Sunday, August 19, 2012

My best showing at the Fair!

Holy Crap! That's my name with that yarn & rosette!
I can't believe how well I did at the State Fair this year! I only entered four items and I won four ribbons. In addition to the ribbons, I also won the rosette for the knitting category, which just blows my mind completely. What's really exciting about winning the rosette, aside from the recognition and the big, shiny blue ribbon, is that it comes with eight skeins of Shetland wool yarn from Littledove Farms, which happens to be local to me. The yarn is all undyed, in a variety of Shetland colors: musket, moiget, moorit and white. I have to wait until next Monday to get my hands on it, and it'll be just about all I can do to keep from squealing every time I think about it.

I swear, it was the horse patch that won the ribbon.

As for the ribbon count, my Lotus socks and Lilleput cardigan both received blue ribbons. I was pretty confident about the socks, but I wasn't sure how the cardigan was going to do. My impression from past Fairs was that the judges seemed to prefer the super-cute over regular-cute and I wasn't sure my Lilleput was cute enough. Turns out I needn't have worried. It did just fine. My glacier gloves came in second place to a Fair Isle hat, which I'm fine with. I only wish it had been displayed better - viewers couldn't see all the detail of the cabling. My Raindance sweater got an Honorable Mention ribbon, which much more than I expected for it, as it was nearly all stockinette. Its unusual construction must have been what earned it the ribbon. The sweaters that placed higher had lots of intricate cabling on them, so I'm happy with the ribbon I got.

Once I got done freaking out about how well I did, I looked around at the other textiles that were on display. There was plenty of great crochet and needlepoint, as well as cross stitch and quilting. One of my favorite quilt categories is the "Made from Old," which is just like it sounds: quilts made from old blocks, but only recently finished. I particularly liked the second place quilt in this category because of the handwritten note the submitter included:
"Blocks originally made to be two twin or lap sized quilts sometime in the 1960s or 1970s. All the blocks were combined to create a double size to fit an antique four post bed. Some blocks have yellowed due to the storage method. Its nice to see the blocks in a finished quilt. Done is good."

As a matter of fact, done IS good.

Once I'd had my fill of the textiles, I went over to a different building to check out the 4-H stuff, which I love looking at. I was in 4-H when I was a kid, but I don't remember having entered anything in the Fair (I'll have to check with my Mom. She remembers this kind of thing.). Every year I'm impressed at quality of the submissions and how hard these kids have had to work. There were all kinds of agricultural products: sorghum, corn, tobacco, soybeans. There was also honey and fudge and pies. (There was also honey for sale, so I bought some.) I was impressed by the Landscape Design entries, because those kids not only had to draft a landscape plan identifying the species of plants they intended to use, but they also had to build a model that matched the plan. Those models were no joke!

I love watching the ducklings climb up and slide down.

Well, I think that's about all I can write about this year's Fair. Next time, I promise an update on Zori. Until then, Friends!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Finally, I can talk about it!

Today CookieA's new collection of patterns, CookieA Knitwear Volume 1: Shapes + Form, was released which means that I can finally talk about the samples I knit this summer. I can't say enough about how much fun I had knitting these three accessories and now I want to make some to keep. I also want to make a few of the garments, which are so interesting, I can't stand it.

The first of the sample knits was the Cylinder Cowl, knit from Lorna's Laces Shepherd Wool. The yarn in tandem with the stitch pattern made a fabric with such a beautiful drape and a supple hand that I'm having a hard time describing it. The yarn is listed on Ravelry as aran weight, but it's so lofty that it felt like a light worsted as I knit it up. It was so awesome to knit with! All my friends who got to feel it while I was knitting it remarked on how great it felt. It's definitely worth getting your hands on a skein of this yarn to knit this cowl. The stitch pattern was easily memorized and zipped along quickly. The cables drew the selvedges in quite a bit, but blocking took care of all that. Sadly, I only remembered to take photos of my swatches, so that's all there is here.

The second sample I knit was the Dome Hat, knit from Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd's Worsted. Not long ago I wrote about my trip to the mill; it was inspired by this project. The hat knit up quickly, too, and the yarn had such excellent stitch definition that I was pleased with this project even before I washed and blocked it. I didn't add the buckle that's shown in the e-book, but isn't it just the right finishing touch?

