Tag Archives: Yarn

An Icy Day

2 Jan

After a few unusual days of warmth we’ve had quite a thaw in Madison.  Most of the snow is gone from our streets and yards, so it was quite an experience to feel the chill come back in full force and to visit a frozen lake.

It was amazing to see such a big body of water frozen, and to see ATVs and people out in the middle of it!  But I am glad to be safe at home and back in the warm.  Which is always a pleasant experience when you have plenty of wool around.

This is Cascade Eco + in Lichen for the first of my IntSweMoDo2011 challenge, a seamless saddle shoulder sweater (a la Elizabeth Zimmerman) for my Dad.  It is a popular one on Ravelry and I totally understand why, this is probably one of the best work horse yarns around.  With nearly 500 yards per skein it is super economical and knitting with bulky yarn means this will be a speedy project.  Knitting up a sleeve in a day means I don’t feel bad casting on another very small project before starting the body.

Stonehedge Shepherd’s Wool is a yarn I stumbled across when looking for something for my sister-in-law.  It is made by a small mill in Michigan and is a wonderfully soft worsted wool.  Perfect for the Thermis cowl I’ve had my eye on for some time.  The colour should go nicely with my Ringwood gloves, finished just in time for the return of the cold.



A Knitter’s Confession

18 Nov

I’ve been avoiding the blog lately, because I have a confession that makes me feel very guilty.  Remember my November Goal, “No more yarn!”?  Well, I have fallen off the wagon.  Not just fallen, but have taken the wagon down with me with the amount of yarn purchased this month.

I have such a weakness for yarn sales, and Fabric.com comes along and has a massive one that breaks my resolve in a flash.  Discontinued yarn?  I may never get my hands on this stuff again!

Felted Tweed in a deep pine green for a Manu.

Berrocco Vintage Chunky for a Meep Meep hoodie for Dougie.

Rowan Purelife Shetland Moorit for Aidez.

And Harrisville Highland in bluegrass for David’s long-time-coming Cobblestone.

Thus in a few quick clicks I have spent a couple of months yarn allowance.  The only way I manage to do this without serious retribution from my husband is the fact that I did get all of this on incredible sale and that they will (eventually) become something wearable.  When buying yarn for an entire sweater I try to pay only as much as I would be willing to pay for a high quality store-bought.  Any of these yarns at full price would have been out of my league.

I have now taken serious steps to curb my addiction.

  • Credit card numbers are no longer available freely.
  • I have left the yarn-enabling groups on Ravelry (sorry Yarn Sales members!)
  • I have joined stash busting groups
  • Knit constantly (because the Devil really does make work for idle hands)

On the positive side, with knitting always in my hands I spend less time online trawling for sales, and there’s also been a huge boost in my productivity.

And if a snowstorm comes in the next few weeks, I will have plenty to keep me warm and busy.

A Bit of Quince

28 Oct

Because I refuse to turn on the heating before November it is officially very cold in our apartment.  Even our normally naked ice-baby has (voluntarily) put some clothes on.  I guess the latest parcel came just in time.

Out of all the American yarns that I wanted to try Quince and Co were number one (Shelter being a very close number two).  I bought two skeins of the aran weight Osprey, just wanting to see if they lived up to the hype.  I instantly fell in love.  They use 100% American wool but manage a softness that I’d associate with luxury cashmere/wool blends.  The colours are as rich and enchanting as people have claimed, and I cannot take my eyes off this.

Even the photo can’t do justice to this deep jeweled purple.  David was noticeably impressed by them, and has requested some mitts in Split Pea so he doesn’t have to suffer while playing piano in our freezer-house.  It’s a toss up between Toasty and Dashing, but I think simplicity will win.  The purple is going to become a Ripley for me as all of my handknit hats have mysteriously disappeared.

If this knits up half as nicely as it feels and looks, then I’ll have to make a whole new wardrobe in it.

Autumn Heat Wave

10 Oct

There must be some sort of inverse square law where the hotter it gets the less knitting I do.  While this probably means I’ll finish an entire sweater when it gets to 30 below, it’s bad news now that the weather has inexplicably reached the 80s here in Wisconsin.  Am I in Wisconsin still?  This is October right?  Some days it feels more like the twilight zone.

