Archive for the “yarn” Category

Every so often I take a look at Blue Moon Fiber Arts to see if they’ve added anything new, or if anything jumps out at me. I really love the Socks that Rock yarn and invariably I find one or two (or five) colourways that I really want. Then I go check out the projects on Ravelry that were made in that colourway and wow, I am amazed at the differences.

Monsoon, for example. The picture of the skein looks like the yarn is two shades of gray, green, and a little bit of brown. But then, check out the socks that were made in this colourway. Where did all that blue come from? I still like it, but not quite as much as I thought I would from the original picture, so I’m not going to buy this one. The gray and green that I thought I’d be getting has a similar feel to the sock yarn I bought at Rhinebeck, anyway, so I’m finding it easier to resist now than when I first saw the colourway.

Green Eyed Monster is the same. I’ve been coveting this one since I first saw it. It’s even described as down and dirty greens, and reminiscent of Oscar the Grouch. So again, where did all the blue come from, and where has the brown gone? The picture on the website looks like Oscar, but those finished socks… not at all. I’m disappointed; if the socks had really looked like Oscar-colours I absolutely would have bought a skein, but I’m really glad I waited for some other people to knit it up so I could see what it looks like for real. I’m generally an optimistic and cheerful person, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Oscar. There’s a little bit of Grouch in all of us, sometimes!

Bella Coola is another one that I keep going back to look at. In the SCA I go by “Belaset,” and everyone calls me “Bella” for short. (note: I had this name well before those Twilight books came out. Grr.) Given my nickname, I thought this would be an appropriate yarn for me. The picture from Blue Moon shows two blues, green, and gray. The socks that people made actually look like they came from that same skein of yarn! I’m still tempted to buy a skein of this, but I’m holding out until I knit up some more of the sock yarn I already have in my stash.

I know that hand-dyed yarn can have a lot of variation from one batch to the next, but when it comes to Blue Moon, I will always check Ravelry first to see what projects have been made using a colourway before I choose to buy. The differences are sometimes so great! Their base yarn is wonderful and I love how it knits up, but I’d hate to be disappointed in a colour that just doesn’t match what I thought I’d be getting.

(Disclosure: These pictures are from Blue Moon’s site, though I saved them to my own webspace first. Hotlinking is bad, but I want to give credit where credit is due. If Blue Moon wishes me to take the pictures down, I will.)

I’ve started a page for the Knitting Pirate over on Google+, which I greatly prefer to Facebook. If you use Google+, please feel free to add the page to your circles and spread the word! And if you still only use Facebook, don’t worry – I’ll keep posting links to new posts over there, too.

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You know what this weekend is? The Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. I’m going to head up there on Saturday morning.

You know what I’m going to buy? NOTHING. Last year I came home with two and a half pounds of fibre that I’d bought, and then I was given another three and a half pounds of wool roving and a goodly amount of alpaca fleece. So this year I really don’t need anything.

You know what else? I’m a big fat liar. I can’t go there and buy NOTHING. That’s just an impossibility. But I’m not going to buy a LOT, okay? The only really splurgey thing I might get, if I find one, is a box picker to fluff up the eight pounds of alpaca fleece that’s too compacted to run through the drum carder the way it is. One day I’d like to have a triple picker and a supercard, but that day is not today.

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Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.
How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

Once upon a time, my entire yarn stash fit into this picnic basket. The top tray held all my tools, needles, and the ball bands from yarns I’d used. Underneath, I put all the yarn I owned. These days I laugh at that. The top tray of the basket still holds tools, but the main compartment is now completely reserved for handspun yarn – and it’s filling up!

I bought a bunch of large plastic totes at Costco, and sorted my yarn into them. One holds only sock yarn. Two are stuffed with raw alpaca fleece waiting to be carded and spun. A third has my collection of dyed fiber and a fourth has batts that I’ve carded and haven’t yet gotten the chance to spin. Yet another tote is for heavier yarns and leftovers from previous projects. I don’t have a picture of the totes, because it’s not really that impressive.

Right now all of this resides in my loft room, but the plan is to move them downstairs when Pirate-Husband and I finish building out the craft room in the basement. That should open up a lot of space for me upstairs. Who knows, I might even start letting the cats go in there!

