Sunday, August 17, 2014

Yarn Culture, online yarn store

I want to tell you about a new (to me) online yarn store: Yarn Culture in Fairmont, NY. I am so impressed by them! I originally ordered 4 skeins of Artesano British Wool from them,on August 11, in Teal. I got the yarn Thursday (quick!), but I was busy around that time, and I didn't do more than open the bag and look inside. And then I was busy working on my own design (see below), so I didn't really take it out to play with it until yesterday. And I was surprised to find not Teal, but Turquoise, yarn. So, I went online to their site and told them about it.

This morning, I got an email from Mitch at Yarn Culture, apologizing for the mistake, assuring me that 4 skeins of Teal were available and were being sent at no cost to me. Not only that, they didn't want the Turquoise back. Not only that (2), he noticed I had just placed another order with them, and since that yarn was soon going on sale (50% off), he was going to refund 50% of my order. And not only that (3), he gave me a discount code to take 15% off my next order.

Wow. What a terrific response to my problem. I don't think I've ever been so well treated by a company (of any kind). Not even Webs, which has terrific customer service, too.  Just Wow.

One other thing I really liked about this company: they sent little, knittable samples of two other of their yarns with the original order. I have already fallen in love with one of them, even before knitting the sample, called Hedgehog Fibers Silk Merino Singles. It is just so incredibly soft, and it's a worsted weight yarn with 262 yards of 50% silk, 50% merino in each skein. The colors it comes in are named things like Wish (my sample) Unforgiven, Malice (I like this one too), Hush, and so on. It's $32 a skein, so I won't be buying it this month, but maybe in September, or October. I just know I have to have something made out of this yarn in my closet. It's too yummy to let go. The other sample is of Rosy Green Wool, a 100% organic merino called Cheeky Merino Joy. They sent me the color Rose Garden, a nice, gentle red. It's a fingering weight, 23 - 26 to 4", on 2.5, 3, or 4 US size needles, and each skein is 350 yards. ($24 a skein). I'll be knitting that one up later today, and I bet it will look beautiful, but I truly don't have much use for fingering yarns, although I am looking at a couple of lacy shawls or shawlettes, really, that would use this weight, so who knows? Just click on that link at the top of this post, and check out this site for yourself. Be prepared to fall in love with some really luscious yarns!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Almost done with the body of this sweater

So, it finally cooled down a little around here, after almost a full week of high 90s every day. And our days don't cool off much even after the sun has gone down, so that meant it was still @ 90 at 10, 11, or even 12 at night.

Anyway, I've just got another 5 inches, or 1,440 stitches, to go on the back of this sweater, and I'll be ready for the sleeves. I'll do those both at the same time, since I find it hard to motivate myself to do the second sleeve if I've already completed the first. And it's easier to make sure they match each other if you do them at the same time.

While I was waiting for it to cool off enough to pick up my knitting, I got another knitting book. It's Knit in New Directions by Myra Wood. She uses templates, full sized, to structure the knits, and leaves it up to you to fill the spaces of those templates with any sort of knitted material you want. It's an intriguing way of looking at knitting, much like using a sewing pattern and making up fabrics to fit the pattern parts. Once I finish this current sweater, I'm going to play around with the ideas from this book and see how it goes.

I also got a bunch of new yarn this week. From Webs, I got 5 skeins of CEY Giselle, in a greyish blue, 2 skeins of Plymouth's Juli in a dark green, and 9 skeins of CEY Mesa in a purplish beige mix. From Eat, Sleep, Knit, I picked up 2 skeins of Targhee Worsted in Tanzanite, which is a beautiful tonal deep purple. I also got one skein of Alchemy's Haiku, in Sugar Mountain. (I'm still looking for Silk Purse in the same colorway, but so far, unless I'm willing to pay $40 a skein (and I need 2), I haven't found it.

From EBay, I got 5 beautiful skeins of Noro's Lily, a cotton/silk yarn (70/30) in a multi (of course) with purple, blue, teal off-white, and tan (and maybe more!) in it. I also picked up 5 skeins of CEY's Provence in purple.  (I'm beginning to see a purple pattern in this!)

