Category Archives: The Designing Day

Classic Two Australian wool lace yarn from Kaalund Yarns

Kaalund Yarns Classic Two swatch in Hanging Vines patternOut of the 4 yarns I was sent to swatch for TNNA’s Great Wall of Yarn, two are from Australia. I posted yesterday about the Australian kid mohair yarn yesterday. Here is the other one — Kaalund Yarns Classic Two 100% Australian wool in the color Wisteria. This is a relatively fine 2-ply yarn hand-dyed in closely-toned touches of blues, purples and greens.

This Classic Two yarn arrived already wound into an overly tight ball. The compactness might be planned this way so that the balls stay neat and tidy on store shelves rather than possibly falling apart, but I am concerned that the yarn might be unduly stretched out. So the first thing I did was to rewind into a soft, cushy ball to let the yarn ‘breathe’ and rest for several days to restore some of its natural elasticity.

Both the yarn grist and color name worked on my subconscious mind to ‘tell me’ that this yarn wanted to be knitted in my pattern #A26 Hanging Vines Lace Stole. Using US 6 / 4mm needles, I knitted a 10″ by 10″ swatch (after blocking) using the 45-stitch Narrow Neck Scarf version of the pattern instructions.

I liked the way this yarn felt in the knitting. There was no tendency to split, and the stitches flowed easily. I do want to mention that the ball band indicates a 2.25mm needles (i.e. US 1), but I was using a US 6 since I was making a lacy accessory fabric, not a sweater-type fabric which would require a firmer hand.

After hand washing my swatch and laying flat to dry under the tension for lace blocking, the yarn remained soft and retained good stitch definition. The resulting fabric has good drape and feels silky — not at all like wool!

The ball band of Kaalund Yarns Classic Two indicates a 50g/356m put-up, so that should be enough for a good-sized scarf, smoke ring, etc! I did like this yarn (after it was re-wound), and since I have a good amount of yarn left after my swatch, I will be thinking about what else to knit later with the remaining yarn.

100% Kid Mohair Sample Swatch for GWOY

kid mohair swatchThe second of the new yarns I was sent to swatch for TNNA’s Great Wall of Yarn is Colinton Australian Angoras 100% Kid Mohair in natural white. The yarn ‘told me’ it wanted to be worked in one of my favorite reversible eyelet patterns based on HeartStrings pattern #A7 Reversible Lace Cables Scarf. I knitted a 6″ by 8″ swatch using the minimum repeat of the main section of this scarf pattern for an overall cast on width of 28 sts rather than the 48 sts of the fully-sized scarf.

This 100% Kid Mohair yarn was a soft caress as it ran through my fingers for knitting. The yarn is not highly brushed like so many mohair yarns on the market, but finely worsted spun with low halo into a substantial 2-ply coming in at 133 yards per ounce — not exactly lace weight, but because of the density of mohair gives a grist that is definitely on the much finer side of fingering weight. It also has a slightly uneven look to the plies similar to having been handspun. Not drastic, but just enough to give added character over the more common mechanically produced non-100% kid mohair yarns that are spun around a binder thread. After hand washing and laying flat to dry under the moderate tension for lace blocking, the yarn remained soft and with only a slight halo to retain good stitch definition.

The softness is such that I could see this yarn being used in a next-to-the-skin garment — assuming someone would want to knit a sweater on small needles. Even at the light weight of this yarn, however, it would definitely be a warm garment (especially for my south Louisiana climate!) I did make a 6″ swatch of plain stockinette on size 2 needles for a gauge of 7 stitches per inch which has a nice hand and stable fabric for a garment. I’ll post an article about what this swatch becomes later, lol.

There was not much more in the ball than this to work up as I was supplied with just 100 yards (22g). I am not sure if this will be the standard put-up of this new yarn (the yarn was merely labeled with a general business card hang tag for Colinton Australian Angoras listing Julie Parnes in Salem, OR as the distributor for inquiries) with hand-written information about the yarn on the back.

Although this yarn is not nearly as fine and luminous as the lace mohair I viewed in Kaethe Kliot’s vintage collection of European knit laces, it brought to mind when I had the distinct fortune to view those finely spun luminous mohair yarns of that era. In fact, I have had for some time now the finest 100% Kid Mohair fiber in my stash that I plan to hand spin into a special project. For those that don’t spin, or even someone like myself for whom my spinning wheels have been very lonely, this Colinton Angoras yarn could meantime become one of my favorites.

p.s. Do not be confused by the name Angoras. The fiber for this yarn, which is mohair, comes from the Angora Goat, not rabbit.

