As a yarn company you have to buy your raw yarn from somewhere. Ever since we started we have been looking for the best yarn we could find and I’m glad that we found some providers who can deliver exactly what we want for our SKEINO customers. The yarn we look for has to be of superior quality for many reasons. We want to support local businesses in Europe and the US since they have so much tradition in yarn spinning. Especially for the smaller businesses though, it has become harder and harder to survive. So why not preserve traditional businesses with our SKEINO orders?
Now as you know, even an industry as traditional as yarn making is innovating constantly. I thought that this might be an interesting subject so it will be our topic today. But how to start? For a hand knitter many of the machines and techniques used in the industry are hard to understand, even though they hold the results in their hands every time when they grab their needles and start to knit. Therefore I’ll begin from a hand knitter’s perspective and then we’ll move forward to the industry.
So we’ll start with the I-cord. I was looking for a long time to find out what the “I” is standing for and the only explanation I found was that it’s I as in “Idiot”. Hmm, that doesn’t sound very convincing…
So what is the I-cord? Well that can be explained rather quickly: Maybe as a child you tried to make a cord using a wooden spool with four nails. You might have wound the cord in a circle to create a coaster or a potholder. Today’s knitter uses knitting needles to knit a cord. This takes forever and it’s a tedious process. If you have ever tried to knit a yard or more that way you’ll know what I mean. If you want to be quicker you might want to consider buying a little mechanical hand tool to be faster. An interesting alternative is to use a cord as an edge on the side or a Bind Off Cord at a sweaters neck opening.
So now you know what the I-cord for a hand knitter is. Now let’s move back to the knitting industry: You would think that all yarns are spun but nothing could be further from the truth. Many yarns are actually knitted instead of being spun. The mills actually use the very same I-cord technique when producing some of their yarns: Instead of spinning the fibers, a machine is used, carrying several knitting heads that are lined up where the yarn is being knitted. Usually a mill will use yarn that is already spun to knit the cord. I’m sure you have seen yarns like that, mainly bulky yarns for a fast project. I couldn’t find any pictures of these knitting heads and I’m sure they are top-secret so I’ll leave that to your imagination at this point.
One result of the I-cord technique is that these knitted yarns are very strong. In the past at SKEINO we carried a 100% silk yarn. It was DK-weight and very elegant. You were not able to break the yarn with your fingers. Here’s a picture of what the yarn looked like when it came from the mill. Note the structure, you can clearly see that the yarn is knitted. Since the fibers kind of look like a chain and because it was so strong we called the yarn “Silk Chainette”.
Even though the I-cord technique is quite popular within the knitting industry, there are other knitted yarns out there that are using different techniques. For example the cord can also be knitted from very thin and strong Nylon and additional fibers are being fed into it during the knitting process. This helps to achieve different characteristics for the yarn such as durability and/or softness. Here is an example:
At SKEINO we are currently offering a yarn called the VENICE YARN. The cord is knitted from Lurex yarn and Baby Alpaca. Usually a “metal” yarn like Lurex will be super scratchy because of the sharp edges of the cut foil (what lurex is). However thanks to its unique knitting technique the Venice is not scratchy at all. The fibers surrounding the “glitter center” are made from Baby Alpaca acting as a shield. This prevents the yarn from being scratchy, making it very elegant, while being soft and lightweight.
One 4 oz. skein of Venice contains 300 yards. It knits up Bulky for scarves and shawls or Worsted for garments. We just started to add more colors to our section and there are more to come. The yarn is great for scarves and shawls and it’s a great beginners yarn. Venice does not need a complicated pattern: its elegant fibers speak for themselves.
What do you think about knitted yarn? Do you even have an explanation what the “I” in I-cord stands for that is more substantial then the one I found? Let us know in the comments. And as always: HAPPY KNITTING!