Yarn Cakes and Tea: Moeke Yarns

I'm really excited about the yarn that I'm reviewing in this post: Moeke Yarns. When I first heard about this yarn on the Woolful podcast, I was intrigued and fascinated by Ioana's story (which you can read more about here) and could relate to her desire to contribute to preserving her cultural heritage of Romania. Since then, I have been following her work on social media and was thrilled when she followed me a few months back. Imagine my excitement when she reached out to me for a collaboration! I had been wanting to try her yarns for a while and I was extremely honored when she asked me to design for her new yarn line, Transylvanian Merino. 

First Impressions

 Transylvanian Merino undyed hank

Transylvanian Merino undyed hank

Transylvanian Merino is 100% Romanian Merino, fingering weight yarn at approximately 350 meters per skein. I really appreciate that Ioana shares the story behind the production of creating this line, along with the struggles and victories. And I believe that it was well worth it, because I absolutely love this yarn. However, I will put this disclaimer up front: if you're the type who likes working with mass produced yarns (absolutely nothing wrong with that) or something that is not so niche, then you may not enjoy working with this yarn, because this yarn is truly unique but its unique properties may not work for some. Now that is out of the way, let's continue!

Ioana sent me two color ways of her yarn, her natural undyed yarn and her coral and beige variegated yarn. I always like to mention the squishiness and softness of the hanks whenever I first get them, but when I touched the yarns for the first time, I didn't get that. Instead, they are incredibly rustic and "feel" like nature. I love working with soft yarns so I was really surprised that I was drawn to the organic texture of the yarn.

Quick Knit

 Transylvanian Merino undyed in a cake

Transylvanian Merino undyed in a cake

Knitting in this yarn taught me a valuable lesson: don't judge the knitting experience from the first interactions with the yarn (holding it, touching it for softness and squishiness). I say this because I LOVED knitting with this yarn. I'm still trying to figure out why I loved it so much though. It doesn't slide off the needles as easily as some of the other yarns I've worked with, I had to be really careful with the strands because they break easily, and I had to be aware of the type of stitches I was using for my design as high abrasion projects are not suited for this yarn. 

While knitting, I could almost feel the process that this yarn went through to get into my hands: from the sheep to cleaning, to dyeing, to spinning, then to me. The oils in the yarn added an interesting texture against my hands and needles and it sometimes put me into a meditative state. I often get impatient knitting 300+ stitches, but I was never bored while knitting with this yarn. Is it because each stitch was different from the rest? 

Post-Block

 Shawl in Coral and Beige Variegated Yarn

Shawl in Coral and Beige Variegated Yarn

I was really nervous about blocking my shawl design due to concerns that I would accidently break the yarn and all my work would be for nothing! Thankfully that didn't happen, but I didn't block the shawl aggressively (not that I needed to as it was a solid stitch pattern). The final result doesn't have much drape but excellent memory. Ioana has advised to working the yarn small needles to get a dense fabric in order to prevent tears in the yarn and to strengthen it. As I said before, this yarn gives off an incredible rustic and organic vibe, so I purposely chose to design something that wold compliment that feeling: staying away from the lace stitches that I am often inclined to do and went for more textured stitches. 

Final Words

To be honest, I knew that I was going to enjoy working with this yarn, but I was surprised by how much I loved working with it.  Despite having to exercise caution so that I wouldn't be constantly breaking the yarn, I don't think I've ever had a more memorable experience. I really connected to the story behind the yarn and Ioana's mission*, loved the rustic and organic feel of the yarn and very much enjoyed the knitting experience. This is an incredibly unique yarn and a niche one at that, so that is not your thing, stay away. However if the words rustic, organic, farm-life, slow living and preservation of one's cultural heritage resonates with you, you don't want to miss out on this truly wonderful yarn.

*This is a great study for branding, and Ioana gets massive points for achieving one of the most important points when it comes to running a small business: telling a story that connects to her audience. Hmmm. Maybe I should write up a post on this in the future...).

Have you worked with Moeke Yarns before? What were your impressions? Stay tuned for the beta release of my design in this yarn and for the chance to win two skeins of this delicious yarn!

