The sexy Trekking Hand Art

At the same time that I purchased the gorgeous Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend yarn, I also picked up a skein of this rather remarkable Zitron Trekking Hand Art. It was interesting how it happened as well. This skein was the last, lone skein of its kind of the shelf; the last of its colorway and the last of its brand line! The shop carried other Zitron yarns, but this looked like it was the last Trekking Hand Art skein. The striking blend of red, maroon, and black kept me coming back to it as I perused to the shop until I finally broke down and bought. And I am so glad that I did!

Atelier Zitron is a German yarn company with an extreme emphasis on unique and high quality product. According to their website, they source the finest raw ingredients possible and produce and dye all of their yarns within Germany’s environmental protection regulations. As such, Zitron only supplies its yarn to specialty yarn shops, making it quite the special commodity indeed. In addition to their wide range of luxury yarns, Zitron also sells its own brand of Profi knitting needles and crochet hooks, made from bamboo to be hypo-allergenic.

Look how thin and dainty it is!

The Trekking Hand Art line of yarn is a light fingering or 3 ply yarn, making it perfect for sock or lace knitting. A blend of 75% wool and 25% nylon makes it machine washable, making it perfect for any clothing projects that would need to be washed regularly (such as socks). This yarn is a lovely, light weight material that is a pleasure to knit with. The thread is thin, smooth and perfectly even throughout so that it slides easily from needle to needle.

Perhaps my favorite feature of it, however, is that it is a hand dyed yarn. Each colorway is dyed in small lots so that every color is its own exclusive dye design. And Zitron’s dye specialists are always coming up with new and unique color combinations for this line. And the color patterns itself so beautifully while being knitted. I absolutely fell in love with this black and red blend because as the project came along, it really looked like I was knitting smoldering embers. On one hand, I love that the colorways are only dyed in small quantities because that means that the project I made with this yarn will truly be one of a kind. On the other hand, however, I would so love to work with this specific color blend again!

"Bright and bubbly? Or smoldering temptress?"

Want to get your hands on some of this yarn? Check out your local specialty yarn shop. You can also check out the official online suppliers. In the US and Canada see skacel collection, inc. In the UK, see Viridian Yarns. And for everywhere else, check out Zitron’s International dealers page.

Have you knit something with this yarn? Please leave a comment and tell us about it!

You might remember from my introductory post on knit designing that I made reference to a book by well established designer Shannon Oakey called The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design. Well, Shannon just posted on her blog that is accepting sign ups for her online Designer 101 class! The sign up fee is $65 and the class runs for about a month. It looks like its a really great class and a wonderful opportunity to learn from and pick the brain of an accomplished designer. If you’re interested, hop on over to the knitgrrl [virtual] studio to sign up!

Also make sure you check out her TNNA giveaway! She’s giving away a great collection of knitting goodies including a Namaste bag, a collection of HiyaHiya needles, a selection of books and some hand-dyed yarn. Entering is super easy, so go check it out!

I quickly fell in love with KnitPicks.com the first time I looked at it. Though I’ll write a fuller review on them later on, I highly recommend clicking over to the site right now as their Summer Yarn sale is in full swing! Running thru June 30th, they have a beautiful range of yarns in all different weights and colorways. Though the sale is only on select colorways, they certainly have a huge selection to choose from. Many of the yarns on sale are being discontinued as well so this will be your last chance to snatch them up! Check out also their Kit Sale, with select kits at 40% off, and their entire selection of Lantern Moon bags and accessories at 50% off.

Already on their mailing list? Check your email for a promo code, exclusive to e-newsletter readers, for $10 off a set of their Zephyr acrylic knitting needles. If you aren’t, make sure you sign up while you’re there to keep abreast of all their latest specials, sales, and exclusive offers.

Edinburgh's Most Photographed Street

When I told some of my co-workers at Lush Towson Town Center that I would be going to Edinburgh to study abroad for a year one of the things they asked me (in addition to sending some of the fabulous U.K. exclusives that Lush sells over here) was if I would be willing to send them some of the beautiful yarns that Scotland is well known for. The first shop that popped up in my search when I arrived in the city was k1 Yarns Knitting Boutique and it is currently my go-to shop here in Edinburgh.

This cute little shop is nestled in the Old Town area of Edinburgh at 89 West Bow Street, tucked in next to some gorgeous artisan shops where one can find hand made jewelry and beautiful artwork. Heralded as the most photographed street in Edinburgh, West Bow is just one street over from the Royal Mile, making it a short walk down from Edinburgh Castle.

These recycled newspaper bags are really cool!

