Friday, January 27, 2012

My New Favorite Yarn!

I admit it... I have a hard time picking just one favorite yarn. I mean really. Just one? Pick just one? Umm... yeah... pretty hard to do. I usually don't!
I really like Cascade 220 Superwash. That's my go to. The yarn I pick for hats for gifts and for stuff I make for Big. It's a washable wool and it's pretty soft. Not a lot of pilling so it's pretty smooth. I like it. But... my favorite... MOST favorite now has got to be Crystal Palace's Moonshine.
Can't you just tell by the picture that it sooooooooper soft..............
It's a fun kid mohair blend that comes in fabulous rich colors run through with metallic highlights. It creates these lovely soft waves of color..................... (more sighing!) it's dreamy.  It's Super (dooooper) soft and those metallic highlights............ (insert sigh) dreamy, dreamy, dreamy!
I've often said... "when you knit something; make sure you like the yarn you are using"... that way you will finish it and you will probably like it when you are done! Um yeah. Dreamy kid mohair yarn spun with metallic highlights (yeah.. I keep saying it out loud... kid mohair, metallic highlights), what's not to love with this stuff?
I found it just before Christmas over at my favorite little yarn store in Fairfax, VA ( and I had to have it.
 Oh I know. I know,  okay?  I have (have) to have yarn a lot but this stuff was just singing to me... take me home... take me home.... so I did. Just one. One small little ball and a pattern!
I actually bought something with a planned purpose. This stuff was going to be mixed with Cascade 220 Superwash (purple!) and made into a hat for me!   Usually I just buy it because I like it, hoping that some day I will have a purpose for it. Sigh.  Not this stuff! I knew exactly what I was going to make with it and even bought the main color and took it all home that day!
My original intention was to make this over Christmas break while at home in the woods. Ha! I spent too much time gallivanting around seeing my family and my new grandson that the dreamy kid mohair spun with metallic highlights (ha! say it again... do it!) just sat in my bag, waiting and waiting....
Today I started it! I'm between projects. Got nothing on needles anywhere so I went ahead and opened it up..... did I tell you how dreamy soft this stuff was? Yeah....
The hat is started out using the CC (contrast color), which in this case is the Moonshine. Then you rib for 1.5 inches in the MC (main color = 220 Superwash) and then you make little 'window's in the work by knitting with the CC and slipping the MC. You can't really tell yet... but here is a link to the pattern. Which, by the way is a FREE pattern! Woot!

The pattern says it's for an advanced beginner (me!!) to an intermediate knitter, but so far it's been pretty easy. Except that my first row of peek through with Moonshine, I only did 3 rows instead of 4. Aaaargh... I didn't take it out though... I'm hoping I won't mind later! AND nobody will ever notice... except I told you didn't I. Just pretend like you don't notice when you see me wearing this hat. Okay?
So I'm off to knit! It's Friday night..... Big's freezing his buns off over 'there' and Boy is starting his Friday night movie marathon........ so it's me & my new favorite yarn hanging out!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mo's Hat

Boy oh Boy! The new Mr. Mo isn't even here yet and he's getting loaded up on presents! I just finished his little cabled hat and although I think I figured out that I can do cables, I'm just not real thrilled with this hat.
I need to figure out a way to not have ladders between the needles. You know those wonkity areas between your  dpn's when you're working in the round?  Those ladders. Ugh I hate those.
 Usually when I'm knitting with dpn's, I knit the first stitch, then right when I'm knitting the second, I pull it really really tight. I learned that in a sock class. Prevents ladders really nicely, but...... obviously.... with my little cabled hat here, not so much.
See that line running between the cables - the cable in the middle and then the cable to the left? It looks like a ridge? Yep. Those are ladders. Ugly. U G L Y ugly. Unfortunately there are 3 ridges on this hat - right where those bad boy dpn's were. Ugh.
I like how the hat looks from far away (ha!) like here on my rooster...oh nuts... the ridge is still there. I'm not going to point this one out... but I know you will see it.
I really do like this hat. Really. I especially like how the cables start in the ribbing and go all the way to the top.
I think I'm still going to give Mo his hat. I think.
Maybe I will just knit up another one and see how that one works. Hm mm....
One thing that I learned about this hat.. I CAN DO CABLES! Woohoo!
I know they aren't hard, I just kept thinking that there was more to them than basically twisting a stitch here and there, doing something different on the next row ~ that's where I got the glitch! Wait?! Do something different on the next row? Really? How does that make a cable. Duh.
Just follow the pattern like it says and very nicely, it cables all by itself. Well, with just a little t3f, t3b, c4f kind of stuff, but it really works!
I even tried Mo's hat on a boy who isn't Mo.  I'm not sure Boy even noticed, but I needed a model!!
Oh well.... maybe it will look better once it gets blocked and then stretched onto a cute baby head.
Here's hoping!

HERE is the link to the pattern for the Cabled Baby Hat aka Mo's Hat!

My Favorite Hat!

