Sheep Breed Exploration & Yarnitecture Giveaway

Jillian Moreno is the author of Yarnitecture & shares a guest post on the Louet blog!We’re pleased to welcome spinner, author, and instructor Jillian Moreno a guest blogger here on the Louet blog.

Jillian is the author of Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Wantpublished by Storey Publishing in 2016. She is also the editor ofKnittyspin and is on the editorial board of Ply Magazine. She frequently contributes to Spin-Off and PLY Magazine and teaches all over North America. Be warned, she is a morning person and frequently breaks into song before 9am. Keep track of all of her crafty and other pursuits starting April at www.jillianmoreno.comShe lives buried in a monumental stash of fiber and books in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

A wonderful thing that happened along with the rise of spinners and dyers is the availability of different breeds commercially prepped, ready to spin. It used to be if you wanted something beyond merino or BFL or the ubiquitous ‘wool’ you had to buy a fleece and process the whole thing yourself. If you wanted less than pounds of this new to you fiber you’d have to find spinner friends to share the fleece with.

I love spinning wool, but I don’t like processing it myself. That left me without a huge amount of options for a long time. Along with individual dyers who are having their own selected fibers made into top and roving there is one company that has a great selection of really interesting breeds to spin, Louet. Yes the same Louet that makes the wonderful wheels and my favorite handcards. I first knew about Louet as a knitter, their Gems merino and Euroflax linen are yarns that I’ve happily knit for years. But it’s only been recently that I’ve discovered the depth of their fiber selection.

Louet has a fantastic range of commercially processed spinning fibers, some you won’t find anywhere else in the US. Many shops, carry their fibers or you can order directly if you like.  I’m still learning about different sheep breeds, how they feel and spin and what I might use them for, so I turned to Louet to further my education.

Breed Specific spinning fiber from Louet - click to read Jillian Moreno's guest post!

Clockwise from the top – Swalesdale, Finn, Coopworth.

Out of their long list of different fibers and blends, I went straight for their wool breeds. I hunted for things I’ve haven’t spun or haven’t spun a lot. I chose three breeds: Finn top, Swalesdale top and Coopworth roving. I’ve spun a bit of Finn, but have never spun Swalesdale or Coopworth.

I did a quick sample of each, spinning two 2-ply yarns, one with a woolen draft and one with a worsted draft, just to get the feel of each. Boy were they different from each other!

Breed Specific spinning fiber from Louet - click to read Jillian Moreno's guest post!

Swalesdale front to back, top, 2-ply drafted worsted, 2-ply drafted woolen.

I first spun the Swalesdale. I chose this fiber because I’ve not seen it offered anywhere else. The fiber is a mix of a coarse outer and softer under fiber. There were some stray black hairs and a little kemp. This is not a fiber I could wear as a garment; it was prickly to my hands while I was Andean plying it.  Even though it was a mix of longer outer fiber and shorten under fiber it was easy to spin both woolen and worsted without he two coats separating. This fiber would be great for rugs or bags, something that need strength and durability. It would be cool to use it in tapestry or frame weaving because of the unusual surface texture because of the mix of coats.

Breed Specific spinning fiber from Louet - click to read Jillian Moreno's guest post!

Finn, front to back, top, 2-ply drafted worsted, 2-ply drafted woolen (there are two of these).

Finn was next; this is a great middle of the road fiber. I’m not surprised that I’m seeing it more and more from dyers. This is a fiber that could be used in place of Corriedale for basic spins and for new spinners. In fact while it was as easy to spin as Corrie, it was softer than a lot that I’ve spun. I draped my yarn around my neck and only got a slight prickle. Finn is not very crimpy but got lofty when spun woolen. The surface of the spun yarn feels like suede, a matte texture. I am fascinated by this fiber. I want to experiment more with it, it may have the sweet spot for softness and durability for sweaters that I’m looking for. I just need to play with it to see what kind of stitch definition it has knit in stitch patterns.

Breed Specific spinning fiber from Louet - click to read Jillian Moreno's guest post!

Coopworth, front to back, top, 2-ply drafted worsted, 2-ply drafted woolen.

