Report from the Summer 2010 TNNA Trade Show
Columbus, OH
June 12-14, 2010

Twice a year, the far-reaching flock of the needlearts industry comes together for the National NeedleArts Market. It's the business playground for designers, owners of yarn companies and yarn stores alike, publishers, gadget-makers, authors, and anybody else who can obtain the credentials to get in. Deals are made, contracts signed, ideas shared, and connections forged. But most important, TNNA is where all the new stuff gets shown for the first time.

The summer TNNA showcases what's new for fall—and this year's line-up has more volume and variety than we've seen in several years.

Here's a high-level peek at what you'll be seeing in stores in the coming months.

Filatura di Crosa
Fashion is the New Novelty
In somewhat the same way you'd ask someone if she also saw the flying thing that looked like a UFO, people kept commenting to me about the insidious, phantom creep of the novelty. "Am I just imagining things," they'd ask nervously, "or is novelty yarn actually...coming back?"

The answer is yes—only it's being called "fashion yarn" now. For some vendors, novelty never left. Others, such as Filatura di Crosa (whose yarns are shown here), are carefully and skillfully reintroducing certain types of complex, manufactured yarns for use in high-fashion knitwear designs. (Translation: No more Fun Fur scarves. I saw very little eyelash either.) Whereas some of the most infamous novelty yarns of yore were made completely of synthetics, many of these new yarns contained high percentages of wool, alpaca, silk, and other natural fibers.

The British are Coming!
Novelty wasn't the only story at the show. Two new British yarn companies crossed the pond to make their TNNA debut. Fyberspates (whose yarn is pictured at left) already has a name for itself as a purveyor of limited-quantity hand-painted yarns and fibers. Now the company is venturing into the wholesale market with its own Scrumptious line of millspun, mill-dyed yarns. All the Scrumptious yarns contain 55% Merino and 45% silk, and they are available (from left to right) in DK, 4Ply, Lace, and Aran weights.

The Natural Dye Studio mini skein samples

Phil and Amanda of The Natural Dye Studio also made their maiden TNNA trek. Their tiny booth felt like the inside of a candy jar with Amanda's entire range of plant-dyed colors glowing from their fine fiber canvases of silk, baby alpaca, cashmere, and Bluefaced Leicester.

Schoppel Wolle Flying Saucer

And from Germany
Meanwhile, our German friends at Schoppel Wolle (actually Karin at Skacel) presented a most ingenious answer to a longstanding self-patterning sock yarn problem: how do you make sure that your two socks will actually match. The solution is called Fliegende Untertasse (or "flying saucer"), and it involves winding two strands of sock yarn, side by side, onto a disk. That disk is then injection-dyed with multiple colors to create a self-patterning sock. The kicker, if you'll pardon the pun, is that you can unwind the yarn, knit both socks simultaneously, and rest assured they really will look exactly the same.

Pico Accuardi Louie Love
Domestic Discoveries
Closer to home, Pico Accuardi Dyeworks warmed my heart with its very special and extremely limited-edition yarn called Louie Love. This Oregon creation blends 40% Columbia wool and 60% angora from their own rabbits, including a particularly large and friendly fella named Louie. They even showed brief video clips of Louie so that visitors could put a face to their skeins.

Lorna's Laces

Lorna's Laces previewed Honor, a brand new yarn for fall. The traditionally spun four-ply yarn knits up at 5.5 stitches per inch on US 5 needles. The real story is the fiber blend, a mix of 70% baby alpaca and 30% silk. The two fibers combine to create a faintly slinky yarn with solid underpinnings and a hint of halo.

Artyarns Ultrabulky

Beautiful Bulkies
Bumping up the gauge a bit, Artyarns added an ultrabulky weight to its line of multiple-plied machine-washable Merino yarns. Fittingly called Ultrabulky, the yarn is made of 7 two-ply strands of yarn (each of which would make a splendid lace yarn) that are plied together, creating a plush, spongy yarn that knits up with extremely clear stitch definition at 3.5 stitches per inch.

Prism Merino 12

Thought that was big? Prism previewed an even bulkier machine-washable Merino that contains 12, count 'em 12 two-ply strands. Its name, also quite fittingly, is Merino 12.

Even though this yarn has quite a bit more fiber than Ultrabulky, it has the same 3.5 stitches-per-inch recommended gauge. Yarn companies often err on the side of loose gauges to help each skein go further, but Prism's Laura Militzer Bryant clearly let her fingers dictate the final decision. The Merino 12 fabric at this gauge is perfect—dense, cohesive, and lively, like a well-yeasted bread dough after its final rise.

two new yarns from Classic Elite

A Very Old, New Eco-Fiber
Meanwhile, two new wool-based yarns from Classic Elite highlighted the power of contrasting companion fibers. The skein at far left is called Magnolia, and it contains 70% Merino and 30% silk in tender, adorable little skeins.

The heathered blue yarn at right is called Woodland, and it's the a new addition to Classic Elite's eco-friendly Verde collection. It feels distinctly different from Magnolia—not rougher, exactly, but earthier. That's because it contains 65% wool and 35% of a very strong, well-wearing, eco-friendly plant fiber. What could it be? Not linen, not even hemp, but nettles. And nettles are not a new, faddish techno-fiber invention, they've actually been used for fiber for almost 2,000 years. (And no, the yarn doesn't sting.)

Goknit pouch

Warm Fuzzies
Finally, few accessories prompted quite as much excitement as the new faux-fur Goknit pouches from Knowknits. The fabric is actually quite soft and silky. It weighs almost nothing yet, when filled with a project, takes on the feel of a cuddly teddy bear.

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