Tag Archives: Yarn & Fiber

To ponder: What draws us to knitting?

Combining a piece of thread with two needles into a piece of fabric.—Knitting as defined by Wiktionary

What draws us to knitting? Is it the pleasure we find in the pure simplicity of the craft? The feel of the yarn in our fingers as it glides from needle to needle? Or is it an escape from the stress of every day life? When we think of knitting today, we think of soft luxurious yarns, of patterns and books that teach us new techniques, of knitting needles in exotic woods or smooth metal and of endless possibilities that a few loops can create in the form of a unique garment.

The resurgence of knitting is somewhat of a phenomenon in today’s society as we are incorporating something back into our lives that dates back to the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, if not even further back. We are enthralled with the colorful Fair Isle techniques that were created by the Scottish during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and by the stitches that soon followed in the twentieth century, the elaborate cable designs that formed traditional Aran sweaters.

Knitting has always been an occupation among many cultures to produce the much needed warm clothing, such as sweaters, hats, and mittens, or the elegant linen clothing of the wealthy. During the early 1940s, women found themselves “Knitting for Victory” and creating items for the Army and Navy to wear in the winter.  Knitters of this time also learned to Make Do and Mend, and recycle old woolen sweaters to re-use the wool for other knitted garments. Then by the 1950s to the 1960s, we were introduced to a large spectrum of colors and styles of yarn. Knitting was fashionable and very “Haute Couture.”

Young ladies were taught to knit in school, as it was considered to be a very useful skill; it was not just a hobby, like today. The most popular pattern during this time was the infamous “twinset.” But as women began to leave the home and go out into the workforce the popularity of knitting soon became passé and by the 1980s, the craft of knitting was almost non-existent, a faded memory of an old-fashion craft that our mothers and grandmothers pursued.

Like a breath of fresh air, the twenty-first century arrived and with it a desire to rekindle an old friendship with a craft that had diminished in most eyes of the world.  We have found ourselves drawn back to the magical rhythm of clicking needles that turns fiber into a wondrous creation, to the rich textures and colors of yarns that we must simply caress, while at the same time our minds are meticulously creating a garment of what we are touching and visualizing. This new century has brought to the avid knitter a never ending supply of natural fibers, colors, textures, patterns, possibilities, and a connection with others that share the same passion and desire.  Knitting is no longer considered to be that old fashioned craft of long ago, but very high tech. With the spur of technology, knitters can now connect from all over the globe and share their experiences, their knowledge, their patterns and their techniques. Knitters are finding new friendships and forming bonds that were never before imaged.

It will be interesting to see where knitting takes us in this new century of discovery. Will it become passé once more? Or, will it stick around for a while? Whatever the case, this age old craft will give you the desire to create and to be harmonious with the fiber in your hand.

For further information on knitting, please remember to visit your LYS, your local library and the internet. Also consider joining a local knitting group in your area for support or for learning new techniques.


Sponsored by the Yarn Market,  purveyor of  high-quality yarns  from over 70 leading manufacturers.

Fiber Friday Spotlight: Buffalo Gold

Once the plentiful staple support of the American Plains Indians, in 1885 there were fewer than 1,000 American Buffalo (or “bison,” the scientific name). Due to the efforts of dedicated ranchers and environmentalists, buffalo have made a comeback in the past 125 years so that the wonderful down is now available for spinning.   With a combination of painstaking dehairing to remove the guard hairs and “hands on” processing makes Buffalo Gold yarns distinctly different from other bison down products on the market today.

New to the shelves this fall is Buffalo Gold Moon and Moon-Lite.   Moon, a 4-ply twist DK weight, is a blend of 75% eco- friendly Tencel and  25% American Bison down, offers knitters a soft heathery color palette  in 10 hand dyed multi-toned shades of 170 yards/50 grams per skein.    Moon-Lite, a 2-ply twist lace weight, is also a blend of 75%  eco- friendly Tencel and 25% American Bison down and available in 10 hand dyed multi-toned shades at 330 yards (50 grams) per skein.

This new line of s super soft and luxurious yarn is the most affordable Buffalo Gold yet and is perfect for scarves, shawls, shawlettes and anything else that touches your skin. Both of these new yarns are truly a pure joy to knit with and offer a wonderful drape to any garment created.

You can purchase these gorgeous fibers directly from Buffalo Gold or at your LYS.  Follow them online at Etsy, FaceBook, Raverly and on their website.

Fiber Friday Spotlight: Coolyarnz

This weeks Fiber Friday Spotlight features Susan Booth of Coolyarnz, a family owned business that was previously located in the UK but now located in the beautiful country of  British Columbia.

Photo courtesy of Susan Booth

Susan’s shop features gorgeous hand dyed Uruguayan Merino Wool available in an array of beautiful tempting colors.   Each skein is approximately 214 yards (100g or 4 oz.) and is soft enough even for baby garments.

