In Review: Brown Sheep Company Burly Spun

About a decade ago, my husband, myself, and our infant son took a road trip from our home in Wisconsin out to Colorado. It’s true that many people look at Nebraska — and all the Great Plains states — as somewhere to drive through in order to get somewhere else. That’s just too bad because Nebraska is gorgeous country. Those long views and big sky of the plains states complete with the stunning rolling hills as you move further west have captivated our hearts as much as (or maybe even more!) any mountain range or ocean view. There is something about standing in a sea of grasslands that is… it feels like the essence of freedom.

As I was a new but already avid knitter, I was excited at the prospect of checking out a Brown Sheep Company, a source for American wool. You have to remember, this was before other big name American wool yarn purveyors that we are familiar with today even existed. Back in the early 2000s, the family owned and operated Brown Sheep Company had been making yarn for 20 years and really was the source for American wool yarn for knitters and crocheters. Going to Mitchell to visit the Brown Sheep Company was like a pilgrimage for me. My husband, who is a native of Nebraska, was more than happy to travel the full length of the corn-husker state in order to visit the far western reaches and the home of the Brown Sheep Company.  We were both pretty pleased with the details of this trip, indeed!

The timing of our visit — not to mention the fact that we had along a baby and a dog — made it impractical to do a mill tour, but I did get to visit the outlet shop. Let me tell you — oh, how I would LOVE to go back now knowing so much more than I did back then! In any case, I’d been thinking about that trip out to Western Nebraska recently, so when I received an email inviting me to review their Burly Spun yarn, I jumped. What a great way to reconnect with not just the memories, but also this fantastic yarn!

Burly Spun is a single-ply yarn, spun from 100% USA wool and is available in 31 solid colors as well as 8 hand painted colorways. Brown Sheep Company buys the majority of their wool directly from the growers and employs sustainable practices, too, so you can feel pretty darn good about the wool they produce. I selected a skein of the colorway named Strawberry Patch and Brown Sheep Company generously sent it my way. I knew my daughter was in need of some mittens and this yarn and its super bulky status was just the ticket. As warm as it is fast to knit, Burly Spun is pretty darn phenomenal for mittens to keep our northern tier fingers warm.

I’d originally planned to get them done earlier this month, but all the obligations of December got the better of me. Thankfully I knew once I sat down to it, they would be done in the blink of an eye. Two night ago I cast-on mittens using this Classic Cabled Hat & Mittens pattern on Ravelry.

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I started them around 4pm and knit on them throughout the evening. Even with a stop for dinner and multiple trips to chase the new puppy around the backyard, I was done before bedtime. When they call this yarn the “Fastest in the West,” they are not kidding!

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Didn’t they turn out great?!

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They are bright and soft and oh-so-cozy!

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Burly Spun is wonderful for mittens as it keeps your hands warm and dry. Normally I’m wary of knitting a cabled pattern in a handpainted yarn, but I think because of the size of the stitches (13 stitches and 18 rows over 4″ on size 10.5 needles) it just works super well. I got both mittens out of a bit less than 1 skein of yarn — enough that there was no yarn chicken, but not so much that I feel like any bit was wasted. And they might just be the prettiest mittens I’ve made yet!

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The only thing that bums me out is that I didn’t get enough to make the matching hat! I suppose with so many pretty colors, maybe I should get enough to make a set for myself in addition to the matching hat for my girl!

I want to thank Brown Sheep Company for providing this yarn and the opportunity to review their beautiful yarn. I truly hope one day that I’ll make it back their way again, but whether I do or not, this certainly will not be the last Brown Sheep Company yarn I work with!

 

In Review: KPC Yarns

You know me, I like to try new things. When I was asked if I wanted to a sample box from KPC, I was intrigued. I’d never heard of this company and hadn’t tried any new yarn in a while. Besides, a little yarn tasting at my kitchen table would surely be a fun way to experiment, too.

I went about a little research on KPC, of course, so I’d know the story behind this yarn. With roots that date back 70 years ago to Shanghai, KPC has been supplying luxury garment manufacturers with merino, cotton, and cashmere, for generations. Still in the same family, KPC — or Knit Purl Crochet —  launched their hand knit yarns in 2014 and is now based out of Hong Kong.

