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lacy sweater for a quick fall knit

pattern by Corrine Walcher
LiViLy Catoctin Sweater

This is a lovely lacy sweater made with our LiViLy yarn. This worsted weight yarn is made from the fleeces of my Cormo sheep. Corrine Walcher , AKA Gingyknits, is the designer. If you haven’t used her patterns before, they are concise and come in a wide range of sizes. And our LiViLy comes in great colors.

cormoworsted yarn

Here is photo of the front of the sweater. I have worn this several times. It is well fitting and the yarn is really next to the skin soft. You can get LiViLy yarn here. You can get Gingy’s pattern here.

forest green sweater
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gradient set to make a pretty shawl

gradient set shawl

This shawl is a really fun one to make. It  is a shallow crescent shape. It can be worn in so many ways from over your shoulders or backwards like a cowl.  It is made with my Corrie Sock yarn. The kit includes a 5 mini skein gradient set, beads for the edge and the pattern.  The mini’s do all the work for you, most of this shawl is garter stitch and at the end there is some lace stitches for interest.  This is a good project to take to the soccer field or swim meets. All you need to do is add needles and you’re ready to cast on. There are 5 colors to choose from, so go grab one in my online store.

5 mini skein gradient
Cherry set
5 mini skein gradient
Purple set
5 skein gradient set
Brilliant Blue set
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Autumnal Yarn Collection

hand dyed yarn in autumn fall colors

I’m working on my Autumn yarn collection that will make their debut at the three fiber festivals in September and October. I have a booth at Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, Fall Fiber Festival at James Madison’s Montpelier and Rhinebeck Fiber Festival. I’m still deciding which yarn will be the featured yarn at which festival. As you can see these are fingering weight yarns. They make excellent socks but I also love this yarn for making shawls. Click here if you would like to join my mailing list so that I can let you know about new colorways, patterns and which of these yarns will be available a specific show.

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a view from the spinning wheel

It’s the Tour de Fleece! This is a spinning event where hand spinners spin everyday of the Tour de France. It is a fun event and I love the sense of community around it.

view from the wheel
view from my wheel

For the first 3 days, I spun 4 ounces of hand dyed Blue Faced Leicester top and plied some of it into 132 yards of worsted weight yarn.

BFL skein
my skein of BFL yarn

Want to join my team? Go to Ravelry and join in this forum. And if you love this roving, you can grab some in my online store.

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couch knitting on hot summer days

knitting in the wild

I love to do my knitting on the couch watching/listening to a guilty pleasure on the TV. Here’s a fun and easy 2 color brioche cowl knit in the round. Full disclosure…..I did have to redo this first attempt at least 4 times to fix mistakes as I learned this new technique. Yarn pictured is Rum Raisin LiViLy Cormo Worsted and Synergy mint green Worsted. You can grab some of this in my online store.

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Yarn Weights and Measures: What Do They All Mean?

grist1
I’ve been thinking a lot about what all those ways that yarn manufacturers, including myself, categorize the yarn.  There are so many ways of speaking about the size of the yarn. The standard yarn weight information is set up in a table with discreet squares. But I’ve been studying this lately and I’ve noticed that there is overlap,  a lot of overlap among the yarn weights. So it seems to me that this is really a continuum. Just look at the info about YPP, yards per pound, the overlap here is really large. Why is that? It has to do with the spinning process.

yarn weights

Was it spun in a woolen way with lots of air and softly spongy and so it has a bigger diameter? Or was it spun in a worsted way which compacts the fibers and aligns them all in one direction and so it appears thinnner. These two yarns could have the same YPP but a different grist or appearance and they will behave very differently. So use these as a guide, but the ultimate test is your own swatch. These two yarns were both supposed to be a DK weight. But the diameter is SOOOOO different. They knit up differently too. The green one knits like a lace weight yarn. It is our Heritage BFL yarn. And the turquoise yarn is Fingal’s and truly knits like a DK yarn. It is also made with BFL wool and both were made at the same mill.  Go figure!!

grist2

This really comes into play when you are wanting to make that special sweater. You are wanting to use yarn from your stash, not go out and buy the yarn that the designer used. Or maybe that yarn isn’t available anywhere near you. This is when those standard yarn weights become important. And even more important than that, is to knit up a swatch. Not only a stockinette swatch but also a swatch in pattern.

