The Road To China

A year and a half ago  I wrote a rather traditional feather & fan  lace motif into a simple cowl pattern to be available either  by itself or in an e-book collection of three cowls, and for this lace prototype I used yarn “Road To China Light”.   It was not meant to be by itself anything amazing or noteworthy, but it appears to have meandered its modest way into the Indie Designer Patterns on the Fibre Co. website. I am quite pleasantly surprised, and have excitedly come to spread the news first to Yarnings readers!

I must confess, this is a first for me, and it has brightened everything  on this drizzling cold mountain today.  So, I have decided to make myself another celebratory lace cowl with some more Fibre Co. Road to China Light yarn, and  I have been absolutely craving one in  greyish teal or plum…

Yarn weight: Sport   Skein weight: 50 g
Fibre:
65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% camel, 10% cashmere

Also, I am gifting this pattern (for a very limited time)  to anybody who would like to knit one along with me, in whatever yarn you desire…  

Edit In : Pattern give-away is closed. Thanks to those who joined in!   

I will be posting my lace cowl in whatever yummy color of Fibre Co. yarn I end up choosing and show progress reports on it in forthcoming posts , and I do honestly hope to see you & your project pop up over on Ravelry!

Foot Steps

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Mid day sun streams through the canopy, and I am feeling the presence of vernal influences…

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The blissful places I have been missing for a while beckon to me…

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All winter we have had pelting rain storms one after another, and Northern California is officially declared over the drought while reservoir spillways gush furiously!

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Something about the approach of the equinox softens nature to a sweetness indescribable…

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So I will leave off and show you the latest I’ve made,

a pair of trail socks!

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 …with my recent discovery of the snugger heel stitch foot, these socks are now ready for adventure!

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Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn, in Merlot Heather and Navy

Pattern:  Wild Wool Trail Socks  , with recent update option of colossally snug heel stitch foot section, my pattern is now completely ‘dialed in’.

Project Details: on Ravelry HERE.

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Yarn Tasting: Alafosslopi

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Istex Alafosslopi, an Icelandic bulky-weight yarn, and it also comes in worsted-weight called ‘Lopi Lite, or Lett Lopi’.   It is single ply, very rustic, and in a palette of beautiful colors , tweeds, as well as many natural fleece shades too.  I must say, it is not spendy in the least…which I like. I like a lot.  Like so many super rustic yarns like this, one wonders how it could ever feel good and natural against one’s own skin, then one becomes surprised after the blocking is done and all those woolly hairs just loosen into a beautiful halo, find their place in the fabric, become relaxed and compliant, ultimately  giving a light & springy feel with lovely drape. I wouldn’t call this yarn “soft” by any stretch of the imagination, nay, it is full-on wool, pure, and even old-world feeling, yet I am thinking it to be the perfect yarn to prototype my next design with.

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The next design in fact, which I think will be my magnum opus  of basic knitted wardrobe items… my  favorite of favorites… a cardigan vest!  This pattern will have some really good options (which I will save for its debut) , and will be perfectly suitable for men, women, & children alike. The third in my  Calidez designs, it will be compatible for sport-thru-bulky  weight yarns and any kind of fiber.   I can’t wait to be finished with these and show you!

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As you can see in the photo there has been some ripping out going on, that is because after I finished and blocked the vest, it was not right… it was nice, it was classic, but I  felt it necessary to re-proportion the shaping in the armhole and neck opening, to make it perfect according to my own idea of a perfect vest shape. So here I am, in the middle of the whole thing, knitting up two samples at once, knitting…. ripping out…knitting again: repeat.

I might add that I have come down with a nasty cold (I hardly ever get sick) from the stress of election and a general frenzy of Things Going On, but regardless, I am as happy as can be because my Knitting Track is proving to be a heavenly thing, and I am obsessed with it!   The  leveled sections are a work in progress, but it is all a wonderful path As It Is, and I see a hazy vision of something keenly interesting in its future.   Late yesterday I walked the wooded track while knitting the dark grey bit of the vest above for one and a half miles… it was an enchanting knit-walk five times around the wild shaped figure-eight in and about the tall trees at dusk. I felt like a knitting pixi.

In spite of my cold, I was out there this morning in the supremely gorgeous weather, digging, scraping, leveling & tamping a section of the trail in and around some massive Douglas Firs, while also moving quite a bit of stone from the earth.  While digging around I found an old Olypia beer can, with a pull tab which (after some research ) I discovered dates to early 70’s, which I imagine was discarded from a hunter, so I placed it on a rock near where I found it, along the trail.  The first archaeological find while creating the knitting track,  a crumpled up vintage aluminum beer can…lol!

