Tag Archives: worsted

Stash flash – the commercial yarn edition

I’m not a huge fan of stash flashing.

Sometimes it just seems like crass showing off, sometimes I think of the world’s starving people, sometimes I think it’s a little funny when a middle age woman poses naked with it in a bathtub*, sometimes it gives me anxiety of having too much, sometimes it gives me anxiety about having too much of one thing but not the needed thing, and sometimes I’ll admit I’m a little jealous.

But we reached a milestone on the house – the floors and walls are done in all of the main rooms – so I’m finally moving into my teeny tiny studio and figuring out how to cram everything in.

stash-mound

And part of that involves taking stock of my yarn stash.

It was in relatively decent storage – a few big plastic tubs – but sock yarn was mixed in with sweater quantities was mixed in with random cones of mystery fiber…

stash-cone

And of course there was yarn shoved into other yarn…

Everything needed to be aired out – there was the odd unfortunate odor of our old apartment’s carpeting trapped inside some of the tubs, and a few lavender sachets lost their pleasant one.  But all was well – no evidence of wool-munching crawling or flying f*ckers.

stash-sock&fingering

The sock and fingering weight yarns are now separated out into their own bin and I know I don’t need to shop for the stuff possibly ever again.  I’d been wanting to make some jolly-colored tights for years now, but I haven’t even considered casting on for them, so maybe it’s okay to just make one pair of socks from one of three skeins, or consider making a blanket.  I’d really like to make some pants, but though I’d like wacky tights, I’d rather have more dull pants (trousers to my friends across the pond) though I do adore my wool pants (underwear).

stash-cones

Need I remind you that I got everything really cheap?  Yeah, the internet is good for that, as are Italian markets and those newer craft/construction materials thrift shops.  I’ve been picking up the odd cone of stuff for a few years – I thought I’d be weaving by now and dying more too…  And I do intend to use some of it in spinning…

stash-lambspride

My old favorite Lamb’s Pride is all in one place now too – this is one of the few yarns I have sweater quantities of – large coat or king-sized afghan quantities…  I fell into a brief obsessive love with mosaic knitting several years ago and planned to make a cozy big long coat.  I got a billion yards of two shades of green on the cheap online, but the colors weren’t contrasty enough and besides, I never got around to finding or making up a pattern, so it sits and waits…

And the bulky green in the bottom right was, for a short time and twice, an Owls sweater, but I never got the sizing right, so I frogged it and gave up.

stash-greenlambspride

I’m in love with that old gold greenish shade “golden mushroom” in the upper left, so it’s high time I cracked it open… I love nearly every shade of green though, so I’ve got some thinking to do…

On the day that I organized this stuff I had one of those disturbing time warps wherein I missed lunch.  I never miss lunch. And the day was pretty much shot – I feel a bit guilty overall for “wasting” the time and that I have so much, yet I can’t part with it either.  I got some of it up on ravelry, so I may sell some things if asked.  But I also don’t really need any more clothes or blankets, so my knitting mojo for anything other than gifts, sales, or a few smaller accessories is pretty flat at the moment.

I’d like to replace a few commercial sweaters with me-knitted ones, but the ones I wear most often are grey.  Do you see any grey yarn up there?  Nope.

And since I work from home, I need nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I don’t get the people who work from home or stay at home and are crazy prolific garment sewers and knitters… where and when do they wear the many, many things that they make?

(And I still have loads of yarn from unraveled sweaters, a nice bunch of that lovely Italian wool, and a smallish (relatively speaking) amount of handspun.)

And though I accomplished a needed organizing job that day, I ultimately failed when I realized that there’s still another box/bag/tub of the stuff somewhere…

*I’ve seen a few of these on ravelry, but sadly can’t find one at the moment for you – and no, I won’t do that.

