Lambtown Festival in Dixon, CA

This weekend I got to go to Lambtown – a sheep and wool festival that’s held every year in Dixon, California. Dixon is a 2 hour drive from where I live, but it was totally worth it, because I got to see a ton of cool things and squish a lot of yarn and fiber.

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Counterclockwise, from upper left: An art yarn spindle by SpinGlitz, adorable yarn bundle by Wonderland Dyeworks, a cute yarn cone tree, and fiber braids by Wonderland Dyeworks.

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From left to right: Yak, camel, and silk fiber braids by Greenwood Fiber Works, rug design samples by Wooly Walkers (it’s like coloring with yarn!), and gigantic knitting needles (aka Weapons of Mass Construction) by SpinGlitz.

I also got to pet a bunch of really cute sheep and learn about different sheep breeds. The sheep were very fluffy and open to being petted and scratched.

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Some sheep types include; Rambouillet, Bluefaced Leicester, Jacob, Corriedale, Romney (may or may not be pictured above – I did not do a good job of keep track of which sheep was which…)

And there were sheepdogs!! They were doing a sheep herding demonstration. It was fun to watch, although I wasn’t exactly sure what the goal was – it sort of seemed like the dogs were just moving the sheep around for the sake of moving them around.

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And, of course, I bought some yarn. I got 2 skeins (595 yards each) of some super soft alpaca from Fanfare Farms in Vacaville, California.

Fanfare Farms Alpaca Lambtown 2017

I think I’ll use this yarn to make the Elibelinde sweater, which I saw in Issue 22 of Pom Pom Quarterly Magazine.

All in all, I had an awesome time at Lambtown, and I will definitely go back next year.

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September Squares

I’m still on track with my block-a-month afghan squares! I’m getting really excited to finish and have a beautiful, unique, colorful afghan.

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Both 12” squares this month were fairly simple and relaxing to crochet. The square on the left is the September Star square by Aurora Suominen. It has a little bit of texture on the central flower, and I like the outer border a lot. I used the Fresco y Seco, Teal Feather, and Whales Road colorways of Malabrigo Rios (which is the yarn my entire afghan is made of).

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The other 12” square is Marigold by Polly Plum. For this square, I used colorways Glazed Carrot, Sunset, and Archangel. The fall colors seem very appropriate for September.

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The 6” square this month is my favorite. It’s a crocodile-stitch-in-the-round flower motif called Croco-Dahlia by Joyce D. Lewis. Crocodile stitch is a little time consuming (as well as yarn consuming!), but I like how it looks, so it’s nice to be able to include it. I also really enjoy how the little lumps around the center turned out. This square is crocheted in colorways Fresco y Seco, Purple Mystery, and Lettuce.

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I’ve been thinking about how to assemble my afghan once I get closer to finishing all the squares. I can’t decide if I want it to be rectangle or something more complex… I have a few ideas. Only 3 more months to go!

 

My First Socks!

I made a pair of socks! I’ve been really wanting to get into sock knitting lately, mostly inspired by the colorful socks of Amy from The Stranded Podcast. I bought the book Socks from the Toe Up recently, and I chose the Dead Simple Lace Socks as my first attempt. It was also my first time using the magic loop – I normally just do dpns, but I sort of wanted my socks to be an on-the-go project, and projects on dpns are harder for me to travel with. And I actually really ended up enjoying the magic loop.

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Since it’s fall now (yay!), I’m excited for all the potential for knitwear in my wardrobe. California never really gets cold enough for a “real” fall outfit (think tall boots, coats, big scarves), but I was thinking that hand knit socks could be a good compromise.

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I also think the socks would be really cute with ankle boots! I’m excited to wear them. A lot of my knitting friends keep telling me that they prefer to wear their hand knit socks around the house instead of out, but I’d really like to use them as real socks. Maybe I’ll make a cozier pair with heavier yarn as around-the-house socks.

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I made these socks with Madelinetosh Twist Light in the Cosmic Wonderdust colorway. I used a 2 mm circular needle. I did a short row heel and toe, but the pattern could easily be adapted for other toes/heels. I wish I had done a little bit more ribbing on the top because I didn’t really think about how the ribbing gets a little shorter when it’s actually stretched around my leg, and I like the way a tall ribbing looks. Oh well, next time.

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I’m excited to get another pair of socks on my needles – I’m going to use one of the skeins I got on my Boston Yarn Crawl. The weather this week looks decidedly summer-like, but I have to go into San Francisco on Tuesday, so I’m hoping to get some clouds and cooler weather then.

