A Year of Festivals

The alternate title to this post is “What I Would Do if I Won the Lottery”.  Recently I started listening to the New Hampshire Knits podcast (which is really charming so check it out) and it is hosted by Claire who is from Scotland but now lives in New Hampshire.  In the first episode I listened to she was interviewing the organizers of a new knitting festival which is taking place in Iverness, Scotland (you know, home of the Loch Ness monster:) ) and I was totally sold by the end of the episode.  Only a lack of Internet access stopped me from buying a ticket to Scotland!  This may be due in part to my lack of travel in the past year and also, in part, to the genuine excitement the nice Scottish people had about their country.

This got me to thinking about all the knitting related festivals that are taking place all over the world. My plan is to make it back over to Europe sometime next year.  I would like to schedule my trip around a knitting festival but there are so many to chose from and I thought listing them all out, including location and time of year might help me when I’m ready to make a choice.  As I wrote up this list, I realized it would be my answer to “what would you do if you won the lottery?”  If I won the big prize I would take along all my best knitting buddies with me on my knitting trip around the world!

So, here’s my dream year of traveling (note, lottery must be won first!)

February

Unravel – takes place in Surrey, England.  Many of the British podcasters I listen to talk about Unravel and it sounds like a great festival.

March

Edinburgh Yarn Festival – in Edinburgh, Scotland of course!  It seemed liked everyone was there this year and Edinburgh looks like a great little town.

April

Wonderwool – held in Wales.  I went to Wales many years ago and would love to revisit it.  This is another one I hear about on the the British podcasts I listen to.

Knitter’s Frolic – just a few short hours from me in Toronto!  I almost took a last minute trip up there this year but found out just a little too late to make it happen.  This one is definitely doable for me because it is a car ride away so maybe next year (we say this a lot here in Cleveland😦 )

May

Woolfest Auckland – Of course, every great list must include New Zealand – all those sheep and I love Zealana yarns!

July

Australian Sheep & Wool – It would be nice if this was closer in time to Woolfest Auckland but if I’m off traveling for the year it will be fine!  The show takes place in Victoria which is one of the places I did not get to on my first trip Down Under so I’m ready to go back!

Le Lot et Le Laine – takes place in Lot, France and is held every other year so 2017 will be the next festival.  I first heard about this one on the Fluffy Fibers podcast and she does a great recap in Episodes 31 and 32.  In the real world, I think this might be my next destination because France is my favorite place and I would love to experience a French festival!!!

Jyvaskyla Summer Knit Fest – held in Jyvaskyla, Finland.  My apologies as I have no idea how to add the proper “a’s” in the name of this city.  This is another new festival that somehow popped up on my Instagram feed.  I would love to hit up Finland, Norway, Denmark so this could be a starting point.  But, July is looking to be a pretty full month!

August

Wollfestival – held in Cologne, Germany and it looks like this one is held every other year as the next festival is set for August, 2017.  I’ve been to Cologne but did not get to see much of the city so it would be great to go back, check out the sites and check out some yarn!

Drakensberg Mountain Knitter’s Retreat – I’m not sure if this will be an annual event but I had to throw it in because – South Africa!!!  I can check off another continent, take a safari and play with yarn.  I saw this on Instagram as well and it was being promoted by Wool Diaries who has a video podcast and hosts #blanketmadness.

September

Great London Yarn Crawl – this is hosted by Yarn in the City (they also have a great podcast!) and will be taking place in September this year.  I believe Loop in London is on every knitter’s must see list!

September/October (these festivals span the last/first weekends)

Shetland Wool Week – this might be the Holy Grail, because, Shetland!  It’s the home of sheep and lace and all things knitting.

Iverness Loch Ness Knitting Festival – It will be the first year this year, it would be ideal if I could hit up this festival and then continue on to Shetland Wool Week – what a great trip that would be!  My favorite thing about this festival is that you can knit your own Nessie – that would be ideal for photo ops at the festival!

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photo from the Inverness Loch Ness Knitting Festival page

 

October

Swiss Wulle Festival – Fall in Switzerland, yes please!!!  This is held in Zug, Switzerland but who cares exactly where it’s held I just want to go to Switzerland!

Given this calendar it looks like I might have a few months that need some filling in –  January, June, November and December.  I did see a knit under the midnight sun tour in Iceland in June so I think I could pencil that in.  Iceland is quite the knitting destination and experiencing the midnight sun would be pretty cool.  In December, I would love to check out the European Christmas markets.  And, I don’t want to forget South America and the fiber tours of Peru and Uruguay which could fill in January or November.  I believe the seasons down there are opposite of ours so summer in South America works for me!

