Friday, February 7, 2014

Noro Silk Garden Slouchy Beret, Done. And, On Knitting.

Happy to report the second successful knitting project this year, yeah, that's two in a row. (While I had one flopped sewing project yet to talk about, and one so-so acceptable sewing project this year so far.)

Looks like a pretty flower in the middle.

I love Noro yarns. The colors are simply gorgeous, and the stripes it creates is sweetly magical.

I've knitted with Noro Kureyon before but first time with Noro Silk Garden. 

I love the feel of wool/silk blend. My very favorite blend of yarn, and fabric for that matter. Silky smooth with the warmth of wool. Uh, simply heavenly. 

Weird, I know. But I was kind of happy to learn my flight coming home from San Diego was delayed by 3 hours last week. I had just grabbed and packed two skeins of Noro Silk Garden to start this new project while en route to/from this business trip that came up with only a couple of days of notice. I had just finished my cardigan, so I was near panic state when I didn't have a new project!! Phew. Saved by Ravelry, and this project was chosen as I was packing for the trip.

A few hours while waiting at the airport and on the flight, plus while watching the Super Bowl, it was done! Pretty quick and painless. 

A few different ways to wear!

Like my recent cardigan project, the yarn was from my stash. So happy when I can use something from my stash. I've been wondering what I could make with just two skeins of the Silk Garden. Once again, thank you Ravelry!

With the US size 8 circular needles, very simple, easy, and fast knitting project that I can recommend this pattern to even beginner knitters who are ready for something a little more challenging than a stockinette scarf.  You can find it on Ravelry, it's Slouchy Beret in Noro Silk Garden Chunky by Sandra Alice. It's a free pattern!

By the way, the shirt I'm wearing here, (I wish I could design and make something like this, but it isn't my creation) is one of the garments that gave me an inspiration to go back to sewing last year. I found it at a local boutique that sells imported Italian and French one of a kind clothing. 

If I may give just one tip to beginning  knitters, it will be this. Even if, well, ESPECIALLY IF, it's your first time ever project or practice, choose a yarn of high quality, high in natural fiber content, like wool, or wool and silk blend. (Cotton is a  different story, so let's stay on the subject of winter knitting here for now)  

As you knit, you will soon notice how nice a good quality yarn feels to your hands. 100% acrylic yarns, on the other hand, will feel "plasticky", they don't slide on needles easily, and will give you more frustration than pleasure. Besides, 100% acrylic will NOT give you much warmth. It will keep you chilly and staticky! I'm strictly talking about garment and wearable knitting here. 

You are going to invest all this time and effort in knitting. You might as well spend the extra $5~$10 (well, sorry to break the news, yes, per skein, read on for creative solutions) and buy a quality yarn that you will not only enjoy knitting but also wearing for a long time. 

100% wool will require cold water hand wash - unless it's like a super wash merino wool which you may be able to put in a washing machine with a help of a delicate garment laundry bag and use cold water gentle wash. You wouldn't want an accidental felting! Hot water wash will give that to ya. 

If you want to be able to wash your finished project more casually and easily, you can use a blend of wool and acrylic. Like 70% wool and 30% acrylic, or 50/50, or even less wool content but maybe no less than 30% wool. I used wool/acrylic blend for knitting my son's sweaters & hats when he was little. For little kids, you want to be able to wash often. Besides, little kids run around and their bodies get heated easily so they don't really need or want high wool content that will make their bodies boil!

Anyway, my point is:

-Even if it's just for a practice, get a nice natural fiber yarn. It's easier to knit. Really.  Trust me. You may end up hating knitting  if your first experience was with a cheap and difficult to handle acrylic yarn. 

A nice thing about knitting is that you can always undo what you've knitted and use the yarn for a new project. Say, you made a hat. After a year of wearing it, your taste changed and you no longer want the hat. You can undo the project, and use the yarn for something else - that is only if the yarn is worth saving and reusing, right?!

-But the wool and silk yarns are so expensive!

True. If you try to make a nice sweater, the chances are you probably end up spending more to knit your own than finding something RTW at a store on sale. But, let's not get discouraged here. Let us be creative, and be patient. 

There are deals out there. For example, the cardigan I just knitted was with Debbie Bliss 100% merino wool. I found 10 balls of them at the end of a season on clearance at my favorite yarn shop in my neighborhood for $3.99/ball! Knowing I could make something with 10 balls and at that amazing price, AND in my favorite color (!!!),  I bought them, all 10 balls. 10 years ago, that was! Hahaha. I finally found the time to knit and the pattern that is a good match! 
Here is 1/2 a ball left of the 10, after the cardigan.

I once found a bag of totally unused, brand new, mostly either wool/silk blends or 100% silk yarns at a thrift store for less than $20.  For all these here, plus the 2 balls of Noro Silk Garden I just used to make the hat. Now, when I see something like this, I feel like I just hit the jackpot. No brainer, grab it and straight to the cashier.  
That was 12 skeins for less than $20. If you are a knitter, you know you can't even buy 2 of the Noro Silk Garden for $20. Mondial ones are 45/55 wool and acrylic blend Italian yarn. Totally  wearable/usable, easy wash, and with 6 of them, I can definitely make something. The rest, maybe for socks, part of a scarf or hat, etc. I will carefully choose a project for each of them. A precious find!

There's also garage sales. I bought these beautiful 100% wool chunky yarn from a neighbor at her garage sale a few months ago. 4 full balls and 2 partial balls for $4. I now have a plan for them. This is my next knitting project. 

We all know that those who love fabrics and yarns (that's us, yes!) probably have a stash of both. Sometimes, we need to unload some in our stash, or maybe the knitter/sewer's hobby shifted and they no longer want to keep them.  We can only guess that good quality materials must have come from a knitter/sewer who cared about quality. So, I'm not only happy that I got a bargain but I'm also happy that I can put them to good use, and I so appreciate the love and the thoughts that went into choosing these quality yarns and they are now "passed down" to me. 

A stash..... my stash...... a part of, that is...

Anyway. Using quality materials is worth the price; is something I learned over the years. Quality over quantity or frequency when it comes to knitting or sewing. That's just how I feel. 

Also, this is just my personal preference. I prefer bamboo needles to plastic ones. I feel like they are more "flexible" yet not too slippery like the plastic ones. The metal ones, oh, forget it. I can't stand the sound they make! Anyway, that's just my personal preference. 

Do you, knitters and sewers, have your own "thing"? Preferences, tips, pet peeves? Share?!

Did I mention stash? Should that word be written here in plural form?!

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