The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 9

Day 9: What fiber or yarn do you love working with?

Hopefully my answer to this one is not too unpredictably boring, but my favorite yarns to work with are any of the squishy-soft, lusciously dyed wools and wool blends from makers such as madelinetosh and malabrigo. There are many others that I haven’t worked with yet but I covet, like Miss Babs, The Plucky Knitter, and Neighborhood Fiber Co. (I know, I know–I live in Baltimore but haven’t used any of their yarn yet…I’ll get there). Also, I have three delicious skeins of Frabjous Fibers Wonderland Yarns just waiting to turn into something dreamy.

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I like yarns with alpaca, cashmere, silk, or pretty much any other luxury fiber included. One of the yarns I used for my Miller’s Daughter is The Fibre Company Road to China Lace, which is a blend of alpaca, silk, cashmere and camel…and it is delectable.

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I like yarns with interesting or surprising colors, like Noro’s long color repeats and gradient yarns. While I haven’t worked with any speckled colorways yet, I think they look awesome! Someday, when I’m not on a yarn diet, I will sample more of these lovelies. Got to work down the stash first!

All that said, there is something compelling in working with a good, minimally processed, rustic wool. There will always be a place in my heart for natural, tweedy workhorse yarns. I do also think about the origin of fiber and how it got from the animal to my needles. Ideally, when I actually buy yarn again, I would like to keep that process in mind and select yarns that are ethically sourced and produced.

What yarns and fibers tempt you the most?

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

Cleaning House, Knitting Style

For the past couple of days, I’ve been working on wrapping up some projects I have on the needles as well as getting some UFFOs finished and blocked. I have the secret project as well as the wifey’s Quicksilver (at long last) currently blocking, both with all ends woven in. I’ve been slogging away at the Clapotis for my MIL (just started skein #6 out of 7 last night) and that shouldn’t be too hard to finish up and block once the knitting is done. I’ve been using Russian joins the whole way so I’ll just need to weave in the first and last ends and trim up the joins. That will be three projects completely done! I also picked up buttons for my garter yoke baby cardi the other day so will grit my teeth and finish that up so it can be gifted away and off my to do list. Of course, I will attempt to get good photos of all these so I can blog about them properly.

I’ve also been doing a lot of work getting yarn ready to use. Usually this isn’t something I have to deal with but…I received some yarn I’d ordered a couple of weeks ago, and the bag and everything in it reeked of cigarette smoke. While I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s personal liberties, I will say that I really can’t stand cigarettes or tobacco smoke of any kind and to have a stale smoke bomb hit me when opening a bag of otherwise really lovely yarn–yeah, total bummer. I couldn’t just throw it away because, well, malabrigo! Also, while I didn’t buy it at anything close to retail price, I still did pay for it. So I’ve started the task of washing and drying all the yarn in the bag. Of course it was six skeins of non-superwash malabrigo wool and three skeins of hand wash Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece…no superwash in the lot. I’ve washed two of the skeins of malabrigo and am a little concerned that they started to felt. I’m not sure what to do for the remaining four skeins as I was as gentle as I could be with the first two. I’m going to try to wind them into balls today as they’re finally fully dry and see how it goes. As for the cotton fleece, I’m laughing at myself for what I did. I wasn’t really thinking clearly and just submerged two of the skeins without unwinding them. That was fine for washing them as it didn’t seem like the smoke had permeated past the outer layer (I think the malabrigo was the real culprit) but it wasn’t the best plan for drying them! So I washed them, waited until they dried out enough that I could unwind them into loops, and hung them to dry.

You might be wondering where I got yarn that was smoky. I got it from DBNY, which sources their stock from stores that go out of business, overgrown personal stashes and overstock. There’s no guarantees that anything will be in perfect condition since it may not be new or it might have been stored improperly before DBNY got it. However, I did send an email to their customer service department since this was such an ordeal. I’m waiting to hear back on whether or not they will try to make it right.

