July 02, 2015

The Market Street Shawl

It's really about time that I got around to publishing the Market Street Shawl pattern, don't you think?  This is the same shawl that I was sure that I would have finished last December in time for New Year's Day. Seriously. No kidding.  It's certainly not that it was a difficult knit, but that I've had so many other projects in the works that I kept putting it down.  I finally wrapped it up in May, and then it took me until yesterday to get around to getting the pictures taken.  It's been very busy on the farm this year.

But here's the absolute bright side:  I'm releasing this pattern just in time for you to be able to start it, finish it, block it, and wear it by Labor Day.  When those cool evenings return, sister you'll be ready! I have already begun wearing mine to restaurants, movie theaters, and the grocery store where the air conditioning is just a bit over the top.

So, let's talk about this pattern then. Knit flat but using a US #8 (5 mm) circular needle--32 inches is ideal--this crescent shawl works up to be 72 inches (183 cm) wide and 23 inches (58 cm) deep.  Yes, that's correct. 72 inches wide. I used Madeline Tosh Merino Light (2 skeins) for the shawl in the photos because I love everything made by Madeline Tosh. However, you could also use Cedar Hill Farm Company's Velvet, Journey, Rocket Sock Medium, or any fingering weight yarn that is a close approximation to the characteristics of the original.  Please, however, avoid emailing me to ask me if the yarn you like better will work--if the yardage per 100g is pretty darned close, you have a winner!

The body of the shawl is a super-speedy stocking stitch that you can whip through while reading, watching TV, commuting on the train or bus, in a movie theater, or riding in the car, or even while at your local knitting group where, you know, you can't knit on anything that requires you to think while talking.  The pattern requires about 800 yards, but it wouldn't be wrong to go with 840, just in case you are a bit of a loose knitter.  This really isn't a pattern that requires you to worry about gauge since it's all about stitch count, not stitches per inch, and that's always a bonus!

The knit-on edging of the shawl is a vintage pattern that I found in my Weldon's Practical Needlework collection. Why do a knit-on edging you may ask? Well, you know, the thing about knit-on edging is that A) there's no grafting like you have with, say, Estonian lace; B) there's no seaming like you have with, say, an edging that you knit separately for a blanket; and C) knit-on edging tends to give you a bit of a ruffle, whereas an edging that is really just the last section of a pattern and then you bind off tends to exactly follow the dimensions of the whole piece, like with a semi-circular or triangular lace shawl. Every now and then a girl needs a little ruffle.

And I suppose I should throw in a blurb about the name.  It's the simple result of my thinking that I wanted a shawl that I could wear to the farmer's market or the Asian market (both of which are probably kept at the same temperature as a meat locker), to run errands or take my daughter to violin lessons (where they have 6 air conditioning vents in a 10 x 12 waiting room!!), or out to dinner with my man on those rare occasions when we go somewhere that requires ironing and there isn't a backlit fast food menu on the wall.  I wanted a versatile piece.  So, since the original idea was to wear it to the farmer's market, I thought it should have "market" in the title.  There you go.  Not as intriguing of an explanation as I bet you were expecting, huh?

So, with many thanks to my awesome husband/photographer (who tries very hard to read my mind when I say "just take some pictures") and despite the third week in a row of rain on the scheduled day for the "shoot", here it is, the much anticipated Market Street Shawl.

You can find this pattern at the Cedar Hill Farm Company websiteCraftsy, and Ravelry, or you can click on the picture or the button on the right sidebar.  All links lead to the Market Street Shawl.

June 24, 2015

A Little Drama and Queen

Let me begin this post with a disclaimer:  What you are about to witness may be more than you, as a knitter, can handle.  It's ugly. It's really ugly. So, discretion is advised.

I made a mistake.  I have my suspicions that this mistake is the result of a child picking up my knitting from my desk, saying "This is so pretty! Can I have it?" and then promptly dropping 10 stitches and unraveling them for about 6 rows OF LACE. However, it's either a mistake I made in the first place, or a mistake that I made in the second, but it's mine and there it is. Two stitches worked wrongly, five inches down. It hardly looks like any distance at all in the photo.

I posted a pic on Instagram. There was commiseration. On Facebook, my friends agreed that it was "hardly noticeable". Knowing that we were going to be talking MAJOR knitting surgery, I was willing to go with that--for a while--and make the resolution to just leave it alone.

