Category Archives: Reviews

A July 4th Yarn Review

Happy July 4th everyone!  I hope you are all well and celebrating this beautiful day with a smile.

For those of you who are in the Seattle area and wanted to know, yes, we are open on Monday the 5th and hope to see you at the store.  We hope it will be a sunny day.  We will have some new things for you at our West Seattle location.

I thought this may be a good day for a quick yarn review.  I am a big fan of Fly Designs and Pat Fly’s fiber-magic.  I am always amazed when she manages to get deep, intense, jewel tones on most unlikely fiber combinations.  This is especially true for Flutterby, a 70% angora and 30% Polyamide blend with a soft hand and a great feel next to skin.   

When dyed, angora usually dilutes colors and in hand-dyed yarns this usually results in a pastel color range.  Not so for Flutterby.  Unless intentionally left as pastels Fly Designs’ color lines are rich and saturated, which results in beautiful finished garments whether knitted

or crocheted.  Flutterby in Green     Flutterby in Violets     In addition, Flutterby has an incredibly reasonable price point for a 70% angora yarn that come in comes in 4 ounce hanks with 900 yards of sport weight yarn. 

While working with Flutterby we have found that it has a soft hand and feels wonderful next to skin.  Here is what HelloKnitty of Ravelry had to say about her experience with Flutterby:

I worked with the Roses color line of Flutterby, which I thought to be a beautiful combination of light to dark pinks.  I like variegated yarns but sometimes have a hard time finding the right pattern to complement the colors.  With that in mind I set out to find the perfect stitch pattern for my Flutterby.  After a few tries I decided that the woven look of linen stitch worked well with this color. 

I started my wrap over three times and I can tell you from experience it is easy to frog (given the high angora content I was surprised).  I would recommend tugging gently as the yarn can snap when pulled hard.  The polyamide component of Flutterby provides strength that you will not find in 100% angora.

In my multiple attempts to come up with the right gauge I saw that linen stitch made a very firm fabric so I finally settled on U.S. size 9 needles, which gave me a soft, flexible, and almost a gauzy fabric.  I knit the wrap length-wise with 603 stitches.

Flutterby being knitted      Flutterby being knitted

The finished size for my scarf/stole ended up being about 110 inches long and 9 inches wide.  I think half as long and twice as wide would also be very functional depending on how you like to wear your scarves.  I can easily wrap this scarf/stole around my neck 3 times making a nice cocoon for myself.  

Flutterby being knitted

A quick note, I did wash and block a swatch while testing needle sizes but I did not block the finished wrap (I am too busy wearing it).  I was surprised to see my swatch was colorfast as in my experience intense reds and pinks – especially in hand-dyed yarns – have a tendency to bleed.

Overall, I enjoyed working with Flutterby.  While Flutterby is 70% angora and has a nice halo somehow this has been achieved without yarn being too fluffy.  This is a very soft and non-prickly yarn that is lightweight and warm at the same time.  Flutterby comes in beautiful colorways and has a wide color palette that can please everyone.

A Yarn Review – Evilla Anyone?

Welcome to the world of Evilla ArtyarnI was expecting a Kauni Effektgarn clone but I found something a little different.  The color repeats are long, the same as Kauni, the weight is the same as Kauni; not proving my point too well, am I?  The difference is . . . the feel.

Evilla 8/2 Wool A46

Evilla Artyarn is a fingering weight Shetland yarn.  Shetland has a reputation of being coarse and a little rough on the hands and skin when worn.  I happen to LOVE Shetland so I definitely don’t have a problem with knitting it or wearing it.  A quick FYI, you can get Evilla in different hank sizes – anywhere from 100 grams to 400 grams – and the yardage and prices change based on the weight of each hank.

Those with sensitive skin will be pleasantly surprised.  When I began to wind it into cakes, this color is A46 – repeats of plum, cranberry and rose; rich, soft, subtle and very beautiful.  I noticed there were no breaks, it was smooth and even – I couldn’t wait to try it!

 

I wanted to try a pattern and had been on Ravelry.com in the Little Knits group Activity tab.  Someone had in their queue the Cables and Eyelet Cowl and I absolutely love the pattern.  I am working on a pattern which may use some elements of this pattern, so this became my swatch pattern.  At first the yarn felt coated, like a lotion (this is the natural lanolin on the fiber).  I wasn’t too sure about that but kept going.  Within a few minutes I realized I was gliding along.  

