Category Archives: Yarn

The Next Knitting Challenge: Sparkle!

When last we heard from her, yarnyMarni was eagerly awaiting a weekend of new yarn, new patterns, and new needles, to properly kick off the early Spring that seems to have embraced the tri-state area.  Let’s catch up with her now and see what exciting things she’s created:

Oh dear...

I had such lofty goals of starting The Cider House Rules Vest last weekend, but it was not to be.  You see, there was a yarn issue.  The pattern calls for Classic Elite‘s Mistral (85% pima cotton, 15% superfine alpaca).  Sounds nice, huh?  Well, I’m sure it was… but it’s discontinued now.  So I need to substitute, and this is always challenging for me, because choosing a suitable alternate that’ll have similar hand, drape, and gauge is kind of hard when you’re not familiar with every yarn on the market.  So I called in Dori The Expert, who, after asking me about my preferences, recommended Tahki YarnsCotton Classic Lite (100% mercerized cotton).  However, she didn’t have enough of the stuff on hand in any color to begin the project, and would order whatever color I wanted… after she returned from her vacation.  In Hawaii.  Sometime next week.  But I could, of course, get my gauge swatch going in any color she had that pleased me.  I liked the blue… see above.  I’m certain, though, that my husband will not choose blue for his vest.  Stay tuned as we ponder over shades of gray and green.

Meanwhile, I’ve had time to think about the next project for me.  I still love the Primavera Cardigan and the Satin Ribbons Tee, but recently I’ve been re-introduced to Sparkle:

Wow!

This seriously gorgeous dress, designed by Shirley Paden, was published back in 2007 in Vogue Knitting‘s Silver Anniversary issue.  After reading some amazing success stories about knitting this thing on Ravelry, I started thinking that maybe… if I was really diligent… I could knit this up in time for a big party I’m attending next month.  I mean, I knit not one, but two Lace Jackets in a month, so I could pull this off in about a month also, right?  Wellllllllllllllll… probably not, mainly because my LYSs don’t carry the yarn – Skacel Collection, Inc.‘s Karat (rayon/polyester metallic).  But… this would look really good on me… and Lord knows, no one else would be wearing anything remotely like it to said party…

Anyone know where I can get 14 skeins of Karat super-fast?

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Deep In The Planning Stage.

Alrighty… it’s now been about 2 weeks since I burned my hand, and I’m healing quite nicely.  Many, many thanks to everyone who posted, Tweeted, texted, and called to wish me a speedy recovery – I’m humbled by the outpouring of care, and ever so grateful for it.

My friend and fellow blogger Karen suggested that I use the down time to plan upcoming projects, and that’s exactly what I did.

1.  A Vest For My Husband
Last year was spent knitting either socks or incredibly intricate pullovers and lace jackets.  There was no in-between – it was either one side of the knitting spectrum or the other.  In December, I said to my very patient husband that I hadn’t knit him anything other than socks in a while, and before I could finish the thought he blurted, “A VEST!  I want a tweedy, button-front vest!”

So I started trolling Ravelry for a tweedy, button-front vest, and chose about 5 patterns that I thought he’d like.  After showing him each one, he chose The Cider House Rules Vest, by Linda Daniels, owner of Northampton Wools in Northampton, MA.  But… the pattern isn’t offered as a download.  The pattern also isn’t offered on the shop’s website.  The pattern is offered through Interweave Knits Fall 2000 issue… which I don’t have.  Now what?

The Cider House Rules Vest. Picture by Ravelry user purlingswine.

Problem easily solved:  I emailed Linda Daniels to ask about buying the pattern.  She emailed me back the next day – all I have to do (and you can do the same, if you want the pattern) is send $6.00 to the store, and she’ll mail the pattern out.  And so, with the proverbial check in the mail and a satisfied, Cheshire Cat smile plastered across my  husband’s face, I await said pattern.  Next challenge:  choosing the yarn.

2.  Socks For Me
I was certain that I was going to take a well-deserved holiday from sock-knitting this year.  After all the pairs I made last year (5, plus learning how to darn), I thought I’d concentrate on other knitted items, like cowls and shawls and vests, etc.  But then Dori gave me a skein of Lorna’s Laces Solemate for Hanukkah, in my very favorite colors.  Yes, I could use it to make something other than socks.  But no.  I must… make… socks.  I must.

Pretty sock yarn = pretty socks.

But which socks?   This amazing yarn needs an equally amazing pattern, and there are, like, a gajillion of ’em out on Ravelry alone.  After multiple searches and many days, I’ve decided on these:

This is Skew, designed by Lana Holden, picture by Richard Layton. How insane are these???

