For some reason, I seem to be drawn to anything fluffy this year.  Give me a nice basic yarn that I would normally love in a textured stitch and I want to add a bit of mohair or a smooch of alpaca – anything to pump up the “ooooh” factor.  Sometimes I think it’s the political turmoil going on in Washington and all over the world that makes me long for the soft, cozy comfort of fuzzy yarns.  Whatever it is, I’m totally indulging that yearning.

I made a couple of quick gifts from free shop patterns that I thought might satisfy my need for soft and cozy:

A new take on our famous (no, not really!) and ever-popular (yes, really!) Button Scarf (download the pattern here), using one skein of Arequipa Fur, a lovely furry blend of baby alpaca and fine merino, plus one great button:

and a rejuvenation of our Seed Stitch Pidge, prompted by a customer’s request for the pattern, which I had completely forgotten about, but which turned out to be a perfect use for one ball of Lang Yarns’ Cashmere Light, which is back in stock in five lovely basic colors. You just won’t believe how light and soft this little neck thingie is – a perfect gift for friends, teachers, bosses, Moms and anyone else whom you would like to make a fuss over:

I made this Leaf Cocoon for my sister’s birthday – it’s convenient to throw on when you need a little extra warmth around the house or the office.  I scaled down the original version, which was pretty humongous, and warmed it up with a combination of Plymouth’s DK Merino Superwash and a lace-weight fuzzy-wuzzy mohair/silk:

Love the drape and the yummy neutral fabric – I hope she does, too.

I have in my head a shawl with fluffy little ruffles in lace weight mohair picked up at intervals.  I may have to invent it because I haven’t seen one like the one in my head.  I ran to the shop to explore the possibilities and here are a few combinations that looked likely:

So, so beautiful and any one of them would make me happy.  So while that percolates in the creative sliver of my brain, the much bigger practical part is going to find a great project for this little fuzzbutt of a yarn, Andean Mist – super soft alpaca plus silk:

Jack, Purl, and I are all gettin’ fuzzy!

Lots of people come into the shop and ask for a pattern for something like an easy hat, a simple baby sweater, or a plain pullover. I show them the patterns that we still stock, but I also ask “Have you looked on Ravelry?”  If I get a blank look or “oh, I hate computers” (yep, still get that now and then), we look at print patterns.  Sometimes I hear, “I found some but I’d like to buy from you,” which I love but online patterns are welcome in our shop; if it’s a decent pattern (see below) we can find the right yarn and help you to choose the right size and fit.  Very often, when I mention Ravelry, I hear “I looked but I get lost.”  We can help you with your searches: with a few questions we can narrow things down so you’re not looking at tea cozies when what you want is a cabled cardigan. (All of a sudden, you’re distracted and thinking about the virtues of a tea cozy that looks like an old English cottage – I know how that is!)

So (I ask again) what makes a great pattern?  There are a few things that distinguish a poor pattern from a really good one:

Gauge.  The number of stitches and rows per inch (or centimeter) that you should achieve.  The only kind of pattern that could possibly get away with no gauge is a dishcloth or perhaps a blanket.  And even then, you must be sure you have way more yarn than you think you’ll need.  If your gauge is way off, (and how will you know?) you could end up using a lot more yarn than you think.  If your project has to fit anything (even a teapot), you need a gauge to swatch for.

Size.  You need a finished size in inches or centimeters.  Small, medium, large: meaningless.  8, 10, 12: meaningless. Even To Fit Bust 32, 36, 40: meaningless.  The designer may think that you want a sweater with no ease (the distance between your body and the garment) but that may be because she’s 24 years old and weighs 98 pounds.

 

 vs.

Personally, I want a little wiggle room, and sometimes a lot.  On the other hand, the designer may be employed by a yarn manufacturing company, so he or she will be motivated to use as much yardage as possible.  Sixteen inches of ease may just make you look like you’re wearing a skillfully cabled pup tent instead of an elegantly casual hand-knit sweater.

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Schematic:  Not essential for most accessories, but these boring-looking outlines with lots of numbers are absolutely crucial for a garment. (Below is a random Google image for knitting schematic – I don’t know what garment it’s for.)

