Saturday, August 3, 2013


Last week I made a DIY lightbox for taking better pictures.

I used this tutorial. The process is extremely simple - take a large box, cut light panels into the sides, cover the sides with tissue paper, insert a piece of white posterboard for a nice smooth backdrop, and place under a light source.

I adore the clean, simple backgrounds that the lightbox gives me now... but it still doesn't help with my color inaccuracy problem. This laceweight, for example -

- should be a deep rich emerald. Instead, it looks blue-gray. (It looks blue-gray to you too, right? It isn't just my monitor?)

I also tried retaking photos of all the yarn I got in Reno, but since most of the colors didn't come out much better than the first set I took, I'll only show you the one that does look true to life now.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The rest of Reno.

I neglected to mention last time that Jimmy Beans has a hot tub full of yarn.

One of my goals in life has now been achieved.

I spent almsot two hours just wandering the Jimmy Beans warehouse, but eventually the yarn fumes heat and aridity wore me down - it was 104 degrees in Reno that day, and though the warehouse was big enough to retain some coolness, only the front portion of the store was actually air conditioned. After making my purchases (more on those in a bit) and recovering a bit in the front part of the store, Bandit and I headed back to our hotel for a nap. Later in the evening, when things had cooled down a bit, we went downtown for dinner.

There was a wonderful riverside terrace where we sat and watched the water and took in the city.

We wandered down the main street because Bandit wanted to get a picture of the famous "Little Big City" sign. Right next to the sign was a high-rise building with a rock-climbing wall built right into its face. It might be hard to see, but further courses follow those two stripes of dark "rock" right up to the top of the building.

Turning around, I saw... a knitting factory?!

(It was actually a music venue. That was disappointing.)

Dinner was at The Chocolate Bar. I cannot recommend this place highly enough. It's become my new gold standard for fine dining experiences. Almost everything was utterly divine, with the exception of the flatbread appetizer, which was merely delicious. I ordered the bacon-wrapped lamb, and couldn't open my eyes for a good thirty seconds during my first bite, I savored it so. It was surprisingly affordable, too, for such quality upscale food - a martini and two beers, an appetizer, two entrees and a fondue-for-two dessert came out to under $75, and if we had just gotten entrees, it would easily have been under $40. The only thing that might put people off is the vibe. It had a very strong hip-twenty-somethings feel, which suited me perfectly fine, but might be jarring to others.

The next morning we tried to visit Lake Tahoe, but since it was so packed, we ended up hiking around the adjacent but much smaller Lake Spooner instead.

All right.

Jimmy Beans purchases.

My current GTalk status, with apologies to Johnny Cash*, is: "I bought some yarn in Reno, just to see its dye... but I can't photograph it, and it makes me cry."

For some reason, I cannot photograph these colors properly. I spent a lot of time and fiddling with the camera and postprocessing in Photoshop, just trying to get them to come out right. Can't do it. They won't come through. I'm determined to build my long-desired DIY lightbox in the next few days to see if that will help. If I must, I will take these yarns back to Boulder with me and retake pictures with my own camera there, which has never given me this problem before. I will get better pictures, I swear.

So, when you see these first pictures, just understand that these are a pale shadow of the real yarn, okay? The real colors are ten times, a hundred time more glorious.

Anyway, I wanted to get beautiful luxury yarn. You don't drive seven hours to Reno in order to pick up two skeins of workhorse yarn, right?

So I looted the MadTosh.

Tosh Chunky, in Baltic. The real color is darker, more vibrant, a touch more greenish. This appears to be the closest we'll get to finding the mythical Bandit's Favorite Color (We make a game out of trying to find the exact perfect color. Really.) and it will become a DNA cabled scarf for him.

MadTosh Prairie, which is a laceweight single, in Stargazing. The real color is also darker and more luminous, ranging from forest green to teal to sapphire, in a spectrum that reminds me of the iridescence of a peacock's tail. It's beautiful in any light, but practically glows in direct sunlight.

Tosh Lace, in Lichen. This one is actually not too far off in color (by which I mean it doesn't make me want to bury my face in my hands and weep, merely somewhat sad). It has more forest green in it and less light purple in real life. It reminds me of my World of Warcraft character**, and no doubt at some point soon I'll be looking for foresty shawl patterns that will work well with this.

Handmaiden Sea Silk. (More or less the right color. It's very hard to screw up pale gray.) This is my second try with this yarn - the aftermath of the first project I tried out with it was not very pretty, but I'm willing to give it a second chance. Maybe I'll do another Commelina with it, now that badly-pooling colors can't interfere with the pattern, or maybe I'll find a different scarf pattern.

