Saturday, December 8, 2007


Company: Northern Essence
Owner: Traci Hoffman
Item Name: Various
Type of Purchase: Website
Contact At:

I first discovered this company from a lotion sample that Jen at Woolgirl put in my package. I was hooked! Jen carries some of their line, but I wanted more. So I went over to their website, only to discover that it was under construction. It just opened a couple of weeks ago, and when I went over there to buy some lotion, I was floored. They have an enormous selection of things for sale with over 150 scents to choose from. I decided to stock up. What you see in the picture are Whipped Lotions in "Ocean Rain", "Lemongrass & Sage", and "Lavender & Herbs"; Solid Lanolin in "Patchouli (Essential Oil); All Natural Healing Salve; Whipped Shea; Body Butter in "Almond"; Liquid Goatsmilk Soap; and a travel size bottle of Whipped Lotion in "Lavender Mist". They make pain relief salve, baby, bath, nursing mothers, lip, hand, and several other categories of products. All are made with natural ingredients by WAHM's (work at home mothers); because of this, the company recommends that you use their items within nine months of purchase to retain freshness. The items are made in small batches for just that reason. Packaging is simple but attractive; delivery is rapid; the company has a question box if you need help; they offer "sniffy samples" if you need help in deciding which fragrance to get; their website is easy to use and navigate around. I, for one, am sold on these products and will buy them for as long as they are sold. I highly recommend this company; a little goes a long way in both product and money spent.


Yarn Name: Hill Country Yarns Sweet Feet Sock Yarn
Yarn Color: Grape Crush
Type: Indie
Content: 100% Merino
Put-Up: 400 yards
Weight: 4 oz.
Gauge: 9 sts/in
Needle Size: 2
Purchase At:

This is a new dyer for me. When I opened the box and removed the yarn, I was shocked at how harsh the skein felt. After playing with it for a while, it softened up; however, it's still not what I would call a soft yarn. Perhaps washing will make a difference. The other thing that surprised me was how thick the yarn is. The yarn isn't listed as fingering, but it's also not listed as DK or sport; since it's a sock yarn, I assumed it would be fingering. Because it gets such a high stitch count on size 2 needles, I would call it a thick fingering. It has a loose medium twist, which would normally make the yarn soft, or at least a lot softer than this. The color changes are abrupt; there are no secondary colors, no blending, no surprises. I checked the site where I bought it from, and there are still quite a few skeins left. I understand why now. This is not a yarn that I will be purchasing again. In fact, I'm inclined to find a new home for the two skeins I purchased; I'm not happy with them at all. Maybe someone who prefers a thicker yarn than normal fingering and doesn't mind washing it with a lanolin softener would like it. The one good thing is that you should be able to get a pair of socks out of one skein, as long as the socks aren't too large or too detailed.


Yarn Name: Alpaca Plus
Yarn Color: No. 600
Type: Indie/Commercial
Content: 60% Alpaca, 20% Wool, 20% Nylon
Put-Up: 410 yards
Weight: 100 grams
Gauge: 7 sts/in
Needle Size: 0-1
Purchase At:

The skein I purchased is best described as semi-solid, with varying shades of lavender making up the colorway. A loose-twist yarn, I expected this to be soft as a cloud; however, the individual strands sort of stuck together when I took it out of the box. After pulling the strands apart and squishing it for a while, it softened up considerably. Color changes are not abrupt; they fade into each other. The make-up of this yarn ensures that it will hold together and not drift while knitting; the wool and nylon give it strength. One skein should make a pair of socks. I don't expect this yarn to have very good wearing properties; the twist is too loose, so I expect it will wear fairly quickly. However, alpaca is a strong fiber on it's own; I could be pleasantly surprised. Because of the recommended small needle size, this will help with the wearability problem. There are a variety of colorways available. Since this is not a superwash product, it will need to be hand-washed and laid flat (or on blockers) to dry. It would be lovely knitted into a lace or cable pattern.


