Lost my knitting on the plane…

14 Aug

So I took a very long trip abroad (5 weeks to be precise), which kept me away from the computer for quite a bit. (probably a good thing to step away from my screen addiction)

From a very spur-of-the-moment text sent to me by my younger sister, I hopped on a plane to London and just ate around the city for a week. Then, I flew back home to Portland (via a long layover at Vancouver, BC) and promptly flew back out to Seoul, South Korea to visit my folks and meet up with long-neglected friends.

Sorry to disappoint everyone but I did NOT buy any yarn during those 5 weeks. (I know, right?) What I did get to do was knit on the plane, train, and subways and just when I thought I was actually going to finish a sock, I left it on the plane that headed back to Korea, never to be seen again (I checked with the airline and their online Lost-and-Found. No signs of it, at all. Insert sad face)

I’m not totally sad because it was really cheap yarn (SWTC Tofutsie that I got on clearance) but the needles were nice Hiya Hiya Sharps and good Clover DPNs. Man, that blows! At least I have pics to prove that I was knitting.

 

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Classic Elite Yarns (CEY) is Closing

23 Jun

So, Classic Elite Yarns folded recently (they’re holding their liquidation sale in Massachusetts as we speak) and it confirmed what I had thought for a long time – they hired a really bad creative director.

What? You’d say. But here’s the thing. Pam Allen was creative director of CEY back in the late 90s and all the pattern bookletsd were FAB-U-LOUS. She even managed to bring in Jared Flood and Eunny Jang into the mix and they left a beautiful legacy of simple but elegant patterns.

Fast forward to the next decade of awful/dated/quaint/dainty/cottage/insert-crappy-adjective-here and that’s where CEY is.

I mean, c’mon. The current design creators for the brand are has-beens/hold-overs from Nashua (which also folded, if you remember). Susan Mills and Tonia Berry, who designed most of the patterns after the “hand-over, ” really weren’t cutting it. A lot of their designs looked dated and old. Sorry to say this, but they really looked cheesy. Millenials, who virtually control the cybermedia, didn’t want anything to do with such stodgy looking knits.

Pam Allen, Norah Gaughan, Carrie Bostich Hoge, Kristen Tendyke, Hannah Fettig have all moved onto greener pastures, paving the way for elegant knits that masses can enjoy.

I own ALL the CEY pattern booklets from when Pam Allen was the Creative Director, because the designs were simply amazing. After Tonia Berry came along, I simply didn’t care for the tacky designs. (I hope she realizes she helped cement Nashua AND CEY into their graves.)

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Suffice to say, today’s current trend of pattern sales based on their cult or personality (like Andrea Mowry, Stephen West, Isolda Teague, Amy Miller, Joji Locatelli, Isabell Kraemer,  Veera Välimäki, or Kate Davies) really do not like tacky knits that cement the stereotype of old-fashioned-knitter.

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And while I wondered how CEY was still business while pumping out frumpy designs, it really wasn’t. I guess I had foresight. Will someone please hire me to be their consultant?!

Creating a gradient yarn without dyeing

17 Apr

You see tons of online tutorials out there on how to dye up gradient yarns. But what if you don’t want to dye stuff and/or have yarn that’s not dyeable?

I ran into this yarn called Wolltraum some time ago and I didn’t pay particular attention to it because all of it was 50% cotton 50% acrylic (ick). But I did find it odd that they were able to dye up an acrylic mix since I knew dyeing acrylic is fairly difficult.

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What I found out recently was that these aren’t dyed at all but basically staggered laceweight yarns of similar colors, wound together. When it comes time for the colors to change, simply tie (KNOT!!) on another color onto the end of the first color. What?!!!

I did a little bit of math using their yarn label: 200g – 760m and 4 strands of laceweight. So, 380m per 100g, multiplied by 4 = 1520m, which is about 1500NM. Since most cone yarns are 2-ply, they mostly likely used a 2/30nm cone yarns to do this. Well, guess who has a metric ton of lux fiber 2/30nm cones (yeah, me.). Of course, you would achieve an even greater level of smooth transitions if you were to use a thinner yarn (like a 2/48nm or even a 2/60nm, which is about as thin as than human hair) but that would also mean you’d lose an arm to wind thousands of yards of yarn by hand.

So basically, I just need to find 4-5 shades of a similar color and stagger these strands while winding them together into a cake. And I’d use either extra fine merino or cashmere and no knots. (I mean, hello, who wants to pay $25+ for a cake of cotton-acrylic that wasn’t even hand dyed? Apparently, a lot of suckers but not me.)

Here’s what I’m gonna do:

4 strands of color A

3 stands of color A, 1 strand of color B

2 strands of color A, 2 strands of color B

1 strand of color B, 3 strands of color B

4 strands of color B

3 strands of color B, 1 strands of color C

2 strands of color D, 2 strands of color C

and so on, and so on, and so on.

Well, I typed up this draft a whole year ago so here are the actual results. (I ended up using a thinner yarn – 2/48nm Igea Aquila, a 100% extra fine merino. Very soft!)

