Yarn Porn For Labor Day

Quite some time ago, almost a year ago, I bought some Sundara sock yarn. She was discontinuing a particular colorway called Briar Rose. I really loved the picture and I bought the yarn. After knitting one Jaywalker with the yarn, I somehow lost interest and the Jaywalker sat in a box, along with the remain half-ball of Sundara.

 After sorting through some of my knitting supplies, I finally came to terms with the fact that I would never, ever knit a second Jaywalker. I frogged the entire sock and wound it into a a wrinkly ball. Then, I did something else: I listed it for trade/sell on Ravelry.

 Never, never, never do this. Ever.

 Messages jammed my inbox. Just after a scant hour, I could barely keep up with them. I knew Sundara junkies are fierce—but this was very startling proof.

 I finally arranged a swap with Maverick, noticing at the last moment that she was in Scotland. Fortunately, it just cost $4.60 to ship yarn all the way to Scotland! I was very surprised. Today, my yarn arrived in the mail.

S7305271 by you.

Undressed yarn porn!

S7305273 by you.

S7305275 by you.

It’s called Handgefärbte Sockenwolle, 465 yards of a wool-nylon blend. I just picked it because I thought the colors were very pretty. This colorway is called Turkistone. Here’s a link to its Ravelry page. I think this may become a pair of Maelstrom socks,  Cookie A’s latest lace sock pattern, from Twist Collective. It’s definitely soft and squishy, and I think it will be very fun to knit with. I’ve never heard of it before.

 She also tucked in a tiny packet of gummy bears (not pictured, because, duh, they lasted two seconds) and also…..drumroll…tiny sample skeins of Wollmeise colors! They’re very small, very colorful and very soft, probably worsted or bulky weight.

S7305278 by you.

I’m thinking of using the 4 coordinating colors to spice up a hat of plain worsted weight, maybe some green Cascade. That, or maybe a fancy felted headband, because this yarn does not feel like superwash.

 Thanks, Maverick, you went above and beyond in this trade!

 Everyone, enjoy your Labor Day knitting!

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August 31, 2008. Tags: , , . Knittin' Porn. 4 comments.

Allow Me To Live Vicariously Through You…Because That’s So Healthy

 The sign-ups for the Sundara Seasons yarn club are open until the end of this month.  You get 4 shipments of different kinds of yarn: total cost approximately $204. I’ve decided against joining, although (sob) her yarns are beautiful, because even the very reasonable price of $25.50 a month is too much for my yarn budget if I want to you, you know, continue knitting with different yarns. Or whatever. I’m still convincing myself that my life will be complete without the Winter season.

 Go forth, obey my enabling…and post pictures!

 ETA: Seriously, I’m happier without it. I’ve got this Knitpicks order all planned out and I’ll get all kinds of…lovely…beautiful….

*sob*

 Later: Anyone on the market for a soul?

August 27, 2008. Tags: . Snark Editorial. 4 comments.

How Knitters Will Save The World

 I just realized today that knitters will save the world.

 Today, after my annual eye exam, I got to spend some time at Borders. I’ve slowly been reading through this cheerful stack of featured books about how we’re all going to hell in a specially designed handbasket. Barbara Ehrenreich, that kind of thing. I picked up this book called, “Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.”

 Cheerful reading, I know.

 The basic premise of the book is that modern technology and the modern lifestyle has eroded our attention span, and the deep thought required to sustain a society. People reflect less, don’t take the time to disgest information. They don’t have spaces of silence. We place equal value on virtual communication as we do on actual contact with…gasp…human beings!

 The author argues that this means that we will be heading into a technologically advanced but still declining modern Dark Age. People will lose (and have lost) their ability to dwell and muse and think about one thing, one subject, on problem. They’ve lost their ability to not do.

