Posts tagged #Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhound & Windschief

Windschief by Stephen West is one of my favorite hat patterns; it works easily for both men and women, and it’s fun and quick to knit, making it a great pattern for last minute gifts.  The pattern also includes instructions to create a matching cowl, making the pattern even more valuable.  The pattern features ribbing on one fourth of the pattern, with the rest being stockinette.  I created our sample out of Norwegian Elkhound in Muddy Paws.

The pattern starts out with  1:1 ribbing, then goes into the stockinette on the rest of the hat, with the ribbing from the brim continuing up and angling with increases and decreases.  This is a pattern that is easily memorized, and uses measurements rather than row counts to determine when to continue on to the next section, which makes it forgiving for different yarns and gauges.  The main difference between the cowl and the hat is how the bind off is handled; with the hat, there are decreases until 8 stitches remain, whereas the cowl has ribbing to mirror the beginning of the pattern.

I’ve made this hat 3 times now, once with my first colored handspun yarn and twice with Norwegian Elkhound, and I am still in love with the pattern.  There are three sizes available in the pattern, and the pattern is available in English, Japanese, and German.  Find this pattern here!

This was the first time I had knit with any of my handspun, and it's my favorite hat!

This hat is also out of Norwegian Elkhound, in Bark Mitzvah.

Posted on July 9, 2014 and filed under Pattern Review.

Alternating Skeins: The Necessary Evil of Hand-Dyed Yarn

A common issue with hand-dyed yarns is that it’s sometimes very difficult to get two matching skeins, even if they came from the same dye pot. The first time I encountered this was when I was shopping at the yarn store in which I worked. We had some lovely hand-dyed sock yarn from a fairly well known company in stock, and I wanted to order a few more skeins of the same color for a larger project. When we got the shipment of new yarn, I was surprised to see a very noticeable difference in the two lots; the first lot I had ordered from was a darker red with orange and green while the second lot was a slightly lighter red with more orange and yellow and green. Both were beautiful, and I could easily understand how they are considered the same colorway. I also noticed that I saw minor differences in shade throughout the dye lot; some skeins were a little darker while others had the fall colors more evenly distributed. For that project, I chose skeins that were the most similar to each other, and was able to create a beautiful scarf with multiple skeins of hand-dyed yarn.

I now have the pleasure of being on the other end of the market, and I see exactly why and how hand-dyed yarn can end up with a bit of variety in each pot. There are an incredible amount of different factors that go into how a skein looks by the end of the dyeing process. The yarn takes dye differently depending on where it is sitting in the pot, how close it is to the heat source, the different chemicals that are added, at what time the different chemicals are added, how much water the yarn is floating around in, the pH of the water, other chemicals in the city water we use, and the phase of the moon. (Obviously the moon phase has little to do with dyes, but the underlying point is that there will always be an element of randomness to it, even with the best laid plans.) So what can we do about this issue while making our projects? We can alternate skeins!

I’m not going to beat around the bush with this issue: alternating skeins is a pain. It takes forethought, extra winding of yarn, and it means that you have to carry more yarn with you if you’re traveling with your project (and don’t forget the occasional untangling). On the other hand, if you don’t alternate skeins when it’s needed, it can mean that you will not be happy with your finished project that you spent hours carefully working on. Why risk disappointment?

I’ve recently been preparing to make a sweater, which requires around 6 skeins of Norwegian Elkhound yarn. Even when they were hanging to dry, it was noticeable that there were variations between the different skeins.

Skeins of Norwegian Elkhound In Running Dog Nebula drying after being dyed.

After the skeins are wound, it’s easier to tell which skeins have the most contrast to each other; Some are more pink while some have a little bit more blue in them.

When the skeins are wound into center-pull balls, it's easy to compare how the colors will be distributed.  You can see the bottom right skein is slightly more blue than the rest.

If we were to knit the two most contrasting skeins next to each other in a project, we would be disappointed in the result because it’s very obvious about where the first skein ends and the second skein begins.  By alternating the skeins, even with the stark difference in the first swatch, it’s difficult to tell that the skeins were all that different to begin.

The obvious half-way line shows where one skein ends and another begins.

It's difficult to tell that there are two different skeins being used because the colors are distributed more evenly.

How do I alternate skeins?

To alternate skeins, you will need to have two skeins of yarn from which you are ready to knit or crochet. If you’re making a flat project, work two rows, one row for the front and one row for the back with the first skein. If you’re making on a project in the round, work only one row instead.

Once you have worked back to your starting point, drop the yarn from the first skein and pick up the yarn from the second skein, leaving a six inch tail to weave in at a later time.

Work one/two rows until you return to the starting point, and drop the yarn from the second skein.  Pick up the first skein and repeat switching back and forth until you are done with your project.