I left the Coopworth for last because I was the most excited by it. The roving was so well prepared I jumped right in and drafted with a looooong long draw. It was easy to spin and the yarn was springy and softer than I expected and the color, my favorite natural color, somewhere between grey and brown.  This fiber showed the most difference between the two type of drafts. I was surprised at how defined the plies were with the worsted draft on roving!

This is another fiber I can’t wear on my neck though it is nowhere near as prickly as the Swaledale. I could wear this Coopworth as a hat or mittens or a sweater. It is a durable fiber and would be fantastic woven into throw pillows. Coopworth might find it’s way onto my loom this year.

These three fibers just scratch the surface of what Louet has, and many are only available through Louet in this country. I’m definitely going back for more. 

Win a copy of Yarnitecture on the Louet blog!

GIVEAWAY

Want to learn more about how I spin and sample for knitting? Storey Publishing and Louet North America are giving away a copy of my book Yarnitecture: A Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want.

To enter, email info@louet.com with “Yarnitecture Giveaway” in the subject line and tell us what breeds you want to spin in 2017 in the body of your email. We’ll randomly select a winner to announce on January 11, 2017. Good luck! 

My Design Philosophy by Stacey Trock

My designing philosophy has only two rules.

  • Patterns should be easy to understand, and accessible to a beginner who is open to learning something new.
  • They should be interesting enough to keep you happy, but easy enough that they make great ‘watching tv’ knitting.

And I’ve delivered on every one of these three patterns. I couldn’t be more proud!

Even though though I developed these patterns with my new yarn colors in mind, they work great with lots of different color combos! (Check out Bento, below!) You might be interested in reading my Color Theory blog post and my more recent post about blending neutral colors and brights for inspiration!

Can I show you my new, fabulous patterns?

All of the amazing photos below were shot by Gale Zucker. She’s amazing.
freshstitches_patterns

Chiclets

Have you noticed the craze going around with mini-skeins? But what do you DO with those little bits of yarn? Or leftovers?

The Chiclets pattern uses 1 skein (175 yards) of Louet Gems Worsted (the sample is knitted in Cloud Grey) and 20 yards of 4 colors from my new line. The knitting is nice and easy, just a simple chevron pattern… but throw in some color changes and KA POW! Little bits that look like Chiclets!

The cowl is knit flat, and the only kinda tricky bit is working Intarsia… which just means doing color changes without stranding the yarn behind! This would make a great first Instarsia project.

I didn’t have time to knit ALL of the samples I have ideas for, so can I just share them with you? And you do all that knitting?

  • Instead of using only 4 colors, make this a real stash-buster and make each ‘chiclet’ a different color. That’s 12 colors total!
  • Stack the color changes vertically, creating an ombre cowl
  • Hold fingering weight yarn double to get a worsted gauge… and use those sock-yarn minis I know you have in your stash!
  • Use only 2 chiclet colors (maybe black & white?) for a super modern and sleek cowl

Chiclets_2_small_medium2

Mixie

When I was designing Mixie, I wanted a simple project. Fun colors, mostly stockinette.

The result is this cutie, a kite-shaped wrap that’s really flexible to wear. Do you see all of those pretty yarn-overs on the border? Sure, they’re pretty… but they double as buttonholes! So you can button this up any way you want!

Isn’t that fun?

The sample shows 3 Gems colors (FreshStitches Cherry, Clementine and Lemon), but it would look great in lots of different color combos! My next one is going to be Lemon, Lime and Aqua!

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Bento

I began designing Bento as a project for an “Introduction to Shawl Knitting” class. A lot of students are nervous about knitting a shawl (what the heck is a garter stitch tab?), especially ones that contain beads and lace.

Well, ‘lace’ is really just a word for a stitch pattern that contains yarn overs, and if you can knit, purl, increase and decrease, then you can do it!

And so Bento was born: a great shawl that gently introduces you to various stitch patterns, and even a bit of beads for bling.

I love the shape and weight of this shawl. Sometimes shawls end up being pretty, but barely stay on your shoulders. Not this guy! The extra-wide shape means that it easily drapes over your shoulders.
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See these in person!

A trunk show featuring these patterns (as well as a few others in my new yarn line) has already been sent out to LYSs! The party will start at Knit New Haven.

