January 2015 FO: Cabled Brioche Scarf

During a trip to Germany, we had almost a two-hour visit with the owner of Atelier Zitrón who after talking about the quality fibers they used, walked us into a showroom full of yarn spun especially for hand-knitting. Three skeins of Opus 1 yarn have been in my stash since. The skeins come infused with aloe vera and jojoba.

Opus 1 Center Pull Balls

When I came across the Cabled Brioche Stitch Scarf pattern, I knew it would showcase the vibrant colors of the yarn.

Opus 1 Brioche Scarf 1

Opus 1 Brioche Scarf 2

The brioche pattern creates a nice loft and the cabling adds layers and depth.

Opus 1 Brioche Scarf 3

The rich colors add yet another element of interest.

Opus 1 Brioche Scarf 4

This one might be a knit gift to me.

A Place for Weaving

During our trip to Comfort in search of yarn, we discovered another little gem in the quaint historic district. Comfort Crockery is immediately across the street from The Tinsmith’s Wife. The main area is dedicated to original artwork by local and regional artists. The items included pottery, glassware, jewelry and mesquite furniture. But what really drew me in was a sign that read “Loom Room.”

It turns out that Comfort Crockery offers weaving classes and all the tools needed by spinners and weavers alike. They had spindles, spinning wheels, fiber and looms. I chatted with the owner who gave me a preview of wonderful things to come. She led me through a hallway that opened up into a cavernous room that was to become the Loom Room. There were piles of lumber, saw horses and tools scattered throughout. The room was being carefully renovated.

As I soon learned, Comfort Crockery is housed in a historic building designed in the mid-1800’s by architect Alfred Giles of San Antonio. The town itself was settled by German immigrants who were “freethinkers.”

Freethinkers were German intellectuals who advocated reason and democracy over religious and political authoritarianism. Many had participated in the 1848 German revolution and sought freedom in America. They strongly supported secular education and generally did not adhere to any formal religious doctrines. They applied themselves to the crafts of physical labor and divided their time between farming and intellectual pursuits. Freethinkers advocated universal equal rights, and their moral values were dominated by their respect for life. They actively supported such social issues as the abolition of slavery and the rejection of secession. (Source)

So our quaint afternoon in search of yarn became a wonderful mini history lesson. These are some of the things I saw at Comfort Crockery.

Knitting in Comfort

Anytime I travel, besides booking a room and mapping out my route, I always look up local yarn stores. On our girl’s weekend to Fredericksburg, I found two listings that looked promising but turned into dead ends. Stonehill Spinning simply wasn’t there. In its place was a vitamin shop. I have nothing against vitamins but it was disappointing. The next shop, Things in a Room, was there on Main Street but no longer carried yarn.

But our adventure didn’t end in Fredericksburg. On our way back, we took US 87 south toward Interstate 10, which took us through Comfort, Texas. There, on a balmy Sunday afternoon, was The Tinsmith’s Wife.

The Tinsmith's Wife - Interior

Located in the historic downtown, The Tinsmith’s Wife fills six large rooms with beautiful, colorful, exquisite yarn. There is one room with a large table for sitting and knitting. Other sitting areas are scattered throughout. This one was my favorite. Can you imagine sitting there, knitting in comfort and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face?

The Tinsmith's Wife - Sitting Area

Then there was the yarn.

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 1

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 2

Feeling light-headed yet?

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 3

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 4

You should have seen my mother and my aunt. They behaved like giddy school girls trying on the sample knits and choosing the yarns they wanted so that I could knit shawls, scarves and sweaters for them. Clearly they forgot that I actually do have a day job and do not, as much as I would like, spend all my days knitting.

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 5

The Tinsmith's Wife - Yarn 6

Wendy, the owner, was lovely and helpful. She let me know that The Tinsmith’s Wife is a stop along the 2014 Hill Country Yarn Crawl. The dates are already on my calendar.

2014 Hill Country Yarn Crawl Logo
(Source)

Girl’s Weekend

Mom turned seventy-something this month and I had been contemplating a mother-daughter weekend for some time. To make it even more fun, we invited my aunt whom I had not seen in a while. Thus began our girl’s weekend.

The destination was Fredericksburg, Texas. Fredericksburg was founded by German immigrants and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. (Source). It is located among the rolling stretch of the Texas Hill Country just a short drive from Luckenbach, Texas. Yes, the one with “Waylon and Willie and the boys.”

We took the scenic route on Farm Road 1376 to get there and made our first stop in Sisterdale, Texas (population 25). Housed in a restored cotton gin is the winery for Sister Creek Vineyards.

Sister Creek Winery

We toured the various rooms where the grapes are turned into Merlots, Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Oak barrels were neatly arranged in rows fermenting the wine. A sign read, “Employees only please. Our wine is resting.” After a wine tasting, we packed up a couple of bottles and hit the road again.

Upon arriving in Fredericksburg, our first stop was the cottage which would be our home for the weekend. Words cannot describe how adorable this place is – all 440 comforting, quaint and cozy square feet. Mom said it was like staying in a life-size doll house.

The Cottage

Once settled in, the rest of the weekend was filled with one delight after another. It turns out that the monthly Fredericksburg Trade Days was during our girl’s weekend. Trade Days is a giant flea market with 7 barns and various acres of antiques and collectibles. The girls were giddy with excitement stopping at every booth, finding shabby chic and rustic decorations, and sampling Texas salsas and peach jams.

