Alpaca Yarn Company is owned and operated by Beth Lutz. She is a lifelong knitter with an eye for high quality yarns. She owned an LYS before taking over the Alpaca Yarn Company. As an alpaca owner, alpacas are her favorite fiber producing animal (a sentiment we at Alpaca Direct can totally get behind).
Alpaca is lustrous and soft – rivaling cashmere in softness, but beating it out of the water on price. It is also strong and one of the best fibers for temperature regulation.
Classic Alpaca Tweed – This yarn is a luscious 85/15 alpaca/nylon blend. It is a light worsted yarn with 110 yards per 50 gram hank. It features natural colored flecks, giving it the distinctive donegal tweed look. It is great for everything from sweaters to accessories. Though, given alpaca’s tendency to grow, we recommend seamed sweaters over seamless ones. (For more on that subject, check out our post about the two sweater construction options.)
Halo Watercolors – This yarn comes in beautiful handpainted colorways. It is a 78/22 blend of brushed Suri alpaca and nylon. The brushed Suri alpaca is what gives this yarn its mohair-like halo, without the itch of mohair. It is a laceweight yarn that comes in 50 gram hanks of 257 yards. This yarn makes beautiful scarves, shawls, and cowls.
Come in to check out the new yarns in person, or throw a hand or two in your cart on the website and give these lovely yarns a try!
We’re gearing up to start our Team Scoreboard KAL sponsored by Skacel. This KAL uses a great yarn called ‘Simplicity‘ that is very wearable and machine washable! The KAL is fun because you get to create a unique “Knitted Record” of the scores for your favorite team in a scarf that tells the story of their season! Each scarf has at least 2 colors. Every time your team scores you knit the number of rows for points your team gets. If the opposing team scores, you knit rows for their points. When the game is over you knit a purl row to call it wrap and begin again on the next game!
Be sure to pick your colors and order up your yarn so you can participate and share in the fun this football season! We’ll posting photos along the way and having fun knitting while we support our favorite teams!
Author, Teacher, and Designer Michelle “Knit Purl” Hunter is once again teaming up with skacel to create the most highly anticipated knit-along of 2015!
Slated to kick off with the beginning of the football season, the 2015 Scoreboard KAL will allow fans to capture their favorite team’s season in the form of a hand-knit SCOREBOARD cowl!
THE SCORECARD KAL PATTERN WILL BE AVAILABLE ON SEPTEMBER 3, 2015!
Let’s show some team spirit and…may your favorite team win!
Here’s the college colors by number:
and here’s the Professional Team colors by number:
By now, your knitting is probably languishing in a basket by the couch or stuffed in your knitting bag while you host barbecues or hang out at the lake. Thinking about wool when it’s 100 degrees outside is enough to make you break out in heat rash.
But what if you want to knit? Your hands (and your brain) are bored without something to occupy them?
Here are 5 things to knit in the summer:
No, you probably don’t need a hat right now. But this is North Idaho. It will be cold enough for hats again in like two months or less. That’s eight weeks or 60 days. Hats are portable, great stash busters, and can be knit out of pretty much any fiber and weight imaginable. Most importantly, they don’t take up room on your lap.
2. Mittens/Gloves/Fingerless Mitts
Nope, you don’t need these either. Unless you work in an office where they keep the air conditioning set to the approximate temperature of a meat locker. In which case, a nice pair of fingerless mitts might just keep the circulation going in your hands enough for you to do your work. Also, these are small, portable, and won’t make you sweat while you’re working on them (unless you’re working on them outside when it’s 100 degrees. But that’s the sun making you sweat, not your knitting.)
Scarves are too long. I don’t have the patience and follow through necessary for scarves to be part of my knitting list anymore. Cowls, though, can be knit on straights or circulars. They’re quick and easy and useful once it’s cold again (see #1. It will get cold again, never fear.) You can make plain stockinette workaday ones, pretty lacey ones, or ones covered in cables. A cowl is a blank canvas of self expression! Knit a couple now and you’ll have choices to coordinate with your outfits when the time comes.