The atmosphere when you walk in is so calm and relaxing. There are even some comfy chairs set up in the middle of the floor so you can take a seat and knit or crochet to your heart’s delight for awhile! But the most impressive part, I think, is the wide range of yarns that k1 Yarns stocks. According to the website, the owner, Katherine, has an “obsession” with finding and supplying unique and beautiful yarns for her customers. She certainly delivers! One half of the shop contains a stunning palette of yarns from all across the globe in remarkable colors and textures. The other half is stocked nearly exclusively with yarns from independent producers in Scotland. It even carries its own line of yarn named Selkie, a beautiful 5 ply blend of cashmere and merino. And, of course, it carries a range of needles, hooks, and patterns. One of my favorite things is that they use these really cool recycled newspaper bags at checkout made by a company that uses their proceeds to help street children in Delhi, India.

k1 Yarns Knitting Boutique

k1 Yarns offers some great crochet and knitting classes for all levels, including beginners as well as a periodic lace workshop. If you shop in, make sure you get one of their frequent shopper cards: for every 10 pounds you spend, you get a stamp. After 10 stamps, you received 10 pounds off your next purchase! They also sell their collection of yarns in their online shop, which ships throughout the U.K., Europe, and North America (so I’ll be able to order their beautiful Scottish yarns when I go home!). So if you find your self in Edinburgh, hunt these guys down. You’ll love what you find!

 

Manos del Uruguay...I love their logo!

I stumbled across this yarn entirely by accident while I browsing k1 Yarns Knitting Boutique here in Edinburgh. There were three yarns that instantly grabbed my attention that day and this was one of them. I purchased three skeins to make sure I had enough to make something beautiful.

The more I’ve researched and read about this company, the more it has become one of my favorite companies, up there with Lush Cosmetics. Their story is inspiring. First started in Uruguay in 1968, Manos del Uruguay is a collection of cooperatives which employ and provide work for local artisan women. Currently consisting of 13 coops, the women there spin, dye, weave, design and manufacture all of their own yarns and garments. They herald their very own brand of garments, accessories, and handicrafts, but also have been contracted by famous designers such as Chanel and Ralph Lauren to help them design and produce their fashions.

The women who work in the coops also own the coops and this gives them access to things like health insurance and retirement pensions that they otherwise might not have. The cooperative is also credited with starting the first kindergartens in Uruguay leading to improved education in the country. Just recently, Manos del Uruguay received its World Fair Trade Organization certification. This is definitely a product that you can feel good purchasing!

Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, Blue Mountain colorway

They make several different types and weights of yarn, but I purchased 3 skeins of their Silk Blend yarn. This blend is 30% Silk and 70% Merino Extrafine Wool. The mixed in silk fiber gives the yarn a gorgeous sheen that you simply can not help staring at. As all with all of their yarns, this was kettle dyed in a small batch so that it has a beautiful variation of colors that are incredibly rich. There are several different shades of blue in this one skein alone and each shade is stunning. Because it is entirely natural fiber though, that means it cannot be machine washed. This is very important to keep in mind in case you wish to use it for a garment that will get heavy use and abuse.

A sneak peek of the shawl I'm knitting with this!

Ravelry classifies this yarn as a DK, or 8 ply weight. And it does have some heft to it! The shawl I am currently knitting is a tad on the heavy side and I am only a 1.25 skeins into it. I would definitely recommend this yarn for a heavy blanket, shawl or sweater for a cold fall or winter day. The Merino Extrafine Wool makes it really cozy and cuddly as well and I find myself looking forward to cold weather so I can wear it (and I HATE cold weather!). Even though it is heavy, because it is so soft and smooth, it can be knit at several gauges (according to Ravelry). So let your imagination run wild!

Aw, it was handmade just for me!

Another great thing about Manos’ yarn is that each skein comes with a tag on it that (of course) tells you the basics such as composition, gauge, and a little bit about the Cooperative. But also, it is hand signed by the artisan who spun your yarn with the location of the coop it came from! It really is a beautiful handmade touch to remind the consumer that this is truly a hand crafted product. One of my favorite aspects of this yarn is that as you knit, you can feel the slight deviations in the thread. Though mostly spun in an even size, there are spots in the thread that are a little thicker in some places and a little thinner in others. It gives the yarn character and makes it fun to work with. I highly recommend this yarn to everyone!

If you wish to track down some of your own Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, or any of their amazing yarns, you can check out their home website for a list of international distributors (don’t worry, they have an English version of the page available!). The U.S. distributor is Fairmount Fibers, LTD based out of Philadelphia, PA. and they have a map on their website where you can find a shop near you that sells this yarn. For Canada, check out Manos Canada. For Europe, see Artesano Yarns.

Have you ever used this yarn? Leave a comment and tell me what you think about it!

