Back in February, I got an email from the representative of a Swiss company called Baabuk (pronounced "baa-book"). They'd seen my review of Allbirds, picked up on my passion for all things wool, and thought I might like to see the wool shoes they were producing.
I looked them
Have you ever noticed that some machine-washable wools behave differently than others? It's not your imagination. We have multiple ways to shrink-proof wool, and not all are equally effective or environmentally friendly. But here's one that is.
First things first: mYak is pronounced "my yak." I learned this only after an embarrassing volley where I kept saying "em-yak" and the other person kept staring at me blankly until she got it, looked at me pityingly, and gently corrected me.
If you aren't familiar
Imagine being told by your doctor that you can no longer knit. What sounds like a horror story is entirely possible if we fail to take care of ourselves. Carson Demers is an award-winning physical therapist with a focus on ergonomics. And lucky for us,
The Outer Hebrides may be better known as the home of legends Harris Tweed and Alice Starmore. But now you can add the island of Grimsay to that list. Connected by causeway to North Uist, Grimsay is home to the new Uist Mill and Wool
The market for interchangeable circular needles has been well-served for years by Knitter's Pride, ChaoGoo, Denise, Addi, Signature, Tulip, Hiya Hiya, and Knitpicks Options. The sets have generally featured slick metals, beige bamboo, or bright colorful wood or plastic tips in solids, rainbow hues, or psychedelic
Julie Weisenberger has a history of making tools that elevate your experience of a task. The Knitter's Block frees us from the
cumbersome, monolithic blocking board. The Knitter's Keep helps us keep our favorite tools at hand. And the Sweater Care Kit made even the most curmudgeonly knitter smile at
Swatching and gauge are the two least-sexy topics in knitting—and yet they are also the most vital. We swatch to know how many stitches our hands form in a particular yarn when we use a specific pair of needles. Without that number, we have no way
Annabelle lives in a cold little town surrounded by snow and black chimney soot. One day she discovers a box most knitters could only dream of finding. In it, yarn of every color.
Naturally, she takes the box home and knits herself a sweater. It's a
What's in a name?
Say "Donegal" and most knitters think of that robust, hearty stuff from County Donegal, spun on a spinning mule and peppered with colorful flecks of tweed. Soft Donegal is still made in County Donegal on a mule and peppered with those colorful
I’ve just returned from the American Sheep Industry Association’s annual conference, which took place in Denver, Colorado. Knitters don't go to the ASI—at least not for the conference part of the event. The ASI sits way upstream from knitting, in the realm of fields and
Every region leaves its mark on those who live there, whether they're animals or humans. While the cashmere most of us know best comes from the Himalayas by way of China or Mongolia, cashmere goats live in many places around the world. They just grow
As a proud resident of a state whose temperatures can stay below freezing for up to half the year, I am very well-versed in the art of keeping warm. I suspect you are too, for the simple reason that nobody likes to freeze to death?
During my brief but illustrious career as a baker, I was tasked with building the breakfast menu. Someone else provided the toast, bagels, sweet rolls, and croissants, but everything else was up for grabs. After weeks of churning through all sorts of biscuits and muffins
First came Shelter, launched in 2010—and then Loft the following year. Quarry completed the trilogy.
All three of the core Brooklyn Tweed yarns shared a very specific parentage. They were made from the coats of Targhee-Columbia sheep from Wyoming, whose fibers were scoured in the United
We have loads of superb mitten books, the best of which tend to focus on a specific cultural tradition.
My personal favorites are Lizbeth Upitis' Latvian Mittens, Annemor Sundbø's Norwegian Mittens and Gloves, and Robin Hansen's Favorite Mittens, which captures patterns and techniques from the Canadian Maritimes and Scandinavia.
I'm a sucker for cashmere and cute packaging.
But there's something more to these kits, which actually don't look like kits at all—they look like a sort of magical multicolored caterpillar in fiber form.
I first noticed them in people's pictures on Instagram. I followed the tags and
How do you keep that spark alive?
You know, the one that drove you to knit in the first place, that still makes your fingers tingle, even produces butterflies on occasion, in the presence of a gorgeous yarn, an exquisite piece of fabric?
I ponder this as
The day I completed my first sock was a day of liberation. For years I'd been mystified by socks, never daring try them on my own. I learned that although knitted socks look complex and daunting, they're actually one of the most logical items to
The principle underlying knitting is simple: You use two pointed sticks to pull loops of string through one another. But which sticks — or needles, as we prefer to call them — you use has a profound impact on the finished project and your knitting experience
Kate Atherley has long served as the technical editor of Knitty.com, the oldest and largest curated online magazine of free knitting patterns. Tasked with editing patterns from often new or previously unpublished designers, she's seen her share of the good and the bad, the eloquent
Once the backbone of the British empire, wool has declined in value so much that it's being buried or burned by farmers who pay more to shear a sheep than they can get for its fibers. Three people in the UK are trying to change
If you follow sports at all, you may recognize the name Tim Brown. A former New Zealand footballer, Brown played on the All Whites and was the undefeated player at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
After retirement, he went on to pursue a
I first heard about the Exmoor Blueface sheep from John Arbon back in 2010 when I was in London for Knit Nation. This relatively new breed is the result of a cross between Exmoor Horn (a hill breed from north Devon) and Bluefaced Leicester sheep. The UK
Any time I see cashmere with an unusual twist, I get excited. This fine, short-stapled fiber is all about delicate tenderness in a normal plied-yarn construction.
