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This week is First Friday

I always look forward to June First Friday - it really kicks off the summer season. This month we're featuring our own pattern, Cherry Twist, in beautiful Tandem from Tahki Stacy Charles. It's a lovely fiber with a short color repeat and a subtle shimmer. It's important to know how yarn color repeats work because they make a huge difference in your fabric. There are short, medium, and long color repeats, and they behave very differently depending on what you're making.

A long color repeat, like those you find in Noro yarns or in Mille Colori Baby,  are created by dying the roving and spinning a big chunk of one color at a time. This process gives the yarn large swaths of color with a gradient effect.

Medium color repeats are created by dyeing white yarn after it has been spun. The yarn is wound into a loop and tied in preparation for dyeing. Think of it sort of as the reverse of what we do when we put the yarn on the swift and wind it into a skein for you. Hand-dyers immerse the yarn in the dye pot one area at a time, repeating until the entire loop of yarn is dyed. Since all the strands of yarn in one area are dyed, that color repeats as you work the yarn. This technique gives you a striped effect that can change as you work you project. This is the technique you find in Manos del Uruguay, Malabrigo, and Blue Heron.

As you knit, a color can sometimes pool, which gives your fabric a large section of just one color. While it can be planned out for a striking pattern, pooling is usually something we like to avoid.

Short color repeat yarns are created in the same way as medium color repeat yarns, except the colors are typically painted on by hand in much smaller areas.  As you knit, there might be just a couple of stitches in a color. Hand painting in short color repeats is more labor intensive, and requires a deft hand to ensure that the color effect is not garish. The knitted effect is an all-over coloration that typically doesn't pool. Prism Yarns, Claudia's Hand Paints, and Koigu. While Tandem is not a hand-dyed yarn, the quick change in both color and texture gives the fabric a beautiful all-over effect with no pooling. 

It's a gorgeous fabric, and this picture doesn't really do it justice.  Come see the sample in real life at the shop, and join us First Friday to get started on your own. It's a quick, easy top you'll enjoy now and all summer long. 

I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table First Friday and every day.  You are always welcome here. 

 Back to newsletter for 2 June 2015

If you're interested in learning more about how hand-dyed yarns behave, and how to make the most of them in your knitting, there is no better resourse than Laura Bryant's book Artful Color, Mindful Knits which you can order below. It's a great resource for anyone who loves multicolored yarns. 

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Summer sweaters and curling stockinette

I love summer time -- it's so relaxed.  Dinner is usually something on the grill, tossed salad, and sliced tomatoes.  Everything is light and casual.  The cooking is easy, the clean-up is easier, and everyone is happy - especially me! 

Summer sweaters are much the same - light fibers, relaxed fit, and easy construction with minimal finishing.  Lots of summer tops are designed with an un-finished edge that curls slightly. Look at the Nauset Tee above by Hannah Fettig for Quince & Co.   It's a very J-Crew look, and it works with summer sweaters.  Not just because summer looks are relaxed, but because summer yarns allow it.

Here's why.  Stockinette fabric curls.  It's a fact of life knitters learn early on.  All stockinette curls, but not to the same degree.  Lots of factors govern how much your fabric will curl, but two of the main factors are the bounciness of the yarn and the knitted gauge. 

Wool yarns are very bouncy - it's why wool is so nice to knit and so nice to wear.  But it will roll up into a tight little tube without substantial borders of ribbing or seed stitch.  Summer yarns, on the other hand, have very little inherent stretch.  Cotton, linen, hemp, and rayon are notoriously inelastic, so there is not such a strong tendency to curl.  Don't get me wrong, these fabrics do curl a bit, but nothing like fabric knit with wool.  They don't need heavy elaborate borders to keep them flat, so they can be lighter and less constructed.

The other factor influencing  curl is knitted gauge.  The tighter the fabric, the more it will curl.  Winter garments are knitted tightly to be warm, but summer garments can be knitted a little more loosely, and they will curl less.  They will also be lighter and more comfortable.  Bottom line is that you can get away with minimal edging on summer tops.  A single row of garter stitch is often enough.  To me, it feels like it It all works out, the way nature intended.  Like summer food cooked outside.  

Come let us help you choose a relaxed summer top to knit.  I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table.  You are always welcome here.

 Back to 26 May newsletter

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Summer sun -- summer colors

We all know what summer colors are - they're bright, and juicy -- like the fruits of the season.  We've been stocking the shelves with summer yarns since February.  I love brilliant colors, but I have to admit,  at first all those summer colors seemed a little intense.  In early spring, the sun is low in the sky, and the light it shines is soft and gentle.  That's why spring colors are soft pastels.  Mother Nature knows this and paints the world with the pale muted palette of Lenten Roses. 

Come summer, though, the sun is a completely different animal.  Even now in early May, the sun is hot and bright, shining with nearly full intensity as we approach the summer solstice in just 6 weeks.  Those delicate spring shades seem a little drab against the summer sun.  Areas near the equator - Central and South America, Africa, and South Asia - where the sun shines at straight down all year long, are famous for bright red, orange, and yellows.  Softer tones would be completely washed out.  In very northern areas like Great Britain the sun's rays hit the earth at a greater angle, making the light much less intense, even in summer time.  The colors of those areas, affectionately referred to in the shop as "Rowan colors," are muted and soft. 

Here in the Mid-Atlantic region, our summer sun is even more intense than in the equatorial regions.  We need those bright colors to stand up to the light.  We crave those hot colors that symbolize sun and sand and surf.  Even if we spend our days inside at home or in the office, sunny colors are happy.  They're summer in a skein, and just knitting with them will make you as happy as a day at the beach.

Come see the brilliant colors of Tandem, Hempathy, Zooey, Modern Cotton, and Tandem.  Knit them up now to wear all summer!



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