Where to start the story of Owl.
Our new yarn has been in the works for a while. We’d planned on a late-December launch, the perfect post-holiday lift. But, as these things go, the yarn was far from ready. First, the fiber took longer to scour and ship than expected, the mill went from slow to busy while we waited, and we lost our spinning window and had to get back in line. Next we had to take time to sample colors for overdyeing, and Don, our beloved dye master, took a well-earned week off.
That said–Joy!–the yarn is ready to go: The colors are dyed, the skeins are twisted, the labels are here. (We’re waiting on label twine, but it’s due to arrive today.) Best of all, we’re swatching to our hearts content. Note the little angel shape on the chair above. How I love this yarn worked in garter stitch. In cables and openwork patterns. In simple stockinette stitch.
And why fall in love with this particular alpaca yarn, when there are so many others out there?
Well may you ask. And here’s the answer: Owl is different. Truly. In a very specific way.
Alpaca is a hollow fiber, meaning its core is filled with air. Most alpaca yarns are worsted spun, which means that the fibers are combed (aligned) before spinning. Think of your hair. After a ride in a convertible, the strands of your hair lie every which way. Some are straightish, others point left and right and lie at angles to each other. That’s the way that uncombed hair, and uncombed fiber, sits. If you align alpaca fibers all neat and tidy before spinning, as you do in the worsted system, the fibers make a smooth, polished, compact, and sometimes rather dense yarn. Lovely as it is in the skein, some alpaca yarns can be joyless to knit and all too drapey and heavy in the finished product.
The challenge: How to make an alpaca yarn with loft and bounce. Blending alpaca with wool helps. And we’ve done that. But spin the wool/alpaca blend on a woolen system and you have a bit of heaven. Unlike worsted spinning, fibers in the woolen system are left to lie like your hair after that convertible ride, willy, nilly with lots or air around them. Voila, you have an alpaca yarn that’s light, buoyant, warm. With a bit of a wash, it develops a pretty soft, halo.
We’re launching Owl in a small, initial palette: Two undyed colors, a fawn and medium gray, named after the Tawny and Sokoke owls, respectively. And we’ve overdyed the naturals in five cheerful late-winter colors, which we’ll show you soon.