fall/winter 2017/18 yarn review

I had the pleasure to review three new yarns from Rowan this past month. They are a much welcomed addition to the Rowan Yarns core collection; two tweeds and an upscale, everyday dk weight yarn. First up are much beloved by Rowan and its devotees, the tweeds, Valley Tweed and Cashmere Tweed. I was happy to see these two much needed yarns to help fill out their tweed landscape.

Valley Tweed (pictured above and below) is a 100% UK wool spun in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, the home of Rowan. Valley Tweed is a sport weight yarn and knits at 24 st per 4 in on a size US3 (3.23mm) needle.  The fabric is very lightweight and feels more like a fingering weight, but the beautiful bloom of the yarn fills the fabric and it indeed has a sport weight gauge.  The tweed fabric is very fine and well blended and gives a light-handed tweedy look. It doesn't smack you in the face with an overpowering tweediness--its tweedy features are quiet and subtle. And beautiful. So beautiful. The yarn is springy and very easy to knit.  The fabric once knitted, is very soft, much softer than you think it would be when you feel it in the skein. It is next-to-the-skin soft, yet very strong; the yarn is very difficult to break. The put up is 226 yd in 50 gr and is very well priced. The color selection is limited with 10 shades, but I imagine that will grow as this yarn gains in popularity. While I love this at gauge, I think Valley Tweed would be great in one of those shawl patterns that uses bigger needles to create an airy fabric. The natural bloom would make it shine. Also, I imagine any pattern that uses Rowan Felted Tweed DK would be interchangeable with VT, but the garment will be MUCH softer in VT. Vally Tweed is hand-washable and gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from this knitter. It's gorgeous and if I had to choose my favorite of the three I'm reviewing today, this would be it.  I adore subtle tweeds and this is a winner.  

The next tweed is Cashmere Tweed, (pictured above) a luxurious blend of extra fine merino and cashmere.  The put up is 96 yd to 25 gr and knits to 22 st per 4 in with a size US 6 (4mm) needle. I knit this on a size 6 needles and got 20 st per 4 in and liked the look of it very much.  I changed my needles to a 5 and was able to get gauge at 22 per 4 in.  I could see this yarn working well for either gauge and would be a matter of preference. It is also a very strong yarn--you'll have to give it quite a good tug to break it. It knits easily with good spring and bounce. The fabric is classic tweed--a bit oatmealy in texture, with the slightly uneven stitches that we love in tweeds. It is extremely soft and has a lofty, aerated feel to me.  It's lovely and would make a beautiful lightweight garment that would be snug and cozy. Because it is so lightweight, it would be great in garter stitch or cables or any stitch that you think might weigh down an ordinary yarn. Cashmere Tweed has a limited selection of 8 colors, all pretty, and like Valley Tweed above, I assume the color choices will grow as the yarn becomes more popular.  It is also hand wash, and I give it another enthusiastic thumbs up.

Next is Alpaca Soft DK, (pictured above) a much needed addition to Rowan's core collection. Alpaca Soft is an elegant and well-balanced uber-soft blend of 70% wool and 30% alpaca.  It has a wonderful feel in the hand, bouncy and well-behaved, and creates a fine fabric with even stitches.  The fabric, with the addition of alpaca, is very pliable, but the merino majority gives it much needed structure and stability which makes this yarn a stand-out.  Softness and stability-it's a team that's hard to beat. It really is a very well-balanced blend, I just don't know how to describe it any better.  This would work well for any garment that calls for a dk weight, but it is hand-wash so probably not best for children's wear. The stockinette fabric is pretty enough on it's own, but I imagine cables would positively glow in this yarn. The put-up is 137 yd in 50 gr and is available in an adequate selection of 16 very pretty colors--a good mix of neutrals and brights. It's lovely, and you guessed it, Alpaca Soft DK gets another thumbs up from this knitter!

Information links:

Alpaca Soft DK

All three yarns should be available at your favorite Rowan stockist and all three have supporting pattern books available as well. However, as they are sport and dk weight yarns, there are literally hundreds/thousands of patterns out there that would work for these lovely yarns.  I can't wait to see what knitters come up with.  As for me, you know I like my sweaters plain and simple and want the fabric and the fit to take center stage, so my first project will likely be this pretty v-neck in Valley Tweed. I just don't know what could be prettier!

