Category Archives: Stash Enhancement

Good-bye Purl By the Sea-Another Local Yarn Store Closes

Overcast weather on Montauk beach

Overcast weather on Montauk beach

Despite the forecasts for heavy rain, my husband and I took off Friday and headed out to Montauk for one last visit to Purl By the Sea before Nora Franzetti closed its doors. Ever since we first discovered Purl By the Sea nestled behind the main drag in Montauk, it’s been the bright spot in our visits to the beach. It’s always been welcoming and friendly circle of knitters. Women who live in the area combined with those who vacation there regularly. Further, it had a great assortment of yarns including low priced work horses such as Lamb’s Pride as well as unusual high end specialty yarns. To add to the allure, Nora kept an amazing selection of knitting books.

The vibe in this store is wonderful and it’s closing is real loss to the knitting community. I feel very lucky to consider myself a part of this circle of women. They were very welcoming to my husband who tended to quietly take up residence on their husband’s rocker in the back corner.

We thought that we would be able to beat the rain. But by the time we got to the beach, it started drizzling and after an hour of camping out beneath our rain gear, we decided to head for Purl By the Sea.

Since it was our last visit, we spent most of the day there. It was the beginning of the 50% off sale and stuff was flyingout of the store.

I bought the last two Barbara Walker stitchonaries (Volumes 3 and 4). I also bought a 47 inch Addi in case I make another Hemlock Ring Blanket. Of course, I couldn’t resist at least one more addition to my stash. I bought a few hanks of Blue Sky Baby Alpaca to make a scarf which should be very soft!

Since the weekday trains back to Manhattan are scarce. We walked around Montauk in the light rain and headed back to the beach for a last look at the cloudy sky.

We treated ourselves to East by North East, a fancy local restaurant, which serves pan Asian cuisine. It was a nice way to cap off the day. Of course, our train didn’t get back into Manhattan until about 2.00am…

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

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Yarn Shopping in the Valley – LA Bound with Yarn

These days, I try not to travel without making at least one stop for yarn. It allows me to expand my stash and gives me a great souvenir from the place. Since I  was headed to Los Angeles for  a long weekend with my sister and her family, I checked on the status of some of my favorite Los Angeles based yarn emporiums and was disappointed, although not surprised to discover that they had closed. Fortunately, one of the members of my Upper Westside Knitters group had relocated to the Los Angeles area and visited our group earlier in the summer. She recommended a store in Burbank which is part of “The Valley” called Unwind. Also, Megan who had worked at The Point had recommended another store in Studio City called the Stitch Cafe .

These two stores made a great afternoon knitting expedition which was relatively easy to accomplish since the stores are close by Los Angeles standards (i.e. less than a half hour away.) The fact that my sister lives in one of the neighboring suburbs was an added bonus (translation: limited driving to get there.) Please note that if you’re in Los Angeles and decide to visit these shops which I strongly recommend that you do, make sure to check the addresses. The stores blend with the other retailers in the neighborhood so that they can be difficult to spot if you’re driving and looking at the same time.

Unwind-Burbank, CA Yarn Haven

Unwind-Burbank, CA Yarn Haven

Unwind Yarn Store WIndow All Dressed Up

Unwind Yarn Store WIndow All Dressed Up

Heartland Shawl Inspiration at Unwind

Heartland Shawl Inspiration at Unwind

Yarn greets shoppers at Unwind in Burbank, CA

Yarn greets shoppers at Unwind in Burbank, CA

Comfortable seating at Unwind, Burbank, CA

Comfortable seating at Unwind, Burbank, CA

Unwind is a relatively large store from my New York City perspective. It has a specious feel to it and there’s a big table in the back that was filled with women working on various projects including Stephanie the owner. The store was friendly which I can’t say about all of the shops that I’ve visited in Los Angeles. It had a great selection of yarns and there was a variety of projects that were knitted to entice all levels of knitters. I was inspired to make the Heartland Shawl based on the sample in the window.

I bought a skien of a locally dyed sock yarn by Pagewood Farm called Chugiak with the intention of making a small shawl. The color had the wonderful name: Mardi Gras. It was a pinkish yarn with bursts of green and dark blue.  I must admit that sock yarn makes a wonderful souvenir purchase since it’s large enough to create something without making a dent in either your budget or your stash. (Note to self consider becoming proficient at socks.) I would have loved to stay and knit but I wanted to make another stop before returning home.

Stitch Cafe in Studio City, CA-See the knitting needles?

Stitch Cafe in Studio City, CA-See the knitting needles?

