Monday, April 30, 2012


contributed by Shawn

This year I have a lot of wedding knitting to do.  Each summer for the last couple of years I've had one wedding amongst my friends and I've picked out an afghan project to be the gift that I give.  A couple of weeks ago I got this years' invitations. Yep, plural, as in the same day two invitations arrived for two separate weddings. (Fortunately, the weddings are not scheduled for the same day even though the invites arrived on the same day... whew!) So with 2 wedding gifts to knit, let the pattern choosing begin!

I like to choose the patterns first and then pick out the yarn. I think it's easier to do in that order even though I know I will need to use something machine-washable for both of these gifts.  In the past I've used Berroco Comfort yarn and I really like knitting with it so I started my pattern search in the Berroco Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans book.

When this book came out I started a list of the afghans in it I wanted to try.  I've already done a couple of them and I just couldn't decide on the style for the next one.  Barb has been teaching a lot of crochet students recently and this inspired Emily's suggestion to me to look more closely at the crochet patterns in the book.  I know how to crochet but I am much more likely to pick up a knitting project as I have much more knowledge and experience with knitting than I do with crochet techniques.   

So until now I haven't really considered the crochet patterns in the book. Several of them have been quite popular with our customers and when I took a closer look I really liked the colors and the striping diamond pattern in the Greenway pattern. Better yet, the stitches used in this afghan are basic ones and I knew this would be something that I could attempt myself with maybe a bit of help from Barb along the way. 

I picked out colors and I really like how it is coming together! I'm using Berroco Comfort in the following colors: Navy Blue (9763), Rabe (9754), Olive (9781), Sprig (9721), and Barley (9703).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reverse Shaping

I can't tell you how many times we've had customers come in to the shop for help on the second front of a cardigan, or on the second side of a v-neck pullover, when their instructions have told them what to do for the fist front (or side) and then told them to simply "reverse the shaping" to complete the second side. It's very common for a pattern designer to include this in the instructions. Not only does it save precious paper space on the printed pattern, but once you've done this "reverse shaping" several times, it really isn't difficult, so I think they assume we all know how to do it.

If you don't know how to do this, and even if you DO know, Amanda from Berroco has just made an excellent video on this very topic. So take 6 minutes now and watch as she walks us through the shaping of a right front of a cardigan, and offers up some great tidbits of info along the way. (Right front? Is that as we're looking at it, or as we're wearing it? Another top question we get!)

Afterwards, be sure to bookmark it so you can refer back to it the next time you run into these nebulous instructions.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Preview of a New Yarn

I've been cooking up a crochet project in my head and was hoping to use a colorful yarn with a longer color repeat. Noro came to mind first, and I considered Silk Garden and Kureyon. But they are just too heavy for what I have in mind. 

The new Noro Ayatori is a perfect weight, but with it's 40% silk content and low yardage (155), the cost sky rocketed so I decided against it.

What about Zauberball? We've got this yarn in the shop in the fingering weight, and customers love it for shawls and socks. It would be perfect, but I thought that maybe a fingering weight crochet project would be pushing my luck. I want to finish a project, not just start one!

So I decided to get the Zauberball Starke 6 which is a DK weight. Perfect! I've started the project but won't work any more on it until next week. I'm chaperoning a trip to England with the girls and their class. Lots of bus, airport and plane time will be perfect for this project. I just had to start now to be sure I knew what I was doing!

Look for Zauberball Stark 6 on our shelves soon. And think socks, baby sweaters, gloves, and other accessories!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Crochet Sweater

contributed by Barb

A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I drove to CT to visit family. She's been driving for a few years now so I let her drive so I could start a new project.

I  had just purchased the Crochet Circle Vest Shrug Pattern from LazyTcrochet and was eager to get started. I didn't have time in CT, but worked on it a bit on the drive and it's coming along nicely!
I'm using Berroco Remix and my Denise Crochet Hook set.  The Remix is wonderful to work with - I've been waiting to use this yarn for a sweater and I think this is the perfect one!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Linen Stitch Scarf

contributed by Barb

A customer came into the shop this winter wearing a beautiful scarf around her neck. Of course, we asked her the typical questions:"Did you make your scarf?", "What yarn did you use?" and "What pattern did you use?"
In addition to knitting and crocheting, I also weave. The scarf had a woven look to it, and it was so inspiring that I picked out some yarn and started one in a linen stitch pattern right away. As you can see, I didn't get very far, but since my New Years resolution was to finish some projects, I recently pulled this scarf out and I am determined to finish it. 

It is really a mindless pattern and since I'm working in the round there are no purl rows.  When I am finished, I will drop stitches, unravel them and cut for fringe.  I just love the way a twisted fringe looks and will probably use that method to secure my ends.

I realized I'd like to add one or two more colors, and the new Koigu and Anne that just arrived will be perfect. After all, bright colors are in!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Open Knit & Crochet Kicks Off This Thursday!

Hey knitters and crocheters! Let's get together for some good clean stitching! What's more fun than a shop full of fiber? A shop full of fiber and stitchers!

We've just scheduled "Open Knit & Crochet" afternoons on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month from 2 pm - 4 pm. These afternoons are meant for working on our latest projects and sharing ideas and inspirations. It's not a class, it's a gathering! All in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. We'll meet in the shop and if needed move to more spacious quarters on the second floor.  Because we're meeting during open shop hours, there will be no formal instruction. 

