Yarn Crush review and a giveaway!

I’ve tried several monthly subscription boxes, but never a yarn-related one. Last month the folks at Yarn Crush asked if I would review one of their subscription boxes and I jumped at the chance.yarn crushYarn Crush focuses on using yarn from indie dyers and they pair them with patterns that would go beautifully with the yarn. I think this is a gorgeous pairing in December’s box. yarn crush-2The yarn is from Yarn Indulgences and it’s a Zed Luxe Sock base in the color Paisley. The fiber content is 70% Merino Wool, 20% Cashmere, and 10% Nylon. It seems to feel very similar to one of my favorite sock yarns, Anzula Squishy, with a bit more cashmere. I want to bathe in this yarn. Is that possible?

The clutch pattern is adorable and this kit includes all of the necessary elements, save a little bit of fabric to line the clutch if desired. As much as I do think the pattern is adorable, I probably won’t be pairing this yarn with it because I love the yarn too much and want to wear it next to my skin. This yarn will likely become a small shawl or a most treasured pair of socks. I can’t wait to knit with it! yarn crush-3

As for the pattern, I do think I might attempt it at some point, but I’m not much of a clutch carrying gal, so this might take me some time to get to. I think the stitch pattern on the design would be beautiful on a pair of socks. Zooey immediately fell in love with the idea of a little purse with crystals on it, so perhaps she will be the future owner.

If you want to learn more about Yarn Crush, check out their site or their Ravelry group to see some of the things people have made with their lovely pairings. You can choose monthly or bimonthly plans ranging from 3-12 month commitments. Each month includes 100g of indie dyed yarn, coordinating patterns, and extra goodies. If you’re a yarn lover that adores surprises in the mail, this might be just the thing for you.

So, do you want to try a box of your own?! Just comment below and tell what you would most love to see in a yarn subscription box. I’ll keep comments open until Monday February 8th at 5pm and then I’ll choose a winner with a random number generator.


Whatcha swatchin’

I wasn’t feeling inspired by many men’s knits recently. I knit Matt a sweater every year (sometimes two) but this year I wasn’t feeling the sweater mojo when it came to a guy sweater till about a week and a half ago. I love my LYS and the knitters that often frequent it. One of these knitters is a college senior named Levi, whose fingers fly and conquer Kaffe Fassett intarsia blankets and deliciously cabled sweaters like they’re no big deal. We have a similar love of Brooklyn Tweed patterns and recently I saw him knitting a Rift. I feel in love with that pattern instantly and went home excited to tell Matt that I was ready to knit for him again.

whelter-3I decided it was time to try Shelter. It comes in so many amazing colors. Matt and I settled on this gorgeous Faded Quilt, a grey-blue with little teal flecks. So far I have been pleasantly surprised.swatch

While I had heard that Shelter is more delicate, it’s not like it falls apart while you are knitting it. If you pull on it to break a strand it breaks easily, but I had no issues while knitting my swatches. It felt fluffy and bouncy while knitting the swatches. Before washing my swatches it seemed like I was going to have to go down two needle sizes to a US 5 to make gauge, but somehow after washing and letting them dry unpinned the size US 6 swatch came out perfectly. I will be casting on very soon, but I can’t forget about Z’s “wing sweater” because we talk about it often.

Laundry experiments

This is a long post about my laundry experiments with some wool wash. If you want lots of details about washing wool, read on friend. If you just want a brief synopsis, scroll to the verdict at end.wool wash

The very friendly and kind folks at Unicorn Fibre sent me some different laundry washes to try. By they way, I am never paid for my reviews but those requesting reviews do often provide me with samples to try. In this case I was calling to see if I could get a sample of their Beyond Clean that was reviewed on The Knitmore Girls Podcast. Jasmin from that podcast has raved about Beyond Clean a few times for her kiddo knits. I really wanted to try it and called because my internet connection was stalling out and I couldn’t finish obtaining the sample online. I spoke to Melanie about getting a sample and she very kindly offered to send me a sample of Beyond Clean, Beyond Fibre Wash, and Beyond Soft. She didn’t know I had a blog when she offered that and I said that I would review them on my blog as a thank you if she liked.

