The frugal college kid in me will always have a soft spot for acrylic yarn – it’s cheap, it comes in loads of colors, there are soft blends available, and it’s almost indestructible. The eco-savvy world-saver in me cringes at the pollution emitted and toxins created through acrylic yarn production. And herein lies the problem: is it worth it to quit acrylic cold turkey to save the environment?
As a petroleum-based fiber, acrylic’s carbon footprint is massive compared to those yarns created by more natural means (e.g. wool from animals or plant-based yarns). In this way, Red Heart Super Saver could be more of a scourge than we thought (it’s not just tacky, it’s also kinda sorta lethal). I understand that many don’t have the economic means to be so wary of the ramifications of their knitting, but the simple fact that this is a hobby would imply that it is not absolutely necessary to daily life (whatever knitters may say). That being said, it’s worth considering the effects of acrylic yarn.
If you look at some of the various commentary on the acrylic debate, many bloggers will urge you to completely purge yourself of your Carron, Red Heart, and whatever other craft store brands you can find. They suggest instead deconstructing sweaters from thrift shops to recycle the yarn. Or, better yet, they encourage you to invest in the various “vegan” yarns that are out there. Some of these animal-free yarns are so clever in their recycling – like soy yarn or the various bamboo blends that are out there (look here for more “vegan” yarns). They’re beautiful and unique in texture and appearance. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite within the budget of the frequent acrylic user. And, to be honest, as quaint as upcycling sweater yarn sounds, I don’t really like the idea of using ratty, old yarn to make things for my loved ones.
So, that brings us back to the first question: what do we do about acrylic? Personally, ruling out acrylic completely makes knitting way too expensive for my tastes. I simply can’t afford to whip out wool for every project. I consider myself conscientious enough, though, to make some effort towards removing acrylic from my stash. Therefore, the only thing I can suggest is to reduce the amount of acrylic you buy. That’s what I’m doing. It’s working pretty well – I take a bit more time to save up for nice wool, my projects make better gifts for all the time and the better quality yarn, and the environment is a tiny bit better off (or not worse off for the sake of my yarn). It’s a pretty good deal.
August 6th, 2012
I am loving Spring and enjoying Nora’s lovely blogs on her new book: Noni Flowers. Yes, those flowers in the picture above are knitted!. Aren’t they lovely? We have been enjoying looking at the book – it’s one of those books that one wants to buy for the coffee table first. It’s beautiful and I spent an indulgent afternoon reading it cover to cover and dreaming about making all those flowers.
We are thrilled to announce that Nora is coming back to Nine Rubies in August 2012 to teach a workshop based on her book. We are one of only two locations on the West Coast that Nora will be coming to this year.
This is an intensive two-day workshop on learning how to make flowers and once you have the hang of this, to go on to pick/design the flowers that you would like to grace the accessory of your choice – Nora calls these canvases. A cowl needs a decorative element to make it special for the person who is getting it as a gift – the canvas is the cowl and you get to pick(make) the flowers. The canvas can be a felted bag, a sweater, a cap… The possibilites are endless. I think I am going to take Nora literally and use a real canvas. In her book, she has examples of projects that you could do: the first is putting flowers at the end of a shawl to make it a little more special.
Or for a more dramatic look, try this awesome cowl with dramatic sumflowers. I feel like I am drinking coffee in Provence when I look at this.
On the first day of the workshop, you will learn to make flowers using knitted elements, wire, beads and all the other little things that you might need. On the second day, you will learn to design and make the specific flowers you will use for your canvas. Come join us for this wonderful workshop on Saturday, August 25th and Sunday, August 26th.
For more details on the workshop, see the classes page on our website.
May 3rd, 2012
We’ve gone a little nuts on the Color Affection Shawl. I recently went to Sock Camp at Port Ludlow – what a fun trip! We all got infected by the Color Affection Shawl while we were there. For complete details on the craze at Sock Camp, check out the Yarn Harlot’s blog.
I came back and starting putting different combinations of colors together. I didn’t like the original ones that I was doing. So here are the choices that we came up with in the store.
From Frog Tree Pediboo, 3 colors that look great together.
Another combination from Frog Tree Pediboo:
A little bit of Malabrigo Arroyo and a lot of Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering:
Another warm combination with Plucky Knitter and Malabrigo Sock
Malabrigo Arroyo loves Plucky Knitter MCN Primo Fingering
And maybe brightness is you – with the lovely orange in the middle:
April 30th, 2012
We just finished our Noni Knitalong for the Ella jacket! Check out the new Ella Coat (picture above and also available in children sizes) by Nora J. Bellows. Knitters dropped by and knit this jacket with Sudha, who knit this jacket for Saloni. There were many, many different versions of this jacket and you really should check out Nora’s blog for more ideas on this jacket.
We at the store love this structured sweater. We think it’s perfect for the end of winter and beginning of spring. The ruffles add a sense of whimsy and the pattern is basic enough it almost invites experimentation with colors. For the icing on the cake, the A-line cut and slightly lifted waist on the jacket means it’s flattering for most body types.