Yarn Cakes and Tea Episode 7: Circus Tonic Handmade Revelry

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Circus Tonic Handmade was founded by Hannah Ginn, based in Sydney, Australia (she gets extra points for being from my birth place!). She recently started her hand-dying business while on break from scientific employment and is already seeing some great growth and interest in the knitting community. 

Hannah is quite a lovely soul to interact with and has a "go-getter" spirit, which I personally really like to see in a small biz entrepreneur. She contacted me with the idea of doing a collaboration together and I was really interested to see what fiber artists from Australia could bring to the table so I agreed. 

She sent me a ton of yarn, in addition to a special color way that she hand-dyed for me. It is such a great honor to receive a skein of yarn that was especially hand-dyed for me (and she gave me four skeins!) and it is not an honor that I take lightly. The yarn color way is called Southern Fulmar, which is a seabird. Hannah names her colors ways after Australian native birds and the natural environment and it gives me a nostalgic longing for my birth place.

The yarn base that Southern Fulmar was dyed up in is her Revelry Sock Fingering line, 80% Australian Merino and 20% Nylon superwash yarn, with 409 generous yards per skein. The skeins are super squishy and soft to the touch. 

QUICK KNIT

I am not a sock knitter, as I have yet to knit my first pair of socks, so I was immediately drawn to designing and knitting a lace shawl with this yarn. It was such a pleasure working with this yarn: it's soft on the fingers, the yarn doesn't pill, it works easily on metal needles and it was very elastic and springy. It is not cat proof however, as in the minute I left my knitting unattended, I returned to find that my cat had chewed through the yarn and I had to re-attach it. Ok, so that's not a fault of the yarn as all yarn is chewable, but beware, cats may love this yarn too much. 

The yarn does split a bit, which can get a little annoying when you are working lace, but as a whole, the yarn held itself well and is strong and durable. The yarn went through lots of stress and work when I was using my really long cable needle cord, which unfortunately is slightly faulty as some parts of the cord are rough and catch the yarn. Why I thought it was a good idea to use that, I don't know, but the yarn held up and didn't fuzz, despite all the friction that it went through.

POST-BLOCK

 I managed to knit my hair in there too.

I managed to knit my hair in there too.

This yarn can stretch a long way and can hold up to aggressively blocking nicely. It holds its shape well and the lace pattern flourished. The shawl has nice balance of memory and drape so it falls over the shoulders elegantly while still retaining the lace patterning and picots at the edges. It's warm, soft, cozy and HUGE! I used up an entire full skein and commenced into a second skein (about 20 yards of it) and then decided that it was going to be plenty big enough. And also working rows of 300+ stitches is not my thing (I get lazy sometimes and if I'm thinking that I'm getting tired, then knitters will probably think the same). 

The yarn has good amounts of bounce, which is really important in a sock yarn. Bounce allows a fitted item to stretch comfortably but still "bounce" back to its original shape and size when relaxed. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Do note that this is a nylon blend as well as superwash, so if you're the super organic, natural type, then this is not for you. However, if that doesn't bother you at all, this is a great versitle yarn, good for socks, shawls and other fitted accessories and even garments that favor flattering fits. A joy to work with, easy to take care of, fun to wear with a touch of Australian culture. I'm really glad to see such quality work coming from Australia, as importing yarn can be expensive and hard to get to. If you're located within Australia or New Zealand, I highly recommend giving this yarn a go. If you're international, take note of the shipping fees but if it ever pops up in your LYS, give it a squish (Hannah is currently only selling this in her Etsy shop, last time I checked)!  

Australian and New Zealand knitters rejoice! 

Yarn Cakes and Tea Episode 6: The Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze

Written review is below!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze is run by, you guessed it, Rhichard Devrieze. His love for yarn runs through his blood, as his grandfather was a fibre artist in The Netherlands. I was introduced to Rhichard's work when I was working on a design for the holiday Yarnbox package, Textural Symphony, however, I won't be reviewing the yarn I used for that in this episode (ok, here's the quick run down: it's amazingly bouncy, lovely to knit with, soft and warm, but use the variegated colorways for simpler stitches to really let the yarn shine!). 

