New Yarn - Woven Beyond
I can not even begin to tell you how many requests I receive every day from yarn mass producers wanting to present their range to me. To be perfectly honest, most of them go completely ignored and left un-responded to, because from the very first eyesight it is clear to me they haven't even bothered to check on beforehand what Knit with attitude is all about. If your header says something in the line of “100% polyester, 100% acrylic, arty yarn, effect yarn, best price, buy now” it won't even be opened.
This spring I had a request that grabbed my attention and tickled my interest, and I asked for more information. I then received the most well presented information pack I have received in a long time. It oozed quality, concern, knowledge, skills, professionalism and most of all passion. Enters Gloria Mazzer of Woven Beyond to show us samples from her very first wholesome yarn collection – and both me and George were completely sold! Woven Beyond sought after and wanted to be specifically on our shelves for all the right reasons - we are a match made in heaven! Gloria's enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and understanding of the processes behind what she is trying to achieve is gobsmacking, and to me highly inspirational! Stroking, squishing and running her yarns through my fingers brought me right back to why Knit with attitude exists, arousing those passions that so easily can be drowned out when dealing with the everyday managing of the shop. Woven Beyond ticks all my boxes – please, to find out why I'm pulling out every single one of my superlatives – read more below.
With more than a decade working in the global fashion industry, Gloria found herself increasingly frustrated by the apparent wastage, lack of transparency in the long supply chains and a reliance of synthetic materials, she decided to dedicate herself to solving some of theses challenges within the industry. Creating her brand Woven Beyond, Gloria set out a clear and concise mission working towards a firm set of values which are:
- A fashion industry free from plastic-based fibres.
- Fully traceable raw materials.
- A transparent supply chain.
- Wealth redistribution across the supply chain.
- Supporting regenerative farming to mitigate climate change, promote biodiversity, soil restoration and clean water.
- Reconnecting fashion to farming
Some pretty meaty goals if you ask me, and I'm all for it! But do you know what the term “regenerative” actually means, admittedly I didn't. Gloria explains: Regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach to land management. It is about farming and grazing animals in a way that nourishes people and the earth, meaning that the strategies need to vary from grower to grower and from region to region, with the purpose of restoring soil and ecosystem health, address inequity, and leave our land, waters, and climate in better shapefor future generations. Regenerative agriculture looks at the ways in which carbon can be drawn down into the soil again and it’s a powerful tool to reverse climate change if practiced at scale.
So how does this look like when translating such a firm vision into products – more specifically into yarn! The fibres used in the Woven Beyond yarns are fully traceable, from start to finish.
Gloria decided to use premium wool from the French Merinos D’Arles Selection© collective of herders because they still practice the transhumance, an ancient form of nomadic pastoralism organised around the migration of livestock between mountain pastures in warm seasons and lower altitudes the rest of the year. In spring, flocks are moved up to the French Alps where, at 2000m altitude, sheep graze on green pastures. In September, when the risk of snow starts to increase, they move back to the lowland to enjoy a milder winter until the next spring. Transhumance (included in the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity) shapes relations amongst people, animals and ecosystems. It involves shared rituals and social practices; caring for and breeding animals; managing the land, forests and water resources; and dealing with natural hazards. Transhumant herders have an in-depth knowledge of the environment and its ecological balance, and is one of the most sustainable livestock farming methods in terms of natural resources use and land management.
Gloria works with Himalayan Wild Fiber™, a social enterprise that seeks to support the Nepalese farmers of the Dolakha District in the harvesting the nettle plants that grow in their forests. Himalayan nettle grows wild and abundantly in Nepal’s mountains at altitudes above 2000m. Nepalese have used it for centuries as food, fodder, medicine, and for making ropes, bags, mats and clothing. It grows in moist soft soil and it helps maintain fertility and preserve biodiversity. During intense rainfall, nettle ground cover slows water velocity and keeps the good soil from washing down. By preserving moisture in the soil, nettle helps preserve the surrounding ecosystem.
The villages in the Dolakha District primarily rely on farming crops and raising livestock to sustain themselves, but through the harvesting of nettle, which happens once a year, they can generate extra income during the off season and meet their families’ basic needs whilst also reviving the local economy.
Himalayan Wild Fiber™ mission is to ensure that farmers receive a fair price for the raw material, and that everyone involved in the supply chain is paid appropriately.
Here at Knit With Attitude we are incredibly proud to present Woven Beyond's first fully traceable and sustainable yarn collection showcasing French Merino D’Arles wool and Himalayan Nettle, and even with a dash of the Lotus fibre. By blending these fibres in various ways, Gloria has created a distinct yarn range that is not only visually stunning but also incredibly soft to the touch.
Allo Baby is a smooth yarn, in the fascinating fibre blend 70% Himalayan Nettle / 30% Merino d'Arles. It is silky and incredibly soft to the touch with a luxurious sheen, still it is grippy enough for the stitches to stay put on your needles. Allo Baby has a lovely twist that gives a well defined stitch definition. In a classic 4ply this yarn is suitable for baby garments and those close to the skin projects. We swatched the Allo Baby on 3mm needles and 3.5mm needles, both producing an even and lustrous surface, but what surprised us is how light weight the fabric is. Normally with such a large portion of plant fibres in the blend there is a risk of 'heaviness' and you will often knit on smaller needles to make a tighter stitch to prevent sagging. There is no sagging here, just a smooth flowy drape and a texture that feels like pure silk.
