Sunday, April 6, 2014

Taobao Yarn Shop Review: Pangzi and Duoduo Ma

Mousseaux shawl in a tweedy angora blend.

The Taobao Yarn that Started It All
My first warm season as a full-fledged knitter -- that would be spring and summer 2010, I roamed the streets of Chengdu's wholesale yarn market looking for warm-weather-appropriate yarn. Many of the stalls had rolled over their inventory to various non-yarn items -- bedding, underwear, bamboo bed products, and the like. Where was all the silk China is known for? The best I could come up with was tubes of sportweight "milk cotton" in baby pastels that I found was prone to mildewing and disintegrating quickly, or cakes of thread-thin strands of rayon or cotton wound together. Eventually I found hanks of what the shopkeeper told me was worsted-weight cotton/linen, but her colors were limited (and I'm now fairly certain that was cotton/acrylic, anyway).

A year later, the China Knitters Group on Ravelry decided to hold a CAL of Doris Chan's Light and Lacy Top, and I decided that I'd better find some cotton that would be easy to work with for my first crochet garment. A friend had recently helped me order some items that I couldn't find in shops -- a yogurt machine, running tights -- on Taobao, and I suddenly realized, why not yarn, too?

After some searching I found a pound of white cotton yarn on a cone and asked my friend to order it for me. I was fairly skeptical about the whole thing -- I had no idea what kind of quality it would be or even if it would arrive at all. A few days later, it did arrive, a giant cone of yarn stuffed in a gray shipping bag. The cone said Emilcotoni, and after some online investigation I learned that's one of the Italian yarn mills that the Ravelry-revered Colourmart.com sources mill ends from.

And thus began my romance with buying yarn on Taobao. I started placing progressively larger orders from the same shop and was satisfied each time. Eventually I branched out to other sellers as well, but as my first entry point into Taobao yarn shopping, Pangzi remains one of my perpetual favorites. 

Below are some of the items I've made with yarns from Pangzi over the years.

The result of the CAL.

Amiga cardigan from Knitty, in two colors of a mercerized cotton and a cotton-silk blend (light gray).
 
White Rabbit Hat in angora.

Lacy Cardigan by Doris Chan in Filpucci Earth, colorway Geranium.

Mellow Sweater by Pickles of Norway in chunky weight cashmere.

Pearl's Cardigan in cotton ribbon yarn.


Swatch of sparkly angora, destined to become an Easy Cardigan.
Pangzi Maodian - Waimao Weidan Rong (胖子毛店 外贸尾单绒) and its much newer sister shop, Duoduo Ma Tese Maoxian Dian (多多妈特色毛线店) specialize in mill ends from the foreign trade market, much like MIC MIC. I've ordered from both Pangzi and Duoduo Ma and found their stock, service, and prices are nearly identical, so I'm writing this as one review. 

Products
A decent selection of both cold-weather and warm-weather fibers are usually on offer at any time of the year. Also in stock are a limited range of notions as well as Addi fixed circulars and the Tulip Rose Etimo crochet hooks set. Mostly, Pangzi/Duoduo Ma focuses on the mill ends, but they do carry a handful of imported commercial handknitting yarns, like BBB and Kingcole.

In addition to high-end cashmere, these shops stock alpaca, angora, and high-quality wool, and blends thereof. In contrast to MIC MIC, which offers a wide range of qualities, Pangzi generally seems to stick to the mid-level to luxury fibers; I don't see very many acrylic or synthetic novelty yarns on offer. That said, they do tend to have a nice selection of various textures, including boucle, chainette yarns, railroad yarns, and so on -- and I've purchased countless sparkly and shimmery yarns from them -- metallic yarns, sequin yarns, glitter thread, and the like.

My friend accidentally ordered 10 pounds of boucle. I was trying to get 10 liang (500g). Oops. I made a cozy blanket, a big shrug, another pullover ... and I still have three large cones left.

30% cashmere, 70% wool tweed sportweight. Destined to become a Clarity Cardigan.

Di.ve subtly striping 70% wool, 30% acrylic aran weight. Destined to become a Purple Storm cardigan.

Filpucci Loop, 80% cotton, 20% polyester. Great summer yarn, used for a couple of loose-knit tops.

Sequin thread! Carryalong yarn that will jazz up any project. I used it in my Skappelgenseren, and it looks fancy.

Silk chainette with a metallic thread in the core. 