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I cast on the Gabrielle tunic by Cocoknits as part of a casual knit-a-long with one of my knitting friends. I haven’t ever tried the Cocoknits method before. So far, it seems a little unnecessarily complicated, but I’m going to try to stick with it. What are you all casting on for the fall?

Brookline Top

I mentioned in one of my recent posts that I finished the Desert Star Top I cast on in mid-July, but I only had the chance to get it photographed today. I’ve actually already worn it several times because I like it so much!

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One of my best friends gifted me the yarn I used for this top for my birthday this year. It’s Blue Sky Fibers Worsted Cotton in the Sleet colorway. I used smaller needles than the pattern recommends – 3.25 mm for the edging and 3.5 mm for the rest instead of 3.75 mm and 4.5 mm. I very nearly ran out of yarn towards the end, but I just did one fewer row for the neck edging, and it looks fine. I used 5 skeins of the yarn.

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I was initially drawn to the top (which is a free pattern by Berroco) because of the unique construction. The back is one large rectangle, and the front is a much smaller rectangle with neck shaping.

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Since it’s sleeveless and because I used a cotton yarn, this piece works well for the insanely hot end of summer that we’ve been having in California. I think it will also be great for fall if I layer it over a long-sleeved shirt.

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In other news, I finished my first pair of socks ever today! I’m hoping to photograph them sometime this week so that I can submit them to my local yarn store’s Finish it for Fall drawing. I just finished the bust increases on my Vaara t-shirt, and I’m really happy with it so far. I also really need to get to work on my September Block-A-Month afghan squares… So much knitting in my future!

 

Boston Yarn Crawl: Newbury Yarns, Mind’s Eye Yarns, Gather Here

I’m at a conference in Providence, RI for the week. I was surprised to find that there are no yarn stores in Providence – it seems like the perfect place for one since it’s near the Rhode Island School of Design, and the downtown area has tons of other independent clothing/art/home stores. Fortunately, I had a free afternoon, so I took the train into Boston. I spent a few hours taking myself on a mini yarn crawl, and then I got dinner with a friend before heading back to Providence.

Boston is a special city for me because I lived there for four years while I was attending college. I was also living there when I first learned how to crochet, although I didn’t learn how to knit until I moved to California. I got a bunch of great yarn and a few other items  on my crawl – I had to stand on a chair to get a reasonable picture of them all in my hotel room, but I wanted to share what I got along with the shops I visited!

Boston Yarn Crawl Yarn

The very first yarn store I ever went to was Newbury Yarns, and, fittingly, it was the first stop on my crawl. It’s moved locations since I left Boston (from the Back Bay’s Newbury Street to Downtown Crossing), and I think it’s suffering a little from the move. The store used to be a little more bustling and friendly, although it’s possible I just caught it on a bad day.

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I was able to pick up some local sock yarns: the store’s own brand Newbury Yarns New England Sock in a reddish-brown color (1) and DIPS merino/cashmere/nylon fingering in a blue-purple variegated color (2). I had trouble finding much about these yarns from the internet or their labels – they weren’t even on Ravelry. They were also kind of expensive, but I wanted to support the store, so I got them anyways. And I like the colors. They’ll make nice socks (sock knitting is going to be my new thing – more on that in a later post).

Next, I took the red line from Downtown Crossing to Porter Square in Cambridge. I had never been to Mind’s Eye Yarns before, although it’s existed for many years and is right outside of the Porter Square T stop. And it was amazing! The owner is really nice and curates a great collection of yarn.

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I got the most amazing sock yarn by Araucanía Yarns: their handpainted Huasco Sock in the Guacamayo colorway (3). The owner said she had just gotten it in the day before! I almost bought a sweater quantity, but then I decided that I have too many unused sweater quantities, so I’ll just have some beautiful socks. Or maybe it’ll be details in a shawl or sweater. I’ve been looking for new project bags, and I found a perfect sock size one made by local crafter Stitched by Jessalu (4). It’s so bright and happy and has cute elephants. I also got a skein of Zen Yarn Garden’s Serenity 20 merino/cashmere/nylon sock yarn in the Petite Fleur colorway (5).

My last stop was Gather Here – a sewing/yarn/craft store in Inman Square in Cambridge. I had also been to this store before it moved to it’s new location. The new space is huge! There’s tons of space for classes. I especially loved that they had a display of many local yarns.

