Meet the Yarn: Nebula

Hi! Me again.  This time I'm jumping on here to talk about Nebula.  I love talking about yarn in terms of fiber, twist & ply, and what type of project is suitable in each yarn.  That is how I look at every yarn that passes through my studio and fingers.  There is the visual aspect, which is what makes you reach out to grab, touch, feel, consume, a yarn.  The visual is a result of the intrinsic loveliness of the fibers, and sometimes it is the result of the color, sometimes it is the result of the twist and ply, and sometimes, it is the result of some other specialness.

Let us talk specialness of fiber. The specialness in this case is stellina, a flat, shiny, metallic looking nylon filament fiber. Stellina is clear or nearly clear, and very flat.  As it twists and turns, the light shines off it, adding a subtle sparkle. Think paper flat and thinner than you can imagine, but soft.  This filament adds a visual element to the yarn, while also adding some of the properties of nylon.  Nebula is 84% super wash merino, 3-ply.  Each ply appears to have a filament of stellina spun in, but the filament is cut into long staple lengths to work with the merino.  Stellina brings specialness.

Nylon (polyamide) has properties that can add to the overall yarn:  

  • exceptional strength, 
  • elastic, 
  • abrasion resistant, 
  • lustrous, 
  • resistant to damage from oils and chemicals, 
  • resilient, 
  • low moisture absorbency.  

Before we get off the specialness aspect of this yarn, let’s take a look at what Nebulas are.  In one description I found they are called the nursery of the Universe.  A nebula is a giant cloud of dust and gas. Giant, as in light years across, nebulae are fuzzy in appearance—like a fluffy bit of wool in the sky, surrounded by sparkly sky things (planets and stars).  

Anzula's Nebula is made of super wash merino and stellina and is colorful and a bit shiny.  But shiny in a subtle and elegant way. Get an idea of all the yarn loveliness by looking at a universe of colors!  

Nylon is so perfect for a sock yarn.  I am not a sock knitter, so I have to find other ways to enjoy sock yarns.  Shawls, tops, scarves, and wraps are all perfect projects for sock yarn—especially sock yarn with a sparkle!  So think outside your sock box and explore what else you can do with sock yarn.  Go to Ravelry and see the nearly 1100 projects done in Nebula if you need ideas!

I have done my usual observational swatch.  I used US size 3(3.25mm) Addi lace needles.  You could knit it on a smaller needle, but I don’t want this to be like a sock.  I think you could go up to a US size 6(4mm) or 7(4.5mm) needle for lace.  Always check your gauge.  I am a loose knitter, so you may need to go up a size or two to get the same result.

I currently have two projects I’m doing samples of in this yarn.  One is Ashland, which can be knit as either a small collar or a larger shawlette.  I love to knit this pattern, but these samples were knit by a knitter with a slightly firmer touch on the collar, and looser with more stitches it is a little lighter, in the larger piece.  I love the colors together [Hyacinth and Avocado], and I am not sure I will ever wear them except layered that way.  Finding the right buttons could be a challenge! 

The other project is in process and I don’t have photos of the sample yet.  It is a lace sleeveless top called Silver Valley.  I do have swatches, at two different gauges.  Both fabrics are lovely, but I wanted a particular fabric.  This stitch pattern is a 12-stich pattern using decreases and eyelets called Razor stitch.  The pattern also uses a 6-stitch Razor for the yoke.  I think it showcases the yarn perfectly.  This color is sweet, but i chose a bolder color, Riot, for the sample.  Too much sweet doesn’t appeal to me.

Nebula in Riot and Avocado

Have you seen My Swatch Challenge? You can join any time, but there is still time to get in at the beginning.  Each month I post a blog on my website to coincide with this post, that gives you instructions for a stitch pattern that I’ve used to do my swatch. These are related to patterns in my pattern collection.  The Swatch Challenge post discusses Belon in Milky Way (swatch drawing on August 15), and contains the stitch pattern for the Oyster Shell .  The next Swatch Challenge post is for Latin Quarter in Breeze (swatch drawing on September 15), and has the stitch pattern Tilting Ladder.  Next up is be the post for Silver Valley in Nebula (swatch drawing on October 15), with the stitch pattern the 12-stitch Razor.  All these posts have a link to Action Charts.