But when you twist the same fibers and feed them through a more complex plying machine, one that wiggles the plied
I've always dreamed of seeing London in December. When I heard news that Pompom was having a Christmas party and pop-up indie yarn market in London, I decided to use this party as an excuse to cross the pond.
I reached out to friends and colleagues,
The 2015 Knitter's Review Retreat
November 12-15, 2015
A funny thing happens when you bring knitters together. Create a space—a comfortable, safe, and welcoming place that's removed from the daily routine, from every reminder of what we should be doing—and slowly we relax, we bloom. We see and
I'm strangely smitten with Stina Tiselius' new collection of knitted potholder patterns.
Potholders, you say? I know, I know.
Potholders are right up there with washcloths in the pantheon of oft-mocked (yet passionately adored) handknits. I've never made one myself, and I don't dare use the one
In the world of teams, few are as prolific and popular as the dynamic Swedish/Norwegian duo of Arne Nerjordet and Carlos Zachrison. Their latest ode to whimsy and cheer is 30 Slippers to Knit and Felt. It's been a while since we looked at felt, which
Romi Hill is one of my favorite designers, especially for lace. She has a way of making yarn disappear into a cohesive sheet of etched beauty. Here, she has a brand new book from Interweave Press featuring 19 new garment and accessory designs. When we
It began as all great ideas do, as a spark of an inspiration, a loose thread that many people would let rest. But Debbie Zawinski is no ordinary person. A spinner for 25 years and a lifelong walker and knitter, Zawinski started tugging at that
Once you have a few socks under your belt and feel confident with the basics, you're ready to embark on more challenging projects—and that's where this book comes into the picture. Co-editors Ann Budd and Anne Merrow have scoured the Interweave archives and selected 19
If the yarn world were football, the New York Sheep and Wool Festival would be homecoming. The event, begun in 1980, is lovingly referred to by the town in which it takes place: Rhinebeck.
Reporting from Rhinebeck, NY, October 17-18, 2015
Always the third full week in October, Rhinebeck brings
Until just four years ago, western Canada had no major annual knitting gathering of its own.
All that changed when two friends, Amanda Milne and Fiona McLean, began producing retreats and events under the Knit Social moniker. In just a relatively short time, their Vancouver gathering—Knit
New York Sheep and Wool Festival
October 17-18, 2015
If the yarn world were football, the New York Sheep and Wool Festival would be homecoming. The event, begun in 1980, is lovingly referred to by the town in which it takes place: Rhinebeck.
Always the third full week
In 2013, I embarked upon a project called The Great White Bale. Over the course of 12 months I, and an intrepid group of 700+ subscribers, used a 676-pound bale of superfine Saxon Merino to learn, in essence, what it takes to make yarn in
You could say that Julie Weisenberger has a thing for gadgets. The creative brain behind the knitwear design line Cocoknits, Julie has brought us the Knitter's Block, an ingenious set of padded floor tiles that you can assemble in different shapes to block whatever you want.
A few years ago at Interweave Knitting Lab in Manchester, New Hampshire, I ventured into the North Light Fibers booth. I met Sven, who, with his wife, operates a mini-mill that produces their own line of branded yarns in Rhode Island.
We got to talking, and
We've reached that point in summer where even I, the ardent wearer of wool, am switching to cooler cottons and linens—even in my swatching.
A skein of Twig was placed in my hands at the summer TNNA show in June. It has stayed at the top
It began with a simple idea: By repeating a certain sequence of knit and purl stitches again and again, you can create gorgeous and often reversible fabric. This is the same concept behind basic ribbing, seed stitch, mistake-rib stitch, and the like—but on steroids.
It takes guts for an American to move to Australia and start a sheep farm—especially if she is a woman with no prior farming experience. And then she adopts unconventional techniques for sheep farming, techniques that, I might add, appear to be working.
That, in a
The National NeedleArts Association's semiannual trade show took place in Columbus earlier this month. It's where knitting industry players come to network, to learn, and to preview new products for fall.
It was a crazy, busy weekend of distractions, not even taking into account the high-school
Sometimes the most useful tools are also the simplest. They have no moving parts, they require no batteries or clamps. Consider the humble darning needle, for example. Or this, the Fix-A-Stitch, essentially a snub-nosed two-sided crochet hook.
If you've been knitting for a while, you will
Hand-dyers are painters who use yarn as their canvas. Some work their magic on commonly available base yarns, while others seek out the truly rare or unusual. Many more try to find a yarn that falls somewhere in between those extremes, a yarn that is
It seemed so far-fetched, flying all the way to Scotland for just four days. But something was happening in Edinburgh, something that had all the hallmarks of greatness—and I wanted to be there and witness it.
The Edinburgh Yarn Festival began last year as a one-day event in a
It all began with a picture on Instagram. Someone shared a gorgeous shot of a yarn I'd never seen before. It looked rugged, crunchy, and soulful, and I suspected it had quite a story behind it—so I hunted around online until I found an Etsy
Imagine if all the wine in the world—red and white alike—were mixed together and sold as generic "wine." Think of how many centuries of craftsmanship and flavor would be lost, and how mediocre it would taste compared with how it would taste if the grapes
To evolve from handspinner to yarn manufacturer is like switching from an upright piano to a pipe organ. Everything is bigger, more powerful and exhilarating. The potential for mistakes is huge, but so is the depth of satisfaction when you get it right.
After two years
The gap between what we see and what we knit can be vast. To capture the essence of tree bark or a cobblestoned street in a knitted colorwork motif takes skill. I've read the books about colorwork and color theory and color design, but somehow
"How many skeins do I need for a sweater?" The project may vary, but the question doesn't.
