Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.
I love my husband dearly, and while the following remark may sound a bit bizarre, flippant, and/or cruel, I swear to you I mean every word of it, completely seriously. One of the best things I've gotten out of our marriage is a connection to New Mexico. I realize talking about relationships in terms of "getting" things is a bit odd, but the getting can have to do with very serious and intangible things, be they connections to places you might not otherwise have, emotional support, love, family, etc. One of those places I am connected to by marriage is New Mexico, and now that I have it I can't even imagine a time when my life didn't involve this place as well. Every time we go back there, the first New Mexican meal that hits my tongue is the best one I've ever had.
This past summer, when Peter and I had the opportunity to drive around and explore on our own, one of the places we went to was the village of Taos. Well, we also went hiking up in the Taos ski area (a little ways out of town) but that trip was quickly called off when I became extremely cranky, nauseous, and dizzy from the altitude and we must never speak of the Taos hiking expedition ever. again. After my little episode in the woods we drove back down to town and, probably desperate to see me perk up a bit, Peter suggested we look for some yarn stores. As it turns out Taos has several! After lunch at Graham's Grille (which I wholeheartedly recommend) we stumbled into Weaving Southwest, which has since become one of my most favorite yarn stores.
You're probably wondering if I secretly weave and have somehow just never blogged about it. I do not secretly weave. But the shop space drew me in and the amazing hand-dyed yarns made me stay. The store is huge, with walls completely covered in yarn and broad open spaces in the middle for looms. All their yarns are hand dyed; so far as I know you can't get them anywhere else, and the colors are glorious. My first time in the store I picked up two skeins of tapestry yarn from the sale bin.
I fell in love with the colors immediately and was envisioning them in colorwork mittens for months. I even cast on a couple of times. These early projects didn't work at all though, because I didn't really know how to deal with yarn like this. I was initially attracted to the rough wooliness of the yarn, but eventually put it together that this was an extremely stiff yarn, and if I wanted to knit with it I'd have to do so on MUCH larger needles than I'd initially thought. Don't quite get what I mean? Here's a picture:
That's my tapestry yarn on the left and cascade 220 on the right. Initially I thought, great! It's a light worsted! I cast on for some stranded mittens on US3s and made it like, one row in. My wrists were screaming. This was not going to work. I kept going up and up and up in needle size until I finally end up on US9s, and this is what I got:
My very own Macro Mitts! The original blue and white sample lives at Loopy now, so I needed a pair of my own. Making a second pair also gives me the opportunity to show off that thumb gusset one more time, of which I'm so proud.
The reason I'm so proud of it is because of how it follows the contour of the human palm so well. The increases create a shape on the palm of the mitten that follows the lifeline on your own bare palm. Here, I even made a graphic to demonstrate this.
We've had an extra long winter in Chicago, so I've had a few chances to take these mittens out and about and let me tell you, that stiff tapestry wool traps in heat like nobody's business. These suckers are WARM.
I've been back to Weaving Southwest only once since my initial visit, which brings me to the second yarn in this tale. And unfortunately this yarn's role is just that of a teaser. Remember my Brocade Socks?
Well I've had an itching to return to that pattern recently and work up a taller version. I picked up just the thing on my second trip back to Weaving Southwest.
Hello, lover. This is the Rio Grande Hand-Dyed Superwash Merino Sport. (Rio Grande apparently being the brand name of the Weaving SW yarns? The question mark is because the skeins don't have labels; I've just deduced that information from what's on Ravelry.) These are generous skeins, so I should have no trouble getting a couple of tall stranded socks out of these. Hopefully I'll be able to show you all those sooner rather than later.