Tag Archives: knitting

Silverspun yarn

I got a skein of SilverSpun yarn from the Feel Good Yarn Company a couple of weeks ago. I love the concept behind this company – yarn sustainably made and spun here in the US. Sounds like my kind of thing, right? Well there’s a twist* This is a cotton yarn, no wool at all.

feel good baby sweater

And you know me, I love my wool. So I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try this yarn. But they said the yarn is like wool. Bouncy, but not too stretchy, cushy, and with the silver it’s supposed to be a bit antimicrobial too. So I figured I’d give it a test drive.

The people behind SilverSpun actually recommend this for socks. But since I don’t knit a lot of socks these days I decided to knit up a Wee Cria. This brilliant little sweater is designed by Ysolda, and she highly recommends a yarn with the bounce of a wool. Seems like a good test, right?

feel good baby yoke

So what do I think? So far I’m very impressed! In the skein this yarn feels like Green Mountain Spinnary’s Cotton comfort – an 80% wool 20% cotton blend. I hand-wound it into a ball. In the ball it does feel a bit dense, more like a cotton yarn. But once knit up it’s back to cushy and soft.

The yarn handles the modular construction of this wee sweater very well. The garter stitch doesn’t seem to stretch out of shape, and the button holes don’t seem to gape or grow. The yarn is a bit splitty as you knit with it, but not to the point where it slows down my knitting. I just have to pay attention when doing something like picking up stitches along the edge.

feel good baby WIP

I tried to unwind the yarn to see how many plies it contained, and it doesn’t unwind like a stranded yarn. This made me think maybe it was chain plied? But as I picked at it more that didn’t make sense either. I have to admit I don’t actually know exactly what the construction here is. I think it may be either chain plied or two strands twisted – but in either case they’re bound together with a silver thread.

feel good yarn

One thing this yarn isn’t? It’s not that weirdly bouncy cotton yarn that is so stretchy you can’t see the stitches once you’ve knit with it (no offense Cascade Fixation, but I have two skeins of that upstairs that I don’t know how to knit with…)

I would definitely recommend this yarn if you’re looking for the bounce of wool, but don’t want to use wool. Whether for allergies, or for ease of care, or if you’re just knitting something for the summer and want a light, non-wool option. SilverSpun is a great choice. I haven’t quite finished this little sweater yet (it’s a gift for a friend) but I’ll let you know how it turns out.

*haha, a yarn with twist, get it?

(Please note that I did receive this skein free for review purposes. However my opinions are my own, I won’t review something I don’t truly enjoy and think that you will like.)

On the needles

I’ve started sneaking knitting back into the little corners of my life again. It’s a sign that I’m not quite as exhausted as I was when Windsor was tiny. And it means I’m back to my old habits of having multiple WIPs each for a different situation.

The travel sock.

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Its native habitat is the cup holder of my car. I work on this any time Neil drives or if I’m just sitting and waiting for Windsor to wake up from a car nap. It’s also available any time I go out, and find myself waiting unexpectedly without a project at hand. This particular sock is even more travel sized than usual because it’s a tiny toddler sock. Not sure if I’m following the Breamish heel again or trying a short row heel this time.

Next the meeting sweater.

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Its native habitat is my desk drawer at work. The stripes were perfect for knitting during monthly meetings. The cable trim is going ok. Or it was until I started the trim on the body without remembering I needed to knit the hood first. Order of operations is a classic mistake for meeting knitting. The pattern is Camden and I’m very glad I chose to start the 24 month size when I started back in December.

Finally the bedtime blanket.

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Its native habitat is lurking under the corner table by the couch. This mitered sock yarn blanket is perfect for finishing a mindless square or two after all my evening tasks are complete and before my own bedtime. Long (long, loooong) term readers of this blog might recognized this project. It has been in and out of hibernation more times than I can count. Cast on in 2009, this blanket turned SIX this month. My WIP is a kindergartner and it’s no where close to being done yet. At this rate it’ll make a nice retirement present for Neil (note: he graduates from grad school in May.)

Those are my three main projects, at least for now.
What is your project for the “in between” moments right now?
And do you have a WIP even older than my sock yarn blanket??

Defarge Does Shakespeare

Fun times all around, there’s a new book in the Madame Defarge series! Check out Defarge Does Shakespeare! It’s on the Defarge site, on Cooperative Press, on Ravelry – pick your favorite.