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For the dogs

A year later, and for another child than the one originally intended, Strelka the Valiant finally came together.

doggy-twopaws

I started him for a kid whose favorite color is yellow, but I missed two holiday deadlines, found that knitting it on dpns was stupid, packed it away for the move, misplaced it, and then realized that the original kid has aged into the universe of building stuff instead of a semi-stationary snuggly one.

strelka-body

I considered making clothing for the new baby brother of the kid, and actually made one very odd sock that might have fit a waterfowl, a very strange hat that will only fit for perhaps a week more, and I bought what I thought was enough superwash yarn for a little vest, but it wasn’t, or at least it wasn’t for the actual size the baby is now through the end of winter.  So I unearthed poor Strelka for a speedy revival (though knitting the vest and waiting for more yarn to come might have have been faster).

doggy-wash

We were leaving for our holiday festivities on a Tuesday, so I wanted to have him soaked and blocked by early on Sunday so there would be enough time for drying and stitching up…

On Saturday, N said “there’s no way you’ll finish… you have a hat anyway.”

Those were not meant to be words of encouragement, but they were for me (that hat was really questionable).

(And this pattern is really fantastic, and fairly speedy, especially since I knitted it in worsted weight yarn rather than fingering, but as with any toy, it’s a bit fiddly from making various pieces and not just straight ahead fingers-become-machines knitting.)

doggy-exploded

But lo and behold, I made my Sunday deadline, albeit at the end of the day.

You can see the wonky ear on the left that I made with dpns, which I do not recommend at all for this guy – it’s magic loop or bust.

(I didn’t have time to make another ear, and unsymmetrical is more natural, right?)

And I was a little tight with the magic loop on the face – he’s got some flat outer cheeks instead of rounded ones, so I sewed the ears more forward to cover them up.

And I generally prefer mutts, so I went rogue with the pattern on the legs and arm/legs.

And yes, I didn’t make the toenails – I am unable to successfully execute that part of the pattern and I didn’t have the time or patience for duplicate stitch later on – he’s still dog-like enough without them.

doggy-window

He is quite charming, but I was afraid he might scare the baby…

But the baby seemed to approve, and gnawing on wool must be pleasant on the gums.

I not a big fan of knitting toys – I’d rather sew them – but it was fun to have this guy on the needles, and maybe I’ll make another…

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Second things sometime need a little attention too…

…a sequel to In praise of first things.

Years and years ago, after I made a few more garter stitch scarves for friends and family, and falling just as hard for knitting with wool as I did for alpaca, not to mention all of the other fibrous beasts, came what seemed at the time, a very massive project.

firsthingsshawlfront

Yet I did not stray from my comfortable garter stitch.  I may have started this as a poncho, or at least a shawl, but I don’t remember now, except that I didn’t have a pattern and I was afraid of them then.  But ponchos were popular then, and then weren’t, and maybe they came back, I don’t know?  Originally it was just going to be solid charcoal, though I ran out of yarn before it was a good length to wrap.  Then something happened at the Brown Sheep/Lamb’s Pride mill?  A fire?  I can’t remember that either, but for a year, or years, worsted weight yarn in deep charcoal wasn’t available.  When a new LYS opened in my old neighborhood, I bought four skeins (including a deep charcoal) in bulky weight.  I got the only four colors available that weren’t some ghastly shade of pink or pastel blue (but I kind of liked the pastel sage).  I didn’t really think about (or know?) the difference in yarn weights either, but ploughed through to the end, or enough of an end when I ran out of yarn again.

firstthingsshawlbackIt too has a beautiful drape.

The bulky striped end is thick and especially warm.  We use this most as a throw blanket lengthwise, with the bulky end wrapping shroud-like whichever is the colder end of the body.

I’m tempted to frog this once in awhile to get to the sweater’s worth of yarn, but it is the best way to stay warm when supine and corpse-like in the dead of winter.

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[Im]patiently waiting…

We’re in a stressful period again, one that involves waiting and hoping and superstition and maybe a little internet stalking on my part…  It might feel similar to expecting a baby, or rather perhaps adopting a child, since a great deal of bureaucracy is also involved – or perhaps adopting a juvenile delinquent child since there is also an element of possible destruction.

But it is definitely not about babies.  At least human ones.

Or non-human animal ones… yet.

So I haven’t been doing much with my hands lately apart from gnawing on my knuckles and dialing and typing.

I guess most people don’t dial anymore, but I still love my land line and old phones with a good heft, fine audio clarity, and a solid ring.

Although people have been texting me on them, and that doesn’t work out so well…

So in the interest of self-prescribed mind-clearing meditative knitting, I started another Honey Cowl.

honeycowl-wine

(the colors aren’t right – it’s more of a wine shade.)

