20 July 2009

The Misti Alpaca Sock Yarn Saga

It started with a shawl, back in the spring. I was looking at the newest issue of Knitty and was instantly captivated by the Shipwreck Shawl on the cover. It was beautiful. And I had to make it. I kept returning to the pattern, looking at it, coveting it, reading it through to determine that yes, I knew how to do everything it said. And the yarn recommended for the pattern, well, ordering it online wasn't really an option for me at the moment (that the shipping'd probably cost more than the yarn was one factor). So I decided to find a reasonable substitute. I've yet to use the recommended yarn for a project, and aside from a few disasters (before I learned about things like yarn weight and paying attention to the fiber type), it hasn't been a problem.

Sock yarn. That's what the pattern said. I went to an LYS that was a little out of my way, but I figured it'd be a good opportunity to see what they carried. And if I didn't find what I was looking for, I didn't find it, and I'd check at the closer LYS. After a long walk from the bus stop, I walked into the shop and started browsing. I'd written down the specs on the recommended yarn and after a while, found what I was looking for. I had a picture in my head of the colours I wanted and suddenly, I spotted them. I picked up the skein of yarn, touched it, marvelled at the colours, read the details on the label, and knew that this was my yarn.

Misti Alpaca Handpaint Sock Yarn. It's beautiful stuff, but it is expensive. This was my biggest yarn purchase to date. I used some of the money my grandparents gave me as a graduation gift so I didn't feel guilty about buying three skeins of it.

Let's just say I got a lot of bang for my bucks.

I took it home on the bus, drooled over it a little, and then started winding it into balls. I don't have a ball winder yet, so this took a while. My husband helped. We wound two of the skeins up and then I decided it was time to cast on. A hour and many curses later, there were a few stitches cast on to my DPNs in a ring (simple ring cast-on, hah! yeah, right!). I loved the yarn. It was so beautiful, so soft and warm, the colours were so inspiring. I knit and knit and knit with this stuff. It was easy to work with, not too hard to tink back if it was necessary, and the colours reminded me of the ocean.

As the weather grew warmer, my shawl grew bigger. When I finally wound up the third ball and used some of it for binding off the shawl, I wasn't even tired of the yarn. I was exhausted by the time it took to bind off, but I still loved that yarn. I blocked the lace and admired how the dark purple pooled together in little smudges on the grey, lavender and bits of blue of the rest of the shawl. I'd found out that the colourway's name was 'Luz de Luna.' Light of the Moon. That sounded so poetic.

I had most of a ball left. I figured I'd knit a pair of socks. It was sock yarn, after all. And I wanted to learn to knit socks. So I knit a pair of very plain, top-down, ribbed socks. The ribbing got pretty boring by the end, but I finished them. That used less than half of what was left. They're great socks. I love them. They are warm, but breathe well, and very soft. Almost too soft, as the sole is already beginning to felt.

There was still half a ball of yarn left. Half a ball. One pair of socks didn't use nearly as much as I'd expected because my feet are so small.

So, thinking how great it was that I wasn't tired of this yarn yet, I started another pair of socks, anklets this time. With lace and cables and a fun textured heel flap with seed stitch and more cables. Half-way through the first sock, I finally started to get tired of the yarn. It is undeniably beautiful yarn. But three skeins of about 400 metres each--well, that's a lot of yarn to work through. I had to set the sock down for a few days and knit with drastically different colours before I was able to pick up the sock and finish it.

Tonight I finished the second sock. I grafted the toe, wove in the ends, and weighed the ball of yarn that was left. Now, remember, this was originally a 100 g ball. I started this pair of socks with 50 g. My scale isn't the greatest, but it's accurate enough. 25 g.

I don't care that there's a good 100 metres or so left of this yarn. I don't. Not right now. I'll use it eventually. Next pair of socks are gifts for a relative, and the next pairs after that will be for me. In different yarns. The gift socks are brown. Then I have this self-striping blue yarn (Invicta Coloris--how could I resist a yarn with a Latin name?), and some green-brown-beige striped yarn. There's a couple balls of DK yarn in purple and green (2 purple balls, 1 green) that don't seem to want to be anything that I try to knit them into. It's recently occurred to me that maybe I should give them another chance. They might make decent socks. Lots of colours. It'll be great.

Because I'm finally tired of this yarn, no matter how amazing it is.

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