Thursday, March 11, 2010

On the subject of yarn

I have a long family and personal history in the textile arts. My mother learned a great deal from my paternal grandmother on the subject, and has graciously passed her knowledge and passion on to me. I have been sewing and crocheting for approximately thirteen years (since I was about ten or so), and for most of that time I have used acrylic yarns. Acrylic is generally inexpensive, easy to work with, widely available, easy-care, and comes in a huge variety of colors and textures. Since my sheep production course last year, though, I have fallen in love with wool. Sheep are fantastic creatures, with the ability to transform non-arable land into meat and fiber. Wool tends to be more expensive than synthetics, but I think the extra cost is well worth the durability of the fiber and the feel of the finished product. Wool is also warmer than synthetic fibers, hairs, or cotton, since the fiber has a hollow core. Not only is wool fantastic, lamb is pretty darn tasty, too. Needless to say, I love those fuzzy little buggers.

Since I have fallen in love with wool yarns, I have purchased several different types. My first forays into the world of wool yarns were in a couple of local shops. While I loved the experience of shopping for the yarn, I feel the local shops were mostly overpriced for the quality they offered. Really nice fibers like merino wool and alpaca were just out of the question. I still have those yarns sitting around waiting to be used, and maybe someday I'll finally figure out what to do with them. Anyhow, within the last year or so I have discovered KnitPicks.

My largest current project is in KnitPicks' Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn. Wool of the Andes is made of 100% Peruvian Highland wool, and is fairly heavy. My colors on this project are Spruce (teal) and Oyster (cream/eggshell). I'll talk more about that in a later post, though. I'm also using KnitPicks Merino Style  in Storm as the blue in the scarf below, and Wool of the Andes in Daffodil as the yellow accent stripes. All four colors that I have of Wool of the Andes are in the floor in front of my yarn  basket below.  (I also purchased some in Sapphire Heather- which is gorgeous)

If you look closely, you'll see a little doodad on that blue and yellow scarf. Well, that's my butterfly fairy. She helps me keep projects from unraveling when I'm not working on them. If you're like me and can't help but have half a dozen projects going at once, little hair clips and the like are indispensable for keeping stitches, well, stitched. It's a bonus that she's cute and sparkly. :)

I've also decided to finish off some of my old acrylic baby yarn by making a couple of baby blankets.  I have two giant balls of mint green, and one of white. One of these projects will be a super-large granny square, and the other is my first ever ripple! One of these will go to my niece, who is due in July. The other will go to my sister-in-law, since I just learned she's incubating the spawn of Satan- er, my brother.

Well, this concludes my little spiel on yarns. Next post: my nine-patch afghan!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pretty and Pink

For the birth of my sister-in-law's baby last fall, I decided to make a baby blanket. Since the lady in question adores pink, and was having a daughter, no other color would do. Pink it would be. So I hopped on the bus and went to my trusty Walmart craft center to pick out some yarn. After scouring their selection of baby yarns, I walked away with my prize: Caron's Simply Soft Eco yarn in Blush. The color is a lovely rose, not too bright but also not your typical pastel baby color. While I love that the yarn is made from recycled materials, I have to say it is pretty difficult to work with. The recycled PET plastic fibers simply do NOT want to hold a twist, and I often caught my hook on the untwisting yarn while I worked. The upside of this, though, is that the finished piece has a wonderfully soft, full texture. Texture aside, I don't think I'll be purchasing any more of this yarn to work with; it was just that frustrating.

Here is the blanket all folded and tied with a pretty ribbon:

I ended up doing a very simple, straight double crochet baby blanket, with a shell edging. I am told that it is little Ani's favorite blanket ever, which makes me just about the happiest aunt in existence.

Closeups of the edging: