Archives for posts with tag: artfibers

I was interested to see today that Knit Picks is continuing their expansion into the cult classic yarns market with a knockoff of Rowan Kidsilk Haze called Aloft. $6.99 for a 25 g skein–about half the price of Kidsilk Crack. I wonder how it compares with Elann’s longtime contender, Silken Kydd? Or Artfibers Tsuki? Or Shibui Silk Cloud? (oops–edited table to add Lion Brand Silk Mohair, which I’d forgotten)

All pre-packaged yarns weigh 25g Rowan Kidsilk Haze Elann Silken Kydd Knit Picks Aloft Artfibers Tsuki Shibui Silk Cloud LB Silk Mohair
Mohair/silk ratio 70/30 70/30 75/25 60/40 60/40 70/30
Yardage 229 yds 232 yds 246 yds n/a, sold by the yard 330 yds 231 yds
Super kid mohair specified in fiber content? Y Y N Y Y Y
Suggested gauge 18-24 sts/4” 18-24 sts/4” Not specified 22 sts/4” 20 sts/4” 17 sts/4”
Suggested needles US 3-8 US 2-6 Not specified US 6 US 7 US 8
Colors 31 currently listed 7 currently in stock 15 currently listed 19 currently listed 13 currently listed 6 currently listed
Price $14.95 $6.50 $6.99 n/a, sold by the yard $17.00 $8.00
Price per yard 6.5 cents 2.8 cents 2.8 cents 4 cents undyed, 5 cents dyed 5.2 cents 3.5 cents

Thoughts:

  • KSH has the best color selection but is also crazy expensive (in case you hadn’t noticed).
  • Tsuki has a more limited color range, but is also the only one that offers hand-dyed multicolors
  • Tsuki and Silk Cloud have the highest silk content, Aloft has the lowest
  • Silk Cloud is sold in the highest-yardage putup
  • I don’t think the suggested gauge or needles are significant–I’m sure these are all interchangeable
  • I’m not sure if the lack of “super kid” designation on Aloft was intentional. Maybe it’s scratchier than the others?
  • Silken Kydd is the cheapest per skein
  • However, Silken Kydd and Aloft are the same price per yard
  • Knit Picks offers free shipping for orders over $50, and shipping is pretty darn cheap even when you have to pay for it, so once you factor that in, it’s probably the cheapest choice by far… on the other hand, Shibui and KSH are sold through retailers instead of direct to consumer, so you have a better chance of finding random sales or discount codes than with the other yarns
  • Silk Cloud seems the most expensive but is actually quite a bit cheaper than KSH once you look at the yardage

EDIT: Feb 22, KP confirmed that Aloft also uses super kid mohair!

Here are some projects I’ve made with

Honestly, though, I couldn’t tell you the difference between any of them unless I had them side by side.

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of a whole project with Silk Cloud, Lion Brand Silk Mohair, or, obviously, Aloft.

Next I hope Knit Picks comes out with a knockoff of Rowan Calmer!

Edited for full, FCC-compliant disclosure: after I wrote this post, the folks at Knit Picks kindly sent me 3 skeins of green Aloft yarn for free! (I didn’t know they were going to do that when I wrote it.)

Today’s installment of “What’s taking over orata’s house now?” is brought to you by the fiber Silk.

Elann’s latest foray into Rowan Kidsilk Haze territory is a new yarn called Silken Kydd. They already had a similar mohair laceweight named Super Kydd, a mohair/nylon blend, but their newest offering is actually 70% super kid mohair, 30% silk, just like Kidsilk Haze–and at $6.50 a skein, it’s half the price.

I love the KSH color “Liqueur,” so I got a couple of skeins of Silken Kydd in “Baked Apple” to see if it might be a suitable substitute:
elann silken kydd baked apple

I’ll post some notes once the yarn is actually in my hands and I’ve had a chance to knit it up.

Artfibers Tsuki is a super kid mohair/silk laceweight similarly priced to Silken Kydd, but the colors are limited. I have some gossamer lavender and pink in my stash (I made a Branching Out with some of the lavender last year, but still have half a skein left over) but sadly, they don’t carry that wonderful deep, bloody burgundy.

