Category Archives: Knitting News

Are you ready for the team Scoreboard KAL?

Hey Alpaca Direct Team!

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!

scorecard-kal photo

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:

collegiate

and here’s the Professional Team colors by number:

professional

 

Happy knitting!

Valentines Day Gift Ideas

With Valentines Day just weeks away, I thought I would share some of my favorite Valentine themed scarf and cowl patterns.

 As any knitter knows, there’s a little love in every stitch.  What a great way to show your love and appreciation for the special person with a hand knit scarf or hat.vkint1

This pattern is fit for a beginning knitter. The pattern is a series of hearts that can be knit on the needles two at a time using any worsted weight yarn. I used Misti Alpaca tonos 50% alpaca, 50% merino blend color #51 Zinnia then attached using the kitchener stitch once each half reaches the desired length. The pattern is called “Heart” by Stephannie C. Roy and can be found on Knitty or Ravelry and is a free download.

 

 

The next pattern is called “Besotted” by Adrian Bizilia which is also a free pattern that can be found on Ravelry and is a charming series of x’s and o’s made with cables. Use this pattern to knit your way into your loved ones heart! If you enjoy cables then you will love knitting this pattern.

 vknit3vknit2

Modeled by our staff member, Courtney, this scarf is beautiful in red, but would also shine in pink, purple or whatever your Valentine’s favorite color is!

 

 

 

We’ve just returned from the annual TNNA yarn trade show and have a variety of new yarns as well as new colors in our favorite yarns arriving in the warehouse.

For spring and summer knits we’ve added CoBaSi from Hikoo, a fingering weight blend of cotton, bamboo and silk. This yarn has a beautiful stitch definition and feels lovely in the hand. Versatile, you’ll want to make summer shawls, socks and garments from it’s wide color range.

 

If winter is still clinging to your landscape, you may want to make a cozy scarf or sweater from Hikoo Simpli Natural, an alpaca/wool/silk blend that combines sheen with drape and warmth to become a luxurious knittable yarn. The fiber drinks in the dye for an amazing depth of color and the silk adds a marvelous subtle shine.

 

Check our site for new colors of Hikoo Kenzie, Zauberball and Zauberball Crazy.

 

One of our staff, Kjirstine, knit this hat for her football fan daughter on a recent car trip to Seattle:

vknit5

It’s the “Easy Ombre Slouch Hat”, free on Ravelry, knit from Hikoo Kenzie in colors #1025 and #1027, both colors we’ve added recently. It’s pretty clear who she is cheering for on Sunday!

 

Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Knitters

New Years Resolutions for Knitters
Photo by Ondrejk on Wikimedia Commons

Happy New Year, everyone!

Welcome to 2015…let’s get going!

Many of us have spent the last few months creating Christmas gifts.  After the frenzy of holiday parties and gifts, it’s nice to spend a few moments to reflect on the past year and what we hope to accomplish in the new year.  For many, this takes the form of New Year’s Resolutions.

As knitters (or other fiber crafters) it can be fun to come up with some goals for our knitting in the new year.  Here are our top five picks for New Year’s Resolutions for Knitters for 2015.

1. Knit More For Yourself

After spending so much time knitting gifts for everyone else, it can feel like ages since you’ve knitted anything lovely for yourself.  What does your Ravelry queue look like?  I know mine is full of stuff I’d love to knit but just haven’t done yet.  While I do still have a few small projects for others going, I’m spending most of my knitting time working on a sweater for myself.  It’s been a long time since I’ve knitted myself a sweater, and while I still wear and like the others, it’s time for something new.  I’m working on Ink by Hanna Maciejewska.

2. Knit Down Your Stash

This can go along nicely with the previous resolution.  It might take a slightly different shape – choosing the pattern to go with the yarn, rather than the other way around.  But, you could easily kill two birds with one stone.  One of my favorite features on Ravelry is the pattern browsing function that allows you to narrow your results by yarn weight, yardage, and a wide variety of other attributes.  Just remember, though – sock yarn doesn’t count as stash!

 

Shopping at Alpaca Direct
Getting supplies at Alpaca Direct for 2015!

3. Advance Your Knitting Skills

Knitting is pretty basic, really.  There are only two stitches – knit and purl.  But these two simple stitches can be combined in seemingly endless ways.  What technique is on your hit list for this year – cables, intarsia, stranded color work, lace?  Or maybe you feel the need to brush up your finishing techniques – master the mattress stitch, learn to block, or weave in your ends so that no one can tell.  Whatever it is, Alpaca Direct offers a variety of classes to help you.  Don’t see what you need?  Send an email and ask for it!  We’ll also be adding more tutorials here on the blog about these topics.  Sign up so that you receive the new blog posts in your inbox!

4. Finish Your Pile of WIPs

This can happen to even the most conscientious among us.  You start a project and get frustrated or distracted and it sits in your knitting bag or basket for a while until it eventually gets shoved in the back of the closet.  Maybe you have a whole closet full a few of these yourself.  Decide whether to finish them, or just send them to the frog pond (y’know where you riiiip it, riiip it) and reuse the yarn for something you like better.

