Monday, September 30, 2013

Berroco Patterns Now Available As Singles!

This is great news for those of you who find a pattern in a Berroco booklet that you'd like to make, and are dismayed that you have to purchase the entire booklet. Now ALL Berroco patterns (starting with Fall & Winter 2013) are available as single patterns for the price of $6 each.
These patterns are all from NG #13, now available as singles.
Of course, it's still a better deal to pay $8 for the booklet (as long as you like more than one pattern) but it is nice to be able to offer these patterns to you as individual ones. Norah Gaughan books still retail for $14.95 as there are more designs in those booklets. So if you like 3 or more? Buy the book. Like just one? Buy the individual pattern.

Norah Gaughan single patterns are all for sale on line now, and all other Berroco books will be done in the next day or so. They are all available for sale as singles in the shop as of tomorrow.

NOTE: These singles are all electronic! No paper copies. Save a tree!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

On the Needles: Kaitlin

Many of you who've been in to the shop recently have had the pleasure of meeting Kaitlin, who is one of our 2 new employees. Kaitlin recently moved to Vermont from Utah, and we're thrilled to have her on our team. 

She brought in two of her projects the other day to show us. One is the Vernal Equinox Shawl - available for free on Ravelry. It's beautiful! She's using a wool and merino blend that she hand dyed at a "dye night" at the yarn shop she worked at in Logan, Utah. Her first attempt at dying sure looks like a major success to me... I love the color!
She also just started Stephen West's Color Craving Mystery Knit Along on Ravelry. She picked 3 colors of Fibre Company Canopy Fingering. Here is her progress on the first clue:
She's using Crocus & Blue Crown, and Parakeet will be added soon!
Wow, that's looking pretty cool, and crazy at the same time! I'm such a visual person - I need to see a picture or schematic... SOMETHING to show me what I am making. Kudos to her (and any of you doing this MKAL) for being able to do this without seeing it first. I can't even begin to imagine what the finished product will be. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

On the Needles: Jill

It's that time of the year... the air is cooler and I'm itching to start a lot of new projects. And you know how hard it is to limit yourself to just ONE project.

I'm really trying to be good about not having a million half-finished projects all over my house. But the other night my family room had about 8 or 9 vinyl project bags scattered about. In truth, some belonged to my kids (they have slacked off on their knitting since school has started. I'll cut them a break!)

I have a number of things on the needles right now. I recently finished the Little Boater Crew sweater (Thirteenth Little Sublime Hand Knit Book, knit in Sublime Extra Fine Merino DK), but it needs to be seamed! We're working on that today, so it should be hanging in the shop in the next day or so. 
Front of sweater
I started a Color Affection Shawl this summer. I loved these 3 bright colors of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine and thought it would be a simple knit. It is easy, that's for sure. But it's a little too boring for me... so I haven't made much progress. I have a trip coming up next month and will have some time to knit on the plane. Maybe it can be my project for that!?
Colors (l to r): Frove Mix, Grapefruit Mix, Orchid
I started a baby hat in June and really need to finish it! I must have misplaced it (I mean the yarn is SO tiny... it's My First Regia in 25 gram balls!) but now that I've found it I'm determined to finish it. Size 2 needles are a bit painful for my hands so I'll have to do it on a day when there's no gardening or interior painting on the schedule...
Pattern is in My First Regia Journal #005
This is what it will look like when it's finished: 
I started a sweater for myself two weeks ago with Berroco Remix, one of my all time favorite yarns. So far it's going really well, but I did set it aside when I found all of these other projects that are SO close to being finished. It's the Chic Knits Ariann Sweater. The feel of the Remix is just lovely!
And my Dreambird shawl is nearing completion! I think I have enough yarn left for one more feather, which will be a total of 14. It's going to block out nicely and I'm eager to see the finished result. The pattern was confusing, for sure! All of the moving of safety pins had me pulling out my hair, so I ended up making a spreadsheet in Excel that had row by row instructions. It was much easier to follow! But this was certainly NOT a project I could work on while watching tv. I pretty much needed to count each stitch. Oh well, it was still a fun project. 
Ella Rae Lace Merino and Noro Silk Garden Sock yarns
So that's 5 unfinished projects. Eeeeek! I better get a move on!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Chemo Cap Pattern

We've recently been having a lot of customers who are coming in to get yarn and a pattern to make chemo caps for friends or relatives who are starting chemo. They want to make them something to wear when & if they lose their hair. 

A chemo cap isn't the same as a winter hat. Of course, sometimes these hats WILL be worn outside in cooler temperatures, so they CAN be warm, but often they are worn inside and really just need to fit well and be soft. 