Yarn Name: Miss Babs Yummy Superwash Sock & Baby Yarn
Yarn Color: Hot Mamma
Type: Indie/Commercial
Content: 100% Merino
Put-Up: 400 yards
Weight: 3.6 oz.
Gauge: 7-8 sts/in
Needle Size: 1-3
Purchase At:

This is a beautiful yarn. With a hard twist, the wearability should be excellent, yet it is soft enough to put next to a baby's skin. Offered in many different colorways, each one is beautiful; the colors softly change into the next with secondary colors forming at the changes. You should be able to get a pair of socks from one skein; however, if you have large feet or are doing an intricate pattern or cables, check your pattern carefully for yardage requirements. This particular type of yarn also comes in a sport weight. I don't expect this yarn to bloom either during knitting or washing. Since it is a superwash yarn, it is suitable for baby clothes which need to be washed frequently.


Yarn Name: Miss Babs Cashmere Moon
Yarn Color: Bronze Plum
Type: Indie/Commercial
Content: 100% Cashmere
Put-Up: 400 yards
Weight: 2 oz.
Gauge: 7-9 sts/in
Needle Size: 2-4
Purchase At:

This is yet another offering from this dyer. When I took it out of the box, I almost swooned. Soft doesn't even begin to describe this yarn. It has a fairly hard twist for cashmere, so wearability will be enhanced. Even so, this is a luxury yarn and should be treated as such. It is best suited to house or bed socks; if you want to wear it in shoes to show off its' beauty, sandals would be the best choice. As with the yarn above, the colors fade into each other and form secondary colors at the changes. Note the difference in weight and needle size; cashmere is much warmer than merino in a much lighter package. The larger needle size is to allow the bloom which will occur when knitting and washing. Treat this yarn with care when washing; cashmere has a habit of drifting when knitting and is fragile, so hand-wash only and lay flat to dry. It certainly won't fall apart when wearing it and shouldn't when knitting because of the hard twist and ply, but even so, don't pull hard on it when knitting. This yarn also comes in a rainbow of colorways. It is an expensive yarn as befits the fiber, but well worth the cost if you want a luxury pair of socks. You should be able to get a pair of socks out of one skein if the pattern is not complex and you don't have overly large feet. A true sensory delight!


Yarn Name: Strings and Yarn
Yarn Color: The Unforgiven from Apocalyptica
Type: Indie
Content: 100% Superwash Merino
Put-Up: 455 yards
Weight: 3.25 oz.
Gauge: 7-9 sts/in
Needle Size: 1-4
Purchase At:

This is one of my favorite dyers. She takes a piece of classical music (she's a violinist) and translates the music into color. Even though I'm not a fan of classical music (I do apreciate it's complexity, however), I'm a huge fan of her interpretations. This particular musical selection is by a group called Apocalyptica, which consists of cellists who play metal music and arrange Metallica songs (although they are now composing their own music). Jodie Danenberg is the lady behind the yarn. Like all of her yarns, this one is soft, soft, soft, with a hard medium twist. Wearability should be very good. Her colorways are more than inspired; like the music they represent, they swell, move, dance, play, and create all kinds of new colors between and within themselves. Knitting with it is a joy; the yarn flows through your fingers and forms a lovely halo from being handled. One skein is plenty for a pair of socks. A stitch marker is attached to each skein, along with an elaborate hang tag which contains information about the yarn. The only thing I would add to the tag are suggested needle sizes and approximate gauge. I have several skeins of Jodie's and love each and every one of them. They are all beautiful and ethereal like the music they interpret.


Manufacturer: Jelby
Artist: Cary
Item Name: Felted Stitch Markers
Purchased At: Etsy
Contact At:

These stitch markers are true jewels. Cary is the woman who painstakingly makes each and every one. You have your choice of three sizes of rings: small, medium, and large. Split rings in small and medium, and solid rings in medium, are also available. In addition, she does custom orders. Each marker is made with a combination of wet and needle felting with embroidery. A key ring is also shown, and she makes hair clips (not shown). The acorns were sold separately from the key ring, but because they clearly made a set, I bought them together. Even though you can use the key ring as it was meant to be used, I put my markers on them. I custom-ordered the sheep; they are just shy of 1/2" from top to bottom. Because they are so light, I use them on sock knitting and have no problems with them weighing down my work or getting in the way. I use stitch markers all the time; using these makes me smile. They are whimsical, joyful, and impeccably crafted. I have a lot of patience with my work (even though it sometimes gets flung across the room); I cannot imagine the type of patience that fine work such as this takes. These would also make a perfect gift for a knitter friend or swap pal. Cary has outstanding customer service, makes the markers at the speed of light, and ships just as fast. She will work with you until you're satisfied with the final result. Try them - you'll be as enchanted as I am.

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