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  • knitting1105 3:09 pm on August 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Sustainable Yarns   

    Yarn Crawl Part II 

    Last Friday I had some returns to make in the Western Suburbs, so decided to continue the Yarn Crawl, and hopefully make it to 10 stores, which I succeeded in doing.  It was not as fun going alone however.


    A couple of the stores had run out of buttons, not anticipating how popular the totes and buttons would be.  Perhaps they will have a better sense next year. Not sure exactly what I will do with the bag, but it was fun to collect them.


    The crawl introduced me to a couple of new stores that I had never been to and will definitely return to.  It also alerted me to a couple that I have no interest in going to again. It was interesting to see all of the different personalities of the stores, and what their target audience is.  While no one store met my requirements for a “dream yarn shop”, there were facets of many that I liked.

    Since my recent bout with Chinese fake mink yarn, it has strengthened my resolve to first purchase US or Canadian yarn, preferably with the wool sourced here, and spun and processed here also.  So, it was exciting ot see this yarn, Swans Island at String Theory (I think that they also carried it at Knit 1), all US grown and processed, 100% Rambouillet.

    I spent forever looking at the colors and trying to decide what to purchase.  My thought was to make a pair of Fair Isle mitts.  Purple and Green are always a favorite combo of mine.  This is such a nice squishy woolen spun yarn.


    Also at Sting Theory, I purchased this super soft Merino from Patagonia, wool folk.   They are working with Sustainable practices in Patagonia:

    Woolfolk yarns combine the highest quality wool with ethical, sustainable practices. The fiber we use, Ultimate Merino®, doesn’t happen by chance, but by the innovative efforts of farmers to produce the very best wool fiber while being land stewards of the Patagonian Grasslands. Woolfolk brings this exquisitely soft and lustrous fiber in handknitting yarns that preserves the unique attributes of this luxurious wool.

    This yarn is destined to become a pair of Eiffel Tower mittens, a pattern that was gifted to me on my birthday a couple of years ago.


    And, while I did not purchase anything from Fiberista this past week, they are now carrying Jared Flood’s Shelter yarn.  I am truly excited to have a local source for this, and will be planning a sweater with that yarn in the fall.  Another US made and produced yarn.

    We are passionate about wool, knitting and design. We develop and manufacture breed-specific yarns that support domestic textile production—designing, sourcing, dyeing and spinning our yarns within the USA. Our design team is committed to producing high-quality, sophisticated knitwear patterns for the modern handknitter, especially tailored for the wool yarns we create.

    In addition to eating local, I am trying to buy local, and wool is a great place to start.

    Last note, I just got an email that I won a book at one of the stores on Yarn Crawl!!!

    • Diane Hamilton 9:04 pm on August 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Congratulations on the free book, always fun to win something. I love purple and green together too. Looks like you found some treasures for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      • knitting1105 10:56 am on August 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        I did! Will show you when you get here.


    • salpal1 7:17 am on August 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      good choices! Glad you found Swan’s Island – it’s local to me and I love it. I also love Quince and Co – another Maine company using all USA wool. It’s fun to shop locally!

      Liked by 1 person

      • knitting1105 10:56 am on August 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Oh, lucky that you live so close to 2 great yarn companies. Never been to Maine, it is on my list.

        Liked by 1 person

  • knitting1105 4:53 pm on August 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Yarn stores Chicago   

    Yarn Crawl 

    Apparently Chicago Yarn Crawl  has been going on for 4 or 5 years now.  It occurs the week prior to Stitches Midwest, and allows local yarn stores to showcase their wares.  My friends Barb and Pam have gone for several years, and this year Louise and I tagged along.  It was so much fun.  We went to 6 stores, 2 of which I had never been to before.

    At the first store, we were asked if we wanted to purchase a Yarn Crawl bag, we said no.  Everyone gets a passport that is stamped at each store, and you are entered into raffles at each store, in addition a larger raffle when you reach the milestones of 5, 10 and 15 stores. Then some ladies came in who had started this over the weekend, and they were sporting the bags, with a pin from each store to show where they had been.  Well, we were hooked.


    So, off we went with our bags and shopping.  I restrained myself at most of the stores.  Each store was required ot have a free pattern.  When we got to Sister Arts, their pattern was one of the best, 3 of us got the yarn to make this capelet:


    these are the colors that i choose, on order is a natural cream color, so the base will be cream and gold, with turquoise accents.  It will be really fun to see how everyone’s color combinations turn out.


    I also found yarn for a very special shawl (more about that in the next post), Malabrigo Mora, 100% silk.


