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!

VK Crochet 2013 is a winner

The new VK Crochet magazine arrived yesterday, and my goodness, is there some beautiful stuff in there.  I picked out four favorites.  This lacy spring top by Charles Voth is my number one pick, and not just because of the color, although it is a gorgeous color. The simple shaping allows the feminine floral stitch pattern to take center stage, and the slightly bell shaped sleeves look very modern and pretty.  The lace collar is a nice touch, but you could leave it off if you prefer a cleaner look.

I also like this cardigan very much.  A bit more tailored than the tee, I like it for many of the same reasons: simple shaping, floral stitch pattern and  modern styling.

This one is nice too–simple shape done in Tunisian stitch.  The yarn is a lovely metallic mohair blend and the color is, well, very pink.  3>

And I like this wrap.  Both the large motif and the rich color make it a very dramatic accessory.  Hairpin lace and broomstick lace are the techniques used on this one. 


Available in both shops now.  This is truly one of the nicest crochet magazines I’ve seen.  Pick up your copy this week because this issue will sell out. 

Mila and the Bamboo Shell

Everyone knows I love sparkly things – and anything pink – just check out my Pinterest board on the topic!  So you can imagine how I feel about our new yarn, Mila. 

It’s a beautiful cotton with the finest sparkly filament running through it.  I’ve had it scoped out for a special project for weeks now but with the late spring, the weather has been too cold to get excited about its bright, juicy colors. 

Today’s high of 82 changed all that.  When the sun shines hot, bright colors feel right.  What I have in mind for Mila is this smart little design Lynne found last month, Bamboo Shell by Cheryl Andrews.  It’s a great new pattern with lots of reasons to love it.  It’s the kind of design that will fit nicely into your wardrobe, perking it up without being fiddly or hard to wear.  I like that it’s ribbed which will give it a nice smooth fit and keep the edges straight without a fussy border. The ribs are uneven and broken by garter rows which gives the fabric rhythm and interest. 

 

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Andrews via Ravelry

I also like the way the armholes are cut in just enough for a sleek, flattering line.  It feels fresh and modern but still modest and age appropriate. 

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Andrews via Ravelry

 Finally, I like this little side gusset that gives you some waist shaping.  Actual waist shaping in the design allows the garment to skim, rather than stretch, over the body. 

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Andrews via Ravelry

I can see myself wearing this all summer, but it is a sleeveless shell, and I totally get that not everyone is comfortable in sleeveless.  But this is a perfect layering piece too.  It would look great under a jacket at the office or paired with with a gauzy long sleeved blouse.  I think this is a beautiful look.

Photo courtesy of SoftSurroundings.com

You could even do a matching bolero and make it a twin set.  I’ll be swatching the Mila tonight, but if you want to see more progress, check with Anne Boone, who started hers last week.  She probably has the entire back already done!  

Summer Love

Is there a better name for a sweet cotton yarn than Summer Love?  It’s a new hand-dye from Yarn Hollow – beautiful colors and a wonderfully bouncy hand.  

It’s nice and stretchy, so garments knit in it will keep their shape really well – no saggy tops with this fiber!  It also means that even though it’s a light sport weight yarn, you’ll need between a size 6 and a size 8 needle to avoid making too tight a fabric.  Lynne swatched it this evening and found that it makes a lovely sweater fabric at 6.5 stitches per inch or 24 stitches over 4 inches.
Which just happens to be the gauge for this really great sweater that we all admired from the Manos Trunk show last month.  
What a happy coincidence!  See how nicely the Summer shows off the pretty little eyelet stitch pattern on the sleeves.  Best news of all?  Summer Love comes in big generous hanks that are really reasonably priced – you’ll only need three to make this great top.   Come choose your favorite color because you need a little Summer Love.  

Soft as, well, a bunny

I love angora.  It’s truly one of the most delightful and decadent fibers in the world.  I know, it gets a bad rap for shedding, leaving trails of fur on your clothes, and making you sneeze, but it is gorgeous.  We received a large shipment of 100% French Angora Friday for a few special projects, and I just sat gazing at it and petting it all weekend.  Doesn’t it look just like baby bunnies!

I needed to knit a swatch and figure out its best gauge and all that other stuff we do with new yarn.  Okay, that’s not completely true.  I just really wanted to play with it, and yesterday was the day.  I must admit, I was a little hesitant about knitting it in the shop while I was working and wearing black pants and a wool jacket.  But I cast on and figured that I had a Gleener handy…

There’s no gauge info on the ball band.  The yarn looks kind of fine, but angora blooms, so I decided to try it on an 8.  This yarn is absolutely luxurious – it’s like knitting whipped cream.  So soft and delicious!

But the thing that amazed me was the complete and total lack of shedding.  I was prepared to put up with the shedding because the fabric is so gorgeous, but there was not a single loose bunny hair or fuzzy bit on my pants, on the table, or on my jacket.  What was this?  How can this be?  The fuzz stands a good half inch off the surface of the fabric, but it’s all firmly attached.  I can’t even pull the fibers off. 

I decided, as Lynne always says, to consult “the great god Google” and see why this angora did not shed.  Turns out, all that stuff you hear about angora is really just the cheap stuff.  I hate to say it, and I know it sounds very snobbish, but it’s the truth. Angora fibers are graded on a number of factors, but one of them is length.  “Excellent” and “Prime” angora fibers are 1.5 to 3 inches in length.  Lower quality (less expensive) angora fibers are much shorter, and many are broken during the processing.  These shorter fibers fall out of the yarn leaving little bits of fine bunny fluff on your clothes, and in the air, and up your nose.

You owe it to yourself to knit at least a little something with this amazing yarn.  There are several patterns for fingerless gloves, hats, and cuter than cute baby booties and caps.  I plan to knit this baby bunny for each of my kids’ Easter basket.  It only takes one skein.  Yes, I know my kids are 20, 18, 18, and 11, but personally, I don’t think you’re ever too old for chocolate and soft fuzzy things.  Don’t you agree?