Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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October 2006 - Posts

You lookin' at me???

Definitely trick. Tricks of the mind, that is.

I was so sure that today was my blogiversary. Until this afternoon, when I realized, gee, did I really start blogging on Halloween? Surely I woulda remembered that? Yep, I woulda. My blogiversary was actually 10/25, almost a week ago. Hahaha!

A lot has happened in the last year. A year ago, Scott and I were unemployed, just married, and just back from our honeymoon in Atlantic Canada where I learned to spin. (And yes, I did mean to do a spinnaversary post. Maybe tomorrow!). Today, we're employed minutes from home, still married and in love, and expecting:

14 weeks 5 days
14 weeks 5 days

(Woah, nelly, I look so much more pregnant from the outside than when I look down!)

It was easier to blog when I was jobless.

I started blogging to give back to the knitblogging community, to share my projects, and to share the love. I loved seeing what other people were working on, and learning from their tips, successes and mistakes. I found inspiration in their choice of projects and yarns, color combinations, pattern modifications; seeing them make things I never could, never would, never would have thought to, would have wished to. When teaching some coworkers to knit, I enjoyed bringing in my projects to inspire or encourage them, things they could knit with what they knew. I wanted to do the same for other knitters. Give back what I had been getting.

Of course, I didn't realize that spinning would quickly take center stage. I might have picked a different blog name if I did. :)

In the last year most of my fiber arts growth has been on the fiber end. Learning to spin, learning to dye, getting my first wheel, and then second (hehe), buying and processing my first fleece, getting my carder. In the next year I hope to play more with color and fiber blending in spinning. But with a child on the way, I suppose I'll be lucky to have the time and energy to keep doing what I've been doing. Life is changing.

I've met a lot of great people through this blog. And I'm so glad to have become part of a wonderful community. Thank you for reading, and celebrating, commiserating, encouraging and laughing with me.

Yesterday's title was an obscure BSG reference. How geeky am I?

The Goods

From Morehouse Farm Merino, enough laceweight for a simple raglan cardigan:

Morehouse Farm Merino lace

merino something or other (2 strand?) for a scarf or hat or other:

Morehouse Farm Merino

more laceweight, handdyed, for lace scarves:

Morehouse Farm Merino lace

All from the sale bin! Happy dance!

At Little Barn, 8 oz bombyx silk and 1 lb merino/silk to be dyed (bombyx to be blended, yum!):

Bombyx and merino/silk from Little Barn
I know, boring picture

Some lurvly Crosspatch Creations at Carolina Homespun:

Crosspatch Creations batts from Carolina Homespun 

Blended rovings at A Touch of Twist. Rambouillet/silk:

A Touch of Twist rambouillet/silk

and wool/nylon for socks:

A Touch of Twist wool/nylon

Handdyed merino/silk at Cloverleaf Farm, same vendor as my Falling Leaves shawl:

Cloverleaf Farms merino/silk
I'll try my luck at combining two more colorways

And the yummy handdyed cormo/alpaca from Foxhill Farm:

Foxhill Farms cormo/alpaca
yum yum yum yum yum

In the final analysis

Inevitably, I compared Rhinebeck with my experience at MDSW. Having gone to MDSW, I was not as overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people and stimuli, but I know some were. Here are my thoughts.

Pros for Rhinebeck

  • Just as Judy and Linda described, the grounds at Rhinebeck were nicer. Not as dusty, nicer layout. There weren't the swarms of people that is MDSW. It was definitely more breathable and relaxed.
  • Fall weather means people wearing knits! I loved seeing handknits everywhere.
  • I loved the fall foliage. Loved it. And not just 'cuz it matched my shawl.
  • The food at Rhinebeck was really good and reasonably priced. I would not hesitate to eat there again.

Pros for MDSW

  • There are more vendors at MDSW. It's good to have a game plan and pace yourself. There's a lot to see and do.
  • There are more events at MDSW. More classes. And more sheep.
  • The fleece show at MDSW can't be beat. Period. When I go back to MDSW (next year I'll be in labor or recovering, so maybe 2008?), I will definitely want to volunteer at the fleece show and sale. Besides meeting some really nice folks, I learned a heck of a lot about fleeces and breeds in those few short days. A heck of a lot.
  • I felt there were more opportunities to try wheels at MDSW. I was a little disappointed that there weren't more at Rhinebeck.


