The weekend before last I left a sunny Seattle for a trip to Santa Clara for Stitches West. My first trip away from home and my first overnight trip away from my two little boys since they have been born.
Somewhat naively I expected sunshine and warmer temperatures, silly me. We left Seattle at the crack of dawn (had to leave my house at 4 AM!), and landed in Santa Clara around 8:45 AM. It was cold and raining.
Almost right away we headed to Santa Clara Convention Center. The market had not yet opened. There were lines that went on and on, which lead into the 3 doorways that opened into the Convention Center floor. Right before the market floor opened the women closer to the doors started counting backward in unison. I knew then I was in for an experience.
We walked in to find most of the rows easy to get through and I headed straight to my vendors. After much walking around I ended up at the Malabrigo booth. This is where I meat Tobias and his brother-in-law Antonio. After a little while, somewhat timidly, I asked Tobias whether they had a skein of their mythical sock yarn.
The ever smiling Tobias was kind enough to grace me with a sample skein of yet-to-be Malabrigo sock, a super soft 2-ply sock yarn that was kettle dyed in a monochromatic amethyst-lilac color line, very much in character with their usual lovely color work.
The test skein weighs 3.5 ounces and has approx. 440 yards of fingering weight yarn and it is made of 100% superwash merino. I have yet to swatch this surprisingly soft yarn but while I type this I stop to touch my skein and the yarn feels like it has cashmere content. The fiber has some bounce to it as well, when I squeeze the hank it springs back to shape, which makes me think that semi-solid color lines would work well for intricate pattern work. Did I tell you that this yarn is really soft? May be even softer than Malabrigo Lace.
Next step – One of our designers is going to knit with the Malabrigo sock and give us her unbiased opinion. I myself think this lovely yarn is too nice for a pair of socks and would be ideal for a lace project. I would love to wrap a stole/scarf/shawl made with this Malabrigo yarn around my neck and shoulders.
Going back to Tobias and Antonio, I did not have that much time and therefore, did not spend a substantial amount of time with them. That being said, they are some of the nicest yarn-folk I have met. They are sweet, accommodating, kind and very focused on their customers and of course, their product quality. I was told to caption their photo with “two pretty faces” but I think two good men is much more appropriate. More on the sock yarn later this month.
On the second day of my trip I made some purchases (ehem, not all will be disclosed here). To be able to knit on the plane on my way back home I also needed needles (I did not bring any with me!) This is when I decided it was time to purchase my first pair of glass needles, with some trepidation – glass needles, what happens when they break!? NOTE – They have a life-time warranty.
I ended up purchasing one of the simplest sets from Sheila & Michael Ernst; I selected the tips for my circulars and Michael connected them to the cord right then and there. At $30 a pop I was still a little leery especially given my smooth relationship with Addi Turbos. My new needles looked nice and channeled candy but how would it be to knit with them?
I cast on at the plane 15 minutes after we took off and I was happy! The needles allowed the yarn to slide off easily without being too slippery, tips were pointy without being too sharp and my favorite, the transition from the needles to the cord was smooth like butter. Absolutely no catching, none. Another positive, the cord is slightly thicker than what I had come to expect from my Addis making it better for the consistency of gauge and for using my circulars in place of straight needles. Finally, the dreaded circular needle cord coil – the kind you would have to soak in hot water to get straight – is a none issue for the glass needles.
For me the only disconcerting issue was the fact that once in a while when the tip of one of my needles rubbed against the body of the other, the sound and the feel was similar to that of hitting a flint with a sharp object to start a fire. That I did not like much though I must admit 20 minutes into my knitting that too became a non-issue.
I like my needles and probably would have gone for a fancier set had I known that I would enjoy working with them this much. They are an acquired taste – especially given their price – but given that majority of them are a one of a kind art-work and come with life time warranties they are well worth it.
I have a couple of yarns that I would really like to share with you but I think for now it is good night for me. Hope you are all well and knitting with a smile.