Last year, a whole bunch of us met up at the Inishmore Fiber Fling. The air smacked of sauvignon blanc wine, cold and a bit acrid. I was looking forward to walking around and taking it all in, not having been before, though some people had more specific desires. Judy wanted to find some blue and brown rag wool with the feel of well-polished and varnished wood. Heather was looking for silky plum llama yarn, and Tove was after some ever-elusive bumpy green cat worsted. Krista was hoping to barter an English spaniel fleece for some rare sandpaper cashmere. Femiknit Mafia was after some rough maroon laceweight with teal, turquoise and green marl. Talk about specific!
After a while, we split up for the arduous task of hunting down specialty hardware. Jenn was intent on finding a spinning wheel with Jell-O finishings. Jeanette was looking for a wheel produced in the mountains of Pluto. Me, I just wanted a corduroy swift, and a hair gel-powered ball winder. Erich, always good for appreciating technical subtleties, was after a wheel one could use while walking or sleeping. Come to think of it, I'm not so sure he spins.
We met up around noon for sustenance and a little knitting to fortify us for the afternoon. Hannah pulled out a sock, considered it pensively, and held it up. What do you think? I was going for velvety. "Dude, it looks like you got spiky instead," said Jenn. "Holy shit!," said Mafia, "it looks like the yarn was spun under the influence." "Of iron?" suggested Tove. "No, carbonated water," replied Mafia. Samantha pulled out her score of the morning: three pounds of squirrel roving in Prussian blue. "How the heck did they get that to stick together?" asked Dorothy with a questioning look. "Wet clay," Sam replied. Luise chose lunch as the occasion to turn her first heel. She was elated. She began, "It's like ... " then Erich jumped in with " ... getting the key experiment to work on a new idea." Heather and I nodded serenely, but Luise cast about for someone who might have another analogy. Dorothy was about halfway through a quick washcloth, and came to grips with disliking the bottom edge. Krista volunteered, "Perhaps you should try the Nova Scotia woodland caribou cast on. That or the backwards provisional sofa hippo technique."
All of a sudden, we all jumped up, invigorated by lunch, knitting, chatter, coffee and some oatmeal cookies prepared with chocolate, wool, ecstasy and gold leaf. I spent much of the afternoon trying my hand at spinning. After three hours, I had something that looked like three cats and a dog had spent as much time dancing the Macarena on the roving. "Holy shit!" someone said, and I responded with a resigned frown. More satisfying than the spinning were unexpected celebrity sightings. George Clooney was hosting a tiger-shearing demonstration, and many were gob smacked. Those who weren't were divided between doubting his creds and just waiting for Batgirl or Cyndi Lauper to show up.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was haggling between the guy who invented New Coke and Dick Cheney that turned into a full-tilt fight over a bear fleece. We watched unabashedly for quite a while, entertained by the hilarious commentary of David Letterman and Rick Mercer. Next, Martha Stewart held her own against Sauron in a duel for a spider monkey fleece. It was a good thing that George Bush or Stephen Harper didn't show, because I do believe that some of us would have relieved him of their nads. Not that they can't knit. After one more round of checking that nothing else needed buying, we decided to call it a day. There were smiles and hugs all around. "Next year let's meet in Hawaii!" suggested Jeanette.
Riding back in the car, we discussed some small laments. "It's too bad Elizabeth Zimmerman, Emma Goldman, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, and Isaac Newton couldn't have been there," said Krista. Not entirely satisfied with her haul, Hannah said, "Boy, I wish I'd done my homework." Heather, who was zonked in the back seat with knitting in her lap, said, "Yes, it was due today," without even waking. I just looked out the window and watched the moon, with Judy sleeping on my shoulder.
In case you find electron micrographs a little too sterile (oh yes, low-flying pun), you can get a micro zoo of various organisms causing maladies, deleterious to health, driving calamities, or requiring extermination, all interpreted as plush toys. I will probably resist any urge to make knitted, felted versions, as even the cuddly version of my favorite organism makes me a bit uneasy.
On the day of the Knit Out, warm and muggy, I needed a small project for gadding about. I grabbed needles that looked like a good fit, and the yarn for Peach Pit's scarf. I cast on waiting for the B line train.
First attempt: cartridge belt rib. Nyet! Too bulky for a narrow scarf in bulky yarn.
Second attempt: horizontal ribs on the bias. Nope, still too clunky.
Third attempt: a traditional 2x2 rib. Word!
Casting on an extra stitch at each edge and slipping the first stitch in each row has drastically changed my perspective on traditional rib for scarves.
Technical point: knit last stitch, turn work, and slip first stitch purlwise gives a lovely, smooth edge. Purl last stitch, turn work, and slip first stitch knitwise gives exactly the same effect.
The up and coming designer Jen and her conspirator Laurie had a booth at a fair at a wildlife sanctuary this past Saturday, and trust me, the weather was perfect for a jaunt here in New England. Emily, her beautiful and freshly-minted sweater, Peach Pit, and I all piled in Priscilla Queen of the MassPike and headed south. High points for Peach Pit: the giant inflatable slide with ball pit landing, walking in the woods, eating popcorn, and scoring a bracelet custom made by Laurie. High points for me: Emily's company, seeing a heron pointed out by Emily, and scoring this lovely necklace, also made by Laurie:
During the drive back, Peach Pit conked out, which meant she was fresh for Circles, where she played with Allison's daughter while I shopped, and of course, purchased. Judy was working, and honeys, she's got an amazing project going in two flavors of Farmhouse Yarn. Leanne was hanging out as well, and assorted others. When my lungs started getting tight it was time to go.
The weather on Sunday was suited to staying in, hunkering down, and finishing the knitting on a second Callisto, this time in brown Frog Tree Alpaca. Luise, one of the winners of the stash raffle, came over in the afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed her company. She's a professional editor, and she raised my consciousness about various chronic abuses of the language. We share some bugaboos, including our distaste for "grow" used as a transitive verb. I hope to introduce her to more local knitters soon.
For all of you lovely people who leave comments, please know that I am still catching up on my responses!