When Stashes Tell Stories

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Do you know what's happening in this photo? Sure, it looks like a toddler who is about to start a Mandy Moore film fest, but I can assure you there's a lot more happening here. It's enough to cause your stomach to drop. 

My daughter has figured out how to open the drawers in the hallway. More specifically, she's fixated on the DVD drawer and will do everything in her power to be near it. This drawer is only one down from my *gasp* yarn stash!

Let that sink in—all of my precious pretties, one drawer handle away from the most destructive force known to mankind. This, of course, got me thinking about stashes. They're such a personal thing to us fiber fiends. If my husband were to ask me to make some closet space by getting rid of half of my wardrobe I wouldn't be bummed. However, if he even hinted that I should maybe pare down my yarn stash to the essentials, I would smack him with divorce papers faster than you could say paralegal. (I think he knows this and has never once even mentioned my stash. We just don't talk about it.)

We live pretty simply, but even if I did have a thing for non-Target-brand shoes or electronics, I could most likely still say with confidence that my yarn stash is the most expensive thing in my entire house. I will put off buying more dryer sheets for weeks because I don't want to spend the $5 and endure the static cling, but I have no problem laying down $30-$40 for a skein that feels amazing in my hands or catches my eye from across the LYS, even without a pattern in mind.

And beyond pure monetary value, each skein in my stash has a memory attached or tells a story. I know where I was and what was happening in my life with every single one of them. I'd be willing to bet that you know exactly what I'm talking about. 

Here are a few of the stories my stash tells.

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The first thing you can tell about my stash is that I start out with the best intentions when it comes to organizing my life, but then it all goes to heck. 

While the girl-hurricane was napping I pulled everything out and created a set to take photos of my yarn. This meant I had a massive pile of yarn in the hallway. I'm panicking thinking about what a close call it could have been had she woken up halfway through the project. We'll call it a project, it seems less weird to take photos of yarn while mumbling creepy things like "yeah, that's reaaaallllll nice" when you can call it art.

I bought this fancy lady from the Yarnover Truck when they visited Fresno earlier this year. My only mission was to buy something in the Minty Unicorn colorway, one that was developed exclusively for Yarnover. Two years before this colorway was named, Chiva and I were working in the yarn reskeining room and for whatever reason I couldn't remember the name of the Country Green colorway, so when I asked her if we were through with the lot of that particular yarn, instead of saying "Hey, we done with Country Green?" it came out "Did we finish with the Minty Unicorn?" The name, apparently, lived on. I was pretty happy to find it in Nebula, which has become my favorite line of Anzula yarn for obvious, sparkly reasons.

This skein of Black Cherry Baah! holds a special place in my ego because I received it as payment for some modeling I did for a friend who also owned a LYS. This skein right here, aside from being a lovely color, is proof that I'm a professional model. So take that, Kate Moss!

So these three skeins of Tosh Chunky were purchased on the same trip to San Francisco as the purchase of my wedding dress. I can also report that the amount I spent at that yarn shop was about the same I spent on my wedding dress.

I didn't know this about myself until I went through my stash just now, but I really love combos of browns and mint greens, apparently. (Look at that gray-brown, bottom row, center. That one is Squishy in Sexy. I'm calling your attention to it because THE COLORWAY IS CALLED SEXY. SEXY, folks! How could I not have it at that point?!)

