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Yarn Reviews Overload 20 December, 2007

Filed under: knitting,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 8:43 pm

This week: more yarn reviews that you can poke a knitting needle at. Well…five anyway. But that’s a lot more than usual and they are all luxury or hard to find yarns. Is it worth the cost and/or the effort to buy and/or find these yarns? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I hope you find these helpful…

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

Selby’s yarn picks

Ava by Live 2 Knit. 100% silk. DK weight. Hand dyed. $37.60 for 100g.

Live 2 knit Ava

I’m working on a design in this yarn at the moment so I’ve had a good play around with it in its natural and dyed form, both in knitting and crochet. This is a truly fantastic silk yarn. It is silky but not slithery and a pleasure to knit with. As a DK weight yarn it can be substituted in other DK weight yarn patterns but only in small amounts. At a cost of $37.60 for 100g you wouldn’t make a jumper out of it anyway. I’d recommend it for a stole, a scarf, an open lace pattern shawl or a little clutch bag or any design that will use just one skein. I advise using steel needles with this yarn. Any slight imperfections on wood or bamboo needles will likely catch the fine silk fibres. Plastic or casein will probably not be slippery enough. Also, be sure that your needles are not too sharp as they might pierce and split the yarn. This is an easy to find yarn. All you need to do is go to the Live 2 Knit website and order on line. At the site you can see all 27 hand dyed colours.

Easy to find? Yes

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Absolutely definitely yes

Alpaca Silk by Blue Sky Alpacas. 50% alpaca, 50% silk, sportweight, 50g, 133 metres. $16.50.

Silk alpaca yarn

Mmmmmmmmmm. This is gorgeous stuff. I’ve just done a design in this for the next YARN magazine, so again, I’ve had a good play with this yarn, including soaking and blocking it. The alpaca gives the yarn softness and spring and the silk gives the yarn a beautiful lustre, just what you want in a luxury yarn. The finished garment (sorry I can’t tell you what it is) is not too heavy, not too light. Blocking greatly improved the look of this yarn so if you are swatching it, make sure you block it before you make any decisions. It feels strong and has a high twist, so your garment will probably last a good long time. As with the 100% silk I recommend using steel needles or at least extremely smooth and slippery bamboo needles. I recommend it for scarves of all kinds and evening wear. It comes in 28 colours and you can find it at the Wool Shack in Australia, at Loop in London and at heaps of stores in the US.

Easy to find? Yes

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Absolutely yes

100% Alpaca Sportweight by Blue Sky Alpacas. 50g, 100 metres

100% alpaca

Woolly, cosy and comfy, this alpaca yarn is just what alpaca yarn should be. It’s not scratchy either. The ballband says it’s sportweight but it’s closer to a DK weight yarn and at 100 metres to 50g, I reckon they should call it DK weight. It doesn’t have a high twist but it doesn’t seem to split so you can use pointy needles if that’s what you like. If you knit it at a medium to tight tension you should get a very long lasting garment out of this excellent quality yarn. I recommend it for hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, cardigans and jumpers. 35 colours are available so there is plenty to choose from and plenty of scope for colour work. I bought mine at Loop in London but I’ve been unable to find it here in Australia. The Wool Shack stocks some Blue Sky Alpacas yarns but not this one, strangely enough. To get your hands on some you’ll probably have to get it from a US online store for $8.50US or from Loop for 6.20GBP.

Easy to find? Not so easy in Australia

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Yes

Luna Park by Ornaghi Filati. 100% merino, fingering weight, 50g, 200 metres, made in Italy.

Luna park yarn

For a 100% merino yarn, designed for socks and baby garments this isn’t a very soft yarn. It feels a little hard in the ball and feels scratchy when knitted up. Luna Park comes in six colourways, all of which are self striping and form fairly wide stripes if knitted into socks. Of the six colourways, 4 are pretty and the other two are less inspiring, but you may like them. You can go to the Ornaghi Filati website to look at the colours. I trawled the internet this morning trying to find a store in Australia that sells this yarn to no avail. At a US online yarn store you can find it for $7.50US.

Easy to find? No

Expensive? Reasonable

Worth the cost/effort? No

N-52 by Habu Textiles. 68% kid mohair, 32% nylon, 14 grams, 278 metres.

Habu

No, I didn’t make a typing error…it really is sold in 14 gram balls and there really is 278 metres in a ball. That’s how fine this yarn is. The best word to describe this yarn is EXQUISITE!! You’ll need your strongest reading glasses and loads of patience as you work with it but do persevere; your end result will last a lifetime. Owing to the nylon, this is a surprisingly strong yarn. It might be cobweb-fine but it’s hard to break. I would recommend a very simple lace pattern, perhaps just some basic eyelet patterns in garter stitch so that it doesn’t drive you crazy and so that the fuzziness of the mohair doesn’t detract from the pattern. With 278 metres in this tiny ball, I doubt you’d need more than one ball for a scarf and no more than two for a shawl. Can you imagine a shawl weighing only 28 grams? It would be like wearing a cloud. This is the finest, softest, most beautiful mohair you’ll find. AND the most knitting you’ll ever get out of 14 grams. As far as I know, you can’t get it in Australia so you’ll have to go online. I suggest Loop, based in London or a US based online store. It might cost $18US a ball but why not spend that on a truly exquisite yarn that will surely become an heirloom.

Easy to find? Not really

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Most definitely yes!

MERRY CHRISTMAS

I hope all my readers have a very happy Christmas. The weather in Adelaide will likely be 28 degrees so not too hot for a roast but perfect for Christmas lunch outside.  Hope you all get what you wished for and have lovely day doing whatever it is you’re planning to do.

