Working With Beautiful Yarn

DSC00393Look – an Ishbel that I finished over the weekend. I am in love. Between working with this yarn (more on that in a minute) and looking over today’s list of yarns going up, and knowing what we have coming up in the near future, I realized something. It is important to me to work with beautiful yarn. So I came up with my own personal yarn rules.

1. I want it to feel good on my hands, since I’ll be spending hours and hours working with it.
2. I want it to look good when the project is finished and blocked and ready to wear … and long after that.
3. I want to be happy that I spent the time and money on the whole thing.

Pretty simple rules. It helps me to make better yarn-buying decisions for my own personal stash. For the first rule, that means I know that I like the feel of soft merino, alpaca, cashmere, soft cotton, and silk. (Not all together – just in differing combinations and in different bases.) I don’t like things that feel rough or squeaky in my hands. For the second rule, I know that it means that I want to buy quality yarn, from quality dyers. I have added other yarn into my personal stash over the past years that was not necessarily a good quality, and not necessarily well-dyed, and those went into my give-away pile. (Some were samples to see if we wanted to carry them here at the shop, some were “too good to pass up” sale items, and others were just …. a lapse of judgement, I guess!) For the third rule – well, that automatically works out if I followed rules one and two.

ishbelBack to the Ishbel shawl. This skein of yarn fit all of my rules. Julie (of Juliespins) sent me a sample of this yarn to test out. You just have to know, I’m not a yellow person. It’s not that I don’t like yellow, really. There are a lot of great yellows out there. In fact, I still have a pair of in-progress yellow socks, started during a time of too many cloudy days in a row. But I very seldom see a yellow in yarn that I “have” to knit. Other colors always catch my eye first. This skein of silk/merino from Julie was one that really grabbed me. It was a combination of the color and the silky sheen and the luxurious feel. I just knew I needed to sit down and make something out of it. (And when the big batch of it arrived last week for the shop, I grabbed a different color. Love the base.) I think I needed a bright yellow shawl/scarf to wear in the middle of winter, right?

This is what I mean about wanting to work with beautiful yarn. Every time I sat down to work on this project, the yarn made it that much more fun. And in addition to using these kinds of beautiful yarns myself, I love sharing them with you! So here are some of the beautiful things that we have for you tonight:

Juliespins Silky 435 – 16 colors of this same fingering weight yarn base that captured my attention during my Ishbel knitting. And you already know what an amazing job Julie does on her dyework.

Fiesta’s Gracie’s Lace – another one that falls into the “beautiful to work with” category, because this laceweight yarn is a mixture of merino, cashmere and silk. And at 950 yds. per skin, there is plenty to work with.

The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga and Skinny Bugga – the merino/cashmere/nylon yarn bases that we have all become addicted to. Just as wonderful for socks as it is for shawls and cowls and scarves and sweaters.

HiyaHiya – more Puppy Snips (yet again!) and a big re-stock on needles.

So you’ve read my three yarn-buying rules. Do you have any others that you go by?

Sheri itwas85degreestodayandfeltspositivelydelightful


  1. So agree with the rule. I have always felt that if it feels good when you touch it, it will be a pleasure to knit with. I’ve stayed clear of the cheaper yarns as I don’t feel its worth my time to knit and then have it look bad.

    I love the color of the shawl andI might have to try that pattern,although I’ve never done lace knitting, so it would be quite a challenge for me.

  2. After touching, smelling, and rubbing a yarn, I always take a second to envision it as a finished project for myself or another person. If I can’t, no matter how much I love the yarn, I pass it up.

  3. Sheri – I so love all of the updates this week and so wish I had the time to knit it all (and the money to buy what I want). You and the rest of the Loopies have been a great respite for me, I look forward to each and every post, update, blog and offering. Children off to college are taking my time (and knitting projects!!). Hopefully soon, I will have made room in my schedule and space for more of your offerings! Best to all of you! Thanks again.


  4. Thanks for sharing your rules…I think I will have to use them this weekend at Stitches. Maybe it will help curb my buying 😉

  5. Hi! Sheri,
    I agree with your yarn rules! Your Ishbel looks great! I still need to knit one and will have to check the stash for a suitable yarn.

    I wish the DC metro area would cool off a little.

  6. Although I have only been knitting for months, I will only buy yarn that I know is soft, and smooshy and makes you want to stroke it against your cheek!

    I have been drawn to yarns by their color, but the minute I touch them, if they feel rough or scratchy I just won’t buy them.

    I consider myself lucky to have this trait and love the Juliespins Silky, it’s already been added to my wishlist!! Oh and in yellow too, because I have NO yarn in yellow but have fallen in love with Butter and Eggs, it’s so cheerful and pretty, I have to have some of that!


  7. I love the whole process, I match my needles to the yarn, stitch markers, and even my knitting bag, when I knit I love the feel of the yarn on the needle, also the sound of my wood needles making that kinda clicking sound. I even go location knitting , where I go , find a lovely spot and knit there with snacks and drink., for me its all about the sensory feel. I’m not a fabulous knitter but I am a happy one!!

  8. My rules are very similar. After I inventoried my stash on Ravelry (yikes, it was bigger than I realized!), I vowed there would be no more single skeins for scarves and any other purchase had to be for a specific pattern. I also recently donated a boxful of early purchases…

  9. I just went through my stash list on Ravelry and put the Ishbel in my queue and plan to the use the Velvet Port in Starry that I bought recently from you.

  10. Probably the only additional rule I’d add is that the yarn has to be a color that sings to me, especially if it’s a gift for someone. Butter and eggs is singing loudly. 🙂

  11. My main rule lately is “Do I really need it or want it??” I have been being very good lately. I think about buying a yarn and then I think I need to knit 3 or 4 more skeins before I will let myself buy any. I am also more interested lately in knitting with my handspun so that might help a little. I do love the Butter and Eggs and am pondering it.