Lots to do and life is good.

Calidez Cardigan & Donegal Aran Tweed

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At last, my very own cardigan, and it is so special because it is from a wool I’ve wanted to knit forever, and in a pattern which I designed to be my favorite sweater recipe. . .

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Calidez Cardigan knit up in Donegal Aran Tweed!

I made it with Autumn neckline.  The pattern has four seasons of necklines in case you weren’t aware:  winter=full yoke depth,  autumn=3/4, spring=1/2, summer=very low. . .

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I had so many choices to color match buttons because of all the flecks of tweed in the yarn, but in the end, I only had more shell buttons, but I will find some more, in russet and change them out later.

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When it came down to it, I am purely smitten.  Donegal Aran Tweed knits up beautifully and has a real ‘slinky’ feel to it when knit up at  3.25 sts to the inch, although I was so tempted to try a smaller needle size, I chose the larger, appealing to a drapier cardigan, however, because of the fact, it is very stretchy and a wee bit baggy, but like in a good way. Next I will try a slightly firmer cardigan fabric, as well as make a size smaller. I still can’t decide what color to go with for my next, and I do think it will have to be a Soft Donegal,  and I am thinking to go wild, and get this color.

Well folks, that’s it for today, posting from very rainy Mt Veeder!  I couldn’t be happier than with a just-finished cardigan to wear, and you can see details of this project on Ravelry here.

Everything in it’s place, and life is good. Oh, and I’ve been enjoying listening to some beautiful Irish pipes while knitting Irish Wool . . .


Yarn Tasting: Donegal Aran Tweed

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What have we here? A cardigan (for moi) which I will be finishing in the next couple of days! Some time ago, back in  this post , I talked about knitting a cardigan from Studio Donegal Aran Tweed. I actually cast on and knit most of the body of a steeked body cardigan  before dropping it and coming to the conclusion that, although I have written a brief steeking option on the Calidez Pullover, which this was to sample, I really wanted to design my first flat-knit seamless cardigan pattern. So after struggling with that inevitability , eventually I ripped it all out and wound it back into a big ball.  Well, as you all know that recently I have finally designed that cardigan, I can’t escape the desire to make one after another, in all the Studio Donegal yarns, and already I’m looking at the color shade cards I have to see what color I might try next.  The shade on this piece of knitting is # 4742.

Really folks, Aran Tweed has a spirit about it which speaks to me like no other that I’ve felt. It is really a very classic wool, and does have a bit of ‘wooly scratch’ factor, and I don’t recommend it to knitters who are ambivalent about 100-percent wool, but it is ever so light, fluffy, and possesses a great homespun feel. Most of all, it is indeed very tweedy & colorful, and just extremely beautiful.  

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I am considering trying for my next yarn tasting, Soft Donegal which is 100% Merino wool, and although a lot softer , it doesn’t have the crispness I love so much in the Aran Tweed, nor quite the selection. If you could put your hand into the photos of the two shade cards, you’d agree, Soft Donegal is very very soft, and a little finer weight too. Just a smidge.  Aran Tweed is  heaviest weight of all the Donegal yarns, I’m getting 3.5 stitch per inch,  whereas the Soft Donegal will probably be more like 4.5.  Regardless, I think I’ll explore both with my new Calidez Cardigan pattern, there is no closing the gate to my sudden rush to make every hand-knit cardigan I’ve craved to have & wear for the last ten years.  I am eyeing so many of them, I just can’t decide!

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You can see Studio Donegal’s website to see details about Aran Tweed,  Soft Donegal , and Knitting Wool.

By the way, which are your favorite colors?

Fair Isle Success!

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Wee Hearts in nine different Fair Isle Hebridean 2ply colors!   Actually this hat is a study on one of Alice*Starmore’s colorways , a colorway from her design “Mary Tudor” from her 2013 second edition of Tudor Roses ,  using her own yarn, as sequenced in the chart. You could say this hat was a colorway test for Mary Tudor Cardigan, although I did change some colors around from the chart, because of a mistake I made.   I really came out of the study with a better understanding of how the blending of foreground color changes against background color changes can be in modern Fair Isle.

Now I am wondering, do I have time for one more?  Not really, I must be on to Autumnal Sweaters!

summer knitting

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I’m going a bit crazy with linen blend yarns this spring & summer. I decided to knit up TWO striped summery cowls for my Canadian Nieces Molly & Maya.  The yarn I’m ‘tasting’ is “Firefly” by Classic Elite Yarns; a sport-weight %75 viscose & 25% linen ( but I tell you, it feels like mostly linen.)  Time is of the essence so I’m making no pretenses, I’ve just cast on, and I’ll see you on the flip-side.

