Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Girasole - Remember Me?

contributed by Shawn

Back in October Jill posted some photos of my (then) current UFO's. Remember this?
Well, I am happy to report that the Girasole afghan is no longer an unfinished object.

I had run out of yarn and wasn't sure what to use to finish this project. After some deliberation I decided to place a special order for Cascade Eco Wool in a dyed color to finish the pattern up. (Did you know we are happy to do this for you?)
Finished Girasole afghan, laid out on the classroom floor
I've been using this story to illustrate to customers that even we get in a bind every once and while! It's normal to have to make changes to patterns and projects now and again. And to re-knit sections... did you know I re-knit the border of this project 3 times? I kept running out of yarn and I really didn't want to add more yardage to the project so I had to "tink" and adjust until I got it right. 

I finished this with just about a week to spare. I took it to Maine last weekend as a gift, and it was really well received!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Elijah the Elephant

contributed by Shawn

Michele has been busy in the home toy crafting department.  She grabbed the Debbie Bliss Rialto leftovers from her son Eli's sweater vest and turned them into the perfect little baby shower gift.
Look at Elijah. Isn't he cute? The Rialto DK yarn is 100% extra fine merino wool that is machine washable so it is perfect for a child's toy.  He is so cuddly that I may have to make one of these too.  I might try making him larger by using the Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece yarn in Dusty Sage.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Winging It

I was messing around on Pinterest the other day and found several beautiful crochet rugs. It was such a coincidence because the day before I was walking in town and saw a similar one hanging in the window of one of my favorite shops here - the Taito Shop. (This is the shop where I bought the paper yarn and saw the Yule Goats in December, which I brought back and made with my staff after Christmas.)
Rug hanging in window, like ones I'd just seen online
I knew that seeing one in in town and then seeing several online meant that I had to make one myself. So I grabbed my coat and headed out for the Taito Shop. Inside the shop I immediately spotted another example of one of these rugs - this one was only about 14" across and was a bit different than the one in the window. I studied it to try to determine whether or not I could reproduce it successfully with my limited crochet ability. 
Small example of rug, about 14" across
I found the women there who always helps me (her English is good and she's very helpful) and asked her about the rug in the window. Luckily she had made it. I asked if she had a pattern for it and she said no, it was in her head. Then I asked her about the increases - I know how to increase properly in single crochet, but this rug has doubles and half doubles and I figured a pattern would certainly be helpful.

Unfortunately, she told me I just had to "wing it". She said if the edges started to turn up, rip back and increase more, and if the edges started to ripple, rip back and increase less. Even in my limited knowledge of crochet, I DID know that much. But okay! I was in love with this rug, and determined to WING IT.

I had my Denise Crochet Kit with me, and when I pulled it out to ask her if the largest size hooks were big enough for this project you should have seen her eyes! She had never seen anything like this crochet hook kit before - her eyes just about popped out of her head. We settled on a 12mm (US 17) hook.

I bought two huge hanks of a very thick cotton jersey type yarn - in total about 2.8 kilos. I wound the first one into a ball and it was massive!
First ball, wound

And then I got to work. I haven't crocheted in a while so I pulled out my TNNA How to Crochet guide. This is my go-to book for crocheting. It covers all the basics and is really helpful when you need a few reminders. I'm experimenting with half doubles and doubles and so far "winging it" has been going pretty well. I've only had to rip it back a few times.
The beginnings of my rug
I'm making this rug for the girls' patio. Of course it's still way too cold to use the patio, but we've had a few days of above freezing weather here with lots of sun, so we're already thinking about spring. They love the color I picked and are excited to have this thick, comfy rug for their own space. 

Each round is now taking so much longer to do, and it's very hard work on my hand and arm. And talk about HOT flashes... this thing is so heavy and warm I have to sit by an open window to work on it. It's almost 2' across now, and I am aiming for 3' or a little larger. As you can see, the first ball is now almost gone.
Getting larger. It's HOT on the lap!
I'm having so much fun with this large scale crochet that I am considering making a few crocheted rag rugs for our other patio. I may use this jersey yarn, or I may hit the "As Is" department at Ikea and pick up some fun fabric remnants to make the rugs a little more colorful. And I'm definitely going to go for rectangular shapes on those... this "winging it" stuff is a little stressful on my Type A personality.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flowing Locks - Upcoming Class

contributed by Shawn

Get ready to cable!  I just finished the sample of the Flowing Locks Hat for our Knitting Cables Class ( that is coming up in a few weeks. We still have a few spots so give us a call if you want to get some cable instruction!
This Figheadh pattern that makes a great beginning cable project. And remember, all Figheadh patterns are available as PDF downloads, which is convenient since knitters are looking for more of those these days.

