Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Knitting Blog Week

I heard about the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week on Twitter a week or so ago. I thought it sounded like a fun thing to do. So I'm going to participate this year; but I'm participating a bit differently. I'm not blogging every day next week. I don't have the time, and quite honestly, I don't know if I'm going to be able to blog at all next week. I will try, but next week will be particularily busy, and I may not be able to get around to blogging. So rather than blog every day next week, I will use the topics that are meant for the Knitting Blog Week over my next 7 blog posts, whenever they happen to be.

A Tale of Two Yarns:

In case you didn't know, I really like yarn. Most yarns. A lot of yarn. I like it a lot. I invite it into my home whenever possible. Sometimes it accepts and stays, sometimes it just comes long enough for me to play with it and make it into something pretty and then it goes away and so someone else can enjoy it. Either way, I like it. There are some yarns that make more of an impression than others, though. I have learned that I am very partial to bamboo and bamboo blends. I like cotton too, but I'm a bit pickier about it. Some cottons are painful to knit with, and require very specific knitting techniques- usually the more basic ones. I really hate cabling with Peaches and Cream, for example. It's a great yarn, but the lack of elasticity is difficult to work with. But that's not the yarn I intended to talk about.

This yarn has become one of my very favorites over the last couple years:

This is The Unique Sheep's Sushi Sock yarn.

This is a wool/bamboo/nylon blend. Besides the colors that Laura and Kelly can put on it (the picture is of the remnant of my Bombadil sock), this is a really yummy yarn. It is soft and smooshy, which I really like. It has just the right amount of elasticity, and no scratchiness (which I notice in a lot of wools, as I am pretty sensitive to animal fibers). It has great stitch definition and a lovely sheen that I have found common to bamboo and bamboo blend yarn. I love that little bit of shine. You know how little kids are? So attracted to the shiny. I don't think I ever outgrew that. (Does any woman?)

I use this yarn a lot. It is truly one of my favorite sock yarns. I love it so much that I designed a pair of socks specifically for me with it - even though I'll only be able to wear them for a few hrs at a time because the wool content starts bothering me after a while. For those few hours, I will thoroughly enjoy those socks. So very warm and soft.

This is Cascade Fixation. My picture really doesn't show it very well, follow the link to really see what it looks like.

I have made a couple pairs of socks for myself with this. It's a nice yarn and also has great stitch definition. However, it is a lot more difficult to knit with than a lot of yarns I've used. Maybe it would work better in a different project than socks, I haven't tried yet. It's a more difficult yarn to use because of the elastic content. It's nice to have the elasticity in cotton- but it's a lot. It's a bit like knitting with an elastic band. If you are trying to knit tight enough to make something to last- like a sock- it is uncomfortable. It's great for texture stitches, knit and purl, but I wouldn't want to work a lot of increases, decreases or cables with it. That's limiting. I do think I would feel differently if I tried it with larger needles and a much looser gauge, but then it would be harder to regulate the elasticity, and I'd probably wind up with a wonky gauge because some stitches would be so much tighter than others.

The first pair of socks I made with this yarn, I had for 3 years. I used them so hard! I washed and dried them with the rest of the laundry, and as I really only had 4 pairs of socks for 1.5 of those 3 years, those first blue Fixation socks got worked very very hard. I finally ripped out the afterthought heel accidentally. At that point, I darned them right into the trash can. They really weren't worth trying to mend.

The 2nd pair of socks I made with the red Fixation in the picture, I like a lot better. The construction is better- I actually designed a sock rather than just playing around and knitting myself a quick pair. I've had them for probably 6 months. Yesterday, a strand gave out in the toe. I really think it was just a weak strand. This yarn is pretty tough. I did mend it, it was worth it this time. But I'll stop throwing them in the dryer.

Maybe I need to be more careful with my handknits.

It was very difficult to decide which yarns to really talk about. I try to use as many different yarns as I possibly can, and I have become a whole lot more opinionated about yarn than I was when I first started knitting. I wasn't too worried about what kind of yarn I used when I first picked up needles. Now I confess, I'm much pickier. But I'll try any yarn at least once quite gladly; and change my favorites almost as often as I change my socks.
What is your favorite yarn of the moment?

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