Archives for posts with tag: rowan

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.)

…for knitting big gray sweaters.

Here is the first one I have to show off:

Pattern: DROPS 103-1 Jacket in Eskimo or Silke-Alpaca with A-shape –the chunky-weight version.

Here’s what DROPS has to say about it: ” – Wind, rain and falling leaves… Leave dreary days behind and dress up super elegant and classy, and still high fashion this fall !”

Size made: Small (33″)

Yarn used: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky in 550 Damp, a dark gray with blue, green, and white tweed flecks. I used a little over 5 skeins (600 yards).

Needles used: US size 11/8.0 mm

Date started: January 5, 2010

Date completed: June 23, 2010

Mods/Notes:
I knit on this at a pretty good clip until I got to the sleeves and finishing–I think the sleeves took about a month each and the finishing took another two. (Real time = maybe 2 hours, but it sat in a basket waiting for buttons, blocking, and sewing for a loooong time.)

I decided to knit the sleeves from the top down, two at a time, magic loop, to make them the same length and avoid extra finishing work, but this backfired because I got really tired of dragging out this enormous pile of wool and turning it around and around in my lap every time I wanted to work on this sweater. It felt like it weighed about 10 pounds by that time and it just seemed like such an unpleasant task. In the end, if I had just knit the sleeves the normal way, I think it would have saved me a lot of time and trouble.

The other thing about doing the sleeves this way is that I suck at picking up stitches nicely, so I found after a few inches that there were big holes all around the armscye where I had picked up from the wrong part of the stitch or something. I had to go back and sew these shut at the end–so I didn’t even save myself the trouble of setting in sleeves! It was exactly the same amount of sewing as if I’d knit them separately and set them in afterwards.

If I find my more detailed notes, I will edit this later, but to the best of my recollection, this is what I did for the top-down sleeves: I sewed the shoulder seam and picked up 60 stitches at an even rate around the armhole, placed markers for the top 1/3 of the stitches on either shoulder, and short rowed back and forth, going past the wraps 2 stitches each time, until I had a sleeve cap. Went back to pick up all wraps and knit both sleeves in the round, two at a time, until a bit above elbow length. Decreased 2 stitches every 2″ (working the sleeve shaping backwards, in effect) until I had 50 stitches. Worked the sleeve edging in double moss stitch and bound off. You can see the sleeves are sort of saggy under the arms/balloony in shape, but it’s not too bad.

I bought some big green buttons at Jo-Ann Fabrics to match the green tweed flecks. I only put on two in the end–they looked a little crowded with the third one on there. I’m not terribly satisfied with the way the bottom of the left lapel kind of sags down in front–a product of the double-breastedness of this jacket, and no interior snap or button to hold that side up. It might be worth putting something in to keep it up. I noticed the same thing, though to a somewhat lesser extent, with the shrug I made for Casey from this same pattern (well, kinda sorta the same. Similar.).

The back looks really surprisingly nice, nicer than the front, actually, though now that I’m looking at it I wonder what I did with the “A-shape” of this sweater, as it just looks like it hugs my shape instead of flaring out properly:

Here is a slightly closer view where you can see the weird sleeve caps, saggy underarms, two buttons, and collar fold in all their glory:

When I was mournfully knitting those Sisyphean sleeves for months and months, I was thinking I wouldn’t be very happy with the end product and that I should just give it away at Christmas. Now that it’s done and blocked, though, I like it quite a bit more and might hold onto it. It has a bit more ease than many of my sweaters, so it’s surprisingly comfy, and less heavy than I thought it would be. However, I still don’t love it as much as the other ones I’ve seen that first inspired me to add this to my queue–e.g., the Flintknits olive green version–maybe I just need to try knitting yet another one? Or style it with dark skinny jeans instead of a summer sundress.

Let there be much rejoicing: I have a Finished Object!

Pattern: Flicca, by Anna Bell

Size made: Small

Yarn used: RYC Soft Tweed, color 005 Twig, approximately 14.5 skeins

Needles used: US size 10.5/6.5 mm

Date started: September 28, 2008

Date finished: November 19, 2008

Mods:

  • Knit about 2 extra rows on collar before starting short rows; knit another 4 rows or so after completing short rows.
  • Lengthened the ribbed buttonbands to match the deeper collar
  • Knit longer in 3×1 rib than I should have (15″ instead of 12″) and knit the 2×1 rib section to 22″ instead of 24″.
  • Crocheted along the back neck and partway around the armholes for stability, rather than sewing in a ribbon
  • Made the sleeves narrower by starting with 2×1 rib instead of 3×1 rib.

