Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Handling Your Hand-Dyes!

Handling Your Hand-Dyes!

We knitters are a crafty bunch! We love our hand-dyed yarn so much, we've figured out ways to make it look its best, even when it's not on its best behavior.

As we talked about in our last post, color changes in hand-dyed yarn can stack up in an unattractive way in pools and unwanted stripes. Here are some ways to put it in its place!

First, you can add design elements that change your stitch count. In a small project with a thin yarn, like socks, just one stitch can cause the striping sequence to change, taking care of any pooling issues. Try adding or subtracting a stitch in an inconspicuous location to see the effect. In a larger project where gauge is not as important, changing a needle size can do the trick!

Monika figured out the best widths for her Brat Pack Headband that kept the yarn from randomly pooling. Take a look:

Lace is also a good solution. It changes the gauge of the knitted project and adds an element of visual interest that can distract the eye from and pooling problems you may be having. Heather used an eyelet pattern in her Bodacious beret to keep pooling out of the body of the hat, so it's contained to the top as a more controlled design element:

An asymmetrical shape helps with pooling, too! Rachel used this technique in her Cell Block Shawlette (top of page), along with purposely placed drop stitches, to control pooling issues. Kristen also used the asymmetrical shape trick and some simple eyelets to keep her Claire Shawlette looking neat:

Finally, Leanne took things up a notch and paired her hand-dyed yarn with a coordinating solid color to bust up color stacking and pooling in her Scrunchy Heart Legwarmers- so cool!

These are just a few tips - do you have more? Share them in the comments!

Happy Knitting!


[Yarns shown in photos are Lorna's Laces Limited Edition colorways '15 June - The New Black (still available in Helen's Lace) and '15 July - Brat Pack]

Thursday, June 11, 2015

All About Hand-Dyed Yarns!

Hoards of Hand-dyes! Chris's Glacier Sweep Shawl, Monika's Avenger Cape in Craigh na Dun, Baah La Jolla Yarn, swatch of Rachel's Outlander MKAL 2015 Shawl, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Christmas at Downton, Kristen's Edith's Secret Shawl, Phydeaux Soie in Mon Amour, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Devon

Exciting things are afoot...or a-needle, we should say: we're kicking off a celebration of hand-dyed yarns at Jimmy Beans Wool, and you're invited to the party!

Just don't be tardy.

For the party.

Yes, I just wrote that.

Along with a series of instructional articles in our next few Newsletters, we'll be taking and in-depth look at each type of hand-dyed yarn we carry and how to get the most out of it. Now that's something to celebrate!

Monika's Avenger Cape in Assemble!

And what better way to get our party started than with Lorna's Laces? It was Lorna Miser herself who inspired Laura to start her own yarn shop, so one could say that JBW wouldn't exist without Lorna's Laces. Together, we've created a series of Limited Edition yarns that celebrates everything pop culture, from our favorite TV shows to current events around the world.

Rachel's Outlander MKAL 2015 Shawl in Craigh na Dun

Though they dye solid and tonal colors, Lorna's is best known for their variegated yarns, especially the bright, saturated colorways that knit up into amazingly colorful, one-of-a-kind creations! One look at a garment and you can tell it's Lorna's - there's just no other yarn quite like it out there! You can see what I mean in the garments pictured above.

Lorna's Laces yarn gets its distinct look from the special hand-dye process: the dyers plan a colorway down to the last detail, including the sequence in which the colors will appear on the skein. Then, the hanks of yarn are painstakingly dyed section by section. The final result is a circular hank with an almost color-blocked look, but when it's wound into a ball and knit up, the colors appear in the knitted item in the same sequence they were dyed on the skein, giving that fun, variegated effect we love so much!

Autumn's Magrathea Shawl

Now, as gorgeous as these yarns are, they have their challenges - most notably, when your project varies in size or shape, the colors line up differently in each row, sometimes causing unwanted striping or "pooling", which looks like irregular "blobs" of color on your project. Some people love this effect - it is quite artistic, after all! - but sometimes it can detract from the look you're going for.

An example of pooling in the Outlander Shawl - in this case, the symmetry makes it an appealing design element!

