Archives for posts with tag: yarn

Leaving for Toledo today, California on Sunday. I may or may not be posting while I’m gone over the next 2 1/2 weeks or so. Any suggestions for good yarn shops to visit? I have no idea if I will actually have any time for such things–I’m not going to be in the Bay Area for a decent chunk of that time due to the wedding, and there are plenty of other things I want to do while I am in the Bay Area, but just in case. I know there’s a new one in Albany called k2tog, and I am always interested in visits to Artfibers, Imagiknit, Article Pract, Stonemountain and Daughter, Lacis, and Stash Yarns, but I’ve been to all of those except k2tog already.

Project list (I certainly won’t knit up all of it; it sounds like a lot, but there will be many hours in the car and airport/airplanes, and I expect many hours of downtime, too, so I should be able to make pretty good progress on something else once the shawl is out of the way):

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.

About two years ago, not long after moving to Bloomington, I was googling pure llama yarn with the intention of making a scarf for my friend Molly. We’ve known each other since I was five, and long ago, we wrote a parody of a romance novel together called “The Mark of the Llama.” Molly happens to be allergic to wool, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to sample some exotic fiber and also make her a nice little in-joke of a present.

This was before Mirasol Miski and Elsebeth Lavold Baby Llama came on the scene, so it was a little hard to find something suitable–most of what I was finding was wool-llama blends, like Cascade Pastaza. One of the first hits that came up when I searched for “100% llama yarn” was Yellow Wood Llamas (or maybe it was their web store, Farmhouse Fibers), run by Fred and Laura Keller. When I looked at their site, I noticed that they were located in Martinsville, just north of Bloomington, so I inquired about the possibility of coming up to their farm to pick up my purchase (and meet the llamas) rather than having it shipped down. Laura and I emailed back and forth for a while but never managed to get the dates worked out, and the idea fell by the wayside.

Well, recently, since Rahul finished his master’s, it dawned on me that Molly was probably finishing her graduate degree as well, so I’d better get cracking on that present for her. I contacted Laura again and we finally set up a date for llama-viewing.

Thus it was that last Friday, Kalani, Elli, and I spent a gorgeous summer evening driving up to Martinsville to hang out with a pack of large furry animals. I loved the visit so much, I think my new life plan involves owning a llama farm at some point. They have so much personality and charm, I love their gigantic golf-ball eyes and long eyelashes, and their fur is soft and silky as can be.

We went into the backyard, past their pond bordered with honeysuckle and yucca plants, and home to fish, snapping turtles, and pesky muskrats, and as we started up a hill towards the pasture, a little herd of llamas ran up to the fence to see what we were doing. (There are dozens more of them, but the males almost all live in on a separate plot of land across the road.) I thought that might be it–interaction across the fence–but no, they took us through the barn and into the midst of many friendly and curious llamas. Cooper (or perhaps his name was Hopper?), a seven-month-old male, was especially friendly and spent so much time breathing into our faces and giving us kisses and nibbles that Laura took him away and put a muzzle on him so we would have some breathing room. Here he is, getting in Kalani’s personal space:

Michele is their ambassador llama, an incredibly good-natured and friendly creature. We spent a lot of time giving her back scratches and cuddles. She was very fond of Elli.

This enclosure was home to all the outcast camelids. In the back we have Phantom, aka Paco, the lone alpaca in the herd. In the front, Lewis, the spunkiest, toughest little llama ever. This guy has had a very hard life–born blind, he later broke his leg very badly, had it set with pins and plates to hold it in place–and then the leg got infected, so he spent a lot of time at the OSU veterinary hospital being patched up and tended. You can read more of his saga on the Yellow Wood blog.

On this side of the barnyard was also a three-legged llama–I forgot his name, but he got tangled up trying to jump a fence when he was a baby, and injured his leg so badly it had to be amputated.

He seems pretty good-natured about it now, though.

