What Can I Do With Super Bulky Art Yarn?

I get a lot of questions about the small yardage super bulky art yarns I spin.  Typically  someone admires one my yarns like this one.

IMG_5683And then they ask me “But, what can I do with such a small amount of yarn?”

A great use for this type of yarn is a headband.  I have made headbands from super bulky yarns spun from 1.75 oz. of fiber.  This one is a 2 ply, but used a small amount of yarn.  Don’t be fooled by how little it looks, it stretches to fit a woman’s head perfectly.

Headband Knit From Super Bulky Hand Spun Yarn
Headband Knit From Super Bulky Hand Spun Yarn

Check out my Ravelry project page to see all the headbands I’ve knit.  As of today there are seventeen. Scope out my other projects while you are there too.  Friend me and say hi.

You can get my free headband pattern here.  It’s easy and fast, you’ll have a gorgeous headband in less than an hour.  Warning:  These are addictive knitting!  You’ll want to make another one immediately.

These yarns can be used in weaving projects, to stripe in a cowl or hat, or to create a face framing edging.

Combine with other super bulky yarns, handspun or commercially spun, to use in a larger project.  This is a great way to use up leftovers.  Make the colors coordinated or wildly contrasting.  Try it for a scarf or a larger project.

The Rogue Wave Wrap is perfect for this kind of yarn when combined with others.  There are a lot of patterns that would work.  Here’s one that’s free.  I am knitting this now.  watch for pictures soon.

Wrap a gift for a women in a pretty tea towel and tie with fabulous yarn.

There are a few ideas get you started.  Do you have others?  I’d love to hear them.  Comment below to share!

 

 

 

 

Collaboration vs. Competition (and Clapotis Tips Too)

I’ve noticed something about some patterns lately that I don’t remember seeing on old, vintage patterns.

Once in a while, there will be a statement somewhere on the pattern prohibiting making the item for sale; I’ve heard these referred to as personal use only patterns.  I’ve seen this on both free patterns and patterns I’ve bought.

Now, call me crazy, but it seems to me that if I buy a pattern I should be able to do whatever I want with it (except sell it on directly, of course).  I think the time and materials I put into a knitted item, say a shawl, are quite a contribution, and give me the right to sell it, gift it, keep it, or even destroy it if I wish.

When you buy a cookbook, there isn’t a disclaimer that you can’t make cupcakes from the recipe and sell them.  The very idea is laughable, and I don’t see much difference, they are both intellectual property.

Attempting to place restrictions on the use of your creation speaks volumes about a mindset of lack and scarcity – which is not the way I choose to live.  I believe there is plenty of business for everyone.

I don’t see how it hurts the pattern designer for me to knit and sell from her pattern.  I’ve already paid for it, more people will see her designs, and that could result in more pattern sales to other knitters.

As a matter of fact, I know of at least one pattern designer, Natalie Larson, who recognizes that collaboration is a better way to do business than the old paradigm of competition.

Here’s what she says on her Star Crossed Slouchy Beret pattern page on Ravelry about knitting her patterns for sale.

If you buy the seller pattern, it allows you to sell an unlimited number of finished products. This is lifetime license with no sample knitting required. I ask that credit be given and that you provide a link from your listings to my etsy, HC and Ravelry pattern store. I will provide you with the links and exact wording. Additionally, I will link to your shop information from my stores – perhaps you’ll get some extra business!

She is a forward thinking business person.  Collaborating with other knitters will get her pattern more exposure, more word of mouth and very likely, more sales.  And it doesn’t cost her a thing. The knitter gets free marketing assistance.  Win-Win – I love that!

In news about my own knitting, I’ve received some custom orders lately.  I’m on the second one now, it’s a Clapotis in Malabrigo Rios, colorway Aguas.

Here’s a picture of the first Clapotis I knit.  This yarn is Cascade 220, the colorway is 9923.  It reminded me of a thunderstorm sky, I called it Thunderclap on my Ravlery page.

Clapotis in Cascade 220

And here’s the beginning of the new one in Malabrigo.  I’m thinking it will be spectacular.

Clapotis in Malabrigo Aguas

I find the clapotis pattern to be overly complicated as it’s written on Knitty.  Fortunately, Kim at SoulKnitting has made a wonderful checklist you can find here on her blog.  Makes the whole process very simple, just knit and check off the rows.

If you have any trouble with the checklist and can’t reach Kim feel free to contact me, I’ll email you the spreadsheet.

So, genius pattern design and easy to use instructions from someone else – see what I mean about collaboration?

What do you think about this subject?

A Weighty Subject

I’ve been made aware (in a traumatic way) that not all skeins of yarn are created equal – they don’t all weigh what the label says they do.

Recently, I was knitting this lovely small shawl

Blue Lagoon Scarf/Shawlette

and I ran out of yarn long, long before I should have.  The only reason I caught on is that this was the second time I used that yarn to knit the same pattern.

