Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Basin's Dozen

Back in January, I started talking with the nice folks over at Bijou Basin Ranch, Carl and Eileen. They have a yak ranch out in Colorado that has been around since 2005 and they produce a line of yarn called Bijou Spun.

I'd been intrigued by their yak and yak blend yarns for awhile. Yak has a really low micron count, around 14-16. That makes it comparable to cashmere and camel. Nice stuff. I'd often wondered how it would dye up. Well, after a couple of conversations over the course of late winter and early spring, we decided to find out.

Carl and I spent quite some time discussing color possibilities. They knew that they wanted us to create nearly solids for them and that they wanted warm and earthy. Aside from that they let us do our thing. We just love it when that happens!

The original plan was for Lorna's Laces to dye two of their yarns in a dozen colors. It's turns out we're just a little bit of an overachieving crowd and ended up doing three yarns in thirteen colors. Fifteen if you count the natural white and brown.

We dye a pretty broad spectrum of fibers here. Some of them can be a little fussy. The yak was a real pleasure to work with. It grabbed the dye like a dream and we were able to produce rich, complex shades.

Right now we're waiting for a delivery of their Fingering Weight 100% Yak, Bijou Bliss 50/50 Yak/Cormo Wool, and Lhasa Wilderness 75/25 Yak/Bamboo. Once it arrives we'll be transforming it from it's natural white to Cadet, Steel, Sky, Blueberry, Teal, Regal, Amethyst, Ruby, Blush, Hunter, Sage, Salmonberry, and Goldenrod. I have to admit that there were a couple of these colors that I was tempted to keep for our own line. I'm a sucker for a good orange and the Salmonberry is pretty fantastic. I'm kind of partial to the Ruby too.

Keep an eye out for it. It should be shipping out to your local yarn shops from BBR in September.

Oh. My.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bigger and Better

Every once in a while I feel the need to shake things up. Sometimes I end up with platinum blond hair. Or bring unexpected guests home for dinner. So far, I have not brought a puppy home on a whim.

Today, the change has to do with Shepherd Sock. If you think back a few years, the standard put up for sock yarn was small hanks, about 2 oz or 50 grams. One skein made one sock. That's how most everybody did it so Lorna's Laces did it that way too. I never really gave it any thought.

Over the past several years, the yarn world has been trending towards larger, 100 gram hanks and we've decided to join the crowd. But it's not just peer pressure. More than anything else, it has to do with feedback from knitters. Not long ago I sent out a note asking "All thing being equal, would you prefer a 100g or 50g skein of yarn?" The response was virtually unanimous. You wanted bigger skeins.

This wasn't a decision we took lightly. There a lots of great reasons that the big skeins make sense. Here are some of the things you told us about and we considered:

1) Consistency. Even in the same dye lot, hand dyed yarns have some variation. Where in the pot did the yarn sit? Did it get as hot as its neighbor? (Personally, I kind of like my socks to be fraternal twins, but not everyone agrees.) A bigger hank should help with some of that.

2) Fewer knots. This is pretty simple math. If we have the mill make bigger skeins, we run less risk of creating knots. I think it's pretty universally agreed that we all live with knots, but if we can avoid them, it's a good thing.

3) Fewer joins. This is close to #2, but from a somewhat different point of view. The bigger the skein, the fewer you will need for any given project. Coming from someone whose made about a zillion of those small shawls in the past year or so, I can see where not having to join a second skein could come in handy.

4)It's less expensive. This was no small consideration. We've been working really hard to avoid raising prices. A larger put-up is a cost saving measure from our end that helps us do that for you.

We just received our first shipment of the big hanks. They are 100g/435 yards. You should start to see them in your LYS over the next weeks and months. There will be a transition. Thanks in advance for bearing with us during that time.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Colors

It's been a bit of a roller coaster around here since last we chatted. First there was TNNA and all the fun that entails. I met so many nice people and reconnected with tons of great friends. Guess how many photos I have to show for it? You guessed it. Nada, zero, zilch, zippo.

Well, that's not exactly true, I do have some pictures of what our shipping crate looked like when it arrived. The one that the shipping company taped back together after they tossed it around so badly that the it fell apart. But I'm guessing you'd rather see pictures of yarn and pretty, so I'll save you the sordid.

We brought out five new colors and one new yarn, Honor. I've been talking about Honor quite a bit here, so I'll get right to the colors.

First up is Robot Overlord. It's a nice autumnal color. It seemed to be the most popular of the new ones at the show. But just by a little bit. It may or may not be my favorite, I'm not saying.

Here's a beautiful cardigan, Yoshimi, that Jenn Jarvis of nipperknits created for us. It's knit in Honor. She's got a bunch of great shots over on her blog. I'm just in love with this sweater. And those buttons! In case you were wondering, buttons are magic.

This is Turtle Rodeo. The name came about one afternoon while we were talking about the antics of Amanda's turtle, Taco. It's another warm, rich colorway but this one is a little retro.

