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!

 

 

Accuweather tells me to expect high 80’s – 90 degree temperatures and lots of humidity for the foreseeable future (like I need them to tell me that – it is July, after all); therefore I have developed an insane desire to knit a lovely big woolly cardigan.

This happens to me every summer.  I spend much of the end of winter and all of spring knitting summer yarns into light tops, and by now, my hands, eyes, and needles yearn for the knitting goodness of a true 100% wool. I started stocking Plymouth Homestead last fall but never got around to making the nice warm cardigan that was in my head when I ordered it.  It’s not an expensive yarn and there are always models to be made for pricier yarns and for those that are tough to visualize as a knitted something until you can see it or touch it as a finished item.  Homestead is just nice wool, spun in Peru, and it’s so traditional, with nothing very sexy going on, that it’s easy to ignore in favor of other softer, multi-colored, fluffier or whatever yarns distract you when you’re in the shop.

However, its time has come.  I chose this wonderful sheepy color:

and began to swatch:

and all of my woolly desires were satisfied!

It will become this pretty and cozy cardigan from Isabell Kraemer called Aileas:

which I love because of the faux-cables that are easy to work and won’t slow you down too much but add a lot to the look.  I love the pockets.  I love the deep rib.  I love the fold-over collar, which in my case will be lined with a coordinating? matching? contrasting? (Don’t know yet) color of Herriott Fine, which is soft, soft alpaca.  Hey, I’m not a particularly itch-sensitive gal but even I don’t want woolly wool against my neck all day.  This pretty pink version shows a contrasting lining:

Sweet, right?

Speaking of sweet, look at what popped in the door the other day:

It’s the latest offering from Zen Yarn Garden’s Artwalk series, based on this painting:

Willem de Kooning’s Garden in Delft.  Marci Frey came in as I was opening the package and we had a pretty good time running all over the shop to find some things to spark up the pretty colors (Marci loves bright!):

Come get yours!

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!

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 have a couple of wonderful accessories to show you today which will ease you and your wardrobe into spring and summer.  (I won’t mention the disgusting weather, which has been completely seasonally inappropriate.  Why should we have spring in February and winter in March?  I  need to write an indignant letter to somebody about this…the National Weather Service?  NASA? Anyone have an address for Mother Nature?) (Rant suspended temporarily. It will return when I again try to disperse the ice mound at the end of my driveway later today.)

A few weeks ago I wrote about spring projects and mentioned the Crosshatch Shawl by Benjamin Matthews.  The perfect yarns for this project arrived shortly thereafter, and I made the shawl and just love it.  I made it in a combination of Lang’s Fiora and Berroco’s Modern Cotton DK:

Two-row garter stripes interspersed with short sections of stranded colorwork (very simple) make a striking shawl that drapes smoothly.  The yarns are DK so the knitting goes quickly.

This sunny combination (shown to the right below) suited me very well during the aforementioned weather, but there are other quite wonderful combinations, so I had to play with color a little.  Each multi-colored Fiora below could be combined with either of the solids shown and each would give a very different look.

I also finished the Stone Point poncho in Kelbourne Woolen’s newest Fibre Company yarn, Luma.  I’m not a big fan of cotton mixed with wool, but this yarn was lovely to knit and the stitch definition is excellent, probably due to the addition of linen and silk.  The lace pattern is fun and interesting and worth the trouble, don’t you think? The fabric’s hand is soft and smooth and surprisingly light.

The yarn is due in April and I have this beautiful dark denim and 3 other lovely neutrals coming.  If you want one of their other fabulous colors, there’s still time to add to my stock order.  Come in and try it on!

It’s time (and almost past time) to be thinking about what we’d like to make for spring and summer, despite the fact that it’s frigid outside and we’re all staying cozy in our biggest warmest wools right now!

You’ve seen the Simple Tee – our class just started this past weekend.  I love the way the straight lines are set off by the subtlety of the curve of the armholes, the clean swoop of the neckline, and the tubular edges of the vent.  Something to wear for any occasion, with the right accessories!

