Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lessons Learned from Common Cod Fiber Camp

Almost a week and a half ago now (wow how time flies btw) I attended Fiber Camp 2015 hosted by the lovely men and women of the Common Cod Fiber Guild, and boy did I learn a lot! It was great to be around so many friendly people, and best of all, they loved talking about knitting. I saw so many lovely projects too that now I'm on inspiration overload.

Here's what I learned from the classes, the conversations, and observations....

  • Buy a composition notebook with graph paper. As an engineer, I solely use graph paper at work. However it is all loose leaf, and I simply recycle each page after I'm done with it. At work, I like the idea of starting fresh for each task. Designer Julia Farwell-Clay gave a class on designing motifs and showed off her design notebook, which you guessed it, was a composition notebook with graph paper. I love the thought of all of the my ideas, good or bad, being in one place. Maybe this is a trivial point, but it did inspire me to go to Staples and buy one! In fact, I'm using it for charting the Gloucester Baby Blanket pattern again -- it's almost ready to go, just re-checking the math.

  • Have an organized toolkit. As I looked around, most people seemed to have either a little bag or tupperware where they kept all of their knitting notions. I, on the other hand, have stitch markers loosely tumbling about in literally every pocket of my backpack. After camp, I was inspired to organize a little pouch with all of my knitting essentials: stitch markers (although I should get more since I've lost nearly all of them now), tape measure, cable needle, and a darning needle. Also everyone seemed to have this cool little tool (4 inches to be exact) called a "tool replacement", which has a crochet hook on one side and size 3 needle on the other end. It can be used as a cable needle or for picking up dropped stitches.

My newly organized knitting toolkit!

  • Use a pom pom maker. Sheeri introduced us to these pom pom makers that make beautiful, full pom poms. Plus they are extremely easy to use! 

  • How to spin yarn! This lesson came as pleasant surprise late Sunday afternoon. Willa brought some fiber and drop spindles and taught us how to spin. It was rather addicting, and now I can see why people love it. I'm holding off on this craft for the moment, simply because it seems too fun. But now I have my first mini-mini skein of my own hand-spun yarn. Even though it looks just as you would expect after spinning for the first time (that is... not so great), I was told I should keep it to see how far I progress. Maybe this summer I'll pick it spinning!

First attempt at spinning!

  • Ways to hide yarn and justify money spent on knitting to my significant other. Fortunately Michael doesn't question yarn purchases, plus I haven't been buying much since I decided to go cold sheep. However, this quirky lady offered me some semi-solid advice on how to deal with Michael, in case he ever does question my need for a knitting stash... She said yarn can be hidden anywhere, from the back of the freezer to the sleeves of coat pockets to under couch cushions. She also said that if he ever says that I'm spending too much money on yarn, that I should say at least I have something to show for it at the end. Then find an activity that he spends money on, and say that his leisurely spending doesn't result in something tangible like a sweater. Although that's tough considering that Michael is a runner, and running is free... In reality though, I think it would be better for Michael to speak up way before I ever get to hoarding status, even though we will have a lot of space in our new apartment!! Here are some pics of the place....

My brother Thomas checking out the charming
features of our future Salem apartment.

Living room/dining room in our new apartment.

There was also a dyeing class by A Hundred Ravens, which a regrettably didn't take, but next time. I also learned more about the history of textured knitting, the do's and dont's of yarn selection for sweaters, seaming with the mattress stitch, picking up stitches, etc.

I also came home with some goodies too, including free ones, which let's admit, are always the best. I got the latest Rowan Knitting magazine plus two Bergere of France knitting pattern magazines as a raffle prize courtesy of Stitch House in Dorchester, MA. It's like I have Ravelry in print now. I also purchased From Folly Cove as I mentioned last post.

All of my Fiber Camp goodies!