When faced with a new yarn and a vague idea of what it wants to become, we need a ballpark estimate of how much yarn we should buy. Would that
When your grandmother's maiden name is Woolfolk, it's almost guaranteed that you'll go into the textiles business. Kristin Ford took the hint and has just launched Woolfolk, a yarn company she fittingly named after her grandmother.
The initial line-up consists of just two yarns, both unique
The washing machine has long represented the point of no return for woolens. Drop something in there by mistake, and, unless the yarn has been specially treated to be machine-washable, you'll likely end up with a fuzzy, shrunken piece of heartbreak.
Felting is irreversible. Limited success
For generations, farmers in Texas have raised some extraordinary wool and mohair. We don't hear much about it because the fibers tend to be sold en masse to the textiles industry.
In recent years, however, the ending of government subsidies, severe drought conditions, and low-cost international
Erika Knight is the consummate knitwear designer. Teacher, lecturer, and author of countless books, she's been a fixture in the much-vaunted Rowan designer line-up for years. Not only does she know her technique, but she knows her yarn too.
After years of paying her dues,
A while ago I received an envelope in the mail. The return address was someplace in California, a name I didn't recognize. The contents weren't wrapped, and there was no note attached.
Inside was a book, clearly self-published, titled The Yarn Woman. I flipped over to the
Most knitters have been taught from day one not to tie knots in their yarn—or, at a minimum, not to do so mid-row. We've learned to time our yarn changes to take place at the end of a row. Even if we tie a wee knot, we
At the 2010 Knit Nation market in London, the British yarn scene was just beginning to expand from big brands to smaller, more local producers. John Arbon Textiles had skeins of British wool spun at their own mill, and Renaissance Dyeing had French wool they'd sourced and naturally dyed by
My summer reading list is sadly devoid of much knitting content. We have very few good reads that tell a story or convey knitting-related narrative beyond "Cast on X stitches, work stockinette until piece measures Y." Those that do exist I've either read them or
Earlier this year, I started receiving mysterious postcards from someone named Mrs. Crosby. The first was sent from Buenos Aires, then Paris, and finally Lake Como. Truth be told, I already knew who Mrs. Crosby was before the postcards started arriving, but that didn't lessen
It's time to create a "heritage yarn" classification. The notion of "heritage" anything, whether animal breed or seed variety, is best appreciated through a different, sometimes more forgiving lens. More forgiving in that these items haven't been pureed and homogenized and airbrushed and focus-group-tested into
In the late '90s, mitered squares and their entrelac cousins were synonymous with brightly colored, variegated novelty yarns. The mitered square was a useful way to break up the flatness of horizontal color stripes, pitching the rows diagonally in a pointed V. These furry, sparkly,
The skein lies furry and limp, a bit like you'd shaved a cat and forgotten to clean it up. Like Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, there's no there there. Cirrus is soft all right, with a wonderful wooly fuzz to it. But when I squeeze the skein,
What could be more charming than a family of smiling people, all of whose feet are cozy and warm inside colorful handknit slippers?
From the very first moment, I was charmed by Katie Startzman's book. At a time when there seems to be less and less
Maybe it's just January talking, but as soon as I spotted this yarn I thought "cowl." In fact, I could almost imagine a line of women at the Portland International Jetport greeting new arrivals and ceremoniously placing a skein of Baby Alpaca Magna around their
With online shopping more prevalent than ever, yarn stores are in a bit of a pickle. They need inventory that covers all the bases—yarns for sweaters, baby garb, socks, lace, etc. But they also need to be able to offer something totally unique, something a
First came the Knitter's Block, an ingenious set of padded floor tiles that you can assemble in different shapes to block whatever you want. Now, Julie Weisenberger of Cocoknits has come up with another clever gadget: Knitter's Keep.
Here's the premise: How many times have you lost a stitch marker,
Addi Turbos are the Cadillac of nickel-plated brass circular knitting needles, setting a standard against which all others in the market compete.
The needles are all made in Germany, to exacting specifications and in impeccable working conditions, and they all carry a lifetime warranty. Naturally, this
When knitters gather, our natural tendency is to don our latest handknits for display. The bigger the event, the greater the excitement around finishing that project, darning the ends, and blocking it before the fairgrounds open.
The New York Sheep and Wool Festival—lovingly dubbed Rhinebeck because that's
For several years, knitwear designer Anne Hanson has been sourcing and shipping yarns for her Knitspot club. They tended to come from prominent hand-dyers, in exquisite colors, accompanied by original designs by Anne.
Then she decided to go deeper into fiber itself, launching her Bare Naked
Even without knowing what's in it, you instinctively know this yarn is something special. The skein sits in your hands like a hummingbird nest, and it feels just as exotic and precious. Each fine strand nestles within its neighbors, and together they reflect light in
What makes a yarn split? I get asked this question a lot, and the answer is complicated. At a very high level, yarns can split if the fibers lack sufficient cohesion to hold together, or if they've been given insufficient twist at any step of
Even mill owners like to experiment now and then. Colorflow is the playtime project of Anne Bosch, the owner of Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill. She wanted to create a yarn with extremely long, slow color transitions—far longer than what you can get if you hand-dyed
Kristine Vejar wants to revitalize the California wool industry, and this yarn represents her first step. Vejar is the creative force behind the Oakland yarn shop A Verb for Keeping Warm.
Besides having discriminating taste in other people's yarns, which manifests itself in an astonishingly well-curated store,
A strange thing happens when Amy Herzog addresses a crowd. A feeling of optimism and confidence permeates the room, a sense of "at last!" and "so it wasn't me after all." Women sit up in their chairs. More amazingly, they shed their inhibitions and become
What is the best yarn for lace? And what is lace, anyway?
