29 June 2009

Midcoast Maine Yarn Crawl

On another grey, rainy day I thought I'd plan my next theoretical yarn crawl, this one in my little neck of Midcoast Maine. Working our way up, starting in Freeport:

Grace Robinson: You can see the sign for Fine Yarns and Needlepoint from I-295 (directions on their website). It's a large, open store with an entire garment rack of samples. They carry Rowan, Colinette, Berocco, Dale of Norway, Mountain Colors and many others. I've only been there once, and the shop didn't have that warm, cosy feeling of the modern yarn shops, though that could have been because I was the only customer at that moment. They were nice, but the vibe was more the old-style yarn shop where customers follow flat-knit patterns to the letter, even using the same color yarn as in the pattern, and then pay someone who works for the shop to sew the sweater up for them. But maybe that's just me. They had a great selection of yarns, and if you are in Freeport and can't convince your traveling companions to drive a few more miles north, you will find yarn to satisfy your itch. They do also have a large selection of needlepoint supplies, so I will take my mom there when my parents visit. Open daily.

But if you can drive a few miles further North, take the Route 1 Midcoast exit and head to Brunswick where you will find "YARN" (as in a big sign proclaiming "YARN" on the front of a charming Victorian set back from the road) at Purl Diva. This is really my LYS-away-from-home. Ellen is awesome and has been the Diva for three years. Before that she was an Upper-West-Sider, so we have more than just a love of yarn in common. There is a wall of hand-dyed sock yarn to set you drooling right when you walk in. She stocks Fleece Artist, Madeline Tosh, Malabrigo, Berocco, Peace Fleece, Dream in Color, Misti Alpaca, Sheep Shop, Lorna's Laces, and many others, as well as tons of patterns, books, needles, notions, and some fiber, too. The last time the whole family visited, Nick said he now understood about the wool fumes. If you're hungry, stop at the Brunswick Diner (wonderful lobster rolls amongst other things), then, when you pull out of their parking lot continuing North on Route 1, get ready to turn right at the next street and you're there! Purl Diva is set back from the road a little, and be sure to park in back. Closed on Tuesdays

If you have any yarn money left and would like a cuppa while browsing, don't turn left at the intersection after leaving Purl Diva and head for The Knitting Experience Cafe where you will find the big red couch, coffee and tea, and yarns such as Blue Sky Alpacas, Jojoland, Noro, Spunky Eclectic, and more. When checking out the website (where you can order yarn if not on a yarn crawl), be sure to check out the About Us section and then consider making a Knitted Knocker. They are right behind the Curtis Library, which has it's annual book sale the weekend before Independence Day, which you might also want to visit. Closed on Sundays.

Now, get yourself back to Route 1-North and head to Bath, which is both charming with its antique houses and cobbled sidewalks and a real, working town with Bath Iron Works building ships to order. Once you're under the bridge you will see the big, old warehouse that houses Halcyon Yarn on your left at the light. Turn! If you knit, crochet, spin, weave, braid rugs, tat lace, or dye fiber or yarn, you will be so excited to visit. It's a big place, and there is a lot to see including Brown Sheep, Misti Alpaca, JaggerSpun, Noro, Malabrigo, Halcyon's Signature Collection, and more. There is also a room filled with books (and a little gas stove for those chilly days), plenty of notions, and bargain bags, not to mention the baskets of fiber off to the right. Open daily in the summer (closed on Sundays the rest of the year).

Now, go have something to eat at Byrne's Irish Pub or Café Creme, which has free WiFi, so you can add all your purchases to your Stash on Ravelry, or Marnee's Cookie Bistro, which also has WiFi, then get yourself back to Route 1-North and head over the bridge to Woolwich. Yes, Woolwich.

A couple of miles along you will see a "YARN" sign on the left. Follow the signs and visit the lovely farm full of sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens, ducks, and rabbits and, more importantly, the yarn shed. You have reached Romney Ridge Farm, home of hand-dyed and sometimes even hand-spun yarny goodness. Kelly is very talented and clearly loves her flock. I enjoy reading her blog, too, which allows me the adventure of having a sheep farm without having to get up so early. My sister's Sassymetrical is from their yarn. I can hardly wait to visit again this year. Open daily, Sundays by chance.

