Tag Archives: yarn

Merino Sport

I’d like to take a moment and talk about my favorite one of Periwinkle Sheep’s yarns – that would be her Merino Sport.

This yarn is wonderful. It’s sproingy, it’s soft, it’s amazingly durable for a 100% superwash merino. Heck, it’s durable compared to blended merinos too!

Periwinkle merino sport
(yes, I balanced yarn in a tree for this picture. Got a problem with that?)

The trick is in the plies. This yarn is made up of many tightly plied strands. And when I unwound the yarn I found that each strand is actually two strands plied together as well!

All these plies easily combat the problems that can crop up with merino in general and superwash in particular. Merino has a short staple length and is a small micron fiber. These are the things which make it soft. But these exact same features make it pill easily*.

The plies made up of plies keep the merino under control. It’s less free to move about and thus less free to create pills.

The plies have other features too! They make the yarn bouncy and stretchy. This is key for a superwash yarn because the process of keeping wool from felting usually removes its natural bounciness. The plies add the bounce back into the yarn. But don’t let me mislead you, there’s nothing over-wound about this yarn. It doesn’t want to untwist as you knit with it and there’s no bias to the plain stockinette fabric. This is a well balanced yarn. Because of the plies and the balance this yarn has a gorgeous stitch definition which works beautifully with twisted rib, and I’m sure it’d show off cables just as well.

lime sorbet cuff and hem detail

But so far I’ve just talked about the base yarn (which is amazing, did I mention that?) The base yarn would mean little if it weren’t for Karin’s ability to apply dyes. I fall in love with every color she makes. Pictured we have Craving, Chai, and Avocado. But seriously? I bought her Sophisticated colorway at Rhinebeck two weeks ago and I have Suits Him upstairs in my stash from a previous festival. Those first three may be design leftovers** but clearly I have a thing for her color ways.

Periwinkle merino sport closeup

The trick is she takes gorgeous colors and adds subtle variation. The yarns are solid enough to work with intricate patterning, but varied enough to be fascinating in plain stockinette. I don’t know how she manages this balancing act, but I love it!

So check out her colorways. If you see something on Ravelry that’s not in her store I’d recommend getting in touch with her. I know she’s dying yarn in her kitchen and while she can’t keep a lot in stock Karin would be happy to dye a color or a yardage for your next project!

*If you’ve ever knit with a single ply merino you know EXACTLY what I mean. That stuff pills if you look at it wrong.
**I’m sure you’ve all seen those disclaimers that say “this product was provided for review purposes.” I think in this case I should specify that “half these products were provided” since I paid for several of these skeins myself!

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Rhinebeck stash acquisition

It’s that time of year when I have to bring things with me to work if I want daylight pictures. So I can finally show you what I added to my stash last weekend!

Fiber:

Ustler fiber

My plan was to buy fiber because I don’t need more yarn right now. Um yeah. I got just these two batts. But they’re very nice batts! Both came from the Ustler county spinning group (gild? something) and my plan is to spin them woolen and ply them together. My woolen spinning needs the practice.

Long stripe lace yarn:

freia lace

This was a total impulse purchase. I don’t even knit that many shawls. But look at the colors! So pretty! I couldn’t resist.

Sock yarns:

cosmic STR

They don’t count as stash, right? The red is STR mediumweight, I’ve never used it before and I’m excited to try. The grayish-purple with green is Cosmic Fibers Andromeda. I got it at the holidome the night before the festival even started.

More sock yarn:

periwinkle

These don’t count as sock yarn stash, because I’m planning on making a sweater out of them. The plum is Periwinkle Sheep’s wink yarn. The green is Silver Moon Farm’s superwash merino. I’d like to make Moore with them. I’m not sure where I think I’ll find the time though.

purse handle

My final purchase was another spur of the moment. I was in the Homestead Heirlooms both full of gorgeous leather purse handles. I figured they’d be expensive, and when they weren’t I decided I might get one. Then I found the ones with sunflowers and I KNEW IT WAS MEANT TO BE.

So, um, yeah. That was slightly more yarn than I’d intended to buy. But I stuck to my budget exactly so it’s probably fine. I’m sure I’ll knit it all eventually, right?

Rhinebeck Recap

Rhinebeck tree.jpg

This was possibly the most beautiful Rhinebeck yet (it’s only my 3rd). Blue skies and white puffy clouds greeted us Saturday morning- which was a welcome change from the sheeting rain we drove down in on Friday*.

fairgrounds.jpg

The crowds on Saturday got intense at times but the fairgrounds are big enough that it’s always possible to find a quiet corner where we could sit, knit, and watch the sweaters go by (and the alpacas and llamas.)

Camelid parade.jpg

We got there first thing that morning and were at the front of the line. My friends Amy and Dana love Cephalopod yarns so we headed there first before the booth got too crazy.

