HOW TO KNIT BOBBLES

In this episode I will talk about a fun subject: How to knit bobbles.
If you have never knitted bobbles or bubbles before you will find that it’s not too difficult. I’m using two different colored yarns so that it is easy to see for you.

I hope you liked this episode. As always any comments or questions are more than welcome.

Love,

Bjorn

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THE SECRETS OF HAND DYEING YARN

the-secrets-of-hand-dyeing

As you can see this week there is no video. I suffered an injury on my hand and I cannot knit well at the moment. Therefore I have this written post for you.

We receive a lot of positive feedback from our customers about the colors of our yarns. As with many things in life there are two important things about hand dyeing yarns: education and experience. In today’s blog post I will talk about dyeing different types of fibers and how to care for them.

The first and most important thing you have to consider is if a fiber is coming from an animal or from a plant. Due to the proteins within the fibers they will behave quite differently during the dye process. At SKEINO we work mostly with merino and alpaca yarns on the animal side and with bamboo blends on the plant side. We also use silk blends. They are not made from plants but they behave similarly to the latter. Here is what differences there are between them:

Merino Superwash Yarns

Merino yarns can be treated so that they become ‘superwash’, meaning that the fibers will lose the ability to felt. Finished products that have been knitted with a superwash yarn can be machine washed and do not felt. However be careful: ‘superwash’ does not mean you can just use any of the settings of your washing machine. Think about the skill, time and effort you have put into your handcrafted piece. Give your favorite shawl, jacket or socks a long life by choosing a gentle setting with less agitation and less temperature.

Superwash yarns from animal fibers are fascinating to me as a hand dyer. Dye powders react much more intense with them, creating wonderfully vibrant and brilliant colors.

I have experimented a lot with superwash yarns in order to learn their secrets and behavior. I learned that applying the dye liquid on very wet yarns creates different shades than on on dry spun yarns. I also found out that pastels only need very few dye pigments.

Very interesting is the fact that superwash yarns are able to go through a dye process twice without being damaged. I have over dyed several colors and they look stunning! However this will only work when dyeing a lighter yarn into a darker color.

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The colorway Crocus has been over dyed with the colorway Peacock. Note how perfect the result is

Blends

Merino wool blended with plant fibers (Bamboo or Rayon) will be quite shiny after the dye process. However the plant fibers in the blended yarn are not taking the dyes as much as pure animal fibres. The result is that colors are mainly on the pastel side.

Silks and silk blended yarns show the sheen of the silk. The more silk is in the blend, the more sheen you will see.

Alpaca fibers on the other hand are not as bright but very beautiful and they support the softness of the yarn.

Here are some examples of the different fibers:

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Merino supewash yarn: Note how brightly the colors pop

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Bamboo / Merino blend superwash yarn: the plant fibers (bamboo) are taking less dye pigment than the merino fibers. The result is a “silvery sheen”

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Tencel / Merino superwash blend: The Tencel (rayon fibers) takes very few dye pigments creating an even stronger and beautiful sheen

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100% Fine Merino Farm Yarn: While showing vibrant colors a “frosty” effect can be seen (burgundy part of the skein)

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Fancy Yarns (merino twisted with a nylon eyelash yarn): The nylon fibers are taking the pigments very well producing rich and vibrant colors

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60% silk / 40% merino blend: While still showing vibrant colors, the silk creates a wonderful sheen

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Alpaca yarn: Less vibrant colors but with a beautiful softness effect to it

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Feather light Alpaca: The colors are on the muted side but the softness effect is a lot stronger creating a fluffy look & feel

I hope you enjoyed this exclusive insight to the secrets of hand dyeing yarn. This post has a more technical approach to it but I tried to keep it easy to understand. If you are a hand dyer yourself, you might want to try one or two things I mentioned in this post. If you are a knitter this article might help you to understand why a yarn has a certain look & feel to it.

When designing a SKEINO knitting kit my starting point is always to choose the perfect yarn for the piece. Many things have to be taken into account such as the season of the year, weight of the yarn and intensity of the colors and how to combine them, just name a few.

I hope you enjoyed this rather long post. For any questions please use the comment section below.

And as always: #happyknitting

Love,

Bjorn

 

 

THE JOURNEY OF OUR YARN – FROM THE SHEEP ONTO YOUR NEEDLES

 

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For this blogpost I wanted to answer some questions our customers have repeatedly asked us. I ended up writing a story about where SKEINO yarns come from and how we work with them. Perhaps you have had these questions in your mind as well.

