Recently in Tops Category

Blueberry Mousse

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After all the good stuff from my weekend, posting about an actual knitting project almost seems anti-climactic. But I do have my last summery top on the needles now, which I am calling "Blueberry Mousse".

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The Back of Blueberry Mousse

This is my third project from the yarn I bought at ArtFibers in June. Mousse is a Linen/Cotton/Nylon blend ribbon yarn that appears to be a much daintier cousin to Rowan's Cotton Braid. This particular colorway is just perfect for me: faded denimy blue with a touch of green.

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A Few Strands of Mousse

But what makes Mousse really special is it's knitted texture. It's boucle qualities mean that it is very hard to see individual stitch definition. As a result, the fabric almost appears not to be a knitted fabric. I think the texture is very classy and sophisticated. I thought the recommended gauge was a little loose when I knitted it in the store, so I dropped down two needle sizes. My gauge is almost exactly the same as it was on the US 8's, but when I switched to the US 6's, the fabric became denser. Denser, but still light and drapey. So it will be work appropriate as well as play-appropriate.

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Mousse Up Close: Stockinette and Some Lace for Good Measure

I hope this gives a better impression of the fabric and the colors than the top shot does. I started the base of the top with 4 rows of garter stitch followed by 8 rows of the basic faggoting stitch as described by Barbara Walker. I'm hoping that a little blocking will help to open up the lace at the bottom a bit. The rest of the top will just be stockinette, unless I get motivated to add more lace somewhere else. But I think it will be more striking if I don't over do it.

P.S. To Anyone Interested in my Koigu from Yesterday... I've added the color numbers beneath the closeup shots...

Video Game Knitting

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For those of you not fortunate to share a house with your own personal geek boy, you may not be aware of the big event geek boys around the world are celebrating: the release of Doom 3. In my house, this event has been one requiring the update of video cards and other supporting hardware so that our home theatre room (a.k.a. the Den Of Great Manliness) can be transformed into the ultimate gaming location.

I am not quite geek girl enough to want to play the game myself. Long ago I gave up on ever having the hand eye co-ordination required for a career in professional gaming. But I am geek girl enough to want to see the game played, look at the new technology, see what story gets told. In fact, it's one of my odd quirks (I have many), that I would rather sit and watch John play a video game than watch a movie.

So tonight I finished off the front of the Lucky Ruban Top to the sounds of gunfire, zombies and screaming combatants on Mars. Not a bad evening for a knitting geek girl.

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Lucky Front

Like the back, there's almost no shaping at all on this top until you get to the V-neckline. I think it's just about the most simple garment I've ever knit up. All that is left to do now is to block the front, weave in the ends, do a three needle bindoff on the shoulders, and seam up the sides. I'm a bit skeptical about the lack of armhole shaping, but in the spirit of trying to understand "how things work" I decided I would give it a go.

New tank top by Wednesday? It's a real possibility if tomorrow isn't too crazy at work.

Audrey Front and Center

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Will The Real Audrey Back Piece Please Stand Up?

I had a lovely trip to South Texas. Given that it was July, the weather was actually quite pleasant. I got to spend time with my brother and his wife in Corpus Christi and to see a wonderful friend from college get married to the man of her dreams in San Antonio. Pretty good stuff overall. And as a side benefit, I finally got to show John my alma mater. It was fun to walk around an point out all these old reference points in my life, but a bit strange since it was so quiet and empty (there's no graduate school to keep the place busy in the summer).

There would be pictures, except for the fact that I packed up the camera and then promptly left it on the kitchen counter in my hurry to get out the door and on the way to the plane (or perhaps it was the excitement of getting boxes from Levenger and from ThreadBear -- it always seems like my very cool packages arrive just as I have to go away for a while).

But I do have a few pictures of what I worked on while travelling. And with the flights to Texas and the drive between Corpus and San Antonio, I had plenty of travelling time.

Lately I'd been feeling guilty about Audrey -- or rather, my lack of any significant progress on Audrey at all since completing the first sleeve. I think it had to do with fear of darts and how to make the decreases and increases look perfect. I toyed with changing the decreasing and increasing strategy and with leaving them out. In the end, I just decided to trust Kim Hargreaves and follow the instructions.

