Tag Archives: yarn

More Socks

It seems like I’ve been on a sock kick (ha!) since the baby was born.  There’s something about a small, simple project that you’ve done a million times that’s very comforting.  It’s something I can pick up whenever I get a minute or two, but can then put down again when the little guy starts crying.  I’ve made so many socks over the years, that I could probably do them in my sleep.  (Which sometimes happens these days.)

Plus, it’s a great excuse to play with some beautiful, fancy yarn.  Like this:(Country Yarns Artistry, a hand-dyed super-dense sock yarn that I picked up at last fall’s Vogue Knitting Live.)

It’s even prettier in real life- all blues and greens and purples, vibrant and saturated.  (I can’t for the life of me figure out how to photograph intense blue yarn.  For some reason my camera always washes it out and makes it look all one-note.  I even tried Photoshop to correct the color, but it still doesn’t look great.  If anyone knows how to fix this, I’d love to hear it!)

Now, I love variegated yarn… when its in a skein or balled up, ready for knitting.  I visit a yarn store or a knitting expo, and I almost invariably leave with a skein or two of something hand-painted or dyed.  It’s irresistible!  But, then I get it home and start knitting and go “Eh.  It’s not as pretty as I thought it would be.” (I make a point of only sock yarn in variegated colorways these days.  It’s no big deal if the colors are a little bit brighter/sillier/tackier than I would normally wear.  )

But, this time I am pleasantly surprised.  Somehow, the pooling on this sock worked out really well!  It’s turned into a pretty blue-and-purple spiral, zooming down the broken seed stitch leg.Unfortunately, the heel has messed up the perfect spiral pattern.  Dang.

Hopefully the spiral will come back as I make my way further down the foot.  (And hopefully I can get the other sock to match!)  Fingers crossed!

Have you ever been surprised with how a new yarn works up?

Putting On My Thinking Cap

It’s been nice to be finished with my Papaya Sweater.  But it was on my needles for so long that I kind of got used to having it as my easy go-to when I had a few minutes of knitting time.  It was something that I always knew I could pick up and get to work on without thinking about what I had to do next.

Now that it’s done, I’ve actually got to put a little thought into what I’m going to do next.

I’ve already decided that I want to use the Provincial Tweed yarn that I got from Knit Picks.  It’s a beautiful colorway, it’s super soft, and I have enough for a whole sweater, so how could I say no?

I spent yesterday morning winding up all the skeins, and now I have a very satisfying bowl of yarn cakes, ready for action!And then, I spent the afternoon working up a nice-sized swatch on US8s.And, I gotta say… I was not expecting this yarn to make such lovely, silky fabric.

I’m not complaining, but I was really surprised how this yarn knit up.  I was expecting something with a little more texture, a little more stitch definition, but that doesn’t seem to be what this yarn wants to do.It’s possible that if I go down a needle size (or two or three), this yarn might get a little more backbone, but I don’t know if I want to futz with that.  It might be better to just go with the flow (or rather, go with the nice flow-y fabric that I’ve already got).

I had been planning on making some sort of  cabled pullover, something like this one (except maybe a little less fancy).  But, I don’t think that’s going to work with the texture of the Provincial Tweed yarn.Instead, I’m now thinking I might need to make something a little looser and drapier.  (And something that possibly looks a lot more like my Papaya Sweater than I had originally intended for this yarn.)  I might try a cardigan like this, or design something myself.I’ve got to put my thinking cap on for a bit and see if I can’t figure out what I should do.  (Or, in true Allison fashion, I could leave the yarn to percolate in my studio for the next six months or so before I ever actually knit anything with it.)

What would you do in this situation?

Yarn Spotlight: Provincial Tweed

I’m almost done with my Papaya Sweater!  I’ve only got one skein left to go!  Woo!

And, since I’ve spent the last month or so finishing off all my WIPs, I think I’m just about ready to start a new project. I can’t wait!  (Though I have very little idea of what I want to do next!)

I’ve got a big bag of some lovely new Knit Picks yarn calling my name.  (Full disclosure, this yarn was a gift to me from my friends at Knit Picks.)

I’ve got 10 skeins of their new tweedy worsted yarn, Provincial Tweed.It’s a surprisingly soft superwash highland wool that comes in a range of jewel-tone-y colors.  Usually highland wool is a little itchier- great for outerwear, but not something you want up against your skin, but they’ve done something with this yarn to make it super smooth and cozy.  Plus, each colorway features a two-toned marled effect (both plies of the yarn are different tones of the same color), which should give anything worked up with this yarn a really nice depth.

And, of course, they’ve added in a healthy dose of Donegal tweed!  I’m always a sucker for  tweed.

