Tuesday, May 25, 2010

For LJ

We've been sending so many Iris kits out to shops lately that I decided it was time for me to jump on the bandwagon and make one for LJ. LJ isn't due to make her appearance in the world for a couple of months, but I'm sure she'll need a monster to keep her company.

I mixed things up a little with my version of Iris The Gourmet Monster. First, I rummaged through my button tin for her eyes. I think I like these better than the ones that come in the kit. Somehow they seem homier. Or maybe I'm just channeling Coraline. Who knows?

I also decided she needed an orange bow. The button tin had a few yards of random ribbon and there was just enough of this orange organza to do the trick.

She's made from just one skein of our Green Line DK in the colorway Mirth. Between the mirth and the smile, I hope LJ is full of giggles and fun.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Helen's Lace

Time to get back on the horse with my posts about the different yarns we dye, methinks.

I remember when I hatched my little scheme to blog about all of our yarns, I thought I would get through them in a few weeks. There would be great continuity and you would think it was all very fascinating. I am nothing if not optimistic. Here we are five months later and I'm on yarn number 4. Oh well, the best laid plans.

I've decided to go all crazy on you and walk away from my original scheme of alphabetical order. I'm going to skip Grace (mohair boucle) and Glory (brushed mohair) and jump right into Helen's Lace. I hear that there are some parts of the world where the weather is getting warmer and people might want to knit lace rather than mohair. Here in Chicago we're still wearing winter coats, but that's a story for another day.

Helen's Lace is named for Lorna Miser's maternal grandmother, Helen Oberheu. Lorna has great memories of standing over her shoulder watching her knit beautiful lace doilies and learning the basics of knitting. Her grandma didn't think of herself as a teacher but in reality, her day to day work provided all the instruction Lorna could have asked for.

I wasn't so lucky. My dad's job had our family moving every year or so and I never lived close enough to my grandparents to learn from them. Even if we had, my maternal grandmother was more interested in running my grandpa's office and my paternal grandmother was more of an embroidery/crewelwork person. There is an extraordinary piece she did when she was 95 of a bluebird in a cherry tree that has had pride of place in my mother's home for many, many years.

So, back to the yarn. Helen's Lace is a two ply, 50% silk/50% wool blend. It comes in big ol' 1250 yard hanks. With a few exceptions, that will give you enough yarn to make most lace shawl patterns you might run across.

The inside of the label features a free pattern, the Pie Wedge Shawl. I like to think of it as being a gentle introduction to lace. It's really not much more than garter stitch and some short rows on big needles but it looks lacy and it gives you the opportunity to get the feel of working with laceweight yarn without the pressure of nupps and YO's and K2Tog's. It's shown here in a classic Lorna's Laces colorway, 34 Tahoe.

I can't begin to count the number of wonderful Helen's Lace patterns that have been written over the years. Here are just a couple that come right to mind.

This one is the Cold Mountain Stole designed by Kieran Foley. It's from the Summer 2009 knitty.com.

The geometric design really appeals to me here. There's a precision to the straight lines and hard angles that I like. Somehow it seems kind of funny to talk about lace in those terms, but not all lace is flowers and leaves. I have to remind myself of that from time to time. Especially since I tend to be more of a hard angles person.

Here's one last great stole. It's from Miriam Felton of Mimknits fame.

This is her Juno Regina Stole. It comes in either a wrap or stole version. This is the stole version. It's shown here in our 2ns Manzanita.

I could go on for days about choices you have with this yarn. Interweave did a great crochet shawl in their spring issue, here in 204 Daffodil. Or the Tallin Sunset from BadCat Designs. And then there's....

Yikes, gotta run. I have in-laws for the weekend. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's an Honor

The naming contest finished up over the weekend and we have a winner, Honor!

The crew here at Lorna's Laces was pretty evenly split on which of the choices we liked the best. Just like with the general voting, Dreamcatcher fell to third place, but the other two were neck and neck.

There were good arguments for both and I never really did make up my mind about which was my favorite. I suppose I could argue both side of the coin. But at the end of the day, Honor seems like an nice name for our new yarn. It has something of the same sensibility as some of our other names like Grace or Glory.

It also happens to be the name of the street where we're located. Well, almost. We're on Honore Street. But I figure that's splitting hairs.

You're probably wondering who won the $500 prize....It turns out we had two winners. I'd originally said that if more than one person submitted the same name that we'd use a random number generator to pick the final winner. Well, two people submitted Honor. They decided they'd rather split the prize. I thought that was pretty nice of them.

So, congratulations to Amy from Atlanta, GA and Heather from Cumming, Georgia. Beautiful packages of yarn will be making their way down south in just a few days.*

Thanks to everyone who took part in our little contest!