That's all for now. I should be starting the sleeves on my sweater some time tomorrow (or later today, I guess), and I truly hope to be done with the knitting part (just sleeves and neck to complete) by the end of this week. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

May you find joy and contentment in your knitting, whether it's in what you produce, or in how you knit.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Some progress

Well, it's been super hot this week. Up in the mid-90s even at 10 pm. (It's impossible for me to sleep when it's that hot)

But, I have made some progress. I've done about 11 1/2 inches of the back - done in stockinette. I hate stockinette. It's so bloody boring. It's not that I don't like purling. I do. I think it's fun, and it's actually easier for me than knitting. Now that I'm nearly to the armhole bind offs, I'm kind of wishing I'd put a single repeat of the stitch pattern up the middle of this sweater. Anything to relieve the boredom. I know the sleeves won't be much better, but at least they'll have the one repeat of the pattern all the way around at the beginning. Just, after that, it's all stockinette to the end. And it's all my fault. I just had to cast on to make this sweater I had in my mind, with the stitch pattern I fell in love with. I mean, it's not even close to being wearable around here, not for months. It doesn't actually get cold until usually late December or early January. It starts cooling off by October, but high 60s and low 70s are definitely not cool enough for this sweater. Oh, well. It's the process, right?

I just got another book, Botanical Knits 2, by Alana Dakos. Some of the patterns in this book coordinate with the patterns in the first Botanical Knits, which is kind of cool. And I really like a couple of the sweaters she shows, too. It's 4 sweaters an 8 accessories, like the first one. And some of the accessories are really cute or good looking (since cute doesn't really say the right thing about these knits.)

So, I'm off to continue working on the back of my sweater. It's down to only 73 degrees (It's 12:37 pm), so it's the coolest part of the day.

Hope all is well with all of you, and you're finding contentment in the process and/or the product that you're working on.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Progress, or Lack Thereof

So, I had planned to finish my new design sweater by the end of this week. So much for plans. Just before I started to bind off at the shoulders, I noticed two things. The major thing, of course, was that I apparently forgot I was doing the front, not the back. (Every pattern seems to start with the back, for some reason.) So I hadn't bound off for the neck at the right place. Then, as I took a closer look, I discovered that I had made a mistake when I bound off for the armholes. I forgot I had two selvedge sts on each side, and didn't count them in the new pattern lines. So about 8 rows in, it created a jog in the pattern that wasn't supposed to be there.

So, gritting my teeth, I ripped back to the armhole bind-offs. Turns out it's a good thing, since I thought I had bound off on one row, but I had in fact bound off on a different row.  Basically, it was a mess, and is now much better for having been ripped back and reknit. Or almost reknit. I've just completed the bind off for the neck. I still have about 4 inches to go before the front is finished. I won't be finsihing the sweater this week, unfortunately. Next week, for sure. Well, almost for sure. (It's been getting a little hotter every day around here, which makes knitting a wool sweater a bit too, umm, sweaty for me.)

Be well, stay cool, and may you find contentment in both the process and the product of your knitting.

Monday, July 21, 2014

So, I ended up working on another "my design" sweater

When Falling Leaves didn't work out, I was really disappointed. I didn't want to have to plot out a solution to the problems, I just wanted to knit.

I looked around at a lot of patterns, and eyed my stash. And, of course, decided I'd just make a sweater out of a stitch pattern I'd fallen in love with. I'm using Valley Yarn's Amherst, in what they call Soft Grape, but I call medium brown. The stitch pattern I'm using is from Up, Down, All-Around and is called "Moss Diamonds and Lozenges", p.42. It's a 44 row pattern, and each complete pattern is about 8 inches tall.

I started knitting on 7/16, and bound off for the armholes of the front on 7/18. And then had to back up a couple of times, because the bind off messed up the pattern. I finally had to write out the pattern, line by line and stitch by stitch, to see where I should start, given the different starting points caused by the armhole decreases. Not fun, but it's working out okay now. I'm about 2 rows from binding off for the shoulders. (7/20). So far, I've used a little less than 2 1/2 skeins, and I have 10.  I'm planning on doing a plain stockinette back, and sleeves, although I may use part of the pattern on those, maybe just around the cuff area. Haven't decided yet. I really like the pattern stitch, but I probably would have been better off doing a drop shoulder style. I'm small, though, so that can look overwhelming on me. I really prefer set in sleeves.