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June and yarn tasting…

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I went into town this morning, and stopped into the local yarn shop, and there was a new batch of yarn in, which I just couldn’t resist. Rowan Purelife “Revive” : 36% recycled silk, 36% recycled cotton, and 28% recycled viscose. Beautiful apricot pink and clay tweeds, which will suit my coloring well, as  I plan on making it into a ‘striped’  Altitude Lace Cowl,  and for moi !   (Ahem… once bought and brought home, I can never resist a good ol’ yarn photo-shoot,  as yarn makes such nice portraits.)

As of a few days ago we’ve had the presence of  some interesting clouds hovering!  Today I swear, it rained a few drops, a few gorgeous wet drops, and threatens to rain some more…

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June is a lovely month. Transitional, mostly unpredictable, mild, beautiful, and cheerful.  I even love the word, so cute, and yet rather ancient sounding… “joon”.

I have decided to not write a pattern for the halter tops I mentioned in last post. Just too much uncharted territory to deal with, as I have so much to get busy with in the knitting, and my non-knitting life too.  So the cotton tops will be a pure & simple yarn tasting and summer treat for my nieces ~~ with no agenda. ( Wow, ‘no agenda’ sounds like I was let out on summer vacation! )

That is it for this post, more a clearing of slate and in a lovely mood as June unwinds into summertime, so soon to be here.

The Last Of Spring

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It is already the last stretch of Spring, and forthcoming is a little duo for summer!  One in dark teal, and one in light teal, in Cascade Ultra Pima cotton yarn,to test my latest design, a summer top idea that I’ve been working on.

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Other things going on, I will splash on to this post, as I am worried I don’t share enough non-knitting things here in general. So, here,  a mountain woodland garden…

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Where in I try to grow things which are sometimes a challenge, but this season, doing well enough.

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Blossoming leeks,

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my greens bed protected from the harsh sun beneath their sun-bonnet,   grapes exploding into clusters fattening,  beans beginning to climb, nearly 4′ high tomato plants, apples beginning to blush and swell, and very shy slow-growing zucchini…

Um….jeans ripening  in the sun?

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Well, not really, just foolin’ around!  Thats about it for this post, and I surely hope to have made the two halter tops by the next post, sometime around the solstice, which will be June 20! 

How are your last weeks of spring coming along?

Yarn Tasting: five shades of natural

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Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill is a family-owned spinnery located in the hills of Vermont Township in south central Wisconsin, and one hundred percent American.  I like that!  The yarn? Beautiful! I just received by post, five natural shades for a ‘yarn tasting’, and I find this yarn so interesting because the greys are mixed by percentage (below right to left;  cream, 10% grey, 20% grey, 40% grey, and 60% grey.) Rather simple, just natural fleece, and American grown & spun.


The fiber is puffy & soft and woolen spun, and the naturals are heathered in a seriously  beautiful way, much like my favorite yarns for colorwork, from Scottish Isles. In fact, I have been nearly exclusive with Scottish Isles yarns lately for colorwork, my favorite being Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2ply, as the  complex heathered mixes of colors are so rich and beautiful enough to make me weak in the knees, but very unfortunately for me there are no natural undyed shades in the Hebridean 2ply line, and undyed heathery shades I happen to be very fond of. So, I believe this yarn being so nearly exact in feel, type of spin, and weight, I think I have found my heathery greys to match with heathery colors of Hebridean 2ply, and I am really looking forward to knitting with it!

Yarn Tasting: Shibui Twig

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If ‘rascally’ could be a word to describe yarn, I would say linen yarn is very much so. Crisp, unyielding, stubborn, and relentlessly tough stuff,  linen has a great appeal to me… oh such like rusty found things, or uncushioned old benches, or crackled old earthenware. I love this stuff, and wear it constantly, year round.

Even winding it off the swift, into a ball , it has a mind of it’s own…rather messy in appearance, not laying in unison with other strands, wrestling it into a ball, as it tried to be a cube, was a task in and of it’s own!

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I will tame it. It may take ten cycles in the washer & dryer along with a load of white towels, but it will soften and be every bit as wonderful as my favorite linen shirts.