Bling bling wool. Thinking about some kind of simple cabled pullover for this. 
Linen in various weights and colors can almost always be had here, as can cotton in various weights and textures, from fingering-weight ribbon yarns to smooth, round DK weight. I've also purchased a giant, 2kg cone of shiny rayon/linen, silk-wrapped cotton, and silk/cotton blends.

It used to be that order of 500g or more usually came on the original manufacturer's cone, but recently almost all of my yarns have come caked, regardless of the quantity I order. Occasionally they come in hanks like the silk yarn above.

Prices
With the exception of some of the higher-end cashmere and alpaca, most yarns are sold at a minimum of 500g (listed as 1 jin). The minimum order for most of the former is 150g (3 liang). Prices start as low as RMB4 per 50g, although RMB7 to 12 is a more typical mid-range, and go up to RMB50 per 50g for the Loro Piana cashmere yarns.

Navigation and Descriptions
The navigation bar is fairly simple, broken down according to season and fiber. However, the photos are not always top-notch, and swatches are only sometimes shown. Descriptions don't necessarily list the fiber content in detail, so I try to stick with those listings that do. A recommended needle size is usually provided to give an idea of the yarn weight, as is recommended quantities for a (size small) women's sweater.

I've had a few misses ordering with Pangzi, namely with this blue yarn that was described simply as a wool chainette. The description didn't state that a large percentage (I suspect more than 50 percent) was acrylic, but that's what my bleach test indicated. However, that was one of my earlier orders, and I've since learned to read the descriptions and reviews carefully, and if it's not described as a pure or 100 percent wool (or other natural fiber) I'll ask via Taobao's chat system. I've found the reps on the chat to be upfront about what the yarns will be appropriate for (for example, the seller told me that one yarn that was listed as an alpaca blend was not very soft and would be better for outerwear rather than a scarf).

Service
Pangzi/Duoduo Ma will wind multiple strands together at no extra charge (I believe only up to three strands) if you make a note, and they offer free gifts of circular needles, stitch markers, stitch holders, point protectors, cable needles, and plastic darning needles with orders over RMB100. They frequently run free shipping deals as well (Duoduo Ma is offering free shipping for orders over RMB200 until October 10, 2014).

Shipping time seems relatively quick, and the shipping company that they use is generally good about notifying recipients that packages have been delivered. Of the numerous times I've ordered, only once has an item been missing from the package, and once I contacted customer service, the missing item was sent out immediately. The chat representatives are very professional and easy to communicate with (despite my non-native Chinese), as was the representative who called me once when I thought my package had never arrived (it was sitting in the mail room of my complex the whole time, but this time the delivery company had failed to notify me). This endears me more to the shop -- with other sellers, I've seen numerous responses to bad reviews by customers that shock me with their aggressive tone, and I've had a chat representative respond to one of my questions in a snarky, sarcastic manner.

Pangzi is currently a double-crown Taobao seller, and Duoduo Ma has quickly risen to multi-diamond status, so it's probably only a matter of time before it too hits crown status.

Summary
I'd describe Pangzi and Duoduo as very similar to MIC MIC, except with a smaller range of products focusing on the higher end fibers (and Addi and Tulip tools) and a lower product turnover rate (which can be frustrating if you want to see new products all the time, but can also be a blessing if you realize you don't have enough of a certain yarn -- there might still be time to get more, whereas with MIC MIC, chances of being able to reorder in time are low).

Overall, from the packaging (no receipts, caked rather than coned yarns) and the appearance of the listings (unprofessional photography and descriptions sometimes lacking in detail), Pangzi and Duoduo give off an impression of a smaller-scale operation. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Taobao Yarn Store Review: Lian Gongfang



Products
I initially came across Lian Gongfang when I was interested in finding Shetland wool on Taobao. This shop had some, in the form of mill ends, in stock, so I bought quite a bit. Unfortunately they had only one color, a very warm green with flecks of gold and orange in it, which doesn't suit me at all, but darn it, I will make a sweater out of it anyway. I kept an eye on the shop and found they sell lots of Italian (and other) mill ends of various qualities, as well as commercial handknitting yarns from the UK (Rowan, Kingcole, Jaeger), U.S. (Knitpicks, and for a while they had a few skeins of Madelinetosh in stock), Europe (Lang, Lanas Stop, BBB), and Japan (Olympus, Puppy). Finally, they carry a small selection of domestic commercial yarns, namely, Li Shi, Jiuse Lu, and Pecore.

I did manage to make a hat with the Shetland. Striped with Noro and some other scraps.