    Every store was offering 10% off on all yarns, and some had extra specials just for the crawl.  Sister Arts gave gifts for a $30 or more purchase!  Missing from this photo is the measurement tool, as mine was broken, and I am hoping that my friend was able to exchange it.



    Lastly at Nina’s, I found a sale yarn and book that I really liked (at 50% off).  The yarn will become a shawl, and I cannot wait to make the sheep toy.


    There are so many more stores available to knitters than when I first moved to Chicago, glad to have the fiber community growing. Now I am trying to decide if I have enough time to hit a couple of more stores in the next 2 days…

    • Diane Hamilton 11:23 pm on August 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I love the sheep toy! We have something similar for quilting, it is a lot fun especially when you go with friends. Glad you had a good time and had some restraint.

      Liked by 1 person

      • knitting1105 10:57 am on August 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        I really want to knit the sheep toy.


    • salpal1 7:09 am on August 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      what fun! once you have the bag, you have to go to more stores. 🙂 love the purchases you made, and the freebies – fill that bag!

      Liked by 1 person

  • knitting1105 10:10 pm on April 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , skein winder   

    Michigan Interlude 

    Last week I was in Michigan with my mother, and had the added benefit of seeing my niece and nephew, and getting to take care  of them for a bit.  While there, my mother was complaining of cold hands.  Personal experience with Dan and Sofia told me exactly what to do—make fingerless mitts! Not possessing a GPS or smart phone, I still rely on printing out old-fashioned maps.  Grand Rapids is not a city that I am familiar with, but it is not that big. Googling yarn stores turned up  A Grand Skein, and I drove there during a break to purchase yarn for those fingerless mitts.  I loved this yarn store, and the owner could not have been more helpful and nice.  So, I purchased yarn to make 2 pair of mitts, and noticed something on the way out.  The mitts were very simple, and the yarn was so soft, Mendocino by Crystal Palace, not a yarn that I had tried before, but I really loved it. What does not show up well on the photos is the color range of the yarn, a rainbow effect, plyed with a pink color, they were very pretty.


    My mother loved them, and within a short period of time, her hands felt warmer.


    What kept coming back to me was the thing I saw while at the yarn shop.  A big skein winder, with amazing ball-bearing gears, it spun so smoothly.  You know where this is going… I went back the next day and mulled it over for a bit and decided to purchase it.  The skein winder is made in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I could not locate it online, I did find this demo video, and this one however.  Over the years I have learned when I find something I really like, especially if it is unique and not readily available, just purchase it.  This would have been too hard to ship, so I splurged and brought it home with me.  The winder came with either a table mount or a stand with the option of a table mount, I went full hog for the entire set.  If I want to become a custom yarn dyer, I might need the dyers 5′ winder!!  The workmanship on this is wonderful, and has been improved from the video to include pegs to wind a 1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2 and 3 yard skein.  The walnut detailing is just a plus!



    And I purchased this yarn also for fingerless mitts, Ella Rae Lace Merino worsted, but did not get them knit up prior to leaving…


    • Verónica 11:14 pm on April 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      You chose beautiful yarn! The mitts look great! And that yarn winder – it’s fabulous.


    • Diane Hamilton 2:01 am on May 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I think you deserved the winder too–it wouldn’t have been there when you went back on another visit. The fingerless mitts were such a great idea for Mom–I am sure she loved them and maybe it will help protect her skin a little bit.


    • Mimi 3:53 pm on May 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      The winder is awesome! So are the mitts!


  • knitting1105 6:44 pm on June 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Lots of Wool 

    3 boxes full!  Last post I was talking about lots of color, this time it is just lots of wool filling up my entryway.  Remember the lamb fleece that I was given earlier this year, a combination of Hampshire and Suffolk lambs?  While not normally a spinner’s go-to fiber, my resource books tell me that they are often over-looked by spinners and make a great yarn even though the sheep are raised mainly for the meat.  The Illinois Wool and Fiber Mill was processing it for me, and I thought that I would not have it until this Fall.  I was on a scouting trip with a friend of mine for her tour company, City Ventures, which is taking a trip to this mill and Trudi’s Farm this fall (an amazing sustainable farm with beautiful gardens and orchards and a wonderful Salvage Hall all made with recycled materials), I hope that I am available to attend this trip.  When Pam mentioned that I was coming along for the preview, Jane made sure to finish up my roving.  Not that I needed it.

    It is very pretty, 2 boxes of an off-white,

    And 1 box of a beautiful grey.

