Archives for posts with tag: yarn

Hey everyone,

Breaking my radio silence at last… with wedding planning I was going a little nuts (more on that later; I sewed my dress, my bridesmaids’ dresses, and knit a shawl! But it all came out fine and we got married and it was great!) Post-wedding, there were all the thank-you notes to write, and I got done with all that, but still felt like hiding my head in the sand for a while. But I thought I’d reemerge and share a semi-recent FO (ha, semi-recent = knit just before Thanksgiving) with the world, and work my way up to posting about the various things I made for the wedding.

I published the Bel Canto Cowl (rav link) in Knitcircus a couple of years ago, but due to their changes, it was no longer available for purchase from their site. Someone on Ravelry requested it, which was the impetus to reknit, rephotograph, and reformat the pattern for sale on my own site, since I couldn’t use the KC photos/pattern layout. So it’s up for sale on Ravelry, in case anyone was looking for it, and here are some pics:

Pattern: Bel Canto Cowl
Yarn Used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in 37 Lettuce, 1 skein.
Needles used: US 8 (5.0 mm) 16-inch circulars
Date started: November 21, 2012
Date completed: November 23, 2012
Mods/Notes:
The first version of this cowl was knit in Malabrigo Rios, which is superwash, plied, and slightly thinner than the singles/non-superwash Merino Worsted. I like the extra body and cushier fabric of the Merino Worsted version. Also, I think the lighter color shows off cables better, although there’s no denying that rich cobalt blue from the original version is TO DIE FOR.

(Side note: I haven’t cut my hair for probably a year, and it’s longer than it’s been anytime since grade school, so I’ve been having fun with hairdos–although this may look vaguely pixieish, it’s actually precariously pinned Heidi braids that came apart immediately after the photoshoot.)

Closeup:

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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.)

I’m probably going to wind up making knitting nemeses or something by posting this, but I just came home from the weirdest Stitch ‘n’ Bitch of my entire life. Dude.

I’d been to this particular group once before. I’d made plans to meet up there this week with turtleknitter (Mary)–we were going back and forth between either meeting up on Thursday or going to the S’n’B tonight (Wednesday) to see the musician they’d booked. Apparently he’d come to play once before and a lot of people liked his show. Having listened to some clips on his MySpace page, I said I was interested in going to see him, so Wednesday it was.

I almost cancelled–I had a bunch of work to do by EOD today (spent a couple of hours finishing it up once I got home from knitting)–but decided no, I should make the effort to go see some live music and meet some new people.

The S’n’B is held in a very large local cafe with lots of different rooms. The concert was in a room all the way in the back. When I arrived, people were sitting around four tables arranged in a circle; on the other side of the room was a stage with folding chairs set up in front. I sat down, started chatting to the people around me, and not long after that it was time for the music to get going. The organizer of this S’n’B asked if we should perhaps either move to the chairs in front of the stage, or move the tables forward so they all faced the stage. Since yarn and coffee was already spread out everywhere, there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm about either idea, and the musician ended up just sitting at a chair at the circle of tables.

He requested that perhaps we could all stop talking and quietly listen while he played, if that would be OK. I have to admit I was kind of put off by this, since I had come to the S’n’B pretty much specifically to socialize, and the postings about the concert hadn’t really made it clear that we weren’t supposed to talk at all. I guess I’m not sure whether the default at a concert should be talking or not talking, but I’ve been to a lot of coffeehouses over the years, worked in one in high school, and I’ve never been to one that demanded absolute silence from the audience. Usually the normal background activities go on during the music–talking, drinking coffee, studying, working–and if the musician is really good, people will shut up and listen.

The woman next to me kept talking to me and showing me her knitting. I admired (she had some great fingerless mitts made from Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky in a deep purple color, and a newly finished merino hat) and after the first song, we were admonished again by the musician: “please, it would be really helpful if you would not talk while I’m playing, it’s really, really distracting.”

“Well, it’s not like you even wrote that song yourself,” said the woman next to me (he’d just played a cover song).

