New Canterbury Prize Fibers

We’ve received a new shipment of Canterbury Prize Fibers at the warehouse: Dorper and Coopworth! Click here to get the scoop on our Dorper top, which was featured in last month’s blog.

Coopworth belong to the Longwool group; the breed itself is a relative newcomer to the world of sheep. They were developed in the 1950s in Canterbury, New Zealand under the direction of Ian Coop, for whom they are named. Their fiber is prized among handspinners, providing a lustrous, crimpy fiber. We are pleased to add Black Coopworth to our current range of natural colors from this breed: white, light grey, medium grey, and dark grey). Our Coopworth fiber is easy to spin, making it great for beginners and seasoned spinners alike.

If you spun through your fiber stash while participating in the Tour de Fleece this month, be sure to ask look for these fibers at your local Louet retailer!

Got Questions?

Have you ever pulled a loom, spinning wheel or drum carder out of storage, only to realize you’ve lost the manual, need to make a minor repair, or just can’t remember how to get started using it again? If you’ve got questions, the Louet Support Center is your 24/4 resource for the most frequently-asked questions about Louet equipment, yarns, fibers and patterns!

Each portal features instructions for maintenance, repair and other helpful hints for Louet products. Additionally, each month we’ll feature a Support Center Question of the Month to share on our Facebook fan page, Twitter feed and Ravelry Group!

Our support center is constantly being updated with the latest customer questions, pattern errata, and other important bits of information. Chances are, you’ll find what you need there – and if not, you can send us an email so that we can get you back on track!

New! Dorper Top from New Zealand

We’re pleased to add a new fiber to our Canterbury Prize Wool lineup: Dorper top will be coming soon to a Louet retailer near you!

The Dorper was produced in South Africa in the 1930s by crossing and interbreeding the Dorset Horn and the Black Headed Persian, so sheep can be either all white or have a black head. They were bred primarily as a meat sheep, shedding their wool for warmer climates, and were introduced to New Zealand in the 1980s.

This is not a fiber you would expect to find when shopping for spinning fiber: Dorper belong to a class of sheep that are referred to as hair sheep. Hair sheep typically don’t produce much in the way of wool, and the standard Dorper are no exception. However our Dorper has been raised with care in New Zealand, where better pasture and breeding with standard New Zealand types of sheep have created a very fine fiber with a longer staple length when compared to standard Dorper. Spinning enthusiasts are in for a treat!

 

 

Our story continues: LNA grows by leaps and bounds!

Late last year, we began to share the history of Louet North America; you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here if you are just now joining the story! In our first installment for 2013, Dave sheds light on the years leading up to the turn of the century in his own words. Enjoy! 

September 1994 is when I officially started working for Louet North America. Having left the Canadian Forces for the family business, I started in the office, learning the ropes of customer service, bank deposits, accounting 101, inventory control, shipping and receiving. I have joked with my family that in those years I took the equivalent of an MBA: an MTA…. Masters in Trudy’s Administration.

Louet North America had been a business that needed to provide for Jan and Trudy plus an employee and was easily able to do that up until this point. Jan worked as an engineer outside the business, so Louet North America was also about satisfying Trudy’s creative and intellectual needs.

With Dave joining the business, suddenly LNA had to provide for another family. LNA had to grow to accomplish this.

Trudy had been sewing and knitting since she was 5 years old. She often made her own clothes and clothes for her kids while we were growing up. Her knowledge in these areas was strong.


LNA had a line of weaving yarn, a 6/2 wool yarn which we sold slowly (mainly to weavers). This line was included when we took on Gerald Whittakers fiber business in the early 90’s. Trudy decided we could sell this yarn as a knitting yarn as well, though we would need to change it slightly so that it was more suited for knitters.

Trudy designed a yarn that used a long staple fiber for added strength, a soft wool – 22 micron Merino, in fact! She added more twist to the single spun yarn which gave it a natural resistance to pilling, and a looser twist in the plied yarn to give it more bounce and softness. This yarn would eventually become GEMS.

Trudy went to a mill in Canada and had the yarn spun. She used her outstanding colour sense from her years of hand dyeing and selected a color range. Over the years, the range of colors available in the GEMS line has always been a strong feature, one customers have always commented on.

Of course, LNA needed to promote our products, which we did through advertising was well as attending shows. Trudy felt the best way for stores to be convinced to purchase and stock our yarns was to have consumers asking for them, So Jan and Trudy spent a lot of time on the road and Dave stayed in the office.