Susan also carries hand-knitted items, needle cases and accessories and for those  of you who prefer to spin your own wool, she also offers hand dyed fiber in a blend of silk and merino wool.

Follow Susan online on her Blog, Facebook, Twitter and Ravelry.   Also, be sure to visit Wool n Love, her sister Etsy shop that specializes in yarns, patterns, needles, hand knit and hand dyed items.

And the winner is…..

Thank you all for entering the giveaway for last week’s Fiber Friday Spotlight featuring Caterpillar Knits.  Kristen’s new website is fantastic, as well as her new creations featuring eco-friendly fibers.  Be sure to check back for new patterns!

The winner of this giveaway is entry#6 – Frauke!  Congratulations Frauke and enjoy your lovely pattern, Kukui!

Ok, what do we do to try to help the earth?  We recycle, we don’t eat out, we reuse as much as possible, if close does not fit anymore or is torn, it will become something new. We have an electric lawnmower.
Lights are off and doors are closed if no body is in the room. Trying to limit our driving as much as possible, don’t use plastic bags. we have a veggie garden (if the plants don’t get eaten), our light bulbs are energy efficient, use 7th Generation products, not many though, because alot you can get clean with water and vinegar…..oh, and I use the Diva cup, most of the times.    I am waiting for some Angora yarn from a friend who has some Angora bunnies.   My favorite pattern would be Kukui.

Thank you all again and happy knitting!

Fiber Friday Spotlight: UrbanGypz

This weeks Fiber Friday Spotlight features Stacey Budge-Kamison of UrbanGypz Artisan Yarn.    Working from her home studio in Asheville,  North Carolina,  Stacey draws her inspiration from the world around her creating a line of yarn that is full of wonderful textures and vibrant colors.

With four weights of sock yarns to choose from, Stacey offers knitters a lovely selection of superwash wools and blends that are available in a variety of hand-dyed colors.   Fat Fingering,  a basic 2ply 100% superwash merino yarn,  is thick enough to knit as fast as a sport weight and is available in 400 yard skeins.  SeaCell, a beautiful blend of  70% super-wash merino and 30% SeaCell fiber, a rayon derived from seaweed, is a wonderful yarn  that wicks  away moisture from your skin and  is antibacterial,  making  this fiber blend the perfect for sock yarn.   SeaCell comes in skeins of  378 yards and is also considered a thick fingering weight.   South American Fingering, a single ply 100% merino yarn, is considered to be an “awesome smoosh” that comes in skeins of 420 yards and is considered to be perfect for mittens, gloves, or even for a very special pair of socks.   Econo Sock, a  limited edition 100%  superwash merino, comes in 450 yard skeins that  knits up with just the slightest texture to create a soft washable yarn.   You’ll also find a beautiful collection of handspuns in 2 to 3 ply, Boucle and Gypz Tangle, a unique handspun that features unique colors and textures.

For those of you who spin,  UrbanGypz has a wonderful selection of fibers in Superwash Merino, Merino and Tencel, Merino and SeaCell, Merino and Bamboo, Vintage BFL and Australian Wool, all in mouth-watering colors.

Photo courtesy of UrbanGypz

Be sure to visit Stacey’s Etsy Shop, where you’ll find not only her beautiful sock yarns, roving and handspun, but a gorgeous collection of recycled sari yarn.

Helping Sister Out, a  line of yarns and fibers that come from a fair trade collective in Nepal where women hand spin from recycled fibers, is incredibly soft and available in vibrant colors.  Sales of their beautiful yarns and fibers help them earn a livable wage and supports their community.

After personally reviewing this beautiful recycled sari silk,  it is perfect for knitting a one of a kind scarf or small shawl.  For tips on working with this fantastic fiber, visit Stacey’s blog, where she also features a free pattern using recycled sari silk.

Be sure to visit Stacey online at UrbanGypz, where you can sign up for her newsletter to stay informed, online at her Blog, online at Etsy, online at Twitter and online at FaceBook.

UrbanGypz is a must to add to your favorite fiber shops, so be sure to visit Stacey online today!

Fiber Friday Spotlight – Caterpillar Knits

As crafters, each time we purchase a yarn, we are voting with our dollars to support the growth or destruction of the earth.  By choosing yarns that support organic farming and processing, that are not cruel to the animals or the people who are involved in its creation, that use low-impact or no dyes, or have a low-carbon footprint we are helping to reduce the amount of damage done to the earth through the processing of yarn. With each eco-friendly yarn purchase, we’re encouraging yarn manufacturers to continue producing yarns in this manner, and we continue to help our earth.     ~ Caterpillar Knits

Green, Organic, Natural.  All three have been the biggest “buzzwords” of the last few years on how we can live healthy and have better lifestyles while taking care of our precious earth.   Knitting has now found it’s way into this line of thinking by offering many new fibers to compliment our need not only to be more environmentally conscientious, but to be more attune to what we put next to our skin.  Who wants to knit a gorgeous sweater and find out it is filled with toxic  chemicals or dyes that will irritate or skin, or even more so,  has harmed the earth during the growing or preparation of these fibers.