And I thought our beach days were over for the year.  We found ourselves back in the sand when I refused to resort to turning the air conditioning on again.  Some of us didn’t mind so much.

I have started on this little guy’s Drive Thru, which would be a nice easy and quick knit normally, but my hands are protesting at the feeling of hot sticky wool in the warmth.  I have managed to finish the body and am well on my way on one of the sleeves.

Strange to think that he might just need this in another week or so.  I hope the mercury drops because I am keen to finish this up and get going on my Socktoberfest project.

This is Knit One Crochet Too’s Ty-Dy sock yarn, a little gem I found at the Knitting Tree.  It has a wonderfully soft hand, much softer than most sock yarns I’ve come across and I was enchanted by the bold green colours.  My plan is to knit a pair of gift socks using the Jaywalker pattern.  I’m a bit unsure as to how the colours are going to stripe, but the pattern should help bring out its best side.  If I can finish a complete pair (that’s TWO socks) this month I will consider Socktoberfest a success.

For now, I am going to have to sit here, sweat, and enjoy a cold beer.  Happy Indian Summer to all.

The Knitting Tree

4 Oct

After an almost wintery-cold weekend we’ve had to strip off our woolies today.  It was even warm enough to justify a trip to my favourite frozen custard place for an addictive pumpkin shake.

After satisfying my sweet (and pumpkin) tooth I conveniently go across the road for a bit of stash enhancement.

This is the Knitting Tree on Monroe St in Madison, owned by the same woman as Lakeside Fibers.  You can tell this lady knows her yarn, both shops are charming but incredibly different.  The Knitting Tree is a convient location near downtown but is a much smaller space than Lakeside, but every inch is packed with loveliness.

These are not chain stores, each has their own unique selection of yarns, making them both equally worth going to if you’re in the city.  Knitting tree stocks a lot of Berrocco, Noro, and Rowan yarns, and plenty more to satisfy your needles.  Both shops make great use of light, too often in the UK yarn shops are tiny hole-in-the-walls with no natural lighting, making it impossible to choose colours accurately.  Also I just love how they both arrange yarns by colours as well as brand, so if you have a palette already in mind it’s  a great help.  If you’re like me and a bit colour challenged prepare to be overwhelmed by choice.

I have to give a big thanks to the shopkeepers at both stores who put up with my indecisive wanderings and a toddler who just has to touch everything (they gave him a much appreciated box of toys at Knitting Tree).  Everyone in the shop is extremely helpful and there are books and patterns everywhere to oogle.  I had a flip through “Brave New Knits” and “Knits Men Want” and my queue has suddenly doubled.

Of course, I brought home just a little something, but mostly I brought home a great appreciation for a city that has not one, not two, but three yarn shops within city limits.  I don’t think I’ll ever get so lucky again.

Hello, October!

1 Oct

Hello October!  You are my favourite month of all and I am super excited this year because:

  • My dear husband is taking the entire month off so we get to do all those things we planned for summer (but the bugs and humidity prevented us from actually doing)
  • We will be going to Chicago where I can oogle places like this
  • Brooklyn Tweed’s Jared Flood has outdone himself by producing a gorgeous yarn.  Husband has already called dibbs on a hat in it, and another one in the queue for my brother-in-law
  • I will be getting my very first Namaste Bag – in Purple!
  • Pumpkin Spice Lattes – ’nuff said

By the way, I am super jealous of all you members of the Madison Knitters Guild who will be able to attend Jared’s talk this month.  I’m sure it’ll be packed to the rafters, and he may just have some samples of Shelter to show, too.

In other news, my mother has returned from a long overdue trip to Korea to visit her family.  We would have loved to have gone this year, but a 14 hour flight is a bit much for a toddler and we really only need the stress of one huge international journey a year.  A lot has changed in the last twenty years but she had an awesome time and convinced us that we need to go when we can.

She very thoughtfully brought us back a few souvenirs.  This tea set is my personal favourite, I love the colours and shapes, just the thing for a nice pot of green tea.

