Thursday, February 28, 2008

Digging Deep

Since my knitting time has been very limited these days, I decided to dig deep into the recesses of my closet to find an old project to share with you. Since I've been talking about adding a merino and tencel blend to my line, I decided to pull out a project made with just such a blend (although a sportweight rather than sock weight yarn).

This is a sweater that I knit several years ago, based on a pattern that I can't put my hands on right now, but that I think was from Gedifra.

The sweater in the pattern as written was much looser fitting and larger. It also had a boatneck of some sort if I recall correctly and there was no detail at the hem or neckline. I very much liked the basic stockinet body combined with the slightly bell-shaped openwork sleeves, but I tightened up the fit, switched the neckline and added the details to the neck and bottom.

It's one of my all-time favorite sweaters. It fits really well and is very comfortable and quite pretty. I wish my husband could have gotten a better photo, but we just couldn't seem to get the lighting to cooperate. We ended up getting the best shots in the dim lighting in his workshop (thus the lovely background of wood and a hose in the photo above).
With the bright, natural light today (yes, that's right . . . it's sunny today here in Oregon!), most of the photos came out with a bizaare swirling effect that looks a bit like a giant thumbprint across the sweater. Isn't it odd?

(And yes, that's me in the photo above, looking even more ghostly white than usual with the bright sun and strange camera behavior.)

Despite the bad photos, I think you can at least in the first two photos see a bit of how the yarn drapes nicely and has a very subtle bit of sheen to it.

Perhaps next time I'll have something current to share with you, but for today we'll have to live with these "past moments."

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Double Dose of Goodness

Before I dive into today's project features, I want to thank all of you for participating in my "new sock yarn" poll. Your input is very much appreciated! (If you haven't seen the poll yet, scroll down to my prior post for details.) Now on to the Monday projects . . .

I have two projects today, both made from patterns by the amazing Anne Hanson of KnitSpot. First up is the Hypotenuse Scarf knit by Kathleen using FF Sportweight Cashmere in the Endless Night colorway:

Isn't it glorious?! Kathleen is blogless, but you can get a glimpse of her lovely work on Ravelry. She's katrog. (If this project is giving you the urge for some FF Cashmere, I must warn you that my cashmere stock is almost entirely depleted right now. I know many of you are anxious for more and I do plan to focus on it again this spring.)

The next project is a pair of Rococo Socks knit by Mandy using FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Smoke colorway.

The socks look fantastic! Here's another shot so that you can see more of the lovely detail:

Take a journey over to Mandy's blog to see more of her work.

Thank you to Kathleen and Mandy for sharing their gorgeous photos! My knitting time has been sorely lacking these last couple of weeks, but these projects have me itching to do something about that.

Everyone have a fabulous start to your week!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Got Two Cents?

I've been keeping an exciting little behind-the-scenes secret from all of you that I'm ready to talk about today! Hold onto your hats. Are you ready?! Here goes . . .

I'm planning on adding a new sock yarn to my line! Now, before anyone gets concerned, rest assured that my current sock yarn is not going anywhere. I know some of you like to hear occasional bits of "knitty" gritty details that go on behind the curtain, so I'll let you in on a bit of my thinking about this and also ask for your two cents (see poll to the right, but be sure to read the details here first or scroll down to the middle of the post for the summary info on each yarn).

First of all, a bit about my current Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn. When I selected this yarn for my line, it was with a very specific goal in mind. I actually wanted to appeal to a segment of the knitting population rather than to the broadest group possible. This is somewhat contradictory to what most indie yarn sellers do, but it made business sense to me. My thinking was that it made more sense to fill an underserved niche than to appeal to as many people as possible. I didn't want to have just another sock yarn that was the same as all of the others.

I chose my current Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn specifically because it was a very lightweight, 2-ply sock yarn. The average sock yarn is a bit thicker. Although many knitters prefer a weightier sock yarn, both for the quicker-knit appeal as well as long-term durability, there are also many who prefer lightweight sock yarns. The fine gauge gives a wonderful canvas for complex stitchwork and the finished sock is also a "real" sock. Some heavier sock yarns yield a sock that doesn't fit well into tighter fitting shoes. I know this was a pet peeve of mine several years ago. Back when BMFA first started out, they had only one weight of sock yarn. I knit quite a number of pairs of socks with it and every single one ended up relegated to bedwear only because they were simply too thick to wear with any of my shoes. (This has long since been rectified with BMFA's range of sock yarns now.)