I hope to be done with this by the end of next week, July 27. Still need to work out the sleeve cap, and whether or not to use a part of the pattern stitch on the cuff area, so I may not make it, but I'm going to try.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Roadblock

I ran into a roadblock when I started knitting the Falling Leaves Shell by Rosemary Drysdale for Tahki Yarns. The pattern is totally screwed up. First, it calls for a gauge of 20 sts to 4" in Rev StSt on 6s. I get that. But then it calls for only 74 sts to be cast on for the front piece, but 86 sts for the back. So, I work through the first 7 rows of the 24 row pattern (Candleflame), and find the front piece is only just over 12" wide. Even if I was getting the same 20s=4" as she calls for for the back, it would only be 14" wide for the small, but the back would be @17". So, either the whole thing would be 31" or, more likely 29" around, for a supposed 32" bust. The picture doesn't show any negative ease, nor does the pattern make any mention of ease. Oh, and I should probably mention that I virtually always get gauge when I knit. I always have, for some strange reason. I guess I don't knit tightly or too loosely, or something.

I went to Ravelry to check the pattern, and found dozens of complaints about it, but not about this. About the difficulty of the neck decreases. Tahki put out a new chart to show the decreases needed , but apparently, many people found that the pattern wasn't centered, and the neck decreases made it look weird. I commented on the pattern page, but no one has responded yet, and probably won't, since it doesn't list Drysdale in the pattern.

And then there's the problem with this being a cropped top, not mentioned anywhere, and the fact that the yo's create a fairly large hole in the fabric which means this would have to be worn over something else, or be indecent. Not really what I think of when I think of a basic little shell. Oh, and everyone was complaining about how boxy it was, since there's no shaping in it whatsoever, not even binding off for the armholes, which looks sloppy on, especially since the pattern produces a wavy line, . And someone noted that the picture obscures this fact because the model's hair covers her shoulders and you can't see clearly that the armhole is waving, or falling in an unflattering position on the arm.

So, that pattern is in timeout. I will probably find a way to work around the weirdnesses, but not right now. I just want to knit, not do pattern surgery. And I wanted to use my Simplicity(by HiKoo), which I am in love with. I don't really use a lot of DK yarns, but this one is so round and bouncy and fun. I watched all the Fiber Factor shows, which introduced this yarn and a couple of other ones, and so many of the participants raved about it. When I found in on Ebay, I decided to see what all the raves meant. And I did. Now I have to go through all the patterns I have to see what other patterns I have that I can use it for. I only have 6 skeins, or just over 700 yards, so I have to look for something short, sleeveless or short sleeved, or.... Well, just something else. I am really disappointed, though. I loved the look of this Falling Leaves Shell, and I loved the way the yarn looked when working it. I guess I may have to just  design my own shell/tank top. Find a lace or other pattern I like from Up, Down, All-Around, and work out the math for the whole thing. But, then, I just wanted to sit and knit, not sit and plot out a pattern.

I have also been exploring yarns made by Lion Brand, Red Heart, and Loops and Threads. All tend to use a lot of acrylic, but some are just cotton, or wool & acrylic. I do tend to prefer natural yarns, but I don't really have a problem with acrylic. I think if I lived somewhere it got really cold, I wouldn't use acrylic, but here in SoCal it never really gets cold enough to need the warmth of wool. I still knit with it, and with alpaca, too, because I love the look and feel of wool. But there have been great strides in acrylics used in yarns, so I've been checking them out, 2 skeins at a time.

