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.

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!

 

 

Harvey was and still is a nightmare.  I, like everyone else, watched with horror as the rains kept coming and the rescues mounted, and now we are still learning the terrible aftermath.  My nephew and his family live in a western suburb of Houston.  They were lucky.  Their house, their kids, and their pets are all safe.  They, like others who were fortunate, spent the week that they couldn’t go to work volunteering at local shelters and ferrying donations and supplies where they were needed. Life there won’t be normal for a long time.

Anything we as knitters or crocheters can do?  Houston doesn’t need warm hats and socks and mittens and blankets.  The agencies that are helping people and pets need money, period.  I know most of us have probably sent something already, but I just had a notion that maybe we’d like to have a little get-together at the shop and everyone can throw in $10 (more if you want) and we’ll knit or crochet the afternoon away and send good thoughts to Texas while being grateful for our good fortune.

All donations will be split evenly between American Red Cross’s Houston fund, the Houston Humane Society and the Houston SPCA.  You can tape a note to your $10 bill if you want it to go one way or the other. I know there are many naysayers when it comes to the American Red Cross, but what other organization could launch this kind of massive effort to feed and shelter thousands in the matter of a few days?

So let’s do this!  Come anytime between noon and 5 on Sunday, September 17, and stay as long as you want. Bring $10 in cash and a project to work on, and if you want to bring any nibbles, please do!  We’ll have tea, coffee, water, and some variety of wine available.

Spread the word, bring a friend, everyone is welcome!

As you can tell from my last post, I love playing with color, and having the shop gives me so much opportunity to indulge that love.  When I’m not busy, I can spend many happy moments (minutes, hours) pulling yarns off the shelf and putting different colors and textures together.  They may never be anything more than speculative, but this little activity gives me the same pleasure as planning a decorating scheme or mapping out a quilt gives other people.

So, when a new yarn comes in with innovative use of color, it opens up many possibilities, and I find that trying to resist this time-wasting and purely pleasurable activity is useless. I must play!

We recently received Frabjous Fibers’ March Hare (lovely worsted weight superwash merino) dyed in their Tea Time speckled colorways:

They’re pretty in and of themselves, no?  But combine them with other yarns and they really come into their own:

 

 

 

I love how different companion colors bring out different aspects of the March Hare.  I can’t decide which is my favorite, but I ordered some extra of the Peach Pie colorway so I decided to use that for a little shop sample.  I had these three colors chosen:

(and then I had three other colors, then three others, and on and on) but eventually, due to some time constraints, decided to use only 2 colors and make a smallish project. I have always liked the look of this cute Candygram cowl by Tanis Lavallee, which uses two colors and a neat slip stitch-plus-rib technique to make two different sides. Here’s my version:

Love it! You can get the pattern free from her Instagram feed link on Ravelry, and if this is too technical for you, I can help you out at the shop.

I really have been busy with knitting this summer.  Next time I’ll show you a terrific cardigan I finished, and possibly one or two finished Pearl pullovers from our class and, I hope, my second (!) Pearl.  And yes, we’re working on the class schedule for fall – I’m getting pretty excited about it.

 

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

It’s been a while since I posted, and there’s so much to talk about and show you that I don’t even know how to start.  I want to show you customer projects from this summer, but I also want to show you new yarns that have been coming in, and I also just want to ramble on about this and that.

I’ll start with some customer projects today:

Susie Drake took Karen’s Eternal Optimist class this summer and brought in her completed scarf to show.  The color is stunning and the beads are beautiful accents:

Mary Ellen Leidy took Karen’s Modern Wrapper Fine class in the spring, just after getting a new puppy!  It took a little while to finish the wrapper, in between walks, play, and training sessions for Keiko, but she did it!  It’s a beautiful fit, a beautiful color, and beautiful workmanship:

Cindy Schuchart took my Corella hat class this summer, in between vacations with a house full of kids and grandkids.  She made a beautiful hat and got comfortable with charts as well.

Cindy also made this pretty poncho for her daughter-in-law from our in-house free pattern.  Finished in plenty of time for fall, the poncho is perfect!

Virginia Griffith made this great open-work tunic from two colors of Shibui Twig.  (So sorry for  the photo. Take my word for it, it’s really pretty!)

Debby Andrews finished this pretty feather-and-fan tam, then made a cowl in the same stitch pattern to match.  She’s all set for cool weather:

Anne Alderman made these two good-looking summer tops, plus one or two more, plus some hats…and on and on…!

Jill Pelchar made this great hoodie for her daughter, who models it beautifully!

Linda Seifarth loves small projects.  She made the adorable hat and the in-process headband for a grand who, I think, is heading to Penn State. The beautiful Touch-Me scarf is in her own favorite color.  The headband pattern and the scarf patterns are ours and are free with purchase:

Anne Nordhoy made up her own bunch of blocks for this afghan, made from scraps from other projects.  It’s amazing!

However, the belle of the blog has got to be this challenging sweater Amy Wall made for her nephew Joey – cables, steeks and all!  He obviously adores it; you don’t see bigger smiles than this:

Many thanks to everyone who sends me photos or takes the time to bring in finished projects.  It’s a real joy to see them!

 

 

The cardigan from my last post, Aileas, is proceeding apace.

As you can see, I did the sleeves before completing the body, just to get them out of the way.  The faux-cables are fun to work:

and are included on the sleeves:

so that even the sleeves won’t bore you to pieces.

I’m just about to add some columns of cables that will accent the back and set off the pockets so things are moving along.  I’ll probably whine at you just a bit when I’m partway through the bottom ribbing – there’s a bunch of it!

We got some really beautiful yarn in from Plymouth this last week.

That’s “Estilo” to the left and center, 10 fabulous colors of wool and silk lusciousness in a fingering/light sport weight.  Karen already snagged 2 colors to make a shawl that she may teach in the fall!  Here’s just one skein of the elegant steel blue:

The other column of beautifulness is “Reserve Sport” a blend of merino, milk, and bamboo that reminds me very much of a hand-dyed Nuna (one of our favorite drapy, shiny, slithery yarns).  I for some reason got the bug to crochet something a couple weeks ago, and since my skills are basic and my speed is snail-ic, I needed something really easy.  Reserve Sport is nice for crochet because it has built-in drape due to its fiber content, and while helping another customer, I came across this pretty and simple cowl called Tembetari.  So I’m trying it out.  After 3 hours, this is what I’ve accomplished:

Impressive, no?

I’m going to stick with it.  The yarn is delightful, and I sorely need the practice!