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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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