 That’s when I realized that knitters will save the world. Not just knitters, but weavers and crocheters and spinners and everyone that is helping to preserve these ancient crafts. I put down Distracted and proceeded to thoughtfully advance the coming Dark Age by doing two things that once. I knitted my lace shawl and I listened to some podcasts.

 Knitting—at least, a lot of knitting—requires that kind of concentrated attention. Lace, for instance. It took long, extended periods of times when I pushed aside everything else so that I could focus on nothing but slender silver stitches. Now that I’ve gotten the feel of my pattern, I’m experiencing a special kind of zen when I’m working on this now. I feel confident. I feel focused. I’m slowly creating a delicate, impossibly intricate fabric, dreamed and imagined up by other knitters, hundreds of years ago.

 My cabled beret sucked me in like that, too. I was zoned out, in that famous flow state in which I continued to knit, row after row, even when my hands hurt. Believe me, that hat is not perfect. I flubbed a bit of the tubular cast on. There are tiny mistakes that only I notice. But I still felt that.

 In a curious twist of serendipity, I was listening to the 66th episode of the Cast On podcast. Brenda had Cat Bordhi on her show and Cat said something that really connected with me, something that seemed to pull together my scattered thoughts into a whole.

  • “Knitters, when you bring them into knitting, there is something that rises through the knitting that is…it’s like a deep hum or a deep rhythm, something primal and simple and peaceful…*”

 That’s what will save the world, I think. Not cloth grocery bags, sustainable energy or organic yarn, as wonderful as all of those things are. But returning to that deep, concentrated energy, that kind of unthinking thinking that comes to people in different ways. I’m not trying to sound all guruy, because I’m the last person on the earth to turn to for advice, but I think people need distractions when they force themselves to live lives that they dislike. When they skim over the surface and never connect with that creative power that they have. Maybe it comes to them through carpentry. Or pottery or heck, designing car engines. For many people, it comes through knitting.

 And that’s just fine.

(*That was my transcript of what she said, I edited a tiny bit for clarity. Go listen to the show yourself.)

August 25, 2008. Uncategorized. 8 comments.

Interview with Yarn Dyer & Podcaster: Manic Purl’s Chrissy!

 I have rediscovered how much fun knitting podcasts can be. I found my mp3 player and I started to browse iTunes in search of some new knitting podcasts. I immeaditely fell in love with a podcast called The Manic Purl.

 Chrissy Graham has a low-key, chatty podcast that she’s structured into certain categories: knitting news, what’s on her sticks, what’s off her sticks, and book and yarn reviews. She’s podcasting from Vancouver, BC, Canada, and I have to say this: as a totally obnoxious and nasally American, I looove her accent.

I also browsed her website and after I saw her hand-dyed yarns…omigosh…they’re really amazing. Among the many independent yarn dyers out there, she really stands out, which is hard to do.

 So, brazenly, I shot off a note to Chrissy, asking her if she would like to do an interview about her podcast and her 100% natural yarn dyeing. Chrissy very graciously accepted and I had loads of fun doing this interview. If you’re reading this, Chrissy, you’re an interviewer’s dream! And here’s the interview, and I will link both the podcast and her yarn website, Yarn Sprout, at the end of the post!

Genuine: What prompted you to start podcasting?

Chrissy: I’ve been listening to knitting podcasts since Knitcast was the only knitting podcast out there. Honestly, I’d dreamed of podcasting ever since I heard the first episode of Knitcast. Finally, after years of dreaming about it, I decided to jump in and make it a reality.

Genuine: I love the name Manic Purl, but I was a little curious about how you came up with it and what it meant to you. Could you explain a little bit about that?

Chrissy: I live and breath knitting, and those who know me know I’m knitting obsessed. When I was looking for a name, I wanted something to reflect the obsession. From “obsessed” I jumped to “mania” and from there I arrived at “manic”. If you look at the definition of mania you’ll find that it doesn’t only pertain to a serious mental illness, but is also defined as “excessive excitement or enthusiasm” (Dictionary.com). It was definitely the latter that spurred me to use the word manic in the podcast title.