And these whimsical embroidered nail clippers, which do double duty as a bottle opener.  You know, for those times when you’re giving yourself a pedicure and fancy a brew.

While a trip to Korea might not be on our “to-do” list this month, I just can’t wait to see what this month of chilly days, changing leaves, pumpkins and bonfires will bring us.

Gift Knitting Stash

25 Sep

I am making an amendment to Commandment 5: “Thou shalt not build stash”, no buying yarn without a project in mind.  This gives me a little leeway because I have a rare disorder that leaves me incapable of leaving a delicious yarn store empty handed.  I was literally paralysed by colour choice yesterday, so I roped in my husband to help me choose a palette for a Drive Thru pullover for Dougie.

I wanted it to have a throw back 70’s feel and just love the colours he chose: dark chocolate brown for the main body, with cream, pumpkin orange (we just had to get pumpkin in there somewhere) and a sunny yellow for yoke stripes.  What’s nice about knitting for a toddler, v.s. a baby, is that he might be able to wear something more than once or twice before growing out of it.  Both the Pebble vest and the Baby Surprise sweater had only brief appearances.  Finally, a chance for his knits to see the light of day.

The brown and cream are legendary Cascade 220, but the yellow and orange are Louet Riverstone.  There was a staggering array of colours to choose from of each and I can’t wait to start knitting with them.  I just can’t stop squeezing that beautiful Louet yarn.

I also bought some yarn to make a special present for my mother-in-law.  This will be the first Christmas season that we’ve not been with D’s parents, and their first without seeing Dougie so I hope a little handmade luxury will bring a bit of joy.  She is a woman of impeccable taste and an eye for colour (must be where my husband gets his).

Classic Elite Fresco in steely water blues, reminiscent of the sea she dearly loves, to make Andrea’s Shawl.  I like the mix of lace and colourwork, it makes a pattern that’s elegant but unfussy.  Just a little something to throw over the shoulders on a chilly evening or wrap around your neck on mild winter day by the seaside.  And the yarn?  Wool, alpaca and angora.  If only I could knit a duvet in this and hibernate.

Both these future projects are apart of my new aim to knit more for others.  While I love knitting for myself there is a lot of satisfaction in choosing and making something for a loved one.  It gives me a chance to use a yarn I wouldn’t buy for myself because it’s “too nice”, and a pattern that I wouldn’t normally knit.  I would love to knit all my holiday gifts this year, but I’m not going to push myself too hard, remember Commandment #4 (Thou shalt not have unrealistic expectations).

The All New Lakeside Fibers

24 Sep

I felt cursed today.  My good intentions to make pumpkin pie from scratch failed miserably.  Both pastry and filling turned out wrong (though the filling still tastes nice, I tell myself).  What better way to make a girl feel better than a trip to the local yarn shop.

This is the newly reopened Lakeside Fibers, located on the south side of Monona Bay.  When we first moved here in July it was closed but has opened up under new management last week.  I don’t have any frame of reference of what it was like before, but, wow, this is a nice shop.  The space is huge, light and airy, with seats near the back.  Everywhere you look there are gorgeous yarns, nestled in bins, shelves, and boats.

Yes, it is a boat, filled with Dream in Color Smooshy!  Pretty much every yarn, besides Rowan, was new to me: Madelinetosh, Shibuiknits, Spud & Chloe, Blue Sky Alpacas, and many more I can’t even remember.  The shop assistants were sweet and helpful and there were modern knitting books and patterns conveniently placed on tables and counters.  I am just blown away by the quality of the stores in this country, you really feel that it’s a place that takes knitting seriously.

As if all the yarn loveliness isn’t enough there is a cafe connected through the back that does nice coffee and has views over the bay.  And if you have little ones, you can have Daddy take them over to the playground just behind the shop near the beach (thanks D!)

I didn’t come home empty handed, but I’ll just give you a taste of the dilemma I had when choosing yarn for a future colourwork project.

I fear for my wallet because this place is only a short walk away.

My 5 Commandments of Knitting

20 Sep

When I started knitting again I decided to try a new approach by following a few simple rules.

