Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Stocking Time

There are about 25 days left until the Christmas holiday. So it is definitely time to get cranking on those holiday decorations and gifts! I am trying my best to get a jump on things so I finished my latest project in just one day of solid knitting. Since my family's tradition dictates stockings are needed for the St. Nicholas holiday (December 6th) I have only about 6 days to squeeze in some remaining knitting - whew! Doesn't that 25 days look much better now?

I wanted something functional here folks (for me it is about what is in the stocking that counts) so I just had to be sure it was roomy enough to fit fun
objects into AND that the loop at the top fits over a door knob - bedroom door knobs being the hanging spot of choice for St. Nicholas day my family. I chose Berroco Vintage yarn in worsted weight because I knew it would be nice to knit with and it is going to wear well over (what I hope is) years of use.Did you know that if I give you one of my handknit stockings and you return it each year before St. Nicholas I WILL return it filled on the holiday?! I used the Nancy Lindberg Christmas Socks pattern for my stitch counts...but since fair-isle is not my cup of tea I just chose to stripe my stocking in two different colors. Then again, this is a great project to practice fair-isle technique and boy does it come out wonderfully. The pattern even lets you choose which motifs you want to use!

Here is another lovely example that we have in the shop (knit with
Cascade 220 wool): Don't leave anyone out - I think one of our customers came in to say that she had made over 20 holiday stockings and was still knitting! I'll have to ask her if that was all in one year.... We have other patterns available too. Check out the Yankee Knitter patterns or Ann Norling patterns for additional inspiration.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Manic-In Monday

Today is certainly a bit manic here in the shop. We were busy on Friday and Saturday, and then had LOTS of orders to download and fill today... it was definitely a big cyber-weekend here... Here's just a small portion of the leaning tower of packages! But it's good to be running around so much, especially since we all ate just a BIT too much during the last 4-5 days. We were commenting this morning on how our jeans are feeling a bit snug today. I guess that's from too much pie, stuffing and all the rest of it.

Our mannequin had a great holiday, and like us, she's feeling like she ate a bit too much. When choosing the outfit for this week, she went for a full trompe l'oeil... and chose something that makes her look slimmer. (Don't you watch What Not to Wear, anyone? This isn't new here! Smoke & mirrors, smoke & mirrors!) The lines on this vest are super flattering, and the funky pom-pom scarf will sure get a lot of attention.
Vest: Americano Vest in the Berroco Book #302 Vintage & Vintage Chunky knit with Vintage Chunky Yarn.
Scarf: Stash Busting Pom Pom Scarf made with Clover Pom Pom Makers (all sizes) and stash yarn. No knitting required! Just a crochet chain (which you could also finger knit...) Those pom poms are addicting, aren't they? Remember, we have instructional videos on how to use the pom pom makers!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Flying Knitting needles (aka Airplane Knitting)

Well, your knitting needles SHOULD be flying at this time of the year, if you want to get all that holiday knitting finished. But this is really about taking knitting needles on airplanes...

Holiday season is here! For many people that means travel. While some people cringe at the thought of hours spent waiting for flights, layovers, or long car rides... knitters know these things aren't really to be dreaded as long waits. In fact knitters sometimes look FORWARD to these aspects of travel because it means MORE knitting!

We often get asked in the shop what to do to make sure that you can knit on the plane. In most cases knitting is allowed on planes and in areas of the airport past security checkpoints. Of course we always advise that you look up the current TSA rules before you bundle all your favorite needles and notions into your bag. While most knitting supplies are acceptable, these things can change at any time.

Sure, circular needles made from bamboo seem much safer than long metal straight needles and may help your cause. Your KnitKit that holds many notions is TSA compliant. BUT the folks who check your bags and carry-ons do have the final say on what you can and cannot have on the plane.

Our best advice? Be sure to take along a self-addressed padded envelope with postage already on it in your knitting bag. In the event that your friendly TSA agent decides any of your knitting tools are not going with you on your trip, you can use this envelope to spare them from the trash. You may miss out on a bit of knitting time and this could be frustrating, but at least there won't be tears of regret over the loss of those of antique embriodery scissors that your great aunt left to you.

