Kniftybits's Blog

All knitting, all the time.

Why Can’t I Pet the Alpaca? July 19, 2011

While visiting my dear friends in Monument, Colorado we spent one afternoon admiring yarn and houses. I bought some yarn, but no houses. For our first stop, we arrived at the Monument weekly farmers market with minutes to spare, which is all I need to inflict damage to my bank balance! Though, not as much as if I’d bought a house. See, it’s all about perspective.

I immediately rushed to the Tompkins Alpaca Pride booth. This local alpaca farm is owned and operated by Martin and Julie Tompkins. The previous week my friend posted a picture of the yarn spinner half of this alapaca operation, Julie, spinning. During my visit she was away visiting family, but an ethereal purple-blue yarn she spun and hand dyed caught my eye.

Resistance is futile.

As did the camera shy alpaca adjoining the booth. Every time I am face to face with an alpaca I am reminded how adorable they are. Martin and I discussed the ease of caring for alpacas. I asked if they would let him pet them or if they were standoffish like sheep. More like sheep, apparently, so I wouldn’t be petting an alpaca.

"Yes, I am adorable!" He seemed to say.

Mr. Touch-me-not was fun to watch and sort of reminded me of a dog. When a coffee can of treats was shaken he dropped whatever he was doing (eating hay and ignoring me) and hurried right over. I also discovered they have a cleft upper lip that opens, which was interesting. And when he gets anxious he makes a high pitched whine of concern, which he did when Martin started packing up the stall. He was immediately at the side of his pen and very concerned that he was being left here with all these strangers.

By the by, there are alpaca farms all over Colorado. We drove by at least four in the Monument area.

I purchase one skein of worsted weight yarn, which has 98.3 yards. What do you think I should do with it?

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Schoppel Wolle Flying Saucer Yarn Review December 29, 2010

“This is what we just ordered in,” the LYS owner tantalized, while waving an open catalogue in hypnotizing concentric circles before my eyes.

“Ooooh,” I murmured, mesmerized by the pictured socks. “How do they do that? The sock looks tie dyed.”

“It’s how they dye the yarn.” She snapped the book away before my ribbon of drool hit the page.

“Me want yarn.”

“I’ll call you when it comes in.”

My current sock project now seemed boring and insipid.

Days later…What was taking so long?!?!?!  It was like waiting for a phone call after a first date! I was tempted to check for a dial tone.

An eternity (one week) later and Schoppel Wolle Flying Saucer (Schoppel Wolle Fliegende Untertasse) sock yarn was in. I raced to the store, family in tow with strict instructions to run interference, convinced there would be a stampede of knitters with sock needles brandished like bulls horns. As I threw open the yarn shop door my lingering question of how a knitter achieved matching socks with such unique self striping was revealed.  Two strands of yarn wrapped around a cardboard tube, like a wide ribbon bobbin. They were hand dyed at the same time, said the tube. How clever! I thought, unaware of the hours of torture awaiting me.

Oh, what to choose? Six colorway options, but which was best? After thirty minutes of deliberation and the realization that they don’t actually tell you which color you held, you guess based on the pictures of finished socks on the bobbin, a feat not as easy as it sounds, I left with two. His and hers.

Once home I immediately set to balling the yarn into usable balls so I could abandon my lame project and start this long-awaited yarn.

“Please, will you help me,” I implored my husband.

For every pleasure there is a pain. Cake = fat thighs.  Dog petting = hair clean up.  Running = being chased by a bear. (Wait, that may just be me.)

And for Schoppel Wolle Flying Saucer sock yarn that pain is balling.

We jabbed a knitting needle through the hole in the center of the tube. The instructions said to hang it from a window handle, but my windows don’t have handles so we suspended it between stacks of books. One leg cramp, two long hours, four squinty eyes, seven yarn tangles, and twelve grumbled curses later and we were done. Both literally and figuratively.

I would like to take this moment to assure Schoppel Wolle  that I would be perfectly content to buy two bagged balls of yarn with a statement that they matched. I would gladly believe you as long as it meant I didn’t have to torture myself and my husband with balling this yarn. Ever. AGAIN!

