Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Road Maps - Blizzard 2015 Edition - SilverSpun Review

Greetings from Western Connecticut where the Blizzard of 2015 has blanketed much of the northeast.  All told, we probably had about 8-10 inches here, and the further east and north you travel, those amounts are double that or more!  We had a travel ban here in the state, so it was a work-from-home day, which did allow for some knitting time earlier today and this evening.  It's amazing how much more time there is in a day when you aren't spending so much of it in the car!

Anyway, as you may recall, back in Episode 84 I mentioned that I was planning to knit myself a pair of Connectivity Gloves by Mari Chiba from Knitty Deep Fall 2014.  The generous folks over at Feel Good Yarn Company had sent me a skein of their Silver Spun yarn to try out, and this is one of the patterns that features this unique yarn.  (As with all reviews appearing on the podcast or here on the blog, opinions are my own).  The SilverSpun is a sport weight yarn made of 87% American made combed cotton, 11% pure silver, and 2% lycra.  It knits up at 23-26 stitches over 4 inches.  The yarn comes in regular skeins weighing in at 50 grams with 173 yards for $28 or mini-skeins weighing in at 14 grams with 50 yards for $12.50 directly from Feel Good Yarn Company.  Among other benefits, such as being anti-bacterial and thermal, one of the best parts about this yarn is the conductivity of the silver that allows you to use your touch screen devices!  How cool is that?

Silver Spun

Now, during these bigger snow storms, I have been known to snap quite a few photos while outside, and as an avid iPhone user, that usually meant taking off my gloves or mittens to control the phone.  Sure, I know that once the camera is open, I can snap a photo using the volume control buttons on the side.  But what if I want to post that photo to Instagram RIGHT NOW and can't wait to get inside?  Well that's where these mitts will come in handy.  Priorities, right?

Silver Spun

The gloves combine a worsted weight yarn for the hands and the sport weight SilverSpun for the fingers.  You have the option of knitting a long flap that you can unfold to cover your fingers or fold back when using your device.  In keeping with my 2015 goal of knitting from stash, I dug out some leftover Jill Draper Makes Stuff Hudson in the Amethyst color way from last year's Lucy Hat to use for the hands and I was well on my way.

In terms of knitting with the SilverSpun yarn, it was a bit of a different experience than knitting with 100% cotton yarns that you're probably used to. You know how working with cotton goes - very little give and it being hard on your hands.  The SilverSpun, probably due to the lycra content, had a bit more give and was not as hard on the hands while knitting.  It was still not as bouncy as knitting with wool, but overall a much nicer cotton experience.

Silver Spun

Now onto the fun part - how did the fingers of the mitts fare when using the touch screen on my iPad and iPhone?  Well what if I told you I typed this sentence on the iPad while wearing the mitt? (Side note - do you know how difficult it is to video tape oneself typing?)

Pretty cool, huh? Sure it may not be as reactive as one's bare hand, but it sure beats taking off your glove when you just have to use your phone. It is mentioned in the pattern, but it's worth repeating - you'll want to knit the fingers with negative ease so they are tight to your skin to maximize the conductivity of the silver.  As an aside, for those of you who use the fingerprint recognition technology, that won't work with the gloves on since the silver only conducts the... well whatever it is in your fingers that makes the touch screen work. It does not capture your unique fingerprint to open your device.  I tried

The materials provided to me from Feel Good Yarn Company mention that the yarn is hand wash only, and the silver is permanently adhered to the yarn so that it will not wash away. For those who may be concerned about tarnishing, the silver will not tarnish as long as you use your handknit item regularly.  I'll have to report back next winter on that one.

Silver Spun

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I've only finished one glove of the pair, but I just couldn't wait any longer to share my experience knitting with the yarn and testing out the glove with my devices. As I was knitting my way through each finger, I'd stop and try it out on my phone or iPad, with Carlos watching in amazement as I did. If I have enough leftover, I may have to knit him some gloves, too.

Overall, I am quite pleased with this yarn. It was pleasant to knit and the technology is just fascinating - even if I don't quite understand it completely.

Silver Spun

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Commuter Knitter - Episode 87 - Quite Literal

This week I keep tally of my WIPs, mention some beach-inspired yarn, and recap Vogue Knitting Live 2015 - enjoy!

