Friday, February 25, 2011

Free on Friday

Michele recently made this gorgeous scarf for her son Andrew, who is a junior at the University of Vermont. If you're familiar with the UVM campus, or downtown Burlington, Vermont, you know that the wind can be CRAZY cold during the winter months. Michele wanted to make Andrew a nice scarf that would be stylish and warm. She thought about making a Jade Sapphire Cashmere Scarf for Him Kit, but wanted a yarn with a little more depth.

She ended up choosing the Blue Sky Alpaca Worsted yarn because it's got such gorgeous colors, and they are hand dyed with subtle color variation. She used 4 skeins, and the pattern below. It's gorgeous!
4 skeins Blue Sky Alpaca Worsted yarn
Size 9-10 US Needles (Michele is a tight knitter and used 10s!)

C6B: move next three stitches to a cable needle, hold to the back of work. Knit 3 stitches from left hand needle, then knit 3 stitches from cable needle.

Cast on 42 stitches.
Work in Cable Pattern (below) for desired length, bind off. Block.

Cable Pattern:
Rows 1, 5, and 7: (K6, P6) repeat to last 6 st, K6
Row 2, 6, and 8: (P6, K6) repeat to last 6 st, P6
Row 3: (C6B, P6) repeat to last 6 st, C6B
Row 4: (P6, C6B) repeat to last 6 st, P6


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Laceweight projects abound!

Last week we received another book dedicated to projects for lace weight yarn. We'd recently gotten in Silky Little Knits, which was so well received by our lace addicts, that we thought we'd try Lacy Knits.

We know it's hard to justify buying a book unless there are a number of great projects in it. Both of these books have a lot of neat patterns for lace, so we think they are worth it. I used to have a rule when buying music albums. I had to really like at least 3 songs on the album or I wouldn't buy it. I think that rule also works for books. And if so, I've just bought these two for sure.

In Silky Little Knits, my clear favorites are the Linda Beaded Boa:
the Colorwash Mittens: and the Frilled Bedsocks: Although there are a number of other projects I just love, too.

And in
Lacy Knits we have a few faves as well. Barb has already grabbed 2 skeins of Debbie Bliss Angel and started the Wonder scarf.
She's made some good progress on hers, and look how beautiful it is! It's basically a 4 row pattern... but 2 rows are just knitted and the other 2 are the same, just offset.

I've picked out the Glow scarf and we're going to make that up as a shop sample.
It calls for 2 different kinds of yarn, one a kid lace/mohair blend, and another one slightly heavier. I'm pondering our options on that one...

And I love the Beth cowl. Who wouldn't want to have this wrapped around them on a cool winter day?

Time for flowers

They're calling for up to 10" of snow tomorrow, so I think we'll be doing a bit of shoveling again! That's okay. I can dream of spring and warmth and flowers while I am making my very own flower-embellished yarn!

Last year I made the Pagewood Farm Needle Felted Silk Scarf, and it was so fun to do.
Yes, it took HOURS, but it was my own issue that I felt I HAD to get it done in one (long) night. (What was I thinking?!) However, the end result was spectacular, and it's been a favorite item with customers down in the shop.

Recently my Pagewood Farm rep visited, and I o
rdered some other fun items for the shop. Of course their sock yarns sold out almost instantly - we only have a few skeins left of the Yukon and a little more of the Denali. (Don't worry, they are all on order!)

We also ordered some fun "Design Your Own Yarn" kits that include yarn, roving and mohair locks to make little needle felted flowers to attach to the yarn. You'll need a felting tool/needle and a felting mat, but this is fun stuff!

took one of the kits home 2 nights ago, and have been making flowers like it's going out of style. You make the flowers first, and then attach them to the yarn. And then, I'll probably make a quick scarf or something... who knows. Here are a few shots of the process. (Taken with phone, not real camera, so I apologize on the quality/color!)