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I bought a skein from an indie dyed brand called Skeinny Dipping. I really like the name, and the yarn is beautiful. I got the Cannonball Sock yarn in the Space Pants colorway (more socks!!). But then I found this amazing yarn by Air de Lune, and I couldn’t stick to my single-skeins-only rule anymore… The 3 skeins are from the “Walden Pond Contemplation”. There’s Ricochet, Brindille, and Mousse (7). They’re all so beautiful that I couldn’t decide which one I wanted, and they all sort of go together, so I just got one of each. I’m thinking I’ll make a shawl or cardigan with them. I love them so much! I also picked up issues 18, 19, 20, and 22 of Pom Pom Quarterly magazine (8) – I’m trying to collect all of the issues. I hope all of the things I got fit into my luggage on the way back to the West Coast!

The one yarn store I missed that I really wanted to go to (not to mention all the ones that were further out in Boston suburbs) was Uncommon Yarn in Brookline. It was a little out of the way for the amount of time that I had, but I know that one of my friends who lives in Boston  has bought yarn for me as a gift there before, so I’ll make sure to check it out next time I’m nearby.

August Squares

I’m back on track with my block-a-month crochet-a-long! I’m leaving for a trip to the East Coast, so I really wanted to get these squares finished, blocked, and photographed in time – and I did! Only 4 more months to go…

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This month’s theme seemed to be flowery motifs and clusters/popcorns/bullions. I really like how they all turned out, but they were definitely a little fiddley (especially the 6” square).

The 12” square on the left in the above picture is the V’s and P’s square by Theresa Lynn, which is available as a free download on Ravelry. I’m using Malabrigo Rios yarn for my afghan, and this square features colorways Sunset, Teal Feather, and Archangel.

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The other 12” square for this month is Simple 10 Petal Afghan Square by Joyce D. Lewis (also available for free on Ravelry). I used colorways Lettuce, Purple Mystery, and Glazed Carrot.

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The 6” square is Carousel by Bonnie Pierce. So many bullions! But I love the effect. This one is in colorways Glazed Carrot, Teal Feather, and Archangel.

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This month there were 2 options for 6” squares. The one that I didn’t choose is Esther’s Courtyard by Joanne Jones. It has a few bullions, but I chose the Carousel square because it looked a little more unique. I might still make Esther’s Courtyard if I have leftover yarn at the end of the CAL.

I also finished my Desert Star Top, but I think I’ll have to wait until I’m back from my trip in a few weeks to get it photographed and up on the blog. I just cast on a few new projects for my trip (obviously). I found the Oblagon shawl on Ravelry, and I also cast on the Vaara t-shirt from issue 17 of Pom Pom Quarterly.

I’m hoping to hit up some yarn stores in my travels to Boston, Providence, and New York over the next couple weeks as well, so I’ll have a lot to write about when I get back!

Earth Basket

I’ve been wanted to try making a crochet basket for a while, and I started on one a few months ago, but I sort of abandoned the project. Working with cotton (especially bulkier cotton) hurts my hands after a while. I did really want to finish the project, though, so I finally picked it back up this past week and added the last few rows.

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I used the really cheap cotton yarn that you can pick up at craft stores like Michael’s – Lily Sugar ‘n Cream in the Sage Green and Terra Firma colorways. I held it double and used a 5.5 mm crochet hook, as recommended in this free pattern by Nicole Dasig. I added a few rounds to the bottom and to the sides to make it a little bigger than the pattern calls for. I really like the green, but I wanted to use a darker color for the bottom so that I don’t have to worry about getting it dirty if I want to set it on the floor or ground.

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The basket can hold about ten 100g skeins of yarn, so it would be great for storage. I’ve been using it as a project basket that I can keep by my couch with the whatever I’m currently working on. I can also easily grab it to take with me for outdoor or cafe knitting. Right now, it’s holding the Desert Star top that I’m knitting (and hopefully finishing up soon!).

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It feels so meta to keep yarn/yarn projects in a basket made of yarn. I’m into it.

May, June, July Squares

Great news! I’m finally caught up on my block-a-month squares! I got a bit behind while i was trying to finish up my Poison Oak and Sonation sweaters. But now I’m back on track and will hopefully remain on track, because it’s a lot more pleasant to make 3 squares a month than to make 9 squares in one month… So, without further ado, here’s May, June, and July!

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It makes me so excited about the finished blanket when I see lots of the squares together (although it also makes me dread sewing them all together… but that’s a problem for future me). If you haven’t read my other posts about this blanket, I’m participating in a Ravelry crochet-a-long making 3 afghan squares per month – 2 12 in. squares and 1 6 in. square. The finished blanket will be 5 ft. by 6 ft. The year is over halfway through, so I’m over halfway done with the blanket! I’m using Malabrigo Rios yarn.

Because I have so many squares this month, I’ll just give a quick description of each one and link my Ravelry projects in case you’d like to see more pictures.

