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New yarns for new styles

Have you noticed a change in the way Americans dress? Stiff, formal clothing is no longer in fashion. We look for clothes that fit our informal, active lifestyles. Fabrics are soft and supple to move with us.

The advent of garments made from Polarfleece and Tencel has signaled a major change in using synthetic fibers. Americans want easy-wearing, easy-care synthetics in both adults' and children's garments. To go along with changes in ready-to-wear clothing, yarn manufacturers are offering consumers major changes in yarns as well.

Synthetic yarns were originally produced to mimic natural yarns. The most familiar acrylic yarn is the four-ply, worsted-weight yarn that has a somewhat firm appearance and is often seen as a wool substitute. This popular yarn is a staple product used by many knitters and crocheters. It is considered to have good wearability as well as washability. It also creates excellent textural stitches and is available in many different brands and a wide variety of colors.

While worsted-weight acrylic will continue to be a staple, new yarns are offering needlecrafters increasing numbers of options. The new soft acrylics are the next generation of yarns. They are as durable and long-lasting as the standard worsted-weight acrylics, but create silky, more drapable fabrics and have been specially engineered to look and feel like silk and rayon _ or, some even say, cashmere.

These yarns are made from a combination of unique fibers and a special spinning process. Some of the brand names are: Lion Brand "Micro Spun," Caron "Simply Soft," Bernat "So Soft" and "Silky Soft," Red Heart "Soft," Coats & Clark "TLC" and TMA "Soft Creations." All those mentioned are worsted-weight yarns, except "Micro Spun," which is a sport-weight.

An added benefit of the soft yarns is their ability to take dyes well, allowing a wide range of rich, lustrous colors. Most are available in both solid and variegated shades.

Another popular trend that mimics Polarfleece is soft, thick yarn that can be worked on large needles or hooks. These yarns have texture and add dimension that makes them fun to work with even with simple stitches. Some of them are crinkled, making a boucle yarn. Examples of these yarns are Lion Brand "Homespun," Bernat "Soft Boucle" and "Illusions," and Patons "Melody."

No discussion of soft yarns would be complete without mentioning chenille yarns. These plush pile fibers are not new to the marketplace. What are new are the thicker versions that have recently become available. In the thick category, look for Lion Brand "Thick & Quick Chenille" and Bernat "Chenille."

For additional information on new yarns, including the soft yarns, visit learntoknit.com or learntocrochet.com. Links are available at the bottom of the main page for Bernat by Spinrite, Caron International, Lion Brand Yarn and Red Heart Yarns.

This isn't your

auntie's sweater

Young girls are no longer looking for sweet, romantic sweaters. This crocheted sweater with bright, gumdrop colors on a black background is a perfect example of a modern graphic style. The candylike striped accents are worked in teal, fuchsia and bright yellow. This pullover is available in child's sizes 4 (6, 8) with a finished chest size of 29 (34, 37) inches and is 15 (16, 17) inches long. It comes in high-quality Red Heart "Soft" in 100 percent Acrilan acrylic and is worked with sizes F/5 and H/8 (4.00 and 5.00) crochet hooks. Refer to kit HM890808. For the pattern only: Send $2 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Herrschners, 2800 Hoover Road, Dept. M, Stevens Point, WI 54492. To order a kit for size 4 ($15.99) and 6-8 ($19.99), postage included, call (800) 441-0838 (Dept. M) or send to above address.

Hints or questions of general interest will be used in the column when possible. Please send them to Nancy J. Thomas, in care of the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

1999, Universal Press Syndicate

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