Saturday, October 30, 2010

Customer Project - Creative Modifications

Did you know you don't always have to follow the pattern? Sometimes it's fun to go off course and make some changes.

The other day we saw a beautiful modification of our very popular Hexie Baby Blanket pattern.
The original blanket was knit in the Jojoland Rhythm Superwash yarn and the striping sequences really make a dramatic effect in the separate hexagons.

Our customer Mary Ellen brought in her modified version of the blanket knit in Kertzer Marble yarn. This yarn is also an easy care yarn that has some dramatic color effects.

Mary Ellen was creative. She chose two colors that worked very nicely together and knit up several hexagons. She made 2 additional pieces and arranged them in a different pattern than the original blanket.
Not only do the colors stand out in a different configuration, but the finished blanket is a different shape.

Well done! We all loved it!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Free on Friday

I just LOVE this week's free pattern. In fact, I love it so much, I've already modified it for a different yarn!

Last week we got a huge shipment from Malabrigo that included 2 new yarns - Rios (a machine washable worsted merino) and Rasta (a super bulky merino.) I grabbed a skein of the Rasta and some big needles and did a quick search on Ravelry for a free pattern that I could whip up.

I found the Instant Gratification Scarf. And instant gratification, it was!
I used 12 stitches and size 13 needles and was finished with this scarf while my daughters watched a movie with some friends. It's basically garter stitch with an extra twist that elongates each stitch. Try it!

I was so in love with the mindless nature of this stitch that I applied it to a much skinnier yarn on much smaller needles. This was my trip knitting from last week. It took one ball of Noro Sekku yarn, size 4 Addi Turbo Lace needles, and 75 stitches. And it rocks my world! Because of the incredibly stretchy nature of this stitch and the yarn, it works as both a scarf
AND a small shawl. What a great project for one skein of lace yarn. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Desperation leads to creativity

I don't know about you, but this time of year is always a little overwhelming for me -- but in a good way! Like a lot of knitters, I'm gearing up for the holiday season, as well as trying to get some projects for myself finished up before the truly cold weather hits. Sounds good so far, right?

Well...As some of you might know, I love tiny, tiny needles, and big, huge projects. This is usually not a problem, because I try to have just one big project going at any given time, and I can always knit on some smaller things in the meantime.
That's how I normally do it.

However...I just learned to crochet. And it's been taking over my life!! I'm deep into two different afghans, the Wool-Eater (in Cascade 220 and Malabrigo Twist)
and the Greenway (in Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica and Rittenhouse), and the end is nowhere in sight.

Not to mention the seemingly infinite stockinette stitch of my Featherweight cardigan in Malabrigo Lace.

And so, after kind of a long day at school (I'm in the middle of the semester, too!), I was seriously craving some instant gratification. So I grabbed a skein of Berroco Campus, headed home to whip up a hat, and was horrified to discover that I don't have any 16" or DP needles in US 10, 10.5 or 11!

I was desperate to feel the satisfaction of finishing a project, and so I got out my set of interchangeable needles. It comes with two US 10.5 tips, each of which I attached to its own cable. To the other end of the cable, I attached a size US 7 needle tip. Then, I was able to knit my hat using the 2 circular needle method (always knitting with the 10.5 in my right hand, and the 7 in my left).

It feels so good to finally have a finished object, I might wear my new hat all day!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Customer Project - Lickety Split

Boy were we impressed with Wendy when she waltzed into the shop last week wearing her Rafik sweater. Didn't we just let her know that the backordered Berroco Remix yarn she'd been waiting for was ready to be picked up a few days earlier?! Talk about quick knitting skills!
She came in with a mission: she needed to pick out f to replace the brass pins you see carefully placed as per the pattern instructions down the button band. Just in time for cold weather here in Vermont this year. We are glad she was so excited to share this project with everyone here.

And she should be excited! Not only does she have a cuddly new wardrobe essential but the Remix yarn is environmentally friendly, too. (If you missed that, check out Jill's earlier blog entry.)

The Rafik Sweater pattern is available in Berroco Book #303.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bertie Bott's, trip knitting and other uses for knitting tools!