I had cast on with US 5 (3.75mm) needles and setup 4 pattern repeat rows with a 3-stitch garter stitch edge. This is not a tight gauge (5.5 – 6 sts/inch).  After blocking and drying, the cables popped as the swatch flattened out, and the stitches were defined and even.  Even though I knitted a 10” x 7” swatch, I still didn’t see any color change. . .this may give you an idea for how long the repeats are.  And you could go down a needle size or two for a denser fabric.  

I wanted to see what another color looked like as well as create a stockinette stitch swatch. So I pulled out the Evilla in A97 – Basil/Sage. . . well, green. 

Evilla 8/2 Wool A97

 

Again the yarn feels soothing to the skin. The stitch definition is great if you are using texture stitches in your pattern.  But for straight stockinette stitch, it is a nice smooth finish.  The gauge is the same as the patterned swatch above. If you want to create a timeless garment in a yarn that will show off your pattern and last, Evilla should be on your list.

 

 

Please feel free to let Fulay or me know if this review is helpful to you or if there are other yarns you are interested in seeing a review posted.

If you have been lurking, chatting and/or posting on the Little Knits Group on Ravelry, we have probably crossed paths.  I am gwynneknit, please stop by and say “hi!”   

Blessings,

Gwynne

Fly Designs Wooly Singles – A Review

I know I have been absent for a while and my excuse: we have been working on updating the site and the blog.  Sadly, our work is still not done.  And I noticed that for some reason comments for the last post was deleted magically by the system – I have no idea how – and I could not recover them.  My sincere apologies for those of you who posted comments.  Please post again; I will make sure your comments are published.

And, now to a much juicier topic, Fly Designs Wooly Singles.  You might have noticed, Winter Knitty is up anblog5blog3d Ann Weaver of Weaver Designs has a new jacket pattern, Everybody Knows.  I love the easy construction of this jacket and the way it is fitted.    My favorite part of the design is the fact that the jacket has a futuristic look with a softly fitted body.  Everybody Knows makes me want to knit one for myself, wear it while riding a Ducati to meet my Klingon friends all at the same time (note I am running a 103 degree fever as I type this so I hope the last sentence makes sense – it sure makes sense to me).

I also like the fact that Ann’s pattern uses Fly Designs’ Wooly Singles, a fine single ply wool with a rustic look.  My personal experience with this yarn is such that I can wear it next to my skin but it is not a super soft fiber, at least not at first.  If I were to compare this yarn to a similar hand-dyed product I would say that it is something between Manos del Uruguay only softer and Malabrigo’s worsted weight merino only a little more rustic and slightly heavier.  Wooly Singles can be used for jackets, sweaters, cardigans, accessories and if one would like to do so, for felting.

With every new yarn I try to request a review from one our friends and this time was no different.  This is what Samantha has to say about Wooly Singles:

I am a huge fan of Fly Designs. From their sock yarns to the Flying Sheep it is all beautifully hand-dyed in colors ranging from dreamy soft to brash and wild. And most of their yarns come in fat, generous hanks just begging to be turned into whatever design your imagination can conjure up. What’s not to love? And now, there’s a new kid in the Fly Designs family, Wooly Singles.

teal2bAccording to its label Wooly Singles is a “single ply fine count wool” and comes in big half pound skeins with 520 yards. In the hank, the strands appeared broad and flat with very little twist reminding me a little of a wrapped cotton I have used for summer knitting. The yarn is not at all scratchy but it did not feel particularly cushy-soft either. On the other hand, the fiber does get softer and cuddlier with blocking, washing and use.

I wound my hank of Wooly Singles it into an enormous cake and decided to try it out with a baby jacket. I love the homespun look of baby items made in a heavielilacbr yarn and the soft lavenders and palest blue of the colorway I was given made the choice an easy one.  I worked the jacket on aluminum size 8 straight needles knitting from the top down in the round. The body of the jacket and the sleeves are stockinette so I could see how the colors played out and the yoke had a bit of pattern to it so I could judge elasticity and stitch definition. With size 8 needles I got 4.5 stitches and 6.5 rows to the inch in stockinette stitch.