So follow me as I walk you through the process of our yarns here at SKEINO:

WHERE DO THE ANIMALS DELIVERING THE FIBERS GRAZE?

Most of our fibers come from Peru. The herds of alpacas and sheep graze in the Andes and they always have natural grass available to them. The herds are moved to higher or lower elevations, depending on the season. Mainly it is Coops who take care of the animals and sheer the wool for us.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE WOOL THEN?

The fleeces are being separated into high and low quality parts. The initial washing process will take most of the dirt and grease out of the fibers. The same quality of fibers are being pressed into bails. After that they are ready to be shipped to the spinning mill.

WHERE ARE THE YARNS BEING SPUN AND WHAT HAPPENS TO THE YARN?

Most of our yarns are being spun in Italy. Before this process can start, the fibers have to be washed again and a spinning oil has to be added to create an even and perfect thread. The spinning oil these days is mainly a vegetable oil. The fibers are being spun and twisted according to SKEINO’s specifications. Each yarn has a data sheet to let the mill know what to do. After the yarn has been spun it will be ready as a natural product or it will be treated to be machine washable. The yarn comes on cones and is ready to be wound into skeins (hanks). This is essential for us at SKEINO because it is the only form we can hand paint or dye the yarn.

HOW IS THE YARN BEING HAND PAINTED OR DYED BY SKEINO?

The skeins of yarn need to be prepared for the dye process. There is still dirt and spinning oil in the yarn that needs to be removed. At the same time the yarn soaks in a vinegar based bath to be able to absorb the color pigments. The hand paint or dye process is of course our secret, but it is all done by hand, from start to finish.

WHICH DYES ARE BEING USED FOR COLORING THE YARN AND WHAT IS PROCEDURE?

All of our dye powders are chemicals. They are all certified by the manufacturer so that we know they are not hazardous. The only negative thing is that the pigments are acting with our skin, which is protein like the fibers from all animals. This is why we have to wear rubber gloves. Everyone involved loves doing this so that they can see how the white color from the yarn disappears. After the yarn is dyed a heat setting process fixes the colors permanently. A final good rinse takes all those pigments away the yarn could not absorb. We always try to dry the yarn outside in order to have the fresh air take away the leftover smell from the vinegar. Also the breeze with the fresh air is puffing our yarn up to the best possible softness.

 

Now the yarn is ready to be sold on www.skeino.com. Our designs are created exclusively for each individual yarn. Mostly I create the design first and then I order the matching yarn. We take photos of each colorway in the most neutral way possible and upload them to www.skeino.com. The last step is of course when you cast on the yarn and knit your personal piece with it.

So this was the journey of our SKEINO yarn. I hope I could give you a better view of what we are doing here at SKEINO. Do you have any particular wishes on what other yarns you would like to see on SKEINO? Let us know in the comments!

…And as always: HAPPY KNITTING

HOW I FOUND OUT ABOUT A “SECRET” KNITTING STYLE

I learned to knit when I was just 5 years old. My Grandmother had the patience to show me how to do my first chain with my fingers, because I was on her heels and wanted to do the same thing she was doing. Over the years I became more and more interested in needlecraft and everything that goes along with it, so finally I studied Textile Design.

I’m now getting close to 70 and you would think that after so much time I would know most about needlecrafts but very recently I found out something very curious that made me think again:

It was the day when someone told me that I practice COMBINATION KNITTING.

I had no idea that besides the English/American and the Continental technique there is a third knitting style! Well, this explains why some of my pattern writing always needed some extra help to be right so knitters could understand what I was trying to say.

Here is a video that opened my eyes when a friend sent it to me:

Recently I planned a new Shawl and I decided to do a very open structure just based on the front row YO, K2tog and the back row all purl. To make it more exciting, I chose to work the shawl in the bias.

Knitting Bias Scheme

Interestingly due to my Combination Knitting technique, the K2tog’s supported the bias shape and the final design turned into a lengthwise striped scarf. What a fun surprise!

SKEINO Gala Scarf Detail

SKEINO’s new Gala Scarf

Our superfluffy, glittery and light weight VENICE yarn made the scarf very special and I’m convinced that the result with another yarn would not haven been so pretty as it came out with SKEINO Venice Yarn.

