Monthly Archives: March 2012

Postcards From Massachusetts

Gloucester. The view behind Coveted Yarn.

Lobster traps and shed behind Coveted Yarn.

Almost time. How much will lobster cost this summer?

Front Beach, Rockport.

Front Beach, Rockport.

Farmers Market, Newburyport.

Fowle's Newspaper Store, Newburyport.

Coca Cola mural, Newburyport.

 

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Yarn Crawl, Day Two

That’s right, there’s more.

On Sunday I was looking forward to visiting Newburyport more than anything else. It’s a beautiful Federal-style city located right on the Merrimack River. Downtown is full of beautiful red brick buildings dating from the early to mid 1800s that are full of shops and restaurants.  There’s a large open boardwalk and public park right on the water. A Loom With A View bills itself as “your fiber arts destination” and it really is a destination unto itself. For one thing, it’s the only store in the area that teaches spinning and weaving classes. They always have a small selection of Frabjous Fibers dyed top in stock, and I am incapable of visiting the store without buying some! As you can see, Sunday was no exception. I have been obsessed with the color turquoise for about a year now so this is what went home with me.  I don’t have any specific plans for this fiber, but the more I look at this photograph, the more I’m smitten with the turquoise and grey combination.  Something to think about…

I was disappointed that I missed Hannah Fettig’s appearance at ALWAV.  The store was a little quiet that morning. Her new book Coastal Knits was on my shopping list but there weren’t any copies left.

Sunday was another beautiful day for a drive with the windows down. Since I started with Newburyport first, that meant I had to yarn-crawl my way back home to Salem.  Sweet! We headed to Ipswich and dropped in on Loom N Shuttle, which was very crowded.  They had a lot of Noro, but no Debbie Bliss.  So my sister and I moved on to our last stop of the crawl, Cranberry Fiber Arts in Hamilton.  There were so many things I wanted to buy such as tons of gorgeous Malabrigo and beautiful ceramic buttons.  I found Coastal Knits here, as well as Debbie Bliss’s Folk Chic and Summer Essentials pattern book.  What is there to say about Coastal Knits except that it’s gorgeous? It’s a beautiful book, from the photographs to the layout to the patterns.  Most of the patterns are sweaters, along with some cute stranded fingerless mitts and a lovely chunky cowl.  One of my favorite features of the book is the schematic illustrations. Rather than a bland rendering of the sweater’s separate pieces, the garments are shown, along with measurements, on illustrated women that resemble each of the actual models photographed wearing each garment. It’s adorable!

Since CFA was our last stop, my sister and I dropped off our Crawl passports and crossed our fingers that we would be selected for a grand prize. No such luck so far, but I still have my fingers crossed!

Got yarn?

Another Crawl, Another Haul. Day One.

The North Shore Yarn Crawl 2012 has come and gone, and I’m a little poorer than I was last week. But it was worth it. The shops were awesome. The crawlers were out of control.  Coveted Yarn was both awesome and out of control, but that’s nothing new. Yarn crawling on St. Patrick’s Day was a lot of fun, since there was already a festive vibe in the air.  We yarn crawlers passed quite a few pub crawlers everywhere we went, but who says you can’t do both?

We’re a little North of Boston, but we can compete with any major city when it comes to the variety and quality of yarn shops.  City yarnies may not have as much ground to cover, but all I had to do was follow the ocean the whole way. Cities can’t beat that kind of natural beauty.

I don’t know what happened to winter, but we passed it, skipped spring and went straight into summer. The weather was warm and perfect, and on Sunday it was in the 70s.  It was a perfect weekend for driving, shopping and eating Mexican food, and I did plenty of all of the above. This year I wrote out a wish list of things to search for such as books and a particular project.  Last year I was on a Noro kick. This year, Debbie Bliss was the focus.  I wanted to pick up some of her pattern booklets and the yarn to make the striped pullover from the spring issue of her magazine.  As it turned out, I couldn’t find the Bella yarn needed for the pullover, so I didn’t end up with a larger project. But I made some impulse purchases for smaller projects, and I found some of the items on my list.

