Black is the new black

Black is the new black

I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s in the air, but I am super into black right now. Every top and dress I imagine making, I picture it in black linen or black boiled wool. And every sweater dancing around in my head is knitted in black wool, as well. The thing is, black yarn ain’t that easy to come by. When I started in on my Black Anna (which is set aside for the moment), I got into a conversation with my friend Kate of Kelbourne Woolens (distributors of the Fibre Co yarns) about why there’s not a black in every line — too hard to make, or too hard to sell? The short answer is that nobody buys them, presumably because knitting with dark yarns is generally considered hard on the eyeballs. And maybe it is! But do we not all want the perfect black sweater — er, sweaters — in our closets? Maybe I’m in the minority, but right now I feel totally willing to sneak in rows during daylight hours or even turn up the famously dim lights in my house if the end result is delectable handknit sweaters in blacks and near-blacks.

So where does one find the yarn? Here’s a smattering of high-quality blacks:

– The Fibre Co. makes several: slubby worsted-weight Terra in a deep black called Coalwood, which is the black I’m using for my Anna; lace-weight Meadow in tweedy Black Adder; Canopy Fingering in Obsidian; speckly DK Acadia in Cormorant; and worsted, heathered Knightsbridge in Flintshire

– YOTH makes all of their yarns in an off-black color called Cracked Pepper, which varies slightly from base to base

Quince and Co has two blacks, both of which I believe are available in all of their 100% wool yarns: Crow is the blackest of blacks and Sabine is a heathery off-black (I used it for my sleeveless turtleneck — yes, I swear, the pattern is coming! — and leftovers hat)

– Brooklyn Tweed makes both Shelter and Loft in Cast Iron, also a tweedy off-black

Shibui makes all but one of their yarns — including Linen! — in what they call Abyss, the blackness of which varies with the fiber content and style from yarn to yarn

Woolfolk makes Far and Tynd in a true black (“Color 15”) and Sno in three different black marls

These are certainly not the only blacks out there (feel free to name your favorites in the comments!), but I also feel like black is endangered in the yarn world, so if you love it and want it to keep existing, put your money on it.

p.s. The new issue of Taproot has landed over at Fringe Supply Co., with a new sweater pattern by Carrie Bostick Hoge!

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Pictured, top to bottom: Shibui Maai in Abyss, Quince Puffin in Crow, Fibre Co Terra in Coalwood, Woolfolk Far in Color 15, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Cast Iron

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PREVIOUSLY: Camel-colored yarns

47 thoughts on “Black is the new black

  1. I bought enough black O’Wool worsted for a sweater about 6 months ago – can’t wait to find the perfect pattern for it. Maybe you can help? Love the talk of black yarn – Maybe it’s finally time to dig mine out and get something started! Would love to see some good black sweater patterns!

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  2. Thanks for highlighting these black yarns. Yes, I want multiple black sweaters in my closet. And yes, I find black hard to knit, catch errors quickly, in less than ideal light. Perhaps a goal of one by one replacing my existing black sweaters with hand knit ones would be in order. I could start with Green Mountain Spinnery, Mountain Mohair in Raven which is in my stash.

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  3. You read my mind (twice in one week too)!
    I’m completely coveting black knits too. Jamieson and Smith 2ply jumper weight is one of my favourites yarns and I have a cone of 81 (a heathered black) which is going to be a BT Gable to start. And I have one skein of Quince and Co Finch in Sabine that I got to swatch with. This’ll I’m hoping will be Amirisu’s Arrow. And yes can’t wait for your sleeveless vest pattern. Possibly black or dare I say charcoal! X

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  4. I wear a lot of black and knit with it occasionally too. What I think is tricky, is its hard to photograph, so designers don’t usually include it in their samples or publications, making it harder for knitters to match patterns or visualize their projects. I’d love to see more designers show patterns in black yarns if they could!!

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  5. I am working on the Mia cardi in Sabine right now and am wearing my black customfit scoop neck sweater (I used good ole berrocco ultra alpaca) . Knitting with black is harder on the eyes so I use an additional lamp – totally worth it though since it is so versatile a color to combine with other wardrobe pieces. Love this conversation.

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  6. Dream in color smooshy, Black Parade. And recently purchased some Malabrigo sports in black. And knitted some madelinetosh in onxy. I love your blog, and follow you on time every night here from Hong Kong !

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  7. I love love black yarn. I learned an awesome tip for improving visualization while knitting with darker yarns at a Churchmouse workshop; place a white linen tea towel on one’s lap. Instant, portable high contrast. Also works in the opposite situation. When knitting with something light colored and perhaps fuzzy when one wears mostly black, like I often do, knit over a grey linen tea towel. Less fuzz all over oneself.

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  8. I recently tried to order a big quantity of Cast Iron Shelter for a sweater for my husband, and they were out, so maybe that’s an indication black is on the uprise. It does seem like designers were doing less black for a couple of years …. but not now. Funny how that is. I once read that color trends had a lot to do with what is happening in the world, or was it specifically the economy … can’t remember. In any case, thanks for the black yarn recommendations, cuz it is hard to find.

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  9. Oh my, thanks for this list!!! I make a lot of hats in black wool for donation – perfect for men, who so often get overlooked when it comes to donation hats!! I’ll have to start shopping these options, and I so often default to big box store wool blends because I don’t know where else to look!!! Thank you!!

