Space isn’t a concern in an online magazine, so we have asked each designer to provide a review of the yarn they used for their projects. When designers submit a proposal for a design, we try to accommodate their choice. They are the best judge of what yarn will work best for their projects.
Note that several designers used the same yarn for their projects. The yarn is named first, followed by reviews from both designers.
Baah Yarn Sonoma
100% Superwash Merino
This is the first time I have used Baah Yarns, and I’m very happy I got the chance. Sonoma is a soft, smooth merino wool with a lovely drape. The twist creates clear stitch definition. Baah offers an impressive range of color choices, from distinct variegation with multiple colors to subtle tonal variation. The mint colors used in the Calypso Crescent work perfectly together. As Sonoma is hand-dyed, expect slight color variations among skeins of the same color and plan accordingly. As an added bonus, the company website advises that the yarn can be machine washed in cold water on the gentle cycle and laid flat to dry. Beautiful and practical!
by Mary Forte—Calypso’s Crescent
Berroco Vintage DK
52% Acrylic, 40% Superwash Wool, 8% Nylon
As I designed this skirt, I knew I needed something that was lightweight and long-wearing. I wanted something that felt soft to the touch but was also not a challenge to clean, as it is a child’s garment. So I went perusing my local yarn shops, and that’s when I came across this Berroco yarn. The color is what drew me first. Then I felt it and saw that it is a Superwash wool blend, and I knew it was the one. As I began to knit with it, the stitch definition was so on point that this has now become my favorite yarn for children’s garments!
by CheVon Bell—Cable Panel Skirt
Briar Rose Fibers Fourth of July
100% Merino Wool
I discovered Briar Rose at a fiber festival in 2013 and used their Sea Pearl for a skirt in the February–April issue of Cast On. At the same time, I bought several skeins of Glory Days, a BFL yarn in a DK weight. I never got around to using it until this summer, when I knit a tunic. I had a brilliant idea. I proposed this same tunic for the Winter issue, thinking that since it was half finished I could get a head start on this issue. I outsmarted myself as this base was no longer available. However, I found this yarn which I liked even more. The drape of the fabric is perfect for a loose-fitting tunic, and it was very easy on the hands, something I needed after knitting the skirt in Donegal Tweed. As a hand-painted, marled yarn, there is a range of colors which makes it interesting to knit as did the diagonal slip-stitch pattern I chose. So, what did I do with the tunic I had started? Luckily, I found out that the base was not available before I knit the sleeves, so now I have a sleeveless tunic AND one with sleeves.
by Arenda Holladay—Caret Tunic
Brown Sheep Company, Inc. Nature Spun Worsted
100% US Grown Wool
Brown Sheep wools have been my go-to yarns for many years. I even diverted a cross-country road trip with my husband to travel through Nebraska just to seek out their mill and outlet store located way out in the cornfields. Not only did I have the opportunity to see where these wool yarns originate, but I also met the owner and had a lovely afternoon chat. I strongly support US grown wools, manufactured goods, and family-owned and operated businesses. Yes, there were bags of yarn that followed me home.
For these mittens, I wanted a wool yarn that was soft enough to be worn next to the skin and which would mold to the shape of the wearer’s hands over time for a perfect fit. Natural, non-superwash wools allow the “floats” of stranded yarn to subtly felt to the back of the 2-color knitting, making a wind-proof fabric. This 3-ply yarn gives beautiful stitch definition in stranded colorwork knitting. Brown Sheep has developed an extensive palette of colors for the Nature Spun line, making it easy to select the colors for the two different colorways in this design.
by Terry Morris—Color Joy Mittens
Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima
100% Pima Cotton
This beautiful yarn, made of 100% pima cotton from Peru, was a perfect yarn for the stretchy Muscle T-shirt. By working this light weight yarn at a much larger than normal gauge, an extremely stretchy fabric is produced. The smooth surface of the strand produces a delicate sheen which enhances the drapey fabric for a perfect finish. It is easy to work with, slipping through the fingers with ease, and blocks nicely by steaming. Being worn next to the skin is never a problem with cotton and is especially nice with the smooth, loosely worked fabric that this yarn creates.
