I LOVE yarn.  No one is surprised by that, I’m sure, but sometimes I get so tied up with projects and classes that I forget about the joys of just being around yarn and getting to know it and appreciating the differences between all the varieties.

Iris is a new worsted-weight yarn from Debbie Bliss’s new collection called Pure Bliss. It’s made from superfine merino wool with a smooch of cashmere.  Superfine merino is already soft and smooth next to the skin, and the 5% cashmere just adds a bit of lovely fuzziness to the surface.  I love the colors I ordered: rich neutrals and a beautiful soft pink.

I made a sweet one-ball cowl (free with purchase)

that deserves to be caressing someone’s neck, but I will say that if I had a loved one who needed a chemo cap, this would be the yarn I would choose.  One ball would do it, and I like this nice free pattern from A Little Knitty on Ravelry (although there are many great free patterns for chemo caps. I tailored my search specifically for Iris’s specs, knitting, free patterns with a good rating. Here’s my search.)

If you follow us on Facebook, you’ll have seen other new yarns that popped in the door this week:

New colors of Herriott Fine, a lovely fingering-weight alpaca/nylon blend from Juniper Moon Farm.  I love this yarn for its softness and warmth, and these 3 new colors add to the rich, heathered palette we already stock:

Gloves, scarves and shawls are all lovely in this yarn, and it also combines well with other lightweight yarns to make a quicker, warmer, softer project. We combined it with Fine Donegal to make Trailhead a couple years ago, and it’s still everyone’s favorite.  Loretta looks great in mine, so of course, she made her own:

Speaking of Fine Donegal, a few new colors of this wool/cashmere blend came in.  It features the interesting sturdiness and the fantastic colored highlights that only an Irish mill could accomplish:

I’m ready for a sweater in any of these colors, and yes, the red (named Strawberry) really is that vibrant! Remember Newsom?

A great little  jacket to dress up or down, and it still looks just like new.

Huenique (pronounced hew-NEEK) is a superwash wool blend that does it all.  Blended stripes of amazing color combinations, thick-and-thin texture, machine washability, and light-chunky gauge make this a perfect yarn for quick gifts and accessories, or a fun kid’s sweater.  Hats, scarves, cowls, mittens – anything’s possible:

Just look at those colors!

A reminder about classes:  our exclusive afghan

Deb’s exclusive D-Y-O Scarf for beginners and beyond

Karen’s Silverleaf Shawl

and Cloud Nine Slippers

all start in October!  Only one or two spots remain in each so if you’re interested, don’t wait too long.  You can check out the dates and times here.

We had a good turnout for our knitting afternoon for the benefit of Houston’s animal shelters and the Red Cross.  We had loads of goodies to eat, good conversation, good company, and an all-around good time, and we raised $300!  People could designate if they wanted their $10 donation to go to a certain place; what was left was split evenly.  The Red Cross received $90, the Houston SPCA received $100, and the Houston Humane Society received $110.  Thanks so much to everyone who came, and also to those who couldn’t come but took the time to drop off a donation anyway!!

We received some lovely new yarn this week.  Diamond Yarn’s Tradition sock yarn comes in beautiful heather-y shades, is a very traditional blend of superwash wool and nylon for strength and easy care, and is extremely well-priced!

Very nice indeed and perfectly suitable for other fingering-weight projects!

For those not-so-traditional sock knitters (or baby sweaters or colorful scarves and hats), we received a few new color-ways from Opal’s Rainforest Series:

I confess to snagging a ball of one of the colors for my BIL’s socks, which I must remember to knit a bit more loosely this time.  The last pair will have to go to my narrow-footed cousin because I knit them with so much fervor, I think they’re nt just tight, they might be watertight!

Berroco sent us some lovely vibrant colors of Lusso, a fingering-weight yarn made of pure yummie-ness!  Extra fine merino, silk, baby camel and super kid mohair, all stuffed into a light and fluffy ball of fuzz:

Can you see how the silk gleams through all that wonderful fiber?  A few more colors to come, but I couldn’t resist that bright red-orange.  I decided to make a tee that will pop on over something to add a light layer of warmth and color this winter.  Using Churchmouse’s Simple Tee pattern and size 5 needles, I’ve got a good start:

Love it already!

