Reinvent + Antarktis

Quite a while ago I received this beautiful skein of yarn for review.

img_2346Ancient Arts YarnsReinvent is such a unique yarn. Made from reclaimed fibers, it’s a blend of 49% wool / 34% mohair / 11% nylon / 4% acrylic / 2% silk. In my hands, it felt very much like a BFL blend and while I briefly considered using it to make socks, eventually I landed on a shawl. To be exact, I chose Antarktis by Janina Kallio.

img_2444As soon as I started to knit it, the true beauty of the subtle variations in this purple — named ‘Kismet’ — came into full view.

img_2542-1Antarktis is a very fun, well-written pattern, but with as busy as my February and March wound up being, it took me a little longer than normal to knit it up. To be sure I didn’t accidentally add or subtract repeats, I used a row counter and took notes which I am not always so great at. So while I actually loved the knitting a great deal, I had to pick and choose when I pulled it out. I didn’t mind letting this knit last. The yarn was a joy to work with and the pattern — as I said — was great fun.

As is often the case in projects with openwork, the true fabulous-ness of the project came into full view during blocking. I will do almost anything to avoid using blocking wires because the patience to set them is something I tend to lack, but I would definitely recommend them for best results here. It’s so worth the time. Blocking wires in combination with Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers are ideal. Why am I making a fuss about it? Because the results are so worth it.

flatThis photo gives you an idea of the shape and shows you how beautifully the Reinvent holds that blocked shape. It’s phenomenal.

Now take a closer look with me.

det2And you can start to see that subtle color variation in the purple show through (don’t mind the white specs — it was snowing).

OK, now a little closer.

detAgain, pardon the white dots — if I had waited for a clear day with no snow or wind you might not see this until June. Look at how lovely the stitch definition & how rich the colors. It’s perfect.

Blocked out it’s a really lovely size overall, too.

onI love it wrapped around my neck. Note the snow pelting my right side in the photo some flakes leaving streaks as they flew, the 30mph wind blowing in my hair and the shawl. I don’t think it matters though. Antarktis still looks graceful and lovely even in the inclement weather. I think it does ‘windswept’ oh so well.

While I can’t rave enough about Antarktis, I have to say that Ancient Arts Yarns’ Reinvent really exceeded my expectations. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in knitting up a shawl. It’d be an especially good fit for shawls with lace elements as its really proven to be wonderful at holding its blocked shape and really showcasing openwork. With loads of colors to choose from, Reinvent should definitely be on all our short lists for shawl knitting this spring & summer.

Springtime in Wisconsin

I’m not positive, but I think that when normal people hear that there is a winter storm bearing down on their home they stay put. We are not normal people though and I’m beginning to suspect that Mr. Knitting Sarah views such events as a personal challenge. Instead of picking out some movies and holing up in our cozy house feeling like we can’t go anywhere, he is especially motivated to find the answer to the questions: “Where can we safely go for a fun day in terrible weather conditions?”

Earlier this week we had such an instance. The weather reports for my husband’s day off spanned anywhere from a foot of impending snow, to an ice storm, to sleet, to rain to raining ice pellets as our spot on this Earth seemed to be falling right on the line between freezing and not freezing. But… that meant that everything south of us would just be rainy… unless of course the weather system shifted south which is always possible. Alas, knowing I’d probably not be on board with his idea, my dear husband waited until 5:30am the day of to announce that we’d all be headed to the Chicago Field Museum for the day. It’s a favorite spot for the kiddos and he skillfully built it up as an opportunity for the kids to show me everything they’d learned on their last trip in October when I’d stayed home. We get in for free with our Milwaukee Public Museum membership so aside from the cost of the 6-hour round-trip drive, the inevitable incidentals, and the treacherousness of my generally grouchy demeanor when it comes to getting going unexpectedly in the early morning, it’s a relatively inexpensive day-trip for us that is a ‘WOW’ for the kids so I got cleaned up and out the door.

img_2656It was pretty worth it to get to experience this place through the wide eyes of my kids.