So, how to solve it? Wouldn't you like to know! And we'll be telling you in our next post :)

Let us know your other favorite variegated hand-dyes! We love Baah Yarn, Lotus Yarns, Becoming Art, and the list goes on! What's on your list?

Happy Knitting (with Hand-Dyes!)!


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Drop it Like it's Hot (your stitch, that is...)

Top: Monika's Deep Sea Shrug/Wrap; Bottom: Diagonal Drop Stitch Shawl, Drop Stitch TShirt, Drop Stitch Scarf

We've been dropping stitches left and right lately...and loving it!

No, we haven't lost our minds. Not THAT kind of dropped stitch - we mean "drop stitches" - the kind you drop on purpose for an artistic effect!

It's like lace...with a little cheat. Kind of like how when I'm reading a book that I hate, I speed-read to finish it faster, and my husband calls it "cheating at reading".

But you didn't really need to know that. :)

Drop stitches create an open, airy fabric that's great for shawls, scarves, and even sweaters that can be worn over tank tops. So drop some stitches and let that breeze flow through!

But where to start? Well, here's a place:

Leanne and Rachel are here to help!

As Leanne and Rachel so helpfully explain, many drop stitch designs are accomplished by making yarn-overs on one row, and then dropping the extra yarn off the needle on the next row. Genius! 

Monika used this technique in her Deep Sea Shawl/Wrap, pictured below in Yarn Carnival Fire Dancer in our May Micro Brewed Series color, Jacques Cousteau. Gorgeous!

Other drop-stitch designs (like the vertical lines you see in the orange sweater in the top photo) are created by dropping a stitch off the needle and letting it unravel all the way down to the cast-on edge. The cast-on keeps it from totally unraveling, so you're safe! Whew! And you get a vertical row of lacy eyelets with just a flick of the finger. It's like magic!

Does that make us magicians? Yes. Yes, it does. Stitchmagicians!

Now get out there and make some stitchmagic. Practice up and you'll be all ready for THIS:

What the what! It's Rachel's latest Mystery Knit-Along, where you binge on clues as you binge on the newest episodes of Orange is the New Black on Netflix! It starts June 12th, and the mystery item features drop stitches in a new and interesting way! But that's all I can tell you, or I might have to kill you! 

Just kidding. I'm a lover, not a fighter. But I will fight for yarn.

Seriously, though, you're gonna love this Binge's so genius, it's nearly criminal!

OK, I'll stop now. But one last thing: don't forget your yarn! Pick up a Binge MKAL kit - it includes the download code for the pattern, too - or grab any skein of Sportmate and let them know in the notes you want the download code, and they'll add it to your order for just $3!

Happy Knitting!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

All About Reversible Cables!

Erika's Outlander Shawl in Fable Fibers Novel and TML; Rachel's Moebius Braid Cowl

Suddenly, we can't get enough of reversible cables.

And why not? They're pretty awesome. Just take a look.

As anyone who had the pleasure of knitting Rachel's 2015 Outlander Mystery Shawl (above, in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Limited Edition color Craigh na Dun) knows, they're not hard to execute, but the results are amazing - beautiful cables that look as good on the back side of the fabric as they do on the front! Which comes in mighty handy when you want both sides of your project to be equally gorgeous (and who doesn't?). Scarves, cowls, and shawls that wrap around your neck or get tossed over a shoulder certainly fall into this category.

Like the Moebius Braid Cowl Rachel designed for Knitty, below:

Reversible Cables glean their magic from a simple stitch we all know and love: rib. Surprised? We were, too. It seems that easy k1, p1 rib has some hidden talents. Namely, if you pattern cables with it, the backs of them look the same as the fronts, a quality we already make good use of in everyday rib on collars, cuffs, edgings, and more. 

Here's a closer look of one of the cables in my Outlander Mystery Shawl. Look familiar? It was formed by keeping the k1, p1 stitch pattern as I knit the cables off the cable needle.

The rib stitch keeps the cables nice and stretchy, too. Bonus!

Want more? This great video from Rachel explains the ins and outs of this handy trick, and shows you how to do it, too! Keep that one in your back pocket. You're welcome.

Let us know what sorts of projects you've used reversible cables in. We'd love to see them!