We took advantage of a school break last week and some frequent flyer miles and headed to Florida for a few days of fun in the sun. After a quick stop in Orlando to visit Hogsmeade & Hogwarts, where we sampled Butter Beer, visited Olivander's Wand Shop and dined at the Three Broomsticks, we headed south to stay with some good friends in Miami. There, we hit South Beach, went out in the boat and sampled some of the freshest and most delicious seafood. Yum!

Side note: Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans are the perfect entertainment for kids! (Okay, and adults, too!) We took some to our friends in Miami and it was too funny. Sampling these jelly beans one by one, waiting to see if the flavor is good or awful, and then trying to figure out what the awful flavor was... hysterical. Thankfully I only got a few bad ones - soap and what tasted like lemon pledge and sap. Fortunately, the kids got all the terrible ones - vomit, earwax, dirt, etc. Fun fun!

I packed two knitting projects for the trip. One was a lace-weight project with Noro Sekku, and the other was a hat in the new Malabrigo Rasta. I'm not a big fan of lace-weight yarns, but since we had a 3 hour layover at JFK (yay, frequent flyer miles!!) I started that project first. I won't divulge the pattern here because you'll see it this Friday on "Free on Fridays". I can say
that it was my first project with lace-weight yarn where I opted to use the Addi Turbo Lace Needles.

These needles were just fantastic to work with! The points are incredibly pointy (without hurting my fingers) and the needle surface is just grippy enough that the teeny-tiny-skinny yarn did not slip. I will go so far as to say I enjoyed knitting with this yarn - and that's a complete turnaround for me. It just shows you how important the right tools are. Here's a preview of the scarf, straight from South Beach.
(That's Marc teaching Helen how to boogie board in the background.) It's almost finished, too. Just a few more rows to go and you'll see it on Friday.

My Rasta and Brittany double pointed needles saw no action. They were just along for the ride. I did learn that Brittany dpns are versatile tools though, and can be used for non-knitting related activities! Our flight from Miami to JFK was delayed, so we were put on another plane that should have given us plenty of time to make our connection to Burlington. However, things did not go according to plan, and we ended up sprinting what felt like 2 miles to our connecting gate, running past people on the
moving walkways, screaming "On your left!". We arrived just seconds before they closed the door to our plane.

When we got into our seats on the minuscule plane, it was 8pm, and we had not eaten since 2:30pm. (Bad planning mom, I know!) I had purchased some of those (super healthy!) Cinnabons in the airport, but had forgotten silverware. Those things are certainly not finger foods, but at this point, we were starving. Those small planes don't even have silverware, and so I searched my backpack to see what I had that could possibly assist us in eating the messiest meal possible.

Thankfully, my Brittany size 13 double pointed needles did the trick! I used one as a knife to cut the Cinnabons into small pieces. Sophie and Helen each used one as a fork, and Marc used 2 as chop sticks.
Our tummies were satisfied, and the needles received a good cleaning when we arrived home, and they're good as new. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do!

She's baaaaack! Manic-In Monday

It's been a long summer for our gal. She took quite a bit of time off. Next year she's going to have to get it approved from management - I didn't realize we were handing out such long vacations around here!

Anyway, she's back, and she's certainly making a statement in this vest. This was by far the favorite sample from our recent Berroco Sample Night at the shop. By seeing everyone try it on, we realized that it looks great on everyone. And, it can be worn open, with a shawl pin and even belted. So two thumbs up for versatility!
Our mannequin opted to wear it with a stick pin. (If you haven't seen our redesigned shawl pin and stick pin pages online, check out! We have some great new choices for this fall and winter!) Her bag is a fun one - it's a new drawstring pouch from Lantern Moon that's coming in limited edition fabrics.

Pattern: Dickens Vest, in Berroco Book #298 Blackstone Tweed & Blackstone Tweed Chunky
Berroco Blackstone Tweed Chunky in color Ancient Mariner - #6603
Stick Pin:
Crown Tip Rosewood Pin - just $8!
Bag: Lantern Moon Swing Bucket Bag in Blue

Here's another image from Berroco - this time belted.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Free on Fridays

We're always looking for great free patterns to share with our customers, so we're going to start sharing some with you each week in our Friday posts, and we'll call them "Free on Fridays". (At least that's the goal... remember Mannequin Mondays? Well that's coming back... she took quite the summer holiday!)