“Well, this one is one I wrote myself,” he said, and went on playing.

So we sat quietly for a while and listened to the music. Mary came in, and sat down across from me–I sneaked over and gave her the skein of handspun I’d been saving for her:


(posed below alongside my new Sundara yarn:)

Mary had given me a huge chunk of this delicious purple Miss Babs BFL batt at our last spinning meet-up, so I thought it would be nice to give her the squooshy, lofty, pretty Navajo-plied handspun that the batt became. (As it turns out, it was great timing, since it was her birthday on Monday and I didn’t know! Happy birthday, Mary!)

I admired the mittens she was making vewy, vewy quietly and then went back to my seat.

The musician played a cover of “Androgynous,” by the Replacements, which I appreciated, and a fun song about sneakers. He apologized if he had sounded bitchy earlier, and told us he had been to Africa and “it’s amazing how it changes your life.”

After a bit, the musician took a break, and the organizer made an announcement that anyone who felt like talking should go into the other room before the music started up again. “It’s not just distracting for him to play, it’s distracting for us, who want to listen.”

I may be misquoting a little here, but this is the gist of what happened next:

The musician called out to the woman next to me, “You should try working on your attitude!”

She retorted, “Well, you should try working on your singing!”

He started talking about how his singing might be an acquired taste, and maybe you would have to have refined tastes and appreciate music in order to like it.

The organizer said to the woman next to me, “Go fuck yourself!”

And about half of us trooped off into the Talking Zone and the rest of the room arranged themselves adoringly before the musician for the rest of his set.

So, yeah. We got kicked out of the S’n’B for being too loud. And the organizer swore at us. It was really weird. Now I’m kind of afraid to go back! It wasn’t even that I was trying to make a statement about the music, or identify myself as a troublemaker… actually, I thought the guy’s music was nice; he sings and plays the guitar well. It was just that I came to S’n’B for socializing in general, and Mary and I had specifically made plans to meet up there to chat, and neither one of those goals was being met by the concert setup. But now I think I may have been blacklisted.

I also found out afterwards that the organizer is engaged to the musician, which would explain a lot about the interpersonal dynamics there.

It was just a very, very odd experience all around.

Amusingly enough, one of the people who left the room with us was an anthropology student who had come to the meeting because she had to write a paper about a group of people, and she had chosen to come observe a group of knitters in action. She had expected to write a fairly boring paper about a standard Stitch ‘n’ Bitch session–looks like she hit the anthropology jackpot.

On the bright side, I’m now about 4 inches into both sleeves for my Flicca coat. Soon, cuddly sweater coat goodness will be mine! I’ll have to decide soon if I want to close it with buttons or a belt or leather toggles (I’m leaning towards toggles, but I think they’ll be the most trouble to locate). It is pretty gigantic and heavy already (10 skeins in) and I can only imagine how heavy the versions on Ravelry knit in Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky must be–I have both yarns in my stash, and RYC Soft Tweed seems pretty airy and lofty, while Yorkshire Tweed Chunky is much heavier and denser. I did the math and ten yards of RYC Soft Tweed weigh 5.7 grams, while ten yards of Yorkshire Tweed Chunky weigh 9.17 grams!

Edited to add a few corrections to clear things up as per some comments made by the organizer (Mackenzie), since it looks like I did misquote:

  • The person who was talking was talking loudly and yes, her comments were rude. I think that was already clear from the description of what she said, but just in case that wasn’t, there you go. I also missed reporting an additional bitchy/sarcastic exchange between her and the musician, which you can read about in Mackenzie’s comments below
  • I was wrong; it wasn’t the organizer who said “go fuck yourself,” but the person sitting next to her.
  • I accidentally gave the impression that the Africa comment had to do with asking people to be quiet, which it didn’t. I was just summing up the different things he said during the first part of the set. It was unrelated banter between songs and had to do with the content of one of the musician’s songs.
  • Mackenzie wasn’t the one who organized the show; the owners of the cafe did that.