My mom got me two skeins of this handpainted Manos Silk Blend from Stash, in the colorway “Wildflowers.” I think I’ll use it for a half-linen-stitch scarf for her–for Christmas, if I can manage it, but I have a backup gift plan for her, so this project will wait till last. This is a 30% silk, 70% merino DK weight singles.

manos silk blend wildflowers

I bought two skeins of Fibre Company Terra at Article Pract. This is really pricey, but it’s some of the most gorgeous yarn I have ever seen–the slubby veil of color over the contrasting core is stunning. The two colors I got were “Redwood” and “Light Indigo.” I’m still not sure I made the right choice. I think I might make a two-color brioche scarf from these. 60% merino, 20% baby alpaca, 20% silk.

light indigo fibre company terra

redwood fibre company terra

redwood and light indigo fibre company terra

And while I’m on the topic of silk, here’s an old FO: the Dream Swatch (caution, link is a PDF) in an unnamed vegetable-dyed wool/silk from Deep Color Studio, a small spinning/felting/dyeing shop around the corner from my old house. This has great sentimental value for me, as I bought it just before we moved away from California, and knit it in the car as we drove along the great, dry, sun-drenched highways of the West on our way out to Indiana, finishing it in some seedy motel room in Colorado as we watched late-night true crime shows. I didn’t get around to taking proper pictures of it till now. The colors are great. It’s too short to be much of a scarf, but I can use it quite effectively as a headband. (The modeled pictures are less than flattering, so I won’t post them here, but you can find them on Ravelry)

dream swatch 1

dream swatch 2

dream swatch 3

Pattern: Knit and Tonic‘s Dream Swatch (link is a PDF)

Yarn used: Chunky vegetable-dyed wool/silk blend from Deep Color Studio, 1 skein (110 yards)

Needles used: Size 10

Started: July 27, 2006

Finished: July 29, 2006

Size: Headbandy (let me know if you’re interested in the exact dimensions, and I can measure it)

Mods: I only used 3 repeats of the pattern across instead of 4, and changed needle size to match the yarn.

Notes: Oh-so-pretty, an easy way to show off a handpainted yarn. I saw a pair of fingerless gloves at Urban Outfitters one day and was intrigued by the way the color striped. Looking more closely, I saw that it used this stitch pattern. The elongated stitches make each little run of color in the skein stretch much farther, and serve to break up pooling, so it’s really a great treatment for a variegated yarn. I would actually recommend using a lighter, drapier yarn, like the recommended bamboo–the chunky wool/silk is stiffer than I’d like. (In any case, drape or no drape, I get a lot of compliments on this when I wear it out.)

It’s been getting cold, and closer to Christmas, and both of those are inspiring a stream of little bagatelles…

I forgot to include my ball of gray Cotswold-angora roving in this picture (and the dishwater gray Hideous Panties) but I thought it would be nice to put together a little still life of the various grays, cool and warm, matte and shiny, that I’ve been working on lately:

In the back, my Lara sweater; clockwise from there, my feather and fan cowl in silver Artfibers Ming, pinned with a beautiful Perl Grey ringstick from Purlescence; my Dryad Mitts in Squirrel Heather Knit Picks Swish; and a skein of local, millspun alpaca from the farmer’s market–worsted weight, 50g/110 yards.

So the Ming Cowl is done, and I’m suffering from Ming withdrawal. Sigh… look at this stuff.


Apparently, I can make this heap of silvery gorgeousness look like a crumpled heap of grayish fabric when I wear it, but I think it’s beautiful anyway.

Pattern: the Luxe Neck Warmer from Knit 2 Together

Yarn used: Artfibers Ming, Color 08

Needles used: Size 10/6mm Denises

Started: 10/14/07

Finished: 10/25/07

Notes: This is the second time I’ve knit this pattern. It’s a nice pattern, if more decorative than truly warm.

So that’s one thing. Here’s another. The farmer’s market alpaca from the top picture quickly turned into another warm gray winter accessory:

Pattern: Cat Bordhi’s Cashmere Moebius Cowl

Yarn used: Alpaca from the Bloomington Farmer’s Market for the main part of the cowl; my own handspun angora for the edging. The white angora fluff I used (“roving” seems like such a harsh word) was from Breezy Manor, and was the leftovers from the second mini-skein I spun up and Navajo-plied for Last Minute Knitted Gifts angora booties for my friend Jen’s newborn baby.

