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Posts Tagged ‘Yarn’

Imperial Yarn, I am taking this opportunity to publicly applaud you for two things you are doing right.

Thing 1: The way you tie your tags

The tags are securely attached, but with a firm bow, not a knot. That means I don’t have to trim with a scissors. That’s a little bit more yarn that doesn’t go to waste. I don’t always have the patience, or even the ability to untie the knots that yarn companies use to bind their hanks together.

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Thing 2: Tags that can be re-purposed

I greatly appreciate it when companies make thoughtful choices with their packaging. Some sort of label or tag is necessary when selling commercial yarn. Ball bands are secure and provide lots of surface area for printing text and images, but they’re fragile and easy to lose. And they really have no utility once they’ve been removed. Tags are often not much better, in my opinion, as they are too stiff to roll up and stuff into the center of a yarn cake and too small to be re-purposed as anything else. Plus, a lot of yarn companies (hello Quince and Co.) attach them to their hanks with such long loops of yarn attached that they seem to be promoting this tangling problem.

Imperial Yarn uses nice large tags, bound closely to their hanks, so they don’t tangle.  And those tags are exactly the right size and thickness to serve as coasters. I don’t know about you, but I think a home can never have too many coasters. My knitting is usually accompanied by a drink of some kind: hot tea or wine in in the winter, a cold beer or iced tea in the summer.  As an added bonus, knitters like me are littering their homes with free advertising for Imperial Yarns. A complete win-win, in my opinion.

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Hats off to you, Imperial Yarn.

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My Saturday at the Shepherd’s Harvest Wool Festival in Lake Elmo, MN.

Rabbit Agility, it’s a thing.  4-H shows off the skills of their highly-trained rabbit athletes. They all seem to like to hide in the tunnel at the end of the course. 20140522-092403-33843080.jpg

Spinning wheels galore.  I had plans to try out that great wheel, but never got around to it. Next time… 20140522-092431-33871222.jpg

Luscious yarns and kits. I managed to be really good this time and didn’t buy much yarn. Just a couple of hanks from a favorite vendor, Winterwind Farm, who sells CVM blends. 20140522-092500-33900394.jpg   20140522-092457-33897497.jpg   20140522-092502-33902176.jpg

The grand prize for rebranding . Because anything that says “Cashmere” has to be a luxury good. 20140522-092503-33903042.jpg

Where I went a little crazy, was in buying fleeces. Pretty, pretty fleeces. Nice presentation too. It looks like they climbed a tall ladder and snipped a bit of cloud out of the sky, then wound it up and plopped it into a basket. I started with just one, but then ended up winning a couple more in the silent auction. I honestly didn’t expect to win either of them.

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Animals 

I wonder what breed of sheep this is?

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This male llama had to be kept penned separately from the herd. He was also the only one who hadn’t been sheared. A bit aggressive perhaps?

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Mama goat and her two kids, I assume?

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Last weekend, Mom and I made the joyful trek up to Yarnover.

We shopped.

Adorable felted ride-em horsies

Adorable felted ride-em horsies

We took a Fearless Two Color Mittens Class from Mary Scott Huff. Mary started out the class with a simple exercise in stranded color work for those who needed a review  or for those (like me) who had never tried it at all. The “fearless” aspect of this class was definitely for me. I took this class so I could conquer my personal “Dr. Strangelove” in knitting (i.e., “How I learned to stop worrying love the [fill in knitting-related fear]“).

Mary's a live wire and very entertaining.

Mary’s a live wire and very entertaining.

Here's my first attempt at Norwegian stranded color work. A few rows later, I learned why it's so important to keep your floats loose. This sucker was puckered.

Here’s my first attempt at Norwegian stranded color work. A few rows later, I learned why it’s so important to keep your floats loose. This sucker was puckered.

Later on, Mary passed out her Nordica pattern for us to try. Here was my first try:

I made it about halfway through the mitten when I finally had to acknowledge that I was knitting WAY too loosely. In my effort to keep my floats loose I was knitting everything like rubber-girl.  So I ripped back.