    I think more than enough to spin for a sweater!

    On the knitting front, I am making progress on my Echo shawl, using a gradient from Fiber Optic, Blush to Celery.  I have learned a lot since spinning this, I have 2 balls of gradients.  In the future, I will spin The two braids without splitting them, and then ply those together to get a much longer gradation. This shawl will go from Celery to Blush then back to Celery.

    While in Marengo, we stopped off at The Fold, as I was in need of size 5 long circular knitting needles to continue this shawl.  Hoping to get some Lantern Moon needles, Tony had these  ChiaoGoo metal needles to offer instead.  I am not normally a fan of metal needles, but these may have changed my mind, the point is very sharp for lace work, and in this shawl trying to K3 tog with a 9 stitch increase is a challenge.  While I have only knit a few rows using them, I am liking the way they work very well.  Toni also graciously loaned me some signature size 1 DPN’s to try until the Midwest Fiber and Folk next week.  Amazing since, she offered out of the blue, barely knowing me—and they are very expensive.  Will have to think of something special to take back with them…perhaps some homemade jam.  I love the trust and honesty that I continue to find in the knitting/spinning world.

    • kathytny 8:24 pm on June 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I am just totally in love with the shawl.. I can see the colorwork and your stitch work and it is going to be stunning!


      • knitting1105 8:57 pm on June 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks! It is really knitting up very pretty, mostly due to the amazing fiber that I had to work with.


  • knitting1105 12:01 pm on July 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Breed study, Fiber Optics, , ,   

    Tour de Fleece, Shetland style 

    The Tour de Fleece is a spinner’s challenge.  On Ravelry, the spinners all set goals, and try to spin each day during the Tour de France.   They spin, we spin.  Both start today.  I know, I know, it sounds corny, but the goals and inspiration are great.

    Guidelines (NOT RULES):

    1. Spin every day the Tour rides, if possible. Saturday July 2nd through Sunday July 24th. Days of rest: Monday July 11th, Monday July 18st. (Just like the actual tour)
    2. Spin something challenging Friday July 22nd. (The Tour’s toughest mountain stage over the Col du Galibier for the second time, and finishing up on Alpe d’Huez.)
    3. Take a button if you want one. Then we can use the button on our blogs in show of solidarity. Take it from here or grab a clean one from the flickr pool. Come join the flickr pool!
    4. Wear yellow on Sunday July 24th to announce victory. Why not wear yellow on any day you feel particularly successful? (Yellow is the color of the race leader in the Tour – but here we are all ‘race leaders’)
    5. Other colors if desired: Green (sprinter – think FAST), Polka-dot (climber – as in uphill), and white (rookie)

    I am planning on spinning just Shetland rovings.  It will also be a part of a breed study that I am involved in, where we learn about a spin a different sheep breed (and maybe other animals as well) each month.  This month is Shetland.

    Here is what I know so far about Shetland sheep:

    • There are 11 recognized colors of Shetland Sheep (Dan and I would like a hobby farm with one of each color in the pasture)
    • There are 30 recognized markings
    • Shetland sheep are very affectionate, and will even wag their tails.  They have been domesticated since the Bronze age.
    • Shepherd dogs have a difficult time herding them
    • It is one of the “primitive” breeds, dating back more than 1,000 years
    • They are part of the Northern European short-tailed group of sheep, cousins include Finns and Icelandics
    • Shetland’s remained a pure breed for generations because of their geographical isolation
    • The breed fell out of favor when the quest for bright white fleece became popular, and many breeders eliminated the colored variants
    • The soft wool under the neck was favored for lace weight yarn, and used in wedding shawls that were so fine they could be pulled through a wedding ring
    • The Shetland fiber is also popular for Fair Isle projects, as the fiber has a tendency to bloom, thereby concealing colors that have been carried behind
    • If you drop a stitch, it will most likely stay put
    • The staple length is 2-4 1/2″ long
    • The undercoat is fine, the outercoat is smoother often with a curl at the tip
    • Low luster
    • Shetland is usually spun woolen
    • Moderate felting
    • The fiber is good for next to skin, and outerwear depending on the grade of the fiber
    • Shetland’s are smaller than commercial breeds and slow-growing, but long-lived and hardy, able to adapt to difficult conditions
    Here is the 2 colors of natural Shetland that I will be spinning.  I have already started on the dark wool (4 oz), and will do the light wool (2 oz) next.  Both from the Illinois Wool and Fiber Mill, a brand new mill outside of  Chicago.
    Afterwards, I will work on this deep purple/black Shetland dyed roving by Fiber Optics.  It is actually a darker color than the photograph shows, it was very difficult to capture it’s exact hue.
    And, this is my first spinning of Shetland fiber.  It has a lot more loft to it, not as smooth and silky as some others.  I am finding it very easy to draft out, and get a thinner yarn.  I hope that I will be able to maintain consistency with this fiber.  That has been an issue for me with some other fibers.
  • knitting1105 10:52 am on June 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    More Socks 