Almost every yarn I own has been photographed, and each one has a listing in my Ravelry stash. That helps me to keep track of what I own, and when I’m having a bad day I can pull up the stash photos and think about the different projects that I’m going to make with all that beautiful yarn. I like making lists, so I’ve crosslinked my yarns with the projects in my queue. Of course, I don’t always work from my queue in order… but at least the organization is there.

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Day One: A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first, shall we? Noro Kureyon Sock. I want to love it. There’s so much about it that I could love. The colours, the striping, the rustic thick and thin, the way it softens in the wash. But then… I just can’t stand knitting with it. It’s hard. It’s rough. It feels like knitting with cotton because it has very little bounce and stretch, so it actually makes my hands ache after a few rounds on the sock. But every time I see it in the store, I want more of it. And the Stripey Striped Sock really is gorgeous. Maybe it would be better if I crocheted it? Or maybe I should just never buy it again.

But then there’s Cascade Heritage Sock. There is nothing about this yarn I don’t like – except maybe that it’s difficult to find some of the colourways in stores. The Cascade website shows Heritage in a multitude of colours, but even WEBS doesn’t seem to have most of them.

I’ve already made two pairs of socks out of this yarn, and there are two more skeins in my stash waiting to be knit up. (One of them will even be for myself!) It’s smooth and soft, but machine-washable and sturdy. I used it to design the Cakewalk Socks, which gives it even more of a place in my heart. The same yarn is available in solid colours, and also in 150g/492 yard skeins. I think it would be great for colourwork socks, too, although that may be a little on the ambitious side for my current knitting schedule. Maybe I could use it for colourwork armwarmers instead… ah, there I go, dreaming about the future again.

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Once again, I visited my sworn-sister the Knitting Ninja (along with a bunch of other friends) in her hometown of Ottawa for the annual Winterlude festivities. In addition to the usual things we do there – eat stew at the cook-off, drink lots of beer, buy fancy cheeses and make a meal of them, watch the Super Bowl – we visited two yarn stores.

Our first stop was the new Yarns Etc., where I acquired a skein of Cascade Heritage Paints in the understated blues and grays “Thunder” colourway. Understated blues and grays… if you’ve been following along for a while, you may have guessed that this is going to be socks for Michael. (And if you haven’t, now you know!) I have no idea when I’m going to get to them, and first he has to tell me where the last pair of socks could fit better, but eventually there will be a new pair of plain ribbed socks for him.

Since it was within blocks of our hotel, we walked down to Yarn Forward. Last year I’d gotten two skeins of Lang Merino 120, a smooth DK weight superwash yarn, in black. This year I supplemented them with three more skeins, one each of cream, green, and blue-ish. The colours aren’t exactly wintery, but somehow they remind me of winter. Blue and green are more springlike, but with the cream in there they make me think of ice. So I’m thinking of designing a Winterlude-inspired hat and armwarmers set to be my very first for-sale patterns.

To that end, I wandered around the ice sculptures in Confederation Park looking at, and sneaking pictures of, people’s hats. There was lots of inspiration to be found, since of course in February in Ottawa it’s cold enough for nearly everyone to be wearing a hat, and many of them are hand-knit.

Many of them also have earflaps, which was my motivation last year to knit the hat that I didn’t want to buy. I finished sewing the lining into my Winterlude Hat(tm) just a day before leaving, and got the cords in with some help from Pirate-Husband, and was quite pleased with how warm it was while I traipsed around Ottawa. There are a couple of things that I would change, if I were to be making it again: first, I’d make the earflaps wider. They are wider than my ears, but still let wind in unless I tied the cords under my chin. And second, I’d make the lining a teensy bit larger, because it felt as if the hat kept riding up on my head unless I tied the cords under my chin. So third, I’d make the cords a couple of inches longer, because it was hard to tie them while wearing gloves. Even without those things, I absolutely love my new hat. Wearing something made of yarn I spun myself is so gratifying! The polar fleece lining kept me from having a terrible case of hat hair, which is definitely a good thing. (I know I’m squinty in this picture. It was very bright out.)