Ask your LYS to order these yarns and patterns, or click here to visit our online store.

Guest Post: Ombre Batts with Sayra from Atomicblue Fiber

Sayra from Atomicblue Fiber recently shared this fantastic tutorial video featuring her Louet carder. On today’s post, she shares more of her process with our blog readers to inspire fibery fun this winter. If you’re eager to get your hands on a drum carder, now is the perfect time: our StandardClassic & Elite drum carders are 10% off with free freight now through December 31, 2015 only at your nearest Louet Retailer.

Enjoy!



Multifaceted batts are much easier to make with this trick. I was playing in the studio one day, carding some semi felted roving. I carded the colors into layers. Then went to rip it up, thinking I would spin it like that. Instead I carded it again, with the batt sections on their side. Wow, I thought this is really interesting!

The batts are micro striped, with an effortless ombre look. The first time I tried it, was when I pulled the batt into 4 sections. I now separate the batt into 8 sections. It makes it easier to card and control where the fibers go. Here is my step-by-step process demonstrated in the video above:

Step 1: Start with lots of colorful fiber!

Step 2: Add your brights.

Step 3: Remove the Batt.

Step 4: Lay your batt out.

Step 5: Tear apart your batt.

Step 6: Card your batt again!

Step 7: Admire your batt!

Step 8: Spin with your batt!

You could get the same look, by carding a batt four times. Instead, try this carding hack, it’s fun. Consider carding up 10 colors, or just 3 for a tonal look. Mix up the fibers! Try merino,bamboo,and fake cashmere! Add sparkle, or not. It is a fun, very easy technique. The yarns spun from these batts, and subtle and very pretty.

Have fun carding!

 

Guest Post: Susanna IC

Today we have a guest post from talented designer Susanna IC. Susanna’s Taimi Cowl is featured on the cover of the Louet Spring 2015 collection, and Susanna has also contributed to our past collections including Ewyn from Fall 2014, and Blaeberry from Spring 2014.

What do you imagine when you think of spring? I picture millions of tiny little leaves bursting out of their winter cocoons and painting everything with their luminescent greens. Taimi (Finnish, meaning ‘seedling’) is a circular wrap that features delicate lace pattern reminiscent of those tender green shoots.

The sinuous lace is based on a traditional pattern in which the lace stitches are worked on both sides.  However, to make this project a beginner lace knitter friendly, the wrap is worked circularly and all the patterning is done only on the right side. This, along with the short repeat, makes the lace very easy to work and quick to memorize. The lace can also be embellished with glass beads that, much like dew drops on leaves, add some beautiful sparkle and texture to the finished project.

The pattern includes directions for two versions of Taimi; a cowl, which fits closely around the neck, and an infinity scarf, which can be wrapped several times as a cowl or worn loosely as a long scarf. Both samples pictured here were knitted with Louet’s Euroflax linen, in lace weight (green) and sport weight (pink). Besides being a perfect choice for the warm months, the 100% linen gives beautiful stitch definition to the lace and a gorgeous drape to the finished project. That said, Taimi could be worked just as successfully with any of the Louet’s Gems yarns, fingering up to the worsted weight; the luscious merino yarn would transform Taimi into a snuggly accessory perfect for the colder seasons.

I would love to see your versions of Taimi, and I hope you will share your projects with me on Ravelry. Happy knitting!

Giveaway

Enter to win a skein of Louet Euroflax Sport and the Taimi pattern! Click here to join the Louet Newsletter and enter to win! If you’re already a part of our list you won’t be added again, and you can still enter to win!

Guest Post: Mari Chiba

Today we have a guest post from knitwear designer Mari Chiba. Mari has designed many patterns for Louet and this month her design, the Colbie Tank, featuring Louet Euroflax Sport and Gems Sport is on the cover of the Spring 2015 issue of Knitscene! We’re so excited to see our yarn, and Mari’s design on the cover. You can learn more about Mari and her designs at mariknits.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram as @mariknits, or on Ravelry as MariChiba. 