The yarn was Knitpicks Chroma fingering weight.  I called the nice Customer Service queen and she apologized profusely and immediately dispatched another ball at no charge.  She asked me to let her know if there was a problem with the new ball, because that might indicate there were short weights for the whole dye lot.

The new ball was fine, but this whole experience made me think (uh-oh) and I began to weigh many different yarns.

Here are some results.

Yarn

Labeled Weight (grams)

Actual Weight (grams)

Noro Kureyon             100               99
            100               90
Noro Kochoran             100               92
            100              107
            100              107
            100              103
            100              97
            100              92
KnitPicks Gloss DK             50              47
            50             49
            50             50
            50             52
Karabella Soft Tweed             50             53
            50             50
            50             50
KnitPicks Stroll             100             102
Noro Silver Thaw             100             97

What I discovered:

1.  Yarn weights are all over the place.  8 were under weight, 6 were over weight, and only 3 were accurate.

2.  Some of the underweight balls were very short, up to 10% less than labeled.  This can cause a big problem if the weight indicates that there is less yardage than labeled.

3.  Noro was the worst offender.  The reason I weighed so many Noro yarns is because my first results were so crazy (and because I have a lot of Noro).  Karabella was pretty consistent, Knitpicks Gloss was pretty close to stated weight or a bit over.

Now, all this brought more questions to my inquiring mind.

What does it all mean?  Is the yardage short?  Is the yarn underweight because it lost moisture in storage?  Does humidity in my house affect the weight?

I am willing to believe moisture is a factor, but 10% underweight is a bit much.  I googled around a bit – searched underweight yarn skeins – and found plenty of yarns for sale with the disclaimer “slightly underweight”.

Of course, I absolutely do not believe any of this is done purposely.  But, it’s impossible to know how much yarn I use if I don’t know what I started with.  And sometimes I need to know.  For example, when designing a pattern it’s necessary to know how much yarn it takes.   Also, if I don’t know how much I started with, I don’t know what I have left.  Since I often use leftovers for smaller projects, that matters to me.

So,  I’m weighing all my skeins from now on before I knit them.  I’ll record the weights on my Ravelry project page.  And, if I notice a consistent pattern of shortages then I’ll be able to make an informed decision about buying that yarn in future.

New Year’s Resolutions Indigo Kitty Style

I’m not normally one to make any kind of New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to learn and accomplish in the upcoming year. Here’s a preliminary list.

Fair Isle – I picked up a gorgeous book at Half Price Books the other day, called Colorwork Creations. It’s subtitled Knit woodland inspired hats, mittens and gloves.
Here’s the cover
ColorworkCreations
Charming, right?  There are so many lovely patterns inside, for example chickadees, butterflies, ducks, cardinals, snowflakes.  Hard to choose one to start with!

I did purchase a kit from Knitpicks a while back for the bright woodland mitts. That seems like a good starting point for my fair isle adventures. I have a knitting date with my friend Wendy, who is a Fair Isle Queen for Jan 3.  Starting this project right out of the gate!

Here is a picture (from Knitpicks site) of the mitts.
woodland mitts

I’d also like to do more spinning and become more expert in using my Ashford Traveler spinning wheel.

Then there’s  hand dyeing fiber.  My business partner, the wonderful and brilliant Cheryl, gave me a very nice book for my birthday about dyeing.  It’s The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.  This looks like a lot of fun.  I plan to dye yarn and roving using acorns, coffee, blackberries, red cabbage and more.

Here’s the cover.

handbook of natural plant dyes

What a great gift!

Did you know you can use dandelion root to dye fiber red?  I’ll be paying the kids to get me some roots in the spring (and making the lawn look a bit better).   I can’t wait to get started!

I’d like to knit more fingerless gloves, we have a goal to have 50 pairs ready for next winter.  They are big sellers for us and a fun and easy knit too.

I want to write a pattern for a lace shawl and some cabled and lace cowls.  So many pattern ideas, I could probably work 24 hours a day and still have stuff rattling around in my brain!

And all those things should keep me busy for a good part of the year.

Wishing all my readers the best for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013.  Keep on knitting (and spinning, and dyeing, and crocheting)!

Entrelac

I always thought entrelac would be a very difficult and advanced knitting technique.  Happy to know that I was completely wrong.  It’s actually quite easy, and a great way for me to practice something I really didn’t like – picking up stitches.  My pick up and knit/purl skills have quickly improved since beginning this project.

The pattern for this project is here and the yarn is Noro Kochoran, which is a bulky yarn.  It’s 50% wool, 30% angora, and 20% silk.  This scarf is very enjoyable to knit – simple pattern, easily understood (and almost memorized, but I do refer to pattern on one section), and the color changes make it easy to knit “one more row”.