by Frank H. Jernigan—Muscle T-shirt
Frabjous Fibers & Wonderland Yarns ‘Mad Hatter’ Mini-Skein Packs
86yds/78m, 28g/1oz per mini-skein (5 skeins to a pack)
100% Superwash Merino
I love mini-skein packs… I’ve seen these yarns at a variety of LYS’s and have always been attracted to them. When I needed to find another yarn to recreate this cowl, this was an easy choice. Well, let me rephrase that… The yarn was an easy choice, the options for colors was another matter. There are a multitude of options available. Monochromatic sets, rainbow sets, coordinating triad sets… it made narrowing the choice a bit of a challenge.
The yarn is also lovely. It has a tight twist, enhancing your stitch definition. It is machine washable. And I didn’t find a single ‘joining knot’ throughout the entire project.
Additionally, with this yarn, the yardage is enough that you could increase the circumference of the cowl quite a bit. I didn’t use more than ¾ of each skein.
by Jon Emery—Quinn, aka the BEC (Brioche-Entrelac Cowl)
Hazel Knits Lively DK
90% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon
Celia McAdam Cahill used Hazel Knits Cadence in the last issue and adored it. I’m the person that orders the yarn for the designs in Cast On, and it can be a very frustrating experience. Wendee at Hazel Knits was so pleasant and responsive I knew I wanted to use their yarn again. Lively DK was perfect for the Confident Beginner pattern, a baby dress. You would not believe how many shades of pink they have. It was a tough decision, but Jolene is just the color a little girl would love.
The Lily of the Valley lace is worked over a background of reverse stockinette, which is reason for panic. It was not a problem at all. The stitch definition is amazing. Celia mentioned the bounce of the yarn, which I definitely wanted for this dress. The drape of the skirt is lovely. I can recommend this yarn for pretty much any project.
by Arenda Holladay—Lily of the Valley
Jade Sapphire Exotic Fibres Silk Cashmere 2-ply
55% Silk, 45% Cashmere
Jade Sapphire’s Silk Cashmere is a luscious blend of two fibers: silk and cashmere. This 2-ply yarn is perfect for a lace project. The blend of silk and cashmere holds stitch patterns beautifully, and the yarn has a lovely halo but does not shed. Very soft, it can be worn next to the skin. The shawl did not retain its size after blocking, but I recommend this yarn for lace knitting.
by Inna Voltchkova—Triangular Shawl
Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift
100% Pure Shetland Wool
As I have reviewed before, Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift is one of my absolute favorite yarns for colorwork. With the constant trapping of carried yarn required for the Armenian knitting technique, Spindrift’s quality makes what might be a tedious process very tactically enjoyable. The base is 100% Shetland Wool, which is very crisp and “grabby,” a characteristic that is very useful for stranded knitting and the unique yarn manipulations often used in stranded techniques. The 2-ply yarn has a matte, rustic hand that blooms when washed to make a uniform, cozy fabric. The resulting fabrics are very light in weight but incredibly warm. Add the trapped yarn layer in Armenian knitting, and the resulting fabric has remarkable heat retention and will keep out many stiff breezes. The color selection of Spindrift is very broad, with a very small gradient between the colorways, making it possible for a knitter to choose a palette that has a very gradual build or decline in color. Even a “solid” color has a bit of interesting variation within it. The color selections are colorfast, so even when using white with black, as in the Lily Armenian Sweater, the two colors do not bleed on each other which gives a designer a lot of freedom. The yarn will felt readily, making it a very good candidate for spit and splice. The 2-ply construction also affords very precise spit and splice transitions. Spindrift’s readiness to felt makes it ideal for steek work—not only can the steek be prepared for cutting simply by crocheting, but even if the steek were to be completely unprepared and cut, very few stitches would be lost. Overall, Shetland Spindrift makes for a lovely knitting experience, from color choice to textile experience, right to the finished object’s ultimate beauty when the yarn is worked up.