Dearne by Lisa Richardson.
Although I do like this one too!  Wold, also by Lisa Richardson.

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orange is the new white

I have to share this pretty table with you! My girlfriend Norma designed this table setting for a dinner party for 12 to celebrate her husband's birthday--and also to celebrate her brother and sister-in-law visiting from Australia. It was a feast for the eyes with leopard print placemats, orange chargers, pink and yellow napkins, and tiny teal bud vases.  It was also a feast for the tummy.  During the cocktail hour we nibbled on tiny crab cakes, then sat at the table for a first course of caprese salad. The entree was citrus chicken and summer squash.  All the vegetables were from their own vegetable garden. Dessert was strawberries and cream.  I love it when the table is every bit as delicious as the food served on it!

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Rowan Magazine 62

Rowan's official fall/winter launch date is today.  You'll start seeing the Magazine 62 in your local knitting shops any day now.  I know many of you are Rowan magazine collectors and this one does not disappoint. Rowan is right on trend with an abundance of long, loopy, oversized cables in chunky yarns.  There are some light-handed colorwork pieces--you'll see it mostly in two, sometimes three colors.  I counted seven gorgeous over-sized coats and I know I'll have to make at least one. The sweaters are a mix of fitted and oversized. You'll also see a mix of DK, worsted, chunky, and bulky weights--something for everyone.  Here are a few of my favorites:

To see yarn details, etc, see all of the patterns on Ravelry.

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Rowan is adding three new yarns to their core collection:  Cashmere Tweed, a dk weight, Valley Tweed, a sport weight, and Alpaca Soft DK.  I'm knitting up swatches and watching them bloom in a warm bath.  Stayed tuned for my review coming soon!



Hello friends.  Last night we had a Mexican Fiesta for the monthly gathering of our Second Friday Party Group, AKA, Best Friday of the Month.  I love summer parties and only sorry that we weren't able to have a few more this summer!  Ahh, but one party is better than none party!  As usual, summer has had us going in a dozen different directions, and if I didn't already know that we have to keep our parties simple, this party HAD to be kept simple--I had no choice.  Because of an out of town trip and then arriving home to houseguests, I only had 48 hours to get my house party-ready and prepare the food. Friends, I went into hyperspeed! Now that the party is over and the house is cleaned up, I've got my feet up with a day of knitting calling sweetly to me.

The menu was a huge success.  This monthly gathering is a potluck with each guest (we are 19) bringing a dish to share and a bottle of wine.  We take turns with hostess duties.  When it's at your house you choose the theme and make the main dishes.  I made the chicken tinga mixture and enchiladas in the morning and reheated them right before serving. I kept the bar simple with wine, beer, and sparkling water.  Dinner is served buffet style. You may have noticed that for dessert I almost always serve cookies at my parties. Here's why: at the end of the evening and your'e a bit tired, it's nice to announce, "The cookie buffet is open--come help yourself!"  No forks, no plates, no serving, easy peasy.


Salsa and Guacamole and Chips
Tiny Stuffed Peppers

Fresh Corn and Arugula Salad
Spicy Green Salad

The drinks table has an arrangement of dahlias and Queen Red Lime Zinnias.
Each Queen Lime Heart Zinnia flower is different.  I love the more greeny ones with just a dusting of pink.  The white blossom at the top of the page is a magnolia from our ancient tree.  It smells like a lemon cake right out of the oven. Heaven.

For easy-care, all-weather (and inexpensive) outdoor art, I laminated wrapping paper maps.  The table arrangements were a mix of sedum and end-of-summer dusty rose-colored hydrangeas.  They'll soon be ready for drying.

I pass out shawls towards the end of the evening when the weather gets chilly.

We have room to seat 12 at tables and the rest find comfy spots on the other patios.  It works.

We put up the lighting last year and are so happy with it.

Before I go, here are a few more pics of the Queen Red Lime Zinnias.  This is my first year planting these, and I was on the fence on whether or not I like them. But over the summer, as they have unfurled, I'm amazed at their diversity and I've fallen in love with every petal. 

Have a great weekend!
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