Thursday, February 17, 2011

New and improved update with pics

I have so much to tell you but my mind is a bit mushy tonight so I beg you please ignore my non-linear blathering.  I am still spinning but my production has been a bit slow lately.  I've got a lot of shit going on, and I've chosen an odd spinning project which takes a bit longer than the last several have.  I am finally spinning up my Solar System batt sampler from H.A.Y. into mini art yarn skeins.

I'm spinning each planet with a different art yarn technique.  So far I have Mercury, Venus, Pluto and Uranus spun up.  I'll post pics when they're all finished.  I decided to spin these because I needed a little break from all the tedium of fine, even singles I'd been spinning and that last core spun skein didn't quite meet my need for fun.  On to other things...

Last Saturday Krystn and I went to the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival just to have a relaxing day away from our lives.  The festival was much smaller than last year, and the wares were a bit lack luster in my informed opinion.  There was very little spinning fiber available, and the yarn selection leaned heavily towards novelty yarn and pre-packaged kits.  While novelty yarns certainly have their place in the knitting world, I would also like to see some unique vendors with products that aren't necessarily going to be available at an online superstore.  There were a few interesting vendors carrying pretty yarns and notions, but overall I found the experience rather disappointing- especially considering that I drove halfway across the state and paid a rather excessive entry fee to attend!  I did manage to find a beautiful, squishy skein of TARDIS blue worsted weight SW merino at the Shady Side Farm booth and have since knit an adorable TARDIS nook cozy for Brad.

Fear not, dear reader, as the sadness of the festival was quickly replaced with merriment as we met the spectacular Steven Ambrose for lunch at a cute little veg-friendly cafe called Quiet Storm.  The food was great and the company was brilliantly engaging, as always.  We discussed knitting, dinner party preparations, and the pleasantly unexpected success of the recent I <3 Knitting event.  It was a great time all around.

From the cafe we headed to Natural Stitches, Pittsburgh's answer to; Where can you find a great yarn shop in the city?  While this is Steven's place of employment, I swear to FSM that I did not allow that to impact my judgment of the shop in any way.  What follows is a completely honest and impartial review, so read on.
I have seen the inside of many a yarnery in my day, and I really must say this is how a yarn shop should operate.  The entire staff greeted us warmly upon entry, and gave us a quick run down on how the yarns were organized.  Did you hear that local yarn stores?  I said organized!  That's right, those crazies at NS actually have their yarn sorted by weight and displayed in easily accessible cubes that don't make a chore of skein shopping.
There were a number of content looking patrons knitting away on some truly spectacular projects while sitting on comfy looking furniture in a well-lit social area near the front of the store.  The staff were pleasant, helpful and ridiculously funny, not to mention knowledgeable about their products and services.  I felt very welcome and wished I had saved my entry fee from the festival to spend on more malabrigo at NS.  Oh, did I forget to mention the huge selection of mmmmmaaalabrigo?  You had me at Twist, but the Rios and Silky Merino were a lovely bonus;)

They also have, I shit you not, a whole wall of Cascade 220 in spectral order!  It was truly a wonder to behold!  I may have drooled just a little, but I slyly dabbed it away on my collar.
All in all, I'd say Natural Stitches is definitively the best overall yarn store I've ever visited, and I'm looking forward to another trip soon!
In other, completely unrelated news, I am now the proud but befuddled owner of a Schacht 20" table loom.  As soon as I figure out how to warp this bitch I'll post a pic of my new (free!) loom.

In closing I have a quick question for all ten of my regular readers; how do you feel about seeing pics of my knitting projects?  Yes, bring it on, all fiber is good fiber or no I'm not really all that interested in what you do with yarn after you spin it.  Your honest feedback matters my lovelies.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Star struck coincidence

So in my last post I mentioned going to the Knitting Guilds "I <3 Knitting" event on Thursday night.  Who knew I would end up with such a crazy tale of weird coincidence.
Allow me to set the scene for you, Sophia style.  Picture it.  Maryland Sheep & Wool 2010, Laura and I are getting in (a rather long) line at The Fold, and just ahead of us there is a curious guy wearing neon orange knitted hot pants.  I could not help myself.  I reached forward, tapped him on the shoulder, and when he turned around I told him he had the best pants at MDS&W.  He humbly thanked me, and offered me his card whilst saying, "Friend me on Ravelry."  That curious guy was the notorious Steven Ambrose of "Bitches Get Stitches" fame.  It is now important to note that I was at The Fold booth expressly to meet Kimber Baldwin of Fiber Optic Yarns, and tell her just how much I love her fabulous sense of color.  While there I found two braids of BFL fiber; one dyed in a vibrant purple and one in a really intense blue.  If you scroll back a few posts you can see the awesome finished skein I spun out of those two braids (#4). 
Fast forward to Thursday evening, where Steven was hired on to emcee the event.  He was just as charming and mirthful as he is on his blog, and a great time was had by all.  I had a rather large display of handspun yarns set up for people to ogle and pet, and towards the end of the evening Steven wandered over and began fondling skein #4 in a very appreciative way!  I struck up a conversation with him, and insisted he take the skein home with him.  That's right bitches, Steven Fuckin' Ambrose now has a skein of my handspun at home in his stash- the very skein that I spun from the fiber I was buying when I first met him nine months ago!  How's that for a freaky weird coincidence?
Incidentally, I spun skein #7 while at the event:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

All apologies...

...are basically worthless, so I won't bother with one.  My life has sucked for the last week and a half and I've not been interested in posting.  Now that the keel has evened out a bit I feel ready to present you with skeins #5 and #6. 
Skein #5 was an 8 ounce braid of 50% tencel/50% wool that I bought from Diane of Creatively Dyed at MDS&W last year.  I spun and chain plied it into 270 yards of smooth, shiny sport weight yarn.
Skein #6 was originally a 4 ounce braid of 80% merino/20% silk gradient dyed by the lovely Kimber at Fiber Optic Yarns.  I spun it into a very fine single and chain plied it to get 228 yards of really soft worsted weight yarn.  I spun the single really tight, then plied a bit looser than I usually do to promote loft and softness in the finished yarn.  It worked beautifully.
I will be spinning at the Centre County Knitters Guild "I Heart Knitting" event at the Boalsburg firehall this Thursday evening, and hope to see many of you there!  I'm really looking forward to another visit with the truly fabu StevenA of Natural Stitches in Pittsburgh, PA!