Friday, August 31, 2007

Anticipation. Sorrow. True Joy.

Wollmeise sockenwolle: our dramatic quest
for gorgeous yarn from Germany

Poison no. 5 in dark, medium, and bright (for Cathy)

From a previous confession you know that a few of us stalked Wollmeise sock yarn on Flickr for months. (You know, before Ravelry emerged.) Elemmaclitur kept posting absolutely gorgeous photos- how could the obsession possibly wain? Of course, I kept forcing other knitters to look at the photos, too.

At the end of June a few Minnesota knitters placed an order with Wollmeise. We each ordered a number of skeins, and opted for the cheaper "Sea Way" shipping from Germany to Minnesota.

This was a bad idea for two reasons:
1. The wait was nearly unbearable.
2. The shipper was very naughty.

Sodden and stinky, the Wollmeise box arrived in St. Paul less than three weeks after Claudia shipped our gorgeously dyed wool. Everything was wet. Completely wet. Either the shipper left the box out in drenching rain, or (most likely) it sat in multiple inches of water for an extended period of time-- days, I'd say. Most of the skeins were in a jumble, the box had multiple holes, and one skein-- Tiefer See-- was completely missing. Cathy thought her skein wanted to go where it came from- the Deep Dark water! (Tiefer See roughly translates to 'Deep Dark Lake')You can see from the photo above that there was beautiful wrapping- but it nearly disintegrated. All of the labels had shredded and were stuck to the cardboard box.

Claudia, the Wollmeise herself, took the incident in stride and called our sea way box a submarine. She even asked if there were any fish inside! Claudia even offered to re-send our entire shipment.

I felt a compulsive need to 'save' the yarn. Every skein was washed at least once the moment it left the box. Some received multiple washings. Not all skeins were save-able, and were just too stinky to salvage. Claudia replaced these few skeins without charge-- and the insurance company is currently passing her request for damage reimbursement from desk to desk.

Of course, what you really want to see are photos. Now, they do not do justice to this gorgeous yarn.
Am Kalten Polar & Raku-Regenbogen
Dornroshen,Rosenrot & Feuerwanze
the infamous Tiefer See
Koralle im Meer (bright) Spice Market, Granataphel, Brombeere, Red Hot Chili, & Sonne
Gewitterhimmel- this photo certainly does not capture how beautiful this yarn is!

What do I think of the yarn? Honestly, the better question is-- what's not to love? :)
The colors are truly unique, and fantastically dyed. The yarn is smooth and not as stretchy as other superwash merino yarns, but has a ferocious amount of bounce. At first touch it may seem a bit like cotton-- but it doesn't react this way at all. The yarn does have many plies, and I have split the yarn once or twice while knitting an entire sock cuff. Of course, I do this with Regia or Opal, too. Once it's knit up into fabric it's absolutely wonderful- lots of stretch and resiliency.

According to Claudia's blog*, her shop will be closed for the next month. Ordering should be easier for both the user and her in the future. Distance always makes the heart grow fonder!

*The Google translate tool can be used to read her blog in English, although as Cathy notes, the effect is rather yoda-like.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Experiment #2

Recognize the pattern?
Gloves! I've never knit them, so I came to a natural conclusion: find a fingerless mitten pattern to modify-- you know, just for a bit of a challenge.
I really had no idea what I was doing, but I think they're just fine. The first "crotch" between the pinkie and the ring finger is not-so-fabulous, but I figured out how to make the others come out o.k.

weekend experiment!

Fiesta "Boomerang" yarn
Rhubarb color
Toe-up socks on two circulars! I split the ball in two, placed them into a ziploc bag with two tiny holes at one end (yarn tangle control), & tried Judy's Magic cast-on (I'm a TOTAL convert!).

The needles are huge.
It's like knitting socks on telephone poles.
I think I'm liking it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Minnesota State Fair

Friday night I volunteered for the Minnesota Knitters Guild at the MN State Fair with a few friends. We certainly had a good time talking to fair-goers as they passed by. The only downside was that we were sitting on a bit of a stage behind a sample barrier. The effect was reminiscent of visiting the zoo- and we were the animals in the cage!

There were many gorgeous knitted items submitted this year. Of course, it's always fun to see entries from knitters that you know--
Deepa, Jeanne, Louise, Susan, & Leslie all received awards-- congrats to you all!