Notes:

(heavy sigh.) Somehow I thought the size 10.5 needles would make this knit fly by, but it turned out to be a big slog of a sweater. It took me a month and a half, including some good long blocks of marathon knitting–this is much longer than average.

Late last night, I finished seaming it all up and weaving in the ends, put on the finished sweater, and had that terrible sinking feeling that comes from realizing you have spent a month and a half lovingly handcrafting a garment with all the figure-flattering qualities of an inflatable sumo wrestler costume or caribou suit.

In its favor, it is nice and warm, light for its size, and really cozy. I haven’t blocked it yet, partly because it won’t fit in the sink and I’m going to have to fill up the washing machine to soak it, and partly because the idea of cuddling up in it and wearing it to work all day today was so appealing. I’m assuming that the messy appearance of the ribbing will improve somewhat once I’ve blocked it.

Also, despite the instructions to the contrary in the pattern, and the prospect of carrying around a gigantic pile of knitting for longer than necessary, I think I should have modified this to be as seamless as possible: the fronts and back in one piece, the sleeves in the round, raglan decreases a la Craftoholic, and the buttonbands and collar all in one piece. The seams are so bulky in this yarn that they don’t hang nicely.

The shawl collar is knit separately from the front buttonbands and seamed to them at the base of the neckline, which is nice in the sense that you never have to deal with too many stitches on the needle at once, but the problem is that the collar keeps flipping over so the seams are visible (and they are right in the middle of the chest; you can see the collar seams quite clearly in these photos). Knitting the collar in halves and seaming along the back of the neck probably would have worked better.

Given the generous sizing, I’m glad I didn’t buy toggles or buttons to fasten the front. I think the most attractive solution for keeping it closed may be to sew a button to the side, just under the bust (where I’m holding the edge in the photos) and crochet a little button loop on the opposite front.

Anyway, I’m DONE! Finally! And that means I’ve completed half my goals for NaKniSweMo (National Knit a Sweater Month: I’m knitting along with the Stash and Burn groupies) and now I just have to finish one more sweater in November. Easy, right? I just have to pick something the size of a normal sweater rather than the size of a queen-size duvet.

More gory details about exactly how long each piece took me and how much yarn I used for each piece are on my Ravelry project page.


Bolstered by the success of my first Infinity Dress, I have gone on a huge sewing and fabric-buying rampage lately. (Apologies in advance for the quality of the photos in this post. They almost all came out very bright and overexposed. Just pretend it’s a halo of heavenly light and I am about to ascend into a hovering spacecraft, and you are an exclusive witness to this special moment.)

First, Rahul and I biked out to Wal-Mart the other day–a harrowing 4.5 mile ride along narrow, busy roads, on the west side of town, across a freeway. My bike nearly fell in a ditch and when I corrected to stay out of it, I nearly got hit by a truck. It was scary. But my reward was 4 yards of 1×1 ribbed black knit fabric for only $1 a yard. I went home and made another Infinity Dress, and then made a drape neck top with the leftovers. Because my fabric was only 45 inches wide, I made a gathered skirt instead of a circle skirt, so this one has a slimmer silhouette.

I also accidentally sewed the band on top of the straps instead of underneath, but I think it’s still OK.

Here’s the drape neck top. It is sewn together rather poorly. The rib knit was much stretchier than the jersey, so I ended up with a lot of lettuce edges where there shouldn’t have been any. The pattern is Simplicity New Look 6470, View B.

Here’s the new dress.

“Oh my god, that looks SO WEIRD,” said Rahul this morning, as I was going out to water my basil plants on the balcony, and took this picture of the back of the dress to demonstrate how weird it was that my dress had no back. I thought it looked fine, but the sleeves fell off when I was bent over my plants, so I retied it to cross over in the back.



Because the skirt has a pretty slim silhouette, I just wore it underneath my next two FOs instead of changing into a new top.

