Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop

The yarn diet is over and I blame the Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop for knocking me off the wagon. But seriously, there was no way I was getting out of this event without indulging.

My friend and I started planning this a year ago, so I was prepared with a yarn budget. After making the drive up, we started out on the Hop, tentatively planning on hitting all 17 stores but prepared not to be sad if we didn’t. Because let’s face it…17 stores is a lot of yarn shopping. One of our first stops, however, was the local tea shop, where I picked up some loose leaf tea that tastes delightful and makes me happy.

Tea - the preferred drink of many a knitter.
Tea – the preferred drink of many a knitter.

On the first day, we hit 4 stores, and considering we didn’t start until the afternoon, that was pretty good. Especially because it was snowing. Snow in Kansas makes me want to hide and avoid the roads. Snow in Minnesota felt normal, and I think I went into Michigan driver mode.

What size do we think these are?
What size do we think these are?
Over the course of the weekend, we hit all 17 stores, which scored us a set of 17 stitch markers and a cute holder. We saw some beautiful scenery and petted some delightful yarn. To give you an idea of how the hop works, you buy either an EZ pass or a VIP pass with the proceeds going to the local food pantry. This passport is stamped at each store, where you’re given your marker. At the end, if you fill out the whole thing, you turn it in for a chance at a drawing.
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At each store, you can also enter a drawing, and along with the stitch marker, you get a free pattern that uses the store’s specialty Hop yarn. You can buy the yarn if you want.

I picked up quite a few of the specialty yarns. I also found some other delicious yarn that I have to relegate to patterns, but it’s nice to already have some of my yarn paired with patterns. I’ve already wound one of the specialty skeins, so if I can get through the frustrating hat I’m currently working, I’ll be casting on for that.

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We had a blast yarn shopping and hanging in the hotel room and eating at new places. By Saturday we were pretty tired and ready to get back to reality, but it was a great time. Now to work on using up this yarn and more stash yarn in preparation for next year.

Sunday Hijinks at the Theater

As happens, if I’m really lazy one day of the weekend, I tend to actually get out and do things on the other. While I completely spaced on having my car looked at, I did venture out to do Sunday afternoon fun things.

That wasn’t before finishing up season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Can we talk about that show for a second? I wasn’t sold when we first started watching it. The first few episodes were kind of boring, but once the show found its pace, it was amazing! After I got home from being social, we started season 2 and I got punched right in the feels. I’m still hurting a little bit.

My faves!
My faves!

First outing of the day was seeing Fox on the Fairway at the Manhattan Arts Center. Unlike the last few shows I’ve seen there, I didn’t have the background on this story. One of my job perks is that the owner of the company will often buy tickets for employees (our company is a sponsor). I love live theater, so I jumped at the chance to go.

I have to give kudos to the MAC staff for hooking me up with a more comfortable chair. Their normal ones are super narrow, and not wide-bottom comfortable. In the past, I probably would have been too shy to say anything, but age is great for no longer really caring and valuing comfort over being afraid to just say “My butt needs a bigger chair.” So I did and no one was weird about it. They got me a comfy one right away and even thanked me for letting them know.

As for the play itself, it was hilarious. The actors were spot on, the story was really fun, and being that it was a Sunday production, the theater wasn’t super crowded, so I didn’t feel claustrophobic.

From there, I went to the weekly Stitch ‘n’ Bitch gathering, which was held at Panera this week. I went early to meet up with a fellow knitter who was giving me a ball and swift winder lesson and winding up a couple skeins of alpaca for me for my next project. Recently I got it in my head that I need these tools, so I wanted to see how they worked and get some feedback on good brands. I kept waffling over the weekend about buying them, but I didn’t order anything yet. I think I’m going to wait for our new yarn store to open and I’m going to see if I can purchase one through them. I’ll feel good about keeping it local, and in this case, I’d like to see what I’m buying beforehand.

We did have a bit of a yarntastrophe, but I suppose that’s how it goes sometimes. We finally detangled and still got some quality knitting time, though I’m a bum and still haven’t taken any pictures of my work in progress to share.

Not much got done in the way of housework this weekend, but I have a free Monday night tomorrow, so after grocery shopping…which I desperately need to force myself to do…I’ll do a little bit of cleaning and prepping for the rest of the week.

On that note, I’m off to bed. Onward to the Monday!


Organizing My Knitting Stash

Part of this whole knitting process has been to pare down my stash, but the disorganization of it was driving me crazy. I didn’t know what I had and was blindly grabbing when starting a project. Also, I’m not well-versed in textures. I know what worsted and fingering weight are, but I was a little unclear on sport and DK, and the difference between chunky and bulky when it came to matching yarn with a pattern.