Geekery!

As always, my sister/crawl partner and I started in Salem at our LYS Seed Stitch Fine Yarn. The store was hosting two local independent hand-dyers, and I couldn’t keep away. I bought two skeins of yarn, one from each dyer. The acid-green yarn at the top is from Toil & Trouble, “bookishly inspired” yarns. The color is Ecto Cooler, from her Geekery collection!  Sigh. You had me at “Geekery.” You know I had to buy some green yarn on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m eager to start knitting with this but I don’t know what to make. I’m tempted to just knit a plain pair of socks and let the awesome color speak for itself, but this color is crying out for…something…maybe a tree or leaf motif. I’ll have to search through my patterns. The yarn on the bottom is from Knittink, a dyer who takes the names of her yarns from comic books (yay!) that are “geekery inspired.”  Sigh. You also had me at “Geekery.” There’s definitely a theme going on here, and the funny thing is, I didn’t even catch the word “geekery” on either label until I got home.  This color is Burnished Turquoise #1. I’m planning on making a basic slouchy hat with this. I have yet to knit a slouchy hat, and I’m going to start working on one soon because I can’t wait to knit with this yarn.

The Knit Stitch

We drove over the bridge to Beverly, where three shops on the crawl are located. Two are a couple of blocks apart in the downtown area, one is farther away in Beverly Farms.  I love downtown Beverly because it has a quiet sort of cool with, among other things: two yarn shops, a tattoo parlor, great places to eat, including a vegetarian restaurant, an art school, funky shops, and The Cabot Street Cinema Theater. I love this city; Beverly’s cool without calling attention to how cool it is. We hit The Knit Stitch and Creative Yarns and had lunch in town.  Both stores have been open for just over a year; they each opened less than a week before last year’s crawl, and I’m very glad they’re both still here. Creative Yarns carries a lot of Debbie Bliss booklets but they didn’t have the ones I was looking for, so my search continued. It’s just as well, I’m still working my way through all the Noro I bought there last year.

Yarns In The Farms

Yarns In The Farms is always worth a stop, even if it is tiny and gets a little too crowded for my comfort zone during yarn crawls. My sister picked up a Classic Elite yarns pattern booklet, and I bought an adorable pattern for knitted Russian matryoshka dolls.  I have a thing for matryoshka dolls. It calls for Malabrigo but I’m not going to buy expensive yarn for these, I’ll probably purchase some Knit Picks in some obnoxious cheerful colors instead.

All of the shops so far are fairly close to each other, but the real road trip is the drive up to Gloucester. I can’t visit Gloucester without stopping into Coveted Yarn. I wish I lived closer (or they were closer to me!) so I could go to their knit nights and evening classes. I love CY because they’re my local source for spinning fiber. I order a lot of fiber online but nothing beats being able to see the colorways right in front of you instead of having to go by an online photo.  CY always hosts Mad Color Fiber Arts, and this year she took over the entire back room. I can’t resist racks full of gloriously vibrant spinning fiber! Check it out in this photo! I took my time picking out which colors to buy, while keeping an eye on the ridiculously long line at the checkout counter. By the time I joined it there were 16 people in line ahead of me! But CY fans are that hardcore, and CY reciprocated the love by handing out door prizes to everyone in line–just for waiting in line! Joey C., a Gloucester blogger, filmed this really cool video on Saturday and you can live vicariously through it here. I love how he can’t quite believe how bananas people can get over yarn. Believe. But he totally gets into the spirit of the event, and his enthusiasm is wonderful.