  • I did better with purchases at Rhinebeck, but only because of what I learned buying at MDSW. I didn't buy anything that I regret, and I'm proud of that.
  • There were more people I knew at Rhinebeck. Most likely because it's closer to home. But also, I know more people now than I did then.

PS:  I did make noise about the early departure on Saturday. Unfortunately for my sleepy head, I would do it again. Not only was Martha right about our parking spot, but we were able to enjoy the grounds and start our shopping before the rush.

I'm cracking up that hpny thought the whole Morehouse haul was mine. Ha! As IF! I mean... ahem, let's not talk about the box of Debbie Bliss yarn that arrived shortly before Rhinebeck. (Curses, Little Knits, and your irresistable sales!)

Spaazlicious, Cheryl, PumpkinMama and Kate know my habits well. My Morehouse stash was lower right. Photos tomorrow.

So. Rhinebeck Actual.

My compadres got the idea from past visits to get there early. And each time we talked about it, the earlier that time got.

I'm so not a morning person. Regardless, I got up at 6 am after staying up waaaay too late chatting and spinning. 6 am, people! We were out of the house shortly after 7 and arrived in Rhinebeck around 8.

The festival starts at 10.


We had a delightful breakfast in town (croissant and hot chocolate, yummers), and were on the festival grounds shortly after 8:30.

Oh, did I mention the festival starts at 10?

At Rhinebeck At Rhinebeck

The grounds were quiet, non-frenzied, peaceful. The weather was gorgeous: blue skies, glorious foliage, crisp air perfect for shawl-a-wearing. And despite trepidations on the how, I wore the shawl. You betcha.

At Rhinebeck

Some vendors were still getting set up, but most were ready, so we started browsing and shopping. First purchase: Little Barn. 8 oz bombyx silk and 1 lb merino/silk. Damned budget.

At Rhinebeck

Anne dropped off her gorgeous casino shawl at the Briar Rose booth. Her photos cannot do it justice -- the marriage of pattern, rich color, tencel sheen and drape -- she's lucky she got it back.

Becky mentioned she wanted to see the fabled Socks That Rock, so off to The Fold we went. We were there at 10; the booth was packed, the line already an hour long. We bailed.

At Rhinebeck

I drooled at the Skaska booth. Soft and luxurious laceweight yarns in every fiber combination you could ever desire. I wanted to pet, gaze, admire, and study so I could spin my own. I wanted to purchase a skein so I could pet, gaze, admire and study it at home. Damned budget!

At Rhinebeck

As we headed back to the other side of the festival, we realized we had no way to get in touch with Anne and Annette, who were probably with Anne's mom and cousin. I had Becky's cell number, and she had mine, but we were together. I had Anne's number, but she had no signal. Becky and I didn't have Annette's number. Tactical error.

So Becky and I wandered and had fun and before long, I had spent the rest of my budget. A little Crosspatch Creations at Carolina Homespun, some blended rovings at A Touch of Twist and more handdyed merino/silk at Cloverleaf Farm

At Rhinebeck

At Cloverleaf Farm, Joan (I think that's her name) slowly approached me and looked at my Falling Leaves shawl. She recognized her colors, but not her yarn. I explained how I had purchased 2 colorways from her at MDSW and plied them together and she was absoluately delighted to see her handdyed fiber in a project!

The Blogger Meetup

Hoo boy. It was a zoo. I was a bad blogger. The one photo I did take:

At Rhinebeck
Anne, Stephanie aka The Yarn Harlot, and me

Hey Sis, that's for you!

All those virtual hugs from last week transformed into actual hugs and it was truly wonderful. I was delighted to meet so many people I've been emailing, who have been commenting on my blog or whose blog I've been reading, or both. I was moved to receive so many heartful congratulations and well wishes on the little goober I'm cooking up. Thank you!

Budget spent, group reunited, and with Anne having hardly looked at anything fiber related while showing her family a good time, I found my mission: Get the girl some fiber -- Quick! It was whirlwind, it was focused, it was enabling at its best. We hit all the choice spots of the day in rapid succession and her bags quickly grew. Mission: Accomplished!

At Rhinebeck

I called Scott to let him know I had spent, but not exceeded, my budget. And what did he say? Well, first he laughed. Then he said, "Let me know if you see something special. I have some money in my budget if you need it." What a sweetie. I was a little sad about not being able to buy more, but I was also determined to stay within budget. A point of personal pride, y'know? Proving I can do it! But still, a little sad.


Lordy lordy, that Carole sure knows how to throw a party. I was exhausted, but you couldn't have dragged me away. I enjoyed some wonderful conversations and drank way too much -- cider, of course. Words can't convey.