The back of this top did teach me some humility. I miscounted on where to start doing the decreases and ended up ripping it back to the beginning to correct my mistake (it just wasn't one of those things I could ignore). In retrospect, I'm pretty proud of myself because instead of feeling all annoyed and frustrated and shoving everything back into its ziploc bag, I actually picked up the stitches after ripping and just started over again.

And I never should have distrusted the wisdom of Kim H's pattern writing. I actually rather like the increases and decreases that are called for.

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Decreases and Increases

Now that I am finished with the front, I find it rather strange to see that the front is only a bit wider than the sleeve. I did some test stretching to try to convince myself that this top will be big enough. Ribbing is magical stuff.

I am now having a little internal battle with myself over what to do next. If I was smart, I would cast on for the second Audrey sleeve. But my Chai top is also awaiting blocking and some sleeves. And then there is the Tess' ribbon tank top. And I want to swatch my Phil Ruban. So many difficult decisions.

Before I sign off and head for my blocking board, I just have to show off one of the things that came in the mail just before I left for Texas.

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Can A Girl Ever Have Too Many Nice Leather Bags?

One of my favorite online shopping venues (lover of neat office supplies and shiny things that I am) is Levenger. Much of their stuff is pretty pricey, but sometimes they have some great deals in their outlet section. This lovely leather tote/folio bag which is roughly 12" x 12" was being closed out for $29.95. How could I resist? Certainly not a knitting bag (you might be able to squeeze a sock project in if pressed), but very nice for carrying papers and books neatly for business-y reasons.

Simple and Sleeveless Giotto Top Complete

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Simple and Sleeveless Giotto Top Sun Bathing
The Simple and Sleeveless Top Catches Some Late Afternoon Rays

This little number just wanted to bask in the sunshine after I finished her. I love the way the colors look under natural sunlight. From this angle, the thickness of the Giotto fabric comes through a bit. This is definitely not a thin little top! But that said, the shaping and the ribbon quality of the yarn makes for a very nice fitting top.

Modeling Simple and Sleeveless Giotto Top
Simple And Sleeveless and Shaped Just Right!

All my angst over sizing and shaping was laid to rest after I tried the top on. It's not completely form fitting, but the fit is definitely close. I think the weight of the fabric helps to give it some hug. This is definitely a support friendly top. The Giotto feels wonderful against my skin. I can see myself wearing this top with both casual and more formal bottoms, but I'd love to find a silk skirt to pair with it. And the fabric does move with you when you move! For proof, you can take a look at this action shot. Only time will tell whether it will hold it's shape or succumb to gravity, but right now, the fabric feels very elastic, so I have high hopes.

So what did I learn from this project?

  • I need more Giotto.
  • When I am not pathologically lazy, I can convert a pattern to the gauge I want it to be in.
  • Ribbon yarns look much better knit up when I am careful about not splitting them with the tips of my needles.
  • Alternating skeins of yarn every two rows not only helps keep the colors even, but it helps keep the ribbon yarn from twisting in a terrible, horrible way.
  • It's a good idea to subject gauge swatches to water.

I enjoyed this project, both yarn and pattern, a great deal. I can certainly see myself using this pattern as a template for future tops. This project also restored my desire to work with ribbon yarns. I'd done a few scarf projects with ribbons and swore I would never go near them again because the twisting made me crazy. The Giotto still twisted, but by rotating my project counter-clockwise I avoided the worst of it. Done at my gauge, this top took almost all of the three skeins of Giotto that I had. I used my AddiTurbos for this project. For some, this might be a little too slippery to maintain a neat tension, but for me they were perfect (I'm a pretty tight knitter) and they didn't snag the ribbon in any way.

This is my first completed project from Sally Melville's The Purl Stitch, and given my success with this one, you can bet I'll be thinking about some of the other projects in the book. I'd love to find some Koigu that would coordinate with the Giotto so that I could make a pair a of gauntlets to go with it in the winter.

Yarn Terrorists

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I woke up to this today:

The Victim

A skein of Cascade 220 that had been pulled out of a basket, unwound, and tangled up. Amazing. Not the tangling part, but the untwisting is impressive. Who could have wanted to distress this lovely yarn so much? Well, I think I know the possible culprits.

