“luxury must be comfortable . . .”

Posted on Posted in designing, lace/shawls, projects, spinning and fiber

luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.
—coco chanel

mink/cashmere or camel/silk??
i can’t decide which to talk about first . . . they both rank in the class of great fiber prøn.
get your drool rags out—it’s going to be one of those posts.

let’s go in chronological order.

saturday, after a day of office work and one very long nap, i felt restless when i finally sat down to knit—i just couldn’t attach myself one thing or the other. i ended up spending a little time on several different pieces, then looked through some stitch books to glean ideas for upcoming projects, then went back to knitting.

i probably made the most progress on the mink/cashmere neckwarmer that i’d started in the great northern yarns mink/cashmere DK, getting about two-thirds of it knit in just an hour or so

and finishing it up last night. after testing a few patterns in the yarn, i chose this one because it shows off the soft fiber so well—the motif makes beautiful hills and valleys in the fabric that show the fiber to advantage. the rich, rounded shapes further enhance the yarn, radiating softness and touchability (don’t you just want to grab it in both hands and rub your face in it?).

YUM! it still needs blocking, but i know my class today will want to touch it; i can wash it this evening.

it’s a simple piece to knit in a few hours and i had lots of yarn left over, which just begged to be knit into a pair of matching mitts

(either that, or it was my hands begging for mink cocoons, heh).

i’m really impressed with the quality of the yarn, especially at the price point (a serious bargain, if you ask me). as with many yarns spun from luxury fibers, the mink/cashmere blend blooms with a glorious halo fiber when you work with it, wash it, and wear it, as the ends are loosened from a light coat of spinning oil applied at the mill.

though i obviously haven’t worn these pieces, and can’t offer information yet about the yarn’s durability, i did do quite a bit of ripping and reknitting with one section of the yarn while swatching to test out it’s strength.

here you can see my (unwashed) swatch in the foreground, looking a bit fuzzier than the just-knit neckwarmer fabric in the background. the fibers do not feel prickly against the skin and i’m thinking that their rounded shape is the reason (alpaca, on the other hand, remains stiffly straight when it blooms and that might be why i find it ticklish).

the yarn held together very nicely under that sort of abuse. the fuzzy surface did not ball up and get tangled or matted, but recovered well to regain a consistent halo.

so, while i wouldn’t wear these mitts to ride my bike or haul wood, i think they will do very well for keeping my hands warm in less strenuous situations. you can read a more in-depth article about this yarn and its qualities by visiting clara’s review of the product this past june.

for our purposes, let’s just stop at saying it’s divine.

other little knits i frittered away time on that evening included my green cardigan

which i spent all of 30 minutes on, i swear. last night i added another (maybe) 30 more. i was just too distracted to really dig in. maybe tonight i’ll sit down and finish this other front piece.

i worked on socks in front of the TV late on both nights (i’m sticking to my promise to finish some of them soon). the gray cabled one in zen yarn garden squooshy (colorway silver moon) is now ready for toe shaping, but i was too tired last night to start it.

i did have david try it on, once it got to this length. and it fits, yay.
i was a little worried about it being too small with the cables and all, but it’s ok; a little snug going over the heel but not a tug-o-war or anything. and he likes it.

my friend gail did a beautiful test-knit of these socks in a completely different (but gorgeous) colorway—go check them out at her blog. thank you gail!

which brings us to sunday morning and our weekly spinning class

mmm, spinning fiber . . .

but first, we need spinners and they always arrive in a happy state, ready to laugh and/or make mischief. anne marie showed up smiling in her completed aztec mazes sweater

which she’s been test knitting, along with barb and anne c.
doesn’t it look great on her? we love the gold colorway, a new and different choice for her; she wasn’t sure about it at first, but i think it’s a good one and she likes it a lot now.

this, of course, means that the pattern is nearly ready for release—tana is giving it a final review—we’re planning to release it early next week, in time for chris to sell in the briar rose booth at rhinebeck (be sure to visit her booth there; she’s got some wonderful yarn and lots of it).
it will also be available in our pattern shop.

anne maries’s maze and jackie sweaters will be on display at the booth as well; she generously offered to lend them to chris for the show.

barb arrived with her maze sweater in progress

she actually had it knit all the way to the shoulders (her sleeves are done, too) and then hit a speed bump when she discovered she missed a row in the pattern (which none of us can see). like many of us, this did not sit well with her at all and after class yesterday, she ripped all the way back (YES, to the beginning of the HEM) and reknit it. i know—all you can do is shake your head, right?

but it’s her sweater; she’s gotta do what she’s gotta do (and her email report this morning is quite positive). amazingly, she’s already got it knit back to the yokes (did i mention she’s fast??)
barb wanted a lighter-weight sweater and chose the lanas puras melosa fingering yarn to knit hers, which is a close match to the yarn i used in my gray version.

once we looked at everyone’s sweater (susan and linda brought theirs too and susan actually spent most of the class knitting instead of spinning. there’s just no controlling them . . .) we finally got don to spinning.

linda is fascinated with my big wheel and grabbed hold of the camera to take a few shots to share. one thing i can’t do is spin and take pictures at the same time. i felt a lot more comfortable with the wheel this week and picked up right where i left off—i expected to struggle a bit getting started, but no.

