A little catching up…

Trying to understand draft
Trying to understand "draft"

I don’t have any finished objects “on film” right now, but I can show a couple of things. In early November I helped represent the Charlotte Knitting Guild at the “Charity Convergence” event organized by The Yarn Shop in Pineville, North Carolina. Myr and I got to the event a little ahead of when I was scheduled to start my ‘shift’ on the Guild table so that I could take the introductory spinning class sponsored by the shop.

We got there toward the end of the lesson, but the instructor was kind enough to take some time with me. I learned a couple of things… 1) the important skill seems to be drafting, not spinning the spindle, which is easy to do… and 2) it is difficult to look intelligent when your jaw is hanging open. Now I just need to practice my wool carding and get the spindle going. Just the thing to fill the empty hours that burden my life.

I did walk away with a fragment of actual yarn… or wool twine, if you want to be more accurate.

I had a good time at the Convergence. I knitted a good portion of the “giant” socks I was working on (yes, the pair is done… photos soon) hung out with a couple of the nice folks from the Guild, and had a rather good lunch. I’m not sure I helped the Guild or the Convergence much, but if it is true that “showing up” is important, then I can say I definitely did that!

Myr brought her bobbin lace and had a steady stream of people stopping to watch her make lace. One of my favorite moments was when a woman watched for a while, then went and grabbed a friend and dragged her over to Myr’s table. She waved one hand at Myr and said commandingly “do some!”

When we finally left the event we stopped at The Yarn Shop and I picked up some most excellent wool to make into a drop-stitch pattern scarf for a friend from work. The scarf is done, but I’ve not yet woven in the ends …and it desperately needs washing and blocking before going in front of a camera!

The Grand Yarn Tour… July 5, 2008

My lovely bride and I went on a shopping trip we could ill afford yesterday. We dubbed this The Grand Yarn Tour. I’d heard that Charlotte Yarn was having a customer appreciation day on Saturday and Sunday, the 5th and 6th, so we decided to drive up there, even though gas prices being what they are, I think carefully about every trip.

We started out by having a bit of breakfast with some friends from our neighborhood, then we drove cross country to Pineville and The Yarn Shop by Rainy Day Creations. This is the shop I think of as my “home base” LYS, not only because it is our closest shop but because the gracious staff has always been encouraging to a guy knitter. The shop was packed with people. I took a quick look at the yarn, but I was being tough with myself, having committed to buy no yarn on this window-shopping day. I headed back to the needle nook in the back, determined to find some short dpn to replace the 8″ #1 needles I’m using on the Tangerine Sock. I found some nice Addi Turbo 4″ dpn, and as I was turning to leave, Myr pointed out an Ashford drop spindle:

Ashford Drop Spindle

She is such an enabler. After pointing it out, she said that I should feel free to use her spindle for learning to spin, and I was forced to point out that I much prefer to own my own stuff, so that was added to the pile of stuff on the counter. The lady who was helping us ring up the order turned out to be the spinning teacher, and gave me some hints on washing the fleece I bought at the Southeast Animal Fiber show last fall. If I can get it together, I’ll be washing my first half pound or so of fleece today. I have to scrub out the shower first, so who knows if I’ll be able to leap that hurdle!

Next we drove to Michael’s so that Myr could price “canvas stretchers” for some lacework she’s doing. She also raided World Market to check prices on three-fold screens for the living room. I stayed in the car and transfered the Tangerine Sock to the new 4″ needles.

Finally we were on the road to Charlotte Yarn… whoops, no, the next stop was actually Hancock Fabrics so that Myr could look for Gutermann silk thread in a particular shade of purple. No joy. Apparently no one in the area sells a full line of Gutermann silk.

At long last we left the South Blvd. area and cut across south Charlotte on Woodlawn and then north to CY, where the Customer Appreciation Day was in full swing. We toured the swap area, dismayed to realize that we’d brought not a single dollar with us, and went into the shop, where Myr got Remi to find the right colorway of Noro Kureyon to match the sample mittens hanging on the display (I’m planning to make the mittens using the Aethelwyne pattern from Robin Melanson’s book Knitting New Mittens & Gloves). This is my first Noro, and I’m very interested to see what the ruckus is about. I’m wondering if I can fully appreciate the colors; I went through most of my life thinking that I was seeing “lame” rainbows and only realized in my late 30s that my color blindness was robbing me of half the colors that Myr could see. So I know I’m probably missing the real thrill of this yarn. Myr was actually gushing about it. She doesn’t get that excited about most yarn!

I went back outside and showed Jane how the Tangerine Sock was coming along. I’d gone from 56 stitches to 64 stitches on her suggestion after showing her the sock at Guild, and she was very supportive this time as to how I was doing on the pattern I’d settled on (a “mini cable” I found in Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch), but was concerned that the sock was still too small. I took her advice last night after we got home and transfered the bit of sock to a circular needle and had Myr try it on… yup, she could barely get it over her heel with great effort, so the poor thing is going to have to be ripped …again. I’m obviously going to have to swatch with the new needles. Sigh.

I soothed my distress by having a nice burger supplied by CY. Amazing how food can help with disappointing news.

I also went back and chatted with a lady sitting in the swap tent area who was trying to get rid of some wool yarn. I convinced her to let me send her the money for the yarn via Paypal, and she seemed so relieved to be rid of those six skeins that she loaded my knitting bag with a bunch more yarn she seemed to be pulling out of her purse! I was really surprised, but the yarn was all really nice stuff and I just kept saying “yes, I’ll take it” and “thank you so much” until she stopped. I’ll try to get a snapshot of the yarn later today. Whoever you were, Mystery Lady, thanks again! You have my card, please send me a PM on Rav.

We got back on the road and headed west, back along Woodlawn and Billy Graham to 85, and out to Gaston County to visit the new yarn shop called close knit Knittery and Press in Gastonia. We rarely get out that far west, so Myr had to make a quick stop at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store on the way. As an aside, Mary Jo’s location has always somewhat alarmed me… the mall it is part of strikes me as one of the most disreputable I’ve ever seen. This visit, I noted that most of the mall has been gutted. You’d think a bomb… or many bombs, had gone off. Harris Teeter and Mary Jo’s are still running, everything else is closed. Good news is that my new craft has apparently given me a small level of immunity to Mary Jo’s. I went all the way to the back of the store and returned to the car with no hint of a panic attack such as I experienced the first time I visited. I now know that the zombie-like women staggering around in the aisles are no danger to me, they are merely victims of extreme shopping trance.

On to close knit! Once we found the lovely shop on South Oakland St., we spent a very relaxed half hour getting a tour of the new store from Sheri, the proprietor. This converted house is light, airy, and the rooms are large. Sheri has a classroom with a massive work table, and even though the store just opened, a good variety of yarn. We saw yarns and brands that we’re fairly sure are not available at other yarn shops in the Charlotte area. By now, however, I’d spent about $60 more than I intended to spend, and we left without having enriched the shop. I hope that the store does well. Gastonia isn’t the wealthiest town in North Carolina, but in addition to being a really nice store, I suspect that it is the only place you can get quality yarn in a large part of that county.

At long last we wended our way toward home. I am not a born shopper, and I was worn out. I completely forgot to stop at Wal-Mart to price a replacement for my coffee thermos, which came out of the commute on Thursday in many bits of shattered glass. Thankfully, dinner was an easy one of leftover ribs, drumsticks, and potato salad with fresh corn. I was so zonked that I was asleep by 9:30.