My first impression, given that I was beginning with the patterned yoke, was that Wooly Singles worked okay on size 8 needles but would probably be happier on size 9 or even 10. I tested this theory later with a few swatches and found that the 10’s led to the most comfortable knitting and nicest finished product.  The yarn knits up much more smoothly than its appearance in the hank would suggest. I expected it to look slightly like a thick-n-thin yarn but it does not. Even with a single ply with little twist the good folks at Fly Designs have managed to make a consistent yarn that makes a lovely finished product.

blog1Plain stockinette stitch shows even the slightest imperfections in the yarn and I never found a one. The patterned area of the jacket shows up nicely with clear definition and the eyelets at neck and hem were opened up perfectly even before blocking. This is a fairly rugged yarn and I don’t think it would be ideal for lacy patterns but I could easily see it with twists, cables, and knit-purl patterns. A moss stitch would likely play up Wooly Singles’ ruggedness nicely.

Fly Designs’ color work on the yarn impressed me hugely. It is hard to pull off multiple colors in a hank even if they are all a shade or two apart from one another. Things can get muddy and colors can pool when knitted. I knit blog2Wooly Singles in four different needles sizes and every finished piece had excellent color distribution with absolutely no pooling. I wondered if the sleeves of the jacket would look vastly different from the body given that they were worked over a little more than a third of the stitches for the body but it looks just fine. When I looked closely I saw that the sleeves looked a little more striped than the rest of the garment but it is subtle and the overall look is harmonious.

swampbI do think that Fly Designs has another hit on their hands. I would probably treat Wooly Singles like a chunky yarn if I were to knit with it again and I’d love to see a warm, wooly sweater out of it – you know, the kind you put on and just sink right into when it’s blustery outside. It’s definitely not a delicate flower of a yarn, but it’s beautiful and behaves nicely on the right size needles. Those of you who like your yarn with a little more heft are going to fall head-over-heels for this.

Ramen Yarn – A Review

Ramen appeared at our shop by happenstance when a group of wild and crazy knitters showed up right before their Alaskan Sock Cruise.  They made us laugh, shared their projects, their lovely bags (I actually considered hiding one of the bags), cheerful smiles and then showed me a pair of socks they were knitting.   Ramen in its pretty package This is when I saw Ramen – dyed by Emma of Dragonfibers – and knew I had to have some.  No spoon for this Ramen or even a fork, all you need is a desire for great color and a sense of adventure (a pair of needles would help too).

The infamous test knitter who got me hooked on this yarn is Shannon and she was punished for her deed by having to write a review for Ramen!  Here is what the sock addict had to say:

OK, I’ll admit it from the start, I’m prejudiced. And it’s not just that Emma, the Queen Dragon of Dragonfibers is a close friend, or that I’m a charter member of her sensational spinning fiber club, or even a regular customer of her other yarns and fibers. I am a sock yarn fanatic. Given this fact, I have to admit that I was predisposed to like Dragonfibers’ Ramen Sock yarn from the very beginning. But Ramen is something special.

The whole concept is based on the popular sock yarn “blanks” that we have seen recently from popular dyers and yarn companies, where fingering weight yarn is knitted into a double-knit Ramen in Sangria piece of material on a knitting machine. The fabric is then dyed and offered as is to be knitted directly from the fabric.

Knitters generally praise these for their innovative form and for the way in which they knit up. In a nutshell, some truly wild and beautiful color patterns and gradations result from these yarns. However, one issue that has been raised by knitters is that the blanks are just plain hard to wind and that they are difficult to knit from.

This is where the Dragonfibers’ genius comes in. The Ramen Sock yarn is dyed as a flat sock blank by Emma, but then frogged and wound into two 2 ounce balls of socky deliciousness. The name derives from the crinkly, kinky texture of the yarn once it has been frogged and wound into cakes. All the gorgeousness of the sock blanks and none of the frogging pain! And what gorgeousness it is. Instead of sharply defined stripes or variegations, Emma’s magic dyeing fingers produce a gradual, Noro-esque gradation of colors. This opens up a whole range of patterns for knitters to use. Ramen would look equally good in simple knit and purl patterns as well as lacy eyelet patterns. Unlike some other multi-colored yarns Ramen color schemes does not detract from more complex sock patterns.

