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.
A Hundred Ravens Vanir
100% Merino Wool
Vanir is a superwash merino wool with a bit of the bounce characteristic of merino and lacking the limpness associated with superwash yarns. In contrast to the more rustic yarn I used for the men’s version of this sweater, this yarn is soft and smooth. The minimal halo helps to showcase complex stitch patterns, and both heavily patterned pieces as well as stockinette are easy to wet-block to the desired shape. The strands are well-plied together, preventing splitting and allowing me to rip back with ease. The color, Faun, is a lovely neutral with undertones of pink that allow the cable patterns to really pop. This yarn was a pleasure to knit, and I could even work all cables without a cable needle. The color and texture of the yarn were perfect for my feminine take on a men’s sweater.
by Ashwini Jambhekar—Women’s Honeycomb Sweater
A Thing for String Merino/Yak/Silk DK
65% Superwash Merino, 20% Silk, 15% Yak Down
This wonderful hand-dyed yarn provides a truly luxurious knitting experience. Hand dyed by A Thing for String owner Micki Christensen in Arlington, TX, this DK is a perfect DK weight luxury yarn. It flows through your fingers when knitting and works up quickly and effortlessly. It is soft enough to be worn next to the skin, and the yak down provides extra warmth and a slight black-halo effect. Silk, with its light-reflective properties, gives a little shine to the stitches. Finished garments will be warmer than wool without the bulk and may hang just slightly heavier. As you can expect with a hand-dyed yarn, the colors are rich, deep, and impressive. For a hand-dyed yarn, the color is remarkably even, with no blotches or bare spots. Even though the yarn contains superwash merino wool, the finished product must be hand washed. Yarns are hand dyed in small batches and custom colors are possible.
by Donna Estin—Loudoun Pullover
Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light
50% Super Fine Alpaca, 50% Peruvian Wool
If you are looking for a basic workhorse yarn with a little bit of luxury, Ultra Alpaca Light from Berroco could be it. Blending alpaca with wool creates the best of both worlds: the springiness of wool with the drape and luxury of alpaca. I work in combination knitting, with stitches facing left and right. With springy wools, this sometimes creates a wonky surface that needs blocking to make the stitches line up. Ultra Alpaca Light has enough drape that my stitches looked fine without blocking. Since alpaca is warmer than wool, this yarn creates cushy garments ready to fend off whatever meanness winter can create. The yarn is a 3-ply, producing reasonable stitch definition. And it comes in over two dozen tempting colors. Care is hand wash and lay flat to dry, but that’s a small inconvenience for softness, warmth, and uniform stitches without blocking.
by Jolie A. Elder— Legerdemain Reversible Cabled Scarf
Berroco Ultra Wool
100% Superwash Wool
This yarn is perfect for a child’s sweater, being warm but not scratchy. Your kid will not complain wearing this 100% wool, and you won’t complain having to clean it, since it’s a superwash. It works up fast and, being fairly tightly spun, it doesn’t split while you work it. It creates a smooth, even fabric with a very light nap that I suspect will also not pill easily. But what I loved most about this yarn was the color. Orange-dyed wool can sometimes be quite dead. But this Nasturtium (#3336) is a rich, lively orange, leaning just a bit toward red. It’s bright, but not shockingly so. I can just imagine a happy little boy playing in his happy little orange sweater.
by Frank H. Jernigan—Ziggy-zaggy Sweater
Blue Sky Fibers Alpaca Silk
50% Alpaca, 50% Silk
This yarn is the height of luxury. With incredible softness and drape, it is a real treat for your skin. It has incredible stitch definition, so beware that your stitches are perfectly even! It is also a little on the small side for a sport, so the needles have to be quite small to provide adequate cover.
by Adrienne Larsen—Orbit Turtleneck
Brooklyn Tweed Loft
100% Wyoming-grown Targhee-Columbia wool
The burnt orange color of Patrick’s Vest is what led me to Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft. Although it’s listed in the Ravelry database as a fingering weight, swatching showed that it worked up larger than some of my sport-weight samples and would be a great fit for a man’s vest. This two-ply, slightly tweedy yarn has a bit of a felted feel to it and would be great for colorwork. It’s available in 40 colors! In a textured pattern such as this one, it lacks the crispness of a gansey yarn that makes patterns ‘pop.’ Instead, the yarn softens the patterns and gives a nice comfy look to the garment. The occasional variation in thickness adds to the charm. “Rustic” is the word that best describes this yarn.
