String Theory Yarn Company a feel good yarn store in Chicago's western suburbs 2017-09-19T01:21:19Z http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/feed/atom/ Janet Avila http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com <![CDATA[Outside Your Neighborhood Winners]]> http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/?p=12782 2017-09-19T01:21:19Z 2017-09-19T01:21:19Z String Theory Yarn Company

I just love it when people challenge themselves to try something a little different. So I decided we needed a little contest. The basic premise was that you would take one of the Neighborhood Fiber Company kits and use it for something other than what it was intended. I love what the winners Sharon Wussow […]

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String Theory Yarn Company

I just love it when people challenge themselves to try something a little different. So I decided we needed a little contest. The basic premise was that you would take one of the Neighborhood Fiber Company kits and use it for something other than what it was intended.

I love what the winners Sharon Wussow and Jan Jones came up with.

Capelet designed and made by Sharon Wussow

I used the Neighborhood Fiber Co. Madison Park Hat kit, which had a full skein of green, and three mini skeins of turquoise, purple and chartreuse.
After MUCH experimentation and swatching, I decided to knit an elbow-length wrap of my own design. I used a variety of slip stitches, and designed a multi-color wide band also using slip stitches. I worked the wrap in the round with a steek in the center front, carrying the yarns from one stripe to the next without cutting the yarn.

Once it was worked all the way from the ribbed neckband down to the bottom ribbing, I cut the steek, and added a ribbed buttonband, and an I-cord button loop. I used a Norwegian technique of covering the cut steek edge with a knitted facing.

I finished the wrap off with a button I made of polymer clay.

Ottar Hap (designed by Kate Davies) made by Jan Jones.

I used six skeins of Woolfolk Far and 2/3 of a Neighborhood Fiber Co. Yipes Stripes Kit.

 

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Janet Avila http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com <![CDATA[Behind the Scenes: Dyeing Ombre]]> http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/?p=12033 2017-07-06T15:21:50Z 2017-07-10T14:36:57Z String Theory Yarn Company

The Origin of Species: Putting the Mad into Mad Science by Ann Weaver July’s Mad Science project, The Origin of Species, and its yarn, a Maisonette ombré from Neighborhood Fiber Co. called Down House, pushed everyone involved to their limits. As I knit half a mile of yarn into increasingly complicated organisms, the staff at […]

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String Theory Yarn Company

The Origin of Species: Putting the Mad into Mad Science

by Ann Weaver

July’s Mad Science project, The Origin of Species, and its yarn, a Maisonette ombré from Neighborhood Fiber Co. called Down House, pushed everyone involved to their limits.

As I knit half a mile of yarn into increasingly complicated organisms, the staff at Neighborhood Fiber Co. undertook the intensive, never-to-be-repeated task of dyeing the custom yarn for the project. Here’s a look at the process behind Down House.
An ombré yarn starts as a knit blank, which is a Stockinette stitch rectangle produced on a knitting machine. Dyers can purchase knit blanks from the mills where the yarn is spun, butbecause Neighborhood Fiber Co. doesn’t regularly create ombrés, Karida and company knitthese on simple knitting machines. Here’s what a small blank looks like before dyeing:

For Down House, the 1,100 yards of Maisonette created a blank about 11 feet long. I can testify that it’s time-consuming to knit a blank this big — I knit the blank for the first Down House skein, which I used to knit The Origin of Species sample.
Astrid agreed to demonstrate the process of dyeing a simple ombré that transitions from green to light blue. She begins by submersing the entire blank in blue. Then, she dips one end of the blank into the blue, pulling the blank in and out, watching the dye saturate that end, and creating a fade from dark blue to light blue.

Next, she adds yellow dye to the pot to create green and continues dipping the end of the blank into the pot until she gets the fade from green to blue to light blue that she wants.


