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!

tree hugger

Posted on 4 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, projects

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the holiday weekend was a good time to get a bunch of knitting done and while i have a few secret projects on the needle that i can’t share, i can tell you that i’m making excellent progress on my birches cardigan. last time you saw it i think it was just the start of the front.

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i’ve been sharing my birches progress on our instagram while posting more about the red scarf fundraiser here last week (i’ll catch you up on that in a minute). i’ve taken over our IG account in order to share photos more often—so if i haven’t blogged on a particular day, you can probably find me posting over there. sometimes it will overlap a bit but mostly not—i try to do more in-depth topics here on the blog, so still worth joining us here!

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the nice thing about this cardigan project is that in our stone soup DK—i’m knitting with the marble shade here—on size 8/5.0 mm needles, it knits up so incredibly fast. when i have an hour to knit, i can get a whole repeat of the cable pattern done (36 rows; not too shabby). now that i can see a quantity of fabric and with the distance of the camera lens, i am really liking the combination of cable and background texture.

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obviously this is not a birch tree, but i still enjoyed spotting that wavering texture in my back yard and then later, replicated in my knitting.

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i was soon at the underarm bind off, a milestone that i always celebrate with a little “yay” (in my head, not out loud, haha. unless i’m knitting with barb). there is something about reducing the stitch count by just a few that spurs me on.

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more progress on christmas morning; i really have to control how much i get off track from the deadline knitting i’m supposed to be doing, so i’ve had to limit my work on birches, even tho it would be SO easy to zoom ahead and finish it up. i know in my heart that finishing my obligations first will reward me with a relaxed frame of mind—or that’s what i tell myself anyway. and let’s face it, it’s ALL knitting, right? i’m so lucky that this is my job!

this is what it’s all about

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, designing, interviews, projects

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our red scarf fundraiser design—snow flies—knit by our dear friend barb. it looks like an ordinary scarf, one of hundreds you could choose to knit this season, but let me tell you how it is SO much more . . . and the most important $7 you could spend this holiday season.

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first, every cent from sales of this pattern through 12/31/16 will go into our scholarship fund. and if you are lovin’ on our red festivus 3.0 yarn as well, we are also donating a portion of the yarn and kit sales to the same fund (yes we have kits too, yay!)

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who knows, this could be the lifesaver you were looking for—a fast, fun project that can be finished by the 25th and make you  hero twice—once for a special student and once for that lucky recipient.

I always look forward to hearing from our sponsored student and from foster care to success, the organization that we work with to choose the student who will receive our scholarship.

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when our contact, tina raheem, wrote to me in august of this year, she included a photo of our previous recipient, brandy, taken during her study-abroad trip in florence. in this photo, it looks like she is visiting venice and is dressed for a masquerade; what a wonderful experience!

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in the same letter, she introduced me to our new scholarship recipient, jelissa and included a note from her as well.

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i was really REALLY touched to receive this beautifully written note from a young woman i hadn’t yet met or corresponded with. it gets right to the heart of what our scholarship is about—the safety net. here was a student who was faced unexpectedly with an extra year of school that she wasn’t sure how to pay for and there was our scholarship—the perfect fit (no pun intended, haha).

i asked permission to email jelissa myself, as i have done with our other recipients and got an immediate response:

I am so grateful for you and the Knitspot community for your generous donation to help further my education. If there’s anything you’d like to know about me, please feel free to ask. Just to start, I am 23 years old, from Dallas Texas (moved away when I was ten), currently living in Harlem, NY. I was placed in foster care at 13 years and aged out at 21. I graduated from the Borough of Manhattan Community College in December of last year, and will start classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology August 29th (fall semester).

Thank you again and I can’t wait to hear from you.
Jelissa Roberts

we had a little exchange of emails during the next few days and i liked her so much from what i read; i knew you all would love her too.

then a couple of weeks ago, i wrote to let jelissa know that our red scarf fundraising drive had begun and could she think about a photo essay to send us during this month to share with all of you. today, i received her photos and story, so here it is:

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I go to the Fashion Institute of Technology!! This is the 27th street & 7th Avenue entrance of my school.

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Just wanted to take a picture of one of our iconic yellow cabs.

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This is ME!!! I had a presentation for my AC111 class (Advertising and Promotions). My team and I did really well (I’m in Macy’s by the way, my school is pretty close by.)

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I took this in class before my professor came in!

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Here’s where I work; which happens to be Central Park!!
It’s called the North Meadow Recreation Center, located at 97th street Mid-Park. In the spring & summer I help out with the basketball clinics and tournaments, run my own fitness program, and join in on other programs in Central Park. Currently I’m running our Youth Hockey and Ice Skating clinics for the winter! I’ve been getting kids suited up in their hockey gear all week!