Your basic knitted fabric—stockinette, garter, ribbing, and the likes—is all about filling space with fiber and creating something cohesive. We knit those fabrics out of plump, well-rounded multiple-ply yarns, and we're happy with the
Ten years have passed since I began these year-end retrospectives. In that decade, our world has changed significantly—our knitting world and the world at large.
Hindsight is a beautiful, decadent thing. It allows us a greater perspective, helps us see the bigger picture that is often
My house is full of knitting needles, yet I never seem to find the exact size and configuration I need. It's been a lifelong challenge, and I know I'm not alone.
For those who enjoy working with circular knitting needles, interchangeable sets offer hope—the illusion of hope, that
Consider the Arctic muskox, a majestic mammal that lives in extreme conditions. To stay warm in the dead of winter, it produces one of the finest fibers grown by a living animal: qiviut. Softer than cashmere and eight times warmer than wool, qiviut is also
A few years ago, Jill Draper escaped New York City to pursue a quieter, more fiber-filled life. She chose the Hudson Valley partly because of its proximity to Rhinebeck, a charming town she'd discovered through years of attending the New York Sheep and Wool Festival.
The UK has a vibrant textiles history. Most argue that the fortunes of the British empire were, in fact, based on the wool trade. Somewhere along the line, between globalization and our quest for softness, this trade faltered.
Today, Britain's wool manufacturing industry is hurting, as
In the 1960s, Meg Swansen spent a month in Reykjavik and fell in love with unusual "plates" of unspun Icelandic wool—which literally translate as "plötulopi." Instead of being spun, the fibers were simply carded together, peeled away into fine strips, and then wound onto cake-like
Lopi and I go way back. Growing up, I was always clothed in thick, rugged Icelandic sweaters knit by my maternal grandma. The sweaters (in the Lopapeysa style) were bulky yet surprisingly light, and they always kept me warm. They were all knit from Iceland's distinct "Lopi"
We have few royals in the knitting world. Elizabeth Zimmermann, Barbara Walker, and Mary Walker Phillips are generally considered the trinity. There's a fourth member of our royalty, though. He is a prolific artist whose work, when translated into yarn, has been commissioned by the
Twice a year, knitting industry folks get together to network, take classes, and do business at a show called TNNA. They bring the latest and greatest samples and prototypes and skeins so freshly dyed they're still slightly wet to the touch.
Some authors see their book for
Shepherd Worsted has all the elements of a perfect comfort food. It's soft and easy, comes in large servings, and always satisfies.
The Shepherd label actually spans four weights: Shepherd Bulky, Shepherd Worsted (reviewed here), Shepherd Sport, and Shepherd Sock. All contain 100% superwash Merino except
Last weekend at the Howard County Fairgrounds, tens of thousands of people converged for the 39th annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.
Report from Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival
West Friendship, MD
May 5-6, 2012
Companies mentioned (in order of appearance):
Spirit Trail Fiberworks
Fiber Optic Yarns
The Verdant Gryphon
If you're a knitter, you already know that we do strange things when admiring a new skein of yarn. We might squeeze it, rub it against our neck, perhaps pull it to our face and give it a good sniff. When it's an especially big
Most yarn companies like to launch with a full fleet of products in varying weights and textures. Ewe Ewe Yarns took the complete opposite approach. It launched in 2011 with just one yarn: Wooly Worsted Merino. It's like opening a bakery with only one kind
Few yarns have been around long enough to be considered landmarks, and Tahki's Donegal Tweed is certainly one of them. This earthy yarn is still spun in the very county for which the yarn was named—County Donegal in Ireland.
Donegal Tweed is both a style of
Blocking is one of those intensely personal things, like swatching and even knitting itself. Some of us have a laissez-faire, spritz-and-stretch attitude that suits us just fine—while others are not content until they have pinned and starched and ironed every yarn-over into total submission. Here's
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The Sincere Sheep was launched by Brooke Sinnes in 2011. Based in Northern California, Brooke focuses on carefully sourced natural fibers—in both yarn and roving form—to which she applies color using only natural dyes.
Her taste in fibers is exquisite, a
Let's cut to the chase: Loft is pretty much perfect. If I had all 32 colors at my disposal, I could easily see myself knitting with nothing but this yarn for the rest of my life.
Well, that might be an exaggeration—but only slight. After all,
If festivals were friends, the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York, would be among my oldest and dearest.
The more years I go, the more familiar each part of the event becomes. Attending is as much about tradition and ritual as it
What prompts someone to go into the knitting needle business anyway?
It made perfect sense for Knitter's Pride. The Indian manufacturer got its start making paintbrushes, which also require durable wooden handles and a well-fitting metal join that holds smooth, flexible fibers. After gaining prominence as
Are you new to socks? Did you finish the How To Knit Socks tutorial and are you ready for your next pair?
For new, reluctant, or recently returned sock knitters, I've designed a simple beginner unisex sock pattern called Stepping Stones.
It's the first pattern you'll find
Socks buffer us from life's hard edges. Whether knit by hand or produced by machine, socks serve as a good set of tires for our feet. They grab the road and get us to our destination in maximum comfort with minimal slippage. They are, in
Whenever you take a single strand of continuous fibers and apply twist, you get something innately vulnerable and unbalanced. We have all sorts of tricks for beefing up the fibers, adding secret plies and twists and whatnot. But ultimately, such a yarn is so ill-suited
About 6,000 people—roughly the population of Harvard, Massachusetts—knitters all, attended this year's Sock Summit. It took place at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, from July 28th to the 31st.
