Category Archives: Fiber Fun

Ravelry lunch date at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival

I always enjoy talking to people in real life situations. As much as I love reading and writing and conversing with others online, nothing compares with the subtle hand and facial gestures we all subconsciously make and implicitly understand. That being said, I got to meet up with some fellow Ravelers this weekend at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival. So, HiMyNameIsPurple, me (LadyDanio), samie1914, scf1270 and junebug2285 met up in the hotel lobby where this pretty picture below was taken. We had a quick lunch date in the middle of a busy Saturday and it was wonderful getting to know everyone in real life.

Sam (pictured in the pink top) and I (with the ginormous Mini Mania Scarf) met up first. Unbeknownst to me, she had just sent me a Rav message, and I was in the middle of reading a text from Lindsay (pictured in the purple and grey scarf), so we had a hilarious who’s-on-first conversation at the beginning! Once we figured out who we each were, everyone else arrived. We headed off to the hotel bar, which was serving a buffet.

Sam and Heather (in the blue) had just come out of the festival, so they showed off all of their goodies, which included some dynamite SpaceCadet Creations yarns and a handturned wooden nostepinne for ball winding. Lunch was tons of fun as we got to know each other. We discovered that most of us knew the same people from similar knit groups in the area and I think I have been roped into joining them for an evening! 😉

Since Sam and Heather had already shopped and were heading out, they were so kind as to sneak their $15 handtags to Lindsay and I so that we could slip into the festival for a few minutes without having to pay. Lindsay had been there the day before, but hadn’t been able to stay because her toddler is going through the terrible twos, and so she kindly gave me a grand tour so I didn’t waste time (yes, I had the booths I wanted to see mapped out). I think we were only there for 20 minutes, but I definitely plopped down a bunch of money on yarns!

Of course I stopped by SpaceCadet to see the dyer, Stephanie, who’s a friend of mine, and stumbled into friend and fellow designer Sara Bench, aka CelticQueen, who was the Knitty Surprise design feature for their winter issue. Her pattern Love Actually (is all around) is an absolutely adorable heart-patterned cowl.

Then I headed over to Highland Alpaca, whose yarns I love so much that I began their Ravelry database listings several years ago and try to update them whenever I see them at a new show. I was running out of time but I hit Blue Heron Yarns to tell the dyer about my favorite yarn of hers, Blue Heron Silk Merino, which I have in two different colorways. I wear the Hayworth Shawlette that is made out of that ALL THE TIME. It’s my go-to scarf for both indoors and stylish wearing in light winter weather. The dyer confessed that she loves that yarn to death as well, so much so that she keeps a private stock for her own dyeing purposes! But she let it slip that if you contact her personally she’ll do a custom order for you. If you’ve been looking for some high-end silk merino sportweight that is really fab, you should get in touch with her and ask. She also sometimes dyes it on a whim, and there were some skeins she had in kits, so you may be able to get your hands on it that way.

We had wrapped up the day by 1:30 p.m. and were heading out. I think I could have sat and talked for another hour with everyone but we’d just run out of time! It was great seeing everyone and great meeting in real life. Next time I’ll be out and about will be the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this May. Maybe you’ll see me there!


Gallery Walk: More favorite Mini Mania projects!

As I have mentioned before, I love looking through the project pages on Ravelry and seeing what other people’s interpretations of the same patterns are. I decided it was time for another gallery walk through the Mini Mania project gallery! Just like my first gallery walk, below are nine different projects that caught my eye for one reason or another.  Enjoy!