As a test knitter I was gifted with what we jokingly called “Shrimp Ramen Yarn” because it resembled the colors on a package of shrimp flavored ramen noodles: a shrimpy peach, soft Ramen in water Lily yellow, and mulberry. I used my Ramen for socks for ladies’ size 9 feet while using the Anastasia pattern with U.S. 1.5 double points. As an experiment, I also knitted the leg a bit longer than I ordinarily would have taking the yardage for a test drive too.

Maybe I’m easily amused but I was utterly fascinated by the color changes as I knitted along. I loved how the colors smoothly blended into each other and transitioned from one to another. The wavy texture of the yarn was easier to work with than I had expected. Knitting with Ramen felt different than the usual sock yarn texture but not at all unpleasant and once washed the fabric maintains none of the crinkle, the resulting fabric is firm and smooth.

Ramen is made of a 3-ply superwash wool and nylon blend (75/25), and it is soft. In addition the yarn has generous yardage with 425 yards per 4 ounce. I knitted calf length legs in my socks and still had an amazing amount left over. I also think Ramen is more than a Ramen in Harvest Color Line just-a-sock yarn. This yarn is made for a variety of projects; I’m considering a hat and mitten set next.

PS. Mom, you HAVE to return my Ramen socks back to me! I am your only child for goodness sake!


Kauni Lace – A Yarn Review

Something about Kauni reminds me of Noro, the length of the color runs, the very subtle transitions from color to color and even the occasional plant matter. :) 

I really like working with Kauni but I thought there needs to be a bit more versatility in gauge and texture, which is how Kauni Lace came about – a single ply roughly spun yarn that imitates the qualities and the texture of a hand-spun yarn.  For the time being (while we wait for Kauni to resolve their shipment-delivery issues), we have only one color in stock and hope to receive multiple colors later in the year.

As with any unique new yarn we sought a review for Kauni Lace and this time it was Lisa’s turn, author of Knit Fix, published in 2006.  Lisa, an impressively super fast knitter, got back to me with her feedback in record time:

A couple of Friday nights ago I was on the phone with Sue talking about yarn.  We’d been working with yarn all day, though in different cities, and there we were talking about Kauni multicolor lace-weight when the rest of the world is out playing (this may define yarnaholics).  Little Knits has a trial batch of lace-weight Kauni but only in one color at this point, and even though I’m not a fan of pink, I wanted to try it, too (OK, maybe this defines yarnaholic). 

Sue sold me a skein with instructions to review it.  My father was a captain in the U.S. Navy.  Occasionally I do as I’m told.  And sometimes not.  Sue instructed me to wind the yarn by hand, that a swift would tear it.  I swifted the yarn, it tore, but hey, this yarn is born for spit-splicing.  Besides, look at this:

Kauni Lace 

Seductive stripes in situ.  Easy to imagine knit up as the Revontuli shawl, which is designed for Kauni sport-weight.

At first knitting, I have to admit the Kauni lace put me off.  Compared to the soft stuff I’ve been running through my hands lately, this is rough yarn.  But it’s tough, and the colors are glorious.  Even at its thinnest, the yarn never broke during knitting.  Once I began coating my hands with lotion – Heal My Hands, a solid cake of balm in a tin – the knitting became a pleasure.  I started the shawl (begins at neckline) on size 6 needles, moved to size 7 after the first few inches, and ended up using an 8 for the final two-thirds.  Despite its fine weight, Kauni lace really looks better on the larger needle given its slightly fuzzy halo.

After blocking, the fabric softened somewhat.  It’s not scratchy.  I must say, though, that I’ve rarely seen a yarn keep its blocked shape so well.  Here’s the finished product, as modeled by Karen:

Kauni Lace as knitted by Lisa    Kauni Lace as knitted by Lisa  

Knit up, Kauni lace is almost sheer. It floats.

Kauni Lace as knitted by Lisa 

Another friend who loves these colors has already put in first dibs for the beta test shawl.  I’d like to make this shawl again, in another colorway for me.  Not pink.  Hint, hint, Sue.