Category Archives: yarn

Knitters’ Eye Candy Friday

And Eye Candy for Crocheters and Dyers and all Fiberistas!

The Shetland Seas Shawl is mid-castoff and should be done and blocking tonight.  So in the meantime, until I can show you finished pictures:

Take a look at this! (and it IS easy on the eyes, methinks)

hither-and-yarn-yarn

What is this lovely jewel rainbow yarn, out sunbathing in the balmy January sun?

Well, take a look at THIS to find out more.

hither-and-yarn-ball-band

(Click to embiggen if you need to.)

Yes, it’s true.  I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or pleased, but I have, um, achieved a place as one of the “Loopy Legends II”.

What’s a Loopy Legend, you ask?

In the words of Sheri, who IS The Loopy Ewe, a Loopy Legend is one of The Loopy Ewe’s top customers.  As you may know, TLE is a truly awesome online yarn store, specializing in incredible sock yarns, especially indie dyers, but also carrying some lace weight yarn, some worsted (including every Cascade 220 color), some roving, and some cool accessories.

As you can tell, I DO think TLE is a fantastic place.  Not purely because of the yarn (though the yarn is amazing, and prices are competitive, along with superfast and careful packing and shipping, free (priority mail) shipping over a certain dollar amount, and store credits you can amass over time).  But the overall customer service is absolutely unparalleled, I think.  Sheri is so genuine and honest and personable, and that shines through in every aspect of her business.

If you are not already familiar with The Loopy Ewe, I would strongly encourage you to check them out. And I’m not saying this because TLE dyed a colorway of yarn for me!  I’m saying this because TLE is such an awesome place that I shop there all the time, which is why (rumor has it), they dyed a colorway of yarn just for me!  (Well, anyone can buy it; but it’s named after me!  And dyed in my favorite colors!)

🙂

By the way, the incredible dyeing creation is the work of Angelina of Zen String, custom for The Loopy Ewe.  I was asked for a few of my favorite colors, that she could select from in designing a colorway, and gave my usual answer: jewel tones.

Jewel tones indeed: I think they’re all there.  Sapphire, emerald, topaz, garnet (I prefer garnets to rubies), amethyst — maybe spinel at the end?  A semi-precious rainbow, and just amazingly my colors.

I was sent my own personal skein.  (Isn’t it wrapped up purty?)

hither-and-yarn-package

When they went on sale several weeks ago, though, I purchased two more: one to knit (because I don’t want to knit this first one, I just want to keep looking at it!) and one for a future surprise.  Something to do with a blogiversary  later this spring….

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy it quite yet if you love it as much as I do.  This colorway sold out in less than a day.  (I promise, it wasn’t all me buying it up, there was some left when I was done.)  But I’m sure there will be more at some point! 

And if you like indie dyers, such as bellamoden, Sanguine Gryphon, Numma Numma, Tempted, Perfect Day Yarns, Perchance to Knit, YoYo, Enchanted Knoll Yarn, Yarn Pirate, or many more  — TLE is your Indie Headquarters. Go!  See!  

Besides, any yarn from the TLE comes with a Loopy Treat! Kisses this time of year, see them in the picture?  Peppermints in the warm weather when the kisses might melt.  SWEET!

One last look at the Hither and Yarn yarn; Beya the cat had just checked it out.  She approves.  Though the color shows up better outdoors (the first photo is completely unaltered as far as colors); the flash makes this look a little brighter than it is; it’s saturated but not bright-bright IRL.

hither-and-yarn-yarn-with-b

OK, I admit it, she’s more interested in the tissue paper!  At least until I start knitting with the yarn, then I’ll have her full attention.  Unfortunately, not because of the gorgeous colors, though.   Sigh.

Coronet update

So, I did finish the braid brim of Coronet on Inauguration Day, grafting the ends together at bedtime.  The only picture I managed to take, though, was a mid-afternoon shot showing the (almost done) semi-solid color braid, and the yarn I’m using for the hat, a slowly striping coordinating yarn; both of which I used for my Moebius scarf, but they’ll look quite different in this permutation.

coronet-inauguration-day

And tonight I finished the hat, all but weaving in the ends!  I have yet to try it on in the mirror, but by itself, it’s lovely.  Photos this weekend (tomorrow will be almost as long a day at work as today was).

Guess I’m paying (as far as work) for staying home Tuesday and watching this:

inauguration-reflection1

(there’s my living room windows reflected by the TV screen)

and this:

inauguration-day-tv

SO worth it.

Even if it confused the cat.

citrus-confused

Why are YOU home when it’s light out?   Huh?  You usually feed us and leave!


X is for Xavier

This is the last day of X-posting (no, not cross-posting): we are to the challenging letter X in the ABC-Along.

Who is Xavier?