And for the final word, please, if you are driving somewhere and planning to knit along the way, make sure you have someone else who will be operating the vehicle!

Happy travel knitting!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A favorite yarn, in a new weight!

Berroco Vintage and Berroco Vintage Chunky are top sellers in our shop. They are becoming fast favorites of many of our customers because they are super soft and easy care (washable!)

But not everybody likes to make sweaters out of bulky or worsted yarns. So let me introduce Berroco Vintage DK! And yes, it's IN STOCK!
Berroco Vintage DK is a reasonable $7 for a generous 288 yards. And all the top selling colors from the Vintage (worsted) line now appear in the DK line.

We've got 8 colors in stock now (like perennial favorites Douglas Fir, China Dal, Tide Pool and Black Currant) with 4 more coming shortly. You will see a new Berroco pattern book dedicated entirely to this yarn shortly.

If you haven't tried any of the Berroco Vintage yarns, now's a great time!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Free on Friday

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope all of you celebrating yesterday had a wonderful time. I cooked the feast this year for the kids, my husband, his parents and his aunt. I ate my fill and really enjoyed the day with my family. As I was excused from dish-duty, I was able to get some knitting in, and I finished up a little mystery project I've been working on recently, too. Remember this picture? People guessed I was making gift bags, and in a way, that's right. I just loved this picture in the Garnet Hill catalog. But almost $60!? I have the skill, I have the yarn, and I have the time. So, I made my own: Of course, I just made a "Mini" advent calendar to give you an idea that you, too, can make your own very easily!

Instructions: Use ANY scrap yarn with appropriately sized needles (I used Berroco Comfort DK with size 7 knitting needles. Make garter stitch rectangles of ANY size (different ones make sense here!) On the 8th or 10th row of each rectangle, work a YO, k2tog buttonhole TWICE in the row, sort of near the center. Fold the rectangles into small envelopes and seam the sides. Make ties - either work 2 stitch I-cord, a crocheted chain OR cast on 35-40 stitches and BO right away (YOUR choice, and feel free to mix them up!) Just thread the ties through the under side of the envelope and then pull through the buttonholes to close. I crocheted a chain using all 5
colors of yarn, and then crocheted smaller chains to hang each "gift bag". These are great gift pockets - and are perfect for holding gift cards, shawl pins, little repair tools and more!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New videos, because it's the season of the pom pom

So pom poms are everywhere I look this season! I've seen so many cool hats with either traditional pom poms at the top (free pattern here), or fun pom poms hanging from the earflaps. I've seen many scarves decorated with pom poms (free pattern here), and some made entirely of pom poms (free pattern here). And the other day, I saw an adorable kid's sweater with pom poms on the belt.

To make a pom pom, all you really need is some cardboard and a sharp pair of scissors. But if you're making more than one (and want them to come out right the first try) then we do recommend purchasing a pom pom maker. Based on the popularity of the pom pom these days, we've been getting a lot of questions on how to use the pom pom makers we sell in the shop. So...

We dedicated our last two instructional videos to this topic. Now you can see just how easy it is to use the Susan Bates Pom Pom Maker and the Clover Pom Pom Maker.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Manic-In Monday

Doesn't our mannequin look smart this week? She's got some dinner plans for this Thursday and wanted to look nice without seeming too gussied up (after all, things are a little more "casual" here in Vermont).

This tie front sweater with beautiful stitch patterning is just perfect for her holiday meal on Thursday. She's also got her knitting needles at the ready - she's not a big football fan, and is obviously planning on knitting in front of the big screen, while politely cheering for one of the teams.Sweater: Cape Waves Cardigan Sweater - tie front option (pattern includes option for 3 button closure too!) from the Adventure in Knitting Cape Waves pattern knit in Frog Tree Alpaca Sportweight yarn
Needle Case: Tilli Tomas Bollywood Straight Needle Case (there is also a circular option!)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Painting... my other therapy

I've lived in my house for 16 years and one week. My husband and I moved in about three months after our wedding, and in 16 years, your tastes change... a lot! So we started out in a new house, with white walls. Those white walls soon became stenciled (90's), then covered with faux finishes (90's), then covered with color and more recently, covered with some really nice neutrals. I guess you could say I've gone through a lot of phases with paint. In fact I feel I've almost come full circle in a way. But painting (for me) is as therapeutic as knitting. Both the process, and the finished product! When I am in the midst of a painting project, sometimes I can't fall asleep at night because I am so excited about finishing it, and getting to drink in the beauty of a new room. Isn't it amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do?

