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Lovely and Amazing

Can you believe this?

It's probably pretty obvious that I'm not generally a luxury fiber sort of knitter. I'm more interested in knitting as an exercise in craftsmanship - the long tradition of using skill and wit and technique to magick up something beautiful from prosaic materials, from sticks and hair and dye. I like decent-quality yarns, sure, but they tend to be the unfancy, unseductive workhorses - basic wool, basic cotton, things that when combined in the right way with color or texture or shape have to work to transcend their ordinariness. Fancy needles, gadgets, super-premium yarn - I don't covet them too much (a good thing, in light of my perpetually empty wallet), and I know they're not always necessary to make nice things.

But this Frost Flowers Shawl-destined silk, from a custom dyer, finally has me understanding why people choose materials that are beautiful to begin with. I've never knitted with 100% silk before - it is richly heavy across the fingers, cool and dry to the touch, subtly lustrous and endlessly interesting just to look at and touch and listen to (the peculiar dry crunch it makes when the ball is squeezed - it makes me feel rich, just to hear it). 3,500 yards - unbelievable.

The color is poorly represented here; a better photographer than I am would be needed, I think, to bring out all the nuances. It's exactly what I'd hoped it would be - vivid and clear with an undertone of cool blue twilight, like the blush on an almost too ripe cherry, or a glass of wine held to the light. The luster of the silk makes the color shift from wine to crimson as it moves and as the observer moves around it - a large shawl made of this might appear to breathe as it flutters in the breeze or as the draped wearer walks by.

The dyer of this extraordinary yarn (her shop is launching soon, but I've promised not to reveal who she is till then) took a vauge expression of color from me - I was describing things, moods, seasons more than I was a color - and somehow translated it perfectly into tone and depth and mood and season and every other thing. This is very fine stuff, in the way that things used to be fine - tactile and heavy and beautiful, steeped in the skill of the maker.

Ordinary Stuff

One Almost Argyle sock is done. The pattern is...well...

underwhelming on the foot, no? It makes a very interesting, even pleasing pattern of lines and crosses and zigzags on the foot, but it doesn't really give the impression of argyle when it's stretched out. I think I still like it for what it is (all those little 1x1 twisted stitches are basically 1x1 rib, which makes it fit spectacularly - better than any other handknit sock I've made), but I'm just a wee little bit disappointed.

To get my argyle fix, I'm working now on a two-color sock, covered with a very simple mini-argyle diced pattern.

Ahh, that's better.

Knit Night

I'm so glad at the response this has gotten - I didn't know there were so many locals! I'm thinking we'll try for the first one the Monday after next (2/20) - time and place details to come!


New lurker, first-time commenter here. Love those yellow and rose argyles. Too cute! The other cross-over socks are nice, too, but I think I favor the argyles. Actually, both are really nice in different ways. You do beautiful work!

That yarn is yummy! I am so envious of your needles :). And your "Almost Argyle" sock is still pretty even though it didn't come out as you had planned, but yet isn't that the typical result of all experiments? Something new, but different and something totally new but different from conception. It is its own thing. The cuff reminds me more of argyle however than the foot part.

I think you are making me addicted to argyle!

Oh I like both socks! I really want to do something argyle - real argyle.

And the silk - it really touches you emotionally to breathe in something so beautiful. Your description really paints a beautiful picture in the reader's mind. Thank you! And I'm looking forward to this secret person's shop opening!

You're such an amazing knitter and writer. I hope to learn from your blog.

The color is mouth-watering, and what a treat to knit with 100% for your Olympic challenge! I think the yarn is a perfect match to that pattern :). The dyer really knows what she's doing, doesn't she? :)

It's really hard to type after I've drooled all over my keyboard. That yarn is FABULOUS. Wow. And you're very eloquent in describing it. Your shawl is going to be absolutely stunning. And the socks are great, even though they aren't exactly what you wanted. The new ones look really cute - can't wait to see more.

I disagree: I like the almost-argyle pattern completely. Very, very much.

I wish that this dyer would just open her shop already, instead of selling to a select few.

Oh, no - I hope I didn't give the impression that it was any kind of clubby obnoxious thing. I believe it's just that she's in the absolute final stages of getting ready to launch, and she's using friends as the first customers to make sure the process is smooth and the colors are good.

I like the socks and I want to knit them! So there. Now give me the pattern dammit!

Both socks are looking great - I was never an argyle fan, but seeing those I think I may be converted!

Watching your blog I've become an argyle convert myself! I think your almost argyle socks are lovely in a subtle way, so if you don't want them... great color combo on the second socks though.

The socks look great, especially in those colors! I've always loved argyle. Speaking of...any news on when the larger size charts for Deep V will be available? I'm trying to be patient but its just soooo hard! At least we all have the Olympics to keep us busy.

I like the plain color "argyle" socks, but I agree with your earlier post that an endeavor with two colors may be called for.
The pink/cream one is just adorable. Reminds me of strawberry/lemon sherbert. Yum!

Wonderful lookin yarn! And soon you can start working on it, I'm looking forward to see your progress! Being at the very end of my studies and having really heavy days I decided to join the supporters, not the knitters during the Olympics. I like the socks too, especially the two-coloured.

That yarn looks incredible--even if you couldn't get the color to photograph the way you wanted, it doesn't matter. It's still drool-worthy, and I, too, am looking forward to whoever's store when she's ready to sell to the rest of us!

And the quasi-argyle socks? I think they make great socks, but agree that perhaps the argyle isn't quite as pronounced as one would hope. Maybe if you filled in the one section with purls instead of those little vertical stripes? Doesn't matter, though--they're still great-looking socks. Really!