1 skein of Sundara Sock Yarn in Roasted Persimmon over Green Papaya, Seasons Sock Club, Autumn, October 2008 shipment: $25.

Average monthly per capita income in Cambodia: $24.16


Ashford Traditional single-drive, lacquered, single-treadle spinning wheel: $535

The gross national income per capita in Benin, 2006: $540

The theme of this year’s Blog Action Day is Poverty. All over the blogosphere, people are writing about poverty and how it relates to their little corner of the world.

I don’t hold a lot of illusions about people stopping their yarn stashing, eating out at restaurants, buying new clothes, going to the movies, or what have you, and donating all that money to charity instead while living a virtuous, ascetic life in the cheapest place they can afford. It’s just not the way things work in this day and age and place, for the vast majority of people. I’m certainly not saintly enough to live that simply. And despite their ideals, people have a strong tendency to want to spend their hard-earned money on fun stuff rather than donating it to someone they don’t know and will never meet.

Knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, let me suggest 3 simple actions that will change little about the way you live your happy, well-fed, yarn-filled life from day to day, but will make a difference (be it ever so slight) in fighting global poverty–and without making you feel guilty about spending your money as you please:
1) Download the AidMaker browser plugin and shop online as usual. When you shop from online stores like the Apple Store (or Ultimate Colon Cleanse, apparently!) while using this browser plugin, AGoodCause.com receives a commission, which (aside from operating costs) they then donate to the charity of your choice, at no extra cost to you. Let’s say you go to Amazon and buy Knitted Lace of Estonia or some Cascade 220 yarn–or even an Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel–they’ll donate 3% of your purchase price to the charity of your choice, without you spending an extra dime.
2) When you feel like you need a shopping fix, or decide you could use some retail therapy, consider going to a charity site instead and spending your money on a charitable donation. If you’re a stasher, you can just pretend you bought some yarn and it went straight into the stash, hidden under the bed or in a drawer out of sight somewhere. But instead, you can spend the money on a sheep, llama, or goat from Heifer International, a camel from Mercy Corps, or a loan to a textiles entrepreneur via Kiva.org (at the moment, one of the open loans seeking lenders is for a group of Peruvian weavers trying to start a textiles factory)
3) Or if you feel like you need something tangible as a result of your shopping spree, consider spending money on products that help the economies of developing countries. You could buy some yarns via The Hunger Site–that angora-cotton blend looks especially tempting, doesn’t it? In your LYS, a few yarn brands you can look at include the Snow Leopard Trust, Manos del Uruguay, Malabrigo, Shokay, Lantern Moon, and Mirasol. If you’re feeling indulgent, splurge on some qiviut from the Oomingmak cooperative. If you’re feeling even more indulgent than that, how about some vicuna at $300 per 28.5 grams? According to Peace of Yarn, after maintaining state control and protection of the wild vicuna herds since 1825, the Peruvian government “handed ownership of the animals back to the common villagers of the country, creating a viable and stable source of income for struggling villagers” by sponsoring traditional shearing days called chacus in which the vicunas are trapped using traditional methods, sheared, and released.

So in honor of today, I’m going to go install that plugin, lend some money via Kiva, and ogle qiviut on Ravelry for a while.

P.S. I just bought the Ashford Traditional used on Craigslist and it was actually closer to the GNI per capita of Afghanistan. I’m pretty excited about it–I’ll have enough bobbins to actually do a two-ply without having to wind off into centerpull balls! Lots of ratios! A nice big drive wheel! I can adjust twist and pull separately using the Scotch tension!–though I’m surprisingly feeling sort of anxious and attached about selling my old wheel. It’s prettier, and easier to treadle.

So before I go on to talk about some more spinning stuff, I’d like to ask you to take a look at my friend Fee’s new Etsy shop, saibhriot.etsy.com, to see if anything catches your eye. As she blogged about here, her husband, who is only 35 years old, recently discovered that he has a tumor in his colon and will need to have an operation very soon to have it removed. They’re still waiting to hear about whether it’s malignant, and her friends in the Bloomington knitting community are all wishing the best for them. Fee opened up her Etsy shop to raise money for medical bills, so I wanted to help spread the word… she currently has some very nice original artwork (some knitting-related!), a knitting pattern, and a handknit cowl for sale. I hope you see something in her shop you might like.