Back at the house we spread out our haul. And it was large. We admired. And pulled out wheels to play. I calculated how close to my budget I actually got. After 20 minutes of confusion, I realized I had $26.96 left! Elation!

Next day it went to Foxhill Farm for 4 oz of gorgeous dyed cormo/alpaca. With $6.96 to spare. And I didn't spend it.


At Rhinebeck

Lazy day. Exhaustion. Everything between the knees and waist aching. Slow meandering through all the vendor halls. Random meetings of bloggers. Seeing Judy's beautiful dyed yarns:

At Rhinebeck

Talking about a wheel with Dave.

Reluctantly leaving. Instant withdrawal. Missing my compadres:

Our home at Rhinebeck


I came home to:

  • dinner ready and waiting (salmon, rice and broccoli)
  • a clean bathroom
  • bed sheets changed to soft jersey sheets, bed made
  • my mountainous piles of clothes on the dresser all folded

What a way to come home.

Looking over my pictures, and seeing everyone else's, I realized how few I took, especially of PEOPLE. Geez. I suck.

Rhinebeck, for me, was all about the people. Sure, I got some nice fiber (yup, nice fiber!), ate some darned good food, even tried a wheel. But it was spending time with, as Carole says, my people, that really made the weekend. From spending time with Anne and her two friends, running into people randomly and at the Blogger meetup, and hanging out with scads of knitbloggers at Winebeck, it was simply fabulous to meet people face to face, have conversations in real time, and get and give hugs.

I stayed with Anne and her friends Becky and Annette, at a house they had rented for the long weekend. They were so friendly and welcoming! I arrived on Thursday and we chilled and unwound with dinner and some spinning.

The house was secluded and spacious, with plenty of space for wheels and fiber. We spun in the living room the first night:

Our home at Rhinebeck

but moved to the dining area the second night because of better lighting:

Our home at Rhinebeck

It was fabulous.

Day one (Friday) we headed to CIA for lunch at Escoffier, their French restaurant. We had a wonderful time. Good food (student cooks), loved our servers (also students), and a great view:

Lunch at the CIA

That's right, we could see them preparing our food, performing their dance. And it was a performance. When they brought our dishes, they were covered. Two servers removed the four covers simultaneously -- the reveal -- oooooh.

Of course, we had to take photos of our food:

Lunch at the CIA Lunch at the CIA Lunch at the CIA
(damned tourists)

and our desserts, which were oh, so yummy:

Lunch at the CIA Lunch at the CIA Lunch at the CIA Lunch at the CIA

We rolled out of there, quite satisfied:

Lunch at the CIA
Becky, Annette, Anne and me

On the way to the bathroom Anne pointed out this guy in the cafe wearing a skirt and knitting. It turned out to be SweaterProject guy (we left without saying hi but saw him at the Blogger Meetup the next day). We shoulda known it'd be a blogger there for Rhinebeck.

From there it was on to the Morehouse Farm Merino shop:

Morehouse Farm Merino shop

Morehouse Farm Merino shop

Morehouse Farm Merino shop

Their yarn is sooooo sooooft.

There was a sales area, and if you know anything about me, you know... I couldn't... resist... a bahhhhgain.

Thing is, I had a budget for Rhinebeck. For the whole weekend, even for things bought outside, strictly speaking, Rhinebeck. A budget that I had proposed to Scott, and which he had accepted, followedy by, "but not a penny more!" And being more the spinner than knitter (or, having enough yarn to last my lifetime and not really needing any more), I really wanted to focus on fiber rather than yarn. But. A sale. Which amounted to almost half off.

It took a long time to decide, and I think I did a good job.

Here's our combined haul:

The Morehouse haul

Impressive, eh?

Guess how much is mine? :)

Wow, thanks so much for your kind words and well wishes! I feel like I got a bunch of virtual hugs all day long. What a great feeling. :)

Tomorrow I leave for Rhinebeck. This is a tough season to pack for, so I'm just bringing a little of everything, from shorts to sweaters and everything in between. Along with too much clothes, too much yarn, too much fiber, and hopefully enough water, I'll be taking this along:

Falling Leaves Shawl - blocking
3 blocking surfaces, baby!

It blocked out pretty big: 6 feet by almost 3 feet. After unpinning, it did shrink back just a bit, and the kite shape came back a hair, but not enough to be disconcerting. I stretched the sucker out, which I wasn't planning to do. I kinda liked the ruffled partial garterness of it all pre-blocking; but I also just wanted to see how far it would go. Pre-blocking it was about 2 feet to a side, so it stretched almost 50% more. Feel the Power!