When you create an atmosphere of glee, and people feel sheer excitement at being present,
Blocking is to knitting what baking is to bread. It's the final act that turns a series of random stitches into beautiful, cohesive fabric.
Some view blocking as drudgery, others find it daunting. Regardless of how you feel, blocking is essential for a truly finished look.
Classic Elite Yarns has introduced a new undyed, natural-colors-only yarn collection called Mountaintop. The collection features three yarns to start, each of which is spun in Peru of fibers that have not been dyed or rendered machine-washable.
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First is Crestone, a hearty and
"A pattern, no matter how many sizes it includes, is unlikely to fit you perfectly without any changes," writes Ysolda. Size was a key motivator for this book. Ysolda wanted to show a collection of knitted garments designed for, and modeled by, real people of
Here's a novel approach to picking well-fitting garments. Instead of studying gussets and darts and short-rows, measuring every inch of your body and calculating your shape down to the last stitch and row, just choose something you know will look good. Easier said than done. But it
The global cashmere market has had its share of booms and busts. Some of the most significant changes came within the past two decades as our thirst for inexpensive cashmere led to overgrazing and, ultimately, the desertification of Mongolia.
While the bulk of the world's cashmere
On November 30, 1999, Elizabeth Zimmermann passed away at the age of 89. In her newsletters, books, and DVDs, she left behind a legacy that has launched and sustained generations of knitters.
As we're beginning to discover, Elizabeth also left behind another legacy: decades of sketches
Back in 2000 when I began Knitter's Review, I assumed it'd be easy to find out where the fibers in my yarn came from—and, in the case of wool, which sheep breed had been used. Slowly the reality sank in.
Fibers tend to be sourced from
If you ever decide to drive up the Maine coast to Bar Harbor (and I think you should), your journey will take you past the coastal town of Belfast.
Stay on Route 1 and you'll see only the commercial outskirts of what is, at the center,
How much attention do you pay to the needles you use? Are you fussy, or will you knit with pretty much anything? Have you even paid that much attention to your needles lately?
For fussy and oblivious knitters alike, a few minutes with these needles will
Charts. Some knitters will tell you they're the greatest thing since sliced bread. Others will start hyperventilating and ask you to change the subject.
Charts are a graphic representation of a knitted pattern. They're usually presented in a graph format where each square represents a stitch.
A plied yarn is greater than the sum of its parts. The mere act of twisting strands of spun fiber together produces a material that occupies more space than would those strands if they were simply held together without twist. Blue Sky Fibers (formerly Blue
If we used nothing but ultrasoft Merino all our lives, we'd miss out on no end of spice and nuance in our fiber diet. And Foxen Sheep yarn, made from the wool of the Coburg Fox sheep, is all about spice and nuance.
Only some 4,000
I'm a great fan of navigating new places on my own, even if it means getting lost along the way. Only by taking a wrong turn can I discover where that road leads—sometimes to a shortcut, sometimes to a dead end, but always to someplace
Letting a designer create his or her own yarn from scratch is like giving a child the keys to a candy store. It's easy to lose focus and get overwhelmed by all the choices. It takes maturity and willpower to go slowly, be patient, and
Pam Allen has worn many hats in the knitting world. She was a knitwear designer, she wrote Knitting for Dummies, she edited Interweave Knits magazine, and she was the creative director for Classic Elite Yarns. Then, in January of this year, she appeared to have vanished from the knitting
Superior has long been one of my favorite yarns. It's an airy confection of cashmere fibers that are held together by a luminous silk core and then brushed to produce a soft, ethereal yarn with a gossamer halo.
That same heavenly lightness keeps Superior from having its
Just 60 miles north of New York is a 100-acre farm populated with some extraordinary sheep. These animals are all direct descendants of five prize-winning Saxon Merino studs that Eugene Wyatt flew to the U.S. from Australia in 1990, just four years after Australia lifted
What on earth could a kitchen scale have to do with knitting? A lot more than you may think.
Take a look at your stash. See all those leftovers from projects past? Assorted oddballs and mini-skeins of this and that? What if you wanted to use
In October 2014, Sweet Grass Wool was purchased by Kristine Vejar of A Verb for Keeping Warm. This review has been kept up here because it was one of my favorite breed-specific wools ever, and because Patti deserves to be remembered. Patti's legacy is in
China has brought us many exciting fiber innovations over the last decade, from bamboo to crab shells, jade, milk, and soy. Today, thanks to an enterprising ex-reindeer-herder in the Evenk Autonomous Banner of Inner Mongolia, we have an extraordinary new fiber on the horizon.
After 40-plus years of Soviet occupation, the people of Estonia are still trying to sort out who they are. To restore the cultural, religious, and historic traditions that had been so nearly erased is an ongoing challenge.
For those in Haapsalu, a small seaside resort town
If you want to feel smart, sit yourself down and swatch a few cables. They look far harder than they actually are, and you'll quickly become so engrossed in your work that you'll have a hard time putting it down. Cables are just that way.
Each word, photograph, and illustration in this book was carefully scrutinized by me, my technical editor Sandi Rosner, and several extremely observant editors at Potter Craft over a period of several months.
And yet a few errors were discovered after the manuscript went to press. I
We've seen them before, those sad and lonely balls of yarn from projects that were abandoned, frogged, and eventually discarded.
These yarns often occupy a place of shame on swap tables throughout the land, representing failure, regret, and unfulfilled ambitions. We glance at them briefly before
This very easy hat pattern from The Knitter's Book of Wool offers a perfect vehicle for sampling different sheep breeds. It requires only 120 yards of bulky yarn, knits up in a flash, and produce a lovely unisex hat in the process.