The necessary supplies: Pagewood Farm Needle Felted Designer Yarn Kit, a felting mat and felting tool. Embroidery scissors optional.
Attach the center of the green leaf fiber onto your felting mat, just to keep it in place. Grab a small amount of the mohair locks, pull it apart a bit, and then scrunch it into place. Gently needle felt it to the leaf. Next step (not shown) - take some sparkly fiber and wind it into a tiny ball. Attach it to the center of your flower. I found it was easiest to hold this down with the points of my scissors until I positioned the tool in place. Then, viola, finished flower. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Easy & quick. My type of project. Once you have finished making the flowers, it's time to make your yarn! It comes in a hank, so after I wound it into a ball, I started attaching the flowers. Every yard or yard and a half you are supposed to needle felt a flower to the yarn. I have not finished this part yet, but it's so easy, I will be finished by tonight. The finished yarn is stunning!
We could have purch
ased this yarn with the flowers already attached, but there was a huge price difference ($22!), and we felt that our customers would enjoy making the flowers themselves.

We also ordered kits for just making the flowers (with no yarn included). This is because these flowers
are so sweet, they would look great on a lot of other items that we knit and crochet. Stay tuned for a fun class on needle felted flowers this spring!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shared Projects

I started the Shallot Sweater with the Rowan Purelife Revive a couple of months ago. It's in the Purelife Recycled Collection pattern booklet. The Revive is a gorgeous yarn and even though it just arrived in the shop last week, I had ordered a bag of it earlier in the winter so I could get started on this top for a shop sample. I'd hoped to finish it, but you know how that goes...

It's normal for me to go down one needle size with pretty much every
project I do, and my gauge swatch on this yarn proved no different. So I ended up on US size 2 and 5 needles. I worked the ribbing on the 2's and about 4-5 inches of the pattern on the 5's. The pattern calls for you to yarn over and then purl 4 together. On the next row, you work a K1,P1,K1 into the YO to maintain your stitch count. The P4 tog was tough, despite the sharp tips on the Addi Lace Needles I was using. It did me in and so the sweater sat.

When the yarn came in last week and I was photographing it for the website, Barb and I were talking about how beautiful it is. I mean check out these colors:Barb asked me how my sweater was coming along. I had to confess that it wasn't.

So Barb offered to work on it for me. Fortunately she was without a project at the time, so I brought it in the next day for her to take home. She didn't like that P4 tog either, but she figured out a way to make it easier (slip 2 purlwise, p2 tog, pass 2 slipped stitches over) and she's cruising on the sweater.
Remember, sometimes it takes some higher level thinking to find a workaround. At least n
ow I know that even if she gives me this sweater back to finish, I will have an easier time of it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Things we can change

I'm sure most of you have seen the survey that pops up on our website from time to time. If this annoys you, we apologize. But it's a great way for us to get feedback on things that our customers would like us to change. And it's also a very good way for us to see what we're doing well.

We can't be everything to everybody, but w
e are always striving to be the best that we can be. We go through each and every one of your comments, and try to identify areas in which we can improve. We work on our website every day but sometimes it takes fresh eyes to point out areas that need improvement. We're always happy to take a look at something, and change it if it's going to make a difference. We've already made some changes based on recent comments. Here are a few!


"This stupid survey popped up and I had to fill it out."

Our response:
Sorry! We certainly don't want you to feel like we're holding a gun to your head. Let me point out that
you always have the option of clicking "yes" or "no"! (If I didn't want to take the survey, I would just click "no". I wouldn't click "yes" and then complain that I was forced to take it. But that's me!)

The survey was showing up for 4% of our total number of visitors. That meant that only 4 people out of every 100 would see it. We honestly thought that was a really low rate. But, we admit, 4% could be way too much, especially if a few people were angered by it. So we cut it down by 50% and now only 2 out of 100 people will see it. We hope that if you are one of those 2 people, you're not completely put out!
And we hope that we can still gather the valuable input that we need.

"I was looking for double pointed bamboo needles and your site didn't provide prices."

Our response:

Actually, we do provide prices on all of our items that are for sale. I think the confusion comes from the fact that most needles have different prices based on the size.

Here's an example... Brittany Needles (the item) is actually a "parent" item. We do not assign prices to the
"parent" because each "child" (or choice in the drop down menu) has a different price. An item like this will show a $0 price until you select the size you are interested in purchasing. Once you choose the size (along with any other attributes available - like length, material, etc.) the price comes right up. So a customer would have seen this: and assumed we had no price listed. We're all different when it comes to computers. Even though I may think it's quite obvious that you need to select a size and length for the price to show up, I understand that not everyone gets that.

Luckily, it was simple to make this more clear. W
e've added a line of text (highlighted below in yellow) to alert folks that they have to
make a selection in the drop down menu for the price to appear. We really hope this is clear for everyone now.