So I have the rest of that batch of yarn to unskein, wash, dry, ball, photograph and log into ravelry. I also have a small batch of yarn from Goodwill that I haven’t added to ravelry yet, so I’m going to try to knock that out this afternoon. If I have time and energy, I’ll sort through some of the last random stuff from my stash–mostly stuff without ball bands that needs to be identified and added to ravelry. Then, I’ll put any newly categorized yarn away in its proper bin.

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my latest Goodwill haul

How do people store their yarn? I used to sort by fiber type, but now my stash has so many different blends that’s not really feasible. I reorganized all my yarn recently (I don’t think I blogged about that, now that I think of it) and decided to sort everything by weight. So, I have separate bins for everything (lace, fingering/sock, sport, DK, worsted, aran, bulky and super bulky). A few categories that don’t take up much space are sharing bins, and a few categories that have a ton of acrylic are further separated that way. It’s all in airtight bags inside bins with lids. I think there are eight or nine large bins, all told, and they’re all full or close to it. Time to get knitting!

Anyone else doing some fall “spring” cleaning? What’s your strategy?

Moving Forward–Quicksilver, Lovely New Yarn and Test Knitting

I am still plugging away at my Quicksilver. I have two mesh sections and one garter stitch section to go, and then it will join my collection of UFFOs (see this post for an explanation). I am hoping it will not stay there long as I’m very excited to see how it will transform once blocked. I’ve been looking at this brilliant thread on Ravelry and so am very excited about the blocking process. This project should benefit particularly because, even though the mesh isn’t really what I’d think of as “lace”, it’s still got a lot of stretch to it. And, the striped sections are in garter stitch, so there’s a lot of room to grow there. I’m hoping it will expand in size quite a bit!

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I revisited another skill that I’ve used in the past but not for a long while: dropping a stitch on purpose to fix an error in a previous row. I made it maybe ten rows without realizing I somehow purled one random stitch in a striped section. So, when I got to that spot, I dropped the stitch above it off the needle, pulled it out until I got to the purl stitch, and reworked up the ladders. It got a little fiddly and took a long time, but I know that it would have otherwise bothered me forever. So, I consider it time well spent. Also, it’s good experience!

I discussed in Quicksilver and the Importance of Good Knitting Needles how I was going to transition my shawl onto a longer pair of circs. Well, that didn’t end up working out. It was great to see the work spread out instead of completely scrunched up, but my gauge with the other needles was much looser. Even though the needles were the same size! I guess there was something about the texture that cause me to knit looser. So, I crammed it all back on the shorter ones. If I have a chance to buy another circ before I finish the shawl, I will…but it’s looking like that might not happen.

Other knitting news: I will be doing my first test knit! I’m really excited about it. More on that later! Also, I actually started sewing the ends in on my Old Shale kids blanket yesterday. That will be slow work but is necessary and totally worth it.

Yarn news: I got my hands on my very first Madelinetosh yarn yesterday. It is very, very pretty and I love it. I also got a couple of skeins of Malabrigo (not my first on that one, but only my second) which is also downright beautiful. You can see them both in my stash if you like. They are both squooshy and delicious and I want to knit them right away and save them forever, at the same time. Hopefully for my storage space, the knitting will win.

I can’t help sharing a glimpse here:

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One aspect of depression (remember that? depression?) for me has always been procrastination. One great way I’ve found to procrastinate is to become thoroughly engrossed in something else. Well, sometimes knitting becomes that “something else”, as knitters everywhere will be shocked to learn. I have (had) several very important things to do for work and the deadline for many of them happens to be today. Over the past few weeks, I have done a good bit of knitting, but have not worked on these things at all. I am proud to report that I spent a good bit of this morning doing all those things due today. I took a break to knit a little and have some lunch…and maybe write this blog entry…and am determined to get back to work afterward and knock out the last outstanding thing that needs done. And then maybe do some more knitting!