When I was asked to do a yarn review column I was excited! After all I have loved yarn since even before I was a knitter! When I was little I love to get my hands on the stuff and just play. I made little yarn dolls, sewed with it, glued it on stuff and just about anything I could imagine up! So now here is my chance to play with some yarn again, and tell you all about it.
I thought I would start out with a few of my favorite ‘go to’ yarns. These are the ones I love to use and I know will work well on looms and needles.
Plymouth Encore is one of my first choices when I do a project. Encore comes in a variety of yarn weights from DK up to super bulky and since it is a 75% acrylic, and wool blend it is machine washable and dryable while still being able to be blocked nicely to define your stitch patterns.
The worsted weights come in 128 solid colors and 64 ‘colorspun’ options which is a color changing yarn that coordinates very well with the solids. Plymouth Encore also comes in a center pull ball so there is not winding necessary!
The only downside to this yarn is that it is only available through local yarn shops or online, not at larger stores like Joann Fabrics or Michaels.
My other go to worsted weight yarn is Patons Classic wool. This is an 100% wool yarn which means you will need to hand wash it, but also means it will block beautifully! Being a wool yarn, it will also have some more give to it, so it is really ideal for stitch patterns that require you to manipulate the yarn a bit like lace and cables, the more stretch a yarn has, the less likely you are to break, or pull out a peg when you are looming. It is not the softest yarn, but it is soft enough for next to the skin wear, and will keep you cozy and warm.
For socks I have two favorites! The first is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock yarn. I have to admit, that I have a bit of a loyalty to Lorna’s Laces due to the yarn’s namesake being the one who launched me on my book writing career. That said the yarn is wonderful! It is soft, 100% super-wash merino; which means it’s machine washable and durable. This yarn comes in a variety of solids and multi-colors that are all beautiful. I have gotten more complements on the colors of my knits when using this yarn, than any other. There are two downsides to this yarn first it is available through local yarn shops and online. Second, it comes in skeins, so you will need to wind it up into a ball or yarn cake before you start knitting!
My second choice for go to sock yarn is Patons Kroy Sock yarn. This yarn is a 75% woo 25% acrylic blend. I have found it to be very durable, and the colors are lovely too! I have made socks for my little boys with this yarn, and they grew out of them before the socks wore out!
Kroy Sock is available at Joann fabrics, and comes in a center pull ball, so not winding here! It is machine washable and dryable as well, so all in all there are no downsides to it!
For lace hands down the race goes to team Uruguay! (These yarns make me want to visit my brother who lives there all the more!) Manos Del Uruguay and Malabrigo are my picks!
Manos del Uruguay lace is a 70% Baby Alpaca, 25% Silk, 5% Cashmere blend, giving it softness, warmth and strength that has no match!
Malabrigo lace is 100% Baby Merino wool, which is soft and strong and makes the hand dyed colors pop out in bold vibrant shades.
Both of these yarns come in skeins, so you will need to wind them up. They are a bit pricey, but worth EVERY penny! They also only usually can be found in local yarn shops and online.
Both have a range of beautiful hand dyed colors. They are both companies that help local artisans, look for ways to be ecologically responsible in their manufacturing processes, and love independent designers. All pluses in my book!
Well, those are some of my top pick go to yarns, I hope you get to play with some of them yourself. Leave me a comment, and let me know what your go to yarns are, I would love to know!
I also look forward to playing with some more yarns and letting you know all about them! Until next time, keep knitting, and remember.. if you mess up, it’s only yarn, you can unravel it and try again!
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By Denise Layman
When my mother gave me this yarn from Carodan Farms a few years ago I had no idea what to do with it. That was until I found a 123 year old knitting loom on E-bay! It was an awesome find. Then I found the book that goes with it: Stewart’s Manual of Crochet Point Loopation. The stitch used for this wrap is from this 123 year old loom knitting manual, and is a perfect match for the yarn! Loom knitting has a bit of a lost history, so I am trying to bring back some stitches loom knitters used in the past. With this versatile pattern give this old stitch new life in a modern style garment or you can wear it like the loom knitters of the 1880’s might have. So enjoy working this up and wearing a little bit of loom knitting history!
Knitting Loom: Adjustable Hat Loom in Large gauge setting, 16 pegs.
Yarn: approx. 400 yards of worsted weight wool yarn. (It is especially important to use a wool or other yarn that has some ‘grab’ to it. This pattern is perfect for hand spun wool, it will not work well with acrylic or other yarns unless they have a brushed finish to them) Two skeins of Carodan Farm worsted weight yarn in the color Bracken were used in the sample.
Notions: Tapestry Needle, Knitting tool.
Gauge: Gauge is not so important in this pattern.
This pattern is written so that you are working in a clockwise direction around the loom. So the beginning of your row will be on the right, and you will work your way left as you wrap.
The spread stitch is worked using two pegs, each stitch is worked one at a time over the two pegs as explained in the pattern below.
The ‘wrong side’ of your piece while working it on the loom will end up being the ‘right side’ of your finished wrap.
The spread stitch can be used in other applications, but it is definitely a large gauge stitch, it does not work well with anything but a large gauge loom.