As soon as I got home from work on the day they arrived I was eager to experiment. I took out some knits that had a lot of old grubbiness, socks that had about a decade of dirt stains on the bottom, and baby and toddler knits that are almost always dirtier by nature to use with Beyond Clean. My usual method is to fill up my washing machine with warm or hot water and wool wash, then submerge my items and let them soak for about 30 minutes. I did that in this case, using hot water. If you use this method be sure to wait until the water is full before adding your knits. You don’t want to risk felting with running water that might agitate non-superwash items. This fiber wash needs to be rinsed so I waited until the knits had cooled and used cool water to rinse. If you move knits from hot to cold or vice versa, the shock can felt items. There were many items with lots of gunk, so I took some of them and did a second wash in a large bowl for comparison. In this case I washed a single sock from a pair and some of Charlotte’s pajamas and another baby sweater a second time. The second washing definitely helped some of the things with older stains and Charlotte’s pajamas that get funky around the collar from drool and general baby gunk. The knits felt a bit squeaky after this wash, because Beyond Clean removes their lanolin. I noticed improvement in the very old gunk more with a second wash, as you might guess, but it wasn’t a miracle cure for old stains. On one of Zooey’s dresses that had some mystery stains, those came out in the first wash with no issue.

Stains beaten by Beyond Clean with no issue.

Stains beaten by Beyond Clean with no issue.

Charlotte’s drooly grubby collar on her pajamas was much improved.

Pre washed grubby collar.

Pre washed grubby collar.

Collar much less grubby on the following day.

Collar much less grubby on the following day.

Dirty socks.

Dirty socks.

Cleaner socks, but no miraculous recovery.

Cleaner socks, but no miraculous recovery.

For this second wash I added Beyond Soft to see how they felt after adding the softener rinse. I had a decent comparison because one half of these sock pairs only had a single wash and no softener. Beyond Soft definitely gave the wool a softer hand and took out the squeaky feel I was experiencing after using Beyond Clean alone. I think this will be excellent to use on Zooey’s Bitty Breezy when it’s done since that is knit out of more durable Regia sock yarn that’s not butter soft. On some socks with a cashmere blend or merino only, I can really feel a difference in the softness.

I also wanted to compare the Beyond Fibre Wash to my usual choice, Eucalan. I didn’t feel like doing an entire load of knits again, nor did I have the drying space. I happened to have two swatches in Shelter for a Rift sweater for Matt that I had just finished and needed to block. I put one in Eucalan and one in Beyond Fibre Wash. The Beyond Fibre Wash does need to be rinsed while Eucalan does not. Eucalan has lanolin in the wash, while Beyond Fibre Wash removes lanolin. The difference here is largely a matter of personal preference. Some people are very sensitive to lanolin, while others are not. I quite like the feel of lanolin in my wool. To me it feels like the wool is wearing some lotion and feels protective. My mom felt the swatches and had the opposite reaction. She found the one washed with Beyond Fibre Wash to be softer and fluffier. I think for regular knits I will stick to the Eucalan for a couple of reasons. In my house, laziness wins often. Since Eucalan doesn’t require rinsing it’s less work and saves some water. I didn’t give Beyond Fibre Wash a test with other fibers. I may try it someday for my summer linens to see how it performs since those definitely don’t need lanolin.

Unicorn Fibre has some very helpful washing guides on their site. Their washes aren’t just for knits. They can be used with general laundry and items like cloth diapers as well for those that prefer gentle ingredients. I’m interested to see how it works in a normal load of kid laundry.

The verdict: I think Beyond Clean does excellent work on recent stains. It was unrealistic to expect it to take all the sole dirt out of nearly decade old socks because several of those have been washed and dried many, many times. Heated drying can set stains permanently, so some of those were hopeless causes, but there was some improvement anyway. I think this would be great regular use with kid knits that get messy since it performed well at taking out those stains with no issue. I won’t likely be using Beyond Fibre Wash for my wool items, since I don’t like to have to rinse those and I like them to keep their lanolin. I think it will probably be great for other non-wool knits like my summer tops. Beyond Soft gave the knits I used it with a much softer hand. I can’t speak to the dirt repelling action or static resistance that it promises because I haven’t road tested those knits yet. I think if you’re using Beyond Clean and want them to have a softer feel at the end, Beyond Soft is a great finish for them.

Correction: After corresponding with Melanie again I learned that Beyond Fibre Wash does not remove lanolin.

Yarn yesterday, hat today

betwixt-2At my LYS the lovely owner, Cynthia, recently knit herself a Betwixt out of Mirasol Sulka, a yarn I had never tried before. It was gorgeous and had enough silk to give it a bit of sheen. And it was warm when I tried it on. Just what you want in a winter hat.betwixt-3The yarn I originally used for Betwixt is now discontinued, but Sulka seems like a wonderful alternate. This shade is called Steel Blue. Up close it has a lovely bit of variation in color in the single ply strand. I like to think this is probably the color of Rearden metal Ayn Rand was describing in Atlas Shrugged. 