On Saturday night, I finally pulled my stash out to organize and catalog everything in my Ravelry account. I haven’t utilized Ravelry much in the past, but it occurred to me that if I had a record of all my yarn, figuring out what to knit would be a whole lot easier.

A mess of yarn: my complete stash as pulled from my closet.
A mess of yarn: my complete stash as pulled from my closet.

When I first piled it on the bed, the project seemed daunting. I realized that my stash is nowhere near as big as those of some knitters. Mine fits in my closet, and I know people who have whole rooms dedicated to their stash. But I’ve developed a minor aversion to clutter, so even this little bit feels like it needs to be used.

The process really didn’t take as long as I thought it would. I found a process that worked for me, which included pulling 5 skeins at a time, taking pictures, logging them into Ravelry, then fitting them into one of my 2 bins. Some of the yarn, like the the scraps and acrylics, went into their own plastic bags and then into a cloth bag I had available.

The "after" picture.
The “after” picture.

Talk about feeling accomplished. The whole process took me about 3 hours, but there was also some time I spent winding some yarn, which, in hindsight, I probably didn’t need to do (and also triggered the idea that perhaps I could use a swift and ball winder sometime in the future). The challenge now will be to find projects to knit with the scrap yarn that I didn’t catalog, as I only put yarn I had information for in the Ravelry stash.

My organization project also yielded a bittersweet moment. Going through my stuff meant finally pulling out an afghan my grandmother started before she passed away. The partially finished granny square project and remaining yarn had been given to me, but I’d stored it away. At the time, the loss of my grandma was still tender, and I wasn’t ready to work on this.

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It’s been several years since she passed, but strangely enough, the afghan still smelled like her perfume. It brought back some good memories, but it also made me really sad and brought to the forefront how much I miss her and my grandfather. But now that the hard part of facing the project is over, it’s now in my plans to finish it up and keep it as a reminder of her.

I’m setting a stash goal for the year. By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have all of my stash pared down to just the 2 tubs (no bags), and that includes anything I pick up at yarn hops and our new yarn store, which I’ll talk more about after it opens up. Let’s hope my current knitting frenzy evens out but keeps steady so I can use up some of that yarn.


Knitters are Yarn Magnets

I’m happy to report that I’m still picking up my needles daily, and the progress I lost from frogging my project has been made up. My decision was a good one. Knitting a project with no glaring mistakes makes a difference. 

Last week, a coworker asked if I wanted some yarn she’d inherited. Logically, I realize this is the exact opposite of the paring down I’m supposed to be doing, but as a knitter, I can’t say no.What if I declined and later found out I missed out on some prize yarn?

Being a yarn magnet is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because you’re always well stocked in stash yarn. It’s a curse for the same reason, unless you’re blessed with unlimited storage space. I already have two totes and a bag full of yarn, and my efforts at stash busting have been weak. Since we’re moving into a smaller apartment, storage is going to be a challenge.

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This gift also came with several pairs of straight needles, some circulars, and a set of metal DPNs. I think I might be more excited about the tools in this case, not because I need them personally but because I want to share them.  

I’ve had a few people ask me to teach them to knit, and one of my plans after moving back into town is to hold a monthly knitting get together. I like having extra yarn and tools on hand because the idea of letting someone take them as their beginner’s tools is appealing. They’ll upgrade eventually, but this gives them the chance to try it out without having to buy their own tools.

Plus, it has a “share the love” feel to it.

As for the yarn, some of it will be donated and passed on, but there is some nice acrylic yarn I’m keeping for frou frou projects (I’m  a fan of softer acrylics).

Now I just need to figure out where I’m going to store it.

Questions for my fellow yarncrafters: do you ever find yourself becoming a yarn magnet? Do you tend to accept or decline? Why? 


Friday Fun and Winter Woolfest 2014

I’m using this weekend as another opportunity for some serious stress relief, and so far, the universe is with me on this.

Last night, after taking Jon to gaming, I hit the gym for a short but effective session before meeting up with the crew at Terry and Erica’s place. During times of high stress, I tend to withdraw. Last night was a reminder of how therapeutic “friend time” can be. We visited, discussed books, and watched a really bad horror movie, complete with our own little Twitter party. There is something hilarious and fun about sitting in the same room with people and only talking via Twitter.

Jon was done with gaming by the time the movie was over, so I picked him up. During the movie, I got a notification that a new geocache went up. We decided to go get it before heading back to Wamego, figuring that since we let about three hours go by, someone would have gotten there before us. It seemed as if the snow kept people in, however, and we got the First to Find! Yay for us! We finally made it home, and after reading a few chapters in the second Iron Druid book, I crashed.