I made it about halfway through the mitten when I finally had to acknowledge that I was knitting WAY too loosely. In my effort to keep my floats loose I was knitting everything like rubber-girl. So I ripped back.

I tried again with firmer tension and smaller needles and got this:

Mitten #1, minus the thumb. It fits. Huzzah!

Mitten #1, minus the thumb. It fits. Huzzah!

 

We took a break at lunch to wolf down some food and chat with friends from my local knitting group. Everyone talked about their morning classes and the classes they were planning to take in the afternoon. I found myself wishing I could undergo a few rounds of cellular mitosis right then and there so that I could take everyone else’s classes as well as my own.

In the afternoon, Mom and I also took a Spinning and Plying Cabled Yarns class with Francine Ruiter. My first-time results were semi-successful.

Francine getting things started. We're all itching to spin.

Francine getting things started. We’re all itching to spin.

YO7

My cabled yarn on the bobbin.

Mom working on her singles. She's shy, so you only get to see her cute smile.

Mom working on her singles. She’s internet-shy, so you only get to see her cute smile.

My cabled yarn finished. If you look closely, there are certain sections of it that seem to have the visual characteristics of a cabled yarn. But not all. Sigh. Must practice.

My cabled yarn finished. If you look closely, there are certain sections of it that seem to have the visual characteristics of a cabled yarn. But not all. Sigh. Must practice.

I left Yarnover feeling jazzed about the new techniques I’d learned, particularly the Norwegian stranded color work.

I think my Ravelry favorites are about to be flooded with color work projects.

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1. Yarnover is coming up this weekend. I’ll be driving up to attend with my mother, another yarn-junkie. We’re both taking classes (fearless two color mittens and spinning cabled yarns).  I’ll  try to restrain myself while shopping in the market, but I don’t promise anything. When I went to Yarnover two years ago, I had no idea what these colorful hankies were for, or why so many vendors were selling them. They seemed oddly luxurious and yet wasteful as nose-blowing tools.

Fiber is so hawt.

Fiber is so hawt.

That was before I started spinning. Now I know what they’re for and I’m planning to pick up some of my very own to play with.

2. Next weekend, my knitting group is taking a long-anticipated trip to a local winery. (Stupid winter). We’ll sample the wines, eat a nice lunch, knit and gab and have a grand old time.

Four Daughter’s Winery

 3. My animal shelter fundraiser (which ends on May 6) is getting some good participation.

I’m giving away a hand-knitted shawl as a prize. I’ve received so many lovely comments. It warms my heart.

I did it! We have always had rescue animals — eight cats so far and three dogs, every one of them a delight. When our boys were still at home we used to foster litters of kittens every summer. I am also on the board of our local humane society. Clearly, I HAD to donate  :-) Thanks for doing this.

orion window

I just completed my donation payment online! Paws and Claws is a wonderful organization of truly compassionate people! Our family adopted our fuzzbutt, Elsie, last year from a wonderful woman assisting a local shelter as a foster home. Our sweet little Chihuahua was not quite one year old when she came home, and I was concerned for her transition. But due to the amazing care and love she received from the shelter and foster home, she transitions with ease and great health! We have a feisty pup in our home that is always looking for a warm snuggle when she is not cruising her kingdom and playing. Thank you for donating your great time, skills and resources to promote this great cause! 

Good-time Charlie, a dog who was just adopted at Paws and Claws.

Good-time Charlie, a dog who was just adopted at Paws and Claws.

I made a donation to Paws and Claws. This is a wonderful contest! I would wear this shawl with pride if I was the lucky one. The animals win either way! Thanks so much for your generosity.

4. The 5th Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Starts May 12

This blog carnival is always so much fun and is such a good opportunity to meet new bloggers and stretch my blogging muscles. I’m already plotting some outrageous ideas for my posts. Maybe something involving duct tape and Legos.

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Usually I have more self control and knit-scipline than this. I can pick one or two projects and work at them diligently. I may have yearnings after other patterns and yarns, but I’m able to stay committed to the  ones I have chosen.

Not this spring. And it’s not my fault. It’s the fault of the designers. If they didn’t create such tempting patterns I wouldn’t have fallen into this sorry, schizo-knittic state.