Here are more gratuitous llama photos (and more here):




And if you click on the picture of Paco below, you’ll get to see a video of an adorable inter-species greeting:

So we spent a good long time showering attention on the llamas and asking all kinds of questions, then we stopped in the barn where we saw a pregnant barn kitty:

and Kalani got to feed a llama named Captain Curry, and then we went into the house, where we were confronted with a beautiful room full of yarn and fiber. I didn’t think to take a photo of the room-o-fiber, but you can see me wallowing in yarn in Kalani’s post.

Here’s what I got:
A 1.4 oz. drum-carded batt of silky, glossy, jet-black fiber from a llama named Kona (this picture came out much too brown):

4 oz. of roving from our buddy Michele:

Super Silky sportweight in Plum, a delicate rose-pink semi-solid:

Super Silky sportweight in Lily, a beautiful turquoise/teal. This is destined to become a lacy scarf for Molly, probably Branching Out:

A skein of naturally colored dark brown sportweight shot through with green and orange angelina sparkles:

All of it is silky soft and beautiful, and I can’t wait to work with it. If you’re interested in buying some yourself, you can do it through the Farmhouse Fibers website. Of the yarns I didn’t end up buying, the Phantom alpaca-silk blend (made from Paco’s fur!) was especially tempting, as was the Sassafras worsted weight.

Fred and Laura’s business is primarily online, not brick-and-mortar, so I really appreciated their taking the time out to host us crazy, obsessed knitters for a few hours on a Friday night. It was really a wonderful field trip, well worth the 40-minute drive, and the handspun yarn from Michele’s coat will be one of the best fibery souvenirs of Southern Indiana I could possibly take with me when I move.

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.

So we went to Tales of Hoffmann at the IU Opera Friday night, and sadly, it was not a resounding success. I looked up halfway through the first act, and Rahul and our friend Trevor were both fast asleep, not having been captivated by the singing, flying glow-in-the-dark wine and beer bottles, the song about a crippled dwarf, the manufacturer of magical eyes (yet another Blade Runner-ish element in this opera), or the tale of doomed man-robot love. Trevor left after the second act, and Rahul complained bitterly that I was making him stay for the entire opera. On the plus side, I enjoyed it, and I got to wear my Swallowtail Shawl, which I knit sometime last year and haven’t ever gotten a chance to wear since then. It’s Handmaiden Sea Silk in “Forest,” one skein, and is fastened with a beautiful Perl Grey shawl pin from Robynn. Afterwards, we went to a couple of local bars (Bear’s Place and the Root Cellar at FARM) to meet up with friends.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I met up with Kalani, Nicole, Leigh, and Norma at the Sample Gates, and we drove about an hour northwest, for a field trip to The Fiber Event in Greencastle, IN. It was so much fun!

We saw a sign for Live Nude Bait on the way. (also gold panning and cigarettes!)

The weather was somewhat cold (around 40 degrees) and rainy, but thankfully a lot of the fair was indoors, and all of it was at least under a roof of some kind.

We saw some sheep being sheared!

One of the more experienced shearers was teaching a woman how to shear sheep, grabbing a sheep and flipping it over onto its back in one deft motion, like a judo master.

sheep rush

He righted it again and when it was his student’s turn, the sheep did not want to be turned over. It dug in its heels and resisted.

resisting sheep

Mostly, though, once the sheep were upended, they lay there quietly as the electric clippers buzzed.

Inside the fair, there were piles and piles of raw fleeces and rovings all over, and skeins of hand-dyed yarns dangling from hooks or piled in bins.

We saw fluffy angora bunnies:

We made friends with alpacas and llamas:

Doesn’t this one look like it’s on the red carpet at an awards show?

I’m actually sort of afraid to take pictures of llamas, particularly flash photos. They always stare at me intensely and put back their ears, and I’m afraid they’re going to spit at any minute.

We saw this antique New England braiding machine (from the 1800s, but I forget exactly when–1816, maybe?) whirring around. On a related topic, apparently there’s going to be a conference for owners of antique sock knitting machines, this June, in Nashville, IN. I see people using these around town every so often, at fiber arts events or in the yarn shop. They seem like fun.

We saw Kalani’s Shibuiknits patterns for sale at one booth, and thought she should surreptitiously autograph them and put them back on the rack. Here’s the famous designer herself, posing with her patterns!

