A Stretchy Sewn Bind-Off Tutorial

AD-stretchy-bind-offToday’s post is about a lesser known stretchy bind off. It’s a variation on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind off, but stretchier! This bind off is great for toe up socks, and anywhere you’d like a nice stretchy edge. It’s also a near perfect match for the backwards loop cast on! We suggest trying this on your next cowl too, as you can have perfectly matching and stretchy edges on both your cast on and bind off edges.

This bind off can be difficult if worked over really large numbers of stitches, like on the bottom edge of a shawl. Because the yarn is cut and pulled through the stitches you need a tail that’s four times the length of your fabric where you are binding off, which can be quite large on the bottom edging of a shawl!

This bind off is, however, faster and easier than some of the knit alternatives, so we’d recommend trying it on smaller projects that have a moderate number of stitches that need to be bound off.

This bind off is great for any pattern you’re working. Our swatch here is knit in stockinette stitch, but this bind off works on all stitch patterns equally well.

Alpaca Direct Stretchy Bind Off

Step 1: Measure out yarn to about 4 times the length of your fabric, then an extra 10-16″ for a tail, cut yarn and thread through a blunt tip tapestry needleAlpaca Direct Stretchy Bind Off

Step 2: Insert  the tapestry needle purlwise into the first stitch, pulling it off the needle.
Alpaca Direct Stretchy Bind Off

Step 3: Insert tapestry needle knitwise into the next stitch, leaving the stitch on the needle. Alpaca Direct Stretchy Bind Off

Step 3: Pull yarn through the two stitches, leaving a loop before the first stitch (the one that you just dropped off the knitting needle). DSC_0653

Step 4: With the yarn in front bring the tapestry needle through the loop, from front to back, making sure the loop is not twisted. Alpaca Direct Stretchy Bind Off

Step 5: Pull yarn and tapestry needle until the loop is snug.  You’ve bound off one stitch!Alpaca Direct Stretchy Bind Off

Repeat Steps 1-5 until there’s one stitch left on the needle, and just slip that off the needle. It won’t unravel because you’ve already passed yarn through this stitch, since the sewn bind off pulls the yarn through each stitch twice, (once when you pull through and leave the stitch on the needle, and again when you thread the yarn through the stitch and pull it off the needle). The first and last stitch will only have the yarn passed through once, but that’s enough to make sure it won’t come unraveled. If you try this bind off we’d love to hear about it!

If you knit socks cuff down be sure to take a look at our Super Stretchy Picot Cast-On Tutorial!

Is there another technique that you’d like to see us write about on the blog? Leave a comment and let us know!  In the meantime, happy yarn shopping at Alpaca Direct!



Knitting Helps Mentor a Healthy Lifestyle

By: Kelley Hobart:  Owner – Alpaca Direct

Kelley HobartMentoring others to knit and crochet is a great way to share one aspect of a healthy lifestyle.   In this day and age we parents need to be positive mentors to our children to promote healthy crafts.  What does being a mentor mean?  It means someone who imparts wisdom to and who shares knowledge with the less experienced. Who better to mentor children than their parents?   Afterall, we are the ones who would lay down our lives for them at a moments notice.

We will do almost anything to ensure their safety and comfort in life. We spend a large part of our lives grooming them into responsible adults.    We live by sound moral ethics and promote healthy living so that they will do the same when they are adults. We encourage giving back to the community and helping our fellow neighbors whenever possible.

Mom and Daughters in the parade last summer

Moms and Daughters in the parade last summer

For my childhood, parental mentoring had it’s challenges. There were seven children in my family, four boys and three girls.  My twin sister and I were the youngest.  My dad left my mom and our family when my sister and I were 11 months old. He took the keys to the car, and I’ve never seen him to this day.  My brother, Todd, was two days less than a year older than us so mom had three babies in diapers,  no job, and no support system. Those were rough times for us, but mom kept us all together and I never remember mom sitting down when we were little.  She mentored a very strong work ethic!

My twin sister Shelley and I were inseparable

My twin sister Shelley and I were inseparable

I did not have my birth dad as a mentor, but I had many other positive role models during those formative years.  One mentor was Mrs. Hupp. She was an older woman who had lost her husband and visited the coast to stay at her cabin during the summer months. I would spend weeks with her during the summer. Her cabin had no running water, and we baked many pies on her wood fueled oven. I remember the deer in the back yard and the raccoons that we fed and watched with a spotlight that shone brightly over the tree trunk that we placed the scraps on. Those were some wonderful times! I still miss Mrs. Hupp and how she mentored me to appreciate the simple things in life.