The last of the accessory samples I knit was the Slant Mitts. These, I think, were the fastest of the three to complete. They're mostly ribbed, with a couple of simple lace inserts. Since there weren't any right/left directions to worry about, the second mitt went as quickly as the first. I'm in love with this yarn too. I actually have two skeins of Miss Babs' yarn in my stash, but they're sock yarn that I bought at Sock Summit last year. I really liked working with the Yowza, and I think my favorite thing about this yarn is how rich and saturated the color is. I haven't really ever thought I wanted a pair of fingerless mitts, but now that I've made these, they might come in handy this winter when my basement is all cold and uncomfortable.

As for the garments, I definitely want to make the Rotation Cardigan; I just have to save up for a minute to be able to afford the specified yarn. I also like Slope, which uses the Miss Babs Yowza, but I'm not sure it would look right on my figure. Maybe I can reward myself with this sweater if I meet my weight loss goal by next fall. It's good incentive, right? Lastly, I like the Pivot Pullover, but I'm not sure I'd have the patience for all that stockinette in a laceweight yarn. The interesting construction might make up for it, but I'm not sure.

Well, that's all I have for tonight. Next time, I hope to be able to show some progress pictures of Zori. Until then, Friends!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's Kentucky State Fair Time Again!

Today was the last day to submit items for judging in the State Fair, so my friend Amy & I went out to the fairgrounds to join the hundreds of people who had pretty things to enter. Since the textiles drop off was at the farthest end of the building, we had ample opportunity to see all the other things that people were bringing in: paintings, baked goods, woodworking, and quilts. What I really need to do is get to know the wine and beer makers. Those would be good people to know I think. I might even be willing to offer to be a quality control inspector for them.

Anyway, I had 4 items to enter in the Fair: the Lilleput cardigan, the Lotus socks, the Glacier gloves, and the Raindance sweater. I had intended to enter the Hydrangea bag, but I still haven't done the sewing. (I really need to get on that - I'm tired of seeing it as a WIP on my projects page.)

But now that the Fair knitting is done, I'm finally able to start a project that I can work on at a leisurely pace. I've had my eye on Zori since I saw it in Twist Collective last fall. I knew it was going to involve a substantial amount of yarn, and I wasn't really sure that I wanted to knit it in the specified yarn. I guess it was lucky, then, that I got to use an unfamiliar yarn for the sample knitting I did this summer, which also happened to be spun at Stonehedge Fiber Mill near my family's summer place in Michigan. I got a whole bunch of the DK-weight (but not enough - I have to get at least two more skeins) and I finally cast on last night.

The sweater has unusual construction, which seems to be the only kind of sweaters I want to knit lately. The yoke is knit side-to-side, with a pretty all-over cabled pattern. Once that's done, the sleeves and the bodice are knit from picked-up stitches. I'm already pleased with the stitch definition I'm getting from the Shepherd's Wool: the cable work is standing out beautifully and will only get better once it's blocked. This may not be such a leisurely project after all.

Well, that's all I've got for this time. Until next time, Friends!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Knitting on a Deadline

Well, State Fair time is just about upon us, which means that I am knitting feverishly in order to make the submission deadline this Sunday. I have signed up to enter 5 items in the Fair, 3 of which are done. And by done I mean I've finished the knitting, but I still need to wash and block those items. The other two are not so done: I've got about 3.5" of foot left to knit on my socks, and my felted purse needs all its bits (zipper, handle, flowers) sewn on. I'm sure I can make the deadline for the sock, the purse I'm not so sure about.

Anyway, I also finished the Lilleput cardigan, including sewing on the embroidered patch. The pattern came with drawings for a dog, cat, or fish patch, but I decided that since I live in Kentucky (Louisville, no less!), I really needed to do a horse patch for this sweater. Once I worked out the approximate size I wanted, I looked around the internet for photos of smiling horses, then I sketched a design onto graph paper. Once I had a drawing I was happy with, I stitched the design onto some linen I had leftover from a sewing project and attached the patch to the cardigan. The whole time I was stitching it, I was cracking myself up because it was so goofy looking. I hope it does well at the Fair, but you never know. It's pretty darned cute, even if it doesn't get a ribbon.

Once I have everything ready for the Fair, I expect I will post it here. Until then, Friends.