Why, oh why, does LoveJunkie always lay down on my knitting? This weekend she’s been recovering from a procedure at the vet and she just looks so pathetic, I don’t have the heart to move her. Oh sure, play the sympathy card this time, why doncha.


Since I was whining about variegated yarns a couple weeks ago, I thought I should probably show some progress with what I’ve been making. I’d decided to do Clapotis with the Miss Babs’ Rhinebeck 2011 colorway, and I really like how the colors are playing off the stockinette/dropped stitch combo. it had been an easy pattern to travel with (although I really need to stop talking so much when I knit this, because I totally lose track of the YO after the k2tog. I’ve had to go back and fix that at least a handful of times (although that means I’m getting really good at tinking) and it will off the count by one if I don’t catch it. So, I’m still moving forward, but I should really pay a bit more attention when I’m cruising along in this one.

But at the moment, I’ve put Clapotis on hiatus so that I can make more progress on Trillian. TheProgrammer decided she really liked it and beat me to the punch by asking for it. *eyeroll* So I’m trying to get moving on it on the off chance I might actually get it done for her birthday which is… oh, Tuesday. I’m gonna get back to that and hopefully make tracks stat. It’s about a yard long on the curved side, so I’m starting to get a good feel for what this will look like as a finished object. I will tell you that Indigodragonfly’s Merino/Silk 4-ply sock yarn is, quite simply, delish.

I like the fact I’m making progress in gradually getting through both stash and projects. I’m happy with both of these pieces (although I’m pretty sure they’ll both be gifts) but I’m also looking forward to getting them done and moving on to the next things in line. I seem to have a queue that gets longer and longer and longer, but I guess it’s progress that I’ve got actual yarn matched up with actual projects. Now if I could only get outgoing projects done faster than the incoming stash, I’d call that making real progress.

Carry on, McDuff!

I’ve discovered that, as a knitter, it doesn’t take very long in a new place before you start wondering where the local yarn stores are. Where can I pick up some darning needles? A new project bag? Where can I fondle some yarnporn? I was looking to expand my stash with some sea silk, and knew there would be ample selection in the chic downtown Portland stores — Knit Purl, Happy Knits, and Twisted (a few personal favorites) — but my sister lives in the Tigard/Beaverton portion of Portland, and I wondered if there were any stores local to her that were worthwhile.

For future reference, there are some questions that are just too silly to ask.

The first stop was proof that I’d become a yarn snob. Half of the store was a selection of acrylic yarns, and specialty yarns (eyelash, boucle, and things that you can apparently knit into necklaces. I didn’t want to know more). Wool and wool blends were stored along one wall and I realized there wasn’t anything there that I was excited about trying. A conversation with the saleswoman didn’t prove terribly fruitful, and the only place to sit down was at a small, cramped table. I’d hate to take classes there. Sea silk? Not an option. I bought a project bag and we moved on.

Oh, but the second stop! Less than five miles from TheProgrammer’s house, and we struck gold. A beautiful shop called For Yarn’s Sake that carries hand-dyed yarns from local northwest artists. Perfect! Light, airy, and packed to the gills with natural fibers with lovely specialty luxury fibers as well. Comfortable couches and chairs made it clear knitters were welcome to sit and knit (obviously they were set up for a weekly knitting group!). A long table and chairs proved they were serious about offering classes, too. Oh, and the yarn — a fabulous selection, with beautiful samples to inspect and love. I found three patterns that I will be adding to my collection. It was a shame we only had an hour there. The thing I liked the most? Being able to have an intelligent conversation with the salesperson, because she could tell me things I didn’t know. Sea silk? Certainly; four different types, and when I got to the counter? Oh my. This was where I discovered qiviut.

Have you ever heard of qiviut (“kiv-ee-ute”)? Yeah, I hadn’t either. Here’s the skinny:

Qiviut is truly an amazing fiber. It is the delicate underwool of the Arctic muskox. It is one of the most sought after fibers in the world because of its rarity, softness and warmth. Qiviut is softer than cashmere and is light as a feather. It’s an insulating fiber and is comfortable to wear in any climate.

