Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where Are They Now?

Today's Topic: Whatever happened to your __________?

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.
There are a lot of different aspects to look at when looking back at a knitting project and it can make for interesting blogging, as much of the time we blog about items recently completed, new and freshly completed. It is not so often that we look back at what has happened to these items after they have been around for a while.

This is a good reminder for me to bring you all up to speed on a post I made back in January. It was about the first sweater I ever knit. It's the one that started life as cream, then moved onto being a dusky rose and was looking for a new lease on life. I asked for suggestions about where to go with it.

Even after your input, it wasn't really telling what color it wanted to be next so I decided to let fate have her way with it. I started the day dyeing Calumet, a mutlticolor with deep chocolate brown and a couple of purples in it. I took the leftover dyes from all the component colors, threw them in a big pot, crossed my fingers and added the sweater. An hour later, voila.

I'm not quite sure what to call this color. In real life it looks almost black. Or brown. Or maybe eggplant. Blownplant? This picture makes it look a little blotchy and it's not really. It dyed up nicely.

I'm happy with the result, but if I had it all to do over again, I think I would have gone a little more of a mid-range color. Because this is so dark I'll never be able to dye it again. There's just no where else to go with it.

This sweater has been with me for so long and I've had fun reinventing every so often. It makes me just a little bit sad that in all likelihood, this is it's final iteration.

Spring is on the way and this is a sweater for the deepest days of winter. It will get put away tonight and be waiting patiently to keep me warm when its time comes next year.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TIdy mind, tidy stitches.

Today's Topic: How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

I'm actually pretty tidy when it comes to yarn. I tend to only have a couple of projects going at any one time. I'm not much of a stash builder if the truth be known. I guess technically, Lorna's Laces is my stash and that would be considered pretty huge, but even pre-LL, I wasn't a big stasher.

See? That's ALL the yarn in my entire apartment.

I have a theory about why I've never been a stash builder. The LYS was always a centerpiece in my social life. Before LL, I worked from home as a rep selling college textbooks. I didn't have the every day interactions with colleagues at the office. I was also single, so I didn't have a spouse who came home every night to give me someone to talk to. I craved human interaction.

I created reasons to go yarn shopping and hang our with my yarnie buddies. "Oh, I broke a dpn, I need to go get more." "These stitch markers won't possibly work for this project, they clash." "I am going to collect every size of a particular brand needle and today is the day I am going to buy the 6's. I can go back tomorrow for the 7's." Each task gave me an excuse reason to go to the shop. If I had a huge stash, I wouldn't have been able to justify the trip.

I like the way my little scheme worked out. My frequent visits to the yarn shops helped me develop friendships that I wouldn't have had under other circumstances. I took classes, I learned techniques. I found a lifelong love of yarn that compelled me to take a risk with Lorna's Laces and it's been a dream come true.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mayville Sweater

Summer Knitscene 2011 is up! As usual, they've done a stellar job.

*ETA The choice of the color in the Tale of Two Yarns post was completely serendipitous to this post. But it's fun to see how the color knits up, isn't it?

I'm really loving the Mayville Cardigan by Sarah Fama, Rav name Caryatid. I'm always drawn to a v-neck and I love knitting this kind of texture. This will be a nice lightweight sweater to have around on cool evenings or over air-conditioned offices. I can see myself tossing it in my bag on my way out the door to a concert at Millennium Park.

It's made from our Shepherd Sport and shown here in 310 Catalpa. It's a fresh color, a little sassy, but not too bright. I think it was my favorite of the bunch when we brought it out.

Skill + 1UP

Today's Topic: Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

Last year, I made a bunch of sock weight triangle shawls. I guess I think of them as being a gentle introduction to lace. Sure, I've always been able to incorporate a YO here and there, but I'd never been what I think of as a lace knitter. I used to make a joke "I have plenty of challenges in my life, my knitting doesn't need to be one of them". While I still think that's true, I'm becoming more and more fascinated with lace. I've become better at reading the stitches and figuring out what's going on on my needles.

One of the things I learned out about lace knitting was how addictive it is. I found myself getting up even earlier than usual so I could knit a row before work. Or maybe to fix a mistake I'd make the night before when I was tired. Instead of getting frustrated, I was enchanted by the process. I had never thought of myself as a process knitter before and here I was all full of the process. Crazy.

