Thursday, October 24, 2013

Look at the size of that nut!

I like a good knitting challenge, readers.  Here's the back story: I work at a museum, and we have traveling exhibits that come in for 4-8 months at a time.  Currently we have a trees exhibit, which is aimed at families and small children, and one of my coworkers asked if I could make her an acorn to use during demonstrations with the kids.  Of course I could.

I rooted around on Ravelry to find a pattern I could modify.  The knitted options didn't look that great, and I know you can make odd shapes more easily with crochet, so I resigned myself to the fact that I would be moving away from the needles and picking up a hook.

The pattern I liked the best was the one that met the scale requirements for the project.  We needed something that would be a plush version of an acorn, that kids could toss around and play with.  I was aiming for something that was about 8-10" tall, and it seemed like more trouble than it was worth to take a 2" acorn pattern and make it ten times the size.

Enter the Little Acorn Project Bag by Brigitte Read.  This was exactly what I was looking for, and it was free, and it looked easy enough for my limited crochet skills.

Her version was meant to be a project bag, as the name indicates, but it was a simple step to not include the button closures and just stuff it and sew it up.

I was so happy with how this turned out.  It was easy peasy to make, and I had it done in a few nights.  AND, I was able to use up some of my leftover scraps of acrylic yarn from various projects.  No one really likes acrylic, but it made the most sense for this project because it would be man-handled by grubby little kid fingers all day, and now it can just be tossed in the wash.

Also, it was a very cute little fall project to work on, and it makes me want to make a series of crocheted and felted acorns for decorating my dining table.  At Rhinebeck, there were some really adorable needle felting kits for pumpkins and the like, and I want to try my hand it that eventually.  I realize now that I had the cash on hand to buy one of the kits, but I was holding on to my cash for our food stops on the way home, which didn't end up happening.  Oh well.  I'll put it on my list for next time, and it's one more craft to add to my list of things to do.



Monday, October 21, 2013

A worthy post after months of no action - Rhinebeck 2013!

Hello readers!  Before you even say anything, I'll explain myself.  I went through a bout of no knitting this summer, where not only did I not write any blog posts, but I also did not do any knitting.  I bought a house with Fuzzyhead in June and all of my efforts went to doing all the little things with the house (for your own amusement, you can follow my house adventures at  Now that we're settled in, I think it's about time for me to get back to knitting, and writing about it.

We begin with my most recent knitting excursion to Rhinebeck.  You may recall that Catherine and I went last year for the first time, and we were gung ho about going again.  We went with the same bus group, a bunch of ladies from Georgetown who organize the trip each year.  We were fully prepared for the bus of cackling hens syndrome again, and I think it really helped to know that was coming in advance.  I brought my ipod and I think I chiseled away about more than 12 hours worth of podcasts on the trip.  Let's start the recap!

Here we are, shortly after 8am as the bus is rolling out of the parking lot to begin our journey to Rhinebeck.  As someone who doesn't live in Georgetown, this meant I was up at 5:30 in order to walk a dog and get ready to leave and then drive to Georgetown to meet the group.  The lack of sleep didn't catch up to me until later that afternoon, around the time when I was getting mildly bus sick from the combination of jerky stopping and starting and what I later found out was a vanilla air freshener.

At about 10am, we arrived at ye olde duty free.  They are a well-oiled machine at duty free, since they get so many bus loads of cackling hens arriving each day to load up on booze and designer fragrances, so a kind young lady from the duty free hops on the bus to give us the low-down on the process.  She also handed out two $10 gift certificates, to force us to spend money, and Catherine won!  As soon as it was in her hand, we started chanting "candy! candy!" and the other gals on the bus laughed at us.  Who's laughing now, ladies?  We scored two GIANT Reese's peanut butter bars for $6, with money left over for jelly beans.  Super score.

Our border crossing experience was the exact opposite of what happened last year - this year we were really delayed in crossing to the states, but breezed through the border stop on the way home.  Here we are crossing over to Buffalo, before we even got to the hour long wait in the parking lot before the let us come inside and flash our passports.

In knitting news, this is what I was working on on the bus.  The pattern is Rivercat from Knitty and this is yarn that I bought last year at Rhinebeck.  It's from Cephalopod Yarns, Skinny Bugga in Green Darner Dragonfly.  This is where I was at the start of the trip, and within the last hour of traveling back, I was grafting the toe.  I started the pattern a few days ahead of leaving for Rhinebeck so I wouldn't be figuring out the tricky little parts of the pattern while on a jiggling bus.

We arrived to Poughkeepsie in one piece and ditched the rest of the group at the Olive Garden to run across the street to Chili's.  We were in bed early, and up at the crack of early to get ready for the fair.  Here we are on the bus on Saturday morning, excited for yarns!

I made a list of what I needed to buy on Friday night in the hotel.  I had specific projects in mind, and I jotted down the basic requirements for yardage and yarn weight:

Norie Hat - 260 yards, DK weight

Rockefeller Shawl - 450 yards colour A, 505 yards colour B, light fingering weight

Larch Cardigan - 1580-1720 yards, Sport weight

Hemlock Ring Blanket - 600 yards, worsted weight

And I was open to the idea of picking up yarn for a baby project for a coworker, and I wanted to pick up some yarn for Tyler, who just started knitting earlier this year.  His only request was "red", so that left it open for fun interpretations.

