Category Archives: Products Reviews

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!

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!

Addi Sock Rockets Needles Review – Speedy Knitting At Alpaca Direct

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These Addi Sock Rocket circular needles have the silky smooth nickel-plated finish that is so well-known on the Addi turbo’s.  If you haven’t tried Addi turbo’s they allow the stitches to slide along the needles at incredible speeds.  Some folks may find them a little too slippery but I am all about speed when it comes to knitting socks so these work great for me. They have tips almost like the Addi Lace  and the ChiaoGoo Red Lace which are more pointed but not so much that they grab the next stitch.

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Addi Sock Rocket Tips
Addi Sock Rocket Tips

 I found that the sock rocket tips don’t appear to be quite as sharp as the addi lace tips but are just right for socks.  I think they are my new favorite’s for knitting socks.  I can knit even faster than normal with these needles, they are super comfortable with a nice, thin flexible cords. If you need a needle with a little more grab then the Karbonz by Knitter’s Pride might be a good choice for you.   We will be adding the larger size Sock Rockets to our Addi line that we already carry on our website. Sock Rockets and the regular Addi Rockets are a great addition to Skacel’s needle line.  Thanks Skacel for offering such great products for our customers!

Knitter's Pride Karbonz Sets

Knitter’s Pride Karbonz Circular Needles Review

Karbonz Circulars

We are excited to be carrying the new Karbonz circular needles made by Knitter’s Pride. I am using La Jolla sock yarn by Baah Yarns, circular Karbonz in size US #1 40 inch, and a pattern called Isabella D’Este found in The Knitter’s Book of Socks which I have checked out from our local library. The needles feel light as a feather in my hands. The finish is similar to wood but just a hair more slippery to the touch.  People who love wooden needles should definitely try these circulars. The cord is soft and flexible and feels similar to signature cords and the join from the needle to the cord feels smooth and stitches move freely from the cord to the needle without catching on the join.

karbonz circular needle
Knitter’s Pride Karbonz Circular Needles

The brass tips of the needle are not a lace tip but somewhere in between Skacel’s Addi Turbo’s and their lace needles. I am finding the needles a joy to knit my pair of socks with! The brass tip is well constructed with a dark Carbon Fiber body with excellent tensile strength. One thing I’ve found is that dark colored yarns do not show up very well on the dark Carbon Fiber body. On the plus side, the US size and mm are clearly written on the face of the Carbon Fiber in white ink so you can see the size without glasses. The price for the needles starts at around $13.00 retail which is a great buy for such a quality set of circular needles.

kelley&brandon

Stay Warm During The Winter Chills With Alpaca Socks

With the holidays behind us and the a new year ahead, it’s time to focus on our goals for 2014.  One of my goals this year is to really improve my skiing skills.  We got up before sunrise on Saturday and headed up to Lookout Pass to get there right when the ski lifts opened.  My son was patiently giving me lessons as I tried new runs and techniques. It was great to spend time with him as I worked on improving my skills.  About 3 hours into my private lesson with him I realized I was cold…really cold!  In fact, I was so cold that I could no longer concentrate on my ski techniques and had to take a break from the cold and go inside the ski lodge.  What was the matter?  My fingers don’t usually burn…and my toes were numb.  Was it my new Jacket?  I normally wear a North Face Jacket but today I wore an Obermeyer Jacket.  I have another Obermeyer jacket that I wear for horse back riding and have never had a problem.  What was different?  I couldn’t figure it out.  Why was I so cold when under normal conditions, I would stop skiing because I was tired not because I was cold.  We decided to call it a day in the early afternoon and drove home to warm up.  It wasn’t until I was removing my snow clothes that I figured it out. I had been wearing regular merino wool socks and not my trusty alpaca socks.  I never wear anything but my alpaca when I know it’s going to be cold outside.  I would never chance being uncomfortable when I have the perfect solution, especially our new Alpacor ski socks that are super warm and great at wicking moisture out of my ski boots.