Well, other than being the surname of a Jesuit priest and Catholic saint (if you ever meet anyone with the initials F.X., it’s a pretty good bet the initials stand for Francis Xavier and he was baptized a good Catholic boy):

THIS is Xavier.

xavier-solo

See, here’s his nametag, below.

xavier-and-blue-house

Xavier is representing a certain portion of my yarn stash, and an addiction of mine.  To Twisted Fiber Art, being the creation of Meg, a dyer with mad math and dyeing skills as well as an eye for color, which allow her to hand-craft some of the most gorgeous self-striping yarn anywhere.

Although you can see the beautiful saturated colors above and below, and how they pick up the blues of the sky (and the house across the street) and the golden browns of the fall vegetation (right before the snow started the next day):

you have to see it knit up to really appreciate it.  I have not used my Xavier yet, but you can see a preview on the store site here.

xavier-looking-south

Why do I love Twisted yarn so much?  The wonderful yarn bases are important, in fact, essential; but it’s the amazing gradations and blends and combinations of colors that have me hooked.

Here’s a mini-gallery of Twisted projects I’ve put on the blog in the past:

moebius-warms-my-ears sweet-baby-cap-head-on pioneer-braid-scarf-cropped braider-baby-hat flower-in-the-floozy-hat hat-on-a-railing tonks-posing meeting-sock-natural-light beaded-necklace-2 saartjes-booties-with-scorched-kabam1 walking-socks bacterium-on-the-front-steps orbit-scarf

(Click on any you’d like to see bigger.)

And that’s just since May!

The amazing color changes are simultaneously limiting and inspiring in designing, or in incorporating the self-striping yarn into existing patterns.  Any significant lacework or pattern stitches will tend to be lost in the colors.  (Which is a lot of wasted effort and shows off neither the pattern nor the yarn to best advantage.)  The color-change yarn absolutely sings in stockinette, just a little less so in garter stitch, and can be shown to advantage with simple or slip stitch patterns.  Also, the number of stitches it’s made on makes a huge difference to the final look of the stripes.  (See the difference between the Scorched booties above, and the baby hat in exactly the same yarn, the orange/brown/green/yellow colorway.)  So, it’s rather like writing a poem in a very constricted style.  (Think haiku; or a long poem with multiple verses in the haiku form.)  The constriction of technique can be very inspiring.

Plus, it’s always nice to have a simple stockinette sock (for example) on the needles, for travel, walking, meetings, etc.; the color changes make it more interesting.  (I seem to have trouble keeping it simple stockinette, see the last two socks above, but that’s another issue.)

Fortunately, however, I’m delighted to report that for those times when one wants to do more complicated patterns (much of the time, apparently, for me, despite my Twisted addiction),  Meg has (by popular request) started dyeing semi-solids.  They started out as coordinating heel and toe skeins (see the earth-tone sock above, which is knit in Netherfield Kabam; the cuff is in a coordinating yarn).  Now they’re available as whole skeins.  (I used this on my Minstrel Moebius I-cord bind-off.)  And in the most recent update, Meg dyed “Subtles” that were ‘stand-alones’ — not necessarily coordinating with another of her yarns.  Wow!  See this page for a sample (scroll down to the bottom); I just received my order, and among the loveliness was two skeins of Inevitable in Arial, a fine merino light fingering weight yarn which I am going to use, in this case, essentially as a heavy laceweight.

So many ideas!  So much beautiful yarn!  So little time!

No wonder I haven’t knit my Xavier yet!

A Tale of Two LYS’s

Well, one LYS and one not-quite-so-LYS.  And their surroundings.

Last Saturday, I went to a Local Yarn Store, Salem Stitchery (used to be Country Woolgatherer).  It’s just a few miles away, but out in the country.

salem-stitchery-open-house

This was during the 20 minutes of sunshine we had late Saturday afternoon.  In fact, I was walking up to the door of the store as I took this picture, then looked over my shoulder to see the impending sunset and promptly about-faced to go shoot some more pictures, including the one I showed you Saturday.  And this one.

west-salem-field-at-dusk

(This LYS is in an outbuilding on the owner’s farm.) And this photo of geese flying overhead.

november-geese

And this one of a bit of a rainbow that showed up just before the sun set (the geese flew by it, but I couldn’t get them to show up in the photo).

rainbow-bit-but-where-are-t

As I was paying for my purchases later, the owner asked me if everything was okay.  She was worried that I’d lost my dog or something, since she’d seen me approach the door then take off briskly!  (I think the ‘briskly’ part was because there was a nippy wind, and because it was getting late.)   I was hoping no one had noticed my aberrant behavior….

There was a Thanksgiving/Harvest open house here last weekend, and I always want to support local yarn stores.  Not that I really needed anything.  But I bought some warm, soft chunky alpaca for my father-in-law, for a scarf; he’s just moved up from Florida and his blood is thin, he needs it ASAP; I won’t wait until Christmas to give him this.  And a couple other things for swaps and presents.  This shop has abundant needlework supplies, and also some antiques.  Look at this, in the back:

doily-stretcher

“Hostess Doily Stretcher”.

