Hey- Socks are halfway there!

We’ve been knitting along on our socks for three weeks now and we’ve already had some pairs finished!

Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store

Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store

Courtney is done! Speed Knitter!!

 

 

 

 

Tina, Store Manager

Tina, Store Manager

Both heels just finished!

Both heels just finished!

Tina’s update is: “Two heels just barely done through the short row phase. Will set up socks for knitting in the round next. I used the Fish Lips Kiss heel pattern as I find I have better success with the heel shaping. Used lifelines at beginning of heels……didn’t need them this time:) “

Melissa, Social Media

Melissa, Social Media

Ready to bind off!

Ready to bind off!

Melissa: “I’m ready  to cast off my first ever sock! Anyone have any tips on the cast off? I’m a pretty tight knitter so I think I’ll use a stretchy one to get the most comfortable fit.”

Kjirstine, Customer Service Manager

Kjirstine, Customer Service Manager

One Sock Done!

One Sock Done!

Kjirstine says: “I just cast off sock #1 last night, using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. It fits and looks great! Ready to cast on sock #2. I think the short row toe will come much easier the second time around!”

Kelley, Owner of Alpaca Direct

Kelley, Owner of Alpaca Direct

Socks completed with a picot bind off.

Socks completed with a picot bind off.

 

Kelley: “Finished my socks and will wear them to the fair!”

AD Sockalong Giveaway!

We’re nearing the end of the Sockalong, and we think it’s about time to host a giveaway here on the Alpaca Direct blog! This giveaway is open for everyone, whether or not you’re participating in the Sockalong.

You can still join the Sockalong in the Alpaca Direct Ravelry Group.

You can also catch up with all our previous blog posts:

July 23: Sock Knit-A-Long
July 30: Ready to Start Our First Knit-A-Long!
July 31: Working the Toe
August 6: Sock Progress Report
August 14: Adding Patterns to Your Socks

Blockers (1)

 

Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win Sock Blockers! These are used for blocking your socks after you’ve finished knitting them to help even out the stitches, shape the socks, and make sure they are nice and clean before their first wearing.

To enter leave a comment on this post telling us about your sock knitting experiences. Haven’t knit socks yet? Tell us what’s holding you back! Want to know more about knitting socks, and have a question for us? Is there a sock related topic you think we should do a tutorial on?

We’ll choose one lucky winner on Sunday, August 31. Good luck!

Note: You must be a US resident to enter.

AD Sockalong: Adding Patterns to Your Socks!

We’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone’s progress on their socks so far. We can’t believe it, but some people have already finished both socks! It’s not too late to join us–you can participate in the Alpaca Direct Ravelry Group. We’re knitting the Universal Toe-Up Sock Pattern Formula by Amy Swenson.

Today’s post is about adding a stitch pattern to your socks. We love basic sock recipes like this one because they give the knitter room to be creative. Rib patterns are great for socks because they provide lots of stretch. Besides your classic rib patterns we have three other ribbing patterns in today’s blog post.

You’ll work your stitch pattern on the top of the foot (which means just half of your stitches), and then after turning the heel the pattern can be worked on the leg (all of the stitches). When adding patterns it’s important to make sure that the number of stitches on your sock is compatible with the number of stitches required for your pattern. For example, if you’re working a k2, p2, ribbing you’d want a number that’s divisible by 4 .

Example:
Total number of stitches: 64, 64/4=16 –perfect!
Total Number of stitches: 70, 70/4=17.5–this isn’t going to work, as you’d end with either 4 knits or 4 purls. At this point you have you can increase two more stitches, work a k1, p1 rib that would work with any even number of stitches, or find another stitch pattern that’s compatible with the number of stitches for your sock.

Alpaca Direct stitch patterns for socks

 

For sock knitting we’ve written the directions for all of the patterns to be knit in the round. Broken Rib (Even number of stitches)
Round 1: *K1, p1*
Round 2: Knit

Cable Rib (Multiples of 4) This isn’t a real cable, but a mock cable that doesn’t require a cable needle.
Rounds 1-3: *P2, k2*
Round 4: *P2, k2tog but leave on the needle; then insert right-hand needle between the 2 stitches just knit together and knit the 1st stitch again; then slip both stitches from the needle together*

Waving Rib (Multiples of 6)
Rounds 1-4: *K4, p2*
Rounds 5-8: *K1, p2, k3*

We’d love to see your sock progress! Share photos in the Alpaca Direct Ravelry group, or leave us a comment on this post!

Sock Knit Along- Humming Right Along

We are all humming right along!

Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store

Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store

Courtney finished her socks!!!!

Courtney finished her socks!!!!

 

Courtney has already finished her pair of socks! She loves the fact that they are sized to fit her feet precisely and is planning to make another pair that incorporates a pattern design.