Culprit #1: Julie Turjoman

Julie Turjoman just came out with a glorious set of summer-friendly patterns: Knits That Breathe: 12 Breezy Projects To Keep You Cool.  I can’t say enough positive things about this collection. I can imagine living in these tanks, tees and tunics all summer long. I can imagine actually being comfortable in my knitwear in August. How often can one really say that? 

The patterns use an outstanding variety of warm-weather fibers: linen, cotton, bamboo and silk, tencel, and even milk whey/soy. My favorite is Still Waters, a breezy tee in sport-weight linen. The original pattern calls for Claudia Handpainted Yarns Linen, but I’m going to try using some Louet Euroflax Sport from my stash.

Still Waters. Photo used with permission. Pattern by Julie Turjoman. Photo by Zoë Lonergan.

Culprit #2: Jean Chung

The designs in Knitscene are sometimes a little too “trendy” for me. I am leery of knitting a top that will be out of fashion by the time I’m done knitting it. But the Summer 2014 issue is different. It’s full of quirky interesting patterns that are just…me. Designer Jean Chung is responsible for one of them: Austin Tee.

Photo used with permission. Pattern by Jean Chung. Photo copyright Knitscene/Harper Point.

I was attracted to this tee because of the lovely lace. So many of the summer tops are dominated by large sections of stockinette. Sometimes I need something a little more stimulating. This tee is just the ticket. I’m knitting this one in Classic Elite Yarns Cerro, a sumptuous pima cotton/alpaca blend. I can’t wait until this tee is done. I wish I were wearing it now.

Culprit #3:  Bristol Ivy

Here’s another pattern from the Summer 2014 issue of Knitscene: Linum Tee, by Bristol Ivy.  I’m totally, irrevocably in love with this pattern, like I’m a teenage girl and this top is a sparkly vampire.

Linum Tee by Bristol Ivy. Copyright Knitscene/Harper Point. Used with permission.

This top just gets me. The asymmetrical lace panel at the top says, “hey, I’m creative and adventurous and I make my own rules.” The solid stockinette body says, “you can wear me to work without violating dress code.” I haven’t cast this one on yet, but I will just as soon as I can get my hands on some fingering weight linen or a suitable substitute.  My LYS doesn’t have anything quite right in stock and I want to use just the right thing. Soon, soon Linum shall be mine.

Culprit #4: Klever Knits

I saw this elegant tank on KleverKnits blog and was instantly enchanted. The original is knitted in DK weight cotton, but I imagined an alternate version knitted in purple Hempathy. I’ve been dying to try Hempathy in a pattern and here’s the perfect opportunity.

Sterling Peplum by Klever Knits Used with permission.

I’ll be casting this one on as soon as my yarn arrives in the mail.

Culprit#5: Rusty Baker

I always look forward to the seasonal knitwear collections from HollaKnits. They’re not afraid to be edgy, not even a little bit. I love the young, hip, urban vibe to their designs. The latest collection features Stonybrook Top, a spunky, funky design I can’t help but love.

Stoney Brook Top by Rusty Baker. Used with permission

I hear mesh is going to be all the rage this season. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’ve never been a big fan of mesh. But I could get behind mesh it looks like this. This is definitely a top you need to wear with a tank underneath. The original was knitted in a woolen yarn, but I think I would choose something different to lighten it up. I’ll have to search my stash.

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There’s a shelter pet out there who wants to meet you

I know because I have two shelter cats at home. They cuddle with me when I have a cold, defend our domain from crows and ladybugs, and in general do everything they can to be members of the pride.

Orion, a shy, cuddle-monkey we adopted from Paws and Claws three years ago.

Orion, a shy cuddle-monkey we adopted from Paws and Claws three years ago.

I love pet adoption and I love animals. But I can’t take them all home, and neither can you. That’s why animal shelters, like my local Paws and Claws animal shelter, are so important. They have the will and the means to do what no individual can accomplish. They make it their mission to:

  • Rescue and care for lost or abandoned animals
  • Seek adoptive homes
  • Promote responsible companion animal care.