Heather Ordover is back with this third collection from new and returning fabulous designers. And this isn’t the end either, I know there are more Defarge books in the works. If you like this sort of thing you should sign up for her e-mail newsletter. You should also sign up because later today three readers will be winning copies of Defarge books (and some other cool prizes)

Let’s take a peak, shall we? Maybe it’s how knitters interpret Shakespeare (or maybe it’s just that April is around the corner) but I’m finding this collection to be delightfully spring-like. I mean, start with the Fairy Queen Tea Cozy:

Ok, that’s clearly spring. And good for early spring too, because on cold rainy days I do like to curl up with a hot mug of tea and a book (or a mug of lukewarm tea an a toddler – but a mom can dream)

But the Lady M sweater is also a perfect transitional season garment. There’s lovely lace in the yoke and you don’t have to think about the drops of blood in the pattern description unless that makes you feel sly and sneaky and literary all at once:

How about the Midsummer’s Eve Wrap? I SO WISH I had time to knit a giant panel of lace. Something squishy to curl up with on the couch after bedtime… Maybe I should cast on now, it’ll only take a couple of years at the rate I’m knitting right now.

And to wrap things up the Taming of the Shrug! Not only does it have a very entertaining name, but it really is gorgeous.

I am not a shrug person because if I try to wear them my back feels cold and drafty. But I can totally see myself wearing this gorgeous piece of lace. I’d probably end up keeping it at the office to wrap up in when the AC gets too cold in the summer.

What is your favorite Defarge pattern?

I feel like I need to say, I did not get anything free for this review. However I am a Defarge designer. You might remember my Iseult Dress pattern is in the second volume, What else Would Madame Defarge Knit? So I am affiliated, and proud to be a Cooperative Press cooperating author!

A little FO

Here’s the first of two recent finished baby items. I’ve got 4 more friends and family due in the next couple of months which means more tiny newborn knitting!

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This is from the Tiny Trees baby vest. I guesstimated gauge instead of swatching so this is more of a 3-6 month vest. But for an April baby I hope that means it’ll fit come autumn.

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I knit it out of Patons classic wool DK – it’s a great workhorse yarn that I’ve never tried before. I tend to avoid superwash wools for myself, so it is fun to explore this whole new category of yarn as I knit things for future moms. The whole project only took about two days. I never get to knit that much in two days, but I made this while on retreat back in February. I might be a little behind with the photos…

Karbonz

I have a problem with my needle collection – it’s getting old. Old might not be a problem for metal needles, but I have a lot of wood needles in my stash and they start to splinter and split after years of use. So I was really excited when the awesome folks at Knitter’s Pride offered me a test set of Karbonz.

karbonz

Nothing like a set of interchangables to revitalize an aging collection of tools. Now, I like quality knitting tools (I own more than one set of signatures) and I’m not a huge fan of aluminum needles (true fact: they bend as I use them. Maybe I should learn to relax?) These Karbonz needles feel like quality right when you take them out of the case.

karbonz set

That’s probably because they’re made of carbon fiber, the same stuff they make high tech vehicles from! This makes them very strong, and the metal tips mean the fibers won’t split with use (like my wood ones did) The carbon fiber isn’t quite as smooth as metal, but it’s much smoother than wood. So these needles are in the middle for grippiness. How do they perform?

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Really well, actually. I’ve knit two baby sweaters using these shiny new needles (note to self, take FO photos) and they’re comfortable in my grip, the yarn slides perfectly, and the stitches are even. I can feel the point where the metal meets the fiber with my finger, but I never had a stitch snag or a slow down as they slid over the joins. The point where the cable meets the needle is strong too. I don’t usually do magic loop because I’ve ruined more than one circular by cracking that join. But in the interest of SCIENCE! I knit both these little sweaters in the round bending and twisting the cable:

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And it held up to my abuse beautifully. Really, the only point that showed any wear at all is the printed size number on the side of the needle. While that is obviously just about gone after just two projects each needle is also imprinted with the size on the metal end.

karbonz worn numbers

So even when the white lettering is gone I’ll still be able to tell what size needle I’m looking at. I do own stitch gauges, but they’re always going on walk-about. So it’s nice not to have to hunt one down…

Overall, I love these new needles. I’m a DPN girl when working little baby sleeves or socks. But for hats, sweaters, skirts, etc… I love working in the round. And these needles will make so many projects easier and faster. I’m excited to finish up the collar on this little red sweater and find something to cast on next!

