Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I found the camera, so here is a photo of the second acquisition to my collection of Turkish socks:

Compare with the first pair:

My brother-in-law, Altug, said the new pair is more authentic, but not being a knitter, he wasn't sure why. I've been trying to figure it out based on the photos and information in Anna Zilboorg's Fancy Feet, which does not include any pattern resembling this one, but does have this:

"I have been writing as though knitting patterns and styles were essentially the same throughout Turkey. This is by no means the case. In areas where mohair is the dominant yarn, socks are mostly white, with fine lace patterns. They are made fluffy by being placed inside a freshly baked loaf of bread. In the eastern, Kurdish parts of the country, the socks are loosely knit from undyed, unspun yarn, somewhat similar to Icelandic lopi. ... The collection shown in this book contains one authentic Kurdish sock but is otherwise composed of multicolored stranded patterns of the type found throughout central Anatolia."

I'm not about to pick apart one of the socks to get a better look at the yarn, but in its knitted state, it appears to my untrained eye that the natural colored yarn could be a mohair blend. The contrast yarn -- a black and a dark green -- appears to be commercial two-ply, but the natural is undyed and almost certainly handspun as some vegetable matter is still present.

The multi-colored socks, the original pair in my growing collection, are knitted from commercial yarns, and some of the yarn may even be synthetic. But the patterns are similar to those in Fancy Feet.

I look forward to Altug's next visit to Turkey!

I haven't been knitting much lately. I'm almost to the armhole steeks on Donegal, and I would be finished with the back and front of Fjalar if it were not for a mistake. It appears I cast on five too many stitches for the right front (or was it left front?), although I followed the pattern. So I've been trying to decide whether to frog it or just make a few decreases; obviously, frogging is probably the way to go, but I'm such a lazy knitter. Because the pattern is already somewhat assymetrical, I think the decreases would not be obvious at all. But while I think about it, it sits in the basket.

So the only WIP I've made much progress on lately is The Rebozo, which is my mindless take-away knitting. It went with me on spring break and is 2/3 finished. I have a PTO meeting tonight, so it will increase a few more rows. Here it is:

Monday, April 12, 2004

I've been browsing the contents of the Michigan Fiber Festival magazine, and I have to share with you some questions from a very cute quiz. The "Giggles Quiz" on page 38 seeks to determine if the Michigan Fiber Festival is the right place for you. I would never violate the copyright by including the whole quiz, but here's a question that gives the flavor:

"2. I own enough fiber for ...
a. My current project.
b. My current project and one or two more.
c. Lots and lots of projects.
d. Me to use for the rest of my life if I never buy any more fiber and I quit my job and devote all of my time to working on projects and I live to be at least 120 and I only sleep 4 hours a night."

OK, one more:

"10. You shouldn't buy fiber unless ...
a. Your doctor recommends that you eat more bran.
b. You need more materials for your current project.
c. You really like it.
d. It's for sale."

Needless to say, I scored a lot of "d"s on this quiz, and my results are that I should attend the festival. What a shock! Well, this quiz by Donna Myers scores everyone as needing to attend the festival. Those who receive 15 or fewer points "should definitely come to the festival. You need to get started with your fiber activities as soon as possible."

While I may be a bit fiber-obsessed, I discovered in my reading yesterday that I am not very productive. Here's an excerpt from Nordic Knitting by Susanne Pagoldh:

"The hands of the people of Jutland were not allowed to be idle. One had to be doing something useful every minute. The children of the Jutland moorlands learned to card and spin by the age of five. The men knitted while they rode, plowed, or carried manure; herders knitted while they were out on the moors with the sheep. Women knitted when they worked outside or walked, even while on the way to church on Sundays. Industrious women could knit, ply yarn, churn butter, and rock the baby all at the same time, and some women even knitted while they ate."

Hmmm. I'm not sure I would want to wear the sweaters knitted while carrying manure. And I'm not sure I really believe that anyone could be so ambidextrous as to knit while churning butter. But I do feel like a slacker after reading that.

Anyway, I just received this book. It's out of print, and I had it on my wish list at abebooks.com and half.com but figured it would be one of those obscenely expensive OOP books if it ever showed up. Just before spring break, I got a notice from abebooks.com that Powell's had it in stock for $12.95, so I ordered it immediately. And, wanting to get the free shipping deal, I had to get a couple more books, so I also picked up Knitting in the Nordic Tradition by Vibeke Lind and World Knits by Jean Moss. The Moss book I had perused at my LYS many times and wasn't very impressed, but since Powell's had a cheap used copy I figured WTH. Adding a used copy of The Encyclopedia of North American Indians put me into the free shipping level (and do you see why we need more bookshelves?)

