Category Archives: Yarn

What is the Italian Word for “Dog”?

In these tough economic times, everyone is searching for a bargain, knitters included. At last night’s meeting of the Slater Mill Knitting and Crochet Guild meeting I do believe I found one.

The smart ladies (and man – Hi John!) of the Guild devised a wonderful way for us to raise money and share some fiber goodness and yarn love. At each meeting members donate skeins of yarn to the “Buck a Ball” table. Other members peruse the table and can find new yarn delights for merely $1. All the money goes to the Guild. Such a deal!

These “Buck a Ball” donations are special.

You know these yarns. That one skein of colorful sock yarn that you just had to buy because it was on on sale and how on earth could you pass up such a deal?! Who cares if it’s not enough for a pair – you’ll find a use for it. Or how about the freebie ball of lime green fuzzy eyelash yarn with orange speckles that came in a gift bag you were so excited to receive, but upon closer inspection you realize it is  not enough, not the right color, too scratchy, too slippery, too glittery…You know these yarns. Think the Island of Misfit Toys, only yarn.

So what wonderful fibers did I uncover from the Buck a Ball table? Look at these lovlies! (Click for big)

I was especially coveting the mohair on the left. Despite my recent frustrations with Swallowtail, I am still determined to make a floaty, ephemeral lace stole and this forest green lace-weight looked like just the right yarn for the job. The Regia sock yarn on the right was a no-brainer. They don’t call me KnitSox for nothin’ you know. And yes, I realize it is only one ball and not enough for a pair of socks. Be quiet. I know. It was only a buck – you expect me to pass it up?

Tonight, because I am a Ravelry geek, I had to immediately photograph my new yarns and log them into my stash.  As I was lining up the artistic shot in the viewfinder, I looked closely at the label on the hunter green mohair beauties.


It appears that there are two puppies on this label. An Irish Setter and a Poodle. Now I don’t speak Italian, but I’m wondering if “seta” is the Italian word for dog.

I know there are talented people who spin yarn from dog hair, but honestly, I’ve never understood that particular hobby.

I spend endless hours of my life combating the persistent fuzziness of the Max hairs that cover every surface of my home and my clothing. Jeff and I are sometimes lucky enough to travel to far-off lands and we always laugh at the amount of copper-colored Beagle/Boxer hairs we deposit at various stopping points along the way. Max barely leaves the family room, but his hair has covered most of North America, the Caribbean, and parts of western Europe.

Did I just get an amazing deal on two balls of Italian dog hair?? Please say it isn’t so.


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Slater Mill Yarn Dyeing Workshop

If you a knitter, weaver, spinner, fiber-addict, and you haven’t visited the new Slater Mill Community Guild Studio, what are you waiting for?? Tucked away in lovely little Pawtucket, Rhode Island on the banks of the Blackstone River is a fantasy land of yarn and fiber related goodness.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the day at the second ever Slater Mill Yarn Dyeing Workshop. We were a small class, only four us and Jan Doyle, our teacher, which meant we had plenty of elbow room. Each of us started the day with three buckets of dye at our stations. Red. Yellow. Blue. From that simple beginning we created a dizzying collection of vibrant and subtle colors.

The top row are my yarns, starting with some brightly colored silk/wool sock yarn.  Can you tell I’m sick of winter? From that, I created some lighter toned wool/nylon blend sock yarns, sort of my tribute to Noro, and finally, with only the remains of my original pots of blue and red, and a few drops of yellow from a neighbor, are my two worsted weight wools in shades of lavender, light blue and green.

The first two in the second row are Angela’s. She began with a vibrant mix of blue and orange and by the end of the day had a pile of glimmering autumn colored skeins. Absolutely gorgeuous! I only have one shot of Cheryl’s collection, ranging from bright pinks and purples to more toned down blues and greens.  All were fantastic. The bottom row is Ruth’s beautiful and calm seafoam green, and her lovely petunia pink.  She was a bit worried about the pinks, thinking it looked like a pile of sausages, but she is very wrong. The pinks are graduated throughout from very pale, to much darker. I can’t wait to see the finished sweater. I wish I had more photos. Every yarn was spectacular.

Thank you to everyone involved. First, to my husband Jeff for understanding when I told him I was spending Valentine’s Day with my other love. Meaning yarn of course.

Second thanks to Ruth Sunn, Director of Slater Mill Community Guild Studio for organizing such a fabulous day of fun, laughter and most of all creativity.

Last, and certainly not least, a very big thank you to Jan Doyle, fiber artist and ever-patient teacher, who revealed the mystery of color theory, explained the difference between shade and hue, tint and value, shared her experiences on choosing the best types of dyes, and most kindly rinsed all of our steaming creations straight from the microwave with her amazing asbestos hands!


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On December 26, C and I headed off to Webs for the annual blow out sale. OMG. What a scene. I’d been to Webs for the first time just a few weeks ago. That first time, the store was quite and peaceful, yet still overwhelming in its abundance of yarn. This time, the store was packed to the rafters with crazy knitters. It was true insanity. 99.9% of the shoppers were kind and friendly, but there was that one crazy lady who made a very rude comment to me and C about our use of a shopping cart. A very loud and ridiculous comment. It is the first, and hopefully only time I will come this close to slugging someone in a yarn shop.

