Tag Archive | shawl knitting

Yak Yarn! A review

When I think of fiber for knitting, obviously wool is the first to come to mind. Then silk, alpaca, cotton, nylon, acrylic, bamboo…there are so many options! But I confess that I had never thought about knitting with yak fiber. So when I was given the chance to review the Lhasa Wilderness from Bijou Basin Ranch, and I saw that it’s 75% Tibetan Yak and 25% bamboo, I thought it would be a great way to broaden my horizons, and maybe yours too!

I’d heard of Bijou Basin Ranch before, but never knew that it’s a small family-owned yak ranch in Colorado. I mean…yak? For yarn? Who knew?? Not me, anyway! They have registered, full-blooded Tibetan yaks and they harvest their coats once a year. I had to google “Tibetan yak” to see what they look like, and they are impressive animals!

Anyway, enough about animals: BBR supports other small businesses by using indie dye houses for their yarns. I chose a colorway called Fantasy, dyed by Colorful Eclectic, and I was so excited when my package arrived! It was beautifully put together with several extra goodies, including a mobius scarf pattern, a handy To-Do list, a sticker (which I immediately put on my Ikea knitting cart) and a pretty stitch marker. The presentation made a great first impression. To me, it shows that they really appreciate their customers.

The colors were lighter than I was expecting, based on the photos on the website. I thought the pink would be a darker fuschia; overall it seemed a bit watered down from the colors I saw online. But I know that colors can vary with hand-dyed yarn, and can look different in person than online. Plus, it is still beautiful, and so soft! I don’t know what I was expecting from yak, but it felt very much like a premium cotton, only even softer. It’s very smooth, feels silky running through my fingers. I’m guessing the bamboo is what reminds me of cotton, and the yak provides that delicious silky softness.

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Though they generously sent me a pattern, I chose a shawl/cowl pattern that I knew I’d wear more often called the Lace Eyelet Cowl. It calls for fingering weight, and while Ravelry lists the Lhasa Wilderness as Sport, it’s definitely a light sport and can be substituted for fingering without much trouble. My 250-yard skein was plenty of yarn and the knitting sailed by without a hitch. The yarn knits a bit like cotton, so it did sometimes split more easily than wool, and there’s less give when you’re working lace like k2tog, but neither hindered my knitting at all. And then it was done, and I washed it and pinned it out, and…BAM. Amazing! 

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The lace opened up so beautifully; is it fair to say it bloomed? And you know how cotton and silk yarns have a wonderful drape? This is the same! It lays perfectly, and is nicely lightweight and breathable. Plus, I think it will hold its blocking really well too, so it won’t need much attention as long as I keep it clean.

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In a nutshell, this is wonderful shawl yarn. Though it feels like a strong, durable yarn, I wouldn’t use it for socks or garments because of its similarities to cotton (less stretch) and because it’s hand wash/dry flat. But I would absolutely make more lace shawls, and they have a wide variety of solids, semi-solids and variegated colors to choose from. The $22 price tag is more than reasonable, in my opinion, especially when you can get a gorgeous project from just one skein.

What do you think? Ready to try some yak??

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Thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and Bijou Basin Ranch, who generously sent me one skein of Lhasa Wilderness (retail value $22) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

Moving forward

Thanks for all the kind words and suggestions on my shawl dilemma! As several people suggested, I decided to frog the lace section and start it over with a contrasting color. I have a cream in my stash that will be quite lovely with the green. Last night I threaded the needle through the last row of stockinette (or so I thought) and started frogging the lace. Of course once the lace was gone, I didn’t exactly have one row of stitches on my needle, but it was simple enough to go through and fix that. Tedious and time-consuming, but simple. With that done, I was ready to pick up with my cream and start the lace section anew.

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I love it! I think it’s going to be a perfect Christmas shawl this way, maybe worn with a red sweater, or is that too much?

Also this morning, I made a quick trip to the craft store for felt and safety eyes so I can make this baby sloth. Found the felt easily enough, but can you believe they don’t carry safety eyes?? Craziness. It’s not for a baby, so I can substitute tiny buttons and it will be fine. Still, I couldn’t just buy one 40 cent sheet of felt, could I? Plus all the yarn was on sale! Plus I stumbled across this new jean yarn and it’s awesome, even if it is acrylic.

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I may have bought enough to make this sweater. (And for only $21!!) I know, the pattern is DK and the yarn is worsted, and I’m going to have to swatch and do math and all that. I’m okay with that! I can swatch sometimes, when I have to.

Speaking of swatching, the crochet hat that I struggled with is done. It seemed to grow a little bit in washing but I’m crossing my fingers that it will fit. It is pretty, at least! It’s the Ski Lodge Beanie and you can see my Ravelry notes here.

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I’ve discovered the best part about getting an extra hour today is not an extra hour of sleep (I have three dogs, are you kidding me?) but an extra hour of knitting!

What would you do?

Okay, so I’m test knitting a shawl. I like the shawl; it’s a pretty pattern and it looks very nice in the yarn I chose.

 

 

BUT. I ran out of yarn. I still have two and a half repeats of the lace pattern and I’m down to 4 grams of yarn, just enough for the bind off. I thought about binding off early, so I put the stitches on waste yarn, and I don’t think it’s long enough. I don’t want to spend $25 buying another skein of the green, so what now? I have a few options:

  • Continue with a contrasting color or coordinating variegated
  • Frog and reknit with a different size needle (But what size?? My gauge is right!)
  • Reknit in a different yarn that I have more of
  • Throw it in the corner and forget it about it

So tell me, what would you do??

