At the end of July we flew to Buffalo to visit my parents and celebrate my dad's 74th birthday. My mom had been telling me about a wool farm in Freedom, NY. They have a shop, connected to their house called The Wool Room. They spin and dye an incredible selection of yarn in a variety of weights and styles. It was a glorious, sunny afternoon when we visited the farm and I got to meet some of the happy residents.
This basket is filled with my purchases, all worsted double and triple ply wool and alpaca.
Our next stop was WNY Yarns in the Town of Tonawanda, NY which is literally walking distance from my brother's house. Too bad he doesn't crochet! This is a relatively new shop that's been open for a little over a year. The owner, Heather Schwartz, is only 33! Meeting her and visiting her shop was such an inspiration. I love WNY and I am so proud of the entrepreneurs who continue to add value to a community so dear to me, especially females younger than me. They had a great selection of local yarn I had never seen before in addition to wide range of classics at very affordable prices. They offer plenty of knit and crochet classes for a variety of skill levels in an enormous location with a friendly and relaxing environment to work in. If I still lived in WNY, I swear I'd be hanging out there everyday!
Here are my purchases, all locally spun and dyed merino and alpaca from the Orchard Park, NY based spinners Death by Yarns.
This is the wavy scarf I started crocheting with some of the sparkly fingering yarn I bought. I already finished a 70" scarf and 1/2 and I'm going to make matching hats but I'm not posting photos yet because I'm giving them as gifts and I don't want to spoil them.
While I was home with my family, I finished the marine themed charity squares that I mentioned in my previous post. It was fun to get creative with limited supplies and free form crochet. I used a lot of hyperbolic crochet for the sponges and corals and basically just made everything up as I went along and added some minor embroidery embellishments.
My next stop was New Orleans, LA. Matt and I were down there for an annual philatelic event at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. One of my fellow knitting philatelists recommended that I check out a yarn and embroidery shop, walking distance from our hotel, managed by her daughter, aptly named The Quarter Stitch. Their customer service was impeccable. They wrapped my yarn in colorful tissues with curly ribbons like wool candy!
After returning to the Bay Area, my meet up group went on our field trip to Knitterly in Petaluma. What luck, the day we visited the shop, they were having a sale and all of the yarn I bought was 30% off! It's a great location, right in the heart of heart of downtown Petaluma. They offer a full range of classes and they had a lot of nice yarn that I haven't seen in SF.
Finally, in the midst of my galavanting, I finally finished Xena's mermaid tail in Madeline Tosh Mandala.
The base of the body starts with a 10 stitch round DC magic circle. The 3-D crocodile stitch is a lot easier than it looks. Working in a round you alternate rows of DC-SC-VS-SC for the foundation row. Then you SC 4 on each side of the V with a SC in between and SC between each "scale". The scales increase in increments of 5, using the following algorithm:
1st Foundation Round: DC-SC-VS-SC (for 5 total VS)
2nd Foundation Round: VS-DC-VS-DC in SC-VS-DC in SC-VS-DC-VS (for 10 total VS)
3rd Foundation Round: VS-DC-VS-DC in SC-VS-DC in SC-VS-DC-VS-VS-DC in SC-VS-DC in SC-VS-DC-VS (for 10 total VS)
...and if you chose to continue increasing, just add an extra DC in SC-VS-DC in SC-VS to the formula.
Even the wrong side of the body looks cool.
My camera simply does not do the luscious colors of this yarn justice!
The design of this pattern is the purest definition of a wool eater but it's worth it for the tangible, textured results. The tail is simply a ribbed SC increased by 3 chains every other row. Since I had some extra yarn left, last night I started making a matching hat. Now the only thing missing is my baby! Only a few more months until a photo opportunity becomes a reality. You can find a plethora of free youtube tutorials online to crochet your own mermaid tail. Eventually, if I have the time, I might make some more tails and sell them on etsy. It's just hard to put a reasonable price on a handmade product that uses nearly $100 worth of yarn and at least 10 hours of work.