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I just read an excerpt from The Knitter’s Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber in the winter issue of Twist Collective (The Softness Myth by Clara Parkes). I think this article is full of good observations — yarn should not just be as soft as possible. I have had the conversation on many occasions about a particular yarn I happen to like and been told it is not soft enough, but I ask you: how soft does yarn need to be?
I confess here that I am quite accepting of scratchy wool and will quite willingly wear a hat that makes me scratch and scratch when I take it off — which of course means a red forehead, but I don’t mind (I generally make sure that any yarn I suggest others use in my yarn suggestions is not too scratchy as I know not everyone shares my particular preferences). All the same, if you live somewhere really cold — please never underestimate the value of good forehead coverage, it really is important — I gave myself frostbite (or something very close to it) walking to work one day when it was too cold for the car to start and will never forget that particular lesson (other lessons, yes, that one, no).
But all the same yarn should not only be judged on being as soft as possible — there really are all sorts of measures of a yarn, and I am happy to see more discussion on the subject.
I have immediately requested said book from the library to check out what else Clara has to say.
I have registered for a spinning course as part of my efforts to become part of the community here, which has inspired me to finish the following skein which I have been “working”* on for several months:
After the course started, I immediately had to start travelling for my job, which is impinging on my spinning time dreadfully.
I need to wash/set it first, but I think I will count the yardage. Maybe I have enough for an eccentric hat. The knitting of said hat will be simple, it will only be eccentric because anything made out of this yarn, when worn on one’s head, must be considered eccentric — it’s the nature of the beast.
*Had sitting idle on my wheel
As you can see Kristi has a taste for more tasteful colours than me. This one was in knit in Berroco Bonsai in Raku Brown (Ravelry link) and my original sample was knit in Phildar Phil’Bambou in red (Ravelry link), which is a lovely yarn, but it doesn’t have as much memory as the Bonsai.
I am very excited to get this sweater back in a year.
I feel a great fibrous weight has lifted since yesterday. I pulled out the alpaca I had lying around and spun in up in the way I like:
It is thick and thin plied with thread, and it has revived my interest in spinning, even if the fibre is a little too soft to make this kind of yarn in its most perfect incarnation.
What can you do?
I am carting out the wheel right now and spinning up that fibre that has been sitting there for months. I never want to spin regular thin yarn again — I have decided it is not my thing.
Or for that matter this:
(Which I am pretty sure I know how to do as I did that one.)
I got up early yesterday morning to take out the recycling, and I was completely surprised by how nice it was:
Generally I take out the recycling as fast as I can on a Saturday morning, run back inside as quickly as possible and try to forget the whole sorry business, but not this time. I was inspired to run back inside to grab the camera. To give you an idea of how improbably this was at 8:00 on a Saturday morning at -22 centegarde, here is a glimpse of what I was wearing:
Dressing gown, boyfriend’s shoes, coat. As I said later — “for some reason I don’t understand, it was cold, but it didn’t feel bad.”
I also went to the yarn store as I needed some particular yarn to submit a design, and ended up buying enough to make a summer sweater (sweaters in summer make more sense here than they do in many places). It is Classic Elite Yarns, classic one fifty and one of my favourite shades of blue:
I am thinking cardi, lacy, summer, blue — and that is all you are getting at this time.
I have spent almost the whole weekend cleaning and getting rid of unnecessary stuff. It is shocking how many useless belongings I have accumulated. I moved out to Saskatoon three and a half years go with my luggage allowance on the plane and then some more things in a truck a few months later, but to give you an idea it only cost me $800 to move from Vancouver, so we are not talking about that much, but here I am with a house stuffed to the gills.
So here I am getting rid of more. After two days, I have achieved clarity (I mean unclutteredness).
Besides everything else, I got this yarn in the mail recently from Jess and Milkyrobot:
So everything will continue to look up.
I love displacement activity — there are few things in life that make me feel as good as accomplishing my displacement goals.
I have been going through my yarn, and there is some that I don’t think I will ever use. Surely it is wrong and poor economy to hold on to such yarn in case I need it — especially as there is some possibility that one day I will need to pay to live in a larger place to store my yarn. I don’t even buy food in bulk because everything goes bad before the two of us can eat it, and even if it doesn’t it is never fresh anymore.
There is a limited amount I can knit, and I like fresh yarn.
I think the source of my yarn hoarding is that when I learned to knit I was so poor, and I never had enough money to buy yarn: I actually went through periods with nothing to knit. But now I am like one of those people who lived through the Depression and and hoards pencil stubs
Some of the yarn I am getting rid of I am pretty sure no one wants, so it is going to the thrift store. i am not offering it to you, because you can always go to your own thrift store and get something equivalent. There are no treasures in this lot: it is the fibre equivalent of mystery meat.
I do however have some rather nice yarn that I don’t think I will ever use. This is Noro Silver Thaw, colour 1, colour lot B, 50% wool, 25% angora, and 25% nylon, 110m (120 yards) / 50g:
There are nine untouched balls and one that I knit a swatch with and then unraveled (see the last picture).
I listed them in my Etsy shop, but they sold almost immediately.
I am still not good at winding yarn onto my ball winder:
I must say that there is something special about a skein of yarn that a ball of yarn doesn’t capture. They have that wonderful slightly floppy heaviness that speaks “yarn” to me, and makes me so tempted to acquire them, but winding them on the ball winder is tedious.
I was trying to wind a 1600m skein of 90% alpaca, 10% silk a few days ago and the knot above is what happened. It was so frustrating, as the ball on the winder got bigger it would suddenly fly off across the room and I had several small balls in sequence:
In the end I got it wound, but I had to break the yarn in several places, so I have two good sized balls and two little ones and one clump of forever knotted mess that I have thrown into the pillow case of fibre I am putting aside for future art yarn spinning projects.
I suppose that result is acceptable, but I can’t bring myself to believe it is optimal.
I came home yesterday to a parcel notice and rushed to the post office to pick it up, and my Icelandic yarn had arrived.
I love the ability to buy things from where ever I want on the Internet – it makes me feel so cosmopolitan.
Here is a picture of the yarn:
I am very pleased with it. It is very woolly, if you are someone who doesn’t like animal fibres and thinks wool is itchy, then this yarn is not for you, but I like woolly clothes so that is not a problem. Actually it is not at all scratchy (to me), but it is not soft either. It is almost like spun crêpe paper. The closest yarn I can think of is Noro Kuryeon sock yarn, but this is quite a bit finer.
The impetus for this international yarn acquisition is this book I mentioned before:
Icelandic Knitting Using Rose Patterns by Hélène Magnússon.
I am going to knit this sweater:
I have been wanting an oversize sweater, and this just seems too lovely to pass up. It is going to be my first major project involving intarsia. I was just never so attracted to patterns that used it before.
I think this sweater is a very good example of a project where substituting yarns would greatly change the effect, and after listening to yarn store staff a couple times — I know that whatever yarn they carry in the same gauge is not always an acceptable substitute for me.
And see I am so committed I have already worked my swatch:
It is even the the right gauge on the first try (stitches and rows) — that never happens. I will cast on for the sweater today.