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They invented a new sock yarn, darn them, Zauberball. I was hanging out at my LYS, Green Planet Yarn, and remembered I have a customer loyalty reward. That and my practice is doing good so I have yarn budget. So I browsed the sock yarns to see what was new, and came across the crazy variety of zauberball. Now, trekking, another skacel yarn, has always been a favorite, and this looked just like a weird cool new twist on that, so I had to try some. When I browsed online, I discovered that it comes in a solid variety, with my favorite yarn quality – long slow gentle gradual color changes! big fat lazy wide stripes! I HAD TO HAVE SOME

Did you know that sometimes EVERY yarn store in the WORLD can be out of the yarn you want at the same time? Seems I’m not the only knitter that NEEDS this yarn. Yarn designers take note… long slow gradual color changes fly off the sock yarn shelves…

To make a long story short, I was reduced to begging, and pinged an e-mail off to the distributor asking if they let designers sample. And got a lovely yarn package in the mail. You guys have GOT to see this yarn:

On the lower right is the regular zauberball – a lovely 1 ply yarn that is amazingly even and well spun.  No thick or thin spots visible or feelable at all.  Its about as soft as the regular trekking and the colors are PERFECT.  I think I really will need to collect the whole set. The only way this yarn could get better would be if it wasn’t 1-ply.  socks take a lot of wear and I worry about using ANY 1 ply yarn for socks.  1 ply is just weaker.  Plying means you have opposite twists combined, and no matter which way the yarn moves, a twist will be holding it together.  My advice: Knit this stuff tight, at least 10 SPI.  The colors are WELL WORTH putting up with the 1 plyness, especially since the thickness is so wonderfully consistent, which will help it wear well.

The next yarn of note was a surprise gift: A new line of trekking! Located top left.  Clearly skacel browsed my patterns and knows I love this yarn.  From all I can tell online this trekking is different than the old XXL in 2 ways.  The colors change slower for what I hope will be wider stripes, and it looks as if it may not have that completely random color order – that’s right, it may have predictable stripes and allow MATCHING TREKKING SOCKS.  Now, I have yet to test this!  I am only going off manufacturer pictures.  I will update as soon as I have the change and I really can’t knit 3 socks at once!  I have mixed feelings about it too.  Part of me loved the randomness of the trekking, but matching socks…  just too good to pass up.  I have gotten used to fraternal but the option to match is very welcome.

The other 2 yarns are the crazy Zauberball I picked up at my LYS and the one sent by Skacel.  The rainbow brite yarn is being offered to my sister, so is likely to hit the needles soon as a much belated b-day gift (yes I know, its not a birthday gift if you cast on AFTER the day… but the socks’ll still be socks!) The yarn is a 2 ply version of the regular zauberball, with somewhat wilder colorways.  It looks to me like it may also be predictable color orders, in that the plys are offset just a bit and going in the same order – similar colors seem to land next to each other.  This is all just impressions from poking at the ball though, I could be way off.  The color stripes are definitely going to be MUCH wider than trekking XXL stripes, so I’m looking forward to actually playing with loud colors and fun patterns at the same time.

All in all, I’m doomed to not finish old projects for quite some time, I really want to cast on all 4 balls NOW!

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It has sadly been a long time since I blogged…  See I gave this year’s blog another exercise theme, after taking the winter off…..  yeah.  So I have been avoiding blogging because I’ve also been avoiding working out.  I’m back up and going, mostly DDR these days.  I think I managed to burn out on running.  My other summer plan is a season pass to raging waters, complete with lazy river and wave pool to swim in, all cheaper for the whole summer than a month’s gym membership around here.  Why have I gotten abck on the horse? well…  see I took on this young adult client who is workign on all sorts of self control issues, one of which is healthy lifestyle.  Nothing like preaching to guilt you into practicing…  😉

On other news, the kitten, while turning into a cat next month (11 months old) is still a kitten.  She still likes to wrestle bunnies and trip humans going down the stairs (let me show you the bruises…)  The bunnies have still not killed her, but Clipsy is starting to figure the kitten out, and I’m sure we’ll see her in charge any week now.  She’s currently teaching the kitten that bunnies love to be groomed by sticking her little bunny fact under the cat’s chin.  Poor cat doesn’t know in bunny language, that this is a dominance thing.  The bunny with the head on the bottom wins.  The cat, not knowing this, loses every time.  I suspect we will see Clipsy in full charge of the furry household before the summer is over.

And on the knitting front, this is finishing-up-old-projects year.  I’m basically trying to finish an old project for every new one I start, AND actually finish the new ones too.  I have about5 pairs of socks finished and, due to an increase at work and just wanting to veg and knit on weekends, have not yet written them up.  So expect some new socks coming up soon!  2 are old UFO’s, 3 are new.  And I’ve got 3 more UFO’s past the heel on the second sock and almost there!

