Sunday, December 31, 2017

Shepherd's Lamb Rambouillet

When we lived in California, I worked in a genetics lab. One of the PhD students was doing his research on cochineal insects, which live on cacti and are used as a natural red dye. That's the thing about PhD projects- they are so oddly specific, and I personally can't imagine devoting 6+ years of my life to something like that, but hey, I don't have a PhD. Anyway. I recently got the opportunity to review some yarn dyed with cochineal insects and I got excited because I saw many, many lab group presentations on these little things. It's always fun when my science background and my yarny worlds collide.

This is Shepherd's Lamb Rambouillet yarn, a DK weight 100% American Rambouillet wool yarn. It's dyed with indigo and cochineal, both of which are totally natural- a bonus if you aren't into chemicals. It's 180 yards/2 ounces and the suggested gauge is 6 sts/inch. This is my swatch (unblocked- see how it's not really rolling? Good firm stuff, that), which is 6 sts/inch (I used size 6/4mm needles), and I honestly think it's a little dense. Although, this is possibly the wooliest wool yarn I've ever knitted with, and wooly wools are good for firm, dense, hard-wearing things, so maybe knitting it at 6 sts/inch would be ideal for this yarn, depending on your plans for it. Anything at that gauge would be basically bulletproof, not to mention wind-, rain-, and weather-proof. I feel comfortable saying you could likely treat this yarn as a worsted and knit it at 5 sts/inch for a less firm fabric. That being said, I might knit a pair of simple mittens at 6 sts/inch and give them to my mom in South Dakota. We were just there over Christmas, and the high temperature a couple days was below zero, and with wind the "feel like" temps were in the negative teens. Um what.

The pooling makes me think you'd want to do a simpler pattern with this yarn- not too many cables, and probably not anything with openwork. Based on the wooliness I'd say just simple, basic, wear-all-the-time patterns like warm hats and mittens, maybe a solid sweater. I also bet it's excellent for felting, if you're into that!

Thanks to Shepherd's Lamb for the yarn. All opinions and rambling are my own.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Baby Sleep Sack

First project of "buy no supplies" January is done, and it's not even January yet.

The original idea was to buy no supplies, but now I'm kind of thinking that I'd like to just buy less overall. Example: the baby is getting too tall for her sleep sack, so I could pop onto Amazon and buy a new one, or I could use what I have and sew one up. So, I did! It was easy and pretty quick.

I traced her old sleep sack and added space all around, including a few inches at the bottom. I used some striped French terry that my mom gave me ages ago, found an appropriate zipper in the zipper box, and just serged it all together. At first I tried to finish the armholes with fold-over elastic but that was a hot mess, so I did thin bands of the terry then topstitched them to the seam allowance. Finished it with a tab and a plastic snap to keep the zipper up (I have, not joking, 24 colors of plastic snaps, and have used approximately three of them), and it's done. It's not perfect- my machine struggled a bit with the fabric- but I'm proud of myself nonetheless for following my new rules.

Next up: more bibs. "One size fits all" bibs are stupid, and that's mostly what we have, so quite a lot of food ends up on her outfit instead of her bib because the bib is too small. So I'm planning some larger bibs with snaps, not velcro, because we like to rip our bib off towards the end of a baby meal.

Friday, December 29, 2017

"Buy No Supplies" January

Story #1: When I was in college, I had no money (said all college kids, ever), but I still did arts and crafts projects and made these incredible, often 3-D cards for my then-long-distance boyfriend. I had oodles of creativity because I worked with what I had, and I was so good at transforming random things into amazing other things. I don't have that kind of creativity anymore, I don't think, and I miss it. I lost it when I got the means to buy what I wanted instead of having to come up with some way to make what I wanted.

Overflowing fabric and yarn closet. Those bins are for yarn. It's all spilling out of the closet into my husband's work space. Oops.

Story #2: As a stay-at-home mom, I'm often looking for something for the baby and I to go out and do- it gets lonely (and the days get long) when we stay at home all day while daddy is at work. Aside from necessary errands like getting groceries, the thing we most often go out to do is go to crafting stores like Joann and Michaels. Usually I'll go to get one small thing, like a zipper, and end up spending $50 on three yards of fabric, two zippers, a picture frame, some elastic, and a bottle of chalkboard paint. I started feeling guilty about this habit a few weeks ago, and also, my stash of crafting/sewing/knitting stuff no longer fits in its designated spaces, so it's time to make a change.

Big ole' bin of quilting fabric for all the quilts I don't make.

For the entire month of January, I'm planning to buy zero supplies. No yarn, no thread, certainly no fabric, no paint, no ribbon, nothing. I will make things from my stash and only from my stash. I'm hoping that this will a) help me stash down and clear some clutter, and b) spark some of the creativity I feel is missing. 

These are full, and there are three more like them. 