Keep in mind that the blanks for Down House were 11 feet long, so Astrid needed to throw the excess length over her shoulder as she worked on each end. More complex ombrés can be dyed using two pots (one for each end) or more to create several distinct colors that blend where they meet, like this ombré that Jenelle at Neighborhood Fiber Co. dyed as a sample for a dye workshop:

After the blanks have dried, they’re wound into cakes — again, a time-consuming process for 1,100 yards of yarn.
The question “What were we thinking?” arose often over the course of this project, but we hope the result is worth the effort.
If this madness looks like fun, watch for the opportunity to sign up for the Mad Science Yarn Club 2018 in November 2017.

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Janet Avila http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com <![CDATA[Four Day Knitalong – Prep]]> http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/?p=11943 2017-06-26T22:38:37Z 2017-06-26T22:38:37Z String Theory Yarn Company

  When Marie Greene (aka Oliveknits) invites you to “escape into knitting”, how can you pass that up? Marie is hosting a four day knitalong to make her new sweater design Stillwater. This seems like just the right amount of crazy, so I’m diving in. The idea is that you pick four days between June […]

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String Theory Yarn Company

 

When Marie Greene (aka Oliveknits) invites you to “escape into knitting”, how can you pass that up?

Marie is hosting a four day knitalong to make her new sweater design Stillwater. This seems like just the right amount of crazy, so I’m diving in.

The idea is that you pick four days between June 30th and July 10th to knit your sweater (extra days are given for bigger sizes). The sweater is top down, worsted weight. That seems doable.

I don’t participate in NaKniSweMo because November in retail is crazy enough without trying to make a sweater too. So this is my chance.

Of course, you are allowed to swatch ahead of time. So I did. I knit squares in Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio Worsted (pictured in orange above), Sun Valley Fibers (purple) and Elemental Affects (oatmeal). For this sweater and gauge, I liked my orange swatch best.

Next I need to get out my calendar and schedule in some serious knitting time. I would love to have you join me!

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Janet Avila http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com <![CDATA[Tips for Travel Knitting]]> http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/?p=11670 2017-06-06T01:17:13Z 2017-06-08T12:43:55Z String Theory Yarn Company

Summer Vacation! The best knitting time of the year! The first thing I do before every trip is plan out my knitting. We’ve talked before about how your trip deserves a new project, not the one that you are bored with. Seriously, a trip is an special occasion and your knitting should reflect that. Once you’ve […]

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String Theory Yarn Company

Summer Vacation! The best knitting time of the year!

The first thing I do before every trip is plan out my knitting. We’ve talked before about how your trip deserves a new project, not the one that you are bored with. Seriously, a trip is an special occasion and your knitting should reflect that.

Once you’ve picked your project, consider these tips to make your vacation knitting even better.

Always cast on and start a project at home, before you leave. You need a little momentum if you are taking something on the road. You also need to know that it will be as enjoyable as you think it will be.

Use a circular needle. Have you ever lost one of your double pointed needles under the seat and had to beg your husband to pullover or worse yet, suffered in silence until the next rest stop? Enough said.

Take a Needle Keeper. When you are traveling, your project comes in and out of the project bag frequently. Use a Needle Keeper to keep your project from falling off the needles. It will also keep your needles from tangling up in your project or poking through your bag. Needle keepers have travelled through TSA with no problems.

Use a Yarn It. My children have been permanently scarred by the time that my yarn rolled off my lap and under the seat during take off. As soon as the “fasten your seatbelt” lights went off, I walked back 18 rows to recover my yarn ball. “Excuse me. Sorry….” They thought they would die of embarrassment. Now I have a Yarn It. The rubber bottom anchors to your tray table on the plane. Nothing escapes. Remove the rubber and it will fit into the cup holder in your car or boat.

Stop by String Theory. We’ve got the yarn and gadgets to make your travel knitting time truly special.

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Janet Avila http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com <![CDATA[Designer Spotlight: Laura Nelkin]]> http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/?p=11678 2017-06-07T02:06:46Z 2017-06-07T02:03:15Z String Theory Yarn Company

Interview with Laura Nelkin by Ann Weaver Maybe you saw Laura Nelkin’s Covert Cowl in the Road to China Lace trunk show at String Theory last month. I’ve known Laura Nelkin for about ten years, and I’ve been proofreading her patterns for several of those years. When Laura sends me patterns to review, I never […]

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Interview with Laura Nelkin
by Ann Weaver

Maybe you saw Laura Nelkin’s Covert Cowl in the Road to China Lace trunk show at String Theory last month.