Fake Exotic Fibers

12 Jun

By now, I think the knitting world has come to understand that “mink yarn” does not really exist. First we had that Lotus Mimi fiasco from a few years back, and now with the Cashmere Co-op (previously Minkyarn.com that mysteriously changed its name as soon as the Lotus recall happened), professional lab results surfaced that proved that all the exotic fibers that site sold were fake, fake, fake.

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Bought this back in 2015. 80% Mink, my ass.

I was skeptical when that Cashmere Co-Op site began offering snow fox and sable, since I haven’t seen these types of fibers offered by anyone else. (And believe me, I’ve got quite the menagerie of exotic fibers in my stash: bison, camel, qiviut, llama, possum, cashgora, and even a rare cashmere-chinchilla blend!) If it was so soft and rare, how could this one man (Craig Turner) offer it for so cheap? (relatively speaking of course. They were on par with cashmere prices) If they were so great, how come no one else sold these yarns? Where exactly was this guy getting these yarns? (he certainly wasn’t producing them)

I didn’t buy any even though I was tempted to because there simply was too many unanswered questions. And at these prices, I wasn’t going to risk it.

And whaddaya know. People got angry, people began hounding the man, people demanded their money back, people reversed their paypal charges….and now the owner of that site just poof, disappeared. He closed his Ravelry account, got rid of his group, and closed down his website.  Supposedly, he was angry that the individuals who brought this info to light were all out to get him and even hinted that they were stalkers.

I don’t know about you but this is just piss poor PR (public relations). When people (in general) get angry, you do not want to fan their flames. He mostly did this to himself when he didn’t do his due diligence prior to investing in a large inventory of fake yarns. (whether he knew or didn’t know doesn’t make a difference at this point)

At any rate, minks, snow foxes and sables are NOT tame animals that someone could “humanely harvest” by brushing them. This is total eco-washing to make us feel better about ourselves. Sorry to break it to you but the only mink yarn that’s real is sheared from a dead animal. (and yes, I have that one too.)

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Vintage yarn from the 80s – 35% sheared mink. (PETA, don’t kill me!)

No more minks for this chica….although my quest for exotic fibers continues as I’ve got my eyes set on this: Cervelt! That’s right. Red deer down from New Zealand!

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And yes, it comes in yarn form, with each ball that comes in a certified, serial numbered case. What’s preventing me from buying some is the fact that it costs $395/100g (each ball is only 25g and costs $99) and that because it’s so rare, no one seems to have any in stock. But man, I want to get my hands on some of this baby.

Sigh…a girl can dream…

 

When is fingering not really fingering?

13 Feb

I’m talking about yarn – get yo mind outta the gutter! 😉

I’ve been winding a butt ton of fingering weight yarns (aka sock yarns) for the last year and I’ve noticed something peculiar. There’s no consistency as far as thickness is concerned. Yes, it’s true that a vast majority fall into the 400-440yds per 100g category, there are plenty of outliers that are still marked as “fingering weight”

Why does this matter? Well, for one, if you’re mixing different fingering weight yarns for a multi-color project, you might experience different textures or a different gauge, creating irregularities in your knit fabric. (I used scraps of a 50 or so different fingering weight for a linen stitch scarf and yes, the thicker yarns created a bumpier row, which I did not like. This was especially apparent when I wore the scarf around my neck since the neck area also happens to be one of the most sensitive parts of the body)

Shall we take a look some examples of the rogue fingering weights then?

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts – Socks that Rock Lightweight (405yds/146g)

One of the thickest fingering weights out there, BMFA even states upfront that it’s “not a true fingering-weight; close, though.” I’d say this is a true sport weight.

 

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Colinette – Jitterbug (400yds/150g)

This one is even thicker than the Socks that Rock that was mentioned above since it’s not as tightly spun as STR. A sport weight bordering on DK, they recently discontinued this line and came out with a Jitterbug Sock version which has 400yds/100g per skein, which is an actual fingering weight.

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Handmaiden – Casbah (355yds/115g)

Another sport weight posing as fingering. Super soft and lovely but it belongs in the same category as another similar yarn – Bugga (which is correctly categorized as sport weight)

 

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Patons Kroy Socks (166yds/50g)

There are several different versions of this yarn out there but apparently the latest put-up is rather thick and folks with larger feet have run out of yarn before finishing their socks. Well, hello? Look at the skimpy yardage (and thicker yarn). It used to be fingering when they had 203yds but not anymore!

I have a hunch that because fingering weight is a popular category, yarn companies are intentionally labeling them as fingering to sell more yarns. At any rate, pay attention to the yardages and if it falls below 350yds/100g, chances are that you’re looking at sport weight.

Hasegawa Yarns

29 Jan

(PLEASE NOTE: Hasegawa only sells wholesale and minimum order is 1kg per yarn in stock)

I’ve noticed this for quite some time now but Habu textiles, which sells lots of peculiar yarns on cones for mucho $$$ here in the U.S. seem to be just repackaging Hasegawa yarns and jacking up the prices. And if you’re not familiar with Hasegawa, it is a very large Japanese mill specializing in silk and other unique yarns. (I know of a few very bougie American yarn brands that have their yarn spun for them by Hasegawa but you’d never see their name on the label)

Anyway, Hasegawa has an awesome website that has their entire yarn line catalogued with prices in both Japanese Yen and US dollars. And yep, you guessed it: it is WAY cheaper to buy direct from Hasegawa than Habu cuz any time there’s a middleman (and an expensive showroom to pay for) somebody has to pay – the unknowing consumer.