*Edited to add: It looks like we missed an entry from Marianne. So, we have a third winner! Yay, the more the merrier!

Friday, May 7, 2010

You're Welcome

What is it about getting a thank you note in the mail that makes my heart sing?

I know that it isn't as environmentally friendly as sending it electronically. I know that giving the USPS $.46 to mail a letter is ridiculously expensive. I know it takes days rather than nanoseconds for it to move from one place to another. Yet I love it.

Somehow the tangible nature of a card makes the thanks seem more heartfelt. Call me an old fuddy-duddy if you will, but that's how I feel about it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ysolda Red

There's a new Color Commentary making its way to yarn stores everywhere...Ysolda Red! She's posted about it in her blog, and I'm going to go ahead and snitch from there and let her tell you about it in her own words:

A long time ago, almost exactly a year ago now, I found myself in Chicago where I visited the lovely people at Lorna’s Laces. They let me play with their colours and I came home with several skeins of totally unique yarn. The last year has been busy for both of us, but I finally settled on my favourite colour “recipe” and started working on a design using it. Once again, I’m in Chicago, and they invited me to visit again. When I got there, I felt like I’d taken over their workspace – my favourite colour was everywhere.

I got to see the whole process that goes into making their vibrant colourways and even help a little (although I think they had to re-do the skein I twisted up!) Although the colour red and subtle semi-solid hand dyes are two of the things I love the best I’m usually disappointed in them. Most semi-solid red yarns use just one shade of red dye and the variation comes from the yarn absorbing more or less dye. I wanted a semi-solid red that didn’t have pale patches, that actually had different shades of red – and I am so pleased with the results.

Each skein has several different dyes poured on in short sections (less chance of pooling) and massaged in.

This was fun, and the gory appearance was entertaining but the part Beth did was perfectly neat – the part I did probably had the pale patches I wanted to avoid. Somehow I think I’ll be leaving the dyeing to the experts, fortunately they're happy to let me do the fun part of choosing the colour while they do all the work.

And of course, applying the colour is only a small part of the work involved. The skeins are hung to dry, carefully labeled with batch numbers, there will always be some variation between individual hand dyed skeins but keeping track of which skeins were dyed together from the time the dye goes on to when it’s sitting on the shelf in your yarn store helps avoid bad surprises when you’re knitting. If you are working with a hand dyed yarn on a large project it can be helpful to alternate between two skeins every two rows.

Once the skeins are dry, Amanda and the other staff deftly form them into pretty little twists. Sometimes people ask why the yarn isn’t sold ready wound in balls, leaving you to do that work for yourself. There are a few reasons. Balling the yarn in a way that doesn’t fall apart while you’re knitting means doing it tightly which puts stress on the yarn, if you knit with it right away it will happily bounce back, but if it’s going to sit on a shelf for a while it won’t. I prefer to buy hand dyed yarns in skeins because it’s easier to see the colours, in the skein you can tell that there are different shades, in the ball you really have to squint to see that because they’re all jumbled up. Visiting the workshop of a hand dyed yarn company also made me realise that selling the yarn in balls would also create more work for the people making it, which would obviously increase the price.

I’m having a wonderful time knitting up my perfect Ysolda Red into a design for the new book. If you’d like to try knitting with it ask your store about ordering it, the colour is part of the Colour Commentary series and it’s really gorgeous in all of their base yarns. I’m so excited to for you to complete this collaboration and use it in your projects.

Beautiful person, beautiful yarn. Thanks Ysolda!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Contest, Phase Two

Wow! We got some fantabulous suggestions to name our new yarn. Whittling it down to just three choices for the poll was a challenge!

I want to thank you for joining us in our little contest. We've had a ton of fun considering the choices. The creativity was absolutely amazing. I think it's good for a creative place like Lorna's Laces to open up the doors from time to time and see what the world thinks. It provides us with new insights and a fresh way of approaching our day to day work

We came up with something of a system. Or at least our feeble version of a system. The first step was making sure that the name wasn't being used by another yarn comapny. We didn't want to step on any toes. That eliminated quite a few good choices. It makes sense that many of the good ones had already been snatched up.

Next, we took out anything that one of the crew had a bad reaction to. It just didn't seem right to subject someone to having to work with a yarn whose name brings back unpleasant memories of their junior high lunch room.

Then there was the subjective part. Yes/No/Maybe. That got us down from the the original 1000+ entries to just 50.

Finally, we had a mini ballot at the studio. Everyone picked three. We totaled up the scores and came up with the three possibilities you see at the top of the blog. They are listed in alphabetical order.

I don't know which one I like best. It changes from day to day.

The last step is up to you. The poll will be open until 5:00 PM CDT on May 15th. Please vote only once.

May the best name win!