I’ve known Laura Nelkin for about ten years, and I’ve been proofreading her patterns for several of those years. When Laura sends me patterns to review, I never know what to expect. Her mystery knitalongs are as surprising as they are creative, and she has some of the best tutorials I’ve seen on her website. I asked her to share a little about herself and her design process, and to recommend some summer knitting projects!

Handknit Designer, Laura Nelkin

Tell us about yourself. Where do you live, and what are two things you do when you are not knitting?

I live in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York, just outside of Ithaca. I went to Cornell University in the 90s and then just loved it here so much I stayed! (Yes, I am one of those people….)

I went to school for apparel design and in the last few years have rediscovered my love of sewing. I am currently just a tiny bit obsessed with having an entirely hand-made wardrobe. I think this would be easier if I lived somewhere warmer, as my favorite thing to sew is summer dresses and those aren’t practical in Ithaca in February!

I also LOVE to cook. I got an Instant Pot this winter and cooking with it has been a new and dangerous obsession that my family is totally supportive of!

Please summarize your point of view as a designer in six words. Or fewer!

I LOVE TO KNIT

Which of your patterns best showcase your point of view?

I’ve been finding that the more I knit there more there is to learn . . . so I tend to be drawn to designs that help me explore a new-to-me technique or stitch.

Because of this, my patterns and point of view are always evolving and each design begets the next. If you look at my work chronologically you can see this.

For example, my latest Mystery KAL, Creatrixincorporates Shetland lace (double-sided garter stitch lace) with over 2,500 beads. If you look at my next two designs, Hring and Pacificus, these both incorporated Shetland lace but in a simpler, more accessible way. Basically, once I am knitting something I have already designed it, so I have the chance to think about what I want to knit next! (I’m sure some of you experience this phenomenon, too!)

Creatrix MKAL with Laura Nelkin

Do you have a favorite technique? Which patterns use it? Why should we all know about and use it?

Honestly, I do, and it isn’t an easy one . . . I’m a tad bit obsessed with working double-sided lace with beads. If you work with prestrung beads on your yarnovers, this creates a web of lace with beads that can float on the strands. I first discovered this technique when designing Undulating Waves over 10 years ago and keep gravitating back to playing with it in new ways. In Creatrix, I did this with Shetland lace.

I have an idea for a design for this fall that will use this technique in a new and crazy way (and I hope it works).

Give us some of your pattern recommendations for summer in Chicago. It’s humid! 

Ah, if you want to hear about new designs I would look at Hring, a beaded lace scarflette in silk/linen that is perfect for warm weather, or Pacificus, my new summer top that incorporates a simple Shetland Lace stitch at the top and my Novus Construction (a side-to-side seamless technique).

Hring Scarf by Laura Nelkin

 

Pacificus by Laura Nelkin

Looking back at older patterns I ADORE Jamie Lee and Janet Leigh for summer knitting . . . they are both knit in sport weight cotton and are uber flattering on a multitude of body types.

 

Janet Leigh by Laura Nelkin

Do you have tips for working with beads? 

SO MANY! The best thing to do is check out my Tutorials page. I have a ton of tutorials that focus on working with beads. I think this tutorial is a great start as it explains the different techniques that can be used and what size beads/yarn you need for them.

What are your plans for 2017? 

I’m already deep into my fall design work. I have two sweaters coming out this fall, another mystery KAL, a hat or two, and a shawl design for my first hometown retreat. My needles are going to be busy in the next few months getting ready. Right now, there are swatches everywhere and my office is piled high with books.

I’m taking a group to Ireland this fall so I’ve been doing a bit of research/learning about cables as I’m sure a little obsession is about to be born! I’m looking forward to combining cables and lace together! (Shhh . . . don’t tell anyone, that is still a secret!)

