Yarn Nostalgia

People wax nostalgic over all sorts of things. For some, it’s the scent of Dreft. For me, it’s Plymouth Encore Worsted.

Plymouth Encore collection

I realize that sounds odd. Particularly odd coming from me. These days, I haunt fiber festivals, and my yarn purchases often bear a photo of the animal from whence came the yarn, and I’ve often learned way more biographical information about the people who produced the fiber than I know about some of my own relatives.

Once upon a time, though, I was a new mom with a new career and a new hobby. My time budget was scant and my yarn budget even more so. Back then, Plymouth Encore was my go-to yarn. I knit up countless sweaters and baby blankets for my own small boys and friends’ and relatives’ kids, too.

When I was a new knitter, I didn’t want to fret over the expense of yarn.   Nor did I have time to handwash and block my work. I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with gauge surprises, splitty or slippery yarn, or any other issues that can plague more persnickety fibers. Plymouth Encore was, if nothing else, predictable and inexpensive.

Not long ago, when I was re-organizing my stash, I came across my collection of Plymouth Encore, slammed to the back layers of my stash cabinets. I’d dutifully carted the yarn with me from move to move over the years, although it’s been at least a decade since I’ve touched it.   I set the yarn out with the rest of my stash and considered what to do. My philosophy is that toys should be played with, books should be read, food should be eaten, and yarn should be knit. If I’m not going to any of those things with my belongings, then they should go off to someone who will. I put the yarn in my donate pile.

Then, I reconsidered. I had lots of fond memories of knitting up that yarn. There were the bright blues, reds, and greens from a sweater I’d knitted for my younger son.


That was back when he’d wear the bright colors that look so good on him. These days, the teenager prefers to wear urban camouflage colors of grey and black.

And there? There was a denim blue from a sweater I’d knitted my older son — my first attempt at a V-neck. Over there? The pink from an afghan for my goddaughter who’s now a teenager.

I really didn’t want to get rid of the yarn, but if I was going to keep it, I was going to knit it. My stash isn’t a yarn museum, after all.

Hmm. A skein of this, a skein of that — the Plymouth Encore stash could be repurposed as easy-care accessories for nieces, nephews — heck, anyone who wanted wash-and-wear knitted things. I decided that I’d throw Plymouth Encore projects into my rotation and knit up these skeins to get them out of the dark recesses of my cabinets and onto the heads, necks, and hands of people who would enjoy them.

The first project out of the chute: This fun Norwegian Star Cap , which will go to my toddler nephew.

Norwegian Blue finished

I cast this on, remembering how the last time I held this yarn, I was knitting my son’s blue V-neck sweater, and how both cables and stripes were new and somewhat scary to me. And here I was, years later, knitting from a chart with yarn in each hand like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Before I knew it, I had a colorful cap all ready for another little boy to enjoy.

Then, about as soon as I’d woven in the last stray yarn on the blue hat, I cast on for a red one.

Norwegian Red started

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Holiday Compatible Knitting

No, I’m not going to write about holiday-rushed knitting. That post may yet come, but not quite yet. Rather, I’m thinking about knitting projects that are compatible with the holidays. Specifically, holiday visits.

I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year, which means my in-laws are flying in tonight and my parent and kids will join us for the festivities. We’ve got several days’ worth of fun activities planned, and I can count on having at least some time to knit, particularly when everyone’s recovering from food comas and we’re watching football. So, never mind what’s to eat. What’s to knit? I rifled through my knitting basket and surveyed my options.

Well, there’s Meteliza.

Meteliza progress

Meteliza isn’t terribly difficult, as far as Orenburg lace goes, but I do have to follow a chart. Chart-following can be difficult if I’m trying to do that and have a two-way conversation about Great Aunt Whatshername’s various ailments. So, Meteliza is fine to have on hand when things are quiet, but it’s not completely holiday compatible.

Then, there’s the Norwegian star hat.

