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Indigo Fisherman Dreams

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Dear Kay,
Upon returning from Rhinebeck–I mean, in the gate lounge at the airport, moments after sitting down, as soon as I could possibly get to it, forgoing a pretzel, even–I started work on a swatch. It was like having a dollar in my pocket at Smith’s Variety.
It was all because of this yarn, made by Buckwheat Bridge, a small angora goat and Cormo sheep farm and mill located in the Hudson Valley.
They call it North Sea Fisherman’s Yarn, because it has the dense twist and gauge of the yarn seen in the traditional fisherman ganseys of England. It’s spun in a mill powered by a giant roof of solar panels. The sheep eat nothing but delicious things grown nearby. The goodwill captured inside these skeins is palpable–you hold it in your hands, notice the unfussy look of it, and you realize that your sweater, made from this stuff, is going to make the world a better place–FOR JEEPER’S SAKE GET BUSY!
It’s indigo dyed. My shopping enabler and gansey expert Mary Neal culled through all the skeins to find ones that matched close enough, though the fact is, there’s variation in the batch I bought and of course that’s a GOOD thing when you’re knitting a sweater so filled with authenticosity.
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ExACTly. I wondered if I was going to have the thrilling blue-fingered experience that comes with knitting denim yarn. But the dye behaved, and when I got home, I had this:
indigoyarnswatch.jpg
Excellently dense stuff. 24 stitches = 4″ on a size 4. I could go down to a size 3 and have a fabric that could withstand a North Sea blow. When I stuck it in a cup of water to block it, I forgot about it for a couple of hours. When I came back, the water was a deep, fine blue, and I thought I’d sapped the yarn of its vital indigo life force.
Not really. The yarn is as deep a blue as it was before its soaking. It’s eternablue in there. None more blue.
I have in mind Mary Neal’s cool gansey pattern from Knitty, Jamesey. But I lack the same coathanger physique of my dear nephew who is the model in those photos, so I may cook up a more forgiving version. Must think about this.
Which is, after all, the fun.
Love,
Ann

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34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Beautiful – makes me want to leave work and go home and knit!

  2. Beautiful yarn! And I love what you did with that swatch! Not being much of a swatcher (i do it, but only under duress – i.e. the thought that the Thing I want to knit my not fit) I always unravel my swatches and knit with the swatch yarn. Blocking? No, I don’t do that. I know. One day I’ll Pay. But that swatch of yours (I’ve typed swatch too many times! It’s beginning to turn into a nonsense word. swatch. swatch…) anyway, that pretty square you made is a keeper.

  3. Very exciting! You could ponder this all day long — there must be a zillion perfect patterns…. Oooh, have fun!

  4. That will be one gorgeous sweater. Too bad I’m not allowing myself any new yarn until I complete a few projects. Can’t wait to see what you decide.

  5. Is coveting REALLY a sin? Beautiful stuff… exactly the reason I am not permitted at fiber festivals. Can’t wait to see what’s next for the lovely indigo stuff.

  6. Oh, the idea of a gansey like sweater from this yarn is very exciting and super appropriate!

  7. Ann, I am a big fan of Buckwheat Bridge and the couple who run it. I first ran into Dan at a Rhinebeck workshop on ganseys, taught by who else but Beth Brown-Reinsel! Dan walked into this room full of women wearing a drop-dead gorgeous, midnight blue gansey. That he had spun from the fiber from his mohair goats. And knitted himself. Yeah. Anyway, Dan and his wife Sara are also responsible for the wonderful workshops at Rhinebeck (for about three years now) and are just neat people. Your yarn is gorgeous and I’m kicking myself now that I only looked at their spinning fiber!

  8. Oh Ann, that stuff is gorgeous – I can’t wit to see your Ann gansey.

  9. That’s the great thing about the fiber festivals – unique regional yarn. Looking forward to this project of yours!

  10. I love knitting with yarns with a bit of provenance. Knowing the sheep’s (or goat’s) name, just makes the project a little more special.