When choosing a yarn for a chemo cap, think about the recipient. Does this person live in a warmer temperature? Is the house air conditioned (could be cool) or not (could be hot)? Think about the care of the yarn, also. A lot of people don't wash their winter hats much (maybe they should!) but someone who is wearing a hat 24 hours a day will certainly want to wash it often. Don't choose a yarn that is too difficult to care for - a machine washable option is a nice benefit for someone who is feeling pretty awful. Having to hand wash a hat - as easy as that sounds - may actually be a pretty tall request for someone going through chemotherapy. Some yarns that call for hand washing may be able to be machine washed on gently in a mesh bag. Test your yarn first, or ask us for our opinion.

In terms of patterns, you may think that any old hat pattern - made in a soft yarn - will work. This isn't necessarily true. Having just helped someone very dear to me shave her head during chemotherapy, made me realize that a head with hair is not the same size as a head without hair. Go a little smaller.

Here's one option for a quick chemo cap that is very soft. We chose Berroco Marmot - a 100% nylon yarn that's available in beautifully rich colors. This hat measures 19.5" (circumference) by 7.5" tall. It does stretch a bit and there was some yarn leftover if you want to add a few stitches or rows. Just decrease to 60 stitches before your first round of decreases to make it work out. (Also, we feel that a gentle wash (mesh bag) would be fine. It will air dry pretty quickly too.)
This hat is a perfect indoor hat as it's amazingly soft. It could also be worn outside in some climates.

US 9 US needle (16" circular and double pointed)

Cast on 60 stitches.  Place a marker at beginning of round.  Knit every round until work measures 6” from cast on, ending at the marker.
Round 1: (k8, k2tog) around (54 sts)
Rounds 2, 4, 6, 8, 10: knit all stitches
Round 3:  (k7, k2tog) around (48 sts)
Round 5:  (k6, k2tog) around (42 sts)
Round 7: (k5, k2tog) around (36 sts)
Round 9: (k4, k2tog) around (30 sts)
Round 11: (k3, k2tog) around (24 sts)
Round 12: (k2, k2tog) around (18 sts)
Round 13: (k1, k2tog) around (12 sts)
Round 14: ( k2tog) around (6 sts)

Cut yarn leaving a 9" tail.  Thread through the remaining stitches, draw up tights and secure.  Weave in all ends.

We're working on another hat in a soft pima cotton blend and we'll post that when we've finished it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Don't Be Afraid To Mix It Up!

In past years we have put together a mixed fiber shawl - using 4-6 skeins of different fibers in different colors and textures. These shawls have been really popular with our customers and are so fun to make!

Last year we made a small throw blending two Berroco yarns - Boboli and Cirrus - called the Checkerboard Throw. Another fun project, this one was also a popular pick for our knitters. 
Last spring we started carrying the Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush yarn again, and we realized that it's a great alternative for people who do not like (or cannot use) mohair. The Cirrus yarn does contain mohair, so some customers who wanted to make it, but who don't like to use mohair, were not able to. Now that we have the Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush, this throw CAN be made with NO mohair content. YAY!

The colors pair beautifully with the Boboli, so come on in and check them out to pick your favorite combination. We've already come up with 9 options for an alpaca version of the throw: addition to the 11 new options for the mohair version.
We love to mix fibers like this! If you don't want to make a throw, consider using these mixes for a cowl or scarf.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


We always recommend making a swatch before starting every project. Most of the time our customers say they hate swatching, they don't swatch, they've never swatched, they can't imagine swatching... etc, etc. So we know there's a lot of anti-swatching out there! But we're going to keep recommending it, and here's just one reason why...

We just rearranged the entire worsted room last week. (Locals... come on in and check it out. It looks great!) And while we were rearranging the yarns, we had to opportunity to touch EACH AND EVERY ball. Sure, we each have our favorites, but by being forced to fondle each ball, we got reacquainted with some long lost loves!

One yarn that I've always loved is Berroco Remix. Remix is a super soft worsted weight yarn that's made of 100% recycled fibers. It's machine washable (another plus for me!) and has a nice tweedy effect. While moving the Remix to it's new location in the shop, I really started itching to knit with it. 
I started looking through the sweater patterns in the shop, and settled on the Chic Knits Ariann sweater. I really wanted a cardigan and I like the look of this pattern stitch. I'm going to make the long sleeves (instead of 3/4), but I'll pass on the belt! The collar doesn't thrill me... I really wanted a v-neck, but I'm going to see what I can do with it. By the time I knit up to the neck, maybe I'll have come up with a way to modify it to suit my tastes.
This sweater pattern calls for a stitch gauge (in stockinette) of 4.75 stitches to the inch. Remix is 4.25 stitches to the inch on an 8 US needle. I started my swatching on a 6 US Addi Lace needle. 