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I was on my way home, here’s a photo of the 145th street & St. Nicholas Station.

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AMC Times Square Movie theater! I got to see a free movie!

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I take this path to work every day.

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It’s me again, with my co-worker Joseph (we call him Cool Joey!). We’re on our way to the Annual staff holiday party.

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The holiday party is held at the Central Park Boathouse every year!

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Inside the party room.

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Thank you sooooo much for everything! I hope you enjoy the pictures!

isn’t she wonderful? thank you all who have purchased and contributed so far; we ALL really appreciate your kindness! doug tells me that our total so far is $2,050—and we’d like to get to $5000 this year so we’ve got a ways to go; please spread the word.

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and if you’ve been waiting a bit to see how the snow flies scarf turned out before diving in and purchasing, please know that the pattern is now final—those who have purchased can download a fresh copy and those who purchase now will receive the latest version.

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if you’d like a kit for a scarf/wrap size, click here; if it’s the stripey cowl you are after, click here—they are both available in our signature red festivus 3.0 or in beautiful natural shades (and kits or a pattern make a great gift!). tell your ravelry buds about it too or share on your Facebook, twitter, and instagram (with a link).

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if you purchase the pattern our site in order to donate a little extra, we will be happy to add the pattern to your rav library; just leave a note on your order and david will take care of that. that reminds me—once you’ve purchased, please join in on our red scarf KAL on ravelry in the knitspot mothership group!

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be back soon with my holiday week activities and knitting—see you then!

it’s that wonderful time of the year

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in projects

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OK, everybody, get your needles warmed up—it’s kick off time for our annual Red Scarf Fundraiser and KAL!

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when these samples skeins arrived the other day from yarn hollow, barb and i cast on right away at knit night—her snow flies scarf in progress (above) and my small stripey cowl (below) are just the beginning.

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this first one took no time at all;  it was done within 24 hours. i love me a quick holiday knit. but the nice thing is that this festive stripey version also has a nice vintage look that carries on well once the holidays are over.

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now that this cowl is finished i plan to cast on this evening for a larger one in solid red.

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i couldn’t be more excited to be releasing the latest red scarf pattern and yarn—this is what makes christmas a holiday for me. each year the release of our red scarf fundraiser pattern brings the true meaning of the holidays to our community—when we devote december sales from this pattern and yarn, then knit along together to raise money for our knitspot scholarship, which goes to one student who participates in foster care to success programs. Our previous student brandy, has graduated and gone on to study further. our current student is jelissa, who attend the fashion institute of technology in new york city—the organization even found a student who plans a career in our industry; how much do we love that??

foster care to success is an amazing organization with all sorts of programs to assist young adults who are aging out of foster care to navigate a journey to college and beyond. if you can imagine your own kids getting through the challenges of college AND taking care of their own housing, groceries, cooking, paperwork, doctor and dentist visits, car payments and maintenance, insurances, PLUS negotiating the complexities of adult decision making, relationships, interviews, important meetings, and interior life without you you as a safety net, then you can grasp how urgent it is to provide whatever support we can.

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For me, it started in 2008 with knitting scarves for the scarf drive that year. the next couple of years, i sent along a little cash as well to help with mailing, to pay forward the good fortune this community has provided me. then in 2011, i had the idea of increasing those funds by designing a pattern to raise money . . . and we raised enough to put the knitspot name on a scholarship. the next year we raised even more with the 2012 red scarf pattern, fall line and the scholarship drive became an annual event.

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a couple of years ago we expanded our fundraising by having one of our yarns dyed an exclusive shade of red—it is available only at this time and only in very limited quantities.

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the first part of our shipment arrived today; doug and erica got the listings ready for purchasers and they are live right now!

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lillian labelled them all before she left the office and is excited to get to work monday to pack and ship your orders.

we would LOVE to exceed last year’s amount of $4500—can we get to $5000 this year??

want to be part of it? you can participate in several ways:

  1. purchase a pattern and/or add an extra donation on our website—use the pulldown menu to increase your gift and the entire $7 price PLUS that amount will go into the scholarship fund. 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 $7 retail price will go into the pot.
  3. purchase a nifty scarf kit which includes the pattern PLUS enough special edition festivus 3.0, to knit a scarf, wrap or cowl. we will add 10% of your purchase price to the fund.
  4. buy one or more skeins of festivus 3.0 for any project and we will add 10% 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 $7 (or more!!) at this wonderful cause. please mention it with a link 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.

and with that, i’m going to sign off and go cast on for my big cowl while dinner heats up on the stove. thank you all so much in advance; let’s make 2016 our biggest year yet!

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