Hi knitting friends!
I’m going to do something I’ve been doing a lot lately, and talk more about life than about knitting, though at least there are some references to knitting (or at least knitwear) in this post. However, if you only come here for the knitting, this is probably another good one to skip. (fair warning.)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about clothes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love clothes. I think that they are a wonderful way to express your originality, and for you to put out your signature style and personality in a place where even people you don’t know can see it. That’s cool, and there’s really an art to crafting a style that is uniquely you. I know that a lot of people see having an interest in fashion as superficial and shallow, but I tend to disagree. If you want to see clothes as a purely utilitarian endeavor, don’t let me stop you, but my clothes are a reflection of my personality, and I like them that way. I think that they’re a fun way to work your artistic sensibilities into your daily life, and what’s wrong with that??
Some of you may already know this, but recently I’ve lost a fair bit of weight (about 15 pounds so far.) I plan to lose a little more, but I’m feeling pretty good and much healthier, and as a result of my weight loss, a lot of my clothes no longer fit, so I’m getting rid of stuff. So far, so good right? One I’m at a place where I want to stay, I will probably go on an enormous clothes-buying binge, but even now I’m keeping an eye out, shopping around, trying to find stuff that I think will look good.
However, I have learned something while trying stuff on in stores. Apparently my body is ALL WRONG. The trends for this season seem to be loose, shapeless, oversized knits, dresses with weird cutouts, baggy things, floaty tops with no shaping, weird, high waisted everything, and zero stretch in any of the fabrics that aren’t knits.
In every single one of these things, I look as big around as my biggest parts. It’s so demoralizing. I want to be one of those cute, chic girls in skinny jeans and an oversized sweater, but there is no way that will ever be me. I look like the michelin man in that outfit, it’s really not cute. Same with the floaty tops, it’s *poof* out over my chest and then it falls straight down from there, and I look super dumpy >.<
Now, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Clothes are designed for really skinny people without curves (i.e. models) and since I don’t look like a model, I shouldn’t be too bummed out that fashionable things don’t look the way I want them to on me. The problem is, that after I go shopping, instead of feeling good about myself and my progress, I feel bad that I’m so far off of “ideal.” Since I’m so much healthier and also smaller, I magically expect that I’ll now look good in whatever is fashionable, and that’s simply not true, and it may never be. I’ll always have a curvier figure rather than an athletic one, and I’ve really made peace with that. It’s just disheartening when you feel good, and expect to look good, and then you go out shopping and it’s just demoralizing. I know that it’s illogical to be bothered by this, but the thing is, no one really has a “perfect” figure! Is it so much to ask that more accessible brands should be high fashion trends modified for people who are normal? Sweater dresses are great if they are fitted! And they’re so adorable with leggings. I can do a looser sweater as long as it has some shape to it, floaty tops are fine if they can be worn with a belt or something to bring them in at the waist, but a lot of that stuff looks stupid with the modifications I would need, or it just doesn’t seem to exist this season. (And I don’t think crop tops will EVER be flattering on me *shudders*)
Looking at this post, it now feels like I’m doing a lot of complaining, and I guess I am, though it wasn’t my intention. I think part of what I’m wondering is if I’m the only one who feels this way? I don’t really think I’m terribly insecure about my body, but shopping for clothes is a real bummer in my book (and I want it to be fun.) Do you feel like trendy clothes are inaccessible to you because you don’t have a stereotypically “perfect” figure? And a broader question is why, if the vast majority of the people have normal bodies, are all the clothes for only one body type??
This all is a rather long way of saying that I’m really glad that I can make my own clothes, and, when I make an oversized sweater, I’m totally adding some waist shaping. Because they’re my clothes and I can do what I want. Even if I can’t buy them the way I like, I can at least make them 😛
Well, it’s over. I have officially knit the best socks ever. Objectively, they’re also representative of my best craftsmanship too. I started with a beautiful yarn in stunning colors, wonderful and smooshy and perfect, and I totally winged a pair of knee socks that fit me like a glove. I’m so happy I almost can’t deal. Let’s do pictures, shall we?