Of course we've been dreaming up projects for the Allo Baby ...
Mia Sweater by Cheryl Mokhtari (link to Ravelry) is a roomy sweater with a simple sleeve and side body design that can be worn for everyday elegance. The sweater is worked from the top down in classic raglan and the edges worked in twisted rib. Originally designed for a more 'fluffy' yarn combination, to reach gauge I would do this in the Allo Baby single stranded, and I believe the crispiness it provides will make the details shine beautifully.
We've been talking a lot about how perfect this yarn is for baby knits amongst ourselves, so we just had to include one of our favourites here. Tried and tested multiple times by the KWA crew, the Little Sister's Romper by PetiteKnit (link to Ravelry) is a firm go-to, and in the Allo Baby ... we're talking cuteness overload!
Another firm favourite here in the shop, you might remember both George and I working on this one last summer. Being well familiar with the Camisole No. 5 by My Favourite Things (link to MFT website), we are both very tempted to cast on again for even more luxurious versions in the Allo Baby.
Allo Baby's big sister in a heavy DK towards Worsted weight in the same proportionate fibre blend as its little sister. This is a quite unusual heavier weight for plant based fibre, the Worsted is achieved through a chainette structure which provides lovely bounce and airiness, preventing the yarn from becoming so heavy that it will sag. We swatched the Allo on needle sizes 4mm and 4.5mm and what we found with both Allo Baby and Allo, is that when working these yarns on smaller needles sizes you get a denser fabric but without the stiffness usually experienced with plant fibres like say cotton, maintaining the smooth silky touch to the skin and caressing drape. Can I also just mention that when swatching Allo in Garter stitch the result was incredibly crisp, I don't think I've ever seen Garter ridges stacked up so beautifully before (when knitted by me that is).
So for project ideas ...
I chose this little number of a cardigan as when I was swatching I was think to myself how beautifully the Allo would knit up as cables, the stitches are so well defined that any structure will pop beautifully. Khanyisa by Noma Ndlovu (link to Ravelry) is a simple cropped top down raglan style with three quarter sleeves. It’s a perfect garment to wear in between seasons and on cooler spring/summer days. In Allo the simplicity of the design will end up the centre of attention.
Another design from PetiteKnit, and yet another one originally made in fluff, and again I would absolutely love to see this in a shiny, sleek, luxury version. To reach gauge I would do the Stockholm Slipover (link to Ravelry) in Allo single stranded.
Blouse No. 2 by My Favourite Things (link to MFT website) is a simple, long-sleeved blouse featuring a boat neckline and lace structure pattern. The fit is slightly oversized with a dropped shoulder construction, where the sleeves are wide with a bit of extra length. Originally made in cotton, you do want some crisp to make sure the stitch structure is well defined, but the lightweight composition of Allo will also prevent the gorgeous eyelet rows from sagging. You want an oversized jumper, not a sack!
Bouclé is having its moment for sure, with more and more designers falling in love with the unique texture such a yarn offers. To make Bouclé at least two strands of yarn are combined, with the tension on one strand being much looser than the other as it is being plied, with the loose strand forming the loops and the other strand as the anchor or “core” yarn. It is crucial that the core strand is strong enough to hold the curl of the yarn, and so traditionally it is made using a synthetic fibre, often nylon.
As Bouclé is making it's way back into fashion Woven Beyond presents a plant fibre core which not only will maintain the texture of the yarn, but provides a glorious luxurious shine and feel. Lotus is a sacred plant in many cultures and is often associated with purity and enlightenment, but did you know it can produce the strongest, most durable, completely biodegradable and stunningly beautiful fibre? Crimp is made with 34% Himalayan Nettle, 45% Merino d'Arles, 21% Lotus, in a heavy Aran weight it is incredibly versatile and can be worked on a wide range of needle sizes depending on the textural effect you're after, my swatch below is done on a 6mm needle.
Seela Sweater by Jonna Hiatala (link to Ravelry) is one of those classic designs that can be worked up in any fibre really, as long as you reach gauge. It is a simple but essential staple piece of any wardrobe, but the reason I am recommending it for the Crimp yarn is that I just saw a version made up in Bouclé and it was out of this world beautiful!
Next up, and I don't think I need to explain why these two made my list. Bouclé Bear and Bunny (link to Ravelry), it is all in the name isn't it. These two lovely crochet characters were created by Stephanie Jessica Lau and are bound to find their way onto your hook in no time.
I have to admit, I'm not normally a huge fan of knitted bags, I often find them a bit flimsy and frilly if you know what I mean. But on my search for ideal projects for Crimp I found this one and I simply adore it, the Teddy Belt Bag by Joan Ho (link to Ravelry). The combination of texture between the bag and the strap, the clean design in combination with the soft texture, not to mention how practical it is - I'm sold!
Maplewood by Fiona Alice (link to Ravelry) is a sweater you'll move into and never want to take off. It is comfortable, interesting and oh so pretty all in one. Maplewood is a timeless, classic top-down design with a split hem and a lot of ease for a relaxed fit and style - make it in the Crimp and you can add silky smooth to the skin and dramatically stylish to the list as well.