Sunday, January 11, 2015

Revenge of the black yarn.

You may recall, in my last exciting post about knitting, that I ranted about black yarn. It's boring to knit with, I said. It's hard to see the stitches in low light, I said. (Especially when you have dark-colored needles like I do -- which I meant to say but forgot.) The next person who wants me to make something with black yarn is going to get dragged to a yarn shop and forced to pick another color, I said.

Clearly, the Goddess of Black Yarn heard me. And apparently, She has a sense of humor.

My current knitting project is a shawl called Eden Prairie. Here's what it looks like:


Pretty, huh? The designer, Nancy Whitman, said on her website that it's meant to mimic stained glass. I was drawn to it because of the Frank Lloyd Wright vibe it gives off: it has the clean lines of Prairie School architecture, and yeah, that stained-glass effect along the bottom edge.

So when I was looking through Ravelry for a pattern to use the two skeins of wool/bamboo blend sock yarn I'd bought on a whim, this one jumped out at me. I dug through my yarn stash and determined that the leftover yarn from my Celestarium shawl would look great with the new yarn, and I had plenty left for the diamonds. And at the Shenandoah Fiber Fest last fall, I picked up a skein of recycled black yarn for the borders.

About recycled yarn: Craft stores sometimes stock cheap yarn made of recycled acrylic, but that's not what I'm talking about. There are crafters out there who buy commercially-made sweaters at thrift stores and unravel them. They can then either reuse the yarn for their own projects, or wind it into a skein and sell it. (If you're interested in the process -- or if you think I'm making this up -- go here for directions.)

The yarn I bought was a wool/alpaca/cashmere blend. It's soft and very lovely. It's also, as I mentioned, black.

A knitting pattern gives you a list of stuff you need to make the project. If I had made the list for the Eden Prairie, I would have put colors A, B, and C first, and the border color (BC) last. But the designer listed them in the order you use them in the project: color A, color B, BC, and color C. Which makes sense if you know the pattern. For somebody who's coming to it for the first time, maybe not so much. Or maybe I just need to pay attention better. In any case, I read the last item on the list as needing 105 yards of yarn, so I bought a smallish skein (136 yards) of the recycled black. Turns out I needed 105 yards for the diamonds, and 175 yards of black. And of course, I didn't figure this out until I was well into the project. I soldiered on anyway, thinking that maybe I could stretch what I had to make it work.

So here's where I am. The shawl is done except for the top and bottom borders. I couldn't lay it out flat for the photo because the bottom edge is all grunched up on my longest circular needle. I need to knit six more rows along that bottom edge, then pick up stitches along the top edge and knit seven rows there. And that little bobble of black at the bottom left of the shawl is all I have left of my lovely recycled yarn.

The good news is that I was able to contact the seller. She has some of this yarn left and she promised to put it in the mail to me tomorrow. This is how I know the Goddess of Black Yarn doesn't really have it in for me; if She did, I'd have to use some other yarn to finish the project.

So the shawl will be done soon, and it will be gorgeous, and I take back everything I said about knitting with black yarn. I've changed my mind. It's awesome. Really.

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These moments of bloggy black yarniness have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell -- who just loves knitting with black yarn, honest.
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