So... how do I wear it???

I'm sick and running on 2 cylinders so I'll keep this short. (That's not the good news.)

A little motivation will get you a long way. All that wonderful foliage I saw after my last post motivated me to finish knitting the Falling Leaves shawl. I really wanted to have this shawl done while it matched those leaves:

Falling Leaves Shawl - in progress

Plus, I really want to wear this to Rhinebeck!

I was concerned about the smaller than expected size, and the non-flat top edge, and hoped blocking would take care of both. It's blocking now and seems fine!

The longer rows changed the striping behaviour drastically. Where before, a color spanned more than 1 row, towards the end, they didn't even cover a row. So the left and right edges don't match at all:

Falling Leaves Shawl - in progress  Falling Leaves Shawl - in progress

Not that I'm concerned. More amused.

As always, knitting with handspun trumps almost any other yarn. And knitting with dyed handspun that is forever changing color with complexity: delightful.

There's more good news. We (finally!) finished up season 2.5 of BSG (woowoo!) and (finally!) got to watch the first two episodes of the new season! The flip side: having to wait until Friday for a new episode. And with Rhinebeck and Scott's classes, it'll be more like next Tuesday... Ah, well. It's worth it.

The last good news is the best, of course:

and baby makes 3

Yup. Now you know the main reason I've been absent and so danged tired. We're due at the very end of April and we couldn't be more excited!

Ironically, I knit today. While waiting at the doctor's, and at a Microsoft developer event. Not because I was in the mood to knit, but because I'd rather be knitting than sitting there doing nothing. (And also to keep myself awake at the MS thing, but that didn't work the whole time....)

When I first saw this meme on Grumperina's blog, I was intimidated. I didn't think I could come up with 10 knitterly things about me. As I saw more lists pop up, I started to think I could do it. In the end, I had trouble keeping to just 10.

  1. I keep a spreadsheet to track my knitting projects and budget. I can get obsessive when it comes to my budget. When there's a good chunk of money in my budget, I feel like I have money burning in my pocket. When I have no money in my budget, I have little to no interest in going into a yarn shop.
  2. Currently I'm trying to keep my project list between 18 and 24 (yes, I have Knitters ADD and Startitis). Like Carole, I get a thrill when I can mark something as "Finished", but for me, it's because it means I can start another project!
  3. I learned to knit when I was 8, at school as part of an 8 week program, from a nice neighborhood lady. She taught us German or Continental Knitting. I really wanted to take cake decorating or typing and was really disappointed when I got my third choice.
  4. When I was 11 or 12 I went to Japan for 3 months. While I was there, my Aunt taught me the basics of machine knitting, including using the knitradar for shaping. I left with a manual bulky gauge Brother knitting machine and knit radar. When I got home, I tried to knit a scarf and a vest, but not understanding how gauge and fit worked, I soon gave up and left the machine in its box.
  5. My first handknit sweater was finished in high school. Technically it was a mess, between gauge, fit and needle size. I still wore it and loved it and the shape was very forgiving (it helped that it was the '80's).
  6. I didn't really learn about gauge until a few years ago and after many failed sweaters. I often knit gauge swatches, but usually very small ones, and the words "close enough" were often uttered. My knitting has improved greatly since I learned the importance of gauge. But I still occasionally screw it up.
  7. I really love to knit scarves. The simplicity, not needing to get gauge, the challenge of showcasing a particular yarn or stitch pattern, and the promise of a good fit, are all appealing to me.
  8. I don't like to think too hard when it comes to knitting. I like to knit. I like to make things. When I get stymied making calculations for sleeve caps because I'm substituting yarns, I'm very likely to stop knitting. When I get to the underarms and have to decide when to start the armholes, the sweater back may sit a while.
  9. When I'm driving and lost, I'd rather find an alternate route rather than backtrack, because I don't want to "waste time" going over the exact same road again. (This was how I got to know an area when I moved, and the reason I often wound up somewhere and said, "I've been here before!" without knowing when or how.) Similarly, with knitting, I hate negative progress. I hate having to frog and re-do what I've already done. When I have to rework a large section, I feel deflated. I am much better at backtracking on the driving front, so-so on the knitting front. It's hard. And still deflating.
  10. Several of the above seem to be examples or aspects of me being a lazy knitter: Small gauge swatches. Not wanting to re-work sections. Now wanting to think. The plus side of being a lazy knitter is learning how to fix mistakes so that I don't have to tink or frog back as much. I feel my knitting machine and crocheting experience come in handy in this area. I am not, however, a lazy spinner. Yet.