The fat yarn makes this scarf very wide, more like a shawl or wrap than a scarf, it will be fabulous wrapped around my shoulders and held with my new sheep shawl pin (which looks super cute with any knitting).  The knitting peeks through the body of the sheep.  I’ve already received several positive comments from random citizens when I’ve worn it.

You can get one like it from the artist who makes these.  She has an Etsy shop, and also makes shawl pins shaped like kitties, doggies, mermaids, llamas, elephants, butterflies, cows, and sailboats.  I’ll bet she can do other shapes  too if you ask!  It was practically impossible to select just one, but I do love sheep, they are so calm and grounded.  Just seeing a picture of a sheep relaxes me!

I am conducting a poll about shawl pins and would love to know your answer.

I love this project so much I may keep it for myself or give to a family member.  I want to make more of these, maybe in thinner yarns, so watch for future posts on entrelac!

Finished Objects and a Great Give Away

I finished the scarf I’ve been working on for my lovely sister, Linda.  I’m very happy with it overall.  I did find the yarn, Lunabudknits BFL Sock (100% superwash Blueface Leicester Wool),  to be a bit kinky and thus tangly, but it sure did knit up into a gorgeous scarf!  The pattern is Milky Way Scarf, available free on Ravelry.  I’m really sure my sister will love this.  This is year 2 in the annual “Linda Picks, Sandy Knits” program my sister and I conduct.  We go to a fiber festival (with my mother) and Linda picks out some lovely yarn.  Then we come home and explore on Ravelry until we find the perfect pattern.

Last year’s result in the “Linda Picks, Sandy Knits” tradition was the Trellis shawl, knit in a hand dyed silvery purple merino/bamboo blend.  Click on the picture to see it more closely.  Lots of nupps in this pattern, I was very glad to bind it off!

I’ve been working on swatching some lace patterns for my Craftsy class, Lace Shawl Design.

Here’s one

Openwork Leaf Pattern from Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns

I’ve done four practice charts to see which ones I’d like to include or adapt in the first shawl I design.  As a result, last week was a bit short of actual productive knitting.

On Labor Day, I got back into the “real knitting” swing and started a new project.  The yarn is Mini Mochi, colorway 01.

Love free yarn?  The Making Spot is running a contest right now with a prize of a year’s worth of British Made yarn from Blacker Yarns.  Their yarns look lovely to me and well worth winning.  The Making Spot also has great patterns to dream over!  Join me in entering the contest.  Good luck!

Lace Shawl Design

I have taken the Craftsy plunge and signed up for a class! Lace Shawl Design with Miriam Felton was my choice, as I hope to sharpen my skills in this area. I love many things about Craftsy classes. For a very reasonable cost you get access forever to the lessons, it’s easy to watch part of a class again and again until you “get it” or if you were interrupted (thanks, kids), and there’s a cool way to take notes that are saved in the lesson so you can find them later.

Miriam is easy to listen to and watch as she demonstrates what she’s teaching.  Occasionally she seems the teensy tiniest bit nervous, but that just makes her even more human and endearing.   I have finished lesson 4 of 13 and have learned a lot about charting lace.

I easily charted a very attractive pattern called Openwork Leaf from Barbara Walker’s wonderful book Treasury of Knitting Patterns.  However, I am having quite a lot of trouble charting Fluerette from the same book.  The stitch count changes and I am having a  murderous time figuring out how to chart that.  So, I am going to take Miriam’s advice and knit a swatch in the hopes I will understand the pattern enough to chart it correctly.  It’s a really pretty lace; the pattern is described as an “charming old French lace pattern (with a ) delicate, meshlike quality”.  Sounds ideal for a shawl.

Another thing I like about Craftsy is that you can ask questions, the instructor and other students will answer, so I know this will be resolved in the end!

I met my business partner and friend, Cheryl, along with our  friend Christel to knit yesterday.  We spent an hour and a half catching up and knitting away on our various projects.  I’m working on a scarf for my lovely sister, Linda.  It’s almost done and then I plan to knit a series of cowls for my kids.

They asked for cowls last year and I just never got them off the ground, so this year I am committed to them.  If my daughters actually ask me to hand knit something I am certainly willing to do it, especially something as easy as a plain ribbed cowl (which, to be truthful, I will probably find a bit boring ).

Cheryl brought a cowl she knit from some of my hand spun yarn to our little knitting group yesterday.  This is the first hand spun yarn I’ve created that I’ve seen knit up.  I was stunned and really amazed at its beauty.  It is so much more than I ever dreamed!  What do you think?

And here is a close up.

I have an idea for a series of lacy cowls.  When will I have time to write up those patterns?  I see many days in the near future with very little housework getting done (oh, let’s be honest – no housework being done).  Hope no one minds sandwiches for dinner (over and over).