Cephalopod booth.jpg

I love the Ravelry meet up. It’s a break from all the shopping to actually hang out and talk with other knitters. I met Ann who chose Boyden for he Rhinebeck sweater. She totally made the whole weekend for me! And I visited with some fellow designers (Triona from Triona Designs and Danielle from Makewise Designs pictured)

boyden.jpg designers.jpg
(That thing with the cable I’m wearing? It’s a sneak peak. But I can say I think you should go pre-order your very own copy of What Else Would Madame Defarge Knit. Do it now.)

I didn’t mean to buy a lot of yarn, I swear… But ended up coming home with 2 skeins of sock yarn for socks. Another 1400 yds in two colors for a sweater. Some lace weight and some fiber. I thought I was being good and not buying a spindle. But I think next time I’ll just get one. They take up less space!

just a little yarn.jpg
(why yes, these are ALL crappy cell phone pictures. Some more crappy than others)

Possibly my favorite purchase is the pottery though. I LOVE my new casserole dish with the goats on it!

* Sheeting rain, 5 accidents, and a 24 mile detour in Albany where they’d closed 87 entirely…

cardigan story

I’ve released another pattern! Let me introduce my Lime Sorbet cardi:

lime sorbet buttoned

As always you can favorite and queue it on Ravelry or see more details and buy the pattern here.

This cardigan came about as a result of a specific request. I met Karin of Periwinkle Sheep last fall at the VT Sheep and Wool festival. She was looking for someone to design with her yarns, and you all know how I love supporting other local fiber artists! She sent me some of her new merino sport yarn with a directive to “play” and a request for some sort of a garment.

lime sorbet back view

Like many other knitters I love merino yarns, they’re so soft! And I love superwash yarns, because they’re so easy to care for. However as a designer I also know that superwash merino can be tricky, especially for garments. But this isn’t problem as long as I keep it in mind. So my goal, when designing with this yarn, became to design something that would highlight the yarn.

lime sorbet unbuttoned direct

This cardigan is fitted, I’m wearing it in the photo with about half an inch of ease. Positive ease in a cardigan keeps the button band from gaping. But the fitted measurements across the shoulders and in the sleeves, as well as the length of the body, all keep the superwash in check. It’s fitted so the garment doesn’t become to baggy if the yarn grows as it’s worn. Also the yarn twist is wonderful with tightly coiled plies, so it’s sprongy and bouncy and less prone to bagginess than other superwash yarns might be. The design is simple, with carefully planned little details, which allow the yarn to shine through.

lime sorbet cuff and hem detail

The color is bright, playful, spunky, and perky. I have lots of adjectives for this sweater, but none of them are demure. This is a design for biking along the beach, chasing fireflies, climbing trees, all sorts of summer activities when it might be a little cool (not that it’s cool at all right now) I love this Avocado green but was hard pressed to choose just one color. I think it’d look equally good in the others. What about her purple Craving? Would that make it a grape sorbet cardi?

lime sorbet moody sky

*yes, that’s a word, I’m sure of it.

making a list

and checking it over and over again. I’m thinking about yarns! Local yarns, farm yarns, yarns made on this continent instead of some other one. I do this from time to time, just to remind myself of all the great yarns I haven’t worked with (recently or ever) along with my standbys.

What are your favorites? I have a skein of Leisel calling to me from the inspiration basket (I even know what I’d knit with it, but I have no time)

and I just discovered that Mountain Colors has a cashmere silk blend called Jeanette that I’ve never even seen in person! (it was new last year, so that’s probably why)

What new yarns do you have your eye on? Got anything to recommend to me? I am creating an actual list right now…

and yet more yarn

More Yarn arrived over the weekend.

yarn packages

Seriously, when do I think I’ll find time to knit all this? These are for specific designs, not even just packages headed for the stash, nope. They’re sitting on the table in my craft room, pestering me to be wound into cakes. Then they go into the box of Things I’ll Need For That Design I’m Working On. Which reminds me I need to take some inspiration yarn out of that box and put it into the Laundry Basket Of Swatching And Inspiration.

It’s a very complicated system…

more than just a new hat pattern

Today I’m really excited about the release of my new hat pattern, the Sheep Herder’s hat. Like my other indie patterns I hope you’ll favorite and queue it on Ravelry.

sheep herder main

But this is more than just another pattern release. It’s the start of an exciting new thing. I’m working with Kim over at Grand View Farm to design patterns specifically for her yarns. This pattern uses Charlotte, a bulky 2ply that combines romney and mohair:

hat yarn3

Kim raises the goats and sheep (and bunnies!), has the yarn spun at a US mill, and then dyes it up with natural* dyes herself. This yarn is GORGEOUS. Charlotte is light and airy, it has sheen from the romney and a bit of halo from the mohair at the same time. Kim’s yarns are all really lovely, I have some natural romney at home which may be the next thing I cast on. But only if the her Leisel yarn (romney ANGORA blend) doesn’t decide what it wants to be first. You can buy her yarns on Etsy, she even has kits made up so you can get a printed copy of the pattern and enough yarn for the size and color you want all at once!

sheep herder slouchy

This hat has been my absolute favorite, go-to hat since I finished it back in December. Once the pattern was ready we just had to wait for the yarn to come back from the mill. Which took weeks longer than they had estimated. This reminded me how glad I am not to have to deal with manufacturing very often! But it’s finally here (or actually there – since Grand View farm is in a different county than me) and totally worth the wait.

sh toastyears

The hat can be worn two different ways: slouchy as styled at the top of the post, or pulled down over your ears to keep them warm as directly above. One reason I love this hat is because that slouchy look is quite in style right now. So I can come in from the cold, adjust my hat, and continue showing off the knitterly goodness.

sheep herder gazing

*except the blue, that’s from Greener Shades

mountain colors 4/8s wool

Thank you all for the wonderful comments and positive feedback on my Kathryn Margaret shawl. It means a lot to me. I’d be designing things for myself whether or not there was anyone else interested in them. To be able to share my patterns with other wonderful knitters is an honor.

So to say thank you, I’m having a little give-away! One lucky winner will get a the pattern for this shawl AND enough yarn to knit their very own.

The yarn used for this shawl is Mountain Colors 4/8s wool. It’s a great workhorse of a worsted weight yarn. soft enough to wear, durable enough to wear well. I’ve loved their colorways since WAAAY before I started designing. So when I needed a subtly variegated solid color for this shawl I reached out to them to see if they’d be interested in collaborating. I’m glad to say they were, and soon I had two lovely HANKS of 4/8’s in the Harmony Honey colorway:

harmony honey

I’m calling them HANKS because these suckers contain the yardage two skeins each. It’s how they’re put up for dying before re-skeining them for sale. That’s about 1000 yards of yarn total and I clearly did not use it all. I thought with all the cables that I might need upwards of 700 yards*. But this shawlette is knit out of just 450 yards!

Leave a comment on this post telling me about your first cabled project (or will this be your first?) On Friday the 18th (noon EST) I’ll pick a winner! And yes, international folks are welcome. I’d like to thank Mountain Colors for donating the yarn for this give away. You all know how much I love working with small independent companies!

KM7

*estimating how much yarn I need for a design, when I haven’t even got any to swatch with, is one of the trickiest parts. Once I have the yarn in hand and a swatch and a schematic made up it’s much easier to calculate the yardage needed for other sizes. Well- easier if you like dimensional analysis, which I do.

VT Sheep and Wool

Last weekend I went down to the VT sheep and wool festival with some friends.

mudboots

It was a muddy weekend, but we had a good time anyway! We went to introduce one friend to the festival atmosphere. She’s coming to Rhinebeck in (nine!!) days and had never been to a fiber festival before. We wanted to start small.

sheepdog

We saw the sheep dog herding trials, watched a sheep get sheared, met other bloggers and some twitter friends, and generally had a good time!

I loved watching the guy from Yellow Dog Farm who was making spindles on site.

spindle mosaic
1. spindle2, 2. spindle1, 3. spindle4, 4. spindle3

He went from an octagon of wood, to a beautiful, functional spindle right before our eyes.

festival yarn

And I got some yarn. Of course. The big brown skeins will become the Boyden sweater. The dark green (almost black in this light) is for a chirstmas gift. The light green is sock yarn*. The light brown may become another pair of mitts (because apparently, I can’t get enough mitts) And I knit on a christmas gift on the drive down and back too. Did you know we have 81 days left? I get mad when stores put out decorations this time of year, but for crafters, it’s about time to get started…

*sock yarn doesn’t count as stash

choosing yarns

When I’m designing something I try to put a lot of thought into what fibers and which yarns will suite the design best. Although sometimes even the best laid plans go awry. I have a shawl design* which I knit out of two skeins bouncy, squooshy fingering merino from my stash. I picked several pattern features that took good advantage of the bouncy merino. Then I ran out of not one, but BOTH colors with inches to go on the shawl. Turns out those skeins were only 350 yards each… Rather than being that designer** (the one who requires 4 skeins of sock yarn for a pattern that uses 50 yards of each second skein) I decided I needed to change the yarn – even though that meant I had to get more yarn, and wait for the second shawl to be knit***

Right, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, yarn decisions.

So for my Boyden sweater I know that I need a woolen yarn with good stitch definition. That way the cables will pop even against the field of stockinette. I know I need a solid or semi-solid (single color) yarn, so the color won’t distract from the cable pattern. I know I want a DK or worsted weight yarn.

little skeins

Recently I got two lovely little mini skeins in the mail from Dirty Water Dyeworks The gray is Marie a cashmere merino blend. The brown is Edna a silk and polworth blend. Both yarns should have the bounce and stitch definition to work well for this sweater. So mostly I just need to choose my favorite. Below is a poll, let me know what you think about these two yarns, and about sweater yarns in general!

I’ll keep these answers in mind for future designs as well, feel free to leave comments if you want to expand on any of your answers.

*coming soon!

**I’m sure they don’t do it on purpose…

***which I conned my friend Amy into doing for me. I didn’t want to knit the second one as well.