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Miss Babs Hand-Dyed Yarns & Fibers


Miss Babs herself is coming to our store this week!  Based in the mountains of Northeast Tennessee, Miss Babs loves bringing color to the world; she feels it feeds the soul.  We agree! Miss Babs’s range of color is indeed astounding, and she is continually developing new colors.

Miss Babs first Trunk Show (certainly not the last! ) will feature yarns we have had, plus a number of other bases you may never have seen before. She and her able assistant, Jen, will be bringing Yummy in Sock and Sport weights, Northumbria Fingering and DK, and Yowza---Whatta Skein!
Other bases include alpaca and cultivated silk blends in lace and DK weights – Alpacacita and Tierno, as well as her very popular Yet Lace.  Her Sojourn base is a cashmere and silk base that Stephen West used to design a two-color option for his Gyllis Shawl. She will be bringing sets in a number of colors for completing this lovely garment. 

They come in a range of her mind-boggling “monochromes,” semisolid colorways that hold their own and also compliment hand-painted yarns.

Yummy is a 2-ply, 100% superwash merino sock yarn specially milled for Miss Babs to give it a particular twist and ply, such that it does not require nylon or other reinforcement for extreme durability. It also has a lumpy-bumpy yarn face that flatters the colors, showing off the knitting’s richness with its hills and valleys, light and shadow. (7 to 8 stitches per inch on US # 1-3 needles, approximately 400 yards/3.9 ounces; machine wash and dry on gentle setting.)  

Yummy Sport is the same base as the Yummy 2-ply, but has 3 plies. It has a lovely face and wears well in baby garments, socks, hats, scarves, shawls, and sweaters. (4.5 - 6.5 stitches per inch, US needle size varies from 2.5 to 5 depending on your garment.)The Yummy Sport is particularly suited to textural work like cables because of it s plump springy hand.

Northumbria Fingering is a superwash Blue-Faced Leicester fingering yarn with a natural luminous quality. It takes dye beautifully and blocks nicely, making it perfect for light socks and other garments such as the small shawls that are so popular just now. (7 to 8 stitches per inch on U.S #0-2 needles, about 437 yards/100 grams; handwash, dry flat.)

Northumbria DK has all the same wonderful qualities that the fingering does.  The Blue-Faced Leicester takes color differently than merino yarns because the color of the fiber itself combines with dye to enhance the depth and vibrancy of the final color of the yarn. (5.25-6 stitches per inch on US 4-6 needles, about 240 yards/100 grams; hand wash, dry flat.)

Yowza---Whatta Skein! is Miss Babs’s light worsted go-to yarn, ready for anything from sweaters to scarves and shawls. A crowd favorite, Yowza is a great big ball of 100% superwash merino, soft and wearable against the skin, and although it is a versatile workhorse, it receives all the color attention of the other bases. With skeins that are always generous---at least 560 yards and 8 ounces---this yarn is a great value. (4 to 5 stitches per inch on US #6-8 needles; machine wash and dry on gentle setting.)
Alpacacita is a 2-ply lace yarn that blends baby alpaca and cultivated silk to create a yarn that is a pure joy to knit.  (8-10 stitches per inch, US 00-1, 800 yards, 4.3 ounces.) It is drapey and lustrous, and creates knitting that is hard to stop touching.

Tierno is a 4-ply DK weight alpaca and cultivated silk blend that creates wonderfully sophisticated draped sweaters and shawls.  (5 -7 stitches per inch, US 3 – 5, and 310 yards for 4 ounces) A friend of Mss Babs describes it to be like knitting kittens (soft!!!!!)
Miss Babs' Yet is her popular rustic lace weight yarn popularized in SusannaIc's iconic Annis shawl that debuted on Knitty.com a few years ago.  It is a 2-ply lace yarn made of 65% merino and 35% Tussah silk. It is soft yarn that is hardwearing.  MissBabs refers to it as a rustic lace because it has about 3000 yards per pound while true lace weights tend to have 5000 yards per pound.

Last of all, she will be bringing her new bases Cosmic, Hues and Heartland Worsted.  Cosmic is a fingering 3-ply blend of super wash merino and nylon that is beautiful for knitting durable socks.  Hues and Heartland are both non-superwash merino yarns.  Hues is a great go-to yarn for color work that you would like next to your skin. Heartland Worsted is delightful for traditional winter-wear such as scarves, sweaters, and hats with nice even stitch definition.

Miss Babs will be bringing many samples in to give us a taste of her color range and show how her yarns knit up: lots of onesies in all three bases, plus the hot Color Affection shawl in Yummy, the Derecho shawl in Northumbria fingering, a lovely Kira sweater in Yowza, and Hitchhiker shawls in a number of different weights including Yowza (although the pattern calls for sockweight yarn—a reminder to us all to think outside the box!).

She will be bringing 3-skein sets that are color-combination suggestions that can be used for the Color Affection Shawl, but also work for other 3 color combinations that have been appearing.  She will also be bringing some fantastic sets (an samples) that can be used for the Leftie Shawl from Martina Behm.   Note: Many of Miss Babs’ colors are reproducible, but some are not. One-of-a-kind skeins are called Babettes, and are marked with a hot-pink sticker.
It is true, as she writes on her website, that when you call Miss Babs to see what she is up to, she says, “I’m dyeing!” And no one dyes like Miss Babs! Miss Babs started her fiber career at the age of six, sewing and knitting first for dolls, and then for herself. Over the years she did quilting, knitting, needlepoint, rug-hooking, and silkscreening. Coming home to the Appalachian Mountains in 1999 she learned weaving, taught herself to spin, and felted handbags and rugs. “Most of all,” she writes, “I began playing with dyes in 2003 and have hand-dyed and hand-painted with Kool-Aid, acid dyes, MX reactive dyes, and natural dyes.” She has been dyeing fibers full time since 2005. “Many people have been on this path before me, and many will come after,” she says. “This makes me feel connected to the past and to the future.” So many colors to look forward to!