(Side note: It is really hard to take pictures of your own feet, so I had to do it on my bed. Please forgive the lack of professionalism in these photos and just look at the pretty socks.)
Are they not SO AWESOME??? I love that the spectrum is skewed towards blues, greens, and purples, because those are my favorites. The yarn is from Fab Funky Fibres (from whence so many lovely things come) in the colorway “The Big One,” which is a 24-stripe rainbow of amazingness. Be warned, if you wish to purchase some for yourself, that it is a luxury item and it is priced like one. Each skein is hand dyed, and with so many colors it’s very labor intensive. I bought it with my birthday money this year 😛
I did a contrast cuff, heel, and toe because I like all my stripes being roughly the same width. I didn’t get to continue that the whole way up my leg, because I have majorly huge calves and I had to increase to fit them (Sheesh, thanks dad. Of course I couldn’t inherit mom’s slender calves.) I also don’t like how most heels in self striping yarn interrupt the striping pattern, and with stripes of such utter fabulousness I didn’t want even the slightest interruption. There’s slightly more than two repeats of the rainbow on each leg, and I used every bit of the self striping yarn, and most of the 50g skein of black as well.
Aren’t they just so happy? I feel like the dark, grey winters really suck the life out of me, but having something so bright, colorful, and happy will really help I think. I also am firmly of the opinion that hand knit socks are lucky (which is why I recently knit my Grandpa a pair) and I feel like these are so beautiful that they must be extra lucky. You better believe I’m wearing them for the final I’m most worried about. I love them. They’re now officially my favorite socks, and my sixth pair that I’ve knit for myself. I’ve been trying to fill my sock drawer with hand knit wool socks for the winters, because no matter what I do my toes seem to be cold. I’ll admit, part of why I love the new dresser that my parents got me when I moved to NYC is that it has two small drawers at the top that fit rolled-up socks perfectly so I can display my preciouses 😛 These will make my drawer look like a jewel box, and I’m excited. Now on to the next pair!!!
If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that I recently was lucky enough to take a trip to Tokyo. I had never been anywhere in Asia at all, so it was very exciting! I’ll eventually write a post with lots of pictures about my time there (and it was awesome) but as a little bit of a teaser I’m going to tell you about Tokyo style, which I found to be very inspiring! It was very different from the way that I dress, but everyone I saw looked very chic and put together, so there must be something to it! I made a list of trends that I noticed while I was there, so you can dress like a Tokyo girl too!
I saw so many lovely outfits while I was in Tokyo, and everything was so beautifully functional! Most pieces were in neutral colors, and you could tell that they could be combined into many different outfits for relatively few pieces. It seemed very efficient, like you could go into your closet, grab a few things at random, and know that they went together. Monochrome is your friend! It sounds drab, and maybe it could’ve been, except for the next point..
If it didn’t fit, these girls weren’t wearing it. There was lots of beautiful tailoring, trousers that were exactly the right degree of snug, sweaters just the right length, etc. Everything seemed to be chosen both to play up the features of the individual, and to serve as a part of the wardrobe for many years to come. It seemed like they defined the philosophy that a few good quality pieces that fit well are better than a closet full of junk, and I would tend to agree. Additionally, people seemed to have a very good sense of what worked and was flattering for their bodies, which I thought was very nice.
One Statement Piece per Outfit.
This is something that I still need to learn. I saw many outfits that were mostly basic, but then there would be red shoes, a cabled sweater, a cute hat, a funky bag, or a scarf in an interesting print. Having everything else be simple allowed that one unique piece to really shine, rather than letting it get lost in a bunch of competing items. The minimalism was very stylish.
