Friday, December 28, 2007

Fiber Friday 12/28/07

I admit I'm really working for the weekend lately... And here it is upon us now, so, yeah!

Obviously I'm still on a break from spinning but I love Fiber Friday too much not to share some homespun anyway. Please jump with me into the time vortex. And, go!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Is it wrong to say I am extremely pleased with this yarn?

Probably... But I am. It's balanced.

This is all natural yarn - natural white mill ends, natural coopworth from Santa Ynez Valley, and natural black wool. 4.9 oz. 110 yards.

The yarn is meant to stripe itself. I'm thinking of entering in this year's LA County Fair for judgement. I recall they value a yarn's balance.

I wonder how they would judge a crazy art yarn? "Overspun" "Inconsistent thickness" "Impractical" Okay now I'm wanting to submit one of those too.

Have a great one everyone!

/end flashback.

I didn't end up entering this yarn into the Fair this year but I did enter three others that all won ribbons. (sorry for the obnoxious bragging)

I DID submit a somewhat crazy art yarn just to see how they would react because the judges tend to be traditionalists. They liked it okay I guess, though it was deemed "Inconsistent."

That's kinda what was great about it, lady.

(And there is your tease for next week's Fiber Friday)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hill Country Yarn Sock Contest

I haven't written in a few days, not that I went out of town or anything. But YOU probably did, and I didn't want you to miss anything.

I am just proofing a new pattern and then I am going to submit it!

No spoilers here. Just the yarn.

The fiber is pretty sweet and on size US 3 needles, a quick knit.

This lavender color is not my usual thing, but I've noticed in the Wide World of Knitters that people like the blues and purples.

I am a rust and slate and honey person. I love the sort of colors I am always reading about "ruining" the fuchsias of noro.

Excuse me... but, your fuchsia is actually ruining my mustard! Okay, I don't really mean that but I had to stick up for the unloved colors.

I do like both chocolate and peanut butter so perhaps we can all get along after all. I'm sure you'll at least agree that "The Fuchsias of Noro" should be the title of something.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Loopy Ewe Lovelies

I must share this super pretty yarn right this instant.

I fully admit to loving The Loopy Ewe. I am not yet a Loopy Groupie but I am definitely on my way.

Facts: L to R: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Thin special color Pearberry, Duet Sock Yarn Skinny Terracotta Landscape, CTH Supersock Thin special color First Bloom, and Araucania Ranco number 307.

In this recent shopping adventure I picked up some special yarns. There were some limited edition colorways, exclusive to Loopy from Cherry Tree Hill at a special price that I flat out couldn't resist.

I've also been curious about Duet Sock yarn, with the second skein of contrasting yarn for the heels and toes.

The Ranco just jumped in my cart right when I checked out. It's an "are you kidding me?" type of beautiful dye job. Every time I look at it I don't really believe my eyes.

I'm sharing this because looking at pictures of special yarn makes me happy and perhaps other people like to look at pretty yarn too. I love imagining the potential.

Despite my recent yarn buying enabling I've been guilty of, do not feel like I am saying you have to go out and buy anything today... On the other hand, you've been very good this year, right?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fiber Friday 12/21/07

Happy Fiber Friday everyone!

In case you were hoping for something from Tiffany's this year but maybe are fairly certain it isn't going to happen, I bring you a Tiffany's inspired yarn in this week's Fiber Friday Flashback.

I spun this one in May and here is what it was like:

Friday, May 18, 2007
Despite my recent self-imposed title of "worst blogger ever" I do have something to share for Fiber Friday.

It's another Tiffany yarn and it now belongs to Crafty Ginger!

To make yarn like this you dye mixed wools and mill ends a Tiffany blue. Then you overspin a single and set aside. Then string sturdy holographic thread with real pearls.

Next, ply the single with the thread and there you have it! Wrap it in a pretty white ribbon for gifting, of course.

I probably should have coaxed more pearls to the top of the skein for the photos the way a yarn stylist would. Lesson learned.

It's Friday today... Fiber Friday! The very best day of the week!

/end flashback. Man, I should start making more of those again.

