Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

Spring Break: Uncharted Territory, Charted Handknits. Plus a Sonnet

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Dear Kay,
Hello hello hello! A week away and I feel like I’ve been away for a YEAR. So much to tell, so little time.
We headed to California for a spring break ramble: seven nights, six hotels up the coast from LA to SF. It was great. I was packing and unpacking that suitcase like a Marine dismantling an M-1 rifle in the dark.
I’ll pass along my lone packing tip: bring one pair of shoes more than you think you need.
OK here’s another tip: four do not travel as cheaply as two. When traveling with two teenage boys, build in a budget line item for six times as much food as you think four humans can eat.
Pre-trip knitting planning was the normal chaotic scramble. Airplane knitting is the ultimate in sensory-deprivation knitting, and I hate to waste Golden Air Hours on anything but a perfect project. The ANGZIEDY!
Having just come off two giant sweater projects, I definitely did not want to do Fair isle, alpaca, or Fair Isle in alpaca. I zeroed in on Kirsten Johnstone‘s Hakusa scarflette thingie: “a magically light, airy scarf.” Zen! Palate cleanser! I scrounged the vault for some Habu Copper Bamboo yarn–surely to crimity I’d bought some of that somewhere along the way, right?
Remember, when Habu puts “copper” in a yarn name, they are not being metaphorical. I have at least three weird Habu yarns, but shockingly no Copper Bamboo.
I took a final peek at Ravelry to see how integral this Habu Copper Bamboo is to this scarflette, and concluded that it is in fact integral. Soon, Hakusa, soon.
Along the way, I was thunderstruck to see this in my queue:
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Dianna Potter‘s Pine Bough Cowl.
Fair Isle. Sweet, sweet unending tube, only two yarn colors. It’s what Fair Isle is supposed to be. I overcame my Fair Isle overdose and went for it. A FEVER, and the only cure is more cowbell.
I had nothing even close to the specified HiKooTM Kenzie (50% New Zealand merino, 25% nylon, 10% angora, 10% alpaca, 5% silk noils). (Crazy blend!) But I did have exactly two skeins of Cascade 220, not nearly enough to finish a six-foot-long cowl. Who cares? I HAD TO START THIS THING.
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It was as instantly addicting as I had figured it would be. It made me love Fair Isle all over again. The sad part is that the yarn labels disappeared in Las Vegas amid a dreadful weather delay. Not as sad as all those slot machines, though, I have to say. If those folks would just pick up some knitting needles, they’d turn those frowns upside down.
Here’s hoping I can track down some more of these six-year-old shades. My best guess is Yakima Heather and Bronzed Green. (By the way, when do we open our chain of yarn stores in airports?)
Scenic fotos to come. I finally found the connector cable in the bottom of my tote bag, under every single receipt and ticket stub of a week on the road.
Love,
Ann
PS Here’s a bonus for the day, a yarn discontinuance protest. JM, thanks for the idea of expressing deep grief via poetry.
The Indigo Blues: A Sonnet
A yarn to hate, we’ll grant you that for sure:
Its core is white; the dye outside is blue.
You’d never see this yarn in haute couture–
Who knits with twine like this? Someone askew.
Fifteen percent of what you make will shrink,
And wooden needles turn an inky shade.
Your fingers, too, will make folks think
Your dismal circulation needs first aid.
But Rowan Denim stands the test of time,
The prickly friend whose loyal ways you’d miss.
It wears like iron, yet washes up sublime.
Beloved jeans don’t feel as soft as this.
This shrinky, fadey, finger-tinting stuff
Is what we love to knit, can’t love enough.

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. That is a wonderful cowl. So interesting. Hope you find the right colors! I thought I was the only one thinking about yarn stores in airports. Bet they’d be instantly successful. All they’d need to start is sock yarn, basic worsted, and needles, hooks and markers.

  2. Hilarious post as usual and I do love that design. I’m off to SF from Boston next month, it’s my bday and I’ll go all the way across the country to peruse LYS if I want to. Any suggestions for shops? And since my 18 year old will want to visit every thrift and vintage clothing store, I get to look for wool sweaters, too.