Anyway, far off in Madison, I’ve been spinning and spinning. When I went to California over the summer, my dad and stepmom and I had a really wonderful day in Point Reyes–we saw fawns and tiny songbirds in the marsh, and had the good fortune to watch a whale playing in the waves, very close by, for probably a good hour. In Point Reyes Station, we stopped in at Black Mountain Weavers, where I bought a 3 oz. bump of locally dyed mohair-wool roving. It was all kinds of colors all carded together, and I was very curious to see how it would spin up; the base color was a warm mahogany brown, but shot through with streaks of bright red and blue and yellow and purple.

As it turned out, it was fun to spin–the fibers were slightly coarse and drafted smoothly with just a little coaxing. It spun up into a really interesting tweed with a lot of visual depth. (I’m taking Abby’s definition, because she’s the expert, but it doesn’t have neps/flecks in it, so I would have called it more of a heather.) From far away, it reads as brown:


When you look a little closer, though, you can see the streaks of brighter colors in the yarn. Mohair takes dye really well, and I’m assuming the really shiny bright colors are from the mohair part of the blend:

Here’s a picture of the singles on the bobbin.

It’s about 12-13 wpi, so more or less a sport weight yarn, with a shiny, slightly fuzzy surface. I treated this as an experimental sampler, so most of this is spun worsted, short forward draw, but other parts are spun over the fold or long draw. It’s about 136 yards total. (Honestly, I don’t quite understand how people can charge so little when they sell their handspun! Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but it takes me hours to spin up even this much yarn, and it’s not a large amount.)

Also, I think I discovered what kind of spinning wheel I have! I bought it used at Yarns Unlimited–someone was selling a couple of old spinning wheels, but the shop owners didn’t know that much about them. A patron at the shop told me she thought it was an Ashford Wee Peggy, but I think that’s just based on the fact that it’s a castle wheel. When you look closely, it doesn’t look too much like the wheel in the photos on that page.

However, browsing through that page about New Zealand-built spinning wheels, this castle wheel, by H. H. Napier/Glenfield Industries, caught my eye. It says this type of wheel was made on Auckland’s North Shore in the 1960s. Look at this and compare the shape and placement of the mother-of-all, treadle, legs, etc., even the spokes on the wheel. Doesn’t it look just like mine? I love the fact that his initials are H. H. too.

It doesn’t help me too much with the things I was wondering about–where to get extra bobbins, for example. I have two bobbins and one of them has a pretty small whorl, so it spins at a fairly high ratio (good for finer yarns) and gets less use than the slower bobbin. I’d like at least one more larger bobbin–actually, I would really like to have at least four bobbins so I can do a three-ply easily, but judging by the paucity of information on the internet about this wheel, I don’t think I’m going to have too much luck with finding extras. I’m also mildly curious about how much my wheel is worth, in case I decide to trade it in one day for a wheel with easily available spare parts.

More stuff in my setup: You can see my orifice hook dangling from the wheel in the picture above. I use a Dritz loop turner for the purpose and I love it–it has a little latch over the hook that works perfectly for grabbing onto the leader. Also, I just put on a new drive band, made of a long strand of Plymouth Encore tied in three places. I read somewhere that jelly yarns make nice drive bands, so maybe one of these days I’ll try that out.

I own one spinning book: Maggie Casey’s Start Spinning. I also checked out the Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning and Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning from the library. Of the three, I think Teach Yourself Visually is my favorite; in addition to the absolute basics about wheel and spindle spinning (like in the Maggie Casey book, which is an excellent introduction to spinning), it gets into some slightly more advanced (but still practical) information–construction of novelty yarns using different plying effects, and appropriate methods for spinning different types of fibers, like cotton, vicuna, and angora. Alden Amos is amusingly opinionated, kind of the Elizabeth Zimmermann of spinning, but the book gets very technical about things like mathematically figuring out slippage percentages in a double drive wheel system–not the type of information I personally was looking for, but great for a certain very select audience.