 

But is a swatch important when it is for a garment that doesn’t fit your body, like a shawl or a cowl? Well, I think getting the gauge close is important so that the stitches look the same. You may not need to get it “exactly” right if it isn’t going to “fit” your body. What is important to do is to check the size of the finished project, because many times the photographs used in the pattern, may be on a mannequin and not a person. It may be made for an extremely small or large person, someone whose body is vastly different than yours.  Sometimes making a swatch seems like wasting your time and a waste of yarn. You will probably only need 25-50 yards for a swatch. It will reduce the chance that you would need to frog your project.  I think it is important to make sure that the stitches look right. You may be a looser knitter than the designer or vice versa. So changing your needle size will be just what you need to get your swatch to look like the picture. Those are important questions to answer and it is worth the time to figure this out before you jump into your garment.

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Wool Love Wrap-up

Wool is so diverse and so can be used for so many different projects with different looks and different hand (they way it feels).  To recap, there is a wool out there for all of your projects from soft next to the skin cormo for shawls, scarves and hats to tough lustrous Leicester Longwool for warm rugs or blankets.  Wool has memory to spring back when stretch with wearing.  It also is very insulating yet it is breathable wicking moisture away from your skin.  Next week, The Year of Stash Appreciation will continue with an indepth look at mohair.

merinocloseup
Super fine merino showing the bounty of crimpy goodness.

 

 

What is your next wool project? Post your answers in the comments to share what’s on your needles.

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Stash Appreciation–Wool Blends Part 2–Cellulose and Synthetics

Effective yarn designers take many factors into consideration: fiber price, feel, structure, weight, and staple length to name a few.  Why make a blend with wool and a plant or man-made fiber? It depends. Each of these blends starts with the incredibly versatile wool fiber and adds properties of luster, strength or temperature control to the resulting yarn. Adding rayon/Tencel/Viscose/Lyocell gives yarn the look of silk without the price of silk.  All these processes were developed to mimic the silk fiber with it’s high glossy look. Adding nylon gives strength, while adding cotton reduces the warmth of the end garment. We’ll look at each of these.

Wool-Tencel: Tencel is a trade name for a particular rayon. It is made by breaking down woody plants and even wood into small molecules of cellulose. It is then extruded in the same way that spaghetti is extruded. The manufacturer can make any length staple length to match a wool staple that it will be blended with.  Since there are no scales on the skin of each fiber, it is highly lustrous. But the flip side to that is that it is inelastic.  It also lends incredible drape and softness to any fiber it is blended with.

Bamboo Textile Process

Wool-Bamboo: Bamboo is just another type of Tencel/Rayon/Viscose.  In these yarns, the plant is bamboo.  It is hyped as a eco-fiber based on the fantastic growth and proliferation of bamboo. In fact, large areas of food producing land in other countries is being planted with bamboo. It is important to know that the making of bamboo fiber (yarn and textiles) is not as environmentally friendly as the photo above would have you believe. The digestion process uses toxic chemicals like sulfuric acid and large amounts of water. Some bamboo textiles claim to be organic, they may have been grown organically, however the manufacturing process would not be able to meet organic standards. In fact, many of the characteristics of bamboo such as its anti-bacterial property are lost because of the process used to make the fiber.  There are some manufacturers who use mechanical breakdown which uses less chemicals and water to break down the plants. At this time there is no labeling requirement, so you can’t really tell which yarn would be produced in this more environmentally friendly way.