  3. ombob. you went to a CONAN show?!!! which one?!

  4. I have also thought having yarn stores in airports would be genius (usually while sitting in an airport searching for the needles I swear I put in my carry-on). Or maybe vending machines? The yarn could be in one of those sandwich-type vending machines and the needles, hooks, and notions could be in a candybar-type vending machine. (I have maybe spent too much time thinking about this.)

  5. In my humble opinion, yarn stores should be everywhere! Besides airports, they should also have them in hospitals!!!

  6. Isn’t that one of your Cascade labels in the photo with your souvenir flotsam? Or is that from another project?
    I vote for the yarn vending machines. They surely make more sense than Proactiv vending machines. A skin crisis is not going to be solved in an airport, but a yarn crisis could.

  7. OHMAHGARD GAIL THAT’S ONE OF THE CASCADE LABELS. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!!!!! YOU PULLED HALF OF A THORN OUT OF MY PAW!

  8. I have been thinking of yarn shops in airports for years, think “quick kits” and “learn to knit kits” for newbies. Enough of the flight attendants knit to help out too!
    Perhaps we could invest and start an MDK franchise of shops, there are enough of us to cover a lot of airports!

  9. I am all for airport yarn stores. I have had too many knitting emergencies on the road. At least in a car with a smart phone you can find the closest shop to deal with the emergency. If you are at the airport – tough luck.

  10. I was just dropping in to point out the label, but, then, this always has been a sharp group!
    Now, the ones with sharp eyes can take over.
    I don’t know about that vending machine. Imagine the agony when a skein of cashmere gets caught on the way down???

  11. Heh, Gail, I saw that label immediately and thought “well, there’s one right there.” Good call.
    Interesting cowl, love your colors. Glad you had fun. Feeding teenaged boys should be an Olympic sport or have it’s own FEMA department.

  12. Heh, Gail, I saw that label immediately and thought “well, there’s one right there.” Good call.
    Interesting cowl, love your colors. Glad you had fun. Feeding teenaged boys should be an Olympic sport or have it’s own FEMA department.

  13. How is it that I haven’t run across that “Pine Bough Cowl” pattern before? I’m loving it! Just added it to the never-ending queue…

  14. I am on a quest for a “magically light, airy” and very plain cowl or infinity scarf that I can wear in the hot summer. I want to avoid things with ends such as shawls or mini-shawls or even traditional scarves, because it seems like anything with an “end” needs to be continually adjusted and re-adjusted and that drives me insane. Plus, in order to keep it on, I would have to wrap it closely around my neck and that would be too hot. Maybe something like a very light version of London Cowling…. Or maybe I could figure out how to make an infinity scarf/cowl version of the Hakusa scarflette thingie….

  15. Great poem. If Shakespeare had been thinking about yarn instead of you-know-what, this is what he would have written.

  16. I am so staggered at the logic and beauty of airport yarn shops, I will have to come back and read the rest of this post later. Really, when an idea is this good, I don’t know why Richard Branson hasn’t already done it. Quick! Get there first!

  17. Our poet laureate!
    How did you like Hearst Castle? My parents took me there when I was ten. It just KILLED me that they wouldn’t let visitors swim in the Neptune pool. To this day I still dream of swimming there. . .

  18. Well, I have to say that your beeeutiful cowl Looks! like pine boughs! And re: teenage boys …I only had one and it took years to for the food budget to breathe normal again after he finally moved out. He still has a thing for food at 40+ and is quite the good cook.
    Back to knitting: Who will pick up the gauntlet of creating the entrepreneurship of Airport Knitting Kiosks?
    The poem is priceless!!