Want to knit a sweater in the summer? Knit a baby sweater. Baby hats can be done in a couple hours. Booties? They’re tiny and cute and the definition of instant gratification for a knitting project. Soft toys for babies are also great. Put some beans in an old Easter egg and insert it into a knitted ball and you’ve got yourself a soft sided rattle for your favorite infant. Baby things are great summer knitting projects. They can be as simple or complex as you like, they’re small enough to complete quickly, and they won’t weigh you down when you’re taking your knitting on vacation.
I love knitting socks. I nearly always have a pair of socks on the needles. It’s my go-to project when I don’t know what else to knit. The thin yarn and the small size make socks perfect for summer knitting. They won’t make your hands as sweaty as a thicker yarn can, and if you knit socks all summer, your feet will be happy come winter.
2 things not to knit in the summer
1. Sweaters and 2. Afghans
I’m just going to address these together, because the reason is the same. These things will only make you hot in the summer. As you go, your knitting gets bigger, and where do you hold your knitting?
That’s right, in your lap. So your sweater and your afghan both become lap blankets while you’re knitting them. Who wants a wool lap blanket when it’s 100 degrees outside?
Do you knit in the summer? What do you like to knit? Let us know in the comments!
Palouse Yarn Company is a fairly recent addition at Alpaca Direct. These yarns are squishably soft and come in rich jewel tone colors. My personal color palette is made up largely of jewel tones and dark, rich colors. The rich tonal colors fit perfectly in my stash.
One of the other things I love about Palouse Yarn Company is that they’re quite local. The other features we’ve done this month are small companies based in Canada and Uruguay. Palouse Yarns is based in Moscow, Idaho and headquartered at The Yarn Underground there. I enjoy being able to support local companies, and I always feel a sense of connection to them even if I’ve never met the owners in person.
Palouse Yarn Company is owned and run by Shelley Stone. She’s been a knitter practically her whole life (she says she was taught to knit as a child to keep her occupied during the long winters in Maine so she wouldn’t drive everyone crazy). More recently she took up dyeing as a side project that has now expanded to become Palouse Yarn Company, producing the wonderful yarns we get to play with and enjoy today.
All Palouse Yarns are hand dyed in small batches in Shelley’s backyard studio. She loves getting to recreate the colors that inspire her with her own fibery pursuits.
Merino Fine is a fingering weight single ply yarn. It is made from 100% Superwash Merino wool. It comes in four ounce hanks of 475 yards. This yarn makes beautiful lightweight accessories and baby items. It will beautifully display both open, lacey patterns and cables.
Merino Lace is a lace weight single ply yarn made from 100% Superwash Merino wool. It is an even finer version of Merino Fine. It comes in four ounce hanks of 825 yards. It is perfect for creating heirloom lace pieces as well as everyday scarves, shawls, and stoles.
Cashmere Squeeze is a sport weight yarn made of 75% Superwash Merino, 15% Cashmere, and 10% Silk. It comes in four ounce hanks of 400 yards. This lovely soft yarn makes beautiful lightweight garments and accessories. The softness combined with its superwash content make it a good choice for heirloom quality baby items that can also be used.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this series of posts featuring our independent dyers for our Independent’s Celebration. We’ll be featuring more of our independents throughout the year. We know how much love and care the creators of these yarns put into their work. We love to support them and hope you do, too!
I first discovered Malabrigo several years ago, before Alpaca Direct opened here. I was still pretty new to quality wools and luxury yarns at the time, having spent most of my knitting life getting cheap acrylic from big box stores. By this time there was one local yarn store (LYS) in the area, and a new one was opening. My mom (who is also a knitter) and I went to check it out. Now, as I’m sure you know, when visiting an LYS you must go around and pet all the yarns that strike your fancy.