I first picked up a Loops and Threads DK yarn, Elegance. I really like it. It feels silky, and I like the tonal colorways it comes in. It's put up in 50g skeins, with 160 yards. And it's only $3.99! After I tried it out, working on circular 6s, I liked it so much I went back and got another 5 of the Smoky Plum I already had, and 2 more of a different pinkish one, Pink Lily. Definitely a cowl for the Pink Lily, but some kind of sweater for the Smoky Plum. When I was trying out the first Smoky Plum, I cast on to a 16" circular size 6, and I must have zoned out while casting on, because when I looked, I'd already cast on 125 sts. Like a 100 more than I generally cast on to swatch with. And then, even though circulars are fairly new to me (my former Scottish neighbor's mother taught me how to knit way, way back, and she put one long needle under her arm, and did everything else with the needle in her right hand. Now, so do I), I couldn't put it down. I knit about 10 inches of the stuff before I decided I should just measure the gauge and then decide what I would make with it. I know, I could have made a cowl out of it at that point, but I'd just done a amalgam of different stitches ~ garter, St. st, ribbing, a cable or two, and it wasn't really cowl-worthy. So, I bound it off, then measured each section for gauge, wrote it all down in my Planning book, and then frogged the whole thing.  Now I have 1120 yards of plummy goodness to use in something.

I also picked up a couple of skeins of LB's Amazing, but I haven't worked with it yet. I have to say, it feels a bit scratchy in the skein, but I'll knit a swatch with it and see how it feels then. I also picked up 2 other 2-skeins of Red Heart yarn, in their "Boutique" line, Treasure and Unforgettable. Haven't  knit with any of them, but I will have enough for cowls out of all of them. If the Amazing doesn't soften enough when knit, I can make a cover for my Kindle out of it, or a small notebook cover. Maybe both. And since I am not going to be busy knitting up the little shell I so liked, I guess I'll have time to do all the swatching on these that I could want. Oh, well. (During the day it's so bloody hot, it's hard to get excited about anything (91 degrees at 7:30 pm. Ugh!) and narrowly focusing on rewriting a pattern, or writing one up, is just hard to do in this heat.

So, that's all for now. May your knitting always be perfect, both in product and process.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Ribbed Tank finished at last!

I finished seaming the tank top this morning, got all the ends woven in, tried it on, and I like it! It hits right at the best place on my hips, it's stretchy, but it doesn't hug too tight. The only thing is I find that Microspun, for being a DK weight, gets heavy for some reason.  I wasn't expecting that, but I can live with it. And I like the pattern enough to make it again, using the Kroy Socks FX that I got for it in the first place. And maybe in some other yarns and colors. Versatile top.

In other news, I picked up a couple of new books and forgot to mention them in my last post. I really like both of them.

First up, Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard, of Knit and Tonic blog, and the author of the Custom Knits series of books. In this new book, Wendy has taken over 150 stitch patterns, and written and charted them for knitting top down, bottom up, in the round, and on straight needles. Not every pattern gets all 4, but then many don't need it. I love the way she has thoughtfully put together groups of stitch patterns, and I love, love the fact that I don't have to deal with rewriting lace patterns to knit flat or in the round. For just that, alone, BUY THIS BOOK! (I am not getting paid or anything else for this review).


In addition to all those patterns, Wendy has also included a pattern for using one of the stitch patterns ~ a cowl, a hat, a vest, etc. Included, too, are notes on swatching ( I love her suggestion list for why you really need to swatch), and a short how-to on swapping out stitch patterns to customize your knitting. Overall, this is a terrific addition to my collection of stitch dictionaries.

The other new book is another Viking knits book by Elsebeth Lavold, Viking Knits & Ancient Ornaments. Lavold is recognized as an expert on cables, from her extensive work in Viking, as well as other early civilizations, decorative pieces. In her latest book, Lavold goes around the world to find "interlacements" or new cable details. This book has some exquisite new patterns using the new cables, but more than that, it's just a great read as Lavold recounts her travels and discoveries as she sought to find commonalities and differences in cultures around the world. I recommend this book not only for its beautiful patterns, but for a fascinating look at decorative arts throughout history and the world.


Both of these books are available on Amazon.

So, that's about all. While I think about what to knit next, I'm having fun reading Lavold's book, and browsing through Wendy's stitches.  Hope your July is going well!