Meet the Yarn: Haiku

Jill Wolcott

Casting on with Haiku

I picked up Haiku with a specific project in mind.  That isn’t usually the case, but the yarn spoke to me when I first saw it.  I reverse my usual process and I went right into a large swatch using the stitch patterns I needed for that pattern.  

Medallion swatch unblocked and blocked

Haiku fit my project perfectly.  After swatching and adjusting my numbers, and making a few changes, I sent my pattern off to a knitter to do the knitting.  Then I made my usual exploration swatch.  These swatches tell me so much about each yarn and usually help me decide what to do in terms of stitch pattern and project.  I don’t necessarily use the four stitches, but they give me an idea of stitch definition, how the yarn and color interact in them, and what type of background seems to make the yarn sing.

I have wet and steam blocked my swatches and have these observations.  Overall, there was little gauge change in my swatches—just a tidying up of stitches and rows.  I used Addi Lace cable needles, US size 3(3.25mm).  I am generally a loose knitter, so you may need to go up a size or two to achieve the same gauge.  

Details of Medallion

Central medallion at back of neck

It goes without saying that this fingering weight, 3-ply yarn, was a pleasure to work with.  The bamboo and merino combine to give it a lovely sheen, making this a yarn entirely appropriate for shawls, shrugs, cowls, scarves, and garments!  With 10% nylon, I think this would make lovely, transitional socks.  

I did some research on bamboo fiber.  I have seen a lot of change in this fiber since first seeing it in yarn in the early part of the 2000s.  Bamboo is noted for its smooth, soft, and luxurious feel, derived from its round surface.  Bamboo fiber breaths well and has micro gaps and holes which lead to excellent moisture absorption and ventilation.  It is comfortable in both warm and cold weather.  Bamboo has a naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-static bio-agent called “bamboo kun”.  This bio-agent is retained in the process of becoming a fiber and has been found to remain after a high number of washes.  The process of creating bamboo fiber is done most often by a chemical process using caustic soda or lye, followed by a bleaching and carbon disulfide process.  This is not necessarily environmentally friendly.  Organic bamboo is processed mechanically, at a higher cost.

Center back bottom lace 

This process is something to consider when choosing manufactured fibers, but should also be weighed by the positive attributes it brings.  Bamboo has plenty of attributes:  renewable fiber source with short growing cycle (4 years), plus antimicrobial and comfort.  Although the process of making manufactured fibers has some drawbacks, having good inputs counts in its favor.

Back and buttoned cuff

My Haiku Medallion shrug was the first piece in the TNNA Fashion show at the Summer 2017 show.  I have no photos, and didn’t see it because I didn’t get to TNNA in time.  I did snag the sample to wear in a class I was teaching the following day.  Wearing the sample was when I learned the most about this yarn!  It was so comfortable I forgot I was wearing it.  It was warm, but not too.  It looked great too!

Looking at photos I’ve now taken of my shrug, you can see how nicely it works in lace, which is pleasantly offset by the plainness of the stockinette.  I like to liven this piece up with a lot of buttons too.  Medallion Haiku will be released in December or January. Want to know when it is getting published?  Sign up for my bi-monthly newsletter here.   You can get swatch instructions for the small medallion pattern on Jill’s blog on October 18.

Keep up on all things Jill Wolcott:
Twitter: @jillwolcottknit
Instagram: @jillwolcottknits
Pinterest: Jill Wolcott Knits

Haiku can be found in these shops:
Jessica Knits in Scottsdale, AZ
Purls of Wisdom in Pheonixville, PA
Row One Yarn in Sherman Oaks, CA
Salty Sheep in Swansboro, NC
StevenBe in Minneapolis, MN
Yarning for You in San Marcos, CA
Yarns to Go in Alpina, MI
And many more!

You can also special order Haiku from any shop that carries Anzula yarns. You can find a list of shops here.

Halloween Haunts: Spooky Project Roundup!

I absolutely love the holidays. Once the air changes and starts getting a bit cooler, I start wearing hoodies, watching my favorite Halloween movies, planning my Halloween costume and decorating the house in lots of spider webs. Okay, let's be real, I plan my costume months in advance. I love dressing up! I still remember trick-or-treating with my brothers in the neighborhood I grew up in. One neighbor dressed up as the devil and scared the 1950's poodle skirt right off me! But it didn't deter me from trick-or-treating, because, well, candy.

To get you all in the Halloween mood, we've rounded up some of our favorite spooky projects!

Hocus Pocus Cowl by wonderfallz

Photo by wonderfallz

Photo by wonderfallz

This cowl, by Thea Eschliman, is absolutely terrifying! The jack-o-lanterns, owls, and black cats go together so well, it must be witchcraft! This would look great in any of our fingering weight yarns, like Lunaris.

Day of the Dead Mittens by Pinchie

Photo by Pinchie

Photo by Pinchie

Aren't these mittens to die for? Designed by Allison Guy, these mittens have a big skull on the back of the hand, with a bunch of little skulls in the palm. I'd love to see these in Squishy!

