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.