Poppy, Poppy Everywhere!

It all started in December when the pattern launched.  As soon as I saw Alicia Plummer’s In Stillness sweater, I knew I wanted to knit it. Our life these days alternates between studying cozily at home or the library and gallivanting on field trips near and far so comfortable clothes are a must. Since I have a couple cardigans and most of my pullovers are fitted, I’d been really wanting to fill that big comfy pullover spot in my wardrobe for a while. Although I almost always wait a while to let the ideas steep a bit in my mind, this one I just purchased because I knew.

For a few weeks I had trolled for the right yarn. It requires a worsted weight yarn & I definitely wanted to stay in the superwash wool category because I wanted to maintain that drape you get with the superwash yarns. I looked at Madelinetosh Vintage. I looked at Malabrigo Rios. I looked at The Uncommon Thread Everyday Worsted used in the sample. But I kept coming back to Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran Weight. I’ve used TFA yarns in a few previous projects and I just find them to be an incredible value. The quality of the bases combined with the beauty of the colors always seems surprisingly affordable when compared with similar yarns. Usually I order directly from TFA via the website — service is always prompt and friendly, but this time I ordered through Eat. Sleep. Knit. just because they happened to have what I wanted in-stock and that was where I’d been browsing.

I hemmed and hawed a bit regarding color choice, as one does, but in the end I went with a color I’d used before…

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Poppy.

It’s a beautiful, rich true red. With the yarn requirements plus one skein (just in case), I was all set to begin.

And thus, began photo…

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After photo…

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After photo…

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After photo of red knitting.

Sometimes these photos include ninjas thanks to a super fun project bag from Stitched by JessaLu. I had one last coupon code left from a summer promotion/event she held in her Ravelry group and when I saw this fabric in her Facebook feed I decided that this bag would match my red sweater perfectly. I’m usually not into the novelty/cartoony fabrics all that much, but for whatever reason this one I love. And my kids think it’s awesome, so that’s a bonus, too.

So it’s been just a sea of red sweater on my Instagram feed and my #todayonmyneedles posts and just generally in my hands the past week. I was dividing time between a couple other projects up until a few days ago, but I’m at that point in the top-down sweater when I can feel how close I am to finishing up the body so it’s got my undivided attention. I have it in the back of my head that I’d like to have this done and washed and dried in time for Valentine’s Day weekend. I think that’s a long shot and I’m really just not in the mood to be rushing anything these days, but… well, I guess we shall see. At the very least, it guarantees that both you & I will be seeing a fair bit of Poppy for the time being.

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I have to say, I’m enjoying this knit immensely so I’m pretty darn ok with that. Poppy, Poppy everywhere? So be it!

One Outlandish Red

I’ve long admired the beautiful yarns of Bijou Basin Ranch. In fact, a while back while on vacation I picked up these lovely skeins of Bijou Bliss as a special treat.

So pretty in the natural brown yak/cormo blend, isn’t it?!

As you can imagine, when I heard that they were coming out with 22 brand new colors inspired by the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, I couldn’t wait to see them and pick out a couple to knit up. My selections from the Outlandish series…

20140704-113032-41432571.jpgThe amazing blue of Dinna Fash and the rich red of Fergus, both in the Himalayan Trail base which is 75% pure yak & 25% merino.

This month the wonderful folks at Bijou Basin Ranch are celebrating the launch of this awesome line with specials each week — hooray! This week the reds are highlighted and thus let me tell you a bit about my adventures with Fergus.

20140704-112803-41283499.jpgPerhaps one of the most notable aspects of this yarn is that it is incredibly soft & light. And it is darn warm, too! Billed as ‘warmer than wool & as soft as cashmere’, the yak/merino blend of Himalayan Trail is clearly a very special yarn and thus my 200yds of Fergus required a very special pattern. After a bit of deliberation and some consultation with a fellow knitter, I went with Alicia Plummer’s frais.

20140704-112802-41282508.jpgBoy am I happy with this choice! The stitch pattern is very subtle, especially in the fluffy Himayalan Trail, but it is just stunning.