I love lupes2’s version of the Mini Mania scarf! She shows how gorgeous the linen stitch effect can look in a color palette that only uses only a few colors.
EarthenKnit goes beautifully pastel with this Easter egg styled confection of a scarf. The pink and turquoise in it really makes it pop and I love seeing the nubbly texture of the purl side in this photograph.
Minabear says this scarf she knit saved her sanity during her first semester at grad school. Her creative idea to make a ruffle at one end was achieved by knitting 2 rows in garter, then on the right side k2 and yo to the end, thereby increasing her number of stitches by a third to make a sweet, feminine, ruffly bit of fabric at the end. The best part? Ruffles use up loads of yarn!
karebearbw made a lovely, dark-colored scarf in the blue-purple range, using a splash of orange her and there to mix it up a bit. She knit her scarf on size 8 needles to make her fabric less dense. This is a great thing to do if you are a tight knitter.
Hey, who said dogs can’t get into the action too! I love the look on MadMartiKnits cocker spaniel’s face – clearly he is used to being tortured as a decorative object. Marti’s scarf is a lovely collection of bright, happy colors.
Peacerebel didn’t like changing colors in every row, she she made sure to knit at least three rows in one color before making the shift. This resulted in a scarf that has a gentle transition and creates a great striped effect.
Mushroom’s fall-colored scarf is perfect for wrapping around your neck before heading out to jump in the leaves! She tied off the fringe in groups of five to create a braided edge and did a great job – I love the color combinations!
What do you do when you have too many sock yarn minis? You make a Mini Mania scarf! soletluna said she knit this drapey scarf because she couldn’t wear her Beekeepers Quilt quite as easily! Now that she has this scarf, the same beautiful colors can go everywhere with her.
Bakergirljenn is my last one of the evening, and the sentiment behind it is enough to make you tear up. Her scarf is not only gorgeous, but it was a high school graduation gift for her daughter, who helped her dye 6 of the yarns used in it when she was still in middle school! What a lovely heirloom.

Cast On Baby!

Happy Friday! Enjoy this awesome original music video by the Knitknackers, a knitting group from the Knitknack yarn shop in Maplewood, New Jersey. This made my day, and I hope you like it too. This is set to the tune of singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s song  Call Me Maybe.

Hey, I’ve got cashmere, and this crazy, but here’s some needles, so cast on baby!

Belated November Stash Peek

Maybe we’ll just backdate this and then no one will notice that I left this hanging and forgot to publish it before December. Right? Right?!

shuffles feet

Soooo… I’ve neglected my stash for a while, and consequently haven’t flashed any of you since the summer. Wait, that sounds…I’m going with it. The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson has made me slap-happy. I think I hit a point at the end of August of being so stash-happy that nothing I bought or acquired retained my interest for long, and the few things I did get weren’t very exciting stash additions, like extra yarn for a sweater. Yes, like a child with too many toys, I hit Yarn Overload.

However, I’ve firmly exited my yarn coma, as shown by my ridiculous Black Friday purchases from Eat.Sleep.Knit. Let’s just say that when I fall off the wagon I fall hard. BUT – this post is not about the largess of my new stash acquisitions, but rather, a story about the unsung heroes of my stash. That’s right, I decided it wasn’t fair to exclude the semi-boring yarns from a Stash Peek just because they didn’t sparkle or shimmer or smell like unicorn farts when you squeeze them too much. I’ll save the smelly ones for December.

In August, I purchased a bunch of ONline Supersocke, mainly for the purposes of making miniskeins. But one skein just called my name, and I couldn’t bear the idea of chopping it up. I know it has the romantic name “Canadian Color” and the colorway is cleverly named  “1287” like it’s your old high school locker, but the glorious colors in this self-striping bit of magical deliciousness totally make up for the German’s stunted writing creativity.

ONline Supersocke 100 Canadian Color in 1287

After all, it’s important to note that sometimes, yarns that are super-soft and magically delicious just tend to get holey faster (nope, still haven’t darned those). I’m so very impressed with the sturdiness and beauty of ONline’s line of sock yarns. This color is gorgeous, it looks great on my feet, the yarn is never too fat for my shoes and doesn’t knit up weird, and it is just a standard-bearer for a great pair of socks you aren’t afraid to run around the house in!  This is a star sock yarn that often doesn’t get enough lovin’, and I definitely invite you to do just that with them.

They couldn't have called it The Rainbow Connection or something like that?