The yarn that I have in my stash is the lovely colorway, Frozen Pond, a really nice muted sapphire color with little pops of turmeric and plum tweedy bits.  I’m looking forward to winding up the skeins into balls and knitting up a swatch.  From the feel of the yarn, I think the fabric will be nice and sturdy (though I could be wrong).  I’m currently thinking of doing something with cables or other texture, but I’ll have to see how it knits up.  (Plus, I’m thinking cables might be a bit much for me in the coming weeks…  eep!)

What would you do with this yarn?

Vogue Knitting: The Damage

Woo!  What a weekend!

(Yes, I know it’s Wednesday.  My weekend went all the way through Monday, which is why I haven’t updated you on Vogue Knitting Live until now.)

The yarn show was amazing.  So much pretty yarn!  So many beautiful sweaters!  So many lovely people!

I visited the Knit Picks Booth and finally got to meet everyone I’ve been working with for the last couple years (we’ve been working via email and hadn’t met face-to-face yet).  And, I’m happy to report that everyone is just as lovely as I hoped.  (Although it was mega-weird for little ol’ introverted me to have people recognize my name, and pull out their WIPs of my projects!)

In fact, I had such a good time on Saturday, that I 100% forgot to take any pictures!  (I’m so bad at social media!)

I did, however drop a good bit of money on yarn, and yarn-adjacent accessories.  (I got mighty close to buying a $75 skein of alpaca, but just managed to control myself- it was just so pretty!)  Unfortunately for you guys, most of my purchases are earmarked to be Christmas gifts, and their recipients read this blog, so you won’t get to see those. (I promise, they’re super cool, though!)

Anyway, here’s my haul:Not too bad, if I say so myself!  (Sorry about the colors- it’s very overcast here (it is Seattle, after all), so I had a hell of a time taking pictures this morning.)  Two amazing skeins of sock yarn and an adorable set of buttons.

I got this skein of Country Yarns Presents Artistry, and when I showed it to my husband, and he said “Oh, it’s your colors.” Apparently my colors are teal, turquoise, blue and violet.  I can’t say he’s wrong.  This picture does not do this yarn justice- in real life it’s bright, vibrant, and very peacock-y.  I’m itching to start making some socks with it.

I’ve actually purchased Hazel Knits Artisan Sock before, and made a really lovely pair of broken rib socks in a beautiful, subtle charcoal/navy color.  I love those socks.

Unfortunately, my husband loves those socks, too.

So, I purchased this skein of electric-purple so I can have my own socks (since my husband won’t (probably) steal them).  We’ll have to see if it works.I forgot the name of the vendor that was selling these buttons- she had hundreds of resin buttons in every color in the rainbow.  Some were shiny, some were glittery, some had tiny flowers embedded inside them.  They were all beautiful.

I couldn’t pass up these little gorgeous guys.  They remind me of gumdrops or tiny hard candies.  I think they’d be fantastic on a little baby sweater, but they might end up on something for me, instead.  For now, they just look great hanging out on my desk.

I am so happy with my purchases, I can’t wait to get knitting with them!  Maybe I should put aside my Papaya Sweater again?  That thing’ll never get done at this rate!

Have you made any especially exciting purchases lately?

Vogue Knitting Live!

I’m so excited for this weekend, guys!  Vogue Knitting Live is coming to the PNW, and I get to go!  I’m driving across the lake with one of my best friends, and we’re going to spend the day petting yarn, talking knitting, and buying altogether too much yarn.

It’s going to be great!Now, when I go to a knitting show like this, I usually go in with no plan at all.  Maybe I’ll have a vague budget (“Allison, don’t spend more than a hundred bucks… unless you find something really pretty”), or maybe I’ll have a vague idea (“Let’s get a bunch of sock yarn this weekend”).  But, inevitably I end up going way above and beyond what I intend… not that that’s a bad thing.

When I buy a special skein of yarn at a yarn show, or even at a lys, I try to imagine what it might become- I generally try to think about how much I’ll need if I want to make a pair of socks (~100g), or a shawl or scarf (two or three skeins).  That way I won’t get halfway through a project in a couple months, and run out of no-longer-available yarn.  But that’s really my entire thought process.

My friend, however, has been planning out some patterns that she specifically wants yarn for.  She’s been sending me some very cute patterns that she’s planning on making with her Vogue Knitting yarn.  I love her foresight (as a very Type-A person, I love a good plan), but that seems like a lot of work.  I don’t see myself sitting down and coming up with a list of patterns before tomorrow, but that might be a good idea.  Maybe this evening I’ll make myself a cup of hot cocoa and go on a Ravelry bender (before going to bed early, so I have plenty of energy for shopping tomorrow!).