So today's free pattern is Spry, which is a current freebie on I just finished it recently, and it was a really fun pattern to knit. See, I really love sock yarn. Love the great selection of variegated and self patterning yarns out there.

But I confess... I'm not really a sock knitter.
I like the process of making socks. But I am not a hand knitted sock WEARER. (GASP! I hear the shocking inhalations out there!) I'm pretty picky when it comes to footwear. I have a specific sock I run in, a specific sock I snowboard in, and a specific sock I wear each day, from fall to spring. And none of them are hand knitted.

But just because I don't like wearing hand knit socks, doesn't mean I can't enjoy all of the great sock yarns that are available. So the Spry beanie really caught my attention. One: I could grab a ball of sock yarn that I'd been admiring (Berroco Sox) and two: it's intarsia! So another chance to brush up on that skill, which I use, but not often enough, so a little practice would be perfect.
And voila!
The finished hat. Very cute! And quick. And easy. If you're not a small needle knitter (although the body of this hat is actually worked on a 5 US...) the pattern is also written for worsted. And Noro Silk Garden, Noro Kureyon and Plymouth Kudo would all be lovely!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Scarves & Stripes

Since I've been working on sweater knitting at home I have another project that goes with me wherever I roam these days to keep me busy. One day last week, it was so pretty out that I stopped along the way to sit and do some outdoor knitting. Even the cows showed an interest! This is a 1x1 ribbed scarf in two colors of Noro Silk Garden. I've been getting lots of compliments on it as I knit. I have a feeling I will be getting requests for this and I think it will make a stunning gift for some of my friends. There are so many color combinations to explore for this one! If you're looking for more information on this project check out Jared Flood's blog.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Log Cabin is almost complete!

So I've been working on the Log Cabin Baby Blanket in Berroco Comfort DK since last spring. I've obviously not been too diligent with this project, but recently I picked it back up and cruised through the last 6 squares. There are lots of ways to piece it together, but after lots of deliberating, I went with this layout: Last night I got the kids to bed, and sat down to seam. The only problem was, I've misplaced my pattern! I can't find it anywhere. And wouldn't you know, we're out of it at the shop. So I went on Ravelry, looked at a few finished items, and started what I "think" is the way to seam this.

I am using a 3-needle bind off to seam the squares into strips. Then I'll use 3-needle bind off to seam the strips, and then pick up on each edge and work 10 rows of garter stitch.
It's looking great so far, and I'm planning on using the red for the outer border. This was a fun project, if you don't mind weaving in a lot of ends! Twelve squares is perfect for a baby blanket. Best part is, it only took 8 skeins of Comfort DK, which is just $28! That's a great price for such a cute blanket.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Sweaters for 2010

I recycled my sweaters. Yep, I took all but one of my hand knit sweaters and bundled them off to Goodwill. Even the very first sweater that I knit! Don't worry, these sweaters weren't fitting me as well as they used to and the I just didn't wear them enough because I was feeling the need to reinvent them all. Now someone else will have these sweaters to keep them warm this fall.

Unfortunately, it leaves me with quite a sweater void in my closet. And since I'm a knitter, that isn't good. So this is the beginnings of my first sweater for 2010. I am using the same pattern that I used for my very first hand knit sweater - the Yankee Knitter Roll Raglan pattern (#21).**
I also LOVE the yarn that I'm using for this sweater... Berroco Blackstone Tweed. I've been eying the new colors of this yarn that recently arrived, and I'm thinking I might have to make another sweater out of it. Because now I have a void to fill, remember!

**This is the same pattern that we'll be using for our Knitting A Sweater for the First Time class that is fast approaching! If you want to try your hand at knitting this, there are still a couple of spots left. And don't worry! We'll tackle a much smaller child's size sweater in class so that after class you'll be all set to go for a sweater of your own.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The End(s) are in Sight

Embarassing as it is to admit, I finally bound off my large surprise summer project weeks ago. But, too late to make an actual appearance at the wedding. As you can see it is off of the needles and now all I have to do is motivate to weave in all of the ends! When it is truly finished I'll take more photos before wrapping it up to give away. But here is a taste of the cable pattern that runs in alternating panels all along the afghan. This is Aran from the Berroco Comfort Knitting and Crochet Afghans. The cable panels are pretty intertwining knots. I think that it looks terribly impressive. But then again, it is just a matter of switching the positions of some stitches in each row!

