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!

 

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!

Well, it was fun, and it’s almost over, and I have to admit I’m glad.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m at loose ends for too long, I tend to fall into bad habits – the same bad habits I fight against all the time: too much couch time, too many snacks, too few chores or useful projects.  I did enjoy the first half, though.  I went to my home town for a bridal shower for the daughter and future son-in-law – both so sweet – of one of my cousins.  It was given by the daughters of another of my cousins, and it was great seeing all those lovely folks again.   Another day, I got to have brunch with Maxwell the Great (Nephew) and of course, his mom, dad, and grandmother. He’s cuter than cute, and despite his mother’s warning, there was no food-hurling.  He was very, very good!

I also bought some wonderful yarn for the fall and thought wistfully about the big yarn show in Columbus, which is happening this coming weekend.  Really, it’s better if I don’t go, I just get into trouble (inventory-wise, not in any interesting way) but – all that beautiful yarn in one place!!!!

The only knitting I did was to finish Pearl, the sweater I’m teaching later this summer.  It knit up like a dream in Plymouth’s Worsted Merino Superwash.  I made it in PINK (extreme pink-ness) and it’s pretty cute.  I can only do a bad photo right now because it’s still damp so I dare not stretch or hang it, but here it is:

I made two modifications to this version:  (1) I used German short rows instead of wrap-and-turns for the shoulders and the sleeve caps, and (2)  I did only 1 lace motif at the neckline and didn’t carry it down the front, just to show that you can make it this way if you wish to.  The next one I do (which will be while the class is knitting it) will have the lace the whole way down the front.

See how happy she looks? I like the verticality of the lace column, and it won’t be so tedious to knit the body.  The lace is pretty and worth the effort.

In fact, I like everything about this sweater and would be happy to have several in many different colors and fabrics in my wardrobe.  I like 3/4 sleeves, but it would be easy to carry them down to full length. The neckline is flattering and is finished with a neat I-cord bindoff.  The picked-up sleeves have short row caps which are interesting to work, and you can choose whatever your favorite method is to work the sleeves in the round (I used magic loop – if you don’t know how, learn it in our Magic Loop Mitts class.  The classes overlap a little but you’ll know the technique by the time we get to the sleeves and using it in a different application will reinforce your knowledge.)

The length of the sweater is great and easily adjustable, and the a-line silhouette is perfect for my body and easily eliminated if you aren’t quite so cursedly pear-shaped. The light worsted weight wool is good for at least 6 months of the year here. plus it’s machine-washable.  I may end up finishing the drying in the machine, too, just to see how that works.

To sum up, I couldn’t be more pleased with this pattern and the yarn and the result!  Classes are filling up nicely (I love this summer’s schedule) so check them out here.  And heads up if you’re intrigued by lace knitting and beading – Karen’s Eternal Optimist knit-along starts on June 15th! The link will take you to some beautiful projects on Ravelry – then come in to see Karen’s version in person – it’s simply luscious.

By the by, we’ll be closed Saturday June 17th because of Art on the Avenue – you know the drill: no parking, lots of crowds and kids and dogs so lots of frenetic barking on the part of Purl and Jack, lots of hair-pulling and yelling on the part of me – so, sorry!

How much more time is left?  How much more money do you need?  How much more stuff do you want?  More clothes, more food, more kudos, more recognition, more social standing, more, more, more?

A death in my family – the first in my generation – and a reunion of sorts with my extended family has made me reflect on what I want for the next few years of my life, what I enjoy about having this little business, and what I would wish for the years beyond.

What I like about the business:

  1. Helping you choose the right yarn for your project.  I really know a lot about yarn and will never try to sell you something that won’t work.
  2. Helping you with problems in your knitting.  There’s no need to apologize for “taking up our time.”  That’s what it’s all about, as far as I’m concerned.
  3. Teaching classes.
  4. All the stuff you like: buying yarn, talking about yarn, thinking of new projects, talking about knitting, and most of all, knitting.
  5. Designing projects I can’t find good patterns for.  This is not really part of the store; it’s just something I enjoy and would like to do more of if there is ever enough time.

What I don’t like about the business:

  1. Being at the store when no one else is there.  There’s no one at home doing the dishes or the laundry or running errands or waiting for the cable guy or arranging doctor appointments or paying bills or taking the dogs to the vet.  I, like many of you, get to do that in my “free” time.  That’s why I’m giving myself more of it by being closed on Tuesdays now (and probably forever.)
  2. Selling.  I’m not good at it.  I won’t point out a lot of stuff you don’t express an interest in or a need for.  If you don’t look around, you’ll miss a lot of nice yarn and projects and ideas.  Take some time to poke around. (Or don’t; it’s entirely up to you.)
  3. Minor bugaboos that affect every small business: random requests for donations from strangers, junk phone calls, and people pretending they want to buy yarn from me when what they really want is free advice for their project from Michael’s or AC Moore or “America’s Yarn Store” which is hubris if I’ve ever heard it and may be the only yarn store around when the dust settles.  Don’t you wonder how that will go?

My family’s loss of a really good guy, great dad and “Pap” (as his grandkids called him), and my cousin’s sweet husband of 49 years seems to me an occasion to step back a bit and see where we are and where, if we’re given the opportunity, we go from here.

And while we reflect, here are some finished sweater projects to inspire our knitting, lovely as they are.

Rochelle Mann, her own design, in Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash:

 

Donna Hain, Eyelet Cardi, in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool:

Eleni Geishauser for her husband, Snowshoe Aran, in Plymouth Galway:

Virginia Conrad, from The Best of Lopi, in Fibre Company’s Cumbria:

Anne Alderman, Modern Wrapper Fine, in Lana Gatto Feeling (with husband John):

 

Virginia Griffith, Sunshine Coast, in Juniper Moon Farm’s Zooey:

Anne Nordhoy, Vitamin D, Modern Wrapper Fine, and her own creation, in various wonderful yarns:

Thanks to everyone who endures my poor photography and my ramblings here.  Writing to you all may be my very favorite part of having the store!  See you soon.

 

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

use2

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!