Monday, January 22, 2007

Secret Pal 9 packages!

Look what arrived here in the post for me last week...


... all from my fabulous Secret Pal for Secret Pal 9! :)

Firstly, there is some hand-painted 100% merino yarn in a stunning colourway called 'Ionian Sea'...


This yarn is from Painted Yarns, which sadly has now had to close due to the health problems of the artist, Virginia van Santen -- I send her my best wishes and hope she recovers soon. Not only are Virginia's yarns stunning works of art which are painted on the very best quality yarns, but the way she uses them in her own projects is truly inspirational -- check out the entries in her blog if you haven't discovered them already. I swear my Secret Pal must be psychic as not only is it a colourway I really love, but I've been wanting some of Virginia's yarn for the longest time.

This yarn is amazingly soft and beautifully spun, and I have a 130g (260m) skein to play with, which according to the information that used to be on the website until yesterday is...

"A silky smooth 100% merino with a sheen. It is machine washable, and has an amazing flexibility. It will knit up on 2.5 mm needles as a sock yarn, and on 4.5 mm needles as a worsted weight yarn. Currently available in 130 gm-260 m (284 yds) skeins, and one is sufficient for a pair of socks."

Virginia also has some advice about working with painted yarns on her website, which I'm going to copy here for now -- I hope she won't mind me having done this -- as I'm afraid it might disappear like a lot of her site has today, and it's really great general advice for working with hand-painted yarns. There's a link back to the page on her website above for everyone to check out the original page.

"No two skeins of hand painted yarn turn out the same. Painted yarns can create a beautiful painterly effect on a garment that you can maximize if you do not follow the usual advice of alternating two skeins and working in imaginary stripes. I work with one skein, but I integrate the second skein before the first one is done, thus blurring the line between the two. When the first skein is down to a very small ball, and you can see that it is going to run out soon, start the second skein. Work several rows of each ball alternately until the old ball is finished. Then continue with the second ball. I have a sweater whose two sleeves are totally different, one of them concentrating the lighter colors, and the other concentrating the darker colors. I love it.

"When choosing a stitch pattern, choose anything but st st (stockinette stitch), which creates lines of colors, resulting in stripes not much different from standard variegated yarns. Do something that breaks up the lines. Even a simple seed stitch does magic with painted yarns. Try a chevron stitch or a slip stitch pattern. A lace stitch also works well, as the holes formed by the lace patten break up the straight lines of stocking stitch."

-- Virginia van Santen

As if this wasn't enough already, my Pal also sent me a huge hank of Grignasco 'MerinoSilk' in a fabulous dark purple/burgundy colour...


This yarn is going to make an amazingly soft shawl or wrap, and as it's a 100g (1400m) hank, I'm going to be able to knit something nice and big with it! :)

And then there's a little sheep finger puppet to play with...


Isn't he cute? :)

And finally, there's a beautiful card, handmade just for me by my Secret Pal...


Judging by all the fabulous little handmade things my Pal has sent me, I think she must be very skilled in a number of crafts. :)

And, believe it or not, that wasn't all. The following day, the other pack my Secret Pal had told me to expect arrived too! :)


This pack included a pattern for a super-cute Anime character bonnet...


... which actually has sizes that range from newborn to adult! :)

A bar of chocolate flavoured with chili...


Chocolate and chili? What is not to love about this combination? :) And 'Hot Chocolate' is just such a fun name for it too! If I hadn't been food poisoned at the restaurant we took my daughter to for her 21st, I'm sure this chocolate would already be long gone. ;)

And finally, there was another of my Pal's beautiful, handmade cards...


The little Japanese girls on these cards are just adorable. :)

One thing I've forgotten to mention until now about the packages that I've received from my Secret Pal was that each of them has had a really cute little drawing on the wrapping...


... so I can always tell straight away that a package is from my Secret Pal. :)

These two packages were so worth the wait! :)

I feel very spoiled! Thank you, Secret Pal! :)

And the really amazing thing is that my Pal has just let me know that there is another package on its way to me now. Oh, my! :)

(I think my smile muscles are all worn out. ;) )

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