Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wool ... Renewable Resource?

In recent weeks there have been reports of price increases in the Australian merino market, source of most of the merino that makes it's way to local yarn shops. Drought and excessively high temperatures have reduced the number of sheep available in Australia. Merino has been bringing in high rates on the wool trade market.

We always think of wool as a renewable resource. As knitters, we are seeing the effects of a changing global weather pattern in the merino situation.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Kona Fingering Cones

I am now out of one-pound cones of Kona Fingering. Henry's Attic expects to ship cones at the end of January. We have good stock of the 8-oz skeins, though.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Kona Fingering Cones shortage

Henry's Attic is out of stock of the one-pound cones of Kona Fingering, and expects to begin shipping at the end of January. My own stock is dwindling fast, as well. If I run out of the cones for an order placed before the end of the month, I will notify you of the backorder and give you an opportunity to substitute 2 eight-ounce skeins for the one-pound cone.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Undyed Yarn Bloom

Recently a couple of customers have hesitated when choosing yarns because they think a certain yarn might be too thin. I think we need to remind ourselves about the unique qualities of the yarns in the undyed market. Most are unscoured, which means they haven't been through a hot bath, such as what they get when going through the steaming process of dyeing. At some point in the yarn preparation process, the yarn is wound by machine onto a cone. It could be a very large cone of several pounds which serves as a sort of holding station for skeining, later. All of this handling stretches the fibers and squeezes the air from between the individual fiber strands, making it appear to be thinner than it will be when it fluffs up again.

I tried an experiment the other day with the new BFL Ultra! and soaked it in hot, hot water. That's when the bloom came upon it! What I discovered is that I was more willing to try my swatch with a larger needle than I would have if I had judged from the unscoured/undyed/un-soaked state.

Bloom is a natural process that yarn just does, well ... because that's how it is. Remember that the spinning and winding processes that undyed yarns go through will compact the fibers. What makes the fibers seek their natural space within the yarn is when we apply heat. When we dye protein fibers, one of the elements used is heat. If you're not going to dye these yarns, then be sure to give them a good soak in hot water to allow them to bloom and to permit you to judge the actual diameter. Yarns from commercial manufacturers have gone through these steps on their way to becoming perfectly formed little mounds on the shelves of the yarnshop. We have to put a little elbow grease into our yarns, all a part of the creative process. I love to observe the stages of the yarn as it soaks up water, absorbs dye, rests before steaming, begins to change tones in the dyepot, as it is unveiled when the dye process is finished, and -- best of all! -- as it slides through my fingers on the needles. The knitting just goes so much faster when you're knitting with your own handdyed yarn. The aniticipation of what that next row will look like up against this row drives us.

The BFL Ultra! which I dunked in hot water is destined to become a cable sweater for little Mia, newly adopted Chinese granddaughter. It will be knit in the natural white and will look so pretty against her skin.

Please don't hesitate to experiment, and expect yarn to expand. The customer in question wanted a worsted weight which would not pill, so I suggested that the Kona Superwash might be a good choice. It is a light worsted weight, a nice firm and round yarn, and it definitely does bloom when subjected to steaming or hot water.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

SALE: BFL Superwash

This yarn is a loose twist of three strands of fine Blue Faced Leicester Superwash yarn with 2,000 yards per pound, put up on a 1-lb cone ...
BFL Superwash Sale Price: $22.

I have written about this yarn a couple of months ago when I was disappointed that it was not the firm, round yarn I'd been looking for to top out the sock yarn list. It is, however, an excellent yarn for shawls. If you know anyone who is participating in one of the shawl knit-alongs, tell them about this sale!

It is natural white, of course, and of the unique and top-quality Blue Faced Leicester, but the makeup is one that will not be seen again. It was a specially manufactured for Wool2Dye4 in my search for the perfect sock yarn. (The perfect sock yarn, by the way, was found in BFL Ultra!)

When the heat of the dyebath or of a warm wash permeats the three strands, the BFL does it's natural gentle bloom into a beautiful and soft yarn -- perfect for the elegant drape of lace work, shawls, fine sweaters, baby clothes and fine gauge socks. Click on the picture to enlarge it, and you'll see what I am trying to describe about the bloom. It is a pleasure to knit with, by the way, and the BFL just slips through your fingers. I love Addi Turbo needles, and the way the yarns slides along effortlessly.

Once gone, this yarn will not be seen again. It was one of those manufacturing errors which did not give me the yarn I was searching for, but did give me a beautiful shawl / lace work / delicate yarn. Go to the website and click on ...
Fingering Yarn ... or ... Blue Faced Leicester. A great addition to your stash and at a price that you will not see again for Blue Faced Leicester!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Green BFL Ultra!

Check the picture for the previous entry to see how the greens used on the BFL Ultra! turned out. I once had a painting teacher who loved to intone a great truth about color: There is no light without dark, and there is no dark without light.

I kept his mantra in mind as a dribbled and squished and blotted and dotted color on wet white yarn. Could there be more fun for grownups?