Anyhow, that's a bit of the story of the original sock yarn. It's worked out very well. I have a loyal following of fans of my sock yarn. There are also quite a number of indie dyers out there now who carry lighter weight sock yarns, so I think I was on the mark when I judged a couple of years ago that there was a need for more of these options.

Now, with my business two years old and going strong, it's about time for me to expand the options to a more universally appealing sock yarn. I've been on the hunt for a perfect yarn.

This yarn hunt is more challenging than one might imagine. There are so many things to consider that go well beyond the yarn itself. Of course, the yarn needs to fit the bill in terms of quality, weight, durability, softness, stitch definition, etc. But there are other considerations also. Price, of course, is one. (I'm OK with having a higher-priced sock yarn if needed, but there needs to be a reason. In my review these past few months, I've seen way too many sock yarns that are very nice merino, but nothing better or more "special" than what I carry now, but carrying a ridiculous price tag. This is not okay with me. A higher price is fine, but it still needs to be a good value in terms of what you actually get for the money.) Another consideration is the supplier. Can they deliver the goods on a consistent basis without frequent backorders and delays? Is the quality of the product consistent from the mill? You'd be amazed at some of the things I've learned in this process. One base yarn in particular that is widely known and loved yielded some interesting info. This particular yarn (which shall remain nameless) is a lovely quality yarn, although I always thought it was overpriced by indie dyers. I learned why. The quality of the end product is great, but the consistency from the supplier is not. Every batch, it seems, has several pounds that are full of knots or bad patches and end up in the waste pile. The time it takes for quality control with this yarn plus the cost of waste ends up driving the price up. Again, this is not acceptable to me. I'm OK charging a bit more if my customers are *getting* more for that price. I'm not OK with charging more because of supplier inconsistency.

Alright. Are you bored to death now? Let me get on with it and ask for your input. I've narrowed it down to three options, each with their own pros and cons. I do have a bit more research on the supplier issues and also some price negotation to make my final decision, but I'd love to hear from you about your preferences. I can't promise I'll go with your favorite, as there are so many factors that are important, but your voices do matter!

So here's the rundown, in no particular order:

OPTION ONE - Superwash Merino: This is a 100% superwash merino wool that is quite similar in terms of the actual fiber to the one I carry today. The distinction is that it is more tightly plied, which means the yarn is thicker. It knits comfortably on a size 2 needle (perhaps a 1 if you have a loose hand).

Pros of the superwash merino:

  • In a sense, it's a known-quantity. If you like my current superwash sock yarn, this is just a nice alternative that will knit up quicker and have a bit more durability.
  • The price is right. I can likely bring this yarn to you at the same price as my current sock yarns.
  • The supply chain is solid. It comes from a supplier I've worked with and know that I can rely on for a steady supply of quality product.

Cons of the superwash merino:

  • It's just not all that different. This isn't necessarily a con really, but I am of the mind that it would be nice to have something with a different fiber content and more differentiation.
  • The tighter ply on this yarn may be just a bit too tight in my opinion. It's not a big problem, but it is really tightly spun and can occasionally have the tendency to want to coil in on itself while you're knitting.

OPTION TWO - Merino/Tencel: This is a 50/50 blend of merino and tencel. It's got a nice, firm ply but not so firm as to be overly "twisty." It will knit nicely on #2 needles.

Pros of the merino/tencel:

  • It's just a flat-out nice yarn. If you've never worked with a quality merino/tencel blend before, it really is a nice yarn to work with. I went on a binge with the stuff a few years ago and made quite few projects, including two sweaters and a huge shawl.
  • The yarn will yield a strong fabric when knit at a tight gauge and will have a lovely drape when knit at a slightly looser gauge. It also has a nice sheen to it. Overall, this makes it a versatile option for uses beyond socks. (Of course, all sock yarns can be quite versatile, but I think the sheen and drape make this option a little more of a standout for versatility.)

Cons of the merino/tencel:

  • Price might be an issue. The base price is a bit higher, although not hugely so. My biggest concern is actually one that is behind-the-scenes and that is how the yarn is put up. If I have to buy it in cones and break it down into skeins, that will drive the labor up substantially and thus the cost. I'm accustomed to paying a bit of a premium to have my base yarns put up in the skein sizes I want, but this may not be a possibility or may be too costly with this supplier. Time will tell. If I go with this yarn, I would like to bring it to you at no more than $2 or $3 dollars more than my current sock yarn. Although this is still a solid price compared to some, it is still a higher price and that is always a con.
  • Supplier uncertainty. Again, this is just a behind-the-scenes matter, but the supplier is new to me. I've done my homework and everything checks out very favorably, but there's always a degree of risk with a new supplier.