So, were these new to you?

For the past week or so I haven't felt like spinning, knitting or dyeing. And when I don't feel like spinning, knitting or dyeing, you can bet I don't feel like blogging about not spinning, knitting, or dyeing, either.

Life Chez 2LN is a little weird right now. Well, clearly, given the above.

Scott is taking 2 classes on top of a full time job, and that is changing our schedule and energy levels quite a bit. He's in class two nights a week, and tired tired tired from all that reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. I've been helping with papers and generally trying to be supportive, but I've also been tired tired tired from who knows what. Maybe I've got something. When you'd rather sleep than spin, knit or dye, you MUST be sick, right?

It could be the weather, Fall melancholy, global warming. It's hard to say.

Actually, my Fall funk is not so bad now. Maryse brought up a good point. She lives not far from me and also used to live nearer Boston. She said that Fall hits sooner here, even though we're only 26 miles away. Something about Boston and warming ocean waters. I have noticed that every time I go into Boston, it seems at least 5-10 degrees warmer. As far back as the alpaca spin-in, I remember thinking, wow, it still feels like summer here! Ditto for the Knit Out last week. We've lived here 3 years, but this is our first Fall not commuting into Boston, and therefore not experiencing Fall through Boston. Somehow, just knowing this has helped me accept it.

Okay, let's throw in a picture or two:

Navajo-plied Sunfires

That's what I finished up at the alpaca spin-in. The first bobbin was spun months ago, and I didn't keep a sample to work from, so the second skein is clearly skinnier than the first:

Navajo-plied Sunfires, closeup

Oh well. It's very soft and squishy Navajo-plied superwash merino, dyed and spun to be self-striping, from yellows to deep red and back. I was thinking socks, but I haven't been so good with finishing socks lately. Any suggestions? It's 4 oz of DK to fingering weight.

I also let it soak too long when setting the twist, so the little bit of color that bled warmed up the yellows. Oh well. No big deal.

There have been some fibery activities in the past week. I did go to the BASD meeting last week and had a good time. It was "show and tell" after a summer of not meeting, and it really struck me how much knitting with your own handspun is taken for granted among the members. I mean, sure, that's to be expected, right? They've been spinning for years and years and years, surely they're doing something with that handspun? But seeing just about everyone there making something or other with handspun was just such a breath of fresh air. So encouraging.

Saturday morning I went to the Fabric Place Knitters Breakfast. I was sure my luck would change this time. Third time's the charm. Well, in a way it was true. I had gone up at the beginning to show my handspun shawl-in-progress (they were giving out freebies, I was determined to get something; I got a pattern pamphlet I'll never use). After a long presentation from Berroco, they called out one round of numbers. I didn't get called. I had to leave. BUT. A friend of someone in my monthly Knit Club group won The Magic of Handweaving

and didn't want it, and kindly gave it to me! So, as usual, I didn't win anything; but I did walk away with a nice gift!

I left early to meet up with Pixie, who had flown up for a wedding. We had a really great time! She has a better description on her blog but I have the same picture:

Me n Pixie

As she said, she and I geeked out on fiber talk, and our husbands geeked out on computer and game talk. We're all BSG fans, so we knew we'd get along. ;)

Speaking of BSG, school is getting in the way of watching Season 2 episodes. We're halfway into Season 2.0. We'll just have to TiVo until we catch up. All you BSG-ers who ARE caught up: don't tell me what happens!

I am expecting to shake this funk soon. I've joined Margene and the Twisted Knitters:

and I'll be dyeing, spinning, and knitting something or other over the next several months. Reminds me of the Knitting Olympics, sans stress. I may call on you for opinions on a suitable project.

I also joined up with Carole and the Lonesome Skein folks today:

because I've got skeins, and I need to knit gifts. Do you?

I'll be leaving for Rhinebeck in just over 2 weeks! I can't wait! I will be really bummed if my mojo hasn't returned by then. Then, again, maybe my wallet (and Scott) will thank me?

If you're going, you can find me on Stitchy's Rhinebeck Bingo cards:

I'm so square.

If my mojo doesn't return soon, it may be quiet 'round here. But, my spinnaversary is Sunday, so I'll at least have a contest or something then.