Since I’m busily working on the next class schedule, I’m going to take the easy way out on this post and show you some of our wonderful customers’ finished projects.  These things always thrill me!

Janice Bieber always looks so smart when she comes into the shop, and I’m always ambushing her with my camera.  She takes it with good grace!  This is her Crosshatch Shawl:

and this is her Easy Folded Poncho with a wonderful lightly-contrasting stripe, which adds a spark to the simple design, as well as a flattering diagonal line.

 

Marci Frey made this Bounce baby blanket in wonderful colors.  Cutest thing ever, and the new mom sent her a very sweet picture of the sleepy baby wrapped up in it.

 

Jane Brubaker finished her Simple Tee just in time to wear it once or twice before the cold weather moved in.  Beautifully accessorized, as usual!

 

David Ritz made this intricate sweater, which I love!  I’m sure he used size zero needles.  It’s beautiful, yes?

And this is his Yarn Gallery Afghan, pre-blocking and seaming.  I love it in black and white.  He did it so fast and sent me feedback on typos and other errors, which saved my class lots of headaches.  Thanks, David, you are the best!

 

Marianne Summers knit this Hitofude sweater in no time flat, having fallen in love with this pretty color way of Alegria.  I love the colors on her, don’t you?

 

Rochelle Mann made these lovely, warm hats for a charity auction, each taking one ball of Encore Dynamo.

 

Linda Seifarth has been knitting these fabulous doubled headbands for her grand-daughters (and all their friends, I think!)  So warm and soft in various merino wools.

 

And Sue Marshall made and modeled these Cloud Nine  Slippers, from our class this fall.  They fit her perfectly, and there may be some more on her needles for her gift list.

How is your gift list coming??  Mine is slow-going, but the sweater I’m making for my niece is almost done, just the turtleneck to knit, so things will be moving more quickly soon!

It’s a dreary, smeary old Tuesday morning and all I want to do is knit and listen to an audio book and possibly take a nap without having to bestir myself to do one other thing.  But I’ve got to run around and do errands galore so I’ll make this a quick post this week, especially since I have almost no knitting to show you.  I’ve been working on my niece’s sweater and it has been slow going because I’m designing as I go (which means ripping when things are not what I thought they’d be) and also trying to be sure it will fit her, without her being here (which means ripping when the sleeves are too short or whatever).  She’s a bit taller and quite a bit slimmer than I am, so I’m estimating using myself and hoping it will be just what she wants.  Maybe I’ll have something more complete to show next week; I’m working on the dreaded sleeves now, which I do before the body because I hate them.  I do quite like the ribbing I chose for cuffs, turtleneck, and hem though.  It’s called Little Shell Rib from Barbara Walker’s  A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

It’s deeply textured and will keep her pulse points nice and warm.

I saw my first sales rep for spring yesterday.  I told myself to be extremely disciplined and not to place orders until I had seen other lines – and frankly, people, it didn’t happen!  I loved so many things, it was agony to try to keep myself and my budget under control – I’m pretty sure I busted right through the limit I set.  Here’s a couple of samples he left for me to mess around with:

One is a hand-dyed sport weight merino in speckles and the other is a new Noro in cotton/silk/nylon/viscose that feels wonderful and comes in amazing colors.  Ohhh, March seems a long way away now…

Here is a very sweet picture of Purl and Jack taken by a customer who has spaniels of her own:

Good doggies!!!

 

 

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.  I had a wonderful week off, interrupted by our little Small Business Saturday sale, and thanks to everyone who came!  I’m very happy to announce that the winners of our Advent Calendars were Donna Hain and Janet Kakareka, both of whom will have a lot of fun opening those little doors next month, and figuring out things to do with all their little mini-skeins.  Next year there will be one with my name on it!

I visited my sister and came home with 4 knitting commissions! She wants another lightweight cowl like the one I made her last year, only in a different color.  This is the pattern I used, the Ocean Waves Loop from Swans Island Company:

According to my sister (and Chinese acupuncture), keeping the back of your neck warm is crucial to keeping your body warm and will protect you from colds and other winter ills! And as I sit here at my computer on this chilly morning with a throw over my shoulders like an old lady, I can attest to feeling much warmer with it covering the back of my neck.  I can also attest to the fact that if I switched out the throw for a beautiful infinity scarf, I would look much more stylish and much less like a haggard old crone.

The other requests came from my niece, mother of Maxwell the Great (Nephew), who, by the way, is the cutest little guy ever and is in constant motion and thoroughly in love with trucks and heavy machinery of any kind.  He needs a sweater, perhaps with a truck on it!  She needs another pair of socks, and would love a simple navy turtleneck in a warm soft fabric, which she is having a hard time finding in the stores.

How much do I love being asked for knitted things?!!  I absolutely love it.  I enjoy knitting no matter what, and I’m lucky that I can do so much of it because the demands of the store are never-ending, but it’s really special when someone you love asks you for something.  I found the most beautiful navy yarn in my stash, 80% merino and 20% cashmere, and have made a beginning on her sweater.