These are both made with quilting cotton I bought a while back at Shiisa Quilts, from their $4.99 bed sale.

This one is made with a dark purple fabric printed with white dragonflies. I made it into a circle skirt with ties and a zipper at the waist. Because I only had about a yard of 45″ fabric, it came out shorter than I would have liked and the overall silhouette is a little bit 80’s. A learning experience. I should have stuck with a plain A-line wrap skirt like I had originally planned.

This one I’m very proud of. The fabric is a Rowan/Westminster Martha Negley cotton, dark red, striped with tree trunks. I drafted my own pattern according to the A-line skirt, fitted waist directions in Sew What! Skirts, an excellent book for the beginning skirt-sewer like myself–highly recommended. I went on to cut the pieces on the bias to make chevron stripes, put in side pockets (these need some work–for some reason, I cut them so the pockets don’t really dip down, just go straight in, so I can’t put anything in them, though I can use them to warm my hands) and installed what I think is an invisible zipper in the back. I just need to put in some snaps to secure the waistband.


After all that, I went to Jo-Ann and back to Shiisa Quilts, where they’ve dropped the price of the bed sale fabrics to $3.99 a yard and are having a buy one yard, get one yard free offer through today, so I scored a bunch of nice fabric for just $2 a yard.

Here’s some of what I got:

Cloud fabric (not on sale, but I loved it. This is Moda fabric, named, puzzlingly, “Bears just wanna have fun”)

Gray fabric with chartreuse hydrangeas, Kaffe Fassett Lille Arbour. I loved this fabric last time I was in the store, but Rahul prevented me from buying it with his protestations of how hideous it was. So I went back without him and bought several yards of it for half price. I think I might make the Anna Dress with it.

Some other stuff: from Shiisa, some blue Rowan Martha Negley fabric with green plums, some blue striped fabric, the aforementioned Kaffe Fassett fabric, and blue fabric with delicate geometric traceries–this is Free Spirit Mendhi Lotus, and is much drapier and silkier than the other fabrics. I haven’t decided what to do with any of this yet, though the default is “knee-length skirt.”

The linen print with brown embroidered flowers is from Jo-Ann (was also on sale) and is destined for another simple A-line skirt.

This is my new favorite summer dress. It was so fast and easy it hardly counts as an FO, since it’s essentially putting together a kit. I saw the fabric on sale at Jo-Ann and bought it on impulse: they sell a big roll of cotton gauze pre-smocked with elastic thread, and you just buy a piece a couple of inches larger than your bust size, sew a tube, add straps as desired, and hem it. I made nice wide straps to cover up bra straps and this dress fits perfectly, aside from the fact that I didn’t pre-shrink my fabric so I ended up with a dress an inch or two shorter than what I had wanted.

Edited to add, since I had some comments about this: if you’re in the US and don’t have a Jo-Ann Fabrics nearby, it looks like you can get pre-smocked fabric online via Hancock Fabrics. I couldn’t find this specific fabric on the Jo-Ann website, but when I was in the store they also had the same stuff in pink and green, and some tropical Hawaiian-looking smocked fabrics.

I also have some brown jersey (not shown) for yet another Infinity Dress and another try at that drape-neck top. All I can say is that it’s a good thing sewing is so much faster than knitting.

Speaking of which, here is the current progress on the Loquat Shawl:


Apparently, as maid of honor, I’m going to have to make a toast at this wedding, which fills me with a deep sense of terror and anxiety (I would rather eat bugs than do any kind of public speaking). If only they were traditionalists and left all the public speaking to the best man and all the fussy lady’s maid duties to the maid of honor. I’m sure I can carry bobby pins and straighten hairdos like nobody’s business.

I must soothe myself with admiring my newest yarn acquisition, the first shipment of the Sundara Seasons club, June 2008, the Autumn season. This is Sundara Sock yarn in Arabian Nights, a rich, warm brown shot through with henna highlights. Isn’t it gorgeous? I have a pattern idea in my head for this already, but can’t start anything new till I’m done with the shawl.

And a knitter’s PSA: Knit Picks is having their annual 40% off book sale, and they’ve just posted a bunch of new yarns for sale: delicious-looking semi-solid kettle dyes, new colors of many yarns, Imagination hand-painted sock yarn, Swish Bulky superwash, and more.

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.)