(Actually, I have a note to add: after reading some of the reviews of the Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning book, I’m starting to doubt whether it’s a good source of information. Since I haven’t compared all the different types of wheels personally, or tried the methods the author suggests for certain types of spinning, I can’t speak to those criticisms personally, but one of those negative reviewers seems pretty knowledgeable and pretty certain about what’s wrong with the book.)

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.

Once upon a time, there were three women, elliphantom, hapagirl (go check out her amazing new sock pattern!), and yours truly, who went to visit a llama farm named Yellow Wood Llamas.

They made fast friends with an incredibly friendly llama named Michele.

And brought home some of her wool–fine and silky soft, caramel-brown with bits of white.

The wool became singles:

And then the singles were plied together into a nice two-ply:

And the wool was skeined and washed:

and it became ever so beautiful.


(~4 oz./176 yards/11 wpi)

There was also a 1.4 oz silky black batt from a llama named Kona.

It looked really creepy, actually, like a matted head of hair, so it got spun up really quickly to avoid the feeling of a decapitated head lying on the couch. It was a little harder to draft smoothly, so it was a little lumpy-bumpy, and ended up as a shiny Navajo 3-ply (only about 42 yards):



And the two yarns sat waiting patiently for a handsome, charming pattern to come along and sweep them away to finished object-land, where they could live happily ever after.

The End.

From my copy of Dairy Goat Journal, I’ve learned so much about wattles in the past couple of days. I basically knew what they were before, but not so many details…

  • “Wattles on dairy goats are hair-covered appendages of flesh hanging from the throat area of a goat” (OK, this much I knew already)
  • Goats can have either one or two wattles, and like the appendix, they serve no purpose. They can grow in many places–cheeks, shoulders, and even dangling from the ears, like earrings.
  • Registered Nubian does show better without wattles, so they are typically cut off or rubber-banded at birth to remove them
  • They can appear in any breed of dairy goat, including Alpines, La Manchas, Nigerians, Oberhasli, Nubians, Saanens, Sables, and Toggenburgs
  • Wattles on a dairy goat are apparently an indicator for good milk production potential! According to the Journal of Dairy Science, “…heterozygous polled goats or those with wattles are more prolific than horned animals or without wattles.”
  • Goats can sometimes develop wattle cysts, but these are benign and non-contagious

Now you know, too, and knowing’s half the battle.

I was also tickled to see an article in DGJ about a visit to Capriole Goat Farm, located near Bloomington and a regular with tasty cheeses at the Bloomington farmer’s market.

Anyway, on to less wattley topics. Here’s the final installment of my posts about the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival: what I ended up buying. I pretty much limited myself to the two stalls I’d been looking forward to since seeing them at The Fiber Event in Greencastle, IN: Briar Rose Fibers for yarn, and Handspun by Stefania for roving. There were a lot of really tempting things to look at, though–Wisconsin is home to many fiber-related companies, including Babe’s Fiber Garden (home of cheap PVC spinning wheels), Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mills (home of squishy, wooly yarn), and Kimmet Croft Fibers, home of the Fairy Hare yarn officially sanctioned for use in the reproduction Bohus sweaters in Poems of Color. (It’s also home to Elizabeth Zimmermann/Meg Swansen’s Schoolhouse Press, but they weren’t at the festival, sadly.)

So one unplanned purchase was about 1/2 ounce of purple wool, a little sample from a local fiber CSA called Four Crows Farm, just to see how it spins up:

Egged on/enabled/encouraged by Mary, I got 600 yards of Briar Rose Celebration, a DK-weight merino-bamboo blend. Yes, it does look pretty much exactly like the yarn I used for my Shetland Triangle. But they’re good colors. Rose, peach, gold. I’m not sure what to make with this yet, though.