They make the world a better place.

Enter to win this hand-knitted shawl by making a donation to your local animal shelter

I decided I wanted to do something to give back to my local animal shelter through my love of knitting. And I wanted to give other people a chance to take part to help make a greater impact.

So I decided to knit a shawl. And I’m offering that shawl in a prize drawing for people who choose to join me in supporting animal shelters.

About the shawl

This colorful, stylish shawl was hand-knitted by me using a combination of local fibers:

Shawl draped

shawl on bushes

The pattern is Color Affection by Veera Välimäki. The shawl took approximately 20-30 hours to knit. It would make a gorgeous accessory for you, or for someone special in your life.

How to enter the shawl drawing

1) Make a donation to your local animal shelter. Here’s a link to my local Paws and Claws animal shelter donation page.

2) Leave a comment. Come back to this blog post and leave a comment telling me:

  • You made a donation to an animal shelter.  You don’t have to tell me how much.
  • Tell me about the intended recipient of the shawl (Will it be for you? You mom? Your dentist?). Alternatively, tell me a cute pet story.

I’m doing this on the honor system, however I reserve the right to disqualify any entry that doesn’t follow the rules or that I deem “fishy.”

Entries will be accepted April 8-May 6, 2014.  There will be one entry per person, no matter how much you choose to donate. The winner will be drawn randomly using a random number generator. I will contact the winner via email and will announce the winner here on this blog the week of May 6, 2014.

This is a prize drawing where everybody wins

Even if you don’t win the shawl, you’ll still win because you donated money that will help companion animals in need. Animals like:

  • Good-Time Charlie, who wants to run, and jump, and play, and lick your face, all at once.
  • Harley, a charming girl who enjoys drinking from the faucet

Your entry and donation will make a difference, no matter what.

Other ways you can help

If you don’t wish to participate in the drawing, you can still contribute to this campaign. Tell your friends. Share a link on Facebook.

Good-time Charlie, a dog who was just adopted at Paws and Claws.

Good-time Charlie, a dog who was just adopted at Paws and Claws.

Woopi, a cat currently available for adoption at Paws and Claws (as of 4/3/14)

Woopi, a cat currently available for adoption at Paws and Claws (as of 4/3/14)

And if you have animal companions at home, give them a scritch for me.

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For the most part, I consider myself a process knitter. I revel in the feel of the yarn between my fingers. I enjoy the mini-puzzles that patterns present to me. I lose myself in the rhythm of stitch upon stitch. I even draw the process out by making my own yarn.

Occasionally, though, the urge to knit a specific object takes hold and spreads, like a rash. I am consumed with desire for a particular knitted object and I will endure almost any amount of annoyance, boredom, or psychological discomfort to obtain it. The most recent example is this lovely little top:

PatternFolded by Veera Välimäki

Mods: I added three extra decrease rows to the neckline. I have narrow-ish shoulders and wide necklines tend to slip off. Very annoying.

It’s a light-weight sweater in a very flattering shape. But apart from the hem and cuffs, and those little pleats at the bust, it’s all stockinette. And it’s in fingering weight yarn.

So much stockinette. Oh lord, so much stockinette.

I knitted this top with determination until I made it to the sleeves (it’s knit from the bottom up). Then I couldn’t take it anymore. I put Folded away for a couple of months and proceed to treat my stockinette stupor with more stimulating projects:  two lace shawls, a sweater and a Color Affection.  Eventually, my desire for the knitted object resurfaced. I picked up and knitted the interminable sleeves, then powered through the yoke.

The only thing that saved my sanity was the yarn. I chose Rowan Fine Art 314, a lively purple sock yarn with built in striping. The resulting zigzags in my sweater turned out very nicely: they make it lively and add a lot of visual interest to an otherwise plain garment. Heaven knows what would have happened to me, or to the sweater, if I had chosen a solid colorway.

 

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Probing is such a drag. I’m sure you all agree.

One minute you’re sitting on the couch, your favorite Jane Austen movie playing in the back ground, your knitting needles clicking away… and then you feel a slight twinge. It’s a strange sensation, like a disembodied finger poking you in the temporal cortex.