Yes, it’s the yarn I just bought along with some deeply stashed Lamb’s Pride.

I don’t love the color combo, or maybe the colors in general yet, but it’s giving me enough of a twitch that I can re-direct some of my annoyed and nervous energy to it.

I may come around to like it in the end?

And I also might be able to wear it with that shockingly pink vintage coat that I’ve lacked the balls or tolerance of something so bright so close to my eyes to wear yet…

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New England travels – increasing my fiber…

While in the White Mountains, we decided to use up a rainy day in Portland, Maine.  I recently bought some Quince & Co. Osprey yarn and was anxious to hit a yarn store near its hometown to buy fondle some more.  We underestimated the drive down to the coast on slow and winding country roads so by the time we got there, we were too hungry to do anything else.  So we got some tasty-as-all-get-out lobster rolls at Fisherman’s Grill (and you can spot my old cardigan in action, or at least knotted around my waist and waiting for action, along with a tiny peek of my old sh*t “rain”coat, aka the sucky soaker).

New England-lobsta roll

And ate them (along with some badass insanely delicious onion rings) in the car!?!?!  This is a strange and rare thing* for us and it felt very very wrong, but the food tasted very very good.  And after our onion and roach of the sea feast, we were sleepy so we decided to drive all the way back to nap away the rainy afternoon in the cabin and skip the rest of Portland.  (Sorry Portland, see you more next time).

But back to the Maine-based Quince & Co. yarn.  I loved the stuff.  At first I was a little unenthused about it since they offer few tweeds or heathers and their advertising is beautifully photographed with feminine and ethereal and often pastel colors, and I feel a little too mannish for the stuff.  If I see another baby chick yellow or sea rose pink drapey cardigan paired with a demure sundress I may sprout a chin hair.

New England-Quince & Co.So I chose some of the murkiest colors they had to offer, but I must say I love murky and they did a great job with a green that sometimes looks brown (Marsh) and a grey that sometimes looks blue (Storm).  And the yarn base feels soft but durable and has a wonderful spongy sproing factor.  It reminds me a lot of the wool I bought in Abruzzo last year about which I have yet to write and made a huge impact on the products I buy.

New England-Osprey

The yarn also has a great stitch definition and does that thing where the stitches appear in column-like rows on one side, but I can’t remember the term for it…  But regardless, I’m in love with the stuff and will buy more at a later date.  I’ve pretty much taken a blood vow to only buy domestic/North American products when I can, especially wool, and especially buy wool from places and people I visit.  I’m making an exception for a couple of American indie dyers who source globally but have an incomparable and awesome product, but for the most part it’s all red white and blue (and just white and red for Canada) sheep for me (and of course the colors of another country’s flag when I’m visiting said country…. you get the drift).

So of course I wanted to make a short detour on our way back through Vermont to Green Mountain Spinnery.  Sadly I wasn’t there at a time they gave tours, but I happily inhaled the lovely sheepy perfumes and peeked at some of the equipment.   I was also exceptionally restrained in my purchases since I knew I could always buy online from them, so I just picked up a few skeins of their Yarn Over yarn.  I love the stuff – it’s made from leftovers spun together in unrepeatable muted colors and is sheepy and rustic and feels like a good strong wooly yarn (my camera liked it too and got excitedly saturated, but it’s a bit more faded in life).  I’m sure I’ll regret not buying a sweater’s worth, but I really don’t have the dough or a lack of sweaters to justify it now.

New England-GMS

And I really couldn’t justify spending much at the great local gear store Farm Way but you bet I nearly spun around in the-hills-are-alive fashion in the Ibex section.  Yep, wool, mostly American-made (except it’s Australian Merino), Vermont-based, comfortable, practical, and sadly, pricey even when on sale, and what I do have of it fits a bit strangely since the really on sale stuff isn’t usually in my size.  So instead I bought a pair of Vermont made Darn Tough wool socks and N became my Sugar Daddy for a new rain jacket.

New England-socks

It’s a little weird to buy wool socks since I knit them, but I’ll never want to knit (or be able to) really fine-gauge ones or cushy-soled hiking ones.

And my old and continued favorite of domestic wool yarn is Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride – I can’t neglect to mention them and I have a huge aging stash of the stuff…you can find it on crazy sale sometimes.