[I went down 1 size from what the ball band said, because I needed to cram an extra 1/2 stitch into every inch, and then another size since I knit a little loose, and normally go down 1 size needle.]

I ended up getting almost 5 stitches to the inch which is pretty close to 4.75. But I felt like I was really trying to knit tight... and it was making my hands cramp up. That wasn't going to be enjoyable for me, and I like to ENJOY my knitting time.

So I threw a purl row into my swatch and tried a size 7 US Addi Lace. And I relaxed to my normal knitting tension. And the swatch... was too loose. It measured in at 4.25 stitches to the inch.

After another purl row, I went back to the 6 US Addi Lace and knit with a normal relaxed tension. The result? 4.5 stitches to the inch.

My final attempt was on a Denise size 6 US with a normal relaxed tension. And it was perfect. I ended up getting exactly 4.75 stitches to the inch.
Why did I keep trying different needle sizes and types, you ask? Isn't 4.5 close enough to 4.25? And isn't 5 close enough? 

Well, yes. However, in an adult sweater, that 1/4 stitch per inch difference can really throw off the sizing of your final product! I am making a sweater with a finished chest measurement of 38". If I used the Addi Lace size 6 (with a gauge of 4.5 stitches to the inch) the finished chest measurement of this sweater would have been 40.2" That's more than 2" TOO BIG. 

And if I had used the same Addi Lace needles (size 6) and concentrated on just knitting a little tighter (with a gauge of 5 stitches to the inch) the finished chest measurement would have been 36.2"... almost 2" TOO SMALL.

Moral of the story? We're always going to recommend you swatch. And if you can't get the gauge on a certain type of needle, you may need to try another type!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Barb got a new puppy this summer. 
One of Bernie's baby pictures
Bernie is a black Shih Tzu who is quite the little charmer. He's not even 3 pounds and probably won't get to more than 5 pounds when full grown. 
And being so tiny means it's even harder to keep warm when the temperatures drop. Last week we could tell he wasn't fond of those cold mornings, and the brisk wind didn't really do it for him either.

So on Saturday we decided he needed his very first sweater. First we chose the yarn... Plymouth Encore. It was an easy decision. We wanted something that would wash easily (after all, Bernie is so tiny that each outing onto grass gets him pretty wet!) We also figured that since he's just getting into the naughty toddler teething phase, he'd be chewing on his sweater like a bad boy. So we certainly weren't going to splurge for superwash merino wool...

Then it was on to picking a color. With 69 solids, 9 tweeds and 26 colorspuns, the choice was a little overwhelming! We ended up going with one of the new neon colors. We figured that with the daylight hours on the decline, it was the safest choice!

I could have found a pattern for a teeny tiny dog sweater but I figured it would be more fun to wing it. So I grabbed Bernie and a tape measure and sketched some measurements. (You can tell I have cats. My drawing is clearly feline.) 
With a basic drawing of what I wanted, Bernie's measurements and a gauge swatch, I was off and knitting. This was a quick project and I brought it in for Bernie to wear this morning. 

He wasn't quite sure what to think of his new sweater. He chased his tail (and the back end of the sweater) for 5 minutes straight, and then was exhausted and napped it in for about an hour. Typical puppy behavior.
Seriously? I have to WEAR this!?
Note the buttons... skull & crossbones buttons... perfect for this little sweet terror.
So my attempt at a dog sweater was pretty good! We decided we'll move the buttons to make it more snug around his back for now, and as he grows we'll move them back again. 
Tiny sleeves are just the right size for his little chicken legs.
Settling in for my nap.
And sorry, I did not write down the pattern for this. It's really all about measurements and gauge... really not too difficult!

Duplicate Stitch

I'm happy to say that after more than 30 years of knitting, I have added "duplicate stitch" to my skills.

I'm not sure why I was against learning the duplicate stitch? I think I'd seen way too many bad examples of it to want to try it. But now I realize that the bad examples I've seen were because the yarn used for the duplicate stitch was too thin, or the tension was all wrong.

Barb took 5 minutes on Saturday to give Kaitlin and me a little tutorial. 
Counting the stitches and marking out exactly where the design was supposed to go took up most of that 5 minutes... the duplicate stitch part only took about 30 seconds to master. I finished it at home this weekend and now all that's left is seaming... my favorite part!
The sweater is the Little Boater Crew from the Thirteenth Little Sublime Hand Knit Book (#668)
There's an adorable blanket that matches... what a great baby gift idea! 
The pattern calls for Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK, but as we already have a number of shop samples out of that yarn, I chose the Sublime Extra Fine Merino DK. I LOVE the yarn... maybe a sweater for myself will follow?