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.