i’m still spinning with this lovely 50/50 camel/silk blend from a verb for keeping warm (taboo colorway).

i’m trying again for a true laceweight yarn, so i’m spinning fine, which takes some concentration, especially on the bigger, faster wheel.

i think i mentioned that this fiber is prepared as a loosely-combined blend—that is, it’s less homgenous than some blends, with sometimes-heavy veins of pure silk (the dyed fiber) and pure camel (the natural caramel-colored fiber) running throughout

camel and silk have very different staple lengths, so i have to concentrate more and vary the length of my drafting triangle as needed. this could be frustrating if you have trouble “listening with your fingers”.

the silkier parts are a little easier for me to spin, while hitting a camel part can make me lose my rhythm. but once i got to know the fiber and could feel changes coming (truly, it’s like putting your ear to a wire to listen for a sound coming), i was more able to adjust with instinct.

the variations in the spun fiber are endless; i love the dyed bits juxtaposed against the natural camel fleece. i can’t wait to see what it looks like plied. maybe i’ll be able to get some spinning in at night this week—i’d be awfully happy to have this yarn finished before i leave for rhinebeck.

now that the garden is offering just a handful of this and that every few days and the pressure to take care of fresh produce right away is also off, i’m finding a few extra hours here and there for fiber work, which is so nice. preserving food can be like a demanding child sometimes . . .

we cooked the last of the fresh garden vegetables in our dinner the other night. on sunday afternoon, i dried a couple sheets of cherry tomatoes, made a walnut/black olive/dried tomato pesto, and did up some stuffed peppers with the last big picking of those. the temperatures have been consistently in the low 40s at night and about ten degrees higher during the day. maybe we’ll get a few more tomatoes; certainly, we’ll have greens until it freezes outside. but nothing we can’t handle.

we fixed some pasta for dinner with fresh greens and the pesto, which was fab—really, really yummy. we’ve got soup made, leftover thai curry, and tomato sauce to eat during the week. it gets dark noticeably early and the heat comes on every day now—fall is here.

18 thoughts on ““luxury must be comfortable . . .”

  1. I’m so very, VERY excited that the Great Northern Mink/Cashmere DK yarn is animal friendly! What a great way to enjoy the unbridled luxury of mink without harming the creature it came from.

  2. Yay! Can’t wait for the new neck warmer and mitts patterns. I’ve got the yarn and am ready to go! It’s wonderful. I’ve started a couple of times on something else that didn’t work out and it ripped back just fine. Sooooo soft.

  3. That’s going to be some gorgeous laceweight!!! The mink cashmere is gorgeous too. Nice to know about the hairs, besides being allergic to alpaca it itches the heck out of me!

  4. LOVE the maze sweater! I’m going to have to give this one a go. I just finished a wrap in Briar Rose Josephine, and I love Chris’s fibers and colors.

    Oh, and I see your neighbor has been busy decorating!! Can’t wait to see more photos – I totally love this time of year and all the traditions that come with it.

  5. Anne, I love the cowl and can’t wait for the pattern. When Clara wrote about the mink I was tempted, but now…oh my!
    And please tell Anne Marie how beautiful her Maize Sweater is on her. Great job!

  6. Wonderful quote from Coco Chanel.

    The maze sweater is gorgeous–any chance you’re going to make a cardigan version?

  7. Anne, I just can’t tell you how excited I get reading your posts. You make me proud to be a knitter. I hope to be half as good as you someday! 🙂

  8. I love your explanations of your spinning and staple length…It just got me thinking about the stuff I am working on! It makes sense that different fiber would have different properties!

    you really do have to slow down and pay attention.

    Is your towel to prevent a lap full of fluff?
    just wondering…I should try that! I have to de fuzz after every play date I have!

  9. I love that spinning you’re doing! I’ve been missing my wheel something awful, but wanting to finish this sweater and get some new yarn OTN (heh). But once that’s going, I think you’ve inspired me to sit down and spin!

  10. ok Anne…how much yarn am I going to need for the mink mitts/cowl pattern? I’ll just surrender and order the yarn now while I’m waiting for the pattern…

  11. I wish I could spin as well as you! I had a nightmare with singles breaking/ overtwisting when trying to spin my first sock yarn the other day.

  12. Loving the leaf in mink cowl!! Looks like I need to race Lori to the purchase site! LOL!!

    Test knitting your lovely designs is always a pleasure…Thank YOU!!! I love these socks!!

    The yarn from the camel/silk blend is lovely! I can’t wait to see what it will become!

  13. Oh, oh, what Miss T said! The sweater is lovely as-is, but I just don’t do pullovers. (Watch, the next thing I knit will be a pullover that makes a liar out of me.)

    Also, the shot of you through the wheel is awesome.

  14. Hi Anne – is it not exhilarating to spin on that Merlin Tree? I have #47 of 50 and it makes the loveliest 3 ply sock yarn… You should join the Ravelry forum “CPW lovers”, we are crazy for the antique forebears of that Quebec wheel.
    I just finished Ice Fantasia, in a sort of sterling silver color, what a lovely piece. I have to find time to block it.

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