I’ve chosen two of Laura’s designs to knit this summer: Pacificus and Hring. Because I’m not an expert lace knitter, I’m going to knit Hring in worsted weight yarn using a size 10 needle. I’m going to knit Pacificus in one strand of Loom Fusilli held together with one strand of Shibui Cima. Here’s my swatch! I got gauge on the recommended needles, but the fabric is denser than Laura’s, so I’m going to knit a size larger than I usually would.

Pacificus swatch by Ann Weaver

Other yarns that would be great choices for Pacificus are Manos Serena, Ito Kinu or Universal Flax —or use your favorite fingering weight wool for an all-season Pacificus!

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Janet Avila http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com <![CDATA[Inspired Knitter: Ellen Brisske]]> http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/?p=11488 2017-05-22T21:57:03Z 2017-05-22T21:57:03Z String Theory Yarn Company

Ellen was our inspired knitter in April. How did you learn to knit? As a young child I spent summers in Union Pier, MI with my mom, sister, aunt, cousins and my grandmother.  When I was about 8, on a rainy day, my aunt taught my sister and I how to knit. I didn’t do […]

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Ellen and her granddaughters

Ellen was our inspired knitter in April.

How did you learn to knit?

As a young child I spent summers in Union Pier, MI with my mom, sister, aunt, cousins and my grandmother.  When I was about 8, on a rainy day, my aunt taught my sister and I how to knit.

I didn’t do much at that time but in the early years of my marriage I started to knit again making cable V-neck sweaters for my husband.  Once my children arrived the needles were put aside.

About 12 years ago, my sister reignited my interest in knitting.  I haven’t stopped since!  I credit my aunt for teaching me to knit but I don’t remember making anything as a child. The first thing I made as an adult was a scarf which I kept and followed that project with a felted knitting bag which I still have.

Crocus Shawlette

Favorite knitting spot?

At home: green leather chair in my family room, listening to audio books

At String Theory: the balance ball chair.

Little Sisters Dress

Favorite thing to knit?

My granddaughters each receive a new sweater for their birthdays and a hat for the holidays.

Continental or English? continental

Feroe Shawl

Next Project?

The Feroe Shawl or Banana Leaf Shawl

Favorite Designer?

Stephen West, the only designer whose patterns I have used more than once.

Lori Versaci, for her sweater designs.

Knitter you admire?

Jan Jones has such a great eye for color and is able to take a pattern and make it her own.

Ribbit

Tip for New Knitters?

Don’t get discouraged and keep trying

Thank you Ellen for inspiring us all!

Our inspired knitter for May is Sharon Carling.

Stop by so you can see her knitting in person.

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Janet Avila http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com <![CDATA[Nevertheless, She Persisted | June 2]]> http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/?p=11461 2017-05-21T18:32:38Z 2017-05-21T18:09:38Z String Theory Yarn Company

Nevertheless, She Persisted Pattern Launch Party June 2, 7 – 9pm No tickets required. Everyone is welcome! When the phrase “nevertheless, she persisted” entered our lexicon earlier this year, I thought that it basically summed up all human achievement: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Or maybe they were talking about knitting: […]

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String Theory Yarn Company

Nevertheless, She Persisted
Pattern Launch Party
June 2, 7 – 9pm
No tickets required. Everyone is welcome!

When the phrase “nevertheless, she persisted” entered our lexicon earlier this year, I thought that it basically summed up all human achievement:

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Or maybe they were talking about knitting:

“She was warned that knitting was addictive. She was told that the only place housework comes before knitting is in the dictionary. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

I decided that it was time to celebrate those that stand up for what they think is right, those that want to make the world a better place, those that persist!

So I called a few of my friends and asked them to help me throw a party.

Lorajean Kelley(the artist behind Knitted Wit) is dyeing up loads of Victory Fingering (including all her colorways that support heartfelt causes).

Sneak Peek of Ann’s Shawl Design

Ann Weaver has designed a quick and easy hap shawl pattern that will be launched at the party. The pattern will be free to all that buy yarn.

Ann also helped us pull together some great color combinations. Just in case you need a suggestion.