Blurry, but it`s the entrance to the fairgrounds - Dutchess County Fairgrounds, home of the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival!

The line-up.  This is mostly to show the scale of the event - when I tell people I went to a knitting festival, they don't really get that it's a big deal, with THOUSANDS of people.  It was way more crowded on the Saturday than last year, and I'm not sure what made the difference.  A lot of the vendors were the same, the weather was equally nice, so....?

Waiting in line to get our chance to squeeze all the yarny goodness.

We took a different approach to shopping this year; we weren't just going to browse all day on Saturday and miss out on getting the yarns we wanted.  Last year, our "take notes first, and buy later" philosophy meant some of our choices were sold out before we got back on Sunday with money.  This year's plan was to hit up the popular booths first and make impulsive purchases so we wouldn't regret it later.  First up, Miss Babs.

As soon as we were inside the gate, we did a hop, skip, and a jump through the leaf piles and booted it up to Building C to visit Miss Babs.  Last year they were crazy busy all weekend, and I never ended up buying anything from them.  This year I wanted to get something, and I was open to what that would be. I decided on getting the worsted weight yarn for Hemlock, and I picked up four skeins of Heartland Worsted in "Fieldmouse".  The line-up to pay was stretching outside the building, and one could describe her booth as CRAZY.  We waited in line for one hour and five minutes.  No joke.

I was almost more excited about the food options than I was about the yarn.  We chose this cute little food truck for lunch on Saturday.  They make flamms, which are like pizzas, but super duper thin.  I chose the Traditional, which had spiced creme, red onion, scallions, bacon, and some other kind of cheese.

It was so delicious, I can't even tell you.  The only thing I didn't love was the charred edge bits and the amount of flour that they had to use to get the flamms to slide in and out of the oven easily.  Catherine described it as eating an ashtray after a while, and because of it she didn't finish all of hers.

We did more wandering and shopping in the afternoon, and we also hit up the other very popular booth of the weekend, Cephalopod Yarns.  They had a pretty big line-up last year, and by the time we got there, there wasn't much selection.  This year, we were ahead of the game, and we went there with guns a-blazin'.  I picked up a skein of the DK weight in "Arkham" for my Norie hat.

After the two big names were out of the way, we wandered around and took in the sites.  I wish that I could have bought a $10 bunny:

But I'm pretty sure I couldn't get over the border with one, plus it didn't look like they had anything for you to carry it around in.  Too bad.

One of our major afternoon stops was at The Fold and Blue Moon Fiber Arts, which is where I bought the yarn for the lovely sweater I wore on Saturday.  They carry Socks that Rock, and I remembered their booth fondly from last year.  From them I picked up a skein of mill ends heavyweight sock yarn for some winter socks for Fuzzyhead, and the yarn for my Rockefeller shawl in the form of mini skeins of Socks that Rock in "Sabertooth Caterpillar" and "Cozy Fierce and Dirty Orange".

By 4:00, we were tuckered out, and we spent the last hour or so sitting on a grassy and leafy hill, resting our tired little tootsies.

  Back at the hotel, I documented my scores from the day, on my hotel bed, in poor lighting:

That's Heartland in the back, my Socks that Rock for Rockefeller in the middle-right, Socks that Rock for Fuzzyhead's heavy winter socks on the left, and Cephalopod DK up front.

Sunday went by a lot faster, and we were mostly concerned with doing our quick final shopping and getting back to the bus, with food in our bellies, by 11:30.  We went back to all of our "saw it yesterday and kept thinking about it" booths, and Catherine picked up a few more things.  I only needed to grab Tyler's red yarn and a mini skein of white sock yarn from Miss Babs for an upcoming project.  I went up to Miss Babs first thing in the morning, and the giant line was already starting, so I almost dismissed the idea of getting the mini skein.  I left it for the time being, and I went to another booth and got two skeins of Shepherd's Wool in a nice bright red for Tyler.

I still had some US cash burning a hole in my wallet, and I really didn't want to have to exchange it back to Canadian.  And what's the one thing everyone needs more of?  Sock yarn!  I went to TuckerWoods and got a skein of Rory's Toes, which is their tweed sock yarn.

We petted a few sheep and walked through a few more buildings to make sure we weren't missing something fantastic, and then made a break for lunch.  While Catherine was still finishing lunch, I zipped back up to Miss Babs, hoping that the line wouldn't be too big to mess up my timing to get back on the bus.  I saw some other people from my group, so I figured at the very least, we would all be late, and I picked up one last skein.

We were back on the bus in plenty of time, and I got some solid knitting done on the drive home.  We made record time on the way back, mostly due to the fact that we only stopped once before the border (and there was a Starbucks, hallelujah!), and we were through the border control stop in less than 10 minutes.  We arrived back in Georgetown at 9pm, and loaded up our bags for the drive home.

And now, the final yarn round-up:

I've still been taking pictures of all of my knits and yarn purchases, so I'll work on putting together some catch-up posts of everything I've been knitting.  You can look forward to that, and now it's lunch time.