a trio of TNNA finds

A Trio of TNNA Finds

The Summer 2011 TNNA trade show took place in Columbus earlier this month. It's a giant semiannual schmooze-fest of yarn companies, publishers, tool makers, and, increasingly, knitwear designers who sell their patterns direct to the public. Nobody was quite sure how attendance compared to previous shows, but they all told me the same thing: the people who were at the show were placing serious orders. Which is good news for our knitting ecosystem.

What were they ordering? I'll be showing you much more over the coming months. But first, I offer three new product highlights to whet your appetite. They represent a reassuring blend of new, old, and entirely practical.

Meet Your Solemate

Solemate in the color Lincoln Park Zoo
Fiber innovation was alive and well at the show. Outlast® is a synthetic fiber that has been infused with patented microcapsules called Thermocules® that absorb, store, and release body heat in such a way that the wearer stays comfortable at all times.

This "phase-changing" adaptive-comfort® material (as the Outlast Web site describes it) is being used in everything from sportswear to child seats, body armor, and beer labels. Thanks to the intrepid curiosity of Lorna's Laces, you can also experience Outlast® for yourself in the company's new yarn Solemate, which made its debut at TNNA. Spun quite appropriately for socks, Solemate contains 55% superwash Merino, 15% nylon, and 30% Outlast®.

While I'm slightly skeptical of any synthetic product that claims to improve upon what nature provides in wool, there's no doubting the excitement and intrigue surrounding this fiber—or its cool touch to the hand. I encourage you to preorder a skein for yourself, give it a try, and let me know what you think.

A Classic Trio

three new yarns from Classic Elite
Meanwhile Classic Elite Yarns 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.

three new yarns from Classic Elite
First is Crestone, a hearty and hard-working wool that knits up at 4 3/4 stitches per inch on US 6-7 (4-4.5mm) needles. Crestone is made of three tightly twisted strands that are plied together at a near perpendicular angle, resulting in a quite springy, round yarn. It will ship in 50g skeins of approximately 100 yards each.

three new yarns from Classic Elite
Next is Vista, a slightly softer blend of 50% superfine alpaca and 50% wool. This yarn has a hint less twist to it than Crestone, resulting in a more relaxed but still fairly rounded three-ply yarn. Vista knits up at the same gauge as Crestone, making it a suitable substitute or companion to Crestone projects. The yarn will ship in similarly sized skeins to Crestone.

three new yarns from Classic Elite
Finally, the softest and most luxurious of the three is called Vail. For a yarn line claiming eco-friendliness, Vail contains a rather unusual but cost-effective blend of 70% baby alpaca and 30% bamboo viscose. Nearly identical to rayon, bamboo viscose is a manufactured fiber made from the regenerated cellulose of bamboo plants. It gives a fineness, luster, and drape to the final product while costing significantly less than silk. Vail knits up at 6 3/4 stitches per inch on size US 3 (3.25mm) needles, and will ship in 50g skeins holding a generous 236 yards.

the Della Q double case for the Denise Interchangeable needles
Denise Goes Soft
The Denise Interchangeable Needles are made entirely in the U.S. and ship in rigid plastic cases. Many knitters are fond of the cases, which have a convenient slot for each needle, cord, end button, and extender in the set. But others have longed for a softer, more huggable alternative.

Denise responded with the Denise Organizer, going to great lengths to source each component of the organizer in the U.S. But it was difficult, and it came at a price: The case itself, without any needles, retails for $55.

the Della Q double case for the Denise Interchangeable needles
If they couldn't source an affordable product in the United States, they partnered with someone else whose business ethics matched their own. Enter Della Q, an importer of bags and fabrics from Vietnam.

While Della Q already offers cases for most interchangeable knitting needle kits, only the Denise Interchangeable Needles come with both knitting and crochet needle tips. At TNNA, Denise previewed a lovely new Della Q Double needle case (shown here) that has been customized to hold the entire Denise line. It comes fully stocked with 12 sizes of knitting needles, 12 crochet hooks, 9 cords, 4 end buttons, and 2 extenders. It retails for $109.95. A special pink case features pink cords and retails for $114.95, the extra $5 going to breast cancer research—for which Denise has collected and donated more than $150,000 to date.

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