13 January 2008

Its all about the yarn...

**Warning: Apparently my lack of interesting things to feed the blog with has made me overly enthusiastic now that I have something to share. This is a long post and has lots of pictures. You've been warned.

Yesterday was a day stuffed with things to do. Most of them were fun and got me going on things I've been wanting to try for a while. All in all, it was one of those Saturdays that makes the rest of the week bearable.

I started my sock knitting class yesterday at the prettiest yarn store in the world, Artisan Knitworks. Its in Grosse Pointe Parks and takes me 45 minutes one way to get there but I don't care. If this place was on the other side of the world and I had to hire NASA to get there, I'd do it. Why? Glad you asked....

I called there, quite downtrodden, a couple weeks ago inquiring about a beginning sock knitting class. You see, my level of frustration about trying to find a class had pretty much hit the ceiling and was working its way through the roof. You wouldn't think its that hard but trust me, its not easy either. The yarn store closest to me has a class policy that makes me twitch in the most unattractive of ways. So they are out. The other yarn store that I really like that isn't too far away didn't have a class until March and it was on circular needles. I want to learn it on double points. (Remember I said that. Remember I said I want to, that implies an open willingness. Its important for later.)

I called Artisan Knitworks, Lynne Wardrop answered the phone and I'm not sure if it was the tone of my voice (I'm sure I sounded like something akin to a five year old who lost her blankie) or the fact that we actually know each other from when I had my store, but she offered me private lessons to fit my schedule. I latched onto that offer and scribbled it in my calendar and every time I was feeling like a trapped rat at work, I would open my datebook and look at the fact that there was a human on earth that willing to teach me to knit socks and the day would get brighter. (Yes, I am just that simple.)

And not only does Lynne teach sock knitting, she designs and publishes her own sock patterns. She's currently distrubting them through Lorna's Laces. To say this impresses me is an understatment. I'm not saying there aren't tons of talented sock knitters out there but to be taught by someone who is so prolific and has clearly mastered the art is kind of like the difference between being baptized by the pope as opposed to your local minister.

And it kind of made me nervous.

Which is why I wanted to practice my purling. I had visions in my head of Lynne looking at me like I was this alien that she just wanted to eject from the store. (Lynne is extremely nice and would never do such a thing but I wasn't sure I had made it clear enough just how much of a beginner knitter I am. Like really basic. And slow. And did I mention I hardly know anything beyond knit and purl and decreases? Yeeeeaaahhhh...not sure I mentioned that to her on the phone.) So I started this scarf late friday night in an effort to calm my obsessive Virgo jitters that I would cause my new teacher to scream in agony when she realized how slllllloooooooooooooooowwwwwww I knit and how little I know.

Its a pretty scarf, all in a rib pattern. Just like socks. Clever, aren't I? I practice this, I create the illusion that I know what I'm doing and then I can get Lynne to keep teaching me. Ha.

So Lynne takes me to this wall when I get to the store and says, "Pick one."

Huh? Just one??? This is their wall of sock yarn. Its all hand dyed, its all gorgeous and it includes the new Noro sock yarn. Which frankly would have to soften up considerably in order for me to knit with it 'cause its really scratchy. So Lynne helped me pick something and I think I must have been drunk being surrounded by all that fiber because the yarn contains....are you ready?...pink. Not a lot, just a small part of the variegation but its there and its laughing at me. *sigh* But it has a lot of other colors in it that I adore and since I love 99.9% of it, I will keep using it.

We sat down in the cutest of seating areas complete with leather chairs/loveseat, glass coffee table, current magazine for browsing and right smack in front of a big window so there is lots of natural lighting. (Have I mentioned I love this store? Love it. Love it. Love it.) And Lynne tells me to knit a gauge swatch.

Ummmmm....I've heard of those things. (Did I mention I was new?)

Lynne patiently explained how to do it and I came up with this. (I am not going to out myself as to how long it took me to produce this.)

Okay, step one accomplished. Then on to casting on to the tiniest needles ever created. Well, not tiniest as they are only 3mm and its my understanding they come smaller then this. Hats off to all you crazies who knit with needles smaller then 3mm. I suspect that you would knit with needles that come in negative sizes if you could, just to prove a point. You're nuts.

So here is my first sock newly cast on to the toothpicks:

I'm tellin' ya, its a good thing I don't have a kung-fu grip or these puppies would be goners in a second. I think gnomes use bigger toothpicks then these.

