Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Psycho Yarn Stash Freakout!

I've been so motivated lately, since joining Ravelry, and since really taking to heart what a frick-freakin' mess this apartment has become, to Do Something About the Yarn Stash. Seriously. When I internalized-realized just how many projects the yarn represented -- not hats, not scarves, not tiny amigurumi animals but full size adult sweaters -- and how much yarn still exists out there in the world NOT owned by me, I found my pretty typed list of Yarn vs Project looked pretty pathetic.

So I did one clever thing, which was to immediately begin a project with the yarn I bought most recently because after all I bought the stuff partly because the color suits this fall's fashions, being deep plummy purple, and being yummy, and gorgeous, and one of the last knitting mags I bought just happened to have the perfect project for it. yay! Now this yarn won't sit around til the next time plummy purple is in all the stores. Not that I won't wear it other years...but sometimes it's nice to be in lockstep when it's not full of fail.

And I thought about all the cheap acrylic and cotton yarns I destashed over the years by giving them away, and realized that those efforts did nothing to make a dent in all the wool that had somehow also piled up. So I looked up charity knitting efforts requiring wool, and I've been dutifully knitting youth sweaters and vests and I am thrilled, thrilled to report that after only 2 weeks of serious effort I've finished 1 sweater entirely, have another waiting for blocking & assembling, have a vest 3/4 finished, and started a new super-bulky project yesterday. How much yarn used up so far...? Well, the bulky waiting for blocking used up--ta-dah!--5 large skeins of really coarse handspun and 3 skeins of soy wool blend, the vest has used up 3 balls of Pingouin fingering (see an earlier post), and the new bulky is using up most of a bag of huge skeins of New Zealand yarn and a few skeins of natural alpaca/wool blend too.

But...uh, I also ordered some wool yarn before I quite realized just how much I still have to de-stash. Well crap. I used up 8 skeins of green on sweater #1, and I'm using 5 of brown on the vest...I can use up the blue combining it with the leftover green and something else...

Still in the de-stash queue: 8 skeins of Soy Wool Stripes, 8 skeins olive Pingouin fingering, 11 skeins gray and white Aarlan wool (ancient!), 4 or 5 large skeins Germantown wool that were knitted up into an unfortunate skirt project but never unraveled/frogged, 3 skeins ugly yellow handspun and 1 orange, whatever is left of the gray NZ wool...and some cool 1 or 2 skein things leftover from olden times.

I have a couple of treats emerging from the stash bags that I'll be posting soon. Including a really strange wool/nylon blend from about 26 years ago that boasts on it's label it was Dylanized.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Missoni "Pag"

From Alisonj on eBay (with a few minor edits):
3 x 50g balls of MISSONI "PAG" knitting crochet weaving yarn
61% cotton/31% acrylic/8% polyamide
made in Italy
137 yds (125m)/ball for a total of 411 yds (375m)
colorway #202/soft taupe-sagebrush-terra cotta-teal multicolor mix, dye lot 3343
hand wash, dry flat
"Pag" is a lovely, soft mini-boucle yarn from the much-missed MISSONI line of handknitting yarns
was $9.95/ball (many years ago), for a total retail value of $29.85.

Yay, more Missoni for the list! I like this one, it looks like it feels scrunchy and crisp. The color and texture absolutely recall Missoni runway high-fashion creations.

The NYC Missoni boutique is on Madison & 78th. I sometimes get off the Mad Ave bus a stop before 79th St just so I can peer in the windows and luv the colors on the ridiculously expensive and oddly cut clothes. A few years ago they had shoes in the window that were just insanely beautiful shades of turquoise and green, the kind of shoes I would've bought just to admire cos my feet would never fit in them.

MMmmmissoni. Yaaaarrrrrrnn. Looooove.

Thank you, alisonj! There will be more goodies from her stash here soon I hope!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Germantown worsted

This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole:

"Germantown Yarn. [From having been first made at Germantown, Pa., which city at present constitutes the 22nd ward of Philadelphia,] A coarse heavy woolen yarn, extensively used for knitting fancy articles, especially heavy scarfs, hoods, mittens and the like. It has been superseded to some extent in recent years by German Knitting Worsted."

Interesting page mentioning Brunswick Germantown being substituted with Cascade 220.

The yarns were apparently notorious for replacing hand-spun in the making of Navajo and other Native American woven textiles and rugs.

Later the yarns were offered in 100% acrylic and Orlon, having been wool previously.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Plymouth Cairo De Luxe

Plymouth Yarns Cairo De Luxe
Weight: DK
100 yards (91 meters) / 50 grams (1.76 ounces)
Gauge: 22.0 = 4 inches
Needle size: US 6 / 4.0 mm
77% Cotton, 23% Viscose Rayon (plied cotton twisted with a rayon ply)
Came in a lot of colors besides black: white, beige, burgundy, red, purple, mint, blue...
Discontinued ~2001?

Odd stuff. I bought 20 skeins thinking I'd make a "deluxe" black cardigan from it. But knitting it I decided the texture wasn't very luxurious at all, my swatches all came out a bit rough and stiff. Even the lace swatch. However I will give it one more try.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lion Brand Al-Pa-Ka

From the Lion Brand web site:
Our luxurious blend of 30% wool, 30% alpaca, and 40% acrylic is warm and hand washable. It wears well and looks great year after year. Whatever you create, Al•Pa•Ka makes it even more special.