I'm so tired of the "browns" of our mostly snow-less winter that I decided to brighten things up a bit with a Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in bright red. This is a wonderful yarn to knit with and it shows off the cables in this pattern really well. The little bit of cashmere really makes this yarn even softer! It is a great choice for items that will be worn close to the skin like scarves, hats, or cowls.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Headed to Maine and Packing the Berets

contributed by Shawn 

I'm going to be spending a couple of days visiting folks in Maine.  Since I'll be a house guest for part of my stay I made a couple of gifts for the hosts. Turns out that the snazzy head wear most coveted by these particular Peaks Island residents are berets! 

I hadn't knit a beret style hat before, but armed with an easy free pattern from Plymouth and their lovely Angora yarn I found it wasn't difficult at all.   
For a more manly version, I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca Worsted in black and the same pattern, with a couple of minor adjustments.   
To make the black beret just as cozy as the purple one I turned the hat band inside out, picked up stitches and knit in a liner along the band with the black Plymouth Angora.

I hope these are warm enough for the ferry commute from Peaks Island to Portland!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Toasty Toes

contributed by Shawn

One of the physical discomforts that I dread the most is COLD toes.  All winter I have to have thick wool socks on or felted slippers and even then I often feel a chill in my feet. When making an afghan, I always plan to make the largest size so that I can drape it from my head to my feet and tuck it in nicely at the bottom to keep my toes warm. 

I've picked out the Fir Cone Lace Blanket as a perfect candidate for my next toe warmer. This is going to knit up quickly with bulky yarn and with a finished size of 50" wide by 60" length it is sure to keep me covered on cold days! It's time to replace the worn grey garter stitch blanket that graces the couch in my house - Indigo (the cat) has claimed it and gets grumpy if anyone tries to take it away from him. (Believe me when I say you should beware grumpy Siamese cats!) 

I absolutely love the drape of the Berroco Vintage Chunky yarn used in our shop sample so I think I'm going to pick out a dark blue - Juniper (color #6188) or maybe Blue Moon (color #61191)? 
The living room rug is all shades of blue and both of these shades have a lot of color depth to them so they'll look stunning on the couch.  The pattern is a nice easy lace pattern and has a fair amount of repetition.  I'm thinking this will be a perfect way to undertake a new television series marathon to finish out the Vermont winter.

Monday, February 20, 2012

It All Started with a Rice Basket

I wanted to share this awesome article about Lantern Moon with all of you. It's from the August 2011 issue of Yarn Market News, and even though that was 6 months ago, it's worth a read (or re-read).

Grab your coffee and take 5 minutes to read about a great company with a feel-good mission and kick-you-know-what products.
We LOVE the Lantern Moon products we sell. From the whimsical tape measures and fun stitch markers to the gorgeous and functional baskets and silk needle cases and high quality knitting needle sets, they're all great!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When One Pattern is Really 2... or 20!

Some of my favorite patterns are those that offer directions for making the same garment in any number of yarn weights. This means that you purchase just one pattern, and you can make it over and over again in different yarns for different sized people. Heck, you can even add stitch patterning to make each one look different!

Over the years I've used a number of patterns that fall into this category. Some of my favorites are:

Yankee Knitter Classic Socks for the Family #29 is sized for Babies, Small Children, Large Children, Women and Men, and has directions for Fingering Weight, Sport Weight and Worsted Weight Yarns. That's 18 different patterns right there. Then you can customize these by adding texture stitches, ribs, etc. It's the number one sock pattern we sell, and we think one of the only ones you'll ever need to purchase.

Ann Norling's Kid's Top Down Raglan or Bottom Up Raglan: Both of these versatile sweater patterns encourage you to experiment with different colors, textures, yarn weights and stitches. Each pattern has instructions for 7 sizes in 4 different weights (that's 28 patterns!) And then add the choices of cardigan or pullover... and v-neck or crew neck. You do the math!

Yankee Knitter Hats & Mittens Pattern #26 is a great basic pattern for anyone wanting to knit mittens for the first time. These mittens are worked flat, so the pattern won't give you practice working in the round, but the mittens fit great and the seam is barely noticeable. Both the hat pattern and the mitten pattern are written for 6 sizes in 2 gauges, and the hat includes 2 style options.

Over the past couple of years, I've been adding some of the Figheadh Yarnworks Fundamentals patterns to this staple collection. From socks to sweaters and hats to vests, Figheadh has some excellent patterns. 

This fall I made the Figheadh Yarnworks Fundamental Top-Down Baby Cardigan this fall out of Classic Elite Liberty Wool Print. What a great pattern! The self striping yarn did all the work, but next time it would be fun to use a solid yarn and add a cable pattern.
And I just completed a Figheadh Yarnworks Fundamental Junior Vest the other day. I used the SMC Bravo Rainbow Color yarn, which is a fun washable acrylic that's a tweedy striping yarn. There is enough yardage in one ball to make up to a child's size 12 or 14. And this pattern makes 12 different sizes in 4 different gauges, so it's a definite keeper.