The yarn was a delight to knit with, but sewing the seams required constant vigilance. The yarn pulls apart easily (no scissors were needed in the making of the vest, even to finish off tail weaves). Adding in some extra twist and using 2-ft lengths kept the unintentional breaks to a reasonable number.
by Carolyn Vance—Patrick’s Vest
The Copper Corgi Savannah Sock
100% Superwash Merino
Sarah DeRoo is the talent behind The Copper Corgi, based in Savannah, Georgia. Her business is named after her copper-colored corgi, named Penny. Sarah dyes yarn in a range of yarn bases, from lace to bulky (as well as spinning fiber!) Her color sense really appeals to me—with many colorways that are inspired by nature. Her tonals are lovely, but so are her variegated yarns. I find it very hard to narrow my color choices down—I want all of the colors!
Savannah Sock is a superwash Merino wool sock base, with a tight 2-ply construction. It is a pleasure to knit with and blooms very nicely when blocked. It is an excellent yarn for socks, but it would make a fabulous yarn for fingering weight shawls as well since it has such a nice drape to it.
The Copper Corgi might not be a yarn company you have heard of, but if you can find it, you should definitely give it a try! It is stocked in yarn shops up and down the East Coast and can be ordered directly from Sarah’s shop on Etsy. (I am also very fond of her Jones Street yarns, by the way!)
by Heather Storta—Bavarian Columns Socks
Dragonfly Fibers Valkyrie
100% Superwash Wool
I was walking along, minding my own business, at Stitches West when I saw it. The perfect buttery yellow. Not too greenish, not too bright, not too washed out. But I shouldn’t be surprised—Dragonfly Fibers is known for their wonderful colors. Yellow is a tough one, but the Buttermilk colorway I chose for the Zephyr cardigan fills the bill, and the Valkyrie base makes the colorway shine.
The Valkyrie base is listed on the website as a worsted at 4 to 5 sts per inch on a 7 to 9 needle, but I liked the fabric resulting from the larger needles. It is a yarn that really emphasizes stitch definition and would likely be my first choice for an intricately cabled sweater. On the other hand, stitch definition can be a double-edged sword in that you have to pay attention to your tension when working in a simple stockinette lest any rowing also show.
The feel of the yarn as you knit it is also a little deceiving. It almost seems a bit rough, but don’t let that fool you. Run your swatch (or better yet, your sweater) through a wash and block, and the fabric shows its beautiful next-to-skin softness. Yum.
by Celia McAdam Cahill—Zephyr Cardigan
Drops Merino Extra Fine
Drops Merino Extra Fine is a very smooth, soft yarn. I’ve used this yarn for multiple projects, and I am always very happy with the result. The six plies are evenly twisted into a springy yarn that provides attractive stitch definition for Bavarian Travelling Stitches. It comes in 35 mainly earth-tone colors that will outlive passing fashion trends—an important consideration for any handknit project. Drops Merino also comes in baby and worsted weights and is very reasonably priced, even when it’s not on sale.
by Mary Forte—Morro Bay Golf Club Covers
100% Extra Fine Superwash Merino
Red is my favorite color, so I fell in love with this Garnet. This yarn has a wide range of colors, is easy to work with and care for, and has good stitch definition. I had not used it before and would definitely use it again.
by Christina Hanger—Bavarian Sampler Cowl
55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon
As soon as I decided to design this baby sweater, with sizes ranging from 6 months to 12 years, I thought of HiKoo Simplicity. I’d seen the yarn at TNNA and had been looking for the perfect project to showcase the yarn. I don’t normally use acrylic fiber, but for this sweater, with its complicated stitch pattern, I wanted it to be an heirloom piece. I envisioned some loving grandmother taking the time to knit it and a harried mother throwing it in the wash with tee shirts and socks.
Simplicity has a lovely hand. It made all of those twisted and traveling stitches worked on the WS more bearable. The only problem I had was selecting the colors for the sweaters. Simplicity has 60 solid colors and 11 multis (which I don’t recommend for this project!). Bavarian patterns require lighter colors and I loved Simply Sage and Amber Waves.