I confess I’ve got a little obsession going on with cotton. It’s ridiculous, since we get great cotton weather for 1/4th of the year, but I love love high quality cotton yarns. My cotton bin is full up on silliness indeed. My favorite cotton yarn, above them all, is Araucania Nature Cotton and Araucania Patagonia Nature Cotton (the variegated version of the former). Since September, I’ve amassed a great collection of multiple colors of this yarn. I haven’t a clue what I’ll do with a ton of single skeins of colored cotton, but honestly, who cares! It’s amazing yarn, and cotton is getting more and more expensive so I’d better buy it while I can. I’ve used it to make fabulous housewarming gifts in the past, so I’m sure I’ll find a use for it again. Let me just show you the cotton and you’ll see why I love it:

Araucania Nature Cotton in 22, Bright Green

Araucania Patagonia Nature Cotton in 233, Coral Combo

Araucania Nature Cotton in 54, Dark Teal

I could make this post just an ode to cotton, but it’s very cold and it feels like winter and quite frankly I just need a good, hot shot of wool in my diet. Enter the king of them all, Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash. I have a funny story about Cascade. Early in my knitting days, when I was young and inexperienced and thought that a single skein of yarn for $8 was horribly expensive and precious, I touched Cascade and turned my nose up at it. Cascade was not nice to feel at all and I was not a fan of the Peruvian Highland wool. Then came Ravelry, and my self-exploration into the concept of fiber. I vividly remember standing in a secondhand shop and discovering, to my excitement, that I could discern what fiber something was made of just by feeling it with my fingers! Last year I stopped at a yarn store with my best friend and touched the wall of Cascade. I whipped my head around, eyes wide, and said, “It’s soft! I like it!” Much like the appreciation of a fine wine takes some time, so too does loving wool. You’ve come a long way, baby.

Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in 823

Cascade 220 Superwash has come a long way too. It’s the same amazing 220 worsted but with machine washing capabilities! Something I’m discovering I need more, since I accumulated a lifetime’s supply of exotic yarn and then remembered that I really hate doing laundry. Oops. The little beauty I got this November is the first of what I hope are many skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash – I’m on a collect-them-all route, and sort of dream of a big, comfy superwash throw made out them.

Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in 823

Ok, thanks for playing the Stash Peek game with me this month! I’ll give you a peek into my holiday shopping stash in a few weeks, so stay tuned for ridiculous and yummy yarns that have absolutely no purpose except as wall art or something pretty to fill your china cabinet with!

July 2011 Stash Peek!

That’s right, it’s the end of the month again so it’s time to show you what new goodies fell into my stash! First, I must warn you, I am participating in Stephen West’s Mystery KAL this August, and I’ve been on an epic hunt for grey yarn. EPIC. I have been seriously buying up all of the grey yarn known to mankind that is the right color, yardage, weight, etc. My pile is growing absurd. And there are still more skeins of the way that might be my perfect match (eyeroll). I recommend that you check my destash page soon, and you might seen some pretty grey rejects hanging out there. Meanwhile, just look at this ridiculous pile:

Mountain of Grey Yarns

Those are not the new yarns I am showing off to you this month, oh no. The new yarns I am showing off to you are much cooler than the grey rejects. First up on the list, however, is, ironically, a grey yarn. But it stripey! And awesome! And it knits up so cool that I wanna make socks with it rightthisveryminute! The yarn in question is Patons Kroy Socks Ragg Shades in the colorway Blue Striped Ragg, or just Blue Striped. I really like Kroy Sock yarn – it makes a nice, strong-wearing pair of socks, it is pleasant to work with, they have some great striped and jacquard colorways, and the price point is unbeatable. This this colorway glorious or what?

And it knits up so nicely too! That’s what really made me cave, I think. It sort of reminds me of those sock monkeys from your childhood. I know the picture is hard to see on the ballband, but this simple stockinette sock pattern is what made me shell out $10 on the spot for these two skeins:

Patons Kroy Socks Ragg Shades in Blue Striped Ragg

The next yarn I want to show off a bit are these adorable wee little Habu Textiles Silk Roving skeins. Habu, a Japanese company, cracks me up, because they package all of their yarns in such tiny little balls of yarn that you can fit in the palm of your hand. These skeinlets (because come on, at 14 grams per ball they are basically skeinlets) are a luscious blend of wool and silk fingering weight. I think they are calling the yarn “roving” because this is a single ply. Either way, I love the way luxury comes in such tiny packages over at Habu.

