American Wool Series

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stitches Recap

No, I didn't disappear at Stitches West although the thought of losing myself in booth upon booth of yarn forever and laying around to knit and feel the pretty skeins sounds just about heavenly. I'm just recovering from all of that social saturation and several days of yarn immersion. I'm an introvert by nature and push myself quite hard to be social and extroverted when attending events. The amount of energy expended is well worth it but I need several days to recharge my batteries before I feel ready to meet the world again. So, hello!


Let's get to it shall we? I didn't take pictures at Stitches because the thought of asking permission at each very crowded booth I went to seemed like a chore at the time and because the lighting at Stitches is not the best to show off all of the beautiful yarny things.

My favorite thing was the podcaster get together on Saturday afternoon. Did you know I'm a podcaster? True story. I'm co-host of the Doubleknit Podcast and we've been recording for almost 5 years! So I had to attend Saturday afternoon's meeting to meet some of my other favorite podcasters and a lot of our listeners. I met Gayle and Sharlene of the Yarniacs, Barb and Tracie of 2KnitLitChicks, Allison of the Hollywood Knitter, and Dr. Gemma of the Cogknitive Podcast. Everyone was so gracious and welcoming and I was utterly surprised by the number of folks who came to hang out, knit, and have drinks with us. If you were one of the attendees thank you for a wonderful time! I feel incredibly lucky to have such a supportive community of knitters and listeners.

I did a fair amount of browsing, touching, and deliberating about what I was going to purchase and came away with yarn that I'm in love with and excited about knitting. In the past I've gone a little yarn fume crazy and snapped up anything I felt was pretty and soft. I'm utterly happy with my purchases and can't wait to knit them as soon as I get my current projects off the needles. And you know, I couldn't have spent the weekend with a better group of friends.
Top to bottom: Freia Fine Handpaints Ombre in Lichen, Green Mountain Spinnery Cotton Comfort in Navy, Miss Babs Yowza! Whatta Skein in Biker Chick. No, this isn't all of my yarn haul but the ones with the best pictures.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Not much can beat the feeling of Friday on a Thursday, especially a Thursday that includes flying down to the Bay Area for a wonderful event known as Stitches West. I'm heading to the airport after work with three of my besties where I'll experience my first trip on the light rail that runs from Downtown Seattle to the airport. This is a novelty for me since I'm usually flying with a husband, a child, a carseat, and various bags so I'm looking forward riding it in a lovely touristy way. Airports are airports so nothing special there but I'm looking forward to a beer on the plane ride.

Thanks to Nina and Sonia who gave me advice on what to do about my Stitches knitting project. Just after posting on Tuesday I decided what had to be done - I cast on for a new project. That yarn on the left is Madeline Tosh DK in Moorland which is currently being knit into the Pressed Leaves hat from Alana Dakos' new book Botanical Knits. That is the perfect yarn and pattern combination I spoke of on Tuesday which is not my Stitches project. That blue yarn on the bottom right?  That is my brand spankin' new project. The yarn is Quince & Co. Tern in the Back Bay color - a gift from my husband two Christmases ago. I'll cast on during my lunch break today for the Bristol Hat which I believe is the absolute perfect combination of small, portable project, yarn from stash, pattern from my library and queue, and ease of knitting for socializing purposes.

And if I happen to finish my hat over the next two days I'll just have to dive into some newly purchased Stitches yarn.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Best Laid Plans

I'm going to Stitches West this weekend. That's right, Stitches West. I'll be winging my way down to Santa Clara Thursday evening along with three of my good friends and then spending a couple of days in a yarn induced spending frenzy. I have a firm budget. I have a place to stay. But I need a plan.

What am I going to take with me to knit?

My friends, I am seriously indecisive on this count. I have a sneaking suspicion that I should continue with my current trend of finishing lingering WIPs. While this sounds totally boring, I'm gaining momentum on several projects that are woefully unremarkable in their ability to capture my attention for any length of knitting time and I figure I should just ride that train to the station.


Over the weekend I pulled three skeins of yarn out of my stash and I am itching, ITCHING, to cast on with them. Two of these yarns are for a hat pattern which I purchased in December and has been lingering at the top of my knitting queue. The other is for a brand new pattern, not even queued, for which I have the perfect yarn in a beautiful color.

