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December 10, 2005

Mom, I hope you're ready!

The yarn arrived earlier this week, and pretty much caused my jaw to drop to the floor.

The base yarn is Henry's Attic Silk & Ivory, 50% silk/50% wool. It feels like a dream - very soft, smooth, and silky, doesn't split, moves effortlessly over my needles. The silk content makes it look metallic, exactly like my mom wanted. I chose this yarn based on the recommendation of the dyer, and she certainly suggested a great one.

The hand-dyeing is entirely custom. I described to the dyer what my mom wanted, and we communicated over the course of a week as she dyed samples for me and e-mailed pictures of the results. We went back and forth until the color looked as close to perfect as possible to both of us.

The color is very difficult to describe and even more difficult to photograph. It has a hand-dyed consistency - nearly solid, but with subtle variations in intensity and hue. It is a rich and complex gray, and has hints of blue, purple, green, and brown depending on the time of day and what the yarn is sitting next to. The silk sheen immediately conjures images of mountain tops glistening in the sun, charcoal, hematite, mercury, steel.

When the yarn is knit up, it looks more blue, a heathery denim type of blue. Beautiful.

Clearly the dyer understood exactly what my mom wanted - I mean, look at it!

I know you will ask - the dyer is a friend who is in the very final stages of setting up her own hand-dyeing yarn business. She will offer custom hand-dyed yarns of various varieties, so, like me, her customers will be able to select a color(s) and a yarn for their project, and have the totally customized package arrive at their doorstep within a few weeks. She is very detail-oriented, and you see the incredible accuracy of the results - this type of business is meant to be run by people like my friend. Anyway, she would like me to maintain her anonymity until the business is up and running in early 2006, at which point (believe you me) I will most certainly reveal to you who dyed this yarn for me. I hope the suspense isn't going to kill you :).

I admired the yarn lovingly for a few days, and last night I finally had the chance to cast-on for mom's Leaf Lace Shawl. The yarn is a thin sportweight (17 wraps per inch), and I will be making the small shawl size: 33" deep, 68" across top. The pattern suggests a US 8 for knitting sportweight yarn, and although I don't want to stray too far from the pattern, I went down to a US 7 - my yarn is on the thin side of sportweight, and I think I'll like the fabric better.

This is the stereotypical "wad o' lace" picture. There will be many more just like this in the future, but with each I will be claiming that I've "knit some more."

I am using an Addi Natura circular needle, which Savannahchik Jody recommended. It's been a really long time since I've used bamboo needles, and it took me a little while to get used to the grab. But the tips are pointy enough, and the joins are smooth, and the yarn is very slick, so a few rows into the knitting I was back in the comfort zone. After completing 3 out of the 10 repeats, I think I may need to get a longer one! I got a 24" needle - that's a very standard, comfortable size for me, most of my needles are this length. But the stitches are starting to bunch up, and the pattern recommends a 29" or 32" needle, so I may need to upgrade.

Everything is going very well so far. I've had to tink back a few times, typically because I forget that the midline of the shawl needs to be worked differently than the two halves. I don't know if this is the type of pattern than can be memorized, but I'm definitely not there yet. Maybe I'll be able to do this lace-knitting thing after all? Granted I'm not working with true laceweight (that's definitely on my radar - next project), but I'm enjoying the process so far ;).

Posted by Kathy on December 10, 2005 12:30 PM


The yarn looks and sounds gorgeous. I can't wait to learn who this mystery hand dyer could be. Beautiful!

The color is gorgeous, just perfect. I'm glad you were able to get exactly what your mom wished for, she'll be thrilled. I think the color and yarn choice combined to make an even better shawl than the fiber trends one. The beautiful knitting helps of course ; ) Can't wait to see this project's progress


Perfect, perfect, PERFECT!

It has a strikingly irridescent (sp?) quality.

It's SOOO pretty!

Is it clear that I dig it? Hehehe.

The color is wonderful, as is your description and the photos. Your mother will be so very happy with the lovely shawl, and you will have literally wrapped her in your love. Blessings!!

it's really gorgeous.. are you bitten by the lace bug yet? The colour is fabulous and the pattern not too difficult to memorise. It's even going to look better after blocking. You think your mom will get her shawl before the new year?

Its beautiful. I do believe you chose winners for both pattern and yarn. How could mom not love it?

