Friday, August 10, 2007

A Knitting Vacation

My husband and I have taken a few days away on vacation. I needed to get away, and my workaholic husband needed to rest. I looked forward to a leisurely vacation, taking my knitting for the long drive to Las Vegas.

I tried to pack several knitting projects in progress, as well as new ones I wanted to start if I got bored. I packed the PI shawl to work on the border, the handspun pink variegated merino Forest Canopy shoulder shawl I had started a few weeks ago, the UFO handspun black tencel Dog paw shawl I started several months ago, and I brought a ball of multicolored Trekking XXL to start learning how to knit socks on circular needles. I envisioned getting a lot done since I really don’t gamble much and my husband likes to read, sleep, watch TV and listen to audiobooks on his ipod. I would have a lot of free time to myself to knit. Isn’t that heavenly? We also planned a one-day bus tour to the Grand Canyon, allowing for more time to knit on the 4 hr trip there and 4 hr trip back.

Working on the edging of the light blue PI shawl has been slow going. The Zig-zag lace pattern I picked has a 16 rows per repeat and each row takes a lot of concentration. After much frogging to correct mistakes from knitting the wrong numbered rows, I finally ended up buying a row counter to help keep better track of where I was with all the interruptions.

The counter is a very handy thing. Every time I complete a row I push this clicker and it advances the number. I can wear it from my neck as a necklace. In three days, I’ve only been able to complete 7 repeats of edging out of 36. This is definitely going to take me awhile to complete.

For mindless car or bus knitting, I’ve been working on the Forest Canopy shawl. I think I received this Sherbert colored soft merino roving as a prize from last year’s Team Hand Spinning Competition at the Lambtown Festival in Dixon, CA. I spun it up into a light worsted 2-ply. It is so soft and I know the shawl will be very cozy when finished. The pattern is a shawlette but I want to make it larger to about 60 inches wide so it will cover better. I will need to increase the number of pattern motifs but the triangular pattern makes this easy. I am about ¾ ths of the way done. I will then add a nice border.

What knitter can resist visiting all the yarn shops in the area where they are? Not me. Actually, I have a very special reason for returning for a visit at one particular yarn shop, The Wooley Wonder in Las Vegas. About 5 years ago, I visited this shop to explore the yarn selection. I was amazed to see so much fiber and spinning supplies too. I inquired about the spinning and the owner, (I can’t remember her name), offered to give me a free lesson on spinning with a spindle. She had me start with some Romney roving and in a few minutes I was hooked. I came home with a Schacht Wooden spindle, ½ lb of Romney roving and an excitement to learn more and practice. On this visit, Sharon, had just opened the shop for the day. I shared with her how grateful I was for the lesson from the previous experience and it has lead to experiences and prizes in Spinning. The second year spinning, I acquired a Joy Spinning Wheel and won a Ashford Kiwi Wheel as a First place Beginning Spinning prize at the Los Angeles County Fair spinning contest. Last year I entered the First Annual Lambtown Spinning Contest and came in a decent 3rd place in Overall spinning and 1st place with my husband in the Team Competition. Sharon was thrilled to hear of these experiences.

The shop was located in the same place on Tropicana Blvd but the spinning and weaving supplies were moved to the back room. I was a little disappointed in the selection but I picked up ½ lb grey Icelandic roving. There was a limited supply of other fiber but they were packaged in small 4oz balls that seemed only for sampling or lessons. There was, however, a good assortment of yarn from various well-known vendors. I can’t remember them all. They had a very good sock yarn collection and I would think this was the focus of the shop. I inquired about books on lace, but they did not have much in stock. They did, however, have lace-weight alpaca silk.

The other shop we visited was Gail’s Knits, which had recently moved up the block. There were several women who were sitting around the table knitting various projects. Its seemed as it this was a “come and drop in” session which was open and friendly. The was an abundance of novelty yarn and solid colored yarn but very little variegated or lace weight yarn. This was more of a designer shop. The attendant was very helpful in suggesting some substitutions to a pattern I wanted to make from the book Lavish Lace, by Carol Rasmussen Noble. I bought two balls of soft soysilk.

I have one more day of vacation left. I have been inspired to knit more lace projects and have all kinds of ideas for new lace project and a spinning & dyeing project to start. I also bought the new Twisted Sisters Knit Sweaters Book, which is marvelous. I haven’t made too many sweaters, since California has a short cold weather season and my attention span has not been too good on sweater making. From scanning the book, there is a wonderful table that recommends the gauge and needle size for different kind of densities of fabric, i.e. Drapey or openwork fabric, pliable or normal fabic and Dense or stiff fabrics. The colorful handspun yarns they use on the sweaters are so inspiring.

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