So the next time, you’re tempted to buy some funky paper yarn or lux silk but don’t want to pay $$$$ for a tiny 25g (or 13g!) ball, check out Hasegawa. Pretty sure you can buy almost everything for a fraction of the price.

Knitter’s Magazine is Calling it Quits

18 Jan

Knitter’s by XRX has announced that their Winter 2016 issue will be their last and they will cease publication. Why am I not surprised?

Out of the big 7 knitting magazines (Interweave Knits, Knitscene, Vogue Knitting, Knit Simple, Creative Knitting, Simply Knitting (UK) being the other 6), Knitter’s had the frumpiest and tackiest looking designs with the utmost garish colors to boot.

Every time I browsed through their issues, I had to cringe at the fug outfits staring back at me. Super thin and pretty models wearing the most dowdy, ill fitting sweaters. I get that there’s a lot of technique that goes into making some of these knits but it felt like they were made for the sake of showing said technique with no regards to how flattering it would look on a person. (and the colors….who’s the colorblind person picking them out?)

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from their fall 2016 issue. I’m sorry but this is just fug.

And because all the photos are taken by their head editor, the layout and design of the photos look extremely dated. I can pull out their magazine from 10 years ago and it still looks exactly the same. (just cuz you use super expensive photo equipment, doesn’t make your pics look better.)

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from 2006. Notice that this pic doesn’t look all that from the 2016 one? (Did someone never learn how to use F-stops on their camera lens?)

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Look at her lips. It’s saying “Ewwww”

Anyway, XRX has been seeing the dough flow in from Stitches, which is why they’ve expanded the Stitches venues and are now ditching the money loser, Knitter’s magazine.

It’s always sad to see a knitting publication close up shop but with this one, I totally saw it coming. Sorry Knitter’s!

 

Better Value Per Yard?

15 Jan

Rant time!

I see time and time again this statement when talking about the price of a yarn skein.

“It’s a much better value because I get 440yds per skein instead of 100yds for the same price”

Uh, no it isn’t! Not if it’s exactly the same 100g. It’s like the ridiculous statement that a pound of feathers is lighter than a pound of rocks. No it’s not. They’re exactly the same amount of yarn because fibers and yarn are sold by weight, not by yardage.

“The value per yer yard on this yarn is great!” Um, this ain’t fabric. Yarn isn’t sold per yard but by grams, people!

If we were to stick with the whole “better value because of yardage” logic, we should all be knitting with cobweb yarns. I mean, 5000yds+ per 100g. Great deal, right? (palm to forehead) Ugh, I hate such misinformation.

End of rant!

 

Happy 2017!

9 Jan

A new year and NO NEW RESOLUTIONS!

What’s the point of making a list when i know i won’t be able to keep up with it? Maybe I’m too cynical or just getting old. (yeah, yeah, I shouldn’t talk, still being in my 30s and all. haha!)

I just got back from a short trip to sunny Phoenix, Arizona to find a mountain of packages at our doorstep. You betcha I ran and hid those boxes in the laundry room before my husband saw them. (ah, the things us yarn hoarders do….we’ve got problems, y’all!)

Not much to report on other than showing off some of my “haul.” Call it eye candy or living vicariously through my crazy spending sprees.

Seasons Greetings!

20 Dec

We’re knee deep in holiday season 2016 and not much has changed in the Yarnphreak household. Other than the mountain of yarn that’s been creeping steadily into the dining room, it looks and feels pretty similar to 2015.

One key difference is probably the boxes of mini skeins that’s taking up a chunk of space. What mini skeins, you ask? Those would be the Koigu KPPPM skeins that I’ve been busily winding into 25yds and 50yds increments. Now that I’ve got enough for a full set (400g), time to destash these babies.

Feast your eyes on these!

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32 colors done, 8 more to go….

If anyone wants some, it’s the same as the regular KPPPM skein prices, which are $14-15 per skein. (Not gonna jack up prices just because they’re mini skeins. Have you seen what Koigu charges for their 11 yard minis? $3.75! That’s equivalent to $60 per 50g. Talk about insanity.)

These are my mini skein set prices, including free U.S shipping

28 x 50yd set: $112 (2 sets available)

40 x 25yd set: $82 (1 set available)

I already have some takers (pre-orders) for each of these sets so there’s only a few available. Please let me know via Ravelry (my id is ‘yarnphreak’ in case you didn’t know. ha!) if you want a set.

As for what to do with all these mini skeins, here are some suggestions:

Beekeeper’s Quilt (aka Hexipuffs)

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Mini Mania Scarf

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Missoni Falls Cowl

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Koigu Fair Isle Cowl

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Hitini Socks

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and any pattern that uses madelinetosh Unicorn Tails such as this Unicorn Stripes scarf

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Mini skeins are great! They’re like yarn Skittles. Just a taste of every color out there.