Great Wall of Yarn Samples – ShibuiKnits Sock yarn

In the holiday spirit, I began with the bright red yarn in my sample box of yarns sent to me for TNNA’s Great Wall of Yarn (GWOY). Knitting samples of new yarns and colors to be released at the next TNNA Show is just one of the many benefits in which Association of Knitwear Designers (AKD) members, such as I, can participate.Heart Sandal Socks

This is ShibuiKnits Sock, 100% Superwash Merino, 50g/191 yds(175m), color #1797. The color is subtle variegations of warm red tones. At the ShibuiKnits website, the color is described as Chinese Red (S1797) – Medium true red. The yarn feels very soft yet has a sturdy, defined 2-ply twist. Here it is, knit into a sandal style adaptation of my HeartStrings pattern #A36 Heart Socks.

This Heart Sandal Socks adaptation is

  • a shorter-legged sock with naturally scalloped cuff (this results from the bias structure of the lace heart pattern. I cast on 48 sts and started immediately with round 2 of Chart A in the original pattern instructions),
  • lace heart pattern brought down into the heel (because this area will not be covered up when worn with sandals), and
  • heart pattern ended sooner on the foot than the original (since the lower foot area is likely to be covered with a sandal strap).

I just used some of my old-time Boye aluminum size US 2 double point needles. Green, in this case, to carry out the holiday spirit, lol.

If you are making this adaptation, be sure to cast on very loosely so that the distance between stitches is adequate for the up-and-down shaping along the fancy edge. For tips, read my article Cast On for a Good Finish.

The original instructions were to decrease the gussets to a 54 stitch foot, and that is what I also used in this sandal sock version. The sock was originally designed this way because the lace heart pattern expands quite a bit compared to plain stockinette.

I am pleased with this Shibuiknits Sock yarn and how it worked up into this sandal sock. The feel of the yarn and stitch definition is very nice. When washing, there was no dye run-off either.

I happened to notice that one of our other AKD members, Dawn Brocco, had sampled for the same color in another of ShibuiKnits yarn – their 100% Shibuiknits Merino Kid. Stop by Dawn’s Life and Design Blog to see the cute mini red stocking cap she came up with.

Over the next few days I’ll post pictures and info on the other yarns and sample “swatches” I made. ‘Til then …

Off the needles and onto the needles …

Wisps of Smoke stitch detailJust off the needles and blocking now: A stitched model for a new design that I’ve titled “Wisps of Smoke Ring”. It combines the heavy drape of Tilli Tomas Rock Star and Plié silk yarns, the lightness and fluidity of lace, and the sparkle of beads. I really hate to part with this baby – very pleased with how it has turned out – but need to mail it off to Tilli Tomas this week for their photography session.

Schaefer Andrea Scarf WrapAnother just off the needles and to-be-blocked: A lace wrap in a new design technique that I will publish a pattern for that “reconstructs” the color sequences of hand-dyed variegated yarn; this one uses Schaefer Yarns Andrea 100% silk in the Elena Piscopia colorway. If you get the sense that I like silk, you aren’t wrong, lol.

Next to go on the needles: Project samples for a week long class titled ” A Winter Wonderland in Beads & Knitted Lace ” that I am teaching at John C. Campbell Folk School starting Dec 2. Yikes – that’s only a few days away. I really have to get crackin’ on these.

Have a good week! 

Wounded – Beware of sharp things trying to interfere with your knitting

… or when knitting is not quite as fun as it could be … 

I had the unfortunate experience last week when I cut one of the critical fingers that I use in usual knitting technique to achieve speed, as well as maintain control and gauge. It was a relatively deep gash on the index finger which I use a LOT in my knitting. What a downer. And especially because I was in the middle of making sample models for a book by Donna Druchunas about Dorothy Reade’s lace knitting. I am one of the contributors and will have 2 projects in this book based on Dorothy Reade’s #11 Offset Chevrons stitch pattern that I adapted for embellished beaded knitting. Not only did my finger hurt like h***, but I was really concerned that I would be able to maintain the gauge I had started out with. A bandaid didn’t help – that just got in the way more. But then I had to be very careful that I didn’t continue to pock the needle point into the gash in my finger – ouch!  

I persevered and fortunately I have models for both the hand warmers and socks completed now (and to gauge, yay!). They are on their way to Donna in the mail along with signed contract. Want a sneak-peek?

beaded-offset-chevrons-hand-warmers1.jpg

Here is one of the hand warmers made up in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock yarn. The socks are stunning, too, but I want to let Donna present that to you in her book. I hope you will look for the patterns for these hand warmers and the socks when the book comes out later next year.

My finger is feeling much better now and the gash is almost closed up. So it is onto the next deadline project, which is a beaded cowl/smoke ring for Tracy Robinson in her Tilli Tomas Rock Star and Plie Silk yarns. More on that later.