Finally, Lorna's Laces Solemate, a merino/viscose/nylon blend with the irresistible name Winter Is Coming. (The colors are just about between the ones shown in those two pictures.) Socks for myself are definitely on the horizon.

Edit: Also a Jimmy Beans project bag which I initially forgot about because I've already started putting it to use.



* Johnny Stash?

** She's usually a night elf, but is currently enjoying a brief stint as a troll. I spend a considerable amount of time and energy looking for the perfect yarn and patterns to try to capture her personality.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Great Jimmy Beans Pilgrimage.

Warning: massive amounts of photos ahead.

Let's skip over all the unimportant details about how we got to Reno, and get straight to what you're all dying to hear about, yes?

When we first went into Jimmy Beans, I was surprised and a little disappointed. It looked... just like your typical LYS.

But do you see that set of double doors hiding behind that rack of yarn? Beyond those doors was... the warehouse.

We were saved from sheer overwhelmed confusion by a gentleman named Gus, who gave us a lovely tour of the warehouse.

Then I... sort of went wild looking at all the yarns.

Tune in next time to see what I bought, and the rest of the Reno pictures!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Preparing for Reno!

Tomorrow evening, Bandit and I set out on the seven-hour drive to Reno. We're preparing tonight by getting snacks and drinks for the road, downloading audiobooks for the drive, filling the car up with gas, and, of course, making sure that I'm going to be well supplied with knitting.

When I got my anniversary yarn, I knew that this teal fingering weight yarn would be the perfect color to make something for Luna's birthday. After consulting with her for a while, she settled on the Storm Warning shawl/scarf. I started it with some multicolored metallic beads, but quickly realized that between the color of the yarn and the beads, the project was quickly growing to look like a Christmas tree. I frogged it and started it again with hematite beads, and it's been coming along... slowly.

There's nothing wrong with the yarn, or the beads, or the pattern, or even how all of them fit together. It's just that the project seems to be coming along at a snail's pace. Maybe the slight splittiness of the yarn, which would usually not be a problem, is causing havoc whenever I try to place beads with a too-small crochet hook, and it's making me reluctant to want to knit on it. Maybe it's just that, since the project in progress always has the same dimensions, it always looks the same no matter how much I knit, and it's tricking me into thinking that I'm making no progress. I find myself weighing the remaining yarn after each pattern repeat, eagerly monitoring how close I'm getting to the halfway point. (The pattern is knitted sideways, increasing from a small cast-on to the halfway point of the triangle, then decreased symmetrically to use up yarn as efficiently as possible.) Hopefully fourteen hours in a car will force me to make some progress on it, at least.

Or maybe I'll just ignore it entirely in favor of casting on a new shawl. I plan to knit Out of Darkness out of the yak laceweight that I got at the Estes Park Wool Market this year. The yarn is wound, the pattern bought, and the beads are still waiting in their box from when I used them for Vostok. I just have to decide on what size needles to use - I'm going to downsize the shawl a little bit, just in case, because I'm skirting dangerously close to the required yardage listed on the pattern.

And just in case these two aren't enough to occupy me... I might bring Bandit's sweater with me too.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Some Sunday snapshots.

After journeying from Colorado to New Jersey to DC to Utah, I'm finally getting to rest a little. Vostok is done and delivered, and although I didn't get a picture of it before it was blocked, I hope to get some photos of it in action soon. Meanwhile, new projects are on the needles, there's lots of blogroll backlog to read and comment on, and that trip to Reno and Jimmy Beans is now less than a week away. I hope to catch up with you all soon!

Friday, June 28, 2013

One year!

Today marks the end of my first year of knitblogging! I didn't actually believe I would make it through one whole year, but I'm glad I did!

In celebration, you get this very short and pictureless post. (I neglected to bring my camera to the East Coast. Oh well.)

- Yes, Vostok's edging apparently really is that yarn-intensive. I started knitting the edging nine days ago. I just made it to the halfway point yesterday. I don't have my yarn scale with me, so I can't tell how much of the second ball I've used up so far, but now I can actually believe that I'll end up using 700-800 yards.

- Pickle's sister has a crafting blog! Check it out!

- Bandit has promised to take me to Jimmy Beans in Reno sometime in July!

- Wait, that needed more exclamation marks. !!!!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Notes from the road.

Well, not quite from the road yet. But today, I am flying out to the East Coast. A month or more spent away from my stash. And this is all the yarn I'm bringing with me:

...maybe not all. Maybe I should add some more.

Monday, June 17, 2013


It's coming along.