Genuine: How has feedback from your listeners affected the podcast? Has it helped to expand your ideas for future shows?

Chrissy: The feedback from my listeners has been really positive, and more than anything, it has reaffirmed my idea of having a fair amount of structure in the podcast. For the most part, I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying that they like the podcast, but not a lot on how to make it better, or for future shows. I’m hoping to hear more feedback from my listeners in the future.

I have definitely gotten the impression from my listeners that they like interactive things, like knit alongs.

We also have a Manic Purlers group on Ravelry!

Genuine: I know that you tend to keep advertising to a minimum in your podcast, which I appreciate, but I was really interested in your website that sells your yarn, Yarnsprout. How long has Yarn Sprout ‘been in the works’?

Chrissy: Hmmm…that’s a difficult question. In a way, Yarn Sprout has been in the works for many years. It has been my dream for as long as I can remember to have my own yarn dyeing business. I’ve watched so many new yarn dyers open up shops in the last few years, and I didn’t want to be just another dyer doing the same thing as everyone else.

I’ve always been passionate about natural dyes, but hesitated to offer them for sale due to the lengthy process required to dye with them, as well as the greater expense involved.

After a few years of mulling it over in the back of my mind, I decided to just jump in! Yarn Sprout has been really well received so far, and I’m looking forward to many more years of providing high quality naturally dyed yarns (and fibers) to knitters.

I really struggled with whether I’d mention Yarn Sprout on the podcast, but I decided that since the podcast is also about what I’m up to, I couldn’t really leave it out.

Genuine: One particular phrase caught my attention, it said that your yarn is 100% naturally dyed. I only know a little about dyeing, so maybe you could explain a little bit about natural dyeing and how it differs from perhaps the more ‘traditional’ dyeing methods

Chrissy: Most people are familiar with acid dyes, and other synthetic dyes. Most of the dyeing that goes on in the world today uses synthetic dyes. Synthetic dyes are more readily available, generally easier to use, and less time consuming to dye with. Natural dyes are what were used before synthetic dyes were available.

Before dyeing the fiber, it must be mordanted. Mordanting prepares the fiber in a way that will allow it to accept the natural dye. I use a mineral salt called Alum to mordant all my wools. Alum is the least environmentally unfriendly mordant, and I’m comfortable using it in my kitchen. Other mordants include tin, copper, chrome and iron. Chrome is extremely toxic, and I do not use it under any circumstances.

The mordant used does influence the way the natural dye will turn out on the fiber.

Natural dyes come from many different plants, roots, barks, and even some bugs. Most of these dyes are particularly sensitive to pH, and will yield very different shades based on the pH of the dye bath.

Natural dyes must be extracted before they can be used. Some roots, barks and flowers must be simmered in water to be extracted, others can be added right to the dye bath containing the mordanted fiber.

Genuine: This brings me to my next question; I see that you and your husband, Stuart, are both involved in the business—do both of you dye?

Chrissy: Stu and I are both involved in Yarn Sprout, but he doesn’t do any of the dyeing. He’s more of the business side – he gets to do all the fun stuff like dealing with the government, and taxes, and fun stuff like that.

He’s actually quite helpful with running to the post office, and making things to make my life easier. He built me a proper skein winder last month, so I didn’t have to niddy noddy every skein of yarn.

For the most part though, Stu is the business side of Yarn Sprout. He’s a great consultant, and I couldn’t do it without him.

Genuine: I’ve really enjoyed your podcasts about lace, so I had to ask: are you considering adding a laceweight yarn to your yarn line in future?

Chrissy: Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m really looking forward to adding a laceweight yarn to the Yarn Sprout family. I think that the vivid semi-solid natural colors will be stunning on a laceweight merino silk. I’m also considering some laceweight alpaca.

Genuine: Are there any future exciting plans, whether about the podcast or Yarn Sprout, that you would be able to share?