I saw this sort of creepy-looking needle-felted creature–not sure if it’s a bear or a dog. The sign says: “Hello, My name is Secret. I’m named Secret because I have a secret. It is up to you to figure out what it is. You may have to pick me up to find out. Good luck!”

When you pick it up, the secret is that there is a smaller needle-felted creature embedded in Secret’s ass.

We ran into Elli, from our knitting group, and Wendie, who lives up in Indy. I was looking at a sign on a table and a woman there said “Excuse me, are you Huan-Hua?” Startled, I said yes, and she introduced herself as Holly, one of my test knitters for the Botany Baby Sweater! I saw Suzanne, who runs one of the yarn shops in town, and Diane, another spinner and knitter from Bloomington, and met an indie dyer I’d seen posting on Ravelry.

Here’s a group picture we took outside:

From left to right: Nicole, me, Kalani, Leigh, Norma, and Elli. Leigh is clutching a large ball of roving. She bought two balls of roving. The funny thing about that is that she doesn’t spin. (Yet.)

Here’s an equally important group purchase picture–the trunk of Nicole’s car, packed full of our purchases for the day.

Here’s what I ended up buying:

A skein of golden-orange Creatively Dyed Yarn, fingering weight. You can get her yarns at the Loopy Ewe, too. The label says it’s color number Gras #102, 100% superwash merino wool, approximately 500 yards. It’s a four-ply, low-twist yarn and will probably become lace of some kind. However, I’m not sure if it’s correctly labeled–it really doesn’t look like superwash merino to me, as it has a bit of a halo and shine that suggests alpaca or mohair. It also gave Leigh instant pricklies when she held it against her neck, suggesting it’s probably one of those fibers, not just wool. Or it might be a longwool sheep–I think she said it was “Wensleydale merino”–Wensleydale and Merino are two different breeds of sheep, as far as I know, but if it’s pure Wensleydale or a blend, that would explain the shine (it’s a luster longwool breed) and texture.

I got 4 oz. each of some naturally dyed rovings from Handspun by Stefania. I got stuck in this stall for probably half an hour, full of indecision–should I get indigo-dyed Jacob? Cochineal-dyed handspun? A handspun mitten kit containing fluffy white Great Pyrenees dog fur? I thought their prices were really good for handspun–$35 for a handspun mitten kit.

I finally settled on Corriedale dyed in lac (the bug that gave lacquer and shellac their names)–the base wool is a mixture of gray, black, and white, which is what gives the roving that range of dark to light purples:

and also a Corriedale-silk blend dyed in cochineal, madder, and Osage:

But my prize find was 2 oz. of buffalo down for $5 an ounce! I saw it elsewhere at the fair for $18 an ounce, and even that was apparently a bargain, since they’re selling it online for about $25$40 an ounce. I haven’t seen a lot of guard hairs in it, though there is a pretty good amount of wood and burrs. It’s from Jehovah Jireh Farm. I was also tempted by some gorgeous, autumnal-colored roving, a sample of which you can see on the right in the first picture, $12 for 8 oz. of a 50-50 wool-alpaca blend, if I remember right. But I stupidly repacked my bag before leaving and left my checkbook at home, and only had $25 in cash, so I was prevented from buying from a lot of the vendors, including this one–the buffalo plus alpaca-wool would have decimated my cash supplies, so I stuck to just the buffalo in the end.


Thing is, I hadn’t touched my wheel in months, so I felt really guilty about buying new roving and I was determined to turn at least some of my fiber into yarn before the day was out. And I did it! I must be the world’s slowest spinner–it took me about 2 hours to spin one ounce of buffalo fiber. It wasn’t the easiest fiber to spin, because it pulls apart into fluff really easily when you try to draft it, so before I got the hang of it, I was breaking it about every 30 seconds. It’s still awfully uneven, but I’m hoping it will improve once it’s plied.

But here are the fruits of my labor:

A very high-twist single in order to keep the fiber together, as fine as I could get it without breaking the fiber as I spun (not that fine, really, probably a little lighter than fingering weight), to be plied and made into who knows what at the end. I hope it fluffs up at the end, when it’s plied and set–I have a tendency to overspin and produce kind of ropy yarn. I’ll probably have some tiny amount of yarn at the end, 25 yards or something, but hey. It will be handspun buffalo down yarn!

