A Change of Pace

So during the week I was doing my comprehensive exam, the internet went out 4 times. During downtimes I needed something to calm me down so I wouldn’t call and say terrible things to my internet provider. So, I pulled out my Ashford Knitter’s Loom and the Irish Spring Scarf kit from Bluebonnet Hill Alpacas. I have only used the loom maybe 3 times in the 2 years I’ve owned it so, needless to say, I’m not real great at this. I have a hard time getting my edges even. When I started this project I Googled how to do that and, I know this will shock you, but the solution given was “go slowly and carefully”. Crazy, huh? I also don’t beat my rows very evenly. I think I was able to improve my edges this time over the last time but on my next project I’d like to focus on beating really tight and even.

Here’s the process. Also, please excuse the finished project pictures. I took the scarf in my purse to show my Mom (I like to try and justify her purchasing this loom for me) and it got wrinkled. I haven’t had a chances to straighten it out again.

hoto iage image_1 image_2 image_3 image_4 image photo

Hmm…

So I started a project tonight and, after casting on 450 stitches (it’s a scarf knit lengthwise) and then completing the first row (so 900 stitches), I went to look back at how the first row had turned out and something hit me. The scarf is done in linen stitch. Other than the texture of the stitch and some fringe, it’s just a plain old rectangular scarf. I was planning to knit it in black and bronze. Here’s the issue though; knitting a texture based project in black is like coloring on white paper with a white crayon. You can work and work and work, but you’re not going to see results. The black is just too dark to show the fine texture of the linen stitch in fingering weight yarn. Which is really disappointing because the pattern is lovely and I adore the yarn I picked out but, after row one, I stood there in the shower and had to really consider whether it’s even worth continuing. I mean, why do a pattern that is all about the gorgeous texture if you can’t see it?

I love the pattern so much that it’s probably worth saving for later (I never make a pattern twice). Plus I think I love it because the examples are bright and colorful and this one wouldn’t be that.

But I put 900 stitches into this already and I really have to think about whether I want to rip it out and start something new.

The pattern in question is the Kiogu Linen Stitch Scarf from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.

I’m going to need to think about this one some more. And look at some other patterns so see what would work better for my yarn.

Isn’t it lovely?

DFW Fiber Fest Fun

This weekend is the DFW FIber Festival in Grapevine. It happened that I was off Friday and my Mom was able to sneak away from work for a few hours so we went. We stopped at Spring Creek Barbecue on the way (which was yum) and then set off to shopping! I didn’t get to do any classes because they filled up so early and I don’t get my work schedule enough in advance, but we still went to the vendor area.

My Mom is the type of knitter who likes to have a project in mind before buying yarn. She does have a meager yarn stash, but mostly she buys specifically to make a certain item. She especially likes to see an example item or maybe the picture of the pattern and then try to make something just like that. For example, she saw the red blanket I made for my grandmother and decided to make a similar red blanket. Although, once she realized the blanket was (nearly) all stockinette, she changed to a basketweave motif. But I digress. Since she is this type of knitter, going to a big room of yarn, without a pattern in mind, wasn’t really for her.

We did a big loop of the vendors, got some tea, and then went back to purchase. She ended up with only a little project bag from The Knitting Fairy, because it had cowboy boots on it. Now, please keep in mind, this is a woman who owns a quilt fabric shop (which has a ton of cowboy themed stuff) and could sew up a little drawstring pouch like this in about 2 minutes. But she saw the little bag and wanted it.

She bought me a bag at the same time because I was charmed by the little purple elephants. Purple being my favorite color and all. The bag is small, about the size for a sock project, but I’m planning to do some purple hats for Period of Purple Crying so they’ll easily fit in there.

Little Project Bag. Reminds me of Dumbo

Little Project Bag.
Reminds me of Dumbo  

Both bags were from That Semifero Grrl.

My mom also got a little tin of hand lotion, but other than that she resisted. She almost went back from some Malabrigo yarn she saw but changed her mind at the last minute.

I was not as strong.

I was doing good in not buying much for all of the vendors. There was yarn, bags, pottery, baskets, knitting accessories, and lots of fiber. I don’t spin, but all the soft, fluffy fiber made me want to take it up even more.

The we got to the last vendor we looked at. They had yarn from their own alpacas. There was a sample of a cool beaded scarf that I liked and decided I could make. It was pricey since it had the yarn, beads, and some notions and since the yarn was hand spun alpaca. Let me just say, I love alpaca. The yarn was such airy, spring colors. I couldn’t resist.