If you’re doing something in neutral colors, you can get away with some very interesting silhouettes! I saw pleated pants that were almost like bell-bottoms (very voluminous!) coats that looked like cocoons, sweaters that were cropped in the front and longer in the back, but it all seemed to just work somehow. I think it’s similar to the last point, where if you are only doing one interesting thing with your outfit, the final effect is more harmonious and pleasing. I liked it a lot!
Minimalist Hair and Makeup.
I didn’t see too many adventurous hairstyles or crazy makeup while I was there, except in Harajuku (which is more of a punk/subculture area and is very fun.) However, it seemed like everyone took good care of their hair and skin, so only the most minor touches were needed to look chic and glamorous. If you have beautiful hair, you don’t need to style it too much for it to look nice, and if you take care of your skin, you don’t need to hide blemishes with makeup. (I’ve also been told that most asian people have oily skin, which, as a former Lush employee, I can tell you is MUCH easier to take care of than dry/sensitive skin. Once you have the right cleanser/toner combo, it looks AWESOME and you’re less likely to get wrinkles as you age. Color me jealous.)
So! Those are the observations of an ignorant american on the style of another city. Honestly, Tokyo seemed like a new and magical world to me, and I absolutely loved it. (I’m sure that the completely stellar food didn’t hurt at all.) People were so kind and welcoming, and it was amazing to finally realize a dream I’ve had for many years. More about the place later, but I hope you enjoy my fashion commentary in the meanwhile!
This post is going to have little or nothing to do with crafting of any kind, but I need to spill about how I’ve been feeling for the last few days. The world is a mess, and I am sad, but that’s only the start of my feelings.
There’s been a lot of anti-refugee rhetoric out there, and I think it really mostly comes from a place of fear. Don’t get me wrong, terrorism is scary! (it’s actually in the name, right? :P) But I don’t think we should let our fear of reprisals from Daesh (I’m not calling them ISIS because that lends them false legitimacy and is also what they prefer to be called, and I’m not inclined to give them ANYTHING they want.) keep us from being compassionate to those who are running from them. We actually have a pretty great vetting process for refugees, which would be used to screen any Syrian refugees this country accepts. This article does a pretty good breakdown of different ways for people to get into this country because they’re running from something crappy in their country, and the refugee vetting process is a more stringent process. If you read the article, you’ll also see that cases of terrorism or attempted terrorism are pretty rare in general, not just among refugees. I’m totally great with a stringent vetting process, but I don’t think that we should just unilaterally block immigration because we’re frightened. I’m not asking anyone to not be scared, because the world is a scary place, especially right now. I just want a little more rationality when thinking about these issues, a little knowledge of statistics, a little less allowing our emotions to rule our decision making.
Of course, now I’ll go straight into an emotional appeal 😛 Let me tell you about my friend Mohammed. Mohammed is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He worked with Greg for a while, and they became very close. He would even refer to Greg as “my brother.” Every time I saw him, he would give me the biggest bear hug imaginable, picking me up off the ground as I laughed with glee. We had differing opinions on some topics, and came from different cultural contexts, but every discussion I ever had with him was marked by civility, respect, and friendship. This guy was completely and absolutely filled with love. When he smiled at people, it wasn’t a mere upward tilt of the lips, he would beam at them, and this was true of everyone, even strangers. I went out with Mohammed many times, and I personally saw that some people scowled, some people averted their gazes, and some people just looked uncomfortable, for no other reason than that he was a large middle-eastern man. However, all he would ever say about Americans was that people were very kind, and he and his family were grateful to be here. He looked for the good in the world, not the bad.
Mohammed and his family moved to the US from Lebanon, because of the unrest there. I’m sorry that he had to leave his home, but I will freely admit that my life would be a poorer thing if I had never met him. When I think about the refugees from Syria, I see my friend, and I want to extend compassion.
