Oh Brooklyn Tweed, how I love you. Let me count the ways....
Brooklyn Tweed is actually based in Portland but at one time in its life called Brooklyn home. I pretty much love everything about this yarn company. The thing that caught my eye first was BT, as a company, are into thoughtful production- taking wool from American breeds of sheep, using minimal processing, and keeping each step of the supply chain in country and sourced from partners with ethical business practices. I like that. Even as knitters and weavers, we can make a difference.
Moving past their business practices, they offer a large collection of wonderful patterns. (They also offer a lot of free tutorials on their blog.) The knitwear they curate is modern, sleek, thoughtful, and more often than not, very beautiful. It meshes with my personal tastes as a knitter very well. Coupled with this is their yarn. I have now had experience with two of their lines. Vale is their laceweight yarn offering and Shelter a worsted, sweater weight yarn.
I am currently playing with their Shelter line, which is a Targhee-Columbia blend. For all you spinners out there, it really is a woolen spun yarn. It is so light and squishy! I love it. I am using it to knit a sweater, which I know will be warm without being super heavy because of this woolen delight. Because of how it is spun, there are some thinner and thicker parts to the yarn, giving it a more "rustic" appearance. Also, because of the minimal processing, you sometimes come across a little bit of veggie matter. For being so wooly, it actually is surprisingly soft. I haven't gotten to the wet blocking stage of my project, but word on the street is that this final step really helps this yarn sing. This is going to be a definite go-to yarn for me when knitting sweaters.
Available from various retailers for approx. $15.00 a skein.
This is a single-ply, bulky weight yarn good for needle sizes US 10-11 or 6-8 mm.
Yardage= 130 yds (119 m)
100% Merino Superwash Wool
I feel like I'm gravitating toward single-ply yarns lately. They are just so delicious and squishy and, I feel, really show off the fiber from which they are created to great effect. One such example of my single-ply obsession is the Malabrigo Mecha bulky weight yarn. My mother-in-law recently came for a visit, and while casually perusing the numerous knitting magazines I had about the house, she found a cowl she really liked. She did not ask directly, but she sort of implied she would enjoy owning said cowl. What a perfect present, then! I love knitting, she loves cowls...it's a match made in heaven.
The pattern, which I promise I will share when it's done, or at least more done than it is now, called for two contrasting colors in a bulky yarn. I stumbled upon the Malabrigo at my local yarn shop and thought it was the perfect fit. I've begun knitting the cowl, and it already feels really warm and, as I mentioned before, squishy. Yay! It's exactly what I wanted for the project. I have wound all my yarn and started my cowl with about 4 inches knit (it is knit in rows and joined at the end) and I have not had any problems with breakage or tangles. And have I mentioned how soft it is? Oh my goodness, I just want to curl up in my tiny bit of cowl. The yarn itself also has a variation in its thickness, but never gets too thin or chunks out too far.
Mecha is one of 18 different yarn types offered by Malabrigo and at last count had over 40 colorways available. (Malabrigo boasts over 300 different colors throughout all their yarns, and if you are at all familiar with the company, you must know they are ALL gorgeous.) One of the things I love most about Malabrigo yarns are their colors. They are hand-dyed, so there is natural variation in all of the skeins, which is part of the charm. The good people at Malabrigo have really done a wonderful job capturing inspiration in the form of yarn. The vibrancy of their colors is really something else. If you cannot get to a store to check out their yarns in person, I would highly recommend at least checking out their website to see their lovely color palette. They two colors I have featured on this page are "natural" and "teal feather."
The company is based in Uruguay, starting as a small kitchen operation and now operating a mill in Parque Tecnológico Industrial del Cerro, a Technology and Industry Park in Montevideo, Uruguay with a brand new mill in Peru. They have made upgrades to their equipment to try to reduce their ecological footprint and are advocates of sustainability. Their wool comes from free-range sheep that are "herded by actual old-style shepherds." They are focused on the humane treatment of their sheep and providing a quality, responsibly sourced product.
Bottom Line: Malabrigo Mecha is a wonderful bulky yarn to work with. It comes in rich, vibrant colors (as well as natural) and is a high quality single-ply. I have used Malabrigo yarns in the past and have never had a bad experience. By all accounts, Malabrigo is doing their part to be a responsible source of fiber. While it is perhaps a little expensive, it is worth the money for those special projects. It will be a delight to knit with and the project will look beautiful when it's finished.
Lamb's Pride Superwash yarn is a line available from Brown Sheep Company. As far as I know, they only distribute wholesale, but many local yarn shops and a ton of online retailers carry this "Made in the USA" brand. I purchased my stash from my local shoppe. Lambs Pride has particular appeal for me because it is all natural and extremely affordable when compared to other wools carried in house at the yarn store. Each skien is less than $5.00. You can't beat that. Especially if you're whipping up something as a practice run on a design or need the nice finish of a real wool but not the high price of the more luxury end yarns.
I did some reading about the Brown Sheep company, it is a family owned business that started over 100 years ago. The mill is located in Nebraska and has been passed down generations as it matured and grew into what it is today. The company is interested in sustainability and green processing methods even while they grow and expand to over 1000 colors and multiple lines of yarn. It seems to be a responsible company that is succeeding while living out a real American dream type story. It was very inspirational learning about the company and makes me feel good to support them.
