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: Dottie

Are you looking to knit with a new and different yarn? Anzula's newest, Dottie is for you!

It is 420 yards of a fingering/sock weight that is a blend of 80% Superwash Merino, 17% Acrylic, and 3% Polyester.

Dottie in Gravity

Dottie in Gravity

What?! Acrylic? Polyester?

Dottie is special, there is a tweedy effect created by the neps of black Acrylic. It creates a very unique fabric, as you'll see in the swatches below.

Dottie swatches

Dottie swatches

I personally find tweedy yarns very difficult to work with as I want to re-spin it into a smooth yarn. As they aren't a yarn I tend to choose on my own, I don't have much experience with them. That made this post much more educational for me than I expected when the yarn first arrived on my doorstep.

Tweed yarns sing best with simple stitches. We'll change things up in this post and I'll begin with crochet before I share the knitting.

My first swatch was a large one worked in single crochet. The structure of crochet traps the tweed neps into each stitch.

Dottie swatch, single crochet swatch

Dottie swatch, single crochet swatch

The effect changes slightly half-double and double crochet. While there is some stitch definition, it's subtle.

Dottie, crochet swatches

Dottie, crochet swatches

So what if you were to work different stitches? What happens with lack of sharp stitch definition?

I personally don't find the effect of combining this tweed yarn with a motif stitch exciting. That could change with a different hook or blocking. I sprayed this lightly with water and finger pulled it to its roughly square shape. This is why swatching is important!

Dottie, granny square swatch

Dottie, granny square swatch

Does it work in a texture stitch? This is the same stitch I've worked for all my other texture swatches. It's ok, however I feel the essence of the texture is lost in the tweed. Does that matter? Maybe, maybe not. If you enjoy this stitch why not work it?

Dottie, texture crochet swatch

Dottie, texture crochet swatch

Ok, lace. I think in a certain design, and at a different gauge and with attention blocking, it could work as an accent (or edging) to a piece worked in a more basic stitch.

Dottie, lace crochet swatch

Dottie, lace crochet swatch

What have I learned from these few humble swatches? That it's very important to swatch. Maybe you’ll love the look in a very different stitch, such as crocheted (post-stitch) cable. Maybe you'll decide that single-crochet is the way to go. This is a very different yarn in Anzula's current line-up and I think you'll be able to have lots of fun with this yarn.

Next up: knitting!

It looks different than when crocheted. There is still stitch definition in the stockinette section and the garter stitch looks very different.

Dottie, knit swatches

Dottie, knit swatches

I'm surprised by how much I want to squish this garter stitch swatch. I find the tweed neps fun in this swatch in a way they weren't in any of my crochet swatches.

Dottie, knit garter stitch swatch

Dottie, knit garter stitch swatch

The same is also true in this stockinette. It's a more subtle effect than in crochet in a way I'm not yet able to articulate.

Dottie, knit stockinette swatch

Dottie, knit stockinette swatch

Dottie is a unique yarn that I think will entice you to swatch (in either knit or crochet -- or both) to find the combination of stitch and gauge that speaks to you.

If you'd like to try Dottie, head to your favorite local yarn store on April 27th for Local Yarn Store Day and pick up a kit for a gorgeous knit shawl by Jen Lucas! It features stockinette and some slipped stitches in a contrast color for a unique look. Crocheters, as each kit includes 420 yards of Dottie and 3 mini skeins of Squishy, why not combine a simple crochet stitch with your favourite scarf or shawl recipe and have some creative fun?

Click this photo to find a list of shops!

Click this photo to find a list of shops!

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

Dottie, yarn ends

Dottie, yarn ends

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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: 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.

Bright-Yarn-Grey-Day.jpg

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._

Ava-Love-feature.jpg

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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