  11. So lurvley!

  12. I love the eternablue! Great color. Can’t wait to see what you end up with.

  13. The Annsey. Can’t wait. V & A eligibility is within reach!

  14. I am making this sweater for my own coathanger boy/man (he is 18 as he keeps reminding me).
    And Ann… I love how everyone in your family is named Clifton.

  15. I am making the sweater posted for my own coathanger boy/man. (He is 18 as he keeps reminding me.)
    And Ann, I love how everyone in your family is named Clifton.

  16. Wow, that’s gorgeous yarn. Seriously tempting! See whitknits (http://whitknits.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/remember-this/) for a gorgeous feminine gansey adaptation.

  17. Gorgeous yarn! I love actual indigo dyed things.
    Please update us as to whether or not the dye continues to be fast. I’ve had major issues in the past with such things.

  18. I just got a question from an MDK/Knitty reader about making Jamesey in wool. Basic answer is: same number of stitches, 20% fewer rows. If you have a larger bust, use the larger sizes for your vertical measurement, even if you are S or M, because they have one more pattern repeat. Just use the S or M # of stitches. This incoherency will make sense if you read the pattern.
    Wow, Sarah, what a beautiful sweater you linked to. I may have to figure out one of those for myself. And yes, Martha, even James’s middle name is Clifton.

  19. Lovely stuff. Happy animals! There are so many lovely patterns but consider this gorgeous Norah Gaughan pattern,
    http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/11-oversized-guernsey-pull

  20. Now that is a GORGEOUS shade of blue!

  21. That is a gorgeous swatch. I want to carry it around with me.

  22. That is beautiful, beautiful yarn! The swatch is frame worthy also. Can’t wait for the in-process pictures :)

  23. Sa-weet!

  24. Ahhh… you have drunk the koolaid! BWB is my very first stop at every show I attend that they’re vending at. I call them my crack dealers. Even better is that I only live a short distance away from the mill, so conceivably I could visit some day. I buy at least one bag of their roving at the three shows we cross paths at each year, gladly ponying up the cash for such gorgeous texture and color.
    Enjoy the yarn, I can tell you first hand it is delightful. :)

  25. Am I blue? Am I bluuuue? Ain’t these tears in my eyes tellin’ you?
    Ann, that swatch pert near did put some tears in my eyes–just to realize that you put that lovely pattern in it without directions.
    Can’t wait to see the whole garment, whatever you decide it will be.
    LoveDiane

  26. Ann,
    I am glad you like my North sea fishermans yarn.
    I got the dark blue by using lots of gray wool in
    the mix and then overdying with blue. This batch was also spun with lots of twist and went through the draw frame five times (two is usual), to really allign the fibers of the wool prior to spinning.
    British fishermans sweaters are a special interest of mine. If you e-Mail me your mailing address I will send you a gansey pattern I wrote based on Mrs. Laidlaws pattern from Seahouses England.
    Dan Melamed
    Buckwheat Bridge Angoras

  27. So pretty — I got all excited and went to their website, but it seems that they don’t sell by mail :( (There’s an etsy link on their blob, but it appears not ever to have been active.) Maybe I’ll write and plead with them to do the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival!

  28. the pattern needs a turtle neck
    lots of cables to show off the yarn
    a wonderful scraf and hat
    and a glass of wine in hand

  29. I love the sweater, but my friend loves the model in the sweater. “Is he single?” she wonders… ;)

  30. Sharah, Tell your friend that he is spoken for. Plus which he lives in Russia. Oh well.

  31. Is it lovely and itchy? It looks delicious.

  32. When knitting with such gorgeous stuff, don’t you feel absolutely rich?
    I’m knitting a gansey right now, my own design, and knitting in a wonderful yarn it is such a treat to see those purls pop out and the patterns appear under your fingers. Have fun!

  33. from all the ghosties and goulies
    we read too you know
    BOO YOU ALL

  34. Gorgeous indigo yarn – and of course I’m now coveting half of the stock at their website. But on my visit today, I realized the gorgeous blue yarn distracted me from an interesting skein of GREEN yarn sitting forlornly on a book in the background, almost as if it were looking down at the blue yarn and feeling vaguely jealous. So I’ll ask – what is that equally pretty in its own way green yarn?