In return, thanks to all who have sent congratulations my way-- Lizard Ridge took 1st place *and* afghan sweepstakes! What a fantastic surprise!!!

Check out the reflection of the fair-

Afterward we visited a few spots. The horticulture building had a "largest sugar beet contest". Good lord, I had no idea how big these are. I'm from corn and soybean country. The North-western corner of MN grows a good deal of these.

(Berry Lozenge sock for scale)

Have you seen the crop art, or seed art? Wow! Truly amazing work!!!

Someone painstakingly 'painted' lace out of small seeds on the Spanish Lady. The seeds lend to a true sculptural form. I was entranced. There was a good deal of pop culture and kitch, some were drop-dead gorgeous.

I can't help it. I have to leave you with this:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Possible Critical Mass?

First of all, Holly is the best Sockapalooza 4 pal ever! She sent a SECOND package with patterns! Now, onto the critical mass issue. So.... in the past 6 weeks I've indulged my long-term desire to order Wollmeise and Kauni. Even though one package had arrived, and the other was just days away.... I went shopping. Now, I was just going to buy Cat Bordhi's book, "New Pathways for Sock Knitters", vol. 1.

It's fabulous. I'll be honest. I *hated* the magical knitting series. Mobius, no thank you! New ways to knit gussets and sculpt socks, fabulous. If you're a sock knitter and are interested in mixing things up, this is a book for you!

So, umm... I found some Jitterbug. I've been looking at this colorway for months-- and then I noticed that they changed their formula to a thinner yarn. Sold! I swiped up the original thickness the moment I noticed the difference because I wanted the thicker one. I've certainly hit critical mass for sock yarn. Must stop buying sock yarn!

Wednesday night, Deepa placed this in my hot little hands.

It's ooh, soo much better in real life. Kauni, fabulous. Absolutely gorgeous stuff. Just so you know I'm not completely mad, 1/2 of these skeins will be delivered to another knitter tonight!

I decided against the sedate blues and the absolutely gorgeous Princess Line sweater design. I'm taking the advice of you, dear readers, and have decided upon something completely different. No, I'm not going to knit Ruth's fantastic design. For the past few weeks I've been plodding through as many Alice Starmore patterns that I can find... and I think I found a winner. Of course, the search made me change my mind yet again. I'll explain all soon.

Paco waiting patiently for play time. One last photo. Ahh-- I love this yarn!

Bus Stop, Beautiful

Wollmeise can make a dreary bus stop beautiful: I owe a long post to all of you full of gorgeous colors and a story about how fantastic Claudia (owner and single dyer at Wollmeise) is. I haven't had a chance to take all of the photos. Look for next week- I promise!

Remember the pigeon prints?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Berry Lozenge

The sun came out for a lunch-time visit before settling in for an afternoon nap.
As luck would have it, I had just finished the first of the hard-to-photograph Trekking XXL color #76 (Berries) sock. This is the first touch of sun that we've seen for days! The color is spot on here on my monitor. (whew). The Saturday Como ladies kept calling the undulating ribs 'lozenges', thus the name Berry Lozenge socks. Here's what they look like in a lighter colorway with lozenges down the instep. I continued in rib after turning the heel.

The yarn is a bit darker then this photo, although the rib is perhaps a bit clearer.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Raindrops keep falling on my head

Minnesota has had a dramatic weather change in the past few days.
We went from 90+ degree days to fall-like 60s and a huge whallop of rain. Unfortunatly, Southeastern Minnesota was hit rather hard, I hope local bloggers, like Cathy at Hither and Yarn are o.k.
Como Saturday morning knitters were visibly upset as they thought about dropping their cotton and acrylic blends for 100% wool. We thought that Amanda's preparation for the new season was giggle worthy. Check out her ribbed tunic flanked by a cable-ribbed red cardi, and her oh-so-matchy and just finished oatmeal ribbed sweetheart sweater.
Last week I was on about Wollmeise, gorgeous Wollmeise. There'll be more in the near future!
The Pomatomus socks from the last post will be a gift, and I worried that they might be too small. So, they're just past the heel turn and are visiting the giftee for try-on mode,
and I'm onto another sock:
See what happens in the middle of monsoon season? Crappy sock photos!
I really like these new ones- but you certainly can't tell what they look like from the photo!!! The yarn is Trekking XXL in the "Berries" colorway, undulating rib from an old IK pattern,
78 stitches on the cuff and 72 around the foot.
Perhaps when the sun comes out I can take an accurate photo.