JamPdx is making us some mugs and I have a few other surprises up my sleeve.

Please plan to join us! I’d love to see you around our table casting on.

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Janet Avila http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com <![CDATA[Outside Your Neighborhood Contest]]> http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/?p=11336 2017-08-29T02:33:32Z 2017-05-09T04:32:45Z String Theory Yarn Company

It is a contest! With prizes! Entries due on July 26th September 1st. To participate, use one of the following three Neighborhood Fiber Co. kits for something other than the pattern it is named for.  For example, did you know you can use the Yipes Stripes Kit to make the Eastside Cowl? Yipes Stripes Kit includes 5 […]

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String Theory Yarn Company

It is a contest! With prizes!
Entries due on July 26th September 1st.

To participate, use one of the following three Neighborhood Fiber Co. kits for something other than the pattern it is named for.  For example, did you know you can use the Yipes Stripes Kit to make the Eastside Cowl?

  1. Yipes Stripes Kit includes 5 mini skeins of Studio Worsted (60 grams, 100 yards each)
  2. Madison Park Hat Kit includes 275 yards of Studio DK and 30 yards each of three contrasting colors.
  3. Iodine Cowl Kit includes 1 skein of Chromium (440 yards of laceweight silk and stainless steel) and 1 skein of Loft (350 yards of laceweight silk and mohair)

You can knit or crochet, add another String Theory yarn to the project, use someone else’s pattern or design your own.

We will award two three prizes, one crowd favorite, one Instagram favorite (#oustideyourneighborhood) and the other judged by Ann Weaver and Karida Collins (the masterminds behind the kits).

Need some help getting started?
Here are a few tips:

  • Search Ravelry for projects with the kit yardage and yarn weight. For example, Yipes Stripes has 500 yards of worsted weight yarn
  • Play with the yarn.  Cast on 20 stitches and try out some different stitches. How does it look in garter, stockinet, cables, lace…. How does it look if you double strand it?
  • Think about something you made that you loved doing. The same pattern can look very different if you mix up the colors.

Come in now for the best selection of kits.

If you are on Instagram, post pictures of your progress with the hashtags #stringtheoryge and #outsideyourneighborhood.

Your completed project needs to be turned in (and posted on your project page on Ravelry) by July 26th September 1st.

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Janet Avila http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com <![CDATA[Behind the Scenes: NFC]]> http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/?p=11309 2017-05-08T17:36:01Z 2017-05-08T17:36:01Z String Theory Yarn Company

Behind the Scenes: Neighborhood Fiber Co. by Ann Weaver In April, Slate’s podcast Working featured Karida Collins, the owner of and artist behind Neighborhood Fiber Co. yarns. Host Jacob Brobin asks Karida how she became a yarn dyer, what she (and her staff) do all day, and how living in Baltimore shapes her work. The interview […]

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String Theory Yarn Company

Behind the Scenes: Neighborhood Fiber Co.
by Ann Weaver

In April, Slate’s podcast Working featured Karida Collins, the owner of and artist behind Neighborhood Fiber Co. yarns. Host Jacob Brobin asks Karida how she became a yarn dyer, what she (and her staff) do all day, and how living in Baltimore shapes her work.

The interview is a detailed description of how yarn goes from undyed cone to finished skein, and it ends with a discussion about how Karida promotes causes in which she believes and gives back to the Baltimore community and the larger global community through her work. Read about it here.

After I listened to the podcast, I walked to the Neighborhood Fiber Co. studio to get some behind-the-scenes photos of Karida and her staff at work.

Everyone—even the boss—pitches in on the tedious work, like untangling skeins that come out of the dye pots and hanging them to dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karida had some difficulty describing this machine in the podcast, which is understandable. It’s a custom-made yarn winder that winds a dozen skeins at once—FAST. Her name is Seven, after Engine No. 7, the name of the former firehouse in which the Neighborhood Fiber Co. studio is located.

Seven is so fast that she needs supervision to ensure none of the skeins get tangled or caught. Click here to watch it in motion.

