Friday, July 29, 2011

Lace Knitters, Rejoice!

We are carrying Rowan Kid Silk Haze again, and we've got 13 gorgeous colors in stock, with one more due shortly.

And this isn't lace knitting, but check out this gorgeous shawl! Information on this will be posted soon on the website, but it's so pretty we just had to share.

If you're local, come on in and check this out in person. The photo just doesn't compare to the real life version!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Knitting with Staples

And no, I don't mean the bent pieces of metal that hold papers together! I mean staple patterns. Do you have any?

A staple pattern for me is one I use over and over and over. It's a pattern that is well written and easy to understand. A pattern I can use as a launching pad for my own creativity. One that gives me the basic sizing information, that can be customized by my own yarn choice, or by my addition of a stitch pattern. 

Figheadh Yarnworks Fundamentals patterns are all staples. The patterns in this series are all for basic items like hats, socks, sweaters and vests, but they cover a huge range of sizes and they're all written for multiple yarn weights. It's such a bonus when you can use a pattern multiple times!

We sell almost all of the Figheadh patterns in the shop, and we carry ALL of their PDF patterns. I'm thrilled about the PDF versions - my new printer was recently having issues and it would NOT print. So I emailed the PDF that I was working on to my Kindle, and I was in business!

The Figheadh pattern I'm doing is a new one: #F11 Top Down Baby Cardigan. With all the baby knitting people like to do, this one is a must have. You can make the same sweater over and over, and never have it look the same!

Mine is knitting up so quickly! I am using the Classic Elite Liberty Wool Print, which is new for us this year. I wanted to bring it in to the shop last year, but didn't. Lesson learned... I should have! We're always looking for more variegated or self striping yarns in worsted weight and this was a great addition. This yarn comes in beautiful colors that work well for both adults and kids, and it's machine washable and soft. I'm really enjoying working with it, and glad I will have enough left to whip up a hat of some sort.

As you can see, I finally got my printer to work. An upcoming car trip and a dead Kindle battery was a good motivator for me to tackle the printer issues. I won!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Manic-In Monday

The heat wave last week was awful and we're thrilled to be breathing in some cooler air. So is our gal! New fall yarns have been arriving for weeks now, and her wardrobe has just gotten a little bigger with all the new fall sweater samples. This one is a sophisticated body-skimming cardigan edged with ribbing and a hint of plush texture along the front bands. And even though the color of this sweater is super classic, she grabbed a little colorful Koigu (see the new colors on the wall behind her?) to accessorize. 

And to show you how different this sweater looks in another color, check this one out!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I spotted another one

So remember a couple of weeks ago I spotted my first yarn bombing here in Tampere? Well, I know that there are many more of these throughout the city... just take a look at the map that shows them all. But instead of studying the map, and then actively going out and trying to find these little "signs" I decided it would be much more fun to NOT look for them. And to see when (and if) I spot any more.

The other night we were walking home from downtown, through the Laukontori Market which is a few hundred yards from our apartment. By day it's a bustling area with food stands selling local sausages and ice cream cones, and farm vendors selling the most delicious strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peas, mushrooms, potatoes and more. There are also several large boats there that ferry people out and around the lake. At night it quiets down. And that was when we found it.
By "we" I mean Helen. She noticed it and and grabbed me to check it out. Now this one is even closer to our apartment, and I think in the past month we have walked by it at least 60 times. It's on a bench and usually there are people sitting on the bench. The other night, it was later, and the bench was empty. And there it was!
It's called Lovely Summer Market and it's from June 2010. It still looks pretty good in my opinion.
And it got me thinking... wouldn't it be great to use your swatches like this? You know how we always recommend that you swatch before you start your project? Yarn bombing doesn't always have to be on such a huge scale. I think small ones have their place too!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Is this heat making you dizzy?

It's been unbearably hot this past week in many parts, including here in Vermont! We're so thankful we've got cool, cool air conditioning in the shop.

How are you staying cool? Here's Kaiser, the dog who lives next to our shop. In the winter we watch as he jumps up to bite the falling snowflakes for hours at a time. It never gets old for him! And now on hot days, his method of staying cool takes him round and round and round:
He's not even dizzy yet. Thanks to Emily for filming his fun!

Look what's blooming!

contributed by Shawn

Remember this?

Jill felted these flowers for this sample of the Pagewood Farm Needle Felted Designer Yarn Kit.