  12. I like your rules and agree they are good to follow, but I will add that most yarns I get tend to have yellow or some yellow in them, not all yarns but quite a few. I also will admit that I have been suckered into buying a yarn because it was on sale and too good to pass up and then I later regret the purchase. When it says 50% off I have sucker written all over my forehead. I am trying to be better but you know how it gets.

    Beautiful yellow shawl, by the way. You should finish those yellow socks so they will be ready for those dark, dreary days in STL, you know they are coming.

  13. I agree with “the rules” that you listed. One more that I have is to listen to the yarn. Sometimes I’ll start a project that I think will be a perfect match between pattern and yarn, but the yarn rebels–perhaps the gauge is way off, or the is skewed, or other sorts of problems creep up. Then it’s just best to tear it all out and look for something else. Other times a yarn will tell me what it wants to be. In the very first Loopy Ewe order that I placed exactly four years ago–Aug. 15, 2008, there was a skein of Schaefer Anne in the colorway Apple Orchard –I received it, always remembered that I had it, but never used it. Then a group I knit with decided to try the Annetrelac socks from Interweave knits and I knew right away what yarn I needed to use. That would have been last winter! So my extra rule would be Listen to the yarn!

  14. Okay, the order was indeed August 15, 2006! Not 2008—I can remember what yarn I have, but can’t type worth beans!

  15. I love your rules. In the past year or so I have tried to buy only yarns with either silk, alpaca or cashmere in them because I love those fibers the best and whatever I knit with them becomes a favorite of mine or the lucky giftee. Some yarns can be bought without a project in mind but if I’m considering buying a quantity (sweatersworth) then I have to have a vision and a pattern in mind before commiting to the big purchase. Whenever I forget that rule I end up with not enough yarn for project. So most of my stash is 400-600 yds of sock, fingering or DK wt. I do have a few larger quantities matched up with patterns.

  16. Those yarn rules are tried and true. Every time I wonder why a project has been dropped in favour of casting on something new, it’s because the yarn isn’t thrilling me. I have one additional personal rule, and it’s one that I regret every time I break it: Don’t ever buy just one skein of yarn. Inevitably, when I only buy one “for socks”, I change my mind about what I want to use it for, and then don’t have enough of it. That Fleece Artist merino 2/6 you restocked a couple of weeks ago? I ordered one skein in Seashore. When it arrived, I decided it was perfect for a shawl. Luckily, I was able to order more, but once again I am kicking myself for breaking “the rule”!

  17. I have some current sock yarn buying rules:
    0. No sock yarn.
    1. Okay, NO VARIEGATED sock yarn.
    2. You have to have it. Now. To cast on now.
    3. It must be a solid color. Or you can go shop your stash, missie.

  18. Don’t knit for anyone who won’t appreciate it. Don’t take requests unless they are reasonable.

    Other than that, I think our lists are the same.

  19. My rule: to buy from a shop I love. That is part of the “experience of yarn.” We have only one remaining yarn shop in town and I really don’t like anything about it, but I love The Loopy Ewe. That makes impulse buying a little less of a problem, too. Now I’m off to check out Butter and Eggs!

  20. I’m afraid my newest rule is that I have to have a project in mind. This is hard to stick to so recently I have started buying kits… so that the project is already picked out…

    My stash knitting isn’t even helping me out of this rule…. oh well I am almost done with my Q3 challenge so exceptions may have to be made so that I can try new yarns!

  21. My rule is that I don’t like splitty yarn. If I use a yarn and it’s splitty, I will not use it again. Consequently, I like to try out many different yarns to see how they knit up.

  22. I always consider:
    1. do I have more like it at home already? and if I do, have I already knit with it?

    I found that I was buying the same things over and over based upon the suspicion that I would like it, and not on the fact that I did like it. I’m making myself knit up what I’ve got to narrow down what I like best of all.


    2. is this a color I love now and will love always? or is it just a passing fancy?

  23. Your three rules are mine, too! I have to love the yarn to work with it.

    I love your Ishbel scarf. I’d like to make one, too, but the bottom (lacy) part looks a bit daunting to me. How difficult would you rate this? Any advice would be welcome!

  24. Love your Ishbel shawl! Haven’t tried it yet…..want to! Is it difficult, since I haven’t done much lace? The beautiful yellow will brighten those – sometimes – long gray days of winter!

    Your knitting rules are good ones. I also add, only give to people who will appreciate the time and effort and love you put into each piece. Or at least, they are the only ones who will get repeat knitted gifts!! 🙂

  25. My first rule is to buy the highest quality yarn you can. Most local yarn shops will store yarn for you so you can match a dye lot as you work on a project, so you don’t have to buy the yarn all at once. This item will be with you a long time, so if it pills or falls apart really quickly you will be upset with both yourself and the yarn. Who needs that?

    My second rule is if you are thinking you might want to buy a yarn, try to buy it in a sweater lot. There are so many more things you can do if you buy 1000yds than if you buy a single skein (most sock yarns withstanding). I have a couple of single skeins that are truly lovely, but I have never gotten around to making a project with them. My eyes have been set on full size garments for a while rather than accessories.

  26. I have always spent money on good yarn. If my time means anything you want it to last and waer well so you need to start with good stuff!!! I also don’t like working on dark colors-eye problems!!!
    Also I was so happy with prize yarn from Camp Loopy but was suprised that the pattern sent didn’t match up with the yarn!!!! Would have been nice to have new pattern to use it with!!!!!

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