If you like the looks of this, check out our Knitting Cables class that is coming up on October 22. There's still room!

Cables are really not as complicated as they look and I promise we'll start out with simple ones to teach you everything you need to know to do more complicated patterns.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Are your hands cold yet?

It is officially fingerless mitts weather here in Vermont and boy do our customers agree! By far the most popular quick-knit project this past weekend in the shop was fingerless mitts.

Our newest fingerless mitt pattern Cabin Fever's Shirl's Mittlets has been flying out the door. This project looks great in a variety of yarns, but most of us are opting for the sparkly Lanalux by Lang.

Coming in a close second is the versatile Fits Like A Glove pattern by Nancy Lindberg. (Not online yet, should be soon!) This one let's you choose your style - including an option for a mitten flap to wear when it is just too chilly for gloves. I would love this pattern out of the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, but I've also been thinking about Debbie Bliss Rialto DK because it's machine washable.

Wondering how you can get into the action with a pair of your own fingerless mitts? Sign up for our Fingerless Mitts class on Saturday, October 23rd. We'll even help you tackle double pointed needle knitting for the first time!

For those of you who have never knit a hat in the round or want to learn how to knit socks, this is also a great class for you because you will have the chance to knit in the round on double points and can easily transfer this skill to other great projects.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From France, enfin!

This past June I visited my sister in France. You may remember that I took her and her husband each a pair of wristers made from Malabrigo Sock Yarn. Last year they lived in a gorgeous - but drafty - house, and were bundled up from head to toe each day (inside the house.) I thought the wristers would come in handy this year, since they keep your hands warm but leave your fingers free. I mean, everybody needs a pair or two. Don't they?

Unfortunately, it was about 95 degrees when I gave them to her, so the wristers were packed away until just recently. And they have moved, and this place should be warmer, so I'm not sure she will be living in the wristers.

I keep asking her if she's been able to wear them yet, since I've been wearing mine for several weeks now. She finally emailed yesterday, and the wristers are on!
She wrote:

Ma trés belle soeur,

After two days of torrential rains and vents violents in southern France, temperatures dropped low enough to finally turn on the heat and don these mitties. They are p a r f a i t, especially for working with a cold metallic macbook first thing in the morn. Thanks so much for knitting these for me, Jill! Tomorrow I may wear them on the morning jog.

Je les aime et je t'aime.

Awesome Kristin! Now I just need you to start wearing the Citron scarf that I gave you in July!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fun New Stuff

Seems my pile of "to do" had grown recently - I have a spot in our office where Barb puts all the new items that need to be photographed and/or put online. The other day, I realized that it really needed some attention!

So yesterday, I started with some of the new items that just needed to be photographed. We got a couple of new colors of Noro Kochoran (we're still waiting for 4 more
new ones - they are very late, if you ask me...) and 6 gorgeous colors of Louisa Harding Willow Tweed. This is one of my absolute favorite yarns. I just love the color palette, especially with the addition of these 6 new shades

We have some new shades of the Lantern Moon Silk Needlecases, and 2 brand new cases from Tilli Tomas. One is for circular needles and one is for straights.

These ca
ses are so well done - we are all very impressed with the quality. They're made with different shades of silk and batik - and each style is available in four shades. The insides are great - 14 pockets for circs or 24 for straights. There's nothing flimsy about these cases - they are well worth the price.

We also have a new yarn from Tilli Tomas called Carousel. It's a loopy kid mohair, with a hint of iridescence and a whole lotta bows. The colors are lovely and I really see this as a fun novelty yarn that will be popular for special gifts this gifting season.

That's all I got done yesterday... but the pile of new stuff is still there, and doesn't seem to have gotten any smaller. What's up with that?

Monday, October 11, 2010

We're open today!

