All posts by Kjirstine Prickett

bunny

Critter Challenge

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The Christmas Season brought with it a snowstorm of projects to be finished, packages to be wrapped, and priorities to be re-evaluated (sigh).We hope you’ve been able to share time with family and friends and even find some restorative moments for yourself.

 

2016 (the Chinese year of the monkey) will usher in some fun and exciting projects here at Alpaca Direct.   To kick off the New Year, the Critter Challenge is sure to delight knitters and crocheters of all skill levels!  Do you have a fur child, a feathered baby, or a favorite mascot?  How about a dream pony or animal guide?  Pick up needles or hook and capture your love in any kind of critter at all.  Use any pattern or let your imagination carry you along.  Enter more than once – it’s free and you can win prizes!

 

When you’ve completed your critter(s), snap a photo and send it to us.  We’ll post it on our Facebook Critter Challenge Event Page and the voting will begin!  

 

Entries will close March 25th and voting will continue until 3/31/16.  Each visitor to the site may vote once per day.  People’s Choice (the entry receiving the most votes) will receive a $50 gift certificate from Alpaca Direct.  Each entry will also be entered in a random drawing for another fabulous $50 gift certificate.  So get started on that parlor cat, bunny rabbit, or dragon.  We can’t wait to see what you create!

Warm Up A Forgotten Soul

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Did you know when a foster child turns 18 he or she no longer qualifies to live in the foster system?  Rather than have services available to help these young adults continue becoming a productive member of society,  these kids are often turned out into the streets to find their own way. The Red Scarf Project extends a hug to these kids in the form of red scarves knitted by you and me and then donated to their cause. We offer a large assortment of red yarns and knitting needles for your consideration, plus several super cute scarf patterns! Also, the Red Scarf Project organizers’ website offers patterns for you. You can access the Foster Care to Success website to learn how you can help in many other ways.

The red scarves need to be submitted by Nov. 30th so let’s whip one up for a young person in need of your hug.

Happy Knitting,
Maria

When the frost is on the pumpkin, it might be Socktober!

Shorter days. Cooler nights. Nothing is as comforting as hand knit socks! Here in Northern Idaho we’re enjoying cool nights and warm days and as the leaves turn to red and gold, it’s time to knit socks! It’s Socktober!!!

Sock knitting is a varied as knitters. Toe up, Top down. DPN. Magic Loop. Fabulous lace patterns knit from fine merino, self patterning sock yarns for simple fun, chunky weight slipper socks that warm your toes and your heart. We all have a favorite technique or two, so our staff is sharing with you some of our favorite patterns, yarns and techniques.

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Kaika free pattern

I chose one of Michelle Hunter’s patterns, as she makes patterns that are fun and easy to follow. Kaika is the Japanese word for “bloom” and it uses a beautiful and easy to memorize Japanese inspired stitch pattern. I used this pattern to make a toasty pair of light weight leg warmers that will keep me nice and warm during the cold winter months here in North Idaho. I used a picot cast on and a picot bind off to dress up my leg warmers. This gorgeous yarn is Madelinetosh Twist Light in “Optic” .Now that I have finished this pattern, I will search for another sock pattern or leg warmer pattern as we have lot’s of new fingering yarns that I am eagerly waiting to try! Kelley

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Kelley is the owner of Alpaca Direct and loves to knit her socks toe-up, two at a time on a magic loop!

 

