Tag Archives: yarn

On Balance

I’m going to share with you one of my favorite pieces of knitting equipment.  It’s something a little unexpected, but super useful.  It’s great for planning new projects.  And it’s something you might already have… in your kitchen.

It’s a little scale!61znmd0vewl-_sl1222_1

Instead of measuring the length of yarn (which would be both annoying and very very difficult), I weigh it.  A new skein of yarn will always have the weight and length (for example, 100g and 250 yards) on the label, so with a little math, you’ll be able to figure out how many yards are in any half-finished ball of yarn.

This is the one I have.  I love it.  It’s got settings for grams and ounces (I like using grams, since they’re a little more accurate than ounces).  It’s also great, because the little control panel/readout can be pulled away, if you’re weighing something big (like a bowl of cherries or a whole sweater).7157zip2oel-_sl1500_1But, mostly I like this one because it’s the one we already had (we got it as a wedding gift years ago). Really, any fairly accurate kitchen scale works for weighing yarn.

So, what do I use my scale for?

Just about anything where I’m trying to estimate, predict, or calculate how much yarn I have left or how much yarn I need for a project or how much yarn I’ve already used.

For example.  I’m making a sweater, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to have enough yarn to finish the sleeves.  So, I weighed the sleeveless sweater and marked down that weight.  Then I knit one sleeve and weighed it again.  Then, with a little math, I figured out how much yarn I used for one sleeve, and therefore how much yarn I’ll need for the second one. (Spoiler: I’ve got enough yarn for the second sleeve!  Yay!)

I’ve also used my scale to plan out my mother bears.  I figured out how many grams of yarn I need for each part of a bear (skin, pants, etc.).  Then, I can go through my stash and weigh my bits of yarn to figure out which are big enough for another bear.

I try remember how much yarn I use of each skein of yarn, but sometimes yarn lives in my stash for so long, I forget what I used it for.  So, again I break out the scale to get an estimate on how much of a half-finished skein is left, which helps when I’m planning out a new project.

It seems like a silly addition to a knitting stash, but a scale is super useful!

Do you have a favorite knitting tool that you re-purposed from somewhere else?

What to do? What to do?

My lovely husband is very good at Christmas.  This year, he made me a personalized advent calendar, full of beautiful yarn and tiny bottles of booze (peppermint schnapps for my hot cocoa?  Don’t mind if I do!)

For four days, I received Madeline Tosh Unicorn Tails in blue, copper, green and purple (otherwise known as Costeau, Glazed Pecan, Jade and Flashdance).  img_4510Have you ever knit with Madeline Tosh?  Their yarn bases are all lovely, but the colors are what make their yarns sing.  I mean look at these totally gorgeous, saturated semi-solid colorways- they practically glow!  I’ve got a full-sized skein of Tosh Merino Light in an intense cobalt blue that I haven’t been able to bring myself to use- it’s too beautiful.img_4518But, here’s the issue:  Unicorn tails are itty bitty.  Each skein is only about 50 yards long, which makes them a great “tester” size, but if you want to make a project with them, it’ll take a little planning.  I’ve got 4 skeins, so I’ve got 200 yards of fingering weight wool in 4 different colors.  What  can I make with this yarn?  Or, do I need to go buy more (oh darn)?

Obviously it’ll be something striped, or at least something with blocks of color.  Maybe some mittens?  A headband? Maybe a hat, if I’m careful?

What would you do with these little guys?

OK. New Plan.

I’ve finally got my act together.   I’ve sulked long enough, and I think I figured out a solution.  I think I can make this sweater work.  I’ll live to knit another day.

But first, I had to rip an entire sleeve.  It was… an unfortunate amount of ripping.   I poured myself a nice stiff drink and went to town.

God… look how different that yarn is.  (New yarn is on the right, old, scraggly yarn is on the left.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI remembered someone telling me, or maybe reading somewhere (not sure where… I just know I didn’t make this up), that if you had two different dye lots that you had to make work, you can work them in stripes to blend the two colors together.  It was worth a shot.

First I tried 2-row stripes, but that ended up looking really stripey.  (I didn’t even bother taking a picture of this one- it didn’t look good.)

But, when I tried narrow, 1-row stripes, I managed to get a pretty even color.  And, since I’m using a big circular needle, I can slide the needle back and forth after every other row.  That means I don’t have to break my yarn or juggle extra balls of yarn!  Winning!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASee?  The sleeve (the bottom portion of the picture) is pretty close to the rest of the sweater.  It’s still a smidge blue-ish in real life, but only so much that someone looking really closely would notice it.