I bought two colorways of Mad Color, a superwash merino/nylon/wool top in bright pink, red and brown, and a polwarth top in purple/hot pink/violet shades. I bought a verrry chunky Louet bottom-whorl spindle at Coveted. It was so warm on Sunday evening that I took the purple roving and the spindle out onto my porch, where I spent a frustrating hour trying to spin the polwarth. The staple is shorter on this fiber and I think the Louet spindle is too heavy. I dropped the spindle a lot more than I usually do. Also, it wobbles while it spins. I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to do that, so either I’m doing something wrong, or the fiber isn’t the right kind for this weight. Unless I got a defective spindle…but I’m sure I’m the problem, somehow.  It would be nice to know the weight of the spindle but it wasn’t on the label. Two ounces, maybe?  My first ever spindle was a Louet top-whorl spindle of a similar weight, and I avoided it for a long time because I didn’t think it spun well. But once I had more experience at spinning I was able to get the same results with it as with my lighter spindles.  I’ll try to spin the polwarth on another spindle, but for now I’m a little disappointed because I really want to use the bottom-whorl.

Why doesn't Louet put the sheep illustration on top of the whorl, where the spinner can see it?

Saturday was exhausting, but the crawl was only half over.  On Sunday I headed North for more yarny goodness. I’ll tell you all about it in my next post. Good night!

It’s That Time Of Year!

It’s March, and North Shore yarnies know what that means: Yarn Crawl 2012!! Boston’s North Shore’s yarn shops are getting ready for the yarn-hungry hordes to invade in two weeks. This is the third annual crawl, and it gets bigger every year.  Last year was the first time I attended, and I had a blast stretching my crawl out over the weekend.  I can plot the routes two different ways: North up to Newburyport one day, and East out to Gloucester the next. Both are enjoyable scenic drives and there are plenty of great places to eat along each route. Saturday should be especially fun this year since it’s Saint Patrick’s Day.  Some green yarn and green beer are in order, I think, though I’m wondering what to do for dinner, since there may be a lot of folks out celebrating (i.e., imbibing) that night. :0

I am really, truly going to try to rein in the spending but as usual, I can’t make any promises. The fact that I get paid that Friday doesn’t help my resolve to not spend, yet enables me to spend if I want to. What to do?!?! What I should do is pick a project, just one project, and make that my goal for the crawl. I cohabitate with way too much yarn as it is, but the danger lies in accessories and acoutrements:  I can always be persuaded by books, magazines and project bags. I’m trying to narrow down the project to shop for. A sweater would be lots of fun, though there are some awfully cute stranded mitten patterns floating around on Ravelry, and the Hippocampus mittens are calling my name. Who doesn’t love adorable little seahorses? There are some mindblowing color combinations out there and I’m leaning toward a bright oceany blue background with a bright orange or white seahorse. The contrast has to be high or the seahorse gets lost in the background. The Kauni yarn the pattern calls for is gorgeous but $29.95 a skein. There’s lots of Zauerball colors out there to choose from…but then again, I have tons of Socks That Rock yarn lying around unused that I could–should–use instead.

Dreaming and planning is almost as much fun as crawling and shopping, yes?

In other events around town, the Salem Film Festival is in full swing this week.  It’s a weeklong all-documentary film festival that has really grown in the five years since its inception. Films from all over the world are shown and in some cases, premiered here. There are so many wonderful documentaries screened, and this year is no exception.  I don’t have time to see everything I want to, but if there was one movie I had to see this year, it was Becoming Santa. I had several chances to view it this week so I picked Sunday, when it was shown in a much smaller screening room, with only 18 seats. 

L.A.-resident Jack Sanderson lost his sense of Christmas spirit after the death of his mother; this film documents his journey to regain it by attending Santa school and training to work as Santa Claus during the Christmas season.  Jack takes us along for the ride, through an intense weekend of Santa training and on to his many Santa gigs, including mall appearances, parades and the Polar Express. 

This movie was at times hysterically funny and heartwarmingly tender.  I laughed, I cried, I cheered for Jack as his often sardonic observations gave way to the Christmas insight he was searching for.  The audience was small but enthusiastic. I love when a theater audience applauds after a show! If you’ve ever believed in Santa–or perhaps still do–this movie will truly move you.