Trudy did a lot of teaching in the 90’s: she taught hand dyeing techniques, supporting the sales of her book, Indigo, Madder and Marigold. Trudy would often teach and run a booth at a show or attend Stitches conventions as a vendor, then teaching a workshop somewhere nearby before heading home.

It was by going to these shows that Jan and Trudy met The Westerinks, who sold a Linen yarn called Euroflax. When the Westerinks decided they wanted to retire, Jan and Trudy offered to purchase Euroflax. So in late 1995, Louet North America became the new owners of Euroflax and suddenly had 2 lines of knitting yarns!

After trying to sell knitting yarns for a couple years, we decided we needed more patterns to support our yarns. It didn’t matter how good the yarns were if people didn’t know what to make with them! Initially, we worked with a reputable fashion designer, but eventually, Trudy just started designing patterns herself. She wanted to make classic garments:
things people would want to (and be able to) wear for years. She wanted to design wardobe staples.

What came next was an explosion of designs and patterns which still support our yarn sales to this day. Patterns like Lily, Dakota, Krystina, Brayden and Shauna came from these early design days.

So by the turn of the century, Louet North America was a fledgling knitting yarn company with a couple of yarn lines and a dozen or so patterns. Our yarns and patterns were growing in popularity and the company was growing too!

 

Thanks for joining us! We’ll be sure to share our next installment of Louet history soon! 

See our Art Yarn Flyer in Action!

Our new YouTube video is a great way to see the  Louet Art Yarn Flyer in action. Just imagine the possibilities you can explore with this add-on which fits both old and new versions of the S10, S15, S31 and S7 series spinning wheels.

The large orifice, jumbo bobbin and low spinning ratios allow you to spin bulky, novelty and art yarns with ease. It’s also fantastic for plying; you’ll love how much yarn you can ply without changing the bobbin!

Watch our video below to see what all the buzz is about, or  click here to view on our YouTube Channel; you can find your nearest Louet dealer by visiting our website.

Guest Blogger: Constance Hall Reviews Our New Art Yarn Flyer

Constance Hall began working with fiber when she was 5 years old when her mother taught her how to crochet.  From that early experience, her fiber interest expanded to include knitting, spinning, weaving, sewing, and felting. Constance  is a passionate teacher who loves introducing students to new skills and sharing in their journey through the world of fiber arts. She recently shared her thoughts about our new S10 Art Yarn Flyer. Enjoy!

“During the National Needlearts Association trade show in Long Beach, CA in February of this year, I stopped in the Louet booth to admire the fibers that were on display. There was a Louet S-10 on display in the booth with a flyer that I didn’t recognize. I own an S-10 Louet and was, of course, interested to see a new flyer for this wheel.

The first thing I noticed was that the bobbin is much bigger than the standard bobbin. It will hold lots of yarn of any kind. Another difference was the flyer itself, it had a new type of yarn guide. There is a smooth rod for the yarn to slide around. Another enhancement is a slot on the flyer arm, where a very large round guide ring is mounted. There is an easily adjustable nut on the bottom of this ring that allows you to loosen the ring and to move it up and down the flyer arm and fill the bobbin very evenly. The large size of the ring allows for all kinds of fun, funky art yarn add-ins to easily be wound on the bobbin. Feathers, felted balls, charms, cocoons; all should slide though this large ring with no problems and there is nothing for your yarn to snag on as it goes onto the bobbin. It is a very smooth transition all the way from the orifice to the bobbin.

According to Louet, the ratios on this new Art Yarn Flyer bobbin are 4.2:1, 5:1 and 6.2:1. The standard ratios are 5.5:1, 7.5:1, and 10.5:1. These new ratios give you more range when you want less twist. It also allows you more time to make the fiddley art yarns. I liked the 4.2:1 ratio very much and had no problem with the drive band stretching to fit that large whorl.

I liked this new flyer so well, that I think I would use my regular bobbin on it, as well as the big bobbin which comes with Art Yarn Flyer. I have an older Louet S-10 and had no problem with this flyer fitting my wheel. It fits a large range of Louets, but not all. One should check to make sure one’s wheel is compatible before ordering. Having this flyer as well as the fast flyer for my S-10 makes it an all purpose wheel for spinning almost any weight or type of yarn I could want to make. It’s a great addition to the options for most Louet wheels.

Guest Blogger: Jane Stafford Reviews the Octado Loom

We recently asked Jane Stafford to review our Octado Loom, a dobby loom that  is easy on the weaver because it eliminates the need for tie-ups.  The Octado can be operated with a mechanical dobby, or with an electronic interface, giving the end user endless possibilities. The electronic interface works with most popular computer weaving software, including Fiberworks PCW, Patternland, PixieLoom, Weavemaker, Proweave and Weave It. Jane shared the following comments from her customers with us, along with her final thoughts when it comes to this user-friendly floor loom.