Made it to #vklive!

You've Arrived At Your Destination
Your Heart is Full of Unwashed Socks - You're a Mean One socks
Straight as an Arrow Hat in Unwind Yarn Company Touring DK
I mention Club Dragonfly

Dad's Hat
Sorin by IrishGirlieKnits in Dragonfly Fibers Corgi
My Very Irish Hat
Evergreen Socks by Madeline Gannon of The Little Mount Yarn Company  The hashtag is #EvergreenSocksKAL on Instagram.  I am knitting these out of Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock in Giving Tree
King of the Forest
Cross Stitch pattern for Carlos's Valentine's Day gift

Road Maps
Be sure to keep an eye on the blog for reviews and other posts coming out on a more regular basis.
Last week, I reviewed A Good Yarn Sarasota's Exclusive Yarn from Lorna's Laces
Lorna's Laces

Road Trips
Vogue Knitting Live - Seamless Knit Doll class with Susan B. Anderson (and BostonJen!)
Mary, Millie, and Morgan
Seamless Doll Class VKL
We met up with Maria from Subway Knits and Kristen from Yarngasm in the One Geek to Craft Them All booth
VKLive 2015
The Stephen & Steven Mix Tape Tour fashion show was a lot of fun!
Some highlights from the @westknits and @stevenbe #mixtapetour at #vklive

Kismet Fiber Works
VKLive Haul 2015

The Yarn Company
Socks that Rock

Come Find me on the Interwebs
Ravelry - ndjen04
Ravelry Group - Commuter Knitter Podcast
Twitter - @CommuterKnitter
Facebook - Commuter Knitter
Email - commuterknitter@gmail.com
Instagram - ndjen04

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Commuter Knitter - Episode 86 - Annual Airing Out of The Stash

The first episode of 2015 recorded from the comfort of my living room.  I mention that I am wearing my Dark & Stormy to keep warm

You've Arrived At Your Destination
Your Heart is Full of Unwashed Socks - You're a Mean One socks
Spacious OMG Heel by Megan Williams from the Expanding CommuKnitty socks.  I couldn't find a free-standing pattern for this version of the OMG heel, but if there is one, please let me know.
Judy's Magic Cast On
Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off

Dad's Hat
WIPs, WIPs, and more WIPs - #WIPcrackin15 and #WIPknitdown2015
I mention Sarah from In a sKnit and Amy from Stockinette Zombies


Needle Inventory:
Finally tallying up all the knitting needles. Which clearly calls for a spreadsheet.

Trip Planner
King of the Forest
Cross Stitch pattern for Carlos's Valentine's Day gift

Commuter Knitter Finish-along - winners announced
Wollmeise from my stash

Annual Airing Out of the Stash:
Flash the Stash - 2015

All put away:
Yarn in its Place

My Yarn Stash March 2007:
Some of my stash

Flash Your Stash thread on Ravelry

Road Maps
Be sure to keep an eye on the blog for reviews and other posts coming out on a more regular basis.
Last week, I reviewed Manos Lace
Manos Lace

Road Trips
Vogue Knitting Live - Seamless Knit Doll class with Susan B. Anderson (and BostonJen!)

Welcome to any new listeners who have recently found the podcast. And thank you to the Knitmores for featuring the show in their 12 Days of Podcasts last week!

Come Find me on the Interwebs
Ravelry - ndjen04
Ravelry Group - Commuter Knitter Podcast
Twitter - @CommuterKnitter
Facebook - Commuter Knitter
Email - commuterknitter@gmail.com
Instagram - ndjen04

Road Maps - A Review of A Good Yarn Exclusive!

As I am writing this post, winter has not quite set in her in New England (50*F on Christmas Eve!) but the calendar tells me it's coming. (There is some sort of Game of Thrones reference in there that goes over the head of this gal who doesn't watch the show…)  Eventually when those cold temperatures set in, wouldn't it be nice to dream of some place warm and sunny?**  Well A Good Yarn Sarasota has just the solution to those winter blues!  The yarn shop has teamed up with several yarn companies to create color ways exclusive to A Good Yarn inspired by the oceanfront lifestyle of western Florida.  I was fortunate enough to receive a lovely skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Grape Jelly from A Good Yarn for review.  As long-time listeners of the podcast and readers of the blog know, all opinions are my own.