 

 

From the same booth, I picked up another kit of alpaca yarn that is for weaving an irish spring scarf. I have a loom that I’ve only made about two things on. They were pretty ugly. I’m hoping the kit will encourage me to get back on the loom and make a pretty, soft scarf. All the yarn is from Bluebonnet Hills Alpaca Ranch and the yarn and kits are sold by WC Mercantile. 

So you can see the yarn and beads for my scarf

So you can see the yarn and beads for my scarf

Irish Spring Scarf

Irish Spring Scarf

Kit for loom weaving

Kit for loom weaving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also just had to get some awesome Tenino yarn from Brooks Farm Yarn. It’s a mix of tencel and merino that is vaguely shiny and soft. I had heard of Brooks Farm doing trunk shows at The Knitting Fairy but I had never gone. I was so impressed by their wares that I will definitely go next time! I also picked up a scarf pattern to go along with the yarn. The photo doesn’t do the beautiful mauve color justice. I’m really excited to use it.

Tenino and scarf pattern

Tenino and scarf pattern

There was some other yarn from Brooks Farm that I really liked but didn’t get and now I’m regretting it. They haven’t posted it on their website so I don’t have an alternate way to get it.

I also pulled three paper grocery sacks of yarn to donate at the Fest that I accidentally left at home. Technically  one of the sacks is from takeout so it’s bigger that a grocery sack. It was a lot of yarn, but I decided to clear out my cheaper yarn (chair store type yarn) because I don’t think I’ll use it. Experience has taught me that using the best materials available makes for the best product.

I’m off tomorrow and it is the last day of the Fest so I am considering running back up there (Grapevine isn’t that far from Arlington, right?) to get the other skien of yarn from Brooks Farm and drop off my donations. I’m going to use donating a heap of yarn as my justification. That’s ok, right?

Plus, I could also check around about where to learn to spin.

Other plans for Sunday include possibly adding other piercing to each ear with my friend Emily (I’ve always wanted 3 lobe rings) and writing up a ethnographic research report and a grant proposal.

Another random note about Fiber Fest: it made me want to hang out with an alpaca. They’re fluffy, soft and have cute muppet faces.

Surprise Alpaca!

Back in The Stash!

After multiple attempts to make something legitimate out of this Blue Heron yarn… I have given up and banished it back to the stash.

Here’s what went wrong:

1. The Tag – The yarn is from a small company that uses one generic tag for all their yarns. It lists the possible yarns with yardage. The option selected on my tag said “Silk/Rayon Twist – 350 Yards”. Ravelry told me that this was an Aran weight yarn. I ignored the fact that this seemed lighter than an Aran, but I’ve never been skilled at guessing yarn weight. I also ignored that, when I was rolling it, there seemed to be more than 350 yards.

After much more research, I finally found a photo of this supposed Silk/Rayon Twist. It was definitely not what I had…

2. The First Pattern – During my brief delusion that I was dealing with an Aran weight yarn, I pursued a few patterns for Arans and cast on a scarf on US 7 needles. It looked like fishnet… I sized all the way down to US4 needles and was finally able to get a little stitch definition and a solid fabric. I struggled with the pattern for awhile and finally decided it wasn’t intended for such a silky, shiny yarn. You couldn’t see the details well.

I frogged it. 

3. The Real Yarn – So I finally browsed the manufactures website (which leaves much to be desired), plus Ravelry, and was able to venture a pretty good guess that I actually had Softwist Rayon yarn, which Ravelry touts as a DK. It comes in skeins of 525 yards, which sounded more fitting to my ball winding time. 

4. The Next Search – I began to search for patterns that would work for anything from fingering weight to DK, but specifically those that were intended for rayon, hoping to avoid the issue with the first pattern. I found a pattern for a gorgeous cowl.

5. The Cowl- I cast on the cowl with US 5 needles, as the pattern requested. It still came out very lose with little to no stitch definition. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of lace knitting and all, but that wasn’t my intention for this at all. 

I frogged the meager cowl start.

6.Another pattern- I don’t even remember what this was meant to be. A scarf? I think. All I remember is I specifically bought US5 straight needles to knit it. It was crappy. 

It was frogged.

6. Let’s make s**t up! –Exhausted with all my previous attempts, I pulled out some size US 4 needles (which I had determined to be the best size for this yarn), cast on some random number of stitches until it looked vaguely scarf width, and decided to do a stockinette scarf with a small garter stitch border. After only a row or two, I decided the 4’s were too big still.

A little frogging was don.

I yanked the US3’s out of another project and tried again. After an inch of garter stitch, it still didn’t look like what I wanted at all.

Finally, I ripped the damn needles out, frogged the whole mess, and this stupid, silky, shiny, beautiful, impossible to use, expensive, wonderful, horrible yarn was banished into the back of stash closet. 

