Tag Archives: yarn shopping

Yarn crawl

4

I have had a rough couple of days, which involved my computer crashing and my hard drive needing to be erased, and well, the only way I know to solve that kind of stress is knitting. So let’s talk yarn, shall we?

As you know, I packed the Spruce Jaywalkers plus an insurance skein of Indigodragonfly as trip knitting. This was more than enough wool to see me through my trip, but I’ll admit to leaving a little extra room in the top of my bag for one or two skeins of souvenir wool – something I wouldn’t be able to get in Toronto.

This was the plan, and it lasted for a whole day. On Day 1, we drove to Baddeck. Baadeck Yarns was closed, so I didn’t buy wool. Instead, L and I went out for a nice dinner and walked around the town, and then holed up in our room to watch a movie (we were both exhausted). I had cast on the Spruce Jaywalkers on the plane, but because I drove from the airport, there wasn’t much done. I knit, we watched silly TV – nothing crazy.

The next day, we left Baddeck and headed north to the Cape Breton Highlands National Post. L drove, so I knit on my socks. Then we passed a sign that said something like “viewpoint: 500m.” We turned a corner, and sure enough, there was a great view (this happens pretty much nonstop on the Cabot Trail, just so you know). We saw a little parking area to the right and decided to pull off and take a picture. We got out of the car, and I glanced up at the sign in the parking lot and, well, I saw this:

I swear I didn’t notice the sheep sign when we pulled in.

I decided to just pop in and see what they had. You know, be polite. After all, we were in their parking lot, intending to stand on their picnic table to take a picture; it seemed rude not to at least make a casual perusal of their wares. That’s when I saw the yarn. Lots and lots of yarn. 2-ply, worsted-weight, milled in PEI at MacAusland’s Woollen Mills from Maritime sheep, yarn, for $4.50 a skein. Casually (by which I mean, after picking up and putting down a half-dozen skeins and exclaiming about the colours) I asked about the yardage. At $4.50, I figured it had to be paltry. Nope: 200 yds per. At $4.50. I bought a sweater’s worth.

Originally, I was going to get a dark blue, but then L pointed out that I always wear blue, and I looked down at my outfit ready to contradict him and realized I was, indeed, wearing all blue. I think green is a nice spice up.

We got back on the road, and, as you know, had a lovely time camping. That yarn, though – well, I thought about that yarn a lot. I went through my mental catalogue of sweater patterns I’ve been wanting to make, and I narrowed it down to two. During the more painful hikes (and I was in pain), I’m a little embarrassed to say that thinking about that yarn and what I was going to knit with it distracted me enough to get me through. Should I knit the Shapely Boyfriend, for which I had enough wool in the car, or should I stop in on the way back and pick up the skeins necessary to knit Kate Davies’ Bláithín?

Look at me, knitting my Spruce Jaywalkers, not even thinking about the yarn in the car. So dedicated.

 

The morning we left the park, we stopped in a Tim Horton’s for coffee and I made L look at the two sweaters and tell me what he thought. His solution: buy the extra skeins since it’s cheap and decide later. The man is a genius.

I am pretty much sold on Bláithín now, I must say.

Despite this windfall of lovely (and affordable!) yarn, I still wanted to stop in at Baadeck Yarns. I was so beside myself that I forgot to take a picture, but trust me, it’s a woolly heaven. Pat carries everything you could ever want, but because I was on a mission to find yarns I couldn’t get in Toronto, I went for the Handmaiden custom colourways. The Handmaiden is the daughter of the Fleece Artist (who is based in Cape Breton) and let me just say, an eye for colour runs in the family. I splurged. I bought three skeins of Casbah (a merino, cashmere, nylon blend in a fingering weight). I figured that for all in all (considering my super deal on the PEI wool), I was doing okay.

Two skeins of Lupin, which is enough to make almost any shawl I want, plus a skein in Bras d’Or Lakes, which will become socks, probably for my mum.

By the time I got to Gaspereau Valley Fibres, though, I was starting to feel a little guilty about the money I’d spent. I mean, I work in a yarn store, so maybe all of this was a little excessive? I went in and was immediately overwhelmed. They had so much Fleece Artist. And so much new stuff in general. Honestly, I couldn’t choose and after making a tour and touching a lot of wool, I left empty-handed. The next day, though, I was feeling a little incomplete (and also maybe a little ridiculous). There had been a basket of Fleece Artist Merino 2/6, a 100% superwash merino sock yarn, in this beautiful mottled brown and copper colourway, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was convinced it was going to be gone by the time we got back, but I decided we should go anyway, just in case.

Gaspereau Valley Fibre’s designated greeter.

It was there. Three skeins, and it was even lovelier than I had remembered. I asked Manda, the manager, what colourway she thought it was and, based on the colourcard, we estimated Earth. Well, that sold me. I bought two skeins, which are slightly different, but if alternated should be fairly seamless. I’m thinking about a shawl.

Honestly, how could I pass this up?

All in all, it’s quite a hall, and my stash has officially reached a critical point (it is overflowing its containment area). Honestly, though, I don’t care. I mean, look at this! And all wool that was a now-or-never purchase, and that I have tentative plans for. So no worries.