Happy Knitting,


Friday, May 8, 2015

The Game is On! Game of Thrones MKAL Progress

The Game of Thrones Mystery Knit-along has officially begun! Kristen posted the first clue on Ravelry on May 3rd, and Ravelers grabbed their needles and cast on for this bulky-weight mystery project inspired by Tyrion Lannister. Using Lorna's Laces Cloudgate in our April 2015 Limited Edition color, Casterly Rock, the first clue flew by and we soon had the beginning of something special on the needles! Take a look at some of the progress Ravelers have made:

Jennilynn's Mystery Project in Casterly Rock that eyelet lace I spy in there? It's making that hand-dyed yarn look great!

moonrevel's Game of Thrones Mystery project is looking nice!

Some Ravelers have chosen alternate colorways, and they look gorgeous as well!

CakerKnits chose Cloudgate in the Campbell colorway

Our Leanne chose Prepare to Dye (another Lorna's Limited Edition color!) for her colorful creation

And different yarns are knitting up quite nicely, as well!

knitwitkara is using Classic Elite Chalet and she thinks it's heavenly!

annelacanne is proving Cascade 128 is also a great choice! (We have it in Superwash, too!)

How is your Game of Thrones mystery project looking? Share some photos with us!

We can't wait to see what next week brings! You can read even more about it over here on Kristen's blog!

Happy Knitting!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015


We've got cabin fever.

No, we don't all live in cabins, silly! It may be the High Sierra, but we're not the Donner Party!

That may have been tasteless. I apologize. (And no pun intended, by the way...I just can't help myself!)

No, what I meant was, we're ready for Spring!

Spring...hello, Spring...where are you? You can officially arrive any. time. now.

We've had a few days of warm sun, but real warm weather isn't quiiiite here yet. But that doesn't mean we can't prepare by planning our Spring knitting projects! Here are a few that have caught our eye:

Dragneficient by Penny Schumers (bottom right, above)

Morning Dove Shawlette by Pam Jemelian (top right, above) - in Tosh Merino Light (fave!)

Striped Spring Shirt from Purl Soho (left, above)

Lake Effect Cardigan by Amy Miller (swoooooon!)

Or how about a shawl to use up some of that stashed sock yarn?

Yes, please! The Raindrops and Roses Shawl by Clara Beauty is!

What sorts of gorgeous things are getting you excited about Spring knitting? Share them with us!

Happy Spring (hopefully, soon)!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's Getting Scot in Here! (Outlander MKAL Progress - Spoiler Alert!)

Whew - do you feel that? The temperature's rising! Not just outside, but in our living rooms as we greedily soak in the newest episodes of Outlander on Starz!

Ahem. I'm gonna need a second.

Handsome Jamie isn't the only thing that's got us excited: Rachel's Outlander Mystery Knit-Along is up and running, and the results are just gorgeous so far! The yarn is just beautiful, too - Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Rachel's specially-created Craigh na Dun colorway reminds us of Scottish moors covered in forget-me-not flowers!

Just take a look at some of the progress Ravelers have made on the first two clues:

ArcticWoolies' Craigh na Dun is looking fab!

CakersKnits even used her special Spark Stitch Markers!

clrowe01 is cabling up a storm!

And that's not all - many of you have taken matters into your own hands and tried your own yarn colors and modifications, as well!

shand302 used The Verdant Gryphon Bugga! in Persephone (how apropos!)

tbears99 is loving it in TML in Ginger

TerryRoss was wooed by Wollmeise in Patina (and she's planning to add beads!)

How is your Outlander project coming along? Share some photos and notes with us on the Outlander MKAL 2015 chat boards! (Beware of spoilers!)

Want to read more? Check out Rachel's blog!

We can't wait to see the finished shawl - we'll be checking back in with more progress as the MKAL unfolds!

And's my own little Tosh Merino Light, color Plaid Blanket, with some eyelet lace in the garter section to disguise any gauge discrepancies! (And because I thought it might look good with the upcoming border...*wink!) I love this pattern so much, I'm staying up too late knitting. Oh, the sacrifices we knitters make for our craft!

I love it!

Happy Knitting!

- Heather