Friday, September 30, 2011

Yarn Lessons

I am in the middle of learning new lessons about the importance of matching the right yarn to the right pattern.  I don't think I will be spoiling any of my sister's holiday expectations if I talk about their gifts because I don't think any of them know I even have a blog, and one may not know what a blog is.   I could be wrong about that, and she might have one of her own that I don't know about.

In early September I decided to begin my holiday knitting with enough time to allow me to change my mind, unravel my work, and generally get sidetracked if that is what it would take for me to actually finish their gifts this year.  They are accustomed to getting handcrafted gifts from me, and I do not want to disappoint them.  I am not sure that they always appreciate the item or the amount of work which goes into their gifts.  One year, for instance, I worked like a demon to produce wrist warmers on my antique circular sock machine.  The items themselves were simple; it was the learning process which was time consuming.  They only knew of the end result, so they might have been a little underwhelmed when the moment of truth arrived.  One even called me up and asked me how to wear them ... well, maybe not expressed in such a blunt manner.  After all, we are Southern women and we suggest rather than come out and ask when what we really want to know is 'what on earth are these two tubes of knitting for?'   She did, however, suggest to me that they were a little loose and odd to wear, but I just love my own and could not understand what she was talking about. 

This year I decided to knit something specifically chosen for each one, and each gift would fall within the same range of difficulty of knitting.  I decided to knit three shoulder shawls, all one-skein products.  The plan included only yarns from my own line, i.e., Wool2Dye4 yarns.  Too, they would be yarns which I hand-dyed myself.  These last two qualifications are not difficult as my personal secret stash is impressive.  I dye up all of the yarns we sell and they yarns we consider selling.

Two shawls are now complete.  I'll post pictures when all three are complete and blocked, but two are knit and bound off the needles.  They are a little scrunchy looking now, and this is normal.   I know they will grow when the finishing is, well, finished.  That is always such an exciting time, the day of blocking, but I really need to be in the right mood to actually get to it.  I have a wonderful blocking table set up, all padded and covered with a muslin gridded fabric left over from quilting days.  The work area is stocked with blocking wires -- which are the very neatest knitting accessory I have found in years! -- and blunt pins which are sold in the floral arrangement aisle and which are sold in quantities intended for a lifetime supply for at least two persons.  So, I'm set up.  It is the mood which needs to strike me.  The things and stuff are in place.  I decided, as I greedily grabbed up wool and pattern for Shawl #2, to finish all three items at one time and to hop on immediately to the next project.  I mean, that's the fun part, isn't it?  Instant gratification of casting on a new project?  Of course it is!

BUT, Shawl #3 turned into a scarf somehow when my eye went to a sport weight superwash merino from years ago, one which I had ordered from a mill as a sample.  I had just purchased a pattern online that caught my eye, and I tried to put the pattern and the yarn together into the same project.   Those yarn trial samples are not cheap or easy to come by and this fat ball is the last of that lot of yarn, something that made me consider getting a run of this yarn actually made up for the Wool2Dye4 line.  The dye job on this yarn is really neat, too, because it is the result of one of those lazy days when your movements are slow and your consideration is long, so the end product is actually deeply layered and interesting.  This one started off with two overdyes and ended with eye-dropper applications.  Really fun. 
That's a fuzzy quick shot of the yarn, and you can see that it has a big bump of unravelled length that will be a mess to knit from, but I am saving this yarn  for a future project.  Back into Secret Stash it goes, and may possibly emerge as Shawl #3 ... not sure.  Actually, I just made that decision as I typed the sentence before this one I'm typing now.  I think I won't consign it to an indefinite future, but use it for the third shawl and cast on this afternoon after the orders for the day go out the door.  Something wonderful and delicious to look forward to, and Sister #3 gets the Shawl #3.  It is decided.  This will mean that the rule that all three shawls would be made from W2D4 yarns will be broken, but will it?  I bought the trial run and dyed it and it is owned by Wool2Dye4, so I think I will consider it a proprietary yarn, after all.

And, what will I do with the lovely, smooth and luscious Silk Sock 50/50 waiting for become a circular scarf, the same which almost was substituted for Shawl #3?  I will make the unique garment for myself ... or make one just for the fun of knitting that pattern and then add the scarf to the Gift Cabinet.  This is a good resolution to the problems of the day.  My life is simple at this moment.

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