Hello, Briggs and Little Sport.

Recently I completed a project that had been stuffed in the bottom of a basket for about a year. I’m not a monogamous knitter, but lingering unfinished projects do bother me a bit. Every once in a while, I’d remember this particular project, a half-completed colorwork vest, and worry about it a little. Would I ever finish it? Why did I put it down again? There must have been something intimidating ahead in the pattern, something scary enough that I’d hide the whole thing away and spend a year knitting other things. When I pulled out the pattern, an out-of-print Meg Swansen gem called the Square-Rigged Vest, it was immediately clear why I had stopped when I did. After casting on at the bottom edge and knitting happily round and round in the color pattern, I’d reached the armpit, where I’d have to plan for steeks. I’ve cut my knitting before, but something about the little bit of math and boldness required for this next step tripped me up. Coming back to it a year later, I was pleased to find myself excited rather than nervous at the prospect of steeking, and in a matter of weeks the whole project was done.

The yarn is Briggs and Little Sport, an unsung hero of a yarn. A rustic, single ply, 100% wool yarn, Briggs and Little Sport is quite affordable, comes in an astonishing array of colors, and has a sticky quality to it–all of which make it perfectly suited to stranded colorwork knitting. Once knit, the stitches cling to each other, which is handy for steeking, since it takes some serious pulling and stretching for the cut stitches to unravel.

Briggs and Little Sport is often passed over, I think, because it isn’t soft to the touch. It took some time to get used to it, but soon my fingers were accustomed to the texture of the yarn and enjoying the process. I was promised by those who had knit with it before that it would soften with washing and I can’t tell you how right they were. It’s not cashmere or anything, but then, that’s exactly what I love about this classic, wooly yarn.

If you’re considering a colorwork project, Briggs and Little Sport is certainly worth your attention, but I’ve seen it used successfully in other ways as well. Marion and several of her students have made February Lady Sweaters holding the Briggs and Little doubled to obtain a worsted-weight gauge. When I searched for the yarn on Ravelry, I found that many knitters are using it for socks, shawls, mittens, and hats, as well as sweaters. Come by the shop to visit this unsung hero and consider how you might make use of it. See you soon!

Cascade Ultra Pima.

As new yarns go, Cascade Ultra Pima is not the newest. We got our first few bags of it several months ago now. However, this is such a popular yarn that most of the colors we ordered back then have been backordered until recently. It’s only this week that we’ve begun to see the full range of colors.

Cascade Ultra Pima is a 100% cotton yarn in a dk weight, smooth and slightly shiny. It’s also very affordable, at $9.50 per 220 yard skein. Several knitters have wandered into the shop lately hoping to make lightweight cotton tees–this yarn would be a perfect choice for such an endeavor. Though it’s also right for a lace scarf, or a simple summer cardigan for cool evenings… Ultra Pima has a lot of potential this time of year. Look for it on the cotton tree, and consider it for your warm weather knitting.

Cascade 220 Superwash Sport.

********* As of December 15th, 2015, we no longer have any Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in stock. *********
Allow me to introduce you to my favorite yarn of the moment. Simple, sturdy, yet soft, and suitable for most any project: Cascade 220 Superwash Sport. A few weeks ago, we had only a handful of colors. I’d just begun a pair of socks in a light heathered gray when I overheard Anne on the phone, saying, “Yes, I’d like a bag of every color. Except gray.” Every color?
Oh yes. Every color. To me, this yarn suggests complicated fair isle sweaters, striped socks, many-colored hats and mittens… first, though, I had to finish my gray socks.

 

The completion of these socks brings mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s a success to have finished a pair of socks, where before I’ve been plagued by second sock syndrome. On the other hand, it’s impossible to ignore that they are simply too big. Looks are deceiving: the socks appear to be the right size, yet they lack the negative ease that makes socks fit snugly, and so they feel oddly loose. I thought I’d try to shrink them in the wash, because, hey, it’s machine washable yarn, but it’s probably not machine dry-able. Bad news for my socks, good news for consumers of Cascade 220 Superwash Sport: the socks emerged from the dryer in exactly the same state they had entered it. This yarn is superwash, indeed.
Back to daydreaming about colorwork, then. Also, trying my hand at fingering-weight socks, which I’ll show off here soon…