I’m using Laura Aylor’s Burn for the numbers and basic construction, but will change the style quite a bit to add a full fold-over turtleneck, full-length sleeves, deep ribbing at the cuffs and bottom, and more ease overall.

We’re adding a class on Sunday, December 10 from 1 – 4 p.m. , $35 class fee, to make the Last-Minute Mittlets in luscious Cashmere Light.  One $28 ball of yarn makes a pair of the softest, warmest fingerless mitts you’ve ever worn! You’ll need the yarn, size 10 or 10.5 double points, some markers and the pattern (from us or from Ravelry).

I have more to talk about but I have to catch up with everything I didn’t do when I was lounging about last week.  I believe there are about 400 emails waiting for me to delete, plus somewhere around 400 errands to run today.  I must get on – see you soon!

 

 

 

 

I was thinking of Steve Martin in “LA Story” when I wrote that title.  He’s sitting in his apartment, writing those words backwards on a fogged-up window.  I’m making myself a plain top-down sweater in a neutral color of Encore Tweed and it is seriously boring knitting.  This is the kind of knitting done in the olden days when knitting was basic and necessary, instead of a creative pastime.

Yuh, you see what I mean. So then, why?  I need a work-horse sweater that is warm-ish, will fit under a jacket when I walk the dogs every morning, and go in the washer and dryer with no fuss.  It can’t be too bulky or too long or in any nice natural fiber that takes any amount of special handling. And even though Encore is basic and inexpensive, it’s still about 10 times nicer than the cr*p you can find in the stores.  So I’m persevering and it’s okay because it will be exactly what I need when it’s done.

But let’s see some color, because when I’m done with this, I’m going to want something completely yummy to work with!  We received some Victory Sock from The Knitted Wit, just a smattering to see what her dyeing is like.  The base is a sturdy 80/20 wool/nylon blend, so just perfect for socks, and it’s grown, spun and dyed in the US, isn’t that nice?  It would also make long-wearing mittens or fingerless mitts, a good hat that would hold its shape, and could be combined with many things for shawls and cowls.  I bought very bright colorways:

One-skein project ideas:  Close to You, Rose City RollersSunnyside, Sockhead Slouch Hat – all free on Ravelry!  (By the way, it costs $1.50 for us to print these patterns and put them in a plastic sleeve for you if you’re not Ravelry-friendly, going up to $2.00 in the new year according to my business manager. So, get Ravelry-friendly already!)

Combining could be a good idea for anything more than a one-skein project.  These combos leapt off the shelves at me:

and there are many more, to make Breezy Cabana, Party on My Needles, Klickitat Street Cowl, a fab baby blanket, and many other wonderful things that will be so much fun to make.  I’ll just keep thinking of possibilities while I knit away on my boring beige thing.

Look at the sweet fingerless mitts that Deb Cech made out of one ball of Lang Nova:

She adapted these from Tin Can Knits’ Loch pattern, which includes full mittens and a great hat. Love them, so soft, light, and warm!

We have a lot of great colors in Nova.  I’m determined to have at least a hat and maybe even a sweater this winter!

 

 

What is this????

This is an Advent calendar from Opal Yarn and I have 2 to raffle off on Small Business Saturday!! (This is the Saturday after Thanksgiving in case you didn’t know.)  We’re having a little sale, and for every $50 you spend that day, you’ll get a ticket to win one of these 24-days-of-surprises treasures!  These sell out so fast that I could only get two, and it was really hard for me to commit both to the raffle because I want one just for me!

 

Save the Date:  November 25!!

 

I love it when the time changes in the fall.  Everything falls back into place.  I can wake up to daylight, watch twilight fall in the late afternoon and eat dinner after dark, all of which seem right to my biological clock.  Plus we get that hour back that was plucked from our lives by Daylight Savings Time.  How did you spend yours?

I have promised myself to use that hour cleaning some of the clutter that is beginning to accumulate in piles around me.  There’s a pile of catalogs at the front door, a pile of pantry items that all of a sudden seem to have found a home on my kitchen table, and my desk must either be sorted out or burnt to the ground.  (I’m favoring the latter, if I could only find some matches!) Plus errands are piling up – things to be mailed, things to be recycled, things to be hunted and gathered.  None of which I want to do.

I want to knit and that’s what I’ve been doing.  Easy things that take little thought, that can easily be put down when something else comes up, that can be taken with me and worked on without instructions.  I made a simple hat with the fuzzy Andean Mist I showed you last week:

I based it on the Brunswick Beanie, a free Ravelry pattern from Sue Grandfield, but changed to stockinette stitch after about 3″ of k1, p1 ribbing.  It was enough already.  Turned out cute, and you can wear it slouchy or not:

The very soft yarn would also make a great chemo cap.