The color is gorgeous! She will adore it!

Your lace looks very nice as well.

That yarn is gorgeous! Hope your friend has some help lined up, she could be very busy once she goes 'public'. Looking forward to the finished shawl.

My goodness, that is lovely yarn. I might have to take a deep breath, get over the initial sticker shock of the price, and buy my own bundle! Can't wait to see the finished product - your mom is sure to love it.

That color is gorgeous! I love it and I'm sure your mom will too.

Beautiful lace and I love the color, simply gorgeous.

Right on! Is the mystery dyer going to name the color "Grumperina" so we can all order it in 2006?

That yarn is beautiful. And it looks like the lace knitting is going well!

Ooh, that yarn looks SO beautiful!! Absolutely gorgeous.

Gorgeous yarn - I love 50/50 wool/silk. Looking forward to your friend getting her business going, too!

Good lord! Look at the price!! And that's for the undyed yarn!

I gotta figure your freind will charge what she's worth for her custom services. Factor in that, and I think the yarn will be out of the reach of almost everyone's budget.

But then again, I like to say: youse gets what youse pays for.

That is one beautiful shawl.

The dye job is fabulous and that color will go with everything.

One lucky mom.

I love how the color changes in different light. So beautiful! I'm sure your mom would love it!

I am a bit surprised by the comments about the yarn price being so high. At 1/3 of a pound, and 2000yds to a pound, my math says you're getting 660+yds for $26.50. Or have I slipped a decimal point? That's the equivalent of 3 skeins at 1.75oz (the usual putup for that gauge yarn), which makes it under $9US per skein. Seems like a most reasonable price for 50/50 wool/silk.

I've clearly been spending much more time in LYSs than at Michaels!! My yarn price standards have adjusted upward quite a bit. I paid $8 this week for 220yds of Rowan's new Nashua yarn, which is 75% wool, 25% alpaca. And that seemed a pretty good price.

absolutely beautiful - both the colour, the yarn and the pattern. mmmmlovely!

it looks gorgeous! i love silk/wool blends and that one has the classic sheen to it. i can't see the subtleties in the coloring but maybe i'll be able to see it in person in a few weeks (unless it's done and mailed by then!).

i'm glad you like the naturas. i had the same initial reaction to them (i use mostly addi turbos) but i really do like them better for lace.

oh - that purl ridge "vein" in the center really does pop like i thought it would. i'm convinced more than ever i need something thicker for mine.

I can't wait to see it in person. You'd never believe it, but before I fell in love with orange and pink grey was one of my very favorite colors! What a special gift this will be!

You look like a pro to me! Kudos on a lovely job so far. I look forward to your continued progress!

Beautiful shawl in progress! Lovely color, albeit the anthesis of the Leaf Lace Shawl I made...Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Neon - very vibrant hot pink, yellow and orange :)

I love my addi naturas for lace knitting too. if you think you're gonna continue lace knitting I would recommend the 40 inch naturas....great for any shawl/large project and you can magic loop for smailler knitting. Being a financially challenged grad student myself, I found this the most cost effective way to go!

Hi, a lurker here. I bought a cone of Silk & Ivory, and have made one shawl with it so far, undyed. It's quite reasonably priced from Wool2Dye4. It was lovely to work with, blocked like a dream, develops just the tiniest bit of halo, and is light but warm. Your color is beautiful, and I'm inspired to try dyeing some soon. Your mom will love it.

It's absolutely gorgeous! I look forward to discovering your source as soon as she's up and running! What a lovely pattern too.

What a gorgeous colour, it looks perfect.

What a lovely start! I admire your attention to detail; I'm sure your mom will love the color of the yarn.

I am swooning over that yarn. Lucky you to get to work with it, and even luckier, your mom.

Kathy, it looks beautiful. The pattern and yarn are a perfect match. And I love that the yarn has a bit of metallic sheen to it. Lovely!

Gorgeous. Isn't it nice to be able to get exactly what you want? I know your mom will love it.

That is truly stunning... the knitting and the yarn color. That color works perfectly with that pattern. It's all just perfect.

That is just gorgeous! I would love to do lace someday. i attempted lace a while ago, it was just so hard to tink when you do something wrong....

What a gorgeous color! Just got some 50/50 silk/wool from Alchemy yarns and I'm hoping it will knit up as beautifully as that.

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