[FO] Common Cod Spring Scarf

There was also a destash table where I picked up 3 skeins of Valley Yarns Goshen (48% cotton, 46% rayon, 6% silk) in Persimmon to make a bright, spring lace scarf. I started this project on the Sunday of Fiber Camp as I wanted to knit something easy while I attended the classes and talked with people. The lace pattern was a variation of the Sweet November Knit Shawl, just without the increases. Check out my project page on Ravelry for my modifications!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Apartment Hunting.... Witch Place Should We Live?

Yikes! It's been a little while, but life has been so eventful the past week or so. Let me skip to the most exciting news though... My fiance Michael and I went to visit Salem, MA on Sunday to start our apartment hunt, and it turns out we found a place already! I am so relieved that we found a place we really like AND that the apartment search is over. As anyone who lives in Boston can attest, apartment hunting, especially for a September 1 move-in, is an awful, stressful, and all-consuming process. Turns out Michael and I will be moving on May 1, so we will no longer be on the September cycle. That also means we will be moving pretty soon!

Michael and I on the commuter rail out to salem. I'm sporting my new Broken Ribbed Cowl.

So unfortunately I don't have any pictures, but we may try to see the place again soon. The place has two bedrooms with a big dining room and even bigger living room. The living room was so bright when we toured the unit. The house used to belong to our realtor's grandmother, so there are some aspects of the house that are old and grandma-like. I'm thinking particularly of the shower door which has swans etched into the glass and the old stove. BUT there is a brand new washer and dryer, with more options than just hot and cold water.

Downtown Salem is just so quaint and full of history.

We are extremely excited for our new place. Neither of us have much furniture, so it will be really nice to be able to decorate the place together. Luckily we have similar taste and its not halloween-themed thank god. We want the place to have traditional New England maritime look. Not quite sure what that means exactly, but I'm thinking navy and neutral colors and a whale plaque. I'm also hoping to commission a handmade coffee table and end tables from my talented brother Paul.

Coffee table handmade by my brother.

Before the excitement of moving turns into stress from packing, I'm making it a point to find some pretty house-related projects for our new home. I can start to look for new projects now because....

[FO] - Gloucester Baby Blanket

Finished Gloucester Baby Blanket! On to the pattern!

.... I finished the Gloucester Baby Blanket! This was a fun project for me, all the way from the design to finishing it. The design was not too complicated to develop. As I was looking through an old knitting book of fishermen sweaters, I found a herringbone motif that I really liked. I adjusted it slightly, then added a cable, and filled in with moss stitch, and Voile! The pattern was conceived.

Close up of the motif. It is so hard to photograph this lemon yarn color correctly.
The picture above is much truer to the actual color.

But now I have to actually write it up. Thankfully I was very good in taking notes, but I am experimenting with how to write and chart the pattern to make it easily understandable. You can expect this free pattern to be available soon... hopefully within the week.

I would love to get around to it this weekend, but I will be busy at the 2015 Fiber Camp here in Cambridge. This is an annual get together hosted by the Common Cod Fiber Guild. It is my first time going to one of their events, and I can't wait. I'm particularly anticipating getting my hands on a new book called From Folly Cove by Julia Clay-Farwell, as she will be there to sell/sign her book.  I've been wanting to start her sweater Natti Turtleneck, but I've been waiting until I can buy the book.

Our first trip to Folly Cove (plus another picture-taking tourist who refused to move).

Folly Cove was one of the first places Michael and I discovered on our frequent trips to Cape Ann. On our first trip to the north shore, we spent all day walking around Rockport, and the last stop on our long journey was Folly Cove. This was right after we finished eating lobsters at the famous Lobster Pool.

Michael and I on our first trip to Rockport. 

So more to come next week... a new pattern, a new sweater to cast-on, and a review of the cool new things I learned at Fiber Camp! Also, I'll be volunteering at the registration table both days 10:30am-12pm, so stop by and say hi!

Here's a bonus picture of Rockport, MA at sunset. The view is breath-taking.