Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The true harvest of my life is intangible - a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched--Henry David Thoreau

I'm a sucker for colors. Big bags of colored fiber.

But First, Socks
I don't count socks as "projects," per se. Every summer, this one excepted, I knit about 6-8 pairs of socks for myself and as adjunctive Christmas presents for family.

Socks are the Kleenex of knitting. You use 'em, abuse 'em, throw 'em away. And then restock.

So far this summer, I've only completed two pairs. One pair in Sockotta for John (which he has shoved in his dresser drawer) and this pair below.

The yarn is probably Opal. I always end up losing the band and then I forget what the fuck I'm using. As soon as one pair is done, I cast on for the next. I always have socks going. The ones below are also probably Opal. Lost the band again. Jesus.

I always use the same 60-stitch, 7 spi sock pattern, I always knit them from the top down, I always use four needles. I never get bored making them, for some odd reason. They fit me well. Since my sister has the same huge feet as I do, I can knit the same for her. My mother has somewhat smaller feet.

Wait. I knit socks for my mother, that doyenne of knitting? The octogenarian knitting fool? Yep. After knitting my father a pair of argyles back around 1955, she swore she would never knit another pair of socks again. Now we all know that argyles are knitted flat, so I think it's really her dislike of small dps. She'll use dps when she has to on sweaters but won't knit socks.

My sock yarn collection is frightening. But then, what else is worth buying at Stitches these days? Books and sock yarn. That's about it for me.

And Your Little Dog, Too
I'm just about ready to start spinning the big bag o' fiber that I bought on vacation. So I spread it out on the floor to see what's what. Nineteen colors.

Then I separated all but the black and the dark brown into viable colorways for spinning.

I've labeled them. Pick your favorite and let me know via the Comments which one you like the best. I know which group is my favorite.





Obviously, there are many more colorways I could come up with. This took about 2 minutes of fucking around. And since my guesstimate of the weight of each ball is about one ounce, I would need to spin 4 colors in order to get enough for a pair of adult-sized socks.

So vote early and vote often. A would make enough for a pair of socks for Liz and those happen to be her favorite colors lately. I could add either the dark brown or black to C to make enough. Whatever.

Prerequiste Cute Kittypoo Woodums Picture

This is Buddy. Buddy has just moved in. Buddy doesn't give a fuck about anyone or anything that gets in Buddy's way, including Cleo. Buddy is a big motherfucker who eats like a hog and makes himself to home immediately.

We like Buddy. He's our kind of cat. Woodums. Whether he's rare and handy remains to be seen.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.--Dave Barry

M&Ms and Diet Coke. My favorite snack.

Estonian Est Donian
I stayed up until midnight to finish this sucker. It's nice but I do wish it were longer and I knew from the get-go I would feel that way. Trying it on in front of the bathroom mirror and adjusting it so that it looked jaunty as opposed to jaundiced took a bit of doing but it will look fine with a black shirt and black pants.

This is unblocked and the ends are not yet darned in but that was too much to do at midnight.

So some thoughts on the Estonian Scarf project, after all is said and done.

  • Very good for beginners and people like me who need mindless projects when they're too stressed to do otherwise
  • Handpainted yarn looks best in a geometric lace pattern and looks like crap in overblown lace patterns. The simpler the geometric pattern, probably the better.
  • Brightly or lighter colored handpainted yarn is better to use in a lace pattern than a darker handpainted
  • I will definitely experiment with selvedges on my next triangular shawl. I did not like the left-hand selvedge much. There's a good selvedge on the FPS that I would use in place of Nancy Bush's.
  • I used my regular bind-off as opposed to the one in the directions. Doesn't make a difference, as far as I could see.

Now What?
I hate that sense of loss when I've finished something I've enjoyed knitting. So I went rummaging around at 7 a.m. this morning looking for some #1s to start some socks. And stumbled upon this lovely:

I figured out that it had been about a year and a half since I've worked on the Queen Anne's Lace. It's about time I finished it and the Forest Path Stole before I start something else, socks excluded since they don't count as projects.

Surprisingly, it only took me a couple of minutes to get back into the pattern.