I also went home with a major yarn crush on Briar Rose Fibers, but was so overwhelmed with the beautiful selection that I ended up not buying anything. Thankfully, they also sell their yarns online and go to a lot of different fiber fairs around the Midwest, so it wasn’t my last chance–I can think of an actual project to make and buy an appropriate yarn and amount based on that, instead of wildly snatching up everything from their entire booth like I had wanted to.

I also fell in love with Sea Silk in Peridot, a color I’d seen pictures of online and suspected I would like. I did. A lot. I’m not sure sea green and silver are great colors for me, but who cares? SO PRETTY. Again, though, it’s available online, so I can wait.

Before I forget, too, I took some experimental videos with my digital camera at the event. Flickr just started offering free video hosting, so here are the videos! I don’t think I can embed them, since I’m using free hosting on WordPress, so you’ll have to click through. Sheep shearing, and sheep waiting to be sheared. Turn up the sound–the main reason I took these was to capture the hilarious bleats and yells from the sheep waiting to be sheared.

So Jejune tipped me off that Amazon sells yarn, and not just the dishcloth cotton I found last time I looked. Since I have an Amazon credit card that gives me back 3% on Amazon purchases, I thought I’d go see what was available and how it compares to other retailers. Here are some of my discoveries:

Item Amazon’s price MSRP or competing price
Joseph Galler Belangor Angora Yarn $9.95 (this is being sold by a fly fishing company for tying flies!) $12 at Purl Soho
Cascade Fixation $4.49 $4.60 MSRP
Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock $9.99 $10.00 MSRP
Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace $49.95 $48.00 MSRP
Cascade 220 $5.99 $6.60 MSRP
Cascade 220 Superwash $9.49 $9.80 at Jimmy Bean’s
Misti Alpaca Laceweight $6.99 $7.20 at WEBS
     

Spurred on by curiosity about the Belangor angora, I also looked up worm binders, which people on Ravelry were suggesting as an alternative to circular needle binders. Here’s one that looks nice. $15 for 10 ziploc pouches, 8.5 x 4″.

I’m also tempted by this 12 sets of 5 bamboo DPNs, sizes US 1-11, for $19.99.

Maybe I’ll post some more if I get inspired to do any more research. As she mentions, though, you can find good stuff in general if you search for Lorna’s Laces, Cascade, Misti, Catalina, or AlpacaDirect. Or heck, just “yarn” will work, too. Jo-Ann Fabrics sells stuff through Amazon as well, like the cheapo ball winders, but the prices are the same as if you order directly from Jo-Ann–plus you can often find coupons for free shipping or 40% off for Jo-Ann.

So after too many wordy, pictureless posts, here’s some shiny eye candy. This post fits into the latest Project Spectrum theme quite neatly: “pinks, reds, and oranges.” I don’t know if I’ll be able to hold myself to participating in Project Spectrum all year, but I’m off to a good start…

First off, some nice red yarn on ice: my Sundara Sock yarn in Black over Wine. The color is actually a little bit darker than these pictures show, but Photoshop only made matters worse, so I left the photos in their original state. The yarn is really a mixture of deeply saturated blackened reds, like Bing cherries. The interesting icy backdrop is the result of our recent rain collecting on our fabric deck chairs and freezing.

And next up, a shawl in lovely pinks and oranges, knit from a single skein of sock yarn. A few years ago, I bought this peach silk dress in Thailand. It shines gold in the sun where the fabric drapes and folds, and glows peach in the shadows. It seemed like the perfect backdrop for this shawl, knit in a similarly shimmering mixture of merino and tencel, dyed in similarly peachy-gold colors. (I have another peach-colored Thai silk scarf I bought recently at a thrift store but didn’t photograph. It was getting kind of ridiculous)

Pattern: Shetland Triangle, by Evelyn A. Clark, from Wrap Style

Size: I knit one more body repeat than specified in the pattern (9 repeats total) and ended the pointed edging early. The edging chart goes through 14 rows and I knit only 10, plus the ending row written out in the text. The finished dimensions pre-blocking, in lightly flattened egg-carton state: 40” across top, 18” long. The finished dimensions post-blocking: 56” across top, 26” long. On the small side, but it works well as a decorative garment when pinned shut, not so well when left to drape by itself.