If we let our fears strip away our compassion and humanity, the terrorists win. They want a divided and fearful world. Will we give that to them? I won’t. I refuse, as I mentioned earlier, to let them have anything they want on principle. If my tax dollars go to helping someone else, I consider that to be a win, no matter who’s in office. Way more of my tax dollars go towards the military anyway. I’ve also seen people saying that we can’t take care of any “outsiders” because we have homeless here, and homeless veterans especially, to them I have a few things to say. 1. Nothing in the world is stopping you from caring about more than one thing at a time, so please don’t derail the discussion. 2. This is indeed a big problem, but where was your outrage when it wasn’t a political talking point? There isn’t a finite amount of compassion in the world. We can extend it to both groups, and make efforts to help both, AND WE SHOULD.
A lot of people saying that we shouldn’t offer homes to these refugees also claim to be Christian, and this next paragraph is specifically for them. I imagine that if you went back in time and talked to Jesus about this (and by the way, he probably looked a lot more like a Syrian refugee than he looked like you) he would say “Oh, no, you’re right. I may have simply said ‘Love one another,’ but really what I meant is that you should love one another when it won’t cost you anything. I meant ‘Love one another,’ when the person looks and acts like you, and when they will be grateful for your kindness. ‘Love one another’ only applies to people in your country, and the rest of the world shouldn’t matter at all. You should only love one another when it’s safe and easy. Sorry about the mixup.”
Now, I know that a lot of you are going to be afraid for me now. (Though statistically, you shouldn’t be. I’m much more likely to get hit by a car than to be killed in a terrorist attack, even living in NYC.) However, I’d like to say this. Even if I were to DIE (and really, statistically, it’s super super super unlikely, to the point of being almost irrelevant.) as a result of having an open heart and mind and community, and showing love to people who don’t deserve it, well. There’s way worse reasons to die. I contrast the likelihood of great good happening (high) with bad happening (extremely low) and I cast my vote in favor of letting them in, even though it might mean that I am .000001% less safe.
So, to all the people who are saying stuff like “oh yeah, in theory you’re okay with refugees, but I bet you wouldn’t want them in your community.” To them I say, yes. Yes, they can live in my neighborhood. Yes, they are welcome in my community. Yes, my tax dollars can go to help with resettlement. Yes, Yes, Yes. If you live next door to me, I’ll make you cookies. We can be friends.
Hello lovely friends!!
I know it’s been ages since I posted, but I’m going to try to get back into doing it. It’s not like nothing has been going on. In fact, quite the reverse!!
Some of you may follow me on Instagram, and if so, you probably know that I moved to NYC to start grad school in clinical psychology. It’s amazing! I love New York, and I love my school. It’s incredibly challenging, but I’m soaking up every minute of it. I’m learning so much. It’s making me feel like I did pick the right career path, and shifting from neurology to psychology was a good choice. Yay!
In more news, my beloved is ALSO moving to New York! He got an amazing job working on artificial intelligence, for IBM Watson!!! The three places he could’ve gone were Cleveland, Houston, or NYC, and I’m sure you know which one I wanted 😛 He’s moving this weekend, and I’m so excited I can hardly stand it! He’s going to be in Hell’s Kitchen, and we are going to be fabulous New Yorkers together. Although I need to work on my style, his clothes are probably nicer than mine. Hehe.
It may shock you, but despite my busyness, knitting is still happening! It’s mostly plain stuff, because I can knit stockinette while reading for class, and let me tell you, there’s tons of reading!! There’s not a whole lot of spinning though, so I’m going to show you pics of my last two projects, which I finished THIS SUMMER. Both of them are earmarked for lovely shawls, and.. >hangs head in shame< I might’ve already knit one up but not blocked it 😛 The first one is some cormo that I got from Foxhill Farms at last year’s Rhinebeck.
I’m in love with the subtle variations of the purple, and the yarn is super bouncy and nice. I will admit that I still find Cormo rather difficult to spin, but I think that has more to do with the fact that it’s not familiar to me rather than the prep, which was super nice. 10/10 would buy again.
