Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lucy Hat

contributed by Shawn

We've been getting new issues of all the latest knitting and crochet magazines. Seems like in the fall we get a new one every week! When the Winter 2012 Knitscene Magazine hit the shop I paged through it and immediately was struck by the Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer.

It took me about 3 seconds to decide that I had a friend who absolutely NEEDS this hat for her birthday. I've been working with the Dream In Color Classy yarn for another project and it has gorgeous hand dyed colorways so I picked Gothic Rose and cast on that same evening as soon as I got home from the shop. The cute little flap is formed using short rows and I used a bit of the Cloud Jungle colorway from my other project for the woven stitch band.
If I knit this hat again I would increase one stitch on the purl row before the woven stitch pattern starts. An odd number of stitches would work better for the join of the band due to the way the pattern stitch is worked.  Then on the purl row after the woven stitch section of the band I would decrease one stitch to go back to the correct number of stitches to work the decrease instructions.   Hindsight...

This was a quick project and fun to knit.  I am a bit tight on my gauge so I made the larger size to ensure a good fit for my friend. I like the stiffer fabric as it gives the hat some shape. Here it is after finishing and blocking. I love the little details of the upturned brim and band stitching.

Many customers have already picked up the magazine and yarn of their choice to make a Lucy Hat of their own.  Emily brought her Berroco Blackstone Tweed version in today so she could block it.  She chose to knit the first rows of this pattern a bit differently than it is written so her brim rolls upward instead of downward in the previous photos. Cute!
Now I am eyeing up the Willamette Coat by Leah B. Thibault knit in Berroco Vintage Chunky yarn for myself. It appears in the same issue of Knitscene Magazine so I already have the pattern ready!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Get the Look

This week, since all the talk is weather focused (thanks to a certain gal named "Sandy") our mannequin couldn't help but choose a gorgeous sweater made with Cirrus clouds, I mean, YARN. 
Another view of this sweater from the Berroco booklet: 
 And a few more views! (Courtesy of Berroco.)

Our mannequin has topped off this great sweater with a scarf that is a favorite with every customer who walks in our door. We spend more time convincing our customers that this scarf is NOT woven than it takes for them to pick out yarn to make it for themselves.
Scarf - detail shot
Sweater: Loret Sweater knit with Berroco Cirrus Yarn
Pattern: in Berroco Book #323 Cirrus  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bella Sweater

contributed by Shawn 

We have a lot of samples in the shop for customers to look at and all of these samples have to be knit before we can put them on display. Some of them are knit by staff, some we get from companies, and some are knit by our sample knitters. Kim has been knitting for us for over 10 years (!) and she recently finished up another batch of samples for the shop. When she dropped them off for us to oooh and ahhh over, she picked out something to knit for herself. 

Then, when she finished it, she showed us and very generously allowed us to 'borrow' the finished sweater so we could oooh and ahhh over IT as well. It is so soft and she did an amazing job - I love the detail!
It's the Bella Short-Sleeve Vest with Leaf Motifs from Essentially Feminine Knits: 25 Must-Have Chic Designs by Lene Holme Samsoe. She used Knit One Crochet Too Elfin Tweed Yarn in the color Berry Heather (#1261).
So inspiring!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Free Linen Stitch Scarf Pattern & LOTS of Tips To Make It!

contributed by Shawn

'Scissors', 'knitting project,' and 'cut' are not words that a lot of knitters use in close proximity.  Unless you're a knitter who works a lot of fair-isle or other color work projects that require steeking, cutting isn't usually something most knitted items (and their knitters) experience. 

Here's a way you can work an easy project and take the plunge with cutting! Our free Linen Stitch Scarf pattern has been turning heads in the shop, and it seems everyone is picking out yarn to make this project. This beautiful scarf is worked in the round for quick construction, but to turn it into a flat scarf, it does require some "snip snip snipping". It really isn't as bad as it sounds and since I'm working up my own Linen Stitch Scarf I thought I would share some tips and photos of the scary parts, to put you at ease.
First of all, be prepared before you begin. This pattern begins with a cast on of 400 stitches.  That's a lot of stitches and they are small when you use fingering weight yarn - even on a US size 8 circular needle that the pattern calls for.

Which technique will you use to cast on?