Today was Winter Woolfest at the Columbian Theater, so I was up early to shower and gather my knitting supplies (nothing like waiting until the last minute). I packed light, deciding to take only a set of needles and a small ball of yarn for the instructional sessions. I also walked instead of drove, a daring choice since there were still several slick spots on the roads and sidewalks. I managed to make it without falling.



Since I was limited on spending funds (and the last thing I need to do is add yarn to my current stash), I took advantage of the classes that were going on throughout the day. The first one I took was one on Bavarian twisted knitting. I love the pattern this makes, and though it was a little nerve wracking to cable knit without a cable needle, I loved how easy it was and the look of the finished product.

Practice swatch. I bet I could fit this into one of my upcoming projects.
Practice swatch. I bet I could fit this into one of my upcoming projects.

The second class I took was on new methods of casting on. I’ve done nothing but long-tail for a long time, and I hadn’t bothered to learn any other methods, so this was a good opportunity to try something new. I learned three cast-ons, including the basic knit cast on, a cable cast on, and a modified long tail (I can’t remember the name right now) that makes the cast-on row stretchier (perfect for socks).

I met up with two friends at the ‘Fest, and we went to Toto’s Tacos for lunch. Tortilla soup and a “Burrito Jr.” were today’s choice. The Burrito Jr. was just meat and cheese. It was not small, but it was delicious. There was a line when we got there, but it was worth the wait.

After lunch, we did some vendor browsing before the afternoon sessions. There was tons of beautiful yarn and fiber, but I managed to hold back. I did entertain the idea of trying drop spinning again, but decided to hold off. I might get into spinning someday, but for now, especially with a pending move and a tight budget, I’ll continue to wait for the right time.

The first afternoon session was about blocking. Blocking is one of those things that seem really easy and basic, yet every time I’ve had to block something, it seems hard and nerve-wracking. The session was great. I’m no longer intimidated by the thought of blocking. Now I just need to buy some supplies.

The second session was a demo on braid cording with a lucet, though the technique was also taught with the use of fingers. I liked it, though it will take me some time to really get the hang of it and get it right. Apparently, you can use the technique with torn up t-shirt material to make cowls. I want to try this. The young man from RJ’s QTs (RJ himself, in fact)  gave the demo, then sold me on the idea of buying a couple new project bags.

I know someone who loves penguins!
I know someone who loves penguins!

The final session of the day was a lesson on Brioche knitting. It seemed pretty easy, so I think I may have been doing it wrong. However, even if I was, the technique I WAS doing was pretty fun, and I liked the finish product, which looks like regular ribbing except it’s nice and soft and squishy.


We stuck around for door prizes, but no luck this year (though since I’m still loving the  Hiya Hiyas I won last year, I’m set for like the next ten Woolfests).  V made a suggestion that we go across the street for coffee and pie, but sadly, the restaurant was closed. Not to be thwarted, we moved on down the road and tried two other places before we finally found a place that was 1)open and 2)offering coffee and dessert. Thank you, Rambler’s of Wamego!

I had the brownie sundae, V had the blondie sundae. So delicious!
I had the brownie sundae, V had the blondie sundae. So delicious!

While indulging in dessert therapy, we chatted about writing and conventions. V is one of my writer friends, and since she’s more knowledgeable on the subject, I like to pick her brain and get her feedback. We drank coffee and visited for a couple hours, finally calling it a night before the sun went down completely.

I walked home, and I walked fast since I didn’t have the foresight to use the restroom before leaving the restaurant (fail). Luckily, many of the ice patches from the morning had melted, so it was a pretty smooth walk. The temperature was perfect, though the slight chill did cause a little bit of lung discomfort (nothing to worry about…it’s happened for years).

Besides the fact that the day was a blast, it also served as a good way to mark some strides in my health and mobility. Though last year was fun, I remember not being able to stand and walk as much. I remember taking frequent sit-down breaks, taking the elevator, and taking as few extra walks as humanly possible. In fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t take any extra walks. And I drove.

This year, I walked to and from the event. I took the stairs going up at least four times (took the elevator going down, but that’s because going down stairs hurts my knees with legitimate “have to stop walking” pains). I didn’t mind making extra trips, and even took an extra trip back to the restaurant to get a bottle of water. It was seriously awesome.

