the true meaning of festivus

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, patterns, yarn and dyeing

hello friends! i’m so excited to be back in my blogging chair and writing about one of my favorite knitspot projects—our annual red scarf scholarship fundraiser. funding our scholarship has become a warm and inspiring tradition in our community, one that knits us together across the miles. i feel like it commemorates the fast and solid friendships we’ve nurtured through our years of knitting, chatting, clubbing, confessing, and laughing together here at the knitspot. it’s our chance to share the good fortune and support we’ve enjoyed, passing it on to an aspiring young person who is becoming a success on their own.

plus, it involves RED YARN—what’s not to love?

for those who are new to this, let’s start with the specifics. our scholarship is offered each year to one student (studying in a field related to our industry whenever possibly) participating in the foster care to success (FC2S) program for kids who have aged out of the foster care system and who aspire to continue their education. the fund provides and administers scholarships, life guidance, and help with handling the challenges of higher education.

this is jelissa roberts, our current scholarship recipient. she’s is a fashion business major at FIT in NYC and will graduate in may, thanks to her scholarship.

the red scarf fund was created through the knitting community to support FC2S students with emergency money for costs not covered by tuition and scholarships; the red scarf project is a way for knitters to contribute warming gifts and care packages to hardworking students as a special valentine’s treat.

the knitspot scholarship has its origins in the red scarf project—as i participated each year, i had the idea to publish a pattern to raise money for the care package postage fund. this effort grew and became SO popular, that within a few years, it was earning enough to fund a separate knitspot community scholarship. you can see all of our red scarf patterns, past and present in our online shop.

this year, in an effort to exceed all previous funding efforts, we are ginning up the fun factor with yet another new twist—MORE DESIGNERS AND PATTERNS! i am very please to announce that THIS year i am joined by the talented and generous Kerri Blumer, Kate Atherley, and Mary O’Shea in bringing you some red letter pattern choices for the holiday season. we’ve put together a crackerjack portfolio of people pleasing textures and color for quick, fun, last-minute gift knits as well as those to invest with love. the entire price of each and every pattern with be placed in the scholarship fund.

the first patterns are this gorgeous andiron scarf and andiron cowl designed by kerri blumer—read on for more purchasing details and kit options!

a few years ago, we started offering a special red yarn to go with the annual scarf design, for which we also donate a percentage. we call it festivus and it’s offered as a one-time, seasonal batch that is not repeated; when it’s gone it’s gone! what began as a mill accident has evolved into a MUCH anticipated competitive dash to acquire at least one skein—festivus usually disappears quickly, never to be seen again.

our 2017 festivus 4.0 yarn is dyed on our new patchwork gradient base by the very popular julie asselin, in her custom-for-us cranberry crush colorway. available in both festivus 4.0 worsted and festivus 4.0 sport weights, this cushy 2-ply yarn, is spun in 100 percent merino from varying shades of natural wool, which produces a slow-fade gradient fabric and subtle striping. the shading in each skein is completely random; every one is a unique work of art. this year’s yarn reminds me of red glass tree ornaments; they catch the light in such a variety of shades.

festivus 4.0 on patchwork gradient

we are making all the festivus that we ordered available NOW; we know everyone looks forward to getting some as soon as it it’s available. we’ll keep the fun going by offering the patterns on a continual rollout—every week or two another option will be presented to keep your fingers happily working in that gorgeous festivus yarn.

let’s get back to that beautiful andiron scarf and andiron cowl, designed by kerri blumer in Festivus 4.0 worsted

this is a nice, long scarf as shown, but as with any scarf the length is up to you and easily adjusted. the pattern is a soothing repetition of knit/purl texture, bordered by a simple cable at the edges.

its horizontal orientation makes the most of the slow-fade gradient yarn, resulting in subtle color transitions, even in a narrow piece. a super-squishy muffler for the coldest winter days and sure to be appealing to women and men alike.

to view more information or purchase a scarf pattern, please click here for our store listing, where you can also choose to add a donation using the pulldown menu; we will be happy to add it to your ravelry library afterward if you request it.
OR click here to purchase on ravelry (no extra donation option).

and we have kits all made up for you in festivus 4.0 merino 2-ply gradient. the kit includes the yarn and pattern, plus you may add a donation if you choose. a percentage of the yarn price PLUS the entire pattern price (and donation) will be added to the scholarship fund.

the andiron cowl has the same handsome texture as the scarf. here, the cable feature along the edge takes on the appearance of a ribbon edging.

the edging has a split at on side to encourage just the right amount of slouchiness and drape—it covers the open lapel of a coat, but stands tall to shield your face from the wind if needed.

to view more information or purchase a cowl pattern, please click here for our store listing, where you can also choose to add a donation using the pulldown menu; we will be happy to add it to your ravelry library afterward if you request it.
OR click here to purchase on ravelry (no extra donation option).

we also have cowl kits all made up for you in festivus 4.0 merino 2-ply gradient. the kit includes the yarn and pattern, plus you may add a donation if you choose. a percentage of the yarn price PLUS the entire pattern price (and donation) will be added to the scholarship fund.