Here is the pattern:

Cast on 30 Stitches with needle #11

  1. Row K
  2. Row K1, K2tog, K26, M1, K1
  3. Row P
  4. Row K1, K2tog, K26, M1B, K1
  5. Row P

From now on repeat the following two rows:

Front row: K1, K2tog, K1, [YO, K2tog] 12 times, M1B, K2

Back row: P

For the last 5 rows repeat rows 1.-5.

Bind of loosely and weave in ends.

As I was knitting the model for our website I recorded a small video and I thought that it would be a nice idea to show you how the scarf knits using my combination knitting. You are very welcome to try the technique too:

This was my first attempt on doing a video tutorial. Please let me know if you want to see more videos like that.

To conclude let me say that actually I am very happy with my knitting style: it is easy and fast. But as you already know, SKEINO’s slogan is HAPPY KNITTING so please stay true to your personal style.

What is your favourite knitting style? Do you know of a fourth “secret” technique? Please let me know in the comments!

…and as always:

HAPPY KNITTING!

Love,

Bjorn

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ALPACA YARN

Alpaca sheep in their natural habitat

Alpaca sheep in their natural habitat

In this blog post we are giving you some insight on how to determine the quality of the alpaca yarn you just bought. Everybody loves Alpaca yarn and we as a yarn company are opening our treasure chest of knowledge to you today:

Alpaca is a soft, silky and durable fiber with unique thermal properties due to microscopic air bubbles found inside the hair. These bubbles allow the user to “breathe” through the fibers on hot days and in much the same way, to retain body heat in cold climates. Alpaca wool is also elastic and not inflammable.

Alpaca Fibers

Alpaca Fibers

Alpaca fibers are produced in around 15 natural shades, making it an attractive option for designers around the world ever since. The versatility of Alpaca fiber allows it to be readily transformed into all kinds of knitted garments, accessories or handcrafted products, either by machine or by hand.

This results in the fact that there are many Alpaca Yarns on the market.

In the western world we can see the cute animals here and there, even sometimes in a front yard – but they belong in a much higher elevation to create the best quality.

The only way to know the quality of the yarn is to have it professionally tested. This is what yarn producers should do before a yarn enters the market. We here at SKEINO always ask for a yarn certificate provided by the Spinning Mills to be sure of what we are providing to our customers.

Having a Histogram available helps us to understand the full picture of the quality. A histogram measures the fineness and the evenness of a single hair in micron. The lower the number the finer the fiber. However, the histogram does not take into account the age of the animal, environmental factors, density, luster and color.

Alpacas running

Running to be sheared?

Alpacas are being sheared the first time usually at around 12 months of age and the second shear at two years of age. At this time the fibers will give you a good indication of the quality.

Also, the Environment plays a major part in determining the quality of the fibers. Most Alpacas in South America have the finest fibers because they live in the Andes, right where they belong.

Here are some microns for the different Alpaca Yarn Types:

Super Baby Alpaca           19-20 micron

Baby Alpaca                      21.5–22.5 micron

Adult Alpaca                      25.5–26.5 micron

Coarse Alpaca                   30+ micron

For comparison: SKEINO’s Extra Fine Merino Superwash yarns are spun from 19.5 micron fibers

The Alpaca is indigenous to the Peruvian Andes, where they have been domesticated ever since the time of pre-Incan cultures. There are estimated to be approximately 3.5 to 4 million Alpaca in South America, 95% of which can be found in the regions of Southern Peru.

Alpacas are bred at altitudes varying between 11,000 and 15,000 feet above sea level, where temperatures can range from anywhere between -4°F and 86°F in a single day, surviving on a low protein diet based on natural grasses.

It is here where they grow the best quality.

If an Alpaca from the Andes would be “imported” from its habitat into the Western World, in a matter of months the fleece will “blow-out” by 10 micron or more. This is because of environmental factors and feed quality. If the Alpacas would be put on a lush, good quality pasture, the fleece would coarsen immediately.

Therefore, if you buy Alpaca yarn, try to find out where it is coming from in order to have the best quality for your money.

If you want to try Alpaca Yarn, take a look at our VENICE yarn or at our Baby Alpaca Kit that comes with 7 FREE patterns.

SKEINO Venice Yarn

SKEINO Venice Yarn

We hope you found this read enjoyable and found out some interesting facts “behind the scenes” about Alpaca yarn. As always please use the comments section for questions or comments.

