I Love a Good Yarn

Yarns, stories, and sometimes stories about yarn


4 Comments

Thursday threads

I was going to do separate WIP Wednesday and FO Friday posts, but instead I’m globbing them together in a single “Thursday threads.” It’s almost summer, and we all have things we’d rather be doing than writing/reading blog posts, right?

The Felicity top is finished, and the fit is really nice.

IMG_2044

This is even without blocking. Because of the large eyelets, I have to wear something underneath, but I knew that going into the project. And I loved the construction. The lower bodice is knit so that cast-on and bind-off edges are seamed to make a tube. Stitches are then picked up from the top of the tube and worked in the round, adding little four-row sleeve extensions. The decreases worked on the upper bodice form a really flattering neckline. I’m often confounded by bottom-up sweaters in trying to get the length right, and with top-down sweaters in trying to get the waistline fitted properly. This construction takes so much of the guesswork out, as you just have to use your gauge to determine how long the lower bodice needs to be and cast on the appropriate number of stitches, and then work up from there until the desired height of the neckline is achieved. And the addition of the eyelets makes a very pretty and feminine fabric. I will definitely use this approach to do some long-sleeve sweaters in heavier weight yarns for the fall/winter.

The WIP is another project from my The Perfect Blend yarn-of-the-month club, the My Cup of Tea Socks.

IMG_2078

The yarn is by Whole Knit ‘n’ Caboodle (access to the yarn selection is only available to wholesalers, unfortunately), which is based in Delmar, NY. The colorway is tea leaves, and it is the most nature-inspired green I think I’ve ever seen. It is almost the exact hue of my lawn after a gentle rain (I know this, because I’m looking out my window now after a brief rain shower!). Verdant is what I’d call it. And it’s very nice to work with, even on size one DP needles.

I love making socks, but I think I’ve I’ve only made six pairs in the 17 or so years I’ve been knitting, so it was high time to make more. And I’ve only made one pair for myself – the very first pair, which is a bit misshapen and amateurish, but I love them anyway. But I’m so excited to expand my sock collection this summer, as they make for the perfect warm weather project.

 


4 Comments

Flurry of finished objects – part three (the final)

This one deserved its very own post. The Swirl sweater is done! I finished it about a month ago after taking a break from it for about a month. So, three months of my life invested in this project, and I am thrilled with the results.

It started off as a huge oval …

file-feb-13-3-07-58-pm

… that eventually sprouted wings …

File Mar 14, 2 52 28 PM

… and required hours of finishing time to weave in all those blasted tails. But the end result is just gorgeous. The only issue is that the sleeves are much too long (something other Ravelers noted, but I hadn’t taken in until after the damage was done), but I will most likely sew a hem on them to keep them in place when tucked under.

IMG_1837IMG_1847 2IMG_1846 2

This sweater has such a unique structure, I really had no idea how it would turn out until the final seam was sewn and I tried it on. I was convinced it would morph into some misshapen blob, and I’d have sunk a substantial amount of money into something unwearable. But it surprised me in the end, and I’m actually considering making another one … though maybe not until winter 2018/2019.

And I found the perfect (not yet photographed) pin when shopping at Espace Tricot in Montreal to close the front and really show off those lapel tassels.

After the investment of time and money for the Swirl – I honestly was shocked at how much yarn was needed on a project of this size – I’m glad to be tackling much smaller projects this summer. My Felicity top is almost done after just over a week of knitting. That’s the kind of (as close to) instant gratification I need after turning out something of this magnitude.

IMG_2020


Leave a comment

A flurry of finished objects – part one

Over the last month, while I haven’t been writing blog posts at all, I’ve divided my time between finishing my WIPs and fretting over my 17-year-old cat, whose health is declining. She’s never been a very nice kitty, swatting and snarling at every other cat that’s ever shared our home. But she’s been mine for about 14 years, and she does have the loudest motorboat purr I’ve ever heard, so I’m still going to be very sad when she goes.

But, the month was super productive on the knitting front. The first two FOs I’d like to share use yarn and designs by Hudson Valley area dyers/designers. These yarns and patterns came to me as part of my yarn-of-the-month subscription, courtesy of The Perfect Blend yarn and tea shop in Saugerties, NY. Each installment has a single skein of hand-dyed yarn, a suggested pattern, and a little goodie, such as stitch markers, a project bag, wool wash, or some such treat. The colors used by the dyers are all inspired by some aspect of the Hudson Valley.

The first project was a ribble cowl using a soft and lush alpaca/silk blend.

IMG_1829

It was supplied by Nest Creative Keepsakes, based in Woodstock, NY. It was really nice to work with, and the colors were wonderfully bold. The inspiration for the colors is the Ashokan reservior (image from Wikipedia):

Ashokan_Reservoir_and_Burroughs_Range

Though the cowl was a Mother’s Day gift for my mom, I had to try it on to be sure it was indeed the right gift for such an awesome mom. It fit the bill.