I already have some ideas for what I want to make in January. I'm also hoping to find gems that I've forgotten about- I think there's some laminated floral print in there somewhere that was meant for a rain jacket, and I know there are about 10 different large stripe knits, and I think I've got some gorgeous sock yarns I'd like to use. I'm serious about this- no cheating and buying thread or something. Either make do with what's here or make something else! Related to that, I'm hoping to tackle the pile of mending as well. Made do and mend, and DIY before you buy, amirite? I'm gonna go cross-stitch that and hang it on the wall. 1950s, here I come.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

But That Cashmere Tho

So, I ripped out the cashmere glove. It was too big, and I didn't like it. But now what to make with this yarn?? I really wanted to make something for myself before Christmas, but I'm not sure that will happen, so maybe I can make something during Christmas "break" (not really a break, as I'm not working out of the house anymore, we have a 9-month-old, and we'll be traveling, but whatever) and call it a compromise.

Here's a swatch with the yarn, which if you've forgotten is Filatura di Crosa Solocashmere, and it's 100% cashmere, which you could have guessed because "solo" and "cashmere." The only place I could find to buy it online is here, but I think that's only because it's a new yarn? White yarn is a little hard to photograph, so here are two different angles.

On the top of the swatch, I used size 4 needles, which is smaller than the size recommended on the label, but I love how dense and luxurious the fabric feels at this gauge. On the bottom, I used size 7 needles- the recommended size. At the larger gauge it's basically like a fluffy cloud and I bet a sweater knitted at that gauge would feel like heaven. The yarn has a slight halo, but there's still good stitch definition. Do I make something that goes around my neck? The yarn is certainly soft enough for next-to-skin wear (again, duh, cashmere). Or do I try again with gloves or maybe mittens?

My sister loves orange, so I was actually thinking that maybe I'll do something with the orange and cream together, like striped wrist warmers. But I dunno, that would be *awfully* generous of me, seeing as how this is cashmere...

Again, thanks to Filatura di Crosa for the yarn for review.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cashmere Gloves, or Maybe Not

Right now, the baby is totally happy sitting on the floor in her room, playing with toys. She doesn't crawl yet and she's perfectly stable, so I don't worry about toppling. I get to sit in the rocking chair and knit while she plays, and it's lovely. I don't think phase will last much longer because she's making motions like she wants to crawl, and then I'll never sit down again. But while she's still happy playing on the floor, I knit. I've gotten a ton of things made in playtime. It's awesome. My latest project is this cashmere glove, which if we're being honest is not great.

I'm using Filatura di Crosa Solocashmere, which is listed as a fingering weight 100% cashmere yarn. I don't think fingering is accurate for this yarn- depending on how dense you want the fabric to be it knits up at sport to DK weight gauge. The recommended needle size is 6 to 7 (4 to 4.5 mm) so maybe someone doesn't understand what "fingering" means?

I'm using my Anchors Aweigh glove pattern and making the second size, because according to my swatch my gauge was tighter than the pattern. The plan was that larger size + tighter gauge = the smaller size glove. That is not working. This glove is clearly too large in the hand and it's goofy. I keep thinking "clown glove" while I'm knitting so that's probably a sign that I need to cut my losses. I only have the tip of the middle finger and the cuff to go. Don't care, we're done here. Just to be clear, the issue here is a bad pattern/yarn combo. The pattern and yarn alone are great, but they don't want to be together, I don't think.

Sometimes with blog reviews, you get to pick the color and quantity of yarn you'd like, and sometimes you don't, and that's fine so long as you know about it. For this particular review, I asked for three balls of black because a) black gloves are classy as hell, and b) I thought (correctly) that I'd need more than one ball per glove to make a decent length cuff. Instead, I received two cream and one orange ball, but I was like whatever, I'm still making gloves because that was the original plan. I did a provisional cast on then went right into the thumb gusset part, because I wanted to use up every inch of one of the cream balls (which is 87 yards) for each glove. I was planning to knit the hand, then go back, undo the cast on, and knit the cuff down, using up all of the yarn. A good idea in theory.

The yarn is soooo soft. Duh, it's cashmere. It's a tiny bit splitty but really not bad. My only issue is the laddering. See here below, in the palm? I shifted around the dpns around every few rows, but no matter what I did the yarn laddered between dpns, then kept the ladder after I moved the needles around. Never experienced this before, but this is only my second 100% cashmere project, so maybe it's a cashmere thing? Anyone have ideas? Maybe it would fix itself with blocking.

But I'm going to rip this out and make something different. I finally admitted to myself this afternoon that I hate the way this is going. The hand is too big, and I can tell I wouldn't wear these. So now I'm not sure what I'll make with this yarn, but whatever it is it'll be luxurious, because cashmere.

Thank you to Filatura di Crosa for providing the yarn to me for a review. Opinions and rambling are my own as always.