The yarns of Ensemble 2017

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, yarn and dyeing

Each time we release a new Ensemble collection, we spend a lot of time considering which yarns could be substituted for which patterns. While at first glance it might appear that a dk is equal to another dk, or a worsted to another worsted, the unique nature of how we make Bare Naked Wools’ yarns actually makes the process a bit more in-depth. Gauge across the board translates well from yarn to yarn in our lineup, but each yarn creates a unique fabric all its own.

We thought that before launching into another week of patterns (most specifically, the sweater patterns we know you have been waiting on), it would be good to discuss how the yarns develop and influence the garments in which they are featured. We’ll start with three and add some more after the next round of pattern releases.

Kent (DK & Worsted)

Kent, in both weights, made a lot of appearances in this year’s Ensemble. You might even say that it’s “having a moment” with our designers. This two ply blends Merino and Romney wools – one for softness and squishability, the other for shine, strength, and enhanced stitch character. When working in Kent, you know that what you make will last and look beautiful for a long time. The wide range of colors available, from creamy white to dark chocolate brown, made Kent a surprise favorite for colorwork in patterns like those from the Snowy Evening Woods set. It was also featured heavily in garments, including Anne’s extensive Herringweave pattern and in upcoming Minato. One of our favorite features of Kent is it’s chameleon-like ability to work wonderfully on a wide range of needle sizes. Kent DK can be used as a light worsted, dk, or sport, while Kent Worsted can fill out aran or knit at a tidy, tighter DK gauge.

Cabecou (Lace and Sport)

The first release of our collection, Volta, had us sold out of some colors in Cabecou Sport in no time flat. Just as beautiful in real life as in photos, Cabecou has a richness and shine to it from the mohair content. This yarn is relaxed, with drape that enhances shawls and results in effortless-looking, high-quality garments. This yarn also blended surprisingly well with Kent DK in Urbanza. While some of our other wools might seem to heavy for warmer climates, Cabecou’s unique blend of mohair and wool allows for larger than average gauge. This versatility allows Cabecou to be knit with more open space, resulting in lighter garments that allow the halo to lift from the finished fabric. While it’s a joy to knit with this yarn, the true joy comes with repeated wear – Cabecou garments actually look better with time as the halo can fully develop.

Better Breakfast (Fingering, DK, Worsted) 

The yarn that started it all. Better Breakfast was our first Bare Naked Wools yarn, introduced in our very first club. Spun up on the dream that you, our dear readers and followers and clubbies, might want a yarn that was as true to the fiber as possible, without alteration or interference. This yarn has a wonderful range of color due to the content – local Ohio de-haired alpaca, blended with soft Merino wool. Paired with multiple plies and a tight spin, this yarn is everything knitters dream of: softness, durability, and a squishy hand that even makes knitting swatches pleasurable! Available in multiple weights, this yarn was featured throughout this year’s Ensemble collection, in accessories like the Minstrel Shawl or Abri Hat and Cowl to the gorgeous Rocky Fork Pullover; designers just love its velvety depth.

We hope that you’re enjoying Ensemble as much as we are this year, and will try some of the patterns in the yarns for which they were intended, but also experiment and step outside of the box. We encourage your substitutions – our yarns are created to meet the needs of knitters through the creation of soft and luxurious garments. No chemicals, dyes, or harsh processing, so the resulting fabrics are durable and give you the true character of the fiber.

As always, our yarns come from animals that are loved and doted on, and our mills understand and appreciate their materials. Each yarn is carefully constructed and much thought is put into spin, hand, and content. For knitters, by knitters!

 

Join us for a Fiber Journey in 2017!

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We just wanted to take a moment to remind you all that signups are still open for our next round of Bare Naked Knitspot Club. If you’ve never participated in one of our clubs before, I’d like to tell you how different they are from your standard yarn club:

LIMITED SHIPMENTS

We know that a lot of you are pretty serious about your knitting. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been knitting for years, a yarn club is a big commitment, especially when it extends over a whole year. With Bare Naked Knitspot, we prepare four carefully curated shipments of high quality, unusual fiber that you might not experience outside the club. It’s not a major stash enhancement or a renewing subscription. You pay once, and then we send yarn with patterns designed to show it off at its best. It’s that easy!

EXTRAS WITH VALUE

Some clubs like to send little trinkets or snacks along with your yarn. Others send needles. We love all of these ideas, but when we pulled together as a team and decided on the goodies for this club, we wanted to send along things that you could actually use again, and again, and again. Our extras for this round of Bare Naked Knitspot are thoughtfully selected especially for this club, which means they’re more likely to be something you’re interested in getting (and keeping) well beyond the last shipment.

NATURAL SELECTION

We have two main club types: Natural and Dyed. The names of these clubs change around a bit – Pairings, Fall in Full Color, and Envy are good examples of our color clubs, where you get a range of different dyed yarns, while Bare Naked Knitspot clubs will always feature yarns in their natural tones. In BNK, we often enjoy custom yarns in exotic fibers, spun by our partner mills or suppliers exclusively for the club. And when we develop a new yarn to add to our established lines, BNK clubbies usually get to see it first. We think that some variety is pretty great, but this also allows you to pick and choose which club cycles interest you most.

MORE THAN JUST PATTERNS

Each shipment, we update your club eBook with the latest installment. These chapters don’t just include patterns, but also tips, tricks, and interesting information and thoughts from our suppliers and from founder/creative director Anne Hanson. Anne has designed hundreds of patterns and puts a lot of thought into each and every one we send out with our club. She personally writes and researches the e-book topics so that you get the best information, straight from her, to make the most of each yarn we send.