QAL is actually one of the few, if not the only, Alice Starmore designs that uses only one color throughout for the contrast color. So it is relatively easy to follow the pattern. Of course, none of her designs are what I'd call "easy." But it's a nice sweater.

Color Cueless in The Knitting Universe
Puppy-shit brown. Now there's a color I find despicable, even when it's mixed with other colors. And boy oh boy did Knitter's go to town with this color in the latest issue. At least, it seems as if half of the sweaters feature this color in one way or another. And why another Hudson Bay jacket? Don't I remember a similar design from back when? It's probably the most decent item in the magazine.

What the fuck goes on in Mondragon's head? Editors generally dictate the fashion scheme, so you have to lay the blame on this exceptionally disastrous issue squarely at his feet. I can't believe that designers would actually want to use these colors. And the issue's theme is "Cool Cues"? Or "Color Cues"? Who would know, since the issue is called both in two different places on that muddled web site of theirs. It's apparently "Cool Cues" on the cover but I guess nobody copy-edits the web site. They certainly don't copy-edit the magazine.

If you want to preview the issue, do it prior to a meal so that the contents of your stomach are minimal.

Of course, I haven't seen any of the articles. But based on past experience, I can wait. Forever.

And while I'm at it, what possessed The Knitting Universe to put up those ghastly videos on knitting techniques? "Retro Knit School" indeed. Some visually challenged genius decided to shoot them in black-and-white using a dark background and dark yarn. Brilliant. Check them out for yourselves. If you can get them to load after fiddling around with the screen graphic. Hint: click on the "start" symbol.

Moving Out, Moving On
This is a relatively short entry today because Corinne and Mike are moving in today and tomorrow, and I need to get out of the house and out of their way. Chaos will reign.

Liz finishes her cruise tomorrow and docks in NYC sometime in the morning. We've missed her. Guess I'd better find those #1s and get cracking on a pair of socks for her so she doesn't think I've been dawdling. Gotta do socks always. You can't have too many of them. They're rare, handy and the cold weather will be here before you know it.

I'm thinking the French Riviera for the winter. Now that's rare and handy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.--Charles Mingus

The longer I knit and design my own, the more this concept rings true.

Just look in any knitting magazine or book and you will find only a handful of designers who are truly creative because they fulfill this criteria.

When ten pages of directions are needed to explain how to knit what should be a simple garment because it's been loaded up with arcane techniques in order to execute the design, there's a caveat therein.

Fit, form and function first. Old engineering premise. If a knitting design concept works with these three, it's a harmonious experience and something worth knitting and wearing.

Stevie Wonder Knits
As Marion pointed out in the last Comments, the chart for my mother's Hoxbro vest is so small, she had to write it out.

This is ridiculous and a huge deterrant to knitters. A serious problem that I've seen so many times in books and magazines, including those books by She Who Litigates In Scottish Courts.

The excuse? "We had to make the charts smaller so they would fit." That's completely unacceptable, in my opinion. Sure, there's a cost issue. Magazines especially are confined to a certain number of pages and they certainly aren't going to tell an advertiser that they need to cut an ad. Nor should they. However, less is always more. Cut a few of the mediocre designs and make the charts larger.

In the case of standalone directions, such as those in a kit, there's no fucking excuse. At all. Especially given what you pay for these kits.

I've had bad eyesight since I was five. It's not getting better and I'm getting older. Same for a lot of knitters. The magazines and book publishers should listen up. Of course, their perceived audience has an average age of 25, so I suppose I'm shouting in the wind.

Large-print Vogue Knitting, anyone?

The Long and Winding Road
It's a damned good thing John enjoys putting together stuff. Because in the past week, he's put together a dresser, two nightstands, a chair and a footstool, all from IKEA. If you don't have an IKEA in your part of the world, I feel for you. Great place for nicely designed cheap furniture.

After all of that, my Schacht winding station arrived the other day. This is arguably the best purchase I have made in years.