I cast on almost before the yarn was dry from the overdyeing, pausing only to hand-wind the two skeins into reasonable balls. The pattern calls for a size 5 needle, but all I had on hand were, well, size 4 circs that were 12 inches tip to tip. That's a tiny circumference for circulars. I had been using them for sweater sleeves.

I managed well enough on them for the beginning stockinette portion, but by the time I got to the first double-sided lace section, with its double yarnovers and p3togtbl, I decided I would have to get real lace needles at the Estes Park Wool Festival. Very sharp lace needles. With a long cord.

I am so very glad to be done with this section. I was lucky enough to be able to get through it without making any major, unsalvageable mistakes, especially since double-sided lace can be challenging to "read" and I don't use lifelines. I was even kind of getting used to the p3togtbl, near the end (sharp lace tips help!). But still. So glad to be done with that.

Now I'm drawing close to the end of the second lace section, and here's where I find something curious.

The pattern calls for 750-800 yards of laceweight. I've been reading project notes that describe using 787 yards, slightly less than 765 yards, 712 yards, and 760 yards, with various small modifications, including needle size changes more drastic than mine. I'm almost ready to start the knitted-on edging, and my calculations inform me that I've only used 325 yards so far.

Does the edging really require that much yarn? Or do I have some magical ability to knit, and knit, and knit some more, and somehow not use up yarn? Because if the latter is the case, well, I'd really like to know for future projects!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Still catching up.

To continue from last post:

5) Estes Park Wool Market. I'd been looking forward to this year's wool market pretty much ever since going to last year's, and I'd gotten Shannon and Alexis excited about it as well. So last weekend, Bandit came to visit, and on Saturday morning the four of us piled into Shannon's car and made the hour-ish drive into the mountains to Estes Park.

It was almost just as I had remembered. There were barns and tents of sheep, goats, llamas, paco-vicunas, and angora rabbits. There were livestock competitions, including a llama limbo competition. There were outdoor vendors selling lamb kebabs, fresh lemon/limeades, and cinnamon roasted almonds. (The crepe vendors from last year were not present, which made me a little sad. I'd been looking forward to those crepes.) And there was, of course, the vendor warehouse.

Bandit took a few phone pictures to try to capture the sheer scope of the vendor warehouse:

I was shopping both for myself and for others that day. Here's what I got for myself:

Tibetian Cloud Fingering, by Lotus Yarns. It's 100% Tibetian yak, and extremely soft, with a sort of subtle dull sheen. I don't know why it's called "Fingering" - it's pretty clearly a laceweight to me. I'm thinking about taking this and some of the golden beads that will inevitably be left over from Vostok, and knitting a lace shawl for Kathy.

Skaska Lace. After knitting my Nouveau Beaded Capelet with the skein of Skaska Lace I got last year, I knew I had to go back to their booth again this year. This skein didn't have a tag on it, but I'm sure it's another ~1250 yards of merino/silk. I'm thinking of knitting a Hanami with this, possibly.

And finally... this extravagance. Bandit insisted on buying something from the Skaska booth for me. He picked out this skein of - brace yourself - 1650 yards of 55% silk/45% yak. I tried to make him put it back - it was $45! - but when my back was turned, he sneakily snatched it up again and paid for it. What ever will I do with this man?

I have no idea what I could make with this. I do want to find a pattern that will use up as much of it as possible. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Oh dear.

Sorry for the abrupt silence. Lots of things have happened, but - let's just get caught up, shall we?

1) I overdyed the yarn for Vostok. In its natural state, it's a vivid reddish-purple. I had to overdye it twice to get the right shade, but now it's a slightly darker, bluer violet.

2) I learned how to hand-wind center-pull balls. I didn't have my ball winder on hand, but desperately wanted to start knitting, so I looked up how to make my thumb a nostepinne. It takes a really, really long time - especially with laceweight! - but having a ball of yarn for a thumb for several hours is actually surprisingly fun. As long as you don't need to do anything that requires an opposable thumb.

I love the apple-like shape of the resulting ball, too - very distinctive and unlike a mechanically-wound cake at all.

3) Yarn from Germany!

I had to talk Bandit out of buying all the purple yarn for me, but in revenge he went to the DyeForYarn Etsy store and secretly picked out yarn for me. And then categorically refused to tell me anything about it other than that it existed. I thought I would burst from curiosity and impatience, but as long as the wait seemed to me, its arrival was timed perfectly - it finally reached us on our two-year anniversary.

The light fingering teal yarn on the left is already slated to become something for Luna's birthday.

4) I did not get to work more on the Slide socks. Sorry!

5) Estes Park Wool Market! More details in the next post.