Yuck, right?  But!  A sweater must fit many different parts of a body, not just the bust.  How deep is the armhole?  How wide is the neckline?  How long are the sleeves?  And how will these dimensions sit on your body?  A detailed schematic means 1000 times more to a knitter than the beauty shot on the front of the pattern.

Love the way it looks on the model?

How tall is she?  Is she long- or short-waisted?  Is she wide in the shoulders?  Where will the hem fall on you?  Will the shoulders fit you or fall inches down your arm?  Are the sleeves too wide or too narrow?  Without actual dimensions and a tape measure, you don’t know. We can help with that. (The sweater above is Sunshine Coast by Heidi Kirrmaier, who writes wonderful patterns.)

Recommended yardage/yarn details: When a yarn manufacturing company commissions a pattern, they are doing it so you will buy their yarn.  That’s understandable, and we need to do some research to find the right substitute. Yardage and weight per skein, fiber content, and recommended gauge all figure in to finding the perfect yarn for your project.

Of course you want the pattern to have clear instructions and explanations of techniques and abbreviations.  Before you buy, you can get a good idea of how well the pattern is written from the comments of people who have posted projects for the pattern on Ravelry.  Take time to read them before you buy.  Study the photos of people who have made the sweater.  You can also look at the ratings on the pattern page but be aware that 5 stars from the designer’s two best friends don’t mean nearly as much as 4 stars from 200 people.

Classic design and versatility should also figure in to your decision on a pattern.  If something catches your eye with its trendy neckline or hemline or poofy sleeves or pleats or whatever is popular this season, be sure you’re going to want to wear it 3 or 4 years down the road.  Hand knitting is not cheap or fast; invest your time and money in  something that will make you happy for a long time.

Choosing your next project should be fun but there’s also a little work to be done.  We’ll help you with the pattern research, with choosing a yarn that will work for the design that you want, and with making the right size and the right adjustments so that the garment you make will be the one you’re dreaming of.

Churchmouse’s Simple Tee is a great pattern that gives a lot of information to help you choose yarn and size, with a good schematic and excellent instructions. It also gives you lots of flexibility in the look you knit, depending on the yarn and features you choose.  (Churchmouse Yarns & Teas is a Local Yarn Store in Bainbridge Island, Washington.  Being a LYS, they know what makes a good knitting pattern, and they’re completely reliable as to including the essentials above.) They show two styles on this pattern:

Long with split hem and cap sleeves:

Short with long sleeves:

We gave a class on this sweater this past spring.  I made the long version in summery Hempathy with three-quarter sleeves (the gray version below) and have just now finished a tee from the same pattern with a shorter and wider body and short sleeves in Lang’s luscious Lusso (say that 3 times fast), a fingering-weight fuzz of – now, get this – extra fine merino, silk, baby camel and super kid mohair.  Can you say luxurious, light, and lovely? A little layer of warmth and color over a black tee!

Two completely different looks for different seasons, both wearable for many years:  this pattern is a keeper.

 

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.

Many people think of spring as the season of renewal. I tend think of fall as the season of new.  It’s probably a holdover from school days, when fall meant new clothes and new shoes, new teachers, new books, sometimes a new building and always new classes and new things to learn.  I still think of fall as a freshening breeze, crisp days and cool nights, crunchy leaves and Siamese-cat-eye-colored skies, renewed vigor and, of course, the beginning of knitting season.

Have you thought of new projects for the coming year?  Turtlenecks are making a comeback – love them or hate them?

Big cable knits are still everywhere.

 Tunics are still being shown

but there are a few shorter styles.

Color work is popular – graphic intarsia as well as stranded or striped.

 

 

Classic fisherman rib is always popular

and can also be not-quite-so-classic:

All the images above are from Nordstrom’s website.  If you want to spend $450 – 1200 on a sweater, you can have them, no knitting involved!  I use their website for inspiration for what I’d like to make this fall.  We all have different body types and issues, but for me, I’m reluctant to wear big chunky tunics (I look like the Hobbit) or turtlenecks that are too high or bulky (a hold-over from my hot flash era) or big graphic images (not wanting to come off as the side of a really short barn).

I would like a shorter cable knit, though, and I’ve always liked this one, which I think is a good transitional style for fall.  I would make it as shown, in Luma, Fibre Company’s wool/organic cotton/silk blend:

or this nice little gansey :

in Plymouth’s DK Merino Superwash.