This yarn however, is only 46% linen. I bought it to dip my toes into the feel of linen, for I do have 3 skeins of navy colored 100% wet spun linen waiting to be knit up.   It is also 42% recycled silk, and 12% wool.  It is Shibui “Twig” , and there is 190 yards of it.  I am going to be sampling this lovely summery linen blend with my Una Cosettina pattern , as I have gone quite on a tangent today.

I am putting down Snowmelt gaiters for a short while, let them sit on a table for a few days. What is the rush anyway? I am my own competition , I feel suddenly today like having a little play time, so here I am yarn tasting again, going to pour myself a tall one of what I consider the perfect Northern California yarn!

A New Love

Rowan Fine Tweed
Rowan Fine Tweed that is.  This yarn is so fine, and so delicious to the fingers as can be imagined, and with lots of colorful tweedy bits spun into it . Talk about gorgeous!  Especially the color palette, and the heathered tones spun together, it ranks with my favorites for color selection. But, RFT is a single ply yarn, and a little bit sassy (energized) from being so, and slightly heavier too than my fingering-weight favorites ~ Jamiesons Of Shetland Spindrift, and Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2-ply , and the other Shetland 2plies.  Plied makes the yarn a bit more tempered and softer visual appeal in the knitted fabric, I think of single ply yarn as more independent in it’s feel, being that there’s no ‘unwinding’ against another ply, it is perky and assertive in the knitted look, especially if spun with decent twist. Maybe in the blocking process, from the warm soak & dry step, the stitches will melt together a little more.

Sometime at the start of the new year I decided to go in-depth yarn-tasting  popular yarns of the like which are found in my local yarn shop. First on my list is Rowan. I’ve knit over half my life now not ever having knit with anything Rowan, some things just have to evolve, and that is one. I have knit and gotten quite lovely results thus far from my first projects in Rowan Felted Tweed DK, the yarn which I would like to make signature for Tartan & Tweed Mitts, and now that I’m designing a tam to go in this series, I would like a fingering weight option in addition to DK weight.  Fantastic, and lucky, there is Fine Tweed by Rowan, and of it I have myself a fresh catch!

As this is a week of maximum preoccupation, I need to hold off on the pattern writing for another week or so. Just like sands in an hourglass, are my stitches on the needles, that is, when I finish this one, this Tartan & Tweed Tam in Rowan Fine Tweed, I will get back to the business of pattern writing.

All that aside, I am so excited to cast on … yes… one more tam.

A Vancouver Yarn Shop Experience

jenjoycedesign©Urban-YarnsI dropped in on Urban Yarns in  Vancouver BC this last weekend, being that we were visiting Jeff’s sister who lives very near.  I have not visited all that many yarn shops in my few travels, but those who know me, knew this visit was completely and totally necessary, so I was escorted to Urban Yarns, and found myself wandering about in a lovely yarn shop,  just a couple of blocks away from the home of my sister-in-law.

jenjoycedesign©urban-yarns-shopThere I took in  the atmosphere of a true Vancouver Yarn Experience.   I got to see & touch yarns I’ve long been curious about as well,  such as New Hampshire-made Harrisville Designs “Watershed” , “Highland” and “Shetland” yarns and of those there was a lot!  The Harrisville Design yarns recently was on my hunting list, but when there at Urban Yarns my mind went totally blank and I had Yarn Shop Freeze !  After wading through some other mainstream yarn shop brands, the lasting thought  to ponder before I left was . . .  ‘which yarn is the single-most Vancouver Experience’ ?

I was led to rather large display brands of Vancouver hand-dyed yarns, many which I could have chosen, but the most of the most  that I would take home with me (even though it is to be found in my own LYS) was a very Vancouver yarn ~~~ Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Lace.   Not a thrifty purchase, not by a mile, but it was ‘hand-dyed’ only down the street, and sold right there at Urban Yarns, right there on Highland Boulevard.

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I must regret one thing if not spending more money on more truly Vancouver yarns, and that is I did not have time or fore-thought to visit the place ‘just down the street’ where the Sweet Georgia Yarn people are busy hand-dying & skeining up their yarn.   However, Jeff did buy me a very luxurious gift of rabbity-soft 100g skein of Merino Silk Lace.  Here she is,  with her hair let down, sensually sprawled across a late afternoon sun beam . . .

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Can you imagine what aphrodesiacal state I have been flung into , with all of this ultra fine smokey grey silky yarn ?  I am now on a mission of discovery of who and what a knitter becomes when introduced to such delicate stuff,  765 lavish yards of slate grey merino/silk  lace yarn ~~  which by the way, I will be winding off into a ball soon, by hand, with only the help of the backs of two chairs.  On to new lace horizons!!!