Well the other day Emily and I decided that it was such a lovely skein of designer yarn that we should do something to show it off in the shop. And now we have a scarf using the finished yarn. It's beautiful!
We modified the Super Bulky Instant Gratification Scarf pattern by casting on 6 stitches instead of the 12 that we used for the Rasta scarf.

Don't forget that you can get a kit to just make the flowers using the Pagewood Farm Needle Felted Flower Kit and then you can needle felt them onto any of your finished wool projects.

Thinking ahead to cooler times, this is going to be such a fun and bright bit of summer sun when it snows this winter!

Friday, July 22, 2011

White Witch Mitts

I've finished my shop sample of a White Witch Mitts (the left hand to be precise!) Here are my comments on this project:
  • I've admired this pattern for quite some time now. So when I started knitting it a couple of weeks ago after I'd landed in Finland, I noticed that the name "Laura Rintala" just sounded SO Finnish. (Is it the Finnish lessons I'm taking that are starting to pay off? Or just all the Finnish words I see and hear each day that clued me in to this?) Anyway, after some online research, I think I might be right... So how coincidental that it's my first project in Finland.
  • The pattern was a great one for me to practice my color knitting. I knit the English way, and though I can knit Continental, I prefer not to. My reasons? About 20 years of NOT knitting that way, plus a completely uncoordinated left hand make it very slow and painful. But, now that I live in the land of fair isle - where people knit with two colors because they need the extra warmth - I am determined to improve my skills.
  • The ribbing proved tough because it was K2 with the MC and P2 with the CC. I started out with the MC in my right hand and that lasted for all of 10 seconds. My Continental knitting is slow enough but my Continental purling? Forget it! My workaround was to put the main color in my left hand and knit that Continental, and purl the CC "my" way with my right hand. It was a decision that saved the day.
  • Once I got to the main pattern - which is all in stockinette - I did well. Still slower than normal, but I totally managed. I do find that my tension was a bit snug, so I should have gone up one needle size for that part. But the ribbing was fine.
  • I love the finished mitten! I think the colors are lovely (Nature Spun Sport in Turquoise Wonder, Limestone, Deep Sea and Spring Green) and it definitely softened up after I blocked it.
  • It's a touch small, mostly in the hand. I'm positive this is from my gauge (as mentioned above).
Now that I've successfully jumped back into fair isle, I am pondering my next project. I may practice on another one that I've been looking at before launching into designing one of my own.

But, since my hands were a bit cramped after all that color knitting, I am working on a few swatches out of a book on Mosaic Knitting I have from Barbara Walker. 
They're looking good, and my hands are thankful.
It's definitely color work for cheaters!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

At The Farm

I'm so in love with the projects inside Susan B. Anderson's book At The Farm that I had to share them here... We've had the book in stock for a while now, but with my move I've been a bit tardy in adding some items to the website. I finally added this book a couple of days ago, and it's clearly a winner. I think it's the perfect gift for any expectant mom who knits.
It's a knit-and-read book, with 13 knitted projects and a cute story about Spud (a feisty pet sheep) and his owner Chloë (his perky owner) as they visit a farm and meet all of the animals that live there. The story is adorable, and the photography is beautiful.

Each of the projects in this book can be seen on Ravelry in detail, and they're worth a look. They're knitted in Spud & Chloë Sweater, Spud & Chloë Fine and Spud & Chloë Outer. Here's Spud with his beautifully textured coat - there's even a great video posted on how to do this stitch.
And here's Chloë sitting in the knitted barnyard with Spud and Brown Cow.
This is Little Lamb, a smaller and darker version of Spud:
Mother Hen and her chicks are great for little kids to play with. The chicks all fit underneath Mother Hen in an inside "pocket" and they come out of their own little shells. Very interactive!
The Piglet has cute pink ears and a fun curly tail.
There are more cute animals in this book... like a farm dog, a barn cat and little mice. And the "props" are just great... including hay bales, a bucket, a picket fence and a foldable "barn". It reminds me of the Fischer Price Playskool barn I had when I was little... but it's made by hand!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The other day Marc and the girls and I were exploring Tampere. We were walking on Kuninkaankatu ( a street!) and I looked up and spotted the most wonderful sight! The fence (the entire length of the street) was lined with gloves and mittens!
My first thought was that I had stumbled upon some knit graffiti, as many were hand knit. But upon closer inspection, I realized that this was not the work of a yarn bomber, but rather the work of many people... kind folks who spotted a lost mitten in the snow, and simply picked it up and put it on the fence so it could be rescued by its original owner. 
I'm sure a lot of mittens have been found here, but I love how the lonely ones remain, in the middle of summer, as a reminder of what is to come.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2011 Preview

Get it while it's hot!  The word is out about Vogue Knitting Magazine Early Fall 2011. 