I mostly stick with the mill ends and have purchased lovely wool/alpaca blends, pure alpaca, wool/cashmere blends, tweedy wools, pure silk (ironically, this is apparently a rare find in China), cotton ribbon yarns, cotton/linen blends, raimie, alpaca/linen blends, and so on. Some of the mill ends they sell are Cariaggi, Filpucci, Filati Cardati, Novetex, Nardi Filati, and so on. Occasionally the yarn label with the mill name will be pictured; other times it's just a mystery. If I can see a label I'll usually do some sleuthing on Google to see what additional information I can find out about the yarn.



One of my favorite pullovers was knit with this fingering weight 70/30 baby alpaca/wool blend from an Italian mill that sadly is no longer in stock. It is so soft and gets softer with wear.


I generally run a bleach test on all animal-protein yarns I purchase and only once have I found a description from this shop to be off, with the yarn below, actually -- it was listed as 100% wool, but further digging revealed it contains some nylon.



Prices
A bit steeper than comparable Taobao shops, but usually I don't mind paying the extra because I know that I'm getting something good. I was a bit irked when I bought the tweed yarn above for RMB9 per 50g and then spotted it at another one of my favorite shops for RMB5 per 50g. On the other hand, I also scored a deal during a holiday sale on the discontinued (and apparently much sought-after) Jaeger Chamonix for RMB26 per 50g (I bought sweater quantities in two colors, based on the words of wisdom of yarn whisperer Clara Parkes. And my sweater quantities cost about 1/3rd of her estimated $135).


Free shipping deals are rare. There is supposed to be some kind of token discount scheme, but it rarely seems to apply to my orders.

They did send me this synthetic blend once when I hit a certain RMB amount.
Navigation and Descriptions
One of the first things I noticed about this shop when I first discovered it, indeed, one of the things that very much attracted me to the shop, is that alongside the usual categories of fiber type, it also lists yarn weights in English -- lace, fingering, DK, aran, and bulky. I've not seen this on any other Taobao shop.

The yarn descriptions are usually very detailed, with fiber content, yarn weight, suggested needle size, suggested quantity for various types of projects, etc. all spelled out. The photographs are also generally excellent, with several clear shots of each yarn and quite often swatches with the number of plies and needle size indicated as well. Here's an example. I haven't had any drastic surprises with colors from this shop, either (and yes, I have had some pretty big surprises from other shops).

  
Summer pullover knit from the cotton linen yarn pictured above.

Service
Just sufficient, no extras. For instance, unlike many sellers this shop never throws in trinkets like stitch markers for hitting a certain RMB amount, and they do not wind together plies -- all they will do is wind into separate cakes so that you can knit with multiple strands (knitting from four cakes isn't that much fun, though). I placed an order during the 11.11 shopping day madness to take advantage of the Chamonix promotion, and they forgot to send all of the imported yarns in my package. It took a bit of chatting back and forth between the seller and me to finally sort it out, and they sent the missing yarns out the next day (I was hoping they'd throw in some extra for the mishap but no such luck). Additionally, I was once charged shipping when they were advertising a free shipping promotion.

Alpaca/linen blend.
Shipping time is reasonable; I haven't noticed it being particularly faster or slower than average. The packing is fine, but unexceptional.

I've also noticed that in the year or so I've been shopping with Lian Gongfang, its Taobao rating status has increased from diamond to crown. I guess I'm not the only fan!

Filpucci Lhasa, a laceweight single ply blend of wool and cashmere.
Summary
Pros

  • Consistently high-quality products
  • Clear photos and detailed descriptions of products, frequently with swatches of the yarn
  • Very easy-to-navigate shop (products arranged by fiber, by weight, by country, and by type)
100% baby alpaca.
Cons

  • Pricier than most Taobao shops
  • Very infrequent discounts or free shipping offers
  • Very limited selection of notions (80cm bamboo and metal circulars, and some crochet hooks)
  • No extras thrown in
  • Unwilling to wind plies together

Dreaming by Novetex, a Macau mill. The colorway is called Chutney, which appeals to me. It's a wool/cashmere/nylon blend, worsted weight single ply.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Taobao yarn store review: MIC MIC

I've been intending to write up a blog post highlighting my favorite Taobao yarn sellers for a while now, but then I decided why not just write up a short review for each of my favorite shops? So I'm going to start with my current absolute favorite, MIC MIC.

