Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm in luuurrrve!

With a yarn. It's bad. I haven't been this in love with a yarn in a long time, and certainly not with a commercial yarn of all things. I've been in very deep like with many skeins of my handspun, especially when they ended up in the perfect project. And I've felt gratitude towards yarns for being the way they are. I have a profound platonic friendship with Cascade 220 that will probably never leave me (inexpensive? 270 different colors? What's not to love?).

So how did it happen? How did I find myself in this slightly embarrassing yet delightful situation? Well, it started the day after the stash exchange. I was out at the big local yarn shop with knitter friends, most of whom had been listening to my knitting woes at the stash exchange the day before. Having just cleared out lots of yarn, I went in with three allowable purchases: first, yarn in very specific colors (hello again, Cascade 220!) as requested by a family member for their gift.

Slytherin Cascade 220

Second, a new travel mug with a cute sheep on it; my old one has finally kicked the bucket after nearly four years of daily use.

Travel Mug

Third, yarn for my special super secret project. I can't tell you about the project yet, but I will as soon as I can. Lately I've been thinking in tweeds, obsessing over Shelter, knitting things out of rustic yarns or from very old, very familiar stash yarn. So with my guilt alleviated from the recent stash exchange, I was on the lookout for just the right colors, and not too particular about getting something under budget. Also, technically I wasn't buying stash yarn. I've got a deadline, so I knew this yarn would be on and off the needles in a matter of weeks. Since my handspun and spinning fiber stash contains something like 90% variegated colors, I've recently been drawn towards solid or semi-solid colors when buying commercially spun yarn. And I needed solids for this project. Nobody does solids and semi-solids quite like the fabulous colorist behind madelinetosh. I know, because I made this yarn

Madelinetosh Worsted

into this hat

Thunderstorm Tam

last April. Dark blue is one of those colors I will never escape. It's a staple of my wardrobe. "Thunderstorm" is a breathtaking variation on dark blue, and it's difficult to capture the yarn adequately because the color changes are so subtle. The true color is somewhere between what you see in the yarn and hat photos. One of the funny things about yarn produced in small batches is how much variation can occur across different yarn bases, because different fibers react differently to the same dye formula. What looks just right on a merino yarn might be washed-out on cotton, or deeply saturated on a wool/silk blend. Not that saturated or washed-out are necessarily bad, sometimes that's just what the project calls for. We were wandering around the shop, and I got to comparing one tosh color across the sock, vintage, dk, and lace yarn bases. And then I picked up pashmina, and everything clicked. I won't say that I heard birds singing, or that a ray of sunshine broke through the window to shine on the skein, but it was a close thing.


Fig. Perfect. I mean the color, not my photography skills. A deep, dark chocolate brown with a few hints of milk chocolate. And the yarn feels simply amazing, good enough to wear the unknit skein around your neck. Except... I needed a contrast color. I couldn't start the project without both colors. Aha! I remembered from previous trips to the yarn shop that tosh produces a creamy white (undyed?) colorway called Antler. Reminds me of bone buttons. Again, perfect. Sadly, no Antler was in stock in the Pashmina yarn base, and the Fig colorway did not show up on the sock base in the way that I adored on the Pashmina base, so no substitutions. After searching and some deliberation, I decided that I couldn't pass up the Fig. But I know myself, and I wouldn't be able to rest unless I knew I could go home and immediately order some Antler online. Technology to the rescue! A friend lent me her cell phone portable internet machine so I could verify that Antler was for sale somewhere in the Pashmina base. I found three sources, just in case two of them sold their last skein of Antler Pashmina by the time I could eat lunch and go home (never underestimate the power of paranoia). We made our purchases, and I went off to lunch with the skein of Fig nibbling at the back of my mind.

Once home, I ordered my yarn from Happy Knits. Here comes the really awesome part: their service was amazing. Nearly instantaneous email confirmation of my order, and they must have put that sucker in the mail first thing on Monday morning, because the yarn arrived on Wednesday afternoon.


I desperately wanted to cast on my project on Wednesday night, but held off, knowing I had to photograph this adorable package.

Happy Knits Yarn

Not only did my package arrive lightning-fast, but they included a thank-you note, a little sample skein of Skacel Urban Silk yarn, and a tiny blank booklet. And best of all, they swiftly silenced all the tiny nagging doubts my brain was building up about how Fig would look next to Antler.

Antler and Fig

I can't show you photos of the yarn knit up yet as it would spoil the surprise, but the fabric feels absolutely decadent. If you're looking for something to spoil yourself with (but not too much), I cannot recommend this yarn highly enough.

Then again, I'm in lurve, so I'm biased.

1 comment:

Lakin said...

great story! and beautiful, beautiful yarn colors, perfect together! Pashmina. yuuuum.