Speaking of gloves, there’s another finger to repair on my Fleeps. They still kept my hands warm, though I can definitely feel that they’re getting thin. Maybe I can wear them for another year, but then it will be time to make another pair for myself. Meanwhile, Michael’s new Fleeps made their debut and did their job wonderfully. He says he’s going to show them off to everyone, and I totally believe him. The magnet-snaps that I sewed in are seriously awesome. My next pair will definitely have those included.

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End of year tallying-up post!

Incoming fibre in 2010:
3572 grams / 7.8 pounds – some handpainted top, some natural roving. Nearly four pounds of wool and one pound of alpaca were unexpected gifts to me! And I won a lovely 4 ounces of combed top in the Tour de Fleece, pictured here. It’s the brightest fibre I think I’ve ever owned.

Outgoing fibre in 2010:
Spun 450 grams / almost one pound. Participating in the Tour de Fleece sure helped with that number, but I’m hoping and planning to spin even more next year. Knitting with handspun yarn is a wonderful thing, and therefore I must make more yarn so that I can knit with it. This three-ply Corriedale would make great thick armwarmers, and I have some foresty green and gold merino/silk that would be wonderful as gloves or socks, and some bluesy-green Falkland that would be perfect as a hat.

Incoming yarn in 2010:
28 skeins in, which seems high, except eleven of them are small skeins for the twins’ sweaters.

Outgoing yarn in 2010:
19 skeins out, if I include the almost-done projects in my count. That might be cheating a bit. Twelve, if I only count 100% finished projects.

Here are the things I knit this year! Five pairs of socks, three of which were gifts. One pair was made from my very own handspun yarn. Two baby hats and a pair of baby booties, and an adult-size hat. Three more projects – Michael’s Fleeps, a hat and a secret baby gift – are very close to completion. Wow, I only finished two things for myself this year? Crazy.

Favourite project:
If I have to pick a finished project, Pirate-Husband’s Paraphernalia socks were the most fun to work on. Keeping them secret was part of the fun, and so was modifying the pattern to fit his feet.

If it’s not cheating too much to pick a project that’s not 100% completed, I’m going to say the Winterlude Hat(tm). It’s knit from two-ply Jacob yarn I spun myself, it was a fun challenge to do the colourwork and get it even, I learned how to do a crocheted edging, and it’s going to be the warmest hat ever after I line it with polar fleece.

Least Favourite project:
If I have to pick a project that I finished, I think it would be the Gnome Hat and Booties. Not because there was anything wrong with the pattern, but because the yarn was no fun to work with.

Since I liked everything I finished this year, I’m going to go back to an unfinished project and say the Kureyon socks. I love how they look, but knitting with the Kureyon sock yarn is no fun for me at all. Perhaps I will buckle down in 2011 and get them done, already, and never buy this yarn again. Some people really like it, so I’ll leave it to them.

Patterns Published:
Two! First the Sibling Socks, a fine-gauge sock that grew from the need for a suitable pattern to use with Trekking XXL at 45 stitches per four inches. Then, in a more sensible gauge, the similar Cakewalk Socks.

I’d like to release at least one new pattern in 2011, and maybe even two of them! I’ve got plans in mind, it really will just come down to having enough time to sit down and work on them.

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My brother and sister-in-law found out last week that both of the impending twins are girls! I am so excited to have two more little niecelings on the way. (Only a tiny bit of that is because “nephewling” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.) Right now they’re being referred to as Thing One and Thing Two… yes, my brother is a Dr. Suess fan, why do you ask?

I brought the KnitPicks catalogue with me to New York, and pointed out the Swish Worsted to my sister-in-law as the yarn I thought would be best for the twins’ sweaters. We had a lot of fun looking at the colours, but she already knew that she wanted one sweater to be pink, and one to be purple. It was just a matter of picking the right shades. The pink was easy, since there was only one that we liked – the other was way too bright. This colourway is called “Carnation”. Carnations are my favourite flowers, and maybe the Pink Nieceling will grow up to like them as well.