I did a Google map to see what this might look like!

I did not even include all the US events, highlights of which would be Vogue Knitting Live, Stitches, Rhinebeck, Maryland Sheep & Wool and Knitting Camp.  But really, so many events, so little time here in the US.  I could do a whole other blog post on US events (and maybe I will)

Now, if I just played the lottery it might help!!

Knitter with a capital K

Have you ever had that moment where you realize you are a Knitter (with a capital K)? I’ve had a few experiences recently that have led me to realize I’ve crossed the line from a recreational knitter to a Knitter.

I’m not exactly sure where the line is but I knew I crossed it a few weekends ago when I had a list of knitting chores to complete.  Knitting chores??  Yeah, this was serious now. Those chores included putting some socks through a citric acid soak and blocking a cowl I had just finished knitting.

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Another sign that I had crossed an invisible line happened at a party that was a mix of my knitting friends and some non-knitters.  One of our knitting friends moved away last year and was due back for a visit which prompted the get together.  Unfortunately, she had to cancel her trip at the last minute but the party must go on.  One of the non-knitters was taking pictures to send to our friend and she was utterly amazed that while I was looking up and smiling for said pictures my hands never stopped knitting.  Hey – this girl needed to get that cowl off the needles!!

And, while this last little story may not indicate a line that has been crossed, it’s pretty darn cute so I’m throwing it in!  I knit the bunnies and monsters for my best friend’s kids for Easter (see FO’s for March).  The youngest is 9 and he really loved his monster, which I thought was adorable, because he’s a boy and he’s 9.  And, of all the kids, he’s the only one that’s expressed an interest in seeing how I actually knit.  I always have knitting when I go to visit and neither of the girls has ever shown any interest in learning.  This last trip the little one came over and asked how I did it.  So, I showed him a few stitches slowly so he could see how it worked.  After he watched for a few minutes he turned to his mom and said “Mommy, Jenny is amazing!”  Yep, that’s right kid, I’m amazing!!  He was my favorite that day, but don’t tell the others:)

There are other smaller things that tell me I’m no longer a recreational knitter.  I spent quite awhile with my mom in the big box store yarn aisle discussing yarn weights.  I find myself thinking a huge fair isle project seems like a good idea.  I’ve had passing thoughts that maybe I do need to knit a Rhinebeck sweater (who am I???)  Oh yeah, and I’m really going to Rhinebeck this year:)  I may also tell people I’m a knitter before I tell them anything else about me which must be a sure sign!

What’s on my Needles This Weekend (and a little bit of science)

May 1st marked the start of Kino Knits Graduate Your Stash KAL.  What is that you may ask? Well, Mary came up with a great idea – use the oldest thing in your stash whether it be yarn, fiber or a wip and finish it up during graduation season.  You can read about all the rules and prizes in her Ravely group.  I loved this from the minute she talked about it on her podcast.  I set of in search of my oldest yarn.  Two things to remember – 1. I’ve only been knitting for just about 13 years and 2. I didn’t really start accumulating yarn for the first few yearn.  I was more of a recreational knitter.  I didn’t realize that at some point you stop being able to knit all the new yarn you buy as fast as you buy it.

With those disclaimers – my oldest skein of yarn was from 2006.  It took awhile to confirm the date because the trip was pre-Facebook for me and I quickly learned that anything I can’t date on Facebook, I can’t date at all!  I also learned that my digital picture storage is a disaster that needs to be addressed soon, but I digress.  I went to Oregon with a knitting friend and we visited a yarn store in Eugene.  It might have been Soft Horizons Fibre but I’m not completely sure.  (note, this is where the second disclaimer comes in – I just figured I would knit it right away…)  Also, this was pre-Ravelry for me so I wasn’t really tracking any of my knitting or yarn store visiting.  Anyway, I bought this awesome skein of yarn and all the hand-written tag said was “Labrador”, 200 yards, $28.  Nothing about fiber content. I feel like I bought it because it was unique and made there at the store but who knows??  I wound it into a ball and what a ball it is!

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It looks kind of woolly – it’s got fibers at least.  I searched Ravelry for a pattern and found a free pattern called Stash Busting Project Bags and Bowls which just happens to be written by my friend Molly in California so that was fun!  It’s a great free pattern for felted bags and bowls – there are five total options and she does the yarn requirements by weight so you can use up that stash!