Wool-Lyocell: Lyocell again is just a type of tencel. But the manufacturing process used involves less chemicals and so is less ecologically toxic.  This system is also on a closed loop, meaning that the chemicals and water are reused rather than just dumped into the local environment.

Wool-Cotton: There are a few of these blends available in the commercial market. They are sturdy yarns that can be used for projects for warmer climates where 100% wool would be too warm. The wool and cotton are both “breathable” and the cotton tends to stay cooler against your skin.

Wool-Nylon: These blends are typically found in yarn intended for socks.  Nylon is a man-made fiber that is extremely strong and durable. Since socks get a lot of abrasion, nylon helps them last longer. Nylon also returns to it’s original shape after being stretched.

Wool-Acrylic: These blends tend to have wool as a lower percentage (20-30%)  of the yarn than the acrylic. Sometimes nylon is added to this mix as well.  These yarns all claim to be machine washable and can be put into a dryer as well.  They are great for easy care garments and especially for infant or child items. The yarns are also designed to be very soft which is a characteristic that most people want in their garments. These blends are the entry point for new knitters. Hopefully after knitting basics are mastered, knitters will moving into more adventurous yarns.

Do you have any of these blends in your stash? Do you have a favorite to use? What projects have you made with it? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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Stash Appreciation–Wool Blends Part 1- Animal

After reading all the previous wool posts, I hope I’ve convinced you that wool is a great all purpose fiber that can be used for all kinds of finished products from hearty rugs to lacy, delicate shawls. Wool blends are designed to combine all the fantastic characteristics of wool with those of other fibers. Designers combine fibers together to make a yarn that solves a problem or serves a niche.

Wool-Mohair Blends: Mohair adds luster to the more matte finish wool.  Wool provides the mohair with memory so that your garment will bounce back to it’s original shape. My Fernham yarn is 75% wool and 25% kid mohair. The mohair adds just a touch of light and softness. Mohair dyes vibrantly and gives the blend rich tones.

provenceskein
FGF Fernham yarn made in collaboraton with Grindstone Ridge Farm. There are only a limited number of skeins left in this custom mill spun yarn. So if you love it, click on the picture to go to our store and buy as much as you need.

 

Mohair can also add strength. I designed our Perendale (wool) and adult Mohair sock yarn blend.  The mohair takes the place of nylon in other sock yarns. The Perendale wool gives the sock structure and spring and memory.

psock
FGF sock yarn made with 95% wool from perendale sheep and 5% adult mohair for strength and durability

 

Wool-Cashmere Blends: Cashmere gives that incredible softness to the wool blend. It also provides a lot of warmth without adding a lot of weight to the yarn.  Cashmere is almost always a shorter staple length than the wool. So it will add a halo to the yarn. It may also migrate out the the yarn and provide a pill factor.

Wool-Silk Blends: Silk lends incredible luster and strength to the wool fibers. Silk is stronger than steel. And there is an undeniable luxury factor when silk is added to wool. Silk also dyes vibrantly with rich tones.

Wool-Alpaca Blends: There are many alpaca wool yarn blends on the market. Many of them are also “baby alpaca” or cria. Just like any baby animal, cria fleeces are very fine and soft, so yarns made with it are also incredibly soft. Alpaca is also very warm and can be heavy. Wool in the blend provides the structure and memory to the yarn, so the yarns will bounce back into shape and not keep “growing”.  Alpaca dyes in softer saturation than either silk or mohair.

Wool-Angora Blends: I am just not all that familiar with Angora rabbits and I don’t want to mislead you.  I do know that it is incredibly soft and warm. Every angora yarn I’ve seen has almost a brushed appearance. So I wonder if angora is a bit like cashmere, in that, it will migrate out of the yarn and shed.  In these blends, wool is definitely adding the structure and stability to the yarn.  If you, dear reader, have more info about this add it to a comment and share your knowledge.