Let’s Get Worsted, in Kettle Valley!

This year, I finally felt ready to hunt for local hand-dyed yarns and patterns to sell in my store. I believe strongly in supporting local small business whenever possible. Now that I have built up my inventory of staple yarns I really wanted to offer something a bit more luxurious. I had a small selection of hand-dyed yarns in solid colours, but I wanted something with really interesting colourways. I found it.

Black Cat Custom Yarn is located in Chilliwack, BC (Canada).

I was excited to have the opportunity to meet the owners this fall and to see and feel their yarns in person. A customer told me about them and I was not disappointed. I brought in a modest selection of two weights of Black Cat yarn. It has been a hit.

I have already placed another order and they are dying it now. Once it arrives it will expand the selection to 17 colourways of “Let’s Get Worsted” and 15 colourways of “Everyday Sock”. The price point is typical of hand dyed yarn.

I recently made up a project using the “Damsel” colourway of  Black Cat’s “Let’s Get Worsted”. The pattern was the Kettle Valley Shawl from Knox Mountain Knit Company out of Kelowna, BC.

So first of all, I should have done a gauge check. I didn’t and my gauge was a bit soft. I ended up using three and a half skeins rather than the three that the pattern called for. That was definitely on me. I’m confident that it could be done with three if the gauge is matched.

The Pattern: Kettle Valley Shawl by Knox Mountain Knit Co.

knox-mountain-knit-coKnox Mountain Knit Co. patterns are inspired by landmarks of the Okanagan Valley in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. I love that each has a short write-up describing what inspired the pattern. They are beautifully printed on sturdy paper and priced reasonably. They all come with a Ravelry code that allows you to have both the hard copy and a Ravelry download to access on your devices. I now have hard copies of all their designs for sale in my store. (The patterns are displayed in two binders; if you’re in the store ask me where to find them. You can also view them on Ravelry.) The photographs are beautiful. They offer sets (hats, mittens and cowls) that are sold separately but made to coordinate. This is a wonderful option if you are making gifts… especially for those individuals whose birthdays land near Christmas.

The instructions were clear and easy to follow. I loved the twisted stitch method used. The first few times I did it, I had to check the instructions but once I comprehended what was happening and why it worked, I was off to the races. It’s a nice big shawl without being so large as to feel like a blanket. It was my first worsted weight shawl and I had my doubts because I like lace shawls and I love to knit with sock weight yarn. I think I may have been converted. Yes, by the final row I was knitting 357 stitches. However, I finished this, knitting leisurely in front of the TV in the evenings over the course of 10 days. I didn’t even knit every evening. It is made up of sections that when viewed as a whole mimic the trestles of the historic Kettle Valley Railway in the vicinity of Kelowna, British Columbia. I found that with each section, it took very little time to get a sense of the pattern so I could just knit away without checking the reference. That’s how I like it! I’m delighted with the outcome and so is the person who received it as a gift.

The Yarn: Black Cat Custom Yarn; Damsel; weight “Let’s Get Worsted”

This yarn was an absolute pleasure to knit. It was soft and smooth. The stitch definition is fantastic. All the effort I put into creating those trestles stood out and made the pattern proud. It reminds me of Malabrigo yarn. Sometimes when I make a larger project I get a little bored of looking at the yarn by the end of the project. Not with this yarn! There is just no getting bored of this yarn. The colourways are so fun and the names are nerdy and sometimes a bit cheeky. It definitely has personality. I washed it with Eucalan and blocked it. I thought it was soft before I washed it. Washing it softened it even more. I sat there squishing it between my hands and against my face for ages! I guess you figured out that I highly recommend this yarn.

Because it is dyed to order, it takes some time from when I order it until it arrives. That’s probably the only real drawback to this yarn. Once I get a sense of how much and how frequently I need to reorder, that will be less of an issue.

I encourage you to take the time to check out Black Cat Custom Yarn and Knox Mountain Knit Co. Both of these small BC businesses offer a high quality product for a reasonable price. If you want to make a special gift for someone you care about, I recommend combining the two for something truly memorable.

Happy Knitting!

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Foot Loose – Knee Socks

Diamond Luxury Foot Loose is a fun, hand dyed, 4-ply yarn. At 75% super-wash merino and 25% polyamide, its fibre content is pretty typical of sock yarn. It is put up in 100 g skeins/ 396 m. The label lists a gauge of 30 stitches to 42 rows producing a 10 cm swatch on 3 mm needles. I personally wouldn’t use 3 mm for socks with this yarn. If I were making a shawl or a sweater, I probably would. The price point is lower than you would expect for a hand dyed yarn.

This yarn is very soft. I used 2.5 mm needles and it knitted up to the gauge I expected for any sock yarn. The colourways are interesting and fun. The result is a random-ish speckly fabric, absolutely lovely to the touch.

I used it to knit a pair of knee socks for my daughter. I used the Bintje pattern by Jatta Pauliina. The pattern is lovely. I have had it in my library on Ravelry for a very long time so I was happy to finally knit it up. I feel that the instructions assume that you have knit socks before. Other than one typo it was straight forward. In the heel turn, when you are knitting on the right side, where you normally slip the first stitch it says to k1.

I had to read the calf shaping section a few times to fully comprehend what I was supposed to do. That may have been because it was my first pair of shaped knee socks, though. It may also be that the designer’s first language is not English. This pattern is a free Ravelry download. I made the socks taller than the picture and I probably could have made them one or two pattern repeats shorter than I did. I had to start a second skein to complete them. My daughter has small feet (ladies 6.5 – 7) so the feet look a wee bit disproportionate to the legs. The photo has them stretched onto a large sock blocker. It distorts the heel a little but I wanted to show them off.

socks-lace-tall

I worked a yarn-over hole into the outside of each cuff to pull elastic through. I tied the ribbon around the elastic. I love the look of the Foot Loose yarn. It’s quite beautiful.

I look forward to using it again in a different colourway.