Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Yarn Review: Because I can't knit right now

I have been banned from knitting. It's a self-inflicted ban, at the behest of my left elbow, which is currently suffering from an RSI. I haven't knitted since the pain started, and while I tried a little crochet, I soon realised that I twist my arm far too much to be allowed that either. Spinning seems to be ok in small amounts, but it still hurts three weeks later, so I'm going on a yarn-fast. I did make some interesting yarn this past week. I got a mixed bag of colours that included blues and purples, greens and yellows. One of the green/yellow colours was multicoloured with white, so that's where the white comes into this ball. I spun the different colours, then plied them all together. It's three plies, but measures up as more of a worsted weight. They're not colours I would wear, but the yarn will be nice to knit with (it's merino) and might be nice for one of the men in my life, or one of the women who's colour palette doesn't tend toward the blues and purples I usually buy.

Since I can't show you any of the things I've finished recently, I thought I would review a few of the yarns I have WIPs going with. Most of my yarns come from independent dyers, who take luxury fibres such as merino, silk, camel and cashmere and dye them amazing colours. While I like and appreciate cheaper yarns such as acrylics, I was drawn to the finer things for the first few years of yarn buying. Then, I found Sirdar Simply Recycled.

I fell in love. This stuff is half acrylic, half cotton, and is £2 a ball. It comes in a DK weight, and has a very generous 142 yards per 50 grams. It has enough cotton that it keeps the cotton characteristics, and the acrylic is a nice acrylic, unlike some of the horrible stuff you find in those big box stores (Michaels or Hobbycraft, for example.) While it is a little splitty, it's not so bad as some of the pure cotton or other plant fibres (bamboo, are you listening to me?) that I've worked with. It drapes nicely and is great for most temperatures. I've bought a bunch of it and worked with it enough to know that I will buy a bunch more. The only downside to this yarn is the fact that the colours are fairly limited. Sirdar, we want more colours!

The Natural Dye Studio has always been at the top of my list for yummy yarns. I like several of theirs, including their 100% silk laceweight and their BFL range. This review will be for their Angel, which is a mix of  alpaca, silk and cashmere. It's probably the softest yarn I've ever held, and the silk in it makes the colours more vivid than they would otherwise be, but not too bright. This yarn comes in laceweight, 5-ply and DK and is pretty standard for yardage, with 262 yards per 100 grams in the DK. What sells this yarn for me is the colour. The husband-wife team behind NDS do amazing work, and everything is environmentally friendly. They're based in the UK as well, so buying from them makes me feel like I'm being green.

My final yarn for this review is Sublime's Organic Merino DK. I find the idea of a wool yarn being organic a bit funny, but I guess it means that the sheep the fibre comes from eat only organic grass. This in turn is better for the sheep, so they produce nicer wool. That's the hypothesis, anyway. Awhile back, my LYS had a sale on it, and I got 10 skeins for a steal, then bought a few extra in anticipation of making a large wrap thing. I started on the wrap, and quickly found out that the yarn didn't suit it at all. Said wrap was all cables and the merino just kind of lost the cabling in a lot of fluff. It didn't look anywhere near what it should have. I ripped it back, and eventually decided to get the yarn out again for a cardigan. While I've had all kinds of trouble with the cardi, I do love the yarn. It's soft and warm and the colours are muted. It's a pleasure to work with. The yardage isn't as generous as the Sirdar,  at 113 yards per 100 grams. For some reason, I thought this was discontinued, but the Ravelry page says nothing about it, and no one else seems to think it is, so I'm going on the basis that it's still widely available.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

So far behind!

I know. I know. I haven't posted for aaages. That's mostly because I haven't really been up to much craft wise. I've had a lot of problems with pain getting in the way of the work, and have had far to many evenings distracted by writing for the play by email I'm involved with. Having not written for something like 2 years and thinking I was never going to be able to again, it's nice to find that lack of concentration, memory, and overall unhealthyness of my brain doesn't mean I can't write. I've been making up for lost time as a result.

Unfortunately, this means my Christmas knitting has fallen way behind schedule. In an effort to fix that sorry state of affairs, I've decided to crochet a few gifts instead of knitting them, and plan on buying some presents as well instead of making something for everyone in my family. With any luck, I'll get all the presents on my list finished, but only time will tell for certain.

First, a few ta-das! I made a few snoods for wearing as one of my larp characters. The setting for this larp is Regency England, with a smattering of fey and magic thrown in, as well as a bit of steampunk. As snoods were often worn during this time, I figured making a few would be nice and fun. I made a blue one first to go with the dress I had intended to wear as the character, and then at the event things happened that meant my character changed costume - and began to show a hidden side that I hadn't really thought out in character creation, so I made a black

one after the event to go with her new costume.
I'm very pleased with how they both turned out. The pattern is by Brigids Hearth and is in her blog. She is a fabulous designer, and I'm using her pattern for armwarmers to make gifts for my Mom and sister Laura, as they have both requested armwarmers. I've also made the armwarmers for myself.

In addition to knitting things for larp, I've also been working on a scarf for my Dad. I had no clue what I was going to make him, so when I decided to do some crocheted projects, I first looked around for something for him. I found this really easy pattern for a scarf, and had some yummy microfibre yarn that was in mannish colours, so I took hook to yarn and came out several days later with something quite nice. It was crocheted long way, and I wasn't happy with how long it was. I had intended to pick up the stitches on the short side and make it longer by adding a fancy end to the short ends, but I had trouble picking up the stitches and figuring out how to crochet them, and was tired of messing with it, so I simply fringed it instead. While I like how it looks and the colours, I wasn't happy with the yarn. It was extremely splitty and a pain to work with. I'm sure it wouldn't have been any easier trying to knit it. After I finished the scarf, I crocheted a Christmas ornament, as that's what my Grandma asked for as a birthday present. Her birthday is next week, so I had to get it done and in the mail asap.

Now I've just got to get cracking and knit as much as I can. I have to take frequent breaks because of the pain, but I still love knitting, so it's worth it.