So Lynne bravely soldiered on and taught me how to knit in the round. We had a great time talking and catching up and visiting (which its good I had that to offer because watching me knit can not be interesting in any way) and I kept asking questions and I made this:

Here's a closer look:

That's the ribbing for the cuff in case you are wondering. That took me two hours. Go on, giggle away...I'll wait....

Done? Okay, good. Lynne assures me it gets quicker once you get more done and while I know this to be true because a similar thing happens when I'm knitting scarf, the notion that I will be trucking along on these soon seems unrealistic. I know, I know, too hard on myself. I just need practice. But holy yarn batman, two hours??? For that???

My homework for this class is to knit 6" of ribbing and start the heel so that my slow-as-molasses-knitting skills will allow Lynne to teach me the hard parts of the heel at the next class. Add to that that my goal is to cast on and work on both socks at the same time and I've got lots of work to do. It would be nice to produce more then one sock every ten years.

I've vowed to keep going. I'm determined to make it look like something. It will be a sock, its personal now. I will take that pink-infested yarn and wrestle it into something I can wear on my feet. Stay tuned...this should be interesting...

Oh, and I may have slipped and bought more yarn...it may look like this...

The colors suck in this picture. Its called "Harvest" and has purple, tan, brown, orange, red and I love it so much I want to build a shrine to it. I've never knit with yarn with this content...its got cashmere and lambs wool in it. Would it be wrong put it in my purse and carry it around so I can pet it when I feel stressed? Yeah, you're right...too weird.

I foolishly believed that I would only spend two hours at the yarn store. Yeah, you can resume giggling...I ran later then I thought and had to speed grocery shop because Tom was coming over. I've never grocery shopped that quick in my life, and I may have run over some small children with my cart in the process but I'm confident there was no permanent damage so don't worry too much.

Tom went to Mexico for New Years and when he intially told me he was going, I shamelessly blurted out, "BRING ME BACK SOME DAY OF THE DEAD STUFF!!!!!" Yes. That loudly. That rudely. And I continued to remind him until the day he left. Its a lucky thing the man likes me so much.

He brought me back these and I love them:

Thanks Tom!!!

We had dinner and went to see Sweeney Todd. I'm not sure I liked it (the movie, dinner was good). I liked parts of it but not all of it. I didn't fall in love with it the way I thought I would (its Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and that combination usually equates to obsessive drooling for me). Not sure why, maybe if I see it again it'll grow on me.

I realize the blog has turned into a lot of knitting and crocheting. I used to just play around with these from time to time but it seems they are becoming permanent additions to my fiber obsession. It'll taper off after a while. But come on, how can you not love all that yarn? Say it with me.....Oooooooooooooohhhhhhhh, yarn. Okay, moving on...

Today is for domestic duties and homework. Yeah, you read that right...homework. I'm taking an online writing class from here and I am painfully out of practice when it comes to meeting homework deadlines. I have to really bury my head in the sand and get most of it cleaned up today. I have almost everything started but it really needs revising. I have to turn it in by tuesday evening and I am planning to make a schedule for myself for during the week to get future assignments done. Homework. Ack.

So I'm still obsessing over amigurumi. But I realize not all of you see the appeal nor care about the adorable little crocheted friends. So I'm going to leave those parts of future posts to the end and if the thought of reading more about crocheted devils makes your eyes glaze in a fit of irritation, they you can skip it. For those of you who like it just as much as I do, read on...


The Dotty saga continues. Here is our latest dilema, note the lack of structural integrity of his pumpkin house:

Dotty and I aren't pleased with this. So I found some smaller yarn in the baby section of another yarn store and started making a smaller version. Here is a size comparison of the original monstrosity I made and the new one:

Its not done yet, I'm getting distracted by too many things at one time so I have to narrow down my focus a bit but I work on this here and there and its getting done. Of course, a smaller house means needing to create a smaller Dotty. What will happen to the original Dotty? Well...he has an avid admirer:

Poor Dotty.


Leann said...

Knitting socks, Crocheting little creatures, making art quilts, and keeping that more-than-full-time job. Shouldn't be a problem....

Judy said...

I came to your blog through Virginia Spiegel and was intrigued by your sock-knitting. I too have been intrigued by knitting and sock knitting in particular, so took my first class a little less than a year ago, using one long circular needle. Just after I finished my first sock, the quilt shop where I took the class closed and I had no guidance for sock #2. Recently I've gotten connected with a knitting group and am now on my way to completing my second pair. It is so addictive! I love your yarns and understood TOTALLY what you were writing and saying: Great blog!!