American Wool Series

Monday, January 26, 2015

Music Monday

"I'm So Tired" by Fugazi. This song is from the 1998 Fugazi documentary Instrument.

I don't know about you, but I could have used an extra day in my weekend.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

American Wool: Toots LeBlanc & Co

I've been thinking a lot about how to go about my American Wool resolution for this year and decided that it will be more educational for me (and maybe you) if I choose one company or yarn brand at a time and actually knit with their products. I'm still working on curating a master list to share with y'all since new purveyors of North American wool keep popping into my head. Just a heads up, it's getting to be a long list!

First up is Toots LeBlanc & Co. Toots is the first company I came into contact with in my knitting life that used North American wools and fibers in all of their yarns. The Toots yarn line is naturally colored and the array of shades is just breathtaking. This is a family-run operation and I was lucky enough to be at the Seattle Knitter's Guild many years ago when the owner came to talk about her company. This is what her website says:

"I have created unique woolen blend yarns with fiber from animals raised on small family farms in Washington, Oregon & Northern California. I have hand selected only the finest fleeces in order to create a luxurious fiber experience.  The yarns are listed below.  I hope that you enjoy working with these yarns be it for knitting, crochet, weaving or some other fiber passion.

Yarn Blends

  • Merino/Angora
  • Jacob/Alpaca
  • Jacob/Alpaca/Mohair
  • Blue-Faced Leicester/Pygora
No harsh soaps, chemicals or dyes were used in the processing of these yarns, and the colors are brought to you by the animals themselves. I hope that you enjoy the pleasure of working with these lush natural color blends."

I purchased a sweater quantity of Jacob/Alpaca sport weight yarn intending to knit Audrey in Unst, but subsequently decided I wanted that sweater in red. I pulled this yarn out of stash yesterday to swatch for a test knit (which I can't share until it's released, sorry!) and love knitting with it.

This yarn is a 2-ply consisting of 50% Jacob wool and 50% Alpaca. I can feel the lanolin in the yarn so my hands are super soft after knitting my swatch and it's also an indicator that the yarn is minimally processed, which I enjoy. According to The Knitter's Book of Wool by Clara Parkes, Jacob is a demiluster wool, meaning not very lustrous, with a soft hand that is suitable  for outerwear. In my opinion, the alpaca adds extra softness to this particular yarn and will make for a great cardigan. I'll post more about this yarn after I complete my project and can share pictures.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

FO: Thousand Kisses Socks

Way back in November, Little A asked me for a pair of socks and we looked at patterns on Ravelry discussing the merits of each pattern that she liked and then went stash diving. She has lots of ideas about color and how it works together so I was surprised and pleased when she chose a blue and grapefruit combination - my girl has panache!

The socks fell by the wayside as the holidays approached but I finally finished them up and gave them a nice steam. They're ready for little girl feet!

Pattern: Thousand Kisses Socks by Josie Mercier (free)
Yarns: Invictus Yarns Unafraid in Juicy (grapefruit); Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Oceana (blue)
Needles US #1 1/2 (2.5 mm) & US #1 (2.25mm) Addi Turbo
Mods: There is a discrepancy in the pattern between the Ravelry listing and the actual pattern on Petite Purls - Rav lists a 2.25mm needle and Petite Purls lists a 2.5mm needle. I was a bit worried that the colorwork band would be tough to get around Little A's heel so I split the difference and used a 2.5mm needle for the cuff and colorwork and then switched to a 2.25mm needle for the rest of the sock. I still have a ton of the Juicy color so we might end up with mother-daughter semi-matching socks at some point. And yes, you might notice a bit of sparkle in the grapefruit bits because there's stellina in the yarn! I've never knit with anything containing stellina so I was pleasantly surprised at the subtle sparkle.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wardrobe Architect 2015

One of my goals for this year is to sew and knit more of my wardrobe. The question that keeps popping up is how to go about this while having a cohesive wardrobe that works for my work life and home life. Theoretically, I should be able to look at what I own and just go from there, but I'm having some trouble separating the frosting (pretty, patterned pieces) from the cake (basic wardrobe building blocks) in order to figure out what needs to be made. I stumbled across the Coletterie 2015 Wardrobe Architect Challenge and decided that this was the perfect tool to help curate my wardrobe. 
One of my two OAL ensembles from last year.

I'll be working throughout the year to plan, sew, and knit my wardrobe and I hope you'll join me in creating a hand made wardrobe to the extent that you're able (or interested). I've decided on some of my own guidelines:
  • think about how to replace clothes when they wear out, if they need to replaced at all
  • define and curate my personal style
  • sew or knit garments or go to thrift/consignment stores rather than purchasing new

I'm exempting some items from this list: undergarments, tights, and shoes.  My hope for this project is to end the year with a mostly me-made wardrobe that fits my needs, showcases my personal style, and makes me happy. I hope you'll join me!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

WIP: Migee

Say hello to Migee. I started this wrap back in December but it languished a bit as I worked on a couple of last minute gifts and obligation knits. I got a sudden hankering for garter stitch the other day and rooted it out of my wip basket to work on.

The sample uses a Black Trillium Fibres Gradient Kit in the Pebble Sock base in the Smoke color but I just happened to have a gradient kit from the same dyer in the Water color. Realistically, I think I put this down for two reasons: 1) garter stitch isn't my favorite thing to knit 2) I wasn't sure what color to use as the contrast. My first impulse was to grab a bright green, but that immediately reads Seahawks to a lot of Seattleites (not my bag). I decided to go with a neutral and picked a long-languishing skein of Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply in the Oyster color out of my stash. The color is a light gray with beige undertones and will look great against all the shades of blue, not to mention my charcoal winter coat. I'm plugging right along now that I've reached the straight knitting section and it's the perfect thing to knit while watching movies.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Music Monday

"And She Was" from the Talking Heads 1985 album, Little Creatures.