Category Archives: Samplers

Be awesome instead. True story.

“When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True story.” Thank you, Barney Stinson.

I got a surprise today in the mail. It was a fabulous, wonderful, stupendous surprise, in the form of a skein of yarn! It came from Genevieve of Turtlepurl Yarns, who I know from Ravelry. She’s a sweet woman, and said she sent me the yarn “just ’cause you’re so awesome.” As Barney Stinson might say, “Sa-weet.”

Turtlepurl Yarns Big Turtle Toes in Harvest Moon

I am, in truthfulness, a little flabbergasted and feeling very much blessed by this out-of-the-blue gift. So much so that I decided to do my first ever yarn review! It has occurred to me recently that while the infamous Knitter’s Review website is a great resource, it’s only useful for large company yarns. What about those smaller, indie brands that want a chance to shine? I play with a lot of yarn, so why not review it while I play? onward.

Turtlepurl’s Big Turtle Toes is called so because it comes in an extra-large skein, weighing in at a massive 115 grams (that’s slightly over 4 oz., for those doing the math). It has great yardage – at 425 yards I could practically knit myself knee socks, and it’s also very strong, with 25% nylon blended with the 75% superwash merino. As someone who lives in fear of holes in her handknit socks, nylon is the magic word for me. The base is a 3-ply fingering weight with what I’d call a “normal” twist – not overly tight nor loose. It’s soft with some bounce and strength – you can feel just enough nylon in the yarn to give you the confidence to run over carpet with a pair of socks knit from this.

Turtlepurl Yarns Big Turtle Toes in Harvest Moon - Closeup

The hand-dyed colors are where it’s at for Turtlepurl’s yarn. This colorway, aptly named Harvest Moon, is just lovely. With it’s lush colors of salmon, burgundy, eggplant, apricot, gold and chocolate running through the skein, it makes me salivate for some warm apple cider and dream of jumping in the largest pile of browning, brightly-colored fall leaves ever.

I decided to knit up a sample of this lovely yarn – I have, after all, enough yarn for knee socks so stealing a wee bit from the skein isn’t too much of a hardship. This swatch is stockinette with a nice border of seed stitch (just because I love seed stitch), knit on size 1.5 US needles. Why 1.5? Well, because I might just be knitting a pair of socks with that needle size and this yarn. No promises, though. I still haven’t finished my first pair of socks! I just absolutely love the color changes in this swatch. This is my favorite hand-dyed combination – semi-solid with just enough of an extra kick of color to make the colorway shine.

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An epic cat’s paw lace sampler (and review thereof)

Well, tonight I watched the Count of Monte Cristo (2002 version) and knit myself a handy-dandy lace sampler, featuring the ubiquitous cat’s paw lace stitch, which apparently can be made out of anything and everything (stitch-wise). Or just about. I only chose to look up and knit eight variations of the pattern, so this sampler can be considered expansive but certainly not all-encompassing. For the fibery freaks out there, this sampler was knit using KnitPicks Telemark in the Drift colorway on a nice pair of vintage size 4 US 10″ aluminum needles.

Cat's Paw Lace Sampler

The top two stitches (which were the last two I knit, naturally) both feature a k2togtbl stitch. The left one is from Jennifer Jones’ blog,  The Knit Monster, and has a stitch called a double decrease, which I’d never done before. The double dec was interesting in general, as it creates a very straight bar running through the center between the yarnover. However, for the purposes of the cat’s paw motif itself, I thought it made the yarnovers below it look uneven.

The right one is Elizabeth Lovick’s version, from her website Northern Lace, which has, in addition to the k2togtbl, a k3tog in place of the double dec. I think this stitch, while it created an even-looking design, was not my favorite. The k2togtbl made one side look a bit “wonky” (there’s your techy term for the night) and the k3tog was quite simply, just a pain to do.

The bottom six cat’s paws were all knit directly from the chart compiled by Wendy Knits, as I have cited previously:

Courtesy Wendy Knits

The top two motifs on the chart, as well as the bottom-most right one, all feature a sl1, k2tog, psso stitch between the final two yarnovers, and I rather like the way this stitch creates a nice roundness to the center knitted portion of the design. The top right one seemed to be most effective at this, in part because of the alternating k2tog and ssk stitches around the yarnovers. Every motif that used the mirror design of the ssk stitch (symbolized in this chart by the “\ ” mark leaning to the left) created a more round, even appearance in the final lace.

The second stitch down on the left side in the chart had a unique center yarnover, which I thought was interesting. However, it did not create the appearance of either a cat’s paw or a flower, but rather a simply honeycomb design. The two stitches that I found looked the most like cat’s paws were the bottom left design and the right motif in the second row up. The placement of the k2tog and ssk stitches caused the yarnovers to stretch toward the highest point, making the midle yarnovers so small they are almost nonexistant and creating very large holes at the base. They look like the arching, flexing claws of a cat.

Even as I begin to finish cataloguing and describing the different traditional cat’s paw lace motifs I’ve knit, I am seeing where I could have tried other variations of the stitch. For example, you could substitute the k3tog with any of the other patterns, or moved the k2tog to the other side of the “honeycomb”-looking one for a more even appearance. Really, the combinations and possibilities therein are nearly endless. I shall leave that for others to take on, however, as I am quite satisfied with my own results. Enjoy!