A New Aran Weight Yarn

My target customer in the shop is me, which probably means I tend to put a little too much thought into what we stock at times. However, I think and hope, that it’s what’s brings people from all over the country through our door?

For me as a knitter, there is always room for improvement and there been a couple of yarn qualities missing from our shelves that I would like to see including, a high percentage, wool blend aran weight.  So I’ve spent a lot of time researching suitable yarns initially, by looking at the fibre content versus the recommended retail price and the range of colours available.  When I’d narrowed it down to 4 yarns I bought samples to knit up, in order to access the finished fabric by comparing the stitch definition, drape and weight.

I know it probably seems like a lot of trouble to go to for one yarn, but this is going to be a staple in the shop, so it has to be right as there’s not enough room in the shop to have several yarns that do the same thing.

NewZealand

Of the four I knitted up, New Zealand from Adriafil came out top.  The 75% wool, 25% acrylic blend is a pleasure to knit with, it creates great stitch definition and produces a smooth fabric that’s not too heavy.  With some blends the acrylic can make the yarn look ‘shinny’, but there’s isn’t a hint of it with the New Zealand.

Each 100g ball contains a whopping 200 metres/219 yards which means very few are needed to to complete an average woman’s jumper.  I find it knits to the usual aran weight tension of 18sts by 24 rows on 5mm needles without creating a very dense fabric.  The colours are fantastic too, making it a great choice for babies and children’s knits too, not bad for €7.25 a ball hey?

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I’ve currently chosen 12 of the 38 available colours and intend to add more over the coming months and if there’s any you think we could particularly do with, please say.

New_Zealand1

As I said I’ve had a play and have knitted up one of my favourite little patterns the In Threes sleeveless cardigan by Kelly Herdrich which is available on Ravelry for $6.  If you don’t have Ravelry we now have in store access too, so you can purchase your pattern in the shop, we’ll print out a black and white copy and send the pdf directly to your email address too.

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My bands look a little rough here 😦

Back to the In Threes cardi, it’s a great, speedy little knit.  Knitted top down, with minimal finishing this little garment is hugely popular with the knitters of Ravelry with nearly 4500 projects to date.  I’ve made six so far and count it amongst my ‘go to’ patterns.  This little one is for the smallest size 0 to 6 months and it’s very generously sized.  Having made this size before, I can confidently say that in most cases it’s a little more like 3 months to a year, so the baba will certainly get the wear out of it.

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It took one ball of New Zealand yarn in the lovely soft turquoise and the multicoloured buttons from Rico add a little something extra and are a move away from my traditional choice of wooden ones.

The little cardigan is on display in the shop so you can have a squidge and see how lovely the New Zealand yarn is.

Happy Knitting!

 

 

Moody Blanket – Part 1

Before I start this post, I should warn you it’ll be quite lengthy, so I’ve decided to split it into three.  The first two discuss the concept of the mood blanket and the third gives the pattern.

Some of you may have seen the link I posted on the shop’s Facebook page with regards to the ‘My year in temperature’ concept scarf by Kristen Cooper, but for those of you that haven’t, here’s the link.

http://400squareftliving.blogspot.ca/2013/01/knitting-my-year-in-temperatures-scarf.html

Kristen’s idea is to select shades of yarn to represent the temperature that day. In her case she is using 15 shades with each one equating to a 5 degree jump in temperature.  She then intends to work a row of her scarf a day with the colour that she has previously chosen for the temperature  of that day.  The end result will be a scarf that represents the year’s temperatures a stripe/day at a time.

OK, as ideas go it’s great and I love the concept, so why haven’t I reached for my ever bulging stash crates and needles and cast on?

Two reasons really:

The first, and most obvious to my fellow citizens of this very Emerald Isle, is the weather.  To be honest the temperature, whilst prone to fluctuation, doesn’t have the obvious highs and lows of British Columbia in Canada, where Kristen is from, more’s the pity.  Which led me to think about other things that happen on a daily basis that could be used to create the effect.  The most obvious to me being our mood, which can be changeable from a day-to-day basis = Design Element Sorted, lovely.

The second reason is because it’s a scarf, not that I have anything against scarves.  In fact I can usually be found wearing one in all but the very hottest of temperatures, which to be fair I don’t get to see much (second dig at the Irish weather, sorry).  I suppose I’m not really that big into multi-coloured clothing and yes I do know I could keep the palette of colours very similar, but I still feel it’s not for me.

So after much pondering, well not really that much as I’ve always wanted to knit one, I decided a blanket would be a more my kind of thing. Having seen one years ago, worked in two strands of yarn with one always the same shade, I set to the planning.

I knew I wanted the blanket to be a big one; much more than a throw for the sofa.  If I’m going to make one it’s got to be big enough to use as extra insulation on the bed in the winter months, so it’s going to take a lot of yarn.  I also want it to be chunky and squishy, but the yarn, if it’s going to be held double, doesn’t need to be too thick.  Aran weight should do.

The initial decision is always what yarn to use. It has to be gorgeous and not too expensive (yes I do have a wool shop, but you still have to pay for the stock you use, even if it is at cost+vat). Having moved away from the pure merino staring lovingly at me from the shop shelves, I was drawn to the Bonus Aran from Sirdar, particularly the lovely new shade of blue that I’ve been coveting since it came in.

Sirdar Bonus Aran in Royal
Sirdar Bonus Aran in Royal

There is a good selection of shades available in the range, especially when combined with the Bonus Aran Tweed colours too.  Yes, it’s not pure wool, or even 50%, in fact it’s only 20% wool with 80% acrylic.  It is however, machine washable, which is definitely a bonus in a blanket, and it also comes in massive 400g balls each containing approximately  840 metres.  I want my blanket to be utilitarian rather than something I’m petrified to throw over the bed and I’d rather the moths weren’t interested either.

OK, so which colour for which moods and how many moods do I really have?

The honest answer is not many. I’m lucky to be a glass is half full kind of person (sickening at times according to my husband) and truthfully very rarely have bad days.  That’s not to say there haven’t been the odd truly horrific days in my life like we all sadly experience; fortunately though they’re very few and far between.  So my base mood is for the most part OK: I then have good days and some that could be classed as really good.

That’s really it – three moods?

So……….. on Saturday I played with colour combinations.  As the royal was the shade I was drawn to I experimented with it first.  It’s too bright to use as my base shade (the constant one) but I figured that if I could find the correct combination to go with it the other two shades would be easier to work out.

Royal with 4 other shades
Royal with 4 other shades

These look much better in the photo than they do in reality, the royal just wasn’t sitting with anything else properly.  So back to the drawing board.  Of the four samples, the one I liked the most was the one knitted with the cream tweed yarn – shade 929.  Using this as my base shade I looked at the other options available to me in the range, focusing on the blues predominantly, as blue is my favourite colour

So I decided to go for these:-

Shade 822 Blue Slate
Shade 822 Blue Slate
Shade 817 - Mill Blue
Shade 817 – Mill Blue
Shade 994 - Denim
Shade 994 – Denim

Read Moody Blanket part 2 to get the rest of the blurb about the blanket and part 3 for the pattern.