Yarn Tasting : Four Sock Yarns

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I have sock yarn ‘on my brain’ and in recent many weeks have been trying different brands in a sort of comparison & contrast project ~~ in a Sock Yarn Tasting !  I even accidentally (well, almost) designed a new thing in the process of fiddling around with sock yarn (more on that later).  Although my Sock Yarn Tasting has been a great source of entertainment for myself, and I actually do feel a sense of earnestness to convey my thoughts on the matter .  At the very least, in the process of comparing I’ve settled on my favorites, and better yet, answered my curiosity as to why.

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I have knit On The Trail ,  a whole lot (it’s what I do) ,  also while waiting for pots to simmer & the kettle to boil, while watching tv, while talking on the phone, while reading, and even  sometimes in between sets at gigs, so my knitting is always hanging on the chair back.  So, while my hands have gotten a bit sore from all of this knitting, I am pleased with the small woolly mountain of knitteds which I am producing.  Soon I’ll be off to Vancouver for Jeff’s family reunion of sorts and you can be certain I’ll be packing up my menagerie of socks-in-progress to  take along, and excuse myself for being entrapped by the knitting while in others’ company,  returning hopefully with a pair or two to add to the growing stack of socks I am squirrelling away for the gift-giving holidays.

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I am  just am so filled with a sense of giddy & calm pride, as I have found knitting socks to be my meditation.  Ahem, okay, so here’s my observations so far of the superstars of sock yarn market which I am sampling : Madelinetosh “Tosh Sock” , Malabrigo “Sock”, Shibui “Sock” , and Sweet Georgia “Tough Love Sock”~~~ all knit up with my Penny Candy Socks pattern with size 2.75mm – US 2 circular needles (two of them).

As Shibui Sock & Madelinetosh Tosh Sock seem to me about the same thickness, I knit them together in stripes because they feel nearly identical in thickness,  though the Tosh Sock is a tiny bit more ‘firm’ , they are thicker, and even a bit fluffier.

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Ginger Lime Chews Penny Candy Socks, details on Ravelry HERE 

I observe that the fabric of Tosh Sock & Shibui Sock produced is more substantial, and would be great for a slightly thicker pair of socks but as this is so,  I might only wear these socks with the roomiest of my shoes. Great for hiking boots, great for Dansko Clogs which tend to fit a little roomy anyway. (Note to self: get another pair of Dansko Clogs !) but not so great for my dressier shoes.  Soft, plush, firm.

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Next in the line-up, Sweet Georgia “Tough Love Sock”.  This yarn is indeed a tough yarn. So much in fact, that I suspect the slight lack  of elastic properties of the yarn effected the gauge, as the same number of stitches on same needles as I knit the others, the Sweet Georgia socks turned out really very large by comparison !  I stopped at one sock, not sure how to proceed, for these would indeed be tough socks and big enough for a man, I just couldn’t think of any men I’d like to give orangey red lace-bordered socks to.  No offense to you men who would love them,  I just wasn’t in the mood to make the second sock, so I will post the photo of the one.

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I think I might have to compensate with this yarn’s properties, to knit the next size smaller with them and see how that works. ((also notice that the two colors were so alike, melting into each other a little too much , that seeing the stripes was insanely difficult)).

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Finally, for the kind of socks that one would easily slip into one’s favorite shoes , that is, shoes worn regularly with store-bought socks, the finer fabric of Malabrigo’s fine fingering-weight  “Sock” wins out.  Mostly for it’s soft resilient and lovely elastic feel, but equally for the rich colors in each hand-dyed skein.  I have to say also that I have a real penchant for “oh so fine” knitting these days, and it’s fine-fingering weight that I seriously am in love with.

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My Penny Candy Socks and Pretty Little Things Gloves  are designed with Malabrigo, and I’m more than happy with the slightly delicate character of the fine fingering yarn with its superwash easy-care and softness of touch. In fact, I feel like hoarding every ‘solid’ color of Peruvian-made Malabrigo yarn, and happily knitting Penny Candy Socks  for everyone I know.

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Blueberry Gumballs Penny Candy Socks, details on Ravelry HERE

It is a goal of mine to knit for next holiday season, as there’ll be no hitting the shops in a bug-eyed panic to find something meaningful. Because basically, it can’t get much more meaningful than hand-knit socks knit fresh only months previously.

I’ll end this yarn tasting with more Malabrigo yarn on the needles, in murky green and clear blue.  This photo was taken early this morning, as the stripes began to colorplay . . .

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Socks in progress,  details on Ravelry HERE