Yarn colorfully arranged at Stitch Cafe in Studio City, CA

Yarn colorfully arranged at Stitch Cafe in Studio City, CA

I also stopped at Stitch Cafe in Studio City which is a cozy little yarn shop where the yarn is tucked into overflowing containers. It has a big table in the center of the store where a knitter was getting help with her work. There were some yarn brands that were new to me and some wonderful Malabrigo sock yarn. I loved the feel of the store and believe that if I lived in the vicinity that I would become a regular here as well. Unfortunately, my sister called to let me know that she was on her way home so I cut my visit short.

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Mom’s Improvised Sweater – Knitting Instructions Included

 

Mom's Improvised Drop Shoulder Ribbed Sweater

Mom's Improvised Drop Shoulder Ribbed Sweater

To show that I come by my ability to visualize and adapt knitting patterns naturally, I am showing off my mother’s grey improvised sweater. 

I gave my mom this wonderful grey linen blend which contains flecks of white since my mother always has room for one more grey item in her wardrobe. One of my uptown knitting buddies had given it to me when she was destashing. It seems that my knitting friends all know that I can envision how to turn some longer cherished stash into something wonderful. 

Since there was sufficient yarn for a sweater, my mother decided to adapt a simplified pattern that she had used before. At its core, the pattern consists of two rectangles which are sewn together at the shoulders forming a boat neck. Then stitches are picked up for sleeves which are knit down. This has the great advantage of allowing the knitter to measure the length as she goes which is good because the sweater has a dropped shoulder.

Before she started, my mom knit a swatch and we measured it. The swatch allowed my mom to try out a couple of variations of stitches. Then I took her measurements and applied some easy math to get the basic cast on. And she was off and knitting. 

You’ll note that my mom used a variety of ribbed stitches to make the sweater more fitted. 

If you’re interested in trying it, follow these easy steps:

1] Knit a swatch of at least 20 stitches using the appropriate needle for the yarn and your gauge.

2] Take your measurements. Add 2 inches to your widest measurement and divide that number by 2.

3] Multiply the number of stitches per inch by half of your measurement to get your cast on number of stitches.

4] Knit 2 rectangles to the length that you want your sweater to be. My mom knit about 24 inches.

5] Sew the shoulders together (Take the measurement from step 2 and subtract 8 inches. Then divide by 2 this is the number of inches that you need to sew on each shoulder.)

6] Pick up stitches at the armhole. My mother used 8 inches * her stitch gauge (with half of the stitches picked up on either side.) She then slowly decreased to her wrist. I usually decrease every 10 rows a couple of times, then 8 rows a couple of times, etc. until I have the appropriate amount for my wrist.

Happy knitting!

Montauk Bound With Knitting

Montauk Sweatshirts for Sale

Montauk Sweatshirts for Sale

 

We love the beach in Montauk which can be relatively empty (at least by New Yorkers’ standards) on holiday weekends. It’s a wonderful expanse of beach with rolling waves that make for peaceful rejuvenation. Of course, it’s not every Manhattanite’s idea of a “local” beach but my husband and I make it an adventure and it beats battling the local airport or driving out of town.

The over 3 hour train trip from NYC’s Penn Station to Montauk gives us an opportunity to sleep, read or knit. We enjoy bagels and coffee on the train and are ready to hit the beach by the time we get to Montauk.  There are a variety of local taxi companies that meet the infrequent trains making getting to the center of town a breeze. From there we can walk to the beach, food and Purl By the Sea.

Atlantic Ocean Beach - Relatively Empty at Montauk

Atlantic Ocean Beach - Relatively Empty at Montauk

Kite Surfers at Montauk Use Strings Differently from Knitters

Kite Surfers at Montauk Use Strings Differently from Knitters

I always love visiting Purl By the Sea. While most knitting stores attract wonderful knitters and crocheters, there’s always laughter around the knitting table at Purl By the Sea. It sends out such good vibe that my husband likes sitting in the spouse rocker and hearing the joyful chatter.  

 

Entrance to Purl By the Sea with Flowers Blooming

Entrance to Purl By the Sea with Flowers Blooming

On July 5th, there was a local spinner giving a demonstration and selling her roving and yarn, both merino and alpaca. The spinner’s wares were spread through out the store.

Spinning demonstration at Purl By the Sea

Spinning demonstration at Purl By the Sea

Spinner's Wares at Purl By the Sea

Spinner's Wares at Purl By the Sea

 

Local Spinner's Roving at Purl By the Sea

Local Spinner's Roving at Purl By the Sea

Additionally, Nora Franzetti, the owner of Purl By the Sea, had been to TNNA and stocked up on new yarns and wonderful books. She brought back samples of yarns and books that she’s considering. She showed me a stack of signed knitting books to make any knitter jealous.

