I love fiber. The truth is, when I like something, I seem to have a deep and thorough appreciation. It’s not surprising that when it comes to yarn I am, by most people’s standards, a little over enthusiastic. I’ll be honest and admit that when I was a kid I thought all of my stuffed animals had a soul. In the same way, as an adult, I tend to look at different yarns and see their place and purpose. Even the cheapest acrylic yarns that one could get at Michael’s has some worthy purpose! While I have a hard time playing favorites, I do play games in which I ask myself things like “What are my top 5 favorite yarns?” and “If I was stuck on a deserted island and could only take one yarn to knit with, what would it be?” I’ve known my answer to that last question ever since I first knit with my Deserted Island yarn and I was recently surprised to see someone else refer to the same yarn as her own “desert island yarn.”
Arbor. Brooklyn Tweed Arbor is totally, absolutely and definitively my Deserted Island yarn. It is thoroughly delightful to me – from its concept and construction, to the way it feels on my hands as I knit with it, to how it feels when I wear it. I will never get tired of working with Arbor. Why?
Let’s start with its production. Arbor comes from sheep raised in the Montana and South Dakota. This particular breed of sheep is raised for its softness and durability. Milled and dyed in Maine, I love that this is an American made product from start to finish.
Arbor is a worsted-spun yarn with a lot of twist. This means that the fibers are round and springy, and feel like they are bouncing off your fingers and needles as you knit with it. When I knit with Arbor, I knit really fast and I feel like I could knit forever without any knitting fatigue – it almost feels like the yarn is having fun knitting away with me. It has beautiful stitch definition that lends itself nicely to textures and cable work. Of course this is an added plus since I love to cable and I love knitting in stitch patterns.
I have a couple sweaters and a hat made in Arbor – all that I’ve made. Particularly with the sweaters, these are the ones I tend to pack when I travel (as I pack sweaters sparingly since they take up tons of space in my luggage). Even in the summer, I love having one of these sweaters with me as it feels cool on the skin and seems to regulate my body temperature appropriately on a cool summer evening or a mid-day hike. By the way, wool is special in its ability to regulate body temperature: as body temperature rises wool transfers the heat long its fibers to cooler and dryer environments. These pieces have been incredibly durable, despite that I wear them a lot. They keep their shape and have been resilient against pilling and shedding.
Needless to say, there are countless projects that I want to knit in Arbor. Already having two wonderful pullovers, I’ve had Stacey Gerbman’s Kumon on my list since its release in late summer. This open, textured cardigan promises to be the sort of sweater I can effortlessly throw on over anything. Another lovely thing about this project is that it can help ambitious knitters learn and understand the concept of the brioche stitch without going all in. While the brioche stitch itself is easy and rhythmic, fixing mistakes in it is notoriously difficult. This is not the case with Kumon – which is half-brioche – you only do the brioche stitch every other row! All that said, Kumon will no doubt be a simple, relaxing and meditative knit – all amplified by the pleasure of working with Arbor.
The other sweater that was absolutely on my list is Tecumseh by Caitlin Hunter. One of our knitters (the awesomely talented Maggie) made her own in Arbor over the summer, and she inspired me to do the same. I’m going to change up my color combo a bit, but this sweater is a great example of how well Arbor performs doing colorwork!
Wallace is a great gift project. This textured scarf gets its look with a simple pattern of knits and purls. There are no fancy cables, just a little chart reading. Its texture is clean and angular, which it makes it particularly lovely as a men’s scarf.
Nolan and Foldlines are two textured, crewneck pullovers knit in Arbor that look particularly appealing to me. Easy shapes with distinctive lines mean they are great basics without being too basic.
Shear by Emily Greene is a hat (which can be knit as a beanie or watchcap), with strong angles that make for a thoroughly cool and modern lines.
Bevel is a mitered stitch scarf that allows you to play with color combinations and clean lines – again – another great piece for a man or a woman.
Another beauty is Svenson, a heavily cabled pullover. Originally written as a mens’ pattern, the sweater has just been reinterpreted so there are now versions for men and women. (The new women’s Svenson is part of the beautiful new Deep Fall collection from Brooklyn Tweed – more on that soon!)
We al have different needs and preferences in our knitting. Not just thinking about how beautiful the yarn is, but also considering how it feels to knit it, I’m so curious to hear about everyone else’s deserted island yarn! What are the qualities in that yarn that are important to you? Yarn lovers, let me know!
**We specifically decided to refer to this as a “deserted” island yarn – because several of us questioned whether we’d want to knit on a desert island.