Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Yarn Mystery

While working on preparing new colorways on my DK to Worsted yarns for the Fall, I encountered a yarn mystery. Mixed in with my supply of undyed Mohair/Wool was another type of yarn that was unknown to me.

At a quick glance and without close inspection, it looks a bit like my DK Mohair/Wool. In fact, I dyed some of this mystery yarn in a batch of the Mohair/Wool without realizing it. When I pre-soaked the yarn and as I worked with it during the dyeing process, I thought that there were a few short skeins in the batch. I didn't think much of it, as it does happen from time to time, but it did seem odd that there were a few skeins in this batch that were short.

It wasn't until the yarn was dry that it become apparent that this was most definitely a completely different yarn.

It's lighter weight than the Mohair/Wool which runs at about 240 yards per 4-ounces. This yarn is probably around 280 or so. It seems that it definitely includes mohair, but my guess is that there is a good dose of silk in the blend. It's unbelievably soft and silky with a great sheen. It has the fuzz of mohair, but not so much as to be really fuzzy.

I couldn't stop petting it! Just touching it I can tell that it will have a fabulous drape when knit. It is truly a glorious yarn. Sigh. I am in love!

Look at this floppy factor (that's a technical term):

This is soft, luxurious, drapey, splendid yarn!

And so now I am on a mission to solve this yarn mystery. I started by going to the sample set from the supplier from which it came. I expected to find the answer there. But alas, no. This is most definitely not part of their extensive line.

I then called the supplier and told them about it. They, of course, apologized for the problem and offered to take it back and replace it. My response was basically: Over my dead body! You'd have to pry it from my cold dead fingers!

I described the yarn as best I could and then set out sending them a sample so that they can try to trace it back to the mill from which it came and find out what it is. I have no idea if they'll be able to figure it out or - even if they do - whether I'll be able to purchase some. But oh how I want some to add to my line!

In the meantime, I went through my supply of undyed yarn and found a couple of pounds of this mystery yarn mixed in. Oooooohhhh! What shall I do with it?! Dye it, for sure, but then what? I'd certainly like to offer even a very small, limited run to my customers, but I'm not sure it's reasonable to sell a mystery fiber content. Keeping it for myself is certainly tempting, but it would have to be for gifts. Sadly, I am allergic to mohair. I can dye it. I can even knit with it for short spans at a time. But if I wear it, I wheeze and sneeze horribly and end up gasping for air in short order.

Wish me luck in solving the mystery! I'll keep you posted :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lace for a Summer Monday

For today's Monday project features, I have two lovely lace projects to share with you.

This is Vicki's Shetland Triangle Shawl by Evelyn Clark using FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Marrakesh colorway. Here's a closeup so that you can see the stunning detail:

You can see more of Vicki's work on her blog or on Ravelry where she is minstrelspinner. You can also get a glimpse of Vicki's glass bead stitched jewelry in her Etsy shop. So many beautiful things to see!

Next project up is Anne C.'s version of the Alhambra Scarf by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot.

Anne used FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Gluttony colorway for this lovely piece. Anne reports that it was like knitting with "a wooly caramel mocha latte." How much fun is that!? And take a look at the perfect stitchwork up close as the piece blocks:

You can see more of Anne's beautiful work on Ravelry where she is ABC.

Thank you to Vicki and Anne for sharing such lovely work! I get questions all the time from new knitters asking whether they might be able to use my Superwash Sock Yarn for lace projects. I guess Vicki and Anne have answered that question once and for all!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just Another Hat & Scarf

A couple of weeks ago I posted about a winter scarf I had started using my FF Heavy Worsted Merino Yarn. I've finished that now and also made a matching hat. As promised, I've got the pattern done and available as a free download in my Ravelry Pattern Shop.

The photos are pretty terrible and hardly show the lovely stitch pattern, but they'll have to do:

The stitch pattern is reversible, so the scarf is the same from front or back. I love the heavy textured look of the stitch, which rather resembles crochet (at least to my untrained-in-crochet eye).

After messing around with the hat design a bit, I decided to knit it on straight needles. With so much texture and complexity in the stitch detail, the seam is barely noticeable and knitting it on straight needles avoids having to do tons of P2TOG's which would be necessary if knit in the round. I have nothing against P2TOG's, but in this heavy yarn and knittng in the round on a 16" circular (which for me always feels a little tight and uncomfortable for the first couple of inches) it seemed too much effort for little gain. I like the hat just fine as it turned out.

Here's a closeup of the stitch detail that gives a better sense of it:

(The true color of the yarn is somewhere between how the photos turned out: not so dark or reddish as the first two photos and not so light and orange as the closeup.)
All in all, I'm pleased with how this turned out. It was a quick knit, with a comfortable rhythm and lots of bang for the buck in terms of visual complexity with minimal effort.

