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!

 

 

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!