PS - It might be a good day to go over to Crafty Ginger's blog and give her a hug. OR buy something awesome from her etsy shop. Either way.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tis the season

It's all about knitting gifts for people this year, right? I mean for YOU. For me, I have already screwed this up.

In the middle of the semi-reasonable gift spending, I am tempted to keep buying yarn for myself. I am back on a yarn diet for the time being, though I am not saying for how long.

I was soooooo good this summer. I didn't buy ANY yarn for almost all of 2007 in fact. (I know, shocking) Why?

1. I wasn't working regularly. No money in = no money out.

2. My stash is big enough. It pains me to type that out, but it may be true.

3. I'm moving next year. I need to be lightening up on things, not acquiring things.

Starting around the end of October I started buying yarn again. Why?

1. I got a new job. Yay for regular paychecks.

2. I significantly reduced my stash and had room.

3. I didn't have enough sock yarn.

4. The yarn was on sale.

5. I found hard to get yarn in stock. (Wollmeise, people. See the pictures?)

6. My new job got stressful. I needed yarn.

Are you seeing that there are always more reasons to buy yarn than to not buy yarn? Diets are hard. Being common sense about it would be better, but then again, I could have much worse habits too!

This reminds me, I still want to show off my latest order from the Loopy Ewe. And I have more Wollmeise coming to me in the mail, so I'll have to show that off too...

Yes, all the purchases were made before the yarn diet started. I know what you were thinking.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stash enhancement

Remember back a few weeks ago to Black Friday?

For those not in the US, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, where we are so stuffed from overeating that we have to go out and overspend. It's the law.

I usually avoid leaving the house if I can help it because crowds of people looking for bargains frighten me. Also, a few years back I went to Best Buy on Black Friday and got my ankle cut open by a crazy lady with a shopping cart.

This year I was innocently surfing the web in my pajamas when I found out about a special online yarn sale at Eat, Sleep, Knit. I had to immediately make a purchase.

It was a really fun mystery sale, where you didn't know how much of a discount you were getting until after you checked out. It was said to range from 10% all the way to 100% off. I got very caught up in that.

I bought: (left to right) Dream in Color Smooshy in Chinatown Apple, Claudia Hand Painted Fingering in Moss, and Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Baltic Sea and Black Purl.

I held my breath and checked out... 35% off! Free shipping! Par-ty!

The elation lasted about 30 seconds, and then I instantly wanted to go back and buy more. I wanted to try my luck again, like with a slot machine. What if I won a bigger discount? My mind raced.

I fought the urge but it started to make me crazy. I stalked the site and watched the yarns slowly turn over to "out of stock." And then, my computer died.

I "appreciate" the helping hand that kept me from making another purchase, however, I was now forced to go to the Apple store on Black Friday... With thousands of other people. It wasn't exactly fun, but at least nothing bad happened to my ankles this time.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Take a walk on the wild side

The older I get, the more I tend to play it safe. I'm in bed early, I drink plenty of water and I always wear a helmet on a bike.

My main hobby is playing with yarn and I like making friends online who share this interest, so I spend a lot of time over on Ravelry.

I'm in a few groups there, and especially enjoy one called Sock Knitter's Anonymous, where every month there is a theme to help motivate the sock making.

This month's challenge is to make cuff-down socks.

Wide open theme.

Surely I could come up with something other than basic vanilla ribbed socks? Well, sort of. But not really.

I tend to avoid bright clothes, but I am starting to give myself permission to go nuts with the socks.

I don't know how to use this yarn except in the most basic way.

I don't know quite what I was thinking when I picked up the yarn in the first place.

I don't know how to admit the electricity of these socks make me smile.

I imagine when I wear them later on, I can hide them under some long jeans and then no one will know herein lurks the craziest socks of all time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fiber Friday 12/14/07

Okay. My spinning and I are "on a break" right now and I have been seeing other yarns. But it is Friday after all, so why not take a walk down memory lane and recall the good times... Remember the adventures we used to have together?

Here and now, I bring you yarn I spun (and blogged) around this time last year.

Late Dec. 2006 - It's all novelty yarns this week. I've been experimenting with different techniques and I feel like I still have a long way to go, but I'm having a lot of fun.

First up: nubs and slubs. 2.7 oz, 47 yards.