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When you spend any amount of time working for a company like Anzula who, even when I wasn't paid to say their yarn was the best, still was great enough that I would tell anyone within earshot about the superiority in Anzula's quality, you invariably end up with 80% of your stash being made up of that company's goods. I remember when I bought this skein of Wash My Lace in Paradise. It was the end of summer and the warehouse was hot. I was just on the verge of breaking up with this one dude I had been dating and was looking for comfort. But not too much comfort. It was 105° outside. Then this skein of paradise WML called my name from across the warehouse. Or maybe it was Chiva or Sabrina calling. It was hot. I was delirious. Anyway, I peeled the cash out of my wallet and smacked it down on the table and walked out with a puffy, lovely, happy skein. And it did the trick. I It's not you, it's me-ed the situation at hand, wound it into a cake and, well, uh, okay… My follow through stinks when it comes to projects. and I've since frogged the Adrift that I'd started, but someday I'll revisit this nearly-thousand-yard powerhouse and it is going to be so comfortable on summer nights. And hopefully my husband won't mention my yarn stash so I won't have to evoke this skein's power again.

Does your stash tell a story? What is your favorite skein? Do you shop with a project in mind or do you go all willy-nilly and end up with a million mismatched skeins that have someday written all over them? I'd love to hear about it! Drop me a line in the comments about what your stash looks like these days.

A black-tie affair or: how I realized I don't have enough fancy knits

Last weekend was pretty special. I had one of those rare invites that only come along once in a blue moon if you aren't a Kardashian. I was on the guest list to a black-tie party to celebrate the launch of a major new tech endeavor here in Fresno. 

Awesome, right? Well, if you aren't a Kardashian, it may not be as fun as it sounds. I had to go through at least 4 different closets to cobble together an appropriate outfit. Finally, I ransacked my Grandma's closet and found a vintage 1970's LBD and pearls, but came up empty handed when it came to a jacket, shawl, or wrap. 

I even went through my own knits, but I have a penchant for really bright, unicorn-laser-cat colors, and so my shawls more closely resemble something Molly Weasley from Harry Potter would have on, not so much Paris Hilton. 

So you know what I did? I froze. 

This is me, hanging out with Grumpy Cat at  Bitwise South Stadium , hiding inside while everyone else was drinking chilled champagne and listening to live music outside, all because I didn't have an appropriate wrap.

This is me, hanging out with Grumpy Cat at Bitwise South Stadium, hiding inside while everyone else was drinking chilled champagne and listening to live music outside, all because I didn't have an appropriate wrap.

There are a lot of potentially fancy gatherings coming up with the holidays just around the corner, so I figured I'd better get my warm-and-elegant act together before I end up wearing a hoodie to the company Christmas party.

Thank goodness for Anzula Nebula. 86% Superwash Merino, 14% Sparkling Stellina, 100% classy. 

Here are a couple of patterns that would look divine with any LBD or floor-length sequined number.

Artesian by Rosemary (Romi) Hill

Asymmetical and lacy, this one won't keep you warm at an outdoor Christmas party in, like Michigan, but then again, are there even outdoor Christmas parties in Michigan? So sayeth the California girl. This would have been perfect for me last weekend.

Riddles with Dragons Shawl by Kate Poe

A glamorous stunner, this scale pattern is sure to be a conversation starter in case you're having the "Ugh, I won't have anything to talk to these people about!" dilemma that so often comes up at fancy gala events. 

Marcella Evening Gown by Lacie Lynnae

Take knitted elegance one step further and make the whole evening gown. Isn't it amazing? This pattern incorporates three Anzula yarns, Cloud, Milky Way, and Nebula. Might want to start working on this for next Thanksgiving, if you're not a super knitter. My sister could totally do it. I, unfortunately, am not my sister. I might as well start it now to have it ready for my daughter's eventual wedding. My daughter is one. Actually, maybe I can bribe my sister to make this for me. <3

So what's your favorite go-to, hoity-toity-event knit? 

And now, here's my inner monologue: If I make one of these in a normal color like Sexy or Elephant, I can go back to knitting in my happy, though impractical place. Which is pretty much like Paradise.