Here's hoping the weather improves!

26 June 2009

WIPs June 2009

  • Nick's Hap Blanket: Frustratingly, I knit on most of the border on the "private" side of the work and only just realized it last night. Nick, dear man, of course said he wouldn't care which way the border faced, but I do, so RIP! This may be in time-out for a little while. The CC stripes are so beautiful on the public side that they have to match, center and border.
  • Knit tie project for Dad: Yes, Father's Day presents are late this year. And I'm working this idea out to be a pattern, so it takes time. But I think it will turn out nicely.
  • My sweater in Schaeffer Nancy: All done but the neckline, and I think I've figured out what I want to do, so some Seed Stitch and picking up of stitches is in my near future. In the meantime I may wear the sweater today anyway - it is cosy and the weather is chill and damp.
  • Gerda Stole: I started this one for a friend as a "thank you" but our friendship is on the wane and I've messed up the current row, so there's not much motivation right now, though I like all the FOs I've seen. I think I prefer lace that repeats in much smaller doses so that I can knit without consulting the chart five times in a row.
  • My First Socks: Alright, I've finally gotten to the ribbing at the top on the second one. Embarassingly close, I know.

    And then there are the projects for which I have yarn here. It's hard being away from the stash, but I'm surviving.

  • Matryoshka dolls for Isobel and someone else
  • Ishbel in Malabrigo Lace for me
  • OR Ishbel in Fleece Artist Suri Blue (not sure that is what the yarn wants to be, but I love that hank of yarn!)
  • Whisper Cardigan in some grey Super Due Merino
  • Shawl/Stole of my own devising in Alpaca Silk (still rolling the ideas around in my head on this but think I'm close)
  • Another Hap Blanket once I gain control of the first one in Encore

    Guess all that will keep me busy. Man, I'm frustrated about the edging on the Hap Blanket. I can't believe I didn't notice before row 25 (of the 36-row edging). Sigh. Oh, well, that's the way the cookie crumbles. I'm off to read Eloise in Moscow with Isobel while Penelope naps. Enjoy your day!
    P.S. Sorry there are no pictures! I couldn't bear to snap the incorrect Hap Blanket. Plus, I'm working on Nick's machine, since mine won't pick up the Wi-Fi signal. Sigh.
  • 22 June 2009

    FO: Sassymetrical for MB

    Pattern: Sassymetrical by Gay Schiff [Ravelry link]
    Yarn: Romney Ridge Farm Hand-dyed 64% wool 36% mohair blend in Green, 360 yards, and I used just about every last one
    Needle: US8

    This one is for my sister. I gave the yarn to her for Christmas and told her she could knit something herself with it or have me knit something, though I could make no promises as to when any item would be complete. She opted for my making something, and here it is. The Sassymetrical pattern is fun and quick. I like the little puff to the sleeves. Sadly, it is too warm, even with it's little cap sleeves, for her to wear now, especially as she leaves for two months of research work in Afghanistan. But the wool/mohair blend will be ready to warm her up in Berlin this fall where she is working on her Ph.D.

    Pardon the flash photography - it was rainy in New York, and it's rainy here. Some day we'll have bright daylight again and proper photography. But I've been meaning to blog about this one for a while and wanted to do so before MB leaves Wednesday morning. Hope you like this little sweater, sis!

    21 June 2009

    Happy Father's Day

    Happy Father's Day to my Dad. He's such a wonderful father, understanding, supportive, loving, generous, and I don't think my Mom could ask for a better partner. I wish I had a picture of him with his Hemlock Ring Blanket to show you all. I knit it for his birthday a few weeks ago (I know! What do you do for the man who "just wants his family around him" when his birthday and Father's Day are three weeks apart and whose daughters live halfway across the country and halfway around the world?). Apparently, he folds it in half and wears it like a shawl every night to fall asleep in watching the news. I love him so.

    And Happy Father's Day to Nick. I am so lucky to have found a partner like him (again). He is a wonderful father to all three of our children, supportive, patient, loving, and generous. Heck, he even understands yarn stashing and supports that! He is such an involved parent that we really are partners in this raising kids game. I am so grateful that he sent me that email almost two years ago. I love him more than I can say, so I'm knitting him a Hap Blanket to bundle him up in some woolly love.