My next project is from a dyer I’ve loved for ages, the fabulous Macrina from Inglenook Fibers. I spun up this lovely tussah silk in her Ballet Shoes color way, and it was good. I then realized that I had some mystery gold single ply in the stash, that I could maybe pair it with for a two-tone shawl. It was too heavy a yarn to work with my handspun, so I unspun it, drafted it thinner, and re-spun it!
For future reference, I do not recommend that anyone else try this. It was super annoying. However, I’m happy with the results! I have about 500 yards of pink with golden undertones, and about 200 yards of the gold. Shout out with your favorite multicolored shawls in the comments!!
Here’s a picture of my three projects together. I’m so glad I finally wrote a blog post!
Remember that great big yarn party I showed you pictures of? All the many sock yarns destined to keep my feet warm this winter? Well, I’ve been plugging away at them and I actually have finished a pair! (I haven’t had a chance to properly photograph them though, so you’ll have to wait for now.) Instead, I’ll show you a picture of my current pair, which I have so much love for, you can’t even imagine. Look!
Are they not just magical? I love them! They’re absolutely captivating. They’re so fun and funky that they seduce completely conservative dressers into loving them. I sat next to an older gentleman in a suit on a plane, and he told me that my socks were wonderful and fun, and he kept watching me knit during the flight! It might’ve been that the colors are so eye searing, he was unable to look away, but I prefer to think that he went home and bought himself some rainbow socks on amazon.
The yarn is Fab Funky Fibers “The Big One,” which is their 22 stripe rainbow. It’s got about 2.5 repeats of the rainbow pattern, and I’m using another ball of black sock yarn for the heels, toes, and cuffs, so I’m hoping these will be nearly knee socks! I’m increasing for my gigantic calves in hope that they’ll stay up 😛 (I really do have big calves. They don’t look freakish, but I feel like I need to join a support group for people who can’t find boots that fit.) I feel like these socks will convey luck on the wearer, and since I’m starting school this fall? I’ll take all the luck I can get.
I will warn you, this yarn is a luxury item and it’s priced like one. I wouldn’t have been able to afford it if I hadn’t been given birthday money that was earmarked for yarn. (Thanks Nana and Grandpa!) However, if you take into account the fact that each stripe of the 22 is individually dyed by hand, and how time consuming and fiddly that process is, they are entirely worth it. I’m going to be very gentle and careful with these socks once they’re finished, because they are really amazing. They are getting quite close to being done, which delights me to no end, because…
I may already be considering my next pair.
I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. I’ve even hardly been keeping up with my Instagram, which is waaaay less time consuming! This summer really got away from me. Summers are always super busy, even though we think they are going to be relaxing. Here in Boston, I think we try to stuff them full of all the wonderful summer activities that we only have a few weeks to enjoy, being outside, getting tan, swimming and enjoying the outdoors. I’ve been knitting and spinning, but both of my beloved hobbies have fallen by the wayside. The lure of the sunlight is too strong, and sticky heat and humidity do not mix well with fuzzy wool. I know you’re all going to suggest knitting or spinning with plant fibers, but I cannot. They always hurt my hands and I think I just knit too loosely for them. The stuff I make out of cotton always looks like a pile of crap.
However, I have proof that I haven’t fallen completely off the wagon. I made a giant chunky yarn of rainbow goodness!