There are currently a dozen or so exclusive color ways available on the newly revamped shop site.  Reading those inspiration descriptions and seeing the beautiful yarns, can't you just picture yourself on a warm beach with a fruity, tropical drink?  Now, I am not much of a beach-goer but it sounds heavenly as winter knocks on the door.

Lorna's Laces

When A Good Yarn sent me this skein, they included a photo of the inspiration - a blue/purple jelly fish.  Isn't the yarn almost a perfect match?  I am thinking that a fun, textured pair of socks would be perfect to emulate the texture of the bottom part of the jelly fish, right? I love the gorgeous lilac tones that are exquisitely paired with the sky blue and subtle gray.

Lorna's Laces

The Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock is an 80% superwash merino wool, 20% nylon blend fingering weight yarn with 430 yards to 100 grams per skein.  The recommended gauge is 7 stitches to the inch on US 1 needles, so pretty much a standard sock yarn.  Washing instructions, per the label, are to machine wash cold, machine dry until damp, lay flat to finish.  A Good Yarn charges $26 per skein, which is fairly standard for this yarn.

As Shepherd Sock was one of the first sock yarns I had purchased in my earlier days of knitting in the mid-2000s, I recall that the skeins used to be 50 grams and around 200 yards.  This 100 gram put-up means you can get a whole pair of socks or a fingering weight shawl from one skein, which is quite convenient. I have used this base on a couple projects in the past and have been quite pleased with the colors, and how the yarn has held up over the years. It is truly one of those classic, staple sock yarns that stands the test of time.  And in fun colors? A win-win all around!

Lorna's Laces

So if you are traveling to Florida to escape the cold, perhaps a trip to A Good Yarn Sarasota will provide just the trick.  Or if you can't catch a plane - you can shop right on their website to check out these exclusive colors and bring some of that Florida sun to wherever you are hunkering down this winter.

Happy Knitting!

**Edit - As this entry will post January 7th, the frigid air has arrived to New England with bitter cold and wind chills in the negative territory.  I knew it wasn't far...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Episode 85 - Looking at 2014 in the Rearview Mirror

A retrospective of my 2014 yarn crafting adventures and a look ahead to 2015.  Recorded on Monday, December 29th, 2014.  Released January 1, 2015 - Happy New Year!

Santa came! Merry Christmas! 🎅🎄

You've Arrived At Your Destination
2014 Finished Objects (no, you cannot do the same organizing in the stash page that you can in the project page and queue)
4 pairs of socks - 3 for me, 1 for Carlos
2 sweaters - Hitofude and Ginny's Cardigan
3 kids' sweaters
1 hat
1 cowl
1 bedspread

Mario Blanket

I mention The Knit Girllls Stash Dash, the Prairie Girls Knit & Spin podcast and their "Legend-Prairie" project.


14 WIPs started in 2014
Pomme de pin
6 pairs Socks, socks and more socks
2 hats
1 Kids' sweater
1 pair mitts
1 shawl

Rearview Mirror - 2014 Goals
Bring back old WIPs - of the 12 FOs this year, 3 were old WIPs, but the Mario Blanket should count for quite a few!
More socks for me - 3 new pairs added to the sock drawer
Thoughtful with yarn purchases - I did well up until recently
Expand my skills
The one I couldn't remember was to knit more sweaters for myself - finished 2 and cast on 3 more

Trip Planner - 2015 Goals

Knit through my 30 (!!) WIPs - tackle them one at a time to chip away at them
Knit from stash
Knit from pattern library
More socks for Carlos
Sweater or vest for Carlos
Finish cross stitch projects

Road Map to Achieve 2015 Goals
Search within myself - a theme for me both inside and outside my crafting life
Shopping from my WIPs, stash and pattern library

Road Trips
CT Sheep and Wool
Stitch n Pitch
Stitches East (which, sadly, has been cancelled for 2015 in Hartford)

Thank you to all of you for a wonderful 2014 and a great year for the podcast despite the bumpy ride