Last week
I started a mini-makeover on the shop bathroom. Goodbye wallpaper and hello vibrant color! We still have to wait for the floor to be replaced, but take a look! If you're a local, you'll see a big difference. And we all agreed - after the paint dried on Friday - that this funky new bathroom needed was SCREAMING OUT for some funky crocheted bath accessories. Hence the yarn on the back of the toilet. (Of course I chose Berroco Comfort because of it's awesome color range and washability... remember, it's a bathroom!)

I made a little template, grabbed an H crochet hook, and got started. LOVE it so far.
Who says granny square toilet seat covers are old school? NO WAY. I think this one might just be TOO cool for school. Even Lucy agrees. Although she was more interested in chewing the corners of the bag than the granny squares.Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Any ideas?

So I've started to make something, and I'm wondering if any of you have any ideas (at all!) on what it could be? I'm using the Berroco Comfort DK I had leftover from my Log Cabin Blanket. Such great colors - I knew I had to do something fun with them.

Hint: It's something I've seen in catalogs every year now (at this time!) for the past few years. Definitely a holiday themed item, that I'd much rather make myself than drop big bucks on.
Different sizes, shapes & colors... guesses anyone?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Free on Friday

This week's free pattern is a quick cowl - direct from Ravelry, with of course, a few modifications!

"Cowls, cowls, cowls..." it's pretty much all you hear these days! Everyone is making them, and why not? They're super easy, quick and practical. Doesn't your coat always gap at the neck? Cowls do the work of scarves, but save you the hassle of wrapping and wrapping, and tucking in ends.
This stitch pattern is a four row pattern and easy to memorize. Two of the four rows are knit, so there's no arguing that this is a cinch.

Last week I received just one lonely skein of the brand new Berroco Ultra Alpaca Tonal yarn as a sample, and I knew this cowl was the right project for it. Because I wanted to make it a one skein project, I followed this pattern, but cut the stitches back to 121 and used size 9 needles. If you grab 2 skeins, you can follow the pattern on Ravelry as written. The cowl is beautiful.

The stitch pattern is really pretty and the cowl is nice and warm and drapey. I love how the yarn worked up, too! The tonals are beautiful. A perfect addition to the Ultra Alpaca line.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New stuff all around!

Since last week, we've been busy unpacking lots of boxes here at the shop. We've gotten some new colors of existing yarns, and some brand new yarns! Here's a summary of what went online recently:
New color of Plymouth Mushishi called Sea:Two new Plymouth Dreambaby DK colors called Raspberry and Blueberry:New Encore colors:and a colorspun:and a gorgeous Encore Tweed called Mushroom:
More new colors in solids and tweeds are on the way, but they aren't here quite yet!

We've also gotten some new yarns. May I introduce Plymouth Coffee Beenz, a new member of the Encore family of yarns.
This yarn has the same 75% acrylic/25% wool blend, so it's super soft and washable. This yarn has a main color that's wrapped with a variegated strand. The four shades we got are all gorgeous!

Here's one I'm super excited about... Plymouth Select Worsted Merino Superwash.
It's a Charmin-like soft merino wool, that's machine washable. We're loving it and can't wait to knit with it (honestly, we've only squeezed and squished it so far. But that's enough to love it!) It's only $12 for a whopping 218 yards. Not a bad price!

