I'm still crocheting, and how. I finished the sweater for Mom, which she loves, and then started another project, a tank top thing that is supposed to be part of a two-piece sweater set but won't be. It won't be because (1) I don't have enough yarn for both pieces and (2) I only want the tank top. I'm not really a twin set kind of gal, not that there is anything wrong with that. They just never look the way they are supposed to when I'm wearing them. Anyway, I finished that and in fact wore it to Portland so a few people have seen it already. For the rest of you, if you are at all interested, I'll try to get a picture up soon. It is worked in a linen blend yarn called Rowan Damask. It was a bit like working with twine, if you can picture that, but the linen softened up tremendously the more I worked with it and should continue to do so with wear which will make it a very comfy piece. I'm not entirely satisfied with the way the armholes turned out. Well, it's all a learning process.
Next up is this t-shirt which I'm doing in FibraNatura Equisite Bamboo, a bamboo/Merino wool blend in a blue/green shade they call "Winter Sky." I know, bamboo doesn't sound much like something you want in a t-shirt. Well, they don't spin it up into yarn straight from the branch but rather put it through a process that breaks down the fiber. What you get at the end is an incredibly soft yarn that feels something like cashmere. No, really; I've handled some pure bamboo yarn and it's fabulous. In addition to its softness, bamboo is also a fiber that has excellent drape and "breathes," much like cotton. Since they are both cellulose (plant) fibers, that makes sense. The downside is that it doesn't contain much elasticity and can stretch out of shape over time. That's where blends come in handy, combining the attributes of different fibers. In this case, the cool softness of bamboo and the soft elasticity of Merino wool. If you are thinking of wool as that hot, scratchy stuff, then you haven't given Merino wool a try.
It turns out that wool can vary in texture much the way hair does among people. Human hair, when viewed through a microscope, is composed of layers, like scales. The number and size of the scales decides whether your hair is frizzy, curly or straight. It's all a matter of genetics. The same is true with wool; it varies depending on what breed of sheep it comes from. Merino is a very soft, smooth fiber that still retains the best characteristics of wool, i.e. durable and elastic.
To get back to the project at hand, I'm very pleased with how the Exquisite Bamboo handles. Although it's nice and soft, the yarn is not "fuzzy" so the stitches have good definition. Initially the yarn had a tendency to split as I worked with it, my hook catching some of the fiber strands but missing others. Now that I've done several rows of it, however, I'm encountering less of that. My fingers seem to have made the necessary adjustment. I would tell someone who is working with any new yarn for the first time to be patient and give it a chance. Eventually you get used to working with it. As you can see by this swatch, the Winter Sky is a variegated (multi-colored) yarn. In some yarns the dyeing process for variegated results in a too rigid patterning. In this case, I think it just adds some interest. I like the shading of blues and I think they named it perfectly.