OPTION THREE - Merino/Nylon: This is a 75% wool and 25% nylon sock yarn that knits up on a #2 needle.


  • I know many folks prefer the nylon content in a sock yarn, as it does improve durability and long-term wear.
  • I can bring this to you at the same price as my current sock yarns.


  • I'm not sure there really are any cons necessarily, but for me personally, I just don't care for the merino/nylon blends all that much. This is entirely a personal matter though and I'm open to considering this. I've looked at quite a number of different merino/nylon blends and the one I've selected as my top choice is pretty nice. It's just not so soft and luxurious as what I prefer in a yarn. It's more of a "workhorse" yarn in my view. I don't see this as a particularly versatile yarn. In my view, it's a sock yarn. Period.

And so there you have it. Care to share your two cents? Use the poll in the upper right to provide an answer. Comments are also very much appreciated!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Twist for a Monday

For today's customer project feature, I have another version of the Cable & Twist Fingerless Mitts.

Cindy knit these mitts with FF Superwash Merino Wool Sportweight Yarn in the Imagine colorway. The pattern is from my shop, but Cindy chose to make them fingerless gloves rather than mitts. She also modified the thumb to a 1X1 rib. That's a modification that I think some folks would choose. For me and for my test knitter, the stockinette thumb fit well, but adding a rib to the thumb is an easy modification if you find the thumb too large (either because the wearer has a smaller thumb or because some folks will find themselves knitting at a slightly looser gauge when going around the small circumference of the thumb stitches).

Didn't Cindy do a lovely job?! You can see lots more of Cindy's knitting on her blog. Pop on by and have a look around.

This is an especially fun project for me to see, as Cindy is one of the few customers that I've had the pleasure of meeting in person. She lives right in the same town as I do and we met during a knitting meetup for Portland area bloggers at a LYS. Perhaps I'll have the chance to see her and the other grand gals in the Portland blogger group again in a couple of months. The Yarn Harlot is coming to town and the Portland bloggers are planning an outing. It should be great fun! It will be hosted by Blue Moon Fiber Arts (they're local here also) and will be held at our local Forestry Center. I've managed to miss the Harlot each time she's been in town, so perhaps this time I'll make it there!

A big Thank You to Cindy for sharing her project!

Everyone have a great day!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Heart Day

For this post, I have two Valentine's Day projects to share with you. First, there's my "Be My Valentine" cashmere sweater. You remember this work-in-progress:

I got busy on it this week and finished up the front piece. Here's how it now looks:

Yep. That's right. I frogged it. The back piece is still in tact, but I had to frog the front. When I finished the front, I decided to seam the shoulders together right away, even though it really needed a good blocking. Since I had been a bit concerned about the size and fit, I thought seaming the shoulders would help me get a better idea about the fit.

The good news is that the overall fit seems fine. The only problem I found as I stood before the mirror with the pieces hanging from my shoulders and the sides tucked beneath my arms at my sides, was that it looked just a half inch or so too short. I want it to fall just below the waist, but not down near the hips. If you imagine the waistband of a pair of jeans, I want the sweater to end just at the bottom of the waistband. Any lower and I would run the risk of the cable and rib section expanding out further to fit my hips and ruining the slimming effects of the pattern. Any higher and I would run the risk of baring my belly button anytime I reach for something. That wouldn't be such a bad thing, except that . . . well, my belly just ain't what it used to be, ya know?

Anyhow, as I examined the fit in the mirror, I found myself wishing that I'd made it about a half inch longer. Then I turned around and glanced over my shoulder and saw that it indeed looked about a half inch longer in back. After removing the partially completed garment and examining it closely, I realized that indeed the front was about a half inch shorter than the back. At the very, very beginning of the cabled pattern I had left off one side of an X portion of the X & O cabled pattern.

Ah well. At least I can feel reasonably comfortable now about the fit. And I am very much enjoying knitting with the cashmere, so it's not such a terrible task to have to knit the front piece again.