Today is Columbus Day, but the shop is open.

Hopefully those of you w
ith today off are having a wonderful long weekend. And that those of you who are back to your normal routine for today enjoyed a great two-day weekend! It was (and still is!) spectacular out there. Sunny, cool and crisp, with some great foliage to see. Everyone was out this weekend enjoying the weather and the colors. What does fall mean for you? For me, it means yard cleanup. And seed harvesting.And garden cleanup.And lounging helpers.And cross country races.And foliage viewing.And family activities out in the fresh air.And project planning. That's right! That chill in the air gets me excited to start new projects. Does your queue get longer this time of year?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Only a rectangle, but so much more

I got a cool "Draped Sweater Vest" from the Gap over a month ago. I think I was in a "brown" mood that day (my shopping bag contained khakis, this beige vest, and a brown t-shirt). I loved the way it looked, and the weight of it. It lived in my closet until the other day, as it hadn't been cool enough to wear it. It was so cozy and comfortable to wear - and people commented on it all day. When I took it off at the end of the day, I started folding it, and realized that it's just a rectangle. One that could so easily be recreated with some sticks and string! And since I love this vest, that got me excited.

This rectangle measures 23.5" by 49". It's all worked in one piece, with garter edging at the waist and collar. The arm openings are just bound off and then cast on again, with some ribbing added later. Piece of cake!

It reminds me of the Berroco Branna top in Berroco Book 283. We made this up (still have it!) as a shop sample a couple of years ago, and it was really popular. The Branna had set in sleeves, which I liked. But now I'm really liking this new basic rectangle version - it's certainly more easy!

I'm thinking that one of these in Ultra Alpaca Fine would be super... and then for spring, Noro King would make a great one... Yum!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A view from the corner office

And Michele complains that she doesn't have a corner office here at Kaleidoscope Yarns. It's just not true!

Try-ons, Body Image, Gauge & Center Pull Balls: We covered it all!

For those of you who made it into the shop last night and got to meet Andra and try on some sweaters, it was so great to have you!

Marc brought the girls in quickly before the customers came. They always love to see Andra when she's in town. They arrived looking like drowned rats - they cam
e straight from a cross country race in the pouring rain. It's amazing what a hair brush and some great hand knits did to change their appearance! They both loved the Kerr hat: Helen (left) is wearing the Kerr Hat and Cowl. This is a free pattern on Andra's website, and was quite popular last night! The hat takes 1 skein of Borealis and the cowl takes 2 skeins. This yarn is really pretty in the hank, but knit up, it's just gorgeous. Don't worry, Helen was only drinking seltzer with a lemon. Doesn't it look like a cocktail though?

I knew it was only a matter of minutes before Helen would start grabbing other samples and trying them on.
We let her "vogue" for a bit and then Marc dragged them home to get their homework done.

One thing is clear from last night - we all have different body images, whether they are accurate or not. I think most of us think we know what will look good on our body, and look at garments in stores (or in yarn shops!) and immediately rule them out. We learned last night that it really is important to give things a try, and sometimes it takes another person to force you to try it! Here's Andra sharing (and wearing!) some pearl of wisdom with Deb, who is trying on Avocet B:
And here's Sue looking so AWESOME in Stratus (free pattern!) in Blackstone Tweed. In addition to our mini fashion show, there were some other lessons learned last night, too. Another customer, Andrea, is making the Stibnite sweater, from Norah Gaughan Volume 7. She had a question with her gauge. She had checked it several times at home and even though she had already gone down one needle size, she was still getting 4.625 stitches to the inch, instead of 5. She wanted advice about continuing (since she'd already worked about 8-10" of the back and was hoping to not have to r-i-p).

If Andrea had continued, that "little" gauge issue would have made the back of her sweater about 1.5" too big. It doesn't sound like a lot, but too big is too big. I recommended she rip back and go down one more size.
Nobody wants to rip back and start over. And it can be confusing when you have never had to worry about switching needle sizes to get gauge. I explained that any number of
things can make your gauge change: stress, happiness, needle material, yarn content, etc.