Karen brought her Saudade Hat class sample with her on Sunday and modeled for everyone.  I didn’t get a snap of how cute it looked on her, but you can get a feel for what a great hat it is:

If you turn the ribbing up, it’s a beanie.  If you leave the ribbing unfolded, it’s a slouch.  All the pretty color work and the Cumbria fingering make the hat so cozy, so warm, so perfect.  (Only a few spots left in the class!)  The beautiful colors of Cumbria Fingering that everyone ordered for their First Fair-Isle sweaters should be here this week, and I can’t wait to see all the combinations.  So exciting!

Oh, how I love knitting season!

 

 

I haven’t done all that much stranded knitting in my life.  I suppose it’s because I haven’t had to.  Karen Walter is a great one for stranded knitting and makes lovely projects and teaches wonderful classes, so I don’t need to.  I have to say, though, that when I do a small project of some kind using this technique, I enjoy working the little “peerie” patterns the most.

Peerie means small in Scottish, and the peerie patterns in Fair Isle knitting use only two colors across any round and are short repeats both stitch-wise and row-wise.  It’s easy to get into a rhythm with them, and their appearance is delicate and decorative.  Here are a few examples from Ravelry:

Kate Davies has done some beautiful designs, and if you’re interested in ethnic history of knitting in Northern Europe and the British Isles, you’ll learn a lot from her blog, as well as seeing some of the most glorious photography you’ll ever experience:

Carraig Fhada

Machrihanish

Peerie Flooers

Alice Starmore literally wrote the book about Fair Isle knitting (Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting). Packed with history and technical details plus page after page of charts for traditional stitch patterns, it’s an amazing resource.  It also has sweater patterns and very scary instructions for making and cutting steeks.  You can look at her patterns on Ravelry but she doesn’t sell patterns there.  Her designs, except for the books she has published, are available as kits only.

Anyhow, all this is leading up to telling you about the sweater Karen is going to teach this fall, starting late in September.  First Fair Isle is a beauty, featuring loads of pretty peerie patterns and modern top-down construction.

 The Fair Isle patterns are at the bottom of the body and sleeves, so they’re in the round, not interrupted by steeks or shaping, and all the fun comes at the end!  This is Karen’s version:

Karen used Cumbria Fingering from Fibre Company, a lovely choice for this project. Its blend of traditional British sheep’s wools give the colors a heathery depth, and the addition of a smooch of mohair adds loft and sheen.

One of the most pleasurable aspects of stranded knitting is choosing the colors.  It’s also one of the most fraught aspects.  Karen was a bit disappointed in the lack of contrast between a couple of the colors she used (although I like the subtle differences).  Plus it’s very difficult to visualize what the patterns will look like with other colors.  The solution?  Coloring the chart!  The other day I pulled out my old colored pencils and got as close to some of the Cumbria colors as I could, and had a great time playing around.

The chart patterns start right under the bustline and travel down to the hem, so they’re shown in reverse order on the chart.  The one below shows colors similar to the book’s sample.

This teal and green version is quite pretty.

And I like this one, with greens and a pop of copper:

This one is different in that I used a dark gray as the main color and went brighter at the bottom:

Well, I thought this would make choosing colors easier, but I still would have a hard time deciding!

Come in and do some coloring!

 

 

 

I’m in a pretty cool place right now, knitting-wise.  I’ve almost finished all the class models and summer models I had planned to do. (Plus at least one that I hadn’t planned – see below.)  I still have to finish off the fingers of the second Winter Bride glove and that’s taking me a while.  The whine factor in this is pretty high: (1)  it’s the second glove, (2) it’s little tiny stitches and little tiny diameters, and (3) I’m not so hot at using double-points, in fact I’m pretty slow and clumsy with them.  Two more fingers to go,

and it will be done soon enough and then I’ll soon love it again.