Yarn used: Chameleon Colorworks Twinkle Toes in “October,” a merino-tencel sock yarn. The color looks nothing like it does on the website. I found this yarn at Imagiknit in San Francisco, back when I visited around Thanksgiving–you may remember the photos of it in the skein. The yarn is pretty, but feels fairly hard and high-twist (that’s good for a sock yarn, I guess, but it was a little surprising, and less desirable for lace). There were a few disappointingly pale spots–not exactly pure white, but a very pale apple-blossom pink that stood out against the mostly darker shades of old gold, tangerine-peach, and damask rose in the rest of the skein.

In these photos, the colors are truest in the sunny balcony pictures and the close-up photos of the shawl draped on a rock. Warm, shimmery, nice.

The colors are off on these indoor photos, but the light gives the pictures a pleasing Victorian quality (exacerbated, I’m sure, by the old-fashioned bow tied in the back of my dress):

Needles used: US size 6/4.0 mm Addi Turbos for most of the body, US size 8/5.0 mm Denise circulars for the bindoff.

Started: 1/27/08

Finished: 1/31/08

Mods: As I mentioned above, I altered the number of lace body chart repeats and worked only part of the edging chart. I used a p2tog bindoff, with larger needles, on the wrong side of the work:
p1, *p1, slip 2 sts back to left needle, p2tog* to end.

I took some photos of the shawl pre-blocking, all bumpy and crumpled:

and post-blocking, all smooth and flat:

I love the transformation in texture that comes from stretching a knit to within an inch of its life. I wet-blocked this shawl, as I do most pieces–soaked it in the sink in Eucalan, squeezed it out, then pinned it down on the floor on an old towel.

The sun came out this weekend, thankfully, though the weather was still a little chilly and blustery. Look at the way the wind blew the points of the shawl up, casting all these pleasing shadow-lace patterns on my dress:

I have to say this colorway still doesn’t say “October” to me, but I have trouble pinning down what seasonal references it makes me think of instead. I’d say spring off the top of my head, because of the pastel tones, but the real-life referents for me would be dahlias, peaches, apricots–late summer?

And actually, have any of you read the Darkangel trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce? It’s a bizarre and wonderful YA trilogy, with a definite feel of medieval fantasy but in fact set on the moon in the distant future. I keep thinking of the apricok, a heart-shaped fruit the protagonist, Aeriel, eats in the second book, A Gathering of Gargoyles. Thanks to Amazon’s Search Inside feature, I can quote the description for you here:

It was only half the size of her doubled fist, and made in lobes so that it looked almost heart-shaped. Rose gold in color, very dark, it shone like amber in the morning light.

The fruit was warm to her touch; Solstar had baked it. Its smooth skin was covered with fine hairs, like bees’ fur. It came away easily from the stem when she pulled on it. The crystal leaves tinkled. The gnarled branches swayed. Its aroma was like honey browned in cinnamon.

Aeriel felt weak. She brushed the fuzz; it fell away like reddish dust. Beneath, the skin was gold. She bit into the fruit. Its nectar was warm and sweet, the flesh tender and tasting of spice.

Sundara updated her shop yesterday with new sock yarns, and I succumbed to the cultish hype about her colors and ordered a skein. Even though I was an hour late to the sale, I got my first choice, a limited edition yarn called Black over Wine. I have to admit that a certain doubt about my choice crept into my mind when I realized that as of today there are still two skeins left of it, while all of my other choices have completely vanished. It’s not quite as unpopular as Evergreen Over Lime (8 skeins left) but all the others, the gray roses, autumn peaches, deep blue-purples, are all gone. Then I wondered what kind of brainless sheep I must be to think such a thing. I loved Black over Wine when I saw it, so why should other people’s opinions matter, especially considering other people haven’t seen it in person?