Needles used: Size 10/6mm 40″ Addi Turbos

Started: 11/5/07

Finished: 11/5/07

Mods: I ran out of alpaca yarn, so I switched to the angora for the edging, made it through only rows 1-3 of the lace edging, then started to run out of angora as well and began to bind off. I ran out of yarn during the bindoff, and had to use the no-yarn crochet hook bindoff for the rest of it. Thankfully, the unusual shape of the cowl means that a tight bindoff will not impede getting the finished object over your head.

Notes: I loved using this alpaca. It felt so fluffy and light while I was using it that I felt like I was knitting with cake frosting, or whipped cream. It’s warm and utterly soft and fluffy around my neck, and the rather hard, overspun, rope-like twist I put into the angora is good for durability, and keeping the angora from shedding and flying away too much. I took pictures with my preferred way of wearing it–tight against my neck with the half-twist overlapping in front like a shawl collar, and the excess fabric folded down to tuck into my coat. I think Cat Bordhi’s version has a smaller circumference, which seems more attractive as an accessory but less warm for the chest. I might try the pattern again, subtracting one pattern repeat.

The pattern uses Cat Bordhi‘s signature Moebius cast-on, basically a clever way of getting your needle through both the top and the bottom loops of a provisional cast-on, with the half-twist that makes the Moebius strip one-sided. The Girl from Auntie has a great series of posts about approaches to knitting Moebius strips, and Thomasina has compiled a big list of links to other Moebius patterns on her geeky knitting page.

“A mathematician confided
That a Möbius band is one-sided,
And you’ll get quite a laugh,
If you cut one in half,
For it stays in one piece when divided”

Have you ever knit a Moebius strip using Cat Bordhi’s method? I definitely recommend it as something to try at least once–it’s fascinating. The cast-on is for the “equator” of the Moebius strip, and the knitting grows up and down from there as you knit in the round. All the lace lines in this pattern slant the same direction as you’re knitting them, but once you’re done, you can see that they are facing you from the right side on one half of the strip, and on the wrong side from the other half, so you have a half stockinette, half reverse stockinette cowl with chevrons of lace radiating out from its equator. You can probably see this best in the top picture I posted.

Argh, I’ve been feeling so busy, I have been wanting to take lots of pictures of stuff and knit and blog but I haven’t had a chance. A few of the things that have been occupying my time–pictureless, because I’m just taking a break from work:

Non-yarny stuff:

– Work and class (The Anthropology of Tourism. Lots of readings.). Not much to say about that, except that our last reading was about Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi as a postmodern, hyperreal tourist destination/Baudrillard simulacra. I was simultaneously interested in the ideas and annoyed with the ivory tower uselessness of critical theory. I bet this comes from being the daughter of an engineer and a literature professor–I swing between attraction to the useless-but-fascinating and the practical-but-uncreative. Also, I’m doing an extra job this month for the business school, so I spent last Friday night from 8:30 to midnight grilling undergrad business students about the idea they were trying to sell me.

– Biking in the midst of blazing fall colors and hunting for mushrooms in the Brown County woods. The trees are all kinds of orange and yellow and red right now–much better than last year, when they had just started to turn and then a big storm blew all the half-turned leaves off the trees. It rained last week but was dry last weekend, so we thought it would be a good time to go mushroom-hunting. We were looking for chicken of the woods mushrooms and found two huge yellow shelf mushrooms–one of them weighed probably 20 pounds!–but decided we didn’t have a positive ID on either one, and threw them away. At least we got some nice bike rides and hiking in.

– Making vodka apple pie. I found information about a new pie crust recipe from Cook’s Illustrated from one of my regular blog reads (but now I can’t remember who! sorry). It uses vodka instead of water to moisten the pie crust, under the theory that gluten doesn’t form in alcohol, only in water, so you create much less gluten in the crust by moistening with vodka. The crust came out pretty well–very buttery, no taste of alcohol. However, the dough was super-soft and friable, and fell apart when I tried to weave the lattice top like I usually do. I used dark red Winesap apples and the “Apple Pie I” and “Flaky Pie Crust” recipes from The Joy of Cooking, substituting vodka for the ice water in the pie crust. Jeanne brought over some Musgrave cider she had fermented and we had an appleicious evening.