    Unfortunately, it's raining (again), so no cookout tonight, but we did have pancakes for breakfast. I think naps and movies and pizza are on order for the rest of the day.

    Enjoy your Father's Day, everyone!

    17 June 2009

    FO: Matryoshka Japonais (New Pattern)

    Pattern: Matryoshka Japonais by Kathleen Dames (me!) [Ravelry link]
    Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Buscando Azul, Shocking Pink, Natural, and Paris Night
    Needle: US8/5.0mm
    Notions: Stuffing - I used poly-fill for this one but plan to use wool roving for the next kajillion of these

    Honestly? I'm just tickled pink with myself here. These little cuties came out very much the way I imagined them, and I mastered a couple of techniques (intarsia, as well as actually finishing a stranded colorwork project - some Endpaper Mitts are languishing somewhere) in the process.

    Penelope gets all agitated whenever she sees them and crawls to where they have been sitting. I had to wait for the sun to finally come out yesterday to photograph them before letting her have them as her own. And Isobel wants her own set, too, or at least "the baby one, Mama", so I'll have to figure out another color combination.

    This pattern is for sale on Ravelry here. If you are interested in a copy and are not on Ravelry yet, what are you waiting for? But while you're waiting, if you can't live without the pattern, please contact me at kathleendames at gmail dot com.

    16 June 2009


    It's official. I'm now a Ravelry designer. You can find my first pattern here. It's a full write-up of the EZ as Pi Beret pattern I blogged about back in April. It's still free, but now it comes in a nicely formatted PDF with a proper chart and notes and whatnot. You can download the nicely formatted PDF from this link directly (in case you're not a Raveler yet, and if that is the case go sign up!).

    I'm finalizing my next pattern, which will be a "for sale" one, since I hope my cleverness is clever enough that some people might want to buy it. Ellen of Purl Diva fame saw the prototype and got me thinking about various clever directions to head in next. I hope to have it formatted tomorrow.

    I hope there is more cleverness to come and will keep you posted.

    FO: Triangle Shawl

    Pattern: Basic Bottom-up Triangle Shawl [Ravelry link]
    Yarn: Farmhouse Yarns Silk Blend (34% Silk, 33% Cotton, 33% Lamb’s Wool) in Brilliant Violet from Sit & Knit in New Buffalo, Michigan*
    Needle: US10/6.0mm
    Recipient: Barbara (Daniel's wife)

    This yarn has been sitting in my stash for a little while, and I couldn't quite figure out what it wanted to be. I'd tried to cast on with it once before but had not enjoyed the knitting then. I even considered selling the yarn. Am I glad I didn't!

    After attending a shawl knitting class with THE Joan Schrouder I was inspired to try different kinds of shawl construction. This one is knit from the bottom up until I'd just about run out of yarn, which is pretty much what you have to do when you have just one skein of the stuff.

    I used a yarn-over increase to start each row and am pretty sure the last time I YO-ed at the beginning of a row it was a mistake. Hehe But we used this increase in Joan's class, and it makes for a nice little bit of laciness at the edge, as well as a stretchy edge. I didn't want to get into a lace pattern with this yarn because I think it shows off best in simple garter stitch.

    The yarn is really neat, a little bit thick and thin, a little barber pole-esque with the strands of wool, silk, and cotton, as the cotton doesn't take the dye. It is truly "brilliant violet" - a beautiful shade of purple. It is not very elastic, what with all that silk and cotton, but the garter stitch makes the fabric elastic, so it blocked out nicely. I also think this blend will make for a good year-round shawl; Barbara and Daniel live much of the year in Burlington, Vermont, but spend the winter in Florida, so I didn't want to knit her something woolly but wanted it to have some wool. I think this turned out just right as Goldilocks would say.

    And Barbara really likes it, saying it's her favorite color.

    *I found Sit & Knit while visiting my BFF's 2007 summer rental, which is where I told her and her husband that Nick and I had gotten back together. Ah, memories.

    13 June 2009

    FO: Yarmulke

    Pattern: Yarmulke by Jenny White from Greetings from Knit Cafe
    Yarn: Madeline Tosh Sock in Lapis from Yarns in the Farms
    Needle: US2/2.75mm
    Made for: Daniel (Peter's father)

    This was a quickie, but a goodie. Be sure to check the errata, if you have the first printing of the book.