20140704-112804-41284716.jpgI had the absolute best time knitting this. Most of it was spent outside with my feet up, watching my kiddos play. Life doesn’t get a whole lot sweeter than watching kids play (let’s selectively neglect to remember the refereeing that goes into this) & knitting a yarn as lovely as this.

20140704-112805-41285827.jpgIn the end, I had a scant 4grams left — that’s about 14yards. My goal was to use up as much of this special skein as possible. I would say this is a mission accomplished!

The result?

simpleA beautiful little cloche, dubbed by Mr Knitting Sarah as “one of the cutest hats” I’ve made.

me in fraiseHe said I couldn’t share that comment, but I am anyway. I think it’s pretty accurate. I just love it!

Soft and cozy and just as cute as can be and did you see that absolutely lovely color? And as I mentioned there are some sales going on this month — again hooray! — and this week Bijou Basin Ranch is offering 15% off Outlandish red group yarns – no coupon code is necessary as the prices are already adjusted in the online shop. Yes, it’s true! Two different bases are available, either the Himalayan Trail I’ve used here or Lhasa Wilderness, a yak/bamboo blend. What a great chance to try these beauties out!

Wondering about that what that blue skein became? Stay tuned!

For more info on this project, please see my Ravelry project page here.

SilverSpun: Because it Feels Good

Every once and a while I get to try some yarn that is special. Yarn that is wild in how unique it is. SilverSpun from Feed Good Yarn Company is just such a yarn. Cotton grown in North Carolina, spun with pure silver & a dash of Lycra in NC State’s Spin Lab, there really isn’t anything like SilverSpun. I mean, not only is this an American made yarn, it is spun with 11% pure silver. That’s so crazy cool.

On paper, the therapeutic properties of this cotton/silver/lycra yarn are impressive — silver kills bacteria and has excellent thermal properties, providing yarn that is especially comfortable & beneficial for those with diabetes, arthritis, and sensitive skin. For the tech-savvy, using SilverSpun in the fingertips of your gloves provides the conductivity necessary to use your touchscreens. In my hands, though, simply as a fiber artist, it was instantly clear that this yarn was special for more reasons than just those that look good on paper…

silverspun_mediumSilverSpun is an incredibly soft cotton and the Lycra provides much more stretch and memory than I am used to in cotton yarns. Curious to test out the therapeutic properties, I knew I wanted a project I could wear on my hands. That’s when I found Alicia Plummer’s Antiquity. According to the pattern, I would need 175yds to create the medium size that I needed to fit my hands — my one skein had 173yds. Convinced I had the right pattern, I opted to short the cuffs and length of the hand a little to be sure I wouldn’t run out of yarn. I ended up with about 50yds leftover so I could have been a bit more generous, but I’m actually quite a fan of my smaller interpretation.

top of hand2They are perfect for typing and for knitting…

palmAnd just so beautifully delicate.

single handThe fit is — in fact — really comfortable.

palm2And I just adore how the stitch pattern is translated in this yarn. I found Alicia Plummer’s Anitquity to be a superbly written pattern. The instructions were clear and easy to follow and — as I said — it just fits this yarn perfectly.

Working with the SilverSpun was as much of a treat as the finished project. I tend to be a little fussy when it comes to cotton yarns, but this fiber blend not only felt great in my hands it also didn’t split the way cotton yarns often can. In addition, I’m not really one to readily subscribe to such things, but I have to admit that this yarn certainly has a unique energy to it — truly unlike any yarn I’ve used or worn before. When I pick these mitts up initially they always feel cool to the touch, but they warm up quickly and they just… they feel good. At the end of the day, as knitters we can knit with SilverSpun because it is good for us. We can knit with SilverSpun to try something new & wild & different. Or, we can knit with SilverSpun simply because it feels good. Whatever your reason, you won’t be disappointed with this unique, lovely, beautiful yarn.

hand

For more details on this project, visit my Ravelry Project page here.