was rather important.  The meeting was in Alexandria, so instead of going across the river to DC to do my usual museum tour, I spent my time in this interesting city, both historic and modern.  I had a good time even with drizzly weather. Our meetings were at Mount Vernon,  but we got only a tiny bit of free time. My colleagues and I got to the outbuildings,  but not the main house.  Overheard a dad to his kid: "All you have to do is find a rich widow with lots of land."  Sounds like good advice, by the upkeep is tough. All the way around.

The first KAL session was last evening with my Knitters-along and a few people who were just there to sit and knit.  Everyone's Seabrook was getting off to a fine start.  And we've all decided to stick with garter stitch rather than seed stitch.  Too many purls!

This weekend coming up?  The 3rd annual Asheville Yarn Crawl. I'll probably get to a few - mostly to make sure my fiber is nicely stocked - and maybe to check out Echoview Fiber Mill. Although kind of a schlep, I've been wanting to visit so perhaps now is the time. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Going Analog

Although the blog is quiet, the world headquarters of Smoky Mountain Fibers has been a flurry of color.  I dyed lots of fiber for a felting class and even more fiber for my retail business.  I am a contributing member of a local yarn shop here in Asheville (NC), Friends & Fiberworks (aka FFW).  As one of the friends, I work at the shop several hours a month and they carry an array of my patterns and fibers.  The shop participates in a number of fiber festivals and knitting and crochet shows, so my fiber travels in the booth.  If you were at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival in March or Stitches South in Atlanta a few weeks ago, you may have seen my work.  They'll be at the Kentucky Sheep &Fiber Festival in May, so my fiber will be a large part of the shop's display.

So in the interest of all this retail business, I've been keeping the dyepots warm.  I try to dye around the spectrum, so this weekend I concentrated on the reds.  Rosy golds, rusty oranges, fiery reds.  Last week it was all about the greens - blue-greens, olives, froggy, grassy, emerald, chartreuse, every green I can make - even one that was a rather poisonous neon green seldom found in nature.

But with all this dyeing, why am I ignoring my Etsy shop (and my blog)?  I say that it's my lack of a decent camera.  I tell myself that it is the time factor.  I am right on both counts.  I don't have a decent camera, though I could buy one.  The camera built into my phone is better than any stand-alone camera that I own.  Not bad as you can see here.  Not fabulous, but not bad.  I think that researching the perfect camera (and they keep changing) is standing in the way.  My essential cheapness is an issue too.  The perfect camera is scary expensive. 

The time factor is more telling.  Even though I have a demanding day job that requires considerable travel,  I work most Saturdays and an evening every week in the yarn shop.  I design workshops and teach classes as part of my day job, but I also write patterns and knit samples for the yarn shop and it's fun! I've also taught a number of classes and hosted a knit-along or two.  I'm also doing a good bit of knitting for myself.  This winter I completed 5 sweaters, although 3 were in timeout since the previous spring.  (I couldn't help it.  Spring came in February, 2012.  Who wants to knit on a wool sweater when it's 70 degrees out? I have another one on the needles, but need to figure out what I want to do for the closures, so that will likely marinate until next fall.  Hmmm...maybe a zipper?   I've already started a cotton top.  See what I mean?). 

I think the real 'problem' is that I'm involved in a strong, lively, in-person fiber community, so the pull of digital is not so strong.  I get positive feedback from my colleagues at the yarn shop, for my customers in the shop and the felting teachers who purchase my fibers.  I'm teaching knitting and dyeing classes.  People seek out my help with knitting problems, they want my advice in choosing yarns for projects.  Cyberspace is a wonderful place to visit and indeed I go there everyday, but it is not my main sense of community. 

As I make choices about how I spend my time, I am liking the present time and space.  Yesterday I spent my time doing what I love to do:  I took a walk. I cooked.  I dyed fiber. I worked played in the garden.  I even packaged fiber for the upcoming KY show, but I didn't post a one of those luscious rovings to my Etsy shop!

This doesn't mean I'm going offline - not at all.  I'm getting ready to host an online knit-along on the FFW Ravelry group & Facebook page.  I'm back on the blog.  Watch for some new patterns!  But I'm living in the real world as well as the digital.  They're both good.