Thursday, June 11, 2015

All About Hand-Dyed Yarns!

Hoards of Hand-dyes! Chris's Glacier Sweep Shawl, Monika's Avenger Cape in Craigh na Dun, Baah La Jolla Yarn, swatch of Rachel's Outlander MKAL 2015 Shawl, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Christmas at Downton, Kristen's Edith's Secret Shawl, Phydeaux Soie in Mon Amour, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Devon

Exciting things are afoot...or a-needle, we should say: we're kicking off a celebration of hand-dyed yarns at Jimmy Beans Wool, and you're invited to the party!

Just don't be tardy.

For the party.

Yes, I just wrote that.

Along with a series of instructional articles in our next few Newsletters, we'll be taking and in-depth look at each type of hand-dyed yarn we carry and how to get the most out of it. Now that's something to celebrate!

Monika's Avenger Cape in Assemble!

And what better way to get our party started than with Lorna's Laces? It was Lorna Miser herself who inspired Laura to start her own yarn shop, so one could say that JBW wouldn't exist without Lorna's Laces. Together, we've created a series of Limited Edition yarns that celebrates everything pop culture, from our favorite TV shows to current events around the world.

Rachel's Outlander MKAL 2015 Shawl in Craigh na Dun

Though they dye solid and tonal colors, Lorna's is best known for their variegated yarns, especially the bright, saturated colorways that knit up into amazingly colorful, one-of-a-kind creations! One look at a garment and you can tell it's Lorna's - there's just no other yarn quite like it out there! You can see what I mean in the garments pictured above.

Lorna's Laces yarn gets its distinct look from the special hand-dye process: the dyers plan a colorway down to the last detail, including the sequence in which the colors will appear on the skein. Then, the hanks of yarn are painstakingly dyed section by section. The final result is a circular hank with an almost color-blocked look, but when it's wound into a ball and knit up, the colors appear in the knitted item in the same sequence they were dyed on the skein, giving that fun, variegated effect we love so much!

Autumn's Magrathea Shawl

Now, as gorgeous as these yarns are, they have their challenges - most notably, when your project varies in size or shape, the colors line up differently in each row, sometimes causing unwanted striping or "pooling", which looks like irregular "blobs" of color on your project. Some people love this effect - it is quite artistic, after all! - but sometimes it can detract from the look you're going for.

An example of pooling in the Outlander Shawl - in this case, the symmetry makes it an appealing design element!

So, how to solve it? Wouldn't you like to know! And we'll be telling you in our next post :)

Let us know your other favorite variegated hand-dyes! We love Baah Yarn, Lotus Yarns, Becoming Art, and the list goes on! What's on your list?

Happy Knitting (with Hand-Dyes!)!


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Drop it Like it's Hot (your stitch, that is...)

Top: Monika's Deep Sea Shrug/Wrap; Bottom: Diagonal Drop Stitch Shawl, Drop Stitch TShirt, Drop Stitch Scarf

We've been dropping stitches left and right lately...and loving it!

No, we haven't lost our minds. Not THAT kind of dropped stitch - we mean "drop stitches" - the kind you drop on purpose for an artistic effect!

It's like lace...with a little cheat. Kind of like how when I'm reading a book that I hate, I speed-read to finish it faster, and my husband calls it "cheating at reading".

But you didn't really need to know that. :)

Drop stitches create an open, airy fabric that's great for shawls, scarves, and even sweaters that can be worn over tank tops. So drop some stitches and let that breeze flow through!

But where to start? Well, here's a place:

Leanne and Rachel are here to help!

As Leanne and Rachel so helpfully explain, many drop stitch designs are accomplished by making yarn-overs on one row, and then dropping the extra yarn off the needle on the next row. Genius! 

Monika used this technique in her Deep Sea Shawl/Wrap, pictured below in Yarn Carnival Fire Dancer in our May Micro Brewed Series color, Jacques Cousteau. Gorgeous!

Other drop-stitch designs (like the vertical lines you see in the orange sweater in the top photo) are created by dropping a stitch off the needle and letting it unravel all the way down to the cast-on edge. The cast-on keeps it from totally unraveling, so you're safe! Whew! And you get a vertical row of lacy eyelets with just a flick of the finger. It's like magic!

Does that make us magicians? Yes. Yes, it does. Stitchmagicians!

Now get out there and make some stitchmagic. Practice up and you'll be all ready for THIS:

What the what! It's Rachel's latest Mystery Knit-Along, where you binge on clues as you binge on the newest episodes of Orange is the New Black on Netflix! It starts June 12th, and the mystery item features drop stitches in a new and interesting way! But that's all I can tell you, or I might have to kill you! 

Just kidding. I'm a lover, not a fighter. But I will fight for yarn.

Seriously, though, you're gonna love this Binge's so genius, it's nearly criminal!

OK, I'll stop now. But one last thing: don't forget your yarn! Pick up a Binge MKAL kit - it includes the download code for the pattern, too - or grab any skein of Sportmate and let them know in the notes you want the download code, and they'll add it to your order for just $3!

Happy Knitting!