Friday, May 3, 2013

Shopping for Maryland Sheep & Wool

Take the most overzealous, hoarder friend you know and multiply her by two. That's me when it comes to yarn. I like to joke that I'm the number one enabler at the yarn shop and I'm sure my friends and coworkers would agree with me.

I've gotten better, though. Most of my yarn purchases (excepting handpainted sock yarn) have some purpose for which they are intended, so I've already purchased yarn for most of the things in my Ravelry queue. Yes, I have 5 pages of things. So? That's totally normal. This does make planning for festivals and assorted knitting outings more difficult.

Last year was my first trip to Maryland Sheep and Wool and my first fiber festival in general. I'd been to Stitches Midwest the previous summer, but that felt like more of a trade show than a festival. There were independent yarn companies (I remember seeing Miss Babs, Sunday Knits, Habu, etc.), but it was in a convention center. There were more local shops associated with Stitches Midwest and it just felt very cramped and rushed. Imagine my elation when I arrived at a FAIRGROUND full of yarn, fleece and animals. The combination of the long-missed open spaces and warm 75ish degree temperatures ushered in summer.

I got down to business...

and blew my budget within the first hour. I don't necessarily regret any of my purchases, but I wish I had gone in with more of a plan. I won't make that mistake again. Last year my splurges included 2 sweaters worth of yarn (Grand Manan by Tess Designer Yarns in seafoam & some dark gray Alpaca by Misty Mountain Farms), lots of Socks that Rock from The Fold (one of my favorite LYSs from back home), some Acero & Mas Acero from Brooks Farm and a few precious skeins from The Verdant Gryphon. As usual, my sock yarn hoarding urge seized control of my brain. At least I will always be warm.

And now. For the list. I don't intend to purchase yarn for ALL of these projects, but I plan on bringing a yardage count for each of these just in case. I'm limiting myself to one big project (sweater, large wrap or shawl, etc.) and then I will let myself run wild with the fingering weights.

The Sweaters

Twigs and Willows by Alana Dakos

I have been obsessed with this whole book since the preview went online a few months ago. It's one of the first collections in a while that I have wanted to knit (mostly) in it's entirety. This sweater has stolen my heart and I must knit it. Alana used Shelter from Brooklyn Tweed for her sample and as much as I love Mr. Flood (...), I don't think I will ever buy a sweaters worth of Shelter. I've bought a few skeins for accessories but I just can't justify the purchase for some reason, even though the colors are absolutely beautiful. I'm also a bit obsessed with Entangled Vines, but the simple details in Twigs and Willows has my heart. It doesn't hurt that it's one of those sweaters where a lot of finished items on Ravelry also look incredible. I do a lot of investigative work before starting a project, paying attention to similar body shapes as mine, etc. and this added time often saves me from making some mistakes, so I'm pleased to see that this sweater looks great on a lot of different ladies. Incidentally, garter stitch pullover? Never again.

Woodstove Season by Alicia Plummer
Ah, another cardigan knit out of Shelter. This one got me really excited when I saw the sample last fall. Another simple knit with some really cool elements (subtle chevrons! POCKET! AH) that I could really imagine myself cozying up in. I had planned on using some Madelinetosh Heritage Erin wool (Charcoal) for this design, but decided that Katie might be better suited for that yarn. 

Effervescence Cardigan by Olga Buraya-Kefelian
I've never knit a pattern by Olga Jazzy, but I have quite a few in my favorites and queue. Her designs are clever, creative and, at times, just a bit too much for me. But in that "oh man. I WISH I could wear that" kind of way. Her collection with Quince & Co. is beautiful on a whole, but this cardigan is what drew me to it. Effervescence is knit in Quince's Chickadee, a sportweight yarn, and, while it's lovely to work with, I'm still a sucker for tweeds and handpaints. I could see this in tosh or Cephalopod yarns.

The accessories 
Netty Cowl by Ien Sie

Another Quince and Co. pattern in Chickadee. I like bright accessories. I could see this in some bright pink/green/blue balanced with a neutral gray or taupe color polka dot. OR a crazy amazing blue and green pairing. OR autumnal shades of red/gold/orange. This one has been in my queue for awhile now and I could really have fun pulling together colors for this one...

Pop Spots by Juju Vail
and some even better combinations for this shawl by Juju Vail. Juju owns the delightful shop Loop in London. We went to London in February and when it looked like I wasn't going to make it to Loop I threw a Parisian pity party for myself (first world problem to the max) and bought some yarn at La Droguerie. But then miracle of all miracles! I made it to Loop! And got into so much trouble...but that's a different story. Pop Spots looks great in subdued colors (like above) or in crazy amazing colors. Bunnywatson's Push Pop Spots is what really made me want to cast on for it right away. One indie dyer I'm looking to try for the first time is Creatively Dyed Yarns. They have been recommended to me by quite a few East Coasters and though I visited their booth last year, I didn't end up leaving with anything. The Verdant Gryphon & Cephalopod Yarns are also companies I'm considering.

Pine Bough Cowl by Diana Walla
Another looped cowl with great color possibilities. You get it by now. I like colors and I think I'm even more in love with this than Netty. I really like foliage in my knits.

The Keeper by Kristin Finlay
I have some issues with DK weight yarns. So many of the shawls I want to make call for DK and it's such a weird weight for me. It has become my new sport weight, which used to weird me out. It's hard to find a good DK weight yarn that won't break the bank. Keeper is a shawl I fell in love with when it was published. I would absolutely love to use the recommended yarn (Skein Himalaya), but Skein yarns are really difficult to find in the US and shipping it here from Australia would cost a small fortune. I've considered subbing Fibre Company Acadia, which would be absolutely LOVELY, but I'm still on the fence. Out of all the projects I've blogged about today, I would say that yarn for The Keeper is what I'll be really hunting for.

I'm optimistic that I will leave with yarn for one of these projects and then a smattering of hand-dyed fingering weight. Realistically, I will probably blow my budget much faster than I would like. But I will try. 

Last year's group shot: DC, Andrea, Sara, Me.

Are you going to MDSW? Come say hi! I'll probably be hanging with the same goofballs as last year.

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