Organic cottons are now harvested without the use of agrichemicals and even wool is spun and processed in accordance with the Organic Trade Association’s Fiber Processing Standards. In their natural state, these organic fibers offer warm, earthy colors and some brands do provide a wider variety of colors, usually obtained from the use of natural dyes.   Many of our favorite designers like Rowan, Plymouth and Debbie Bliss have jumped onto this band wagon and now offer many eco-friendly fibers to temp our palettes , some we are used to, like cotton or wool, but we have now be introduced to bamboo, shell-fish,  soy and corn.

Knitwear designer Kristen TenDyke has launched Caterpiller Knits, a company dedicated to providing patterns that support eco-friendly yarns which are animal friendly, dye friendly, organic, and leave a low-carbon footprint.

With her fall 2010 line of patterns that she just  released, Kristen features six gorgeous designs, in both crochet and knit,  that will entice you to try eco-friendly yarns such as O’Wool, Manos del Uruguay, Quince & Co., Cascade Eco-Wool, and Plymouth’s Homestead.     These designs include a scarf, a shawl, a top-down knitted raglan cardigan, a bottom up knitted pullover with a front lace stitched panel, crocheted  hoodie and a crocheted hat.

Photos:  Courtesy of Kristen TenDyke of Caterpillar Knits

Photographer: Carrie Bostick Hoge

I’ve had the fortune to review one of Kristen new designs, Kukui.   Knitted in O’ Wool Balance (50% organic merino wool, 50% organic cotton), this pullover with an elegant  lace panel, along with a lovely scoop neckline  is perfect for end of summer or those chilly fall days.     This pattern is available in bust  sizes 33 1/4 to 54 1/4 (84.5  –  138 cm), will require 7 to 11 hanks of O’ Wool Balance or 850- 1440 yards in a comparable earth-friendly yarn, one pair each size US 5 and 6 (3.75 and 4 mm) and one 29″ circular needle size US 5 (3.75 mm).   Instructions are both written and charted, and like all of Kristen’s patterns, very easy to read, easy to understand and easy to follow.

To celebrate the launch of her new website, Kristen is offering a pattern as a prize for a giveaway to my blog reader’s, which starts today and ends on Friday, September 3rd at 6:00 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Rules of this giveaway:

1.   What way are  you trying to help our earth?

2.  What is your favorite eco-friendly yarn?

3.  What is your favorite pattern listed on Caterpillar Knits (the winner will receive the pattern they favor) ?

You can find Caterpillar Knits online at FaceBook, Twitter and Raverly!

Kristen TenDyke, knit and crochet designer, holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  Her designs can be found in various well-known publications such as Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, Knit Simple and in many of  Classic Elite’s pattern collections.

For those of you interested, here’s a list of a few companies that offer eco-friendly yarns :

Blue Sky Alpacas Philosopher’s Wool Company
Fibra Natura Cottonwood Plymouth Earth Collection
Malabrigo Cotton Yarn Cascade Yarns
O’Wool Fibra Natura Cottonwood
Quince & Co. Queensland Collections
Sublime Yarns Rowan
Tahki  Stacy Charles Manos del Uruguay

You can also find eco-friendly yarns online at  Crafts In Bloom, The Hardy Supply Co., The Water Farms, Marr Haven Wool Farm, Green Sheep Shop, One Planet Yarns, Eco-Butterfly, Nature Song Yarn and the Yarn Market.

If  your LYS does not carry any of these brands, urge them to do so.   Knit and crochet for a better world today!

Casting On and Casting Off: A new category

I’ve decided to start a new category to my blog called “Casting On and Casting Off”.  Each week I hope to post a note on new ideas for designs that’s being worked on and what’s been published, and what selfish knitting I’ve been doing.

This week I’m currently working on a new hat pattern that will feature  Patons Classic Wool.  I came across an article that  Stephanie Pearl-McPhee,  the Yarn Harlot,  wrote regarding this fiber, in which she did an in-depth review on Knitter’s Review covering Patons Classic Wool.  I must say I totally agree with her on this yarn and it’s potential, especially when it comes to felting.

It’s not a posh yarn, or a fancy yarn, or a luxurious yarn. It’s a decent, upstanding basic yarn with no pretension. Tried and true, practical and inexpensive with extensive pattern support, it puts knitting with natural fibres within the grasp of most budgets.

For me, Patons Classic Wool is perfect for easy care garments such as hats, scarves and mittens.  My current design in the works will feature Patons Classic Wool in #77250 Dark Beige Marl and #00227 Taupe .  Can’t wait to finish!