just keep knitting

October 1, 2010

before i get to the meat of this post,
i must confess to being a bad friend.
in my last entry
i only thanked my friend annette for my new bag.
but it she wasn’t the only one involved.
my friend zelda also had a hand in my ballsack.

so thanks zelda.

i owe you one.

now for the knitting stuff:
rhinebeck is two weeks away,
and i’m a little behind on my sweater.

i’ve got the sleeves done,
and about ten inches of body.
i have seven more before i join the sleeves
and do the yoke.

when i say it out loud,
it feels impossible.
but keep citing the knitting olympics:
17 days
1 sweater.

i can do this.

right?

someone please validate me.

i also want to talk about shelter,
brooklyn tweed’s new line of yarn.
about the yarn, he writes:

As the summer ended last year, I began researching answers to very specific questions I had been asking myself for some time: With such a rich textile history and an abundance of wool and other resources, why does it sometimes seem so difficult to obtain American yarns in our booming US knitting community? Would it be possible to develop a 100% American sourced, spun, and designed yarn that could be presented in a compelling way to knitters? What would a yarn look like that was developed from Stage One by a single person with no one to answer to but his own personal wool obsession?

The desire to answer these questions sparked the beginning of a year-long journey – one that begins a new chapter today, as SHELTER takes its first steps into the real world.

SHELTER is a woolen-spun 2-ply yarn made from American Targhee-Columbia fleece, grown in Wyoming. The yarn is spun in historic Harrisville, New Hampshire in the heart of New England, in a mill town that has been producing woolen yarns and fabrics since 1794. I have developed a palette of 17 shades including both rich, autumnal colors as well as natural sheep-colors (you didn’t think I’d forget the greys, did you?) The yarn is a very lightly-spun lofty material that, as a result of it’s woolen-spun process, knits at a variety of gauges comfortably without losing fabric integrity.

[…].

Globally speaking, I think that knitters should be able to procure wools of high-quality that support designers, farmers and mills in our own back yard. I think there is now becoming an opportunity for yarns to tell us a story, and offer us a connection to something deeper than just the experience we’re having on our needles.

Consider this my contribution to that cause. I very much hope that you enjoy it.

i think it’s a great idea,
and the yarn is very very yummy looking,
but i just can’t stop myself from naming some worries:

1 – the price. at $12.50 for 140yds/128m,
it’ll cost a small woman about $125 to make a sweater,
and a guy my size like $163.
yikes!

just for a comparison,
i’m making my rhinebeck sweater out of a yarn from a small mill in michigan, the stonehedge fiber mill.
it’s a 3 ply worsted,
and costs $10 for 250 yds.
that’s about $80 for a sweater for me.
it’s spun worsted
(rather than woolen)
which should cost more right?
(spinners weigh in on this.)

i’m more than willing to spend money on yarn.
but if i’m gonna pay that much,
i want a sweater for life.

which brings me to

2 – a lightly-spun 2 ply (i also need some spinners help on this one)
as i understand it,
being lightly spun
and a 2 ply yarn,
means it will be extra soft.
we in america are obsessed with softness.

(never mind that for thousands of years,
babies have been wrapped in cloth made from wool so scratchy
it would make noro seem like malabrigo)

but lightly spun yarn won’t wear as well, right?
it’s more prone to pilling and felting?
am i wrong?

similarly,
i believe i remember judith mackenzie saying
that you should always use at least a 3 ply for garments
because it wears better.
more plys equals better durability.
am i wrong?

i think the yarn is lovely.
i’ll probably buy some (for a hat).
but i’m worried.
i’m worried that,
like so many american-made products,
it’s going to be amazing at first,
but isn’t made to last.

i know in the knitting world,
criticizing anyone is taboo.
much less a knitter as beloved as brooklyn tweed.
but i think these are important questions to ask.
the recession has scared the shit out of me,
(and has anyone been watching what’s been going on in europe?).
i feel strongly that, in the world of hobby in which knitting resides,
i feel the need to be extra critical of how i spend my money.

please please please
someone, anyone,
tell me i’m wrong!

so that i can buy a sweater lot of shelter.

19 Responses to “just keep knitting”

  1. Karen C Says:

    I’m with you on the long term value of things. But like most consumer products, i’m going to wait for the first wave of purchases to be made and see how everything goes from there. I, also, can not afford a full sweaters worth right now – so that thought keeps my impulses in check.

    And with the sweater – you’re TOTES going to have it done in time! If I can start mine (today) and be done…so will you!

  2. Andrea Says:

    I’m with you on the concerns, especialyl the first. When I saw the blog post I was credit-card-in-hand-purchase-link-clicking when I saw you could but the yarn online. Then I realized that at 140 yards a skein, I was going to have to spend quite the sum to get enough to make something substantial (and I’m not much of a hat wearer, so that’s out).

  3. Andrea Says:

    Oy, did I really misspell especially? I wonder if an especialyl is like a pterodactyl?

  4. Mkonieczki Says:

    Well, thanks for taking the wind out of my sails! lol. J/k. I really want to LOVE Shelter… probably because I sorta have a knitting crush on Jarod Flood… but I think everything you’ve pointed out is valid. Hmmm… sigh. Wish it was availible in a local shop so I could actually touch it.

