I am, usually, quite restrained in the face of yarn.  I tend to think of trips to yarn stores as more research visits than shopping expeditions.  But when I stopped in at Yarn It & Haberdashery in Columbus, I sort of slipped.  I grabbed a few goodies.


DSC_5092That’s some Madeline Tosh (I can never resist their colors) and some Faeriegrl Yarns (which seems to be only available at Yarn It, but I liked the speckles too much to leave it behind).  And just in case that wasn’t enough, I found another new goody in the mail when I came home.

DSC_5097That restraint I can show in the face of yarn?  Totally doesn’t apply to stitch dictionaries.  I’m making it my personal goal to collect all of them.  I suspect this one will be lots of fun.


Every now and then I find a yarn that knows a special magic trick.  It somehow manages to be more than one color at once.  I don’t mean more than one color over the length of the yarn (that’s easy enough).  I mean more than one color at any given spot in the yarn.  Sort of like this.

DSC_4894 (This is surprisingly hard to show, so you can click to see a bigger version of the picture if you want to peer at it a bit more closely.)  See how it all seems to have a base color (whether that’s purple or blue or teal), but then there’s also a sort of secondary color (I read it as a very reddish purple, but accounts differ) that carries across all of it?  You can see it most on the sort of haze of fibers that stick up off the surface of the yarn.

DSC_4898You can see it even more clearly if you untwist the plies and look at them individually.  See how the primary color is sort of a lovely teal, but just at the edge of kinks (the spots that were on the outside of the strand when it was all twisted up) you can see just a tiny hint of that purple business?

It’s kind of magic.  I swear every time a yarn does this I end up loving it.  So two questions.  First, dyers, how the heck do you guys do that?  Do you dye the regular stuff first and then toss it back in to the haze color for a quick second go?  I’m terribly curious.

Second, do you guys know of any yarns that do this?  Skeinny Dipping does it sometimes, as does Blue Moon Fiber Arts.  But by far the most consistent one I’ve found is String Theory (and I think it’s part of why I love them, that’s their Caper Aran up there).  But there must be others.  And you guys have got to know way more yarn than I do so…point me towards it!


Oh yeah, I sort of bought some yarn while we were away.  Not too much (the soul of restraint, that’s me), but a bit.

DSC_1520First up, Tosh DK by Madelinetosh in the color Stargazing (which doesn’t show on their website, not sure if it’s a one off or discontinued).  It’s the brightest non-orange yarn in my stash and I will never in a million years be able to get an accurate reflection of the color of this yarn.  Let’s just say it’s blue enough it pretty much vibrates.  It is totally outside my normal gray with hints of green and beige color range, and I’m itching to do something fun with it.

I found the Tosh at Verb, and while I was there, I also picked up a skein of their Floating in Topological (that color is listed on their website, but the picture there is an olive green whereas my skein is much grayer with just the very slightest hint of sage).  I’m feeling the need for a lovely, slouchy hat, though there is enough yarn here that it could turn into socks if I change my mind.

A more likely candidate for socks is the Cricket by Anzula in Aspen that I picked up at ImagiKnit.  This has all the makings of a favorite fat sock yarn (80/20/10 content, nice and round, interesting color but will still show off stitches), and I have a feeling it may wander onto my needles fairly soon.

And of course, just to keep things from being too practical, I had to get one little indulgence skein.  The Sensai by Ito in the color Goat (total points for the color name by the way, that’s grand).  I haven’t the slightest idea what I’ll do with it, but it told me it simply had to follow me home, so I listened.

Admirable self control all around I think.  Now, let’s just see who gets on the needles first.  Do you guys think I’ll embrace the blue?  Or will it turn out to be a mistake?  And what is that fuzzy bit of business going to turn int?

More Indiscretion

When last I left you, it was Friday morning.  I’d visited A Verb for Keeping Warm the night before and just sort of casually mentioned that I was about to head out to another yarn shop later that morning.  The second yarn shop was ImagiKnit, and it was a delight.

Now, first things first, they had a wee stack of Curls sitting out on the table.  And I know it’s horribly tacky to admit it, but I confess that does always make me awfully happy to see that in a yarn shop.  I secretly suspect anyone else who writes books gets a little thrill when they see their work hanging out in shops, so I’ll try not to feel too bad about the little happy dance seeing them always causes.

DSC_1368But of course the real show stopper was the yarn.  Piles and piles of yarn, rooms full of the stuff!  If Verb was spare and streamlined, ImagiKnit was delightfully exuberant.

DSC_1374Those are actually pretty much my favorite ways to organize a yarn shop.  Either have only a tiny handful of lines and have them all be awesome, or have oodles and oodles of yarn and let me go on a treasure hunt.  I totally got to do both on this trip.

And yes, yes I did find treasures.  The yarn report will happen shortly, as soon as everything is out of the suitcase and I’m caught up enough on life to find my camera and computer again.  You’ll be proud, I actually bought yarn with colors (shocking, I know, but true).


You’ll have to forgive me.  I had all these grand plans.  While I was away I was going to take advantage of the pretty scenery to take oodles of sock pictures (seriously, I packed along socks in my carry on for maximum sock safety).  I was going to stumble across charming fiber animals (when I had my camera handy).  I was going to encounter nifty knitting-related stuff (also with camera to hand) in unexpected contexts and document it for you all.

But I haven’t.  Instead I’ve spent a fairly astonishing amount of time finding awesome restaurants, reading, just possibly napping, and generally relaxing.  Scandalous I know, but apparently necessary, as any time I tried to do something that looked more like what you might call work, I got hideously whiny and then stopped.

