Sunday, 28 October 2007

Wonderful, kind knitters...

I have only ever knitted one pair of socks in my life. Actually, I have knitted a total of three socks. On the first pair, I got second sock syndrome. The yarn was lovely and soft, but the colour was ... bleh. It looked lovely on the skein, all pastel pink and yellow - the yarn is a cashmere/merino mix, and the colourway was "Tequilla Sunrise". It should have been a joy to knit. The knitting was pretty easy, everything went as planned. But I got bored with the colour. I didn't like the way it striped. I knew I would never have bought socks in this colour. So I gave it up. I really enjoyed knitting on 4/5 DPNs, and wanted to have another go, so when I came across the Harvest Sock Swap, I thought this would be the perfect thing. I only have to knit one sock, so if I get tired of the whole business, I needn't despair as I'd be sending the rest of the supplies to my swap pal for her to knit the second sock. Easy right?

Hmmm, well, the whole business has been fraught with difficulties. I hadn't realised when I signed up, how concerned I would be that my swap pal liked my choices for her. It took me ages to find the right yarn, which after I received it, I forgot what it was called or what the fibre was - but that's all sorted now. Then I dithered for ages over sock patterns. The one I had in mind is not fully written out. The designer assumes the knitter has a certain amount of knowledge of toe-up socks. I've only done top down socks to date. Although the pattern on the sock itself is pretty easy, and I could probably have slotted it into a generic top down pattern, I didn't feel that this would be suitable to send to someone else. Especially as she is a far more experience knitter than I, and could probably see any errors at 10 paces! So after a fair amount of searching, I finally came up with a (well known) pattern. I chose it because of its popularity. I figured if so many people had made it, the instructions must be well written, and it must be fairly easy.

I started knitting about two weeks ago. To cut to the chase, I have ripped back and restarted the same sock four times. FOUR TIMES. I am on my fifth attempt at these socks. On the fourth attempt, I actually managed to break my Lantern Moon DPNs. A cry for help on Ravelry, and in double quick time Robynn of Purlescence came to my rescue. How wonderful is she? Especially considering that I didn't buy the original needles from her. She sent me replacement needles before I could even blink!

On top of that burst of generosity, last week I received a couple of books about spinning in the post from Sarah, whom I met at Ally Pally.

I'm just sitting here with a big grin and shaking my head. I've often read about the kindness of knitters on other people's blogs, and whilst I thought it was all wonderful, I never thought any of those things would happen to me. Yet, twice in one week, I've received help and support from fellow knitters, whom I met online. Isn't it a wonderful world? And I'm getting back to those socks. I WILL conquer them - and the fancy needles...

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Damn, damn, damn

I seem to be having one senior moment after another these days...

I found some lovely harvest-like yarn for my sock pal - in a quality yarn that I think she'll like. I buy it. It arrives at my home. I unwrap it. It has no label, but no problem I've bought lots of yarn from this source before, and because it is a relatively young company, yarn labels may or may not always be available. All okay so far...

Problem is it's now two weeks later. I've got my nostepinne in hand to wind it, and suddenly I'm no longer certain what it is. This lady only sells high-end yarns, so it isn't any crap (no worries there). But is it pure cashmere? Or cashmere and merino? Or even lambswool, Angora and cashmere? I'm fairly certain it's not cashmere and silk because I've bought that from her in the past and she sells it in smaller skeins. Argghhh... I'm off to her website again to try to identify my yarn by a process of elimination.

Stupid, stupid, stupid... ~headdesk~

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Ally Pally

Ever since I started reading knitting blogs regularly around this time last year, I've been dying to go to the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally). Last year, I was green with envy at all the wonderful, unusual, and hard-to-find-in-the-UK yarn that people had purchased. I resolved that I was going to find out about the show for 2007, and I was NOT going to miss it. I put the dates in my diary as soon as they were announced at the beginning of the year.

Woo hoo! I went today. I took two days off (today and tomorrow, in case I feel a need to go back again). I got there pretty early, about 45 minutes after they opened. But it seems Ally Pally is THE knitting and stitching show of the year. Even 45 minutes into the four day event, people were already leaving laden down with huge, and I mean HUGE, stashes. I couldn't believe it. I bought my ticket and hurried to the Habu stand. There were loads of women there looking at the yarns and the sample knits. Habu is clearly very popular. There was no actual pushing and shoving. The shoppers were courteous and helpful; one lady even helped me to find a particular colour of silk/stainless steel yarn that I couldn't locate. The main difference at the Habu stand was that people were there to shop; there was no idle patting/stroking of yarn, and then wandering off to return later. It felt like you needed to buy now, or it may not be there when you came back. I bought several items: yarn to make a Kusa Kusa scarf, some bamboo, some silk, and some paper.

A real highlight of the show was meeting people from Ravelry. I knew that Yvonne and Sarah would be there as I had planned to meet them. I brought along my Ravelry bag, and so many people stopped to say hello, to talk about Ravelry and to say that they recognised me from being online. It was great. Sarah was generosity itself. She gave me my first spinning lesson on an elegant light-weight drop spindle, using some beautiful pale blue silk roving that she was working on. It was fascinating, and I can see myself getting a drop spindle so I can try this out. Imagine knitting with yarn that you've spun yourself?

I went to the UKHandKnitting "Relax and Knit" stand, where Tamsyn (also on Ravelry, but blogless I think) showed me how to knit the continental way. I can see that I'm really going to have to practice, it felt so alien holding the yarn in my left hand. Just as I was leaving I got talking to Gerard of I knit London and Mithranstar who were in the queue behind me for coffee. It was amazing how friendly people were.

Sarah also introduced me to Socktopus. I think that this is a fairly new online sock yarn shop. The owner, Alice was there. She was super-nice, and boy does she have some lovely yarn. I bought some Dream in Color "Smooshy" in Cloud Jungle. It looked even better when I got it home and could see it under good lighting. I am so glad to see that she is in the UK. I will definitely be buying more from her. Here is a pic of a bunch of Ravelers/sock yarn lovers at Socktopus's stand... Erm, why didn't I get a photo of me with the group? ~headpalm~

Ooh... I also got some wonderful needles that are made from the remnants of musical instruments in rosewood and ebony. Ooh, and some Lantern Moon DPNs.

Well, what with my Ally Pally SEX and some recent Posh Yarn purchases, I think I've got my haul for the year - no more yarn purchases for me. Let's see how long I can stick to THAT, huh? I've had a wonderful day off. Despite it being foggy on the way in to London, this was the view that greeted me when I left Alexandra Palace. How lovely is that?