31 October 2012

October Winner!

TONS of entries this month! Heck yes! I wish I could send you all some of this gorgeous yarn...

BUT THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE. And that one happens to be:
ekatearcher! You guys actually might recognize her as the designer of this lovely sweater:
So congrats to her, and thank you all so much for entering to win! I'll be back tomorrow with another giveaway for you!
- YX

Rhinebeck: Other things to do

I gave you all a quick recap of my time at Rhinebeck, but the entire trip was really awesome. For those of you considering the trip, here are a few other things worth noting:

We flew into Hartford, CT. It was the same distance from our hotel in Fishkill as Albany's airport was (and Newark, NJ for that matter). Hartford was surprisingly the cheapest option. It also boasts and incredibly scenic drive into New York State. The weather was beautiful and in the upper 60's- fall foliage was in full swing.

On the way up to the fairgrounds, we passed the childhood home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Part of the National Park Service, the home looks lovely and is settled on some beautiful land. Here's an awesome vintage postcard:
Right after the entrance to the FDR home is the entrance to the Vanderbilt mansion. There are a ton of Vanderbilt mansions, for what it's worth. The gargantuan Biltmore Estate in Asheville and the famous Breakers mansion in Newport, RI. They're totally worth seeing, too. This home in New York is actually the very smallest of the Vanderbilt homes. At 54 rooms, it's practically microscopic.
Right. Teeny. The tour was excellent, showing us the ground and second floors, as well as the basement. Any fans of Downton Abbey/ Upstairs Downstairs will love to see the difference between the service and living spaces. Luckily, these particular Vanderbilts were super nice to their staff. And for those single ladies traveling to the Rhinebeck area, the tours ARE given by park rangers. In uniforms. Yes.

The grounds, which are also part of the park service, are beautiful. After the tour, which is an hour, we were allowed to wander around until sunset. The lawns and trees are spectacular, and the views of the Hudson are breathtaking.
Okay, not my best photo, but it was gorgeous. We were able to stop here on our way back to Fishkill after the fair on Saturday.

Something else noteworthy- there's a giant pedestrian bridge over the Hudson River- The Walkway Over the Hudson. It's beautiful, but if you're scared of heights, it's not the place for you. I think I peed myself a little when I realized there were PEOPLE UP THERE.

Sunday, we had to leave the area to head back to the airport. I wanted to stop by FDR's home, but we had my dog with us, so it was out of the question. Instead, we headed back toward Hartford a little early. We stopped at Creative Fibers, a super cute yarn store not far from the airport. If you're ever in the area, it's worth a stop. I didn't take any photos inside- to be respectful of the owner and staff- but the store is arranged by weights, with a ton of great choices beyond the standard Debbie Bliss/Rowan/Berroco trifecta you see pretty much everywhere.

With another 2 hours before we needed to report to the airport, we decided to take Roxy over to a nearby dog park for some pre-flight exercise. The park (Northwest Park in Hartford) was beautiful. The dog park was pretty standard, but we ended up just going for a walk around the rest of the park, instead. There were barns with animals, including a horse that Roxy decided was her friend:
And a ton of pretty barns and walking trails.

We took a short one that led us around a small loop and back to our car in perfect time to leave! My suitcase was filled with yarn, and I felt like the trip was an absolute success.

If any of you went to Rhinebeck, I'd love to hear about your time there, or what else you did in the area! And for the rest of you waiting on a winner for the October yarn giveaway, I'll be back later today to pick a winner!
- YX

26 October 2012

FO: Fisherman hat

I finished my fisherman hat. Love the shape and the feel of the Rialto DK!
The pattern, Stephanie Nicole's A Hat Fit for a Boyfriend, was super easy to follow and made a good product!

The pattern calls for the ribbing to display as 3x2, but I liked the look of the inside, instead. Either way, stretching the fabric out gives some nice, open ribs. I chose to cast on 90 stitches instead of the suggested 100, since the fabric was so stretchy. 

Thanks to my husband for being a patient model! I was woefully unprepared to model it myself!
- YX

23 October 2012

Rhinebeck Recap

Woah- with late flights and busy work days, I almost forgot-- I totally owe you guys a Rhinebeck recap!

We flew to Connecticut for the trip because it was about an hour and a half away from our hotel in Fishkill, same as the drive down from Albany. When I decided to go to Rhinebeck, it was so late in the game that most of the close hotels had been booked. We were able to get a pretty good rate at the Hyatt House Fishkill. The hotel was overrun, not with knitters, but with weddings! There were three different weddings and a few conferences at the hotel that weekend.

Our room, which was an "upgrade" thanks to a credit card thing we have, was comfortable but small. My photos weren't as nice as the hotel's, so here it is:

No big deal on the size, though. We knew we wouldn't spend much time there. They also allowed pets on site, which was great because we'd brought Roxy with us! She hung out in the hotel since Rhinebeck has a very clear, copiously repeated and advertised NO PET policy.