Though, in my defense, on the way to one of those awesome restaurants I did just happen to swing by a yarn shop.

DSC_1365Quite a lovely one at that.  Do you recognize it?  How about now?

DSC_1364Yup, that’s A Verb for Keeping Warm over in Oakland.  It’s not the biggest yarn shop in the world, but it does have one of the highest ‘I want that, and that, and yup, that one over there too’ ratings of any shop I’ve visited.  I swear about 95% of the yarn in that shop belongs in my stash.

And yes, yes I did happen to pick up a thing or two.  But I’m headed out to one more yarn shop this morning, and I want to see what happens to follow me home from there before I confess any more indiscretions.


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.

 Edit to add: So…I hate doing this, but I need to let you know about a problem with the needles. I bought several more sets through the website, and the sizing on them was wildly inaccurate.  Like a set of needles, all labeled as size 3 (3.25 mm) had needles in it that actually measured at size 2, size 2.5, size 3, size 4, and size 5.  I contacted the company and, after several weeks and a follow up email, they sent some replacements.  These were also unevenly sized.  Between all the sets I was able to piece together something I could more or less use.  But there were enough problems that I wouldn’t buy these unless I could check them ahead of time to make sure they were actually all the size it says on the label.  The needles themselves are lovely and smooth…just the sizing was not accurate.

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!


So, the stash toss had a variety of benefits.  First and foremost, it satisfied my ‘I am being overwhelmed by all my things and must throw them all away to reclaim any semblance of sanity’ urge (this urge falls upon me with alarming frequency).  Second, it made a whole lot of extra room in my closet.  And third, it allowed for some serious advance planning.

You know I’ve been bringing early patterns back out (Cataphyll and Louche are recent sock returns, and Plicate and Colophon are some of the returning accessories)?  Well I really want to get pretty much all of them reworked and re-released.  And one of the things I realized as I went through the stash was that I had a lot of eminently suitable yarn for just that project.  So I did a bit of plotting, and a bit of asking, and devised a plan.

DSC_0651Left to right that’s String Theory, Schaefer, Solstice, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Vice, Skein, and more Vice.  Each and every one of them is about to go off to a valiant, talented, and alarmingly attractive sample knitter who will turn them into yummy projects (it’s looking like Sybaritic, Scatterling, Graupel, Arkadiko, Carom, Calcareous, and Gramercy, for those of you looking for specific patterns to make a triumphant return).  Then they’ll come back to me for a photo shoot, and then go back to live happily ever after with their sample knitters.

I am ridiculously excited about this prospect.  I’ve been itching to get patterns back out in the world, and this is the way to do it.  And, there just might be more stash skeins paired up with each of these to use for prizes when the patterns come out, so I have a suspicion at least some of you are going to like this plan too!

So, if it were up to you, which one would come back out first?  Either which yarn calls to you or which old pattern are you waiting for me to hurry up and put back out?  I sort of want them all done and out tomorrow, but that poses some practical challenges.  But I promise I’ll do my best!


You know what this means don’t you?

stack(Well yes, yes it does mean my entire front yard is covered in a foot of snow and is a featureless, frigid whiteout of despair…but that’s not exactly what I had in mind…look at the yarn instead of the background.)  It means it’s almost photo shoot time.

The next photo shoot is in early April, and these are all the yarns I’ve used in it.  Running top to bottom we’ve got Bare Naked Wools, Vice, Quince, SweetGeorgia, Frog Tree, Phydeaux, Elemental Effects, Alchemy, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Manos, Uncommon Thread, Lorna’s Laces, Anzula, Shibui, and Mrs. Crosby.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some projects to block.  I think this one is going to be a ridiculous amount of fun.  Which one are you most curious to see more of?


You know those websites that show pictures of what’s inside other people’s fridges or purses or closets?  And you know how you’re always a tiny bit scandalized by something you see (how does anyone drink that much soda? Am I the only one with three chapsticks and no lipstick in my purse? Why am I not that tidy?).  I think the knitter’s equivalent must be your work basket.  Here’s mine.

basketWhat was that?  Why yes, yes that is all yarn for the gray curls.  And yes I do love them all.  And no, even in mid January, the gray is still not getting to me.  The real question is, what in there scandalizes you.  Or better yet, what’s in your knitting basket right now?

P.S. The needle organizer is by Zig Zag Stitches (one of the sock roll ones I think).  It’s awesome. I’ve had it since before I’ve been writing this blog, and it’s held up perfectly.  The basket is a dvd basket from Target.  It’s the perfect size (and it sits on a shelf on my end table and acts like a drawer…keeps the kittens totally out of it).


I need a ruling.  When does it go from ‘disgustingly premature’ to ‘perfectly reasonable’ to start blabbing excitedly about the next book.  It’s going to the printer in a little more than a week.  It will be out around Thanksgiving.  I’ve been totally focused on it for the last two weeks (making me a very tedious dinner companion I’m sure), and all I want to do is show you the projects.  But I’ve also been led to believe that one must maintain a certain level of mystery lest people be bored by the time it comes out.  Hence the need for a ruling.  But, while you ponder that, I’m going to to ahead and throw in a little blatant yarn flashing.

rainbowThese are the yarns for said book, and I’m taken with all of them.  There are great piles of marvelous new-to-me yarns (Fibre Company, Swans Island, Claudia Hand Painted Yarn, Elemental Affects, Baah, AnzulaCephalopod, Spud and Chloë, Blue Sky Alpacas), and lots of old favorites, too (Briar Rose, Plucky Knitter, Shibui, String Theory, Space Cadet).  I’ll be telling you about all of them in the coming weeks, but for now, a little yarn rainbow seemed like a lovely way to start the weekend.