 

Two of a Kind

I have two shawl projects on my needles, one fingering weight and one sport weight. One is garter stitch and one is stockinette. But both started with a few stitches and a garter tab, and increased six stitches every two rows to just over 260 stitches. And both seemed to take FOREVER. At first it was relaxing, just la-di-da knitting along, but then it became very OMG am I there yet?? Well! After this weekend, I am there on both of them!

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Now I get to move on to the fun lace sections! The top is my test knit, so no pattern to share yet, but the yarn is Araucania Huasco. The bottom is Late Harvest in the new Manos del Uruguay Feliz yarn, color Wildflowers.

I was outside photographing a different project and took the time to snap a few photos of the dogs too. Jack may be my favorite but Duncan is so photogenic and handsome!

Grace didn’t stand still long enough for a good photo, and Jack…well, here’s Jack.

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After a couple of hours outside, we’re all happy to chill on the couches for a while. I wonder how much lace I can get done tonight?

Testing, Testing

I have my selfish knitting, my commissioned knitting, my review knitting, and now I have test knitting! It’s kind of cool how each type feels kind of different, and I enjoy each one for different reasons. But my selfish knitting has definitely fallen by the wayside thanks to all this knitting with deadlines. I’ve finished my commissions, I only have one review project in the works, and I have my two test projects. And one test is almost done!

This Paddington Station sock just needs a toe, which I should be able to finish tonight, and then I can pass on my notes and let the second sock wait until I have more selfish knitting time.

My other test knit is newer, a shawl for Under the Olive Tree Knits. I found Jem on Instagram and have been following her for ages, and her designs are gorgeous. Even though I wasn’t sure I had the time, I really wanted to test one of her shawls. I haven’t gotten to the really fun lace section yet, but I adore the top edge already with the slipped stitches and big yarnovers. As soon as the sock is done, this project moves to the top of the list.

The yarn for this one is Araucania Huasco in a divine dark green.

The only downside to all this knitting is that I’m pretty sure I won’t have much time for gift knitting this year. Sure hope my family isn’t expecting anything!

Delicious Yarns Review: Yum!

A couple of months ago, I was offered the opportunity to review Delicious Yarns‘ newest offering, their pairings of two complementary colors. I was going to skip this one, since I had so much going on, but of course I had to take a peek at the yarn. Oops! That first glimpse of the pink and orange sealed the deal: I needed to knit those yarns!

 

The first impression was charming, with that cute ribbon around the skeins and the tags like nutrition labels. Then I was impressed by how vivid and saturated the colors are; they’re gorgeous. I chose Pairing 1, and while the site doesn’t specify which colors are in each pairing, these colors are Raspberry Swirl and Burnt Orange Frosting. I also received the pattern for the Piece of Cake shawl, designed specifically for these pairings. I love the jagged teeth and that lace section the best!

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The pairings are available in Fingering, Sport, and Worsted. I chose the fingering since I’m all about shawls these days. The colors make this a perfect fit for my wardrobe. The yarn is crisp and smooth, making it a pleasant knitting experience and giving good stitch definition too. It has a little bit of spring to it, so the drape is a bit more firm, if that makes sense.

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The yarn is 100% superwash merino, hand-dyed in California, and each color is designed to create different patterning when knitted or crocheted. I especially liked watching the Raspberry Swirl shift from dark pink to light pink to white and back again. There are short sections where you work two rows of each color to blend the colors. That plus the short row sections make for a nifty effect when you stand back and look at it, almost wavy. It makes me think of candy, for sure!

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I only have two small caveats. One: as the tag warns they might, the yarns definitely bled when I blocked the shawl. They recommend steam blocking if you’re concerned about bleeding but I wanted to open the lace aggressively. Fortunately it didn’t seem to affect the white tones, but I’ll handle it carefully in the future. And two: the pattern had a couple of small errors. I was able to work past them pretty easily, but they did make me stop and think and scratch my head for a little bit. Still, I liked the yarn well enough that next I’d love to try their Speckles Chunky!

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The colors were absolutely the best thing about this project for me, and they have so many other delicious colors on their website too. Plus I can’t help but be enchanted with the “delicious” theme and the idea that each skein is one marvelous sweet treat! The fingering runs around $31 for 450 yards, making this comparable to many of the other high-end, small-dyer yarns I buy, and the high quality is comparable too. I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn!

If you’re tempted to partake, you can use the code DYBK2018 for 10% off all online orders through the end of November. And if you sign up for their newsletter here, you’ll get two free patterns plus a “sweet surprise” within a few weeks of signing up.

A very special thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and Delicious Yarns, who generously sent me 1 pairing (2 skeins) of Superwash Merino ($61) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

“Progress” on my Shawl

I have been working on my Mermaid shawl for a few weeks now, sporadically. The last photo I shared was this one, though I’d made it a few more rows after taking this:

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Now, please, allow me to show off the progress:

Isn’t it impressive? (heavy sarcasm there, you can hear it, I’m sure.) Sighhhh. I had just figured out how I wanted to split up the five colors, instead of using six like the pattern calls for, and on my next row I checked my stitch count and it was WAY off. Like more than 30 stitches too many. ARGH. My conclusion is that I cast on too many (maybe 462 instead of 426?) and there was no choice but to frog and start over. Silver lining: I was only 11 rows in and I feel confident in my stitch count this time. Should be smooth sailing now!