img_2637This cross-section of a conifer trunk from the Triassic period pretty much blew my mine…

img_2626As did the Dunkleosteus, a giant armored fish from the Late Devonian. And I’ll admit that it was pretty funny to see the reaction of the docent who, in the Carboniferous era display, asked my daughter what the giant millipede looked like. Instead of saying, “a giant millipede,” my girl chirped, “That’s an arthopleura.” Of course, she was correct.

img_2638I was surprised that Protoceratops was only about the size of a sheep. For some reason, I always envisioned them bigger. Thankfully my guide (my son) was very knowledgeable on the subject. He also wowed a docent who had a table of fossil replicas when he correctly identified a dino toe that was mixed in with teeth and claws. I never would have gotten that. I don’t know where these kids get their brains! I just try to keep up around here!

It had been many years since I last visited this museum, so it was very fun to have a refresher on so many aspects of science and culture. I had two favorite exhibits. First, Inside Ancient Egypt, simply because I have a real fascination with the culture. Most incredible, I thought, was the royal boat they had on display which belonged to  Middle Kingdom Pharaoh Sen-Wosret III.

img_2649There was not way to get a good photo, but seriously, this is a 4,000 year old boat. That’s not something you see everyday.

I also seriously loved the special exhibit, Lichens: The Coolest Things You’ve Never Heard Of. It was truly incredible. Perhaps funniest of all is that my hubby teases me from time to time because I often stop on our hikes to take photos of lichens. We agreed that I may have missed a true calling in lichenology, but as they say, hind-sight is 20-20.

img_2647For my friends who are into natural dyeing, I though this little tidbit was worth snapping a photo of and sharing. Who would think that grey lichen would produce such pretty colored yarn?

I looked, but wasn’t able to find any spinning or knitting displays, but I did find plenty of weaving.

img_2646This reminded me that to get started weaving I probably don’t need an expensive loom. If folks in Arizona & New Mexico in the 1900s can make this with little more than two sticks, and some pretty yarn, I can probably figure something simple out, too, should I want to try weaving.

Of course, with a 6-hour round-trip drive, I was able to make some excellent head-way with my Antarktis using the lovely Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts Reinvent in Kismet.

img_2657After settling in at home after our long day on the road, I was making great progress into the last repeat before the border. I should be done in no time!

It’s worth noting that despite the bad weather to the North our drive was almost entirely through rain only. The temps didn’t even dip below freezing until we were just a few miles from home. At our house, the ground was definitely covered with some slippery slush and the following day we did eventually end up getting a couple fresh inches of snow. This is spring in Wisconsin though and sometimes when the weather doesn’t cooperate you just have to get creative in how you face it.

img_2645Sometimes you just have to find your adventure farther afield.

A WIP Wednesday

Wednesdays are usually very busy family days for me so I rarely get to post up a standard WIP Wednesday like other bloggers do, but this week our schedule is a little different and I thought it’d be fun to participate and share my current works in progress.

First, on my needles I’ve been clicking away at my Riverbend cardigan.

img_2361I’m knitting it in Brooklyn Tweed Quarry in the Slate colorway. I’ve had a lot of concerns about the fit of this sweater. When considering the recommended ease, I’m very much in between sizes. In the end, I opted to go with the smaller size. With a recommended positive ease of 4-7″, I decided I’d rather have 2.5-3″ of positive ease instead of 7+”. With this design, I had a bad feeling that going beyond the recommended ease would leave me with a sweater that was constantly falling off my shoulders which would make me crazy. Of course, this means I fret a bit while I’m working on it — trying to eyeball the sizing as I go. I started the sleeves last night, though, so I shouldn’t have long to wait and see how the final fit goes. I’ll also have some words to share on the much debated ‘unspun’ quality of Quarry as well so stay tuned.

