Tag Archives: yarn shopping

California stash expansion

4

I always seem to buy yarn while on holiday. In much the same way as what I knit on vacation will forever remind me of that holiday when I wear/use it later, so too does yarn bought while away stay tied to that place. For that reason, I decided that on this trip I wasn’t going to buy anything I could get on the ground in Toronto. I also wanted to try and buy with projects in mind (even if they’re as general as this would be good for a shawl), which forced me to pay as much attention to yardage as to colour, and (hopefully) means I’ve come out of this trip with yarn I can make good use of.

caliLYS8

Our first stop was A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland. I don’t remember when I first heard about Verb, but it has popped up on blogs with enough frequency over the last several years to make it the one shop I wanted to make sure we went to. L, always happy to explore off-the-beaten-track placed, was happy to make a detour to Oakland, a city people actively tried to dissuade us from visiting. We visited Berkley in the morning and then walked to Verb.

caliLYS7

One of the things I knew I wanted to get was yarn to knit L a new pair of gloves. His old ones have had a good life, but there’s no way they can handle another winter, and after knitting Grace I thought Quince & Co. would be a good choice for new ones (though in the slightly heavier Chickadee). Verb had a great selection of colours, and after L chose what he wanted he left (there was a great café next to the shop) and I stayed to poke around some more.

caliLYS9

I could have spend quite a long time in Verb, but I was overwhelmed by the choices and conscious that L was waiting (he actually came in after reading for a while because he thought he might have to do some damage control! Haha).

I really liked the way the shop was laid out, with yarn in the front third and fabric in the back. There were a ton of samples, and I really liked the display rack, which both helped to divide up the shop and let you get a sense of how the various yarns knit up. There were also lots of Judys around, dressed in a combination of knit and sewn garments, which definitely inspired me to think more about the shop’s Seam Allowance ideal of making 25% of your wardrobe.

caliLYS3

Quince & Co. Chickadee in Winesap and Slate, and some lovely fabric! (I sewed my dress before I took these photos, so that double gauze is just the leftovers.)

In addition to the wool for L’s gloves, I picked up the Endless Summer Tunic pattern and some fabric: the double-gauze I used to make my Endless Summer Dress, a grey-blue cotton and hemp, and some 6.5 oz denim (destined to become this skirt, I think).

The other LYS we visited was ImagiKnit. I don’t like to push too much yarn shopping on L since it’s his vacation too, but ImagiKnit was pretty close to where we were staying, so on our last morning in San Francisco we decided to walk over after breakfast (this involved climbing/descending several huge hills, but it was totally worth it).

caliLYS6

What a great shop! ImagiKnit is huge — its two big rooms are filled, floor to ceiling, with yarn. The first room is all animal fibres and the second is all plant and man-made fibres, and both rooms are organized like a clock, with the thickest yarn at 12 o’clock (the front windows) and then getting thinner as you walk clockwise. Genius! I walked around and around, trying to take in everything, but it was a little shelf at the back that really caught my eye, since it housed all the locally dyed yarns.

caliLYS5

There were also a few baskets of yarn on the counter that drew me in. The owner said she had recently been to the Malabrigo warehouse/factory in Uruguay and picked up some experimental yarn. It looked just like barber-pole handspun, and was so gorgeous (and so unavailable anywhere else) that I couldn’t resist.

caliLYS2

Top: Aurora Yarns Acquerello Middle: Quince & Co. Chickadee in Slate and Winesap Bottom: Malabrigo Dos OOAK, and Tactile Fiber Arts Bolinas Sock in Spruce.

My total haul wasn’t too bad, really: three skeins of Quince & Co. Chickadee (for L’s gloves); two skeins of Tactile Fiber Arts Bolinas Sock, a fingering-weight BFL dyed in the Bay Area, in Spruce (for a shawl); a skein of Aurora Yarns Aquerello, hand-painted in Moss Beach (definitely for socks); and two skeins of one-of-a-kind Malabrigo Dos (who knows what this for — I’ll figure something out). All in all, some pretty excellent souvenirs I think!