Star Hat progress

Like Meteliza, it has a chart. Not a hard chart, but a chart nonetheless. Plus, I’m about ready to do the crown decreases, so this is going to be off the needles pretty soon. It’s fine for football-watching, but if a conversation becomes too involved, I’ve got to put this one down.

And then there’s the sock:

Nob Hill progress

A nice plain vanilla sock, this is holiday compatible, for sure, right up until I have to turn the heel. At that point, I’ll need more football, less conversation.

So, with those projects all in varying degrees of holiday incompatibility, I decided to cast on a super-simple shawl:

Twizzle Weigh It started

This is Susan B. Anderson’s Yowza Weigh-it Shawl pattern, only I’m knitting it up in Mountain Colors Twizzle in Thunderstorm rather than the yarn called for in the pattern. Ridiculously simple, plus it’s fun yarn. I can knit on this when I get to the heel-turning part of my sock, and never miss a beat about Great Aunt Whatshername.

With that problem solved, I turned my attention to another knitting dilemma: what to knit during an upcoming weekend car trip. I can start with the Norwegian star hat, but it’ll probably be finished when we’re 100 miles from the nearest yarn store. I need something else. Meteliza is a little fiddly for car knitting. And although socks tend to be everyone else’s favorite travel project, I tend to drop DPNs, so I keep sock projects tucked away when I’m in cars or airplanes. Instead, I decided to cast on Pretty Thing in some alpaca I’ve been anxious to get on the needles:

Alpaca PT started

This will be my third Pretty Thing, and the first one I’ve knit that’s for me. It’s a fairly simple pattern that I can knit on car-compatible circulars.

And with all that resolved, I can cook and bake tomorrow, knowing that I’ve got some good knitting projects on the needles that won’t interfere with our conversations.

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Super Freaky-Fast Super Bulky

I’m staring down the toothy maw of the holidays, and I’m starting to panic, but just a little. This weekend was to be a quiet time in which I could do some prep work for Thanksgiving and even Christmas, because the guys were supposed to go camping with the Scouts. The campout was cancelled due to extreme cold, so instead of having me a nice, quiet prep weekend, I ended up with quite the opposite when my husband decided to invite over several dozen people from Scouts for a party — sort of a consolation for not going camping. While the result was fun, I’ve gotten no prep done and now I have exactly one weekend betwixt me and Thanksgiving, and about all the time from Thanksgiving through New Year’s is spoken for.

All of which makes it even more crazy that I decided to cast on yet another project in the midst of all the pre-holiday rush. Last year, I made this super-bulky weight shawl from Imperial Yarn Native Twist in Teal. It’s casual and blankety, just like I wanted.

Easy Teal Shawl 2

I ended up with almost an entire skein of yarn left over. I debated making matching mitts, which is my favorite thing to do with yarn left over from shawl-making, but tabled the idea, because by the time I’d gotten around to it, spring was getting on and the last thing I wanted to do was to hold heavy, wool yarn in my hands as the weather warmed.

Fast-forward to now, and with an arctic cold front bearing down on us, keeping high temperatures in the single digits (Fahrenheit, so I’m being serious here), I decided that a quickie, warm project was in order.  In three knitting sessions, I had me a pair of mitts:

Bulky Teal Mitts


The pattern is Leftover Mitts.


They were on and off the needles before I even knew it, and now I have mitts to go with my shawl:

Mitts and Scarf

I don’t use super-bulky yarn that often, and this project made me question that practice.  I should probably keep a few skeins of super-bulky around for those times when I need an instant-gratification project for personal sanity or for a last-minute gift.

Ordinarily, I’d cast on another project to celebrate, keeping with my on-the-needles, off-the-needles rhythm. But these aren’t ordinary times. I really want to finish Chris’s sweater by Christmas, and the only way I’m going to eke out the knitter-hours between now and then is to knuckle down and knit that last sleeve. There’ll be plenty of time to give into startitis beginning on December 26th.



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