Wearable Web by zorla

Photo by zorla

Photo by zorla

Arachnaphobes, watch out! This cozy cobweb would complement a spider costume perfectly, and Wash My Lace would work wonderfully for this project!

Bat and Jack O'Lantern by KnittyFish

Photo by KnittyFish

Photo by KnittyFish

THIS BAT IS SO CUTE IT'S DRIVING ME BATTY! This adorable bat would make an adorable Halloween decoration, or you can just snuggle up with it at night! This project will definitely knit up quickly in For Better or Worsted.

These are just a few Halloween projects - there are so many more on Ravelry! What projects are you working on for Halloween? What Anzula yarn would you use? Let us know in the comments!

Knit Notes: Hunter Hammersen

Hunter sent me a copy of her book a few weeks ago and I immediately wanted to knit a million socks and decorate my entire home in beautiful rugs. As I got started swatching and reading all the history pages I really wanted to talk with Hunter about knitting socks and the book. I learned so much talking with her that I just had to share it with you (with Hunter's permission of course)! 

Charlie - Attached are a couple photos of the swatch I did. I plan on retaking them in better light for the post. (I didn't retake them and I forgot to attached them, of course).

Hunter - Hmm, the email gremlins ate them, sorry.  I'd love to see them though!

Charlie - Oops, Here they are! I used Anzula Nebula and the recommended needle size. I might need to go up one size, what do you think?

Hunter - So I am particular about socks and gauge/needle sizes. It's part of the reason I'll give people a gauge, and sometimes a range of possible needle sizes, but I absolutely won't ever tell someone 'just use size X needles.' Because it doesn't matter what needle size you're using, it matters what gauge you're getting!

I know a lot of folks default to 8spi (in blocked stockinette, worked in the round if we want to be super particular). But I feel like, in order to have sturdy, long-lasting socks, you actually want to work a bit tighter than that on almost all sock/fingering-weight yarns.

In this book for fingering-weight yarns, I went with a suggested gauge of 8.5 stitches per inch, which totally gives you a more durable fabric than 8. But there are a lot of sock yarns out there where 8.75 or 9 stitches per inch would be even better.

So my official answer is 'are you getting a nice dense fabric in stockinette with your first needles? If so, you're probably right on target (and remember that the lace will be under tension when you have it on, so that will help show it off in a way that can be hard to see in a swatch). Now, if you're actually getting stockinette that's too dense, the sort where it kills your hands to knit it and it feels more like cardboard than fabric, then totally go up a needle size.

That's hard to judge without actually feeling a swatch of stockinette, so I can't say for sure what you should do. But I see far more folks making socks on needles that are too big than on needles that are too small.

Ardabil from Silk Road Socks

Charlie – Well, it looks like I'm getting 7.5-7.75 stitches per inch so based on your advice I think I'll swatch one needle smaller and see how it goes. I definitely want my socks to last as long as possible!

Hunter - Yeah, I'm always amazed by just how tiny a needle I have to use to truly get to that 8+ range on a sock yarn.  But I swear it's how you make a sock (especially one in a yarn without nylon) last!

I will confess that I'm a sucker for thick socks though.  Most of the ones I knit for myself are out of dk weight (your Cricket makes a great thick sock yarn, it's a good fiber blend for socks and it has a nice density/amount of twist...just be sure to get two skeins!).  That's a big part of why I included two sets of gauge/sizing information for all the socks in the book.  One is for fingering weight (at that somewhat daunting 8.5spi) and one for sport/dk weight (at a somewhat more relaxed 7spi).

Charlie - I also noticed that my lace stitches are uneven left versus right, do you have any tricks to avoid that?

Hunter - So my first thought is that blocking cures all manner of ills. The very first thing I'd try is blocking your swatch to see if it settles out. If it does, you're great, you're all set. If not, there are more things to try!

Next, I'd make sure that you're swatching the same way you'll be knitting the finished piece. That is, swatch in the round if your actual knitting will be in the round (there's a tutorial on how to do that over here: This is especially important for stitch patterns that have you doing increases/decreases on every row. If you're working your swatch flat, and you're not as used to doing decreases on the back side of the fabric, that can make things look wonky on the swatch (when they'll be fine on the actual project because you'll always be doing your decreases on the front side there).

Charlie - Yeah, I swatched in the round. Is there anything I can try?

Because you're already swatching in the round, and you're already blocking your swatch, and you still see an unevenness, it's time to get creative. The solution then is usually to change how you're actually making the decreases. There are all sorts of articles out there on how to tweak them, and it's fun to spend some time reading and experimenting to see what works best with your yarn, needles, and style of knitting.

There's a good article here:

and another here:

But trying to change how you actually manipulate the stitches can be a pretty big job (especially if it's something your hands are used to doing on auto pilot!), so I'd totally check your swatches first!