A 478-yard mega-hank of Briar Rose Sonoma, a bulky weight wool. My skein is beautiful deep reds, rusts, and browns with a little shot of olive:


I’m thinking I’ll make a quick-knit striped pullover with this and the leftover brown yarn from my Leaf Lace Pullover.

And a few balls of roving from Handspun by Stefania. I was all excited when I walked in because I had been really looking forward to their booth, and they were right by the door of the first barn. But then I ended up kind of peeved because I took a photo, intending to blog about how awesome their roving is and how pretty all the naturally dyed colors are together, but when the flash went off, Stefania’s husband’s head whipped around, he told me sternly that they had “had too many problems in the past” with people taking photos of their booth, said I needed to ask before taking photos in the festival, and made me delete the photo I had taken from my camera. I can’t imagine what kind of issues they’ve had in the past with this–I would imagine that photos and positive word of mouth in the blogosphere would only have done them good. Instead they get me being cranky about it all (but they still made the sale) and nobody on the internet gets to see the vast and lovely variety of roving, kits, and handspun yarn at their stall.

Anyway, weirdness about photos aside, I’ve really liked spinning their roving in the past (previous skeins here and here) and here’s what I ended up with this time:


The sunlight kind of washed out the colors of the greens for the most part, but there’s one plain spring green ball (8 oz.) that was in the end-of-lot 20% discount bin, and the ball in the bottom photo that’s a slightly more olive-toned green shot through with gold silk (7.7 oz. Corriedale and silk dyed in osage and indigo).  Bouncy, soft, and very lustrous, though I don’t know how much of the shine is the silk. My plan is to make a two-ply of these two fibers and make an actual handspun sweater out of this. Wish me luck.

The blue ball of roving is 4 oz. of Coopworth dyed in indigo to what I thought was a medium blue, but seems quite a lot darker now that it’s at home and on the bobbin. I was thinking I would make some kind of winter accessories with this handspun–mittens, hat, or scarf. It’s soft, lustrous, and has a nice long staple of about 6 inches–easy to spin, though a little pre-drafting helps.

WordPress just ate my goddamn post so I’ll just tell you that I went to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival today with Mary (aka turtleknitter) and had a great time. More details later, when I stop being pissed off. (Note to self: never, ever click the “Toggle fullscreen preview” button. It will delete your entire post and the “autosave draft” function is apparently completely meaningless)

Anyway, a few photos that require little explanation…
Here’s Mary in front of the barns.

I finished my Cherry cardigan and wore it today! Buttons: 5/8″ gray shell. I’ll have to take some better photos later. But you can kind of see it in these two photos… me petting a giant fluffy bunny:

and me and Mary and some mohair:

Here is a strange Christian wool vendor proclaiming “No sales on Sundays.” I got used to the blue laws in Indiana prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays, but I’ve never seen Sabbathday restrictions on wool sales before.

A sheep in a jacket.

A scary devil sheep (actually a four-horned Jacob, I think)

A tiny pocket sheep (actually a Shetland). WANT!

Here are some freebies I got from one of the booths.

From left to right: Sheep!, Dairy Goat Journal, and Backyard Poultry. Dairy Goat Journal has some especially inviting stories this month–let’s take a closer look:

  • Make Goat Cheese Easily
  • Nubian Judging Quiz
  • What Are Wattles?

My next shipment of yarn from the Sundara Seasons Club (Autumn) showed up the other day. One hank of silk lace in “Mahogany over Marmalade,” 1000 yards, 100 grams, a gorgeous, shiny blend of rich copper, russet, and golden hues.

I took this picture indoors and it came out too dark.

The ones outside came out better, but a little too light.


I’ll have to keep trying.

Now, I posted before about the feeding frenzies inspired whenever Sundara’s yarns are posted for sale. I just got an email from her about how they’re going to try to remedy this: by going subscription-only, and making it impossible to buy just a single skein.


“Below you will find as much information as we currently have on the first three yarn Collections Sundara Yarn will be offering in the next few months. There are LOTS of details here, so you may want to read through this carefully.

