An Overview of Anne Hanson's Bare Naked Yarns
For several years, knitwear designer Anne Hanson has been sourcing and shipping yarns for her Knitspot club. They tended to come from prominent hand-dyers, in exquisite colors, accompanied by original designs by Anne.
Then she decided to go deeper into fiber itself, launching her Bare Naked Knitspot club. This time, the yarns still came from other people but they had no extra color whatsoever. What you saw was what came off the sheep, plant, or pod. On a lark, she sourced and spun one special "house" yarn for the club. As we know, it doesn't take much to catch the bug. Now, Anne is expanding fully into the yarn market with her Knitspot Bare Naked Yarns.
They are bare naked in that they are exactly as you see them. Not a single drop of dye touches these fibers. All the nuance in hue is obtained through careful sourcing and prudent blending. All are sourced and spun in the U.S.
Here's a preview of four Bare Naked skeins.
Lace: Mrs Lincoln's Lace
Anne is perhaps best known for her extraordinary lace patterns. Letting her design an ideal lace yarn is like letting Chopin design his ideal piano. Mrs. Lincoln's Lace is a blend of 70% black Lincoln wool, known for its glorious staple length and strength, and 30% black Rambouillet, a preferred fiber for its exceptional bounce and loftiness.
Drape wins in this blend, while the Merino gives you just enough body to help the yarn hold your fingers so you can knit comfortably. Each 4oz skein holds 675 yards and retails for $36.
If I had to manufacture a sock yarn from scratch, it'd look something like this. Three plies of Cheviot wool—springy and strong—are plied together tightly into a well-rounded sock yarn destined to provide extraordinary stitch definition.
Study the yarn closely and you may notice slight variations in thickness, but knit at the tightness of a sock, it'll barely show up—and if it did, only by adding a slight earthiness to your stockinette. Each 4oz skein holds 450 yards and retails for $34. (And no, this isn't superwash.)
Here's where Anne really demonstrates her spinner's sensibility. Kent blends 60% Merino and 40% Romney in a springy two-ply yarn. The two plies are twisted at a slightly more relaxed angle that respects the more open, relaxed crimp pattern in the Romney—all while honoring the natural liveliness in Merino. Each 4oz skein holds 300 yards and retails for $31.
Fingering: Stone Soup
This is a fun one. I imagine Anne talking with the mill about what they have. "Alpaca?" she asks. "Yup," they reply, "and some Rambouillet. And of course the Lincoln, and we have some really nice Columbia wool. Oh, and some churro. Of course, if you wanted, we could also add a little of the shiny stuff. Hey Betty, don't we have some Tencel and silk sitting around?" Lo, a truly one-of-a-kind blend is born.
The Web site doesn't mention bison, but my skein also claimed to have a dusting of that too. All mixed together in a fine, springy, tightly twisted two-ply, each 3.5oz skein of which holds a generous 475 yards (my sample was 3.8oz and 450 yards) and retails for $31. It's got little nubbins here and there, spots where the twist is a little thicker and a little thinner, but for a yarn whose existence is so limited and fleeting, it's still fun.
The Knitspot Website lists a few more yarn options, for example, a puffy three-ply Corriedale and a sleek Mohair/Merino blend called Chévre. (The French major in me is compelled to point out that the yarn is formally listed as Chévre, but the accent needs to teeter in the other direction, as in Chèvre.) I expect Anne will pop more treats in the window as the months progress.
It takes a lot more work to spin yarns from scratch than it does to call a broker and have them ship combed top to a mill. But pretty much anything breed-specific has to be sourced the old-fashioned way. Which means smaller quantities. Which, in turn, is my way of preparing you for the occasional "Sold Out" note on the Knitspot site.
These are small-batch yarns, and when they're gone, they're gone. But don't worry, the sheep will always grow more.
Knitspot / Bare Naked Yarns