Crude drawing of proposed alternating skeins method

If you’re working on a larger project, like the sweater I’m planning on making, you can start off working more than just one or two rows from the first skein so that the changes between the skeins are more gradual. I plan on knitting with about half the first ball before I start alternating with the second skein so that I won't suddenly have to switch from one set of two skeins to another set of two skeins mid project.

When is alternating skeins necessary?

Alternating skeins isn’t needed all the time with multiple skein projects. If you have two skeins of yarn that appear to match identically, it may not be worth the effort to alternate them. However, with hand-dyed yarns, alternating skeins is always the safest course of action to make sure that you won’t have to redo your project, or worse, hate your project when it’s finished.  

Have you ever had a project where you've been able to see the difference between ending and starting points of the skeins?

Posted on December 11, 2013 and filed under Yarn Theory.

Weight For It: Yarn Weights Explained

A number of people have recently inquired about yarn weights and associated meanings, so I decided it was time to dive deep into the topic and explain some things.  There are a number of things that are added on to yarn tags that don’t always provide useful information, such as icons from the Standard Yarn Weight System, gauge ranges, and recommended needle sizes.  I believe they are arbitrary pieces of information, and I will explain why below.

Standard Yarn Weight System

The Craft Yarn Council of America defined the Standard Yarn Weight System with 7 different size designations.  Each size (or weight) is assigned a name and a number:

0 Lace
1 Superfine
2 Fine
3 Light
4 Medium
5 Bulky
6 Super Bulky

Although most yarns from big box stores (Hobby Lobby or Michaels) have this notation on them, the fact that they have “standard” in their name is a bit of a misnomer.  Sadly, there is no agreed standard with anything regarding yarn, and the only truly useful piece of information for yarn weights is called wraps per inch, or WPI.  To measure WPI, you can wrap the yarn around a ruler (or similar measuring device) and depending on how many times it can comfortably wrap around the ruler in the space of an inch determines which category of weight it falls into.  In the spirit of loose standards, the restrictions of the categories can be subjective depending on the source.

Recommended Needle Size

Another thing that is commonly listed on yarn is the recommended needle size.  I’ve been asked by a beginning knitter a few times this week if she should buy a certain needle to go with the yarn she purchased.  I advised her to buy needles for patterns, not for what is recommended on the yarn.  Why is this?  Because a lovely ball of worsted weight yarn could recommend a size 8 needle, yet the pattern you’ve chosen asks you to use a size 6 needle.  I’m certainly not against collecting knitting needles, but it’s nice to be frugal when possible.  On top of the recommended needle size for the pattern, there is the issue of personal gauge with the yarn to keep in mind, which is a topic that will be discussed in a future blog post.

Yarn Weight & Ply Relationship

A third piece of information that can be often listed that can be a little confusing is the listing of a weight and then a number of plies.  An example from Ravelry’s search option shows exactly this.

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 9.10.32 PM.png

This references back to when factories were only able to spin one thickness of singles, but it could be plied together as many times as needed to get the appropriate thickness.  


A final piece of information that is more often seen on cones of yarn is a designation similar to the format “3/2” in regards to weight.  These are usually on yarns that are meant for weaving, and in the US 3/2 would mean size then plies, and to further confuse things, it’s the opposite in Great Britain.

Now, we will go through all of the different weights from thinnest to thickest that Fiber Hound carries, with some brief mentions of others.  

Basenji is 22 WPI

WPI: 18+
Ply: 1-2
Other Names: cobweb, crochet thread

Lace is the category in which very fine yarns are stuck in, which means there’s a fair amount of wiggle room for what could be considered a lace yarn.  Cobweb is the term used for extremely fine yarns that, much like their namesake, could be as thin as a spider’s silk.  The word “lace” is heavily derived from terms meaning net or snare, which brings to my mind lacey shawls.   Fiber Hound’s Basenji is on the relatively heavier side of lace, achieving a 22 WPI, while Saluki is a finer 24 WPI.

Italian Greyhound is 20 WPI

Italian Greyhound is 20 WPI

WPI: 14-22
Ply: 3-4
Other Names: baby

Many people use the terms “sock” yarn and “fingering” yarn interchangeably, but there can be a minor difference.  In regards to thickness, fingering weight yarns are a little thinner than sock yarns.  As well, when the term “sock” is associated with a yarn, it could be assumed that the yarn would be a good choice for socks; this is not always the case, and can be misleading.  The origin of the term “fingering” is derived from fingram, from the French fin grain, which means “fine grain”.  In relation to yarn, this could imply that it is a more fine weight of a yarn.  Fiber Hound's Italian Greyhound is the thinnest of the three fingering weight yarns at 20 WPI, Dachshund is 18 WPI, and the luscious Borzoi is 16 WPI.