Habu Textiles A-112 1/5 Silk Roving in Rosemary

The last thing I have to show off from my stash isn’t a yarn at all, but a gorgeous handmade batt by Inspiration Fibers, a fellow Phattie. Called Clover, this wool batt is made up of a combination Bluefaced Leicester, Tunis, Finn, alpaca and mohair fibers in bright green, natural grey, white, orange and yellow. It’s truly a medley of color, and I can’t wait to have someone spin it up for me (because I cannot spin for the life of me).

Inspiration Fibers Luxury Batt in Clover, image courtesy Inspiration Fibers

Getting “Huffy” Over Milk Fiber: German Designer Claims She Invented It

Anke Domaske, image courtesy QMilk

My ears have been burning all day over the latest drama in the fashion world. The Huffington Post reported today that a German fashion designer, Anke Domaske, is claiming to have invented milk fiber. Luckily, they had my heavily researched blog post to take down the ludicrous claims of Mademoiselle Chi-Chi.

Now, to give Anke Domaske some credit here, she does have a background in biology as well as fashion design. Her milk fiber is being created in a factory right in Germany and she says that her and her team worked for years on the formula perfecting how to turn sour milk into fabric.

So the way her company processes and makes fabric out of milk could slightly differ from the processes outlined in all of the public scientific articles I’ve read. Or perhaps she just wanted to reinvent the wheel, so she created the exact same product from scratch, instead of getting the recipe from one of the many mills in China I referenced in my last article.

But to claim that you invented milk fiber in the last five years or so and to boost that your product is brand new and innovative is just absurd, especially considering humans have had the ability to make products from the proteins in milk since the Ancient Egyptians. And as for fabric made from milk itself? Well, maybe the fashion world considers off-the-rack, mass-produced clothing déclassé, but really, all of those vintage dresses from the 1930s and 40s is all the proof you need that milk fiber has been around long before Anke came on the scene, and the many websites selling milk fiber and fabric products takes us right up to the present.

Anke apparently told the BBC in a radio interview that her product was all-natural and eco-friendly because she doesn’t use chemicals to make it, blend it with AN, and she only uses milk that is being “thrown away,” as opposed to owning her own herd of dairy cows. I’m not sure how she can get away with not using any chemicals at all, since she is turning a liquid into a solid, nor do I understand how she could make her products strong enough without introducing a blend, since this was the problem with milk clothing in the first place, but then, I’m not a chemist.

As for Anke? She says that she wants to make clothing out of milk fiber the next big thing, and thinks everyone should be wearing milk fabrics in the future. Nice dream, Anke. I really doubt that she is going to find enough sour milk just being “tossed out” to make her fabric. The reason milk fiber isn’t widespread? Because it takes take about 100 pounds of skim milk to make 3 pounds of milk fiber.  Chew on that cud.

June 2011 Stash Peek!

Yarn glorious yarn! It’s the end of June and it’s time for another stash peek! It’s been a while so I bet you are all dying to see what I have accumulated lately. Well, let me tell you, I’ve got some real pretties I’m sifting through here.  It’s almost hard to pick! Let’s start with the last to arrive first.

As you may know, I went on a little business trip this month and had a blast. I met loads of yarnies and designers, picked up some fun button swag, and squished a good many yarns in inappropriate manners. The best thing, though, far above all, was that I got a green skein of cashmere yarn!!! (Ahem, sorry about the excessive exclamation points. I really love that yarn.) The yarn in question is Mountain Colors Jeannette in Green Apple, and it is truly divine. The DK weight yarn is a blend of cashmere and cultivated silk, and it’s so freaking soft I have no clue how those women over at Mountain Colors dyed it without felting it! Seriously, this stuff is decadent, and I’m so pleased to own some.

The coolest thing about this yarn is how they came up with the name. If you check out the Mountain Colors website, a bunch of their stuff is given nice but sorta basic names like “Weaver’s Wool” and “4/8s Wool.” You get the idea. But this yarn they decided to name after someone specific – a very important woman, in fact. From their Ravelry page:

“We named this yarn after a very important woman in Montana’s state history, Jeannette Rankin. She was the first woman in the country elected to US Congress in 1916, 4 years before women in our nation were given the right to vote. She was very active in the Suffrage Movement and working for women’s rights. She was a peace activist and was the only member of congress to vote again WWI. When we saw how lovely and graceful this cashmere silk was we immediately thought of Jeannette.”