    And the yarn! Love the semi-solid colorway. Such a jewel-like radiance. Since this project took about 40 yards, I can use the yarn for another project, too!

    10 June 2009

    Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Things to Do During "Me" Time

    This week's 10 on Tuesday is a little late, but that's OK. I was too busy 2-ing yesterday to 9.

    1. Knit
    2. Design knits
    3. Ogle/fondle yarn
    4. Watch "bad" TV (ANTM, Real Housewives), though I do that with Nick, too
    5. Bake
    6. Read
    7. Watch movies
    8. Get a pedicure (no point in a manicure, I just knit the paint off)
    9. Blog/Facebook
    10. Sleep in

    WWKIP 2009 - Save the Dates

    Don't forget! This weekend is World Wide Knit in Public Day, as is next weekend. In the future WWKIP will be on the third weekend in June, since TNNA is on the second weekend, and there are a lot of fiber craftisans who don't want to miss out on the celebration.

    We'll be in New York this weekend and Maine next weekend, so I will get to celebrate in both places this year! Not sure what I'm going to do in NYC, since we're gearing up to head to Maine, but I'll try to do something, perhaps hit the Yarntopia sale. And next weekend I imagine I'll spend a little time with the Purl Diva herself, Ellen, at Purl Diva in Brunswick.

    03 June 2009

    FO: Tempest

    Pattern: Tempest by Ann Weaver from Knitty Spring 2008 [Ravelry project]
    Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in Impressionist Sky (color is pretty accurate in first image)
    Needles: US6 (4.0 mm)
    Notions: seven buttons from Mood Fabrics
    Modifications: Didn't slip first stitches and used one color of yarn, but two skeins so followed the stripe sequence in case the two skeins proved to be too different

    Love it! Love it, love it, love it! This sweater is just great. The fabric has a nice, crisp feel to it, thanks to knitting this fingering-weight yarn at a loose gauge. I've been too busy wearing this sweater to even blog about it, and, of course, when I get around to doing so my faithful photographer is off suffering through Working Parent duties at Isobel's school (evidently, she had a hard time with Daddy being there, harder than the time she usually has with me as WP on Thursdays). Anyway, this is a great little sweater, and I will get lots of wear out of it.

    And can you believe it only took two skeins of sock yarn? I even have some left over that I've contemplated adding to the sleeves for more coverage (right now they're just slightly curly stockinette of the cast-on edge, which I'm satisfied with) come Fall. For now it's just a lovely summer sweater. I'll try to get a picture of me in it soon.

    02 June 2009

    Ten on Tuesday: 10 Great Songs from the Last Year

    I didn't even blog last week's Ten on Tuesday: Celebrities You're Tired of Hearing About, since I didn't want to give those people any more exposure (hehe) and since I like Angelina Jolie (long brown hair, plump lips, loves her kids - we could be twins!). And this week I don't even know any songs from the last year. I mean, we fast-forward through the musical guest on SNL unless it's Madonna or Beyoncé or someone like that. Even then we might FF. I will definitely have something to say next week, though: 10 Favorite Things to Do During "Me" Time. Of course, the Top Five are "Knit".

    Summer Portland Yarn Crawl

    E.T.A. This is Portland, Maine. Keri's comment reminded me once again of the East Coast/West Coast Portland confusion.

    We are going to spend much of the summer up in Bath, and I think Maine may be the land of yarn, at least the Midcoast region. Thanks to Ysolda's recent visit to the area, I am inspired to plan a Portland Yarn Crawl.

