Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Super dreamy farm yarn

One of my favourite things about knit shopping is finding tools or fibers or yarn I absolutely love and never knew about before. Last night I was playing with the new stuff from the Knitter's Fair and decided the Knit Bridge can wait, but Stoddart Family Farm can't.

See, I was walking innocently past this very colourful booth making a mental note of the roving that cascaded down a display on one side but mostly blinking madly at the yarn while reminding myself that

I Do Not Need More Yarn

when suddenly I found myself standing in front of said yarn telling Silvia, who has now joined the very select group of my heroes, how beautiful her colours are. And then two magical things occurred:

A/ Silvia explained that she hadn't been happy with the colours she'd been getting from plant dyes - important since I was missing the beginning of the seminar on plant dyeing to drool on Silvia's yarn and was therefore able to stop thinking about having to tear myself away - because she found the boiling process made the yarn less soft. This of course made me touch the yarn, something you will of course realize spelled instant doom, and to note that in fact the yarn was pretty awesomely soft - even with mohair in it. More on this in a moment.

B/ While petting the yarn and listening intently to Silvia's explanation of the solution she's opted for in order to best treat her organic materials in a way that maintains their quality while producing amazing colours, I spotted a label marked 'Boot Sock.' Yes. Sold.

Okay, here's my thing about mohair, which you can skip by just scrolling down to the pictures:

I had an older brother who died when I was fifteen, but until that happened

(and afterward, actually, since he was on a holiday when he died and had mailed a bunch of things he'd bought for us to my parents' place so he wouldn't have to cart them back on the plane and they kept on arriving unannounced in the weeks after his funeral - torture)

he was always coming up with the coolest presents. As you can imagine, they were even more precious after he was gone, and I still have mine. Except for a lacy pale pink mohair scarf he found for me when I was just barely old enough to start appreciating such things.

The thing with mohair is that it can be scratchy. Especially if, being a student buying a present for your small sister, you go for mohair you can afford. And my mohair scarf was completely crazy-making - I mean, beyond itchy. So I loved it because it was grownup and special and Bob had chosen it for me and he was dead, and I hated it because it was so uncomfortable and I never knew how to wear it anyway. Eventually this back and forth got so bad I just sort of lost it once I was a student myself and moving around all the time. But I'm still conflicted about mohair. I react much more strongly to seeing it in a label than I do silk, for example, even though Bob once sent several lengths of patterned silk from China for the women in our family to sew into summer dresses using a long-sleeved pattern we all blindly agreed on.

(which is how I know that silk is super hot in summer, incidentally, and why I don't buy silk summer dresses now unless they are sleeveless.)

Last year I tried knitting with mohair blends and found one I love, Vesper Merino Mohair from Knitterly Things, of course - one of my sources for all things lovable. I used it for my blue Candy Wrapper scarflet and it's not the least bit itchy even on a bare neck. But I thought that was just Julia being gifted, which is probably also a factor, until Saturday.

And now we're back to present-day. You ready for what came home with me? Well, it started with this:

because I couldn't decide between these two colours and eventually realized I didn't have to, and then while Silvia chatted with somebody else I succumbed to this:

which didn't make it to a skein photo because about 10 minutes after I got home I wound it into two balls of equal weight for socks, and now it looks more like this:

Heavier yarn makes a sock go so much faster: I think I am in love.

But I did not stop there. Remember the roving? It's the same fiber content as the yarn, and I decided that these pieces might look really good with that Fair Isle hat I mentioned yesterday:

Last night after some sock time I decided to try out the new spindle, which is why I can tell you that the fiber spins up like a dream and looks like this:

Beautiful, yes? and you can buy it all online. I am totally making a bunch of mohair socks to wear with my boots this winter - the only question is, which colour should choose next?


Unknown said...

I'm so sorry about your brother. It's funny how things make us remember loved ones. I was particularly close to my grandfather who smoked filterless camel cigarettes and worked in his huge garage on woodworking projects. I loved spending time with him. Thirty years later the smell of a real hardware store or a camel cigarette brings back those memories as if they were yesterday.

By the way, I'm so envious of the yarn. All of it is beautiful!

NessaKnits said...

That yarn is beautiful. Sorry about your brother.

Mary Keenan said...

I probably shouldn't tell the Bob story because it is such a fun-killer, but my mohair issues don't make much sense without it! Still, I do appreciate the sympathy very much.

Angela, I had an out of town great-aunt who lived on her own till she was 100 and only really knew how to make toast, which was coincidentally the only thing my 5-year-old self would eat in a strange place. I still vividly remember the smell of her kitchen and the relief of finally being offered something I could trust would taste normal. I wonder if those memories would go, or go dull, if we lost our sense of smell?

heklica said...

I'm sorry about your brother. I love that red yarn that you've made, the socks will be lovely!

Yes, smell is very powerful. For me, the smell of freshly baked bread, always brings back the memories of a village bakery where my grandparents used to buy bread, which was still warm from baking (and which usually arrived home half eaten). My parents, who both worked, used to buy it in the supermarket and it never had that smell. I think I regarded it as a completely different product when I was a kid.

Unknown said...

Mary, funny you should ask. No, they don't. 2 years ago I fell from a stool in the garage (stupid, stupid, stupid). The back of my head hit the concrete floor first and very hard. I was diagnosed with a moderate concussion and had the usual after-effects for several weeks. It took awhile, but I realized I couldn't smell (got a Yankee candle catalog in the mail and thought the sniffy things didn't work). However, I can still smell memories. Isn't that strange. I guess it's like losing your sight, but remembering what things look like.

Mary Keenan said...

Ahhhh bread - I love baking bread even though it is a lot of work because that smell! all through the house! is totally worth it.

Angela, what an awful accident! when I wrote what I did I was thinking of exactly this kind of thing - it happened to an elderly friend of mine in an icy parking lot when her arms were full of groceries. I think she lost her sense of taste, too, but could still cook (she was a fantastic cook) from memory, even though she could no longer recognize people she knew. I'm so fascinated by brain stuff.