 

 

I’ve already knit up Mariken, designed by Regina Moessmer.  It’s fun and soft in Remix Light (and very inexpensive to make!)  The neckline is big, and I’m going to do a crocheted chain around it to hold its shape.  Otherwise, it’s a wonderful little summer cardy.

 

I don’t wear a lot of sleeveless things these days, but I’m thinking of making an exception for at least one of these:

Construction Zone by Heidi Kirrmaier

I would make this in original Remix, a soft blend of recycled fibers that has plenty of texture to hold its shape and add interest to this plain design.

Dewberry by Martha Wissing

I love the little lace motif at the yoke – lack of shaping keeps the lace simple.  Easy rolled edges and lots of stockinette make it fast.

Kagerou by michiyo

This little vest has so many charming details that I find it almost irresistible. The lace bottom border, the flared shape, the dropped hem, the ribbed yoke – I love it all.  It works as a vest but could certainly be done as a tank top as well.  Love it!

I’m a sucker for an easy-fitting pullover for summer.  Getting dressed is so simple if you have a great lightweight sweater to jump into.

Sunshine Coast by Heidi Kirrmaier

A great top-down summer look, with a few eyelets and bias panels for interest, this has been in my favorites since the day it was published.  Virginia Griffith and Nikki Schower are both well into knitting this, and I’m a bit jealous!

 

 

Bennett Creek by Kelbourne Woolens

Cropped and boxy, with a pretty center cable, this pullover is designed for Luma, Fibre Company’s newest yarn which I’m testing now.  I think I’m in love!

 

 

Perforated Sweater by Suvi Simola

This sweater has a few eyelets at the hem, just for fun, and otherwise is a simple and clean raglan design, easy to wear and accessorize.  I want it in just this color!

Stone Point by Kelbourne Woolens

I’m working on this adorable poncho right now, and am loving the yarn and design to pieces.  I hope to have something for you to see, feel and try on in just a week or so.

I hope you found something to inspire you to get moving on those spring projects – it’s time!

 

 

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.

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Right now, my model has one bracelet-length sleeve

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and one cap sleeve

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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)

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mitts

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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:

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

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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!

I hope you all know about our yarn sale this coming Saturday, November 26.  All yarn is at least 10% off and if you fill a Frequent Buyer Card (or already have a full card) you can use it for an additional 10% off.  This is a wonderful time to think ahead to what you would like to be knitting or crocheting during long cold snowy evenings this winter, and get a good deal on materials for those projects!  Do a bit of planning and feel free to bring patterns along with you; we just may not have time to help you with pattern searches on Saturday.

Meanwhile, we’ll be open on Tuesday (pre-shopping is welcome, by the way), then closed Wednesday – Friday.  I’m looking forward to visiting with Maxwell the Great (Nephew), and I hope you have some downtime this week, too.  Maxwell’s mom has requested a poncho, so I designed and made this, which I hope she’ll like:

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It’s quite pretty in Noro’s new yarn, Tennen, a nice mixture of wool, alpaca, and silk which softens and drapes very well after blocking.  I love the texture and natural color effects of Tennen, but it can be made in any worsted-weight yarn you like.  The pattern is free with purchase of yarn to make it. It’s at the shop now, but if, as I hope, Sarah likes it, we’ll have to make a new one for the shop.  It’s a simple pattern, so no worries!

Karen and I are thinking hard about this winter’s class schedule.  She’ll be teaching a beautiful Fair-Isle circular-yoke sweater.  I have an interesting cowl in the works.  And there may be a knit-along involving Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, in which you could use any yarn (as long as it comes from Yarn Gallery, of course) and make any design.  I’ve embarked on a top-down set-in sleeve cardigan in fingering weight (something I really want for me and could not find a pattern on-line to suit me.  How does that happen when there are 100,000+ patterns out there?) It’s taking a long time to get anywhere, of course, because I’m using size 3 needles, so the knit-along will be later in the season, for sure.  You, of course, will be more sensible and use a different size yarn.  Anyway, re: classes, we’re open to ideas – what would you like to make???

Have a wonderful, safe, peaceful Thanksgiving, eat lots of fabulous food, and come see us Saturday!