The only problem is that the combination of new yarn and old, frogged yarn makes the fabric a bit of a mess.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut at this point, I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope that it looks OK after blocking.

Have you ever had to get creative to get around poor dye-lot matching?

Heartbreak

I’m completely heartbroken.  My hopes have been dashed.  My best plans of a simple, fun, and easy sweater are completely falling apart.

My yarn came in the mail.  (Actually it came in the mail a few weeks ago, but I was so disappointed, I threw it into the closet and pretended it hadn’t showed up yet.)  Usually new yarn is a source of joy, but ugh…

Look:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK, it’s kind of hard to see in a photo, but take a closer look:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe ball of yarn on the left is the new yarn- it’s significantly more blue-gray.  And the half-finished sweater is on the right- it’s a lovely pink-y lavender.

I know they look pretty similar in these photos (it’s been established my photography skills are lacking), but in real life, they’re significantly different.  Even my husband commented.  I’ve got the whole sweater finished with the old yarn, except for the left sleeve.  I can’t have a sweater with one different color arm!

This, boys and girls, is why you buy all your yarn at once.

Now I’m going to go drink a lot of coffee and come up with a plan.

Road Trip!

I’m taking a road trip later this week with my in-laws (Hi, in-laws!).  And that means one thing:

Dramamine? Car games? Eating at McDonald’s?

No!  It means an excuse to go yarn shopping and start some new projects.  After all, my sweater project is getting too big, and I’m out of purple yarn…

I stopped at a lovely yarn shop over on the other side of Lake Washington, Serial Knitters in Kirkland.  I’ve only visited there once before, years ago, and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get over there again.  It has a fantastic selection of local and national brands in some of the most gorgeous colorways I’ve ever seen.

Two skeins came home with me:  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe lovely, subtle gray-blue is Madeleinetosh Tosh DK in Cloud Dweller, and the over-the top rainbow of exuberance is Knitted Wit Victory DK in Fairy Garden.  They’re both squishy, but firm, and I can tell that they’ll knit up into great hard-wearing accessories.

(And, I can’t help but smile when I look at the Victory DK colors… so gorgeous!)

I’m thinking, since I’ve only got one skein of each, I should use them to make little accessories.  The Victory DK is slightly thinner, so I’m thinking mitts or gloves.  And, I don’t care for variegated yarn knit into simple stockinette (weird, I know), so they’ll have to have some sort of texture.  I’m thinking these gloves might be just the ticket (and they’re an excuse to use some of my buttons).

Ringwood Gloves by Rebecca Blairringwoodbiggreen_medium[1]Wouldn’t they be just the funkiest, most cheerful winter accessories?!  I’m excited already.

The cloudy blue Tosh DK is just as beautiful as the hyperactive Victory DK, but in a more grown-up, classy way.  I’m thinking the subtle color changes would work really well with cables.  Something with a lot of cables.   Maybe a hat.  Maybe this one:

Antler Hat by tincanknitsiain-5-1024x682_medium2[1]Unfortunately, my yarn is a smidge smaller than the yarn called for in the pattern, but I think if I go up a size, I should be able to knit up a lovely hat as I while away the miles.

What do you think?  How should I use my lovely new yarn?

Nooooo!!!!!!!

I have terrible news.

Terrible, terrible, heartbreaking news.

You might want to sit down.

It’s about my lovely, purple cabled sweater, the one I’ve been working on for months.  It’s… *sob*… it’s… well…  I’ve… I’ve…

I’VE RUN OUT OF YARN!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t know what I was thinking.  I’m easily 3 or 4 skeins short.  I’m not even halfway through the first sleeve, and I’m completely out of yarn.  UGH!

So much for planning.  Sigh.

I’m off to the Knit Picks website to order some more and hope the dye lots aren’t too far off.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Have you ever seriously miscalculated on one of your projects?  Ugh!

Yarn spotlight: Lindy Chain

Aah, nothing like curling up on a cold Februrary morning with a big basket of chunky wool and a pair of needles, ready to make that oversized, insanely cozy sweater.

So, that’s why I’m currently thinking about fingering-weight linen, and light, gauzy garments.  What can I say, I’m fickle.

I want to introduce you to Lindy Chain!  (Fair warning, KnitPicks gave me a bunch of this yarn for free when I did some design work for them, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt, but I swear I’m telling the truth!)