“Hey you,” A voice says in your mind. “Yeah, you. Remember me? I’m that sweater you started four months ago. You dropped me to work on that stupid Color Affection shawl then never picked me up again. You were too sissy to cast on my sleeves cause they were too much work. Oh poor baby. So much stockinette.”

Yep, that’s a UFO (unfinished object). And it’s probing you.

It is unknown if there are any adverse effects of UFO probing over time.

Some subjects report that it is possible to become inured to the sensation. With practice, these subjects report that they can tolerate probing  from multiple UFO sources with no discernible mental or emotional disturbance. 

Other subjects report feelings of anxiety and guilt that build over time. Some subjects adopt coping mechanisms to decrease exposure to probing. These may include:

  • Isolating UFOs outside of normal sensory range (e.g., hiding them in a closet)
  • Establishment of false priority hierarchies (e.g., Christmas is only 9 months away, I had better get started on my gift knitting now)
  • Adoption of superstitious beliefs justifying avoidance (e.g., this sweater is cursed)

 When these coping mechanisms fail, subjects frequently adopt a fight or flight response.

In recent months, my UFO probing experiences have become increasingly uncomfortable. At one time or another I have adopted all of the coping strategies above, and more besides. 

But not this time. I’m proud to report that I have begun a successful campaign to search out and destroy…errr…complete my UFOs. Once  I complete them, they can’t probe me any more.

So far I’ve completed one fingering weight sweater (it needed a yoke) and have picked up a lace weight cardigan that still needs sleeves and some trim. Next comes a stuffed toy languishing for want of a  head. Little Noodle, your head is mine!

 

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My sheep to sweater project is complete.

Woot!

And there’s still snow on the ground.

Double Woot!

Here are some photos of Drusilla, my trusty knit-wear assistant, modeling my new sweater.

Pattern: Greenwood Pullover by Ann-Marie Jackson

Fiber: Texel wool, undyed.

Fiber prep: Hand-washed, flicked (some of it), and hand-carded.

Spinning: Hand-spun supported long-draw (mostly). Two-ply. No idea about twists per inch, etc… I think there are “enough” and I guess I’ll leave it at that.

I started with 1,480 yards of mostly-worsted weight yarn. I probably used about 1,100 yards for the sweater. The rest is leftovers (which will make a great hat) or was used in swatching.

This sweater is very light-weight and remarkably non-scratchy. I wore it while doing errands this morning. I wanted to show off my sweater to everyone I met: “See this awesome sweater? This used to be  a fleece until two months ago when I spun it, then knitted it. I am a fiber goddess.”

This sheep to sweater process was so rewarding. I’m going to do it again and again.

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I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. It was pointed out to me (sorry Mom) that I teased you all about my choice of what to do with my handspun Texel yarn, even asked you to help me choose a pattern, and then just left it hanging.

Mom is right, it’s very rude to build up suspense like that, and then to spend my next three posts talking about hoarding knitting magazines, knitted toys I may or may not ever actually knit, and a completely unrelated shawl project.

Let me make up for it now. The winner of the sweater contest was: Greenwood by Ann-Marie Jackson.

This sweater is knitted in two halves, sideways. Then you sew the halves together and knit on cuffs, hem and a droopy collar. Right now, I’m blocking the main body of the sweater.

I have really enjoyed this pattern. It’s remarkably easy to  knit. And the little stripes made sewing-up much easier. I had little visual cues to help me along at five-stitch intervals.

My handspun yarn has behaved extremely well throughout. There are only a few tiny areas where the yarn is a bit on the thin side. I’ll never notice those when I wear this. I love the loft and lightness of this sweater in a long-draw, woolen-spun yarn. Hardly any weight at all. Such a difference from the worsted yarns I usually spin.

More on this sweater soon. I have a feeling it will be done in no time–maybe even before all the snow is gone. It’s in the 40′s F outside today and there are puddles everywhere. All morning I have been hearing icicles falling off the roof with loud thuds. I’m knitting against the clock.

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