It's been fun to find this new side of my knitting personality. I wonder if most people think of themselves as being either process or product knitters. Or do most think they fall somewhere in between depending on the project?

Rereading that last paragraph, I guess I've been both. When I was a new knitter, I was all about the product. I just wanted to finish whatever project was on my needles and move on to the next. Then I went through a phase where I was was more of a blend. I'd have one no brainer TV project and another more complicated piece going at the same time. I'd rush through the TV project and take my time on the other. In recent years, the pendulum has swung back towards being a product knitter. Because time is scarce, I've done more small projects. I'm quite sure that's because I could finish them quickly. I find it very gratifying to cast off and chalk another one off my list.

(For those of you who read this blog, you know I've been threatening to start of full scale lace weight yarn project for months. I've finally picked one and I'm going to jump in with both feet and a KAL. It's just a tad too early to share all the details, but I'll have more info in a few days.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns

I decided to take part in the second annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. That means that along with lots of other members of the knitting and crochet community, I'm committing to posting every day for a week about a predetermined topic related to fiber arts. It's going to be fun to see what everyone has to say.

Today's Topicc: Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

This is a tough topic for me. I can count on one hand the number of yarns I've worked with in the last eight years that aren't Lorna's Laces. I'm not sure whether that makes me biased or just uninformed about what's out in the world. Probably a little of both. So I've decided to talk about two yarns from a dyeing perspective rather than a knitting perspective.

The first yarn(s) I'll talk about is our Shepherd line. There are four yarns here and I could pick just one, but from a dyeing POV, they are just different weights of the same yarn so I'll lump them all together.

The Shepherds are superwash merino and are a dream to dye. First of all, wool likes dye. They are fast friends and like to hang out together. Next, making a yarn superwash lowers its pH. That lower pH lets the yarn drink up the dye. The combination of the two is like ladies night at the local VFW...every goes home happy.

On the other end of the spectrum in the land of Lorna's Laces is Pearl. Pearl is a silk/bamboo blend and truly a luxurious yarn. But, it's not as friendly as the Shepherd yarns. For one thing, since bamboo comes from a plant (cellulose) rather than an animal (protein), we have to treat this yarn differently than all the other yarns here at Lorna's Laces. It marches to a different drummer and insists upon "me" time.

In addition to the differences in processing, Pearl doesn't like to accept dye the same way. While I wouldn't necessarily say she's a teetotaler, she drinks dye slowly and doesn't absorb it as readily. Her temperance provides some differences. The colors are more subtle, less vibrant. There's also a little sheen to the yarn which is nice.

So two yarns that are very different. I'd say I like them both, but for different reasons and different applications. The Shepherd yarns are soft as can be and easy care. They are appropriate for a really wide range of applications. Pearl is denser and is going to make a weightier garment. I think of small projects, some open work or maybe something with negative ease.

The quick snap above shows Pearl at the top and Shepherd Worsted at the bottom. They are both dyed in 310 Catalpa.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Royal Wedding

With the fiber world abuzz about Fiona Goble's Knit Your Own Royal Wedding and the rest of the world abuzz about Catherine and William's big day, we just couldn't resist the idea of creating a colorway to celebrate with them.

We talked for a long time about which way to go with it. Traditional wedding whites, creams, golds? Or do we riff off that incredible sapphire? We decided to go with the latter. We even gave the yarn a little tiara and a pair of earrings.

We wanted to get it out in the world in plenty of time for you to have it in hand while you watch the ceremony. I'm not quite sure what the perfect Royal Wedding project is though. Any ideas?

**ETA I jumped the gun on this post. The colorway won't be available until April 1. Sorry....

Monday, March 21, 2011

Knitting Wrapsody

Most of the time when I take part in a blog tour, it's so I can shamelessly promote Lorna's Laces yarns. But sometimes I get intrigued enough by something in a book that I want to talk about it even if our yarn isn't featured. Kristin Omdahl's newest tome, Knitting Wrapsody is like that.

Kristin made her name as a crochet designer, but the fact of the matter is that she's a fabulous knit designer as well. While Knitting Wrapsody is a book of knitting patterns, many of the designs have a distinctly crochet vibe.

Take for example Summit:

Bijou Basin

This is made from Bijou Basin Ranch's Bliss, a 50/50 blend of yak and cormo wool. I've dyed a bit of this yarn and it's really nice.

Another garment that caught my eye is Leilani.