Please note:

  • The price of these Collections reflects an increase to the cost of sock yarn, now $25/skein and aran silky merino, now $32/skein.
  • These are just the first of many new Collections. If these are not quite right for you, we suggest waiting to subscribe, as new Collections will be opened monthly.
  • All of this information, plus photos, will be on the Sundara Yarn website shortly.
  • We are doing our best to meet the demand of several thousand of you, with only a few of us. With this in mind, we are requesting that you hold off asking us questions until we post this information on the website, as we’ve got a lot to get done in the next few days.

Best,
Sundara, Avery, Carol and Mikaela

Sundara Yarn Sock Collection
This Collection is for sock yarn only and all selections will be shown on the website so subscribers know exactly what they will receive. There will be five color groupings from which to choose. Some colors are new, we will post these photos to the Sundara Yarn website before sign ups open.

Sign ups open on September 15.
12 skeins of sock yarn in 4 mailings over 12 month subscription.
$28/month, slightly more for shipping to Canada and internationally.
Mailings are in early December, early March, early June, and early September.

Color Groupings:
Lights
Mailing One: Orchid, Granite Falls, Celestial Skies
Mailing Two: Daffodil, Robin’s Egg, Candied Chrome
Mailing Three: Blossom, Sky, Lemon Chiffon
Mailing Four: Tickled Pink, Pale Sky over Sugared Violet, Crème de Menthe

Darks
Mailing One: Black over Violet, Charcoal over Blue Lagoon, Evergreen over Lime
Mailing Two: Graphite, Ivy, Caribbean
Mailing Three: Black, Ruby Port, Eggplant
Mailing Four: Arabian Nights, Midnight Meadows, Green Olive Tapenade

Warms
Mailing One: Brown Sugar over Buttermilk, Wine, Bronzed Forest
Mailing Two: Autumn Rose, Prickly Pear, Plum
Mailing Three: Bronzed Sienna, Basil over Buttercup, Ember over Flame
Mailing Four: Spiced, Mahogany over Marmalade, Green Tea

Cools
Mailing one: Winter Skies, Grape over Grey-Violet, Marina over Icicles
Mailing Two: Viola, Sour Apple, Crushed Cherries
Mailing Three: Raspberry, Blooming Fuchsia, Mint Julep
Mailing Four: Lilac, Delphiniums, Glacier

Mixed Palette
Mailing One: Pine over Gold, Cobalt over Mediterranean, Grass
Mailing Two: Thriller, Crimson, Tuscan Rose over Lemon
Mailing Three: Sunshine, Guava, Jungle Boogie
Mailing four: Honeyed Hibiscus, Blush, Toasted Orange over Pistachio

Each color grouping will be mailed at different times, so shipping cannot be combined for different color groupings, only for multiple subscriptions of the same color collection. For example, if you want to subscribe to the Warm grouping and want additional skeins, you can choose to receive 2 skeins of each Warm color for a total of 6 skeins each mailing and any other color groupings would be mailed separately. There will be an option to double or triple your subscription in any one color grouping selection but no more than 3 subscriptions will fit in one box so we are limiting subscriptions to 3 in any one color grouping.

Artist’s Choice Sock Yarn Collection
This Collection is sock yarn only and all colorways will be unplanned and done in limited runs of 10 skeins a batch. Subscribers will choose from three color groupings. Colors within those color families will be developed by Sundara and in the spirit of creativity, surprise and spontaneity, subscribers will not chose specific colors.

Sign ups open on September 15.
3 month subscription for 3 different skeins of sock yarn in 1 mailing sent out in early December.
$28/month, slightly more shipping international and to Canada.
3 color groupings: warm, cool and mixed palette.
Warm colors: red, orange, yellow, green, brown
Cool colors: green, blue, purple, blacks, pinks
Mixed palette: all colors possible

There will be an option to add 1 skein of each color to your subscription for combined shipping within each color grouping. For example, if you subscribe to the cool colors and want 2 skeins of each color, you can subscribe to receive 2 skeins of each color for a total of 6 skeins. Each color grouping will be mailed at different times, so shipping cannot be combined for different color groupings. This 2 skein limitation is due to the high variability of colors within each batch of this yarn.