First, some photos of recent purchases I've made from this shop:

Pure merino from a mill based in Uruguay called Solana Yarns. Chunky weight, 120m per 100g. Very soft, nice heathery gray color. Planning to use this for a re-gauged Warm Wishes cardigan

Pure lambswool, very fine (NM 3/36). I asked the seller to wind four plies together to make a sport weight. 
Products 
This shop sells "外货" (for overseas markets) mill end yarns. I interpret that as meaning leftovers from industrial garment production. The garment manufacturing occurs in China, but a good many of the yarns do seem to come from overseas, most commonly from Italy but more recently I've purchased yarns made in Uruguay. The origin of most yarns is not specified. The shop carries a range of qualities, from cashmere at the high end and on through merino wool, wool and silk blends, pure silks, cottons, cotton and wool blends, and plenty of synthetics at the low end. Many of the high-end yarns are very, very fine (cobweb weight), but there are some heavier (fingering up to chunky) pure wool yarns usually available.

Stock rotates fairly quickly at this shop, which means there's something new to see (and lust after) every few weeks or so, but it also means that yarns sell out quickly, and once they're gone, there's no getting more (so make sure to order enough for your project).

Prices
The price is among the lowest I've seen for this quality of yarn on Taobao, which is why it's my favorite store at the moment. The synthetic yarns usually start at around RMB3 per 50g, and the cashmere is around RMB40 per 50g. Pure wool or wool blends usually range from around RMB4 to RMB10 per 50g, depending on the quality and the blend.

Navigation and Descriptions
Navigation is quite simple: categories on the left-hand navigation bar are broken down by fiber content (silk, wool, cotton, linen) or by yarn texture (boucle, thick and thin, fluffy, ribbon yarn, etc.) Generally the product description contains the yarn weight (either expressed as a description, such as "heavy" or "fine" or as an NM or 支 number, so you can calculate the meterage per gram), the shop's recommended needle size(s), the suggested quantity required for an "average" woman's pullover, a sweater coat, or a scarf. It will also include the price per 50g and usually some brief words about the feel of the yarn (whether or not it can be worn next to the skin). Finally there will be a photo of each colorway available, usually of the yarn on the cone or in the hank. Occasionally there is a photo of a knitted swatch. I've found the colors in the photos to be generally pretty accurate.

Service
This shop is one of the handful I've found willing to wind multiple plies onto the cone (lots of other shops are willing to wind separate cakes, but that's about it). As you can see, most yarns come on cones, but some of the bulky and superbulky yarns come as hanks or balls. The receipt included in the package indicates the exact amount that is on the cone, and usually they wind a few grams extra onto the cone, which is nice. They also provide free gifts with most purchases, like stitch markers, bamboo needles, steel crochet hooks, darning needles, or plastic or wooden buttons.
70/30 silk/cashmere blend. Super silky and drapey. Again I asked the seller to wind several plies together to make a heavier weight.
Summary
Pros

  • Low prices
  • New products posted regularly
  • Reasonably clear descriptions and photos
  • Photos generally seem to be color accurate
  • Fast shipping, frequently free shipping deals if you spend a certain amount
  • Yarn almost always wound onto cones
  • Amount precisely stated on receipt, and usually they "top up" your cone
  • Will wind together multiple plies at your request
  • Free gifts with most orders


Cons

  • Information on origin or brand of yarn is usually unavailable -- the only times I've been able to track this down is when I've ordered a sufficient quantity (more than 500g) of one yarn for it to come on the original cone from the mill, and then there will be a sticker with identifying information. But for smaller quantities, the Taobao shop will wind it onto a new cone.
  • That also means that occasionally the fiber content as listed is not completely accurate (for instance, a yarn that was listed as 90% wool turned out to be 20% nylon, according to information I was able to find online and also my home bleach test).
  • When it's gone, it's gone
  • Color selection is very limited -- many yarns have only one or two colors available, and most frequently there are a lot of neutral shades like grays, beiges, black, brown
  • Yarn occasionally has musty odor, probably due to long-term storage in humid conditions
  • Any other cons I can think of would really apply to yarn shopping on Taobao in general, which is a post for another day!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Color combinations: _____ + neutral

Here are some combinations I've been playing around with recently for projects I'm planning:

neon + neutral




mint + grays




neutral + neutral



WIP pic!


P.S. I finished the ombre cowl from my last post and have been wearing it the past two days. I should probably block it but I don't want to take it off!