susansocks

I just finished my first pair of socks in ten years.  Until recently, the thought of working with fingering weight yarn would turn my stomach.  Oh, I made a number of pairs with worsted weight yarn, but somehow, in my book, they didn’t seem to count.  They were workhorses-not the sprightly ponies of spots and blotches of randomly strewn color, crafted out of the finest gossamer threads.
Anyway, soon after beginning my new internship with Kelley, Kjirstine, Jennifer, and Maria at Alpaca Direct, I was affected by a strange affliction….Zauberball Crazy!  While stocking a shelf with marvelous, mind-bending orbs of color and texture, I was overcome by a desire to knit on size 1 needles!  Even more fantastically, to simultaneously create a PAIR of socks (not one, but two at a time!) on 1 ridiculously long circular needle!  In my library (books I absorb, without ever reading), was a copy of “2-at-a-time socks”, by Melissa Morgan-Oakes.  While everyone at work had moved on to knitting a pair of socks, two at a time, from the TOES up, I was completely entranced, bewitched and beguiled!  The easy to understand and painless to follow step by step directions caught my attention and inspired me beyond belief!  Within two short weeks, after a family wedding and during a family reunion, the “Earth” color way of Zauberball Crazy became the “Twilight” socks of Morgan-Oakes.
I am hooked.  One more thing to add to the never-ending and ever-expanding list of things I mustn’t live without! Susan
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Susan has recently joined our team at Alpaca Direct. She is bringing new life to our Hayden, Idaho yarn shop and has unending creativity and an eye for design.
kjhandpaintsock
I love to knit socks! The first class I took, after I learned to knit, was a sock class. I love to knit them the old fashioned way, top down, on double pointed needles. It’s soothing to my soul. I love the portability of sock knitting (I have kids at home, we’re always on the go). There is one pattern I have knit several times and I think that may be linked to my addiction to fantastic hand painted sock yarns! The pattern is found in “One-Skein Wonders” and is called “Hand Paint Highlights”. It is a great, simple pattern that really brings out the beauty of a hand painted yarn. This pair is a yarn from a local independent dyer, but I’ve used it many times with many hand painted yarns. So jump in, buy the one gorgeous skein from a hand dyer and make some great, one of a kind socks!!
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Kjirstine works in warehouse, shipping orders, receiving new stock and assisting with buying new yarns!
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Becky, one of our Fiber Friends regulars, made this beautiful pair of socks and won first place at the North Idaho fair!

Maria’s favorite socks right now are the fabulous lace pair that Becky knitted, entered in the fair, won first place, and then gifted them to Maria! A gift of hand made socks says volumes about the giver, but a receiver who truly appreciates them, and knows the value of the time and love invested in them, is a treasure as well!

Maria is one our fabulous on-staff teachers as well as the facilitator of our twice weekly Fiber Friends gatherings.
Maria is one our skilled on-staff teachers as well as the facilitator of our twice weekly Fiber Friends gatherings. She likes to knit socks from the toe up!!
My sister in law, Elizabeth wearing her Sisters Cowl

Do you crochet? We do!

Knitting. It’s the new yoga. It’s hip. It’s trending. You can knit on your arm or fingers. Celebrities knit. We hear more about knitting today than any other craft.

What’s happened to crochet?

Plenty! Crochet is full of innovation, creativity, and beauty. I sometimes feel crochet is the craft people “admit” to doing.  I hear customers in our store say, “I don’t knit, I only crochet.”, almost as if crochet is something less than knitting.

But it’s not less, it’s just different.

I did a quick search on youtube- the word knitting returned 717,000 videos. The word crochet returned 1,670,00 videos. I believe that people like to crochet!

Crochet was the first needle craft I learned. I grew up surrounded by thread crochet pieces that my grandmothers and great-grandmothers had made and I was impressed. At age 17, I went to my local yarn store and took a beginning crochet class. That began a fiber adventure that has lead me to knitting, spinning, tatting, and now even working in a yarn shop.  I still enjoy crochet. It’s my personal favorite way to use a lace weight yarn.

If crochet has been overlooked by the major pattern and yarn companies, it has not been overlooked by independent designers. There are patterns all over the internet, both free and purchased that are beautiful and wearable.

I know that crochet has a bad wrap sheet- I remember the days of toilet tissue covers and Christmas candles crocheted to fit over aluminum cans. It was ugly.

But today you can find a huge variety of patterns and styles that are stunning. One of my favorite designers is Tara Murray. Her patterns are a delight.  I made these cuties out of Cascade 220.

Galilee Booties, designed by Tara Murray, crochet by me!
Galilee Booties, designed by Tara Murray, crocheted by me!

 

The crocodile stitch is really hot right now and a fabulous design element. My favorite design that incorporates this stitch is Crocodile Stitch Booties, from Ravelry. I saw a pair of these given an outstanding award at our county fair in August.

Exquisite booties by Bonita Patterns.
Exquisite booties by Bonita Patterns.

 

Maria, one of our staff members, made this project  in Cascade Ultra Pima  early this summer:

Angel Wing Pinafore, designed by Maxine Gonser, crocheted by Maria
Angel Wing Pinafore, designed by Maxine Gonser, crocheted by Maria

She was busy the rest of the summer, filling  requests to make more!

 

Crocheted Mobius Cowl from Churchmouse Patterns, crocheted by Tina
Crocheted Mobius Cowl from Churchmouse Patterns, crocheted by Tina

Another staff member, Tina, made this beautiful cowl from Cascade Kid Seta and taught it as a class here in the store.

