More Than One Alpaca- Suri Yarn

Several years ago I learned to spin yarn, indirectly this lead to my now working in crochet. However I digress, during my time spinning I visited a local alpaca farm that sold fibers for spinning. The farm was filled with those cute little teddy bear like animals that I learned were a breed called Huacaya. I only thought that these were the standard alpaca, until the farm owner showed me a fleece of another breed of alpaca, one known as Suri.

The Suri fleece was smooth and silky and in ringlets like a young Shirley Temple. It only resembled the Huacaya in size and shape…the same body but very different fleeces. I was mesmerized by the Suri, probably because it is not commonly found in the United States, and I definitely get drawn to something a bit out of the ordinary.

Researching a bit about these different breeds I learned that almost all alpaca yarns found are created from Huacaya fleece. Huacaya is a much more common breed in the US, and the yarn is warm and soft, really an affordable luxury. The Suri is much less common, and until recently I had not found a commercially available yarn made of this fleece.

At a trade show this summer I found Salt River Mills, Simply Suri yarn. I admit it drew me in. I was fascinated to find a Suri yarn, it is produced by the North American Suri Company that purchases fleeces from breeders across North America and is helping to create a market for this fiber.

I have been playing with a skein lately and have enjoyed how it works up in the hand. I have been using Simply Suri, an 85% Suri, 15% wool yarn. It is very common for all alpaca yarns to have a blend with wool, as wool adds a bit of structural integrity to the yarn that alpaca by itself does not have.

I have found the yarn soft and smooth, with a nice sheen that makes me think of a silk blend. It is light and airy, but it is easy to feel that it is warm as well. It has nice drape and stitch definition. It is a three ply yarn with a soft twist, that lends itself to standard stitches, however I would not personally try to much textual stitches, like cables or popcorns as the yarn does not seem strong enough to give it a bold definition. I am currently envisioning a shawl….I hope to have the pattern available soon….but this yarn will definitely have me playing with it more in the future.

 

The Regal Touch- Royal Blooms Shawl

Sometimes a design takes month to develop, multiple practice attempts and hours of thought and planning…others come together like magic. The Royal Blooms Shawl in the October 2017 issue of I Like Crochet Magazine is the latter.

Photo courtesy Prime Publishing

This shawl is really great to work up, a relatively simple pattern of V stitches and Shells that yields stunning results. The stacking of these stitches creates an almost jewel shape effect, that lends itself to royalty. While the negative space created shares a bit if a peek-a-boo quality. This is a great quick gift for a friend or loved one, or a special treat for yourself. It can take you from dress to casual fairly easily and thus is an excellent addition to any wardrobe.

One of the things I really loved about this shawl is in the yarn. It is worked up in Ancient Arts Reinvent Too.  This Wool/Mohair/Silk blend yarn is one that adds enough warmth to utilize this shawl for the crisp evenings of autumn, yet comfortable enough to wear in the mid-day sun.  This yarn is listed as a worsted or medium weight yarn, but in the hand I think it works up more like a light or DK weight, so this is not a shawl that is as light or wispy as a feather, but has a bit of substance to it. There are several color ways available, so it can please just about everyone.

Photo courtesy Prime Publishing

I wish I had a better story to tell as to how this shawl came into being, but honestly it just fell right off the hook without my even thinking. Part of me thinks that I cannot even claim ownership of this design as it came too easily, so I hope you will enjoy creating your own and making it a new staple in your life.

 

Time for Fall- the Homey Fireplace Hat

I might take hats a bit for granted. When I was learning to crochet I never ventured into hats, after all my grandmother had crocheted several…everyone in my house had more than they needed.  But in honesty, my biggest hang up with hats was working in the round.

Photo courtesy Prime Publishing

The hats my grandmother created were all worked in a back and forth manner, from top to bottom as a rectangle, seamed at a side and gathered at the top. I never saw a hat worked in the round. It intimidated me.

I remember a friend of my college roommate was crocheting hats in the round and I was secretly mesmerized.

