Meet the Yarn: Katara

Autumn is in the air, at least where I live in New York. Mornings now have the beginnings of a crisp touch and my thoughts have returned to serious knitting and crochet. I made all the swatches for this Meet the Yarn post back in June. The summer heat made it difficult to shift my brain to a delicious blend of Superwash Merino and Yak. I'm so happy it's time for cooler temps and cozier yarns.

Katara end showing three plies

Katara end showing three plies

Katara is a round, soft, and squishy yarn. This 3-ply DK weight yarn consists of 50% brown yak fiber and 50% superwash merino. Each 50g skein is 98 yards (89 m). The brown yak takes the dye of Anzula's many colors darker than their other yarns. In my opinion it helps make it even warmer and more special!

This round yarn loves to be knit and crochet.

I thought about writing a post that just said "squish. smoosh. sprong." For several hundred repetitions. It appropriately describes this yarn, what more do you need to send you to your local yarn shop in search of a skein (or three)? It is squishy (but not the yarn Squishy). It has smoosh that is apparent in the simple knitted stitches of stockinette and garter stitch and for simple crochet cables. It also works for lace and cables and texture. This is a yarn with character, thanks to the yak fibers.

What is special about yak fibers? Their coats are multilayered and can range from soft down to coarse outer coat. Depending on how it's spun and which part of the fiber of the coat is used, it can create a sleek, dense yarn or a fluffier, downy yarn. Blending with Superwash Merino and finding the right magic formula for spinning is what makes Katara so special. (Do you want to learn more about Yak and other fibers? I recommend The Fleece & FIber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius. Storey Publishing, 2011.)

My crochet swatches were made during an industry trade show this past June. They prove that I can't talk and count at the same time -- some of the swatches are incredibly small ! It's ok. They work for what I call "fun" exploratory swatches as I get to know a yarn. Not every conversation needs to be a 6 inch (15 cm) square swatch!

Because Katara is so round and smooshy, I find it difficult to believe it is a DK weight. While it performs well at DK gauges, the loftiness definitely allows for larger gauges. The warmth provided by the yak fibers (along with the darker take of the dye) is probably why I wasn't ready to be excited about these swatches when the thermometer soared. It’s so wonderful that changing seasons can totally change your outlook.

Now? I've been carting them around as I edit this post. I would love a shawl crocheted in this yarn, in any stitch. I think it is a yarn suited for a range of special accessories, from shawls to hats, cowls and mitts. This yarn works with the simple stitches and the complex. I believe the lace stitch combined with Katara means business -- creating a fabric that is delicate yet warm without being extremely heavy and overbearing. Great for during a seasonal transition such as humid summer into breathable autumn.

Pattern Ideas

Acatalepsy by Heather Zoppetti · Iliamna by Jen Lucas · Sokolata by Hilary Smith Callis · Katara shown in Petunia

Acatalepsy by Heather Zoppetti · Iliamna by Jen Lucas · Sokolata by Hilary Smith Callis · Katara shown in Petunia

Crocheters, now’s your chance to create a design specific for Katara! You can send a Yarn Support Request to Anzula here.

—Charlie interrupting this post to let designers know that we are accepting requests for crochet, knitting, and weaving in a variety of bases. Email me your ideas! I love all of you!—

All swatches in this post are shown in the Boysenberry colourway with 4mm needles and hooks, any perceived differences in shade are due to the photographer.

Pile of Katara swatches

Pile of Katara swatches


Penny Shima Glanz spends her days spinning yarn and code into memorable projects. Small businesses rely on her for smart technology decisions. Designers rely on her to sample, test, and edit their hand-knit and crochet patterns. She loves muddy trail runs, fosters kittens, and lives in Westchester, NY with her husband and cat. www.pennyshima.com

Meet the Yarn: Ava

It's delightful to write about a lovely yarn in a very happy colourway as a contrast to the frigid weather outside. What yarn is that?

It's one with perfect twist, bounce, drape, and most importantly smoosh. I want to do more than introduce you to my favourite sport weight yarn, I want you to meet and get to know Ava. Let's get swatching.

Ava Au Natural in all of it’s pure, creamy, bouncy perfection.

Ava Au Natural in all of it’s pure, creamy, bouncy perfection.

Before we get to the fun stuff, let's get some numbers out of the way. Ava is 330 yards of the same 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon blend you know and love in Cloud, Squishy, Cricket, and For Better or Worsted. What makes it different? It's a sport weight. Ok, I hear you say, Squishy is fingering weight and Cricket is DK. Do we need this sport weight?

Yes.

Let me show you why.

Ava knitted swatches

Ava knitted swatches

Look at these knitted swatches. I'm sorry that technology is what it is and you can't feel them. The round yarn sings and begs to be worked.

As I spent quite a bit of time squishing my garter stitch swatch, I knew it would work well for crochet.

But before I show you my standard swatch views, I want to show you something else. On the left is the knitted garter stitch swatch. On the right is the single crochet. Look at the smoosh!