Bluetick Coonhound is 14 WPI

Bluetick Coonhound is 14 WPI

WPI: 12-18
Ply: 5
Other Names: baby

The name of this weight confused me when I first saw it as I couldn’t understand what sports had anything to do with knitting.  While the name is not actually related to athletics, the yarn weight is preferred for “sportwear” and associated clothing. Fiber Hound's Bluetick Coonhound is 14 WPI.

Afghan Hound is 14 WPI

Afghan Hound is 14 WPI

WPI: 11-14
Ply: 8
Other Names: light worsted

DK stands for double knitting (or double knit), which is a reference to having two thinner yarns being plied together to make a thicker yarn.  There appears to be a few different anecdotes floating around in regards to the origins.  The first story is the yarn weight’s use in WWII, where factories in Great Britain frugally created size between sport and worsted that could “double” for either in the final product.  The second origin cites the weight being doubled up from fingering weight.  Fiber Hound's Afghan Hound is 14 WPI.

Norwegian Elkhound is 13 WPI

Norwegian Elkhound is 13 WPI

WPI: 9-11
Ply: 10
Other Names: afghan, aran

The term worsted finds its origins from “worstead”, the name of a village in Norfolk in which yarn and cloth were crafted.  The term often causes confusion because of the spinning term worsted (in contrast to woolen).  Worsted in regards to spinning means that the yarn is smoothly spun with the fibers prepared in a method that makes them parallel to each other. Woolen can mean anything that does not fit into the worsted category, and the resulting yarns are often much more lofty and fluffy.  Neither of these things matters when referencing yarn weight, but they’re important to know for context.  Aron  (pronounced Aaron) yarns are often considered being thicker than worsted weight yarns.  Fiber Hound's Norwegian Elkhound is 13 WPI.

You may have noticed that a couple of the yarns are also known as “baby”.  I have not yet discovered the origins of this, but I suspect the designation is an attempt to point customers into the idea of “this is good for baby garments”.  

I find the differences in yarn weights to be highly arbitrary and subjective, and if I had a say in anything, I would remove all the names of the yarns and go entirely by WPI, but I do not see that happening in the near future.  Each yarn company and mill has their own ideas of which yarns fit into what category which can cause more confusion for our customers.

If you had to choose one option to go by to sort the weights of yarn, what would you choose? Do you have a better solution?



Norwegian Elkhound & The Warm & Tingley Mitts & Headscarf

I recently had the pleasure to have knit from the Needles and Artifice collection by The Ladies of Mischief. The publication (from Cooperative Press) carries twenty-three beautiful patterns and has an ingenious layout: it's not just about the patterns, but also tells great stories to tie them together.

Gentle ladies and kind sirs: welcome to the world of Needles and Artifice, where corseted Victorian fashion gets an energized infusion of punk.
In this fantastically playful take on steampunk knitwear design, the Ladies of Mischief offer not only 23 original patterns, but also a high-flying, busk-snapping adventure that plays out across each chapter.
Pull on your goggles and spats, knitters: you’re in for a wild ride.


I was originally looking for a pattern for interesting fingerless mitts to knit a sample from Norwegian Elkhound (colorway Sirius), and came across the Warm & Tingley Mitts, a pattern from the collection.  The pattern was designed by Heidi Kunkel, who, besides for designing beautiful patterns like this, has an Etsy store featuring her amazing pottery.  

What made this a perfect choice for a sample is not only the beautiful cabling, but the fact that with one skein of Norwegian Elkhound makes two mitts and a headscarf and still have yarn left over.  In terms of yarn structure, the more plies a yarn has, the more round it is, and rounder yarns show off cables better.  Because Norwegian Elkhound is four plies, it makes beautiful cables.  What I did not yet know was the most important part: how ridiculously quick and fun this pattern would be!

I was able to knit both mitts and the headscarf within 3 days, which makes it a great pattern choice. for gifts; I'm sure if I had a dedicated day, I would have easily knitted all of them within 8 hours.  It's also extremely versatile because of how it's sized: the ribbing on both the mitts and the headscarf ensure that they will fit most, if not all adults.  The pattern recommends a size 9 needle, gauge depending, and worsted weight yarn.

The mitts start off with a 2:1 ribbing, then go into the cabling chart.  There's no written version of the chart in the pattern, which, since I prefer knitting from charts, was fine.  The bind off was a picot bind off, which creates a surprising and fun texture at the edging. The thumb is called "an afterthought" in regards to the technique and is added after the mitt is completed. 

The headscarf starts off with a normal cast on and features short rows for shaping the garment.  The short rows in this pattern don't come with the normal "wrap" instruction; rather, they purposefully leave holes in the fabric for a button.  The cabling on the headscarf coordinates with the cabling on the mitts, but isn't exactly the same.  The difference between the two cable patterns is that the headscarf pattern has the design wider, which better fits the wider garment.  The final addition is a button, which is always the most fun to choose.