Have I ever told you about how I am a type A personality on speed? For 24 hours, that part of my overachiever, uncompromising brain has been needling me.  Pecking at me. Taunting me.  Reminding me every time I pass this project that I would never wear it without feeling subconscious about that barely noticeable mistake.  All that work would just collect dust on a shelf in the closet. The voice was, actually, right. I wouldn't wear it. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and I caved.  I caved BIG TIME! Heck, I only have to tink back a few stitches for five inches. Cake, right?

I got out the surgical tools.  I hunted down the locking stitch markers and, when I didn't have enough of those, I substituted safety pins. (Not having enough locking stitch markers for this should have been a flashing neon sign that this was going to be a bad idea.)  And then I tinked one section down, a stitch at a time, carefully capturing the innocent stitches with markers, until I got to the offending row.  And it looked like this.

Not so bad, right?  But, allow me to interrupt this tale of woe to say that, at this point in the narrative, once again my life is like the lyrics of the Queen song Rain Must Fall:

You lead a fairy tale existence
But into every life a little rain must fall

Others seem to think
You are over dramatising
Problems at work
So it's hardly surprising
There's little you can do
To alter their opinions
You want a clean reputation
But now you're facing complications
'Cos into every life a little rain must fall

And because my life is like a Queen song, in order to fix this tiny mistake that involved a misplaced yarn over and a misplaced K2tog, I realized that I had to go bigger and just let the complications begin, and suddenly we aren't talking about "a little rain"; we are talking about a typhoon.  

I took out 2 more sections. Because why? Because. It's lace. That's why. There is really no way to just tink down a few stitches, as if you have been doing a S2KP2SO. It's intertwined. It's all friggin' connected. So, if you are faint of heart, you may want to close your eyes and scroll past these next pictures.

And then it was fixed.  My mistake was fixed! The type A side of my brain did a little happy dance and the entire rest of my brain looked at the remaining disaster before me that had to be rebuilt, one stitch at a time, and fainted. Dead away. Fainted. 

Although those two little mistakes were fixed, the amount of re-working to get back five inches of interconnected strands of yarn that make a pattern with carefully aligned holes that it was going to take was quickly becoming exponentially complicated.

Now I'll bet that, like me, you are thinking "Holy crap! This is not going to end well!"  The logical part of my brain was chanting "Frog it! Frog it!" The type A--obviously NOT the logical side--was countering with "There's no going back now. Just focus and fix it." (Leave it to the type A to get level headed now, right?) I am at this point feeling just a bit schizophrenic with all of this back and forth in my brain and the words "I think you broke it"  just sort of slipped out in a whisper.

But then, a miracle happened!  I had re-worked an entire repeat.  And then another. (I know you can't tell so you'll just have to trust me one this one.) Two repeats!

And then I became the Little Engine That Could ("I think I can. I think I can.)  And 1.5 hours later before I knew it, I was one (count it, ONE!) more repeat up.  However, I was still about 3 inches shy of my goal and, with an extremely audible sigh, I resigned myself to just calling it a day and ripping back.  After all, I had CLEARLY forgotten one of the basic tenets of knitting: Pride goeth before the frogging.  So while you are relaxing with your own project, I'll be here, humbly re-working 3 inches of lace, kicking myself for having made such a rookie mistake.

June 22, 2015

Fiber Heaven on the Horizon

Y'all know that I travel around the Southeast and vend at a few select fiber festivals every year.  A very few festivals.  I am SUPER picky about where I go and how my brand is promoted.  You've also seen my yarn, and probably drooled over it, dreamt about making things with it, squeezing it, cuddling up with it at night in place of a pillow ... And you know that I teach knitting classes here and there (most recently at Revival Yarns in Athens, GA).  So you know you can take my professional word for it when I say that if you don't round up that crafting group and hustle your cookies to the Georgia Fiber Fest in Columbus, GA in September, you will be missing out on THE fiber festival of the year in the Southeastern U.S.  I mean it.  I'm saying that because I wouldn't sponsor a show that I didn't think was a primo experience for yarnies and fiber fanatics. (I'm pretty tight fisted cautious with my moolah.) I am so excited about this show that I have already started stocking up bases, sewing project bags, and ordering knitting needles! There will definitely be some festival-exclusive colorways in my booth, and a little birdie would like to suggest that I will be debuting my first-ever line of grown-on-my-farm fingering weight yarn!