by Mary E. Jacobs—Lily Armenian Sweater
Lana Grossa Superbingo
100% Merino Fine Wool
A fantastic yarn to knit with, this bulky merino has great stitch definition and comes in a gazillion beautiful colors. I could hardly choose which one to use for this design! Color #86, Tomato, will be a hot trend for the cool months of 2019 and 2020.
by Melissa Leapman—Super Bingo Top
Miss Babs Big Silk
540yds/ 494m, 250g/8.8oz
60% Merino wool, 40% Cultivated Silk
Miss Babs’ Big Silk yarn is aptly named. This yarn is a joy to work with. Soft and silky-smooth, the yarn has very nice bounce and give. Big Silk is a worsted weight yarn, and it comes in very large skeins of 540 yards. It has a lovely sheen, due to the silk content, and, when knit at an appropriate gauge, has a very nice drape as well. It would make for wonderful cowls or oversized shawls or even sweaters!
Big Silk is available in a wide range of colors, from semi-solids to variegated. Care is hand wash and dry flat. Some of the darker colors can run, so be sure to work up a gauge swatch to test for color fastness.
Big Silk is a web-exclusive yarn; therefore, Miss Babs does not bring it for sale to shows. If you want to purchase it, you have to purchase it online. I highly recommend trying it, and it’s one I will definitely use again!
by Heather Storta—Square Buttoned Entrelac Pillow and Entrelac Neck Pillow
Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio Worsted
100% Superwash Merino Wool
This is my first experience with Neighborhood Fiber Co, and I must say that I am smitten! I absolutely adore the Studio Worsted that I was fortunate enough to work with for this project. The colors are spectacular. They are bright and vibrant, with just a subtle variegation speckled here and there. The wool itself is soft and full of loft and bounce with super stitch definition. This yarn was a joy to work with from start to finish.
Each skein is hand-dyed so make sure to obtain enough to finish your project.
by Traci Verdin—Keyholes Scarf
Purl Soho Mulberry Merino
80% Extra Fine Merino, 20% Mulberry Silk
The Pleated Lace Cardigan in this issue makes a lot of demands of the yarn: it must have excellent stitch definition to show off the under-layer of the pleat, drape well to allow the pleat to fall apart and reveal the underlying lace, and not be so heavy that the back yoke with the pleat begins to sag. Mulberry Merino delivered perfectly on all counts. The silky-soft yarn has a slightly crepe-like appearance that suggests the springiness of merino. The silk content counteracts the merino’s bounce, allowing lace patterns to open up beautifully and helping the pleat to drape open in the back. The Red Pine color is simultaneously vibrant while not being gaudy, producing a sweater that will be the center of attention.
by Ashwini Jambhekar—Pleated Lace Cardigan
Rowan Felted Tweed
50% Wool, 25% Alpaca, 25% Viscose
My goal with the S’mores Cowl was to create a stranded colorwork design that would be approachable for new colorwork knitters, so I wanted a yarn that could be knit at a larger gauge. Rowan yarns are known for their lovely color palette, and the 40 shades of Felted Tweed are no exception. The yarn is soft and wonderful to knit with, and the subtle tweed flecks lend a lovely depth to the colors. It is on the lighter side for a DK yarn; I ended up going down a needle size from my original swatch. The alpaca and viscose content give it a bit more drape than a pure wool; and while it doesn’t have quite the same bloom when blocked as more traditional yarns for colorwork, it has a pleasant fuzziness that helps to blend the colors.