    I started a new pair of socks, using a CookieA June sock club pattern.  She always gives 2 patterns in every shipment (every other month), as does Janel Laidman.  I find that one colorwork sock pattern every other month is about all that I can manage.  The CookieA socks are always an easier one, and then one with a bit more detail in it, I usually save the detailed one for the sock club yarn.   So, I bought this yarn on my trip, and am making these for Judy.  It is the Jubilee pattern, and I wish that I had read the comments by others before starting these, but I was working on them on our car trip back, and only opened my computer up to check the pattern.  The yarn is Plymouth Sockotta:

    Judy picked this yarn at a new store in Grosse Pointe, MI.  It is called the Knotted Needle, and focuses on knitting and needlepoint, although I felt that the knitting took second stage.  Most of the yarns there were not anything that I would really want, a lot of the same old stuff that you can find in virtually every yarn shop (Cascade, Debbie Bliss, Noro).  There is a local store that also combines the 2 crafts also, and I find it a bit confusing, as there does not seem to be a lot of overlap, and they seem to end up short shifting something.  I did find this skein of hand dyed yarn from Abstract Fiber, a yarn that I have not seen or tried before, it is much finer than some of the other yarns, and I like that quality.  The color is Matisse Harvest.  Hard to resist anything Matisse, it will be interesting to see how it knits up.

    Here are my Jubilee socks in progress, almost complete with sock #1.  The yarn is okay, would probably not make my “must buy again” list.  It was much cheaper though at just $12.50 for a 400+ yard skein.  The suggestion on Ravelry was to knit the YO stitches through the back loop, and the fabric is pulled in tighter.  I wish that I had seen that comment, as even though I am making the size M, they are very stretchy.

    And more photos from our mini vacation.  Any ideas yet?

    • Linda Cannon 9:20 pm on June 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I cannot believe it you are at Mackinac Island, one of my very favorite places, Second honeymoon, some where I would go in an istant if I could. Enjoy


      • knitting1105 8:18 am on June 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        It was a fabulous trip. It had been many years since I had been up there, now my kids are anxious to get up there again also.


  • knitting1105 4:12 pm on November 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Spinning help 

    There is a fellow blogger whom I follow that is also a new spinner.  She actually got her wheel about a month after I did, only took one class, and already has improved way beyond me.  So I decided that drastic measures were needed.

    I strapped me and my wheel in the car…

    And drove 60 miles to The Fold in Marengo, Illinois.  I had called a couple of days prior to ask Toni Neil, the owner, if she would be able to check out my wheel, and if she had the repair kits and parts that I had been looking for.  Her answer was to come on up.  So, I drove up to what appeared to be a simple Ranch house, but inside was a spinner’s dream, many brands of spinning wheels, drum carders, drop spindles, roving and top (both natural and dyed), books, videos, knitty knoddy’s, and all the repair parts a spinner could need.  And lots of yarn to boot.

    Toni was very gracious and helpful, checked out my wheel, adjusted the tension, and sat with me while we both spun and talked a bit.  It seems that the main problem that I had been having with my wheel was the tension.  When it was oiled and properly adjusted, this is what I was able to spin:

    I am so excited!  And, I seem to be keeping up the pace at home.  Of course I needed to purchase a repair kit:

    And a Knitty Knoddy:

    And more fiber, now that I feel confident.  This is from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.  While I have not been a fan of their sock yarns, I love the colors of their dying.  I recently found out that they dye roving, so this was something that I wanted to try.  I am still not sure how to predict what the colors will look like.  This is 100% Blue Face Leicester; Colorway: Basan; 8.75 ounces.

    And this is what the Basan colorway looks like in their sock yarn.  It will be interesting to see how mine matches up:

    I’m not done yet.

    Gypsy Girl creations Merino Wool, 8.4 oz; Colorway:  Iris.  This was on sale, so I couldn’t resist.

    And these are by Fiber Optic Yarns; 100% Bluefaced Leicester;  4oz. each, which I plan on plying together.  Bramble and Everglade, beautiful tonal colors.