– Sewing. I’m trying to follow a sewing pattern for the first time: I fell in love with this dress called Shari from Burda Style, and armed with some cheap fabric remnants, I’ve been diligently working my way through the pattern and its puzzling assembly instructions. I also learned how to use the bobbin winder on the sewing machine Rahul’s mom gave me. Yay! Figuring out the zipper foot is going to be a whole new world of frustration, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. The main body of the dress is red cotton with white polka dots. The lining and yoke insert are a white cotton with tiny white circles printed on it. (The print reminds me a lot of quinoa.) In theory, if the piping doesn’t defeat me, it will be trimmed in turquoise–turquoise bias binding piping and some turquoise ribbon with red flowers for the edge of the skirt. I find sewing a very tedious process, even though it takes much less time than knitting. All that cutting out of pieces and ironing and sewing and threading and rethreading the machine… it may produce nice finished objects, but the process is not nearly as soothing as sitting down with needles and yarn.

– Buttons. I experimented with polymer clay picture transfers the other night (another good use for vodka) and made the most fabulous dodo buttons. I am going to find something small and round to use to cut them out, and make a whole set. I think I might use the two buttons I made for another Giftblitz Basketweave Neckwarmer.

– Tonight I’m going to canoe on Griffey Lake in the moonlight, tomorrow I’m going to a Halloween party, and on Saturday I’m going to see the Dalai Lama give a talk.

– I finally got the new Terry Pratchett book, Making Money, from the library! I was like 10th in line on the holds list. I can’t wait to quietly hole up somewhere and read this.

Yarny stuff:

– I finished my Ming cowl and I’m wearing it now, unblocked. It’s lovely!

– I got some buttons for my Jess jacket. I dragged Rahul to Jo-Ann and he helped me pick them out–silvery/pewter reproduction antique buttons molded with a posy of daisies. They only had 4, so I’m going to have to go back for a 5th one in about a week. When we were at Jo-Ann buying the buttons, we saw a saffron-robed Tibetan monk carrying a big roll of red fabric to the cutting table for replacement robes. I love Bloomington.

– I have been swatching and adjusting charts, and I think I’ve sorted out the lace charts I’ve been working on and will hopefully have produced a finished object from them soon. Why is “no stitch” such a bitch to figure out? I guess technically I could just put them anywhere I want on the chart, but I feel like that’s bad form. Still not sure I’ve placed the “no stitch” symbols optimally, but you live and you learn.

– Robynn sent me the most beautiful shawl pin as a Storytellers spot prize. Thank you so much, Robynn–it’s perfect, I love it! I need to take some pictures of it with my Lara sweater and/or my Sea Silk Swallowtail shawl. (The shawl really deserves a better photoshoot than what I’ve given it so far.)

– I signed up for a Knit Picks sampler a while back on Ravelry. The idea was that you would send in a skein of yarn to the organizer and she would make a little card with snips of each contributor’s yarn so you could see samples of all the different types without paying for all the color cards or sample skeins. Then you would get your leftovers back at the end. The cranberry Decadence on the sample card is especially lovely, but I think they discontinued it–I don’t see it on the site anymore. Anyway, I started laughing when I opened the package because it contained a note attached to a mangled Gordian knot of alpaca laceweight: “Sorry, my cat got into your yarn. Here is $5 so you can buy some more.”

I am about halfway through my second Luxe Neck Warmer from Knit 2 Together. (I’m taking it slow this time.) This knit is pure sensory pleasure–the silvery variegated silk/wool gleams in subtle, semi-solid grays, like a South Seas black pearl, and the silk gives it a slight fuzzy haze that softens the stitch definition; it’s an incredibly soft and evenly spun singles yarn without a hint of over- or underspinning; and after lots of thrifty knitting with snaggy, sticky rubber band stitch markers, it feels like such a luxury using the pearl stitch markers I got from KnittyK8’s Etsy shop.

I also made a trip out to Hobby Lobby to shop for buttons for Jess and I can’t decide what kind to get–I’ll have to go out to Jo-Ann, because I had no luck at Hobby Lobby. I want one of the following:

– Smooth plastic buttons in a matching burgundy

– Plastic buttons in black or dark brown

– Fabric-covered buttons–maybe with a tapestry-like home decor fabric?  I think this might make the jacket look too dowdy.

– Crocheted button covers, like in the original pattern

It’s hard to decide what will make the jacket look chic and retro rather than old ladyish.