I'm too stunned by the glory of that yarn to comment much (and the typos I'm making are stunning in their own right - I'd get banned if I didn't fix them).
YOU may be underwhelmed by the argyle sock, but I covet it even more. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I want to make some in every color known to man. I can't wait for your pattern.
K, apparently as stunned as I am, I can always comment...

That silk is stunning! I love imagining a breathing shawl...

Your description of the yarn colour "the blush on an almost too ripe cherry, or a glass of wine held to the light" left me speechless. It must be unbelievably beautiful. Good luck with your project!

I know you said the picture doesn't quite capture the color of the yarn as you'd like it to, but I think it's a gorgeous color just how it appears on my monitor. I love it.

Wonderful color-saturated entry today. Geez, that silk is amazing! But it's the pink-and-white argyle sock that really has my heart pounding. The color, the pattern--it's a sock after my own heart. :-)

Wow! Your silk yarn is amazing! I'm sure it's going to be a fun knit. I like the socks as well.

of all the yarn i've ever seen, your silk is the most beautiful. the dyer has done a wonderful job, and i second your words of appreciation. the color is soooo rich. i love red, and this is such a beautiful red. the sheen of the silk is so subtle and complimentary...this yarn is a very good choice and worth every ounce of luxury. good luck on your olympic endeavor!
the colorwork you've been working on lately is so cool! the argyle vest, the socks...the almost argyle sock is really neat, too. somewhat geometric and very textured.
i can't tell you how much i enjoy reading your blog :) visually indulging, mentally stimulating. thank you for sharing.

A friend in California handpainted some 100% bombyxx silk for me, and I used it in a Feather & Fan scarf. You're right - it's so wonderful to knit with. Such a luxurious feel to the touch. I'm thinking of getting some more from her.

WOW! The colors that she came up with for both you and Grumperina are very unique. Lucky you for getting to use 100% silk!

Oooh, the yarn looks scrumptious! Good luck with the shawl!

i looooove the 2-color argyle socks. i have been wanting to knit argyle socks forever. are you going to write up a pattern for them when you're finished?

A good red is hard to find. Your yarn is beautiful. As completely dorky as it sounds to type it, I wish I could reach through the computer screen and touch the yarn. There, I said it. Anyways, the socks, I like them both. The two-color argyle looks so cheerful. I envision the red sock that you've been working on in a orangy-persimmony-pink grapefruit-y heathered cotton. If you make the pattern available (no pressure or anything) I may just have to see if such a yarn exists.

Oh my, that silk is loverly, isn't it? The color, the texture, the green with envy knit-bloggers...(hee hee hee) Can't wait to see pictures of it knit up.

And thanks for the picture of the sock on the foot. It does look different on, but still very nice.

You need to be writing advertising copy for your friend's new adventure. Your description of the silk is as gorgeous as the yarn! And I love both the argyle socks!

Wow. That yarn is beautiful. I think you did a great job of capturing the luster of the silk on the upper photo. Can't wait to see the shawl.

I like the texture argyle but the two-color mini-argule is too cute. I'm always very impressed (and a wee bit jealous, if truth be told!) of everything that you do. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Just a lurker coming out of the shadows to say I lurve your socks...both the textured and the coloured.

"...the peculiar dry crunch it makes when the ball is squeezed..."

The word you are looking for is "scroop." Lovely, isn't it?

That is a fantastic shade of red. I always have such a hard time finding good shades in red/pink. I really like both socks too. The quasi-argyle is still an interesting effect, even if it isn't the intended one.

Lovely stuff, both silk and socks. :)

I so wish I could come to Knit Night. Before I moved to Cleveland, I lived in Takoma Park, and I totally would have trekked over to Columbia to see everyone.

I've become addicted to your blog and LOVE your work. Being a yarn fondler I wish I could feel the yarn but your description was great. The Almost Argyle and the Mini Argyle are fab (pattern anytime soon?) I was one of the many anxiously awaiting the Deep V Argyle Vest Pattern - I cast on today for the Knitting Olympics. Thanks for sharing your work and the inspiration.

That silk yarn is so gorgeous! I can't wait to see your shawl emerge from tose beautiful balls of yarn. I hope to know where you got it from soon!

Wow...that silk yarn really is beautiful! I think both variations of your argyle socks are pretty awesome. They both translate into different feels, which is nice.

The silk looks delicious, and the beginning of your argyle sock is absolutely gorgeous.

That is just sumptuous! I bet there will be a bunch of us lining up when that shop opens!

I love both socks, and that yarn is amazing.

Wow, I love your blog and I can't wait to see more of your knitting! I hope you will post the sock patterns - both are awesome!!

The yarn is exquisite, and so is your description of it -- you and the mystery dyer are perfectly suited for each other.

Well, you should have started on that shawl last night (hopefully you weren't laughing so hard at the skating trees and the beating heart that you had to rip and start over) and I'm looking forward to some pics of progress....

that silk is amazing indeed. can't wait to see who the mystery dyer is...

Oooohhh! I'm very impressed. The silk lace is amazing.

Please, where did you get the silk? I have been looking for a nice silk to do a couple of shawls in, but I've yet to find a really good silk.

The argyle socks are lovely - both
the solids and bi-colored. Will you be making the pattern available to your knitting public?

The yarn is beautiful! She will probably be mobbed with vague descriptions ... can't wait.

I am in love with those socks! And in that gorgeous red... They are amazing.

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