Monday, November 16, 2009

WOOL, specifically Briggs & Little's Regal

There is a great article in the latest Twist Collective, called "The Softness Myth" by Clara Parkes. It is an excerpt from her new book, The Knitter's Book of Wool. Click here to read the article. (I had a mini-gush-fest about her Knitter's Book of Yarn last winter, and have asked for the new book for Christmas this year. Whoo!)

Wool is definitely my favourite fibre -- there is so much variety, it looks so crisp, and I love the natrual properties: warm even when wet, flame-resistant, etc. I won't drone on.

This seems like a good time to write about the yarn I am using for one of my current WIPs. My husband had been asking for a sweater, so I picked a few patterns that were within my skill and interest level, and let him pick the one he liked best. Ever unique, he selected Tiennie's Fog Sweater, with the cabled sleeves of Jodi Greene's Durrow. He wanted a plain, manly colour -- brown, grey, dark green, etc -- and no stripes. I chose black, always a favourite and easy to coordinate. I wanted a textured yarn, a little rough and with some lanolin as this sweater will be outerwear... A yarn to last a decade, with what I call "character," and I wanted to support a Canadian yarn maker. (We are going through the Canadian citizenship process for my hub, and I'm always saying how great Canada is, so why not use Canadian wool?)

After some research, I settled on Briggs & Little Regal (Rav page), a worsted-weight yarn from a family-run mill in my home province of New Brunswick. The mill is over 150 years old; my grandmother has knit their yarn for decades. What a legacy! The comments on Ravelry really sealed the deal and assured me that it was exactly what I was looking for.

I tried a few retailers, but none had the quantity I needed, so I ordered directly from the mill. The phone service was great, very friendly, and I was pleased with the prices and quick shipping (orders are mailed the next day). I even asked to please make sure the skeins were of the same dye lot and the woman replied, "Oh, we always do!" I highly recommend them!! You can check out the Briggs & Little site here; there's a virtual tour of the mill.

The sweater is going really well. I haven't taken a picture because a big, black piece of 1x1 ribbing isn't too interesting. I'm halfway through the second hank, and have come across one spot where the yarn was tied off (I just cut out the knot and spit-spliced the ends together). Otherwise, it's been great. There is some variety in the thickness/thinness of the yarn, but I'm sure it will even out upon blocking, and hell, it gives it the character I wanted. It is lightweight: I used 3.5mms for the hem of the sweater, and 3.75mms for the body. The yarn does make my hands a little dry when I work with it, ande there's a bit of vegetable matter to pull out, but nothing major. I'm going to wash and block the sweater before making my final verdict, but so far I am very happy with my choice.

Oh, and I'm very happy with the Fog Sweater pattern too :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009


It has been an embarrassingly long time since I last posted. And I was so excited to share pictures from my little fabric shopping trip in upstate New York -- oh, but I haven't even taken the pictures yet. Oh well. I have so far made 2 skirts -- but it is much too cold to wear them before Spring -- and I just finished up a gift I was making for my hubs for our 1st anniversary, which is next week.

He has a beloved bathrobe that I've been trying to replace without much success... So I figured I'd make a replacement! I got yards and yards (FIVE!) of blue terrycloth at Joanne's during the trip I mentioned (and was able to use a 50% off coupon) -- I'd have preferred a different colour, but light pink and light blue were the only choices. I figured most bathrobe patterns would be the same, so I selected a Simplicity 2-hour pattern. However, it took much longer than 2 hours, as I double- or triple-sewed every seam. I want this to last gosh dang it, and since I was working with terry cloth (and have no pinking shears), I made sure to zig-zag as well straight-stitch every seam.

SOMETHING TO NOTE about the pattern: the measurements on the pattern envelope did seem quite large -- the large size had a chest measurement of 48-50 inches. THAT'S HUGE compared to a man's size "L" t-shirt. I went with that anyway, thinking bigger is better and cozier... Then when I was looking up the pattern to include a pic with this post, I learnt that THIS IS A PLUS-SIZE PATTERN. It does not say that anywhere on the envelope or in the pattern -- the only indication is the measurements themselves, and if you didn't know any better, how could you tell? Anyway, it's just a robe so it's not a big deal, but it should have been marked somewhere. Thumbs down.

I omitted the fusible interfacing from the front band (a lot of hassle for a small result), and also left off the belt loops. I did patch pockets rather than the set-in ones the pattern included, to better match the old beloved bathrobe. It had been ages since I last used a pattern and jeez, I forgot how tiring it is to first cut out all of the pattern pieces, and then pin them down and cut the fabric.

The bathrobe was sewn surreptitiously over a few weekends: I washed and cut the fabric at my mother's house right after it was purchased. (Okay I admit my mum cut it -- I'm left-handed couldn't get her sewing scisssors through 2 thick layers.) I've been working on it while my husband has been out to watch his weekly football game. It had to be done over a few weeks, mostly because of the time it took me to remove the fabric from its hiding place and set up my sewing station, as well as re-hide the fabric and clean up all evidence. TERRY CLOTH SHEDS - A LOT. I've had to sweep each time, as well as use the lint-roller on myself, my chair, the ironing board, the door mat...