But really, whining is a part of knitting.  Knitters love to whine!  If you could ever find a knitting project that only took 10 minutes, I guarantee that the last 2 minutes would involve complaining about how it’s taking forever and why can’t it just be done already???!! We are patient and persistent folks, but we feel no need to be quiet about it.

So anyway, my decks are pretty clear right now, which gives me a great excuse to browse Ravelry and think about new projects.  Brooklyn Tweed’s new Wool People collection came out recently – nothing made me gasp with delight but there are plenty of nice sweaters there.  What I really want is to live in Jared Flood’s photographic world, wherein I would be prettily posed in an attitude of quiet confidence, in a perfectly fitting sweater, flatteringly accented by diffused sunlight at all times.

So while I think about new projects, I’m going to make Brother-in-Law socks (they will be moving to Charleston in a year or two and I think his need for wool socks will drop dramatically.)  I plan another hoodie for Maxwell the Great (Nephew) because his mom says the summer one I made is his favorite thing to put on (and how sweet is that to hear?) and he’ll soon outgrow it. And I have in mind to go through our huge file of free shop patterns, updating and making new models from current yarns where needed.

That really should keep me quite busy and my schedule full, but I do get distracted.  I had no plans whatsoever to make the Refined Arches Tabard but as soon as I saw the pattern, I knew it would be a perfect project for Shibui Twig.  I had to make it! And so I did.

It’s airy and open for summer in Twig, and would be a nice layering piece in lightweight wool or lace weight mohair for fall.  I would say it’s an intermediate project because, even though it’s all lace, every other row is a rest row and there’s no shaping.

 

We have lots of classes starting in July (it’s almost here!!!) including a beginner class.  If you have been on the fence, now is the time to commit; most have only one or two spaces left.  Socks, mitts, hat, sweater and a chicken!  What more could you possibly want?

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer and accomplishing everything you planned – or nothing at all!  Have fun!

Well, it was fun, and it’s almost over, and I have to admit I’m glad.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m at loose ends for too long, I tend to fall into bad habits – the same bad habits I fight against all the time: too much couch time, too many snacks, too few chores or useful projects.  I did enjoy the first half, though.  I went to my home town for a bridal shower for the daughter and future son-in-law – both so sweet – of one of my cousins.  It was given by the daughters of another of my cousins, and it was great seeing all those lovely folks again.   Another day, I got to have brunch with Maxwell the Great (Nephew) and of course, his mom, dad, and grandmother. He’s cuter than cute, and despite his mother’s warning, there was no food-hurling.  He was very, very good!

I also bought some wonderful yarn for the fall and thought wistfully about the big yarn show in Columbus, which is happening this coming weekend.  Really, it’s better if I don’t go, I just get into trouble (inventory-wise, not in any interesting way) but – all that beautiful yarn in one place!!!!

The only knitting I did was to finish Pearl, the sweater I’m teaching later this summer.  It knit up like a dream in Plymouth’s Worsted Merino Superwash.  I made it in PINK (extreme pink-ness) and it’s pretty cute.  I can only do a bad photo right now because it’s still damp so I dare not stretch or hang it, but here it is:

I made two modifications to this version:  (1) I used German short rows instead of wrap-and-turns for the shoulders and the sleeve caps, and (2)  I did only 1 lace motif at the neckline and didn’t carry it down the front, just to show that you can make it this way if you wish to.  The next one I do (which will be while the class is knitting it) will have the lace the whole way down the front.

See how happy she looks? I like the verticality of the lace column, and it won’t be so tedious to knit the body.  The lace is pretty and worth the effort.

In fact, I like everything about this sweater and would be happy to have several in many different colors and fabrics in my wardrobe.  I like 3/4 sleeves, but it would be easy to carry them down to full length. The neckline is flattering and is finished with a neat I-cord bindoff.  The picked-up sleeves have short row caps which are interesting to work, and you can choose whatever your favorite method is to work the sleeves in the round (I used magic loop – if you don’t know how, learn it in our Magic Loop Mitts class.  The classes overlap a little but you’ll know the technique by the time we get to the sleeves and using it in a different application will reinforce your knowledge.)