    Here's what I have so far:

  • Tess' Designer Yarns: Home of beautiful hand-dyed yarns, the indie-dyer has a bricks & mortar store, which is great for me since I don't have plans to attend any of the shows where most people encounter this yarn.
  • Seaport Yarn: No, I haven't been to the Wall Street location yet, perhaps an NYC crawl in the Fall. From what I've seen on the interwebs, this is quite a venerable store.
  • Knit Wit: I visited this LYS last summer and really liked it. I have yet to knit up the yarn I bought (some GGH Wollywasch that I plan to turn into a Fairisle yoke sweater), but that doesn't mean I can't check them out again. The shop is in a neat neighborhood with other cool shops, a tasty cafe (can't remember, but it may be vegan), and a great antiquarian book shop for Nick.
  • Portland Fiber Gallery: Just down the street from Knit Wit, I visited this shop last summer, too. I'm not ready for a wheel yet, but in addition to wheels, looms, and fiber, they have dyes and finished yarn. If you can't make it to Portland, be sure to check out their Etsy shop for beautiful hand-dyed yarns and fiber.
  • Central Yarn Shop: They bill themselves as "Brand Name Yarns for Less", and it would be great to find workhorse yarns at discount prices. We shall see.

    And Classic Elite seems to have some sort of office in Portland (Google lists them as Yarn Wholesale). Maybe I could convince them that they need me in some capacity or other: yarn tasting, tech editing, design.

    Anyone want to join me? I need to document the Bath area LYSes, too, which also make for a good crawl. I'll have to start thinking about that NYC Fall Yarn Crawl, too.
  • 01 June 2009


    This is based on House Beautiful's Favorites questionnaire in the June 2009 issue. I enjoyed reading all the designers' answers and kept replying in my head with my own. What are your favorites?

    flower peonies, roses, lilacs, violets, ranunculus, hydrangeas, freesia (I know! I can't pick just one)
    sofa shape traditional three-cushion or comfy equivalent (though not one of those with cushions you get lost in) without too many Cheerios under said cushions
    stationery leetle note cards from Paper Source
    comfort food home-made Tollhouse cookies with a bit of Kosher salt sprinkled on before baking & sushi
    lamp one of those beautiful blown glass ones from Simon Pearce - I've never been able to decide which shape/size I like best so am still without one (well, that and they aren't exactly free)
    alarm clock Isobel and Penelope - I'd sleep 'til ... 7:30 without those girls
    mattress a great one from IKEA whose name looks/sounds like all the other IKEA mattress names
    bed pillow extra firm one with mostly goose feathers, not down
    car color varies but always with that green dot on the side
    everyday dishes I'd like to say my Tiffany Nature china [PDF link] (sadly discontinued) but we're not quite ready for that chez Purly (despite its being microwave and dishwasher safe and all), so Nick's bachelor dishes and the plastic stuff from IKEA that every family with small kids seems to have these days
    color robin's egg blue
    coffee table book The Natural Knitter
    all-purpose glass "Working Glass" from Crate and Barrel, though I'm thinking of changing to CB2's Marta
    soap Lush Sea Vegetable soap - sea salt, seaweed, lavender, lime - what's not to love?
    ice cream B&J's Chubby Hubby or Peppermint Stick
    towel fluffy white ones from LL Bean
    chair Louis Ghost - I have no idea if it's comfortable but I love the shape and lucite-ness of it - even better is the little Lou Lou!
    scented candle I prefer the no-smell of a clean house.
    wallpaper toile, pretty much any toile
    sheets white damask stripe since college, just keep replacing them when they wear out
    cleaning supply Mrs Meyers All-Purpose Cleaner, Lemon Verbena or Geranium or Lavender
    toothpaste Crest Whitening Expressions Extreme Herbal Mint - dumb name, awesome toothpaste
    showerhead Speakman Anystream
    vacuum Dyson - the yellow upright one, had it for years
    lightbulb We've gone to CFLs for the most part, but I still like those "natural light" incandescents
    coffee or tea Zabar's or Fairway's French Roast or the equivalent - the darker and richer, the better; one of my personal failings is an indifference to tea
    kitchen gadget footed end-grain cutting board and Wusthof Santoku
    workhorse fabric don't have one yet but expect to shortly, now that I'm getting to know my sewing machine
    pen Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine Rolling Ball in black
    artist John Singer Sargent (wish he could have painted my portrait), Vermeer (what is there to say?), Van Gogh (oh, the impasto)

    And a few questions that were oddly omitted from the HB list:

    yarn Malabrigo Merino Worsted - such a joy to knit even if it might pill all over
    needles Bryspun circulars and short DPNs, though I'm coming around on Addi Turbos for some projects
    notion black sheep tape measure and silverplate leaf stitch markers (from Knitty City)