On my wheel, I’m plying my Completely Twisted and Arbitrary SAL “Color Music” BFL.

img_2358These colors — dyed by Three Waters Farm — are truly rich & lovely. I noticed someone else in the Ravelry group who didn’t barberpole the colors, but kept the colors true and I had just a teeny tiny pang of regret that I hadn’t done the same. No matter, though, this yarn will be lovely.

Do you count the projects you’re organizing in your head as WIPs? I definitely do! Especially as I near the end of a current project my mind definitely is already locating yarn for the next project and making plans. In this case, I’ve been searching for the perfect pattern for this skein that arrived on my doorstep on Saturday.

img_2346Meet Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts latest base, Reinvent in the Kismet colorway. Reinvent is a super unique yarn, made with the environmentally conscious crafter in mind as it’s made from reclaimed new fibers. It’s a nice big 437yard skein of wool/mohair/nylon/acrylic/silk blend and at first touch it has a very BFL or BFL/silk type feel to it. I’m kind of leaning toward knitting up a shawl with it, but we shall see. I’m going to keep looking for a couple days to make sure I find the pattern.

I also pulled out my yarn for some brioche!

img_2362I got this yarn last year after being inspired by Renee of Spun Right Round‘s start on a scrappy Askews Me Shawl. And then recently in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group I noticed quite a few knitters chiming in on the One Plus One Plus One Project making ‘learn brioche’ one of their goals. We got to talking and decided to have a little informal Brioche-Along. We’ll be starting March 1st and while everyone can pick their own yarns & patterns, we’ll be there to share our brioche journeys and help each other out along the way. Anyone is welcome to join — from the newbie brioche knitter to skilled hands with the technique.

Of course, there’s a braid of fiber or two on deck and I’m definitely flirting with winding yarn for another quick sweater. That could be said for me almost any day of the year though if I’m being honest. I’ll stop here for today though — for my sake as well as yours!

Happy WIP Wednesday to you — may your needles fly & your dreams be big!

A Luxurious Delight

When someone asks if you want to knit with a skein of yarn that is 70/20/10 Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, you say yes. Period. Most incarnations of the MCN blend top out around 10% of cashmere and that alone is pretty soft and wonderful, but 20% cashmere means I spend some time finding the perfect pattern and then I drop what I’m doing and get it on my needles asap.

This was the case with my skein of Ancient Arts DK with just that blend of fibers.

skeinSofter than pretty much anything you can imagine and with drape to spare, consensus was that it needed to be knit up into some neckwear. I pulled a book off the shelf that I’ve had for a couple of years, Jane Richmond’s Island, and flipped to Arbutus. The yarn & yardage requirements were a match and I just knew the fabric this yarn would suit this necklace-like cowl perfectly.

As soon as I’d settled on the pattern and I got a little break in my schedule I cast-on…

IMG_0974And I had the greatest time taking photos of this gorgeous yarn. A new colorway from Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts, Great Scott! is a rich, bright turquoise. It’s pretty hard to really capture the color in a photo — you know how elusive blues can be with a camera.

IMG_0977I was really impressed with how simple the pattern was. It has a very unique construction and shape…

side viewBut I knit it up in just a couple days. I think partly because the pattern is very well written and partly because the yarn is just so incredible, it just flew off my needles.

det ribI let my gauge be as relaxed as I could so that I really have a fantastic smooshy fabric and the yarn did not disappoint.

on1My finished cowl is exactly what I’d hoped for — warm and oh-so-soft around my neck with a very stylish, necklace-like look to it thanks to the three-tiered structure.

Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts has loads of gorgeous colors on a wide range of base yarns from which to choose. In addition to their general colorways, there are some wonderful collections including the Meow Collection & the Woof Collection (both of which a portion of the proceeds are donated to benefit stray and abandoned cats & dogs) and Folk Art Collection inspired by folk art traditions from around the world. There really is something for everyone!

I can’t say enough great things about the cowl I’ve created here. That pattern was great fun and the yarn simply is a luxurious delight. I guarantee I’ll be wearing it a ton. In fact, since taking the photos I haven’t taken it off and I don’t anticipate doing so any time soon!