I’m one of those people who gets annoyed at seeing Christmas decorations come out right after Halloween. I like my holidays low key and in discrete, small chunks.
But uncharacteristically, I’m getting excited about a holiday early this year. A knitting holiday — NAKNISWEMO: National Knit a Sweater Month.
It all started when the Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2016 collection came out earlier this week. I am in love with the men’s sweaters in this collection. Specifically:
A gloriously cabled body and simple sleeves. A little challenge. But the sleeves give me a bit of a break with something relatively easy. Those look like saddle shoulders. I really enjoy sewing together sweaters with this kind of shoulder. Much easier than set-in sleeves.
Image as seen on Ravelry:
This one has diamond cables that look like so much fun to knit, combined with an all-over texture that extends down the sleeves. This one features drop shoulders, so once again I would get out of doing a set-in sleeve (yay!).
One of these two sweaters is definitely going to be my NaKniSweMo2016 project. I just can’t choose which one. I have a month and a half to figure it out and acquire my yarn.
Any one else want to start celebrating/obsessing early with me?
I’m attending the January Thaw retreat in 2017 and I’m struggling with retreat KAL peer pressure. The KAL is to knit one of Laura Aylor’s patterns using Sun Valley Fibers Yarn (the host of the event). Ordinarily, I can get behind a KAL that gives you a choice of designer OR yarn. But this KAL is for designer AND yarn…and some stubborn, non-conformist part of me rebels.
However, I’ve decided to quash my deviant impulse. It’s not as if I have any distaste for the designer’s patterns. And the yarn is one of my favorite local lines. So I’m going to force myself to jump onto the bandwagon. Both feet. Not just running alongside, like I usually do.
I’ve decided to knit Faberge , a pattern I’ve had on my Ravelry favorites list since it first came out. I love the varied textures of this shawl. Lately I’ve been knitting a lot of complex lace, so this will be a very constructive change. Force me to practice beading, slipped stitches, and horizontal braid.
Photo by Laura Aylor, as seen on Ravelry.
I plan to knit my Faberge using two lovely contrasting colorways of Sun Valley MCN in Cousteau (green-blue) and Golden Harvest (golden orange). The colors sound loud, but I think they’ll work in this shawl.
I imagine my resistance to the rules of this KAL will melt away once I begin to knit. By the time January Thaw rolls around, I should have a nice, cushy, toasty shawl ready to wear and show off at the retreat.
My little Akerworks spindle is my favorite travel spindle. It fits into my purse easily. And because it’s made out of carbon fiber and plastic, it’s pretty hard to destroy. I’ve been carrying it around for over a year and the only damage it has sustained is a little bit of bending of the hook (the one part of the spindle made with a softer metal). Believe me, I’ve dropped this sucker dozens of times. This little guy can take a serious beating.
Adan, don’t worry. This is an old photo. I now know that the little black thing in this photo is upside down.
Last weekend, my husband and I attended the Great River Folk Festival in La Crosse. It’s an outdoor folk music fest that frequently brings in the likes of Claudia Schmidt and Susan Werner. I always bring a fiber project to work on, since I know I’ll be spending all day and most of the evening listening to music. Spinning is the perfect activity for this sort of event. Easy to pick up and put down.
I was surprised and delighted to find out that, this year, I was not the only spinner present. And that other spinner was also spinning on an Akerworks spindle. I quizzed her about it and, it turns out, she had seen me spinning on mine the year before and been inspired to find the company online and order one of her own.
So, naturally we spent some time yacking about our favorite spinning tools. And I came away with a new appreciation of how fiber crafting draws people together. We love to talk about our art and our favorite tools, our preferred sources of wool and the most delectable fiber blends (I’m a big fan of Polwarth and silk).
I also came away from the experience thinking, “I really liked her large spindle. And the marigold whorl. Maybe I need another one…”
We spinners enable each other too.
I’m in a CLEAN ALL THE THINGS phase at home.
Sweep, vacuum, dust, cough.
I’m de-cluttering as fiercely and quickly as my husband will permit.
- Out go the old snow boots, too small by 1.5 sizes.
- Out go the rock-hard tubes of epoxy and shoe glue.
- Out go the college notes from classes I barely remember taking.
- Out go the VHS tapes, unwatched for nearly a decade.
- Out go the stash of small boxes I never remember to use for wrapping Christmas gifts.
I’ve successfully destashed a goodly portion of my yarn and knitting book collection too. It feels fabulous. But there’s plenty more yarn where that destash came from. In looking at what I decided to keep, I am struck by my own fickleness as a knitter.
A few months ago I was completely addicted to stranded colorwork. Complex, rich, and painterly. Nothing else would do. I acquired a huge assortment of small, single skeins of yarn in fingering and sport weights, confident I would plow through them in a matter of months.
Only now, a few months later, all I want to knit is lace. Ethereal and feminine; insubstantial as cotton candy; full of air and light. Colorwork feels too heavy for me and completely unappealing. The problem is that my current stash cannot support a lace affinity of any considerable length. If this continues, I may have to buy more yarn.
Buy more yarn? Gah! That’s what I’m trying to avoid.
But my muse-cum-troll growls for lace. LAAACE! What can I do but feed it?
Meanwhile, that colorwork stash isn’t going anywhere. I thought about jettisoning some of it, but it is a well-chosen collection. And knowing my muse-troll, it can’t survive long on cotton candy. Sooner or later, it’s going to want something heavy and rich. Sooner or later it’s going to howl for meat.
My stash will be ready.
I have a tendency to horde yarn. When I buy yarn, I invest it with possibilities: a story of what it will be someday. It’s hard to give up those stories.
So I tell myself a new story. The story of a woman discovered smothered in her guest room by her own stash. And all that yarn, once full of possibilities, is now full full of vomit and maggots. Useful to no one. Except, possibly, the maggots.
For the first time in my knitting life, I am doing a destash. I have carefully reviewed every hank and skein. Anything that doesn’t give me a spark of joy (followed by a blast of pattern ideas) I am going to jettison. This is yarn that, hopefully, will find purpose in someone else’s stash and someone else’s yarn stories.
Have a good life, my little woolies (and non-wooly brethren).
The Destash – Seriously good prices, folks, with shipping included (US only)
Take a gander. There are some nice yarns here looking for loving homes. Here is just the top of the destash page. Trust me, there’s more.
Four little yarn turtles
All in a row
Two big ones
A small one
And baby without a proper shell
Cat crashes the photo
Great furry body
Dwarfing the frightened turtles
It’s an irresistible compulsion
To follow the turtles
Wherever they go
It’s amazing how fiber choice and spinning technique can change the appearance of your finished yarn.
Both of these yarns were dyed by the same dyer (Into the Whirled) in the same colorway (The Woods).
Both were spun from carded roving. But what a difference these other characteristics make:
Yarn 1 Yarn 2
Fiber Merino/SW Merino/Silk Masham wool
Spinning style Worsted Semi-woolen (I think)
Plying Chain (3-ply) 2-ply
Weight Fingering/sport Aran/bulky
The shine of the silk really comes through in yarn 1. All of the colors seem extra-vibrant.
In yarn 2, all of the colors seem warmer and more muted.
Fascinating, don’t you think?
* Disclaimer: I only spun yarn 1. Yarn 2 came to my happy hands from a fellow spinner who was cleaning out her stash.