Now all I need to find is two special boys to wear these sweaters!
by Arenda Holladay—Baby and Big Boy Bavarian Sweaters
Kate Davies Designs Milarrochy Tweed
70% wool, 30% mohair
Earlier this year I joined a Kate Davies club featuring this new yarn. It’s the first time I’ve ever joined such a club, but I’m a fan of her designs and looked forward to some new patterns and samples of the yarn.
Milarrochy Tweed is a light fingering-weight yarn that is single-ply and woolen spun. There are variations in thickness, but the yarn maintains its strength through the mohair fiber. Each color has neps and flecks throughout, giving it a tweedy appearance.
The yarn is produced by a small, community-based company in Donegal, Ireland, that has been in operation for decades.
Milarrochy Tweed is recommended for colorwork, creating either bold contrasts or subtle tonal effects. The original 12 colors were chosen to create a balance between deep, mid, and light shadings.
I found the yarn a perfect choice to create a wrap with a rustic feel and a flow of colors that was distinctive without overwhelming the design.
by Michael Harrigan—Contemporary Hap
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted Yarn
100% Peruvian Highland Wool
I wanted a wool yarn that could provide good stitch definition, durability, and would felt nicely. Wool of the Andes Worsted yarn was a good choice, with a vast color selection and surprising softness. A few online reviews complained of yarn splitting, but I didn’t find this to be an issue.
I love tulips in the spring. Their colors are vibrant. For the tulip motif on my cowl, I chose the color Victorian for the petals and Pampas Heather for the leaves and stems. Victorian is not too bright, just enough to stand out, and Pampas Heather provides beautiful depth. The main color of the cowl is neutral, and the three colors used for linen stitch around the cowl bordering the tulips are earth tones.
by Jocelyn Seal—Tulip Garden Felted Cowl
100% Superwash wool
Mecha is a single-ply, superwash, bulky yarn, which is a rare combination of traits. Often single ply yarns are easily pulled apart; but Mecha is strong as well as soft, and its bulky weight makes it quick to knit as well as warm to wear. All of these qualities make it a great choice for knitting for kids—it’s soft but durable, cozy but lightweight, and knits up quickly enough that it will still fit by the time you finish! I have to admit, I was skeptical about its washability, especially with a design using such a dark and such a light color. However, I was so pleasantly surprised when the swatch I washed showed no bleeding at all. (I was too afraid to wash the sweater without trying the swatch first!) It is machine washable, but since the sweater was child-sized, it was easier for me to hand wash in warm water and lay it flat to dry. I found no difference in gauge between the pre-washing and post-washing swatch.
In terms of color selection, I wanted two colors with a great deal of contrast to show the colorwork. The design was inspired by a birch tree trunk; and although blue is not the color of a tree, I thought the Prussian Blue and Natural had the look I wanted. Be aware (and you may notice in the pictures) that the yarn has subtle variations and flecks, which are different from skein to skein. I like the depth this adds, but if you find it troublesome, carefully examine the skeins as some have more variations than others.
by Bonnie Franz—Birch Pullover
Miss Babs Yowza! Whatta Skein!
100% Superwash Merino Wool
Miss Babs Yowza is a #3 Light (light worsted weight) yarn that is machine washable on gentle cycle. The company recommends that the yarn be dried flat for best results. Miss Babs Yowza has a stitch gauge range of 18-22 sts/4” on US 6-8 needles and is most often used as a substitute for #3 Light (dk weight) yarn. It is a 4-ply construction, very smooth, and provides excellent stitch definition. It is hand-dyed in either variegated or semi-solid (monochromatic) colorways. There are an amazing number of colors to choose from, and all are available to see on the Miss Babs website. Since Yowza is hand-dyed, there can be slight color variations between skeins. So if more than one skein is needed for a project, it is recommended to alternate skeins throughout the project. It is sold in hanks and must be wound before use.
Yowza is soft, has a very smooth hand, and provides excellent stitch definition. It is recommended for garments, shawls, wraps, and baby clothes.