I also like this one, maybe scaled down a bit:

in Ella Rae’s Classic Sport, a nice woolly kind of wool.

I wouldn’t mind a turtleneck this year, as long as it wasn’t too overwhelming. I’m old, so I have neck issues along with my hot-flash PTSD.  Maybe this:

because it’s done in lace weight and the collar is loose.  It would be incredibly yummy in Road to China Lace.

And this looks wearable and comfy:

I may experiment with two strands of Lang’s Lusso (coming soon to the shop, with wool/silk/camel/mohair- yum!) held together.  Debby Andrews is currently knitting this sweater in Lana Grossa’s Arioso, which will be absolutely lovely, too.

As for colorwork, I love the sweater that Karen is going to be teaching this fall – more about that next time! – and I also love this light little striped pully.  Some color packs of Fino are coming soon and I think this would be fabu using one of Fino’s lovely semi-solids along with a color pack:

Fisherman’s rib really is classic, but it’s a time-and yarn-intensive stitch.  How about this cute capelet instead, in a rich color of Worsted Merino Superwash?  Or I might try it in one of my favorite combinations, Fine Donegal (wool/cashmere) held together with Herriott Fine (baby alpaca/nylon), tweedy and lush all at the same time:

There are so many things to get excited about for fall…can’t wait!

 

 

These last few cooler days have prompted me to think about what I would like to have for the coming season.  Even though it’s going to get hot again in a day or so, my fingers and toes are feeling a bit chilly this morning, reminding me that my favorite gloves, knit years ago from Mountain Goat from Mountain Colors are wearing a bit thin in the fingertips.  I’m wanting a new pair in some bright color.  These are so pretty

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and these (from Veronik Avery’s book Knitting 24/7) are just beautifully classic.

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Cable-knit sweaters are big (sweaters are big, both in popularity and in size!) so I’m working on one now, in Kathmandu Aran, a lightly textured blend of merino, silk and cashmere.  Cozy to wear, delightful to knit, it’s due to hit the shop this week in about a dozen colors.  My sweater is based on this pattern,

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with a few mods (as usual).

I want this sweater

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in a couple of colors.  This photo has been on my desktop for months; I thought about it for a summer sweater.  Thank goodness I didn’t knit it for summer – it has been too hot for any sweater in any weight.  It’s an old Tahki pattern and I have no idea where it’s from, but it’s a simple design and I might just make a pattern for it.  I love a basic sweater in a pretty color that can be thrown on over jeans or black pants, and I’m out the door.

I’m contemplating a wonderful wrap in several colors – I have a mouth-watering array of magenta-through-hyacinth blue colors

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coming in Silky Wool this week, I just can’t wait to see them – and want to make something along these lines:

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or this:

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And for little Maxwell the Great (Nephew), I want to make a few pairs of socks for those long skinny little feet, a cute hat or two, and some thumbless mitts with a long string in between that can thread through sleeves so they don’t get lost.  Another 8-Hour Baby Blanket might be in order, with a bit of extra length to keep him covered and cozy.

Plus I have 2 must-finish-or-rip projects that have been hanging around and nagging at me way too long.  A resolution must be found!

So, what are you planning?

Okay, many of you are too young to know the reference of the title.  In olden times, there was a TV cowboy named Roy Rogers who was married to a TV cowgirl named Dale Evans, and every week at the end of their show, they would sing a song that ended with the line “Happy trails to you, ’til we meet again,” which all of us little cowboys and -girls would sing along with them.

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(Dale and Roy with Trigger)

I felt like singing this little tune when our Trailhead knit-along ended this week- we had been together since January working on this project!  The design was interesting and challenging the whole way through, from choosing the combination of fibers and colors, the intricate shaping and cable charts on the back, through the unique pocket details and significant amount of finishing required.  Although several sweaters are still in the finishing phase (the fun part, as I call it), these beauties are done:

Jill Pelcher was the first to finish in her beautiful blues. (No, there was no prize for being the first.)

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Donna Hain chose a combination of reds to make a beautiful and vibrant brick fabric:

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Deb Hawk loves the rich browns and subtle accent colors of the combination she chose:

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Love them all!  We had a wrap-up this past week.  Only about half of us braved the ridiculous bitter wind to come, and I managed only one semi-decent photo – really, I should take a class, right? – of our finished pieces.  Virginia Griffith’s sweater is the beautiful neutral of my shop model and looks wonderful, plus she brought a pretty little cupcake bouquet for us!