I really only need one project to carry with me since I'll be at a venue where yarn, needles, and patterns abound should I need them. So what would you do? Ride the WIP train or take something brand spankin' new? How do you choose knitting projects for your travels?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Music Monday

I don't think this song is one of Nina Simone's top hits but there's something about the tune that makes me smile. After receiving two save the dates for weddings last week and forgetting to celebrate Valentine's Day I feel that this is an appropriate celebratory Monday song. Enjoy!

From the album Nina Simone Sings the Blues.

Friday, February 15, 2013


BFF socks
Originally uploaded by ErinBirnel
My knitting group recently completed a second round of swapping projects. Have you done this before? Someone (as in me and my co-organizer) takes a poll as to who wants to participate, takes a poll as to the type of project people want to make, assigns secret partners, creates a deadline, and then you all swap projects with the appropriate people on swap day. It's great fun when everything goes smoothly - so far this has been a mostly smooth process for our group. In any case, I received these beautiful socks from Sharon in my favorite sock yarn, Hazel Knits Artisan Sock.The pattern is BFF Socks by Cookie A, a pattern that I've been wanting to knit for a while but never have gotten around to knitting. Thanks, Sharon! They're already getting all day wear!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Music Monday

This is my all time favorite Daniel Johnston song from the 1983 Hi, How are you? record.  One of my favorite memories of first moving to Seattle is going to see Mike Watt (formerly of the Minutemen) and hearing him cover this song. It's weird and strange but exceptionally awesome and if you like it I recommend watching the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston which covers his music career and struggle with bipolar disorder.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

FO: Tiny Rocky Coast

Tiny Rocky Coast
Originally uploaded by ErinBirnel
So many babies this Spring! This is the second of five planned projects for the newest batch.

Pattern: Tiny Rocky Coast by Hannah Fettig
Yarn: DiC Smooshy with Cashmere in Ponder Dusk
Needles: US #4 and US #5 Addi Turbo
Mods: None. Easy to knit and simple cables if you know how to cable without a cable needle. It's lovely and soft after blocking. I knit the 12 months size in the hope that I would use up the entire ball of yarn but I still have a sizable portion left. Maybe booties to match?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Originally uploaded by ErinBirnel
A couple of weeks ago I alluded to some sample knitting that I was doing with a new yarn from Skacel. I love love love this yarn and have been contemplating the various patterns that it might become (I was gifted the remainder of the giant cone and balls from the samples - so generous!). The yarn is Kenzie, from Skacel, which is a luxurious mix of wool, alpaca, angora, and nylon that knits at a dk or light worsted gauge.

The patterns are up on Ravelry and you can check them out! Both of the samples that I knit are available as free downloads via Ravelry or Skacel Fiber Studio.

Tayberry Hat

Cedar Leaf Scarf

It's so exciting to see my knitting out there and looking so fancy! I can honestly say that the yarn is awesome to work with - nicely round and soft with a gentle halo. The angora stayed put in the plies and didn't shed all over as some angora blend yarns have a tendency to do. It's a lovely tweed that's not too tweedy, the orange has unexpected lavender bits in it that I found utterly charming. Head to your LYS and check it out for yourself, you won't be disappointed!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Music Monday

Eartha Kitt was probably best known for portraying Catwoman in the 1960's Batman tv series with Adam West (she replaced Julie Newmar in the final season). However, she had a kickass voice and amazing stage presence and performed interesting songs like 'I Want To Be Evil' as part of her singing career. I was lucky enough to snatch up a 10" of Eartha's first US release for $5 at a local thrift store ages ago and it became an instant favorite.

Kitt was a vocal advocate of the LGBT rights movement and a supporter of same sex marriage. She passed away from colon cancer in 2008.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Day 1 - No Repeat February Challenge

Back in December Jessica did a no repeat knitwear challenge with all of her handknit sweaters. She's repeating the challenge this month with her accessories. I'm attempting to participate with a mix of accessories and sweaters and I even remembered to take a (dark and very early morning) picture!

Sweater: Acer Cardigan by Amy Christoffers in Araucania Nature Wool
Dress: Leopard print wrap dress, thrifted
Not shown: black tights and Civico riding boots (DSW)

This photo just proves how much I need a haircut, my hair is sooo long!