I do not want to see it again until it can come back out and behave like upstanding yarn. 

 

The Novice and the Novelty Yarn

Once upon a time, when I was a new knitter, I discovered a wacky skein of yarn at the store that fascinated me. It was Alp Premier by Feza, an interesting novelty yarn that contains numerous, very different textures and weight of yarn hand tied into one skein. The yarn shop employee knew I was a new knitter and told me that there was a pattern to go along with the yarn for a scarf that wouldn’t be too difficult for me to figure out. There was even a sample of the scarf knit up for me to see. She sent me home with the Arrowhead Scarf pattern and the yarn.

As someone who taught themselves to crochet, I should have known that novelty yarn isn’t compatible with a new knitter.  I should have told myself all those tidbits of wisdom: it’s hard to see your stitches, difficult to handle, slippery, whatever. I didn’t.

The following mess is as far as I got.

I was having the hardest time keeping the fuzzy/slippery/lumpy/skinny/textured yarn on my needles and seeing my stitches was near impossible. At the end of each row, I would find my stitch count off from the pattern, every single time. As a novice (and, in hindsight, silly) knitter, I would just add stitches at the end if I was short, or knit a couple together if I had extra. Don’t even ask me why it didn’t register in my brain that this would effect the shape of the final product. The fact that the scarf came out as arrow shaped as it did is a miracle of nature.

One big issue was dealing with the transition between yarns. Each variety has been hand tied to the next in a big loop. You can’t just knit an entire knot and loop into your scarf in such an open pattern and think it won’t show. My idea was to untie each connection and join it back in like you would a new ball of yarn. Of course, this meant joining a new yarn in every three or four rows. I thought I was a genius, I knew better than to knit a tie into my piece. Here’s what I didn’t consider, several of these yarns have an odd texture – some are ropy, some are like ribbon, and my clever little joins… fell apart. Well that, plus the fact that I had probably dropped a stitch or two (or three, or five) along the way and ignored it.

Once I made it as far as is shown in the picture, I picked the project and watched not one, but two, stitches work their way down the scarf, leaving behind a trail of destruction. If you look closely, you can see one hole just right of the center in the sage green section.

Not exactly a scarf

Not exactly a scarf

I decided I should have never taken this project on. I had no clue what I was doing. I really should’ve known better; I had been burned by novelty yarns before. I once crocheted a hideous capelet from some fire colored ribbon yarn. Oh, and gave it tan, fuzzy trim. No one will ever wear that thing… In retrospect, I have no clue what I was thinking. I had yarn for brains that day, I guess.

Now, a year later, I decided to rip this monstrosity off the needles and try again. I made it to the first yarn join and gave up again. I honestly don’t know what should do about those big, loopy knots and this yarn’s resistance to joining.

After browsing around on Ravelry, it would seem that a lot of knitters had the same issues. The project notes are rife with complaints about how terrible the yarn is to work with. ‘

I’ve decided to toss this yarn into the bottom of the scrap bag and move on like i’ve never seen it. Some yarns just weren’t to be knit by me, no matter how much experience I gain.

 

My scarf could’ve looked like this…

A Bit Crazy

So last night I wound up some beautiful new yarn (Classy with Cashmere in Happy Forest) and was just about to cast on when… I had a needle snafu. For some reason my needle tip wouldn’t screw onto the cord. I have the Knitter’s Pride Dreamz interchangeable set and I absolutely love them. However, I think I must have overtightened the connection and stripped the threading.

Somehow, this was my only set of size 7 circulars so I wasn’t able to start the hat. “No problem”, I thought. “I’ll just zip out tomorrow to get another.” Well, it didn’t work out that way. My local yarn shop was out of the size 7’s and, with the time I got off work, I wasn’t able to make it to Fort Worth to make it to the shop that had them.

So I had to sit there and think about what I wanted to do. I could run by the nearest crafting mega-store and buy a set of needles to cast on with and then switch to the Dreamz once I could. I realized it was pretty silly I couldn’t wait one or two days to get the replacement needle I need before starting the project. It’s not as though I don’t have plenty of other things I could be working on. I still need to do that second Knit Night Glove. I have a little baby blanket on the needles and a scarf.

So, for once, I’m forcing myself to practice a little knitting self control and actually waiting to get the needle I want before starting the new hat. I can abandon those projects again on Friday..

In the meantime, I’m working on the Dandy Scarf in Handmaiden Yarn’s Maiden Hair color Peridot. I will say, this is a really sumptuous yarn, and the pattern is nice and simple. I haven’t really gotten into this project, in spite of those two things, but I hope that will change.

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