Chrissy: We always have lots of fun stuff in the works here! You’ll have to stay tuned to the podcast for the latest. As for Yarn Sprout – we’re looking forward to adding new yarns and colors – I’m working on the fall line right now. We’re also looking to add fiber and a bunch of cool accessories in the near future.

I’m so excited to be able to podcast and run Yarn Sprout, and I am certainly living my dream.

Genuine: And thanks again, Chrissy, for taking the time for this interview!

If you’re interested in the podcast, you can find the show notes and links to download the episodes at the Manic Purl blog!

If you want to buy her yarncheck out the Yarn Sprout website! She has beautiful, naturally dyed sock yarns and I am serious: this is not just another yarn dyer. Her color sense is definite and subtle, with more solids and semi-solids than you sometimes see, on some delicious base yarns. Also, the plus is that the shipping is a flate rate of $6.50, and that’s from Canada to the US!

 I hope that you’ve enjoyed this interview as much as I did! Happy listening everyone!

August 24, 2008. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 4 comments.

44 Lace Repeats On A Dead Knitter’s Chest

 I have packed myself into an alternate reality, in which normal life does not exist. I have worn out several triple A batteries, listening to podcast after podcast—incidentally, there should be some podcasty reviewness going up this Monday, so y’all can look forward to some enthusiastic recommendations—and I have finished it.

 No, I haven’t finished the wrap. But I have finished my very first, 44 row repeat.

 And that’s huge for me.

lace by you.

 I was close to tears and a knitter on Ravelry looked at my picture  (a different one than this) and said, “Looks like you’re on row 15.”

 Somehow, she was able to tell what row I was on, when even I couldn’t tell where I was. And she was right. And somehow, as I am downloading more knitting podcasts and I have some fresh batteries…

 I think I’m going to get in some serious knitting.

August 21, 2008. Tags: , . works-in-progress. 7 comments.

Inbetween the Lace Knitting…

S7305250 by you.

I have finished two baby hats, to compliment my pink hats. I don’t really buy into the pink-is-for-girls, blue-for-boys, but if I’m donating hats for other people, I think that it’s right to give them choices that they will want to use.

 The Bebe Cotsoy that I’ve used for these hats is incredibly soft and I’ve used these hats as Stupid Knitting, when I am sick of laceweight. Thank you, all of you, for your great tips and encouragment about the lace wrap. After much tearful posting on Ravelry, I have finally gotten some lace mojo back. I’m definitely not going to be done by the 24th, as far as I can see, but there has been much progress on the wrap, and I will post pictures tomorrow!

 This has given me more confidence for the next KAL that my group is doing, which will be shawls/wraps/that kind of thing for rape survivors, which will start in mid-September and run until the end of October. I may choose a heavier weight (fingering, maybe) for that shawl, but at least I know that I can manage lace, even if I’m not perfect.

 Which reminds me, if any of you have a particular pattern that works up in a heavier laceweight/fingering weight or there’s a yarn that you think would work well for a shawl or wrap that will need to be done in a month and a half, let me know, I’d appreciate it! I’m looking at some Knitpicks yarn, but I’m open to suggestions!

August 21, 2008. Tags: , . works-in-progress. 3 comments.

Ravelrympics: Knitting Lace Like A Crazy Woman

S7305245 by you.

It is with a sense of impending doom that I am furiously knitting my Seascape wrap. (Hey, I’ve interviewed the designer and showed off the yarn—I’ve done everything but get this wrap knitted!)

I’ve calculated that I need to knit 44 rows a day until the 24th, and then hopefully be casting off during the closing Olympic ceremonies. I picked this as my Ravelrympics project and didn’t get started until the th because I didn’t have the needles. I have now entered Denial Mode. Also, I didn’t bother to fix the fact that this picture makes the yarn look brownish, instead of delicate silver gray.

S7305244 by you.

I also just realized that I have 82 stitches, instead of 83.