Sydney
Sydney a.k.a "Skinny Rat"
Mercutio
Mercutio, a.k.a. "Fat Boy"
Beezle
Marco Polo, a.k.a "Beezle Weasel"

Well, I did my best John Ashcroft and rounded up the suspects. When questioned, all three potential enemies of the state vehemently protested their innocence. Looks to me like we're going to be withholding kitty treats for the foreseeable future. But I'm putting my money on the Beeze. He's my "kitten" and conspicuously avoided me when I picked up my poor, victimized Cascade(both Sydney and Mercutio came up, inspected the damage, and walked off). I am so not looking forward to trying to get this wound up so I can use it.

Moral of the story: Always put the lid on your knitting basket. You can never be complacent when there are potential yarn terrorists on the loose.

Although I wasn't so happy about the Cascade, I had left my Colinette top front on my desk out in open view, so I was mostly glad that if they had to pick something, the didn't pick the Colinette. Speaking of which, I finished the front tonight:

Simple and Sleeveless Back and Front

Assembly and collar knitting to commence tomorrow night after the ChicKnits KIP at 7 PM at Letizia's Natural Bakery on Division (I don't think I can assemble and talk at the same time!). Not sure what I'll be bringing along... probably Dad's LoTech. If you're in Chicago and want to meet some fun knitters, be sure to stop by!

Getting Closer

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Front of Simple and Sleeveless Too

Well, it's not the most glamorous knitting shot I've ever taken, but it does let you know how much I got done on this over the last two days. If I had had another hour in the day today I might have tried to finish it. As it is, I decided to let it rest at the armhole shapings. I think I should be able to get it all finished up by Thursday night -- at least the seaming part. The collar is knit in the round after the pieces are assembled.

Something nice showed up on my doorstep yesterday:

Shadow Boxes Cardigan Kit from Shelridge Farm

This is the Shadow Boxes Cardigan Kit that I ordered from Shelridge Farm. The sweater was desgined by Maureen Mason-Jamieson and my mother fell in love with it when we were at the Michigan Fiber Festival wandering through the Shelridge booth. This is the red version of the kit, featuring (from left to right) raspberry, plum and iris colors (the color on the far right is the black contrast yarn). This sweater is destined to be my Mom's Christmas present. It won't be a surprise, because I wanted her to pick a sweater she really liked. Mom's a crafty type, so I'm hoping she'll enjoy watching the process of the sweater coming to life here on my blog.

The kit contains the Soft Touch DK weight wool. The yarn from Shelridge is very nice and soft. You can feel that little touch of lanolin that remains in it, and I can tell already it is going to be fun to knit. I'll probably try to start it after I get my top finished. Assuming I can get through the instructions! 6 pages of instructions and tips come with this kit. I'm looking forward to seeing how the shadowing works and to the small amount of Fair Isle color work

Knitting Sentiment

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On Friday, I got a nice email from Stephannie -- she'd received the Noro Kureyon that had been delivered to me because the Ebay seller wouldn't ship outside the US. If you want the whole story (and to see the project it's for) check out her blog. Suffice it to say that I am taking classes at the ThreadBear School of Enabling Sciences. What made me feel all warm and fuzzy was when she wrote that she would be thinking nice thoughts about me while she knit it up. I thought, How cool! Somewhere in Toronto, there's a project that will be special to someone that I had a hand in helping along.

And it reminded me of a lovely package of sock yarn that showed up on my porch in January. A package that would start off a trans-Atlantic yarn trade with Emma, the world's greatest blog ring neighbor. I definitely thought of her when I was knitting up my first pair of socks in one of those skeins of Opal. I've made quite a few pairs since then, and because of her kindness, I almost always remember her whilst knitting socks.

She was also the person who sent me the Colinette Giotto in Jay that I swatched with on Friday. Thus, I would like to think I was knitting good Emma vibes into both projects that I was working on today: the Simple and Sleeveless Top by Sally Melville and a pair of socks for my sweetie from the second skein of Opal. I think this is what makes trading so much fun for me. Somewhere else, in another part of the world, someone is taking the trouble to pick out something lovely. They look at it and decide if it is neat enough to go in a box or a bag and travel to someone else. Maybe they have a theme, maybe it just makes them happy to send a surprise to someone else. And I get to do the same. And thus, we both get to put a little of ourselves into someone else's knitting basket.

