Friday, May 30, 2008

Cold Feet

I was lazy this morning; there is just no other way to describe it. I was working in the study and complaining to myself how my toes kept getting cold and how awful that was (insert grumbling about how it is supposed to be warm on the second-to-last day in May). The smart thing to do would have been to get up and walk down the hall to the dresser in the bedroom and grab a pair of socks. But no, I was lazy, and just grabbed the recently finished hand-knit sock that was sitting on my desk. Good, one foot was warm. Another hour or so goes by and the toes on my bare foot start to feel like icicles. Do I get up and go find a complete pair of socks? No. But I do spy another lone hand-knit sock over on the bookcase and thus solve my problem. With this:

On the left is plain stockinette from Lorna's Laces, color: Pioneer (and yes, I still have to weave in the ends). On the right is a super-comfy merino/cashmere/nylon blend from Creatively Dyed.

See? Second sock syndrome can actually help keep your feet warm. To be fair, the mate of the sock on the right is on the needle and almost done and the Lorna's Laces mate is slated to start when that one is finished.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dyeing and Other Adventures

Well, I had good intentions of posting many times over the past few weeks. During that time, I learned that not only do good intentions not write posts by themselves but they actually make it harder. The thought process usually goes something like: oh my, so many things to write about, where should I start? Oops, don't have pictures for that, I'll just wait until I gan get some light/time/you name it. Can you see where I am going with this? So this is going to be a bit random but at least it is a post and not merely good intentions.

I finished spinning up the blue-face leicester 3-ply sock yarn over the weekend. I have some gauges in my fingers from drawing out the chains for navajo-plying to prove it. 430 yards of sock weight. This is what it looked like when it was done:

Then I decided to have some fun with Kool-Aid. This is the Knitty article that I used for some pointers. After the first run through with the dye, this is what I had:

Ok, I know that the color is hard to see but suffice it to say that it was pale pink. A really pretty pale pink with subtle variations and lots of depth but I just do not wear that color. So back into the dye pot it went.

This is what it looked like after dunk number 2:

Pretty, but still pink. Back into the dye pot a third time. Hopefully I can snap a few pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Apologies to Thumper

There are some yarn shops where you feel welcome the moment you walk in the door and where you always look forward to returning. And then there are others where you will never walk in the door again.

I love a shop with a varied and tasteful selection from which to browse but the most important thing, that which will bring me back again and again, is the atmosphere created by the staff. The best shops are warm and welcoming without becoming oppressive. These are places where you can wander to your heart’s content, have questions answered thoughtfully and with kindness, and ultimately be left to browse and pet as you please.

This post, however, is not about one of those shops (although I will end with a shameless pitch for my absolute favorite yarn shop in Chicago); rather, this is about a shop to which I will never return and why.

There is one yarn shop in the city that I have found slightly off-putting but always came back to from time to time, until last Thursday. This particular shop is conveniently located, offers frequent sales, and, most importantly, is the only place within city limits (and accessible via public transportation, no less) that carries Fleece Artist, which I adore.

Now here comes the part where I would make Thumper sad. I have always tried to follow that childhood advice (“If you don’t have something nice to say . . . “) but here I think it worthwhile to examine the difference between shops to which I will joyfully return time and time again and those to which I will never come back.

This particular shop (and no, I won’t tell you its name) sent out an email last Thursday announcing a Mother’s Day sale where everything in the store was 25% off. I have been displeased there in the past but not so much as would turn me away from a quarter drop in the price of my beloved Fleece Artist.

On previous occasions I have found the staff there at best condescending and at worst overbearing. The women who work there have usually been perfectly nice but all seem to assume that every customer who walked in the door needed some hand-holding when choosing yarn and starting a project. I consider myself to be an accomplished knitter and a progressing spinner (accomplished will take a while yet) and do not walk into yarn stores to be coddled. It is just not my cup of tea. However, for Fleece Artist and a sale, I can put up with a bit of condescension.

Unfortunately, that was not what I got last Thursday. I had managed to catch a ride home that evening with my husband (I try to avoid the CTA at rush hour if at all possible) and off we went to the shop, visions of fiber braids dancing in my head. After making my selections (all in very predictable-for-me shades of green) we headed to the check-out counter. The woman at the register greeted us not with the kindness one usually expects at a yarn shop, or even politeness, but actually borderline rudeness. I had brushed this off as just a symptom of someone having a busy day – the shop had, after all, just sent out an email promising 25% off and it could not have been a quiet day. However, she then looked over my shoulder at my husband standing behind me, saw that he was male and thus presumably not a knitter (for the record, he is quite a proficient knitter and I proudly wear his works) and proceeded to ignore him for the rest of the transaction.

One of the most important things for me when I go to a yarn shop is how the employees treat my companions, who may or may not be knitters but who nevertheless have been known to return to a shop to secretly fetch some item over which I had fawned in their presence. At the very least, it seems good business sense to acknowledge the person who pulls out the credit card.

It was this disrespect for my husband, on top of less than stellar experiences in the past, that made Thursday evening the last time that I will ever set foot in that store.

And the funny thing about the whole experience was that on that very same day I had received an email letting me know that I had won two skeins of hand-dyed sock yarn from Creatively Dyed for commenting on her blog about all of the wonderful things about my absolute favorite yarn shop in Chicago: My Sister’s Knits.

Now for my shameless plug: My Sister’s Knits is just that sort of wonderfully welcoming shop that I mentioned at the beginning of the post. The owner is kind and gracious and a pleasure to know (plus she has a beautiful selection of yarns). And you know what? My husband likes it too!

Since one cannot have a blog post without at least a picture or two, here is what I picked up last Thursday.

I got this:

And two of these:

Which I pre-drafted into this:

In other news, the Baby Surprise Jacket is done!

(Yes, it still needs buttons)