100% Beautiful…Plaid week is back!

The Wool Box is having plaid week again!

It's plaid week again...just in time for a picnic!

It’s plaid week again…just in time for a picnic!

I don’t know if I can resist, these are so beautiful. I just got back from a fabulous spinning workshop and a super mini-vacation in the Aosta Valley. We stayed in a little ski chalet built in 1850, it was amazing – the quality of the wooden paneling, the brass door handles, the hand-carved stone heating stove – and all of the blankets were gorgeous woven wool. My advice: pitch those tatty old poly-fleece throws and get something that will keep you warmer and only become more beautiful with age.

Sizes from 60″ x 70″(150cm x 18cm) to 60″ x 60″ (150cm x 170cm). Prices from 35 to 65 euro…that’s less than the cost of a good lunch out with your best friend folks…I say, get one of these instead and pack up a picnic :)! Info from The Wool Box is translated below:

Plaid week is back!

The sun is out the sky is blue; it’s time for outings, mountain jaunts and picnics in the dappled shade of woodland glades.

And, just in case the wind picks up and threatening clouds form on the horizon; tuck the food back into the basket and voilà! These luxurious and durable woolen blankets transform into a warm cover against the storm.

Use them as you wish: as durable traveling companions, for a warm cuddle on the sofa, as improvised tablecloths on which consume sandwiches and happiness, as a last-minute shawl or an emergency beach tent to keep off the summer sun (… no coincidence that the desert Tuareg dress in wool). You can use it wherever and however you wish and it’s sure to become a priceless companion both in your daily life and your exceptional adventures.

100% wool, 100% traceable, 100% short supply-chain products, 100% made in Biella, Italy, 100% beautiful.

Approximately 1 kilogram of woven fleece, at the price of yarn in skeins

Incredible isn’t it? See you at the picnic!

Made of 100% Italian, hand-sorted, Biella wool. Only the finest fibers have been used to create this throw, which reflects the autumn colors of Burcina's Pollone Park.

This one’s my favorite! – Made of 100% Italian, hand-sorted, Biella wool. Only the finest fibers have been used to create this throw, which reflects the autumn colors of Burcina’s Pollone Park.

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Spinning with excitement!

Spinning workshop tomorrow!

I’m so looking forward to attending The Wool Box’s class for beginning drop spindle spinners at the splendid Villa Piazzo in Pettinengo that has this fabulous view:

Third Paradise Garden

Third Paradise Garden

I attended my first hand spinning class last year – at the Kid n’ Ewe in Borne, TX – as a gift from my amazingly talented mother, the Texas fiber artist Sara Crittenden Coppedge. She and I had loads of fun learning how to handle top-whorl spindles and BFL fiber from the charming and adept Seth Bruce.  I took my spindle and some fluff back to Italy and I have continued to spin even more since I came across the wonderful variety of fluff, carded and combed roving available from The Wool Box. With some practice, the quality of my yarn has improved.

The next step…

Now I feel ready for a little more information and some new techniques. The 6 hour course will offer a general review of fiber basics. Spinning of single strands with the use of a variable gravity spindle*. Plying 2 strands to make 2-ply yarn. Practical exercises to familiarize yourself with the technique. Practice spinning different types of fiber: raw fleece, combed fleece, carded roving and ‘fluff’. Preparation of fibers for making sample yarn. Creating yarn samples with two strands. Practice making yarn with more than 2 strands and an introduction to ‘artistic’ techniques….ooh, I can hardly wait! (and it’s only costing 55 euro with materials included!)

If I’ve understood correctly, they’ve also promised a sneak peak at some rare luxury fibers: Camel, Cashmere Ultra fine, Qivuit, Musk Ox, Yak (brown & white) and YangirThey look quite enticing…

Beautiful rare fibers. From top left: Camel, Cashmere Ultra fine, Qivuit, Musk Ox, Yak (brown & white) and Yangir.

Beautiful rare fibers from The Wool Box. From top left: Camel, Cashmere Ultra fine, Qivuit, Musk Ox, Yak (brown & white) and Yangir.

Then there’s the new ‘variable gravity spindle’ and the 100 grams of fiber that comes with the course. Having only ever worked with an Ashford top-whorl 90mm (3½ins), 80gm (2¾ozs) drop spindle – which is quite heavy – and the one I made for my daughter – which is quite light – I’m curious to try something different…

So I’ll be taking my camera and my notebook, along with two English-speaking friends, up into the Alpine foothills on the other side of the lake. The lunch, prepared from garden produce grown on the villa grounds, promises to be lovely as well. I wish you were all coming with me! I’ll let you know all about how it went it next week.

