Thursday, 29 January 2015

Yarn Shopping En Route

Driving 3400km isn't all hard work. This year, we have a couple of extra days to kill before picking up our condo key on South Padre Island. For once, we are taking our time driving through Texas, stopping at places of interest to us.

Today the plan was to stop at La Grange, halfway between San Antonio and Houston, to visit a fabric and yarn shop, The Quilted Skein, that looked very inviting on line.

We arrived there after 5 hours of driving from where we stayed last night, very little of which was interstate driving. We were mostly on 2 lane highways where the posted speed limit was 70mph. Most of the time, we were able to drive the speed limit so it wasn't too frustrating getting stuck behind the odd truck or motor home. There were passing lanes or small towns every few miles where we could get past the slow pokes.

We had no trouble finding The Quilted Skein, half a block down a side street off the main street.

Skip had to take this action shot of me going in. (note: I am now sporting flip flops)
The yarn shop is beautifully laid out with fabric on one side

and the yarn on the other side.

There is also more fabric (Skip calls it 'cloth') and yarn in the back room.

Even the bathroom was tastefully decorated with quilted pieces.

This one resembles an ancient Sumarian image:

 This quilt was a very clever way to display several Panamanian molas.
 There were several other colourful quilts on display in the shop.
I like how this one was quilted just with straight, parallel lines.
Next door is the Texas Quilt Museum, which we didn't visit this time.
Beside the museum is this painted mural
and a 'grandmother's flower garden'.

The downtown of La Grange is still well occupied with banks, businesses, and interesting shops.

And what did I buy?

A lovely multi-coloured skein of Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn. I have a Hitchiker in mind for this - or something similar.
I also purchased some Vice sock yarn.

The dyer uses knitted blocks of doubled sock yarn, dyes them, then unravels them and winds them separately so identical twins can be knit.
It's Freia-esque.
Now to find the perfect pattern for 'blurred lines' striped sock yarn.

Pattern suggestions for it and the Jitterbug yarn are gratefully welcome.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Where You'd Least Expect It

Skip and I are off on our annual trek to the sunny south. This year we are returning to south Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.

We got a good start yesterday and drove the 700+km to Fort Wayne, IN. This morning we got away by 8am (early for us) and after leaving IN, crossing into IL and driving a few miles, we saw signs along the road, Burma Shave style, inviting us to see the world's largest golf tee and wind chimes in Casey, IL (pop. 2762 as of the 2010 census).

Well how could we pass an opportunity like this up? When we got into town we saw this billboard:
Not only the world's largest golf tee and wind chimes but also the largest crochet hook, knitting needles and rocking chair. We just followed the signs until we found the wind chime:

Across the street, the world's largest rocking chair is 'coming soon'.
We then followed the signs to the Casey Country Club to see the largest golf tee.

Then it was time to see the largest knitting needles and crochet hook.

They are on display at The Yarn Studio, a wonderful-looking place on a prominent corner on the main street of town.

Unfortunately, it hadn`t opened for the day yet.

so we could only look in  the windows.

It`s probably a good thing it was closed as Skip would have had a heck of a time getting me out of there to continue our journey.
I did get a few photos of the vital statistics.

This one`s the business end of the hook.
But I had to use a photo from the internet for the knitting needles.
Photo by Ashley Littlejohn
Maybe one day I`ll get inside...

To make it into the Guinness Book of Records, the proprietor, Jeanette huisinga, had to crochet and knit 10 x 10 squares. The crochet hook and knitting needles even have their own website.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Haruni The Second

Whenever I wear my Haruni shawl, I get lots of compliments.

I knit it from seacell/silk yarn I hand-painted using Sky Blue Jacquard dye painting, then diluting (thus lightening) the dye.

I wear it slung over one shoulder with the two ends meeting over my other shoulder where I pin them.

A friend of mine asked me to knit her one after seeing mine. I took her yarn shopping at Romni back in November where we selected some lovely hand-painted yarn by Rhichard Devrieze. It is the same base yarn as Koigu sock yarn so has a nice twist.
While on the cruise, I did a lot of work on this while I was knitting in public. Two guests asked me for the pattern, which I was happy to give them.
I LOVE the leaf detail on the border.
I was not surprised to learn that there is now a Haruni Variation Collection.

I knit an extra pattern repeat to make it a bit larger before starting the border (Chart B). There was plenty of yarn to do so.
I particularly like the design of the points at either end of the 'hypotenuse'. So often designers don't bother working the design to a point. Emily Ross really did a beautiful job with this border. The last row that looks crocheted and joins the three stitches at the points of the leaves, is simply done with knitting.
A firm blocking is the key, pinning out each of the loops on the edge.

Now I want to make another.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Teaching Knitting At Sea

Skip and I got ourselves to Miami in plenty of time to board the luxury cruise ship, the Crystal Serenity. All staterooms on the ship are exterior ones with either a window or a balcony. The greatest part of our stateroom was the bathroom.

Two sinks! And granite countertops!
A bathtub!

Our comfy stateroom.
I set up my office on the vanity. It had been suggested that I bring a printer so as to not impose on the staff on the ship. It proved to be very handy when I needed to find patterns for the various levels of my knitters, print display cards, print invitations to the show, etc.
Of the 14 days, there were 6 days at sea. I taught a 45 minute knitting class on 5 of them.

Here, I'm teaching the long-tail cast-on.
 Janet, third from left in blue, worked on one of the kits she purchased - a mohair shawl.
My classroom was one of the restaurants with  a wonderful view of the Caribbean Sea. However, my students were concentrating on their tasks.
Josephine worked on a cotton dishcloth pattern while her daughter, Judy, to her right, learned to knit as a left-hander.
Jonathan worked diligently reinforced by Guinness.
At my second class, Jonathan brought his son, James (centre), who was not going to be outdone by his father. Then on the fourth class, James' mother, Cheryl, arrived with Annick and Kate - all beginning knitters.
Janet needed help with mohair management as her shawl required two strands of the yarn. Pulling from the outside and inside of the ball proved to create a tangled mess.
I sent Skip, my helper, to the stateroom to fetch the ball winder I had packed. I split the skein so Janet could knit from the outsides of both balls of mohair. Problem solved.
My students were delightful. In addition to these folks pictured at only one of my classes, I taught several children and adults to knit. Some experienced knitters also joined us to take a look at the kits that were available for purchase. Some purchased kits and went off on their own to knit while others came and knit their kits with us.

The last at sea day was our 'show' where the art teacher and I put our students' work on display.
I mostly had swatches to show

but also had Josephine's two completed projects and Janet's partially completed mohair shawl to show off.
The other 8 days we stopped at islands, Skip and I were free to operate like the other guests on the ship. My next post will highlight the ports we visited.