I have used the Lamb's Pride on a number of projects, including a set of gloves and hat I knit for my sister this past Christmas as well as a shawl I currently have on needles. The yarn produces very nice stitch definition but is a little stiff and a bit scratchy. It definitely feels like what most non-knitters imagine when you utter the word "wool." However, it does ease up in the scratchiness after you wet block a project, as I learned with my sister's gift. There are an absolute ton of colors to choose from and they have done a nice job making colors that look nice together. (Especially when you choose one of their yarns that has different colors spun together. "Mountain Peak" is one I have featured here.) I have not had any issues with the colors running, staining my wooden needles or washing out. I bet, and I haven't tried so I can't say for sure, this yarn would be great for any kind of color work. This superwash wool is available in fingering, sport, worsted and chunky...so if you can dream it, you can knit it with this yarn.
Bottom Line: This is a solid workhorse of a yarn. It is a good quality yarn for an affordable price from a responsible, family-owned company. I look forward to sampling some of their other yarns available.
Knit Picks Preciosa Tonal Yarn
Available from KnitPicks
100% Merino Wool Worsted Weight
$11.99 100g Hank
featured in Pokeberry
I had the thought yesterday that perhaps it would be helpful for me to review more of the yarns I used in my projects. Especially with yarns that are predominately available through online retailers, it's sometimes hard to know what to expect. Today, I'm working on a hat using KnitPicks Preciosa tonal yarn in pokeberry. It is a vivid pink color. On my computer, it looks a little more purple than it is in real life- in real life it is PINK. Like in-your-face pink. But that's okay because that is what I wanted. I read up on this squishy worsted weight yarn, and apparently it was a reserve yarn that was so popular, KnitPicks added it to their permanent collection. There are 16 colors available that include jewel tones as well as black, brown and grey.
The yarn is a single-ply merino wool. What this means is that there is only one strand in the yarn. In contrast, something that is two-ply (or greater) would have two strands of fiber wound together to make the yarn. There is something very special about single-ply yarns. I feel they really allow the fiber to show its natural texture; it reminds me of roving, in a way. This particular single-ply yarn is very squishy and soft, too, which makes it perfect for things like hats or scarves but can also be used for larger projects like sweaters to great effect. In my experience, single-ply yarns can be a little temperamental, I sometimes have trouble with inconsistent thickness and breaking. However, Preciosa seems to be very even and strong; I have not had any trouble with breaks.
This is a tonal yarn, so the color is variegated as you move through the hank. I have noticed a little pooling and striping, which sometimes frustrates knitters. It is not a hand-dyed yarn, so there is some uniformity expected in the yarn's tonal shifts. I read some other reviews of this yarn that proclaimed it to be self striping, but I have not had quite that severe an experience. I only mention this so you can plan your project accordingly. If your last wish is for pooling or subtle striping, this is not your yarn. The color range within the hank is very nice, not creating too drastic a shift in hue. In my pokeberry, the color shifted from the dark bubble gum color to the lighter candy pink, but the two extremes are not drastically different from one another, allowing you to create a unified looking project. I am including a photograph of a swatch done in a 2x2 rib followed be a stockinette stitch so that hopefully you can see the stitch definition (which I think is quite lovely) and the color shifts. You can see some of the striping that occurred in the stockinette stitch and the pooling that happened in the ribbing. This, I think, is just a natural part of using variegated yarn, though.
Bottom Line: I really like this worsted weight single-ply. It is very soft, feels good while you are knitting it, and is very affordably priced. The tonal shifts are not crazy, put there can be some pooling or striping in your project. The colors available are vibrant and fun, it is a yarn that will make you smile.
Purl Soho Worsted Twist Yarn
100% Merino Wool
For Christmas, my wonderful husband bought me nine hanks of the Purl Soho Worsted Twist. It runs about $20.00 a hank, unless on sale. A hank is approximately 164 yards with a 4-5 st/in gauge. This is a little more thank I like to spend on yarn when I am just putzing around and making something for myself. (Gifts are a completely different beast, I tend to overspend a lot when making gifts. Whoever says handmade gifts are cheaper than store-bought gifts is seriously delusional.) However, I got around this yarn purchasing guilt by planting the little seed in my husbands head that it would make a lovely gift. So, I didn't buy it- he bought it. Blame defaults to him.
I love looking through the free patterns on Purl Soho's website, but this is the first time I've ever used their yarn. I have to say, I am more than pleased with the quality and feel of this yarn. I am working on the Seed Stitch Wrap available in their free patters. (http://www.purlsoho.com/create/2013/09/05/new-worsted-twist-seed-stitch-scarf/) I felt this was a beautiful way to showcase the yarn in a wide, simple stitch wrap with large swaths of color. It works up fairly fast, too, which is a bonus. I am actually pleasantly surprised by how obvious a difference there is in this worsted weight merino compared to some of the more economical options available out there. It is so soft, it really doesn't even feel like wool. I would say if I did a blind touch test, I would have thought this was a soft cotton over a wool, though I would be very sad if I washed it like cotton. I would even dare to say it could be baby blanket soft.
More impressive than the feel, though that is quite impressive, are the colors! I love the richness of the colors. The Super Pink really is as bold as it looks on your computer screen and the Timeless Navy is rich with an expressive depth. I think the potential for unique and beautiful projects is quite expansive with the yarn.
Bottom Line: This yarn is very nice. It is a little pricey for casual use, but if you have a special project in mind- it's a luxurious feel with great color.