Exciting things have been happening here at Maison du Splinarella. First off, I've finished something! After spending over 3 months working on my Cabled Aran Vest, I needed something quick and cute that I could whip on and off the needles, something springy that I could wear right away and enjoy.
I picked the Drop Stitch Scarf, by Christine Vogel. And I knew just the yarn I wanted to make it with: Tess Microfiber Ribbon.
I'd been hearing about Tess Microfiber Ribbon on The Knitmore Girls Podcast for months. Jasmin had been raving about the stuff, saying it knits like water and is perfect for cool and comfortable summer tops. I had, therefore, been delighted when I won a skein of it in the Knitmore Girls' "Do Some Good" contest earlier this spring. I could hardly wait to finish my aran vest so I could cast on my scarf.
So, here are a few details about the yarn:
It comes in generous 150g/333yd skeins for $25, although today the website shows them on sale for 25% off -- get 'em while you can! The colorway I used is #832411, a rainbow blend that transitions from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to purple to pink and back to red again. The colors are bright and vivid, a riot of tropical flora. The yarn itself is a true ribbon yarn with a width of about 1/8"/3mm by my measurement.
I knit up my scarf on US size 8 Knitpicks Options, the nickel-plated tips. At first, I found the knitting fiddly. I almost never knit with ribbon yarns, so that alone took some getting used to. The yarn is quite slippery, and for the first few rows I felt as though the project were in danger of slipping right off the needle tips. As the scarf grew longer, the weight of it was just enough to pull the yarn down onto the needles and get rid of that slipping feeling. The ribbon tended to twist and kink as I knitted it, which may just be a function of ribbon yarns and not a reflection of this particular brand. Fortunately, any twists that found their way into the knitting straightened themselves out in the finished product with no effort on my part. The yarn is so slippery that the twists just seemed to fall right out as soon as I lifted the scarf. I found myself frequently poking the tip of my needle into the ribbon (again, my inexperience with ribbon yarns was the culprit), but even though the Options tips are somewhat pointy, they never actually managed to pierce the ribbon. I did, however, snag the ribbon on just about anything that was remotely snaggable: a slight crack in a fingernail; the rough skin at the edge of a finger. In that sense, it was very much like working with silk. I would definitely recommend a good sugar scrub before taking up the Tess.
Overall, I liked this yarn. Except...I found a knot in the skein.
I debated about whether to even bring this up. After all, I received the skein as a prize in a contest. Free is free, and who complains about free, right? I can certainly understand a dyer wanting to provide prizes from mill-ends or seconds, and knots are part of that territory.
After I found the knot, I checked the label thoroughly. It's not marked second, or mill-end, or anything else to indicate that it's not a first-rate, grade A skein of yarn. Now, I find knots in big-box yarns all the time. I don't like it, but kind of like mill-ends, I also figure it's just part of that territory. Big-box is big-box for a reason, and part of that reason is price point. A knot or two finding their way into the occasional skein, while not desirable, is probably unavoidable.
But, I expect more from high-end yarns. Again, price point is an issue. If I'm going to pay $25 for a skein of yarn, I want that skein to be just that: a single skein, not two mini-skeins knotted together. Then, there's the issue of this particular yarn. It's a microfiber ribbon. The instructions on the label say "Use fabric glue such as Fray-chek to seal ends & fasten." Not only is it impossible to join ends in a somewhat invisible manner (via a Russian join, spit splice or the like), but the yarn is so slippery that it needs to be knotted and then glued together. You better believe I want as few knots as possible in my project. Finally, this isn't a big-box production employing hundreds or thousands of employees in factories worldwide. It's a small producer who, I assume, must take a fairly hands-on approach to the production process. I would hope that a knotted skein would be pulled aside, labeled as a second or mill-end and priced accordingly. Ultimately, I would have to think twice before paying MSRP for this yarn simply because, if this is an indication of what can be expected in a first-rate skein, I'm not sure I would be willing to spend quite so much on it.
So, there's my review. I like the yarn, I love the way the finished product looks, but that knot really bugged me. Finding a knot in any skein of high-end yarn bothers me, which is why I almost never knit with Noro. But that's a story for another day.
And now, on to a CONTEST!
I just finished reading Sweater Quest, by Adrienne Martini. Adrienne tells the tale of her quest to scale the knitterly equivalent of Mount Everest by knitting Alice Starmore's Mary Tudor sweater over the course of 12 months. I won't say much except that I really enjoyed it, and now I'd like to pass my copy along for someone else to enjoy.
Entering the contest is simple: Leave a comment on this post by next Thursday, April 28. Tell me about your own knitterly equivalent of Mount Everest. I'll pick one winner by random number generator. Please include your ravelry ID in your post so I can contact you by PM if you win. And if you're not on rav...why aren't you? Go sign up: www.ravelry.com. I'll wait. Or, if you insist on remaining rav-less, please do make sure I have some way of contacting you in case you win. I'd hate for you to miss out on your prize because my mind-reading skills aren't up to snuff.
If you like what you read on my blog, sign up to follow me -- there's a box in the sidebar where you should be able to do that. And if you feel extra inspired, please feel free to make a small donation to the Spina Bifida Association of Northeastern New York. My younger daughter has Spina Bifida, a birth defect that affects approximately 1 in 1,000 pregnancies and is the most commonly-occurring, permanently-disabling birth defect in the United States. SBA of NENY does a great job providing families like ours with support and advocacy, and every penny they can raise is both important and needed.
Finally, if you're a woman of childbearing age, the United States Public Health Service recommends that you should consume 0.4 mg of folic acid daily to help reduce the risk of having a pregnancy affected by Spina Bifida or other neural tube defects.
OK, public service announcement over. Go play with some fiber, check out the links on this post, leave your comments and keep your fingers crossed. One lucky winner will be announced next week!