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Row 1 (May squares) from left to right:

  • Wishful Thinking (12 in.) by Polly Plum in colorways Purple Mystery, Whales Road, and Lettuce. This was honestly one of my least favorite squares. It was very finicky, and I don’t love the final look enough for it to be worth it. But I did like that it’s different. (Ravelry project page)
  • May Pole (12 in.) by Shan Sevcik in colorways Glazed Carrot, Fresco y Seco, and Whales Road. (Ravelry project page).
  • Parkdale (6 in.) by Sadie Cuming in colorways Archangel, Sunset, and Purple Mystery. (Ravelry project page)

Row 2 (June squares) from left to right:

  • Shoofly Pie (12”) by Polly Plum in colorways Fresco y Seco, Whales Road, and Sunset. I like this square, but I was kind of disappointed to have another pie themed square (Ravelry project page)
  • Chocolate Delight (12”) by Dayna Audirsch in colorways Archangel, Teal Feather, and Purple Mystery. I originally thought this square looked sort of boring, but I really like the simplicity of it. It’s a nice change from the more complex squares. And the bulb-like shape of the petals reminds me of palace towers or something. (Ravelry project page)
  • Charming (6”) by Melinda Miller in colorways Sunset, Fresco y Seco, and Lettuce.(Ravelry project page)

Row 3 (July squares) from left to right:

  • C2: Shining Sea (12”) by Funny dieBarbarin in colorways Glazed Carrot, Teal Feather, and Lettuce. This is my favorite square so far, although it was annoying to make because of all the puff/bullion/popcorn stitches. It’s just so unique with the offset squares. I also think the name is clever. (Ravelry project page)
  • Moon Blossom (12”) by Karen Smith in colorways Archangel, Fresco y Seco, and Whales Road. I really love the alternating stitch effect in the border of this square. (Ravelry project page)
  • Checks and Balances (6”) by Cylinda D. Matthews in colorways Whales Road, Purple Mystery, and Glazed Carrot. I don’t love how this square turned out, but I think its my fault for using two colors that are too similar. Oh well. (Ravelry project page)

Whew! I’m very proud of myself for actually writing about/photographing/Ravelry-ing about all of these squares at once. This kind of documenting can be annoying in the moment, but I love having the record of all of the things I’ve made and what I was thinking when I made them. I wish I had it for earlier pieces I made, but it’s hard to go back and remember what yarn, what size of needles/hook, etc. How do you all keep track of all of the projects you’ve finished?

Hanalei Sweater

I finished another sweater! I actually started this sweater in March, but then I had to put it away to make a different sweater as a graduation gift for my roommate. After I finished that, I got right back to working on my sweater. The pattern is Poison Oak by Carina Spencer. DSC_7979

I used a little less than 3 skeins of Hanalei Hand Dyed superwash merino silk fingering in the variegated Pele colorway. I fell in love with the bright colors of this yarn at a local yarn store in northern California.

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The pattern is designed for two colors of narrow stripes, but the yarn I wanted to use is so variegated and bright that I chose not to stripe it. I also didn’t alternate skeins (I know, I’m horrible), but I’m actually glad I didn’t because I really like pooling effect here. It reminds me of a sunset.

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The sweater has a slip stitch detail down an asymmetric front. It’s high-low – long in the front, and falling at the hips in the back. I made it a little longer than the pattern calls for. The pattern includes options for 3/4 length or cap sleeves, and I chose the 3/4 length. I made the 36” bust size, and I used a size 2 needles instead of size 4 because I’m a pretty loose knitter.

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I’m so, so happy with how this sweater turned out! It’s the first hand-knit sweater that I own. It may be a little while before I can wear it since it’s not exactly summer wear. I’m hoping to be adding a few more knit garments to my collection soon!

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A few patterns on my radar to start next:

Happy summer knitting everyone!

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SoCal Beanie

I started this lacy beanie as part of the Spring Hat KAL hosted by the Wool, Needles, Hands podcast, but I went to Los Angeles to visit my sister and ended up leaving the unfinished project behind! After I got it back, I went ahead and finished it even though the KAL was over. It’s a really light, floppy summer beanie.

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I used the Mehendi pattern by Svetlana Volkova and Classic Elite Yarns Silky Alpaca Lace held double in the colorway Olive Moss. I made the medium size of hat, and, after blocking, it had the perfect amount of slouchiness. It took quite a bit less than half of a ball of the yarn, even held double, so it was a fairly cheap hat to make! I really like how the variegated lace held double turned out, and I love the bluish tones.

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This beanie is pretty different from the things I’ve knitted before, but it’s definitely ideal for a fun style in the summer in California.

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