This is one of my favorite yarns from Miss Babs, and I highly recommend it. I have made numerous items with it and have never been disappointed. Because stitch definition and also softness were important in this particular design, Yowza was my first yarn choice. The stitch pattern is obvious, but the result is not a stiff fabric. I wanted a cowl that showed off the design but was comfortable to wear.
by Binka Schwan—Cowl Three Ways
RedFish DyeWorks 2 Ply
300yds/273m, 50g/1.76 oz
50% Silk, 50% Merino Wool
If you look at my Ravelry projects, you’ll find that I love working with RedFish DyeWorks yarns, especially for stranded designs. This is the seventh stranded sweater I have designed using their yarns, which proves that I must have excellent vision (no) or that I have a screw loose (probably). The 2 Ply isn’t for everyone since the gauge for this sweater is 44 sts over 4″. There are two reasons I continue to design these sweaters: the colors and the resulting fabric. Elff, the dyer, works with me on the colors. Color isn’t my thing, so I rely heavily on her judgment. Generally, stranded sweaters are heavy and, unless you live in a climate where heavy sweaters are a necessity, why would you bother to knit one? The fabric created in these stranded sweaters is heavenly. It is light as air and incredibly soft. Yes, it pills, but it is merino and silk. I’m willing to put up with it. I lend these sweaters to RedFish for the fiber shows where they sell their yarn. Stop by and feel the sweaters. You’ll see why I gave up two months of my life this summer to design and knit this sweater.
Should you be tempted to knit this sweater, RedFish has put together kits for the yarn. If you don’t like these colors, Sandy and Elff are happy to work with knitters; just contact them at email@example.com.
by Arenda Holladay—Bird Lover Tunic
Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted
100% Superwash Wool
I’m always looking for smooth, worsted weight yarn that makes up with great stitch definition. This yarn fits the bill. It’s nicely spun with some loft and very little fuzziness. There are many clear colors, including the “cream” which is perfect for the Bavarian Twisted and Traveling Stitches patterns. It makes into a very classic color and texture. Since it’s superwash, it’s great for this hat as it can be washed without fuss.
Moonstone, which is a natural grey, undyed color, can work despite being a bit heathery. The stitch definition is also very good.
by Laura Farson—Bavarian Traveling Stitches Hat
Shibui Knits Lunar
60% Extra Fine Merino, 40% Mulberry Silk
Shibui Knits Silk Cloud
60% Kid Mohair, 40% Silk
Shibui Knits is well known for their fine silks and linens, with pattern support that really emphasizes multiple bases used together. It’s a great concept because it significantly extends Shibui’s yarn offerings by joining yarns to create lots of different textures and drapes.
I jumped right on that bandwagon by using Lunar and Silk Cloud, two laceweight silk blend yarns, worked together for my Evora pullover in the greyish blue Shore colorway. The Lunar base is a smooth, plied silk-merino, while the Silk Cloud is a fluffy mohair with more silk than most similar yarns. The combination of the two creates an opaque yet drapey body for the Evora pullover while still working at a fairly fine gauge.
Worked alone, a mohair-silk is going to be a little tricky, and Silk Cloud is no exception. You have to accept that your tension is going to be a little uneven, and unraveling is difficult if you make a mistake—that’s just the nature of mohair. But I think it’s worth it as the fabric you get is just heavenly, light and warm.
by Celia McAdam Cahill—Evora Pullover
Universal Yarn Deluxe DK Superwash
100% Superwash Wool
This DK superwash yarn was a bit of a surprise to me. It was fuzzier than most superwash wools I have seen before. On the positive side, that means it could be worked like a light worsted at 21 stitches per 4” because the yarn filled the spaces, making a solid fabric. It also meant that I could use spit splicing to connect new strands, which usually does not work with superwash yarn. The down side is that I suspect it will not give as good a performance in machine washing. I plan to be safe and hand wash it. The yarn is softer than, say, the yarns of Scotland and Ireland, but not as soft as the Berroco superwash which I also review in this issue. It also varies in thickness from a very thin DK at one extreme to a light worsted at the other. The combination of the slight coarseness with the varied thickness gives the final fabric a textured, rustic look. The Icy Grey color (#832) that I chose was a perfect grey-blue: light, but not bright like a baby blue would be. The subdued color is great for the man who does not want every eye to turn and look when he walks into a room. And trust me, most of us don’t want that.
by Frank H. Jernigan—Triple Mock Cable Sweater
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