Right after I wound the ball I took the yarn ties from the skein, put them under hot water and used my scrubbie sponge to agitate them.  It looked like they were thinking of felting and they definitely smelled like wet wool so I forged ahead.  But, I need to know if this yarn will felt.  So, I posted a picture of the bowl I started on Instagram and got some interesting suggestions.

My blogging and Instagram friend Missy, from Missy’s Crafty Mess mentioned both the burn and bleach tests to determine fiber content.  I did a little research and set off to experiment.  I started with the bleach last night.  Basically, you snip off a couple inch piece of yarn, place it in a glass jar, put a tablespoon of bleach over it, put the lid on and wait and see what happens.  From what I read, if it was fizzing that was a good sign.  Leave it overnight and if in the morning there is no more yarn then it should be wool.  I definitely had fizzing going on not long after capping the “jar” (the only glass container with a lid that I had was a salad dressing bottle…).  This morning there was still yarn left in the jar but it was very broken down and there was not much left to it which leads me to think there may be some other fiber mixed in with the wool.

This morning my Dad was coming over and I asked him to come a few minutes early because I needed to burn some yarn and take pictures so was in desperate need of a third hand.  I set it up with a big glass bowl and a large cup of water (for safety) and I cut a piece of yarn about six inches long and then took my candle lighter to it.    While it’s burning you note whether is self-extinguishes,  the smell, the flame and what remains to try and determine fiber content.  I found a great fiber burn chart on ditzyprints.com.  The yarn did extinguish when the flame was removed and it did smell really awful.  What remained was the yarn – I felt like I was charring a pepper because every time it burned I could scrape off the char and find more yarn underneath so it did not fall neatly in any of the burn chart boxes.

You can see how small of a flame there was – it never really “caught fire” and these embers were what remained and the fibers are still very intact under the char.  I’m pretty convinced at this point that it is mostly wool but there is either some other fiber spun in or there is some sort of coating on the yarn.

I finished a bowl with the yarn and may attempt to felt it tomorrow while I’m home doing a ton of other things.  Fingers crossed it will felt!  If it does I will use up the rest of the yarn making additional bowls.  I’ve decided to start a gift/donation box of knit items so when I need a gift or someone asks for a donation I can go to my box and pull something out. These will make great gifts, if they actually felt!  If not, back to the drawing board for a new pattern for what’s left of this mystery yarn.

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April FO’s

I started off the month is a crazy, finishing frenzy and it was all downhill after that. So, first off the needles this month were my Arne & Carlos socks, which I love!!  I did plain vanilla socks with a fish lips kiss heel and a round toe.  Of course, the fish lips kiss heel is a pattern by the Sox Therapist.  I used the round toe which is included in Sock Architecture by Lara Neel.  It was my first time for both of these heels and toes.  I loved the heel but I did have a little issue with a weird bulge at the end of the heel so I’m guessing it’s something to do with my gauge but I’m just not sure.  I’m going to t keep experimenting. I loved the round toe as I despise the kitchner stitch.

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Next I finished the Girlfriend Cowls by Churchmouse Yarns.  I cast this on right after the US Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage was announced.  Someone on Instagram had started a rainbow-along.  I had this yarn in my stash – it’s America the Beautiful by Destination Yarns so on the needles it went!  The patterns is pretty simple and really did some fun things with this yarn.  I loved how, once I started knitting, it became apparent that as the skein went from primarily reds/yellows to blues/greens.  Sadly, even though it’s April, I’ve worn it quite a bit😦

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The last FO of the month was a quick little test knit I did for Kino Knits.  She happened to e-mail on a snowy Saturday so I cast it right on.  It’s a free pattern on Ravelry which is so awesome.  I had some troubles with Judy’s Magic cast on as I had never done that one before but otherwise it was a super quick knit.  Mary has written it so you can use any yarn you have.  She did hers in sock yarn and I used a worsted weight.  It’s called Rybka (Wee Fishie) and if you are looking for a quick gift knit definitely check it out!

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Confession – I knit the fish on April 9th and have finished nothing since😦  Lots of fun stuff on the needles so here’s hoping I have something to talk about at the end of May!

The Ugly Side of Knitting

Well, I really did it this week – I had a terrible flare up of my wrist tendinitis (self diagnosed, thanks WebMD)  This has caused me to think about knitting injuries, which are real things, although only your knitting friends will believe and support you through one. So, here are some thoughts I’ve had as I take some time to recover.

