Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Blackthorns Arrive

Yes, here I am again. I’m trying to make up for lost time. Am I succeeding? As usual, I actually need to be out in the garden quick-quick while the weather is cooperating. Yet here I am. I should learn better, shouldn’t I? Yesterday I stalled just a teensy bit too long and the very second I stepped out the door it started raining! So instead I worked in the “grow-op” and transplanted my replacement coreopsis into larger pots. Then I went up to the studio and finished sewing the hood on the RoseBunting. Nearly 2 hours after it started, right in the middle of sewing a seam on the body lining, I noticed that the rain had stopped. I stopped sewing instantly with the needle still in the fabric and dashed outside! (Yes, the sewing is still there waiting for me to come back.) Got quite a lot of the front garden fixed up before I wore out so I feel much better about the late start. I hope to carry on today from where I left off. Though it’s not the reason why I garden, it’s still so satisfying to hear the positive comments from neighbours walking by.

Another good thing about yesterday was that I got my 2 sets of size 0 (2mm) custom 5” length Blackthorn dpns in the mail. Yippee! They managed to beat a possible Canada Post strike which could start on Friday (if both sides don’t develop some common sense in the meantime). The service from Chris at My Favorite Thimble, the manufacturer, was very prompt and friendly. These carbon fibre needles are very different from any other brand:


They are a matte black with a slight texture that you can feel as you knit with them. Definitely not slippery! They are only slightly flexible (more similar to hardwood than bamboo) and they also warm up in your hands very quickly. They are very pointy!

BlackthornClover compare

That’s a Blackthorn on the left and Clover Takumi bamboo on the right, both size US0 or 2mm and larger than life-size. (From the photo they look like different sizes but they aren’t; I measured with several of my needle gauges.) Surprisingly Blackthorns aren’t really too pointy – at least for me. No ouchie fingertips anyhow! One tip did feel a little more sharp than the others so I used a very fine polishing paper to smooth it a little more. Of course there’s a Ravelry group dedicated to these needles. On the discussion board there Chris recommends if you’re having too much grabbiness to use a nail buffer with the smoothing side on the needle tips and then stropping the needles on the buffing surface and finishing up on the polishing surface. She also suggests if you are getting any smudging on your hands from the needles’ surface you can use a little car polish applied with a paper towel and then finally wipe down with a clean paper towel. Good to know.

Of course I immediately cast on for baby socks. I’m calling these Clown Urp:


So far I like these dpns a lot! They allow me to knit tighter and still get the tips through the stitches, similar to metal needles but stitches don’t fall off the needles accidentally. There’s a bit of a “skritch” feeling but it doesn’t seem particularly annoying to me. As with all knitting needles, every knitter has their own preferences. I am one that doesn’t like blunt tips or very slippery dpns and these are quite the opposite. I also love that you can get custom lengths. 5 inches is my favourite for socks and gloves while 6 inches just feels too long and uncomfortable (unless I’m knitting very large socks). And I love that they make down to 0000/1.25mm sizes. Skinny but not metal. Softer materials just don’t hold up in those finer sizes. Ask me how I know. Now I want some 00/1.75mm ones too but I think I’ll hold off for a while. These black lovelies are definitely pricey at approximately 4 times the cost of the Clover Takumi dpns including an extra charge for custom sizes and I insist on having 2 identical sets. Hopefully they last at least 4 times as long! They are supposed to be very durable and Chris already told me that single replacements are available if I lose one. Also good to know. FYI there will be a 2.25mm size added very soon. I know a lot of sock knitters prefer that size. They must knit tighter than I do or like their socks looser since I use the same common 64-stitch cuff.

So now it’s time to get moving so I don’t end up with a repeat of yesterday. I have marigolds and lobelia to plant and more weeds to attack. I also need to finish sewing the RoseBunting so it can go to its recipient on Friday. Plus I had a teensy leetle problema with my Abotanicity Tunic sleeves which were not coming out the same length. I’m going to have to perform a fudge or be reduced to frogging one back and finishing it again. Apparently even with a stitch counter’s assistance, I can’t count decrease rounds correctly. Sheesh. Perhaps the problem stems from watching episodes of HBO’s wonderful TV series “Treme” on DVD while knitting?

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