Wednesday, July 29, 2015

jasmine

Awhile back, I made a gorgeous M.1 scarf in Maai, right when it came out. We used it as a shop sample for a little while before it went to its intended owner, our next-door neighbor back in Iowa. I have to say that I really missed that scarf! It was so soft and I couldn't wait to make one of my own, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to knit the same pattern twice, even though I loved the results. 


When The Purl Bee showed their Jasmine Scarf pattern I knew that it would be just as lovely in Maai, and maybe even softer than the M.1 scarf due to the fishbone-style cables and textures. I have to say, after 1.5 skeins in, that I was 100% right -- I love this scarf. The colorway is Pollen, a very pretty yellow with green undertones (the photo came out a bit more orange, which is probably closer to Shibui's new color, Brownstone, coming out this fall.)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

a TdF combo experiment

I've been all about the combo yarns lately. A combo, for those of you newer to spinning or who don't spin, is when you take two very different fibers, sometimes from completely different dyers or in different wool types, and spin each up as a single, then ply them together. This can result in some amazing color and texture effects that I love experimenting with!

Usually for combos I choose fibers that have a similar color tie-in that I want to highlight, and I choose wools to use that are similar in texture (for instance, Merino with South African Fine, or Polworth and Targhee.) For the Tour de Fleece recently, I thought about a combo featuring two very different textures - super-soft South African Super Fine, and Fine Romney.

Romney typically has a staple length of around 7 - 9", while the finer fibers can be as short as 2 - 3"! That's a big difference. My thought was that the colors of the two would look good together (both fibers had beautiful dark purples), and maybe the Romney would add shine and the SASF would add some softness. When experimenting with something this different and unusual, I always like to do a little test skein, so that's what I tackled with this project -- I spun up a skein big enough to knit a few swatches from, but barely enough to decrease the quantity of either fiber, just in case I didn't like the results.



As you can see from this photo, the finished yarn looks a bit hairy. This is because of the Fine Romney being a bit course, and having fuzzy hairs that stick out from the single. These fibers are what increases the 'prickle factor' and makes yarns scratchy. The ply that is the SASF looks smooth and matte, while the Romney is shiny and richer in color. In the skein, this yarn didn't feel very exceptional.



I wound it into a little ball (tiny Totoro for scale) to knit some swatches from. While winding, I felt that the texture of the yarn compared a bit to something like Brooklyn Tweed Loft or any Shetland tweed yarn that has a rougher hand. The ball itself felt springy and light.


The swatches themselves turned out... okay. The all garter stitch swatch reminds me of other rustic yarns, while the stockinette is beautiful and smooth, with jewel-tone aspects and a glowing appearance (mostly due to the Romney.) Unfortunately, I didn't feel that the end result was anything exceptional, and it certainly didn't show off the qualities of either fiber. Romney can be so beautiful and bright, but these characteristics were dulled by pairing them with the South African Super Fine. SASF is one of the softest fibers in the world, but you couldn't feel this next to the coarseness of the Romney. In the end, while it was an interesting experiment, I decided to spin these on their own.

Monday, July 6, 2015

playing with color



I have to say that one of my favorite things about my job is playing with color. When I go to a hardware store, I always have to look at the paint chips. I love seeing all of the colors arranged nicely, and reading the innovative names. The same thing goes for nail polish - one of my favorite polishes is Essie because the names are so clever and the colors are so great.

Now, I get to work with color almost every day for my job. Whether I'm picking colors from a larger color card (like the awesome one featured above) or choosing from a smaller selection to coordinate designers for a box, or simply picking the colors for a project of my own, it's one of my favorite tasks. Sometimes picking out what 2500 people are going to like can be a little mind-bending (that's what coffee is for), but generally it's a good time.

I feel very blessed by the universe today.

Friday, July 3, 2015

swatching


Swatching is growing on me, I have to admit. I love playing around with stitch patterns and swatching delicious yarns like this Pepperberry Cashmere DK. Heidi's colors make the think about all of those great 'sweater stacks' they show in J.Crew catalogs, and it makes me want to call her up and order a sweater lot of some luscious color like cherry red or bright orchid just so that I can knit the simplest, most standard pullover ever.

(These aren't for a sweater, but a scarf/cowl thing I'm designing in cream. The weight was just similar enough to do some swatches and fiddle with stitch counts and orientation.)


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Join me for the Yarnbox Sweater KAL/CAL Event!

