sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


If I had to categorize myself, I'd say that instead of being a process or a product knitter I'm a utilitarian one. I prefer making things that will get a lot of use in their lives-- socks, toys for the kid, etc. I can wear socks in the witches' hot of summer, but can't get the same use out of other accessories so I just don't make as many. I want to use the things I make all the time, every day... for me (until recently!) that's been socks.

Sometimes though... sometimes I wish I were more a 'real' knitter who made things to be worn a few times during a season, cherished and super special and not as much about utility as about luxury and relishing the time spent on oneself in turning out a showstopper that will last forever.

I think my utilitarian attitude has carried over to my spinning-- I spin very utilitarian yarns, and try to spin enough of them to comprise an entire project (as opposed to handspun yarns that are intended as a trim or to be paired with another yarn to complete the project). They're usually machine washable cos that's how I roll... and I aim for them to be even and smooth and while definitely handspun, comparable to commercial yarns in the plug and play way we yarn substituters know all about.

I've been thinking about all of this, as well as the EtsyFAST group challenge project (EtsyFAST chooses one theme per month to create an object around-- this month is "earth"), and then this shows up on my doorstep...

...a sampling of another huge freshwater pearl and semiprecious stone order for more stitch markers for my etsy store, and I can't help myself.

I spun novelty yarn.

Well, as novelty as I can get right now, anyway :)

Handspun merino-silk-sari silk super bulky yarn, beaded with freshwater pearls
(pearls strung onto merino/cashmere commercial laceweight)
3 plies of wool/silk + 1 laceweight, 4-5 wraps per inch
approx 10.5 oz total weight and 126 yds across 4 skeins
over 200 freshwater pearls

(click for big for today's photos, i think it's worth it :))

This was a really fun project. Sure, stringing the pearls onto the laceweight (Yarnplace Gentle) was a little tedious, as was the pearls occasionally getting caught in my wheel's orifice when winding on... but overall I was really happy to have finished it and know it's something unique to me and not so practical :)


I think I also hit the nail on the head for the EtsyFAST challenge as well... for me, I took "earth" to mean the Earth-- land sea and air. The merino took care of the land, the silk the air, and the pearls the sea... so even though I'm barely under the deadline for entering (next month/tomorrow is a new challenge!) I'm happy with my first and not last street team project entry. You can check out other recent EtsyFAST street team entries by searching etsy for "etsyfast octoberchallenge" or our entire street team's items with "etsyfast."


The spinning fiber was from -- a small homestead off the grid farm with a great eye for color and a flock of happy sheep :) (The batts turned up on one of my etsy friday posts here.) The batts were textured but luxurious, spinning into a rustic looking yarn made of super refined material. (I already have another special order placed with Enchanted Knoll, can't wait to share it on an upcoming etsy friday!)


Plying the singles was the new thing for me-- I tied the laceweight next to the leader when plying, had all 3 bobbins of singles on the lazy kate on the floor in front of the wheel and the laceweight prestrung with pearls off to my right side. The Yarnplace Gentle comes in a center pull ball, making it incredibly easy on me to just go with it... even though the weight of the pearls on the laceweight slowed down the uptake of the yarn, as well as just the general drag of moving the pearls further down the laceweight and pulling more up and out of the ball as the spinning took up more of it.

I pulled up a pearl snugly against the outside of the 3 plies of fiber and let them wrap around while holding the pearl snug against... and just kept going. They were randomly and frequently placed-- I still am geeking out that I managed to ply over 200 pearls onto the yarn :)


I did precheck that each pearl would make it thru the orifice on my Joy before stringing-- I actually wanted to use some much larger pearls but they wouldn't fit :( Even prechecking each, the pearls often caught and stopped the yarn uptake on the bobbin; once I got the hang of the timing between placing a pearl on the yarn and it reaching the orifice, I could easily help it thru the 45 degree turn up and out. Beading is probably good practice in "marking" yarn to see how quickly it moves from hands to orifice to bobbin, despite how slow it could go.


I intentionally plied this yarn tightly... not only because I'm so used to doing it, but also because I wanted to effectively hide/trap the laceweight yarn within the 3 plies when it wasn't being used to bead the yarn. This resulted in a super dense yarn, soft but with a solid feel to each individual strand.

Try as I might though, this yarn does have a few practical characteristics :) Even at "only" 126 yards, there is enough of it to make a simple garter stitch scarf when using appropriate needles-- it doesn't have to be an accent yarn. I think it would also work for a small muff too, if I wanted to think impracticality :) The batts' base fiber was superwash merino, so even though I don't think it's a super idea to machine wash any FOs made with it (esp. since the laceweight isn't superwash)-- the care of the yarn is going to be less rigorous than other luxury beaded novelty yarns while still remaining next to the skin soft.

I did, crazily, list this yarn for sale in my shop with an equally crazy price. I doubt it will sell (if it does, dude...!!), so expect to see this made into a one of a kind scarf come post-holiday knitting. :)


PurlingPirate said...

It's incredible and has me drooling all over my laptop!!! You totally need to make something for yourself out of it! In the meantime, I'll just dream that it's mine.

Lori said...

Just, wow.

Joan said...

That's so gorgeous! I don't know if you've seen this before but sells swavorski crystals strung on cashmere and cotton yarns so that might be a less tedious way to do something similar next time.

Kirsten said...


Anonymous said...

that is SO gorgeous and I only wish that I were independently wealthy so that I could buy it from you and then perhaps knit it and give it back.

I'm like you, always looking for practicality, and I hate novelty yarns/yarns with beads and sequins and fun fur and blech, but there's something about that stuff that looks both practical and frilly frothy all at once. so lovely.

Anonymous said...

holy cannoli that is some intresting yarn you spun up!

bellamoden said...

OMG, that is so gorgeous!

lexa said...

It's gorgeous! I'd never ever have the patience to do anything like that. It would knit into a beautiful scarf, though.

yvette said...

Its absolutely gorgeous, I like to be able to spin enough yarn to be usable but I have been spinning with beads and love it, though stringing is tedious and it is amazing how many you need.
I just spun the roving I bought from you and it is very pretty.

Sherry W said...

Isn't the beads kind of fun? Tilli eat her heart out. :)

jenfromRI said...

I don't usually like novelty yarn but that it awesome!

If I had a spare $198 . . .

Lothlorian said...

that yarn is amazing, really nice, some of these can be scary but thats classy looking.

Thats a very pretty picture of the markers in waiting ;) too, I LOVE the colour of the blue ones near the front, so beautiful

Josiane said...

Novelty yarn spun by a primarily utilitarian spinner = gorgeous stuff! I love that it is both non-utilitarian and practical: the mix is very interesting. Well done!

Sandy said...

that is really pretty. If I had $$ I would buy it in a heartbeat

WandaWoman said...

It's beautiful yarn, truly. I have to say that I am definitely one of those persons who knits for utility. I might knit something just for the fun of it, but I rarely knit something without the thought of it being used.

Stacey said...

that is amazing! very artistic....

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