I wanted to look at patterns by stitch gauge which I thought was offered at this site, but I could not find a place to search in that way.

Our Response:
Well, we do have this option currently, but we'll admit, it takes a few steps and there could be a
better solution.

For now, you would select Knitting Patterns in the top navigation bar, and choose shop by projectThen, let's say you would like to look at hats, so you'd select the icon for Hat Patterns.
Then, use the Narrow it Down menu and select the Weight of the yarn you want to use.
(We know we're a little inconsistent here. "Gauge" refers to stitches per inch and "Weight" refers to
weight of the yarn. We use them interchangeably, whether that's right or wrong. Kind of like hank, ball and skein, when we really mean "unit" of yarn. It's a knitter thing.)

Anyway, going forward, we CAN make a new category so that you can shop for patterns by stitch gauge. It's going to take some work but we just wanted you to know that it's coming. Look, there's already a place holder for it!
From changing things to make them better, to explaining things that are already there that you may be missing, please stay tuned for more things we're doing to make your time on our site easier.

Ready for Rainbows!

Our customer Linda recently brought in her finished Rainbow Sweater to show off the other day. After all the freezing temperatures up here in the frozen north land I'm ready to start thinking about some rainbows myself!

Linda added stripes to the Yankee Knitter Roll Raglan pattern. A couple of months ago she came in to pick out colors for this sweater. We found the perfect shades in Plymouth Encore Worsted. The request for this rainbow sweater came with very specific instructions to include not just blue... but indigo too. I think you'll agree, it's a true Roy G Biv matsterpiece!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Manic-In Monday

We had a lovely taste of spring on Friday when our temperatures hit 60! This bit of warmth inspired our gal to go spring in her wardrobe. She chose a fun linen blend top, with 3/4 sleeves and a yoke that only LOOKS hard. It's actually a just a variegated yarn used in stockinette stitch at the neck, resembling more difficult color changes. I won't tell if you won't! Sweater: Truia Sweater from Berroco Book #307 Linsey knit in Berroco Linsey yarn.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Knitting at Night

Two Saturdays ago I worked in the shop for Emily - as she wasn't feeling well. It was a busy day, with multiple classes, a lot of shoppers, and a lot of people in for knitting help.

A number of the folks I helped were so frustrated because they'd been knitting the night before and got to a place where they couldn't proceed because they didn't know how to do a particular thing. Don't you hate when that happens? But these days, you'd be surprised at what you can find on the internet to help you when you are in a rut, at night, when your LYS is closed.

Like... instructional knitting videos, on our very own website! Of course we have more coming, and if you can't find something on our site, there's always youtube. But I was struck by how many people had put their knitting aside the night before, most likely hissing and growling, thinking that they HAD to wait a whole day for help.

One customer needed help picking up stitches along a garter stitch edge. This video, though really intended for a Cabin Fever blanket, shows exactly how to pick up stitches this way.

Another customer didn't understand I-cord. Here we show you how to do it.

One customer had made a mistake in her knitting, and wasn't sure how to go back to the beginning of the row to fix it. I showed her how to "tink", and you can see it here as well.

And another customer needed help with the provisional cast on. Here's one way to do that!

So next time you are knitting at night and run into a knitter's roadblock, check online for a video! And maybe, just maybe, you won't have to put your knitting down for the night.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Free on Friday

Here's a free pattern from Berroco!This gorgeous cowl, called Ostrom, takes just 3 hanks of Ultra Alpaca Tonal. This simple 2 row rib pattern is worked on size 8 and 9 needles, so will go relatively quickly. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's Time to Feel the Burn!

That saying reminds me of days in the 80s, when I'd faithfully work out to Jane Fonda's aerobic videos. I left the high cut spandex & wide belt wearing to Jane, while I followed her moves, all the while hearing her say "Feel the burn!" Well, I did feel the burn, and I didn't like it! But I took it as a sign that the dreaded workout was almost over and the great feeling of having worked out, was about to begin. No pain, no gain, right?

That's sort of how I feel with this sweater. I'm making the vest out of the Sublime Luxurious Wooley
Merino in Book 639. The back and two fronts took me NO time. That was the easy part. I figured I'd be finished in just a few days. But then I started the neck.