The Jacques Coustea Hat pattern is turning out to be my favorite hat to knit and my favorite pattern to follow! I've made 3 of them in the past month. One for my Dad....

along with the ribbed neck warmer. I just finished the 2nd one and it's for Big! He's over in the Hindu Kush Mountains and I don't want his ears to freeze off!  That's two... well...the other one, #3, isn't quite finished yet! I'm still working on it but, hey!  It still counts because January isn't quite over yet!
I just love how the top swirls... all those decreases look a little weird when you're making it but the end result is pretty cool. This pattern is super easy. The first time I did it, I had a little problem staying in pattern. The ribbing is k3, p2 rather than a normal k2,p2. So I messed it up a bit... once you get a rhythm going it's pretty easy!

It's a pretty densely knitted fabric so I'm hoping it will keep Big's ears nice & toasty! I'm sure he has a hat to wear, but Valentine's Day is right around the corner.
Here's the link to the pattern again - it's a freeby over on Ravelry!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Making A Difference with Leftovers

I finished my neck cowl made out of mill ends!!
What are mill ends??  They are basically yarn leftovers.  The stuff  left over after a skein of yarn has been wound into the length needed. I bought some of these leftovers at a fiber mill near my house in Michigan. I thought the colors were cool and even though some of the yarns were different sizes, I really liked it. I especially liked that the mill owner was using up something that might have been waste and making it into something use able! Talk about recycling!

I really hadn't thought about mill ends before. Honestly, I really didn't think too much about yarn.  I usually go to the yarn shop, drool over the yarn and pick stuff I  love based on texture, weight and of course color. I hadn't really given a whole lot of thought how the yarn gets into my hands.  I knew where it comes from (sort of) and of course how retail works, and spending time with my new spinning wheel has opened my eyes a  bit, but..... what about the leftovers?

Here's just a little thought for a cold Monday morning.....

A sheep grew the fleece.  A farmer sheared it off and then cleaned it. It then had to be carded  and then either hand processed or sent to a mill for processing. So far it's a lot of work!  Once it's cleaned, carded, whatever else,  it gets turned into roving or yarn!  Our favorite stuff!!   The perfect stuff we see on the shelf.
What happens to those pieces of that fleece that aren't so perfect? A little short in the fiber department perhaps? Not the right color after it's been dyed. Just a little too short to get wound into a ball?   Let's just toss it into a corner for now and continue.... 
So our yarn has been wound into a ball. Once it gets measured to the desired length (220yds?), it's cut. IF there is enough, it's wound into another perfect ball.... the remainder, the leftovers... where does that go?
In my case with this particular yarn - Mill Ends!! The smart fiber mill owner takes all those leftover pieces and winds them up and sells them! No being tossed out into a landfill for the pieces in this  hank!!   If it hadn't been "saved" I wonder where it would have ended up?  Knowing a little about the people who own the mill, it would have probably ended up as something useful.  I can only imagine that in a large scale operation it may have ended up in a landfill. How sad.

Because of the way we are programmed (AND A LOT OF US ARE CHANGING!) we don't like those not so perfect pieces of yarn. The ones that aren't spun just right and aren't just the 'right' one for our project. We throw them away.  Even those little leftover pieces from a ball of yarn... what did you do with those?  Our society seems to do this with everything! Even with food.
I grew up not wasting anything. Recycling was just what you did. It wasn't a new thing, it wasn't cool... it's just what we did. Your food scraps were put outside on the garden for compost and everything that was re-usable WAS.  I don't remember having a garbage truck pull up in front of our house and haul away the trash. Ever. Not so now...
I have been trying to think about everything I buy.  Pre-thinking of what I can do with the packaging, that kind of thing. Sometimes I don't even buy it (whatever it is) just because of the packaging.
 Oh I admit, I'm still a work in progress!!

I'll keep trying to do my part - reduce, reuse, recycle and here is my mill end cowl just to show what I did with my mill ends!
The finished version on Boy Wonder!

It seems that the 3 R's - reduce, reuse, recycle are a new way of living. It shouldn't be that hard!  I just need to get back to my humble beginnings and do things like we used to do! It was pretty easy to reuse the things we had because we didn't have much.  If  we didn't have something to begin with.... we reused what he had!!  I wonder how I've gotten so far from where I started....

I did some searching online and found a few places that sell mill ends and what we can do with them...... -
Here you can buy mill end rovings!  Their website says this:  THESE ROVINGS ARE MILL ENDS!!They are not perfect, they have been tossed in boxes, put in boxes, hauled, stored in bins. They are top spinning and felting fibers, but may not be exactly as pictured...  

I for one wouldn't mind spinning some not so perfect roving! You should see my spinning......... it's not so perfect to begin with!! a big company like Caron has gotten on board with it.  Here you can buy their yarn in one pound bags. No guarantees on color but if you were buying for charity knitting or teaching groups... might be a cool way to go.

Spend some time this spring & summer at a fiber festival. See how people are getting back to where this stuff all started!  Spend some time with a spinner & see how complicated it can be to make a perfect skein of yarn. Believe me... it ain't easy! I went here last fall & had an absolutely wonderful time! This fall I'm planning on taking the kid! Maybe then he won't give me such a hard time about spinning!

I think the moral of this little story I just gave you is this.... spend some time thinking about what you are doing. Make a small difference every day in just one thing and it leads up to bigger things!