I’m going to finish up some things online, maybe play some Candy Crush, then lay down to read. The weather is supposed to be really nice tomorrow, so the plan is to go to the zoo to see the animals “open” their enrichment gifts. I love a trip to the zoo. Plus, if it’s as nice as it’s supposed to be, I’m going to soak up as much outdoor therapy as I can to prepare for the coming work week.

Until tomorrow…



Winter Woolfest 2013

Yesterday I went to Wamego’s annual Winter Woolfest.  I’ve been having some social anxiety again lately and so I was a little nervous about going, especially because I decided to attend a demo and a class, and sometimes, learning new things is stressful for me.

Luckily, the social anxiety stayed away, and I had a really good time. I got there early because I wanted to sign up for one of the limited space demos. The vendors were already set up and several other attendees were in line waiting for class sign up.

The first demo I attended was about shuttle tatting. Truthfully, I had no idea what tatting even was prior to the demonstration.  I found out yesterday that tatting is a way of making crisp lacework by making knots with thread and a tool called a shuttle (you can also do it with needles, but the person doing the demo made a good case for using a shuttle and that’s what she was showing us how to do).

Tatting looks fun, and though this wasn’t a class, I did sign up to take a class if they offer one in the future. It looks intricate but not complicated, and like knitting, it looks like once I get the hang of it I’ll find it nice and relaxing.

At the demo, I met up with my friend V and we did a little more browsing before going to the Mexican restaurant down the street.


This was my first time eating at Toto’s Tacos, but it was tasty and the inside is cute. It’s only open for lunch most days, so we got there early to beat the crowd and spend some time relaxing. While there, we met another knitter/spinner. The three of us exchanged numbers and planned to meet up for the local knit night in a couple weeks.

After lunch, it was back to the Woolfest where we did some more browsing. Every time I go to one of these things, J. Felbs tells me to bring him home a miniature alpaca, one the size of a Corgi. I’m sure he knows they don’t exist, but a man can dream, I guess.

V and the Little Alpaca
V and the Little Alpaca

I didn’t actually bring this one home, but it was adorable.  Among the other vendor booths were yarn and roving and tools, and it was painful to walk by without buying anything. I was saving my spending money for after the last demo. Plus, I’m trying to pare down my yarn stash before acquiring anymore, but saying “no” to new yarn is not easy.

Before our second class, we hung out with Stephanie (our new knitter friend from Toto’s) at the spinning wheels for a little bit, and I finished knitting my own project. Not long after, the drop spindle class V and I wanted to go to started.

The spinning wheels looked fun…this may be a thing in my own fiber arts future…

I’ve avoided spinning for a long time. The idea never really interested me until recently, and then, even though I started having a passing thought to try it, I didn’t think I really needed another hobby. But when V suggested we try it, I decided to see how it worked. Besides watching other people spin, seeing all the beautiful colors of roving at the fest also sparked my curiosity.

I borrowed a drop spindle and roving from the instructor and gave it a try. At first, I couldn’t seem to get what everyone was doing. Spatial tasks don’t always sink in right away for me, so I needed a little extra help from V. Eventually, though, I figured it out. The techniques the instructor taught weren’t easy for me to follow, so I sort of modified things a bit. Apparently, like knitting or crocheting, there’s really no wrong or right way to do it. It’s all about getting a finished project.

Though I enjoyed it, I decided to hold off on buying a spindle and roving. V’s going to let me try it a few more times on her tools. When it comes to hobbies, I tend to go all in, spend a lot of money, do it a few times, and then let everything it on the shelf and collect dust. I figure a few more times trying it should give me a better idea as to whether it’ll be something I pick up on a regular basis. If I continue to like it, then spinning will be in my future.

It was a good time at the Woolfest and I’m glad I went. Besides just being a good morning, it also sparked my enthusiasm for knitting and learning new things. I’m definitely going to try to make it back next year.

Fun Facts About Knitting, Jerk

Last night I was in a situation where some comments about knitting really kind of irked me.

Normally I don’t get worked up about things.  I’d like to think that most people aren’t trying to be jerks about knitting or crocheting or any other hobby they may be commenting on.  Most of the time they aren’t familiar with it or they just speak before they think (I’m guilty of this habit, so I’ll be the pot to the kettle).

Once in awhile, though, someone comes along who’s entire manner is condescending and rude.  It’s okay if you don’t understand knitting, but it’s not okay to assume that it or any hobby is beneath you simply because YOU don’t do it.

First point, knitting and crocheting are not the same thing.  I really don’t it when people make this mistake. It’s okay if I’m knitting and you think I’m crocheting because you don’t know the difference. It’s an honest mistake and both yarn work methods are awesome.