The dining room is still being put away--that's the rug waiting to be unwrapped. I think the winding station speaks for itself: a very handy swing arm for the chintzy Japanese swift I got with my weaving starter package (the "Almight KM Winding Reel"), holders for coned yarn and bobbins, and finally a permanent home for my yarn meter and ball winder.

The Packratter
I am a serious collector of things Victorian, specifically Flow Blue porcelain.

This is a shot of some of my Flow Blue. I no longer collect plates--got too many of those. So I now collect more unusual pieces. primarily 1860s and older. I just won an eBay bid on an excellent piece, a water pitcher circa 1860s

and I'm currently bidding on a fruit compote. Besides knitting and writing, my other passion is collecting stuff, as George Carlin would say. Or developing a stash of antiques.

I also collect the following:

  • Buffalo pottery
  • Miniature teasets
  • Frozen Charlottes (Charleys)

Frozen Charlottes were tiny porcelain penny dolls made from 1850 until right before WWI.

Little girls would often crochet or knit clothing for these dolls, which range in size from 1 inch up to 3.5 inches or so. The one above is about 3 inches tall. I have one that is dressed in a tiny crocheted outfit but she's still packed.

So now that I've totally bored you with my antiques fixation, I will go on with my unpacking and try to finish the Estonian thing-that-never-ends. The next project will be a self-designed lace shawl that needs a lot of prep work prior to knitting. I like a heavy-duty process session. Very rare and always handy.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I was at this restaurant. The sign said "Breakfast Anytime." So I ordered French Toast in the Renaissance.--Steven Wright

John and I went to see The Aristocrats on Saturday. Brilliant. Go see it.

"The Aristocrats" is an incredibly disgusting joke that has been around for years. The movie, a documentary, features a shitload of well-known comedians doing the joke, discussing the creativity involved in the joke and making you glad that we still have free speech in this country.

Here's the joke, as done by South Park's Cartman. Warning: Get your kids out of the room before you play this.

My sense of humor is strictly sophomoric in a Teutonic kind of way.

Although Steven Wright has always been one of my very favorite comedians. Along with Rita Rudner and Robin Williams.

Happy Birthday, Ma
This afternoon I hosted my mother's 82nd Birthday Barbecue. Everyone showed up except for daughter Jenn, who is on vacation out at the SCA Pennsic Wars near Pittsburgh, and Liz, who is cruising towards Bermuda with her father.

I gave her a Vivian Hoxbro vest kit from Harrisville called Ocean.

Told her it will keep her from senility. So of course she immediately takes out the directions and starts reading them.

I like Hoxbro's shadow knitting, which is very interesting, and really dislike her "Domino" knitting, which is nothing short of more modular crap. This will be a bit of a challenge for Mammy.

I'm still not sure why everyone decided to give her their presents in the kitchen. I think the Queen of Chaos, my sister, started the giftgiving frenzy there so that everyone could get in my way. And so it goes in my family.

She's Like A Rainbow
Lousy Stones song from when they were trying to outpsychedelicize The Beatles. I'm hoping my kid will win me tickets to one of their concerts because A) I will not pay $800 to see them in Hartford, which is the best I could do on the internet and B) Mick and Keith are older than I am by seven years, so this may be their last tour. I saw them twice in 1964 and 1965. I want to see them one more time.

But the point of the title is actually this:

Nice, eh? A bag o' merino in rainbow colors--19 of them, to be exact--courtesy of Ashford. I got this on vacation and have been visualizing how I might spin this mass of color into sock yarn that would not diminish the vibrancy. Here are my thoughts.

  • Pick x number of colors and spin ~6 inch lengths of each color, over and over. Then Navaho-ply them.
  • Spin each color by itself, then set up the color changes during plying i.e., ply six inches in singles of one color, then switch both singles to another.
  • OR ply using one single in one color and the other single in a complementary color, then switch after six inches.
  • OR maybe just spin each color by itself and use for Fair Isle, bi-color slip stitch or whatever. This seems to be the sanest thing to do, in my opinion.

There's enough in the bag to fuck around with any and all of the above. This is a project for the Joy while watching TV. The Matchless is for spinning Starry Night, which may end up being used as weft for a weaving project of unknown design.

