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 graduates, International Trumpet Guild Conference, Midwest Haunters Convention, and members of the Rolling Stones with whom we shared our hotels and convention center that weekend.
Here are some yarn highlights from the show, my picks of noteworthy additions to look for at your LYS this fall.
Kismet Fiber Works
Color abounded at the show. Just for kicks, I went through the show program and began circling each yarn vendor that had included the words “hand-dyed” in its description. I had many, many circles.
I was happy to see one of my favorite, relatively young hand-dyers at the show: Kismet Fiber Works. Their color sense, and their ability to pair color with fiber, are uncanny. In addition to the kinds of bases you’d expect from a hand-dyer, they also had a much more unusual one called Pamiri, featuring 100% cashgora fibers spun by hand in Tajikistan.
From the Mountain
You can’t mention handspun from faraway countries without mentioning From the Mountain, a new vendor this year offering cashmere handspun by women in Afghanistan. The yarn is the end product of a long-running USAID project intended to help Afghanistan refine its (previously considered lower-grade) cashmere goat population, invigorate its fiber-processing infrastructure, and also help generate a sustainable income for nearly 800 village women near Fayzabad in Badakhstan province.
A new color player was Feederbrook Farm, offering American-spun, fleece-dyed yarns in richly saturated, semi-variegated colorways. The strands are plied together such that the dominant colorway comes through while a contrasting, and constantly changing sub-color, makes its way through as well.
Sweet Georgia Yarns
Gradients continue to fascinate both dyers and shop owners alike. Sweet Georgia Yarns was previewing two new bases—a superwash sport-weight Merino and a Merino/cashmere blend with 10% Stellina for silvery sparkle—along with small-skein gradient kits in exquisitely subtle shades.
Fresh from the UK, Fyberspatespreviewed a new set of quietly subtle colors that veer from the company’s trademark richly saturated hues. I imagine them being stunning both on their own and when combined with the stronger shades.
Baa Ram Ewe
Also over from the UK was Baa Ram Ewe, which unveiled its much-anticipated Dovestone DK, a skein of which I’ve been coveting ever since Edinburgh. This DK-weight two-ply yarn is 50% Bluefaced Leicester, 25% Wensleydale, and 25% dark brown masham. It has strength and luster and an airy bounce that makes knitting (and squeezing finished projects) profoundly pleasurable.
The Fibre Co.
Now happily resettled in the UK, The Fibre Co. also returned to TNNA to preview another gorgeous British creation. Fittingly called Cumbria, this airy three-ply contains 60% Merino from South America, 30% Masham wool from the UK, and 10% mohair from Argentina. Besides the subtlety of the fiber blend itself, part of the magic here is in the naturally brown Masham, which gives all of the dyed colors a deeper, more nuanced effect.
Meanwhile, farther afield in New Zealand, our friends at Zealana have been busy coming up with a new sock yarn that would wear well while showcasing brushtail possum fibers. The yarn is Cozi, made from 58% Merino, 22% nylon, 15% brushtail possum down, and 5% baby alpaca. They chose what they considered a stronger grade of Merino (at 22 microns, it’s still on a prickle-free side of soft), softening it up with a dusting of baby alpaca, strengthening it with the nylon, and then giving it that magical halo from the possum down. I can’t wait to try this one out.
The Rowan booth dazzled with samples from its new partnership with Swarovski. The CREATE YOUR STYLE SHINE collection (capitalization theirs, not mine) features artfully paired Swarovski crystals and glimmering Rowan yarns (especially Kidsilk Haze) in a new collection of patterns. You’ll be stringing the beads into your knitting, except when you splurge on a tiny ball of Kidsilk Haze Shine that includes some 100 crystals prestrung along 10 yards of yarn—best used for necklines and trim.
For those who are tired of trying to match your self-striping skein in order to create a matching pair of socks, you’re going to like this one. The folks at Schachenmayr have taken their popular Regia sock yarn and made a super simple modification to the colorway: Where one sock should end and the next begin in order to have a perfectly matching pair, you’ll find a length of very bright, hard-to-miss yellow yarn.
For almost every foot, you’ll have plenty of yarn to complete one sock before ever reaching the yellow. When you’re done with that first sock, simply proceed to the end of the yellow bit and you’ll have your colorway in the precise location to cast on for a matching second sock.
Back at home, Swans Island Company showed off its 100% Rambouillet wool yarn, part of the All American Collection and, as that name suggests, made entirely in the United States. This sport-weight, two-ply woolen-spun yarn is all about airiness and squeezability, and it comes in a full palette of vibrant, hand-dyed colors. My fingers are itching to swatch.
Last but not least, here is a fun way to store all these gorgeous new yarns when you get them home. Before they get relegated to the oblivion of Rubbermaid tubs, put those skeins in a colorful organza KnowKnits GoKnit Pillow.
They’re made in New York and come in multiple sizes to fit nearly any bench, shelf, or home.