Come Find me on the Interwebs
Ravelry - ndjen04
Ravelry Group - Commuter Knitter Podcast
Twitter - @CommuterKnitter
Facebook - Commuter Knitter
Email - commuterknitter@gmail.com
Instagram - ndjen04

Road Maps - A Review of Manos Lace

Manos Lace

After a bit of a bumpy fall, I am glad to be back here on the blog to share with you another beautiful yarn that I was sent for review.  Today, I bring you Manos Lace, a 70% baby alpaca, 25% silk, 5% cashmere blend lace weight yarn from Manos del Uruguay.  How is that for decadence after the holidays?  I'd like to thank Manos' US Distributor, Fairmount Fibers, LTD, for sending me this skein of yarn for review.  As always, opinions stated here are my own.

Before I dive into the yarn itself, I wanted to tell you a bit more about Manos del Uruguay.  Whenever I receive a skein of yarn, needles, books, etc. from a company with which I have not worked before, I always like to dig deeper to find out more about that company - what is their story?  And Manos' story is quite the fascinating one.  The label gives you a bit of background, but I encourage you to read more about Manos (which means hands in Spanish) on their website as well as the Fairmount site.  Formed in 1968, the Manos Cooperatives started with five women who wanted to create opportunities for women in a country where there weren't many.  It remains a non-profit organization and in 2009 was accepted into the World Fair Trade Organization.  Today, the company consists of 13 different cooperatives employing over 350 craftswomen in 19 localities within Uruguay.  As stated on the Fairmount Fibers website about what it means to purchase Manos yarn:

With each purchased skein of Manos del Uruguay yarn you will be helping a woman to support her family. Each skein is signed, so you will know who made your yarn, and from which village it came. You will be supporting the hand-crafted rather than mass-produced, and contributing to an economy where the workers control of the means of production. You, as a handknitter, crocheter or weaver, will be contributing to women’s careers in harmony with family life, and contributing to the landscape, and cultural heritage of Uruguay.

Manos Lace

Each skein of Lace weighs 1.75 oz, or 50 grams and contains 439 yards or 400 meters.  The gauge is 32 stitches over 4" or 10 cm on US size 2 or 2.75 mm needles.  The washing instructions are to hand wash and dry flat.  The particular skein I received came from the Fraile Cooperative and was made by Nina.

Manos Lace

I wish there were a way that I could share the softness of this yarn with you through the computer screen because I doubt there are sufficient words to adequately describe how lovely this yarn feels against the skin.  As the tag describes, "Manos Lace is an opulent blend of three precious fibers, for your finest heirloom lace projects."  Let me just say - it feels like a cloud with a very slight halo.  Which I suppose one would expect from a baby alpaca, silk, cashmere blend.

Manos Lace

Can we talk about color for a moment? I was able to choose the Leprechaun color way that was sent to me (Go Irish!) and let me tell you that the colors you see on the computer screen just barely give you the depth of the actual color when you see the skein in person.  The yarn is kettle dyed by hand "to create a marbleized, subtly striated effect." I don't think my camera can accurately capture the subtle streaks within the yarn.  The silk content also adds a beautiful sheen, which adds to the depth of color.  Absolutely luscious.

Manos Lace

As someone who rarely, if ever, knits with lace weight yarn, I was curious about yardage requirements for a lace project.  I mean, I know that approximately 400 yards of fingering weight will yield an average pair of socks, but what can you knit with 439 yards in a fine lace yarn?  So I ran an advanced search on Ravelry and was surprised to find over 1700 patterns for lace weight yarn requiring 300-450 yards.  I will admit that I had to stop myself from going down that rabbit hole and adding even more patterns to my ever-growing queue.

Manos Lace

I also did a quick internet search to find out how much this yarn would cost.  Such a luxurious blend, I expected maybe $30 a skein and again was surprised that many retailers here in the US were selling the yarn for around $18-20 a skein.  Not too shabby.

So if you want to continue indulging after the holidays, I would recommend checking out to see if an LYS near you carries this yarn so you can hold it, touch it, and see it in person because the written words and still photos do not capture the beauty of the skein sitting here on my desk.


Happy New Year!