We checked in to the hotel on Friday evening, after spending the previous day in Rhode Island with my in-laws. Early to bed and ready to start the day!

Saturday morning, we got out of the hotel at around 7:30am. I was worried about getting to the fairgrounds on time, and I thought we were going to be late! The drive up was gorgeous, with tons of bright trees and a morning blanket of fog that dissipated as we drove further north. By the time we arrived at the fairgrounds, it was sunny and warm enough to leave our coats in the car.

We parked and someone pulled up next to us. She started waving, and after introducing herself, I realized it was my Ravelry/Twitter friend and blog reader, CicadaQueen! What luck to have a friend to stand in line with. It was 8:10 am when we reached the front gate, and CicadaQueen informed me that the fair started at 9... For some reason, I was convinced it began at 8! We hung around, as the line grew super long to get in:
At 9, we all piled in to the gate. Most people piled politely, but I was half annoyed/half amused to see some grown women actually pushing their way in ahead of others. It was kind of nuts!

We headed up the hill to Cephalopod Yarns. Their booth was at the back of the fairgrounds, in building 39.

Although we walked briskly, there was already a small crowd there! I hadn't seen their yarns in person before, so it was a special treat to me to be able to look at every base before choosing a few to purchase:
(I'll do a review on these later)

Afterward, I met up my good friend Athena! She lives near Rhinebeck, so it was a special treat to be able to not only visit but see the show with her. We spent the rest of the morning wandering all over- back and forth to the different areas. I think I had a hard time soaking it all in, so I kept moving on and realizing I'd missed something. We covered so much ground, and pretty soon it was noon, and time for the Ravelry meetup! I talked to a few people I knew from the site and grabbed a Ravelry button-- I also got to sneak in and grab a photo of the group while the real photographers took their photos:

After the meetup, it was time for lunch. I recorded a quick video while I waited for Andrew and Athena to grab their food:
After lunch, there were alpacas
Gorgeous trees

And exotic animals?
We left at the end of the day and had quite a few more adventures, which I can get to later... But here's a rundown of my impression of the show itself:

1) Not as crowded as expected. It was fairly easy to get around, although some booths are designed better for traffic. It was kind of hard to find an open table at lunch, but it WAS 12:30. Eating earlier (or later) would have solved that easily.

2) There was way more than just yarn and fiber. I expected live animals, but was surprised to see clothing, housewares, doodads and jewelry there, too. And a whole building dedicated to food :)

3) Tons of people wore knitgoods, which was awesome. I haven't been with a HUGE mass of people that were wearing hand knitted things before, so that made me happy.

4) The fairgrounds, city of Rhinebeck, and the general surrounding area are INCREDIBLE. The weather was beautiful all day, and I caught myself just soaking in the views and colors many times during the day.

5) The show is doable in one day... if you're not a spinner. I looked at a lot of booths and passed by most of them. I stopped for yarns that caught my eye, but generally just peeked and moved on. This may be a product of my stash size, but I wasn't looking to amass anything major. I do think I'd look at more stuff next year, but this year was really a great opportunity to understand the scope of the thing.

Verdict: Worth going, especially if you have other fiber enthusiasts to go with. Staying in Fishkill made the drive and entry traffic SO easy. Most of the traffic comes in from the north, so coming from the south is the way to go!

More on the area and other things we saw, later. Wow, this was a huge post!
- YX

19 October 2012


A quick video from the road! Blogging from a phone is a skill I'm not so handy at, apparently!


16 October 2012

FO: Jaina

The wool had finally dried last night, and I was able to get some shots of my completed Jaina sweater:

It's super warm and the fabric is excellent for cold weather. Unfortunately, I am kind of disappointed in the outcome. I knit the sweater small, knowing that alpaca has a tendency to grow. I blocked it out to my desired measurements as much as possible-- the sleeves fit well, but the length is still just way too short. The photo above shows the length better; it hits me right at the widest part of my hips, which is quite unflattering. 
I'm pretty disappointed that I haven't been able to get more length out of it. I think a second blocking may be in order, with a little more muscle. Although I'm not pleased with the length, I am super happy that some of the details, like the cabling on the back, came through well:
You can see the same cables on the front shoulder/yoke area:
This part of the sweater normally has gathers, but my blocking removed the majority of the drapiness. (That is totally a word, by the way. I know because I just made it up.)

The thing I like the most about the sweater is actually my modification to the collar. Instead of the double stockinette collar shown on the pattern, I went for a double ribbed collar:
I love it. Double ribbing is SO underrated, but it is a huge pain in the butt to do it... I mean, picking up collar/button band stitches takes forever, and you're essentially doubling that effort. You can pick them all up at once and attempt to divide them, or do as I did and finish the bottom collar, then pick up the top one and start again. 