Tina, Store Manager

Tina, Store Manager

FOT4A62

 

Tina’s report for this week:

Had a slight mishap in my dragonfly pattern…..darn those yarn overs. Ended up carefully taking out 5 stitches down 4 rows, figured out the mistake and laddered up each stitch correctly with a crochet hook. Success! Can’t even tell which stitches I was working with. Around and around I go toward the heel…..”

Melissa, Social Media

Melissa, Social Media

Melisssa is changing to two circulars after working her first sock on DPNs.

Melissa is changing to two circulars after working her first sock on DPNs.

This is Melissa’s first pair of socks and she’s learning many new techniques.

“I completed one sock using 4 dpns and it was a royal pain. So…I bought 2 circular needles and some thicker yarn and started over working 2 socks on two circular needles . I got through the toes easily enough and now am working in the round, I am being careful to knit on/off the same needles, I am finding that as I go, one set of needles is facing the opposite direction on every other half…”

Any advice for her?

Kjirstine, Customer Service Manager

Kjirstine, Customer Service Manager

Worked the heel as written, now on to the cuff!

Worked the heel as written, now on to the cuff!

Kjirstine writes:

“This is my first attempt at a short row heel and I am pleased with how it came out. It was easy to do and fits nicely. I wasn’t sure how long to knit my cuff, but Tina suggested that it should be approximately as long as my foot. Sounds good to me! Anyone have a different “Rule of Cuff” that you use?”

We are having a lot of fun knitting these together and watching each other’s unique progress. Until next week!!

Sock Progress report

We’ve been knitting along on our socks for a week now. We have slow starters and speedy knitters. We have socks!!

Tina, Store Manager

Tina, Store Manager

Lacey Dragonfly

Lacey Dragonfly

 

Tina chose to work a pattern on her sock, and it is the lovely, lacy, Dragonfly Socks. Here’s her report:

Chose the Dragonfly Socks from Cavyshops.com. Pattern was written as top down, so inverted dragonfly pattern to work as toe up. Have about 1-1/2 to 2” before beginning heel. Here is where tiny feet would be a plus!”

Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store

Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store

Sock number two

Sock number two

 

Courtney is already on her second sock! This is what she’s shared with us.

When moving from short rows of toe and heel I needed to pick up stitches to avoid getting a hole. I just knit the picked up stitch together with another on the next row.”

 

Kjirstine, Customer Service Manager

Kjirstine, Customer Service Manager

Added a little cable!

Added a little cable!

 

Kjirstine is ready to start the heel.

“This is when having big feet is a disadvantage. I finally finished the 8.25″ for my foot and I am ready for the heel. I am incorporating the pattern Socks on a PlaneWhite socks seemed too boring, so a little cable twist gives me more to think about.”

 

Melissa, Social Media

Melissa, Social Media

Ready to cast on

Ready to cast on

 

Melissa is enjoying some time away with her family, but she plans to start soon.

She says “ I’m on vacation and then casting on.   Since I”m working worsted I think I”ll finish no problem during the KAL.”

Kelley, Owner of Alpaca Direct

Kelley, Owner of Alpaca Direct

Which heel to choose?

Which heel to choose?

 

Kelley is also ready to do her heel! Her update is:

 I am ready to turn my heels. I am not sure if I will do the short row heel or pick another heel from a different pattern. I decided to do a pattern on the top of my socks. It is a broken rib pattern which has a 2 stitch repeat + 1. Row 1 – knit across row. Row 2 – P1 K1, P1 across row.”

Hope you are knitting along with us and we’d love to see your progress on our Ravelry Thread or find us on Facebook and Pinterest.

spinzillaphotobomb

Spinzilla 2014

spinzilla banner

 

October will be here before you know it! We’re excited to be participating in the second annual Spinzilla week. Last year all the spinners combined to spin 1,373,175.06 yards of yarn. Our Alpaca Direct team spun more than 17,000 yards! All in one week!!!

Sign ups for participation start August 4, 2014  at 10 am Eastern time and continue until September 22, 2014. You can sign up here: Spinzilla registration

There is a $10 registration fee, paid to The National Needle Arts Association Spinning and Weaving Group. This fee is donated to the Needle Arts Mentoring Program (NAMP) which was founded in 2000 as a fiber arts program for at-risk students.

During the event, there will be prize drawings, specials offers and lots of fun. Find our team forums on the Spinzilla Ravlery page or you can find us also on the Friends of Alpaca Direct Spinzilla team thread. Please consider joining us for “A Monster of A Spinning Week”!! Spinzilla 2014!

 

short-row-toe

AD Sockalong: Working the Toe

Today is the official start of our first ever Knit-A-Long: the Alpaca Direct Sockalong! It’s not too late to join us! You can learn more about what a KAL is, how to participate, and our special yarn sales for the KAL here.

short-row-toe
We’ve heard from a few knitters in the Sockalong Thread on Ravelry that they are worried about the toe construction on the Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula so today we’ve taken some photos of a work in progress toe to show you just how easy it is!

