Sunday, October 07, 2007

Master Blends

I do believe that wine is the perfect metaphor for yarn. Of course, I also believe that linoleum is the perfect metaphor for yarn but I digress. My business trip to the Okanagan Wine Festival was wonderful. The highlight was touring the Sandhill vineyards which reside on a mountainside in what's officially a desert. The grapes have to dig down deep to get water and there's a bear that wanders down from the mountain to nosh on the grapes. This must be the bear equivalent of a Casino buffet.

The company I work for makes Sandhill wines. Head winemaker Howard Soon took us into the vineyard to taste the grapes for ourselves right off of the vine. He taught us what to look for in a grape that's ready to be harvested.

Sandhill is an interesting wine brand because it's all about the blend. Howard insists that although each of the Sandhill wines is a blend of grape varietals - they all must come from a single vineyard. This is a bold position to take because there's no blending of other wines to compensate for a rogue frost or less than stellar growing season. The wine drinker truly gets a sense of the terroir in every sip. The blend is the magic that pulls it all together.

For those of us who love artisan yarn (and if you're reading blogs about knitting I'm going to assume you're past the 99 cent per ball acrylic stage)- nothing makes a yarn sing more than a beautiful blend of colours. There are two "new to me" yarns that I've discovered that really qualify for artisan status.

First up is the new Noro offering called Cashmere Island. This is a blend of 60% wool, 30% cashmere and 10% nylon. It knits to a dk weight. I am often attracted to the designs that Jane Ellison creates for Noro and this cardigan on the cover of the new Noro book caught my eye right away. It's called Manhattan. Of course, I needed something straightforward to knit on the plane to B.C and this fit the bill. The edges are ruffled and smaller needles are used to cinch in the waist with a ribbed belt that extends out. I choose the same

colourway used in the book and if you've ever gazed at a ridge of trees in the fall and wished you could capture the colours in a yarn - this is it. Shades of chocolate, plum, sage meld together like magic.

When I'm not feeling up the Cashmere Island I can't stop touching the Baby Alpaca Silk I just got from Lisa Souza. I ordered this to make Roam from Knitty by Laura Chau of Cosmicpluto Knits. She used Great Big Sea Silk in her sample and though I love Hand Maiden - it was a tad spendy for me. Lisa Souza is my "go to gal" for amazing substitutions. This is a blend of Alpaca and Silk that will drape beautifully and the mahogany colourway will hopefully mimic the bronzes, chocolates and blues in Laura's version. I'm eager to have a nice easy sweater to throw on with jeans. Roam fits the bill.

So what wine do we pour to salute those fiber artists who turn yarn into a work of art? Why Sandhill One of course. This wine stole my heart because it's a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec with aromas of spice and red berries. On the palate, there is a generous dollop of sweet fruit - black cherries, red plums and of course like my new yarns ...notes of chocolate.


vanessa said...

ooh lala, i can't wait to see your roam!

anmiryam said...

I love that Jane Ellison sweater. Maybe I'll have to put that into the ever expanding queue.

The vineyard tour sounds like fun -- I assume it came with a tasting?

Hope said...

The wine sounds heavenly. I'm gonna have to get me some of that. Oh yeah, the yarn too.

Dr. Steph said...

Nice yarns there. That Jane Ellison one is something I haven't seen. Now more to but on my to do list.

We can be roam buddies--I love your colourway.