We came upon a stack of what would turn out to be Malabrigo Lace. I instantly fell in love. I think it was the softest yarn I had ever touched up to then, and it’s still in the top five. The softness combined with the rich colors keep it in my list of favorite yarns.
My mom bought a hank and knitted me an Estonian lace scarf with it for Christmas. I still wear that scarf all these years later.
Malabrigo is a family owned company based in Uruguay. They started in a kitchen in 2005 with small batches of hand dyed yarns. They slowly grew and now distribute their yarns worldwide. They have added new yarn lines to their original Malabrigo Merino Worsted and Malabrigo Lace over the years, and long ago outgrew their first kitchen workshop.
They have maintained their commitment to producing one of a kind colorways and high quality hand dyed yarns. Their commitment extends to using local (to them) wool producers, and all of their yarns are made with wool from Uruguayan farms who allow their sheep to range freely and care for them in humane ways. For their yarns that use other fibers, they source their silk and alpaca from farms that show the same commitment to their animals and the environment as the Uruguayan sheep farms.
Their environmental commitment extends beyond their yarn sources to their manufacturing. Their superwash process now meets Oeko-Tex standards, which means the yarns are free from harmful agents like formaldehyde, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals. Since I often recommend Malabrigo yarns for baby things, knowing this makes them an even better choice in my opinion. They also use solar energy to heat the water used in their dyeing process.
Malabrigo Rios is a worsted weight superwash yarn. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 210 yards. It is a 4-ply yarn, making it great for sweaters, hats, scarves, and baby things.
Malabrigo Arroyo is a sport weight superwash yarn. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 335 yards. Like Rios, it is a 4-ply yarn, so it is great for lighter weight garments and accessories.
Malabrigo Chunky is a bulky weight yarn. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 104 yards. The bulky weight makes it great for quick knits and warm, thick sweaters, scarves, and hats.
Malabrigo Finito is a fingering weight yarn. It comes in 50 gram hanks of 200 yards, with five hanks per dye lot. It is a plied yarn suitable for fine gauge garments and accessories.
Malabrigo Lace is a lace weight yarn made from super soft baby Merino. It comes in 50 gram hanks of 470 yards. It is a single ply and makes beautiful lace scarves, stoles, and shawls.
Malabrigo Merino Worsted is a worsted weight yarn of super soft Merino. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 205 yards. It is a single, and is great for accessories that don’t see hard wear.
Malabrigo Rasta is a super bulky yarn. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 90 yards. It is a soft, slightly felted single ply, making it great for quick knits and accessories.
Malabrigo Silkpaca is a lace weight yarn spun from a 70/30 alpaca/silk blend. It comes in 50 gram hanks of 420 yards. It makes beautiful lace shawls, scarves, and stoles.
Malabrigo Silky Merino is a DK weight yarn spun from a 50/50 silk/baby Merino blend. It is a single ply that comes in 50 gram hanks of 150 yards. It is great for lightweight but warm accessories.
Malabrigo Sock is a fingering weight yarn made from 100% superwash Merino. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 440 yards. It is great for socks as well as other lightweight garments, accessories, and baby things.
Malabrigo Twist is an Aran weight yarn made from 100% Merino wool. It comes in 100 gram hanks of 150 yards. It is a plied yarn, making it great for sweaters, hats, and other accessories.
All Malabrigo yarns (except Silkpaca) feature the same super soft Merino wool for which Malabrigo is known. All yarns come in the full spectrum of colorways offered by Malabrigo. They are hand dyed in small batches of rich jewel tones and one of a kind colorways.
In addition to the lines of Malabrigo yarns, we also carry Malabrigo Nube, Malabrigo’s line of spinning fiber. Using the same super soft Merino as the yarns, these braids are hand dyed in the same colorways, too. Hand spinners will enjoy the rich colors as well as the soft Merino wool while creating their own unique yarns.
All Malabrigo yarns are on sale July 24 – July 30.