The next one is plied with holographic thread and has tinsel spun into it. 2.8 oz, 52 yards.

The last one is really crazy. It was created for the upcycle contest on etsy. The challenge: UPCYCLE - "Take something disposable and transform it into something of greater use and value."

Walking around my neighborhood I found inspiration littering the sidewalks - used up christmas trees. I decided to spin some yarn based on the sort of things you can pick up off the dead trees - tinsel, broken fairy lights, bits of garland and fake snow. (The fake snow, by the way, is made of ingeo, a by-product of corn!) I also used recycled wool and string to hold everything together. This skein weighs 3.9 oz and measures 24 yards.

It's funny. I wanted to enter this contest with crazy homespun, but not long after I listed it, the yarn sold! I'm happy about it, but I also was panicking that meant I was out of the contest (which I'm not) and thinking I should spin more crazy CRAZY yarn.

By the way, homespun yarn IS upcycling, no matter what you put in there, considering we use the clippings of haircuts - both plant and animal. Don't you think?

Okay - back to the present. Thank you for the stroll. I think I might show some more off again next Friday.

ps - I didn't win the contest, but I was very okay with that!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dublin Bay Socks

Finished! These socks were a self-imposed challenge: Work the stripes in a way I liked. See here for part one of the saga.

Pattern: Dublin Bay socks by Ryan Morrissey of Mossy Cottage Knits.

Yarn: Knitpicks Essential Multi Tuscany Special.

Needles: Knitpicks Harmony Double pointeds, US size 1.5 (2.5mm)

Pattern Review: The socks are knit cuff down with a lace panel, an eye of the partridge heel, and a grafted toe.

Knitting from the pattern was easy, the directions were clear. I basically followed the instructions as written with one change...

Modifications: I continued the lace design down both sides of the foot. Making the firestarter socks recently gave me the idea that the action on a sock can happen along the sides and I plan on experimenting with this concept more in the future.

Yarn Review: What can one say about Knitpicks yarn that hasn't been said already? I feel like this yarn is a great value, though I am not in love with the cranberry and evergreen Christmas colors. (personal preference - you do your thing and rock the Christmas if you want to)

Overall: Great socks! They were fun to knit, they fit well, and I'm proud of my first eye of the partridge heel. There is one problem, but not with the yarn or the pattern. Do you see it? Perhaps not, thanks to my creative posing. Clue: top photo.

The socks are not identical twins. I always seem to knit that second sock at a different gauge. I was bothered by this at first and kept trying to knit tighter or looser to see if it would help. Bad idea. This only made my gauge more inconsistent, which shows in the striping. I accept now that they are fraternal, and their bright colors make them look enough alike.

I don't know if you have noticed or why I am actually pointing this out to you, but the edge of my foot appears to have a level of whiteness my teeth would envy. Seeing my bright foot through the lace makes me want to put self tanning lotion along the sides of each foot immediately.

In conclusion, I love these socks!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Quant, part 2

I am still walking around quite shocked that I have a pattern in the amazing winter 2007 knitty, and I'm honored to be side by side with the rest of those beautiful patterns!

I want to answer a few questions I have received:

1. The name is an homage to Mary Quant.

2. Oh, my name? Yes, my name really is Star Athena. My parents gave it to me. Most people call me Star. I have a last name, but I don't need it since I seem to be the only Star Athena making knitting patterns.

3. Yes, you are probably doing it right. Entrelac looks funny. See photo for proof. It will look better when you are done and you have blocked the crap out of it.

4. I did not manipulate the yarn to make the colors show up in certain places, though I am not against the idea of doing that. I could say I planned it carefully, but honestly I think I got lucky with where the yarn changed colors right off.

If you are substituting yarns and have that pretty one with knots, (not naming names) you will have to get creative about joining your yarns. I believe in you.

5. Not a question or answer but a thank you. Thank you to anyone who said something nice to me or about me or thought something nice or is nice. Thank you because this has otherwise been a challenging week and I swear it was the knitting, knitters and knit-related web that made everything better.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Pattern: Quant

The new knitty is here and I have been DYING to talk about it but have been a good girl and kept my trap shut...

Trying to stay calm... losing battle... dancing like a toddler...

