For most of my life yarn didn’t matter. It’s not that I didn’t have some passing familiarity with it – I knew my flower afghan was made from it. But yarn was not something to be acquired on its own. Instead, it came as strands of scratchy acrylic bundled in plastic sleeves at the bottom of latch hook pillow kits and as the scraps of Red Heart Super Saver from my great aunt after her failed attempts to teach me to crochet. Even when I learned how to knit during fourth grade activity period, hunched over a pair of aluminum knitting needles as Mrs. Heagle once again explained the mechanics of the garter stitch, I didn’t really care about yarn. I’d chosen to take up knitting during activity period because I adored Mrs. Heagle and also because the yearbook class was full.
I had no idea – until I began knitting in earnest – yarn existed beyond the selection you could find at the craft store. But it didn’t take me long to discover my local yarn store and its shelves crammed with Debbie Bliss, Noro, Koigu, and Berroco. Then came my Knit Picks obsession and the online yarn stores stocked with Malabrigo and Blue Sky.
It wasn’t until I began buying up fleeces and learning to spin that I found traditional, minimally processed yarns. And so began my obsession. As a spinner, and particularly as a spinner who most loved to create yarn from sheep whose names I knew, my love for these rustic yarns made sense. Many manufactures sourced their fibers from smaller farmers based in the US. Some even raised their own flock of fiber animals. My favorites were made on old-fashioned spinning mules in family-owned mills. The resulting yarn was nothing like the smooth strand of commercially spun fiber. It’s fluffy and bouncy, and smells vaguely of sheep. It’s the kind of yarn I imagine being knit into caps and boiled mittens that my New England ancestors wore. It’s the kind of yarn that I want to knit into sweaters that Addie will wear, and her children will wear, and her children’s children will wear. I’ve knit some of my favorite garments from these minimally processed yarns, like the Cobblestone I made for Z and the lace bib tunic I designed for Addie.
When we moved to the city and I sold my wheel and drum carder to make room for a nursery, my desire to knit with rustic yarns grew even more intense. I missed spending summer afternoons elbows-deep in fleeces thick with lanolin, inhaling all the sheepiness. Without a wheel, and with no space to accumulate fleeces at my previous rate, I floundered. And then, luckily, Jared Flood introduced the Brooklyn Tweed yarns, Shelter and LOFT. These, more than any minimally processed yarn I have used to date, bear close resemblance to my beloved handspun. The wool is a combination of Columbia (a sturdy semi-soft wool) and Targhee (a super sproingy wool with a Velcro-like tendency that makes it perfect for steeking, felting, pretty much everything), and it’s woolen spun, which means that the yarn is spun from jumbled-up fibers that trap air in the strand. This method of spinning creates lofty yarns that, because of the trapped air, are warmer than their commercially spun counterparts.
This loft and warmth is part of the reason I chose LOFT for my Pomme de Pin cardigan. Even though the wool is a fingering weight, and the pattern calls for sport, LOFT blooms beautifully after blocking (as does shelter).
I am lucky enough to live within miles of a Brooklyn Tweed flagship yarn shop, and I love the yarn so much I have a difficult time leaving the store without picking up a skein or two. But I know not everyone is as fortunate as I. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I am giving away a $75 gift card to the Brooklyn Tweed online store. One winner will get to spend it on her (or his) choice of BT yarns and patterns.
Brooklyn Tweed Giveaway
The giveaway ends at Midnight, Eastern Time on February 15th and is open worldwide. The prize is provided by me, and this giveaway is in no way sponsored by Brooklyn Tweed. I just love the yarn so much I want to give someone else the opportunity to try it. Good Luck!
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