Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Love Finishing Things!

I love finishing things! I don't mean that the way some of you might-- those of you with a keen sense of detail and an ability to, pardon the pun, seamlessly do seams and zippers on more complicated garments. I just mean, I like getting stuff done and crossed off the project list. There's the sense of accomplishment and also the promise of getting to start a new project.

This past week, I spent several days on Galveston Island. There, I finished a simple but lovely K2P2 black scarf in Manos. Above, Melvin the Cat models it and below, my friend Jay models it. I made the scarf for my son, Henry, for his upcoming 22nd birthday. It's his first birthday that we'll not be spending together-- he moved to NYC. I hope the scarf is a reasonable substitute for my warm, wooly love for him.

While I was in Galveston, I also finished a book I've been working on which is, in large part, about a trip I took to Monhegan Island in 2011. It felt good and poetic to finish the book on an island since so much of the story takes place on an island. Down below you'll see an image of the front cover. The book will be out next week-- I'm publishing it myself after having my six previous books published more traditionally. I have to say that any trepidation I had about self-publishing has disappeared. I'm getting as much satisfaction with this hands-on approach as I get from knitting my own garments.

I also finished up the very silly hat you see below. That's supposed to be the Reddit Robot. My friend and webmaster is really into Reddit and he asked if I might make him a hat reflecting this love. I actually wound up making two-- the first was too short. This hat was a pretty big challenge for me. I sort of made it up as I went along. I did chart it out a bit on graph paper, but I had to play around with the math and ultimately some winging it occurred. I used a mashup combo of intarsia and Fair Isle and, as you can probably see, my tension wasn't spectacular. But hey, I learned a lot along the way and my friend loves his hat.

And just down below, pictured before I blocked it, is my Pi Shawl, which just thrilled me to finish. You know, I don't even wear shawls-- ha! But the process was amazing for me. I'm going to go ahead and say that 2012 was a super learning year for me as I tackled lace and the aforementioned intarsia and Fair Isle. (Actually, I picked up intarsia from Lisa on my first Monhegan retreat.)

And finally... The latest Interweave  KNITS came out recently and I'm happy to say that I've got a story in there. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristen TenDyke, whose got a great new book out. So please, check out the interview. That was fun to finish, too, like knocking out a last-minute gift-- I had about four days to do the entire article, from phone interview to final copy. I'm better with writing deadlines than knitting deadlines, so it worked out okay.

Happy December, y'all. Stay Warm!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I How I Love Visiting Knit Shops!

Cape May, NJ
Prior to my annual trip to Monhegan Island this year, I had the great fortune of taking a road trip that took me from Austin, TX -- where I live, and where you can find Hill Country Weavers, one of the best knit shops in the country-- all the way to New Brunswick, Canada. All told, I drove around 5,000 miles in three weeks. Yes, it was exhausting, but I am all about rewards along the way. And for me, nothing makes a better reward than more yarn for my stash and making friends with other knitters. And so, herewith, some shops I visited along the way. I get to add these to a growing list that includes shops visited in Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Paris, Israel, and all over the U.S. How about you-- what are some far flung shops you've been to?

Here I am in Montreal-- a really, really great city! 
Inside Espace Tricot in Montreal.
Besides the thrill of talking yarn, another perk visiting yarn shops in other cities is that I can get some good info from the locals. And invariably, I find myself saying, "Come visit Austin! You can stay with me!" I mean that.
Cricket Cove is in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada, where we went to go whale watching, but I also had a good hunch there'd be great yarn in Canada. I was right!
On the bench outside of Cricket Cove, there's a scarf in progress. All comers are invited to knit a few rows. All completed scarves go to those in need. I LOVE this project!
Tired of making socks? Not ready to take on a sweater project? How about knitting a nativity scene?

Another lovely young knitter, and yes, I invited her to visit Austin.
Cottage Craft is also in St. Andrews and really, you have got to visit this place.  
Cottage Craft was started by Grace Helen Mowat in 1915. It was the first Canadian Cottage Industry, allowing women to use their skills to make some income. 
Some vintage wool work at Cottage Craft.
Michelle Ross co-owns Cottage Craft now. Her husband's family bought it from  Grace Helen in 1946. 
Loom at Cottage Craft.
You can buy pre-made stuff at Cottage Craft-- it's still made by locals. I never, ever buy hats EXCEPT the hats here were so amazing I broke my don't-buy-hats rule and bought one. 

I also bought some good, old fashioned scratchy Made-in-Canada yarn.
Back at Cricket Cove I picked up this local yarn. That's something else I love to do-- buy local grown/spun and/or dyed yarn as a souvenir I can actually use.
The Lancaster Yarn shop is actually in Intercourse, PA. We had SUCH a good time here.  
Arghhh! I can't find the name of the wonderful owner of  Lancaster Yarn Shop! Dang it. Well, here's a link to her blog. She is super nice. She gave me a tip-- at a nearby Amish shop, I could find scarves knitted by a 100+ year old blind Amish man. 
Here they are! For some reason, the Amish don't knit much, and when they do they like to use acrylic.  
This is not a yarn shop. It's a shoelace making shop inside of the City Museum in St. Louis, one of the most amazing museums in the world. You should visit it. I was fascinated by this textile process.
Finished shoelaces. 
Knitorious is a GLORIOUS knit shop in St. Louis. Amazing!
This is Sandy, who owns Knitorious. She's holding up a shawl she knitted from a pattern book put out by my personal LYS-- Hill Country Weavers. Sandy is a hoot. We talked for a really long time about all things knitting AND Leonard Cohen. Her store is huge and super well-stocked. 
Cozy Knitting Corner at Knitorious.
Local St. Louis yarn.