 And maybe my mistake comes 1 row before my lifeline.

 I NEED ENCOURAGMENT!

August 18, 2008. Tags: , , . Tuesday Project Updates, works-in-progress. 10 comments.

Fairy Yarn-Mother

 Folgers lied.

 I have found that the best way of waking up is when your older brother wakes you up and hands you a big box that you aren’t expecting.

 After jamming on my glasses, I recognized the address—Alaska—but I couldn’t imagine why Jen would be sending me a package. After all, she just sent me a yarn package a short time ago.

 My brother ripped open the box for me. I’d just woken up and box-wrestling wasn’t exactly on my mind. However, the next minute, I was wide awake and squealing and screaming like a 9 year old. Yarn flew everywhere.

 Yarn Love: Marianne Dashwood

 Colorway: Secret Garden

S7305190 by you.

S7305199 by you.

Yarn Love: Elizabeth Bennet

Colorway: Shipwreck

S7305229 by you.

S7305206 by you.

Brown Sheep: Wildfoote

Colorway: Columbine

Wildfoote Columbine by you.

As you can imagine, by the time I had cooed over all the yarn, I was pretty much set for the rest of forever. But a slender brown zip case slid from the box. This is about when I had my heart attack.

needle set by you.

 That, my friends, is a brandnew, Boye Needlemaster set. I’ve already started to use some of the needles and cables, so the set looks incomplete, but it is. My needle collection has all kinds of gaps, especially where circulars are concerned. Now, no more! My life is complete.

 I am completely enamoured of the Secret Garden colorway. It reminds me of crisp cucumbers and spring and icy breezes. I adore the base yarn, a bouncy merino sportweight, and I want the perfect project for it. However, since I am feverishly working on my Seascape wrap, these yarns must wait. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t keep squeezing them…

 and petting them…

 and taking them to bed with me and…

 using them for a pillow.

Thanks, Jen.

August 17, 2008. Tags: , , , . Knittin' Porn. 14 comments.

More Preemie Hats: Bebe Cotsoy & The 6th Degree

 S7305208 by you.

Queensland Collection: Bebe Cotsoy

Fiber: 50% Cotton, 50% Soy

Color: Light Teal

 The latest that my LYS is open is on Thursdays, 7:30. Somehow, I don’t think “The Thursday Night Knitting Club,” would have hit the NY bestseller list. I wanted to get some serious spinning done, so I packed up my fiber and my current sock.

 Somehow, (without realizing it) my outfit matched my fiber. I sat down to start spinning, and Leanne and Debbie start to laugh. I was wearing this black skirt with various shades of teal and blue flowers, with a light blue shirt to match, and it went perfectly with my Devon roving. Well, at least my green sneakers didn’t match, I thought.

 I bought a skein of this delicious Bebe Cotsoy for the preemie hat knit-a-long that I’m doing. There’s enough for two hats, definitely, and it feels like liquid happiness.

S7305209 by you.

 Pat (yarn store owner) gave me one of their sample hats knit from this yarn, so I have 3 hats done; 2 from pink cotton and the store sample. Hopefully, I will have 2 more soon. I’m doomed to attend a baby shower this Sunday, so I figure that I can use that time to knit baby hats while the older women squeal over pink onesies and share the gruesome details of difficult births.

 Thank God for knitting during difficult times.

August 15, 2008. Tags: , , . Knittin' Porn, works-in-progress. 4 comments.

Crafty Websites/ Ravelry Knock-Offs?

 In some ways, the vortex of Ravelry takes away a lot of time on different craft websites. It’s a one-stop shop for most of what I need when it comes to knitting and crafty chat. So when people started to chat about a couple new craft websites that (to them) seemed a bit pastichey or Ravelry copycats, I checked them out. In the interests of journalism (and a long-time crush on Consumer’s Reports) I joined both websites.