The sock starts with a provisional cast on. Then short rows are worked to create one side of the toe. In this toe construction you actually knit back and forth, and then later join to knit in the round and work the foot of the sock.

DSC_0166Following the numbers according to your gauge and sock size as outlined in the pattern you’ll continue working short rows until your knitting is triangular in shape. It’ll start looking like the toe of a sock!

DSC_0171Once you’ve finished your first set of short rows you’ll start working the other side of the toe with double wrapped stitches.

DSC_0176You’ll keep double wrapping until you’ve completed the other side of the toe. At this point you’ll remove your provisional cast on and begin knitting in the round to work the foot of the sock.

DSC_0187

 

What are short rows?
A short row is just that–a row that’s short because not all of the stitches on the needle are worked. There are many different ways to work short rows, and the Wrap & Turn is a common technique. There is also the yarn over short row, make one short row, Japanese short rows, and German short rows.

Why the short row toe?
The short row toe is easier for some people who have never knit socks. You can also knit socks starting at the tip of the toe by casting on both the top and bottom of the toe at once using either Judy’s Magic Cast On or the Turkish Cast On, but these can be tricky the first time you do them.  It’s also a little awkward to work with so few stitches, fine yarn, and small needles. If you have knit socks before we encourage you to try the short row toe in this pattern anyways! It’s always great to learn new techniques and challenge yourself.

Can I work a different toe?
Of course! If you’d like to work a toe that begins at the tip of the toe you can cast on Ex2 stitches, with E stitches on one needle for the front and E stitches on another needle for the bottom, then increase until you have C stitches.

Alpaca Direct Sock Knitalong

Ready to start our first Knit Along!

We are so excited to be participating in our first Alpaca Direct Knit Along! I’d like to introduce a few of our staff who are knitting along with everyone else:

 

 

Kelley, Owner of Alpaca Direct

Kelley, Owner of Alpaca Direct

Kelley is planning to do her socks two at a time using the magic loop technique. Her gauge is 7.75 sts/inch on a #1 addi Turbo needle.

 

Tina, Store Manager

Tina, Store Manager

Tina is also doing her socks two at a time using the magic loop technique. She is using a #0 Kollage needle. Her gauge is 7.5sts/inch.

Kjirstine, Customer Service Manager

Kjirstine, Customer Service Manager

 

Kjirstine is using double pointed needles, Kollage #2.5 and her gauge is 7sts/inch.

 

Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store

Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store

 

Courtney is using the magic loop technique and a #0 needle. Her gauge is 7sts/inch.

Melissa, Social Media

Melissa, Social Media

Cascade Superwash 220

Cascade Superwash 220

Melissa plans to use a size 8 needle with a gauge of 4.5sts/inch

We’re knitters of all different levels and styles. It will be fun to see how each person puts a little of themselves in their project. We’re looking forward to knitting with you for the next few weeks. If you haven’t signed up yet, go to our Ravelry page and join the fun.

Kjirstine, for the Alpaca Direct staff

Alpaca Direct Sock Knitalong

Sock Knit-A-Long!

We’re excited to announce our first ever Alpaca Direct Knit-A-Long! We’ll be knitting the wonderful Universal Toe-Up Sock pattern by Amy Swenson, which is a free pattern from Knitty, Summer 2006. We’ve chosen this pattern because it is a great recipe for creating a well fitting sock for any size foot with any weight yarn and any size needle! So, join us for this adventure whether it’s your very first sock or your 407th sock we’re sure you’ll enjoy embarking on this adventure with us!

What’s a Knit-A-Long? 
It’s like an online knitting group! We’ll be helping each other as we work on our socks, share our projects and experience, and get to know each other! We’ll also be giving away prizes throughout the KAL, and there will be multiple chances to win yarn and needles!

How do I join? 
We’ll be posting blog posts here on the Alpaca Direct blog about our progress here at Alpaca Direct, answering questions and hosting chatter in the Alpaca Direct Ravelry group, and sharing photos on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. You can share your photos with us by using #ADsockalong

Which yarn and needles should I choose?
You should choose needles that are appropriate for your chosen yarn. Since this pattern is a recipe style you can choose anything from a fingering weight sock yarn to a worsted weight yarn. If you’d like your socks to be machine washable make sure you choose a superwash yarn. We’re so excited about this KAL that we’re having a huge sale! Here’s a list of our featured sale yarns just for this KAL:

(Note -We originally intended to provide a coupon for just these yarns but decided instead to discount them right on the website so no coupon is needed!)