Advertisements

Going Coastal

10

L and I had a great time in Nova Scotia last week. Mostly we spent our time hanging out with family and friends and eating really good food. It was a short trip, so there wasn’t too much sightseeing (unless you count various restaurant interiors and living rooms), but here’s a taste of our trip.

The famous lighthouse in Peggy's Cove. It was a bright and sunny day in Halifax, but when we got to Peggy's Cove it was quite chilly. The upside, of course, was there was almost no one else there.

The famous lighthouse in Peggy’s Cove. It was a bright and sunny day in Halifax, but when we got to Peggy’s Cove it was quite chilly. The upside, of course, was there was almost no one else there.

Besides the lighthouse, Peggy's Cove remains an active fishing village (lobster being the main catch, I think).

Besides the lighthouse, Peggy’s Cove remains an active fishing village (lobster being the main catch, I think).

This is the classic view as you drive into the Annapolis Valley. The tide is in and that long dark peninsula is Blomidon, a provincial park and legendary home to the Mi'kmaq god Glooscap.

This is the classic view as you drive into the Annapolis Valley. The tide is in and that long dark peninsula-looking thing is Blomidon, a provincial park and legendary home to the Mi’kmaq god Glooscap.

The beach at the base of Blomidon. The tide is somewhere between a third of the way and halfway out. That speck in the middle is L.

The beach at the base of Blomidon. The tide is somewhere between a third of the way and halfway out. That speck in the middle is L.

We walked along the beach for a little while and, despite the sun, it was freezing. The point up ahead is the very tip of the mountain (which looks like a peninsula from farther away).

We walked along the beach for a little while and, despite the sun, it was freezing. The point up ahead is the very tip of the mountain (which looks like a peninsula from farther away).

Crocuses! My parents have amazing gardens, but at this time of year all the glory goes to the crocuses, which offer a welcome riot of colour after the winter.

Crocuses! My parents have amazing gardens, but at this time of year all the glory goes to the crocuses, which offer a welcome riot of colour after the winter.

I mentioned before that one of the things I was hoping to do was find some yarn. Specifically, a match to this skein. I am thrilled (and, honestly, pretty surprised) to report success! The woman who dyed this yarn lives quite close to my parents, and she invited my mum and I over to see if she could find a match. She raises sheep and has a Suri Alpaca, spins and dyes yarn. Marilyn is amazing. I didn’t take any pictures, since we were in her house, but the big basket of handspun sitting in her living room was incredible. Anyway, it turns out that the yarn I was trying to match is a wool/mohair blend dyed by her but spun at the MacAusland woolen mill in PEI. The mill doesn’t use any harsh chemicals, so there is still some VM in the finished wool, but that doesn’t bother me. Plus, Marilyn explained that the chemicals actually weaken the yarn, so if that bit of VM means my garments will last longer, I’m doubly fine with it.

I think the grey is soft enough that I'm not worried about the bumblebee effect.

I think the grey is soft enough that I’m not worried about the bumblebee effect.

She had one skein left of the colourway I wanted, so I snapped it right up. She also had a few other colours – a really beautiful green, a variegated green/gold/grey, and some undyed skeins. I was really taken with the green, but I’m trying really hard not to buy single skeins unless there’s good yardage (or a plan), so I resisted and went with the two undyed skeins instead, which gives me just under 400 yds of each colour. I really like the grey/yellow combination, and am thinking this will either become the small version of Westloop (the leading contender) or the Great Divide shawl.

The full haul, l-r, top to bottom:  Two skeins undyed yarn from Marilyn; Swan's Island  Organic Fingering weight in Vintage Lilac, two skeinds Swan's Island Washable DK in Midnight (for a new hat for L), yellow/gold skein from Marilyn; Four skeins Fleece Artist Wool Tweed

The full haul, l-r, top to bottom:
Two skeins undyed yarn from Marilyn; Swan’s Island Organic Fingering weight in Vintage Lilac, two skeins Swan’s Island Washable DK in Midnight (for a new hat for L), yellow/gold skein from Marilyn; Four skeins Fleece Artist Wool Tweed

Of course, that isn’t all I picked up. I was in a bit of a mood I guess, and before I knew it there were 10 skeins of yarn to fit into my bag on the way home. The bottom row (above) is all from Gaspereau Valley Fibres, which had a ton of new stock (at least compared to my last visit) and is definitely my LYS-away-from-home (or at home, depending on how you define things). The Swan’s Island is from Loop, a yarn shop in Halifax that I’d never been to but had a chance to check out this time. The Lilac is for me and the Midnight is for a new hat for L. I have at least tentative plans for everything I bought, and have already cast on some of the Fleece Artist — spring knitting, here I come!

