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Meet our new base...Brawn

Guys, I'm so excited to tell you about a new base I'm trying out in the shop!  Our new base is called Brawn and it's the perfect blend of strong and durable, and very soft and fuzzy.  This Non-Superwash fine Merino Wool base will be your new workhorse yarn.  There's nothing like having that perfect "go-to" non-superwash yarn, is there?  Want to know more about how I choose a new base to sell in the shop?  I'm going to tell you all about the new base and my process for deciding...

Shown above:  Enter the Dragonfly on Brawn base


I'll be offering an extremely limited amount of my NEW base Brawn so I can see what the response is.  Brawn is an Aran/worsted weight. For now, this will only be available on four of the spring colorways. So many of you have asked me about non-superwash yarn, and I'm really excited to be able to share Brawn with you and see what you guys think!  Each 100 gram skein offers 181 yards (166 meters).

Two swatches of knitted fabric, side by side on a table.

Above:  My swatches of Denim Expert on Brawn, ready to be measured


When I decide to add a new base to our offerings, it is quite a lengthy process.  Naturally, I had to test out different non-superwash bases to see which I like the best, in terms of yardage, the hand of the yarn, the supplier, availability, etc.  After I come up with a contender (or 3 or 4, as the the case can sometimes be) I have to dye it up.  Yup, I dye the options in a colorway that I know and love, so I can compare the way the potential base takes the color and behaves to the way my current bases do.  This is important.  I never really test a new base with a new colorway recipe.  It just makes more sense to me to use something I'm very familiar with and that I know exactly the way it "should" look.  There's still room for a base to look different than another base with the same dye recipe, but it's good to have a baseline.  You'll notice that non-superwash wool takes color very differently than superwash wool does.  This is totally normal, and expected.  Colors appear much paler and more muted on the Brawn base than my superwash bases.

The Royal We colorway shown on three skeins of non-superwash wool in the Brawn base

Above:  The Royal We on Brawn base--notice how much lighter it appears than my superwash bases.


I might try at first with a single skein, just to see how it behaves.  After that, I always do the test dye on the regular size dye lot.  Why?  Well, sometimes yarn--and dye--behaves differently in a more crowded pot than in a less crowded one.  I need to be sure I'm comparing it as closely to the normal results as I can.  Once I've dyed up some samples, I decide whether I like how it behaves in the dye pots, how it looks and feels after being processed, and the overall end result.  At any point up to now, I might scrap a base, and I often have.  In the end, I want to be sure I'm putting out a product that I personally love and love to use.  The base needs to be one I can put my name on and stand behind 100 percent.  So far, so good!

So what's next?  Now that I have base I love and I'm happy with the way it dyes, I need to be sure it's a base I'd happily use myself.  Who wants a yarn that looks amazing in a skein, but doesn't meet expectations when you use it?  Nobody, right?  You might have guessed that the next step involves me using the yarn.  This might be knitting or crochet, but I always use a new base before I will consider selling it.  It's important to handle the yarn, check if it's "splitty" or too slippery or too grippy, see if there are knots or flaws in it.  Have I ever used yarn at this point and then decided it's a no-go?  Of course I have.  Not all bases are created equally.  In this case, I have been testing the Brawn base by making a sweater, the Flax by Tin Can Knits.  Is it a lot of work to knit a sweater to test out a yarn I might or might not carry in the shop?  Yeah, but it's worth it.

Knitting on the flax

Above:  Knitting a full sweater allows me to test the base in-depth and intimately. I wouldn't feel great about selling it if I wasn't 100% sure I love it myself.


While knitting the Flax, I spent many, many hours using the yarn.  I wound numerous skeins, and used 7 balls of yarn.  By now, I know if it has flaws, or if it pills a lot.  (It doesn't.)  I know if I like the way it is skeined from the supplier.  (Yup, no issues.)  I know if it blends well from skein to skein.  (It does, but I always recommend alternating skeins just to be safe.)  After knitting a whole adult sized sweater, I know for sure that it's up to par and that I love this base.  If I didn't, I wouldn't sell it.  And that's it.

Finally, I need to wear the garment, stretch it, wash it a couple of times, and you know--live in it a bit.  That's how you really know if the yarn is everything we need it to be as makers and fiber artists.  So that's how I do things.  It means the bases I offer are ones I truly stand by, and I'm confident you'll love them too.  I'm thrilled to tell you that the Brawn base totally held up to all of my tests!  I adore it, and I think you definitely will too.

Stay tuned for Finished Object pictures of my Flax.  I got so excited to offer the base to you that I forgot about a FO photo shoot and started prepping yarn for the shop update!  I hope you enjoyed this inside peek into how we choose yarn bases and how they make the cut.

Comments (2)

  • Molly on August 29, 2020

    Oh you know I just about fainted after seeing The Royal We in that base. It’s gorgeous. Can’t wait to see the results of your experimentation.

  • Joan Clarke on June 16, 2020

    This was SO informative and interesting!! A lot of work goes into making an Executive Decision like this. I’m sure this info will ease customers’ concerns about your products.

    I got a chuckle when you discussed how the yarn “behaves” in the dye pot!!! I’m assuming that you’re looking for no bullies and yarns that are welcoming and play well with others? LOL

    Great blog Jill. Thank you. And thank you for doing all that work for us! Joan

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