I’ve noticed that lately, as I finish projects and have some leftover ends, I’m becoming increasingly more interested in the remaining weights of my leftovers — so much so that I’ve finally done something I never thought I’d do: I purchased a food scale so I can weigh my yarn. I confess that this sounds ridiculous even to my ears; real knitters just have this innate sense of where to knit to so that there’s nothing left, right? That’s what I thought, but it seems I don’t have this supposed innate sense myself, and so I need help. To add insult to injury, more and more patterns tell you to knit until you have a certain percentage of weight left, or some other stupid math equation that we both know I have absolutely no interest in solving with my brain. I just want to know the bottom line: will I have enough left to finish the piece I’m knitting? Do I have enough leftover that I can squeeze another project out of that? Aye, there’s the rub.

What does it say about me that my most recent purchase is causing me such knitting joy? I’m not really sure, but I do know that I’m giddy with delight. It makes the whole concept moot: Have or have not. There is no question.

Boy is that a weight off my mind.

Ahhh, Rhinebeck. The annual October pilgrimage that yarn and fiber lovers across the east coast yearn and scheme to take. While we desperately wanted to make the trip, it seemed that one thing or another just wasn’t going to work in our favor this year. Some people were renovating homes. Some were out of town or running marathons. And some of us were just a tad scant on money and a touch large on indecision. In the end, we waited too long to find anywhere to stay, so we finally had to accept the hard realization we simply weren’t going to Rhinebeck. But that didn’t stop some of us from sitting in our houses sulking come Friday evening, not sure how we were going to manage avoiding the Twitterstream for two whole days while everyone else had fun without us.

So we hatched a plan to absolve us of our misery. If we couldn’t manage the scratch for yarnporn AND accommodations, we’d just focus on acquiring the yarnporn. Saturday morning, Audrey and I tucked Ingrid into her car seat and set off for Pittsburgh and yarn a bit closer to home. It was a much more relaxed journey, since we knew we weren’t going to be facing stiff competition for our yarn. We spent a few hours at one of our favorite shops there, kibbitzing and sharing with other knitters who had to stay back and man the shop. Of course, being bitter together was some comfort, because we could laugh and still share companionship with the knitting community. And you know what? That was okay. I think it’s really the friendship that’s important here. Being with people you trust as friends, sharing new ideas and patterns with others like you, and training young blood in the art of fibers, just makes things right with the world. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to come home with some new nommy goodness too. Just, you know, for the pain.


I’m pretty happy with my haul; it wasn’t extravagant, but most of it is actually for Christmas gifts, which I’m now hard at work on. That’s what I call responsible shopping, and I can totally rationalize that. It made the weekend of not Rhinebeck bearable, and that was a blessing. I can even look at Westknit’s Facebook page of festival fun and frolic without shedding (many) tears. And it seems absence makes the heart grow fonder (and smarter); we’re all hard at work researching accomodations for next year’s pilgrimage. There’s just no way in hell we’re missing this twice in a row.

Sometimes, you just have to scratch that itch and share the joy.

Well, it’s finally done. I’ve put the needles down, blocked it with a frenzy, and at last, the Clapotis is off the wires.

And I’m really not impressed.

I feel like that’s some sort of sacrilege to say out loud. Apparently everyone loves this pattern. But I just don’t see it. Maybe I knit it too loosely. Perhaps I’ve always subconsciously had something against this yarn. It could be that the pattern should be made with a heavier yarn. Most likely it’s a combination of all three. But whatever it is, I’ve never felt the love for this piece. And you know what? I think that’s okay (even though I’m nervously looking up for the lightning strike).

What I’ve learned here is this: I don’t care for the dropped stitch pattern on this weight of yarn with such big needles. I want a firmer binding on a finished piece, and this is not that. Now that I’m done, I see lots of places where it could be better, where the stitches could be tighter, or gaps where I don’t think there should be gaps. I’m even wondering if I might have gotten the stitches wrong on the edges, or messed it up when I had to go down and fix a missed yarnover. Hmmm. Also, I just dread the first time something snags a loose thread, because you know it’s gonna happen. Suffice it to say, this particular Clapotis is not one of my favorite pieces.

So I’m glad I did this, because I think it’s important to discover the things you don’t like as well as the things you love. And even better if I can put words to it, so that next time, I can avoid what I don’t like. But now I can check this off the list, and move on to something I’m gonna love a lot more. Besides — TheCoed has been nosing around as I blocked this piece, so I think it’s going to become hers, just because I know she’ll wear it with joy. And that’s really the point of it all, isn’t it?

So there’s my report, and my teachable moments. Everyone sing along with me: “Clap on! Clap off! Clap on, clap off, Clapotis!”

Last week I had a conference in Milwaukee to attend. Things had been a little hectic leading up to it and, come Thursday evening, I suddenly realized I hadn’t bought a plane ticket. Oy! Two days before you’re supposed to leave isn’t the best time to realize you still need transportation, because that $325 ticket two months ago has more than doubled in price. No dice. I could drive, but the thought of an 11+ hour drive just felt exhausting — if not on the way there, definitely on the way back. Trying to decide between the lesser of two evils, I suddenly realized there was a third option: Amtrak. With a station only 30 minutes away, I found I could book a three-leg round trip for the same price of that original plane ticket I never got around to buying. A 20 hour trip with a couple 2 – 3 hr layovers is longer than I usually like to travel, but the price was right and I was ready for an adventure. All aboard!

Let me tell you, that train ride was fabulous. On my way there I worked on my presentation, read a book, and knit — and on the way back? I knit and knit and knit some more. I was able to finish two projects completely, and get the third one almost to completion. What a glorious feeling! The trip was incredibly relaxing — I was out of the office, out of the house, couldn’t do anything for anyone except for me. (Hooray!) I had plenty of legroom, a comfortable seat, a huge window to took out, a reading light that actually could be aimed where I needed it, a table that moved where I wanted it; and, the trifecta of a tech geek: wifi, plugs, and coffee. Yessssssssss. So much more comfortable than a packed flight, and I could get up, move around, have food in the dining car, work in the lounge car, or sit in my seat, almost fully reclined, with headphones in my ears and a movie on the laptop. Pure heaven.

I gotta say, I’m so impressed with Amtrak. You’d be surprised how many people take the train cross country, and I can see why. It might take longer than air, but it’s a helluva lot more relaxing, and definitely easier on the  psyche. I’m reinvigorated by the thought of how many places I can get to just with a 30 minute drive from my home. It seems to me that, with gas at these prices, any trips in a 6 hour radius is really better left to Amtrak.

Training couldn’t get any easier.