IMG_1830

FO #2 from my yarn-of-the-month stash is the Main Street Shawl by Toby Roxane Designs. The yarn is Chandelier and the colorway is Main Street, which to me looks like copper when it oxidizes, but there’s still a bit of copper peeking through here and there.

IMG_1870

The color inspiration is Main Street in Saugerties, NY (image from the Hudson Valley Sojourner):

saugerties_main_street2

A great combination of old and new, downtown Saugerties offers independent bookstores, bakeries and eateries, antique stores, unique gift shops, one of the best grandma slices you’ll ever find, and of course, my LYS. And thanks to that LYS, I now have this gorgeous shawl.

IMG_1869

Check out the other patterns available in the Toby Roxane Designs Ravelry store. I’m sure I’ll be pulling some of those lacy shawl patterns to use with the yarns purchased in Montreal.

The next “Flurry of FOs” installment – two Andrea Mowry designs.


1 Comment

Traveling knitter: Some fun UK crafty destinations

Last week at this time I was struggling to stay awake after my flights from London to Philadelphia, and Philly back to Albany. Today, with jet lag a memory, four loads of clean laundry waiting to be folded on the spare bed, and our lilacs not yet ready to burst as these had already in London, I’m finally able to sit down with the laptop to write about some of the vacation highlights.

I hadn’t been to the UK since 2005, and being an almost lifelong Anglophile (my earliest memories are of Beatles tunes coming out of the Hi-Fi), this was practically inexcusable, especially because I hadn’t seen some very good friends who live in Wales and London for a number of years. So, thanks to my Capital One Venture Card points, I managed a pretty inexpensive trip to make good on last year’s promise to reconnect. I started with four nights in Caerphilly, Wales, with a friend I’ve known since my semester abroad in early 1990 at Regent’s College in London’s beautiful Regent’s Park. She even enlisted her mom to join us on our day out sightseeing in the countryside.

IMG_1779

Though this friend is not a knitter, she kindly acquiesced to accompanying me to the National Wool Museum of Wales. When you think of Welsh industry, mining, particularly coal, probably comes to mind first, but sheep farming in Wales dates back to prehistoric times, and Welsh wool is still in high demand today, despite the relatively small number of working wool mills. The museum, now a national heritage site, has free exhibits that include some of the machinery used in the woolen industry’s heyday. And it’s all still operational today.

Videos walk visitors through the wool processing steps, from willowing (on a machine nicknamed “the devil” because of its dangerous, sharp moving parts that had, on occasion, taken operators’ arms off), to carding, spinning and winding (the upper-left image is of the winders – I didn’t see this monster in action, but the videos of its workings were mighty impressive!), and then on to weaving. The Welsh woolen industry was best known for its fabrics and traditional woven blanket and tween patterns. As a knitter, I was fascinated by the processes the wool went through from fleece to fabric. It’s hard to imagine now, in this era of mass production, but also of a return to smaller batch production and focus on local farms, how craftspeople would have reacted to their unique handiwork being coopted by industrial age machinery.

After a whirlwind of activity in Wales that included a thrilling football match in Cardiff, with the hometown Cardiff City team triumphing over Brentford, a concert of ska cover bands at the Cardiff student union, a visit to the Caerphilly Castle, a stroll along the promenade at Cardiff Bay (with a stop to watch the boats moving in an out of the locks at the Barrage), and loads of fun times spent with my friend and her family, I steered my rental car onto the M4 and headed east toward London.

Though the London of my memories from that semester in 1990 and my subsequent stay on a student work permit in early 1992 is long gone, replaced in part by the inevitable gentrification and influx of chain restaurants and shops, I still have a very soft spot in my heart for the city. I stayed in a lovely Airbnb in Brixton – an area considered off limits because of its crime back in the early 90’s – and thoroughly enjoyed the laid-back vibe and quiet nights in my little flat. It was an ideal place to come back to evenings after walking endlessly through the busier parts of the city.

Luckily enough, one of my planned stops to have lunch with an old friend from graduate school landed me in Islington, the home of Loop.

IMG_1802

Loop is everything a local yarn store should be – inviting, friendly, well-stocked, with knowledgeable, helpful staff. The yarns were displayed in a way that made browsing fun, the knitted samples were eye-catching and tempted at every turn to indulge in all the materials needed to recreate those lovely pieces, and, even though clearly a Yank with limited opportunity to return to this cozy store, I was still given a loyalty card, stamped for my day’s purchases and ready to fill in further on my next visit. And shop I did (within reason … I did have to cram everything into a small suitcase for the return trip).

IMG_1817

Two of these gorgeous shades of angora/wool blend yarn are “bespoke colours” of hand-dyed in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, lusciousness (Magical Goose and Soot colorways). I may just make the cowl that was featured as a sample in the shop, or I’m toying with the idea of coming up with my own stranded color work cowl pattern.

My other purchase was a hat kit, expertly marketed in a bouquet of woolen locks:

IMG_1819

What self-respecting knitter could possibly pass this up?! I’m sure, once I have this piece completed, it will bring a smile to my face every time I wear it. Much like the smile I wore after that lunch with an old friend.