    And then, a gift from Toni, a small collapsible Knitty-Knoddy.  We figured that it was 24-25″ per round.

    • Rae 1:43 am on November 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I can’t wait to see what your pretty fiber looks like all spun up. Seeing your wheel makes me wish I had one or even at least knew how to spin on a spindle lol still haven’t figured it out yet.


      • knitting1105 10:07 am on November 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I tried the spindle first, and could not get the hang of it. I think that the spinning wheel is so much easier.


  • knitting1105 1:47 pm on October 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Lorna’s Laces 

    Yesterday I dragged my husband to a warehouse sale and demonstration at Lorna’s Laces in the city.  Actually, I did not have to pull too hard.  He is keenly interested in sheep, wool, and the processes involved since our visit to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival a few weeks ago.  Talk is of a future sheep farm (mostly fun speculation), but first we have to make sure that he does not kill the worms again, and Chickens are coming to the back yard next spring.

    Mr & Mrs. Lorna’s Laces (not real names), were both extremely nice.  Their studio is located in the Ravenswood neighborhood in Chicago, in a great warehouse building full of woodworkers, candle makers, artists and small businesses.  After shopping, we got a great demo in custom dying, and a lot of questions answered.  While it is quite messy, it does not seem to be all that complicated.  Some day I will try it, I think by first taking a class.

    I purchased some great yarn.  I had trouble in the past with her sock yarn being very splity, so I checked out the Mill Ends carefully.  Dan picked this out for socks for himself:

    And I got this for socks for me.  I had first picked out a skein of primary colors, but thought that it would get muddied, I like how these colors flow together:

    And these are for a pair of mittens, I hope 200 yards of sport weight is enough…

    And finally, this sock yarn (you had to buy the full bag) for a Faroese shawl for myself.  I think that it will knit up beautifully.

    • Lisa 4:20 pm on October 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Love the yarn for the shawl! Can’t wait for pictures of that!
      I need a shopping trip to Chicago….feel like sharing more info on Mr and Mrs. Lorna’s Lace?


      • knitting1105 9:44 pm on November 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I don’t know much. She bought this company after searching around for what to do with her life. Her husband was there, and they are very cute together. I got really good vibes from them, and they seemed to love what they do. I am sure they would show you around if you came to Chicago. Just don’t come in January or February…


    • Raeknitswa 7:40 pm on October 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      The mitten & shawl yarn are pretty can’t wait ti see then done. I have never used Lorna’s Laces yarn hope this yarn isn’t splity for you.


  • knitting1105 10:27 am on May 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    The last day of our weekend in Door County included a trip to the yarn store in Sturgeon Bay, Spin. If I could just pick up this store and move it to my hometown, or the very least, in the Chicago area anywhere, I would not need to go anyplace else.  Hands down the best yarn store that I have ever been to.  I visited a bigger one in Colorado years ago, but nothing to rival this in overall ratings.

    Let’s start with the building.  The owner took an old bank building and renovated it beautifully.  Natural wood trim, high tin ceilings, original vault, wood floors, and display cabinets that do not detract from the beauty of the bank itself.  The second floor, formerly offices, is the most amazing space for open knit night (and morning) and classes.  Three rooms fully equipped with large wood tables, comfy office chairs on wheels, and a sunny spot with couches and soft furniture.  Sure beats the run down apartment above the coffee shop that our SnB meets in.

    And the book selection is absolutely amazing.  The best grouping of knitting books that I have seen in one place (other than Stitches).  All arranged face out for the most part so that browsing is easy.  Of course, I had to purchase 2 books that I had not seen elsewhere.

    This author had an earlier book from the 1920’s to the 1940’s, which is very pricey online.  English edition, and a great book if only for the history of knitting.  The period photos are fabulous.

    Next was the knitting pattern books by manufacturers.  I focused on Dale of Norway and stranded knitting, as I cannot find a local store that carries these, and find them very difficult to purchase online.

    And then there is the yarn…  Almost every imaginable brand and type.  Great sock yarns, lace yarns, and all fiber types.  My only complaint here would be the lack of yarn for stranded knitting.  A common complaint that I have with local stores.   It would have been nice to see some of the locally produced fibers, but the Whitefish Bay Farm is a short drive away.  So, I just focused on the basics that I like to keep in my stash.

    Of course, more Baby Ull.  This is obviously all from older dye lots, as the ball band is not the new one:

    Some Malabrigo sock yarn:

    And Araucania sock yarn.  A brand that I have not tried yet.  Seems very similar to Malabrigo.  Beautiful colors, I just love this purple:

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