Sunday, March 4, 2007

Yarn Shopping

Christine and Teresa arranged for a full day of yarn shopping--aka as SEX (Stash Enhancement Expedition.) We met at 9:30 am at Let's Knit in Gardena. I wanted to do most of my actual buying there, since that is my trusty LYS (Local Yarn Shop)--the place where I can get emergency needles at 4 pm on a Saturday afternoon, and because I suppose that Mrs. Oyama needs my business more than a fancy-dancy shop in Santa Monica does. So I had my pattern all ready--a shawl collar vest for myself in size large. I made a mock-up of it from a piece of fleece, to assure myself that it will fit. I already have the clasp that will hold it closed. All I needed was the yarn. And I pictured lovely flowing colors. So I rather quickly settled on Noro's Kureyon. I was tempted by Noro's Silk Garden, but that was even more expensive-- $11 a ball. Kureyon was bad enough at $8.50. Then I was a bit shocked to find that I needed 9 balls. Even with a generous 10% discount, that still came to $68.85. Yeouch! I had better do a good job on this vest, and wear it with joy for at least 10 years!!

I also picked up 4 balls of emerald green yarn in a cashmere/silk/merino blend, mainly because it was so soft and 50% off. It will make a beautiful scarf when I decide to learn how to make a simple cable. Nancy Terasaki showed us the scarf she completed--from the same pink merino I used for my hat--with a beautiful cable down the middle. It is beautiful, and inspired me to think that a simple shape such as a scarf is a good place to learn cabling. I think I will do that instead of the shawl with cabled pockets that I had in mind. Less overall knitting and more cabling. that should be do-able.

Next we went to Santa Monica and the nicest of all the yarn shops on our itinerary: Wildfiber. Spacious, wood floors, bins and bins of every kind of gourgeous fiber imaginable--from alpaca to linen. I was sorely tempted to buy some lovely soft sock yarn, but I resisted. I am not ready to knit socks yet and I know it. And the $70 vest will keep me busy for quite some time. And sock yarn will be there when I am ready for it. I am thinking that before next winter, Kristen could use a pair of wool socks for the Chicago winters to come. Maybe over the summer, when she's home and her foot is available for measuring, I will work on that. I did buy a skein of periwinkle colored Brown Sheep bulky, with a felted bowl in mind. Maybe this time I'll follow the directions and get an actual bowl shape!

We also visited another shop also in Santa Monica I think, called something like Knit from the Heart, that specializes in knitting for charity. More homey than Wildfiber, but not as exciting.

Then we drove to El Segundo (which involved being in a scary old van on the scary 105 ovepass, which has distressingly low sides while making swooping curves. Good think I wasn't driving!). We had lunch at a Philipino/Chinese/Vegetarian restaurant with a French name: Papillon. All strange, but it was good. And we ended our expedition at Slipt Stitch, which is close enough to home that I might stop by there sometime again. Again I almost succumbed to the sock knitting siren, but again I resisted. I bought a row counter instead.

So I came home and fired up the needles I got for $1.50 at Marukai, and knit an actual swatch. This is the first time I've swatched, but it's also the first time I spent serious money and the first garment for myself that I am knitting. The swatch seemed way off, so I went back to Let's Knit (thank God for LYS, eh?) to try to buy size 101/2 needles, since I thought I was using 10s. Come to find out, I had Japanese size 10, which is much smaller than American size 10s. So I didn't need 101/2 after all, I needed a real size 9.

I have about 5 rows done on the back--96 stitches per row. The pattern is simple enough--a box pattern that is like a broken 2 x 2 rib. So far so good, and I think that even if I mess up a knit or purl here or there, it won't make a big difference, as it does in straight rows of ribbing. But I am a little concerned about Kureyon (which, incidently, when pronounced by Japanese ladies seems to mean Crayon. Try it.) It is quite a rough wool. The colors are delightful, but the texture is quite rough. I knew that, but I read that it softens when washed. So I washed the swatch, and it does indeed seem a lot softer. And a vest will always be worn over a turtleneck, so it doesn't need to be soft against my skin. So I think it will be good when it's finished. But it's a little less than a joy to work with. I hope that this won't discourage me from enjoying my first sweater throughout the process. Nothing else has as pretty colors, except perhaps Manos de ...where? Uruguay? Something like that. It also has gourgeous colors, but it's also very rough to the touch.

Well, I now have my work cut out for me, so off to knit for a while!

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