IMG_1803

My trip also included some breaks for working on the latest project, the Find Your Fade Shawl, soon to be known as the most colorful item in my wardrobe. Here it is with me on a bench in Queen Anne’s Garden in Regent’s Park (too early for the roses to be in bloom, but nevertheless, one of my favorite spots in London):

IMG_1809

and in its more advanced stage this week after returning home:

IMG_1816

I will put it aside soon to finish the Om Shawl and Swirl sweater, but for now, it’s sort of my link to a really enjoyable vacation and the time I was able to spend with some dear friends.


2 Comments

Travel knitting, and joining the Fade frenzy

With vacation coming up this week, it’s time to plan for airplane/layover and travel knitting. My original plan had been to bring along a couple of the skeins of the beautiful Hudson Valley-inspired hand-dyed yarn that I’ve been receiving as part of my yarn-of-the-month subscription from The Perfect Blend. But I became concerned about taking my new HiyaHiya interchangeables, as they are metal, and they are fairly sharp. I didn’t have the right sizes in my bamboo circular collection, so I decided to seek out a different project(s) for the trip.

Having just finished my first Andrea Mowry design, the Om Shawl, I think I’m now ready to jump on the Find Your Fade bandwagon and make that my fun vacation project. I had a ball sifting through my sock and fingering-weight yarn, laying the skeins out and deciding what would create the color scheme I wanted. Conveniently, I spent the day in Manhattan yesterday and managed a quick stop in at Knitty City for a couple new colorways. I’m pretty pleased with what I came up with and can’t wait to see what it will look like when it all comes together.

File Apr 02, 9 26 41 AM

I’ll be spending a few days in Wales with a wonderful friend, who has actually agreed to take me to the National Wool Museum, even though she is not a knitter. I’ll also have about four days in London, where I plan to swing by Loop, I Knit London, and possibly also the yarn section of Liberty of London. It will be a busy week+, but I can’t wait!


Leave a comment

Naknicromo day 31: End results/thoughts

File Mar 31, 9 27 52 PM

The knitting is finished on both the projects I wanted to have completed by today, but neither are done, done and done. The Om Shawl above needs to have ends woven in, blocking, and 19 buttons sewn on, so still a good amount of work before I can wear it. And I ran out of grey yarn at the very end, hence the blue edge on the final two rows and bind off. That’s the button hole edge, so I think the extra strip of color will actually look kinda cool.

The Swirl has been languishing for almost a week. Still much seaming to be done, and then the braided tassels for the left front lapel. I think it will look great when it’s done, and I will be keeping my eye out for a nice shawl pin, which it needs if I want to wear it closed. All in all, I’m pleased with what I accomplished this month, even if I didn’t bring either project to the finish line by today.

This setting of deadlines for my knitting is not something I want to make a habit of. I love knitting, I love how relaxing it is. I have deadlines at my job, I have chores that tug at me and can’t be ignored, and I have other obligations that demand my time. I don’t want to subject things I otherwise enjoy to deadlines, and I don’t want to turn them into chores, so I doubt I would ever do another one of these challenges again. I may actually be more productive when I’m not racing against the clock.

And the same goes for blogging. I don’t want it to ever feel like a assignment or another task I have to check off my list. The knowledge that I had to post every day sort of robbed it of its fun. I like challenging myself, but I’d rather the challenge here be quality instead of just quantity.

Happy weekend to everyone!


Leave a comment

Naknicromo day 30: Crafts you’d like to learn

Both of the other crafts I’m interested in would require significant investment of time and money, which would therefore take time and money away from my investment in knitting. I will some day soon try my hand at spinning. I have roving, and I have a drop spindle, and it does look very relaxing and meditative when people do it – people who know what they’re doing. And sewing clothing is the other craft – I could go hog wild in material stores, stocking up on all sorts of great fabrics, with lovely fiber content and motifs, to make patterns for all sorts of wonderful garments.

But, when it comes to spinning, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to create a yarn that matches what I can find in my favorite LYS. I don’t really have the facilities to dye fiber or yarn either, so I’d be reliant on buying roving in the color I wanted to work with. And for sewing my own clothing – to be honest, it’s expensive. Just like with knitting, you’re not saving money by making your own clothes. If you’re truly skilled/talented, you can make garments that fit you perfectly. While you’re learning and honing your skill, though, you can expect that some of your efforts will result in ill-fitting clothes you won’t even want to keep. And god forbid you gain/lose weight to the point that something you’ve made no longer fits. That’s not such an issue with knitting, as even more fitted knit pieces tend to have some give, and positive ease is natural with many other garments, as you want to be able to layer, so it’s a more forgiving garment type – much more forgiving than, say, an a-line skirt or a sundress.

So, for now, I’m happy to focus on knitting. Maybe someday I’ll have enough sweaters, shawls, hats, and scarves. Maybe when I retire, I’ll move to the desert, where I won’t need as many knitted garments as I do in upstate New York. But I hope not.