Thursday, February 28, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
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
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
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
Monday, February 11, 2008
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
Monday, February 04, 2008
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
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!