Be forewarned, Dear Readers, that this week's blogging will contain a fair amount of knitting (and possibly crochet) related material. March 28th through April 3rd is the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. From the link:
What is Knitting and Crochet Blog Week?
This is a week of blogging for knitters and crocheters, where individual bloggers will all simultaneously post about the same topics over the course of seven days, so that for one week readers might be able to read from blog to blog and enjoy a community of bloggers all talking about elements of their craft in their own unique way.
If you wish to find participating bloggers, we've all been advised to use certain tags on our posts. What you would do is Google the codes for the different days; they're in purple below (or I suppose you could just Google the code minus the number for the day and get all the posts seeing as the only difference day to day is the number at the end of the code).
This is my first time participating; let's see how it goes. There are suggested topics for each day, but one needn't stick to them. I'll try to stick to them and see what it forces me to write.
Anyway, today's topic is A Tale of Two Yarns:
Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.
Although I've been knitting for, oh, I don't know, maybe 5 years (I should figure out when I started so I can claim my proper knitterly veteran status), I haven't used a very wide variety of yarns. I tend to knit purposefully, that is, I want the end result to be used, not just admired/displayed or only rarely worn/used, perhaps because it's difficult to launder it.
So my project choices have influenced my yarn choices. For example, the Multnomah Shawl made for my friend Stephanie was knit using Jojoland Melody Superwash because it's, well, superwash. Superwash means it can be washed in the machine. Stephanie has enough going on in her interesting life that she doesn't need a handwash-only shawl.
(Superwash wool items also often benefit from at least a short while in the dryer. I machine washed the shawl first, then put it in the dryer for just a few minutes before blocking it while still damp. Blocking allows interesting stitch patterns to be seen to their best advantage.)
For baby and children's items I always use washable yarn, whether wool or otherwise. For my friend Eileen's daughter, Cara, I knit a basket weave blanket using Plymouth Yarn's Oh My! in (I think) color #19 with two strands knit as one. That was necessary because I originally planned to knit one strand of the Oh My! with one strand of Plymouth's Heaven yarn, but I did not care for knitting with Heaven at all. It was -- alright, I'll say it if no one else will -- not a heavenly experience. (I've never been one to step away from a bad pun. Perhaps the worst puns are, indeed, the best puns.) Heaven:
I don't know if Heaven is technically a novelty/fun yarn, but it certainly wasn't fun to knit with, although I have to admit it was a novel experience. It's quite floofy, which makes it difficult to see where the core of the yarn is. It did feel nice against the skin so I would have continued with it except that, as I began knitting the blanket, you couldn't really see the Oh My! yarn because of all the floof of the Heaven yarn. So I ditched the Heaven yarn and knit the blanket in my beloved basketweave pattern with double strands of the Oh My! yarn.
That left me with a bunch of skeins of Heaven yarn. The Plymouth Yarn website offers a number of free patterns designed for use with their yarns. This included the easiest baby blanket pattern ever (other than plain garter stitch). Didn't care for that, though, because the pattern calls for yarnovers around the edge. Yarnovers produce intentional holes, so this would look like a very simple eyelet around the edge. Thing is, you couldn't see the edging because of the floof factor of the yarn.
I finally just gave that yarn away to a Needlecrafts Clubber who likes to knit baby stuff and is more familiar with that yarn.
So my first and only experience with fun/novelty yarn was negative. I've shied away from such yarns since, not simply because of this experience, but mainly because it doesn't suit what I want to knit. I can see myself using fun/novelty yarn in the future, perhaps more judiciously than as the main yarn in a project.
Now, as for a yarn I love...well, I don't know that I love these yarns, but I have been very happy with a couple of what I call 'workhorse' yarns: Plymouth Yarn Encore (most recently the Tweeds) and Cascade Yarn 128 Superwash. I've used the former, Tweed or otherwise, for a few projects. I've used the latter for less, but I consider the two yarns to be quite similar, based on my experience with them. I like them for their colorways, their superwash status, the way they feel against the skin, the way they wear through laundering and the way they feel to knit.
Some people have what I call 'yarn crushes' on certain brands/types of yarn, e.g., Malabrigo. Truth be told, some have love affairs with certain yarns. Yarns can get very pricey and it seems that, generally speaking, the pricier a yarn is, the less user-friendly it is. That is, the more expensive yarns require more care, such as hand washing. I would save such a project for a very special gift to an adult, one that they would use only on special occasions. And, as I've mentioned before, I like my projects to get use.
The closest I've come to a fancy pants yarn is two skeins of The Schaefer Yarn Company Laurel yarn in the Elizabeth Blackwell colorway (it's one of a series of colorways created for memorable women; can't seem to find this colorway on their website):
I purchased it at Finger Lakes Fibers in Watkins Glen, NY while visiting Kevin's parents. I like to check out yarn stores to see their different personalities, different offerings and especially to see local yarn. The Schaefer Yarn Company is local to them and produces 'luxury handpainted yarns'. Each skein was $42.95, which is approximately 4-5 times as much as I'd normally pay for yarn, but then again, I'm paying for normal, mass-produced yarn at those lower prices. It came with a choice of free patterns from Schaefer designed, of course, to use their yarns. I selected a simple short or maybe it's more like a 3/4 sleeve sweater.
That's been my only yarn extravagance in my burgeoning fiber arts experience. I expect my penchant for user friendly projects and my reluctance to accumulate a 'stash' (more on that another time) will discourage me from making too many fine yarn purchases. I must admit that I haven't been tempted very much. Finger Lakes Fibers runs an annual fiber tour and I've been thinking about participating in this fall's tour. If so, I'm sure I will be exposed to entirely too many fine yarns and I don't know how I'll hold out in the face of all that beautiful fiber.