So what did I do with that Giotto swatch from Friday? Well, I ripped it down a little bit (I'm such a cheapskate and I hate leaving good yarn in a swatch), bound it off and soaked it in some cool water and some Woolite. It gave up a little color, but rinsed clear. I measured before and after and didn't notice much change in the size of the swatch. Alrighty then, I thought, nothing to worry about, time to cast on!

Nothing to worry about except my inability to do simple measurements. I cast on according to the pattern only to find out that it was about an inch wider than expected. Hmmm.. Me? Gauge Problems? No Way! After all I swatched! Well... I went back to my swatch and to the piece I was working on and realized that my gauge was 4 stitches/inch instead of the 4-3/8 stitches/inch to make the pattern work out.

So, I played frog princess, ripped out what I had started, re-calculated all the stitch widths and shaping in the pattern (with the help of the very handy Knitting Companion) and got started again. And I must say, I'm pretty pleased with myself and my modifications. I know it's not rocket science, but it's a relatively original move for me. So without further ado, here's the back of the top:

Back of Simple and Sleeveless Top in Colinette Giotto Jay

Natural light does this yarn more justice, but it the picture gives you a good sense for the variation. I alternated skeins every two rows to prevent any color oddities from occuring. This had the unintended, but very desirable, effect of limiting the twisting of the Giotto ribbon, because I found that by rotating my knitting and the balls of yarn as I was working I could undo the twisting I was creating.

Side Shaping for the Simple and Sleeveless Top

This picture was taken in more natural light (it was overcast and rainy all day here in Chicago, so my camera always wanted to use its flash) and the colors are truer. I liked the way the shaping came out. And because I am head over heels in love with this yarn, here's a closeup of the color and texture of Giotto in stockinette:

Colinette Giotto Jay Stockinette Close Up

I love the flashes of purple and olive green that hide in the colorway. It gives the fabric a lot of depth. And I love the feel of the fabric -- thick and springy. I am a little concerned about how the effects of gravity will play out on the finished garment (I would bet that the back weighs 125 grams or so), but I have hope that the cotton/rayon blend won't let me down too much.

Now I am going to head back to John's sock. Once I hit a milestone with a project, I like to let it sit for a while and do something else. It helps me keep excited about it and satisfies my short attention span.

Tomorrow: A Happy Ending to a Sad Story...

Giotto Swatch

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Stockinette Giotto Swatch in Jay

Well, it wasn't a very ambitious knitting night for me. I'm ambitious when I know where I am going, but tonight I felt pretty ambivalent. I'm now concerned about color variations in the Merino Light for my Dad's sweater and worried that when the sweater gets washed it will loosen up too much to be good for him to go running in. I sent an email to Elann about the color problems. Normally I would just bull on ahead, but I just don't want to put any more time into something that might not work out right now.

So for a little while I knit on the mulitdirectional scarf -- I got one more wedge, so I'll wait 'til I'm a little farther to post more pics. While I was knitting on that scarf I decided that it wasn't a good use of a pair of size 8 Addis. Suddenly I could hear that Colinette that Emma sent me calling out:

Don't forget me! I could still be a great fall top! Please don't leave me in this yarn box! You know you want another top. And it's still too warm to knit with all that mohair and wool. Swatch me for that top in Sally Melville's The Purl Stitch... you know the one... Simple and Sleeveless. The model is knit up in Zen -- I'm a lot like Zen! I bet I would knit to guage if you got got those Addis out of that Silk Garden and tried them on me...Silly knitter! How could you be ignoring custom dyed ribbon for silk and mohair when it's still 75 degrees?

I bet you didn't know that Giotto was so persuasive. It is. So I swatched. And to my pleasant surprise, I do get 26 rows and 17.5 stitches (or so) to 4". So I think it's just meant to be this:

Simple and Sleeveless Top

So now I get to another moment of severe indecisiveness...what size should I make? Sally says when using a "slinky yarn" for a "closer fit" you should choose one size smaller than your normal size. Her calculation is bust + 1 - 2. For me this would be 34 + 1 - 2 = 33. The pattern is written for 32" and 36" option. I think the 36 would be a little too big in any event, but will the 32" be too small? There's a fair amount of give in my swatch, but I don't want the top to look painted on. Hmmm.