Charlie – I did swatch in the round and I washed my swatch but I didn't pin it out, so it may not be the best point of reference. I'll reblock it with pins this time, (more reminders to do it right the first time). If that doesn't help I am going to check out these resources. TECHknitting is a long favorite of mine and I was introduced to Coco Knits last year by KnitStars.

Hunter - Yeah, try giving it a yank, sometimes stitches just need a little persuasion to line up!  And when they're on your feet, they'll be under a bit of tension, so what it looks like blocked is a pretty good idea of what it will look like on your feet.

Charlie - I've been pouring over your new book and there is so much fascinating history along with the patterns. How did your love for oriental rugs turn from hobby to obsessive study?

Heriz from Silk Road Socks

Heriz from Silk Road Socks

Hunter - I've actually liked rugs longer than I've liked knitting! I grew up with them (one of my most treasured possessions is a rug that belonged to my great grandfather). And somewhere along the way it became a tradition to get a rug to commemorate big life events (Graduate college? Get a rug. First apartment? Get a rug. Finish grad school? Get a rug. First book? Totally get a rug.)

They're this perfect blend of beautiful and practical (rather like knitted socks!). And they're a marvelous demonstration of how skill and time can turn basic materials into something breathtaking (and something that will last for generations). Add in all the fun history stuff (who makes the rugs? what are those people's lives like? where do rugs go after they're made?), and it's just too much to resist!

Charlie - Agreed! All the pictures in your book show the most beautiful carpets. Where did you start your research?

Hunter - Lots and lots and lots of reading. And it's tricky, because rugs are heavily romanticized, so you have to be careful to find books that are focused on facts rather than trying to tell you a story. But the real history is worth tracking down (and so much more satisfying than the tales).

But, if you want to start learning about carpets, your best bet is to actually go to a good store and lay hands on them. Look for a shop that's been around for a while (avoid anywhere that's constantly having going out of business or moving sales) and spend some time just looking. You'll know pretty quickly if they're something you want in your life!

Joshaqan from Silk Road Socks

Joshaqan from Silk Road Socks

Charlie - Where is your favorite place to knit?

Hunter - Is it shameful if I admit I'm a TV knitter? I mean it would sound so much more romantic if I described some perfect scene of a roaring fire in an alpine hunting lodge...but mostly it's me tucked up at home catching up on Netflix!

Charlie – Not shameful. At. All. I confess to watching a lot of Netflix, and Hulu, and Amazon Prime while knitting. Lol! So we know you love rugs and knitting, what are your other passions?

Hunter - I am such a homebody! I love cooking and playing board games. But let's all pretend I said something exciting like ice caving or sky diving!

Charlie – Ah, just like the rugs, the reality is so much more interesting than the fantasy. Just for fun name a favorite recipe, favorite game, and favorite show (I have a hundred favorites and know it's hard to choose, so maybe just the ones you're really into right now).

Hunter - Oh let's there are few things in life better than a roast chicken.  It makes your house smell amazing, and you've got built in leftovers.  I really like the Jamie Oliver Milk Chicken recipe (you can find it over here: . 

For board games, I'm a fan of the 'let's settle in for three hours and really do this' style, so I'm a big fan of Agricola. 

And as for tv?  Well let's just say I'm very much looking forward to the next season of The Walking Dead!

Charlie - Do you consider yourself a dog or cat person?

Hunter - Kitties all the way! We have two now (and have had several more over the years), and they are totally in charge around here.

Charlie – I love cats! What are their names? 

Hunter - This is actually a pretty accurate reflection of my world most've got Levon there in the front being attentive, and Douglas in the background plotting something nefarious.  Plus tea...and both rugs (very likely in need of a vacuum) and woolly blankets (in a shamefully untidy state) in the distance!

Charlie - How do you take your coffee or tea?

Hunter - Tea all the way...super strong but with lots of honey and half and half.

Charlie - If you could go anywhere, where would you go and what would you do there?

Hunter - So we're in the middle of moving from Ohio to Maine (as in, I'm surrounded by moving boxes as I type this...remind me not to bring out a book and move at the same time ever again!). So right at this very moment, I desperately want to be in my new house, snuggled up on the deck, staring at the ocean (very possibly with some sort of hot chocolate beverage in hand).

But once we're all settled in there (and I've had a bit to catch my breath), I very much want to plan a trip to Iceland. I've never been, and it's at the very top of my 'I really need to see that' list!

Charlie – I hope your move goes well and nothing, especially your yarnie stuff, goes missing!

Hunter - Hah!  Does it make me crazy that all the trunk show samples and all the pieces for next year's book that I have already are going with me in a suitcase in the car?  I mean I can buy new pots and pans or lamps if one of those boxes goes missing...but the knitting is irreplaceable!

Charlie - Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me in the middle of this crazy time in your life. I love your new book and can't wait to dig in deeper. 

You can find Hunter's new book on Ravelry and Amazon.

You can keep up on all things Hunter Hammersen on Ravelry and on her website

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