I think I may have gotten a good deal on the Pagoldh book since the only other notices I've seen for it had it in the $40-plus range. But this is not my best-ever bargain find. I scored Andean Folk Knitting off of e-bay several months ago for $15. I had seen this book in the Boulder Public Library last year, and when we got home last summer, I started searching for it on abebooks and e-bay. After 3 or 4 weeks, I finally got a hit -- there was one offered on e-bay with a $7.50 starting bid or a $15 Buy Now. I had no idea how much it was worth, but I thought the $15 didn't sound so bad, and since I hadn't been able to find a copy on abebooks, I figured I'd better go ahead and take it. A few weeks later, one of my other stored searches informed me that a copy was being offered on half.com for $180!

So what have I learned? First, sometimes luck is on my side. And second and most important -- buy the darn book before it goes out of print!

Anyway, the Pagoldh book is well worth the $12.95 and I would be happy if I had paid $50 for it. The information and history is very interesting, and the reproduction designs are gorgeous. There is one sweater, "Korsnas," which I simply must make if I possibly have the skill. It uses a combination of knitting and very fine crochet. The model was made with naturally-dyed yarns.

Sorry, no photos today. I spent Friday and Saturday cleaning out my home office. I moved two bookcases and the books therein to the living room, which freed up 78" of wall space. My plan is to purchase a lateral file with a hutch, which will be used to store the files and books for my hubby's freelance project. All of that stuff is currently filling the office closet. The soon-to-be emptied closet will become -- I'm sure you fiber addicts out there can guess! -- my yarn storage area. Yay!

The point of this story, for blog purposes, is that in all of the reshuffling, I seem to have misplaced the camera, so I still don't have the surprise photo yet. I will, however, spoil the surprise -- and hopefully whet the reader's appetite to return to this blog -- by telling you it will be a photo of another pair of Turkish socks brought to me by the world's best-ever brother-in-law. These socks, he tells me, are more authentic than the last pair, of which I posted a photo in early January. It appears to me that the yarn is possibly hand-spun, although obviously by someone who is a more consistent spinner than am I.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Just back from Spring Break in North Carolina. It was great to escape the Michigan cold and see actual green things, plus dogwoods and azaleas in bloom. The weather could have been a bit warmer, but we still had a good time visiting the relatives.

I have two fiber highlights from the trip. On the way down, I dropped off a Romney fleece I purchased last summer for processing at Zeilinger in Frankenmuth. I finally gave up the idea of scouring and hand-carding it because I realized it would take forever and all I really want to do is just spin the darn thing. The roving should be arriving next week.

The other highlight was a visit to Shuttles Needles & Hooks in Cary, N.C. This is the kind of shop I would probably own if I ever were insane enough to own a yarn shop. It's in an old house in the "historic" downtown. Everything is in total chaos and yarn is falling out of every nook and cranny. An upstairs room is devoted to weaving, and it looks like the shop may hold classes there as the looms are reasonably accessible. A back room has spinning wheels, but they are somewhat hard to reach as yarn and other items are stacked on top. Another room has books and pattern leaflets and a table to sit and browse or knit. It's a very fun place. When I stopped in, I had my hubby with me, so I couldn't spend the whole afternoon there like I might have if I had been alone. I didn't buy yarn (shock!) I purchased the new Elsebeth Lavold cotton book and a small bottle of oil for my spinning wheel.

Btw, the oil -- which comes in an ingenious little bottle made by Schacht -- worked great. Now my bobbin is flying off its holder almost every two minutes. I want a new wheel! Although I've been ogling the beauties at Michigan-based Winsome Timbers, I think probably a Lendrum is more in my budget, plus practical as a fold-up traveling wheel. I also like the large bobbins.

I only took one project on vacation -- The Rebozo. I'm now 2/3 finished and will post a photo soon, along with another special treat. Check back in a day or two!

Oh, the schedule is out for the Michigan Fiber Festival. Lots of good classes and teachers, including Anna Zilboorg. It is the exact same dates as Stitches Midwest. I suppose one could go to both.... hmmm.....