Sock yarn follow-up: the Junior High Eyeshadow socks (JHEs) in Posh's Lucia are holding up really well. I've worn & washed them about 7 times, and they're not showing signs of wear. I had feared that they would be bedsocks only-- but they're really tough! Who knew merino/cashmere socks could be this fantastic when it comes to wear?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wollmeise has arrived!

After approximately 3 weeks by sea, the Wollmeise arrived at my door. I'd recommend air shipping-- the wait seemed too long for all knitters who ordered yarn with us!

Raku-Regenbogen (Raku Rainbow, medium)
All skeins were washed upon their arrival. This softened up the wool dramatically. I couldn't help but cast on with Raku-Regenbogen shortly after it dried! I'm sure you recognize the popular pattern. Surprising how different it looks in the skein and knit up, huh? I think they're both absolutely gorgeous, though. These socks will be a holiday gift.

Pfauenauge (Peacock, medium)
Unfortunately, this is someone else's skein. Isn't it absolutely gorgeous? Look how the color emulates and nearly matches the peacock feather.

Poison No. 5 (bright), Sultan (medium), and Pfauenauge once again.
Again, these aren't my skeins- except for the sock above.

More Wollmeise to come...

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Sockapalooza 4 Pal revealed!
A perfectly square package from Germany was delivered to my door yesterday from my SP4 pal Holly. The box utilized every last square centimeter of space. Here's the thoughtful and overly generous contents: Thank you, Holly!
The superwash wool/nylon on the left has a really wonderful feel, and the Regia Silk- gorgeous! Included is a pack of pastel food color dye, and three "happy catch" toys for Toby and Paco. (sorry for the poor lighting from last night)

The socks are truly original, and laden with cables and twisted stitches with heart motifs. Heart-a-Palooza, indeed! They're ribbed all over the place, and certainly would have fit a number of foot sizes. As you can see, I do have two differently sized feet. (To find out why, see below). My pail knit both a left and right sock to accommodate each foot.
The detail work is really lovely. The clog (patterned) heel heart motifs on the heel are reversed, and are used on the sock's insteps. I've never seen toe decreases like this before, and I think they're quite attractive on the foot.

Warning: next photo not for the squeamish

I've been thinking about taking part in a sock exchange for a while, but always avoided it because of the obvious...

The accident happened when I was a child, and there has been very little repercussion in my adult life.

Most people never notice, although each time I post a picture of socks modeled on my feet I wonder... Do people see the difference? Do they wonder why the left foot is usually shown more than the right?

Of course, the only person that has directly said anything about the size difference was a MN State Fair judge last year. She wrote: "Are you aware that there are many more stitches on one of your socks?" It's a little funny, actually. Should I have slipped in a Polaroid of my feet upon submission? I think not.

Once I discovered that Nordstrom will sell a pair of shoes with different sizes for the original price, I donated all of my old pairs and started a new shoe wardrobe! If you know of anyone in the same situation, please let them know. They'll ship a pair of shoes anywhere in the US for $5.

...and Holly, the dogs loved their toys. Thanks again!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sockapalooza 4, Out!

A little late to the finish line, the Sockapalooza 4 socks were mailed out this morning to my pal.

I was aiming for a pair of feminine, comfortable, summery socks.

Knit with Cascade Fixation 'multi-effect' yarn, US 2s, picot cast-on, a wee bit of feminine lace and garter to finish the top, and then a simple spiral lace rib of *YO, K2, K2tog, K2*. This is the first time I've used the pattern to knit a stockinette sole, and the socks did torque a bit with the spiral before they were blocked. Post- blocking, no problems. One of the strangest sites I see while zipping through the sky ways in St. Paul are the pigeon prints. I'm always amazed at co-workers who have worked here for years and are utterly surprised when I point them out. They're everywhere, folks.

Don't show Bert, he would be devastated to see these:

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Lizard Ridge

Certainly my largest finished project to date.
February 2007 to July 2007.
Knit with approx. 4,000 yards of worsted weight yarn.
Noro Kureyon and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes.
Modifications: Added six squares and used a mitered garter stitch border a-la Mason Dixon.

It'll be on display at the Minnesota State Fair in a few weeks.