Since I am still swatching and testing the Botanica Medallion from Summer 2009 Vogue Knitting, I bought more Tahki Cotton in aqua and forest green to add more color to the top.  I was lucky that I picked a color that many of the Purl By the Sea knitters don’t like!

For me, the entire day was a knitting adventure. I had time to work on several projects including the Fountain Pen Shawl and the Hemlock Blankie which has been a great beach project. 

Hemlock Ring Blankie on Montauk Beach

Hemlock Ring Blankie on Montauk Beach

 

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Memorial Day Means Montauk & Yarn

Montauk-The End

Montauk-The End

As beach-loving New Yorkers, My husband and I have ready access to numerous beaches including famous beaches within the city’s boundaries and those along the southern coast of Long Island and the eastern edge of New Jersey. Given our penchant for relatively empty beaches, an oxymoron in New York City in the summer, we like to take a day trip to the land’s end otherwise known as Montauk. Of course, the three hour plus train trip isn’t everyone’s idea of heaven but I bring knitting and my husband brings reading.

 

The beaches are wonderful with their sparse dunes and bent over wind bent trees. We were among the hardy souls who braved the windy weather on Memorial Day. We nestled just below the dunes to be sheltered from the wind which  was too much for our umbrella. We needed to wrap up with hoods to keep the flying sand out of our hair.  The sands buried our blanket so completely that if we hadn’t be laying on it, we would have never found it.

Dunes at Montauk Beach

Dunes at Montauk Beach

Montauk Beach - Deserted due to wind

Montauk Beach - Deserted due to wind

By mid-afternoon, we were ready for a visit to Purl By the Sea. Purl By the Sea is a wonderful local yarn store run by Nora Franzetti  who is also a real estate agent in Montauk. The store is packed with a great selection of yarns from the budget conscious Lamb’s Pride to small producers. There’s a large table in the middle of the store that her husband built. It always has a great of friendly women crowded around with lots of food, chocolate and laughter. My husband who was nestled in the spouse’s rocker said that he felt good listening to the laughter. 

Cotton Color Selection at Purl by the Sea

Cotton Color Selection at Purl by the Sea

Yarns burst out to greet knitters at Purl by the Sea

Yarns burst out to greet knitters at Purl by the Sea

Manos deep color hangs over the knitting table at Purl by the Sea

Manos deep color hangs over the knitting table at Purl by the Sea

I bought some aqua colored Tahki cotton to make the Medallion top from the cover of Vogue Knitting Summer 2009. (Since I had 4 1/2 balls of white in my stash from a yarn swap, I only bought 5 balls. due to the fact that  the women tried to talk me into another color, I think that there will be more if I run out.) I plan to make it on my vacation in June.

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

MDSW-Fiber Festival Here We Come!

 The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is held the first weekend in May in West Friendship, Maryland. It claims to be the largest fiber festival in the U.S. 

For me it’s a knitting adventure. I meet a group of other knitters at a deli at 35th Street and Sixth Avenue to board a bus that leaves the city at 7.00 a.m. sharp for the Maryland fairgrounds. This was my fifth pilgrimage to the MDSW. I join friends and others on this bus. This group started as part of BAKG, the Big Apple Knitters Group. Now  it’s a word of mouth event that fills up quickly!

We all board the bus with anticipation of the wonderful yarns and fibers that we will see and buy. There’s excitement in the air. Regardless of age, we’re like small children who have been waiting for Christmas all year. We can’t wait to get to the fairgrounds and drool over the wonderful display of goods.

Despite the clouds and forecasted poor weather, we came prepared. By the time we arrived in Maryland, the rain had already passed through. The outdoor stalls had temporary coverings. The lines for the fairgrounds were short and buses were re-routed to avoid muddy parking.

As a veteran of four previous MDSW fairs, I had a couple of early stops on my itinerary. Living in Manhattan, I have access to a wide variety of yarns. Therefore, I use festivals like MDSW to buy fibers from local producers and rare breeds. 

First on my list was Spinning Flock Farm, a small Maryland farm which has a small offering of Blue Face Leceister, which is a rare breed. I love it for its ability to show stitch definition and the soft material it makes. It’s wool that’s not itchy! Spinning Flock Farm generally uses old fashioned colors. In addition, they have a variety of other types of wool. I always buy enough wool for a sweater.

Spinning Flock Farm Sign

Spinning Flock Farm Sign

Blue Face Leiceister in Blues from Spinning Flock Farm

Blue Face Leiceister in Blues from Spinning Flock Farm

Making First Purchase at MDSW at Spinning Flock Farm

Making First Purchase at MDSW at Spinning Flock Farm

I stopped by the Ravelry gathering at the Rabbit Hatch and got my buttons. My husband had made me a tailored one to promote this blog.  The place was packed with Ravelers and their friends. Everyone is wearing knitted garments and are intoxicated with the fiber fumes.