There's lots more to say about The Purl Stitch, but I'll save that for a separate post.

All Tai'd Up!

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I'm going to make up for my last few pictureless posts with a very picture heavy entry. My apologies to anyone with a slow connection. This is my victory dance for this project, so I'm showing off the finish, which is (hopefully) more interesting than the individual pieces of the top (as displayed above after I had joined the shoulders).

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Thanks to everyone from the last post who offered suggestions about how to deal with difficult yarn when seaming. After I spent some time inspecting the Tai, I decided that I was going to try to do the finishing work with it. It doesn't break easily, and it's slippery enough to slide well past itself, so I thought it might be worth it to give it ago. I was also worried that anything else might be visible in the fabric.

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I actually found the finishing to be much more challenging than the knitting. It was very difficult for me to determine where stitches actually began an ended because of the yarn and the texture it creates. So I was pretty pleased with the results. The pictures above show 1) the seam where the shoulders and a sleeve join and 2) the sleeve joined to the body of the top. This yarn hides a lot of flaws, even if it makes them easy to create.

And here's the top all finished except for the neck fringe (all the ends woven in and everything!):

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And here's the finished product, with fringe. I did my fringes all the way around the neckline, as called for, but I decided to only use three strands instead of 6 because I 6 strands seemed to thick for the fringe and I thought it would be a little gaudier than I wanted (assuming a shimmery top is not already a little gaudy).

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I do like the way the top hangs. All knit up, the top does have a little bit of a weighty feel to it -- a reminder of the cotton content in the yarn. The drape is quite nice and the fringe actually looks pretty good sitting at the neck.

Before I talk about the detail images (and before I forget), I'd like to mention that I think the finishing instructions were pretty good -- at least as far as the order of processing occurs. I like set-in sleeve patterns where they have you join the sleeves to the armhole before doing other seaming, since I think its a lot easier to get something put together that looks right.

Here's a closeup of the fringe at the neck:

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I am a little concerned that the fringe will come unattached over time -- the yarn is a little slippery and the strands are only 5" long and it's quite hard to get the fringe attached tightly. Only time will tell. I have a feeling that this will be one of my very much "handwash" tops.

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This is a closeup of the elbow-end of the sleeves, which are 1/2 length. If I were to change anything on the top, I'd go back and do the same thing around the bottom edge of the top.

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This is another closeup of the stockinette fabric. It's almost impossible to see in the finished top pictures, but these little open spaces appear randomly throughout the fabric adding a little more texture to an already-texture rich stockinette stitch. I definitely got more of them on the front piece than on the back, it's possible I loosened up a little bit more and got more of them, or it just could have been random.

All the detail shots were taken outside so that the natural colors would come out better. Under indoor light, this top takes on a very yellow/orange look, which is impossible for me to wear. In the outside light more of the blues and pinks show up.

Finally... here's a little victory shot of me in the top:

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It's the perfect length for me (long waisted people may want to add an extra inch or so if doing this top), all unsightly straps are covered, and it's eminently to-workable (meaning not too see-through or too short).

Because the last two Filatura top patterns were a light light on the yarn predictions, and because I ordered from Elann, I decided to order one more skein than called for for my size. Of course, this time I didn't even touch that extra ball, and only a little of the last that I started. So I guess they aren't consistently off with their yardage predictions.

Overall, I'm quite pleased! This is my third, almost hassle free, top done out of this pattern book -- I feel like I've gotten my money's worth here. Not only because I like the results, but because the patterns haven't made me crazy while I worked on the top.

Tai Front

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Last night (while doing some work for home that mostly involves monitoring one of our servers that happens to be in a remote location) I finished the front of the boatneck Tai top. No pictures, it looks the same as the back piece. For some reason, the knitting seemed to take longer, although I suspect it probably didn't, I just had the weekend to work on the back. Tonight I'll cast on the first of the sleeves, and see how good my rectangular knitting is.

Right now my house is very quiet. John is away on business and his mother has moved back to her own house. On one hand, I am happy that John and I are the only inhabitants of our abode. On the other hand, she came to stay with us because of concerns we had about her living in her own space. So we're still concerned about her, but are hopeful that things will work out okay.

I'm also balancing out my knitting with a bit of reading. So far I've got three books on my nightstand...