Okay, I am bad at playing it cool. Today is just too exciting!

I would like to make a suggestion for those wanting to make a smaller version of Quant - just use fingering weight yarn and smaller needles! (like 2.75mm or smaller)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sock Lab

I'd like to take a moment to share with you a recent knitting situation that has triggered a deep obsession: aligning the "right" yarn with the "right" pattern.

The challenge: Knitpicks Essential Multi Tuscany Special.

I first attempted to knit Socktopia's Bellatrix by Gigi Silva.

I love the pattern, but I wasn't feeling it with this yarn.

Next attempt was RPM by Aija Goto. Again, cool pattern but I wasn't enjoying the pooling.

Two strikes: I wanted to put the yarn back in my stash and try something else. I like to relax while knitting, not cast on and rip out over and over like some scene from Dante's Inferno.

At this point the process turned philosophical. Conceptually, I don't believe any yarn is ugly. I think the yarn just hasn't found the "right" pattern. Truthfully, I feel like some yarn IS ugly, but only in secret.

I wasn't going to quit. I was determined to make this yarn work. Enter Dublin Bay socks by Ryan Morrissey.

The yarn started to stripe in a pleasing way. The lace panel breaks up the stripes in a pleasing way. The "eye of the partridge" heel is, yeah, pleasing.

And now for a word regarding the yarn. The "special" in the title refers to the fact that this particular yarn was a color they weren't totally happy with when it first arrived at Knitpicks. They went back to the drawing board and sold the skeins at a reduced price. I love a bargain, and took a chance on it.

In general, yarn with the word "Tuscany" in the title stands a good chance of being a color I will like. When I got the yarn in the mail, I was afraid the evergreen and cranberry would look too christmas-y. Thus the seed of the challenge was planted... make it work.

I wanted to prove to myself that there is no ugly yarn. Just preferences and personal tastes.

By the way, Essential is a very soft yarn. Maybe everyone already knows this, but I learned recently that Essential used to be scratchy, but it is now soft. Which brings up another philosophical debate: sock yarns, soft or strong?

Soft sock yarn is a treat to knit and wear. However, it is more likely to pill and fuzz, and then wear out quicker.

Scratchy sock yarn is less fun to knit and wear, but will make harder wearing socks, and will likely last longer. Also, they potentially will soften in time.

I reserve my opinion on this matter until I have tried every single yarn on the planet, in the interest of research. It's a major sacrifice, but I am willing to give it a try!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

My First Wollmeise

As I fear I may be becoming a yarn collector I have to share the Big Score that I am almost afraid to touch... Wollmeise.

Yarn is meant to be used, sure, but this particular fiber is hard to come by. The performace anxiety I am experiencing is pretty significant, but I will manage to take the first step any day now: using the ball winder.

Just in case there are some people not "cool enough" to know about Wollmeise let me share a bit with you. In short, this yarn is a unicorn.

Wollmeise is a one-person hand-dyed yarn business located in Germany. The texture of the yarn base is unique. It feels like cotton in the skein, but I've heard it has some bounce when knitted. It's many plies, tightly spun.

What struck me is the color. I have no idea how she does it, but the colors glow. Even the darkest of colors have a light inside of them that doesn't totally translate on the web.

I've heard people wax poetic on the scent of the yarn. They claim it's fruity. I detect cedar. It seems to change depending on the sniffer. Yes, it's magic.

I am now suggesting you get some. The only place to get it in the US is The Loopy Ewe but they are usually out of stock. Why not do what I did? Order directly from Germany, here.

Unless you speak German, you'll want to hit the little US flag icon at the top of the page. Then, look around at the pretty yarn. The in stock list is helpful. Google can convert Euros to dollars. Then Paypal will finish the transaction. After the "what have I done?" feeling fades, the "where is my package?" feeling takes over. Then, the happy dance.

I have done some math and I'll save you time. The shipping price is done by weight, so the best deal is actually to order 5 skeins. If this is too much for your budget, order 2. (the second best deal) OR go in on an order with a friend! Hey, we're friends, right?

From what I see on Flickr and Ravelry, Wollmeise is the new meth. It's very trendy, so hang tough!