There are a couple more, but that's all I have time for today. Make sure you're signed up to receive our new product notifications! Then you won't miss out on new items...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Manic-In Monday

You wouldn't believe it if you looked out today at the rainy, grey sky, but we actually had some gorgeous sun late last week! Did you know... Burlington, VT ties the number of sunny days per year with Seattle (at least where the airport is)? So when it's sunny, we know to enjoy it, and make those memories last.
Anyway, the sun was heavenly, and it prompted our mannequin to don this spectacular short sleeve sweater, though she had enough sense to put on a long sleeve t-shirt underneath. And because it is super chilly and damp, she's also wearing a lovely shawlette draped around her neck & shoulders.

Sweater: Bourtanger Sweater
from the Berroco Book #301
Yarn: Berroco Campus - a quick knitting favorite of ours!
Shawl: Cedar Leaf Shawlette
, from the Never Not Knitting pattern, knit in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Knitting for a cause

Two weeks ago I was surprised to see my very first holiday themed commercial on TV. What?! I know that retailers need to get the gift buying message out there as soon as possible, but come on – wait for Halloween to come and go, at least. Sheesh!

However, it did get me thinking that for us knitters and crocheters, the time is really ticking away in terms of getting our gifts ready to wrap up with a lovely ribbon and give to that special someone. You may just be making a pair of mitts for a friend, or maybe you’re super-ambitious and are making socks for your entire family on size 1 needles. Yes, I did that once. (Once.)

Either way, you might think about taking a chunk of your knitting time to whip up something for a good cause. This morning I was reminded of a wonderful program by a customer who came in looking for wool to knit helmet liners. How comforting would a little bit of wool in your metal helmet be, and how much more comforting to know that someone back home was thinking about you while it was being hand made.

You can get a free helmet liner knitting pattern here, and crochet pattern here.

And the yarn that is totally perfect is Cascade 220 in any of the natural colors (tans, browns, black, gray). Should you choose to substitute another yarn, please stick with 100% natural animal fibers – wool, alpaca, etc… The military has specifically asked that no synthetics be used for these liners.

Photo: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1382/5143294619_f827eeeabd_o.jpg

Friday, November 12, 2010

Free on Friday

Today's free pattern is a super quick knit, and makes a great gift! It takes just one skein of Berocco Borealis yarn, and whips up easily in less than an evening. We first fell in love with this cowl (called the Coastal Cowl) when our Berroco sales rep, Andra, brought up her suitcase of samples last month to share with our customers. It's a free pattern on her website. I think everybody tried it on and I knew I'd have to make at least one. So I did.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Customer Project - A KPS favorite!

One of our favorite patterns walked in through the door and it is SOOOO adorable in this tiny little size with the rabbit button! Audrey stopped by to pick up the button for her Knitting Pure and Simple Childrens Neckdown Bolero and we just had to snap a photo. I love how sweet this looks in the pastel solid Berroco Comfort for such a small girl.

It is so different from our own version that Jill knit up in the Plymouth Kudo
for an older child!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Brattleboro Hat

When the New England Knits book arrived in the shop, I flipped through it to check out all the wonderful patterns, but there were so many good ones, that I couldn't decide which one I wanted to make.

A couple of weeks later the Fall 2010 Issue of Interweave Knits magazine arrived, and so did my solution! There was a nice review of New England Knits in the magazine, and and they published one of the patterns (the Brattleboro Hat) that appeared in the book. I couldn't stop thinking about the photo of the Brattleboro Hat that appears in the magazine. It was shown knit in Malabrigo Worsted, which is one of my favorite yarns. So I grabbed a skein and started.

I am pleased with the way the hat turned out and enjoyed learning the decreases to keep the textured pattern intact.
Now if only I had waited a bit longer for the new easy care Malabrigo Rios yarn to come in. I think this hat would be amazing in the Sunset colorway!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Manic-In Monday

Okay - winter is trying hard to make an appearance here. We've been having rain, freezing rain and sleet all morning. At 9am I went out to the storage shed to get some ice melter for the walks, and successfully landed a triple lutz/double toe loop in the parking lot. Thankfully the melter is doing it's job, but we do still have a lot of little icicles decorating the building. Be careful out there!