Today I will instead be reviewing some yarn that he sent to me as a present: his fingering-weight line, Peppino. This gift really demonstrates one of his brand's three values right off the bat: affability (friendliness). He gave me this yarn because he learned that I love working with fingering weight yarn and generously offering me some to play with (and I certainly did!). 

QUICK KNIT

Peppino is a fingering, 100% Merino yarn with 225 yards / 65 grams per skein. The color-way that he sent me is wonderfully named "Visions of Paradise", a stippled color-way set on a grey-ish background with many specks of bright colors. Truly a delight to behold.

I knit up both a guage swatch and an upcoming design in this yarn. Peppino isn't the softest nor the most elastic yarn I've worked with, but it works quickly on metal needles. Sometimes a bit too quickly and paired up with my tighter gauge, the stitches would slide off the needle and unravel themselves down a few rows (but that's not a fault of the yarn, but of my own knitting abilities, so if you're a fast knitter be sure that your needle gets in the stitch correctly!). 

However, the colorway was really wonderful to look at and seeing how all the different colors would come together to create a cohesive piece was a delight. The yarn is 2ply and has a great twist, so it pairs up nicely with textured stitches, and the stippled color-way also adds to making the simpler stitches shine. I would avoid using complicated and busy lace and cable patterns with the variegated and stippled colorways as the yarn and stitches would muddle together, but there are some lovely semi-solid bases in Peppino if you are the type for intricate stitches.

POST-BLOCK

The stockinette swatch didn't reveal anything more than the colorway is really freaking cool. I really loved how the stitch bloomed open when I was blocking my shawl design that used this yarn. I kept the stitch pattern relatively simple choosing a scale like patterning and with this particular stippled color-way, made the shawl look like snake skin (resulting in picking a name for the design rather quickly!).

 Sneak peaky.

Sneak peaky.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you love working with eccentric color-ways over intricate stitches, leaving the yarn to make a bold statement, Rhichard Devrieze's large selection of variegated and stippled yarns will be sure to please you greatly. I certainly enjoyed working outside my comfort zone in regards to the design I made for this yarn. It's not my usual style, but it's certainly fun!

Rhicard Devrieze's yarn can be found in many LYS across the United States and is more affordable than most hand-dyed yarn brands I know! With the holiday season coming up, I certainly think this would knit up into a very nice gift for a loved one (or yourself!).


I have one skein of Peppino's Vision of Paradise leftover, so I'm going to do a giveaway for this post! To enter, just follow the instructions in the Raffle-copter below! Contest ends November 30th.


Yarn Cakes and Tea - Episode 5: We Are Knitters Review

Written review below!

This week is all about chunky knits!

I was contacted by one of the relations managers for this Spanish brand a few weeks ago for a kit collaboration - I receive one of their kits in exchange for a review and exposure on my social media accounts. I had been following this company ever since I learnt how to knit so I was pretty excited to for this chance to try out of one of their kits. I chose to work the Nympheas Snood, in the colors Pearl Grey and Deep Turquoise. Because I live in Japan, however, they had to send the package to my parents who live in the States, who in turn shipped it to me. So take note of what countries they ship to.

First Impressions

We Are Knitters specializes in chunky weight yarns. Yarns of this weight in general get a bad reputation for being scratchy and uncomfortable, but here they did a very good job of developing a yarn base that provides warmth and comfort. The yarn is 100% Peruvian highland wool and is a single ply / roving strand. The colors I choose did not disappoint, especially Deep Turquoise. I really liked the packaging: the kit comes in a nice and sturdy paper bag, that doubles as great project storage when you are not working on it and everything is packaged and presented very nicely. I was definitely amused by the size of the needles (size 19!).

Quick Knit

Instead of knitting up the usual swatch, I went ahead and worked on the project. The yarn itself was nice to work with, but because of the nature of single ply / roving yarns, there was some splitting and lots of piling. That said, it was fun working with chunky yarn and I finished the project in a few hours.