5420254[1]Lindy Chain is an interesting yarn, perfect for summery, drape-y things like tank tops and light sweaters.  I could even see making a sun dress or skirt out of it!

This yarn isn’t just spun, like a regular yarn, it’s actually a teeny tiny thread crocheted (or possibly knit) into  a chain, like this:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis open, loose structure give the fabric you knit with Lindy Chain a beautiful, summery drape.  It’s gorgeous!

Interestingly, though, when you wash and dry this fabric, it shrinks up like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  (And I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to hand-wash a tank top.  Sorry, but I’m not made that way.)  So, be sure to wash and dry your swatches if you plan on washing and drying your finished product.

So, there it is!  Lindy Chain!  (And later this week, I’ll have a free pattern for this pretty-cool yarn!)

Funfetti Yarn

From time-to-time I like to stretch my fiber-arts legs and try out something other than knitting (heresy, I know!).  Sometimes, I roll out the ol’ spinning wheel and, well, take it for a spin.

This time, I impulse-purchased a big bag of bright white roving, and little tufts in a dozen bright rainbow colors.  I couldn’t tell you what kind of fiber I bought, because, well, it’s taken me more than four months to finish this skein, and any notes or labels I might have had when I purchased the wool are long gone.

I spun the roving into singles with alternating long white stripes and short-ish (about 3 feet long) sections of random color.   Then, last week, I finally plied the yarn into more than 250 yards of squishy 2-ply loveliness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK, it’s not perfect…  I did my best to keep the yarn an even aran-ish weight, but with the weeks-long breaks between bouts of spinning, and my less-than-stellar spinning skills, the yarn ended up with a bit of a thick-and-thin consistency.  And my first attempt at 2-ply yarn left it with less-than-perfect evenness.  Oh well!  It gives the yarn character, right? Right?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADespite it’s quirks, I’m happy with this yarn… now I just have to figure out what to make with it.  (Or maybe I should just keep it to look at.)

Have you ever tried spinning?  How did it turn out?

Yarn Spotlight: Island Fibers

So last week, when I told you about Lopez Island, I kind of buried the lead.  Sure, there were seals, and beautiful scenery and all that.  But what about the yarn?

Lopez is home to flocks and flocks of lovely island sheep.

And where there are lovely island sheep, there is lovely island yarn.

Island Fibers, to be precise.

We stopped at a farmer’s market and I picked up a huge (I’m talking gigantic) skein of gorgeous hand-dyed single-ply wool in subtle shades of blue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI spent a couple hours winding it into a ball this weekend (it’s that big).  So now, I’ve got a fantastic nearly-head-sized ball of yarn that’s itching to be used.

I’m thinking it might have to end up being a cropped cardigan to be worn over my favorite summer dresses.  (When you live in Seattle, you get used to wearing cute sun dresses with thick tights, rain boots and winter coats.  Otherwise, you never get to wear them.)

I made up a swatch, and it is just the prettiest!   Look at those colors!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd at 4-ish stitches to the inch, I bet the sweater will just fly off the needles!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen’s the last time you bought a skein of yarn on the spur of the moment?

Yarn Spotlight: Preciosa

On my trip to California, I decided I needed a simple project.  One I could throw in my purse and work on in the car or at the beach.  Something that I didn’t have to worry about counting stitches, changing colors, grafting, or otherwise fiddling with.

So, Hitchhiker Scarf it is.

And, as luck would have it, a few days before we left on our trip, I received a surprise package in the mail from the lovely folks at KnitPicks (I love that this is part of my job now!).  And what was to tumble out, but a lovely, squishy skein of their newest yarn, Preciosa in Bonsai, a  glorious forest-green.

5420278Preciosa is a worsted-weight, single-ply merino yarn that is crazy soft and squishy.  It’s available in 16 semi-solid colorways.  It reminds me of Malibrigo or Manos del Uruguay, but not quite as dense.   It would be perfect for any close-to-the-skin accessories, and a cozy sweater in Preciosa would be absolutely amazing for deep winter in the Great White North.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy Hitchiker, which I knit on slightly larger needles (US 10s, although the yarn calls for US 7-9s), has fantastic drape and is delightfully soft.  It feels totally luxurious.   I just wish it were cold enough in Seattle to warrant wearing a scarf.  (First world problems, right?)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat would you use Preciosa for?