Capes are in and we've already shipped Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica to customers as far away as Australia for the Reindeer Capelet. (Remember, it's winter there!)

Mohair, always a favorite, is also featured and the winners of Vogue's Magical Mohair competition are revealed. Now the staff are eying the colors we feature of Debbie Bliss Angel wondering which to pick first.

Recognize this?

It's a schematic.  We spend a lot of time explaining how important this feature of a pattern can be to customers. Carol Sulcoski's The Big Little Picture: Making Sense of Schematics article does an excellent job detailing what the schematic is for and how to make the information is portrays work for you and your projects.  "The beauty of the schematic is that it tells you exactly what size each piece of your garment needs to be." Who knew?!

Of course there are lots of great designs in this issue too.  The one that has made my queue is the Long Vest by John Brinegar.  
This one is knit in one of our favorite winter yarns - Rowan Lima! I think it would look stunning in Berroco Flicker too.

We have already sold through 2 orders of this magazine in the shop. It's a good one!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Needle Felting Inspiration - You've GOT to Check This Out!

Ever tried needle felting? We carry some great kits in the shop if you've never given it a try. The kits are relatively simple since they tell you exactly what to do.

Check out Kiyoshi Mino's website for the most inspiring needle felted animals I've ever seen. My sister in California came across this website and shared it with me earlier today. Thanks Kristin!

Can you believe how talented he is? This cat, this heron and this owl just take my breath away!

Read more about these animals on his blog!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wowser Weekend, part 2

contributed by Shawn

To finish my post from the other day... here are more things you'll find inside the Interweave Knits Weekend 2011.

I love the Norquin Beret by Kate Gagnon Osborn for two reasons.
One: it is knit with the Fibre Company Canopy Fingering yarn and we have new colors since last year.  The yarn is so soft and creates such a nice halo I can't wait to knit with it and pick out my color scheme.  Two: I've got to learn how to do the Estonian roositud-inlay technique to create that amazing woven-look 'embroidery' detail.  Fully explained in the pattern of course!

There are a couple of children's patterns that are cute as can be.  I wish that the Purl Stripe Cardigan knit in Plymouth Merino Superwash yarn was designed in adult sizes! 

I would use the Knit One Crochet Too Wrapunzl yarn for the striping and it would be so much fun to wear - machine washable too!

Can you believe all this is in one magazine?! I've barely brushed the surface  here.

And there are great articles here too. Do you have questions about how to Care for Handknit items? Do you know people who need to learn more about how to treat hand knit items?  There is an amazing article, Wash Me: A Comprehensive Guide to Caring for Hand knits, by Larissa Gibson in here too! 

Want to know more about how the fiber, construction, or garment type might affect how you should wash your project?  Wish you knew more about what fibers might pill or wear poorly BEFORE you choose to knit your favorite sweater in them?  Ever wonder the best ways to prevent MOTH damage?

And if you are a bit more interested in how you yourself can also look your best wearing hand knits?  How about the How to Wear a Scarf expose?  This includes 10 different ways to arrange and flaunt your beautiful mobius, skinny, or standard style scarves.  Best part? There are how-to illustrations and instructions on 'how-to-tie' those fancy knots!

There's more, but I really have to get back to the magazine.  I want to take a look at that article on twisted stitches and figure out how to do that reversible Brioche ribbing too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wowser Weekend!

contributed by Shawn

Wowser!  That's what I said when we received our shipment of Interweave Knits' special Weekendmagazine for 2011 last week. I can't believe the goodies that are packed into this magazine! Since the shop was busy over the holiday weekend I only just had a chance to glance into the photo index at the end of the magazine briefly when it arrived. I love that there is a photo index at the back to show all of the projects. It's even arranged by month so if you are so inclined and organized all you have to do is sit back and knit one delicious project after another!