1. Thou shalt not frog: This means whole garments.  I actually had some yarn that was used no less than 8 times because of my perfectionist tendencies.  My time is too valuable to lose all that work I put in.  Someone else may appreciate it even if I don’t!

2. Thou shalt not work on more than one project at a time: I used to have something like half a dozen projects on the go, unfortunately very few of them reached completion.  Hopefully by committing to one I’ll get more finished (this it the theory)

3. Thou shalt not obsess: I could spot a flaw in my knitting from ten paces and it would drive me nuts.  Having a child is a great lesson in restraint.  A tidy house now means that I can walk from one end of the room to the other and still touch the floor.  In knitting this means if nobody else can see the mistake then it stays.

4. Thou shalt not have unrealistic expectations: I used to knit at such a breakneck speed and sacrifice important things (food, sleep, etc) to finish a project, even if it was a whole jumper which couldn’t be done in less than a few weeks.  The result was often burnout and that project would be condemned to the UFO pile.  Since I can’t ignore my responsibilities to a busy toddler knitting is now done during quiet pockets.

5. Thou shalt not build stash: I will resist impulse buying yarn.

Oops.  Maybe I’ll amend #5 to no buying yarn without a specific project in mind.  This Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine I bought at Spin because I just could not enter such a beautiful store and humbling hosts without buying a little something.  I bought two skeins, just enough for Wispy cardigan, which I have wanted to knit since I saw in Interweave knits, and waited for months to come online.  Its availability actually kick started me into wanting to knit again, though I couldn’t put the pressure of a laceweight knit for my first project.  I love the colour (can you tell I’m in a blue phase?), a deep oceanic blue-green, and the feel of the alpaca.  I just hope it isn’t frustrating to knit since my first choice was the suggested Malabrigo lace.

I also came away with these beautiful bamboo buttons.  Each has a slightly different character.  I bought them with Shalom in mind but didn’t realise it suggested 1 inch buttons and these are 3/4 inch.  I am so hoping they fit because they look great against the blue but then again, who doesn’t need a reason to go button shopping?

Fiber Day!

9 Mar

This weekend has been both busy and fun.  Yesterday I went over to east Dorset to hang out with my fiber partner in crime, Karen.  It was her birthday on friday and I gifted her with treats of chocolate, cake, fingerless mitts, and of course, yarn.  I gave her a ball of Twilley’s Freedom Spirit, in a gorgeous red colour.  I was able to meet Giles, the newest member of her family.


A gorgeous Ryeland ram, he is such a sweetheart.  I couldn’t believe how tiny he was and just loved the cuddles and attention.  Of course to be fair he wasn’t alone.  Splodge, the big texel ram, was with him to keep him company.  At times they even look like they’re best of friends, but I know better.

Giles & Splodge

I can’t wait until next year when there’ll be little ryeland cross lambs bounding about the fields.  Their fleece is truly amazing, it’s so downy and impossible to felt, perfect for socks.  I was supposed to come over to do some dyeing outside but the weather thought otherwise.  All was not lost though, it was a great excuse to go to hobbycraft.  I have to admit I was quite naughty there and bought some yarn, of course having another knitter shopping with you does no good for the self control.

Siena Cotton Yarn

I got 5 balls of Jaeger Siena cotton in a steely blue, thinking I’d find some cute crochet pattern.  So far I’ve had no luck, but I may make Adorn Mag’s cropped jacket.  It’s different gauge but I think it’ll work, and who couldn’t use a foxy little bolero to cover up vest tops in the summer?

All in all we had a great, though exhausting day, it’s always a treat going to the farm (even if she gives mestrange liquorice sweets!).  I fear for the citizens of Builth Wells last week in April as we’ve already booked our accomodation for Wonderwool Wales.  There’s been talk of bringing the sheep trailer for the tonnes of yarn that will undoubtedly be bought by two crazy ladies.

Today we went down the beach and had a fun time watching the weather go by.  We were lucky to completely miss the rain and managed to get into the car before the next downpour.  Batten down the hatches everyone, tonight’s going to be a stormy night.