Monday, February 25, 2008

Mardi Gras Yarn?!

As you probably know, we moved our family to New England in the wake of Hurricane Katrina after having lived in New Orleans most of our adult lives. This year, I wanted to knit something for Mardi Gras...and so I Googled "Mardi Gras Yarn"...let me share the travesty with you:

[Yarn Hall of Shame: #1- Euro Yarns, #2-Lion Brand, #3- Colinette Jitterbug, #4- Prism, #5- Lisa Souza, #6- On Your Toes Bamboo]

What do all these abominations have in common?...they have NOTHING to do with Mardi Gras. "Carnival" I would accept, but not Mardi Gras. Yarn spinners, I beseech you... we all love poetic names which evoke the muse which inspired while you were spinning...but PLEASE stick to some standards of propriety! The assemblage above can claim absolutely no relationship to Mardi Gras other than chaos.
Mardi Gras is a holiday and since 1872, when Rex selected the official Mardi Gras colors, the OFFICIAL colors of Mardi Gras in America are PURPLE, GREEN, and GOLD/YELLOW. The 1892 Rex Parade theme Symbolism of Colors gave meaning to the colors: purple represents justice; green, faith; and gold, power. If someone searches "Christmas yarn" they expect some combination of red, white, and/or green. Similarly, in America, if one is looking for Mardi Gras yarn it should be purple/green/gold.

I commend the following ONE producer of homespun for accurately labelling her yarn: Lonely Love Bird Supplies (aka LindsayLuu Designs) at Etsy. Here is an image of her fab Mardi Gras worsted homespun:

KUDOS, LLD!{here I am throwing you some beads and a Muses shoe... thanks!}
If you are searching for Mardi Gras yarns, may I also recommend the following (neither of which self consciously created a Mardi Gras combination):
Blue Ridge Yarns Jubilee cuperwash sock yarn in "Sunset" and Lorna's Laces Swirl in "Purple Iris."

Send links to any further tradition butchers OR to any good Mardi Gras yarns that you find...please!!!

2 comments (previously published on "Branching Out Knits":
Jenn said...
Oh my goodness---what a travesty! I'm hereby boycotting the use of any poorly labeled Mardi Gras Yarns. (Ok, so that's a lot of bravado for someone who doesn't know the first thing about the mardi gras). I always wanted to be a color namer. I could have done a better job!thanks again for taco tuesday--both girls reported it was GREAT!
February 28, 2008 9:42 AM
LindsayLuu said...
I am so glad that I have restored your faith in humanity, or at least of those of us who sell yarn :)
February 29, 2008 10:12 AM

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Star Wars Sweater

When my eldest went through his Star Wars obsession, I was just learning to knit... and I used my son's interest as an inspiration to try a challenging project. This sweater was created using a very simple beginner's Yankee Knitter Pattern (#2) for size 12. It utilized 820 yards of worsted weight yarn (Jamieson's 100% shetland wool in Blue Lovat). I replaced the given heart pattern with my own design which I created on knitters graph paper, employing the use of a fun metallic aqua yarn to highlight R2D2's head and the fighter ships.

1 comment (originally published on 'Branching Out Knits':
Ivy Reisner said...
That is really cute. Good job.
February 27, 2008 9:48 AM

Monday, February 11, 2008

The "Baby It's Cold Outside" Sweater

Until last week, I had never knit anything for myself. This, I think, is not uncommon for mothers...and it is the phenomenon in my life which prompted the survey you will find in the margin of thi s blog. Anyhow, I decided to prioritize myself for a change...well, actually, that's not really how it happened. In truth, I bought the yarn intending to make a sweater for my sons (as usual)...and then decided that there was something about it that had "Mom, there is no way I am wearing THAT" written all over it. As I had fallen deeply and passionately in love with the yarn, rather than abandon the project entirely, I executed a back-up plan...something for myself for a change!
If yarn could be metaphor...this yarn would be snowstorm. When I look at this yarn, the feeling is reminiscent of looking outside in a blizzard at night when the sky is black but the snow is lit by the houselights - or the look of a hat/sweater which is covered with snow and badly needs to be dusted. It is the look of fair isle "snow/background" without the work.

It is called "Linie 97/Iceland"and is made in Germany by OnLine. The colors I chose were "embers" and "dusk". From a distance, the skeins look moderately interesting - here you can see the skeins in their natural form and habitat.

...But to appreciate their nuances, a more up-close viewing is essential:
Here is how the yarn looks when knit:

Embers stockingette, dusk ribbed, and the interface.To fashion the perfect sweater for this beatiful yarn, I merely had to summon a favorite old song by Frank Loesser, "Baby it's Cold Outside"...and the perfect sweater began to emerge in my had to be warm, it had to be soft, it had to have a turtle/cowl neck (but couldn't be stiff and choking), and it had to be form-fitting/sexy....VOILA... It's all about the yarn! "I really can't stay - Baby it's cold outside.
I've got to go away - Baby it's cold outside.
This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice
My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry
My father will be pacing the floor - Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry - Beautiful, please don't hurry
Well Maybe just a half a drink more - Put some music on while I pour..."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

On Dr. Perri Klass

Dr. Perri Klass is the award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction works. She is a graduate of my alma mater, Harvard University, and is a practicing pediatrician. She is currently the medical director of the national literacy program Reach Out and Read, dedicated to promoting literacy as part of pediatric primary care [ in which my lovely neighbor is involved...she is ironically also a knitter!!]. She is the author of more than four wonderful books: Love and Modern Medicine: Stories, Two Sweaters for my Father, Every Mother is a Daughter: The Never Ending Quest for Success, Inner Peace, and a Really Clean Kitchen, and Quirky Kids: Understanding and Helping your Child who Doesn't Fit in - When to Worry and When not to Worry. She is a pediatrician, and an AVID knitter.
My mother started my "passion for purls" with an article by Dr. Klass entitled, "A Passion for Purls." So influential was this essay, that I thought I would share an excerpt with you...

"...I know that when I am knitting I am OK and that when I am not knitting, I am probably not quite so OK. But why? What does knitting bring to my life? Why do I need it so? What do I pick up along with the stitches? Certainly I don't knit to provide my family with cheaper sweaters- we all know that this is no way to save money. And I don't knit to prove my own feminine skills or even to avoid the dangers of idle hands. I'm too far gone for any of that - neither thrifty nor particularly skilled in the womanly arts, nor even desperately eager to be thought so.
"No. As any knitter will tell you, knitting is more than a hobby. It's an addiction of the mind, an addiction of the spirit, even an addiction of the fingers...But let's talk about the spiritual addiction. Knitting brings something into my life that I might also get - but generally don't - from great music, religion, or the contemplation of majestic natural beauty. When I knit, my soul is calmed and sometimes exalted. But it's an everyday exaltation, a calm domestic tranquility, easily transported from place to place in a cloth bag. That is, I suspect, what makes it traditional women's work - a source of serenity involving no heroics, no great outlay for equipment, and carefully connected to all that is most useful and most motherly...Knitting for me is peace and comfort, a steady rhythm that underlies the rest of daily life like a heartbeat."