Hello, it's Claire here from Flossi! When Rachel reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in writing an article for her blog where I talk about yarn, I jumped at the chance, especially as it wasn't just any yarn. Rachel asked me to talk about one of my favourite bases; Raincloud & Sage's Nord.
There are many reasons I love this yarn, and I'm going to tell you about them all in good time, but first, let me tell you a little about Raincloud & Sage and what attracted me to their yarns in the first place.
Raincloud & Sage came to be when Ruth Werwai asked a simple question; What happened to the fleeces of the sheep that grazed in her friend's backyard? That question snowballed into a business that would create some of the most beautiful and mindfully produced yarns around today that focus on sustainability and are produced as locally as possible.
It started with Origin, made from the fleeces of those same sheep Ruth wondered about that day. Then there was Homestead, a very special yarn where the fleeces were intercepted before being shipped overseas to be added to a wool-pool and eventually shipped back. And then, there was Nord. (You can read more about the story of these yarns on Raincloud & Sage)
As with Origin and Homestead, Nord has its own story. Ruth's business partner Marty relocated to Northern Germany, and for a business that had so far operated within a small radius in Central Germany, this move would mean a change was needed. Raincloud & Sage are at their best when faced with a challenge, and this was no exception. In Ruth's own words, "we decided to redefine "local" wool in order to embrace that change."
And so, after Marty connected with sheep farmers in his area, and Nord (meaning north in German) was born. They purchased the Ostfriesisches Milchschaf wool from a small hobby farmer/shepherd in North Germany, and the Merino came from a shepherd who has created a small collective where he gathers wool from other local shepherds in the villages of his area and helps them sell it rather than throwing it away.
The thought and love that goes into producing a Raincloud & Sage yarn is, in my opinion, very special. But the story behind Nord is only half of the reason I love it so much. Let's delve into the very fibers of Nord and find out what it's all about!
Nord is a 2 ply, woolen spun, fingering weight yarn. It is 100% wool, made from a blend of Merino (70%) and Ostfriesisches Milchschaf (30%) breeds. (please note the new blend for 2022 is 70% Merino and 30% Texel) As I have already mentioned, I love this yarn! But is it right for you and your next project? Let's take a closer look and find out!
Let's talk fabric!
Nord is a 2 ply, woolen-spun yarn, and if you are unfamiliar with the difference between woolen and worsted spun yarns the super quick explanation is this; the fibers in worsted-spun yarns are combed before spinning so they lay parallel to each other, whereas with woolen-spun yarns, they are left jumbled, trapping the air and creating a much loftier yarn. If you are interested in delving into this topic more deeply, Brooklyn Tweed has a fantastic article on it here.
The way a yarn is spun can have a huge effect on the final fabric of a yarn. I'm a huge fan of woolen-spun yarns as the haphazard arrangement of the fibers lend to a very light, cozy fabric with lots of body and bounce, and this is certainly true of Nord. Woolen-spun yarns also trap the air between the fibers giving you a lot of warmth even with a lighter weight yarn. I love that I can knit a super cozy sweater that I can also get under my coat!
One thing to be aware of though is if you are looking for a yarn with lots of drape, a woolen-spun yarn is probably not the way to go. This type of yarn tends to be light and lofty, and Nord is no exception. If you are looking for something that would give a little structure, however, then this is where Nord really shines! I designed the Reggie sweater especially for Nord, and the ability to get that structure directly influenced the silhouette.
The lovely thing is that you can get that structure without having to compromise on comfort. Reggie is knit on 3.5mm needles with a gauge of 21 stitches and 34 rows in 4 inches of Stockinette, and at this gauge, you get a lofty, cozy fabric that still moves. Be aware though, if you need to work at a smaller gauge than this, you will start to lose a little of the comfort. Yarns with little drape tend to feel stiff when knitted too tightly, so it's good to keep this in mind for projects with a tight gauge or something with a lot of chunky, complex cables.