(Please note that I did receive these needles free for review purposes. However my opinions are my own, I won’t review something I don’t truly enjoy and think that you will like.)

Back to life

I’m coming down hard after a wonderful weekend high. We had a little designers’ retreat here in Vermont so I got to see (and meet) online friends in person, spend the whole weekend knitting and chatting. Oh, and I slept all night without a baby waking me up. I didn’t break out the camera often, so I’m going to borrow from a few friends (oh, and I’m on Instagram now – I’ve been in denial for a bit. But if you’re over there I’ve got my usual user name: BeckyinVT)

The lodge is gorgeous in the winter. We had snowshoeing, sunshine, and a beautiful fire place to curl up in front of with our knitting. The food at the lodge was absolutely amazing, they even make their own granola:

breakfast

And the evening’s entertainment was hilarious, if not entirely appropriate for polite company. At least we were all able to relax!

evening

Moths

This is one of those stories where you can hopefully learn from my mistakes. I was in the craft room a couple of weeks ago – looking for a spinning project to take on a little retreat weekend I have coming up. My craft room was the messy sort of organized. And honestly it’s seen a bit of neglect over the last year. But I always had a basket or two out in the open, displaying the pretty fiber. I picked up one long neglected project and unthinking, turned it over.

moths 1

Hint: cocoons in your fiber are never a good sign. (I mean, unless it’s a collection of silk worm cocoons. I guess there’s an exception to every rule.)

Lesson #1: never EVER leave your fiber untossed and unsealed for a long time. This project had been hibernating for year. I go through and toss the stash (checking it for bugs) at least once per year. But I hadn’t flipped this little pile of wool over in much longer than that. Turns out that spraying cedar oil only goes so far…

Unfortunately a lot of my craft room had this problem. Because I’d “never had moths before” so I wasn’t worried.

moths 2

And of course it’s the pretty, pretty handspun that was all the most exposed. That basket also held a couple of cocoons at the bottom. Luckily not all my stash was in trouble. I keep my sock yarn in this pretty hat box, with cedar balls at the bottom. And this yarn all checked out ok:

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And none of my design yarn was hit. Which is a bit of a shock, since I kept my “inspiration” skeins, um, like this:

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Lesson 2: laundry baskets just give the moths plenty of access on all sides. I think this basket was only saved from damage because I have a regular habit of flipping it over and sorting through it.
Lesson 3: Moths hate turnover.

Any designs I’m not wearing regularly are stored away carefully. I have a large collection of rubbermaid bins, and I’ve been adding to my freezer bag collection recently. Because these open topped bags?

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They’re all gone. I think it was just luck that none of their contents were damaged.

Most of my personal stash lives in this lovely old chest.

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I wish the chest were cedar, but it’s not. Instead I have a variety of cedar satchets, boards, and balls scattered throughout. I went through the whole chest. It looked fine, I was congratulating myself on no damage. When I found this:

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No cocoons, no moths, no eggs that I could see. Just one, ONE skein with a little nibble taken out of it. Seems unlikely that it could be the sum total of the damage. So I bagged up ALL that yarn as well.

Lesson 4: when you have moth damage. Nip it in the bud.
All yarn with obvious damage, and any yarn with exposure (such as Every. Single. Skein. in the chest with that one nibbled skein) ALL that yarn went into plastic bags. I bagged stuff that was stored together in giant freezer bags and grocery bags. But I didn’t cross between storage areas (no point in creating more exposure – even briefly)

Um. I have 4 kitchen trashbags of exposed yarn.

Luckily none of my finished garments showed damage. No yarn stored in other rooms of the house was harmed. My kilt, Neil’s pea coat, the wool couch blanket in the living room: all ok. So it could have been worse.

Also, since I’m counting my blessings, it’s COLD outside.

Lesson 5: Freeze the little buggers to death.
Moths and larvae die below freezing, but you have to freeze for 2 weeks. Then you let everything thaw for a couple of days – so any potential eggs can hatch (eggs are hardy.) Then you freeze again! It hasn’t been above freezing on my porch yet this month – so I’m almost done with this freeze thaw cycle and I haven’t had to plug in an extra chest freezer yet!

Luckily the majority of my spinning stash is perfectly safe. Why is that?