COMMUNITY

You aren’t just one monthly member of a huge club with us – you’re part of a group of people who are passionate about great yarn and fiber. Our Ravelry group is extremely active and fun, and many members come back again and again because they make life long friends in our clubs. Our active moderators are members too, and we constantly seek feedback and thoughts from our participants about what they would like to see in upcoming cycles.

Knitspot clubs are so much more than just a standard yarn club! We hope that you’ll join us with our latest fiber exploration cycle, Bare Naked Knitspot 2017, because we have so many beautiful things in store for you. Give us a chance to show you how great yarn clubs can really be!

Yarn Close Up: Kent

Posted on 8 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, projects, yarn and dyeing

Around this time of year, I find myself reaching towards the DK and Worsted weight yarns more than any other. While I enjoy lighter weight yarns year round (and you know that Anne does), I think that there’s something about the chilly weather hitting the Northern Hemisphere that makes me want to knit with something warm, wooly, and a little bit thick. During a recent visit to the Bare Naked Wools headquarters in Canton, OH, I found myself being drawn to Kent, which luckily happens to come in both of these weights. There’s something about the way this yarn is plied that just keeps me enthralled, and today, I’m going to explore the why of it a little more.

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ANATOMY OF A YARN

Kent’s worsted and dk structures are more or less the same. The fiber is a blend of 60% Merino wool and 40% Romney. You might know about Merino – most knitters do – but Romney is often mistakenly classified as a ‘rug wool’ or sadly labeled as ‘scratchy’. It’s true that some Romney wools are scratchy, but not the one in this blend. I honestly couldn’t have told you it was Romney from first touch. Did you know that when Romney wools are dyed, they lose some of their inherent softness? Even high quality Romney feels like a totally different fiber when it’s been dyed by the best of the best. You really haven’t experienced this wool until you’ve felt it in a near-natural state (like Kent!).

The yardage is great on this yarn – 220 yards on the Worsted, and 300 yards for our DK. One of the things we always like to stress to anyone buying Bare Naked Wools is that our yardage often stretches a bit further than your average skein, given that each of the yarns can be knit at many different gauges. You could try the worsted in an aran weight gauge, for instance, or bring the DK down for an incredibly lofty Sport weight feel. That’s why we show a wider range of needle recommendations, too. (8 – 10 US needle for the worsted, and anywhere from a 3 – 7 for the DK!)

Kent is a two ply, and one of the squishiest two plies I’ve ever used — the plies nestle up against each other and when the swatch (or garment) is washed, fill up the empty space in a beautiful way. Because Romney is a longwool, it adds luster and shine to the supremely soft Merino, and adds a bit of drape to the finished fabric.

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SWATCHING

Like all Bare Naked Wools, our Kent benefits from a nice long soak in warm (or hot) water with a bit of wool wash (read how to make your own here.) Wool goes through a lot before it gets to you, and while we skip many portions of that process in favor of a more natural texture in our yarns, each skein has still sat on mill floors, been through spinning machines that likely deposited a bit of oil onto the yarn, and has been handled, then stored in plastic bags until it was shipped to you. It’s not that the skeins are dirty, in the same way that you aren’t necessarily dirty after a long trip, but don’t you — and your yarn — deserve a bit of freshening up time before you’re ready to be judged by someone new?

Anne recommends waiting until your hot water is completely cool before taking your swatches out of the bath, and then letting them soak again for a similar amount of time (no swishing needed) if your first bath is at all cloudy or tinted. After they’re removed, roll them out in a clean towel and squish some of the excess water from them, then vigorously ‘pop’ the swatch from all directions to really help those fibers bloom. Ever wonder why so many top-tier designers like to knit sweaters in pieces? It allows this type of movement of washed garments in a manageable way before they’re pinned out to dry in the correct measurements. I found that my swatches for Bloch Ness ended up telling me I needed to go down another needle size — something I never would have known without this crucial step.

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PROJECT PROPOSALS

Swatches completed, my first cast on for 2017 will be Anne’s Bloch Ness sweater. I’m knitting a size up to give myself a roomy, oversized fit. We’ll be recommending some of our favorite Kent patterns on social media this week, so be sure to follow along on our Facebook page or Instagram. The newest Ensemble, due to be released later this month, will also feature a few patterns in this deliciously springy wool.

In the meantime, if you’re searching your Ravelry queues for a new project, we can’t recommend Kent enough for anything that has a massive quantity of stockinette or knit-purl textured stitches or could use a bit of spring. While this yarn does do well with cables, lace, and everything in between, I’ve personally found that one of my favorite applications is mindless knitting – the pleasure of feeling this yarn between your fingers is enough to make any project more interesting.

Now excuse me, I have a sweater to knit!

Countdown to Ensemble!

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Every new year needs new patterns, inspiration, and ideas, and at Knitspot, we’re sure to provide them. We have planned so much for you this year, starting with a very exciting launch: Ensemble 2017 will come out this month. Ensemble, for those of you who are newer followers, is a collection of individual patterns from amazing designers, all knit in beautiful Bare Naked Wools yarns. This year, we’re launching some of the patterns with the main group, and then adding a bonus pattern (or two) along the way.

We thought it might be even more fun to lead up to the launch with some little hints and sneak peeks at our Lookbook, probably one of our favorite parts of each Ensemble cycle. The Lookbook showcases the patterns so that you can flip through and decide what you’d like to cast on first (the best part of knitting outside of wearing a finished project!)

Keep an eye on this space, but also on our Facebook, Ravelry, and Instagram presences so that you’ll get to view all these surprises as they pop up throughout the next few weeks.

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