Then when I was in high school my counselor, Steve Jurist, helped me find a way to realize my dream of going to college. I was the first to get a college degree in my family and was able to change my life and lift myself from the poverty that my biological father had left us in so many years ago.

My graduation as an RN

My graduation as an RN

Never miss an opportunity to help and mentor others. Show your children that you care by spending time with them. Whether you teach them to knit, bake a pie, or ride a horse, you will impact their lives. You may not realize it today, but the result will be the same. Their lives will be improved because you took the time to share a little of yourself with them while mentoring a healthy lifestyle.

 I love to see mother and daughters in our store learning to knit together. It is fun to see them mentoring patience, perseverance and just sharing stories about life while they craft a hand knit item together.

My daughter and I training the Alpacas

Our daughter Lauren and I training the Alpacas

At Alpaca Direct we are proud to be part of the mentoring process when it comes to learning the fiber arts of knitting, crochet and hand-spinning yarn. We carry a full line of fiber art accessories, including hundreds of needles and thousands of yarns. Our unique selection of products also includes Peruvian hand-loomed lace scarves, luxurious alpaca socks and cuddly alpaca teddy bears.

 Our building is handicap accessible, with ample parking and is easy to find.  We are located on Hayden Avenue, just two blocks west of Hwy 95 at 1016 W Hayden Ave. in Hayden.

Our store is open 10am – 6pm Monday through Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday. Visit us at 1016 W. Hayden Avenue or online at www.AlpacaDirect.com – your local destination for luxury yarn, socks, apparel & gifts. “Like” us on Facebook and Yelp for exclusive coupons, product spotlights & news!

Knitting May Help Delay or Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

grandma knitting

Knitting keeps your mind active

By Kelley Hobart

Kelley HobartDid you know that women age 60 and older have a 1 in 6 chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease in their lifetime? Women are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared with breast cancer, according to a report from the Alzheimer’s Association.

The good news is you may be able to delay or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease if you knit when you are in your 50s and 60’s.  The Mayo clinic team found that those who spent their 50s and early 60s reading, playing games and engaging in various craft hobbies, including knitting and quilting, had a 40 percent lower risk of memory impairment than those who didn’t have hobbies.  In later life, these same activities reduced the risk by between 30 and 50 percent.

Another interesting fact is that 24% of women and men mistakenly believe they are only at risk for Alzheimer’s disease if they have a family member with it. This is simply not true. “Anyone with a brain is at risk,” says Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer’s Association.

 I first experienced Alzheimer’s disease when I was 18 and worked in a nursing home to help pay for college.  One of my patients was a wonderful elderly man whom I cared for daily. He was tall in stature, character and wit.  I’m sure he was a wonderful father, husband and a pillar in his community, and now he was struggling with the realities of Alzheimer’s. One day while his wife of 50+ years was visiting, he had an episode where he became very disoriented, and we had to restrain him until he regained his orientation.  I sat by his side to calm him down and watched him as he stared across the room at his wife. She had a look of sadness and despair that she could not hide. I then looked at him as I held his hand and saw a stream of tears rolling down his cheeks. He realized something had happened, but he had no recollection of the event.  To this day, I still feel the helplessness yet deep love and conviction shared between these two soul mates as they dealt with the effects of this disease.

 There are no easy cures for Alzheimer’s but keeping your brain active seems to be a good preventative measure.  When the weather is cold outside, or you are just older and  less active,  skills like knitting and crochet can provide stimulation for your brain and a little bit of fun!  You have to follow the patterns or your patterns will not come out right.  Many of our students comment on how they have to “focus” to get the pattern perfect.  It becomes a challenge for students to reach and expand their knitting skills. We push our students to strive to be the best they can be while giving a helping hand all along the way.

 We encourage questions as we feel the only stupid question is the one that is never asked! If you feel you would like to give knitting a try, stop by our store and we can get you on the road to success. We have a full calendar of classes on knitting, crochet, spinning and even needle felting to carry you through the summer while you explore the fiber arts.

In case you have not heard about us, Alpaca Direct is a direct merchant of high quality yarn, socks, apparel and gifts. We carry a full line of fiber art accessories, including hundreds of needles and thousands of yarns. Our unique selection of products also includes Peruvian hand-loomed lace scarves, warm alpaca socks and cuddly alpaca teddy bears.

 Our building is handicap accessible, with ample parking and is easy to find.  We are located on Hayden Avenue, just two blocks west of Hwy 95 at 1016 W Hayden Ave. in Hayden.

Our store is open 10am – 6pm Monday through Friday, and 10am – 3pm Saturday. Visit us at 1016 W. Hayden Avenue or online at www.AlpacaDirect.com – your local destination for luxury yarn, socks, apparel & gifts. “Like” us on Facebook and Yelp for exclusive coupons, product spotlights & news!

Picot Edge Slouch Hat With Malabrigo Rios Yarn


Hello fellow yarn lovers. Today I’m sharing with you my latest favorite hat with a free pattern Plymouth Yarn’s Royal Llama Silk Hat by Jan Wise.

It can also be found on Ravelry.

I knit my hat with one skein of Malabrigo Rios, approx. 200 yds, on size 6 & 8 16″ circulars, and size 8 dbl points at the end.

I made a couple of adjustments in the pattern.  First off, Round 5 she calls it the turning round. What she means is this is the round you will fold up to create that lovely picot edge. The pattern calls for you to keep a very long tail to use later to stitch the hem up to create this picot edge. I find it easier to follow the pattern to Round 9.   At Round 9, fold the beginning edge, picking up one edge stitch along with the stitch on your needle, knitting these two stitches together, repeating around the hat. No need for that long tail and more finish work at the end of your project!


You can see in the pictures above that the picot edge is not there! But just fold the cast on edge up to meet the 9th round and knit 1 st from the edge and 1 st from the needle tog and you’re set!




Voila!!!  A beautiful picot edge!

Secondly, the hat sizes are listed as 19.55 / 20 inches. This just creates all kinds of questions in my head. Suffice to say I have a 23″ head. The 20″ size is plenty big enough for my head and not in the least bit tight.

I hope you will give this hat a try. It is simple, very pretty, and adapted well to my Malabrigo Rios yarn :)

Happy Knitting!  Maria

Twin Sweaters and Booties with Madelinetosh Yarn

My daughter lives with a wonderful family in Boise who is expecting twin baby boys. I will be flying out next week to see her and wanted to knit something special for the twins.  I dug through my stash and found one skein of blue and one skein in off white from Madelintosh. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Madelinetosh DK which is machine washable merino and is a dream to knit with.  What could I make at lightening speed?  I found the pattern called “Felipe” written by Joji Locatelli on Ravelry. It is a nice little vest type pattern that I could use and make hats and booties to match.

Twin sweaters on ciruclars

Twin sweaters on ciruclars

To finish in time for their arrival I made two sets of booties at a time on circulars, made twoFelipe sweater patterns at a time on circulars and completed the set by making two baby hats (complete with their names) at a time.

Matching Felipe Sweaters

Matching Felipe Sweaters with Madelintosh yarn


Finished sweaters and booties

Finished sweaters and booties

I started this project on Monday and will complete the hats and “Yes” the whole set for two by tonight. O.K… so now I’m almost done with my baby gift and get to resume my sock knitting after tonight.

Happy knitting….Kelley

super stretchy bindoff

Get Some Stretch With Our Super Stretchy Picot Cast On!

Today’s post is a wonderful cast on that looks similar to the Picot Cast on, but extremely stretchy! This cast on uses a double strand of yarn making it very sturdy too, and perfect for items that will get lots of wear. We love this cast on for socks and mittens, but you could use it on anything where you’d like a  beautiful and stretchy edging.

AD stretchy picot cast on

Stretchy picot cast on for socks and mittens by Alpaca Direct

Step 1: Measure out a tail that is twice the length you would need for a longtail cast on. Fold this in half and make a slip knot where the two strands come together. Be sure to leave a shot tail for weaving in later. AD stretchy picot cast on

Step 2: Place the slipknot on your needle. Hold the yarn in the slingshot position, with the single strand–the one connected to your ball of yarn–going over the index finger and the double strand tail around your thumb. Wrap the double strand counterclockwise twice around your thumb.

AD stretchy picot cast on


Step 3: Reach the needle behind the single strand of yarn (the one on your index finger), as if making a yarn over.

AD stretchy picot cast onStep 4: Insert the needle tip up under the two doubled tails on the thumb.

AD stretchy picot cast on

Step 5: Reach over the top of the single strand as you did in Step 3.

AD stretchy picot cast on

Step 6: Pull the loop through.

AD stretchy picot cast on

Step 7: Drop the earn from your thumb and pull on the ends so that stitches are snug on the needle.

AD stretchy picot cast on

You have just cast on 2 stitches! Repeat Steps 3-7.

AD stretchy picot cast on

Working the First Row
After completing your cast on you’ll notice that your first stitch (the slip knot) is a double strand. Depending on whether you need an even number of stitches or an odd number of stitches you’ll work this double stranded first stitch differently.

AD stretchy picot cast on

Purl all the stitches with bumps on them.

AD stretchy picot cast on

Knit all the stitches without bumps.

AD stretchy picot cast on

Alternate knit and purl stitches until you come to your last stitch.

AD stretchy picot cast on

If you need an odd number of stitches you’ll purl the two strands together.

AD stretchy picot cast on

If you need an even number of stitches you will p1, k1.

AD stretchy picot cast on

AD stretchy picot cast on

We hope you’ll give the Super Stretchy Picot Cast On a try! We’d love to hear how you’ve used it, and see your project photos, so please add your comments!

This cast on can also be used for a stretchy edging on stockinette and k2, p2 ribbing.

SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock Yarn Product Review

Lacery Socks from SweetGeorgia yarns

Lacery Socks with SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock Yarn

Tough Love Sock Yarn from SweetGeorgia is a new yarn in our shop that we have picked up at Alpaca Direct.   I like to sample the yarns before the yarn arrives to the store and warehouse so that I better understand the characteristics of each yarn.  I am very impressed with Tough Love Sock.  This yarn feels like it contains silk even though it is a blend of 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon.   The colors are absolutely vivid as you can see from the photo. The yarn has a spring to it so it’s easy on your hands.  The result is you get a gorgeous sock with a ultra-high quality merino along with stretch and durability from the nylon.

The sock pattern I chose is called “Lacery” a free download from Michelle Hunter’s website.  I love her patterns as they are always written clearly due to her 30+ years of teaching.  If you get stuck, there are videos to teach each skill used to knit the patterns. This is a great resource for our customer and students in our classes.   I will rate this project with a definite A+++  rating as the yarn is lovely and does not split.   Give this a try and I think you’ll love the result!

It All Started with a Scarf

I have an addiction. I’ve hinted at in another post, but I’ll just admit, I can’t say no to Malabrigo yarn. It’s soft and squishy and the colorways are amazing.

This project started as a one skein scarf I knitted last summer. All the family was over for the Fourth of July, kids swimming, family visiting…I was knitting :-) Just a little scarf called “Feliz Navidad”knit from Malabrigo Rios

Feliz Navidad Scarf knit from Malabrigo Rios

Feliz Navidad Scarf knit from Malabrigo Rios


My mom noticed my knitting. “That’s pretty. Did you  spin it?” was the innocent beginning to a conversation that ended with “Sure, I can knit you a sweater.”

The Malabrigo addiction must be catching, because she wanted the Arco Iris colorway. We searched Ravelry for a pattern she liked and settled on “Water and Stone” by Vera Valimaki. It’s a sport weight pattern, so happily most the Malabrigo colors are repeated in all their yarn lines, and I was able to order it in Arroyo. Then I waited. And waited…because as with many hand made things, Malabrigo can take a while to be finished. But good things come to those who wait, right?

Finally in late November the yarn arrived and I cast on. It’s still a work in progress-

Sweater knit from Malabrigo Rios

Sweater knit from Malabrigo Rios

Sweater knit from Malabrigo Rios

Sweater knit from Malabrigo Rios


Should I rabbit trail on how much I like the addi Turbo Lace needles? I’ll save that for another post. Because I also love Chiagoo and Kollage needles and this is a post about Malabrigo.

Earlier this week, this arrived in the warehouse:

Malabrigo Nube Persia

Malabrigo Nube Persia


It’s soft and stunning roving dyed by Malabrigo. This colorway- “Persia” is going with me this weekend to spindle spin.

Is there a support group for Malabrigo addicts? I belong to Malabrigo Junkies on Ravelry . It’s not really helping :-)

Two ways to reinforce your hand knit socks after knitting

Reinforce Your Knitted Socks!

After spending all that time on knitting beautiful socks for yourself and your loved ones it’s worth your time to put a little effort into reinforcing your socks! Reinforcing the parts of your socks that get the most wear will help prevent holes from forming and make your socks last longer.

One great way to reinforce the toes and heels of your socks is to carry a strand of darning thread along with your sock yarn as you knit those sections of the sock. But what if you don’t like to knit with two strands at once, or forgot? Not to worry! In today’s blog post we have two ways to reinforce your socks after the fact.

reinforcing your hand knit  socks For both methods we’ll be using darning thread to reinforce our knit fabric. If you’d like your reinforcement less conspicuous use a thread that matches your yarn, or you can even use a strand of the sock yarn you used to knit your sock. For both methods we’ll also be placing the thread on the wrong side of the knitting, so that if done with a matching thread it’ll be nearly invisible from the right side of your work.

Option 1: Weaving in yarn on the wrong side

Step 1: Thread your needle with your darning thread or piece of yarn from your sock. Turn your work so that the wrong side is facing out. In this example we’ve already worked a few columns of reinforcement.

reinforcing your hand knit  socks

Step 2: With the threaded needle pick up every other bump along the portion where you’d like to reinforce your knitting. reinforcing your hand knit  socks Thread the needle through every other bump throughout your desired section of fabric.
reinforcing your hand knit  socks Step 3: Pull the yarn through. reinforcing your hand knit  socks Step 4: In the next column work every other stitch as before, but staggering so that the bumps you are working through don’t line up. If you worked bumps 1, 3, 5, 7… in column 1, then in column 2 you will pick up bumps 2, 4, 6, 8… DSC_0164Continue repeating until you’re entire heal/toe/section has been reinforced.

reinforcing your hand knit  socks Snip your ends, turn you rework right side out, and admire your work!
reinforcing your hand knit  socks


Option 2: Duplicate Stitch On the Wrong Side

We talked a little bit about duplicate stitch in this post in reference to fixing split stitches. This is another great application for duplicate stitch! In the weaving method above we worked the reinforcement vertically in columns on the backside of the knitting, with this method we’ll be working in rows horizontally along the backside of the knitting.

Just like working duplicate stitch on the right side of your knitting you’ll want to trace the line of the stitches with your darning thread.

Step 1: Thread your needle through the purl bump, or base of the stitch, and through the bump below and to the right.
reinforcing your hand knit  socks

Step 2: Next trace the stitch along the curve and thread your needle through the bump on the left of your first bump, and then back through to the bump where you started.
reinforcing your hand knit  socks Continue tracing the stitches with your yarn, working across the row. In the illustration below the blue yarn illustrates where the darning thread goes to duplicate the stitches. Repeat with the following rows in the same manner until you’ve worked duplicate stitch along your entire section.

duplicate stitch drawing

reinforcing your hand knit  socks As you can see it’s nearly invisible from the front side. reinforcing your hand knit  socks

Which one should I use? 
The weaving method is great for wool yarns that will felt into the fabric. The duplicate stitch method is best for plant based yarns, since this is a much more stable and plant yarns don’t have the teeth and gripping power of animal fibers.

Have fun knitting your socks.  If you are looking for a nice technique to graft the toe of your sock, be sure to read our recent blog post on this!

Alpaca Direct Ambassadors

Stitches West Yarn Show – Day 1 Quick Recap

The first day at Stitches was a whirlwind of energy and excitement.   Kristin said she felt like a little kid at Disneyland with all the yarn, fiber and fiber arts enthusiasts.  The show was really, really busy.  In fact Jody and our crew had to park 4 blocks away and make the hike back to the convention center.  Kristin is due in a couple of weeks but she’s a trooper and made the hike along with the rest of us.

Lot’s of folks noticed the Alpaca Direct ambassador shirts and wanted to participate in the photo contest we set up on our Facebook page.

Kristin and Cherie

Kristin and Cherie

Kristin  and Sarah at Stitches West

Kristin our “Double Knitter”! with Sarah at Stitches West


Tons of great yarn and fiber for everyone!  This yarn from Apple Tree knits was almost edible!

Hand dyed yarn

We finished out the date with a little rest and then Kristin won a door prize on the way home!

Kristin Won a door prize at Stitches

Kristin won a door prize at Stitches

A great day….tons of yarn and passion for fiber!!