Anyway, the bargains were incredible. In the first room, there were piles of Noro Silk Garden. Bags upon bags of color 246 for a mere $50 a bag. My friends, this stuff normally sells for close to $12 a skein and I scored a whole bag for $50!! Jeff, the ever vigilant entrepreneur wondered why I didn’t buy all of it to sell on EBay for a profit. Honestly, that thought didn’t even cross my mind, though I wonder if others were doing just that. There was also boxes and boxes of free yarn. Yes, that’s right. I said free!!! It was all ribbon shiny yarn. Not anything I really wanted, but I’m sure some creative crafters will put it all to good use. There was one lady who was stuffing her shopping cart full of the free yarn. She must have had twenty or thirty bags. I was a little embarrassed for her. Maybe she is going to sell it on Ebay??

So now I’m wondering what to do with all this bargain Noro…it is color 246. Green/grey/purple/and a just a hint of very ugly mustard yellow. I wonder about those nutty dyers at Noro. Do you think they all sit around and say, “hmmmm this looks beautiful just as it is, but wait, let’s really screw with all those addicted knitters and throw in a pinch of baby poop yellow! Ha Ha Ha, do you think they’ll buy it?? Of course they’ll buy it!! They are like crack addicts. They can’t control themselves.” And then they add an extra knot in the skein, just to make us all extra crazy.

So, yes, I bought ten skeins of the lovely 246 with the ugly yellow and now I need a pattern. Any ideas out there? I did a quick search of Ravelry and found mostly the lovely Noro striped scarf, designed by Jared and much loved by the Yarn Harlot. But honestly, I think I have plenty of scarfs. Maybe another Klaralund? Or a Clapotis? Maybe a Gesta?

Fellow addicts, I need your advice.

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It’s Not the Journey, It’s the Destination

We pulled into the parking lot just as the dashboard clock blinked from 9:59 to 10:00 a.m. I was extremely grateful when I saw that ours was the second car in the lot, and that the lovely ladies at Webs would not have to actually unlock the front door for us. Something about never wanting to be the first to arrive at a party I guess.

All I can say is Wow. WOW. WOW. WOW.

For those that have been, you know what I mean. For those that haven’t yet made the pilgrimage to yarn mecca, I hope you someday find your way.

It is difficult to describe how overwhelming it was to be surrounded by so many skeins of gorgeous yarn, all of which I wanted to KNIT RIGHT NOW. I’m serious. They have these lovely high tables and cushioned bar seats all around just beckoning you to wind up a skein, grab some needles off the wall display and get to work. It was hard to restrain myself.

I splurged and bought two Addi Turbo circs for sock knitting. And yes, there was just a teensy bit of stash enhancement – really I tried to control myself. Some Noro Silk Garden for a multidirectional scarf, some for me and some for my co-worker and fellow knitter who was back at the office. It is always fun to shop with other people’s money, isn’t it?? Some Araucania Multy for socks. Some Trekking XXL for socks. And some Valley Yarns hand dyed laceweight for a stole.

Despite the title of this post, the journey was also very enjoyable. (And it’s less than 2 hours from home, who knew??) Thank you Cheryl for doing the driving and thank you Carol (the awesome crocheter) for giving up the front seat. It was a fun fun day and I am looking forward to making the trip again!

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I Am So Doing This Again

My hand dyed yarn was hanging in the kitchen drying today. I kept walking by it, squeezing it and wishing it would just DRY FASTER! Finally, the temptation was too great, and I wound it up into a beautiful yarn cake with my new ball winder and swift. (Most fun toy ever!)

When I picked up the finished cake I had to admit it was still a little damp. Then I started to worry that all my beautiful hand dyed yarn would get all moldy and smelly, so I unwound it, from the outside of the ball, back onto the swift, and now have this very pretty skein.

I can’t believe I actually created something so pretty. And I can’t wait to do this again.

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Hand Dyed Yarn!

Suffice it to say I feel a bit foolish after yesterday’s somewhat sappy and romantic post. Yes, Fenway is a beauty, but that game was butt-ugly after Mr. Gagne made his appearance.

Moving on to actual beautiful things, I will share with you pictures of my first yarn-dying adventure. Thanks go to my knitting addicted but blogless friend Cheryl who did all the preparation and organizing. She magically transformed her massive garage into a lovely yarn dying studio.

First we mixed up the dyes and soaked our yarn. After the yarn bloomed, we jumped right into the painting. I was having so much with the whole thing, that I didn’t stop to take photos until is was all wrapped and ready for steaming.

Here is Cheryl warping her yarn in preparation of dying it in a self-striping pattern. Cheryl made the warping board herself, using directions provided by Scout. The yarn is Trekking Natural from Carodan Farms. The dyes are Jacquard Acid Dyes from Knit Picks.

You can see her hand-painted variegated wrapped and ready for the steaming too.

Here our creations are put into the steamer. And steam they did. About 20 minutes into the process, Cheryl’s husband noticed the smell of steamy wool (very stinky!) and came to alert us of the mess we were making in the kitchen. Nothing major really, just a lot of water. We turned down the heat and let the yarn cook for another 20 minutes or so.

We rinsed it well with cold water.

And admired the very vivid colors.

And hung our masterpieces up to dry.

I didn’t get a picture of the completed self-striping yarn, but hopefully can show you the finished product in a later post.

This was a fun, fun afternoon! And before I forget, special thanks to Sarge, who supervised all of our activities. He is such a good boy!

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Insomnia Induced Blog Post

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Mohair. You are a warm and fuzzy type who works well with others, doing your share without being too weighty. You can be stubborn and absolutely refuse to change your position once it is set, but that’s okay since you are good at covering up your mistakes.

Take this quiz!

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