My other Valentine's Day project was one in the kitchen. I was at the grocery store yesterday, surrounded by lots of Valentine's Day cakes and cookies and such, when I was suddenly struck with the bright idea that I would bake a Valentine's Day cake for my husband. I knew it would surprise him, since we don't celebrate any holidays. (Yes, you heard me right. No birthdays. No Christmas. No Thanksgiving. No Groundhog Day. It's just the two of us, with no family in the area, and we're just not the holiday sort.)

I quickly realized that it was not a very realistic plan to bake a cake. First off, I should mention that I don't cook. In fact, I'm a really terrible cook. I made something the other day that was so awful that I threw the whole pan of it out into the backyard. When my husband got home that day, he was very concerned and asked me if I felt alright. Apparently, he thought I had been out heaving in the backyard. This is the quality and visual appeal of my cooking. But I digress . . .

Although I'm a terrible cook, I can actually manage to bake something successfully from time to time. Being much more formulaic, baking is more up my alley. In my current kitchen, however, I was not very confident with the idea. The oven is so old that it seemed a toss up as to whether it would maintain an even enough heat to bake something properly. My kitchen implements are limited (what would I do if I needed a sifter?!). And to top it off, I was in the grocery store at the time, without a recipe in mind or in hand, and had no idea what I should buy. I don't even keep flour in the house, much less vanilla, baking powder or any other more unusual baking ingredients.

No, a cake from scratch was just not realistic on the spur of the moment. And so I bought a cake mix. And I bought a can of cream cheese frosting. And as a last minute bit of fun, I bought a tube of red cake icing.

I got home to find that I have no cake pans. I cleverly used a fairly shallow baking dish and thought all was well. That is, until after it cooled and I removed it from the pan. Yes, you guessed it. I broke and crumbled my sad little cake from a box.

No problem, I thought. I'll cover up the mess with frosting. Of course, as I frosted the broken cake, little crumbs mixed in everywhere and spread around making the cake look even worse. I thought it would be fine, since I could slap some extra frosting on to cover the bad spots when I was done. Hmmm. It seems that one can of frosting doesn't go very far. I barely had enough to cover the cake, much less to repair damage.

Then it was on to the red icing. Hmmm. Apparently, these tubes of icing no longer have pointy ends to the tube so that you can apply the icing directly from the tube (that's how I remember them from 30 years ago!). Now, the top is flat and so without a cake decorating attachment, it's like trying to spell something out with toothpaste.

In the end, I wound up with this:

It looks as though a seven-year-old whipped it up in an EasyBake Oven.

When my husband came home from work last night around 8:30, he followed his usual routine, sitting in the living room for about five minutes before announcing that he needed a snack. I followed him into the kitchen and stood by watching as he stared at the monstrosity I had left sitting on the counter. He slowly turned to me with a puzzled look and said, "Is it a brownie?"

I was literally doubled over with laughter. "I made you a Valentine's Day cake," I managed to say with tears of laughter rolling down my face.

My husband slowly smiled and began to laugh as well. He was relieved, I think, to see that I found the whole thing amusing. I think perhaps he was wondering how on earth he could thank me for this lovely gift with a straight face.

Ah well. I'll stick with yarn in the future.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Three Little Scarflets and the One That Started it All

The title of this post is the title of an e-mail I received from Suzy, with photos of four scarves she knit with FF yarn. It all began when Suzy knit this scarf for her son's girlfriend:

It's the Falling Water Scarf, knit in FF Laceweight Merino Wool Yarn in Golden Olive, knit doubled with two strands. Here's a close up of the lovely detail:

When the recipient's friends saw this lovely scarf, they were all eager to have one of their own. Who can blame them, with such a pretty piece!

Suzy complied and knit three little scarflets:

These are knit with FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Butterscotch, Sky & Clouds, and Prosperity colorways.

And another close up of the stitch detail:

What lovely work by Suzy (and what a great Mom to do all of that knitting for her son's friends!). You can read more about Suzy's knitting adventures on her blog.

Great Monday to all!

Thursday, February 07, 2008


I'm feeling a bit frustrated right now. I just wrote a nice long post and then Blogger ate it. It's gone forever and I simply don't have time to recreate it in its entirety. A condensed, quicky version will have to do!

First up, I wanted to share with you something totally unrelated to knitting, but too cute to keep to myself. This is my latest acquisition from an Etsy shop called Teresa's Ceramics:

Teresa pours and fires her ceramics from her garage studio and then handpaints them. Isn't this little leaf about the cutest thing you've ever seen? Well, perhaps not the cutest, because if you go to her shop you'll also find leaves with little faces painted in them, as well as various other creatures.

