A place for us knitters to go to to share our trials and tribulations with each pattern as we experience our choice of luscious yarns and many brilliant designers. I recently found one of those designers, Jennifer Wood, with her newly released book “Refined Knits”. I picked up a copy of the book after seeing her posts on Ravelry and found so many patterns in the book that I’m sure to spend my summer with the imprint of needles/hooks in my hands. I am totally in love. I can’t wait to try knitting the pattern called Anwen, which is a rectangular shawl (pictured on the front page of the book) and will look beautiful in our Queensland Llama lace by Euro yarns. I have to decide what color to use – decisions, decisions. I’m leaning towards ecru, but I can imagine this pattern would look divine in any of the beautiful colors.
What I like most about Jennifer Wood is that she is creative. In this new book she focuses on interesting, structural technique in cable and graceful laces. Since I love to stretch and learn new things, her patterns spark my interest. With every new skill I learn in knitting, I try to pick at least three patterns in a row where I can practice the skill. I remember when I was learning the Kitchener stitch….and any of you out there that know how to Kitchener, you have my admiration. I not only wanted to learn how to do it, but I wanted to memorize the technique to be able to teach it to other knitters and friends in our store. For those that are wanting to learn how to Kitchener stitch, pull up a chair, put on some soothing music and dive into Michelle Hunter’s tutorial video, or come visit me – I’m always happy to help someone learn something new to increase their interest in the art. I figure, any new skill worth learning is worth learning well! My challenge for you today is to “stretch” your skills too!
P.S. Everyone should have a skein of the Queensland Llama Lace Melange or Natural in their yarn stash. I bet it won’t stay in the stash for very long – Enjoy it!
Summer is officially over, and we’re a week into Autumn. It’s been a busy summer here, with no signs of slowing down on the horizon.
The North Idaho Fair
was the last week of August, and we had quite a few of our knitters enter projects.
It’s always fun to go look at all the beautiful knitted, crocheted, and handspun projects in the fiber division. There are usually a couple spinners from the local spinning guild, the Log Cabin Spinners, demonstrating on their wheels and spindles as well. We love supporting the fair and spreading the love of fiber arts far and wide.
This year we had quite a few winners. Here are some of the winning entries.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Next month is
Knit a pair of socks or leg warmers and send us a picture! You can submit it on our Facebook page or just tag your photos on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) with #ADSocktober!
All entries will be voted on via social media and the winner will get a $25 gift card!
So get knitting! Entries are due by November 7, 2015. We’re looking forward to seeing all the wonderful socks and leg warmers!
The mattress stitch is arguably the best way to seam handknit projects. Whether we’re talking sweater pieces or blocks for an afghan, mattress stitch joins pieces simply and beautifully.
This tutorial is especially timely for those who’ve been participating in the Building Blocks and Building in Color groups. I know several of the ladies in the Tuesday evening Open Knitting Group are doing one or both of those and several of them haven’t done mattress stitch before. This tutorial is for you!
Shelly recently brought her Building Blocks pieces in to our Tuesday group to show off and get some help with putting everything together.
If you’ve never done mattress stitch before, take a deep breath and gather your supplies. It’s really pretty easy, and I know you’ll be pleased with the results.
For our tutorial today I’ll be piecing a baby sweater I’m making for my new son. It’s the Little Luxury Kimono. This is knit from an Aran weight wool yarn that I had in my stash. I’ve lost the ball band, so I can’t tell you what it is. But, I’d recommend knitting it in something like Malabrigo Twist if you don’t mind handwashing or Berroco Vintage if you want something easier to care for.
How To Do the Mattress Stitch on a Side Seam
1. Lay out the pieces you’ll be seaming together. Cut a piece of yarn a little longer than the pieces you’ll be seaming.
2. On the right hand piece, find the bar between the two columns of stitches on the edge of the piece. Pull the yarn through, leaving a six inch tail.
3. Find the bar between the two edge columns on the left hand piece. Pull the yarn through, loosely attaching the two pieces.
4. Continue in the same way, attaching each row and only pulling the pieces loosely together.
5. After you’ve sewn an inch or so, hold the tail of the yarn and pull the working yarn so that the two pieces come together side by side. You want them to be snug, but not tight. It should look seamless on the right side (there will be a visible seam on the wrong side). Continue with the mattress stitch until you’ve seamed the two pieces together, pulling the yarn snug after each stitch. If you accidentally pull it too tight and cause the work to pucker, just smooth it out along the seam until it lays flat and smooth.
How to do Mattress Stitch on a Shoulder Seam
You can do mattress stitch on two pieces of knitting vertically, as well as side by side. This works well for shoulder seams or for two blocks stacked on top of each other, rather than next to each other. It’s slightly different than the side by side mattress stitch and not quite as seamless, but still provides a nice seam.
1. Lay out the pieces you’ll be seaming next to each other. I like to lay the pieces out so I’ll be seaming from bottom to top rather than side to side.
When you seam pieces vertically, you seam the columns of stitches to each other, rather than the bars between columns. So you’ll need to choose whether to choose the column oriented as a V or an A. Make sure you choose the same column on each piece.
2. Choose your column on one piece. I chose a V column. Pull the yarn through.
3. Choose the corresponding column on the other piece. Pull the yarn through, pulling the two pieces snug.
There you have it! Now, you can confidently seam your handknits together.
Have you tried the mattress stitch before? Will this be your first time? Let us know how it goes!
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 a heat rash.
But what if you want to knit? Are 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 now. But this is North Idaho. It will be cold enough for hats again in about two months or less. That’s eight weeks or 60 days. Hats are portable, great stash busters, and may be knit out of pretty much any fiber and weight imaginable. Most importantly, they don’t take up room on your lap. Here’s some hat patterns (Many are FREE!) to get you started.
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.) Here’s some fun Gloves and Mittens patterns to get you started.
Scarves are too long for me. 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. Here’s some unique Cowl patterns to get your started.
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. Here’s some cute Baby Knit and Crochet Patterns to get you started.
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. Here’s some fun sock patterns to get you started.
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 re-merchandised 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.