Narcissistic Unicorn

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I’ve dated some narcissistic unicorns in my time–men who were legends in their own minds. But this “Narcissistic Unicorn” from Nest Fiber Studio is prettier and way more satisfying.  Nest fibers and colors really live up to the hype. I’ve never seen a more devoted group of spinners on Ravelry, and now I can see why. This is probably one of the most amazing top I’ve ever spun, the kind that makes you seem like a better spinner than you really are.  The superwash merino slipped through my fingers, feathery light and silky smooth.  The photo above does not capture just how crisp and vibrant the colors are.

This 4oz worsted spun 2-ply will probably become leg warmers for Little A. She was so excited about this yarn because it had the word “unicorn” in it. Someday soon I’m going to have to break it to her that unicorns are not all that.

Rustic Lace Cowl

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I am pretty good about not buying yarn impulsively. I will buy yarn if I already have a project in mind or if I have just stumbled upon an amazing sale that is too good to pass up. Otherwise, I’m content to admire yarn from afar. When we visited The Tin Smith’s Wife, a darling yarn store with an impressive inventory, in Comfort a few months ago, I came across Fibre Company’s Acadia, a merino, silk and alpaca blend. There was something seductive about its luster and rustic silkiness that I couldn’t resist buying two skeins in “Sand,” even though I had no goal or project in mind. This open-ended approach to knitting usually causes some distress, reminding me that I’m a bit of a control freak Type-A at heart.

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I was fortunate to find a pattern that only required two skeins of Acadia: the Avery Cowl designed by Kate Gagnon Osborn. Most likely drawn from Barbara Walker’s first Treasury of Knitting Patterns, the Avery Cowl is a four pattern repeat knitted in the round of what Walker calls the “Frost Flower” pattern. Here’s Walker’s description:

“Frost Flowers” is not the correct name for this lace, unless the author happens to be an unusually good guesser. But it is quite an old pattern, dating from at least the early nineteenth century, and therefore probably has its own quaint name by which it is, or used to be known.  In spite of its rather complicated appearance it is a simple lace, consisting essentially of only four rows, which are repeatable three times and then alternated on the half-drop principle. (204)

This also knitted up quickly and I was able to finish this on the same night as the Brier Toque. There are no modifications here. Note that the cowl is photographed upside down. I like how the flowers seem to open up and fan out this way.

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I decided not to block this cowl as I think the rippled, pillowed flowers go well with the uneven nubby texture of this yarn.

First handspun shawl

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I must lead a very dull life. This was my designated “simple” knit–something to work on while waiting in the various lines that mark my life. Given the speed with which this was finished, I think I need to re-evaluate things.

On the other hand, I am thrilled with how this LaLa’s Simple Shawl turned out. I didn’t modify it at all and it was easy to remember without use of the pattern.

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I am already thinking about my next shawl. I don’t have a specific project in mind, but this is what I will be spinning: Pigeonroof Studio’s “Tangerine Dream,” a 85/15 polworth/silk blend. I can’t wait. The colors just glow.

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Everyone Needs One

Among all the works-in-progress (WIPs) that make up one’s project list, one must include an easy knit that can be done while waiting in your car to pick your daughter up from school, during the various after-school activities your daughter attends, in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, or even in the lull between ordering your food and its arrival. You bring this project with you wherever you go. It keeps you occupied so that you don’t have to constantly check your iphone in the hopes of a new email or text. This pattern’s main features should involve lots of stockinette or garter stitches and require little or no stitch counting. The boredom of the repetitive knitting is offset by the greater boredom of sitting around and pretending that you have important missives that necessitate you checking your iphone every five minutes.

But then, sometimes you get lucky. You stumble on a pattern like LaLa’s Simple Shawl by Laura Linneman that meets the above requirements but is still interesting enough to keep you going. And, of course, pairing it with yarn that has a lot of color changes is a big part of the appeal.

Below is my simple project using my handspun Pigeonroof Studio superwash merino, which I spun and noted briefly. This is a pattern that really allows handspun yarn to shine. A combination of garter and stockinette stitches and some YOs to give the shawl some texture and air, but not enough that it competes with the color. This is a two-ply yarn. I had divided the braid into two pieces and spun from the same end. The result is a fingering weight yarn with a subtle marled effect due to barber pole striping with some larger saturated sections where the colors lined up.

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This is knitting up so beautifully that I can’t imagine knitting with anything other than handspun.

Cheery Cherry Blossom

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This is Pigeonroof Studio’s superwash merino in “Cherry Blossom.” It is 4.4 oz, 2-ply and 459 meters. Little A picked this colorway out. I love the hint of blue here–an unexpected hue that reminds me of a spring sky peeking through the laced patterns of a cherry tree in bloom. This is not the first time I’ve spun SW merino, but somehow there is a particular bounce and volume to this that compels me to squeeze it. Constantly. As I put the yarn in the hot water bath to set it, I was amazed by how quickly and how much water it absorbed.

After its hot bath, however, the colors ran a quite bit, erasing the large sections of white and touches of blue that had been there. I still love the result though. Now the contrast between the colors is less dramatic and there is a peachy glow to the entire skein.

I don’t usually use the word “sumptuous” because it triggers bad flashbacks to the cheesy 80s show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, but this yarn just might make me do it.