Lots of pots are involved in the process because the industrial-grade stove can handle ten pots at a time. As Karida notes in the podcast, this is as much stove as they could get into their space.

Although Neighborhood Fiber Co. has more than fifty colors available, all of them are produced by mixing and layering relatively few colors. This is why precise recipes and consistency are critical. Mixing dye powders to create the liquid dyes in the bottles shown above is the most dangerous part of the job because inhaling the dye particles can be harmful. Dyers wear masks during this part of the job. Safety first! Or at least in the top ten. Kidding! First!

Here, Astrid, one of the Neighborhood Fiber Co. dye experts, cleans pots before filling them with water to dye yarn.

The Neighborhood Fiber Co. studio is located in an old Firehouse in Baltimore, Maryland. If you’re in the area, stop by the studio to watch Karida and crew at work. If you’re not in the Baltimore area, stop by String Theory to see Neighborhood Fiber Co. yarns in person!

— Ann Weaver

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Janet Avila http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com <![CDATA[Wollmeise at String Theory]]> http://www.stringtheoryyarncompany.com/?p=11260 2017-05-08T18:17:53Z 2017-05-01T23:19:11Z String Theory Yarn Company

Wollmeise Twin Review by guest blogger Ann Weaver Wollmeise yarn, long coveted by knitters in the United States, has just arrived at String Theory from Pfaffenhofen, Germany! The basics: Wollmeise is pronounced “vole-mice” with the emphasis on the vole. Wollmeise Twin comes in 150 gram skeins, rather than the typical 100 gram skeins of fingering weight yarn. So these […]

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String Theory Yarn Company

Wollmeise Twin Review
by guest blogger Ann Weaver

Wollmeise yarn, long coveted by knitters in the United States, has just arrived at String Theory from Pfaffenhofen, Germany!

The basics:

  1. Wollmeise is pronounced “vole-mice” with the emphasis on the vole.
  2. Wollmeise Twin comes in 150 gram skeins, rather than the typical 100 gram skeins of fingering weight yarn. So these skeins are 510 yards (466 meters) each. This is more than 100 yards longer than the fingering weight skeins we are accustomed to purchasing.

Petty Harbour socks by Reyna Curtis

Great stitch definition and durability

When I knit with Wollmeise, the first thing I noticed was its tight twist. This means that stitch patterns will be crisp.

Twin’s tight twist and fiber content, 80% wool and 20% polyamide, makes it an ideal yarn for hard-wearing socks. You can wash items knit in this yarn in the washing machine on the delicate cycle or even on the regular cold cycle without damaging them.

Mildly variegated Amazonas colorway

Knitting with variegated colorways

As you see in my Amazonas swatch, the variegated colors will pool (that is, sections of each color will move across your knitting in an unpredictable way changing with the number of stitches you are working with). If you’re pooling-averse, consider choosing semisolid or subtly variegated colorways.

If you’re wary of pooling, consider knitting a project with a chevron or feather-and-fan stitch pattern. Patterns that make your stitches go up and down break up unpredictable color blobs. Here are some fingering-weight shawls that do this nicely:

Multnomah by Kate Ray

Berkeley, CA Shawl by Emily Peters

The Berkeley, Ca Shawl stripes the variegated yarn with a contrasting solid which also breaks up any potential pooling.

The simple texture pattern I worked in my Amazonas swatch also helped break up the pools, but it didn’t eliminate them. I like it. I embrace the pooling.

The Perfect Crop Top

How about a summer top?

I love the idea of knitting a summer top that I can wash on the delicate cycle. I’ll get a lot more wear out of a top that doesn’t sit around waiting for me to hand wash it after I sweat it up on a humid day. Here are some patterns I think would be a great fit for this yarn:

Luxa by Andrea Rangel

Auden by Bristol Ivy

Tpct (The Perfect Crop Top) by Teresa Gregorio (feel free to make it longer)

Weathered Pullover by me

I was planning to knit socks from my Amazonas skein, but after writing this review I’m considering a simple summer top with minimal shaping. I’ll keep you updated!

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