Tag Archives | yarn

The Great Wall of Yarn, Indianapolis

The Great Wall of Yarn at The National Needlework Association Summer Trade Show is where yarn manufacturers show off their new yarns. Hanks and skeins of yarn hang within reach of eager hands, designer swatches show just what you can do with these yarns. Best of all, each manufacturer provides six- to eight-inch lengths of yarn for shop owners and designers to take away.

The first time I saw the Great Wall of Yarn in 2012, I chose the most novel or interesting yarns and taped them into the notebook I always carry around with me. I took notes, most of which were even legible. After this flurry of activity, I noticed a stack of booklets provided to show attendees. The booklets listed each yarn on the Wall and who manufactured it. A convenient space was left between listings, where one could tape the appropriate yarn sample.

I vowed that next time, I would find the booklet first and tape every single sample yarn into its space. Well, it took me over an hour, but that’s just what I did at the 2014 TNNA Summer Trade Show in Indianapolis, earlier this month. I had so much fun!

What can I tell you about the new yarns? Cashmere figured prominently among the luxury yarns. Bold and understated metallics gave a sparkle to the Great Wall, but not too much. Mint, teal, peacock and other values of blue-green were plentiful.

Several manufacturers featured yarn whose raw fiber was sourced in the U. S. Good-looking recycled yarns caught my eye, too. I liked the feel of Kollage’s “Riveting” yarns, made from recycled blue jeans.

For sheer restrained luxury, my vote is for Zealana “Air,” 40% cashmere, 20% silk, and 40% brushtail possum. Oh, to knit a scarf with such softness and lightness.

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New York, New Jersey, New Yarn

Do I need more yarn? NO!

Do I want more yarn? Considering the size of my stash, I can resist buying yarn these days. But sometimes…if a yarn is really nice… or if it’s pink…

Cascade Yarns’s Souk was on a low shelf at Knitty City. Its bold colors with their subtle variations appealed to my folk art-loving heart. The slightly irregular spin did, too. I love yarns and other things that are obviously good, but not refined to within an inch of their lives. I see a Crochet Charm Lace project in Souk’s future. The buttons, on the other hand, are destined for a wall hanging, without a doubt.

Schulana Macaibo fell into both categories: really nice and pink. Lengths of matte tape-style yarn alternate with brilliantly shiny lengths. The colors seem to glow! The Blue Purl, a yarn shop in Madison, New Jersey, displayed a lovely cowl made of Macaibo, along with a free pattern. I was drawn in like a moth to a lightbulb.

Here’s the yarn with the first few rows of the cowl already on my needles. This one is for my daughter Eva, who goes to the University of Texas. The orange in the yarn is almost UT orange. Close enough, anyway. I’ll make another cowl for my daughter Ella with the pink yarn. Maybe she’ll let me borrow it.

I’m planning a multi-pink sweater to replace one I made in 2001. It finally wore out, but it is immortalized in the banner at the top of this blog and also in my friend Peggy’s quilt, which you can see in my last Valentine’s Day post. The Blue Purl had two pink yarns for my new sweater collection: Jojoland Fantasia and Claudia Hand Painted Yarn. The Madeline Tosh yarn in the photo is from Knitty City.

My friend Jane was responsible for my being in New Jersey and at The Blue Purl. We hadn’t seen each other in about 15 years, so I took the train down from New York City to visit her. We picked up where we left off—talking about yarn and knitting.

We met when we both lived in Sheffield, England. Both of us enjoyed going to charity shops, which in the UK are thrift shops that support charities. The shops usually had a large collection of knitting needles and other needlework tools. Sometimes they had yarn for very good prices, probably from someone’s estate. I bought lots of buttons from the charity shop near our house in Sheffield.

We examined Jane’s collection of charity shop yarn. She had worked through a lot of it, making socks and experimenting with stitches and shaping. “Isn’t this yarn awful?” she said, showing me the white and multicolor yarn in this photo. She had about six balls of it.

I said, “I’m pretty tolerant of weird color combinations.” I pointed out that the colors were all slightly grayed, which gave them an interesting vintage feel.

