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Crazy for Ewe

Hazel Knits dk Lively


 Part of our order from Hazel Knits arrived last week.  I was most excited about their dk weight yarn, a relatively new weight for them.  It's called DK Lively, but it really should be called "DK Lovely"  This is one gorgeous yarn - nice and round with a great spin.  It's plied and has a perfect twist - not too much, not too little - like Baby Bear's porridge, it's just right.  It has a terrific hand - smooth and elastic without feeling overly stretchy.

Then there are the colors.  Wendee, owner of Hazel Knits, really gets color.  She manages to get colors that are at once brilliant and sophisticated.  There is nothing garish or clownish about Hazel Knits colors. She is truly and artist - and a really nice person too.

I was in love with this yarn just from the feel and look of it in the skein, but you know we like to put the yarn through its paces.  Jenny and Lynne have both swatched it, and they agree that it more than hits the mark.  Jenny has chosen it for her Vodka Lemonade knit along coming up in a couple of weeks.  Lynne did a nice generous swatch on several needle sizes and in several stitch patterns and then washed it in the washing machine and ran it through the dryer.

DK Lively swatch machine washed and dried

In her email about the swatch, Lynne said, "What you can't tell just from the photo is that after wash and dry, the fabric feels like VELVET!!  Swatch sections at 5 st/inch and 5.5 st/inch. No shrinkage, no change in gauge. Just lovely bloom from the fiber.  Based on post-wash feel, I suspect that this yarn would work at 4.5 and at 6 as well, depending on the project."  

I mentioned that it might make a nice Swirl Coat, and she said, that "nice" would be a cosmic understatement! 

A swirl in the DK Lively would take between 6 and 8 skeins, depending on which style and which size you choose.  It would be a little pricey, but so worth it.  I think it's calling me.

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Getting to know you, getting to love you, Soja

Last winter I had a meeting with a very nice rep named Matt.  I was planning on looking at Trendsetter yarns, but when Matt arrived, he had Vincent, owner of Bergère de France along for the appointment.  I had met Vincent several times before.  He's genuinely friendly, kinda cute, and very French.

I had considered Bergère for a while because they have such great patterns - very French and very chic.  I was especially impressed with their Origin line of luxury fibers.  One of my favorite customers, Deborah, had fallen hard for this cute vest in Soja, so I decided to order Soja for the spring. 

With the exception of yarn that comes in half pound skeins, I  order yarn in bags of 10 or 20 skeins.  Vincent said that we could order any amount because each skein is packaged individually.  What?  It took me a minute to process this concept.  Then he produced this little packet with a skein of Soja tucked safely inside and the ends securely sealed.  This is yarn ready for a voyage on the Titanic. 

Vincent said that the packaging was meant to emulate high end cosmetics.  Um, okay. It made Lynne and me think of Cheetos...or sanitary products. Yeah, I know...sorry. 

I told Vincent that customers like to touch the yarn.  Ah, yes, well there is a handy little display case where interested parties can see and touch a sample skein of the yarn.  Well, maybe that works en France, but here in the good old US of A, we like to see all the colors piled up on the shelf.  We want to touch it - every color.  I want you to touch it.  So I spent a couple of hours opening up every single plastic pouch, moving the price tag from the pouch to the ball band, and shelving the yarn. 

You know, I'm really glad I did, because outside the sanitary wrapper, Soja is a gorgeous yarn.

I asked Jenny to knit a swatch using several different needle sizes.  The ball band says 5 stitches to the inch, but I think it's a little firm at that gauge - much better at 4.5 stitches.  It's a nice crisp fabric, and I wondered how it would fare in the washing machine.  Here it is after a trip through the washer and dryer.  On the sturdy cycle.  With Johnny's jeans.  It's perfect.  This swatch didn't change one spec.  It looks exactly like it did before the machine.  That's super good news.

I still thought it was a little stiff at 4.5 stitches to the inch, and I wondered if it would work at the 4 stitch/inch gauge of the Krista Tee.  Lynne kindly offered to swatch it in the Krista lace patterns.  Looks fabulous.  I think this yarn was made for this design!  I am so jazzed.  There's a Krista Tee in Soja in my immediate knitting future.  I cannot wait for First Friday!





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A new spring yarn arrived from Elsebeth Lavold last week. A blend of linen and silk unimaginatively named LinSilk.  Great colors, but somewhat unprepossessing feel in the hank.  I spent some time swatching it up this week and really putting it through its paces. Here is what I found.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="320"] LinSilk right of the needles[/caption]

It's not particularly soft in the hank, and it's definitely a bit rustic looking, but it was extremely pleasant to knit.  It worked up easily, and my size seven Addi Turbo needles gave me 5stitches to the inch with no splitting or twisting.  I didn't feel that I was fighting with the yarn as I often do with some linens.  I did a little seed stitch border and the body in stockinette.  The fabric was nice and even, and the yarn  softened up quite a bit just by being knit.  Unlike cotton, which can feel heavy, this fabric was very light.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Still wet from its little bath[/caption]

Most, if not all, of the more rustic feeling yarns are greatly improved by a little bath, so I washed my swatch gently in a little Eucalan and blocked it out.  It was quite a bit softer, and the gauge was not at all changed by the bath.

Emboldened, I decided to give it the real test and throw it into the washer and dryer with my regular laundry.  Not on gentle cycle, but on the regular cycle.  You know, the regular cycle of my top-loader that I use for washing jeans and for felting things.  I did put the swatch into a small mesh bag so that I could find it more easily.  (I also put things I'm felting in mesh bags, so it doesn't really protect the fabric from shrinkage).  Anyway, the swatch emerged from  the wash unscathed.  It had neither shrunk nor pilled, and it was not a ratty mess.  I was impressed.  The truest test, though, I thought, was a full round with the hot dryer.  Inside the mesh bag, my swatch was wrinkled, but otherwise unharmed.  A damp towel smoothed the wrinkles almost instantly, and my swatch was back to its original size, shape, and condition.  Well almost it's same condition - it was waaaay softer.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="320"] After a trip through the washer and dryer[/caption]

If you're having a hard time telling the difference between the three pictures, that's good.  My point is that LinSilk is a hardworking fiber than can take whatever you dish out and still look great. It's a yarn you'll use to make garments that become an integral part of your every day wardrobe - garments you will reach for again and again because they're beautiful, comfortable, and you can just live your life in them.

Although introduced as a spring/summer yarn, LinSilk is a perfect year-round fiber for this climate.  Lightweight, soft, durable, and easy care with great colors all at a comfortable price, LinSilk has earned its place on our shelves and in your stash.

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