5. Learn a New Craft

Have you been knitting for a while and want to learn something new?  Now’s a great time to do it.  There is a whole world of fiber crafts open to you, many of which can go right along with your knitting addiction hobby – crochet, spinning, and dyeing to name a few.  Weaving is also a fun way to make textiles, and you can get started pretty simply with a Zoom Loom or a rigid heddle loom.  Not sure where to start?  We offer classes for beginning crochet and beginning spinning.  Not a knitter yet?  Well, we offer a class for that, too.

Spinning Fiber at Alpaca Direct
Spinning Fiber at Alpaca Direct

 

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  Did any of these make your list?  Any other fiber related resolutions you have?  Let us know in the comments!

AD Sock KAL Wrap-Up & Winner

We’ve had such a wonderful time hosting our first ever knit-a-long, the Alpaca Direct Sockalong! We’ve seen so many beautiful projects, and you can see them here on the Alpaca Direct Pinterest board or in the KAL thread in our Ravelry group.

win sock blockers from Alpaca DirectCongratulations to Gail M, who wrote “I’m new to sock knitting. In fact, I just finished my first pair! So I would love to win a pair!” We’ll be in touch to arrange delivery of your prize. 

 

 

 

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

Honoring the one who took on the World’s Hardest Job for you

Kjirstine Prickett

By Kjirstine Prickett

Customer Service Manager at Alpaca Direct

 

 

Senior Pictures: My Grandmother 1946 and me in 1991

Senior Pictures: My Grandmother 1946 and me in 1991

 

That’s my Grandma. Her senior picture, taken around 1946. That’s my senior picture next to it, taken in 1991. The photographer who took my picture had never seen the photo of my grandmother.  Astounding, isn’t it?

Each of us has someone in our life who slowed the pursuit of their own interests, career, or plans to take on what has been called “The World’s Hardest Job”.  You’ve probably seen the viral video where a man pretends to interview candidates and their look of disbelief as he lists the requirements, tasks and rewards associated with the job he is offering. Many of the candidates describe it as “inhumane”, or “Illegal” and none of them look as if they are willing to accept the terms he offers. He then makes the big reveal. “It’s motherhood”, he says.

I’ve been blessed to have my mom, my grandma, my mother-in-law, and several other women in my life. My mom was a full-time, stay at home mom, and the amount of time she invested in my life is huge. I am forever grateful for the things she taught me… the biggest one being that she taught me to love learning. “Go get a book about it, “ she would say. (Pre-internet days, of course!)  Because of her I can teach myself almost anything. Spinning, knitting, tatting.

And then there’s my Grandma. She taught me the value of family, heritage, and hospitality. She took time to learn and teach all of us the crafts and foods of our Scandinavian heritage. (She was awarded “Norwegian of the year” from her Sons of Norway chapter one year.  Her family is German and she married a Norwegian).  She taught me that things made by hand are precious. Her home was always open to all of us, to her large extended family from North Dakota and the even more extended family from Canada and Norway. Around her table, I met family I would never have known otherwise. She made every holiday…every holiday, an event for us. That’s why she is so close to my heart every Mother’s Day. My grandma doesn’t notice holidays anymore. She’s losing her battle with Alzheimers. But I haven’t forgotten the things she invested in my life.

Take time this Mother’s Day to honor the person in your life who made a difference,  who steered you to where you are, the one who gave you the skills and resources you need to live. It’s not always your mom. But there’s someone who took on that role for you. Get them flowers, cook them a meal, give them a hug, buy them a gift.

And if you’re a mom, thanks for taking on the World’s Hardest Job.  We’re all at different stages. I have a child in each High, Middle, and Elementary school. My challenges are balancing schedules and carpools. My sister is anticipating the birth of a longed-for second child this fall. She’s juggling much-needed rest for her hardworking body with caring for a toddler. My mom has an empty nest and is learning to live in that newer aspect of life. But we’re all moms. We all know what it is to live the World’s Hardest Job.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

mom-daughter-knitting

Knitting Helps Mentor a Healthy Lifestyle

By: Kelley Hobart:  Owner – Alpaca Direct

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

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

Mom and Daughters in the parade last summer
Moms and Daughters in the parade last summer

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

My twin sister Shelley and I were inseparable
My twin sister Shelley and I were inseparable

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

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

My graduation as an RN
My graduation as an RN

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

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

My daughter and I training the Alpacas
Our daughter Lauren and I training the Alpacas

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

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

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

Knitting May Help Delay or Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

grandma knitting
Knitting keeps your mind active

By Kelley Hobart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twin Sweaters and Booties with Madelinetosh Yarn

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

Twin sweaters on ciruclars
Twin sweaters on ciruclars

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

Matching Felipe Sweaters
Matching Felipe Sweaters with Madelintosh yarn

 

Finished sweaters and booties
Finished sweaters and booties

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

Happy knitting….Kelley

SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock Yarn Product Review

Lacery Socks from SweetGeorgia yarns
Lacery Socks with SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock Yarn

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

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