Happy  Christmas everyone. (If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I wish you a fun and happy whatever you celebrate!)

Sarah.

 

Christmas recipes 13 December, 2007

Filed under: Craft,Home cooking,Travel,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 10:30 am
Tags: , , ,

Hi there everybody, it’s been a while since I posted but for a very good reason. I’ve been in England for 2 and a half weeks and then at Moonta Bay for 3 days. For your reading pleasure this week I have a couple of Christmas recipes, a little report on my trip to England and some ideas for making your own gift tags. Enjoy.

CHRISTMAS PUNCH

Here’s a recipe for making your own Christmassy punch. In our family, whenever we make punch for a party, it must include pineapple juice, ginger beer and cold black tea. These are the essentials and any other drinks such as orange juice or lemonade may be added. Just add whatever you like and see how it tastes! We had 6 people over for dinner last night and what follows is what I put in the punch. It was pretty popular. I also make it when the weather is stinking hot and plenty of cold drinks are wanted.

Ingredients: 750ml ginger beer, 1 litre pineapple juice, 1 litre cranberry drink, 500ml strong black tea, 750ml lemonade, large handful of mint leaves, ice cubes.

Make up the tea in a jug and allow to cool then refrigerate. Have all the other drinks nice and cold. Not long before you want to drink the punch, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl or very clean bucket. Since you probably can’t fit a bucket in your fridge, it’s a good idea to make sure all the ingredients are nicely chilled before you make it. Fill a large jug with punch and add some ice cubes and serve.

The cranberry drink added a Christmassy flavour and a lovely red colour to the punch.

Christmas punch

SAGE AND ONION STUFFING

Stuffing for your Christmas chicken or turkey is easy to make yourself so there is no excuse for buying packet stuffing that is stuffed with artificial flavours and dehydrated mystery. This is the way I always make stuffing but usually without the sage and some extra dried herbs.

Ingredients: for one chicken (double everything for a turkey): 2 slices good quality bread, a large handful of fresh sage, 1 tsp mixed dried herbs, 1 onion, 1 clove garlic, olive oil, large pinch salt.

Cut the bread into 1cm cubes, finely chop the onion and sage and crush the garlic. Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl and mix well. Add enough olive oil to moisten the mixture. You may need up to a quarter cup. Mix well. Before you stuff the bird, wipe the cavity with a paper towel to remove any extra moisture. Pack the stuffing firmly into the bird and cook as you normally would.

I don’t have a picture of the stuffing because all the stuffing from 2 chickens got eaten!

MAKE YOUR OWN GIFT TAGS

I like to make my own gift tags each Christmas from various scraps of cardboard and last year’s cards. I always keep the cards that have suitable pictures to be reused. In an hour or so you can make as many cards as you’ll need. This is a good activity for the kids to get involved with.

What you need: scraps of thin cardboard, old Christmas cards, scissors, glue, a hole punch, stick on stars

Card scraps

Here are some ideas of tags you can make from scraps like the ones above:

Just cut out a pretty picture from a card and punch a hole in one corner

gift tags

Cut the pretty borders from old cards and glue them to a piece of plain coloured cardboard. Add some stars.

gift tags

Cut small pictures from old cards and glue them to a piece of plain coloured cardboard

gift tags

HOLIDAYS

From 13th November to 2nd December I was in England visiting my sister, her husband and their 10 month old baby. This was the first time I had seen my niece. She is the sweetest little thing and is even cute when she is crying because of the way she sticks her bottom lip out.  They live just out of Oxford and we spent most of our time in the Oxford area and we went to London for a few days. I did plenty of wandering around Oxford. Even if you don’t go any touristy places, Oxford is lovely just to walk around. My sister and I went to St Edmunds Hall which is one of the oldest colleges. The chapel was decorated by William Morris and the wood carvings are especially lovely. We had a brief wander in the Bodleian Library and we went to see the graves of Tolkein and CS Lewis, two of my favourite authors. Aside from that we went for a few drives, visited some family and lazed around watching tv.

I only went to 2 yarn shops while I was there. The yarn shop in Witney (a small town near Oxford) has pretty run-of-the-mill yarns such as Sirdar and Debbie Bliss but it also has all the Noro yarns. While in London we went to Loop in Islington. It is very up-market and has a good range of high-end silk, alpaca, merino, cashmere and loads of books. I bought some Blue Sky Alpacas pure alpaca and silk/alpaca blend yarns, some sock yarns and two tiny balls of Habu kid mohair/nylon. Yes I was feeling rich and reckless that day! If you are in the Islington area of London Loop is definitely worth a visit. I’ll no doubt do a review of some of these yarns at some stage.

Wow, real life holly (this is a novelty for an Australian at Christmas)

Real holly

A church in a tiny Oxfordshire village, Shelsbury

Shelsbury church

Tolkein’s grave at Wolvercote Cemetary, just outside of Oxford

Tolkein’s grave

Last weekend we went to Moonta Bay on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia for a few days with Matthew’s family. We fished off the jetty, ate the fish and generally lazed about. It’s beautiful there. I can definitely recommend it for a few days of fishing and relaxing. We caught squid, garfish, tommies and some mackerel-type things that we didn’t know the name of. We also caught trumpet fish but they don’t taste good so we threw them back. If you catch a trumpet fish and hold it up to your ear you can hear it honking quietly. Amazing!

Moonta Bay Jetty

IN OTHER NEWS

Good news Australian yarn lovers! YARN magazine has found a buyer and will be continuing. The next issue will be out in March 2008. I’ll be continuing to write the Yarn on a Shoestring column and will be having more of my patterns published.

Well that’s it for this week. Coming up next week: yarn reviews galore (well maybe 2 or 3).

Have a great week. Sarah.