Cascade Heritage Sock–A great option if you’d like to make fingering weight socks! One skein is enough for most sizes.
Cascade Heritage 150–A sport weight superwash sock yarn with nylon that will ensure your socks will hold their shape and last for years!
Cascade 220 Superwash–With 77 colors we’re sure there’s one you’ll love! This worsted weight is a great option for a heavier sock.
Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock–A hand dyed yarn that’s available in both solid and variegated colorways this yarn is extremely soft and a joy to knit with.
Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock–Another great hand dyed yarn for knitters who like colorful socks!

This pattern looks hard! Can I handle it? 
Yes! If this is your first pair of socks you might find it easier to work with a heavier weight yarn. We’ll be answering questions and helping each other in the Ravelry group, so we’re here to help if you get stuck! Join the fun and make a new group of online knitting friends!

Sounds great, sign me up! 
The KAL officially starts on Thursday, July 31 and runs through Aug 30. Now you can order your yarn and make your gauge swatch. Don’t forget to start a project page on Ravelry, and tell us about your yarn choice in the Ravelry group!

ADsockalong

20140416_123101

The Ranch to Alpaca Roving Journey

Each year we shear our alpacas and harvest their fiber to make into roving for our customers.  Our animals have been carefully chosen for their fiber quality, color and great personalities. As the summer heats up, it is important to remove the fiber so each alpaca can stay cool and comfortable.

Alpacas waiting to be shorn

Alpacas waiting to be shorn

During shearing we separate the fiber into 3 bags for each animal.  The blanket is the “1st” fiber, the neck and belly are “2nd’s” and the legs are “3rds” On our ranch, we process 1st and 2nds while using 3rds for felting and other craft projects. This means the softest, cleanest fibers are used to produce our rovings.

1-IMG00059-20090425-1020

The first step on the way to roving is called sorting where we inspect the each fleece, clean out debris  and properly classify the fiber with each animal.  We then skirt the fiber on  a skirting rack by laying each fiber on the rack and allowing hay and vegetation to fall through the rack.  We again inspect the fibers and bag and tag each skirted fiber based on the quality grade and name of the animal it came from.

Off To The Mill

We are fortunate to have a fiber processing mill just 15 minutes from our ranch and store. The mill is run by Karen Goodson of Fibers First and she is a long-time fiber enthusiast who does a great job turning our fleece into roving. Fibers First is a local, family run business here in Northern Idaho. Some of the machinery they are utilizing was manufactured at the turn of the 20th century!

Before the fiber can be fed into the machine it needs to be washed and dried to remove as much dirt and debris as possible. All the fiber is thoroughly cleaned, sometimes requiring two or more washes. Fibers First contracts with another local fiber producer to wash the fiber processed at the mill.

Once the fiber is dry it is run through the picking machine to agitate the fiber and remove more debris caught in the fibers.  It is then blown into a room where if forms a fluffy pile of alpaca with the extra debris settling on the ground below the picker.   The picker used at the mill is a Davis Furber and was made in 1940.

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Feeding raw fiber into the picker

 

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Fluffy Alpaca Fiber after going through the Picker

 

The clean fiber is then fed through a carder. The carder is a Davis Furber and is two machines hooked together.  The front half was made in 1919 and the back half was made 1911.  This is heavy duty machinery and Karen depends on her husband and son to keep this amazing system running smoothly. When parts occasionally fail Karen and her team need to fashion their own parts and repairs to keep the  machines running. This mill is a piece of living history!

 

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Combing the fiber

The pin drafter is a Warner and Swassey machine and is monitored closely while the fiber is fed through the process. The process is closely monitored by hand and each batch is kept separate in these barrels and tagged with the fiber type and animal’s name.

 

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Feeding the pin drafter machine

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Guiding roving as it comes out of the pin drafter

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Pin Drafted Roving Ready To Be Spun

Once the yarn is pin drafted, the mill can spin it into yarn.

 

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Spinning machine making yarn

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Spinning yarn onto a spindle

With our fleece we chose to stop the process at the roving stage to allow handspinners the opportunity to spin the fiber into the yarn of their choice.  Through the entire process we keep each animal’s fleece separate so the roving carries the unique qualities of the specific alpaca for that year.   When our customers purchase the roving,  we can provide a photo of the animal so they can see where the roving originated.  Often times our customers will create a unique hand-made scarf or sweater and include a picture of the alpaca when presenting it has a gift.

 

Annabelle Roving

Annabelle Roving

 

Boomer Roving

Boomer Roving

This is an amazing opportunity to grow fiber, process it locally and the end product can proudly be labeled “Grown and processed in Northern Idaho, USA”.  We are so pleased to offer these beautiful, luxurious alpaca rovings on a limited availability basis. Each alpaca is sheared just once per year, so the supply is limited. If you see something you just can’t wait to spin…better get it quickly!