This set of patterns was a tremendous amount of fun to make, and knitting it with the Norwegian Elkhound was a treat!  I had only done swatches with that yarn before, but the soft, squishy texture and beautiful stitch definition made me not want to put it down.  I've always selected my yarn bases carefully, and it's rewarding to finally knit a full-sized garment with them and find that I absolutely made the right choice.


How do you decide what yarns to use with which patterns?  Have you ever made a really bad choice, or an absolutely perfect one? 




Announcement:  Fiber Hound is now going to be sold at its first yarn store, Rêverie~Yarn, Décor & Gifts!  The store is located in Goshen, Indiana, and is around 40 minutes from the Fiber Hound dye studio.  I'll be sharing more updates about when there will be stocked there soon!  For better updates, don't forget to follow Fiber Hound on Facebook!

Posted on July 3, 2013 and filed under Pattern Review.

Yarn Bases of Fiber Hound

Within the past week, I launched the Bases page after finishing the samples made from each type of yarn.  Just as I did with the Colorways page, I made individual knit, crocheted, and woven samples of each yarn base in order to show customers how the different yarns look and behave.  Now that it's live, I'm excited to tell you more about each of the different yarns Fiber Hound has to offer.



Basenji is a lace weight yarn made out of 100% superwash merino. This yarn is a 2-ply yarn which is loosely piled, creating the opportunity for gently draping fabric. Although the fabric it creates appears delicate, it’s actually quite sturdy, and is a perfect choice for shawls, sweaters, or other lacy projects.


Saluki is made from 55% superwash BFL and 45% Silk, and is lace weight.  BFL stands for Bluefaced Leicester (pronounced Lester), and is a British wool that is remarkably different than Merino.  Raw Merino wool is extremely crimpy, while raw BFL is a straight, curly lock.  Light reflects better off of straighter wool, therefore when combined with the sheen of silk, Saluki is the shiniest of all the yarns Fiber Hound currently carries.  The ply structure is similar to Basenji, having two plies and a luxurious drape.  Saluki is great for both extra special projects as well as everyday items, like lace garments and shawls.

Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound is a fingering weight singles yarn that is 100% superwash merino.  It is gently spun, creating a soft fabric that has fantastic stitch definition.  Because it has only one ply, it’s not a good choice for more heavy wearing objects such as socks or sweaters, as it will easily pill.  It’s a great yarn for cabled projects, shawls, and hats, where its special characteristics will be most effective.


Dachshund is a tightly 2-ply fingering weight yarn, featuring a sturdy mix of 80% superwash Merino and 20% nylon.  It makes an incredible choice for socks, as the nylon content and tighter ply makes the fabric very strong against the aggressive wear of feet.  Because this yarn is a 2-ply, there is a lot of texture in the final fabric.  This yarn is great for socks, shawls, sweaters, and pretty much everything else!


Borzoi is a very special yarn, featuring 80% superwash BFL and 20% Bamboo.  The combination of these two fibers creates a magical yarn, which has a sheen similar to silk.  Because bamboo is a plant fiber, it does not absorb the dye in the same way that animal fibers do, and if you look closely, you can see a whitish haze surrounding the yarn.  Because bamboo is a renewable resource, it also makes this yarn more eco-friendly.  Borzoi has four plies, which makes it great for cables, socks, sweaters, and shawls!

Bluetick Coonhound

Bluetick Coonhound is a uniquely constructed sport weight yarn, created from eight plies that were chain-plied together.  To chain ply a yarn, previously plied yarns are then plied together; in this yarn, four 2-ply yarns were plied together to create a super round, springy yarn.  It’s made of 100% superwash Merino, and is fantastic for cables, sweaters, and socks.

Afghan Hound

Afghan Hound is a 4-ply yarn that is 50% superwash Merino, and 50% silk, creating a DK weight yarn that creates a very smooshy and luxurious fabric.  While this yarn doesn’t have a sheen as bright as Saluki, it will be very obvious you’re working with something special.  It’s a great yarn for sweaters, hats, and mittens.

Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhound is a 4-ply 100% superwash Merino yarn that is very hard wearing, but still soft and squishy!  It’s tough enough to be great for outerwear sweaters, but soft enough that it can be worn against sensitive skin for scarves, mittens and hats.  The stitch definition makes it great for patterns with cables and texture!

Making all of the different swatches took a lot of time, but I think all of this effort for the swatches has really paid off.  I feel it gives visitors to this website a special look at how the yarns can react in different formats, as well as a better way to see which yarn is the best fit for any project.  

Which weight of yarn do you prefer working with?  Do you tend to gravitate towards heavier weight yarns, or lighter weight?  Is there a particular fiber you simply love, or refuse to work with?




Dwight, unlike cats, apparently does not like being in boxes.