I was on the fence about even ordering in the first place. I didn’t want to succumb to the feeding frenzy that occurs when certain cult favorite yarns are posted for sale (Wollmeise at the Loopy Ewe comes to mind). But I keep seeing gorgeous finished objects posted, with rave reviews of Sundara’s yarn, like Kristen’s February Baby Sweater and Emily’s Mossy socks–and of course the “celebrity endorsements” from superstar bloggers like Grumperina, Eunny, and Brooklyntweed.

I’ve heard so many good things about this yarn. Hope it lives up to the hype! I’m not even sure what to make from it. Socks? Gloves? Mittens? A beret? A lacy little shawl? A scarf?

Oh, and on the subject of yarn shopping, I noticed the other day that A Verb for Keeping Warm sells all natural-dyed yarns and rovings: indigo, logwood, madder, etc. Pretty fascinating.

I’ve also been using yarn up, in addition to just buying it. I finished the Loop-D-Loop Leaf Lace Pullover and hopefully will have some pictures of it soon. The shoulders and arms are a bit tight on me, and I’m hoping the wet-blocking I gave it last night will have fixed that. It seems terribly unfair that while my arms and shoulders are apparently linebackerish in proportion to my bust size, they possess all the strength of the mighty biceps of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

“The fact is that camels are far more intelligent than dolphins. They are so much brighter that they soon realized that the most prudent thing any intelligent animal can do, if it would prefer its descendants not to spend a lot of time on a slab with electrodes clamped to their brains or sticking mines on the bottom of ships or being patronized rigid by zoologists, is to make bloody certain humans don’t find out about it. So they long ago plumped for a lifestyle that, in return for a certain amount of porterage and being prodded with sticks, allowed them adequate food and grooming and the chance to spit in a human’s eye and get away with it.

And this particular camel, the result of millions of years of selective evolution to produce a creature that could count the grains of sand it was walking over, and close its nostrils at will, and survive under the broiling sun for many days without water, was called You Bastard.

And he was, in fact, the greatest mathematician in the world.”

–Terry Pratchett, from Pyramids. (I think this is a good place to start with the Discworld books–more or less standalone in the story arcs, and not too many in-jokes)

I have been knitting this baby camel scarf for two hours while watching Tin Man (so far, vaguely interesting, but not compelling) and, as I predicted in my post from a couple of hours ago, the Karabella Camissimo yarn is horrible to work with. The needle gets caught in the boucle fluff and keeps the yarn from sliding. The polyamide core of the yarn is not stretchy at all, so all this tugging against both the nonstretchy core and the stuck fluff kind of makes my hands hurt.

Therefore, I am dubbing this scarf, 27 sts of mistake-rib on size 10 1/2 needles, the You Bastard scarf, because

1) it involves a lot of camel (32%),

2) I am desperately hoping it will go faster with much application of pointy sticks

and, of course,

3) it is a total bastard, and hates me.

I flew back to Indiana last night, and boy, are my arms tired!

I had a busy weekend–had a Chinese foot massage, got kicked out of a psychic parlor because my “energy” was spoiling my friend’s reading, went thrift shopping, snuck my friend’s 18-year-old brother into a lesbian bar in DUMBO, visited MOMA and saw the Seurat exhibit, helped cat-sit a ridiculously flat-faced Persian cat named Sasha, had delicious brunch with some friends at an Israeli restaurant named Miriam in Cobble Hill, caught the first snowfall of the year in New York (so insanely cold! I need a new coat) so the only other yarn shopping I managed to sneak in was at Purl, right before meeting my cousin for shopping and hot cider.

I love love love Purl Soho’s online store and the Purl Bee, so it came as a bit of a surprise when I was thoroughly underwhelmed with the actual, in-person shopping experience. The stores were cute, nay, beautiful, but in the way that makes them nice to photograph for a Martha Stewart Living photo spread rather than nice to shop in as an experienced knitter. The spaces were incredibly tiny and cramped (I almost stepped on a tiny Chihuahua someone had brought in with her) and the yarns were shoved into the shelves so that you could only see the very end of the skein.