What’s your yarn-show strategy?

Papaya

Woo!  I’m free!  I finished all my “work knitting!” (For now, at least.)

It’s weird- it’s like that feeling I got back in college, right after Finals Week.  Every minute has been taken up with studying, or thinking you should study, or worrying that you’re not studying enough.  But they you finish your last exam, and BAM! you’ve got nothing particularly important to do.

It’s both very freeing and a little bit unsettling.

When I have that feeling, I like to go into my closet and see what kind of yarn I have waiting for me.  I’m not a huge “Stash Person.” I generally don’t go out and buy a big bag of yarn “just because.”  At most, I’ll buy a skein or two of sock yarn as a splurge, but that’s about it.

But, hidden deep at the bottom of a pile of yarn in the back of my closet, I found a treasure.

A bag of 11 balls of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport in Papaya Heather!I literally have no idea when I bought this, or what I bought it for.  It must have been years ago.  I almost never wear pink, and I never wear orange.  I don’t know what would have possessed me to buy so much of this shade.  (It really is pretty, but it’s just not a color I normally go for.)  Maybe it was on sale?

I’ve got 11 skeins, though. Which means I can make something cool.  A sweater maybe?  Or a smallish throw blanket?  Or a big shawl?

What do you think I should do with my surprise stash yarn?

Have you ever been surprised by what you found in your stash?

‘Round and ‘Round

I love getting a brand-new, squishy skein of yarn as much as the next knitter, but I also used to kind of dread it.  Un-raveling and balling-up a big (often tangled) skein is the absolute pits!  I used to have a whole system that involved two kitchen chairs, about an hour and a lot of swearing.

But then, for Christmas, my husband gave me one of my most favorite new tools!

My umbrella swift!  (I’m not sure which brand/model it is, but google “umbrella swift” and you’ll find a bunch.)

I always kind of wanted one, but never could justify buying one for myself.  After all, I didn’t need it.  I’d use it, if I had one, but not very often.  Also, they’re a little expensive- and I hate spending money.

So all that made this bad boy the perfect Christmas present.

And you know what?  I love it!  It’s the best!  It makes balling up yarn go so fast, and it’s super fun!

I undo the skein, taking off any scrap yarn that was used to keep the strands together, and put the big loop of yarn around the swift.  Then, I take the end of the yarn and attach it to the top of my ball winder, and away we go!  (Ignore the ugly avocado-green end table that I picked up from the side of the road.  It might not be pretty, but it’s very useful.)I get the ball winder spinning, and the swift twirls away, unraveling the skein without a single tangle!  It’s amazing.  This time, I balled 6 skeins of yarn in about 10 minutes.  That would have taken me hours without my umbrella swift!

Do you have a favorite not-technically-necessary-but-really-nice-to-have tool?

A Quickie

I’ve got a dilemma. OK, it’s not really a dilemma, just a decision I need to make. OK, it’s barely a decision, but I’d like your input.

I’ve finished my Chuck sweater (which went really fast, since I had the week off work).  It’s blocking out right now, and I’ll let you know how it turns out later this week.

My needles are empty (at least for the moment- I have some design work coming up).  I’ve got a little more time to knit for myself, and I’ve got a lovely skein of Tosh Merino Light that’s been looking at me for months.  It’s a gorgeous, dark navy(ish) blue, but it still manages to glow in the sun.  It’s so pretty, I couldn’t manage to get a good picture of it myself, so I’ll use the one from Madeline Tosh’s website.Ooh!  Aah!
So, here’s the question- What can I make with about 400 yards of fingering weight yarn and abut 1 week of time?

My first thought is, of course, socks.  After all, I always think about socks.  I love these socks in particular.  I made a pair of them last fall, but my husband claimed them out from under me.  I would love to make a pair for myself.  But, I think this yarn might be a little too fancy for socks- I don’t think I can get behind hand-wash-only socks.  (I’ll do a lot of things for knitwear, but I won’t do that.)

Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica LuederMy second thought is a shawl/scarf.  It’s been a minute since I knit up lace- I’ve been on a cables kick for the last year or so.  I could knit up a shawl like this one.  I worry about trying to adapt such a lovely shawl to a fingering weight, though.

Annis by Susanna IC

Oh, but you know what I need?  I need a lovely, comfy hat.  (Here I go being a project knitter again.)  Of course, I’ve got plenty of hats, but I could always use another one.  I’ve had short hair for years, but I started buzzing it off a few months ago-  my head is cold and I need a soft, casual, non-super-cold-weather hat.

I think this one might be the one.

Sockhead Slouch Hat by Kelly McClureWhat would you make with a skein of special yarn?  What should I make?

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?