The length of the sweater is great and easily adjustable, and the a-line silhouette is perfect for my body and easily eliminated if you aren’t quite so cursedly pear-shaped. The light worsted weight wool is good for at least 6 months of the year here. plus it’s machine-washable.  I may end up finishing the drying in the machine, too, just to see how that works.

To sum up, I couldn’t be more pleased with this pattern and the yarn and the result!  Classes are filling up nicely (I love this summer’s schedule) so check them out here.  And heads up if you’re intrigued by lace knitting and beading – Karen’s Eternal Optimist knit-along starts on June 15th! The link will take you to some beautiful projects on Ravelry – then come in to see Karen’s version in person – it’s simply luscious.

By the by, we’ll be closed Saturday June 17th because of Art on the Avenue – you know the drill: no parking, lots of crowds and kids and dogs so lots of frenetic barking on the part of Purl and Jack, lots of hair-pulling and yelling on the part of me – so, sorry!

The summer class schedule has been posted to our website, and I’m so glad the work is done, and I’m also just as pleased as I can be with the roster of classes.  They’re all fun, beautiful projects, all varied in skill levels and I really think that anybody could find something to interest her (or him) in this list.  Check them out here and see what fits into your schedule for the summer.

I had (and am still having – not all are done) a great time knitting some of the projects. The variety of types of projects and the different yarns and techniques have really sparked my knitting mojo, which wanes just like everyone’s from time to time.  After knitting several relatively simple projects using summer yarns, it was pure pleasure to pick up some yummy wools and blends and remember how lovely the process of knitting can be and what fun it is to have to pay attention and concentrate on more complicated patterns.

The Cable and Coin Lace Pillow is a great addition to your favorite couch or chair, a guest room or a den.  I used Ella Rae’s Chunky Merino Superwash,

a tough 100% wool yarn that really is machine washable and dryable.  I know because I tested a swatch by throwing it into the washer and dryer with a load of jeans.  It held up beautifully, even with such terrible treatment, so I know I can really use the pillow without fussing.  You could also double good old Encore to get the same gauge and the same hardy washability. I don’t generally knit with brown for clothing (don’t know why), but this warm shade looks great with my couch’s winter coat, don’t you think? And the orange buttons are just fun. The pattern comprises a simple 3/3 cable and coin lace which is fun to work and difficult to mess up!

Karen is doing a knit-along for this fabulous Eternal Optimist scarf (or shawl), made from Road to China Lace, a lighter version of Road to China Light, a perennial fave that is luscious and luxurious.  One beautiful skein (plus beads, needle, pattern) is what you’ll need for our knit-along on Thursday evenings (starting June 15).  Every section is different, interesting, and fun to do, and the cunning little dangles are really charming. You’ll be completely confident in the face of lace designs once you’ve worked your way through this lovely piece.

Meanwhile, I’m having a quietly exciting time making these Winter Bride’s Gloves.

Now, I already know that you don’t need gloves, you don’t wear gloves, you don’t know anyone who’s getting married outside in December.  This is not a project you do because you or someone you know needs to keep their hands warm.  You don’t think, well, poor Myrtle’s hands are always cold so I’ll make her the fussiest, most time-consuming gloves I can find.  This is the kind of project you do because the gloves are lovely and because you are a knitter and you can make them. Someday you (or someone) will take them out of the tissue paper you’ve wrapped them in, waiting for the appropriate moment to wear them or the right person to give them to, and will gasp at the expertise of the person who made them (even if it was you.)  It’s enough to know you made them – that’s all I’m sayin’.  I’m making them in a totally impractical ice-blue color of Herriott Fine, a softly fuzzy alpaca blend.

I’ve really just started on Pearl, the pullover we’re teaching later in the summer.  I absolutely love working with Plymouth’s Worsted Merino Superwash, very soft and bouncy, a real dream to knit with.  I hope I’ll have photos next week, but I’ll be hither and yon on my week off, so I don’t know.  If you know you want to make it, come in and look at the color cards and I’ll add your favorite to my stock order that’s due in July.