Please join us this week on Thursday, April 19th (the 3rd Thursday of April) for our first Open Knit & Crochet. Bring your current fiber related project to work on and enjoy the company of other enthusiastic fiber folk.  We can't wait to see you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stash Busting Child's Hat

This past Saturday we took a day trip to Helsinki and we traveled by train. On Friday night I set aside a travel knitting bag for my train knitting. I had just finished my crocheted baby blanket the night before and so I was itching for a knitting project.
Circles & Squares Baby Blanket - finished!
I decided to knit the Little Henry Car Coat - a cute little sweater in Sublime Baby Book #648 knit with Sublime Baby Silk & Bamboo yarn. I got a small bag ready and located the yarn, the needles and the notions I would need. But the pattern? MIA. I searched every nook and cranny of this tiny apartment, but I just couldn't find it. 

So, I grabbed some leftover Elsebeth Lavold Cool Wool from my stash and threw it into the bag with a couple of crochet hooks. I had no idea what I'd do with it, but it was all I could come up with!

The next morning on the train, I started a hat. I worked on it on the way to Helsinki, and on the way back from Helsinki, and then a little the next morning. I finished it off with a few flowers, and viola! It's a cute stash busting child's hat. 
Here's the pattern:
75g of stash yarn, worsted
size F crochet hook

This hat should fit a child 18 mos - 2 years? It measures 17". To make it larger (or smaller) just repeat your increase rounds more (or less) and then add more (or less) length to the hat. 

Make an adjustable loop circle.
Round 1:  Ch 2 (counts as 1 hdc), 7 hdc into circle, join with sl st into 2nd of ch 2. Pull adjustable loop to close circle. (8 hdc)

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 hdc), hdc into same stitch, 2 hdc into every hdc, join with sl st into 2nd of ch 2. (16 hdc)

Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as 1 hdc), 2 hdc into next hdc, [1 hdc into next hdc, 2 hdc into next hdc] repeat to end of round, join with sl st into 2nd of ch 2. (24 hdc)
Round 4: Ch 2 (counts as 1 hdc), 1 hdc into next hdc, 2 hdc into next hdc, [1 hdc into each of next 2 hdc, 2 hdc into next hdc] repeat to end of round, join with sl st into 2nd of ch 2. (32 hdc)

Rounds 5 - ??: continue working in hdc and increasing in this manner (8 sts per round) until your circle measures 6" in diameter. Then continue working rounds of hdc with no increases until desired length (I worked for about 3.5-4").

With any color, make an adjustable loop circle.
Round 1: [ch 7, sl st into the ring] 6 times. Pull adjustable loop to close circle. (6 petals started)
Round 2: In 1st ch-sp [sc, hdc, dc, 5 tr, dc, hdc, sc], repeat alternating colors for each petal. (You will have two petals per color.)

Weave in ends and attach randomly to hat. 
I love 3 dimensional hats!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Puff Daddy

contributed by Shawn

Wow. That's what I thought when I spied the Puff Daddy ottoman by Anna & Heidi Pickles on Ravelry. These things are neato! Inspired by the pouf from Christien Meinderstsma Anna and Heidi came up with a DIY version, and were nice enough to have posted it as a free pattern. 
The original artist/designer seems to have created this object from one strand of an absolutely enormous yarn and there is a video showing the process that I found quite fascinating toward the end when the 'yarn' is going through the spinning process at the mill. 

When our first shipment of Brown Sheep Burly Spun yarn arrived at the shop I knew I was looking at the perfect yarn for a Puff of my very own! I calculated the yardage and took home 6 skeins of Burly Spun.  The puff is knitted using 3 strands of this yarn held together at the same time!  So I also invested in a pair of new Addi Turbo circular needles in size 19 US!

First chore: yarn winding.  One skein of the Burly Spun just barely fits onto the bobbin/spindle on my ball winder before I have to finish winding the skein by hand. I ended up winding the last skein by hand from my swift - it was just as fast as using the ball winder.

The knitting was super fast at this gauge! My puff was done in one day! (Ok, truth, it was my day off so I had more knitting time available than on a typical day.) This pattern is super easy - no shaping and no purling - it's simply one large garter stitch rectangle. 

I made a couple of key modifications - I used a provisional cast-on so that I could do a 3-needle bind off. Why? So that my seam would not be bulky! This slight modification also give me a more invisible join along the garter stitch fabric of my puff than if I had seamed two finished edges together.

When the rectangle is finished you thread yarn through the side stitches to gather the fabric together leaving the bottom edge open for stuffing.  I happened to have an old duvet so I balled this up and put it inside.  Unfortunately one old not-so-fluffy duvet was not enough stuffing for my puff.  So I went in search of another inexpensive comforter to put inside as stuffing. 
Needs more stuffing! This was when I only had stuffed the puff with one duvet!
My other modification was to pull the bottom stitches shut tightly and knot (instead of cut) the ends of my threaded yarn.  I just tucked all the loose yarn and the knot into the inside of the puff.  If I ever need to wash the puff, it is now really easy to take apart and clean.
The feline residents in our house are mortified by this thing and will not go near it. So much so, that the orange cat even hisses if we try to move the puff too close to his perch.  But the upside is that we humans will actually get to use the puff as a footstool! 
Ever since I brought the finished puff into the shop for its photo-shoot we've been considering large numbers of these urchin-like footstools and how fun they are! I wish I could make enough puffs to fill an entire kindergarten classroom - wouldn't it be neat to see a story-time if every student had their own puff? 
I can't wait to make a second puff in a much brighter color (I think Limeade). I think all of my friends are going to start asking for puffs. I thought about challenging as many of our customers as we can to make a puff and schedule a finished puff day.  Can you just see all of our customers carrying their finished puffs up from the back parking area and coming over to the shop all on one set date to have a puff knit-in?  It would be great!  Let's fill the entire front yard of the shop!