BNWs Features Rivington Cowl

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We are noticing new designs pop up on ravelry using Bare Naked Wools and it tickles all of us to the core! We are so pleased designers are finding our artisan yarns inspiring and releasing such wonderful patterns for fiber artists. Today is the first presentation of our new blog series BNWs Features, highlighting great designs in our natural fibersWe don’t want any of you to miss out on a new BNWs design!

Kirtsen Kapur took a skein of Oatmeal

and Earl Grey Breakfast Blend Fingering

and came up with Rivington Cowl

an accessory that can be worn many ways.

I love all details in this cowl and how wonderfully the colors are married with stitch patterns.

You can read more about Kirsten Kapur’s design on her blog here. Breakfast Blend Fingering is available here and I bet this design would work for Stone Soup Fingering as well, found here.

curiosity gets the best of us

Posted on 117 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events

good morning! you might remember that last year, we had a nice blog post to introduce my friend hunter hammersens’s first book, the knitter’s curiosity cabinet and to explore the world of curiosity cabinets. i’m flying to colorado today to work on a project at interweave press, so i gave hunter the keys to the blog so she could tell you about her new book the knitter’s curiosity cabinet, volume II. and now i’ll let her take the floor . . .

I’ve been a fan of Anne’s work for just about as long as I’ve been knitting. She has an aesthetic and style that really stands out, and it’s always easy to spot one of her designs. So when I heard she’d turned her talent to making yarns, I was excited to try them. I had great fun swatching four of the yarns up.

Anne’s new yarns, and my new book, The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet Volume II, seemed to offer a perfect opportunity for me to talk a bit about a subject of interest to most knitters, yarn substitutions! I’ll start here with a bit of discussion about yarn substitution in general, and then pick up over on Violently Domestic with a few examples of what to do in more complicated cases (hint, the answer is math).

In general, you want to look at three characteristics when you’re considering substituting yarns: yarn weight, fiber content, and structure. If all three of those things are the same (so if you’re substituting a three-ply, merino, fingering weight yarn for another three-ply, merino, fingering weight yarn), you’re almost certainly golden. Those are the easy substitutions, and they’re almost sure to work.

But alas, a match that close doesn’t always present itself. Sometimes you fall in love with a particular yarn (or you’re knitting from stash and need to use what you have on hand), and you need to be a bit creative. The good news is that with a little bit of experimenting, yarn substitutions are actually pretty flexible. Let’s work through two examples like this (where the yarn isn’t a perfect match on all three criteria) and see how they play out.

(One small note, some of the book swatches are prototypes and differ very slightly from the swatches in Anne’s yarns. They’re still really good examples of how to play with different yarns, I just didn’t want any close observers to spot the differences and be alarmed.)

First, we’ve got the Erasmia pulchella socks.

In the book, these are knit in Sock by Shibui (a two-ply fingering weight yarn made of 100% merino). Here, I swatched in Anne’s Breakfast Blend Fingering (a three-ply fingering weight yarn made of 50% merino, 40% alpaca, and 10% nylon). And the substitution works brilliantly! You can absolutely make these socks with this yarn.

Ok, now why? The yarn weight is the same (fingering in both cases), but the fiber content and structure aren’t. But the substitution works because they’re not as different as it might seem at first glance.

The Shibui is 100% merino. Half of the Breakfast Blend Fingering is a match, the other half is alpaca and nylon. While alpaca and wool are quite different, they are both animal fibers and have some characteristics (warmth, breathability) in common. One of the biggest differences between wool and alpaca is that alpaca isn’t as elastic as wool, but the nylon helps make up for that. And this may be a bit controversial, but I tend to regard anything up to about 20% nylon, especially in a sock yarn, as something of a blank slate. You can put it in a yarn without it making too much of a difference when it comes to substitutions. For something like this where it’s meant to be a sock, it’s actually a really lovely addition, as it will make the socks more long-lasting, while not interfering with the feel of the natural fibers.

The two-ply versus three-ply is also not a big deal in this case. If you look at the Shibui, you’ll see it’s a fairly tightly twisted two-ply. That means the yarn is quite round bouncy. This tight twist makes it a closer match to the Breakfast Blend Fingering’s three-ply structure than a more loosely plied two-ply would have been.

Next up, we’ve got the Vanessa antiopa Cowl.

In the book, this is knit in Lion & Lamb by Lorna’s Laces (a single ply aran weight yarn made of 50% wool, 50% silk). Here, I swatched in Anne’s Breakfast Blend DK (a three-ply dk weight yarn made of 60% merino 40% alpaca). Once again, the substitution works well, and you can totally use this yarn for this cowl, though this one does require a bit of explaining.

These two yarns are really quite different. The weight is a bit different (not dramatically, Breakfast Blend DK is on the heavier side of dk, and there’s a bit of overlap between heavy dk and aran), the fiber content is different, and the structure is different. You’d think there wasn’t a chance! But this is an example of how the project you’re considering matters just as much as the yarns you’re considering.

This is a cowl that sits right up against your skin and that’s meant to fold and drape and show off the lovely stitches. So one of the first questions to ask is what’s the fabric like at the required gauge in the Breakfast Blend DK. The answer is that it’s great. It’s got good drape, it’s soft enough to snuggle up in, and the stitch pattern shows up well.

Because this is a cowl (and so not subject to the sort of heavy wear that a sock endures, or even the functional demands of something like a sweater), the feel and look of the fabric is the most important consideration. The textural interest that the silk provides in the original yarn is taken care of in Anne’s yarn by the slight halo of the alpaca. The result isn’t exactly the same, but it’s just as lovely. And both yarns are soft enough for next-to-the skin wear and heavy enough go give good drape and hang nicely.

