Inevitable

Sigh.  I have knit two curls, two sizable curls on straight needles with no problems at all.  I just bunched the stitches up (and eventually whacked a rubber band around the fabric to keep it smooshed together).  It worked perfectly.

But that’s just not going to work for this one.  The yarn is both astonishing fluffy and hideously delicate, and it just won’t take being smooshed too much.  Stitches are popping off both ends of the needles, and I’m pretty sure if I tried to rubber band it, the band would chew right through the fabric like a chainsaw.

too many stitchesSo I did the unthinkable.  I actually bought circular needles.  I feel dirty.

i bought circsAnd of course, this pair had scuffed up tips, which I only realized after I transferred all several hundred stitches over.  So I’ve moved them back to straights and am waiting for the new needle to arrive.  Then we’ll see if I can actually bring myself to knit on circs.  I expect I’m going to whine.  A lot.

Edit: The second pair of addis also arrived with scuffed tips, so I switched to ChiaoGoo red lace needle and am having much better luck with that.

 

Point

I distinctly remember, back when I was a new knitter, wondering why on earth people had so many knitting needles.  I could understand having different sizes.  Though I secretly suspected that you could probably make size 2 act like size 1 if you just pulled extra tight or like size 3 if you just kept your yarn a bit loose…I mean how much difference could a half a millimeter really make?  (Hint, new knitters, if you’re reading this, the answer is ‘a lot.’  Half a millimeter makes a lot of difference.  Save yourself the headache and be smarter than I was.)  But I truly could not understand why anyone would have more than one set of needles of the same size.

But the more I knit, the more convinced I became that needles were hugely important.  The texture matters.  The tips matter.  The shape matters.  Sometimes even the color matters.  So when I heard about the new FlipStix from addi, I pretty much had to try them out (erm, and it seemed important to try them in 3 sizes…for science you understand).

DSC_1360The idea is kind of genius.  DPNs with one pointy tip and one blunt tip so you can use whichever end is the best fit for the yarn and project you’re working on.

I totally love the idea, and addis are always marvelous quality.  I adore aluminum needles because they are light and comfortable in your hands, and these have the perfect amount of grip in the finish, grabby enough to hold the yarn but slick enough not to slow you down.  But there are a few tweaks I wish I could make.

The first and most important is the points themselves.  Take a look at the pointy and blunt ends of the 1.5s .

DSC_1351There isn’t really as much difference between the two as I’d like.  The blunt isn’t too far off what I’d pick for a blunt tip if I had my very own magic wand.  But the pointy end isn’t really terribly pointy at all.  It’s more what I’d consider normal.  To be fair, I like a very pointy needle.  For reference, the stiletto point on my signature arts needles is almost as pointy as I’d like.  But since the difference between the pointy and blunt ends is sort of the whole point of these needles, I’d expect it to be a bit more dramatic.  As it is, it was pretty hard to tell if I was using the blunt end or the pointy end.

My other concern is the colors.  I love the idea of a set of differently colored needles.  But I wish they’d chosen a more distinct range of colors.  You get a light and a dark blue, a light and a dark yellow, and a red.  If they’d gone with red, orange, green, blue, purple I’d be delighted.  I’d probably buy a bunch just for the color (I’m a sucker for rainbows, shameful but true).  But the two blue, two yellow, and red thing just feels odd.

So, as much as I was excited by the idea, I have to admit I’m sort of bummed by the execution.  I love the weight and the finish.  And if the pointy end were pointier and the colors a bit more differentiated, I’d buy a zillion of them.  But as it is, I don’t think I’ll find myself needing any more.

How about you guys?  Have you tried the FlipStix?  Do you have strong opinions about needle tips?  Know of anyone else doing double tips or different colored needles within a set?  Is my perfect needle lurking out there somewhere waiting for me?  Because I think it’s probably best for all of us if I avoid trying to make my own…

Commerce

Last time we chatted about the critters of the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival.  This time, let’s talk about the loot.  Now, I’m normally rather restrained at these events.  I just don’t go through much yarn (and when I do knit something, I like it to be in a yarn I can use for a pattern, and that imposes a whole new set of constraints on my shopping).  But I did find a few goodies.

The first is some long, wooden dpns.  I used to think I didn’t care for wooden dpns (and I still don’t like them at small sizes).  But then, when I was at the Japanese dollar store in San Francisco, I learned the error of my ways.  Really long (like 14 inches) dpns are amazing for hats and cowls and just about anything else.  The only thing I don’t like about them is they’re hard to find.