So, do you crochet?  We do!

We haven’t forgotten crochet here at Alpaca Direct. We carry a variety of crochet hooks, both beautiful and practical. You’ll find crochet patterns on our website, and a passion for crochet in our staff members! If Alpaca Direct is your local yarn store, look for a Begin to Crochet Class in January 2015 followed by other crochet classes in the late winter and spring.

Here’s my contribution to the crochet pattern community. I hope you enjoy it!

My sister in law, Elizabeth wearing her Sisters Cowl
My sister in law, Elizabeth, wearing her Sisters Cowl

My sister sent me photo of a scarf she admired, asking if I could make something similar. This pattern is the result. When my sister-in-law saw the finished scarf, she asked for one too! So it’s the “Sisters” scarf, because I’ve been blessed with a wonderful sister and sister-in -law!

Enjoy your Free Pattern!

Sisters Cowl, by Kjirstine Prickett

Materials:

2 skeins Berroco Ultra Alpaca or approximately 430 yds worsted weight yarn

US J Hook

3- 1-¼” buttons

Gauge is not terribly important to this project. You should adjust the hook and yarn to produce a fabric that you like. I wanted it slightly drapey, but still wanted to maintain a certain amount of structure.

Finished dimensions:

Approximately 8” x 60”

Abbreviations:

Ch- chain

Dc- double crochet– wrap yarn around hook once

Trc- triple crochet– wrap yarn around hook twice

 

Chain 203

Row 1: Dc in 4th chain from the hook, dc in each chain across. Ch 3, turn

Row 2: Trc in 2nd dc, trc in each dc across, dc in top of turning chain, ch 2, turn

Row 3: Dc in 2nd trc, dc in each trc across, dc in top of turning chain, ch 2, turn

Row 4-5: Dc in 2nd dc, dc in each dc across, dc in top of turning chain, chain 2 turn

Row 6: Dc in 2nd dc, dc in each dc across, dc in top of turning chain, chain 3 turn

Row 7: As row 2

Row 8: As row 3

Row 9-10: As rows 4-5

Row 11:As row 6

Row 12: As row 2

Row 13: Dc in 2nd trc, dc in each trc across, dc in top of turning chain. Finish off.

 

Block gently, stitch buttons on one end to correspond with Triple crochet rows, which are used as buttonholes.

Happy Crocheting!

 

 

ADSockAlong Staff Sock Wrap Up

We’ve been knitting for nearly a month now and have made great progress! I think we’ve all learned something that motivates us to knit another pair of socks and try a new pattern or technique. There’s always something to learn!

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 her socks and has worn them already!

Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store
Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store
Courtney finished her socks!!!!
Courtney finished her socks!!!!

 

Courtney finished her socks and is ready to start a new pair.

Tina, Store Manager
Tina, Store Manager
Tina has made it to the leg!
Tina has made it to the leg!

Tina checks in this week:

“Finally knitting the leg(s)! I’m so pleased with the fit of the sock and especially the heel. However, note to self, on my next sock KAL, don’t decide on a 10-row lace repeat and expect to get them done in a month……LOL. My new mantra……KISS……keep it super simple! Or knit for someone with very tiny feet.”

Melissa, Social Media
Melissa, Social Media
Progress on sock #2
Progress on sock #2

 

Melissa says:

 I’m almost to the second heel where I get another shot at practicing short rows!  I can’t wait to have two finished socks!”

Kjirstine, Customer Service Manager
Kjirstine, Customer Service Manager
Second sock is coming along!
Second sock is coming along!

 

Kjirstine reports:

“This pattern came out great. This is the right sock, with the cable on the right side of the foot. The first sock had the cable on the left. I usually knit socks top-down with a heel flap, which is reinforced with slipped stitches. I’m wondering if the short row heel is as durable?”

Hope you are having good success with your socks, we’d love to see your progress on our Ravelry thread or on our Facebook page.

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!”

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.

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Spinzilla 2014

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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!

 

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
Sweet Georgia Tough Love sock in "Storm Chaser"
Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in”Storm Chaser”

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
Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock "Blue Cove"
Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in “Blue Cove”

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
Cascade Heritage 150 "Snow"
Cascade Heritage 150 in “Snow”

 

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

 

Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store
Courtney, Order Fulfillment & Store
Misti Tonos Carnaval sock "Mint"
Misti Tonos Carnaval Sock in “Mint”

 

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