Black Friday

November 25, 2011 § 4 Comments

Today a relatively local yarn store, Fibre Space, had a Black Friday sale that I decided to go to so I could buy a sweater’s worth of yarn for my aunt. She is definitely knitworthy and is a fan of crunchier, rustic-y wools (we both love to rant about how people are too obsessed with softness over durability when it comes to sweaters — we must be so fun at parties), so Brooklyn Tweed Loft is perfect for her. I bet she’ll love that it’s milled in New England, because she’s lived in the Boston area for most of her life. As it is a gift, I may actually feel a bit of pressure to — don’t laugh — actually finish a sweater. It helps that my aunt is barely five feet tall and the sweater she wants is short-sleeved.

Initially I was going to get up before the sun and get a 30% off discount, but then it dawned (ha!) on me that I wouldn’t be able to stand in line, purchase yarn, and drive back before our after-Thanksgiving brunch commenced around 8:30 this morning. So, I decided I’d go after brunch, and stick with a 10% off discount on both yarns and patterns.

My mom and sister, after brunch was over and our guests had departed, decided they didn’t have anything better to do and hopped in the car for some yarn shopping, never mind that my sister doesn’t know how to knit, and my mom rarely knits. I attempted to deter them; I mumbled about how it might be boring and that I thought my sister was going downtown today, etc. Nope, didn’t work, so off we drove to the store, with me wondering if it was going to be extremely awkward. Mostly they meandered around the store, admiring the colors and generally not embarrassing me. Only once did they act scandalized at yarn prices until I pointed out that most of the yarn they were looking at (The Neighborhood Fiber Co. yarn, I’ve given three skeins as gifts) is hand-dyed by a woman in Baltimore. Then they were all, “Oh, that’s not that much, think of all the hard work she does,” so at least they understand the value of handmade, and thankfully their cooing meant I didn’t have to mention I have some of my own (purchased a while back): whew!

While it was sort of nice sharing an aspect of one of my hobbies with my mom and my sister, I think I prefer to shop alone or with knitting friends. It’s a lot less fun shopping for yarn when I’m worrying that my shopping companions are growing bored, though perhaps it’s better for the stash to have frugal family hovering nearby. Unfortunately they weren’t around later when I, ahem, found a bookmarked thread on Ravelry entitled “Black Friday Yarn Sales” that led me to Eat.Sleep.Knit, their devious and successful marketing ploy for surprise discounts, and Madelinetosh chunky…the cat was around though, so she’ll reprise her role this year as family Santa and is helpfully gifting me the yarn for Christmas.

She has good taste; in addition to Madelinetosh, she also likes rare breed wool, and has a fondness for expensive blue cheese. Thanks, Mali!

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Yarn pilgrimage part three: Sunday at Rhinebeck

November 21, 2011 § 4 Comments

After a fantastic yet brief visit on Saturday, we planned out what we were going to do on Sunday. We all wanted to see the dog demonstrations, J was planning on doing some knitting, and M and C wanted to not spend too much money. I too was hoping not to go over budget, and more importantly to soak in even more Rhinebeck atmosphere and admire all the projects that people were wearing. I saw a veritable showcase of Ravelry’s greatest hits: Terras, February Lady sweaters, Earth and Sky shawls, Irish Coffee tunics, Central Park hoodies, and more. Oddly enough, I didn’t see any more Multnomahs after having seen so many at the train station. Maybe Multnomah is the shawl you wear around non-knitters, and then when you’re around knitters you bring out the big showy knits like the Pi Shawl.

Anyway, on Sunday we got up fairly early, went back to A Fork in the Road for breakfast (I had smoked salmon and eggs, so good!), and then right away I headed to my first goal of the day: to meet Clara Parkes at the Spirit Trail booth. She is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and probably one of the biggest influences on what I like to knit with, thanks to her two previous books, The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and even more so The Knitter’s Book of Wool. Thanks to Clara I can talk about sheep, their wool, and wool’s benefits for almost as long as I can talk about my cats!

Unfortunately she was out of copies of her latest book, The Knitter’s Book of Socks, so I’m hoping someone will get it for me for Christmas and then I can have her sign it in May at Maryland Sheep and Wool. After meeting Clara I answered the call of the Gulf Coast spinning fiber from Spirit Trail in a beautiful warm brown/gray. Gulf Coast sheep are another rare breed, and I never expected to find either Gulf Coast or Hog Island at Rhinebeck, let alone both.