The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (I'm reading it for the Knitting Bloggers Reading Group).

The Bug: A Novel, by Ellen Ullman (loaned to me by a friend at work).

In the Beginning Was the Command Line, by Neal Stephenson (loaned to me by a friend at work).

So far I am finding Life of Pi interesting, but I am not sure I am enjoying the book yet. I guess because I didn't pick the book out myself, I am reading it with a much more clinical eye than I would be otherwise. The other two fall squarely into the genre of "geek lit". I am not sure quite what to make of The Bug at the moment. Some of it rings true, some of it rings over the top, and some of it comes too close to home for comfort. I just started Command Line which is more an essay on OS and user environments on computers by the guy that wrote Cryptonomicon (which, if you haven't read, is fabulous).

Tai Back

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Well, here's the back of the Filatura Tai top. You can see by looking at it that the shaping is extremely challenging (wink, wink). Yep. Cast on 76 stitches, knit in stockinette for 10.5 inches, BO two at each side and knit until the final bind off.

I've started on the front, which is exactly the same as the back. The sleeves are even more exciting -- rectangles of stockinette. Given the general level of excitement in these pieces, I might not show too many more pictures until the thing is ready for finishing.

Definitely a good, mostly mindless knitting project that will hopefully turn into something wonderful.

I did take time out to do a little brainstorming. I had, what I hope, is a neat idea for something that could be a Knitty submission. We'll see. I need to make a little test project to see if I can do what I want to. If I can't it'll be the subject of a post... if not, who knows?

Added 22 July 2003 because I forgot to mention it last night: One more thing, before I forget... the best thing about Tai is that it is not a ribbon yarn -- it's actually one of those woven tube yarns. As such, no twisting problems at all. It's smooth and soft and even a little stretchy.

Tai

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Introducing my newest stash addition... Tai, from Filatura di Crossa in the Tapestry colorway (color #59).

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Tai is a 55% cotton, 25% polyamide, 15% viscose blend. It doesn't look like much the way I've shown it in the picture above, and I have to admit, that if I'd just seen it in a store, all by itself, I probably would have looked at it (I'm a crow and it's a shiny yarn, after all) but I wouldn't have had a problem walking away from it since it retails for about $9 US a skein and I would have had no idea what to do with it and no idea how it knit up.

But that, of course, is the beauty of store models. Even seeing this pattern in the Filatura Spring/Summer 2003 book didn't sell me on the yarn. In fact, I passed right over the pattern. It was the store model at Ruhama's in Milwaukee that got my attention and made me want to do something with this yarn. In fact, if the stuff hadn't been $9 a skein in the store, I would have bought it right there and then, but I was already buying the Porto Cervo in Jeans for the Peasant Top and another $72 just didn't seem all that reasonable at the time.

So I put the Tai on my "if I find a good deal" list and started looking around eBay and other places. Nada. Nothing. Oh well, I figured, I've got lots of yarn and lots of projects.

And then Elann put the Tai Oddballs up for $4.95 US a skein -- for $45 I could now have the top (and a little back up yarn since the Filatura patterns don't seem to have the world's best yarn estimations) and not feel bad about the cost. Elann still has more of this lovely yarn, although the selection is slimming.

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The yarn arrived just in time for me to swatch it at my Thursday night kitting get-together, and I started the project in earnest last night on my Denise needles. (As an aside... conceptually I like the Denise needles a lot, but I am finding that since I am a pretty tight knitter, that the yarns I use have a tendency to snag just a little bit over the joining areas, so I haven't been able to use them for as many projects as I would like. I don't think I am going to give up buying AddiTurbos just yet, spring cord or not).

I got about 5" done last night while reading through the Knitting Bloggers ring. Tai knits up pretty well without having to have too much attentione paid to it. You do have to be a little carefuld, however, because of the thick and thin areas in the yarn, you end up with loops of different widths. It can be easy to lose a narrow loop next to a wide one.

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This yarn has a lovely soft metallic iridescence that I didn't notice until I started knitting with it. The picture above is a closeup of the larger knitted piece. It's simple stockinette. I love the way that the thick and thin areas seem to almost alternate so that you get a almost ribbing like texture from the fabric. This project is knit on size 10s, so it knits up fast. I'm hoping maybe I can finish the back this weekend...

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