So not only am I knitting socks again, but I’m knitting socks from the toe up (which I’ve never done), using a cast-on I’ve never heard of, using the Magic Loop method (which I’ve never done), with many design features that will demand my full concentration, every step of the way.  But hey… if mine turn out like the picture, it’ll be SO worth it, right?

3.  More Socks For Me
Seriously???  Remind me never to say things like, “This year, I’m taking a break from socks.”  So futile.

As I searched and searched for the perfect pattern to use for my Solemate sock yarn, my daughter sweetly asked, “Why do you need a pattern?  Why don’t you just make one up?”

Why, indeed.

Flashback to The 2012 PA Farm Show Fleece To Shawl Contest.  As the teams were setting up, I went over to chat with my friends from Sugar Valley Rural Charter School, The Sugar Valley Shepherds.  They proceeded to bowl me over with a gift of sock yarn and a card that I’ll keep forever, for coming out to their school to interview them.  So unnecessary, but SO appreciated!

This is Regia 4-fädig (4-ply) sock yarn, given to me by The Sugar Valley Shepherds.

I can’t knit just any sock pattern with this.  I think the only thing I can do to honor the spirit of this gift is… to design my first sock pattern.  The name of the pattern will be Sugar Valley.  But you’ll have to tune in to see what they look like.


… and that’s not all.  I’ve got more planned, like knitting 10 pairs of Welted Fingerless Gloves for my “eldest daughter” (aka our babysitter) to give as gifts for Christmas 2012.  But that’s enough planning for now… time to watch some backlogged episodes of The Big Bang Theory.  And dream about socks.

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If Your Name Is Jessica, Don’t Read This Until After Christmas.

Sorry, Jessica, but if you continue reading, you’ll ruin the surprise that is your Christmas gift.  The one that my daughter handed you in the cute little holiday gift bag at your Open House.  The one that your daughter took and placed under your tree.  So stop reading now.  I wanna show everyone else what I gave you.  Final warning.

Everyone who isn’t Jessica:  here’s one of the reasons why I haven’t posted in a while:

Fingerless gloves made with Manos del Uruguay's Silk Blend. Awesome doesn't even begin to describe 'em.

I can’t recommend this pattern enough.  This is Churchmouse Yarns and TeasWelted Fingerless Gloves, a very easy and satisfying project, perfect for that last-minute gift (which this wasn’t.  This was planned.  Yes it was, Jessica!) or for any reason, really.  This was my first time using Manos del Uruguay‘s Silk Blend, and it absolutely won’t be my last.  This yarn is just gorgeous, whether you’re referring to the color(s) or the quality or the hand or the stitch definition… and it’s a Fair Trade product to boot.

Ok, but these mitts only took me 2 days to knit.  So what else have I been up to?

I’m knitting another pair of these:

SWTC Tofutsies socks... again.

This 2nd pair of SWTC‘s Tofutsies socks is for my daughter’s best friend… because best friends should have matching socks.  That’s what my daughter told me, and really, I have to agree.  The trick, though, is to somehow convince the Great and Powerful Knitting God(dess) that if s/he allows me to finish these without running out of yarn, I’ll never ask for any other knitting miracles ever again.  Ever.  Again.

And if that weren’t enough, I’m about 85% finished with another one of these:

Really? Another one?

The second one is black, a la:

From Vogue Knitting's Early Fall 2011 issue... remember?

Here’s the story about this whole Lace Jacket thing.  When I first saw this pattern, I immediately thought of my friend Amy.  This woman is kind, generous, extremely intelligent, and gorgeous (and I should mention here that all of that describes Jessica, too.  Sigh… I strive to be in that club.).  I had wanted to knit something special for Amy for a while, and I decided that this would be it.

Then it dawned on me that there was another woman in my life who could be described the same way, who was equally deserving of a piece of knitted art.  Even though my mom’s an excellent knitter who could probably tackle this project, she’s been so busy moving into a new house that she hasn’t had any time to pick up her needles.  And I think she’d look great in this as well.  So when my SIL offered to order me some Tilli Tomas Symphony Lace for this project (she doesn’t stock ArtYarns, which is what the pattern calls for), I ended up ordering 2 skeins.  And then I knitted like a fiend to get both done for the holidays.  Now, I wouldn’t recommend this course of action to anyone, under any circumstance, ever, but… I gotta say, I kinda rock for gettin’ it done.