Our gal must have felt the promise of cold, damp air, as this week she's sporting an awesome kimono jacket and a warm, yet simple, scarf. No doubt she will stay cozy!
Scarf Pattern & Yarn: The Liwen Ribbed Scarf is a free pattern we offer on the website and uses just one skein each of the Stacy Charles Luna yarn and Araucania Liwen yarn. This is a great gift!

Sweater Pattern & Yarn: The Plymouth Kimono #1530 Pattern has been a top seller here at the shop. It is such a simple project combining garter and stockinette stitch fabric in 5 rectangles that are sewn together to create this amazing Kimono-style coat. The pattern is shown in (and calls for) Plymouth Encore, which is a wonderfully economical yarn that's a machine washable blend of wool & acrylic.

Make it More Luxurious: Want to upgrade to a slightly more decadent yarn choice? It would be fabulous knit in the Debbie Bliss Cahsmerino Aran yarn! It would be just a bit warmer with the luxury of soft cashmere, but still machine washable.

Want More Texture? Try Plymouth Pattern #1531 - very similar, but with a different texture stitch on the body.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Customer Project: Einstein on Baby Buntings

We have a child's size sample of the Einstein Coat hanging in the shop. Many people comment on it and are always so pleased to hear that the pattern is written for adults as well.

It's an easy pattern because the garment is constructed of only knit stitches. Yep, no purling! The pattern appears in a book that is full of knit stitch patterns only: The Knit Stitch Book.

Last week, our customer Nancy brought in a sample of another one of the patterns in the book. It is a baby sized version of the Einstein Coat in the form of a bunting - the Baby Albert Bunting!
Nancy picked out a very nice shade of Berroco Comfort DK for this one and was planning another project with the leftover yarn too! Thanks for sharing Nancy :)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The new Manos del Uruguay patterns are finally here!

Just in: 6 awesome new knitting patterns from Manos del Uruguay! We've had folks calling us on the phone about these and we're happy to announce that they're finally here!Three of the patterns are for Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica (Avignon, Bordeaux and Marais), two are for Manos Silk Blend (Normandy and Versailles) and one is for Manos Rittenhouse (Dijon).

I love them all, but I think the Normandy is my favorite, followed very closely by Marais! Added to queue (2).

Friday, November 05, 2010

New Buttons Online!

Did you know that our entire button selection is online? We worked hard this summer to get everything uploaded, because so many of our customers were buying yarn & patterns for sweaters, and wanted to buy everything in one place. It's amazing how many people are now ordering buttons from us!

And in case you didn't know, when you buy any 10 buttons, all buttons in your cart will be discounted by 20%. This also happens when you buy 10 or more buttons in the shop, so it's both local and online. No coupon necessary.

Today we added a lot of new kids buttons! Here's a sampling.
SO adorable. How cute is that green monster!? And the giraffe and ruler? Makes me want to start a kid's sweater!

Free on Friday

This week's free pattern is a new favorite of ours. One day a couple of months ago, I ran next door to the warehouse to grab some yarn for a customer. While I was there, a skein of Ella Rae Lace Merino caught my eye. I already knew I loved this yarn, but this one particular color made me swoon (Teal, Lime & Maroon). It just BEGGED to come back over to the shop with me and find its rightful place in a finished object of some sort.

But what would that be? This gorgeous skein of yarn sat next to me on my desk for weeks and weeks. We wanted to make a one skein project with it, but which one? Socks? Fingerless mitts? A lightweight hat? No, no and no. We were stumped, and the skein was sad.

Barb was looking on Ravelry one day, and came across this free pattern for the Deirdre Shawl. It's your basic triangular shawl, but it incorporates different stitch patterns which make it really interesting to knit, and beautiful to wear. So she took the skein home, and look at it now? WOW.
Now it's a happy skein! It has become a great shoulder wrap for under a coat, or a lightweight cover for those chilly restaurants.

And remember, a good blocking is important for lace knitting!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Not an Old Dog Yet!

Thanks to India for submitting this guest post!

It was inevitable that I would knit the Cloisonné Jacket in the Fall 2010 issue of Interweave Knits.

