Spring Yarns & Colours, Oh My

Jamiesons at Queen of Purls Earlier today I was having a long conversation with Jo of the Shinybees podcast, and I know you'll be shocked to hear that we lapsed into a long conversation about yarn. It wasn't a big, clever discussion about the economics of the yarn industry or an in-depth analysis of current hand-dyeing trends. We just had a full-on yarn love discussion. This is what I love about my life in knitting: people understand you when you lapse into a long, rapturous monologue about Yarns That You Love. I don't do small-talk very well, but I can talk about yarn at great length. And sometimes you just need pictures to go along with the full-on yarn love. Look at the WALL of Jamieson's - I took the photo at The Queen of Purls this past weekend when I ran a class there. I could just bury myself in that WALL OF COLOUR.

This is very much the Week After the Week After Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I have finally caught up on sleep and I feel back in sync once more. The organisers of EYF have announced they will be back next year - I am simultaneously excited and 'but I have only just recovered from the last one'. As you may remember, I was too busy to do any shopping during EYF so I allowed myself a small post-EYF treat. Ms Knit British alerted me to a new yarn base/colour combo from Skein Queen - Gotland Rustic in Emerald City. In SQ's own words:

This rustic Gotland Wool comes from Swedish Gotland sheep and is spun in Denmark. This traditional Scandinavian wool is somewhat hairy yet has the typical silky lustre of the Gotland sheep, and drapes very well. It's warm and hard-wearing. Gotland sheep are naturally grey, so hand-dyed colourways obtain an extra depth and richness. Emerald green on the grey base.

In other words, that yarn had my name all over it and I know exactly what I will be doing with it (an Authors & Artists design).

Skein Queen Gotland loveliness


But first I need to finish a commissioned design that I am knitting out of a GLORIOUS shade of Malabrigo Rios. I cannot say much beyond that (because, you know, commissions) so I'm just going to talk briefly about Japanese short rows that I've been using a lot recently and which look amazing in garter stitch.

malabrigo rios & short rows

I often find standard wrap-and-turn short rows really cumbersome and annoying to work. Standard w&t became especially annoying when I worked short row "set-in" sleeves for my recent Hetty cardigan, so I knew I wanted to explore other techniques with this new design. Japanese short rows turned out to be exactly what I needed - they were quick to work, super-intuitive and worked a treat both worked flat and in the round (if you are unfamiliar with this method, Carol Feller has a great tutorial).

Ah, soul feasting on colours and textures and all the beautiful sunshine here in Glasgow. Spring is here. What are you knitting?


Decisions Of Various Kinds

After some research and a lot of deliberation, I went to two sewing machine demonstrations this past week. I tried four different machines:

  • Elna 2800. I tried this one at The Life Craft. I quickly felt comfortable using it and it was easy to use. It is just a smidgen too basic for my needs.
  • Elna 3210. I tried this one and the following two at John Lewis. Weirdly enough, I knew immediately this was not the machine for me. I did not like the placement of the reverse key, and I found choosing a stitch more hassle than it ought to have been.
  • Janome Excel II 5024. I like this machine a lot. It is sturdy, intuitive to use, and it comes with a good selection of feet.
  • Janome Dec0r 3050. The only computerised machine I tried. It was easy to use, is very versatile, and comes with a good selection of feet.

Sewing samplesI kept the two samplers I made just so I could compare stitch quality between the 5024 and the 3050.

If I knew I were to become a control freak quilter who needed absolute even stitching, I would go for the 3050 in a heartbeat. The 5024 has even stitching, don't get me wrong, but the 3050 has that computerised evenness down pat. I'm just not cut out (boom!) to be a control freak quilter.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm willing to pay £100 more to get super-even stitching, three buttonhole options, and a whole lot of decorative stitches that I will probably never use. The 5024 is the best mechanical machine I've tried, it does the basics plus a bit more, and it does its thing very well. It is a real workhorse of a machine, and I enjoyed working with it.

I just really like that keyhole buttonhole that the 3050 has to offer, dammit. And the machine is just, well, prettier than the 5024.

Decisions, decisions.

Meanwhile I have been really inspired by all your comments about a Spring-Summer wardrobe. I have also kept a close eye on the Colette Patterns Spring Palette challenge in which people have defined their sewing goals for Spring 2011. I haven't made it that far yet - for obvious reasons outlined above - but I have actually begun to think about cohesive wardrobes and deliberate colour palettes for the first time in my entire life (bar my university years: black with a dash of black for that intellectual look).

Spring Summer 2011I created a palette at ColourLovers which helped me identify five colours that will form the basis of my Spring-Summer crafting this year: Citrus colours balanced and anchored by two neutrals (I particularly like the cool brown). Crazy as it may sound, I already have yarn and fabric that reflect this palette but it wasn't until I sat down to play with colours that I realised this. I think having this palette in mind will also help my buying habits.

Colourlovers is a great site, actually. Not only does it let you create a palette of your own choice (or find suitable colours created by someone else), but it lets you create a pattern based upon your chosen colours , and then you can transport that pattern to Spoonflower where they'll print your very own fabric. If I were rich, I'd totally design my own freaking wardrobe down to every last detail.

I may not be a control freak quilter, but I can still get a tad obsessive at times.