So the Homey Fireplace Hat seems pretty straight forward to me. It is worked vertically with a single crochet ribbing, but then has two cables worked in the center, all the way around. It is the same overall style that I am use to. It has a lot of stretch so it can fit just about anybody, kids to adults. This design can be found in the latest issue, October 2017, of I Like Crochet. This is an on-line magazine that offers a nice variety, but not on newsstands but your inbox instead.

Photo courtesy Prime Publishing

The cable is a relatively simple two by one type cable, meaning that there are two stitches that are crossed over by one, and this is done twice. By working the 2 cables right next to each other it helps really set off the texture.

I sometimes like to see this design worked up in a variegated color, as it lends itself well to some color striping and the cables help “bleed” the color to the stripes below. The yarn in this design is called Targhee by Lisa Souza, it is available in so many different color ways that the possibilities really seem endless.

Targhee is a sheep breed, one that is growing in popularity within the United States, especially for locally produced wools. It has a nice spring to it and holds the warmth ideal for a nice hat.

Patons Decore -Has Memory

There are times when I try to make a yarn do something it is not in the mood for. I had this experience with Patons Décor.

Décor is a fairly standard type of yarn, it is 75% acrylic and 25% wool, it typically does not felt, or shrink and the skeins are a typical 208 yard/190 meters of 3.5 ounces/ 100 grams, medium weight, set up in a ready to use pull skein. But what surprised me with this yarn is its ability to spring back into shape.

I really should not have been surprised in this, I guess I really wasn’t paying attention. Acrylic typically has a very strong memory, so strong that it is sometimes pointless to even attempt blocking. Some minor draw backs to acrylic is that it cannot take high heat well, so this should only be used in a low heat dryer and never be pressed or ironed. High heat caused acrylic to break down and it will lose its “life” or “body”. It is often referred to as “killing acrylic” or “the acrylic was killed”, and it does appeared to be killed and limp.

I have worked this yarn in an open lace approach and because of this strong memory of the acrylic yarn, it does not block to open up the stitches as well as I would have liked, or experienced with a yarn that has a higher wool content.

Even with that in mind, this is a good everyday yarn. It is pretty soft, and feels really nice

in the hand. It does a nice job of fluffing up and filling the stitch gaps, hence why it did not agree with me in lace work. I can easily use this yarn for afghans, blankets and throws. It would do well for pillows, and outerwear, like sweaters or cardigans. It has a nice array of colors and a nice durability, a nice go-to yarn.

A Memorable Name for A Memorable Yarn-Twizzlefoot

A funny name that you definitely remember, but when the yarn is beautiful and great to worth it, it is just an added bonus. I am referring to Twizzlefoot by Mountain Colors, a lovely fine weight yarn that works up really nice.

I don’t know where the name comes from but your find a couple of “foot” named yarns in Mountain Colors collection, and as you might imagine, it is yarn designed for socks. The fiber content is 53% Superwash Merino (fine soft wool from the Merino sheep that has been treated so that it does not felt), 17% Domestic wool (unknown, or unspecified breed of sheep wool, is warm and has all the properties of wool), 17% silk (added for strength, will also help with warmth and adds a nice sheen), and 13% nylon (added for strength). Basically this yarn is strong and can take a beating, if necessary, and still keep it shape.

This yarn is hand dyed so that really no two skeins are the same, and the available colors are gorgeous. It comes in a good size hank of 450 yards and 100 grams, if your happen to knit you can easily make up a great pair of socks. I however see this as shawl yarn. It could probably be a nice light weight sweater or camisole, but I enjoy the stretch and color pooling, but admire them in an accessory way.

It feels nice in the hand, like something that you actually want to create with. The fact that the fibers take the color differently adds a subtle shade to the overall effect, but to my surprise it does not quite present the way I would think it would in the stitch. When looking at the ball of yarn I would have thought that the little color differences in the twist would show in the work, but when I begin crocheting it completely blends in my eye.

This is a fun yarn, with an unforgettable name….