If you prefer the long-tail cast on method you should be sure you have a very long tail before you begin or you will be reworking your cast on (potentially multiple times). TIP: If you want to estimate the length of the yarn tail needed for your cast on, wrap the yarn around your needle 400 times (leaving a 6-8" length at the beginning end). Create your slip knot in the space just after the 400 wraps and you should have a long enough tail to complete your cast on.  

TIP: If you don't want to take the time to make these yarn wraps then you can also use two different balls of your project yarn while casting on. Pick out two of your skeins, hold them together to form your slip knot to begin the cast on (leaving a 6-8" length at the beginning end) and then use each strand from the two different skeins in the long-tail cast on method. When you've finished your cast on, clip the skein you will not be continuing with (leaving a 6-8" length at the end).

TIP: Make sure your stitches are not too tight when casting on. If these stitches are tight then the cast on edge of your scarf (which will form one of the lengthwise edges after cutting) will bind and not allow the finished work to relax and your scarf will be shorter than expected (sometimes just on this side).  You can use a size or two larger needle for the cast on edge and then use the US 8 for the main body of your scarf to help with this issue.

TIP: We highly recommend using stitch markers during your cast on and to help you keep your work on track during the knitting process. (Unless of course you really enjoy counting and recounting your stitches as you work.) 

I liked using different colors to help me keep track of my place in this project. For example, I placed a single green stitch marker after the first 20 stitches of my cast on. Then after every additional 20 stitches I placed a purple stitch marker until I reached the total of 400 stitches. After placing each marker I double checked the section before it to be sure I had exactly 20 stitches. This means I only had to count to 20 during my entire cast on process! (Hey, sometimes I'm challenged with large numbers especially when I have multiple cat distractions at home.) My stitch marker at the 380 stitches mark was another green marker and I used two green markers (double green marker) to indicate the join/beginning of the round.

Why the colors? Well, this project asks you to work stockinette stitch for the first 20 stitches and the last 20 stitches of every round. TIP: I never had to keep track since I just had to knit all the stitches between the green markers every round for the duration of the project. It helped me to see which stitches I was going to bind off on the last row as well without having to count the bound-off stitches while I worked them. The double green marker simply indicated the beginning of my round and let me know that I should switch colors at that point in the round.

TIP: In this project, you do not need to cut the yarns when switching from one color to another. The beginning of the round occurs at the mid-point where your finished scarf ends will be cut apart. To keep my work in progress neater I simply carried the unused yarn strands up along the inside of my project- I ended up cutting them anyway and these as well as the beginning and ending tails were incorporated into my fringe.

I only used 2 colors for this project.  One of them is Koigu Painter's PalettePremium Merino Yarn (KPPPM) and the other was a random skein of sock yarn left over from another project. Since I used only two colors I decided to switch between every row.  Surprise! This formed a very different pattern on the front and back of my work.

Here is the 'right side.' This looks just like the texture and variation that Barb got on her original project.
Because of the slip stitch pattern used to make the linen stitch texture my 'wrong side' has stripes running in the other direction! This only appears this way because of my every other row color switch using two different colors instead of three like Barb's scarf.
When you are nearing the end of this project you bind off the stitches along the top edge of the linen stitch section only.  Here is a photo of the stockinette section (where I am going to cut my work).
Notice that the stockinette section still has live stitches on my needle (and the beginning of the round double marker). This photo shows the linen stitch section alongside the stockinette section.
Notice the bind off along the linen stitch section. Out comes the needle and here is the progression of dropping all those stockinette stitches to form the fringe.

Then I used a sharp pair of scissors and cut right in the middle of this dropped stitch section. There is a heavy bookend holding the linen stitch section in place so that I can begin twisting the fringe.

We recently got fringe twister tools in the shop. So I split the ends up evenly and used the tool to create the twisted fringe. The tool made it very easy to get each one exactly the same.

All set for blocking! This was such a fun project that I might have to pick out another set of colors and make a second scarf!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Customer Project - Comfort Kitty!

Check out this child friendly 'comfort' sweater!  This project (sorry, pattern source unknown) was knit on request using machine washable Berroco Comfort Worsted yarn. Kitty is worked mostly in intarsia and details were added using duplicate stitch.  Our favorite part? 
Kitty is coming and going!
We're sorry... the shop was busy the other day when we chatted and snapped these pictures. We neglected to get the knitter's name!