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Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the knit-along; it was a pure pleasure for me to see the projects coming to fruition!

Meanwhile, I’m finishing up summer models and trying to get the spring and summer classes on line.  I’m hoping that by this coming weekend, the schedule will be finished.  Lots of fun small projects to keep you knitting through the hot weather, if it ever comes!

Spring is here this morning and I hope it’s not just a quick visit.  Today I just want to show you beautiful colors, either fresh out of  the box, because all I want to do is play!

This is our shipment of Nuna, a lovely wool/silk/bamboo sport weight yarn from Mirasol.  Look at the vibrance!

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We love it, and used two colors of it for Itineris last year.  This year I made Therapy using Jilly with Cashmere plus one color of Nuna and one of Folio.

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It’s simple to knit, but it’s really my favorite shawl that I made this year, mostly because of the colors.  So, of course, I had to see what I could put together, and here are some combinations I came up with, without even trying!

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The one in the center is very similar to the shawl I made, but I love the others, too.  I may make another Therapy just so I can take one home.  A perfect spring project!

More colors of Folio, an alpaca/rayon blend, also showed up, and these can be used instead of Nuna to lower the overall cost of the project.  It’s a pretty yarn and plays well with others, so you can hold it together with another yarn to add shine and softness without spending a fortune.  Keep it in mind for those yarns you might have in your stash that look so pretty but feel so scratchy!

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I know many of you have seen this little cardigan hanging in the back room, patiently waiting for the yarn to come in and the pattern to be written!  I love this little one; it would be perfect for a day like today, sunny and just getting warm.  This is the Raleigh Ridge Cardigan:

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It’s a top-down one-piece raglan-sleeve in a ridge pattern stitch that gives it a little texture, so it would look great in a solid color as well.  I gave it minimal detailing because the pattern stitch and color are all that is needed.

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 I also love the colors of the yarn, which make it wearable with so many summer things.  Three great colorways to choose:

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The pattern is ready and will be free with purchase of yarn to make it!

More to show, but I have an appointment to buy more yarn this morning.  Later…

 

I’ve been indulging myself for the last few weeks, knitting things that I’m interested in instead of things I think other people might be interested in.  I’ve been a bad LYS owner, but a happy knitter.  It’s kind of fun to do this if you’ve been knitting gifts for other people or virtuously finishing up projects that you’ve lost interest in.  I’m rewarding myself for getting my tax stuff off to my brother-in-law the accountant.  Every year, starting New Year’s Day, I obsess until I have all the information together and feel like celebrating when I send it off.  I’m celebrating with a nifty little pullover from Heidi and Anna Pickles, a Norwegian design and yarn duo.  I liked this sweater

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as soon as I saw it  – I’m a sucker for tidy little pullovers and liked the little standup collar, the contiguous shoulders,  and ribbed sleeves.  I had Shibui Pebble and Cima at home in the color Brass. Held together they made the gauge easily and the fabric is both cushy and sturdy.  The project is indulgent and just for me because the pattern, although available in English – sort of – is written for Norwegians, who learn to knit in the womb and need very few instructions. We Americans like everything spelled out in detail, so it’s taking a little trial and error at certain points in the pattern to get things looking right.  This is how is looks so far, with shoulders done and sleeves started:

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and with all the ribbing and size 3 needles, it will look very much like this for quite a while. That’s okay, though. The combination of yarns is wonderful and I’m enjoying every single (infinitely long) round.

I don’t think I ever showed you the finished fluffy pink jacket I made over the holidays (all of them; it took a while and there was a lot of moaning as I recall).  It’s Flaum from Amirisu Magazine, Issue 8, Fall 2015.  I used a lovely shade of Arioso from Lana Grossa and just love the way it turned out, now that I’m over the immense amount of ribbing.

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And look at the way the very adorable pin that Andy Watkins gave us accents it perfectly.  Thanks, Andy!  Caution: There are errata for the pattern so if you have the magazine, be sure to look them up on Amirisu’s website.  I hope that if you buy the individual pattern from Ravelry, the corrections will have been made, but be sure.