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In defense of numerous WIPs

My Traveling Companion Shawl. I actually love the way this is coming out, but the lace takes a bit of concentration, so I generally don't carry it around with me or work on it when distracted by other things (which is most of my knitting time). Going has been slow. But I plan to finish by spring, so I can wear it. 
Every now and then I like to do some Ravelry project-page housekeeping. This involves changing the status of projects that are actually finished but have been lingering in WIP mode, deleting projects I'm never actually going to get around to, etc. Today I counted up the number of WIPs listed on my Ravelry page and noticed it's at 131. One hundred and thirty-one! OK, to be fair, that includes two "projects" that were created for photos of my yarn stash (for the Flash Your Stash thread, back in 2010 or so, when I could fit it all on my couch. I wouldn't dare drag my considerably larger stash out for a photo op now) and one to keep links to photos of commercially made sweaters that I like. And then there are probably about 10 to 20 projects that I've created a project page for but haven't actually cast on, so technically those aren't WIPs. Yet. 

Organix Tee. Started as a test knit two or three years ago. I knit most of it on the transpacific flight after a visit home. Somehow my gauge changed during the process and I ended up with a top that is about 4" too big around. I like the oversized look but the shoulders are clearly too big here. I just haven't had the heart to tear it out, although that's probably what's going to happen. 
So that leaves about 110 projects that I've started and left unfinished. Some are being worked on regularly. Many are stuffed into the box of shame in my storage room, likely destined to be frogged or given away in their half-completed state to my knitting/crocheting friends to salvage the yarn from. About four or five are stuffed into the "do these next" box that's at the top of the stack of boxes in the storage room. 

Ombre Cowl. This is just a dumb WIP. It's a small project with relatively mindless knitting, and I really love the yarns, the color, and how it's turning out. I have no excuse for this one, and right now would be the perfect time to wear it. So I'd better chop chop.
People often write about WIPs and casting on new projects before they've finished old ones as a bad thing. Personally, I'm pretty OK with keeping lots of WIPs. For me, the three major problems with many WIPs are:
  • I need a set of needles for every WIP, or I have to spend a lot of time transferring stitches onto waste yarn or stitch holders
  • I might lose track of what part of the pattern I was one or what needle size I was using
  • The clutter WIPs create (it's much harder to stuff them neatly into a box than it is to store untouched skeins and cakes of yarn in a box)
For issue 1, I just own lots of needles, and because there are at least five yarn shops within a mile radius of my apartment (plus one at my bus-transfer point on days I go to work) that sell needles for about 4 yuan apiece (and on Taobao they're half that price), I am in the (bad?) habit of just buying needles whenever the size I need is occupied by a WIP.

Beatnik Pullover. Another sweater I'd love to be wearing this season, but guess what? It's only got 2/3rds of a body done. Still gotta do sleeves and finishing after that. The cables on this one are fairly complex and require attention. I hope the yarn isn't too itchy when it's all said and done. I love the color and the little weird tweed-like flecks. I started this in 2010 and it grows a few inches every winter before it goes into hibernation for the rest of the year.
Issue 2 is taken care of by Ravelry's excellent project-notes functionality. I am usually quite diligent about recording what yarn I have and in what quantity, what needle size(s) I'm using for a particular project, and so forth. I generally print my patterns and take notes as to where I am if necessary -- on many projects it's easy enough to figure out where I am.

I haven't solved issue 3, apart from buying and crocheting several large containers to store WIPs in. Each one gets placed into a sealable plastic bag (to keep out the moths) with the remaining yarn needed to complete the project as well as the printout of the pattern. The bags are then stored in one of my baskets. Or, you know, littered all over the couch and the floor next to the couch.

Caramel. I like the design of this sweater, called "blanket-style," a lot. But I am not sure about the yarn -- it was a relatively early purchase, and that dark blue/black marl has a fairly high acrylic content. But the whole fabric drapes fairly nicely and feels soft enough. This was sitting with only half the body done for a few years until I pulled it out a couple months ago and finished the body off. Now I'm slowly trudging through the sleeves, my least favorite part. I decided I'd finish it in time for our upcoming trip, which means I have about two weeks left. Good thing there's no finishing work on this one. Just gotta slog through those sleeves.
I guess one final issue with lots of WIPs is that my taste, style, or size might change. But I try not to knit garments that are too trendy, and my clothing size has not fluctuated more than one size since I was in high school (half my life ago!), so I feel relatively safe there too. 