  19. Love the idea of MDK yarn shops in the airports, Ann! I’ll volunteer to staff the one at DFW Airport, which I see you flew through, by the AA ticket. My house is only 4 miles from the south end of the airport, freeway the whole way, so it’s a quick trip for me.
    I can’t help you out on the sorta-vintage Cascade 220 yarn, though. But, if you’ll send me an email with the shade numbers (if you find the other label), I’ll ask at my knitting group tonight if anyone has any. Several group members have large stashes of Cascade 220, so we might be able to scare up some skeins for you.
    Mary G. in Texas

  20. Yarn Stores in Airports – YES. PLEASE. SOON.

  21. Oops! When I hit send on that post, I realized that my old email address was on file. Don’t send an email to that address, because I won’t get it. Send an email to this new email address.
    Mary G. in Texas

  22. Wonderful, wonderful eulogy.
    (But, I’d rather have the yarn).

  23. That sonnet actually makes me feel better.

  24. Oh my god can growing boys eat! It’s really a marvel to behold. I have watched mine eat a GIANT sandwich(a la NYJewish deli proportions) and then chase it down with half a box of Entemanns donuts! Amaaaazing

  25. Yes! Your sonnet describes the Denim exactly as I remember it!

  26. Slightly weepy at your poetic words.
    Also was completely weepy at the bit about travelling with teenagers who like to eat. My gawd, that gets expensive, feeding kids on the road…

  27. Lovely post! But re: the Habu copper yarn. But, do you really feel that you can accept no substitutes, not even those suggested by the pattern? I realize that the metal blend yarn is key for a shapeable scarf, but the pattern does allow for other yarns besides copper. Just sayin…
    Alternate Yarn Suggestions:
    Yarn A
    Habu Textiles XS-45 Wool Stainless Steel
    Habu Textiles A-20/21 Silk Stainless Steel
    Dairing D-10 Cotton Stainless Steel
    Dairing D-82 Silk Stainless
    Yarn B
    Habu Textiles A-33 Fine Merino
    Habu Textiles A-177 Fine Merino
    Habu Textiles N-58 Soft Merino
    Habu Textiles A-34 Cashmere
    Dairing D-28 Alpaca

  28. Love the sonnet. Anyone for a Sonnet Club?
    Count me as another vote for airport yarn. Maybe just a distribution company that could get it stocked in those convenience stores after you pass security? If you can buy neck pillows and meds and paperbacks, why not yarn? (Failing yarn, I’d settle for knitting magazines.)

  29. Oooo, I’ve never been tempted to try fair isle… UNTIL NOW!

  30. want to get in on the ground floor of the airport yarn shops…. this idea may really have legs… hmmm. hmmm.

  31. Love the PCH. My husband and I alternate Xmas vacations between his homeland of Wisconsin and sunny California because hard-earned vacations should be somewhere warm and fun.
    2 years ago we did the PCH from San Fran to LA and we stopped to look at the elephant seals too. They are the largest wild animals we have ever seen in person in their natural habitat. We’re planning to go back this winter.
    I’m prepping for our family trip to,Taiwan, so looking for a good, easy but interesting travel project. A 2 color fair isle scarf may be the thing…

  32. We went to Hearst Castle too, right at sunset. Standing by the pool with the neo-Classical columns with big pink fluffy clouds in the shy was like being in a Maxfield Parrish painting

  33. It’s possible that the discontinuation of Rowan Denim has just been rendered Worth It in the cosmic balance, having provided the spark for your fabulous sonnet. That deserves to be set in cross stitch (perhaps worked in a single ply of Denim?) and hung on the living room wall for the ages.

  34. Love the cowl – can see what you liked. Quite graphic. I just added it to my list. Agree with the discontinued yarn – if only we could forsee the future when we purchase for stash!!!!!!!!!

  35. Wow, you picked that gauntlet right up and waxed poetic! Lovely.
    You were in my old stomping grounds: gorgeous Morro Bay. I nearly retired there when I graduated from Cal Poly SLO. But I thought I should probably wait a few years.

  36. I think that what you meant to say is that you have a fever and the only cure is more cowl.

  37. I want a yarn kiosk. One side for sock weight with appropriate needles, one (short) side for workhorse DK with appropriate needles, and the last (long) side for worsted and bulky with needles. It would be awesome.