Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Introducing the "Christmas 2010 Project": A Gallery

It's been almost two months now since my big birthday splurge back in August ("Thanks, mom!"), and since then I have spent little or no money on knitting supplies. It took some effort to slam on the breaks, especially after a period of relative freedom over the summer, but lately I have been enjoying the virtuous feeling that comes from using and appreciating what you've already got. Besides, with the semester now in full swing (thereby limiting the hours available for knitting) and many of my summer yarn purchases still backed up in the queue, there's certainly more than enough to be getting on with, as the saying goes.

Things were going reasonably well, I thought, until last week witnessed an unusual and DANGEROUS confluence of forces in my universe. Not only did EarthFaire have a big one-day yarn sale (fasten your seatbelts!!), but right at the same time two different KnitPicks lace yarns that I had been surreptitiously eyeing from a distance also suddenly went on closeout.

It hit me all at once, and I went a little gonzo. I freely admit it. OK, maybe more than a little. It was not a frugal week, at least not in the short term.

On the bright side, however, with a view toward what the French Annaliste historians would call the longue durée, I now have supplies to produce beaded lace objects for EVERY FEMALE in the immediate family. That includes my mother and both of my brothers' wives, plus my mother-in-law and my husband's sister and sister-in-law. I can now add handmade luster and luxury to the lives of *6* different women who are near & dear to me, at no more cost per person, on average, than we typically end up spending at the department stores in any given year.

In fact, I just got *7* new lace yarns (including one that's just for me), and many of them in sufficient quantities to make more than one item. So we're looking at a plethora of projects and a PILE of presents when all is said and done. Probably more than one year's worth of Christmas gifts!! Most of the colorways already have beads to match as well, and I am working on filling in the gaps so that the pairings of fiber and "shiny things" can be complete.

These sudden acquisitions were so *terribly* exciting, and the possibilities have inspired my imagination to such an extent, that I took the (for me) unprecedented step of officially photographing and stashing this latest cache of lace yarn on Ravelry, along with the substantial leftovers of Gossamer CashSilk from my Wedding Ring and Princess shawls. It does make a handsome display, but I am still quite hesitant to document the rest of my motley yarn collection in detail. Then again, now that the camel's nose is under the tent-flap (as it were), I suppose the larger and/or more notable samples may yet find themselves destined for a photo-shoot of their own one of these days, if the mood strikes.

But I digress with this stash talk. Let's get back to my latest prizes... My husband is part Scottish on both sides of his family. He *hates* spending money unnecessarily, so we prudently took care of the bulk of our Christmas shopping for 2009 in the post-Christmas sales last year. No real call for holiday knitting at the moment!! But that's OK, because given the list of current WIP's and the depth of my already pre-existing queue, we're certainly talking about the Christmas of 2010 with all of this new yarn, if not even *2011*. I now know what I'll be knitting next summer, and beyond!! Here's some of what lies in store. As always, just click on any image to get a closer look.

In the midst of all this converse with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, one of the EarthFaire yarns is for me alone and will probably get used up sooner rather than later. It's a single skein of Shibui Silk Cloud: an incredibly soft 60% kid mohair & 40% silk lace yarn from Japan in a colorway called "Ink" (i.e. pitch black). One skein gives me 330 yards, and I'm hoping that in addition to the Ice Queen by Rosemary Hill (Knitty, Winter 2007), I will have enough to eek out a small pair of beaded handwarmers or fingerless gloves to match — perhaps a variation on the Delicato Mitts by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot. I now have both silver-lined crystal AB 6/0 and silver-lined crystal (non-AB) 4 mm magatama beads on hand for just this sort of contingency. Either one will do, no doubt.

I am very eager to produce a few such small wearable *warm* beaded lace items now, before the weather starts turning genuinely cold. They will make me happy on an aesthetic level for one thing (by appealing to my inner diva!!), in addition to the practical business of keeping the chill at bay on my daily treks to & from campus. Since there were very few skeins of the SilkCloud available to begin with — and for several weeks I'd been watching the supply slowly dwindle — when the sale happened I was delighted to grab what turned out to be the very last one in the color that I wanted.

Now for the gifts. See what wonders Herr Drosselmeyer brings... We begin with two colorways of Eos (50% merino wool, 50% tussah silk) from The Unique Sheep. Each skein contains 630 yards, so there's lots of potential here for projects large and small. I imagine cozy neck-warmers like Poinsettia or Spiralucious by Anne Hanson of KnitSPot or Pretty Thing by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (a.k.a. the Yarn Harlot), and delicate lace scarves like Protopopov by Susan Pandorf, Angel Pearls by Sivia Harding or Canterbury Bells by Laura Patternson, among others. In fact I've been collecting suitable patterns on Ravelry for a while, with Christmas in mind, and I always have my eye out for new ones to add to the portfolio.