There are so many great projects in this magazine that I'll have to break this up into two posts. I grabbed the magazine and have been glued to it ever since. Here are the highlights (in my opinion) so far!

The Gansey Legwarmers by Courtney Kelley take just 3 skeins of Road to China Light yarn.  
Such a luxury but it would be worth it to pair these with the Alice cowl I knit last fall...

Speaking of Cowls, the Mixt Cowl by Cirilia Rose is knit from Berroco's new yarn Boboli.
 This is a great worsted weight yarn that is a lighter version of it's 'cousin' yarn that came out last year, Borealis. Both yarns come in delicious colors!  I can't wait to make one of these 'infinity-type' cowls as a gift.

The color of the Manos Silk Blend in the photo for the Wheat Field Scarflette by Cecily Glowik MacDonald definitely caught my eye!  Topaz is one of my favorite shades so now I might need one of these skinny little scarves that forms a gentle arc of garter stitching along the lace border in this color for myself.  It takes just 2 skeins!

Then there is the positively RADIANT Spoked Cardigan by Carol Feller that uses short row shaping to create a yoke of radiating garter ridges.  Gotta love the colors to choose from in the Noro Kureyon for this too.  (New colors of this yarn should be arriving soon at the shop.)

Last year I knit an amazingly gorgeous Stratum hat from the Fibre Company Terra yarn for a friend's birthday. I think I'll have to match that this year with these Kilronan Mittens by Kate Gagnon Osborn.  I love the tight cabling and know the pattern will keep fingers super warm and cosy using Terra's lovely baby alpaca, wool, and silk fiber blend.
I'll finish my raving in the next post... believe me, this magazine is a keeper.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mini models!

We love knitting for little ones, and we love it even more when the little ones like to model our knits! Here's the Sweetie Pie Hat I made recently being modeled by none other than... a total Sweetie Pie!

I want this one!
Looks like she's already picked out her yarn, she's feeling how soft the Be Sweet Bambino Taffy yarn really is! This pattern is free on the ball band and it takes just one skein.

Hand Crafts of Estonia

On Friday Marc and I took the girls on a day trip to Tallinn, Estonia. We drove 2 hours south to Helsinki, and then took a 2 hour boat ride to Tallinn. 

We visited Tallinn's "Old Town" which is an walled city of colorful houses, hidden courtyards, twisting cobblestone lanes and beautiful churches.
Aerial view of the Old Town
I was thrilled to find that Tallinn was also full of incredible handcrafts, which were available for sale in many small shops and in the marketplace. (Perhaps the 5 women knitting on the boat ride over were a sign of what I would see?)
The post office
We made the 15 minute walk from the port to one of the smaller entrances of the Old Town. I loved the winding streets and how the old stone buildings contrasted with the colorful doors and walls!
Hidden courtyards & colorful doors
We wandered around and finally came to Harju street, one of the main entrances. There were lots of booths set up along the inside wall of the city and many of them were full of hand knits.
A booth in the Town Hall Square. Vendors were all dressed in medieval costumes and knitting or sewing while selling their wares.
The women were knitting away happily, and seemed to be unaware of the heat (it was in the mid 80s!) and the fact that they were wearing long, heavy medieval costumes. We were in shorts and were always searching for the shady side of the street!
A booth nestled on the inside of the city wall, on Müürivahe Street
Hand knit sweaters, hats and gloves are an Estonian specialty and we found them everywhere we turned. In stores, in booths on sidewalks, and right out in the middle of Town Hall Square.
Gorgeous hand knit socks with embroidered flowers
Traditional snowflake designs
Helen couldn't believe how many gorgeous sweaters there were
More traditional mittens and socks
Socks, socks and more socks
Miniature knitted kitties looking for a new home
There were also lots of felted items. Toys, hats, slippers, felted pieces worked into woven rugs...
Felted toys in a shop window
Felted hats of all styles sold in the Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square)
Weaving... now this was one of my favorites. So different than anything I've ever seen.
Beautiful felted slippers
Felted finds
And more felted finds
There were lots of embroidered linens - from placements to hand towels to clothing...
A child's linen dress entices visitors into this shop
And yarn! I did find some of that too!
This yarn looked yummy!
I was so inspired by all of the knits I saw in Tallinn, that I grabbed some Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport (my long awaited yarn stash DID finally arrive!) and started something of my own. Here's a peak, but more details to follow...