Talking of stitches, Nord has a lovely stitch definition and works particularly well with lace, twisted stitches, and simple sequence repeats. Be wary though of very small, intricate stitch patterns. I did quite a bit of swatching for the mitten pattern I did with Nord, and I found some of the details can get lost in overly busy stitch patterns.
While we're talking about gauge, it's important to mention how versatile Nord is. As we know, Nord is a fingering weight yarn, but I would class it closer to a heavy fingering. This means while it works beautifully for fingering weight projects, it can also be used at a larger gauge and would work well for patterns calling for a sport weight yarn, or even on occasion DK weight. Remember to always swatch first though to see how you like the fabric!
Now, quick warning in advance, I'm going to talk about yardage. I know, not the most exciting topic, but stick with me! Nord has generous yardage; 383 yards (350 meters) in 100g. When we pair this with the versatile gauge, what you have is an extremely user-friendly yarn that is giving you a lot of knitting for your money. And that's a big deal! Knitting isn't exactly the most cost-effective hobby, and if like me, you are a fan of sustainably made, traceable yarns, you know that they can definitely be on the pricer side, and rightly so. It takes a lot of work, love, and expertise to create them, but it can mean they are not always accessible. That's why I was so impressed by Nord because one skein can go a long way.
Those colours though...
Perhaps one of the most exciting developments in Raincloud and Sage's work with Nord is the introduction of dyed colourways. Up until Nord's release, Raincloud & Sage had only showcased the natural colours of the yarns they were producing, except for a little natural dyeing from Ruth herself. As with all exciting additions, Ruth went about creating dyed options as thoughtfully and with as little impact on the environment as possible. Their dyehouse is located in Central Germany, and they work with very high environmental standards (certified ÖKO TEX Standard 100 Klasse 1).
Ruth carefully chose 4 core colours that worked perfectly with each other and the natural colour. This opens up so many possibilities for colourwork projects and something I was particularly excited about. I don't want to sound like I'm exaggerating, but this is the perfect yarn for colourwork. It knits up incredibly evenly and, being 100% wool, it's a very 'sticky' yarn, making it perfect for colourwork beginners. That stickiness would also make it perfect for steeking, so I can definitely see a full colourwork cardigan somewhere in my future!
So let's do a little straight talking. You know I love this yarn, but is it right for you? I'll be completely honest, if your happy place is super soft, fluffy, buttery soft yarns, then Nord is going to be out of your comfort zone. Nord is, for want of a better word, a rustic yarn. While it softens up considerable during knitting and with wear, if you have particularly sensitive skin or find 100% wool yarns 'scratchy', then I certainly wouldn't recommend your first project be a sweater worn next to the skin.
If you are curious to try it, but this type of yarn is out of your comfort zone, I would suggest starting small and knitting an accessory first such as a hat or pair of fingerless mittens. This will allow you to experiment a little!
Another option is to try holding Nord double with a 'floofier' yarn, something Ruth herself did recently for a sweater and I've been obsessing over it ever since! Pairing Nord with a yarn such as CaMaRose Månestråle or Biches & Bûches Le Petit Silk & Mohair will give your fabric all the beautiful qualities of Nord but with a softer handle and a gentle halo.
I hope you enjoyed this little insight into Nord and that you will consider giving this special yarn a go! If you are looking for a little project inspiration, I've put together some ideas below and you can also check out the Nord project pages over on Ravelry to see what other people have been knitting with it!
To celebrate Raincloud & Sage Nord's arrival, we have a set of mini skeins to giveaway! This beautiful yarn set includes five 20g mini skeins of Nord, one of each colour. For your chance to win, please leave a comment letting us know what you'd knit.
You can also double your chances of winning by entering to win on Instagram, by following us @tangledyarnuk and leaving a comment in our giveaway post!
The winner will be announced on Monday 25th January, both here and on Instagram. Good luck!
-------GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED-------
We have a winner! Congratulations to @greenrabbitdesigns, Vivienne entered via Instagram.
A huge thank you to everyone for taking part in this giveaway.