A couple of months ago Cat Bordhi contacted us to talk about making what she calls a "learning yarn". Her idea is that if students have good yarn, with certain characteristics it will help them visualize the skill they are trying to master.
Here, I'll let her describe it:
In recent years I’ve had the pleasure of teaching many new techniques to over 5,000 knitters, and have often watched students struggle with yarn which splits, goes limp, or is too thin or single-colored to allow individual stitch behavior to be seen clearly. My students always want to know where to find yarn like the treasured, discontinued ball I reserve for demonstrations. And so I’ve teamed with Lorna’s Laces to produce a similar yarn, ideal for learning new techniques and honing skills. This single-ply, full-bodied yarn is easy to manipulate, produces highly defined stitches, and has a color sequence which makes it easy to distinguish and examine individual stitches. We’re calling it “Ahah! Yarn” because it helps you see and understand.
(Take a look at this YouTube video.)
Follow the instructions (you can stop and start, move back and forward in the video as needed). Little details that help you understand, such as that Hungry Stitch is a different color than his neighbors, and that the yarn running behind Hungry Stitch is the same color as the stitch on the left needle, proving they are indeed connected – are made clear by the yarn’s color changes. And the individual stitches are well-defined and easy to examine. You might even find yourself saying, “Ahah! I get it!” After practicing with the yarn for a while, you’ll be ready to apply this technique to socks, sweaters -- anywhere you use ssk’s and k2tog’s.
My dream is that every serious knitter keep a ball of Ahah! Yarn handy to pull out when a new technique is to be learned. One ball will last for years, and become a trusted ally for learning, seeing, and understanding.
Cat and I spent quite a bit of time this fall and early winter talking about what would work best for this concept. The first step was figuring which yarn to use. We sent samples of several of our yarns and she decided that Bullfrogs and Butterflies would be just the thing.
Then the fun part began...color! My first try wasn't very good at all. It hit all the marks technically, but it wasn't very pretty to look at. And if it's not pretty, what's the point? Even if it will do the job, it should still be a joy to look at while you're working with it.
After a few wonderful conversations and several tries, we hit on the yarn you see here. It's rich and warm with distinctive color changes and easy on the eyes. What's not to like.
We were lucky enough to have Cat spend some time in our booth at TNNA.Wow, she is a phenomenal teacher! She is witty and patient and has a way about her that makes what she's explaining make perfect sense. Ahah! (OK sorry about the pun.)
BTW, that's Clara Parkes on the left. We were all full of yarn dignitaries that day.