A closer look at Daylights and Nightshades with Sarah Solomon, Director of Knitwear Design
Since these yarns are the focus of our upcoming collection I wanted to talk a little about what makes them so unique. In our last newsletter, I described these as my “dream yarns”––so what makes them so appealing to me, both as a knitter and as a designer?
First, I love the color palette. The subtlety and restraint involved in creating such an artful color array speaks to me on many levels. Because the color concept of Daylights and Nightshades is so striking, that is probably what people first notice about these yarns. However, I’d also like to share a bit about the yarn’s construction to demonstrate how it is distinctive as well.
At Harrisville Designs, we’re known for making long-lasting, durable yarns which often means that what you feel in the skein is not what you will feel in the finished garment. To provide lasting wear in a yarn you need to get just the right balance of fiber strength and spin, and it’s a delicate balance to achieve a hand-knitting yarn that will stand the test of time. For Daylights and Nightshades we wanted to create a soft and supple yarn with the tactile appeal that hand knitters love, but without sacrificing durability. We also wanted to support the wool industry here at home by sourcing from wool growers in the USA. These yarns are made from beautifully soft Cormo wool from Montana. Cormo sheep are a relatively new breed derived from the crossing of Corriedales from New Zealand with super soft Saxon Merinos. Cormo wool is a fine wool prized for consistent softness and even crimp, which adds bounce and elasticity to the finished yarn.
Matching fiber with the appropriate amount of carding and twist is the next step in designing a yarn. We wanted to preserve the pillowy texture of the wool but give it enough structure to resist pilling so we decided to use a 3-ply construction. More plies add more durability to a yarn as well as producing a rounded strand and additional drape, qualities that both play out in dramatic ways when you are knitting with this yarn. Adding plies also adds density, which can make yarns feel heavier, but because we use the woolen spinning technique in our production, which incorporates a lot of air into the strand during spinning, this yarn still feels incredibly light.
All of the properties combine to give the knitter enormous breadth in what can be made with the yarn. It will be soft enough to wear next to the skin for a hat or a cuddly scarf, but will still be an ideal garment yarn that will hold up over time. The added drape will give garments a more supple appearance and the lightness will make them extremely appealing to wear.
Woolen yarns trap a good deal of heat along with all that air so even though your knits will feel weightless, they will be plenty warm. The other advantage to woolen spun yarns is that they can be knit at a very large variety of gauges and still provide a workable fabric. Daylights and Nightshades are technically DK weight yarns, but they can be knit densely on a US 5 or 6 needle for a harder-wearing piece, or go up to a US 7, 8 or 9 for an airier, drapier fabric. The nature of the yarn will allow it to fill in when you block it meaning that whatever gauge you knit at, the fabric will always look substantial and balanced.
What this means to the knitter is that Daylights and Nightshades can work beautifully in everything from simple stockinette to colorwork to textures to cables, and will produce a piece of knitting that is destined to be a wardrobe staple. We’re looking forward to showing you all those possibilities in our upcoming collection.