After brief discussion of Crystal Palace’s new yarn Mini Mochi on socknitters, I was offered some samples as a designer to play with this wonderful new yarn. First the practical details. Mini Mochi is superwash merino-nylon blend yarn, 180 meters to 50 grams so a tiny bit on the thick side compared to other commercial sock yarns. Its single ply and not at all tightly spun, it is very fuzzy and acts a bit like mohair in the knitting – NOT for patterns you will need to rip repeatedly! It also has that property of all single ply yarns I’ve tried – the thickness varies slightly along the strand. I’ve not noted any bad thin spots like I have on other similar yarns tho. And it doesn’t break on the thinnest places when tugged at. The COLORS. Oh, the colors… If you love rich vibrant colors you need this yarn. I got color 105, a ever so lightly muted rich rainbow called “tapestry” – all the colors are bright and gorgeous. This yarn is clearly meant to compete with Noro yarns, and it does so swimmingly. No contest. I’d buy it over the noro sock yarns if it cost 50% more. It is just so much nicer in feel and consistency that there’s no comparison.

Now, the yarn is named for a very cute cat you can see on CP’s website, and they claim that the yarn is as softer than a kitten. I happen to HAVE a kitten so we decided to conduct empirical tests of this claim:

As you can see the yarn is highly kitten approved. I will also note that despite being loosely spun, the end of the yarn survived a kitten mauling in still knitable state. The yarn IS wonderfully soft, softer than most sock yarns I know, soft enough that I can’t put it down, but I’m sorry CP, its not softer than my kitten according to 2 knitters and one husband. I repeat though, its soft and enjoyable to knit with and far far far softer than your basic sock yarns like opal and trekking and lana grossa and the lot. And it doesn’t wake you up at 3 AM just to lick your face because it loves you, so that’s quite a bonus over kittens…

As for knitting… MY GOD I HAVE THE WORLD”S LONGEST SWATCH. By sheer dumb luck my first ball started at a thick place so it took me a while to find the right gauge for my tastes. Besides, I wanted to see how it acted on bigger needles since lately I’ve taken to using sock yarn for lots of projects. I have comments below on various gauges. One note… WASH THIS YARN after swatching. It loosens up a bit the first time it gets wet. My stitch gauge didn’t grow measurably, but the yarn just fuzzed up and relaxed, and the stuff that felt like cardboard before was flexible and flowing, and the stuff that was okay but a little loose was so drapey it would now be suitable for a sweater. I’d say go down 1 needle size from whatever gauge you like in a dry swatch.

So the swatching results I got were:

  • US1/2.25mm: 9 SPI, bulletproof before washing, perfect for this tight gauge queen after.
  • US 1.5/2.5mm: 8.5 SPI, perfect for me before washing, a little loose considering 1 plyness after but perfectly acceptable to me.
  • US 2/2.75mm: 8 SPI, lovely but a little loose for me before washing, and I personally wouldn’t use it for socks that way after washing but I know lots who would.
  • US 2.5/3mm: 7.5 SPI, A little loose for my taste but OK before washing, good for a tight knit sweater after (I’d probably use 3’s or even 4’s for a sweater, really)

Oh yes and know that the yarn really fuzzes up a lot after even a quick swatch wash. I dub this yarn not suitable for complex sock lace – if you DO use it for lace (the slow color changes are marvelous for lace!) use really big needles so the holes don’t get lost in fuzz after washing. Stitch definition is still clearly visible under the fuzz, so its suitable for textures and cables. Oh yes and DO NOT plan to rip this yarn. EVER. It can be done but its fuzzy enough to be difficult.

Overall review? Excellent new yarn, its going to put the competition out of business… My only complains about it are generally that I’m a tad biased against 1 ply yarns. I’m hoping it holds up well to wear, because its going to make supremely lovely and comfortable socks! I’m also wishing for a wider range of colors… I LOVE LOVE LOVE the rich vibrant bright hues but I like variety too! I hope CP keeps the brights and adds a few new shades in addition.

SF AIDS Marathon 2008

On August 3, myself and about 500 other runners will complete the San Francisco marathon in an effort to raise $1,000,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. This is the culmination of nearly 2 years of lifestyle changes and weight loss for me, and a chance for me to use my new-found energy and fitness to give back to my community. I hope you will join me in this effort by reading and offering your support through my blog. If you are able, I also welcome your contribution to the cause! Thanks and keep on running!

Progress Bar:


Marathon time: 5:40:22
Total Raised: $2,815.70

My Sponsors

I'd like to thank the following organizations and individuals for their support of the SF AIDS Foundation!



Dianne Whitfield of the Bunny Hay Loft


Ulf Anvin
Rob Millner
Scott Lamb
Jeff Barlow
Erika Duplantis
Nick and Carol Esser
Kathryn Mercer
Nicole Pauls
Kathryn Coll
Timothy Berger
Susan Druding
Jenny Forman
Kathryn Mulgrew
Jamie Piperberg
Lucia Sanchez
Fran Taillon
Douglas Leeder
Barbara Kirsch
Ellen Atkinson
Valerie Esser
Peter McCourt
Carla Schroder
Sandra Spicher
Matthew Wilson
Valorie Zimmerman
Kathryn Kramer
Roxanne Seabright
Gayathri Swaminathan
Jason Spiro
Dianne Schoenberg

Thank you so very much for your support!

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