Knitting Injuries are Self-Induced

At least all of mine have been.  I’ve had three more serious knitting injuries.  This time with my left wrist and it was totally caused by my trying to turn a heel on a sock with tiny circulars and 6-ply sock yarn.  Let’s just say that even as I was plowing through I knew I would end up regretting it.  In this case, I kept going so I would be motivated to pick up the sock again in this lifetime because I’m loving the sock so much.  I’ve had bad wrists all my life so it doesn’t take much to push them over the edge.

In December I sat for 2 straight hours hunched up trying to finish my Ice River Snood because I was so in love with it that I just wanted it off the needles. I ended up with a very sore neck for a few days after that bad decision (but my cowl was fabulous!)  My other injury was a bit of thumb tendinitis that was caused by too much knitting on too big needles with bulky yarn.  Anyone else see a theme here – we knitters really want to get our projects off the needles and into the world but in the process we may sacrifice our ability to knit.

Ways to Prevent

Let’s start with the obvious – when it starts to hurt put it down!!  But, I will also contend that this is a good argument for polygamous knitting.  In my case some of the strain was caused by the particular needle and yarn size so having multiple projects utilizing different yarns and needles can help you strain less with that one particular project.  The next time someone gives you grief about all those UFO’s – tell them you are working on preventing knitting injuries!  And, the other obvious thing is to get up.  I try to remind myself to get up either between tv shows or during hockey intermissions which are good set times to get up and just walk around the house or get a drink.

I also did a little research and found this article by Pam Allen and my friend, Shannon Okey, Ten Hand and Shoulder Exercises for Knitters and they know their stuff so I might give these a try soon!

What to Do

If you are a self diagnoser like myself you will read that the number one thing to do with these repetitive strain injuries is to rest.  But, for real???  I’ve got knitting that needs to be done.  As I was bemoaning my fate on Instagram Missy from Missy’s Crafty Mess recommended IcyHot so I figured why not?  Usually, I will apply a regular ice pack so I would be more mobile using the IcyHot.  I stopped and picked some up on my way home from work.  I was a bit terrified of accidentally getting some near my eye but all went well and I believe it is some sort of miracle cure.  It’s kind of a weird feeling but it took away the pain.  Now, the bad thing about this is that I kind of thought I could then pick up my knitting but my mother kindly reminded me that the IcyHot was just covering up the pain and everything was still flared up under the surface.  Besides, rest and IcyHot, I’m also a big fan of braces.  I have one for the thumb when it acts up and one for my wrist so I don’t twist and turn it weird ways during the day.

While that’s all well and good for treatment, what exactly is one to do while waiting for all these things to work?  Here’s a list I put together:

  1. Plan more knitting: This seems like a logical choice.  Work on your Ravely lists and check out all the new things you want to knit.  I took some time to plan to join in on Wool Diaries #BlanketMadness which is happening April 24 – April 30.  I have a long lingering Barn Raising Quilt so I thought this would be a fun way to add some squares to it.  I dragged out the bag and counted and photographed what I have some I’m ready to go on the 24th!  Check her out on IG for more info!20160413_203741
  2. Do another craft: Perhaps one that is a little less taxing on whatever part you have strained.  I picked up a cross stitch kit that I bought from Hoop and Needle at Midwest Craft Con.  I cross stitched years ago but have not picked up for a long time.  It’s so fun!  I’m loving it and even took it to knit night so I would have something to keep me busy.20160414_125829
  3. Color: Who isn’t into adult coloring???  I have the Mason-Dixon coloring book which is super fun and I think I saw that Franklin Habit has one out now too which I would love!  Of course, if your strained part is your coloring hand this might not be the best idea😦20160216_190821
  4. Do other chores: who I am kidding??  This is just a silly thought:)  I don’t even have a picture for this one:)

I have not knit a stitch since I turned the evil heel on Tuesday night and it’s now Saturday morning and the wrist is feeling pretty good.  I’ve got KAL to catch up on and I need to finish the heel on the sock (I will be moving the heel stitches to dpns, which is what I should have done from the start) and I’m excited about #BlanketMadness starting in a couple of weeks so we’ll see!

 

What’s on My Needles This Weekend

On the good news front – I finally finished the socks (more on those in this month’s FO post) I had been working on since July which opened up my sock needles/bag.  Oddly, I’m really starting to use up my sock yarn (not really, but sock yarn that I want to be socks is getting low) and I was trying to decide what socks to cast on next.  I went into my yarn room and this sock yarn that I bought on clearance at my LYS last year jumped out at me.

