Archives for posts with tag: silk

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.)

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So here’s yet more yarn I spun up. This is the 4 oz. of indigo-dyed Coopworth from Handspun by Stefania I bought at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. It was such a dream to work with, smooth and easy to spin, I couldn’t stop working with it…

It started as roving:

Z-spun singles were not enough, so I made them into an S-twisted two-ply:

And then the two-ply was not enough, so I plied it again, with a Z twist, making it into my first cabled yarn:

Gorgeous, isn’t it? In some lights it reads with a greenish tint, almost teal, while in full natural sunlight it looks closer to a pure, cool blue between cornflower and cobalt.

I have about 93 yards of it. I kind of wanted to do a cabled hat to take advantage of the roundness of the yarn, but I don’t think I have enough yarn for that… what to do? Perhaps colorwork, or a contrasting brim? I have some cabled Di Ve’ Zenith in frosty gray that might work in terms of texture and weight. Or I could just start with cables from the top down and see what happens–perhaps it’s enough, if I use large enough needles.

I’ve been so obsessed with spinning fibers on Etsy lately. I keep clicking around and putting things in my cart and then taking them back out again. But I couldn’t resist buying this champagne-colored baby camel-tussah silk fiber when I saw it on sale:

I hadn’t spun with it before; I was pretty much 100% inspired by rainydaygoods’ post about her little glowing camel-silk sample from A Verb for Keeping Warm. (And also the incredible sensual pleasure of seeing and touching Handmaiden Camelspin.) Coming off my experience with spinning buffalo fiber, I was a little afraid I wouldn’t be up to the task of spinning it.

But as it turns out, it is the dreamiest stuff I’ve ever touched. Fluffy and buttery soft, it’s easy to draft, and it wants to be spun fine and smooth and even. I worked up a tiny sample skein and then a little sample lace swatch from that, on size 6’s:

After petting the swatch for a while, I shook myself back to my senses and went back to finishing the bulkier yarns I had on my wheel (spinning some BFL, sampling the CSA fiber from Four Crows Farm, spinning up a rainbow tweed batt I bought in Point Reyes)… but I’m saving the camel-silk for a spinning treat for myself. Once I finish all the faster spinning, I’ll settle down to the hours and hours of creamy laceweight camel-silk. And I’ll have to come up with a perfect pattern for Camelspin, both store-bought and handspun.

OK, the burn mark on our linoleum is still there (now covered by a throw rug), and my leg still hurts, but my mental state today is much better than it was yesterday. The sun is out (this is how deep the flooding downtown was yesterday after the thunderstorm), knitting night is tonight, Rahul and I might go see a play at the fresh-baked cookie store after that. And, as I mentioned, I have some good knitterly things to think about.

Here’s one of the nice things. When I finished the Hemlock Ring, I cast on for a new hat as a reward for myself. It’s no kind of weather for wool berets right now, but who cares? It’s pretty! And it was fun and quick to make.

Pattern:Rose Red, by Ysolda Teague. chemgrrl, who was done with hers, traded the pattern to me for a skein of Rowan Calmer.
Size made: Small, but using a larger gauge. I can’t tell you what the gauge was, because I was lazy and fudged it.
Finished dimensions: I was lucky–it fits! I blocked it over a dinner plate, and it came out to 11 inches in diameter with the hat lying flat, with a band size of about 20 inches.
Yarn used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted from a Whitknits sale, in Violetas, about 90 grams (i.e. just under 1 skein, or about 195 yards).
Needles used: US size 8/5.0 mm bamboo DPNs to start the hat (it’s knit from the top down), and US size 7/4.5 mm 16-inch Boye Needlemasters for the rest
Date started: June 2, 2008
Date finished: June 3, 2008
Mods: Aside from the gauge modifications, none that I can think of.
Notes: My Ravelry page for this project is here. I loved this pattern. It’s gorgeous and intricate, fast and pretty easy to knit, and very well-written and easy to follow (I used the written directions, which I think to many knitters is akin to saying you like white wine better than red at a gathering of oenophiles–sort of crass, indicating a not-very-advanced palate.)

I finished the hat in just two days, after some marathon TV knitting (season openers of Bones and House; Barack Obama’s speech accepting the presumptive nomination; two nights of Daily Show and Colbert Report).

I usually cable without a cable needle, but this time, because of the way the 7-stitch cable is worked, I had to use a cable needle. It was fiddly and annoying, but I think it improved the look of my cables–they’re usually sloppy around the edges, but looked pretty tight this time. I used a size 6 DPN instead of one of the special cable needles you can buy.

I actually have some red DK-weight angora blend in the stash, and after making Rusted Root I was thinking I should add more red to my wardrobe this winter, so I think I might make another one of these hats in fluffy red DK weight, exactly like Ysolda’s original. Or maybe not. I’m not crazy about the way the cabled band looks, although I really appreciate the tidy, knitterly design aesthetics of continuing those cables all the way down the band. It’s just that somehow I feel like the hat looks a bit too… chef-like? and I suspect I might prefer the look of a ribbed band instead.