Samya looks skeptical, but I think that’s because I stole her bench.

Yarn accident

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Since I started knitting a little over a year and a half ago (oh sure, I learned when I was 8, but I’m not counting that) I have been accumulating a stash. This has absolutely not been by design. When I was first learning and heard/read stories about knitters with entire closets or even rooms dedicated to yarn, I was astounded. Not because I think it’s a waste of space (no one with as many books as I have could cast aspersions on anyone else’s use of space), but simply because I couldn’t imagine buying that much yarn without having a plan to use it.

Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Blackberry

That, of course, was where I was wrong. At least in my case, I almost always have some sort of plan in the back of my head when I buy yarn. Sometimes it’s something really specific, sometimes it’s a little looser, but usually I have an idea in there lurking and then I see the yarn and the two come together and, bam, purchase. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I’m just enchanted by the colour, but so far, that’s more the exception than the rule.

Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Nova Scotia

Still, I’ve managed to accumulate a little stash. It isn’t huge, but it’s there, and I could happily knit from it for months (I am a slowish knitter, which helps). It was all going well too, until a couple of weeks ago when I had what might be called a yarn accident. I was at work, just browsing the Internet during some downtime, when I stumbled across Colorsong Yarn (warning: very tempting site), purveyors of Fleece Artist and Hand Maiden yarns. I should have known I was sunk. I am a sucker for both gorgeous colours and things tied to Nova Scotia (my home province), and these dyers are a double whammy.

Fleece Artist BFL socks in Blomidon

I thought, at first, that I was just going to look. And I did. I looked and looked and looked. But I didn’t buy anything. Instead, I tucked a few colourways into my memory and left the site before anything dangerous happened. When I was still thinking about it the next day, I knew I was in trouble. I thought that, maybe like a food craving, just having another look would satisfy me, but no. Instead, that little look resulted in me buying five skeins of Fleece Artist sock yarn (three BFL sock, two Merino fingering) – after all, with shipping costs, you have to make it worth it, right?

Fleece Artist BFL sock in Spruce

I almost never shop online. Sometimes I buy books online that I can’t find in my local independent bookshop, but generally, I avoid Internet shopping for two big reasons: 1) I like to support local businesses, and 2) I can’t really tell how much I’m getting. I know that sounds silly, but I’m serious. Five skeins of sock yarn on the Internet? Nothing. Five skeins of sock yarn when I’m in my LYS and all I have to put my purchase in is my purse because I’m on my bike and a bag won’t do? Too much – I’ll hem and haw and then whittle my choice down to one (or, maybe, two).

Fleece Artist BFL sock in Seafoam

The package arrived on Friday, and even though I’ve been feeling a little guilty about the purchase, the excitement I felt when I saw it made me feel like I’d done the right thing. I cannot wait to knit these into things (probably socks, who are we kidding) that will show off their gorgeous colours (but not until the sweater is done; I’m standing firm). Yarn accident, yes, but no regrets (yet).

The whole haul. Sigh.

A Cautionary Tale

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Yarn splurge

Last weekend I went into Lettuce Knit to exchange some wool (I had an extra, unwound skein of the wool I used for Almondine, so I thought I’d plan ahead and get something for the next pair of socks). I had just started the Happy-Go-Lucky socks, and thought I’d ask Natalie what she thought – I’m still new to colourwork and wanted to make sure I was doing things properly. For the record, this is how far along I was:

Happy-Go-Lucky

Just a bit of top.

At that point, I could get my foot through without any trouble. Nonetheless, Natalie took one look at them and said “be careful.” Her warning: She has highly-arched feet and there are some socks she just can’t get her foot into. I thought about that for a minute and then decided to just got for it. I was knitting above gauge, I thought, surely that will save me. Still, her warning haunted me all week, and when I Friday rolled around and I was halfway through the foot I thought I should check. The heel did seem small to me, and I was (secretly) a little worried. I couldn’t get my foot through. It was because the socks were still on the needles I reasoned, and plowed on.

Still, I was worried. I went to work that night and then spent all my downtime on Ravelry looking at projects I could start on the weekend in case these socks decided not to fit. I need to do this. I need to plan for the worst so that if it doesn’t happen, I can rejoice, and if it does I have something else planned already so no worries. I picked two patterns (this one and this one) and decided that I’d finish the Happy-Go-Lucky toe on Saturday morning and then go buy the necessary wool for the other patterns. No big deal.

Of course, then the sock fit. Only barely, to be fair, but I got it on and it was comfortable and lovely. Perfect, right? Well, yes and no. You see, in all my planning for ways to not be horribly disappointed in case they didn’t fit, I got kind of excited about these other projects.

Happy-Go-Lucky

Half of a pair. Secretly, I'm pretty pleased about how this looks – especially the surprise stripes on the sole.

That meant I went to the yarn store anyway.

Yarn splurge

Three skeins each of Cascade 220 Heathers in colourway 4008 (for the scarf) and three of Malabrigo sock in colourway Ochre (for the sweater).

I have been swatching ever since. I will cast on the second sock this week, but I might also cast on a sweater. Maybe today. Maybe right now. You see what happens when you preplan for disaster?