Moving from Iowa to Tennessee is a big change -- not just because of the location, but also because of the weather. The big, heavy sweaters that kept me warm in -30 F probably won't be a lot of use to me here where the temperatures barely get lower than 30 F most winter long. The only solution is obviously to cast on for a few light-weight sweaters!



Luckily, we've sent out some beautiful garment-worthy yarns through Yarnbox in the past few months, and I felt like it was the perfect time to start a Lightweight Sweater KAL/CAL for the members in the Ravelry group. I'm going to be copying another Ravelry member's project, which is a combo of Joji Locatelli's Boxy sweater (which I have already made once) and the Cancun Boxy Lace top. I fell in love with this version from Pooki and now just have to have one of my own in gorgeous Shibui Knits Linen. I chose the Sidewalk colorway and can't wait to get started.

This KAL/CAL lasts until October, so there's plenty of time to get going on your project and work on it along with a few other things simultaneously. You can post to the group on Ravelry or tag projects on other social media platforms with #YBSummerSweaterKAL -- I'll be posting my progress to Instagram too!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015

I haven't written on here in a long while! In between my last post and today, I've relocated to Murfreesboro, Tennessee (just outside of Nashville.) It's wonderful to be back in the sunny South and I've been taking full advantage of our apartment complex's beautiful pool in between work hours and working on my new studio area. I have to admit, I miss the studio at my parent's house quite a lot, but it's nice to be with Andrew again.

So, what have I been looking forward to and working on this year? So much! Coming up on the 4th is the Tour de Fleece. If you aren't familiar with this event, it's an annual spinning challenge that takes place at the same time as the Tour de France, the famous world cycling competition. We spin while they spin, rest when they rest, and challenge ourselves on their challenge days. This year, I have some pretty attainable plans (no sweater lots this round!)

For Team MegaSAL (a group themed around the Discworld book series by Terry Pratchett), I'll be spinning these lovely fibers:

Nobby and Vetinari by Southern Cross Fibres, Magrat from Nest, and Ankh-Morpork from Fat Cat Knits

I'm planning some sock yarns for most of them, but the one with beige, green and khaki tones just screams my dad, so I'll be making him something with yarn from those. My challenge is the Ankh-Morpork, which I want to spin to match some Anzula Nebula (a sparkling sock yarn) and make the Purl Bee Pixel Stitch Socks.

The other team I'm working with is Team Hello Yarn, and here's what I'm planning on spinning for that team:

Tinkle & a Glint, Beastie, Winter Stole Color and Pink Treacle, all from Hello Yarn
I think this will be the easiest lot for me to spin, with only the red-based one, Tinkle and a Glint, becoming sock yarn. The others are all destined to be sport or worsted weights.

Are you spinning in the TdF? What team(s) are you participating in and what are you going to be spinning?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

starcroft


Last weekend, I went to the Vogue Knitting Live show in New York. Yarnbox was exhibiting there, and it seemed like a good opportunity to get to the city for some great food, a fun time, and a little work. Kirsten Kapur of Through The Loops was generous enough to share some extra information with me - there would be a pop-up shop in the East Village for Starcroft Fiber the same weekend, so I should stop by on Saturday if I got the chance. 


After some pleading with Michael (my boss and partner for Yarnbox), I escaped the show floor from 3 - 5:30 pm on Saturday and took a cab to Lv8 (elevate), a location that specializes in pop-up shops for small fine art and fiber artists. Starcroft Fiber Mill was a solo show featuring yarns that are spun, dyed, and produced by a family out of Downeast, Maine. The yarn is made using wool from a century-old flock of Coopworth-Romney sheep, and kettle dyed in small batches. Of course, I couldn't resist picking up some for myself, in their Nash Island Fog yarn, the heavier of the two bases. 


I originally intended to get white, since I was unable to settle on a specific colorway, but Kirsten talked me into a sort of dusty, soft gray. My intention is to design a pullover using motifs from two sweaters we've inherited from my Grandmother, who knit them a long time ago. The sweaters in question have long since gotten quite crunchy, having been stored by my uncle in a plastic bag in his Florida attic for about 20 years, so they aren't really wearable (despite our attempts to give them a good bath with Soak.) I plan on mapping out the cable patterns she used and working them together into a piece worthy of her memory.

The yarn itself has a wonderful hand, and having seen several knitted samples of it at the show, I feel confident it will be the perfect choice for a cabled sweater. I think it's important to highlight some of these smaller hand-dyers who are still using methods of production that have history behind them. To read more about Starcroft's mission and their beautiful yarns, check out their website here