The purple was a little more difficult, since there were more shades to choose from. After going back and forth we decided that this “Amethyst Heather” would work well. The plan is to make two “Presto Chango” sweaters (link to free pattern on Jimmy Beans Wool) with an extra front panel in each colour. The twins can then wear solid colours, or swap their sweater-fronts for a new look. I’m considering making each panel with a different lace pattern so I don’t get too bored with knitting the same thing four times over. Two identical sweaters will be enough as it is; it’s a good thing that baby knits go so quickly!

I wasn’t sure how much of each colour to buy, so I asked the wise minds on the Ravelry forums, and we settled on five skeins per sweater. That should definitely be enough for the extra panel as well. Someone suggested that if there was enough yarn remaining after the sweaters were done, I could knit a hat. That seemed like such a good idea that I bought one extra skein in “Sugar Plum” to coordinate. If I have time, I’ll stripe it with the leftovers to make two not-quite matching hats.

The three yarn pictures in this post came directly from KnitPicks’ site. I’m sure I’ll take my own pictures as soon as the yarn arrives!

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I found out yesterday that one of the best local yarn stores, With Yarn In Front, is closing down. They were having a 40% off everything liquidation sale, so I stopped by on my way home to see if anything was left.

Most everything had been cleared out well before I got there, but I did find this skein of Sockin’ Sox, 436 yards of a wool, bamboo and nylon blend. I might not have bought this at its original price, but at 40% off it was definitely worth it. It will knit up into subtle stripes of red, tan and blue with black spots spattered throughout. I looked up some of the socks knit in the same colourway on Ravelry and I am leaning towards keeping it for myself for a pair of plain socks, though it might make a cute striped infant-sized sweater or a good-sized stuffed toy.

I’ve been looking for these things for a while. The sock in progress, which lives in my purse, has a tendency to slide on the needles and lose a few stitches, especially if I don’t take it out and work on it frequently. Maybe it’s giving me a hint? Anyway, I had a holder for a sock in progress that was made from a plastic toothbrush holder, but it was rough on the edges and snagged the yarn too often, so I stopped using it… and never made another. These little coils wrap around the needles together, and will prevent any further sliding. I think these will work better for me than the style of holder that goes around the whole project.

It’s always sad when a local yarn store closes. This is the second one in recent days. I never shopped at the other one, so its closing was disappointing but I didn’t feel much of a loss. With Yarn in Front was a wonderful store, with a wide selection of yarns, spinning fibers, and even wheels. I tried a Kromski Sonata there,which firmed up my decision to buy one. I will definitely miss the store. It’s so doubtful that a new LYS will open to replace it.

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Everyone knows that the yarn diet goes out the window when a friend announces a pregnancy, right?


I’m pleased that the solid red matches the red in the variegated colourway so well, and I’m curious to try knitting with this yarn. I generally don’t like cotton yarn, but it’s so good for babies’ sensitive skin. This yarn, Cascade Fixation, has 1.7% elastic in it. Will that help mitigate the harshness of knitting with cotton yarn, or will the elastic only make it even harder to knit up?

There’s really not much to blog about the project yet, since the yarn is still neatly wound up just as it came from the store. It will soon become a little hat and a pair of booties, but first I want to finish the Timey-Wimey socks. The baby isn’t due until late December, so I’m not hurried at all.

In non-knitting news (there’s such a thing?) I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I live on top of a mountain, and I thought it might be nice to share the view from my window. It was just luck that I had my camera on the table with me, since it’s usually nowhere in sight. But I’d just taken the pictures of the yarn and still had the camera out. When I saw the deer drinking from my fishpond, I grabbed the opportunity to shoot this quick video. Hope you like it! :)

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This is the last yarn I’ll be getting for a while, I think! It is Cascade Heritage Paints in the “Isle of Skye” colourway, and it seems like the perfect colours for Mom. I hope she doesn’t mind the tinges of purple amongst the blues!

I plan to make a simple ribbed sock, 64 stitches around, since my 64-stitch socks fit her just fine. The only measurement I need to get is the length of her foot, and then I’m good to go – as soon as I finish some other projects! (Psst, Mom, can you measure your foot for me please?)

It is becoming more difficult by the day to refrain from casting on for a new project! I’m doing my best to hold out but I don’t know how long I can manage…

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