Qiviut is eight times warmer than sheep wool. 100% qiviut is non-shrinkable, non-felting and safe for people who suffer from sheep wool allergies. Unlike wool, qiviut is not scratchy. The more you handle and wash qiviut, the softer it feels.

ZOMG. The feel is amazing, and I was hooked. I was trying to decide on a couple of colors, and as I bent down for one more look through the glass, I saw a sign with a number on it. 142. What was that — a dye lot? No, that was the price. ONE HUNDRED FORTY-TWO DOLLARS. *blanch* Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. And I couldn’t put it away fast enough. Holy shit. $142. For a skein. OF YARN. Yes, it was laceweight, and yes, it was 437 yards. But dear god. It must be collected from the ballsack of the muskox and spun with gold and fairy wings.

Now, to be fair, I was looking for an upscale yarn shop, and I definitely found it. And they also have an amazing selection of — well, just about everything. And, while I actually did spend that much in the store, I really couldn’t justify it all on one single skein of luxury. Instead, I got a number of new things I’ve never worked with before: two skeins of sea silk, differing weights (one that was custom dyed for the shop, a delicious concoction of champagne, silver and gold), a skein of malabrigo rios, a spontaneous impulse buy of madtosh prairie, and some baby lace weight dream in a gorgeous exclusive club dyed periwinkle-gray that came with a lovely hat-scarf-cowl-mitts pattern. I really think it’s fabulous, and sadly, now I’m enrolled in the monthly Dream In Color option. Because, you know, I need people to make it EVEN EASIER for me to buy yarnporn. Dammit.

On the bright side, my sister has decided to take a class here to get her past the cast on curse that she’s encountered. I’m hopeful for her, because a class gives you the support you need to make progress. It also means she can make her own stuff, rather than stealing mine. (Okay, so I offered my Rose Red to her, but how can you say no to “Can I have this?”) I’m not sure it will take the place of her quilting, but it is definitely more portable. And perhaps I’ll take another peek at that qiviut the next time I’m there.

From 40 feet away.

Just got back from a lovely two week stay in Oregon with TheCop. While he had plans to hike and explore Mt. Hood, I was set to spend time catching up with my sister in Portland, taking day trips to locales of interest (read: wine, food, beach, yarn). This is one of the reasons the pacific northwest is so appealing to us — we can both do things together and apart that appeal to our varied interests. I love that. Our first day trip: to drop TheCop off at Mt. Hood for a five day hike along the Timberline Trail.

After we left TheCop at the trail head, we wandered a bit as we headed back toward Portland. Outside Hood River we found fruit orchards, wineries, and Cascade Alpacas of Oregon, an alpaca farm where we stopped to feed the alpacas and browse Foothills Yarn & Fiber, their yarn shop (yarn! in the middle of nowhere! have I got mad skills or what??!!). Alpacas are a funny bunch; very friendly, not a little shy, and more than a little hungry. My sister TheProgrammer was not completely convinced that alpacas are harmless, but it was a hoot.

I have to admit, alpaca farming in the shadow of Mt. Hood seems to be a pretty fantastic way to spend your days. More than a little picturesque nestled there in the mountains, isn’t it? And freshly shorn alpaca with that topknot mop of hair is just cuter than cute. Not to be outdone, the yarn shop was chock full of — you guessed it — yards and yards of fabulous alpaca. I tried like hell, but ended up not buying any alpaca to bring home and add to the stash; instead, I bought a crochet hook (!!!) to fix some dropped stitches on my Clapotis scarf. Oh yes, just call me Big Spender.

Nonetheless, this was, quite possibly, the best day of back country wandering I’ve ever had. Beautiful weather. Beautiful scenery. Beautiful alpacas. All less than two hours away from culture and city life. Why do I live in Pennsylvania when there’s such beauty here?

Alpaca think on that one awhile.