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Slip Stitches in Different Wools
You're reading issue #52. At fifty-two issues I'm in the midst of a spiritual awakening to wool. I've crocheted with wool in the past but this is different. Slip stitch crochet brought it on. 
Yikes I've studied and slip stitched (and shopped...) so much since the last newsletter! 

I was going to just swatch a flat 6" square of each yarn type on a road trip. It's much more fun to use simple fingerless mitts as the swatches! 
Luckyslip Mitts: Slip Stitch Crochet in Several Wools
It's even more fun to stage a "yarn tasting" with them. I tell people that the mitts are made of different wool types & spinning & dyeing methods, and then watch how they experience them. The relationship of wool to our cultural history, childhood associations, and modern daily lives is fascinating. I've "gone sheepish," haven't I? (I'm currently reading Sheepish by Catherine Friend in the book stack below).

Pictured above is how I keet track of the wool types. Yarns with two plies went on one page, three plies on another page, and so forth. I used a protractor to compare the amount (angle) of the twist of each yarn. Finding a yarn for more than three sheep breeds wasn't as easy as I expected; finding Z-twisted (counterclockwise spun) wool yarns is working out. 

Here's the stack of wooly books I decided I simply must buy. Fun summer project, huh? The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook is an essential reference. I also benefitted greatly from Clara Parkes' books (top of the stack). Didn't expect to need books on dyeing until I discovered that dyeing methods play a big part in the relationship between slip stitches and wools, and I wanted to understand it better. This MadelineTosh Vintage mitt is what brought that on:

After crocheting with the endangered Leicester Longwool yarn (see brown mitt in right column) I understand why Clara Parkes wants people to go outside of a comfort zone habit with wool (which often means giving non-Merino wools a chance). The Leicester is fascinatingly unique to crochet with, yet bystanders were puzzled by how it felt.

A Few Observations So Far

Our visual impressions of wool (and other fibers) can be completely separate from our tactile experiences. After people sorted through all the mitts and tried them on, it was even better to ask them to close their eyes and try them on again. 

Generally, I like crocheting slip stitches with a z-twisted wool because my crocheting is easy and speedy. The stitch loops nest primly and have sort of a "sealed" or smooth compact surface. The pairs of stitch loops along a raised rib are not symmetrical, in a good way. Medium-Weight Examples: any single-ply yarn; my favorites are Crystal Palace Mochi Plus, Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, and the popular Malabrigo and Manos del Uruguay kettle-dyed merinos. Plied examples: ShiBui Merino Alpaca, Blue Sky Worsted Hand Dyes, Cascade Venezia, Good for Ewe Chord.

Generally if I crochet with an s-twisted yarn, I have the best luck with one that has a lot of twist and, often, a lot of plies. This gives slip stitches a cute pearly-plump look and the ribbing has a sweet springy bounce. Medium-Weight Examples: MadelineTosh Vintage, Shalimar Yarns Edie Aran, Karabella Aurora 8, Filatura Zara. 

I really wanted to experience effects of woolen, worsted, and mulespun processes on a wool yarn. So far, it seems to me that the woolen spun and mulespun examples are the least stretchy of a basic stretchy ribbed mitt. They feel a bit felted or fleecy and look more homey, casual, and practical. It's a different style.

An s-twisted wool with a relatively low amount of twist and 2 - 4 plies offers a relaxed cushiony feel, but the trade off for me is that often you can see the individual plies separate within a crochet stitch. With slip stitch ribbing, at worst it can give the impression that the hook size is too big (the stitches look sloppy and stringy). Not satisfying for a crocheter! I have to swatch each one, because sometimes the fibers will fill in the gaps in a beguiling way, such as Snow Leopard Trust's 100% Mongolian Camel yarn (no wool though, so it's outside of this wool test).

Each time a person tried on the ShiBui Merino Alpaca mitt, s/he fell silent for a moment, just taking it in. (Off-white, pictured at left.) The yarn is a dramatically different experience of wool. I love it - cool to the touch and luxe in a modern way.

So far, the crowd-pleasing mitt ends up being Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes after long debate (blue at right). It is plied very similarly to the ShiBui but looks and feels different!

If you have a summer road trip coming up and you're not the driver, I recommend a slip stitch project with a medium-weight wool. Or, collection of wools. You can be social, or focus on an audiobook, and still stitch along without [many] mistakes. When you stop somewhere to stretch your legs, I hope it'll be a spot filled with wild honeysuckle and a creek with some kind of rocks you've never seen before. I'll always remember stopping at Fancy Gap, VA, when I swatch a new-to-me wool. 

If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. (Click here to subscribe: ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks!      --Vashti

A Test of Wools
Luckyslip Mitts: A Test of Wools
Luckyslip Mitts (cuff end up) in more types of wool yarns than I thought possible.

Yarns Types Sampled: Medium-weight sheep wools ranging from a single ply to TWENTY plies! (ShiBui Merino Alpaca, and Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes each have 20 plies). 

Below: A Columbia sheep wool that's z-twisted with only two plies.
Imperial Ranch Columbia, two plies z-twisted
S-Twist or Z? Aside from the single plies, I found a very few Z-twist (counterclockwise spun) wool yarns. The two named above are (interestingly), plus the Imperial Ranch Columbia pictured above. (I found a few more too late for this test: Koigu Kersti (DK), Good for Ewe Chord.)
Sheep breeds tested: Leicester Longwool (pictured above, undyed), Columbia, and of course the ubiquitous Merino. A few were blended with alpaca. (Too late to test, I also got my hands on some Corriedale, and Lincoln/Shetland.)

See this photo set for close ups and comments on each slip stitched yarn.

DesigningVashti News
Basic Luckyslip Mitt: Slip Stitch Crochet Class Project
Luckyslip Mitt with Lucky Stripes: 100% Slip Stitch CrochetNew pattern in the shop! Luckyslip Mitts: Slip Stitch Crochet Class Project. This pattern includes notes & tips from my Introduction to Slip Stitch Crochet classes, so if you're unable to take the one I'll be teaching in Charlotte NC 10/5/13 at the Knit and Crochet Show, this pattern is a good substitute for some of the class material. Pattern:

Introduction to Slip Stitch Crochet class description and registration
Fish Lips Shrug caught in Columbus OH
New pattern announced in the last issue: Fish Lips Scarf-to-Shrug. That's me wearing it for the first time last month at TNNA (yarn industry trade show).
and in Ravelry,

I've begun adding swatches from past years to a photo set for Slip Stitch Crochet: Shapes and Special Effects (my other upcoming slip stitch crochet class). See a sample of them here. They're arranged by shaping method. I'll be adding more later.
This method is so invisible that I left in the two marking threads.
FORUM NEWS: Slip Swoop Loop Crochet-Along, it's not too late to join in! It includes the free Slip Slope Scarf too. It's exciting to see how everyone's Loops are Swooping. Go join right now, you’ll be well taken care of by cleverbritches and coffeedog

Links I Enjoyed This Week
Natural Stitches Newsletter! This issue features a review of rare breed wool yarns from local Ross Farm, and an interview with the farm owner. I loved visiting Natural Stitches yarn shop the one day I was in Pittsburgh, at the recommendation of Robyn Chachula Like Crochet Inspirations Newsletter #52: Slip Stitches, Wool Breeds, & Plying on Facebook

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Subscribe to this newsletter. Vashti Braha is a professional crochet designer & teacher who resides in Florida (USA). She writes 100% of each issue and emails it to subscribers
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