DSCF6391 - Copy

Now I’m putting some pressure on myself to come up with some White Mountain inspired patterns, but for now I must finish other things.

* We/I eschew and abhor many aspects of American culture, especially in regards to its foodways and habits of eating fast “food” shite in cars.  Yes, we are snobs but love our tasty tasty Euro-centric, farm-to-table, fresh out of the garden, local, locavore, low on the food chain, sustainably raised, only when in season, not from a factory or feedlot, organic, chemical and preservative-free, not-out-of-a-box-or-bag, Mediterranean-inspired, stuff that has been eaten for thousands of years and should be for thousands more, grub.  Although I have to admit I cringed violently when a server at my favorite restaurant mentioned that the veal they were serving that night was hand-fed by children… I call that 4-H, or child-labor, or just plain f*cking ridiculous, or Portlandia come to life (only it wasn’t in Stumptown)…  And those onion rings above?  Yeah, I watched the guy take an onion and slice it up, dredge it by hand, and dunk into the fryer – they didn’t come pre-breaded and frozen, yee hah!

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Winter hoarding, Spring sewing, a change of the light…

Thrifting over the last few months has provided some bright weekday moments in my otherwise bleak and depressing winter of vast underemployment.  I obviously have a thing for wool, but especially for tweeds and plaids.  I once had a crush on someone because of his worsted houndstooth pants – take away the pants and he was just an ordinary, rather boring, man – with the pants, he might as well have been Adonis.  Luckily, N appreciates a good piece of wool clothing, so he is practically turning into a man-sheep with my woolen finds in his size (and the occasional score on his own)…

But back to the new additions to my stash.  Most of these fabrics will be re-used, re-purposed, recycled into other things for other lives; some for sale, and some for me.

I love the yarn in these two pieces.  Some tweed yards have primary colored neps [those little color balls] and I hate those – primary colors = 1980s or preschool, ’nuff said.  I love these secondary colors, and you gotta love orange and turquoise – 1970s tube socks!  But with the beige and black yarns they are reined in.  The black is a vest that doesn’t fit me right – I may try to alter it as-is, but I’ll likely frog and re-knit it.  The beige is another unfortunate cropped sweater that also has some shrinkage, definitely a frogger or a fuller.

tweed sweaters

And some various woolens.  One (I won’t tell you which) I cheated on – it’s got a lot less wool than what I usually require, but I liked the colors and pattern too much to walk away from it.  Two of these will probably become bags.  And I was excited to find the brown herringbone Harris Tweed jacket and had plans to sell it, but I sadly discovered many little holes – perhaps too many to keep it as-is, but we’ll see.

three plaids two plaids

But let’s be honest, eh?

studio wooly pile   studio cotton pile

This is how matters really stand – piles of sh*t and blurry images.

studio corner

My shooting gallery (say hi to the dummy) is also my sewing corner and is also the only spot in the room that gets any natural light from its one dirty window.

studio window

A dirty window that will soon be even further blocked by leaves.  Don’t get me wrong, I love leaves and love them even more for blocking the parking lot that attracts unsupervised juveniles who like throwing rocks at cars and the adolescent ne’re-do-wells who lurk about drinking and sucking at skateboard tricks.  I just won’t be able to take many pictures indoors soon.

studio label

I hope to have my new and improved Etsy or other online shop up and running in another month or two and possibly do one booth at a small fair this year.  I’m discouraged though, the crafting biz ain’t what it used to be… And you know, I’ve never felt like such a stereotype more in my life.  Educated urban/suburban white female in early middle-age, gone through job crisis, deludes herself thinking she can turn to craft for substantive* income.  In an attempt to be slightly more competitive,  I bought some “professional” labels since my hand-printed ones looked well, too handmade (which is how they should look dammit) but I didn’t calculate the size very well in the order.  They are too long and unwieldy, but I don’t want to waste them, so on they will go.

*At least enough to cover health insurance – do you realize how breathtakingly expensive private plans are, or how much most of them suck?  And forget about the fact that I’ve spent my entire career in non-profits and have precious little saved for retirement, but what is that anyway?  Do enough diners still exist to hire crusty old cantankerous broads?  Can you still get a trailer in Florida cheap?  Are there any knitter-friendly flophouses?

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