Trade Days 1

Trade Days 3

Trade Days 2

For meals, we ate hearty German food and locally-brewed lagers and ales at the biergartens and steakhouses; and creamed corn frito pies and bacon-wrapped grilled jalapeños at the food stalls at Trade Days.

On Sunday morning, after enjoying hot coffee and the freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies left at the cottage by our host, we stopped at Wildseed Farms. Wildseed Farms has acres of zinnias, sunflowers, dahlias, and other wildflowers; and rows of vegetables and shrubs. Everything is labeled so that one can buy the seeds or plants from the nursery.

Wildseed Farms Nursery 2

Wildseed Farms Nursery 3

Wildseed Farms Nursery 4

Wildseed Farms 2

Wildseed Farms 1

Wildseed Farms 3

We shopped, slept, did our make-up together sitting at the cozy kitchen table, talked, laughed, and enjoyed life. Just us girls.

Wildseed Farms Nursery 1

August FO: Purple Ribbed Hat

I had a knitting fail last month. This lovely Habu 100% linen yarn was to become a loosely knit flowing sort of scarf. I diligently knit and purled alternating rows. Simple, repetitious, relaxing. And then I dropped a stitch.

It unravelled two rows down. I carefully un-knit and un-purled a couple of rows. But the stitch kept dropping further. As I kept undoing rows, more stitches dropped, and dropped. It simply wasn’t meant to be. I ripped it all out, wound it back into a little ball, and put it away.

Habu Linen Stockinette Stitch

I still had a couple of balls of the purple gradient yarn leftover from the hand warmers. I wanted a ribbed, stay on my head kind of hat, so I knit one up. Very simple pattern – KKKPPP Repeat.

KKKPPP Ribbed Hat

Now I have a nice set and continued using up the stash.

Zitrón Purple Hat & Hand Warmers

The next project is a big one, a blanket for the other son. No more purple for a while.

July FO: Purple Handwarmers

Knitting in the middle of a hot and humid Texas summer is not always pleasurable, but small projects make it tolerable and have allowed me to continue knitting through my stash.

Purple Hand Warmers in Progress

I’ve been wanting to use a lovely merino yarn that I bought when visiting Germany. This yarn is enriched with aloe vera and jojoba. What could possibly be better?!

Purple Hand Warmers 1

The yarn is by Zitrón. I had the pleasure of visiting with the owner of the company.  Zitrón is a family-owned business dedicated to making yarn especially for hand knitting. You can read more about it here.

Purple Hand Warmers 2

Purple Hand Warmers Close-up

The pattern came from Purlbee with minor modifications for the right gauge.

Purple Hand Warmers 3

I have enough of this purple-black-gray yarn for another small project. Perhaps a quick beanie to match?

Sparkling Glass from Germany

While walking along the endless mazes of the Christmas Markets, we stopped at one booth and watched as a craftsman made beautiful hand blown glass ornaments. These sparkling ornaments now adorn our tree. If you want to see how they are made, this post has more information.

(Click on any thumbnail for a full-screen view).

Atelier Zitron

A knitting trip would not be complete without the opportunity to see, touch and buy yarn. We drove through the Ruhr region to arrive in Wickede, about an hour east of Dusseldorf. We were greeted at Atelier Zitron by the proprietor, Herr Klemens Zitron.

Right away, Herr Zitron took us into the yarn showroom. (If you are a knitter, you can only imagine how difficult it was to keep from running and throwing myself onto the yarn.) Zitron yarn is sold throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. They are more widely known for their sock yarns, and we saw plenty of sock yarn in bright colorways. But the range of Zitron yarns goes far beyond socks.

Their lace weight yarn is exquisite. Herr Zitron showed us various pieces knit with their lace weight yarns – light and airy shawls with intricate patterns.

We spent a good deal of time on the Gobi line. Gobi is a particularly high-quality worsted weight yarn that comes in a series of solid earth tones. It is made from a blend of three luxurious fibers – 40% extra fine merino wool, 30% camel, and 30% alpaca. (I brought home 15 balls in black.) Herr Zitron explained that it is not necessary to knit with chunky yarn to keep warm. One must use high quality yarn that feels good against the skin. A good yarn will keep you warm without overpowering you.

Back in his office, Herr Zitron shared his insights on the fibers that go into producing Zitron yarns. He took out small bags, each filled with a natural undyed fiber. As we touched each one, he made us guess what the fiber origin was. We touched raw merino wool, mohair, and camel, among others. The camel was the most surprising. It was incredibly soft, and strong. He had us feel raw wool typically used for sock yarn. He then placed the wool used in Zitron sock yarn in our hands. The difference was instantly noticeable. Both wools were soft and felt good on the skin, but the wool used in Zitron yarn was splendidly soft and supple. Herr Zitron has discerning taste and only chooses the highest quality fibers to produce the yarns that carry his name.

At Atelier Zitron, they are constantly innovating. Herr Zitron gave us a sneak peek at their Spring yarn collection. All I will share is that it is exquisite. The colorway has a special sheen to it that any knitter would find enchanting. Other than that, you will have to look for it in 2012.

By the end of our visit, we finally had an opportunity to shop. Here is a sampling of my purchases.

Zitron yarn
Opus 1 - 100% Merino wool enriched with Aloe Vera and Jojoba.
Zitron yarn
Unisono - 100% Merino extra fine, enriched with Aloe Vera and Jojoba.

Zitron yarns are made especially for hand-knitting. All yarns are made in Germany. Learn more about Zitron yarns at their website.

{Zitron logo source}