i would like to thank kerri so very much for designing these pieces for the scholarship fundraiser; she’s just awesome and she has lots of beautiful designs to share—be sure to check out her ravelry shop.

want a lil peek at some of what we have in store for you from our other designer contributors?

lots of clever detail, schmooshy texture, and FUN to come!

now, let’s talk about goals . . . last year we set a goal of $5000 but unfortunately did not meet it, falling rather short. i would love, love, LOVE to make it up this year and top the charts with the best fundraiser ever.

let’s try to exceed last year’s goal of $5000—can we get to $6000 this year??

to do that, we need to sell all the yarn and tons of pattern too—want to be part of it? you can help out in several ways:

  1. purchase a scarf pattern or cowl pattern and/or add an extra donation on our website—use the pulldown menu to increase your gift and we will donate the entire pattern price PLUS that extra amount. we are happy to add the pattern to your rav library if you let us know!! (but we have to do it manually, so please tell us)
  2. purchase a pattern on ravelry—the entire retail pattern price will go into the scholarship fund.
  3. purchase a nifty scarf or cowl kit which includes the pattern PLUS enough special edition festivus 4.0, to knit a scarf or cowl. we will add 5% of your yarn purchase price to the fund.
  4. buy one or more skeins of festivus 4.0 for any project and we will add 5% of your purchase price to the fund.
  5. please, please, PLEASE tell everyone you know about the fundraiser—they don’t need to be a knitter to throw $6 or $7 (or more!!) at this wonderful cause. please mention it with a link and hashtag on your Instagram, Facebook page (and link it), tweet it (with a link!), pin it (yes, with link) and finally just drag your friends over to look at the blog, haha. we’ll even give them a “knitter for a day badge” if they help out.
  6. join us for a fun red scarf KAL in our ravelry mothership—we promise a rollicking good time, plenty of support, and of course, neat-o prizes.

cardigan is a HUGE fan of this fundraising project by the way—as a former street dog, she knows all too well how tough it is out there on one’s own. you have to have to be smart and have guardian angels or be incredibly charming to snag a good gig. so she’s completely on board with what we’re doing.

hmmm, red or natural?? cardigan has been sniffing to decide which she prefers, but it’s a tough decision; she might have to knit a project in each one.

and with that, i’m going to sign off and go work on my own design contribution to the cause—secret for now, but i think you’ll like it.

oh, i guess cardigan decided she likes ALL the yarn and wants to keep it. she’s swatching now to figure out which to knit with first . . . and after that, scarf or cowl? or maybe she needs a blanket more.

thank you all so much in advance; let’s make 2017 our biggest year yet!

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!

 

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.

kent-close-up-1

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.

kent-close-up-2

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.

kent-close-up-3

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!

first course

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, lace/shawls, patterns, projects, yarn and dyeing

Pairings July 2016

We are so excited to finally reveal all of the details around our first shipment of Pairings, the club we’re running through Bare Naked Wools over the next few months. Pairings ships in July, September, November and January, and each shipment is centered around the idea that knitting and eating have a lot in common. These two activities connect us through the process of making to other people around us, and allow us to share skills we’ve developed with those who will best appreciate them.

The first shipment of Pairings is our appetizer course. Shipped out July 17th, this round centered around the perfect summer food – salads. Our partner chef, Katharine Wainwright,  shared the knowledge that a great salad can be built off of a particularly well thought-out dressing. Katharine shared her take on a traditional Green Goddess dressing and gave expert guidance on how to build the salad of your dreams (including a clever chart I will certainly be making use of on a regular basis!)

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A great salad is bright, refreshing, and celebrates the bounty of the season in which it is constructed and devoured. Anne and Erica approached the yarn for this round of club in much the same way. For the Bare Naked Wools selection this round, they used Hempshaugh Fingering, a unique blend of hemp, silk, and just a touch of merino wool. This yarn has a great, lightweight hand, making it perfect for warm weather knitting. In the dappled greys of Buckwheat, this hearty selection paired beautifully with the shine and texture from the featured dyer, Dragonfly Fibers. Endive, a citron shade reminiscent of it’s crisp namesake, is dyed on Dragonfly’s 100% tussah silk base, Rustic Silk.

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Like the best salads, Anne’s pattern cleverly combines seemingly different ingredients — lace, colored stripes, and textured stitches — into a knit that is both captivating and gratifyingly speedy. A slinky pi style shawl with a delicately ruffled edge that mimics the undulating edges of lettuce, this project changes texture every few inches, so you won’t get bored (and before you know it, you’ll be at the bind off edge!) For those of you concerned with finishing projects as they come in, this is a great way to start — several club members have already finished knitting only a few weeks in.

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I am so excited to see what’s in the next round. I think my favorite part about this club is that each shipment is paired with a packet of information — including Anne’s thoughts on design and yarn choice, followed by chef Katharine Wainwright’s delicious recipe and thought process on the cooking portion, a selection of delicious beverage selections and recipes (cocktails, mocktails, wine, beer, or non-alcoholic choices are all included), and then the pattern. Pairings is so much more than a yarn club! To ask questions or see what members are saying about this shipment, be sure to check out our Ravelry group.