It did split a bit when I was knitting it, so it kept me on my toes, but it is lovely.betwixt-4I’m leaving the buttons off of this one, partly due to laziness, and partly because I don’t have anything on hand that I’m dying to use. betwixtIt hugs the head in the most delicious way. Sulka has a bit more body than the original SMC Tweed used for the original design. It’s a comforting head snuggle I know I’m going to enjoy for many winter days to come. betwixt-5


Product review: A tiny dancer

The folks at Mochimochi Land recently sent me a Tiny Ballerina Kit to review. The product is available for $12 and comes with the pattern and enough yarn to make three wee ballerinas. ballet-4In theory, this is fun and adorable. In reality, I am all thumbs when working with DPNs and it was not much fun for me. The pattern is well written and easy to follow. As long as you’re familiar with the techniques used it isn’t difficult to execute. But, boy was it fiddly. balletI am not in the practice of making inch and a half high ballerinas. If you are the kind of person that loves itty bitty details and miniature things, this is the pattern for you. I am not this person. ballet-3While the kit and pattern are more than adequate to make this project, I just couldn’t bring myself to make more than one ballerina. I fumbled through one ballerina over several lunch breaks at work, since the kit is practically pocket sized you could take it anywhere. Overall it took me about 2.5-3 hours to make one ballerina with all the details and even mostly just sticking all the loose ends in the middle to add to the stuffing. ballet-2This will soon be in the hands of Zooey, who is sure to love and treasure this tiny dancer, but I just can’t bring myself to make another two of them.

Overall, I probably won’t make another ballerina or dive into the world of miniature knits further. I’ve learned that it’s just not my thing. It doesn’t mean it’s not your thing. If you love tiny details and tiny projects, give it a go!

Bright Bitty Breezy

Last weekend I was hanging out in my latest Breezy, hiding behind “the wings” and being playful at the dinner table. Zooey commented that she would like a “wing sweater” and of course I had to jump at the chance to make her one. breezShe said she wanted purple so I pulled out some Regia in this vivid Violett color. I love this color and have 920 yards. I thought it would be perfect and luckily, so did she. I originally got this on vacation in Kansas City and thought back then (a couple of years ago) that it would be lovely for a little dress or something for Z.

I’m making the 4T size. She was so excited and cooperative that I was able to take measurements on the spot! I will add a little length (an inch or two) to the body, and maybe a half inch to an inch to the sleeves. Otherwise the 4T size should be just perfect. I can’t wait to give Zooey her “wings.”

The magically adjustable sweater

keaton-6At long last, Keaton is finished. I began this adventure in September and finished all of my seaming last Thursday evening at knit night. I began by making the 38.5″ bust size, thinking I didn’t want as much ease as the pattern specified. keaton-5I blocked each piece to measurements before seaming, like a good little knittress. Then I knit the collar and seamed and seamed and seamed. When I tried it on Thursday night it was snug. Definitely more snug than I wanted. For a moment I was quite sad. I worked on this baby for almost four months in fingering weight woven stitch. Major time investment.

keaton-4I kept my cool and went home and gave it a good soak in some Eucalan and then took it back to the blocking board. This time I used my wires to be a little more aggressive and to get the waist shaping exactly how I wanted it. At the last minute I decided to block it for the next size up, giving myself that extra ease, because in the moment it seemed like the sweater could easily handle it. keatonAnd it did. keaton-2I didn’t do much with the collar in the way of blocking. I think when I wash it next I may fold it in half while it dries to try to make it stand up better. If I were to knit in this yarn again I’d probably go down a couple more needle sizes on the collar to achieve a slightly stiffer result. This is Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal in Winter Rose. I haven’t worked with Loft, which the pattern suggests. Loft is a 2-ply yarn while mine was a single ply. I could see that affecting the stiffness of the collar.keaton-3I tried the collar left unfolded (as shown in the fifth picture from the top), folded in half (top and other pictures), and folded in thirds to make it a bit more stiff (fourth picture down). When folded in half it flops a bit more than the sample. I still like it, but I do wish it was more like that one. I’m reconsidering knitting it.

The sleeves look good fully unfolded, with one fold, or with two. I like that I can pull them further over my wrists in the cold or they fold back well to stay out of my way if needed.

This pattern was well written with elegant little details. I added length to the sleeves and the body, by an inch or so, as I often do.

Though I may give that collar a second pass, I’m so glad this can be marked done and be off my mind. I have sweaters for both Zooey and Matt in the mental works that they will hopefully love.