“Here,” she said. “Have two. Then we can have matching socks.”

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TNNA in Columbus

Sparkling, thick-thin, and furry yarns offered a very optimistic view of the yarn industry at The National Needlework Association Summer Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio, last month.

The look of yarns goes in cycles, like all fashion-related products. We’ve gone to the conservative side in yarn design for the last few years. Time for a change! While manufacturers still offered basic yarns in brilliant new colors, I was happy to see crazy-fun novelty yarns, as well.

TNNA 2012 yarn samples

TNNA has a “Great Wall of Yarn,” with samples of new yarns from many manufacturers. I had already taped a bunch of samples in my notebook, when I saw the thoughtfully prepared yarn-sample books provided for participants. Next time I’ll know to look for those first!

You can probably tell from my sample choices which yarns I like best—SPARKLY!

TNNA 2012 yarn samples TNNA 2012 yarn samples

TNNA 2012 yarn samples

Zen Yarn Garden’s yarns, above, were deliciously saturated with color. This picture doesn’t do the yarn colors justice. The orangey-red one is “Blood Orange” Serenity Silk Single. It has incredible depth and color, all in a slender yarn!

TNNA 2012 yarn samples

Skacel’s Luxair is a bulky, fuzzy, sparkly yarn that would knit up fast on large needles. I can imagine a fabulous muffler in this yarn.

TNNA 2012 yarn samples

Walking around the booths and displays at TNNA made me think how FUN it would be to knit these great new yarns!

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Tallahassee Has Yarn!

In the days of my youth, I heard actual people say in all seriousness, “It’s too hot in Texas to knit.” It’s true—that they said that, I mean.

a building in the railroad district, Tallahassee

I didn’t understand at the time how it could be too hot to knit. Now, at a much advanced age, I still don’t get it!

Yarn Therapy, Tallahassee

One might assume it was too hot and humid to knit in Florida as well, but the knitters of Tallahassee obviously don’t think so, because Tallahassee supports three yarn shops!

Charles and I visited the lovely, green, tree-ful city of Tallahassee in May, when the white crape myrtles and jasmine were in bloom. While he attended an archeology conference, I went yarn shop hopping.

Marianne at Yarn Therapy, Tallahassee

Yarn Therapy was my first stop, where Marianne (she’s in the photo) gave me a quick tour of her great sock yarns. She has several brands, including some that are custom-dyed for the shop. I had to buy Pagewood Farm Denali Hand Dyed Sock Yarn in the Watermelon colorway for some socks for myself. I love those colors together.

Denali Sock Yarn from Yarn Therapy, Tallahassee

I managed to slip in a mention of my crochet books. Marianne and Heather wanted to see them, and I happened (!) to have some copies in the car. We took pictures, and they posted the photos on the internet right away. Technology can be so much fun.

Really Knit Stuff, Tallahassee

After a delicious Thai lunch, I went to the Railroad District for more yarn shopping at Really Knit Stuff. Paula gave me a big Texas greeting when I walked in. She’s from Texas, but hasn’t lived there in a while. I can see why she wanted to settle in Tallahassee. I loved her hairstyle, which was a long braid with yarn as one third of the braid.

She stocked Classic Elite Yarns Liberty Wool, a long-repeat variegated yarn. She cleverly provided knitted-up samples, so customers could see the range of colors in a skein. I left with some Liberty Wool to make a flower-cloth scarf of Russian Picot Daisies from Crochet Garden. Here’s the beginning of it.

Liberty Wool from Really Knit Stuff, Tallahassee

Tallahassee, a dog-friendly place

The Railroad District has quirky and colorful shops and workshops, including the flower building above. Outside the bookstore there, I saw evidence of Tallahassee’s hospitality for dogs. Our hotel had a similar spread.

Tallahassee looks small from the air, because the many trees hide the buildings. It’s a good place. I would visit again.

