Monday, June 16, 2008


I had read about Yubina on Fleegle's blog. This Mongolian cashmere can be ordered only online. If I hadn't heard of the positive experiences of others, I probably would not have ordered, because there is no address or direct contact information on the website, except for an email address.

But on the plus side, the website offers a variety of weights, colors and blends. So far, the reviews of other bloggers have been great.

I was at work on Wednesday when my hubby called and told me a curious little package had arrived with Chinese stamps on it. He said it looked too small and felt a little too heavy to be yarn. Hmmm ... if they had shipped me a box of rocks, I would be mad, to say the least!

When I got home from work that day, I barely had enough time to scoop up the box and my knitting bag to hurry over to my knitting pal Nina's house for knit night. When she opened the door, I held up the unopened box reverently, and she instantly knew what I had brought for show-and-tell.

I had ordered the yarn on May 26. On May 30, I received an email from Jeremy at Yubina that the yarn had shipped. The package arrived on June 11. That's 16 days -- not bad for going halfway around the world and through customs.

Nina handed me a box knife and I carefully cut open the package. The tension was palpable. Would it be a box of joy or disappointment?

Gasps all around -- joy!

The purple is 50 grams, 500 yds per ball, 100% cashmere. The color is heathery; it looks like dark and light purple mixed together. You can't really tell how heathery from the photos on the Yubina website. It's super soft and squishy, and would make a lovely shawl.

The blue is 45% cashmere and 50% silk. The other 5% I'm assuming is some sort of synthetic binder, but the website does not state. The yarn comes without labels or care instructions directly from the manufacturer.

In some cases, they have stopped shipping 50 gram balls, and instead are shipping the 125 gram cones. I had ordered 100 grams (two balls) of the blue, but got a cone instead -- so I got a little extra for no charge.

On closer inspection, I found that the blue is a three-ply yarn. Two of the plies are a soft baby blue, and one ply is a similar but slightly brighter blue (probably the silk ply). The combination has depth, and I'm extremely pleased with this choice. In fact, I swatched this weekend for the Princess Shawl from Heirloom Knitting. This yarn is definitely a possibility. I like the tight twist and the smoothness. I don't think I want anything too fuzzy or springy for Princess. The silk adds a nice shine and drape. I love this stuff!

One thing I know for sure: I will not use my Inox greys with this yarn. I tried swatching with a 2mm (US 0) needle, and the Inox tips were definitely not sharp enough. The Addi Lace or Hiya Hiya needles are good choices. I have some of each brand, but the Inox was the first one I grabbed.

I knit a swatch from one of the Princess charts, 20 sts by 30 rows. I washed it under cool water in the sink, squeezed it in a towel and pinned it out to dry. As I was pinning, I started thinking about blocking the grand Princess Shawl when it's completed.

First of all, look how many pins! This is just a swatch! I'm going to need a zillion pins when I block the shawl. Of course, I have about a year or so before I have to do that.
I'm going to get some gardening knee pads for that job.

I do have blocking wires (actually welding rods) and a big rolled up piece of berber carpet in the garage that I use just for blocking large pieces of lace, but the Princess may be bigger than that.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Paisley Progress and a Cone Spinner

I've made some progress on the Paisley Long Shawl. The shawl is knitted from the center provisional cast on toward each end, beginning with the small botehs (flowers), followed by small paisleys, then large paisleys, then hexagons. The paisleys in the photo look upside-down because the provisional cast on is at the bottom. The work is hanging from my circular needle as I progress toward the end of the first half of the shawl.

When I get to the end of the first half, I will pick up stitches from my provisional cast on, and work the second half of the shawl, from the center toward the other end.

The edging on either side is knitted as you progress down the long rectangle. I've put some noticeable stitch markers in between the edging and the main body on either side to alert me.

This design is a pleasure to knit. I can't say enough good things about Fiddlesticks patterns. They are clear and well-written. The pattern changes from row to row, so it never gets tedious for me. I would recommend this pattern to experienced lace knitters. It is true knitted lace (lace patterning on both sides).

As I began to knit this shawl with my Euroflax linen, I struggled a little bit with pulling the yarn from the cone. It wasn't a huge problem, but it didn't flow as smoothly as I would have liked. I started thinking about making a cone spinner. I've knit from cones before, and I knew it was something I would use again and again.

At first, I considered size and portability. I wanted this light enough to bring to my knitting group and small enough to fit into my knitting bag, yet it had to be stable so that yanking on the yarn wouldn't knock it off the table.

The spinner mechanism is simply a small lazy susan about 3" across, purchased from the local hardware store. The wood pieces are two cedar fence post caps that we happened to have in the garage. They are about 4.25" across with beveled edges.

The dowel is another scrap from the garage, about one inch in diameter and five inches long. The pieces were sanded and stained with some leftover redwood stain.

Hubby drilled pilot holes in the center of the dowel and the center of one fence post cap. He screwed the cap to the dowel, countersinking the screw and adding a drop of wood glue between the cap and dowel.

With all the pieces in order, I tested the spinner with my Euroflax cone, and it seemed to work very well. It spun freely and didn't tip over. I tried it with a larger cone, and it still seemed stable and spun freely. More on this when I have more experience using it.