Velvet Morning. Another long journey. I acquired the main color in 2010 or 2011 but couldn't find suitable contrast yarns until this past summer when I was at home. So the ribbing was sitting there patiently until this fall when I started the colorwork. I finished the body a month or so ago, finally, and now I'm trying to work up the courage to do those stranded sleeves, which will need to be set in. There's also a loooong ribbed collar I've got to do and then seam. But mostly I'm afraid of those sleeves. The worst part is I'm not in love with my color selection. 
The main reason I've always felt justified in keeping so many WIPs is that most of life is about maintaining structure and sticking to deadlines (especially for those, like me, who do freelance work) that I allow myself this guilt-free pleasure of casting on whatever I want regardless of whatever other knitting projects await my attention.

I think this is my oldest WIP. It's the first garment I ever cast on for, and ... it's still not done! Honestly I don't even know where it is. I apparently created the Ravelry project page in July 2010, so I probably cast it on well before that.
P.S. It's been a really long time, I know. One of my small new year's resolutions is to take better care of this blog.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A few free "hidden gems" on Ravelry (free knitting patterns)

A few years ago, I browsed Ravelry's newly added patterns feed on a daily basis. At that time there would be a few pages to skim through, and most were not of much interest to me. However, opening the pages of the patterns that appealed to me ended up being a big time-suck, and heaven forbid I missed a day of browsing -- I would have to catch up the next day, and eventually I realized that if I were going to try to do more productive things in my day, I would have to give up this little hobby.

Now Ravelry has implemented a few features on the patterns homepage that allow me to get a nice little dose of new patterns without spending the time to browse through all of the new patterns. "Your Pattern Highlights" shows a selection of new patterns based on your Ravelry preferences (i.e., favorite designs, designers, patterns "liked" by other users with apparently similar taste, etc.), and "Hot Right Now" showcases the most looked-at patterns recently. The default is to show the top five patterns, but I just discovered that the list can be expanded to show 20. Great!

But occasionally, I still come across patterns that don't appear on either of these lists, usually either by viewing my friends' feed of recently added photos, or by browsing patterns for a particular weight yarn. When I run a pattern search, I usually sort by "most projects," but occasionally I'll sort by "recently added to Ravelry" just so that I'm not looking at all the same patterns all the time.

It was in this way that I came across these few free gems today, while searching for a pattern for these yarns:


Pure cotton ripple yarn, from Taobao seller 幽思品兰香


Shishang silk protein/wool blend from Taobao seller 燕子_时尚坊
All of them went into my queue immediately:

Smoky Earl Grey 
I love the look of these boxy, dropped-sleeve pullovers, in the vein of Tweedy---Stripey. This one is more cropped and in a slightly lighter weight yarn than the latter.

Recto Verso
This is a button-back short-sleeve cardigan in "lacy" garter stitch (basically, a "condo" stitch, where two different needle sizes are used) knit at a very loose gauge. I really love the look of loose-knit garter stitch, especially in a summery yarn, like cotton.

(Actually, even in wool it's good. Witness my Skappelgenseren. And my dumbbells.)
I found the Recto Verso designer has a number of fabulous, simple patterns (more chubby garter stitch!) for free, in French and English -- and this one is not yet on Ravelry (link opens PDF) but I found it on her blog and love it, too (French only but the schematic is pretty clear and with a bit of Google Translate magic I reckon I can figure it out).

Finally, I came across the Web site for Järbo Garn, which seems to be a Swedish yarn company with a similar setup to Drops Yarn in that they release a bunch of patterns every season to accompany their yarns. Unlike Drops patterns, the Jarbo patterns seem to be mostly in Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian, with the occasional Finnish, German, or French translation thrown in, but again, Google Translate is pretty powerful, especially with the simpler designs. There is an English-language framework for the site, though, so navigating it is not a problem.

Bonus: When I expanded my "Hot Right Now" list to the top 20, I came across this other free gem, a summery lacey shawl -- I think it'll be perfect for this hot pink ribbon yarn that'll be left over as soon as I finish my Doris Chan Lacy Top Cardigan.
Italian mill end yarn "Earth" from my favorite Taobao shop, 很胖的胖子

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ravelers: Will you vote for my sock, please?


As I mentioned a few days ago, I recently completed a pattern test for a lovely toe-up cabled sock, and now my project photo is in a contest. There's a skein of Malabrigo sock yarn at stake here, so if any of you who are reading this are on Ravelry and want to help that skein become mine ... head over to the Trappings and Trinkets contest thread to show your love. Thanks!

(And yes, there has just been a major earthquake in Sichuan. Everybody in Chengdu seems fine, but we're waiting for more information from the rural areas near the epicenter in Ya'an and, for those of you who are interested, we're keeping track of information here.)