Cast on/set up:
To set up for this stitch:
- Make a slip knot and place it on the 1st peg. [The peg to the left of your holding peg. (If working with a straight rake the sixth peg from the left side of your rake) (you will need the pegs on the right to increase))].
- Wrap working yarn around the 1st peg, 10 times. Peg 1 should have 11 loops.
- Take working yarn to 2nd peg and wrap it 11 times.
- Go to 3rd peg and wrap it 11 times.
- Go to 4th peg and wrap it 11 times.
- Go to 5th peg and wrap it 11 times.
- The 6th peg will be wrapped only once. (This will be peg A as seen below):
The stitch is worked over two pegs. We will call them A and B.
Peg A is the peg on the left and peg B is the peg on the right.
Peg B will have an odd amount of loops, in this case 11.
Peg A will have one loop, with the working yarn coming from the front between pegs A and B, towards the back of peg B.
- Bring the working yarn around and in back of peg B in the opposite direction (clockwise around the peg) and wrap around it once.
- Lift the top 3 stitches up and over that wrap.(They can be lifted all at once or one at a time, it makes no difference)
- Take the working yarn and e-wrap around peg A and knit the bottom loop over. (You will see that you are essentially making repeated figure 8’s around these two pegs.)
Repeat these three steps until there is only one loop left on peg B.
Then shift to the right. Peg B will now be peg A, and the next peg to the right will be peg B.
Work these two pegs as above, and continue until you have worked all the way back to the beginning of your row.
There will then be 1 loop on every peg, so wrap 10 times around each peg for a total of 11 wraps, an again once around the last peg on the left and repeat.
NOTE: after the first row you will have 2 wraps on the end peg on the left when you set up the row. Before starting the spread stitch knit over that stitch so that only one loop remains.
To increase you will simply ‘cast on’ and extra stitch by making 11 wraps on the empty peg just to the right of the beginning of your row before wrapping the others. The working yarn will be wrapped around this peg in a clockwise manner, once you have all 11 wraps bring the working yarn between the first two pegs toward the inside of the loom and wrap the remaining stitches in the row as normal.
Increase the piece by one ‘stitch’ every other row until you have a total of 15 stitches + the peg that has a single wrap on the left end of the row for a total of 16 pegs in use.
Work even until your wrap is half the desired total length, then begin to decrease as described below.
Decreases are made on the right end of the piece where the increases were made. A decrease, like the increases, is made after the entire row has been worked and there is one loop left on each peg.
To decrease: simply lift the loop on the right most peg, and move it over to the left. This loop will be considered wrap #2 on this peg so you will wrap 9 more times around the peg to make a total of 11.
Wrap and knit with the spread stitch as above, decreasing in this manner every other row until you are back down to 6 pegs.
At that point decrease by one stitch every row until there are only two pegs left.
Work that last row and when there is only one loop on each peg lift the loop from the left peg over and place it on the peg on the right.
Lift the bottom loop over the top one and knit off.
If making a Fichu, or open shoulder wrap, cut your working yarn leaving a 6 inch tail and pull the tail through the last loop remaining and remove it from the loom.
If you are finishing this as a poncho, or ‘bow tie’ style wrap then leave a tail about 3-4 yards long for seaming, and pull it through the loop to secure, and remove it from the loom.
Note: Remember as you finish this piece what was the ‘wrong side’ or back when you were knitting, is going to be the ‘right side’ or front when you are finished with the garment.
For shawl/simple wrap or fichu wrap.
(This is most likely how loom knitters in the 1880’s may have used this stitch pattern in a garment.)
Simply weave in the ends and block as desired.
For re-enactors you may wish to knit a ‘slide’ (directions below) to hold the wrap together in the center front at the neckline.
To make a cross over style fichu, simply add a hook and eye or other closure on the ends of the wrap, place the widest part of the wrap across your shoulders, cross it in the front and secure the ends at the center lower back with the closure.
Poncho/bow tie style wrap:
To make a poncho or bow tie style wrap you will need to seam the piece in a spiral. Lay the piece out on a table and basically roll it up starting with one end matching up the edges as you go work with the piece until you have a ‘roll’ that will be wide enough to go around your shoulders. You will want to make this a little looser for the poncho, and a little on the snug side for the bow tie style wrap.
To seam, use the yarn tail you left at cast off and run the working yarn through the spread stitches at the edge of the garment alternating back and forth between the two edges being joined.
Once you have the piece joined try it on and adjust the seam for flexibility as needed. Then trim and weave in the ends.
Slide piece for Fichu, or Bow Tie style wrap:
To make a ‘slide’ to gather the center of your bow tie wrap, simply take some of the yarn (or a contrasting yarn if desired) and make a strip about 2 inches wide on your loom in stockinet stitch. Make this piece as long as you desire, or need to wrap around and gather wrap, or secure the wrap in the center and cast off.
For a Fichu slide, simply seam the cast on and cast off end of this piece to create a loop.
For the Bow Tie style wrap, wrap the ‘slide around the part of the wrap that you wish to gather and seam the ends.
You may wish to run a few stitches through the wrap itself to secure the ‘slide’ in place. Weave in the ends and enjoy!