If I had fibroids, I'd spin them. No doubt.

Will No One Rid Me of This Meddlesome Yarn?
I thought I would have been finished with the Estonian shawl. It is no longer a scarf, for sure. But the Morehouse quad skein belies its 880 yards. The fucking ball never ends. I honestly thought it would have been finished this weekend. The ball, albeit smaller, continues on.

This project will come to an end this week. It's beginning to lose not only its rareness but its handiness as well. Nonetheless, it's been a very enjoyable schmatteh to knit. I'll wear it to Stitches, I suppose. Since it's bound to be 85 degrees on September 23rd, when I'm going.

You know the KnitDweebs will be wearing their Homespun Einstein jackets and their Wool-Ease Kaffe Fassett ensembles. And you know I'll be there too, photographing them in their natural environment.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I never did very well in math - I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn't meant my answers literally.--Calvin Trillin

I am about to venture into what will be the most math-intensive experience I have had since failing high school algebra. Baggy-Pants Kowal would be proud of me, I'm sure. "Factor of x? What's that?"

We had nicknames for all of our high school teachers: Jolly Roger Kent, the music teacher who wasn't; G.I. Joe Kritzer, my first-year Latin teacher who threw erasers at you when you couldn't decline your nouns properly; and let us immorialize "Bubbles" Bubriski, who taught U.S. history while promoting narcolepsy among 16-year-olds.

Warp Tour
Now it begins. This instrument of torture is a warping board. I got it yesterday via UPS, when I was really hoping to get my winding station.

It's a big motherfucker, no? A warping board measures the warp of the loom in yards. You won't be cutting little pieces of yarn to size individually. Loopy has suggested that I practice warping. Oh yeah. Here's the process and what a warped board looks like.

This is going to be a most interesting journey with many, many fuck-ups. Thank God I have Loopy to guide me, although I suppose I could blame her for being a supreme enabler. Works both ways.

The New, Remarkably More Inane Knit List
I still scan the KL occasionally but Loop sent me a very special post from the list that I somehow missed. And is right up there on the Laziness Ladder with "How do I make a slip knot?" for the sorriest question ever.

The poster wants to know:
I would like to start working w/stripes but I don't know where to begin in choosing colors, how much of each color should the stripe be, repetition, etc. Does anyone know of a good resource, like a book or Web site? Or can offer some personal experience? (Note that I do know how to change color.)

My personal advice about stripes? Start with two colors and then alternate them. You can't go wrong with that recipe.

The dumbing-down continues. And it will continue to perpetuate, I'm afraid.

Little Bit, Little Bit
Just the scantest of spinning. I've been screwing around with the Joy and a 4-oz. bag of merino that I bought at Rhinebeck last year. I really need to get off the blue kick because as much as I love blue, I'm getting sick of it.

I need to get a digital camera that will take decent closeups of stitches. The Nikon Coolpix that I have now just doesn't cut it. However, the cost of digital SLRs is prohibitive, really. I'll have to ask my brother Rich, the photographer/massage therapist, what he thinks I might buy that will fill the bill.

Knit One, Purl Two
The rhetorical question: Why, when you are knitting in public, do non-knitters feel compelled to say this in lieu of any other intelligent comment? Besides, of course, the ubiquitous "That's crochet, right?"

I had to research this phrase, since it is certainly not a stitch combination that most knitters would do.

Turns out that it was a Glenn Miller song of the same name. I should have asked my mother. She was going to NYU at the time this song was popular and frequently spent her class time knitting and doing crossword puzzles. (Nice to know that her habits haven't changed much.)

Given the huge popularity of knitting during WWII, it's not surprising. In fact, I'm currently writing a piece about my maternal grandmother, who, flushed with patriotic fervor as only Grandma would be, decided she was going to knit for the boys overseas. Never mind that she didn't know how to knit--she was about the most unhandy person I've ever met. Her resulting balaclava effort started on five needles and ended up on two. I do not recall her ever singing this particular song.

