Monthly Archives: August 2012

Stephen West’s Spectra

I can’t believe today is the last day of August. It’s the start of the last weekend of summer. Monday is Memorial Day. I don’t know where the summer went, but I for one am always happy to wave goodbye to summer and to embrace fall. I look forward to some good sweater-knitting weather, but in the meantime, a scarf is a nice transition project to bridge summer and fall, don’t you think?

Today I took my knitting to the park for a photo shoot.  It was glad to get out of the house, and cooperated with me fully while I subjected it to a variety of artsy fartsy, yet always dignified, poses. This is Stephen West’s Spectra, a nice unisex scarf that can be so different from one knitter to the next due to the staggering color possibilities! Why, there are over 1500 projects on Ravelry, if one cares to scroll through all of them. I began knitting Spectra on August 12th in a short-row class at one of my LYS’s, Cranberry Fiber Arts in Hamilton, MA.  I had never yet taken a class at this particular shop and I was eager to do so. I was not disappointed.  The class was small, only four of us, but Laurie gave us the benefit of all her wisdom and skill, making sure everyone had at least one wedge of the scarf done so that everyone understood all the steps and could continue at home.  Laurie rocks!

I am so in love with knitting this scarf. Stephen guarantees that knitters won’t be able to resist watching the colors change, and damn it, he’s right! I’ve become addicted to what I call “wedging.” Wedging is fun! Wedging is fabulous! Wedges are handy because they provide a great stopping point when I put the project down. There’s only one little, teensy, rather daunting detail of this scarf: it requires 86 wedges total.  There’s no doubt the results are worth it, judging by all the incredible photos on Ravelry. It just takes time to get to the end. It’s all well and good to count by hand the first few wedges, but once they accumulate, there’ s no way I’m going to run my hands up the scarf, counting each and every wedge once I get to, oh, twenty? Thirty?  I could use a row counter to count each wedge instead of row, but I opted for an even lower-than low-tech solution to my counting conundrum. Behold. —>

Simple (and sticky) yet effective. I was using the sticky note to cover each row as I knit it when I began the pattern, but the progression is easy to memorize once you get the hang of it.

The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn. Laurie knit a sample for her shop in sport weight, so I picked out similar yarn for my Spectra because her sampled used Noro Silk Garden Lite, and I loved the colors. The solid color is Filatura Di Crosa’s Sportwool in medium gray. The variegated yarn is Noro Silk Garden Lite in color 2o38.

I’ve been knitting this for the better part of the past two weeks. I’ve had to put it down a couple of times when the yarn started sticking to the needles because it grew too hot in my sad, air conditioner-less little house.  Autumn can’t come soon enough.

Spectra wasn’t the only one enjoying the last days of summer.

I’m beginning to see wedges everywhere.


Fiber Revival 2012

Another August, another Fiber Revival has come and gone; the chance to sit, knit, spin and shop on the beautiful grounds of the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm in Newbury, MA.  The weather for Saturday had been forecast as rainy with severe thunderstorms all week so I wasn’t sure I would even go until yesterday morning.  The sun was shining and there weren’t any black clouds in the sky so I took a chance and drove up to the Merrimack Valley early in the morning, hoping to get an hour or two in before the weather broke. Fortunately, it never did.  Yesterday was warm and glorious. There was yarn! There was beer! There was vintage baseball! Fiber enthusiasts gathered together in circles with their spinning wheels, and set up chairs under some awnings to work on their knit and crochet projects. One lady walked around the farm spinning on her drop spindle. Walking and spinning! As far as I could tell she didn’t drop it once. The farm’s MSPCA-rescued animals basked in the sunlight and the attention from the fiber-crazy (mostly) women who took over their stomping grounds for the day.

The festival seemed a little smaller to me this year, with fewer vendors.  A few local shops who set up in past years were absent yesterday.  The vendors who attended did a brisk business. There were plenty of spinning wheels to try, and The Yarn And Fiber Company  brought spindles made by the shop owner’s fiance. They were beautiful. I certainly don’t need another spindle, but that’s never stopped me before.  There was rosewood and kingswood and–be still my heart–purple heart! I was very tempted by the beautiful kingswood spindles, but I’ve been dying for an all-purple heart spindle for ages, plus I liked the whorl’s shape, sort of like a medieval scepter.  A new spindle purchase must be accompanied by a new fiber purchase (my own rule) so I picked out this beautiful lavender and blue merino/silk blend in a color called Watercolor from Enchanted Knoll Farm. There were so many beautiful braids to choose from!

My final purchase of the day was some gorgeous blue laceweight wool/silk yarn from Pinestar Studio. I have a shawl pattern I want to start making, but I’ve been re-thinking my choice of dk cotton yarn.  This will be much lighter and prettier for a shawl.  I know I sound like a broken record, but there it is, that turquoise blue color again. I know. I can’t help it. I’m fixated on it.

Speaking of being fixated, please welcome once again: chickens!

I know I post about chickens more than a person has a right to, but check him out! You have to admit he’s stately and magnificent! Look at that regal bearing! 🙂 His name is Rusty and he had full run of the farm, hanging out with the festival goers, allowing farm staff to carry him around, and generally coming thisclose to everyone so he could emit the loudest cock-a-doodle-doo right in everyone’s ear.  Here, he’s standing right in front of me while I sat and ate lunch.  He stood about a foot high.

He was especially drawn to the spinning wheels. Here’s Rusty holding court with the ladies who spin:

He milled around happily in the center of the spinning circle.  As you can see, everyone got a big kick out of meeting Rusty.  OK, that’s it with chickens.  For now…

There was a vintage baseball game taking place on the grounds, Essex, MA vs. Brooklyn, NY.  I was born in NYC, and I now live on the North Shore of Massachusetts, so I was really confused about who I should root for! Both teams seemed to be in white and blue, and I couldn’t tell who was who, so I went back to yarn buying.

I left the farm and headed down the street to Tender Crop Farm, a wonderful farm that has a huge indoor farm stand on premises.  There are animals in the fields and a small petting area, and a very New England-y gift shop on the second floor above the farm produce.  I picked out some beautiful peaches and asian pears, along with some small eggplants and a few ears of fresh corn.  Did you know that you can cook corn quickly indoors without having to boil it in a pot simply by leaving the husk on and microwaving the corn for 5 minutes? Neither did I! But I’m going to try it now.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Please enjoy some bucolic images of the beautiful Massachusetts countryside.

I never get tired of photographing this beautiful farmhouse. I want to live in it!

Barn and field, Tender Crop Farm

dried flowers hanging from the ceiling.


Vintage baseball teams. Old-style rules, no gloves.

Yarn for sale!

Beer truck’s here!