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Green Yarn Lost and Found

the perfect green yarn

I crocheted for my new book just about everywhere–at basketball games, at the Tuesday quilting bee, and at Dairy Queen. Maybe I’m the only person who crochets at our local Dairy Queen, because when a green ball of yarn was accidentally left on a bench there, one of my daughter’s friends knew it must be mine.

Unfortunately, the friend didn’t pick it up for me, but at least I knew where it had fallen out of my overstuffed yarn bag. After checking at Dairy Queen twice, I met only one person who remembered the green yarn. She couldn’t find it anywhere.

I needed that green yarn. It was Cascade 220, green #7814, a spring-like green with a bluish tint. It was the perfect green for a project in the book, and no other green yarn would do!

A few days later, I awoke before the alarm went off (so you know this yarn thing was bothering me). “Today,” I thought, “I am going to order green #7814 from the Knitting Nest in Austin. They have all the Cascade 220 colors, and it will be here in a couple of days and I can finish that project.”

We got ready for the day, and my girls and I started for the door on the way to school. Oops. The door wouldn’t open. We tried one thing, then another. We tried all the usual door-opening things, like taking the doorknob off and pulling out the catch (it wouldn’t budge). My dad came over and tried opening it from the outside. No joy.

the perfect green yarn

I sighed and my shoulders slumped dejectedly. “Let’s move stuff from my sewing room so we can get out the back door,” I said sadly. If you saw my sewing room, you would understand.

We did. Everyone got to school on time. Charles and my dad had to take the door off the hinges so they could replace the catch. Luckily Dad saves stuff like door catches, so they found a replacement in his workshop.

I came back home to the bags and boxes from the sewing room. “I should deal with all these instead of just stuffing them back into the room,” I thought. “What’s in here, anyway?” I asked about one paper bag.

I peeked in. There was… green Cascade 220. Eva and I used it to make samples for a book we proposed a couple of years ago. Wow. It sure looked like green #7814. Could it be? I got out my notebook with labeled samples of yarns for my book. Flip, flip, flip. Ah. There was the Cascade 220 page. There was green #7814. And… AND… It was a match!

There are silver linings!

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A Mill in Mora

Tapetes de Lana, Mora, New Mexico

We usually pass through Mora, New Mexico, very early in the morning on our way home from the Taos Wool Festival. For the first time this year, I drove through Mora at exactly the right time to visit the tantalizing Tapetes de Lana (Carpets of Wool) gallery.

The walls of this large gallery are lined with hand-woven rugs, looms stand along one of the room, and the center is filled with hanks of yarn and handcrafts made by people who live around Mora.

Tapete de Acrylic

Most of the rugs are woven in the subtle colors of natural wools and naturally-dyed wools. They looked timeless and elegant, but I was drawn to a rug in stripes of bright red, forest green, and yellow. The lady who was minding the gallery said with a smile, “That rug is made of acrylic yarn. Some of our ladies still prefer to shop at Walmart for their supplies.” I didn’t mind—sometimes I buy yarn at Walmart, too. And the colors–wow!

The gallery lady was Carla (she didn’t give me her last name), the founder of this non-profit organization. Tapetes de Lana and its associated mill help small ranches to bring their wool, mohair, and alpaca to the market. In addition, local craftsmen can sell their work in the gallery.

Carla offered to show me and two other customers around the mill. It was built within the last few years, from the ground up, with funding from a grant. The mill sometimes buys fiber from small ranches, but it also does custom millwork.

 Tapetes de Lana, Mora, New Mexico

Our tour started just outside the door, where employees skirt the fleeces, picking away the badly soiled or felted areas. Inside we saw mechanical pickers which separate and loosen the fleeces, washing vats, and a tumble dryer that takes its own sweet time, spinning at one half revolution per minute (1/2 rpm).

The carder was at least 20 feet long and 8 feet wide, with multiple drums ranging from very coarse to very fine. It produced ropes of roving, which were fed into the spinning machine. The industrial plying machine was mesmerizing. I could have stood there watching it for a long time.