Now, I have many sock issues which I will detail in a future post.  For my next pair I decided to do a little reading of my Sock Architecture book and hope it would help correct those issues. The yarn I chose is Indulgence 6-Ply by Knitting Fever which has been (very sadly) discontinued.  A few of us bought skeins when they migrated over to the clearance area and two of my friends made baby sweaters (the Sprinkle from Juju’s Loops which is adorable!) It’s a heavier, DK, yarn as compared to usual fingering weight sock yarn.  That made it the perfect choice because I wanted to try using 9 inch circulars.  And, the 9 inch circs that I have are size 2.  I usually knit my socks on 1’s and with the DK weight would have needed to use a larger size anyway.

I settled on the Arithmophobia socks from Sock Architecture which uses a short row heel with no stitches to pick up (I hate picking up stitches).  I’ve heard mixed reviews on the 9 inch circs so I was anxious to dive in.  Casting on is a bit of a pain because there is not much to hold on to and the first couple of rows are a little difficult but after that the sock practically knits itself!!!  A couple of people at knit night said they do not like them because they lack the dexterity to manipulate the tiny needles and you do need to be able to work the tiny needles.  I love circular needles but hate magic loop because I can’t deal with all that cable so this is really the perfect solution for me.  I’ve never knit socks as fast as these are knitting up.  Of course, it probably helps the yarn is a bit thicker too but I don’t care because I love these socks so much and I can’t wait to wear them!

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What’s on my podcast playlist this weekend, you ask???  Well, I saw on Instagram that Vickie Howell had started a new podcast and she released three episodes last week.  They are all interviews and they include Rachael Herron (whose book I had just read a few weeks ago), Clara Parks (who has been on numerous podcasts but this interview is completely different) and the CEO of Spoonflower which was also very interesting.  She’s going to be releasing new episodes every Tuesday for six weeks so check that one out!

Another new one that I’ve been enjoying is Cultivate and Create.  It’s hosted by Sarah, or Mrs. Shoo and I love her format.  The episodes are usually about 20-30 minutes and she talks about something she wants, something she needs, something to wear and something to read so it’s a lot of fun in a short time.  She’s on Episode 10 so it’s easy to catch up with her, especially if you want to some good book recommendations to go with your knitting.

I always feel badly that I don’t use iTunes because apparently Apple really wants pressures prodcasters to get reviews to increase their visibility.  I have all Android and Windows products here so I figure I can at least give them a shout out here!  Check them out and if you use iTunes leave them a review from me!

Pom Poms

Me and pom poms are not friends.  I’m not sure where our relationship hit the skids because I remember doing pom pom crafts with the girls I babysit and don’t remember having issues but sometime between then and now we seem to have had a falling out.

For the most part this is not an issue as I just don’t use them.  But, I talked about the Bunny Nuggets I made for my goddaughters last week and all bunnies require a pom pom tail, right???

My problem was twofold – my pom poms kept falling apart and were way too big for my tiny bunny nuggets.  When I first started, I had two pom pom makers – the traditional circle one and another one that I can’t figure out how to use.  I was out at the big box craft store and picked up the Clover pom pom maker (of the makers it is definitely my favorite).

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I don’t enjoy the circle version because I never know how much yarn to cut off and I don’t like pulling it in and out.  The purple one I have no idea how to use and the directions have disappeared.  I loved the Clover one but the resulting pom pom was still too big.

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When the makers were failing me I decided to do a little online research and came up with some interesting techniques.  I found instructions on using toilet paper rolls, forks and a yarn winder.  All of those seemed like good ideas but none would make one small enough for my tiny bunnies.  I also found instructions for using your fingers – brilliant!  I tried two fingers and then just my pinky finger and all were still too big.

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Two fingers

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Pinky

Based on the research results I came up with my own idea and I thought it was brilliant!  I used 2 size 2 dpns and wrapped the yarn around those and then slid the tying piece of yarn between the two needles to secure the pom pom.  It seemed work.20160320_131134

It was really hard to cut the ends (and I was not at home with my really sharp scissors which might have helped).  I thought they turned out pretty cute.

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But by the time I got them home and went to sew them on, they were starting to fall apart so I scrapped them and ended up using store bought pom poms I had in my craft stash.

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The funny thing about this whole saga is just days before I decided to make these bunnies Arne & Carlos released a video on how to make pom poms and I thought – everyone knows how to make pom poms, what a strange tutorial.  The video is super entertaining but lesson learned – pom poms are harder to perfect than they appear!  So, if you have any great ideas about making awesome pom poms I would love to hear them!