The great news is that Andrea actually checked her gauge early on in the project, and knew to come in and ask about it, before she went any further.
We called Andra over for another opinion, and she agreed that going down another needle size was the right thing to do. She also gave Andrea a great tip... most people start sweaters by following the directions as written. And directions usually call for a knitter to make the back first.

Andra's tip? Start with the sleeves. Even if you've done a small gauge swatch, the sleeves can serve as another swatch. And if you realize, after 4 inches of knitting, that your gauge is off, you have a lot less to rip out. Great tip!

Andra also showed me her way of winding little center pull balls. I just started an intarsia project and I need to wind a ball of self striping sock yarn (Berroco Sox) into 6 separate balls. I usually do figure-8 twists, which is great for small bits of yarn. Each of my 6 balls is about 15 grams, which proved a bit big for figure-8 twists. So hey, I learned something too!
There's nothing better than a bunch of knitters getting together and sharing. There's always something new to learn!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Lace Weight is not just for shawls!

Malabrigo yarns are always a favorite this time of year. Who can resist the buttery softness of merino wool? And the colors are always stunning! Malabrigo Lace is a yarn that's being used more for sweaters these days.

Here's our customer Susan in her Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig.
This pattern is available for purchase on

Susan used 3 skeins of Malabrigo Lace and she was so pleased with how the cardigan looked and felt when she wore it into the shop the other day that now this sweater has been added to my knitting queue!

Looking for some other sumptuous garments to knit in lace weight? Check out the Lettuce Pullover, Wispy Cardi, and the Whisper Cardigan.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Tomorrow 6pm, join us!

It's last-minute, but can you join us this Wednesday night? (Tomorrow!!)

We hope so! Escape your routine for one night and join us for an evening of fun at the yarn shop. Wednesday, October 6th, 6-8pm.

Our Berroco sales rep, Andra, is in VT leaf-peeping this week. And since you can't enjoy leaves in the dark, we roped her into hanging out with us at the shop on Wednesday evening.
Come meet this former nuclear engineer who traded atoms for string! She's bringing:

* Many of the MOST POPULAR sweater samples from this & last fall in REAL sizes for you to try on (not just mini-model sizes!)
* Expert advice on styles that will flatter you, and on what size you should really make
* Enthusiastic advice to get you out of that rut (if you're in one!)
* A basket of Berroco yarns for you to swatch
* Secrets & stories about many of the Berroco samples... how did they come to be? Did mistakes turn into masterpieces?

As a thanks for coming, we'll have all Berroco yarns & patterns on sale for 15% off during the event. Hope to see you Wednesday at 6pm!

Monday, October 04, 2010

A little background on Manos Wool Clasica

Fairmount Fibers, our Manos del Uruguay distributor, just posted some great information about Manos Wool Clasica on their blog.

This information was sent out last week to shops that sell Manos (like us) and I thought it would be very useful information for YOU, the end users of Manos yarn. I called them and asked them to put this information out there for you to see, and I'm happy to see it's been reposted now on their blog. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 03, 2010


Last week's rain left me feeling a little "blah". I decided I need a little pick-me-up.

As my 16 year old daughter will verify, I do not have a flashy wardrobe. To combat the rainy weather blues, I decided to add a little bling to my wardrobe. But, I still wanted to stay within my comfort zone.

I grabbed a new pattern, Shirl's Mittlets by Cabin Fever, and a fun sparkly yarn, with just the right amount of flash, Lanalux by Lang. The pattern is great - it covers fingering, dk, worsted and aran weight! And I chose one of the new jewel tones.

The result: surprisingly soft hand warmers with just enough glitter to make me (and everyone who has seen them!) smile. And my daughter approves!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Nope, it’s not the holidays, it’s time for the annual Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival!

It is happening this weekend (October 2nd and 3rd) in gorgeous Tunbridge, Vermont. The doors open at 10:00. Last year, Shawn and I went and kind of lost our minds over all of the beautiful sock yarns.


VT Sheep and Wool Festival 2009

VT Sheep and Wool Festival 2009

I plan on heading down on Sunday, and I hope to see some familiar faces there! I’ve also started a thread in our Ravelry page where people can arrange carpool rides together, if you’re looking to save on gas.

Added benefit: one of you can knit in the car while the other drives!