The pattern is ranked at intermediate to advanced, but we reckon any daring knitter could manage it.
The children’s pattern is just as charming with the bobbles and striping. Nora herself says it was inspired by the story of the Princess and the Pea. We think it’s the perfect amount of girly without being garish.
This coat, unlike the women’s size, is felted. This adds durability and warmth.
And here is the result of the one Sudha made:
The jacket was knit in Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool. Come welcome spring with this great jacket!
March 30th, 2012
This is a new version of this blog post. A previous version of this blog got mistakenly deleted because of technical idiocy. It’s a re-creation of the original and not the original itself – there are differences.
And then there are the samples that Sudha makes. She like the challenging ones because she thinks they are all easy, so easy. The latest one she just finished is Alchemy’s Waterfall Scarf. She chose different colors than the ones in the original. These colors in this scarf were originally chosen by the fabulous rep for Alchemy yarns – Jan Hurwitz. The scarf is knit up with two materials – wool and silk and then felted. Because the wool and silk will felt at different rates – the scarf gets a fluttery look and feel.This felting technique is called Shibori.
This pattern was inspired by the Wisdom Wrap also designed by Gina Wilde. Look at the projects for this pattern on Ravelry and you will get a better feel for the felting and fluttery look of this scarf. Keep in mind that Sudha’s scarf is very lightly felted and she is planning to felt it a little more when she has a bit more time.
The Waterfall Scarf pattern uses 3 colors of the Alchemy Silken Straw and 1 color of Alchemy Sanctuary. The Silken Straw like the name implies is a the pure silk yarn and Sanctuary is the wool which is used for the i-cord dividing the silken straw rectangles. Very unusual yarns from a local supplier – we love their yarns and colors.
The fabulous Jan, who introduced us to the Alchemy yarns, is teaching the Shibori workshop at Nine Rubies! She will get you started on making the Waterfall Scarf or the Magician’s Scarf. Sudha knit up a sample for the store and you can see the stunning results. In Suhda’s version she ended up using most of the yarn. This is what she had left:
Make this your own by picking the colors that you think would work best for you – see the available colors on our website. And come join the class on Shibori Knitting with Jan on April 21st. For more details check out the class schedule on our website.
March 28th, 2012
My name is Nadya and I think I have a sock phobia.
I’ve generally played it safe with my projects – scarves, hats, mittens, and the occasional sweater. I stick to the usual yarns like Cascade and Malabrigo without venturing too far out into the great unknown of Art Yarns or Frog Tree (exotic, I know). My knitting is manageable and mild-mannered. And I’ve never every tried socks or any pattern using needles smaller than size 4.
It’s too delicate, I tell myself, I’ll never be able to manage it. It’s too intricate, I think, I wouldn’t be able to keep the pattern straight. I’ve breezed right through gorgeous sock patterns on Ravelry in the same way vegetarians skip over the burger section of the menu. But now I figure if I don’t try the hard stuff, what’s the point of this expensive, time-consuming hobby? Maybe it’s just me growing up.
As a college student, maturity is often thrust upon me – I do all my own laundry now. I mean, I can even cook myself pasta without burning anything. I’m beginning to view the world as something I will soon be a part of, and jobs as a necessary, and even exciting, prospect. University has meant that the last three years saw me grow up and take on adulthood. Despite all of that, and despite being able to argue with my professors over world issues that baffle the best, I have refused to knit socks. It seems a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Therefore, to see me through the new year and my new signs of waning adolescence, I have decided it’s high-time to tackle a part of socks. I’ll start with an easy pattern. No need to be overly ambitious at the beginning. I’ve started saving some interesting sock patterns with the idea in mind that I will actually do them one day. No more great sock experiences will be forgone in the same way as all those mouth-watering gastronomical experiences being vegetarian has denied me.
I’m taking hold of the knitting needles of fierceness this year and I’m gonna make myself a pair of warm, pretty socks. I’ll do it even if it takes months.
So, if knitting socks is a sign of maturity, what’s lace?
March 27th, 2012
Sudha, Melissa and I have been on the lookout for local dyer ever since the wonderful Baywood Yarns got busier with her day job and stopped dyeing those beautiful yarns for us. Meanwhile, we found many dyers: Baah! yarns, Anzula, Dream in Color, Madelinetosh but none of them was local to us. We kept looking…
About a month ago we started looking seriously at Schafenfreude Fibers and met up with Diane Palme. We petted the yarn and looked at colors and drove up to her dyeing studio. And finally settled on her Luster Sock base as our first line from her. This is a 100% Superwash Blue Faced Leicester(BFL) wool in a 438 yards (100 g) skein. If you’re just discovering that there are other wool fibers beside merino and cashmere, Blue Faced Leicester is a longer stapled wool (the individual fibers are longer) which is fine enough for next-to-skin wear. It is extremely popular for fine to medium yarns for anything from lace to socks to light sweaters, and insulates and wears well enough for outerwear too.