Flip-flop

5

The weather here has been all over the place. I don’t know what I was expecting (not true, I was expecting summer), but this is not it. One day is hot the next day is so cold I feel justified in still having my wool cardigans in my closet. All of which is to say, as the weather shifts, so does what I want to be knitting.

I was actually going to buy purple, but I even changed my mind about that when I saw the yellow.

I was actually going to buy purple, but I even changed my mind about that when I saw the yellow.

Three days ago I was just about ready to put Grace down and wait till the end of the summer to finish. I even went so far as to buy some linen (Louet Euroflax in Goldenrod) to knit myself the Kit Camisole. Then the weather turned and I’m back to Grace and the linen remains unwound.

I was going to take a picture of Grace, but even though it’s bigger than it was, until I actually make some proper headway all the photos will look the same. So instead I present my latest distraction: this lovely skein of 60% seacell/40% silk laceweight that sort of fell into my lap the other day at the shop (truly: it was a gift).

dyeguy-frontdoor

 

What I want to do with it (knit double into a crescent garter stitch shawl) seems so boring that I’m convinced there’s a pattern out there just waiting for me to find it. I don’t know what’s going on. I have numerous lovely projects on the needles and all I can think about is casting on more. (Even though I rather suspect they’d just languish on the needles too.)

The one bright note is that I finished the first Willowherb sock and it is both lovely and fits well. So that’s something. 

From the Frolic

7

I’ve been on a bit of an inadvertent stash stockpile in the last few months and I think I’ve discovered what’s up (besides and obvious love of yarn): this is stress stashing. I’ve never really been someone who bought into the idea of retail therapy (hah), but yarn and clothes are very different beasts. There have been big changes at the Post in the last few months and work has been crazy and the result has been a lot of yarn coming into this little apartment (and yes, L has noticed).

I, however, am not worried, because I have a plan. Or, many plans. I bought Rachel Coopey’s Coop Knits Socks last week and, although it has not yet arrived (yes, I bought the hardcopy; it comes with a code for a digital download, so it’s win-win), I am planning. At the Frolic last weekend I picked up:

Orange!

Orange!

Indigodragonfly Merino Sock in Safety Pin or Safety Pint: Discuss (explanation behind that colourway name here). This is destined to become Willowherb. (After the Frolic, in a fit of why-didn’t-I-buy-it remorse, I swept over to the Indigodragonfly site and picked up three more skeins of this yarn in various colourways. I am well stocked now.)

toshsock-frolic

I also snagged a skein of Tosh Sock in Maple Leaf (it takes a Texan to see maple leafs as anything but red, I think, but this is exactly the colour of the maple leaves that are bursting forth right now, and I love it.) I’m going to turn it into Calamint. I’m not sure what the other skein, in Spectrum, will be – maybe another pair of these?

toshDK-cosmos

A skein of Tosh DK, in Cosmos, also snuck home with me, and while I’m not totally sure, I suspect it’ll be a pair of Stepping-Stones for me. Every winter I tell myself to knit some thick socks and every winter I don’t; this winter I’ll have no excuse.

So, that’s the yarn. I also picked up a Sweater Stone for de-pilling and a pair of sock blockers. These are just slightly smaller than my feet, which I think is good since it leaves the sock with a little stretch to ensure a snug fit. I got a pair (set?) of the metal ones and so far I like them just fine – they remind me of my grandparents’ bathroom, because every time we visited my grandmother always had several pairs of my grandpa’s socks hanging to dry over the radiator on giant sock blockers. (This is also why I call all thick and wooly socks “Grandpa Socks.”)