Friends, let me tell you a little bit about the Georgia Fiber Fest. It will be held in the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.  If you have never been to the Columbus Convention & Trade Center, you are missing an experience of a lifetime.

Not only is it surrounded by picturesque riverside walking/biking trails, but the place is a revamped Civil War ironworks.  Right down to the iron-tainted bricks, the original smelting vats of monstrous size in the main hall, the immense skylight windows, and the train tracks, this place is Southern American history meets fiber fantasy land. And the BEST part, if you are a frequenter of fiber festivals, is that there are no outside tents, you are not shopping in an agricultural barn with a dirt floor and 80% humidity, and there is AIR CONDITIONING.

Not only is it surrounded by picturesque riverside walking/biking trails, but the place is a revamped Civil War ironworks.  Right down to the iron-tainted bricks, the original smelting vats of monstrous size in the main hall, the immense skylight windows, and the train tracks, this place is Southern American history meets fiber fantasy land. And the BEST part, if you are a frequenter of fiber festivals, is that there are no outside tents, you are not shopping in an agricultural barn with a dirt floor and 80% humidity, and there is AIR CONDITIONING.

Oh, wait, and did I mention that the gazillion classes taught by well-know artists (myself included) are in classrooms with real walls--not bed sheets or cubicle walls or barn stall walls, but REAL walls in rooms with doors so that you don't have to listen to what's going on in the class next door while your try to concentrate. This year, we also have a first: Saturday morning classes for kids! Teenager Kirsten Flannery is teaching "Just for Kids: Beginning Drop Spindle" and "Just for Kids: Woven Bookmark Bracelets"

Our guest speaker, Pam Powers, is also doing a workshop or two.

You might know her (PSQUARED on RAVELRY) from her fabulous designs on Ravelry.  She's also the designer of Nora's Sweater, which was the cover for Interweave Knits (2009), as well as having designed for Twist Collective, Belle Armoire, and Apronology. She also has a new book out, and I am sure that she will be happy to autograph your copy:

About those vendors ... Last year there were 40+ booth spaces filled with fibery goodness; this year's vendors are just beginning to get posted on the website, and we expect to have a very full marketplace, especially since we've moved classes upstairs and added about 25 more booth spaces. You will want to HURRY and sign up if you want to be a vendor because we are nearly out of booth spaces.  Last year there was even a yarn truck, and I do believe it will be back again.

There's a fiber arts contest. There's a fashion show--they make the vendors and the teachers model for you, so it's a hoot!

Oh, and a fabulous catered dinner with a speaker (Pam Powers) that anyone is welcome to attend and a fashion show--bring your knitting or crochet because it's totally social acceptable to knit/crochet at the dinner table. I know I will be. You can dine with teachers, vendors, and designers (like me) and it's not like one of those chintzy dinners, either--the courses just keep coming and the wait staff is amazing!

If your Honey is a history buff and he feels like he needs you to drag him along, there's also a museum on property so he can leave you with the credit card to shop in peace, and there's a quaintly restored historic downtown area to explore because you might need a little extra time to stuff all those bags of fiber heaven in the trunk. Did I mention that the convention center used to be an iron factory and there's an operational train attached to it?

There is also more parking than you can shake a stick at--covered parking by the way, plus on-the-street parking--and restaurants and hotels (you will want to make those reservations early because the hotels also fill up fast!), and a park that's part of the venue ...

I am going to go right out on that limb and say that this festival, though only 3 years old, is right up there with SAFF and Stitches South.  Heck, you might as well just think of the Georgia Fiber Fest as your up close and personal Etsy (as in handcraft artisans galore), only WAAAAAAY better!

I think it is also pertinent to mention that this is the ONLY fiber fest in Georgia of its kind--I'm talking to you Florida, South & North Carolina, and Alabama.  Now that Stitches has moved to Nashville, that festival is more than just a hike for most of us, and it would be just plain crazy not to  shop locally.

So, check out the website:  http://www.gafiberfest.com and start making plans to visit, take classes, and fill that stash cabinet to overflowing because you know how you can't pass up a good fiber festival! There's a mile-long list of classes available, so check those out as well when you get to the main page.

It's time that this well-kept Southern secret got out, so share with your crafty friends and make your plans.  You can find this event on FB, Instagram, and Twitter.

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