It was designed by me, Clara
A great and often heated debate exists between those knitters who like acrylic blends and those who don't. Much of that debate has actually been fueled by blends that simply don't live up to their potential.
I personally have a strong preference for natural fibers. When
Blue Sky Alpacas (now Blue Sky Fibers) was the belle of the ball at the most recent TNNA. The company cleverly did an end-run around any confusion that may exist about its name, which leads many to believe it only sells alpaca yarns.
The company got
Pattern by Amy Ripton
Colorful hand-dyed yarns are fabulous to look at on the skein, but sometimes can be a little tricky to knit. The more striking the color combinations, the more they tend to obscure any stitch patterning you wanted to use. Lace, ribbing,
If butter could be spun into yarn, that yarn would be Malabrigo.
As a company, Malabrigo actually offers several different kinds of yarn—including a perky new sock yarn, a decadent silk/Merino blend, and the chunky Merino reviewed here. But when people say "Malabrigo" they usually mean
We have an insatiable appetite for new and novel fibers. We've created yarns made from corn and bamboo. We've seen yarns dusted with jade, laced with copper, and even fortified with crushed crab shells and seaweed. So it should come as no surprise when I
Knitting needles are simple tools. They're basically a long shaft with a point at one end. And double-pointed needles (DPNs) have, as the name suggests, a point at each end. The circumference of the needle shaft determines the size of each stitch. The shape of
This book reminds me of demi-glace, that magical ingredient in many French dishes. It's made by simmering an enormous quantity of beef scraps and bones, herbs, and vegetables for days until they've reduced to a single cup of syrupy liquid that is so strong, so
Riihivilla is a happy yarn discovery. It comes from a small family business in Finland and is available to a global market thanks to the wonders of the Internet.
Riihivilla is run by Leena Riihelä and her husband. She collects fleeces from a nearby sheep farm, sorts
Dream in Color is run by friends Veronica and Nancy. The magic begins when the yarns are hand-dyed using a process Veronica calls "veil dyeing." As with most hand-dyers, Veronica guards her dye secrets very closely. But the end result is a semisolid yarn whose extreme
Every project—whether it has one piece or twelve—needs a darning needle. Larger and duller than your average sewing needle, darning needles let us weave in every single loose end of yarn, so that our projects are beautiful and ready for wear.
Often referred to as tapestry
A fixture in Denmark's knitting scene for more than 30 years, Marianne Isager is finally—and fittingly—entering the U.S. market. She dipped her toes in our waters a few years ago when Interweave Press published the English translation of her book, Knitting Out of Africa.
But that book represents a
This yarn is like a good rollerball pen. It's widely available, doesn't cost a fortune, feels great in your hands, and flatters your handwriting no matter what you write. In yarnspeak, this means Fresco is affordable, available, and willing to accommodate pretty much anything your
I've used Denise Interchangeable knitting needles for years now, first using the standard set and more recently the pink Interchangeables.
They're infinitely portable, flexible, and practical for almost every knitting use. If I'd had to come up with one complaint, it would've been the shiny plastic box in which
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is a master storyteller. Her mind is always working, observing, recording, making connections, remembering things that most of us notice and then quickly forget—and then recounting them at the perfect moment.
She's also a very good writer who comments on the foibles of human
When I first started acquiring knitting needles, I religiously kept all their packaging and vowed to keep each needle in its corresponding package for safekeeping. It seemed like brilliant idea, but entropy got the best of me.
Some 20 years later my house is overrun with
My first knitting needles were pink aluminum Boye straights that made an awful clanging noise every time I dropped them, which was pretty often.
When I finally discovered that they made needles out of other materials, I took off and never looked back—until I received three sample pairs
As knitting began its meteoric rise in popularity earlier in this decade, new yarn stores and yarn companies emerged almost overnight. There was just one problem: not enough needles to go around.
For a while, only a handful of companies manufactured almost all the needles on
Linen has its fans and foes in the handknitting world. Derived from the stalk of the flax plant, linen fiber produces a strong, lustrous material that lasts a long, long time. But soft and fluffy it is not—and for many knitters, that's the most important
Most cashmere yarn is good, and some is even really good. But very, very rarely do you encounter extraordinary cashmere. This is the yarn that, when you touch it, causes time to stand still. Your fingers sink effortlessly into the skein, and you are overcome
Until now, Green Mountain Spinnery yarns were primarily in the DK- to worsted-weight range, with yarns like Mountain Mohair and Weekend Wool. These yarns are great for most projects, but if you want to knit socks or lace? Alas, you'd have to look elsewhere.
But the Vermont-based community spinnery
It's an ingenious idea, using interlocking floor mat pieces as a blocking surface for your knitted items. They can handle being stuck with pins, they can keep moisture from passing to the surface beneath, and best of all, they can be moved around like puzzle
Potter Craft and I, backed up by even more other people, went to great pains to make this the most perfect book possible. But as we know, perfection is often a fleeting notion.
The following errors have been discovered in the first printing of the Knitter's
Fingerless mitts pattern excerpted from The Knitter's Book of Yarn
This pattern was designed with gorgeous artisanal yarns in mind. You know, the kinds that cost a fortune and so you only buy one skein and then struggle to figure out what you can make with
Pattern and introduction by Jane Cochran
Like many knitters, I love to knit socks. They're a portable project that’s good to have stashed in a purse or bag.
They're as simple or as complicated as I want them to be, and I can experiment with stitches and
This is a follow-up to Schurch's previous book, Sensational Knitted Socks. Together, these two highly collectible books make up a powerful sock arsenal that'll keep you going for years.