Again, there's a crochet feel to it and the six flower motifs along with the two side triangles would make for an interesting knit.

The last thing I'm going to share is I Do Diamonds.

Buffalo Gold

I like the combination of the angles of the diamonds with the curves on the inside of the those diamonds. And the yarn, Buffalo Gold's Lux, couldn't be any finer. What's not to like about bison, cashmere, silk and tencel? Plus, you can make this shawl with just one skein, and I'm sure you're worth the splurge.

And, I just happen to have a signed copy right here on my desk. Reply to this post for a chance to win! Contest closes at 5:00PM CDT on Wednesday March 23.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Loopy Ewe Shuffle

We were lucky enough to provide The Loopy Ewe with yarn for their Club Loopy this year!

There were a couple of things that are special about it. First, it's a one-of-a-kind color called The Loopy Ewe Shuffle. Beautiful teals and blues with a pop of rich red. It started out with inspiration from Sheri. She and Amanda had a long talk about what she was looking for. Then Amanda took Sheri's words and translated them into color. I think she done good, don't you?

Honor, Loopy Ewe

Club Loopy gives you two patterns with each shipment which I think is a great idea. This one has a shawl from Wendy Johnson and a cowl /mitt set from Debbie O'Neill. We wanted to make sure you'd have enough yarn for either project, so we had our Honor put up in special 350 yarn hanks instead of the usual 275 yards.

Wendy Johnson, Club Loopy, Debbie O'Neill

The last bit of the package is this great tote. It's from a company called Baggu and it's got a quote on it taken from the walls of the shop.

Loopy Ewe Shuffle, Lorna's Laces

I'll leave you today with one last bit of yarn p0rn.

Honor,Lorna's Laces

Oh...and you can get it here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Free to a Good Home

Yesterday on Twitter and Facebook, I posted a picture of a skein of yarn that had gotten tangled beyond belief. Part of the reason I decided to share it was that because we've all been there. A perfectly reasonable skein of yarn gets its knickers all bunched up and decides to become the skein of ill repute. Yesterday's version of disgraceful woolliness was Bullfrogs and Butterflies in 25ns Mint.

I'm pretty sure that my skein of yarn was in cahoots with Stefanie Japel's yarn, because she'd posted something earlier in the week about yarn getting tangled up when the washing machine bag came undone.

Then earlier today, Jennie the Potter mentioned that she was sorting bubble wrap. She's on her way to Madison, WI for their big annual event this weekend and was packing up her wares. So, I got to thinking.... Skeins generally come to us tied in three different places and we remove two of the ties so what you get looks neat and tidy. We end up with piles of those ties.

I don't think there's a single one of us who doesn't have at least one pillow stuffed with yarn bits and bobs. I routinely use it as packing material instead of bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is whether someone else can use it? I don't know that it would be reliable enough for something like Jennie's pots. Would it be practical to ship it for someone else to use as packaging material? Does anyone have any ideas? We'd be happy to start collecting it for someone and it's free to a good home.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Miss Abby

It's funny how things change. There was a time when we had as many dogs come to the studio as humans every day. I brought Hank and Pearl. David brought Oliver and Sydney. Ruby and Fozzie accompanied Eric. There were Diana and Seth, Stella and Sam.

Then David moved to Atlanta, Ruby left to take another job. The inevitable march of time had its way, first with Hank and then with Pearl.

On a personal level, the loss of Pearl last June marked the first time since I was a teenager that I've been without a pet. I had a cat all the way through college and when I got my first "real" job, I felt grown up enough handle the responsibilities that go along with a dog. Max, a Shar-Pei, joined my life.

My husband and I decided to take some time off from the routine of 6 a.m. walks and lint rollers. We make noises about a glamorous month-long european holiday and discuss the allure of turning every weekend into a three or four day affair. Now that we don't have a dog, we can do so much more. We'll live a free wheelin' life with not a care in world.

Or not.

The fact is that life has continued on. The glam vacation hasn't happened and neither one of us has been chosen as the lead in a biopic of some famous movie star.

While we haven't brought home a pup, we have filled the opening in the studio dog department. Abby is a new staffer at Lorna's Laces. She's Megan's cattle dog mix and settled in beautifully on her first day.

Getting to scratch and ear and rub a belly every day is really nice. We're thrilled to have a studio dog again. Thanks Megan!