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Baa Baa Black Sheep

9 Jul

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It’s called the Black Sheep gathering, but it welcomes sheep, goats, and other wool bearing beasties of all colors.

Although I’ve lived in Oregon for almost 23 years, I’d never heard of this wool festival, that celebrated it’s 45th anniversary on the weekend, before this year.

I started my visit in the barn, walking around the pens and getting to know the different breeds represented that day. When I left the barns, the scent of sheep barn clung to me, even though there was nothing on the soles of my shoes. I went into the marketplace, the scent still present like an ovine perfume, but no one seemed to notice. Perhaps they wore it too.

I had the chance to talk to a dyer I like and to get to know a few others I’d never heard of before. None of them mentioned my sweet aroma. Fortunately, the scent of raw wool permeated the air in the hall.

A trip to the restroom offered up one more beastly delight:

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Furiously knitting

29 Mar

“Do you ever take commissions?” my librarian friend asked.

I cringed inwardly. It can be an awkward question to answer and I gave my standard reply,”Yes, but I have rules.”

Her raised eyebrows were a sort of encouragement to go on, so I explained, “I won’t accept payment and you have to live with my timeline. I could finish it in a week, a year or never. I love to knit but don’t like pressure to perform. I want to knit a project because I love it. What did you have in mind?”

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My friend had been on last year’s Printz committee. What she wanted was a pussy hat with the word “Fury” on it, in celebration of Damsel by Elana K. Arnold.

“Let me think and look around,” I said.

I found a free pattern  –  Hamilton Pussyhat by  on Ravelry. – that captured the beauty of the cover.Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 3.39.27 PM

During the Rose City Yarn Crawl, I made it my mission to find some yarn that would capture the colors of the book and work with the pattern. I did.

 

I took the peace of Spring Break to adapt the pattern, replacing “Rise Up” with “Fury” and began knitting. I learned to knit a Latvian braid and, slowly, but surely, the hat took shape.

It is now finished and blocking. I’ll give it to my friend when I see her at our next book club meeting in two weeks, unless I see her at the library first. I hope it is a good fit.

 

 

The opposite of toe jam

19 Mar

On Saturday, I posted about ripping out my knitting. I likened it to revising writing.

Last night I sat down to finish the second sock. I thought I knew where I’d left off and how much longer I had to knit before getting to the toe. You think I’d have learned, but I didn’t measure. When I got close to where I thought I should make the transition, I finally decided to measure.

The sock was too long.

Sometimes, writers do the same thing. We write too much. We need to revise by removing the excess. My students certainly do it. I have told students that they really have two stories and they should focus on one or the other. Sometimes they see it; sometimes they don’t. It can be hard. It all feels important to them though.

The excess in the foot of my sock did not feel important to me. Once more I ripped out and restarted. I am much happier with the finished product.

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Test prep

18 Mar

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am test knitting a sweater for a designer. Here is a collection of words and images – a sort of visual prose poem – that tells the story of what I need to do before I can actually begin knitting the test knit.

It starts with the pattern

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Next comes the yarn

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Which has to be wound,

 

And weighed

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Then swatched and gauge measured

Before the test knit can begin.

 

A different kind of winner

13 Mar

At the end of the day yesterday, I tried not to get my hopes up as I looked at my phone.

All day long I had tried to NOT think about the fact that the Rose City Yarn Crawl prizes would be announced at some time today.  I tried NOT to check my personal email. ( I might have peeked once or twice) but, locked in my cupboard, my phone was off limits until the end of the day.

After the kids left I undid the lock. A couple of years ago I broke the lock on the door, so now, I secure it with a fancy combination of an old choke collar and my locker padlock from high school. I got it in 1978 and I still know the combo. That’s an accomplishment of sorts, I thought as I slid the chain from the handles. It always makes such a nice satisfactory sound.  I bet most people don’t have the padlock, let alone remember the combo.

I pulled the phone from my bag. No messages announcing I was a winner. And none came as I drove home or after I walked through the front door. I tried not to feel disappointed. I fed Lucy and myself. I checked my email and before too long, I was fine.

I have the yarn I bought on the yarn crawl ( plus a whole lot more in my stash).

I have a super cute basset hound.

I have my high school padlock and still remember the combination – and that is a whole different kind of winning.

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Rose City Yarn Crawl 2019

10 Mar

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The first shop, The Knotty Lamb, opened at nine. It was the furthest away, so I decided that I would start the 2019 Rose City Yarn Crawl (RCYC) in Forest Grove.  I was excited as I got into the car because, I was determined to finish the Yarn Crawl (something I have only done twice) and because this ear, I had a navigation system in the car to help me out.

Snow was falling as I drove the country roads to Forest Grove. Miraculously, it stopped once I arrived at the Knotty Lamb. A sign? Who knew but I was ready for a day of yarnamania.

Although it was early, the shop was packed. I thought I’d been so crafty, starting out early. I browsed and touched and squeezed skeins of all sorts before deciding on my purchases. A yarn crawl can be a dangerous thing, so I always set out with a finite amount of cash to help with my self-control. It means I have to make judicious choices because, at each shop where you make a purchase, you get a coupon code for a free pattern from the 2019 RCYC collection. Of course I wanted all the patterns as well as the pin each shop handed out.

From Forest Grove, I drove to Beaverton, into Portland, then to Vancouver, and back to Portland where I finished the Yarn Crawl at Twisted, my LYS (that’s Local Yarn Shop for the uninitiated) where I turned in my passport for the grand prize drawing.

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Entering each shop, the routine was the same. I got my passport stamped, signed in for their shop prize drawings, got my pin, then looked around before deciding what to buy. In addition to getting the free pattern, buying something at each shop is a way to support local small businesses and makers. Each shop had trunk shows of various dyers and yarn related crafts people – bag and button makers, soap and lotion makers. Some were at one shop one day and another the next. The yarn crawl is a four day event, after all. Crazy me, I did it on one.

I was exhausted when I got home, but I took the time to sort through my purchases and add them to my yarn stash. Now, I have to finish the projects I have before I can dip in to the new yarn.

 

 

Testing

6 Mar

The subject line of the email caught my eye.

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Last week I’d filled out  a form to test knit a pattern for a designer. A test knitter’s job is to follow a draft of a pattern and let the designer know if there are glitches, or if things are going really well. It gives the designer a way to get samples knit up that other people can see in all possible sizes – a job that can take some time if you had to do it all on your own.

I have long wanted to do test knits for people and had filled out forms a couple of times, but, as teens with no previous experience will tell you, you need experience at the job to get the job. So far, my replies had all been of the  “Thanks, but…” variety. Until this email message.

I get to be a test knitter for Mina Philipp (The Knitting Expat)!!!!

The sweater is an adult version of her Little Nugget sweater, the Not So Little Nugget sweater

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It is a straightforward sweater pattern, which means an easy enough knit. The real learning curve is on the expectations for test-knitters. I need to keep track of some data I don’t usually track:

  • how much yarn was used, in grams and meters/yards (for each color),
  • needle size
  • gauge achieved
  • finished measurements of the item
  • any comments I have

I also have to set up a project page on Ravelry (that’s like Facebook for knitters, in case you don’t know) and link my page to the finished pattern, once it has been published.

The final sweater isn’t due until May 4th and I am already thinking about what yarn in which colors I might choose.

 

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