I just think that is so neat. I love having yarn named after someone who made a difference – it just makes it all the more special to me.

Mountain Colors Jeannette in Green Apple

Now, I apologize for repeating myself here, because I know I showed you new Manos yarn I’d gotten last month too, but come on! It’s Manos. And I fell down and found some yarn that is just OMGMUSTHAVE so I actually bought it and paid full price (cue gasps of shock). The yarn is Manos del Uruguay Maxima.

Don’t be fooled by the colorway name here, because this is identical to Wildflowers in Wool Clasica. The only difference is that this is just a merino worsted weight, not an exotic handspun like Wool Clasica is. But when I say “just”, I don’t mean “just”, not really. Because this yarn is GORGEOUS. It’s super soft and squishy and divine with a whopping 218 yards AND it comes in all of your favorite Manos colors! What’s not to love?

Manos del Uruguay Maxima in Meltaway Mint

The third and last yarn to talk to you about this month is sort of exciting for me. I got my first GothSocks! I’m not huge into the stripey black-color-black dyeing craze that is going on right now (nothing personal, just don’t care for big fat stripes), so I’ve never bothered to stalk Rainy Days and Wooly Dogs before. However, earlier this month she had a sneak update that I just happened to be online during, and, intrigued, I fell into her site. And I was hooked. I got myself a wonderfully named Snow White referenced colorway in her Asphodel base called Poisoned Apple. YUM.

Rainy Days & Wooly Dogs Gothling Asphodel in Poisoned Apple

Then the yarn I’ve been dying to acquire, her Absinthe colorway, came up in a destash in the Oleander base, so I got both in the mail at the same time! I’m really thrilled – both are technically Gothlings, which simply means that they are not her stripeys, but I’m totally cool and happy with that. And I love them to pieces. Check it!

Rainy Days & Wooly Dogs Gothling Oleander in Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Ok, that’s all, folks, so thanks for playing in my stash with me this month!

The Felt Collection

Get your Felting On! That’s right, I’ve done it – FELTED stitch markers are here at Exchanging Fire. These balls of fun are just endlessly amusing to me. You have to go check them out!

The Felt Collection at Exchanging Fire

Here’s a little background on why I’ve created felted stitch markers. First off, I get a lot of comments and thank yous from customers who are thrilled that I’m offering larger-sized stitch markers. How frustrating is it to be working on a complicated cabling project with size 11 needles and not have the appropriate sizes in your stitch marker tin?! I feel ya, trust me. I’m happy to cater to big-boned needlers because I think that sometimes in the current crafting world, where lace and sock yarns rule the day, big stitches get thrown by the wayside.

That being said, I sometimes feel like my larger stitch markers are bottom-heavy. Get a bunch of them together and they bow under their combined weight. Add in heavy yarn, big chunky needles and suddenly you need a suitcase on wheels just to cart your project around! Ok, ok, I exaggerate, but you get the point. Sometimes you just want something light and free. Enter these gorgeous multi-colored felted stitch markers. They are super lightweight and squishy, and float on the needles like puffs of colorful clouds. The felted balls are all made by hand out of dyed wools and hand on silver plated reclaimed rings that work on needles up to a size 17 US. Perfect.

April/May 2011 Stash Peek

As usual, it’s the end of April, and I find myself a lying liar with three new yarns to share with you. Actually, I’d recommend not looking in my stash on Ravelry, because you will see a LOT more than three new yarns. I know! I’m so ashamed. 😉 And, since I missed my April deadline and this is now May, I’m going to lump these two months together and share four different yarns with all of you.

The first yarn I want to talk about is Black Trillium Fibre Studio‘s gorgeous Trinity Sock in Herbs and Spices. This yarn is an absolutely divine blend of merino, nylon and cashmere, and when I saw this one-of-a-kind colorway in her shop in April during her blowout Twitter sale, I knew it had to come home with me. There’s a reason that Black Trillium has over 1,2,00 sales in her Etsy shop – she’s doing an amazing job. Her colors are rich and lush and have that particular semi-solid appeal with subtle hue variations that create pops of unexpected color without pooling. In essence, the perfect sock yarn.