My sample box was elegant and simple on the outside, but…

img_4253Well, it held a lot of goodies!

img_4254It contained literature as well also garter swatches for all 13 different yarns and sample balls of each yarn for me to try. So fun, right?!

And try those bits and bobs I did!

img_4267Admittedly not a super neat extravaganza here at my kitchen table, I thoroughly enjoyed trying out the four unique lines & their different bases.

My favorite by far was the Gossyp Chunky. Gossyp is 100% organic cotton.

img_4287I really loved the stitch definition and for a multi-plied cotton I had no issue with splitting the yarn as I knit.

img_4288It’s available in 3 weights,  DK, a 4-ply fingering, and, of course, the chunky.

The other stand-out in my eyes was the heavier weights of Novomerino — the aran & chunky especially.

img_4289The Novomerino is a super soft ultrafine merino sourced from Australia and the heavier weights have a high twist that makes for a very bouncy fabric that I really love. It’s also available in a 4-ply and DK weight.

The other two lines include the Glencoul blend that is 70% merino and 30% cotton, available in a 4-ply, DK, and chunky. And a 100% Mongolian cashmere rounds out the collection with lace, 4-ply, and DK weight.

img_4286They were all very fun to play around with!

Depending on the line, these yarns are available in anywhere from 20 – 60 different colorways.

img_4255As you can imagine that gives you loads of options and room for creating just the project you’re dreaming of.

These yarns are all available to purchase direct from KPC in Hong Kong. That may sound like shipping would be an obstacle for those of us in the US or Eurozone, but I’ve been told that orders do arrive in a very timely manner. Oh, and just a helpful hint, should you find yourself perusing the site, before you get going, look in the upper right and you’ll see an “HKD” — that is a currency converter. Click on it and you can change it to your currency for accurate pricing.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of something new today! I know I had a blast trying out these new-to-me yarns. I’ve definitely got the Gossyp Chunky on my mind for some future projects — which line most interests you?

A Luxurious Delight

When someone asks if you want to knit with a skein of yarn that is 70/20/10 Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, you say yes. Period. Most incarnations of the MCN blend top out around 10% of cashmere and that alone is pretty soft and wonderful, but 20% cashmere means I spend some time finding the perfect pattern and then I drop what I’m doing and get it on my needles asap.

This was the case with my skein of Ancient Arts DK with just that blend of fibers.

skeinSofter than pretty much anything you can imagine and with drape to spare, consensus was that it needed to be knit up into some neckwear. I pulled a book off the shelf that I’ve had for a couple of years, Jane Richmond’s Island, and flipped to Arbutus. The yarn & yardage requirements were a match and I just knew the fabric this yarn would suit this necklace-like cowl perfectly.

As soon as I’d settled on the pattern and I got a little break in my schedule I cast-on…

IMG_0974And I had the greatest time taking photos of this gorgeous yarn. A new colorway from Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts, Great Scott! is a rich, bright turquoise. It’s pretty hard to really capture the color in a photo — you know how elusive blues can be with a camera.

IMG_0977I was really impressed with how simple the pattern was. It has a very unique construction and shape…

side viewBut I knit it up in just a couple days. I think partly because the pattern is very well written and partly because the yarn is just so incredible, it just flew off my needles.

det ribI let my gauge be as relaxed as I could so that I really have a fantastic smooshy fabric and the yarn did not disappoint.

on1My finished cowl is exactly what I’d hoped for — warm and oh-so-soft around my neck with a very stylish, necklace-like look to it thanks to the three-tiered structure.

Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts has loads of gorgeous colors on a wide range of base yarns from which to choose. In addition to their general colorways, there are some wonderful collections including the Meow Collection & the Woof Collection (both of which a portion of the proceeds are donated to benefit stray and abandoned cats & dogs) and Folk Art Collection inspired by folk art traditions from around the world. There really is something for everyone!

I can’t say enough great things about the cowl I’ve created here. That pattern was great fun and the yarn simply is a luxurious delight. I guarantee I’ll be wearing it a ton. In fact, since taking the photos I haven’t taken it off and I don’t anticipate doing so any time soon!