© Knitscene/Harper Point Photography

When I first imagined this sweater I knew it had to be in Louet yarn. I couldn’t think of another yarn that would have the same color and the same weight in two different bases that would work together as perfectly as Euroflax Sport and Gems Sport do for this design. The cable portion on the neck is worked in Gems Sport, which means the cables have great definition and and hold the shape of the top well. The body is worked in Euroflax, a fabric that gets softer the more you wash and wear, and is effortlessly comfortable and drapes beautifully.

You may have also noticed that I LOVE Crabapple, I’ve designed two other patterns using this color, the Chibi Maruko Cowl and Coleen from Louet North America Fall 2014. So when I sketched this top and sent it off to Knitscene I always hoped it would come to life in Crabapple.

Colbie Tank Sketch by Mari Chiba

Colbie Tank Sketch by Mari Chiba

 

However, when it came to making this cable come to life there was a bit more challenge than I initially expected. I ended up knitting and re-knitting the cable and the back of the top about 8 times before I finally came up with the short row ratio that the final top has in the cable section to make it lie flat.

Colbie Tanks WIP photo by Mari Chiba

 

You can see in this first photo that this clearly wasn’t going to work. Who wants a droopy cable on their neck?

Colbie Tanks WIP photo by Mari Chiba

I also tried eliminating the cable on one side, but this both departed from my original vision AND still didn’t lie flat.

Needless to say, as simple as this top looks, it was a challenging design for me to figure out how to make it match my original vision. I’ll be blogging more about the short rows in the cable section on my own blog at mariknits.com.

Winner + Guest Post: Susanna IC

Today we have a guest post from Susanna IC, the designer of Ewyn from the Louet North America Fall 2014 collection.

Hi everyone! I would like to tell you a little bit about the inspiration for my design, Ewyn, which is a part of the gorgeous Louet North America Fall 2014 collection. The pattern includes directions and charts for a rectangular stole worked in Euroflax Lace, as well as a crescent shawl knitted in GEMS Fingering

Ewyn (Welsh, meaning ‘surf’) was inspired by the ocean and its white-capped waves rushing to the shore, sparkling and full of energy. I love traditional Estonian lace patterns, especially all of the Lily-of-the-Valley variations.  Ewyn’s lace is based on one of these variations; worked sideways, this one reminded me of the ocean waves. I used the traditional nupps to mimic the bubbly texture of the waves for the crescent version, and I added some sparkly beads reminiscent of water droplets to the stole.

The crescent’s lace border is knitted first; stitches are then picked up along the border’s top edge and simple stockinette short rows follow to create the crescent shape. The stole is worked sideways, in one piece, with both edges worked at the same times with the shawl’s body. The sideways constructions makes the stole very easy to customize, simply cast on extra repeats for additional length and work the shawl to the width you prefer.

The bead placement can be also modified; the beads can be added throughout the shawl to all the lace repeats or just to the edge repeats. In the sample stole, I beaded three pattern repeats along each edge. Lastly, the beads can be omitted or replaced with nupps, if desired. Along the same lines, the crescent can be modified as well; the nupps can be replaced with beads or left off altogether.

I love the versatility of the two sizes. I picture the beaded linen stole as a perfect accessory wrapped around the shoulders for an evening out or worn on summer nights just as the air starts to cool down. The GEMS crescent will be great for the transitional weather in spring and fall; it can also provide a shot of bright color tucked into a neckline of a warm coat in winter.

I would love to see your interpretations of Ewyn, and I hope you will share your projects with me on Ravelry. See you there!

Best,

Susanna

You can see all the previous stops in the Louet Blog Tour by clicking on the links below:

Aug 13: Kathy Owens, guest post on the Louet Blog
Aug 15: Laura Patterson, Fiber Dreams
Aug 18: Mari Chiba, Mari Knits 
Aug 20: Rohn Strong, Rohn Strong Designs
Aug 25: Ruth Gargia-Alcantud, Rock+Purl 
Aug 27: Varian Brandon, Brandon Knitting Designs
September 1: Handmade by Stefanie
Sept 3: Susanna IC, guest post on the Louet Blog

 

Last but not least, we’d like to announce our lucky winner for our blog giveaway! Sandee8908 is the lucky winner for our Matterhorn Kit Giveaway; we have contacted her via Ravelry to arrange for the delivery of the prize. Thanks to everyone who entered!