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Because apparently I’m much better about storing it… When the yarn all comes back inside I’m going to have a zipper-baggy party. Then my yarn stash will look like this too!

Head to Toe

As much as I talk about knitting for myself as we all know I’m drawn to the adorable things I can knit for Adorable Windsor. And that’s exactly what drew me to Head to Toe: Kids’ knit accessories


(also on Ravelry and from Cooperative Press)

This book has so many great kids knits that I didn’t even know what to start with. My colorwork bug (it’s some version of startitis, that disease sure can mutate) wanted to do either cannonfire

or Northumberland:

I love that color pattern in both colorways. And I love how Katya shows the mirror colorways because they look so different!

Then there are the cables. Cheviot Hills are gorgeous, but I don’t know that Windsor would understand fingerless mitts yet

And Back Hand Hitch has the same problem:

So what did I cast on? Breamish:

Windsor really needs some thicker socks for this cold cold winter. Unfortunately, I had grand plans of having at least one done by this blog post. But it turns out knitting goes a lot faster when you actually knit things. Instead of just dreaming about knitting them…

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I’ll get there. Eventually.

WIWIWK

Here’s what I wish I were knitting: almost anything than what I’ve got on the go right now.

I finished the blue and gray mittens, and they’re blocking by the wood stove. The fresh coat of snow we’re getting today should make a pretty backdrop for later this week when I’m hoping to have an early morning photo shoot (just me, myself, the tripod, and some tourists if I’m unlucky)

After weaving in the ends I looked at my pile of WIPs and realized I have a children’s design that I’m knitting in about an 18 month size – and I need to finish it before my model out-grows all that clothing… It’s an adorable design, and it’s 80% done. But what it still needs is a lot of i-cord and a hood. And you know how it goes. I just want to cast on for something new.

So what would I rather be knitting? Something for myself, I think. Something warm and cozy for winter, but could still transition to spring (it’ll be here someday)

I’d rather be knitting almost anything from Cascadia.


(again, available through Ravelry and Cooperative Press too)

I don’t know how I have the self control to NOT simply cast on for Courtenay

The bell sleeves, the touch of lace, the promise of a quick worsted weight pullover. I want it now.

Weirdly Redcedar is also calling to me. And I never knit scarves. But that cover is just so cozy, it’s definitely the finished product calling me, not the process of knitting it.

And I sort of adore the mother daughter set that they’ve modeled for the Sea Glass pullover It’s too bad that boxy shape never looks good on me. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to knit it. Actually I should knit it in Windsor’s size anyway. She would be so thrilled by a sweater with beads. I can see the grin on her face already.

Yup, I think that might be my weak spot, right there. Remember how, at the start of this, I said I wanted to knit something for myself? Turns out I was wrong. I’m a bit of a fickle knitter these days.

The awesomeness of books

So, as I mentioned my book is a combination of knitting patterns, and cooking recipes. That, combined with our photography, really make it a book worth having. Sure you can buy PDFs online and you can find lots of recipes too. But the book combines them both with tips and resources and puts it all in one convenient place.

Cooperative Press is really good about providing this sort of content: the patterns and MORE sort of knitting book. And that’s why today I want to remind you all about What (else) Would Madame DeFarge Knit?


(Also on Ravelry, and Cooperative Press)

This book combines knitting patterns, essays, and more. It’s a great book to sit down and read, not just to knit something from. As a designer in the book I felt like writing an essay really let me stretch my wings a little. Along with an awesome sweater dress:

iseult wafting

I got to write an awesome little story about how Iseult is not just your average princess, but really an empowered woman reaching through history to show that princesses weren’t always just waiting for their prince to come.

Intriuged? Please check out the whole book! And while you’re at it check out a few of my other favorite designs from WeWMDFK:


Ahab’s Gansey features some really amazing cables. It’s a mens sweater, but I’m not sure if Neil or I would wear it more…


Check out the birds on the thumbs of the Counting Crow mittens!


And finally the cables plus lace of Fosco’s Pret Pret Pretties make for a pair of VERY pretty little socks.

What’s your favorite pattern from What (else) Would Madame DeFarge Knit? Leave a note in the comments! Better yet, talk about it on your favorite form of social media (twitter? facebook? Even Raverly counts!) let Shannon know that you’re sharing the CP love here: http://bit.ly/lovetowin200 and you could win books, or even cash. Who doesn’t love winning?