Tag Archives: wool

Swatches, Socks, and Skeins – oh my!

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I’m sure there will be many a multi-barreled Friday post in my future, and I suppose that makes great sense since Friday is the day you sort out the week so you don’t have to carry it into the weekend. I mean, it’s not just me who does that, right?

First up, my first lace work. About a month ago I decided to focus on socks for a little while because they are both practical and a great way (in my mind) to learn some new skills that I can apply to larger projects in the future. So, L and I went all over the city looking for The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes, which had been recommended. Sadly, I couldn’t find it; however, I did pick up Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd, and it has been excellent. Since finishing my mum’s socks, I have been knitting Almondine (rav link) and I am quite pleased with how they’re turning out.

Almondine socks in progress.

Almondine socks in progress.

I’m just finishing up the foot of the first sock (they’re knit top-down, clearly) and once I’ve got it all finished I’ll write about what I’ve learned/what little pattern changes I’ve made, etc. I will say, though, that for someone new to lace but not to socks, this is a very satisfying knit: the pattern is clear and has enough repetition to become natural without becoming boring, and seeing the lovely little almond shapes come together is never-ending excitement. It was also great trip knitting (I started it in the airport lounge last week).

Sock knitting is not quite all-consuming, though, so I’ve been puttering around and doing other things as well. First, I’ve been trying to clean up my stash a little bit. For a relatively new knitting, I have certainly accumulated a lot of wool, and I’m not complaining, but with a yarn-happy cat around, I do need to keep things somewhat orderly.

Ganymede loves to chase knitting.

Ganymede loves to chase knitting.

So, I took an hour or so this week (while watching some silly TV) to wind up some of my ends. I like to knit from the middle out – as opposed to from the outside in – which means that if I don’t entirely finish a cake, it ends up flat and floppy and libel to get very tangled indeed. The solution (for me) is little balls, and now that I’ve gotten the hang of making them even, I quite like them.

From left to right, these are two colourways of Abuelita Mysterious Blend Bulky ( 95% merino-corridale, 5% silk – so soft and gorgeous to knit with), used to knit L a hat, and my leftover Tanis Fiber Arts DK weight 100% Merino. What will I do with this ends? I’m not sure yet, but at least when I get to them they will be easy to knit with.

Finally, I realized I have never done anything with the wool I bought in Switzerland in December. I picked it up from a market stall in Bern and, because I don’t speak German and the man selling it didn’t really speak much English or French, all I can say is that it s indeed Swiss wool, but what breed of sheep it comes from and where it was spun remains a mystery.

Swiss skeins

Swiss skeins

One skein is a sort of grey-green and the other is a grey-blue (which you can’t tell in this photo), and they’re both quite wooly and finely spun, which is nice.

The market gentleman was only equipped to sell skeins, which means it still needs to be wound somehow. I’d like to know just how much I have, but ho-hum, I suppose I can add that to its mysterious characteristics. But oh, what to do with them?

Also! I completely forgot, but you remember that nice Maritime wool I bought when I was at home? Well I’ve been swatching it (ostensibly for mittens) and I must say, it is even lovelier to knit with than I first imagined. There’s just enough lanolin to make it soft and almost buttery in your hands, but not so much that it smells or sticks. It also has just the hint of a hallow and although I haven’t quite settled on what I’m going to do with it yet, I am getting very excited to do something with it.

Here’s my swatch (knit on 3.75 mm dpn, which gave me 7 stitches and 9 rows to an inch), including a little section of colourwork, just to see how it went.

Maritime swatch

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Maritime Wool

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Last weekend I escaped the city for the lovely Nova Scotia countryside where I grew up. I hadn’t been home home in over a year, so I was really excited already, but when my mum told me about a local wool producer, I’ll admit that added to my excitement. We went on Friday and then, because I didn’t fully consider my purchases, we went back on Saturday so I could pick up some more wool.

A camera shy Cotswold

A camera shy Cotswold

Gaspereau Valley Fibres raises their own Cotswold Sheep, which were once one of the most popular wool sources, but had since been reduced to a rare breed. Cotswold wool is recommended for outerwear, and Gaspereau Valley Fibres offers complimentary patterns with each skein, which come in both natural colours and hand-dyed.

Natural skeins of Cotswold wool.

Natural skeins of Cotswold wool.

The shop is gorgeous – it’s in a converted barn, but has retained all its original post and beam construction, and is headed by a wood stove – and carries a huge selection of fibre. In addition to their own wool, the also carry skeins of 100% Maritime Wool made from 60% New Brunswick alpaca and 40% Nova Scotia Corriedale wool. It is gorgeous and soft enjoyably squooshy and I bought three 250-yard skeins, although I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with it yet. It’s also sold in natural colours, which are what I tend to gravitate toward anyhow.

60% alpaca, 40% wool, 100% Maritime

60% alpaca, 40% wool, 100% Maritime

Winding

Winding

All in all it was a great haul from a gorgeous shop. If you find yourself in Nova Scotia, I would definitely recommend stopping by.

A flock of Cotswolds, plus one alpaca, all very curious about what I'm up to.

A flock of Cotswolds, plus one alpaca, all very curious about what I'm up to.

My haul.

My haul.