What would you do with 360 yards of vintage French angora?

vintage box of french angora yarn

Last week, a woman I know handed me a box of yarn and asked me if I had any suggestions about what she should make with it. I know I say this a lot, but: I died. Her grandmother owned a general store in the ’50s and ’60s, and this was one of the things Nina inherited from her. (That’s Nina with a long I.) Everything about it killed me. The 8 tiny balls of yarn, still neatly nestled into the compartments of this little lidded box. The vintage label on the end, declaring it 100% French angora. And, omigod, the sale tags still poked into each ball: 57¢. There was a handwritten price on the end of the box, presumably for if you wanted the whole thing. It was either 98¢ or 89¢. Either way: speechless. Don’t let the terrible nighttime cell-phone pics fool you — this is beautiful yarn. Pitch black, weightless and unimaginably soft.

Comparing yardage for currently available 100% angoras (still sold in 10g balls), and guessing it’s DK or worsted weight, it looks like it’s probably about 45 yards per ball, so a total of 360 yards. Nina commented on how unwearably warm angora can be, but it’s really only enough for an accessory anyway. All I can think is I would want it around my neck. My first thought was that simple garter-stitch kerchief I made for my mother last year, but it’d be lovely to do a small version of something like Orlane’s Textured Shawl Recipe, if the texture wouldn’t be obliterated by the fuzziness? To Nina’s point, something with some openness in the stitch pattern could be wise. I’d love to see the Lacy Baktus done in black angora. (Mine used about 400 yards, but it could be knitted to any size and yardage.) Or I also thought of Elis, which has been on my to-knit list for a long time.

But I would really love to know: What would you do with it, if this little box of gold was yours?


Re ICYMI: Having been thinking a lot about Tunisian Crochet lately, and how much I miss it, I was thrilled to see the Purl Bee post a Tunisian pattern this weekend. So my pick for ICYMI this week is my funny little Craft club coasters, which happen to have been inspired by a couple of Purl/Hoverson knitting patterns. More Tunisian, world!

Craft club, take two

tunisian crochet coasters

It’s been two months since the beaded ring debacle, and tonight we’re giving this craft club idea another try. I’ve volunteered to teach the group Tunisian crochet.

It’s important for everyone to leave with a finished thing, so I’ve been trying to boil it down to something fast and easy that isn’t dreadfully boring. Over a few evenings last week, inspired in part by this and this, I worked up these little coasters, deploying different combinations of simple stitch and purl stitch, as well as playing around with stripes and the 3-color technique. They could be blocked much more effectively — I just gave them a quick steam bath — but they’re kind of charming, right?

I hope so.

tunisian crochet coasters

Close, but no cigar

So that idea I mentioned — well, hm, I’ll let the photos tell the story. The yarns available for purchase weren’t an exact match for the ones in my head, of course. I wanted each individual yarn to be more mottled, to form a fabric that would be more murky than striped. Plus neither of the blues is right.

As usual, I’m not giving up on the idea, but this swatch got frogged and the yarn all stashed for now.

I spent all my so-called creative time this weekend winding and rewinding yarn — the five involved in this misfire, as well as a few WIPs and other swatches I frogged. Urgh.

So inspired by Gretchen Jones

gretchen jones fall spring collections

For the first time since I was about 12, and to my great chagrin, I’m behind on the runway collections. But yesterday I got sucked into Gretchen Jones’ Tumblr and I am wildly inspired by her Fall and Spring presentations — her fabrics and knitwear and trademark jewelry, all melded into something really seductive. I’ve been working on a funny little project this week, which I’ll tell you more about soon, that’s led to the presence of this fuzzy, half-formed notion of something bigger in the back of my brain. And when I saw that top left photo the idea snapped into focus. I’ll be tackling it this weekend and hoping and praying that I can make a 3D version that’s even half as cool as what’s in my head. May the muse be with me.

Sticks vs. hooks

knitting needles vs crochet hooks

I seem to be forming a little addiction to the crochet hook. As much as I love knitting, there’s something about that motion of hooking the yarn and sliding it through a loop. Hook and slide, hook and slide, hook and slide. I don’t know if it’s more therapeutic than knitting, particularly, or if it’s to do with the deep-down memory of all those hours spent crocheting as a kid. But man, I love it. Fortunately, I don’t actually have to choose.


When life gives you lemons

This didn’t go quite like I planned. Which is sort of the nature of winging it. When I showed you the in-progress version of what was supposed to be my Tunisian crochet capelet, I’d finished the Tunisian portion and was planning to add a wide band of ribbing around the bottom, inspired by the image on the bottom right in that inspiration roundup. It was going to be dreamy. But then I had to do a bit of guessing about how many stitches to pick up (what with all the variables involved) and picked up too many. Once I had knit a few inches, I transferred it all onto waste yarn so I could see what I had, and the too-wide ribbing was looking more like a ruffle, making the whole thing look like a particularly awful poncho. But I’d noticed all along that it makes a great mega-cowl. So I bound off — and honestly, I love it like this. With this Asana Bulky, the fabric is fairly thin and drapey but incredibly warm, and I love the proportions.

Of course, I’ll be trying the original idea again …