I liked it the first time I flipped through the magazine. When I looked at it again, I realized that the sweater combines two of my favorite techniques—lace and stranded colorwork; one of my favorite constructions—body knit in one piece; and one of my absolute favorite yarns—Berroco Ultra Alpaca. And so I did something I don’t usually do: rather than adding this project to my (very long) list of things I’d like to make someday, I immediately put aside all my other WIPs, trundled down to Kaleidoscope to buy the yarn, swatched, and cast on.

Color choice was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t want to use the colors shown in the magazine, but it took some doing to come up with a combination I liked. In the end, with Shawn’s help, I chose a deep avocado green solid for the lace portion, and a heathery maroon for the main color. These colors work well with many of the shirts or turtlenecks I will wear under the sweater, and of course with jeans, my usual pants of choice.

I am a yarn thrower from way back. Nevertheless, a number of years ago I taught myself to carry a color in each hand when working stranded colorwork, my left hand chugging along in a vaguely continental style but actually awkwardly throwing the yarn in a dim mirror image of my right hand. However, this time I wanted to do better. And so, in the interest of doing it “right,” (and blazing new neural pathways—good for the aging brain!), I practiced picking the yarn with my right-hand needle on the knit rows. However, the cardigan is worked flat, so half the colorwork rows are on the purl side! With much effort, and several viewings of instructional videos on YouTube, I eventually developed a more-than-passable continental purling motion.

Once the colorwork section was complete, I decided to further practice my new skills, and so I completed the plain stockinette sections, sleeves (including the lace cuffs!), collar, and facings working exclusively in the continental style.

I also made a Baby Surprise Jacket out of Regia Stretch Sock Yarn for my newest nephew and worked that project in the continental style as well. And though I can’t perform the motions by feel only, as I can when I throw the yarn right-handed, nevertheless I’ve gained speed, confidence, and dexterity, both knitting and purling. I’m pleased to be ambiknitsterous, though I expect it will be a while before I knit ribbing or fine lace using the continental style. But I’m proud of myself for learning a new skill.

And, I love my new cardigan*!

*Carefully verify the math when dividing for fronts and back and check against your stitches! I found a couple of mistakes in the directions here for size 42. There’s also a mistake in the sleeve section; see here for corrections.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Très mignon, ces moutons!

New colors of Sheep Tape Measures from Lantern Moon! In addition to the ever popular white, we now have beige and black.Several other new (non sheep) styles are also now available.

Not so fond...

I've been doing a lot of sweater knitting, but everyone needs some FO gratification now and again. So here is the Opus Spicatum hat that I just finished. It was a UFO for a while, but I just finished it recently. I like the hat, but I'm not terribly pleased by the way the green in the variegated runs into the solid and obscures the pattern. I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca as the solid and Mountain Colors River Twist as the variegated. Next time I think I would use 2 different colors of double stranded Road to China Light.

The pattern is free from Kelbourne Woolens and there are great photos of the pattern here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Did you hear me?

I'm sure you did! I was singing from the rooftops Saturday night when I finished my Log Cabin Baby Blanket. It's gorgeous!It ended up taking 10 balls of Berroco Comfort DK. I did need an extra ball of red for the edging... SO glad I took one on Friday or I would not have finished it. Good planning, for once! The other colors I used 2 balls of were the darker olive green and the darker blue.It's a great size (26" x 34"), and is just beautiful. I love how the diagonals look.

The entire blanket was seamed with 3 needle bindoff. Don't know how to do it? You're not alone. We're always amazed at how many people ask us to show them this each week. But now you can see it on our new how-to video!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Manic-In Monday

Our gal is still acclimating to colder temps after a long summer spent in sunny & tropical places. Clearly, she's a bit delusional and thinks she's still on a beach in Hawaii (is that a lei around her neck!?) That's okay, with the wind, rain, sleet and snow that we've now had for 3 days straight, it's easy to understand why she is in fantasy mode...

Even though it's grey and damp outside, she's going to stay cozy in this beautiful sweater knit with bulky alpaca. And since blooming flowers are a thing of the past in these parts, I'm sure her scarf will bring her some good cheer during these damp, grey days.