Black Trillium Fibre Studio Trinity Sock

The second yarn I got this month came to me through an unexpected means – a competition over at the Fairmount Fibers blog. Fairmount Fibers is the distributor of Manos del Uruguay’s yarns and patterns, and they were having a colorway name contest. I said their pink colorway reminded me of Cherry Blossoms, and they picked me! Here are all of the new colorways and their names:

Manos del Uruguay Spring 2011 Colorway Contest, courtesy Fairmount Fibers, Ltd.

My prize for being one of the winning colorway namers was my choice of a skein of yarn, and boy did that thrill me. A you well know, my love affair with Manos yarns is unparalleled, so a free skein Wool Clasica made me feel yippy-skippy-dee-do. I decided to go with a color I haven’t had the chance to try yet, Mermaid, and OH MY LORD I did not choose wrong. Just look at this gorgeousness. I want to paper my walls with pictures of Manos.

Manos del Uruguary Wool Clasica in Mermaid

Next up is a yarn I found in a sweet little destash for a song. Castle Fibers Castle’s Royal Sock is nice and squishy, but what really shines here are the colors. I don’t know what it is, but once it started turning spring-like outside, I got this weird craving for greens with shots of pretty rosebud pink in them. Green and pink, green and pink, green and pink. I’m sure by June I’ll be f-ing tired of green and pink, but for now, I cannot get enough of it. I’m even wearing pink right now!

Er, anyways, I’ve found that the Castle Fibers dye job of this Central Park colorway is really lovely – the variety of tonal qualities in her greens range from chartreuse to emerald to hunter, with the pink shades adding that bright variety I’m in love with. The dyer currently doesn’t seem to be selling her yarns in her shop on Etsy, so I’d check out some destashes on Ravelry if you are interested in trying her yarns out.

Castle Fibers Castle's Royal Sock

My last yarn just arrived yesterday, and opening up my package from Maiden Yarn and Fiber was like unwrapping the best treat all spring. Considering how many yarns slip through my fingers, I was beyond impressed with her presentation. She shipped my stuff Priority and outer box was all cute and wrapped by this packaging supply place so it said “Packed for you by…” To top it off, inside, the yarn and fiber I had ordered from her was carefully wrapped in white tissue paper, with a single ribbon of navy blue artistically twining around it. In the center of the ribbon, a fine cream-colored tag that said “Maiden Yarn and Fiber” was mounted on a rich, crepe-like navy blue card. The effect made my jaw drop. And that was just the wrapping!

Her yarns, on the other hand, leaves you breathless. I purchased some Hand Dyed Meriboo from her with the enticing name of “Sea Glass.” And oh boy, this yarn is glorious. It’s a delicious blend of ocean blues and algae greens with shots of seaweed-colored browns for contrast. I eyed this yarn for weeks before succumbing to it’s siren call.

Maiden Yarn and Fiber Hand Dyed Meriboo in Sea Glass

Ok, I lied again. I want to share one more yarn with all of you. This may seem an odd choice, because it’s just one solid color and it’s not especially different or exciting, but it’s near and dear to my heart. I have finally gotten my hands on a skein of Ella Rae Bamboo Silk and I’m tickled green. This yarn belonged to my friend knittingale, and I coveted it like the green-eyed monster I am. A couple of years ago we’d both gotten prizes in a swap we were playing in, and while my prize was some random yarn of which I neither liked the color or base, while hers was this gorgeous, lush, grass green silk yarn that absolutely killed me.

Well, guess who got lucky! My friend swapped me the skein finally, and I know just how I’m going to use it. It’s going to be the most perfect Ruched Sleep Eye Mask ever. I am going to The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) for work this summer, and my beloved original sleep mask is sort of grody and not appropriate for showing off in public. Yes, even in a hotel room. So I’m going to make myself a new mask. This yarn will be perfect for the mask – I can tell just by feeling it, because it has a nice weight and smoothness from the bamboo, and the silk keeps it from being too slinky. Yummy.

Ok, thanks for letting me share with you during this combined spring “stash peek” session! I’ll be back in June for more yarny goodness and fun, I’m certain.