Meanwhile, happy wool-working!

*patent pending

Springing Towards Summer

Robin's Striped Hetty - I hope it still fits her in the Autumn!

Robin’s Striped Hetty – I hope it still fits her in the Autumn!

Striping it up!

Although I finished this a few weeks ago it was a job to get my girl to model it. She loves the top but, as evidenced by the day lily in her hair, summer weather has finally arrived in northern Italy and all she want’s to wear right now are sleeveless tank-tops. Then there was getting her to stop ‘modeling’; it’s hard not to laugh when she arches her eyebrows and puts her hand on her hip! Meanwhile, I did love Sarah Wright’s pattern, which was a good size for my 6-year-old. One of the advantages of top-down patterns for kids is that, If she get’s any taller, I can always pick up the bottom stitches and keep going. The decision to make stripes was inspired by Jenjoyce Designs’ Pin-Striped Sweater Tees (which I’m happy to say now has a pattern available). Over all I’m happy with how it came out, I’m only a tiny bit disappointed at how evident the increases are below the blue stripe at the waist although that’s due to the smoothness of the yarn rather than any problem with the pattern.

Coming to terms with super soft…once again

It is really, wonderfully soft. Even though this is super wash, I’ve had such bad luck with this yarn pilling (and I’m not the only one), that I’m going to keep washing by hand in cold to see if that helps. A polar opposite of the Morron Bouton that I used to make my husband’s Workman’s Gloves and Hybrid Highland Hose, I can’t recommend Lana Gatto Super Soft for anything you want to keep for a long time or that has to take wear and tear (i.e. forget it for aran sweaters or socks); although it’s not a heritage knitting yarn, it’s a fine choice for fun-colored, low-wear accessories, children’s or infant patterns that are fast to knit up and that only need to look good for a single season.

Robin's Striped Hetty in Process and Complete.

Robin’s Striped Hetty in Process and Complete.

Wrapping up Winter’s last WIP and The Incredible Gloves

Hybrid Finnish/Scottish Kilt Hose - Finished at last!

Hybrid Finnish/Scottish Kilt Hose – Finished at last!

Wool socks in June?

Back in May I blogged about how I was determined to finish these socks over the weekend. I missed my deadline by a day but then realized that, since these were part of my husband’s birthday gift, perhaps I was better off keeping them on the bottom of my knitting basket and off my blog until the big day. So here they are, making their debut after months in the knitting (due to giving other projects precedence as they weren’t hard or time consuming to make). And yes, it is June and these are made of really densely knitted, durable wool…where is he going to wear them? Hiking up Monte Rosa of course! There’s still plenty of snow up on the glacier and this way at least I know his feet will be warm. Although I was initially worried by the weird look of the reinforced ‘Dutch’ heel and the stiffness of the fabric when these were fresh off the needles, they washed and blocked out beautifully.

The Wool Box’s Morron Bouton :  the superhero of Italian wool

Workman's fingerless gloves in Morron Bouton from The Wool Box - amazingly durable.

Workman’s fingerless gloves in Morron Bouton from The Wool Box – after 6 months of hard wear.

Detail of repairs made to the palm of the workman's glove after a screw went awry.

Detail of repairs made to the palm of the workman’s glove – while working on an interior restoration in Venice, a screw went awry and left a few holes that I repaired with some hand-spun.

This yarn, which comes in two weights (a light and a chunky), is an excellent choice for anything that needs to last. At Christmas I gave my husband a pair of fancy, fingerless gloves knit up in Berroco Alpaca Ultra Fine on U.S. #1’s. He was so pleased with them that he didn’t want to take them off; but, my husband is an artist and a custom furniture designer in addition to doing restoration work on historic interiors here in Italy. He needed a pair of gloves he could wear every day that would stand up to steel and wood, loading and unloading materials in rain and snow while still keeping his hands warm and the tips of his fingers free for texting and making phone calls (something he’s always doing). Morron Bouton proved itself to be the superhero of Italian wool, these workman’s gloves that I knitted up in January have survived hard use up through the end of May and they’re ready to go back to work in October. And, despite being such a tough wool, it never once irritated the tender skin on the inside of his wrists.

Do you see the luster in this yarn…6 months of abrasion, 8 hand washings in soap and warm water and not a single ‘pill’ and no sign of felting! At less than 9 euro per 200 yard skein (I ordered two and made one sock and one glove with each skein) I’d say that’s an incredible bargain. Do you have a ‘superhero’ wool?