There are people who will be annoyed,  and most people will correct you, and if they correct you, just roll with it. You’re learning something new.

Whether you know the difference or not really isn’t the issue. It’s acting like yarn work is low just because you don’t do it.   We’re not going to force a pair of needles or a crochet hook and some yarn into your hands, but have respect for the fact that we’re enjoying ourselves and we love what we do. Also,  if you don’t watch your tone, you might get one of those needles or hooks through the eye.

Another misconception is that you can’t knit and do something else at the same time. Knitting is a social sport/event/hobby/way of life. You can talk about anything while you knit and neither one detracts from the other.  Most people can also watch TV while they knit, some can read, and I know one woman who can walk on the treadmill and knit at the same time.

Don’t assume that just because someone is knitting in a social setting that they don’t know what they’re talking about or are not actively engaged in the discussion at hand.  If you’d take a second to actually listen to what’s going on, you’d realize that even when someone is doing yarn work, they are very likely still part of whatever else is going on.

Whether we’re talking about knitting or crocheting or any other hobby, everyone’s got their “thing.” Show some respect, and in the immortal words of Bill and Ted, be excellent to each other.


It’s Kind of Like Stripes

I took the hat that I’m knitting for J. Felbs on our trip last weekend and managed to get a good chunk of it done. The pattern is called Trekking. It’s by Woolly Wormhead and can be found on Ravelry, and I apologize for not linking but I can’t get the site to load (this is my computer’s fault, not the site).

I had the two skeins of Peruvia from Yarn Hop, but I started getting paranoid that I wouldn’t have enough to finish the hat (it’s 20 inches long before you even get to the crown shaping).  So I picked up some discounted baby alpaca at The Yarn Store and More and started adding it in. J is fine with the different colors and textures.

I really like the contrast. I know some knitters would find it sloppy (as would they also find the different shaped stripes, but I’m happy with it and I love knitting with the baby alpaca.

My goal is to finish both this and my BIL’s sweater* before the end of April, so FO updates may be a reality very soon.

*I do realize that knitting a wool hat and sweater right before the summertime seems kind of silly, but the brightside is that if I finish them now, the guys will have them for next winter. Justified.

It Puts the Fiber in the Basket


This is my new precious: two skeins of Lace Lux yarn to be knit into a laceweight shawl or wrap. I wasn’t going to buy any new yarn before this year’s yarn hop, but the deal and the feel was too much for me to resist. These two skeins were each 50% off the original price, so together they came to just under 20 dollars. I picked them up at The Yarn Store and More in Overland, KS, a shop I recommended for the fiber and friendliness.

I bet I can find a good pattern in a one skein wonder book, but I’m also open to suggestions.

A Skein for the Road

Today, I got my passport to the Central Kansas Yarn Hop.

Technically, SV got it for me since we’re a day away from payday and today seemed like a good day to head down to our LYS (local yarn shop, for my non-yarnie readers) and pick them up.

Gonna get my yarn on...all over the place....

Each passport is 5 dollars and has a  knit pattern and a crochet pattern for a bag, a Scavenger Hunt form, and information about all the shops participating. There are 12 yarn shops in this trip, and SV and I have decided to hit them all, which means we’ll be in a drawing for a $500 gift pack.

Since I never win drawings, it’s safe to say that while the drawing is cool, we’re going for the experience. I love yarn shops,  and I don’t feel like I’ve visited enough of them. This Hop will give me the chance to visit several new ones. As a bonus, each shop is giving away a small bit of yarn that can be used for the pattern in the Passport.  Free yarn…not something to take lightly.

It’s a four day event, and SV and I are planning on starting that Thursday night by visiting the shops in Wamego and Manhattan. On Friday, we’re off to the Wichita area, and Saturday we’ll come back and hit all the ones along the way. We’re getting a hotel room in Wichita and making a whole event of it. She’s doing all the reserving and mapping, so I’m not sure if this trip can even be done in one full day. Even if it can, we’ve decided to take our time and see some other sights along the way, like the Cosmosphere in Hutch and whatever else strikes our fancy.

It’s over a month away, but I’m really excited for this trip. I’m driving, which suits me just fine, but I’ll be able to get some knitting done in the hotel, during any downtime, and maybe at some of the shops if we decide to stick around and enjoy the atmosphere. Come to think of it, I should probably talk to SV to see if we’re setting a time limit.

The only downside is that I can’t go wild in the shops. I am, however, going to pick a theme and try to get an item that fits that theme from each store. Yarn is probably out of the question. I have a whole stash of it that I’m trying to use up. But accessories or something cool would be nice.  I’m open to suggestions.