The last thing that’s been keeping me away from my blog… and often, my knitting, is this:

A present for my daughter, which turned into a present for me as well.

The Hanukkah present that keeps on giving… the XBox 360 250 GB Kinect.  I knew my daughter would love it.  I didn’t know that I would love it just as much.  Serious, serious fun… if you haven’t tried one of these things, go into your local Best Buy and try it out.  Don’t worry about looking like an idiot – no one cares because they all want a turn, too.

So… next on the list, I’m trying to set up an interview with an amazing bunch of students who are competing in the Fleece To Shawl Contest at the 2012 PA Farm Show.  I’m hoping to go visit them the first week of January, so stay tuned – it’ll be a great interview.

Gonna go knit now… stop laughing, Jessica, I totally hear you!

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Were YOU This Productive Today?

Look what I did over my lunch break today!

I ate Jell-O with my feet on the table!  Ummm, no… that’s not it… let’s zoom in a bit…

Ohhhhhh… I finished the socks for my daughter!  Finally!  They came out great – love the crazy pastel yarn.

I also finished coding and testing that major project at work.  But the socks are way cooler.

 

 

 

 

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Love Yarn? You’ll Love Yarn-Love.

Aaaaaaaaahhhh… that’s better.  My spirit has healed quite a bit after the day I had today.

I started at Park Avenue Salon and Spa where I treated myself to a massage, facial, and new makeup.  Getting there was interesting since Hershey is undergoing some kind of major infrastructure renovation, and all the direct routes are completely dug up – nothing but orange barrels and flashing caution lights for as far as the eye can see down Hersheypark Drive.  But once I navigated all of that, everything else was fantastic.  The staff was warm and friendly, the spa itself was cozy and serene, and I never felt rushed or neglected… even after being there for 2 hours.  This spa has some stiff competition, too – The Hotel Hershey, which is less than 5 minutes away, has their own spa, which I’ve also visited, and it’s quite the 5-Star Facility, let me tell you.  But personal attention is a big factor in my shopping/spa experiences, and since Park Avenue excelled at this, I’ll be making another appointment there very soon.

Next, I made my way to yarn-love, Hummelstown’s LYS (that’s Local Yarn Shop, for my non-knitting readers).  Finding this shop was a bit of an adventure as well, because the road that it’s on kind of splits, and you have to drive down the part that looks residential until you see the little shop sign, directing you down a gravel path… and then you’ve made it.  And it’s well worth it.

I was greeted by Shea Leonard, who explained the layout of the store (by yarn weight – makes choosing yarn easy when you know what kind of project you’re shopping for) and was ready to answer questions about pretty much anything, as evidenced by the numerous patrons who came in while I was there.  The yarn they carry is, simply, the best quality that’s out there.  Manos del Uruguay, Noro, Tahki Stacy Charles, Madelinetosh, Louisa Harding, Elsebeth Lavold… I could go on, but why when it’s obvious that this store knows good yarn?

After taking a few laps around the shop, and after much rationalizing, I bought

  • 1 pair Addi Turbo 32″ circular needles, size 7;
  • 1 set Clover DPNs (that’s Double Pointed Needles, again for my non-knitting readers), size 5;
  • 1 skein Manos del Uruguay Silk Wool Blend, in a variegated palette than can best be described as “Autumn Leaves”;
  • 1 pattern for quick, easy, but really lovely fingerless mitts;
  • 1 really cute emery board with sheep on it, because I never have one of these when I need it, which is usually when I’m knitting and my brittle nails keep snagging my yarn.

And, since I packed all of these goodies away in The Bag Your Bag Could Be Like instead of a store bag that would eventually end up in a landfill, I was entered into a drawing for a $10 gift card… now that’s a great incentive to Go Green, isn’t it?  All in all, I absolutely loved yarn-love, I’ll definitely be visiting again (and again… and again…), and if you’re even remotely near Hummelstown, do stop in for a visit… you will NEVER be sorry.

Ok… so now half a day has passed, and half my paycheck as well, so I went home, had lunch… and promptly fell asleep on the couch.  I awoke to my daughter’s loud complaints of hunger and boredom, to which my husband and I decided, “Let’s spend even more money… and go out on the town!”  We ended up eating dinner at our local market, and then, a real treat – movie night!  We saw “Puss In Boots,” which was great fun for all of us.  I mean, really… what’s not to love about listening to Antonio Banderas for 1½ hours (my husband would change that to Salma Hayek, natch)?

And that’s the end of my super-awesome, terrific-yet-expensive, karma-healing day.  Hope your Saturday was equally amazing.

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