We’re still getting into the swing of things here with all the excitement that back-to-school brings but should be back to our regular blogging routine soon.
In the meantime, we were saddened to learn that Asti at Juno Fibre Arts will be closing her doors and no longer dyeing by the end of October. You may remember that we interviewed Asti back in the spring of this year.
Our lovely guest yarn reviewer Robynn has written us a review of Asti’s Alice Sock and we’re popping it up here in case anyone finds it helpful in planning some stash acquisitions with Asti’s final shop updates. More info on Asti closing her shop can be found on her blog, and the first shop update will happen on 25th September.
While we will selfishly miss Asti’s wonderful colour palettes and deliciously luxurious yarns, we offer her our support, and thank her too for having brought such loveliness into our lives and our knitting. We wish her well. Let’s help send her out with a bang, shall we? Over to Robynn…
Juno Fibre Arts: Alice
70% baby suri alpaca/20% silk/10% cashmere
400m/437 yards per 100g (also available in lace and DK versions)
Writing about Sokkusu-O, I mentioned that many indie dyers use the same bases, from the same suppliers, for their yarns. The words “more of the same” may have been used. Well, in case that sounded like a complaint, here’s an example of how a dyer can take that same, familiar product and create something deliciously distinctive.
Juno Fibre Arts – the one-woman dye business of Asti Johnson, who performs her alchemy in the idyllic setting of rural Devon – is one of those bijou artisan ventures that represent indie yarn culture at its best, with a small but perfectly formed range of yarns offered in special, small-batch colourways. Sometimes repeatable, often unique, it’s these colours – the manifestation of Asti’s very personal inspirations and aesthetic – that make the range stand out.
Having familiar bases, then, can actually be an advantage: if you already know you love a particular yarn when hooked by an exquisitely photographed Etsy listing, online shopping becomes that much easier. (And online shopping, of course, is pretty much essential. Apart from the occasional show – Juno made an appearance at Unwind Brighton recently – and even more occasional partnerships with select, privileged retailers, Juno is sold only through Etsy.)
In the case of Alice, the base yarn – the same as Fyberspates’ Nef, or Angel from the Natural Dye Studio, to name two – combines baby suri alpaca (suri being the premium alpaca breed, with longer, finer, more lustrous fibres) with silk and a dash of cashmere. It’s hard to imagine a more luxurious mix, and the yarn is spun with a gentle twist to maximise its natural drape and airiness. Alpaca is exceptionally lightweight, yet warm, so the result is absolutely heaven sent for shawls. Or light, lacy, cool-weather cardigans. Or ridiculously indulgent socks. You get the picture. It’s basically just heaven. So what does Juno bring to this already perfect yarn?
Now, this is a review with a bit of a difference. I haven’t actually had the pleasure of handling any Juno yarn in the flesh. None! Don’t you feel bad for me? I do. But don’t worry. This review isn’t actually based entirely on my familiarity with the amazing base yarn. Rather, I got my friend Mel, who has knit up a couple of Inspiration Knits samples in Alice, to tell me all about it.
From photographs, I noticed Juno seems to have a good line in dreamy, romantic yet non-pastel colourways (both semi-solids and gently variegated hues). So I had to ask: in the flesh, did they deliver?
“Yes absolutely they do, if not more so. The screen really doesn’t do them justice. I love the way it is very easy to pair up colours of her skeins for two-colour and three-colour projects. There are many combinations I would still like to try for Stay Awhile, such as Boudoir and Potpourri, or Boudoir and Touchwood. The colours seem to really match the luxuriousness of the fibres in the yarn. An air of subtle sophistication.”
Mmmm! Has any snuck into your personal stash, then?
“I really want a skein of Potpourri, for sure – it is on my Christmas wish list. And more Boudoir and Touchwood!”
Any special tips for working with Alice?
“I did have to go down a needle size from 4mm to 3.75mm so the fabric wasn’t too open.
“I wouldn’t knit this on a very hot day as my hands get quite sweaty and I do love the softer shades. I also tend to always wind into a centre-pull ball to avoid that rolling-over-the-floor effect.
“I tend to knit it on wooden needles, ChiaoGoo bamboos are my favourite at the moment, to give it a wee bit of grip.
“With anything this luxurious and with a serious ‘halo’ I would only hand wash. For minimum disruption to the fibres I always use Soak so I don’t have to do lots of rinsing with potential changing of temperatures and risk of felting. I always soak completely on its own so it can’t rub against other things – I am paranoid after my hubby kindly felted some alpaca/silk socks for me once!”
Lastly, make sure you visit Juno Fibre Arts on Etsy on 25 September for the first of the last shop updates.
Many thanks to both Robynn (and Mel!) for reviewing Asti’s gorgeous yarn. It will be greatly missed.