Hope everyone is having a great week and finding some time for knitting!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh So Beautiful

For this morning's "Monday project feature" I have a simply stunning stole to share with you!

This is Jamie's rendition of the Twinings Stole by Anne Hanson. Isn't it spectacular?!

Jamie used FF Laceweight Merino in the Golden Olive colorway (yet another colorway that I've recently put on the backburner and now itch to dye again after seeing this shawl!).

Check out the beautiful detail of the edging:

A big Thank You to Jamie for sharing her fabulous work. What a great way to start the week inspired to knit!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Perfect Feet

For today's customer project features, I have two pair of darling socks to show you. First up are Francesca's socks made with FF Classic Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Hendrix colorway.

Francesca reports that she was "so greedy for more knitted socks" that she did a plain pair. I have to say that I do love a plain pair of stockinet socks. They may not be the most fun to knit, but simple stockinet really is one of the most beautiful stitches. Doesn't every little stitch look just perfect?! Francesca used Stephanie Pearl McPhee's Basic Sock Recipe.

Next up are Emily's Charade Socks (pattern by Sandra Park), made with FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Spellbound colorway.

Check out the pretty little details closeup:

You can see more of Francesca's work on Ravelry where she is Skytender and more of Emily's on Ravelry where she is Cringer and also on her blog.

Lovely work by both gals! Thank you so much for sharing your photos!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Scarves are Tough

Am I the only one who finds it difficult to decide on a stitch pattern for a scarf? The thing about scarves is that they really are much more appealing (to me at least) when the pattern is reversible. Even if it isn't identical on the front and back, I really prefer a scarf in a pattern where there will be no wrong side and right side. (Lace is my exception for that, since it tends to take a closeup look to tell the difference beetween the two sides anyway.)

I suppose this is why ribbed scarves are so common. A ribbed stitch is an easy answer to the reversibility question. I can't think of any other reason that ribbed stitches would be so common for scarves. I can think of no reason to seek a stitch with horizontal stretch, so it must be the reversibility that appeals. Of course, there are a myriad of choices of ribbed stitches, but the bottom line is that there will always be lots of purling involved and I'm not just a fan of back and forth between knit and purl for the duration of a scarf.

There are also lots of options for reversible stitch patterns in the knit/purl vein that are not ribbed patterns. Basketweave and all its permutations. Chevron stitches and such. I suppose there really is no shortage of choices, but the ones that jump to mind all seem to fall into these usual categories.

I had it in mind to knit a scarf from a bulkier yarn; specifically, my FF Heavy Worsted Merino. Something with lots of texture and a not too crisp look stirred in my mind. And, of course, I wanted something reversible.

Yes, I just don't find scarves all that easy.

After quite a bit of swatching and thinking and hesitating, here's what I settled on:

It's difficult to make out the stitch pattern in the photo, but it's a bit crisper (but not too crisp :) in person and looks a bit like it's crochet rather than knit. Here's a closeup:

I rather like it so far and am even thinking that I should perhaps whip up a matching hat. It would make a nice set for my mother, although I had planned on this for myself since I'm a bit short on winter scarves. We shall see.

When complete, I'll whip up the pattern and share it (perhaps on Ravelry as a free download?).

That's about all the knitting I have for today. I've been enjoying zipping out these small projects lately. I still don't have tons of time for knitting, but at least with smaller projects I can have that sense of satisfaction of actually finishing something from time to time.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Fearless Diamonds

Before I dive into today's project post, a couple of quick "business" notes: Today is the final day of the free pattern offer with purchase. See my Shop Announcement for details on how to take advantage of that offer. I've also now added the new pattern to my shop for the hat I showed you last week. I named it "Intertwined Hat" to reflect the intertwining of colors created by the slip stitch pattern of the hat. (Scroll down to my last post for photo.)

Now on to the important stuff! Today I have a shawl to share with you that was knit by Monnie using FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Deepest Forest colorway.

The pattern is the Adamas Shawl by Miriam L. Felton, but Monnie calls it here "Fearless Diamonds" shawl :)

Here it is blocking, so you can really see the perfect details:

Fantastic job, Monnie! Thank you so much for sharing your photos!

You can see more of Monnie's lovely work on Ravelry (where she - you guessed it - Monnie).

Friday, July 04, 2008

I Love a Good Slip Stitch

I'm been pretty busy lately, but I did manage to squeeze in a bit of knitting.

I made this hat using two strands of my Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn held together, although single strands of sportweight would work equally well. The pattern is accomplished using slip stitches rather than stranded colorwork as with the recent fair isle projects I've done.

I have to say that I love using slip stitches, particularly for colorwork. This hat never uses more than one color on a given row and so it's a quick and easy knit, yet the end result has quite a bit of complexity. There's both color as well as texture to provide plenty of visual interest. I'll have the pattern for this hat ready to go soon.

Yep. I love a good slip stitch!