 The two websites are busymitts and letsCRAFTit, respectively. I have tested different features on both websites, just to get a feel about both of them.

 Busymitts

 Busymitts is a website devoted to sharing all kinds of different crafts, knitting, papercraft, crochet, beading, etc. It seems sort’ve like a glorified Flickr group, in which photographs of finished crafts can be uploaded, looked at and commented on.  It’s newly minted in this year of 2008. You do have to put your email on a waiting list, but I received an invitation very quickly, in a day or less. It was designed by a man in the UK.

 The Good

  • It’s very easy to add a project. You pick a category, you name your project, boom.
  • You can upload a picture directly from your computer, rather than going to the trouble of loading a picture to Flickr or Photobucket first
  • It’s interesting to see different crafts on the front page, so you get exposure to different crafts
  • It’s simple to favorite or comment on a project
  • There’s a built-in blog feature, which I have tested. This is rolling-off-a-log easy. I really enjoyed this feature, and when I mentioned it in the thread on Ravelry, Casey did indicate that this would be added to Ravelry at some point. I would love to see something similar integrated into Ravelry, so rah for that.

The Bad

  • It’s fairly juvenile looking. The color scheme is cutesy and it’s just plain boring.
  • I hate to say this, but Busymitts is also a pretty lame name. I can see where the ‘cute’ factor could be played up for this website, but that hasn’t happened yet
  • The categories are limited to beading, papercraft, crochet, knitting and stitching. Spinning is not included and if this is a general craft website, there’s weaving and other crafts that should be included

 Conclusion: The simplicity of this website is what has made this site one that I will continue to use. The site design is lacking, and I would like to see more craft categories. However, I can see potential in the idea, and the ease of use means that adding projects is pretty painless.

letsCRAFTit

letsCRAFTit is a general craft website with many (and more specific) craft categories than busymitts, and in some ways, I find it more frustrating to use, and yet I can see some original thought in the website. It’s incredibly difficult to describe, so I’ll just share some details

The Good

  • has some interesting features that fall under “Share & Create.”

 You can ‘explain a craft’ step by step. You can also ‘write an article’ (which I tested; there seems to be no screening process for articles. It was a simple article on tips for spinning and it is currently the only article on the website. I can definitely see spammers targeting this.) You can also share an image of a completed craft, or create a group.

  • there’s a free ad-space that you can use for your blog or website.

 The rotation of the ads is determined by the ‘ad credits’ that you earn by linking to their website or writing an article, etc. Essentially, it’s an incentive for adding content to the website or linking to it. Since I wrote an article, I had 3 credits. I will earn more credits since I am linking to them in this blog post. What this means is that my ‘ad’ (a simple link to this blog) will show up more often in the adspace.

The Bad

  • It’s ugly. It doesn’t have even the kitschy charm of Busymitts. It looks underdeveloped, and the color scheme (purple and green) is not working for me, personally.
  • layout is un-user-friendly. I find myself constantly scrolling up and down the page to find my way around the site
  • this last might be unfair, but the site is very lacking in terms of content. Their userbase is obviously quite small, which isn’t as much of a fault as a fact of life for a new website. Busymitts shares this, but seems to have more active users.

Conclusion:  I like some of the ideas that letscraftit has, but it feels like a poor design and other factors are bogging it down from what it could be. I don’t feel like I would use this very much, although there are some original ideas for this website. It’s awkward to use and unattractive to look at.

I don’t see either of these websites as serious ‘competitors’ for Ravelry, simply because I think they are focusing on different aspects of crafting. I do think that more craft websites will generate more ideas, simply because there are different brains that put their original spin on things. I do see myself using Busymitts, I don’t see myself getting much into letsCRAFTit.

I would also love to see a built-in blog/notebook feature on Ravelry sometime soon. I’m interested to know your thoughts on the two websites, and if you would use either website, or none at all!

August 14, 2008. Tags: , , . ravelry, Snark Editorial. 8 comments.

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