Ex Libris
I'm still out in the garage sorting through boxes. And I knew at the time of the move that I should not have let John pack my knitting books because Mr. ADD didn't label a damned box. I managed to find some of them but not all. They're out there. But I need my lace reference books and my Barbara Walker books NOW. Sheesh.

Liz will be over shortly to help. She's off on a cruise to Bermuda Sunday with her father and I will miss her. Although I could have done without her continuous singing yesterday of her new song "It's Zimbabwe or my way."

You have to hear it to appreciate its annoyance factor. She's a rare and handy kid but sometimes she beats a dead horse, you know? To the death.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? --Scott Adams

Stupid people ask stupid questions because they are too lazy to look anything up. Stupidity and sloth: Perfect together. And for those who wish to search for something here, please use the new Google search tool I've added to the blog. Just scroll down to the bottom. You can do that, right? Without e-mailing me? Sure.

All of this reminds me--it's time to unpack my knitting books so I can practice what I preach.

Fighting Stupidity
If anyone should get the Darwin Award this year, it should be Dubya, that cyclist par excellence. Unfortunately, he's still with us, floating along in his own little world, oblivious and protected from bad things.

MoveOn is urging everyone to attend or host a vigil tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. for Cindy Sheehan, the mother who refuses to go away. I'm beginning to think that it's time to become a serious activist. It's all fine to whine about how awful he is. Let's start making public noise. You can find a vigil near you via the MoveOn search engine.

You know it's bad when the op-ed people start calling him a liar in print. And Clinton was impeached for dropping his drawers and lying about it? Please.

Visitor From Another Planet
Not to be clique-ish (although I suspect we are to some degree) but the Steeking Cosa Nostra--me, Joe, Kathy, Carol S., Lisa, Liza and Selma--tries to get together at least a few times a year. This past Saturday, it was just me and Selma in Rhinebeck, NY. The rest were either on vacation, selling a house, guesthosting the other's blog, incognito, or in England.

It was fucking hot. The thermometer on the bank in Rhinebeck read 105. I believed it to be true.

But we had a great time together, dragging my Johnny thither and yon. Mostly thither to Morehouse, where I bought two laceweight quad skeins for a design project

and one to augment the Estonian scarf. (Note to Selma: It really doesn't match--too much pink. I'll add it to my collection of little laceweight skeins.) Selma was knitting some Priscilla G-R socks from an old IK that I really liked. In green, of course. I do remember the issue. But it's in the big box of knitting mags in the garage.

As I wrote Loopy last night, "Gulp."

Halcyon now has my order for the Schacht Mighty Wolf loom. And the neccessary accoutrements.

Scary? Yeah. Not only because of the financial investment but because weaving is not easy stuff to learn.

Nonetheless, I feel oddly compelled to push myself in a new direction. If I'm not challenged, I'm bored. And there's nothing worse than boredom in my world.

Halcyon just called me and it will be 6-8 weeks before I get the loom (just in time for Rhinebeck, no doubt). Possibly sooner but no promises. That's fine. I'm doing preliminary reading anyway. And Loopy has been generous with her advice and information and has saved my ass in advance with her caveats.

Weaving is the logical segue from knitting and spinning, in my opinion. I'd rather create my own fabric than use manufactured stuff. It's the "make something from nothing" syndrome. That's what it's all about.

Finding mill ends for weaving is going to be tough. There used to be a great mill ends warehouse, Frances Yarns, nearby in Denville, but that's gone now. I don't know if Silk City Fibers in Paterson still exists. Any of my NJ readers know? It used to be open only on the first Saturday of every month. The Stanley Woolen Mill and the Bernat Mill in Uxbridge, MA, where I bought coned mill ends years ago, seem to have been gentrified and converted into shops.

Time to stop my morning writing and start working on the house again. I bought this fountain last weekend.

To knit outside and listen to water is possibly the most rare and handy (and relaxing) thing anyone can do.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.--Anna Quindlen

Can I find room in the new house for my loom? Sure. Finding room for my yarn may be another story. Bookshelves abound.

Kids and Knitting
One of the best things about moving into this house is that my daughter Corinne, her significant other Mike, and granddaughter Liz will also be moving in with us at the end of the month. Makes for cheaper living for everyone.

