Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ravellenic training, part 2.

All right, let's talk about lace.

Actually, first let's talk about my stash.

I used to be the sort of hapless knitter who finds a pattern, drools over it for a few days, then finally goes to the LYS and buys yarn for it. And nothing else. No "oh this is just so pretty" yarn, no "I'm sure I'll find something to knit with it" yarn. In my defense, I was a poor college student. I'm now a poor graduate student and damned if I haven't learned that yarn is yummier than food. (Note: I am not actually starving myself for yarn money. My parents are kind enough to make sure I can both feed myself and indulge in a hobby or two.)

Anyway, I was able to do this in college because I was in the Greater Boston area, and there were excellent yarn stores (including "my" LYS, Mind's Eye Yarns) accessible by public transit. This is no longer the case. I now live out in the Rockies, where everything is big, and you need a car to go anywhere. And I have no car. So when I get to go to a yarn store, I make... pre-emptive purchases. I build up my emergency stash. I save up against winter.

I do this even if I've been on four yarn shopping trips in the past month.

Estes Park Wool Market

While my mother was visiting me early last month, I took advantage of her rental car and persuaded her that a day trip over the mountains to visit a yarn festival would be an excellent idea. And surprisingly, it was. My mother was enchanted by all the sheep and alpacas and angora rabbits, and I stared in awe at all the vendors and their lovely fiber products. I resisted the call of the laceweight, buying only a skein of gray Road to China Light (by The Fibre Company) for a hat for my mother. My mother retaliated by buying me on ounce of roving to play around with. So clearly I had to buy a drop spindle.

Then the next day, since I just couldn't get the thought of all the beautiful laceweights out of my mind, we stopped by again on our way back from the Rocky Mountain National Park, and I bought a skein of Skaska Designs merino/silk laceweight. 1350 yards of it. No reason, just to have it. It's glorious.

Okay, I just spent fifteen minutes squishing that skein. Moving on.

The Yarn Crawl

Then the ever-supportive Bandit took Amy and myself out on a yarn crawl, as part of my ongoing efforts to introduce Amy to a wider variety of yarn. We hit up three LYSes.

First, Kamille's - a small, rustic-looking cabin in the middle of Gardner Village, which (as far as I could tell) was a bustling crafts village. I was surprised not to see many familiar brands - none of the usual staples of an LYS like Cascade or Berroco. It's possible that the owner tries to stock as many local brands as possible. I didn't purchase anything here, but Amy bought a beautiful satin project bag for herself, then snuck in one for me as well.

Then off to Knittin' Pretty, which just opened in April. The store looked very... new. It had lovely decorations (including a pair of size 75 needles propped up under the register) and a few tastefully arranged shelves of yarn, and I couldn't help thinking to myself when I was inside that within a year, if the shop made it, the pretty pictures and metal wall ornaments would have to go and there would have to be something like twice the number of bookshelves crammed inside to hold enough yarn. I bought the Panda Silk that I used in the Fern Lace armwarmers here, as well as a skein of red yarn that I promptly handed over to Amy as revenge for the project bag. I want this adorable little store to make it, but I can't help being a bit cynical when I look at the state of its website, or its Ravelry directory entry and how little information it has, or the fact that I'm the only one listed as having stashed anything purchased there.

Finally, Unraveled Sheep, which is pretty much my image of the "stereotypical" LYS. Shelves upon shelves of all different kinds and colors and weights of yarn, walls of accessories, racks of needles... and a destashing sale going on in the back, in a little room behind the circle of regulars who were happily knitting and crocheting away. I picked up two skeins of Karabella Empire Silk - that's 180 yards of pure silk - for just $5. Then I wandered back into the front of the shop, and proceeded to collect a skein of navy blue Cascade Alpaca Lace, a 12" Addi circ in size 4 (to knit the sleeves on Bandit's sweater without having to switch DPNs every twenty stitches), and my very first needle sizer/stitch gauge. Amy didn't buy anything. I think she was too intimidated. Or overwhelmed by all the yarn fumes.

Down Cellar

Despite the fact that Mind's Eye Yarns got to my heart first, Down Cellar is still one of my favorite LYSes ever. It's cozy, chock-full of wonderful yarns of all different types, and staffed by the nicest and most helpful employees. It's also located not too far away from where my friend Pickle lives, and since he's (thankfully) open-minded about my hobbies, each of my recent visits to him have included a stop here.

In this case, that meant a nail-biting 45-minute drive trying to get there before the store closed at 3 PM. We made it with half an hour to browse, and plunged right into the sock yarns, from which I intended to knit him socks. Like I said before, I chose Dream in Color Smooshy for myself. He proceeded to vacillate over the yarn for approximately 29 minutes, during which I flagged down an employee and had her shove yarn at him instead. Finally he also decided on the Smooshy, and we paid for our purchases and then got kindly shooed out the door.

The House Party Yarn Trip

The yarn trip to Nancy O Boutique that I referred to in the last post. Quirk got three skeins of a colorful self-striping yarn, Tili bought 1500 yards of lavender laceweight (for under $11!), Kate bought yarn for socks, and Kay may or may not have bought a skein of lovely eggplant-purple Malabrigo. (I don't remember whether she did or not because I was concentrating too hard on keeping myself from scooping it up if she didn't buy it.)

I was good. I overcame my acquisitory tendencies, and managed to walk out with nothing new except a complimentary tape measure with the store name and website printed on it.

In conclusion

Of the yarn I've acquired in the past month, I'm itching to work with the gray Skaska lace and the navy Cascade Alpaca Lace the most. The Panda Silk has already been put to good use, and I'm fairly sure I can find something to do with the second skein. And of course the Dream In Color Smooshy is already slated for socks. The Karabella Empire Silk will be a bit of a challenge to find a project for - I bought it because it was too good a deal to pass up. But the laceweight, ah, the laceweight found its way into my hands because I knew I would love it, and I knew I would find a purpose for it.

I've been spending some time looking at lace shawls. I don't actually have any completed lace shawls for myself, only gifts and failed attempts. This might seem odd because shawls were the first non-rectangular projects that I knit, and when I joined Rav I immediately filled my faves and my queue with beautiful lace shawls. But I've realized I'm rather... particular about what I like in a shawl for myself, and so I've spent a morning and then some, "deep-searching" (as opposed to browsing) for the perfect shawl.

I'll make my decision tomorrow. Maybe.

1 comment:

  1. It's not quite that I was vacillating over the yarn; I loved the Smooshy the moment I saw it. The problem was, you did too, and I wasn't about to claim the yarn you had already claimed. So I dithered through the yarnpile until the nice lady dug up another Smooshy, and I am glad I did because now we will match!