Category Archives: Patterns

A treasured combination – Queensland Llama Lace Yarn and Jennifer Wood

Have I ever said how much I love Ravelry?

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.

Llama lace yarn

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!

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!

 

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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.
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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!!

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.

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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:

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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!

 

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

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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!

Picot Edge Slouch Hat With Malabrigo Rios Yarn

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Hello fellow yarn lovers. Today I’m sharing with you my latest favorite hat with a free pattern Plymouth Yarn’s Royal Llama Silk Hat by Jan Wise.

It can also be found on Ravelry.

I knit my hat with one skein of Malabrigo Rios, approx. 200 yds, on size 6 & 8 16″ circulars, and size 8 dbl points at the end.

I made a couple of adjustments in the pattern.  First off, Round 5 she calls it the turning round. What she means is this is the round you will fold up to create that lovely picot edge. The pattern calls for you to keep a very long tail to use later to stitch the hem up to create this picot edge. I find it easier to follow the pattern to Round 9.   At Round 9, fold the beginning edge, picking up one edge stitch along with the stitch on your needle, knitting these two stitches together, repeating around the hat. No need for that long tail and more finish work at the end of your project!

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You can see in the pictures above that the picot edge is not there! But just fold the cast on edge up to meet the 9th round and knit 1 st from the edge and 1 st from the needle tog and you’re set!

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Voila!!!  A beautiful picot edge!

Secondly, the hat sizes are listed as 19.55 / 20 inches. This just creates all kinds of questions in my head. Suffice to say I have a 23″ head. The 20″ size is plenty big enough for my head and not in the least bit tight.

I hope you will give this hat a try. It is simple, very pretty, and adapted well to my Malabrigo Rios yarn :)

Happy Knitting!  Maria

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

Kelley and Michele Hunter

New Yarns at TNNA and Time With Michele Hunter!

I recently attended the National Needle Arts Trade Show (TNNA) in San Diego to look for new yarns for  Alpaca Direct. This industry trade show brings vendors all together under one roof with a chance to see and compare products in order to pick up the best possible yarn choices for our customers.

Baah Yarn Hand Dye Yarns
Baah Yarn’s Vibrant Spring Colors

While reviewing all the great products from our friends at Skacel,   I was thrilled to meet Michelle Hunter (knitpurlhunter.com) who has just released her new book called Building In Color which we will be using in our store classes to teach Intarsia.  Michelle has a 30 year career in teaching and it shows in both her books and on her website. I felt like I already knew her as I have been using her video’s to assist with teaching our students for quite a while.

 If you are a new knitter I encourage you to go to Michelle’s website.  She has a video to answer almost every knitting question. Her simple clear instructions will take the mystery out of knitting.    Michelle provides wonderful free  pattern downloads.  I am currently using her free  “Lacery” sock  pattern.   You start with Judy’s magic cast on, a short row heel and a lacey pattern to boot!  I started my socks on Friday and am almost ready to turn my heel! I am excited for each of you to see the many new  yarns we are bringing in.  We have many Indie dyed yarns like La Jolla from Baah Yarns which have the most vivid color choices just for you!  We also picked up the ultra-light Karbonz line of needles from Knitter’s Pride to make your knitting more enjoyable!

Happy knitting!
Kelley

Bottom up dog sweater

The Quest For The Ultimate Dog Sweater

It’s a bit chilly in the winter here in North Idaho and our store mascot (Bentley) loves to go on walks and get outside like the rest of us.   I have been experimenting with some different techniques to come up with a cute, comfortable dog sweater pattern that our customers can knit  for their furry friends.    This is a prototype that needs more work and I wanted to share where I’m at with the initial version.  It is a quick knit bottom up sweater using circular needles with no seaming in a worsted weight yarn.  The legs openings and chest area have a little more structure with  1×1 ribbing to add comfort and a little extra stretch when putting over your puppies head and while walking.

Bottom up dog sweater
Bentley’s Seamless Dog Sweater
Left side of dog sweater
View from the left side
Right side of dog sweater
View of right side sweater
Front Leg Holes of dog sweater
View of leg and chest openings

 

I have a few more revisions and then I’ll post a free pattern for you to download and try.  In the meantime, Bentley is happily modeling my prototypes!

Kelley

Blue Sky Alpaca Hat

Blue Sky Alpaca Royal and Sport Weight Yarn Is Here!

Great news! We are now offering Blue Sky Alpaca Yarns in our store and on our website.  Wow! They are a class act yarn supplier and they have the most beautiful patterns.  The patterns look kind of like a folded story book with a hint of the antique Burpee seed packaging.   I am currently knitting the Westminster Hat pattern which is clearly written and a pleasure to knit.  It uses cables without the purl bars between them for a lot of bang for the buck.  The pattern calls for 2 skeins of Royal Alpaca Petites and the hat feels like a dream.  Oh so soft and warm too.  I was out shopping for Christmas gifts last night and I saw a hat at a local department store that was only a 30% alpaca and wool blend for $40 dollars.  Now that’s expensive…and it was a bit scratchy!  I am so glad I can knit because I can make 100% Royal alpaca (which is the Mercedes of Alpaca) for a little less than that.  While waiting for the Royal Alpaca to arrive on our shop, I have been knitting up a storm doing 1 X 1 rib hats made from Pure Alpaca by Cascade Yarns for all the men in my life.  Once I finish those projects, I’m knitting an infinity tube scarf for Lauren (my daughter) in the Blue Sky Alpaca sport weight yarn in the teal color #545 Blue Spruce and a set of fingerless gloves to match.