Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lovely to contemplate

Three charming alpacas from Shadow Pines Farm (Exeter, RI), enjoyed making a public spectacle of themselves outside of Eneri Knits last weekend.

And here is yesterday, in Falmouth, MA:

No matter how inconspicuous an LYS may be, I can usually find it...  Sage Yarns in Falmouth has a reasonable selection o' stuff.
K, my pal in Falmouth, models some mood-enhancing handknit socks (from my needles).  The yarn is one of Marathon's wackier self-fair-isling numbers.

And finally, Neuroknitter and I happily spent the better part of an hour last week in Wickford, RI, at The Mermaid's Purl.  Check out Neuro's blog to see the beauteous scarf she's doing with seacell-infused yarn she bought there.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bad yarn, great yarn

Gentle knitters, it's been a frantic few weeks, hence the silence. During this blackout period, I've crammed in as much knitting as possible to remind myself that actually some things do come to a good end, even if the process is a struggle. For instance, these socks, lying peacefully next to Molly:

You'd never suspect, to look at them, that this is Yarn from Hell. To explain briefly: it's served up in a pull-skein, theoretically an efficient way to dispense yarn. Pull the string from deep inside and the yarn neatly flows onto needles. Except in this case, what came out from the depths was a huge, seemingly endless tangle, and it was maddeningly difficult to unknot. In fact, I had to cut the yarn several times to continue. The manufacturer is some German company whose name I repressed after I tore the ball-band into a million bits.

Compare this to the delightful unskeining today of North Light Fibers's Island Meadow Blend (60% baby alpaca, 40% kid mohair).

The skein is neatly tied, and the tie opens cleanly. Nothing to cut, no knots to untangle.
This ball-winding process was smooth as could be. Tweak the tie, it drifts gently apart, yarn (sitting cleanly on yarn swift) rolls into a perfect ball:  voila! the Platonic Ideal of Yarn Readiness.

How could any knitter not love this already, even before casting on? I was a goner from the get-go.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Rain in Maine Fell Plainly on My Brain

Gentle readers, I did it!  I went to Maine for knitting-related business and pleasure. This means that in the two-plus years I've been blogging, I've finally reported about every New England state.  Whew!

Welcoming sign on exterior wall of Camden, Maine restaurant.

Admittedly, the southern three states have been granted the lion's share of coverage by moi. That has to do with proximity and my dislike of driving (I was obviously born in the wrong century). Fortunately, many factors conspired to make this northernmost trip possible, such as that H--my comrade, helpmate, and frequent chauffeur--really loves to visit the state of Maine and was more than happy to fetch us both to Camden and back. And, that I'm writing an article covering the wonderful organic yarn produced by Swans Island, about twelve miles north of Camden.

Swans Island headquarters, an 18th century farmhouse in North Fairport, Maine. Its name comes from an earlier incarnation of the company.

So, more about this estimable fiber-based company when the article appears some months hence. (I'll be tooting my horn when that happens, and you'll know.) For now, more about the knitting aspects of my trip.

First off, let it be said that five+ hours (each way) in the car can be highly productive, knitting-wise. At the start of our drive, I began one sock and finished it; on the way back, started another.

Hidden pictures:  Find the half-completed socks!
And whilst in Camden, I scoped out the one yarn store in town:  The Cashmere Goat. Here's the news: it's a very nice place.  The shop itself is airy and spacious; the two ladies minding the store were friendly yet unobtrusive; the selection of yarns (including Swans Island) is choice.

Though probably not apparent from these photos, most of the time we were in Maine it rained steadily--the sun really only coming out sporadically on our day of departure. It was English weather, actually, where you were dodging showers and couldn't leave shelter without a raincoat and umbrella. Maine had had an extraordinary accumulation of rain during the previous week--some towns recording more than eight inches; and there was a great deal of local flooding.  Herewith some dramatic weather shots:

River water rushing into Camden harbor.

Coastal islands viewed from atop Mt. Battie.  On the left, rain over the ocean.  On the right, clear skies.
On the drive home, we meandered through Damariscotta, Maine, another beautiful seaside hamlet. It was there, surrounded by the loveliest of spring gardens, that I discovered Pine Tree Yarns...which was (sigh) closed.

Note reads:  Open/When the flag is out/Or by appointment./ Call 563-5003./ I might be away in/ Nova Scotia, be/patient. I will return soon with some yarn.

 Oh well...another time. (As if I needed a reason to return....)

Meanwhile, catch my latest article, on the Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney, Vermont, in the just-released issue of Knitscene Accessories.