“The Octado has revived my passion for weaving! The loom allows me to warp and weave in comfort. From the raddle on the castle, to the single wide pedal, to the elegant tension mechanism and the smooth shuttle race, every part of the loom works together to provide a joyful weaving experience for me. I am grateful each time I am at my Octado. It is perfect for me! And it is beautiful too!”  
Linda, Vancouver Island, B.C.

“I am almost 71 and have some ‘hip’ issues.  My Octado has allowed me to keep weaving with minimal wear and tear on my body.  I love the fact that I can play around and experiment without having to crawl around on the floor changing the tie-up.  No more yelling for Nick to help me get up off the floor.  It has been incredibly helpful both physically and emotionally, perhaps even saved our marriage!”
Tanis, Salt Spring Island, B.C.

 

In the end, my review of the Octado sums it all up like this: what a fabulous, easy loom to work on.  There are 10 million things you can do with 8 shafts and it is so easy to try them all out without having to change the tie-ups under the loom.  A simple click or two on the computer and everything is changed.  It is so liberating as I get older.  I will also add that I am not a computer person; I have come kicking and screaming to this but I have found the loom so simple and easy to use that I am not intimidated by any part of it!

-Jane Stafford, Lifetime Weaver

What’s New for 2013 from Louet North America

Happy New Year! There are lots of exciting new Louet products to look forward to in 2013. Last month, we gave you a sneak peek at our XL Standard Drum Carder which will be making its debut in stores in March. There are many more things to look forward to this year, such as:

SPINNING

ART YARN FLYER: This new art yarn flyer for the S10 wheel will make it a breeze to spin creative, unique yarns . Look for it in early 2013!

VICTORIA BAG: Make sure your spinning wheel is protected with our new bag made especially for the Victoria wheel. Spinning on-the-go is now easier than ever!

LIMITED-EDITION S90 ULTIMATE: Available for a limited time only! If you haven’t ordered one yet from your nearest Louet retailer, time is running out!

 

WEAVING

The new beater for the David loom is now in stores and will come with every new David loom! A retrofit is available for those of you who already own this versatile floor loom.

The advantage of the new beater is that it will give you a shuttle race, as well as improve your weaving area since the beater moves closer to the harnesses than the previous over head beater did. Additionally, the height of the loom can be reduced, making the loom easier to transport.

Coming soon: A new vertical warping mill – stay tuned for more details!

 

 

KNIT & CROCHET

The GEMS coupon program has been extended into 2013 – now is a great time to stock up on this easy-care yarn. Perhaps you can treat yourself to a sweater-quantity and indulge in a little ‘selfish’ knitting this month! Click here to download a PDF version of the GEMS coupon.

The Paige and Pamela patterns, which were originally designed for MerLin yarn, have been updated and are converted to knit with Euroflax yarn.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide + 2013 Preview

What’s at the top of your wish list this year? At Louet North America, we want to make sure your holiday is filled with as much fibery fun as possible, so we assembled a sampler pack of six incredible fibers from our Canterbury Prize Wool Group. Our Sampler Pack is available for a special introductory price of $45.00 and features 8 oz. each of six breed-specific fibers: BFL, Cotswold, Jacob, Leicester, Romney, and Wensleydale. Don’t miss out on this special deal for the holidays!

We know the clock is ticking for holiday gift projects, but our PolarKnit kits are quick to make and will keep your loved ones warm! Choose from cute little critter slippers or spiral rib bed socks to make sure toes stay toasty this winter.

Finally, there’s something for everyone on your list from Soak! To pamper hands and feet year-round, we recommend Heel and Handmaid. They make a great companion gift to hand-knit socks, mittens or gloves and come in a variety of fragrance options (as well as scentless), plus they are packed with skin-loving ingredients.

Every artisan will appreciate a bottle of Soak Wash in any of these four fresh fragrances: Aquae, Celebration, Lacey and Scentless. Whether you spin, weave, knit, crochet, or quilt, we guarantee you will fall in love with this eco-friendly, no-rinse cleanser that is perfect for hand–knits, raw fibers, spinning, and even felting.

If  you’re having a hard time deciding which scent to try, the Soak Travel Kit contains 8 mini-Soaks in all four fragrances – retailing at $11, it’s an affordable travel essential. Toss a few in your travel bag for the holidays or give as a gift – the Soak Travel Kit makes a creative stocking stuffer!

