close knit: the neighborhood yarn shop

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Yarns and Some Thoughts on Gauge


Sally has been experimenting with a few new yarn companies this fall, and we have some really amazing new offerings for you.  The stuff above is so vibrant (and attention-grabbing), but first I want to tell you about the beautiful natural shades of the Jarbo Gastrike.
We have a 2-ply and a 3-ply version of this lovely sheepy stuff in some of my favorite colors: grey, black, and white.  So good.  In addition to being great yarns, these guys are very economical.  Like 330 yards for under $10 economical.

It seems to be a trend with some of these smaller companies to make the gauge a bit of a fun little game, and the Gastrike is no different.  Sally created a few very useful swatches to help us decide how we might use these yarns.  The Gastrike 3-ply, pictured above, is described as a worsted yarn on Ravlery, but the label suggests a gauge of 15-22 stitches over 4 inches on a US6-10.5.  That is some serious range.  The swatch below shows the yarn knit up on a US5 (at the top), 6, 7, and 8 (bottom).
The fabric is really nice on each needle, but the differences in gauge could make or break a project.  Sally is a very consistent, true-to-gauge knitter and here's what her swatch tells me: US5=5.5 stitches and 8 rows/inch, US6=5 stitches and 7 rows/inch, US7=4.75 stitches and 6.5ish rows/inch, US8=4.5 stitches and 6 rows/inch.
The finer version, Gastrike 2-ply, is described as a fingering weight on Ravelry, and a DK by the yarn company, with a gauge of 18-27 stitches over 4 inches on a US 2-10.  That's just confusing.  Here is what Sally found with her swatch: US3=7 stitches and 10 rows/inch, US4=6.5 stitches and 9 rows/inch, US5=6 stitches and 8 rows/inch, US6=5.5 stitches and 8.5 rows/inch.
It's a good idea to think about the final fabric you'll achieve with a given needle before you jump into a project.  You'd likely want a hat to be knit at a tighter gauge than a shawl, unless you like a really loose and slouchy hat (which I don't).  Mittens and gloves will want to be tight, but a scarf can be a little looser.  The gauge on a sweater really depends on the style and your personal preference.  A thick sweater coat will need to be knit more tightly than and drapey dolman sleeve top.  You get the idea.  The swatch not only tells you what your gauge is in stitches per inch, but you'll learn a lot about the resulting fabric.  Seeing these little swatches knit with four different needle sizes really drives that point home for me.  In short, please swatch.  Okay, off my soapbox and on to that gorgeous stuff you saw up above.


Elemental Affects is a small California-based company offering a few select yarns produced and processed in the US.  The Shetland Fingering that we have in the shop is grown in Montana, spun in the USA (not sure where), and hand-dyed in California.  I'm afraid that I am pretty much in love with the Old Gold colorway (bottom left corner) and would like to knit everything with it.  However, I will look jaundiced if I do that, especially in a few months when the freckles are gone, so maybe a little colorwork is in order.


Sally has cast on for her long-awaited Selbu Modern, a free pattern from the generous people at Kelbourne Woolens.  She is using the Old Gold and the deep tealy navy blue.  This yarn also pairs very nicely with the Gastrike 2-ply.  Since we are on a swatch kick today, here's a little striped swatch of the grey Gastrike and the pretty copper Elemental Affects.  Look how well they play together.


I have spent too much time thinking about Breton from Brooklyn Tweed (photo borrowed from Brooklyn Tweed site).
How beautiful would this be with the Gastrike as the main color and a pop of bright pink, green, or blue?  Very beautiful, I think.  There are so many possibilities for these yarns.  If you are the kind of person who knits fair isle sweaters in fingering weight wool, you will be thrilled.  If you want to make a light weight stripey scarf or little beanie with lots of colors or just a few natural shades, we can please you, too.  Come take a look at these new friends!

All photos involving the Elemental Affects are snagged with permission from the Flickr page of Lisa Weisman, aka Our Lady of the Really Nice Lens.  Thanks, Lisa!

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