What was not as fun was working with the needles. The kit comes with the yarn, pattern, darning needle and straight needles. As to why one would use straight needles on a fair isle cowl project is beyond me. I checked on the website and they have not yet developed a line of circular needles. I know circular needles exist in this size... so maybe circular needles are in development? I can only hope, because trying to fit 56 stitches on one needle is cumbersome, heavy and makes it very difficult to make sure the floats are tensioned correctly.

Also working fair-isle flat makes for some really unsightly edges: and even though that can be somewhat corrected by seaming them in the end, this can all be avoided by using circulars. Circulars can help ensure proper float tension, very little finishing (no seaming is a huge plus!), not having to work purl stitches, and makes the project much easier to manage.

Circular needles are becoming the more popular needle of choice among younger knitters, and since We Are Knitters seems to appeal to the younger crowd, it could be in their best interest to develop circular needles, especially since they have kits that are above the "beginner knitter" level. 

However, I will say that the needles are of good quality. The yarn slides off easily and the tips are pointy. I just wouldn't pair up straight needles for a circular project.

As for the pattern itself, it was a little hard to follow at times. It's only charted and the contrast stitches are colored in black on a white and black grid, so it was sometimes difficult to count the amount of stitches for each color. But with a little bit of time and notes, the pattern was knit up easily enough. I will note that the chart is a little small so if you have poor eyes (like me), you may need to study the chart well beforehand or find some way to magnify it.

Also, the color work in my final sample differs a bit from the color work in the sample on the website (the contrast color is worked until the end, instead of the background color). After taking a look at the pattern again, the difference in color-work is shown in the seaming instructions, but not in the actual chart itself, which was pretty confusing. There were also a few mistakes on the chart where there were a few extra stitches in the contrast color where it should have been the background color, but that was easy to correct.

Post-Block

When I bound off my project, the stitches were puckering ridiculously, as it was very difficult to check float tension while knitting. Thankfully this was fixed when it was blocked. The stitch definition is absolutely amazing; I love how the yarn blocked out. I will note that the yarn is not that very strong or durable on its own. When seaming up the ends, I had to go back a few times to correct some mistakes and the yarn broke apart! Seaming is not new to me, but for those who are new to the technique may find themselves getting more than a little frustrated. Hence, another reason why working with circulars is a good idea.

However, when I wove in the ends and cut the excess yarn and put it in, I immediately fell in love with the snood. It's so warm, so comfortable and just so cozy! This will be one of my go to pieces this winter. It's stylish and chic and can be worn with many items in my wardrobe.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

While the pattern was a little hard to follow at times, the straight needles made the knitting process awkward and frustrating, and the yarn piled, split and broke easily after only a few re-works, I absolutely LOVE the final results. And I really do like the yarn: it's soft, it knits up fast and the only reason I re-worked it so much was because of the needles. 

Their kits, in general, are pretty pricey, but if you are looking for a fun present to give or wanting to treat yourself, I really think they make an excellent gift! I would suggest investing in some chunky sized circular needles elsewhere, though, even for projects knit flat. They can really make the project much more enjoyable to work on. Thankfully you can choose to opt out of the needles when purchasing kits, so use that extra money to get yourself some circulars somewhere else (or until they develop their own line). 

So all-in-all, the only real problem was the needles. The packaging and branding are well presented, the yarn is soft and warm with excellent stitch definition and the results are fantastic. It works really well for cable and colorwork projects (as you can see here). Just skip out on the needles.

Aroha Knits Recommendation: Yes! If you want a quick knit that gives fabulous results, give their yarn a go!


We Are Knitters have given me a special discount code that you can use for your next purchase on their products. Use the code arohaknitsxwak to receive a 15% discount, and if you sign up for their newsletter, you can get an extra discount on top of that! So don't wait any longer, click the link below to purchase a We Are Knitters kit!

Yarn Cakes and Tea Episode 4: Frida Fuchs Fibers

Watch the video review below!

About the Creators

Frida Fuchs was founded by the two creative and talented sisters, Jana and Julia.