If I made doilies, I’d be tempted.  I was anyway, just because it’s cool.  But I resisted.

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Just the day before, I’d been at a very different ambience of LYS.  Not Local to me, but in Rochester, Minnesota, where I was Thursday and Friday at an educational meeting.  I took a brisk walk at a break on Friday and made it a yarn break.  (Unfortunately, I got cocky and didn’t write down the address; and naturally, there’s a difference between 6th St & 2nd Ave SW versus 6th Ave & 2nd St SW!  So it was a bit longer walk and break than I had quite intended….Fortunately, however, Rochester is laid out very logically, so once I had figured out my error, I could get to where I needed to go without further delay or angst.)

Here’s Kristen’s Knits (note: location being the second selection above; the store recently moved, and the website still has the old address as of the date of this post).

The store had a great selection of yarns, I thought.  I bought some Rowan Tapestry in soothing colors for a future mini-Lady Eleanor type scarf (knitting back backwards for the purposes of entrelac in particular is on my list of things to learn to do at some point in the future).  And a little Silk Garden for a Pioneer Braid Scarf for a present.  And the Vogue Holiday magazine, and a couple patterns (such a deal!  A free pattern or magazine if you purchased more than $50!  Which is so difficult for me to be able to do, to pick out that much yarn….)

kristens-knits

After enjoying myself all too briefly, I had to return to my meeting.  Since I had my camera, I did snap a couple photos as I went.  There is some interesting architecture around the WFMC (World Famous Mayo Clinic).  I particularly always enjoy the details of the Plummer Building.

plummer-buliding-doors

Detail of a carving embedded in the stonework.

plummer-bldg-carving

Even the banisters are cool.

plummer-building-banister

And you should have seen the water fountains!  Ah, well, back to the meeting.

More Yarns of November

Yes, I know, I’m really on a November kick, aren’t I?

Perhaps it’s because it’s the natal month; perhaps it’s because it’s NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). Or perhaps because I’m always very aware that November marks the transition to the longest season up here — winter.

But I find it fascinating that there is yarn — more than one — with colorways named after November. Given that it’s such a brown, gloomy, dreary month, generally speaking.  I realize I’m sensitized to November, but, for example, I don’t recall seeing a number of yarns with May-themed colorways (as delightful a month as it is, much more so than November).  I suppose I just might not be paying attention.

Last year I showed you some November yarns I had found.

Here are a couple more I have discovered and collected (most of these ARE collector’s yarn; I am not planning to knit these, and if I did, it would probably be for me.  Or possibly another November baby.  Maybe.)  I showed you the Dream in Color November Muse last year, but in the Smooshy sock yarn; this year’s collector yarn is the same November colorway in Baby laceweight.

yarns-of-november

I probably will knit up the Dream in Color Baby at some point, actually.  When I find or design a pattern that seems appropriate.  And the ZenString “November” on the right is just gorgeous; I think the colors in Austin in November are a little different than up here (and maybe that’s a little blue-gray sky mixed in).

The Malabrigo on the left mystifies me a little, though.  Wouldn’t “Noviembre” in Uruguay inspire a different color palette, one would think?  That’s spring in Uruguay.  Maybe it’s early spring.

I put the yarn down in an autumnal part of the garden,

yarns-of-november-in-the-ga

& noticed that the colors of the November garden truly were reflected in the yarn.

See?  Truth in advertising!

yarn-diagram-in-the-garde

I guess November can be beautiful, after all.  I believe I occasionally may need an attitude adjustment!  Anytime I feel dreary this month, I should come look at my November yarns.

V is for Variegated

Variegated yarns.

So much fun and so easy to dye.

So pretty to look at in the skein.

Such a challenge to knit effectively….

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One of the projects I am currently working on, which I have not shown you yet, uses a gently Variegated hand-dyed yarn from the amazing Briar Rose Fibers.  And I think this project and the stitch it uses is one that shows off Variegated yarns to good advantage.

The project is a reknitting of my Coulee Shawl, which I mentioned some time ago: a design I created for elann‘s first design contest; the first shawl I ever knit and the first design I ever created from scratch.  It was a runner-up, one of 10.  But not one of the top three (all those picked were more in the vein of pictorial lace, as I remember).

