One of my local yarn shops, Do Ewe Knit?, was having a sale about two weeks ago. You gotta love a sale, right?! Everything was 25% off, so I drove my yarn-loving butt there and spent over an hour making my way through all the yarn. Not only did I finally get three fingering weight yarns in the navy blue-yellow-cream combo that I've been looking for (surprisingly few shops carry navy blue and/or bright yellow fingering weight yarn - what's up with that?!), but I also indulged in some Blue Sky Alpacas Extra.
I'd typically never purchase a skein of worsted weight yarn for nearly $30, but this yarn is amaaaaaazing. The shop's owner, Karen was raving about it, and for such good reason: its softness level is off the charts, and I couldn't stop touching it. I purchased it in Lake Ice, wound it as soon as I got home, and got started on a hat as soon as I found a pattern worthy of such beautiful yarn.
I decided on Stovetop by Tin Can Knits, a pattern I'd been eyeing for a while. It's available for $5 on Ravelry, or as a part of Road Trip, a collection of 14 patterns available as an eBook for $18 or print + ebook for $23 plus shipping. It's a stunning combo of moss stitch (looooove) and unique cables (looooove x2); the cables look complicated, but the pattern was actually super easy to follow. I seriously recommend it to a beginner knitter who wants a challenge or an experience knitter who wants a beautiful finished product.
But speaking of Do Ewe Knit? - I had a really good experience there this past time. This is something that's been happening to me a lot lately, and I'm very grateful for it. When I first started knitting, I would only knit with yarn from the craft store because I didn't know that there was such a huge market of nicer knitting supplies and so many stores that sold them.* But when I finally did, I still wasn't even twenty. And, unfortunately, going into specialty knitting stores for yarn was always an uncomfortable experience because I felt so out of place. I was young, in college, and with no money (and convinced that everyone knew it). I didn't think I was "a good enough knitter" to be shopping for yarn that was nicer and fancier than any I'd ever knit with.
Maybe it's my own attitude that's done a 180-degree turnaround, or perhaps it's because I'm a few years older now, but my visits to these yarn shops are now fun and interesting and not racked with worry that the shop owner is judging my every move. There's still that awkward "I think they're watching me" feeling that often creeps in, but that pretty inevitable in small shops. Now I typically go in knowing I will buy something (and it's not out of necessity to prevent an awkward "thanks anyway" goodbye as I exit, like it used to be), and I'm sure I exude some abstract yet obvious sense of purpose as I walk in and make my way through the store. Either way, I'm grateful that I have these shops to visit, and that I live in an area where there are so many to choose from. At least New Jersey's good for something, right? ;-)
Here are a couple more of my recently finished hats. Need I repeat again how much I love hats? I made both of these using free patterns I found on Ravelry. Find the deets below each!
This pattern is super simple and makes a fun and quick slightly slouchy hat. I ran out of enough orange yarn to make a full orange pom pom, so I grabbed some spare Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in Fisherman and made one using that and the few yards of orange I had left. I kind of like it!
I knit this one up quickly with the intention of wearing it to the Strides Against Breast Cancer walk I did recently, but it ended up being warm enough that wearing a hat would have been a terrible idea! I changed to size 7 needles instead of the size 4 needles the pattern called for (am I really THAT loose of a knitter?!) and did one less repeat because I was afraid it would end up TOO slouchy. I'm thinking about adding a pom pom with the remaining yarn.
*I feel like I need a disclaimer here, even at the risk of sounding like a broken record: you do not need fancy schmancy yarn and knitting supplies to make a beautiful finished product. There are plenty of nice, high quality inexpensive yarns available at craft stores, and there is nothing wrong with shopping there! (Lion Brand, anyone?! Offered almost exclusively at chain craft stores, yet one of the most -- if not THE most -- successful yarn companies out there.) Shopping at more expensive yarn stores is fun, but if it's not your thing, all the more power to you! (And to your wallet!) My main idea here was that I'm beginning to feel more comfortable at yarn stores, and that came with taking myself more seriously as a knitter, not because I thought other people took me more seriously as a knitter. For real though, if anyone ever puts you down for making something out of inexpensive yarn, roll your eyes and tell them to get a life.