I think the recommended lighter weight yarn would also be a good idea. Malabrigo on 7s, even well-blocked, came out slightly too sturdy and the hat doesn’t drape well. For best effect, I think it should be really floppy. Also, I can’t quite decide how I feel about this semi-solid colorway–is it a distraction, or does it add to the charm and intricate look of the pattern? (This is not to say I don’t totally love the hat–I really do. This is all nitpicking.)

Anyway–on to the pictures. It’s really hard to take a picture of the back of your own head.

The hat lying flat.

The back of my head.

Plated up for blocking. The underside and band:

The flowery top, with cute li’l i-cord nubbin:

Me looking vaguely chef-like, or possibly medieval, from the front.

So–some other good things.

  • The Rainey Sisters alerted me to the fact that Niebling’s legendary Lyra doily is now available for $7 plus $4.50 shipping/handling through Lacis. It used to be rare and go for a LOT more on eBay–there are two copies up right now, the highest one, with 19 bids, currently priced at $81 plus $5.90 shipping. And I mean copy–it says you get photocopies of the pattern, not even originals. It must be a cash cow for the seller, since they can make infinite copies for 10 cents and sell them for $81+. That’s really kind of messed up.
  • You can now purchase a couple of my patterns through Sandra Singh. She posted them today and has sold a copy of The Water is Wide already!
  • Robynn sent me some freakin’ amazing yarn. Just look at how gorgeous this is.Handmaiden Camelspin, in Nova Scotia, glowing green and blue–this stuff has the sheen of Sea Silk but is much softer, probably the softest yarn I’ve ever felt, softer than the skein of cashmere I have in my purse:


    Artyarns Beaded Rhapsody in color 159, gleaming gold and silver:

Are those not just insanely beautiful? The timing was good; it made my day if not my week, and on balance more than made up for my Very Bad Day yesterday–thank you so much, Robynn.

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.)

Pattern: Jess, from My Fashionable Life/Needle and Hook, by Anna Bell/Amelia Raitte

Size: Small (32-34)

Yarn used: 13 skeins of Queensland Collection Uruguay DK, 0.5 skeins of Peru Luxury DK, color 03 Burgundy, both bought for $2.50 a skein from Littleknits. Double-stranded. I knit this jacket earlier this year for my stepmother and used up 11.5 skeins of yarn, so I thought I was being clever by buying 13 skeins this time. I ran out of the 13th skein while finishing the second sleeve cap, and had to use the Peru Luxury DK to finish up–fortunately, the two yarns look exactly the same to me. This yarn, a many-plied merino/alpaca/silk blend, is absolutely dreamy to work with, all bouncy and squishy and shiny and and soft. I highly recommend it. It did bleed a ton when it hit water, and it turned out heavier and drapier than I would have ideally liked, but at $2.50 a skein, I’m not complaining!

Needles used: Size 11 Boye Needlemaster.

Started: 9/26/07

Finished: Let’s call it 10/14/07 (the date I finished seaming and weaving in ends). Still not quite complete because she’s missing two buttons–I bought all 4 they had at Jo-Ann and they’re still not back in stock yet.

Mods: The biggest mod was that I lengthened the sleeves to full length rather than 3/4 length. I used short row shoulder shaping with a three-needle bindoff on the shoulders and still am not convinced of its benefits. Added buttonholes every 14 rows (the pattern doesn’t specify) to end up with 6 buttonholes total. I also corrected the shoulder shaping–it seems to be reversed as written–and the basketweave stitch pattern, as noted in my initial post on this project/wrap-up post on Jess I.

Notes: This is the second time I’ve knit this jacket–I made one for my stepmom this spring, in a sage green color of the same yarn, and liked it so much I decided to make one for myself. The jacket fits really well despite the lack of shaping–I think because it’s pretty form-fitting and the simple knit/purl basketweave stitch stretches to accommodate. The full-length sleeves are kind of bell-shaped because I didn’t make them any narrower around the wrists when I lengthened them, but I think it looks nice enough. It doesn’t look that great unbuttoned, because the fabric is kind of floppy drapey; it’s really cozy and warm, but doesn’t offer much protection against cold wind if you are, say, riding your bike down a hill in November. I might knit with a slightly tighter gauge if I made this again in this yarn. It seems prone to stretching at this gauge; there were unseemly holes around the base of the neck where I picked up the collar, but I think I’ve mostly disguised them. See my other notes from Jess I and the project in progress here.

Verdict: I still love this jacket–what a great little pattern this is. I’m glad I made one for myself. It goes very quickly and makes excellent mindless knitting because of the size 11 needles, the knitting in pieces (each front was only 28 sts!), the lack of shaping, and the easy but interesting basketweave stitch pattern. It has so many pleasing little details–the turned hems, the slipped stitch edging, the buttonholes. You can see the slipped stitch edging, basketweave pattern, and seed stitch collar texture on this close-up.

Look at the cute buttons I found at Jo-Ann: they’re La Mode vintage triple flower buttons, circa 1941, model 1711, $2.99 per two.

Thanks for a great pattern, Anna, and thanks for a great deal on the yarn, Fulay!