As I sat down to plan out what it was that I wanted to design to use the gorgeous yarn that inspired me in my last post, I tried to think about what kind of clothing might be seen in one of Mr. Lambert’s music videos. The first thing that popped into my head was some sort of corset or waist cincher.

This could pass for dragon scales...right?

But the tricky thing I also had to consider was the price of the yarn. I don’t mind paying more for high quality components, but I do want to make sure I can get as much mileage out of the yarn as possible. And that is when I remembered a stitch design I had been looking at just the night before on Knitting on the Net. You see, I also have a design in my head for dragon inspired shawl and was attempting to find a suitable pattern that could resemble dragon scales (more on that design in an upcoming post). For the F.Y.E. design, I thought, I could make the background color black and the diamond patterns in the green and purple Lambert yarn. So I ran with it.

The basic shape and concept for the waist cincher.

The next step was to begin sketching out my design ideas. I quickly doodled out the basic shape for my waist cincher. This design is somewhat reminiscent of another waist scarf pattern that is available for free (and we love free things!) called Bravado. It is a simple yet beautiful scarf that I highly recommend; I’ve been wanting to try it myself for awhile. But where that one is simply a scarf, I wanted this design to be slightly more sophisticated. I got the idea to have the wrap around ends attach via a buckle rather than a tied cord. And of course the shape itself is more a diamond than a triangle.

A breakdown of the design.

Next I started to break down how I was going to have to construct this design. Not having a tape measure on me, a friend of mine directed me to a highly amusing website of ways to measure things without a tape measure or ruler. Turns out an American dollar bill is 6 inches long, so I used it to get a rough idea of my measurements. (I’m sure I looked ridiculous sizing that bill up to my waist!) But I believe that I now have a fair idea of how to go about building my pattern. Looking at what yarns weights are available on Decadent Fiber‘s site, as well as taking a few tips off of the Bravado design, I have decided to go with DK weighted yarns. DK weight is sturdy enough for a belt like garment and yet isn’t too bulky to feel like an inter-tube around my waist!

Matching arm warmers to complete the look!

The waist cincher with the proposed tank top.

I’m extremely excited to start knitting this pattern to see how it comes out. I’m so excited that I actually came up with the idea to design two other articles of clothing to go with the waist cincher! I have envisioned a see through tank top to be worn with the cincher, perhaps in a grey or silver color. In addition to that, I hope to make a set of arm warmers that will be in the same black and green/purple colors of the cincher. I think all together it will make one rockin’ outfit. All it will be missing is a top hat!

My next step is to make a mock up of the design. As I’m still in Scotland and don’t feel like paying overseas shipping costs (and I don’t want to accidentally ruin the yarn), I plan on going out and getting a different, similar weight yarn to make my prototype once I finish the shawl I am currently working on. So stay tuned to see how my very first design turns out!

So did you find the Easter Egg I hid in the last post? For those who missed it, it was a link to a recording of Adam Lambert’s “Down the Rabbit Hole“. I have serious obsession with that man and, not surprisingly, his music was the origins of my inspiration for this design.

Now, I am frequently inspired by music. I have gotten ideas for stories, artwork, costumes, scripts, etc. from listening to the music of some of my favorite bands and singers. In this case, though, this idea came from a combination of both the music and a yarn. I was poking around Ravelry, looking for online yarn stores, when I discovered Decadent Fibers. These guys are amazing! They sell their own blends of yarn, is several different varieties and weights, all of which they hand dye. But the most unique part about them is that they dye all of their yarns to order! So your yarn is dyed specifically for you. (I imagine this helps them out with storage as well!) They have several beautiful, unique colorways to choose from or you can request your own blend of colors if you don’t see what you’re looking for.

From Decadent Yarns: "Adam Lambert "What Do You Want From Me?" an excitingly bizarre, pleasantly likeable charcoal, black and grasshopper."

I am certain these are people after my own heart: not only to they have an amazing variety of beautiful colorways, not only was it their yarn used to design the Dakota Wheat Shawl (one of my favorite shawls from the cover of The Prayer Shawl Companion (See all Knitting Craft Books)), but they have also designed a yarn inspired by Mr. Lambert! I absolutely adore the blend of greens and purples in this yarn. When saw it, I knew that just HAD to make something with this yarn! So I decided to design something specifically for it.

However, because the yarn is on the pricey side (it starts around $30 per skein, but completely understandable for hand dyed to order fiber) I decided I needed a design that wouldn’t use too much yarn, but still show case the gorgeous colors all while keeping true to the edgy glam rock aesthetic that Adam Lambert is known for.

And so, the idea for my design “F.Y.E.” was born! Stay tuned for a peek into how I’ve started designing the construction. Meanwhile, you can keep yourself entertained with this: