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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just look at those colors!

A reminder about classes:  our exclusive afghan

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

Karen’s Silverleaf Shawl

and Cloud Nine Slippers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love it already!

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

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

Oh, how I love knitting season!

 

 

I have so much to write about that I’m having to just cut it down into small bites or I’ll never get anything on this page!  I’ve been finishing up the pattern for the afghan we’re making later this fall – Karen proofed it for me this week and I took the best pictures I could of the blocks, now to finish up the general instructions and figure out formatting and so on.  It’s complicated and interesting for such a big pattern.

Anyway, I’ve also been knitting happily away when the computer screen starts to blur.  I posted a photo to Facebook of the Alegria we received from Manos:

Beautiful, unusual colorways plus a wonderfully soft merino/nylon base = so many possibilities.  So of course, I couldn’t let it go at this.  Had to play!

Sophisticated

 

 

Pretty-pretty

 

 

Refined

 

Refined with a punch

 

 

Unrefined with a punch

 

 

POW!

Loved them all, couldn’t choose, plus I needed a quick model.  This is what I made with one skein:

I love this sweet asymmetrical shawl with a sawtooth eyelet edge and a picot bindoff, all in garter stitch so the colors blend beautifully, it’s so soft and squishy, and the pattern is free on Ravelry!  It’s Justyna Lorkowska’s Close to You and it’s an addictive fun knit!  Go get it, then come get your favorite color of Alegria!  You can finish the shawl before the classes start –

Speaking of which, the sweater class is full, I’m happy to say, and the others are filling up nicely.  If there’s a class you’re interested in, please don’t delay registering!

 

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.

 

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!

 

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 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!

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!