So there are two examples of successful yarn substitutions, even with yarns that have different characteristics. The first shows a substitution between two fairly similar yarns. Each will let you get gauge, have similar stitch definition, and stand up to the challenge of making lovely, sturdy socks. The second shows how a substitution between fairly different yarns can work beautifully, as long as both are suited to the demands of the project (and projects like cowls are particularly forgiving of substitutions).

Both examples demonstrate how you can get good results, even with yarns that aren’t a perfect match on yarn weight, fiber content, and structure. To see some even more distinct substitutions (ones different enough they require a bit of math), read the companion to this article over on Violently Domestic.

wasn’t that great?? and you know what’s even better? hunter has sent me an extra copy of the knitter’s curiosity cabinet volume II and i want to pass it on it to one lucky reader. if you’d like to win this copy, leave a brief comment at the end of this post by 9pm EDST on saturday, june 1, telling me one thing you learned from hunter’s post that will help you with your swatching adventures (cuz you know, it’s ALL an adventure!). we’ll pick a winner soon after and let you know when i return to my post on monday


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Isn’t she lovely

Isn’t she wonderful

I can’t help but hum these Stevie Wonder lyrics every time I look at these skeins. They are the brand spankin’ new artisan yarn for Bare Naked Wools called Ghillie. It’s a 3-ply sock/fingering yarn, spun from 100% Cheviot wool.

Cheviot is a soft but tough wool fiber used traditionally to make hardwearing scottish tweed and twill cloth as well as for knitting kilt hose.

Anne named the yarn Ghillie, a type of tongueless shoe with lacing up the instep, originally worn by Scots. They are worn by women in Irish dance and by both men and women in Highland dance. You can read more about the shoes on the Wiki page here.

Ghillie is the May 2013 club shipment of Bare Naked Knitspot and is now available to the public! It’s been a super huge hit with club members. You can see the designs in ravelry here and here (WARNING clubbies! spoiler photos in links). They gobbled up all the additional skeins we had in the special 600 yard put up. But don’t fret! We have a supply of the regular sized 450 yard (4 oz) skeins in the knitspot shop here.

Wondering what you could knit with Ghillie? It’s perfect for socks

like Anne’s Fishbone Gansey


or Lighthouse Gansey Sock, Basketweave Sock, Bricker, Cinder Block Sock, French Quarter Sock, Lacunae Sock, Math Whiz Sock, or Movie Night Sock.

It’s great yarn for shawls and wraps such as



Hillflowers, Budding Apple, Morning Glory, Palimpsest Stole, or Pine and Ivy and it would make a lovely yarn for knitting accessories like

As Anne mentioned before, lots of Cookie A’s socks would be perfect for Ghillie.

My friend Carrie of Irish Girlie Knits Designs called me and was ecstatic about Ghillie’s release for the club. The yarn reminded her of fond days Irish dancing as a child and the special shoes she wore. She can’t wait to knit the new yarn and it would be suitable for several of her designs found here.

Ghillie is now available in the shop here, along with lots of other Bare Naked Wools! What will you be casting on with the new Cheviot?

need a good cover?

Posted on 80 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events

i will admit that when i opened the package containing this book, i nearly doubled over laughing and wishing someone—anyone, but preferably another knitter—was around to share this one with me.

“seriously?, i thought, what will they think to publish next??”
but as i thumbed through knit your own moustache, i was absolutely compelled to look more thoroughly. author vickie eames really has something here—this could be a lot of fun, especially for giftees who have everything; you can be fairly well assured they will not have their own knitted moustache (nor would they ever have thought they needed one!).

but before you dismiss all this as a bunch of funny distraction, consider this—a knitter recently told me that she knit all the men in her family beards for christmas and not only did they love them, they would not take them off. you just never know.

(i gotta wonder though, what these models will think of this photo in ten or twenty years?)

or these mug shots.

vickie eames works in the theatre (no surprise there, hehe) but is obsessed by knitting facial hair and disguises, which she offers both instructions via the book for DYI enthusiasts, but also ready to wear version in her etsy shop, wife of brian (for all your facial hair needs) or her folksy shop by the same name.

let’s look at just a few of the options—you’ll be aMAZed at what the author has come up with. i’m pretty sure that a whole bunch of my nieces and nephews would want some of these disguises.

the groucho-on-a-stick is a complete set of nose, eyebrows, moustaches, and eyeglasses in one piece; you could totally whip that out at a meeting and blow everyone’s mind.

which might cause your boss to send you for some sessions with the company shrink.

or even to the HR director to be reprimanded.

who knows, you could get yourself fired over such a thing and then you’d be free to grow a full complement of facial hair, hang out in coffee shops all day, and take up smoking—or maybe get work on a tramp steamer.

you’s end up in all manner of exotic places where people—including you—are free to wear their hair any way they want. why, you could end up living the life of brian.

and you thought this was going to be another ho-hum memorial weekend post.

(i love that the book’s commitment to the cause extends right down to the endpapers)

if you or someone you know would love this book, you can buy one here or here (for UK buyers)

sterling publishing, the U.S. representative, is making one copy of knit your own mustache available for giveaway to one lucky reader. if you’d like to win it and knit your very own facial hair or other disguise, please leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EDST on wednesday, may 29th, 2013. we’ll pull a winner shortly after and let you know who the lucky recipient is.