Months later when we felt up to balling the second bobbin of Schoppel Wolle Flying Saucer my husband growled, “You are never to buy this yarn again.”

Thus Schoppel Wolle Flying Saucer is part awesome yarn, part torture device.

That said once the balling is done, knitting it is a dream.  Perfectly smooth and easy to knit, I haven’t encountered any knots that would disrupt the patterning and it is delightful to see the pattern develop.

I was jubilant when I finished my husband’s pair. They aren’t quite identical due to variations in knitting tension and figuring our where to turn the heel so that the same part of the pattern faced forward was a little challenging, but they are still fabulous! Unfortunately, I knit the second pair toe-up and while the patterning worked for the foot, it didn’t work so well for the leg.  Check out the pic to see how they each turned out.  One of my lovely readers shared a very helpful link for those who want to maximize this yarns potential.

Have you encountered this yarn? What did you think?

Technical details:

75% Wool 25% Nylon, 2-3mm needles, 100 g, 459 yards

(I used 2.5 mm needles)

 

Sock on the left was toe-up, sock on the right top-down.

 

Do ya wanna Can Can? September 30, 2010

I am not generally one for novelty yarns – sure they made me giddy inside as a new knitter, but as I progressed I became interested in showing off my work more than hiding it in fringe, eyelashes, bobbly bits, etc.  However, when a friend of mine who owns a craft store brought in a tantalizing sample of Creative Can Can by Rico Design I was intrigued.

Visions of whipping out fabulous swishy scarves with a minimum of effort danced in my head.  I pictured my cold necked friends, long deprived of hand knit scarves, wondering how I managed such a complex looking scarf and nominating me for knitting sainthood, while I scuffed my shoe and humbly told them it was worth it for them.

Remember in my Don’t Take My Needles Away post I said I took a scarf to Croatia?  Well, this is the scarf I took.  So, it might have been the fact that I was freezing, hacking on second hand smoke while listening to Croatian techno music and choking on hooch from a Coke bottle foisted on me by the “tour guide” while trapped on a dilapidated boat in the middle of the Adriatic that made the sting of disappointment so keen as I realized that this wasn’t going to be the quick and easy scarf I dreamed of.

I thought it would be a simple matter of knitting the scarf and then fluffing out the ruffles.  To my chagrin, I discovered that you must open/unfurl (for lack of a better word) the yarn and carefully knit into the top edge of the yarn placing each stitch about 4 centimeters or 1.5 inches apart.  Basically, I haven’t knit this slow since my beginning days of knitting.  See pictures below:

Unfurling the yarn before knitting.

Knitting into the top edge of the yarn.

Other challenges:  Several times I had to untwist the yarn (and I’m not talking one or two twists either), but I’m not sure if that was caused by user error, I’ll let you know if/when I work up the other two balls I bought.  Also, at one point the ribbon tore, the top edge separating from the rest, so I had to break the yarn and start again, lest the whole thing unravel.  I think my talon-like thumbnail was the culprit as I tried to find a quicker way to open the yarn.

In the end it took me probably six hours to finish the scarf – my dreams of a quick scarf were dashed on the cruel rocks of reality.

Don’t get me wrong, the finished scarf is full of fun, fabulous frippery.  And if you don’t go into it with the expectations I had (which, now you won’t, because you know what to expect) you can’t be disappointed.

But I wonder, can you really tell that it’s hand knit?

Completed Creative Can Can Scarf

Technical details:

Each 200g ball of Rico Design Creative Can Can yarn will make a good sized scarf.  The yarn is made out of acrylic and the yarn band has instructions for knitting the scarf I knit.  I followed them exactly, down to the 7 cast on stitches (which, interestingly isn’t done with a traditional cast on, but by inserting the needle through the yarn at the top edge). I used 7 mm knitting needles.  The scarf can be washed on permanent press, cold.  Lay flat to dry.  Do not tumble dry, dry clean, or iron.

I am curious to hear what you think about this yarn.  If you’ve given it a try, leave a comment and let me know what you thought. 🙂