Since the shop got reorganized a few weeks ago, the SweetGeorgia Yarns display has been calling my name. The jewel tone colors always catch my eye first. And their hanks of sock yarn are big and squooshy, drawing me in and inviting petting.
So far none of them have jumped in my bag and come home with me. With two little kids at home, I don’t get a lot of knitting done and I have a sizable stash, including lots of sock yarn. But they look so pretty and feel so nice, I’m not sure my resistance will be able to last much longer. Especially since sock yarn doesn’t count as stash. (Remember? We talked about that earlier this year.)
SweetGeorgia Yarns is a Vancouver based company that Felicia Lo started in 2005. It began life as an Etsy shop with three hanks of yarn. Over the course of the next year, Felicia expanded SweetGeorgia Yarns, and began distributing in shops and online to knitters worldwide.
They produce a wide variety of hand dyed yarns and fibers in unique colorways and rich solids. Their yarns and fibers are dyed in batches of four to twelve hanks. They focus on using luxury fibers, including merino, cashmere, and silk, and creating colors that inspire and engage knitters and spinners.
Merino Silk Lace is a 50/50 blend of merino and silk. This is a is a slightly heavier lace weight 2 ply yarn. The silk adds a shimmer to the finished yarn that will make your lace projects extra special. If you’re wanting to knit a beautiful lace shawl or stole to dress up your wardrobe, this is the perfect yarn for the project. It comes in big 100 gram hanks of 765 yards.
Tough Love Sock is an 80/20 superwash merino nylon blend. This yarn is soft and squooshy. Knit at a tight gauge, it makes long lasting socks. But, like all sock yarns, you can use it for a wide variety of other projects. Soft enough for next to skin wear, you can use it for shawls and scarves, mittens and gloves, and even things for a baby. The superwash merino means it can be machine washed, which is ideal for socks and baby things. It comes in big 115 gram hanks of 425 yards, meaning you only need one hank for a pair of socks. If you have small feet or knit ankle socks you might even be able to get two pairs. Or you could knit a pair of socks and a pair of fingerless mitts. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
All SweetGeorgia Yarns are on sale July 17 – July 23.
Check back next week to see our next featured independent – Malabrigo!
This month we’re celebrating our independent yarn companies as part of our Independent’s Celebration in honor of Independence Day. We love getting to support independent companies and enjoy the beautiful yarns they produce!
If you haven’t seen their yarns in person, you need to. Their yarns are soft and beautiful with gorgeous colors. The care they take with their dying is evident in every skein. When I’m in the shop, I like to just go drool over the Zen Yarn Garden displays. It’s the perfect yarn for petting and drooling over. Don’t worry, though. I’m careful not to get any drool on the yarn.
Zen Yarn Garden is a small company based out of Ontario, Canada. It is owned and run by Neville and Roxanne Yeun. They dye hand picked luxury yarn bases that are spun in Canada.
Neville is the Lead Dyer, Production Manager, and Color Chemist. He’s the one to thank for the wonderful depth of color, consistency, and variety in the Zen Yarn Garden lines. He is in charge of the process that creates the beautiful tonal solids and the playful one-of-a-kind colorways.
Roxanne is the Creative Director. She directs the growth of the company and keeps her finger on the pulse of the trends in the marketplace. She is always on the lookout for new products and design collaborations to keep their customers happy and interested.
Serenity 20 is a fingering weight yarn made of 70% superwash merino and 30% cashmere. This luxury yarn is great for socks, scarves, lightweight sweaters, or any next-to-skin project. The beautiful colorways and rich tonal solids will provide hours of joy on the needles and off.
Serenity Glitter Sock is a fingering weight yarn made of 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% metallic nylon. It features the same depth of color as Serenity 20 in its own range of distinct colorways. The metallic nylon adds a hint of sparkle that beautifully complements the natural sheen of the yarn.
You’ve seen beautiful handspun yarns. You’ve lusted after the staggering variety of fibers and colors available to spinners. You’ve gone to a local spin in or fiber fest and drooled over the fibers, longing to join in with the other spinners.
But, you ask, isn’t spinning expensive? Spinning wheels are big and cost a lot of money. Your house is already overrun by yarn. How can you justify adding spinning to your list of fiber obsessions…I mean, hobbies?
You know you want to, though. You just can’t help yourself.
The good news is that spinning doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby to start. A few ounces of top and a drop spindle are all you need, along with someone to show you how to do it.
Top 6 Reasons to Start Spinning On A Drop Spindle
Easy way to start spinning. A spindle is essentially just a circular weight on a stick. To start spinning, all you need is fiber, and a way to insert twist into the fiber. A spindle is a very simple tool for doing just that. You spin the spindle with your hand, and it inserts twist into the fiber connected to it. There’s very little to it, and that allows you to focus on getting good at drafting the fiber, rather than concerning yourself with tension and treadling and orofices and bobbins.
Easy to control. Because a spindle is a tool, rather than a machine, it is easy to control how much twist is inserted into the fiber. It’s quick and easy to start and stop. A spinning wheel is a machine. There’s more interference between you and the fiber when you use a machine (even a non-electric one), and more things that can break.
Low cost investment to start. Spindles can be really inexpensive and still high quality. You can get a good spindle for around $20 or a kit complete with fiber for $40. It is certainly possible to spend a lot more money on spindles and fiber, but the point is that you don’t have to do that at any point in your spinning career. You can get a spindle and spin the fluff from your aspirin bottle and be happy. Probably you’ll want something nicer to spin, though.
Portable. Spindle spinning is extremely portable. In some ways its even more portable than knitting. It’s easy to stuff a wad of fiber and your spindle in your bag to take with you. To keep it organized, you can keep it all in a Ziplock or splurge on something a little more fancy. But, you don’t need as many notions or accessories as you do with knitting, and it’s much more difficult to lose a spindle than a knitting needle or crochet hook.
You get to play with a greater variety of fibers. If you knit or crochet, you’ve probably used wool, alpaca, cotton, and maybe another luxury fiber or two like silk or cashmere. As a spinner, you get Corriedale, Polwarth, Merino, Bluefaced Leicester (BFL), Targhee, Shetland, Icelandic, Coopworth, and Babydoll Southdown. And those are just the wool varieties I’ve pulled off the top of my head. You also get to choose from Suri or Hucaya alpaca and luxury blends with things like baby camel and cashmere. There’s milk fiber, corn fiber, bamboo viscose, Angelina fiber to add sparkle, and silk. The possibilities are mind boggling.
You get to make your own yarn. Probably the best reason to start spinning is that you get to make your own yarn. Imagine how cool it will feel when someone compliments your hat or fingerless mitts or sweater, and you can tell them that you knit it from yarn you spun yourself. Plus, you’ll be invaluable in a zombie apocalypse.
Ready to start spinning? Our next Beginning Spinning class is July 20, 1:00-3:00 pm. Call the store to sign up and reserve your spot!
Already a spinner and want to make more spinning friends? Come to our Open Spinning group the second Friday of every month at noon.
Do you spin? Do you want to spin? Tell us about your spinning in the comments!
This summer we’ll be hosting several knit alongs and crochet alongs in the shop. These are fun group classes that are free to join! All you have to buy is your yarn.
If you’re not local, you can participate virtually as well. We’ll be posting pictures of everyone’s creations as they are finished and submitted. I’ll start a thread in our Ravelry group where everyone can post their finished projects for the various knit alongs throughout the summer.
The Angel Wings Pinafore is a sweet little dress for the new little girl in your life. The pattern comes in newborn and 3 month sizes, and is an intermediate pattern. It’s a great pattern for both the experienced crocheter and the confident beginner who is ready to expand their skills. Baby things are great for first garments, because they’re small and much quicker than making a full sized adult sweater. If you don’t know anyone having a little girl right now, you can always make it and save it as a gift for someone in the future.
May Knit Along
We’ll also be working on Bishi. It’s a quick knit, and would be a great first project for knitting in the round. It’s useful for anyone who likes to carry a water bottle, but without the bulk of carrying a bag or purse. The Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton is a great choice for the water bottle holder, too, because of cotton’s low elasticity.
These are just the first two in our summer of knit and crochet alongs. We hope you’ll join us in some fun projects. They’re small and won’t make you too hot during the summer months.
We have an active knitting group in our shop that meets on Tuesday evenings and Thursday afternoons. We always like when people get to show off the things we’ve seen them working on. Here are a few recent finished projects from our group!
Want to have your finished project featured on the blog? Email email@example.com with pictures, the details of your project, who you are, and where you’re from. We want our blog to feel like a virtual extension of our in shop knitting groups. Even if you’re not local, feel free to submit your work, especially if it’s made from yarn or fiber from Alpaca Direct!
We look forward to seeing what you’ve been working on!
It’s easy to understand why. The sweater is knit in the round in one piece. When you’re finished knitting, all you have to do is weave in your ends and hey presto! You’re all done! No seaming pieces together. No attempts at precision blocking to match the size of the pieces. No extra ends from the seaming process. And you can try it on as you go.
Who wouldn’t love that?
I’ve knitted a few top down seamless sweaters, and it is pretty nice to have a sweater practically finished once it’s off the needles. It’s the ultimate in sweater knitting for the knitter in need of instant gratification. Some knitters now refuse to knit a sweater any other way.
That’s fine, of course. There are no knitting police. You can knit your sweaters however you like. But, the top down seamless sweater isn’t without its flaws.
Raglan sleeves aren’t flattering on everyone. Women with a larger bust size tend to end up with lots of extra fabric around the underarms. And sometimes you just want a different line to your garment.
Knitting the sleeves is annoying. They’re knitted in the round after the body is finished. So, you have to flip the entire sweater around when you first start the sleeves at the end of every round. As you get further down you can let the sleeve twist and untwist it at the end of every round. But that’s kind of annoying, too.
It’s not very portable by the end (unless it’s for a baby). A sweater for a full grown adult can get unwieldy by the time you get to the sleeves. Not that it’s absolutely not portable, but if you’re like me and you take knitting with you to pass the time if you get bored, you’ll need another small project for those situations.
Seamed sweaters do have some distinct disadvantages as well.
You do have to make your pieces match, so blocking and accurate measuring are really important.
You have to sew the pieces together when you’re done knitting before you can wear the sweater.
You’ll have more ends to weave in, because you’ll have the ends from all the pieces plus the ends from the sewing.
I’ll admit that sewing pieces together isn’t necessarily my favorite thing to do. I have to be particularly motivated to do it, which means I have to really like the sweater in question. But, there are several points that recommend the seamed sweater, despite having to do more finishing work.
A seamed sweater has more structure. Seamless sweaters can grow more easily, which can be problematic with slippery fibers like cotton, alpaca, and superwash wool. The seams provide limits and structure that help the sweater not to expand as much or as easily.
It’s more portable. You can easily take a piece of a sweater with you, when taking a whole sweater would be unwieldy.
You have more choices for design elements. You can easily do all the shoulder styles as well as a wider variety of choices in construction elements.
It’s easier to block lacy sweaters in pieces than as one large item.
Of course, there are a couple other ways of knitting a sweater: side to side and bottom up seamless (with or without steeks) are other ways I’ve encountered. Personally, I’m not married to any one style. I’ve done all of them except for using steeks (I’m too chicken to take scissors to my knitting). If I like the pattern, I’ll knit it regardless of how its constructed.
What about you? Do you have a preference? Do you hate seaming sweaters? Let us know in the comments!