You just need to be comfortable navigating patterns somewhat like a board game—you find your first clue and
While summer may not be the best time to work with qiviut—it is the warmest fiber on the planet after all—it is the perfect time to readabout it. And nobody has done qiviut more justice than Donna Druchunas in this award-winning book.
Druchunas leaves no stone unturned in her
I'll let you in on a little secret about triangular lace shawls: Most of them follow a very easy basic formula. Once you get this formula, you can do pretty much anything—with any yarn and any sized needle.
The formula goes something like this. You cast on
Many people reserve the term "novelty yarn" for fluffy synthetic concoctions. But Silk Rhapsody proves that you can have a novelty effect with entirely natural materials.
It's no coincidence that Silk Rhapsody has risen in popularity while synthetic novelty yarns have declined. As people discover they
While I take my knitting with me everywhere, I don't actually knit while I'm on the go. Lacking the ability to focus simultaneously on safe navigation and proper stitchwork, I tend to wait until I've found a comfortable spot—and then I pull out my knitting.
So you'll understand why, when
Habu Cashmere represents all the things I love about yarn. On the skein, it looks and feels like one thing. But if you have faith, cast on, and walk through your project, you'll gradually witness the yarn come alive and transform into something totally different.
The pink ribbon has become a prominent cultural symbol for promoting breast cancer awareness. It began as a simple ribbon pinned to our clothing to show support, but it has extended to pink versions of everything from toasters and hand mixers to digital cameras and
It is extremely easy to make your own circular needles. Your first pair will probably take you much longer to make, but after that, you’ll be ready to whip them out really quickly too.
A Tutorial by Rosemary Thomas, originally published November 2006
Note that I made
For months, knitters everywhere have waxed poetic about a new miracle yarn made from seaweed. Years of being pitched the latest "revolutionary" new products have made me a bit of a skeptic, but I finally succumbed. I had to see what Sea Silk was all
When I first heard that Knit Picks was producing its own needles, I thought, "Uh-oh, this is the end of the needle market as we know it." I knew Knit Picks would bring a good product to market and sell it at wholesale prices directly
We've all had it happen. We don a new sweater—store-bought or handknit, doesn't matter—and proudly wear it out into the world for the first time. A few hours later we happen to look down and discover, much to our dismay, that a constellation of little
I first set eyes on this yarn during a visit to La Lana Wools, the famous fiber shop in Taos, New Mexico, now gone. La Lana has the visual overwhelm of a Mexican market, only instead of heaping vats of colorful spices and grains you have mounds
The notion of bloggers writing books makes me nervous. Not because I doubt their skill, but because good blogs are often as much about a close-knit community as they are about content.
When you isolate that community on paper, it can read like a private conversation
I still remember my first mail-order yarn purchase. It was from a mythical warehouse-sized place in Western Massachusetts where people pushed around entire shopping carts full of yarns. The yarn store—called Webs—offered a "color book" with generous samples of all its house yarns for knitting
Many hand knitters toy with the idea of buying a knitting machine at one time or another. Whether you are attracted to a machine for making exquisite fine gauge knits or you are lured by the promise of speed, a knitting machine can be an
One of the most useful gifts you can give a knitter is a needlesizer. Oh sure, a few hundred yards of qiviut would be nice, but like a good knife or a Phillip's screwdriver, a needlesizer is one of those gadgets we always need.
For all the progress we've made over the centuries—the gadgets, the inventions, the miracle potions and cures—there are still some things upon which we really can't improve. This yarn is a perfect example.
In Peru, rural artisan and Indian farmers are using pre-Columbian farming techniques to
For the last 10+ years, Barbara Parry and her husband have been establishing a flock of Cormo and Border Leicester sheep at their 220-acre farm in western Massachusetts.
More recently, she began documenting her daily life on the farm in her blog, Sheepgal—it's one of my daily
I have a confession to make. When I'm feeling low and have already eaten all the chocolate in the house, I take myself to Virtual Yarns and pretend I'm shopping for a new project.
I can spend hours there browsing through dozens of stunningly complex and
One of my very favorite Merino yarns, Aurora 8, has a large and loyal following. It has the sponginess of a well-yeasted bread dough, paired with the exquisite softness of merino. It knits up quickly and easily.
Karabella Yarns upped the ante by releasing a bulky version
We've seen yarns that shift from color to color, and even from texture to texture—slubby to smooth, bouclé to bumpy. But Noro has just upped the ante with a yarn that not only shifts colors but actual fiber content: wool, silk, cashmere, alpaca, angora, kid
Knitting is an integral part of my identity, as it has been for many women in this country since the first European settlers arrived. While the early settlers knit out of necessity, I have the luxury of knitting for pleasure.
Some things have changed for knitters
Put on a sweater made from Sylvan Spirit and you'll immediately become a tree hugger—not because you love trees, but because you're wearing one.
First introduced in the summer of 2002, this yarn is composed of 50% wool and 50% Tencel lyocell, which is a manufactured fiber derived
I've had this book for several months, but I'm only now reviewing it. Truth be told, I've been hoarding it just like I'm hoarding that last box of Thin Mint cookies in the back of my freezer. But it's time to share it with you,
We've seen yarn that mimics nearly every surface texture, from sequined fur to terrycloth, and denim. It was only a matter of time before suede was added to the list. That's what Berroco has done with Suede, a new yarn for spring 2004.
Creative Director Margery
The more mainstream knitting becomes, the harder it gets to find something that's truly unique. This is especially true with our needles, most of which are mass produced by a machine in a factory.