The first Eos colorway is called Deep Forest. I got just one skein, thinking primarily of a particular sister-in-law who favors such colors, and I think I will probably pair it with some shiny beads in a pale gold (like these), although the same celery-lined crystal AB that I am using for the Parisian Ostrich would doubtless also suit. I will want a pattern with a Bohemian feel, maybe something like Faina's Scarf by Faina Letoutchaia.

The second Eos colorway is called "Aurora Borealis." There's a charming story behind the name, because Ellen of EarthFaire actually sent a photo of the Northern Lights as inspiration for the artist who hand-paints this yarn. I was blown away by the rich combination of jewel tones in the end result: pale blue, dark turquoise, navy, emerald green, charcoal gray. Beads seem almost superfluous here, given the intensity of the yarn, although something in a hematite color (like these) or the right blue (like these or maybe these) might add an enchanting glow.

I bought a whopping *four* skeins (2520 yards) of this yarn, certainly enough for a major project if the fancy takes me, or perhaps a series of smaller ones. To be honest, I would probably have succumbed to this beauty even at full price, but when things like this go on sale, resistance is futile!!

Finally among the EarthFaire offerings, I have one sister-in-law who is allergic to wool and cannot have it next to her skin. She is an artist with an eye for striking colors and textures, and I have wanted for a while to come up with a suitable lace project to make for her, but I had considerable trouble finding the right yarn. Even cashmere is off-limits. >sigh<

Imagine my delight, then, to discover this lovely Organic Lace-Weight Cotton from Peru: Eco Butterfly Pakucho Lace in the sandy beige colorway known as "Vicuna." So smooth and soft to the touch, it will make beautiful lace. I bought two skeins of 500 yards each. And the beads that I found to go with it are simply STUNNING: garnet-lined transparent light topaz AB magatamas in two sizes (4 mm and 4 x 7 mm). Iridescent shades of magenta and gold and blue and green shine happily on a sunny golden background. I strongly recommend clicking on the photo to see the bead colors close-up.

The pattern that I have in mind for this combination is another of Susan Pandorf's luscious designs: Mehndi. It can be made as either a scarf or a stole, and I have enough yarn for the larger version. Because the pattern does not call for beads, figuring out where to place them will be half the fun. I got one container of each size to start, but I will definitely want to order more before they sell out, so that I can make something truly ornate and extra special.

*Phew*. That EarthFaire order would be enough by itself to keep me busy for a LONG TIME.

But wait!! There's more...

Now here's the first of the KnitPicks yarns: my old favorite Shimmer (70% baby alpaca, 30% silk) in the colorway known as "Lilac Dream." I bought just one skein (440 yards) specifically to pair with the silver-lined smoky amethyst AB 8/0 beads that I had acquired earlier. The color-match is *perfect*, with exquisite shades of lavender ranging from pale to medium intensity. I imagine something long and supple that can be wrapped around the neck more than once and still dangle, with a generous splash of beads at either end (e.g. the Icicle Scarf by Susan Pandorf). The yarn colorway has been marked "Last Chance": once it sells out, it won't be coming back.

This one here is also Shimmer, but in a brand new colorway called "Bayou." It arrived just recently and was not on sale, but the rich blend of chocolate brown, teal blue, and emerald green appealed to me so much that I bought four skeins (1760 yards) right away, in order to be sure that I got enough to stash away while supplies last. Several of the ladies on my list favor earth-tones, so this will be just the ticket for them, especially when paired with a rich brown bead like silver-lined root beer (the 8/0 size is currently sold out at EarthFaire, but I have been assured that they will soon be back in stock). Imagine Anne Hanson's woodsy Elm Row design in this yarn with beads running up & down the edges and all along the wavy vertical lines between the leaf motifs. New Haven, CT (where my dad taught for many years and where I went to college, along with my husband, both his siblings, and one sister-in-law too) is known as the Elm City, so there is some appropriate symbolism .

Last but not least, there's this delightful yarn, which was also a closeout: Shadow Kettle-Dyed in the colorway known as "Wilderness Kettle." It's a buttery soft 100% merino wool in a deep blue-green, with the subtle shading produced by the kettle-dying process. I chose it specifically to go with one or both of the silver-lined teal bead types that I had purchased earlier: one in size 6/0 with a matte finish and the other in size 8/0 with a shiny transparent finish. Both of them match!! I'm not sure exactly what combination of patterns and bead-work I will end up pursuing, but I got two skeins (880 yards), and whatever happens the prospects are pleasing, to say the least.

Oh! And while I was at it, placing the EarthFaire order, I also acquired the additional beads needed to complete my Parisian Ostrich and Magic Carpet Ride stoles, both of which have been lying fallow for several weeks pending such supplements.

Mmmm. Feel free to sing along with me, if you'd like: "Happiness is....

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear. How I love that Wilderness Kettle color. You have a lucky family!