 

 

Sneak Peek for 2013: What’s New from Louet North America

Look for this new drum carder in February 2013! Our new Wide Standard Drum Carder will have you creating beautiful batts in no time flat.

The drum is 30 cm wide (just shy of 12 inches) and comes with our standard cloth; it is 1.5  times wider than our regular Standard Drum Carder.

We are currently accepting pre-orders, so be sure to ask your LYS to order yours today!

The Wide Standard Drum Carder will retail for $699.

Designer Spotlight: Robin Melanson

Rosehip Scarf

Tell us about how you came to work with Louet North America to create this pattern collection.
We were introduced by Julia Grunau of Patternfish. I met with Dave and Pam Van Stralen for lunch in Montreal. We discussed the Gems yarn line and where they would like to take it design-wise. I prepared some sketches and design concepts that would work well both as a collection and as individual pieces. I have been a freelance designer for about ten years now, so my experience working with many different yarns gives me the knowledge of what will or won’t work with a particular yarn, how to design for a specific yarn, using its own particular qualities to bring out the best in the garments.

What is your design process?
I design with several things in mind. I think knit designs have to be wearable and currently fashionable. I spend a lot of time looking at runway shows, colour and trend reports, and magazine editorials. While it’s true that knitwear tends to be a bit more classic and conservative when compared to sewn or tailored garments, it is important to be aware of the current cuts and trends that women are interested in wearing. If you think of the classic Aran sweater, for example, the stitch patterns and motifs used really haven’t changed over time. However, if you consider the shape of an Aran sweater that was popular 20 years ago (very oversized, drop-shouldered, tight waist ribbing), compared with the silhouette that is popular today (quite fitted in the shoulder, waist shaping, relaxed hem), it is easy to see that while the actual knitting hasn’t changed that much, what people want to wear has changed quite a bit, and will continue to evolve. Knitters want to see fresh ideas each season: new combinations of favourite stitches, colours that are in keeping with what is being shown in magazines and shops, and fashionable accessories. We want to make things that will fit in with the rest of our wardrobes, things that are fun to create and that will make us feel and look good or that will make great gifts.

Hazel Cardigan

It is important for the designs to be engaging to work on, but not overwhelmingly difficult to follow or hard to keep track of if it is worked on in small increments. It is often harder to design something simple than it is to design something difficult. The ideal pattern is simple but clever, pared down to what works best together, looks good, and is fun to make. If it feels like “work,” it is more likely that people will get bored and not want to finish their projects. If it’s fun, if the difficult bits are balanced by parts you can just cruise over, if it’s something you can’t wait to wear with your other clothes, you are more likely to finish and then enjoy your project, right?

What was the inspiration behind each piece? Can you tell us a little bit more about the names you used for each pattern?
I am inspired a lot by the textures I see around me, and a lot of what I happen to look at are plants and rocks and skies and things like that. I ground myself by spending time outdoors, walking or rollerblading in the greenbelt near my home, usually. I work at home so it can get a bit boring with no one to talk to all day but the cats or the UPS driver, so I try to get out for at least a while. Even with all that there is to read and think about online, it’s nice to see the actual world, think about nature and science, and what is real.

I talked about the names of the patterns in my blog post about the collection. It is my preference to use botanical names, though I do stray from that on occasion. I think botanical names sound nice and are usually neutral with regard to associated meanings – by this, I mean that every time you think of the pattern name it is not going to make you think of a specific person or event. It’s also a good idea to do a search to make sure there is not another meaning that wasn’t considered.

Ironwood Shawl

There is not usually one single inspiration behind any piece of mine, they are a product of who I am and my experiences, and what I think is interesting and beautiful, something I saw or thought I saw. It could be anything from a nut to a couture dress, and more likely it is both and everything in between.

Robin Melanson is the author of Knitting New Mittens & Gloves (STC Craft, 2008), and is a production assistant with Twist Collective. She is a freelance knitwear designer and technical editor living in Montreal, Quebec. Robin’s designs have been published in Twist Collective, Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting, Knit.1, Knit Simple, Knitter’s Magazine, Knitscene, and Verena as well as by numerous yarn companies.

Robin has created custom knitwear for several stage productions, including Rock of Ages (Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto) and Mary Poppins (New Amsterdam Theatre, New York). Her designs also appear in My Grandmother’s Knitting (STC Craft, 2011), Handknit Holidays (STC Craft, 2005), Color Style (Interweave Press, 2008), Folk Style (Interweave Press, 2007), and Wrap Style (Interweave Press, 2005).
Visit her blog at www.robinmelanson.com/blog