I will have an update on my Happy Street shawl soon (stripes are worthy of in-progress photos since they make for such delightfully visual progress). I am knitting away and have been monogamous since casting on. It’s driving me crazy, so if I can get the third repeat finished tomorrow, I’m taking the sock out with me for a few rounds at least.

What a difference a year makes

4

One year ago today I registered Pans & Needles and started to blog about my knitting. I was really nervous about it too, because I felt like kind of a poseur. At the time, I wasn’t really knitting anything interesting or impressive, but I was reading blog filled with gorgeous projects and luscious yarn and even though I wasn’t there yet with my knitting, I knew that I wanted to be. You know how something becomes real when you say it out loud? Well, that’s what blogging was for me: it was me, saying out loud, that I was a knitter. I’m not usually one for public declarations, but that one felt great.

In the last year I’ve pushed myself a lot – in part because I enjoy learning new things and, in part, because pair after pair of stockinette socks makes for boring blogging. I learned lace; I learned cables; I learned how to knit continental so I could better control my fair isle tension; I knit most of a sweater; I started working in a yarn shop (and teaching knitting!); I knit all my Christmas gifts; plus, I travelled a lot. Looking back, I can hardly believe that all of those things happened in the last year (it’s also quite frightening to realize how much my stash has grown in the last year).

It has been a wonderful year and to celebrate, I bought myself a present (ha!):

I don't usually take advantage of Ganymede in this way, but a photo of books is much more exciting with a cat in it.

I don’t usually take advantage of Ganymede in this way, but a photo of books is much more exciting with a cat in it.

I have been wanting The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes for a long time, and I’ve come close to buying it a few times, so I decided it was time. When I realized I would get free shipping if I bought it with another book, it was an easy decision to add Nancy Bush’s Folk Knitting in Estonia. I love knitting books that you can sit and read (both of these are like that, really) and all the history Nancy Bush includes is fascinating. Also, I really want to knit these, and clearly I’m not over fancy mittens even remotely.

That was really going to be it, but then I was in the shop yesterday (working, not shopping) and I saw that we got a new shipment of SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock and, well, this skein pretty much jumped right off the wall at me. I’ll pick a nice pattern from Clara’s book and cast on once I’m finished one of the pairs currently occupying my needles.

SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in Honey Fig. It's more purple than pink (despite this picture) and even though it isn't remotely like what I normally go for, I could not resist.

SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in Honey Fig. It’s more purple than pink (despite this picture) and even though it isn’t remotely like what I normally go for, I could not resist. I think it’s because there’s a snowstorm outside (it started yesterday) and I’m dreaming of summer.

Gifts Purchases aside, the best thing about blogging, though, is that it’s made me feel like part of the knitting community, both in Toronto and online. I have met so many amazing people and been encouraged and inspired to tackle projects I may never have attempted otherwise. Thank you all for reading and commenting and encouraging and inspiring – I can’t wait to see where the next year goes.

New York yarn shops

5

Well, that ellipsis lasted longer than I had intended. This week got away from me, and while I could tell you all about the moose gloves (fingers are super weird to knit), I promised to write about yarn shops in New York. We left the city on Friday morning, mere hours before the VKL marketplace opened, but that was probably for the best, because I got quite an odd look from the customs guy when I told him that I had purchased “shirts, books, and yarn,” so it’s definitely good that everything came under the allowed amount because I think they would have been very confused about how to charge duty on yarn.

Anyway, we really only made it two yarn shops, because I didn’t want to highjack the trip and, while L and I are generally very supportive and indulgent of each other, I try not to push it. Also, we did this part of the trip on his birthday.

First up was Lion Brand Studios. I’ve never actually knit with any Lion Brand anything before (I’m not sure it’s that big a deal in Canada, but I might be wrong about that), but I had heard about its amazing window displays and wanted to see the shop in person. Let me just say, even if you intend to buy nothing, it is still worth a visit. The front window was incredible (despite the scaffolding erected in front of it) and the shop itself is small and cozy and fun.

The reflections are annoying, but since taking a photo straight on was impossible, this was the best I could do.