I’ve been asked for the pattern several times since putting it up on Ravelry.  But I wanted to rewrite the pattern, rework the beginning of the shawl, and try the modification of the Seafoam stitch that I did in my Country Manor scarf.  (The modification uses less yarn and, I think, may look a bit better if you’re not going to block the project severely.)  The Seafoam stitch and its mod do nice things for Variegated yarn; breaking up pooling and striping, and allowing the yarn to be shown off.  Here’s the current version of the Coulee Shawl in progress, unblocked, but a little stretched to show the pattern.

coulee-shawl-variegated

This truly glorious yarn is Glory Days:  a Blue-Faced Leicester DK-weight yarn from Briar Rose Fibers that I bought at Chris’ booth at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool.  (About the only non-blue-greenish purchase I made there…..)  I love the autumnal colors.  (Very November-y, may I add, in a good way.) And the BFL is amazing to knit with.  Of course, this Variegation is somewhat subtler, but still, you can see how nicely the different colors are displayed in the drop-stitch areas.

(Here’s what it looks like not stretched out.  A few days ago, it made a nice pumpkin cozy.  Just in case you need one.)

pumpkin-cozy

Once I finish this, I’m curious to try the same stitch pattern with some DK-weight alpaca I bought from eBay some time ago;  it’s beautifully hand-dyed in a colorway called ‘Coral Reef’, the colors being what you might imagine, though not my usual choices: mid-intensity yellows, oranges, pinks, mid-blues and greens, lavenders.  What I couldn’t tell from the eBay picture is that the color repeats are very short, probably a stitch or two long knitted up.  I have been pretty sure I wouldn’t like how it will knit up in stockinette.  (Could be wrong.)  But I think I might like it in the modified Seafoam stitch.  (Swatching is foreseen in my future, when I get around to it.  And don’t be fooled by my saying “Once I finish this”:  I don’t mean “As soon as I finish this.”  I have a few other things on my plate before that!)

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As I was musing about the challenges that Variegated yarns pose, I reflected that this was yet another way that knitting was like life.  Especially as I was wandering the blogosphere in the aftermath of the recent presidential and congressional elections.  And being a little discouraged by the remarks (particularly their tone) of a few indignant commenters on certain knit blogs I read.

You know, it’s easier to knit with yarn that’s all exactly the same color.  No pooling or flashing or unwanted striping.  If you’re not using different colors of yarns, no weaving in a gazillion yarn ends; no jogs at joins. No dye lots!

Wouldn’t it be just wonderfully easy if all yarn were exactly the same color?

Wouldn’t it be — incredibly boring?  And stifle creativity?

(Anybody read “The Lathe of Heaven”?  In which at one point, in a misfired attempt to prevent race-based problems, everyone became grey?)

We are Variegated too.  Not just skin and hair and eye color, height and weight and the obvious outside stuff, but we have each our own hopes and fears and values and dreams.  It’s easier to knit us all together if we’re all exactly the same — but that isn’t and never will be the case.  And that’s good.  More than good, that’s great.

It may be harder to knit, to braid us all together given our Variegation, but we are each hand-dyed works of art, and we are and will be a beautiful, complex, powerful whole; so much richer for the Variegation.

V is for Variegated.

Recipe for a Rainy Day? Handspun and a New Book!

I think it was raining the day not long ago when I received wonderful blog contest prizes in the mail.  And it was raining again yesterday, when I was finally home during daylight to take a picture of the wonderfulness.

So let me show you, imperfectly with flash, first the artistry of Gwen at Pieces of String Too Small To Save!

(She also has an etsy shop with hand-dyed roving and more handspun.  Highly recommended.)

I won the above delectable handspun goodness PLUS chocolate in the shape of Ohio (awesome!) and a blog button that DOESN’T go in my sidebar!  (It says, “Pieces Of String Too Small To Save”, since I know you can’t read it.)  All as a Blogiversary giveaway.  I have some thoughts in mind for this incredibly soft, squishy, gorgeous hand-dyed handspun, but just want to pet the yarn some more and let it talk to me.  Maybe the chocolate will allow me to hear it better….

On the very same day, another treat came in the mail, courtesy of the kindness of a knitter/author/blogger/instigator!

For Ravelympics, which I told you about recently, I was on Team Twisted, in celebration of one of my favorite yarns.  One of our co-captains, Kathleen Taylor, GrammaK on Ravelry and the one who actually instigated TeamTwisted (I use the word advisedly), is an author both of knitting books* and mystery fiction, as well as having a great knitting blog where she shares some of her excellent patterns for free (go there and check out the stranded colorwork sweater she just designed and knit.  Wow).  Anyhoo, she gave all the team members a copy of one of her mystery books just ’cause.

(Did you notice its cover coordinates perfectly with the handspun?  Somewhat mysterious how that worked….)

I picked it up and opened it in the middle just as a sample, and immediately got sucked in.  NO!  Put The Book Down!  I think it might need to come with me on my travels next week, however.

* I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize that I owned two of Kathleen’s books until I Googled them for this post.  That is, I knew about one of them (one of her felting books) but not the second, her book about hand-dyeing yarn….idiote!

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Thank you, Gwen and Kathleen!  KNITBLOGGERS ROCK!