Jana, the older of the duo, currently lives in Switzerland and is in charge of hand-dying the yarns. Her surroundings have definitely influenced her and ensures that the yarn has its own flair. She commutes between Zurich and Berlin. These two beautiful cities have been the inspiration for much of the colour choices at Frida Fuchs. When she is not chasing after her young daughter, she looks dreamily at the world around her, always in search of great colour inspiration.

Julia manages the distribution side of things from Berlin and is the creative mind behind the wonderfully descriptive names of the yarns. She recently started her studies as a remedial teacher and has used her love for knitting during her training to crochet toys for the kids. Wool is one of her favourite materials which explains why she is always knitting when not engaged in other activities. 

First Impressions

When I received the package from Frida Fuchs, I was not expecting the packaging to be anything special. But no, I was pleasantly surprised to see the yarn was packaged with care in nice tissue paper. Included with the yarns was a lovely letter and a sticker, all carrying the Frida Fuchs logo. The branding is well done, it's certainly eye-catching and memorable: the watercolor splashes really reflects their love and usage of bright, rich and vibrant dyes for their color ways. As a side note, when learning more about their brand, I took a look at their website and Instagram pages, which were both presented well and I love their photography of their yarn. 

As for the yarn itself, I received two hanks of their Hosenmatz 4Ply base, a 100% SW merino yarn with 400 meters per hank.

  Colorway: Blaumohn

Colorway: Blaumohn

According to Julia: "Blaumohn means poppy seeds in english. The color is a combination of black and navy blue. It reflects the two colors of the seeds of the corn poppy." I think this is a gorgeous deep blue. The black blends in very nicely with the navy blue, resulting in a nice tonal color way.

  Color way: Etna

Color way: Etna

"Etna is the name of an Australian pumpkin that is light blue. The color is a combination of light grey and light blue. The dye method reflects the shiny surface of the blue pumpkin." After taking a look at these blue pumpkins, the color way certainly does resemble it! 

 Blue Pumpkins! Who knew? Image from www.beetreestudio.com

Blue Pumpkins! Who knew? Image from www.beetreestudio.com

I really love this color way. It's soft on the eyes, and I love the subtle tonal shifts.

The 4ply twist in the yarn gives the hanks a very study and robust feel. While it isn't the softest yarn I've ever felt (I think I've been spoiled by merino and cashmere blends), it seems to make for a good all around yarn for a variety of projects: lace, textured, even cables, and the tonal shifts in the color way can also add nice depth to simple stockinette or garter stitch projects. 

Quick Knit

Using the Etna color way, I swatched the yarn using the same stitch pattern I plan on using this yarn for: a simple one-skein wonder project with a lace border.

You can see the plys twisted up nice and tightly.

I will say that working with the yarn was a little rough on the fingers and even on my metal needles it clung and squeaked a little. There was some splitting in the yarn as I was working the lace patterning. On the upside, there was no fuzzing, no breaks in the piles or the yarn. I wouldn't count the roughness of the yarn against it too much though (unless you have sensitive skin), as it makes for a very versatile yarn, great for a variety of projects. It's strong and sturdy, so you wouldn't have to worry too much about breaking down fast from constant wear. I could even say that it would take a few washes before the yarn starts showing fuzz. Sometimes too soft of a merino yarn isn't that great as you can lose stitch definition and get massive amounts of fuzz and piling. 

Post Block

The stitches were very well defined and there doesn't seem to be any bias in the fabric. While working the yarn for the swatch proved to be a little rough, on the whole, the fabric is light, non-itchy, soft, bouncy and has nice drape (I knit the swatch on size 5 needles to really let the lace shine through). It also has good memory as I blocked it to the rectangular shape and the lace stitches stay open (although in the actual design itself I will be making the lace edge more pronounced).

Final Thoughts

I didn't find anything special about the yarn base that would really make it stand out from other yarn makers with similar bases, but it does make for a good all around yarn for many knitting projects. It's not the softest yarn but it is study and robust so your projects will last for a long time and will be easy to take care of. It has nice drape for light and airy spring and summer time pieces, while also can be knit up more firmly for a more warmer piece while providing a flattering shape. 