I wanted to finish the sweater for Rhinebeck-- which is this Saturday- and I did. But if I were to go back afterward and make changes, I'd probably add some length onto the sweater. That would require some serious surgery- cutting the sweater above the pockets, knitting more length onto the bottom, then grafting/connecting the two pieces back together again. I'd also add some width to the collar(s), since the current sweater stays open entirely. Maybe I should just invest in a good shawl pin...
I think, overall, I really enjoyed the sweater process. The pattern was very nicely written and presented, but I'd caution anyone to possibly size up on this one, or at least really verify your gauge!

- YX

PS- We're halfway through the month on our October giveaway! Go here to enter!

15 October 2012

Review: Debbie Bliss Rialto DK

I'm a bit biased against Debbie Bliss yarns.

Don't get me wrong-- I own a bunch of different ones, and they're great for baby knits and finding dependable skeins in solid colors. Debbie Bliss yarns are great workhorses, and I always know, like Knitpicks or Rowan, I can go to the brand when my other options aren't great.

That said, I've been romanced by semi-solid hand-dyed yarns, and seeing a skein of something so... uniform in color... is a bit offputting.

Luckily for me, Debbie Bliss comes through when I need to knit man items. My husband is appreciates nicer indie yarns, but other guys on my Knit List are more typical. Solid colors. And by colors, I mean navy or black.

I just started a small project for a Christmas gift, and I remembered buying some Debbie Bliss Rialto DK at my local yarn shop. Rialto is a 100% wool DK yarn, and it's apparently washable, according to Ravelry's comments on the Rialto yarn page.

I like it for the squishiness. It has a fantastic bounce, and the fabric (on the 8's I'm using) is so nice and mooshy. The color is deep, too...

Oh, but the color... My new project:

...Really? Sigh. At least I'll have some nice photos of my completed, blocked Jaina sweater for you tomorrow. That's a promise.

And I also promise you some color in the near future...
- YX

09 October 2012


Okay, so I have finished the sleeves in my Jaina sweater. This is cause for celebration.

You'll just have to imagine me doing the Carlton Dance:

But the thing is, I have to finish the collar. And uh... I'M GOING ROGUE.

The collar is supposed to look like this:

It's a double collar. Stitches are picked up twice for that one area, and the edges are supposed to roll.

Well, I don't like that. No sir, not at all. I'm not a fan of rolled anything. I continually try to unroll and flatten things. I could do the collar with plain stockinette and slip a few edge stitches to try to get it to lay flat or something, but I feel like it'd be too plain without the roll.

So I'm doing this:
My fingers are holding onto the edge of the collar. I'm keeping the double collar look, but using double ribbing. I'm hoping for a ruffly-ish look. I'm also hoping that the ribbing isn't going to fight too much with the decorative motifs. The thing is, the sweater is so dark that I'm willing to give it a try. Were it lighter, I could see it being a real issue.

Hopefully it works out! Have you ever loved a pattern but disliked a detail? What did you change? How would you change the collar on this sweater?
- YX

04 October 2012

Shopping! Winter 2012/13

I've gotten a ton of catalogs recently, and I wanted to share more cute knit and knit-inspired things with you guys!

West Elm has this awesome cable-print rug. I love this, and I'm thinking about getting two little ones for the sides of the bed in my guest room. The sizes go from 2x3 all the way up to 5x8. It could be wintery or fit in well with summery themes, too, since you could always interpret it as a New England beachy/boaty vibe.

Free People always has great knitwear, and I found a few things that look downright hand knitted.
The Cloud Pattern Pullover looks like a cozy scrap sweater:

and the Animal Cardigan looks like it could be made from a multi-colored hand dyed yarn. Anyone else kind of think it looks like Wollmeise's Rhabarbar?

And Crate and Barrel is killing me with these hilarious/adorable knitted penguin Christmas ornaments:
I'll be on the lookout for more stuff as the season goes on! Have you found anything fun yet? Show me in the comments!
- YX

(October giveaway!)

01 October 2012

October Giveaway!

It is timeeeeee for a giveaway! Whooo!

What is it? It is this:

A skein of from superwash/nylon sock yarn from Pampered Pachyderm! I love this colorway- "Rain or shine"
It reminds me of rainy days and speckled coffee mugs and creeks in the fall. Gorgeous. I want to put it in my mouth hole and bite it.

To enter this month, check out Pampered Pachyderm's Etsy store and comment here with your favorite item. BONUS AWESOMENESS: For the month of October, Yarnexploder.com readers get 20% off from the Pampered Pachyderm Etsy store by using the code YEBLOG20 when you check out! It makes all of us a winner! Because, you know, sale yarn isn't stash yarn. It's magical extra!

Good luck for the month!
- YX

September Winner!

The random number generator picked comment #7 for this month's giveaway! 
Congrats, Silvie!
(Okay, I had the number generator thing on here, but the internet ate it. You'll have to trust me)
Look forward to the next giveaway, which will be coming this evening... It's GORGEOUS! Can't wait to show you!
- YX