 

Ravelry Gathering at MDSW-Distributing buttons

Ravelry Gathering at MDSW-Distributing buttons

 

Ravelry members in knitted garments

Ravelry members in knitted garments

 

 

 

Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief in Swallowtail Lace Shawl at MDSW

Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief in Swallowtail Lace Shawl at MDSW

 

Since I had visited Tess Yarns in Portland last summer and figured that I would have an opportunity to do so again this summer, I had decided not to stop by their tent. But…the burst of color lured me in. I considered buying some of her lace merino which is a great buy at $10.00 a skein. Instead I opted for two skeins of a blue-green super wash merino. It should be just enough for a long sleeve sweater if there’s not much design.

 

Tess Yarns Lace Weight Selection

Tess Yarns Lace Weight Selection

 

Tess Yarns selection by color not fiber!

Tess Yarns selection by color not fiber!

 

Melinda (aka Tess) taking the money at MDSW

Melinda (aka Tess) taking the money at MDSW

 

 

 

On the recommendation of a fellow lace knitter, I made my way to Spirit Trail Fiberworks. It was a small booth in the main barn filled with color. I found a wonderful wine colored merino lace weight. I would have bought 2 skeins but alas it was the only one in that colorway. I am hoping to make a small shoulderette from one of the recent Knitty patterns.

The most unusual find was a blend including dog hair (yes you read that correctly). At $24.00 for 200 yards, I decided it was a bit too exotic to try. It was made by a small mill where a woman comber her dog team and they used the hair.

This year, I was attracted to the Wensleydale Long Wool again. Last year, I came close to purchasing some for its amazing luster. One of my fellow knitters has been making a shawl from some olive colored wool. Since I still worried about the “itchiness factor”, I only bought enough for a shawl as a test. It’s a deep, rich grey. It breaks my rule of only buying fromlocal producers since it’s from Yorkshire, England but I am hoping that it makes a wonderful shawl for the fall.

 

Flying Fibers is a family business

Flying Fibers is a family business

 

In addition to the fiber buying frenzy, there are wonderful exhibits of hand made goods. I use these pieces for future inspiration. 

Of course, there’s the usual fair fare. It’s a combination of lamb dishes mixed with fresh lemonade, ribbon potatoes and ice cream.

 

MDSW ice cream offering

MDSW ice cream offering

Ribbon potatoes are a big hit at MDSW

Ribbon potatoes are a big hit at MDSW

 

Then there are the animals who are really the center of the show (although unlike Rhinebeck, I don’t go out of my way to walk through the barns.)

 

Sheep taking a rest from the excitement at MDSW

Sheep taking a rest from the excitement at MDSW

 

Alpacas shorn for the MDSW

Alpacas shorn for the MDSW

 

 

For entertainment, there were several groups of musicians playing folk music. It’s a good place to park the less wool-friendly members of your group.

 

Musicians play folk music at MDSW

Musicians play folk music at MDSW

More musicians attract listeners at MDSW

More musicians attract listeners at MDSW

 

By 4.30p.m., my New York bound knitting friends wander back to the bus. Each ladened with packages and feeling happy. The bus home is an exchange of seeing what types of fibers and colors we have purchased. Everyone has found some wonderful wool to make a stunning piece. Tired from the adventure, many sleep or knit as we motor back to New York City.

Submitted by: Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief

Another Spin on Free Knitting Projects…

In her April 7th  post entitled “Free Knitting Now, …” on the Mason Dixon Knitting blog, Ann makes a strong case for looking through your pile of UFOs to work up new enthusiasm for these forgotten projects. Going through your closets and other hiding places to collect your partially finished projects enables you find a treasure trove of potential knitting projects. Since the materials for these projects were purchased in the past, they are essentially FREE!

Another way to extend your knitting stash that doesn’t require any monetary investment is to have a yarn swap with your knitting buddies. The great part of a yarn swap is that it allows you to go through your stash and rediscover the yarns that you really love and forgot about as well as to give yarns that you no longer want a new home. Perhaps you got a great deal on some end of season balls of wool or can no longer stand the three bags of lime green eyelash that you made all of your holiday gifts from a few years back, just pack them off.

In return, you get to enhance your collection with yarns that your friends no longer want. It’s a great win-win. Recently, a few of my knitting friends have hosted these types of events and it’s been a great boon to my stash. Further, it’s allowed me to get rid of yarns that I no longer wanted.

Submitted by Knitted Yarns Editor-in-Chief