I made this very pretty scarf from 2 balls of Millefiori from Berroco (these are the new colors this year):

with our free Chevron Scarf pattern.  I love the way it turned out and the pattern is just interesting enough to keep you awake:

And I have just embarked on a Railroad Rib scarf (also free pattern with purchase) using a strand of plain fingering with a strand of Zauberball (new colors just in:)

I’m using these two colors:

And these are some other ideas:

and there are only about 1,000 more!

Come in and choose your combo.  You’ve got that extra hour to browse and play!

 

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!

Sometimes I don’t know where the days go!  It’s nearly the end of October, and the trees are still green. I don’t know where the barrels of leaves are coming from, I just know there are lots more to fall. My tomato plants are still happily making new tomatoes. I know they should be pulled out, but they’re still so exuberant.  And my lovely soft cozy sweaters are still in their plastic zipper bags.  Summer keeps drifting along and so do I.

However, November hovers in the offing and that’s my wake-up call.  I have lots of birthdays in November and while I don’t usually knit for those birthdays, both my sisters have milestone birthdays this year and I want to send them something I made.  Unfortunately, my younger sister, whom I adore and would knit her anything she wanted, doesn’t ever like what I knit, no matter how chic and black it is, so I’m sending her a pair of Cloud Nine Slippers from our recently finished class.  These slippers are really cute

but a lot of trouble to make – something happens every row and it’s really pay-attention knitting – so I feel that I put some effort into them as a present, and if she ends up giving them away or making dog toys out of them, at least it’s not a cashmere sweater.

I also finished a pair of Brother-In-Law socks to send along.  Mickey’s a gem and he loves crazy socks.  This was a new stripe-y color from Opal and I snagged one right away:

These I know will be worn and appreciated!

For my other sister, who does seem to like knitted things or at least has the grace to pretend she does, I’m making a cozy little cocoon, a scaled-down version of one I designed and taught a few years ago.  It’s not done yet so I can’t show you much.  This is the first half and all you can tell is that the fabric will be lovely.

It’s Plymouth’s DK Merino Superwash held with a strand of Kid Gloss lace weight mohair-silk, and it’s pretty darn yummy.  I’ll have it done this week, by hook or by crook, because there are so many, many, many, many things I want to knit for ME!

Here are a few things I’ve just added to my favorites, as I spent a couple precious hours trolling through the recent past on Ravelry to catch up with what I missed:

Shawls:

Theresa Schabes’ Escalator Wrap

 

Laura Aylor’s Brookhill

 

Susan Ashcroft’s Myssoni

 

Sweaters:

Josee Paquin’s Cathedral Grove

 

Heidi Kirrmaier’s Avalanche

 

Thea Coleman’s Cranberry Gose

 

Maureen Clark’s Seeded Pullover

 

And about a hundred other things, big and small, easy or intricate.  Aren’t you happy to be a knitter????

I nearly lost this file of photos of customers’ finished projects, so I decided I would hurry up and post them before I do something unexpected and inexplicable again!

First, Janet came in with the most wonderful shawl that she made during a Mystery Knitalong from Joji Locatelli this past summer.  The shawl is called Starting Point and look how wonderful Janet looks in it! I love the colors she used.  (She also brought lunch for Jack and Purl and absolutely made their day!)

Jettie sent photos of two finished objects that she made with our classes this past summer, and I just love them both!  First she made a Fancy Hen for a friend who raises Rhode Island Reds:

and then she made this pretty pink Pearl for herself:

Both beautifully done!

Anne Alderman made a beautiful Stella Luna shawl, all in black, bless her heart:

Challenge met and mastered!

Kathleen Delong took our Magic Loop Mitts class this summer and made a beautiful pair of mitts, then designed her own headband with the leftovers:

I’m so impressed by Kathleen, who has only been knitting for bit over a year!

Sandy Albert has two unexpected but very welcome grandchildren coming this fall, and made them boy and girl blankets, then had them personalized at Initials Only:

Dave Ritz, who is recovering from a broken ankle (and had to cancel a planned trip to Rhinebeck – so sad!), sent for our Yarn Gallery afghan pattern and yarn to make it, and got the first strip done in a couple of days!  He’s so fast!

It’s looking good in black and white, right?  Love and best wishes to David for a quick healing process!

Pam Berger has been crocheting mermaids this summer and I asked her to please bring one in to show me, since she used unusual yarns and I just couldn’t picture it.  This mermaid is adorable, here doing the side stroke, with long shiny ringlets floating about her and a lovely sinuous tail:

I have only one finished object this week.  I couldn’t resist this wonderful red color of Estilo, a wool and silk blend from Plymouth that is so completely yummy I had to make something with it.  One skein made an Ocean Waves cowl which I cut down to a cast-on of 234 stitches to make a loop about 42″ around and 10″ tall after blocking.

I love this pattern, it’s relaxing and engaging all at once, and very, very pretty.

I have more new yarn to show you, but you’re sick of looking at new yarn, aren’t you? No?  Me neither!! Next week…

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.

vs.

 

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.