Until now.

DSC_0951One of the stands at the fair had them (plus shorter ones, plus crochet hooks, plus regular needles…plenty of good stuff to be had).  It took every bit of my self restraint not to just get a set in every size.  I somehow managed to limit myself to just one set of 7s, 8s, and 9s.

They’re from Twin Birch Products, and the only thing that kept me from buying them all was the reassurance that I could get more on their website if I found I needed them.  I’m sharing the link with you only on the condition that you promise to leave some for me and not buy them all for yourself.

Now I also bought a bit of yarn too, but here the story is a bit more complicated.  First, let’s see the pretty.

DSC_0948Beautiful, aren’t they?  That top one is a 80/20 targhee silk blend in a lovely dk weight that will be perfect for thick socks.  And the bottom one is a corridale fingering weight with one of the prettiest dye jobs I’ve ever seen.  I suspect it will become some cuffs and a cowl.  They’re both absolutely lovely.

And they smell.

Not like sheep (which I would understand), or vinegar (that’s cool too), but like strong perfume or incense.  At the fiber festival (outside, in a stiff breeze, with the scents of critters and food vendors in the air), it was noticeable but subtle.  Once I got them home, it was a punch in the face.  There is no way I could work with the yarn in that state.

I tried emailing the address on the card to ask if they had any suggestions (or if I could replace it with unscented yarn), and my email bounced.  Then I tried going to the website listed on the card, and it’s down.  So I turned to twitter (and got lots of helpful suggestions).

I tried hanging them in the sunshine for a day or so.  No luck.  I tried washing them with my favorite wool wash.  No luck.  I tried a soak in vinegar, then a few more in wool wash.  That took care of one of them and helped the other, so I’ve not given up hope.  But really, it’s turned from ‘yarn I was really excited about and totally wanted to cast on’ to ‘huh, I wonder if this can be salvaged or if it’s a total waste of time and money.’

Now I realize I’m maybe too picky.  I hate almost all scented things and have a rather enthusiastic sense of smell.  So I thought I’d ask you guys.  How do you feel about scented yarn?  Have you ever gotten rid of or stopped buying a particular yarn because of the way they smell (I have actually stopped using one company’s yarns because they put a scent on them, and it means I can’t comfortably work with them or wear the things made from them)?  Do you have any other suggestions to get the scent out?

I really want to use this yarn, it’s beautiful, I just need to find a way to fix it first!

Yarn Report

Perhaps not surprisingly, we somehow managed to slip into a few yarn stores on our trip this past weekend. Imagine that.  Shocking I know.

Our first stop was the Cultured Purl in Erie, PA (what, it was on the way…more or less).  It was the first time I had seen Sweet Georgia yarns in a store.  Luckily, I have quite a bit of SG sitting around here, so I was able to grab something new.  I picked up two skeins of Filigran by Zitron in what seems to be collor 1603 (such an evocative name).  This is a single ply laceweight.  I haven’t the slightest idea what I’m going to do with it, so (just to be safe) I got two.  I’m calling it the next step on my quest to explore non-sock options.

Next was Wooly Minded in Corning, NY.  Somehow, through great self restraint, I managed not to buy any yarn.  Don’t worry, I bought needles instead.  I am always on the lookout for new needles.  I like my needles light weight, pointy, and stiff.  Plastic and wooden needles don’t work for me.  I had a bunch of KP needles, but they are a bit heavy and they tarnish badly when I use them.  My favorites are my Sig Arts, but they are a bit expensive (totally worth it, just hard to get as many sets as I like to have on hand).  Kollage square needles are a good alternative, though I find they sometimes start feeling a bit sharp on my fingers if I’ve been knitting a long time.  At Wooly Minded, I saw something new, stainless steel needles by Chiao Goo.  So far I know that they are light, fairly pointy, and pleasantly rigid.  I haven’t used them yet, but I’m planning on it and will report back when I do.

The final stop was Finger Lakes Fiber in Watkins Glen, NY.  I’d actually been here before, but they’ve moved since we were last in town.  The new space is lovely and very comfortable.  The selection was great.  I picked up two old favorites, Casbah by Handmaiden in what I think is the color Nova Scotia, and Nichole by Schaefer in the color Dian Fossey.  These are two of my go to sock yarns and I’m always happy to work with them again.

Not a bad little haul for a weekend trip!