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR HANDCRAFTED PIECES

skeino care for your handicraft pieces

We often receive emails from SKEINO customers who are unsure about how to care for their knitted or crocheted pieces. Oh, it seems so complicated! All these different fibers need their special care! But have no fear, help is near. In this post we’ll give you an overview that should help making you feel more comfortable about caring for your finished projects.

So It’s very important to know, how to care for knitted, crochet or handwoven pieces. You’ve spent your money to buy the yarn and you’ve spent many hours using your talent to create these wonderful pieces. If you take good care of them you’ll have enjoyment for years to come.

 Here at SKEINO we do not like pressing, except for Lace Pieces – We like all pieces to be fluffy and cuddle soft.

It’s not very difficult to do so, no matter which fiber you used.

In general to hand wash your piece is never wrong. Use the detergent of your choice but don’t be too harsh. You can high spin (!) all your pieces, because the drum will run in one direction, this means NO felting. Here at SKEINO we do not like pressing, except for Lace Pieces – We like all pieces to be fluffy and cuddle soft.

Now let’s get a little more specific and jump into the different kinds of fibers.

Pieces made from PLANT FIBER (cotton, linen, rayon, bamboo, etc.):

  • Hand wash or gentle machine wash; rinse and high spin; dryer medium to medium high – damp dry; drying your final piece flat on a towel outside is the best, shape your piece perfectly
SKEINO tencel sock in la boheme colorway

These socks are made using our Tencel Sock yarn which is based on plant fibers

Pieces made from SILK:

  • Hand wash; high spin; dryer medium to medium high – damp dry, no more than 3 min by themselves; drying your final piece flat on a towel outside is the best, shape your piece perfectly
Our Scarf-In-A-Scarf Knitting Kit comes with a silk scarf

Our Scarf-In-A-Scarf Knitting Kit comes with a silk scarf

Pieces made from ANIMAL FIBER – not superwash treated (merino, alpaca, mohair, lama, all other sheep wools, etc.):

  • Hand wash in warm water with a mild detergent or use your own shampoo (all animal fibers and human hair are made from protein); let your piece soak and just squeeze it; rinse well with less movements; high spin; dry with low heat and no more than 2 minutes in your dryer, it will fluff up your piece with NO felting; drying your final piece flat on a towel outside is the best, shape your piece perfectly
SKEINO ALPACA SHAWL

The Alpaca Shawl uses Alpaca and Merino yarn

Pieces made from ANIMAL FIBER –superwash treated (mainly merino and other sheep wools, etc.):

  • Machine wash in warm water with a mild detergent or use your own shampoo (all animal fibers and human hair are made from protein); let your piece soak and use the gentle cycle; do NOT use the rinse cycle, instead fill the machine with cold water and move the pieces by hand, then high spin, maybe repeat the rinse process a second time; dry with low heat and no more than 3 minutes in your dryer, it will fluff up your piece with NO felting; dry final (outside is the best) flat on a towel, shape your piece perfectly; NOTE: if you don’t have a top loader, you’ll need to consider to hand wash your piece
  • REMEMBER: Superwash yarns do NOT provide a complete “NO FELTING” tag. To be careful is always the best way to go. It is your piece and you’ve put your talent and money into it.
SKEINO Arabella Shawl

Our bestseller Arabella Shawl is made using 100% Extra Fine Merino Superwash yarn

Want to know more about fiber types? Read a related blog post: SKEINO EXPLAINS: HANDPAINTED PROTEIN FIBERS VS. PLANT FIBERS

So that wasn’t too hard after all, right? Feel free to re-browse this blogpost anytime you are unsure about how to care for your handcrafted pieces. Make sure to spread the word in your family & friends if they are unsure. As always please feel free to ask us anything or share your thoughts in the comment section.

SKEINO is now shipping to all 28 EU countries

We are so happy that our European customers now have it so much easier to order with SKEINO.

No more contacting us via email to place your order! We have now included all 28 EU-countries to our standard shipping rates so starting today you can order directly on www.skeino.com from anywhere in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden or the United Kingdom.

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To all our customers in Australia, New Zealand and Asia please continue to contact us via email to place your orders for now. We are working on that one too…

As always please feel free to ask or let us know your thoughts down in the comment section.

Keep on knitting the free world! :)

Love,

SKEINO