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  10. Love your list! I recently completed a blanket cardigan with MadTosh merino light in Dirty Panther and Shibui Silk Cloud in Abyss, held together. It is gorgeous, so soft, and black! One of my faves. I just purchased Woolfolk Far in black and am looking for the perfect pattern for it. Any suggestions would be appreciated. :)

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  11. I previously commented (during Slow Fashion October) about the fact that I really hadn’t knit many black sweaters despite it being a primary colour I wear. I’m currently using the Quince & Co Crow in a sweater for my son, and I ordered Woolful’s Hygge in Charcoal for another holiday gift to make. I’m also in the process of unraveling a black sweater made years ago that I never wear in hopes to make something I do wear. Yes, there is no substitute for black.

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  12. Anyone looking for breed specific wool can go to black Welsh Mountain wool for an undyed true black. Blacker Wool in UK usually has some. (I recently spun my own and am in love!) Also agreeing with a previous commenter re Jamieson & Smith undyed Shetland black, which is a rich brown/black.

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  13. I just sewed a black Wren Dress from Colette patterns and it definitely fills the hole of Little Black Dress in my wardrobe. I donated my one black sweater recently because it wasn’t my style anymore, so I should knit myself a new one. Having a pet that sheds makes it tough to wear black though!

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  14. Dyeing a black wool yarn is surprisingly easy. You can overdye any existing color successfully and as long as you use the right amount of dye matter to fiber, it’s as simple as dyeing gets. Follow the package directions and there you go! Depending on the effects you seek, presoak the fiber in water for solids or leave dry for heathery marled looks.

    This black wool love post is timely since I’ll be doing this very dyeing thing today! Those candy bright stash wools were not my best purchase moment but a nice simmer in the pot should fix it all up.

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  15. I’m making a pair of 70-yard mitts in Lark Sabine right now, and they look so chic! These are a gift, and I think I need to make more pairs as gifts and for myself! Sabine is a great heatherly/charcoal black.

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  16. omg I love black because I’m a goth knitter. I bought yarn for my first sweater and while I really really wanted it to be black, I went with a dark grey instead (q&co, lark, kittyhawke). will I regret it? probably not but I wish I went for crow instead!!

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  17. So glad you mentioned this! I’ve had black sweaters for myself in the back of my head for awhile, and I love to wear black, so I’m not really sure why I haven’t gotten around to them yet. Looking forward to it now!

    If I recall correctly, Tonofwool has at least one black yarn.

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  18. There is an Estonian designer who knits and designs mostly in black, all the emphasis is on the texture and shape rather than colour. http://www.ravelry.com/designers/anna-kuduja check out her projects to see more :)

    I find that it is easier to knit black in the spring and summer when there is a lot of light. I attempted black lace in winter and since it was quite complex I found it unmanageable. A few months later in spring it was suddenly easy-peasy since it was light :)

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  19. I have a loved few black sweaters – all of which are rarely worn since I began living with German Shepherds (Shedders?). So it’s charcoal heathers for me.

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  20. Karen, thank you for the discussion and black yarn links. There are a couple I haven’t been to before, so this could be a hazard to my THIN wallet.

    I, too, have BLACKitis. Black, magenta, white and saturated royal blue are my best colors. I am what they call a White Winter, with white hair acquired early in life from my maternal grandfather.

    Black and royal blue are a passion that cannot be explained. However, knitting or sewing with black are a major problem. I am best working in sunlight or under a very bright light with a white cloth beneath knitting.

    I have a LUSCIOUS cashmere (oh, YUM!) yarn on my needles, and just purchased enough royal blue to end up with two top down cardigans. I couldn’t be happier!

    Feeling sorry for all the knitters with shedding pets whose coat is the wrong color. Me? I’m my worst enemy with my MAGNETIC, easily knit white hair! HA!

    Here’s to BLACK ANYTHING!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

    MJ, the SKEINdinavian

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  21. I did a search of interesting black yarns for a recent blog post. I found Malabrigo Worsted Merino in Black and Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Onyx, among others. There is a great selection on the eat.sleep.knit website, where you can search yarns by color. Great tool !

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  22. My favorite black yarn is spun by Harrisville Designs. The color is Ebony it is a black and gray heather. It comes in Highland a worsted weight and Shetland a fingering weight.

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  23. Karen, I’m with you – and others – that black, charcoal, etc is a necessary color. In fact, you were the one who recommended Quince’s Osprey in Sabine and I had to scarf those babies right up from a fellow Raveler. It’s going to become a cardigan for one of my BFF almost Sisters. By the by, you also scarfed up Hole and Son’s darkest color and I had to buy the medium and lighter shades. lolol

    My homework today: comb through the comments and check out all the black options so I do **not** miss anything.

    I also just looked at some black Alpaca Tweed: Artesano Nebula. Colorway Slate. Considering this yarn for one of the recent lace patterns along with the color Majesty.

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  24. If you like black yarn you should check out Americo! They have so many amazing black yarns. One of my favourites is Pluma but they also have black in Alpaca Wool, Organic Cotton Merino, Pure Cashmere, and more. Black is one of the best colours for hand knits – so classic!!

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  26. Any yarn base by Hazel Knits (@hazelknits on Instagram) in the colorway “Quill.” I’m knitting socks from Wendee’s yarn now, the latest in a line that I’ve knitted with her yarns, and the dark charcoal is stunning.

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  27. I have been thinking recently that I need to knit a black sweater – though I don’t even own any black yarn at the moment. It’s funny the disconnect between buying ready-to-wear and buying yarn; black sweaters/tops are my absolute go-to and I wear them to pieces, yet I always buy colored yarn (in part I still succumb to what yarn looks like in the skein than how it will look knitted up, and how that knitting compares to everything else in my wardrobe).

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