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This year we’re welcoming the highly-anticipated return of fall with two new pattern collections, the first of which is now ready for you to immerse yourself in today — Early Fall 18.

The conception of this collection began with a curious attraction to the quiet yet compelling colors, shapes, and textures found in the art of paper folding. Our Design Team took this inspiration to their drawing boards and created an exciting collection that embodies those first feelings of intrigue by challenging our perceptions of how a knitted garment can be constructed, assembled, and made.

In Early Fall 18, you’ll find garments that appear angular and sculptural, but maintain sinuous drape and fluidity. You’ll explore construction methods that coax you out of your comfort zone, all while remaining true to the intuitive joys of handmaking. You’ll also feel emboldened to follow paths that go sideways, perform maneuvers that tessellate, and traverse planes that fold.

Using our core worsted-spun yarns — Arbor, Peerie, and Vale — as your clay, you’ll sculpt beautifully clever pieces that will delight and serve you for years to come.

Join us in exploring and melding these two genres of handmaking — we’re so looking forward to seeing what you discover.

 

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Today we have the thrill and pleasure to share our newest core yarn with knitters around the world. Peerie is four worsted-spun plies of all-American Merino wool, soft and sleek and springy, perfectly suited for stranded colorwork and so much more. It comes in our largest palette yet — 45 sumptuous solids — to support the tonal shifts, complementary notes, and zings of contrast necessary for Fair Isle-inspired knits.

Any yarn we add to our permanent stable needs to be a true workhorse, so we made sure Peerie would shine in all kinds of projects, from textural stitchwork to cables to lace. You can see the results of our ardent swatching in our new lookbook.

 

Four patterns from our archives are now available with directions for knitting in Peerie as well as the original yarn. You’ll find the fresh versions in the lookbook, and if you already own the pattern you’ll see a free update posted to your library on our website and/or Ravelry.

Most of all, we hope Peerie inspires you to play with color. As a tasting project to introduce the new yarn and the possibilities of the palette Jared Flood’s Lucerne hat pattern is ideal for knitters new to colorwork, with short carries and simple three-and-one color exchanges. Download a Lucerne hat coloring page and start exploring the possibilities of Peerie’s 45 colorway palette. Kits are available in six different combinations of two to four hues to get you started. If you’d like to join us for a speedy knit along with the Lucerne hat, join us in the BT Fan Club on Ravelry today!

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Colorwork traditions have steadily been on our minds since we began the development of Peerie, our first fingering-weight, worsted-spun yarn. Deeply rooted in knitting traditions from around the world, we have always had a fond place in our knitterly hearts for the use of color to transform knit fabric into a work of art representative of the region from which the chosen technique originated. The Shetland Isles are well known for their colorwork traditions, and the name “Peerie” comes from the Shetland vernacular meaning “small” — it felt apropos to name our newest core yarn as such, especially given that peerie bands played a large role in the development of Peerie’s color palette. 

With a mix of familiar colors from Vale and Arbor as well as new colorways unique to Peerie, its palette is our most expansive to date, with 45 colors that offer a rainbow of options for discerning and playful makers alike. The joyful interplay of color that can be captured by simply alternating between shades is a source of endless inspiration to us, and one that we never tire of. If you’ve ever worked a Fair Isle, stranded, or any other kind of colorwork motif, you likely know how important it is to have a range of hues and values to choose from. You may recall our recent post about creating a color story for a Galloway cardigan. These tips can be applied to any colorwork project and help with the selection of a Peerie palette, which includes 11 light values, 13 medium values, and 21 dark values. This range of colors provides a variety of tonal variations within each color family — enough choices and combinations to keep a knitter busy for quite a while!*

Though designed with colorwork in mind, Peerie is equally beautiful when used to showcase other stitchwork. Our lookbook, available on May 30, will feature an exploration of the textures, cables, and lace fabrics that can be created with Peerie and will serve as a source of inspiration to guide you through your wardrobe planning. 

Seeing Peerie in the hands of makers marks a new chapter in our yarn family. Its production strengthens our bond with our domestic supply chain partners, namely Jagger Brothers where the yarn is spun and Maine Dye and Textiles where the yarn is skein-dyed. Peerie is a continuation of our intention to expand upon our breed-specific yarn offerings, this time with a new fiber source: 100% Merino wool humanely sheared from sheep raised in the American West.

Peerie will be available for purchase on May 30 — we can’t wait for you to join us in celebrating the arrival of this beautiful yarn!

*Never knit colorwork before? That’s okay! Our upcoming Foundations series will be covering this topic so be sure to sign up for our Outpost newsletter if you haven’t yet.

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In the wool world, there is perhaps no other fiber more ubiquitous than merino. From our fiber and making community to the ready-to-wear industry, merino has become interchangeable with wool, regardless of the specific fiber content of the wool. However, beyond fabric, yarn and other textiles, Merino itself is its own breed of sheep, with a rich history dating back to 12th century Spain and distinct fleece characteristics that make our breed-specific-loving hearts sing. How is it that this one word — merino — can refer to two quite different things?

As we discussed in our Foundations installment on Breed Specificity, most commercial wool yarn manufacturers who produce yarns for both handknitting and ready-to-wear garments, focus on blending wool from different breeds of sheep into a homogenous fiber with the aim of amplifying softness.

This quality of softness is often expressed via micron count. A micron is a unit of measurement used for the diameter, and therefore fineness, of a fiber — the lower the micron count, the finer the fiber; the higher the micron count, the hardier or “coarser” the fiber.

For a finewool, commercial wool yarn manufacturers aim for an average micron range of 19–21.5 microns. In the process of blending wool from various breeds of sheep, only fibers that fall within this range are added to the blend. The resulting fiber is then a carefully calculated amalgamation of finewools from various breeds. Over time, the term merino, associated with unrivaled softness, has become an epithet for this blended (though not necessarily Merino) wool. In other words, merino used in this way references the micron count of the (blended) wool and not the breed.

What, then, sets apart Merino the breed?

Merino sheep, after having undergone centuries of breed refinement, are known for producing fleeces of remarkable fineness. However, as shown above, Merino fleeces come in a wider micron range (11–25 microns) that extends far beyond the typical commercial finewool range (19–21.5 microns). In other words, even within the Merino family, there is notable variation in softness levels from fleece to fleece, depending on the sub-breed. There are ultrafine Merino fibers at one end of the spectrum and strong, more durable Merino fibers at the other end.

There are other qualities special to Merino the breed that may be dampened in a blend that only focuses on softness. Our passion for breed-specific wool invites us to highlight all of those qualities equally and so it was exciting for us to find Merino ranchers in Nevada and Utah able to produce enough fleece to support our new core yarn — Peerie.

The fleeces we sourced average at 20.5 microns — still within the typical finewool range, but retaining the Merino-specific quirks of supreme density, high tensile strength, high crimp, and delightful springiness. Worsted-spun into a smooth, 4-ply fingering-weight yarn, Peerie hits the sweet spot of being both next-to-skin soft and durable.

Peerie arrives on May 30th — we hope you’ll join us in welcoming and getting to know this newest companion on our breed-specific journey.

In writing this piece, we consulted Clara Parkes’s The Knitter’s Book of Wool and Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius’s The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. We highly recommend these titles to those of you interested in further reading!

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