I do think this brand really shines with their color ways, which seems to be the main selling point behind their yarns. Their colors are vivid, attractive and are hand-dyed nicely, which could lend themselves to some really remarkable projects involving color work.

As Frida Fuchs is a newer yarn line, buying their yarn online and having it shipped internationally is the only option of getting your hands on it. That being said, they are looking to expand their reach and dip into the American market. If you are a LYS owner, I would highly recommend taking a look into their yarn bases and color ways and consider adding it to your current offerings of yarns. 

Aroha Knits Stash Recommendation: Yes! The color ways sold me on the yarn immediately. This is also a great opportunity to support international but still local and independent yarn makers.

Yarn Cakes and Tea Episode 3: Julie Asselin Sevilla

Written review below!


This week's episode of Yarn Cakes and Tea lines up perfectly with my newest pattern release, the Kumara Cowl! Julie Asselin had so graciously provided yarn support for this design that you can find in the newest issue of Holla Knits!, her Sevilla yarn base.

Creator Behind the Yarn

Julie Asselin is an independent yarn maker and dyer living in Quebec who creates some of the most stunning color ways I have ever seen. Her yarns have been used by some well known designers such as Alicia Plummer, Thea Colman and Joji Locatelli. I also used her yarn in another one of my designs, the Aura Stole.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I got four skeins of Sevilla in the color ways Ancient Gold and Commodore. Commodore is a lovely deep blue color way, but I was completely blow away by Ancient Gold. When the light hits in the right way, it looks like I'm holding gold in the form of yarn in my hands! (I wonder if gold spun yarn exists...). Both colorways have a nice subtle heathered tone, especially Commodore: the shifts in tones make for excellent definition to your projects.

Sevilla is a 100% SW merino worsted weight yarn, at 115g (4oz) / 185m (200 yards) per skein. Up until this point I had been reviewing merino, cashmere and nylon blends, which I praised for their softness, strength and bounce. Despite Sevilla being only SW merino, I think it holds up really well against the blended counterparts. It has a slight halo and I saw no breaks in the piles - and I used about one and a half skeins of each color way knitting up my sample. Very good quality yarn!

Each skein is priced at $24 and her yarns can be found in many local yarn shops across the globe (I first found her yarn at Yarnaholic, an online yarn shop based in Tokyo!). You won't have any trouble getting your hands on her yarns.

QUICK KNIT

I knit the swatch using the Kumara cowl motif and it proved to be a quick and enjoyable knit, just like knitting up the sample for the Holla Knits! magazine. Any funky looking stitches in the swatch are my faults as knitting fair isle flat still is tricky for me. No splitting in the yarn, no piling or fuzzing and it knits nicely and smoothly on both metal and wooden needles. Working these two particular color ways together also lent itself to some really remarkable results - whatever color is the main accent of the motif, the background color really helps to let it shine.

This is also a very sturdy yarn, yanking it and pulling it doesn't seem to hurt it at all.

POST-BLOCK

Blocking the swatch and samples showed no major issues in color bleeding. The yarn held the dye well so there was no color bleeding in the water nor in the knitted objects. The stitches are very well defined, textured stitches (such as the garter stitch) pop out, the color work motifs are nice and clear. There is a slight halo to the fabric which gives it a nice soft fuzz. 

I will say that any irregularities and errors in the knitted project will not be as blended as well as other fibers - however I can't say if its due to the yarn weight or to the SW yarn. Regardless, make sure to fix any mistakes or funky looking stitches you see! 

The Kumara cowl knit sample has very warm and cozy to wear. It's soft, non-itchy and keeps in the heat well - if I didn't have to send it off for the publication, I would definitely be wearing it right now! 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pricing could be an issue for some, and the fibers don't bloom as much as others, so you will have to pay attention to your work. However, Sevilla is a very good choice for a SW merino yarn. Excellent stitch definition, lovely color ways, quick and easy to work with, absolutely no complaints with the finished objects. It's easy to find and you won't have a problem getting your hands on the yarn. If you're extra lucky, your LYS may even have this yarn in stock for you to touch and play with yourself.

Aroha Knits Seal of Recommendation: Yes! You will want this yarn in your stash! Get it!!