In the meanwhile, Liz is hanging out with me and learning what it's like to live in a house full of fiber and related equipment. For some odd reason, she thinks it's "cool."

I taught both my daughters how to knit as children, as well as Liz. Neither Jenn nor Corinne knit as adults. However, Jenn is a talented dressmaker and embroiderer with a specialty in medieval costuming and Corinne does lovely embroidery when she puts her mind to it and has the time. And she's a mean wallpaperer. Both of them inherited Jimmy's ability to draw anything.

When the girls were growing up, they lived in a house where both parents were deeply commited to creative endeavors. Jimmy built museum-quality wooden ship models and restored models for places like Mystic Seaport and nautical art galleries. I was intensely into my knitting as well as side trips into embroidery and quilting. As Jenn once said, "If you grew up in my family, you did SOMETHING."

What's important for kids is the exposure to creativity, not necessarily the immediate establishment of a singular craft devotion. It bothers me not that no one in the family other than me and my mother knits. What matters is that the kids grew up with no holds barred when it came to making things on their own. It's served them well as adults.

I never bought the girls any knitting books and I don't intend to buy Liz any of the teen knitting books currently on the market. Why? Because Liz needs the freedom to develop her knitting skills on her own, with my guidance. Once she's gotten the hang of knit and purl and played with different yarns, I will gladly buy her any book she wishes. To me, kids' knitting books are kinda like coloring books, another thing I don't believe in for children. Give 'em blank paper and crayons and they'll go off into their own creative world.

My wish for Liz is to learn to draw outside the lines. Just like her mother and aunt did.

Knitter as Photographer
I'm always behind the camera at family get-togethers and on trips. So I decided that there should be one lousy picture somewhere, for posterity, of me knitting.

Portrait of the Artist Waiting for Harrisville to

Oh yeah, it's South Beach and the treadmill for me this fall, that's for sure. And then of course, there's the goofy vacation picture we all cringe at. John talked me into this. Note that I have the incorrect finger extended.

I call the hat "Hortense." Fifteen bucks at the Lobster Festival. It was fucking hot, what can I say? Do I need a haircut? You bet.

VK General Feh
I bought VK at Harrisville because I wanted a mag to read in the car on the way home. This issue is marginally better than the last 20. Marginally. I liked the lace stuff in general, particularly Meg's stole, although I'm not quite sure I cared for the color contrast. I'd make it in black so it would be completely Gothic. The article on Turkish cast-on was interesting for a nanosecond.

As far as the cover shrug is concerned, you all know I despise shrugs. So I wasn't going to like it anyway. However, I think the stitch pattern would make a hell of a knitted rug. And I'm not being sarcastic here. Using floats as a design element is not a new concept and probably using a slip-stitch pattern such as linen stitch might make a more stable fabric for a rug. However, I do think this particular stitch pattern would work best in something other than a shapeless shrug. It's quite interesting and I liked the colors.

The "classic cables" were, quite simply, bland and boring.

Here's what I'd like to see one of the magazines do: A reader-designed issue. There's a lot of latent talent out there and although the editors would probably have to wade through a pile of crap submissions, I'm betting that they'd find some new blood. The old blood is getting older by the minute.

Estonian Scarf Redux
It's still going. I can't seem to get to the end of this Morehouse quad skein, which never seems to get any smaller. But I'm enjoying the hell out of knitting this.

I'm hoping to get to Morehouse this weekend and maybe see Selma the Axe Murderess, if she's around. The Morehouse laceweight is a pleasure to knit. I think I need more.

Back to the Future
Once the Estonian is finished, which should be soon, despite the neverending ball of yarn, I'm going back to the Slainte Aran. It's simply been too hot to even consider working in a weight heavier than fingering or lace. And I suppose I will work on finishing my other projects, the Forest Path Stole and Queen Anne's Lace, both of which are growing mold in their respective bags.