And here is our Wave Lace throw in Turtle Rodeo. This is a quick knit using Shepherd Bulky. I like me a feather and fan.

The last couple of seasons have been full of very tonal colors so we thought it was time for something bright and whimsical. So, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to Unicorn Parade.

Amanda decided that Unicorn Parade was so much fun that she made a GIANT Iris. She held two strands of Shepherd Bulky together for this one. Now we need to find a deserving toddler. Or maybe not. Maybe this one should be our mascot.

The next two colors are nearly solids. Fjord came about while we were working on a secret project for a custom color. We liked this one so much we decided to keep it.

Amy Swenson of indigirl fame came up with this cute vest, Cloud Chaser. It's knit from Honor in Fjord. It's soft and feminine without being too girly and it has a clever cabling. Seems like a winner all around.

Last but not least, is Patina. Patina evolved from Robot Overlord. It's rich goldish/brownish/greenish just felt good. Probably because so many people have little flecks of this color in their eyes. It's rarely a bad idea to take a cue from mother nature.

Here's a quick snap of a little scarf/shawl in Patina made from Honor. It's got a pretty little scalloped edge and will be a breeze to knit. The design won't be released until fall. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Interweave's Summer Crochet Issue

Here's a sneak peak of a pretty little shawl that will be in Interweave Summer

The colorway is 209 Beverly (named for Amanda's mother) and the yarn is Helen's Lace. I'm sure it's because it is summer, but we've been sending oodles of Helen's Lace to your LYS these days.

Remember this post a couple of weeks ago when I was talking about how we often recommend contrasting colors rather than matching colors to coordinate with a multicolor yarn? This is a good example of how a color that comes closer to matching can get lost. If you click on the picture and enlarge it, you'll be able to see what I'm talking about a little better. The green of the yarn and the green of the tank here kind of muddle together. The red tank over the violet really made all the colors shine.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that you shouldn't be afraid of color. It's just color after all. Be bold with it in your yarn and in your life.

Paint the walls acid green if that will make your heart sing. After all, it's just paint. If you really hate it, think of it as colored primer and paint over it.

Knit with neon orange if you want. Or a wacky multicolor that you've had your eye on. Maybe not a whole sweater, but why not an accessory? Sock or mittens would be a perfect way to explore a color that you are attracted to without a big commitment.

I'm reminded of something a colleague at my first job right out of college once told me, "Go ahead, give it a shot. What're they going to do, take away your birthday?"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sneak Peek

Well, we're safe and sound in Columbus at TNNA. Thank goodness! It's always such a relief to get here and get the booth set up.

It's likely that blogging is going to be pretty spotty until we get back next week. I thought I'd leave you with a peek of one of our new colors, Robot Overlord.

I like this shot so well I made it the wallpaper on my new computer.

Friday, June 4, 2010

VK Early Fall

We just got our copy of Vogue Knitting's new Early Fall edition. Lookie what Fiona Ellis created!

This is knit from our Shepherd Sock in Courage.

There are a bunch of things I like about this sweater. First, I'm a big fan of sweaters made from lighter weight yarns. I think they are flattering to a myriad of body types and great transitional wear. Believe it or not, we're still having weather where a light sweater is welcome in the mornings.

Next, the way the lace pattern angles is going to create a visual nip at the waist. That's almost always a good thing. It will add shape to straight figures and do a little camouflaging for the curvy.

Last, it's just sweet with those three little pearl buttons at the neck. I thought it might be too sweet when I first looked at it, but if you switched up those buttons, it could make a great jeans and t-shirt sweater. Buttons are mighty and powerful things.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I just can't look

I just realized something about myself. I can't bear to see disasters. I can listen about them on the radio, but I can't look at pictures or watch coverage on television.

This little revelation dawned on me on the way home from work last night. There were back to back stories on the radio talking about the earthquake in Haiti and the oil spill in the gulf. Just like everyone else, I've heard all about them but I have successfully avoided the visuals.

This isn't new behavior for me. I think I can count on one hand the number of images I saw of Katrina's aftermath. It's not that I don't care. I do care. It's just that seeing it disturbs me enormously. It flat out overwhelms me.

I wonder if some of this avoidance has any connection to the fact that I work in fiber. That so much of what I do is color, and texture. That somehow I want to keep that visual corner of my brain safe. I dunno.

So, enough with the navel gazing...Let's turn our eyes to pretty.

This cute little tank is from Kristin Omdahl's latest book, Crochet So Fine!

It's crocheted from our Helen's Lace and shown here in 107 Red Rover. I just love the way the purple of the tank underneath peeks through. The contrast makes the red really stand out.

There's a little lesson in here. We get calls all of the time from people who want to know which of our nearly solids matches a particular color in one of our multicolors. We always steer them towards something that coordinates, but doesn't match. You need a certain amount of contrast to make the colors sing.