One more thing to show you:  New knitting bags!  I’m excited to have these exclusively in the store.  Kathy K. is a local sewist.  She collects used jeans and uses them as the main fabric, then adds fun fabrics and embellishments to the front of each bag.  I love them!  Kathy designed them to be strong, comfortable to carry and very functional.  Every one is unique, beautifully pieced, with sturdy stitching, a magnetic closure, and a covered wooden stabilizer in the bottom.  One large inside pocket holds your patterns and/or tablet, three small inside pockets hold all your accessories. The double straps are denim outside and lined with the complementing fabric.  I’m happy to be able to offer them at $95 each.  Here are a few of the bags that we have in stock, and Kathy can also do special orders!

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(I’m not showing you my favorite – it’s little smaller and has a PINK floral lining – it may come home with me!)

See you soon!

Pantone has pronounced that a combination of Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue are the color(s) of the year for 2016.

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Can color inspire us to behave better or drive us to murder?  2015’s color was Marsala, the color of dried blood – and the world has had a very bloody ugly year indeed.  If everything we see in stores, on-screen, and online is baby pink and periwinkle blue, will we have a sweet year full of peace and compassion?  I hope so!

In the meantime, I love the two colors and the lovely soft violet in between them.  I must have been channeling Pantone because I have begun a nice little jacket from the cover of Amirisu Magazine in a soft and floaty pink shade of Lana Grossa Arioso that just kills me I love it so much:

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I’ve barely begun because I’m wanting to finish another sweater I’m working on in Frabjous Fibers Mad Hatter that I should have to show you next week but I had to knit just a bit and I’m in love with the yarn, color, and design.

I showed you Trailhead, our winter knit-along, and I want to show you how great it looks on Loretta Hollenbach, who tried it on during our sale, then immediately bought materials for it.  Thanks, Loretta, for modeling!

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It fits perfectly and she looks terrific in it, but I have to tell you that it looks good on almost everyone (who is taller than 5′).  A lot of people tried it on and it’s a very flattering sweater, cozy but not bulky.  Come see for yourself!

How is your gift knitting going?  Well and quickly, I hope.  17 days to Christmas, and I assume you also have a life to live in between knitting sessions?  If you would like to check out some utterly unique gift ideas, we’ve just put out many samples for sale – scarves, shawls and sweaters!  These lovely pieces are priced very reasonably because they’ve already served our purpose (we sold out the yarn), so don’t wait too long!

We are drawing names from our Frequent Buyer cards every day in December to win a $25 gift certificate.  The winners this past week were Leigh Glenn, Linda Michael, Carol Sullivan, and Jane Brubaker.  Congratulations!

Are you a knitting addict or a yarn addict?  I am both.  If I couldn’t knit with fabulous yarn, I would (and have) still knit with anything that came to hand – dishcloth cotton, acrylics, packing twine… well, I haven’t knit with packing twine but if that’s all I had, I would.  On the other hand, even if I couldn’t knit for whatever reason, I would still want beautiful yarn around me to touch, cuddle, gaze upon, gloat over. Picture Scrooge McDuck chortling with unadulterated glee while gold and jewels run through his hands – er, wings. A luscious skein of yarn is better than gold to me – lush, rich, and full of potential.

So I am never happier than when the two addictions are satisfied all at one time in one fabulous project.  Truss,      a new design from Shibui, which will be released next month with their Fall/Winter line, is such a project.  Two wonderful yarns are combined throughout to make a truly luxurious fabric.

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 Maai is a lovely combination of super baby alpaca and merino in a fluffy chainette that is unbelievably soft.  Pebble is a blend of recycled silk, merino and cashmere that looks like a rather dull lace weight, but when knit, adds texture and cashmere-y yumminess to all it touches. Together they make this heathery, lofty, heavenly combination:

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And when blocked, Truss drapes well, has cushy warmth, and holds its shape:

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I made a few modifications to the pattern.  It has two versions, a short and a long, and I split the difference between the two to customize the length.  I also made the front just a bit shorter than the back,

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and did a minimal neck rib instead of 3″, since I will no doubt be wearing it with a turtleneck underneath just as I’ve shown it here.

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Love this project, it fulfilled all my knitting desires!

Meanwhile, we received a shipment from the Fibre Company, and there’s hardly anything better than full shelves of Road to China Light and Acadia.  Come see while we have this fabulous selection:

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