You know we’ll closed next week, right?  You do read emails from me, right?  If not, you also may not know that wonderful Tenzing is on sale because it’s being discontinued (a little sob is catching in my throat).  I used it to make Corella, the hat that I’m teaching this summer, and you also may remember it from our many wonderful models: Curcuma Elements, Natsumi, Groovy, and many (many) more.  You can always tell how we feel about a yarn – those we love we just keep making models because we can’t keep our hands off the yarn.  It would also be splendid for our Magic Loop Mitts class. Come and see!

 

I only have a few minutes to write this morning before I leave to visit a sister.  (I kind of hate that I don’t have time to just maunder on about knitting and yarn anymore.  It seems I always have an agenda these days and that’s not what I want this blog to be!)

Anyway, I wanted to remind you of the shawl class that’s starting next weekend.  Karen Walter, who is a master knitter at shawls and lace (and most other things!), is teaching the Red Rock Canyon Shawl, designed by Romi Hill.  It’s a beauty, skillfully using two colors to build a simple foundation for the beautiful embossed lace

that morphs into dips and swoops and finishes with an outstanding picot border.

It’s a challenging knit, but it works into the serious lace gradually, letting you get a feel for the yarn and needles working together before you have to concentrate on the twisted stitches that  make the lace pop.

Check out the many projects on Ravelry, and then check out these fabulous color combinations that we found just messing around for a few minutes one afternoon.

Come find your own, learn something new, challenge yourself!

Meanwhile, if you have something that you’d like to learn this spring and summer, shoot an email to me at info@yarngal.com. I’d love to have your thoughts.

 

Don’t we all need to look forward to warmer weather, brighter skies, and lighter clothing at this time of year?  Our Simple Tee class starts in a few weeks and I wanted to talk a little more about it, especially since spring yarns popped in the door this week.

Churchmouse’s Simple Tee design is simple-looking, but filled with features and options.  Long tunic, cropped tee, standard length.  Long sleeve, three-quarter sleeve, cap sleeve.  Vented bottom hem, no vents.  Mix and match to suit yourself.

I made my sample in the longer length, with side vents, which are neatly edged with slip-stitches.

use5

Right now, my model has one bracelet-length sleeve

use2

and one cap sleeve

use3

so you can try it on to see which you like the most.

The neckline is left as-knit, using specific instructions for binding off to prevent gaps and steps.

use4

All in all, it’s a wonderful, wearable piece, plainly elegant, immensely accessorizable (yes, I know, it’s not really a word, but shouldn’t it be?) and versatile for many occasions.

use1

I used Hempathy to make mine, a pleasant blend of cotton, hemp, and Modal acrylic, that drapes nicely, is machine washable and holds up under constant wear.  We received some beautiful colors this week

IMG_0164

(plus my color and black) and they added some really lovely multi-colors to the line this year.

IMG_0163

Y-U-M!

If you’ve already signed up for the class, come in to choose your color, and if you’ve been waiting to sign up, now is the time to come in, try on, decide, and get the best selection.

One more thing that I have to show you!  Zen Yarn Garden’s latest Artwalk offering is here.  I have to say that when I saw the painting it was based on, I toyed with the idea of cancelling this shipment.

IMG_0161

Am I glad I didn’t!! Here is her rendering of these colors – absolutely wonderful:

IMG_0159

This yarn would be perfect to combine with a semi-solid for Karen’s Red Rock Shawl Class, also coming up in just a few weeks.  You have to see it!

…now, there’s a word we haven’t heard much of lately.  It’s been a dreary, drizzly January.  That’s why I absolutely love Karen’s new version of the Sitka Spruce Hat, which she did in a sunny color of Moonshine:

use2a

use

While the name conjures up huge fir trees, this definitely reminds me of  sunflowers and that it will be warm and sunny soon enough.  There are still openings in the class, which starts next Saturday!