Sweater Collection

Opens on October 15 for subscriptions.
9 month subscription.
Aran Silky Merino (ASM) will be mailed in January.
DK Silky Cashmere (DKSC) will be mailed in March.
Fingering Silky Merino (FSM) will be mailed in June.

$50/month for X-Small: 4 ASM, 5 DKSC, 2 FSM
$69/month for Small: 5 ASM, 7 DKSC, 3 FSM
$78/month for Medium: 6 ASM, 9 DKSC, 3 FSM
$95/month for Large: 7 ASM, 10 DKSC, 4 FSM
$103/month for X-Large: 8 ASM, 11 DKSC, 4 FSM

Prices for Canadian and International mailing will be approximately $3-7 more a month.

Color Groupings
1) Daffodil ASM, Prickly Pear DKSC, Orchid FSM.
2) Marina over Icicles ASM, Mint Julep DKSC, Viola FSM.
3) Green Tea ASM, Plum DKSC, Ember over Flame FSM.
4) Black over Violet ASM, Graphite DKSC, Wine FSM.

Our apologies, but multiple subscriptions will not be combined for reduced shipping.
DK Silky Cashmere is a new yarn base. Each skein is 160 yards and 55 grams 4-ply 55% silk and 45% Mongolian Cashmere. It knits at 4.75-6 stitches per inch on US 3-5/3.25-3.75mm needles. Hand wash, tepid water. $40/skein.”


I’m surprised by this decision, and a little dismayed. This yarn was never cheap, but it’s really quite a lot to expect anyone who wants to get their hands on some Sundara to commit to a $90 purchase at minimum. I suppose it’s better for them than trying to deal with the frustration of countless users clicking “buy” and crashing their website, then posting angry, disappointed diatribes about how they would never be able to get their hands on Sundara yarn and how unfair it was that other people owned more than one skein and hadn’t left any yarn for everyone else. But it shuts out a lot of potential buyers.

Also, I think there’s kind of an embarrassment of choice in the color groupings. I’m sure I’m not the only person whose eyes started to glaze over trying to picture the different combinations of color + base yarn in each group; and ultimately, I think the huge selection of choices may be detrimental.

I read this book recently, The Paradox of Choice, that talked about the pitfalls of providing too many choices (and Rahul blogged about the same topic here). People will just shut down if you give them too many choices. Faced with trying to maximize the value of their decision, they’ll end up agonizing over their choices for so long that they wind up completely paralyzed and buy nothing.

There have been studies done that show this. At a gourmet taste test, people given twenty-four different jams to sample were far less likely to actually buy a jar of jam than people given only six choices. This seems counterintuitive–with twenty-four to choose from, wouldn’t you be more likely to find something that suits your palate perfectly? But it’s too many. People don’t like to make those decisions.

Even one choice too many can have serious consequences. In another study, physicians were given a case study and asked if they would, in this case, prescribe a certain medication or refer the patient to a specialist. Almost 75 percent said they would prescribe the medication. When asked to make a choice between two medications and a specialist, the percentage of physicians who prescribed either medication went down to less than 50 percent. The decision got pushed off onto someone else.

The book also draws a distinction between “maximizers” and “satisficers”–people who try to extract the maximum possible value from every decision, and people who go with the first thing that meets their basic criteria and stop thinking about the decision afterwards. Guess which group winds up better off empirically? But guess which group is happier? The more choices you lay out, the more second-guessing your customers may wind up doing, and the less satisfied they’re likely to be with their choice in the end. I certainly agonized a lot about which Season to choose (though I’m very happy with my choice of Autumn so far.)

Who knows, maybe all the rules are off with hand-dyed yarns in high demand. Maybe they’re in a tulip-like bubble and nobody cares so long as they can buy them.  We’ll see how this whole subscription thing goes–I’m in a couple of Sundara groups on Ravelry and have been reading the reactions with great interest.