Allow me to introduce an exception, a two-person company called Turn of
Modeled after similar devices that were popular in earlier times, this nifty little tool will effectively cut through most yarns without posing any risks to your fingers.
While most of us carry scissors for this same purpose, some occasions—air travel, jury duty, or any other high-security
When I first laid eyes on this book, I thought, "Ugh, not another 'hip' knitting book." I didn't even give it another glance for several days, which was a big mistake. When I finally did return to the book, I quickly rearranged my editorial schedule
The year was 2003. My high-school buddy Theresa flew from California to Maine and we road-tripped it down the coast to witness this legendary festival for ourselves. I was there to report on this show for my fledgling site, Knitter's Review, just three years old then.
For years I've wanted to find solid historical information about knitting that could help me understand who and what came before me. Few if any books broached the subject in anything more than a cursory manner.
One exception is this painstakingly researched book by Richard Rutt,
For more than 140 years, sheep have grazed along the Columbia Plateau in north central Oregon. Many of them were brought there by rancher Richard Rolland Hinton, a homesteader and respected sheepman whose early crossbreeding efforts helped develop what eventually became the Columbia sheep breed.
Occupying 3,000 acres along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, Beaverslide Dry Goods is a family ranch whose Rambouillet/Merino sheep produce the yarns you see here.
When the sheep are shorn, their fibers are sent to a small woolen mill in Alberta, Canada, for processing. The mill practices
Restaurants sometimes offer a house wine that's of decent quality, reasonably priced, and available by the glass. Some yarn shops offer the knitterly equivalent, their own "house" yarn. And just like house wines, some are more memorable than others.
Halcyon Yarn is one of the most
If you've been to a yarn shop lately, you've likely seen an odd little plastic device clamped to a table. The crank handle turns a conical center in wobbly circular rotations much like the Tilt-a-Whirl amusement park rides.
What is this odd thing, why do so
In the universal lexicon of hand gestures, if you stand in front of a knitter and hold out your arms, with your palms facing one another, you've just offered to hold that person's hank of yarn while he or she winds it into a ball.
Few companies can produce consistently beautiful hand-dyed yarns in quantities sufficient enough for large-scale distribution. Lorna's Laces is one.
The color combinations range from brilliant to bare whispers, with a small line of single colors that still carry subtle variations in hue. Although some catalogs and Web
If you've read Interweave Knits in its early years, you may already be familiar with Ann Budd. The managing editor of the magazine, she's also responsible for the encyclopedic "Grand Plan" patterns.
Each pattern in the series contains instructions for knitting a simple garment type in
Who says you can only knit with yarn? The truth is, if you can wrap it around your needles and make stitches with it, you can knit with just about anything—from recycled grocery bags to licorice.
Knitting your own jewelry can be lots of fun, and
Every once in a while I stumble across a technique that makes knitting fun again. This time it came from adding bright, beautiful beads to my knitting.
Whether as eyes for animal motifs, glitter for evening attire, or just a little something extra on a simple
Kidsilk Haze belongs on that short list of exquisite, special-occasion yarns. It combines two delicate strands of silk with the very finest mohair fibers an angora goat ever produces.
The silk glimmers through the gentle mohair fuzz like San Francisco's city skyline through the fog. Did
A common misconception is that all yarns are alike, and that substituting one for another is merely a process of swapping needle sizes until it knits at your pattern's intended gauge. At the other end of the spectrum are knitters who live in fear of varying
For most people, the practice of spinning, weaving, and knitting are a luxury rather than a necessity. But during Colonial American times, the home-based making and selling of textiles played a key role in establishing political independence and cultural identity.
A Clearer Look at History
This book is
If you're a fan of quick-knitting projects or enjoy unusual textures and color combinations, why not consider stranding your next project? I don't mean dumping it out the car window or leaving it on a deserted park bench.
Rather, I'm talking about the kind of stranding
Have you ever wondered why some people are drawn to one color, while others prefer a totally different palette? Why do we feel blue, roll out the red carpet for royalty, or get green with envy? Many theorists believe that colors offer a direct insight into
You don't need to wear a mask or use toxic chemicals to experiment with dyeing. Simply pick a few packets of any standard powdered drink mix and let your imagination run wild.
Because the process is quick and safe, it's a great project for kids. It
Whenever I visit yarn shops, I always ask the staff about their personal favorites. When the folks at San Francisco's Atelier Yarns and Little Rock's Handworks Gallery both raved about this yarn, I knew I had to review it. (Both stores are, alas, long gone.)
A smooth yet lofty Italian
Step 1: Casting On
If possible, cast all your stitches onto one needle. You can put a tip protector or rubber band on the non-working end of the needle to keep stitches from falling off.
The reason for this is simple: You want your cast-on stitches to
Many people are intimidated by the concept of using double-pointed needles, since it requires coordination of not two but four (and even five) separate needles. The truth is, once you get the hang of them, DPNs are extremely easy and useful tools.
Why go for DPNs?
Circular needles aren't actually circular – they're made up of a long strand of nylon cord with two short needles attached at either end.
Because each end has a pointed needle, you don't have to stop at the end of a row and turn your work
Remember when your favorite sweater got lost in a load of laundry, and the next time you saw it, it had shrunk into a miniature, blanket-textured doggy sweater? There's a name for this phenomenon: felting. And if you plan ahead, you can use the very
The same instinct that tells you not to wash your hair with laundry detergent applies to yarn as well. Such harsh soaps can be murder on a garment you took great care (possibly at great expense) to create. So take heed.
All protein fibers, from wool