herringweave cardigan

Posted on 14 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, designing

it’s finally time for our 2017 ensemble look book rollout; do you love it??

from the response we’ve gotten so far, it seems that you do and that makes me glad. rolling out a new collection (plus club packages and more) means that i don’t get to spend as much time here on the blog as i’d like; i’ve been looking forward to a chance to chat.

yesterday we got to present the beautiful volta shawl design, knit in our cabécou sport by the incredibly talented and popular susanna IC, who i have just loved working with (and there are more BNWs designs from her to come; SO exciting!). and we have so many other designers to present whose work i admire.

but back to me, haha.

today, i get to tell you that one of my own designs is now available for purchase—the herrigweave cardigan, knit in our kent DK yarn in the driftwood shade (kits available here).

while i’m not privy to the processes that our other designers use, one thing i enjoy about my own process is having all of you to talk to when i get hung up on decisions. you are the best sounding board i know. even when i think i know the answer, i can ask what you think and you’ll tell me your honest opinion right away. most often it confirms the direction i already thought i’d be taking, but sometimes it surprises me. sometimes a surprise changes my viewpoint and other times, it doesn’t. but the interchange is so interesting and i love you for engaging with me while i bring designs to fruition.

i remember getting to the end of the first front shoulder and wondering if all that cable detail was just too much. but you loved it, so that helped me step back and realize i was just spending too much time close up to it. also, the proportion will change across the size range so it’s important that it still has impact as it does.

and i always like to bring you in on the button decisions because that’s what we do! choosing buttons is important and we have so many beautiful options in natural bone, horn, and shell available in our online store. we can even help you find a good match for your yarn if you drop us a note.

this view makes me appreciate the drama of the whole neckline and shoulder; it was a very popular shot on instagram when i ran it there, letting me know i had done the right thing to keep all those cables.

they are rich and eyecatching AND they serve to stabilize the sweater in all the right places so it keeps its shape beautifully—important if you wear your sweaters a LOT, like i do. i always marvel too at how much mileage i get from my skeins of bare naked wools—they go on and on; a sweater like this with generous length takes only about four skeins. click here to check out our kits.

after our big photo shoot weekend in early december, styled by our awesome new media and program director, hannah, i was finally free to wear this cardigan. just in time for the cold weather, too!

while i have knit many times with our kent DK yarn, most of those knits are shop samples and i still did not have a sweater of my own in it to wear—so this was it.

the verdict?

O.M.G. i had no idea. this yarn, spun from long, lustrous romney wool and soft, springy merino, is one that i characterize in my mind as “sturdy”, but i can’t say enough how it is also soft and airy—so much so, that what appears here to be a thick sweater is actually light and flexible. all that air of course translates to a cozy feel when i’m inside it; i love getting that warmth without the weight.

i’ve been wearing this cardigan several times a week since december; it’s become a workhorse garment in just a short time. in fact, i would love another one, maybe a size bigger and longer to wrap up in and layer over other things. ask anyone who works here and they might even say they get a little tired of seeing it. hmm, better get that second one on the needles soon . . .

if i do another i might go with the confection sport yarn for my second version; that’s another yarn that’s not represented in my sweater drawer. now to decide which shade; what do you think?

in a few days we’ll be looking at this design again, this time in the pullover version that i knit for david, which is included in the cardigan pattern (and a vest!). i’m hoping that just maybe, i can sweet-talk him into pulling it on and modeling it for us. we’ll see how that goes, haha.

Join us for a Fiber Journey in 2017!

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools

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!

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools

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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