4-ply worsted weight.1.75 oz./50g (107 yd./98m) balls.

30% wool, 30% alpaca, and 40% acrylic.
Gauge: Knit: 16 St sts + 23 rows = 4" (10 cm) on size 8 (5mm) needles.
Crochet: 13 sc + 16 rows = 4" (10 cm) on size I hook.
Made in Turkey.
Fabric Care Instructions: Hand wash in in cool or warm water; dry flat and not by machine. Do not bleach or iron.

Whew, that Lion link is looking a bit wonky, so I decided to just copy all the remaining info about this yarn. It's sort of sad that a nice chunky worsted alpaca blend was discontinued just as alpaca yarns became really hot and popular, but c'est la fibre. Gosh I hope the silly spelling didn't have anything to do with it...not with those cute cute alpacas also on the label!

I once was forced to knit a 100% alpaca sweater, in black, in sport weight, as a design sample. The memory of all...that...hot...warm...fuzzy...unyielding yarn has stayed with me. I also don't need anything that warm. But when I came across heavily discounted packages of Lion Brand AlPaKa at my fave local yarn sale about hm seven or eight years ago, I fell in love. It's soft, cuddly, just slightly fuzzy, with a slight sheen and nice strong ply.

I bought lots of Mink Brown and have been steadily working away at a gigantic cabled hoodie; this particular item will be blogged about if and when I finish it, because the triple-intersect cable design is extremely mind-boggling and is worth noting. It nearly reduced me to tears on the first row. My fear right now is that having put it aside for about 2 years, wanting lighter-weight projects, is that I'll be unable to remember the trick to it. Even in such dark fuzzy yarn, the cables are crisp and well worth the effort.

The package of 10 creamy white balls became the shawl excerpted below:

I love love love this shawl. It's warm and cuddly on chilly winter nights and mornings as I sit toiling away at my computer in my big-windowed living room. The leaf pattern came from a knitting stitch encyclopedia. EZ knitting on nice fat needles. Beautiful stitch definition.

The package of black yarn is nearly a jacket now, combined with Noro Silk Garden in mosaic panels, using a really striking pattern from Knitter's mag from way back then. I lucked out, having found the Noro yarn 1/2 price at a different Local Yarn Store; it seemed extremely logical to combine it with the luxurious alpaca blend that just happened to be the same gauge and lent the slightly scratchy Silk Garden yarn some softness and suppleness it lacks alone. Only five years later, that too is nearly done! Every summer I swear I'll finish it for the coming fall and winter...I'm hoping that Blog Karma will operate in my favor and force a satisfying conclusion.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Non-extinct yarn musings

Been knitting, of course, lots and lots of knitting, mostly baby stuff for my twin-laden friend. I have discovered I adore using sock yarn, but I am sooo not a sock knitter. Knitting socks is...well, at the end, I've got something to wear on my feet and frankly I'm really hard on my clothes and especially on socks, tending to shove them into boots and shoes with less delicacy than perhaps some people. My nice thick warm angora-wool blend socks from the Gap collect pills like mad. Lesser socks simply go holey. And as I really prefer very lightweight socks and stockings anyway -- the days New York goes utterly sub-arctic these days can be counted on the fingers and toes of one side -- and the socks are utterly hidden by my pants legs and shoes or boots, well what's the point in knitting them?? I know lots of people walk around their house in socking feet, but with cat fur and litter a constant threat I prefer slippers. So lovely handmade socks are not for me. Besides, I really hate knitting in the round at the diameter of a sock. The needles get in each others way. The yarn gets tangled. The circular needles method is too complicated for my poor aged brain. So no. It's cheaper and easier just to buy stuff!

Sudden flashes of absolute genius

I'm sure I'll later go looking and find this advice on a dozen other knit blogs and forums, but here goes. When knitting the two fronts of a cardigan at the same time -- because not doing that is just plain lame -- and knitting the button-band and buttonholes into the front edges, do yourself a huge favor and knit a "reminder" stitch into the band where the button will be attached.

This occurred to me the old-fashioned way, i.e., I made a mistake. I knitted a buttonhole on both bands of my current project, and didn't realize it until many rows later. I decided it wasn't worth doing a tedious undo-three-stitches-crochet-upwards-after fixing thing, since I would be able to just sew the button right over the hole -- BING! In the case of this project, a lacy scrap of stuff made slinky and exciting with Classic Elite Cotton BamBoo, the button band is 5-stitch wide garter and I am now using a single centered purl stitch on the same row as the buttonhole. I will do this for the rest of my knitting life. It is SO much easier than tying in a yarn marker.

(I think I recall reading someone's clever advice -- probably Elizabeth Zimmerman's -- that when knitting a baby sweater in advance of the happy event, you should knit buttonholes on both bands and then sew the buttons over the appropriate side once the gender is known. Frankly I've lost track of what's male/female sided any more. I have jeans that zip one way and shorts that zip another. I've never been too good with gender-assigned clothing convention, other than Real Men Don't Wear Lace.)