  5. Andrea M Says:

    You are definitely going to be done with your sweater. You just need a couple long afternoon/evenings and you are there! Mine is almost done. Have to figure out if I will do a fancier bind off on the cuffs and then a couple seams and block! See you soon…

    As far as the Shelter. I like the thinking behind it and I think there will be a market for it. It is really pretty. And someone did a sweater in it on Ravelry. I’ll have to wait till I get a feel and closer look at it. My Rhinebeck sweater is in a loosely spun 2 ply sport weight merino, not sure if the singles were spun worsted or woolen and I am too new of a spinner to always remember the diff anyway. It is not super-soft and is not in the least felt-y in the stitching so I am hopeful that it will wear well. Sometimes though, I do sacrifice durability for softness, incredible beauty, and the experience knitting with a special yarn.

  6. SpillyJane Says:

    Dude, at the end of the day it’s yarn — beautiful yarn with a lovely story behind it that supports and industry that I want to see sustained. Yes it’s a little pricey, but at 140 yards a skein, that’s decent yardage as I see it.

    If it pills a little, it pills a little. Really, nothing lasts forever. Buy a skein or two and take it for a test-knit. I picked up three this morning because I can’t say no to those colours (or those names! So cozy!)

  7. Sally at Rivendale Farms Says:

    On the Rhinebeck – no worries, dude, you’ve got 17 days and you’re fully capable of whirling-dervish speed. You’re golden.

    On the Shelter – I’m torn. I agree I gulped a bit at the price v yardage for what appears to be very yummy wool, but is still, after all, wool. (The alpaca snobbery is an ongoing battle I continue to fight. It appears I’m losing. I’ll continue to work on it and hope the sheep lovers don’t write in.) I’m able to get past the price if the yarn is yummy enough, but agree with you on the rest. If I’m going to spend that kind of money and time on a sweater, the sucker better last and wear beautifully. I’m in the middle of a move, so no budget to check it out, but will later start with a hat’s worth and go from there.

  8. Jess Says:

    You voiced my concerns exactly. I think it’ll be great for those special 1 or 2 skien projects, but I can’t see myself plunking down sweater money on Shelter.

  9. Sally at Rivendale Farms Says:

    Gave this some more thought and a) didn’t mean to come off snarky and b) need to develop more empathy for the fellow farmers out there, all fiber stock included. I went back and read Jared Flood’s intro on the Brooklyn Tweed site and the story behind the yarn. It resonated pretty strongly and I have to applaud the effort to promote and support a local USA fiber industry. Looks like I’ll be buying some Shelter. A lovely scarf’s worth. Jury’s still out on the sweater, but not all yarns are destined to grow up to be a sweater. I’m ok with that.

  10. Kimberly Says:

    Mmmm yeah I see what you mean. I haven’t looked at the prices yet because frankly, I was scared too. I would say that maybe for a sweater you wouldn’t delve or shouldn’t delve into THAT much yarn price-wise unless your making it for the Queen of England, at least at that price because she might wear it once and then it wouldn’t ever get ruined now would it?

    I would say it should be left to lovely garments such as you said…. A hat. A cowl, mittens maybe? or a scarf etc…Those are the types of things maybe it’s best for. Christmas hat & scarf set, now that would be nice :)

    So I agree with you, your not crazy!

  11. Faye Says:

    You can do it! Just keep knitting–you’re going to look great at Rhinebeck in your sweater!

  12. Jenn Says:

    You finished the Knitting Olympics, you are absolutely going to finish before Rhinebeck!

  13. Charissa Says:

    You can totally do it! I did this: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/howe2knit/maire-riding-jacket for the knitting Olympics and only finished a day late. And I have a dog, two cats, a husband and three kids to keep up with as well. You’ve got this! I can’t wait to see it!

  14. Kris Says:

    I guess living in Wisconsin, I can have the best of both worlds, we have several local mills nearby, that do wool and alpaca, it’s not always less expensive (I hate the word cheap, makes things sound like poor quality instead of less pricey)but if you think of all the hard work that goes into what is done and also perhaps at the same time hand dyed or hand painted. It’s worth it.(sorry migraine talking)

  15. Juliet in Grand Rapids Says:

    You’ll do it! You are efficient, determined, and driven. Have fun at Rhinebeck in your new sweater.

  16. Rainy Daisy Says:

    You raise some extremely valid points. That’s a buttload of money for something that might pill the second you put it on. Beautiful, yes, but practical? Criticism isn’t a bad thing, as long as you’re willing to see both sides of it and have good grounding. And if they really want American yarn to be accessible, then they should make it as practical as possible, right?

    I don’t think it’s just about the price, either – it’s about getting what you pay for. If you think about how many hours you spend with the yarn relative to the price, knitting is quite cheap. I think the Yarn Harlot pointed out that if if it takes you, say, four hours to knit a 10-dollar skein of yarn, that’s 2.50 an hour that you’ve spent, and at the end you have something to show for it. On the other hand, you could spend 10 bucks for a 2-hour movie, and walk out of the theater with nothing but a headache from all the cheesy lines and implausible plot points. Plus, good yarn is still cheaper than therapy. BUT with great prices come great responsibility, and at that price point, shelter has a lot to live up to – you can feel good about having an American product, but if the yarn isn’t worth it, you’re better off donating the 12.50 to a local charity instead, you know?

    I hear you, dude. I hear you.

    And you can totally finish the sweater. Work it, son!

    Cheers,
    Daisy

  17. Austin Val Says:

    Gimme Shelter.

  18. zelda Says:

    A big Amen on the Shelter. I love BT’s color sense, but the price range makes a big colorwork project out of the park. And thanks for the shout out :)


  19. […] a while ago, i wrote a post in which i listed my concerns about shelter. i decided it was high time i actually tried it out, and the […]


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