It’s super cool, right? I’ve been having terrible trouble spinning thicker yarn, but I deliberately tried to mess up how I normally spin. I put the biggest whorl on my spinning wheel, didn’t really prep, and just let the fiber be the delicious fluff that it wanted to be, Speaking of the fiber, the colorway is called Extravagance and Cruelty, and it’s a custom blend from Countess Ablaze. To be honest, it’s kindof the bomb. I’ve had really good experiences with all the indie dyers that I’ve purchased stuff from, but her fiber is a little unusual. It’s really combed out so there are zero tangles. It has a lot of air in it, but the fibers are all pretty nicely aligned. This means you get a yarn that’s really smooth, and you can basically do whatever you want with it as far as the thickness is concerned. I could just as easily have spun this as a laceweight if I had wanted to, but I wanted a big fat yarn that would show off the really dramatic colors. Speaking of which, I should show you a before pic 😛 I tried to take one myself, but my camera was so full of hate for all the colors, so I stole some from the Countess Ablaze website.
It’s a pretty nifty blend too. It’s mostly really soft and smooth merino, with a little bit of black alpaca, angelina (sparkles) and seacell, which is a fiber that comes from seaweed. The chunks of seacell felt a lot like silk to me, very smooth and slick and soft. I pulled big chunks off of the braid and then tore each chunk into lengthwise strips with one or two colors in each strip. I do that a lot with spinning if I have really great colors that look like they’ll bleed into each other if I let them blend too much. I think the yarn I ended up with is very true to the colors of the braid, which makes me super happy. It’s also soft and super cushy. It’s going to be a yummy hat for me! I got about 150 yards of a chunky yarn, which should be plenty for a hat. Do you have a favorite slouchy hat for a busy yarn that wants to knit up at 3.5-4 stitches per inch?
I have to admit, I get a little bit of a chuckle out of the fact that I created a yarn that a) looks a bit like a cheap novelty yarn and b) is similar to what I was turning out when I had just started spinning. It’s lumpy and thick and thin, and the plying job was a little haphazard because I don’t know how much twist really needs to go into such a big yarn! But this time, I did those things ON PURPOSE, instead of by accident slash by default, so that has to mean something, right? I spun something different and I love it. I’m also happy that I have two braids from Countess Ablaze left, because I’m already jonesing for her super smooth prep. Seriously her roving feels like it’s predrafted when you get the braid. It’s awesome. The other two are much more tonal, which I am somewhat conflicted about. I get bored spinning tonal yarns instead of the delicious multicolored braids that I favor, but I’m always confused about what to do with the rainbow ones once they’re spun. I can find tons of projects for tonal yarns because they’re definitely what I prefer to knit with. So, we shall see. My next spinning project will be an attempt at a proper three ply. We’ll have to see how it goes!
It all started because my boyfriend and I both have a thing for watermelons. Almost two years ago, I bought some superwash fiber in a very clever configuration, where you could split it down the middle and have two identical pieces of roving.. Yes, you read that right, this is a post that was years in the making. And somehow, I feel like I need to do it justice, (which means I’m completely tongue-tied, naturally.) Anyway. Heather, the lovely genius behind Mad Color Fiber Arts, dyes beautiful roving that looks like other things. (she had some in all the colors of a Blue Tang that still occasionally keeps me up at night.) But the one that immediately stole my heart was one that looked like a yummy slice of watermelon translated into wool. I snatched it up like a greedy child stealing sweets. Also, she was super nice and sweet, and that’s one of the easiest ways to get me to buy things from you. So I turned that into yarn..
Two skeins of nearly matching chain plied sock yarn, but then they just had to sit for a while. I don’t like to use my handspun yarn right away. It makes me nervous. I like to set it on a shelf and walk by and smoosh it occasionally, until I figure out what it wants to be. I feel like I’m not alone in this, handspun is too precious to waste on any project other than the perfect one. So they went into hibernation. Greg also may have threatened to steal the socks I made even if they didn’t fit him, but I told him that he’d have to pry them out of my cold, dead hands.