Alpaca Direct Ski Sock
Alpaca Direct Ski Sock
Alpacor Sock Technology
Alpacor Sock Technology

 When I got up that morning it was dark and I accidentally grabbed the wrong pair of socks.  What a huge mistake!  I can tell you, I will not make that mistake again!  If there are any of you out there who get cold feet and can’t seem to get warm, come in and give our alpaca socks a try!  This weekend was a big reminder of what life in the cold was before my alpaca socks and I don’t want to repeat it and wouldn’t want you to either!

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.

 

Sock It To Me!

Wool socks, acrylic socks, knee socks, bed socks, slipper socks, socks, socks and more socks. Everybody loves socks! They are small and easy to carry along on your trips, light weight so they make great summer projects, and they can be super simple and fast or you can make intricate lace or color work. Sock knitters are crazy about them and the sock yarns they find to make a new favorite sock. We have a selection of sock yarn that will knock your socks off, like this Trekking Maxima yarn our recent customer was so tickled with, she was eagerly showing us some leg :)

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This beautiful sock is knit up using our Trekking Maxima color #905. It is always interesting to me to see how the ball of yarn changes when you make something with it. This is what the original ball looked like….

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Pretty awesome huh! This is only one little sample knitters. We have a gazillion other colors, yarns, weights, etc. that can satisfy even the pickiest sock knitter. Check us out and tell me if you agree. (okay, maybe not an actual gazillion) 😉

Sock yarns!!!!

Brand Spanking New: Cascade Ultra Pima

May I begin my yarn store blogging career with a confession?

When our general manager, Roxanne, approached me about constructing our summer class schedule, I drove home with eyes wide as saucers, eyelashes fluttering uncontrollably & shoulders tensed up so far I believe I lost sight of my neck. I panicked. Three whole months of summer class projects, you say? By next week, you say?

You see, I, like many other local fiber fiends, had fallen prey to a most pernicious rumor: that, when all’s said & done, there’s only so much knitting one can do in the blistering heat of an Idaho summer. Brainstorming eight projects anyone might even feel compelled to knit this time of year felt like a task bordering on Herculean.

But the next day, as if the clouds parted and the angel choirs started to sing, appeared my yarn hero of the summer: a shipment of brand spanking new Cascade Ultra Pima, fresh off a mail truck I’m really about ready to canonize. Helping Kristin unpack that box of yarn felt more like unpacking a bottomless box of new ideas, shipped direct from a benevolent gaggle of inspiration sprites.

Summer pima
That’s not to say I ended up making every summer sample from Ultra Pima– actually, only one pima shrug made the cut. What turned out to be best about the pima, for me, was that it catalyzed this flood of ideas about warm weather knitting. Have you ever heard the saying that a single pebble in the right place can divert a whole river? Ultra Pima was my pebble!

Suddenly, the ideas started to flow. Headbands to wear at the Farmer’s Market. Bright tie-dye colored beach totes. Something pretty to keep me warm when the wind is blowing off the lake. Crocheted creatures from my summer adventures as a child. And all I needed was a soft, cottony nudge in the right direction.

Ultra pima on shelf
Ready for a nudge of your own? Alpaca Direct stocks 51 colorways of Cascade Ultra Pima, each one satiny smooth, light as a feather, and machine washable.

CNN Money featured our website

Fortune Small Business Magazine Featured Us This Month!

Reviews are import to get real customer feedbackReviews are import to get real customer feedback
Reviews are important to get real customer feedback

Check out the article this month in Fortune Small Business / CNN-Money Magazine featuring Alpaca Direct as one of the top “Innovative” retailers for our use of customer reviews and letting our customers share their experience with each other.  We value each customer’s feedback and use reviews to improve our products and our service.  When deciding what new products to carry we read through the customer reviews and get a deeper sense of the true customer experience with both the product and our service delivery.   We just sent out a separate customer satisfaction survey yesterday and 95.62% of you would refer us to a friend for online shopping.  Thanks and we’ll keep trying hard to deliver value and earn your business!

Jim and Kelley