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It’s damp and foggy outside, and I’m glad to be in. I have a colorwork knitting class to co-teach with Miriam today, but before that, I wanted to tell you about the Beguinage Swap and my Latest Obsession.

The Beguinage had its third swap! I love Beguinage swaps–they’re so much fun, and it’s spiffy to see how creative and thoughtful the swappers are. My loot:

So spiffy. And here’s the hand knit goodness (hidden under the other lovelies in the first photo):

Yes, the oven mitt is Malabrigo. 😀 I’ve even used it! Action shot!

That’s Chicken Marsala in the pan. Nom nom nom.

Before I tell you about my Latest Obsession, I’ll tell you about the Obsession before that. I really needed something to provide some “instant” gratification, something to give me the satisfaction of finishing something within a couple of hours, rather than a month or so. The project also needed to be interesting, preferably something I’d never tried before, to keep me from being bored.

Enter Little Entrelac Bags. (That’s a Ravelry link.) They’re cute, they’re fun, and I’d never done entrelac in the round before. Result:

They’re not felted yet. It seemed silly to just make and felt one, so I decided I needed to make more…I have just a couple more to make before I really feel like it’s worth it.

This is my Latest Obsession:

Okay, it doesn’t look like much now. But it will grow up to be the Tweed Baby Blanket. I’m not making it for a baby, though. I’m making it for me, to be worn as a Hap Shawl. (Yes, yes, I know–spring is coming. I won’t need a double-layer wool shawl. I don’t care.)

The yarn is Peace Fleece. I was originally going to use Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (I still want to someday), but Peace Fleece is about $3 less a skein, still lovely tweedy wool, and spiffy to work with. It’s wonderfully sheepy. Also, even when I’m not wearing the shawl, I can toss it artistically over the back of the couch. I love that about shawls.

While I’m talking about the yarn, I want to talk about the yarn shop. I bought the Peace Fleece at Rose and Ram Knit Shop and Studio. This was only my second visit. When I walked in, the shop was almost empty. (I think it was near closing time.) The single employee was amazingly helpful and kind. I showed her the pattern I was looking at making, and she wandered around the store with me, pointing out different options and samples to show me what the yarns would look like knitted up. What sold me on the Peace Fleece was that she raved about it, told me about how it behaved, and had me feel the cuff of the sweater that she was personally wearing (and that she, of course, had knitted for herself) to experience how soft the yarn was once it had been washed and blocked.

I love local yarn shops like this. I wish there were more of them. I also travel a lot, and I like going to cozy local yarn stores in the places I visit. So, I ask you: What are your favorite yarn stores? What do you like about them?