Admittedly, this makes the store very beautiful, but it’s also really annoying. If you see a skein you like, you have to pull it out to look at the label and price, and then shove it back in, and I felt like I was mangling the yarn every time I did that. I would also sometimes want to know if I was looking at the same yarn or a different one and would have to continually pull out and push back new skeins, because it wasn’t always obvious which ones were the same or where the boundaries between yarns fell.

The selection was gorgeous–so many colors of the Fibre Company Terra!–but pretty limited, with the pricing set the way you’d expect it to be for a bijou boutique in Soho (Kelp Knits called this “the Purl tax”) and between all these factors, I ended up feeling like I’d rather just go shopping online, especially considering Purl’s 40% off yarns are only available on their website.

It was nice to see the gorgeous shop projects in person. I’ve made the Child’s Rainbow Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts about 5 times, and I wanted to make it yet again after seeing their version in Alchemy Migration.

Because I’m not a particularly experienced or knowledgeable seamstress, on the other hand, I decided to buy some fabric at Purl Patchwork for aprons and bags.

1/2 yard of Kokka Trefle, a heavyish cotton-linen blend printed with chickens:

1 yard of Anna Griffin Blythe printed with a botanical pattern:

and some Amy Butler fat quarters in acid yellow and teal.

In case my own sewing doesn’t work out so well, I also invested in an absolutely adorable patchwork tote bag made by Along the Grain, being sold at a temporary holiday crafts store called La Superette, set up for this year in a storefront near Times Square. It has a zippered pocket inside, and little round appliques all over the front like bubbles. Floating in some of the bubbles are chickens and bunnies. How could I resist, especially when it’s such a cheerful color? (Mine looks exactly like the one I linked on Etsy)

So back to yarn shopping: School Products was wonderful. Thanks to everyone who recommended it! It was kind of the opposite shopping experience from Purl: hidden on an upper floor of a dark and decrepit-looking office building, it was totally empty when I went in, and had huge spaces with clearly labeled yarn spread out on tables and loosely stacked in bins and baskets.

There was So. Much. Cashmere. Brushed and smooth, chunky and laceweight, tweedy and handpainted, and so many droolworthy blends on top of the “plain” cashmere. It was kind of hard to shop for yarn here for a different reason, though: not all of the “special” skeins are labeled with yarn weight, yardage, skein weight, or recommended needle size, and many of them are sold by the ounce. In combination, all this makes it hard to compare prices in your head to see if you’re getting a good deal or not. You have to take any skein you’re interested in to the register to have it weighed and priced out for you.

I bought two skeins of Karabella Camissimo because they have a screaming deal on this yarn right now–normally $16-17, it’s selling for $6. It doesn’t look like it will be especially fun to knit, and it doesn’t look especially expensive–a chunky boucle, it has the look of something hairy and terrible from Michael’s. However, it is 50% merino and 32% baby camel and accordingly wonderfully soft and luxurious. (The rest is polyamide.)

The color I got was rather camelly, the brown/cream color labeled 18109 in the picture below:

I think I’m going to make a super-simple mistake-rib scarf with this. The yarn is so fuzzy, there’s no point in doing anything too special with the stitch pattern.

I also got two skeins of a chunky pale gray cashmere/merino two-ply and a skein of a redwood-colored, multi-stranded yak/merino worsted weight blend that, from the look of their shop sample, blooms into a fluffy, absolutely gorgeous fabric. I think the colors I got were 18 and 4, respectively.

I have one thing to say about MOMA. It was great to visit, but be advised that you cannot check in a suitcase at the bag check. The first time I tried to go, on my way from checking out from my hotel to my friend’s apartment, I was thwarted by the bag check people and had to content myself with buying some 3D sketchpads and lusting after the Reveal watch in the museum store–fun, but not quite the same experience as getting to see great art.

One of the sketchpads was a gift for the friend I stayed with–I also ended up showing him the Boku Hyphening wristwarmers and promising them at some future date. So I’ll have to add some wristwarmer thumbs to my knitting queue, and meanwhile my essential Christmas knitting has not progressed at all in the last week. A little less than three weeks left to go now…