I think all the equipment in the mill was second-hand. The carder came from the bankruptcy sale of a well-known mill in North Carolina. Some other equipment was handed down from Brown Sheep Company, after they upgraded their mill in Nebraska. Go to the Tapetes web site to see pictures of this amazing collection.

“You must be very proud to know that you are responsible for all this,” I said to Carla when the tour was over.

“It was exciting at first, but then it turned into a lot of work,” said Carla. She looks forward to a day when it isn’t quite so intense, when everyone doesn’t have to multitask so much.

Cotswold yarn from the Mora Valley Spinning Mill

That day may come soon. Carla and her colleagues are developing a yarn that they hope yarn stores will want to stock. In the meantime, they sell small runs of yarn in the gallery, including special blends like alpaca/merino.

The lure of the shop’s soft alpaca blend yarns was strong, but the natural sheen of this indigo-dyed and natural Cotswold wool yarn was too much for me to resist.

If you’re driving on Highway 518 in New Mexico, I hope you’ll stop by Tapetes de Lana and the Mora Valley Spinning Mill. Or if you would like to buy or retail some unique yarns from fiber produced by small-business ranchers, please contact the Mill at:

Tapetes de Lana and the Mora Valley Spinning Mill
Highway 518, Junction 434
P O Box 1135
Mora, NM 87732

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Stitches West

In spite of tough economic times, hundreds of shoppers crowded the aisles at the Stitches West Knitters Market. People came in droves. They stood in long lines to get into the market. (If you go next year, buy a pass online before you leave home—it’ll give you lots more shopping time.)

Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn for Eva

My friend Suzanne Correira of Fire Ant Ranch) said, “…there seem to be a lot of people nesting with new fiber and stuff in this economy.” By the way, she’s going to be selling spinning supplies and teaching at the DFW Fiber Fest. It’s at the end of April in Addison, TX, just north of Dallas.

I had a chance to shop at Stitches on Saturday morning, during a break from teaching. My quest was to find lime green and bright yellow yarn to knit a pair of argyle socks for Eva. This is easier said than done! After all, at Stitches East last fall, no one had a limey enough green or a bright enough yellow.

This time we were in luck. Cherry Tree Hill had the perfect colors. The purple is for the argyle cross-hatches. Only one thing bothers me. The washing instructions are “Hand wash and lay flat to dry.” I guess Eva will have to learn how to wash her own socks.

pretty things by Kim Korringa

Another booth had a wonderland of tiny flowers and insects, bouquets, dogs and kitties. These were the fabulous polymer clay jewelry of Kim Korringa. Everything was colorful, happy, pretty, beautifully-detailed, and well-made. I’ve done a bit of polymer clay myself, and I was most, most impressed.

the back looks good, too!

These are the pieces I bought for myself: a pin and a hair clip. See this detail on the back of the pin? Perfect! I hope she’s there again next year, because I may need one of her necklaces.

I hope you’ll visit Kim’s web site. Go to the earring page and find the bumblebee earrings. Look at the shine on their little bodies. They are exquisite.

Back at home, Ella baked some rock cakes for a party in our tree house. She decorated them with daffodils that match Eva’s yellow sock yarn. It’s good to be back.

Ella's rock cakes

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Yarn, Beads, and Buttons in Tyler, Texas

Granny's Needle Haus, Tyler, TX

We tagged along with Charles last weekend to Tyler, Texas, where he went to an archeological conference. Tyler is big enough to have more than one yarn shop and several used book stores. Perfect!

Granny’s Needle Haus (6004 S. Broadway) is definitely worth a visit. The store carries all kinds of needlework supplies. The yarn selection is not large, but it is fine for most knitting and crochet projects.

To its great credit, Granny’s Needle Haus is crochet-friendly! There were lots of crochet books and a good range of crochet threads. I bought a book with patterns for beaded crocheted snowflakes.

pink beads at Bead Crazee, Tyler, TX

Right across the parking lot was Bead Crazee. It was a bead extravaganza! Eva found beads in her favorite yellows and greens. Ella and I sighed over the pink beads. We bought a strand of pink pillow beads to share (the squarish beads in the middle of the photo above).

buttons from Bead Crazee, Tyler, TX

Bead Crazee has buttons, too. I needed these.