We placed our order and she gave us a sample skein which I knit up quickly. I couldn’t bear for anyone else to knit up the beautiful orange color. I had seen a sample of Swallowtail at Diane’s studio and wanted to do something lacy. Since the store already had a sample of Swallowtail, I decided to go for something that had been in my queue for a while – Holden by Mindy Wilkes. The pattern is super-simple and addictive. It took me less than a week to make this. Diane’s gorgeous yarn was wonderful to knit with and when I blocked this shawl the results were incredible. The yarn holds form extremely well and the color is simply stunning on anyone who wears it.
Come see Schafenfreude’s colors at the store or online and watch this collection as we grow with this wonderful local dyer!
March 26th, 2012
Donna Griffin’s Pattern Summer Flies is simply one of the best written patterns. I am not crazy fond of lace shawls but we needed a sample for the store in Classic Elite’s Alpaca Sox and I grabbed the yellow color because it was bright (brighter samples seem to do better than the neutrals).
And then I started to knit and couldn’t stop. I started this pattern and was done before you know it. So here are pictures of the one I made:
Then I noticed that people gave me compliments when I wore it (which was often – it was wonderfully soft in this yarn). I thought it was the color and then someone asked me if the pattern was “easy.” For those of you who know my mom Sudha – everything is easy for her and it really is because she has forgotten more about knitting than I know. I do not hand out the designation quite so easily(!) – I would say this is a beginner lace pattern – BEGINNER – LACE. And there is something deeply satisfying about marking off each row as you knit the pattern. She has written down EVERY row.
Then I noticed that other people wanted to knit the very same pattern. As it happens a group came to our store today and they were all working on their versions of Summer Flies. I started an album on our Facebook page for the different versions of this shawl. Send me your pictures if you want me to add them info AT ninerubies DOT com.
And there are other yarns you could try on this shawl. Ravelry tells us some of the popular yarns are:
Madelinetosh Pashmina: I think it would be lovely in Pashmina
Malabrigo Silky Merino: The shine of this silk/wool blend would be gorgeous.
Cascade Ultra Pima: For those of you who don’t like animal fibers
Dream in Color Smooshy Cashmere: Oooh, yes!
Blue Heron Rayon Metallic: I have not seen one in this and the pictures do not do the sparkle justice but I can imagine the shawl will be gorgeous.
Go on to Ravelry to see more versions of this shawl – 3351 people have projects in this shawl on Ravelry. Just to give you an idea how many people are going crazy for this pattern.
March 14th, 2012
Tuesday Night Cowl by Susan Lawrence
If you’ve been on Ravelry at all in the past three months, you’ve seen a whole bunch of new and old cowl patterns filling up the Hot Right Now box. Every day in the store we get requests for yarn to make the Madelinetosh Honey Cowl or for new circular scarf patterns. It’s always interesting when a certain pattern or type of pattern takes off like this. And to be honest, cowls are kinda funky looking – they are giant, knit circles, or, in the case of the mobius cowl, giant mobius strips. What is it, exactly, that makes this bizarre piece of clothing so popular?
Personally, I have a lot of issues with scarves – they don’t stay up, they get tied too tightly, the make the front of my sweater uncomfortably bulky, etc. Scarves have been the cause of many a street scene and public display of frustration. They’re also monotonous to make and I lose patience with them quickly. I do not like straight scarves, and they don’t like me.
So with the dawning of the Age of Cowl, all my scarf issues were put to rest. Cowls and circular scarves are easy and neat and not difficult to manage. They are just slipped on, over a jacket, or looped twice around the neck, and that’s it. They’re warm and simple and they don’t get in your way. As an added bonus: they’re actually chic.
From a design perspective, cowls leave a lot of room for unique style elements; any knitter with a little experience (or close to none) can spin the basic cowl in a number of ways. Make it all moss stitch, or drop stitches, or add a mobius, or or or do anything you want! Once you start designing cowls, it’s hard to stop.
March 8th, 2012
Malabrigo does it again! Not only do they dye the most beautiful colors but they choose gorgeous fibers as well. This time they have chosen an ultrafine merino fiber for Malabrigo Finito in a light fingering weight. The yarn is so soft that it does fell like cashmere when knitting and when knitted up. To see the colors, pricing etc and to pre-order this go to the Malabrigo Finito page on Nine Rubies Knitting. We are expecting this yarn to arrive on March 14th/15th 2012 in our store. The yarn is probably only going to come out once a year and when supplies are gone, it will have to wait until next year.
Meanwhile, we do have a sample skein at the store – thank you Tobias! I started playing with it and was thinking of samples to make with this. Let’s see it’s a light fingering yarn and has 220 yards to the skein. Single Skein projects that seem like they would do well in this yarn:
Red Skies at Night
A Very Good Cowl Indeed
I particularly like the idea of a cowl as the yarn is soo soft, it will be very nice against the soft skin of the neck.
For 2 skein projects, so far I like:
I Want You
So, tell me what you would like to make in this yarn! I know what we are going to make with this yarn for the store sample.
March 7th, 2012