Then, C and J and I went off to the Ravelry meetup where J and C chatted with Stephen West, the three of us chatted with Casey and Jess of Ravelry and admired their beautiful baby girl, who napped nestled in many adorable handknits. We also spied Ysolda Teague and Laura Chau. Before Sunday the only celebrity I’d met is James Earl Jones, so that Ravelry meetup increased my celebrity-spotting tally by quite a lot, though I suppose the guys I raid with on WoW would not consider a “knit-con” celebrity to be on the same level as James Earl Jones a.k.a. Darth Vader. « Read the rest of this entry »

Yarn pilgrimage part two: Saturday at Rhinebeck

November 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

After a whirlwind three hours in Manhattan it was time to head north. I really should’ve taken the train to Poughkeepsie right away, but M, C, and J weren’t quite sure where they were relative to Poughkeepsie and therefore I decided to mill around Grand Central for a bit. I visited the little museum about the history of Penn Terminal and Grand Central, and then sat down to relax and wait for the train. There weren’t any knitters in my car — I sat next to a guy reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and drinking two gigantic cans of beer — but I knew I was at the right station (well, besides the sign) when I got off the train and counted three Multnomahs in as many minutes.

I had to wait for M, C, and J to drive back down from the town where our hotel was, so I wandered over to the bar near the train station. I got a vodka martini with a twist of lemon because I was so addled from not having eaten all day (I was sick for the majority of the trip, unfortunately), and some really social guy decided to chat with me about the history of the area, Washington, DC, and lots of other things (his opener was that I was drinking a really classic drink…I guess so, I rarely drink in bars, preferring to spend my money on yarn!). After a while it got somewhat awkward, but eventually I managed to extract myself from the conversation, and waited under the eaves of the bar for the impressive rainstorm to end, which of course slowed traffic to a crawl and managed to turn the already soft ground into soup at the fairground parking lot.

Once my friends arrived, we drove to the restaurant run by someone from the Food Channel (or something like that) and enjoyed a really great meal. I also got to meet M’s other friends, who were all really nice. The food was delicious, of course, and seeing everyone and finally getting a chance to catch up was wonderful. The green beans we think had Sriracha on them, and for dinner I had some Thai curry with scallops.

The next morning I spent passed out in bed while my friends went to the fair — being sick while traveling is the worst. C was super-awesome and came back and picked me up that afternoon once I felt somewhat less blergh, and that’s when I got to FINALLY see the glories of Rhinebeck for myself. « Read the rest of this entry »

Yarn pilgrimage part one: Habu, Kinokuniya, and Purl Soho

November 2, 2011 § 4 Comments

Last month was one of the busiest months ever, but also one of the funnest, as it was the first time I’ve ever gone on an overnight trip for the express purpose of indulging in a hobby (or hobbies, really), knitting, spinning, crocheting, and sewing (I exclude weaving if only because I wasn’t planning on buying any yarn for weaving, and didn’t. Also, yay! for sticking to the budget there, haha…). The main purpose of this epic yarn pilgrimage was to go to New York Sheep and Wool, otherwise known as Rhinebeck, to hang out with my friends M, C, and J, whom I met back when I lived in Michigan. Ok, and to go shopping and to experience what I think might be the largest wool-based festival in existence — although it is possible that Maryland Sheep and Wool, in West Friendship, might be larger or similarly sized. I’ll find out in May!

But before I even got to travel up the Hudson, I had to change trains in New York City, which meant that I had to get from Penn Terminal, one of the grossest buildings I’ve ever seen, to Grand Central Terminal, arguably one of the nicest train stations I’ve ever seen. As I didn’t have to go to Grand Central right away, or so I thought, I decided to make a pit stop at Habu Yarns, in the garment district. That meant wheeling my little suitcase through what was basically not a tourist area, meaning lots of people stared at me, probably assuming that I was lost. Fortunately I had my “focused knitter” face on (which I suspect is oddly similar to my “death glare” face, according to my boyfriend) so no one bothered me, or at least not until I reached the building where Habu is located and attempted to take the elevator to the eighth floor. I pressed the button to go up, and nothing happened. So I pressed it again. No light, no elevator graunching noises, nothing. I was about to press it again before looking for a staircase — carrying my luggage up eight flights of stairs did not seem appealing, but for Habu I was considering it — when some actors and actresses showed up (I know this because they departed on a floor with some sort of folk theatre there and were carrying headshots and so forth) and one of the actresses was like, “You have to PRESS THE BUTTON to make the elevator show up.” And of course when she pressed the button, the elevator light totally lit up and shortly thereafter the elevator showed up, making me look like an idiot. (I was very tempted to snap, “We do have elevators outside of Manhattan, you know!” But I decided to let it slide, and anyway the one at work does this to me a lot too, so maybe I just make elevators work weird.)

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