Ava swatches. Garter Stitch on the left, Single Crochet on the right.

Ava swatches. Garter Stitch on the left, Single Crochet on the right.

Look at that height! The nice thing about crocheting a sport weight -- there isn't heavy bulk.

Ok, let's look at the basic stitches in Ava, single crochet, half double, and double crochet. Isn't it stunning?

Look at that stitch definition!

Ava crochet swatches in single crochet (front), half double crochet (middle), and double crochet (back).

Ava crochet swatches in single crochet (front), half double crochet (middle), and double crochet (back).

Stitches sing in this yarn. Choose your favourite music. It works in everything I tried!

Ava crochet swatch, granny square

Ava crochet swatch, granny square

Based on this granny square, don't you want to treat the granny square crocheter in your life to an upgrade to a cashmere blend? With so many colors to choose, I'm sure you'll find one for them.

Want to be more adventurous with your stitches?

Look at Ava in a simple lace. Stunning. It's not bulky. Add a little picot to that stitch and it'll take a star role.

Ava crochet swatch in lace stitch

Ava crochet swatch in lace stitch

Want texture? I'm out of adjectives. Sorry. I really wish you could touch this. It's squooshy.

Ava crochet swatch in a textured stitch.

Ava crochet swatch in a textured stitch.

I think Ava is a great yarn for crocheters who want something a bit heavier than Squishy but don't want their fabric to be bulky.

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I want to take one more moment to wax poetic about this beautiful colourway. I love it against the endless grey that is winter. This colourway feels as if Opal asked if was ok to turn up the bright dial to max and Sabrina said yes. I've surprised myself by loving this colour. I don't think I'd wear it in anything I'd make as the primary colour, but it would love to be an accent/highlight.

_All swatches are in the Misfit colourway with 3.75mm needles and hooks, any perceived differences in shade are due to the photographer._

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Penny Shima Glanz spends her days spinning yarn and code into memorable projects. Small businesses rely on her for smart technology decisions. Designers rely on her to sample, test, and edit their hand-knit and crochet patterns. She loves muddy trail runs, fosters kittens, and lives in Westchester, NY with her husband and cat. www.pennyshima.com

Meet the Yarn: Dreamy

What happens when you create a fingering weight yarn that combines Merino with Cashmere and Silk? The result is definitely Dreamy! I loved working with it so much I made a few extra swatches! My experience with Dreamy was extra special as I was able to work it up in one of my favourite colourways, Dark Matter! Every speckled skein is unique!

The 3-ply yarn structure creates a very round stitch that looks beautiful knit in stockinette and in garter stitch. I think it can be worked into anything, the pattern ideas show how it knits into stunning lace, textures, cables, and more. The silk and cashmere beg to be worn! When knit into garter stitch, the combination of fibers does something superb to it that I can't find the words to adequately describe.

Dreamy swatches, knitted garter stitch and stockinette

Dreamy swatches, knitted garter stitch and stockinette

Dreamy swatches, granny squares

Dreamy swatches, granny squares

My granny square swatches show what happens when I don't take notes! I crocheted the first granny square (the one that is 4 rounds) with a 3.75mm hook, the other (5 rounds) with a 3mm hook. Ok, 0.75mm does that make a difference? Yes! It is apparent that both squares are almost the same size! What hook should you use? It depends on what you're crocheting, granny square or otherwise.

The stitch definition on the simple stitch squares shows how wonderful this 3-ply is for crochet. I haven't figured out how to photograph it, please believe me that the swatches have beautiful drape. The stitches are defined yet graceful.

Dreamy swatches, simple crochet stitches

Dreamy swatches, simple crochet stitches

The windchill is fierce as I write these words, so I'm struggling to say much about my lace swatch. I've been abusing it as it's sat on my desk waiting for me to finish this review. It still looks as good as the day I blocked it. Maybe I'll wait and rereview all the lace swatches when it's warmer outside.

Dreamy swatch, crochet lace

Dreamy swatch, crochet lace

The swatch I love best, is the textured swatch. I spent all my time oohing and aahing over it instead of mining the thesarus for new words to use to describe why. Look at the colours and the stitch definition!

Dreamy swatch, crochet texture

Dreamy swatch, crochet texture

What can you crochet with Dreamy? Whatever you wish ! This is a versatile yarn for crocheters. The fingering weight can work up quickly without adding too much bulk. The blend combines the different fibers special qualities without overpowering any one element. This is a yarn that I now dream about!

Dreamy in Aqua

Dreamy in Aqua

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Dreamy

75% Superwash Merino, 15% Cashmere, 10% Silk

+/- 385 yd / 352 m

7.5 sts / in US #2

All swatches are in the Dark Matter colourway , any perceived differences in shade are due to the photographer (Penny).


Penny Shima Glanz spends her days spinning yarn and code into memorable projects. Small businesses rely on her for smart technology decisions. Designers rely on her to sample, test, and edit their hand-knit and crochet patterns. She loves muddy trail runs, fosters kittens, and lives in Westchester, NY with her husband and cat. www.pennyshima.com