Sunday, April 14, 2013

Soapbox knitting: Vegetable Matters

I hope your April is going well! Veggie season is coming, and today I'm talking all about Vegetable Matter(s)!

Quinoa, Beet, & Arugula Salad

I'm so proud of myself; this weekend I cooked beets for the first time, and then used them in this Quinoa, Beet, and Arugula salad. It's pretty good, and I am amazed at the ease of cooking beets. I vaguely remember being turned off to beets at a young age, partly after reading some story in class about a giant beet on a boat that had to be as large as a child... I could be way off on the details, but I think the phonetics indicate that I was at least right about the beet and the boat being elements in the gripping plot. Whatever the story, I am over my youthful aversion to beets. I think I've even been craving them.

I realized I never showed you my latest socks all finished, though you've already had a nice look at them.  

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The pattern: Sprouting by Beata Jezek of Hedgehog Fibres (haha, even the pattern sounds vegetable-y)
The yarn: Nate's Sock Yarn by Briar Rose Fibers

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These are a bit thicker than normal sock yarn, which is how I managed to knit the pattern without having to modify it for my size. Thankfully, we've had enough chilly days that I've been able to get decent use out of them.

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From my project page notes:
This is a happy combination of yarn and needles and pattern; it moves surprisingly quickly and easily, and the yarn is both beautiful to the eye and the finger. I love the spongy sheepiness of the yarn enough that the frequent pause to pull out a prickle of VM is less a nuisance and more of a vehicle to transport me to some idyllic notion of life on the farm. I’d use it again in a heartbeat.

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I had a thoughtful conversation with the lovely woman who dyes Nate's Sock Yarn when she expressed regret over the veggie matter being a detriment to this otherwise lovely yarn. Lest I be misunderstood, let me reiterate that I think the finer qualities of this yarn far outweigh the occasional need to pause from my knitting. This particular wool is so very reminiscent of the place from which it came - in the best way - and in my opinion it makes a bit of VM a trivial issue.  Actually, speaking of my opinion, I pooh-pooh the mindset that says every yarn must have every fiber in place and must look sleek and feel like cashmere. Part of the reason I love knitting is that it seems to connect me to a simpler and more human way of life; I defy the obsession to have everything so perfect that the only memory it evokes is that of a factory. Can you tell I'm not a city boy? I love an especially sheepy yarn, and I think that is why I love spinning, too.  (I'll have to update on that soon...the deadline approaches, and despite appearances I have been working on my MDSW Challenge.)

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I'm not overly concerned with getting everything perfect.
I'm even willing to experiment on the second sock.
Which do you prefer: with the purl ridge or without?

I add to my defense of this yarn that I have been working with a couple more VM yarns since finishing the socks, and those make Nate's Sock Yarn look like a walk in the park. Both yarns are actually being used for my adaptation of the Easy As Pie blanket:

Easy As Pie
A gold star for you if you can tell which square has been washed.
Of course, the Noro Kureyon is easily recognizable. The VM in this yarn is much harder to remove, as it is usually hidden in a tuft of rather softly-spun wool; it seems to cause more damage to the yarn than is the case with Nate's Sock Yarn. I still weed it out, but it puts up a fight.

The second yarn is a flax and wool blend, and I can see why it is discontinued. The 10% flax content seems rather like 10% veggie matter, in the bad sense -- the sense that makes me want to pull it out of the yarn until I realize that I'd be fighting a losing battle. (On a different note, I have observed that the flax/wool blend takes longer to dry than the 100% wool of the Noro.)

In conclusion, Nate's Sock Yarn is a delicious knitting experience, and the VM is not all that bad; it's the kind that you can remove without being slowed down much. Chris does a wonderful job dyeing it, and I'm sad that I only get to see it in person at Rhinebeck.  On second thought, maybe my wallet thanks me; her yarn is so beautiful that it's hard to buy anything less than a sweater's quantity. That's where this unique sock yarn comes in handy; it's a way to revel in the joy that is Briar Rose Fibers even when I may not have enough money available for a sweater. The yardage is awesome. And it's one you need to feel to believe.


  1. 1. I want your socks. I may have to make myself a pair using the same yarn, courtesy of you. (My first attempt was too large and I had to rip out.)

    2. I fully agree with you regarding VM. Hell, I want my yarn to still smell like a sheep when I get it.

  2. Briar Rose is awesome, and I love her color palette. I'm lucky I get to see her at several shows a year in the Ohio/Indiana area. I have a skein of Nate's sock yarn waiting to determine what it wants to be. Not socks for me because I'm too lazy to handwash socks. Maybe a nice scarf. I also have two skeins of Fourth of July waiting to decide what they want to be.