There are spaces in our Wildflower Cowl class, too, which begins next Sunday.  Here is David Ritz’s version, in three colors instead of two:

dave

I love it and I bet it feels fabulous in Lana Gatto’s merino/silk/cashmere Feeling!

I’ve finished the Simple Tee (a couple spaces open in that class) and will have pictures to show soon.  I absolutely love the way it turned out.  At least three different yarns appropriate for the Tee, including the Hempathy that I used, will be shipping in a week or so – can’t wait to show you!

Meanwhile, some beautiful things from Mountain Colors popped in the door.  My perennial favorite is River Twist, in 4 lovely colorways:

IMG_0136

This yarn makes a wonderful sweater – the myriad colors are there but not strident so they are not hard to wear – and the yarn is soft but the twist makes it less likely to pill.  It’s also wonderful for accessories – hats (like our free Ribbed Hat pattern)

DSCN3043

mitts

DSCN2364

and cowls and scarves of any variety.  River Twist is a real knitter’s yarn, full of life and interest.

I also ordered Twizzle from Mountain Colors, a wool and silk blend that I haven’t had for a few years, and now I don’t know why, because it’s a lovely yarn!  I have it in 4 colors:

IMG_0137

(are we seeing a theme here?) and just started a fun mobius cowl called Spiral Euphoria:

IMG_0141

I’m having a great time with it, love the way the silk in Twizzle lights up in this design and looks like little jewels.  It may be a class this coming season!

See you soon!

It’s really difficult at this time of year to be thinking about spring yarn and sweaters.  Especially when I’m still vaguely searching for that really warm pair of mittens I had last year but simply can’t find now.  Heavy, cozy, cable-y sweaters are what I reach for day after day.  I put one on and feel warm and protected from the ravages of winter.  Our St. Brendan class on a chunky Lopapeysa-style sweater is just getting an enthusiastic start.

And yet, I’ve been looking at spring yarns for weeks now and have been knitting away on Churchmouse’s Simple Tee, making the model for the class we’re starting in March.  I’m making it in one of my favorite summer yarns, Elsebeth Lavold’s Hempathy.  It’s a mix of hemp, cotton, and Modal acrylic and I can’t say enough to recommend it for keeping you cool (brr, just typing those words make me shiver on this 19-degree morning) and draping nicely and making a fabric that stands up to a lot of wear – just perfect for a basic style like this.  I hope I’ll have the model to show you next week, although it will look a bit strange.  The tee can be cap-sleeved or long-sleeved, so I’m putting a sleeve (3/4) on one side and leaving the other cap-style, so that when people try on the model, they can decide which way to go.

While I wait for the summer-y yarns to arrive, though, I have a few lightweight yarns to show you that will take you well into spring.  First, our current shipment of Zen Yarn Garden’s Artwork series arrived, and it’s truly gorgeous.  This batch was dyed in colors based on Picasso’s Mediterranean Landscape:

IMG_0115

and here is her interpretation:

IMG_0114

I love the strong colors and think it would be great in (good old free) Reyna

Reyna2_medium2

or Close to You, also free

close3_medium2

or this new design called Crosshatch Shawl (not free)

FullSizeRender__51__medium2

possibly mixed with a semi-solid gold or green.

We also received a nice box of Madelinetosh Twist Light, a plied merino/nylon fingering that could be used for socks if you just had to, but would also make beautiful sweaters and shawls.  We played around with mixing it with Frabjous Fibers’ Cheshire Cat, another lovely fingering in semi-solids:

blue gold green red purple

Can’t you picture variations of these combos as Funky Grandpa, True Friend, or a striped version of Boxy, or maybe as Therapy, any of Ambah O’Brien’s or Melanie Berg’s color-happy shawls.  Our Red Rock Canyon shawl class coming up later on would be a perfect project to explore some different color choices – the rocks don’t have to be red, do they?

Check out 2017’s Color of the Year from Pantone. Click on the video and get a little taste of spring.

Know anyone who wants to learn to knit? We have a new beginner class scheduled for February 5 & 12th – let them know!

It’s winter.  Have fun planning and dreaming!!