by Kerry Bullock-Ozkan—S’mores Cowl
95yds/87 meters, 50g/1.75oz
100% Extra Fine Superwash Merino
Sugarbush Crisp is a lovely yarn. It is plush and soft, perfect for a cozy garment that will be worn next to the skin. The yarn is offered in a wide range of beautiful colors. For the Tessera cowl, I used two contrasting colors, and the colors did not bleed on washing. The yarn is a very generous DK weight, and gives excellent stitch definition. The merino is very soft, and the yarn has an almost springy feel to it. It is also a superwash, which is an added plus. I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn and am already dreaming of more projects with it! The makers of Sugarbush yarn have called the yarn “a symbol of Canada—hearty, bold and a wonder to behold,” and I couldn’t agree more.
by Manisha Gajria—Tessera Cowl
Tahki Yarns Donegal Tweed
100% Pure New Wool
This is a homespun tweed yarn which produces a rustic fabric. It was exactly what I was looking for when designing this skirt. I wanted to design a project around some large Bakelite button I purchased at TNNA. A pleated skirt was the answer.
Donegal Tweed has 32 colors, and I was having a terrible time picking a color which would coordinate with the buttons. Colors can look different on computer monitors, so I sent a photograph of the buttons to Tahki, and after a consultation with their design team, they recommended Dark Taupe, which was perfect.
For knitters used to working with merino or other soft yarns, Donegal Tweed can be a bit of a shock. It is a single-ply yarn with colored nupps and the occasional bit of hay or some other agricultural product. This means it is a bit hard on the hands. However, it does soften up when blocked and produces a lovely drape. A word of warning: as a single, it does break easily. I would recommend using a different yarn for seaming.
by Arenda Holladay—Faux Pleat Skirt
Universal Yarn Bella Cash Worsted
60% Fine Merino Superwash Wool, 30% Nylon, 10% Cashmere
I wanted to try this yarn because I love Superwash wool and thought the addition of cashmere would result in a soft and comfortable pillow. It is indeed extremely soft and luxurious and a joy to work with. I found it a perfect choice for hand or machine knitting. I chose colors with a soft muted look: Asparagus and Cabernet. For a more traditional Christmas look, try the color Apple, with Forest for the ribbon.
by Kathy Perry—Buttoned Up Ribbon Pillow
100% Ovis 21 Ultimate Merino Wool
From its home in the Pacific Northwest, Woolfolk Yarns is led by Kristin Ford, whose Danish heritage contributes to making Woolfolk the luxury-conscious brand that it is today. Woolfolk combines the highest quality wool with ethical, sustainable practices. Their trademarked fiber, Ultimate Merino, is the result of innovative efforts of farmers to produce the very best wool fiber while being land stewards of the Patagonian Grasslands. If you’ve not seen a yarn label with 100% Ovis 21 Ultimate Merino Wool before, the “Ovis 21” is a network of people who specialize in Holistic Resource Management. When you buy a hank of FAR, 1% of profit goes to Ovis 21.
‘Far,’ the Danish word for sheep, is a luxury worsted/Aran-weight chainette yarn. (To read more about chainette yarns, see Davos Pullover.) It is lofty, airy, and soft enough to be worn next to the skin. It does grow (how much depends on your tension and stitch patterns) during blocking so be sure to use the gauge after blocking. You can easily work up a nice-looking, well-behaved swatch at 22 sts/4”, but you will not enjoy the full effect of the lofty air pockets in Far’s construction. Knitting at a looser gauge of 16-17 sts/4” allows the yarn to puff up a bit, creating a more spongy, airy fabric. Far is put up in hanks and comes in 25 subtle colors.
by Donna Estin—Davos Pullover
58% Merino, 22% Nylon, 15% Brushtail Possum Down, 5% Baby Alpaca
In the Fall 2019 issue, I used this yarn for a pair of mitts. Since I had two skeins left, I decided to make a matching hat, so clearly, I like this yarn. The possum down and alpaca combination produces a very warm fabric, perfect for a hat. Now I just have to decide who will get the mitt and hat set for a holiday present!
by Arenda Holladay—Slip Stitch Cable Hat
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