We had to cut our shopping trip short, because Ella really, really wanted to go swimming. Our motel had an indoor pool, thank goodness. We hope Charles will go to next year’s archeological conference, so we can explore more yarn stores in Tyler.

buttons from Bead Crazee, Tyler, TX

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Stitches Shopping

clouds above Baltimore

These beautiful clouds above Baltimore set the mood for the heavenly yarns and designs at the Stitches East Market.

glow-in-the-dark yarn from Woolstock Yarn Shop

I stopped by several times to visit a shaded pink angora by Prism, color-way “Carnation.” Likewise, a gorgeous thick-and-thin rose and moss green yarn by Schaefer kept me coming back. In the end, I thought of my backlog of projects and didn’t buy either of them, but I still remember them fondly.

Word-of-mouth turned out to be the best kind of advertising for a couple of vendors, thanks to a lady in my Dotty Knits class. She had bought a skein of glow-in-the-dark yarn, something that I’ve wanted since the early 1990s! It’s not the softest yarn ever, being made of nylon, but it really does glow in the dark.

square crochet hook and knitting needles, sold by Yarn Bazaar

The same lady showed me some square knitting needles, which are meant to be easier on your hands. I bought the straight needles, a square crochet hook, and the square circulars for testing. Square circulars! That makes me chuckle every time I hear it.

The needles are round at the tip, like regular knitting needles. Where you hold on to the needle, they are square. Since they fit into the angles your fingers make when you hold on, it seems logical that they would be easier to hold. I’ll test them and let you know.

Finally, there was the pink knitting needle gauge that looks a little like an ammonite. Pink and fossil-like was a combination I couldn’t resist.

square knitting needle

The people who took my Pleasing Pleats and Seveness Knitting classes knitted great samples. My favorite part of the Seveness class was seeing the beautiful color combinations people put together, which I would never think of.

Too bad my camera was in my hotel room the whole time. Aaarrgh!

(“Nightlights” glow-in-the-dark yarn sold by Woolstock Yarn Shop. Square knitting needles, crochet hook, and needle gauge sold by Yarn Bazaar. Needle photos styled by Ella with yellow flowers.)

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The Knitting Nest, Austin, Texas

The Knitting Nest, Austin, Texas

My family lived on Slaughter Lane, which was in the country on the southern outskirts of Austin, from 1968 through about 1975. My brothers and I enjoyed wandering in the woods behind our house and walking up the hill to visit our friend Andy, who lived on a dairy.

The dairy is gone now, covered with apartments and town homes. Our part of Slaughter Lane is now Ralph Ablanedo Avenue, named after a police officer who was killed in the line of duty. And at the intersection of Cullen Lane and Slaughter, where I walked or rode by in the car many times as a kid, is…

Every color of Cascade 220

A Yarn Store!!!! Oh, if my kid-self could have stepped through a wrinkle in time to see the yarn in that store! By the age of twelve, I was a confirmed knitter and crocheter. Even then I would have sighed with pleasure!

The store is The Knitting Nest. You can knit or crochet, sitting comfortably on the couches and upholstered chairs. Or you can sit at the long table and spread out your patterns and charts under the hanging lamps. I was there to sign copies of Crochet Bouquet, and I covered that table with crocheted flowers. It’s a cheery place, and Stacy, the owner, serves refreshing drinks.

The Knitting Nest—comfortable and cheery

Aside from its generally good selection of yarns, The Knitting Nest has a complete selection of Cascade 220 wool. Yes, you read right—every single color there is of Cascade 220. Stacy orders weekly to keep her stock current. She offers mail order to customers who live far away.

The Knitting Nest was a stop on this year’s Hill Country Yarn Crawl, and probably will be again next year. In the mean time, be sure to stop by next time you’re in South Austin.

The Knitting Nest, 160 Slaughter Ln W #200, Austin, TX 78748, (512) 291-8866.

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