A good long while afterwards, I was engaged in one of my hobbies. I call this one “trying to convince Greg that knitting is actually cool.” He likes to tease me by begging me to just accept that I am extremely dorky. I accepted that long since, but his counterpoint when I say knitting is cool is that doing anything as much as I knit makes you a geek. Even if it’s. breakdancing or flying fighter jets. Anyway, I was once again engaged in this most noble of pursuits, and this time I was showing him the yarny stylings of Yarn Enabler. Her stuff is way cool, her biggest claim to fame being that she makes sock yarn that knits up to look like other stuff. Like blue ones with rainbow toes, strawberries.. or watermelons. When Greg saw those, he lost his freaking mind. He had to have them. He made grabby hands at the screen. Any yarn thing that produces that kind of reaction in Greg (who is knit friendly but definitely in no way obsessed) is sure to be a present for him sooner rather than later. So I sneakily ordered the yarn (as well as some for myself too. If you’re paying for postage from Canada anyway..)
Those socks were my traveling companions for months. They were just way too fun. The yarn itself was gorgeous, smooshy and soft and tightly plied, and I knit on them constantly. On the subway, on the bus, during my lunch break, these socks really got around! They were finished pretty quickly too. Greg has smallish feet, and he doesn’t like his socks super tall. So before long they were finished. (we will ignore the part where I let them sit around for several weeks when all they needed was a bind-off, because I hate doing stretchy bind-offs.)
And then, well, I started feeling envious. Greg’s watermelon socks were super cool.. So I started knitting some of my own! My handspun sock yarn was considerably thicker than the commercial yarn for his socks, more like a sport/DK weight. so I cast on..
And I had a finished pair of socks in nine days!!! It would’ve been a week if I hadn’t made them way too big at first and needed to rip back. They’re still by far the fastest pair of socks I’ve ever made. It felt like they took longer to dry after blocking than to knit. So now? Finished semi-matching socks!
I know that there’s a completely gratuitous number of pictures in this post, but I’m really quite proud of these. That’s a lot of time and effort wrapped up in those two pairs of socks!
And maybe the best part? I asked Greg if we could take a picture of our feet next to each other in their matching socks, and he thought it was a great idea! He’s usually anti matching because it’s too cutesy, (although we do both have purple jeans that we sometimes accidentally wear on the same day) but matching watermelon socks are so seriously awesome that they’re immune to his hate of matching. Woooo! He loves them and I love mine too. One pair closer to wearing only hand knit socks during the winter.
Friends, all has been rather quiet on the blog front lately, but that’s mostly because I’ve been knitting only at a medicinal level. (That means enough to take the edge off of some stress, but not enough to have much to talk about.) However, I’m still working on my crazy sock plan, and I finally got the last skein to finish my plotting!!! It’s some prettiness from Desert Vista Dyeworks!! Now, the yarn is lovely, squishy and soft and tightly plied. However, my monitor was a BIG FAT LIAR about the colors of the yarn. I contacted Susan about it and she offered to re-dye it for me, but.. I felt kinda bad. Self striping yarn is super labor intensive, and I didn’t feel like making her redo everything was at all nice when differences in color are just part and parcel of ordering online. Desert Vista Dyeworks has great customer service and loads of awesome colors, and I will definitely order from her again, so I don’t want you thinking that I’m blaming the artist. But the yarn was definitely much more Halloween than the roller rink/Pop Rocks colors I had planned on. So I hatched a Plan.
I decided to overdye the pale green stripe to make it a turquoise blue (my favorite color!) but I’m also totally cheap, so I decided to use some food coloring. I went to the store and got some of the McCormick’s neon colors, because after doing some searching online it looked like the neon blue was just the ticket! I wound the yarn around a plastic egg carton, wrapping the stripe I wanted to overdye at the bottom and all the other colors on top. I really should’ve used something else, because the heat from the dye solution warped the plastic a bit. Fortunately it didn’t melt 😛 After getting it all arranged, I soaked the part of the yarn that I wanted to dye in water and vinegar for about half an hour. Vinegar helps open up the wool so it can take in the dye. I then put a pot of water on the stove on very low heat, and added dye until I had the color I wanted. It took almost nothing! I got two packages of dye because I was worried I wouldn’t have enough.. and had way too much. Oh well, guess I’ll have to do it again! I dipped the yarn into the dye bath, and separated the strands of yarn with a wooden chopstick so the dye would cover all the yarn equally. It seems like dye needs some encouragement to go on evenly, but after a little fussing with it, I was pleased with the consistency of the color. My dye bath was still a very pretty blue, so I decided to try dyeing a few other things too! I had a little skein of handspun silk, which had a delectable sheen but was a rather boring shade of cream. I also had a mini-skein of a polwarth/silk blend that I had spun up as part of a color blending experiment, and it came out a pretty uninspiring shade of greyish yellow. Into the dye bath they both went!