The reflections are annoying, but since taking a photo straight on was impossible, this was the best I could do.

NYC12

Everything in the window was knitted, including the swans and trees, which L thought was pretty incredible. (He thought I should make sure to get a photo of the swan's feet on the blog, so take a good look.)

Everything in the window was knitted, including the swans and trees, which L thought was pretty incredible. (He thought I should make sure to get a photo of the swan’s feet on the blog, so take a good look.)

One of my favourite things in the shop was the “Testing Wall,” where you could get some yarn and swatch it before buying. This is so smart, and something I’d love to see more of. I didn’t take advantage of it while we were there (it being L’s birthday and all), but I definitely would on a future visit.

Such a good idea.

Such a good idea.

I also really enjoyed that the knitting-related decor didn’t end with the window display. I didn’t even notice this needle light shade when I first passed it, and while I was taking a picture another woman came to see what I was doing and laughed when she noticed it. Genius.

NYC14

What to do with your giant-needle collection.

Next up was Purl Soho, which was the real destination. I’ve been reading their blog since I first started knitting, and very much wanted to see the shop in person. It was getting dark (and cold) by the time we got there, so I didn’t get a shot of the window, but I did take this one from just inside the front door.

NYC15

It’s a bit deceptive how big this makes the shop look, but the back half is all sewing and fabric. Yarn wise, they had many beautiful things, but I knew what I wanted, and I wanted Brooklyn Tweed (which you cannot get in Canadian shops, at least as far as I know). I splurged a little (it’s New York!) and bought five skeins of Shelter: two in Plume, two in Hayloft, and one in Snowbound. We went and grabbed lemonade (why? I couldn’t say) and I started swatching.

Yum yum yum. The hayloft is really more mustard than green, but it's tricky to photograph.

Yum yum yum. The Hayloft is really more mustard than green, but it’s tricky to photograph.

Plume up close. I am in love with this colour.

Plume up close. I am in love with this colour.

I have definite plans for this purchase, but they remain secret for now. I will say, though, that Shelter is a dream to knit with. It’s rustic and lofty a very soft, which is everything I want to knit with right now – I just need to finish those moose gloves! Speaking of which, I should really go do that since I’m just four fingers and a thumb from finished. Have a lovely weekend!

Not bad for a Saturday morning

4

It turns out awesome things can happen when you get up and out of the house early-ish on a Saturday morning. L and I live really close to one of (in my opinion) Toronto’s best neighbourhood farmer’s markets. Truly, Wychwood Barns is a credit to the city, and it’s one of our favourite things about where we live. We don’t always make it on a Saturday morning, but we try – it’s where we buy our coffee beans (we get the Wychwood Barns blend, of course), it’s where we buy a lot of our hearty produce, and now, it’s where I can buy wool. That’s right. Locally grown and milled wool, just steps from my house.

For most of the year the Stoddart Farm booth is only at the market on the last Saturday of the month, but in the run up to Christmas, Silvia (farmer extraordinaire) tells me she will be there every week, and I am pretty friggin’ excited about that. I mean, look at what I got!

Just the thing to relieve those February blues (or greys, whatever).

That’s 408 yards of locally grown wool – 70% Romney wool and 30% mohair – in a 100g light fingering weight. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet (it is beautifully soft, so I’m thinking shawl), but I know that I’m going to save it for February, when I need to see some green lusciousness. And really, would you look at that colour? It made my day.

Um, yes please.

Silvia raises the sheep and the mohair goats herself, and then hand paints the wool using environmentally friendly dyes. The wool itself is milled just a few hours from the city, in Elora, making the whole enterprise super-local. I didn’t have my camera with me, but her market table is a riot of colour, with yarns in numerous weights and batts and roving too. That she is the sweetest person just tops it all off. Honestly, I can’t wait to go back next week and pick up a skein of fiery orange/red laceweight I saw.

That I got this alongside Fair Trade coffee and an awesome breakfast cinnamon bun probably means that this weekend is too good to be true and I’m now bound for disaster, but oh well, I’m thinking this yarn was worth it.