When we eventually have our house in order here (remodel and all that), I'll definitely head back to Teresa's shop to pick up a few more of these. They have little wire legs on the back, so they can sit happily on display on a mantle, end table or any other surface that cries out for a bit of something. I'm not usually much for doo-dads, but I really adore these little leaves. They fit in perfectly with the warm, autumn-leaf colors of my living room. Love it!

On the knitting front, I've been plugging away slowly at the red cashmere sweater and now have the back completed and the front almost done:

Terrible photo, I know. If you want to get a slightly better look at the stitch pattern, see my previous post about this project.

I'm enjoying this project, although I am still uncomfortable about the sizing. It looks so incredibly tiny! I keep stopping and measuring it and measuring myself, holding the pieces up to my body, and then starting the whole measuring ritual over again. Despite the fact that it looks so very small, I think it's going to work out. The edges are quite curled, making it look smaller than it is. The cable and ribbed portion has a huge amount of stretch to it. It's a fitted sweater, so should be small. The measurements really do seem right. But it looks SO SMALL. (Here's where I start my measuring ritual again.)

Only time will definitively tell how this one works out!

Alrighty. Enough chit chat. Time for me to get back to work. Great day to all!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Envy, Kindness and More!
I am pleased to introduce the next set of the Seven Holy Virtues sock yarns. “Kindness” is now available in my Etsy shop.

The sock yarn in the sin of Envy (from last year’s Seven Deadly Sins Sock Club) is also now listed and available.

Additionally, I’ve also listed a small quantity of Large Loop Mohair Boucle at an incredible price. This is a wonderfully soft and silky boucle, great on its own or mixed with other yarns to create visual interest and texture in a project. I used to have this yarn included in my standard line, but as the business grew I needed to narrow my focus to keep up with demand and so put this yarn on the backburner. I'm now slowly dyeing small batches and offering huge 1/2 pound skeins for $25. I need to make some room on the shelves!

Additionally, I’ve listed two Limited Edition colorways of Alpaca/Wool Yarn today. If you’re looking for something one-of-a-kind, there are only a few skeins of these Limited Edition colorways available and they will not be repeated again.

Everyone have a great day! Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, February 04, 2008

More Mitts

The fingerless mitts craze seems not to be slowing at all. Everytime I turn around, I see another pair of great fingerless mitts on someone's blog or Flickr or Ravelry. It's no wonder they're so popular, as they really are such a practical item for those of us with cold hands who still need our fingers free.

Today's project feature is - you guessed it - a pair of fingerless mitts:

These were knit by Melodie using FF Superwash Merino Wool Sportweight Yarn in the Deepest Forest colorway. The pattern is my very own FF Cable & Twist Fingerless Mitts Pattern, available in my Etsy shop both in pattern only form, as well as in kits with yarn and pattern.

What a lovely job by Melodie! You can see more of her knitting projects on Ravelry. She's "melthomas."

A big Thank You to Melodie for sharing the photos!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Lapping Waves Hat

Remember the cute little hat I made a few weeks ago?

I've got the pattern ready to go now and available in my shop. Before I finalized it, I wanted to first knit up another one in a larger size.

I wanted to knit the larger size since the crown and top decreases are significantly different in the larger sizes. This is necessary so that the stitch pattern flows nicely through the top of the head. I figured that I could still wear one in a slightly larger size, albeit the fit would be looser.

Well, I was right that I could get away with wearing the larger size, but my husband surprised me when he nabbed the hat for himself. The last hat I made for him is his "workshop" hat and so is usually too covered with sawdust to wear outside the boundaries of the workshop. He saw the brown "Lapping Waves" hat and immediately put it on and declared it his own.

I hadn't really thought previously of the hat as being a unisex hat, since technically one could consider the detail to fall into the category of "lace." Now that I've seen that my husband wears it without a thought or hesitation, I think it's fair to say that it's a unisex hat. (That's not really lace anyway. It's just a few little holes that outline the pattern, right?)

I've made some progress also on the red cashmere sweater that I started recently, but I'll save that update for a future post. Right now, my hat-stealing husband is cooking up a pasta dinner and I fear that I better head to the kitchen to lend a hand before something catastrophic occurs.

Everyone have a great weekend!