And here’s the final result!!
Are you shocked? I’ve been working on the same thing for a WHILE. I had reached the point of acceptance. Without a word of a lie, I thought I was going to be spinning this for the rest of my life. There was a small logical part of my brain that knew that wasn’t the case, but the rest of it was completely convinced. Part of the reason why it took so long is that the fiber is absolutely lovely. I didn’t want to mess it up. Then I messed around a lot with the colors so that I could get a near-perfect gradient. (I love being obsessively controlling about my spinning.) I knew I wanted to chain ply, and I wanted a very lightweight yarn, so that meant that I’d be spinning three times the final length of the yarn, with very skinny singles. And then when you’re chain plying, you have to pay particular attention to the evenness of your spinning so you don’t get those dreadful unsightly lumps.. All that goes to say that I’ve been spinning on this fiber for over 10 weeks (*sigh* I’m terrible.)
Here’s the gorgeous fiber:
It’s superfine merino from Melissa at Hey Lady Hey, in her Laguna colorway. It’s speckled, and there’s a ton of depth to all of the colors in the braid. There’s deep plummy purple and vibrant blood red, a pretty pale green, a grass green, and an aqua green color. It’s beautiful as it is, but me being me I decided that I needed to rip it up and organize the segments by color (which I did with actually pretty remarkable success.) What I ended up with is a gradient that starts in deep purple, progresses through blood red to pale green to grass green to aqua green at the end. To make it even more fun, all the green sections have at least a small amount of red speckling. I love it.
The superfine merino is perfect for spinning really thin. It’s CRAZY SOFT even with tons of twist in it. Don’t you love all the colors in the finished yarn? They blended and mixed in the coolest ways. I was originally thinking that I’d knit a Zuzu’s Petals with this, but I now think that the colors are too vibrant and would obscure the lacework. Plus I have way too much yardage and I want to use the whole gradient. I’ve got just over 400 yards, so I’m going to try to knit a Citron instead. So many people have knit one that I’m feeling left out 😛 I also think that the half-circle shape would perfectly highlight the shifting colors of the yarn, and the gradient will make it look like a really wild slice of citrus, something you might find in Willy Wonka’s factory.
I love this yarn. I think that it’s really one of the loveliest things I’ve ever spun, and it’s definitely my best effort so far as regards chain-plying. I still have to do that on my spindle in order to get it to work for me. I think that I could eventually teach myself to do it on my wheel, but I’d have to ruin a fair amount of fiber in order to figure it out. So the spindle works for now 🙂 I would also like to point out that this skein hasn’t been washed, so its imperfections are more obvious than they will be after a bath. (I have my pride, you know. Don’t want to seem like a worse spinner than I actually am :P) So I really have been working! I’ve just been overly meticulous and it took me a long time to finish this pretty. I want to cast it on soon, which is usually the opposite of what I do. I like my stash to hang around for a while as I figure out what it wants to be. This just wants to be wrapped around my neck right now!! It’s so soft and squishy and the colors are awesomely fun. Also, you should know that the prep was AMAZING. I could’ve spun it right out of the braid, and I’m terrible at that usually. So go forth and buy stuff! I might cast this on tonight and ditch all my other projects (and they are legion.)