The neckband is truly awesome. It's very textural, that stitch where you knit, leave the stitch on the needle, wrap the yarn around your thumb, knit the stitch again, and then bind off the first stitch over the second stitch. But each stitch takes as long to explain as it does to knit. And so while the main body of the vest went so quickly, the neckband made everything slow down to a dribble. Not much progress was being made.
And I switched to other projects like my Seedling sweater.

I just picked this vest up again yesterday and decided that I needed to push through, and really feel the burn on this thing, just to get to the other side... to finish it. I'm going to LOVE this sweater. It's so amazingly soft and cuddly. And that neckband!? While it is a bit of a chore to do, it's THE most cushy feeling handknit I've ever made. I'm so excited to have that softness right up around my neck!

So onward it is. I've now finished the first side. And the second one ALWAYS goes faster. Doesn't it?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Interweave Knits Spring 2011 Preview

I got home the other day and found my copy of the Spring 2011 issue of Interweave Knits in the mailbox, and then yesterday, the copies for the shop arrived. I always love to see what new designs they tempt us with for spring! Especially when it's SO cold outside like it is today. Dreaming of spring knits can make the make the outside temps seem a bit milder, don't you think?

Lots of things caught my eye as I went through the magazine. I especially loved the Rowan advertisement on page 17 for their new yarn Savannah. We just received this yarn and pattern
booklet, and it's been very well received in the shop so far. We did receive a model as well, that is not photographed in the ad. There quite a few nice patterns for this yarn.

The V-yoke Cardigan photographed on page 21 is stunning, and knit out of another new yarn for us... Classic Elite Firefly.
This yarn is so gorgeous. We just knit up a scarf from a free pattern in Classic Elite's Web Letter Issue 131 website and it's just beautiful.

The Cranberry Island Throw pictured on page 45 is so cool!
It calls for Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky. It would be fun to pick out colors for this!

I think my favorite sweater in the entire magazine is the Drop Mesh Tee shown page 57.
We don't carry the yarn it calls for, but I would probably substitute Elsebeth Lavold Cool Wool or maybe the Plymouth Select Worsted Merino Superwash.

The Curvy Squares Tee shown on page 76 is made with Plymouth Mushishi.
I really like the wide neck and short sleeves, and of course, that gorgeous color.

Come on in and preview this magazine for yourself. After all, it's time to start thinking spring!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Show your Valentine's spirit

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Recently customers have been asking for Valentine inspired knits. Honestly - we don't have a lot! It's just one day of the year, and there aren't a whole lot of patterns that are dedicated to just one day...

However, we feel you can take any hand knit item and jazz it up for Valentine's Day. Take this hat for example:
It's a quick bulky beanie pattern with two little hearts stitched on the side. We used Malabrigo Chunky in Vermillion and a small amount of Plymouth Angora in white for the hearts. This hat will keep you warm and spread some love and cheer at the same time. Once Valentine's Day has come and gone, you can easily remove the hearts... if you want!

So think outside of the box when you are searching for something special to knit. Sometimes a search for "Valentine's patterns" will yield nothing... you just have to search within yourself to see what you can come up with!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Spotlight on Sirdar

I recently added some new Sirdar patterns to the website, and thought I'd share some of them here, since they are WAY too cute. I don't know what it is about these patterns... the styles, the yarns the models? But there a some really cute ones and they're not all just for babies!

How about hats for
babies? Pattern 1711 has 6 styles all in one leaflet! That's a great bargain.

Want a sweater for a little girl? You'll certainly have a hard time making a decision. I love patterns 1723 and 1761 for baby gifts
- because they both have a sweater, hat & booties. Pattern 1752 is adorable with an I-cord flower on the front. I love the matching sweater and beret in pattern 1760.
For boys, there are great Aran sweater options. Try the beautifully cabled & hooded pattern
1733, or pattern 1759, or pattern 1887. Pattern 1807 is a simple, yet sweet pullover and has a matching blanket. Speaking of baby blankets, pattern 1903 has 2 fun options.There are some nice patterns for accessories that use the fair isle Crofter DK. You want legwarmers, wrist warmers or socks? Then pattern 9135 is perfect. Or try your hand at one of four great hats in pattern 9189.There are some great patterns for adults as well. Like the vest for women in pattern 9248 or for men in pattern 9130. This is just a small sampling!