Anyway, Liz should be calling soon. She'll be glad to know I found her knitting bag among all the boxes. Personally, I'm opting for the lake today. It's going to be 90ish. Screw unpacking. That's about the most unrare and unhandy business I can think of.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
“You may not have lived much under the sea—” ("I haven’t,” said Alice)—"and perhaps you were never even introduced to a lobster—" (Alice began to say, “I once tasted—” but checked herself hastily, and said, “No, never”) “—so you can have no idea what a delightful thing a Lobster-Quadrille is!”--Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance? (For all you Carrollingians.)

These lobsters were slaughtered on the behalf of the Maine Lobster Festival's aptly named Main Food Tent, which was seemingly the length of a football field. Those Downeasters calls 'em like they sees 'em.

It's good to be back, I suppose. All moved in the new house, rested and ready.

The Trip

It's been a very long time--four years--since I had been to New England. This trip was sorely needed.

My plan was to visit as many of the major fiber centers in New England as possible--Halcyon, Patternworks, The Fiber Studio, Harrisville and WEBS. I did it, with a big thanks to John for being so incredibly patient. At some point I realized that this tour de tricoter might make a good article, so for that reason, I will not go into excrutiating detail nor will I publish some of the pictures that will accompany said article.

However, I'll show you some of what I bought and give you some general thoughts about these five spots.

Oh yeah, we did do things other than visit fiber joints. Ate a ton of seafood, went to the White Mountains in NH, swam in a Maine lake that surpassed the tired adjective "pristine." Driving through the White Mountains National Forest, we followed this magnificent stream.

I'm more than ready to go back. If you're going to NH, take the Kangamaugus Highway from North Conway to I93. You won't regret it. It is certainly one of the most beautiful areas in the Northeast.

First stop for two days was Gloucester, MA. No fiber opportunities there but I did indulge my other passion--antique porcelain. Cape Ann is another wonderful New England area. A bit touristy but fun nonetheless. The trip north to Bath on I95 is a stone bore. So we got off at Ogunquit for a stroll down the Marginal Way in Perkins Cove and lunch on the water.

Then it was on to Bath, ME for my stop at Halcyon. We got there at 3:55 p.m. They close at 4. Great. I figured I had 5 minutes. However, the college student who helped me, Anna, was one of the nicest people I've ever met in a shop. It's good to meet someone young who takes knitting seriously, and I was impressed by Anna's knowledge and commitment to doing it right. No frou-frou scarves for her or her college knitting group.

I had been wanting to buy a Joy portable wheel for a long time and so I did. You can see I've already started fucking around with it. It spins very nicely. Loop wanted to know why I bought an Ashford. Partially on recommendations from people on the SpinList and partially because I really didn't care for the looks of the Gem. So I'm capricious.

My next stop was New Hampshire. Patternworks in Center Harbor and The Fiber Studio in Henniker. Patternworks, although a lovely, bright, airy yarn shop with a ton of yarn, is now just that. A lovely yarn shop in a resort town on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. If you used to go to the old warehouse in Poughkeepsie and expect to see the same thing, forget it and go to WEBS. The Fiber Studio is also worth a trip if you are in southwestern NH, although I found the sales help there somewhat vague and rather distant.

I did get some interesting silk to spin at The Fiber Studio.

God knows what I'll do with it.

And finally, I made it to Harrisville Designs. If you are serious about knitting, spinning and especially weaving, this is a place to visit and certainly, with Halcyon, a true fiber center. Harrisville is fascinating from an historic perspective, since it is the only surviving 19th century textile village left, thanks to John Colony, the owner of Harrisville Designs. Go to the web site and you can read about his efforts.

WEBS, which I stopped at on my way home, is primarily aimed at knitters, with a huge selection of yarn. Those of you who go to Stitches know about WEBS. What I didn't know was that they also carry wheels and looms.

One last note: Nearly all of the sales help in these centers were pleasant, knowledgeable, and helpful. I was happy to buy something in each place, God help me.

Well, that should suffice for the nonce. I'm about to buy a loom, having bought some books on weaving that Loop recommended. It's clear to me that this is the direction in which I need to go. Besides, I'm giving Loop much wicked pleasure in her enabling.

And one last rare and handy picture from New England because I love flowers.